Chapter 71464769

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71464769
Full Date1901-03-16
Page Number39
Corrections0
Word Count2278
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleThe Pirate Isles
article text

The Pirate Isles.

(A. SERIAL, STORY.

(BY THE COURT JESTER.)

CHAPTER VI. . t

It was the great annual prize-giving day at the Metropolitan' High - School of the Pirate Island, and the greatest excitement prevailed among the

scholars. -

Por weeks beforehand they had thought of no thing else, and had been engaged In practising choruses and poems for repetition, and writing es says, the best of which was ito be read in public on the great occasion. According to custom, the King himself was to be present, and was to dis tribute the prizes with his own hand.

It was now 3 o'clock, and the crowd of parents and friends filled the 'big schoolroom to overflow ing. At one end of the room was a raised plat form, on which sat the head and under masters, and the distinguished visitors. On the right of the dals was a piano, at which sat the young lady who was to accompany the musical items on the programme. At five minutes past 3 a tremen dous hurst of cheering announced the fact that the King had arrived, and presently the headmas ter rose and went down the aisle between the spectators' seats, to greet his Majesty. The pi anist played the "Piratical Anthem" (the tune of which consisted of fragments of all the best - known airs In which there was subsisting copy

right), and the Royal party, Including several fo reign ambassadors and members of the Ministry, were escorted ¡to their seats on the platform. Then i the 'classical master rose, and, taking up a con

ductor's baton, raised it above his head.

; ? Thereupon, about fifty scholars, specially train ed for th'e purpose, stood, and proceeded to sing the following ? odo of welcome, which had been composed by the classical master, who was con sidered Jjy.Jrimself and his lady friends to be a poet of no small pretensions.

- When the heart pf the nation is failing,

.And the night of disaster grows black,

When the voice of despair ls heard wailing. -

Like one who has stepped on a tack; : ?When men. droop like a sun-stricken Illy, - That'blackening., sinks in the dust,

When, hope, and delight seem knocked slliy, . ',And confidence bust?

What, is it our. troubles that follows?

? ' v What.'is ,lt'disperses our fears?

, : That "makes hua as happy as .swallows,

'.i lj And all-our,-foreboding thatcheers? > .-s n -? .¡ .. What gives .us fair hopes that, tho morrow

? . will prosperous dawn on the land? , That chases away all our sorrow,

And makes us feel grand?

.Tis thy Boyal,presence, our ruler,- < . .: ^ When thou delgnest our gatherings to grace; ¡ And winter seems'warmer, and cooler

The summer,. at sight of thy face: Thy-protectión"..our sorrow relieving

Preserves us unharmed from each foe, And we're awfully glad at perceiving

-You've como to our show.

At 'th© conclusion of the song the King, who was highly gratified, rose to open the proceedings. This he did with a speech which had been writ ten for him by his private secretary.

"Mr. Chairman, ladies, and gentlemen," he said, "it is with the greatest pleasure that I accepted your highly flattering offer to be present to-day. To-day is the occasion when the conduct of each scholar during the year receives its due reward. The industrious, hard-working boy receives a tangible memento of his devotion xo his stud ies, which will he for the rest of his life a source of pride and gratification to him. The idle boy, on the other-hand, sees -with envy his wiser com rade going up, amid the plaudits of the assembly, to receive his reward. (Here tho boys who were to receive prizes.tried to look unconscious, and those, who .were not, sneered.) But to those 'latter I would say, 'Do not give up, but resolve to do better next time.' But I am by no means one of those: who-advocate the purely mental culture at the expense of the physical. (Applause.) On the contrary, I am firmly persuaded that good healthy sport need in no way interfere with

studies. The object of all should be to attain lt is a long time since >l studied up Latin, but the '. learned headmaster will correct me, I hope, if I am

wrong-to attain the mens sana in corpore sano. (?Loud and prolonged applause.') And now, boya, let me remind you that your school days are the 'happiest time of your lives, and I am suTe there is not one o£ us here who is grown up, but wishes ?he could have those careless, happy days again. But I fear that I am keeping you from the real .business of the day, and that you are tired of ?hearing me talk-(Cries of 'No, no,' and a. loud 'Hear, hear,' from a nervous under-masteT)-so 1 shall conclude. But before doing so, I would ask my friend-if he will allow me to call him so-my . friend, the headmaster, to extend the holidays

one week." v

Thereupon the King sat down, and the head master rose and said that he had much pleasure in acceding to the King's request, and that the holidays rwould therefore be six weeks instead of five,-as he had originally intended. The boys then applauded loudly, but a somewhat Ironical note might have been detected in their cheering. For there was a tradition in the school that before it had 'become the custom of royalty to attend at the prize givings the holidays had

regularly, been six weeks. Therefore, .the first 'time the extension had been asked for the then headmaster, taken by surprise, had been compelled to give seven weeks. But the next time, and ever after, the authorities, being prepared for the royal request, had an nounced that the holidays would only last for five weeks; so that in reality no advantage ac crued to the scholars from the King's kindnes

The headmaster then began the list of the prizewinners by announcing, "Prize for best es say. Subject: "Who was the Greater Pirate, Captain Kidd or Hendrik Hudson?'-John Smith." Thereupon John Smith came up, and received a copy of "Jobiings on the Coleóptera." The prize-giving then went on, the prizes being awarded on the universal principle of giving each

boy a copy of the last book in the world in which , he would be likely to take the faintest Interest. Thus the prize for English literature was a work on the steam engine, and that for science a book of selected poems.

At the conclusion of the prize-giving the win . ners of the prizes for original essay and original , poem read their respective compositions. The prize poem was called "Faithful Unto Death," the norn de plume under which lt was sent in being "Jim, Sleeve:"

"He "was only a little newsboy, a dirty, neglected

lad.

With a voice like a crazy foghorn, and the cheek

of an omnibus cad;

But he always stuck to his duty, .and whatever his

hand could find

To do, well, Jim he started in, and he ; fairly

went it blind.

When asked for an 'Extra Special,* if he hadn't

one in his hand.

His troubles! he'd sell you an ancient 'First;' and

the way he would lie was grand.

Well, Jim, he was playing 'headin' 'em' with some

of his pals one" day

With a two-headed copper he'd come across in

? some ? mysterious way. -

They were playing right in the roadway, when

all of a sudden there came

A thundering four-horse 'bus, that drove right

through the midst of the game;

And Jimmy was trying to collar the coins unseen

in the general rout,

When the 'bus ran over his little legs, and fairly

laid him out.

For days he tossed on his bed of. pain. They took

off his legs at the knee;

But he hadn't the ghost of a show to1 live- 'twas as

plain as plain could be. .

And so, when the district visitor came she wept

over little Jim,

And gave him a halfpenny, tract to read, and sang

him a lengthy hymn.

And Jimmy listened: with. innocentvsmile/ and

when at last she had gone,

He said to his sorrowing father, with a grin - on

his visage wan, , ,

'See, governor, I've collared her ticker,' and ;also

her diamond ring.

I done my duty up to the last,:and l die' as pleased

as a king.'

But his father fetched him-a wipe on the head,

saying,: 'Wot. d' yer want ter,-waste

Yer trouble an' mine fer a watch;that*s;brass,vand

a ring that's nothin' but: pasteVñ¡ ,

And Jimmy turned his facè .with-a sob^as the sun

went down in .the west,'. v .- ÍV;; :

And his spirit passed, but he died: content, for

he did his level best."

. As the poet ended several ladles sobbed: bitterly, and said it was perfectly lovely, and everyone applauded thunderously. Then followed a discus sion by the School Debating Society on the sub ject: -'Has the Pulpit or the Stage had the Greater Influence in Reforming Society?" This was lis tened to.with rapt attention by the parents of the debaters, and regarded as a fearful nuisance by the rest of the audience, especially as everyone was aware that the champions of the stage knew

better than to advance any very strong arguments . in its favor with the headmaster present; while their opponents had full licence to pitch into them.to the utmost. Just as the King was won dering what excuse he could make to leave, the problem was solved for him In an unexpected manner. AU of a sudden the door was flung violently open, and a messenger rushed in pant ing and stuttering, and flung himself on one knee before the King.

"How now, sirrah, what means this?" asked his Majesty, angTily. ""What are you giving us?;

"What's the row?"

"Murder! thieves! fire!" began the messenger, inarticulately. <

"By our halidame!" - shouted the King, in a towering passion ; -"jestest ? thou, with me, knave? Just you stop playing the fool, or I'll make you! Here,, kick him somebody; will you?" . ..

One of the-aides-de-camp- fulfilled the " Royal : command lustily; and the mesenger ,got his wits together a little.

"Treason,, your Majesty !" he gasped. "There's a rebellion, and there's*, a crowd coming; down the street, yelling and smashing-windows-andigoing

on something awful!"

"What are they^rebelling.about?", asked ¿ne of the suite. "Can you tell us?" .:

But the King did not wait for a reply. Throw

ing himself on the messenger, he caught him by : the throat, with the intention of "choking the life .

out of him," and for a few minutes there was a : wild struggle, till finally they rolled off the dais to thc floor, and the King lay.still, with all the breath knocked out of his body.

Immediately afterwards the Royal party left

tue hall, and on reaching the street found a hotly-contested battle going on between the troops and the insurgents. Throwing himself at the head o£ the soldiers, the King led a charge into the midst of the enemy, driving them back to the barricades they had hastily erected across the

streets. All day long the battle raged, the for- " tune of war going somewhat against the rebels, till night brought with it a cessation of hosti

lities. .

Then the King, on returning to his palace, learnt for the first time that the rebellion had arisen for the purpose of deposing him and set ting up a person named Georgie Johnson in his stead. He fcund that it was no sudden outburst, but the outcome of months of steady plotting, the rebels having made their preparations with the utmost care. ' -".

When day broke, they; prepared for a renewal

of the contest, but the Government troops found; to their in terse astonishment that not n rebel was to be found in the city. Shortly afterwards the discovery was made that about half the vessels of the fleet were missing from their anchorage,

and the others scuttled at their moorings; and it was thought that the rebels had been so disheart ened by the non-soiccess of their first attempt that they had fled the country. Some days later, however, it was ascertained that they had retired to an island some thirty miles away, and having captured the town there, were preparing for an attack in force, which was only delayed till the schooner Waterwitch should arrive. This vessel they had sent out some little time before the re bellion, for the purpose of bringing over the new King, and they judged it wiser to defer any fur ther attempt till his arrival, holding his genius and daring in such high estimation that they thought his presence would render victory cer tain.

After long consultation the Government deem-i ed it the best course to send a vessel to intercept the Waterwitch, capture her, and hang the pre tender to the yardarm, thinking that if the rebels saw their leader arrive im such an. undignified

fashion, it would break the back of the rabel~,i

lion.

The brig Rattlesnake, which was the first of the sunken vessels raised again,: was fitted out and dispatched on this errand. The rest of the vessels being with great difficulty got afloat again, the Government party awaited her return with the utmost anxiety, their ships being constantly employed sailing up and down the coast to assist the land forces in case of an attack.

(To be continued.)