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A Queer Picnic
by [?]

Chapter I. A MYSTERIOUS MOUNTAIN

Magnus minor and my brother Joe were about as chummy as two fellows who had not a single taste in common could well be. Magnus, you know, was an athlete. At least, he was in the fourth eleven, and ran regularly in the quarter-mile open handicap. He got fifty yards the first year, and came in tenth; in the second year they gave him a hundred, and he came in eighteenth; in the third year they generously gave him a hundred and twenty yards, and he never came in at all, for some unexplained reason. After that he passed as an athlete, and considered himself an authority, especially at home, on all matters relating to sport. Joe, on the other hand, was a dreamy boy; he wrote poems, when he should have been construing Caesar, and gave several other indications that he was destined to a great career. He cared as little about sport as Magnus did about poetry. This probably was the reason the two were such chums. They never trod on one another’s toes.

When they went for a walk, Joe usually dawdled along trying to think of rhymes for “nightingale,” and “poppy,” and “windmill,” and the other beauties of Nature which met his eye or ear; while Magnus stopped behind to vault gates (which always caught his foot as he went over), and do “sprints” with wayside animals, in which the wayside animals usually managed to pull off the event. I’m not sure that they ever talked to one another, which again may have been a reason for their great friendship. If they did, nobody ever heard them; indeed, they never seemed to look at one another, or to be aware of one another’s existence, which no doubt fully explains their mutual devotion.

The only real bond of sympathy that I can think of was that they were always going in for examinations together, and always getting plucked. Had the name of either ever appeared on a prize list, I am convinced there would have been a panic in the school. Even when they entered for the Wheeler Exhibition for boys under 15, Joe being on the day of examination 14 years 364 days, and Magnus being a week younger, no one supposed for a moment they had a chance against the fellows of eleven and twelve who went up against them; and no one was disappointed.

I asked Magnus afterwards how it was he came to grief.

“It was those beasts, the Greek gods. I’d like to kick them,” said he.

By an odd coincidence I put the same question on the following day to my young brother.

“Eh?” said he, “what do you call them, you know, the thingamybobs that lived in Mount what’s its name? I’m sick of ’em.”

“Mount Olympus, you mean?”

“That’s it–“

“Mount Olympus, Pack of Shrimpers.”

This was a good specimen of my brother’s poetic style!

I gathered from this that a new bond of sympathy had arisen between the two friends. They had both been ploughed in an unexpected paper on Greek Mythology, and were in consequence death on the divinities. I genuinely pitied the divinities!

Well–mind, as I wasn’t in the affair, I can only relate it as I heard it–a very curious adventure happened to Magnus Minor and my young brother, shortly after this.

It was in the holidays, and we went, as usual, to Llandudno; and oddly enough, Magnus’s people went there too. The two chums consequently had an opportunity of feeding the fires that consumed them, and of carrying on their feud with the Greek gods in boats and bathing machines, on the Great Orme’s Head, and in the pier refreshment-room. Whenever I came across them they were still implacable; and once or twice I believe they actually spoke to one another on the subject, which shows how deeply they felt.