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ridiculous—almost childish—and I could have laughed

2023-12-06 05:23:22 source:School of insects and fishauthor: nature click:704Second-rate

How much more of our--fortunately not very valuable--time we devoted to this wonderful novel of ours, I cannot exactly say. Turning the dogs'-eared leaves of the dilapidated diary that lies before me, I find the record of our later gatherings confused and incomplete. For weeks there does not appear a single word. Then comes an alarmingly business-like minute of a meeting at which there were-- "Present: Jephson, MacShaughnassy, Brown, and Self"; and at which the "Proceedings commenced at 8.30." At what time the "proceedings" terminated, and what business was done, the chronicle, however, sayeth not; though, faintly pencilled in the margin of the page, I trace these hieroglyphics: "3.14.9-2.6.7," bringing out a result of "1.8.2." Evidently an unremunerative night.

ridiculous—almost childish—and I could have laughed

On September 13th we seem to have become suddenly imbued with energy to a quite remarkable degree, for I read that we "Resolved to start the first chapter at once"--"at once" being underlined. After this spurt, we rest until October 4th, when we "Discussed whether it should be a novel of plot or of character," without--so far as the diary affords indication--arriving at any definite decision. I observe that on the same day "Mac told a story about a man who accidentally bought a camel at a sale." Details of the story are, however, wanting, which, perhaps, is fortunate for the reader.

ridiculous—almost childish—and I could have laughed

On the 16th, we were still debating the character of our hero; and I see that I suggested "a man of the Charley Buswell type."

ridiculous—almost childish—and I could have laughed

Poor Charley, I wonder what could have made me think of him in connection with heroes; his lovableness, I suppose--certainly not his heroic qualities. I can recall his boyish face now (it was always a boyish face), the tears streaming down it as he sat in the schoolyard beside a bucket, in which he was drowning three white mice and a tame rat. I sat down opposite and cried too, while helping him to hold a saucepan lid over the poor little creatures, and thus there sprang up a friendship between us, which grew.

Over the grave of these murdered rodents, he took a solemn oath never to break school rules again, by keeping either white mice or tame rats, but to devote the whole of his energies for the future to pleasing his masters, and affording his parents some satisfaction for the money being spent upon his education.

Seven weeks later, the pervadence throughout the dormitory of an atmospheric effect more curious than pleasing led to the discovery that he had converted his box into a rabbit hutch. Confronted with eleven kicking witnesses, and reminded of his former promises, he explained that rabbits were not mice, and seemed to consider that a new and vexatious regulation had been sprung upon him. The rabbits were confiscated. What was their ultimate fate, we never knew with certainty, but three days later we were given rabbit-pie for dinner. To comfort him I endeavoured to assure him that these could not be his rabbits. He, however, convinced that they were, cried steadily into his plate all the time that he was eating them, and afterwards, in the playground, had a stand-up fight with a fourth form boy who had requested a second helping.

That evening he performed another solemn oath-taking, and for the next month was the model boy of the school. He read tracts, sent his spare pocket-money to assist in annoying the heathen, and subscribed to The Young Christian and The Weekly Rambler, an Evangelical Miscellany (whatever that may mean). An undiluted course of this pernicious literature naturally created in him a desire towards the opposite extreme. He suddenly dropped The Young Christian and The Weekly Rambler, and purchased penny dreadfuls; and taking no further interest in the welfare of the heathen, saved up and bought a second-hand revolver and a hundred cartridges. His ambition, he confided to me, was to become "a dead shot," and the marvel of it is that he did not succeed.

Of course, there followed the usual discovery and consequent trouble, the usual repentance and reformation, the usual determination to start a new life.

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