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´╗┐Title: St. Winifred's, - or The World of School
Author: Farrar, F. W. (Frederic William), 1831-1903
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "St. Winifred's, - or The World of School" ***

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St Winifred's, or The World of School, by Frederic W. Farrar.

________________________________________________________________________
The story is another one about the intimate details of a life in a boys'
boarding school in late Victorian England.  Farrar, having himself
attended such a school, then later been an assistant master at another,
Harrow School, then Head Master of Marlborough College, was well placed
to write about such a school, and in some ways it is a better book than
his much more famous "Eric".

There are a number of very well-written and moving episodes in this
book, and the only thing that spoils the books is Farrar's habit of
putting quotations from Latin and Greek into his books.  Because of the
problem of rendering Greek script into European script, to no great
purpose, we have omitted all the longer Greek quotations at the start of
some of the chapters.

We have thoroughly enjoyed creating this e-book for you, and we hope
that you will enjoy it as much as we have.  We made a transcription
during March and April 2003, and then made a second transcription using
a different edition, in January 2008.

________________________________________________________________________
ST. WINIFRED'S, OR, THE WORLD OF SCHOOL, BY FREDERIC W. FARRAR.



CHAPTER ONE.

WALTER'S HOME.

  The merry homes of England!
  Around their hearths by night,
  What gladsome looks of household love,
  Meet in the ruddy light!

  Mrs Hemans.

"Good-bye, Walter; good-bye, Walter dear! good-bye!" and the last note
of this chorus was "Dood-bye," from a blue-eyed, fair-haired girl of two
years, as Walter disengaged his arms from his mother's neck, and sprang
into the carriage which had already been waiting a quarter of an hour to
convey him and his luggage to the station.

It is the old, old story: Mr Evson was taking his son to a large public
school, and this was the first time that Walter had left home.  Nearly
every father who deigns to open this little book has gone through the
scene himself; and he and his sons will know from personal experience
the thoughts, and sensations, and memories, which occupied the minds of
Walter Evson and his father, as the carriage drove through the garden
gate and the village street, bearing the eldest boy of the young family
from the sacred and quiet shelter of a loving home, to a noisy and
independent life among a number of strange and young companions.

If you have ever stood on the hill from which Walter caught a last
glimpse of the home he was leaving, and waved his final farewell to his
mother, you are not likely to have forgotten the scene which was then
spread before your eyes.  On the right-hand side, the low hills, covered
with firs, rise in gentle slopes one over the other, till they reach the
huge green shoulder of a mountain, around whose summits the clouds are
generally weaving their awful and ever-changing diadem.  To the left,
between the road and a lower range of wooded undulations, is a deep and
retired glen, through which a mountain stream babbles along its hurried
course, tumbling sometimes in a noisy cataract and rushing wildly
through the rough boulder stones which it has carried from the heights,
or deepening into some quiet pool, bright and smooth as glass, on the
margin of which the great purple loosestrife and the long fern-leaves
bend down as though to gaze at their own reflected beauty.  In front,
and at your feet, opens a rich valley, which is almost filled as far as
the roots of the mountains by a lovely lake.  Beside this lake the white
houses of a little village cluster around the elevation on which the
church and churchyard stand; while on either shore, rising among the
fir-groves that overshadow the first swellings of the hills, are a few
sequestered villas, commanding a prospect of rare beauty, and giving a
last touch of interest to the surrounding view.

In one of these houses--that one with the crowded gables not a hundred
feet above the lake, opposite to which you see the swans pluming their
wings in the sunlight, and the green boat in its little boathouse--lived
the hero of our story; and no boy could have had a dearer or lovelier
home.  His father, Mr Evson, was a man in easy, and almost in affluent
circumstances, who, having no regular occupation, had chosen for himself
this quiet retreat, and devoted all his time and care to the education
of his family, and the ordinary duties of a country gentleman.

Walter was the eldest child, a graceful, active, bright-eyed boy.  Up to
this time--and he was now thirteen years old--he had had no other
teaching but that of his father, and of a tutor, who for the last year
had lived in the house.  His education, therefore, differed considerably
from that of many boys of his own age, and the amount of book knowledge
which he had acquired was small as yet; but he was full of that
intelligent interest in things most worth knowing, which is the best and
surest guarantee for future progress.

Let me pause for a moment to relate how a refined and simple-hearted
gentleman had hitherto brought up his young boys.  I do not pronounce
whether the method was right or wrong; I only describe it as it was, and
its success or failure must be inferred from the following pages.

The positive teaching of the young Evsons did not begin too early.  Till
they were ten or twelve years old nearly all they did know had come to
them either intuitively or without any conscious labour.  They were
allowed almost to live in the open air, and nature was their wise and
tender teacher.  Some object was invented, if possible, for every walk.
Now it was to find the shy recesses of the wood where the wild
strawberries were thickest, or where the white violets and the rarest
orchis flowers were hid; or to climb along the rocky sides of the glen
to seek the best spot for a rustic meal, and find mossy stones and
flower-banks for seats and tables near some waterfall or pool.

When they were a little older their father would amuse and encourage
them until they had toiled up even to the very summit of all the nearest
hills, and there they would catch the fresh breeze which blew from the
far-off sea, or gaze wonderingly at the summer lightning flashing behind
the chain of hills, or watch, with many playful fancies, the long
gorgeous conflagration of the summer sunset.  And in such excursions
their father or mother would teach them without seeming to teach them,
until they were thoroughly familiar with the names and properties of all
the commonest plants, and eagerly interested to secure for their little
collections, or to plant in their gardens, the different varieties of
all the wild flowers that were found about their home.  Or, again, when
they sat out in the garden, or wandered back in the autumn twilight from
some gipsy party, they were taught to recognise the stars and planets,
until Mars and Jupiter, Orion and Cassiopeia, the Pleiads and the
Northern Crown, seemed to look down upon them like old and beloved
friends.

It was easy, too, and pleasant, to teach them to love and to treat
tenderly all living things--to observe the little black-eyed squirrel
without disturbing him while he cracked his nuts; to watch the
mistle-thrush's nest till the timid bird had learned to sit there
fearlessly, and not scurry away at their approach; and to visit the
haunts of the moorhen without causing any consternation to her or her
little black velvet progeny.  Visitors who stayed at the house were
always delighted to see how all creatures seemed to trust the children:
how the canary would carol in its cage when they came into the room; how
the ponies would come trotting to the boys across the field, and the
swans float up and plume their mantling wings, expecting food and
caresses, whenever they came in sight.

The lake was a source of endless amusement to them; summer and winter
they might have been seen bathing in its waters, till they were bold
swimmers, or lying to read their books in the boat under the shade of
the trees, or rowing about till the little boy of six years was allowed
to paddle himself alone to the other side, and even when the waves were
rough, and the winds high, the elder ones were not afraid to venture
out.  In short, they were healthy and manly mountain-boys, with all
their senses admirably exercised, and their powers of observation so
well trained, that they sometimes amazed their London cousins by
pointing to some falcon poised far-off above its prey, which was but a
speck to less practised eyes, or calling attention to the sweetness of
some wood-bird's note, indistinguishable to less practised ears.

Even in such lessons as these they would have made but little progress
if they had not been trained in the nursery to be hardy, modest,
truthful, unselfish, and obedient.  This work had effectually been done
when alone it _can_ be effectually done, in the earliest childhood, when
the sweet and plastic nature may acquire for all that is right and good
the powerful aid of habit, before the will and the passions are fully
conscious of their dangerous and stubborn power.

Let no one say that I have been describing some youthful prodigies.
There are thousands such as I describe in all happy and well-ordered
English homes; there might be thousands more if parents spent a more
thoughtful care upon the growth of their children; there will be many,
many thousands more as the world, "in the rich dawn of an ampler day,"
in the gradual yet noble progress of social and moral improvement,
becomes purer and holier, and more like Him Who came to be the ideal of
the loftiest, yet the lowliest, of the most clear-sighted, yet the most
loving, of the most happy, and yet the most humble manhood.



CHAPTER TWO.

SAINT WINIFRED'S.

  Gay Hope is theirs by Fancy led,
  Less pleasing when possess'd,
  The tear forgot as soon as shed,
  The sunshine of the breast.

  Grey.

Walter's destination was the school of Saint Winifred.  Let me here say
at once that if any reader set himself to discover what and where the
school of Saint Winifred is, he will necessarily fail.  It is
impossible, I suppose, to describe _any_ school without introducing
circumstances so apparently special as to lead some readers into a
supposed identification.  But here, and once for all, I distinctly and
seriously repudiate all intention of describing any particular
foundation.  I am well aware that for some critics this disclaimer will
be insufficient.  But every _honourable_ reader and critic may rest
assured that in describing Saint Winifred's I have not intended to
depict any one school, and that no single word dictated by an unworthy
personality will find a place in the following pages.

Saint Winifred's School stands by the seaside, on the shores of a little
bay embraced and closed in by a range of hills whose sweeping semicircle
is only terminated on either side by the lofty cliffs which, in some
places, are fringed at the base by a margin of sand and shingle, and in
others descend with sheer precipices into the ever-boiling surf.  Owing
to the mountainous nature of the country, the railroad cannot approach
within a distance of five miles, and to reach the school you must drive
through the dark groves which cover the lower shoulder of one of the
surrounding mountains.  When you reach the summit of this ascent, the
bay of Saint Winifred lies before you; that line of white houses a
quarter of a mile from the shore is the village, and the large
picturesque building of old grey stone, standing in the angle where the
little river reaches the sea, is Saint Winifred's School.

The carriage stopped at the grand Norman archway of the court.  The
school porter--the Famulus as they classically called him--a
fine-looking man, whose honest English face showed an amount of thought
and refinement above his station, opened the gate, and, consigning
Walter's play-box and portmanteau to one of the school servants,
directed Mr Evson across the court and along some cloisters to the
house of Dr Lane, the headmaster.  The entering of Walter's name on the
school books was soon accomplished, and he was assigned as private pupil
to Mr Robertson, one of the tutors.  Dr Lane then spoke a word of
encouragement to the young stranger, and he walked back with his father
across the court to the gate, where the carriage was still waiting to
take Mr Evson to meet the next train.

"Please let us walk up to the top of the hill, papa," said Walter; "I
shan't be wanted till tea-time, and I needn't bid good-bye to you here."

Mr Evson was as little anxious as Walter to hasten the parting.  They
had never been separated before.  Mr Evson could look back for the rare
period of thirteen years, during which they had enjoyed, by God's
blessing, an almost uninterrupted happiness.  He had begun life again
with his young children; he could thoroughly sympathise alike with their
thoughts and with their thoughtlessness, and by training them in a
manner at once wise and firm, he had been spared the greater part of
that anxiety and disappointment which generally spring from our own
mismanagement.  He deeply loved, and was heartily proud of, his eldest
boy.  There is no exaggeration in saying that Walter had all the best
gifts which a parent could desire.  There was something very interesting
in his appearance, and very winning in his modest and graceful manners.
It was impossible to see him and not be struck with his fine open face,
and the look of fearless and noble innocence in his deep blue eyes.

It was no time for moral lectures or formal advice.  People seem to
think that a few Polonius-like apophthegms delivered at such a time may
be of great importance.  They may be, perhaps, if they be backed-up and
enforced by previous years of silent and self-denying example; otherwise
they are like seed sown upon a rock, like thistle-down blown by the wind
across the sea.  Mr Evson spoke to Walter chiefly about home, about
writing letters, about his pocket-money, his amusements, and his
studies, and Walter knew well beforehand, without any repetitions
_then_, what his father wished him to be, and the principles in
accordance with which he had endeavoured to mould his thoughts and
actions.

The time passed too quickly for them both; they were soon at the top of
the hill where the carriage awaited them.

"Good-bye, Walter.  God bless you," said Mr Evson, shaking hands for
the last time, and throwing deep meaning into those simple words.

"Good-bye, papa.  My best love to all at home," said Walter, trying to
speak cheerfully, and struggling manfully to repress his rising tears.

The carriage drove on.  Walter watched it out of sight, and, turning
round, felt that a new phase of his life had begun, and that he was
miserably alone.  It was natural that he should shed a few quiet tears
as he thought of the dear friends with whom he had parted, and the four
hundred strangers into whose society he was about to enter.  Yet being
brave and innocent he feared nothing, and, without any very definite
religious consciousness, he had a clear and vivid sense that One Friend
was ever with him.

The emotions of a boy are as transient as they are keen, and Walter's
tears were soon dried.  As he looked round, the old familiar voice of
the mountains was in his ears.  He gazed with the delight of friendship
on their towering summits, and promised himself, many an exhilarating
climb up their steep sides.  And now, too, for the first time--for
hitherto he had not much noticed the scenery around him--a new voice,
the great voice of the sea, broke with its grand but awful monotony upon
his listening ear.  As he gazed upon the waves, glowing and flashing
with the golden network of autumnal sunbeams, it seemed to dawn upon him
like the discovery of a new sense, and he determined to stroll down to
the beach before re-entering the gates of Saint Winifred.

He wandered there not only with a boy's delight, but with the delight of
a boy whose eyes and ears have always been open to the beauty and wonder
of the outer world.  He longed to have his brother with him there.  He
picked up handfuls of the hard and sparkling sand; he sent the broad
flat pebbles flying over the surface, and skimming through the crests of
the waves; he half-filled his pockets with green and yellow shells, and
crimson fragments of Delessaria Sanguinea for his little sisters; and he
was full of pleasurable excitement when the great clock of Saint
Winifred's, striking five, reminded him that he had better go in, and
learn something, if possible, about the order of his future life.



CHAPTER THREE.

NEW BOYS.

  _Parolles_.--I find my tongue is too foolhardy.

  All's Well that Ends Well, Act four, scene 1.

The Famulus--"familiar"--as the boys called him, directed Walter across
the court to the rooms of his housekeeper, who informed him about the
places where his clothes and his play-boxes would be kept, and the
dormitory where he was to sleep.  She also gave him a key of the desk in
the great schoolroom, in which he might, if he chose, keep his portable
property.  She moreover announced, with some significance, that she
should be glad to do anything for him which lay in her humble power, and
that the day after to-morrow was her birthday.  Walter was a little
puzzled as to the relevancy of the latter piece of information.  He
learnt it at a subsequent period, when he also discovered that Mrs
Higgins found it to her interest to have periodical birthdays, recurring
two or three times at least every half-year.  The years which must have
passed over that good lady's head during Walter's stay at Saint
Winifred's--the premature rapidity with which old age must have
subsequently overtaken her, and the vigour which she displayed at so
advanced a period of life--were something quite extraordinary of their
kind.

Towards the great schoolroom Walter accordingly directed his steps.  The
key turned out to be quite superfluous, for the hasp of the lock had
been broken by Walter's predecessor, who had also left the trace of his
name, his likeness, and many interesting though inexplicable designs and
hieroglyphics, with a red-hot poker, on the lid.  The same gentleman, to
judge by appearances, must have had a curious entomological collection
of spiders and earwigs under his protection, and had bequeathed to
Walter a highly miscellaneous legacy of rubbish.  Walter contemplated
his bequest with some dismay, and began busily to dust the interior of
the desk, and make it as fit a receptacle as he could for his writing
materials and other personal possessions.

While thus engaged he could not help being secretly tickled by the
proceedings of a group of boys standing round the large unlighted stove,
and amusing themselves, harmlessly for the most part, with the
inexperience and idiosyncrasies of various newcomers.  After tiring
themselves with the freaks of a mad Irish boy who had entered into the
spirit of his own cross-examination with a high sense of buffoonery
which refused to grow ill-tempered, they were now playing on the extreme
gullibility of a heavy, open-mouthed, bullet-headed fellow, named
Plumber, from whom the most astounding information could extract no
greater evidence of sensation than a little wider stare of the eyes, and
an unexcited drawl of "Really though?"  One of the group, named
Henderson, a merry-looking boy with a ceaseless pleasant twinkle of the
eyes, had been taxing his own invention to the uttermost without in the
least exciting Plumber's credulity.

"You saw the fellow who let you in at the school gates, Plumber?" said
Henderson.  "Yes; I saw someone or other."

"But did you notice him particularly?"

"No, I didn't notice him."

"Well, you should have done.  That man's called `the Familiar.'  Ask
anyone if he isn't?  But do you know why?"

"No," said Plumber.

"It's because he's got a familiar spirit which waits on him," said
Henderson mysteriously.

"Really though," said Plumber, and this time he looked so frightened
that it was impossible for the rest to avoid bursting into a fit of
laughter, during which Plumber, vaguely comprehending that he was
considered a very good joke, retired with discomfiture.

"You fools," said Henderson; "if you'd only given me a little more time
I'd have made him believe that Lane had a tail, and wore his gown to
conceal it, except when he used it to flog with; and that before being
entered he would have to sing a song standing on his head.  You've quite
spoilt my game by bursting out laughing."

"There's another new fellow," said Kenrick, one of the group.  "Come
here, you new fellow!" called two or three of them.

Walter looked up, thinking that he was addressed, but found that the
summons was meant for a boy, rather good-looking but very slender, whose
self-important attitude and supercilious look betrayed no slight amount
of vanity, and who, to the apparent astonishment of the rest, was
surveying the room and its appurtenances with a look of great
affectation and disdain.

"So you don't much seem to like the look of Saint Winifred's," said
Kenrick to him, as the boy walked up with a delicate air.  "Not much,"
lisped the new boy; "everything looks so very common."

"Common and unclean to the last degree," said Henderson, imitating his
manner.

"And is this the only place you have to sit in?"

"O, by no means," said Henderson; "each of us has a private apartment
furnished in crimson and gold, according to the simple yet elegant taste
of the owner.  Our meals are there served to us by kneeling domestics on
little dishes of silver."

"I suppose you intend that for wit," said the new boy languidly.

"Yes; to do you, to wit," answered Henderson; "but seriously though,
that would be a great deal more like what you have been accustomed to,
wouldn't it, my friend?"

"Very much more," said the boy.

"And would you politely favour this company," said Henderson, with
obsequious courtesy, "by revealing to us your name?"

"My name is Howard Tracy."

"Oh, indeed!" said Henderson, with an air of great satisfaction, and
making a low bow.

"I am called Howard Tracy because I am descended lineally from both
those noble families."

"My goodness! are you really!" said Henderson, clasping his hands in
mock transport.  "My dear sir, you are an honour to your race and
country! you are an honour to this school.  By Jove, we are proud, sir,
to have you among us!"

"Perhaps you may not know that my uncle is the Viscount Saint George,"
said Tracy patronisingly.

"Is he, though, by George!" said Henderson yawning.  "Is that Saint
George who--

  "`Swinged the dragon, and e'er since
  Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door?'"

But finding that the boy's vanity was too obtuse to be amusing any
longer, he was about to leave him to the rest, when Jones caught sight
of Walter, and called out:--

"Halloa, here's a new fellow grinning at the follies of his kind.  Come
here, you dark-haired chap.  What's your name?"

"Evson," said Walter, quietly approaching them.  Before getting any fun
out of him it was necessary to see what kind of boy he was; and as Jones
hardly knew what line to take, he began on the commonest and most vulgar
tack of catechising him about his family and relations.  "What's your
father?"

"My father is a gentleman," said Walter, rather surprised at the
rudeness of the question.  "And where do you live?"

"At Semlyn."

"And how old are you?"

"Just thirteen."

"And how many sisters have you?"

Walter rather thought of asking, "What's that to you?" but as he saw no
particular harm in answering the question, and did not want to seem too
stiff-backed, he answered, "Three."

"And are they very beautiful?"

"I don't know; I never asked them.  Are yours?"  This last question was
so perfectly quiet and unexpected, and Jones was so evidently
discomfited by it, that the rest burst into a roar of laughter, and
Henderson said, "You've caught a tartar, Jones.  You can't drop salt on
this bird's tail.  You had better return to Plumber, or Saint George and
the dragon.  Here, my noble Viscount, what do you think of your coeval?
Is he as common as the rest of us?"

"I don't think anything about him, if you mean me by Viscount," said
Tracy peevishly, beginning at last to understand that they had been
making a fool of him.

"Quite right, Saint George; he's beneath your notice."  Tracy ran his
hand through his scented hair, as if he rather Implied that he was; and
being mortified at the contrast between his own credulous vanity and
Walter's manly simplicity, and anxious if possible to regain his
position, he said angrily to Walter, "What are you looking at me for?"

Not wishing to be rude, Walter turned away, while someone observed, "A
cat may look at a king."

"Ay, a cat at a king, I grant you," answered Henderson; "but not a mere
son of Eve at any Howard Tracy."

"You are laughing at me," said Tracy to Walter again, in a still angrier
tone, seeing Walter smile at Henderson's remark.

"I've not the slightest wish to laugh at you," said Walter.

"Yes he has.  Shy this at him," said Jones, putting a great bit of
orange peel into Tracy's hand.

Tracy threw it at Walter, and he without hesitation picked it up, and
flung it back in Tracy's face.

"A fight! a fight!" shouted the mischief-making group, as Tracy made a
blind blow at Walter, which his antagonist easily parried.

"Make him fight you.  Challenge him," said Jones.  "Invite him to the
milling-ground behind the chapel after first school to-morrow morning."

"Pistols for _two_, coffee for four, at eight to-morrow," said
Henderson.  "Trample on the Dragon's tail, someone, and rouse him to the
occasion.  What! he won't come to the scratch?  Alack! alack!

  "`What can ennoble fools or cowards
  Not all the blood of all the Tracys, Dragons, and Howards!'"

He continued mischievously, as he saw that Tracy, on taking note of
Walter's compact figure, showed signs of declining the combat.

"Hush, Henderson," said Kenrick, one of the group who had taken no part
in the talk; "it's a shame to be setting two new fellows fighting their
first evening."

But Henderson's last remark had been too much for Tracy.  "Will you
fight?" he said, walking up to Walter with reddening cheeks.  For Tracy
had been to school before, and was no novice in the ways of boys.

"Certainly not," said Walter coolly, to everybody's great surprise.

"What! the other chap showing the white feather, too.  _All_ the new
fellows are cowards it seems this time," said Jones.  "This'll never do.
Pitch into him, Tracy."

"Stop," said Kenrick; "let's hear first why he won't fight?"

"Because I see no occasion to," said Walter; "and because, in the second
place, I never could fight in cold blood; and because, in the third
place--"

"Well, what in the third place?" said Kenrick, interested to observe
Walter's hesitation.

"In the third place," said Walter, "I don't say it from conceit--but
that boy's no match for me."

To anyone who glanced at the figures of the two boys this was obvious
enough, although Walter was a year the younger of the two.  The rest
began to respect Walter accordingly as a sensible little man, but Tracy
was greatly offended by the last remark, and Jones, who was a bully and
had a grudge against Walter for baffling his impertinence, exclaimed,
"Don't you be afraid, Tracy.  I'll back you.  Give him something to heat
his cold blood."

Fired at once by taunts and encouragements, Tracy did as he was bid, and
struck Walter on the face.  The boy started angrily, and at first seemed
as if he meant to return the blow with compound interest, but suddenly
changing his intention, he seized Tracy round the waist, and in spite of
all kicking and struggling, fairly carried the humiliated descendant of
the Howards and Tracys to a far corner of the room, where, amid a shout
of laughter, he deposited him with the laconic suggestion, "Don't you be
a fool."

Walter's blood was now up, and thinking that he might as well show, from
the very first, that he was not to be bullied, or made a butt with
impunity, he walked straight to the stove, and looking full at Jones
(who had inspired him already with strong disgust), he said, "You called
me a coward just now; I'm not a coward, though I don't like fighting for
nothing.  I'm not a bit afraid of _you_, though you forced that fellow
to hit me just now."

"Aren't you?  Saucy young cub!  Then take that," said Jones, enforcing
the remark with a box on the ear.

"And you take that," said Walter, returning the compliment with as much
energy as if he had been playing at the game of _Gif es wetter_.

Jones, astonished beyond measure, sprang forward, clenched his two
fists, squared, and blustered with great demonstrativeness.  He was much
Walter's senior, and was utterly taken by surprise at his audacity; but
he seemed in no hurry to avenge the insult.

"Well," said Walter, heaving with indignation, "why don't you hit me
again?"

Jones looked at his firm and determined little assailant with some
alarm, slowly tucked up the sleeves of his coat, turned white and red,
and--didn't return the blow.  The tea-bell beginning to ring at that
moment gave him a convenient excuse for breaking off the altercation.
He told his friends that he was on the point of thrashing Walter when
the bell rang, but that he thought it a shame to fight a new
fellow--"and in cold blood, too," he added, adopting Walter's language,
but not his sincerity.

"Don't call me a coward again then," said Walter to him as he turned
away.

"I say, Evson, you're a regular brick, a regular stunner," said young
Kenrick, delighted, as he showed Walter the way to the Hall where the
boys had tea.  "That fellow Jones is no end of a bully, and he won't be
quite so big in future.  You've taken him down a great many pegs."

"I say, Kenrick," shouted Henderson after them, "I bet you five to one I
know what you're saying to the new fellow."

"I bet you don't," said Kenrick, laughing.

"You're saying--it's a quotation, you know, but never mind--you're
saying to him, `A sudden thought strikes me: let's swear an eternal
friendship.'"

"Then you're quite out," answered Kenrick.  "I was saying come and sit
next me at tea."

"And go shares in jam," added Henderson: "exactly what I said, only in
other words."



CHAPTER FOUR.

FRIENDS AND FOES.

  "He who hath a thousand friends hath not one friend to spare,
  And he who hath one enemy shall meet him everywhere."

Already Walter had got someone to talk to, someone he knew; for in spite
of Kenrick's repudiation of Henderson's jest, he felt already that he
had discovered a boy with whom he should soon be friends.  It doesn't
matter how he had discovered it; it was by animal magnetism; it was by
some look in Kenrick's eyes; it was his light-heartedness; it was by the
mingled fire and refinement of his face which spoke of a wilful and
impetuous, yet also of a generous and noble nature.  Already he felt a
sense of ease and pleasure in the certainty that Kenrick--evidently no
cipher among his schoolfellows--was inclined to like him, and to show
him the ways of the school.

They went into a large hall, where the four hundred had their meals.
They sat at a number of tables arranged breadth-wise across the hall;
twenty or thirty sat at each table, and either a master or a monitor (as
the sixteen upper boys were called) took his place at the head of it.

"Now, mind you don't begin to smoke," said Henderson, as Walter went in,
and found most of the boys already seated.

"Smoke?" said Walter, taking it for a bit of good advice; "do fellows
smoke in Hall?  I never have smoked."

"Why, you're smoking now," said Henderson, as Walter, entering among the
crowd of strange faces and meeting so many pairs of eyes, began to blush
a little.

"Don't teaze him, Flip," said Kenrick.  "Smoking is the name fellows
give to blushing, Evson; and if they see you given to blushing, they'll
stare at you for the fun of seeing the colour mount up in your cheeks."

Accordingly, as he sat down, he saw that numerous eyes were turned upon
him and upon Tracy, who happened to sit at the same table.  Tracy,
unaccustomed to such very narrow scrutiny, blushed all over; and, as he
in vain looked up and down, this way and that, his cheeks grew hotter
and hotter, and he moved about in the most uneasy way, to the great
amusement of his many tormentors, until at last his eyes subsided
finally into his teacup, from which he did not again venture to raise
them until tea was over.  But Walter was at once up to the trick, and
felt thoroughly obliged to Henderson and Kenrick for telling him of it.
So he waited till he saw that a good dozen fellows were all intently
staring at him; and then, looking up very simply and naturally, he met
the gaze of two or three of them steadily in succession, and stared them
out of countenance with a quiet smile.  This turned the laugh against
them; and he heard the remark that he was "up to snuff, and no mistake."
No one ever tried to make Walter smoke again, but for some time it used
to be a regular joke to pass round word at tea-time, "Let's make Tracy
smoke," and as Tracy always _did_ smoke till he got thoroughly used to
it, he was generally glad when tea-time was over.

In spite of Henderson, who poked fun at them all tea-time (till he saw
that he really embarrassed them, and then he desisted), Kenrick sat by
Walter, and took him more or less under his protection; for an "old boy"
can always patronise a newcomer at first, even if they are of the same
age.

From Kenrick Walter learnt, rather to his dismay, that he really would
have no place to sit in except the big schoolroom, which he would share
with some fifty others, and that he would be placed in a dormitory with
at least five or six besides himself.

"Have you been examined yet?" asked Kenrick.

"No; but Dr Lane asked me what books I had read, and he told me that I
was to go and take my chance in Mr Paton's form.  What form is that?"

"It's what we call the Virgil form.  Have you ever read Virgil?"

"No; at least only a few easy bits."

"I wish you joy, then."

"Why? what sort of a fellow is Mr Paton?"

"Mr Paton? he's not a man at all; he's a machine; he's the wheel of a
mill; he's a cast-iron automaton; he's--"

"The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet,"
observed Henderson, who had caught a fragment of the conversation.  "I'm
in his form, too, worse luck!"

"Hush! shut up, Henderson, and don't be profane," said Kenrick.  "Well,
Evson, you'll soon find out what Paton's like; anything but `a patten of
bright gold' at any rate."

"Oh! oh! turn him out for his bad pun," said Henderson, hitting him with
a pellet of bread, for which offence he immediately received "fifty
lines" from the master at the other end of the table.

"Don't abuse Paton," said a boy named Daubeny, which name Henderson had
long ago contracted into Dubbs.  "I always found him a capital master to
be under, and really very kind."

"Oh, _you_--yes," answered Kenrick; "if we were all gifted with your
mouselike stillness in school, my dear old Dubbs--"

"And your metallic capacity of grind, my dear old Dubbs," added
Henderson.

"And your ostrich-like digestion of crabbed rules, my dear old Dubbs;
why, then," said Kenrick, "we should all be boys after Paton's heart."

"Or Paton's pattern," suggested Henderson; so it was now Kenrick's turn
to shudder at a miserable attempt at a pun, and return Henderson's
missile, whereupon he got a _hundred_ lines, which made him pull a very
long face.

"Who's to be your tutor, Evson?" he asked after this interlude.

"I suppose you're going to pick him to pieces, now," said Daubeny,
smiling; "don't you believe half they say of him, Evson."

"Oh, if you're sharp, and successful, and polite, and gentlemanly, and
jolly, and all that sort of thing, he'll like you very much, and be
exceedingly kind to you; but if you are lazy, or mischievous, or stupid,
or at all a pickle, he'll ignore you, snub you, won't speak to you.  I
wish you'd been in the same pupil-room with me."

"Depends on who he is, O virtuous Dubbs," said Henderson.  "His end
shall be `pieces,' as _Punch_ says, if he deserves it."

"He told me I was to be Mr Robertson's pupil," said Walter.  "Hum-m!"
observed Kenrick.  "Why, what sort of a person is he?"

"Some of his pups detest him, others adore him."

"Why?"

"Who's your tutor, then?"

"Percival; there, the master who is chatting and laughing with those
monitors.  He's a regular brick.  _Plinthos estin_ as we say in Greek,"
said Kenrick.  "Halloa! tea's over."

"And you've been chattering so much that the new fellow's had none,"
said Henderson, as a bell rang and one of the monitors read a short
Latin grace.

The boys streamed out, and Kenrick helped his new friend to unpack his
books and other treasures, and put them in his desk, for which they
ordered a new lock.  The rest of the evening was occupied with "Evening
Work," a time during which all the boys below a certain form sat in the
schoolroom, and prepared their lessons for the next day, while a master
occupied the desk to superintend and keep order.  As other boys who were
in the same form with himself were doing no work, Walter did not suppose
that any work would be expected of him the next morning, and he
therefore occupied his time in writing a long letter home.  When this
was over he began talking to Henderson, of whom he had a thousand
questions to ask, and whose chief amusement seemed to consist in
chaffing everybody, and whom, nevertheless, everybody seemed to regard
as a friend.  At nine a bell rang, the whole school went to chapel,
where a short evening service was held, and then all but the higher
forms, and the boys who had separate rooms, went to bed.  As Walter lay
down to sleep, he felt at least a century older than he had done that
morning.  Everything was marvellously new to him, but on the whole he
was inclined to take a bright view of things.  Two of the things which
had happened to him gave him special delight: the sight of the sea, and
the happy dawn--for as such he regarded it--of a genuine, hearty, boyish
friendship, both with Henderson and Kenrick.  When the gas was turned
off, tired out with his journey and his excitement, he quickly fell
asleep.

And, falling asleep, he at once passed into the land of dreams.  He was
out on the sea with Kenrick and Henderson in a row-boat, and all three
of them were fishing.  First there was a pull at Henderson's line, and,
tugging it up, he caught not a fish, but Jones, who, after a few
flounderings, lay down in the fish-basket.  As this did not in the least
surprise any of them, and excited no remark whatever, they set to work
again, and Kenrick had a bite this time, which proved to be Howard
Tracy, whom they laid quietly in the bottom of the boat, Jones
assisting.  The third time Walter himself had a tug, and was in the act
of hauling up Dubbs, when he became conscious that the boat was rocking
very violently, and he felt rather surprised that he was not seasick.
This seemed to give a new current to his thoughts, for all of a sudden
he was out riding with someone, and his horse began to rear in the most
uncomfortable manner, right on his hind legs.  He kept his seat
manfully--but no! that last rear was too much, and, suddenly waking, he
was at once aware that his bed was rising and falling in a series of
heavy shakes and bumps, whereby he was nearly flung off the mattress.
He instantly guessed the cause, for indeed, Kenrick had given him a hint
of such a possibility.  He knew that someone, wishing to frighten him,
had got under the bed, and was heaving it up and down with his back.
All that he had noticed when he undressed was, that there were several
big fellows in the dormitory, and he knew that the room had rather a bad
reputation for disorder and bullying.

Being a strong little fellow, brave as a lion, and very active, Walter
was afraid of no one; so springing up during a momentary cessation of
the mysterious upheavals, he instantly made a dash under the bed, and
seized someone by the leg.  The leg kicked violently, and as a leg is a
particularly strong limb, it succeeded in disengaging itself from
Walter's hands, not, however, till it had left a slipper as a trophy;
and with this slipper Walter pursued a dim white figure, which he could
just see scuttling away through the darkness to the other side of the
room.  This figure he overtook just in time to give it some resounding
smacks with the sole of the slipper; when the figure clutched a
counterpane off the nearest bed, flung it over Walter, and made good an
escape, while Walter was entangled, Agamemnon-like, in the voluminous
folds.  Walter, however, still kept possession of the slipper, and was
determined next morning to discover the owner.  He knew that it was
probably some bigger fellow who had been playing this game, and his
common sense told him that it was best to take it good-humouredly as a
joke, and yet at the same time to make it as little pleasant as possible
for the perpetrator, even if he got thrashed himself.  A bully or a
joker of practical jokes is not likely to do things which cause himself
a certain amount of discomfort, even if he succeeds in causing a still
greater amount to someone else.

Walter cared very little for this adventure.  It certainly annoyed him a
little, and it showed him that some of the others in his dormitory must
be more or less brutes, if they could find it amusing to break the sleep
and play on the fears of a new boy the very night of his arrival among
them.  But he thought no more about it, and was quite determined that it
should not happen often.

Far different was the case with poor little Arthur Eden, another new
boy, who, as Walter had observed, occupied the bed next to him.  He had
been roused from his first sweet sleep in the same way, about the same
time as Walter.  But no one had prepared him for this annoyance, and as
he was a very timid child, it filled him with terror; he was even so
terrified that he did not know what it was.  He lay quite still, not
daring to speak, or make a sound, only clinging to his mattress with
both hands in an agony of dread.  He was already worn and bewildered
with the events of the day.  He had fallen amongst the Philistines; at
the very moment of his arrival he had got into bad hands, the hands of
boys who made sport of his weakness, corrupted his feelings, and
lacerated his heart.  He was very young--a mere child of twelve--and in
the innocence of his simplicity he had unreservedly answered all their
questions, and prattled to them about his home, about his twin sister,
about nearly all his cherished secrets.  In that short space of time he
had afforded materials enough for the coarse jeers of the brutal, and
the poignant ridicule of the cruel for many a long day.  Something of
this derision had begun already, and he had found no secret place to
hide his tears.  That they would call him a milksop, a molly-coddle, and
all kinds of horrid names, he knew, and he had tried manfully to bear-up
under persecution.  It was not until after many hot and silent drops had
relieved the fever of his overwrought brain, that sleep had come to him,
and now it was broken thus.

O parents and guardians--anxious, yet unwise class--why, tell me why,
knowing all that you must know, do you send such children as this to
school?  Eden's mother, indeed, had opposed the step, but his guardian
(for the boy's father was dead), seeing that he was being spoilt at
home, and that he was naturally a shrinking and timid lad, had urged
that he should be sent to Saint Winifred's, with some vague notion of
making a man of him.  He might as well have thrown a piece of Brussels
lace into the fire with the intention of changing it into open
iron-work.  The proper place for little Eden would have been some
country parsonage, where care and kindliness might have gradually helped
him, as he grew older, to acquire the faculties which he had not;
whereas, in this case, a public school only impaired for a time in that
tender frame the bright yet delicate qualities which he had.

The big, clumsy ne'er-do-well of a boy, Cradock by name, who was choking
with secret laughter as he tilted little Eden's bed--leaving a pause of
frightful suspense now and then to let him recover breath and realise
his situation--was as raw and ill-trained a fellow as you like, but he
had nothing in him wilfully or diabolically wicked.  If he had been
similarly treated he would have broken into a great guffaw, and emptied
his water-jug over the intruder; and yet if he could have seen the new
boy at that moment, he would have seen that pretty little face--only
meant as yet for the smiles of childhood--white with an almost idiotic
terror, and he would have caught a staring and meaningless look in the
glassy eyes which were naturally so bright and blue.  But he really did
not know--being merely an overgrown stupid fellow--the mischief he was
doing, and the absolute horrible torment that his jest (?) was
inflicting.

Finding that his joltings produced no apparent effect, and thinking that
Eden might, by some strange somnolence peculiar to new boys, sleep
through it all, he tilted the bed a little too high, and then indeed a
wild shriek rang through the room as the mattress and clothes tumbled
right over at the foot of the bed, and flung the child violently on the
floor.  Fortunately the heap of bed-clothes prevented him from being
much hurt, and Cradock had just time to pick him up and huddle him into
bed again, and jump back into his own bed, when the lamp of one of the
masters, who had been attracted by Eden's cry, appeared through the
door.  The master, finding all quiet, and having come from a distant
room, supposed that his ears had deceived him, or that the cry was some
accidental noise outside the building.  He merely walked round the room,
and seeing Eden's bed-clothes rather tumbled, kindly helped the
trembling child to replace them in a more comfortable order, and left
the room.

"I say, that's quite enough for one night," said the voice of one of the
boys, when the master had disappeared.  "You new fellows can go to
sleep.  Nobody'll touch you again to-night."  The speaker was Franklin,
rather a scapegrace in some respects, but a boy of no unkindly nature.

The light and the noise had revealed to Walter something of what must
have taken place.  In his own case, he cared very little for the
assurance that he would not be molested again that night, feeling quite
sure that he could hold his own against anyone, and that his former
enemy, at any rate, would not be likely to assault him again.  But he
was very, very glad for poor little Eden's sake, having caught a
momentary glimpse of his scared and pitiable look.

Walter could not sleep for a long time, not till long after he heard
from the regular breathings of the others that they were all in deep
slumber.  For there were sounds which came from Eden's bed which
disturbed his heart with pity.  His feelings bled for the poor little
fellow, so young and fresh from home, a newcomer like himself, but
evidently so little accustomed to this roughness and so little able to
protect his own interests.  For a long time into the night he heard the
poor child crying and sobbing to himself, though he was clearly trying
to stifle the sound.  At last Walter could stand it no longer, and
feeling sure that the rest were sound asleep, he whispered in his
kindest tone, for he didn't know his neighbour's name--

"I say, you little new fellow."

The sound of sobbing was hushed for a moment, but the boy seemed afraid
to answer; so Walter said again--"Are you awake?"

"Yes," said a weak, childish voice.

"Don't be afraid; I'm a new fellow, too.  Tell me your name."

"Eden," he whispered tremulously, though reassured by the kindly tone of
voice.  "Hush! hush! you'll awake someone."

"No, I won't," said Walter.  "Here, I'll come and speak to you;" and
stepping noiselessly out of bed, he whispered in Eden's ear, "Never
mind, my poor little fellow; don't be frightened; the boy didn't mean to
hurt you; he was only shoving your bed up and down for a joke.  Someone
did the same to me, so I jumped up and licked him with a slipper."

"But I got so frightened.  Oh, do you think they'll do it again
to-night?"

"No, certainly, not again to-night," said Walter; "they're all asleep;
and if anyone does it again another night, you must just slip out of bed
and not mind it.  It doesn't hurt."

"Thank you," whispered Eden; "you're very kind, and nobody else has been
kind to me here.  Will you tell me _your_ name?"

"My name's Walter Evson.  Do you know, your voice and look remind me of
my little brother.  There," he said, tucking him up in bed, "now
good-night, and go to sleep."

The little fellow pressed Walter's hand hard, said good-night, and soon
forgot his misery in a sleep of pure weariness.  I do not think that he
would have slept at all that night, but for the comforting sense that he
had found, to lean upon, a stronger nature and a stronger character than
his own.  Walter heard him breathing peacefully, and then he too fell
asleep, and neither woke nor dreamt (that he was aware of), until
half-past seven the next morning, when a servant roused the boys by
ringing a large hand-bell in their ears.



CHAPTER FIVE.

SCHOOL TROUBLES.

  The sorrows of thy youthful day Shall make thee wise in coming years!
  The brightest rainbows ever play Above the fountains of our tears.

  Mackay.

Walter jumped up and began to dress at once; Eden, still looking pale
and frightened, soon followed his example, and recognised him with a
smile of gratitude.  None of the other five boys who occupied the room
thought of stirring until the chapel-bell began to ring, which left them
the ample space of a quarter of an hour for their orisons, ablutions,
and all other necessary preparations!

Walter, who was now half-dressed, glanced at them as they got up, to
discover the owner of the slipper, which he still kept in his
possession.  He watched for the one-sandalled enemy as eagerly as Pelias
may be supposed to have done.  First Jones tumbled out of bed, not even
deigning a surly recognition, but Jones had his right complement of
slippers.  Then two other fellows, named Anthony and Franklin, not quite
so big as Jones; their slippers were all right.  Then Cradock, who
looked a little shyly at Eden, and, after a while, told him that he was
only playing a joke the night before, and was sorry for having
frightened him; and last, Harpour, the biggest of the lot.  Harpour was
one of those fellows who are to be found in every school, and who are
always dangerous characters: a huge boy, very low down in the forms,
very strong, very stupid in work, rather good-looking, generally cut by
the better sort, unredeemed by any natural taste or accomplishment,
wholly without influence except among little boys (whom he alternately
bullied and spoilt), and only kept at school by his friends, because
they were rather afraid of him, and did not quite know what to do with
him.  They called it "keeping him out of mischief," but the mischief he
did at school was a thousandfold greater than any which he could have
done elsewhere; for, except at school, he would have been comparatively
powerless to do any positive harm.

By the exhaustive process of reasoning, Walter had already concluded
that Harpour must have been his nocturnal disturber; and, accordingly,
after thrusting a foot into a slipper, Harpour began to exclaim, "Hallo!
where's my other slipper?  Confound it, I shall be late; I can't dress;
where's my other slipper?"

Wishing to leave him without escape from the necessity of betraying
himself to have been the author of last night's raid, Walter made no
sign, until Harpour, who had not any time to lose, said to him--

"Hi! you new chap, have you got my slipper?"

"I've got _a_ slipper," said Walter, blandly.

"The deuce you have.  Then give it here, this minute."

"I captured it off someone's leg, who was under my bed last night," said
Walter, giving it into Harpour's hand.

"The deuce you did!"

"Yes; and I smacked the fellow with it, as I will do again, if he comes
again."

"The deuce you will!  Then take that for your impudence," said Harpour,
intending to bring down the slipper on his shoulder; but Walter dodged
down, and parrying the blow with his arm, sent the slipper in a graceful
parabola across the wash-hand-stand into Jones's basin.

"So, so," said Harpour, "_you're_ a pretty cool hand, you are!  Well,
I've no time to settle accounts with you now, or I should be late for
chapel.  But--"

A significant pantomime explained the remainder of the sentence, and
then Harpour, standing in his one slipper, hastily adjourned to his
toilet.  Walter, being dressed in good time, knelt down for a few
moments of hearty prayer, helped poor Eden, who was as helpless as
though he had been always dressed by a servant, to finish dressing, and
ran across the court into the chapel just as the bell stopped.  There
were still two minutes before the door was shut, and he occupied them by
watching the boys as they streamed in, many of them with their
waistcoats only half buttoned, and others with the water-drops still
dangling from their hastily combed hair.  He saw Tracy saunter in very
neat, but with a languid air of disapprobation, blushing withal as he
entered; Eden, whose large eyes looked bewildered until he caught sight
of Walter and sat down beside him; Kenrick, beaming as ever, who nodded
to him as he passed by; Henderson, who, notwithstanding the time and
place, found opportunity to whisper to him a hope that he had washed his
desirable person in clear water; Plumber looking as if his credulity had
been gorged beyond endurance; Daubeny, with eyes immovably fixed in the
determination to know his lessons that day; and lastly, Harpour, who had
just time to scuffle in hot, breathless, and exceedingly untidy, as the
chaplain began the opening sentence.

"Where am I to go now?" asked Eden, when chapel was over.

"Well, Eden, I know as little as you.  You'd better ask your tutor.
Here, Kenrick," said Walter, "which of those black gowns is Mr
Robertson?--this fellow's tutor and mine."

Kenrick pointed out one of the masters, to whom Eden went; and then
Walter asked, "Where am I to go to Mr Paton's form?"

"Here, let me lead the victim to the sacrifice," said Henderson.  "O for
a wreath of cypress or funeral yew, or--"

"Nettles?" suggested Kenrick.

"Observe, new boy," said Henderson, "your eternal friend's delicate
insinuation that you are a donkey.  Here, come with me and I'll take you
to be patted on."  Henderson's exuberant spirits prevented his ever
speaking without giving vent to slang, bad puns, or sheer good-humoured
nonsense.

"Aren't you in that form, Kenrick?" asked Walter, as he saw him
diverging to the right.

"Oh no! dear me, no!" said Henderson.  "_I_ am, but the eternal friend
is at least two forms higher; he, let me tell you, is a star of no
ordinary magnitude; he's in the Thicksides"--meaning the Thucydides'
class.  "You'll require no end of sky-climbing before you reach _his_
altitude.  And now, victim, behold your sacrificial priest," he said,
placing Walter at the end of a table among some thirty boys who were
seated in front of a master's desk in the large schoolroom, in various
parts of which other forms were also beginning work under similar
superintendence.  When all the forms were saying lessons at the same
time it may be imagined that the room was not very still, and that a
master required good lungs who had to teach and talk there for hours.

Not that Mr Paton's form contributed very much to the quota of general
noise.  Although Henderson had chaffed Daubeny on his virtuous
stillness, yet all the boys sat very nearly as quiet as Dubbs himself
during school hours.  Even Henderson and such mercurial spirits were
awed into silence and sobriety.  You would hardly have known that in
that quarter of the room there _was_ a form at all.  Quicksilver itself
would have lost its volatility under Mr Paton's manipulation.

It was hard at first sight to say why this was.  Certainly Mr Paton set
many punishments, but so did other masters, who had not half his
success.  The secret was that Mr Paton was something of a _routinier_,
and that was the word which, if he had known it, Kenrick would have used
to describe him.  If he set an imposition, the imposition must be done,
and must be done at a certain time, without appeal, and _causa indicta_.
Mr Paton was as deaf as Pluto to all excuses, and as inexorable as
Rhadamanthus in his retributive dispensations.  Neither Orpheus nor
Amphion would have moved him.  Orpheus might have made all the desks and
forms dance round as they listened to his song, but he could never have
got Mr Paton to let off fifty lines; and Amphion would have been
equally unsuccessful even if the walls of the court had come as
petitioners in obedience to his strains.  As for remitting a lesson, Mr
Paton would not have done it if Saint Cecilia had offered him the whole
wreath of red and white roses which the admiring angels twined in her
golden hair.

Mr Paton's rule was not the leaden rule of Lesbos [Aristophanes, Nic.
Eth., v. 14.]; it could not be bent to suit the diversities of
individual character, but was a rule iron and inflexible, which applied
equally to all.  His measure was that of Procrustes; the cleverest boys
could not stretch themselves beyond it, the dullest were mechanically
pulled into its dimensions.  Hence some fared hardly under it; yet let
me hasten to say that, on the whole, with the great number of average
boys, it was a success.  The discipline which he established was
perfect, and though many boys winced under it at the time, it was
valuable to all of them, especially to those of an idle or sluggish
tendency; and as it was rigid just as well as severe, they often learned
to look back upon it with gratitude and respect.

After a time the form went up to say a lesson.  Each boy was put on in
turn.  When it came to Walter's turn Mr Paton first inquired his name,
which he entered with extreme neatness in his class-book--a book in
which there was not a single blot from the first page to the last.  He
then put him on as he had put on the rest.

"I had no book, sir, and didn't know what the lesson was," said Walter.

"Excuses, sir, excuses!" said Mr Paton sternly.  "You mean that you
haven't learnt the lesson."

"Yes, sir."

"A bad beginning, Evson; bring me no excuses in future.  You must write
the lesson out."  And an ominous entry implying this fact was written by
Walter's freshly-entered name.  Most men would have excused the first
punishment, and contented themselves with a word of admonition; but this
wasn't Mr Paton's way.  He held with Escalus that--

  "Mercy is not itself that oft looks so!
  Pardon is still the nurse of second woe."

  [Measure for Measure, act two, scene 1.]

Now it happened that Walter hated excuses, and had always looked on them
as first cousins to lies, and he determined never again to render to Mr
Paton any reason which could by any possibility be construed into an
excuse.  He therefore had to undergo a large amount of punishment, which
he flattered himself could not by any possibility have been avoided.

On this occasion Henderson was also turned, and with him a boy named
Bliss.  It was quite impossible for Henderson to be unemployed on some
nonsense, and heedless of the fact that he was himself Bliss's companion
in misfortune, he opened a poetry-book, and taking Lycidas as his model,
sat unusually still, while he occupied himself in composing a "Lament
for Blissidas," beginning pathetically--

  "Poor Blissidas is turned; turned ere his prime
  Young Blissidas, and hath not left his peer;
  Who would not weep for Blissidas?  He knew
  Himself to say his Rep.--but give him time--
  He must not quaff his glass of watery beer
  Unchaffed, or write, his paper ruled and lined,
  Without the meed of some melodious jeer."

"I'll lick you, Flip, after school," said the wrathful Bliss, shaking
his fist, as Henderson began to whisper to him this monody.

"Why do they call you Flip?" asked Walter laughing.

"Short for Flibberty-gibbet," said Bliss.

"Bliss, Henderson, and Evson, do me two hundred lines each," said Mr
Paton; and so on this, his first morning in school, a second punishment
was entered against Walter's name.

"Whew-w-w... abomination of... spoken of by... hush!" was Henderson's
whispered comment.  "I call that hard lines."  But he continued his
"Lament for Blissidas" notwithstanding, introducing Saint Winifred and
other mourners over Bliss's fate, and ending with the admonition that in
writing the lines he was--

  "To touch the tender tops of various quills,
  And mind and dot his quaint enamelled i's."

When Walter asked his tutor for the paper on which to write his
punishment, Mr Robertson said to him, "Already, Evson!" in a tone of
displeasure, and with a sarcasm hardly inferior to that of Talleyrand's
celebrated "Deja."  "Two hundred lines and a lesson to write out
_already_!"  Bitter; with no sign of sympathy, without one word of
inquiry, of encouragement for the future, or warning about the past; no
advice given, no interest shown; no wonder that Walter never got on with
his tutor.

The days that began for Walter from this time were days of darkness and
disappointment.  He was not deficient in natural ability, but he had
undergone no special training for Saint Winifred's School, and
consequently many things were new to him in which other boys had been
previously trained.  The practice of learning grammar by means of Latin
rules was particularly trying to him.  He could have easily mastered the
facts which the rules were intended to impress, but the empirical
process suggested for arriving at the facts he could not remember, even
if he could have construed the crabbed Latin in which it was conveyed.
His father, too, had never greatly cultivated his powers of memory, and
hence he felt serious difficulty at first with the long lessons that had
to be learnt by heart.

Mr Paton's system was simply this.  If a boy failed in a lesson from
any mundane cause whatever, he had to write it out; if he failed to
bring it written out, he had to write it twice; if he was turned in a
second lesson he was sent to detention, _i.e._, he was kept in during
play hours; if this process was long-continued he was sent to the
headmaster in disgrace, and ran the chance of being flogged as an
incorrigible idler.  Mr Paton, who was devoted to a system, made no
allowance for difference of ability, or for idiosyncrasies of
temperament; he was a truly good man, at bottom a really kind-hearted
man, and a genuine Christian; but the system which he had adopted was
his "idol of the cave," and, as we said before, the _Kavwv molubdinos_
was unknown to him.

Now, the way the system worked on Walter was this: he failed in lessons
because they were so new to him that he found it impossible to master
them.  He was not accustomed to work in such a crowded and noisy place
as the great schoolroom, and the early hour for going to bed left little
time for evening work.  Accordingly he often failed, and whenever he
did, the impositions, or detentions, or both, took away from his
available time for mastering his difficulties, and as this necessitated
fresh failures, every single punishment became frightfully accumulative,
and, alas! before three weeks were over, Walter was "sent up for bad" to
the headmaster.  By this he felt degraded and discouraged to the last
degree.  Moreover, harm was done to him in many other ways.  Conscious
that all this disgrace had come upon him without any serious fault of
his own, and even in spite of his direct and strenuous efforts, he
became oppressed with a sense of injustice and undeserved persecution.
The apparent uselessness of every attempt to shake himself free from
these trammels of routine rendered him desperate and reckless, and the
serious diminution of his hours for play and exercise made him
dispirited and out-of-sorts.  And all this brought on a bitter fit of
homesickness, during which he often thought of writing home and
imploring to be removed from the school, or even of taking his
deliverance into his own hands, and running away himself.  But he knew
that his father and mother were already distressed beyond measure to
hear of the mill-round of punishment and discredit into which he had
fallen, and about which he frankly informed them; so for their sakes he
determined to bear-up a little longer.

Walter was getting a bad name as an idler, and was fast losing his
self-respect.  And when that sheet-anchor is once lost, anything may
happen to the ship; however gay its trim, however taut its sides,
however delicate and beautiful the curve of its prow, it may drive
before the gale, it may be dashed pitilessly among the iron rocks, or
stranded hopelessly upon the harbour bar.  A little more of this
discipline, and a boy naturally noble-hearted and capable, might have
been transformed into a mere moon-calf, like poor Plumber, or a cruel
and vicious bully, like Harpour or Jones.

Happily our young Walter was saved by other influences from losing his
self-respect.  He was saved from it by one or two kindly and genial
friendships; by success in other lines, and by the happy consciousness
that his presence at Saint Winifred's was a help and comfort to some who
needed such assistance with sore need.

One afternoon he was sitting disconsolately on a bench which ran along a
blank wall on one side of the court, doing absolutely nothing.  He was
too disgusted with the world and with himself even to take up a novel.
It was three o'clock, and the court was deserted for the playground, as
a match had been announced that afternoon between the sixth-form and the
school, at which all but a very few (who never did anything but loaf
about), were either playing or looking on.  To sit with his head bent
down, on a bench in an empty court doing nothing while a game was going
on, was very unlike the Walter Evson of six weeks before; but at that
moment Walter was weary of detention, which was just over; he was
burdened with punishments, he was half sick for want of exercise, and he
was too much out of spirits to do anything.  Kenrick and Henderson had
noticed and lamented the change in him.  Not exactly knowing the causes
of his ill-success, they were astonished to find so apparently clever a
boy taking his place among the sluggards and dunces.  With this,
however, they concerned themselves less than with the settled gloom
which was falling over him, and which rendered him much less available
when they wanted to refresh themselves by talking a little nonsense, or
amusing themselves in any other way.  On this day, guessing how it was
likely to be, Kenrick had proposed not to join the game until detention
was over, and then to make Evson come up and play; and Henderson had
kindly offered to stay with him, and add his persuasions to his
friend's.

As they came out ready dressed for football, they caught sight of him.

"Come along, old fellow; you're surely going to fight for the school
against the sixth," said Kenrick.

"Isn't it too late?"

"No; anyone is allowed a quarter of an hour's grace."

"Excuse number one bowled down," said Henderson.

"But I'm not dressed; I shan't have time to put on my Jersey."

"Never mind, you'll only want your cap and belt, and can play in your
shirt-sleeves."

"There goes excuse number two; so cut along," said Henderson, "and get
your belt.  We'll wait for you here.  Why, the eternal friend's getting
as wasted with misery as the daughter of Babylon," said Henderson, as
Walter ran off.

"Yes," said Kenrick.  "I don't like to see that glum look instead of the
merry face he came with.  Never mind; the game'll do him good; I never
saw such a player; he looks just like the British lion when he gets into
the middle of the fray; plunges at everything, and shakes his mane.
Here he is; come along."

They ran up and found a hotly-contested game swaying to and fro between
the goals; and Walter, who was very active and a first-rate runner, was
soon in the thick of it.  As the evenness of the match grew more
apparent the players got more and more excited.  It had been already
played several times, and no base had been kicked, except once by each
side, when the scale had been turned by a heavy wind.  Hence they
exhibited the greatest eagerness, as school and sixth alike held it a
strong point of honour to win, and a shout of approval greeted any
successful catch or vigorous kick.

Whenever the ball was driven beyond the bounds, it was kicked straight
in, generally a short distance only, and the players on both sides
struggled for it as it fell.  During one of these momentary pauses
Kenrick whispered to Walter, "I say, Evson, next time it's driven
outside I'll try to get it, and if you'll stand just beyond the crowd
I'll kick it to you, and you can try a run."

"Thanks," said Walter eagerly, "I'll do my best."  The opportunity soon
occurred.  Kenrick ran for the ball; a glance showed him where Walter
was standing; he kicked it with precision, and not too high, so that
there was no time for the rest to watch where it was likely to descend.
Walter caught it, and before the others could recover from their
surprise, was off like an arrow.  Of course, the whole of the opposite
side were upon him in a moment, and he had to be as quick as a deer, and
as wary as a cat.  But now his splendid running came in, and he was,
besides, rather fresher than the rest.  He dodged, he made wide detours,
he tripped some and sprang past others, he dived under arms and through
legs, he shook off every touch, wrenched himself free from one capturer
by leaving in his hands the whole shoulder of his shirt, and got nearer
and nearer to the goal.  At last he saw that there was one part of the
field comparatively undefended; in this direction he darted like
lightning--charged and spilt, by the vehemence of his impulse, two
fellows who stood with outstretched arms to stop him--seized the
favourable instant, and by a swift and clever drop-kick, sent the ball
flying over the bar amid deafening cheers, just as half the other side
flung him down and precipitated themselves over his body.

The run was so brilliant and so plucky, and the last burst so splendid,
that even the defeated side could hardly forbear to cheer him.  As for
the conquerors, their enthusiasm knew no bounds; they shook Walter by
the hand, patted him on the back, clapped him, and at last lifted him on
their shoulders for general inspection.  As yet he was known to very
few, and "Who's that nice-looking little fellow who got the school a
base?" was a question which was heard on every side.

"That's Evson; Evson; Evson, a new fellow," answered Kenrick, Henderson,
and all who knew him, as fast as they could, in reply to the general
queries.  They were proud to know him just then, and this little triumph
occurred in the nick of time to raise poor Walter in his own estimation.

"Thanks, Kenrick, thanks," he said, warmly grasping his friend's hand,
as they left the field.  "They ought to have cheered _you_, not me, for
if it hadn't been for you I should not have got that base."

"Pooh!" was the answer; "I couldn't have got it myself under any
circumstances; and even if I could, it is at least as much pleasure to
me that _you_ should have done it."

Of all earthly spectacles few are more beautiful, and in some respects
more touching, than a friendship between two boys, unalloyed by any
taint of selfishness, indiscriminating in its genuine enthusiasm,
delicate in its natural reserve.  It is not always because the hearts of
men are wiser, purer, or better than the hearts of boys, that "summae
puerorum amicitia: saepe cum toga deponuntur."



CHAPTER SIX.

A BURST OF WILFULNESS.

  --Nunquamne reponam
  Vexatus toties?

  Juvenal i. i.

Although Walter's football triumphs prevented him from losing
self-respect and sinking into wretchlessness or desperation, they did
not save him from his usual arrears of punishment and extra work.
Besides this, it annoyed him bitterly to be always, and in spite of all
effort, bottom, or nearly bottom, of his form.  He knew that this
grieved and disappointed his parents nearly as much as himself, and he
feared that they would not understand the reason which, in his case,
rendered it excusable--viz., the enormous amount of purely routine work
for which other boys had been prepared by previous training, and in
which, under his present discouragements and inconveniences, he felt it
impossible to recover ground.  It was hard to be below boys to whom he
knew himself to be superior in every intellectual quality; it was hard
for a boy really clever and lively, to be set down at once as an idler
and dunce.  And it made Walter very miserable.  For meanwhile Mr Paton
had taken quite a wrong view of his character.  He answered so well at
times, construed so happily, and showed such bright flashes of
intelligence and interest in parts of his work, that Mr Paton, making
no allowances for new methods and an untrained memory, set him down, by
an error of judgment, as at once able and obstinate, capable of doing
excellently, and wilfully refusing to do so.  This was a phase of
character which always excited his indignation; and it was for the boy's
own sake that he set himself to correct it, if possible.  On both sides,
therefore, there was some misunderstanding, and a consequent
exacerbation of mind which told injuriously on their daily intercourse.

Walter's vexation and misery reached its acme on the receipt by his
father of his first school character, which document his father sent
back for Walter's own perusal, with a letter which, if not actually
reproachful, was at least uneasy and dissatisfied in tone.

For the character itself Walter cared little, knowing well that it was
founded throughout on misapprehension; but his father's letter stirred
the very depths of his heart, and made them turbid with passion and
sorrow.  He received it at dinner-time, and read it as he went across
the court to the detention-room, of which he was now so frequent an
occupant.  It was a bright September day, and he longed to be out at
some game, or among the hills, or on the shore.  Instead of that, he was
doomed for his failures to two long weary hours of mechanical
pen-driving, of which the results were torn up when the two hours were
over.  He had had no exercise for the last week; all his spare time had
been taken up with impositions; Mr Robertson had given him a severe and
angry lecture that morning; even Mr Paton, who rarely used strong
language, had called him intolerable and incorrigible, and had
threatened a second report to the headmaster, because this was the tenth
successive Greek grammar lesson in which he had failed.  Added to all
this, he was suffering from headache and lassitude.  And now his
father's letter was the cumulus of his misfortunes.  A rebellious,
indignant, and violent spirit rose in him.  Was he always, for no fault
of his own, to be bullied, baited, driven, misunderstood, and crushed in
this way?  If it was of no use trying to be good, and to do his duty,
how would it do to try the other experiment--to fling off the trammels
of duty and principle altogether; to do all those things which
inclination suggested and the moral sense forbade; to enjoy himself; to
declare himself on the side of pleasure and self-indulgence?  Certainly
this would save him from much unpleasantness and annoyance in many ways.
He was young, vigorous, active; he might easily make himself more
popular than he was with the boys; and as for the authorities, do what
he would, it appeared that he could hardly be in worse disrepute than
now.  Vice bade high: as he thought of it all, his pen flew faster, and
his pulse seemed to send the blood bounding through his veins as he
tightened the grasp of his left-hand round the edge of the desk.

Hitherto the ideal which he had set before him, as the standard to be
attained during his school-life, had been one in which a successful
devotion to duty, and a real effort to attain to "godliness and good
learning," had borne the largest share.  But on this morning a very
different ideal rose before him; he would abandon all interest in school
work, and only aim at being a gay, high-spirited boy, living solely for
pleasure, amusement, and self-indulgence.  There were many such around
him--heroes among their schoolfellows, popular, applauded, and proud.
Sin seemed to sit lightly and gracefully upon them.  Endowed as he was
with every gift of person and appearance, to this condition at least he
felt that he could easily attain.  It was an ideal not, alas! unnatural
to the perilous age:

  "Which claims for manhood's vice the privilege
  Of boyhood--when young Dionysius seems
  All joyous as he burst upon the East
  A jocund and a welcome conqueror;
  And Aphrodite, sweet as from the sea
  She rose, and floated in her pearly shell
  A laughing girl; when lawless will erects
  Honour's gay temple on the Mount of God,
  And meek obedience bears the coward's brand;
  While Satan in celestial panoply
  With Sin, his lady, smiling by his side,
  Defies all heaven to arms."

Yes; he would follow the multitude to do all the evil which he saw being
done around him; it looked a joyous and delightful prospect.  He gazed
on the bright vision of sin, on the iridescent waters of pleasure; and
did not know that the brightness was a mirage of the burning desert, the
iridescence a film of corruption over a stagnant pool.

The letter from home was his chief stumbling-block.  He loved his father
and mother with almost passionate devotion; he clung to his home with an
intensity of concentrated love.  He really had tried to please them, and
to do his best; but yet they didn't seem to give him credit for it.
Look at this cold reproachful letter; it maddened him to think of it.

There was only one thing which checked him.  It was a little voice,
which had been more silent lately, because other and passionate tones
were heard more loudly; but yet even from a child poor Walter had been
accustomed to listen with reverence to its admonitions.  It was a voice
behind him saying--"This is the way, walk ye in it," now that he was
turning aside to the right-hand or to the left.  But the noble accents
in which it whispered of patience were drowned just now in the clamorous
turbulence of those other voices of appeal.

The two hours of detention were over, and the struggle was over too.
Walter drew his pen with a fierce and angry scrawl over the lines he had
written, showed them up to the master in attendance with a careless and
almost impudent air, and was hardly out of the room before he gave a
shout of emancipation and defiance.  Impatience and passion had won the
day.

He ran up to the playground as hard as he could tear to work off the
excitement of his spirits, and get rid of the inward turmoil.  On a
grass bank at the far end of it he saw two boys seated, whom he knew at
once to be Henderson and Kenrick, who, for a wonder, were reading, not
green novels, but Shakespeare!

"I'll tell you what it is, Henderson," he said; "I _can't_ and I _won't_
stand this any longer.  It's the last detention breaks the boy's back.
I hate Saint Winifred's, I hate Dr Lane, I hate Robertson, and I _hate,
hate, hate_ Paton!" he said, stamping angrily.

"Hooroop!" said Henderson; "so the patient Evson is on fire at last.
Tell it not to Dubbs."

"Why, Walter, what's all this about?" asked Kenrick.

"Why, Ken," said Walter, more quietly, "here's a history of my life:
Greek grammar, lines, detention, caning--caning, detention, lines, Greek
grammar.  I'm sick of it; I _can't_ and I _won't_ stand it any more."

"Whether," spouted Henderson, from the volume on his knee--

  "`Whether 'twere nobler for the mind to suffer
  The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
  Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.
  And by opposing end them!'"

"End them I will," said Walter; "somehow, I'll pay him out, depend upon
it."

"Recte si possis si non quocunque modo," said Somers, the head of the
school, whose fag Walter was, and who, passing by at the moment, caught
the last sentence; "what is the excitement among you small boys?"

"The old story--pitching into Paton," said Kenrick indifferently, and
rather contemptuously; for he was a _protege_ of Somers, and felt
annoyed that he should see Walter's unreasonable display, the more so as
Somers had asked him already, "why he was so much with that idle new
fellow who was always being placed lag in his form?"

"What's it all about?" asked Somers of Kenrick.

"Because he gets lines for missing his grammar, I suppose."  There was
something in the tone which was especially offensive to Walter; for it
sounded as if Kenrick wanted to show him the cold shoulder before his
_great_ friend, the head of the school.

"Oh, _that_ all?  Well, my dear fellow, the remedy's easy; work at it a
little harder;" and Somers walked on, humming a tune.

"I wonder what he calls _harder_," said Walter, shaking his fist; "when
I first came I used to get up quite early in the morning, and learn it
till I was half-stupid; I wonder whether he ever did as much?"

"Well, but it's no good abusing Paton," said Kenrick; "of course, if you
don't know the lesson, he concludes you haven't learnt it."

"Thank you for nothing, Kenrick," said Walter curtly; "come along,
Flip."

Kenrick was vexed; he was conscious of having shown a little coolness
and want of sympathy; and he looked anxiously after Henderson and Walter
as they walked away.

Presently he started up, and ran after them.  "Don't be offended,
Walter, my boy," he said, seizing his hand.  "I didn't mean to be cold
just now; but, really, I don't see why you should be so very wrathful
with Paton; what can a master do if one fails in a lesson two or three
times running? he must punish one, I suppose."

"Hang Paton," said Walter, shaking off his hand rather angrily, for he
was now thoroughly out of temper.

"O, very well, Evson," said Kenrick, whose chief fault was an intense
pride, which took fire on the least provocation, and which made him take
umbrage at the slightest offence; "catch me making an advance to you
again.  Henderson, you left your book on the grass;" and turning on his
heel, he walked slowly away--heavy at heart, for he liked Walter better
than any other boy in the school, and was half ashamed to break with him
about such a trifle.

Henderson, apart from his somewhat frivolous and nonsensical tone, was a
well-meaning fellow.  When he was walking with Walter, he had intended
to chaff him about his sudden burst of ill-temper, and jest away his
spirit of revenge; but he saw that poor Walter was in no mood for jokes,
and he quite lacked the moral courage to give good advice in a sober or
serious way, or to recommend any course _because_ it was right.  This,
at present, was beyond Henderson's standard of good, so he left Walter
and went back for his book.

And Walter, flinging into the schoolroom, found several spirits seven
times more wicked than himself, and fed the fire of his wrath with the
fuel of unbounded abuse, mockery, and scorn of Mr Paton, in which he
was heartily abetted by the others, who hailed all indications that
Walter was likely to become one of themselves.  And that evening,
instead of attempting to get up any of his work, Walter wasted the whole
time of preparation in noise, folly, and turbulence; for which he was
duly punished by the master on duty.

He got up next morning breathing, with a sense of defiance and
enjoyment, his new atmosphere of self-will.  He, of course, broke down
utterly, more utterly than ever, in his morning lessons, and got a
proportionately longer imposition.  Going back to his place, he
purposely flung down his books on the desk, one after another with a
bang; and for each book which he had flung down, Mr Paton gave him a
hundred lines, whereupon he laughed sarcastically, and got two hundred
more.  Conscious that the boys were watching with some amusement this
little exhibition of temper and trial of wills, he then took out a sheet
of paper, wrote on it, in large letters, the words Two Hundred Lines for
Mr Paton, and, amid the tittering of the form, carried it up to Mr
Paton's desk.

This was the most astoundingly impudent and insubordinate act which had
ever been done to Mr Paton for years, and it was now his turn to be
angry.  But mastering his anger with admirable determination, he merely
said, "Evson, you must be beside yourself this morning; it is very
rarely, indeed, that a new boy is so far gone in disobedience as this.
I have no hesitation in saying that you are the most audacious and
impertinent new boy with whom I have ever had to deal.  I must cane you
in my room after detention, to which you will of course go."

"Thank you, sir," said Walter, with a smile of impudent _sang froid_;
and the form tittered again as he walked noisily to his seat.  But Mr
Paton, allowing for his violent frame of mind, took no notice of this
last affront.

Whereupon Walter, taking another large piece of paper, and a spluttering
quill pen, wrote on it, with a great deal of scratching--

  Due from Evson to Mr Paton.

  For missing lesson... 100 lines.
  For laying down books... 300 lines.
  For laughing... 200 lines.
  For writing 200 lines...  A caning.

  Detention, of course.  Thank you for nothing.

And on the other side of the sheet he wrote in large letters--"No Go!"
Which, being done, he passed the sheet along the form _pour encourager
les autres_.

"Evson," said Mr Paton, quietly, "bring me that paper."

Walter took it up--looking rather alarmed this time--but with the side
"_No go_!" uppermost.

"What is this, Evson?"

"Number ninety, sir," said Walter, amid the now unconcealed laughter of
the rest, who knew very well that he had intended it for "No go."

Mr Paton looked curiously at Walter for a minute, and then said,
"Evson, Evson, I could not have thought you so utterly foolish.  Well,
you know that each fresh act _must_ have its fresh punishment.  You must
leave the room now, and _besides all your other punishments_ I must also
report you to the headmaster.  You can best judge with what result."

This was a mistake of Mr Paton's--a mistake of judgment only--for which
he cannot be blamed.  But it was a disastrous mistake.  Had he been at
all a delicate judge or reader of the phenomena of character, he would
have observed at once that at that moment there was a wild spirit of
anger, a rankling sense of injustice and persecution in Walter's heart,
which no amount of punishment could have cowed.  Walter just then might
without the least difficulty have been goaded into some act of violence
which would have rendered expulsion from the school an unavoidable
consequence.  So easy is it to petrify the will, to make a boy bad in
spite of himself, and to spoil, with no intentions but those of
kindliness and justice, the promise of a fair young life.  For when the
will has once been suffered to grow rigid by obstinacy--a result which
is very easy to avoid--no power on earth can bend it _at the time_.  Had
Mr Paton sent Walter out of the room before; had he at the end said,
"Evson, you are not yourself to-day, and I forgive you," Walter would
have been in a moment as docile and as humble as a child.  But as it
was, he left the room quite coolly, with a sneer on his lips, and banged
the door; yet the next moment, when he found himself in the court alone,
unsupported by the countenance of those who enjoyed his rebelliousness,
he seated himself on a bench in the courtyard, hung his head on his
breast, and burst into a flood of tears.  If any friend could have seen
him at that moment, or spoken one word in season, how much pain the poor
boy might have been saved!  Kenrick happened to cross the court; the
moment Walter caught sight of him he sat with head erect and arms
folded, but Kenrick was not to be deceived.  He had caught one glimpse
of Walter first; he saw his eyes wet with tears, and knew that he was in
trouble.  He hung on his foot doubtfully for one moment--but then his
pride came in; he remembered the little pettish repulse in the
playground the day before; the opportunity was lost, and he walked
slowly on.  And Walter's heart grew as hard within him as a stone.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

VOGUE LA GALERE.

  Ah!  Diamond, thou little knowest what mischief thou hast done.

  Life of Sir I. Newton.

That afternoon Mr Paton, going into the Combination Room, where the
masters often met, threw himself into one of the armchairs with an
unwonted expression of vexation and disgust on his usually placid
features.

"Why, what's the matter with you, Paton?" asked Mr Robertson.  "Is
to-day's _Times_ too liberal for your notions, or what?"

"No," said Mr Paton; "but I have just been caning Evson, a new boy, and
the fellow's stubborn obstinacy and unaccountable coolness annoy me
exceedingly."

"O yes; he's a pupil of mine, I'm sorry to say, and he has never been
free from punishment since he came.  Even your Procrustean rule seems to
fail with him, Paton.  What have you been obliged to cane him for?"

Mr Paton related Walter's escapade.

"Well, of course you had no choice but to cane him," replied his
colleague, "for such disobedience; but how did he take it?"

"In the oddest way possible.  He came in with punctilious politeness,
obviously assumed, with sarcastic intentions.  When I took up the cane
he stood with arms folded, and a singularly dogged look; in fact, his
manner disarmed me.  You know I detest caning, and I really could not do
it, never having had occasion for it for months together.  I gave him
two cuts, and then left off.  `May I go, sir?' he asked.  `Yes,' I said,
and he left the room with a bow and a `Thank you, sir.'  I am really
sorry for the boy; for as I was obliged to send him to Dr Lane, he will
probably get another flogging from him."

"What a worthless boy he must be," answered Mr Robertson.

"No, not exactly worthless; there's something about him I can't help
liking; but most impudent and stubborn."

"Excuse me," said Mr Percival, another of the masters, who had been
listening attentively to the conversation; "I humbly venture to think
that you're both mistaken in that boy.  I like him exceedingly, and
think him as promising a lad as any in the school.  I never knew any boy
behave more modestly and respectfully."

"Why, how do you know anything of him?" asked Mr Robertson in surprise.

"Only by accident.  I had once or twice noticed him among the _detenus_,
and being sorry to think that a new boy should be an _habitue_ of the
extra schoolroom, I asked him one day why he was sent.  He told me that
it was for failing in a lesson, and when I asked why he hadn't learnt
it, he said, very simply and respectfully, `I really did my very best,
sir; but it's all new work to me.'  Look at the boy's innocent, engaging
face, and you will be sure that he was telling me the truth.

"I'm afraid," continued Mr Percival, "you'll think this very slight
ground for setting my opinion against yours; but I was pleased with
Evson's manner, and asked him to come and take a stroll on the shore,
that I might know something more of him.  Do you know, I never found a
more intelligent companion.  He was all life and vivacity; it was quite
a pleasure to be with him.  Being new to the sea, he didn't know the
names of the commonest things on the shore, and if you had seen his face
light up as he kept picking up whelk's eggs, and mermaid's purses, and
zoophytes, and hermit-crabs, and bits of plocamium or coralline, and
asking me all I could tell him about them, you would not have thought
him a stupid or worthless boy."

"I don't know, Percival; _you_ are a regular conjuror.  All sorts of
ne'er-do-wells succeed under your manipulation.  You're a first-rate
hand at gathering grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles.  Why, even
out of that Caliban, old Woods, you used to extract a gleam of human
intelligence."

"He wasn't a Caliban at all.  I found him an excellent fellow at heart;
but what could you expect of a boy who, because he was big, awkward, and
stupid, was always getting flouted on all sides?  Sir Hugh Evans is not
the only person who disliked being made a `vlouting-stog.'"

"You must have some talisman for transmuting boys if you consider old
Woods an excellent fellow, Percival.  I found him a mass of laziness and
brute strength.  Do give me your secret."

"Try a little kindness and sympathy.  I have no other secret."

"I'm not conscious of failing in kindness," said Mr Robertson drily.
"My fault, I think, is being too kind."

"To clever, promising, bright boys--yes; to unthankful and evil boys
(excuse me for saying so)--no.  You don't try to descend to their dull
level, and so understand their difficulties.  You don't suffer fools
gladly, as we masters ought to do.  But, Paton," he said, turning the
conversation, which seemed distasteful to Mr Robertson, "will you try
how it succeeds to lay the yoke a little less heavily on Evson?"

"Well, Percival, I don't think that I've consciously bullied him.  I
can't make my system different to him and other boys."

"My dear Paton, forgive my saying that I don't think that a rigid system
is the fairest; _summa lex summa crux_.  Fish of very different sorts
and sizes come to our nets, and you can't shove a turbot through the
same mesh that barely admits a sprat."

"I'll think of what you say; but I must leave him in Dr Lane's hands
now," said Mr Paton.

"Who, I heartily hope, won't flog him," said Mr Percival.

"Why?  I don't see how he can do otherwise."

"Because it will simply drive him to despair; because, if I know
anything of his character, it will have upon him an effect incalculably
bad."

"I hope not," said Mr Paton.

The conversation dropped, and Mr Percival resumed his newspaper.

When Walter went to Dr Lane in the evening, the Doctor inquired kindly
and carefully into the nature of his offence.  This, unfortunately, was
clear enough, and Walter was far too ingenuous to attempt any
extenuation of it.  Even if he had not been intentionally idle, it was
plain, on his own admission, that he had been guilty of the greatest
possible insubordination and disrespect.  These offences were rare at
Saint Winifred's, and especially rare in a new boy.  Puzzled as he was
by conduct so unlike the boy's apparent character, and interested by his
natural and manly manner, yet Dr Lane had in this case no alternative
but the infliction of corporal punishment.

Humiliated again, and full of bitter anger, Walter returned to the great
schoolroom, where he was received with sympathy and kindness by the
others in his class.  It was the dark part of the evening before
tea-time, and the boys, sitting idly round the fire, were in an apt mood
for folly and mischief.  They began a vehement discussion about Paton's
demerits, and called him every hard name they could invent.  Walter took
little part in this, for he was smarting too severely under the sense of
oppression to find relief in mere abuse; but, from his flashing eyes and
the dark scowl that sat so ill on his face it was evident that a bad
spirit had obtained the thorough mastery over all his better and gentler
impulses.

"Can't we do something to serve the fellow out?" said Anthony, one of
the boys in Walter's dormitory.

"But _what_ can we do?" asked several.

"What, indeed?" asked Henderson, mockingly; and as it was his way to
quote whatever he had last been reading, he began to spout from the
peroration of a speech which he had seen in the paper--"Aristocracy,
throned on the citadel of power, and strong in--"

"What a fool you are, Henderson," observed Franklin, another of the
group; "I'll tell you what we can do: we'll burn that horrid black book
in which he enters the detentions and impositions."

"Poor book!" said Henderson; "what pangs of conscience it will suffer in
the flames!  Give it not the glory of such martyrdom.  Walter," he
continued, in a lower voice, "I hope that you'll have nothing to do with
this humbug?"

"I will though, Henderson; if I'm to have nothing but canings and
floggings, I may just as well be caned and flogged for _something_ as
for _nothing_."

"The desk's locked," said Anthony; "we shan't be able to get hold of the
imposition-book."

"I'll settle that," said Walter; "here, just hand me the poker, Dubbs."

"I shall do no such thing," said Daubeny quietly, and his reply was
greeted with a shout of derision.

"Why, you poor coward, Dubbs," said Franklin, "you _couldn't_ get
anything for handing the poker."

"I never supposed I could, Franklin," he answered; "and as for being a
coward, the real cowardice would be to do what's absurd and wrong for
fear of being laughed at or being kicked.  Well, you may hit me," he
said quietly, as Franklin twisted his arm tightly round, and hit him on
it, "but you can't make me do what I don't choose."

"We'll try," said Franklin, twisting his arm still more tightly, and
hitting harder.

"You'll try in vain," answered Daubeny, though the tears stood in his
eyes at the violent pain.

"Drop his arm, you Franklin," indignantly exclaimed Henderson, who,
though he was always teasing Daubeny, was very fond of him; "drop his
arm, or, by Jove! you'll find that two can play at that.  Dubbs is quite
right, and you're a set of asses if you think you'll do any good by
burning the punishment book.  I've got the poker, and you shan't have it
to knock the desk open.  I suppose Paton can afford sixpence to buy
another book; and enter a tolerable fresh score against you for this
besides."

"But he won't remember my six hundred lines, and four or five
detentions," said Walter.  "Here, give me the poker."

"Pooh! pooh!  Evson, of course he'll remember them.  Here, I'll help you
with the lines; I'll do a couple of hundred for you, and the rest you
can write with two pens at a time; it won't take you an hour.  I'll show
you the two-pen dodge; I'll admit you into the two-pen-etralia.  Like
Milton, you shall `touch the slender tops of various quills.'  No, no,"
he continued, in a playful tone in order not to make Walter in a greater
passion than he was, "you can't have the poker; anyone who wants that
must take it from me _vi et armis_."

"It doesn't matter; this'll do as well; and here goes," said Walter,
seizing a wooden stool.  "There's the desk open for you," he said, as he
brought the top of the stool with a strong blow against the lid, and
burst the lock with a great crash.

"My eyes! we _shall_ get into a row," said Franklin, opening his eyes to
illustrate his exclamation.

"Well, what's done's done; let's all take our share," said Anthony,
diving his hand into the desk.  "Here's the imposition-book for you, and
here goes leaf number one into the fire; you can tear out the next if
you like, Franklin."

"Very well," said Franklin; "in for a penny in for a pound; there _goes_
the second leaf."

"And here the third; over ankles over knees," said Barton, another of
those present.

"Proverbial Fool-osophy," observed Henderson, contemptuously, as Burton
handed him the book.  "Shall I be a silly sheep like the rest of you,
and leap over the bridge because your leader has?  I suppose I must,
though it's very absurd."  He wavered and hesitated; sensible enough to
disapprove of so useless a proceeding, he yet did not like to be thought
afraid.  He minded what fellows would _think_.

"Do what's right," said Daubeny, "and shame the devil.  Here, give me
the book.  Now, you fellows, you've torn out these leaves, and done
quite mischief enough.  Let me put the book back, and don't be like
children who hit the fender against which they've knocked their heads."

"Or dogs that bite the stick they've been thrashed with," said
Henderson.  "You're right, Dubbs, and I respect you; ay, you fellows may
sneer if you like, but I advised you not to do it, and I won't make
myself an idiot because you do."

"Never mind," drawled Howard Tracy.  "I hate Paton, and I'll do anything
to spite him," whereupon he snatched the book from Daubeny, and threw it
entire into the flames.  Poor Tracy had been even in more serious
scrapes with Mr Paton than Walter had; his vain manner was peculiarly
abhorrent to the master, who took every opportunity of snubbing him; but
nothing would pierce through the thick cloak of Tracy's conceit, and
fully satisfied with himself, his good looks, and his aristocratic
connections, he sat down in contented ignorance, and despised learning
too much to be in the least put out by being invariably the last in his
form.

"What, is there nothing left for me to burn?" said Walter, who sat
glowering on the high iron fender, and swinging his legs impatiently.
"Let's see what else there is in the desk.  Here are a pack of old
exercises, apparently; they'll make a jolly blaze.  Stop, though, _are_
they old exercises?  Well, never mind; if not, so much the better.  In
they shall go."

"Stop! what _are_ you doing, Walter?" said Henderson, catching him by
the arm; "you know these can't be old exercises.  Paton always puts
_them_ in his waste-paper basket, not in his desk.  Oh, Walter, what
_have_ you done?"

"The outside sheets were exercises anyhow," said Walter gloomily.
"Here, it's no good trying to save them now, whatever they were" (for
Henderson was attempting to rake them out between the bars); "they're
done for now," and he pressed down the thick mass of foolscap into the
reddest centre of the fire, and held it there until nothing remained of
it but a heap of flaky crimson ashes.

A dead silence followed, for the boys felt that now, at any rate, they
were "in for it."

The sound of the tea-bell prevented further mischief; and as Henderson
thrust his arm through Walter's, he said, "Oh, Evson, I wish you hadn't
done that!  I wish I'd got you to come away before.  What a passionate
fellow you are!"

"Well, it's done now," said Walter, already beginning to soften, and to
repent of his fatuity.

"What can we do?" said Henderson anxiously.

"Take the consequences, that's all," answered Walter.

"Hadn't you better go and tell Paton about it at once instead of letting
him find it out?"

"No," said Walter; "he's done nothing but bully me, and I don't care."

"Then let me go," said his friend earnestly.  "I know Paton well; I'm
sure he'd be ready to forgive you, if I explained it all to him."

"You're very good, Flip; but don't go:--it's too late."

"Well, Walter, you mustn't think that I had no share in this because of
being afraid.  I was one of the group, and I'll share the punishment
with you, whatever it is.  I hope for your sake it won't be found out."

But if Henderson had seen a little deeper he would have hoped that it
would be found out, for there is nothing that works quicker ruin to any
character than undiscovered sin.  It was happy for Walter that his wrong
impulses did _not_ remain undiscovered; happy for him that they came so
rapidly to be known and to be punished.

It was noised through the school in five minutes that Evson, one of the
new fellows, had smashed open Paton's desk and burned the contents.
"What an awful row he'll get into!" was the general comment.  Walter
heard Kenrick inquiring eagerly about it as they sat at tea; but Kenrick
didn't ask _him_ about it, though they sat so near each other.  After
the foolish, proud manner of sensitive boys, Walter and Kenrick, though
each liked the other none the less, were not on speaking terms.  Walter,
less morbidly proud than Kenrick, would not have suffered this silly
alienation to continue had not his attention been occupied by other
troubles.  Neither of them, therefore, liked to be the first to break
the ice, and now in his most serious difficulty Walter had lost the
advice and sympathy of his most intimate friend.

The fellows seemed to think that he must inevitably be expelled for this
_fracas_.  The poor boy's thoughts were very, very bitter as he laid his
head that night on his restless pillow, remembered what an ungovernable
fool he had been, and dreamt of his happy and dear-loved home.  How
strangely he seemed to have left his old, innocent life behind him, and
how little he would have believed it possible, two months ago, that he
could by any conduct of his own have so soon incurred, or nearly
incurred, the penalty of expulsion from Saint Winifred's School.

He had certainly yielded very quickly to passion, and he felt that in
consequence he had made his position more serious than that of other
boys who were in every sense of the word twice as bad as himself.  But
what he laid to the score of his ill-luck was in truth a very happy
providence by which punishment was sent speedily and heavily upon him,
and so his evil tendencies, mercifully nipped in the bud, crushed with a
tender yet with an iron hand before they had expanded more blossoms and
been fed by deeper roots.  He might have been punished less speedily had
his faults been more radical, or his wrong-doings of a deeper dye.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE BURNT MANUSCRIPT.

  All
  All my poor scrapings, from a dozen years
  Of dust and desk-work.

  Sea Dreams.

It may be supposed that during chapel the next morning, and when he went
into early school, Walter was in an agony of almost unendurable
suspense; and this suspense was doomed to be prolonged for some time,
until at last he could hardly sit still.  Mr Paton did not at once
notice that his desk was broken.  He laid down his books, and went on as
usual with the morning lesson.

At length Tracy was put on.  He stood up in his usual self-satisfied
way, looking admiringly at his boots, and running his delicate white
hand through his scented hair.  Mr Paton watched him with a somewhat
contemptuous expression, as though he were thinking what a pity it was
that any boy should be such a little puppy.  Henderson, with his usual
quick discrimination, had nicknamed Tracy the "Lisping Hawthornbud."

"Your fifth failure this week, Tracy; you must do the usual punishment,"
said Mr Paton, taking up his key to unlock the desk.

"Now for it," thought all the form, looking on with great anxiety.

The key caught hopelessly in the broken lock.  Mr Paton's attention was
aroused; he pushed the lid off the desk, and saw at once that it had
been broken open.

"Who has broken open my desk?"

No answer.

He looked very grave, but said nothing, looking for his imposition-book.

"Where is my imposition-book?"

No answer.

"And where is my--?"

Mr Paton stopped, and looked with the greatest eagerness over every
corner of the desk.

"Where is the manuscript I left here with my imposition-book?" he said
in a tone of the most painful anxiety.

"I do hope and trust," he said, turning pale, "that none of you have
been wicked enough to injure it," and here his voice faltered.  "When I
tell you that it was of the utmost value, I am sure that if any of you
have concealed or taken it, you will give it back at once."

There was deep silence.

"Once again," he asked, "where is my imposition-book?"

"Burnt, sir; burnt, sir," said one or two voices, hardly above a
whisper.

"And my manuscript?" he asked, in a louder voice, and in still greater
agitation.  "Surely, surely, you cannot have been so thoughtless, so
incredibly unjust as to--"

Walter stood up in his place, with his head bent, and his face covered
with an ashy whiteness.  "I burnt it, sir," he said, in an almost
inaudible voice, and trembling with fear.

"Come here," said Mr Paton impetuously; "I can't hear what you say.
Now, then," he continued, as Walter crept up beside his desk.

"I burnt it, sir," he said, in a whisper.

"You--burnt--it!" said Mr Paton, starting up in uncontrollable emotion,
which changed into a burst of anger as he gave Walter a box on the ear
which sounded all over the room, and made the boy stagger back to his
place.  But the flash of rage was gone in an instant; and the next
moment Mr Paton, afraid of trusting himself any longer, left his desk
and hurried out, anxious to recover in solitude the calmness of mind and
action which had been so terribly disturbed.

Mr Percival, who taught his form in another part of the room, seeing
Mr Paton box Walter so violently on the ear, and knowing that this was
the very reverse of his usual method, since he had never before touched
a boy in anger, walked up to see what was the matter, just as Mr Paton,
with great hurried strides, had reached the door.

"What is the matter with Mr Paton?" he asked.

There was a general murmur through the form, out of which Mr Percival
caught something about Mr Paton's papers having been burnt.

Anxious to fend him, to ask what had happened, Mr Percival, leaving the
room, caught sight of him pacing with hasty and uneven steps along a
private garden walk which belonged to the masters.

"I hope nothing unpleasant has occurred," he said, overtaking him.

"Oh, nothing, nothing," said Mr Paton, with quivering lip, as he turned
aside.  And then, suppressing his emotion by a powerful effort of
self-control, "It is only," he said, "that the hard results of fifteen
years' continuous labour are now condensed into a heap of smut and ashes
in the schoolroom fire."

"You don't mean to say that your Hebrew manuscripts are burnt?" asked
Mr Percival in amazement.

"You know how I have been toiling at them for years, Percival; you know
that I began them before I left college, that I regarded them as the
chief work of my life, and that I devoted to them every moment of my
leisure.  You know, too, the pride and pleasure which I took in their
progress, and the relief with which I turned to them from the vexations
and anxieties of one's life here.  To work at them has been for years my
only recreation and delight.  Well, they were finished at last; I was
only correcting them for the press; they would have gone to the printer
in a month, and I should have lived to complete a toilsome and
honourable task.  Well, the dream is over, and a handful of ashes
represents the struggle of my best years."

Mr Percival knew well that his coadjutor had been working for years at
a commentary on the Hebrew text of the Four Greater Prophets.  It had
been the cherished and chosen task of his life; he had brought to it
great stores of learning, accumulated in the vigour of his powers, and
the enthusiasm of a youthful ambition, and he had employed upon it every
spare hour left him from his professional duties.  He looked to it as
the means of doing essential service to the church of which he was an
ordained member, and, secondarily, as the road to reputation and
well-merited advancement.  And in five minutes the hand of one angry boy
had robbed him of the fruit of all his hopes.

"If they wanted to display the hatred which I well know that they feel,"
said Mr Paton bitterly, "they might have chosen any way, literally _any
way_, but that.  They might have left me, at least, that which was
almost my only pleasure and object in life, and which had no connection
with them or their pursuits."  And his face grew haggard as he stopped
in his walk, and tried to realise the extent of what he had lost.  "I
would rather have seen everything I possess in the whole world destroyed
than that," he said slowly, and with strong emotion.

"And was it really Evson who did this?" asked Mr Percival, filled with
the sincerest pity for his colleague's wounded feelings.

"It matters little who did it, Percival; but, yes, it was your friend
Evson."

"The little, graceless, abominable wretch!" exclaimed Mr Percival with
anger, "he must be expelled.  But can't you recommence the task?"

"Recommence?" said Mr Paton, in a hard voice; "and who will give me
back the hope and vigour of the last fifteen years? how shall I have the
heart again to toil through the same long trains of research and
thought? where are the hundreds of references which I had sought out and
verified with hours of heavy midnight labour? how am I to have access
again to the scores of books which I consulted before I began to work?
The very thought of it sickens me.  Youth and hope are over.  No,
Percival, there is no more to be said.  I am robbed of a life's work.
Leave me, please, alone for a little, until I have learnt to say less
bitterly, `God's will be done.'"

  "`He needeth not
  Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
  Bear his mild yoke they please him best,'"

said Mr Percival, in a tone of kind and deep sympathy, as he left him
to return to the schoolroom.

But once in sight of Mr Paton's open and rifled desk, Mr Percival's
pent-up indignation burst forth into clear flame.  Stopping in front of
Mr Paton's form, he exclaimed, in a voice that rang with scorn and
sorrow--

"You boys do not know the immense mischief which your thoughtless and
worthless spite and folly have caused.  I say `boys,' but I believe, and
rejoice to believe, that one only of you is guilty, and I rejoice too,
that _that_ one is a new boy, who must have brought here feelings and
passions more worthy of an ignorant and ill-trained plough-boy than of a
Saint Winifred's scholar.  The hand that would burn a valuable
manuscript would fire a rick of hay."

"O sir," said Henderson, starting up and interrupting him, "we were all
very nearly as bad.  It was the rest of us that burnt the
imposition-book; Evson had nothing to do with that."  Henderson had
forgotten for the moment that he at least had had no share in burning
the imposition-book, for his warm quick heart could not bear that these
blows should fall unbroken on his friend's head.

But his generous effort failed; for Mr Percival, barely noticing the
interruption, continued, "The imposition-book?  I know nothing about
that.  If you burnt it you were very foolish and reckless; you deserve
no doubt to be punished for it, but that was _comparatively_ nothing.
But do you know, bad boy," he said, turning again to Walter, "do you
know what _you_ have done?  Do you know that your dastardly spitefulness
has led you to destroy writings which had cost your master years and
years of toil that cannot be renewed?  He treated you with unswerving
impartiality; he never punished you but when you deserved punishment,
and when he believed it to be for your good, and yet you turn upon him
in this adder-like way; you break open his desk like a thief, and, in
one moment of despicable ill-temper, you rob him and the world of that
which had been the pursuit and object of his life.  You, Evson, may well
hide your face"--for Walter had bent over the desk, and in agonies of
shame and remorse had covered his face with both hands--"you may well be
ashamed to look either at me or at any honest and manly and right-minded
boy among your companions.  You have done a wrong for which it will be
years hence a part of your retribution to remember that nothing you can
ever do can repair it, or do away with its effects.  I am more than
disappointed with you.  You have done mischief which the utmost working
of all your powers cannot for years counterbalance, if, instead of being
as base and idle as you now appear to be, you were to devote your whole
heart to work.  I don't know what will be done to you; I, for my part,
hope that you will not be suffered to remain with us; but, if you are, I
am sure that you will receive, as you richly deserve, the reprobation
and contempt of every boy among your schoolfellows who is capable of one
spark of honour or right feeling."

Every word that Mr Percival had said came to poor Walter with the most
poignant force; all the master's reproaches pierced his heart and let
blood.  He sat there not stirring, stunned and crushed, as though he had
been beaten by the blows of a hammer.  He quailed and shuddered to think
of the great and cruel injustice, the base and grievous injury into
which his blind passion had betrayed him, and thought that he could
never hold up his head again.

Mr Percival's indignant expostulation passed over the other culprits
who heard it like a thunderstorm.  There was a force and impetuosity in
this gentleman's manner, when his anger was kindled, which had long
gained for him among the boys, with whom he was the most popular
of all the masters, the half-complimentary soubriquet of
"Thunder-and-lightning."  But none of them had ever before heard him
speak with such concentrated energy and passion, and all except generous
little Henderson were awed by it into silence.  But Henderson at that
moment was wholly absorbed in Walter's sorrows.

"Tell him," said he in Walter's ear, "tell him it was all a mistake,
that you thought the papers were old exercises.  Dear Walter, tell him
before he goes."

But Walter still rested with his white cheeks on his hands upon the
desk, and neither moved nor spoke.  And Mr Percival, turning
indignantly upon his heel, with one last glance of unmitigated contempt,
had walked off to his own form.

"Walter, don't take it to heart so," said Henderson, putting his arm
round his neck; "you couldn't help it; you made a sad mistake, that's
all.  Go and tell Paton so, and I'm sure he'll forgive you."

A slight quiver was all that showed that Walter heard.  Henderson would
have liked to see his anguish relieved by a burst of tears; but the
tears did not come, and Walter did not move.

At last a hand touched him, and he heard the voice of the head boy say
to him, "Get up, Evson; I'm to take you to Dr Lane with a note from Mr
Percival."

He rose and followed mechanically, waiting in the headmaster's porch
while the monitor went in.

"Dr Lane won't see you now," said Somers, coming out again.  "Croft,"
(addressing the school Famulus), "Dr Lane says you're to lock up Mr
Evson by himself in the private room."

Walter followed the Famulus to the private room, a little room at the
top of the house, where he knew that boys were locked previous to
expulsion, that they might have no opportunity for doing any mischief
before they went.

The Famulus left him here, and returned a few minutes after with some
dry bread and milk, which he placed on the deal table, which, with a
wooden chair, constituted the sole furniture of the room; he then locked
the door, and left Walter finally to his own reflections.

Then it was that flood after flood of passionate tears seemed to remove
the iron cramp which had pained his heart.  He flung himself on the
floor, and as he thought of the irreparable cruelty which he had
inflicted on a man who had been severe indeed, but never unkind to him,
and of the apparent malignity to which all who heard it would attribute
what he had done, he sobbed and sobbed as though his heart would break.

At one o'clock the Famulus returned with some dinner.  He found Walter
sitting at a corner of the room, his head resting against the angle of
the wall, and his eyes red and inflamed with long crying.  The morning's
meal still lay untasted on the table.

He looked round with a commiserating glance.  "Come, come, Master
Evson," he said, "you've no call to give way so, sir.  If you've done
wrong, the wrong's done now, and frettin' won't help it.  There's them
above as'll forgive you, and make you do better next time, lad, if you
only knew it.  Here, you must eat some of this dinner, Master Evson, and
leave off cryin' so; cryin's no comfort, sir."

He stood by and waited on Walter with the greatest kindness and respect,
till he had seen him swallow some food, not without difficulty, and then
with encouraging and cheerful words left him, and once more locked the
door.

The weary afternoon wore on, and Walter sat mournfully alone with
nothing but miserable thoughts--miserable to whatever subject he turned
them, and more miserable the longer he dwelt on them.  As the shades of
evening drew in he felt his head swimming, and the long solitude made
him feel afraid as he wondered whether they would leave him there all
night.  And then he heard a light step approach the door, and a gentle
tap.  He made no answer, for he thought he knew the step, and he could
not summon up voice to speak for a fit of sobbing which it brought on.
Then he heard the boy stoop down, and push a note under the door.

He took it up when he heard the footsteps die away, and by the fast
failing light was just able to make it out.  It ran thus--

  "Dear Walter,--You can't think how sorry, how very, very sorry I am
  for you.  I wish I could be with you and take part of your punishment.
  Forgive me for being cold and proud to you.  I have been longing to
  speak to you all the time, but felt too shy.  It was all my fault.  I
  will never break with you again.  Good-bye, dear Walter, from your
  ever and truly affectionate, Harry Kenrick."

"He will never break with me again," thought Walter.  "If I'm to go
to-morrow I'm afraid he'll never have the chance."  And then his saddest
thoughts reverted to the home which he had left so recently for the
first time, and to which he was to return with nothing but dishonour and
disgrace.

At six o'clock the kind-hearted Famulus brought him a lamp, some tea,
and one or two books, which he had no heart to read.  No one was allowed
to visit the private room under heavy penalties, so that Walter had no
other visitor until eight, when Somers, the monitor who had taken him to
Dr Lane, looked in and icily observed, "You're to sleep in the
sickroom, Evson; come with me."

"Am I expelled, Somers?" he faltered out.

"I don't know," said Somers in a freezing tone; "you deserve to be."

True! oh lofty and pitiless Somers.  But is that all which you could
find to say to the poor boy in his distress?  And if we _all_ had our
deserts...?

"At any rate," Somers added, "I for one won't have you as a fag any
longer, and I shouldn't think that anyone else would either."

With which cutting remark he left Walter to his reflections.



CHAPTER NINE.

PENITENCE.

  "If hearty sorrow
  Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
  I tender it here; I do as truly suffer
  As e'er I did commit."

  Two Gentlemen of Verona.--Act five, scene 4.

Next morning Walter was reconducted to the private room, and there, with
a kind of dull pain in head and heart, awaited the sentence which was to
decide his fate.  His fancy had left Saint Winifred's altogether; it was
solely occupied with Semlyn, and the dear society at home.  Walter was
rehearsing again and again in his mind the scene of his return; what he
should say to his father; how he should dry his mother's tears; and how
he should bear himself, on his return, towards his little brothers and
sisters.  Would he, expelled from Saint Winifred's, ever be able to look
anyone in the face again at home?

While he was brooding over these fancies, someone, breathless with
haste, ran up to his room, and again a note was thrust underneath the
door.  He seized it quickly, and read--

  "Dear Walter,--I am so glad to be the first to tell you that you are
  not to be expelled.  Paton has begged you off.  No time for more.  I
  have slipped away before morning school to leave you this news, and
  can't stay lest I should be caught.  Good-bye, from your ever
  affectionate friend,

  "H.K."

The boy's heart gave one bound of joy as he read this.  If he were not
expelled he was ready to bear meekly any other punishment appointed to
his offence.  But his banishment from the school would cause deep
affliction to others besides himself, and this was why he had dreaded it
with such a feeling of despair.

Alone as he was in the little room, he fell on his knees, and heartily
and humbly thanked God for this answer to his earnest, passionate,
reiterated prayer; and then he read Kenrick's note again.

"Paton has begged you off."  He repeated this sentence over and over
again, aloud and to himself, and seemed as if he could never realise it.
Paton--Paton, the very man whom he had so deeply and irreparably
injured--had begged him off, and shielded him from a punishment which no
one could have considered too severe for his fault.  Young and
inexperienced as Walter Evson was, he could not, of course, fully
understand and appreciate the _amount_ of the loss, the nature and
degree of the injury which he had inflicted; but yet, he _could_
understand that he had done something which caused greater pain to his
master than even the breaking of a limb, or falling ill of a severe
sickness.  And he never prayed for himself without praying also that Mr
Paton's misfortune might in some way be alleviated; and even, impossible
as the prayer might seem, that he, Walter, might himself have some share
in rendering it more endurable.

It may seem strange that Walter should be apparently excessive in his
own self-condemnation.  A generous mind usually is; but Walter, it may
be urged, never intended to do the harm he had done.  If he mistook the
packet for a number of exercises the fault was comparatively venial,
comparatively--yes; for though it will be admitted that to break open a
private desk and throw its contents into the fire is bad enough in a
schoolboy under any circumstances, still it would be a far less
aggravated sin than the wilful infliction of a heavy damage out of a
spirit of revenge.  But here lay the gravamen of Walter's fault; he
knew--though he had not said so--in his inmost heart he _knew_ that the
packet did not, and could not, consist merely of old exercises, like the
outer sheets, which were put to keep it clean.  When he threw it into
the fire and thrust it down until it blazed away, he felt sure--and at
that wicked moment of indulged passion he rejoiced to feel sure--that
what he was consuming was of real value.  Henderson's voice awoke in a
moment his dormant conscience; but then, however keen were the stings of
remorse, what had been done could never be undone.  And "Paton had
begged him off"!  It was all the more wonderful to him, and he was all
the more deeply grateful for it, because he knew that, in Mr Paton's
views, the law of punishment for every offence was as a law of iron and
adamant--a law as undeviating and beneficial as the law of gravitation
itself.

A slow and hesitating footstep--the sound of the key turning in the
door--a nervous hand resting on the handle--and Mr Paton stood before
him.

In an instant Walter was on his knees beside him, his head bent over his
clasped hands.  "Oh, sir," he exclaimed, "please forgive me!  I have
been longing to see you, sir, to implore you to forgive me; for when you
have forgiven me I shan't mind anything else.  Oh, sir, forgive me, if
you can."

"Do you know, Evson, the extent of what you have done?" said Mr Paton,
in a constrained voice.

"Oh, sir, indeed I do," he exclaimed, bursting into tears.  "Mr
Percival said I had destroyed years and years of hard work, and that I
can never, never, never make up for it, or repair it again.  Oh, sir,
indeed I didn't know how much mischief I was doing; I was in a wicked
passion then, but I would give my right-hand not to have done it now.
Oh, sir, can you ever forgive me?" he asked, in a tone of pitiable
despair.

"Have you asked God's forgiveness for your passionate and revengeful
spirit, Evson?" said the same constrained voice.

"Oh, sir, I have, and I know God has forgiven me.  Indeed I never knew,
I never thought before, that I could grow so wicked in a day.  Oh, sir,
what shall I do to gain your forgiveness; I would do anything, sir," he
said, in a voice thick with sobs; "and if you forgave me, I could be
almost happy."

All this while Walter had not dared to look up in Mr Paton's face.
Abashed as he was, he could not bear to meet the only look which he
expected to find there, the old cold unpitying look of condemnation and
reproach.  Even at that moment he could not help thinking that if Mr
Paton had understood him better, he would not have seemed to him so
utterly bad as then he must seem, with so recent an act of sin and folly
to bear witness against him.

He dared not look up through his eyes swimming with tears; but he had
not expected the kind and gentle touch of the trembling hand that rested
on his head as though it blessed him, and that smoothed again and again
his dark hair, and wiped the big drops away from his cheeks.  He had not
expected the arm that raised him up from his kneeling position, and the
fingers that pushed back his hair from his forehead, and gently bent
back his head; or the pitying eyes, themselves dim, as though they were
about to well over with compassion--that looked so sorrowfully, yet so
kindly, into his own.  He could not bear this.  If Mr Paton had struck
him, as he did in the first moment of overwhelming anger; if he had
spurned him away, and ordered him any amount of punishment, it would
have been far easier to bear than this Christian gentleness; this ready
burying in pity and oblivion of the heaviest and most undeserved
calamity which the master had ever undergone at the hands of man.
Walter could not bear it; he flung himself on his knees again in a
passion of weeping, and clasped Mr Paton's knees, uttering in broken
sentences, "I can never make up for it, never repair it as long as I
live."

For a moment more the kind hand again rested on the boy's head, and
gently smoothed his dark hair; and then Mr Paton found voice to speak,
and lifting him up, and seating him upon his knee, said to him--

"I forgive you, Walter, forgive you freely and gladly.  It was hard, I
own, at first to do so, for I will not disguise from you that this loss
is a very bitter thing to bear.  I have been sleepless, and have never
once been able to banish the distress of mind which it has caused since
it occurred.  And yet it is a loss which I shall _not_ feel fully all at
once, but most and for many a long day when I sit down again, if God
gives me strength to do so, to recover the lost stores and rearrange the
interrupted thoughts.  But I, too, have learnt a lesson, Walter; and
when you have reached my age, my boy, you too, I trust, will have learnt
to control all evil passions with a strong will, and to bear meekly and
patiently _whatever_ God sends.  And you too, Walter, learn a lesson.
You have said that you would give anything, do anything, to undo this
wrong, or to repair it; but you can do nothing, my child, give nothing,
for it cannot be undone.  Wrong rarely can be mended.  Let this very
helplessness teach you a truth that may remain with you through life.
Let it check you in wilful impetuous moments; for what has once been
done remains irrevocable.  You may rue for years and years the work of
days or of moments, and you may _never_ be able to avoid the
consequences, even when the deed itself has been forgotten by the
generous and forgiven by the just."  And all this so kindly, so gently,
so quietly spoken; every word of it sank into Walter's heart never to be
forgotten, as his tears flowed still but with more quiet sadness now.

"Yes, Walter, this occurrence," continued Mr Paton in a calm, low
voice, "may do us both good, miserable as it is.  I will say no more
about it now, only that I have quite forgiven it.  Man is far too mean a
creature to be justified in withholding forgiveness for any personal
wrong.  It is far more hard to forgive one's-self when one has done
wrong.  I have determined to bury the whole matter in oblivion, and to
inflict no punishment either on you or on any of the other boys who were
concerned in this folly and sin.  I will not forgive by halves.  But,
Walter, I will not wrong you by doubting that from this time forward you
will advance with a marked improvement.  You will have something to
bear, no doubt, but do not let it weigh on you too heavily; and as for
me, I will try henceforth to be your friend."

What could Walter do but seize his hand and clasp it earnestly, and sob
out the broken incoherent thanks which were more eloquent than connected
words.

"And now, Walter, you are free," said Mr Paton.  "From _us_ you will
hear no more of this offence.  It is nearly dinner-time.  Come; I will
walk with you to hall."

He laid his hand on the boy's shoulder, and they walked downstairs and
across the court.  Walter was deeply grateful that he did so, for he had
heard rumours of the scorn and indignation with which the news of his
conduct had been received by the elder and more influential portions of
the school.  He had dreaded unspeakably the first occasion when it would
be necessary to meet them again, but he felt that Mr Paton's
countenance and kindness had paved the way for him, and smoothed his
most formidable trial.  It had been beyond his warmest hopes that he
should be able to face them so.  He had never dared to expect this open
proof, that the person who had suffered chiefly from this act would also
be the first to show that he had not cast him off as helpless or
worthless, but was ready to receive him into favour once again.

The corridor was full of boys waiting for the dinner bell, and they
divided respectfully to leave a passage for Mr Paton, and touched their
hats as he passed them with his hand still on Walter's shoulder, while
Walter walked with downcast eyes beside him, not once daring to look up.
And as the boy passed them, humbled and penitent, with Mr Paton's hand
resting upon him, there was not one of those who saw it that did not
learn from that sight a lesson of calm forgiveness as noble and as
forcible as any lesson which they could learn at Saint Winifred's
School.

Walter sat at dinner pale and crying, but unpitied.  "Alas for the
rarity of Christian charity under the sun!"--the worst construction had
assiduously been put upon what he had done, and nearly all the boys
hastily condemned it, not only as an ungentlemanly, but also as an
inexcusable and unpardonable act.  One after another, as they passed him
after dinner, they cut him dead.  Several of the masters, including Mr
Percival, whom Walter had hitherto loved and respected more than any of
them, because he had been treated by him with marked kindness, did the
same.  Walter met Mr Percival in the playground and touched his cap;
Mr Percival glanced at him contemptuously for a moment, and then turned
his head aside without noticing the salute.  It may seem strange, but we
must remember that to all who hear of any wrong act by report only, it
presents itself as a mere naked fact--a bare result without preface or
palliation.  The subtle grades of temptation which led to it--the
violent outburst of passion long pent-up which thus found its
consummation--are unknown or forgotten, and the deed itself, isolated
from all that rendered it possible, receives unmitigated condemnation.
All that anyone took the trouble to know or to believe about Walter's
scrape was, that he had broken open a master's private desk, and in
revenge had purposely burnt a most valuable manuscript; and for this,
sentence was passed upon him broadly and in the gross.

Poor Walter! those were dark days for him; but Henderson and Kenrick
stuck fast by him, and little Arthur Eden still looked up to him with
unbounded gratitude and affection, and he felt that the case was not
hopeless.  Kenrick, indeed, seemed to waver once or twice.  He sought
Walter and shook hands with him at once, but still he was not with him,
Walter fancied, so much as he had been or might have been, till, after a
short struggle, his natural impulse of generosity won the day.  As for
Henderson, Walter thought he could have died for him, so much he loved
him for his kindness in this hour of need; and Eden never left his side
when he could creep there to console him by merry playfulness, or to be
his companion when he would otherwise have been alone.

The boys had been truly sorry to hear of Mr Paton's loss; it roused all
their most generous feelings.  That evening as they came out of chapel
they all gathered round the iron gates.  The intention had been to groan
at poor Walter.  He knew of it perfectly well, for Henderson had
prepared him for it, and expressed his determination to walk by his
side.  It was for him a moment of keen anguish, and that anguish
betrayed itself in his scared and agitated look.  But he was spared this
last drop in the cup of punishment.  The mere sight of him showed the
boys that he had suffered bitterly enough already.  When they looked at
him they had not the heart to hurt and shame him any more.  Mr Paton's
open forgiveness of that which had fallen most severely on himself
changed the current of their feelings.  Instead of groaning Walter they
let him pass by, and waited till Mr Paton came out of the chapel door,
and as he walked across the court the boys all followed him with hearty
cheers.

Mr Paton did not like the demonstration, although he appreciated the
kindly and honourable motives which had given rise to it.  He was not a
man who courted popularity, and this external sign of it was, as he well
knew, the irregular expression of an evanescent feeling.  So he took no
further notice of the boys' cheers than by slightly raising his cap, and
by one stately inclination of the head, and then he walked on with his
usual quiet dignity of manner to his own rooms.  But after this he every
now and then took an opportunity to walk with Walter; and almost every
Sunday evening he might have been seen with him pacing, after morning
chapel, up and down the broad walk of the masters' garden, while Walter
walked unevenly beside him, in vain endeavours to keep step with his
long slow stride.

A letter from Dr Lane brought Walter's father to Saint Winifred's the
next day.  Why dwell on their sad and painful meeting?  But the pain of
it soon wore off as they interchanged that sweet and frank communion of
thoughts and sympathies that still existed as it had ever done between
them.  They had a long, long walk upon the shore, and at every step
Walter seemed to in-breathe fresh strength, and hope, and consolation,
and Mr Evson seemed to acquire new love for, and confidence in, his
unhappy little son, so that when in the evening he kissed him and said
"good-bye," at the top of the same hill where they had parted before,
Mr Evson felt more happily and gratefully secure of his radical
integrity, now that the boy had acquired the strength which comes
through trial, through failure, and through suffering, than he had done
before when he had left him only with the strength of early principle
and untested innocence of heart.

But long years after, when Walter was a man, and when he had been
separated for years from all intelligence of Mr Paton, there emanated
from a quiet country vicarage a now celebrated edition of the "Major
Prophets," an edition which made the author a high reputation, and
secured for him in the following year the Deanery of --.  And in the
preface to that edition the reader may still find the following passage,
which, as Walter saw even then, those long years after, he could not
read without a thrill of happy, yet penitent emotion.  It ran thus--

  "This edition of the `Major Prophets' has been the chosen work of the
  author's leisure, and he is almost afraid to say how many of the best
  years of his life have been spent upon it.  A strange fortune has
  happened to it.  Years ago it was finished, and it was written out,
  and ready for the press.  At that time it was burnt--no matter under
  what circumstances--by a boy's hand.  At first, the author never hoped
  to have the courage or power to resume and finish the task again.  But
  it pleased God, Who sent him this trial, to provide him also with
  leisure, and opportunity, and resolution, so that the old misfortune
  is now at last repaired.  It is for the sake of one person, and one
  person only, that these private matters are intruded on the reader's
  notice; but that person, if his eye should ever fall on these lines,
  will know also why the word `repaired' has been printed in larger
  letters.  And I would also tell him with all kindness, that it has
  pleased God to bring out of the rash act of his boyhood nothing but
  good.  The following commentary is, I humbly trust, far more worthy of
  its high subject, now that it has received the maturer consideration
  of my advancing years, than it would have been had it seen the light
  at Saint Winifred's long ago.  I write this for the sake of the boy
  who then wept for what seemed an _irreparable_ fault; and I add
  thankfully, that never for a moment have I retracted my then
  forgiveness; that I think of his after efforts with kindliness and
  affection; and that he has, and always will have, my best prayers for
  his interest and welfare.

  "H. Paton."



CHAPTER TEN.

UPHILLWARDS.

  "But that Conscience makes me firm.
  The boon companion, who her strong breastplate
  Buckles on him that feels no guilt within,
  And bids him on and fear not."

  Dante, c. xxviii.

"Qui s'excuse s'accuse."  "If a character can't defend itself, it's not
worth defending."  "No one was ever written down, except by himself."
These, and proverbs like these, express the common and almost
instinctive feeling, that self-defence under calumny is generally
unsuccessful, and almost always involves a loss of dignity.  Partly from
this cause, and partly from penitence for his real errors, and partly
from scorn at the malice that misrepresented him, and the Pharisaism of
far worse offenders that held aloof from his misfortune, Walter said
nothing to exculpate his conduct, or to shield himself from the silent
indignation, half real and half affected, which weighed heavily against
him.

The usual consequences followed; the story of his misdoing was repeated
and believed in the least mitigated form, and this version gained
credence and currency because it was uncontradicted.  The school society
bound his sin upon him; they retained it, and it was retained.  It
burdened his conscience with a galling weight, because by his fellows it
remained long unforgiven.  At the best, those were days of fiery trial
to that overcharged young heart.  He had not only lost all immediate
influence, but as he looked forward through the vista of his
school-life, he feared that he should never entirely regain it.  Even if
he should in time become a monitor, he felt as if half his authority
must be lost while this stigma was branded so deeply on his name.

Yet it was a beautiful sight to see how bravely and manfully this young
boy set himself to re-establish the reputation he had destroyed, and
since he could not "build upon the _foundations_ of yesterday," to build
upon its _ruins_; to see with what touching humility he accepted
undeserved scorn, and with what touching gratitude he hailed the
scantiest kindness; to see how he bore up unflinchingly under every
difficulty, accepted his hard position among unsympathising
schoolfellows, and made the most of it, without anger and without
complaint.  He could see in after years that those days were to him a
time of unmitigated blessing.  They taught him lessons of manliness, of
endurance, of humility.  The necessity of repairing an error and
recovering a failure became to him a more powerful stimulus than the
hope of avoiding it altogether.  The hour of punishment, which was
bitter as absinthe to his taste, became sweet as honey in his memory.
Above all, these days taught him, in a manner never to be forgotten, the
invaluable lesson that the sense of having done an ill deed is the very
heaviest calamity that an ill deed ensures, and that in life there is no
single secret of happiness comparable to the certain blessing brought
with it by a conscience void of all offence.

Perhaps the strain would have been too great for his youthful spirits,
and might have left on his character an impress of permanent melancholy,
derived from thus perpetually being reminded that he had gone wrong, but
for a school sermon which Mr Paton preached about this time, and which
Walter felt was meant in part for him.  It was on the danger and
unwisdom of brooding continually on what is over; and it was preached
upon the text, "I will restore to you the years which the locust hath
eaten, the canker-worm, the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great
army."

"The past is past," said the preacher; "its sins and sorrows are
irrevocably over; why dwell upon it now?  Do not waste the present, with
all its opportunities, in a hopeless and helpless retrospect.  The worst
of us need not despair, much less those who may have been betrayed into
sudden error by some moment of unguarded passion.  There lies the future
before you; onwards then, and forwards! it is yet an innocent, it may be
a happy, future.  Take it with prayerful thankfulness, and fling the
withered part aside.  Thus, although thus only, can you recover your
neglected opportunities.  Do this in hope and meekness, and God will
make up to you for the lost past; He Who inhabiteth eternity will
stretch forth out of His eternity a forgiving hand, and touch into green
leaf again the years which the locust hath eaten."  How eagerly Walter
Evson drank in those words!  That day at least he felt that man doth not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth
of God.

If Walter had been old enough to be an observer of character, he might
have gathered out of his difficulties the materials for some curious
observation on the manner in which he was treated by different boys.
Many, like Harpour and Cradock, made, of course, no sort of difference
in their behaviour towards him, because they set up no pretence of
condemnation; others, like Anthony and Franklin, had been nearly as bad
as himself in the matter, and therefore their relations to him remained
quite unaltered.  But there were many boys who, like Jones, either cut
him or were cold to him, not because they really felt any moral anger at
a fault which was much less heinous in reality than many which they
daily committed, but because he was, for the time, unpopular, and they
did not care to be seen with an unpopular boy.  On the other hand,
through a feeling, which at the time they could not understand, a few of
the very best boys, some of the wisest, the steadiest, the noblest,
seemed drawn to him by some new tie; and in a very short time he began
to know friends among them in whose way he might not otherwise have been
thrown.  Daubeny, for instance, than whom, although the boys chose to
make him something of a butt, there was no more conscientious fellow at
Saint Winifred's, sought Walter out on every possible occasion, and when
they were alone spoke to him, in his gentle and honest way, many a
cheering and kindly word.  Another friend of this sort (whom Walter
already knew slightly through Kenrick, who was in the form below him),
was a boy named Power.  There was something in Power most attractive:
his clear eyes, and innocent expression of face, his unvarying success
in all school competitions, his quiet and graceful manners, and even the
coldness and reserve which made him stand somewhat aloof from the herd
of boys, mixing with very few of them, firmly and unobtrusively assuming
an altogether higher tone than theirs, and bestowing his confidence and
friendship on hardly any--all tended to make him a marked character, and
to confer on his intimacy an unusual value.  Walter, to whom as yet he
had hardly spoken, thought him self-centred and reserved, and yet saw
something beautiful and fascinating even in his exclusiveness; he felt
that he could have liked him much, but, as he was several forms lower
than Power, never expected to become one of his few associates.  But
during his troubles Power so openly showed that he regarded him with
respect and kindness, and was so clearly the first to make advances,
that Walter gladly and gratefully accepted the proffered friendship.

It happened thus: One day, about a fortnight after his last escapade,
Walter was amusing himself alone, as he often did, upon the shore.  The
shore was very dear to him.  I almost pity a boy whose school is not by
the seaside.  He found on the shore both companionship and occupation.
He never felt lonely there.  He could sit there by the hour, either in
calm or storm, watching the sea-birds dip their wings which flashed in
the sunlight, as they pounced down on some unwary fish; or listening to
the silken rustle and sweet monotony of the waves plashing musically
upon the yellow sands on some fine day.  On this evening the tide was
coming in, and Walter had amused himself by standing on some of the
lumps of granite tossed about the shore until the advancing waves
encroached upon and surrounded his little island, and gave him just room
to jump to land.  He was standing on one of these great stones watching
the sunset, and laughing to himself at the odd gambols of two or three
porpoises that kept rolling about in a futile manner across the little
bay, when he heard a pleasant voice say to him--

"I say, Evson, are you going to practise the old style of martyrdom--tie
yourself to a stake and let the tide gradually drown you?"

Looking round he was surprised to see Power standing alone on the sands,
and to see also that his little island was so far surrounded that he
could not get to shore without being wet up to the knees.

"Hallo!" he said; "I see I must take off my shoes and stockings, and
wade."

But on the slippery piece of rock upon which he was standing he had no
room to do this without losing his balance and tumbling over; so Power
had in a moment taken off his own shoes and stockings, turned up his
trousers above the knees, and waded up to him.

"Now," he said, "get on my back, and I'll carry you in unwetted."

"Thanks, Power," he said, as Power deposited him on the sand; "I'm much
obliged."

Not knowing whether Power would like to be seen with him or not, he
looked at him shyly, and was walking off in another direction, when
Power, who was putting on his stockings again, said to him playfully--

"What, Walter; haven't you the grace to wait for me, after my having
delivered you from such a noyade?  Excuse my calling you Walter; I hear
Kenrick and Henderson do it, and somehow you're one of those fellows
whom one meets now and then, whose Christian name seems to suit them
more naturally than the other."

"By all means call me Walter, Power; and I'll wait for you gladly if you
like," said Walter, blushing as he added, "I thought you might not like
to walk with me."

"Not like?  Nonsense.  I should like it particularly.  Let's take a turn
along the shore; we shall just have time before roll-call."

Walter pointed out to him the droll porpoises which had absorbed his
attention, and while they stood looking and laughing at them, Henderson
came up unobserved, and patting Walter on the back, observed
poetically--

  "Why are your young hearts sad, oh beautiful children of morning?
  Why do your young eyes gaze timidly over the sea?"

"Where _did_ you crib that quotation from, Flip," asked Power laughing;
"your mind's like a shallow brook, and the colour of it always shows the
stratum through which you have been flowing last."

"Shallow brook, quotha?" said Henderson; "a deep and mighty river, sir,
you mean; irresistible by any Power."

"Oh, _do_ shut up.  Why was I born with a name that could be punned on?
No more puns, Flip, if you love me," said Power; and they all three
walked under the noble Norman archway that formed the entrance to the
school.

"By the powers," said Henderson to Walter, as the other left them, "you
_have_ got a new friend worth having, Walter.  _He_ doesn't make himself
at home with every one, I can tell you; and if he and Dubbs cultivate
you, I should think it's about time for anyone else to be ashamed of
cutting you, my boy."

"I'm quite happy now," said Walter; "with you and Kenrick and him for
friends.  I don't care so much for the rest.  I wonder why he likes me?"

"Well, because he thinks the fellows a great deal too hard on you for
one thing.  How very good and patient you've been, Walter, under it
all."

"It is hard sometimes, Flip, but I deserve it.  Only now and then I'm
afraid that you and Ken will get quite tired of me, I've so few to speak
to.  Harpour and that lot would be glad enough that I should join them,
I know, and but for you and Ken I should have been driven to do it."

"Never mind, Walter, my boy; the fellows'll come round in time."

So, step by step, with the countenance of some true and worthy friends,
and by the help of a stout and uncorrupted heart, by penitence and by
kindliness, did our brave little Walter win his way.  He was helped,
too, greatly, by his achievements in the games.  At football he played
with a vigour and earnestness which carried everything before it.  He
got several bases, and was the youngest boy in the school who ever
succeeded in doing this.  Gradually but surely his temporary
unpopularity gave way; and even before he began to be generally
recognised again, he bade fair _ultimately_ to gain a high position in
the estimation of all his schoolfellows.

There was one scene which he long remembered, and which was very trying
to go through.  One fine afternoon the boys' prize for the highest jump
was to be awarded, and as the school were all greatly interested in the
competition, they were assembled in a dense circle in the green
playground, leaving space for the jumpers in the middle.  The fine
weather had also tempted nearly all the inhabitants of Saint Winifred's
to be spectators of the contest, and numbers of ladies were present, for
whom the boys had politely left a space within the circle.  When the
chief jumping prize had been won by an active fellow in the sixth-form,
another prize was proposed for all boys under fifteen.

Bliss, Franklin, and two other boys at once stepped into the circle as
competitors, and threw off their jackets.

"You must go in for this, Walter," said Henderson.  "You're sure to get
it."

"Not I.  I won't go in, Flip," said Walter, who was naturally in a
desponding mood, as he looked round on those four hundred faces, and saw
among them all scarcely one sympathising glance.  "_You_ go in and win.
And never mind talking to me up here, Henderson; it can't be pleasant
for you, I know, when all the other fellows are cutting me."

"Pooh!  Walter.  _They're_ in the wrong box; not you and I.  `Athanasius
contra mundum,' as Power says.  Do go in for the prize."

Walter shook his head gloomily.  "I don't like to, before all these
fellows.  They'd hiss me or something."

"Well, if _you_ won't, _I_ won't; that's flat."

"O do, Henderson.  I'm sure you'd get it.  Don't ask me to go in, that's
a good fellow."

"None but these four going in for the little jump?  What, only four?"
said one of the young athletes, who carried little blue flags, and
arranged the preliminaries.  "Come in some more of you."

"Here are two more," said Henderson; "stick down our names--Henderson
and Evson"; and pulling Walter forward with him inside the circle, he
sat down and began to take off his shoes, that he might run and jump
more easily on the turf.

Thus prominently mentioned, Walter could hardly draw back, so putting
the best face on it he could, he, too, flung off his jacket and shoes.

The movable spar of wood over which the boys jumped was first put at a
height of three feet, which they could all easily manage, and the six,
one after another, cleared it lightly.  Even then, however, it was
pretty easy to judge by their action which was the best jumper, and the
connoisseurs on the field at once decided that the chance lay between
Henderson and Walter; Walter was by far the most active and graceful
jumper, but Henderson had the advantage of being a little the taller of
the two.

The spar was raised half an inch each time, and when it had attained the
height of three feet and a half, two of the candidates failed to clear
it after three trials.

Bliss was the next to break down.  His awkward jumps had excited a great
deal of laughter, and when he finally failed, Henderson found time even
then to begin a line or two of his monody on Blissidas, which was a
standing joke against poor Bliss, who always met it by the same
invariable observation of "I'll lick you afterwards, Flip."

Only three competitors were now left--Franklin, Henderson, and Walter--
and they jumped on steadily till they had reached the height of four
feet and one inch, and then Franklin broke down, but recovered himself
in the second chance.

The struggle now became very exciting, and as Franklin and Henderson
again cleared the bar at the height of four feet four, each of them were
loudly clapped.  But Walter--who jumped last always, because he had been
the last candidate to come forward--although he cleared it with an easy
bound, received no sign of encouragement from any of the boys.  He
cleared it in perfect silence, only broken by Mr Paton, who was looking
on with a group of other masters, and who said encouragingly, "Very well
done, Evson; capital!"

The bar was raised an inch, and again the three boys cleared it, and
again the first two were greeted with applause, and Walter was left
unnoticed except by Power and Kenrick, who applauded him heartily, and
patted him on the back.  But indeed their clapping only served to throw
into stronger relief the loud applause which the others received.
Walter almost wished that they would desist.  He was greatly agitated;
and his friends saw that he was trembling with emotion.  He had been
much mortified the first time to be thus pointedly scorned in so large a
crowd of strangers, and made a marked object of reprobation before them
all; but that this open shame should be thus _steadily_ and
_continuously_ put upon him, made his heart swell with sorrow and
indignation at the ungenerous and unforgiving spirit of his
schoolfellows.

Once more the bar was raised an inch.  The other two got over it amid a
burst of applause, and this time Walter, who was unnerved by the painful
circumstances in which he found himself, brushed against it as he came
over, and knocked it off.  The bar was replaced, and at his second trial
(for three were allowed) he jumped so well that he flew easily over it.
Always before, a boy who had recovered himself after a failure had been
saluted with double cheering, but again Walter's proceedings were
observed by that large crowd in dead silence, while he could not help
overhearing the whispered queries which asked an explanation of so
unusual a circumstance.

"Why don't they cheer him as well as the others?" asked a fair young
girl of her brother.  "He looks such a nice boy."

"Because he did a very shabby thing not long ago," was the reply.

He could stand it no longer.  He glanced round at the speakers more in
sorrow than in anger, and then, instead of returning to the
starting-point, he turned hastily aside, and, declining the contest,
plunged into the thickest of the crowd.  "Evson's giving it up.  What a
pity!" said several boys.

"No wonder he's giving it up," said Power indignantly, "after the way
you fellows treat him.  Never mind them, Walter," he said, taking him by
the arm; "they will be ashamed of themselves by and by."

"You're not going to withdraw, Evson?" asked one of the chief athletes,
in a kind tone.

"Yes," said Walter, retiring still farther to hide himself amid the
crowd.

"Nonsense!" said Henderson, who had heard the answer; "come, Walter,
it'll spoil all the fun if you don't go on."

"I can't, Flip," said Walter, turning aside, and hastily brushing away
the tears which _would_ come into his eyes.

"Do, Walter, they all wish it," whispered Henderson; "be brave, and get
the prize in spite of all; here's Paton coming round; I'm sure it's to
cheer you up."

"Very well, Flip, I will, if it pleases you; but it's rather hard," he
said, fairly bursting into tears.  "Remember, it's only for your sake I
do it, Flip."

"Go on, Walter; don't give way," said Mr Paton aloud, in his gentlest
and most encouraging voice, as the boy hastily re-entered the arena, and
took his place.

This time Franklin finally broke down, Henderson barely scrambled over,
and Walter, nerved by excitement and indignation, cleared the bar by a
brilliant flying leap.  There was no mistake about the applause this
time.  The boys had seen how their coolness had told on him.  They were
touched by the pluck he showed in spite of his dejected look, and as
though to make up for their former deficiency, they clapped him as loud
as either of the others.

And now a spirited contest began between Henderson and Walter.  Four
feet six and a half they both accomplished--Walter the first time, and
Henderson the third.  When Henderson, at his last trial, barely
succeeded, a loud shout rose from the field, quite enthusiastic enough
to show that the wishes of the school were on his side.  This decided
Walter, for he too was anxious that Henderson, who had set his heart
upon the prize, and was now quite eager with emulation, should be the
successful competitor.  At four feet seven, therefore, he meant to break
down, but, at the same time, to clear the bar so nearly each time of
trial, that it might not be _obvious_ to any one that he was not putting
forth his best strength.  The first time, however, he jumped so
carelessly that Henderson suspected his purpose, and, therefore, the
second time he exerted himself a little more, and, to his own
astonishment, accomplished the leap without having intended to do so.
Henderson also just succeeded in managing it, and as Walter refused to
try another half inch, the prize was declared, amid loud cheers, to be
equally divided between them, after the best competition that ever had
been known.

The boys and the spectators now moved off to the pavilion, where the
prizes were to be distributed by Mrs Lane.  But when Walter's name was
called out with Henderson's, only the latter stepped forward.  Walter
had disappeared; and the boys were again made to feel, by his voluntary
absence, what bitterness of heart their unkind conduct caused him.

Henderson took the prize for his friend, when he received his own.  The
prizes were a silver-mounted riding-whip, and a belt with a silver
clasp, and Mrs Lane told Henderson that she was sorry for the other
victor's absence, and that either of them might choose whichever prize
he liked best.  When the crowd had dispersed Henderson, knowing Walter's
haunts, strolled with Kenrick to a little fir-grove on the slope of
Bardlyn Hill, not far above the sea.  Here, as they expected, they found
Walter.  He was sitting in a listless attitude, with his back towards
them, and he started as he heard their footsteps.

  "You let yourself be beaten, Evson Walter,
  And afterwards you proved a base defaulter,"

said Henderson, who was in high spirits, as he clapped his hands on
Walter's shoulders, and continued--

  "Behold I bring you now the silver prizes,
  Meant to reward your _feets_ and exercises."

Even Walter could not help smiling at this sally, but he said at once,
"You must keep both prizes, Flip; I don't mean to take either--indeed I
won't; I shouldn't have gone in at all but for you."

"Oh, do take one," said Kenrick; "the fellows will think you too proud
if you don't."

"I don't care what they think of me, Ken; you saw how they treated me.
Flip, I'd take the prize in a minute to please you, but, indeed, it
would only remind me constantly of this odious jumping, and I'd much
rather not."

"I can't take _both_ prizes, Walter," said Henderson.

"Well, I'll tell you what--give one to Franklin; he jumped very well,
and he's not half a bad fellow.  Don't press me, Flip; I can't refuse
you anything if you do, because you've been so very, very kind; but you
don't know how wretched I feel."

Henderson, who had looked annoyed, cleared up in a moment.

"All right, Walter; it shall be as you like.  Franklin shall have it.
You've had quite enough to bear already.  So cheer up, and come along."

It was soon known in the school how Walter had yielded the prize to
Franklin, and it was known, too, that next day he had gone to jump with
Henderson, Franklin, and some others, and had cleared the bar at four
feet eight, which none of them had been able to do.  The boys admired
his conduct throughout; and from that day forward many were as anxious
to renew an acquaintance with him as they had previously been to break
it off.

And there was an early opportunity of testing this; for a few days after
the scene just described the champion race for boys under fifteen was
tried for, and when Walter won it by accomplishing the distance in the
shortest time that had yet been known, and by distancing the other
runners, he was received with a cheer, which was all the more hearty
because the boys were anxious to do him a tardy justice.  If Walter had
not been too noble to be merely patronised, and too reserved to be
"hail-fellow-well-met" with every one, he would have fallen more easily
and speedily into the position which he now slowly but honourably
recovered.

It need hardly be said that, in his school work, Walter struggled with
all his might to give satisfaction to Mr Paton, and to spare him from
all pain.  There was something really admirable in the way he worked,
and taxed himself even beyond his strength, to prove his regret for Mr
Paton's loss, by doing all that was required of him.  Naturally quick
and lively as he was, he sat as quiet and attentive in school, as if he
had been gifted with a disposition as unmercurial as that of Daubeny
himself.  In order to make sure of his lessons, he went over them with
Henderson (who entered eagerly into his wishes) with such care, that
they, both of them, astonished themselves with their own improving
progress.  If they came to any insuperable difficulties, Kenrick or
Power gladly helped them, and explained everything to them with that
sympathetic clearness of instruction which makes one boy the best
teacher to another.  The main difficulty still continued to be the
repetition, and grammar rules; but in order to know them, at least by
rote, Walter would get up with the earliest gleam of daylight, and would
put on his trousers and waistcoat after bed-time, and go and sit, book
in hand, under the gaslight in the passage.  This was hard work,
doubtless; but it brought its own reward in successful endeavour and an
approving conscience.  Under this discipline his memory rapidly grew
retentive; no difficulty can stand the assaults of such batteries as
these, and Walter was soon free from all punishments, and as happy as
the day was long.

One little cloud alone remained--the continued and obvious displeasure
of his tutor, and one or two of Mr Paton's chief friends among the
masters.  One of these was Mr Edwards, who, among other duties, had the
management of the chapel choir.  But at length Mr Edwards gave him a
distinguished proof of his returning respect.  He sat near Walter in
chapel, and the hymn happened to be one which came closely home to
Walter's heart after his recent troubles.  This made him join with great
feeling in the singing, and the choirmaster was struck with the strength
and rare sweetness of his voice.  As he left the chapel, Mr Edwards
said to him, "Evson, there is a vacancy for a treble in the choir; I
heard you sing in chapel to-day, and I think that you would supply the
place very well.  Should you like to join?"

Walter very gladly accepted the offer, partly because he hailed the
opportunity of learning a little about music, and because the choir boys
were allowed several highly-valued and exceptional privileges; but
chiefly because they were always chosen by the masters with express
reference to character, and therefore the invitation to join their
number was the clearest proof that could be given him that the past was
condoned.

The last to offer him the right-hand of forgiveness, but the best and
warmest friend to him when once he had done so, was Mr Percival.  He
still passed him with only the coldest and most distant recognition, for
he not only felt Mr Paton's loss with peculiar sorrow, but was also
vexed and disappointed that a boy whose character he had openly defended
should have proved so unworthy of his encomium.  It happened that the
_only_ time that Walter was ever again sent to detention was for a
failure in a long lesson, including much which had been learnt on the
morning that he was out of school, which, in consequence, he found it
impossible, with all his efforts, to master.  Mr Paton saw how
mortified and pained he was to fail, and when he sent him to detention,
most kindly called him up, and told him that he saw the cause of his
unsuccess, and was not _in the least_ displeased at it, although, as he
had similarly punished other boys, he could not make any exception to
the usual rule of punishment.  On this occasion, it was again Mr
Percival's turn to sit with the _detenus_, and seeing Walter among them,
he too hastily concluded that he was still continuing a career of
disgrace.

"What! you here again?" he said with chilling scorn, as he passed the
seat where Walter sat writing.  "After what has happened, I should have
been ashamed to be sent here, if I were you."

After his days and nights of toil, after his long, manly, noble struggle
to show his penitence, after his heavy and disproportionate punishment,
it was hard to be so addressed by one whom he respected, in the presence
of all the idlest in the school, and in consequence of a purely
accidental and isolated failure.  Walter looked up with an appealing
look in his dark blue eyes; but Mr Percival had passed on, and he bent
his head over his paper with the old sense that the past could _never_
be forgotten, the recollection of his disgrace _never_ obliterated.  No
one was observing him; and as the feeling of despair grew in him, a
large tear dropped down upon his paper; he wiped it quietly away, and
continued writing, but another and another fell, and he could not help
it.  For Mr Percival was almost the only master whose goodwill he very
strongly coveted, and whose approval he was most anxious to attain.

When next Mr Percival stopped and looked at Walter, he saw that his
words had wounded him to the heart, and knew well why the boy's lines
were blurred and blotted, when he showed them up with a timid hand and
downcast look.

He was touched.  "I have been too hard on you, Evson," he said; "I see
it now.  Come to tea with me after chapel this evening; I want to speak
with you."



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

HAPPIER HOURS.

  "Sir, you are one of those that will not serve God if the devil bid
  you."

  Othello, act 1, scene 1.

When chapel was over, Walter, having brushed his hair, and made himself
rather neater and more spruce than a schoolboy usually is at the middle
of a long half, went to Mr Percival's room.  Mr Percival, having been
detained, had not yet come in; but Henderson, Kenrick, and Power, who
had also been asked to tea, were there waiting for him when Walter
arrived, and Henderson, as usual, amusing the others and himself with a
flood of mimicry and nonsense.

"You know that mischievous little Penkridge," said Kenrick; "he nearly
had an accident this morning.  We were in the classroom, and Edwards was
complaining of the bad smell of the room--"

"Bad smell!" interrupted Henderson, "I'll bet you what you like Edwards
didn't say bad smell.  _He's_ not the man to call a spade a spade; he
calls it an agricultural implement for the trituration of the soil."

"Why, what _should_ he say?" asked Kenrick, "if he didn't say `bad
smell'?"

"Why, `What a malodorous effluvium!'" said Henderson, imitating exactly
the master's somewhat drawling tone; "`what a con-cen-trra-ted malarious
miasma; what an unendurable'--I say Power, give us the Greek, or Hebrew,
or Kamschatkan, for `smell.'"

"Odwde," suggested Power.

"That's it to a T," said Henderson; "I bet you he observed, `What an
un-en-duu-rrable osus.'  Now, didn't he?  Confess the truth."

"Well, I believe he did say something of the kind," said Kenrick,
laughing; "at least I know he called it Stygian and Tartarean.  But, as
I was saying, he set Penkridge (who happened to be going round with the
lists) to examine the cupboards, and see if by chance some inopportune
rat had died there; and Penkridge, opening one of them where the floor
was very rotten, and poking about with his foot, knocked a great piece
of plaster off the great schoolroom ceiling, and was as nearly as
possible putting his foot through it."

"Fancy if he had," said Walter, "how astonished we should have been down
below.  I say, Henderson, what _would_ Paton have said?"

"Oh!  Paton," said Henderson, delighted with any opportunity for
mimicry, "he'd have whispered quietly, in an emotionless voice,
`Penkridge, Penkridge, come here--come here, Penkridge.  This is a very
unusual method, Penkridge, of entering a room--highly irregular.  If you
haven't broken your leg or your arm, Penkridge, you must write me two
hundred lines.'"

"And Robertson?" asked Kenrick.

"Oh!  Robertson--he'd have put up his eye-glass," said Henderson, again
exactly hitting off the master's attitude, "and he'd have observed, `Ah!
Penkridge has fallen through the floor; probably fractured some bones.
Slippery fellow, he won't be able to go to the Fighting Cocks _this_
afternoon, at any rate.'  Whereupon Stevens would have gone up to him
with the utmost tenderness, and asked him if he was hurt; and Penkridge,
getting up, would, by way of gratitude, have grinned in his face."

"Well, you'd better finish the scene," said Power; "what would Percival
have said?"

"Thunder-and-lightning?  Oh! that's easy to decide; he'd have made two
or three quotations; he'd have immediately called the attention of the
form to the fact that Penkridge had been:--

  "`Flung by angry Jove
  Sheer o'er the crystal battlements; from morn
  Till noon he fell, from noon till dewy eve;
  A winter's day, and as the tea-bell rang,
  Shot from the ceiling like a falling star
  On the great schoolroom floor.'"

"Would he, indeed?" said Mr Percival, pinching Henderson's ear, as he
came in just in time to join in the laugh which this parody occasioned.

Tea at Saint Winifred's is a regular and recognised institution.  There
are few nights on which some of the boys do not adjourn after chapel to
tea at the masters' houses, when they have the privilege of sitting up
an hour and a half later.  The masters generally adopt this method of
seeing their pupils and the boys in whom they are interested.  The
institution works admirably; the first and immediate result of it is,
that here boys and masters are more intimately acquainted, and being so,
are on warmer and friendlier terms with each other than perhaps at any
other school--certainly on warmer terms than if they never met except in
the still and punishment-pervaded atmosphere of the schoolrooms; and the
second and remoter result is, that not only in the matter of work
already alluded to, but also in other and equally important particulars,
the tone and character of Saint Winifred's boys is higher and purer than
it would otherwise be.  There is a simplicity and manliness there which
cannot fail to bring forth its rich fruits of diligence, truthfulness,
and honour.  Many are the boys who have come from thence, who, in the
sweet yet sober dignity of their life and demeanour, go far to realise
the beautiful ideal of Christian boyhood.  Many are the boys there who
are walking, through the gates of humility and diligence, to certain,
and merited, and conspicuous honour.

I know that there are many who believe in none of these things, and care
not for them; who repudiate the necessity and duty of early godliness;
who set up no ideal at all, because to do so would expose them to the
charge of sentiment or enthusiasm, a charge which they dread more than
that of villainy itself.  These men regard the heart as a muscle
consisting of four cavities, called respectively the auricles and the
ventricles, and useful for no other purpose but to aerate the blood; all
other meanings of the word they despise or ignore.  They regard the
world not as a scene of probation, not as a passage to a newer and
higher life, but as a "convenient feeding-trough" for every low passion
and unworthy impulse; as a place where they can build on the foundation
of universal scepticism a reputation for superior ability.  This
degradation of spirit, this premature cynicism, this angry sneering at a
tone superior to their own, this addiction to a low and lying satire,
which is the misbegotten child of envy and disbelief, has infected our
literature to a deplorable and almost hopeless extent.  It might be
sufficient to leave it, in all its rottenness and inflation, to every
good man's silent scorn, if it had not also so largely tainted the
intellect of the young.  If, in popular papers or magazines, boys are to
read that, in a boy, lying is natural and venial; that courtesy to, and
love for, a master, is impossible or hypocritical; that swearing and
corrupt communication are peccadilloes which none but preachers and
pedagogues regard as discreditable--how can we expect success to the
labours of those who toil all their lives, amid neglect and ingratitude,
to elevate the boys of England to a higher and holier view?  I have seen
this taint of _atheistic disregard for sin_ poison article after
article, and infuse its bitter principle into many a young man's heart;
and worse than this--adopted as it is by writers whom some consider to
be mighty in intellect and leaders of opinion, I have seen it corrode
the consciences and degrade the philosophy of far better and far
worthier men.

It is a solemn duty to protest, with all the force of heart and
conscience, against this dangerous gospel of sin, this "giving to
manhood's vices the privilege of boyhood."  It was _not_ the gospel
taught at Saint Winifred's; there we were taught that we were baptised
Christian boys, that the seal of God's covenant was on our foreheads,
that the oath of His service was on our consciences, that we were His
children, and the members of His Son, and the inheritors of His kingdom;
that His laws were our safeguard, and that our bodies were the temples
of His Spirit.  We were not taught--_that_ was left for the mighty
intellects of this age to discover--that as we were boys, a Christian
principle and a Christian standard were above our comprehension, and
alien from our possible attainments; we did not believe then, nor will I
now, that a clear river is likely to flow from a polluted stream, or a
good tree grow from bitter fibres and cankered roots.

Walter and the others spent a very happy evening with Mr Percival.
When tea was over they talked as freely with him, and with each other in
his presence, as they would have done among themselves; and the
occasional society of their elders and superiors was in every way good
for them.  It enlarged their sympathies, widened their knowledge, and
raised their moral tone.

Among many other subjects that evening they talked over one which never
fails to interest deeply every right-minded boy--I mean their homes.  It
was no wonder that, as Walter talked of the glories of Semlyn lake and
its surrounding hills, his face lighted up, and his eyes shone with
pleasant memories.  Mr Percival, as he looked at him, felt more puzzled
than ever at his having gone wrong, and more confirmed than ever in the
opinion that he had been hard and unjust to him of late, and that his
original estimate of him was the right one after all.

Power's home was a statelier one than Walter's.  His father, Sir
Lawrence Power, was a baronet, the owner of broad acres, whose large and
beautiful mansion stood on one of the undulations in a park shadowed by
ancestral trees, under whose boughs the deer fed with their graceful
fawns around them.  Through the park flowed a famous river, of which the
windings were haunted by herons and kingfishers, and the pleasant waters
abounded in trout and salmon.  And to this estate and title Power was
heir; though of course he did not tell them this while he spoke of the
lovely scenery around the home where his fathers had so long lived.

Henderson, again, was the son of a rich merchant, who had two houses--
one city and one suburban.  He was a regular little man of the world.
After the holidays he had always seen the last feats of Saltori, and
heard the most recent strains of Tiralirini.  He always went to a round
of entertainments, and would make you laugh by the hour while he sang
the songs or imitated the style of the last comic actor or Ethiopian
minstrel.

While they were chatting over their holiday amusements and occupations,
Kenrick said little; and, wondering at his silence, Mr Percival asked
him in what part of the world he lived.

"I, sir?" he said, as though awaked from a reverie; "Oh, I live at
Fuzby, a village on the border of the fens, and in the very middle of
the heavy clays."  And Kenrick turned away his head.

"Don't abuse the clay," said Walter to cheer him up; "I'm very fond of
the clay; it produces good roses and good strawberries--and those are
the two best things going, in any soil."

"Half-past ten, youngsters," said Mr Percival, holding up his watch;
"off with you to bed.  Let yourselves in through the grounds; here's the
key.  Good-night to you.  Walter," he said, calling him back as he was
about to leave, "one word with you alone; you three wait for him a
moment outside.  I wanted to tell you that, although I have seemed harsh
to you, I dare say, of late, yet now I hear that you are making the most
honourable efforts, and I have quite forgotten the past.  My good
opinion of you, Walter, is quite restored; and whenever you want to be
quiet to learn your lessons, you may always come and sit in my room."

Mr Percival was not the only Saint Winifred's master who thus
generously abridged his own leisure and privacy to assist the boys in
what he felt an interest.  Walter thanked him with real gratitude, and
rejoined the other three.  "He's let me sit in his room," said Walter.

"Has he?" said Henderson; "so he has me.  How jolly! we shall get on
twice as well."

"What's that?" said Power, pointing upwards, as they walked through the
garden to their house door.

Glancing in the direction, Walter saw a light suddenly go out in his
dormitory, and a great bundle (apparently) disappear inside the window,
which was then shut down.

"I'll go and see," he said.  "Good-night, you fellows."

All was quiet when he reached his room, but one of the candles,
ineffectually extinguished, was still smoking, and when he looked to
Eden's bed he saw by the gaslight that shone through the open door, that
the child was awake, and crying bitterly.

"What's the matter, Eden?" he said kindly, sitting down upon his bed.

"If you peach," said Harpour and Jones together; "you know what you'll
get."

"Have you fellows been bullying poor little Eden?" asked Walter
indignantly.

"I've not," and "I've not," said Anthony and Franklin, who were better
than the rest in every way; and "I haven't touched the fellow, Evson,"
said Cradock, who meant no harm, and at Walter's earnest request had
never again annoyed Eden since the first night.

"Poor little Eden--poor little fiddlestick," said Jones, "it does the
young cub good."

"Send him home to his grandmamma, and let him have his bib and his
night-cap," growled Harpour; "is he made of butter, and are you afraid
of his melting, you Evson, that you make such a fuss with him?  You want
your lickings yourself, and shall have them if you don't look out."

"I don't care what you do to _me_, Harpour," rejoined Walter, "and I
don't think you'll do very much.  But I do tell you that it's a
blackguard shame for a great big fellow like you to torment a little
delicate chap like Eden; and what's more, you shan't do it."

"Shan't! my patience.  I like that I why, who is to prevent me?"

"I suppose he'll turn sneak, and peach," said Jones; "he'd do anything
that's mean, we all know."

Walter was always liable to that taunt now.  It was a part of his
punishment, and the one which lasted longest.  From any other boy he
might have winced under it; but really, coming from Jones, it was too
contemptible to notice.

"You shut up, Jones," he said angrily; "you shan't touch Eden again, I
can tell you, whatever Harpour does, and he'd better look out what he
does."

"Look out yourself," said Harpour, flinging a football boot at Walter's
head.

"You'll find your boot on the grass outside to-morrow morning," said
Walter, opening the window, and dropping it down.  He wasn't a bit
afraid, because he always went on the instinctive and never-mistaken
assumption, that a bully must be a coward in his inmost nature.  Cruelty
to the weaker is incompatible with the generosity of all true courage.

"By Jove, I'll thrash you for that to-morrow," shouted Harpour.

"_To-morrow_!" said Walter with great contempt.

"Oh, don't make him angry, Walter," whispered Eden; "you know what a
strong fellow he is," (Eden shuddered, as though _he_ had reason to
know); "and you can't fight him; and you mustn't get a thrashing for my
sake.  I'm not worth that.  I'd rather bear it myself, Walter--indeed I
would."

"Good-night, poor little Eden," said Walter; "you're safe to-night at
any rate.  Why, how cold you are!  What _have_ they been doing to you?"

"I daren't tell you to-night, Walter; I will to-morrow," he answered in
a low tone, shivering all over.

"Well, then, go to sleep now, my little man; and don't you be afraid of
Harpour or any one else.  I won't let them bully you if I can help it."

Eden squeezed Walter's hand tight, and sobbed his thanks, while Walter
gently smoothed the child's pillow and dried his tears.

Poor Eden! as I said before, he was too weak, too delicate, too tenderly
nurtured, and far, far too young for the battle of life in a public
school.  For even at Saint Winifred's, as there are and must be at all
great schools, there were some black sheep in the flock undiscovered,
and therefore unseparated from the rest.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER.

  "'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.
  Our bodies are gardens to the which our wills are gardeners."

  Othello, Act One Scene 3.

As Walter lay awake for a few quiet moments before he sent his thoughts
to rest, he glanced critically, like an Indian gymnosophist, over the
occurrences of the day.  He could not but rejoice that the last person
for whom he felt real regard had forgiven him his rash act, and that his
offence had thus finally been absolved on earth as in heaven.  He
rejoiced, too, that Mr Percival's kind permission to learn his lessons
in his room would give him far greater advantages and opportunities than
he had hitherto enjoyed.  Yet Walter's conscience was not quite at ease.
The last scene had disturbed him.  The sobs and shiverings of little
Eden had fallen very reproachfully into his heart.  Walter felt that he
might have done far more for him than he had done.  He had, indeed, even
throughout his own absorbing troubles, extended to the child a general
protection, but not a special care.  It never occurred to him to excuse
himself with the thought that he was "not his brother's keeper."  The
truth was that he had found Eden uninteresting, because he had not taken
the pains to be interested in him, and while one voice within his heart
reproved him of neglect and selfishness, another voice seemed to say to
him, in a firm yet kindlier tone, "Now that thou are converted,
strengthen thy brethren."

For indeed as yet Eden's had been a very unhappy lot.  Bullied, teased,
and persecuted by the few among whom accident had first thrown him, and
judged to belong to their set by others who on that account considered
him a boy of a bad sort, he was almost friendless at Saint Winifred's.
And the loneliness, the despair of this feeling, weighing upon his
heart, robbed him of all courage to face the difficulties of work, so
that in school as well as out of it, he was always in trouble.  He was
for ever clumsily scrawling in his now illegible hand the crooked and
blotted lines of punishment which his seeming ignorance or sluggishness
brought upon him; and although he was always to be seen at detention, he
almost hailed this disgrace as affording him at least some miserable
shadow of occupation, and a refuge, however undesirable, from the
torments of those degraded few to whom his childish tears, his weak
entreaties, his bursts of impotent passion, caused nothing but low
amusement.  Out of school his great object always was to hide himself;
anywhere, so as to be beyond the reach of Jones, Harpour, and other
bullies of the same calibre.  For this purpose he would conceal himself
for a whole afternoon at a time up in the fir-groves, listlessly
gathering into heaps the red sheddings of their umbrage, and pulling to
pieces their dry and fragrant cones; or, when he feared that these
resorts would be disturbed by some little gang of lounging smokers, he
would choose some lonely place, under the shadow of the mountain cliffs,
and sit for hours together, aimlessly rolling white lumps of quartz over
the shingly banks.  Under continued trials like these he became quite
changed.  The childish innocence and beauty of countenance, the childish
frankness and gaiety of heart, the childish quickness and intelligence
of understanding, were exchanged for vacant looks, stupid indifference,
and that half-cunning expression which is always induced by craven fear.
Accustomed, too, to be waited upon and helped continually in the home
where his mother, a gay young widow, had petted and spoiled him, he
became slovenly and untidy in dress and habits.  He rarely found time or
heart to write home, and even when he did, he so well knew that his
mother was incapable of sympathy or comprehension of his suffering, that
the dirty and ill-spelt scrawl rarely alluded to the one dim
consciousness that brooded over him night and day--that he couldn't
understand life, and only knew that he was a very friendless, unhappy,
unpitied little boy.  If he could have found even one to whom to unfold
and communicate his griefs, even one to love him unreservedly, all the
inner beauty and brightness of his character would have blown and
expanded in that genial warmth.  He once thought that in Walter he had
found such an one, but when he saw that his dullness bored Walter, and
that his listless manners and untidy habits made him cross, he shrank
back within himself.  He was thankful to Walter as a protector, but did
not look upon him as a friend in whom he could implicitly confide.  The
flower without sunshine will lose its colour and its perfume.  Six weeks
after Arthur Eden, a merry, bright-eyed child, alighted from his
mother's carriage at the old gate of Saint Winifred's school, no casual
stranger would have recognised him again in the pale and moping little
fellow who seemed to be afraid of every one whom he met.

Oh, if we knew how rare, how sweet, how deep human love can be, how
easily, yet how seldom it is gained, how inexpressible the treasure is
when once it _has_ been gained, we should not trample on human hearts as
lightly as most men do!  Any one who in that hard time had spoken a few
kindly words to Eden--any one who would have taken him gently for a
short while by the hand, and helped him over the stony places that hurt
his unaccustomed feet--any one who would have suffered, or who would
have invited him, to pour his sorrows into their ears and assist him to
sustain them--might have won, even at that slight cost, the deepest and
most passionate love of that trembling young heart.  He might have saved
him from hours of numbing pain, and won the rich reward of a gratitude
well-deserved and generously repaid.  There were many boys at Saint
Winifred's gentle-hearted, right-minded, of kindly and manly impulses;
but all of them, except Walter, lost this golden opportunity of
conferring pure happiness by disinterested good deeds.  They did not buy
up the occasion, which goes away and burns the priceless books she
offers, if they are not purchased unquestioningly and at once.

And Walter regretfully felt that he was very very nearly too late; so
nearly, that perhaps in a week or two more Eden might have lost
hopelessly, and for ever, all trace of self-respect--might have been
benumbed into mental imbecility by the torpedo-like influence of
helpless grief.  Walter felt as if he had been selfishly looking on
while a fellow-creature was fast sinking in the water, and as if it were
only at the last possible moment that he had held out a saving hand.
But, by God's grace, he _did_ hold out the saving hand at last, and it
was grasped firmly, and a dear life was saved.  Years after when Arthur
Eden had grown into--but stop, I must not so far anticipate my story.
Suffice it to say, that Walter's kindness to Eden, helped to bring about
long afterwards one of the chief happinesses of his own life.

"Come a stroll, Eden, before third school, and let's have a talk," he
said, as they came out from dinner in hall the next day.

Eden looked up happily, and he was proud to be seen by Walter's side in
the throng of boys, as they passed out, and across the court, and under
the shadow of the arch towards Walter's favourite haunt, the seashore.
Walter never felt weak or unhappy for long together, when the sweetness
of the sea-wind was on his forehead, and the song of the sea waves in
his ear.  A run upon the shore in all weathers, if only for five
minutes, was his daily pleasure and resource.

They sat down; the sea flashed before them a mirror of molten gold,
except where the summits of the great mountain of Appenfell threw their
deep broad shadows, which seemed purple by contrast with the brightness
over which they fell.  Walter sat, full of healthy enjoyment as he
breathed the pure atmosphere, and felt the delicious wind upon his
glowing cheeks; and Eden was happy to be with him, and to sit quietly by
his side.

"Eden," said Walter, after a few moments, "I'm afraid you've not been
happy lately."

The poor child shook his head, and answered, "No one cares for me here;
every one looks down on me, and is unkind; I've no friends."

"What, don't you count me as a friend, then?"

"Yes, Walter, you're very kind; I'm sure I _couldn't_ have lived here if
it hadn't been for you; but you're so much above me, and--"

Walter would not press him to fill up the omission, he could understand
the rest of the sentence for himself.

"You mustn't think I don't feel how good you've been to me, Walter,"
said the boy, drawing near to him, and taking his hand; "but--"

"Yes, yes," said Walter; "I understand it all.  Well, never mind, I
_will_ be a friend to you now."

A tear trembled on Eden's long eyelashes as he looked up quickly into
Walter's face.  "Will you, Walter? thank you, I have no other friend
here; and please--"

"Well, what is it?"

"Will you call me Arthur, as they do at home?"

Walter smiled.  "Well now," he said, "tell me what they were doing to
you last night?"

"You won't tell them I told you, Walter," he answered, looking round,
with the old look of decrepit fear usurping his face, which had
brightened for the moment.

"No, no," said Walter, impatiently; "why, what a little coward you are,
Eden."

The boy shrank back into himself as if he had received a blow, and
relaxed his grasp of Walter's hand; but Walter, struck with the
sensitive timidity which unkindness had caused, and sorry to have given
him pain in all his troubles, said kindly--

"There, Arty, never mind; I didn't mean it; don't be afraid; tell me
what they did to you.  I saw a light in our dormitory as I was coming
back from Percival's, and I saw something dragged through the window.
What was it?"

"That was me," said Eden naively.

"You?"

"Yes; poor me.  They let me down by a sheet which they tied round my
waist."

"What, from that high window?  I hope they tied you tight."

"Only one knot; I ever so nearly slipped out of it last night, and
that's what frightened me so, Walter."

"How horribly dangerous," said Walter indignantly.

"I know it is horribly dangerous," said Eden, standing up, and
gesticulating violently, in one of those bursts of passion which flashed
out of him now and then, and were the chief amusement of his
persecutors; "and I dream about it all night," he said, bursting into
tears, "and I know, I know that some day I shall slip, or the knot will
come undone, and I shall fall and be smashed to atoms.  But what do they
care for that? and I sometimes wish I were dead myself, to have it all
over."

"Hush, Arty, don't talk like that," said Walter, as he felt the little
soiled hand trembling with passion and emotion in his own.  "But what on
earth do they let you down for?"

"To go to--but you won't tell?" he said, looking round again.  "Oh, I
forgot, you didn't like my saying that.  But it's they who have made me
a coward, Walter; indeed it is."

"And no wonder," thought Walter to himself.  "But you needn't be afraid
any more," he said aloud; "I promise you that no one shall do anything
to you which they'd be afraid to do to me."

"Then I'm safe," said Eden, joyfully.  "Well, they made me go to--to
Dan's."

"Dan's? what, the fisherman's just near the shore."

"Yes; ugh!"

"But don't you know, Arty, that Dan's a brute, and a regular smuggler,
and that if you were caught going there, you'd be sent away?"

"Yes; you can't think, Walter, how I _hate_, and how frightened I am to
go there.  There's Dan, and there's that great lout of a wicked son of
his, and they're always drunk, and the hut--ugh! it's so nasty; and last
night Dan seized hold of me with his horrid red hand, and wanted me to
drink some gin, and I shrieked."  The very remembrance seemed to make
him shudder.

"Well, then, after that I was nearly caught.  I think, Walter, that even
you would be a coward if you had such long long frights.  You know that
to get to Dan's, after the gates are locked, the only way is to go over
the railing, and through Dr Lane's garden, and I'm always frightened to
death lest his great dog should be loose, and should catch hold of me.
He did growl last night.  And then as I was hurrying back--you know it
was rather moonlight last night, and not very cold--and who should I see
but the Doctor himself walking up and down the garden.  I crouched in a
minute behind a thick holly-tree, and I suppose I made a rustle, though
I held my breath, for the Doctor stopped and shook the tree, and said
`shoo,' as though he thought a cat were hidden there.  I was half dead
with fright, though I did hope, after all, that he would catch me, and
that I might be sent away from this horrid place.  But when he turned
round, I crept away, and made the signal, and they let down the sheet,
and then, as they were hauling me up, I heard voices--I suppose they
must have been yours and Kenrick's; but they thought it was some master,
and doused the glim, and oh! so nearly let me fall; so, Walter, please
don't despise me, or be angry with me because you found me crying and
shivering in bed.  The cold made me shiver, and I couldn't help crying;
indeed I couldn't."

"Poor Arty, poor Arty," said Walter, soothingly.  "But have they ever
done this before?"

"Yes, once, when you were at the choir-supper, one night."

"They never shall again, I swear," said Walter, frowning, as he thought
how detestably cruel they had been.  "But what did they send you for?"

"For no good," said Eden.

"No; I knew it would be for no good, if it was to Dan's that they sent
you."

"Well, Walter, the first time it was for some drink; and the second time
for some more drink," he said, after a little hesitation.

Walter looked serious.  "But don't you know, Arty," he said, "that it's
very wrong to get such things for them?  If they want to have any
dealings with that beast Dan, who's not fit to speak to, let them go
themselves.  Arty, it's very wrong; you mustn't do it."

"But how can I help it?" said the boy, looking frightened and ashamed.
"Oh, must I always be blamed by every one," he said, putting his hands
to his eyes.  "It isn't my sin, Walter, it's theirs.  They made me."

"_Nobody can ever make anyone else do what's wrong_, Arty."

"Oh, yes; it's all very easy for _you_ to say that, Walter, who can
fight anybody, and who are so strong and good, and whom no one dares
bully, and who are not laughed at, and made a butt of, as I am."

"Look at Power," said Walter, "or look at Dubbs.  They came as young as
you, Arty, and as weak as you, but no one ever made _them_ do wrong.
Power somehow looks too noble to be bullied by anyone; they're afraid of
him, I don't know why.  But what had Dubbs to protect him?  Yet not all
the Harpours in the world would ever make him go to such a place as
Dan's."

Poor Eden felt it hard to be blamed for this; he was not yet strong
enough to learn that the path of duty, however hard and thorny, however
hedged in with difficulties and antagonisms, is always the easiest and
the pleasantest in the end.

"But they'd half kill me, Walter," he said plaintively.

"They'll have much more chance of doing that as it is," said Walter.
"They'd thrash you a little, no doubt, but respect you more for it.  And
surely it would be better to bear one thrashing, and not do what's
wrong, than to do it and to go two such journeys out of the window, and
get the thrashings into the bargain?  So even on _that_ ground you ought
to refuse.  Eh, Arty?"

"Yes, Walter," he said, casting down his eyes.

"Well; next time either Harpour, or any one else, tries to make you do
what's wrong, remember they _can't_ make you, if you don't choose; and
say flatly `_No_!' and stick to it in spite of everything, like a brave
little man, will you?"

"I did say `No!' at first, Walter; but they threatened to frighten me,"
he said.  "They knew I daren't hold out."

Yes; there was the secret of it all.  Walter saw that they had played on
this child's natural terrors with such refinement of cruelty, that fear
had become the master principle in his mind; they had only to touch that
spring and he obeyed them mechanically like a puppet, and because of his
very fear, was driven to do things that might well cause genuine fear,
till he lived in such a region of increasing fear and dread, that
Walter's only surprise was that he had not been made an idiot already.
Poor child! it was no wonder that he was becoming more stupid, cunning,
untidy, and uninteresting, every day.  And all this was going on under
the very eyes of many thoroughly noble boys, and conscientious masters,
and yet they never saw or noticed it, and looked on Eden as an idle and
unprincipled little sloven.  O our harsh human judgments!  The Priest
and the Levite still pass the wounded man, and the good Samaritans are
rare on this world's highways.

What was Walter to do?  He did not know the very name of psychology, but
he did know the unhinging, desolating power of an overmastering spirit
of fear.  He knew that fear hath torment, but he had no conception by
what means that demon can be exorcised.  Yet he thought, as he raised
his eyes for one instant to heaven in silent supplication, that there
were few devils who would not go out by prayer, and he made a strong
resolve that he would use every endeavour to make up for his past
neglectfulness, and to save this poor unhappy child.

"I'm not blaming you, Arthur," he said, "but I like you, and don't want
to see you go wrong, and be a tool in bad boys' hands.  I hope you ask
God to help you, Arthur?"

Eden looked at him, but said nothing.  He had been taught but little,
and by example he had been taught _nothing_ of the Awful Far-off Friend
Who is yet so near to every humble spirit, and Who even now had sent His
angel to save this lamb who knew not of His fold.

"Listen to me, Arthur--ah! there I hear the third school-bell, and we
must go in--but listen!  I'll be your friend; I want to be your friend.
I'll try and save you from all this persecution.  Will you always trust
me?"

Eden's look of gratitude more than repaid him, and Walter added, "And,
Arty, you must not give up your prayers.  Ask God to help you, and to
keep you from going wrong, and to make you brave.  Won't you, Arty?"

The little boy's heart was full even to breaking with its weight of
happy tears; it was too full to speak.  He pressed Walter's hand for one
moment, and walked in by his side, without a word.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

DAUBENY.

  La Genie c'est la Patience.

  Buffon.

I suppose that no days of life are so happy as those in which some great
sorrow has been removed.  Certainly Walter's days as his heart grew
lighter and lighter with the consciousness that Mr Paton had forgiven
him, that all those who once looked on him coldly had come round, that
his difficulties were vanishing before steady diligence, and that, young
as he was, he was winning for himself a name and a position in the
school, were very full of peace.  O pleasant days of boyhood! how
mercifully they are granted to prepare us, to cheer us, to make us wise
for the struggles of future life.  To Walter at this time life itself
was an exhilarating enjoyment.  To get up in the morning bright,
cheerful, and refreshed, with thoughts:

  "Pleasant as roses in the thickets blown,
  And pure as dew bathing their crimson leaves;"

to get over his lessons easily and successfully, and receive Mr Paton's
quiet word of praise; to shake with laughing over the flood of nonsense
with which Henderson always deluged everyone who sat near him at
breakfast-time; to help little Eden in his morning's work, and to see
with what intense affection and almost adoration the child looked up to
him; to stroll with Kenrick under the pine woods, or have a pleasant
chat in Power's pretty little study, or read a book in the luxurious
retirement of Mr Percival's room, or, if it were a half-holiday, to
join in the skating, hare and hounds, football, or whatever game might
be on hand--all these things were to Walter Evson one long unbroken
pleasure.  At this time he was the brightest, and pleasantest, and
happiest of all light-hearted and happy English boys.

The permission to go whenever he liked to Mr Percival's room was his
most valued privilege.  There he could always secure such immunity from
disturbance as enabled him to learn his lessons in half the time he
would otherwise have been obliged to devote to them; and there too he
could always ask the master's assistance when he came to any insuperable
difficulty, and always enjoy the society of Henderson and the one or two
other boys who were allowed by Mr Percival's kindness to use the same
retreat.  From the bottom of his form he rapidly rose to the top, and at
last was actually placed first.  A murmur of pleasure ran through the
form on the first Sunday when his name was read out in this honourable
position, and it gave Walter nearly as much satisfaction to hear
Henderson's name read out _sixth_ on the same day; for before Walter
came, Henderson was too volatile ever to care where he stood in form,
and usually spent his time in school in drawing caricatures of the
masters, and writing parodies of the lesson or epigrams on other boys;
up till this time Daubeny had always been first in the form, and he
deserved the place if any boy did.  He was not a clever boy, but nothing
could exceed his well-intentioned industry.  Like Sir Walter Raleigh he
"toiled terribly."  It was an almost pathetic sight to see Dubbs set
about learning his repetitions; it was a noble sight, too.  There was a
heroism about it which was all the greater from its being unnoticed and
unrecorded.  Poor Dubbs had no privacy except such as the great
schoolroom could afford, and there is not much privacy in a room,
however large, which is the common habitation of fifty boys.
Nevertheless, the undaunted Daubeny would choose out the quietest and
loneliest corner of the room, and with elbows on knees and hands over
his ears to shut out the chaotic noises which surrounded him, would stay
repeating the lines to himself with attention wholly concentrated and
absorbed, until, after perhaps an hour's work, he knew enough of them to
enable him to finish mastering them the next morning.  Next morning he
would be up with the earliest dawn, and would again set himself to the
task with grand determination, content if at the end of the week he
gained the distinguished reward of being head in his form, and could
allow himself the keen pleasure of writing home to tell his mother of
his success.

When Daubeny had first come to Saint Winifred's, he had been forced to
go through very great persecution.  As he sat down to do his work he
would be pelted with orange peel, kicked, tilted off the form on which
he sat, ridiculed, and sometimes chased out of the room.  All this he
had endured with admirable patience and good humour; in short, so
patiently and good-humouredly that all boys who had in them a spark of
sense or honour very soon abandoned this system of torment, and made up
for it as far as they could by respect and kindness, which always,
however, took more or less the form of banter.  It is not to be expected
that boys will ever be made to see that steady, strenuous industry, even
when it fails, is a greater and a better thing than idle cleverness, but
those few who were so far in advance of their years as to have some
intuition of this fact, felt for the character of Daubeny, a value which
gave him an influence of a rare and important kind.  For nothing could
daunt this young martyr--not even failure itself.  If he were too much
bullied and annoyed to get up his lesson overnight, he would be up by
five in the morning working at it with unremitting assiduity.  Very
often he _overdid_ it, and knew his lesson all the worse in proportion
as he had spent upon it too great an amount of time.  Without being
positively stupid, his intellect was somewhat dull, and as his manner
was shy and awkward he had not been quite understood at first, and no
master had taken him specially in hand to lighten his burdens.  His
bitterest trial, therefore, was to fail completely every now and then,
and be reproached for it by some master who little knew the hours of
weary work which he had devoted to the unsuccessful attempt.  This was
particularly the case during his first half-year, during which he had
been in Mr Robertson's form.  It happened that, from the very weariness
of brain induced by his working too hard, he had failed in several
successive lessons, and Mr Robertson, who was a man of quick temper and
stinging speech, had made some very cutting remarks upon him, and sent
him, moreover, to detention--a punishment which caused to his sensitive
mind a pain hardly less acute than the master's pungent and undeserved
sarcasm.  This mishap, joined to his low weekly placing, very nearly
filled him with despair, and this day might have turned the scale, and
fixed him in the position of a heavy and disheartened boy, but for
Power, who had come to Saint Winifred's at the same time with Daubeny,
and who, although in his unusually rapid progress he had long left
Daubeny behind, was then in the same form and the same dormitory with
him, and knew how he worked.  Power used always to say to his friends
that Dubbs was the worthiest, the bravest, the most upright and
conscientious boy in all Saint Winifred's school.  Daubeny, on the other
hand, had for Power the kind of adoration of the savage for the sun; he
was the boy's beau-ideal of a perfect scholar and a perfect being.--It
was a curious sight to see the two boys together Power with his fine and
thoughtful face beaming with intelligence, Dubbs with large, heavy
features and awkward gait; Power sitting down with his book and
perfectly mastering the lesson in a quarter of an hour, and then turning
round to say, with a bright arch look, "Well, Dubbs, I've learnt the
lesson; how far are you?"

"Learnt the lesson?  O, lucky fellow.  I only know one stanza and that
not perfectly; let me see--`Nam quid Typhoeus et validus Mimas nam
quid'--no; I don't know even that, I see."

"Here, let me hear you."

Whereupon Dubbs would begin again, and flounder hopelessly at the end of
the third line, and then Power would continue it all through with him,
fix the sense of it in his memory, read it over, suggest little mnemonic
dodges and associations of particular words and lines, and not leave him
until he knew it by heart, and was ready with gratitude enough to pluck
out his right eye and give it to Power, if needed, there and then.

The early failures we have been speaking of took place when Power had
been staying out of school with a severe cold, and being in the sickroom
had not seen Daubeny at all.  He had come out again on the morning when,
after Daubeny's failure, Mr Robertson had called him incorrigibly
slothful and incapable, and after muttering some more invectives had
said something about his being hopeless.  As he listened to the master's
remarks, although he knew that they only arose from misconception,
Power's cheeks flushed up with painful surprise, and his eyes sparkled
with indignation for his friend.  He wanted Daubeny to tell Mr
Robertson how many hours he had spent in being "incorrigibly slothful"
over that particular lesson, but this at the time he could not get him
to do.  "Besides," said Daubeny, "if he knows me to be quite hopeless"--
and here the poor boy grew scarlet as he recalled the undeserved
insult--"it's no disgrace to me to fail."

When detention was over, Power sought out his friend, and found him
sitting on the top of a little hill by the side of the river, alone, and
with a most forlornly disconsolate air.  Power saw that he had been
crying bitterly, but had too much good taste to take any notice of the
fact.

"Well, Power, you see what credit I get, and yet you know how I try.
I'm a `bad, idle boy,' it seems, and `incorrigibly slothful,' and
`hardly fit for the school,' and `I must be put down to a lower form if
I don't make more effort'--oh!  I forgot though, you heard it all
yourself.  So you know my character," he said, with a melancholy smile.

"Never mind, old fellow.  You've done your best, and none of us can do
more.  You know the soldier's epitaph--`Here lies one who tried to do
his duty'--a prince could not have better, and you deserve that if
anyone ever did."

"I wish I were you, Power," said Daubeny; "you are so clever, you can
learn the lessons in no time; everyone likes you, and you get no end of
credit, while I'm a mere butt, and when I've worked hard it's a case of
_Kathedeitai honos_, as the lesson-book says."

"Pooh, Dubbs," said Power, kindly putting his arm on his shoulder;
"you're just as happy as I am.  A fellow with a clear conscience _can't_
be in low spirits very long.  Don't you remember the pretty verse I read
to you the other day, and which made me think of you while I read it--

  "`Days that, in spite
  Of darkness, by the light
  Of a clear mind are day all night?'"

"Don't think I _envy_ you, Power--you won't think that, will you?" said
Dubbs with the tears glistening in his eyes.

"No, no, my dear old boy.  Such a nature as yours can't envy, I know;
I'm sure you're as happy when I succeed as when you succeed yourself.  I
think I've got the secret of it, Dubbs.  You work _too_ much; you must
take more exercise--play games more--give less time to the work.  I'm
sure you'll do better then, for half is better than the whole sometimes.
And Dubbs, I may say to you what I wouldn't say to any other boy in the
whole school--but I've found it _so_ true, and I'm sure you will too,
and that is, Bene orasse est bene studuisse."

Dubbs pressed his hand in silence.  The hard thoughts which had been
gathering were dissipated in a moment, and as he walked back to the
school and to new heroic efforts by Power's side, he felt that he had
learnt a secret full of strength.  He did better and better.  He broke
the neck of his difficulties one by one, and had soon surpassed boys who
were far more brilliant, but less industrious, than himself.  Thus it
was that he fought his way up to the position of one of the steadiest
and most influential boys among those of his own standing, because all
knew him to be sterling in his virtues, unswerving in his rectitude,
most humble, and most sincere.  During all his school career he was
never once overtaken in a serious fault.  It may be that he had fewer
temptations than boys more gifted and more mercurial; he was never
exposed to the singularly powerful trials which compensated for the
superiority of others to him in good looks, and popular manners, and
quick passions; but yet his blamelessness had something in it very
beautiful, and his noble upward struggles were remembered with fond
pleasure in after days.

Walter, like all other sensible boys, felt for Daubeny a very sincere
admiration and regard.  Daubeny's fearless rectitude, on the night when
his own indulged temper led him into such suffering, had left a deep
impression on his mind, and, since then, Dubbs had always been among the
number of his more intimate friends.  Hence, when Walter wrested from
him the head place, he was half sorry that he should cause the boy to
lose his well-merited success, and almost wished that he had come out
second, and left Daubeny first.  He knew that there was not in his
rival's nature a particle of envy, but still he feared that he might
suffer some disappointment.  But in this he was mistaken; Daubeny was a
firm believer in the principle of _La carriere ouverte aux talons_; he
was, under the circumstances, quite as happy to be second as to be
first; and among the many who congratulated Walter, none did so with a
heartier sincerity than this generous and single-minded boy.

People still retain the notion that boyish emulation is the almost
certain cause of hatreds and jealousies.  Usually, the fact is the very
reverse.  An _ungenerous_ rivalry is most unusual, and those
schoolfellows who dispute with a boy the prizes of a form are commonly
his most intimate associates and his best friends.  Certainly, Daubeny
liked Walter none the less for his having wrested away from him with so
much ease a distinction which had caused himself such strenuous efforts
to win.

The pleasant excitement of contending for a weekly position made Daubeny
work harder than ever.  Indeed, the whole form seemed to have received a
new stimulus lately.  Henderson was astonishing everybody by a fit of
diligence, and even Howard Tracy seemed less totally indifferent to his
place than usual.  So willingly did the boys work, that Mr Paton had
not half the number of punishments to set, and perhaps his late
misfortune had infused a little more tenderness and consideration into a
character always somewhat stern and unbending.  But, instead of rising,
Daubeny only lost places by his increased work; he was making himself
ill with work.  At the end of the next week, instead of being first or
second, he was only fifth; and when Mr Percival, who always had been
his friend, rallied him on this descent, he sighed deeply, and
complained that he had been suffering lately from headaches, and
supposed that they had prevented him from doing so well as usual.

This remark rather alarmed the master, and on the Sunday afternoon he
asked the boy to come a walk with him, for the express purpose of
endeavouring to persuade him to relax efforts which were obviously being
made to the injury of his health.

When they had once fairly reached the meadows by the riverside, Mr
Percival said to him--

"You are overdoing it, Daubeny.  I can see myself that your mind is in a
tense, excited, nervous condition from work; you must lie fallow, my
dear boy."

"O!  I'm very strong, sir," said Daubeny; "I've a cast-iron
constitution, as that amusing plague of mine, Henderson, always tells
me."

"Never mind, you must really work less.  I won't have that getting up at
five in the morning.  If you don't take care, I shall _forbid_ you to be
higher than twentieth in your form under heavy penalties, or I shall get
Dr Keith to send you home altogether, and not let you go in to the
examination."

"O! no, sir, you really mustn't do that.  I assure you that I enjoy
work.  An illness I had when I was a child hindered and threw me back
very much, and you can't think how eager I am to make up for that lost
time."

"The time is not lost, my dear Daubeny, if God demanded it in illness
for His own good purposes.  Be persuaded, my boy; abandon, for the
present, all struggle to take a high place until you feel quite well
again, and then you shall work as hard as you like.  Remember, knowledge
itself is valueless in comparison with health."

Daubeny felt the master's kind intention; but he could not restrain his
unconquerable eagerness to get on.  He would have succumbed far sooner,
if Walter and Power had not constantly dragged him out with them almost
by force, and made him take exercise against his will.  But, though he
was naturally strong and healthy, he began to look very pale, and his
best friends urged him to go home and take a holiday.

Would that he had taken that good and kind advice!



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

APPENFELL.

  To breathe the difficult air
  Of the iced mountain top.

  Manfred.

  Fetzo auf den Schroffen Zinken
  Hangt sie, auf dem hochsten Grat,
  Wo die Felsen jah versinken,
  Und verschwunden ist der Pfad.

  Schiller.

It was some weeks before the examination, and the close of the
half-year, when one day Walter, full of glee, burst out of the
schoolroom at twelve, when the lesson was over, to tell Kenrick an
announcement just made to the forms, that the next day was to be a whole
holiday.

"Hurrah!" said Kenrick, "what's it for?"

"O!  Somers has got no end of a scholarship at Cambridge--an awfully
swell thing--and Dr Lane gave a holiday directly he got the telegram
announcing the news."

"Well done, old Somers!" said Kenrick.  "What shall we do?"

"O!  I've had a scheme for a long time in my head, Ken; I want you to
come with me to the top of Appenfell."

"Whew-w-w! but it's a tremendous long walk, and no one goes up in
winter."

"Never mind, all the more fun and glory, and we shall have the whole day
before us.  I've been longing to beat that proud old Appenfell for a
long time.  I'm certain we can do it."

"But do you mean that we two should go alone?"

"O, no; we'll ask Flip, to amuse us on the way."

"And may I ask Power?"

"If you like," said Kenrick, who was, I am sorry to say, not a little
jealous of the friendship which had sprung up between Power and Walter.

"And would you mind Daubeny joining us?"

"Not at all; and he's clearly overworking himself.  It'll do him good.
Let me see--you, Power, Flip, Dubbs, and me; that'll be enough, won't
it?"

"Well, I should like to ask Eden."

"Eden!" said Kenrick with the least little touch of contempt in his tone
of voice.

"Poor little fellow," said Walter smiling sadly; "so you, too, despise
him.  No wonder he doesn't get on."

"O! let him come by all means, if you like," said Kenrick.

"Thanks, Ken--but now I come to think of it, it's too far for him.
Never mind; let's go before dinner, and order some sandwiches for
to-morrow, and forage generally, at Cole's."

Power and Daubeny gladly consented to join the excursion.  At tea,
Walter asked Henderson if he'd come with them, and he, being just then
in a phase of nonsense which made him speak of everything in a manner
intended to be Homeric, answered with oracular gravity--

  "Him addressed in reply the laughter-loving son of Hender:
  Thou askest me, oh Evides, like to the immortals,
  Whether thee I will accompany, and the much-enduring Dubbs,
  And the counsellor Power, and the revered ox-eyed Kenrick,
  To the tops of thousand-crested many-fountained Appenfell."

"Grotesque idiot," said Kenrick, laughing; "cease this weak, washy,
everlasting flood of twaddle, and tell us whether you'll come or no."

  "Him sternly eyeing, addressed in reply the mighty Henderides,
  Heavy with tea, with the eyes of a dog, and the heart of a reindeer!
  What word has escaped thee, the barrier of thy teeth?
  Contrary to right, not according to right, hast thou spoken."

"For goodness' sake shut up before you've driven us stark raving mad,"
said Walter, putting his hand over Henderson's lips.  "Now, yes or no;
will you come?"

"Thee will I accompany--" said Henderson, struggling to get clear of
Walter, "to many-fountained Appenfell--"

"Hurrah! that'll do.  We have got an answer out of you at last; and now
go on spouting the whole Iliad if you like."

Full of spirits they started after breakfast the next morning, and as
they climbed higher and higher up the steep mountainside, the keen air
exhilarated them, and showed, as through a crystal glass, the exceeding
glory of the hills flung on every side around them, and the broad living
sparkle of the sea caught here and there in glimpses between the nearer
peaks.  Walter, Henderson, and Kenrick, were in front, while at some
distance behind them, Power helped on Daubeny, who soon showed signs of
fatigue.

"Look at that pappy fellow, Evson," said Daubeny, sighing; "how he is
bounding along in front.  How active he is."

"You seem out of spirits," said Power kindly; "what's the matter?"

"Oh, nothing.  A little tired, that's all."

"You're surely not fretting about having lost the head place."

"Oh, no.  `Palmam qui meruit ferat.'  As Robertson said the other day in
his odd, fantastic way of expressing his thoughts--`In the amber of duty
you must not always expect to find the curious grub success.'"

"Depend upon it, you'd be higher if you worked less, my dear fellow.
Let me persuade you--don't work for examination any more."

"You all mistake me.  It's not for the _place_ that I work, but because
I want to _know_, to _learn_; not to grow up quite stupid and
empty-headed as I otherwise should do."

"What a love for work you have, Daubeny."

"Yes, I have now; but do you know it really wasn't natural to me.  As a
child, I used to be idle and get on very badly, and it used to vex my
poor father, who was then living, very much.  Well, one day, not long
before he died, I had been very obstinate, and would learn nothing.  He
didn't say much, but in the afternoon, when we were taking a walk, we
passed an old barn, and on the thatched roof was a lot of grass and
stonecrop.  He plucked a handful, and showed me how rank and useless it
was, and then, resting his hand upon my head, he told me that it was the
type of an idle, useless man--`grass upon the housetops, withered before
it groweth up, wherewith the mower filleth not his hand, nor he that
gathereth the sheaves his bosom.'  Somehow, the circumstance took hold
of my imagination; it was the last scene with my poor father which I
vividly remember.  I have never been idle since then."

Power mused a little, and then said--"But, dear Dubbs, you'll make your
brain heavy by the time examination begins; you won't be able to do
yourself justice."

He did not answer; but a weary look, which Power had often observed,
with anxiety, came over his face.

"I'm afraid I must turn back, Power," he said; "I'm quite tired--done
up."

"I've been thinking so, too.  Let me turn back with you."

"No, no!  I won't spoil your day's excursion.  Let me go alone."

"Hi! you fellows," said Power, shouting to the three in front.  They
were too far in advance to hear him, so he told Daubeny to sit down
while he overtook them, and asked if any of them would prefer to turn
back.

"Dubbs is too tired to go any farther," he said, when he reached them,
breathless with his run.  "I don't think he's very well, and so I'll
just go back with him."

"O, no; you really mustn't, _I_ will," said each of the other three
almost in a breath.  Every one of the four was most anxious to get on,
and reach the top of Appenfell, which was considered a very great feat
among the boys even in summer, as the climb was dangerous and severe;
and yet each generously wished to undergo the self-denial of turning
back.  As their wills were about equally strong, it would have ended in
_all_ of them accompanying Daubeny, had he not, when they reached him,
positively refused to turn on such conditions, and suggested that they
should decide it by drawing lots.

Power wrote the names on slips of paper, and Walter drew one at hazard.
The lot fell on Henderson, so he at once took Daubeny's arm, relieving
his disappointment by turning round, shaking his fist at the top of
Appenfell, and saying, "You be hanged!  I wish you were rolled out
_quite flat_ and planted with potatoes!"

"There," said Power laughing, "I should think that was about the
grossest indignity the Genius of Appenfell ever had offered to him; so
now you've had your revenge, take care of Dubbs.  Good-bye."

"How very kind it is of you to come with me, Flip," said Daubeny; "I
don't think I could manage to get home without your help; but I'm quite
vexed to drag you back.  Good-bye, you fellows."

Walter, Power, and Kenrick, found that to reach the cairn on the top of
Appenfell taxed all their strength.  The mountain seemed to heave before
them a succession of huge shoulders, and each one that they surmounted
showed them only fresh steeps to climb.  At last, they reached the piled
confusion of rocks, painted with every gorgeous and brilliant colour by
emerald moss and golden lichen, which marked the approach to the summit;
and Walter, who was a long way the first to get to the top, shouted to
encourage the other two, and, after resting a few minutes, clambered
down to assist their progress.  Being accustomed to the hills, he was
far less tired than they were, and could give them very efficient help.

At the top they rested for some time, eating their scanty lunch,
chatting, and enjoying the matchless splendour of the prospect which
stretched in a cloudless expanse before them on every side.

"Power," said Walter, in a pause of their talk, "I've long been meaning
to ask you a favour."

"It's granted, then," said Power, "if _you_ ask it, Walter."

"I'm not so sure; it's a very serious favour, and it isn't for myself;
moreover, it's very cool."

"The greater it is, the more I shall know that you trust my friendship,
Walter; and, if it's cool, it suits the time and place."

"Yet, I bet you that you'll hesitate when I propose it."

"Well, out with it; you make me curious."

"It is that you'd give little Eden the run of your study."

"Little Eden the run of my study!  O, yes, if you wish it," said Power,
not liking to object after what he had said, but flushing up a little,
involuntarily.  It was indeed a great favour to ask.  Power's study was
a perfect sanctum; he had furnished it with such rare good taste, that,
when you entered, your eye was attracted by some pretty print or neat
contrivance wherever you looked.  It was Power's peculiar pride and
pleasure to beautify his little room, and to sit there with any one whom
he liked; but to give up his privacy, and let a little scapegrace like
Eden have the free run of it, was a proposition which took him by
surprise.  Yet it was a good deal for Power's own sake that Walter had
ventured to ask it.  Power's great fault was his over-refinement; the
fastidiousness which marred his proper influence, made him unpopular
with many boys, and shut him up in a reserved and introspective habit of
mind.  By a kind of instinct, Walter felt that it would be good to
disturb this epicurean indifference to the general interests of the
school, and the kind of intellectualism which weakened the character of
this attractive and affectionate, yet shy and self-involved boy.  "Ah, I
see," said Walter archly; "you're as bad as Kenrick; you Priests and
Levites won't touch my poor little wounded traveller."

"But I don't see what I could do for him," said Power; "I shouldn't know
what to talk to him about."

"O, yes, you would; you don't know how his gratitude would pay you for
the least interest shown in him.  He's been so shamefully bullied, poor
little chap, I hardly like to tell you even the things that that big
brute Harpour has made him do.  He came here bright and neat, and merry
and innocent; and now--" He would not finish the sentence, and his voice
faltered; but checking himself, he added, more calmly--"This, remember,
has been done to the poor little fellow _here_, at Saint Winifred's; and
when I remember what I might have been myself by this time, but for--but
for one or two friends, my heart quite bleeds for him.  Anyhow, I think
one ought to do what one can for him.  I wish I'd a study, I know, and
he shouldn't be the only little fellow who should share it.  I've got so
much good from being able to learn my own lessons in Percival's room,
that I'd give anything to be able to do as much for some one else."

"He shall come, Walter," said Power, "with all my heart.  I'll ask him
directly we get back to Saint Winifred's."

"Will you?  I thank you.  That _is_ good of you; I'm sure you won't be
sorry in the long-run."

Power and Kenrick were both thinking that this new friend of theirs,
though he had been so short a time at Saint Winifred's, was teaching
them some valuable lessons.  Neither of them had previously recognised
the truth which Walter seemed to feel so strongly, that they were to
some extent directly responsible for the opportunities which they lost
of helping and strengthening the boys around them.  Neither of them had
ever done anything, worth speaking of, to lighten the heavy burden laid
on some of the little boys at Saint Winifred's; and now they heard
Walter talking with something like remorse about a child who had no
special claim whatever on his kindness, but whom he felt that he might
more efficiently have rescued from evil associates, evil words, evil
ways, and all the heart-misery they cannot fail to bring.  The sense of
a new mission, a neglected duty, dawned upon them both.

They sat for a time silent, and then Kenrick, shaking off his reverie,
pointed down the hill and said--

"Do look at those magnificent clouds; how they come surging up the hill
in huge curving masses."

"Yes," said Power; "doesn't it look like a grand charge of giant
cavalry?  Why, Walter, my dear fellow, how frightened you look."

"Well, no," said Walter, "not frightened.  But I say, you two, supposing
those clouds which have gathered so suddenly don't clear away, do you
think that you could find your way down the hill?"

"I don't know; I almost think so," said Kenrick dubiously.

"Ah, Ken, I suspect you haven't had as much experience of mountain-mists
as I have.  We _may_ find our way somehow; but--"

"You mean," said Power, with strange calmness, "that there are lots of
precipices about, and that shepherds have several times been lost on
these hills?"

"Let's hope that the mist will clear away, then," said Walter; "anyhow,
let's get on the grass, and off these awkward boulders, before we are
surrounded."

"By all means," said Kenrick; "charges of cloud-cavalry are all very
well in their way; but--"



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

IN THE CLOUDS.

The three boys scrambled with all their speed, Walter helping the other
two down the vast primeval heap of many-tinted rock-fragments which form
the huge summit of Appenfell, and found themselves again on the short
slippery grass, hardened with recent frosts, that barely covered the
wave-like sweep of the hill-side.  Meanwhile, the vast dense masses of
white cloud gathered below them, resting here and there in the hollows
of the mountains like gigantic walls and bastions, and leaning against
the abrupter face of the precipice in one great unbroken barrier of
opaque, immaculate, impenetrable pearl.  As you looked upon it the chief
impression it gave you was one of immense thickness and crushing weight.
It seemed so compressed and impermeable that one could not fancy how
even a thunderbolt could shatter it, or the wildest blast of any
hurricane dissipate its enormous depth.  But as yet it had not enveloped
the peaks themselves.  On them the sun yet shone, and where the boys
stood they were still bathed in the keen yet blue and sunny air,
islanded far up above the noiseless billows of surging cloud.

This was not for long.  Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the clouds
stole upon them--reached out white arms and enfolded them in sudden
whirls of thin and smoke-like mist; eddied over their heads and round
their feet; swathed them at last as in a funeral pall, blotting from
their sight every object save wreaths of dank vapour, rendering wholly
uncertain the direction in which they were moving, and giving a sense of
doubt and danger to every step they took.  Kenrick had only told the
master who had given them leave of absence from dinner that they meant
to go a long walk.  He had not mentioned Appenfell, not from any want of
straightforwardness, but because they thought that it might sound like a
vainglorious attempt, and they did not want to talk about it until they
had really accomplished it.  But in truth if they had mentioned this as
their destination, no wise master would have given them permission to
go, unless they promised to be accompanied by a guide; for the ascent of
Appenfell, dangerous even in summer to all but those who well knew the
features of the mountain, became in winter a perilous and foolhardy
attempt.  The boys themselves, when they started on their excursion, had
no conception of the amount or extent of the risk they ran.  Seeing that
the morning gave promises of a bright and clear day, they had never
thought of taking into account the possibility of mists and storms.

The position in which they now found themselves was enough to make a
stout heart quail.  By this time they were hopelessly enveloped in
palpable clouds, and could not see the largest objects a yard before
them.  In fact, even to see each other they had to keep closely side by
side; for once, when Kenrick had separated from them for a little
distance, it was only by the sound of his shouts that they found him
again.  After this, they crept on in perfect silence, each trying to
conceal from the other the terror which lay like frost on his own
spirits; unsuccessfully, for the tremulous sound which the quick
palpitation of their hearts gave to their breathing showed plainly
enough that all three of them recognised the frightfulness of their
danger.

Appenfell was one of those mountains, not unfrequent, which is on one
side abrupt and bounded by a wall of almost fathomless precipice, and on
the other descends to the plain in a cataract of billowy undulations.
It had one feature which, although peculiar, is by no means
unprecedented.  At one point, where the huge rock wall towers up from
the ghastly depth of a broad ravine, there is a lateral ridge--not
unlike the Mickeldore of Scawfell Pikes--running right across the
valley, and connecting Appenfell with Bardlyn, another hill of much
lower elevation, towards which this ridge runs down with a long but
gradual slope.  This edge was significantly called the Razor, and it was
so narrow that it would barely admit the passage of a single person
along its summit.  It was occasionally passed by a few shepherds,
accustomed from earliest childhood to the hills, but no ordinary
traveller ever dreamed of braving its real dangers, for, even had the
path been broader, the horrible depth of fall on either side was quite
sufficient to render dizzy the steadiest head, and if a false step were
taken, the result, to an absolute certainty, was frightful death.  For
so nearly perpendicular were the sides of this curious partition, that
the narrow valley below, offering no temptation to any one to visit it,
had not, within the memory of man, been trodden by any human foot.  To
add to the honour inspired by the Razor, a shepherd had recently fallen
from it in a summer storm; his body had been abandoned as unrecoverable,
and the ravens and wild cats had fed upon him.  Something--a dim gleam
of uncertain white among the rank grass--was yet visible from one point
of the ledge, and the bravest mountaineer shuddered when, looking down
the gloomy chasm, he recognised in that glimpse the mortal remains of a
fellow-man.

"Are you sure that we are on the right path, Walter?" asked Power,
trying to speak as cheerfully and indifferently as he could.

"Certain," said Walter, pulling out of his pocket the little brass
pocket-compass which had been his invariable companion in his rambles at
home, and which he had fortunately brought with him as likely to be
useful in the lonely tracts which surrounded Saint Winifred's.  "The bay
lies due west from here, and I'm sure of the _general_ direction."

"But I think we're keeping too much to the right, Walter," said Kenrick.

"Look here," said Walter, stopping; "the truth is--and we may just as
well be ready for it--that we're between two dangers.  On the right is
Bardlyn rift; on the left we have the sides of Appenfell, and no
precipices, but--"

"I know what you're thinking of--the old mines."

"Yes; that's why I've been keeping to the right.  I think even in this
mist we could hardly go over the rift, for I fancy that we could at
least discover when we were getting close to it; but there are three or
four old mines; we don't knew in the least where they lie exactly, and
one might stumble over one of the shafts in a minute."

"What in the world shall we do?" said Power, stopping, as he realised
the full intensity of peril.  "As it is we can't see where we're going,
and very soon we shall have darkness as well as mist.  Besides, it's so
frightfully cold, now that we are obliged to go slowly."

"Let's stop and consider what we'd best do," said Kenrick.  "Walter,
what do _you_ say?"

"We can only do one of two things.  Either go on, and trust to God's
mercy to keep us safe, or sit still here and hope that the mist may
clear away."

"That last'll never do," answered Kenrick; "I've seen the mist rest on
Appenfell for days and days."

"Besides," said Power, "unless we move on, at all hazards, night will be
on us.  A December night on Appenfell, without food or extra coverings,
and the chance of being kept indefinitely longer--" the sentence ended
in a shudder.

"Yes; I don't know what we should look like in the morning," said
Kenrick.  "Let's move on, at all events; better that than the chance of
being frozen and starved to death."

They moved on again a little way through the clouds with uncertain and
hesitating steps, when suddenly Walter cried out in an agitated voice,
"Stop!  God only knows where we are.  I feel by a kind of instinct that
we're somewhere near the rift.  I don't know what else should make me
tremble all over as I am doing; I seem to _hear_ the rift somehow.  For
God's sake stop.  Just let's sit down a minute till I try something."

"But's it's now nearly four o'clock," said Kenrick in a querulous tone,
as he halted and pulled out his watch, holding it close to his face to
make out the time.  "An hour more and all daylight will be gone, and
with it all chance of being saved.  Surely, we'd better press on.
That's _uncertain_ danger, but to stop is certain--"

"Certain death," whispered Power.

"Just listen then, one second," said Walter, and, disembedding a huge
piece of stone, he rolled it with all his force to their right,
listening with senses acutely sharpened by danger and excitement.  The
stone bounded once, then they heard in their ears a rush, a shuffling of
loose and sliding earth, the whirring sound of a heavy falling body, and
then for several seconds a succession of distant crashes, startling with
fright the rebounding mountain echoes, as the bit of rock whirled over
the rift and was shattered into fragments by being dashed against the
sides of the precipice.

"Good God!" cried Walter, clutching both the boys and dragging them
hurriedly backwards, "we are standing at this moment on the very verge
of the chasm.  It won't do to go on; every step may be death."

A pause of almost unspeakable horror followed his words; after the fall
of the rock had revealed to them how frightful was the peril which they
had escaped, all three of them for a moment felt paralysed in every
limb, and after looking close into each other's faces, blanched white by
a deadly fear, Kenrick and Power sat down in an agony of despair.

"Don't give way, you fellows," said Walter, to whom they both seemed to
look for help; "our only chance is to keep up our hope and spirits.  I
think that, after all, we must just stay here till the mist clears up.
Don't be frightened, Ken," he said, taking the boy's hand; "nothing can
happen to us but what God intends."

"But the night," whispered Kenrick, who was most overpowered of the
three; "fancy a night spent here.  Mist and cold, hunger and dark.  O
this horrible uncertainty and suspense.  O for some light," he cried in
an agony; "I could almost die if we had but light."

"O God, give us light," murmured Walter, echoing the words, and uttering
aloud unconsciously his intense prayer; and then he fell on his knees,
and the others, too, hid their faces in their hands as they stood upon
the bleak mountainside, and prayed to Him Whom they knew to be near
them, though they were there alone, and saw nothing save the ground they
knelt upon, and the thick clammy fog moving slowly around and above them
in aimless and monotonous change.  To their excited imagination that fog
seemed like a living thing; it seemed as though it were actuated with a
cold and deathful determination, and as though it were peopled by a
thousand silent spirits, leaning over them and chilling their hearts as
they shrouded them in the gigantic foldings of their ghostly robes.

And soon, as though their passionate prayer had been heard, and an angel
had been sent to rend the mist, the wind, rushing up from the ravine,
tore for itself a narrow passage--and a gleam of wavering light broke in
upon them through the white folds of that deathful curtain, showing them
the wall of sunken precipice, and the dark outline of Bardlyn hill.  If
this had been a moment in which they could have admired one of Nature's
most awfully majestic sights, they would have gazed with enthusiastic
joy on the diorama of valley and mountain revealed through this mighty
rent in the side of their misty pavilion, filled up by the blue far-off
sky; but at this moment of dominant terror they had no room for any
other thoughts but how to save their lives from the danger that,
surrounded them.

"Light," cried Walter, springing up eagerly; "thank God!  Perhaps the
mist is going to clear away."  But the hope was fallacious, for in the
direction where their path lay all was still dark, and the chilly mist
soon closed again, though not so densely, over the wound which the
breeze from the chasm below them had momentarily made.

"Did you see that we are _close to the Razor_?" said Walter, who alone
of the three maintained his usual courage, because custom had made him
more familiar with the danger of the hills.  "Now, a thought strikes me,
Ken and Power.  If you like we'll make an attempt to cross the Razor.
The only thing will be not to lose one's footing; one can't _miss_ the
way, at any rate, and when once we get to Bardlyn it's as easy to get
down to the road which runs round it to Saint Winifred's as it is to
walk across the school court."

"Cross the Razor?" said Kenrick; "why, none but some few shepherds ever
dare to do that."

"True, but what man has done, man can do.  I'm certain it's our best
chance."

"Not for me;" "Or for me," said the other two.  "Well, look here," said
Walter; "it would be very dangerous of course, but while we talk our
chance of safety lessens.  You two stay here.  I'll try the Razor; if I
get safe across I shall reach Bardlyn village in no time, and there I
could get some men to come and help you over.  Do you mind?  I won't
leave you if you'd rather not."

"Oh, Walter, Walter, don't run the risk," said Power; "it's too awful."

"It's lighter than ever on that side," said Walter; "I'm not a bit
afraid.  I'm certain we could not get safe down, the other way, and we
should die of exposure if we spent the night here.  Remember, we've only
had one or two sandwiches apiece.  It's the last chance."

"Oh, no, you really shan't, dear Walter.  You don't know how terrific
the Razor is.  I've often heard men say that they wouldn't cross it for
a bag of gold," said Power.

"Don't hinder me, Power; I've made up my mind.  Good-bye, Power;
good-bye, Ken," he said, wringing their hands hard.  "If I get safe
across the Razor, I shan't be more than an hour and a half at the very
latest before I stand here with you again, bringing help.  Good-bye; God
bless you both.  Pray for me, but don't fear."

So saying, Walter tore himself away from them, and with an awful sinking
at heart they saw him pass through the spot where the mist was thinnest,
and plant a steady step on the commencement of the Razor path.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

ON THE RAZOR.

The brave boy knew well that the fate of the others, as well as his own,
hung on his coolness and steadiness, and stopping for one moment to see
that he would have light enough to make sure of his footing all along
the path, he turned round, shouted a few cheery words to his two
friends, and stepped boldly on the ledge.

He was accustomed to giddy heights, and his head had never turned as he
looked down the cliffs at Saint Winifred's, or the valleys at home.  But
his heart began to beat very fast with the painful sense that every step
which he accomplished was dangerous, and that the nerve which would
readily have borne him through a brief effort would here have to be
sustained for fully twenty minutes, which would be the least possible
time in which he could make the transit.  The loneliness, too, was
frightful; in three minutes he was out of sight of his friends; and to
be there without a companion, in the very heart of the mighty mountains,
traversing this haunted and terrible path, with not an eye to see him if
he should slip and be dashed to atoms on the unconscious rocks--this
thought almost overmastered him, unmanned him, filled him with a weird
sense of indescribable horror.  He battled against it with all his
might, but it came on him like a foul harpy again and again, sickening
his whole soul, making his forehead glisten with the damp dews of
anticipated death.  At last he came to a stunted willow which had
twisted its dry roots into the thin soil, and, clinging to the stem of
it with both arms, he was forced to stop and close his eyes, and praying
for God's help, he summoned together all the faculties of his soul, and
buffeted this ghastly intruder away so thoroughly that it did not again
return.  As a man might shoot a vulture, and look at it lying dead at
his feet, so with the arrow of a heartfelt supplication Walter slew the
hideous imagination that had been flapping its wings over him; nor did
he stir again till he was sure that it had lost its power.  And then,
opening his eyes, he bore steadily and cautiously on, till all of a
sudden, in the fast fading sunlight, something glinted white in the
valley beneath his feet.  In a moment it flashed upon him that this was
the unreached skeleton a thousand feet below, the sight of which
imparted a superstitious horror to the Devil's Way, as the peasants
called the narrow path along the Razor.  Nor was this all: for some rags
of the man's dress, torn off by his headlong fall, still fluttered on a
stump of blackthorn not thirty feet below.  And now, again, the poor
boy's heart quailed with an uncontrollable emotion of physical and
mental fear.  For a moment he tottered, every nerve was loosened, his
legs bent under him, and, dropping down on his knees, he clutched the
ground with both hands.  It was just one of those swift spasms of
emotion on which, in moments of peril, the crisis usually depends.  Had
Walter's will been weak, or his conscience a guilty one, or his strength
feeble, or his body unstrung by ill-health, he would have succumbed to
the sudden terror, and, fainting first, would the next instant have
rolled over the edge to sudden and inevitable death.

All these results were written before him as with fire, as he shut his
eyes and clung with tenacious grasp to the earth.  But happily his mind
was strong, his conscience stainless, his powers vigorous, his body in
pure health, and in a few moments, which seemed to him an age, he had
recovered his presence of mind by one of those noble efforts which the
will is ever ready to make for those who train it right.  Before he
opened his eyes he had braced himself into a thorough strength, and once
more commending himself to God, he rose firm and cool to continue his
journey, averting his glance from the spectacle of death which gleamed
below.

He found that his best plan was to fix his eyes rigidly on the path, and
not suffer them to swerve for a moment to either side.  Whenever he did
so, the wavering sensation came over him again, but so long as he trod
carefully and never let his eyes wander off the place of his footsteps,
he found that he got along securely and even swiftly.  He had only one
more difficulty with which to contend.  In one place the sort of path
which the Razor presented was broken and crumbled away, and here
Walter's heart again sank despairingly within him, as his attention was
suddenly arrested by the additional and unexpected peril.  But to turn
back was now out of the question, and as it seemed impossible to walk
for these few feet, he again knelt down, and crawled steadily along on
hands and knees, about the length of two strides, until the path was
hard and firm enough for him to proceed as before.  The end was now
accomplished; in five minutes more he sprang on the broad firm side of
Bardlyn hill, and shouting aloud to relieve his spirits from their
tumult of joy and thankfulness, he raced down Bardlyn, gained very
quickly the mountain road, and ran at the top of his speed till, just as
the sun was setting, he reached the group of cottages which took their
name from the hill on which they stood.

Knocking at the first cottage, he inquired for some guide or shepherd
who was thoroughly acquainted with all the mountain paths, and was
directed to the house of a man named Giles, who had been occupied for
years among the neighbouring sheep-walks.

Giles listened to his story with open eyes.  "Thee bi'st coom over t'
Razor along Devil's Way," said he in amazement; "then thee bi'st just
the plookiest young chap I've seen for many a day."

"We must get back over it, too, to reach them," said Walter.

"O ay; I be'ant afear'd of t' Razor; I've crossed him many a time, and
I'll take a bit rope over and help they other chaps.  We'll take a
lantern, too.  Don't you be afeared, sir, we'll get 'em all right," he
said, observing how anxious and excited Walter seemed to be.

"Come, then," said Walter, "quick, quick!  I promised to come back to
them at once.  You shall be well paid for your trouble."

"Tut, tut," said the man, "the pay's naught.  Why, I'd come if it were
only a dumb sheep in danger, let alone a brace of lads like you."

They set off with a lantern, a rope, and some food, and Giles was
delighted at the quick and elastic step of the young mountaineer.  The
lantern they soon extinguished.  It was not needed; for though the sun
had now set, a glorious full moon had begun to pour her broad flood of
silver radiance over the gloomy hills by the time they had reached
Bardlyn rift.

"There ain't no call for _you_ to cross again, sir," said the man; "I'll
just go over by myself, and look after the young gentlemen."

"O, let me come, I must come!" said Walter.  "The mist's quite off it
now, so that it's just as easy under this moonlight as when I came; and,
besides, if you take a coil of the rope in your hand I'll take hold of
the other end."

"Well, you're the right sort, and no mistake," said the man.  "God bless
you for a brave young heart!  And, truth tell, I'll be very glad to have
ye with me, for they do say as how poor old Waul's ghost haunts about
here, and it 'ud be fearsome at night.  I know that there's One as keeps
them as has a good conscience, but yet I'll be glad to have ye all the
same."

The moonlight flung on every side the mysterious and gigantic shadows of
rocks and hills, seeming to glimmer with a ghastly hue as it fell and
struggled into the black depths of the untrodden rift; but habit made
the Devil's Way seem nothing to the mountain shepherd, and he protected
Walter (who twined round his wrist one end of the rope) from the danger
of stumbling, as effectually as Walter protected him from all ghostly
fears.  When they reached the broken piece, the only difference he made
was to walk with great caution, and plant his feet deeply into the
earth, bidding Walter follow in the traces he made, and supporting him
firmly with his hand.  They got across in much less time than Walter had
occupied in his first passage, and as they reached Appenfell they saw
the two boys standing dimly on the verge of the moonlit mist, while all
below them the rest of Appenfell was still wrapt, as in some great
cerecloth, by the snowy folds of seething cloud.

"Good heavens! but who are those?" said Walter, pointing to two shadowy
and gigantic figures which also faced them.  "O, _who_ are those?" he
asked wildly, and in such alarm that if the shepherd had not seized him
firmly he must have fallen.

"There, there--don't be frighted," said Giles; "those be'ant no ghosts,
but they be just our own shadows on the mist.  It's a queer thing, but
I've seen it often and often on these hills, and some scholards have
told me as how that kind of thing be'ant uncommon on mountains."

"What a goose I was to be so horribly frightened," said Walter; "but I
didn't know that there were any spectres of that sort on Appenfell.  All
right, Giles; go on."

Till Walter and the shepherd had taken their last step from the Devil's
Way on to the side of Appenfell, the boys stood watching them in intense
silence; but no sooner were they safe, than Power and Kenrick ran up to
Walter, poured out their eager thanks, and pressed his hands in all the
fervour of affectionate gratitude.  They felt that his courage and
readiness had, at the risk of his own life, saved them from such a
danger as they had never in their lives experienced before.  Already
they were suffering with hunger and shuddering with the December air,
their limbs felt quite benumbed, their teeth were chattering
lugubriously, and their faces were blue and pinched with cold.  They
eagerly devoured the brown bread and potato-cake which the man had
brought, and let him and Walter chafe a little life into their
shivering-bodies.  By this time fear was sufficiently removed to enable
them to feel some sort of appreciation of the wild beauty of the scene,
as the moonlight pierced on their left the flitting scuds of restless
mist, and on their right fell softly over Bardlyn hill, making a weird
contrast between the tender brightness of the places where it fell, and
the pitchy gloom that hid the depths of the rift, and brooded in those
undefined hollows over which the precipices leaned.

To return down Appenfell was (the experienced shepherd informed them)
quite hopeless.  In such a mist as that, which might last for an
indefinite time, even _he_ would be totally unable to find his way.  But
now that they were warm and satisfied with food, and confident of
safety, they even enjoyed the feeling of adventure when Giles tied them
together for their return across the Devil's Way.  First he tied the
rope round his own waist, then round Power's and Kenrick's, and finally,
as there was not enough left to go round Walter's waist, he tied the end
round his right arm.  Thus fastened, all danger was tenfold diminished,
if not wholly removed, and the two unaccustomed boys felt a happy
reliance on the nerve and experience of Giles and Walter, who were in
front and rear.  It was a scene which they never forgot, as the four
went step by step through the moonlight along the horrible ledge, safe
only in each other's help, and awe-struck at their position, not daring
to glance aside or to watch the colossal grandeur of their own shadows
as they were flung here and there against some protruding rock.  Power
was next to Walter, and when they reached the spot beneath which the
whiteness glinted and the rags fluttered in the wind, Walter, in spite
of himself, could not help glancing down, and whispering "Look!" in a
voice of awe.  Power unhappily did look, and as all the boys at Saint
Winifred's were familiar with the story of the shepherd's fate, and had
even known the man himself, Power at once was seized with the same
nervous horror which had agitated Walter--grew dizzy, stumbled, and
slipped down, jerking Kenrick to his knees by the sudden strain of the
rope.  Happily the rope checked Power's fall, and Kenrick's scream of
horror startled Giles, who, without losing his presence of mind,
instantly seized Kenrick with an arm that seemed as strong and
inflexible as if it had been hammered out of iron, while at the same
moment Walter, conscious of his rashness, clutched hold of Power's hand
and raised him up.  No word was spoken, but after this the boys kept
close to their guides, who were ready to grasp them tight at the first
indication of an uneven footstep, and who almost lifted them bodily over
every more difficult or slippery part.  The time seemed very long to
them, but at last they had all reached Bardlyn hill in safety, and
placed the last step they ever meant to place on the narrow and dizzy
passage of the Razor's edge.

And stopping there they looked back at the dangers they had passed--at
Appenfell piled up to heaven with white clouds; at Bardlyn rift looming
in black abysses beneath them; at the thin broken line of the Devil's
Way.  They looked:

  "As a man with difficult short breath,
  Forespent with toiling, 'scaped from sea to shore
  Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands
  At gaze."

They stood silent till Power said, in ejaculations of intense emphasis,
"Thank God!"--and then pointing downwards with a shudder, "Oh, Walter!"
and then once again, "Thank God!"--which Walter and Kenrick echoed; and
then they passed on without another word.  But those two words, so
uttered, were enough.

The man, who was more than repaid by the sense that he had rendered them
a most important aid, and who had been greatly fascinated by their
_manly_ bearing, entirely refused to take any money in payment for what
he had done.

"Nay, nay," he said; "we poor folks are proud too, and I won't have none
of your money, young gentlemen.  But let me tell you that you've had a
very narrow escape of your lives out there, and I don't doubt you'll
thank the good God for it with all your hearts this night; and if you'll
just say a prayer for old Giles, too, he'll vally it more than all your
monies.  So now, good-night to you, young gentlemen, for you know your
way now easy enough.  And if ever you come this way again, maybe you'll
come in and have a chat for remembrance sake."

"Thank you, Giles, that we will," said the boys.

"And since you won't take any money you'll let me give you this," said
Walter.  "You _must_ let me give you this; it's not worth much, but
it'll show you that Walter Evson didn't forget the good turn you did
us."  And he forced on the old shepherd's acceptance a handsome knife,
with several strong blades, which he happened to have in his pocket;
while Power and Kenrick, after a rapid whispered consultation, promised
to bring him in a few days a first-rate plaid to serve him as a slight
reminder of their gratitude for his ready kindness.  Then they all shook
hands with many thanks, and the three boys, eager to find sympathy in
their perils and deliverance, hastened to Saint Winifred's, which they
reached at eight o'clock, just when their absence was beginning to cause
the most serious anxiety.

They arrived at the arched gateway as the boys were pouring out of
evening chapel, and as every one was doubtfully wondering what had
become of them, and whether they had encountered any serious mishap.
When the Famulus admitted them, the fellows thronged round them in
crowds, pouring into their ears a succession of eager questions.  The
tale of Walter's daring act flew like wildfire through the school, and
if any one still retained against him a particle of ill-feeling, or
looked on his character with suspicion, it was this evening replaced by
the conviction that there was no more noble or gallant boy than Walter
among them, and that if any equalled him in merit it was one of those
whose intimate friendship for him had on this day been deepened by the
grateful knowledge that to him, in all human probability, they owed
their preservation from an imminent and overpowering peril.  Even
Somers, in honour of whose academic laurel the whole holiday had been
given, and who that evening returned from Cambridge, was less of a hero
than either of the three who had thus climbed the peak of Appenfell and
braved so serious an adventure; far less crowned with schoolboy
admiration than the young boy who had thrice crossed and recrossed the
Devil's Way, and who had crossed it first unaided and with full
knowledge of its horrors, while the light of winter evening was dying
away, and the hills around him reeked like a witch's caldron with wintry
mists.

Walter, grateful as he was for each pat on the back and warm pressure of
the hand, which told him how thoroughly and joyously his doings were
appreciated, was not intoxicated by the enthusiasm of this boyish
ovation.  It was indeed a proud thing to stand among those four hundred
schoolfellows, the observed of all observers, greeted on every side by
happy, smiling, admiring faces, with every one pressing forward to give
him a friendly grasp, every one anxious to claim or to form his
acquaintance, and many addressing him with the kindliest greetings whose
very faces he hardly knew; but the deeper and more silent gratitude of
his chosen friends, and the manly sense of something bravely and rightly
done, was more to him than this.  Yet this was something very sweet.
When the admiration of boys is fairly kindled it is the brightest, the
most genial, the most generously hearty in the world.  Few succeed in
winning it; but he who has been a hero to others in manhood only, has
had but a partial taste of the rich triumph experienced by him who has
had the happiness in boyhood of being a hero among boys.

Here let me say how one or two people noticed Walter when first they saw
him that evening.

While numbers of boys were shaking hands with him, whom he hardly saw or
recognised in the crowd by the mingled moonlight and lamplight that
streamed over the court where they stood, Walter felt one squeeze that
he recognised and valued.  Looking among the numerous faces, he saw that
it was Henderson who was greeting him without a word.  No nonsense or
joke this time, and Walter noticed that the boy's lips were trembling
with emotion, and that there was a light as of tears in his
laughter-loving eyes.

"Ah, Henderson!" said Walter, in that tone of real regard and pleasure
which is the truest sign and pledge of friendship, and which no art can
counterfeit, "I'm so glad to see you again: how did you and Dubbs get
on?"

"All right, Walter," said Henderson; "but he's gone to bed with a bad
headache.  Come in and see him before you go to bed.  I know he'd like
to say good-night."

"Well done.  Evson--well done indeed," was the remark of Somers, as he
noticed Walter for the first time since the scene of the private room.

"Excellent, my gallant little Walter," said Mr Percival, as he passed
by.  Mr Paton, who was with him, _said_ nothing, but Walter knew all
that he would have expressed when he caught his quiet approving smile,
and felt his hand rest for a moment, as with the touch of Christian
blessing, on his head.

It is happiness at all times to be loved, and to deserve the love; but
happiest of all to enjoy it after sorrow and sin.  But we must escape
from this ordeal of prosperity, of flattering words and intoxicating
fumes of praise, as soon as we can.  Who would not soon be enervated in
that tropical and luxurious atmosphere?  If it be dangerous, happily it
is not often that he or we shall breathe its heavy sweetness, but far
other are the dangers we shall mostly undergo.

"Dr Lane wants you," said the Famulus, just in time to save the tired
boys from their remorseless questioners.  They _went_ at once to the
headmaster's house.  He received them with a stately yet sincere
kindness; questioned them on the occurrences of the day; warned them for
the future against excursions so liable to accident as the winter ascent
of Appenfell; and then spoke a few friendly words to each of them.  For
both Kenrick and Power he had a strong personal regard, and for the
latter especially a feeling closely akin to friendship and affection.
After they were gone he kept Walter behind, and said, "I am indeed most
sincerely rejoiced, Evson, to meet you again under circumstances so
widely different from those in which I saw you last.  I have heard for
some time past how greatly you have improved, and how admirably you are
now doing.  I am glad to have the opportunity of assuring you myself how
entirely you have succeeded in winning back my approbation and esteem."
Walter attended with a glistening eye, and the master shook hands with
him as he bowed and silently withdrew.

"Tea has been ordered for you in Master Power's study," said the
footman, as they left the master's house.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE GOOD RESOLVE.

  "Am I my brother's keeper?"

  Genesis chapter 4, verse 9.

"Let's come and see Dubbs before tea," said Walter, on rejoining the
other two.  "Henderson told me he was ill in bed, poor fellow."

They went at once to the cottage, detached from the rest of the school
buildings, to which all invalids were removed, and they were allowed to
go to Daubeny's room; but although he was expecting their visit he had
fallen asleep.  They noticed a worn and weary expression upon his
countenance, but it was pleasant to look at him; for although he was a
very ordinary-looking boy, with somewhat heavy features, yet whatever
beauty can be infused into any face by honesty of purpose and innocence
of heart, was to be found in his, and you could not speak to Daubeny for
five minutes without being attracted by the sense that you were talking
to one whose character was singularly free from falsehood or vanity, and
singularly unstained by evil thoughts.

"There lies one of the best and worthiest fellows in the school,"
whispered Power, as he raised the candle to look at him.

Low as he had spoken, the sound awoke the sleeper.  He opened his eyes
dreamily at first, but with full recognition afterwards, and said, "O,
you fellows, I'm so delighted to set you; when I saw Henderson last, he
told me that you hadn't come back, and that people were beginning to
fear some accident; and I suppose that's the reason why I've been
dreaming so uneasily, and fancying that I saw you tumbling down the
rift, and all kinds of things."

"Well, we were very near it, Dubbs, but, thanks to Walter, we escaped
all right," said Power.

Daubeny looked up inquiringly.  "We must tell you all about it
to-morrow," said Power.  "How are you feeling?"

"O, I don't know; not very well, but it's no matter; I daresay I shall
be all right soon."

"Hush, you young gentlemen," said the nurse; "this'll never do; you
oughtn't to have awoke Master Daubeny just as he was sleeping so nice."

"Very sorry, nurse; good-night, Dubbs; hope you'll be all right
to-morrow," said they, and then adjourned to Power's study.

The gas was lighted in the pretty little room, and the matron, regarding
them as heroes, had sent them a very tempting tea.  They ate it almost
in silence, for they were quite tired out.  It seemed an age since they
had started in the morning with Henderson and Daubeny.  Directly tea was
finished, Kenrick, exhausted with fatigue and excitement, fell asleep in
his chair, with his head thrown back and his lips parted.

"There, I think that's a sign that we ought to be going to bed," said
Walter, laughing as he pointed at him.

"O no," said Power, "not yet; it's so jolly sitting here; don't wake
him, but come and draw your chair next to mine by the fire and have a
chat."

Walter obeyed the invitation, and for a few minutes they both sat gazing
into the fire, reading faces in the embers, and pursuing their own
thoughts.  Each of them was happy in the other's presence; and Walter,
though more than a year Power's junior, and far below him in the school,
was delighted with the sense of fully possessing, in the friendship of
this most promising and gifted boy, a treasure which any one in the
world might well have envied him.

"It's been a strange day, hasn't it, Walter?" said Power at last, laying
his hand on Walter's, and looking at him.  "I shall never forget it; you
have thrown a new light on one's time here."

"Have I, Power?  How?  I didn't know it."

"Why, on the top of Appenfell there, you opened my eyes to the fact that
I've been living here a very selfish life.  I know that I get the credit
of being very conceited and exclusive, and all that sort of thing; but
being naturally shy, I thought it better to keep rather aloof from all
but the very few towards whom I felt at all drawn.  I see now," he said
sadly, "that at the bottom this was mainly selfishness.  Why, Walter,
all the time I've been here, I haven't done as much for any single boy
as you, a new fellow, have done for little Eden this one half-year.  But
there's time to do better yet; and by God's help I'll try.  I'll give
Eden the run of my study to-morrow; and as there's plenty of room, I'll
look out for some other little chap who requires a refuge for the
destitute."

"Thank you, for Eden's sake," said Walter; "I'm sure you'll soon begin
to like him, if he gets at home with you."

"But that's the worst of it," continued Power; "so few ever do get at
home with me.  I suppose my manner's awkward--or something; but I'd give
anything to make fellows friendly in five minutes as you do.  How do you
manage it?"

"I really don't know; I never think about my own manner or anything
else.  I suppose if one feels the least interest in any fellow, that he
will probably feel some interest in me; and so, somehow, I'm on the best
terms with all I care to know."

"Well, Ken and I had a long talk after you left us, to cross the Devil's
Way; and I hope that the memory of that may make us three friends firm
and fast, tender and true, as long as we live.  We were in a horrible
fright about you, and I suppose that, joined to our own danger, gave a
solemn cast to our conversation; but we agreed that if we three, as
friends, were united in the silent resolution to help others, and
especially new fellows and young, as much as ever we can, we might do a
great deal.  Tell me, Walter, didn't you find it a very hard thing when
you first came, to keep right among All sorts of temptations?"

"Yes, I did, Power, very hard; and I confess, too, that I sometimes
wondered that not one boy, though there are, as I see now, lots of
thoroughly good and right fellows here, ever said one word, or did one
thing to help me."

"It's all wrong, all wrong," said Power; "but it was you first who made
me see it.  Walter, I shall pray to-night that God, Who has kept us
safe, may teach and help us here to live less for ourselves.  Who knows
what we might not do for the school?"

They both sat for a short time in thoughtful silence.  Boys do not often
talk openly together about prayer or religion, though perhaps they do so
even more than men do in common life.  It is right and well that it
should be so; it would be unnatural and certainly harmful were it
otherwise.  And these boys would probably never have talked to each
other thus, if a common danger had not broken down completely the
barriers of conventional reserve.  Never again from this day did they
allude to this sacred resolution; but they acted up to it, or strove to
do so, not indeed unwaveringly, yet with manful courage, in the strength
of that pure, strong, beautiful unity of heart and purpose which this
day had cemented between them for the rest of their school-life.

"But you seem to aim higher than I do, Power," said Walter; "I certainly
found lots of wickedness going on here, but I never hoped to change
that.  All I hoped to do was to save one or two fellows from being
cruelly bullied and spoiled.  We can't alter the wrong tone which nearly
all the fellows have on some matters."

"Yet," said Power, "there was once a man, a single man, in a great
corrupted host, who stood between the living and the dead, and the
plague was stayed."

"Then rose up Phinees and prayed, and so the plague ceased," whispered
Walter to himself.

All farther conversation was broken by Kenrick, who at this moment awoke
with a great yawn, and looking at his watch, declared that they ought to
have been in bed long ago.

"Good-night, Ken; I hope we shall sleep as sound as you," said Power.

"Walter here will dream of skeletons and moonlit precipices, I bet,"
said Kenrick.

"Not I, Ken; I'm far too tired.  Good-night, both."

Sleepy as they were, _two_ of those boys did not fall asleep that night
till they had poured out with all the passion of full hearts, words of
earnest supplication for the future, of trembling gratitude for the
past.  Two of them--for Kenrick, with all the fine points of his
character, was entirely destitute of any sense of religion, and had in
many points the standard of a schoolboy rather than that of a Christian.

When Walter reached his room, the rest were asleep, but not Eden.  He
sat up in his bed directly Walter entered, and his eyes were sparkling
with animation and pleasure.

"O Walter," he said, "I couldn't go to sleep for joy; Every one's
praising you to the skies.  I am so proud of you, and it is so very good
of you to be friends with me."

"Tush, Arty," said Walter smiling; "one would think I'd done something
great to hear you talk, whereas really it was nothing out of the way.  I
meant to have taken you with us, but I thought it would be too far for
you."

"Taken me with you, and Kenrick, and Power!" said Eden, opening his
large eyes; "how kind of you, Walter! but only fancy Power or Kenrick
walking with me!"

"Why not, Arty?  Power's going to ask you to-morrow to sit in his study,
and learn your lessons there whenever you like."

"Power ask _me_!"

"You!  Why not?"

"Why, he's _such_ a swell."

"Well, then, you must try and be a swell too."

"No, no, Walter; I'm doing ten times as well as I did, but I shall never
be a swell like Power," said the child simply.  "And I know it's all
your doing, not his.  O, how shall I ever learn to thank and pay you for
all you do for me?"

"By being a good and brave little boy, Arty.  Good-night, and God bless
you."

"Good-night, Walter."



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE MARTYR-STUDENT.

  Impositique rogis juvenes ante ora parentum.

  Georgic Four, 1 71.

The days that followed, as the boys resumed the regular routine of
school work, passed by very rapidly and pleasantly--rapidly, because the
long-expected Christmas holidays were approaching; pleasantly, because
the boys were thoroughly occupied in working up the subjects for the
final examination.  For Walter especially, those days were lighted up
with the warm glow of popularity and success.  He was aiming with boyish
eagerness to win one more laurel by gaining the first place in his form,
and whenever he was not taking exercise, either in some school game or
by a ramble along his favourite cliffs and sands, he was generally to be
found hard at work in Mr Percival's rooms, learning the voluntary
repetitions, or going over the trial subjects with Henderson, who had
now quite passed the boundary line which separated the idle from the
industrious boys.

One morning Henderson came in chuckling and laughing to himself.  "So
Power's taking a leaf out of your book, Walter.  I declare he's becoming
a regular sociable grosbeak."

"Sociable grosbeak? what _do_ you mean?"

"O, don't you know that I'm writing a drama called the `Sociable
Grosbeaks,' in which you and Ken and I are introduced?  I didn't mean to
introduce Power, he wasn't gregarious enough; but I _shall_ now, and he
shall prologise."

"But why is he more sociable now?"

"Why, he's actually let one of the--oh, I forgot, I mustn't call names--
well, he's given Eden the run of his study."

"O yes; I knew that," said Walter smiling.  "At first, it was the
funniest thing to see them together, they were both so shy; but after a
day or two they were quite friends, and now you may find Eden perched
any day in Power's window-seat, grinding away at his Greek verbs, and as
happy as a king.  Power helps him in his work, too.  It'll be the making
of the little fellow.  Already he's coming out strong in form."

"Hurrah for the grosbeaks," said Henderson.  "I _did_ mean to chaff
Power about it, but I won't, for it really is very kind of him."

"Yes, and so it is of Percival to let us sit here; but I wish that dear
old Dubbs could be doing trial-work here with us."

"He's very ill," said Henderson, looking serious; "_very_ ill, I'm
afraid.  I saw him to-day for a minute, but he seemed too weak to talk."

"Is he? poor fellow!  I knew that he was staying out, but I'd no notion
that it was anything dangerous."

"I don't know about _dangerous_, but he's quite ill.  Poor Daubeny! you
know how very very patient and good he is, yet even he can't help being
sad at falling ill just now.  You know he was to have been confirmed
to-morrow week, and he's afraid that now he won't be well enough, and
will have to put it off."

"Yes, he's mentioned his confirmation to me several times.  Lots of
fellows are going to be confirmed this time--about a hundred, I
believe--but I don't suppose one of them thinks of it so solemnly as
dear old Dubbs--unless, indeed, it's Power, who also is to be
confirmed."

The confirmation was to take place on a Sunday, and the candidates had
long been engaged in a course of preparation.  The intellectual
preparation was carefully undertaken by Dr Lane and the tutors of the
boys; but this answer of the lips was of comparatively little value,
except in so far as it tended to guide, and solemnise, and concentrate
the preparation of the heart.  In too many this approaching
responsibility produced no visible effect in the tenor of outward life--
they talked and thought as lightly as before, and did not elevate the
low standard of schoolboy morality; but there were _some_ hearts in
which the dreary and formless chaos of passion and neglect then first
felt the divine stirring of the brooding wings, and some spiritual
temples were from that time filled more brightly than before with the
Shechinah of the Presence, and bore, as in golden letters on a new
entablature, the inscription, "Holiness to the Lord."

To this confirmation some of the best boys, like Power and Daubeny, were
looking forward, not with any exaggerated or romantic sentimentality,
but with a deep humility, a manly exultation, an earnest hope.  They
were ready and even anxious to confirm their baptismal vow, and to be
confirmed in the sacred strength which should enable them for the future
more unswervingly to fulfil it.  Of these young hearts the grace of God
took early hold, and in them reason and religion ran together like warp
and woof to frame the web of a sweet and exemplary life.  Bound by the
most solemn and public recognition of, and adhesion to, their Christian
duty, it would be easier for them thenceforth to confess Christ before
men--easier to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with
their God.

"Do you think it would be possible to see Dubbs?  I should so like to
see him," said Walter.

"Let's ask Percival, he's in the next room; and if Dubbs is well enough
I know he'd give anything to see you."

"Please, sir," said Walter, after knocking for admission at the door of
the inner room, "do you think that Henderson and I might go to the
cottage and see Daubeny?"

"I don't know, Walter.  But I want very much to see him myself, if Dr
Keith will let me, so I'll come with you and enquire."

Mr Percival walked with the two boys to the cottage, and, after an
injunction not to stay too long, they were admitted to the sick boy's
bedside.  At first, in the darkened room, they saw nothing; but
Daubeny's voice--weak and low, but very cheerful--at once greeted them.

"O, thank you, sir, for coming to see me.  Hallo!  Walter, and Flip,
too; I'm so glad to see you--you in a sickroom again, Flip!"

"We would have come before if we had known that we might see you," said
the master.  "How are you feeling, my dear boy?"

"Not very well, sir; my head aches sadly sometimes, and I get so
confused."

"Ah, Daubeny, it's the overwork.  Didn't I entreat you, my child, to
slacken the bent bow a little?  You'll be wiser in future, will you
not?"

"In future--O yes, sir; if ever I get well, I'm afraid," he said, with a
faint smile, "that you'll find me stupider than ever."

"Stupid, my boy! none of us ever thought you that.  It is not the stupid
boys that get head removes as you have done the last term or two.  I
should very much enjoy a talk with you, Daubeny, but I mustn't stay now
the doctor says, so I'll leave these two fellows with you, and give them
ten minutes--no longer--to tell you all the school news."

"In future wiser--in future," repeated Daubeny in a low voice to himself
once or twice; "ah, yes, too late now.  I don't think he knows how ill I
am, Walter.  My mother's been sent for; I expect her this evening.  I
shall at least live to see her again."

"O, don't," said Henderson, whose quick and sensitive nature was easily
excited; "don't talk like that, Daubeny; we can't spare you; you must
stay for our sake."

"Dear old fellow," said Daubeny, "you'll have nobody left to chaff; but
you can spare me easily enough," and he laid his fevered hand kindly on
Henderson's, who immediately turned his head and brushed away a tear.
"O, don't cry," he added, in a pained tone of voice, "I never meant to
make you cry.  I'm quite happy, Flip."

"O Daubeny! we can't get on without you!" said Henderson.

"Daubeny!  I hardly know the name," said the sick boy, smiling.  "No,
Flip, let it be Dubbs, as of old--a nice heavy name to suit its owner;
and you gave it me, you know, so it's your property, Flip, and I hardly
know myself by any other now."

"O Dubbs, I've plagued you so," said Henderson, sobbing as if his heart
would break; "I've never done anything but teaze you, and laugh at you,
and you've always been so good and so patient to me.  Do forgive me."

"Pooh!" said Daubeny, trying to rally him.  "Listen to him, Walter;
who'd think that Flip was talking?  Teased me, Flip?" he continued, as
Henderson still sobbed at intervals, "not you!  I always enjoyed your
chaff, and I knew that you liked me at heart.  You've all been very kind
to me.  Walter, I'm so glad I got to know you before I--.  It's so
pleasant to see you here.  Give me your hand; no, Flip, let me keep
yours too; it's getting dark.  I like to have you here.  I feel so
happy.  I wish Power and Ken would come too, that I might see all my
friends."

"Good-night, Daubeny; I can't stay, I mustn't stay," said Henderson;
and, pressing his friend's hand, he hurried out of the room to indulge
in a burst of grief which he could not contain; for, under his trifling
and nonsensical manner, Henderson had a very warm and susceptible and
feeling heart, and though he had always made Daubeny a subject of
ridicule, he never did it with a particle of ill-nature, and felt for
him--dissimilar as their characters were--a most fervent and deep
regard.

"Look after him when I am gone, Walter," said Daubeny sadly, when he had
left the room.  "He is a dear good fellow, but so easily led.  Poor
Flip; he's immensely changed for the better since you came, Walter."

"I have been very fond of him all along," said Walter; "he is so full of
laughter and fun, and he's very good with it all.  But, Dubbs, you are
too desponding; we shall have you here yet for many pleasant days."

"I don't know; perhaps so, if God wills.  I am very young.  I should
like to stay a little longer in the sunshine.  Walter, I should like to
stay with _you_.  I love you more, I think, than any one except Power,"
and as he spoke, a quiet tear rolled slowly down Daubeny's face.

Walter only pressed his hand.  "You can't think how I pitied you,
Walter, in that accident about Paton's manuscript.  When all the fellows
were cutting you, and abusing you, my heart used to bleed for you; you
used to go about looking so miserable, so much as if all your chances of
life were over.  I'm afraid I did very little for you then, but I
_would_ have done anything.  I felt as if I could have given you my
right-hand."

"But, Dubbs, you were the first who spoke to me after that happened, the
first who wasn't ashamed to walk with me.  You can't think how grateful
I felt to you for it; it rolled a cold weight from me.  It was like
stretching a saving hand to one who was drowning; for every one knew how
good a fellow _you_ were, and your countenance was worth everything to
me just then."

"You really felt so?" said Daubeny, brightening up, while a faint flush
rested for a moment on his pale face; "O Walter, it makes me happy to
hear you say so."  There was a silence, and, with Walter's hand still in
his, he fell into a sweet sleep, with a smile upon his face.  When he
was quite asleep, Walter gently removed his hand, smoothed his pillow,
looked affectionately at him for a moment, and stole silently from the
room.

"How did you leave him?" asked Henderson eagerly, when Walter rejoined
him in Mr Percival's room.

"Sleeping soundly.  I hope it will do him good.  I did not know how much
you cared for him, Flip."

"That's because I always made him a butt," said Henderson, remorsefully;
"but I didn't really think he minded it, or I wouldn't have done so.  I
hardly knew myself that I liked him so.  It was a confounded shame of me
to worry him as I was always doing.  Conceited donkey that I was, I was
always trying to make him seem stupid; yet all the while I could have
stood by him cap in hand.  O Walter, I hope he is not going to die!"

"O no, I hope not; and don't be miserable at the thought of teasing him,
Flip; it was all in fun, and he was never wounded by any word of yours.
Remember how he used to tell you that he was all the time laughing at
you, not you at him.  Come a turn on the shore, and let's take Power or
Ken with us."

"Sociable grosbeaks, again," said Henderson, laughing in the midst of
his sorrow.

"Yes," said Walter; "never mind.  There are but few birds of the sort
after all."

They found Eden with his feet up, and his hands round his knees, on the
window-seat, perfectly at his ease, and chattering to Power like a young
jackdaw.  A thrill of pleasure passed through Walter's heart as a glance
showed him how well his proposal had succeeded.  Power evidently had had
no reason to repent of his kindness, and Eden looked more like the
bright and happy child which he had once been, than ever was the case
since he had come to Saint Winifred's.  He was now clean and neat in
dress, and the shadows of fear and guilt which had begun to darken his
young face were chased away.

Power readily joined them in their stroll along the shore, and listened
with affectionate sympathy to their account of Daubeny.

"What is it that has made him ill?" he asked.

"There's no doubt about that," answered Walter; "it's overwork which has
brought on a tendency to brain fever."

"I was afraid so, Walter," and then Power repeated half to himself the
fine lines of Byron on Kirke White--

  "So the struck eagle stretched upon the plain,
  No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
  Viewed his own feather on the fatal dart,
  And winged the barb that quivered in his heart;
  Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel.
  He nursed the pinion that impelled the steel;
  While the same plumage that had warmed his nest,
  Drank the last life blood of his bleeding breast."

"What grand verses!" said Walter.  "Poor, poor Daubeny!"

"I've never had but one feeling about him myself," said Power, "and that
was a feeling almost like reverence.  I hope and trust that he'll be
well enough for to-morrow week.  I always looked forward to kneeling
next to him when we were confirmed."

"All, you loved him, Power," said Henderson, "because your tastes were
like his.  But I owe a great deal to him--more than I can ever tell you.
I don't feel as if I could tell you now, while he lies there so ill,
poor fellow.  He has saved me more than once from vigorous efforts to
throw myself away.  But for him I should have gone to the devil long,
long ago.  I was _very_ near it once."  He sighed, and as they walked by
the violet margent of the evening waves, he offered up in silence an
earnest prayer that Daubeny might live.

The blind old poet would have said that the winds carried the prayer
away and scattered it.  But no winds can scatter, no waves can drown,
the immortal spirit of one true prayer.  Unanswered it _may_ be--but
scattered and fruitless, _not_!



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

THE SCHOOL-BELL.

  To me the thought of death is terrible,
  Having such hold of life; to you it is not
  More than the sudden lifting of a latch;
  Nought but a step into the open air,
  Out of a tent already luminous
  With light that shines through its transparent fold.

  Longfellow's Golden Legend.

"I've got a good piece of news for you, Master Daubeny," said the kind
old school-nurse.

"What is it? is my mother here?" he said eagerly.  "O! let her come and
see me."

She was at the door, and the next moment his arms were round her neck in
a long embrace.  "Darling, darling mother," he exclaimed, "now I shall
be happy, now that you have come.  Nay, you mustn't cry, mother," he
said, as he felt one of her fast flowing tears upon his forehead;
"you've come to help me in bearing up."

"Dearest Johnny," she said, "I trust yet that God will spare the widow's
only son; He Who raised the son of the widow of Nain will pity us."

"His ways are not ours, mother dear; I do not think that I shall
recover.  My past life hangs before me like a far-off picture already; I
lie and look at it almost as if it were not mine, and my mind is quite
at peace; only sometimes my head is all confused."

"God's will be done, Johnny," sobbed the poor lady.  "But I do not think
I can live, if you be taken from me."

"Taken--but not for ever, mother," he said, looking up into her face.

"O Johnny, _why, why_ did you not spare yourself, and work less?  It is
the work which has killed you."

"Only because it fell heavier on me than on other boys.  They got
through it quickly, but I was not so clever, and it cost me more to do
my duty.  I tried to do it, mother dear, and God helped me.  All is well
as it is.  O my head, my head!"

"You must rest, darling.  My visit and talk has excited you.  Try to go
to sleep."

"Then sit there, mother, opposite me, so that I may see you when I
wake."

She kissed his aching brow, and sat down, while he composed himself to
rest.  She was a lady of about fifty, with bands of silver hair smoothed
over her calm forehead, and in appearance not unlike her son.  But there
was something very sweet and matronly about her look, and it was
impossible to see her without feeling the respect and honour which was
her due.

And she sat there, by the bedside, looking upon her only son, the boy
who had been the light of her life; and she knew that he was dying--she
knew that he was fading away before her eyes.  Yet there was a sweet and
noble resignation in her anguish; there was a deep and genuine spirit of
submission to the will of heaven, and a perfect faith in God's love,
whatever might be the issue, in every prayer she breathed, as with
clasped hands, and streaming eyes, and moving lips, she gazed upon his
face.  He might appear dull and heavy to others, but to her he was dear
beyond all thought; and now she was to lose him.  In her inmost heart
she knew that she _must_ suffer that great pang; that God was taking to
Himself the son who had been so good and true to her, so affectionate,
so sweet-tempered, so unselfish, that even from his gentle and quiet
infancy he had never by his conduct caused her a moment's pain.  She had
long been looking forward to the strong and upright manhood which should
follow this pure boyhood; but that dear boy was not destined to be the
staff of her declining years; _her_ hands were to close his eyes in the
last long sleep, and she was to pass alone under the overshadowing rocks
that close around the valley of human life.  God help the mother's heart
who must pass through scenes like this!

Poor Daubeny could not sleep.  Brain fever is usually accompanied by
delirium, and as he turned restlessly upon his pillow, his mind began to
wander away to other days and scenes.

"Stupid, sir? yes, I know I am, but I can't help it; I've really done my
best.  I was up at five o'clock this morning, trying, trying so hard to
learn this repetition.  Indeed, indeed, I'm not idle, sir.  I'll try to
do my duty if I can.  O Power, I wish I were like you; you learn so
quickly, and you never get abused as I do after it all."

And then the poor boy fancied himself sitting under the gas-lamp in the
passage as he had so often done, and trying to master one of his
repetition lessons, repeating the lines fast to himself as he used to
do--

  "`Hac arte Pollux et vagus Hercules,
  Enisus--enisus arces--enisus arces attigit igneas,
  Quos inter Augustus--'

"How _does_ it go on?

  "`Hac arte Pollux et vagus Hercules,
  Enisus arces attigit igneas, attigit igneas,
  Quos inter Augustus recumbens--'"

"Oh, what _does_ come next?" and he stopped with an expression of pain
on his face, pressing his hands tight over his brow.  "Don't go on with
the repetition, Johnny, dear," said the poor mother.  "I'm sure you know
it enough now."

"O, no! not yet, mother; I shall be turned, I know I shall to-morrow,
and it makes him so angry; he'll call me idle and incorrigible, and all
kinds of things."  And then he began again--

  "`Sed quid Typhoeus aut validus Mimas,
  Aut quid minaci Porphyrion statu,
  Quid Rhoetus--Rhoetus--quid Rhoetus--'

"Oh, I shall break down here, I know I shall," and he burst into tears.
"It's no good trying to help me, Power, I _can't_ learn it."

"Leave off for to-night at least, Johnny," said his mother, in a tone of
anguish; "you can learn the rest to-morrow.  Oh, what shall I do?" she
asked, turning to the nurse; "I cannot bear to hear him go on like
this."

"Be comforted, ma'am," said the nurse, wiping away her own tears.  "He's
a dear good lamb, and he'll come to hisself soon afore he goes off."

"_Must_ he die, then?" she asked, trembling in every limb.

"Hush, good lady! we never know what God may please to do in His mercy.
We must bow to His gracious will, ma'am, as you knows well, I don't
doubt.  He's fitter to die than many a grown man is, poor child, and
that's a blessing.  I wish though he wasn't a repeating of that there
heathenish Latin."

But Daubeny's voice was still humming fragments of Horace lines,
sometimes with eager concentration, and then with pauses at parts where
his memory failed, at which he would grow distressed and anxious--

"`Quid Rhoetus... quid Rhoetus evulsisque truncis, Enceladus.'

"Oh, I _cannot_ learn this; I think I'm getting more stupid every day.
Enceladus--"

"If you love me, Johnny, give it up for to-night, that's a darling boy,"
said his mother.

"But, mother, it's my _duty_ to know it; you wouldn't have me fail in
duty, mother dear, would you?  Why, it was you who told me to persevere,
and do all things with my might.  Well, I will leave it for to-night."
Then, still unconscious of what he was doing, the boy got up and prayed,
as it was evident that he _had_ done many a time, that God would
strengthen his memory and quicken his powers, and enable him to do his
duty like a man.  It was inexpressibly touching to see him as he knelt
there--thin, pale, emaciated, the shadow of his former self, kneeling in
his delirium to offer up his old accustomed prayer.

And when he got into bed again, although his mind still wandered, he was
much calmer, and a new direction seemed to have been given to his
thoughts.  The prayer had fallen like dew on his aching soul.  He
fancied himself in Power's study, where for many a Sunday the two boys
had been used to sit, and where they had often learnt or read to each
other their favourite hymns.  Fragments of these hymns he was now
repeating, dwelling on the words with an evident sense of pleasure and
belief--

  "`A noble army--men and boys,
  The matron and the maid,
  Around the Saviour's throne rejoice,
  In robes of light arrayed.
  _They_ climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
  'Mid peril, toil, and pain;
  O God, to _us_ may strength be given,
  To follow in their train.'

"Isn't that beautiful, Power?

  "`And when on upward wing.
  Cleaving the sky,
  Sun, moon, and stars forgot,
  Upwards I fly;
  Still all my song shall be,
  Nearer, my God, to Thee,
  Nearer to Thee.'"

And as he murmured to himself in a soothed tone of voice these verses,
and lines of "Jerusalem the Golden," and "O for a closer walk with God,"
and "Rock of Ages," the wearied brain at last found repose, and Daubeny
fell asleep.

He lingered on till the end of the week.  On the Saturday he ceased to
be delirious, and the lucid interval began which precedes death.  It was
then that he earnestly entreated to be allowed to see those school
friends whose names had been so often on his lips--Power, Walter, and
Henderson.  The boys, who had daily and eagerly inquired for him,
entered with a feeling of trembling solemnity the room of sickness.  The
near presence of death filled them with an indescribable awe, and they
felt desolate at the approaching loss of a friend whom they loved so
well.

"I sent to say good-bye," he said, smiling sweetly.  "You must not cry
and grieve for me.  I am happier than I ever felt before.  Good-bye,
Walter.  It's for a long, long, long time, but not for ever.  Good-bye,
my dear old Flip--naughty fellow to cry so, when I am happy; and when I
am gone, Flip, think of me sometimes, and of talks we've had together,
and take your side manfully for God and Christ.  Good-bye, Power, my
best friend; we meant to be confirmed together, you know, but God has
ordered it otherwise."  And then he whispered low--

  "`Lord shall we come? come yet again?
  Thy children ask one blessing more;
  To come not now alone, but then
  When life, and death, and time are o'er;
  Then, then, to come, O Lord, and be
  _Confirmed in heaven--confirmed by Thee_.'

"O Power, that line fills me with hope and joy; think of it for me when
I am dead," and his voice trembled with emotion as he again murmured,
"`Confirmed in heaven--confirmed by Thee.'  I'm afraid I'm too weak to
talk any more.  O, what a long, long good-bye it will be--for years, and
years, and years; to think that when you have gone out of the room we
shall never meet in life again, and I shall never hear your pleasant
voices.  O Flip, you make me cry against my will by crying so.  It's
hard to say, but it must be said at last.  Good-bye, God bless you, with
all my heart."  He laid his hand on their heads as they bent over him,
and once mere whispering the last "Good-bye," turned away his face, and
made the pillow wet with his warm tears.

The sound of his mother's sobs attracted him.  "Ah, mother, darling, we
are alone now; you will stay with me till I die.  I am tired."

"I feared that their visit would excite you too much, my child."

"O no, mother; I couldn't bear to die without seeing them, I loved them
so much.  Mother, will you sing to me a _little_--sing me my favourite
hymn."

She began in a low, sweet voice,--

  "My God, my Father, while I stray,
  Far from my home in life's rough way,
  O teach me from my heart to say,
  Thy will be done,
  Thy will be--"

She stopped, for sobs choked her voice.  "I am sorry I cannot, Johnny.
But I cannot bear to think how soon we must part."

"Only for a short time, mother, a short time.  I said a long time just
now, but _now_ it looks to me quite short, and I shall be with God.  I
see it all now so clearly.  Do you remember those lines--

  "`The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,
  Lets in new light through chinks that time has made.'

"How true they are!  Oh, darling mother, how very, very good you have
always been to me, and I pay you with all my heart's whole love."  He
pressed upon her lips a long, long kiss, and said, "Good-night, darling
mother.  I am falling asleep, I think."

His arms relaxed their loving embrace, and glided down from her
shoulder; his head fell back; the light faded from his soft and gentle
eyes, and he was asleep.

Rightly he said "asleep"--the long sleep that is the sweetest and
happiest in that it knows no waking here; the long sweet sleep that no
evil dreams disturb; the sleep after which the eyes open upon the light
of immortality, and the weary heart rests upon the bosom of its God.
Yes, Daubeny had fallen asleep.

God help thee, widowed mother; the daily endearments, the looks of
living affection, the light of the boy's presence, are for thee and for
thy home no more.  There lies the human body of thy son; his soul is
with the white-robed, redeemed, innumerable multitude in the Paradise of
God.

For hours, till the light faded into darkness, as this young life had
faded into death, she sat fixed in that deep grief which finds no
utterance, and knows of no alleviation, with little consciousness save
of the dead presence, and of the pang that benumbed her aching heart.
And outside rang the sound of games and health, and the murmur of
boy-voices came to her forlorn ear.  There the stream of life was
flashing joyously and gloriously in the sunshine, while here, in this
darkened room, it had sunk into the sands, and lost itself under the
shadow of the dark boughs.  But she was a Christian; and as the sweet
voices of memory, and conscience, and hope, and promise whispered to her
in her loneliness their angel messages, her heart melted and the tears
came, and she knelt down and took the dead hand of her son in hers, and
said, between her sobs, while her tear-stained eyes were turned to
heaven, "O God, teach me to understand Thy will."

And through the night the great bell of the church of Saint Winifred's
tolled the sound of death; and, mingled with it stroke for stroke, in
long, tremulous, thrilling notes that echoed through the silent
buildings, rang out the thin clear bell of Saint Winifred's School.  The
tones of that school-bell were usually only heard as they summoned the
boys to lessons with quick and hurried beatings.  How different now were
the slow occasional notes--each note trembling itself out with
undisturbed vibrations which quivered long upon the air--with which it
told that for one at least whom it had been wont to warn, hurry was
possible no longer, and there was boundless leisure now!  There was a
strange pulse of emotion in the hearts of the listening boys, when the
sound of those two passing bells struck upon their ears as they sat at
evening work, and told them that the soul of their schoolfellow had
passed away, and that God's voice had summoned His young servant to His
side.

"You hear it, Henderson?" said Walter, who sat next to him.

"Yes," answered Henderson in an awe-struck voice, "Daubeny is dead."

The rest of that evening the two boys sat silent and motionless, full of
the solemn thoughts which can never be forgotten.  And for the rest of
that evening the deep church-bell tolled, and the shrill school-bell
tolling after it, shivered out into the wintry night air its tremulous
message that the soul of Daubeny had passed away.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

FAREWELL.

  "Be the day weary or be the day long
  At last it ringeth to even-song."

There was a very serious look on the faces of all the boys as they
thronged into chapel the next morning for the confirmation service.  It
was a beautiful sight to see the subdued yet noble air, full at once of
humility and hope, wherewith many of the youthful candidates passed
along the aisle, and knelt before the altar, and with clasped hands and
bowed heads awaited the touch of the hands that blessed.  As those young
soldiers of Christ knelt meekly in their places, resolving with pure and
earnest hearts to fight manfully in His service, and praying with
child-like faith for the aid of which they felt their need, it was
indeed a spectacle to recall the ideal of virtuous and Christian
boyhood, and to force upon the minds of many the contrast it presented
with the other too familiar spectacle of a boyhood coarse, defiant,
brutal, ignorant yet conceited, young in years but old in disobedience,
in insolence, in sin.

When the good bishop, in the course of his address, alluded to Daubeny's
death, there was throughout the chapel instantly that silence that can
be felt--that deep, unbroken hush of expectation and emotion which
always produces so indescribable an effect.

"There was one," he said, "who should have been confirmed to-day, who is
not here.  He has passed away from us; he will never be present at an
earthly confirmation; he is `confirmed in heaven--confirmed by God.'  I
hear, and I rejoice to hear, that for that confirmation he was indeed
prepared, and that he looked forward to it with some of his latest
thoughts.  I hear that he was pre-eminent among you for the piety, the
purity, the amiability of his life and character, and his very death was
caused by the intense earnestness of his desire to use aright the
talents which God had entrusted to him.  O! such a death of one so young
yet so fit to die is far happier than the longest and most prosperous of
sinful lives.  Be sobered but not saddened by it.  It is a proof of
God's merciful and tender love that this one of your schoolfellows was
taken in the clear and quiet dawn of a noble and holy life, and not some
other in the scarlet blossom of precocious and deadly sin.  Be not
saddened therefore at the loss, but sobered by the warning.  The fair,
sweet, purple flower of youth falls and fades, my young brethren, under
the sweeping scythe of death, no less surely than the withered grass of
age.  O! be ready--be ready with the girded loins and the lighted lamp--
to obey the summons of your God.  Who knows for which of us next, or how
soon, the bell of death may toll?  Be ye therefore ready, for you know
not at what day or at what hour the voice may call to you!"

The loss of a well-known companion whom all respected and many loved--
the crowding memories of school-life--the still small voice of every
conscience, gave strange meaning and force to the bishop's simple words.
As they listened, many wept in silence, while down the cheeks of
Walter, of Power, and of Henderson, the tears fell like summer rain.

In the evening Walter was seated thoughtfully by the fire in Power's
study, while Power was writing at the table, stopping occasionally to
wipe his glistening eyes.

"He was my earliest friend here," he said to Walter, almost
apologetically, as he hastily brushed off the drop which had fallen and
blurred the paper before him.  "But I know it is selfish to be sorry,"
he added, as he pushed the paper towards Walter.

"May I read this, Power?" asked Walter.

"Yes, if you like," and he drew his chair by his, while Walter read in
Power's small clear handwriting--

  A Farewell.

  Never more!
  Like a dream when one awaketh
  Vanishing away;
  Like a billow when it breaketh
  Scattered into spray;
  Like a meteor's paling ray,
  Such is man, do all he can;--
  Nothing that is fair can stay.
  Sorrow staineth, man complaineth.

  Sin remaineth ever more;
  Like a wake upon the shore
  Soundeth ever from the chorus
  Of the spirits gone before us,
  "Ye shall meet us, ye shall greet us
  In the sweet homes of earth, in the places of our birth,
  Never more again, never more!"
  So they sing, and sweetly dying
  Faints the message of their voices,
  Dying like the distant murmur, when a mighty host rejoices,
  But the echoes are replying with a melancholy sighing
  Never more again! never more!

  Far-away
  Far far-away are the homes wherein they dwell,
  We have lost them, and it cost them
  Many a tear, and many a fear
  When God forbade their stay;
  But their sorrow, on the morrow
  Ceased in the dawning of a lighter, brighter day;
  And _our_ bliss shall be certain, when death's awful curtain.
  Drawn from the darkness of mortal life away,
  To happy souls revealeth what it darkly now concealeth,
  Yielding to the glory of heaven's eternal ray.
  Far far-away are the homes wherein they dwell,
  But we know that they are blest, and ever more at rest,
  And we utter from our hearts, "It is well."

"May I keep them, Power?" he asked, looking up.

"Do, Walter, as a remembrance of to-day."

"And may I make one change, which the bishop's sermon suggested?"

"By all means," said Power; and Walter, taking a pencil, added after the
line "Nothing that is fair can stay," these words, which Power
afterwards copied, writing at the top, "In memoriam, J.D."

  "Nothing that is fair can stay
  But while Death's sharp scythe is sweeping,
  We remember 'mid our weeping,
  That a Father-hand is keeping
  Every vernal bloom that falleth underneath its chilly sway.
  And though earthly flowers may perish
  There are buds His hand will cherish
  And the things unseen Eternal--these can never pass away;
  Where the angels shout Hosanna,
  Where the ground is dewed with manna,
  These remain and these await us in the homes of heaven for ay!"

The lines are in Walter's desk; and he values them all the more for the
tears which have fallen on them, and blurred the neatness of the fine
clear handwriting.

On the following Tuesday our boys saw the dead body of their friend.
The face of poor Daubeny looked singularly beautiful with the placid
lines of death, as all innocent faces do.  It was the first time they
had seen a corpse; and as Walter touched the cold cheek, and placed a
spray of evergreen in the rigid hand, he was almost overpowered with an
awful sense of the sad sweet mystery of death.

"It is God who has taken him to Himself," said Mrs Daubeny, as she
watched their emotion.  "I shall not be parted from him long.  He has
left you each a remembrance of himself, dear boys, and you will value
them, I know, for my poor child's sake, and for his widowed mother's
thanks to those who loved him."

For each of them he had chosen, before he died, one of his most prized
possessions.  To Power he left his desk; to Henderson, his microscope;
to Kenrick, a little gold pencil-case; and to Walter, a treasure which
he deeply valued, a richly-bound Bible, in which he had left many
memorials of the manner in which his days were spent; and in which he
had marked many of the rules which were the standard of his life, and
the words of hope which sustained his gentle and noble mind.

The next day he was buried; only the boys in his own house, and those
who had known him best, followed him to the grave.  They were standing
in two lines along the court, and the plumed hearse stood at the cottage
door.  Just at that moment the rest of the boys began to flock out of
the school, for lessons were over.  Each as he came out caught sight of
the hearse, the plumes waving and whispering in the sea-wind, and the
double line of mourners; and each, on seeing it, stood where he was, in
perfect silence.  Their numbers increased each moment, till boys and
masters alike were there; and all by the same sudden impulse stopped
where they were standing when first they saw the hearse, and stood still
without a word.  The scene was the more strangely impressive because it
was accidental and spontaneous.  Meanwhile, the coffin was carried
downstairs, and placed in the hearse, which moved off slowly across the
court between the line of bareheaded and motionless mourners.  It was
thus that Daubeny left Saint Winifred's, and passed under the Norman
arch; and till he had passed through, the boys stood fixed to their
places, like a group of statues in the usually noisy court.  He was
buried in the churchyard under the tower of the grand old church.  It
was a lovely spot; the torrent murmured near it; the shadows of the
great mountains fell upon it; and as you stood there in the sacred
silence of that memory-haunted field, you heard far-off the solemn
monotone of the everlasting sea.  There they laid him, and the stream of
life, checked for a moment, flashed on again with turbulent and
sparkling waves.  Ah me!--yet why should we sigh at the merciful
provision, which causes that the very best of us, when we die, leaves
but a slight and transient ripple on the waters, which a moment after
flow on as smoothly as before?

Mrs Daubeny left Saint Winifred's that evening; her carriage looked
strange with her son's boxes and other possessions piled up in it.  Who
would ever use that cricket-bat or those skates again?  Power and Walter
shook hands with her at the door as she was about to start; and just at
the last moment, Henderson came running up with something, which he put
on the carriage seat without a word.  It was a bird-cage, containing a
little favourite canary, which he and Daubeny had often fed.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

KENRICK'S HOME.

  Yonder there lies the village and looks how quiet and small,
  And yet bubbles o'er like a city with gossip and scandal and spite.

  Tennyson.  _Maud_.

It was the last evening.  The boys were all assembled in the great
schoolroom to hear the result of the examination.  The masters in their
caps and gowns were seated round Dr Lane on a dais in the centre of the
room; and every one was eager to know what places the boys had taken,
and who would win the various form prizes.  Dr Lane began from the
bottom of the school, and at the _last_ boy in each form, so that the
interest of the proceedings kept on culminating to the grand climax.
The first name that will interest us was Eden's, and both Walter and
Power were watching anxiously to see where he would come out in his
form.  Power had been so kindly coaching him in his work that they
expected him to be high; but it was as much to _his_ surprise as to
their gratification, that his name was read out _third_.  Jones and
Harpour were, as was natural, last in their respective forms.

At length Dr Lane got to Walter's form.  Last but one came Howard
Tracy, who was listening with a fine superiority to the whole
announcement.  Anthony and Franklin were not far from him.  Henderson
expected himself to be about tenth; but the tenth name, the ninth, and
the eighth, all were read, and he had not been mentioned; his heart was
beating fast, and he almost fancied that there must have been some
mistake; but no; Dr Lane read on.

"Seventh, Grey;

"Sixth, Mackworth;

"Fifth, Whalley;

"Fourth, Henderson;"

and Walter had hardly done patting him on the back, and congratulating
him, when Dr Lane had read--

"Third, Manners;

"Second, Carlton;

"_First_"--the Doctor always read the word "first" with peculiar
emphasis, and then brought out the name of the boy who had attained that
distinction with great empressement--"_First, Evson_."

Whereupon it was Henderson's turn to pat him on the back, which he did
very vigorously; and not only so, but in his enthusiasm began to clap--a
demonstration which ran like wildfire through all the ranks of the boys,
and before Dr Lane could raise his voice to secure silence--for
approbation on those occasions in the great schoolroom was not at all
_selon regle_--our young hero had received a regular ovation.  For since
the day on Appenfell, Walter had been the favourite of the school, and
they were only too glad to follow Henderson in his irregular applause.
There was an intoxicating sweetness in this popularity.  Could Walter
help keenly enjoying the general regard which thus, defiant of rules,
broke out in his honour into spontaneous acclamations?

Dr Lane's stern "Silence!" heard above the uproar, soon reduced the
boys to order, and he proceeded with the list.  Kenrick was read out
first in his form, and Power, as a matter of course, again first in the
second fifth, although in that form he was the youngest boy.  Somers
came out head of the school, by examination as well as by seniority of
standing; and in his case, too, the impulse to cheer was too strong to
be resisted.  The head of the school was, however, tacitly excepted from
the general rule, and Dr Lane only smiled while he listened to the
clapping, which showed that Somers was regarded with esteem and honour
by the boys, in spite of his cold manners and stern regime.

"Hurrah for the Sociable Grosbeaks!" said Henderson, as the boys
streamed out of the room.  "Why, we carry all before us!  And only fancy
me fourth!  Why, I'm a magnificent swell, without ever having known it.
You look out, Master Walter, or I shall have a scrimmage with you for
laurels."

"Good," said Walter.  "Meanwhile, come and help me to pack up my laurels
in my box.  And then for home!  Hurrah!"

And he began to sing the exquisite air of:

  "Domum, domum, dulce domum,
  Dulce, dulce, dulce domum;"

in which Power and Henderson joined heartily; while Kenrick walked on in
silence.

Next day the boys were scattered in every direction to their various
homes.  It need not be said that Walter passed very happy holidays that
Christmas time.  Power came and spent a fortnight with him; and let
every boy who has a cheerful and affectionate home imagine for himself
how blithely their days passed by.  Power made himself a universal
favourite, always unselfish, always merry, and throwing himself heartily
into every amusement which the Evsons proposed.  He and they were
mutually sorry when the time came for them to part.

From Semlyn Lake, Walter's home, to Fuzby, Kenrick's home, the change is
great indeed; yet I must take the reader there for a short time, before
we return to the noisy and often troubled precincts of Saint Winifred's
School.

Before Power came to stay with the Evsons, Walter, with his father's
full permission, had written to ask Kenrick to join them at the same
time, and this is the answer he got in reply--

  "My Dear Walter,--I can't tell you how much your letter tempted me.  I
  should so like to come; I would give _anything_ to come and see you.
  To be with you and Power at such a place as Semlyn must be--O Walter,
  it almost makes me envious to think of you there.  But I can't come,
  and I'll tell you frankly the reason.  I can't afford, or rather I
  mean that my mother cannot afford, the necessary travelling expenses.
  I look on you, Walter, as my best school friend, so I may as well say
  at once that we are _very, very_ poor.  If I could even get to you by
  walking some of the way, and going third-class the rest, I would jump
  at the chance, but--.  Lucky fellow, _you_ know nothing of the _res
  angusta domi_.

  "You must be amused at the name of this place, Fuzby-le-Mud.  What
  charming prospects the name opens, does it not?  I assure you the name
  fits the place exactly.  My goodness! how I do hate the place.  You'll
  ask why then we live here?  Simply because we _must_.  Some
  misanthropic relation left us the house we live in, which saves rent.

  "Yet, if you were with me, I think I could be happy even here.  I
  don't venture to ask you.  First of all, we couldn't make you
  one-tenth part as comfortable as you are at home; secondly, there
  isn't the ghost of an amusement here, and if you came, you'd go back
  to Saint Winifred's with a fit of blue devils, as I always do;
  thirdly, the change from Semlyn to Fuzby-le-Mud would be like walking
  from the Elysian fields and the asphodel meadows, into mere _borboros_
  as old Edwards would say.  So I _don't_ ask you; and yet if you could
  come--why, the day would be marked with white in the dull calendar
  of--Your ever affectionate--

  "Harry Kenrick."

As Fuzby lay nearly in the route to Saint Winifred's, Walter, grieved
that his friend should be doomed to such dull holidays, determined, with
Mr Evson's leave, to pay him a three-days' visit on his way to school.
Accordingly, towards the close of the holidays, after a hopeful, a
joyous, and an affectionate farewell to all at home, he started for
Fuzby, from which he was to accompany Kenrick back to school; a visit
fraught, as it turned out, with evil consequences, and one which he
never afterwards ceased to look back upon with regret.

The railroad, after leaving far behind the glorious hills of Semlyn,
passes through country flatter and more uninteresting at every mile,
until it finds itself fairly committed to the fens.  Nothing but dreary
dykes, muddy and straight, guarded by the ghosts of suicidal pollards,
and by rows of dreary and desolate mills, occur to break the blank grey
monotony of the landscape.  Walter was looking out of the window with
curious eyes, and he was wondering what life in such conditions could be
like, when the train uttered a despairing scream, and reached a station
which the porter announced as Fuzby-le-Mud.  Walter jumped down, and his
hand was instantly seized by Kenrick with a warm and affectionate grasp.

"So you're really here, Walter.  I can hardly believe it.  I half repent
having brought you to such a place; but I was _so_ dull."

"I shall enjoy it exceedingly, Ken, with you.  Shall I give my
portmanteau to some man to take up to the village?"

"O, no; here's a--well, I may as well call it a _cart_ at once--to take
it up in.  The curate lent it me, and he calls it a pony-carriage; but
it is, you see, nothing more or less than a cart.  I hope you won't be
ashamed to ride in it."

"I should think not," said Walter gaily, mounting into the curious
little oblong wooden vehicle.

"It isn't very far," said Kenrick, "and I daresay you don't know any one
about here; so it won't matter."

"Pooh!  Ken, as if I minded such nonsense."  Indeed, Walter would not
have thought twice about the conveyance, if Kenrick had not harped upon
it so much, and seemed so much ashamed of it, and mortified at being
obliged to use it.  "Shall I drive?" asked Walter.

"Drive?  Why, the pony is stone blind, and as scraggy as a scarecrow, so
there's not much driving to be had out of him.  Fancy if the
aristocratic Power, or some other Saint Winifred's fellow saw us!  Why,
it would supply Henderson with jokes for six weeks," said Kenrick,
getting up and touching the old pony with his whip.  Both he and Walter
were wholly unconscious that their equipage _had_ been seen, and
contemptuously scrutinised by one of their schoolfellows.  Unknown to
Walter, Jones was in the train; and, after a long stare at the
pony-chaise, had flung himself back in his seat to indulge in a long
guffaw, and in anticipating the malicious amusement he should feel in
retailing at Saint Winifred's the description of Kenrick's horse and
carriage.  Petty malignity was a main feature of Jones's mind.

"That is Fuzby," said Kenrick laconically, pointing to a straggling
village from which a few lights were beginning to glimmer; "and I wish
it were buried twenty thousand fathoms under the sea."

Ungracious as the speech may seem, it cannot be wondered at.  A single
muddy road runs through Fuzby.  Except along this road--muddy and rutty
in winter, dusty and rutty in summer--no walk is to be had.  The fields
are all more or less impassable with ditches and bogs.  Kenrick had
christened it "The Dreary Swamp."  Nothing in the shape of a view is to
be found anywhere, and barely a single flower will deign to grow.  The
air is unhealthy with moisture, and the only element to be had there in
perfection is earth.

All this, Kenrick's father--who had been curate of the village--had
fancied would be at least endurable to any man upheld by a strong sense
of duty.  So when he had married, and had received the gift of a house
in the village, he took thither his young and beautiful bride, intending
there to live and work until something better could be obtained.  He was
right.  Over the mere disadvantages of situation he might easily have
triumphed, and he might have secured there, under different
circumstances, a fair share of happiness, which lies in ourselves and
not in the localities in which we live.  But in making his calculation
he had always assumed that it would be easy to get on with the
inhabitants of Fuzby; and here lay his mistake.

The Vicar of Fuzby, a non-resident pluralist, only appeared at rare
intervals to receive the adoration which his flock never refused to any
one who was wealthy.  His curate, having a very slender income, came in
for no share at all of this respect.  On the contrary, the whole
population assumed a right to patronise him, to interfere with him, to
annoy and to thwart him.  There was at Fuzby one squire--a rich farmer,
coarse, ignorant, and brutal.  This man, being the richest person in the
parish, generally carried everything in his own way, and among other
attempts to imitate the absurdities of his superiors, had ordered the
sexton never to cease ringing the church-bell, however late, until he
and his family had taken their seats.  A very few Sundays after Mr
Kenrick's arrival the bell was still ringing eight minutes after the
time for morning service, and sending to desire the sexton to leave off,
he received the message that--

"Mr Hugginson hadn't come yet."

"I will not have the congregation kept waiting for Mr Hugginson or any
one else," said the curate.

"O zurr, the zervus haint begun afore Muster Hugginson has come in this
ten year."

"Then the sooner Mr Hugginson is made to understand that the hours of
service are not to be altered at his convenience the better.  Let the
bell cease immediately."

But the sexton, a dogged, bovine, bullet-headed labourer, took no notice
whatever of this injunction, and although Mr Kenrick went into the
reading-desk, continued lustily to ring the bell until the whole
Hugginson family, furious that their dignity should thus be insulted,
sailed into church at the beginning of the psalms.

Next morning Mr Kenrick turned the sexton out of his place, and
received a most wrathful visit from Mr Hugginson, who, after pouring on
him a torrent of the most disgusting abuse, got scarlet in the forehead,
shook his stick in Mr Kenrick's face, flung his poverty in his teeth,
and left the cottage, vowing eternal vengeance.

With him went all the Fuzby population.  It would be long to tell the
various little causes which led to Mr Kenrick's unpopularity among
them.  Every clergyman similarly circumstanced may conjecture these for
himself; they resolved themselves mainly into the fact that Mr Kenrick
was abler, wiser, purer, better, more Christian, than they.  His
thoughts were not theirs, nor his ways their ways.

  "He had a daily beauty in his life
  That made them ugly."

And so, to pass briefly and lightly, over an unpleasant subject, Fuzby
was brimming over with the concentrated meanness of petty malignant
natures, united in the one sole object of snubbing and worrying the
unhappy curate.  To live among them was like living in a cloud of
poisonous flies.  If Dante had known Fuzby-le-Mud, he could have found
for a really generous and noble spirit no more detestable or unendurable
inferno than this muddy English village.

The chief characteristic of Fuzby was a pestilential spirit of gossip.
There was no lying scandal, there was no malicious whisper, that did not
thrive with rank luxuriance in that mean atmosphere, which, at the same
time, starved up every great and high-minded wish.  There was no
circumstance so minute that calumny could not insert into it a venomous
claw.  Mr Kenrick was one of the most exemplary, generous, and
pure-minded of men; his only fault was quickness of temper.  His noble
character, his conciliatory manners, his cultivated mind, his Christian
forbearance, were all in vain.  He was poor, and he could not be a
toady: these were two unpardonable sins; and he, a true man, moved like
an angel among a set of inferior beings.  For a time he struggled on.
He tried not to mind the lies they told of him.  What was it to him, for
instance, if they took advantage of his hasty language to declare that
he was in the constant habit of swearing, when he knew that even from
boyhood no oath had ever crossed his lips?  What was it to him that
these uneducated boors, in their feeble ignorance, tried constantly to
entrap him into something which they called unorthodox, and to twist his
words into the semblance of fancied heresy?  It was more painful to him
that they opposed and vilified every one whom he helped, and whose
interests, in pity, he endeavoured to forward.  But still he bore on, he
struggled on, till the _denouement_ came.  It is not worth while
entering into the various schemes invented for his annoyance, but at
last an unfortunate, although purely accidental, discrepancy was
detected in the accounts of one of the parish charities which Mr
Kenrick officially managed.  Mr Hugginson seized his long-looked-for
opportunity: he went round the parish, and got a large number of his
creatures among the congregation to affirm by their signatures that Mr
Kenrick had behaved dishonestly.  This memorial he sent to the bishop,
and disseminated among all the clergy with malicious assiduity.  At the
next clerical meeting Mr Kenrick found himself most coldly received.
Compelled in self-defence to take legal proceedings against the squire,
he found himself involved in heavy expenses.  He won his cause, and his
character was cleared; but the jury, attending only to the
technicalities of the case, and conceiving that there was enough _prima
facie_ evidence to justify Mr Hugginson's proceedings, left each side
to pay their own costs.  These costs swallowed up the whole of the poor
curate's private resources, and also involved him in debt.  The agony,
the suspense, the shame, the cruel sense of oppression and injustice,
bore with a crushing weight on his weakened health.  He could not
tolerate that the merest breath of suspicion, however false, should pass
over his fair and honourable name.  He pined away over the atrocious
calumny; it poisoned for him the very life-springs of happiness, and
destroyed his peace of mind for ever.  This young man, in the flower of
youth--a man who might have been a leader and teacher of men--a man of
gracious presence and high power--died of a broken heart.  He died of a
broken heart, and all Fuzby built his conspicuous tomb, and shed
crocodile tears over his pious memory.  Truly, as some one has said,
very black stains lie here and there athwart the white conventionalities
of common life!

This had happened when our little Kenrick was eight years old; he never
forgot the spectacle of his poor father's heartbreaking misery during
the last year of his life.  He never forgot how, during that year,
sorrow and anxiety had aged his father's face, and silvered his hair,
young as he was, with premature white, and so quenched his spirits, that
often he would take his little boy on his knee, and look upon him so
long in silence, that the child cried at the intensity of that long,
mournful, hopeless gaze, and at the tears which he saw slowly coursing
each other down his father's careworn and furrowed cheeks.  Ever since
then the boy had walked among the Fuzby people with open scorn and
defiance, as among those whose slanders had done to death the father
whom he so proudly loved.  In spite of his mother's wishes, he would not
stoop to pay them even the semblance of courtesy.  No wonder that he
hated Fuzby with a perfect hatred, and that his home there was a
miserable home.

Yet, if any one _could_ have made happy a home in such a place, it would
have been Mrs Kenrick.  Never, I think, did a purer, a fairer, a
sweeter soul live on earth, or one more like the angels of heaven.  The
winning grace of her manners, the simple sweetness of her address, the
pathetic beauty and sadness of her face, would have won for her, and
_had_ won for her, in any other place but Fuzby, the love and admiration
which were her due.

  "She had a mind that envy could not but call fair."

But at Fuzby, from the dominant faction of Hugginson, and the small
vulgar-minded sets who always tried to brow-beat those who were poor,
particularly if their birth and breeding were gentle, she found nothing
but insulting coldness, or still more insulting patronage.  When first
she heard the marriage-bells clang out from the old church tower of her
home, and had walked by the side of her young husband, a glad and lovely
bride, she had looked forward to many happy years.  With _him_, at any
rate, it seemed that no place could be very miserable.  Poor lady! her
life had been one long martyrdom, all the more hard to bear because it
was made up for the most part of small annoyances, petty mortifications,
little recurring incessant bitternesses.  And now, during the seven
years of her widowhood, she had gained a calmer and serener atmosphere,
in which she was raised above the _possibility_ of humiliation from the
dwarfed natures and malicious hearts in the midst of which she lived.
They could hurt her feelings, they could embitter her days no longer.
To the hopes and pleasures of earth she had bidden farewell.  Still
young, still beautiful, she had reached the full maturity of Christian
life, meekly bearing the load of scorn, and disappointment, and poverty,
looking only for that rest which remaineth to the people of God.  In her
lonely home, with no friend at Fuzby to whom she could turn for counsel
or for consolation, shut up with the sorrows of her own lonely heart,
she often mused at the slight sources, the _little sins_ of others, from
which her misery had sprung; she marvelled at the mystery that man
should be to man "the sorest, surest ill."  Truly, it _is_ a strange
thought!  O! it is pitiable that, as though death, and want, and sin
were not enough, we too must add to the sum of human miseries by
despising, by neglecting, by injuring others.  We wound by our harsh
words, we dishonour by our coarse judgments, we grieve by our untender
pride, the souls for whom Christ died; and we wound most deeply, and
grieve most irreparably, the noblest and the best.

The one tie that bound her to earth was her orphan son--her hope, her
pride; all her affections were centred in that beautiful boy.  Now, if I
were writing a romance, I should of course represent that yearning
mother's affection as reciprocated with all the warmth and passion of
the boy's heart.  But it was not so.  Harry Kenrick did indeed love his
mother; he would have borne anything rather than see her suffer any
great pain; but his manners were too often cold, his conduct wilful or
thoughtless.  He did not love her--perhaps no child can love his
parents--with all the _abandon_ and intensity wherewith she loved him.
The fact is, a blight lay upon Kenrick whenever he was at home--the
Fuzby blight he called it.  He hated the place so much, he hated the
people in it so much, he felt the annoyances of their situation with so
keen and fretful a sensibility, that at Fuzby, even though with his
mother, he was never happy.  Even her society could not make up to him
for the detestation with which he not unnaturally regarded the village
and its inhabitants.  At school he was bright, warm-hearted, and full of
life; at home he seemed to draw himself into a shell of reserve and
coldness; and it was a deep unspoken trial to that gentle mother's heart
that she could not make home happy to the boy whom she so fondly loved,
and that even to her he seemed indifferent; for his manners--since he
had been to school and learned how very differently other boys were
circumstanced, and what untold pleasures centred for them in that word
"home"--were to her always shy and silent, appeared sometimes almost
harsh.

I wish I could represent it otherwise; but things are not often truly
represented in books; and is not this a very common as well as a very
tragic case?  Not even in her son could Mrs Kenrick look for happiness;
even his society brought with it trials almost as hard to bear as those
which his absence caused.  Yet no mother could have brought up her child
more wisely, more tenderly, with more undivided and devoted care.
Harry's _heart_ was true could she have looked into it; but at Fuzby a
cold, repellent manner fell on him like a mildew.  And Mrs Kenrick wept
in silence, as she thought--though it was not true--that even her own
son did not love her, or at least did not love her as she had hoped he
would.  It was the last bitter drop in that overflowing cup which it had
pleased God that she should be called upon to drink.

The boys drove up to the door of the little cottage.  It stood in a
garden, but as the garden was overlooked by Fuzbeians on all sides, it
offered few attractions, and was otherwise very small and plain.  They
were greeted by Mrs Kenrick's soft and pleasant voice.

"Well, dear Harry, I am delighted that you have brought back your
friend."

Harry's mind was pre-occupied with the poverty-stricken aspect which he
thought the house must present to his friend, and he did not answer her,
but said to Walter--

"Well, Walter, here is the hut we inhabit.  We have only one girl, as
servant.  I'll carry up the box.  I do pretty nearly everything but
clean the shoes."

Mrs Kenrick's eyes filled with sad tears at the bitter words; but she
checked them to greet Walter, who advanced and shook her by the hand so
cordially, and with a manner so respectfully affectionate, that he won
her heart at once.

"Harry has not yet learned," she said playfully, "that poverty is not a
thing to be ashamed of; but I am sure, Walter--forgive my using the name
which my boy has made so familiar to me--that you will not mind any
little inconveniences during your short stay with us."

"Oh, no, Mrs Kenrick," said Walter; "to be with you and him will be the
greatest possible enjoyment."

"I wish you wouldn't flap our poverty in every one's face, mother," said
Kenrick, almost angrily, when Walter had barely left the room.

"O Harry, Harry," said Mrs Kenrick, speaking sadly, "you surely forget,
dear boy, that it is your mother to whom you are speaking.  And was it I
who mentioned our poverty first?  O Harry, when will you learn to be
contented with the dispensations of God?  Believe me, dearest, we might
make our poverty as happy as any wealth, if we would but have eyes to
see the blessings it involves."  The boy turned away impatiently, and as
he ran upstairs to rejoin his friend, the lady sat down with a deep sigh
to her work.  It was long ere Kenrick learnt how much his conduct was to
blame; but long after, when his mother was dead, he was reminded
painfully of this scene, when he accidentally found in her handwriting
this extract from one of her favourite authors--

"It has been reserved for this age to perceive the blessedness of
another kind of poverty; not voluntary nor proud, but accepted and
submissive; not clear-sighted nor triumphant, but subdued and patient;
partly patient in tenderness--of God's will; partly patient in
blindness--of man's oppression; too laborious to be thoughtful, too
innocent to be conscious; too much experienced in sorrow to be hopeful--
waiting in its peaceful darkness for the unconceived dawn; yet not
without its sweet, complete, untainted happiness, like intermittent
notes of birds before the daybreak, or the first gleams of heaven's
amber on the eastern grey.  Such poverty as this it has been reserved
for this age of ours to honour while it afflicted; it is reserved for
the age to come to honour it and to spare."



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER.

  What, man!  I know them, yea,
  And what they weigh even to the utmost scruple;
  Scrambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,
  That lie, and cog, and flout, deprave, and slander.

  Much Ado about Nothing, act 5, scene 1.

Walter could not help hearing a part of this conversation, and he was
pained and surprised that Kenrick, whom he had regarded as so fine a
character, should show his worst side at home, and should speak and act
thus unkindly to one whom he was so deeply bound to love and reverence.
And he was even more surprised when he went downstairs again and looked
on the calm face of his friend's mother, so lovely, so gentle, so
resigned, and felt the charm of manners which, in their natural grace
and sweetness, might have shed lustre on a court.  All that he could
himself do was to show by his own manner to Mrs Kenrick the affection
and respect with which he regarded her.  When he hinted to Kenrick, as
delicately and distantly as he could, that he thought his manner to his
mother rather brusque, Kenrick reddened rather angrily, but only
replied, "Ah, it's all very well for you to talk; but you don't live at
Fuzby."

"Yet I've enjoyed my visit very much, Ken; you can't think how much I
love your mother."

"Thank you, Walter, for saying so.  But how would you like to _live
always_ at such a place?"

"If I did I should do my best to make it happy."

"Make it _happy_!" said Kenrick; and as he turned away he muttered
something about making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  Soon after he
told Walter some of those circumstances about his father's life which we
have recently related.  When the three days were over the boys started
for Saint Winifred's.  They drove to the station in the pony-chaise
before described, accompanied, against Kenrick's will, by his mother.
She bore up bravely as she bade them good-bye, knowing the
undemonstrative character of boys, and seeing that they were both in the
merriest mood.  She knew, too, that their gaiety was natural: the world
lay before _them_, bright and seductive as yet, with no shadow across
its light; nor was she all in all to Harry as he was to her.  He had
other hopes, and another home, and other ties; and remembering this she
tried not to grieve that he should leave her with so light a heart.  But
as she turned away from the platform when the train had started, taking
with it all that she held dearest in the world, and as she walked back
to the lonely home which had nothing but faith--for there was not even
hope--to brighten it, the quiet tears flowed fast over the fair face
beneath her veil.  Yet as she crossed over her lonely threshold her
thoughts were not even then for herself, but they carried her on the
wings of prayer to the throne of mercy for the beloved boy from whom she
was again to be separated for nearly five long months.

The widowed mother wept; but the boy's spirits rose as he drew closer to
the hills and to the sea, which told him that Saint Winifred's was near.
He talked happily with Walter about the coming half--eager with
ambition, with hope, with high spirits, and fine resolutions.  He
clapped his hands with pleasure when they reached the top of Bardlyn
Hill and caught sight of the school buildings.

Having had a long distance to travel they were among the late arrivals,
and at the great gate stood Henderson and Power ready to greet them and
the other boys who came with them in the same coach.  Among these were
Eden and Bliss.

"Ah, Eden," said Henderson, "I've been writing a poem about you--

  "I'm a shrimp, I'm a shrimp of diminutive size,
  Inspect my antennae and look at my eyes;
  Quick, quick, feel me quick, for cannot you see
  I'm a shrimp, I'm a shrimp, to be eaten with tea?"

"And who's this?--why," he said clasping his hands and throwing up his
eyes in mock rapture, "this indeed is Bliss!"

"I'll lick you, Flip," said Bliss, only in a more good-humoured tone
than usual, as he hit at him.

"I think I've heard that observation before," said Henderson, dodging
away.  "Ah, Walter, how do you do, my dear old fellow?  I hope you're
sitting on the throne of health, and reclining under the canopy of a
well-organised brain."

"More than you are, Flip," said Walter laughing.  "You seem madder than
ever."

"That he is," said Power; "since his return he's made on an average
fifteen thousand bad puns.  You ought to be grateful, though, for he and
I have got some coffee going for you in my study.  Come along; the
Familiar will see that your luggage is all right."

"Yes; and I shall make bold to bring in a shrimp to tea," said
Henderson, seizing hold of Eden.

"All right.  I meant to ask you, Eden," said Power, shaking the little
boy affectionately by the hand; "have you enjoyed the holidays?"

"Not very much," said Eden.

"You're not looking as bright as I should like," said Power; "never
mind; if you didn't enjoy the holidays you must enjoy the half."

"That I shall.  I hope, Walter, you'll be in the same dormitory still.
What shall I do if you're not?"

"O, how's that to be, Flip?" asked Walter; "you said you'd try to get
some of us put together in one dormitory.  That would be awfully jolly.
I don't want to leave you, Eden, and would like you to be moved too; but
I can't bear Harpour and that lot."

"I've partly managed it and partly failed," said Henderson.  "You and
the shrimp still stay with the rest of the set in Number 10, but as
there was a vacant bed I got myself put there too."

"Hurrah!" said Walter and Eden both at once; "that's capital."

"Let me see," said Walter; "there are Jones and Harpour--brutes
certainly both of them; and Cradock--well, he's rather a bargee, but
he's not altogether bad; and Anthony, and Franklin, who are both far
jollier than they used to be; indeed I like old Franklin very much; so
with you and Eden we shall get on famously."

The first few days of term passed very pleasantly.  The masters met the
boys in the kindliest spirit, and the boys, fresh from home and with the
sweet influences of home still playing over them, did not begin at once
to reweave the ravelled threads of evil school tradition.  They were all
on good terms with each other and with themselves, full of good
resolutions, cheerful, and happy.

All our boys had got their removes.  Walter had won a double remove and
was now under his friend Mr Percival.  Kenrick was in the second fifth,
and Power, young as he was, had now attained the upper fifth, which
stands next to the dignity of the monitors and the sixth.

The first Sunday of term was a glorious day of early spring, and the
boys, according to their custom, scattered themselves in various groups
in the grounds about Saint Winifred's School.  The favourite place of
resort was a broad green field at the back of the buildings, shaded by
noble trees, and half encircled by a bend of the river.  Here, on a fine
Sunday, between dinner and afternoon school, you were sure to find the
great majority of the boys walking arm in arm by twos and threes, or
sitting with books on the willow trunks that overhung the stream, or
stretched out at full length upon the grass, and lazily learning
Scripture repetition.

It was a sweet spot and a pleasant time; but Walter generally preferred
his beloved seashore; and on this afternoon he was sitting there talking
to Power, while Eden, perched on the top of a piece of rock close by,
kept murmuring to himself his afternoon lesson.  The conversation of the
two boys turned chiefly on the holidays which were just over, and Power
was asking Walter about his visit to Kenrick's house.

"How did you enjoy the visit, Walter?"

"Very much for some things.  Mrs Kenrick is the sweetest lady you ever
saw."

"But Ken is always abusing Fuzby--isn't that the name?"

"Yes; it isn't a particularly jolly place, certainly, but he doesn't
make the best of it; he makes up his mind to detest it."

"Why?"

"O, I don't know.  They didn't treat his father well.  His father was
curate of the place."

"As far as I've seen, Fuzby isn't singular in that respect.  It's no
easy thing in most places for a poor clergyman to keep on good terms
with his people."

"Yes; but Ken's father does seem to have been abominably treated."  And
Walter proceeded to tell Power the parts of Mr Kenrick's history which
Kenrick had told him.

When he had finished the story he observed that Eden had shut up his
book and was listening intently.

"Hallo, Arty," said Walter, "I didn't mean you to hear."

"Didn't you?  I'm so sorry.  I really didn't know you meant to be
talking secrets, for you weren't talking particularly low."

"The noise of the waves prevents that.  But never mind; I don't suppose
it's any secret.  Ken never told me not to mention it.  Only, of course,
you mustn't tell any one, you know, as it clearly isn't a thing to be
talked about."

"No," said Eden; "I won't mention it, of course.  So other people have
unhappy homes as well as me," he added in a low tone.

"What, isn't your home happy, Arty?" asked Power.

Eden shook his head.  "It used to be, but this holidays mamma married
again.  She married Colonel Braemar--and I _can't bear_ him."  The words
were said so energetically as to leave no doubt that he had some grounds
for the dislike; but Power said--

"Hush, Arty, you must try to like him.  Are you sure you know your Rep.
perfectly?"

"Yes."

"Then let's take a turn till the bell rings."

While this conversation was going on by the shore, a very different
scene was being enacted in the Croft, as the field was called which I
above described.

It happened that Jones, and one of his set, named Mackworth, were
walking up and down the Croft in one direction, while Kenrick and
Whalley, one of his friends, were pacing up and down the same avenue in
the opposite direction, so that the four boys passed each other every
five minutes.  The first time they met, Kenrick could not help noticing
that Jones and Mackworth nudged each other derisively as he passed, and
looked at him with a glance unmistakably impudent.  This rather
surprised him, though he was on bad terms with them both.  Kenrick had
not forgotten how grossly Jones had bullied him when he was a new boy,
and before he had risen out of the sphere in which Jones could dare to
bully him with impunity.  He was now so high in the school as to be well
aware that Jones would be nearly as much afraid to touch him as he
always was to annoy any one of his own size and strength; and Kenrick
had never hesitated to show Jones the quiet but quite measureless
contempt which he felt for his malice and meanness.  Mackworth was a
bully of another stamp; he was rather a clever fellow, set himself up
for an aristocrat on the strength of being second cousin to a baronet,
studied "De Brett's Peerage," dressed as faultlessly as Tracy himself,
and affected at all times a studious politeness of manner.  He had been
a good deal abroad, and as he constantly adopted the airs and the graces
of a fashionable person, the boys had felicitously named him French
Varnish.  But Mackworth was a dangerous enemy, for he had one of the
most biting tongues in the whole school, and there were few things which
he enjoyed more than making a young boy wince under his cutting words.
When Kenrick came to school, his wardrobe, the work of Fuzbeian artists,
was not only well worn--for his mother was too poor to give him new
clothes--but also of a somewhat odd cut; and accordingly the very first
words Mackworth had ever addressed to Kenrick were--

"You new fellow, what's your father?"

"My father is dead," said Kenrick in a low tone.

"Then what _was_ he?"

"He was curate of Fuzby."

"Curate was he; a slashing trade that," was the brutal reply.  "Curate
of Fuzby? are you sure it isn't Fusty?"

Kenrick looked at him with a strange glowing of the eyes, which, so far
from disconcerting Mackworth, only made him chuckle at the success of
his taunt.  He determined to exercise the lancet of his tongue again,
and let fresh blood if possible.

"Well, glare-eyes! so you didn't like my remark?"

Kenrick made no answer, and Mackworth continued--

"What charity-boy has left you his off-cast clothes?  May I ask if your
jacket was intended to serve also as a looking-glass? and is it the
custom in your part of the country not to wear breeches below the
knees?"

There was a corrosive malice in this speech so intense that Kenrick
never saw Mackworth without recalling the shame and anguish it had
caused.  Fresh from home, full of quick sensibility, feeling ridicule
with great keenness, Kenrick was too much pained by these words even for
anger.  He had hung his head and slunk away.  For days after, until, at
his most earnest entreaty, his mother had incurred much privation to
afford him a new and better suit, he had hardly dared to lift up his
face.  He had fancied himself a mark for ridicule, and the sense of
shabbiness and poverty had gone far to crush his spirit.  After a time
he recovered, but never since that day had he deigned to speak to
Mackworth a single word.

He was surprised, therefore, at the obtrusive impertinence of these two
fellows, and when next he passed them, he surveyed them from head to
foot with a haughty and indignant stare.  The moment after he heard them
burst into a laugh, and begin talking very loudly.

"It was the rummiest vehicle you ever saw," he heard Jones say; "a cart,
I assure you--nothing more or less, and drawn by the very scraggiest
scarecrow of a blind horse."

He caught no more as the distance between them lessened, but he heard
Jones bubbling over with a stupid giggle at some remark of Mackworth's
about _glare-eyes_ being drawn by a _blind_ horse.

"How rude those fellows are, Ken," said Whalley; "what do they mean by
it?"

"Dogs!" said Kenrick, stamping angrily, while his face was scarlet with
rage.

"If they're trying to annoy you, Ken," said Whalley, who was a very
gentle, popular boy, "don't give them the triumph of seeing that they
succeed.  They're only Varnish and White-Feather--we all know what
_they're_ like."

"Dogs!" said Kenrick again; "I should like to pitch into them."

"Let's leave them, and go and sit by the river, Ken."

"No, Whalley.  I'm sure they mean to insult me, and I want to hear how,
and why."

There was no difficulty in doing this, for Jones and his ally were again
approaching, and Jones was talking purposely loud.

"I never could bear the fellow; gives himself such airs."

"Yes; only fancy going to meet his friends in a hay-waggon!  What a
start!  He! he! he!"

"It's such impudence in a low fellow like that..." and here Kenrick lost
some words, for, as they passed, Jones lowered his voice; but he heard,
only too plainly, the words "father" and "dishonest parson"--the rest he
could supply with fatal facility.

For half an instant he stood paralysed, his eyes burning with fury, but
his face pale as ashes.  The next second he sprang upon Jones, seized
with both hands the collar of his coat, shook him, flung him violently
to the ground, and kicked his hat, which had fallen off in the struggle,
straight into the river.

"What the deuce do you mean by that?" asked Jones, picking himself up.
"I'll just give you--fifth-form, or no fifth-form--the best licking you
ever had."

"You'll just not presume to lay upon him the tip of your finger," said
Whalley, who was quite as big as Jones, and was very fond of Kenrick.

"Not for flinging me down and kicking my hat into the water?"

"No, Jones," said Whalley, quietly.  "I don't know what you were talking
about, but you clearly meant to insult him, from your manner."

"What's the row? what's up?" said a number of boys, who began to throng
round.

"Only a plebeian splutter of rage from our well-bred friend there," said
Mackworth, pointing contemptuously at Kenrick, who stood with dilated
nostrils, still heaving with rage.

"But what about?"

"Heaven only knows _apropos_ of just nothing."

"You're a liar," said Kenrick impetuously.  "You know that you told lies
and insulted me; and if you say it again, I'll do the same again."

"Only try," said Jones, in a surly tone.

"Insulted you?" said Mackworth in bland accents.  "We were talking about
a dishonest parson, as far as I remember.  Pray, are you a dishonest
parson?"

"You'd better take care," said Kenrick with fierce energy.

"Take care of what?  We didn't ask _you_ to listen to our conversation;
listeners hear no--"

"Bosh!" interposed Whalley; "you know you were talking at the top of
your voices, and we couldn't help hearing you."

"And what then?  Mayn't we talk as loud as we like?--I assure you, on my
word of honour," he said, turning to the group around them, "we didn't
even mention Kenrick's name.  We were merely talking about a certain
dishonest parson who rode in hay-carts, when the fellow sprang on Jones
like a tiger-cat.  I'm sure, if he's any objection to our talking of
such unpleasant people we won't do so in his hearing," said Mackworth,
in an excess of venomous politeness.

"French Varnish," said Whalley, with honest contempt, moved beyond his
wont with indignation, though he did not understand the cause of
Kenrick's anger.  "I wonder why Kenrick should even condescend to notice
what such fellows as you and Jones say.  Come along, Ken; you know what
we all think about those two;" and, putting his arm in Kenrick's, he
almost dragged him from the scene, while Jones and Mackworth (conscious
that there was not a single other boy who would not condemn their
conduct as infamous when they understood it) were not sorry to move off
in another direction.

But when Whalley had taken Kenrick to a quiet place by the river side,
and asked him "what had made him so furious?" he returned no answer,
only hiding his face in his hands.  He had indeed been cruelly insulted,
wounded in his tenderest sensibilities; he felt that his best affections
had been wantonly and violently lacerated.  It made him more miserable
than he had ever felt before, and he could not tolerate the wretched
thought that his father's sad history, probably in some distorted form,
had been, by some means or other, bruited about among unsympathising
hearers, and made the common property of the school.  He knew well
indeed the natural delicacy of feeling which would prevent any other
boy, except Jones or Mackworth, from ever alluding to it even in the
remotest way.  But that they should know at all the shameful charge
which had broken his father's heart, and brought temporary suspicion and
dishonour on his name, was gall and wormwood to him.

_Yet, by what possible means could, this have become known to them_?
Kenrick knew of one way only.  He thought over what Jones had said.  "A
cart and blind horse--ah!  I see; there is _only one person_ who could
have told him about that.  So, _Walter Evson_, you amuse yourself and
Jones by making fun of our being poor, and by ridiculing what you saw in
our house; a very good laugh you've all had over it in the dormitory,
I've no doubt."

Kenrick did not know that Jones had seen them from the window of the
railway-carriage, and that as he had been visiting an aunt at no great
distance, he had heard there the particulars of Mr Kenrick's history.
He clutched angrily at the conclusion, that _Walter_ had betrayed him,
and turned him into derision.  Naturally passionate, growing up during
the wilful years of opening boyhood without a father's wise control, he
did not stop to inquire, but leapt at once to a false and obstinate
inference.  "It must be so; it clearly _is_ so," he thought; "yet I
could not have believed it of him;" and he burst into a flood of bitter
and angry tears.

The fact was that Kenrick, though he would hardly have admitted it even
to himself, was in a particularly ready mood to take offence.  He had
observed that Walter disapproved of his manner towards his mother, and
his sensitive pride had already been ruffled by the fact that Walter had
exercised the moral courage of pointing out, though in the most delicate
and modest way, the brusquerie which he reprobated.  At the time he had
said little, but in reality this had made him very, very angry; and the
more so because he was jealous enough to fancy that he now stood second
only, or even third, in Walter's estimation, and that Power and
Henderson had deposed him from the place which he once held as his chief
friend; and that Walter had also usurped _his_ old place in _their_
affections.  This displeased him greatly, for he was not one who could
contentedly take the second place.  He could not have had a more
excellent companion than the manly and upright Whalley; but in his close
intimacy with him he had rather hoped to pique Walter, and show him that
his society was not indispensable to his happiness.  But Walter's open
and generous mind was quite incapable of understanding this unworthy
motive, and with feelings far better trained than those of Kenrick, he
never felt the slightest qualm of this small jealousy.

"Never mind, my dear fellow," said Whalley, patting him on the back;
"why should you care so much because two _such_ fellows as White-feather
and Varnish try to be impudent.  I shouldn't care the snap of a finger
for anything they could say."

"It isn't that, Whalley, it isn't that," said Kenrick proudly, drying
his tears.  "But how did those fellows know the things they were hinting
at?  Only one person ever heard them, and he must have betrayed them to
laugh at me behind my back.  It's _that_ that makes me miserable."

"But whom do you mean?"

"The excellent Evson," said Kenrick bitterly.  "And mark me, Whalley,
I'll never speak to him again."

"_Evson_," said Whalley, "I don't believe he's at all the fellow to do
it.  Are you certain?"

"Quite.  No one else could know the things."

"But surely you'll ask him first?"

"It's no use," answered Kenrick, gloomily; "but I _will_, in order that
he may understand that I have found him out."



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

A BROKEN FRIENDSHIP.

  Everard, Everard, which was the truest,
  God in the future, and Time will show,
  Ne'er will I stoop to defence or excuses--
  If you despise me--be it so!
  But, my Everard, still (for I love you)
  This to the end my prayer shall be--
  Ne'er may you be so sternly treated,
  Never be judged as you judge me.--F.

Kenrick did not happen to meet Walter during the remainder of that
Sunday, because Walter was chiefly sitting in Mr Percival's room, but
the next day, still nursing the smouldering fire of his anger, he
determined to get the first opportunity he could of meeting him, in
order that he might tax him with his supposed false friendship and
breach of confidence.

Accordingly, when school was over next day, he went with Whalley to look
for him in the playground.  Walter was walking with Henderson, never
dreaming that anything unpleasant was likely to happen.  Henderson was
the first to catch sight of them, and as he never saw Whalley without
chaffing him in some ridiculous way or other--for Whalley's charming
good humour made him a capital subject for a joke--he at once began, as
might have been expected, to sing--

  "O Whalley, Whalley up the bank,
  And Whalley, Whalley down the brae,
  And Whalley, Whalley, by yon burnside--"

whereupon his song was interrupted by Whalley's giving chase to him,
which did not end till he had been led a dance half round the school
buildings, while the ground was left clear for Kenrick's expostulations.

Walter came up to him as cordially as usual, but stopped short in
surprise, when he caught the scornful lowering expression of his
friend's face; but as Kenrick did not speak at once, he took him by the
hand, and said, "Why, Ken, what's the matter?"

Kenrick very coldly withdrew his hand.

"Evson, I came to ask you if--whether--if you've been telling to any of
the fellows all about me; all I told you about my father?"

As Walter instantly remembered that he had mentioned the story to Power,
he could not at once say "No," but was about to explain.

"Telling any of the fellows all about you and your father?" he repeated;
"I didn't know--"

"Please, I don't want any excuses.  If you haven't, it's easy to say
`No'; if you _have_, I only want you to say `Yes.'"

"But you never told me that I wasn't to--"

"Yes or no?" said Kenrick, with an impatient gesture.

"Well, I suppose I must say `Yes,' then; but hear me explain.  I only
mentioned it to--"

"That's enough, thank you.  I don't want to hear any more.  I don't want
to know whom you mentioned it to;" and Kenrick turned short on his heel,
and began to walk off.

"But hear me, Ken," said Walter eagerly, walking after him, and laying
his hand on his shoulder.

"My name's Kenrick," said he, shaking off Walter's hand.  "You may
apologise if you like; but even then I shan't speak to you again."

"I have nothing to apologise for.  I only told--"

"I tell you I don't care whom you `only' told.  It's `only' all over the
school.  And it's not the `only' time you've behaved dishonourably."

"I don't understand you," said Walter, who was rapidly getting into as
great a passion as Kenrick.

"Betraying confidence is _almost_ as bad as breaking open desks, and
burning--" Such a taunt, coming from Kenrick, was base and cruel, and he
knew it to be so.

"Thank you for the allusion," said Walter; "I deserve it, I own, but I'm
surprised, Kenrick, that _you_, of all others; should make it.  _That_,
I admit, was an act of sin and strange folly for which I must always
feel humiliated, and implore to be forgiven.  And every generous person
_has_ long ago forgiven me and forgotten it.  But in _this_ case, if you
weren't in such a silly rage, I could show you that I've done nothing
wrong.  Only I know you wouldn't listen _now_, and I shan't
condescend--"

"_Condescend_!  I like that," said Kenrick, interrupting him with a
scornful laugh, which made Walter's blood tingle.  "_You_ condescend to
_me_, forsooth."  Higher words might have ensued, but at this moment
Henderson, still pursued by Whalley, came running up, and seeing that
something had gone wrong, he said to Kenrick--

"Hallo, Damon! what has Pythias been saying to you?"

Kenrick vouchsafed no answer, but turning his back on them, went off
abruptly.

"He's very angry with you, Evson," said Whalley, "because he thinks
you've been telling Jones and that lot his family secrets."

"I've done nothing whatever of the kind," said Walter, indignantly.  "I
admit that I did thoughtlessly mention it to Power; and one other
overheard me.  It never occurred to me for a moment that Kenrick would
mind.  You know I wouldn't dream of speaking about it ill-naturedly, and
if that fellow wasn't blind with rage I could have explained it to him
in about five minutes."

"If you merely mentioned it to Power, I'm sure Kenrick would not so much
mind.  I'll tell him about it when he's cooler," said Whalley.

"As you like, Whalley; Kenrick has no business to suspect me in that
shameful way, and to abuse me, and treat me as if I was quite beneath
his notice, and cast old faults in my teeth," answered Walter, with deep
vexation.  "Let him find out the truth for himself.  He can, if he takes
the trouble."

Both the friends were thoroughly angry with each other; each of them
imagined himself deeply wronged by the other, and each of them, in his
irritation, used strong and unguarded expressions which lost nothing by
repetition.  Thus the "rift of difference" was cleft deeper and deeper
between them; and, chiefly through Kenrick's pride and precipitancy, a
disagreement which might at first have been easily adjusted became a
serious, and threatened to become a permanent, quarrel.

"Power, did you repeat what I told you about Kenrick to any one?" asked
Walter, next time he met him.

"Repeat it?" said Power; "why, Walter, do you suppose I would?  What do
you take me for?"

"All right, Power; I know that you couldn't do such a thing; but Kenrick
declares I've spread it all over the school, and has just been abusing
me like a pickpocket."  Walter told him the circumstances of the case,
and Power, displeased for Walter's sake, and sorry that two real friends
should be separated by what he could not but regard as a venial error on
Walter's part, advised him to write a note to Kenrick and explain the
true facts of the case again.

"But what's the use, Power?" said Walter; "he would not listen to my
explanation, and said as many hard things of me as he could."

"Yes, in a passion.  He'll be sorry for them directly he's calm; for you
know what a generous fellow he is.  You can forgive them, I'm sure,
Walter, and win the pleasure of being the first to make an advance."

Walter, after a little struggle with his resentment, wrote a note, and
gave it to Whalley to give to Kenrick next time he saw him.  It ran as
follows:--

  "My dear Kenrick,--I think you are a little hard upon me.  Who can
  have told Jones anything about you and your home secrets I don't know.
  He _could_ not have learnt them through me.  It's true I did mention
  something about your father to Power when I was talking in the most
  affectionate way about you.  I'm very sorry for this, but I never
  dreamt it would make you so angry.  Power is the last person to repeat
  such a thing.  Pray forgive me, and believe me always to be--

  "Your affectionate friend, Walter Evson."

Kenrick's first impulse on receiving this note was to seek Walter on the
earliest occasion, and "make it up" with him in the sincerest and
heartiest way he could.  But suddenly the sight of Jones and Mackworth
vividly reminded his proud and sensitive nature of the scene that had
caused him such acute pain.  He did not see how Jones _could_ have
learnt about the vehicle, at any rate, without Walter having laughed
over it to some one.  Instead of seeking further explanation, or
thinking no evil and hoping all things, he again gave reins to his anger
and suspicion, and wrote:--

  "I am bound to believe your explanation as far as it goes.  But I have
  reason to _know_ that _something_ more must have passed than what you
  admit yourself to have said.  I am astonished that you should have
  treated me so unworthily.  I would not have done so to you.  I will
  try to forget this unpleasant business; but it is only in a sense that
  I can sign myself again.

  "Your affectionate friend.  H. Kenrick."

Walter had not expected this cold, ungracious reply.  When Whalley gave
him Kenrick's note he tore it open eagerly, anticipating a frank renewal
of their former friendship; but a red spot rose to his cheeks as he saw
the insinuation that he had not told the whole truth, and as he tore up
the note, he indignantly determined to take no further step towards a
reconciliation.

Yet as he thought how many pleasant hours they had spent together, and
how firmly on the whole Kenrick had stood by him in his troubles, and
how lovable a boy he really was, Walter could not but grieve over this
difference.  He found himself often yearning to be on the old terms with
Kenrick; he felt that at heart he still loved him well; and after a few
days he again stifled all pride, and wrote:--

  "Dear Ken,--Is it possible that you will not believe my word?  If you
  still feel any doubt about what I have said, do come and see me in
  Power's study.  I am sure that I would convince you in five minutes
  that you must be under some mistake; and if I have done you any wrong,
  or if you _think_ that I have done you any wrong, Ken, I'll apologise
  sincerely without any pride or reserve.  I miss your society very
  much, and I still am and shall be, whatever you may think and whatever
  you may say of me.--Yours affectionately, W.E."

As he naturally did not wish any third person to know what was passing
between them he did not entrust this note to any one, but himself placed
it between the leaves of an Herodotus which he knew that Kenrick would
use at the next school.  He had barely put it there when a boy who
wanted an Herodotus happened to come into the classroom, and seeing
Kenrick's lying on the table, coolly walked off with it, after the
manner of boys, regardless of the inconvenience to which the owner might
be put.  As this boy was reading a different part of Herodotus from that
which Kenrick was reading, Walter's note lay between the leaves where it
had been placed, unnoticed.  When the book was done with, the boy forgot
it, and left it in school, where, after kicking about for some days
unowned, it was consigned, with other stray volumes, to a miscellaneous
cupboard, where it lay undisturbed for years.  Kenrick supposed that it
was lost, or that some one had "bagged" it; and, unknown to Walter, his
note never reached the hands for which it had been destined.  In vain he
waited for a reply; in vain he looked for some word or sign to show that
Kenrick had received his letter.  But Kenrick still met him in perfect
silence, and with averted looks; and Walter, surprised at his obstinate
unkindness, thought that he _could_ do nothing more to disabuse him of
his false impression, and was the more ready to forego a friendship
which by every honourable means he had endeavoured to retain.

Poor Kenrick! he felt as much as Walter did that he had lost one of his
truest and most pleasant friends, and he, too, often yearned for the old
intercourse between them.  Even his best friends, Power, Henderson, and
Whalley, all thought him wrong; and in consequence a coolness rose
between them and him.  He felt thoroughly miserable, and did not know
where to turn; yet none the less he ostentatiously abstained from making
the slightest overture to Walter; and whereas the two boys might have
enjoyed together many happy hours, they felt a continual embarrassment
at being obliged to meet each other very frequently in awkward silence,
and apparent unconsciousness of each other's presence.  This silent
annoyance recurred continually at all hours of the day.  They threw away
the golden opportunity of smoothing and brightening for each other their
schoolboy years.  It is sad that since true friends are so few, such
slight differences, such trivial misunderstandings, should separate them
for years.  If a man's penitence for past follies be humble and sincere,
his crimes and failings may well be buried in a generous oblivion; but,
alas! his own friends, and they of his own household, are too often _the
last_ to forgive and to forget.  Too often they do not condone the fault
till years of unhappiness and disappointment have intervened; till the
wounds which they have inflicted are cicatrised; till the sinner's
loneliness has taught him to look for other than human sympathy; till he
is too old, too sorrowful, too heartbroken, too near the Great White
Throne, to expect any joy from human friendship, or any consolation in
human love.

Twice did chance throw the friends into situations in which a
reconciliation would have been easy.  Once, when the school was
assembled to hear the result of some composition prizes, they found
themselves accidentally seated, one on each side of Power.  The mottoes
on the envelopes which were sent in with the successful exercises were
always read out before the envelope was opened, and in one of the prizes
for which there had been many competitors, the punning motto, Ezousiazo,
told them at once that Power had again achieved a brilliant success.
The Great Hall was always a scene for the triumphs of this happy boy.
Both Walter and Kenrick turned at the same moment to congratulate him,
Walter seizing his right-hand and Kenrick his left.  Power, after
thanking them for their warm congratulations, grasped both their hands,
and drew them towards each other.  Kenrick was aware of what he meant,
and his heart fluttered as he now hoped to regain a lost friend; but
just at that moment Walter's attention happened to be attracted by Eden,
who, though sitting some benches off, wished to telegraph his
congratulations to Power.  Unfortunately, therefore, Walter turned his
head away, before he knew that Kenrick's hand was actually touching his.
He did not perceive Power's kind intention until the opportunity was
lost; and Kenrick, misinterpreting his conduct, had flushed with sudden
pride, and hastily withdrawn his hand.  On the second occasion Walter
had gone up the hill to the churchyard, by the side of which was a
pleasant stile, overshadowed by aged elms, on which he often sat reading
or enjoying the breeze and the view.  It suddenly occurred to him that
he would look at Daubeny's grave, to see if the stone had yet been put
up.  He found that it had just been raised, and he was sorrowfully
reading the inscription, when a footstep roused him from his mournful
recollections.  A glance showed him that Kenrick was approaching,
evidently with the same purpose.  He came slowly to the grave and read
the epitaph.  Their eyes met in a friendly gaze.  A sudden impulse to
reconciliation seized them both, and they were on the verge of shaking
hands, when three boys came sauntering through the churchyard--one of
them was the ill-omened Jones.  The association jarred on both their
minds, and turning away without a word they walked home in different
directions.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

EDEN'S TROUBLES.

  Et tibi quae Samios diduxit littera ramos,
  Surgentem dextro monstravit limite callem.

  Pers. three 56.

  There has the Samian Y's instructive make,
  Pointed the road thy doubtful foot should take;
  There warned thy raw and yet unpractised youth,
  To tread the rising right-hand path of truth.

  Brewster.

They went home in different directions, and morally too their paths
henceforth were widely diverse.  The Pythagoreans chose the letter Y as
their symbol for a good and evil life.  The broad, sloping, almost
perpendicular left-hand stroke is an apt emblem for the facile downward
descent into Avernus; the precipitous and narrow right-hand stroke aptly
presents the slippery, uphillward struggle of a virtuous course I
remember to have seen, as a child, another and a similar emblem which
impressed me much.  On the one side of the picture a snail was slowly
creeping up a steep path; on the other a stag rushed and bounded
unrestrained down the sheer proclivities of a wide and darkening hill.
Improvement is ever slow and difficult; degeneracy is too often
startling rapid.  From henceforth, as we shall have occasion to see
hereafter, Walter was progressing from strength to strength, adding to
faith virtue, and to virtue temperance, and to temperance knowledge, and
to knowledge brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity--

  "Springing from crystal step to crystal step
  Of the bright air--;"

while our poor Kenrick was gradually descending deeper and deeper into
darkness and despair.

Yet he loved Walter, and sighed for the old intimacy, while he was daily
abusing his character and affecting to scorn his conduct.  In short, a
change came over Kenrick.  There had always been a little worm at the
root of his admiration of and affection for Walter.  It was jealousy.
He did not like to hear him praised so loudly by his friends and
schoolfellows; and besides this he was vexed that Walter, Henderson, and
Power, were more closely allied to each other than to him.  He had
struggled successfully against these unworthy feelings so long as Walter
was his friend, but now that he had allowed himself to seek a quarrel
with him they grew up with tremendous luxuriance.  And he was so
thoroughly in the wrong, and so obstinate in persisting to misunderstand
and misrepresent his former friend, that gradually, by his pertinacity
and injustice, he alienated the regard of all those who had once been
his chosen companions.  Even Whalley grew cool towards him.  He had to
look elsewhere for associates, and unhappily he looked in the wrong
direction.

Meanwhile Walter, although he constantly grieved at the loss of a
friend, was otherwise very happy.  The boys at Saint Winifred's were not
overworked; there was enough work to stimulate but not to oppress them,
and Walter's work grew more promising every day.  He was fond of praise,
and Mr Percival, while he always took care so to praise him as to
obviate the danger of conceit, was not so scant of his approbation as
most men are.  His warm and generous appreciation encouraged and
rewarded Walter's exertions, so that he was quite the "star" of his
form.  Many other boys did well under Mr Percival.  There was a bright
and cheerful emulation among them all, and they took especial pains with
their exercises, which Mr Percival varied in every possible way, so as
to call out the imagination and the fancy, to exercise both the reason
and the understanding, and to test the powers of attention and research.
His method was so successful that it was often a real pleasure to look
over the exercises of his form, and he had adopted one plan for keeping
up the boys' interest in them, which was eminently useful.  All the
_best_ exercises, if they attained to any positive excellence, were sent
to Dr Lane; and at the end of the half-year, a number, printed opposite
to the boy's name, showed how often he had thus been "sent up for good."
If in one fortnight _four_ separate exercises were so sent up, the form
obtained, by this proof of industry, the remission of an hour's work,
and as this honour could never be cheaply won it was highly prized.  Now
two or three times Walter's unusually brilliant exercises had been the
chief contribution towards winning these remitted hours, and this
success caused him double happiness, because it necessarily made him a
general favourite with the form.  Henderson (who had only got a single
remove at the beginning of the term, but had worked so hard in his new
form that he had succeeded in his purpose of winning a remove _during_
the term, and so being again in the same division with Walter) did his
best to earn the same distinction, but he only succeeded when the
exercise happened to be an English one, and on a subject which gave some
opportunity for his sense of the ludicrous.  He generally contrived to
introduce some purely fictitious "Eastern Apologue" as he called it; and
as he rarely managed to keep the correct Oriental colouring, his
combinations of Sultans, Tchokadars, Odaliques, and white bears, were
sometimes so inexpressibly absurd that Mr Percival, to avoid fits of
laughter, was obliged to look over his exercises alone.  Nor were his
eccentricities always confined to his English themes; his Latin verses
were occasionally no less extraordinary, and in one set, on the suicide
of Ajax, the last few lines consisted of fragmentary words interspersed
here and there with numerous stars--a phenomenon which he explained to
Mr Percival in the gravest manner possible, by saying that here the
voice of Ajax was interrupted by sobs!

Happy in his work, Walter was no less happy in his play.  The glorious
mid-day bathes on the hard sparkling yellow sands when the sea was
smooth as the blue of heaven, and clear as transparent glass--the long
afternoons on the green and sunny cricket field--the strolls over the
mountains, and lazy readings under a tree in the fragrant fir-groves--
all invigorated him, and gave to his face the health, and to his heart
the mirth, which told of an innocent life and a vigorous frame.

But it must not be supposed that he escaped troubles of his own, and his
first trouble rose out of the kind boyish protectorate which he had
established over little Eden's interests.

His rescue of Eden from the clutches of a bad lot was one of Walter's
proudest and gladdest reminiscences.  Instead of moping about miserable
and lonely, and rapidly developing into a rank harvest the evil seeds
which his tormentors had tried to plant in his young heart, Eden was now
the gayest of the gay.  Secure from most annoyances by possessing the
refuge of Power's study, and the certainty of Walter's help, he soon
began to assert his own position among all the boys of his own age and
standing.  No longer crushed and intimidated by bullying and bad
companions, he was lively, happy, and universally liked, but never
happier than when Walter and Power admitted him, as they constantly did,
into their own society.

Harpour and Jones, in their hatred against Walter, had an especial
reason to keep Eden as far as they could under subjection, in addition
to their general propensity to bully and domineer.  They did not care to
torment him when Walter was present, because with him, in spite of their
hostility, they felt it wise to maintain an armed neutrality.  But
whenever Walter was absent, they felt themselves safe.  None of the
other boys in their dormitory interfered except Henderson, and his
interposition, though always generous, was both morally and physically
weaker than Walter's.  He would not, indeed, allow any positive cruelty,
but he was not thoughtful or stable enough to see the duty of
interfering to prevent other and hardly less tolerable persecutions.

It so happened that at a game of cricket Walter by accident had received
a blow on the knee from the cricket-ball bowled by Franklin, who was a
tremendously hard and swift bowler.  The hurt which this had caused was
so severe that he was ordered by Dr Keith to sleep on the ground-floor
in the cottage for a fortnight, in order to save him the exertion of
running up and down so many stairs.  The opportunity of this prolonged
absence was maliciously seized by the tyrants of Number 10; but Eden
bore up far more manfully than he had done in the old days.  He was
quite a different, and a far braver little fellow, thanks to Walter,
than he had been the term before; and, looking forward to his friend's
speedy return, he determined to bear his troubles without saying a word
about them.  He was far more bullied during this period than Henderson
knew of, for some of the threats and commands by which he was coerced
were given in Henderson's absence, as he was allowed to sit up half an
hour later than those in the form below.  For instance, Eden was ordered
never to look at a book or to finish learning his lessons in the
bedroom; and he was strictly forbidden to get up until the second bell
rang in the morning.  If he disobeyed these orders, he was soused with
water, pelted with shoes, and beaten with slippers, and on the whole he
found it better to be content to lose place in form, and to get
impositions for missing chapel, than to attempt to brave these
hindrances.  When, however, he had been late two mornings running,
Henderson got the secret out of him, and at once entreated Harpour and
Jones to abandon this cruelty, throwing out hints that if they refused,
he would take some measures to get it stopped by one of the monitors.
If Eden had been plucky enough to embrace his natural right of obtaining
protection from one of his own schoolfellows in the sixth, he would have
been efficiently defended.  Appealing to a monitor in order to secure
immunity from disgraceful and wholly intolerable bullying is a very
different thing from telling a master; and although the worst boys tried
to get it traditionally regarded as an unmitigated form of sneaking, yet
the public opinion of the best part of the school would have been found
to justify it.  But the two bullies knew that Eden would never have the
heart to venture on this appeal; and although they desisted from this
particular practice at Henderson's request, they knew that he was too
wavering a character, and too fond of popularity to be _easily_ induced
to make them his open enemies.  If Eden had only told Walter, he knew
that Walter would have sheltered him from unkindness at all hazards; but
he was a thoroughly grateful child, and did not wish to get Walter into
any difficulties on his account.  So, in schoolboy phrase, there was
nothing left for him but to "grin and bear it;" which he heroically did,
earnestly longing for Walter's return to the dormitory as for some
golden age.  But his trials were not over yet.

Is there in human nature an instinctive cruelty?  That there is in
it--_when ill-trained_--an absorbing selfishness, a total absence of all
tenderness and delicate consideration, is abundantly obvious.  But
besides this, there is often an astonishing and almost incredible
tendency to take positive pleasure in the infliction of pain.  Now it so
happens that Jones and Harpour were bad boys, as I have shown already,
in the worst sense of the word, and yet the real _enjoyment_ which they
felt in making little Eden's life miserable is an inexplicable
phenomenon.  One would have thought that the mere sight of the little
boy, his tender age; his delicate look, his extreme gentleness and
courtesy of manner, and the mute appealing glance in his blue eyes,
would have sufficed to protect him from wanton outrage.  It _did_
suffice with most boys; but if anything, it added zest and piquancy to
the persecutions of those two big bullies.

Reader, have you ever been "taken prisoner?" that is to say, have you
ever been awaked from a sweet sleep by feeling an intolerable agony in
your right toe, and finding that it is caused by somebody having tied a
string tight round it without waking you, and then pulling the said
string with all his force?  If not, congratulate yourself thereupon, and
accept the assurance of one who has undergone it, that the pain caused
by this process is absolutely excruciating.  It was this pain which made
Eden start up with a scream during one of the nights I speak of, and the
cry rose in intensity as he grew fully awake to the sensation.

"Hallo! what's the row, Eden?" said Henderson, starting up in bed; but
the child could only continue his screams, and Henderson, springing out
of bed stumbled against the string, and instantly (for the trick was a
familiar one) knew what was being done.  As quick as thought he seized
the string with his right-hand and, by pulling it _towards_ Eden,
slackened the horrible tension of it, while with his left-hand he
rapidly took out a knife from his coat pocket and cut the cord in two.

Jones and Harpour, tittering at the success of their machination, were
standing with the string in their hands just outside the door in the
passage, and the sudden jerk showed them that the string was severed.

"I'll tell you what it is," said Henderson to them, with the most
deliberate emphasis, "I don't care if you do lick me for telling you the
truth, but you two are just a couple of the greatest brutes in the
school."

"What's the matter, Flip?" asked Franklin, from his bed, in a drowsy
tone.

"Matter! why those two _brutes_," said Henderson, with strong
indignation, "have been taking poor little Eden prisoner, and hurting
him awfully."

"What a confounded shame!" said Franklin and Anthony in one voice; for
they, too, though they were sturdy fellows, had had some experience of
the bullies in their earlier school days; and of late, following
Walter's example, they had always energetically opposed this
maltreatment of Eden.

"Draw it mild, you three, or we'll kick you," said Harpour.

"But we won't draw it mild," said Franklin; "it's quite true; you and
Jones _are_ brutes to bully that poor little fellow so.  He never hurt
you."

"What an uppish lot you nips are," said Harpour; "it's all that fellow
Evson's doing.  Hang me, if I don't take it out of you;" and he advanced
with a slipper in his hand towards Franklin.

"Touch him if you dare," said Henderson; "if you do Anthony and I will
stick by him; and, Cradock, you'll see fair play, won't you?"

"Pooh," said Cradock.  "I'm asleep.  Fight it out by yourselves."

"Never mind these little fools, Harpour," said Jones; "they're beneath
your notice.  Besides, it's time to turn off to sleep."  For Jones had
earned his soubriquet by always showing a particularly large white
feather when there was any chance of a fray.

"Phew, Jones; none of us would give much for _you_," said Henderson
contemptuously.  "_Little_ fools, indeed!  You know very well that _you_
daren't lay a finger on the least of us, whether we're beneath your
notice or no.  An ostrich is a big bird, but its white feathers are
chiefly of use in helping it to run away."  He went to Eden's bedside,
for the child was still sobbing with pain, and was evidently in a great
state of nervous agitation.

"Never mind, Eden," he said, in a kind and soothing voice; "think no
more of it; we won't let them take you prisoner again."  And as he spoke
he took his place by Eden's side, and looked with angry defiance at the
two bullies.

"Those fellows hurt me so," said Eden, in an apologetic tone, bravely
trying to check his tears.  "Oh, I wish Evson would come back."

"He is coming back in a night or two; his knee is nearly well.  I
haven't helped you enough, poor little fellow.  I'm so sorry.  I say,
you _brutes_," he continued, raising his voice, "next time you bully
Eden, I'll tell Somers as sure as fate."

"Tell away then," jeered Harpour; "better go and tell him before your
shoes wear out."

"Ah, you'll change your tone, Master Harpour, when you've been well
whopped," answered Henderson.

"I should like to see Somers or any one else whop me," said Harpour, in
an extremely "Ercles vein"; "by Jove!  Lane himself shouldn't do it."

"Oh, indeed!"

"I'll `oh, indeed,' you!" said Harpour, getting out of bed; but here
Cradock interfered, seized Harpour with his brawny arm, and said--

"There, that's badgering enough for one night.  Do let a fellow go to
sleep."

Harpour got into bed again, and Henderson, once more reassuring Eden
that he should not be again molested, followed his example.  But, half
with fright and half with pain, the poor boy lay awake most of the
night, and when he _did_ fall asleep he constantly started up again with
troubled dreams.

Next morning the two parties in the dormitory would hardly speak to each
other.  They rose at daggers drawn, and in the highest dudgeon.
Henderson was glad Anthony and Franklin had openly espoused the right
side, and was pleased at _anything_ which drew them out of the
pernicious influence of the other two.  This wasn't by any means a
pleasant state of things for Jones and Harpour, and it made them hate
Eden, the innocent cause of it, more than ever.  Moreover, Harpour who
was not accustomed to be openly bearded, did not choose to let the reins
of despotism slip so easily out of his hands, and he determined to
avenge himself yet, and to show that neither entreaties nor threats
should prevent him from being as great a bully as he chose.

"Understand _you_, Henderson," he said, while they were dressing; "that
I shall do exactly what I like to that little muff there."

Eden reddened and said nothing; but Henderson, looking up from his
wash-hand basin, replied--"And understand _you_, Harpour, that if you
bully him any more, I'll tell the head of the school."

Harpour made a spring at Henderson to thrash him for these words, but
again the burly Cradock interposed by saying, good-humouredly, as he put
himself in Harpour's way, "There, stop squabbling, for goodness' sake,
you two, and let's have a little peace.  Flip, you shut up."



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

TO THE RESCUE.

  Alas! how easily things go wrong!

  And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
  And life is _never_ the same again!

  George Macdonald, _Phantastes_.

Eden felt an immeasurable delight when Walter was allowed to come back
to the dormitory, and now he thought himself happy in a perfect security
from further torment.

But the two tyrants had other views.  Harpour, at once passionate and
dogged, was not likely to forget that he had been thwarted and defied;
and if he had been so inclined, Jones would have not allowed him to do
so, but kept egging him on to show his contempt for the younger and
weaker boys who had tried to check his bullying propensities.  On the
last occasion when he had ordered Eden to go to Dan's, Eden had taken
Walter's advice, and firmly refused to go.  Harpour did not think it
safe to compel him, but he threw out some significant threats, which
filled the little boy with vague alarm and weighed heavily on his
spirits.  He did not tell any one of these threats, hoping that they
would end in nothing, and, in case of any emergency, trusting implicitly
on Walter for a generous and efficient protection.

But the threats did _not_ end in nothing.

One night, after the others had fallen asleep, Eden, feeling quite free
from all anxiety, was sleeping more soundly and sweetly than he had done
for a fortnight, when a blaze of light, flashing suddenly upon his eyes,
made him start up in his bed.  Harpour and Jones were taking this
opportunity to fulfil their threat of frightening him.  At the foot of
his bed stood a figure in white, with a hideous, deformed head, blotched
with scarlet; bending over him was another white figure, with an
enormous black face, holding over its head a shining hand.

In an instant the boy fell back, pale as death, uttering a shriek so
shrill and terrible, so full of wildness and horror, that every other
boy in the dormitory sprang up, alarmed and wide awake.

Walter and Henderson leaped out of bed immediately; and to Walter, who
was unprepared, the start of surprise at what he saw was so sudden, that
for a moment he stood absolutely paralysed and bewildered, because the
shock on the nerves had preceded the recognition, though by an
infinitesimally short time.  But Henderson, who knew how Jones and
Harpour had been going on, and what their threats had been, instantly,
and before the abrupt and unusual spectacle had power to unnerve him,
saw the true state of the case, and, springing out upon the figure which
stood at the end of Eden's bed, tore the mask away, stripped off the
sheet, and displayed Jones's face before he had time to hide it,
administering, as he did so, a hearty blow on Jones's chest, which made
that hero stagger several paces back.

Although Walter saw almost at once the trick that was being played with
masks, sheets, and phosphorus, yet the sudden shock upon his nerves not
being _absolutely co-instantaneous_ with the discovery, produced on him
the effect of utter dizziness and horror.  Henderson's prompt and
vigorous onslaught aroused him to a sense of the position, and with a
fierce expression of disgust and anger, he bounded upon Harpour, who,
being thus suddenly attacked, dropped upon the floor the dark lantern
which he held, and hastily retreated, flinging the sheet over Walter's
head.

Walter had barely disentangled himself from the folds of the sheet, when
an exclamation from Henderson attracted the notice of all the boys in
the room, and brought them flocking round Eden's bed.  Henderson had
picked up the dark lantern, and was kneeling with it over the
unconscious boy, whose face was so ashy white, and who, after several
sharp screams, had sunk into so deep a swoon, that Henderson, unused to
such sights, naturally exclaimed--

"Good God! you've killed him."

"Killed him?" repeated the others, standing aghast.

"Pooh! he's only fainted, you little fools," said Jones, who hurried up
to look in Eden's face.  "Here, we'll soon bring him too; Harpour, just
get us some water."

"You shan't touch him, you shan't come near him," said Walter furiously;
"stand back, you hateful bullies.  Henderson and I will attend to him;
and, depend upon it, you shall give account for this soon.  What! you
_will_ come?" he continued, shaking Jones's arm violently, and then
flinging him back as easily as though he had been a child; "if either
you or Harpour come near the bed I'll fetch Robertson instantly.  Eden
would go off again in a swoon, if he saw such brutes as you when he
recovered."

In such a mood Walter was not to be resisted.  The two plotters, picking
up their masks, retired somewhat crestfallen, and sat down on their
beds, while the rest, with the utmost tenderness, adopted every means
they knew to recall Eden's fluttered and agitated senses.

But his swoon was deeper than they could manage, and, growing too
violently alarmed to trust themselves any longer, Henderson and Walker
proposed to carry him to the sickroom, and put him at once under the
care of Dr Keith.  It was in vain that Jones and Harpour entreated,
threatened, implored them to delay a little longer, lest by taking Eden
to the sickroom, their doings should be discovered.  Wholly disregarding
all they said, the two boys uplifted their still fainting friend, and
when Harpour attempted to interfere between them and the door, Cradock
and Franklin, now _thoroughly_ sickened by their proceedings, pulled him
aside and let them pass.

Dr Keith instantly administered to Eden a restorative, and after
receiving from Walter a hurried explanation of the circumstances, gently
told the boys that they would be only in the way there, that Eden was
evidently in a critical position, and that they had better return at
once to their dormitories.

Walter and Henderson, when they returned, were assailed by the others
with eager inquiries, to which they could only give gloomy and uncertain
answers.  They would not vouchsafe to take the slightest notice of Jones
or Harpour, but met all their remarks with resolute silence.  But before
he went to sleep, Walter said, "I may as well let you fellows know that
I intend to report you to Somers to-morrow."

"Then you'll be a damned sneak," observed Harpour.

"It is not sneaking to prevent brutal bullying like yours, by giving
others the chance of stopping it, and preventing little chaps like poor
Eden, whom you've nearly frightened to death, from being so shamefully
treated.  Anyhow, sneaking, or not, I'll do it."

"If you do tell Somers, look out for yourself--that's all."

"I'm not afraid," was the brief retort.

Harpour knew that he meant what he said, and, being now desperate, he
got up half an hour earlier next morning to try and extort from him, by
main force, a promise to hold his tongue about the affair of the night
before.  If he had at all understood Walter's character, he might have
saved himself this very superfluous trouble.

Walter was awakened by a shake from Harpour, who, with Jones, was
standing by his head.  He saw what was coming, for Harpour, who had a
pair of braces tightly knotted in his hand, briefly opened the
proceedings by saying, "Are you going to sneak about me, or not?"

"To sneak--no; to tell the head of the school--yes."

"Then, by Jove, you shall have something worth telling; I'll take my
revenge out of you beforehand.  I shall be sent away--think of that."

"So much the better.  One bully the less."

"Oh, that's your tune?  Take that."  The buckle of the brace descended
sharply on Walter's back, drawing blood; the next instant he had wrested
it out of Harpour's hand, and returned the blow.

The scuffle had awakened the rest.  Walter jumped out of bed, and was
hurrying on his trousers and slippers, when Harpour knocked him down.

"Fair play, Harpour," said Henderson and Franklin, angrily seizing
Harpour's arms; "you're surely not going to fight him, Walter?"

"Yes; see fair play, you fellows; Cradock, you will, won't you?  Fair
play is all I want.  Flip, you see that Jones tries no mean dodge.  Now,
Harpour, are you ready?  Then take that."

Walter hit him a steady blow in the face, and the fight between these
unequally-matched combatants--a boy not fifteen against a much stronger
boy of seventeen--began.  The result could not be dubious.  Walter
fought with indomitable pluck; it was splendid to see the sturdiness
with which he bore up under the blows of Harpour's strong fist, which he
could only return at intervals.  He was tremendously punished, while
Harpour was barely touched, except by one well-directed blow which
flashed the fire out of his eyes.  At last he dealt Walter a heavy blow
full on the forehead; the boy reeled, caught hold of the wash-hand stand
to stay his fall and dragged it after him on the floor with a thundering
crash, dashing the jug and basin all to shivers.

The smash brought in Mr Robertson, whose rooms were nearest to Number
10.  He opened his eyes in amazement as he came in.  On one of the beds
lay the two masks and dark lantern which had been used to frighten Eden;
on the floor, supported by Franklin and Henderson, sat poor Walter, his
nose streaming with blood, and his face horribly bruised and disfigured;
Harpour sheepishly surveyed his handiwork; and Jones, on the first
alarm, had rushed back to bed, covered himself with blankets, and lay to
all appearance fast asleep.

"Evson! what's all this?" asked the master in astonishment.

Walter, sick and giddy, was in no condition to answer; but the position
of affairs was tolerably obvious.

"Is this _your_ doing?" asked Mr Robertson of Harpour, very sternly,
pointing to Walter.

"He hit me first."

"Liar," said Henderson, glaring up at him.

"Hush, sir; no such language in my presence," said Mr Robertson.
"Cradock, do you mean to say that a big fellow like you could stand by,
and see Harpour thus cruelly misuse a boy not nearly his size."

"It was a fight, sir."

"Fight!" said Mr Robertson; "look at those two boys, and don't talk
nonsense to me."

"I oughtn't to have let them fight, I know," said Cradock; "and I wish,
sir, you'd put Harpour and Jones into another room, they're always
bullying Eden, and it was for him that Evson fought."

"Harpour," said Mr Robertson, "you are absolutely despicable; a viler
figure than you present at this moment could not be conceived.  I shall
move you to another dormitory, where some monitor can restrain your
brutality; and, meanwhile, I confine you to gates for a month, and you
will bring me up one hundred lines every day till further notice."

He was leaving the room, but catching sight of Walter, he returned, and
said kindly, "Evson, my poor boy, I'm afraid you're sadly hurt; I'm
truly sorry for you; you seem to have been behaving in a very noble way,
and I honour you.  Henderson, I think you'd better go with him to Dr
Keith," he continued; for Walter, though he heard what was said, was too
much hurt and shaken to speak a word.

"Come, Walter," said Henderson, gently helping him to rise; "I hope
you're not very much hurt, old fellow.  That brute Harpour won't trouble
you again, anyhow; nor his parasite Jones.  Lean on my arm.  Franklin,
you come and give Walter your arm, too."

They helped him to the sickroom, for he could barely trail his legs
after him.  Dr Keith laid him down quietly on a sofa, put some arnica
to the bruises on his face, and told him to lie still and go quietly to
sleep.  "He is not very much hurt," he said, in answer to the inquiries
of the boys; "but the fall he has had is quite sufficiently serious in
its consequences to render absolute rest necessary to him for some days.
You may come and see him sometimes."

"And now, you fellow, Harpour," said Henderson, re-entering the
dormitory; "as you've knocked up Evson, and half killed Eden, _I'll_
tell Somers.  Do you hear? and I hope he'll thrash you till you can't
stand."

"He daren't; Robertson's punished me already."

"He dare, and will; you won't get off so lightly as all that."

"You're a set of sneaks; and I'll be even with you yet," growled
Harpour, too much cowed to resent Henderson's defiance.

Henderson laughed scornfully; and Cradock said, "And _I'll_ tell the
whole school what bullies you've been, Harpour and Jones."

"And _I_," said Franklin; "I don't envy you two."

"The school doesn't consist altogether of such softs as your lot,
luckily," answered Harpour.

"Softs or not, we've put a spoke in _your_ wheel for the present,"
answered Franklin.  "I congratulate you on the rich black eye which one
of the softs, half your size, has given you."

"They're not worth snarling with, Franklin," said Henderson; "we shall
be rid of him and Jones from Number 10 henceforth; that's one blessing."



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

A TURBULENT SCHOOL MEETING.

  I hate when vice can bolt her arguments,
  And virtue have no tongue to check her pride.

  Milton's Comus.

Next morning, after second school, Power went to see how Eden and Walter
were getting on.  He opened the door softly, and they did not observe
his entrance.

Eden, very pale, and with an expression of pain and terror still
reflected in his face, lay in a broken and restless sleep.  Walter was
sitting as still as death at the head of the bed.  A book lay on his
knees, but he had not been reading.  He was in a "brown study," and the
dreamy far-off look with which his eyes were fixed upon vacancy showed
how his thoughts had wandered.  It was the same look which attracted
Power's attention when he first saw Walter in chapel, and which had
shown him that he was no common boy.  It often made him watch Walter,
and wonder what _could_ be occupying his thoughts.

It was looking at poor little Eden that had suggested to Walter's mind
the train of thought into which he had fallen.  As he saw the child
tossing uneasily about, waking every now and then to half-consciousness
with a violent start, occasionally delirious, and to all appearances
seriously ill--as he thought over Dr Keith's remark, that even when he
was quite well again his nervous system would be probably found to have
received a shock of which the effects would _never_ be obliterated
during life, he could not help fretting very bitterly over the injury
and suffering of his friend.  And his own spirits were greatly shaken.
It was of little matter that every time he raised his hand to cool his
forehead, or ease the throbbing of his head, he felt how much he was
bruised, cut, and swollen, or that the looking-glass showed him a face
so hideously disfigured; he knew that this would grow right in a day or
two, and he cared nothing for it.  But when Harpour's blow knocked him
down, he had dashed his head with some violence on the floor, and this
had hurt him so much and made him feel so ill, that Dr Keith was not
without secret fears about the possibility of a concussion of the brain.
Yet all the sorrow which Walter now felt was for Eden, and he was not
thinking of himself.

He was mentally staring face to face at the mystery of human cruelty and
malice.  The little boy, whose fine qualities so few besides himself had
discovered, was lying before him in pain and nervous prostration, solely
because malignant unkindness seemed to give pleasure to two bad, brutal
fellows.  Walter had himself rescued Eden by his consistent kindness
from being bullied, corrupted, tormented--yet apparently to little
purpose.  That the poor boy's powers would be decidedly injured by this
last prank, was certain.  Dr Keith had dropped mysterious hints, and
Walter had himself heard how wild and incoherent were Eden's murmurs.
If he should become an idiot?  O God! that men and boys should have
_such_ hearts!

And then and there Walter, while yet a boy, solemnly and consciously
recorded an unspoken vow that _he_ at least, till death, would do all
that lay in his own power to lighten, not to increase, the sum of human
misery; that he would study all things that were kind, and gentle, and
tender-hearted, in his dealings with others; that he would ever be on
the watch against wounding thoughts, and uncharitable judgments, and
unkind deeds; above all, that he would strive with all his power against
the temptation to cutting and sarcastic words, against calumny, and
misrepresentation, against envy, hatred, malice, and all
uncharitableness.  These were the noble thoughts and high resolves which
were passing through the boy's mind when Power's quiet footstep entered
the room.

Power stopped for a minute to look at the somewhat saddening picture in
the darkened room--Walter, still as death, deep in thought, his chin
leaning on his hand, and his face presenting an uncouth mixture of
shapes and colours as he sat by Eden's bedside; and Eden turning and
moaning in an unrefreshing sleep.

Walter started from his reverie and smiled, as Power noiselessly
approached.

"My poor Walter, how marked you are!"

"Oh, never mind, it's nothing.  I had a good cause, and it's done good."

"Poor fellow!  But how's Arty?  He looks wretchedly ill."

"He's in a sad way I'm afraid, Power," said Walter, shaking his head.

"I hope he'll be all right soon."

"Yes, I hope so; but we shall have to take great care of him."

"Poor child, poor child!" said Power, bending over him compassionately.

"Has Flip told Somers of Harpour?" asked Walter.

"I don't know whether you are quite up to hearing school news yet."

"O yes! tell me all about it," said Walter eagerly.

"Well, I've no good news to tell.  It's a case of _ponos ponoo ponon
pherei_, as Percival said when I told him about you and Eden.  By the
by, he sent all sorts of kind messages, and will come and see you."

"Thanks; but about Harpour?"

"Well, Flip meant to tell Somers, but the whole thing spread over the
school at once, before morning chapel was well over; so, Dimock being
head of Robertson's house, thought it was _his_ place to take it up.  He
sent for Harpour in the classroom, and told him he meant to cane him for
his abominable, ruffianly conduct; but before he'd begun, Harpour seized
hold of the cane, and wouldn't let it go.  Luckily Dimock didn't fly
into a rage, nor did he let himself down by a fight, which Harpour
wanted to bring on.  He simply let go of the cane quite coolly, and
said, `Very well, Harpour, it would have been a good deal the best for
you to have taken quietly the caning you so thoroughly deserve; as you
don't choose to do that, I shall put the matter in Somers' hands.  I'm
glad to be rid of the responsibility.'"

"Did it end there?"

"Not a bit of it; the school are in a ferment.  You know the present
monitors, and particularly Somers, aren't popular; now Harpour _is_
popular, although he's such a brute, because he's a great swell at
cricket and the games.  I'm afraid we shall have a regular monitorial
row.  The monitors have convened a meeting this morning to decide about
Harpour; and, to tell you the truth, I shouldn't wonder if the school
got up a counter-meeting."

"Don't any of the masters know about Eden?"

"Not officially, though I should think some rumours must have got to
them."

"But surely it's very odd that the school should side with Jones and
Harpour, after the shameful mischief they've done?"

"Odd, _a priori_; but lots of things always combine to make up a school
opinion, you know the fellows just catch up what they hear first.  But
who do you think is foremost champion on the school side--stirring them
up to resist, abusing you, abusing Flip, abusing the monitors, and
making light of Harpour's doings?"

Walter asked "Who?" but he knew beforehand that Power's answer would
be--

"Kenrick!"

After this he said nothing, but put his hand wearily to his head, which
in his weak state, was aching violently with the excitement of the news
which Power had told him.

"Ah, I see, Walter, you're not quite well enough yet to be bothered.
I'll leave you quiet.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye.  Do come again soon, and tell me how things go on."

Strolling out from the sad sickroom into the court, Power was attracted
into the great schoolroom by the sound of angry voices.  Entering, he
found half the school, and all the lower forms, collected round the
large desk at which the headmaster usually sat.  A great many were
talking at once, and every tongue was engaged in discussing the
propriety, in this instance, of any monitorial interference.

"Order, order," shouted one or two of the few fifth-form fellows
present; "let's have the thing managed properly.  Who'll take the
chair?"

There was a general call for Kenrick, and as he was one of the highest
fellows in the room, he got into the chair, and amid a general silence
delivered his views of the present affair.

"You all know," he said, "that Dimock meant to cane Harpour because he
played off a joke against one of the fellows last night.  Harpour
refused to take the caning, and the monitors are holding a meeting this
morning to decide what to do about Harpour.  Now _I_ maintain that
they've no right to do anything; and it's very important that we
shouldn't let them have just their own way.  The thing was merely a
joke.  Who thinks anything of just putting on a mask in fun, to startle
another fellow?  One constantly hears of its being done merely to raise
a laugh, and we must all have often seen pictures of it.  Of course, in
this case, every one is extremely sorry for the consequences, but it was
impossible to foresee _them_, and nobody has any right to judge of the
act because it has turned out so unluckily.  I vote that we put the
question--`Have the monitors any right to interfere?'"

Loud applause greeted the end of Kenrick's speech, and the little bit at
the end about separating an act from its consequences told wonderfully
among the boys.  They raised an almost unanimous cry of "Well done,
Ken", "Quite right", "Harpour shan't be caned."

Henderson had been watching Kenrick with an expression of intense anger
and disdain.  At the end of his remarks, he sprang, rather than rose, up
and immediately began to pour out an impetuous answer.  His first words,
before the fellows had observed that he meant to speak, were drowned in
the general uproar; and when they had all caught sight of him, an
expression of decided disapprobation ran round the throng of listeners.
It did not make him swerve in the slightest degree.  Looking round
scornfully and steadily, he said--

"I know why some of you hiss.  You think I told Dimock of Harpour.  As
it happens I _didn't_; but I'm neither afraid nor ashamed to tell you
all, as I told Harpour to his face, that I had fully intended to do it--
or rather I meant to tell, not Dimock, but Somers.  _Will_ you let me
speak?" he asked, angrily, as his last sentence was interrupted by a
burst of groans, commenced by a few of those whose interests were most
at stake, and taken up by the mass of ignorant boys.

Power plucked Henderson by the sleeve, and whispered, "Hush, Flip; go
on, but keep your temper."

"I've as much right to speak--if this is meant for a school meeting--as
Kenrick or any one else; and what I have to say is this: Kenrick has
been merely throwing dust into your eyes, misleading you altogether
about the true state of the case.  It's all very fine, and very easy for
him to talk so lightly of its being `a joke,' and `a bit of fun,' and so
on; but I should like to ask him whether he believes that? and whether
he's not just hunting for popularity, and mixing up with it a few
private spites? and whether he's not thoroughly ashamed of himself at
this moment?  There! you may see that he is," continued Henderson,
pointing at him; "see how he is blushing scarlet, and looking the very
picture of degradation."

Here Kenrick started up and most irascibly informed Henderson that he
wasn't going to sit there and be slanged by him, and that as he was in
the chair, he would not let Henderson go on any more unless he cut short
his abuse; and while Kenrick was saying this, in which he entirely
carried the meeting with him, Power again whispered, "You're getting too
personal, Flip; but go on, only say no more about Kenrick--though I'm
afraid it's all true."

"Well, at any rate, I will say this," continued Henderson, whose flow of
words was rather stopped by his having been pulled up so often--"and I
ought to know, for I was in the room at the time, and I appeal to
Anthony and Franklin, and all the rest of the dormitory, to say if it
isn't true.  It _wasn't_ a joke.  It wasn't _meant_ for a joke.  It was
a piece of deliberate, diabolical--"

"Oh! oh! oh!" began a few of Harpour's claqueurs, and the chorus was
again swelled by a score of others.

"I repeat it--of deliberate, diabolical cruelty, chosen just because
there was nothing more cruel they dared to do.  And," he said, speaking
at the top of his voice, to make himself heard over the clamour, "the
fellows who did it are a disgrace to Saint Winifred's, and they deserve
to be caned by the monitors, if any fellows ever did."

He sat down amid a storm of disapprobation, but his look never quailed
for an instant, as he glanced steadily round, and noticed how Kenrick,
though in favour with the multitude, and so much higher in the school,
did not venture to meet his eye.  And he was more than compensated for
the general disfavour, by feeling Power's hand rest on his shoulder, and
hearing him whisper, "That's _famous_, Flip; you're a dear plucky
fellow.  Walter himself couldn't have done it more firmly."

Then Belial-like, rose Mackworth, perfectly at his ease, intending as
much general mischief as lay in his power, and bent on saying as many
unpleasant things as he could.  In this, however, his benevolent views
were materially frustrated by Henderson, who made his contemptuous
comments in a tone sufficiently loud to be heard by many, and quite
distinctly enough to disconcert Mackworth's oratory.

"As the gentleman who has just sat down has poured so many bottles of
wrath--"

"Bottles of French varnish," suggested Henderson--"on our heads
generally, I must be allowed to make a few remarks in reply.  His speech
consisted of nothing but rabid abuse; without a shred of
argument."--"Rabid fact without a shred of fudge," interpolated
Henderson.

"If for every trifling freak fellows were to be telling the monitors, we
had better inaugurate at once the era of sneaks and cowards."

"Era of sham polish and fiddlestick ends," echoed Henderson; and
Mackworth, who had every intention of making a very flourishing speech,
was so disconcerted by this unwonted pruning of his periods, that he
somewhat abruptly sat down, muttering anathemas on Henderson, and
flustered quite out of his usual bland manner.

"Something has been said about cowardice and sneaking," said Whalley,
getting up.  "I should like to know whether you think it more cowardly
to fight a fellow twice one's size, and to mark him pretty considerably
too" (a remark which Whalley unceremoniously emphasised by pointing at
Harpour's black eye), "or to lay a plot to frighten in the dark a mere
child, very nervous and very timid, who has never harmed any one in his
life."

Next, Howard Tracy, addressing the meeting, running his hand
occasionally through his hair, "would put the question on a different
footing altogether.  As to what had been done to Eden, he stood on
neutral ground, and gave no opinion.  But who, he asked, were these
monitors that they should thrash _any one at all_?  He had never heard
that they were of particularly good families, or that they had anything
whatever which gave them a claim to interfere with other fellows.  The
question was, whether a parcel of monitors were to domineer over the
school?"

"The question was nothing of the kind!" said Franklin very bluntly; "it
was, whether big bullies, like Harpour, were to be at perfect liberty to
frighten fellows into idiots or beat them into mummies, at their own
will and pleasure?  That was the only question.  Harpour or Somers--
bullies or monitors--which will you have, boys?"

And after this arose a perfect hubbub of voices.  Some got up and
ridiculed the monitors; others extolled Harpour, and tried to make out
that he was misused for being called to account for a mere frolic;
others taunted Evson and Henderson with a conspiracy against their
private enemies.  On the whole, they were nearly unanimous in agreeing
that the school should prevent the monitors from any exercise of their
authority.

And then, in the midst of the hubbub, Power rose, "in act more
graceful," and there was an immediate and general call for silence.  To
the great majority of the boys, Power was hardly known except by name
and by sight; but his school successes, his rare ability, his stainless
character, and many personal advantages, commanded for him the highest
admiration.  His numerous slight acquaintances in the school all liked
his pleasant and playful courtesy, and were proud to know him; his few
friends entertained for him an almost extravagant affection.  His
ancient name, his good family, and the respect due to his high position
in the school, would alone have been sufficient to gain him a favourable
hearing; but, besides this, he had hitherto come forward so little, that
there was a strong curiosity to see what line he would take, and how he
would be able to speak.  There were indeed a few who were most anxious
to silence him as quickly as possible, knowing what effect his words
would be likely to produce; and when he began, they raised several noisy
interruptions; but Kenrick, for very shame, was obliged at first to
demand for him the attention which, after the first sentence or two, his
quiet, conciliatory, and persuasive manner effectually secured.

Reviewing the whole tumultuary discussion, he began by answering
Kenrick.  After alluding to the long course of bullying which had been
ended in this manner, he appealed to the common sense of the meeting
whether the thing could be regarded as a mere joke, when they remembered
Eden's tender age and highly susceptible nature?  Was it not certain,
and must it not have been obvious to the bullies, that serious, if not
desperately dangerous results _must_ follow?  What those results had
been was well-known, and in describing what he had seen of them in the
sickroom only half an hour before, Power made a warm appeal to their
feelings of pity and indignation--an appeal which every one felt to be
manly, and which could not fail of being deeply touching, because it was
both simple and natural.

"Then," said Power, "the next speaker talked about sneaking and
cowardice.  Well, those charges had been sufficiently answered by
Whalley, and, indeed, on behalf of his friends Evson and Henderson, he
perhaps need hardly condescend to answer them at all.  His friend
Henderson had been long enough among them to need no defence, and if he
_did_, it would be sufficiently supplied by the high courage, of which
they had just seen a specimen.  As for Evson, any boy who had given as
many proofs of honour and manliness as _he_ had done during his two
terms at Saint Winifred's, certainly required no one's shield to be
thrown over _him_.  Would any of them show their courage by walking
across the Razor on some dark foggy winter's night? and would they find
in the school any other fellow of Evson's age who would not shrink from
standing up in a regular fair fight with another of twice his own
strength and size?  Those charges he thought he might throw to the
winds; he was sure that no one believed them; but there was, he
admitted, one cowardice of which his two friends had often been guilty,
and it was a cowardice for which they need not blush; he meant the
cowardice, the arrant, the noble cowardice of being afraid _not_ to do
what they thought right, and of being afraid to do what they _knew_ to
be base and wrong."

In these remarks Power quite carried his audience away with him; the
strain was of a higher mood than boys had often heard from boys, and it
was delivered with an eloquence and earnestness that raised a continuous
applause.  This, however, Power checked by going on speaking until he
was obliged to stop and take breath; but _then_ it burst out in the most
unmistakable and enthusiastic manner, and entirely drowned the few and
timid counter-demonstrations of the Jones and Mackworth school.

"Now I have detained you too long," said Power, "and I apologise for it
(Go on! go on! shouted the boys); but as so _many_ have spoken on the
other side, and so few on this, perhaps you will excuse me (Yes, yes!)
Well, then, Tracy has asked, `Who are the monitors? and what right have
they to interfere?'  I answer, that the monitors are our schoolfellows,
and are simply representatives of the most mature form of public school
opinion.  They have all been lower boys; they have all worked their way
up to the foremost place; they are, in short, the oldest, the cleverest,
the strongest, and the wisest among us; And their right depends on an
authority voluntarily delegated to them by the masters, by our parents,
and by ourselves--a right originally founded on justice and common
sense, and venerable by very many years of prestige and of success.  At
any rate, a fellow who behaves as Harpour has done, has the _least_
right to complain of this exercise of a higher authority.  If he had a
right--and he has no right except brute strength, if that be a right--to
bully, beat, torment, and perhaps injure for life a poor little
inoffensive child, and by doing so to render the name of the school
infamous, I maintain that the monitors, who have the interest of the
school most at heart, who are ranged _ex officio_ on the side of truth,
of justice, and of honour, have infinitely more right to thrash him for
it.  Supposing that there were no monitors, what would the state of the
school be? above all, what would be the condition of the younger and
weaker boys? they would be the absolutely defenceless prey of a most
odious tyranny.  Let me say then, that I most distinctly and
emphatically approve of the manner in which my friends have acted; that
I envy and admire the moral courage which helped them to behave as they
did; and that if the school attempts on this occasion to resist the
legitimate and most wholesome exercise of the monitors' power, it will
suffer a deep disgrace and serious loss.  I oppose Kenrick's motion with
every feeling of my heart, and with every sentiment of my mind.  I think
it dangerous, I think it useless, and I think it _most unjust_."

A second burst of applause followed Power's energetic words, and
continued for several minutes.  He had utterly changed the opinions of
many who were present, and Kenrick felt his entire sympathy and
admiration enlisted on behalf of his former friend.  He would at the
moment have given anything to get up and retract his previous remarks
and beg pardon for them.  But his pride and passion were too strong for
him, and coldly rising, he put it to the meeting, "whether they decided
that the monitors had the right to interfere or not."

Jones, Mackworth, Harpour, and others, were eagerly canvassing for
votes, and when Kenrick demanded a show of hands, a good many were
raised on their side.  When the opposite question was put, at first only
Power, Henderson, Whalley, and Franklin held up their hands; but they
were soon followed by Bliss, then by Anthony and Cradock, and then by a
great many more who took courage when they saw what champions were on
their side.  The hands were counted, and there was found to be an equal
number on both sides.  The announcement was received with dead silence.

"The chairman of course has a casting vote," said Mackworth.

Kenrick sat still for a moment, not without an inward conflict; and
then, afraid to risk his popularity with those whom he had now adopted
as his own set, he said, rising--

"And I give it _against_ the right of the monitors."

A scene of eager partisanship and loud triumph ensued, during which
Power once more stood forward, and observed--

"You must allow me to remind you that the present meeting in no way
represents the sense of the school.  I do not see a dozen boys present
who are above the lowest fifth-form; and I do earnestly entreat those
who have gained this vote not to disturb the peace and comfort of the
school by attempting a collision between themselves and the monitors,
who will certainly be supported by the nearly unanimous opinion of the
upper fifth forms."

"We shall see about that," answered Kenrick in a confident tone.  "At
any rate, the vote is carried."  He left the chair, and the boys broke
up into various groups, still eagerly discussing the rights and wrongs
of the question which had been stirred.

"_So_, Power," said Kenrick, with a sneer, which he assumed to hide his
real feelings, "all your fine eloquence is thrown away, you see.  We've
carried the day after all, in spite of you."

"Yes, Ken," said Power, gently; "you've carried it _quocunque modo_.
How comes Kenrick to be on the same side as Jones, Mackworth, and
Harpour?"



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

THE MONITORS.

  In the teeth of clenched antagonisms.

  Tennyson.

The meeting over, Henderson, who had not seen Walter since the morning,
flew up to the sickroom to tell him the news, which he was sure would
specially interest him.  As he entered, the same spectacle was before
him which Power had already seen--little Eden restless, and sometimes
wandering--Walter seated silently by the bed watching him, his legs
crossed, and his hands clasped over one knee.  The curtains were drawn
to exclude the glare.  Walter could read but little, for his eyes were
weak after the fight; but his thoughts and his nursing of his little
friend kept him occupied.  Henderson, fresh from the excitement of the
meeting, was struck with the deep contrast presented by this painfully
quiet scene.

He was advancing eagerly, but Walter rose with his finger on his lip,
and spoke to him in a whisper, for Eden had just dropped off to sleep.

Henderson shook him warmly by the hand, and whispered--"I've such lots
to tell you;" and, sitting down by Walter, he gave him an account of
what had just taken place.  "You should have heard Power, Walter; upon
my word he spoke like an orator, and regularly bowled the Harpour lot
off their legs.  It's splendid to see him coming out so in the school--
isn't it?"

"It is indeed; and thanks to you, too, Flip, for sticking up for me."

"Oh, what I did was nothing.  But only fancy that fellow Kenrick
fighting against us like this, and giving his casting vote against
Harpour's being thrashed!  You've no idea, Walter, how that fellow's
changed."

He was interrupted, for Eden woke with a short scream, and, starting up
in bed, looked round with a scared expression, shuddering and moaning as
he fell back again on his pillow.

"Oh, don't, don't, don't frighten me," he said appealingly, while the
perspiration burst out over his pale face; "please, Harpour, _please_
don't.  Oh, Walter, Walter, _do_ help me."

"Hush, my poor, little fellow, I'm here," said Walter tenderly, as he
smoothed his pillow; "don't be afraid, Arty, you're quite safe, and I'm
staying with you.  They only put on masks to frighten you; it was
nothing but that."

Bending over the bed, he talked to him in a gentle, soothing voice, and
tried to make him feel at ease, while the child flung both his arms
round his neck, sobbing, and still clung tight to his hand when Walter
had succeeded in allaying the sudden paroxysm of terror.

Henderson, deeply touched, had looked on with glistening eyes.  "How
kind you are, Walter," he said, taking his other hand, and
affectionately pressing it.  "I should just like to have Kenrick here,
and show him what his new friends have done."

"Don't be indignant against him, Flip.  I wish, indeed, he would but
come into this room, and make it up with us, and be what he once was.
But he did not even take the slightest notice of the letter I wrote him,
entreating him to overlook any fault I had been guilty of, however
unconsciously.  I never meant to wrong him, and I love him as much as
ever."

"Love him!" said Henderson, "_I_ don't; his new line isn't half to my
fancy.  He must be jolly miserable, that's one comfort."

"Hush! he _was_ our friend, Flip, remember; indeed, _I_ feel as a friend
to him still, whatever his feelings are for _me_.  But why do you think
he must be miserable?"

"Because you can see in his face and manner, that all the while he knows
he's in the wrong, and is thoroughly ashamed at bottom."

"Well, let's hope he'll come round again all the sooner.  Have you
broken with him, then?"

"Well, nearly.  We are barely civil to each other, that's all, and I
don't suppose we shall be even that now: for I pitched into him to-day
at the meeting."

Walter only sighed, and just then Power stole into the room.

"Hallo!" he said, "Flip, I believe you and I shall kill the invalids
between us.  I just met Dr Keith on the stairs, and he only gave me
leave to come for five minutes, for he says they both need quiet.  You,
I suspect, Master Flip, took French leave."

"I like that," said Henderson, laughing, "considering that this is your
_second_ visit, and only my first.  I've been telling Walter about the
meeting."

"The credit--if there is any--is yours, Flip; you broke the ice, and
showed the Harpourites that they weren't going to carry it all their own
way, as they fancied."

"I'm so glad you came out strong, Power," said Walter; "Flip says you
took them all by storm."

"That's Flip's humbug," said Power; "but," he whispered, "if I did any
good, it's all through you, Walter."

"How do you mean?"

"Why, first of all, I wasn't going to hear animals like Mackworth abuse
you; and next, but for you I should have continued my old selfish way of
keeping aloof from all school concerns.  It cost me an effort to conquer
my shyness, but I remembered our old talk on Appenfell, Walter."

Walter smiled gratefully, and Power continued, "But I've come to tell
you both a bit of news."

"What's that?" they asked eagerly.

"Why, there's a notice on the board, signed by Somers, to say that `All
the school are requested to stay in their places after the master has
left the room at two o'clock calling-over.'"

"Whew! what a row we shall have!" said Henderson.

"How I wish I were well enough to be out now," said Walter.  "I hate to
be shut up while all this is going on."

"Poor fellow, with _that_ face?" said Power.  "No; you must be content
to wait and get well."

"It isn't the face that keeps me in, Power; it's the bang on the head,
Keith says."

"Yes, and Keith says that he doesn't know when you _will_ be well if
these young chatterboxes stay with you," said the good-humoured doctor,
entering at the moment.  "Vanish both of you!"

The boys smiled and bade Walter good-bye, as they wished him speedy
relief from Dr Keith's prison.  "And when do you think poor little Eden
may come and sit in my study again?" asked Power.  "I miss him very
much."

"You mustn't think of that for a long time," answered the doctor.

"How about this two o'clock affair?" said Henderson, as they left the
room.

"Upon my word I don't know.  Sit next to me, Flip, in case of a row."

"Are the monitors strong enough, do you think?"

"We shall see."

The school was in a fever of excitement and curiosity.  At dinner-time
nothing else was talked of by the lower boys, but the upper forms kept a
dignified silence.

Two o'clock came.  The names of all the school were called over, and
amid perfect silence the master of the week left the hall.  Then Somers
stood up in the dais and said--

"Is Harpour here?--the rest please to keep their places."

"I'm here--what do you want of _me_?" said Harpour sulkily, as he stood
up in his place.

"First of all, I want to tell you before the whole school that you have
been behaving in the most shamefully cruel and blackguard way, and in a
way that has produced disastrous consequences to one of the little
fellows.  A big fellow like you ought to be _thoroughly_ ashamed of such
conduct.  If you were capable of a blush you ought to blush for it.  It
is our duty as monitors, and my duty as Head of the school, to punish
you for this conduct, as Dr Lane has left it in our hands; and I am
going to cane you for it.  Stand out."

"I won't.  I'll see you damned first."

A sensation ran through the school at this open defiance; but Somers,
quite unmoved, repeated--

"I take no notice of your words further than to tell you that if you
swear again you will have an additional punishment; but once again I
tell you to stand out."

Harpour quailed a little at his firm tone, and at the total absence of
all support from his followers; but he again flatly refused to stand
out.

"Very well," said Somers; "you have already defied the authority of one
monitor, and that is an aggravation of your original offence.  I should
have been glad to have avoided a scene, but if your common sense doesn't
make you bear the punishment coolly, you shall bear it by force.  Will
you stand out?--no?--then you shall be made.  Fetch him here, some one,"
he said, turning to the sixth-form.

The second monitor, Danvers, quietly seized Harpour's right arm, and
Macon, one of the biggest fellows in the fifth-form, of his own accord
got up and seized the other, Harpour's heart sank at this, for Danvers
and the other were with him in the cricket eleven, and he was not as
strong as either of them singly.

"Now mark," said Somers; "caned you _shall_ be, to redeem the character
of the school; but unless you take it without being _made_ to take it,
your name shall also be immediately struck off the school list, and you
shall leave Saint Winifred's this evening.  You'll be no great loss, I
take it.  So much I may tell you as a proof that the Headmaster has left
_us_ to vindicate the name of Saint Winifred's."

Seeing that resistance was useless, Harpour accordingly stood out in the
centre of the room, but not until he had cast an inquiring look among
those who embraced his side; and these, who, as we have seen, were
tolerably numerous, all looked at Kenrick that he might give some hint
as to what they should do.  Thus appealed to, Kenrick rose and said--

"I protest against this caning."

"You!" said Somers, turning contemptuously in that direction; "who are
you?"

The general titter which these words caused made Kenrick furious, and he
cried out angrily--

"It is against the opinion of the majority of the school."

"We shall see," said Somers, with stinging _sang froid_; "meanwhile, you
may sit down, and let the majority of the school speak for themselves,
otherwise you may be requested to occupy a still more prominent
position.  I shall have something to say to _you_ presently."

"Let's rescue him," said Kenrick, springing forward, and several fellows
stirred in answer to the appeal; but Macon, seizing hold of Tracy with
one arm, and Mackworth with the other, thrust them both down on the
floor, and Danvers, catching hold of Kenrick, swung him over the form,
and pinned him there.  The general laugh with which this proceeding was
received showed that only a small handful of the school were really
opposed to the monitors, and that most boys thoroughly concurred with
them, and held them to be in the right.  So Macon quietly boxed Jones's
ears, since Jones was making a noise, and then told him and the others
that they might return to their places.

Crimsoned all over with shame and anger, Kenrick sat down, and Somers
proceeded to administer to Harpour a most severe caning.  That worthy
quite meant to stretch to the utmost his powers of endurance, and made
several scornful remarks after each of the first blows.  But Somers had
no intention to let him off too easily; each sneer was followed by a
harder cut, and the remarks were very soon followed by a silent but
significant wince.  It was not until a writhe had been succeeded by a
sob, and a sob by a howl, that Somers said to him--

"Now you may go."

And Harpour did go to his seat, in an agony of mingled pain and shame.
He had boasted repeatedly that he would never take a thrashing from
anyone; but he _had_ taken it, and succumbed to it, and that too in the
presence of the whole school.  He was tremendously ashamed; he never
forgot the scene, and determined never to lose an opportunity of
revenging it.

The school felt it to be an act of simple justice, and that the
punishment was richly deserved.  They looked on in stern silence, and
those lower boys who had in the morning determined to interfere, gazed
with some discomfiture upon their champion's fall.

"And now, Master Kenrick, _you_ stand here--what, no!--Stand here, sir."

Kenrick only glared defiance.

"Danvers, hand him here;" but Danvers stepped up to Somers and
whispered, "Don't be too sharp on him, Somers, or you'll drive him to
despair.  Remember he's high in the fifth, and has been a distinguished
fellow.  Don't make too much of this one escapade."

"All right.  Thanks, Danvers," said Somers; and added aloud, in a less
sarcastic tone--"Come here, Kenrick; I merely wish to speak a word with
you;" and then Danvers kindly but firmly took the boy's hand, and led
him forward.

"You said the majority of the school denied our right to interfere."

No answer.

"Do you consider yourself in person to be the majority of the school,
pray?"

No answer.

"We are all perfectly aware, sir, of your meeting, and of your precious
casting vote.  But you must be informed that a rabble of shell and
fourth-form boys do not constitute the school in any sense of the word.
And understand too, that even if the majority of the school _had_ been
against us, we monitors are not quite so ignorant of our solemn duty as
to make that any reason for letting a brutal and cowardly act of
bullying go unpunished.  You have been very silly, Kenrick, and have
been just misled by conceit.  Yes, you may look angry; but you know me
of old; you've never received anything but kindness at my hands since
the day you were my fag, and I tell you again that you've just been
misled by conceit.  Think rather less of yourself, my good fellow.  You
ought to have known better.  Your friend Power has shown you an
infinitely more sensible example.  _You_ may sit down, sir, with this
warning; and, in the name of the monitors, I beg to thank the other
fellows, especially Evson and Henderson, who did their best to protect
little Eden.  They behaved like thorough gentlemen, and it would be well
if more of you younger boys were equally alive to the true honour of the
school."

"I wish he'd be more conciliatory," whispered Dimock to Danvers; "he's
plucky and firm, but so very dictatorial and unpersuasive.  Besides,
he's forgotten to thank Power."

"Yes," said Danvers, "his tone spoils all.  Somers," he said, "you've
omitted to mention Power, and the fellows will be gone in a minute."

"I've been talking so much, you say it."

"Not I; I'm no speaker.  Here, Dimock will."

"Ay, that'll do.  One minute more, please," called Somers, raising his
hand to the boys, who, during this rapidly whispered conversation, were
beginning to leave their places.

"Somers wishes me to add," said Dimock, "that all the monitors and many
of the sixth and fifth forms wish to express our best thanks to Power
for the exceedingly honourable and fearless way in which he this morning
maintained the rights and duties which belong to us.  You younger
fellows know very well that we monitors extremely dislike to interfere,
that we do so only on the rarest occasions, and that we are always most
anxious to avoid caning.  You know that we never resort to it unless we
are obliged to do so by the most flagrant offences, which would
otherwise sap the honour and character of the school.  Let us all be
united and work together for the good of Saint Winifred's.  Don't let
any interested parties lead you to believe that we either do or wish to
tyrannise.  Our authority is for your high and direct advantage; I
appeal to you whether you do not know it?"

"Yes, yes, Dimock," answered many voices; and before they streamed out
of the ball, they gave "three cheers for the monitors," which were so
heartily responded to, that the hissing of Harpour, Kenrick, and others,
only raised a laugh, which filled to the very brim the bitter cup of
hate and indignation which Kenrick had been forced that day to drink.
To be addressed like that before the whole school--snubbed, reproved,
threatened--it was intolerable; that he, Kenrick, high in the school,
brilliant, promising, successful, accustomed only to flattery and
praise, should be publicly set down among a rabble of lower boys--it
made him mad to think of it.

"A nice tell-tale mess you've made of this business, Power," he said
savagely, the red spot still lingering on his cheek, as he confronted
his former friend; "I hope you're ashamed of yourself."

"I, Ken? no."

"Then you ought to be."

"Honestly, Ken, who ought to be most ashamed--you, the advocate of
Harpour and his set, or I, who merely defended my best friend for
behaving most honourably--as he always does?"

"_Always_?" sneered Kenrick.

Power turned on him his clear bright eye, and said nothing for a moment;
but then he laid his arm across his shoulder in the old familiar manner,
and said, "You are not happy now, Ken, as you used to be."

"Why the devil not?"

Power shook his head.  "Because your heart is nobler than your acts;
your nature truer than your conduct; and _that_ is and will be your
punishment.  Why do you nurse this bad feeling till it has so mastered
you?"

Kenrick stood still, his cheeks flushed, his eyes downcast; and Power,
as he turned away, sadly repeated, half to himself the wonderful verse--

  "Virtutem _videant, intabescantque relicta_."

Kenrick understood it; it came to his heart like an arrow, and rankled
there; it made a wound, the faithful wound of a friend, better than the
kisses of an enemy--but the time of healing was far-off yet.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

FALLING AWAY.

  Oh deeper dole!
  That so august a spirit, sphered so fair,
  Should from the starry sessions of his peers,
  Decline to quench so bright a brilliancy
  In hell's sick spume.  Ay me, the deeper dole!

  Tannhauser.

It was generally on Sundays that boys walked in the croft with those who
were, and whom they wished to be considered as, their most intimate and
confidential friends.  To one who knew anything of the boys' characters,
it was most curious and suggestive to observe the groups into which they
spontaneously formed themselves.  The sets at Saint Winifred's were not
very exclusive or very accurately defined; and one boy might, by virtue
of different sympathies or accomplishments, belong to two or three sets
at once.  Still there were some sets whose outermost circles barely
touched each other; and hitherto the friends among whom Kenrick had
chiefly moved would never have associated intimately with the fellows
among whom Harpour was considered as the leading spirit.

It was therefore with no little surprise that Mr Percival, who with Mr
Paton passed through the croft on his Sunday stroll, observed Kenrick--
not with his usual companions, Power or Walter or Whalley--but arm in
arm with Harpour and Tracy, and accompanied by one or two other boys of
similar character.  It immediately explained to him much that had taken
place.  He had heard vague rumours of the part Kenrick had taken at the
meeting; he had heard both from him and from Walter that they were no
longer on good terms with each other; but now it was further plain to
him that Kenrick was breaking loose from all his old moorings, and
sailing into the open sea of wilfulness and pride.

"What are you so much interested about?" asked Mr Paton, as his
colleague followed the boys with his glance.

"I am wondering how and why this change has come over Kenrick."

"What change?"

"Don't you see with whom he is walking?  Oh, I forgot that you never
notice that kind of outer life among the boys; on the other hand, I
always do; it helps me to understand these fellows, and do more for them
than I otherwise could."

"You observe them to some purpose, Percival, at any rate, for your
influence among them is wonderful--as I have occasion to discover every
now and then."

"But Kenrick puzzles me.  `_Nemo repente fuit turpissimus_' one used to
think; yet that boy has dropped from the society of such a noble fellow
as Power, with his exquisite mind and manners, plumb into the abyss of
intimacy with Harpour.  There must be something all wrong."

A very little observation showed Mr Percival that his conjectures about
Kenrick were correct.  Clever as he was, his work deteriorated rapidly;
the whole expression of his countenance changed for the worse; he was
implicated more than once in very questionable transactions; he lost
caste among the best and most honourable fellows, and proportionately
gained influence among the worst and lowest lot in the school, whose
idol and hero he gradually became.  His descent was sudden, because his
character had always been unstable.  The pride and passion which were
mollified and restrained as long as he had moved with wise and upright
companions, broke forth with violence when once he fancied himself
slighted, and had committed himself to a course which he well knew to be
wrong.  There was one who conjectured much of this at a very early
period.  It was Kenrick's mother; his letters always indicated the exact
state of his thoughts and feelings; and Mrs Kenrick knew that the
coldness and recklessness which had lately marked them were proofs that
her boy was going wrong.  The violence, too, with which he spoke of
Evson, and the indications that he had dropped his old friends and taken
up with new and worse companions, filled her mind with anxiety and
distress; yet what could she do, poor lady, in her lonely home?  There
was one thing only that she could do for him in her weakness; and those
outpourings of sorrowful and earnest prayer were not in vain.

Mr Percival tried to make some effort to save Kenrick from the wrong
courses which he had adopted; he asked him quietly to come and take a
glass of wine after dinner; but the interview only made matters worse.
Kenrick, not undated by his popularity among the lower forms as a
champion of the supposed "rights" of the school, chose to adopt an
independent and almost patronising tone towards his tutor; he entered in
a jaunty manner, and glancing carelessly over the table, declined to
take any of the fruit to which the master invited him to help himself.
He determined to be as uncommunicative as possible; avoided all
conversation, and answered Mr Percival's questions on all subjects by
monosyllables, uttered in a disrespectful and nonchalant tone.  Yet all
the while he despised himself and was ill at ease.  He knew the deep
kindness of the master's intentions, and felt that he ought to be
grateful for the interest shown towards him; but it required a stronger
power and a different method from his own, to exorcise from his heart
the devil of self-will; and besides this, it cannot be denied that in
the first bloom and novelty of sin, in the free exercise of an insolent
liberty, there is a sense of pleasure for many hearts; it is the honey
on the rim of the poison-cup, the bloom on the Dead Sea apple, the
mirage on the scorching waste.

Mr Percival understood him thoroughly, and saw that he must be left to
the bitter teachings of experience.  Always fond of Kenrick, he had
never been blind to his many faults of character, and was particularly
displeased with his present manner, which he knew to be only adopted on
purpose to baffle any approach to advice or warning.

"Good morning, Kenrick," he said, rising rather abruptly, while a slight
smile of pity rested on his lips.

"Good morning, sir," said Kenrick; and as he rose in an airy manner to
leave the room, Mr Percival put a hand on each of the boy's shoulders,
and looked him steadily in the face.  Kenrick tried to meet the look,
not with the old open gaze of frank and innocent confidence, but with an
expression half shrinking, half defiant.  His eyes fell immediately, and
satisfied by this perusal of his features that Kenrick was going wrong,
Mr Percival said only this--

  "Your face, my boy, is as a book where men
  May read strange matters."

Kenrick had tried to be off-hand and patronising in manner, but the
attempt had failed egregiously, and he felt very uncomfortable as he
left the room where he had so often met with kindness, and which he
_never_ entered on the same terms again.

Meanwhile our two invalids, Walter and Eden, recovered but slowly.  But
for the kindness of every one about them their hours would have passed
very wearily in the sickroom.  Their tedium was enlivened by constant
visits from Henderson and Power, who never failed to interest Walter by
their school news, and especially by telling of those numerous little
incidents which tended to show that although after the late excitements
there was a certain detumescence, still the general effect had been to
arouse a spirit of opposition to all constituted authority.  Kenrick's
name was sometimes on their lips, but as they could not speak of him
favourably, and as the subject was a painful one, they rarely talked
much about him.

Among other visitors was Dr Lane, who, as well as Mrs Lane, showed
great solicitude about them.  The Doctor, who had been told by Dr Keith
that, but for Walter's tender nursing, Eden's case might have assumed a
far more dangerous complexion, lent them interesting books and pictures,
and often came for a few minutes to exchange some kind words with them.
Mrs Lane asked them to the Lodge, read to them, sang to them, played
chess and draughts with them, and often gave them drives in her
carriage.  These little gracious acts of simple kindness won the hearts
of both the boys, and hastened their convalescence.

Sometimes Walter was allowed to take Eden for a stroll on the shore
during school hours, when there was no danger of their being excited or
interrupted by the boisterous society of other boys.  There was one
favourite spot where the two often sat reading and talking.  It was by
the mouth of the little river--a green knoll sheltered under the rising
hills, to the very feet of which the little waves came rippling
musically as the summer tide flowed in.  And here Eden would lie down at
full length on the soft grass, and doze quietly, while the gentle breeze
lifted his fair hair from his forehead with refreshful coolness; or he
would listen while Walter read to him some stirring ballad or pleasant
tale.

And thus in the course of a fortnight Walter was himself again, and
Eden, not long after, was so far recovered as to be allowed to join his
schoolfellows in the usual routine.  He was, however, removed with
Walter, and Henderson, and Power, to another dormitory, which they had
to themselves; and the promise of this, relieving his mind from a
constant source of dread, helped him to recover.  The boys, too,
conscious how great a wrong had been done to him, received him back
among them with unusual consideration and delicate kindness.  They
pitied him heartily.  It was impossible not to do so when they looked at
his wan, sad face, so changed in expression; and when they observed his
timid, shrinking manner, and the tremor which came over him at any
sudden sight or sound.  So every voice was softened when they spoke to
him, and the manner of even the roughest boys became to him affectionate
and even caressing.  If any had felt inclined to side with Harpour
against the monitors before, the sight of Eden went far to alter their
convictions.

Yet the poor child was never happy except when he was in Walter's
society, and in Power's study.  Even there he was changed.  The bright
merry laugh which once rang out incessantly was rarely or never heard
now; and a somewhat sad smile was all that could be elicited from him.
He seemed, too, to have lost for a time all his old interest in work.
The form competition had no further attraction for him; the work seemed
irksome, and he had no spirits to join in any game.  Once Power kindly
rallied him on his general listlessness, but Eden only looked up at him
appealingly, and said, while the weak tears overflowed his eyes, "Don't
be angry with me, Power, I can't help it; I don't feel quite, right yet.
O, Power, I'm afraid you'll never like me again as you did."

"Why, Arty, your illness is all the more reason why I should."

"But, Power, I shall never be the same as I once was.  It seems as if
some light had gone out and left me in the dark."

"Nonsense, Arty; the summer holidays will bring you round again."

But Eden only shook his head, and muttered something about Colonel
Braemar not being kind to him and his little sister.

"Do you think they would let you come and stay part of the holidays with
us?"

Eden brightened up in a moment, and promised to write and ask.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

WALTER'S HOLIDAYS.

  Such delights
  As float to earth, permitted visitants,
  When in some hour of solemn jubilee
  The massy gates of Paradise are thrown
  Wide open.

  Coleridge _Religious Musings_.

In scenes like these, part sunshine and part storm, the half-year rolled
round, and brought the long-desired summer holidays.  Once more the end
of the half-year saw Power as usual brilliantly successful, and Walter
again at the head of his form.  Henderson, too, although he could not
proceed with Walter _pari passu_, was among the first six, and had
gained more than one school distinction.  But Kenrick this time had
failed as he had never done before; he was but fourth in his form, and
although this was the natural fruit of his recent idleness, it caused
him cruel mortification.

The end of term did not pass off quite so smoothly and pleasantly as it
generally did.  The opposition to monitorial authority which Harpour had
commenced, and Kenrick abetted, did not pass away at once; it left a
large amount of angry feeling in the minds of numerous boys who had,
each of them, influence in their several ways.  Kenrick himself always
went to the verge of impertinence whenever he could possibly do so in
dealing with any of the sixth, and to Somers his manner was always
intentionally rude, although he just managed to steer clear of any overt
insubordination.  He could, of course, act thus without the risk of
incurring any punishment, and without coming to any positive collision.
Many boys were unfortunately but too ready to imitate his example.

These dissensions did not positively break out on the prize day, but
they made the proceedings far less pleasant and unanimous than they
would have been.  The cheers usually given to the head of the
school were purposely omitted, from the fear of provoking any
counter-demonstration, and there remained an uneasy feeling in many
minds.  The success of the concert which was yearly given by the school
choir after the distribution of prizes was also marred by traces of the
same dissension.  In this concert Walter had a solo to sing, and
although he sang it remarkably well in his sweet ringing voice, he was
vexed to hear a few decided hisses among the plaudits which greeted him.
Altogether the prize day--a great day at Saint Winifred's--was less
successful than it had ever been known to be.

It brought, however, one pleasure to Walter, in the acquaintance of Sir
Lawrence and Lady Power, who had heard of him so often in their son's
letters, that they begged to be introduced to him as soon as they
arrived.  He was a great deal with them during the day, and he helped
Power to show them all that was interesting about the school and its
environs.  They saw Eden too, and Lady Power kindly pressed her
invitation on Mrs Braemar, who was also present, and who was not sorry
that Arty could stay with a family so well connected, and of such high
position.  When Walter left them, Power earnestly asked his mother what
she thought of his friend.

"He is the most charming boy I ever saw," said Lady Power, "and I
rejoice that you have chosen him as a friend.  But you don't tell me
anything about Kenrick, of whom you were once so fond; how is that?"

"I am still fond of him, mother, but he has changed a good deal lately."
At that moment Kenrick passed by arm in arm with Harpour, as though to
confirm Power's words, and recognised him with an ostentatiously
careless nod.

It was thus that Walter's first year at Saint Winifred's ended; and in
spite of all drawbacks he felt that it had been a distinguished and
happy year.  He was now yearning for home, and he felt that he could
meet his dear ones with honest pride.  He made arrangements to
correspond with Henderson and Eden in the holidays, and Power promised
again to visit him at Semlyn, on condition that he would come back with
him and spend a week at Severn Park, so that there might be a double
bond of union between them.

Very early the next morning the boys were swarming into coaches,
carriages, brakes, and every conceivable vehicle which could by any
possibility convey them to the nearest station.  A hearty cheer
accompanied each coach as it rolled off with its heavy and excited
freight; by nine o'clock not a boy was left behind.  The great buildings
of Saint Winifred's were still as death; the footfall of the chance
passer-by echoed desolately among them.  A strange, mournful, conscious
silence hung about the old monastic pile.  The young life which usually
played like the sunshine over it, was pouring unwonted brightness into
many happy English homes.

It was late in the afternoon when Walter found himself on the top of the
hill which looks down over Semlyn Lake.  The water lay beneath him a
sheet of placid silver; the flowers were scattered on every side in
their beds of emerald and sunlit moss; the air, just stirred by the
light breeze, was rich and balmy with the ambrosial scent of the summer
groves; and high overhead the old familiar hills reared their
magnificent summits into the deep unclouded blue.  But Walter's bright
eye was fixed on one spot only of the enchanting scene--the spot where
the gables of his father's house rose picturesquely on the slope above
the lake, and where a little bay in the sea of dark green firs gave him
a glimpse of their garden, in which he could discover the figures of his
brothers and sisters at their play.  A sense of unspoken, unspeakable
happiness flowed into the boy's warm heart, and if at the same moment
his eyes were suffused with tears, they were the tears that always
spring up when the fountain of the heart is stirred by any strong
emotion to its inmost depths--the tears that come even in laughter to
show that our very pleasures have their own alloy.

The coach was still behind him toiling slowly up the ascent.  Leaving it
to convey his luggage up to the house, he plunged down a green winding
path, ankle-deep in soft grasses and innumerable flowers, which led to
his home by a short cut down, the valley, along the burnside, and under
the waving woods.  That sweet woodland path, cool and fragrant on the
most burning summer-day, where he had often gathered the little red ripe
wild strawberries that peeped out here and there from between the
scented spikes of golden agrimony, and under the white graceful flowers
of the circoea, was familiar and dear to him from the earliest
childhood.  He plunged into it with delight, and springing along with
joyous steps, reached in ten minutes the wicket-gate which led into his
father's grounds.  The first thing to see and recognise him was a
graceful pet fawn of his sister's, which at his whistle came trotting to
him with delight, jingling the little silver bell which was tied by a
blue riband round its neck.  Barely stopping to caress the beautiful
little creature's head, he bounded through the orchard into the garden,
and the next instant the delighted shout of his brothers and sisters
welcomed him back, as they ran up, with all the glee of innocent and
happy childhood, to greet him with their repeated kisses.

"Ah, there are papa and mamma," he cried, breaking away from the
laughing group, as his mother advanced with open arms to meet him, and
pressed him to her heart in a long embrace.

"I'm first in my form, papa," he said, looking joyously up into his
father's face.  "Head remove again."

"Are you, Walter?  I am so happy to hear it.  Few things could give me
more pleasure."

"But that's nothing to being at _home_," he said, shouting aloud in the
uncontrolled exuberance of his spirits, and hardly knowing which way to
turn in the multiplicity of objects which seemed to claim his instant
attention.

"Do come the rounds with me, Charlie," he said to his favourite brother,
"and let me see all the dear old places again.  We shall be back in a
few minutes."

"And then, I dare say, you'll be glad of some tea," said his mother.

"_Rather_!" said Walter; "let's have it out here on the lawn, mother."

The proposal was carried by acclamation, and very soon the table was
laid under the witch elm before the house, while Walter's little sisters
had heaped up several dishes with freshly plucked fruit, laid in the
midst of flowers and vine leaves, and Walter, his face beaming and his
eyes dancing with happiness, was asking and answering a thousand
incessant questions, while yet he managed to enjoy very thoroughly a
large bunch of grapes, and an immense plate of strawberries and cream.

And when tea was over they still sat out in the lovely garden until the
witch elm had ceased to chequer their faces with its rain of flickering
light; and until the lake had paled from pure gold to rose-colour, and
from rose-colour to dull crimson, and from dull crimson to silver grey,
and rippled again from silver grey into a deep black blue, relieved by a
thousand flashing edges of molten silver and quivering gold, under the
crescent moon and the innumerable stars.  And the bats had almost ceased
to wheel, and in the moist air of early night the flowers were diffusing
their luscious sweetness, and the nightingale was flooding the grove
with her unimaginable rapture, and the eager talk had hushed itself into
a delicious calm of happy silence, before they moved.  It was a
beautiful picture--the father and mother still youthful enough to enjoy
life to the full, happy at heart, and proud of their eldest boy; his two
young brothers looking up to him with such eager hope and love; the
little sisters with their arms twined round his neck, and their fair
hair falling over his shoulders; the noble, mirthful, fearless, thrice
happy boy himself--a family circle unseparated by distance, unshadowed
by sorrow, unbroken by death, seated in this exquisite scene on the lawn
of their own happy English home.

Thrice happy! yes, in spite of sin and sorrow, and retribution and
remorse, there _are_ hours when the cup sparkles in our hands, filled to
the brim; not (as often) with earthly waters; not with the intoxicating
wine that flames in the magic bowl of pleasure; not with the red and
ragged lees of wrath and satiety; but with the crystal rivers of the
water of life itself.  There _are_ such hours at any rate for some.
Whether they come to all mankind I know not; whether the squalid Andaman
or the hideous Fuegian ever feel them I know not; nay, I know not
whether they ever come, whether they ever can come, to the wretched
outcasts of earth's abject poverty and fathomless degradation; whether
they ever come, whether they ever can come, to the cruel and the proud,
to the malicious and the mean, to the cynical and discontented; yet, if
they come not to these, God help them! for they are the surest pledges
of our immortality; and to the young and innocent--ay, and even to the
young and guilty--they do sometimes come--these hours of absorbing
limitless enjoyment; these glimpses of dimly remembered paradise; these
odours snatched from a primal Eden, from a golden age when justice still
lived upon the earth, and crime was as yet unknown.  There are such
hours, and for this English family this hour was one of them.

Thrice happy Walter! and almost like a dream of happiness these holidays
at home--and at _such_ a home--flew by.  Every day and hour was a change
from pleasure to pleasure; among the hills, in the boat on the sunlit
lake, plunging for his cool morning swim in the fresh waters,
cricketing, riding, fishing, walking with his father and mother and
brothers, sitting and talking at the cool nightfall in the moonlit
garden, Walter was as happy as the day was long.  And when Power came to
spend a week with them, again charming every one whom he saw with his
cheerful unselfishness and engaging manners, and himself charmed beyond
expression with all he saw at Walter's home, they agreed that nothing
was wanting to make their happiness "an entire and perfect chrysolite."

Power, we have seen, was something of a young poet, and on the day he
left Semlyn with Walter, who was to accompany him home, he sat a long
time silent in the train, and then tore out a leaf of his pocket-book,
on which he had scribbled the following lines on Semlyn Lake.

  If earthly homes can shine so fair
  With sky and wave so purely blue,
  Beneath the balmy purple air,
  If hills can don so rich a hue;

  If fancy fails to paint a scene
  In Eden's soft and floral glades,
  Where azure clear and golden green
  More sweetly blend with silver shades;

  If marked and flecked with sinful stains,
  Earth hath not lost her power to bless,
  But still, beneath the cloud, remains
  So steeped in perfect loveliness;

  Merged, as we are, in doubt and fear,
  Yet, when we yearn for realms of bliss,
  We scarce can dream, while lingering here,
  Of any fairer heaven than this.

Poor verses, and showing too delicate a sensibility to be healthy in any
boy; yet dear to me and dear to Walter for Power's sake, and because
they show the strange charm which Semlyn has for those who have the gift
of appreciating those natural treasures with which earth plentifully
fills her lap.



CHAPTER THIRTY.



PART II.

OLD AND NEW FACES.

  Pudorem, amicitiam, pudicitiam, divina atque humana promiscum, nihil
  pensi neque moderati habere.

  Sallust.

And now, gentle or ungentle reader, we must imagine that two whole years
have passed since the conclusion of those summer holidays, before we
again meet our young friends of Saint Winifred's.

The two years--as what years are not?--have been full of change.  Walk
across the court with me, and let us discover what we can about the
present state of things.

The first we meet are Walter and Power--taller and manlier looking than
they were, but otherwise little changed in appearance.  Walter, with his
dark hair and blue eyes, his graceful figure and open face, is still the
handsome, attractive-looking boy we used to see.  Power, too, has the
same refined, thoughtful look, the same delicate yet noble features, the
same eyes, which we recognise at once as the clear and bright index of a
beautiful and unstained soul.

And neither of these boys has failed in their promise of their earlier
days, and the warm friendship with which they regarded each other has
done much to bring about this result.  Each in his own way has rejoiced
in his youth, has passed an innocent and happy boyhood, stored with
pleasant reminiscences for after days, filled with high hopes and manly
principles, with habits well-regulated, and that fine self-control which
had taught them--

  "Rapt in reverential awe,
  To sit, self-governed in the fiery prime
  Of youth, obedient at the feet of law."

They have enjoyed the gifts of early years without squandering them in
wasteful profusion; they have felt and known that the purest pleasures
were also the sweetest and the most permanent.  Their minds are well
cultivated, their bodies are in vigorous health, their hearts are
glowing with generous impulse and warm enthusiasm; and if sorrow should
ever darken their after years, it can never drive them to despair, for
they have wandered in the pleasant paths of wisdom, they have drunk the
pure cup of innocence, they will carry out of the torrid zone of youth
clear consciences, unremorseful memories, and unpolluted minds.

Who is this who saunters across the playground, talking in loud,
self-confident tones with two or three fellows round him, his hands in
his pockets, his air haughty and nonchalant, and his cap a little on one
side?  He is still pleasant looking, his face still shows the
capabilities for good and great things, but we are obliged to say of
him:

  "Quantum mutatus ab illo
  Hectore!"

Yes, Kenrick--for it is he--is altered for the worse.  Something or
other has left, in its traces upon his face, the history of two
degenerate years.  His cheek does not look as if it were capable any
longer of an ingenuous blush, and there is a curl about his lip and
nostril which speaks of perpetual unhealthy scorn, that child of
mortified vanity and conceit, which brazens out the reproaches of
self-distrust and self-reproach.  See with what a careless, almost
patronising, air he barely notices the master who is passing by him.  He
has just flung a slight nod to Power, studiously taking care not to
notice Walter at all.  Look, too, at the boys who are with him; they are
not boys with whom we like to see him; they are an idle lot, precocious
only in folly and in vice.  And that little fellow, who seems to be his
especial favourite, is not at all to our taste; he seems the coolest of
them all.  For during the last few years Kenrick has entirely lost his
balance; he has deserted his best friends for the adulation of younger
boys, who fed his vanity, and the society of elder boys, who perverted
his thoughts, and vitiated his habits.  He has slackened in the career
of honourable industry, he has deflected from the straight paths of
integrity and virtue.  Already the fresh eagerness of youth has palled
into satiety, already some of its sparkling-wine for him is bitter as
vinegar; with him already pleasure has become hectic fever instead of a
healthy glow.  Alas! he is not happy.  Within these two years he has
lost--and his countenance betrays the fact in its ruined beauty--he has
lost the true joys of youth, and known instead of them the troubles of
the envious, the fears of the cowardly, the heaviness of the slothful,
the shame of the unclean.  He has lost something of the instinctive
shrinking, even in thought, from all that is vile and base, the loathing
of falsehood, the kindness that will not willingly give pain, the
humility which has lowly thoughts of its own worth; he has lost his joy
in things lovely, and excellent, and of good report; he has changed them
for the mirth of fools, which is like crackling thorns--changed them for
the feet that go down to death, for the steps that lay hold of hell.  It
is a mean price for which he has sold his peace of conscience--"the
sweetness of the cup that is charged with poison, the beauty of the
serpent whose bite is death."

Eden, who is seated reading on one of the benches by the wall, has
recovered from his illness, but he is not, and never will be, what, but
for Harpour's brutality, he might have been.  He is a nervous, timid,
intellectual boy.  No game, unfortunately, has any attraction for him.
The large liquid eyes, swimming sometimes with strange lustre, and often
varying in colour, the delicate flush which any pulse of emotion drives
glowing into the somewhat pale face, give to him an almost girlish
aspect, and tell the tale of a weakened constitution.  Eden's
development has been quite altered by his fright; most of the vivacity
and playfulness of his character has vanished; and although it flashes
out with pleasant mirth when he is alone with his few closest friends,
such as Walter and Power, his manner is, for the most part, very quiet
and reserved.  Yet Eden has a position of his own in the school; and
unobtrusive as he is, his opinion is always listened to with kindness
and respect.  When he came into school again after his recovery he was
received, as I have said already, with almost brotherly affection by all
the boys, who felt how much he had been wronged.  He became the child
and protege of the school, and any cruelty to _him_ would, after this,
have been violently resented.  Devoting himself wholly to work and
reading, he became very successful in his progress, and is now in the
second fifth.  But what chiefly marks him is his extreme gentleness, and
the eager way in which he strives to help all the younger and most
helpless boys.  Experience of suffering has given him a keen sympathy
with the oppressed, and young as he is he is still doing a useful work.

There is Harpour playing rackets, and he is playing remarkably well.  He
is now nineteen, and a personage of immense importance in the school,
for he is head of the cricket eleven, Walter being head of the football.
Harpour is quite unchanged, and if he was doing mischief when we knew
him two years ago, he is doing twice as much mischief now.  His
influence is unmitigatedly pernicious.  With just enough cunning skill
to escape detection, he yet signalises himself by complicity in every
form of wrong which goes on in the school, and some new wrongs he
introduces and invents.  But nothing delights him so much as to
instigate other boys to resist the authority of the masters.  They know
him to be a nucleus of disorder and wickedness, but he has acted with
such consummate ingenuity as to avoid even laying himself open to any
distinct proof of his many offences.

He is just now stopping for a minute in his game to talk to those three
boys, who have been strutting up and down the court arm in arm, and whom
we easily recognise.  The one with the red puffy face, with an enormous
gold pin in his cravat, a bunch of charms hanging to his chain, and a
ring on his hand, which he loses no opportunity of displaying, is our
friend Jones, with vulgarity as usual stamped on every feature, and
displayed in every movement which he makes; the tall slim fellow, with
an air of feeble fastness, an indecisive mouth, a habit of running his
hand through his light-coloured hair, and a gaze which usually settles
in fixed admiration on his faultless boots, can be no one but Howard
Tracy; the third, a fellow with far more meaning and strength in his
face, betrays himself to be Mackworth, by the insinuating plausibility
and Belial-like grace of his manner and aspect.  A dangerous serpent
this; one never sees him, or hears him speak, or observes the dark
glitter of his eye, without being reminded of a cerastes lythely
rustling through the dry grass towards its victim.

And there at last--I thought we should never see him--is our dear young
joker of jokes, the same unaltered Flip whom we know, running down the
school steps.  His face is overflowing with mirth and fun, and now he is
stopping and holding both his sides for laughter, while, with little
touches of his own, he retails some of the strange blunders which Bliss
has made in the _viva voce_ examination that morning; to which his
friend Whalley listens with the same good-humoured smile which he had of
old.  Henderson is a perfect mimic, but never uses his powers of mimicry
in an ill-natured spirit; and his imitation of Bliss's stolid perplexity
and Dr Lane's comments are very ludicrous.  While he is in the middle
of this narrative, Bliss himself appears on the scene and relieves his
feelings by delivering the only pun he ever made in his life, and
observing, in a solemn tone of voice--

"Flip, don't be flippant;" a remark which he has substituted for the
"I'll lick you, Flip," of old days.

"You dear old Blissidas, I _think_ I've heard that pun once or twice
before," observes Henderson, calmly pulling undone the bow of Bliss's
necktie, and running off to escape retaliation, followed at his leisure
by Whalley, who knows Bliss to be much too lazy to pursue the chase very
far.

Let us come and hear--for we have put on our cap of darkness and are
invisible, coming and going where we like, unobserved--what our four
fast friends at the racket-court are talking about.

"We shall have lots of larks this half," observes Harpour, leaning on
his racket.

"Yes; such fun, old boy," answers Jones.

"I declare this dull old place was getting quite lively before last
holidays," says Mackworth; "we shall soon get things all right here."

"Fancy that fellow Power head of the school," said Harpour, bursting
into a roar of scornful laughter, echoed in faint sniggerings by Jones
and Tracy.

"Might as well have a jug of milk and water head of the school," sneered
Mackworth.

"Or a bottle of French polish, I should think," casually suggests
Henderson, who, _en passant_, has heard the last remark.

"Damn that fellow," says Mackworth, stamping, "by Jove, I'll be even
with him some day."

"Is he one of the new monitors?" asks Jones.

"Yes," says Tracy, "and Evson's another;" and at Walter's name the faces
of all four grew darker; "and Kenrick's a third."

"O, Kenrick is, is he? that's all right.  Jolly fellow is Ken," observes
Harpour, approvingly.  "Yes, quite up to snuff," adds Jones; "and a
thorough gentlemanly chap," assents Mackworth; for, amazing to relate,
Kenrick is on good terms with these fellows now, though he has never
spoken to Walter yet.

"Of good family, too, on the mother's side," drawls Tracy, with his hand
lifting his locks.

"I say, old fellows," says Harpour, with many knowing looks and winks,
and poking of his friends in the ribs.  "I say, stunning tap at Dan's,
you know, eh?  I say;" whereupon the others laugh, and Belial Mackworth
observes, "And let those monitors try to peach if they dare.  We'll soon
have _them_ under our thumb."

After which, as their conversation is supremely repulsive, let us go and
take a breath of delicious pure sea air, and seat ourselves by Walter
and Power on the shore.  Walter is in good, and even gay spirits, being
fresh from Semlyn, but Power seems a little grave and depressed.

"Look, Walter," he says, shying a round stone at a bit of embedded rock
about twenty yards before them, but missing it; "I believe it was that
identical rock--"

"_That_ identical rock," said Walter, taking a better shot, and hitting
it; "well, what about it?"

"--On which you were standing one autumn evening three years ago, when
the tide was coming in--"

"And to save me wet trousers you took off your shoes and stockings, and
carried me in on your back," said Walter.  "I remember it well, Rex; it
was a happy day for me.  I recollect I'd been very miserable; it was
after the Paton affair, you know, and every one was cutting me.  Your
coming to speak to me was about the last thing in the world I expected
and the best thing I could have hoped.  I'd often wanted to know you,
longed to have you as a friend; but I used to lock up to you as such a
young swell in those days that I never thought we should meet each
other."

"Pooh!" said Power; "but wasn't it good now of me to break the ice and
speak first?  I declare, I think I've never done it with any one else.
_You'd_ never have done it--now confess?  Only fancy, we mightn't have
known each other till this day."

"I shouldn't have done it at _that_ time," said Walter, "because I was
in Coventry; but--well, never mind, Rex, we understand each other.  I
was looking at some porpoises, I remember."

"Yes; happy days they were after that.  I wish the time was back again!
Fancy you a monitor, and me head of the school!"

"Fancy! we've got up the school so much faster than we used to expect."

"Yes; but I wish we could change places, and you be head and I sixth
monitor as you are.  You'll help me, Walter, won't you?"

"You don't doubt that, Rex, I'm sure; _all_ the help _I_ can give is
yours."

"If it weren't for that, I think I would have left, Walter.  I don't
think, somehow, I've influence enough for head.  I'm not swell enough at
the games."

"You play though now, and enjoy them; and I don't half believe you, Rex,
when you talked of having wished to leave.  That would have been
cowardice, you know, and you're not the boy to leave your post."

"Here I am then in my place, armour on, visor down, determined not to
fly, like the Roman soldier whose skeleton was found in the sentry box
at Pompeii," said Power, playfully getting up and assuming a military
attitude.

"And here am I," said Walter, laughing, as he stood beside him with one
foot advanced--"I, your sixth Hyperaspistes."

"The sixth!--the _first_ you mean," said Power.  "The four monitors,
between you and me, won't, I fear, help us much.  Browne is very
short-sighted, and always shutting up with a headache; Smythe is a mere
book-worm, and a regular butt even among the little fellows--worse than
useless--no dignity or anything else; Kenrick (for Kenrick had so far
kept the advantage of his original start that, much as he had fallen off
in work, Walter had not yet got above him)--well, you know what Ken is!"

"Yes, I know what Ken is now--_Hespemor en phthimenoir_--he's our chief
danger--a doubtful general in the camp.  Hullo, Flip, _you_ here?" said
he, as Henderson came up and joined them.

"Myself, O Evides; who's the doubtful general in the camp?--not I, I
hope."

"You, Flip? no; but Kenrick.  We're talking about the monitors."

"A doubtful general!--a traitor, you mean, an enemy, a spy," said
Henderson, hotly.  "There, now, don't stop me, Power; abuse is a good
safety-valve; the scream of the steam-engine letting off superfluous
vapour.  I should dislike him far worse if I bottled up against him a
silent spite, hated him in the dark, and didn't openly abuse him
sometimes."

Power's large and gentle mind, and Walter's generous temper prevented
them from joining in Henderson's strong language; but they felt no less
than he did that, if they were to work for the good of the school,
Kenrick would be their most dangerous, though not their declared,
opponent.  A monitor who seemed to recognise none of a monitor's duties,
who openly broke rules and defied discipline, who smoked and went to
public-houses, and habitually associated with inferiors, and those the
least creditable set in the school, did more to damage the authority of
the upper boys than _any_ number of external assaults on them if they
were consistent and united among themselves.

"I foresee storms ahead," said Power, with a sigh.  "Flip, you must
stand by me as well as Walter."

"Never fear," said Henderson; "but remember I'm only the junior monitor
of the lot, and I'm so quick-tempered, I'm always afraid of stirring up
a commotion some day with the Harpoons"--as Henderson had christened the
Harpour lot.

"You must be like the lightning-kite then," said Power, "and turn the
flash away from us."

  "`And dash the beauteous terror to the ground,
  Smiling majestic,'"

observed Henderson, parodying the gesture, and making the others laugh.

"Do you remember Somers, and Dimock, and Danvers?  What big fellows the
monitors used to be then!" said Power.

"And do you remember certain boys whom Somers, and Dimock, and Danvers
praised on a certain occasion?" said Walter.  "Come, Rex, don't despond.
We weren't afraid then, why should we be now?"

"But then they had Macon, and fellows like that, to uphold them in the
school."

"So have _we_," said Henderson; "first and foremost Whalley, who's now
got his remove into the upper sixth; then there's dear old Blissidas,
who has arms if he hasn't got brains, and who is as staunch as a rock;
and best of all, perhaps, there's Franklin, second in both elevens,
brave as a lion, strong as a bull.  By the by, as I have a
lightning-kite ready made for you no doubt; he's accustomed to the
experiment."

"Why, Flip, you talk as if we were going to have a pitched battle," said
Power, ignoring his joke about Franklin.

"So we are--practically and morally.  Look out for skirmishes from the
Harpour lot; especially the world, the flesh, and the devil, whom I just
saw arm in arm."

"What _do_ you mean, Flip?" asked Walter, laughing.

"Mean! nothing at all--only Tracy, Jones, and Mackworth.  Tracy's the
world, Jones is the flesh--raw flesh; and Mackworth's the other thing."

"I'll tell you of two more who won't let the school override us if they
can help it," said Walter; "Cradock and Eden."

"Briareus and Paradise," said Henderson; "poor Eden, he can't do much
for us except look on with large troubled eyes."

"Can't he though, Flip? he's got a good deal of power."

"He's got a great deal of good from Power, I know, but--"

"But don't be a donkey, Flip."

"Do shut up.  Why should you two expect such a dead assault on the
monitors this half?" said Power.

"Why, the fifth has in it a more turbulent lot just now than I ever knew
before; big impudent fellows, with no good in them, and quite at the
beck of the Harpour set," said Walter.

"Yes, and with that fellow Kenrick for a protagonist," said Henderson;
"he and Harpour have always been at mischief about the monitors since
they caught it so tremendously from Somers.  Well, never mind; _aide toi
et ciel t'aidera_.  Why, look, there's Paradise, taking charge as usual
of a little new fellow; who is it?"

"Look and see," said Walter, as a little fellow came up, with an
unmistakable family resemblance--a pretty boy, with fresh round cheeks,
and light hair, which shone like gold when the sunshine fell upon it.

"Why, Walter--why, this must be your brother.  Well, I declare! an
Evides secundus, Evides redivivus.  Just what you were the day you came,
and made Jones look small three years ago.  How do you do, young 'un?"
He shook him kindly by the hand and said, "You're a lucky little fellow
to have a monitor brother, and Eden to look after you from the first.  I
wish _I'd_ been so lucky, I know."

"O Walter, what a _jolly_ place this is," said his little
brother,--"jollier than Semlyn even."

"Wait a bit, Charlie; don't make up your mind too soon," said Walter;
while Eden looked at the boy with a somewhat sad smile playing on his
lips.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

AMONG THE NOELITES.

  But, I pray you, who is his companion?  Is there no young squarer now
  that will make a voyage with him to the devil?

  Much Ado about Nothing.

  Etiam si quis a culpa vacuus in amicitiam ejus inciderat, quotidiano
  usu per similisque ceteris efficiebatur.--Sallust.

The changes described in the last chapter were not the only ones which
seriously affected the prosperity of Saint Winifred's School, for the
stall of masters was also partly altered during the last two years, and
the alterations had not been improvements.  Mr Paton--who had by this
time manfully resumed his old theological labours, and who, to please
Walter, had often employed him as a willing amanuensis in attempting to
replace the burnt manuscript--had retired from his mastership to a quiet
country living to which he had been presented by Sir Lawrence Power.
Strange as it may seem, Mr Paton chiefly, though of course indirectly,
owed this living to Walter, who had first talked to Sir Lawrence about
Mr Paton, in terms of deep regard.  The opportunity, therefore, which
Walter had sought so earnestly, of atoning in some way for the mischief
which he had done to his old master, was amply granted to him; and Mr
Paton never felt more strongly, that even out of the deepest apparent
evils God can bring about undoubted blessings.  Saint Winifred's,
however, was the loser by his promotion.  The benefit of his impartial
justice and stern discipline, and the weight of his firm and manly
character in the councils of the school, was gone.  And Saint Winifred's
had suffered a still greater loss in the departure of Mr Percival, who
had accepted, some months before, the offer of a tutorship in his own
university.  Had he continued where he was, his influence, his
well-deserved popularity, his kind, wise, conciliatory manner, the
gratitude which rewarded his ready and self-denying sympathy, would, in
the troubled period which ensued, have been even more useful than his
brilliant scholarship and successful method of teaching a form.  These
two masters had left amid the universal regret of the boys and of their
colleagues, and their places had been filled up by younger, less able,
and less experienced men.

And worse than this, Dr Lane, soon after the term began, was taken
seriously ill, and was ordered to the German baths for two months,
during which his work was done by another master, who had not the same
influence.  From all which causes, this half-year at Saint Winifreds was
the most turbulent, the most riotous, and the most unhappy, ever known
in that honourable and ancient school.

So little Charlie Evson soon found reason to revise and modify his
opinion, that Saint Winifred's--as he _then_ saw it--was jollier than
even Semlyn itself.  His name had been entered in the list of Mr
Percival's house, before it was known that he was going to leave.
Walter liked Mr Percival so much better than he did his own tutor, Mr
Robertson, and had experienced from him so much more kindness, that he
thought it would be an advantage for Charlie to be placed directly under
so wise and kind a friend; and Mr Evson, afraid that his little son
would be quite overshadowed by his elder brother, and that Walter's
influence, which was very transcendent over Charlie's mind, would make
him too dependent on another, and prevent him from developing his own
natural character, was by no means averse to the arrangement.  But since
Mr Percival had left, Charlie, with the other boys in the house, was
handed over to the charge of Mr Noel, a new master, who had to win his
way and learn his work, neither of which he succeeded in doing until he
had committed many mistakes.

In this house were Kenrick and Mackworth--Kenrick, as monitor, was in
some measure responsible for the character of the house, and he had
Charlie as one of his fags.  At this time, as I have already observed
with sorrow, Kenrick's influence was not only useless for good, but was
even positively bad.  There was _no_ other monitor who did not try to be
of some use to his fags; many of the monitors, by quiet kindnesses and
useful hints, by judicious help and unselfish sympathy, were of most
real service to the boys who nominally "fagged" for them, but who, in
point of fact, were required to do nothing except taking an occasional
message, seeing that the study fires did not go out, and carrying up the
tea and breakfast for a week each, in order of rotation.  Few Saint
Winifred's boys would have hesitated to admit that they would have been
less happy, and would have had fewer chances in school-life, if they had
not been fags at first, and thereby found friends and protectors in the
boys for whom they fagged.  Kenrick, however, did not follow the good
example which had become almost traditional; for, filled as he was with
the spirit of wilful pride, and on bad terms with the order to which he
belonged, he either spoiled his fags by petting and pampering them, and
letting them see his own disregard for duty, or, if they did not take
his fancy, he snubbed and disregarded them--at any rate, did nothing
whatever to help them.

Kenrick was quite willing to have placed Charlie Evson in the first of
these classes, for he was a boy whom it was impossible to see and not to
like.  His antagonistic position towards most of his own body, made him
the head of a sort of faction in the school, and he would have been
proud beyond measure to have had any boy like Charlie as one of his
followers.  But Kenrick had better reasons for wishing to attach Charlie
to himself.  Deeply as he had degenerated, disgraceful as his present
conduct was, Kenrick, in the secret depths of his soul, sighed and pined
for better things; though vice, and folly, and pride had their
attractions for him, he was still sick at heart for the purer atmosphere
which he had left.  He looked at Charlie with vague hopes, for through
him he thought that he might yet perhaps, without lowering his pride by
actually seeming to have made any advance, bring about a reconciliation
with his best and earliest friends, bring about a return to his former
and more upright course.

But this was not to be.  When a boy goes wrong he strews every step of
his downward career with obstacles against his own return; and he little
dreams how difficult of removal some of these obstacles will be.  The
obstacle in this case was another little fag of Kenrick's, named Wilton.
I am sorry to write of that boy.  Young in years, he was singularly old
in vice.  A more brazen, a more impudent, a more hardened little
scapegrace--in schoolboy language, "a cooler hand"--it would have been
impossible to find.  He had early gained the name of Raven from his
artful looks.  His manner was a mixture of calm audacity and consummate
self-conceit.  Though you knew him to be a thorough scamp, the young imp
would stare you in the face with the effrontery of a man about town.  He
was active, sharp, and nice-looking, and there was nothing which he was
either afraid or ashamed to do.  He had not a particle of that modesty
which in every good boy is as natural as it is graceful; he could tell a
lie without the slightest hesitation or the faintest blush; nay, while
he was telling it, though _he_ knew that you _knew_ it to be a lie, he
would not abash for an instant the cold glance of his wicked dark eyes.
Yet this boy, like Charlie, was only thirteen years old.  And for all
these reasons, Wilton was the idol of all the big bad boys in the
school; and in spite of all these reasons--for the boy had in him the
fascination of a serpent--he was the declared favourite of Kenrick too.

The three boys who gave the tone to Mr Noel's house, were Kenrick,
Mackworth, and Wilton.  They formed as it were an electric chain of bad
influence, and as they were severally prominent in the chief divisions
of the school, they had peculiar opportunities for doing harm.
Kenrick's evil example told with extraordinary power through the whole
house, and especially upon the highest boys, who naturally imitated him.
I do not mean to say that Kenrick had sunk so low that wilfully and
consciously he lowered the character of the house, which as monitor he
ought to have improved and raised; but he _did_ so whether with
intention or not; he did so negatively by neglecting all his duties, and
by giving no direct countenance to what was right; he did so positively
by not openly discountenancing, and by actually practising, many things
which he knew to be wrong.  The bad work was carried on by Mackworth,
who was the most prominent fifth-form boy in the house.  This boy's
ability, and strength of will, and keenness of tongue, gave him immense
authority, and enabled him to carry out almost everything he liked.  To
complete the mischief, among the lower boys Wilton reigned supreme; and
as Wilton was prouder of Kenrick's patronage than of anything else, and
by flattery and cajolery could win over Kenrick to nearly anything, the
worst part of the characters of these boys acting and reacting on each
other, leavened the house through and through with all that is least
good, or true, or lovely, or of a good report.  The mischief began
before Mr Percival left, but it never could have proceeded half so far,
if Mr Noel's inexperience, and the very kindness which led him to relax
the existing discipline, had not tempted the boys to unwonted
presumption.

Such was the state of things when Charlie entered Mr Noel's house.
Walter knew that Mr Percival's promotion had frustrated the plan he had
formed when he advised his father to put Charlie in that house, but the
step could not now be recalled, nor, indeed, was Walter or any other
monitor aware how bad the state of things had become.  For among other
dangerous innovations, Mackworth and Wilton had brought about a kind of
understanding, that the house should to some extent keep to itself,
resent all intrusion into its own precincts, and maintain a profound
silence about its own secrets.  Besides all this, Walter bitterly and
sorrowfully felt that for some reason, which he was unable to fathom,
the whole school was just then in an unsatisfactory state, and that
Charlie, for whom his whole heart yearned with brotherly love and pity,
would be exposed to severe temptations in whatever house he should be
placed.  He hoped too that, as Charlie would always have the run of his
and of Power's study, it would make little difference to him that he was
under a different house master.

To Mackworth and Wilton the arrival of one or two new boys was a matter
of some importance, but little anxiety.  The new boys were necessarily
young, and in the present united state of the house, it was tolerably
certain that they would catch the prevalent spirit, and be quickly
assimilated to the condition of the others.  The task of moulding them--
if they were at all difficult to manage--fell to Wilton, and he
certainly accomplished it with astonishing success.  A newcomer's
sensibilities were not too quickly shocked.  The Noelites, for their own
purposes, behaved very kindly to him at first; they were first-rate
hands at "destroying a boy by means of his best affections," at
"seething a kid in its mother's milk."  The bad language, the school
trickeries and deceits, the dodges for breaking rules and escaping
punishments, the agreed-on lies to avoid detection, the suppers, and
brandy, and smoking parties, and false keys to get out after lock-up,
and all the other detestable symptoms of a vitiated and depraved set,
were carefully kept in abeyance at first.  The new fellow was treated
very kindly, was sounded and fathomed cautiously, was taught to get up a
strong house feeling by perpetual endeavours to wake in him the _esprit
de corps_, was gently ridiculed if he displayed any good principle, was
tremendously bullied if he showed signs of recalcitrance, was according
to his temperament led, or coaxed, or initiated, or intimidated, into
the condition of wickedness required of him before the house could
continue to go to the devil, as fast as it wished to do, and was doing
before.  This was Mackworth's work, and Wilton acted as his Azazel, and
Kenrick did not interfere, though he knew or guessed all that was going
on; he did not interfere, he did not prevent it, he did not even
remonstrate at first, and afterwards he began by acquiescing, he ended
by--yes, the truth must be told--he ended in joining in it all.  O
Kenrick, when human beings meet face to face before a certain
judgment-seat, there are some young souls who will have a bill of
indictment against you; the same who may point to Mackworth or to
Wilton, and say, as of old, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."
Five new boys had come this half-year.  Four of them had been sounded by
the rest of the house; one of them, named Stone, had come from a large
private school, and was prepared for whatever he might find in more
senses than one.  Another, Symes, was a boy ill-trained at home, of no
particular principles, and quite ready to flow with the stream.  A
third, Hanley, had come meaning to be good; he had been shocked when he
first heard oaths, and when he was first asked if he would mind telling
any of the regular lies--"crams" the boys called them--in the event of
any master questioning him; but his wounded sensibilities were very
quickly healed, and he had passed with fatal facility from disgust to
indifference, from indifference to toleration.  The fourth, Elgood, was
a timid child, for whom no one cared either way, and whom they took care
to frighten into promising to do whatever he was ordered.  A terrible
state of things--was it not?  But, ah me! it was so once upon a time.
The fifth new boy in Mr Noel's house was Charles Evson; and with this
fifth new boy the devil's agents knew instinctively that they would have
a great deal of trouble.  But they meant to bait their hook very
carefully, and they did not at all despair.  Their task was made
peculiarly piquant by its very difficulty, and by the fact that Charlie
was one in whom their declared enemy, Walter Evson, was so nearly
concerned.  They were determined by fair means or foul to win him over,
and make him their proselyte, until he became as much a child of sin as
they were themselves.  But they proceeded to their task with the utmost
caution, and endeavoured to charm Charlie over to their views by showing
him great attention, by trying to make things pleasant for him, by
flattering him with notice, and seeming to welcome him cordially as one
of themselves.  Their dissimulation was profound; at first the new boy
found everything quite delightful, and before a week was over had
caught, as they meant him to catch, the spirit of party, and always was
ready to stick up for the Noelites as the best house in the school.  So
far so good; but this was only the first step of initiation into these
Eleusinian mysteries.

So Master Wilton--Belial junior, as Henderson always called him--
ingratiated himself into Charlie's favour, and tried, not without
success, to make himself peculiarly agreeable.  At first sight, indeed,
Charlie felt an inward repulsion to him.  He did not know _why_ he did,
for, so far from there being anything obviously repulsive in Wilton's
look or manners, there were many who thought him the picture of
innocence, and considered his manners quite perfection in their
politeness and good breeding.  Charlie therefore instantly conquered his
first feeling of dislike as uncharitable and groundless; and as Wilton
seemed to lay himself out for his friendship, he was oftener with him
during the first fortnight than with any other boy.  It was strange to
see the two together, so utterly different were they in every respect,
and so great was the contrast of Charlie's sweet, bright, modest face,
with the indescribable dangerous coolness of Wilton's knowing smile.

"Look," said Henderson to Whalley, as he saw them together one day in
the playground; "there go Ithuriel and Belial junior, very thick at
present."

"Yes; I don't like to see it.  I don't hear any good of that fellow
Wilton."

"Good!  I should rather think not!"

"Give young Evson a hint, Flip, will you, that Wilton's not a good
friend for him.  He looks a nice little fellow, and I don't like to tell
him, because I don't know him."

"Never fear; when Charlie touches him with his spear, or sees him light
on the top of Niphates--one of which things will happen soon enough--
he'll not be slow to discover who he is.  If not, I'll tell Walter, and
he shall be Charlie's Uriel."

"Touches him with his spear!--what spear?--top of Niphates!--Uriel!"
said Whalley, with ludicrous astonishment; "here, Power, you're just in
time to help me to put a strait-waistcoat on Flip.  He says that when
Wilton lights on the top of Niphates, which he will do soon, young Evson
will discover that he's a scamp.  What _does_ it all mean?"

"It only means that Flip and I have been reading the Paradise Lost,"
said Power, laughing, "and at present Flip's mind is a Miltonic
conglomerate."  And he proceeded to explain to Whalley that Ithuriel was
one of the Cherubs who guarded Eden--

("Only that in this case Eden guards the cherub," observed Henderson,
parenthetically.)

"--and who, by touching Satan with his spear, made him bound up in his
original state, when he sat like a toad squat at the ear of Eve, and,
moreover, that Uriel had recognised Satan through his mask, when,
lighting on Niphates, his looks became `Alien from heaven, with passions
foul obscured.'"

"Seriously, though," said Henderson, "Uriel must be asleep, or he
wouldn't let his little brother get under Belial's wings."

In fact, Wilton was forced to keep on the mask much longer than he had
ever meant to do.  He could find no joint in Charlie's armour.  The boy
was so thoroughly manly, so simple-hearted, so trustful and innocent,
that Wilton could make nothing of him.  If he tried to indoctrinate
Charlie into the state of morality among the Noelites, either Charlie
did not understand him, or else quite openly expressed his disapproval
and even indignation; and when finally Wilton quite tired out, did throw
off the mask, Charlie shook him away from him, turned with a sickening
sensation from the unbared features of vice, and unfeignedly loathed the
boy who had pretended to be his friend--loathed him all the more because
he had tried to like him, but now saw the snare which was being spread
in his sight.

Every now and then during their early intercourse Charlie had felt a
certain restraint in talking to Wilton; he could not be at ease with him
though he tried.  He caught the gleam of the snake through the flowers
that only half concealed his folds.  And Wilton, too, had got very tired
of playing a part.  He could not help his real wickedness cropping out
now and then, yet whenever it did, Charlie started in such a way that
even Wilton was ashamed; and though generally the shafts of conscience
glanced off from the panoply of steel and ice which cased this boy's
heart, yet during these days they once or twice reached the mark, and
made him smart with long-unwonted anguish.  He was conscious that he was
doing the devil's work, and doing it for very poor wages, he felt now
and then Charlie's immense superiority to himself, and, in a mood of
pity, when, as they were standing one day in Mr Noel's private room to
say a lesson, he caught sight of their two selves reflected in the
looking-glass over the mantelpiece, and realised the immense gulf which
separated them--a gulf not of void chaos and flaming space, but the
deeper gulf of warped affections and sinful thoughts--he had felt a
sudden longing to be other than what he was, to have Charlie for a true
friend, to give up trying to make him a bad boy, and to fall at his feet
and ask his pardon.  And when he had doggedly failed in his lesson, and
got his customary bad mark, and customary punishment, and received his
customary objurgation, that he was getting worse and worse, and that his
time was utterly wasted--and when he saw the master's face light up with
a pleased expression as Charlie went cheerfully and faultlessly through
his work--a sudden paroxysm of penitence seized Wilton, and, once out of
the room, he left Charlie and ran up the stairs to Kenrick's study, in
which he was allowed to sit whenever he liked.  No one was there, and
throwing himself into a chair, Wilton covered his face with both hands,
and burst into passionate tears.  A long train of thoughts and memories
passed through his mind--memories of his own headlong fall to what he
was, memories of younger and of innocent days, memories of a father, now
dead, who had often set him on his knee, and prayed, before all other
things, that he might grow up a good and truthful boy, and with no stain
upon his name.  But while memory whispered of past innocence, conscience
told him of present guilt; told him that if his father could have
foreseen what he would become, his heart would have broken; told him,
and he knew it, that his name was a proverb and a byeword in the school.
But the prominent and the recurring thought was ever this--"Is it too
late to mend?  Is the door shut against me?"  For Wilton remembered how
once before his mind was harrowed by fear and guilt as he had listened
to Mr Percival's parting sermon on that sad text--one of the saddest in
all the Holy Book--"_And the door was shut_."

Suddenly he was startled violently from his reverie, for the door _was_
shut with a bang, and Kenrick, entering, flung himself in a chair,
saying, with a vexed expression of voice, "Too late."

It was but a set of verses which Kenrick had written for a prize
exercise, and which he had just sent in too late.  He had not lost all
ambition, but he had no real friend now to inspirit or stimulate him, so
that he often procrastinated, and was seldom successful with anything.

But his accidental words fell with awful meaning and strange emphasis on
poor Wilton's ear.  Wilton had never heard of the Bath Kol, he knew
nothing of the power that wields the tongue amid the chances of destiny;
but fear made him superstitious, and, forgetting his usual
dissimulation, he looked up at Kenrick aghast, without wiping away the
traces which unwonted tears had left upon his face.

"Why, Raven, boy, what's the matter?" asked Kenrick, looking at him with
astonishment; "much _you_ care for my having a set of iambics too late."

"Oh, is that all?" asked Wilton, still looking frightened.

"All?  Yes; and enough, too, for me.  But"--stopping suddenly--"why,
Raven, what's the row?  You've been crying, by all that's odd!  Why, I
didn't know you'd ever shed a tear since you'd been in the cradle.
Raven crying--what a notion!  Crocodile tears, eh?"

Wilton was ashamed to have been caught crying, and angry to be laughed
at.  He was leaving the room silently and in a pet, when Kenrick caught
him, and, looking at him, said in a kindlier tone--

"Nonsense, Ra; don't mind a little chaff.  What's happened?  Nothing
serious, I hope?"

But Wilton was angry and miserable just then, and struggled to get free.
He did not venture to tell Kenrick what had really been passing through
his mind.  "Let me go," he said, struggling to get free.

"O, go, by all means," said Kenrick, with his pride all on fire in a
moment; "don't suppose that I want you or care for you;" and he turned
his back on Wilton, to whom he had never once spoken harshly before.

The current of Wilton's thoughts was turned; he really loved Kenrick,
who was the only person for whom he had any regard at all.  Besides,
Kenrick's support and favour were everything to him just then, and he
stopped irresolutely at the door, unwilling to leave him in anger.

"What do you want?  Why don't you go?" asked Kenrick, with his back
still turned.

Wilton came back to the window, and humbly took Kenrick's hand, looking
up at him as though to ask forgiveness.

"How odd you are to-day, Raven," said Kenrick, relenting.  "What were
you crying about when I came in?"

"Well, I'll tell you, Ken.  I was thinking how much better some fellows
are than I am, and whether it was _too late_ to begin afresh, and
whether the door _was open_ to me still, when you came in, and said,
`Too late,' and banged the door, which I took for an answer to my
thoughts."

They were the first serious words Kenrick had ever heard from Wilton;
but he did not choose to heed them, and only said, after a pause--

"Other fellows better than you?  Not a bit of it.  Less plucky, perhaps;
greater hypocrites, certainly; but you are the jolliest of them all,
Ra."

And with that silly, silly speech Wilton was reassured; a gratified
smile perched itself upon his lips, and his eyes sparkled with delight;
nor was he soon revisited by any qualms of conscience.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

DISENCHANTMENT.

"How do you get on with the young Evson, Ra?" asked Mackworth of Wilton,
with a sneer.

"Not at all," said Wilton.  "He's awfully particular and strait-laced,
just like that brother of his.  No more fun while he's in the house."

"Confound him," said Mackworth, frowning darkly; "if he doesn't like
what he sees, he must lump it.  He's not worth any more trouble."

"So, Mack, _you_ too have discovered what he's like."

"Yes, I have," answered Mackworth savagely.  For all his polish, his
courtesies, and civilities had not succeeded in making Charlie conceal
how much he feared and disliked him.  The young horse rears the first
time it hears the adder's hiss, and the dove's eye trembles
instinctively when the hawk is near.  Charlie half knew and half guessed
the kind of character he had to deal with, and made Mackworth hate him
with deadly hatred by the way in which, without one particle of rudeness
or conceit, he managed to keep him at a distance, and check every
approach to intimacy.

With Kenrick the case was different.  Charlie thought that he looked one
of the nicest and best fellows in the house, but he could not get over
the fact that Wilton was his favourite.  It was Wilton's constant and
daily boast that Ken would do anything for him; and Charlie felt that
Wilton was not a boy whom Walter or Power at any rate would even have
tolerated, much less liked.  It was this that made him receive Kenrick's
advances with shyness and coldness; and when Kenrick observed this, he
at once concluded that Charlie had been set against him by Walter, and
that he would report to Walter all he did and said.  This belief was
galling to him as wormwood.  Suddenly, and with most insulting
publicity, he turned Charlie off from being one of his fags, and from
that time never spoke of him without a sneer, and never spoke to him at
all.

Meanwhile, as the term advanced, Saint Winifred's gradually revealed
itself to Charlie in a more and more unfavourable light.  The discipline
of the school was in a most impaired state; the evening work grew more
and more disorderly; few of the monitors did their duty with any vigour,
and the big idle fellows in the fifth set the example of insolence
towards them and rudeness to the masters.  All rules were set at
defiance with impunity, and in the chaos which ensued, every one did
what was right in his own eyes.

One evening, during evening work, Charlie was trying hard to do the
verses which had been set to his form.  He found it very difficult in
the noise that was going on.  Not half a dozen fellows in the room were
working or attempting to work; they were talking, laughing, rattling the
desks, playing tricks on each other, and throwing books about the room.
The one bewildered new master, who nominally kept order among the two
hundred boys in the room, walked up and down in despair, speaking in
vain first to one, then to another, and almost giving up the farce of
attempting to maintain silence.  But seeing Charlie seriously at work he
came up and asked if he could give him any assistance.

Charlie gratefully thanked him, and the master sat down to try and
smooth some of his difficulties.  His doing so was the sign for an
audible titter, which there was no attempt to suppress; and when he had
passed on, Wilton, whose conduct had been more impertinent than that of
any one else, said to Charlie--

"I say, young Evson, how you are grinding."

"I have these verses to do," said Charlie simply.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Wilton, as though he had made some good joke.
"Here, shall I give you a wrinkle?"

"Yes, if it's allowed."

The answer was greeted with another laugh, and Wilton said, "I'll save
you all further trouble, young 'un.  Observe the dodge; we're all up to
it."

He put up a white handkerchief to his nose, and walking to the master
said, "Please, sir, my nose is bleeding.  May I go out for a minute?"

"Your nose bleeding?  That's the third time your nose has bled this
week, and other boys have also come with their noses bleeding."

"Do you doubt my word, sir?" asked Wilton, his handkerchief still held
up, and assuming an injured air.

"I should be sorry to do so until you give me reason," answered the
master, courteously.  "It seems a strange circumstance, but you may go."

It would have been very easy to see whether his nose was bleeding or
not, but the master was trying, very unsuccessfully at present, whether
implicit confidence would produce a sense of honour among the boys.

Wilton went out hardly concealing his laughter, and in ten minutes
returned with the verses, finished and written out.  "There," he said,
"Ken did those for me; he knocked them off in five minutes.  Ken's an
awfully clever fellow, though he never opens a book.  Don't bore
yourself with verses any more; I'll get them done for you."

Charlie glanced at the paper, and saw at once that the verses were
perfectly done.  "Do you mean to show up that copy as your own, Wilton?"

"Of course I do."

"But we are marked for them."

"Hear! hear! thanks for the information.  So much the better.  I shall
get a jolly good mark."

"Shut up, young innocence, and don't be a muff," said another Noelite.
"We all do the same thing.  Take what heaven sends you and be glad to
get it."

"Thank you," said Charlie, looking round; "you may, but I'd rather not.
It isn't fair."

"Oh, how good we are! how sweet we are! what an angel we are!" said
Wilton, turning up the whites of his eyes, while the rest applauded him.
But if they meant their jeers to tell on Charlie's resolution, they
were mistaken.  He looked quietly round at them all with his clear eyes,
gravely handed the paper back to Wilton, and quietly resumed his work.
They were angry to be so foiled, and determined that, if he would not
copy the verses, he should at least do them in no other way.  One of
them took his paper and tore it, another split his quill pens by dashing
them on the desk, while a third seized his dictionary.  The master,
observing that something was going on at that desk, came and stood by;
and as long as he was there, Charlie managed to write out what he had
done, while the others, cunningly inserting an occasional mistake, or
altering a few epithets, copied out the verses which Kenrick had done
for Wilton.  But directly the master turned away again, a boy on the
opposite side of the table, with the utmost deliberation, took hold of
Charlie's fair copy, and emptied the inkstand over it in three or four
separate streams.

Vexed as he was--for until this time he had never known unkindness--he
took it quietly and good-humouredly.  Next morning, before the rest of
the boys in his dormitory, who were mainly in his own form, were aware
of what he meant to do, he got up early and went to Walter's study,
hoping to write out the verses there from memory.  But he found the
study in the possession of the housemaid; chapel-bell rang, and after
chapel he went into morning school with the exercise unfinished.  For
this, he, the only boy in the form who had attempted to do his duty,
received a punishment, while the rest looked on unabashed, and got marks
for their stolen work.  Wilton received nearly full marks for his.  The
master, Mr Paton's successor, thought it odd that Wilton could do his
verses so much better than any of his other work, but he could not
detect the cheating, and Wilton always assured him that the verses were
entirely his own composition.

It was about time now, Wilton thought, to hoist his true colours; but,
as he had abundance of brass, he followed Charlie out of the schoolroom,
talked to him familiarly, as if nothing had happened, and finally took
his arm.  But this was too much; for the boy, who was as open as the day
in all his dealings, at once withdrew his arm, and standing still,
looked him full in the face.

"So!" said Wilton, "now take your choice--friends or enemies--which
shall it be?"

"If you want me to cheat, and tell lies, and be mean--not _friends_."

"So! enemies then, mind.  Look out for squalls, young Evson.  One
question, though," said Wilton, as Charlie turned away.

"Well?"

"Are you going to sneak about this to your brother?"

Charlie was silent.  Without any intention of procuring Walter's
interference, he _had_ meant to talk to him about his difficulties, and
to ask his advice.  But if this was to be stigmatised as sneaking he
felt that he had rather not do it, for there is no action a boy fears
more, and considers more mean than this.

"Oh, I see," said Wilton; "you _do_ mean to peach, blab, tell tales, do
you?  Well, it don't matter much; you'll find he can do precious little;
and it will be all the worse for you in the long-run."

"I shan't tell him," said Charlie, shortly; and those words sealed his
lips, as with a heavy heart he entered the breakfast-room, and meditated
on troubles to come.

Which troubles came quite fast enough--very fast indeed.  For the house,
or rather the leading spirits in it, thought that they had wasted quite
enough time, and with quite sufficient success in angling for the new
boys, and determined to resume without any further delay their ordinary
courses.  If Charlie was fool enough to resist them, they said, so much
the worse for him.  During the day, indeed, he was saved from many of
the annoyances which Walter had been obliged to endure, by escaping from
the Great Schoolroom to the happy and quiet refuge of Walter's, or
Power's or Eden's study.  There he could always be unmolested, and enjoy
the kindness with which he was treated, and the cheerful, healthy
atmosphere which contrasted so strangely in its moral sweetness with the
turbid and polluted air of Noelite society.  But in the evening at
Preparation, and afterwards in the dormitories, he was wholly at the
mercy of that bad confederacy which had tried to mould him to its own
will.  He was in a large dormitory of ten boys, and as this was the
principal room in Mr Noel's house, it formed the regular refuge every
night for the idle and the mischievously inclined.  When the candles
were put out at bed-time it was seldom long before they were relit in
this room--which was somewhat remote from the others, at the end of a
long corridor, and of which the window opened on a secluded part of Dr
Lane's garden.  If a scout were placed at the end of the corridor he
could give timely warning of any danger, so that the chance of detection
was very small.  Had the candles been relit only for a game of play,
Charlie would have been the first to join in the fun.  But the Noelites
were far too vitiated in taste to be long content with mere bolstering
or harmless games.  It seemed to Charlie that the candles were relit
chiefly for the purpose of eating and drinking forbidden things, of
playing cards, or of bullying and tormenting those boys who were least
advanced in general wickedness.

"I say, young Evson," said Wilton to him one night soon after the fracas
above narrated, "we're going to have some fun to-night.  Stone, like a
brick as he is, has stood a couple of bottles of wine, and Hanley some
cards.  We shall have a smoke too."

All this was said in a tone of braggadocio, meant to be exceedingly
telling, but it only made Charlie feel that he loathed this swaggering
little boy with his premature _savoir vivre_, more and more.  He
understood, too, the hint that two of the new fellows had contributed to
the house carousal, and fully expected that he would be asked next.  He
secretly, however, determined to refuse, because he knew well that a
mere harmless feast was not intended, but rather a smoking and drinking
bout.  He had subscribed liberally to all the legitimate funds--the
football, the racquet court, the gymnasium; but he saw no reason why he
should be taxed for things which he disliked and disapproved.  The
result of that evening confirmed him in his resolution.  It was a scene
of drinking, gluttony, secret fear, endless squabbling, and joyless
excitement.

"Of course you'll play, and put into the pool?" said Wilton.

"No, thank you."

"No, _thank you_," said Wilton, scornfully mimicking his tone.  "Of
course not; you'll do nothing except set yourself up for a saint, and
make yourself disagreeable."

During the evening Stone brought him some wine, which Charlie again
declined, with "No, thank you, Stone."  Wilton again echoed the refusal,
which was chorused by a dozen others; and from that time Charlie was
duly dubbed with the nickname of "No-thank-you."  He was forcibly
christened by this new name, by being held in bed while half a
wine-glass of port was thrown in his face.  The wine poured down and
stained his night-shirt, and then they all began to dread that it would
lead to their being discovered, and threatened Charlie with endless
penalties if he dared to tell.  There was, however, little danger, as
the Noelites had bribed the servants who waited on them and cleaned
their rooms.

The same scene, with slight variations, was constantly repeated, and
every fresh refusal was accompanied by a kick or a cuff from the bigger
boys, a sneer or an insult from the younger; for Charlie himself was one
of the youngest of them all.  One night it was, "I say, you fellow--you,
No-thank-you--will you fork out for some wine to-night?  No?  Well then,
take that and that, and be hung to you for a little muff."  Another time
it would be, "Hi there, No-thank-you--we want sixpence for a pack of
cards.  Oh, you won't be so sinful as to part with sixpence for cards?
Confounded little miser;" "Niggard," said another; "Skinflint," shouted
a third.  And a general cry of "Saint," which expressed the climax of
villainy, ended the verbal portion of the contest.  And then, some one
would slap him on the cheek, with "take that", "and that," from another,
"and that," from a third--the last being a boot or a piece of soap shied
at his head.

It cannot be more wearisome to the reader than it is to me to linger in
these coarse scenes; but, for Charlie, it was a long martyrdom most
heroically borne.  He was almost literally alone and single-handed
against the rest of the house; yet he would not give way.  Walter, and
Power, and Henderson, all knew that he was bullied, sorely bullied; this
they learnt far more from Eden, and from other sources, than from
Charlie himself, for he, poor child, held himself bound by his promise
to Wilton, and kept his lips resolutely sealed.  But these friends knew
that he was suffering for conscience sake; and Walter helped him with
tender, brotherly affection, and Power with brave words and kindly
sympathy, as well as by noble example, and Henderson by his cheering and
playful manner; and this caused him much happiness all day long, until
he felt that, with that short but heart-uttered prayer which he breathed
so earnestly from "the altar of his own bedside," he had strength
sufficient to meet and to conquer the trials which night brought.

In the house one boy and one only helped him.  That boy _ought_ to have
been Kenrick; his monitorial authority and many responsible privileges
were entrusted to him, as he well knew, for the main express purpose of
putting down all immorality, and all cruelty, with a strong and
remorseless hand.  It required very little courage to do this; the
sympathies of the majority of boys, unless they be suffered to grow
corrupted with an evil leaven, are naturally and strongly on the side of
right.  In Mr Robertson's house, for instance, where Walter and
Henderson were monitors, such wrong-doings could not have gone on with
impunity, or rather could not have gone on at all.  There, a little boy,
treated with gross severity or injustice, would not have hesitated for
an instant to invoke the assistance of the monitors, whom he looked upon
as his natural guardians, and who would be eager to extend to him a
generous and efficient protection.

The same was the case in Mr Edwardes's house, of which Power was the
head.  Power, indeed, had no coadjutor on whom he could at all rely.
One of the monitors associated with him was Legrange, who rather
followed Kenrick's lead, and the other was Brown, who, though
well-intentioned, was a boy of no authority.  Yet these two houses were
in a better condition than any others in the school, because the heads
of them did their duty; and it was no slight credit to Walter and
Henderson that their house stood higher in character than any other,
although it contained both Harpour and Jones.  This could not have been
the case had not those two worthies found a powerful counterpoise in two
other fifth-form fellows, Franklin and Cradock, whose excellence was
almost solely due to Walter's influence.  Kenrick, on the other hand,
never interfered in the house, and let things go on exactly as they
liked, although they were going to rack and ruin.

Charlie's sole friend and helper in the house then was, not Kenrick, but
Bliss.  Poor Bliss quite belied his name, for his school work, in which
he never could by any effort succeed, kept him in a state of lugubrious
disappointment.  Bliss lived a dim kind of life, seeing all sorts of
young boys get above him and beat him in the race, and vaguely groping
in thick mental darkness.  Do what he could the stream of knowledge fled
from his tantalised lip whenever he stooped to drink; and the fruits,
which others plucked easily, sprang up out of his reach when he tried to
touch the bough.  He was constantly crushed by a desolating sense of his
own stupidity; and yet his good temper was charming under all his
trials, and he loved with a grateful humility all who tolerated his
shortcomings.  For this reason he had a sincere affection for Henderson,
who plagued him, indeed, incessantly, but never in an unkind or
insulting way; and who more than made up for the teasing by patient and
constant help, without which Bliss would not have succeeded even as well
as he did.  Bliss was a strong active fellow, and good at the games, so
that with most of the school he got on very well; but, nevertheless, he
was generally set down as nearly half-witted--a mere dolt.  Dolt or not,
he did Charlie inestimable service; and if any boy is in like case with
Bliss, let him take courage, for even the merest dolt has immense power
for good as well as for harm, and Bliss extended to Charlie a gentle and
manly sympathy which many a clever boy might have envied.  He knew that
Charlie was ill-used.  Not being in the same dormitory, and joining very
little in the house concerns, he was not able to interfere very directly
in his aid; but he never failed to encourage him to resist iniquity of
every kind.  "Hold out, young Evson," he would often say to him; "you're
a good, brave little chap, and don't give in; you're in the right and
they in the wrong; and right is might, be sure of that."

It was something in those days to meet with approbation for well-doing
among the Noelites; and Charlie, with genuine gratitude, never forgot
Bliss's kind support; till Bliss left Saint Winifred's they continued
firm friends and fast.

"Have you made any friends in the house?" asked Mr Noel of Charlie on
one occasion; for he often seized an opportunity of talking to his
younger boys, for whom he felt a sincere interest, and whom he would
gladly have shielded from temptation to the very utmost of his power,
had he but known that of which he was unhappily so ignorant--the bad
state of things among the boys under his care.

"Not many, sir," said Charlie.

"Haven't you?  I'm sorry to hear that.  I like to see boys forming
friendships for future life; and there are some very nice fellows in the
house.  Wilton, for instance, don't you like him?  He's very idle and
volatile, I know, but still he seems to me a pleasant boy."

Charlie could hardly suppress a smile, but said nothing; and Mr Noel
continued, "Who is your chief friend, Evson, among my boys?"

"Bliss, sir," said Charlie, with alacrity.

"Bliss!" answered Mr Noel in surprise.  "What makes you like him so
much?  Is he not very backward and stupid?"

But Charlie would not hear a word against Bliss, and speaking with all
the open trustfulness of a new boy, he exclaimed, "O sir, Bliss is an
excellent fellow; I wish there were many more like him; he's a capital
fellow, sir, I like him very much; he's the best fellow in the house,
and the only one who stands by me when I am in trouble."

"Well, I'm glad you've found _one_ friend, Evson," said Mr Noel; "no
matter who he is."

One way in which Bliss showed his friendship was by going privately to
Kenrick, and complaining of the way in which Charlie was bullied.  "Why
don't you interfere, Kenrick?" he asked.

"Interfere, pooh!  It will do the young cub good; he's too conceited, by
half."

"I never saw a little fellow _less_ conceited, anyhow."

Kenrick stared at him.  "What business is it of yours, I should like to
know?"

"It _is_ business of mine; he is a good little fellow, and he's only
kicked because the others can't make him as bad a lot as they are
themselves; there's that Wilton--"

"Shut up about Wilton, he's a friend of mine."

"Then more shame for you," said Bliss.

"He's worth fifty such chickens as little Evson, any day."

"Chickens!" said Bliss, with a tone as nearly like contempt as he had
ever assumed; "it's clear you don't know much about him; I wish,
Kenrick, you'd do your duty more, and then the house would not be so bad
as it is."

Kenrick opened his eyes wide; he had never heard Bliss speak like this
before.  "I don't want the learned, the clever, the profound Bliss to
teach _me my_ duty," he said, with a proud sneer; "what business have
you to abuse the house, because it is not full of young ninnies like
Evson?  You're no monitor of mine, let me tell you."

"You may sneer, Kenrick, at my being stupid, if you like; but, for all
your cleverness, I wouldn't be you for something; and if you won't
interfere, as you ought, _I will_, if I can."  And as Bliss said this,
with clear flaming anger, and fixed on Kenrick his eyes, which were
lighted up with honest purpose, Kenrick thought he had never seen him
look so handsome, or so fine a fellow.  "Yes, even _he_ is superior to
me now," he thought, with a sigh, as Bliss left the room.  Poor Ken--
there was no unhappier boy at Saint Winifred's; as he ate and ate of
those ashy fruits of sin, they grew more and more dusty and bitter to
his parched taste; as he drank of that napthaline river of wayward
pride, it scorched his heart and did _not_ quench his thirst.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

MARTYRDOM.

  "Since thou so deeply dost enquire,
  I will instruct thee briefly why no dread
  Hinders my entrance here.  Those things alone
  Are to be feared whence evil may proceed,
  Nought else, for nought is terrible beside."

  Carey's _Dante_.

Gradually the persecutions to which Charlie was subjected mainly turned
on one point.  His tormentors were so far tired of bullying him, that
they would have left him in comparative peace if he would have yielded
one point--which was this.

The Noelites were accustomed now and then to have a grand evening
"spread" as they called it, and when they had finished this supper,
which was usually supplied by Dan, they generally began smoking, an
amusement which they could enjoy after the lights were out.  The smokers
used to sit in the long corridor, which, as I have said, led to their
dormitory, and the scout was always posted to warn them of approaching
danger; but as they did not begin operations till the master had gone
his nightly rounds, and were very quiet about it, there was not much
danger of their being disturbed.  Yet although the windows of the
corridor and dormitory were all left wide open, and every other
precaution was taken, it was impossible to get rid of the fumes of
tobacco so entirely as to avoid all chance of detection.  They had,
indeed, bribed the servants to secrecy, but what they feared was being
detected by some master.  The Noelites, therefore, of that dormitory had
been accustomed to agree that if they were questioned by any master
about the smell of smoking, they would all deny that any smoking had
taken place.  The other nine boys in the dormitory, with the doubtful
exception of Elgood, had promised that they would stick to this
assertion in case of their being asked.  The question was, "Would
Charlie promise the same thing?"  If not, the boys felt doubly
insecure--insecure about the stability of their falsehood and the
secrecy of their proceedings.

And Charlie Evson, of course, refused to promise this.  Single-handed he
fought this battle against the other boys in his house, and in spite of
solicitation, coaxing, entreaty, threats and blows, steadily declared
that he was no tell-tale, that he had never mentioned anything which had
gone on in the house, but that _if he were directly asked_ whether a
particular act had taken place or not, he would still keep silence, but
_could not and would not_ tell a lie.

Now some of the house--and especially Mackworth and Wilton--had
determined, by the help of the rest, to crush this opposition, to
conquer this obstinacy, as they called it; and, since Charlie's
reluctance could not be overcome by persuasion or argument, to break it
down by sheer force.  So, night after night, a number of them gathered
round Charlie, and tried every means which ingenuity or malice could
suggest to make him yield on this one point; the more so, because they
well knew that to gain one concession was practically to gain all, and
Charlie's uprightness contrasted so unpleasantly with their own base
compliances, that his mere presence among them became, from this
circumstance, a constant annoyance.  One boy with a high and firm moral
standard, steadily and consistently good, can hardly fail to be most
unpopular in a large house full of bad and reckless boys.

It was a long and hard struggle; so long that Charlie felt as if it
would last for ever, and his strength would give way before he had
wearied-out his persecutors.  For now it seemed to be a positive
amusement, a pleasant occupation to them, night after night, to bully
him.  He dreaded, he shuddered at the return of evening; he knew well
that from the time when Preparation began, till the rest were all
asleep, he could look for little peace.  Sometimes he was tempted to
yield.  He knew that at the bottom the fellows did not really hate him,
that he might be very popular if he chose, even without going to nearly
the same lengths as the others, and that if he would but promise not to
tell, his assent would be hailed with acclamations.  Besides, said the
tempter, the chances are very strongly in favour of your not being asked
at all about the matter, so that there is every probability of your not
being called upon to tell the "cram;" for by some delicate distinction
the falsehood presented itself under the guise of a "cram," and not of a
naked lie; _that_ was a word the boys carefully avoided applying to it,
and were quite angry if Charlie called it by its right name.  One
evening the poor little fellow was so weary and hopeless and sad at
heart, and he had been thrashed so long and so severely, that he was
_very_ near yielding.  A paper had been written, the signing of which
was tacitly understood to involve a promise to deny that there had been
any smoking at night if they were taxed with it; and all the boys except
Elgood and Charlie had signed this paper.  But the fellows did not care
for Elgood; they knew that he dared not oppose them long, and that they
could make him do their bidding whenever the time came.  Well, one
evening, Charlie, in a weak mood, was on the verge of signing the paper,
and thus purchasing a cessation of the long series of injuries and
taunts from which he had been suffering.  He was sitting up in bed, and
had taken the pencil in hand to sign his name.  The boys, in an eager
group round him, were calling him a regular brick, encouraging him,
patting him on the back, and saying that they had been sure all along
that he was a nice little fellow, and would come round at last.  Elgood
was among them, looking on with anxious eyes.  He had immensely admired
Charlie's brave firmness, and nothing but reliance on the strength of
his stronger will had encouraged him in the shadow of opposition.  "If
young Evson does it," he whispered, "I will directly."  Charlie caught
the whisper; and in an agony of shame flung away the pencil.  He had
very nearly sinned himself, and forgotten the resolution which had been
granted him in answer to his many prayers; but he had seen the effects
of bad example, and nothing should induce him to lead others with him
into sin.  "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," was
the instant supplication which rose from his inmost heart, as he threw
down the pencil and pushed the paper aside.

"I _can't_ do it," he said; "I _must_ not do it; I never told a lie in
my life that I remember.  Don't ask me any more."  Instantly the tone
and temper of the boys changed.  A shower of words, which I will not
repeat, assailed his ears; he was dragged out of bed and thrashed more
unmercifully than he had ever been before.  "You shall give way in the
end, mind that," was the last admonition he received from one of the
bigger fellows, as he dragged himself to his bed, sobbing for pain, and
aching with disquietude of heart.  "The sooner it is the better; for you
little muffs and would-be saints don't go down with us."

And then for a few evenings, when the candles were put out, and the
fellows had nothing better to do, it used to be the regular thing for
some one to suggest, "Come, let's _bait_ No-thank-you; it'll be rare
fun."  Then another would say, "Come, No-thank-you, sign the paper like
a good fellow, and spare yourself all the rest."

"Do," another insidious friend would add; "I am quite sorry to see you
kicked and thrashed so often."

"I'll strike a light in one second if you will," suggested a fourth.
"No, you won't? oh, then, look out, Master No-thank-you, look out for
squalls."  But still, however beaten or insulted, holding out like a
man, and not letting the tears fall if he could help it, though they
swam in his eyes for pain and grief, the brave boy resisted evil, and
would not be forced to stain his white soul with the promise of a lie.

There were some who, though they dared not say anything, yet looked on
at this struggle with mingled shame and admiration--shame for
themselves, admiration for Charlie.  It could not be but that there were
some hearts among so many which had not seared the tender nerves of
pity, and more than once Charlie saw kindly faces looking at him out of
the cowardly group of tormentors, and heard timid words of
disapprobation spoken to the worst of those who bullied him.  More
often, too, some young Noelite who met him during the day would seem to
address him with a changed nature, would speak to him warmly and with
friendliness, would show by little words and actions that he felt for
him and respected him, although he had not courage enough to resist
publicly the opposing stream.  And others of the baser sort observed
this.  What if this one little new fellow should beat them after all,
and end their domination, and introduce in spite of them a truer and
better and more natural state of things? it was not to be tolerated for
a moment, and he must be put down with a strong hand at once.

Meanwhile Charlie's heart was fast failing him, dying away within him;
for under this persecution his health and spirits were worn out.  His
face, they noticed, was far paler than when he came, his looks almost
haggard, and his manner less sprightly than before.  He had honourably
abstained hitherto from giving Walter any direct account of his
troubles, but now he yearned for some advice and comfort, and went to
Walter's study, not to complain, but to ask if Walter thought there was
any chance of his father removing him to another school, because he felt
that at Saint Winifred's he could neither be happy nor in any way
succeed.

"Well, Charlie boy, what can I do for you?" said Walter, cheerfully
pushing away the Greek Lexicon and Aristophanes over which he was
engaged, and wheeling round the armchair to the fire, which he poked
till there was a bright blaze.

"Am I disturbing you at your work, Walter?" said the little boy, whose
dejected air his brother had not noticed.

"No, Charlie, not a bit; _you_ never disturb me.  I was just thinking
that it was about time to shut up, for it's almost too dark too read,
and we've nearly half an hour before tea-time; so come here and sit on
my knee and have a chat.  I haven't seen you for an age, Charlie."

Charlie said nothing, but he was in a weary mood, and was glad to sit on
his brother's knee and put his arm round his neck; for he was more than
four years Walter's junior, and had never left home before, and that
night the homesickness was very strongly upon him.

"Why, what's the matter, Charlie boy?" asked Walter playfully.  "What's
the meaning of this pale face and red eyes?  I'm afraid you haven't
found Saint Winifred's so jolly as you expected; disenchanted already,
eh?"

"O Walter, I'm very, very miserable," said Charlie, overcome by his
brother's tender manner towards him; and leaning his head on Walter's
shoulder he sobbed aloud.

"What is it, Charlie?" said Walter, gently stroking his light hair.
"Never be afraid to tell me anything.  You've done nothing wrong, I
hope?"

"O no, Walter.  It's because I won't do wrong that they bully me."

"Is that it?  Then dry your tears, Charlie boy, for you may thank God,
and nothing in earth or under the earth can _make_ you do wrong if you
determine not--determine in the right way, you know, Charlie."

"But it's so hard, Walter; I didn't know it would be so _very_ hard.
The house is so bad, and no one helps me except Bliss.  I don't think
you were ever troubled as I am, Walter."

"Never mind, Charlie.  Only don't go wrong whatever they do to you.  You
don't know how much this will smooth your way all the rest of your
school-life.  It's quite true what you say, Charlie, and the state of
the school is far worse than ever knew it; but that's all the more
reason we should do our duty, isn't it."

"O Walter, but I _know_ they'll make me do wrong some day.  I wish I
were at home.  I wish I might leave.  I get thrashed and kicked and
abused every night, Walter, and almost all night long."

"_Do_ you?" asked Walter, in angry amazement.  "I knew that you were
rather bullied--Eden told me that--but I never knew it was so bad as you
say.  By jove, Charlie, I should like to catch some one bullying you,
and--well, I'll warrant that he shouldn't do it again."

"O, I forgot, Walter, I oughtn't to have told you; they made me promise
not.  Only it _is_ so wretched."

"Never mind, my poor little Charlie," said Walter.  "Do what's right and
shame the devil.  I'll see if I can't devise some way of helping you;
but anyhow, hold up till the end of term, and then no doubt papa will
take you away if you still wish it.  But what am I to do without you,
Charlie?"

"You're a dear, dear good brother," said Charlie, gratefully; "and but
for you, Walter, I should have given in long ago."

"No, Charlie, not for me, but for a truer friend than even I can be,
though I love you with all my heart.  But will you promise me one thing
faithfully?"

"Yes, that I will."

"Well, promise me then that, do what they will, they shan't make you
tell a lie, or do anything else that you know to be wrong."

"I'll promise you, Walter, if I can," said the little boy humbly; "but
I've been doing my best for a long time."

"You _couldn't_ tell a lie, Charlie boy, without being found out; _that_
I feel sure of," said Walter, smiling, as he held his brother's
ingenuous face between his hands, and looked at it.  "I don't doubt you
for an instant; but I'll have a talk with Power about you.  As head of
the school he may be able to do something, perhaps.  It's Kenrick's duty
properly, but--"

"Kenrick, Walter?  He's of no use; he lets the house do just as it
likes, and I think he must have taken a dislike to me, for he turned me
off quite roughly from being his fag."

"Never mind him or any one else, Charlie.  You're a brave little fellow,
and I'm proud of you.  There's the tea-bell; come in with me."

"Ah, Walter, it's only in the evenings when you're away that I get
pitched into.  If I were but in the same house with you, how jolly it
would be."  And he looked wistfully after his brother as they parted at
the door of the hall, and Walter walked up to the chief table where the
monitors sat, while he went to find a place among the boys in his own
form and house.  He found that they had poured his tea into his plate
over his bread and butter, so he got very little to eat or drink that
evening.

It was dark as they streamed out after tea to go into the
Preparation-room, and he heard Elgood's tremulous voice saying to him,
"Oh, Evson, shall you give way to-night, and sign?"

"Why to-night in particular, Elgood?"

"Because I've heard them say that they're going to have a grand
gathering to-night, and to make you, and me too; but I can't hold out as
you do, Evson."

"I shall try not to give way; indeed, I _won't_ be made to tell a lie,"
said Charlie, thinking of his interview with Walter, and the hopes it
had inspired.

"Then _I_ won't either," said Elgood, plucking up courage.  "But we
shall catch it awfully, both of us."

"They can't do more than lick us," said Charlie, trying to speak
cheerily, "and I've been licked so often that I'm getting accustomed to
it."

"And I'd rather be licked," said a voice beside them, "and be like you
two fellows, than escape being licked, and be like Stone and Symes, or
even like myself."

"Who's that?" asked Elgood hastily, for it was not light enough to see.

"Me--Hanley.  Don't you fellows give in; it will only make you
miserable, as it has done me."

They went in to Preparation, which was succeeded by chapel, and then to
their dormitories.  They undressed and got into bed, as usual, although
they knew that they should be very soon disturbed, for various signs
told them that the rest had some task in hand.  Accordingly, the lights
were barely put out, when a scout was posted, the candles were
re-lighted, and a number of other Noelites, headed by Mackworth, came
crowding into the dormitory.

"Now you, No-thank-you, you've got one last chance--here's this paper
for you to sign; fellows have always signed it before, and _you_ shall
too, whether you like or no.  We're not going to alter our rules because
of you.  We want to have a supper again in a day or two, and we can't
have you sneaking about it."  Mackworth was the speaker.

"I don't want to sneak," said Charlie firmly; "you've been making me
wretched, and knocking me about, all these weeks, and I've never told of
you yet."

"We don't want any orations; only Yes or No--will you sign?"

"Stop," said Wilton, "here's another fellow, Mac, who hasn't signed;"
and he dragged Elgood out of bed by one arm.

"Oh, _you_ haven't signed, haven't you?  Well, we shall make short work
of you.  Here's the pencil, here's the paper, and here's the place for
your name.  Now, you poor little fool, sign without giving us any more
trouble."

Elgood trembled and hesitated.

"Look here," said Mackworth brutally; "I don't want to break such a
butterfly as you upon the wheel, but--how do you like that?"  He drew a
cane from behind his back, and brought it down sharply on Elgood's
knuckles, who, turning very white, sat down and scrawled his name
hastily on the paper; but no sooner had he done it than, looking up, he
caught Charlie's pitying glance upon him, and running the pencil through
his signature, said no more, but pushed the paper hastily away and
cowered down, expecting another blow, while Charlie whispered,
"Courage."

"You must take the other fellow first, Mac, if you want to get on,"
suggested Wilton.  "Evson, as a friend, I advise you not to refuse."

"_As a friend_!" said Charlie, with simple scorn, looking full at
Wilton.  "You are no friend of mine; and, Wilton, I wouldn't even now
change places with you."

"Wouldn't you?--Pitch into him, Mac.  And you," he said to Elgood, "you
may wait for the present."  He administered a backhander to Elgood as he
spoke, and the next minute Charlie, roused beyond all bearing, had
knocked him down.  Twenty times before he would have been tempted to
fight Wilton, if he could have reckoned upon fair play; but what he
could stand in his own person was intolerable to him to witness when
applied to another.

Wilton sprang up in perfect fury, and a fight began; but Mackworth at
once pulled Charlie off, and said, "Fight him another time, if you
condescend to do so, Raven; don't you see now that it's a mere dodge of
his to get off.  Now, No-thank-you, the time has come for deeds; we've
had words enough.  You stand there."  He pushed Charlie in front of him.
"Now, will you sign?"

"_Never_," said Charlie, in a low but firm tone.

"Then--"

"_Not with the cane, not with the cane_, Mackworth," cried several
voices in agitation, but not in time to prevent the cane descending with
heavy hand across the child's back.

Charlie's was one of those fine, nervous, susceptible temperaments,
which feel every physical sensation, and every mental emotion, with
tenfold severity.  During the whole of this scene; so painfully
anticipated, in which he had stood alone among a group of boys, whose
sole object seemed to be to show their hatred, and who were twice as
strong as himself, his feelings had been highly wrought; and though he
had had many opportunities of late to train his delicate organisation
into manly endurance, yet the sudden anguish of this unexpected blow
quite conquered him.  A thrilling cry broke from his lips, and the next
moment, when the cane again tore his shoulders, a fit of violent
hysteria supervened, which alarmed the brutes who were trying to master
his noble resolution.

And at this crisis the door burst open with a sudden crash, and Bliss
entered in a state of burning indignation, followed more slowly by
Kenrick.

"O, I am too late," he said, stamping his foot; "what _have_ you been
doing to the little fellow?" and thrusting some of them aside, he took
up Charlie in his arms, and gradually soothed and calmed him till his
wild sobs and laughter were hushed, while the rest looked on silent.
But feeling that Charlie shrank as though a touch were painful to him,
Bliss unbared his back, and the two blue weals all across it showed him
what had been done.

"Look there, Kenrick," he said, with great sternness, as he pointed to
the marks; and then, laying Charlie gently down on his bed, he thundered
out, in a voice shaken with passion, "You _dogs_, could you look on and
allow this?  By heavens, Kenrick, if _you_ mean to suffer this, I won't.
Out of my way, you."  Scattering the rest before him like a flock of
sheep, he seized Mackworth with his strong hands, shook him violently by
both shoulders, and then tearing the cane out of his grasp, he demanded,
"Was it you who did this?"

"What are you about, you Bliss?" said Mackworth, with very ruffled
dignity.  "Mind what you're after, and don't make such a row, you ass's
head," he continued authoritatively, "or you'll have Noel or some one in
here."

"Ho! that's your tone, you cruel, reprobate bully," said Bliss, supplied
by indignation with an unusual flow of words; "we've had enough of that,
and too much.  You can look at poor little Evson there, and not sink
into the very earth for shame!  By heavens, Belial, you shall receive
what you've given.  I'll beat you as if you were a dog.  Take that."
The cut which followed showed that he was in desperate earnest, and
that, however immovable he might generally be, it was by no means safe
to trifle with him in such a mood as this.

Mackworth tried in vain to seize the cane; Bliss turned him round and
round as if he were a child; and as it was quite clear that he did not
mean to have done with him just yet, Mackworth's impudent bravado was
changed into abject terror as he received a second weighty stroke, so
heartily administered that the cane bent round him, in the hideous way
which canes have, and caught him a blow on the ribs.

Mackworth sprang away, and fled, howling with shame and pain, through
the open door, but not until Bliss had given him two more blows on the
back, with one of the two cutting open his coat from the collar
downwards, with the other leaving a mark at least as black as that which
he had inflicted on the defenceless Charlie.

"To your rooms, the rest of you wretches," said he, as they dispersed in
every direction before him.  "Kenrick," he continued, brandishing the
cane, "I may be a dolt, as you've called me before now, but since you
won't do your duty, henceforth I will do it for you."

Kenrick slank off, half afraid that Bliss would apply the cane to _him_;
and, speaking in a tone of authority, Bliss said to the boys in the
dormitory, "If one of you henceforth touch a hair of Evson's head, look
out; you know me.  You little scamp and scoundrel, Wilton, take especial
care."  He enforced the admonition by making Wilton jump with a little
rap of the cane, which he then broke, and flung out of the window.  And
then, his whole manner changing instantly into an almost womanly
tenderness, he sat by poor little Charlie, soothing and comforting him
till his hysterical sobs had ceased; and, when he felt sure that the fit
was over, gently bade him good-night, and went out, leaving the room in
dense silence, which no one ventured to break but the warm-hearted
little Hanley, who, going to Charlie's bedside, said--

"Oh, Charlie, are you hurt much?"

"No, not very much, thank you, Hanley."

Hanley pressed his hand, and said, "You've conquered, Charlie; you've
held out to the end.  Oh, I wish I were like you!"



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

A CONSPIRACY FOILED.

  As the feathery snows
  Fall frequent on some wintry day...
  The stony volleys flew.

  Cowper.

Yes, Charlie had conquered, thanks to the grace that sustained him, and
thanks, secondarily, to a good home training, and to Walter's strong and
excellent influence.  And in gaining that one point he had gained all.
No one dared directly to molest him further, and he had never again to
maintain so hard a struggle.  He had resisted the beginnings of evil; he
had held out under the stress of persecution; and now he could enjoy the
smoother and brighter waters over which he sailed.

His enemies were for the time discomfited, and even the hardy Wilton was
abashed.  For a week or two there was considerably less bravado in his
face and manner, and his influence over those of his own age was shaken.
That little rap of the cane which Bliss had given him had a most
salutary effect in diminishing his conceit.  Hanley retracted his
promise to deny all knowledge of anything wrong that went on, and openly
defied Wilton; even Elgood ceased to fear him.  Charlie had felt
inclined to cut him, but, with generous impulse, he forgave all that was
past, and, keeping on civil terms with him, did all he could to draw him
to less crooked paths.

Mackworth was so ashamed that he hardly ventured to show his face.  He
had always made Bliss a laughing-stock, had nicknamed him Ass's Head,
and had taught others to jeer at his backwardness.  He had presumed on
his lazy good humour, and affected to patronise and look down on him.
An eruption in a long-extinct volcano could not have surprised him more
than the sudden outburst of Bliss's wrath, and if the two blows which he
had received as he fled before him in sight of the whole house had been
branded on his back with a hot iron, they could hardly have caused him
more painful humiliation.  For some time he slunk about like a whipped
puppy, and imagined, not without some ground, that no one saw him
without an inclination to smile.

Kenrick, too, had reason to blush.  Every one knew that it was Bliss,
and not he, who had rescued the house from attaching to its name another
indelible disgrace; and when he heard the monitors and sixth-form
talking seriously among themselves of the bad state into which the
Noelites had fallen, he felt that the stigma was deserved, and that
_he_, as being the chief cause of the mischief, must wear the brand.

All Kenrick's faults and errors had had their root in an overweening
pride, a pride which grew fast upon him, and the intensity of which
increased in proportion as it grew less and less justifiable.  But now
he had suffered a salutary rebuke.  He had been openly blamed, openly
slighted, and openly set aside, and was unable to gainsay the justice of
the proceeding.  He felt that with every boy in the school, who had any
right feeling, Bliss was now regarded as a more upright and honourable--
nay, even as a more important and influential, person than himself.
Among other mortifications, it galled him especially to hear the warm
thanks and cordial praise which Power and Walter and Henderson expressed
when first they happened to meet Bliss.  He saw Walter wring his hand,
and overheard him saying in that genial tone in which he himself had
once been addressed so often--"Thank you, Bliss, a thousand times for
saving my dear little brother from the hands of those brutes.  Charlie
and I will not soon forget how much we owe you."  Walter said it with
tears in his eyes, and Bliss answered with a happy smile--"Don't thank
me, Walter; I only did what any fellow would have done who was worth
anything."

"And you'll look after Charlie for me now and then, will you?"

"That I will," said Bliss; "but you needn't fear for him--he's a hero, a
regular hero--that's what I call him, and I'd do anything for him."

So Kenrick, vexed and discontented, almost hid himself in those days in
his own study, the victim of that most wearing of intolerable and
sickening diseases--a sense of shame.  Except to play football
occasionally, he seldom left his room or took any exercise, and fell
into a dispirited, broken way of life, feeling unhappy and alone.  He
had no associates now except his inferiors, for his conduct had
forfeited the regard of his equals, and with many of them he was at open
feud.  The only pleasure left to him was desperately hard work.  Not
only was he stimulated by a fiery ambition, a mad desire to excel in the
half-year's competition, and show what he was yet capable of, and so to
some extent redeem his unhappy position, but also his heart was fixed on
getting, if possible, the chief scholarship of Saint Winifred's--a
scholarship sufficiently valuable to pay the main part of those college
expenses which it would be otherwise impossible for his mother to bear.
He feared, indeed, that he had little or no chance against Power, or
even against Walter, who were both competitors, but he would not give up
all hope.  His abilities were of the most brilliant order, and if he had
often been idle at Saint Winifred's, he had, on the other hand, often
worked exceedingly hard during the holidays at Fuzby, where, unlike
other boys, he had little or nothing else to amuse him.  Mrs Kenrick,
sitting beside him silent at her work for long hours, would have been
glad enough to see in him more elasticity, more kindliness, less
absorption in his own selfish pursuits; but she rejoiced that at home,
at any rate, he did not waste his vacant days in idleness, or spend them
in questionable amusements and undesirable society.

Almost the only boy of whom he saw much now was Wilton, and but for him,
I do believe, that in those days he would have changed his whole tone of
thought and mode of life.  But he had a strange liking for this
worthless boy, who kept alive in him his jealousy of Walter, his
opposition to the other monitors, his partisanship, his recklessness,
and his pride.  Sometimes Kenrick felt this.  He saw that Wilton was bad
as well as attractive, and that their friendship, instead of doing
Wilton any good, only did himself harm.  But he could not make up his
mind to throw him off, for there was no one else who seemed to feel for
him as a close and intimate friend.  Many of Kenrick's failings rose
from that.  He had offended, and rejected, and alienated his early and
true friends, and he felt now that it was easier to lose friends than to
make them, or to recover their affection when it once was lost.

But the bad set at Saint Winifred's, though in one house their influence
was weakened, were determined not to see it wane throughout the school.
Harpour and his associates organised a regular conspiracy against the
monitors.  When the first light snow fell they got together a very large
number of fellows, and snowballed all the monitors except Kenrick, as
they came out of morning school.  The exception was very much to
Kenrick's discredit, and in his heart he felt it to be so.  During the
first day or two that this lasted the monitors took it good-humouredly,
returning the snowballs, and regarding it as a joke, though an annoying
one; but when it became more serious, when some snowballs had been
thrown at the masters also, and when some of the worst fellows began to
collect snowballs beforehand and harden them into great lumps of ice as
hard as stones, and when Brown, who was short-sighted, and was therefore
least able to protect himself, had received a serious blow, Power, by
the advice of the rest, put up a notice that from that time the
snowballing must cease, or the monitors would have to punish the boys
who did it.  This notice the school tried to resist, but the firmness of
Power and his friends put a stop to their rebellion.  If the notice was
disregarded he determined, by Walter's, advice, to seize the
ringleaders, and not notice the younger boys whom they incited.
Accordingly next morning they found the school gathered as usual, in
spite of the notice, for the purpose of pelting them, and, saying
nothing, they kept their eyes on the biggest fellows in the group.  A
shower of snowballs fell among them, hitting several of them, and, to
the great amusement of the school, knocking over several hats into the
snow.

"Harpour," said Walter, very sternly, "I saw you throw a snowball.
Aren't you ashamed of yourself that you, a fellow at the head of the
eleven, should set such a bad example?  Don't suppose that your size or
position shall get you off.  Come before the monitors directly after
breakfast."

"Hanged if I do," answered Harpour, with a sulky laugh.

"Well, I daresay you _will_ be hanged in the long-run," was the
contemptuous reply; "but come, or else take the consequences."

"Tracy," said Henderson, "I saw you throw a snowball which knocked off
Power's hat.  It was a hard one too.  You come before the monitors with
Harpour."

"I shall be quaite delaighted," drawled out Tracy.

"Glad to hear it; I hope you'll be quaite equally delaighted when you
leave us."  The mimicry was so perfect that all the boys broke into a
roar of laughter, which was all the louder because Tracy immediately
began to chafe and "smoke."

"And, Jones," said Power, as the laugh against Tracy subsided, "I think
I saw _you_ throw a snowball and hit Smythe.  I strongly suspect, too,
that you were the fellow who hit Brown yesterday.  I think every one
will know, Jones, why you chose Smythe and Brown to pelt, instead of any
other monitors.  You too come to the sixth-form room after breakfast."

"I didn't throw one," said Jones.

"You astounding liar," said Henderson, "I saw you with my own eyes."

"Oh, ay; of course you'll say so to spite me."

"_Spite_ you," said Henderson scornfully; "my dear fellow, you don't
enter into my thoughts at all.  But mark you, Master Jones, I know
moreover that you've been the chief getter-up of this precious
demonstration.  You told the fellows that you'd lead them.  I'm not sure
that you didn't quote to them the lines--

"`Press where ye see my _white plume_ shine amid the ranks of war, And
be your oriflamme to-day the helmet of--Jones.'"

Another peal of laughter followed this allusion to Jones's well-known
nickname of White-feather, a nickname earned by many acts of conspicuous
cowardice.

"Hush, Flip," whispered Power, "we mustn't make this quite a joke.
Jones," he continued aloud, "do you deny throwing a snowball just now at
Smythe?"

"I didn't throw one," said Jones, turning pale as he heard the hiss, and
the murmur of "White-feather again," which followed his denial.

"Why, what a pitiful, wretched, sneaking coward you are," burst out
Franklin; "I heard you egging on these fellows to pelt the monitors--
they wouldn't have done it but for you and Harpour--and I saw you hit
Smythe just now.  You took care to pelt no one else, and now you deny it
before all of us who saw you.  Upon my word, Jones, I feel inclined to
kick you, and I will too."

"Stop, Franklin," said Walter, laying his hands on his shoulder, "leave
him to us now.  Do you still deny throwing, Jones?"

"Well, it was only just a little piece of snow," said Jones, showing in
his blotched face every other contemptible passion fused into the one
feeling of abject fear.

"Faugh!" said Power, with scorn and disgust curling his lip and burning
in his glance; "really, Jones, you're almost too mean and nasty to have
any dealings with.  I don't think we can do you the honour of convening
you.  You shall apologise to Smythe here and now, and that shall be
enough for _you_."

"What! do you hesitate?" said Franklin; "you don't know when you're well
off.  Be quick, for we all want our breakfast."

"Never mind making him apologise," said Smythe; "he's sunk quite low
enough already."

"It's his own doing," said Walter.  "We can't have lies like his told
without a blush at Saint Winifred's.  Apologise he must and shall."

"Don't do it," said Mackworth.

"What!" said Henderson, "is that Mackworth speaking?  Ah!  I thought
so--Bliss isn't here!"

Henderson's manner was irresistibly comic; and as Mackworth winced and
slunk back to the very outside of the crowd, the loud laugh which
followed showed that the complete exposure of the worthlessness of their
champions had already turned the current of feeling among the young
conspirators, and that they were beginning to regret their unprovoked
attack on the upper boys.

"Now then, Jones, this is what you have to read," said Walter, who had
been writing it on a slip of paper--"I humbly beg Smythe's pardon for
pelting him, and the pardon of all present for my abominable lies."

Jones began to mumble it out, but there arose a general shout of--

"On your knees, White-feather; on your knees, and much louder."

Franklin, who was boiling over with anger and contempt, sprang forward,
took Jones by the neck, and forced him on his knees in the snow, where
he made him read the apology, and then let him loose.  A shower of
snowballs followed him as he ran to the refuge of the breakfast-hall,
for there was not a boy present, no matter to what faction he belonged,
who did not feel for Jones a very hearty contempt.

"I hope we shall have no more of this, boys," said Power, before the
rest dispersed.  "There have been monitors at Saint Winifred's for a
hundred years now, and it's infinitely better for the school that there
should be.  I suppose you would hardly prefer to be at the mercy of such
a fellow as that," he said, pointing in the direction of Jones's flight.
"I don't know why we should be unpopular amongst you.  You know that
not one of us has ever abused his authority, or behaved otherwise than
kindly to you all.  But I am sorry to see that you are set on--set on by
fellows who ought to know better.  Don't suppose, any of you, that they
will frighten us from doing what we know to be right, or that _you_ can
intimidate us when we are acting for the good of the school."

They cheered his few simple words, for they were proud of him as
head-monitor.  They had never had at Saint Winifred's a better scholar,
or a more honourable boy; and though Harpour and his friends affected to
sneer at him, Power was a general favourite, and the firm attitude which
he now assumed increased the respect and admiration which he had always
inspired.

"No more notice will be taken of this, you little fellows," said Walter
to the crowd of smaller boys; "we know very well that you have merely
been the tools in other hands, and that is why we only singled out three
fellows.  I am quite sure you won't behave in this way again; but if you
do, remember we shan't pass it over so lightly."

"Come here you, Wilton," said Henderson, as the rest were dispersing.
"You've been particularly busy, I see.  So! six good hard snowballs in
your jacket pocket, eh?  Now, you just employ yourself in collecting
every one of these snowballs that are lying ready here, and throw them
into the pond.  Don't let me see _one_ when I come out.  Belial junior
will have to curtail his breakfast-time this morning, I guess," he
continued to Whalley; "the young villain! shall we ever bring him to a
right mind?"

Wilton, in a diabolical frame of mind, began his appointed task, and had
just finished it as the boys came out of breakfast.  "That will do,"
said Henderson.  "I must trouble you for one minute more.  Come with
me."  Shaking with cold and alarm, Wilton obeyed, muttering threats of
vengeance, and driven almost frantic by the laughter with which
Henderson received them.  He walked across to the sixth-form room, and
then seeing that all the monitors were assembled, sent him "to tell his
friends, Harpour and Tracy, that their presence was demanded
immediately."

"Never mind, Raven," said Kenrick to him; "it's a shame of them to bully
you."

"I have made him collect some snowballs which he had a chief hand in
making, and with one of which yesterday a monitor was seriously hurt;
then I have sent him a message for two worthless fellows, whose counsels
he generally follows; both of which things I have done to teach him a
mild but salutary lesson.  Is that what you call bullying?"

"I believe you spite the boy because you know I like him.  It's just the
kind of conduct worthy of you."

"If it gives you any comfort to say so, Kenrick, pray do; but let me
tell you, that after the way you have allowed young Evson and others to
be treated in your house, the charge of bullying comes with singularly
ill grace from you."

An angry retort sprang to Kenrick's lips; but at that moment the two
offenders came to the door, and Power said, "Hush, you two.  We need
unity now, if ever, and it will be very harmful if these fellows find a
quarrel going on Kenrick, I wish you would try to--"

"Oh; yes; it's always Kenrick, of course," said he angrily.  "I'll have
nothing to do with your proceedings;" and, rising, from his place, he
flung out of the room, not sorry to be absent from a scene which he
thought might compromise his popularity with some of those who excepted
him from the list of the monitors, whom they professed to consider as
their natural enemies.

Harpour and Tracy had thought that when convened before the monitors
they would have an opportunity for displaying plenty of insolence and
indifference; but when they found themselves standing in the presence of
those fifteen upper boys, each one of whom was in all respects their
superior, all their courage evaporated.  But they were let off very
easily.  The monitors were content with the complete triumph they had
gained that morning, and with the disgrace to which these fellows had
been compelled to submit.  All that they now required from them was an
expression of regret for what they had done, and a promise not to offend
in the same way again; and when these had been extorted, they were
dismissed by Power with some good advice, and a tolerably stern
reprimand.  Power did this with an ease and force which moved the
admiration of all his brother monitors; no one could have done it as he
did it, who was not supported by the authority of a high and stainless
character consistently maintained.  What he said was not without effect;
even the coarse burly Harpour dared not look up, but could only fix his
eyes on the floor and kick the matting in sullen wrath while this
virtuous and noble boy looked at him and rebuked him; but Tracy was more
deeply moved.  Tracy, weak, foolish, and feebly fast as he was, had some
elements of good and gentlemanly feeling in him, and, with more wisely
chosen associates, would have developed a much less contemptible
character.  When Power had done speaking, he looked up and said, without
one particle of his usual affectation--

"I really am sorry for helping to get up this affair.  I see I've been
in the wrong, and I beg pardon sincerely.  You may depend on my not
having anything more to do with a thing of this kind."

"Thank you, Tracy," said Walter; "that was spoken like a man.  We've
known each other for some time now, and I wish we could get on more
unitedly.  You might do some good in the school if you chose."

"Not much, I'm afraid now," said Tracy, "but I'll tr(ai)y."

"Well, then, Tracy, we'll shake hands on that resolve, and bygones shall
be bygones," said Henderson.  "You'll forgive my making fun of you this
morning."

He shook hands with Henderson and with Walter, while Power, holding out
his hand, said, smiling, "It's never too late to mend."

"No," said Tracy, looking at one of his boots, which he had a habit of
putting out before the other.

"He applied your remark to his boots, Power," said Henderson, laughing.
"Did you observe how the hole in one of them distressed him."

So the monitors separated, not without hopes that things were beginning
to look a little brighter than before.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

THE FINAL FRACAS.

Harpour, and all who, like him, had long been endeavouring to undermine
the authority which was the only safeguard to the morality of the
school, felt themselves distinctly baffled.  Mackworth had been put to
utter rout by Bliss, and though he was almost bursting with dark spite,
would not venture to do much; Jones had become a perfect joke through
the whole school, and was constantly having white hen's feathers and
goose-feathers enclosed to him in little envelopes until he was half mad
with impotent wrath; Harpour himself had been made very decidedly to
swallow the leek of public humiliation; and as for Wilton, he began to
feel rather small.

Tracy again had openly deserted them.  After the interview with Power,
Harpour had abused him roundly as a turncoat, and he had told his former
associates that he was sorry to have had anything to do with their
machinations; that they were going all wrong, and were ruining the
school, and that he at any rate felt that he had done mischief enough
already, and meant to do no more.  This proof of their failing influence
exasperated them greatly.  Harpour threatened, and Mackworth said all
the pungent and insulting things he could, contemptuously mimicking all
Tracy's dandiacal affectations.  Tracy winced under this treatment; high
words followed, and after a scene of noisy altercation, Tracy broke with
his former "party," and after the quarrel spoke to them no more.

Dr Lane, too, had now recovered from his fever, and returned to the
school.  When the reins were in his strong hands, the difference was
soon perceived.  The abuses which had crept in during his absence were
quietly and firmly rectified, and all tendencies to insubordination were
repressed with a stern and just decision which it was impossible to
gainsay or to resist.  The whole aspect of things altered, and, lonely
as he was among the Noelites, even Charlie Evson began to like Saint
Winifred's better, and to feel more at home in its precincts.

Still, those who were rebelliously inclined were determined not to give
in at once, and anxiously looked out for some opportunity in which they
could have Kenrick on their side.  If they could but secure this, they
felt tolerably confident of giving the monitors a rebuff, and of
carrying with them that numerous body in the school who had been taught
under their training to resist authority on every possible occasion.

The opportunity was not long wanting.  One fine afternoon a poor old
woman had come up to the playground with a basket of trifles, by the
sale of which she hoped to support herself during the unexpectedly long
absence of a sailor son.  Her extreme neatness of person, and her quiet,
respectable manners had interested some of the boys in her appearance;
and when she came up to sell the little articles, many of which her own
industry had made, she generally found ready purchasers.  Walter, who
knew her well, had visited her cottage, and had often seen the sailor
boy on whose earnings she in a great measure depended.  This only son
had now been away for some time on a distant voyage, and the poor woman,
being pressed for the necessaries of life, took her basket once more to
the playground of Saint Winifred's.  Charlie had often heard about her
from Walter, and he gladly made from her a few small purchases, in which
the other boys followed his example.  While he was doing this, he
distinctly saw one of the Noelites--an ill-conditioned fellow in the
shell, named Penn--thrust his hand into the old woman's basket, which
was now surrounded by a large group of boys, and secrete a small bottle
of scent.  Charlie waited a moment, expecting to see him pay for it, but
Penn, who fancied that he had been unobserved, dropped it quietly into
his pocket, and stood looking on with an innocent and indifferent air.

Instantly Charlie's indignation knew no bounds.  He could hardly believe
his own eyes; he knew that a few of the very worst in the school, and
some in his own house in particular, would regard this as a venial
offence.  They would not call it stealing but "bagging a thing," or, at
the worst, "cribbing it"--concealing the villainy under a new name, a
name with no very odious associations attached to it; just as they
called lying "cramming," under which title it sounded much less
repulsive.  In fact, these young Noelites took a most Spartan view of
these petty larcenies, confining the criminality to the incurring of
detection.  But they had never succeeded in making Charlie take this
view; he never would adopt the change of language by which they altered
the accepted meaning of words in accordance with their own propensities
and dispositions, and to him this particular act which Penn committed
with perfect nonchalance, appeared to be not only a theft, but a theft
accompanied by a cruelty and deadness to all sense of pity, which dipped
it in the very blackest and most revolting dye.  He could not restrain,
and did not attempt to restrain, the passionate contempt and horror
which he felt for this act.

"Penn," he said, in a loud and excited voice, not doubting that the
sympathies of the others would be as warm as his own, "Penn, you wicked
brute, you have stolen that bottle of scent.  Here, Mrs Hart, _you_
shan't suffer at any rate if there _is_ a fellow so base and wicked,"
and he at once pulled out his last half-crown, and insisted on her
taking it in payment for the stolen article.

Penn, for the moment, was quite taken aback by the scathing flame of
Charlie's righteous anger.  If there had been none but Noelites there he
would have made very light of the accusation, and probably have laughed
it off; but there were others looking on who would, he knew, view the
transaction in a very different light, so he thought that his safest
course lay in a flat denial.  It was not reasonable to expect that he
would stick at this; a boy who has no scruples about "bagging" the
property of a poverty-stricken old woman, is not likely to hesitate
about telling a "cram" to escape exposure.

"What's all this about, you little fool?  I haven't bagged anything."

Charlie was still more amazed; he positively could not understand a
great brazen lie like this, and yet it was impossible to doubt that it
_was_ a lie, against the evidence of his own senses.

"You didn't take that scent-bottle? oh! how _can_ you tell such a lie?
I saw you with my own eyes."

"What do I care for you or your eyes?" was the only answer which Penn
vouchsafed to return.

"You're always flying out at fellows like a young turkey-cock, you
No-thank-you," said Wilton.  "Why don't you thrash him, Penn, for his
confounded impudence?"

"Thrash him yourself if you like, Raven; I don't care the snap of a
finger for what he says."

"What do you mean, No-thank-you, by charging him with bagging the thing
when he says he didn't?" said Wilton in a threatening tone to Charlie;
and as Charlie took no notice, he enforced the question by a slap on the
cheek; for Wilton had old grudges against Charlie to pay off.

"I didn't speak to _you_, Wilton; but you shan't hit me for nothing; you
force me to fight against my will," said Charlie, returning the blow;
"you can't say that I'm doing it to get off anything this time, as you
did once before."

A long and desperate fight ensued between Charlie and Wilton; too long
and too desperate in the opinion of several of the bystanders; but as
there was no one near who had any authority, nobody liked to interfere.
So, as they were very equally matched, neither of the combatants showed
the least sign of giving in, though their faces and clothes were smeared
with blood.  At last Henderson and Whalley, who were strolling through
the playground, caught sight of the crowd, and came up to see what was
the matter.

"It's a fight," said Henderson; "young Evson and Belial junior; I'd much
rather see them fight than see them friends."

"Yes, Flip; but they've evidently been fighting quite long enough to be
good for them.  You're a monitor--couldn't you see if they ought not to
be separated, and shake hands?"

"Hallo, stop, you two," said Henderson, pushing his way into the crowd.
"What's all this about? let's see that it's all right."

"It's a fair fight," said several; "you've no right to stop it."

"I won't stop it unless there's good reason, though I think it's gone on
long enough.  What began it?"

"No-thank-you charged Penn with--"

"Who is No-thank-you?" asked Whalley.

"Young Evson, then," said Mackworth sulkily, "charged Penn with bagging
a scent-bottle from the old woman's basket, and then he was impudent, so
Wilton was going to pitch into him."

"And couldn't manage it, apparently," said Whalley; "come, you two,
shake hands now."

Charlie, after a moment's hesitation, frankly held out his hand; but
Wilton said, "He'd no right to accuse a Noelite falsely as he did."

"It wasn't falsely," said Charlie; "I saw him take it, and a horrid
shame it was."

"Is one of your bottles missing, Mrs Hart?" asked Whalley.

"Yes, sir; but now young Master Evson has paid for it, and I don't want
no more fighting about it, sir, please."

"Well, my good woman, there's something for you," said Henderson, giving
her a shilling; "and I hope nobody will treat you so badly again; you'd
better go now.  And now, Penn, if you didn't take the bottle, of course
you won't mind being searched?"

"Of course I _shall_," said Penn, edging uneasily away to try if
possible to get rid of the unlucky bottle, which now felt as if it
burned his pocket.

"Stay, my friend," said Whalley, collaring him; "no shuffling away, if
you please."

"What the devil is your right to search me?" said Penn, struggling in
vain under Whalley's grasp; "don't you fellows let him search me."

The attention of all was now fairly diverted from the fight, which,
therefore, remained undecided; while the boys, especially the Noelites,
formed an angry group round Henderson and Whalley, to prevent them, if
possible, from any attempt to search Penn.  Meanwhile, seeing that
something was going on, other boys came flocking up until a large number
of the school were assembled there, while Whalley still kept tight hold
of Penn, and Henderson watched that he should play no tricks; the
Noelites meantime exclaiming very loudly against the supposed
infringement of their abstract rights.

Kenrick was one of those who had now come up; and as several fellows
entreated him to stick up for his own house, and not to let Penn be
searched, he worked himself into a passion, and pushing into the circle,
said loudly, "You've no right to search him; you shan't do it."

"Here's the head of the school, he shall decide," said Henderson, as
Power and Walter approached.  "State your own case, Kenrick."

"Well, the case simply is, that a scent-bottle has been taken from Mrs
Hart; and Penn doesn't see--nor do I--why he should be searched."

"You haven't mentioned that young Evson says he _saw_ him take it."

"Why, Charlie, what _have_ you been doing?" said Walter, looking at his
brother's bruised and smeared face in surprise.

"Only a fight," said Charlie; "I couldn't help it, Walter; Wilton struck
me because I charged Penn with taking the bottle."

"Are you absolutely certain that you saw him, Charlie?"

"Yes; I couldn't possibly be mistaken."

"Well, then, clearly Penn must be searched," said Walter.

"But stop," said Power; "aren't we beginning at the wrong end?  Penn, no
doubt, if we ask him quietly, will empty his pockets for our
satisfaction?"

"No I won't," said Penn, who was now dogged and sullen.

"Well, Kenrick has taken your part, will you let him or me search you
privately?"

"No!"

"Then search him, Henderson."

Instantly a rapid movement took place among the boys as though to
prevent this; but before anything could be done, Henderson had seized
Penn by both wrists and Whalley, diving a hand into his right pocket,
drew out and held up a little ornamental scent-bottle!

This decisive proof produced for a moment a dead silence among the loud
voices raised in altercation; and then Power said--

"Penn, you are convicted of lying and theft.  What is Saint Winifred's
coming too, when fellows can act like this?  How am I to punish him?" he
asked, turning to some of the monitors.

"Here and now, red-handed, _flagrante delicto_," said Walter.  "Some of
these lower fellows need an example."

"I think you are right.  Symes, fetch me a cane."

"You shan't touch him," said Kenrick; "you'd no right to search him, in
the first place."

"I mean to cane him, Kenrick.  Who will prevent me?"

"We will," said several voices; among which Harpour's and Mackworth's
were prominent.

"You mean to try and prevent it by force?"

"Yes."

"And, Kenrick, you abet this?"

"I do," said Kenrick, who had lost all self-control.

"I shall do it, nevertheless; it is my plain duty."

"And I recommend you all not to interfere," said Walter; "for it must
and shall be done."

"Harpour," said Franklin, "remember, if you try force, I for one am
against you the moment you stir."

"And I," said Bliss, stepping in front of Power; "and I," said Eden,
Cradock, Anthony, and others--among whom was Tracy--taking their places
by the monitors, and forming a firm front together.

Symes brought the cane.  Power took it, and another monitor held Penn
firmly by the wrists.  At the first stroke, some of the biggest
fifth-form fellows made a rush forward, but they were flung back, and
could not break the line, while Harpour measured his full length on the
turf from the effects of the buffet which Franklin dealt him.  Kenrick
was among those who pressed forward; and then, to his surprise and
shame, Walter, who was the stronger of the two, grasped him by the
shoulder, held him back, and said in a low tone, firm yet kind, "You
must excuse my doing this, Kenrick; but otherwise you might suffer for
it, and I think you will thank me afterwards."

Kenrick was astonished, and he at once desisted.  Those were the first
and only words which Walter had spoken to him, the only time Walter had
touched him, for nearly three years; and in spite of all the abuse,
calumny, and opposition which Walter had encountered at his hands,
Kenrick could not but feel that they were wise words, prompted, like the
action itself, by the spirit of true kindness.  He said nothing, but
abruptly turned away and left the ground.

The struggle had not lasted a moment, and it was thoroughly repulsed.
There could not be the least doubt of that, or of the fact that those
who were on the side of righteous order outnumbered and exceeded in
strength the turbulent malcontents.  Power inflicted on Penn a severe
caning there and then.  The attempt to prevent this, audacious and
unparalleled as it was, afforded by its complete failure yet another
proof that things were coming round, and that these efforts of the
monitors to improve the tone of the lower boys would tell with greater
and greater force.  Even the character of the Noelites was beginning to
improve; in that bad house not a single little new boy had successfully
braved an organised antagonism to all that was good, and by his
victorious virtuous courage had brought over others to the side of
right, triumphing, by the mere force of good principle, over a banded
multitude of boys far older, abler, and stronger than himself.

So that now Harpour, Mackworth, and Jones, were confined more and more
to their own society, and were forced to keep their misconduct more and
more to themselves.  They sullenly admitted that they were foiled and
thwarted, and from that time forward left the school to recover as fast
as it could from their vicious influence.  Among their other
consolations--for they found themselves shunned on all sides--they
proposed to go and have a supper at Dan's.  One day, before the events
last narrated, Power had seen them go in there.  He had sent for them at
once, and told them that they must know how strictly this was forbidden,
what a wretch Dan was, and how ruinous such visits to his cottage must
be.  They knew well that if he informed of them they would be instantly
expelled, and entreated him with very serious earnestness to pass it
over this time, the more so because they had no notion that any monitor
would ever tell of them, _because since he had been a monitor, Kenrick
had accompanied them there_.  Shocked as he was to hear this, it had
determined Power not to report them, on the condition, which he made
known to the other monitors, and of which he specially and pointedly
gave warning to Kenrick, that they would not so offend again.  This
promise they wilfully broke, feeling perfectly secure, because Dan's
cottage was at a remote and lonely part of the shore, where few boys
ever walked, and where they had very little chance of being seen, if
they took the precaution of entering by a back gate.  But within a week
of Penn's thrashing, Walter was strolling near the cottage with Eden and
Charlie, and having climbed the cliff a little way to pluck for Eden
(who had taken to botany) a flower of the yellow horned poppy which was
waving there, he saw them go into Dan's door, and with them--as he felt
sure--little Wilton.  The very moment, however, that he caught sight of
them, the fourth boy, seeing him on the cliff, had taken vigorously to
his heels and scrambled away behind the rocks.  Walter had neither the
wish nor the power to overtake him, and as he had not so much _seen_
Wilton as inferred with tolerable certainty that it was he, he only
reported Harpour, Mackworth, and Jones to Dr Lane; at the same time
sending for Wilton to tell him of his suspicion, and to give him a
severe and earnest warning.

Dr Lane, on the best possible grounds, had repeatedly announced that he
would expel any boy who had any dealings with the scoundrel Dan.  He was
not likely to swerve from that declaration in any case, still less for
the sake of boys whose school career had been so dishonourable and
reprobate as that of these three offenders.  They were all three
publicly expelled without mercy and without delay; and they departed,
carrying with them, as they well-deserved to do, the contempt and almost
the execration of the great majority of the school.

In the course of their examination before the headmaster, Jones, with a
meanness and malice thoroughly characteristic, had said, "that he did
not know there was any harm in going to Dan's, because Kenrick, one of
the monitors, had done the same thing."  At the time, Dr Lane had
contemptuously silenced him, with the remark, "that he would gain
nothing by turning informer;" but as Dr Lane was always kept pretty
well informed of all that went on by the Famulus, he had reason to
suspect, and even to know, that what Jones said was in this instance
true.  He knew, too, from other quarters how unsatisfactorily Kenrick
had been going on, and the part he had taken in several acts of
insubordination and disobedience.  Accordingly, no sooner had Harpour,
Jones, and Mackworth been banished from Saint Winifred's, than he sent
for Kenrick, and administered to him a reprimand so uncompromising and
stern, that Kenrick never forgot it to the end of his life.  After
upbraiding him for those many inconsistencies and follies, which had
forfeited the strong esteem and regard which he once felt for him, he
pointed out finally how he was wasting his school-life, and how little
his knowledge and ability could redeem his neglect of duty and betrayal
of trust; and he ended by saying, "All these reasons, Kenrick, have made
me seriously doubt whether I should not degrade you altogether from your
position of monitor and head of a house.  It would be a strong step, but
not stronger than you deserve.  I am alone prevented by a deep and
sincere wish that you should yet recover from your fall; and that, by
knowing that some slight trust is still reposed in you, you may do
something to prove yourself worthy of that trust, and to regain our
confidence.  I content myself, therefore, with putting you from your
present place to the _lowest_ on the list of monitors--a public mark of
my displeasure, which I am sure you will feel to be just; and I must
also remove you from the headship of your house--a post which I grieve
to know that you have very grievously misused.  I shall put Whalley in
your place, as it happens that no monitor can be conveniently spared.
He, therefore, is now the head of Mr Noel's house; and, so far, you
will be amenable to his authority, which, I hope, you will not attempt
to resist."

Kenrick, very full of bitter thoughts, hung his head, and said nothing.
To know Dr Lane was to love and to respect him; and this poor
fatherless boy _did_ feel very great pain to have incurred his anger.

"I am unwilling, Kenrick," continued the Doctor, "to dismiss you without
adding one word of kindness.  You know, my dear boy, that I have your
welfare very closely at heart, and that I once felt for you a warm and
personal regard; I trust that I may yet be able to bestow it upon you
again.  Go and use your time better; remember that you are a monitor;
remember that the well-being of many others depends in no slight measure
on your conscientious discharge of your duties; check yourself in a
career which only leads fast to ruin; and thank God, Kenrick, that you
are not actually expelled as those three boys have been, but that you
have still time and opportunity to amend, and to win again the character
you once had."

Turned out of his headship to give way to a fifth-form boy, turned down
to the bottom of the monitors, poor Kenrick felt unspeakably degraded;
but he was forced to endure a yet more bitter mortification.  Before
going to Dr Lane he had received a message that he was wanted in the
sixth-form room, and, with a touch of his old pride, had answered, "Tell
them I won't come."  Hardly had he reached his own study after leaving
the Doctor, when Henderson entered with a grave face, and saying, "I am
sorry, Kenrick, to be the bearer of this," handed to him a folded sheet
of paper.  Opening it he found that, at the monitors' meeting, to which
he had been summoned, an unanimous vote of censure had been passed upon
him in his absence, for the opposition which he had always displayed
against his colleagues, and for the disgraceful part which he had taken
in attempting to coerce them by force in the case of Penn.  The document
concluded, "We are therefore obliged, though with great and real
reluctance, to take the unusual step of recording in the monitors' book
this vote of censure against Kenrick, fourth monitor, for the bad
example he has set and the great harm he has done, in at once betraying
our interests and violating the first conditions on which he received
his own authority: and we do this, not in a spirit of anger, but solely
in the earnest and affectionate hope that this unanimous condemnation of
his conduct by all his coadjutors may serve to recall him to a sense of
his duty."

Appended were the names of all the monitors--but, no; as he glanced over
the names he saw that one was absent, the name of Walter Evson.
Evidently, it was not because Walter _disapproved_ of the measure, for,
had this been the case, Kenrick knew that his name would have appeared
at the end as a formal dissentient; no, the omission of his name was
due, Kenrick saw, to that same high reserve, and delicate, courteous
consideration which had marked the whole of Walter's behaviour to him
since the day of their disastrous quarrel.

Kenrick appreciated this delicacy, and his eyes were suffused with
tears.  Wilton, somewhat cowed by recent occurrences, was the only boy
in his study at the time, and though Kenrick would have been glad to
have some one near him, to whom he could talk of the disgraces which had
fallen so heavily upon him, and to whom he could look for a little
sympathy and counsel, yet to Wilton he felt no inclination to be at all
communicative.  There was, indeed, something about Wilton which he could
not help liking, but there was and could be no sort of equality between
them.

"Ken," said Wilton, "do you remember telling me the other day that I was
shedding crocodile tears?--what are crocodile tears?  I've always been
wanting to ask you."

"It's just a phrase, Ra, for sham tears; and it was very rude of me,
wasn't it?  Herodotus says something about crocodiles; perhaps he'll
explain it for us.  I'd look and see if I had my Herodotus here, but I
lost it nearly three years ago."

By one of those curious coincidences, which look strange in books, but
which happen daily in common life, Tracy at this moment entered with the
lost Herodotus in his hand, saying--

"Kenrick, I happened to be hunting out the classroom cupboard just now
for a book I'd mislaid, when I found a book with your name in it--an
Herodotus; so I thought I'd bring it you."

"By Jove!" said Wilton, "talk of--"

"Herodotus, and he'll appear," said Kenrick; "how very odd.  It's mine,
sure enough!  I lost it, as I was just telling Wilton, I don't know how
long ago.  Now, Raven, I'll find you all he says about crocodiles."

"Before you look, may I tell you something?" asked Tracy.  "I wanted an
opportunity to speak with you."

"Well?"

"Do you mind coming out into the court, then?" said Tracy, glancing at
Wilton.

"Oh, never mind me," said Wilton; "I'll go out."

"I shan't be a minute," said Tracy, "and then you can come back.  What I
wanted to say, Kenrick, was only this, and it was a great shame of me
not to tell you before; but I see now that I've been a poor tool in the
hands of those fellows.  Jones made you believe, you know, _that Evson
had told him_ all about your home affairs, and about the pony-chaise,
and so on," said Tracy, hurrying over the obnoxious subject.

"Yes, yes," said Kenrick impatiently.  "Well, he never did, you know.
I've heard Jones confess it often with his own lips."

"How can I believe him in one lie more than another, then?  I believe
the fellow couldn't open his lips without a lie flying out of them.  How
could Jones possibly have known about it any other way?  There was only
one fellow who could have told him, and that was Evson.  Evson _must_
have told me a lie when he said that he'd mentioned it to no one but
Power."

"I don't believe Evson ever told a lie in his life," said Tracy.
"However, I can explain your difficulty.  Jones was in the some train as
Evson; he saw you and him ride home; and, staying at Littleton, the next
town to where you live, he heard all about you there.  I've heard him
say so."

"The black-hearted brute!" was all that Kenrick could ejaculate, as he
paced up and down his study with agitated steps.  "O Tracy, what an
utter, utter ass, and fool, and wretch, I've been."

"So have I," said Tracy; "but I'm sorry now, and hope to improve.
Better late than never.  Good morning, Kenrick."

When Wilton returned to the study a quarter of an hour after, he found
Kenrick's attention riveted by a note which he held in his hand, and
which he seemed to be reading with his whole soul.  So absorbed was he
that he was not even disturbed by Wilton's entrance.  Listlessly turning
over the pages of his Herodotus to divert his painful thoughts by
looking for the passage about the crocodiles, Kenrick had found an old
note directed to himself.  Painful thoughts, it seems, were to give him
no respite that day; how well he knew that handwriting, altered a little
now, more firm and mature, but even then a good, though a boyish hand.
He tore it open; it was dated three years back, and signed Walter Evson.
It was the long lost note in which Walter, once or twice rebuffed, had
frankly and even earnestly asked pardon for any supposed fault, and
begged for an immediate reconciliation--the very note of which Walter of
course imagined that Kenrick had received, and from his not taking any
notice of it, inferred, that all hope of renewing their friendship was
finally at an end.  Kenrick could not help thinking how very different a
great part of his school-life would have been, had that note but come to
hand!

He saw it all now as clearly as possible--his haste, his rash and false
inferences, his foolish jealousy, his impetuous pride, his quick
degeneracy, all the mischief he had caused, all the folly he had done,
all the time he had wasted.  Disgraced, degraded, despised by the best
fellows in the school, censured unanimously by his colleagues, given up
by masters whom he respected, without a single true friend, grievously
and hopelessly in the wrong from the very commencement, he now felt
_bowed down and conquered_, and, to Wilton's amazement, he laid his head
upon his arms on the table before him without saying a word, and broke
into a heavy sob.  If his conscience had not declared against him, he
could have borne everything else; but when conscience is our enemy,
there is no chance of a mind at ease.  Kenrick sat there miserable and
self-condemned; he had injured his friend, injured his fellows, and
injured, most deeply of all, himself.  For, as the poet sings--

  "He that wrongs his friend,
  Wrongs himself more; and ever bears about
  A silent court of justice in his breast;
  Himself the judge and jury, and himself
  The prisoner at the bar, ever condemned.
  And that drags down his life."



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

IN THE DEPTHS.

  How easy to keep free from sin,
  How hard that freedom to recall!
  For dreadful truth it is, that men
  _Forget_ the heavens from which they fall.

  Cov. Patmore.

It may be thought strange that Kenrick did not at once, while his heart
was softened, and when he saw so clearly how much he had erred, go there
and then to Walter, confess to him that everything was now explained,
that he had never received his last note, and that, for his own sake, he
desired to be restored, as far as was possible, to his former footing.
If that had not been for Kenrick a period of depression and ill-repute,
he would undoubtedly have done so; but he did not like to go, now that
he was in disgrace, now that his friendship could do no credit, and, as
he feared, confer no pleasure on any one, and under circumstances which
would make it appear that he had changed his views under the influence
of selfish interest, rather than of true conviction or generous impulse.
He thought, too, that friendship over was like water spilt, and could
not be gathered up again; that it was like a broken thread which cannot
again be smoothly reunited.  So things remained on the same footing as
before, except that Kenrick's whole demeanour was changed for the
better.  He bore his punishment in a quiet and manly way; took his place
without a murmur below Henderson at the bottom of the monitors; did not
by any bravado attempt to conceal that he felt justly humiliated, and
gave Whalley his best assistance in governing the Noelites, and bringing
them back by slow but sure degrees to a better tone of thought and
feeling.  Towards Walter especially his whole manner altered.  Hitherto
he had made a point of always opposing him, and taking every opportunity
to show him a strong dislike.  If Walter had embraced one opinion at a
monitors' meeting, it was quite sufficient reason for Kenrick to support
another; if Walter had spoken on one side at the debating society,
Kenrick held it to be a logical consequence that, whatever he thought,
he should speak on the other, and use his powers of speaking, which were
considerable, to throw on Walter's illustrations and arguments all the
ridicule he could.  All this folly and virulence was now abandoned; the
swagger which Kenrick had adopted was from that time entirely laid
aside.  At the very next meeting of the debating society he spoke, as
indeed he generally thought, on the same side with Walter; and spoke,
not in his usual flippant conceited style, but more seriously and
earnestly, treating Walter's speech with approval and almost with
deference.  Every one noticed and rejoiced in this change of manner, and
none more so than Walter Evson and Power.

Kenrick finished with these words--"Gentlemen, before I sit down I have
a task to perform, which, however painful it may be to me, it is due to
you that I should not neglect.  I may do it now, because I see that none
but the sixth-form are present, and because I may not have another early
opportunity.  I have incurred, as you are all well aware, a unanimous
vote of censure from my colleagues--unanimous, although, through a
delicacy which I am thankful to be still capable of keenly appreciating,
the name of one..." the word "friend" sprang to his lips, but humility
forbade him to adopt it, and he said... "the name of one monitor is
absent from the appended signatures.  Gentlemen, I do not like public
recantations or public professions, but I feel it my duty to acknowledge
without palliation that I feel the censure to have been deserved."  His
voice faltered with emotion as he proceeded: "I have been misled,
gentlemen, and I have been labouring for a long time under a grievous
mistake, which has led me to do much injustice and inflict many wrongs;
for these errors I now ask the pardon of all, and especially of those
who are most concerned.  Your censure, gentlemen, concluded with a kind
and friendly wish, and I cannot trust myself to say more now, than to
echo that wish with all my heart, and to hope that ere long the efforts
which I shall endeavour to make may succeed in persuading you to give me
back your confidence and esteem, and to erase from the book the
permanent record of your recent disapproval."

Every one present felt how great must have been the suffering which
could wring such an expression of regret from a nature so proud as
Kenrick's.  They listened in silence, and when he sat down greeted him
with an applause which showed how readily he might win their regard;
while many of them came round him and shook hands with warmth.

"Gentlemen," said Power, rising, "I am sure we all feel that the remarks
we have just heard do honour to the speaker.  I hold in my hand the
monitors' book, open at the page on which our censure was written.
After what we have heard there can be no necessity why that page should
remain where it is for a single day.  I beg to move that leave may be
given me to tear it out at once."

"And I am eager to second the motion," said Henderson, starting up at
the same moment with several others; "and, Kenrick--if I may break
through, on such an occasion as this, our ordinary forms, and address
you by name--I am sure you will believe that though I have very often
opposed you, no one will be more glad than myself to welcome you back as
a friend, and to hope that you may soon be, what you are so capable of
being, not only our greatest support, but also one of the brightest
ornaments of our body."  He held out his hand, which Kenrick readily
grasped, whispering, with a sigh, "Ah, Flip, how I wish that we had
never broken with each other!"

The proposal was carried by acclamation, and Power accordingly tore out
the sheet and put it in the fire.  And that night brightened for Kenrick
into the dawn of better days.  Twenty times over Walter thought that
Kenrick was going to speak to him--for his manner was quite different;
but Kenrick, though every particle of ill-will had vanished from his
mind, and had been replaced by his old unimpaired affection, put off the
reconciliation until he should have been able in some measure to recover
his old position, and to meet his friend on a footing of greater
equality.

Do not let any one think that his reformation was too easy.  It took him
long to conquer himself, and he found the task sorely difficult; but
after many failures and relapses, the words of another who had sinned
and suffered three thousand years ago, and who, after many a struggle,
had discovered the true secret, came home to Kenrick and whispered to
him the message--"Then I said, _It is mine own infirmity: but I will
remember the years of the right-hand of the Most Highest_."

It was not long before one great difficulty confronted him, the
consequence of former misdeeds, and put him under circumstances which
demanded the whole courage of his character, and thoroughly tested the
sincerity of his repentance.

After Mackworth's expulsion, and under Whalley's good government, the
state of the Noelites greatly improved.  Charlie Evson, for whom, now,
by the by, Kenrick always did everything that lay in his power, became
far more a model among the younger boys than Wilton had ever been, and
there was a final end of suppers, smoking parties, organised cribbing,
and recognised "crams."  But just as the house was recovering lost
ground, and had ceased to be quite a byeword in the school, it was
thrown into consternation by a long-continued series of petty thefts.

Small sums were extracted from the boys' jacket pockets after they had
gone to bed; from the play-boxes which were not provided with good locks
and keys; from the private desks in the classrooms, from the
dormitories, and from several of the studies.  There was no clue to the
offender, and first of all suspicion fell strongly on the new boy,
little Elgood.  A few trifling items of circumstantial evidence seemed
to point him out, and it began to be gradually whispered, no one exactly
knew how or by whom, that he must be the guilty boy.  Hints were thrown
out to him to this effect; little bits of paper, on which were written
the words "Thou shalt not steal," or "The devil will have thieves," were
dropped about in his books and wherever he was likely to find them, and
whenever the subject was brought on the tapis his manner was closely
watched.  The effect was unsatisfactory; for Elgood was a timid nervous
boy, and the uneasiness to which this nervousness gave rise was set down
as a sign of guilt.  At length a sovereign and a half were stolen out of
Whalley's study, and as Elgood, being Whalley's fag, had constant access
to the study, and might very well have known that Whalley had the money,
and in what place he kept it, the prevalent suspicions were confirmed.
The boys, with their usual thoughtless haste, leapt to the conclusion
that he must have been the thief.

The house was in a perfect ferment.  However lightly one or two of them,
like Penn, may have thought about taking trifles from small tradesmen,
there was not a single one among them, not even Penn himself, whose
morality did not brand this thieving from schoolfellows as wicked and
mean.  The boys felt, too, that it was a stigma on their house, and
unhappily Just at the time when the majority were really anxious to
raise their corporate reputation.  Every one was filled with annoyance
and disgust, and felt an anxious determination to discover and give up
the thief.

At last the suspicions against Elgood proceeded so far, that out of mere
justice to him the heads of the house, Whalley, Kenrick, and Bliss,
thought it right that he should be questioned.  So, after tea, all the
house assembled in the classroom, and Elgood was formally charged with
the delinquency, and questioned about it, Wilton, in particular, urging
him in almost a bullying tone to surrender and confess.  The poor child
was overwhelmed with terror--cried, blushed, answered incoherently, and
lost his head, but would not for a moment confess that he had done it,
and protested his innocence with many sobs and tears.

"Well, I suppose if he persists in denying it, we can't go any further,"
said Kenrick; "but I'm afraid, Elgood, that you must have had something
to do with it, as every one seems to see ground for suspecting you."

"Oh, I hadn't, I hadn't; indeed I hadn't," wailed Elgood; "I wish you
wouldn't say so, Kenrick; indeed I'm innocent, and I'd rather write home
for the money ten times over than be suspected."

"So would any one, you little fool," said Wilton.

"Don't bully him in that way, Wilton," said Whalley; "it's not the way
to get the truth out of him.  Elgood, I should have thought you
innocent, if you didn't behave so oddly."

"May I speak?" modestly asked a new voice.  The speaker was Charlie
Evson.

"Yes, certainly," said Kenrick, in an encouraging tone.

"Well then, please, Kenrick, and the whole of you, I think you _have_
had the truth out of him; and I think he _is_ innocent."

"Why, Charlie?" said Whalley; "what makes you think so?"

"Because I've asked him, and talked to him privately about it," said
Charlie; "when you frighten him he gets confused, and contradicts
himself, but he can explain whatever looks suspicious if you ask him
kindly and Quietly."

"Bosh!" said Wilton; "who frightened him?"

"Silence, Wilton," said Whalley.  "Well, Charlie, will you question him
now for us?"

"That I will," said Charlie, advancing and putting his hand kindly round
Elgood's shoulder, as he seated himself on the desk by which Elgood was
standing.  "Will you tell us, as I ask you, all you told me this
morning?"

"Yes," said Elgood eagerly, while his whole manner changed from nervous
tremor to perfect simplicity and quiet new that he had a friend to stand
by him.

"Well, now, about the money you've been spending lately?" questioned
Charlie, with a smile.  "You usen't to be so flush of cash, you know, a
month ago."

"I can tell you," answered Elgood; "I had a very large present--large
for me, I mean--three weeks ago.  My father sent me a pound, because it
was my birthday, and my big brother and aunt sent me each a pound too."

"I can answer for that being perfectly true," said Charlie, "for I went
with my brother to the post-office this afternoon and asked, and found
that Elgood had had three money-orders changed there.  And now, Elgood,
can you trust me with your purse?"

"Of course I can, Charlie," said Elgood, readily producing it, and
almost forgetting that the others were present.

"Ah, well, now you see _I'm_ going to rifle it.  Ah! what have we here?
why, here's a whole sovereign, and eight shillings; that looks
suspicious, doesn't it?" said Charlie archly.

"No," said Elgood, laughing; "you went with me yourself when I bought my
desk for eighteen shillings, and the rest--"

"All right," said Charlie.  "Look, you fellows: Elgood and I put down
this morning the other things he's bought, and they come to fourteen
shillings.  I know they're right, for I didn't like Elgood to be wrongly
suspected, so Walter want with me to the shops; indeed it was chiefly
spent at Coles's"--at which remark they all laughed, for Coles's was the
favourite "tuck shop" of the boys.  "Well, now, 1 pound, 8 shillings
plus 18 shillings plus 14 shillings makes 3 pounds, the sum which Elgood
received from home.  Is that plain?"

"As plain as a pike-staff," said Bliss; "and you're a little brick,
Evson; and it's a chouse if any one suspects Elgood any more."

Wilton suggested something about Elgood being Whalley's fag.

"Shame, Raven," said Kenrick; "why, what a suspicious fellow you must
be; there's no ground whatever to suspect Elgood now."

"I only want the fellow found out for the honour of the house," said
Wilton, with a sheepish look at this third rebuff.

"Oh, I forgot about that for the moment," said Charlie; "Whalley,
please, you know the time, don't you, when the money was taken from your
desk?"

"Yes; it must have been between four and six, for I saw it safe at four,
and it was gone when I came back after tea."

"Then all right," said Charlie joyfully, "for at that very time, all of
it, Elgood was in my brother's study with me, learning some lessons.
Now then, is Elgood clear?"

"As clear as noonday," shouted several of them, patting the poor child
on the head.

"And really, Charlie, we're all very much obliged to you," said Whalley,
"for setting this matter straight.  But now, as it _isn't_ Elgood, who
_is_ the thief?  We must all set ourselves to discover."

"And we _shall_ discover," said Bliss; "he's probably here now.  Who is
it?" he asked, glancing round.  "Well, whoever it is, I don't envy him
his sensations at this minute."

The meeting broke up, and Kenrick accompanied Whalley to his study to
concert further measures.

"Have you any suspicion at all about it, Whalley?"

"Not the least.  Have you?  No.  Well, then, what shall we do?"

"Why the thief isn't likely to visit _your_ study again, Whalley; very
likely he'll come to mine.  Suppose we put a little marked money in the
secret drawer.  It's rather a joke to call it the _secret_ drawer, for
there's no secret about it; anyhow, it's an open secret."

"Very good; and then?"

"Why, you know the money generally goes at one particular time on
half-holidays.  I'm afraid the rogue, whoever he is, has got a taste for
it by this time, and will come to money like a fly to a jam-pot.  Now,
outside my room, a few yards off, is the shoe-cupboard; what if you and
I, and a few others, agree to shut ourselves up there in turns, now and
then, on half-holidays between roll-call and tea-time?"

"I see," said Whalley; "well, it's horribly unpleasant, but I'll take my
turn first.  Isn't the door usually locked, though?"

"Yes, but so much the better; we can easily get it left open, and the
thief won't suspect an ambuscade.  He _must_ be found out, for the sake
of all the boys who are innocent and to wipe out the blot against the
house."

"All right; I'll ensconce myself there to-morrow.  I say, Ken, isn't
young Evson a capital fellow? how well he managed to clear Elgood,
didn't he?  I declare he taught us all a lesson."

"Yes," said Kenrick; "he's his brother all over; just what Walter was
when he came."

"What, _you_ say that?" said Whalley, smiling and arching his eyebrows.

"Indeed I do," said Kenrick, with some sadness; "I haven't always
thought so, the more's the pity;" and he left the room with a sigh.

After his turn for incarceration in the shoe-cupboard, Bliss complained
loudly that it wasn't large enough to accommodate him, and that it
cramped his long arms and legs, to say nothing of the unpleasant
vicinity of spiders and earwigs.  But the others, laughing at him, told
him that, if the experiment was to be of any use whatever, they must
persevere in it, and Bliss allowed himself to be made a victim.  For a
time nothing happened, but they had not to wait very long.

One day, Kenrick had been mounting guard for about half an hour, and was
getting very tired, when a light and hasty step passed along the
passage, and into his room.  The boy found the study empty, and
proceeded noiselessly to open Kenrick's desk, and examine the contents.
At length he pulled open the secret drawer; it opened with a little
click, and _there_ lay before him two half-sovereigns and some silver.
He was a wary fellow, for he scrutinised these all over most carefully
to see if they were marked, and finding no mark of any kind on them--for
it almost required a microscope to see the tiny scratch between the w.w.
on the smooth edge of the neck--he took out his purse, and was
proceeding to drop them into it, when _a heavy hand was laid upon his
shoulder_, and Kenrick and Wilton--the detected thief--stood face to
face.  The purse dropped on the floor.

For a moment they stood silent, staring at each other, and drawing quick
breaths.  Wilton stood there pale as death, and looked up at Kenrick
trembling, and with a frightened stare.  It was too awful to be so
suddenly surprised; to have had an unknown eye-witness standing by him
all the while that, fancying himself unseen, he was in the very act of
committing that secret deed of sin; to be arrested, detected, exposed,
as the boy whose hidden misdoings had been, for so long, a source of
discomfort, anxiety, and shame.

"_You_, Wilton--_you, you, you_, the disturber of the house, _you_, who
have so long been treated by me as a friend, and allowed at all times to
use my study; _you_, the foremost to throw the suspicion on others!"  He
stopped, breathless, for his indignation was rushing in too deep and
strong a torrent to find vent in words.

"O Kenrick, don't tell of me."

"Don't _tell_ of you!  Good heavens! is that all you can find to say?
Not one word of sorrow--not one word of shame.  Abandoned, heartless,
graceless fellow!"

"I was driven to it, Kenrick, indeed I was.  I owed money to Dan, and
to--to other places, and they threatened to tell of me if I didn't pay.
Then Harpour and those fellows quite cleared me out at cards; I believe
they did it by cheating.  O, don't tell of me."

"I cannot screen a thief," was the freezing reply; and the change from
flame to ice showed into what commotion his feelings had been thrown.

"Well, then, if it comes to that," said Wilton, turning sullen, "_I'll_
tell of _you_.  It'll all come out; remember it was you who first took
me to Dan's, and that's not the only thing I could tell of you.  O
Kenrick, don't tell, or it will get us all into trouble."

"This, then, is the creature whom I have suffered to call me friend!"
said Kenrick; "for whom I have given up some of the best friends in the
school!  And this is your gratitude!  Why, you worm, Wilton, what do you
take me for?  Do you think that fear of _your_ disclosures will make me
hush up twenty thefts?  You enlist the whole strength of my conscience
against you, lest I should seem to screen you for my own sake.  Faugh!
your very touch sickens me!--go!"

"O Kenrick, don't be so angry; I didn't mean to say it; I didn't know
what I was saying; I am driven into a corner by shame and misery.  I
know I have been a mean dog; but even if you tell of me, don't crush me
so with your anger, for indeed, indeed, I _have_ been grateful, and have
loved you, Kenrick.  But oh, don't tell, I implore, I entreat you, Ken.
How little I thought that I should have to speak to you like this!"

But Kenrick could only say--"_You_ the thief; _you_, the _last_ fellow
of all I should have suspected; _you_ whom I have called friend, O
heavens!  Yes, I know that I've done you harm by bad example, I know
that I've much to answer for but at any rate I never taught you to be a
thief."

"But one thing comes of another, Ken; it all came of my being so much
with those brutes, and going to Dan's; it all came of that.  I shouldn't
have thought myself that I could do it or do half the bad things I
_have_ done, two months ago.  It all came of that; and you used to go
with those fellows, Ken, and you went with me to Dan's;" and the boy
wrung his hands, and wept, and flung himself on his knees.  "I must tell
all, if you tell of _me_."

"Say that again," said Kenrick, spurning him scornfully away, "say it
once again, and I go straight to Dr Lane.  Poor worm, you don't
understand me, you don't seem to have the capability of a high thought
in you.  I tell you that nothing you can say of me shall shake my
purpose.  I am going now."

But before he could get his straw hat Wilton had clasped him by the
knees, and in a voice of agony was beseeching him to relent.

"It's all true, Kenrick; I am base, I know it; I have quenched all
honour in me.  I won't say that again, but do, for God's sake, forgive
me this once, and not tell of me.  O Kenrick, have _you_ never had to
say forgive?  Do, do, pity me, as you hope to be forgiven; don't ruin
me, and give me a bad name; I am so young, so young, and have fallen
into bad hands from the first."

He still knelt on the floor, exhausted with the violence of his passion,
hanging his head upon his breast, sobbing as if his heart would break.
It was sad to see him, a mere child still, who might have been so
different, long a little reprobate, and now a convicted thief.  His face
bathed in tears, his voice choked with sobs, the memory of the past,
consciousness that much which he said was only too true, touched Kenrick
with compassion; the tears rolled down his own face fast, and he felt
that, though personal fear could not influence him, pity would perhaps
force him to relent, and wring from him in his weakness a reluctant
promise not to disclose Wilton's discovered guilt.

"What can I say to you, Wilton? you know that I have liked you, but I
never thought that you could act like this."

"Nor I, Kenrick, a short time ago; but the devil tempted me, and I have
never learned to resist."

"From my very heart I _do_ pity you; but I fear I _must_ tell; I fear
it's my duty, and I have neglected so many that I dare neglect no more;
though indeed, I'd rather have had any duty but this."

Wilton was again clasping his knees and harrowing his soul by his wild
anguish, imploring to be saved from the horror of open shame, and,
accustomed as Kenrick was to grant anything to this boy, he was reduced
to great distress.  Already his whole manner had relented from the
loathing and anger he first displayed.  He could stand no more at
present.

"O Wilton," he said, "you will make me ill if you go on like this.  I
cannot, must not, will not make you any promise now; but I will think
what to do."

"I will go," said Wilton, deeply abashed; "but before I go, promise me
one thing, Ken, and that is, even if you tell of me, don't quite cast me
off.  I shouldn't like to leave and think that I hadn't left _one_
behind me to give me a kind thought sometimes."

"O Ra, Ra, to think that it was _you_ all the while who were committing
all these thefts!"

"You _will_ cast me off then?" said Wilton, in a voice broken by
penitence; "O! what a bitter bitter thing it is to feel shame like
this."

"I have felt it too in my time, Raven.  Poor, poor fellow! who am I that
I should cast you off?  No, you unhappy child, I may tell of you, but I
will not cease to be fond of you.  Go, Wilton; I will decide between
this and tea-time--you may come and hear about it after tea."

He was already outside the door when Kenrick called out "Wilton, stop!"

"What is it?" asked Wilton, returning alarmed, for conscience had made
him a coward.

"There!"  Kenrick only pointed to the purse lying on the floor.

"Oh, don't ask me to touch it again, the money is in it," said Wilton,
hastily leaving the room.  There was no acting here; it was plain that
he was penitent--plain that he would have given worlds not to have been
guilty of the sin.

Very sadly, and with pain and doubt, Kenrick thought the matter over,
and thus much at least was clear to him: first, that the house must be
informed, though not necessarily the masters or the other boys;
secondly, that Wilton must make full and immediate restitution to all
from whom he had stolen; thirdly, there could be no doubt about it, that
Wilton must get himself removed at once.  On these conditions he thought
it possible that the matter might be hushed up; but his conscience was
uneasy on this point.  That unlucky threat or hint of Wilton's, that he
could and would tell some of his wrong-doings, was his great
stumbling-block; whenever extreme pity influenced him to screen the poor
boy from full exposure, he began to ask himself whether this was a mere
cowardly alternative suggested by his own fears.  But for this, he would
have determined at once on the more lenient and merciful course; but he
had to face this question of self-interest very earnestly, nor could he
come to any conclusion about it until he had determined to take a step
in all respects worthy of the highest side of his character, by going,
in any case, spontaneously to Dr Lane and laying before him a frank
confession of past delinquencies, leaving him to act as he thought fit.

Having thus disentangled the question from all its personal bearings he
was able to review it on its merits, and went to ask the counsel of
Whalley, to whom he related, in confidence, the whole scene exactly as
it had occurred.  Whalley, too, on hearing the alternative conditions
which Kenrick had planned, was fully inclined to spare Wilton as much as
possible, but, as neither of them felt satisfied to do this on their own
authority, they sought Power's advice and, as he too felt very doubtful
on the matter, he suggested that they should put it to Dr Lane, without
mentioning any names, _as a hypothetical case_, and be finally guided by
his directions.

Accordingly Kenrick sought Dr Lane's study, and laid the entire
difficulty before him.  He listened attentively, and said, "If the boy
is so young, and has been, as you say, misled, and accepts the very
sensible conditions which you have proposed, I am inclined to think that
the course you have suggested will be the wisest and the kindest one.
You have my full authority, Kenrick, to arrange it so, and I am happy to
tell you that you have behaved throughout this matter in an honourable
and straightforward way."

"I fear, sir, I very little deserve your approval," said Kenrick, with
downcast eyes.  "In coming to ask your advice in this case, I wanted
also to say that I have gone so far wrong that I think you ought to be
told how badly I have behaved.  It may be that after what I say, you may
not think right to allow me to stay here, sir; but at any rate I shall
have disburdened my own conscience by telling you, and shall perhaps
feel less wretched."

"My dear Kenrick," said Dr Lane, "it was a right and a brave thing of
you to come here for this purpose.  Confession is often the first, as it
is one of the most trying parts of repentance; and I hail this as a new
proof of your strong and steady desire to amend.  But tell me nothing,
my dear boy.  It may be that I know more than you suppose; at any rate,
I accept the will for the deed, and wish to hear no more, unless,
indeed, you desire to consult me as a clergyman, and as your spiritual
adviser, rather than as your master.  I do not seek this confidence;
only if there is anything on your conscience of which my advice may help
to relieve you, I do not _forbid_ you to proceed, and I will give you
what help I can."

"I think it would relieve me, sir," said Kenrick; "I have no father; I
have, I am sorry to say, no friend in the school to whom I could speak."

"Then sit down, Kenrick, and be assured beforehand of my real sympathy."

He sat down, and, twitching nervously at the ribbon of his straw hat,
told Dr Lane much of the history of the last two years, confessing,
above all, how badly he had behaved as head of the house, and how much
harm he feared his example had done.

Dr Lane did not attempt to extenuate the heinousness of his offence,
but he pointed out to him what were the fruits and the means of
repentance.  He exhorted him to let the sense of his past errors
stimulate him to double future exertions.  He told him of many ways in
which, by kindness, by moral courage, by Christian principle, he might
be a help and a blessing to other boys.  He earnestly warned him to look
to God for strength, and to watch and pray lest he should enter into
temptation.  And then promising him a full and free oblivion of the
past, he knelt down with him and offered up from an overflowing heart a
few words of earnest prayer.

"There is nothing like prayer to relieve the heart, Kenrick," said Dr
Lane; "and now, good-night, and God bless you!"

With a far lighter heart, with far brighter hopes, Kenrick left him,
feeling as if a great burden had been rolled away, and inwardly blessing
the doctor for his comforting kindness.  He found Wilton anxiously
awaiting his arrival in his study; and thinking that their cases in some
respects resembled each other, he strove not to be like the unforgiving
debtor of the parable, and spoke to Wilton with great gentleness.

"Come here, my poor child; first of all, let me tell you that you shall
not be reported."  Wilton repaid him by a look of grateful joy.

"But you must restore all the stolen money, Wilton; the house must be
told privately; and you must leave at once."

"Well, Kenrick, I ask only one favour," said Wilton, after a short
pause.

"What is that?"

"That the house may not be told who stole the money until it is nearly
time for me to go."

"No; it shall be kept close till then, otherwise the next fortnight
would be too hard for you to bear."

"But _must_ I leave?" asked Wilton, appealingly.

"It must be so, Wilton; _I_ shall be sorry for you, but it must be
settled so.  Can you manage it?"

"O yes," said Wilton, crying quietly; "I'll write home and tell my poor
mother all about it, and then of course she'll send me some money and
take me away at once, to save me from being expelled.  My poor mother,
how wretched it will make her!"

"Sin makes us all wretched, Raven boy.  I'm sure it makes me wretched
enough.  And that you mayn't think that fear has had anything to do with
our letting you off, I must tell you, Wilton, that I've been to Dr Lane
himself and told him all the many sins I've been guilty of."

"Have you?  Oh!  I'm so sorry; it was all through me."

"Yes; but I'm not sorry; I'm all the happier for it, Raven.  There's
nothing so miserable as undiscovered sin--is there?"

"Oh, indeed, there isn't.  I'm sure I feel happier now in spite of all.
No one knows, Ken, how I've suffered this last fortnight.  I've been in
a perpetual fright; I've had fearful dreams; I've felt ready to sink for
shame; and I've always been fancying that fellows suspected me.  Do you
know, I am almost glad you caught me, Ken.  I'm _very_ glad it was you
and no one else, though it was a _horrid, horrid_ moment when you laid
your hand on my shoulder.  Yet even this isn't so bad as to have gone on
nursing the guilt secretly, and not to have been detected."

Kenrick was musing; the boy who could talk like that was clearly one who
_might_ have beer, very unlike what Wilton then was.

"Wilton," he said, "come here and draw your chair by mine while I read
you a little story."

"O Ken, I'm so grateful that you don't hate and despise me though I am
a--"; he murmured the word "thief" with a shudder, and under his breath,
as he drew up his chair, and Kenrick read to him in a low voice the
story of Achan, till he came to the verses--

"And Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the
tribe of Judah, was taken.

"And Joshua said, _My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of
Israel, and make confession unto him_; and tell me now what thou hast
done, hide it not from me.

"And Achan answered Joshua and said, Indeed I have sinned against the
Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done."

And there Kenrick stopped, while Wilton said, "My son!  You see Joshua
still called him `my son' in spite of all his sin and mischief."

"Yes, Raven boy, but that wasn't why I read you the story which has
often struck me.  What I wanted you to see was this: The man was
detected--the thing had been coming, creeping horribly near to him;
first his tribe marked by the fatal lot, then his family, then his
house, then himself; and while he's standing there, guilty and detected,
in the very midst of that crowd who had been defeated because of his
baseness, and when all their eyes were scowling on him, and when he
knows that he, and his sons, and his daughters, are going to be burned
and stoned--at this very moment Joshua says to him, `My son, _give, I
pray thee, glory to the God of Israel_.'  You see he's to _thank God_
for detecting him--thank God even at that frightful moment, and with
that frightful death before him as a consequence.  One would have
thought that it wasn't a matter for much gratitude or jubilation; but
you see it _was_, and so both Joshua and Achan seem to have admitted."

"Ah, Kenrick!" said Wilton, sadly, "if you'd always talked to me like
that, I shouldn't be like Achan now."

Kenrick said nothing, but as he had received infinite comfort from Dr
Lane's treatment of himself, he took Wilton by the hand, and, without
saying a word, knelt down.  Wilton knelt down beside him, and he prayed
for forgiveness for them both.  A few broken, confused, uncertain words
only, but they were earnest, and they came fresh and burning from the
heart.  They were words of true prayer, and the poor, erring, hardened
little boy rose from his knees too overcome to speak.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

THE RECONCILIATION AND THE LOSS.

  The few remain, the many change and pass,
  Heaven's light alone remains, earth's shadows flee;
  Life, like a dome of many coloured glass,
  Stains the white radiance of eternity,
  Until death shiver it to atoms.

  Shelley's _Adonais_.

The termination of Wilton's sojourn at Saint Winifred's soon arrived.
As yet none but the two head boys in the house knew of his detection.
The thefts indeed had ceased; but the name of the offender was still a
matter of constant surmise, and it was no easy task for Wilton--
conscious how soon they would be informed--to listen to the strong terms
of disgust which were applied to the yet unknown delinquent.  The
barriers of his conceit, his coolness, his audacity, were all broken
down; he was a changed boy; his manner was grave and silent, and he
almost hid himself during those days in Kenrick's study, where Kenrick,
with true kindness, still permitted him to sit.

Meanwhile it became generally known that he was going to leave almost
immediately; and as boys often left in this way at the division of the
quarter, his departure, though rather sudden, created no astonishment,
nor had any one as yet the most distant conjecture as to the reasons
which led to it.  It is not too much to say, that Wilton was one of the
last boys whom the rest would have suspected; they knew indeed that he
never professed to be guided by any strong moral principles; but they
thought him an unlikely fellow to be guilty of acts which sinned so
completely against the schoolboy's artificial code, and which branded
him who committed them with the charge of acknowledged meanness.

On the very evening of his departure, the house was again summoned by a
notice from Whalley and Kenrick to meet in the classroom after
Preparation.  They came, not knowing for what they were summoned.
Whalley opened the proceedings by requesting that any boy who had of
late had money stolen from him would stand up.  Four or five of them
rose, and on stating the sums, mostly small, which they had lost,
immediately received the amount from Whalley, much to their surprise,
and no less to their content.

The duty which still remained was far less pleasing and more delicate,
and it was by Wilton's express and earnest request that it was
undertaken by Kenrick and not by Whalley.  It was a painful moment for
both of them when Kenrick rose, and very briefly, with all the
forbearance and gentleness he could command, informed the house that
there was every reason to hope that, from that time forward, these
thefts which had caused them all so much distress, would cease.  The
offender had been discovered, and he begged them all, having confidence
that they would grant the request, not to deal harshly with him, or
think harshly of him.  The guilty boy had done all that could be done by
making full and immediate restitution, so that none of them now need
remember any injury received at his hands, except Elgood, on whom
suspicion had been unjustly thrown, and whose forgiveness the boy
earnestly begged.

At this part of his remarks there arose in the deep silence a general
murmur of "Who is it? who is it?"

Wilton, trembling all over with agitation and excitement? was seated
beside Kenrick, and had almost cowered behind him for very shame, but
now Kenrick stood aside, and laying his hand on Wilton's head,
continued, "He is one of ourselves, and he is sitting here," while
Wilton covered his face with both hands, and did not stir.

An expression of surprise and emotion thrilled over all the boys
present; not a word was spoken; and immediately after Kenrick said to
them, "He is punished enough; you can understand that this is a terrible
thing for him.  He has made reparation as far as he can, and besides
this, he is _on this account_ going to leave us to-day.  I may tell you
all, too, that he is very, very, very sorry for what he has done, and
has learned a lesson that he will carry with him to his grave.  May I
assure him that we all forgive him freely?  May I tell him that we are
grieved to part with him, and most of all grieved for this which has
caused it?  May I tell him that, in spite of all, he carries with him
our warmest wishes and best hopes, and that he leaves no enemy behind
him here?"

"Yes, yes!" was murmured on all sides, and while the sound of Wilton's
crying sounded through the room, many of the others were also in tears.
For this boy was popular; bad as he had been--and the name of his sins
was legion--there was something about him which had endeared him to most
of them.  Barring this last fault, they were generally proud of him;
there had been a certain generosity about him, a gay thoughtlessness, a
boyish daring, which won their admiration.  He was a promising
cricketer, active, merry, full of spirits: before he had been so spoiled
by the notice of bigger fellows, there was no one who did not like him
and expect that he would turn out well.

"Then my unpleasant task is over," said Kenrick, "and I have no more to
say.  Oh, yes; I had forgotten, there was one very important thing I had
to say, as Whalley reminds me.  It is this: You know that the Noelites
have kept other secrets before now, not always good secrets, I am sorry
to say.  But will you all now keep this an honourable secret?  Will you
not mention (for there is no occasion for it) to any others in the
school, who it was that took the money?  The matter will very soon be
forgotten; do not let Wilton's sin be bruited through the whole school,
so as to give him a bad name for life."

"Indeed we won't, not one of us will tell," said the boys, and they kept
the promise admirably afterwards.

"Then we may all separate.  You may bid Wilton good-bye now if you wish
to do so, for he starts to-night, almost at once; the carriage is
waiting for him now, and you will have no opportunity of seeing him
again."

They flocked round him and said "good-bye" without one word of reproach,
or one word calculated to wound his feelings; many of them added some
sincere expressions of their good wishes for the future.  As for Wilton
himself, he was far too much moved to _say_ much to them, but he pressed
their hands in silence, only speaking to beg Elgood to pardon his
unkindness, which the little fellow begged him not to think of at all.

Charlie Evson lingered among the last, and spoke to him with frank and
genial warmth.

"How you must hate me, Charlie, for annoying you so, and trying to lead
you wrong!" said Wilton, penitently.

"Indeed I don't, Wilton," said Charlie; "I wish you weren't going to
leave.  I'm sure we should all get on better now."

"Don't think me as bad as I have seemed, Charlie.  I was ashamed at
heart all the time I was trying to persuade you to crib and tell lies,
and do like other fellows.  I felt all the while that you were better
than me."

"Well, good-bye, Wilton.  Perhaps we shall meet again some day, and be
good friends; and I wish you happiness with all my heart."

Charlie was the last of them, and Kenrick and Wilton were left alone.
For Wilton's sake Kenrick tried to show all the cheerfulness he could,
as he went with him through the now silent and deserted court to the
gate where the carriage was waiting.

"Have you got all your luggage, and everything all right, Raven?"

"Yes, everything," he said, taking one last long look at the familiar
scene.  It was dim moonlight; the lights twinkled in the studies where
the upper boys were working, and in the dormitories where the rest were
now going to bed.  The tall trees round the building stood quite black
against the faintly-lighted sky, waving their thinned remnant of yellow
leaves in the November air.  In the stillness you heard every slight
sound; and the murmur of boys' voices came mingled with the plashing of
the mountain stream, and the moaning of the low waves as they broke upon
the shore.  A merry laugh rang from one of the dormitories, jarring
painfully on Wilton's feelings, as he stood gazing round in silence.

He got into the carriage, sighing heavily and grasping Kenrick's hand.

"Well, good-bye, Ken; it _must_ be said at last.  May I write to you?"

"I wish you would.  I shall be so glad to hear of you."

"And you will answer me, Ken?"

"Of course I will, my poor child.  Good-bye.  God bless you!"  They
still lingered for a moment, and Kenrick saw in the moonlight that
Wilton's face was bathed in tears.

"All right, sir?" said the driver.

"Yes," said Wilton; "but it's all wrong, Ken, I think.  Good-bye."  He
waved his hand, the carriage drove off into the darkening night with the
little boy alone, and Kenrick with a sinking heart strolled back to his
study.  Do not pry into his feelings, for they were very terrible ones,
as he sat down to his books with the strong conviction that there is
nothing so good as the steady: fulfilment of duty for the driving away
of heavy thoughts.

All his time was taken up with working for the scholarship.  It was a
scholarship of ninety pounds a year for four years, founded by a
princely benefactor of the school, but only falling vacant biennially.
There were other scholarships besides this, but this was by far the most
valuable one at Saint Winifred's; the tenure of it was circumscribed by
no conditions, and it was therefore proportionably desirable that
Kenrick, who was poor, should obtain it.  He had, indeed, hardly a
chance, as he well knew; for even if he succeeded in beating Walter, he
could not expect to beat Power.  But Power, though a most graceful and
finished scholar, was not strong in mathematics, and as they counted
something in the examination, Kenrick's chief chance lay in this, for as
a scholar he was by no means to be despised; and with a just reliance on
his own abilities, he hoped, if fortunate, to make up for being defeated
in classics, by being considerably ahead in the other branches of the
examination.  How he longed now to have at his command the time he had
so largely wasted!  Had he but used that aright he might have easily
disputed the palm in any competition with Power himself.  Few boys had
been gifted with stronger intellects or clearer heads than he.  But
though _fresh_ time may be carefully and wisely used, the _past_ time
that has once been wasted can never be recovered or redeemed.

And as he worked hard day by day the time quickly flew by, the
scholarship examination took place, and the Christmas holidays came on.
The result of the competition could not be known until the boys returned
to school.

Mrs Kenrick thought that this Christmas was the happiest she had known.
They spent it, of course, very quietly.  There were for them none of
those happy family gatherings and innocent gaieties that made the time
so bright for others, yet still there was something peaceful and
something brighter than usual about them.  Harry's manner, she thought,
was more affectionate, more tenderly respectful, than it often was.
There seemed to be something softer and more lovable about his ways.  He
bore himself with less haughty indifference towards the Fuzbeians; he
entered with more zest into such simple amusements as he could invent or
procure; he condescended to play quite simply with the curate's little
boys, and seemed to be more humble and more contented.  She counted the
days he spent with her as a miser counts his gold; and he, when he left
her, seemed more sorry to leave, and tried to cheer her spirits, and did
not make so light, as his wont had been, of the grief which the
separation caused.

The first event of importance on the return of the boys to school, was
the announcement of the scholarship.  The list was read from the last
name upwards; Henderson stood sixth, Kenrick third, Evson second, _Power
first_.  "But," said Dr Lane, "Power has communicated to me privately
that he does not wish to receive the emoluments of the scholarship, he
will therefore be _honorary_ scholar, while the scholarship itself will
be held by Evson."

Disappointed at the result, as he undoubtedly was, yet Kenrick would
have been glad at that moment to be able to congratulate Walter.  He
took it very quietly and well.  Sorrow and failure had come on him so
often lately, that he hardly looked for anything else; so, when he had
heard the result announced, he tried to repress every melancholy thought
and walking back to his study, resumed his day's work as though nothing
had happened.

And as he sat there, making believe to work, but with thoughts which, in
spite of himself, sadly wandered, there was a knock at the door, and to
his great joy, no less than to his intense surprise, Walter Evson
entered.

"O Evson," he said, blushing with awkwardness, as he remembered how long
a time had passed since they had exchanged a word; "I'm glad you've
come.  Sit down.  Let me congratulate you."

"Thanks, Kenrick," said Walter, holding out his hand; "I thought we had
gone on in this way long enough.  I have never had any ill-feeling for
you, and I feel sure now from your manner that you have none towards
me."

"None, Walter, none; I _had_ at one time, but it has long ceased; my
error has long been explained to me.  I have done you wrong, Walter, for
two years and more; it has been one of my many faults, and the chief
cause of them all.  Can you forgive me?"

"Heartily, Ken, if I have anything to forgive.  We have both been
punished enough, I think, in losing the happiness which we should have
been enjoying if we had continued friends."

"Ah, Walter, it pains me to think of that irrevocable past."

"But, Ken, I have come now for a definite purpose," said Walter.
"You'll promise me not to take offence?"

"Never again, Walter, with you."

"Well, then, tell me honestly, was it of any consequence to you to gain
this scholarship, in which, so unexpectedly to myself, some accident has
placed me above you?"

Kenrick reddened slightly, and made no answer, while Walter quickly
continued--"You know, Ken, that I am going to stay here another year;
are you?"

"I'm afraid not; my guardian does not think that we can afford it."

"Well, then, Ken, I think I may say, without much presumption, that, as
I stay here for certain, I may safely reckon on getting a scholarship
next year.  At any rate, even if I don't, my father is quite rich enough
to bear my university expenses unaided without any inconvenience.  It
would be mere selfishness in me, therefore, to retain this scholarship,
and I mean to resign it at once; so that let me now congratulate _you_
heartily on being Marsden scholar."

"Nay, Walter, I can't have you make this sacrifice for my sake."

"You can't help it, Ken; for this is a free country," said Walter,
smiling, "and I may waive a scholarship if I like.  But it's no
sacrifice whatever, my dear fellow; don't say anything more about it.
It gives me ten times the pleasure that you should hold it rather than
I.  So again I congratulate you; and now, as you must have had enough of
me, I'll say good morning."

He rose with a smile to leave the room, but Kenrick, seizing him by the
hand, exclaimed--

"O Walter, you heap coals of fire on my head.  Am I never to receive
anything from you but benefits which I can never return?"

"Pooh, Ken, there are no benefits between friends; only let us not be
silent and distant friends any longer.  Power is coming into my study to
tea to-night; won't you join us as in old days?"

"I will, Walter; but can the ghost of old days be called to life?"

"Perhaps not; but the young present, which is no ghost, shall replace
the old past, Ken.  At six o'clock, mind.  Good-bye."

"Don't go yet: do stay a little.  It is a greater pleasure than I can
tell you to see you here again, Walter.  I want to have a talk with
you."

"To make up for two years' arrears, eh, Ken?  Why, what a pretty little
study you've got!  Isn't it odd that I should never have been in it
before?  It seems quite natural to me to be here, somehow.  You must
come and see mine this evening; I flatter myself it equals even Power's,
and beats Flip's in beauty, and looks out on the sea: such a jolly view.
But you mustn't see it till this evening.  I shall make Charlie put it
to rights in honour of your visit.  Charlie beats any fag for neatness;
why did you turn him off, eh?  I've made him my fag now, to keep his
hand in."

"Let him come back to me now, Walter; I'm sadder and wiser since those
days."

"That I will, gladly.  I know, too, that he'll be delighted to come.
Ah, Wilton's photograph, I see," said Walter, still looking about him,
"I thought him greatly improved before he left."

Kenrick was pleased to see that Walter had no suspicion _why_ he left,
so that the secret had been kept.  They talked on very, very pleasantly,
for they had much to say to each other, and Walter had, by his simple,
easy manner, completely broken the ice, and made Kenrick feel at home
with him again.  Kenrick was quite loth to let him go, and kept
detaining him so eagerly that more than half an hour, which seemed like
ten minutes, had slipped away before he left.  Kenrick looked forward
eagerly to meet him again in the evening, with Power, and Henderson, and
Eden; their meeting would fitly inaugurate his return to the better
feelings of past days; but it was not destined that the meeting should
take place; nor was it till many evenings afterwards that Kenrick sat
once more in the pleasant society of his old friends.

When Walter had at last made good his escape, playfully refusing to be
imprisoned any longer, Kenrick rose and paced the room.  He could hardly
believe his own happiness; it was the most delightful moment he had
experienced for many a long day; the scholarship, so long the object of
his hope and ambition, was now attained; impossible as it had seemed, it
was actually his, and, at the same moment, the truest friend of his
boyhood--the friend for whose returning respect and affection he so long
had yearned--was at last restored to him.

With an overflowing heart he sat down to write to his mother, and
communicate the good news that he was reconciled to Walter, and that
Power and Walter had resigned the scholarship in his favour.  He had
never felt in happier spirits than just then; and then, even at the same
moment, the cup of sincere and innocent joy, so long untasted, was, with
one blow, dashed away from his lip.

For at that moment the post came in, and one of his fags, humming a
lively tune, came running with a letter to his door.

"A letter for you, Kenrick," the boy said, throwing it carelessly on the
table, and taking up his merry song as he left the room.  But Kenrick's
eyes were riveted on the letter: it was edged with the deepest black,
and bore the Fuzby post-mark.  For a time he sat stupidly staring at it:
he dared not open it.

At length he made an effort, and tore it open.  It was a rude, blurred
scrawl from their old servant, telling him that his mother had died the
day before.  A brief note enclosed in this, from the curate of the
place, said, "It is quite true, my poor boy.  Your mother died very
suddenly of spasms in the heart.  God's ways are not as our ways.  I
have written to tell your guardian, and he will no doubt meet you here."

Kenrick remained stupefied, unable to think, almost unable to
comprehend.  He was roused to his senses by the entrance of his fag to
remove his breakfast things, which still lay on the table; and with a
vague longing for some comfort and sympathy, he sent the boy to Walter
with the message that Kenrick wanted him.

Walter came at once, and Kenrick, not trusting his voice to speak,
pushed over to him the letter which contained the fatal news.  In such a
case human consolation cannot reach the sorrow.  It passes like the idle
wind over the wounded heart.  All that _could_ be done by words, and
looks, and acts of sympathy Walter did; and then went to arrange for
Kenrick's immediate journey, not returning till he came to tell him that
a carriage was waiting to take him to the train.

That evening Kenrick reached the house of death, which was still as
death itself.  The old faithful servant opened the door to his knock,
and using her apron to wipe her eyes, which were red with long weeping,
she exclaimed--

"O Master Harry, Master Harry, she's gone.  She had been reading and
praying in her room, and then she came down to me quite bright and
cheerful, when the spasms took her, and I helped her to bed, and she
died."

Harry flung down his hat in the hall, and rushed up stairs to his
mother's room, but when he had opened the door, he stood awe-struck and
motionless--for he was alone in the presence of the dead.

The light of winter sunset was streaming over her, whose life had been a
winter day.  Never even in life had he seen her so lovely, so beautiful
with the beauty of an angel, as now with the smiling never-broken calm
of death upon her.  Over the pure pale face, from which every wrinkle
made by care and sorrow had vanished, streamed the last cold radiance of
evening, Illuminating the peaceful smile, and seeming to linger lovingly
as it lit up strange glories in the golden hair, smoothed in soft bands
over her brow.  There she lay with her hands folded, as though in
prayer, upon her quiet breast; and the fitful fever of life had passed
away.  Dead--with the smile of heaven upon her lips, which should never
leave them more!

Hers had been a hard, mysterious life.  In all the sweet bloom of her
youthful beauty she had left her rich home, not, indeed, without the
sanction, but against the wishes of her relatives, to brave trial and
poverty with the man she loved.  How bitter that poverty, how severe,
how unexpected those trials had proved to be, we have seen already; and
then, still young, as though she were meant to tread with her tender
feet the whole thorny round of human sorrow, she had been left a widow
with an only son.  And during the eight years of her widowed loneliness,
her relatives had neglected with cold pride both her and her orphan boy;
even that orphan boy, in the midst of all his love for her, had by his
pride and waywardness caused her many an anxious hour and many an aching
heart, yet she clung to him with an affection whose yearning depth no
tongue can utter.  And now, still young, she had died suddenly, and left
him on the threshold of dangerous youth almost without a friend in the
wide world; had passed, with a silence which could never more be broken,
into the eternal world; had left him, whom she loved with such intensity
of unspeakable affection, without a word, without a look, without a sign
of farewell.  She had passed away in a moment to the far-off untroubled
shore, whence waving hands cannot be seen, and no sounds of farewell
voices heard.  How must that life expand in the unconceived glory of
that new dawn--the life which on earth so little sunshine visited!

She was one of the most sweet, the most pure, the most unselfish, the
most beautifully blameless of all God's children; and she had lived in
hardship, in neglect, in anxiety, in calumny; she had lived among those
mean and wretched villagers: an angel was among them, and they knew it
not; she had tasted no other drink but the bitter waters of affliction;
no hope had brightened, no love sustained, her earthly course.  And now
her young orphan son, his heart dead within him for anguish, his
conscience tortured by remorse, was kneeling in that agony which no weak
words can paint, was kneeling for the last time, _too late_, beside her
corpse.

Truly life is a mystery, which the mind of man cannot fathom till the
glory of eternal truth enlighten it!



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

THE STUPOR BROKEN.

  The white stone, unfractured, ranks as most precious;
  The blue lily, unblemished, emits the finest fragrance;
  The heart, when it is harassed, finds no place of rest;
  The mind, in the midst of bitterness, thinks only of grief.

  _The Sorrows of Han, a Chinese Tragedy_.

After these days Kenrick returned to Saint Winifred's, as he supposed,
for the last time.  His guardian, a stiff, unsympathising man, had
informed him, that as his mother's annuity ceased with her life, there
was very little left to support him.  The sale, however, of the house at
Fuzby, and the scholarship which he had just won, would serve to
maintain him for a few years, and meanwhile his guardian would endeavour
to secure for him a place in some merchant's office, where gradually he
would be able to earn a livelihood.

It was a very different life from that which this fine, clever
high-spirited boy had imagined for himself, and he looked forward to the
prospect with settled despair.  But he seemed now to regard himself as a
victim of destiny, regretting nothing, and opposing nothing, and caring
for nothing.  He told Walter with bitter exaggeration "that he must
_indeed_ thank him for giving up the scholarship, as he supposed that it
had saved him from starvation.  His guardian, who had a family of his
own, didn't seem to care a straw for him; and he had no friend in the
world besides."

And as, for days and weeks, he brooded over these gloomy thoughts and
sad memories, he fell into a weary, broken, aimless kind of life.  Many
tried to comfort him, but they could not reach his sorrow; in their
several ways his school friends did all they could to cheer him up, but
they all failed.  He grew moody, solitary, silent.  Walter often sought
him out, and talked in his lively, cheerful, happy strain; but even
_his_ society Kenrick seemed to shun.  He was in that morbid, unhealthy
state when to meet others inspires a positive shrinking of mind.  He
seemed to have no pleasure except in shutting himself up in his study,
and in taking long lonely walks.  He performed his house duties
mechanically, and by routine; when he read the lessons in chapel, his
voice sounded as though it came from afar, like the voice of one who
dreamed; he sat with his books before him for long hours, and made no
progress, hardly knowing the page on which he was employed.  In school,
he sat listlessly playing with his pen, taking no notes, seeming as
though he heard nothing, and was scarcely aware of what was going on.
His friends could not guess what would come of it, but they grew afraid
for him when they saw him mope thus inconsolably, and pine away without
respite, till his eyes grew heavy, and his face pale and thin.  He had
changed all his ways; he seemed to have altered his very nature; he
played no games, took no interest in anything, and dropped all his old
pursuits.  His work was quite spiritless, and he grew so absent that he
forgot the commonest occupations of every day--living as in a waking
sleep.

Power and Walter, in talking of him, often wondered whether it was the
uncertainty of his future prospects which had thus affected him; and in
the full belief that this must have something to do with his morbid
melancholy, Power mentioned the matter to Dr Lane as soon as he had the
opportunity.

Dr Lane had observed, with much pity, the depression which had fastened
on Kenrick like a disease.  He was not surprised to see him come back
deeply affected; but if "the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts,"
its sorrows are usually short and transient, and he looked upon it as
unnatural that Kenrick's grief should seem thus incurable, and that a
young boy like him should thus refuse to be comforted.  It was not long
before he introduced the subject, while talking to Power after looking
over his composition.

"Kenrick has just been here, Power," he said; "it pains me to see him so
sadly altered.  I can hardly get him to speak a word; all things seem
equally indifferent to him, and his eyes look to me as though they were
always ready to overflow with tears.  What can we manage to do for him?
Would not a little cheerful society brighten him up?  We had him here
the other day, but he did not speak once the whole evening.  Can't even
Henderson get him to smile somehow?"

"I'm afraid not, sir," said Power.  "Henderson and Evson and I have all
tried, but he seems to avoid seeing any one.  It makes him ill at ease
apparently.  I am afraid, for one thing, that he is vexing himself about
not being allowed to return, and about being sent into a merchant's
office, which he detests."

"If that is all, there can be no difficulty about it," said the Doctor;
"we have often kept deserving boys here, when funds failed, and I can
easily assure his guardian, without his knowing of it, that the expense
need not for a moment stand in the way of his return."

These generous acts are common at Saint Winifred's, for she is indeed an
_alma mater_ to all her children; and since Kenrick had confided this
particular sorrow to _Walter_, Walter undertook to remove it by telling
him that Dr Lane would persuade his guardian to let him return.
Kenrick appeared glad of the news, as though it brought him a little
relief, but it made no long change in his present ways.

Nor even did a still further piece of good fortune, when his guardian
wrote and told him that, _on condition of his being sent to the
University_, an unknown and anonymous friend had placed at his disposal
100 pounds a year, to be continued until such time as he was able to
maintain himself; and that this generous gift would of course permit of
his receiving the advantage of an Oxford training, and obviate the
necessity of his entering an office, by clearing for him the way to one
of the learned professions.  This news stirred him up a little, and for
a time--but not for long.  He looked upon it all as destiny: he could
not guess, he hardly tried to surmise, who the unknown friend could be.
Nor did he know till years afterwards that the aid was given by the good
and wealthy Sir Lawrence Power, at his son's earnest and generous
request.  For Power did this kind deed by stealth, and mentioned it to
no one, not even to Walter; and Kenrick little thought when he told the
good news to Power, and received his kind congratulations, that Power
had known of it before he did himself.  But still, in spite of all,
Kenrick seemed sick at heart, and his life crept on in a sluggish
course, like a river that loses its bright stream in the desert, and all
whose silver runnels are choked up with dust and sand.

The fact was, that the blows of punishment had fallen on him so fast and
so heavily that he felt crushed to the very earth.  The expulsion of the
reprobates with whom he had consorted, his degradation and censure,
Wilton's theft and removal, the violent tension and revulsion of feeling
caused by his awakened conscience, his confession, and the gnawing sense
of shame, the failure of his ambition, and then his mother's death
coming as the awful climax of the calamities he had undergone, and
followed by the cold unfeeling harshness of his guardian, and the
damping of his hopes--all these things had broken the boy's spirit
utterly.  Disgrace, and sorrow, and bereavement, and the stings of
remorse, and the suffering of punishment--the forfeiture of a guilty
past, and the gloom of a lonely future--these things unmanned him, bowed
him down, poisoned his tranquillity of mind, unhinged every energy of
his soul, seemed to dry up the very springs of life.  The hand of man
could not rouse him from the stupor caused by the chastisements of God.

But the rousing came at last, and in due time; and it all came from a
very little matter--so slight a matter as a little puff of seaward air.
A trivial accident, you will say; yes, one of those very trivial
accidents that so often affect the destinies of a lifetime, and:

  "Shape our ends,
  Rough-hew them how we will."

Kenrick, as usual, was walking along the top of the cliffs alone--
restless, aimless, and miserable--"mooning," as the boys would have
called it--unable even to analyse his own thoughts, conscious only that
it was folly in him to nurse this long-continued and hopeless
melancholy, yet quite incapable of making the one strong effort which
would have enabled him to throw it off.  And in this mood he sat down
near the cliff, thinking of nothing, but watching, with idle guesses as
to their destination and history, the few vessels that passed by on the
horizon.  The evening was drawing-in, cold and windy; and suddenly
remembering that he must be back by tea-time, he rose up to return.  The
motion displaced his straw hat, and the next moment the breeze had
carried it a little way over the edge of the cliff, where it was caught
in a low bush of tamarisk.  It rested but a few feet below him, and the
chalky front of the cliff was sufficiently rough to admit of his
descent.  He climbed to it, and had just succeeded in disengaging it
with his foot, when before he had time to seize it, it again fell, and
rolled down some thirty feet.  Kenrick, finding that he had been able to
get down with tolerable ease, determined to continue his descent in
order to secure it.  It never occurred to him that the hat was of no
great importance, and that it would have been infinitely less trouble to
walk home without it, and buy a new one, than to run the risk and
encounter the trouble of his climb.  However, he _did_ manage to reach
it, and put it on with some satisfaction, when, as he was beginning to
remount, a considerable mass of chalk crumbled away under his feet, and
made him cling on with both hands to avoid being precipitated.  He had
been able to get down well enough, because, if the chalk slipped, he
glided on safely with it, but in climbing up he was obliged to press his
feet strongly downwards in order to gain his spring; and every time he
did this, he found that the chalk kept giving way, exhausting him with
futile efforts, filling his shoes with dust and pebbles, slipping into
his clothes, and blinding his eyes.  Every person who has climbed at
all, whether in the Alps or elsewhere, knows that it is easy enough to
get down places which it is almost impossible to mount again; and
Kenrick, after many attempts, found that he had been most imprudent, and
becoming seriously alarmed, was forced, when he had quite tired himself
with fruitless exertions and had once or twice nearly fallen, to give up
the attempt altogether, and do his best to secure another way of escape.

This was to climb down quite to the bottom of the cliff, and make his
way, as best he could, over rocks and shingle round the bluff which shut
in one side of the little bay on which he stood, and along the narrow
line of beach, to Saint Winifred's head.  This was possible sometimes,
and he fancied that the tide was sufficiently far out to enable him to
do it now.  At any rate herein lay, so far as he saw, his only chance of
safety.

Down the cliff then he climbed once more, and though it was some ninety
feet high he found no difficulty in doing this, with care, till he came
to a place where its surface was precipitous for a height of some ten
feet, worn smooth by the beating of the waves.  Holding with his hands
to the edge, he let himself fall down this height, and found himself
standing, a little shaken though unhurt, in a small pebbly bay or
indentation of the shore formed by a curve in the line of cliffs, with a
series of headlands and precipices trending away on one side far to his
right, and with the Ness of Saint Winifred's reaching out to his left.
Once round that headland he would be safe, and indeed if he once got
beyond the little pebbly inlet where he stood, he hoped to find some
place where he might scale the rocks, and so cross the promontory and
get home.

There was no time to be lost, and he ran with all his speed over the
loose stones towards the bluff, letting the unlucky straw hat drop on
the shore, as it had no string, and it impeded him to be obliged to hold
it on with one hand.  Reaching the end of the shingle, he stumbled with
difficulty over some scattered rocks slimy with ooze and seagrass,
hoping with intense hope that when he rounded the projection of cliff,
he would see a line of beach, narrow indeed, but still wide enough to
allow of his running along it before the tide had come in, and reaching
some part of Saint Winifred's Head which he might be able to scale by
means of a sheep-path, or with the help of hands and knees.  Very
quickly he reached the corner, and hardly dared to look; but when he
_did_ look, a glance showed him that but slender hope was left.  At one
spot the tide had already reached the foot of the cliffs; but if he
could get to that spot while the water was yet sufficiently shallow to
allow him to run through it, he trusted that he might yet be saved.  The
place was far-off, but he ran and ran; and ever as he ran the place
seemed to get farther and farther, and his knees failed him for fatigue,
as he sank at every step in the noisy and yielding mixture of sand and
pebbles.

Reader, have you ever run a race with the sea?  If not, accept the
testimony of one who has had to do it more than once, that it is a very
painful and exciting race.  I ran it once successfully with one who,
though we then escaped, has since been overtaken and swallowed up by the
great dark waves of that other sea, whose tides are ever advancing upon
us, and must sooner or later absorb us all--the great dark waves of
Death.  But to take your life in your hand, and run and to know that the
sea is gaining upon you, and that, however great the speed with which
fear wings your feet, your subtle hundred-handed enemy is intercepting
you with its many deep inlets, and does not bate an instant's speed, or
withhold itself a hair's-breadth for all your danger--is an awful thing
to feel.  And then to see that it _has_ intercepted you is worst of all;
it is a moment not to be forgotten.  And all this was what Kenrick had
to undergo.  He ran until he panted for breath, and stumbled for very
weariness--but he was too late.  A broad sheet of water now bathed the
bases of the cliff, and the waves, as though angry with the opposing
breeze, were leaping up with a frantic hiss, and deluging the rocks with
sheets of spray and foam.

Experience had taught him with what speed and fury on that dangerous
coast the treacherous tide came in.  There was not a moment to spare,
and as he flew back to the small shelter of the pebbly cove, the water
was already gliding close to him, and stretching its arms like a hungry
medusa round the seaweed-matted lumps of scattered rock over which he
strode.

His face wetted with the salt dew, his brown hair scattered on the
rising wind, he flew rather than ran once more to the place where he had
descended, to renew the wild attempt to scale the cliff which seemed to
afford him the only shadow of a hope.  Yet a mere glance might have been
enough to show him that this hope was vain.  Both at that spot, and as
far as he could see, the sheer base of the cliff offered him no place
where it was possible to rest a foot, no place where he could mount
three feet above the shingle.  But his scrutiny brought home to him
another appalling fact--namely, that the sea-mark, where the highest
tide fringed its barriers with a triumphal wreath of hanging seaweed,
and below which no foliage grew, was high up upon the cliff, far above
his head.

It was too late to curse his rashness and folly, nor would he even try
to face his frightful situation till he had thought of every conceivable
means by which to escape.  A friend of mine had, and I suppose still
has, a pen-and-ink sketch which made one shudder to look at it.  All
that you see is a long sea-wall, apparently the side of some stone pier,
so drawn as to give the impression of great height, and the top of it
not visible in the picture; by the side of this ripples and plashes a
long dark reach of sea water, lazily waving the weeds which it has
planted in the crevices of stone, and extending, like the wall itself,
farther than you can guess.  The only living thing in the picture is a
single spent, shaggy dog, its paws rested for a moment on a sort of
hollow in the wall, and half its dripping body emergent from the dark
water.  It is staring up with a look of despondent exhaustion, yet mute
appeal.  The sketch powerfully recalls and typifies the exact position
in which poor Kenrick: now found himself placed--before him the hungry,
angry darkening sea, behind him the inaccessible bastions of forbidding
cliff.  It is a horrible predicament, and those can most thrillingly
appreciate it who, like the author, have been in it themselves.

There was yet one thing, and one thing only, to be tried, and it was
truly the refuge of desperation.  Kenrick was an excellent swimmer; many
a time in bathing at Saint Winifred's, even when he was a little boy, he
had struck out boldly far into the bay, even as far as the huge tumbling
red buoy, that spent its restless life in "ever climbing with the
climbing wave."  If he could swim for pleasure, could he not swim for
life?  It was true that the swim before him was, beyond all comparison,
farther and more hazardous than he had ever dreamt of.  But swimming is
an art which inspires extraordinary confidence; it makes us fancy that
drowning is impossible to us, because we cannot imagine ourselves so
fatigued as to fail in keeping above water.  Kenrick knew that the
attempt was only one to be undertaken at dire extremity; but that
extremity had now arrived, and it was literally the last chance that lay
between him and--what he would not think of yet.

So, in the wintry air, with the strong wind blowing keenly and the red
gleam of sunset already beginning to fail, he flung off his clothes on
the damp beach, and as one who rushes on a forlorn hope in the teeth of
an enemy, he ran down the rough uneven shore, hardly noticing how much
it hurt his feet, and plunged boldly into the hideous yeast of seething
waves.  The cold made him shiver and shiver in every limb; his teeth
chattered; he was afraid of cramp; the slimy seaweeds that his feet
touched, the tangled and rotting string of sea-twine that waved about
his legs, sent a strong shudder through him; and there was a sick clammy
feeling about the frothy spume through which he had to plunge.  But when
he had once ploughed his way through all this, and was fairly out of his
depth, the exercise warmed him, and he rose with a swimmer's triumphant
motion over the yielding waves.  On and on he swam, thinking only of
that, not looking before him; but when he began to feel quite tired, and
_did_ look, he saw that he was not nearly halfway to the headland.  He
saw, too, how the breakers were lashing and fighting with the iron shore
which he was madly striving to reach.  Even if he could swim so far--and
he now _felt_ that he could not--how could he ever land at such a spot?
Would not one of those billows toss him up in its playful spray, and
dash him as it dashed its own unpitied offspring, dead upon the rocks?
And as this conviction dawned on him, withering all his energy of heart,
the wind wailed over him, the water bubbled in his ears, and the
sea-mew, napping as it flew past him, uttered above his head its
plaintive scream.  His heart sank within him.  With a quick motion he
turned in the water, and with arms wearied-out he swam back again, as
for dear life, towards the little landing-place which alone divided him
from instant death; struggling on heavily, with limbs so weary that he
could barely move them through the waves, whose increasing swell often
broke around his head.  Already the tide had reached the spot where he
had let his straw hat drop on the beach; the sea was scornfully playing
with it, tossing it up and down, whirling it round and round like a
feather; the wind blew it to the sea, and the sea, receiving no gifts
from an enemy, flung it back again; but the wind carried the day, and
while Kenrick was wringing the brine out of his dripping hair, and
huddling his clothes again over his wet, benumbed, and aching limbs, he
saw the straw hat fairly launched, and floating away over the waves.

And then it was that, as the vision of sudden death glared out before
his eyes, and the horror of it leapt upon him, that a scream--a loud,
wild, echoing scream, which sounded strange in that lonely place, and
rose above the rude song that the wind was now singing,--broke from his
blanched lips.  And another, and another, and then silence; for Kenrick
was now crouching at the cliff's foot furthest off from the swelling
flood, with his eyes fixed motionless in a wild stare on its advancing
line of foam.  He was conjuring up before his imagination the time when
those waves should have reached him; should have swept him away from the
shelter of the shore, or risen above his lips; should have forced him
again to struggle and swim, until his strength, already impaired by
hunger, and thirst, and cold, and fatigue, should have failed him
altogether, and he would sink, and the water gurgle wildly in his ears,
and stop his breath--and all would be still.  And when he had pictured
this scene to himself with a vividness which made him experience all its
agony, for a time his mind flew back through all the faultful past up to
that very day; memory lighted her lantern, and threw its blaze on every
dark corner, on every hidden recess, every forgotten nook--left no spot
unsearched, unilluminated with sudden flash; all his past sins were
before him, words, looks, thoughts, everything.  As when a man descends
with a light in his diving-bell into the heaving sea, the strange
monsters of the deep, attracted by the unknown glimmer, throng and
wallow terribly around him, so did uncouth thoughts and forgotten sins
welter in fearful multitudes round this light of memory in the deep sea
of that poor human soul.  And finally, as though in demon voices, came
this message whispered to him, touted to him tauntingly, rising and
falling with maddening alternation on the rising and falling of the
wind--"You have been wasting your life, moodily abandoning yourself to
idle misery, neglecting your duties, letting your talents rust--_God
will take from you the life you know not how to use_."  And then, as
though in answer to this, another voice, low, soft, sweet, that his
heart knew well--another voice filling the interspaces of the others
with unseen music, whispered to him soothingly--"It shall be given you
again, use it better; awake, use it better, _it shall be given you
again_."

Those three wild shrieks of his had been heard; he did not know it, but
they had been heard.  The whole coast was in general so lonely that you
could usually pace it for miles without meeting a single human being,
and it never even occurred to him that some one might pass that way.
But it so happened that the boisterous weather of the last few days had
cast away a schooner at a place some five miles from Saint Winifred's,
and Walter Evson had walked with Charlie to see the wreck, and was
returning along the cliff.  As they passed the spot where Kenrick was,
they had been first startled and then horrified by those shrieks, and
while they stood listening another came to their ears, more piercing,
more heart-rending than the rest.

"Good heavens! there _must_ be some one down there!" exclaimed Walter.

"Why, how could any one have got there?" asked Charlie.

"Well, but didn't you hear some one scream?"

"Yes, several times.  O Walter, do look here!"  Charlie pointed to the
traces on the cliff showing that some one had descended there.

"Who could have wanted to get down _there_, I wonder; and for what
possible purpose?"

"Do you see any one, Walter?"

"No, I don't; there's nothing but the sea"--for Kenrick, crouching under
the cliff, was hidden from sight, and now the tide had come up so far
that, from the summit, none of the shingle was visible--"but what's
that?"

"Why, Walter, _it's a straw hat_; it must be one of our fellows down
there; I see the ribbon distinctly, dark blue and white, twisted
together."

"_Dark blue and white_! why, then, it must be some one in the football
eleven: Charlie, it must be Kenrick!  Heavens, what can have happened?"

"Kenrick!" they both shouted at the top of their voices.

But the cliff was high, and the wind, momently rising to a blast, swept
away their shouts, and although Kenrick might have heard them distinctly
under ordinary circumstances, they now only mingled with, and gave new
form and body to, the wild madness which terror was beginning to kindle
in his brain.  So they shouted, and no answer came.

"No answer comes, Charlie; but there's someone down there as sure as we
are here," said Walter.  Charlie had already begun to try and descend
the face of the cliff.  "Stop, stop, Charlie," said Walter, seizing him
and dragging him up again, "you mustn't try that--nay, Charlie, you
really _must not_.  If it's possible _I_ will."  He tried, but three
minutes showed him that, however practicable a descent might be, an
ascent afterwards would be wholly beyond his power.  Besides, if he did
descend, what could he do?  Clearly nothing; and with another plan in
view, he with difficulty reached his former position.

"Nothing to be done that way, Charlie."  At that moment another cry
came, for Kenrick, in a momentary lull of the wind, had fancied that he
had heard sounds and voices other than those of his perturbed and
agitated fancy.  "Ha! you heard that?" said Walter, and he shouted
again, but no sound was returned.

"We must fly to Saint Winifred's, Charlie; there's a boy down on the
shore beyond a doubt.  You stay behind, if you like, for you can't run
as fast as me.  I'm afraid, though, it's not the least good.  Saint
Winifred's is three miles from here, and long before I've got help and
come three miles back, it's clear that no one can be alive down there;
still we must try," and he was starting when Charlie seized his arm.

"Don't you remember, Walter, the hut at Bryce's cove?  There's an old
boat there, and it's a mile and a half nearer than Saint Win's."

"_Capital_ boy, Charlie," said Walter; "how good of you to think of it;
it's the very thing.  Come."

They flew along at full speed, Walter taking Charlie's hand, and saying,
"Never mind stretching your legs for once, even if you _are_ tired.  How
well you run! we shall be there in no time."

They gained the cove, flew down the steep narrow path, and reached the
hut door.  Their summons was answered only by the furious barking of a
dog.  No one was in.

"Never mind: there's the boat; we must take French leave;" and Walter,
springing down, hastily unmoored it.

"Wah! what a horrid old tub, and it wants baling, Walter."

"We can't stay for that, Charlie boy; it's a good thing that Semlyn Lake
has taught us both to row, isn't it?"

"O yes; don't you wish we had the little _Pearl_ here now, Walter?
Wouldn't we make it fly, instead of this cranky old wretch."

"Well, we must fancy that this is the _Pearl_ and this Semlyn Lake,"
said Walter, wading up to the knees to launch the boat, and springing in
when he had given it the final shove.

They were excellent rowers, but Charlie had never tried his skill in a
sea like that, and was timid, for which there was every excuse.

"How very rough it is, Walter," he said, as the boat tossed up and down
like an egg-shell on the high waves.

"Keep up your heart, Charlie, and row steadily; don't be afraid."

"No, Walter, I won't, as you're with me; but--Walter?"

"Well?"

"It'll be dark in half an hour."

"Not quite, and we shall be there by that time; we needn't go far out,
and the tide's with us."  So the two brave brothers rowed steadily on,
with only one more remark from Charlie, ushered in by the word--

"Walter?"

"Anything more to frighten me with, Charlie?" he answered cheerily; "you
shan't succeed."

"Well, Walter," he answered, with a little touch of shame, "I was only
going to say that, if you look, you'll see that your oar's been broken,
and is only spliced together."

"I've seen it all along, Charlie, and will use the oar gingerly; and
now, Charlie, I see you're a little frightened, my boy.  I'm going to
brace you up.  Rest on your oar a minute."

He did so.  "Now turn round and _look_."

He pointed with his finger to a dark figure, now distinctly seen,
cowering low at the white cliff's foot.

"O Walter, I'm ready; I won't say a word more;" and he leant to his oar,
and plied it like a man.

It is a pretty, a delightful thing, in idle summer-time to lie at full
length upon the beach on some ambrosial summer evening, when a glow
floats over the water, whose calm surface is tenderly rippled with gold
and blue.  And while the children play beside you, dabbling and paddling
in the wavelets, and digging up the ridges of yellow sand, which take
the print of their pattering footsteps, nothing is more pleasant than to
let the transparent stream of the quiet tide plash musically with its
light and motion to your very feet; nothing more pleasant than to listen
to its silken murmurs, and to watch it flow upwards with its beneficent
coolness, and take possession of the shore.  But it is a very different
thing when there rises behind you a wall of frowning cliff, precipitous,
inaccessible, affording no hope of refuge; and when, for the golden calm
of summer eventide, you have the cheerless drawing-in of a loud and
stormy February night; and when you have the furious hissing violence of
rock-and-wind-struck breakers for the violet-coloured margin of rippling
waves--knowing that the wind is wailing forth your requiem, and that,
with the fall of every breaker, unseen hands are ringing your knell of
death.

The boy crouched there, his face white as the cliffs above him, his
undried limbs almost powerless for cold, and his clothes wetted through
and through with spray--pushing aside every moment the dripping locks of
hair which the wind scattered over his forehead, that he might look with
hollow, staring eyes on the Death which was advancing towards him,
wrapping him already in its huge mantle-folds, calling aloud to him,
beckoning him, freezing him to the very bone with the touch of its icy
hands.

And the brutal tide coming on, according to the pitiless irreversible
certainty of the fixed laws that governed it--coming on like a huge
wallowing monster, dumb and blind--knew not, and recked not, of the
young life that quivered on the verge of its advance--that it was about
to devour remorselessly, with no wrath to satiate, with no hunger to
appease.  None the less for the boy's presence, unregardful of his
growing horror and wild suspense, it continued its uncouth play--leaping
about the rocks, springing upwards and stretching high hands to pluck
down the cliffs, seeming to laugh as it fell back shattered and
exhausted, but unsubdued; charging up sometimes like a herd of white
horses, bounding one over the other, shaking their foaming manes--
hissing sometimes like a brood of huge sea-serpents, as it insinuated it
winding streams among the boulders of the shore.

It might have seemed to be in sport with _him_ as it ran first up to his
feet, and playfully splashed him, as a bather might splash a person on
the shore from head to heel, and then ran back again for a moment, and
then up again a little farther, till, as he sat on the extreme line of
the shore and with his back huddled up close against the cliff, it first
wetted the soles of his feet, and then was over his shoes, then
ankle-deep, then knee deep, then to the waist.  Already it seemed to
buoy him up; he knew that in a few moments more he would be forced to
swim, and the last struggle would commence.

His brain was dull, his senses blunted, his mind half-idiotic, when
first (for his eyes had been fixed downwards on the growing, encroaching
waters) he caught a glimpse, in the failing daylight, of the black
outline of a boat, not twenty yards from him, and caught the sound of
its plashing oars.  He stared eagerly at it, and just as it came beside
him he lost all his strength, uttered a faint cry, and slipped down
fainting into the waves.



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

ON THE DARK SEA.

  Boys
  Leaning upon their oars, with splash and strain,
  Made white with foam the green and purple sea.

  Shelley.

In a moment Walter's strong arms had caught him, and lifted him tenderly
into the boat.  While the waves tossed them up and down they placed him
at full length as comfortably as they could,--which was not very
comfortably--and though his clothes were streaming with salt water, and
his fainting fit still continued, they began at once to row home.  For,
by this time, it was dim twilight; the wind was blowing great guns, the
clouds were full of dark wrath, and the stormy billows rose higher and
higher.  There was no time to spare, and it would be as much as they
could do to provide for their own safety.  The tide was already bumping
them against the cliff at the place where, just in time, they had
rescued Kenrick, and, in order to get themselves fairly off, Walter,
forgetting for a moment, pushed out his oar and pressed against the
cliff.  The damaged oar was weak enough already, and instantly Walter
saw that his vigorous shove had weakened and displaced the old splicing
of the blade.  Charlie too observed it, but neither of them spoke a
word; on the contrary, the little boy was at his place, oar in rowlock,
and immediately smote lightly and in good time the surface of the water,
splashed it into white foam, and pulled with gallant strokes.

They made but little way; the waves pitched them so high and dropped
them with such a heavy fall between their rolling troughs, that rowing
became almost impossible, and the miserable old boat shipped quantities
of water.  At last, after a stronger pull than usual, Walter's oar
creaked, snapped, and gave way, flinging him on his back.  The loosened
twine with which it had been spliced was half rotten with age; it broke
in several places, the oar blade fell off and floated away, and Walter
was left holding in both hands a broken and futile stump.

"My God, it is all over with us!" was the wild cry that the sudden and
awful misfortune wrung from his lips; while Charlie, shipping his now
useless oar, clung round his brother's neck and cried aloud.  The three
boys--one of them faint, exhausted, and speechless--were in an unsafe
and oarless boat on the open tempestuous sea, weltering hopelessly at
the cruel mercy of winds and waves; a current was sweeping them they
knew not whither, and the wind, howling like a hurricane, was driving
them farther and farther away from land.

"O Walter, I can't die, I can't die yet; and not out on this black sea,
away from every one."

"From every one but God, Charlie; and I am with you.  Cheer up, little
brother, God will not desert us."

"O Walter, pray to God for you and me and Kenrick | pray to Him for
life."

"We will both pray, Charlie;" and folding his arms round him, for now
that the rowing was over and there was nothing left to do, the little
boy was frightened at the increasing gloom, Walter, calm even at that
wild moment, with the calm of a clear conscience and a noble heart,
poured forth his soul in words of supplication, while Charlie, his voice
half stifled with tears, sobbed out a terrified response and echo to his
prayer.

And after the prayer Walter's heart was lightened and his spirit
strengthened, till he felt ready in himself to meet anything and brave
any fate; but his soul ached with pity for his little brother and for
his friend.  It was his duty to cheer them both and do what could be
done.  Kenrick had so far recovered as to move and say a few words, and
the brothers were by his side in a moment.

"You have saved my life, Walter, when I had given it up; saved it, I
hope, to some purpose this time," he whispered, unconscious as yet of
his position; and he dragged up his feet out of the pool of water in
which they were lying at the bottom of the boat.  But gradually the
situation dawned upon him.  "How is it you're not rowing?" he asked;
"are you tired? let _me_ try, I think I could manage."

"It would be of no use, Ken," said Walter; "I mean that we can't row,"
and he pointed to the broken oar.

"Then you have saved me at the risk, perhaps at the cost, of your own
lives.  O you noble, noble Walter!" said Kenrick, the tears gushing from
his eyes.  "How awfully terrible this is!  I seem to be snatched from
death to death.  Life and death are battling for me to-night; yes,
eternal life and death too," he whispered in Walter's ear, catching him
by the wrist.  "All this danger is for me, Walter, and for my sin.  I am
like Jonah in the ship; I have been buffeting death away for hours, but
he has been sent for me, he must do his mission.  I see that _I_ cannot
escape, but, O God, I hope that _you_ will escape, Walter.  Your life
and Charlie's must not be spilt for mine."

It was barely light enough to see his face, but it looked wild and
haggard in the ragged gleams of moonlight which the black flitting
clouds suffered to break forth at intervals; and his words, after this,
were too incoherent to understand.  Walter saw that the long intensity
of fear had rendered him half delirious and not master of himself.  Soon
after he sank into a stupor, half sleep, half exhaustion, and even the
lurching of the boat did not rouse him any more.

"Walter, he's asleep, or--oh! is he dead, Walter?" asked Charlie, in
horror.

"No, no, Charlie; there, put your hand upon his heart.  You see it
beats; he is only exhausted, and in a sort of swoon."

"But he will be pitched over, Walter."

"Then I'll show you what we'll do, Charlie.  We must make the best of
everything."  Walter lifted up the useless rudder, pulled out the string
of it to lash Kenrick safely to the stern bench by which he lay, and
took off his own coat in order to cover him up that he might sleep; and
then, anxious above all things to relieve Charlie's terror, the
unselfish boy, thinking only of others, sat beside him on the centre
bench, and encircled him with a protecting arm.  And, as though to
increase their misery, the cold rain began to fall in torrents.

"O Walter, it's so cold, and wet, and stormy, and pitch dark.  I'm
frightened, Walter.  I try not to be, but I can't help it.  Take me on
your knees and pray for us again."

Walter took him on his knees, and laid his head against his own breast,
and folded him in his arms, and wiped his tears; and the little boy's
sobs ceased as Walter's voice rose once more in a strain of intense
prayer.

"Walter, God _must_ grant that prayer; I'm sure He must; He can't reject
it," said Charlie simply.

"He will answer it in the way best for us, Charlie; whatever that is."

"But shall we die?" asked his brother again, with a cold shudder at the
word.

"Remember what you said just now, Charlie, and be brave.  But even if we
were to die, could we die better, little brother, than in doing our
duty, and trying to save dear Ken's life?  It isn't such a terrible
thing, Charlie, after all.  We must all die some time, you know, and
boys have died as young and younger than you or me."

"Ay, but not like this, Walter: out in these icy, black, horrid waters."

"Yes, they have indeed, Charlie; little friendless sailor-boys dashed on
far-away rocks that splintered their ships to atoms, or swallowed up
when their vessel foundered in great typhoons, thousands of miles away
from home and England, in unknown seas; little boys like you, Charlie;
and they have died bravely, too, though no living soul was near them to
hear their cries, and nothing to mark their graves but the bubble for
one minute while they sank."

"Have they, Walter?"

"Ay, many and many a time they have; and the same God Who called for
their lives gave them courage and strength to die, as He will give us if
there is need."

There was a pause, and then Charlie said, "Talk to me, Walter; it
prevents my listening to the flapping and plunging of the boat, and all
the other noises.  Walter, I think...  I think we shall die."

"Courage, brother, I have hope yet; and if we die we will die like this
together--I will not let you go.  Our bodies shall be washed ashore
together--not separated, Charlie, even in death."

"You have been a dear, dear good brother to me.  How I love you,
Walter!" and as he pressed yet closer to him, he said more bravely,
"What hope have you then, Walter?"

"Look up, Charlie; you see that light?"

"Yes; what is it?"

"Sharksfin Lighthouse; don't you remember seeing it sometimes at night
from Saint Win's?  Yes; and those lights twinkling far-off are Saint
Win's.  Those must be the school lights; and those long windows you can
just see are the chapel windows.  They are in chapel now, or the lights
wouldn't be there.  Perhaps some of our friends--Power, perhaps, and
Eden--are praying for us; they must have missed us since tea-time."

"How I wish we were with them!"

"Perhaps we may be again; and all the wiser and better in heart and life
for this solemn time, Charlie.  If we are but carried by this wind and
current within hearing of the lighthouse!"

The Sharksfin Lighthouse is built on a sharp high rock two miles out at
sea.  I have watched it from Bleak Point on a bright, warm summer's day,
when the promontory around me was all ablaze with purple heather and
golden gorse, and there was not breeze enough to shake the wing of the
butterfly as it rested on the blue-bell, or disturb the honey-laden bee
as it murmured in the thyme.  Yet even then the waters were seething and
boiling in never-ended tumult about those hideous sunken rocks; and the
ocean all around was hoary as with the neesings of a thousand leviathans
floundering in its monstrous depths.  You may guess what they are on a
wild February night--how, in the mighty rush of the Atlantic, the torn
breakers beat about them with tremendous rage, till the whole sea is in
angry motion like some demon caldron that seethes over roaring flame.

Drifting along, or rather flung and battered about on the current, they
passed within near sight of the lighthouse, and they might have thanked
God that they passed no nearer, for to have passed nearer would have
been certain death.  The white waves dashed over it, enveloped its tall
strong pillar that buffeted them back, like a noble will in the midst of
calumny and persecution; _they_ fell back hissing and discomfited, and
could not dim its silver or quench its flame but _it_ glowed on with
steady lustre in the midst of them--flung its victorious path of
splendour over their raging motion, warned from the sunken reef the
weary mariner, and looked forth untroubled with its broad, calm eye into
the madness and fury of the tempest-haunted night.

Through this broad track of light the boat was driven, and Walter
shouted at the top of his voice with all his remaining strength.  The
three men in the lighthouse fancied indeed, as they acknowledged
afterwards, that they had heard some shouts; but strange, mysterious,
inarticulate voices are often borne upon the wind, and haunt always the
lonely wastes of foamy sea.  The lighthouse men had often heard these
unexplained wailings and weird screams.  Many a time they had looked
out, and been so continually deceived, that unless human accents were
unmistakable and well-defined, they attribute these sounds to other
agencies, or to the secret phenomena of the worst storms.  And even if
they _had_ heard, what could they have done, or how have launched their
boat when the billows were running mountain-high about their perilous
rock?

Charlie had been quiet for a long time, his face hidden on Walter's
shoulder; but he had seen the glare which the light threw across the
waves, and had observed that they had gradually been driven through it
into the blackness again, and he asked, "Have we passed the lighthouse,
Walter?"

"We have."

"Oh, I am so hungry and burning with thirst!  Oh! what shall we do?"

"Try not to think about it, Charlie; a little fasting won't hurt us
much."

Another long pause, during which they clung more closely to each other,
and their hearts beat side by side, and then Charlie said, in a barely
articulate whisper--

"Walter!"

"I know what you are going to say, Charlie."

"The water in the boat is nearly up to my knees."

"We have shipped a great deal, you know."

"Yes; and besides that--"

"Yes, it is true; there is a leak.  Do you mind my putting you down and
trying what I can do to bail the water out?"

"O Walter, don't put me off your knee--don't let go of me."

"Very well, Charlie; it wouldn't be of much use."

"Good God!" cried the little boy in a paroxysm of agony, "we are
sinking--we are foundering!"

They wound their arms round each other, and Walter said, "It is even so,
my darling brother.  Death is near, but God is with us; and if it is
death, then death means rest and heaven.  Good-bye, Charlie, good-bye;
we will be close together till the end."



CHAPTER FORTY.

WHAT THE SEA GAVE UP.

  The sands and yeasty surges mix
  At midnight in a dreary bay;--
  And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
  And o'er thy bones the scrawl shall play.

  Tennyson.

Anxiety reigned at Saint Winifred's, succeeded by consternation and
intense grief.  Little was thought of the absence of the three boys at
tea-time, but when it came to chapel-time and bed-time, and they had not
yet appeared, and when next morning it was found that they had not been
heard of during the night, everyone became seriously alarmed, and all
the neighbouring country was searched for intelligence.

The place on the cliff where Kenrick had descended was observed, but as
the traces showed that only _one_ boy had gone down there, the
discovery, so far from explaining matters, only rendered them more
inexplicable.  Additional light was thrown on the subject by the
disappearance of Bryce's boat, and the worst fears seemed to be
confirmed by his information that it was a ricketty old concern, only
intended to paddle in smooth weather close to the shore.  But what
earthly reason could have induced three boys to venture out in such a
tub on so wild a night?  That they did it for pleasure was
inconceivable, the more so as rowing was strictly forbidden; and as no
other reason could be suggested, all conjecture was at fault.

The fishermen went out in their smacks, but found no traces, and gained
no tidings of the missing boys; and all through that weary and anxious
day the belief that they had been lost at sea gained ground.  Almost all
day Power, and Eden, and Henderson, had been gazing out to sea, or
wandering on the shore, in the vain hope of seeing them come rowing
across the bay; but all the sailors on the shore affirmed that if they
_had_ gone out in an open boat, and particularly in Bryce's boat, it was
an utter impossibility that they could have outlived the tempest of the
preceding night.

At last, towards the evening, the sea gave up, not indeed her dead, but
what was accepted as a positive proof of their wretched fate.
Henderson, who was in a fever of excitement, which Power vainly strove
to allay, was walking with him and Eden, who was hardly less troubled,
along the beach, when he caught sight of something floating along,
rising and falling on the dumb sullen swell of the advancing tide.  He
thought and declared at first, with a start of horror, that it was the
light hair of a drowned boy; but they very soon saw that it could not be
that, and dashing in waist-deep after it, Henderson brought out _the
torn and battered fragments of a straw hat_.  The ribbon, of dark blue
and white, though soaked and discoloured, still served to identify it as
having belonged to a Saint Winifred's boy; and, carefully examining the
flannel lining, they saw on a piece of linen sewn upon it--only too
legible still--the name "H. Kenrick."  Nor was this all they found.  The
discovery had quickened their search, and soon afterwards Power, with a
sudden suppressed cry, pointed to something black, lying, with a
dreadful look about it, at a far part of the sand.  Again their hearts
grew cold, and running up to it they all recognised, with fresh horror
and despair, _the coat which Walter had last worn_.  They recognised it,
but besides this, to place the matter beyond a doubt, his name was
marked on the inside of the sleeve.  In one of the pockets was his
school notebook, with all the notes he had taken, and the playful
caricatures which here and there he had scribbled over the pages; and in
the other, stained with the salt water, and tearing at every touch, were
the letters he had last received.

All the next day the doubt was growing into certainty.  Mr and Mrs
Evson were summoned from Semlyn, and came with feelings that cannot be
depicted.  Power gave to Mrs Evson the coat he had picked up, and he
and Henderson hardly ever left the parents of their friend, doing all
they could to cheer their spirits and support in them the hopes they
could hardly feel themselves.  To this day Mrs Evson cherishes that
coat as a dear and sacred relic, which reminds her of the mercy which
sustained her during the first great agony which she had endured in her
happy life.  Power kept poor Kenrick's hat, for no relation of his was
there to claim it.

Another day dawned, and settled grief and gloom fell on all alike at
Saint Winifred's--the boys, the masters, the inhabitants.  The sight of
Mr and Mrs Evson's speechless anguish impressed all hearts, and by
this time hope seemed quenched for ever.  For now one boy only,--though
young hearts are slow to give up hope--had refused to believe the worst.
It was Eden.  He _persisted_ that the three boys must have been picked
up.  The belief had come upon him suddenly, and grown upon him he knew
not how, but he was _sure_ of it; and therefore his society brought most
relief and comfort to the torn heart of the mother.  "What made him so
confident?" she asked.  He did not know; he had seen it, or dreamt it,
or _felt_ it somehow, only he felt unalterably convinced that so it was.
"They will come back, dear Mrs Evson, they will come back, you will
see," was his repeated asseveration; and oppressed as her heart was with
doubt and fear, she was never weary of those words.

And on the fourth day, while Mr Evson was absent, having gone to make
enquiries in London of all the ships which had passed by Saint
Winifred's on that day, Eden, radiant with joy, rushed into Dr Lane's
drawing-room, where Mrs Evson was sitting, and utterly regardless of
_les convenances_, burst out with the exclamation, "O Mrs Evson, it is
true, it is true what I always told you.  Didn't I say that I knew it?
They _have_ been picked up."

"Hush, my boy; steady," whispered Mrs Lane; "you should have delivered
the message less suddenly.  The revulsion of feeling from sorrow to joy
will be too much for her."

"O Eden, tell me," said the mother faintly, recalling her senses
bewildered by the shock of intelligence; "are you certain?  Oh, where
are my boys?"

"You will see them soon," he said very gently; and the next moment, to
confirm his words, the door again new open, and Charlie Evson was
wrapped in his mother's arms, and strained to her heart, and covered
with her kisses, and his bright young face bathed in her tears of
gratitude and joy.

"Charlie, darling Charlie, where is Walter?" were her first words.

"What, don't you know me then, mother; and have you no kiss to spare for
me?" said the playful voice of a boy enveloped in a sailor's blue
shell-jacket; and then it was Walter's turn to feel in that long embrace
what is the agonising fondness of a mother's love.

Kenrick was looking on a little sadly--not envious, but made sorrowful
by memory.  But the next moment Walter, taking him by the hand, had
introduced him to his mother and she kissed him too on the cheek.  "Your
name is so familiar to me, Kenrick," she said; "and you have shared
their dangers."

"Walter has twice saved my life, Mrs Evson," he answered, "and this
time, I trust, he has saved it in more senses than one."

The boys' story was soon told.  Just as their boat was beginning to
sink, and the bitterness of death seemed over, Walter caught sight of
the lights of a ship, and saw her huge dark outline looming not far from
them, and towering above the waves.  Instantly he and Charlie had
shouted with all the frantic energy of reviving hope.  By God's mercy
their shouts had been heard; in spite of the risk and difficulty caused
by the turbulence of the night, the ship hove to, the long-boat was
manned, and the amazed sailors had rescued them not ten minutes before
their wretched boat swirled round and sank to the bottom.

Nothing could exceed the care and tenderness with which the sailors and
the good captain of the _Morning Star_ had treated them.  The genial
warmth of the captain's cabin, the food and wine of which they stood so
much in need, the rest and quiet, and a long, long sleep, continued for
nearly twenty-four hours, had recruited their failing strength, and
restored them to perfect health.  Past Saint Winifred's Bay extends for
miles and miles a long range of iron-bound coast, and this circumstance,
together with the violence of the breeze blowing away from land, had
prevented the captain from having any opportunity of putting them ashore
until the morning of this day, when, with kind-hearted liberality, he
had also supplied them with the money requisite to pay their way to
Saint Winifred's.

"You can't think how jolly it was on board, mother," said Charlie.
"I've learnt all about ships, and it was such fun; and they were all as
kind to us as possible."

"You mustn't suppose we didn't think of you, mother dearest," said
Walter, "and how anxious you would be; but we felt sure you would
believe that some ship had picked us up."

"Yes, Walter; and to taste this joy is worth any past sorrow," said his
mother.  "You must thank your friend Eden for mainly keeping up my
spirits, for he was almost the only person who maintained that you were
still alive."

"And now, Mrs Evson," said Power, "you must spar them for ten minutes,
for the masters and all the school are impatient to see and congratulate
them."

The whole story had spread among the boys in ten minutes, and they were
again proud to recognise Walter's chivalrous daring.  When he appeared
in the blue jacket with which Captain Peters had replaced the loss of
his coat, with Kenrick's arm in his, and holding Charlie's hand, cheer
after cheer broke from the assembled boys; and finally, unable to
repress their joy and enthusiasm, they lifted the three on their
shoulders and chaired them all round the court.

You may suppose that it was a joyful dinner party that evening at Dr
Lane's.  Mr Evson, as they had conjectured, had heard of his son's
safety in London from the captain of the _Morning Star_, to whom he had
tendered his warmest and most grateful thanks, and to whom, before
leaving London, he had presented, in testimony of his gratitude, an
exquisite chronometer.  Returning to Saint Winifred's he found his two
boys seated happily in the drawing-room awaiting him, each with their
mother's hand in theirs, and in the company of their best boy-friends.
Walter was still in the blue shell-jacket, which became him well, and
which neither Mrs Lane nor the boys would suffer him to change.  It was
indeed an evening never to be forgotten, and hardly less joyous and
memorable was the grand breakfast which the Sixth gave to Walter and
Kenrick in memory of the event, and to which, by special exception,
little Charlie was also invited.

Rejoicings are good, but they were saved for greater and better things.
These three young boys had stood face to face with sudden death.  Death,
as it were, had laid his hand on their shoulders, had taken them by the
hair and looked upon them, and bade them commune with themselves; and,
when he released them from that stern cold grasp, it gave to their lives
an awful reality.  It did not quench, indeed, their natural
mirthfulness, but it filled them with strong purposes and high thoughts.
Kenrick returned to Saint Winifred's a changed boy; long-continued
terror had quite altered the expression of his countenance, but, while
this effect soon wore off, the _moral_ effects produced in him were
happily permanent.  He began a life in earnest; for him there was no
more listlessness, or moody fits of sorrow, or bursts of wayward
self-indulgence.  He became strenuous, diligent, modest, earnest, kind;
he too, like Walter and Charlie, began his career "_from strength to
strength_."  Under him, and Power, and Walter, and others, whom their
influence had formed or who had been moulded by the tradition they had
left behind them, Saint Winifred's flourished more and more, and added
new honours and benefits to its old and famous name.  At the end of that
half-year Power left, but not until he had won the Balliol Scholarship
and carried off nearly all the prizes in the school.  Walter succeeded
him as head of the school; and he and Kenrick (who was restored to his
old place on the list) worked heart and soul together for the good of
it.  In those days it was indeed in a happy and prosperous state--
renowned and honoured without, well governed and high toned within.  Dr
Lane felt and acknowledged that much of this success was due to the
example and to the vigour of these head boys.  Power, when he left, was
beloved and distinguished; Walter and Kenrick trod in his steps.  To the
boundless delight of the school they too carried off in one year the
highest open scholarship at each University; and when they also left,
they had been as successful as Power, and were, if possible, even more
universally beloved.  Whalley carried on for another year the high
tradition, and, in due time, little Charlie also attained the head place
in the school, and so behaved as to identify his name and Walter's with
some of its happiest and wisest institutions for many years.



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

L'ENVOI.

  Is not to-day enough? why do I peer
  Into the darkness of the day to come?
  Is not to-morrow e'en as yesterday?

  Relics of Shelley.

May I not leave them here?  Where could I leave them better than on this
marble threshold of a promising boyhood; still happy and noble in the
freshness of their feelings, the brightness of their hopes, the
enthusiasm of their thoughts?  Need I say a word of after-life, with the
fading of its earlier visions, and the coldness and hardness of its
ways?  I should like to linger with them here; to shake hands here in
farewell, and leave them as the boys I knew.  They are living still, and
are happy and highly honoured in the world.  In their case "the boy has
been father to the man;" and the reader who has understood and
sympathised with them in their early life will not ask me to draw aside
the curtain, even for a moment, to show them as they appeared when a few
more summers had seen them grow to the full stature of their manhood.

I said that they were living still; but it is not so with all of them.

Charlie Evson alone, of the little band who have been amongst the number
of our friends at Saint Winifred's--alone, though the youngest of them
all--is now dead.  He died a violent death.  Filled with a missionary
spirit, and desirous, like Edward Irving, of "something more high and
heroical in religion than this age affecteth," he joined a mission to
one of the great groups of Pacific Islands.  And there, many a time, in
the evening, after a day spent in teaching the natives how to plant
their fields and build their houses, he would gather them round him in
the twilight, and, while the cool wind wandered over his hair and brow,
and shook overhead the graceful plumes of the cocoa-palm, he would talk
to them in low sweet tones, until the fireflies were twinkling in the
thicket and the stars stole out one after another in their silent
myriads, of One Who came from the highest Heaven to redeem them from
savagery and degradation, and to make them holy as He was holy, and pure
as He was pure.  He was eminently successful; but when he had planted in
some islands the first seeds of a fruitful Christianity, he sailed to
other reefs, still carrying the everlasting gospel in his hands.  One
evening as the little missionary ship, which Charlie himself had built,
drew near the land, they saw that the natives were drawn up in a
threatening attitude on the beach.  Trusting to conciliate them by
kindness and by presents, the young missionary, taking with him a few
glittering trifles to attract their notice, proceeded with a small band
of followers towards the shore.  At first the natives seemed inclined to
receive them well, but suddenly, by the wild impulse to which barbarians
are so liable, one of the savages pierced a sailor with his spear.
Evson, by an effort of strength, wrenched the weapon out of his hand and
told his men to take up the wounded sailor and retreat.  This they
effected in safety, for the islanders were struck and awed by the young
Englishman's high bearing and firm attitude; and his eye fixed quietly
upon them kept them back.  He was himself the last to step into the
boat, and, as he turned to do so, one of the wretches struck him on the
head with his accursed club.  He fell stunned and bleeding upon the
beach, and in an instant was dispatched by the spears and clubs of a
hundred savages, while the boat's crew barely escaped with their lives,
and the little mission vessel, spreading all her sails, could with
difficulty elude the pursuit of the canoes, which swarmed out of the
creeks to give her chase.  The corpse lay bleeding upon a nameless
strand, and the soft fair hair that a mother's hand had fondled and a
mother's lips had kissed, dangled as a trophy at the girdle of a
cannibal.  Thus it was that Charlie died; and a marble tablet in Semlyn
Church, ornamented with the most delicate and exquisite sculpture,
records his tragic fate, and stands as a monument of his parents' tender
love.  As a boy he had shown a martyr's dauntless spirit; as a man he
was suffered to win the rare and high glory of a martyr's crown.

Of Walter, and Henderson, and Sir Reginald Power--for Power has
succeeded only too early to his father's title and estates--I need say
no more.  Their days from youth to maturity were linked together by a
natural progress in all things charitable, and great, and good.  They
did not belie their early promise.  The breeze of a happy life bore them
gently onward, and they cast no anchor in its widening stream.  They
were brave and manly and honourable boys, and they grew up into
high-minded and honourable men.

I do not wish you to suppose that they had not their own bitter trials
to suffer, or that they were exempt in any degree from our common
sorrows.  In that turbulent and restless period of life when the
passions are strong and the heart wild and wilful and full of pride,
while, at the same time, the judgment is often weak and the thoughts are
immature and crude, they had (as we all have) to purchase wholesome
experience at the price of suffering; to remember with shame some
follies, and mourn over some mistakes.  In saying this, I only say that
they were not faultless; which of us is?  But, at the same time, I may
fairly say that we do not often meet with nobler or manlier boys and
youths than these; that the errors which they committed they humbly
endeavoured by patience and carefulness to amend; that they used their
talents well and wisely, striving to live in love and charity with all
around them; that above all they kept the fear of God before their eyes
and never lost the freshness and geniality of early years, but kept "The
young lamb's heart amid the fall grown flocks;"--kept the heart of
boyhood taken up and purified in the powers of manhood.  And this is the
reason why the eye that sees them loves them, and the tongue that speaks
of them blesses them.  And when the end comes to them which comes to
all; when--as though a child should trample out the sparks from a piece
of paper--death comes upon them and tramples out for ever their joys and
sorrows, their hopes and fears--then, sure I am, that those who mourn
for them, that those who cherish their memory and regret their loss,
will neither be insincere nor few, and that they themselves will meet
calmly and gladly that Great Shadow, waiting and looking with sure
though humble hope to a better and less transient life; to a sinless and
unstained world; to the meeting with long lost friends; to the rest
which remaineth for the People of God.

And here, gentle reader, let us bid them all farewell.

THE END.





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