Follow My leader - The Boys of Templeton
197 Pages

Follow My leader - The Boys of Templeton


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Published 08 December 2010
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Language English
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Follow My leader, by Talbot Baines Reed This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Follow My leader The Boys of Templeton Author: Talbot Baines Reed Illustrator: W.S. Stacey Release Date: April 5, 2007 [EBook #20991] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK FOLLOW MY LEADER *** Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England Talbot Baines Reed "Follow My leader" Chapter One. The Boys of Templeton. How our heroes enter upon more than one career. On a raw, damp morning in early spring, a rather forlorn group of three youngsters might have been seen on the doorstep of Mountjoy Preparatory School, casting nervous glances up and down the drive, and looking anything but a picture of the life and spirits they really represented. That they were bound on an important journey was very evident. They were muffled up in ulsters, and wore gloves and top hats—a vanity no Mountjoy boy ever succumbed to, except under dire necessity. Yet it was clear they were not homeward bound, for no trunks encumbered the lobby, and no suggestion of Dulce Domum betrayed itself in their dismal features. Nor had they been expelled, for though their looks might favour the supposition, they talked about the hour they should get back that evening, and wondered if Mrs Ashford would have supper ready for them in her own parlour. And it was equally plain that, whatever their destination might be, they were not starting on a truant’s expedition, for the said Mrs Ashford presently came out and handed them each a small parcel of sandwiches, and enjoined on them most particularly to keep well buttoned up, and not let their feet get wet. “It will be a cold drive for you, boys,” said she; “I’ve told Tom to put up at Markridge, so you will have a mile walk to warm you up before you get to Templeton.” A waggonette appeared at the end of the drive, and began to approach them. “Ah, there’s the trap; I’ll tell Mr Ashford—” Mr Ashford appeared just as the vehicle reached the door. “Well, boys, ready for the road? Good bye, and good luck. Don’t forget whose son Edward the Fifth was, Coote. Keep your heads and you’ll get on all right. I trust you not to get into mischief on the way. All right, Tom.” During this short harangue the three boys hoisted themselves, one by one, into the waggonette, and bade a subdued farewell to their preceptor, who stood on the doorstep, waving to them cheerily, until they turned a corner and found themselves actually on the road to Templeton. Not to keep the reader further in suspense as to the purpose of this important expedition, our three young gentlemen, having severally attained the responsible age of fourteen summers, and having severally absorbed into their systems as much of the scholastic pabulum of Mountjoy House as that preparatory institution was in the habit of dispensing to boys destined for a higher sphere, were this morning on their way, in awe and trembling, to the examination hall of Templeton school, there to submit themselves to an ordeal which would decide whether or not they were worthy to emerge from their probationary state and take their rank among the public schoolboys of the land. Such being the case, it is little wonder they looked fidgety as they caught their last glimpse of Mr Ashford, and realised that before they came in sight of Mountjoy again a crisis in the lives of each of them would have come and gone. “Whose son was he?” said Coote, appealingly, in about five minutes. His voice sounded quite startling, after the long, solemn silence which had gone before. His two companions stared at him, afterwards at one another; then one of them said— “I forget.” “Whose son was he?” said Coote, turning with an air of desperation to the other. “Richard the Third’s,” said the latter. Coote mused, and inwardly repeated a string of names. “Doesn’t sound right,” said he. “Are you sure, Dick?” “Who else could it be?” said the young gentleman addressed as Dick, whose real name was Richardson. “Hanged if I know,” said the unhappy Coote, proceeding to write an R and a 3 on his thumbnail with a pencil. “It doesn’t look right I believe because your own name’s Richardson, you think everybody else is Richard’s son too.” And the perpetrator of this very mild joke bent his head over his learned thumb-nail, and frowned. It was a point of honour at Mountjoy always to punish a joke summarily, whether good, bad, or indifferent. For a short time, consequently, the paternity of Edward the Fifth was lost sight of, as was also Coote himself, in the performance of the duty which devolved on Richardson and his companion. This matter of business being at last satisfactorily settled, and Tom, the driver, who had considerately pulled up by the road-side during the “negotiations,” being ordered to “forge ahead,” the party returned to its former attitude of gloomy anticipation. “It’s a precious rum thing,” said Richardson, “neither you nor Heathcote can remember a simple question like that. I’d almost forgot it, myself.” “I know I shan’t remember anything when the time comes,” said Heathcote. “I said my Latin Syntax over to Ashford, without a mistake, yesterday, and I’ve forgotten every word of it now.” “What I funk is the vivâ voce Latin prose,” said Coote. “I say, Dick, what’s the gender of ‘Amnis, a river?’” Dick looked knowing, and laughed. “None of your jokes,” said he, “you don’t catch me that way—‘Amnis,’ a city, is neuter.” Coote’s face lengthened, as he made a further note on his other thumb-nail. “I could have sworn it was a river,” said he. “I say, whatever shall I do? I don’t know how I shall get through it.” “Through what—the river?” said Heathcote. “Bless you, you’ll get through swimmingly.” There was a moment’s pause. Richardson looked at Coote; Coote looked at Richardson, and between them they thought they saw a joke. Tom pulled up by the road-side once more, while Heathcote arranged with his creditors on the floor of the waggonette. When, at length, the order to proceed was given, that trusty Jehu ventured on a mild expostulation. “Look’ee here, young gem’an,” said he, touching his hat. “You’ve got to get to Templeton by