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A Hero of Romance by Richard Marsh

Bertie marched away with the one and fivepence in his pocket


"I'll

tell Mr. Fletcher if you take my desk away."

"What, sneak, would you? As it happens, I don't care for you or Mr. Fletcher either."

Bertie tucked the desk under his arm and moved to the door. Willie flung his head upon his arms and burst into a passion of tears. At the door Bertie turned and surveyed the child.

"Here, take your desk. Think I want the thing!"

He flung the desk towards his cousin. Falling on the edge of a form, it burst open, and the contents were thrown out of it. Leaving Willie to make the best of a bad case, and pick up his ill-used property, Bertie marched away with the one and fivepence in his pocket.

That one and fivepence was all the cash he could secure. He made one or two efforts in the course of the day to increase his capital by the addition of a penny or two, but the efforts were in vain. None of the smaller boys had any money; some of the seniors he suspected were in possession of funds, but in face of their refusal to oblige him with a temporary loan he did not feel justified in taking them by the throats and putting into practice any theory of their money or their life. He suspected he might get neither; sundry knocks and bruises he might be the richer for, but they were riches for which he had no longing. One particularly gallant attack he made upon a suspected seat of capital

does not deserve to go unchronicled.

The suspected seat of capital was Mr. Shane. Chancing to pass the schoolroom on his way downstairs, a glimpse he caught of some one within brought him to a standstill. He entered; he shut the door behind him for precaution's sake, being unwilling that his friends should intrude upon what he perceived might be a delicate interview.

In a corner of the schoolroom was Mr. Shane. He sat with his elbows resting on the desk and his head resting on his hands. So absorbed was he in his own meditations that he paid no heed to Bailey's entrance. Bertie watched him in silence for a moment or two, then he made his presence known.

"I say, Mr. Shane."

Mr. Shane started and looked up. His face was very pale, there were traces of what were suspiciously like tears about his eyes, and his whole appearance was as of one who had received a sudden blow. Without speaking he stared at Bailey, whose presence evidently took him by surprise. Seeing that the other held his peace, Bertie came to the point.

"Can you lend me a shilling or two?"

"Lend you a shilling or two!"

"I daresay you'll think it like my cheek to ask you, and so it is; but--I'm in an awful hole, I really am. I know I've not been such a civil beggar as I might have been, but--I never meant any harm; and--I'm sorry about that grammar, I really am; I'd buy you another if I'd got the money, upon my word I would--I don't know what I wouldn't do for you if you'd lend me a shilling or two--especially if you'd make it three."

In spite of himself Bertie grinned, and his eyes glistened at the idea of spoiling the usher. Mr. Shane stared at him, as well he might. He spoke with a sort of little pause between each word, as though he were doubtful if he had heard aright.

"You want me to lend you a shilling or two?--me?"


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