Chapter 64974190

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-03-19
Page Number0
Word Count1557
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Golden Link
article text



The longest lane has a turning, and the biggest bucket in due time becomes emptied. Phillip Armstrong had applied himself diligently and successfully to his studies at Ashfield, and the day had arrived when he was to bid farewell to the

school and his old schoolmates.

The day on which the school broke up for the holidays was that selected for the annual cricket match between "Juniors" and "Seniors," the young and old scholars. The contest had originated some few years previously out of a chance match between the school lads and some of the elder

scholars, the latter of whom were visiting the neighbour-


As a matter of course the old scholars, with their superior skill and experience, speedily disposed of the youngsters ; but the latter were by no means disheartened, and during the following year another match was the result, followed by another thrashing, less severe, but no less decisive, of the young aspirants for cricketing honours.

Thenceforth the match became an annual affair, the old scholars being gathered from all parts of the country, and the young scholars consisting of the best and most promising lads i'emaining in the school. The young scholars had never yet obtained a victory, but they were too proud to give in ; moreover, they were frequently encouraged by the manner in which they occasionally found their scores creeping up to those of their opponents.

Phillip Armstrong had been successful in his studies ; but if his success had been the result of his stern determination, it had also been largely encouraged by the sympathy of his schoolmates and the appreciating words of his instructors.

He wished to repay the obligation, but scarcely knew how, when it was proposed to him that he should be captain of the school team he perceived the means of gratifying his


He and Willie Poulton were excellent bowlers, especially himself, the excitement of the game having repeatedly fur- nished him with the means of forgetting for a time the cares which burdened his mind, and his intense dislike, akin to hatred, of Martha Woolston.

If he could achieve a victory for the young scholars, if he could stay the run of ill-luck against which they had so gal- lantly fought year after year, if he could break the spell under which they had so long laboured, he would be happy; he would have proved that his gratitude was sincere and


With Phillip to think was to act. He did not say any- thing, but he quietly selected the best lads in the school to form the team for the coming contest ; he allowed no friend- ships, no prejudices, to interfere with his choice; he simply chose those whom he thought were the best.

Every day he made them practice, until they became the smartest players that the school had ever seen ; and for once there seemed a chance that the " Juniors" would distinguish themselves in a style for which their opponents were not prepared. He left nothing to chance ; he did his duty, leaving to fate the final decision.

He had grown very tall, like most "natives," but was extremely well made ; the muscles of his arms, like hose of Longfellow's blacksmith, were strong as iron bandstand his chest was fit for a prize fighter. In fact he was the beau ideal of an Australian cricketer, of the sturdy arms and stout hearts which have achieved such glories, not only in the cricketing fields of this country, but also in the dear old

mother land.

The "Juniors" looked up to Phillip with the fullest confidence ; they had patiently accepted his guidance, had perseveringly followed his instructions, and had become animated by his indomitable spirit ; and, though former defeats loomed like a black cloud out of the past, there was something in every heart which bade them look up on the morning of the match, and whispered to them words which made them dream of that cloud's silvery lining.

There was a great crowd in Moore Park, for it had become rumoured throughout the city and suburban schools that the match would prove one of somewhat exceptional interest, and when the Ashfield "Juniors" appeared on the ground they were greeted with a lusty cheer, in which their opponents heartily joined.

No one dreamed of their winning, and yet there were few who did not entertain a secret wish that for once the evil decrees of fortune might become reversed in favour of those who had so long, in the face of all hope, persevered in their efforts to achieve a triumph for their school.

The toss was won by the " Seniors," who went straight

to the wickets.

" That is as it should be," said Phillip, " Hike to see my enemies in front of me, and know how many we have to meet when we get in."

East and furious waxed the play, and at last the " Juniors " impatiently rushed from the field and asked the school scorer what was their opponents' score ?

"Ninety-eight," he replied, and their countenances fell as he spoke.

"Ugly," thought Phillip to himself, for big scores were not in such fashion then as they are now; but he did not say it, for it would not do to discourage his fellows, so he called out cheerfully,

"Now then, lads, we have no time to lose if we intend

to thrash these fellows !"

" Two to one, we beat you on the first innings, Arm- strong," laughed the captain of the Seniors.

"That may be," was the quiet answer, "but we intend to play two to-day. "

The "Juniors'" went in, and for three quarters of an hour Long Ben, as they called the captain of the "Seniors," had the supreme satisfaction of seeing the ball knocked all over the field without being able to displace a stump.

Phillip began to feel uncomfortable, his team were too


" Steady," he cried as the batsman attempted a short run, but the warning came too late-first wicket went down for nine aud twenty.

"How about your two's to one now?" shouted out a

chorus of Ashfield school-lads congregated near the scorer's


The Seniors made no reply, and Phillip did not at all like the way in which their captain called a counsel round the vacant wicket, and, after a brief consultation, took the bat


As Long Ben went to the wicket he gave the word " Steady play," and steady play for some time it was. The score went up to forty-forty-five-fifty-and out another wicket ; then Long Ben got desperate, and the next three overs saw as many wickets fall ; but Phillip still kept his place. Do, however, what he could, he found it impossible to restrain his wild young colleagues, who seemed to think the game could be won by a single stroke.

Eight wickets down, and then, as his turn came, a mag- nificent catch at point, and the score only seventy-three. t The bowling had been first rate, and not a ball could be got

away ; four more were added, and the two to one would have been won with the Juniors one and twenty to the


"This looks awkward, Armstrong," said Dr. Patterson, the principal of the school, walking up to the tent. "What have you been doing to let it come about in this way ?"

Phillip smiled-' ' Too big a hurry, sir, but 'tis not lost yet," he added.

" That's right, my boy, a stout heart to a steep hill," and the principal patted Phillip encouragingly on the back.

Dr. Patterson had a great liking for Phillip Armstrong, and that feeling was cordially reciprocated by Phillip ; but then the good old schoolmaster possessed a wonderful influ- ence over the lads entrusted to his charge.

The secret, however, was very simple ; he merely taught the lads to feel that he trusted them, and his word would make them do willingly that which no other master could make them do by compulsion, even though he caned them

until his arms wearied.

I If there were more school principals like Dr. Patterson

there would be fewer scholastic scandals ; but we must

return tb the match.

Three wickets for twelve somewhat raised the spirits of the Juniors; even Charley Harris, who was always despair- ing, smiled hopefully as he saw the last catch safely lodged in long-leg's hands.

Another wicket and another, and another followed quickly, and then Harris performed a series of somersaults on the

broad, brown turf.

" We'll do it yet, by Jove, we'll do it yet."

Like most inexperienced young fellows, Charlie Harris was extremely ready in jumping at conclusions, but in this instance his exultation was not unnatural; the last three or four in an innings not generally being the best in the team, he argued to himself that, according to mathematical and cricketing rules combined, if six fell for thirty the most that could be expected from the last four would be

fifteen or thereabouts.

So he made himself happy; but if, for the first time in his life, this time at any rate he was wrong.