Poulter, the village schoolmaster, who, being an old Peninsular soldier, was employed to drill Tom,--a source of high mutual pleasure.
Poulter,--wasn't he a wonderful fighter?" said Tom, who held the notion that all the martial heroes commemorated on the public-house signs were engaged in the war with Bony.
Poulter would continue, on coming to a pause in his discipline; "they'd better not talk to me about General Wolfe.
Poulter," Tom would say, at any allusion to the sword, "I wish you'd bring your sword and do the sword-exercise!"
Poulter only shook his head in a significant manner at this request, and smiled patronizingly, as Jupiter may have done when Semele urged her too ambitious request.
Poulter, involuntarily falling in with Tom's enthusiasm, and drawing the sword so suddenly that Tom leaped back with much agility.
Poulter, if you're going to do the exercise," said Tom, a little conscious that he had not stood his ground as became an Englishman, "let me go and call Philip.
Poulter, contemptuously; "what's the use of his looking on?"
Poulter, coughing and drawing himself up, while he gave a little preliminary play to his wrist.
"Come, Philip," said Tom, bursting in; "don't stay roaring 'la la' there; come and see old Poulter do his sword-exercise in the carriage-house!"
The jar of this interruption, the discord of Tom's tones coming across the notes to which Philip was vibrating in soul and body, would have been enough to unhinge his temper, even if there had been no question of Poulter the drilling-master; and Tom, in the hurry of seizing something to say to prevent Mr.
Poulter, with a fixed and earnest eye, wasting the perfections of his sword-exercise on probably observant but inappreciative rats.