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“Now, Sir, what make you here ? "
rough hair cropped short and patched boots, but, as to the rest of his clothes, dressed in the brand-new livery of a page.
Sitting with his back to the road, and intent on the preparations for the game, this inferior person did not notice Geoffrey till that young gentleman, annoyed at being delayed, especially as he feared his companions were waiting for him, cried out roughly, and, if he had not been a young gentleman, I should have said rudely
“Get off that gate!”
The other boy looked round, and when he saw who addressed him in this style, was by no means slow to comply. Far be it from him to stand in the way of one of these finely-dressed players whose proceedings he was watching with such interest and admiration! He was willing to help rather than hinder the game. So he at once got off his perch, and let himself down into the field, that Geoffrey might have free passage. But to Geoffrey, in his impatience, it seemed that the fellow was purposely slow and obstinate; besides, he thought that when a vulgar youth had the impudence to trespass on their gate, the least he could do was to be deferential enough to open it for one of his
superiors. Instead of offering to do anything of the kind, the boy stood stupidly within a foot or two of the gate, and actually ventured to stare at the gorgeous array of the new comer, who had now unbuttoned his overcoat and revealed himself in all his magnificence.
There was plenty of room for Geoffrey to open the gate and slip in without meddling with the poor lad, who, after all, meant well and was doing no great harm where he was; but moved by contempt for this awkward lout and just indignation at such an invasion of the sacred football field by an unauthorized and ungenteel person, Geoffrey swung the gate forward so violently that it struck the other boy on the arm and nearly knocked him over. a plain hint to get well out of the way of such important individuals as Geoffrey Shaw; but the recipient scarcely took it in good part. Though he was only a “boy in buttons," he had “the passions of his kind"; and his kind, in all classes of life, are not remarkable for cheerfully turning the left cheek to the smiter.
"What did you do that for ?” he cried angrily, just as if he hadn't been speaking to one of his betters.
On what compulsion, must I, tell me that ?"
“What are you doing in our field ?” asked Geoffrey.
“I was only wanting to see the game," growled the page.
“You have no business here. Walk out, and look sharp about it."
Who'll make me?” “I will, if you don't get off at once.” “ Try it !”
The page moved a step forward; Geoffrey stood still. The two boys were close to each other, and standing face to face with that expression of the eye which in bears and lions and other vertebrate animals commonly means fighting. Both were about the same size, and if they had only been two or three years younger, they would perhaps have come to blows on the spot. But restraining influences were at work. Geoffrey, in chivalric disdain, scarcely cared to begin a combat in which he felt sure of coming off best, and did not much value the cheap glory of beating a clumsy cad; besides, it would delay the game; so he stood calm and haughty with his hands in his pockets, and only his eye on the watch for the adversary's movements. The page had clenched his rough fist ; but he was heavily weighted by a sense of his professional character, so to speak. He had not yet been able to feel at ease under the consciousness of wearing, for the first time in his life, a high hat with a cockade in it. In his natural wrath he still bethought himself that he had just become a boy in buttons, who was to enter upon his first place at three o'clock that afternoon; and though he was as yet sadly ignorant of the manners and customs prevalent in his new sphere of life, he had wisdom enough to guess that his employers would hardly approve of his presenting himself in their service with a black eye and a swollen lip. So he lowered his hands and shuffled off, keeping his face to the enemy, however, and backed out of the gate just as Geoffrey's schoolfellows began shouting to him to make haste.
“ If you were not such a stupid cad, you would have the politeness to shut the gate, at least,” said Geoffrey, feeling it proper that he should have the last word.
The page boy did shut the gate, for he was not unwilling to be serviceable to any reasonable extent. But he consoled himself by remarking audibly,
“I can hardly forbear hurling things at him.”
"I'll punch your ’ead for you, some day, though you think yourself such a swell!”
“And I'll kick you out in about half a second the next time I find you in our field, you young flunkey,” cried Geoffrey, a little nettled out of his dignified air of contempt. But there was no more time to be lost on such a fellow; he turned round and ran off to the other end of the field, where the players were waiting for him.
The other boy had almost picked up a lump of mud to throw after his reviler, but he thought better of it. To enter upon the work of life, even though it be only as a boy in buttons, is a serious step, and brings a certain sense of responsibility, so that young “cads,” as Geoffrey would call them, are often found to have more practical wisdom and more true manliness than public-school boys of the same age, with all their Latin and Greek, which, indeed, is little enough in
Circumstances had already drilled into our page the useful lesson, that in this world we cannot always safely indulge the passions we have a mind to, but, in vulgar phrase, must manage to lump a great deal that we don't like. So he tried to stomach his re