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´╗┐Title: That Scholarship Boy
Author: Leslie, Emma
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 "That Scholarship Boy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



       [Illustration: HE PICKED UP HORACE AND CARRIED HIM DOWN.
       [_Page 106._]



                                 THAT

                           SCHOLARSHIP BOY



                                  By

                             EMMA LESLIE

  _Author of 'Arthur Ranyard's Training,' 'Dearer than Life,' etc._



                           THIRD IMPRESSION



                                LONDON

                     THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY

         4 Bouverie Street and 65 St. Paul's Churchyard E.C.

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS.


                                  PAGE

CHAPTER I

BROTHER AND SISTER                 5

CHAPTER II

SENDING HIM TO COVENTRY            8

CHAPTER III

THE COCK OF THE WALK              32

CHAPTER IV

DR. MORRISON                      46

CHAPTER V

THE CHAMPION                      59

CHAPTER VI

FOR THE HONOUR OF THE SCHOOL      74

CHAPTER VII

NEWS FOR MRS. MORRISON            89

CHAPTER VIII

RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION            109

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER I.

BROTHER AND SISTER.


'I say, we've got a new boy at Torrington's. Haven't had one for ages
and ages, so it's made quite a stir among us.'

'You can make stir enough when you are coming out of school,' said his
sister, lifting her eyes from her lessons and looking across the
table.

'Who is the new boy?' she asked.

'Nobody knows--that's the fun,' said Leonard, with a short whistle.

'Don't you even know his name?'

'That's just like a girl, Duffy; you're worse than usual,' said her
brother, setting his elbows on the table, and nibbling the end of the
pen-holder in a meditative fashion. 'Of course he was properly
introduced to the class as Mr. Horace Howard.'

'Howard is a nice name,' commented Duffy, whose real name was
Florence. 'It was Aunt Lucy's name before she was married, you know.'

No, I don't know. I may have heard it, but the name's nothing. I
don't suppose his father was hanged!' said her brother.

'Perhaps he is some distant relative of the Duke of Norfolk? though
auntie says she has nothing to do with those Howards.'

A mocking laugh greeted this suggestion. 'Go on, Duffy, let us have
some more of your wisdom.'

'I don't see what there is to laugh at, Len, and I am sure I don't
want to hear about the new boy,' said his sister indignantly, and she
turned to her lessons once more.

This brought a fusillade of paper pellets from the student sitting
opposite. She bore it patiently for a minute or two, and then angrily
demanded why he did not get on with his lessons and let her do the
same, and threatened to ring the bell.

'Don't be a bigger duffer than you are, Flo. You can't help being a
girl, I know; but I'm willing to help you all I can out of a girl's
foolishness. Only a girl would talk of ringing the bell, and making a
row, because she can't have all her own way. Come now, I want to talk
to you about the new boy, and we can finish the lesson afterwards.'

'But you say you don't know anything about him, and so there's nothing
to talk about,' said his sister.

'Yes, that's just it. Why shouldn't the fellow tell us who his people
are, where he comes from, and what he's going to do with himself
by-and-by?'

It was his sister's turn to laugh now. 'What queer notions boys have!'
she exclaimed. 'I suppose you expect a new scholar to come and say,
"My father is a doctor, or a lawyer, and we have three servants at our
house," as soon as the master has introduced him to the class.'

A ball of paper was levelled at Duffy's head for this remark. 'Who
said he was to do it the first day or the second day? But when a
fellow has been there nearly a fortnight you expect to hear something
about who he is.'

'But suppose he don't choose to tell you, what then?'

'Yes, that's it. How are we going to make him? What would you do,
Duffy? That's what I want to know.'

'Oh, I'm only a girl,' said Duffy with a laugh. 'I can't be expected
to understand boys' affairs like that.'

'Yes, you do--that's just what girls do understand. We can't have a
good stand up fight, which is the way we generally settle things.'

'Why not? If the new boy won't do as the rest tell him, then fight it
out, if he won't give in!'

Leonard heaved a sigh of despair. 'There never was anything half so
stupid as a girl!' he exclaimed. 'Do you think if it was anything we
could settle off-hand like that I should ask you about it?'

'Well, tell me what it is, and I'll help you if I can. What is the new
boy like?' she asked.

'Oh, like most other fellows, I suppose, or at least he was the first
day, I know, for I took particular notice as he came into the class;
but the last day or two he has come in a jacket that ought to have
gone to the rag-bag three months ago, and----'

'But his jacket can't hurt you,' interrupted his sister, 'you don't
have to wear it.'

'You stupid duffer! don't he go to Torrington's, I tell you, and
haven't we got to stand up for the honour of the school?'

'Who--the boys or the head master?' asked Duffy innocently.

'Why, all of us, to be sure, and we mean to do it too. Why,
Torrington's is as good as Eton.'

'Oh yes, of course it's a good school,' admitted Duffy.

'Yes, and we mean to keep it so; we don't mean to have any cads among
us.'

'Is the new boy a cad, then?' asked his sister.

'He can't be anything else, if the story Bob Taylor has heard is true.
He brought it to school yesterday, and says he knows it is a fact
That the new fellow is a scholarship boy from one of those low board
schools in Middleton, and that he walks back to the town every day.'

'What is a scholarship boy?' asked Duffy.

'Why, a poor beggar who can't afford to pay his own schooling, and so
the County Council pay it for him.'

'What a shame!' exclaimed the young lady indignantly. 'Mamma was
saying only yesterday how much our schooling cost. Why don't the
County Council pay for us, especially as father has something to do
with it?'

Leonard shook his head. He either did not know or did not choose to
tell his sister the conditions upon which County Scholarships were
granted. He merely remarked, 'You're a dreadful duffer about some
things, Flo. But you could tell us what girls would do if their school
was going to be dragged down.'

But Florence shook her head. 'I don't know what we should do,' she
said, 'because I am not one of the elder girls, and we juniors don't
count for much; but if the girl weren't nice I should not speak to her
or help her with her lessons or anything.'

'Oh, the beggar don't want any help with _his_ lessons. He has climbed
to the top of the class, and hooked Taylor out of his place already.
And old Mason actually had the cheek to tell us to-day that we should
have to pay a good deal more attention to our home work, or else
Howard would carry off all the prizes by-and-by. I should like to see
him do it,' he added.

'No, you wouldn't; and so you had better get on with your lessons
now,' said the young lady practically.

'No, no! let's settle this first. You haven't told me what a girl's
way would be with a fellow like this Howard.'

'Why, if he isn't nice, don't speak to him. Of course you can't help
it if he does his lessons better than you do, or you must work at them
a little more carefully, I suppose, if you mean to get ahead of him in
the class and take some of the prizes!'

'Oh, prizes be bothered!' exclaimed Leonard crossly, for his sister's
advice had not pleased him at all. 'I tell you we want to get rid of
the fellow if we can. Taylor says the head master ought to have
refused to take a scholarship boy.'

'Perhaps father could interfere,' said Florence. 'He has a good deal
to do with the Council.'

'If you breathe a word of what I've said to father, I'll never speak
to you again!' said her brother vehemently. 'The idea of such a thing!
Tell father, indeed! What would the other fellows say, do you think?
No, no, we can fight our own battle, and defend the honour of the
school in our own way. A nice hash you would make of everything. You
are a worse duffer than I thought, though I don't think you are a
tell-tale.'

'Of course I shall not tell father what we have been talking about, if
that is what you mean,' said Duffy, a little indignantly. The tears
were shining in her eyes, for she was very fond of her brother, and
always ready to help him whenever she was allowed, and so she felt
this scornful rebuff the more keenly.

'There, you needn't cry over it. I suppose you can't help being only a
girl. But mind, if you say a word to father or mother of what I have
told you, I never will speak to you again!' And with this last threat
Leonard turned with a sigh to his lessons.

'I've wasted a lot of time over you this evening,' he said, after a
short silence, during which Duffy had been muttering over a French
verb. 'I'm awfully disappointed about it,' he went on, 'for I shall
have to tell Taylor and the rest that you're nothing but a duffer.'

'Because I can't tell you how to manage with a boy that I don't know;
it isn't fair, Len, and you say boys always are fair,' said his
sister, in a tone of protest, as she turned to her lessons once more.

Leonard tried to follow her example, but he could not fix his
attention upon problems in Euclid with that greater problem
unsolved--how the honour of the school was to be saved, and the new
boy got rid of? That was really what Taylor and one or two leading
spirits had decided must be done; but how to do it was the puzzle!

Leonard's lessons were very imperfectly prepared that night, and every
moment he could snatch the next morning was given to looking over his
books, that he might not utterly fail when he was called upon to
produce what he should have learned; and he was conning over one task
as he walked to school, when he was overtaken by Taylor and the rest.

'Oh, I say, Dabbs'--Len's nickname among his friends--'we saw that new
fellow with another carrying a basket of tools--looked like a
carpenter's basket,' said one.

'It was his brother, too, I know--looked as though he was going
wood-chopping somewhere,' said another. But Taylor slipped his arm in
Len's and drew him aside. 'Look here, what are we going to do about
it--what did your clever sister say?'

'She couldn't think of anything last night, she was too busy.'

'Oh, that's all rot you know. You said she would be sure to think of
something clever, and it's come to this--that we must do something at
once, or Torrington's will go to the dogs, with working fellows coming
here and lording it over gentlemen. The question is how are we to get
rid of him?'

'Yes, that's it. How are we? It is easy to say, get rid of him, but
the question is--how? The only thing that we can do at present that I
can see is to send him to Coventry!'

To send a boy to Coventry required united action on the part of the
whole school, but Leonard Morrison and Taylor, with one or two of
their friends, did not despair of persuading their class-mates to
follow their example. Of course the boys in the lower classes might
speak an occasional word, and the seniors in the upper form might have
occasion to do the same, but the classes in this school were large and
practically self-contained, so that they had little to do with those
in the upper or junior classes; it was therefore comparatively easy
for the leading spirits to persuade or compel the rest to follow their
lead, whatever it might be.

So the day following the talk between the brother and sister, Horace
Howard found himself sent to Coventry, as his foes had decreed. As he
was a quiet, studious lad, he did not notice this at first, but by
degrees it impressed itself upon him that no one had asked him a
question all day, or even told him that he must not do this or that.
He felt vaguely uncomfortable before he set off on his long walk home;
and when he found that several of his schoolfellows, who had
previously talked to him as they walked part of the way together, ran
off as soon as the gate was passed, his heart sank within him, and he
wondered what he could have done to bring this punishment upon
himself.

But, whatever he might feel, he determined not to let his mother know
anything about it, and so he went into the little room where she sat
at work, whistling cheerily as usual.

'Stitch, stitch, stitch,' he said, as his mother looked up from her
work for the accustomed kiss.

'You're earlier to-night, dear,' said Mrs. Howard, as she laid aside
her work and drew the tea-tray close to her.

'I suppose I walked a bit faster, and didn't gossip quite so much,'
said the lad, and he had to strangle a sigh as he spoke, lest his
mother should detect it.

'Are you hungry, my boy?' said his mother as he hung up his cap.

'Not very,' answered Horace, for he knew by this time that it was
inconvenient for him to have a large appetite, and so he was learning
to regulate it by the state of their finances.

'You went in your old jacket again to-day, Horace,' she remarked as
she set his dinner before him, for he took his mid-day meal with him
to school.

'Yes, I wore my old jacket. Why not?' said Horace. 'You mended it up
so nicely that it was a pity not to give it another turn and save the
other. Jackets can't be picked up in the street, you know; and though
we may sometimes pick wool off the hedges, it isn't woven and made up
into boys' jackets.'

Horace talked on in this strain, to prevent his mother from asking
questions as to how he had got on at school during the day, for Mrs.
Howard knew something of the ways of boys, and was terribly afraid
lest some of her son's schoolfellows should find out something of
their circumstances, and not treat Horace as they would an equal.

Nothing but the lad's love of science and her desire to give him an
education that would fit him to make use of this talent, had made her
willing to consent that he should compete for a scholarship that would
enable him to do this. It was the first time, she knew, that a boy
from the board school had ever been admitted to this exclusive grammar
school known as 'Torrington's'; and she had watched anxiously each
day, to find out whether the lads were treating their poorer companion
kindly and courteously, and thus far she had been perfectly
satisfied.

Her elder son was as anxious as she was that Horace should have all
the advantages a good education could give, but he was opposed to his
brother going to Torrington's.

'I am only a carpenter,' he said, 'and never want to be anything
better, but it won't suit those boys to hear that one of their
schoolfellows has a brother who is a common working man.'

'You are not a common working man, Fred,' said his mother quickly.

'Not to you, perhaps, mother mine, but I want you to look at things as
the world does. I do common work--carpenter's work, and am glad to get
the chance of doing it, and to help you and Horace. Here we can only
be common working people--you sewing for the shops and I working for a
builder. That is all the people know, and all we want them to know,
and I wish Horace could have been a carpenter too.'

'Perhaps it would have been as well,' said his mother with a sigh.

'I am sure it would. We agreed to come here and leave the whole
miserable past behind.'

'It is left behind,' interrupted his mother quickly.

'Ah, yes, we have done our best; but who knows what questions may be
asked, now Horace has gone to that school? Boys are often curious in
their inquiries, and it is not as though----'

'Fred, Fred, we must leave these things in the hand of God, and be
content to take one step at a time. I could not, in fairness to
Horace, let him throw away this opportunity of getting a good
education that will fit him to use the gifts which I believe God has
given him.'

This conversation had taken place at dinner-time that very day, and
Mrs. Howard was thinking of it as she watched Horace eat his dinner.

The boy knew that his mother's eyes were upon him, and he was the more
anxious to guard his secret, and so he rattled on until his mother
forgot her fears, and thought Fred was making himself anxious without
the slightest shadow of cause.



CHAPTER II.

SENDING HIM TO COVENTRY.


Horace Howard sat longer over his lessons that night, and was quite
undisturbed by any talking with his mother and brother, and when the
time came for him to put the lessons aside and go to bed, he knew he
had only half mastered them, for his thoughts had wandered continually
from the subject of the lesson before him to the events of his day at
school, trying to discover what he had done to offend his
schoolfellows, that they should all at once send him to Coventry in
this fashion. The study of mathematics, French, chemistry, and physics
did not help him to the solution of this problem; but the school
mystery greatly hindered the other subjects from becoming clear to his
mind, and when he took his place in class the next morning he knew it
would be a bad day for him with his class-work.

It was worse even than he feared, and as he lost place after place,
and went down at last even below the dunces of the form, it hurt him
more to see how gleeful the other boys were over his mistakes than to
lose his place in the class.

At last, when Horace had blundered worse than usual over some lesson,
the master said, 'What is the matter with you to-day, Howard? Are you
ill? Have you got a headache?'

'No, sir,' answered Horace, for he was a truthful lad, and could not
avail himself of the excuse the master had thus offered him.

'You could not have prepared your lessons last night, then; you know
the rule about this, don't you?' said the master sternly.

'Yes, sir; I studied my lessons for more than two hours last night,'
said Horace, reddening and growing more confused, for he knew all the
class were staring at him, and, as he fancied, glorying in his
discomfiture. In this he was not far wrong; but there were one or two
who pitied him in his various dilemmas, and would have broken that ban
of silence that had been decreed against him, but the leaders kept
their eyes upon them, and they would not venture to brave the
displeasure of their elders.

Altogether it was a cruelly hard day for Horace, and he felt strongly
inclined to say when he went home, that he would never go near the
school again, but become a carpenter like his brother. One trade would
be as good as another, if he could not go on and learn more of the
mysteries of chemistry and physics It was some consolation to him
that his master had told him to prepare a special lesson in chemistry,
in readiness for some practical experiments that were to take place
the following day.

In his eagerness over this Horace forgot the vexations and trials of
the day, and had mastered it so quickly, that he was able to look over
again the lessons that had floored him in class. These imperfect
lessons would be like the damaged links of a chain, and might bring
him trouble again and again, if he did not repair the mischief at
once; and so by the time he went to bed he had well-nigh mastered all
the difficulties, and worked himself into a state of self-content,
which was about the best preparation for the next day's work, for he
went to sleep without a thought beyond his lessons, and took his place
in the class looking bright and cheery once more.

To-day was to be a sort of recapitulation of the previous fortnight's
work in chemistry, and the stupid blunders made the previous day were
more than atoned for, and at last when the boy had worked out a
brilliant result that greatly surprised the master he said, 'Why, you
must have been ill yesterday.'

'No, sir, I was well,' said Horace, seeing the master waited for an
answer. 'I was well enough, but I was not quite happy.'

'Well, then, let me advise you to make yourself happy in future under
any circumstances.' And then he added in an undertone, 'You are a
scholarship lad, and we expect more from you than from some of the
others.'

'Thank you, sir, I'll try,' said Horace; and throughout that day he
did not find it hard to try, as the master had suggested.

The others had their eyes upon him, and were puzzled to account for
his success. They had made up their minds the previous day that they
would only have to carry on their present tactics for a short time,
and Horace would leave the school in disgust, or else he would be
asked to leave by the head master, and thus Torrington's would be
saved from going to the dogs through this scholarship boy. But this
day's experience of what Horace could do under the terrible ban of
their displeasure puzzled them, and they resolved to watch more
closely, to make sure none of those who were suspected of faltering in
allegiance to the decree of their leaders did not speak to him on
their way home.

But Horace himself did not expect this now. The first bitterness of
the trial had worn off, and as soon as he was beyond the school gate
he set off home at a sharp trot, softly whistling to himself, as he
pondered over what would be the probable effect if a certain acid they
had been using was mixed with another substance entirely different
from anything they had used in that day's experiments.

He whistled and thought, and turned the matter over and over in his
mind, and finally ended by wishing that his mother could afford to
give him pocket-money like most boys had to spend. This cost him a
sigh, as he thought he might as well wish for a slice of the moon at
once as for pocket-money, and by the time he got home he was whistling
to himself again as happily as ever.

When he got in, his mother noticed his eager, animated looks.

'Why, what has happened to make you so merry?' she said, as he threw
up his cap in sheer exuberance of spirits.

'Nothing much, mother; only I have got an idea.'

'Keep it, then, lad--keep it,' said his brother, laughing.

'All right,' said Horace, thinking he should be under no temptation to
part with it, since his schoolfellows would not speak to him. 'It's a
good idea, I know, if I can only find out the way to carry it out,'
added Horace, at which his brother laughed, and his mother remarked
that a good many people had ideas, but the difficulty was to carry
them into effect, so that they were of practical use.

'Oh, it will want a good deal of thinking about, I know; but it has
made me quite decide not to be a carpenter.'

'I thought you had made up your mind about that long ago,' said Fred.

'Ah, but I was thinking the other day it would be a great deal easier
to be a carpenter, and earn money. I wasn't sure that I ought not to
do something to help mother soon.'

'No, my boy,' interrupted Mrs. Howard; 'it would not be your duty to
give up all opportunity of using the talents God has given you, when
the way has been made clear for you to receive the education that will
fit you to use them by-and-by. Fred always liked cutting wood and
making boats and stools, just as you are fond of making chemical
experiments, and watching what the result will be.'

'I wouldn't be anything but a carpenter; but I shall study mathematics
more, that I may do better at my trade by-and-by,' said Fred. 'Every
man to his trade, I suppose; but there's nothing like making things, I
think,' he added.

So the brothers agreed to differ; but it was a very happy evening to
Horace, and he thought he had overcome all his difficulties, and could
be very happy, in spite of the ban that his schoolfellows had placed
upon him. He learned his lessons that night without difficulty, and
the next morning began to recover his place in the class; but the hour
of recess tried him sorely.

A few of the boys who lived in the neighbourhood went home to dinner
from one to two o'clock, but many who came from a distance brought
luncheon with them, or had dinner provided for them at the school.
There was a luncheon room provided for those who brought their meals
with them, but Horace had preferred eating his slice of bread and
butter or bread and dripping, walking about the playground. There were
others who did the same thing, but they walked in groups and chatted
and frolicked, or played games, and when he first came Horace had been
invited to join these, and had been initiated into the mysteries of
one game peculiar to the school, which was, therefore, very popular
among the boys.

Now, however, this was altered. Horace was left severely alone, and
though a boy might go shouting round for another to make up the game,
no one ever asked Horace to take the vacant place. He was left to walk
up and down the side of the playground until the bell rang for
afternoon school, and then the boys who might be near, as they were
passing in, took care to hold as far aloof from him as possible.

Horace wondered how long this was going to last. He had made several
attempts to break through this silent persecution, but each boy to
whom he had spoken had walked away as though he was stone deaf; and so
at last Horace gave up the attempt, and tried to be happy in spite of
this.

'I say, Morrison, how much longer is that beggar going to hold out?'
said Taylor, one day speaking to Leonard, as though he ought to know
all about it.

Taylor had lost his place in the class, and so had Leonard, and
neither felt very amiable.

'Ask him, if you want to know. I'm nearly sick of it, I can tell you.
It's lasted a month now, and I think we may as well give it up.'

'I daresay you do. My brother who has just come home from Oxford, says
it is your people who have brought him into the school.'

'My people!' shouted Leonard, crimson with wrath at the insinuation.
'Who do you mean by "my people?" and why should you think so?'

'Now don't get mad, Len,' said Taylor in a quieter tone. 'But you know
your father is on the County Council, and they say it was he who
recommended that Howard should be sent to Torrington's.'

'I don't believe it!' blazed Leonard Morrison; and then with fine
inconsistency he added, 'If he did, it was because the fellow got a
scholarship, and he had to go somewhere.'

'Anywhere but at Torrington's would have done for him,' grumbled
Taylor; 'and I think the master or the Council ought to turn him out,
now they know the rest of the fellows don't like it.'

'But do they know we have sent him to Coventry?' asked Leonard.

'Are they bats--do they go about with their eyes shut--haven't you
noticed that Howard has been up in the chemistry "lab." yesterday and
to-day all the lunch time? I saw Skeats speaking to him yesterday just
after we came into the playground, and the two walked away together.
It was the same again to-day, only Howard was looking out for him, and
went to meet him as soon as he appeared. Now what are we going to do,
if the masters try to beat us at this game?'

'I say it isn't fair,' answered Morrison.

'Fair! I call it the meanest thing I ever heard of, and shows that
Torrington's is going to the dogs, masters and all. I wish you'd speak
to your pater about it, Morrison. I think you might, now Skeats has
taken to interfering with us like this.'

Leonard shrugged his shoulders. 'I think it would be better for
somebody else to come and see my father, if they think he had anything
to do with sending that boy here. You don't know the pater. He'd just
turn me inside out, and then laugh at me; but he couldn't serve any
other fellow that way.'

But Taylor shook his head. It was true that he did not know Dr.
Morrison, but he had heard that this gentleman had said it would be
for the advantage of Torrington's to receive a few scholarship boys,
for they were sure to be sharp, studious lads, and it would waken the
other boys up and put them on their mettle. So he declined to go and
see Mr. Morrison, but declared that Leonard ought to undertake the
mission on behalf of the school.

'Look here, Curtis!' he called to another lad, who, like himself, was
one of the elders of the class, and consequently domineered a good
deal over the rest. 'Morrison won't do his duty in upholding the
honour of the school. You come and talk to him.'

'What's the row?' asked Curtis loftily, sauntering up with his hands
in his pockets, and looking down upon Leonard Morrison as a big
overgrown lad likes to look at one of his smaller schoolfellows, as if
to intimidate him with his superior height and bulk.

'Now, then, little Morrison, speak up. What is it?' he said in a
sleepy tone, but trying to look fierce.

'Why, it's just this, Curtis, that beggar we have sent to Coventry
don't seem inclined to take himself out of the school, and so somebody
must be made to move him.'

'Of course,' said Curtis, who did not mind who the somebody might be,
so long as he was not called upon to exert himself beyond a little
bullying, 'you hear, little Morrison, just you do as you're told!' he
commanded.

'This is what I want him to do,' explained Taylor. 'I have heard that
it is all through his father that we have got the beggar here, and so
it's Mr. Morrison and that precious Council that must move him.'

'Of course,' assented Curtis. 'You hear, Morrison?'

'I tell you it must be some of the other fellows that must go and
explain to the pater that the school don't like scholarship boys. You
don't know my pater,' he went on, a little plaintively. 'He would very
likely report us to the head master for sending the fellow to
Coventry, and then where should we be?'

'Where we are now, but that fellow wouldn't.'

'I tell you, Curtis, you don't know the pater. He would ask what he
had done that the school had sent him to Coventry, and you know well
enough that we haven't acted on the square with him.'

'Oh, that's it, is it? You are going to take his part now, and peach
on us!' raved Taylor.

Curtis yawned. 'You'd better give in, and do as Taylor orders you.'

'Well, then, I should peach, and no mistake, if I told my father we
had sent the fellow to Coventry for the last month. "What for?" he
would say in his quiet way, while he looked into your very soul, so
that you knew you must make a clean breast of everything. No, thank
you. I don't mind going with you and Taylor and two or three other
fellows as a sort of deputation from----'

'Deputation be bothered!' interrupted Taylor viciously. 'Why should we
go cap in hand to ask your father to take the fellow away? It ought to
be enough for you to tell him that the school don't like it, and that
we are determined to uphold the honour of Torrington's.'

'Yes, that's it. We don't mean to let the school go to the dogs to
please anybody,' said Curtis lazily.

'Yes; and what are we to do next, for the beggar don't seem to care
now whether we send him to Coventry or not, and Skeats is giving the
game away by letting him go to the chemistry "lab." every dinner
hour.'

'Let's send Skeats to Coventry,' said Curtis.

Leonard laughed at the suggestion, but Taylor grew more angry.

'It's no good fooling over this now,' he said. 'I have been talking to
some of the fellows in the sixth, and they have made up their minds
not to have the beggar among them.'

'All right, let them get rid of him, then,' said Curtis. 'I don't see
why we should do their dirty work. When's he going up?'

'He swats as though he expected to go next term,' complained Leonard
Morrison, who had lost his place in the class that morning through
Horace.

'Swats! It's shameful the pace that fellow goes with his lessons; and
the masters think we ought to do the same,' foamed Taylor.

'Ah, they've tried to force it upon all of us,' observed Curtis; 'but
I won't let it disturb me, I can tell you.'

'You don't mind being the dunce of the school,' said Leonard, with a
short laugh.

'I don't care what the fellows call me, so long as they let me
alone,' said the young giant, still with his hands in his pockets. He
was getting tired of the discussion, and Taylor saw that it was of
little use trying to threaten Leonard, and so he walked sulkily away,
to try and think out some other means of getting rid of the obnoxious
scholarship boy.



CHAPTER III.

THE COCK OF THE WALK.


'I say, Duffy, there's an awful row among the fellows at school;
Taylor and Curtis are like raging bulls over this new fellow, and they
say it's all the pater's fault.'

The brother and sister were sitting at their lessons in the little
room known as the study, as they sat when this story opened. Several
weeks, however, had elapsed since that time, and Florence, having her
own cares and interests to think of, had well-nigh forgotten how she
had been appealed to in the matter of the new boy.

'What are you talking about, Len?' she asked, after a pause, during
which she had been muttering over a French verb, with her hand
covering the page, by way of testing whether she knew her lesson.

'That's like a girl!' answered her brother tartly. 'I have told you
more than once or twice about that new boy at Torrington's, and now
you ask me what I am talking about.'

'Oh, well, I didn't know he was so interesting as all that. You told
me a week or two ago that you had sent him to Coventry and settled
him, and so of course I thought it was all over,' said the young lady,
propping her chin in her hands and looking across at her brother.

'But if a fellow won't be settled, what are you to do? I want you to
tell me that, Duffy.'

The young lady shook her head. 'Tell us all about it, Len, I'm not
very busy to-night.'

'Well, we sent that fellow to Coventry, as I told you--not that he's a
bad sort of chap; only he came from one of those beastly board schools
in the town, and we didn't know who he was or what he was, and he kept
his mouth shut about his people, and so the fellows took up the notion
that Torrington's would soon go to the dogs if we let that sort of
cattle stay there, and so we said he must go. Well, we thought the
Coventry game had done the trick for us just at first, for you never
saw such an awful ass as he made of himself one morning at all the
classes. "Howard, are you ill?" said Skeats at last, in his sharp way.
And we thought the beggar would get off for the rest of the lessons.
But, if you'll believe it, he was game enough to say, "No, sir, I'm
quite well," which was as good as telling Skeats he was a fool for
asking such a question.'

Florence nodded. 'I like plucky boys,' she said approvingly.

'Well, it was a plucky thing to do, I daresay, but it didn't help him
much with Skeats that day, for he never spared him a bit, as he did
not take the excuse that had been offered him, and he blundered and
floundered worse than ever, so that Curtis, the biggest dunce in the
class, answered for him, and took his place in the class.'

'What a shame!' said Florence, pityingly.

'Well, I felt sorry for the poor little beggar at last, for we knew he
had swatted well over the lesson, and yet he seemed to have lost his
wits. "That's done the trick," Taylor whispered to me, when Skeats
frowned at him once for being such an ass. "We shan't see that
scholarship swatter here any more."'

'Swatter,' repeated Florence. 'But I thought you said he didn't know
his lessons.'

'Ah! that once. But it wasn't for the want of swatting, for it was
just that that put the fellows' backs up. He comes into the school
looking as meek as a rabbit. "I've been to the board school," he says
to Taylor, when he put him through the usual mill. Not a word did he
say about French and Latin, and so Taylor thought he would have him
for a fag, as he was a junior; but we soon found out that we should
have to swat over our lessons, and no mistake, if we were to keep out
of rows with the masters. He set the pace, don't you see, till Taylor
got as mad as a hatter when he lost his place at the top of the
class, and then he said this new boy would have to go.'

'Because he learned his lessons better than the rest!' exclaimed his
sister.

'Well, not that exactly--of course not,' replied her brother; 'but you
see he was only a board school boy, and his mother couldn't be a lady,
and his brother is only a common carpenter, they say; and so for a
fellow like that to come to Torrington's would just ruin the school.
That's why we want to get rid of him, don't you see?'

'No, I don't,' said Florence, indignantly; 'and Taylor and the rest
are a set of mean cads!' The expression was not very elegant or
ladylike; but she had learned it from her brother, and knew he would
feel the reproach conveyed by this word more surely than by anything
else she could say.

It stung him into a fierce passion of wrath. 'What do girls know about
boys' schools and boys' ways?' he demanded.

'I know what you have told me about Taylor and the rest, and I say
they are not gentlemen, but a set of mean cads.' She was careful not
to include Leonard in this scathing denunciation, for she added, 'I
should not like to think my brother would act like that.'

'Oh, well, Duffy, you see you are a girl, and can't be expected to
know everything; but I did tell Taylor to-day that I thought we might
leave the beggar alone, and let him out of Coventry now.'

'If I was the new boy, I would send you there, and see how you liked
it. What are you going to do?' she asked.

'That's just it--just what I wanted to talk to you about. The fellows
say it is all the pater's doings that Howard has been sent to
Torrington's, and----'

Florence clapped her hands. 'Dear old daddy!' she said. 'He knew what
Torrington's wanted. Now go on,' she added.

'It's no good when you interrupt like that. I wanted to tell you what
the fellows are saying; and now if I do, you'll just go and peach
about the whole thing.'

'Now, Len, did I ever peach about anything you told me? Haven't we
always been fair and square to each other?' expostulated his sister,
who felt herself insulted by such a charge.

'Yes, you always have been pretty fair for a girl,' admitted her
brother, 'and I hope you'll remember that mum must be the word still.
And mind, if you hear about this, you don't know anything, but just
tell the pater to ask me about it. I don't want you to go and give
your opinion about the school and the fellows, though Curtis and one
or two more may be a poor lot. The thing is, they feel themselves
insulted by having this scholarship boy sent to Torrington's, and they
want me to speak to the pater about it.'

'Oh, do--do, and let me be there when you tell him,' said Florence,
her eyes dancing with glee at the prospect.

'Don't be a duffer. Do you think I don't know my own daddy well enough
to know that it would be no good going to him with the fellows'
complaints? I told Taylor he had better come and see the pater himself
about it.'

'Of course,' nodded Florence, 'that would be the proper way, and I
should like to see them do it.' And again the girl laughed.

This seemed to annoy her brother. 'It's all very well for you to
laugh,' he said. 'You don't know what it is to be mixed up with such
an affair, and I want to know what I am to do.'

'What do they want you to do?'

'Haven't I told you? They say I must get the pater to remove Howard
from the school at once. And one of the fellows told me as I came home
that he overheard Taylor and Curtis say that, if it wasn't pretty soon
done, they'd send me to Coventry, and find out some other way to get
rid of Howard.'

'I wouldn't care if I was you.'

'Wouldn't you? If you was a boy, you'd know what it was to be sent to
Coventry, perhaps, and let me tell you, you wouldn't want a second
dose. It's none so pleasant, I can tell you, to have this fellow turn
his back, and begin to whistle if you attempt to speak to him. Why,
they make it so strict at Torrington's that if the master sends a
message to a fellow in Coventry, they fetch a junior to deliver it.
Oh, I know enough to make me hate the thought of it, and so would
you.'

'Girls are not so nasty as that,' said Florence, 'but I tell you what
you could do if they send you to Coventry--chum up with the new boy. I
should think he was a nice fellow.'

But Leonard turned up his nose at the suggestion. 'He isn't much at
games,' he said. 'I don't think he ever saw a fives court until he
came to Torrington's; and I do like a good game at fives.'

'I'd play by myself then,' said his sister.

'Ah! and see every other fellow pick up his ball and walk out of the
court as soon as you appeared. You'd feel like playing then, wouldn't
you?' he added.

His sister sighed. She was very fond of Leonard, although he was not
very brave, she feared. Still, big lads like Taylor and Curtis could
make things very uncomfortable for the younger and weaker lads, like
Leonard.

'Now just see if you can't help me out of this hole, Flo,' said the
boy, after another pause. 'I told the fellows I'd do something
to-night, and I must, you know.'

'Do something!' repeated his sister, 'what do you want to do?'

'I don't want to do anything. The poor beggar might stay at
Torrington's for ever if he liked; but you see the others have set
their faces against it, and they say I must either make the pater
remove him, or else think of another plan to get rid of him. Don't you
see, Duffy, I must do one or the other?'

'No, I don't see; and you shan't call me Duffy either, if you mean to
help these wretched cads at Torrington's, and I'll never own you for a
brother again!' His sister spoke calmly, but with the utmost scorn and
contempt in her tones, and then laid her head on the table and burst
into tears. 'I'm ashamed of you, I am!' she sobbed through her tears.

Leonard stared at her in silent amazement for a minute or two, and
then said slowly, 'You don't know this scholarship boy, do you?'

She shook her head. 'Of course I don't,' she said, as soon as she
could speak.

'Then what are you crying for? I'd be ashamed to cry for a fellow I'd
never seen; and you a girl too!'

Florence started to her feet as her brother uttered this taunt; and
dashing away her tears, with blazing eyes she exclaimed, 'It is not
for this strange boy I am crying, but for _you_--that you are as much
a cad as Taylor and the rest!' Then, gathering up her books, she
marched out of the room with the air of an offended duchess.

'Ah, you're only a girl!' exclaimed Leonard as she departed; and he
broke into a whistle, but it soon ended in a sigh, when the door
closed and he was left to himself.

'I wonder what girls are made of,' he said, as he slowly opened his
lesson books. 'To think of Duffy flying at me like that! She called me
a cad too, nasty little thing! I won't speak to her for a week, when
we come in here to lessons. I'll give her a taste of Coventry, and see
how she likes it.' And Leonard set himself to master a Latin verb. But
before he had conned it three minutes his thoughts had wandered to his
sister, and from her to Taylor and the lads at school, who expected
him to solve the problem that they had made into a bogey--how to get
rid of the scholarship boy, since all their efforts thus far had
failed.

Before he got to school the next morning he met half a dozen of his
schoolfellows.

'Well, what's the news, Morrison?' asked two or three in a breath.
'You know, of course, Taylor expects you to bring a message from your
father about that fellow to-day.'

'Blessed are they that expect nothing, for they shall never be
disappointed,' said Leonard in a tantalising tone.

'Well, you can cheek us, of course, little Morrison, but it won't do
for Taylor, let me tell you. He don't mean to stand any nonsense. That
fellow's got to go. We don't mean to have any board school boys here.
Torrington's was founded for gentlemen, and we don't mean to have cads
here. We've made up our minds about it, and the sooner your father and
that precious Council understand this the better.'

'Did Taylor tell you to say all that?' said Morrison sneeringly, 'How
long have you been his fag?' he asked of the lad who had spoken.

'Oh, well, fag or no fag, you'll know it when Taylor comes.' And, as
if in verification of his words, Taylor called to them the next minute
to wait for him.

'We're late now,' shouted Leonard back, and then he started off at a
sharp pace towards the school, for he had not quite made up his mind
yet what he should tell Taylor, by way of excuse for not speaking to
his father, and so he did not want to meet him just now.

He could not help noticing, as he ran, that none of the rest attempted
to join him, but waited at the corner of the road they had been
crossing for Taylor to come up.

'So Morrison has skulked off,' he said, as soon as he joined them.

'I believe he wanted to get out of your way,' said one.

'I shouldn't wonder,' said the bigger lad; 'but he need not think he's
going to do it. I tell you that I've been ferreting out things a bit,
and I know now that it was Dr. Morrison that persuaded the County
Council to send that fellow to Torrington's, and so he must and shall
take him away, and that pretty soon too, and I mean to tell Morrison
that.'

'How are you going to do it?' asked one.

'Oh, through Morrison junior, of course. There isn't much spunk about
him, and he'll soon cry Peccavi! when we put the screw on.'

'What will you do--how will you do it?' asked one.

'Send him to Coventry as we did the other,' was the prompt reply.

'Oh, that be bothered; we can't be worried with two there at once. You
must think of something else.'

'Bless you, the threat of it will be enough for little Morrison. He'll
give in when he hears the mystic word Coventry!'

'You'll give him another chance it he hasn't brought the message?'

'Well, I shall hear what he's got to say first. Now look alive,
there's the last bell, and we shall all get an imposition instead of a
pleasant talk with little Morrison, if we don't get inside that
gate.'

As he spoke the heavy clang of the school gate was heard, and the boys
looked at each other as Taylor ejaculated, 'Dash it all! they haven't
rung that last bell two minutes, and that's the regulation time.' They
propped their backs against the wall and rested after their run, for
the gate would not be opened again until prayers were over in school,
and then their names would be taken as they went in, and an extra
lesson would be exacted from them in the dinner hour.

'Don't let little Morrison get off without seeing me in the
afternoon,' said Taylor. 'I sha'n't be able to nail him in the dinner
hour, but it will give me a bit more time to think of some other
plan.'

'It's a beastly shame they ever sent that scholarship boy to
Torrington's!' said another lad, as though he did not like the task of
hunting him out.

'Oh, well, he's here, and we must get him out,' said Taylor, as though
he rather liked the hunt. Just then the gate opened, and the lads
filed in. Nearly a dozen were late from the whole school; and each as
he passed was asked if he had brought a note to excuse this breach of
the rule, and then they passed on to their different class-rooms
instead of going to the hall for prayers.

The being late and consequent imposition of an extra lesson did not
improve Taylor's temper, and when he met Leonard at the close of
afternoon school he was in a towering rage.

'Now, then, Morrison, out with it! What message has your father sent
to the school for his abominable behaviour--what has he to say for
himself?'

Leonard looked a little scared at the abruptness and tone of this
question, and he answered very quietly, 'My father was busy last
night, and I could not speak to him about it.'

'Busy, was he? Well, it won't be good for you if he's busy to-night,
let me tell you, for the school don't mean to wait any longer, and if
that fellow isn't soon removed, you shall both go. Do you hear, little
Morrison, we mean to clear the school of all vermin at once?'

'Why didn't you tell him to take himself off?' said one, when Taylor
had walked away. 'This is getting a bit too much. You stand up for
yourself and your father, if he comes any more of that bullying. What
right has he to say who shall come to Torrington's? If he had spoken
of my father like that, he should have had a black eye, if he killed
me for it afterwards!' added his friend.

Leonard sighed, 'You don't know Taylor as well as I do,' he said. 'He
isn't a bad sort of fellow, if you let him have his own way.'

'But it's such a beastly way that I wouldn't put up with it,' said the
other. 'He may be "the cock of the walk," but he need not think we are
all going to cackle to him like a set of hens. I mean to take that
fellow out of Coventry after this. Come on, let us both walk home with
him a bit, and see how the cock likes that. There's Howard just ahead;
let's catch him.'

But instead of quickening his pace Leonard looked timorously back; and
there was Taylor with a group of lads round him vigorously declaiming
against the County Council for sending one of their scholarship boys
to Torrington's. So Leonard felt afraid to join this unpopular
scholar, and set himself in defiance of the present wave of anger that
was passing over his friends, and he turned down a by-road and walked
home by himself.



CHAPTER IV.

DR. MORRISON.


Leonard Morrison found himself sent to Coventry, not by his
schoolfellows, but by his sister. It was just the punishment he had
decided she deserved for daring to have an opinion of her own that
differed from his, and so to find himself 'hoist with his own petard'
made him very angry.

'Where is Flo going to do her lessons to-night?' he asked his mother,
when he went to the study and found it in darkness. His sister usually
lighted the lamp ready for him, but his mother had come with him to do
it to-night.

'She has gone to her own room--she wants to be quiet, she says. You
should not talk so much, Lenny dear,' added the lady.

'Nasty little thing! She has been telling tales, I suppose?'

'She did not say what you had been talking about, if that is what you
mean,' said Mrs. Morrison, 'but your father heard a great deal of
chatter, he says.'

'So Flo has taken herself off,' said Leonard, as he took his seat and
opened his school satchel. 'A nice time I shall have, if Taylor keeps
his word and sends me to Coventry at school! I shall lose the use of
my tongue in about a week, if nobody will speak to me. It's a lively
look-out, any way, and what have I done to deserve it, I should like
to know?'

Leonard considered himself a very ill-used individual just then, and
he was specially angry with his sister because she had so neatly
turned the tables upon him in leaving him to do his lessons alone.

He missed her sadly as the time went on, and there was no one to
grumble at or ask advice from. What to do about speaking to his father
he did not know, and at last he decided to say something to his mother
about the matter; not that he meant to tell her all, but he would just
ask her if she thought Taylor was right in his statement.

So when Mrs. Morrison came into the room with his slice of cake for
his supper, he said, 'Do you know whether father had anything to do
with sending that scholarship boy to Torrington's?'

'Why--isn't he a good boy?' said the lady.

'That isn't it, mother. He may be good--I dare say he is--but did
father send him there?'

'The County Council sent him; your father would not have the power.'

'I suppose not,' said Leonard in a satisfied tone.

'But why did you ask, my boy?' said the lady.

'Oh, it doesn't matter,' said Leonard, lightly. 'As long as daddy
didn't send him it's all right.'

'But what has happened? What sort of a boy is he?'

'Oh, he's all right, I dare say. Boys can't peach, you know, mother.'

And Leonard's light words sent his mother out with an aching heart.

'More trouble, I fear,' she said softly to herself, as she closed the
door and went back to the dining-room. 'Poor Dick! poor, dear Dick!
What misery he has brought to us all! And yet he was never
wicked--only weak.'

The lady buried her face in her handkerchief for a few minutes, but
roused herself when she heard the street door open and close, and went
and rung the bell for supper to be served.

'You are late to-night, dear,' she said, when her husband entered the
room.

'Yes, I have had a busy day, and am as hungry as a hunter. Chicks gone
to bed, I suppose, he added, as he looked round the room before going
to wash his hands and change his coat for a comfortable hour by his
own fireside.

A tasty hot supper was on the table when he came back, but he noticed
as he ate that his wife scarcely touched hers; but he did not ask what
was troubling her until the meal was over and the table cleared. Then
he said, leaning back in his chair--

'Now, little woman, I have done my duty to your nice supper, which I
know is all you have been waiting for. Now tell me what is amiss. Has
Flo cut her finger, or Len got into mischief?' he asked.

'No, dear, the children are all right,' said Mrs. Morrison, with a
sigh; 'but I have been wondering whether you were wise to get that
little board school boy sent to Torrington's. You did have a good deal
to do with it, I know,' added the lady.

'To be sure I did. The lad had fairly earned the Thompson Scholarship,
and, from all we heard of the lad and his relatives, we thought he
would be an acquisition to the school rather than otherwise. His
mother was a patient of mine about a year ago, and from all I saw then
I concluded that they were people who had come down in the world, for
it was easy to see that they were superior to their surroundings, and
I thought then that if ever it was in my power to help them I would
do so. The father is abroad, travelling, I understand; but he seems to
have left his family badly provided for. What have you heard about the
boy?'

'Oh, nothing,' promptly replied Mrs. Morrison. 'Only from a word Lenny
dropped I fancy he is not popular at the school, and you know what
queer notions people take sometimes; and if it was said that Dr.
Morrison sent a board school boy to the school they are all so proud
of, we might have all our old troubles over again.'

The doctor laughed. 'You think half my patients must be offended as
well as the boys at Torrington's! I have heard a whisper that some of
them don't like the new scholar; but he will live it down, I daresay,
and I am not going to notice it.'

'But, my dear, if you should lose your patients? If this boy should
disgrace himself, people will be sure to say that you had no business
to send him to such a school, and the worst of the trouble is sure to
come upon us.'

'Ah, I see you have been saddling the horse ready to go and meet it!
How many times am I to tell you, little woman, to wait until the
trouble comes to you, and then to look it squarely in the face and
fight it, if fighting is likely to do any good, and if it is not, then
bear it with all the patience and courage that God will give you, if
you only do your share in the matter? Now what has Master Len been
saying about this lad?'

'He asked if it was true that you were the means of sending that
scholarship boy to Torrington's. The boys had said you did it.

The doctor laughed. 'Murder will out, you see, Maria.'

'I told him the County Council sent him, and of course they did.'

'Quite true; but I had the casting vote in the matter, and I voted
that the lad should go to Torrington's, both for the sake of the
school and the boy, and also that I might hear incidentally from Len
what sort of a lad he was. What does he say?'

'Nothing definite. He wanted to know whether it was true that you had
sent him, and when I asked why, he said boys were not allowed to tell
tales, or words to that effect.

The doctor smiled. 'Then it's nothing very bad,' he said, 'and if this
lad can only hold his own among some of those big louting lads, he
will do our school a world of good.'

'How is he to do that?' asked the lady.

'Why, this boy has formed the habit of steady application to the task
before him, whatever it may be. If he had not, he could not have
passed the examination necessary to gain this scholarship. Now
Torrington's sadly needs a few lads like this, for it is beginning to
suffer from the dry rot that a great name often brings to a school
after some years. The sons of wealthy men are sent there, who have no
need to toil with either hands or brains, and they take care not to do
it themselves, and to hinder others from doing it if they can. For
Len, and lads like him, this example is bad; and so to introduce a
studious lad, who will think less of games than of lessons, has become
a necessity, if Torrington's is to be saved from going to the dogs;
and I should be very sorry to see the school go down. I went there
when I was a lad, and have always been proud of Torrington's, and that
is why I am anxious to save it from collapse.'

'I believe Lenny is just as proud of it as you are,' said his wife.

'I should hope so. I don't think much of a lad who is not proud and
fond of his school, and ready to fight for its honour against all
antagonists.'

'I think all Torrington's lads feel the same about their school,' said
Mrs. Morrison. 'But suppose some of them should think a poor boy, who
is dependent upon a scholarship for his schooling, beneath the rest of
the scholars? I cannot forget the old trouble,' she added.

'Then they must learn to know better! Learn to consider that there is
something more in the world than money worth consideration. This is
what I am afraid is spoiling some of the Torrington boys just now, and
it is high time it was checked. We talked this aspect of the matter
over at the Council meeting--for there are several old boys among us
who are proud of our school--and we agreed that a little new blood
among these purse-proud young gentlemen would do them a world of good,
and I hope this boy may be what is needed among them. As for the old
trouble,' went on Dr. Morrison, 'that is left behind, I hope; but you
must remember that it arose from a very different cause. Your brother
Dick behaved very badly to more than one of my patients, and so
disgraced us.'

'Poor, dear Dick!' said the lady with a sigh; 'I am sure he never
intended to do us any harm.'

'I never thought he did. No one who knew Dick would think that of him;
but the misery came to us all the same, and Dick was responsible for
it.'

This allusion to her brother brought the tears to Mrs. Morrison's
eyes. He had been such a bright, winning lad. When he was the age of
Leonard he had only one fault that she would admit, even now, and that
was that he was too easily led. He could not say 'No,' though not to
say it and abide by it under the circumstances was wrong. This ended
at last in what was little less than a crime, for which they had to
pay the penalty in a long struggle against adverse circumstances, and
eventually to leave Liverpool, and return to Mr. Morrison's native
town and begin the world afresh.

This ending to what might have been a bright and honourable career for
her brother, and a no less prosperous one for her husband, was a very
bitter trial to the lady; and though Dr. Morrison's practice was now
steadily increasing, anything that rendered him less popular might
bring back the old trouble she feared.

In thinking thus she, of course, exaggerated the circumstances in
every way, for, in point of fact, not even Mrs. Howard knew that it
was through the doctor's influence that Horace was sent to the same
school with his own son; and as the name of Morrison was not mentioned
by Horace, she did not know that he was there for some time. Her son
was industrious and fond of scientific study, and had fairly won the
scholarship, she was assured by the schoolmaster. He was very proud to
add that Horace was the first scholarship boy who had been sent by the
County Council to Torrington's. But that her doctor had had anything
to do with the selection of a school for Horace she knew nothing.

She heard afterwards that it was the best school in the county; but
she thought more of whether Horace would be able to do the lessons
required of him, without overworking himself, and also whether she
would be able to keep him suitably clothed, so that he did not look
particular among the other lads.

The school was nearly two miles from their home, so that he would wear
out his boots very fast, she reflected, when considering ways and
means. There was a small allowance made for this, after the school
fees were paid out of the scholarship money, and it was the
consideration of this that made Horace resume wearing the old jacket,
when his mother wished him to keep on with his best one, which he had
worn for the first week or two.

In fact, he had worn the best jacket until he was so mysteriously sent
to Coventry, and though he carefully kept this fact to himself, it was
the underlying meaning of what he told her when he said it would make
no difference to him at school whether he wore a new or an old jacket.

Of the bitterness underlying the words that were said, that she should
not spend too much on his clothes, she knew nothing. Indeed, after the
first week or two Horace was very reticent about what passed at
school, rarely mentioned a schoolfellow by name, and seemed absorbed
in his lessons all the evening. He talked sometimes to Fred about his
mysterious idea, which she knew was connected with chemistry; but
beyond this she knew very little of her boy's life at this time.
Sometimes he looked worried as he sat poring over his books, as though
they were a little beyond his power, she thought; and then she would
say, 'Now, Horace, if you are getting tired, give it up. You know
going to this school is quite an experiment for you, and if you fail
to keep up with the rest it will be no disgrace to own it. You have
been looking pale the last day or two.'

'I feel quite well, mother; and as to keeping up with the rest, well,
you should see the young giant who is always at the bottom of the
class.' And Horace laughed as he mentally recalled the perpetually
yawning figure of Curtis, with his back propped against the wall. 'I
believe he would go to sleep outright if it wasn't for the master
saying, "Now, Curtis, keep your ears and eyes open!"'

'Poor fellow! perhaps he does not feel able to do the work,' said Mrs.
Howard pityingly.

'Well, he doesn't let lessons trouble him much. He and "the cock of
the walk," that's another big chap who doesn't care much about books,
they take it pretty easy, except when they get an "impot," and that
takes all their dinner time.'

'And what do you do at dinner time?' asked his brother at this point.

'Eat my dinner, to be sure,' answered Horace.

'Well, you don't look much the better for it. Mother, I'm going to be
paid an extra shilling a week, and I vote it goes in dinners for the
boy with an idea,' said Fred.

'No! No! I can do very well, and I enjoy my dinner hours now, for I
often go up to the "lab.," and have a nice time to myself. Mr. Skeats
told me I might go, if I did not take any of the other boys with me.
You see, some of them might get up to larks, and----'

'Why don't you get up to larks?' interrupted his brother.

Horace laughed, 'Oh, you know that isn't much in my way, and there's
room for everybody in a big school like Torrington's.'

'I wish the youngster did not look so serious,' said Fred, after his
brother had gone to bed that night.

'He always was quiet,' remarked his mother.

'Quiet, yes; but now he looks up from his book sometimes, as though he
had a world of care upon his mind.'

'Perhaps he is thinking over his "idea." You know he could talk of
nothing else for a day or two,' said Mrs. Howard.

'Well, he doesn't talk much now, at any rate, and I am wondering
whether he is quite happy at that school.'

'But surely he would tell us if he was not. I have asked him again and
again. I think he would tell us if there was anything wrong.'

'Now, mother, don't vex yourself, or I shall be sorry I have spoken.
Just let that extra shilling a week I am to have go for the
youngster's mid-day meal. Get him something better than bread and
butter to take with him--sandwiches or a little meat-pie. They say
people who work with their brains want as much to eat as those who
work with their hands, and I am sure two slices of bread and butter
wouldn't satisfy me at twelve o'clock.'



CHAPTER V.

THE CHAMPION.


'Mother, I think I shall be obliged to wear that other jacket to go to
school,' said Horace one evening as he ate his dinner.

He had come home from school looking almost radiant, and his mother
had heard incidentally that one of the other boys had walked most of
the way with him.

'But I thought you said no one lived this way?' said Mrs. Howard.

'Oh, I think Warren came out of his way a bit that we might finish our
talk! He likes history awfully, and so do I a bit, and we got talking
about those old battles, and almost forgot the time. Now, mother,
don't you think I had better take my best jacket for school? The
sleeves of this are getting so short.'

His mother laughed.

'Why, I told you the same thing a month ago,' she said, 'but you
insisted that it did not matter!'

'Well, you know, I don't want to cost you more than I am obliged for
clothes, and I thought I might wear the old jacket a bit longer, as I
should wear out so many boots; but now----' And there Horace stopped,
lest he should say something that might betray how his schoolfellows
had treated him lately.

'You must be careful to wear the linen apron and sleeves while you do
your chemistry work,' remarked his mother, 'for you are beginning to
make the old one a variegated colour.'

'All right, I'll be careful; but I thought Warren looked at my hands
poking too far through the sleeves of that old one, and Warren is a
nice fellow; I should not like to hurt his feelings,' said Horace.

'Ah! you find that some lads are more particular about their clothes
than you are. Yes, wear the best jacket by all means, and I have no
doubt I shall be able to buy you a new one when you want it.'

So the matter was settled, and the next morning he met his new friend
as they had arranged, and the two boys had a pleasant chat on all
sorts of subjects as they walked along the road. Just before the
school was reached, and when they came within sight of other groups of
boys, Horace stopped short, and said--

'Now you had better go on; it don't matter if I am late, I have plenty
of time in the dinner hour to do the imposition.'

'What do you mean--what do you take me for?' said Warren, thrusting
his arm through his companion's.

'Well, you know the school have sent me to Coventry lately; and if you
know what for, it's more than I do, so that it isn't likely to alter
its opinion in a hurry,' said Horace.

'Oh, the school be bothered!' said Warren. 'Of course a fellow has to
do the same as the rest when he is at school, but "the cock of the
walk" is going a bit too far this time, and I mean to let the whole
lot see that I won't follow the lead, when I don't think it's fair and
square. If they had any good reason for sending you to Coventry, I'd
see you hanged before I'd try to take your part; but I like fair play,
and it is not a fair game they are playing against you now.'

'But suppose they send you to Coventry as well?' said Horace.

'Oh, they will, you bet. Taylor and Curtis and that crowd are sure to
do it, and I dare say they will rage like a bull in a china shop. Come
on here. They see we are going in arm-in-arm.'

A storm of hisses greeted their appearance at the school gate, and
Horace changed colour and his arm shook; but Warren gripped him the
tighter, so that he could not get away.

'Is it worth while sticking to me if the rest don't like it?'
whispered Horace.

'Is anything worth fighting for as those old Englishmen fought in the
Civil War--Hampden and that lot?' Warren's face was flaming, and he
held his head high, as he led Horace through the hooting crowd of
boys, while he asked this question loud enough for any of them to
hear.

Horace did not answer. He almost wished Warren would leave him alone.
But this was not that gentleman's way. 'I tell you what it is,
Howard,' he said, when they had reached the comparative shelter of the
playground, where the hooting had to cease, for fear the master should
insist upon knowing what it was about. 'I have been thinking a lot of
what we were talking about last night, and it's my opinion that there
would not be so many tyrants in the world if they did not find easy
victims. You knuckled under to "the cock of the walk" at the first
touch, when you ought to have said, "Now, what do you mean by sending
me to Coventry? What rule of the school have I broken?"'

'Ah, but you know we are not rich people. I am only a scholarship boy,
and come from a board school.'

'As if I didn't know that. As if my pater has not told me a dozen
times lately that he wishes he had sent me to a board school when I
was young. Bless you, we are not rich. My father is only a doctor,
like Morrison's, and there are swarms and swarms of children in the
nursery, so you may know we haven't got money to roll in, like Curtis.
No, old fellow, we are two poor boys, and so we'll just stand shoulder
to shoulder, and fight the lot, if they want to fight us. Now mind,
you've got to fight for me, and I'll fight for you; and we'll let 'em
see what two can do, if nobody else joins us. Little Morrison will,
though I think Taylor has led him a dog's life lately; and so I should
think he would be glad enough to cut that shop, and join Howard and
Co.'

Horace laughed as he had not done since he had been at Torrington's.
He was ready enough to fight for his new friend, and when one or two
tried to hustle them apart as they were going to school, he did not
hesitate to push one of them off, when he was crowding down upon
Warren.

The boy turned and scowled at Horace. 'Who are you?' he demanded
angrily.

'The scholarship boy, and this is my friend,' he said, still holding
on to Warren, and dealing some sharp thrusts at those who were trying
to push between them. There could be no great demonstration here in
the lobby of the school, or the masters would want to know what the
quarrel was about.

At dinner time there was little opportunity for the new friends to
meet, for the science master, if he did not know, shrewdly guessed the
attitude taken by the rest of the class towards the scholarship boy,
and so had contrived to find something for him to do in the chemistry
laboratory during the recess; and Horace was only too glad of the
change to do a little extra practical work towards the elucidation of
his idea, which grew all the more interesting, as he saw it would need
great care and industry to arrive at the result.

But when afternoon school was over Warren waited about until Horace
appeared, and then he said, 'Just go on a little way, while I speak to
Morrison. I want him to come with us, for I know that "cock of the
walk" is bullying him, and if he'll just join us we shall be three to
the other lot. Little Morrison isn't a bad sort of fellow, when you
can get him to make up his mind, and the Curtis lot are getting a deal
too cocky.'

So Horace walked on to the corner of the road, and Warren waited for
Leonard; but the moment Taylor saw him speak to the lad he pounced
down upon him. 'Now look here, Morrison,' he said, 'if you go talking
to Warren now he's joined that fellow in Coventry, you'll be sent
there yourself by the rest of the school. I'll give you a week to
think over what we were talking about at dinner time;' and Taylor, as
he spoke, slipped his arm into Leonard's and walked him off, leaving
Warren to try and persuade another boy to join him in his walk home
with Horace.

But the Taylor and Curtis party were too strong just now for another
to rebel against their rule, and so the two lads walked home by
themselves, amid the derisive cheers of Taylor and a few others.

This state of things continued for a few days--the two friends
learning to know and like each other better each time they met, and
cared less for the company of others. Then a quarrel broke out in the
ranks of the popular party, and Warren heard that Taylor was so
hectoring the others as to what they should do, that at last, out of
sheer perversity, two or three came to walk home with them, and held a
discussion concerning Taylor and his ways that ought to have made that
young gentleman's ears tingle.

'We're all in Coventry now, of course,' said one boy, 'and I vote that
we make ourselves jolly over it. I say, Howard, I want you to tell me
how you get your lessons done, for you're always ready with an answer,
and I've been so floored lately that I've had a private message if I
don't do better I shall have to go down among the juniors, and that
would make my people wild.'

Horace laughed at the idea of there being any royal road to the
acquisition of lessons but the one of careful, steady, thoughtful
study.

'Then you do swat awfully, as the fellows say, and that's what they
are so mad about. Taylor says Torrington's will be nothing better than
a swatting shop, and no place for gentlemen, if it isn't stopped.'

Horace opened his eyes. 'I thought we went to school that we might
learn all we could!' he said.

'Oh, Torrington's has got so fashionable that fellows have come to
think of it as an easy-going place, where they need not work if they
don't like it.'

'Just what my pater says!' exclaimed Warren. 'And he told me that if I
didn't turn over a new leaf he should send me somewhere else. Now I
propose we make ourselves into a swatting club. I believe Mr. Mason
would be glad if we did.'

'I'm sure Skeats would,' said another.

'Well, there are six of us here. Suppose we agree that we'll stick to
our work of an evening till we've got our lessons perfect for the
next day.'

'Won't Taylor be mad when he finds it out!' said another. But, as
Taylor had offended them, the suggestion added piquancy to the notion.
And so before they separated each pledged himself to join the new
swatting club. It was not an elegant name for a party of students to
call themselves, but the object of the combination was good, and was
warmly commended by the parents, who were taken into the confidence of
their sons.

If the little party of students thought they were going to have an
easy time of it at school, they were mistaken; for Taylor and the more
popular party soon found out by the answers given in the classes what
the new combination meant, and he was more angry than ever.

'A parcel of beggars who set themselves up to be gentlemen have no
business at Torrington's; and the sooner they take themselves off the
better!' he exclaimed angrily, when discussing this new departure with
a few of his chosen friends.

Warren overheard what he said, and was not averse to a duel of words
with 'the cock of the walk.'

'Who do you call gentlemen?' he demanded--'those who live in glass
houses, and the son of a man who used to keep----'

Taylor did not wait to hear more. Before the objectionable word could
be spoken Warren received a blow that felled him to the ground.

It came so unexpectedly and was struck so unfairly that there was an
instant cry of, 'Coward! coward! Fight it fair and square!'

'All right, let him come on,' said Taylor. But Warren was in no fit
condition to stand up to his antagonist just now, for he had struck
his head as he had fallen, and lay for a minute or two quite
unconscious. Some of the boys grew alarmed, and all were glad to see
the boy open his eyes and the colour slowly return to his face. They
were outside the school premises when the incident occurred, and they
all took care to walk away as quickly as they could, lest the master's
attention should be called to the quarrel, and they be compelled to
give an account of it, which would not have been at all to their
taste, as they preferred to manage their own affairs in their own way,
with as little interference from the masters as possible in what they
regarded as their own private business.

Taylor was one of the first to walk off when he saw Warren was getting
better, and the rest, who had hoped to enjoy the spectacle of a fight,
were disappointed. There were plenty to urge Warren to 'take it out'
of Taylor another day, and plenty more to side with the bigger lad,
and urge him to 'have it out' with Warren for his 'cheek' in daring to
dispute the authority of the majority of the class, and speak to the
scholarship boy when he had been sent to Coventry.

Leonard Morrison was one of the foremost in urging Taylor to fight it
out.

'The school expects it of you,' urged Leonard. 'He said your father
was----'

'Shut up, will you!' snarled Taylor, turning his angry gaze upon
Leonard. 'If he has taken that fellow out of Coventry, it was a plucky
thing to do in the face of the whole class, and I like pluck,' he
added, 'though I may get the kicks.'

It was plain that 'the cock of the walk' was seriously hurt or alarmed
by what Warren had said, for he ceased to crow as loudly as usual, and
walked home without noticing what his satellites said, his eyes bent
on the ground, and evidently lost in thought over something that
disturbed him more than the prospect of a fight with Warren.

Of course, as this was the latest phase of the scholarship boy
question, it occupied more of the thought and attention than the
earlier question; and so Horace walked into school the next morning
chatting with one or two others, and no protesting hisses were
raised.

It was noticed that Warren was not with him, and he looked round
anxiously from time to time in search of his friend. But the day
passed, and he did not appear, and the boys' spirits were damped a
little in consequence, for they remembered now that they had heard
that a blow on the head might prove dangerous to Warren.

But, to the relief of everybody, the two friends were seen coming
along the road together the next morning, and when Taylor appeared
round a bend in the road Warren walked up and joined him.

'Look here, Taylor, I had no business to say what I did the other day,
for I can't fight you, it seems. My father has forbidden it,
because----'

'Then you won't repeat what you said the other day?' interrupted
Taylor eagerly.

'What do you take me for? I should be a cad if I did. Besides, I can
see now that I have no business to blame you for what----No, I'm not
going to say anything,' he whispered, in answer to Taylor's frown.
'Let every tub stand on its own bottom, I say.'

'All right, old fellow, we'll let the matter drop, then, and, mind,
mum is the word between us.'

'Right you are,' said Warren, and then he ran off to join Horace, for
he had drawn Taylor aside to say this, as neither of them wished
their talk to be overheard.

Whatever it might be that Warren had heard concerning the antecedents
of Taylor's family, he could not be more sensitive upon the point than
Warren was over his inability to fight without danger to his life. For
a schoolboy to be told that he cannot stand up in a fair, square fight
without bringing the danger to his antagonist of being charged with
manslaughter, had brought such a shock to the boy that it was this,
rather than the effects of the fall, that made his father forbid him
going to school the previous day. The lad had wondered how he was to
get out of finishing the fight already begun; and it demanded a
greater amount of courage on his part to walk up to Taylor and ask him
to let the matter end where it was, than to stand up before him for a
turn at fisticuffs, even with the almost dead certainty of getting the
worst of it.

He had told his secret to Horace as he came along, glad of a confidant
who would understand his difficulty; and Horace had counselled that he
should make up his quarrel with Taylor, even though it involved
throwing him over, if Taylor should make the demand.

Warren shook his head. 'I shan't do that,' he said. 'I think we shall
find another way, and you can tell the fellows we have agreed to cry
quits. But don't tell them I can't stand up and fight, for fear the
other fellow should get sent to prison afterwards. That's the dreadful
part about it, and that's what my father says would be pretty sure to
follow. What an awful muff I must be!' sighed the boy, 'worse than any
girl!'

'But look here, you've just done something that took a lot more
courage of another sort,' said Horace, who was ready to make a hero of
his new friend for managing the affair with Taylor without throwing
him over. 'You did a plucky thing too, speaking to me in the face of
all the class.'

'Oh, that was just part of the fight that is in me. I believe I was
born a fighter, and now for the sake of other people I must be mum,
and go through the world like a girl.'

'I don't know anything about girls; I never had a sister, so I can't
tell what they are like, but I know you will have plenty of the other
sort of courage when it is wanted, so you need not mind much, if you
can't fight with your fists.'

They had reached the crowd of boys near the gate now, and two or three
pressed eagerly forward, to know when and where the fight was to come
off.

'We've settled it now,' answered Warren.

'Bosh! Don't believe it, boys. They are just going off to have it out
by themselves.'

'You're not going to let Warren off, are you, Taylor?' shouted another
lad, as Taylor appeared.

'Shut up and mind your own business, and leave Warren and me to settle
our own affairs in our own way!' And having said this, he pushed his
way through the crowd and marched straight into school.



CHAPTER VI.

FOR THE HONOUR OF THE SCHOOL.


'How is your friend Warren to-day, Len?' asked Mr. Morrison, on the
day when the boys thought the adjourned fight ought to have come off.

'Warren's no friend of mine now, he's an awful sneak!' said Leonard,
angrily. He was greatly mystified over the fight not taking place, for
he intended to support Taylor, and at least do part of the cheering on
his side; and the collapse of the whole affair annoyed him, and he
chose to consider it was Warren's fault. 'He just funked it you know,
dad,' he said, when he explained the matter to his father.

'I don't know so much about that,' said Mr. Morrison; 'I met his
father yesterday, and he told me he had forbidden his son to engage in
a fight, either now or at any future time, and I asked him if he
thought his son would obey him.'

'"Yes, I do!" he said, and seemed quite confident that his boy would
respect his wishes, and I wondered whether he was right. So Warren
junior refused to fight, did he?' said Mr. Morrison. 'It was a plucky
thing to do, and I like a boy who can say "No," and stick to it.'

'The fellows are saying it was beastly mean of him, and he funked it
because Taylor is a bigger fellow.'

'Ah! boys often jump to wrong conclusions. It isn't the only plucky
thing Warren has done. Have you joined the swatting club yet, my boy?'

'What did you say, father?' asked Leonard, with widely opened eyes.

'The formation of a swatting club is the last new move, I hear, at
Torrington's. To swat is to study, I understand--is that right?'

'Oh yes, the word is right enough; but who told you about it?'

'Is it a secret, then? Didn't you know about it--haven't you been
asked to join it?'

'No! they wouldn't ask me; it isn't likely; for all the school know
that I am trying to keep up the honour of Torrington's--keep it from
going to the dogs, in fact,' said the boy, loftily, but with an angry
tone in his voice.

'I am glad to hear it, Len. I was a Torrington boy in my time, and I
love the old school still.'

'Then, father, what did you send that beastly scholarship boy there
for?' burst out Leonard, scarcely knowing what he said in his anger.

'Leonard! Leonard!' chided his mother.

'I beg your pardon, mother, but it is what the fellows are always
saying, and I forgot.'

'But why should the boys be vexed that the County Council chose to
send one of the most promising of their scholars to that school? Has
he done anything to offend you?'

'We don't give him the chance, and we want you, father, to take him
away at once. Don't you see the honour of the school is at stake, and
the fellows like Curtis and Taylor----'

The doctor held up his hand to stop the boy's angry flow of words. 'We
won't discuss those gentlemen, if you please,' he said.

'But they are always discussing it,' exclaimed Leonard.

'Very foolish of them,' interrupted Mr. Morrison. 'But now tell me
what you mean by the honour of the school, and why this lad has
endangered it.'

'He comes from a board school, which, of course, is intended for poor,
common people,' answered the boy.

'But "poor, common people" must be taught, you know; and now, if they
possess the brains, they have the right to learn to use them as well
as those who are better off. From Dr. Mason's report to the Council,
this lad has given every satisfaction while he has been at the school,
and I had hoped that you would have made his acquaintance by this
time, and that I might have learned a little more about him from your
point of view.'

Leonard shook his head. 'You must go to Warren for that; he has chosen
to take him up in defiance of the whole school, and--and----' he
stopped, dimly conscious that in his anger he had already said too
much. Mr. Morrison was called away from the table at this point, and
Leonard felt relieved that no further questions could be asked.

Later he went to the little room where lessons were learned, and found
his sister sitting in her usual place. 'Mother wished me to come,
Len,' she said, in explanation of her presence.

'All right, Duffy--not that you are such a duffer,' he added, 'and I
shall try to find another name for you.'

'Oh, Duffy will do. Don't waste your time thinking about another name
for me. What's in a name after all? It's what you are, not what name
you are called by. I say, what is this swatting club father has heard
about? You never told me about it.'

'Never heard of it myself before. Won't Taylor be mad when I tell him,
for if there is one thing he hates it is swat! He says it's low and
vulgar, and not fit for a school like Torrington's.'

'But you know father doesn't think that, and I am sure you ought to
know that father is wiser than Taylor, if he is the biggest boy in the
school.'

'As if that made any difference! You're just as much of a duffer as
ever, to think such a thing,' he added.

'Well, what is it about Taylor that makes you call him the "cock of
the walk?" I met him at a party last week, and I did not think much of
him, I can tell you.'

'Ah! that's because you are a girl, and don't know anything. Taylor is
a jolly fellow.'

'Well, I'm glad he's not my brother, for he is not very kind to his
sister, and he was quite rude to his mother. He is no gentleman, and
so he has no right to find fault with father because he sent a board
school boy to sit with him at Torrington's.'

Leonard only laughed at his sister's denunciation of his hero; but he
was curious to learn what had been said about this swatting
club--whether she had heard it spoken of before to-day. 'I should like
to know how long they have been at it, and who are in it,' he said.

'Father said Warren and the scholarship boy; he was telling mother
about it when you came in.'

'Oh, that scholarship boy is at the bottom of the whole mischief, of
course,' said Leonard; 'but I should like to know how many more are in
it; it's no good going to Taylor with half a tale. Won't he be mad,
when he hears of this last move! Warren is forbidden to fight, too! I
wonder why that is? Something wrong with his head, I shouldn't
wonder,' added Leonard, after a minute's thought.

'Why, what makes you think that?' asked Florence.

'Because when Taylor knocked him down the other day he lay still as
though he were dead for a minute or two, and never turned up at school
all the next day. What larks if he can't fight! I'll put Taylor on to
that, and see what he can make of it.'

'Len, how can you like to do such mean things? I wish father had not
told you about it; but, of course, he never thought you were going to
peach to the rest of the school about it, and especially to that
vulgar thing Taylor.'

'Now, Duffy, that "vulgar thing" is your brother's chosen friend, so
of course you don't like him, for I've noticed lately that if I like
anything or anybody, you take a dislike to them directly.'

'Yes, because the things and the people you like are never nice.
Mother was saying the other day she hoped you would not grow up like
somebody she knew. I did not hear his name, but she sighed as she said
it, and father did not smile or say anything when he heard her say
it.'

'Look here, Duffy, you need not talk about those sort of things; I
shall grow up all right, never fear. What I want to know is who are in
the swatting lot besides Warren and the scholarship boy? Find that out
for me, will you?'

'No, indeed, I will not, unless you promise to join them, and I don't
believe you mean to do that, although you know father would like it.'

'I wonder whether he joined a swatting club when he went to
Torrington's?' rejoined Leonard.

'I will ask him when he comes home,' replied his sister. 'Now I must
begin my lessons; I have done them better lately, my governess says,
and if I only work steadily on, I shall get a prize at Christmas.

Her brother whistled. 'Half-a-crown book for six months' work. That
game don't pay except for duffers,' he said in a tone of contempt.

'I would rather be a duffer than some people who think themselves so
clever. Now don't hinder me, but get on with your own lessons, and let
me learn mine,' said his sister.

'Swat! swat! swat! with fingers and brain and pen,' sung her brother,
while Florence propped her head on her hands and stared at her book.
Then the door opened, and Mrs. Morrison appeared.

'Lenny, I want to have a little talk with you. Playing again, my boy;
I knew some one else who chose to play a great deal of his time away
at school, but he has bitterly repented it since. Perhaps you had
better take your books up to your own room, dear,' she said, turning
to Florence; 'I thought you might help each other if you did them
together again, but when I heard Lenny singing I knew it was no good.'

Mrs. Morrison said that while Florence was gathering up her books, and
when she had gone upstairs, she took her seat facing Leonard and had a
long talk with him. She told him what his father had heard concerning
one portion of the school; that it was becoming almost lawless in its
determination not to learn more than the masters could force upon
them. 'He told you too that he heard to-day of a few boys who had
separated themselves from this party, and were determined to profit by
the instruction given, and learn the home lessons to the best of their
ability.'

Mrs. Morrison saw Leonard's lip curl as she spoke in admiration of
these lads. 'They're just a set of cads!' he muttered under his
breath.

'No, they are not; and it is your father's wish, and mine too, that
you should join this section of the school, and learn your home
lessons as well as you possibly can. We do all we can to help you, and
Florence is quite willing to come back and do her lessons here, if you
do not hinder her. Now will you promise me, Lenny, to turn over a new
leaf, and set your mind steadily to the tasks that may be set for you,
instead of wasting your time in play as you have done lately?'

'I don't mind doing my lessons,' grunted Leonard ungraciously, 'but I
don't see why father should want me to join that scholarship lot at
school.'

'He wishes it because they are a steady set of lads, and you are
easily led into mischief by your companions.'

'What mischief have I done?' angrily demanded the boy.

'Well, I don't know that there has been any particular mischief,'
admitted his mother; 'but your father is not very satisfied with the
way things have been going on at school lately. You know the last
report was far from satisfactory, and your father said you were just
wasting your time, instead of learning all you could. Now promise me,
dear, that you will make a new beginning.'

Leonard stared at his book and drummed on the table in silence, and
Mrs. Morrison, feeling that she had said enough for once, rose and
left the room. She hoped that Leonard would think over what she had
said and act upon it, although he had not given the promise that she
asked.

She went back to the drawing-room and sat down to think, and her
thoughts wandered to that brother whom her son so strangely resembled;
and she prayed that God would save her boy from wrecking his life and
bringing misery to his friends, as this beloved brother had done.

Now Leonard chose to be half offended over what his mother had said to
him. 'Mother wants me to be like a duffing girl,' he whispered to
himself as she left the room. 'I wonder who it is she was telling me
about. Somebody who has got himself into a nice scrape, and been
obliged to leave England. It was a nice thing to be told I was like
this scapegrace,' he muttered. But, in spite of his anger, he did
manage to learn something of his lessons that night before he went to
bed; and he might have got on fairly well in class, if he had not met
Taylor early in his walk to school. Taylor was brimming over with the
importance of a piece of news he had heard.

'What do you think, Morrison? There are a lot of sneaks in the school
who have set up a swatting club without saying a word to us about it!'

'Yes, I know; my pater has heard of it, and wants me to join it.'

'You'll never do it, Morrison!' exclaimed the elder lad.

'Not if I know it. What do you take me for? Isn't it enough to be
worried by the masters? No, thank you; I'm going to stick to my
friends.'

'Yes, and you must fight with them too, unless you want to see
Torrington's ruined as a school for gentlemen. That's what my pater
says, and I guess he knows as much as most. He has made his pile;
means I shall be a gentleman, and that is all he cares for. Lessons be
blowed! They're all very well for scholarship boys and such cads. Your
father ought to be ashamed of himself ever to have sent that board
school boy among gentlemen, and the beggar will have to go!'

Leonard did not reply, for he did not like to hear any action of his
father blamed, and so he walked along in silence, while Taylor poured
out further angry denunciations until the school was reached.

During the course of the class lessons that morning it became very
evident that there was a dividing line between those who had carefully
studied their subjects and the rest of the class. Warren, Howard, and
seven or eight other lads held the top part of the class in all
subjects, and Taylor, Morrison, and the rest of that part kept
steadily at the bottom.

'I've had enough of this,' said Taylor when they came into the
playground after dinner. 'That scholarship boy is at the bottom of the
whole thing, and we must get rid of him.'

'You've said that before,' grumbled Curtis.

'Yes, I know I have, and I hoped Morrison would persuade his pater to
do the job for us, as he brought him in; but it don't seem as though
he was going to move in the matter, and so _I_ shall, and little
Morrison must help me.'

'But what are you going to do?' asked Leonard.

'That's my business. All you've got to do is what I tell you, and to
ask no questions.'

Curtis lifted his sleepy eyes and looked at Taylor with a little more
interest.

'What is it to be?' he asked.

'Well, I mean to stink him out; it will all be done up in the
stinkery.'

'The stinkery'--or stink-room, to give it its proper title--was a small
slip-room divided from the laboratory by a close wooden partition with
several ventilating shafts, under which noisome-smelling chemicals could be
used without causing any annoyance to the students working in the general
laboratory.

'That scholarship boy shall have enough of his precious slops. I'll
let Skeats know whether he shall favour a fellow because the rest of
us have sent him to Coventry!'

'Why, what has Skeats done?' asked one of the lads; for the science
master was a favourite among most of the boys.

'Can't you see what he's doing every day? That sneak from the board
school pretends to have "an idea," whatever that may be, and goes
talking to old Skeats about it, and so he lets him go up to the "lab."
every dinner-time to work at it. Don't you see the little game? We
can't make him feel he is in Coventry, if he is taken out of our way.
But I am going to upset this family party, and I mean little Morrison
shall help me. It's only fair, as his father brought the fellow here,
that he should be used to get rid of him.'

'What do you want me to do?' asked Leonard, turning pale, and
heartily wishing himself out of the way.

'Why, you shall get the stuff we want. Your father is a doctor, and so
it will be easy enough.'

'But the pater does not keep a store of chemicals,' said Leonard.

'Who said he did? I said he was a doctor, and I suppose you can't deny
that, can you?'

Leonard looked offended, and was turning away, but Taylor soon fetched
him back. 'Look here, little Morrison, it's no good funking. You can
do this job better than anybody else, and you've got to do it. I don't
want you to steal your father's stuff, but you must get two of his
bottles, and go to get what I shall tell you, and if the people at the
drug store ask you whether it is for your father, why, of course you
must say, "Yes." Now mind, mum must be the word, for I'm not going to
tell all the crowd what I'm going to do. Curtis is going to find half
the money, and I'll find the other half. Here's half a sovereign. I
don't know what the things will cost, any more than the man in the
moon, but I shall want the things I have put down in this paper; and
tell them to fasten them down tight, so that they don't leak out; for
you'll have to keep 'em in your bag till I can use 'em to-morrow.'

'Must I get them to-night?' asked Leonard, wishing he could tell
Taylor he would not do it.

'Yes, you _must_!' answered the 'cock of the walk' in a masterful
tone. 'Now, mind you don't lose the money, and be sure you bring the
right chemicals.'



CHAPTER VII.

NEWS FOR MRS. MORRISON.


'Oh dear, how late you are for luncheon! it always happens so, if I
want you to come home early!'

'Can't help it, my dear,' said Dr. Morrison, as he began to take off
his coat.

But his wife was too impatient to let him do it this time. 'Come in
here while they put luncheon on the table,' she said, and she drew him
into the little room. 'I have had a letter. Guess who it is from.'

But Dr. Morrison shook his head. 'I am too hungry to guess anything,'
he said. 'Is it from the man in the moon?'

'Almost as wonderful,' said the lady. 'It is from Dick, dear old Dick!
I feel ready to jump for joy.'

The doctor stood still and looked at his wife in blank amazement.
'From Dick? your brother Dick?' he said at last.

'Oh dear, don't speak like that, as though the poor fellow had ever
done anything wicked! I have heard you say many times that he was
only weak, not wicked.'

'Yes, yes, I know he is only weak; only too ready to say "Yes," and be
led into mischief, when he ought to say "No," and stand to it. Think
what his easy-going ways have cost us.'

'No, no, I can't think of that now,' interrupted the lady. 'I can only
remember that he is my only brother, and I want you to take me to him
at once. I have not seen him for five years,' she added, 'and he begs
that you will go to him at once, because he has a friend with him who
needs your attention at once. He says he met with him out in the wilds
of Australia, and he has been the best friend he ever had--that this
Mr. Howard has saved him body and soul. But he has fallen ill, through
disappointment at not receiving a letter from his wife as soon as he
landed. That he has not heard from her for years, because he had to
leave England in a hurry, a great many years ago.'

'Why, that might be written of Dick himself,' said the doctor, with a
smile. '"Birds of a feather," you know the old proverb!'

'Oh, but Dick must have altered, I am sure, for he says that he and
Mr. Howard have both worked very hard, and made a moderate fortune, or
they would not have come home to England again. That is not like the
old Dick, is it?'

'No, my dear, for he generally let other people do the hard work,
while he dreamed of what he would like to do. But now let me see this
letter.'

'Luncheon is served, ma'am,' said the housemaid, tapping at the door
at this moment.

The doctor and his wife were to have the meal alone to-day, and so the
servant's service was dispensed with, that they might discuss this
wonderful letter, for wonderful it was, even the doctor had to
confess, when he had read it.

There was far more about his friend, whose wife and family he was
anxious to find, than there was about the writer himself; but the most
interesting piece of information was in the postscript.

'My friend has just heard that his wife went to live in the
neighbourhood of your town. Can you make inquiries? She has two sons,
Frederick and Horace. The latter would be about thirteen, I think.'

The doctor dropped the letter and gazed at his wife. 'I wonder whether
it is the father of that scholarship boy!' he almost gasped.

'What scholarship boy?' asked Mrs. Morrison impatiently.

'Why, the one that was sent from the board school to Torrington's.
His father was entered as a traveller, I believe, and he was said to
be abroad. My dear, put your things on, and we will drive round and
see this Mrs. Howard. She lives at that old-fashioned cottage just
outside the town.'

'Oh, but I want to go and see Dick!' said the lady.

'And we will go, if possible; but I shall have to see Warren first,
and we must do as Dick wishes, and inquire for his friend's wife
before we go.'

Dr. Morrison was not a man to let the grass grow under his feet, and
so the carriage was ordered at once, and in half an hour they were on
their way to the cottage.

A very few words convinced the doctor that he had found the lady he
was seeking; and when she had read all that was said about her husband
she readily agreed to go with the doctor and Mrs. Morrison to London.
While the doctor went to his friend Warren, she wrote a letter
explaining something of what had happened, and that she was going with
Dr. Morrison to London. This she sent by a messenger to Fred at his
work, asking him to tell Horace something of what had occurred, and
also to meet his brother when he came home to tea.

Fred was not a little puzzled when he received this letter, but he
asked to be allowed to leave a little earlier, and so managed to
reach home just as Horace appeared at the bend of the lane.

'I tried to get here before you, but you were too quick for me,' he
said, when his brother rushed in at the garden gate.

'Where's mother?' asked Horace, when he saw Fred take the street-door
key from his pocket.

'Come indoors, and I'll tell you all I know. Let me light the fire
first,' he added. Fred had learned to be very handy about the house,
and he soon had the fire blazing under the kettle; and while it boiled
he told Horace that a letter had been sent to him early in the
afternoon from his mother, saying that she had just received news of
his father, who was ill in London. 'Dr. Morrison came and told her all
about it, and he has gone to London with her.'

'Dr. Morrison!' repeated Horace. 'Why, Morrison is in my class at
school; and the doctor is his father, I know.'

'What sort of a fellow is young Morrison?' asked Fred. He was handing
cups and saucers to Horace, who was setting them ready for tea.

'Oh, Morrison is all right,' said Horace, who was clattering the cups
and saucers; for he did not want to discuss his school troubles with
his brother. 'I don't see much of him, because he likes to go with
the bigger boys. I say, Fred, do you remember our father?' said
Horace; 'he's been gone away such a long time. We used to have a nice
house and servants when he stayed at home with us, didn't we?'

'Then you remember him, Horry?' said Fred.

But Horace shook his head. 'No, I don't remember a bit about him, only
that we had a nice house a long time ago.'

'Well, I only remember a little,' said Fred. 'But I know he was a tall
gentleman, and I think he was a doctor. He went away to travel, I have
heard mother say, and she thought he must be dead until Dr. Morrison
came this afternoon. I have brought home some sausages,' announced
Fred, who wanted to change the conversation.

He knew so little and remembered so little about his father and those
former days; but as he had grown older he had grown angry that his
father should leave his mother as he had, without cause--so far as
Fred knew--and without explanation, he had heard, and simply gone
abroad to travel, leaving them to battle with poverty as they could.

As time went on he had spoken less and less of his father, but he had
become certain that there must have been some cause for his father's
disappearance, though his mother might not know it; but in his own
mind there was a lurking fear that some disgrace might lie hidden
below the long silence. And so, as soon as tea was over, he said--

'I am going out to get some things for breakfast.'

So Horace was left to the comfort of his books and the study of his
lessons.

When Leonard reached home that same afternoon, Florence met him with
the information that father and mother had both gone out, and Mary the
housemaid did not know what time they would be home.

'Where have they gone?' asked Leonard, for it was a rare occurrence
for both to be away at the same time.

Florence shook her head. 'Mary says that James was sent with a letter
to Mr. Warren, and so I should think father had asked him to look
after some of his patients.'

'Very likely,' answered her brother; and then he took his satchel to
the little room where lessons were studied and sat down to think.

He did not know whether he was glad or sorry to hear that his father
had gone out. As he came along he had made up his mind that it would
be impossible to get bottles from his father's dispensing-room, for he
was never allowed to go there, and it was just possible that his
father had locked the door before going out, in which case he could
tell Taylor that it was impossible to get the chemicals for him, and
there would be an end of it.

But, although he said this, he knew there would not be an end of it,
and if he refused at last to get what was wanted, he would be sent to
Coventry, at least by those whose society he desired.

So after washing his hands before going to tea he went to the
dispensing-room, to find out whether the door could be opened, and
found that it yielded at once. He went in and closed the door, lest
one of the servants should come that way and see him, when they would
be sure to remind him that he was not allowed to go there.

After closing the door he looked round to see what he could find, and
there by the sink was a row of glass-stoppered bottles, evidently
filled with water for washing them. He selected two that he thought
would hold about half a pint each, and pouring out the water he took
them to the study and hid them in a corner out of sight, in case
Florence should decide to do her lessons with him this evening.

But it seemed as though everything was to favour him in what he knew
was wrong-doing. His sister told him at tea-time that she must do her
lessons in her own room, for she had an extra piece of history to
study, as she was working for the history prize to be given at
Christmas.

'Oh, all right,' said Leonard, with his mouth full of bread and jam.
'It's all a girl can do, I suppose, get a prize now and then.'

'You can't do that if you are a boy!' retorted Florence; and then
there was a little more sparring and wrangling, until the housemaid
appeared to clear the table. Florence went upstairs to her lesson
then, and Leonard sauntered off to the little study and lighted the
gas, for it was getting dusk.

When the gas was lighted he went to look at his bottles, and then saw
in the corner, near where he had hidden them, an old leather bag of
his father's. He remembered now that he had been told he might have it
for his books when the satchel was worn out; and he decided to take it
at once. 'This is good fortune indeed! Taylor says he'll take care
nobody finds out, if I only get the stuff there. Taylor is a smart
fellow, and so is his father, or he could not have made a big fortune
in a year or two, as Taylor says he did. My dad won't make one in a
life-time, I'm afraid, and I shall just have to go plodding on at hard
work, unless I can learn a thing or two from Taylor by-and-by.'

While he had been speaking to himself he had been wrapping each bottle
up separately in a piece of old newspaper and putting them into the
bag. Then he took the written paper given him by Taylor and the
half-sovereign, and decided to go at once and get his bottles filled.
He must tell the chemist to seal the stoppers down securely, or there
would be such a smell from the bag that it would betray them before it
could be got into 'the stinkery' at school. He put a book in the bag
as well as the bottles, so that if his sister should discover that he
had been out, he could say he had been to borrow a book from one of
his schoolfellows.

He went out by the back gate, for he did not want anyone to know he
was going if he could help it, and Florence might hear him shut the
front door. He knew where to go, and as he brought his father's
private bottles and half-a-sovereign to pay for what he had, the
chemist served him without demur. He wondered a little what the doctor
could want the chemicals for, but reflected that as Leonard was old
enough to sign his poison-book in the regular way, and as Mr. Morrison
was a well-known practitioner in the town, there could be no harm done
in letting him have what he wanted.

So Leonard walked home in triumph with the bottles securely wrapped up
in the bag. On his way back he met Taylor walking arm-in-arm with
Curtis, and both smoking cigarettes.

'Hullo, little Morrison!' he said in a patronising tone, as Leonard
stopped them, for they would have passed without noticing him.

'This is a piece of luck!' exclaimed the boy. 'You can take the bag
now, Taylor. The bottles and stuff are in it safe enough.'

'What bottles? What stuff?' he said, stepping back a pace, as if the
proffered bag would bite him.

'You know what it is,' said Leonard in a tone of surprise.

'Oh no, I don't! I know nothing until you bring me the stuff I told
you about. Ta-ta! little Morrison. Don't forget the bag in the
morning;' and the 'cock of the walk' and his friend went on their way
laughing, leaving the boy transfixed with anger and amazement. His
first thought was that he would go and throw the bottles in the canal
just as they were, give Taylor the change out of the half-sovereign,
and tell him where he would find the bottles if he wanted them. He
went so far as to walk down the canal road, but his courage evaporated
before he had gone any distance, and although he was still very angry
over the treatment he had received from his chosen friend, he turned
his steps homeward, still carrying the bottles, but half decided that
he would not take them to Taylor in the morning.

As he was going in at the back gate one of the servants met him.

'Dear me, Mr. Leonard! how you made me jump! There's a telegram come
for you, and Miss Florence has been hunting all over the house to find
you, for the boy said he was to wait for an answer.'

The importance of having a telegram sent to him soothed Leonard's
ruffled feelings, and he hurried in to find his sister and learn what
the message could be. 'Mother and I cannot come home to-night--coming
to-morrow.' This was what the mysterious yellow envelope contained by
way of a message, and Leonard read it with Florence looking over his
shoulder.

'There's no answer to go back,' said Leonard, when he saw Mary looking
at him. 'Go and tell the boy Father has just sent to say that he is
not coming home to-night;' and then he went and carried the bag to the
little room, leaving Florence to read the telegram over for her own
satisfaction--as if that would give her any more information.

She followed her brother to the study and said, 'Where do you think
they have gone, Len?'

'How can I tell? I never heard of a rich uncle, did you?'

His sister shook her head. 'Daddy was an only son, I know,' she said.
'But I think mother had a brother.'

'Was he a millionaire?' asked Leonard.

'He was a doctor, which is quite as good, I am sure, for that is----'

'Flo, you're a duffer,' interrupted her brother. 'There's nothing like
millionaires in these days, and so I hope this uncle, whoever he may
be, has made his pile, and will leave it all to us.'

'But you don't know it is an uncle they have gone to see. Father had
friends in London, and this telegram came from Westminster, and I know
that is in London.'

'Well, we shall hear all about it when they come, I dare say. Now run
away, little girl, for I want to get on with my lessons, now I have
got the book I wanted.'

'Oh, that was what you wanted! You boys are so careless. It is a good
job you can borrow of each other;' and Florence went away, leaving
Leonard to do his lessons or reflect upon the strange events of the
evening.

After a few angry thoughts concerning Taylor and his behaviour towards
him that evening, he began wondering once more whether it was an uncle
his parents had gone to see, and then whether he was rich, and would
make them wealthy too. He had never thought so much of money and what
it could do for its possessor until lately, but Taylor and Curtis both
belonged to wealthy families, and he thought of what they could do. He
called to mind the half-sovereign and the cigarettes he had seen them
smoking, and he had no doubt they were going to a famous billiard-room
in the town. Billiards, cigars, and half-sovereigns made up an
entrancing picture to the boy, and he sat and dreamed of these things,
and wished he had plenty of money, until half the evening was gone;
and although he declined to go to bed at the usual hour, he only half
knew his lessons when he did go.

The next morning he started for school in good time, for fear he
should miss Taylor, and be compelled to have those bottles on his mind
all the morning. But Taylor was looking out for him at the corner of
the road where they usually met. He was in a different mood this
morning, and flattered and praised the lad for having got the
chemicals without anyone finding out what he had done.

'You carry the bag to the gate, and I'll take it of you there, and no
one will ever see those bottles again, I can promise you.'

'But how are you going to manage?' asked Leonard.

'Oh, I have made my plans! I have to work in "the stinkery" this
morning, so the thing will be easy enough when I have once got your
bottles up in the "lab.," and they'll go in my pockets for me to take
them up there. Oh, never fear! we shall get rid of that board school
beggar this time, for Skeats is awfully particular about his stuff,
and he'll never forgive him for using chemicals like these away from
"the stinkery." I know where to put them till I want them, so you can
give them to me in a minute, and I will put them into the pockets of
this dust-coat I am carrying; I brought it with me on purpose.'

Leonard breathed a sigh of relief when the bottles were safely
transferred from the bag to the inside pockets of the fashionable
coat.

'If the stopper should come out of that bottle of sulphuric acid, your
coat won't be worth much,' he said, as Taylor swung the coat over his
arm.

'The stoppers are all right, I can see,' he said; but still he carried
the coat carefully, and went at once to hang it up when he got to the
school.

The laboratory had been built at a later date than the main body of
the school, and was reached by a flight of steps from the playground.
The room below it was used for coats and hats and other impedimenta
the boys might bring with them, each boy having his own peg and place
on the shelf for bag or lunch basket. They passed through this room on
their way to the laboratory, and so it would be easy for Taylor to
take down his coat, and carry it up with him when he went for his
practical chemistry lesson, and he did this without any notice being
aroused among the other boys.

At twelve o'clock, when school was over, the science master went to
the playground to look for Howard, who was eating his sandwiches as he
walked up and down. 'You won't be long before you go up to the
laboratory, I suppose, Howard?' he said, when he saw the lad.

'No, sir, I'm going in a minute,' said the boy.

'I have left three boys there finishing their work. Just see they
leave their things all right, when you go in.'

Horace frequently performed such small services for the science
master, and readily promised to do this. But just as Mr. Skeats turned
away, Warren came up, and the two stood talking for two or three
minutes before Howard went to the laboratory. He ran up the steps, and
was surprised to find the door closed, but not locked, as boys usually
locked it when they were left to do some work after school hours.
When he opened the door, he was struck by the peculiar smell of
almonds that pervaded the place. He closed the door, but did not lock
it. 'I say, what have you fellows been using?' he said, as he went to
the further end of the room. There lay one boy stretched out on the
floor near a bench, and close to another lay a second. He tried to
rouse the one nearest to him, and then seized him by the legs and
dragged him across the room out on to the landing. There he shouted
'Help! help!' and ran back to pull out the others, for he knew the
deadly nature of that almond-like smell. He managed to get another to
the door, where he would get fresh air, and then returned for the
third. He found him lying near 'the stinkery,' and thought he would
open that door, for the better ventilation of the outer room; but as
he passed his own bench, which stood near, he was overpowered by the
fumes pouring out of a flask standing there, from which acid also was
boiling over on to the bench and floor. He reeled, and before he could
reach the door fell insensible to the ground, one hand falling
helplessly into the pool of burning liquid there. But by this time the
fresh air had revived the first boy he had dragged out, and he called
to a lad in the playground.

'What's the row?' said Warren--for it happened to be that young
gentleman. 'Oh, what a stink!' he said the next minute, and putting
his head in, he saw Howard and the other lad lying on the floor at the
further end of the room. He knew that the fumes were dangerous, and
stuffing his pocket-handkerchief into his mouth and up his nostrils,
he dashed in and tried to drag both boys at once to the door, but had
to drop one just as Mr. Skeats rushed up. He picked up Horace, and
carried him down, and then sent for the head master and other lads to
carry out those who, although somewhat revived, were still lying on
the landing at the top of the steps.

'You must have a doctor, sir,' said Warren, pushing his way through
the crowd of boys who had gathered round to know what was the matter.

'Yes, yes,' said the master; and Warren rushed off to the gate and ran
hastily down the road. He knew his father was often in the
neighbourhood about that time of the day, and, to his great joy, he
saw him driving in his gig. The boy ran and shouted, and speedily
attracted the doctor's attention when his son shouted, 'Something
wrong in the "lab!"'

He ran into the playground, and there half-a-dozen voices called,
'They have carried them all to the master's house.'

Here he found two of the boys well-nigh recovered, but the third one
was still unconscious, and Horace seemed even worse. His hand and arms
were badly burned with the acid, and there were splashes of it on his
face.

The masters were doing what they could to get the deadly poison out of
his lungs, but it seemed as though Horace and the third lad had
inhaled so much of the gas that all their efforts were in vain. The
doctor looked grave when Mr. Skeats told him the boys had been
breathing hydro-cyanic acid gas. The application of artificial
respiration was redoubled, but it was not until nearly four o'clock
that Horace began to revive, and what Leonard felt during those awful
hours of suspense could be better imagined than described! The
laboratory had been locked up, as soon as it was known what had
happened, so that the affair might be inquired into. No boy was
allowed to go home either, although Taylor had complained of being
very ill, and had wanted to leave early.

Not until it was known that Horace was out of all immediate danger was
there a word spoken, and then Dr. Mason said, 'I am ready to hear any
explanation that you may wish to give me as to the cause of what has
happened. I have heard all about the attendant circumstances and the
rescue of these lads. What I want to know is, who caused the
disaster?'

Not a sound broke the silence of the school when the doctor had said
this. Leonard was ready to tell of his share in the affair, but as he
glanced at Taylor he received such a look of warning as made him cower
in his seat, and the school broke up wondering what would happen
next.



CHAPTER VIII.

RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION.


Warren volunteered the information that Howard's mother had gone away
from home, and only his elder brother could take care of him, if he
was sent there, so that it was decided that he should remain in the
master's house for the present; and Warren went to let Fred know that
his brother would not be home all night.

'Why, what is the matter?' asked the young carpenter anxiously.

'There was something wrong in the "lab." this dinner-time. Nobody
knows just how it happened, but there'll be a jolly row about it
to-morrow, I know.'

'I hope Horace had nothing to do with it,' said Fred.

'Oh, didn't he, though! Three boys would soon have been dead if he
hadn't gone in. That's how he got hurt. You can go and see him, my
father says, only you mustn't talk much.'

Fred was not long getting his tea; he was too anxious to go and hear
more of what had happened to his brother, but he took care to wash
himself and change his working clothes before presenting himself at
the master's house.

He found Horace in bed, with both hands bandaged and looking very
pale. He was able to tell him what had happened, but begged him not to
say a word about it to his mother, as he felt sure he should be quite
well in the morning. Fred hardly knew what to do, but at length agreed
not to say a word about it when he wrote to his mother. When he had
nearly reached his own home, he saw a boy waiting near the gate, and
he said, 'Are you Howard's brother?'

'Yes. Who are you?' asked Fred.

'My name is Morrison, and I want to know if you think he will get well
again.'

'I hope so. But why are you so anxious about it? Do you know how it
happened?'

Leonard nodded.

'I know a bit,' said the boy sheepishly, 'and I wondered whether I'd
better tell my father.'

'Yes, yes--tell him by all means,' said Fred eagerly. 'Come in a
minute, and if you like I will go home with you and break the ice.
I've always been in the habit of telling my mother when I got into a
scrape; but it made it a bit easier if Horace told her something
about it first, so I know how you feel about telling your father.'

'We didn't mean to hurt the fellows, you know,' said Leonard eagerly,
as he went into the little sitting-room. 'We didn't mean to hurt
anybody; only make a jolly stink in the "lab.," and get somebody into
a row.'

He did not say who the 'somebody' was, and Fred did not ask him. They
went away together, and walked almost in silence, for Fred did not
like to press the boy to tell him any more. It was a long walk round
to Leonard's home, but Fred did not mind; and if the doctor had got
back he might hear of his mother, and something of what had happened
since she had been gone, for he had not had a letter from her, as he
had expected.

When they got to the doctor's house, and Fred asked to see him, the
servant said he had only just come home, and she was not sure that he
could see anybody.

'I think he will see me, if you tell him that my name is Howard,' said
Fred. 'I have come to see him about my brother, who was hurt at school
to-day.'

The doctor was certainly mystified as to the meaning of the last part
of the message, but he was glad to see Fred, for he had promised his
mother he would see him as soon as possible.

The doctor rose from his seat and took Fred's hands as he entered the
room. 'I am very glad to see you. I have some wonderful news for you.
I left your father a few hours ago. Your mother wished me to tell you.
Do you remember your father?'

'Yes, sir, a little,' answered Fred, quite forgetting what he actually
had come for.

'You do remember him?' repeated the doctor.

'I know he was a gentleman,' said Fred, a little proudly.

'Yes, he has proved himself a steadfast, God-fearing, humble
Christian. A true gentleman in these later years,' said Mr. Morrison;
'and I have promised him, and your mother too, that you shall hear
something of what those years have been.'

'But I should like to know first why he went away and left us all
alone,' said Fred, with reddening brow. 'It was not fair to my mother,
or to any of us, and I am not sure that I shall ever want to see him
again.' And then the tears filled Fred's eyes.

'Sit down, my lad,' said the doctor; 'your father knew that you must
feel angry at what has happened, and, to use his own words, he does
not deserve anything else at your hands, but I was to tell his story
in as few words as possible, and leave the rest to you.

'Some time before he went away he had a patient named Taylor. He
seems to have been a very fascinating sort of man, and your father was
not a very strong one. Through this man he neglected his practice a
great deal--he was a doctor, you know--his friend always seemed to
have plenty of money, and they went about the country a good deal
together enjoying themselves, doing no great harm, beyond your father
neglecting his work and you at home.

'This lasted for some time, and then one day his friend begged him, as
a great favour, to sign his name to a bill. Of course, by doing this
your father became responsible for the whole amount of the debt, if
his friend should fail to repay it within the time named; but he had
such confidence in Mr. Taylor, and believed all he said about the
wealth coming to him, that he signed it after a little persuasion,
although it was for a very large amount of money.

'He never told your mother of this transaction, because he knew she
disliked and mistrusted this Taylor.

'A few days before this bill became due your father found to his
dismay that his friend had disappeared from his London house, and no
one knew where he had gone. Still, your father said no word to your
mother of what had happened, but when he was served with the notice
that he must now pay the debt, he was seized with panic at the
thought of the ruin he had brought upon himself and family, and,
instead of bravely staying to do what he could to help those who were
dependent upon him, he went out one morning, and took a passage to
Australia by a vessel that was just leaving the docks.

'It must be said in excuse for him that just at the time there was a
great talk of the rapid fortunes that were being made in the
gold-fields, and he had heard that Taylor had gone there to make his
fortune.

'I need hardly tell you that he did not see his false friend again,
although he heard of him more than once during his wanderings in the
wilds of Australia.

'He wrote one short letter, telling your mother he would come home as
soon as he had made his fortune; and he resolved in his own mind not
to do so until he had accomplished this, for only in this way he
thought he could atone for the past and prove that he was worthy of
her confidence for the future.

'But he found the task much harder than he had supposed, and instead
of making his fortune at the gold-fields he was robbed of the little
he possessed, and was glad to get any sort of work that would provide
him with a crust of bread.

'Then he met with Mrs. Morrison's brother, who was not unlike himself
in many respects--easily led, weak to resist temptation--but in the
hard school of affliction to which they had condemned themselves God
met them, and showed them the folly and sin of which they had been
guilty; and they sought and found pardon through the Lord Jesus
Christ. Then, through the help of God's Holy Spirit, they began to
struggle against the temptations by which they were beset, and in the
struggle grew strong, strong enough to resist even the making of
illegal gains; and so the fortune that was to restore them to home and
country was a long time in the making, and meanwhile they clung to
each other, and to God.'

'But my father might have written to us,' said Fred, still a little
hardly.

'They both wrote to their nearest friends in England. But you must
remember that your mother had left London, and I had left Liverpool,
where I was living when my brother-in-law went away; so both letters
were returned, and the wanderers could only work on in faith and hope
that one day God would bring them to their dear ones again.'

Fred had listened with the greatest intentness to the doctor's story,
and now he roused himself, remembering that the errand he had come
upon had not yet been mentioned. 'Thank you, Dr. Morrison,' he said,
'for telling me this; but I cannot help thinking still that my father
has been very cruel to us, although he may not have intended it; but
I came to see you about something else. You have a son who goes to
school with my brother; Horace has been hurt somehow, and is in bed at
the master's house. Your son wishes me to tell you that he knows
something of what happened. He did not mean to hurt anybody, but three
boys might have died through what was done.'

'Ah, that is just it. Boys never intend wilfully to hurt each other, I
believe, and it is only rarely that men do so; but they do it through their
weakness and thoughtlessness, and bring untold misery upon friends, and all
who love them. Your father's spoiled life, and my brother-in-law's almost
wasted one, should teach all you lads a lesson. Ask God to make you strong
to resist the first temptation--strong in the strength of the Lord Jesus
Christ, for this alone can help you in the hour of trial. And remember that
this time of trial must come to you sooner or later; and the sooner it
comes in life the better, if only you go to the Strong for strength to
sustain you.'

Then the doctor rang the bell, and told the servant to send Leonard to
him. Fred rose to go, but the doctor told him to sit down again.

'We'll get this business over while you are here,' he said. And when
Leonard appeared, he said, 'My friend, Mr. Fred Howard, says you have
something to tell me. Yes, he is my friend, and I trust that you will
make him yours also, if he will accept the friendship of a boy like
you,' said the doctor, answering the look of perplexity on Leonard's
face. 'This lad's father has saved your uncle's life more than once,
it seems, while you have nearly killed his brother. Is that true?'

Leonard hung his head, and the tears slowly gathered in his eyes. 'Did
Mr. Warren tell you that, father?' he said with a gasp.

'I have not seen Warren yet,' said Dr. Morrison. 'What is it you have
to tell me? Do not be afraid, I want to hear all the truth from you.
Now what is it you have to tell me, Len?' said the doctor, in a more
tender tone. 'I hear you have got into some scrape at school, and
somebody has got hurt.'

'Yes, father; the scholarship boy, and I was afraid he might die.'

'Well, what was your share of the mischief? Did you really wish your
schoolfellow to die?'

'Father, we didn't mean to hurt him really. We only wanted to drive
him away from the school.' And then, bit by bit, Mr. Morrison heard
the whole story of what had been going on at Torrington's for the last
few months.

Fred was as much astonished as Mr. Morrison. 'My brother never said a
word about it at home,' he said.

'Your brother has the brave gallant spirit of a gentleman,' said the
doctor. 'But what am I to say of my son and his cowardly companions?
Go to your room, sir!' he said, addressing Leonard, for he was very
angry.

'But, Mr. Morrison, that he should wish to come and tell you of it
before it is known at the school who has done it, should not be
forgotten,' said Fred, pleadingly.

'Certainly, certainly, it is something, as you say,' answered Mr.
Morrison; but in truth he felt overwhelmed just now.

As Fred was leaving, a servant from Dr. Mason's arrived with a note,
asking that Mr. Morrison would bring his son, and be at the school by
nine o'clock.

'Mason has found out all about it, I expect,' he said, as he read the
note. He gave orders for his carriage to be ready by half-past eight
the following day, for he had a great deal to do before he started for
London in the evening.

He went to see Leonard in his own room before he went to bed, and then
told him something of his uncle's life, and why it was that he wished
to befriend Horace Howard.

His father's talk made a deep impression on the boy's mind. 'Mamma
told me something of this once but she did not say the "somebody" was
my uncle.'

'My boy, she loved this brother as Florrie loves you, and how could
she tell you all the miserable tale?'

'Oh, papa, I am so sorry! What can I do to make you believe that I do
mean to try and do right always for the future? I wish I could do
something for that poor Horace. His hands are awfully bad, and he
won't be able to use them for ever so long. There's nobody to take
care of him at home either. Don't you think he might come here, papa?'

Dr. Morrison looked at Leonard, and breathed a sigh of relief. 'My
boy, could I trust you to be good to him if I fetched him here
to-morrow?'

'Yes, yes, papa; indeed I will try to make it up to him, if you will
let him come. I am so sorry. I did not know it was going to be so bad,
until I heard Mr. Skeats say he wondered they were not dead. That was
why I wanted to see Howard's brother. I knew he was the worst, and I
wanted them to know that I did not mean really to hurt him.'

'I can quite believe and sincerely hope that this will be a lesson you
will never forget through your whole life. But if I forgive you it is
more than you can expect Dr. Mason to do. I almost wonder he has not
put it into the hands of the police, and had you all arrested. The
punishment will be severe, I have no doubt; it ought to be, to make an
impression upon the school; and remember, whatever it may be, I shall
expect you to bear it patiently and bravely. I forgive you, but I
shall not seek to lessen the punishment your schoolmaster may inflict.
Now go to sleep as soon as you can, and I will take you to school in
the carriage with me in the morning.'

Dr. Morrison was compelled to pay a visit to a patient on his way to
the school the next day, so that when they arrived they found all the
school assembled in the hall. Prayers were just over, and when Leonard
entered with his father, he was directed to take his place beside
Taylor and Curtis, who were standing in front of the platform, where
Dr. Mason and the other masters were sitting. His father was asked to
take a seat there beside two other gentlemen, whom he afterwards heard
were Mr. Curtis and Mr. Taylor, who had come to hear what their sons
were charged with.

'It might have been manslaughter,' said Dr. Mason severely, when one
of the gentlemen asked this question rather angrily.

'Last night, before we separated, I asked if anyone wanted to make a
statement about this matter,' said the master, addressing the school.
'No one answered then; now it is too late, and I can tell you myself
all that happened. When the chemistry class left the laboratory
yesterday morning, Mr. Skeats left three boys to finish what they were
doing, believing that they were the only lads there. Just after he
had gone they heard the stink-chamber door opened, and Taylor put
something down on Howard's bench, which is close to that door. They
took no notice of this at first, until the peculiar odour arrested
their attention. Then one of them went round to see what it was, but
coming in closer contact with the fumes was overcome by them, and fell
down unconscious. Soon a second fell at his bench, and the third fell
just as Howard opened the laboratory door and called to them. None
were able to answer; but he pulled two out on to the landing, and then
went back for the third, but fell unconscious himself, close to his
own bench, and near the lad he was trying to save. Fortunately, his
cry for help was heard, and both lives were saved, I am thankful to
say, although Howard has been burned a great deal with the acid of the
poison.'

There was a dead silence throughout the school while the master was
speaking. After a pause he said, 'I do not suppose that either Taylor,
Curtis, or Morrison knew what their act would be likely to cause. I am
sure they were ignorant of the danger they caused to three or four of
their schoolfellows. But I do know that for some time past these boys
have been persecuting one of their companions; and this sort of thing
shall never be allowed at this school. Therefore, to save this school
from future disgrace and trouble, I am compelled to expel from the
school those who have been the ringleaders in this persecution.
Taylor! Curtis! your names will be removed from the school roll, and
never again will you be admitted as scholars of Torrington's school.
Morrison has been greatly to blame in the part he has taken in this
business; but taking into consideration that he made a full confession
to his father last night of all he had done, added to the fact that he
is a younger and weaker boy than the others, I shall suspend him from
attending this school for six months; and if at the end of that time
he can bring a certificate of good conduct from any other school, he
may possibly be reinstated at Torrington's. The honour of the school
demands that these punishments should be strictly adhered to.' The
master sat down, and before a boy could leave his place Dr. Morrison
sprang to his feet.

'Dr. Mason, I am an old Torrington boy,' he said; 'and I thank you
with all my heart for defending the honour of the dear old school. My
son is one of the culprits, and I thank you in his name for giving him
another chance to retrieve his character. I shall send him for the six
months to one of the board schools in the town, where I hope and trust
he may earn the right to come among you once more, and bring no
further disgrace upon Torrington's school.'

The other two gentlemen did not say a word. They were exceedingly
angry with the culprits, but could not complain that the master had
been unduly severe with them. Before they left, Dr. Mason said that he
must charge them with the cost of a new suit of clothes for Horace.
'Those he was wearing yesterday are burned into holes, so that the
poor lad has nothing to wear when he is able to get up,' said Dr.
Mason.

'I will see to that,' said Dr. Morrison.

'I understand you are going to charge yourself with the care of the
lad until he is well,' said the master. 'I like justice all round, and
it is only fair these gentlemen should buy the boy a new suit. Will
you leave me to order it?' he said, addressing the two.

'Yes, yes, of course, and we will pay the bill,' both answered in a
breath.

'Now, Morrison, you can go and tell the lad that he will soon have
some new clothes, for I understand that is the chief trouble with him
this morning--that he has spoiled his best jacket, and burned holes in
his trousers. Mrs. Mason will give you something to take him home in,
and I think it will do both lads good to know more of each other. The
wisest thing you could do is what you have decided upon for Leonard,
and I hope I shall see him back at Torrington's at the end of six
months.'

Mr. Morrison found Fred was with his brother, but he readily agreed to
his being taken home by the doctor. Horace himself did not know what
to make of it. Fred had just told him what he had heard from Dr.
Morrison about his father, and now the doctor assured him that Leonard
was very anxious to make up to him for all the unkindness he had been
guilty of in the past.

'For our father's sake you ought to give him this chance,' said Fred,
for he knew he could not give his brother the care he needed.

'Thank you, doctor; I will go with you,' said Horace.

Just as he was being wrapped up Mr. Warren came in to see his patient,
and was glad to learn that he was going home with Dr. Morrison.

'You will let Warren come and see me, won't you?' said Horace.

'Yes, yes, send him by all means; and I shall be glad if you can look
in upon him yourself to-morrow, for I am obliged to go to London this
evening, so that he must be left to the tender mercies of Len and the
servants for a day or two.'

Horace was carried to the carriage where Leonard was seated, shedding
a few quiet tears over the folly that had gained for him this
suspension for the honour of the school. Still, he was thankful that
he was allowed a chance of return, and resolved to do all he
could--even in a board school--to earn the right to go back at the end
of six months. He was glad enough to have Horace seated beside him,
and the first words he said were,

'I hope you will forgive me for being such a fool. We must be friends,
you know, and I hope to come back to Torrington's with you by-and by.'

'Yes, yes, we will be good friends if you like,' said Horace, with the
tears shining in his eyes. 'Only I don't know what my mother will say
when she comes home.'

'Oh, that will be all right,' answered Leonard. 'Your mother has gone
to London with my mother. I dare say we shall know all about it
presently. But father is too busy now, for he is going to London again
this evening, and so I shall have to take care of you until he comes
back. We'll ask Warren to come and see us as well, because I know you
like Warren.'

This last proposal cost Leonard the most, for he wanted Horace to like
him now. But it was a proof to Mr. Morrison that his son had learned
to conquer himself; and he had more hope for him now than he had since
he first heard of this school scandal.

The doctor had taken care to say as little as possible to the two
boys about the fortune Mr. Howard had made while he was away, and it
had made so little impression upon Horace, that when Mr. Morrison came
back from London the next day, and told him that his mother wanted him
to go to the sea-side as soon as he was able to go, Horace looked at
him in mute wonder.

Could his mother afford to send him to the sea-side? he wondered, and
he resolved to ask Fred what he thought about it when he came.

His brother came to sit with him for an hour every evening, and as
soon as they were left to themselves that night Horace said, 'Have you
heard that mother wants us to go to the sea-side--Leonard, and you and
I? What does it mean, Fred? Has mother got money enough now to spend
it like that?'

'I suppose she has,' said Fred, with something like a sigh; 'but I am
not sure that it is going to make us any happier, Horry,' he added.

'Well, I suppose that will depend upon what we do with it, won't it?'
said Horace simply.

'Well, then I don't know that I shall let them spend any of it on me,'
said Fred, in an angry tone.

'Then you won't let mother be happy, though she may have more money,
and not have to work for it now.'

'Now, Horace, you know it is on mother's account that I feel as I do.
It was unkind and cruel of father to go away and leave her as he did
for years and years, though he was making a fortune for us. I tell you
that money has been bought too dearly, and for mother's sake I don't
feel as though I could touch a penny of it.'

'Oh, Fred! think how unhappy she will be if you say that to her.'

'I have said it,' replied Fred bitterly. 'I wrote and told her that I
hoped she would leave me to be a carpenter, and live on in the little
cottage where she had worked so hard.'

'Oh, how could you--what did she say?' cried Horace, with the tears
shining in his eyes.

Fred covered his face for a moment. 'She begged me to forgive my
father for her sake, as though it was not for her sake I feel as I
do.'

'Yes, yes, I know,' said Horace. 'But you will have to do as she says,
or else we shall all be so unhappy. Oh, Fred, for mother's sake, for
my sake, forgive father! for why should I lose my brother because my
father has come home? I cannot help myself. I must let him help me,
and if he did stay and work for this money just to prove that he was
sorry for what he had done so long ago, I think we ought to forgive
him, as mother has. He is ill, too, through the hardships he had to
endure.'

'Oh, Horry, if only he hadn't gone away like that! To have to forgive
your father, instead of looking up to him as Len Morrison does, is so
bitter; and it might all have been so different if only he had kept on
doing his duty and asking God to help him when things were a bit
harder than usual.'

'Oh, Fred, ask God to help you now, to help you forgive him for
mother's sake, and for Jesus Christ's sake!' cried Horace, in a
passion of tears.

'I have, dear, I have! and I think I shall be able to do it soon; but
I think God wanted me to see that making a fortune can't make up for
not doing the right thing at the right time; no, not even to the
people you may make the fortune for. I shall have to let my father
know this before I can fully forgive him.'

It was a bitter lesson for the returned prodigals to learn, for
Leonard Morrison took the same view concerning his uncle, having
memories of days when his mother was too ill and too sad to be glad
with them; and he heard now from his father that this was generally
caused by some memory of the dearly loved brother who had fled from
them under a cloud of disgrace.

At length, however, Fred wrote and assured his mother that for her
sake, and for his brother's, he would do as they wished, and join
them at the sea-side, when Horace went for a holiday before returning
to school. His hands were better, thanks to the kind attention he
received from everyone at Dr. Morrison's. Indeed, he was such good
friends now with Leonard, that he begged to be allowed to go to the
sea-side with him, in order to make the acquaintance of his mother and
his father as well as of his own uncle, who was still staying with
them to help the invalid.

Fred wrote this letter, and Mrs. Howard was greatly relieved to
receive it. To her it had been easy enough to receive and pardon her
husband for his long neglect, and she failed to understand why her
elder son, who had always been so good to her, should assume such a
hard, unforgiving demeanour towards his father.

But when they met some weeks later she learned to understand the lad
better; and when she told her husband he said, 'It is better. He is
young, and has all his life before him, and he is right in thinking
that no fortune can make up for wasted opportunities and neglected
duties.'

       *       *       *       *       *





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About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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