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“Yes, there will. In spite of any languid despot—I don't care, Harefel. I will tell these fellows what I think. I won't be silenced.”
" Come, come," said the Captain, quietly, “tell us what you want, and don't jaw about it." He yawned, and turned again to his paper.
“I want," said the orator, rather dashed by the despot's coolness—“I want the library committee chosen by the whole House. And I say that those rules must be taken down, because they were made by you, and nobody elected you.”
Loyd had been growing very angry during the progress of this speech. This method of demanding change seemed to him a monstrous novelty, and full of unimagined perils. He had a great respect for order, and none for rhetoric. That fellows in fifth form should head a rebellion of lower boys was bad enough; that one of them should make a speech was unpardonable. He could more: easily forgive the personal allusion to his muscles, of which he was somewhat proud, than this spouting, which seemed to fill the library with the atmosphere of a demagogue's tavern. At one point of the oration he had stepped forward with the half - formed purpose of stopping the speaker's mouth by flinging him out of window; but Keri
sen had checked him by touching him with the foot which he was lazily swinging. Nevertheless, Loyd could not imitate his friend's coolness ; and feeling that his power lay rather in deeds than words, he broke the pause which followed Dale's speech by the short question, “ Who's going to take down the rules ?" He planted his back against the paper, squared his shoulders, and shook his head like a bull. Dale made a short step forward, trembling with excitement, and with nerves shaken by the animal strength before him. As he hesitated, Aubrey and Harefel both sprang forward. The former in his eagerness fell over Kerisen's leg, which was languidly, but perhaps intentionally, obtruded. The latter, who fervently wished that the row was over, but who would not have his cousin's courage doubted, stepped forward, flushed but resolute, and stretching his arm up over Loyd's shoulder, laid his hand on the paper of rules. As he did so, the big fellow struck him with his open hand a sounding blow on the side of the head, The boy went headlong over a chair, tearing down the rules as he fell. There was a shout of triumph, and a cry of “ Shame!” In an instant Dale had darted forward like a tiger, and struck Loyd with all his force on the cheek. The fist glanced off without much effect, and the assaulted athlete touched the place with a comical expression of astonishment. Then he strode forward towards his opponent, who faced him fiercely with wild eyes and trembling limbs. Then he stopped, looked at Dale curiously, and then he burst out laughing. There was a murmur of applause from the lower boys. After all, he was a hero, a real swell. Kerisen took advantage of the moment. Rising with easy grace, as if to be rid of a tedious business, he laid his hand on his friend's big shoulder, and said, “Don't let us have a row in the House. You fellows don't mean any harm. No doubt, you will all be Captains of the House some day, and a horrid bore you will find it.” Here there was a general laugh, which proved the crisis over. “ As to these rules,” the Captain went on, with a faint smile, "you had better leave the management of the library to us, who know all about it. It is no great pleasure. If this will suit you, we will abolish Rule V." This statement was received with general applause. An exclamation of Loyd was checked by the pressure of the hand on his shoulder. Dale was sitting in a chair very pale, and unable to speak. The majority, who were not quite clear about the right of suffrage, believed that they had got all which they wanted. The Captain knew that order could be enforced without a written statement that it would be. All parties appeared satisfied, and the great library row was at an end. When the boys talked it over afterwards, most of them agreed that Dale had made a mess of the affair, and that it was doubtful whether even a member of Parliament would have spoken better than Kerisen.
As Dale was sitting weary and dispirited in his room on the day following the crisis, his cousin came in, bright and happy. It often seemed to Dale that Harefel brought with him sunlight and pleasant thoughts.
“Old Loyd has been so awfully jolly," he said; "he came and begged my pardon about yesterday.”
" It was very good of him not to kill me,” said Irvine, gloomily.
“He told me to tell you that he takes a licking,” said Ned, laughing. “I am glad it is all well over. Loyd says that the House must pull together; and I think he is right. Don't you ?”
Dale made no answer, but looked up with a faint smile, remembering Sir Joseph's trust in phrases. Harefel had something more to say-something which was hard to express. He stood awkwardly,
and looked away from his cousin. He put his hand in his pocket, and took it out. He pulled a cap off the door, and hung it up again. Then he cleared his throat, and swinging round suddenly, laid his hands on Dale's shoulders, and looked down into his face.
"I want to say, old fellow, that I shall never forget how you stood up for me.”
Dale was strangely moved. He looked up at his cousin with swimming eyes.
“I would do anything in the world for you,” he said.