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The Hill A Romance of Friendship   By: (1861-1955)

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E text prepared by Al Haines

THE HILL

A Romance of Friendship

by

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL

London John Murray, Albemarle Street First Edition . . . . . . . . . . . April, 1905 Thirty second Impression (3/6) . . . April, 1928 Reprinted (2/ ) . . . . . . . . . . November, 1928 Reprinted . . . . . . . . . . . . . September, 1930 Reprinted . . . . . . . . . . . . . June, 1935 Reprinted . . . . . . . . . . . . . October, 1937

To

GEORGE W. E. RUSSELL

I dedicate this Romance of Friendship to you with the sincerest pleasure and affection. You were the first to suggest that I should write a book about contemporary life at Harrow; you gave me the principal idea; you have furnished me with notes innumerable; you have revised every page of the manuscript; and you are a peculiarly keen Harrovian.

In making this public declaration of my obligations to you, I take the opportunity of stating that the characters in "The Hill," whether masters or boys, are not portraits, although they may be called, truthfully enough, composite photographs; and that the episodes of Drinking and Gambling are founded on isolated incidents, not on habitual practices. Moreover, in attempting to reproduce the curious admixture of "strenuousness and sentiment" your own phrase which animates so vitally Harrow life, I have been obliged to select the less common types of Harrovian. Only the elect are capable of such friendship as John Verney entertained for Henry Desmond; and few boys, happily, are possessed of such powers as Scaife is shown to exercise. But that there are such boys as Verney and Scaife, nobody knows better than yourself.

Believe me,

Yours most gratefully,

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL

BEECHWOOD,

February 22, 1905.

CONTENTS

I. THE MANOR II. CAESAR III. KRAIPALE IV. TORPIDS V. FELLOWSHIP VI. A REVELATION VII. REFORM VIII. VERNEY BOSCOBEL IX. BLACK SPOTS X. DECAPITATION XI. SELF QUESTIONING XII. "LORD'S" XIII. "IF I PERISH, I PERISH" XIV. GOOD NIGHT

THE HILL

CHAPTER I

THE MANOR

"Five hundred faces, and all so strange! Life in front of me home behind, I felt like a waif before the wind Tossed on an ocean of shock and change.

" Chorus . Yet the time may come, as the years go by, When your heart will thrill At the thought of the Hill, And the day that you came so strange and shy."

The train slid slowly out of Harrow station.

Five minutes before, a man and a boy had been walking up and down the long platform. The boy wondered why the man, his uncle, was so strangely silent. Then, suddenly, the elder John Verney had placed his hands upon the shoulders of the younger John, looking down into eyes as grey and as steady as his own.

"You'll find plenty of fellows abusing Harrow," he said quietly; "but take it from me, that the fault lies not in Harrow, but in them. Such boys, as a rule, do not come out of the top drawer. Don't look so solemn. You're about to take a header into a big river. In it are rocks and rapids; but you know how to swim, and after the first plunge you'll enjoy it, as I did, amazingly."

"Ra ther," said John.

In the New Forest, where John had spent most of his life at his uncle's place of Verney Boscobel, this uncle, his dead father's only brother, was worshipped as a hero. Indeed he filled so large a space in the boy's imagination, that others were cramped for room. John Verney in India, in Burmah, in Africa (he took continents in his stride), moved colossal. And when uncle and nephew met, behold, the great traveller stood not much taller than John himself! That first moment, the instant shattering of a precious delusion, held anguish. But now, as the train whirled away the silent, thin, little man, he began to expand again. John saw him scaling heights, cutting a path through impenetrable forests, wading across dismal swamps, an ever moving figure, seeking the hitherto unknowable and irreclaimable, introducing order where chaos reigned supreme, a world famous pioneer... Continue reading book >>




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