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Stalky & Co.

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"Let us now praise famous men"—Men of little showing—For their work continueth,And their work continueth,Greater than their knowing.Western wind and open surgeTore us from our mothers;Flung us on a naked shore(Twelve bleak houses by the shore!Seven summers by the shore!)'Mid two hundred brothers.There we met with famous menSet in office o'er us.And they beat on us with rods—Faithfully with many rods—Daily beat us on with rods—For the love they bore us!Out of Egypt unto Troy—Over Himalaya—Far and sure our bands have gone—Hy-Brasil or Babylon,Islands of the Southern Run,And cities of Cathaia!And we all praise famous men—Ancients of the College;For they taught us common sense—-Tried to teach us common sense—Truth and God's Own Common SenseWhich is more than knowledge!Each degree of LatitudeStrung about CreationSeeth one (or more) of us,(Of one muster all of us—Of one master all of us—)Keen in his vocation.This we learned from famous menKnowing not its usesWhen they showed in daily workMan must finish off his work—Right or wrong, his daily work—And without excuses.Servants of the staff and chain,Mine and fuse and grapnel—Some before the face of Kings,Stand before the face of Kings;Bearing gifts to divers Kings—Gifts of Case and Shrapnel.This we learned from famous menTeaching in our borders.Who declare'd it was best,Safest, easiest and best—Expeditious, wise and best—To obey your orders.Some beneath the further starsBear the greater burden.Set to serve the lands they rule,(Save he serve no man may rule)Serve and love the lands they rule;Seeking praise nor guerdon.This we learned from famous menKnowing not we learned it.Only, as the years went by—Lonely, as the years went by—Far from help as years went byPlainer we discerned it.Wherefore praise we famous menProm whose bays we borrow—They that put aside Today—All the joys of their Today—And with toil of their TodayBought for us Tomorrow!Bless and praise we famous menMen of little showing!For their work continuethAnd their work continuethBroad and deep continuethGreat beyond their knowing!Copyright, 1899. by Rudyard Kipling












In summer all right-minded boys built huts in the furze-hill behind the College—little lairs whittled out of the heart of the prickly bushes, full of stumps, odd root-ends, and spikes, but, since they were strictly forbidden, palaces of delight. And for the fifth summer in succession, Stalky, McTurk, and Beetle (this was before they reached the dignity of a study) had built like beavers a place of retreat and meditation, where they smoked.

Now, there was nothing in their characters as known to Mr. Prout, their house-master, at all commanding respect; nor did Foxy, the subtle red-haired school Sergeant, trust them. His business was to wear tennis-shoes, carry binoculars, and swoop hawklike upon evil boys. Had he taken the field alone, that hut would have been raided, for Foxy knew the manners of his quarry; but Providence moved Mr. Prout, whose school-name, derived from the size of his feet, was Hoofer, to investigate on his own account; and it was the cautious Stalky who found the track of his pugs on the very floor of their lair one peaceful afternoon when Stalky would fain have forgotten Prout and his works in a volume of Surtees and a new briar-wood pipe. Crusoe, at sight of the footprint, did not act more swiftly than Stalky. He removed the pipes, swept up all loose match-ends, and departed to warn Beetle and McTurk.

But it was characteristic of the boy that he did not approach his allies till he had met and conferred with little Hartopp, President of the Natural History Society, an institution which Stalky held in contempt, Hartopp was more than surprised when the boy meekly, as he knew how, begged to propose himself, Beetle, and McTurk as candidates; confessed to a long-smothered interest in first-flowerings, early butterflies, and new arrivals, and volunteered, if Mr. Hartopp saw fit, to enter on the new life at once. Being a master, Hartopp was suspicious; but he was also an enthusiast, and his gentle little soul had been galled by chance-heard remarks from the three, and specially Beetle. So he was gracious to that repentant sinner, and entered the three names in his book.

Then, and not till then, did Stalky seek Beetle and McTurk in their house form-room. They were stowing away books for a quiet afternoon in the furze, which they called the "wuzzy."

"All up," said Stalky, serenely. "I spotted Heffy's fairy feet round our hut after dinner. 'Blessing they're so big."

"Con-found! Did you hide our pipes?" said Beetle.

"Oh, no. Left 'em in the middle of the hut, of course. What a blind ass you are, Beetle! D'you think nobody thinks but yourself? Well, we can't use the hut any more. Hoofer will be watchin' it."

"'Bother! Likewise blow!'" said McTurk thoughtfully, unpacking the volumes with which his chest was cased. The boys carried their libraries between their belt and their collar....