The Young Buglers - G. A. Henty - ebook
Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1880

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G. A. Henty

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Opis ebooka The Young Buglers - G. A. Henty

The Young Buglers, A Tale of the Peninsular War is a book by British author G.A. Henty. It was published by Blackie and Son Ltd, London. It tells of the Peninsula War through the eyes of two orphaned brothers, Tom and Peter Scudamore.

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Fragment ebooka The Young Buglers - G. A. Henty

About
Preface
Chapter 1 - A COACHING ADVENTURE.

About Henty:

George Alfred Henty (8 December 1832 – 16 November 1902), was a prolific English novelist, special correspondent and Imperialist. He is best known for his historical adventure stories that were popular in the late 19th century. His works include Out on the Pampas (1871), The Young Buglers (1880), With Clive in India (1884) and Wulf the Saxon (1895).

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Preface

To my Young Readers.

I remember that, as a boy, I regarded any attempt to mix instruction with amusement as being as objectionable a practice as the administration of powder in jam; but I think that this feeling arose from the fact that in those days books contained a very small share of amusement and a very large share of instruction. I have endeavored to avoid this, and I hope that the accounts of battles and sieges, illustrated as they are by maps, will be found as interesting as the lighter parts of the story. As in my tale, "The Young Franc-Tireurs," I gave the outline of the Franco-German war, so I have now endeavored to give the salient features of the great Peninsular struggle. The military facts, with the names of generals and regiments, the dates and places, are all strictly accurate, and any one who has read with care the story of "The Young Buglers" could pass an examination as to the leading events of the Peninsular war.

Yours truly,


Chapter 1 A COACHING ADVENTURE.

Had any of the boys in the lower forms of Eton in the year 1808, been asked who were the most popular boys of their own age, they would have been almost sure to have answered, without the slightest hesitation, Tom and Peter Scudamore, and yet it is probable that no two boys were more often in disgrace. It was not that they were idle, upon the contrary, both were fairly up in their respective forms, but they were constantly getting into mischief of one sort or another; yet even with the masters they were favorites, there was never anything low, disgraceful, or ungentlemanly in their escapades, and they could be trusted never to attempt to screen themselves from the consequences by prevarication, much less by lying. If the masters heard that a party of youngsters had been seen far out of bounds, they were pretty sure that the Scudamores were among them; a farmer came in from a distance to complain that his favorite tree had been stripped of its apples—for in those days apples were looked upon by boys as fair objects of sport,—if the head-master's favorite white poodle appeared dyed a deep blue, if Mr. Jones, the most unpopular master in the school, upon coming out of his door trod upon a quantity of tallow smeared all over the doorstep, and was laid up for a week in consequence, there was generally a strong suspicion that Tom and Peter Scudamore were concerned in the matter. One of their tricks actually came to the ears of the Provost himself, and caused quite a sensation in the place, but in this case, fortunately for them, they escaped undetected.

One fine summer afternoon they were out on the water with two or three other boys of their own age, when a barge was seen ahead at some short distance from the shore. She was apparently floating down with the stream, and the fact that a horse was proceeding along the towing-path a little way ahead was not noticed, as the rope was slack and was trailing under water. The boys, therefore, as they were rowing against stream, steered their boat to pass inside of her. Just as they came abreast of the horse a man on the barge suddenly shouted to the rider of the horse to go on. He did so, the rope tightened, rose from the water just under the bow of the boat, and in another minute the boys were struggling in the water. All were good swimmers, and would have cared little for the ducking had it occurred accidentally, but the roars of laughter of the bargeman, and the chaff with which he assailed them as they scrambled up the bank, showed clearly enough that they had been upset maliciously. The boys were furious, and one or two proposed that they should report the case, but Tom Scudamore pointed out that the bargeman would of course declare that it was a pure accident, and that the boys were themselves in fault in not looking out whether the barge was being towed, before going inside her, and so nothing would come of reporting.

The boat was dragged ashore and emptied, and in a few minutes they were rowing back towards the town. The distance was but short, and they did not repass the barge before they reached their boat-house. The brothers had exchanged a few words in a low voice on the way, and instead of following the example of the others, and starting at a run for the house where they boarded to change their clothes, they walked down by the river and saw that the barge had moored up against the bank, at a short distance below the bridge. They watched for a time, and saw the bargeman fasten up the hatch of the little cabin and go ashore.

That night two boys lowered themselves with a rope from the window of one of the dames-houses, and walked rapidly down to the river. There were a few flickering oil lamps burning, and the one or two old watchmen were soundly asleep in their boxes. They did not meet a soul moving upon their way to the object of the expedition, the barge that had run them down. Very quietly they slipped on board, satisfied themselves by listening at the half-open hatch to the snoring within that their enemy was there, then loosened the moorings so that they could be thrown off at a moment's notice.

"Now, Peter," the elder brother said, "open our lantern. The night is quite still. You hold your hand behind it, so that the light will not fall on our faces, and I will look whether he is only wrapped up in a blanket or has a regular bed; we must not risk setting the place on fire. Get the crackers ready."

A dark lantern was now taken out from under Tom's jacket, and was found to be still alight, an important matter, for striking a light with flint and steel was in those days a long and tedious business, and then opening it Tom threw the light into the cabin. It was a tiny place, and upon a bench, wrapped up in a blanket, the bargeman was lying. As the light fell on his eyes, he moved, and a moment afterwards started up with an oath, and demanded who was there.

No answer came in words, but half a dozen lighted crackers were thrown into the cabin, when they began to explode with a tremendous uproar. In an instant the hatch was shut down and fastened outside. The rope was cast off, and in another minute she was floating down stream with the crackers still exploding inside her, but with their noise almost deadened by the tremendous outcry of shouts and howls, and by a continued and furious banging at the hatch.

"There is no fear of his being choked, Tom, I hope?"

"No, I expect he's all right," Tom said, "it will be pretty stifling for a bit no doubt, but there's a chimney hole and the smoke will find its way out presently. The barge will drift down to the weir before it brings up, there is not enough stream out for there to be any risk of her upsetting, else we daren't have turned her adrift."

The next day the whole town was talking of the affair, and in the afternoon the bargeman went up to the head-master and accused one of the boys of an attempt to murder him.

Greatly surprised, the Provost demanded what reason the man had for suspecting the boys, and the bargeman acknowledged that he had that afternoon upset a boat with four or five boys in her. "They would not bear you malice on that account," the Provost said; "they don't think much of a swim such weather as this, unless indeed you did it on purpose."

The man hesitated in his answer, and the Provost continued, "You evidently did do it on purpose, and in that case, although it was carried too far, for I hear you had a very narrow escape of being stifled, still you brought it upon yourself, and I hope it will be a lesson to you not to risk the lives of Eton boys for your amusement. I know nothing about this affair, but if you can point out the boys you suspect I will of course inquire into it."

The bargeman departed, grumbling that he did not know one of the young imps from another, but if he did find them, he'd wring their necks for them to a certainty. The Provost had some inquiries made as to the boys who had been upset, and whether they had all been in at lock-up time; finding that they had all answered to their names, he made no further investigation.

This affair had taken place in the summer before this story begins, on the 15th of October, 1808. On that day a holiday was granted in consequence of the head-master's birthday, and the boys set off, some to football, some for long walks in the country.

The Scudamores, with several of their friends, strolled down the towing-path for some miles, and walked back by the road. As they entered their dames-house on their return, Tom Scudamore said for the twentieth time, "Well, I would give anything to be a soldier, instead of having to go in and settle down as a banker—it's disgusting!"

As they entered a boy came up. "Oh, Scudamore, Jackson's been asking for you both. It's something particular, for he has been out three or four times, and he wanted to send after you, but no one knew where you had gone."

The boys at once went into the master's study, where they remained all the afternoon. A short time after they went in, Mr. Jackson came out and said a word or two to one of the senior boys, and the word was quickly passed round, that there was to be no row, for the Scudamores had just heard of the sudden death of their father. That evening, Mr. Jackson had beds made up for them in his study, so that they might not have the pain of having to talk with the other boys. The housekeeper packed up their things, and next morning early they started by the coach for London.

Mr. Scudamore, the father of the young Etonians, was a banker. He was the elder of two brothers, and had inherited his father's business, while his brother had gone into the army. The banker had married the daughter of a landowner in the neighborhood, and had lived happily and prosperously until her death, seven years before this story begins. She had borne him three children, the two boys, now fifteen and fourteen years old respectively, and a girl, Rhoda, two years younger than Peter. The loss of his wife afflicted him greatly, and he received another shock five years later by the death of his brother, Colonel Scudamore, to whom he was much attached. From the time of his wife's death he had greatly relaxed in his attention to his business, and after his brother's death he left the management almost entirely in the hands of his cashier, in whom he had unlimited confidence. This confidence was wholly misplaced. For years the cashier had been carrying on speculation upon his own account with the monies of the bank. Gradually and without exciting the least suspicion he had realized the various securities held by the bank, and at last gathering all the available cash he, one Saturday afternoon, locked up the bank and fled.

On Monday it was found that he was missing; Mr. Scudamore went down to the bank, and had the books taken into his parlor for examination. Some hours afterwards a clerk went in and found his master lying back in his chair insensible. A doctor on arriving pronounced it to be apoplexy. He never rallied, and a few hours afterwards the news spread through the country that Scudamore, the banker, was dead, and that the bank had stopped payment.

People could believe the former item of news, but were incredulous as to the latter. Scudamore's bank was looked upon in Lincolnshire as at least as safe as the Bank of England itself. But the sad truth was soon clear to all, and for awhile there was great distress of mind among the people, for many miles round, for most of them had entrusted all their savings of years to the Scudamores' bank. When affairs were wound up, however, it was found that things were not quite so bad as had been feared. Mr. Scudamore had a considerable capital employed in the bank, and the sale of his handsome house and estate realized a large sum, so that eventually every one received back the money they had entrusted to the bank; but the whole of the capital and the profits of years of successful enterprise had vanished, and it was calculated by the executors that the swindler must have appropriated at least 80,000_l._

For the first month after their father's death the boys stayed with the doctor who had long attended the family and had treated all their ailments since they were born. In the great loss of their father the loss of their fortune affected them but little, except that they were sorry to be obliged to leave Eton; for the interest of the little fortune which their mother had brought at her marriage, and which was all that now remained to them, would not have been sufficient to pay for their expenses there, and indeed such an education would have been out of place for two boys who had to make their own way in life. At the end of this month it was arranged that they were to go to their only existing relative, an elder sister of Mr. Scudamore. The boys had never seen her, for she had not for many years been friends with her brother.

The letter which she had written to the doctor, announcing her willingness to receive them, made the boys laugh, although it did not hold out prospects of a very pleasant future. "I am, of course," she said, "prepared to do my duty. No one can say that I have ever failed in my duty. My poor brother quarreled with me. It was his duty to apologize. He did not do so. Had it been my duty to apologize I should have done so. As I was right, and he was wrong, it was clearly not my duty. I shall now do my duty to my niece and nephews. Yet I may be allowed to say that I regret much that they are not all nieces. I do not like boys. They are always noisy, and not always clean. They do not wipe their shoes, they are always breaking things, they go about with all sorts of rubbish and dirt in their pockets, their hair is always rough, they are fond of worrying cats, and other cruel games. Altogether they are objectionable. Had my brother made up his mind to leave his children in my charge, it was clearly his duty to have had girls instead of boys. However, it is not because other people fail in their duty that I should fail in mine. Therefore, let them come to me this day fortnight. By that time I shall have got some strong and suitable furniture in the room that my nephews will occupy, and shall have time to make other arrangements. This letter will, if all goes well, reach you, I believe, in three days after the date of posting, and they will take the same time coming here. Assure them that I am prepared to do my duty, and that I hope that they will make a serious effort at doing theirs. Ask my nephews, upon the occasion of their first arrival, to make as little noise as they can, because my cat, Minnie, is very shy, and if she is scared at the first meeting, she will take a very long time to get accustomed to them. I also particularly beg that they do not, as they come up to the house, throw stones at any of the pigeons who may be resting upon the roof, for the slates were all set right a few weeks ago, and I am sure I do not wish to have the slater here again; they were hanging about for ten days the last time they came. I do not know that I have anything else to say."

The boys received the reading of this singular epistle with shouts of laughter.

"Poor aunt," Tom said. "What does she think of us that she can suppose that, upon our very first arrival, we should come in like wild Indians, throwing stones at her pigeons, and frightening her Minnie into fits. Did you ever hear such an extraordinary idea, Doctor Jarvis?"

"At any rate, boys," the doctor said, when the laughter had ceased, "you may find your aunt a little peculiar, but she is evidently determined to do her duty to you, and you must do yours to her, and not play more pranks than you can help. As to you, Rhoda, you will evidently be in high favor, and as you are fortunately a quiet little lady, you will, I have no doubt, get on with her very well."

"I hope so," Rhoda said, smiling, "you see she means to be kind, though she does write funny letters, and, at any rate, there are Minnie and the pigeons; it sounds nice, you know. Do you know what aunt's place is like, Dr. Jarvis, and how to get there from here."

"No, my dear, I never was in that part of England. It is close to Marlborough that she lives, a very pretty country, I believe. There is, of course, no way to go across from here. You must go up to London by coach from here, and then to Marlborough by the western coach. I will write to my brother James in town, where you stopped at night as you came through, boys, and I know that he will take you all in for the night, and see that you go off right in the morning."

"You're very kind, indeed, Doctor Jarvis. I do not know how to thank you for all you have done for us," Tom said earnestly, and the others cordially echoed the sentiment.

The day before starting the doctor had a long talk with the boys. He pointed out to them that their future now depended upon themselves alone. They must expect to find many unpleasantnesses in their way, but they must take their little trials pleasantly, and make the best of everything. "I have no fear as to Rhoda," their kind friend said. "She has that happy, amiable, and quiet disposition that is sure to adapt itself to all circumstances. I have no doubt she will become a favorite with your aunt. Try to keep out of scrapes, boys. You know you are rather fond of mischief, and your aunt will not be able to understand it. If you get into any serious difficulty write to me, you can rely upon always finding a friend in me."

The journey to London was no novelty to the boys, but Rhoda enjoyed it immensely. Her place had been taken inside, but most of the journey she rode outside with her brothers. She was greatly amazed at the bustle and noise of London, and was quite confused at the shouting and crowd at the place where the coach drew up, for two or three other coaches had just arrived from other directions. Mr. Jarvis had sent his man-servant to meet them, their luggage was sent direct to the booking-office from which the coach started for Marlborough, and the servant carried a small bag containing their night things. It was evening when they got in, and Rhoda could scarcely keep her eyes open long enough to have tea, for the coach had been two days and nights upon the road. The next day they stayed in town, and Mrs. Jarvis took them out to see the sights of London—the Tower and St. Paul's, and Westminster Abbey, and the beasts at Exeter Change. The boys had twice before spent a whole day in London, their father having, upon two occasions, made his visits to town to fit in with their going up to school, but to Rhoda it was all new, and very, very wonderful.

The next day the coach started early for Marlborough. It was to take rather over twenty-four hours on the way. As before, Rhoda rode outside with her brothers until the evening, but then, instead of going inside, where there were five passengers already, she said, as the night was so fine and warm, she would rather remain with them. They were sitting behind the coachman, there were two male passengers upon the same seat with them, and another in the box seat by the coachman. The conversation turned, as in those days it was pretty sure to turn, upon highwaymen. Several coaches had been lately stopped by three highwaymen, who worked together, and were reported to be more reckless than the generality of their sort. They had shot a coachman who refused to stop, the week before on Hounslow Heath, they had killed a guard on the great north road, and they had shot two passengers who resisted, near Exeter.

Tom and Peter were greatly amused by observing that the passenger who sat next to them, and who, at the commencement of the conversation, showed a brace of heavy pistols with which he was provided, with much boasting as to what he should do if the coach were attacked, when he heard of the fate of the passengers who had resisted, became very quiet indeed, and presently took an opportunity, when he thought that he was not observed, of slipping his pistols under the tarpaulin behind him.

"I hope those dreadful men won't stop our coach," Rhoda said.

"They won't hurt you if they do, Rhoda," Tom said assuringly. "I think it would be rather a lark. I say, Peter," he went on in a whisper, "I think we might astonish them with those pistols that coward next to you has hid behind him."

"I should just think so," Peter said; "the bargee at Eton would be nothing to it."

The hours went slowly on. Rhoda and the boys dozed uncomfortably against each other and the baggage behind them, until they were suddenly roused by a shout in the road beside them: "Stand for your lives!"

The moon was up, and they could see that there were three horsemen. One galloped to the horses' heads, and seized the rein of one of the leaders, the others rode by the coach.

The first answer to the challenge was a discharge from the blunderbuss of the guard, which brought one of the highwaymen from his horse.

The other, riding up to the side of the coach, fired at the guard, and a loud cry told that the shot had taken effect. In another moment the fellow was by the side of the coachman.

"Hold up!" he said, "or I will blow your brains out!"

The coachman did as he was ordered, and indeed the man at the leader's head had almost succeeded in stopping them. The passenger next to the boys had, at the first challenge, again seized his pistols, and the boys thought that he was going to fire after all.

"Lie down at our feet, Rhoda, quick!" Tom said, "and don't move till I tell you." The fate of the guard evidently frightened away the short-lived courage of the passenger, for, as the coachman again pulled up, he hastily thrust the pistols in behind him.

"Get down, every one of you," the highwayman shouted.

"Lie still, Rhoda," Tom whispered. "Now, Peter, get in underneath the tarpaulin."

This was done as the passengers descended. The luggage was not so heavily piled as usual, and the boys found plenty of room beneath the tarpaulin.

"Now, Peter, you take one of these pistols and give me the other. Now peep out. The moon is hidden, which is a good thing; now, look here, you shall shoot that fellow standing down below, who is swearing at the ladies inside for not getting out quicker. I'll take a shot at that fellow standing in front of the horse's heads."

"Do you think you can hit him, Tom?"

"I have not the least idea, but I can try; and if you hit the other one, the chances are he'll bolt, whether I hit him or not. Open the tarpaulin at the side so as to see well, and rest the pistol upon something. You must take a good shot, Peter, for if you miss him we shall be in a mess."

"All right," Peter said, in a whisper, "I can almost touch him with the pistol."

In loud and brutal tones the highwayman now began to order the frightened ladies to give up their watches and rings, enforcing his commands with terrible curses. When suddenly a pistol flashed out just behind him, and he fell off his horse with a ball through his shoulder.

Tom's shot, though equally well intended, was not so truly aimed. The highwayman had dismounted, and was standing just in front of the leaders, so that Tom had a fair view of him between them. The boys had both occasionally fired their father's pistols, for, in those days, each householder in the country always kept loaded pistols in his room, but his skill was not sufficient to make sure of a man at that distance. The bullet flew past at two feet to the left of his head. But its effect was scarcely less startling than if it had actually hit him, for, in its passage, it passed through the ear of the off leader. The horse made a start at the sudden pain, and then dashed forward. The rest of the team, already alarmed by the shot, followed her lead; before the startled highwayman could get out of the way they were upon him, in another instant he was under their heels, and the coach gave a sudden lurch as it passed over his body.

"Lie still, Rhoda, a little longer; it's all right, but the horses have run away," Tom exclaimed, as he scrambled forward, and caught hold of the reins, which the coachman had tied to the rail of the seat as he got down. "Catch hold of the reins, Peter, and help me pull."

Peter did so; but the united strength of the boys was wholly unequal to arresting the headlong flight of the horses.

Fortunately the highwaymen had chosen a low bottom between two hills, to arrest the coach, consequently the road was up a hill of moderate steepness. The boys hoped that the horses would stop when they got to the top; but they went on with redoubled speed.

"This is something like going it," Peter said.

"Isn't it, Peter? They know their way, and we ain't lively to meet anything in the road. They will stop at their stable. At any rate, it's no use trying to steer them. Here, Rhoda dear, get up; are you very much frightened?"

Rhoda still lay quite still, and Peter, holding on with difficulty, for the coach quite rocked with the speed at which they were going, climbed over to her, and stooped, down. "Shall I help you up, Rhoda?"

"No, please, I would rather stop here till it's all over."

Fortunately the hill, up to the Tillage where they made the change, was a steep one, and the horses broke into a trot before they reached the top, and, in another minute drew up at the door of the inn. The astonishment of the ostlers at seeing the horses covered with lather, and coachbox tenanted only by two boys, behind whom a little white face now peered out, was extreme, and they were unable to get beyond an ejaculation of hallo! expressive of a depth of incredulous astonishment impossible to be rendered by words.

"Look here," Tom said, with all the composure, and much of the impudence, which then, as now, characterized the young Etonian, "don't be staring like a pack of stuck pigs. You had better get the fresh horses in, and drive back to the bottom, about four miles from here. There has been regular row with some fellows, and I expect two or three are killed. Now, just put up the ladder; I want to get my sister down."

Almost mechanically the men put the ladder up to the coach, and the boys and Rhoda got down.

"Do you say the coach has been attacked by highwaymen in Burnet bottom?"

"I don't know anything about Burnet bottom," Tom said. "It was a bottom about four miles off. There were three of them. The guard shot one of them, and the others shot the guard. Then we were stopped by them, and every one had to get down. Then the horses ran away, and here we are."

"Then there are two of those highwayman chaps with the passengers," one of the men said.

"You need not be afraid of them," Tom said carelessly; "one got shot, and I don't know about the other, but the wheel of the coach went over him, so I do not suppose he will be much trouble. Now, if I were you, I should not stand staring any more, but should make haste and take the coach back."

"Hullo, look at this grey," one of the men exclaimed, as, at last understanding what had taken place, they began to bustle about to change horses. "He's got blood all over the side of his head. One of those scoundrels has shot him through the ear."

Tom burst out laughing. "I am the scoundrel!" he said. "Peter, that explains why we went off so suddenly. I missed the fellow, and hit the leader in the ear. However, it comes to the same thing. By the way, we may as well take the pistols."

So saying, he ran up the ladder and brought down the pistols. By this time the fresh horses were in.

"I can't make nought of it," one of the ostlers said, climbing up into the coachman's seat. "Jump up, Bill and Harry. It's the rummiest go I ever heard of in coaching."

"Landlady, can you get us some tea at once, please," Tom said, going up to the landlady, who was looking on from the door of the house with an astonishment equal to that of the men at the whole affair; "as quickly as you can, for my sister looks regularly done up with fatigue, and then, please let her lie down till the coach is ready to start again. It will be three quarters of an hour before it is back, and then, I daresay, there will be a lot of talking before they go on. I should think they will be wanting breakfast. At any rate, an hour's rest will do you good, Rhoda."

Rhoda was too worn out with the over-excitement even to answer.
Fortunately there was hot water in order to make hot grog for the
outriders of the coach, some tea was quickly made, and in ten minutes
Rhoda was fast asleep on the landlady's bed.

Tom and Peter expressed their desire for something substantial in the way of eating, for the morning had now fairly broken. The landlady brought in some cold meat, upon which the boys made a vigorous attack, and then, taking possession of two benches, they dozed off until the coach arrived.

It had but three horses, for one had been sent off to carry Bill, the ostler, at full speed to the town at which they had last changed horses, to fetch a doctor and the constable. The other two men had remained with the guard, who was shot in the hip, and the highwayman, whose collar-bone was broken by Peter's shot. The fellow shot by the guard, and the other one, whom the coach wheels had passed over, were both dead.

"There's the coach, Tom."

"What a nuisance, Peter, they'll all be wanting to talk now, and I am just so comfortably off. Well, I suppose it's no use trying to get any more sleep."

So saying, they roused themselves, and went out to the door just as the coach drew up.

There was a general shout of greeting from the passengers, which was stopped, however, by a peremptory order from the coachman.

He was a large, stout man, with a face red from the effects of wind and exposure. "Jack," he said, to a man who was standing near, for the news of the attack upon the coach had quickly spread, and all the villagers were astir to see it come in. "Jack, hold the leader's head. Thomas, open the door, and let the insides out. Gents," he said solemnly, when this was done, "I'm going to do what isn't a usual thing by no means, in fact, I ain't no precedence for doing it; but then, I do not know any precedence for this here business altogether. I never did hear of a coachman standing up on his box to give a cheer, no, not to King George himself; but, then, King George never polished off two highwaymen all to himself, leastway, not as I've heard tell of. Now, these two young gents have done this. They have saved my coach and my passengers from getting robbed, and so I'm going to give 'em three cheers. I'll trouble you to help me up into the box seat, gentlemen."

Assisted by the other passengers, the driver now gravely climbed up into the box seat, steadied himself there by placing one hand upon the shoulder of the passenger next him, took off his low-crowned hat, and said. "Follow me, gents, with three cheers for those young gents standing there; better plucked ones I never came across, and I've traveled a good many miles in my day."

So saying, he gave three stentorian cheers, which were echoed by all the passengers and villagers.

Then there was a momentary silence, and Tom, who, with his brother, had been feeling very uncomfortable, although rather inclined to laugh, seeing that he was expected to say something, said, "Thank you all very much; but we'd much rather you hadn't done it."

Then there was a general laugh and movement, and a general pressing forward of the passengers to shake the boys by the hand. The driver was assisted down from his elevated position, and got off the coach and came up to them. "That's the first speech I ever made, young gentlemen, and, if I know myself, it will be the last; but, you see, I was druv to it. You're a good sort, that's certain. What will you drink?"

The boys declared for beer, and drank solemnly with the driver, imitating him in finishing their mugs at a draught, and turning them topsy-turvy. There was now a great deal of talking, and many questions were asked. Tom and Peter modestly said that there was really nothing to tell. They saw that the gentleman next to them intended to use his pistols; but, not seeing a good opportunity, put them down behind the tarpaulin, and the thought occurred to them that, by slipping behind it, they would get a good chance of a certain shot. Accordingly, they had fired, and then the horse had run away; and there was an end of it. There was nothing extraordinary in the whole matter.

"At any rate, my boys, you have saved me from a loss of a couple of hundred pounds which I had got hid in my boots, but which those fellows would have been sure to have have discovered," one of the passengers said.

There was a general chorus of satisfaction at many watches and trinkets saved, and then the first passenger went on,—

"I propose, gentlemen and ladies, that when we get to the end of our journey we make a subscription, according to the amount we have saved, and that we get each of these young gentlemen a brace of the very best pistols that can be bought. If they go on as they have begun, they will find them useful."

There was a general exclamation of approval, and one of the ladies, who had been an inside passenger, said, "And I think we ought to give a handsome ring to their sister as a memorial through life. Of course, she had not so much to do as her brothers, but she had the courage to keep still, and she had to run the risk, both of being shot, and of being upset by the coach just as they did."

This also was unanimously approved, and, after doing full justice to the breakfast set before them, the party again took their places. Rhoda being carried down asleep, by the landlady, and placed in the coach, one of the inside passengers getting out to make room for her, and she was laid, curled up, on the seat, with her head in a lady's lap, and slept quietly, until, to her astonishment, she was woke up, and told that she was in Marlborough.