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´╗┐Title: Louis' School Days - A Story for Boys
Author: May, E. J. (Edith J.)
Language: English
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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 "Louis' School Days - A Story for Boys" ***

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made available by The University of Florida, The Internet
Archive/Children's Library)



LOUIS' SCHOOL DAYS,


A STORY FOR BOYS.

By E. J. May


[Illustration: Louis and Meredith on Brandon Hill. Page 76.]


NEW-YORK:
D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 200 BROADWAY.
1852.



PREFACE.


It was originally my intention to leave the child of my imagination
to make its way where it would, without any letter of introduction in
the form of the usual prefatory address to the reader; but having been
assured that a preface is indispensable, I am laid under the necessity
of formally giving a little insight into the character of the possible
inmate of many a happy home.

Reader, the following pages claim no interest on the score of
authenticity. They are no fiction _founded on facts_. They profess
to be nothing but fiction, used as a vehicle for illustrating certain
broad and fundamental truths in our holy religion.

It has often struck me, in recalling religious stories (to which I
acknowledge myself much indebted), that many of them fell into an error
which might have the effect of confusing the mind of a thinking child,
namely, that of drawing a perfect character as soon as the soul has
laid hold of Christ, without any mention of those struggles through
which the Christian must pass, in order to preserve a holy consistency
before men. This would seem to exclude the necessity of maintaining
a _warfare_.

The doctrine I have endeavored to maintain in the following pages is,
that man being born in "sin, a child of wrath," has, by nature, all his
affections estranged from God; that, when by grace, through faith in
Christ, a new life has been implanted within him, his affections are
restored to their rightful Lord, every thought and imagination is
brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and his whole being
longs to praise Him who has called him "out of darkness into light"--to
praise Him "not only with his lips, but in his life." Then commences the
struggle between light and darkness, between the flesh and the spirit,
between the old and new man; and the results of this conflict are seen
in the outward conduct of the Christian soldier.

The character of the child of God does not essentially alter, but a
new impulse is given him. Whatever good quality was in his natural
state conspicuous in him, will, in a state of grace and newness of
life, shine forth with double lustre; and he will find his besetting
sin his greatest hindrance in pressing forward to the attainment of
personal holiness. The great wide difference is, that he _desires_ to
be holy, and the Lord, who gives him this desire, gives him also the
strength to overcome his natural mind; and the more closely he waits
on his heavenly Father for His promised aid, the more holily and
consistently he will walk; and when, through the deceits of his heart,
the allurements of the world, or the temptations of Satan, he relaxes
his vigilance, and draws less largely from the fountain of his strength,
a sad falling away is the inevitable consequence. This warfare, this
danger of backsliding, ends only with the life, when, and when _only_,
he will be perfect, for he shall be like his Saviour.

As a writer for the young, I dare not plead even the humble pretensions
of my little volume in deprecation of the criticism which ought to be the
lot of every work professing to instruct others. In choosing the arena
of a boy's school for the scene of my hero's actions, I have necessarily
been compelled to introduce many incidents and phrases to which, perhaps,
some very scrupulous critics might object as out of place in a religious
work; but my readers will do well to recollect, that to be useful, a
story must be attractive, and to be attractive, it must be natural; and
I trust that they who candidly examine mine will find nothing therein
that can produce a wrong impression. It has not been without an anxious
sense of the great responsibility dependent on me in my present capacity,
that this little effort has been made. Should it be the instrument of
strengthening in one young one the best lessons he has received, it will,
indeed, not have been in vain. To the service of Him who is the strength
and help of all His people, it is dedicated.

              "Be Thou alone exalted:
          If there's a thought of favor placed on me--
              THINE be it all!
          Forgive its evil and accept its good--
          I cast it at Thy feet."

                                                      E.J.M.



CHAPTER I.


Doleful were the accounts received from time to time of Louis Mortimer's
life with his tutor at Dashwood Rectory; and, if implicit credence might
be yielded to them, it would be supposed that no poor mortal was ever so
persecuted by Latin verses, early rising, and difficult problems, as our
hero. His eldest brother, to whom these pathetic relations were made,
failed not to stimulate him with exciting passages of school life--and
these, at last, had the desired effect, drawing from Louis the following
epistle:


  "My dear Reginald,

  "Your letter was as welcome as usual. You cannot imagine what
  a treat it is to hear from you. Mr. Phillips is kind, but so
  very different from dear Mr. Daunton. What I dislike most is,
  that he says so often, 'What _did_ Mr. Daunton teach you? I
  never saw a boy so ignorant in my life!' I do not care how
  much he says of me, but I cannot bear to hear him accuse dear
  Mr. Daunton of not teaching me properly. I believe I am really
  idle often, but sometimes, when I try most, it seems to give
  least satisfaction. The other day I was busy two hours at
  some Latin verses, and I took so much pains with them--I had
  written an 'Ode to the Rising Sun,' and felt quite interested,
  and thought Mr. Phillips would be pleased; but when I took it
  to him, he just looked at it, and taking a pen dashed out word
  after word, and said, so disagreeably, 'Shocking! Shocking,
  Louis! Disgraceful, after all that I said yesterday--the pains
  that I took with you,' 'Indeed, sir,' I said, 'I tried a great
  deal,' 'Fine ideas! fine ideas! no doubt,' he said, 'but I have
  told you dozens of times that I do not want _ideas_--I want
  _feet_.' I wish those same feet would run away to Clifton with
  me, Reginald; I hope I have not been saying any thing wrong
  about Mr. Phillips--I should be very sorry to do so, for he
  is very kind in his way: he tells me I do not know what I am
  wishing for, and that school will not suit me, and a great deal
  about my having to fag much harder and getting into disgrace;
  but never mind, I should like to make the experiment, for I
  shall be with you; and, dear as Dashwood is, it is _so_ dull
  without papa and mamma--I can hardly bear to go into the
  Priory now they are away. I seem to want Freddy's baby-voice
  in the nursery; and sober Neville and Mary are quite a part
  of home--how long it seems since I saw them! Well, I hope I
  shall come to you at Easter. Do you not wish it were here?
  I had a nice letter from mamma yesterday--she was at Florence
  when she wrote, and is getting quite strong, and so is little
  Mary. I have now no more time; mamma said papa had written
  to you, or I would have told you all the news. I wanted to
  tell you very much how our pigeons are, and the rabbits, and
  Mary's hen, which I shall give in Mrs. Colthrop's care when
  I leave Dashwood. But good bye, in a great hurry. With much
  love, I remain your very affectionate brother,

                              "LOUIS FRANCIS MORTIMER.

  "P.S. Do you remember cousin Vernon's laughing at
  our embrace at Heronhurst? I wonder when I shall have
  another--I am longing so to see you."


It would not concern my readers much were I to describe the precise
locality of the renowned Dr. Wilkinson's establishment for young
gentlemen--suffice it to say, that somewhere near Durdham Down,
within a short walk of Clifton, stood Ashfield House, a large
rambling building, part of which looked gray and timeworn when
compared with the modern school-room, and sundry dormitories, that
had been added at different periods as the school grew out of its
original domains. Attached to the house was a considerable extent
of park land, which was constituted the general play-ground.

At the time of which I am writing, Dr. Wilkinson's school consisted
of nearly eighty pupils, all of whom were boarders, and who were
sent from different parts of the kingdom; for the doctor's fame, as
an excellent man, and what, in the eyes of some was even a greater
recommendation, as a first-rate classical scholar, was spread far and
wide. At the door of this house, one fine April day, Louis presented
himself; and, after descending from the vehicle which brought him from
Bristol, followed the servant into the doctor's dining-room, where we
will leave him in solitary grandeur, or, more correctly speaking,
in agitating expectation, while we take a peep at the room on the
opposite side of the hall. In this, Dr. Wilkinson was giving audience
to a gentleman who had brought back his little boy a few minutes before
Louis arrived. Having some private business to transact, the child was
sent to the school-room, and then Mr. Percy entered into a discussion
respecting the capabilities of his son, and many other particulars,
which, however interesting to himself, would fail of being so to us.

At length these topics were exhausted, and it seemed nearly decided
how much was to be done or discontinued in Master Percy's education.
Mr. Percy paused to consider if any thing were left unsaid.

"Oh! by the by, Dr. Wilkinson," he said, letting fall the pencil with
which he had been tapping the table during his cogitations, "you have
one of Sir George Vernon's grandsons with you, I believe?"

"Two of them," replied the doctor.

"Ah! indeed, I mean young Mortimer, son of Mr. Mortimer of Dashwood."

"I have his eldest son, and am expecting another to-day."

"Then it was your expected pupil that I saw this morning,"
said Mr. Percy.

"May I ask where?" said the doctor.

"At the White Lion. He came down by the London coach. I saw his trunk,
in the first place, addressed to you, and supposed him to be the young
gentleman who attained to some rather undesirable notoriety last year."

"How so?" asked the doctor.

"Oh! he very ungenerously and artfully endeavored to retain for
himself the honor of writing a clever little essay, really the work
of his brother, and actually obtained a prize from his grandfather
for it."

"How came that about?" asked Dr. Wilkinson.

"Oh! there was some mistake in the first instance, I believe, and the
mean little fellow took advantage of it."

Mr. Percy then gave a detailed account of Louis' birthday at Heronhurst,
and concluded by saying--

"I was not present, but I heard it from a spectator; I should be afraid
that you will not have a little trouble with such a character."

"It is extraordinary," said the doctor; "his brother is the most frank,
candid fellow possible."

"I hear he is a nice boy," said Mr. Percy. "There is frequently great
dissimilarity among members of the same family; but of course, this
goes no further. It is as well you should know it,--but I should not
talk of it to every one."

Dr. Wilkinson bowed slightly, and remained silent, without exhibiting
any peculiar gratification at having been made the depository of the
secret. Mr. Percy presently rose and took his leave; and Dr. Wilkinson
was turning towards the staircase, when a servant informed him that a
young gentleman waited to see him in the dining-room.

"Oh!" said the doctor to himself, "my dilatory pupil, I presume."

He seemed lost in thought for a minute, and then slowly crossing
the hall, entered the dining-room.

Louis had been very anxious for the appearance of his master, yet
almost afraid to see him; and when the door opened, and this gentleman
stood before him, he was seized with such a palpitation as scarcely to
have the power of speech.

Dr. Wilkinson was certainly a person calculated to inspire a school-boy
with awe. He was a tall, dignified man, between fifty and sixty years
of age, with a magnificent forehead and good countenance: the latter
was not, however, generally pleasing, the usual expression being stern
and unyielding. When he smiled, that expression vanished; but to a
new-comer there was something rather terrible in the compressed lips
and overhanging eyebrows, from under which a pair of the keenest black
eyes seemed to look him through.

Louis rose and bowed on his master's entrance.

"How do you do, Mortimer?" said the doctor, shaking hands with him.
"I dare say you are tired of waiting. You have not seen your brother,
I suppose?"

"No, sir," replied Louis, looking in the stern face with something
of his customary simple confidence. Doctor Wilkinson smiled, and
added, "You are very like your father,--exceedingly like what he
was at your age."

"Did you know him then, sir?" asked Louis, timidly.

"Yes, as well as I hope to know you in a short time. What is your name?"

"Louis Francis, sir."

"What! your father's name--that is just what it should be. Well, I hope,
Louis, you will now endeavor to give him the utmost satisfaction. With
such a father, and such a home, you have great privileges to account
for; and it is your place to show to your parents of what use their
care and instruction have been. In a large school you will find many
things so different from home, that, unless you are constantly on your
guard, you will often be likely to do things which may afterwards cause
you hours of pain. Remember that you are a responsible creature sent
into the world to act a part assigned to you by your Maker; and to Him
must the account of every talent be rendered, whether it be used, or
buried in the earth. As a Christian gentleman, see, Louis, that you
strive to do your part with all your might."

Dr. Wilkinson watched the attention and ready sympathy with his
admonition displayed by Louis; and in spite of the warning he had
so lately received, felt very kindly and favorably disposed towards
his new pupil.

"Come with me," he said, "I will introduce you to your school-fellows;
I have no doubt you will find your brother among them somewhere."

Louis followed Dr. Wilkinson through a door at the further end of the
hall, leading into a smaller hall which was tapestried with great-coats,
cloaks, and hats; and here an increasing murmur announced the fact of
his near approach to a party of noisy boys. As the doctor threw open
the folding-doors leading into the noble school-room, Louis felt
almost stupefied by the noise and novelty. A glass door leading into
the play-ground was wide open, and, as school was just over, there
was a great rush into the open air. Some were clambering in great
haste over desks and forms; and the shouting, singing, and whistling,
together with the occasional overthrow of a form, and the almost
incessant banging of desk-lids, from those who were putting away
slates and books, formed a scene perfectly new and bewildering to
our hero.

The entrance of Dr. Wilkinson stilled the tumult in a slight degree,
and in half a minute after, the room was nearly cleared, and a passage
was left for the new-comers towards the upper end. Here was a knot of
great boys (or, rather, craving their pardon, I should say _young men_),
all engaged in eager and merry confabulation. So intent were they that
their master's approach was wholly unnoticed by them. One of these young
gentlemen was sitting tailor fashion on the top of a desk, apparently
holding forth for the edification of his more discreet companions,
to whom he seemed to afford considerable amusement, if the peals of
laughter with which his sallies were received might be considered any
proof. A little aloof from this party, but within hearing, stood a
youth of about seventeen, of whom nothing was remarkable, but that his
countenance wore a very sedate and determined expression. He seemed
struggling with a determination not to indulge a strong propensity
to laugh; but, though pretending to be occupied with a book, his
features at length gave way at some irresistible sally, and throwing
his volume at the orator, he exclaimed--

"How can you be such an ass, Frank!"

"There now," said Frank, perfectly unmoved, "the centre of gravity is
disturbed,--well, as I was saying,--Here's the doctor!" and the young
gentleman, who was no other than Frank Digby, brother of Louis' cousin
Vernon, dismounted from his rostrum in the same instant that his auditors
turned round, thereby acknowledging the presence of their master.

"I have brought you a new school-fellow, gentlemen," said the doctor;
"where is Mortimer?"

"Here, sir," cried Reginald, popping up from behind a desk, where he
had been pinned down by a short thick-set boy, who rose as if by magic
with him.

"Here is your brother."

Louis and Reginald scrambled over all obstacles, and stood before
the doctor, in two or three seconds.

In spite of Louis' valiant protestations the preceding mid-summer
at Heronhurst, he did not dare, in the presence of only a quarter
of the hundred and twenty eyes, to embrace his brother, but contented
himself with a most energetic squeeze, and a look that said volumes;
and, indeed, it must be confessed, that Reginald was not an inviting
figure for an embrace; for, independently of a rough head, and
dust-bedecked garments, his malicious adversary had decorated his
face with multitudinous ink-spots, a spectacle which greatly provoked
the mirth of his laughter-loving school-fellows.

Dr. Wilkinson made some remark on the singularity of his pupil's
appearance, and then, commending Louis to the kind offices of
the assembled party, left the room.

He had scarcely closed the door behind him, when several loiterers
from the lower part of the room came up; and Reginald and his brother
were immediately assailed with a number of questions, aimed with such
rapidity as to be unanswerable.

"When did you come?" "Who's that, Mortimer?" "Is that your brother?"
"What's his name?" "Shall you be in our class?" "Why didn't you stay
longer in Bristol?--If I had been you I would!"

Louis was amused though puzzled, and turned first one way, and then
another, in his futile attempts to see and reply to his interrogators.

"Make way!" at last exclaimed Frank Digby; "you are quite embarrassing
to her ladyship. Will the lady Louisa take my arm? Allow me, madam, to
interpose my powerful authority." And he offered his arm to Louis with
a smirk and low bow, which set all the spectators off laughing; for
Frank was one of those privileged persons, who, having attained a
celebrity for being _very funny_, can excite a laugh with very little
trouble.

"Don't, Frank!" said Reginald.

"_Don't!_ really, Mr. Mortimer, if you have no respect for your
sister's feelings, it is time that I interposed. Here you allow this
herd of _I don't know what to call them_, to incommode her with their
senseless clamor. I protest, she is nearly fainting; she has been
gasping for breath the last five minutes. Be off, ye fussy, curious,
prying, peeping, pressing-round fellows; or, I promise you, you shall
be visited with his majesty's heaviest displeasure."

"How do you do, lady Louisa? I hope your ladyship's in good health!"
"Don't press on her!" was now echoed mischievously in various tones
around Louis, whose color was considerably heightened by this
unexpected attack.

"Now do allow me," persisted Frank, dragging Louis' hand in his arm,
in spite of all the victim's efforts to prevent it, and leading him
forcibly through the throng, which made way on every side, to Edward
Hamilton, the grave youth before mentioned:--"His majesty is anxious
to make the acquaintance of his fair subject. Permit me to present to
your majesty the lovely, gentle, blushing lady Louisa Mortimer, lately
arrived in your majesty's kingdom; your majesty will perceive that she
bears loyalty in her--hey! what! excited!--hysterics!"

The last exclamations were elicited by a violent effort of Louis to
extricate himself.

"Frank, leave him alone!"

"What is the will of royalty?" said Frank, struggling with his
refractory cousin.

"That you leave Louis Mortimer alone," said Hamilton. "You will like us
better presently, Louis," added he, shaking hands with him: "my subjects
appear to consider themselves privileged to be rude to a new-comer; but
my royal example will have its weight in due time."

"Your majesty's faithful trumpeter, grand vizier, and factotum is alive
and hearty," said Frank.

"But as he had a selfish fit upon him just now," returned Hamilton,
"we were under the necessity of doing our own business."

"I crave your majesty's pardon," said Frank, stroking his sovereign
tenderly on the shoulder; for which affectionate demonstration he was
rewarded by a violent push that laid him prostrate.

"I am a martyr to my own benevolence," said Frank, getting up and
approaching Louis, "still I am unchanged in devotion to your ladyship.
Tell me what I can do,"--and whichever way Louis turned, Frank with
his smirking face presented himself;--"Will you not give your poor
slave one command?"

"Only that you will stand out of my sunshine," said Louis good-temperedly.

"Very good," exclaimed Hamilton.

"Out of your sunshine! What, behind you? that is cruel, but most
obsequiously I obey."

Louis underwent the ordeal of a new scholar's introduction with
unruffled temper, though his cousin took care there should be little
cessation until afternoon school, when Louis was liberated from his
tormentors to his great satisfaction--Frank's business carrying him
to a part of the school-room away from that where Louis was desired to
await further orders. In the course of the afternoon, he was summoned
to the presence of Dr. Wilkinson, who was holding a magisterial levee
in one of two class-rooms or studies adjoining the school-room. The
doctor appeared in one of his sternest humors. Besides the fourteen
members of the first class, whose names Louis knew already, there
was in this room a boy about Louis' age, who seemed in some little
trepidation. Doctor Wilkinson closed the book he held, and laying it
down, dismissed his pupils; then turning to the frightened-looking boy,
he took a new book off the table, saying, "Do you know this, Harrison?"

"Yes, sir," faintly replied the boy.

"Where did you get it?"

"I bought it."

"To assist you in winning prizes from your more honorable class-fellows,
I suppose," said the doctor, with the most marked contempt. "Since you
find Kenrick too difficult for you, you may go into the third class,
where there may be, perhaps, something better suited to your capacity;
and beware a second offence: you may go, sir."

Louis felt great pity for the boy, who turned whiter still, and then
flushed up, as if ready to burst into tears.

"Well, Louis, I wish to see what rank you will be able to take,"
said the doctor, and he proceeded with his examination.

"Humph!" he ejaculated at length, "pretty well--you may try in the
second class. I can tell you that you must put your shoulder to
the wheel, and make the most of your powers, or you will soon be
obliged to leave it for a less honorable post; but let me see what
you can do--and now put these books away on that shelf." As he spoke,
the doctor pointed to a vacant place on one of the shelves that lined
two sides of the study, and left the room. Louis put the books away,
and then returned to the school-room, where he sought his brother, and
communicated his news just before the general uproar attendant on the
close of afternoon school commenced.

Reginald was one of the most noisy and eager in his preparations for
play; and, dragging Louis along with him, bounded into the fresh air,
with that keen feeling of enjoyment which the steady industrious
school-boy knows by experience.

"What a nice play-ground this is!" said Louis.

"Capital!" said Reginald. "What's the fun, Frank?" he cried to his
cousin, who bounded past him at this moment, towards a spot already
tolerably crowded.

"Maister Dunn," shouted Frank.

"Oh, the old cake-man, Louis," said Reginald; "I must go and get rid
of a few surplus pence."

"Do you like to spend your money in cakes?" asked Louis; "I have plenty,
Mrs. Colthrop took care of that."

"In that case I'll save for next time," said Reginald, "but let's go
and see what's going on."

Accordingly Reginald ran off in the cake-man's direction. Louis followed,
and presently found himself standing in the outer circle of a group of
his school-fellows, who formed a thick wall round a white-haired old
man and a boy, both of whom carried a basket on each arm, filled with
dainties always acceptable to a school-boy's palate.

[Illustration: Maister Dunn.]

Were I inclined to moralize, I might here make a few remarks on waste of
money, &c., but my business being merely to relate incidents at present,
I shall only say that there they stood, the old man and his assistant,
with the boys in constant motion and murmur around them.

Frank Digby and Hamilton were in the outer circle, the latter having
_walked_ from a direction opposite to that from which Frank and Reginald
came, but whose dignity did not prevent a certain desire to purchase if
he saw fit, and if not, to amuse himself with those who did so. He stood
watching the old man with an imperturbable air of gravity, and, hanging
on his arm in a state of listless apathy, stood Trevannion, another
member of the first class.

Frank Digby took too active a share in most things in the establishment
to remain a passive spectator of the actions of others, and began pushing
right and left. "Get along, get away ye vagabonds!" he politely cried:
"you little shrimps! what business have you to stop the way?--Alfred, you
ignoramus! Alfred, why don't you move?"

"Because I'm buying something," said the little boy addressed, looking
up very quietly at the imperious intruder.

"_Da locum melioribus_, Alfred, as the poet has it. Do you know where
to find that, my boy?--the first line of the thirteenth book of the
Aeneid, being a speech of the son of Anchises to the Queen of Carthage.
You'll find a copy of Virgil's works in my desk."

"I don't mean to look," said Alfred, "I know it's in the Delectus."

"Wonderful memory!--I admire that delectable book of yours," cried Frank,
who talked on without stopping, while forcing himself to the first rank.
"How now, Maister Dunn!" he said, addressing the old man, "I hope you
b'aint a going to treat us as e did last time. You must be reasonable;
the money market is in a sadly unflourishing condition at present."

"You always talk of the _money market_, Frank," said little Alfred:
"what do you mean by the money market?"

"It's a place, my dear--I'll explain it in a moment. Here, Maister
Dunn;--It's a place where the old women sell sovereigns a penny
a measure, Alfred."

"Oh, Frank!" exclaimed Alfred.

"Oh! and why not?" said Frank; "do you mean to say you don't believe me?
That's it,--isn't it, maister?"

"Ah, Maister Digby! ye're at yer jokes," said the old man.

"Jokes!" said Frank, with a serious air. "Pray, Mr. Dunn, did you ever
happen to notice certain brass, or copper, or bronze tables, four in
number, in front of the Bristol Exchange!"

"Ay sure, maister!"

"Well, I'll insense you into the meaning of that, presently. That, my
good sir, is where the old women stood in the good old times, crying
out, 'Here you are! sovereigns a penny a measure!' And that's the reason
people used to be so rich!"

"Oh, Frank! now I know that's only your nonsense," said Alfred.

"Well, I can't give you a comprehension, and if I could buy you one, I
couldn't afford it," answered Frank. "Now here's my place for any one;
Louis, I'll make you a present of it, as I don't want it."

"I don't want to buy any thing," said Louis.

"Rubbish!" cried Frank. "Every one does. Don't be stingy." And so
Louis allowed himself to be pushed and pulled into the crowd, and
bought something he would much rather have been without, because
he found it inconvenient to say _no_.

The two upper classes were privileged to use the largest of the
class-rooms as their sitting-room in the evenings; and here Reginald
introduced his brother after tea; and, when he had shown him his
lessons, began to prepare his own. Most of the assembled youths were
soon quietly busy, though some of the more idly disposed kept up a fire
of words, while turning over leaves, and cutting pens to pieces. Among
the latter class was Frank Digby, who was seldom known to be silent
for a quarter of an hour, and who possessed the singular power of
distracting every one's attention but his own; for, though he scarcely
ever appeared to give his lessons a moment's attention, he was generally
sufficiently prepared with them to enable him to keep his place in his
class, which was usually two from the bottom.

Louis saw that he must give his whole mind to his work; but being
unused to study in a noise, it was some time before he was well able
to comprehend what he wanted to do; and found himself continually
looking up and laughing at something around him, or replying to some
of Frank's jokes, which were often directed to him. When, by a great
exertion, he had at last forced himself to attend to Reginald's repeated
warnings, and had begun to learn in earnest, the door softly opened,
and the little boy he had noticed in the crowd that afternoon came in.

"Halloa! what do you want?" cried one of the seniors; "you have no
business here."

"Is Edward here, Mr. Salisbury?"

"No."

"Do you know where he is, please?"

"With the doctor," replied the young gentleman.

"Oh dear!" sighed the little boy, venturing to approach the table a
little nearer.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Reginald.

"I can't do this," said the child: "I wanted Edward to help me with
my exercise."

"My little dear, you have just heard that sapient Fred Salisbury declare,
in the most civil terms chooseable, that your fraternal preceptor,
Edwardus magnus, _non est inventus_," said Frank, pompously, with a
most condescending flourish of his person in the direction of the
little boy.

"And, consequently," said the afore-mentioned Mr. Salisbury, "you
have free leave to migrate to York, Bath, Jericho, or any other
equally convenient resort for bores in general, and you in particular."

"Please, Mr. Digby," said the little boy, "will you just show me this?"

"Indeed I can't," said Frank; "I can't do my own, so in all reason
you could not expect me to find brains for two exercises."

"Oh! please somebody show me--Dr. Wilkinson will be so angry if
Mr. Norton sends me up again to-morrow."

"Will you go?" shouted Salisbury, with such deliberate energy of
enunciation that Alfred shrunk back: "what's the use of your exercises,
if you're shown how to do them?"

"Come here, Alfred," said Louis, softly. Alfred readily obeyed;
and Louis, taking his book, began to show him what to do.

"Louis, you must not tell him word for word," said Reginald:
"Hamilton wouldn't like it--he never does himself."

"But I may help him to do it for himself, may I not?" said Louis.

"Yes; but, Louis, you have not time--and he is so stupid,"
replied Reginald; "you won't have time to do your own."

But Louis thought he should have time for both, and, putting his arm
round Alfred, he kindly and patiently set him in the way of doing his
lesson properly, and then resumed his own disturbed studies.

Hardly, however, was he settled than he found himself listening to Frank,
who remarked, as Alfred left the room, "We shall be sure to have 'Oars'
in soon!"

"Who do you mean by Oars?" asked Louis.

"Churchill," said Reginald, laughing.

"What an extraordinary name!" said Louis.

"I say, Digby," cried a boy from the opposite side of the table,
"they give you the credit of that cognomen--but we are all in the
dark as to its origin."

"Like the origin of all truly great," answered Frank, "it was very
simple: Churchill came one day to me with his usual 'Do tell us a bit,
that's a good fellow,' and after he had badgered me some minutes,
I asked him if he had not the smallest idea of his lesson--so, after
looking at it another minute, he begins thus, '_Omnes_, all.' 'Bravo!'
replied I. '_Conticuere_--What's that, Frank?' 'Were silent,' I answered:
'Go on.' After deep cogitation, and sundry hints, he discovered that
_tenebant_ must have some remote relationship to a verb signifying
to hold fast, and forthwith a bright thought strikes him, and on we go:
'_Intentique ora tenebant_--and intently they hold their oars,' he said,
exultingly. 'Very well,' quoth I, approvingly, and continued for him,
'_Inde toro pater_--the waters flowed glibly farther on, _ab alto_--to
the music of the spheres; the inseparable Castor and Pollux looking
down benignantly on their namesake below.' Here I was stopped by the
innocent youth's remark, that I certainly was quizzing, for he knew
that Castor and Pollux were the same in Latin as in English. Whereupon,
I demanded, with profound gravity, whether _gemini_ did not mean
twins, and if the twins were not Castor and Pollux--and if he knew
(who knew so much better than I) whether or no there might not be some
word in the Latin language, besides _gemini_, signifying twins; and
that if it was his opinion that I was quizzing, he had better do his
lesson himself. He looked hard, and, thinking I was offended, begged
pardon; and believing that _jubes_ was Castor and Pollux, we
got on quite famously--and he was quite reassured when we turned
from the descriptive to the historical, beginning with _Aeneas sic
orsus infandum_--Aeneas was such a horrid bear."

"Didn't you tell him of his mistake?" asked Louis, who could not
help laughing.

"What! spoil the fun and the lesson I meant to give him?--not I."

"Well, what then, Frank?" said Reginald.

"Why, imagine old Whitworth's surprise, when, confident in the free
translation of a first-class man, Oars flowed on as glibly as the
waters; Whitworth heard him to the end in his old dry way, and then
asked him where he got that farrago of nonsense;--I think he was
promoted to the society of dunces instanter, and learns either
Delectus or Eutropius now. Of course, he never applied again to me."

Louis did not express his opinion that Frank was ill-natured, though
he thought so, in spite of the hearty laugh with which his story was
greeted. When he turned again to his lesson, he found his book had
been abstracted.

"I tell you what," cried Reginald, fiercely, "I won't have Louis
tormented--who has taken his book? It's you, Ferrers, I am sure."

"I! did you ever!" replied that young gentleman. "I appeal to you,
Digby--did you see me touch his book?"

"I did not, certainly," said Frank.

"Give me the book," exclaimed Reginald, jumping upon the table, "give
me the book, and let's have no more such foolery."

"Get down, Mortimer, you're not transparent," cried several voices.

Reginald, however, paid no attention to the command, but pouncing upon
Ferrers at a vantage, threw him backwards off the form, tumbling over
his prostrate foe, and in his descent bringing down books, inkstand,
papers, and one of the candles, in glorious confusion.

"What's the row!" exclaimed Salisbury, adding an expression more
forcible than elegant; and, starting from his seat, he pulled Reginald
by main force from his adversary, with whom he was now struggling on
the floor, and at the same instant the remaining candle was extinguished.
Louis was almost stunned by the noise that ensued: some taking his
brother's part, and some that of Ferrers, while, in the dark, friend
struggled and quarrelled with friend as much as foe, no one attempting
to quell the tumult, until the door was suddenly burst open, and Hamilton
with Trevannion and two or three from the school-room entered. Hamilton
stood still for a moment, astonished by the unlooked-for obscurity. His
entrance checked the combatants, who at first imagined that one of their
masters had made his appearance, if that could be said to appear which
was hardly discernible in the dim light which came through the half-open
door. Hamilton begged one of the boys with him to fetch a light, and
taking advantage of the momentary lull, he called out, "Is this Bedlam,
gentlemen? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! What's the matter,
Mortimer?"

"Oh!" replied Ferrers, "they've been teasing his little brother,
and he can't abide it."

"I only mean to say, that Louis shan't be plagued in this manner,"
cried Reginald, passionately; "and you know if the others were not
here you wouldn't dare to do it, you bully!"

"For shame, Mortimer," said Hamilton, decidedly; and coming up to
Reginald he drew him a little aside, not without a little resistance
on Reginald's part--"What's the matter, Mortimer?"

"Matter! why that they are doing all they can to hinder Louis from
knowing his lessons to-morrow. I won't stand it. He has borne enough
of it, and patiently too."

"But is that any reason you should forget that you are a gentleman?"
said Hamilton.

"My book is here, dear Reginald," said Louis, touching his brother's
shoulder.

Reginald darted a fierce glance at Ferrers, but not being able to
substantiate an accusation against him, remained silent, and, under
the eye of Hamilton and his friend Trevannion, the remainder of the
evening passed in a way more befitting the high places in the school
which the young gentlemen held; but Louis had been so much interrupted,
and was so much excited and unsettled by the noise and unwonted scenes,
that when Dr. Wilkinson came at nine to read prayers, he had hardly
prepared one of his lessons for the next day.



CHAPTER II.


Louis soon made himself a universal favorite among his school-fellows;
and, though he was pronounced by some to be a "softy," and by
others honored by the equally comprehensive and euphonious titles
of "spooney" and "muff," there were few who were not won by his gentle
good-nature, and the uniform good temper, and even playfulness, with
which he bore the immoderate quizzing that fell to his lot, as a new
boarder arrived in the middle of the half-year. If there were an errand
to be run among the seniors, it was, "Louis Mortimer, will you get me
this or that?" if a dunce wanted helping, Louis was sure to be applied
to, with the certainty in both cases that the requests would be complied
with, though they might, as was too often the case, interfere with his
duties; but Louis had not courage to say _no_.

In proportion, however, as our hero grew in the good graces of his
school-fellows, he fell out of those of his masters, for lessons were
brought only half-learned, and exercises only half-written, or blotted
and scrawled so as to be nearly unintelligible; and after he had been
a fortnight at school, he seemed much more likely to descend to a lower
class than to mount a step in his own. Day after day saw Louis kept in
the school-room during play-hours, to learn lessons which ought to have
been done the night before, or to write out some long imposition as a
punishment for some neglected duty that had given place to the desire
of assisting another.

Louis always seemed in a hurry, and never did any thing well. His mind
was unsettled, and, like every thing else belonging to him at present,
in a state of undesirable confusion.

There was one resource which Louis had which would have set all to
rights, but his weakness of disposition often prevented him from taking
advantage of even the short intervals for prayer allowed by the rules
of the school, and he was often urged at night into telling stories
till he dropped asleep, and hurried down by the morning bell, before
he could summon up courage to brave the remarks of his school-fellows
as to his being so very _religious_, &c., and sometimes did not feel
sorry that there was some cause to prevent these solemn and precious
duties. I need not say he was not happy. He enjoyed nothing thoroughly;
he felt he was not steadily in earnest. Every day he came with a
beating heart to his class, never certain that he could get through
a single lesson.

One morning he was endeavoring to stammer through a few lines of some
Greek play, and at last paused, unable to proceed.

"Well, sir," said his master quietly,--"as usual, I suppose--I shall
give you only a few days' longer trial, and then, if you cannot do
better, you must go down."

"Who is that, Mr. Danby?" said a voice behind Louis, that startled him,
and turning his blanched face round, he saw Dr. Wilkinson standing near.
"Who is that, Mr. Danby?" he repeated, in a deep stern voice.

"Louis Mortimer, sir," replied Mr. Danby. "Either he is totally unfit
for this class, or he is very idle; I can make nothing of him."

Dr. Wilkinson fixed his eyes searchingly on Louis, and replied, in a
tone of much displeasure:

"If you have the same fault to find the next two days, send him into a
lower class. It is the most disgraceful idleness, Louis."

Louis' heart swelled with sorrow and shame as the doctor walked away.
He stood with downcast eyes and quivering lids, hardly able to restrain
his tears, until the class was dismissed, and he was desired to stay in
and learn his unsaid lesson.

Reginald followed his brother into the study, where Louis took his books
to learn more quietly than he could do in the school-room.

"My dear Louis," he said, "you must try; the doctor will be so displeased
if you go into a lower class; and just think what a disgrace it will be."

"I know," said Louis, wiping his eyes: "I can't tell how it is, every
thing seems to go wrong with me--I am not at all happy, and I am sure
I wish to please everybody."

"A great deal too much, dear Louis," said Reginald. "You are always
teaching everybody else, and you know you have scarcely any time
for yourself. You must tell them you _won't_ do it; I can't be always
at your elbow; I've quarrelled more with the boys than ever I did,
since you came, on your account."

"Oh dear! I am sorry I came," sighed Louis, "I do so long to be a little
quiet. Reginald, dear, I am so sorry I should give you any trouble. Oh,
I have lost all my happy thoughts, and I know every thing is sure to
go wrong."

Louis remained sadly silent for a few minutes, and then, raising his
tearful eyes to his brother, who was sitting with his chin on his hands,
watching him, he begged him to leave him, declaring he should not learn
any thing while Reginald was with him.

Thus urged, Reginald took his departure, though, with his customary
unselfish affection, he would rather have stayed and helped him.

When he was gone, Louis began slowly to turn over the leaves of his
Lexicon, in order to prepare his lesson. He had not been long thus
employed, when he was interrupted by the irruption of the greatest
dunce in the school, introduced to the reader in the former chapter
as Churchill, _alias_ Oars, a youth of fifteen, who had constant
recourse to Louis for information. He now laid his dog's-eared
Eutropius before Louis, and opened his business with his usual
"Come now, tell us, Louis--help us a bit, Louis."

"Indeed, Harry, it is impossible," said Louis sorrowfully. "I have all
my own to do, and if I do not get done before dinner I shall go into the
third class--no one helps me, you know."

"It won't take you a minute," said Churchill.

"It does take much more. You know I was an hour last night writing your
theme; and, Churchill, I do not think it is right."

"Oh stuff! who's been putting that nonsense into your head?" replied
Churchill. "It's all right and good, and like your own self, you're
such a good-natured fellow."

"And a very foolish one, sometimes," said Louis. "Can't you get somebody
else to show you?"

"Goodness gracious!" cried Churchill, "who do you think would do it
now? and no one does it so well as you. Come, I say--come now--that's
a good fellow,--now do."

"But how is it that you want to learn your lesson now," asked Louis?
"Won't the evening do?"

"No; Dr. Wilkinson has given me leave to go out with my uncle this
afternoon, if I learn this and say it to old Norton before I go; and
I am sure I shan't get it done if you don't help me."

"I cannot," said poor Louis.

"Now I know you're too good-natured to let me lose this afternoon's fun.
Come, you might have told me half."

And against his better judgment, Louis spent half an hour in hearing
this idle youth a lesson, which, with a little extra trouble he might
easily have mastered himself in three quarters of an hour.

"Thank you, Louis, you're a capital fellow; I know it now, don't I?"

"I think so," replied Louis; "and now you must not talk to me."

"What are you doing?" said Churchill, looking at his book; "oh,
'Kenrick's Greek Exercises.' If I can't tell you, I can help you
to something that will. Here's a key." As he spoke, he took down
the identical book taken from Harrison on the day of Louis' arrival,
and threw it on the table before him.

"Is that a key?" asked Louis, opening the book; "put it back, Harry,
I cannot use it."

"Why not?"

"It would not be right. Oh no! I will not, Churchill; put it up."

"How precise you are!" said Churchill; "it's quite a common thing for
those who can get them--Thompson and Harcourt always use one."

"Thompson ought to be ashamed of himself," cried Louis, "to be trying
for a prize, and use a key."

"Well, so he ought, but you won't get a prize if you begin now, and
try till breaking-up day; so you hurt nobody, and get yourself out of
a scrape. Don't be a donkey, Louis."

When Churchill left him alone Louis looked at the title-page, and
felt for an instant strongly tempted to avail himself of the assistance
of the book; but something checked him, and he laid his arms suddenly
on the table, and buried his face on them. A heavy hand laid on his
shoulder roused him from this attitude; and looking up, with his eyes
full of tears, he found Hamilton and Trevannion standing beside him.

"What's the matter, Louis?" said the former.

"I have so much to do;--I--I've been very careless and idle,"
stammered Louis.

"I can readily believe that," said Hamilton.

"A candid confession, at any rate," remarked Trevannion.

"And do you imagine that your brains will be edified by coming in
contact with these books?" asked Hamilton. "What have you to do?"

"I have this exercise to re-write, and my Greek to
learn,--and--and--twenty lines of Homer to write out.
I can't do all now--I shall have to stay in this afternoon."

"I should think that more than probable," said Trevannion.

"What have we here?" said Hamilton, taking up the key. "Hey! what!
Louis! Is this the way you are going to cheat your masters?"

"Pray don't think it?" said Louis, eagerly.

"If you use keys, I have done with you."

"Indeed I did not,--I never do,--I wasn't going. One of the boys left it
here. I am sure I did not mean to do so," cried Louis in great confusion.

"Put it back," said Hamilton, gravely, "and then I will go over your
lessons with you, and see if I can make you understand them better."

"Thank you, thank you,--how kind you are!" said poor Louis, who hastily
put the dangerous book away, and then sat down.

Hamilton smiled, and remarked, "It is but fair that one should be
assisted who loses his character in playing knight errant for all
those who need, or fancy they need, his good services: but, Louis,
you are very wrong to give up so much of your time to others; your
time does not belong to yourself; your father did not send you here
to assist Dr. Wilkinson--or, rather, I should say, to save a set of
idle boys the trouble of doing their own work. There is a vast
difference between weakness and good-nature; but now to business."

Trevannion withdrew with a book to the window, and Hamilton sat down by
Louis, and took great pains to make him give his mind to his business;
and so thoroughly did he succeed with his docile pupil, that, although
he had come in rather late, all, with the exception of the imposition,
was ready for Mr. Danby by the time the dinner-bell rang.

Louis overwhelmed Hamilton with the expression of his gratitude, and
again and again laid his little hand on that of his self-instituted
tutor. Hamilton did not withdraw his hand, though he never returned
the pressure, nor made any reply to Louis' thanks, further than an
abrupt admonition from time to time to "mind what he was about,"
and to "go on."

Several inquiries were made at the open window after Louis, but all were
answered by Trevannion, and our hero was left undisturbed to his studies.

That evening Louis had the satisfaction of being seated near his friend
Hamilton, who, with a good-natured air of authority, kept him steadily
at work until his business was properly concluded. Unhappily for Louis,
Hamilton was not unfrequently with the doctor in the evenings, or he
might generally have relied on his protection and assistance: however,
for the next two or three days, Louis steadily resisted all allurements
to leave his own lesson until learned; and, in consequence, was able to
report to Hamilton the desirable circumstance of his having gained two
places in his class.



CHAPTER III.


For some time before Louis' arrival at Ashfield House, preparations
had been making in the doctor's domestic _menage_ for the approaching
marriage of Miss Wilkinson, the doctor's only daughter. The young
gentlemen had, likewise, their preparations for the auspicious event,
the result of which was a Latin Epithalamium, composed by the seniors,
and three magnificent triumphal arches, erected on the way from the
house-door to the gate of the grounds. Much was the day talked of,
and eagerly were plans laid, both by masters and pupils, for the proper
enjoyment of the whole holiday that had been promised on the occasion,
and which, by the way--whatever young gentlemen generally may think of
their masters' extreme partiality for teaching--was now a greater boon
to the wearied and over-fagged ushers, than to the party for whose
enjoyment it was principally designed.

The bridal day came.--No need to descant on the weather. The sun shone
as brightly as could be desired, and as the interesting procession passed
under the green bowers, cheer after cheer rose on the air, handfuls of
flowers were trodden under the horses' feet, and hats, by common consent,
performed various somersaults some yards above their owners' heads.

There was a long watch till the carriages returned, and the same scene
was enacted and repeated, when the single vehicle rolled away from the
door; and the last mark of honor having been paid, the party dispersed
over the large playground, each one in search of his own amusement. Louis
wandered away by himself, and enjoyed a quiet hour unmolested, and tried,
with the help of his little hymn-book, and thinking over old times, to
bring back some of his former happy thoughts. There were more than
ordinary temptations around him, and he felt less able to resist them;
and this little rest from noise and hurry was to him very grateful.
When, at length, a little party found out his retreat and begged him
to join in a game of "hocky," he complied with a light and merry heart,
freer from that restless anxiety to which he had been lately so much
subject.

In the afternoon, determining to let nothing interfere with the learning
of his lessons, Louis sat down in the school-room to business. There were
but two persons besides himself in the room, one of whom was an usher,
who was writing a letter, and the other, his school-fellow Ferrers. The
latter was sitting on the opposite side of the same range of desks Louis
had chosen, very intently engaged in the same work which had brought
Louis there.

Louis felt very happy in the consciousness that he was foregoing
the pleasure of the merry playground for the stern business that his
duty had imposed on him; and the noise of his companions' voices,
and the soft breezes that came in through the open door leading into
the playground, only spurred him on to finish his work as quickly
as possible.

Ferrers and his younger _vis-a-vis_ pursued their work in silence,
apparently unconscious of the presence of each other, until the
former, raising his head, asked Louis to fetch him an atlas out
of the study.

"With pleasure," said Louis, jumping up and running into the study;
he returned almost immediately with a large atlas, and laid it down
on Ferrers' books. He had once more given his close attention to his
difficult exercises, when a movement from his companion attracted
his notice.

"Did you speak?" he said.

"Will you--oh, never mind, I'll do it myself," muttered Ferrers,
rising and going into the class-room himself.

Louis had become again so intent upon his study, that he was hardly
aware of the return of his school-fellow, nor did he notice the
precipitation with which he hurried into his place, and half hid
the book he had brought with him, a book that he imagined to be a
key to his exercises, but which, in fact, was a counterpart to that
taken away from Harrison, though bound exactly like the one Ferrers
had gone for, and so nearly the same size as easily to be mistaken
for it in the confusion attendant on the abstraction of it.

Just at this moment, Hamilton, Trevannion, and Salisbury, with one or
two more of the first class, entered from the playground, and walked
directly across to Ferrers.

Alive to all the disgrace of being found by his class-fellows in
possession of a key, and unable to return it unobserved, Ferrers,
in the first moment of alarm, tried to push it into the desk at
which he was writing, but finding it locked, he stood up with as
much self-possession as he could assume, and pretending to be
looking among his books and papers, managed, unobserved, to pass
the obnoxious volume over to Louis' heap of books, laying it half
under one of them. Louis was wholly unconscious of the danger so
near him, and did not raise his held from his absorbing occupation
when the fresh comers approached the desk.

"Ferrers," said Salisbury, as they came up, "we want your advice on
a small matter; come with us into the class-room."

Accordingly Ferrers obeyed, glad to leave the dangerous spot, and Louis
was left in undisturbed possession of the apartment for more than half
an hour, at the end of which time the party returned from the inner
room laughing, and all walked out of doors. Just as they passed out,
Mr. Witworth, the usher, approached Louis, and asked him if he could
lend him a pencil. Louis laid his pen down, and began to search his
pockets for a pencil he knew should be there, when he was startled by
the ejaculation of the master:

"Hey!--what!--This is it, is it? So I have found you out, sir."

Louis looked up in alarm. "Found me out, sir?" he said, in a terrified
tone: "what have I done?"

"Done!" exclaimed Mr. Witworth,--"done, indeed: what are you doing there?"

"My exercise, sir."

"To be sure, to be sure. What's the meaning of this, sir?" and he held
up the key. "What have you done, indeed!--you hoped that it was nicely
concealed, I dare say. I wonder how you can be so artful."

"I am sure I don't know any thing about that book," said Louis,
in great agitation.

"Admirably acted," said Mr. Witworth. "It wouldn't walk here, however,
Master Mortimer: some one must have brought it."

"I am sure I don't know who did--I don't indeed," said poor Louis,
despairingly.

"Perhaps you'll try to make me believe you don't know what it is,
and that you never saw the book before," remarked Mr. Witworth,
scornfully.

"I do know what it is, but I never used it, I do assure you, sir,
and I did not bring it here. Will you not believe me?"

"It is very likely that I should believe you, is it not? Well, sir,
this book goes up with you to-morrow to Dr. Wilkinson, and we shall
see how much he will believe of your story. This accounts for your
apparent industry lately." So saying, Mr. Witworth walked off with
the book in his hand, leaving Louis in the greatest distress.

"And all my pains are quite lost!" he exclaimed, as he burst into tears.
"The doctor is sure not to believe me, and there will be--oh, who could
have left it there?"

"Louis, are you coming out this afternoon; what's the matter?"
exclaimed the welcome voice of his brother.

"What, Lady Louisa in tears! Here's the ink bottle; do let me catch the
crystal drops," said Frank Digby, who accompanied Reginald in search of
his brother.

"Oh, Reginald!" exclaimed Louis, regardless of Frank's nonsense, "some
one has left a key to my exercises on my books, and Mr. Witworth has
just found it. What shall I do?"

"_Some one has left_," ejaculated Frank. "That's a good story, Louis;
only one can't quite swallow it, you know. Who would leave it, eh?"

"How? where, Louis?" said Reginald.

"It was just here it was found. I am sure I cannot think who put
it there."

"Well of all the"--began Frank; "my astonishment positively chokes me.
Louis, are you not ashamed of yourself?"

"Oh, Frank! I am speaking the truth; I am, indeed, I am--Reginald,
I am, you know I am."

"It is very strange," remarked Reginald, who was standing with a
clouded, unsatisfied brow, and did not exhibit that enthusiasm
respecting his innocence which Louis expected from him. Reginald
knew too much, and dared not yet be certain when appearances were
so sadly against him.

"Reginald, dear Reginald, tell me," cried Louis, almost frantically;
"surely you believe me?"

"Believe you!" echoed Frank, scornfully; "he knows you too well,
and so do I. Remember last year, Louis: you'd better have thought
of it sooner."

Reginald cast a threatening glance on his cousin, who undauntedly
replied to it.

"You can't gainsay that, at any rate, Reginald."

"Reginald, dear Reginald," cried Louis, with streaming eyes, "you know
I always spoke the truth to you; I declare solemnly that I am speaking
only the truth now."

Reginald looked gloomily at his brother.

"Indeed it is. If you will not believe me, who will?"

"Who, indeed?" said Frank.

"I do believe you, Louis," said Reginald, quickly, "I do believe you;
but this matter must be sifted. It is very strange, but I will make all
the inquiries I can. Who sat with you?"

"Ferrers was sitting there," replied Louis.

"Any one else?"

"No," replied Louis.

"I'll answer for it, it was Ferrers," said Reginald.

"A likely story," said Frank.

"I think it very likely," said Reginald, firmly, "and woe be to him
if he has."

As he finished speaking, Reginald ran off in search of Ferrers,
whom he found in a group of the head boys, into the midst of which
he burst without the smallest ceremony.

"Manners!" exclaimed Hamilton; "I beg your pardon, Mr. Mortimer,
for standing in your way."

"I am very sorry," said Reginald, bluntly, "but I can't stand
upon ceremony. Ferrers, what have you been doing with Kenrick's
Exercises--I mean the key to it?"

"I!" cried Ferrers, reddening violently; "what--what do you mean,
Mortimer?"

"You have left the key on Louis' desk, to get him into a scrape--you
know you have."

"Upon my word, Mortimer! what next!" exclaimed Salisbury. "Who do you
think would fash themselves about such a little hop-o'-my-thumb?"

"Will you let Ferrers answer!" cried Reginald, imperiously.

Unconscious of the mistake he had made, Ferrers felt exceedingly
uncomfortable in his present position, and, assuming an air of
contemptuous indignation, he turned his back on Reginald, saying
as he did so, "Such impertinence merits nothing but silent contempt."

"You did it, you coward!" cried Reginald, enraged almost beyond control.
"I know you did, and _you_ know you did. Will you answer me?"

"Answer him, Ferrers, answer him at once, and let us have an end of his
impertinence," cried several voices: "he's like a wild-cat."

"Well then, I did not," said Ferrers, turning round with a violent
effort; "will that satisfy you?"

Reginald glared angrily and doubtfully on the changing countenance of
the speaker, and then burst out vehemently,

"I don't believe a word you say: you did it either to spite him,
or you mistook your aim. Do you never use keys, Mr. Ferrers?"

"Really, Mortimer!" exclaimed Trevannion, "your language is very
intemperate and ungentlemanly. I have no doubt your brother knows
how to help himself; and now, for your comfort, know that I saw him
the other day with that same book, and here is Hamilton, who can
corroborate my statement."

"Where? when?" asked Reginald, in a subdued tone.

"In the class-room alone, when he was writing his exercise. Hamilton,
am I not right?"

Hamilton nodded.

"Dr. Wilkinson will do justice to-morrow," said Reginald, as after
a moment's painful silence he looked up with assumed confidence,
and turned proudly away from Ferrers' reassured look of exultation,
though the latter hardly dared exult, for he thought Reginald had
mistaken the book, and feared the suspicions that might rest on
himself when it should be discovered that it was not a second-class
key. "And now, Mortimer, let's have no more of this violent language,"
said Hamilton. "If the matter is to come before the doctor, he will
do all justice; let him be sole arbitrator; but I would not bring it
before him were I in your place. Make an apology to Ferrers, and say
nothing more. You will do your brother more harm than good."

"_Make an apology_," said Reginald, ironically; "I haven't changed
my mind yet. It must come before the doctor. Mr. Witworth found the
book, and has carried it by this time, or certainly will carry it,
to head-quarters."

"Come along with me, and tell me the whole affair," said Hamilton.

While Reginald was unfolding the matter to Hamilton, the party they had
left was reinforced by Frank Digby, who warmly took Ferrers' part, and
enlightened the company as to many particulars of his cousin's former
character: and so much was said about the injury Reginald had done to
Ferrers by his suspicions, that when that youth discovered the certainty
of the mistake he had made, he was so far involved as to render it
impossible to him to acknowledge that even out of a spirit of teasing
he had placed the book near Louis; and his anxiety was so great to free
himself from any suspicion, that he was selfishly and ungenerously
insensible to the trouble entailed upon Louis, whom he disliked on
account of his superiority to himself, but on whom he had not seriously
contemplated inflicting so great an injury--so imperceptibly does one
fault lead to another, so unable are we to decide where the effects of
one false step, one dishonest thought, shall end.

The story was soon spread among Louis' immediate companions, who were
anxious to learn the cause of his swollen eyes and sad demeanor, and
Louis had to endure many sneers, and, what was still harder to bear,
much silent contempt from those whose high sense of honor made them
despise any approach to the meanness of which he was supposed guilty.
Hamilton, though in the study the whole evening, took no notice of him,
and when his eyes met Louis', they bore no more consciousness of his
presence than if he had been a piece of stone. Frank Digby did not
tease Louis, but he let fall many insinuations, and a few remarks so
bitter in their sarcasm, that Reginald more than once looked up with
a glance so threatening in its fierceness, that it checked even that
audacious speaker. Even little Alfred was not allowed to sit with Louis;
though Hamilton made no remark, nor even alluded to the subject to his
brother, he called him immediately to himself, and only allowed him to
leave him at bed-time.

As the elder boys went up stairs to bed, Frank continued his aggravating
allusions to Louis' weakness, but in so covert a manner, that no one but
those acquainted with Louis' former history could have understood their
import. For some time Reginald pretended not to hear them; there was a
strong struggle within him, for his high spirit rose indignantly at his
cousin's unkindness, yet was for some time checked by a better feeling
within; but, at length, on Frank's making some peculiarly insulting
remark in a low tone, his pent-up ire boiled forth, and, in the madness
of his fury, he seized on his cousin with a strength that passion
rendered irresistible. "You've tried to provoke me to this all the
evening--you _will_ have it, you dastardly coward! you WILL have
it, will you?"

These exclamations were poured forth in a shout, and Reginald, after
striking his cousin several violent blows, threw him from him with such
force that his head struck against the door-post, and he fell motionless
to the ground, the blood streaming from a wound in his forehead.

There was an awful silence for a minute. The boys, horror-struck, stood
as if paralyzed, gazing on the inanimate form of their school-fellow.
Reginald's passion subsided in an instant; his face turned pale, the
color fled from his lips, and clasping his hands in terror, he muttered,
"Oh! what have I done!" and then there was a shout, "Oh, Frank Digby's
killed! Digby's killed--he's dead!"

Hamilton at length pushed forward and raised Frank's head. And at this
moment Mr. Norton and Dr. Wilkinson, with two or three of the servants,
came from different directions. The crowd round Frank made way for the
doctor, who hurriedly approached, and assisted Hamilton to raise Frank
and carry him to his bed.

"He's dead, he's dead!" cried the boys all round.

"How did this happen?" asked the doctor, and without waiting for an
answer he tore open the handkerchief and collar of the insensible youth,
and dispatched some one immediately for a medical man. One was sent for
a smelling-bottle, another for some water, and Mrs. Wilkinson soon made
her appearance with a fan, and other apparatus for restoring a fainting
person. But it was long before there were any signs of returning life.
It was a terrible time for Reginald. It was agony to look on the
motionless form, and blood-streaked countenance before him--to watch
the cloud of anxiety that seemed to deepen on his master's face as
each new restorative failed its accustomed virtue,--to listen to the
subdued murmurs and fearful whispers, and to note the blanched faces
of his school-fellows. He stood with clasped hands, and there was a
prayer in his heart that he might not be called to suffer so very
deeply for this sinful expression of his temper. What if he should
have sent his cousin unprepared into eternity? Oh, what would he
give to see one motion; what, that he had been able to restrain his
ungovernable fury! There was almost despair in his wild thoughts, when
at last Frank sighed faintly, and then opened his eyes. He closed them
immediately, and just then the surgeon arriving, more potent remedies
were used, and he was at length restored to consciousness, though
unable to speak aloud. Doctor Wilkinson had him removed to another
room, and after seeing him comfortably arranged, returned to Reginald's
bedroom.

"Now, how did this happen?" he said.

No one spoke, and the silence was only broken by the sound of sobs from
the further end of the room.

"Who did this?" asked the doctor again.

"I did, sir," said Reginald, in a broken voice.

"Come forward. Who is it that speaks?" said Doctor Wilkinson. "Mortimer!
is this some passion of yours that has so nearly caused the death of
your cousin? I am deeply grieved to find that your temper is still so
ungovernable. What was the matter?"

Reginald was incapable of answering, and none of his companions
understood the quarrel; so Doctor Wilkinson left the room, determined
to make a strict investigation the next morning.

Poor Reginald was almost overwhelmed: he knelt with his brother after
their candle was extinguished, by their bedside, and both wept bitterly,
though quite silently. Distress at his own fault, and his brother's
new trouble, and deep thankfulness that his cousin was alive, and not
dangerously hurt, filled Reginald's mind, and kept him awake long after
all besides in the room were asleep.



CHAPTER IV.


The next morning, after the early school-hours, Doctor Wilkinson kept
Reginald back as he was following the stream to breakfast, and led
the way into the class-room, where, after closing the door, he seated
himself, and motioning Reginald to draw closer to him, thus opened
his inquiry.

"I wish to know, Mortimer, how this affair began last night: it appears,
from all I can make out, to have been a most unprovoked attack on your
part, but as there is often more than appears on the surface, I shall
be glad to hear what you have to allege in extenuation of your savage
conduct."

Reginald colored very deeply, and dropping his eyes under the piercing
gaze of his master, remained silent.

"Am I to conclude from your silence that you have no excuse to make?"
asked the doctor in a tone of mixed sorrow and indignation; "and am I
to believe that from some petty insult you have allowed your temper
such uncontrolled sway as nearly to have cost your cousin his life?"

"I had very great provocation," said Reginald, sullenly.

"And what might that be?" asked his master. "If the wrong be on Digby's
side, you can have no hesitation in telling me what the wrong was."

Reginald made no answer, and, after a pause, Dr. Wilkinson continued:
"Unless you can give me some reason, I must come to the conclusion
that you have again given way to your violent passions without even
the smallest excuse of injury from another. The assertion that you
have been 'provoked' will not avail you much: I know that Digby is
teasing and provoking, and is therefore very wrong, but if you cannot
bear a little teasing, how are you to get on in the world? You are
not a baby now, though you have acted more like a wild beast than
a reasonable creature. I am willing and desirous to believe that
something more than usual has been the cause of this ebullition of
temper, for I hoped lately that you were endeavoring to overcome this
sad propensity of yours."

"I assure you, sir," said Reginald, raising his open countenance to his
master's, "I tried very much to bear with Frank, and I think I should
if he had not said so much about--about--"

Here Reginald's voice failed; a sensation of choking anger prevented
him from finishing his sentence.

"About what?" said the doctor, steadily.

"About my brother," said Reginald, abruptly.

"And what did he say about your brother that chafed you so much?"

Reginald changed color, and his eyes' lighted up with passion. He did
not reply at first, but as his master seemed quietly awaiting his answer,
he at length burst out,--

"He had been going on all the afternoon about Louis: he tried to put
me in a passion; he said all he could--every thing that was unkind and
provoking, and it was more than a fellow could stand. I bore it as long
as I could--"

"You are giving me a proof of your gentle endurance now, I suppose,"
said the doctor.

"I beg your pardon, sir, but I can't help it,--I feel so angry when I
think of it, that I am afraid I should knock him down again if he were
to repeat it."

"For shame, sir!" said the doctor, sternly; "I should have thought that
you had already had a lesson you would not easily have forgotten. What
did he say of your brother that irritated you? I insist upon knowing."

"He said Louis was--that Louis did not speak the truth, sir. He said
that I believed it--that _I_ believed it"--and Reginald's passionate
sobs choked his utterance.

"Believed what?" asked the doctor.

"Something that happened yesterday," said Reginald; "he said that--he
was a hypocrite, and he went on taunting me about last summer."

"_About last summer!_" repeated the doctor.

"Yes, sir--about a mistake. Nobody makes allowances for Louis. I could
have borne it all if he had not said that _I_ knew Louis was a liar. I'd
knock any one down that I was able who should say so! Indeed," continued
Reginald, fiercely, "I begged him to leave off, and not provoke me, but
he would have it, and he knew what I was."

"Enough--enough--hush," said Dr. Wilkinson: "I beg I may hear no more
of knocking down. Don't add to your fault by working yourself into a
passion with me. Some provocation you certainly have had, but nothing
can justify such unrestrained fury. Consider what would have been your
condition at present, if your rage had been fatal to your cousin; it
would have availed you little to have pleaded the aggravation; your
whole life would have been embittered by the indulgence of your vengeful
feelings--one moment have destroyed the enjoyment of years. Thank God,
Mortimer, that you have been spared so terrible a punishment. But you
will always be in danger of this unless you learn to put a curb on your
hasty temper. The same feelings which urge you into a quarrel as a boy,
will hurry you into the duel as a man. It is a false spirit of honor and
manliness that makes you so ready to resent every little insult. In the
life of the only perfect Man that ever lived, our great Example and
Master, we do not see this impatience of contradiction: 'When He was
reviled, He reviled not again;' and if He, the Lord of all, could
condescend to endure such contradiction of sinners against Himself,
shall it be too much for us to bear a little with the contradiction of
our fellow-creatures? My boy, if we do not strive to bear a little
of the burden and heat of the day, we are not worthy to bear the noble
name of Christians."

"I am very sorry, sir," said Reginald, quite softened by the earnest
manner of his master; "I am very sorry I have been so hasty and wrong.
I dare not make any promises for the future, for I know I cannot
certainly keep them, but, with God's help, I hope to remember what
you have so kindly said to me."

"With His help we may do all things," said Dr. Wilkinson; "you may by
this help overcome the stumbling-stone of your violent passions, which
otherwise may become an effectual barrier in the way of your attaining
the prize of eternal life; and remember that 'he that is slow to anger
is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that
taketh a city.'"

There was a minute's silence, which Reginald broke by asking if he
might attend on Frank until he was well.

"Can I hope that you will be gentle," said the doctor; "that you will
remember he is in invalid--one of your making, Mortimer; and that if he
is impatient and fretful, you are the cause?"

"I will try, sir, to make amends to him," said Reginald, looking down;
"I hope I may be able to be patient."

"I will give orders that you may go to him," said the doctor; and after
a pause, he added, "another offence of this kind I shall visit with the
heaviest displeasure. I am in hopes that the anxiety you have undergone,
and the present state of your cousin, may be a lesson to you; but if
I find this ineffectual, I shall cease to consider you a reasonable
creature, and shall treat you accordingly."

Dr. Wilkinson then rose and left the room. Reginald lingered a few
minutes to compose himself before joining his school-fellows; his heart
was very full, and he felt an earnest desire to abide by his master's
counsel, as well as grateful for the leniency and kindness with which
he had been treated, which made him feel his fault much more deeply
than the severest punishment.

The breakfast time was very unpleasant for Louis that morning; he was
full of anxiety as to the result of Mr. Witworth's discovery, and his
sickness of heart entirely deprived him of appetite. When the meal was
dispatched, Reginald went off to Frank, whom he found in a darkened
room, very restless and impatient. He had passed a very bad night, and
was suffering considerable pain. Reginald had to endure much ill-nature
and peevishness; all of which he endeavored to bear with gentleness, and
during the time Frank was ill, he gave up all his play-hours to wait on
him and to amuse him as he grew better; and the exercise of patience
which this office entailed was greatly beneficial to his hasty and
proud spirit.

Mr. Danby was in the midst of the second-class lessons that morning,
when one of the first class brought him a little slip of paper. Mr.
Danby glanced at the few words written thereon, and when the class
had finished he desired Louis to go to Dr. Wilkinson. All remnant of
color fled from Louis' cheek, though he obeyed without making any reply,
and with a very sinking heart entered the room where the doctor was
engaged with the first class. The keen eye of his master detected him
the instant he made his appearance, but he took no notice of him until
he had finished his business; then, while his pupils were putting up
their books he turned to Louis, and pointing to a little table by his
side, said, "_There_ is a volume, Louis Mortimer, with which I suspect
you have some acquaintance."

Louis advanced to the table, and beheld the Key to Kenrick's Greek
Exercises.

"You know it?" said the doctor.

"Yes, sir, but I did not use it," said Louis.

"You will not deny that it was found among your books in the
school-room," said the doctor.

"I know, sir, Mr. Witworth found it, but I assure you I did not
put it there," replied Louis, very gently.

"Have you never used it at all?" asked Dr. Wilkinson.

"Never, sir," replied Louis, firmly.

At this moment, he met the eye of Hamilton, who was standing near
Dr. Wilkinson, and who looked very scornfully and incredulously at
him as he paused to hear the result of the inquiry. Louis remembered
that Hamilton had seen the key Churchill had left, and he hastily
exclaimed, "I assure you, Mr. Hamilton, I did not."

"What is this, Hamilton?" said Dr. Wilkinson, turning round.
"Do you know any thing of this matter?"

"I would much rather not answer," said Hamilton, abruptly,
"if you will excuse me, sir."

"I must, however, beg that you will, if you please," replied the doctor.

"I really know nothing positively, I can say nothing certainly. You
would not wish, sir, that any imagination of mine should prejudice
you to Louis Mortimer's disadvantage; I am not able to say any thing,"
and Hamilton turned away in some confusion, vexed that he should have
been appealed to.

Dr. Wilkinson looked half perplexed--he paused a moment and fixed his
eyes on the table. Louis ventured to say, "Mr. Hamilton saw a book once
before with my lesson books, but I never used it."

"What do you mean by _saw a book_?" asked the doctor. "What book did
Mr. Hamilton see? How came it there, and why was it there?"

"It was 'Kenrick's Greek Exercises,' sir."

"You mean the 'Key,' I suppose?"

Louis answered in the affirmative.

"Whose was it?" asked the doctor, with a countenance more ominous
in its expression.

"It was the one you took from Harrison, sir," replied Louis.

"Humph! I thought I took it away. Bring it here." Louis obeyed,
and the doctor having looked at it, continued, "Well, you had this
_with your lesson books_, you say. How did it come there?"

"One of the boys gave it to me, sir," replied Louis.

"And why did you not put it away?"

"I was going, sir;" and the color rushed into Louis' pale face. "I did
not use it--and I hope I should not."

"Who left the book?" asked Dr. Wilkinson.

"Churchill, sir."

"Call Churchill, Salisbury."

Salisbury obeyed; and during his absence a profound silence reigned in
the room, for all the first class were watching the proceedings in deep
interest. Dr. Wilkinson seemed lost in thought; and Louis, in painful
anxiety, scanned the strongly marked countenance of his master, now
wearing its most unpleasing mask, and those of Hamilton and Trevannion,
alternately. Hamilton did not look at him, but bent over a table at
a book, the leaves of which he nervously turned. Trevannion eyed him
haughtily as he leaned in his most graceful attitude against the wall
behind the doctor's chair; and poor Louis read his condemnation in his
eyes, as well as in the faces of most present.

Salisbury at length returned with Churchill, who was the more awe-struck
at the unwonted summons, as he was so low in the school as seldom to have
any business with the principal.

"Churchill," said the doctor, gravely, "I have sent for you to hear what
is said of you. Now, Louis Mortimer, who gave you this book on the day
Mr. Hamilton discovered it in your possession?"

"Churchill, sir," replied Louis, in great agitation; "you did, Churchill,
did you not? Oh! do say you did."

"Hush," said the doctor. "What have you to say against this, Churchill?"

"Nothing, sir--I did--I gave it to Louis Mortimer," stammered Churchill,
looking from Louis to the doctor, and back again.

"And how came you to give it to him?"

Churchill did not reply until the question was repeated, when he
reluctantly said, he had given it to Louis to assist him in his
exercise.

"Did Mortimer ask you for it?"

"No, sir."

"Did he wish for it?"

"No, sir, not that I know of."

"You know, Harry, that I asked you to put it away--did I not?"
cried Louis.

"I don't know--yes--I think you did," said Churchill, growing very hot.

"Why did you not put it away?" asked Dr. Wilkinson.

"Because I thought he wanted it, please sir."

"But I did not, Harry! I told you I did not," said Louis, eagerly.

Dr. Wilkinson desired Louis to be silent, and continued his questions--

"Did you try to persuade him to use it?"

Again Churchill paused, and again confessed, most unwillingly, that
he had done so--and received a severe reprimand for his conduct on the
occasion, and a long task to write out which would keep him employed
during the play-hours of that day.

He was then dismissed, and Dr. Wilkinson again addressed himself to
Louis: "I am glad to find that part of your story is correct; but I
now wish you to explain how my key found its way into the school-room
yesterday, when discovered by Mr. Witworth. The book must have been
deliberately taken out of this room into the school-room. You appear
to have been alone, or nearly so, in the school-room the greater part
of yesterday afternoon, and Mr. Witworth found the book half concealed
by your lesson books while you were writing your exercises."

"I assure you, sir, I did not take it," said Louis.

"Unhappily," replied Dr. Wilkinson, "I cannot take a mere assurance
in the present instance. Had not the case been so palpable, I should
have been bound to believe you until I had had reason to mistrust your
word--but with these facts I _cannot_, Louis;" and he added, in a very
low tone, so as to be heard only by Louis, who was much nearer to him
than the others, "Your honor has not always been sacred--beware."

His school-fellows wondered what made the red flush mount so furiously
in Louis' forehead, and the tears spring to his eyes. The painful feelings
called forth by his master's speech prevented him from speaking for a few
minutes. He was roused by Dr. Wilkinson saying--

"The discovery of this Key in your possession would involve your
immediate dismissal from the second class, a sufficient disgrace, but
the matter assumes a far more serious aspect from these assertions of
innocence. If you had not used the book when discovered, it must have
been taken either by you, or another, for use. The question is now,
who took it?"

"I did not, sir," said Louis, in great alarm.

"Who did, then? Were any of your class with you?"

"No, sir."

"Was any one with you?"

Louis paused. A sudden thought flashed across him--a sudden recollection
of seeing that book passed over and slipped among his books; an action he
had taken no notice of at the time, and which had never struck him till
this moment. He now glanced eagerly at Ferrers, and then, in a tremulous
voice, said, "I remember now, Ferrers put it there--I am almost sure."

"Ferrers!" exclaimed the young men, with one voice.

"What humbugging nonsense!" said Salisbury, in a low tone.

"Do you hear, Mr. Ferrers?" said the doctor: "how came you to put that
Key among Louis Mortimer's books?"

"I, sir--I never," stammered Ferrers. "What should I want with it?
What good could I get by it? Is it likely?"

"I am not arguing on the possibility of such an event, I simply wish
to know if you did it?" said the doctor.

"I, sir--no," exclaimed Ferrers, with an air of injured innocence.
"If I had done it, why did he not accuse me at once, instead of
remembering it all of a sudden?"

"Because I only just remembered that I saw you moving something
towards me, and I am _almost_ sure it was that book now--I think
so," replied Louis.

"You'd better be quite sure," said Ferrers.

Dr. Wilkinson looked from one to the other, and his look might have made
a less unprincipled youth fear to persist in so horrible a falsehood.

"Were you learning your lessons in the school-room yesterday afternoon,
Mr. Ferrers, at the same time with Louis Mortimer?" Ferrers acknowledging
this, Dr. Wilkinson sent for Mr. Witworth, and asked him if he had
observed either Ferrers or Louis go into the study during the afternoon,
and if he knew what each brought out with him. Mr. Witworth replied that
both went in, but he did not know what for.

"I went in to get an atlas for Ferrers," cried Louis, in great agitation.

"I got the atlas myself, Mortimer, you know," said Ferrers.

Louis was quite overcome. He covered his face with his hands, and burst
into tears.

"This is a sad business," said Dr. Wilkinson, very gravely; "much
worse than I expected--one of you must be giving utterance to the
most frightful untruths. Which of you is it?"

"What would Ferrers want with the Key to The Greek Exercises sir?"
suggested Trevannion, "unless he wished to do an ill turn to Mortimer,
which you cannot suppose."

"I have hitherto trusted Mr. Ferrers," replied Dr. Wilkinson; "and
am not disposed to withdraw that confidence without sufficient cause.
Mr. Ferrers, on your word of honor, am I to believe your statement?"

Ferrers turned pale, but the doctor's steady gaze was upon him, and all
his class-fellows awaited his reply--visions of disgrace, contempt, and
scorn were before him, and there was no restraining power from within to
check him, as he hastily replied, "On my word of honor, sir."

"I must believe you, then, as I can imagine no motive which could
induce you to act dishonorably by this boy, were I to discover that
any one in my school had acted so, his immediate expulsion should be
the consequence."

The dead silence that followed the doctor's words struck coldly on the
heart of the guilty coward.

"Now, Louis Mortimer," said the doctor, sternly, "I wish to give you
another chance of confessing your fault."

Louis' thick convulsive sobs only replied to this. After waiting a
few minutes, Dr. Wilkinson said, "Go now to the little study joining
my dining-room, and wait there till I come: I shall give you half an
hour to consider."

Louis left the room, and repaired to the study, where he threw himself
on a chair in a paroxysm of grief, which, for the first quarter of an
hour, admitted of no alleviation: "He had no character. The doctor had
heard all before. All believed him guilty--and how _could_ Ferrers act
so? How could it ever be found out? And, oh! his dear father and mother,
and his grandfather, would believe it."

By degrees the violence of his distress subsided, and he sent up his
tearful petitions to his heavenly Father, till his overloaded heart
felt lightened of some of its sorrow. As he grew calmer, remembrances
of old faults came before him, and he thought of a similar sin of his
own, and how nearly an innocent person had suffered for it--and this
he felt was much easier to bear than the consciousness of having
committed the fault himself; and he remembered the sweet verses in
the first Epistle of St. Peter: "What glory is it if, when ye be
buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently; but if when ye do well
and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto ye were called, because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example that we should follow His steps: who did no sin,
neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled
not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself
to Him that judgeth righteously,"--and the feeling of indignation
against Ferrers was gradually changed into almost pity for him, for
Louis knew by experience the pain of a loaded conscience. While his
thoughts thus ran over the past and present, he heard the firm step
of Dr. Wilkinson crossing the hall, and nearly at the same moment that
gentleman entered the room. There was no pity in his countenance--the
dark lines in his face seemed fixed in their most iron mould; and
briefly announcing to his trembling pupil that the time allowed him
for consideration had expired, he asked whether he were prepared to
acknowledge his fault. Louis meekly persisted in his denial, which
had only the effect of making the doctor consider him a more hardened
offender; and after a few words, expressing the strongest reprehension
of his wickedness and cowardice, he gave him severe caning, and sent
him immediately to bed, although it was but the middle of the day.
In spite of the better feelings which urged poor Louis to acknowledge
the justice, under the circumstances, of his master's proceedings, he
could not help thinking that he had been very hardly treated. He hurried
up stairs, glad to indulge his grief in silence. How many times, in the
affliction of the next few hours, did he repeat a little hymn he had
learned at home:

    "Thy lambs, dear Shepherd, that are weak,
        Are thy peculiar care;
    'Tis Thine in judgment to afflict,
        And Thine in love to spare.

    "Though young in years, yet, oh! how oft
        Have I a rebel been;
    My punishment, O Lord, is mild,
        Nor equals all my sin.

    "Since all the chastisements I feel
        Are from Thy love alone,
    Let not one murmuring thought arise,
        But may Thy will be done.

    "Then let me blush with holy shame,
        And mourn before my Lord,
    That I have lived to Thee no more,
        No more obeyed Thy word."

                      --"Hymns for Sunday-Schools"

At last he fell asleep, and oh! to wake; from that sleep! It was surely
good to be afflicted, and in the happiness of his mind Louis forgot his
trouble. But he had yet to endure much more, and the bitterest part of
his punishment came the next morning, when, according to his master's
orders, he repaired to the study with his books. He had been desired to
remain in this room out of school-hours, and was forbidden to speak
to any of his school-fellows without leave. While he was sitting
there the first morning after the inquiry related in this chapter,
Dr. Wilkinson entered with a letter, and sat down at the table where
Louis was reading. As he opened his desk, he said, "I have a painful
task to perform. This is a letter from your father, Louis Mortimer,
and he particularly requests that I should give him an account of
your conduct and your brother's; you know what an account I can give
of you both."

Louis had listened very attentively to his master's speech, and when
it was concluded he gave way to such a burst of sorrow as quite touched
the doctor. For some minutes he wept almost frantically, and then
clasping his hands, he implored Dr. Wilkinson not to tell his father
what had happened: "It will break mamma's heart, it will break mamma's
heart, sir--do not tell my father."

"Confess your fault, Louis, and I may then speak of amendment,"
said the doctor.

"I cannot, indeed--indeed I cannot. It will all come out by and bye:
you will see, sir--oh! you will see, sir," sobbed Louis, deprecating
the gathering of the angry cloud on the doctor's face. "Oh! do not
tell mamma, for it is not true."

"I do not wish to hear any more, sir," said the doctor, sternly.

"Oh! what shall I do--what shall I do!" cried Louis; and he pushed
his chair quickly from the table, and, throwing himself on his knees
by Dr. Wilkinson, seized the hand that was beginning to date the
dreaded letter--"I assure you I did not, sir--I am speaking the truth."

"As you always do, doubtless," said the doctor, drawing his hand
roughly away. "Get up, sir; kneel to Him you have so deeply offended,
but not to me."

Louis rose, but stood still in the same place. "Will you hear only this
one thing, sir? I will not say any thing more about my innocence--just
hear me, if you please, sir."

Dr. Wilkinson turned his head coldly towards him.

Louis dried his tears, and spoke with tolerable calmness: "I have
one thing to ask, sir--will you allow me still to remain in the
second class, and to do my lessons always in this room? You will
then see if I can do without keys, or having any help."

"I know you can if you choose," replied Dr. Wilkinson, coldly,
"or I should not have placed you in that class."

"But, if you please, sir, I know all,"--Louis paused, he had promised
to say no more on that subject.

There was a little silence, during which Dr. Wilkinson looked earnestly
at Louis. At last he said, "You may stay in the class; but, remember,
you are forbidden to speak to any of your school-fellows for the next
week without express permission."

"Not to my brother, sir?"

"No; now go."

"May I write to mamma?"

"Yes, if you wish it."

After timidly thanking the doctor, Louis returned to his seat, and
Dr. Wilkinson continued his letter, which went off by the same post
that took Louis' to his mother.



CHAPTER V.

  "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,
  but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the
  peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are
  exercised thereby."--Heb. xii. 11.

  "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have
  I kept Thy word."--Psalm cxix. 67.


Perhaps there is no state more dangerous to a Christian's peace of
mind than one of continual prosperity. In adversity even the worldly
man will sometimes talk of resignation, and feel that it is a good
thing to be acquainted and at peace with God, and that when all human
help is cut off, it is a sweet thing to have a sure refuge in an
almighty Saviour. But in prosperity the ungodly never look to Him;
and His own children, carrying about with them a sinful nature, against
which they must continually maintain a warfare, are too apt to forget
the Giver in his gifts, and to imagine that all is well because nothing
occurs to disturb the regularity of their blessings.

Our little Louis, though the trial he now underwent was a bitter one,
and though at times it seemed almost too hard to be endured, learned by
degrees to feel that it was good for him. He had been in too high favor,
he had trusted too much in the good word of his school-fellows, and had
suffered the fear of man to deter him from his duty to God; and now,
isolated and looked upon as an unworthy member of the little society
to which he belonged, he learned to find his sole happiness in that
sweet communion which he had now solitary leisure to enjoy. His very
troubles carried him to a throne of grace; his desolate condition made
him feel that there was only One who never changed nor forsook His
people; only One who could understand and feel for the infirmities
and sorrows of a human creature; and though to the ungodly it is a
terror to know that there is "nothing that is not manifest in God's
sight," to the true child of God it is an unspeakable comfort to feel
that his thoughts and actions are "known long before" by his unwearied
Guardian.

The effects of Louis' lonely communings were soon visible in his daily
conduct, and after his term of punishment had expired, the meekness of
his bearing, and the gentle lowliness of his demeanor, often disarmed
the most severe and unpitying of his youthful judges. There was no
servility in his manner, for he neither courted nor shunned observation;
nor, though he was as willing as ever to do a kind action for any
one, did he allow himself to be persuaded to give up all his time to
his idler school-fellows. There seemed more firmness and decision in his
naturally yielding disposition, and those who knew not the power of
assisting grace, looked and wondered at the firmness the sweet but weak
boy could at times assume. He would have told them it was not his own.
He was very quiet, and spoke little, even to his brother, of what was
passing in his mind, and sometimes his thoughts were so quietly happy
that he did not like to be spoken to. To Ferrers, Louis was as gentle
and courteous as to the rest of his companions, and, indeed, he had now
little other feeling towards him than that of sorrow and pity.

There had been an unusual noise in the study one evening, while Louis
was absent, and when he entered it, he found the confusion attendant on
a grand uproar. Very little was doing, and tokens of the late skirmish
lay about the floor in torn and scattered books, and overthrown forms.
Among others, Ferrers was hunting for a missing book, but to discover
it in such a chaos was a difficult task, especially as no one would
now allow the candles to be used in the search.

With many expressions, so unfitted for refined ears that I do not choose
to present them to my reader, Ferrers continued his search, now and then
attempting to snatch a candle from the table, in which he was regularly
foiled by those sitting there.

"Well, at least have the civility to move and let me see if it is under
the table," he said at length.

"You have hindered us long enough," said Salisbury; "Smith, Jones, and
I have done nothing to-night. If you will have rows, you must e'en take
the consequences."

"Can't you get under the form?" asked Smith, derisively.

Ferrers was going to make some angry, reply, when Louis dived between
the table and the form, with some trouble, and, at the expense of
receiving a few unceremonious kicks, recovered the book and gave it
to Ferrers, who hardly thanked him, but leaning his head on his hand,
seemed almost incapable of doing any thing. Presently he looked up,
and asked in a tone of mingled anger and weariness, what had become
of the inkstand he had brought.

    "Loosing's seeking,
     Finding's keeping,"

said Salisbury. "Which is yours? Perhaps it's under the table too."

"Hold your nonsense," cried Ferrers, angrily. "It's very shabby of you
to hinder me in this manner."

Louis quietly slipped an inkstand near him, an action of which Ferrers
was quite aware, and though he pretended not to notice it, he availed
himself presently of the convenience. A racking headache, however,
almost disabled him from thinking, and though he was really unwell,
there was only the boy he had so cruelly injured who felt any sympathy
for his suffering.

Louis carefully avoided any direct manifestation of his anxiety to
return good for evil, for he felt, though he hardly knew why, that
his actions would be misconstrued, but whenever any little opportunity
occurred in which he could really render any service, he was always
as ready to do it for Ferrers as for another; and now, when from his
classmates Ferrers met with nothing but jokes on his "beautiful temper,"
and "placid state of mind," he could not help feeling the gentleness of
Louis' conduct, the absence of pleasure in his annoyance, and the look
of evident sympathy he met whenever he accidentally turned his eyes in
his direction. For a few days after this he was obliged to keep his bed,
and during this time, though Louis only once saw him, he thought of every
little kind attention he could, that might be grateful to the invalid.
Knowing that he was not a favorite, and that few in the school would
trouble themselves about him, he borrowed books and sent them to him for
his amusement, and empowered the old cake man to procure some grapes,
which he sent up to him by a servant, with strict orders to say nothing
of where they came from. The servant met Hamilton at the door of the
room, and he relieved her of her charge, and as she did not consider
herself under promise of secrecy towards him, she mentioned it, desiring
him at the same time to say nothing to Ferrers.

Louis had now established a regular time for doing his own lessons,
and kept to it with great perseverance to the end of the half-year,
with one exception, when he had been acting prisoner in a trial
performed in the school-room, by half his own class and the third,
and let the evening slip by without remembering how late it grew.
His class-fellows were in the same predicament as himself, and as
they had barely time to write a necessary exercise, they agreed among
themselves to learn each his own piece of the lesson they had to repeat.
Louis did not seriously consider the deceit they were practising, and
adopted the same plan. One of the number, not trusting to his memory,
hit upon the singular expedient of writing the whole of his piece and
the next on a piece of paper, and wafering it to the instep of his shoe
when he went up to his class. Unhappily for his scheme, he was so placed
that he dared not expose his foot so as to allow him to avail himself
of this delectable assistance, and consequently, after much looking on
the floor for inspiration, and much incoherent muttering, was passed
over, and the order of things being thereby disturbed, of course no one
could say the missing lines until the head boy was applied to, and the
lower half of the class was turned down, with the exception of Louis,
who, standing on this occasion just above the gentleman of shoe memory,
had been able to say his share.

As they were breaking up, Mr. Danby said to Louis, "You have been very
industrious lately, Louis Mortimer: I am glad you have been so correct
to-day."

Louis blushed from a consciousness of undeserved praise; but though
his natural fear of offending and losing favor sprung up directly, a
higher principle faced it, and bearing down all obstacles, forced him
to acknowledge his unworthiness of the present encomium.

"I ought to learn mine, sir,--I learned my piece to-day."

"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Danby.

"I learned my part of the lesson, as well as Harris, Williams, Sutton,
and Charles Salisbury. We forgot our lessons last night, but it is quite
an accident that I have said mine to-day."

"I am glad you have had the honor to say so," said Mr. Danby.
"Of course you must learn yours, but let me have no more
learning pieces, if you please."



CHAPTER VI.

  "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, they will
  be still praising Thee. For a day in Thy courts is
  better than a thousand. I had rather be a door-keeper
  in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents
  of wickedness."--Psalm lxxxiv. 4, 10.


Dr. Wilkinson's school was too large to be entirely accommodated with
sittings in the nearest church--and, consequently, was divided into two
bodies on Sunday, one of which regularly attended one of the churches in
Bristol, where Mr. Wilkinson, the doctor's son, occasionally did duty.
It fell to Louis' lot, generally, to be of the Bristol party, and unless
the day was rainy he was not ill-pleased with his destiny, for the walk
was very pleasant, and there was something in the chorus of bells in that
many-churched city, and the sight of the gray towers and spires, very
congenial to his feelings. It happened that the Sunday after Louis had
received permission to mix as usual with his school-fellows was one
of those peculiarly sunny days that seem to call upon God's people
especially to rejoice and be glad in the Works of His hand. Louis' mind
was in a more than usually peaceful state, and his heart overflowed
with quiet happiness as he looked down from the height of Brandon Hill
upon the city below. He and his companion had walked on rather faster
than the rest of their school-fellows, and now stood waiting till they
came up.

"A penny for your thoughts, Mortimer," said his companion, a
pleasant-looking boy of fifteen or sixteen years of age; "you
are very silent to-day--what may be the subject of your profound
meditations?"

Louis hardly seemed to hear the question, for he suddenly turned his
bright face to his interrogator, and exclaimed, "What a beautiful sight
it is to see so many churches together, Meredith! I think our churches
make us such a happy country."

[Illustration: Louis and Meredith on Brandon Hill.]

"Upon my word," replied Meredith, "you are endowing those piles of
stone with considerable potency. What becomes of commerce and--"

"I mean, of course," interrupted Louis, "that it is religion that
makes us a happier country than others. I love so to look at the
churches; the sight of one sometimes, when all is fair and quiet,
brings the tears into my eyes."

"Hey-dey! quite sentimental! You'd better be a parson, I think."

"I hope I shall be a clergyman--I wish very much to be one--there is
not such another happy life. I was just thinking, Meredith, when you
spoke to me, of a verse we read yesterday morning, which quite expresses
my feelings: 'One thing have I desired of the Lord which I will seek
after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.'"

Meredith looked with some surprise at Louis, and as they moved on he
said carelessly, "I suppose somebody will have the gratification of
beholding me in a long gown some day, holding forth for the edification
of my devoted flock."

"Are you going to be a clergyman?" asked Louis.

"Yes, I suppose I must. Don't you think I shall be a most
useful character?"

"Oh! surely you wish it, do you not?"

"Well, I don't much mind," replied Meredith, snatching a handful of
leaves from the hedge near him; "I shall have a nice fat living, and
it's a respectable kind of thing."

Louis was horror-struck--he had not imagined such an idea--he almost
gasped out, "Oh! Meredith, I can hardly understand you. Surely that is
not your only wish about it: that cannot be a reason--not a right one."

"Why, what's the harm?" said Meredith, laughing. "I only say outright
what hundreds think. If I could choose, perhaps I might like the army
best, but my father has a comfortable provision in the church for me,
and so I, like a dutiful son, don't demur, especially as, if I follow
the example of my predecessor, it will be vastly more easy than a
soldier's life."

"Meredith, Meredith, this is too solemn a thing to laugh about. I have
often wondered how it is there are clergymen who can take their duties
so easily as some do; but if they only undertake them for your reasons,
I cannot feel so much surprised that they should be so careless. How
can you expect any happiness from such a life! I should be afraid to
talk so."

Meredith stared contemptuously. "You are a Methodist, Louis," he said;
"I have no doubt I shall preach as good sermons as you: just put on a
grave face, and use a set of tender phrases, and wear a brilliant on
your little finger, and a curly head, and there you are a fashionable
preacher at once--and if you use your white pocket-handkerchief
occasionally, throw your arms about a little, look as if you intended
to tumble over the pulpit and embrace the congregation, and dose your
audience with a little pathos, you may draw crowds--the ladies will
idolize you."

"I should not think that such popularity would be very good,"
replied Louis, "supposing you could do as you say; but it seems
to me quite shocking to speak in such a slighting manner of so
holy a thing. Were you ever at an ordination, Meredith?"

"Not I," said Meredith.

"I should think if you had been you would be afraid to think of going
to answer the solemn questions you will be asked when you are ordained.
I was once with papa at an ordination at Norwich cathedral, and I shall
never forget how solemnly that beautiful service came upon me. I could
not help thinking how dreadful it must be to come there carelessly, and
I wondered how the gentlemen felt who were kneeling there--and the hymn
was so magnificent, Meredith. I think if you were there with your present
feelings, you would be afraid to stay. It would seem like mocking God to
come to answer all those solemn questions, and not mean what you said.
I think it is wicked."

Louis spoke rapidly, and with great emotion.

Meredith looked angry, struggling with a feeling of shame, and a wish to
laugh it off. "You are exclusively precise," he said; "others are not,
and have as much right to their opinion as you to yours. Trevannion,
for instance--he's going into the church because it is so genteel."

"I hope you are mistaken," said Louis, quickly.

"Not I; I heard him say the same thing myself."

"I am _very_ sorry," said Louis, sadly. "Oh! I would rather be a laborer
than go into the church with such a wish--and yet, I had rather be a
very poor curate than a rich duke: it is such a happy, holy life." The
last part of Louis' speech was nearly inaudible, and no more was said
until the afternoon.

It was Dr. Wilkinson's wish that the Sabbath should be passed as
blamelessly as he had the power of ordering it in his household; but
to make it a day of reverence and delight among so large a number of
boys, with different dispositions and habits of life, was an arduous
task. Mr. James Wilkinson was with the boys the whole afternoon, as
well as his father, to whose utmost endeavors he joined his own, that
the day might not be wholly unprofitable. In spite, however, of all
diligence, it could not fail of often being grossly misspent with many
of the pupils; for it is not possible for human power effectually to
influence the heart, and, until that is done, any thing else can be but
an outward form.

This afternoon the boys were scattered over the large playground. In
one corner was the doctor, with twenty or thirty boys around him, and
in other directions, the different ushers hearing Catechisms and other
lessons. Some of the parties were very dull, for no effort was made by
the instructor to impart a real delight in the Word of God to his pupils;
and religion was made merely a matter of question and answer, to remain
engraved in such heartless form on the repugnant mind of the learner.
And, alas! how can it be otherwise, where the teacher himself does not
know that religion is a real and happy thing, and not to be learned as
we teach our boys the outlines of heathen mythology?

Sitting on the ground, lolling against one of the benches under a
tree, sat Hastings Meredith and Reginald and Louis Mortimer; and one
or two more were standing or sitting near; all of whom had just finished
answering all the questions in the Church Catechism to Mr. Danby, and
had said a Psalm.

Louis was sitting on the bench, looking flushed, thinking of holidays,
and, of course, of home,--home Sabbaths, those brightest days of home
life,--when Trevannion came up with his usual air of cool, easy
confidence. Trevannion was the most gentlemanly young man in the
school; he never was in a hurry; was particularly alive to any
thing "vulgar," or "snobbish," and would have thought it especially
unbecoming in him to exhibit the smallest degree of annoyance at any
untoward event. It took a good deal to put him out of countenance, and
he esteemed it rather plebeian to go his own errands, or, indeed, to
take any unnecessary trouble.

"Were you in Bristol this morning, Meredith?" he said.

"Yes, sure, your highness," replied Meredith, yawning.

"Tired apparently," said Trevannion ironically, glancing at the
recumbent attitude of the speaker.

"Worried to death with that old bore Danby, who's been going backwards
and forwards for the last hour, with 'What is your name?' and 'My good
child,' &c. I'm as tired as--as--oh help me for a simile! as a pair of
worn-out shoes."

"A poetical simile at last," remarked Reginald, laughing.

"You would have a nice walk," said Trevannion.

"Very! and a sermon gratis to boot," replied Meredith. "It would
have done you good, Trevannion, to have heard what shocking things
you have done in being so _very genteel_."

"What do you mean?" said Trevannion, coolly.

"Louis Mortimer was giving me a taste of his Methodistical mind on the
duties of clergymen generally, and your humble servant especially."

"I presume you do not include yourself in the fraternity yet?"
said Trevannion.

"Not exactly; but having informed him of my prospects, the good child
began to upbraid me with my hypocrisy, and, bless you, such a thundering
sermon,--positively quite eloquent."

"Perhaps I may be allowed to profit by the second part of it," said
Trevannion, turning to Louis; "will you be kind enough to edify me?"

Louis did not reply, and Trevannion's lips curled slightly as he
remarked, "There is an old proverb about those who live in glass
houses--'Physician, cure thyself.'"

Poor Louis turned away, and Meredith, stretching himself and yawning
terrifically, continued, "You must know, Trevannion, that it is very
wicked to be any thing but a Methodist, very wicked for a clergyman
to be genteel, or to wish to make himself comfortable."

"Hastings, I did not say so," said Louis, turning his head.

"And so," continued Meredith, without noticing Louis, "if we dare
to follow up our own or our fathers' wishes, we must listen to
Louis Mortimer, and he will tell us what to do."

"Much obliged to him, I am sure," said Trevannion.

"Yes, so am I," rejoined Meredith, "though I forgot to tender my
thanks before; and hereby give notice, that when I am in orders,
I will not hunt more than convenient, nor play cards on Good Friday,
nor go to dancing parties on Saturday evening."

"Pshaw, Meredith," said Trevannion: "it is very unbecoming to talk
in this manner of so sacred a profession. A hunting and card-playing
clergyman ought to be stripped of his gown without hesitation. Any
right-minded person would recoil with horror at such a character. It
is a great disgrace to the profession; no clergyman ought to enter
into any kind of improper dissipation. Your ideas are very light
and indelicate."

"Will you be kind enough to define that term, _improper dissipation_,"
said Meredith, carelessly. "I presume you have no objection to a quiet
dance now and then, only they must not call it a ball."

"A clergyman ought not to dance," replied Trevannion, in precisely the
same cool, dictatorial manner.

"He may look on them, may he not?" said Meredith.

"A clergyman has many serious duties to perform, and he should be
very careful that he does not degrade his office," replied Trevannion.
"He has to uphold the dignity of the church, and should take care that
his conduct is such that no reproach can fall on that church from his
inconsistency."

"Well, for my part," said Meredith, lightly, "I think the church
too important to miss the weight of my example. I mean to have a
most exemplary curate."

Near these speakers sat Mr. James Wilkinson, with a few little boys,
whom at this moment he hastily dismissed, for the sound of the light
conversation reached him, and he arose quickly and introduced himself
to the little coterie just as Reginald exclaimed, "For shame, Meredith!"

"Ay, for shame," said Mr. James: "I have heard a little of what has been
going on among you, and am really very sorry to hear such expressions on
a subject so solemn and important. Meredith, you cannot be aware of what
you are saying. I should like to have a little talk about this matter;
and, Mr. Trevannion, if you will give me your attention for a few
minutes, I shall be obliged to you."

Trevannion seated himself on the bench, and folding his arms,
remained in an attitude of passive attention.

"Lend me your prayer-book, Mortimer," said Mr. James, and he quickly
turned to the service for the ordering of deacons. "The first question
here put to the candidate for holy orders is, 'Do you trust that you
are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, to take upon you this office
and ministration, to serve God for the promoting of His glory and the
edifying of His people?' Now, Meredith, I ask you to think, whether,
with such sentiments as you have just expressed, you can dare to answer,
'_I trust so?_'"

"I never thought very seriously about it," said Meredith,
rather abruptly.

"But you know these things must be thought of seriously and prayerfully.
It is required of a man in every station of life, that he be faithful
and diligent, serving the Lord, and whoever does not remember this,
must answer for his neglect of such duty to his Maker. It will not do
to say that our individual example can be of no importance; the command,
'Occupy till I come,' is laid upon each one of us; but what must be said
of him who, in a careless, light frame of mind, takes these holy vows
upon him, knowing in his own mind that he intends to break them; that
his sole desire to be put into the priest's office is to eat a morsel
of bread? What shall be said of him who goes into the house of God, and
in the presence of His people declares that it is his intention, 'to
search gladly and willingly for the sick and poor of his parish,
to relieve their necessities; to frame his own life and the lives
of his family according to the doctrine of Christ; to be diligent in
prayers and in reading of the Holy Scriptures, laying aside the study
of the world and the flesh,' and yet knows that he intends to enjoy
himself in the things of this world--a very hireling who forgets that
his master's eye is upon him. It is a fearful thing. It is coming before
the Almighty with a lie. Nay, hear me a little longer. The clergyman's
is a glorious and exalted path, the happiest I know of on earth. It is
his especially to bear the message of salvation from a tender Saviour.
It is his to go forth with the balm of heavenly comfort, to bind up the
wounds sin and grief have made. It is his indeed pre-eminently to dwell
in the house of his God, to be hid away from the world and its many
allurements; but as every great blessing brings with it a great
responsibility, so the responsibility of the minister of Christ is
very great, and if he turn from the commandment delivered to him, his
condemnation is fearful. I should be much obliged to you, Meredith,
if you would read me these verses."

Meredith took the open Bible from Mr. Wilkinson's hand, and read aloud
the first ten verses of the 34th of Ezekiel.

"In this holy word, which must be the standard for all our conduct,
we do not find that the Almighty looks upon this office as a light
thing. In the thirty-third chapter there is so solemn a warning to
the careless watchman, that I wonder any one who does not steadfastly
intend to give himself to his sacred duties, can read it and not
tremble. 'If the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet,
and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take away any
person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but HIS
BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THE WATCHMAN'S HAND. So thou, O son of man,
I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou
shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say
unto the wicked, Oh wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost
not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die
in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.' This is
the second solemn warning to the same purport given to Ezekiel; for,
in the third chapter, we find the same thing; and these are awful
truths engraved in God's everlasting word, by which we are to be
judged at the last day. You must excuse me," continued Mr. Wilkinson,
and his eyes glistened with emotion; "but I am a watchman, and I must
warn you of the fearful sin you are contemplating."

Meredith was silent. He was impressed with the earnestness displayed by
Mr. Wilkinson, and the solemn truths he had brought before him--truths
it would be well if all those who are looking forward to entering the
sacred ministry would seriously and prayerfully consider.

The tea bell ringing at this moment, the conversation was necessarily
concluded; but that evening after prayers, Mr. Wilkinson put into
Meredith's hand a piece of paper, on which were written the following
references: Num. xvi. 9; Isaiah lii. 7, 8; lxii. 6, 7; Jer. xxiii. 1-4;
Ezek. iii. 17-21; xxxiii. 1-9; xxxiv. 1-10; John xxi. 15-17;
1 Cor. ix. 16, 17, 19; and both the Epistles to Timothy; and underneath
the references was the Apostle's injunction, "Meditate upon these things;
give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear unto all."

When Louis was fairly in bed that night, he was called on for a story.

"Tell us the end of the princess Rosetta, Louis," cried Frank;
"I want to know how the fair animal got out of her watery bedroom,
and whether the green dog ever got his nose nipped by the oysters
he was so fond of snapping up."

"Yes, Rosetta!" cried several voices. "Did she ever get to the king
of the peacocks, Louis?"

"No, no," cried Reginald; "it is not fit for Sunday."

"I am sure we have been doing heaps of good things to-day,"
replied Frank, lightly; "come, Louis."

"I must not," said Louis, gently. "I do not like telling stories at
night at all, because I think we ought not to fill our heads with such
things when we are going to sleep; but I must not tell you Rosetta
to-night, Frank."

"Get along," said Frank, contemptuously; "you are not worth the snap
of a finger. All you are ever worth is to tell stories, and now you
must needs set up for a good, pious boy--you, forsooth of all others!"

"Indeed, Frank, you will not understand me."

"If you dare to say any more to Louis," cried Reginald, "I'll make you--"

Louis' hand was upon Reginald's mouth.

Frank replied, tauntingly, "Ay, finish your work this time, that's
right. Come boys, never mind, I'll tell you a wonderful tale."

"I think we'd better not have one to-night," said one; "perhaps
Mortimer's right."

"Don't have one, don't!" said Louis, starting up; "do not let us
forget that all this day is God's day, and that we must not even
speak our own words."

"None of your cant," cried one.

"Well, I propose that we go to sleep, and then we shan't hear what
he says," said Meredith. "They talk of his not having pluck enough
to speak, but he can do it when he pleases," he remarked in a low
tone to his next companion, Frank Digby, who rejoined,

"More shame for him, the little hypocrite. I like real religious
people, but I can't bear cant."

What Frank's idea of real religion was, may be rather a difficult
matter to settle. Probably it was an obscure idea to himself,--an
idea of certain sentiment and no vitality.



CHAPTER VII.


The next Saturday afternoon proving unusually fine, the community at
Ashfield House sallied forth to enjoy their half-holiday on the downs.
A few of the seniors had received permission to pay a visit to Bristol,
and not a small party was arranged for a good game of cricket. Among
the latter was Reginald Mortimer, whose strong arm and swift foot were
deemed almost indispensable on such occasions. As he rushed out of the
playground gates, bat in hand, accompanied by Meredith, he overtook his
brother, who had discovered a poem unknown to him in _Coleridge's Ancient
Mariner_, and was anticipating a pleasant mental feast in its perusal.

"Louis, you lazy fellow," cried Reginald, good-temperedly, "you shan't
read this fine afternoon--come, join us."

"I don't play cricket, I have not learned," replied Louis.

"And you never will," rejoined Reginald, "if you don't make a beginning:
I'll teach you--now put away that stupid book."

"_Stupid!_" said Louis. "It's Coleridge, that mamma promised to read
to us."

"I hate poetry," exclaimed Reginald; "I wonder how anybody can read such
stuff. Give me the book, Louis, and come along."

"No, thank you, I'd rather not."

"What a donkey you are!" said Meredith: "why don't you learn?"

"Perhaps my reputation may be the safer for not divulging my reasons,"
said Louis, archly: "it is sufficient for present purposes that I had
rather not."

"_Rather not_--_rather not_," echoed Meredith: "like one of your
sensible reasons."

"He has refused to give them, so you cannot call that his reason,
Meredith," remarked Reginald; "but let us be off, as Louis won't come."

Away they ran, and after looking at them for a minute, Louis turned
off his own way, but it was destined that he should not read the
_Ancient Mariner_ that day, for he was presently interrupted by
little Alfred Hamilton, who pounced upon him full of joy.

"Louis," he cried, "I am so glad to speak to you! I don't know how
it is that I have not been able to speak to you lately: I half thought
Edward did not like it, but he asked me to-day why I did not come to
you now."

"Did he?" exclaimed Louis, with joyful surprise; "I am very glad you
are come. I think we shall have a beautiful walk."

"I can't think how it is, Louis, that everybody is either so grave or
rude when I speak of you. What is the matter?"

"A mistake; and a sad one for me," said Louis, gravely. "But don't say
any thing about it, Alfred; they think I have been doing something very
wrong; but all will come out some day."

"I hope so," replied little Alfred; "I cannot think what you can have
done wrong, Louis, you always seem so good."

The child looked wistfully up in Louis' face as he spoke, and seemed
to wait some explanation.

"That is because you do not know much about me, Alfred," replied Louis;
"but in this one case I have not done wrong, I assure you."

Alfred asked no more questions, though he looked more than once in the
now sorrowful young face by him, as they sauntered along the wide downs.

"Here come Edward and Mr. Trevannion," said Alfred, turning round;
"and there is Frank Digby, and Mr. Ferrers, too. I think Edward is
going to Bristol this afternoon."

This intimation of the august approach of his majesty and court was
hardly given when the young gentlemen passed Louis. Hamilton, with
Trevannion, as usual, leaning on his arm, and Frank Digby walking
backwards before them, vainly endeavoring to support a failing
argument with a flood of nonsense, a common custom with this young
gentleman; and, by the way, we might recommend it as remarkably
convenient at such times, to prevent the pain of a total discomfiture,
it being more pleasant to slip quietly and unseen from your pedestal
to some perfectly remote topic, than to allow yourself to be hurled
roughly therefrom by the rude hand of a more sound and successful
disputant.

"Enough, enough, Frank!" exclaimed Hamilton, laughing. "I see through
your flimsy veil. We won't say any more: you either argue in a circle,
or try to blind us."

Louis looked up as Hamilton passed, in hopes that that magnate might
give him a favorable glance, in which he was not mistaken, for Edward
the Great had been watching him from some distance, and was perfectly
aware of his near approach to him.

He certainly did not seem displeased, though the grave countenance bore
no marks of particular satisfaction at the rencontre. He spoke carelessly
to his brother, and then, addressing Louis, said, "You must look after
him, Louis, if you wish for his company; if not, dismiss him at once."

"I do wish for him," said Louis, with a bright look of gratitude;
"I promise to take care of him. Mr. Hamilton, I am getting up in my
class--I am fifth now."

The latter communication was made doubtfully, in a tone indicating
mixed pleasure and timidity.

"I am glad to hear it," was Hamilton's laconic reply. He did not quicken
his pace. "What have you there?" he asked, noticing his book.

"Coleridge's _Ancient Mariner_; I was going to read it," replied Louis;
"but now Alfred has come we shall talk: shall we not, Alfred?"

This was accompanied by another look of grateful pleasure at Alfred's
brother.

What was passing in Hamilton's mind was not to be gathered from his
countenance, which exhibited no emotion of any kind. He turned to
Trevannion, as their party was strengthened by Churchill, remarking,
"Here comes the sucking fish."

"It's _uncommon_ hot," said Churchill, taking off his hat, and fanning
himself with his handkerchief.

"_Dreadful_ warm," said Frank Digby, in exactly the same tone.

"And there is not a breath of wind on the horrid downs," continued the
sapient youth, perfectly unconscious of Frank's mimicry.

"What will the fair Louisa do?" cried Frank: "O that a zephyr would
have pity on that delicate form!"

Across their path lay a wagon, from which the horses had been detached,
and which now offered a tempting though homely shelter to those among
the pedestrians who might choose to sit on the shady side, or to avail
themselves of the accommodation afforded by the awning over the interior.
Ferrers threw himself full length inside the cart: and Louis, drawing
Alfred to the shady side, seated himself by him on the grass. His example
was followed by Churchill, who exclaimed rapturously as he did so, "How
nice! This puts me in mind of a Latin sentence; I forget the Latin, but
I remember the English--'Oh, 'tis pleasant to sit in the shade!'"

"Of a wagon," said Frank, laughing. "Remarkably romantic! It is so
sweet to hear the birds chirp, and the distant hum of human voices--but
language fails! As for Lady Louisa, she is in the Elysium of ecstasy.
It's _so_ romantic."

"Are you going to Bristol, Frank, for I'm off?" said Hamilton.

"Coming," replied Frank. "We'll leave these romantic mortals to their
sequestered glen. There ain't nothing like imagination, my good sirs."

As he joined his companions, Trevannion remarked to Hamilton, "Little
Mortimer is so much the gentleman, you never know him do or say any
thing vulgar or awkward. It is a pity one can't depend upon him."

"I am not quite sure that you cannot," replied Hamilton.

"How!" said Trevannion, in astonishment.

"Are you going to turn Paladin for her ladyship?" asked Frank.

"I have been watching Louis very carefully, and the more I see,
the more I doubt his guilt," replied Hamilton.

"After what you saw yourself? After all that was seen by others?
Impossible, my dear Hamilton!" exclaimed Trevannion. "You cannot
exonerate him without criminating others."

"We shall see," replied Hamilton; "and more than that, Trevannion,
I am certain that Dr. Wilkinson has his doubts now, too."

"But does Fudge know any thing about his old pranks?" asked Frank,
incredulously.

"I cannot say," replied Hamilton; "but I think that he probably does;
for what is so well known now among ourselves, is likely enough to reach
his quick ears."

"But knowing all you do, my dear Hamilton," said Trevannion,
expostulatingly, "you must be strongly prejudiced in your protege's
favor to admit a doubt in this case. Has Dr. Wilkinson told you that
he has any doubts?"

"No," replied Hamilton; "you know the doctor would not reveal his mind
unless he were confident, but I have noticed some little things, and am
sure that though he seems generally so indifferent to Louis' presence
and concerns, and so distant and cold towards him, he's nevertheless
watching him very narrowly; and I, for my part, expect to see things
take a new turn before long."

"The boy seems quite to have won your heart," said Trevannion.

"Poor fellow," replied Hamilton, smiling. "He is a sweet-tempered,
gentle boy; a little too anxious to be well thought of, and has,
perhaps, too little _moral courage_. I own he has interested me.
His very timidity and his numerous scrapes called forth pity in the
first instance, and then I saw more. I should not have been surprised
at his telling a lie in the first place, but I do not think he would
persist in it."

"I'm afraid wisdom's at fault," said Frank, shaking his head:
"you would not say that Ferrers helped him?--I mean took the key
to get him into a scrape."

"I accused no one, Digby," replied Hamilton, in a reserved tone;
"nor am I going to wrong any one by uttering unformed suspicions."

"Enough has been said," remarked Trevannion; "let us drop the subject,
and talk of something more interesting to all parties."

While these young gentlemen pursue their walk, we will retrace our
steps to the wagon, where Louis and his little friend have taken
shelter.

Churchill, finding neither seemed very much inclined to encourage his
conversational powers, took himself off, after remaining in the shade
long enough to cool himself. After his departure Louis and Alfred talked
lazily on of their own pleasant thoughts and schemes, both delighted at
being once more in each other's society. They were within sight of the
masters out on the downs, and who had forbidden them to wander beyond
certain limits, but still so far from their school-fellows as to be able
to enjoy their own private conversation unmolested, and in the feeling
of seclusion.

At length, after a pause, Louis made an original remark on the beauty
of the weather, which was immediately responded to by his companion,
who added that he had not known such a fine day since Miss Wilkinson's
wedding.

"Don't you think so?" said Louis; "I think we had one or two Sundays
quite as fine."

"Perhaps I thought that day so very fine, because I wanted to go out,"
said Alfred.

"What do you mean?" asked Louis: "we had a holiday then."

"Yes, I know, but I was not allowed to go out because I had been idle,
and had spoken improperly to Mr. Norton. I remember it was so sad. I
assure you, Louis, I cried nearly all day; for I was shut up in your
class-room, and I heard all the boys so merry outside. The very thought
makes me quite sorrowful now."

A thought flashed across Louis' mind, and he asked quickly--

"Were you shut up in our class-room that holiday, Alfred? I never saw
you when I went in."

"But I saw you once," said Alfred, "when you came in for an atlas;
and I saw Mr. Ferrers, and afterwards Edward and Mr. Salisbury and
Mr. Trevannion come in; but I was ashamed, and I did not want any
one to see me, so I hid myself between the book-case and the wall."

"Did your brother know you were there?" asked Louis.

"Not _there_," replied Alfred. "He thought I was to go into
Dr. Wilkinson's study; but I could not go there, and I didn't
want him to speak to me."

"Did Ferrers come to fetch any thing, Alfred?"

Alfred laughed. "It won't be telling tales out of school to tell you,
Louis. He came for a key to the first-class exercise book."

"How do you know it was a first-class exercise book, Alfred?"
asked Louis, with a glowing face and beating heart.

"I know Edward does Kenrick's Latin Exercises, and I know the key
because it's just like the book, and I have seen Mr. Ferrers with
it before. I remember once on a half-holiday he did his lessons in
the school-room at my desk, and he had it open in the desk, and as
I wanted something out. I saw it, though he did not think I did."

"Oh Alfred, Alfred!" cried Louis, clasping him very tightly. "Oh Alfred!
_dear_ Alfred!"

The child looked up in astonishment, but Louis was so wild with
excitement that he could not say any more.

Just at that moment there was an abrupt movement in the wagon,
and Ferrers' head was put over the side.

Alfred uttered an exclamation of fear. "Oh, there's Mr. Ferrers!"

"What rubbish have you been talking, you little impostor?" cried Ferrers.
"How dare you talk in such a manner? I've a great mind to kick you from
Land's End to John o' Groat's house."

[Illustration: Ferrers begins to be found out.]

"Ferrers, you know it's all true," said Louis.

Ferrers' face was white with passion and anxiety. "Get along with
you, Alfred, you'd better not let me hear any more of your lies, I
can tell you."

"If you had not been listening you would not have heard," replied Alfred,
taking care to stand out of Ferrers' reach. "Listeners never hear any
good of themselves, Mr. Ferrers: you know it's all true, and if I'd
told Edward, you wouldn't have liked it."

"Alfred dear, don't say so much," said Louis.

Alfred here set off running, as Ferrers had dismounted in a very
threatening attitude, but instead of giving chase to the daring
fugitive, the conscience-stricken youth drew near Louis, who was
standing in a state of such delight that he must be excused a little
if no thought of his school-fellow's disgrace marred it at present.
A glance at the changed and terror-stricken countenance of that
school-fellow checked the exuberance of Louis' joy, for he was too
sympathizing not to feel for him, and he said in a gentle tone,

"I am very sorry for you, Ferrers,--you have heard all that Alfred
has said."

"Louis Mortimer!" exclaimed Ferrers, in agony; and Louis was half
alarmed by the wild despair of his manner, and the vehemence with
which he seized his arm. "Louis Mortimer--it is all true--but what
shall I do?"

Louis was so startled that he could not answer at first: at last
he replied,

"Go and tell the doctor yourself--that will be much the best way."

"Listen to me a moment--just listen a moment--as soon as Dr. Wilkinson
knows it, I shall be expelled, and I shall be ruined for life. What I
have suffered, Louis! Oh--you see how it was; I dared not tell about
it--how can I hope you can forgive me?"

"I think you must have seen that I forgave you long ago," replied
Louis; "I wish I could do any thing for you, Ferrers, but you cannot
expect me to bear the blame of this any longer. I think if you tell
it to the doctor yourself, he will, perhaps, overlook it, and I will
beg for you."

"Oh, Louis!" said Ferrers, seizing the passive hand, and speaking more
vehemently; "you heard what the doctor said, and he will do it--and
for one fault to lose all my prospects in life! I shall leave at the
holidays, and then I will tell Dr. Wilkinson; will you--can you--to
save a fellow from such disgrace, spare me a little longer? There are
only four weeks--oh, Louis! I shall be eternally obliged--but if you
could tell--I have a father--just think how yours would feel. Louis,
will you, can you do this very great favor for me? I don't deserve any
mercy from you, I know; but you are better than I am."

All the bright visions of acknowledged innocence fled, and a blank
seemed to come over poor Louis' soul. The sacrifice seemed far too
great, and he felt as if he were not called to make it; and yet--a
glance at Ferrers' face--his distress, but not his meanness, struck
him. A minute before, he had indulged in bright dreams of more than
restoration to favor--of his brother's delight--of his father's and
mother's approbation--of his grandfather's satisfaction--and Hamilton's
friendly congratulations. And to give up this! it was surely too much
to expect.

During his silence, Ferrers kept squeezing, and even kissing, his now
cold hand, and repeating,

"Dear Louis--be merciful--will you pity me?--think of all--I don't
deserve it, I know." And though the meanness and cowardliness were
apparent, Louis looked at little else than the extreme agony of the
suppliant.

"Don't kiss my hand, Ferrers--I can't bear it," he said at length,
drawing his hand quickly away; and there was something akin to disgust
mingled with the sorrowful look he gave to his companion.

"But Louis, will you?"

"Oh Ferrers! it is a hard thing to ask of me," said Louis, bitterly.

"Just for a little longer," implored Ferrers, "to save me from a
lasting disgrace."

Louis turned his head away--it was a hard, hard struggle: "I will
try to bear it if God will help me," he said; "I will not mention
it at present."

"Oh! how can I thank you! how can I! how shall I ever be able!"
cried Ferrers: "but will Alfred tell?"

"He does not know," replied Louis, in a low tone.

"But will he not mention what has passed?"

"I will warn him then," said Louis.

Ferrers then in broken sentences renewed his thanks, and Louis, after
hearing a few in silence, as if he heard nothing, turned his full moist
eyes on him with a sorrowful beseeching look,

"You have done a very wicked thing, Ferrers. Oh do pray to God to
forgive you."

"I will try to do any thing you wish," replied Ferrers.

"A prayer because _I_ wished, could do you no good. You must feel you
have sinned against God. Do try to think of this. If it should make
you do so, I _think_ I could cheerfully bear this disgrace a little
longer for you, though what it is to bear I cannot tell you."

"You are almost an angel, Louis!" exclaimed Ferrers.

"Oh don't say such things to me, Ferrers," said Louis, "pray don't.
I am not more so than I was before this--I am but a sinful creature
like yourself, and it is the remembrance of this that makes me pity
you. Now do leave me alone; I cannot bear to hear you flatter me now."

Ferrers lingered yet, though Louis moved from him with a shuddering
abhorrence of the fawning, creeping manner of his school-fellow. Seeing
that Ferrers still loitered near him, he asked if there were any thing
more to say.

"Will your brother know this?"

"Reginald?" replied Louis. "Of course--no--_I_ shall not tell him."

"A thousand thousand times I thank you,--oh Louis, Louis, you are
too good!"

"Will you be kind enough to let me alone," said Louis gently,
but very decidedly.

This time the request was complied with, and Louis resumed his former
seat, and fixing his eyes vacantly on the sweet prospect before him,
ruminated with a full heart on the recent discovery; and, strange to
say, though he had voluntarily promised to screen Ferrers a little
longer from his justly merited disgrace, he felt as if it had been
only a compulsory sense of duty and not benevolence which had led him
to do so, and was inclined to murmur at his hard lot. For some time he
sat in a kind of sullen apathy, without being able to send up a prayer,
even though he felt he needed help to feel rightly. At length the kindly
tears burst forth, and covering his face with his hands he wept softly.
"I am very wrong--very ungrateful to God for His love to me. He has borne
so much for me, and I am so unwilling to bear a little for poor Ferrers.
Oh what sinful feelings I have! My heavenly Father, teach me to feel pity
for him, for he has no one to help him; help him, teach him, Thyself."

Such, and many more, were the deep heart-breathings of the dear boy,
and who ever sought for guidance and grace, and was rejected? and how
unspeakably comfortable is the assurance, that for each of us there is
with Christ the very grace we need.

The sullen fit was gone, and Louis was his own happy self again, when
little Alfred came to tell him that Mr. Witworth had given the order to
return home,--"And I came to tell you, dear Louis, for I wanted to walk
home with you. What a beast that Ferrers is! see if I won't tell Edward
of him."

"Hush, Alfred!" said Louis, putting his finger on the little boy's mouth.
"Do you know that God is very angry when we call each other bad names,
and surely you do not wish to revenge yourself? I will tell you a very
sweet verse which our Saviour said: '_Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you,
that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven._'" As the
little monitor spoke, the soft consciousness of the comfort of those
sweet words rushed over his own mind, "_children of your Father who is
in heaven_."

"And am I a child--His child indeed! I will try to glorify my Saviour
who has given me that great name."

That is a sure promise that "they who water shall be watered," and
who is there that has endeavored to lead another heavenward, that has
not felt, at one time or another, a double share of that living water
refreshing his own soul?

With one arm round his little friend's neck, Louis wandered home,
and, during the walk, easily persuaded Alfred not to say a word of
what had passed; and as for Louis--oh, his eye was brighter, his
step more buoyant, his heart full of gladness!

A little word, and I will close this long chapter. It is good for us
to consider how unable we are to think and to do rightly ourselves:
we must do so if we would be saved by Christ. When we have done all,
we are unprofitable servants; but oh, how gracious--how incomprehensible
is that love that puts into our minds good desires, brings the same to
good effect, and rewards us for those things which He Himself has enabled
us to do!



CHAPTER VIII.

  "Charity suffereth long, and is kind."--1 Cor. xiii. 4.


Louis entered the class-room sooner than usual one evening, and
sitting down by his brother, spread before him a few strawberries
and some sweet-cakes, inviting him and one of Salisbury's brothers
who was on the other side of him to partake of them.

"What beauties they are!" exclaimed John Salisbury; "have you had a box,
Louis? How _did_ you get them?"

"Guess," said Louis.

"Nay, I can't guess. Strawberries like these don't come at this time
of the year in boxes."

"I guess," said Frank Digby from the opposite side of the table,
in a tone as if he had been speaking to some one behind him.
"Fudge has a dinner party to-night, hasn't he?"

"Yes," said Louis, laughing; "how did you know that?"

"Oh, I have the little green bird that tells every thing," replied Frank.

"What's that, Frank?" cried Salisbury; "Fudge a dinner party? How snug
he's kept it!"

"Why you don't suppose that he's obliged to inform us all when he has
some idea of doing the genteel," remarked one of the first class.

"Are Hamilton and Trevannion invited?" asked Salisbury.

"In good troth! thou art a bat of the most blind species," said Frank;
"didn't you see them both just now in all their best toggery? Trevannion
went up to his room just after school, and has, I believe, at last
adorned his beauteous person to his mind--all graces and delicious
odors.--Faugh! he puts me in mind of a hair-dresser's shop."

"He declares that his new perfumes are something expressly superior,"
said another. "_He_ wouldn't touch your vulgar scents."

"His _millefleurs_ is at all events uncommonly like a muskrat,"
said Salisbury.

"And," remarked Frank, "as that erudite youth, Oars, would say,
'puts me in mind of some poet, but I've forgotten his name.' However,
two lines borrowed from him, which my sister quotes to me when I am
genteel, will do as well as his name:

    "'I cannot talk with civet in the room--
      A fine puss gentleman, that's all perfume.'"

Reginald laughed. "I often think of the overrun flower-pots in the
cottages at Dashwood, when Trevannion has been adorning himself.
I once mortally offended him by the same quotation."

"Had you the amazing audacity! the intolerable presumption!" cried
Frank, pretending to start. "I perceive his magnificent scorn didn't
quite annihilate you; I think, though, he was three hours embellishing
himself to-night."

"Frank, that's impossible!" cried Louis, laughing, "for it was four
o'clock when he went, and it's only half-past six now."

"Cease your speech, and eat your booty: I dare say it is sweet enough;
sweetness is the usual concomitant of goods so obtained."

"What do you mean, Frank?" asked Louis.

"Sweet little innocent; of course he don't know--no, in course he
don't--how should he? they came into his hand by accident," said Frank,
mockingly; "I wish such fortunate accidents would happen to me."

"They were given to me, Frank," said Louis, quietly. "Mrs. Wilkinson
gave them to me when she told me I must not stay in the study."

"What a kind person Mrs. Wilkinson is!--oh! Louis, Louis, _Tanta est
depravitas humani generis_!"

"FRANK!" shouted Reginald, "at your peril!"

"Well, my dear--what, is my life in peril from you again? I must take
care then."

"Come, Frank, have done," cried one of his class-fellows, "can't you
leave Louis Mortimer alone--it doesn't signify to you."

"I only meant to admonish him by a gentle hint, that he must not presume
to contradict gentlemen whose honor and veracity may at least be on a
par with his own."

"Frank," said Louis, "I cannot think how you can suppose me guilty of
such meanness."

"The least said, the soonest mended," remarked Salisbury. "We must have
large powers of credence where you are concerned. Clear off your old
scores, and then we will begin a new one with you."

Reginald started to his feet. "You shall rue this, Salisbury."

"Two can play at your game," rejoined Salisbury, rising.

Reginald was springing forward, but was checked by Louis, who threw
himself on him. "Do not fight, dear Reginald--do not, pray."

"I will--unhand me, Louis! I tell you I WILL--let me go."

"Dear Reginald, not for me--wait a minute."

At this moment the form behind them fell with a heavy bang, and in
struggling to release himself, Reginald fell over it, dragging Louis
with him. Louis was a little hurt, but he did not let go his hold.
"Reginald," he said, "ask Mrs. Wilkinson to say so herself; they will
believe her, I suppose."

The fall had a little checked his rage, and Reginald sat brooding in
sullen anger on the ground. At last he started up and left the room,
saying to Louis, "It's all your fault, then--you've no spirit, and
you don't want me to have any."

Louis mechanically assisted in raising the form, and stood silently
by the table. He looked quickly round, and pushing the little share
of his untasted fruit from him, went into the school-room. He did not
recover his spirits again that evening, even when Reginald apologized
to him for his roughness, pleading in excuse the extreme trouble it
gave him to prevent himself from fighting with Salisbury.

As they went up stairs that night, in spite of the cautions given
by the usher to be quiet, a sham scuffle ensued on purpose between
Salisbury and Frank Digby, during which the former let his candle
fall over the bannisters, and they were left in darkness; though,
happily for the comfort of the doctor's dinner party, the second
hall and back staircase arrangement effectually prevented the noise
that ensued from reaching the drawing-room.

"Halloa there--you fellows! Mortimer, ahoa!" cried one of Salisbury's
party; "bring your light."

"You may come and fetch it if you want it," shouted Reginald from
his room.

"We're in the dark," was the reply.

"So much the better," said Reginald: "perhaps you will behave a little
better now; if you want a light you may come and light your candle here."

"Our candle's on the hall floor," said another voice, amidst suppressed
laughter.

"Pick it up, then."

"We're desperately afraid of hobgoblins," cried Frank, rushing into his
room and blowing their candle out.

"What did you do that for, Frank?" asked several indignant voices.

"Because Salisbury and his myrmidons were coming to carry it off by a
_coup de main_--he-he-he--" giggled Frank.

"And so you've given your own head a blow to punish your tooth! well
done," exclaimed another voice at the door.

"Peters, is that you?"

"What's to be done now?"

"How shall we get a light?"

"If you will give me the candle I will get one," said Louis.

Accordingly, the extinguished candle was delivered into his hands, and
he felt his way to the kitchen door, where he obtained a light, and then,
picking up the fallen candle, tried to arrange its shattered form, and
replace it. While thus employed, Ferrers joined him, and offered his aid,
and on Louis' accepting it, said in a low tone,--

"Louis, I am a wretch, I am so very miserable. I can't think how you
can bear so much from one who has never done you any thing but harm."

Louis raised his head from his work in astonishment, and saw that
Ferrers looked as he said, very miserable, and was deadly pale.

"I do so despise myself--to see you bearing all so sweetly, Louis. I
should have been different, perhaps, if I had known you before--I love,
I admire you, as much as I hate myself."

"Are you coming with the candle there?" cried a voice from above:
"Louis Mortimer and William Ferrers in deep confabulation--wonders
will never cease."

Ferrers jumped up and ran up stairs with his candle, and Louis followed
more leisurely to his own room, nor could any thing induce him that
night to tell a story. How long and earnest was his prayer for one
who had injured him so cruelly, but towards whom he now, instead of
resentment, felt only pity and interest!

Ferrers, after tossing from side to side, and trying all schemes for
several hours, in vain, to drown his remorse in sleep, at last, at
daybreak, sank into an uneasy slumber. The image of Louis, and his
mute expression of patient sorrow that evening, haunted him, and he
felt an indefinable longing to be like him, and a horror of himself
in comparison with him. He remembered Louis' words, "Pray to God;"
and one murmured petition was whispered in the stillness of the night,
"Lord have mercy on a great sinner."

Since his disgrace, Louis generally had his brother for a companion
during their walks; but the next morning Ferrers joined him, and asked
Louis to walk with him to the downs. They were both naturally silent
for the beginning of the walk; but on Louis making some remark, Ferrers
said, "I can't think of any thing just now, Louis; I have done every
thing wrong to-day. My only satisfaction is in telling you how much
I feel your goodness. I can't think how you can endure me."

"Oh, Ferrers!" said Louis, "what am I that I should not bear you? and
if you are really sorry, and wish to be better, I think I may some day
love you."

"_That_ you can never do, Louis,--you must hate and despise me."

"No, I do not," said Louis, kindly; "I am very sorry for you."

"You must have felt very angry."

"I did feel very unkind and shocked at first," replied Louis; "but by
God's grace I learned afterwards to feel very differently, and you can't
think how often I have pitied you since."

"Pitied _me_!" said Ferrers.

"Oh yes," replied Louis, sweetly; "because I am sure you must have been
very unhappy with the knowledge of sin in your heart--I don't think there
is any thing so hard as remorse to bear."

"I did not feel much sorrow till you were so kind to me," said Ferrers.
"What a wretch you must think me!"

"I have sinned too greatly myself to judge very hardly of you; and
when I think of all the love shown to me, I feel anxious to show some
love to others; and I should be afraid, if I thought too hardly of you,
I should soon be left to find out what I am."

Ferrers did not reply; he did not understand the motives which
induced Louis' forbearance and gentleness, for he was an entire
stranger to religion, and never having met with any one resembling
Louis, could not comprehend, though he did not fail to admire, his
character, now its beauty was so conspicuously before him. He felt
there was an immeasurable distance between them--for the first
time he found himself wanting. Mentally putting himself in Louis'
place, he acknowledged that no persuasion could have induced him
to act so generously and disinterestedly; and knowing the keen
sensitiveness of Louis to disgrace, he wondered how one so alive
to the opinion of others, and naturally so yielding and wavering,
could steadily and uncomplainingly persevere in his benevolent
purpose; for not by word or sign did Louis even hint the truth
to Reginald--the usual depository of his cares and secrets.

Louis, imagining the silence of his companion to proceed from shame
and distress, proceeded after a few minutes to reassure him.

"You must not think that I am miserable, Ferrers, for lately I have
been much happier than even when I was in favor, for now I do not care
so much what the boys will think or say of me, and that thought was
always coming in the way of every thing; and there are many things
which make me very happy, often."

"What things, Louis?"

"I do not think you would understand me," replied Louis, timidly;
"the things and thoughts that make me happy are so different from
what we hear generally here."

"But tell me, Louis. I want to know how it is you are so much better
than any one else here. I want to be better myself."

"Oh, dear Ferrers," said Louis, gazing earnestly in Ferrers' face,
"if you _do_ want to be better, come to our Saviour, and He will
make you all you want to be. It is the feeling of His goodness,
and the happy hope of being God's children, and having all their
sins forgiven, that make all God's people so happy; and you may have
this happiness too, if you will. I do not think we think enough of our
great name of Christian."

"You read your Bible a great deal, Louis, don't you?"

"Not so much as I ought," replied Louis, blushing, "but I love it
very much."

"It always seems to me such a dull book, I am always very glad when
our daily reading's over."

"I remember when I thought something in the same way," said Louis:
"only mamma used always to explain things so pleasantly, that even
then I used to like to hear her read it to us. Papa once said to me
that the Bible is like a garden of flowers, through which a careless
person may walk, and notice nothing, but that one who is really anxious
to find flowers or herbs to cure his disease, will look carefully till
he finds what he wants, and that some happy and eager seekers will find
pleasure in all."

"Louis, you are very happy," said Ferrers, "though very strange.
I would give a world, were it mine, to lay this heavy burden of mine
down somewhere, and be as light in disgrace as you are."

Ferrers sighed deeply, and Louis said softly, "'Come unto Him all ye
that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. His yoke is easy and
His burden is light.'"

Here they parted. The last whispers of the Saviour's gracious invitation,
those "comfortable words," lingered in Ferrers' ears as he entered the
house, and returned at night; but he did not throw himself and his burden
at the Saviour's feet. And what hindered him? It was pride, pride--though
forced to feel himself a sinner, pride still retained its hold, more
feebly than before, but still as a giant.



CHAPTER IX.


The holidays were fast approaching. Ten days of the three weeks'
examination had passed, and every energy was exerted, and every
feeling of emulation called out, among those who had any hope of
obtaining the honors held out to the successful candidates. It was
surprising to see what could be, and what was, done. Even idle boys
who had let their fair amount of talent lie dormant during the half
year, now came forth, and, straining every nerve, were seen late and
early at work which should have been gradually mastered during the
last five months; denying themselves both recreation and sleep, with
an energy, which, had it been earlier exerted in only half the degree,
would have been highly laudable. Some of the latter, who possessed
great talent, were successful, but generally the prizes fell to the
lot of those who had throughout been uniformly steady, and who had
gained an amount of thorough information which the eager study of a
few weeks could not attain. Now there were beating hearts and anxious
faces, and noisy summing up of the day's successes or losses, when the
daily close of school proclaimed a truce to the emulous combatants.
A few there were who appeared totally indifferent as to the issue of
the contest, and who hailed the term of examination as entailing no set
tasks to be said the ensuing day under certain penalties, and, revelling
in extended play-hours, cared nothing for disgrace, having no character
to lose.

Reginald bid fair to carry off all, or nearly all, the second-class
honors; still, there were in his class several whose determined
efforts and talents gave him considerable work in winning the battle.

Amongst all this spirited warfare, it is not to be supposed
that Louis was tranquil; for, though naturally of an indolent
temperament, there was in him a fund of latent emulation, which
only wanted a stimulus such as the present to rouse him to action.
Louis was a boy of no mean ability, and now, fired with the hope of
distinguishing himself, and gaining a little honor that might efface
the remembrance of past idleness, and give some pleasure to his dear
parents, he applied himself so diligently and unremittingly to his
studies during the last month, as to astonish his masters.

I do not mean to particularize the subjects for examination given by
Dr. Wilkinson to the two upper classes, for this simple reason, that
my classical and mathematical ignorance might cause mistakes more
amusing to the erudite reader than pleasant to the author. It shall
be sufficient to say, that whatever these subjects had been, the day's
examination had gone through in a manner equally creditable to masters
and pupils; and after a few turns in the fresh air when tea was over,
a knot, comprising the greater part of the above-mentioned classes,
assembled round their head man to congratulate him on his undoubted
successes, and to talk over the events of the day elsewhere. Reginald
and Louis could spare little time for talking, and were walking up and
down the playground, questioning and answering each other with the most
untiring diligence, though both of them had been up since four o'clock
that morning. There were a few who had risen still earlier, and who now
lay fast asleep on forms in the school-room, or endeavored to keep their
eyes open by following the example of our hero and his brother.

"John's fast asleep," said Salisbury, laughing; "he has a capital way
of gaining time--by getting up at half-past three, and falling asleep
at seven."

"How does he stand for the prizes?" asked Smith.

"I'm sure I can't tell you; I suppose Mortimer's sure of the first
classics and history--and he ought, for he's coming to us next half.
John's next to him."

"I hear little Mortimer's winning laurels," remarked Trevannion.

"Oh! for _him_," said Harris, a second-class boy, "because he's
been such a dunce before;--I suspect Ferrers helps him."

"Ferrers!" cried all at once, and there was a laugh--"Do you hear,
Ferrers?"

"Of course I do," replied Ferrers.

"He's not good-natured enough," remarked another.

"He needs no help," said Ferrers.

"You're sure of the mathematical prize, Ferrers; and Hamilton,
of course, gets that for Latin composition."

Ferrers did not reply--his thoughts had flown to Louis, from whom they
were now seldom absent; and, though he had been generally successful,
yet the settled gloom and anxiety of his manner led many to suppose
that he entertained fears for the issue of his examination. There were
others who imagined that there was some deeper cause of anxiety preying
on his mind, or that he was suffering from illness and fatigue--and one
or two made mysterious remarks on his intimacy with Louis, and wondered
what all foreboded.

"I wonder who'll get the medal," said one.

"Hamilton, of course," replied Smith.

"You're out there," said Frank Digby. "My magic has discovered that
either the Lady Louisa or myself will obtain it. I admire your
selfishness, young gentlemen--you assign to yourselves every thing,
and leave us out of the question. If I can't be a genius, I mean to
be a good boy."

Many bitter remarks were then made on Louis' late good behavior, and a
few upon his manner towards Ferrers, which, by some, was styled meanness
of the highest degree.

Ferrers could not endure it--he left the circle and walked about the
playground alone, full of remorse, thinking over every plan he had
formed for making amends to Louis for all. He looked up once or twice
with a gasping effort, and, oh! in the wrinkled and contracted forehead
what trouble might be read. "Oh! that it were a dream," he at last
uttered, "that I could wake and find it a warning."

There was a soft, warm hand in his, and Louis' gentle voice replied,
"Do not grieve now about me, Ferrers, it will soon be over."

Ferrers started and drew his hand away.

"You are not angry with me, are you?" said Louis; "I saw you alone,
and I was afraid you wanted comfort--I did not like to come before,
for fear the boys should make remarks, Reginald especially."

Ferrers looked at Louis a minute without speaking, and then, pushing
him off, walked quickly to the house, and did not show himself any more
that evening.

       *       *       *       *       *

Breakfast had long been finished, and the school was once more
assembled; the second class was waiting impatiently on the raised
end of the school-room for the doctor's entrance, or for a summons
to his presence; and near, at their several desks, busily writing
answers to a number of printed questions, sat the first class. It
was nearly an hour past the time, and impatient eyes were directed
to the clock over the folding-doors, which steadily marked the
flying minutes.

"Where can the doctor be?" had been asked many times already,
but no one could answer.

"We shall have no time--we shall not get done before night,"
muttered several malcontents. "What can keep the doctor?"

At this moment the folding-doors were quickly flung open, and
Dr. Wilkinson entered, and rapidly made his way towards the upper
end of the school-room, but in such a state of unwonted agitation
that the boys were by common consent hushed into silence, and every
occupation was suspended to watch their master's movements. "How
strange he looks!" whispered one; "something's the matter."
Dr. Wilkinson took no notice of the open eyes and mouths of his
awe-struck pupils--all his aim seemed to be to reach his seat with
the greatest speed.

"What's the row?" muttered Salisbury, in an under-tone to Hamilton,
having some idea that the latter could afford a clue to the clearing
up of the mystery. "Do you know of any thing, Hamilton?" Hamilton
shook his head, and fairly stood up to see what was going on.

Dr. Wilkinson at length reached his place, and there stood a few
minutes to collect himself. He then looked around, and asked, in a
quick, low tone, for Louis Mortimer. Louis was almost behind him,
and in some terror presented himself; though he was unconscious of
any misdemeanor, he did not know what new suspicion might have attached
to him. His gentle "Here, sir," was distinctly heard in every part of
the large room, in the breathless silence which now ruled. Dr. Wilkinson
looked on him, but there was no anger in his gaze--his eyes glistened,
and though there might be indignation mixed with the many emotions
struggling for expression in his countenance, Louis felt, as he raised
his timid eyes, that there was nothing now to fear. The doctor seemed
incapable of speaking; after one or two vain efforts he placed both
hands on Louis' head, and uttered a deep "God bless you!"

It would be impossible to describe the flood of rapture which this
action poured upon poor Louis. The endurance of the last few weeks was
amply repaid by the consciousness that somehow--and he did not consider
how--his innocence was established, and now, in the presence of his
school-fellows, publicly acknowledged.

For another minute Dr. Wilkinson stood with both hands resting on the
head of his gentle pupil, then, removing one, he placed it under Louis'
chin, and turned the glowing face up to himself and smiled--such a smile
none remembered ever to have seen on that stern face.

"Have you found all out, sir?" cried Reginald, starting forward.

The doctor's hand motioned him back, and turning Louis round, so as
to face the school, he said in a distinct, yet excited manner,

"Young gentlemen, we have been doing a wrong unconsciously, and I,
as one of the first, am anxious to make to the subject of it the only
reparation in my power, by declaring to you all that Louis Mortimer
is entirely innocent of the offence with which he was charged; and
I am sure I may say in the name of you all, as well as of myself,
that we are very sorry that he should have suffered so much on
account of it."

[Illustration: Dr. Wilkinson proclaims Louis innocent.]

There was a hum all around, and many of the lower school who knew
nothing of the matter, began whispering among themselves. But all
was hushed directly the doctor resumed his speech.

"There are some among you who are not aware, I believe, to what I allude;
but those who do know, can bear testimony to the gentle endurance of
false accusation that Louis Mortimer has exhibited during the whole time
he has been made to suffer so severely for the fault of another. I cannot
express my admiration of his conduct--conduct which I am sure has had
for its foundation the fear and love of God. Stay, gentlemen," said
the doctor, stilling with a motion of his hand the rising murmur of
approbation, "all is not yet told. This patient endurance might be
lauded as an unusual occurrence, were there nothing more--but there
is more. Louis Mortimer might have produced proofs of his innocence
and cleared himself in the eyes of us all."

"Louis!" exclaimed Reginald, involuntarily.

Louis' head was down as far as his master's hand would allow it, and deep
crimson blushes passed quickly over the nearly tearful face--and now the
remembrance of Ferrers, poor Ferrers, who had surely told all. Louis felt
very sorry for him, and almost ashamed on his own account. He wished he
could get behind his master, but that was impossible, and he stood still,
as the doctor continued, "Three weeks ago Louis discovered that a little
boy was in the study on the day when Kenrick's Key was abstracted, who
could, of course, bring the desired information--the information which
would have righted him in all our eyes; but mark--you who are ready to
revenge injuries--because this would have involved the expulsion of one
who had deeply injured him, he has never, by sign or word, made known to
any one the existence of such information, persuading the little boy also
to keep the secret; and this, which from him I should never have learned,
I have just heard from the guilty person, who, unable to bear the remorse
of his own mind, has voluntarily confessed his sin and Louis' estimable
conduct. Young gentlemen, I would say to all of you, 'GO AND DO LIKEWISE.'"

During this speech, Reginald had hardly been able to control himself,
especially when he found that Louis had never mentioned his knowledge
to himself; and now he sprang forward, unchecked by the doctor, and,
seizing his brother, who was immediately released, asked, "Why did you
not tell me, Louis? How was it I never guessed?"

While he spoke, there was a buz of inquiry at the lower end of the
school, and those who knew the story crowded eagerly up to the dais
to speak to Louis. Alfred's voice was very distinct, for he had worked
himself up to his brother:

"Edward, tell me all about it. I'm sure if I'd known I'd have told.
I didn't know why Louis was so joyful."

Edward could answer nothing: his heart was as full as the doctor's, and
with almost overflowing eyes and a trembling step, he pushed his way to
Louis, who had thrown himself on Reginald and was sobbing violently.

"Louis, I'm very sorry," said one. "Louis, you'll forgive me--I'm sure
I beg pardon," said other voices; and others added, "How good you are!--I
shouldn't have done it."

Louis raised his head from that dear shoulder, so often the place where
it had rested in his troubles, and said, amidst his sobs,

"Oh! don't praise me. I was very unwilling to do it."

"Let him alone," said the doctor. "Reginald, take him up stairs.
Gentlemen, I can do nothing more, nor you neither, I think, to-day.
I shall give you a holiday for the remainder of it."

There was a lull in the noise as Dr. Wilkinson spoke, but just as Louis
was going out, there arose a deafening cheer, three times repeated, and
then the boys picked up their books and hurried out of doors.

Louis' heart was full of gratitude, but at the same time it was
sobered by the recollection of what Ferrers must now suffer, and the
doubt he felt respecting his fate; and as soon as he had recovered
himself, he sought the doctor to beg pardon for him.

"As he has voluntarily confessed his fault, I shall not expel him,"
replied the doctor; "but I intend that he shall beg your pardon before
the school."

Louis, however, pleaded so earnestly that he had already suffered enough,
and begged as a favor that nothing more might be said, that at length
Dr. Wilkinson gave way.

The sensation that this event had caused in the school was very great:
those who had been loudest in condemning Louis, were now the loudest in
his praise, and most anxious to load him with every honor; and when he
made his appearance among them with Reginald, whose manly face beamed
with satisfaction and brotherly pride, he was seized by a party, and
against his will, chaired round the playground, everywhere greeted by
loud cheers, with now and then "A groan for Ferrers!"

"Louis, my man, you look sorrowful," said Hamilton, as he was landed
at last on the threshold of the school-room door.

"No, no," said Salisbury, who had been foremost in the rioting;
"cheer up, Louis--what's the matter?"

"I am afraid," said Louis, turning away.

"Afraid! of what old boy?" said Salisbury. "Come, out with it."

"I am afraid you will make me think too much of what ought not to be
thought of at all--you are all very kind, but--"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Salisbury; "we're all so vexed that we have been
such bears, and we want to make it up."

"I am sure I do not think any thing about it now," said Louis, holding
out both his hands and shaking all by turns; "I am very happy. Will you
let me ask one thing of you?"

"A hundred," was the reply; "and we'll fly on Mercury's pennons to do
your bidding."

"Put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes," said Frank Digby.

"When poor Ferrers comes among us, for my sake, do not take any notice
of what has happened."

There was a dark cloud on the faces before Louis, and Hamilton's lip
trembled with scorn. No reply was made.

"I am the only one who has any thing to forgive; please promise me to
leave him alone."

"Then," said Salisbury, abruptly, "whenever he comes in, I walk out,
for I can't sit in the same room and be civil.

"I shan't be particularly inclined to favor him with my discourse,"
said Frank; "so I promise to leave him alone."

"Will you try to be the same as you were before? Do!" said Louis.

"That's impossible!" they all cried; "we _cannot_, Louis."

"If you only knew how unhappy he has been, you would pity him very much,"
said Louis, sorrowfully. "He has been so very sad--and do not talk of
this to other people, please. I should be so much more happy if you
would try to be the same to him."

"All we can promise, is not to notice it, Louis," said Hamilton;
"and now, don't be sad any longer."

Yet Louis was sad and anxious; though now and then a thought that all
was clear, darted like a sunbeam across his mind, and called forth a
grateful emotion. He longed for the holidays to come,--the favor he was
in was almost painful.

Ferrers was invisible till the next evening, when he joined his
class-fellows at prayers. In spite of the half-promise Louis had
obtained from them, a studied unconsciousness of his presence, and
a chilling coldness, greeted him. Louis alone stood by him, and looked
in the deadly white countenance by him with heartfelt sympathy and
compassion; and glanced at several of his companions to remind them
of his wish. Ferrers seemed hardly the same; the proud, bullying air of
arrogance had given place to a saddened, subdued despair; and yet his
expression was far more pleasing in its humility than the natural one.

One or two, noticing Louis' anxiety, addressed him civilly, and even
wished him "Good-night!" which he did not return by more than an
inclination of the head. He expected no pity, and had nerved himself
to bear the scorn he had brought on himself; but any attention was a
matter of surprise to him.



CHAPTER X.


Wearily and joylessly had the last week of the examination passed away
for Ferrers; although in one branch he had borne away the palm from all
competitors. His confession had, in some measure, atoned for his great
fault, in the eyes of his judicious master; for, however much it called
for the severest reprehension, the fact of the mind not being hardened
to all sense of shame and right feeling, made the doctor anxious to
improve his better feelings; and, instead of driving them all away by
ill-timed severity, considering how lamentably the early training of
Ferrers had been neglected, he endeavored, after the first emotion
of indignation had passed away, to rouse the fallen youth to a
sense of honor and Christian responsibility; and sought to excite,
as far as he was able, some feeling of compassion for him among his
school-fellows.

There were, however, few among them who had learned the Christian
duty of bearing one another's burdens; few among them, who, because
circumstances over which they had had no control, had placed them out
of the temptations that had overcome their penitent school-fellow, did
not esteem themselves better than he, and look scornfully upon him, as
though they would say with the proud Pharisee of old, "Stand by, for
I am holier than thou!" And is it not the case around us generally?
Alas! how apt we are all to condemn our fellow-creatures; forgetting
that, had we been throughout similarly situated, our course might have
been the same, or even worse. "Who is it that has made us to differ
from another?"

Louis, as I have mentioned, felt very deeply for Ferrers; for, besides
their late close connection, had he not known what it was to suffer for
sin? He knew what it was to carry about a heavy heart, and to wake in the
morning as if life had no joy to give; and he knew, too, what it was to
lay his sins at a Saviour's feet, and to take the light yoke upon him.
How anxious was he to lead his fellow-sinner there! Though his simple
efforts seemed impotent at the time, years after, when his school-fellow
had grown a steady and useful Christian, he dated his first serious
impressions to this time of disgrace; and the remembrance of Louis'
sweet conduct was often before him.

Louis' mind had been so chastened by his previous adversity that his
present prosperity was meekly though thankfully borne. It came like
sunshine after showers, cheering and refreshing his path, but not
too powerful; for he was gradually learning more and more, to fear
any thing that had a tendency to draw his mind to rest complacently
on himself.

But the prize-day came--the joyful breaking-up-day--the day that was
to bring his dear parents; and of all the bounding hearts, there were
none more so than those of the two brothers. Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer had
given their boys reason to expect them in the afternoon of that day,
and they were to go from Clifton to Heronhurst before returning home.

Although Dr. Wilkinson's breaking-up-day was not ostensibly a public
day, yet so many of the pupils' friends claimed admittance to the
hall on the occasion, that it became so in fact, and was usually very
respectably attended. Many of the doctor's old pupils came, to recall
their old feelings, by a sight of this most memorable exhibition. And
on this day, Vernon Digby was present with a younger brother, not to
witness Frank's triumph, for that young gentleman had none to boast of,
but to look on the theatre of his former fame, and to see how his place
was now filled.

Dr. Wilkinson's high desk had been removed from the dais, and in
its place stood a long table covered with a red cloth, on which were
arranged a number of handsomely bound books of different sizes; and in
front of the dais, in a semicircular form, were placed the rows of seats
for the boys. On each side of this semicircle, and behind and parallel
with Dr. Wilkinson's seat, was accommodation for the spectators. The
room was in the most inviting order, and had been hung with garlands
of flowers by the boys. At eleven o'clock the pupils assembled, and
under the inspection of two of the under masters, seated themselves in
the places assigned them, the little boys being placed in the front row.

As the exact fate of each was unknown, though tolerably accurately
guessed, there was much anxiety. Some of the youths were quite silent
and pale, others endeavored to hide their agitation by laughing and
talking quietly, and some affected to consider their nearest companion
as more sure than themselves. Even Hamilton was not free from a little
nervousness, and though he talked away to Vernon Digby, who was sitting
by him, he cast more than one fidgety glance at the red-covered table,
and perceptibly changed color when the class-room door opened to allow
the long train of ladies and gentlemen to enter, and closed after
Dr. Wilkinson, and a few of his particular friends, among whom were
two great scholars who had assisted in the examination of the past week.

When every one was comfortably settled, Dr. Wilkinson leaned forward
over the table, and drew a paper towards him. His preliminary "hem" was
the signal for many fidgety motions on the forms in front of him, and
every eye was riveted on him as he prefaced his distribution of the
prizes by a short statement of his general satisfaction, and a slight
notice of those particular points in which he could desire improvement.
He then spoke of his pleasure at the report his friends had made of
the proficiency of the upper classes, and particularly alluding to the
first class, stopped and mentioned by name those who had especially
distinguished themselves. Among these, as a matter of course, Hamilton
stood foremost, and carried away the prize for Latin composition, as
well as another. Ferrers gained that for mathematics--and two other
prizes were awarded to the next in order. Dr. Wilkinson mentioned
Frank Digby as having taken so high a place during the examination,
as to induce one of the gentlemen who assisted him to consider him
entitled to one of the classical prizes; but the doctor added that
Frank Digby's indifference and idleness during the term had made him
so unwilling that he should, by mere force of natural ability, deprive
his more industrious class-fellows of a hard-earned honor, that he had
not felt himself justified in listening to the recommendation, but
hoped that his talents would, the following term, be exerted from the
beginning, in which case, he should have pleasure in awarding to him
the meed of successful application.

Frank colored, half angrily, but said, _sotto voce_,

"I don't care--I just like to see whether I can't do as well as any one
else without fagging."

Vernon was half provoked and half amused at his brother's discomfiture.

Then came Reginald's turn, and he carried off three out of the
four prizes of his class, leaving one for John Salisbury.

As each one was called up to receive his reward, an immense clapping
and stamping took place, and Louis, all exuberance, stamped most
vigorously when his brother and his particular friends went up. There
were very slight manifestations when poor Ferrers was summoned, but
Louis exerted himself so manfully in the applauding department, that
the contagion spread a little before the despised recipient was seated.

The other classes were taken in order; and when all was finished,
Dr. Wilkinson took up a little morocco case, and, after clearing his
throat once or twice, began anew:

"There remains now but one reward to be assigned, but it is the greatest
of all, though undoubtedly that one which it is the most difficult to
adjudge rightly. It is the medal for good conduct. Hitherto it has been
my practice never to give it to any one who has not been with me the
whole term, but on the present occasion I am inclined to depart from
my custom in favor of a young gentleman whose conduct has been most
praiseworthy, though he has only been with me since Easter. Before
adjudging it, I will, however, appeal to the young gentlemen themselves,
and ask them who they think among them is the most deserving of this
honor?"

Dr. Wilkinson paused, and immediately a shout, led by Hamilton, arose,
of "Louis Mortimer."

"I expected it," said the doctor, with a smile: "Louis Mortimer
has been placed, perhaps, in a situation in the school a little
beyond him, and has, therefore, made no great figure in the
examination, but of his conduct I can speak in the highest terms,
and believe that his sense of duty is so strong that he only wants
the conviction that it is his duty to exert himself a little more,
to make him for the future as habitually industrious as he has been
during the last six weeks.--Louis Mortimer!"

Almost overcome with astonishment and delight, Louis hardly understood
the summons, but Reginald whispered, "Go, Louis, the doctor calls you,"
and all made way for him with the most pleasant looks of sympathy and
congratulation. His modesty and elegance prepossessed the spectators
greatly in his favor, as he passed timidly along the ranks to the table.
Dr. Wilkinson smiled kindly on him as he delivered the bright silver
medal, in its claret-colored case, saying as he did so,

"I have the greatest pleasure in giving this to you, and trust that you
will be encouraged, when you look on it, to go on as you have begun."

Louis was covered with blushes--he bowed, and as he turned away, the
most deafening applause greeted him; and, as the last prize was now
given, the boys left their seats and mingled among the company. Louis
was drawn immediately into a little coterie, composed of Hamilton,
Reginald, his three cousins, and one or two others, all of whom
congratulated him upon his distinction.

"And so, Louis, you are the hero," said Vernon; "and what is the
drama in which you have been acting so much to your credit?"

"Too long a tale to tell now," replied Hamilton, smiling on Louis;
"we will talk over it by and by. We have been treating him very ill,
Digby, but next half-year we shall understand him better--shall we
not, Louis?"

Louis was so full of delight that he could hardly speak--it was
especially a happy moment to stand before his cousin Vernon with
a right fame and well-established character.

"I said my magic knew who would gain the medal," said Frank.

"But your magic did not anticipate such magnificent honors for
yourself, I imagine," said Vernon.

"I was a little out," said Frank, carelessly; "for it has proved that
Lady Louisa has all the goodness, and I the genius. My head is quite
overloaded with the laurels Fudge heaped on me: I shan't be able to
hold it up these holidays."

"A good thing that something will press it down: it is generally high
enough," remarked Hamilton.

"How delighted father and mother will be to hear of your industry!"
said Vernon.

"I am sure," replied the incorrigible youth, "they ought to be proud of
having a son too clever to win the prizes. Louis, it puts me in mind
of the man in your tale, who had to bind his legs for fear he should
outrun the hares. I am, however, heartily glad for you, and amazingly
sorry we should have so misunderstood you."

"Louis Mortimer," cried a little boy, very smartly dressed, "mamma
wants to look at your medal--will you come and show it to her?"

"And go off, Reginald, with him, and tell Lady Stanhope all the news,"
said Vernon, as Louis went away with little Stanhope; "I will come and
pay my respects as soon as it is convenient for me to be aware of her
ladyship's presence."

Louis' medal was examined and passed from hand to hand, and many
compliments were made on the occasion. Lady Stanhope was very kind,
and would hear the history, a command Reginald was by no manner of
means unwilling to obey, though he suppressed the name of the guilty
party. The doctor was in great request, for many of the ladies were
very anxious to know more of "that lovely boy," but he was very guarded
in his accounts of the matter, though bearing the strongest testimony
to Louis' good conduct. He turned to Mr. Percy, who was present, and
said, quietly, "That, sir, is the boy you mentioned to me at Easter;
the son of Mr. Mortimer, of Dashwood."

The excitement was almost too much for Louis, tried as he had been
lately by unusual fagging and early rising. He was glad to get away
into the playground, and after watching one or two departures he ran
wildly about, now and then laughing aloud in his delight, "Oh! papa and
mamma, how glad they will be!" and then the well-spring of deep gladness
seemed to overflow, and the excess of happiness and gratitude made him
mute. His heart swelled with emotions too great for any words; a deep
sense of mercies and goodness of which he was unworthy, but for which
he felt as if he could have poured out his being in praise. Oh the
blessing of a thankful heart! How happy is he who sees his Father's
hand in every thing that befalls him, and in whom each mercy calls
forth a gush of gratitude!

    "Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
       My daily thanks employ;
     Nor is the least a thankful heart,
       To taste those gifts with joy."
                                    ADDISON.

The playground was empty, for the boys were either engaged with their
friends, or else departing; and Louis, from his little nook, saw many
vehicles of different descriptions drive away from the door. When the
dinner-bell rang he re-entered the house, but the dinner-table looked
very empty--there was not half the usual party.

"Where have you been, Louis?" asked Reginald, as he entered; "I have
been looking everywhere for you. Hamilton was quite vexed to go away
without bidding you goodbye, and he begged me to do it for him."

"I am very sorry, indeed," said Louis; "I have been in the playground.
Reginald, does it not make you feel very pleasant to see the heap of
boxes in the hall? I stood a long time looking at our directions."

"I am almost cracked," cried Reginald, joyously;--

    "'Midsummer's coming again, my boys,
      Jolly Midsummer and all its joys!'"

How far Reginald's reminiscences of his holiday song might have
continued, I cannot pretend to say, had it not been interrupted by
a desire from the presiding master, that "he would recollect himself,
and where he was;" but order was out of the question, most of the party
being in Reginald's condition--and, after several useless appeals to
the sense of gentlemanly decorum proper to be observed by the noisy
party, Mr. Witworth found his best plan would be to let every thing
pass that did not absolutely interfere with the business in hand, and,
dinner being over, the ill-mannered troop dispersed. Several of them,
among whom were Reginald and Louis, stopped in the hall to feast their
eyes on the piles of trunks and portmanteaus; and Reginald discovered
that a direction was wanting on one of theirs; "And I declare, Louis,
see what Frank has been doing."

Louis laughed, as he perceived that one of the directions on his luggage
was altered to "Lady Louisa Mortimer," and ran away to rectify it. When
he returned, the party in the hall was considerably enlarged, and Ferrers
came towards him to wish him good-bye. "Good-bye, Louis, I am coming back
next half-year," he said, in a low tone; "and you must help me to regain
my character." Louis squeezed his hand, and promised to write to him,
though he hoped, he said, that he should not come back himself; and when
Ferrers left the hall, the business of affixing the necessary directions
went on very busily. Reginald was in a state of such overflowing delight,
as to be quite boisterous, and now and then burst out into snatches of
noisy songs, rendered remarkably effective by an occasional squeak and
grunt, which proclaimed his voice to be rather unmanageable.

"Now, Louis, here's a piece of string, and my knife.

    'Christmas is coming again, my boys!'"

"_Christmas_, Reginald--Midsummer!" cried Louis, laughing.

"Well then, ah, well! tie it tight.

      'Midsummer's coming again, my boys,
        Jolly Midsummer, and all its joys;
        And we're all of us cracked, so we'll kick up a noise.
    _Chorus_. Ri-toorul-loor, rul-loor, rul-loor-rul. Hip, hip, hurrah!
        Hollo!'"

The sensible chorus was shouted at the utmost pitch of the voices
of the assembled youths, who waved hats, hands, and handkerchiefs,
during the process.

"Bravissimo!" exclaimed Reginald, quite red with his exertions, and
beaming with excitement. "But my beautiful voice is very unruly; the
last few times I have tried to sing, it has been quite disobedient.
I think it must be cracked, at last."

"Are you not pleased?" said Louis, archly.

"Not particularly," replied Reginald.

"You said you should be, last Christmas. Do you remember the ladies
at grandpapa's?"

"Well, there is that comfort at any rate," said Reginald, "we shan't
have any more of their humbug; but think of the dear old madrigals,
and--it's no laughing matter, Mr. Louis, for all your fun."

"Acknowledge, then, that you spoke rashly, when you said you should
be glad of it," said Louis, who was full of merriment at his brother's
misfortune.

And now Vernon, Arthur, and Frank Digby pressed forward, to bid good-bye.

As Vernon shook Louis' hand, he said, "I shall see you at Heronhurst,
I suppose."

"I suppose _I_ mustn't dare to go," said Frank.

"And now I shall go and gather some of those white roses by the wall,
for mamma," said Louis. "I hope it won't be very long, Reginald, they
must be here soon--oh, how delightful it will be!"

Louis ran off, and succeeded in finding a few half-blown roses for his
dear mother, and was engaged in carefully cutting off the thorns, when
one of his school-fellows ran up to him, and called out that his father
and mother were come.

"Papa and mamma! Where's Reginald?" he cried, and flew over the
playground without waiting for an answer. "Where are papa and mamma?
Where is Reginald?" he cried, as he ran into the hall. His hurried
question was as quickly answered; and Louis, jumping over the many
packages, made his way to the drawing-room. Here were his dear father
and mother, with Dr. Wilkinson. Reginald had been in the room several
minutes; and when Louis entered, was standing by his mother, whose arm
was round him, and close behind him stood his father.

"My Louis!" was his mother's affectionate greeting, and the next moment
he was in her arms, his own being clasped tightly round her neck, and he
could only kiss her in speechless joy, at first; and then, when the kind
arms that strained him to her bosom were loosened, there was his dear
father, and then words came, and as he looked with flashing eyes and
crimsoned cheek, from one to the other, he exclaimed, "Oh, mamma! I
have a medal--mamma, it is all come out! Papa, I am innocent; I have
a character now! Oh, dear mamma, I said it would--I am quite cleared!"

His head sank on his father's shoulder; a strange, dull sound in his
head overpowered him; a slight faintness seemed to blow over his face;
his eyes were fixed and glassy, and he became unconscious. Mr. Mortimer
changed color, and hastily catching the falling boy, he carried him to
the sofa. Dr. Wilkinson sent Reginald immediately for some water, but
before he could return, and almost before Mrs. Mortimer could raise her
dear boy's head from the pillow to her shoulder, the color came again,
and his eyes resumed their natural expression.

"What was the matter, my darling?" said his mother, kissing him.

"I don't know, mamma," replied Louis, sitting up. "I only felt giddy,
and something like a little wind in my face."

"I think he has been overwrought," said Dr. Wilkinson, kindly; "he has
gone through a great deal lately. We will take him up stairs and let
him lie down; I think he wants a little quiet."

"I am quite well now," said Louis.

"I will sit by your side; you had better go up stairs, dear,"
said his mother.

Louis yielded, and Mr. Mortimer assisted him up stairs, despite his
declarations that he was quite strong and well, and, being laid on a
bed, Mrs. Mortimer stationed herself by his side.

All they said I have not time to relate, but long Louis lay with his
mother's hand in both of his, telling her of the events of the last
two months, and often she bent her head down and kissed his broad
forehead and flushed cheek; and when she would not let him talk any
more, he lay very passively, his eyes filling with grateful tears,
and now and then in the overflowing of his heart, raising them to
his mother, with "Mamma, thank God for me. Oh, how very grateful
I ought to be!"

At length he fell asleep, and his mother sat still, watching the quiet
face, and the glittering tear-drop that trembled on his eyelash, and
she too felt that her mercies were very great--she did thank God for
him, and for herself.



CHAPTER XI.

  "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues
   of life."--Prov. iv. 23.


After a long and tedious journey Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer, with their two
boys, reached Heronhurst, where they met with the affectionate welcome
usually given by Sir George and Lady Vernon to all so nearly related to
them. The castle was full of visitors, amongst whom were Lady Digby and
her two eldest daughters, and many young people--personages grandmamma
never forgot in the holidays, however unimportant they may appear in the
eyes of some. Children liked to come to Heronhurst, for there was always
so much mirth and amusement, and Lady Vernon was so remarkably clever
in arranging pleasant pic-nics and excursions. Vernon and Frank Digby
arrived the same day as Mr. Mortimer, a few hours before him, and as
Vernon had announced the fact of Louis' having gained the medal, every
one was prepared to receive our hero with due honor.

It was with no little satisfaction that Louis felt in the hearty shake of
the hand, and the kind tone, that he was now more than re-established in
his grandfather's good opinion. Had it not been for the salutary effects
of his former disgrace, and the long trial he had lately undergone, there
would have been great danger now of his falling into some open fault,
for he was praised so much by his kind relations, and flattered by the
company, and his medal had so often to be exhibited, that it needed much
that in himself he did not possess, to guard him from falling into the
error of imagining himself to be already perfect.

It was settled that there was to be a fete on the 27th, which some of
my readers may remember was Louis' birthday; and Sir George, anxious
to efface from his grandson's memory any painful reminiscences of the
last, arranged the order of things much in the same manner, taking care
that Louis' proteges, the school-children, should not be forgotten.

This news had just been communicated to Louis by his grandfather, with
many expressions of commendation, and he was in a state of complacent
self-gratulation, that feeling which would have led him to say, "By
the strength of my hand I have done this;" instead of, "My strength
will I ascribe unto the Lord," when a kind, soft hand, glittering with
rings, was laid upon his arm, and the pleasant voice of his old friend
Mrs. Paget greeted him.

"So, Master Louis, we are to have a fete, I hear. Are you really
fourteen on the 27th? Come and sit down and tell me all about your
school. I knew you would soon be a favorite. What's all this long
story that everybody talks of and nobody knows? I said I would ask
you, the most proper person to know it; and I know you will tell me
the secret."

"It is no secret, ma'am," said Louis; "I would rather not talk of it."

"Just like your own modest little self: and it might not be kind to tell
every one all the story, perhaps; but with an old friend like me, you
know you are safe."

"But, ma'am, you might forget when every one is talking--"

Louis stopped and colored, for he thought it seemed rather conceited to
imagine every one must be talking of him, and he corrected himself,

"At least, dear Mrs. Paget, I had much rather not, I mean."

"You are a dear, kind little boy," said the injudicious lady;
"I know very well you are afraid of committing that naughty
school-fellow of yours. I can't understand about the _keys_--I
heard your brother saying something about them--what keys? Were
they the keys of the boy's desks?"

Louis could hardly help laughing--"No, ma'am, Kenrick's keys."

"And who is Kenrick--one of the masters?"

"It is a book, ma'am--a key to the Greek exercises."

"Oh, I see--a sort of translation--well, he stole this from
Dr. Wilkinson, and said you'd done it?"

"No, not that," replied Louis. "He took it out of the study. Some
of the boys were in the habit of using the keys when they could."

"Well, there was nothing so very terrible in it, poor fellows.
I dare say the lessons are very hard. I think every boy ought to
have an English translation of those frightful Latin and Greek books."

Louis opened his eyes and quietly said--

"We think it very dishonorable and unfair, ma'am."

"Well, if I understood all about it, I might too, I dare say.
I only see a little bit, but of course you know the rules and
all the rest,--well, was that all?"

"No, ma'am," said Louis, uneasily.

"He said you had taken it, I dare say?"

"Something like it," replied Louis. "He slipped it among my books
to hide it, ma'am, but not intending to do me any harm; and when
it was found he was afraid to speak the truth."

"And so you bore the blame--and did you not try to clear yourself?"

"To be sure, ma'am; but he was older and better known than I was,
and so he was believed."

"And you couldn't help yourself? I thought you bore it out of
kindness to him."

"Afterwards I found it out, ma'am. I found that Alfred Hamilton
knew something about it."

"Who is Alfred Hamilton?" asked Mrs. Paget.

"A little boy, ma'am, at school."

"And he found it out--and didn't he tell of it?"

"I did not wish him," replied Louis, with less reserve. "It would
have been very unkind to poor Ferrers; he would have been expelled.
Alfred was going to tell, but you would not have wished him to do it,
I am sure."

Ah Louis, Louis! anxiety for Ferrers' reputation was quite lost in the
selfish desire of admiration. Mrs. Paget put her arm round him, and her
kindly eyes nearly overflowed with affectionate emotion, for she, poor
lady, could only see the surface; the inward workings of the little vain
heart were hid from her, or she would have been surprised to find under
the appearance of sweetness and humility, Louis was only thinking of
seeming lovely and amiable in her eyes.

"No, my darling, I know you could not do any thing unkind--you
are a sweet, dear creature, and I am sure I love you; and so this
Master Ferrers never spoke the truth, and you bore the blame?"

"He did at last, ma'am, at the end of the half-year: but it was not
very long to bear it, only five weeks."

"_Only!_ I wonder you could have done it for so long; Ferrers,
that was the name, was it?"

"If you please, don't mention it," exclaimed Louis, with unaffected
earnestness; "I did not mean to say his name. Please, dear Mrs. Paget,
do not mention it. He is so very sorry, and confessed all so
handsomely--I think you would like him if you knew all about him,
for he is not so bad as others make him out to be."

Mrs. Paget had only time to give him a kind of half promise, when she
was called away; and Louis, left to himself, became aware of the vanity
his foolish heart had persuaded him was Christian kindness. His enjoyment
was destroyed that evening, for he was full of anxiety lest Mrs. Paget
should talk of the matter, and he wandered restlessly about the rooms,
longing for an opportunity of speaking a kind word for Ferrers, wishing
vainly that what he had said could be undone. He felt more than ever
the necessity of keeping a watch over his heart and tongue, and almost
inclined to despair of ever overcoming the many stumbling-blocks in the
way of attaining to holiness. Thus, little by little, is the evil of
our hearts disclosed to us, and the longer the true Christian lives,
the less he finds to be satisfied with in himself; not that he is
further removed from holiness, but he has more sight given him to
know what he really is by nature--and the nearer he arrives to the
perfect day, the greater is the light to disclose his own deformities,
and the exceeding loveliness of the righteousness he possesses in
Jesus his Lord.

Louis, in common with the young visitors at Heronhurst, thought often
and expectantly of his birthday--and when the morning at last arrived,
he awoke much earlier than usual, with a strong sensation of some great
happiness. The light on the blind of his window was not bright, nor
promising brightness--and when he jumped up and ran to examine the day,
expressing to his brother his hope that the weather was propitious, he
found to his dismay that the rain was pouring in torrents, and the dull
unbroken clouds gave but little promise of a change in the prospect.

"Oh! Reginald, it's raining, raining hard."

"How very provoking!" cried Reginald. "Let me see--there is not much
hope neither--how exceedingly tiresome--there's an end to our fun--who'd
have thought it--how VERY--"

"Hush!" said poor Louis, who was very much disappointed, "it is not
right to say _tiresome_ when it pleases God that the weather shall
not suit us."

"I can't help it," said Reginald.

"I dare say we shall be very happy. I am most sorry about the
school-children."

"I don't care a fig about them," said Reginald, impatiently; "there's
that cricket match, and all."

"What, not the poor little things, Reginald? just think how they have
been expecting this day--it is quite an event for them, and we have so
many pleasures: I dare say you will have the cricket the first fine day."

Reginald felt rather ashamed, and yet unwilling to acknowledge himself
in the wrong; therefore he satisfied himself with remarking, that Louis
did not like cricket, and he didn't care about the children, and there
was no difference.

Louis' attention was at that moment attracted by something on the table.
"Oh! here is something for me, Reginald!--A beautiful new Bible from
dear papa and mamma--and a church service from grandmamma, and what's
this?--'_The Lady of the Manor_' from uncle and aunt Clarence;
how kind, look Reginald! and here's another--a beautiful little red and
gold book, '_Mrs. Rowe's Poems_,' the book I am so fond of--from
you: oh! thank you, dear Reginald."

"And many happy returns of the day, dear Louis," said Reginald, who
had by this time completely recovered his ordinary good-humor.

At the foot of the stairs, when he descended, Louis met some of the
young party, who hardly waited to offer the compliments of the day
before they loudly expressed the disappointment felt by each at the
unfavorable weather. "Raining, raining--nothing but splashing and dark
clouds--so tiresome, so disappointing--we shall be obliged to stay
in-doors," sounded round him in different keys as they marched in
close phalanx to the breakfast-room, where they found Bessie Vernon,
a little girl of seven years old, kneeling on a chair at the window,
singing, in the most doleful accents,

    "Rain, rain, go to Spain,
     And mind you don't come back again."

"Good morning, Bessie," said Louis.

"Oh! Louis, many happy returns. I haven't got a present for you,
because I hadn't money enough."

"Never mind," said Louis; "I would rather have your love and kisses
than any present."

"And I will give you many, many kisses," cried the little girl,
fulfilling her promise in good earnest.

"_My love and a kiss_," said her brother; "that's what Bessie always
sends at the end of her letters: isn't it, Bessie, _I send you my love
and a kiss_?"

"Well, I mean it," said Bessie, "and you needn't laugh. I wonder what
we shall do to-day--dear me--I think, though, there's a little lighter
bit of sky over the oak."

"Let me see--where are my spectacles?" said Frank.

"Not much hope, I fear," said Sir George's hearty voice behind
her. "Not much hope, Bessie. What an array of long faces. How do
you do? Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I hope I see you in
health and spirits. A happy birthday, and many of them to you,
my boy; the rain does not appear to have damped you so much as
some of your play-fellows--well, Miss Bessie?"

"Grandpapa, grandpapa! what shall we do? you must find some pleasure
for us," cried Bessie, clinging round her grandfather's knees, and
looking up very beseechingly in the kind face so far above her.

"Ah, well--we'll see, we'll see--now let me go to breakfast; when that
important business is dispatched, and grandmamma makes her appearance,
we will find something to do."

Fortified with this promise, an excellent breakfast was eaten by the
martyrs to disappointment, and then, after some consultation, it was
decided that the band should be in attendance in the hall, and a
messenger should be sent forthwith to command the attendance of the
school-children at a banquet in the same place, and Lady Vernon was
of opinion that with charades, a magic lantern, bagatelle, tivoli,
and dolls, a very merry morning might be spent. The young people then
dispersed in search of their own peculiar amusements. Some of the young
men went into the billiard-room, and a few chess parties were formed.
Some began to act charades for the edification of such among the elders
as would choose to make an audience. A still larger party adjourned to
the school-room to play at houses with their dolls, and two tables were
soon spread with ground plans of three magnificent establishments for
paper ladies and gentlemen, by three young ladies between the ages of
twelve and eight, assisted by Mr. Frank Digby.

At one o'clock they went to the hall, where the band was playing a merry
air. Here a long table was spread, well covered with a nice plain dinner,
and the school-children came two-and-two into the hall, just after the
visitors had arrived.

When all were seated, the girls at the upper, and the boys at the
lower end, Mr. Mortimer came forward and said grace for them, and
then the viands disappeared with great rapidity. Some of the castle
children, headed by Louis, asked to be allowed to wait on them, and,
the permission being given, they made themselves very busy, though
it must be confessed that they were sometimes sadly in the servants'
way. Sir George Vernon went round the table very majestically, and
now and then spoke a word or two to one of the children--words which
were treasured up in their memories for many a long day, though they
meant little or nothing; but it is so easy to create a pleasant and
grateful feeling.

Many of the spectators, including nearly all the gentlemen, had left
the hall very soon after the commencement of the feast, and now a summons
was given to the little ones of the castle to their own dinner. Louis,
not being included in the little ones, went with the school-children
into a large empty room, and with the help of his father and one or two
others, exerted himself successfully for their entertainment, until his
friends joined them, and, the room being darkened, the magic lantern was
displayed. The humble little guests then, being supplied each with a
cake and some fruit, returned to their homes, quite delighted with the
pleasures of the day. Frank and the three young ladies enjoyed an hour's
amusement during the late dinner; for the good-natured youth had yielded
to the pressing invitation of the merry little party, and dined with
them at two, to their great satisfaction, notwithstanding the declaration
of some, that he was "a great tease."

The great dinner was much earlier than usual, to allow of the ball,
which began at seven o'clock for the convenience of the younger ones,
and was continued until eleven, at which time, though he had been very
happy, Louis was very tired, and could not help thinking, that, after
all, a whole day of pleasure-seeking in this manner, was very fatiguing
and unsatisfying. He could hardly keep his eyes open, when Mrs. Paget
seized him, and after a few compliments on his dancing, insisted upon
hearing him sing "_Where the bee sucks_."

Louis complied as well as he was able, and though his sleepiness robbed
his song of some power, its sweetness not only satisfied the flattering
lady, but a more unscrupulous auditor who stood behind him in the person
of his grandfather.

"Your mother taught you to sing, Louis?" said he.

"Miss Spencer taught me," replied Louis.

"The mechanism, perhaps, but it's your mother's teaching.
The taste, madam," said Sir George, turning to Mrs. Paget.

"Both Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer are first-rate amateurs," said Mrs. Paget.

"Mrs. Mortimer has great talent," replied Sir George; "and she has done
something with this boy. I suppose you are very fond of music, Louis?"

Louis answered in the affirmative, and Sir George added--

"I shall give you a treat. You shall go on Sunday to A----, and hear
the singing at the church there. The little boys sing very sweetly.
Have you heard them ma'am?"

"No, I never have."

"Then I think it would be a wise step to pay a visit there during
divine service next Sunday. The church is worth looking at,--a good
specimen of the early English style of architecture. We can make up
a little party to go, if you would like it."

Mrs. Paget expressed her entire approbation of the scheme, and Louis,
too sleepy to think much of it, wished her and Sir George good night,
and went to bed.

The next day, the rain continuing, in the morning Louis enjoyed
_The Lady of the Manor_ in his own room. He was still much excited
by the yesterday's pleasure, and felt unsettled, and disinclined to
employ himself steadily with any thing. In the afternoon, as the
weather was fine, his mother insisted on his taking a walk, and
Reginald and Vernon Digby accompanied him. They had a great scramble
through the hilly district that surrounded Heronhurst, and merrily
the talk (we will not dignify it by the name of conversation) continued.
As they re-entered the grounds it fell upon the scheme of visiting the
church, and during the light and common-place discussion that ensued,
it struck Louis that there might be something wrong in the plan. He
became very silent, and when he reached his room, quietly thought over
the matter, and came to the conclusion that, though they intended going
to church, yet the motives that induced their doing so were not to the
glory of God, and that to employ servants for such an end, on God's holy
day, was certainly wrong. This was his first impression; and when he
next saw Reginald, he told him what he had been thinking of.

"Well, but Louis, you know it won't make any difference whether we go
or not, and so _we_ shan't engage the servants. I don't see why, because
you like nice singing, you should go to the chapel where they screech
so abominably."

Louis was silent, for he hardly liked to oppose his reasons to Reginald's
blunt speech, and Reginald, dismissing the subject from his mind, began
to talk of something else. He ran on very volubly for a little while,
without receiving any interruption from his brother, and, looking at him,
he saw very plainly that Louis was not paying the slightest attention
to him.

"What is the matter, Louis? How dull you are!"

"Nothing," replied Louis.

"Nothing?" repeated Reginald; "_Something_, you ought to say. I know you
are making yourself miserable about this church-going, and what need is
there? We are going to church, and we can't prevent the carriage going.
If it were on purpose for us it would be different."

"But there will be a great deal of nonsense, I know," said Louis,
uneasily. "It seems very much like going to a show place. I hope I
shall be able to ask mamma about it."

"As to nonsense," replied Reginald, "when do we have any thing else
here?--you can't make Dashwood of Heronhurst, and I think if you go
to hear such beautiful singing, it is more likely to put good thoughts
into your head than those lovely singers here; and then, Mr. Perrott
is quite a famous man; everybody likes him better than Mr. Burton--you
are too scrupulous, Louis. I think, sometimes, you are guilty of
over-conscientiousness."

Before Louis could reply, some of their young friends entered the
room, and one thing followed another so quickly that Louis had no
time to think clearly on the subject till he went to bed; but when
all was silent and nothing interfered with his thoughts, his anxious
mind ran over all that had passed, and turn it which way he would, it
still seemed wrong. What with this feeling, and the fear of making
his grandfather angry, Louis felt very uncomfortable; and then came
Reginald's sophistry, and Louis almost argued himself into the belief
that his brother was right and he too scrupulous: and when he tried to
pray for direction he did not feel sincere, for he was conscious of a
wish to go to the church, and a great dread of offending his grandfather.
After some hours' restless consideration, he dropped asleep, having made
up his mind to consult his father and mother, and to abide by their
counsel. The next day, however, he had no opportunity of speaking to
them alone, and Saturday night found him as miserably undecided as
before. "Oh dear, if there were any one I could ask!" There was One,
and though aid was feebly asked, it was granted; and with much fear and
anxiety, Louis declined accompanying the party to A---- church the next
morning.

Vernon stared, and Reginald tried in vain to persuade him to alter his
mind,--but he stood firm, and turning away from them, afraid to trust
himself, stayed up stairs till the castle chapel bells began to ring,
and then hastened down with a happy, free, and light heart, to join
his mother.

"Hey-day, Louis!" exclaimed his grandfather; "I thought you were off
long ago. You're too late: the carriage has been gone this hour. What's
the meaning of these late hours, sir?"

"I was up quite early, grandfather," said Louis.

"Then how was it you let them go without you?"

"Because I had rather not go, sir," said Louis, with a heightened color.

"And pray why could you not say so sooner?--you are the most uncertain
fellow;--not the smallest dependence ever to be placed upon you. Do you
know your own mind, Mr. Louis?"

"Not always at first," replied Louis, in a low tone.

"Hold up your head and speak out. And pray why has your weather-cock
mind changed? What new wind has blown you round now, eh?"

"It's Sunday, grandpapa," said Louis, looking up at his mother with
a distressed face.

"Well! Is the boy moon-struck? '_It's Sunday, grandpapa._' Don't you
suppose I know that?"

"I didn't think it was quite right, sir, to go to A---- church when we
had one so near us."

"Just as you please," said Sir George, contemptuously--"just as you
please, Master Louis; only do not expect me to plan any thing for your
pleasure again."

"I am very much obliged, grandpapa--you don't understand me."

"Oh, we understand each other very well, sir," said his grandfather,
turning off very haughtily.

As he passed Mr. Mortimer he said,

"This comes of _molly-coddling_ that boy at home; you'll make
a Methodist of him."

What answer Mr. Mortimer made, Louis could not hear, and the next
moment they all went into the chapel.

Many contemptuous smiles were exchanged among those of the visitors
who heard the colloquy, but Louis was comforted by an approving smile
from his parents, and from the sweet consciousness of having done what
was right. The service was very sweet to him, and the lightness of
his heart made even the inferior singing very pleasant, and he gained
something from "tedious Mr. Burton's" sermon; so much depends on the
frame of mind. Our Saviour has enjoined us to take heed _how_ we hear.

Louis had a very pleasant stroll in the park with his father after
service, and when he entered the house with a happy quiet mind, he
contrasted his feelings with those he should have had, had he been
one of the giddy party at that time returning from A----, and joyfully
thanked his heavenly Father for keeping him from dishonoring His holy
day in "seeking his own pleasure" on it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following Thursday evening Mr. Mortimer's carriage was seen coming
along the road leading to Dashwood, and at each window was a very joyful
face noting all the familiar objects around; and as the horses dashed
round a corner under a short grove of limes, the tongues belonging to
the two began to move with astonishing rapidity.

"Here's Dashwood!" cried one.

"There's the river," exclaimed the other.

"The Priory chimneys," shouted the first.

"The Grange, Reginald," cried the second.

"And Bessie Gordon in the garden,--she sees us," cried Reginald, who
had changed sides for a second. "Ann White's cottage, Louis--I saw the
old picture of Lazarus large as ever--and the sheep--and I smell hay.
Look, there's a hay-field, and Johnson with the hay-makers! Hillo,
Johnson! He sees me."

"The bells, papa! The bells, mamma!" exclaimed Louis--"Oh, it's home,
dear, sweet home! The bells are ringing because you are come home, papa;
and look, there are all the people coming out of the cottages--how glad
they seem to be!"

"Louis, Louis, here we go!" shouted Reginald, as the carriage swept
down a lane arched over with green boughs.

Presently they came to the lodge gate; but not a moment had they
to wait; it was wide open, and they could scarcely exchange marks
of recognition with the gatekeeper and family, when they were out of
sight in the long winding carriage road that led through the park.

"Welcome, welcome--home! The dear, dear old Priory," said Louis,
with increasing enthusiasm.

"Take care you are not out on the grass, Louis," said his mother,
seizing his arm.

"Here we are!" cried Reginald. "And there's Mary, the little pussy,
and sober Neville, looking out of his wits, for a wonder. Here we are!"



CHAPTER XII.

  "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
   might."--Eccles. ix. 10.

  "Watch and pray."--Matt. xxvi. 41.

  "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through
   God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations,
   and every high thing that exalteth itself against the _knowledge_
   of God."--2 Cor. x. 4, 5.


"Ah! Louis, _this_ is home," exclaimed Reginald, as, after the
embraces in the hall, they entered the pleasant drawing-room. It _was_
home, home with all its sweet associations and dear beings; and, in
a few minutes, Reginald and Louis had run all over the house for the
pleasure of seeing "the dear old places;" had shaken hands with the old
servants, given nurse a kiss, and, having finished by wakening Freddy
from his first sleep, returned to the drawing-room, where tea was ready.
It was a very pleasant tea that night. Every one had so much to say,
and there was so much innocent mirth--all agreed it was worth while
going away from home, for the pleasure of returning. Gradually the
broad yellow light faded from the wall, table, carpet, and window;
and, the gray twilight usurping its place, little Mary was obliged
to leave her seat on her father's knee, and with many kisses was
marshalled up stairs by nurse and Neville.

When Neville returned, the happy party sat round the open window
watching the bright stars in their trembling beauty, and the half-moon
rise over the dark trees, whitening their tops, silvering the water,
and casting the deep shadows into deeper darkness. There was something
in the still beauty that hushed the speakers, and at last only a low
remark was now and then made, until Louis asked his mother to walk out
into the garden. Mrs. Mortimer at first pleaded the heavy dews as an
excuse, but the request was so urgently pressed by Reginald and Neville,
and a large shawl and pair of clogs being procured, they sallied forth,
Neville and his father first, then Reginald and Miss Spencer, and lastly,
to his great satisfaction, Louis and his mother.

"I am so fond of moonlight, mamma," said Louis.

"I think most people are," replied his mother.

"I wonder what is the reason that moonlight is so much sweeter than
sunlight," said Louis.

"Do you like it better?" said his mother.

"I don't know that I like it _better_," replied Louis; "but it always
seems so quiet and soothing. I always liked moonlight when I was a very
little boy--but I thought very differently about it then."

"How so?" asked his mother.

"Oh! mamma, I thought it was very beautiful, and I felt a strange
sort of feeling come into my mind--a sort of sad happiness: and
sometimes I thought of fairies dancing in the moonlight; and when
I grew older, I used to think a great deal of nonsense, or try to
make poetry, and I called the moon 'Diana,' and 'queen of night'--and
imagined a great deal that I hardly like to tell you, about lovers
walking in moonlight."

"And your feelings are quite changed now?" asked his mother.

"Oh, yes! quite, mamma, it only seems more soothing, because I feel
as if I were alone with God. Does it not seem to you, mamma, as if we
see something of heaven in these lovely nights? I often wonder whether
the bright stars are the many mansions our Saviour speaks of. Oh! mamma,
what an immense thought it is to think of all these bright worlds
constantly moving--either suns themselves with their planets revolving
in ceaseless circles, or else themselves going round some bright sun!"

"And, perhaps," added his mother, "that bright sun carrying all its
attendant worlds round some larger and brighter sun, whose distance
is too great to be calculated. By the aid of powerful telescopes may
be seen in the extremity of our firmament, appearances which those who
have devoted themselves to this glorious science have decided are other
firmaments, each one containing its countless systems. Oh! Louis, God
is infinite--what if these wondrous creations have no limit, but circle
beyond circle spread out to all eternity! We may see the infinity of
our Maker in the smallest leaf. There is nothing lost. What we destroy
does but change its form."

"Mamma, I once remember cutting a bit of paper into halves--that is to
say, I first cut it into halves, and then cut one half into halves and
so on, till my scissors would not divide the little bit. I was very idle
that day, but I remember thinking that if I could get a pair of scissors
small enough I could cut that speck up _forever_--and even if there only
happened to be a grain left, I could not make that nothing."

Louis paused; he was lost in thoughts of wonders that human imagination
cannot grasp: the immensity and mystery of the Almighty's works.
Presently he added, "I cannot imagine it, mamma, my mind seems lost
when I try to think of _forever_. But there is a little hymn you used
to teach me that I cannot help thinking of--I often think of it--it was
the first I ever learned:

    ''Twas God, my child, that made them all
        By His almighty skill;
      He keeps them that they do not fall,
        And rules them by His will.
      How very great that God must be!'"
                              HYMNS FOR INFANT MINDS.

"Do you remember learning that hymn?" said his mother; "I should have
thought it had been too long ago."

"Oh, no, mamma. I remember once very distinctly, you had drawn up the
blind that I might look at the stars, and you leaned over my crib, and
taught me that verse. Mamma, even when I did not love God, I used to
like to hear _you_ tell me Bible stories and hymns sometimes, but I
did not think much of them after they were over; but now, almost every
thing reminds me of something in the Bible; or seems a type or a figure
of some of our heavenly Father's dealings with us."

"That is what the Apostle says," replied Mrs. Mortimer: "'The weapons
of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling
down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing
that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God; and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.' Your imaginations
before were not according to the will of God; you never saw any thing
lovely in Him, but now He has become 'altogether lovely' in your eyes;
every imagination that is contrary to His will is subdued, and all
brought into obedience to Him. And are you not far happier?"

"Indeed I am; oh, how much more happy!" said Louis: "but, dear mamma,
I do not wish you to think that I am always so happy, because that
would not be true. Very often, I seem almost to forget that I am a
child of God, and then, nothing awakens those happy feelings."

"I do not suppose you are always so happy, my dear boy. It is too
often the case with Christians, that instead of drawing their pleasures
from the fountain of life, they imagine that they can make cisterns of
their own; they look to the comforts around them, to the friends God has
given them, for satisfaction; and numberless other things have a tendency
to draw their minds from their heavenly Father, which must inevitably
destroy their peace of mind. But how sad it should ever be so! we have
only ourselves to blame that we are not always happy. A Christian should
be the most joyous creature that breathes."

"Dear mamma, how many pleasant conversations I have had with you!"
said Louis, affectionately kissing his mother's hand, as it lay on his
arm. "They have been some of my sweetest hours. It makes me so happy to
talk of God's love to me."

"An inexhaustible subject," said his mother: "'Then they that feared the
Lord, spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it;
and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared
the Lord, and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the
Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.'

"Our favorite poet has expressed your feelings very beautifully:

    'Oh, days of heaven, and nights of equal praise,
     Serene and peaceful as those heavenly days
     When souls drawn upward, in communion sweet
     Enjoy the stillness of some close retreat;
     Discourse, as if released and safe at home,
     Of dangers past and wonders yet to come;
     And spread the sacred treasures of the breast
     Upon the lap of covenanted rest.'"
                              COWPER'S "Conversation."

"Come, I think I must order you in," said Mr. Mortimer, who came up
with the others, just as these lines were finished. "These nocturnal
perambulations will not improve your health, my love; and it is past
prayer-time already. What a sweet night!"

"I am afraid I have been a little imprudent, but it was a temptation
when the dear boys pressed me so earnestly; our first night at home too,
after so long a separation."

"Mamma's very carefully wrapped up," said Neville.

"And it's so deliciously warm," said Reginald.

"Well, let us not increase the evil," said Mr. Mortimer.

They presently re-entered the drawing-room, and the servants being
summoned, Mr. Mortimer read prayers, and the boys went to bed.

The weather being generally wet for the next fortnight, all the in-door
resources were drawn upon by the young people of the Priory, and time
seldom hung heavily on their hands. I do not mean to say that there was
never a moment wasted; on the contrary, Louis had many lazy fits. It
must be allowed that in holiday time, when no one is expected to do
much regularly, there are great temptations to be idle, and boys are
apt to forget that it is not particularly for parents and teachers'
good that they are exhorted to make the most of their time.

Louis' father and mother gave him many gentle reminders of his failing,
and many were the struggles which he had with his dreamy indolence.
Sometimes, when in accordance with a plan laid down by his mother's
advice, he sat down to study for a stated time, he would open the book,
and, after leaning over it for half an hour, find that he had built
himself a nice little parsonage and school, and established himself
a most laborious and useful minister in the prettiest of villages. At
other times he was a missionary, or an eminent writer, and occasionally
a member of Parliament. Then, at other times, he must draw the plan of a
cottage or church, or put down a few verses; and sometimes, when he heard
the clock strike the hour that summoned him to his studies, he had some
excessively interesting story to finish, or very much preferred some other
occupation.

"Now, Louis, my dear, there is ten o'clock."

"Yes, mamma, I will go directly."

"Directly," in some persons' vocabulary, being an ambiguous term,
another quarter of an hour saw Louis in the same place, quite absorbed.

"Louis, Louis!"

"Yes, mamma." And Louis got up, book and all, and walked across the
room, reading all the way. After knocking his head against the door,
and walking into the library instead of into the school-room, he at
last found himself at the table where his writing-desk stood, without
any further excuse, but there he stood for a minute or two reading,
and then, still continuing, felt for his key, and slipped it along the
front of his desk for some time in the most absent and fruitless manner.
Being obliged, at length, to lay aside the book, he unlocked the desk,
and opening it, laid the dear volume thereon, and read while he carried
his desk to another table. Then a few books were fetched in the same
dawdling way, Louis all the while persuading himself--foolish boy--that
he was merely occupying the time of walking across the room in reading.
A few minutes more, and a chair was dragged along, and Louis seated.
Then he reluctantly laid his book down open beside him and commenced.
It would be tiresome to say how often when the dictionary or something
else had to be referred to, a half page or more of the story was read,
and to remark how equally Louis enjoyed his amusement and profited by
his study. He was finally overwhelmed with confusion when his father,
entering the room, came and looked over his shoulder, making some remark
on the economy of time exhibited in thus ingeniously blending together
his work and play without profiting by either.

"But indeed, papa, I don't know how it is; I made up my mind to be
very industrious, and I was very steady yesterday."

"You put me in mind of a story of a man who made a vow to abstain from
frequenting beer-shops, and who, on the first day of his resolution,
passed several successively, until he came to the last that lay on his
way home, when he stopped and exclaimed, 'Well done, Resolution! I'll
treat you for this,' and walked in."

"Oh, papa!" exclaimed Louis, laughing.

"Don't you think this looks very much like treating resolution?"
said his father, taking up the open book.

"I can't tell how it is, papa," said Louis, looking ashamed. "I assure
you I did not mean to waste time; I cannot help being interested in
stories, and unless I leave off reading them altogether, I don't know
what to do."

"As reading stories is not a duty," said his father, "I would certainly
advise your leaving off reading them if they interfere with what is so
clearly one; but do you not think there is any way of arranging your
affairs so as to prevent a harmless recreation from doing this?"

"I can't depend upon myself, papa. If it were Reginald, he could
throw his book down directly, and do at once what he ought, and so
would Neville, but it is quite a trouble to me sometimes even to
bring my thoughts to bear upon dry studies, particularly mathematics,
which I hate."

"I allow there is some difference of constitution; Reginald is not so
fond of reading as you are, and has naturally more power of turning his
attention from one subject to another; but this power may be acquired,
and if you grow up with this inclination to attend only to those things
for which you take fancies and fits, you will not be a very useful
member of society; for it must always be remembered that consistency
is essential to a useful character, and that without it, though many
may love, few will respect you."

"I wish I could be like Neville; he is like a clock, and never lets any
one thing interfere with another, and he always has time for all he wants
to do, and is never in a hurry and flurry as I am; I think he has nothing
to struggle with."

"Indeed, my dear Louis, he has. Neville has as many faults as the
generality of boys, but you must not forget how much longer he has
begun the good fight than yourself; and the earlier we begin to
struggle against the corruptions of our nature, the easier the task
is; but, Louis, instead of wishing yourself like Neville, or any one
else, think how you may approach most nearly to the high standard of
excellence which is placed before us all."

"But, father, how can I? What must I do?" sighed Louis. "You cannot
tell how difficult it is to keep good resolutions. I fear I shall
never be any better."

"What is the grace of God, my boy?" said Mr. Mortimer, laying his hand
on Louis' shoulder; "tell me, what is the grace of God?"

"God's favor and help," replied Louis.

"And to whom is this promised?"

"To all who will ask for it, father."

"And will you say you can do nothing? Oh, my dear son! God is a God of
all grace, and can give to each of us what we need for every emergency.
Without Him, we can, indeed, do _nothing_, but with _Him_ we may do
_all things_; and blessed be His name for this unspeakable gift by which
He works in man a gradual restoration to more than his primeval condition.
Called with a holy calling, my boy, seek to glorify God in every little
affair of life; take your religion into these unpleasant studies, and
you will find them pleasures."

"But, father, there is one thing I want to say. Often when I pray,
I do not seem able to do things that I wish and ought."

"There may be two reasons for that," replied his father. "The first, that
you are not sufficiently in earnest in your petitions; and next, that you
imagine that your prayers are to do all, without any exertion on your
part--that the mere fact of having asked the help of the Almighty will
insure you a supernatural ease and delight in performing these duties,
forgetting that, while we are in this world we have to fight, to run
steadily forward, not to sit still and expect all to be smooth for us.
We must show diligence unto the end--we must watch as well as pray.
You remember the parable of the withered hand?"

"Yes, father."

"And you remember that our Lord commanded the man to stretch forth his
hand. He might have pleaded that it was powerless; but no, the Lord had
given him power at the moment he desired him to exert it; and just so to
every Christian, God is a God of all grace, and will give to each of us
the peculiar grace we need; but we must not lock it up and imagine it
to be efficacious without exertion on our part."

Louis was silent for some minutes. At length he turned his face up to
his father, and said--

"What would you advise me to do?"

"What do you think yourself would be best?" said his father. "Think
always _after_ earnest prayer for divine guidance, what seems right
to do, what the Bible says, and how it will be to the glory of your
Saviour; then, when you have made up your mind as to the rectitude
of any plan of action, let your movements be prompt and decided,
and do not leave the silly heart any room to suggest its excuses and
modifications. Your judgment may sometimes err, but it is better for
the judgment than the conscience to be in fault. Be assured that if
you thus acknowledge God in all your ways, He will direct your paths."

Louis paused another moment, and said--

"Will you take that book, father, and not let me have it any more to-day,
as it has interfered so much with my study; and I will try to be more
industrious. I will finish my Prometheus and Euclid, and the projection
of my map, and then, perhaps, I shall be ready for the reading."

Mr. Mortimer shook his head as he held up his watch before his
son's eyes--

"Too late, Louis. The time is lost, and something must be missed to-day."

"Then, papa, I will do my Greek, and go to the reading, and then,
instead of amusing myself after lunch, I will do the other things--and
please take that book away with you."

"I had rather leave it," said Mr. Mortimer. "You must learn to act for
yourself and by yourself. You do not expect to be always a boy, and if
these weaknesses are not checked now, you will grow up a weak man, sadly
dependent upon external influences and circumstances. Put the book out
of your way by all means, but let it be your own act. And now I will
leave you to do your work, for I see you have done very little, and
that little very ill."

When his father had left the room, Louis put the book on a shelf, and,
turning his back to it, set himself to work with earnest determination.
He rewrote what he had done so badly, took great pains with the new
edition, and had the satisfaction of receiving his father's approval
of his work in the evening. After lunch his disagreeable Euclid was
completed, and the map finished, and Louis refrained steadily from
looking at the book for the rest of the day; nor did he, though sorely
inclined, open it the next day until he could do so with a safe
conscience.

For the remainder of the holidays Louis adhered to his resolution;
but I do not mean to say he trusted on his own resolution: that he
had found, by painful experience, to be a broken reed. In dependence
upon an Almighty helper, he steadily endeavored from day to day to
perform what was required of him in his station and circumstances,
and found his reward in peace of mind and consciousness of growing
in grace.



CHAPTER XIII.


It seems, by common consent, established among school-boys, that school
and school-masters are necessary evils, only endurable because incurable,
and that, as a matter of course, the return to school must be looked on
as a species of martyrdom, the victims of which are unanimously opposed
to the usual persuasives that school-days are the happiest, and that
they will wish themselves back again before they have left it long.
We will not attempt to account for this perversity of opinion in the
minds of the individuals alluded to, nor have we any intention of
instituting an inquiry as to the probability of the origin of this
repugnance to scholastic life being in the natural opposition of man's
mind to discipline or order, and the tendency therein to dislike all
that is especially arranged and placed before him plainly for his
benefit; but I am sure that most of those among my readers who either
have been, or are school-boys at this moment, will agree with me in
declaring that, returning to school, after the vacation, is a dismal
affair, and that, during the first week or fortnight, certain rebellious
feelings are prominent, which it would be treason to breathe.

The close of the holidays had arrived, and it was decided that Louis
should return to school with his brother, notwithstanding his great
wish to the contrary; but now his principles were firmer, his father
was of opinion that mixing with a large party of boys was more calculated
to supply what was wanting in his character than staying at home with his
mother and sister, and, consequently, a day or two after the reopening
of Ashfield House, Reginald and Louis were placed by their father safely
in a coach that started from Norwich, and, in a rather sorrowful mood,
began their long journey.

I have no adventures to mention; romantic incidents are rarely met
with in a school-boy's life; nor was there any thing remarkable to
relate in the day and a half's travel, beyond the stoppage for meals,
and the changes of vehicle. Louis and his brother generally patronized
the top of the coach, but as they drew near Bristol, Louis grew so sleepy
and tired, from the length of the journey, as well as the imperfect
slumber obtained inside the preceding night, that he preferred changing
his quarters, to the risk of falling from his perch above. It so happened
that the coach was empty inside, and Louis indulged himself by stretching
at full length on one of the seats, and soon lost the recollection of
his troubles in sleep. How long he had slept he could not tell, when the
stopping of the coach disturbed him, and rising lazily, he looked out to
see where they were. Instead, however, of the "White Lion," in Bristol,
or the "Roadside Inn," with the four waiting horses, there was opposite
the window a pretty house, standing in a moderately sized garden, gay
with countless flowers, green grass, and waving trees. It was such
a house as Louis with his romance loved; low and old-fashioned,
with a broad glass door in the centre, on one side of which was a
long casement-window, and on the other, two thick sashes. The house,
extending to some length, displayed among the evergreen shrubs,
delicate roses and honey-suckles, a variety of odd windows, from
the elegant French to the deep old-fashioned bay; and over the front,
almost entirely concealing the rough gray stucco, was a vine, the
young grapes of which fell gracefully over the little bedroom windows,
suggesting the idea, how very pleasant it would be, when the fruit was
ripe, to obtain it at so little trouble. Louis especially noticed the
sheltering trees, that grew to a great height close behind the house,
and the long shadows thrown by the evening sun across the smooth
green lawn.

While he was admiring the little prospect before him, a maid-servant,
assisted by the guard of the coach, appeared at the door, carrying
a black trunk, and behind followed another elderly servant, with a
carpet-bag and basket. It was very evident that another passenger
might be expected, and a few seconds more threw considerable light
on the doubt enveloping the expected personage. The glass door before
mentioned, opened into a low square hall, and at the further end, just
as the carpet-bag reached the garden gate, appeared a group, of which,
till it arrived at the door, little could be discerned but some white
frocks. Presently, however, a pleasant middle-aged gentleman came out,
holding by the hand a tearful-looking little boy, seemingly about nine
or ten years old. The shade of his cap was pulled down very far over
his forehead, but enough of his face was visible to betray some very
showery inclinations. Two little girls, one older and the other younger,
clung round him; the little one was weeping bitterly. When they reached
the gate, the gentleman shook the boy's hand, and gave him in charge
of the guard, to see him safely into a coach to convey him to
Ashfield House.

"No fear of that, sir," replied the guard, opening the coach door,
and putting in the bag and basket. "I daresay these young gentlemen
would let him ride with them: they are for Dr. Wilkinson's."

"Indeed," said the gentleman, looking at Reginald, and then following
the jerk of the guard's thumb at Louis; "perhaps you will share your
fly with my son?" Reginald replied that they would be most happy. The
gentleman thanked him, and turning to his little boy, who was hugging
his youngest sister at the moment, said cheerfully, "Well, Charles,
this is pleasant; here are some school-fellows already. You will have
time to make friends before you reach the doctor's. Come, my boy."

Charles had burst into a torrent of fresh tears, and sobbing his
"Good-byes," got into the coach very quickly.

"Come, come, you mustn't be a baby," said his father, squeezing both
his hands; and he shut the coach door himself.

"Good-bye, Charlie," said the little girls.

"Good-bye, master Charles," said the servants.

"I shall be so glad when Christmas comes," sobbed the little one.

The coach rolled away, amid the adieus and blessings poured on the
disconsolate boy, who watched his home eagerly as long as he could
see it. There they were all--father, sisters, and servants, watching
at the gate till the coach was out of sight. For some time, Louis did
not attempt to console his new companion, who threw himself into the
opposite corner, and burying his face in his handkerchief, sobbed
passionately, without any effort at self-control. At length, the
violence of his grief abating, Louis gently spoke to him, asking if
he had ever been away from home before. At first, Charles was very
reserved, and only answered Louis' questions; but by degrees his sobs
decreased, and from declaring that he could not see the reason of
his being sent away from home, he at last talked freely to Louis
of his father, sisters, and home; and asked Louis of his. Louis was
ready enough to enlarge on these topics, and entered into an enthusiastic
description of home and its pleasures, and before they had reached their
journey's end, they had become very good friends.

Charles had informed Louis that his father was a clergyman, and that
his home was the parsonage house; and enlarged very much on the pleasure
of being taught by his father. There was something in his manner of
expressing himself that often surprised Louis, and made him think that
he must be older than he appeared. Before they reached Bristol, they had
agreed to be "great friends," and to help each other as much as possible.
Charles had evidently been very carefully brought up, and Louis found
that they had many things in common. They decided to be companions on
Sunday, and to be together whenever they could.

Between seven and eight o'clock, the coach stopped in Bristol, where
Reginald joined his brother; and after a few minutes spent in taking
a hasty tea, the three boys were consigned to a suitable conveyance,
and drove on to Dr. Wilkinson's.

Reginald had a mortal aversion to tears in any boy but Louis, and had
consequently taken an antipathy to his new school-fellow, besides caring
very little about so small a boy. He was just civil to him, and his
manner bringing out all Charles's shyness, he became very silent,
and scarcely any thing was said during the ride from Bristol to
Ashfield House.

It would be of little use describing the interesting appearance that
Ashfield House presented when the three young gentlemen arrived there.
Such descriptions are generally skipped; consequently, I leave it to my
reader's imagination to picture how romantic the edifice looked, with
the last faint yellow daylight glowing on its front, and the first few
stars peeping out on the green park.

Our young gentlemen, be assured, noticed nothing but the very dismal
impression that they were once more at school. Inquiring if the doctor
were to be seen, they were informed that he was expected in a few
minutes, as it was nearly prayer-time; and accordingly Reginald
marshalled the way without a word to the school-room. There was no
one in the hall or school-room, but a murmur from the half-open door
of the adjoining class-room drew them in that direction. The room was
nearly full, for besides the first and second classes there were many
belonging to the third class, and one or two others who had either
arrived late, or taken advantage of the little additional license
given the first few days to stay beyond their usual bedtime. It was
too dark to distinguish faces, but the figure of Frank Digby, who had
managed with great pains to climb the mantelpiece, and was delivering
an oration, would have been unmistakable if even he had been silent;--who
but Frank Digby could have had spirit to do it the third night after
the opening of the school?

  "Gentlemen and ladies," began the merry-andrew; "I beg your
  pardon, the Lady Louisa not having arrived, and Miss Maria
  Matheson being in bed, I ought to have omitted that term--but,
  gentlemen, I take this opportunity, gentlemen, the opportunity
  of the eleventh demi-anniversary of our delightful reunion.
  Gentlemen, I am aware that some of you have not been fortunate
  enough to see eleven, but some among us have seen more. I,
  gentlemen, have seen eleven at this auspicious moment. I may
  say it is the proudest moment of my life to be able to stand
  on this mantelpiece and look down on you all, to feel myself
  enrolled a member of such an august corps. I may say I feel
  myself elevated at this present moment, but as, gentlemen,
  there is no saying, in the precarious situation I am now
  placed, how long I may be in a position to contemplate the
  elegance of his majesty and court, I hasten to propose that
  his majesty's health be eaten in plum-cake, and that if I
  fall somebody will catch me.

  "With kind regards to all,
      "Believe me your attached school-fellow,
                                    "FRANK DIGBY."

A little on one side of the fireplace, which was not far from the open
window, Trevannion was leaning back in a chair that he had tipped on
the hind legs till the back touched the wall behind him, his own legs
being stretched out on another poised in like manner on the two side
legs; this elegant and easy attitude being chosen partly for the
convenience of speaking to Salisbury, who was nicely balanced on
the window-sill, eating plum-cake. As the young gentleman concluded
his delectable harangue, he made an involuntary leap from his narrow
pedestal, plunging on the top of Trevannion's legs, and, tumbling over
him, struck with some violence against Salisbury, who was thrown out
of the window by the same concussion that brought his more fastidious
compeer to the ground, chairs and all. There was a burst of merriment
at this unexpected catastrophe, but nothing could exceed the mirth of
the author of the mischief, who sat in unextinguishable laughter on the
floor, to the imminent danger of his person when the enraged sufferers
recovered their legs.

[Illustration: The finale to Digby's speech.]

"Really! Digby," exclaimed Trevannion, angrily, "this foolery is
unbearable. You deserve that we should give you a thrashing; if it
were not beneath me, I most certainly would."

"You--ha! ha!" returned Frank: "ha! ha!--you must stoop to--ha! ha!--you
must stoop to conquer--for, oh! oh! I can't get up. Pardon me, my dear
fellow, but--oh! ha! ha!--you did look so ridiculous."

"Get up, you grinning donkey!" said Salisbury, who, in spite of his
wrath, could not help laughing.

"Trevannion's legs!" exclaimed Frank, in a choking fit of laughter.

"Get up, Digby," exclaimed Trevannion, kicking him; "or I'll shake some
of this nonsense out of you."

"Do be rational, Frank," said Hamilton's voice from a corner; "you are
like a great baby."

How long Frank might have sat on the floor, and what direful events
might have transpired, I cannot pretend to say, for just at this
juncture the further door opened, and Dr. Wilkinson entered, bearing
a candle in his hand. Frank very speedily found his legs, and retired
into a corner to giggle unseen. The light thus suddenly introduced
brought Reginald and his brother into notice, and one or two near the
door recognizing them, pressed forward to speak to them, and before
the doctor had fairly attained his place, Reginald had run the gauntlet
of welcomes through all his school-fellows--and Louis, half-way on the
same errand, was forcibly arrested by something scarcely short of an
embrace from Hamilton, who expressed himself as surprised as pleased
at his appearance, and in whose glistening eyes, as well as the friendly
looks of those around, Louis experienced some relief from the almost
insupportable sense of dulness that had oppressed him ever since his
entrance into the house. But now, the doctor having opened his book,
the young gentlemen were obliged to separate and form into their places.
Hamilton kept Louis by him, and Louis beckoned the sorrowful little boy
who had accompanied him towards them.

"Who is that?" asked the doctor, as the child moved shyly towards Louis.

"A new boy, sir," said one.

"What is your name?" said the doctor. "Come here. Oh! I see, it is
Clifton, is it not?--how do you do?"

Charles had reached Dr. Wilkinson by this time, and, encouraged by
his kind tone, and the sympathizing though slightly quizzical gaze
on his very tearful face, replied to his queries in a low, quick tone.

"When did you come?" asked the doctor.

"He came with us, sir," said Reginald, stepping forward.

"Mortimer here!" said the doctor. "How do you do? and Louis, too,
I presume--where is he? I am very glad to see you again," he added,
as Louis came forward with a blushing but not miserable countenance.
He then spoke to the other new-comers, and then, commanding silence,
read prayers.

The young gentlemen were just retiring, when Dr. Wilkinson desired them
to stay a moment--"I have one request to make, young gentlemen," he said,
gravely; "that is, I particularly wish when Mr. Ferrers returns that no
allusion be made to any thing gone by, and that you treat him as one
worthy to be among you."

The doctor paused as he spoke, and glanced along the row of faces,
many of which looked sullen and cloudy: most of them avoided their
master's eye, and looked intently on the ground. Dr. Wilkinson sought
Hamilton's eye, but Hamilton, though perfectly conscious of the fact,
was very busily engaged in a deep meditation on the texture of Louis'
jacket.

"Hamilton."

"Sir," replied Hamilton, reluctantly raising his eyes.

"I look to you, as the head of the school, to set the example. I am
grieved to see so little Christian spirit among you. Why should you
feel more aggrieved than the injured party, who has, I am sure,
heartily forgiven all, and will wish no further notice to be taken
of what has passed?"

Louis looked up acquiescently, and slipped his hand into Hamilton's.
A slight pressure was returned, and Hamilton, bowing to the doctor,
led the way out of the room.

On the way up stairs many rebellious comments were made on the
doctor's speech, and some invoked tremendous penalties on themselves
if they had any thing to do with him or any like him. Hamilton was
quite silent, neither checking nor exciting the malcontents. He put
his hand into Louis' arm, and, walking up stairs with him, wished him
a warm good-night, and marched off to his own apartment.

This evening, as there were one or two new-comers, an usher was present
in the dormitory to insure the orderly appropriation of the several
couches; and, to Louis' great satisfaction, he was able to get quietly
into bed--where, feeling very dull and sad, he covered his head over
and unconsciously performed a crying duet with his new friend.

Hardly had the usher departed than Frank Digby popped his head
out of bed:

"I don't know," said he, "whether any one expects a feast to-night,
from a few unlucky remarks which fell from me this morning; if so,
gentlemen, I wish immediately to dispel the pleasing delusion,
assuring you of the melancholy fact, that my golden pippins have
fallen victims to Gruffy's rapacity."

"Oh, what a shame!" exclaimed one.

"What's that, Frank?" said Reginald.

"How did Gruffy get hold of them?" asked Meredith: "I thought you
were more than her match."

"Why, the fact is, her olfactory nerves becoming strongly excited,
she insisted upon having a search, and after snuffing about, she
came near my hiding-place, and found the little black portmanteau:

"'Upon my word, Mr. Digby,' said she, 'I am surprised at your
dirtiness--putting apples under your pillow!' and insisted on
having the key or the apples. I disclaimed all ideas of apples,
but quite failed in persuading her that I had Russian leather-covered
books inside, that were placed there to enable me to pursue my studies
at the first dawn of day. You should have heard her: 'Did I suppose
she was an idiot, and couldn't smell apples!' and oh--nobody knows
how much more. But I should have carried my point if ill-luck hadn't
brought Fudge in the way, and the harpy carried off my treasures."

Frank paused, and then added, in a tone that set every one laughing,
"It's a pity she can't be transported into heathen mythology; she'd
have made an excellent dragon. Hercules would never have been so
successful if she'd been that of Hesperia. I'll be even with her yet;
but there's something very forlorn in one's troubles beginning directly."

The next morning brought with it the stern reality of school. Louis
was dreaming that he was in Dashwood with Charles Clifton, when the
bell-man came into the breakfast-room, crying out that the golden
pippins belonging to his attached school-fellow, Frank Digby, were
lost, stolen, or strayed; and that he would be even with any who
should find them, and bring them to the Hesperides; and he was in
the act of proving, more to his own satisfaction than to that of the
bell-man, that the books in the library were what he wanted, when
Reginald discovered them,--i.e., the golden apples,--peeping from
under his pillow, and shook him violently for his deceit.

"Louis, Louis!--the bell, the bell."

He started up in great alarm, and discovered that he was sitting on
his bed at school, listening to the sonorous clanging of the bell below.

Groans, shouts, and sleepy exclamations reverberated round him. Reginald,
rather more accustomed to good early habits at home than some of his
room-fellows, was busy rousing those who either did not, or pretended
not to hear the summons. Among the latter was our friend Frank Digby,
who stoutly resisted being awakened, and when obliged to yield to the
determined efforts of his cousin, nearly overwhelmed him with a species
of abuse.

"That bell's a complete bugbear," he groaned. "It ought to be indicted
for a nuisance, waking people up o' mornings when they ought to be in
the arms of Morpheus--I've a great mind to lie still. Half an hour's
sleep is worth sixpence."

"It's much better laid out with 'Maister,' Frank," suggested Meredith.

"And then Fudge will be so black about it," said Reginald.
"Come, up with you, Frank."

"As for Fudge," said Frank, "I wouldn't give you twopence for him,
nor his black looks neither. But you may be sure he'll be amiable
enough this morning. He has been remarkably affectionate these few
mornings--hasn't he, Meredith?"

"_To be sure_," replied the young gentleman addressed: "when did you
know a master otherwise the first week? They all know there's danger
of our cutting their acquaintance in a summary manner, and take good
care to be bland enough till we're tamed down."

"For my part," said Frank, "I have been longing for an opportunity of
putting Fudge in a passion. If only he or Danby would box my ears for
something, that I might fling a book at his head, and have a legitimate
excuse for taking myself off--but, alas! they are all so dreadfully
amiable, except old Garthorpe, and he's beneath all consideration."

Frank continued in this strain for some minutes, working himself into
a more rebellious humor, stimulated by those among his companions who
admired this demonstration of spirit. Confidentially I may remark,
that though running away seems to be the desideratum of a discontented
school-boy, it is far more interesting in theory than practice, and I
doubt much whether any malcontent who availed himself of this as his
only refuge from the miserable fate awaiting him in the dungeon to
which he was consigned, ever considered in the end that his condition
had been materially improved. Spangled canopies and soft turf couches
do well to read of, but stiff limbs and anxious hearts are sterner
realities, to say nothing of sundry woes inflicted on the culprit when
discovered. But I am enlarging and must return from my digression.

Dr. Wilkinson was engaged the greater part of the morning in arranging
the different classes and examining his new pupils. Great surprise was
felt among those interested, in the news that Charles Clifton was to
take his place in the second class. Even the doctor paused once or twice
in his examination, and looked earnestly on the great forehead and small
pale face of the child.

"Why, how old are you?" said he, at length.

"Twelve, sir," replied Charles, gravely.

"Very little of your age. Have you ever been at school before?"

Charles replied in the negative, and after another momentary scrutiny,
Dr. Wilkinson asked a few concluding questions, and then unhesitatingly
declared him a member of the second class.

Louis had, this half-year, a far better chance of distinguishing himself
than before, as his brother and Meredith, with one or two others, had
mounted into the first class, and John Salisbury had not returned. He
was, however, not a little surprised when Hamilton informed him that
he would have enough to do to keep pace with his new friend, whom he
had looked upon as quite one of the lower school.



CHAPTER XIV.


The first long dreary week had passed: quicker, however, in its
peaceable monotony than many a gayer time has been known to do,
and the young gentlemen of Ashfield House were beginning to settle
down soberly and rationally to their inevitable fate. Louis' position
was so altered this half-year, that he hardly understood himself the
universal affection and consideration with which he was treated. He
was indubitably a favorite with the doctor, but no one was jealous,
for he bore his honors very meekly, and was always willing to share
his favors with others, neither encroaching on nor abusing the kindness
displayed towards him by his master, who seemed, in common with his
pupils, to be exceedingly desirous of obliterating all remembrance of
the misunderstanding of the last half-year. But the doctor's affection
was much more sparingly exhibited than Hamilton's, who seemed at times
to forget every thing for Louis. He was now made the companion of the
seniors--he had free admission into all their parties. Hamilton seemed
unable to walk into Bristol unless Louis were allowed to accompany him.
Louis' place in the evening was now by Hamilton, who did his utmost
to make him steady, and to prevent him from yielding the first place to
Clifton, who very soon proved himself to be a boy of considerable genius,
united with much steadiness of purpose, and who had, evidently, been
very carefully educated. One evening about this time, when most of the
class-room party were very busy, under the orderly supervision of Messrs.
Hamilton and Trevannion, the door was quietly opened and Ferrers entered
with that doubtful air that expected an unfavorable reception. When I
speak of business and quietude at Ashfield House it must, of course,
be understood as comparative, for the quietest evening in that renowned
academy would have furnished noise enough to have distracted half the
quiet parlors in the kingdom--and on this particular evening there was
quite enough to cover the bashful entrance of the former bully. Hamilton
was writing, and doubly engaged in keeping Louis from listening to an
interesting history, delivered by Salisbury, of a new boy who had
arrived that half-year from a neighboring school. The boy in question
was a cunning dunce, who had already discovered Louis' failing, and
having partaken of the assistance Louis supplied as liberally as
allowed, had come more especially under the ken of the seniors, and
Hamilton had been administering a reproof to Louis for helping Casson
before getting his own lessons ready.

Ferrers had nearly reached the upper end of the table before any one
was aware of his vicinity, when Trevannion, looking up from his writing
to dip his pen anew in the ink, caught sight of him, recognizing him
so suddenly that even his equanimity was almost surprised into a start.
He colored slightly, and coldly acknowledging his presence by a stiff
bow and a muttered "How do you do," returned to his work, not, however,
before his movement had attracted the attention of one or two others.
The intimation of his presence was conveyed almost talismanically
round the room, and a silence ensued while the young gentlemen
looked at one another for an example. These unfriendly symptoms
added considerably to Ferrers' embarrassment. Pale with anxiety,
he affected to notice nothing, and looked for a place at one of the
tables where he might lay the books he had brought in with him.
The silence, however, had made Hamilton now very conscious of what,
till this moment, he had been in blissful ignorance--that his voice
was raised to nearly a shouting pitch to make his admonitions
sufficiently impressive to his protege--and the sonorous tones
of his voice, delivering an emphatic oration on weakness and
perseverance contrasted, were so remarkable that the attention
was a little drawn from Ferrers by this unusual phenomenon.

"What a burst of eloquence!" exclaimed Frank, who, on the first sound
of the kingly voice, had begun to attitudinize; while Trevannion gazed
on his friend with a quiet, gentlemanly air of inquiry, that was not to
be put out of countenance by any circumstance how ludicrous soever,
"His majesty's in an oratorical vein to-night. Such a flow of graceful
language, earnest, mellifluous persuasives dropping like sugar-plums
from his lips!"

"Three cheers for his majesty's speech," cried Salisbury.

These comments were hailed by a hearty laugh, mingled with clapping of
hands, and an effort on the part of a few to raise a cheer. Hamilton
joined in the laugh, though he had been so intent upon his lecture that
at first he hardly comprehended the joke.

"Your majesty's been studying rhetoric since we had the pleasure of
a speech," remarked Reginald, when a little lull had succeeded to the
uproarious mirth. "Mercury himself couldn't have done better."

"Considering that the speeches of Edward the Great usually savor
of Spartan brevity," said Smith, "we couldn't have hoped for such
a masterpiece."

"You don't understand his most gracious majesty," said Frank; "depend
upon it he's a veritable cameleon."

At this juncture, Louis, whose eyes had a sad habit of wandering
when they should be otherwise employed, caught sight of Ferrers,
and, starting up, he welcomed him with the utmost heartiness.

Hamilton looked round and colored furiously, but before Ferrers had
time to make any answers to Louis' rapid questions, he rose, and,
stepping forward, held out his hand--

"How are you, Ferrers?" he said, in a cheerful tone, "I neither saw
nor heard you come in just now. You have not been here long, have you?"

Ferrers grasped Hamilton's hand and looked in his face, astonished and
overcome with gratitude for this unexpected welcome. The silence of the
few minutes before was resumed, and every eye was riveted on Hamilton,
who, perceiving from the tight grasp on his hand and the crimsoned
countenance of Ferrers, his utter inability to speak, and being anxious
to remove the insupportable feeling of awkwardness under which he felt
sure he labored, continued, without waiting for an answer--

"You are very late this half. We have expected you every day."

He then sat down and went on telling Ferrers about the new-comers,
and the present condition of the first class, asking him some questions
about his journey, and all so quickly and cleverly as neither to appear
forced, nor to oblige Ferrers to speak more than he chose. While Hamilton
spoke he only now and then glanced at him from his work, which he had
apparently resumed as soon as he sat down.

"His majesty's taken Fudge's hint," said Frank, in a low,
discontented tone.

"Hamilton can, of course, do as he likes, but I won't," said another,
with a nod of determination. "We're not obliged to follow his lead."

"Trevannion won't, you'll see," muttered Peters.

"Be kind enough to lend me your lexicon, Salisbury," said Trevannion,
who had, since Hamilton's notice of Ferrers, assumed an air of more
than ordinary dignity, and now reached across Ferrers for the book,
as if there were no one there. Ferrers made an effort to assist in
the transition of the thick volume, but all his politeness obtained
was a haughty, cold stare, and a determined rejection of assistance.
Louis was sure that Hamilton observed this action, from the expression
of his face, but he made no remark, and continued to talk to Ferrers
a little longer, when he laughingly pleaded his avocations as an excuse
for being silent; but Louis was now disengaged, and Reginald had happily
followed Hamilton's example, for though at first inclined to be on
Trevannion's side, he could not help pitying his evident distress,
and, touched by the emotion he exhibited, he exerted himself to smooth
all down. Had all been as cold and repulsive as Trevannion and his
advocates, Ferrers would have been dogged and proud, but now the sense
of gratitude and humility was predominant, and at last so overpowered
him, that he was glad to get away in the playground by himself. As he
closed the door, the buz was resumed, and an attack was made on Hamilton
by those who had determinedly held back.

"Your royal clemency is most praiseworthy, most magnanimous Edward,"
said Frank Digby.

"Worthy of you, Hamilton," said Trevannion, sneeringly. "Ferrers is
a fit companion and associate for gentlemen."

"My manners not bearing any comparison with yours," replied Hamilton,
coolly, "I am not so chary of contamination."

"That's a hit at your slip just now, Trevannion," said Smith.
"How could you commit such a what-do-you-call it? gooch--gaucherie."

"You had better take lessons of the old woman over the way,"
said Salisbury; "she only charges twopence _extra for them as
learns manners_."

"A good suggestion," said Trevannion, laughing; "will you pay for me,
Hamilton?"

"Willingly," replied Hamilton, in a low, deep tone, "if, on inquiry,
I find her good manners are the result of good feeling."

"I am excessively indebted to you," replied Trevannion, coloring;
"and feel exceedingly honored by the solicitude of Ferrers' friend."

"Just as you choose to feel it, Trevannion," said Hamilton; "but I had
better speak my mind, gentlemen,--I do not think we have, as a body,
remembered the doctor's injunction."

"How could we?" "Is it likely?" "No, indeed." "I dare say!" "Very fine!"
sounded on all sides.

"Hear me to the end," said Hamilton; "I have not much to say."

"Two speeches in one night!" said Jones. "Never was such condescension."

Hamilton took no notice of the jeering remarks round him, but having
obtained a little silence, continued--

"We have made enough of this business. It is cruel now to carry it on
further. I confess myself to have felt as much repugnance as any one
could feel, to renewing any thing beyond the barest possible intercourse
with Ferrers; but let us consider, first, that it becomes us, while
we are Dr. Wilkinson's pupils, to pay some respect to his wishes,
whether they coincide with our feelings or not; and next, whether it
is charitable to shut a school-fellow out of a chance of reformation.
Let us put ourselves in his place."

"A very desirable position; rather too much for imagination,"
remarked Trevannion.

"It is a miserable position," said Hamilton; "therefore we should do
well to endeavor to help him out of it. I have no doubt if we had been
once in so painful a situation, we should not have considered ourselves
as hopeless or irremediable characters--nor is he; he is quite overcome
to-night because all have not been quite such savages as he expected."

"As he would have been. He wouldn't have been merciful!"
exclaimed Meredith.

"That's nothing to the purpose," said Hamilton. "We have only to act
rightly ourselves. Give him a chance. If he forfeit it by a similar
offence, I will not say another word for him."

There was a dead silence when Hamilton had finished. His appeal had
the more effect, that he was usually too indolent to trouble himself
much about what did not immediately concern him or his, but took all
as he found it.

"In giving what you call a chance, Hamilton," said Trevannion, who
alone, in the indecision evident, remained entirely unmoved; "in giving
what you call a chance, you forget that we implicate ourselves. As
honorable individuals, as gentlemen, we cannot admit to fellowship one
who has so degraded himself. To be 'hail-fellow-well-met' with him,
were to lower ourselves. We do not prevent his improving himself. When
he has done so, let us talk of receiving him among us again. In my
opinion, Dr. Wilkinson's allowing him to return is as much, and a great
deal more than he could expect."

"I shall say nothing more," said Hamilton. "I do not often make
a request."

"I know what Louis would say," said Salisbury, who had been watching
Louis' earnest, gratified gaze on Hamilton for the last few minutes;
"I think we ought to be guided by him in this matter."

"I! oh, I wish just what Hamilton has said--you know I wished it
long ago."

"What Louis says shall be the law," said Jones. "We won't refuse him
any thing."

"Especially in this matter," said Salisbury. "He's a brick, and so is
his majesty, after all. My best endeavors for your side, Louis."

"And mine," said Jones.

"I'll outwardly forgive the culprit, at any rate," said Frank. Several
others expressed their desire to abide by the same resolution; Hamilton
looked his satisfaction, Trevannion sulkily recommenced his work, and
Louis stole out of the room to find Casson, that he might finish telling
him his lesson, according to promise. When Dr. Wilkinson arrived, he
narrowly watched the manners of his pupils towards Ferrers, and was
satisfied with his scrutiny, though he was, of course, unconscious of
the means by which the civility shown had been procured. It is to be
hoped that we have not gone so far in the delineation of Dr. Wilkinson's
school, without discovering that the spirit of honor and confidence was
generally high among the young gentlemen, and, consequently, having
promised to be friendly to Ferrers, each individual, in duty bound, did
his utmost to fulfil that promise, and in a little while the stiffness
attendant on the effort wore off, and Ferrers was, in appearance, in
precisely the same position as before, to the great satisfaction of the
doctor, who was much pleased with his pupils' conduct on the occasion.



CHAPTER XV.


"Where is Louis Mortimer?" asked Hamilton, the next Saturday afternoon,
about a quarter of an hour after dinner. "Does any one know where
Louis Mortimer is?"

"Here I am, Hamilton, _pret a vous servir_, as Monsieur Gregoire would
say!" cried Louis, starting from behind the school-room door.

"Are you engaged this afternoon?"

"Never, when you want me!" exclaimed Louis.

Hamilton looked gratified, but checked the expression as soon as he
was aware of it.

"That is not right, Louis; I never wish, and never ought, to be an
excuse for breaking an engagement."

"But suppose I make your possible requirements a condition of my
engagements," said Louis, archly; "you have no objection to that,
have you?"

"Only I cannot imagine such a case."

"Such is the case, however, this afternoon. I had the vanity to hope you
would let me walk with you, and so only engaged myself conditionally."

"To whom were you engaged in default of my sufferance?"

"I was going to stay with Casson," replied Louis, hesitatingly. "He has
a cold and headache, and he asked me if I would stay with him in the
class-room, where he is obliged to stay while we are out."

"Casson!" said Hamilton, contemptuously; "you were not talking to him
just now?"

"No; I was only listening to Ferrers. He was telling me about a wager
Frank had just laid with Salisbury."

"How is it you prefer Casson to your friend Clifton?"

"Oh, Hamilton, I don't much like Casson; but he asked me, poor fellow.
Charlie's engaged to West--our days are Sunday, Monday, and Thursday."

"Which of you is first now?"

"Charles is, to-day," said Louis; "he is so very clever, Hamilton."

"I know he is; but you are older, and not a dunce, if you were not idle,
Louis. Louis, I shall repudiate you, if you don't get past him."

"That would be a terrible fate," said Louis, slipping his hand into
Hamilton's. "I cannot tell you how I should miss your kind face and
help. You have been such a very kind friend to me: but I have not been
so very idle, Hamilton."

"Yes, you have," returned Hamilton; "I am vexed with you, Louis. If I
did not watch over you as I do, you would be as bad as you were last
half. Don't tell me you can't keep before Clifton if you choose."

Louis looked gravely in Hamilton's face, and put his other hand on that
he held. Hamilton drew his own quickly away.

"Lady Louisa," he said, "these affectionate demonstrations may do well
enough for us alone, but keep them for private service, and don't let us
play _Damon_ and _Pythia_ in this touching manner, to so large an
audience. It partakes slightly of the absurd."

Louis colored, and seemed a little hurt; but he replied, "I am afraid
I am very girlish sometimes."

"Incontrovertibly," said Hamilton, kindly laying his hand heavily on
Louis' shoulder. "But we have no desire that any one should laugh at
you but our royal self."

"Are we going to the downs?" asked Louis.

Before Hamilton could answer, Frank Digby, one of the large audience
alluded to, came up. "Of course," he replied; "Hamilton is one of our
party."

"One of your party?" asked Hamilton.

"Your majesty's oblivious of the fact," said Frank, "that among the
many offices, honorary and distinctive, held by your most gracious
self, the presidency of the 'Ashfield Cricket Club' is not altogether
one of the most insignificant."

"We will thank our faithful amanuensis to become our deputy this
afternoon," said Hamilton; "having a great desire to refresh ourself
with a quiet discourse on the beauties of Nature."

"No cricket this afternoon, Hamilton!" cried Louis; "I shall be so
much disappointed if you go!"

"_No cricket!_" exclaimed Frank: "we will enter into a conspiracy, and
dethrone Edward, if he refuses to come _instanter_."

"Dethrone me by all means, this afternoon," said Hamilton; "my deposition
will save me a great deal of trouble. I am only afraid that my freedom
from state affairs would be of short duration; my subjects appear to be
able to do so little without me."

"Hear him!" exclaimed Jones, laughing; "hear king Log!"

"No favoritism!" cried Smith; "I bar all partiality. We'll treat you in
the Gaveston fashion, Louis, if you don't persuade your master to accede
to our reasonable demands."

"That would be treason against my own comforts," said Louis, laughing,
and struggling unsuccessfully to rise from the ground, where he had been
playfully thrown by Salisbury. "To the rescue! your majesty; I cry help!"

"To the rescue!" shouted Reginald, pouncing suddenly upon Salisbury, and
diverting his attention from Louis who would have recovered his feet, but
for the intervention of one or two of the party.

"Your majesty perceives," said Frank, "that a rebellion is already
broken out. A word from you may compose all."

"I have engaged to walk with Louis Mortimer, and I declare I will not
stir anywhere without him," said Hamilton.

"We cannot do without you, Hamilton," said Trevannion, who had just
joined the council. "You are engaged for all the meetings."

"Which meetings have no right to be convened without the concurrence
of the president;--eh, Mr. Secretary?" rejoined Hamilton.

"Of course you can please yourself," said Trevannion, proudly.

"Let Louis get up, Jones," said Hamilton.

"Does your majesty concede, or not?" said Jones, who was sitting
upon Louis.

"I will answer when you let him get up."

Jones suffered Louis to rise, breathless and hot with his laughing
exertions to free himself from durance vile.

"I will come, on condition that Louis comes too."

"Certainly," said Salisbury.

"And join our game, mind," said Hamilton.

"Oh!" exclaimed Smith; "that's decidedly another affair. You can't play,
Sir Piers, can you?"

"He can learn," said Hamilton, who was perfectly aware of his ignorance.

"I've not the smallest objection," said Jones, "as I'm on the opposition
side."

"Nor I," cried Salisbury; "though I should be a loser, as is probable."

"Really, Hamilton," exclaimed Trevannion, sulkily, "it's impossible!
He'll only be in the way. I never saw such a fuss about a boy; it's
quite absurd. If you want him, let him look on."

"I don't like cricket," said Louis.

"Humbug!" exclaimed Salisbury.

"I shall be in the way, as Trevannion says," continued Louis; "I am
sure I shall never learn."

"'_Patientia et perseverantia omnia vincunt_,'" remarked Frank;
"which may be freely translated in three ways:

    'If a weary task you find it,
     Persevere, and never mind it;'

or,

    'Never say die;'

or, thirdly,

    'If at first you don't succeed,--try, try again,'"

"Louisa, I am ashamed for you," said Hamilton; "and insist
on the exhibition of a more becoming spirit."

"That's right, Hamilton," cried Reginald; "make him learn."

Louis pleaded as much as he dared, in dread of a few thumps,
friendly in intent, but vigorous in execution, from Salisbury,
and a second shaking from Hamilton, but all in vain, and they
sallied forth. Trevannion fastened on Hamilton, and grumbled
ineffectual remonstrances till they reached a convenient spot
for their game. Here, under the active supervision of Hamilton,
Salisbury, and Reginald, Louis was duly initiated; and after a
couple of hours' play they returned home, Louis being in some
doubt as to whether his fingers were not all broken by the
concussion of a cricket-ball, but otherwise more favorably
disposed towards the game than heretofore. He was, likewise,
not a little gratified by the evident interest most of the
players took in his progress. Hamilton had entirely devoted
himself to his instruction, encouraged him when he made an
effort, and laughed at his cowardliness, and Salisbury had
been scarcely less kind.

As they entered the playground, Salisbury held up a silver
pencil-case to Frank:

"Remember, Frank," said he, warningly.

"Do you think I've forgotten?" said Frank; "my memory's not quite
so treacherous, Mr. Salisbury."

"What's that, Salisbury?" said Jones.

"Only my wager."

"Wager!" repeated Hamilton. "What absurdity is Frank about to
perpetrate now?"

"He is going to make Casson swallow some medicine of his own
concoction. My pencil-case against his purse, contents and all,
he isn't able to do it. Casson's too sharp."

"I am surprised," said Hamilton, "that Frank is not above playing
tricks on that low boy. I thought you had had enough of it, Frank."

Frank laughed;--"No, he has foiled me regularly twice lately, and
I am determined to pay him off for shamming this afternoon."

"I think it is real," said Louis.

"Then he has all the more need of medicine," said Frank; "and if he
supposes it, my physic will do him as much good as any one else's."

"You'll certainly get yourself into some serious scrape some day
with these practical jokes, Frank," said Hamilton. "It is a most
ungentlemanly propensity."

"Hear, hear," said Reginald.

"What's that? Who goes there?" said Frank, directing the attention
of the company to the figure of a tall woman neatly dressed in black
silk, with an old-fashioned bonnet of the coal-scuttle species, who
was crossing from the house to the playground at the moment; the lady
in question being no other than the housekeeper, clothes-mender, &c.,
to Dr. Wilkinson introduced by Mr. Frank Digby as Gruffy, more properly
rejoicing in the name of Mrs. Guppy.

"It's Gruffy, isn't it? Where is she going, I wonder."

Without waiting for an answer, Frank flew round the house, and
disappeared in the forbidden regions of the kitchen.

"What is he after?" said Meredith. "I suspect we shall have some
fun to-night."

"I do wish Frank wouldn't be so fond of such nonsense," said Hamilton,
angrily. "Come, Louis, and take a turn till the tea-bell rings."

They had taken two or three turns up and down in front of the
school-room, when the bell rang, and Frank Digby came back full
of glee.

"I've done it, Salisbury," he cried, as he threw his hat in the
air. "I've done it. I shall kill two birds with one stone. I'm sure
to win; it's all settled; only I must be allowed to put the school-room
clock forward half an hour."

"That wasn't in the bargain," said Salisbury.

"It wasn't out of it, at any rate," said Frank.

"It's all fair," said several voices; "he may do it which way
he pleases."

"Remember, _tace_," said Frank. "_Tace_ is the candle that
lights Casson to bed to-night."

"I promise nothing, Frank," said Hamilton.

"Nevertheless you'll keep it," said Frank, laughing.

When tea was over, Frank disappeared rather mysteriously.

Salisbury had just begun to make use of one of the pile of books he had
brought to the table in the class-room, when a notification was brought
to him from the school-room, that Mrs. Guppy wanted to speak to him.

"Bother take her!" he exclaimed. "Why can't she come and speak to me?
Interrupting a fellow at his work! Don't take my place; I shall be back
presently."

Some time, however, elapsed, and no Salisbury. Now and then a few
wonderments were expressed as to how Frank's wager would be won, and
as to what Mrs. Guppy could want with Salisbury.

"Where is Frank, I wonder?" said one. "Just see, Peters, if Casson's
gone yet."

Peters departed, and returned with the news that Casson had gone to bed
a little while before.

"The farce has begun, I suspect," said Meredith. "It's more than half
an hour since Salisbury went,--and depend upon it, wherever he is,
there is Frank."

At this moment Salisbury rushed into the room, and throwing himself
in a sitting posture on the floor, with his back against the wall as
if completely exhausted, laughed on without uttering a word, till his
mirth became so infectious, that nearly all the room joined him.

"Well, Salisbury!" "Well, Salisbury!" "What is it?" "Tell us." "Have
done laughing, do, you wretch, you merry-andrew." "Do be sensible."

"Sensible!" groaned Salisbury, laying his head against a form;
"oh, hold me, somebody--I'm quite knocked up with laughing. It's
enough to make a fellow insensible for the rest of his life."

"Well, what is it, madcap?" said Reginald, jumping up from his seat,
and approaching him in a threatening attitude.

"Frank Digby!" said Salisbury, going off into another paroxysm
of laughter.

"Shake him into a little sense, Mortimer," said Jones.

"Come, Salisbury, what is it?" said several more, coming up to him.

Salisbury sat upright and wiped his eyes.

"It was the clearest case of stabbing a man with his own sword I ever
saw. I don't know whether I shall ever get it out for laughing, but
I'll try."

Louis looked up at Hamilton, rather anxious to get nearer to Salisbury,
but Hamilton wrote on as if determined neither to let Louis move, nor
to pay any attention himself, and Louis dared not ask.

"Well, you know, Mrs. Guppy sent for me. I went off in a beautiful humor,
as you may imagine, and found her ladyship in a great dressing-gown,
false front, and spectacles, surrounded by little boys in various stages
of Saturday night's going to bed, tucking up Casson very comfortably.

"'Oh, Mr. Salisbury,' said she, 'I'll speak with you presently,--will
you be so good as to wait there a minute?'

"Well, I thought she looked very odd, but she spoke just the same
as ever; and being very cross, I said, 'I am in a hurry; perhaps
when you've done you'll call on me in the study,' Whereupon her
ladyship comes straight out of the room, and says on the landing,
in Frank Digby's voice, 'Know me by this token, _I am mixing a
black draught by the light of a Latin candle_.'"

Salisbury burst out into a fresh fit of laughter, in which he was
joined by all present except Hamilton, who steadily pursued his work
with an unmoved countenance.

"Well, you may imagine," said Salisbury, when he had recovered himself,
"I wasn't in a hurry then. I came back and waited behind the door very
patiently. You never saw any thing so exact--every motion and tone. He
had pulled the curls over his eyes, and tied up his face with a great
handkerchief over the cap, as Gruffy has been doing lately when she
had the face-ache, and he went about among the little chaps in such
a motherly, bustling way, it was quite affecting. Sally, who helped
him, hadn't the least idea it wasn't Gruffy. However, the best of it
is to come," said Salisbury, pausing a moment to recover the mirth
which the recollection produced:--"He was stirring up a concoction
of cold tea, ink and water, slate-pencil dust, sugar, mustard, and
salt, when I thought" (Salisbury's voice trembled violently) "that I
heard a step I ought to know, and I had hardly time to get completely
behind the door when it was widely opened, and in walked the doctor!"

A burst of uproarious mirth drowned the voice of the speaker. There
was a broad smile on Hamilton's face, though he did not raise his head.
As soon as Salisbury could speak, he continued:

"'Oh!' said I to myself, 'it's all up with you, Mr. Frank,' and I
felt a little desirous of concealing my small proportions as much
as might be. What Frank might feel I can't say, but he seemed to
be very busy, and, as he turned round to the doctor, put up his
handkerchief to his face.

"'Does your face ache, Mrs. Guppy?' says the doctor; and--imagine the
impudence of the boy--he answered, it was a little troublesome. 'How
is Clarke this evening?--I hear he has been asleep this afternoon.'
I imagine Frank has as much idea of the identity of Clarke as I have--I
don't even know who he is, much less that he was ill--but he answered
just as Gruffy would do, with her handkerchief up to her mouth, 'Rather
better, sir, I think--he was asleep when I saw him last, and I didn't
disturb him.' 'Hem,' said the doctor, 'and who's this?'"

The audience was here so convulsed with laughter that Salisbury could
not proceed; Louis could not help joining the laugh, though rather
checked by the immovable gravity of Hamilton's countenance.

"Really, Hamilton," he said, "I wonder how Frank could tell such
stories."

"He doesn't think them so," said Hamilton, abruptly.

"Well, Salisbury!" "Well, Salisbury!" exclaimed several impatient
voices. "The impudence of the fellow." "How will he ever get out
of it?" "Get on, Salisbury." "The idea of joking with the doctor."
"Go on, Salisbury." "What a capital fellow he'd make for one of those
escaping heroes in romances--he'd never stay to have his head cut off."

"Well, and the doctor says, 'Who's this, Mrs. Guppy? Casson? How--what's
the matter with you? How long have you been here?' 'Just come to bed,
sir,' says Casson; and then the doctor makes a few inquiries about
his terrible headache, et cetera; and Mrs. Guppy had a twinge of the
toothache, and could only let the doctor know by little and little how
she had thought it better to put him to bed.

"'And that is medicine for him?'

"The doctor looked very suspiciously at the cup, I fancy, for his tone
was rather short and sulky. Frank seemed a little daunted, but he soon
got up his spirits again, and, stirring up the mess, was just going to
give it to Casson, when, lo! another strange footfall was heard; doctor
turned round (I was in a state of fright, I assure you, lest he should
discover me) and in marched the real Simon Pure! It was a picture--oh!
if I had been an artist:--there stood Gruffy, in her best black silk,
looking more puzzled than angry; Frank--I couldn't see what he looked
like, but I'll suppose it, as he says--and doctor turning from one
to the other with a face as red as a turkey-cock, and looking so
magnificent!"

[Illustration: The counterfeit Mrs. Guppy.]

"Poor Frank!" exclaimed several laughing voices.

"Well, at last Fudge found words, and in such a tone, exclaimed,
'MRS. GUPPY! who is THIS, then?' Then she stormed out; 'Ay, sir, who
is it, indeed? perhaps you will inquire.' I didn't see what followed,
for my range of vision was rather circumscribed--but I imagine that
doctor pulled off part of Frank's disguise, for the next words I heard
were, '_Digby_, this is _intolerable_!' uttered in the doctor's most
magnificent anger--'What is the meaning of this?' Frank said something
about _a wager_ and _a little fun, meaning no harm_, et cetera; and
Fudge gave him such a lecture, finishing off by declaring, that 'if he
persisted in perpetrating such senseless follies he should find some
other place to do so in than his house.' All the little boys were
laughing, but doctor stopped them all with a thundering 'SILENCE!' and
then he asked what Frank had in that cup. 'Cold tea, sir,' said Digby,
quite meekly. 'And what's this at the bottom?' 'Sugar, sir,' I saw the
doctor's face--it was not one to be trifled with, but there seemed
a sort of grim smile there, too, when he gave the cup to Frank and
insisted upon his drinking it all up; and Digby did it, too--he dared
not refuse."

Another peal of laughter rang through the room, in which Hamilton
joined heartily.

"Then," continued Salisbury, "doctor said he hoped he would feel
a little better for his dose--and, becoming as grave as before, he
desired he would return Mrs. Guppy's things, and beg her pardon for
his impertinence."

"He didn't do so, surely?" said Jones.

"He did, though," replied Salisbury; "and I wouldn't have been him if
he'd been obstinate; but he added--I wondered how even _he_ dared--_I've
saved you a little trouble, ma'am, there are six of them in bed_."

"Oh! oh! disgraceful!" exclaimed Hamilton.

"What did Fudge say?" asked Smith.

"'THIS TO MY FACE, SIR!' and then, what he was going to do I don't know,
but Frank was quite frightened, and begged pardon so very humbly that
at last Fudge let him off with five hundred lines of Virgil to be done
before Wednesday evening, and then sent him to bed--and there he is,
for he was too much alarmed to play any more tricks."

"I'd have given something to have seen it," cried one, when the laugh
was a little over.

"I think," said Jones, "all things considered, that the doctor was
tolerably lenient."

"Oh! Digby's a little bit of a favorite, I fancy," said Meredith.

"Not a bit," said Reginald. "What do you say, Hamilton?"

"Nothing," said Hamilton, shortly.

"One would think you never liked a joke, Hamilton," said Peters.

"Nor do I, when it is so low as to be practical," said Hamilton.
"I feel no sympathy whatever with him."

The event furnished idle conversation enough for that evening, and it
was long before it was forgotten; and, in spite of Frank's reiterated
boast that he did not care, and his apparent participation in the
mirth occasioned by his failure, it required the utmost exercise of
his habitual good-humor to bear equally the untiring teasing of his
school-fellows, and the still more trying coldness and sarcasm of
his master, whose manner very perceptibly altered towards him for
some time after. Casson took care that no one in the lower school
should be ignorant of Frank's defeat, and stimulated the little boys
to tease him--but this impertinence, being an insult to the dignity of
the seniors, was revenged by them as a body, and the juvenile tormentors
were too much awe-struck and alarmed to venture on a repetition of their
offence.



CHAPTER XVI.


During Louis' frequent walks with Hamilton, it must not be supposed
that his home and home-doings were left out of the conversation; before
very long, Hamilton had made an intimate mental acquaintance with all
his little friend's family, their habits of life, and every other
interesting particular Louis could remember. Hamilton was an excellent
listener, and never laughed at Louis' fondness for home, and many were
the extracts from home-letters with which he was favored; nay, sometimes
whole letters were inflicted on him.

Among the many delightful topics of home history, Louis dwelt on few
with more pleasure and enthusiasm than the social musical evenings,
and said so much on them, that Hamilton's curiosity was at length
aroused, after hearing Louis sing two or three times, to wonder what
a madrigal could be like. Louis tried to satisfy this craving by
singing the treble part, and descanting eloquently on the manner in
which the other parts ought to come in; but all in vain he repeated,
"There now, Hamilton, you see this is the _contralto_ part; and when
this bit of the _soprano_ is sung, it comes in so beautifully, and the
bass is crossing it, and playing hide and seek with the tenor."

Hamilton was obtuse, but at length, by fagging very hard with one
or two boys in the school-room, and getting one of the ushers, who
generally performed a second in all the musical efforts in the school,
to make some kind of bass, Louis presented his choir one evening in the
playground, and made them sing, to the great rapture of the audience.

After this exhibition, the whole school seemed to have a fever for
madrigals; nothing was heard about the playground but scraps of that
which Louis had taken pains to drill into his party; and one or two
came to Louis and Reginald to learn to take a second part. In play-hours,
nothing seemed thought of but part-singing, and suddenly the propriety
of giving a grand public concert was started; and after a serious debate,
a singing-class was established, Louis being declared president, or
master of the choir.

We will not say how fussy Louis was on the occasion; but he went about
very busily trying the voices of his school-fellows for a day or two
after his appointment, and picking out the best tones for his pupils.
Casson owned a very fine singing voice, though it was one of the most
rude in speaking, and having been partially initiated in the mystery
before, by Louis was declared a treasure. Frank Digby was another
valuable acquisition; for, joined to an extremely soft, full _contralto_
voice, he possessed, in common with his many accomplishments, a refined
ear and almost intuitive power of chiming in melodiously with any thing.
Salisbury was a very respectable bass, as things went; and Reginald, who
was certainly incapacitated for singing treble, declared his intention of
assisting him, being quite confident that his voice would be a desirable
adjunct. The members of the class having at last been decided on, a
subscription was raised, and Hamilton was commissioned to purchase what
was necessary, the first convenient opportunity; and accordingly, the
next half-holiday, he obtained leave for Louis to accompany him, and
set off on his commission. He had scarcely left the school-room when
Trevannion met him, and volunteered to accompany him.

"I shall be very glad of your company," said Hamilton; "I am going to
choose the music. You may stare when I talk of choosing music--it is
well I have so powerful an auxiliary, or I am afraid I should not give
much satisfaction to our committee of taste."

"What powerful auxiliary are you depending on?" said Trevannion;
"I shall be a poor one."

"You--oh, yes!" exclaimed Hamilton; "a very poor one, I suspect.
I was speaking of Louis Mortimer; he is going with me."

"Indeed," said Trevannion, coldly; "you will not want me, then!"

"Why not?" asked Hamilton. "We shall, I assure you, be very glad of
your company."

"So will Hutton and Salisbury," said Trevannion; "and I can endure my
own company when I am not wanted;" as he spoke, he walked away.

Hamilton turned, and looked after his retreating figure, as, drawn up
to its full height, it quickly disappeared in the crowd of boys, who
were chaffering with the old cake-man. His puzzled countenance soon
resumed its accustomed gravity, and with a slight curl of the lip,
he laid his hand on Louis' arm, and drew him on.

"Trevannion is offended," said Louis.

"He's welcome," was the rejoinder.

"But it is on my account, Hamilton," said Louis, anxiously;
"I cannot bear that you should quarrel with him for me."

"I have not quarrelled," said Hamilton, coldly. "If he chooses
to be offended, I can't help it."

"But he is an older friend than I am in two senses--let me go after
him and tell him I am not going. I can go with you another afternoon."

Louis drew his arm away as he spoke, and was starting off, when
Hamilton seized him quite roughly, and exclaimed in an angry tone,
"You shall do no such thing, Louis! Does he suppose I am to have no
one else but himself for my friend--_friend_, indeed!" he repeated.
"It's all indolence, Louis."

Louis looked up half alarmed, startled at his vehemence.

"Perhaps," said Hamilton, relaxing his hold, and laughing as he spoke,
"perhaps if I had not been so lazy, I should have found a more suitable
friend before; as it is, I do not yet find Trevannion indispensable--by
no means," he added, scornfully.

"Dear Hamilton," said Louis, "I shall be quite unhappy if I think I am
the cause of your thinking ill of Trevannion. You used to be such great
friends."

"None the worse, perhaps, because we are aware of a common absence
of perfection in each other," replied Hamilton, whose countenance had
gradually regained its calmness. "It is foolish to be angry, Louis,
but I was; and now let there be an end of it--I don't mean to forsake
you for all the Trevannions in Christendom."

They had by this time reached the playground gates, and were here
overtaken by Frank Digby, who had before engaged to be one of the
party.

"Better late than never," said Louis, in reply to his breathless
excuses. "I had my doubts whether your pressing engagements with
Maister Dunn would allow you to accompany us."

"Why, I got rid of him pretty soon," said Frank; "only just as I had
wedged myself out of the phalanx, who should appear but Thally."

"_Who?_" said Louis.

"Tharah," repeated Frank.

"Sally Simmons, the boot-cleaner, Louis," said Hamilton;
"you are up to nothing yet."

"She's a queer stick," said Frank.

"What a strange description of a woman!" remarked Louis.
"It is as clear as a person being a brick."

"And so it is," replied Frank; "only it's just the reverse."

"Up comes Thally with my Sunday boots as bright as her fair hands
could make them, and wanted me to look at a hole she had scraped in
them, nor, though I promised to give her my opinion of her handiwork
when I came back, was I allowed to depart till she had permission
to take them to her 'fayther.'"

Nothing worthy of record passed during the walk to Bristol till
the trio reached College Green. Here Louis began to look out for
music-shops, while Frank entertained his companions with a running
commentary on the shops, carriages, and people. It was a clear, bright
day, and Clifton seemed to have poured itself out in the Green.

"Look there, Hamilton, there's a whiskered don! What a pair of
moustaches! Hamilton, where is your eye-glass? Here's Trevannion's
shadow--was there ever such a Paris! Good gracious! as the ladies say,
what a frightful bonnet! Isn't that a love of a silk, Louis? Now,
Hamilton, did you ever see such a guy?"

Hamilton was annoyed at these remarks, made by no means in a low tone,
and, in his eagerness to change the conversation and get further from
Frank, he unfortunately ran against a lady who was getting out of a
carriage just drawn up in front of a large linen-draper's shop, much
to the indignation of a young gentleman who attended her.

Hamilton begged pardon, with a crimson face; and, as the lady kindly
assured him she was not hurt, Louis recognized in her his quondam
friend, Mrs. Paget, and darted forward to claim her acquaintance.

[Illustration: The meeting with Mrs. Paget.]

"What, Louis! my little Master Louis!" exclaimed the lady;
"I did not expect to see you. Where have you come from?"

"I am at school, ma'am, at Dr. Wilkinson's, and I had leave to come
out with Hamilton this afternoon. This is Hamilton, ma'am--Hamilton,
this is Mrs. Paget."

"Our rencontre, Mr. Hamilton," said the lady, "has been most fortunate;
for without this contretemps I should have been quite ignorant of Master
Louis' being so near--you must come and see me, dear. Mr. Hamilton, I
must take him home with me this afternoon."

"It is impossible, ma'am," said Hamilton, bluntly; "I am answerable
for him, and he must go back with me."

"Can you be so inexorable?" said Mrs. Paget. "Will you come, too, and
Mr. Francis Digby--I beg your pardon, Mr. Frank, I did not see you."

"I beg yours, ma'am," replied the affable Frank, with a most engaging
bow; "for I was so taken up with the tempting display on the green this
afternoon, that I only became aware this moment of my approximation to
yourself."

"The shops are very gay, certainly; but I should have thought that
you young gentlemen would not have cared much for the display. Now,
a tailor's shop would have been much more in your taste."

"Indeed, ma'am, we came out with the express purpose of buying a silk
for the Lady Louisa."

"I wonder any lady should commission you to buy any thing for her."

"Oh!" replied Frank, "I am renowned for my taste; and Hamilton is
equally well qualified. Can you recommend us a good milliner, ma'am?"

"I am going to look at some bonnets," said the lady. "But, Mr. Frank, I
half suspect you are quizzing. What Lady Louisa are you speaking of?"

Frank had drawn up his face into a very grave and confidential twist,
when Mrs. Paget's equerry, the young gentleman before mentioned, offered
his arm, and, giving Frank a withering look, warned the lady of the time.

"You are right. It is getting late," she said. "Good-bye, dear boy.
Where are you now? Dr. Williams?"

"Dr. Wilkinson's, Ashfield House," said Louis.

"Henry, will you remember the address?" said the lady.

The young gentleman grunted some kind of acquiescence; and,
after due adieus, Mrs. Paget walked into the shop.

"Frank, I'm ashamed of you," said Hamilton.

"I am sure," replied Frank, "I've been doing all the work;
I'm a walking exhibition of entertainment for man and beast."

Hamilton would not laugh, and, finding all remonstrances
unavailing, he quickened his pace and walked on in silence
till they reached the music-seller's, where, after some
deliberation, they obtained the requisite music, and, after
a few more errands, began to retrace their steps.

The walk home was very merry. Louis, having unfastened the bundle,
tried over some of the songs, and taught Frank readily the contralto
of two. Then he wanted to try Hamilton, but this in the open air
Hamilton stoutly resisted, though he promised to make an effort at
some future time. After Frank and Louis had sung their duets several
times over to their own satisfaction while sitting under a hedge,
all the party grew silent: there was something so beautiful in the
stillness and brightness, that none felt inclined to disturb it.
At last, Louis suddenly began Eve's hymn:

    "How cheerful along the gay mead
       The daisy and cowslip appear!
     The flocks, as they carelessly feed,
       Rejoice in the spring of the year;
     The myrtles that shade the gay bowers,
       The herbage that springs from the sod,
     Trees, plants, cooling fruits, and sweet flowers,
       All rise to the praise of my God.

    "Shall man, the great master of all,
       The only insensible prove?
     Forbid it, fair gratitude's call!
       Forbid it, devotion and love!
     THEE, Lord, who such wonders canst raise,
       And still canst destroy with a nod,
     My lips shall incessantly praise,
       My soul shall be wrapped in my God."
                                            DR. ARNE.

Frank joined in the latter part of the first verse, but was silent
in the second.

"Why did you not go on, Frank?" asked Hamilton.

"It was too sweet," said Frank. "Louis, I envy you your thoughts."

"Do you?" said Louis, looking up quickly in his cousin's face, with
a bright expression of pleasure.

"When you began that song," continued Frank, "I was thinking of
those lines,

    'These are Thy glorious works, Parent of good,
     Almighty, Thine this universal frame,
     Thus wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then!'"

"'Thyself how wondrous then!'" repeated Hamilton, reverentially.

"I don't know how it is, Louis," said Frank; "in cathedrals, and
in beautiful scenery, when a grave fit comes over me, I sometimes
think I should like to be religious."

Louis squeezed his hand, but did not speak.

"Take care, Frank," said Hamilton with some emotion. "Be very, very
careful not to mistake sentiment for religion. I am sure it is so easy
to imagine the emotion excited by beauty of sight or sound, religious,
that we cannot, be too careful in examining the _reason_ of such
feelings."

"But how, Hamilton?" said Frank. "You would not check such impressions?"

"No; it is better that our thoughts should be carried by beauty to the
source of all beauty; but to a poetical, susceptible imagination this
is often the case where there is not the least vital religion, Frank.
The deist will gaze on the splendid landscape, and bow in reverence
to the God of nature, but a Christian's thoughts should fly to his
God at all times; the light and beauty of the scenes of nature should
be within himself. When a person's whole religion consists in these
transient emotions, he ought to mistrust it, Digby."

"But, dear Hamilton," said Louis, after a few minutes' silence,
"we ought to be thankful when God gives us the power of enjoying
the beautiful things He has made. Would it not be ungrateful to
check every happy feeling of gratitude and joy for the power to see,
and hear, and enjoy, with gladness and thankfulness, the loveliness
and blessings around?"

"The height of ingratitude, dear Louis," said Hamilton, emphatically.
"But I am sure you understand me."

"To be sure," said Louis. "Many good gifts our Almighty Father has
given us, and one perfect gift, and the good gifts should lead us to
think more of the perfect ONE. I often have thought, Hamilton, of that
little girl's nice remark that I read to you last Sunday, about the
good and perfect gifts."

Hamilton did not reply, and for a minute or two longer they sat in
silence, when the report of a gun at a little distance roused them,
and almost at the same instant, a little bird Louis had been watching
as it flew into a large tree in front of them, fell wounded from branch
to branch, until it rested on the lowest, where a flutter among the
leaves told of its helpless sufferings.

"I must get it, Hamilton!" cried Louis, starting up. "It is wounded."

"The branch is too high," said Hamilton. "I dare say the poor thing is
dying; we cannot do it any good."

"Indeed I must try!" exclaimed Louis, scrambling partly up the immense
trunk of the tree, and slipping down much more quickly. "I wish there
were something to catch hold of, or to rest one's foot against."

"You'll never get up," said Hamilton, laughing; "if you must get it,
mount my shoulders."

As he spoke he came under the tree, and Louis, availing himself of
the proffered assistance, succeeded in reaching and bringing down the
wounded bird, which he did with many expressions of gratitude to Hamilton.

"I am sure you ought to be obliged," said Frank. "Royalty lending itself
out as a ladder is an unheard-of anomaly. Pray, what are you going to do
with cock-sparrow now you have got him?"

Louis only replied by laying some grass and leaves in the bottom of
his cap, and putting the bird on this extempore bed. He then seized
Hamilton's arm and urged him forward. Hamilton responded to Louis'
anxiety with some queries on the expediency of assisting wounded
birds if pleasant walks were to be thereby curtailed, and Frank,
after suggesting, to Louis' horror, the propriety of making a pie
of his favorite, walked on, singing,

    "A little cock-sparrow sat upon a tree,"

which, with variations, lasted till they reached the playground gates,
where Louis ran off to find Clifton, that he might enter into proper
arrangements for due attendance on his sparrow's wants.



CHAPTER XVII.

  "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that
   refraineth his lips is wise."--Prov. x. 19.

  "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger,
   and not thine own lips."--Prov. xxvii. 2.


We are now considering Louis Mortimer under prosperity; a state
in which it is much more difficult to be watchful, than in that
of adversity. When he first came to school, his struggle was to
be consistent in maintaining his principles against ridicule and
fear of his fellow-creatures' judgment. In that he nearly failed;
and then came the hard trial we have related, the furnace from
whose fires he came so bright: and another trial awaited him, but
different still.

By the beauty of conduct Divine grace _alone_ had enabled him to observe,
he now won the regard of the majority of his school-fellows; and no one
meddled with him or his opinions. He was loved by many; liked by most,
and unmolested by the rest. We are told, "When a man's ways please the
Lord, even his enemies are at peace with him;" and this was Louis'
case. If a few remarks were now and then made on the singularity and
stiffness of his notions, the countenance of the seniors, and the
general estimation in which he was held, prevented any annoyance or
interference. His feet were now on smooth ground, and the sky was
bright above his head; and he began to forget that a storm had
ever been.

One day between school-hours, when Louis and his brother were diligently
drilling the chorus, they were summoned to the drawing-room, where they
found the doctor standing talking with a lady, in the large bay-window.
Her face was turned towards the prospect beyond, and she did not see
them enter; and near her, leaning on the top of a high-backed chair,
stood a tall gentlemanly youth, whom Louis immediately recognized as
Mrs. Paget's esquire. The lady was speaking as they entered, and her
gentle lady-like tones fell very pleasantly on Louis' ears, and made
him sure he should like her, if even the words she had chosen had been
otherwise.

"I have been quite curious to see him; my sister has said so much,
poor little fellow!"

Dr. Wilkinson at this moment became aware of the presence of his pupils,
and, turning round, introduced them to the lady, and the lady in turn
to them, as Mrs. Norman.

"I am personally a stranger to you, Master Mortimer," said Mrs. Norman;
"but I have often heard of you. You know Mrs. Paget?"

"Oh, yes!" replied Louis.

"She is my sister, and, not being able to come herself to-day, she
commissioned me to bring an invitation for you and your brother to
spend the rest of this day with her, if Dr. Wilkinson will kindly
allow it."

[Illustration: The invitation.]

Louis looked at Dr. Wilkinson; and Reginald answered for himself--

"I am much obliged, ma'am; and, if you please, thank Mrs. Paget
for me, but as it is not a half-holiday, I shall not be able to
come this afternoon. I shall be very glad to come when school is
over, if Dr. Wilkinson will allow me."

Dr. Wilkinson smiled. "Mrs. Norman will, I am sure, excuse a
school-boy's anxiety to retain a hard-earned place in his class,"
he said. "I have given my permission, you may do as you please."

"Mrs. Paget will be so much disappointed," said Mrs. Norman;
"are you anxious about your class, too, Master Louis?"

Louis blushed, hesitated, and then looked from Reginald to the doctor,
but Dr. Wilkinson gave no assistance. Louis demurred a little; for he
had a place to lose that he had gained only the day before, and that,
probably, he might not be able to gain from Clifton for the rest of the
half-year. But at length, on another persuasive remark from Mrs. Norman,
he accepted the invitation in rather a confused manner; and, it being
decided that Reginald was to join them at dinner, he went away to make
some alteration in his dress. When he returned, Mrs. Norman carried
him off in her carriage, which was waiting at the door, having first
introduced him to her companion, as her son, Henry Norman.

During the ride to Clifton, Louis became very communicative. He liked
Mrs. Norman very much, she was so very sweet, and now and then made
little remarks that reminded Louis of home; and then he was sure she
liked him; even if he had not guessed that the few words he first heard
from her lips referred to him, her very kind full eyes and affectionate
manner spoke of unusual interest, and Louis felt very anxious to rise
in her estimation. Things that are not sinful in themselves, become
sins from the accompanying motives; the desire of favor in the eyes
of so excellent a person was not wrong, had it been mixed with a wish
to adorn the doctrine of Christ, and thankfulness for the love and favor
given; but now Louis talked of things which, though he really believed
them, and of feelings which, though he had once really experienced them,
were not now the breathings of a heart that overflowed with all its
fulness of gratitude. He had quickness enough to see what was most
precious in his new friend's sight, and tried to ingratiate himself
with her, by dwelling on these subjects, and showing how much he had
felt on them. _Had felt_, for he had "left his first love."

Let it not be supposed that Louis meant to deceive--he deceived himself
as much as any one; but he was in that sad state when a Christian has
backslidden so far as to live on the remembrance of old joys, instead
of the actual possession of new.

The carriage stopped, at length, at a house in York Crescent, where the
trio alighted. Mrs. Norman led Louis up stairs into the drawing-room,
while her son, who had scarcely spoken a word during the drive, stayed
a minute or two at the house-door, and then ran down the nearest flight
of steps leading to the carriage-road, jumped into the carriage, which
was just driving off, and paid a visit to the stables.

The room into which Louis entered was very large, and littered so
with all descriptions of chairs, stools, and non-descript elegancies,
that it required some little ingenuity to reach the further end without
upsetting the one, or being overthrown by the others. Near one of the
three windows, reclining on a sofa, was Mrs. Paget, who welcomed Louis
with her usual warmth.

"You see," said she, "I am a prisoner. I sprained my ankle the very
day I saw you; and I am positively forbidden to walk. But where is
Master Reginald?"

Louis informed Mrs. Paget of his brother's intentions, and, after
expressing her regrets at his non-appearance, the lady continued:

"Now, sit near me, and let us have a little talk; I want to hear
how you are going on, and how many prizes you are likely to get.
But, perhaps, my dear, you would like to go on the downs, or into
the town, or to----Where's Henry, I wonder: where is Mr. Norman?"
she asked of a servant who came to remove a little tray that stood
beside her.

"Just gone round to the stables, ma'am."

"Dear, how unfortunate! You can't think what a beautiful little horse
he has; I tell him it is quite a lady's horse. He will show it to you.
I can't think how he could go away this afternoon. You'll be very dull,
my dear--but my sister will take you out."

Louis assured her he should enjoy sitting with her.

"That is very kind of you; very few of your age would care about
staying with a lame, fidgety, old woman."

Louis protested against the two last epithets, and as Mrs. Norman
had left the room he began talking of the pleasant ride he had had
with her, and how much he loved her.

Mrs. Paget warmly admitted every thing, only adding that in some
things she was a little too particular.

"But, dear me! you must be very hungry," she exclaimed, interrupting
herself. "How could I forget? Just ring the bell, dear boy--there's
lunch down stairs. Oh, never mind, here is Charlotte."

As she spoke, Mrs. Norman re-entered, and took Louis down to lunch.

When he returned to the drawing-room, Mrs. Paget had her sofa moved
so as to face the window, and a little table was placed in front of
her. A low armchair was near her for Louis, and another quite in the
window Mrs. Norman took possession of, when she had provided herself
with some work.

"Oh, what a beautiful view!" exclaimed Louis, as he looked for the
first time out of the window. "How very, very beautiful! I think this
is the pleasantest situation in Clifton."

"It is very beautiful," said Mrs. Norman. "But you have a magnificent
prospect at Dr. Wilkinson's."

"Dr. Wilkinson's is a very nice place, I believe, is it not?" said
Mrs. Paget. "It is a pity such a pretty place should be a school."

"Nay," said Mrs. Norman, smiling; "why should you grudge the poor
boys their pleasure?"

"I don't think they appreciate it," said Mrs. Paget; "and, poor
fellows, they are always so miserable that they might as well be
miserable somewhere else."

"We are not at all miserable after the first week," said Louis.

"I thought you were not to go to school again, my dear," said
Mrs. Paget.

"So I thought, myself, but papa wished me to go, and he is the
best judge."

"Well, dear it's a very nice thing that you are wise enough to see
it,--and you are happy?"

"I should be very ungrateful not to be so ma'am; Dr. Wilkinson and
all the boys are so kind to me this half. It is so different from
the first quarter spent at school."

"They are kind, are they? Well, I dare say; they couldn't help it,
I'm sure," replied Mrs. Paget. "I suppose you will have the medal
again this half year. I am sure you ought to have it to make up."

"Oh, but I shouldn't have it to make up for last half, ma'am,"
said Louis, smiling.

"But you will get it, I dare say," said the lady.

"I don't know," said Louis; "perhaps--I think I have a very good
chance yet, but we never can tell exactly what Dr. Wilkinson thinks
about us. There are only one or two I am afraid of."

"I should think you needn't be afraid of any," said Mrs. Paget. "I
told you, Charlotte, about that story we heard at Heronhurst last
summer--dear boy--you know he bore--"

"Yes," interrupted Mrs. Norman. "You have a large number of
school-fellows, Master Louis," she added.

"Yes, ma'am, there are seventy-six of us this half, so many that
we hardly know the names of the lower school."

"Is that M. _Ferrar_ or _Ferrers_ there still?" asked Mrs. Paget.

"Yes, ma'am, and he is so much improved, you cannot think."

Louis looked very earnestly at her as she spoke, and she put her
hand on his forehead, stroking his hair off, while she replied,

"He is very happy in having so kind a friend, I am sure; he ought
to have been expelled."

"Oh no, ma'am--I think kindness was much the best way," said Louis;
and remembering how incautiously he had spoken of him before, he said
all that he could in his praise.

The conversation then turned upon the school in general, and it
was astonishing to watch how much Louis said indirectly in his own
praise, and how nearly every thing seemed to turn in the direction
of _dear self_, in the history of his lessons, progress, and rivals--and
even when it branched off to his friends, among whom in the first rank
stood Hamilton.

"You would so like Hamilton, he is so kind to me. I told you about him
before," said Louis, eagerly.

"Is that the young gentleman who had charge of you the other day?"
asked Mrs. Paget.

Louis answered in the affirmative.

"I did not much like him, only one doesn't judge people fairly
at first, often."

"Oh, Hamilton's such a good creature!" exclaimed Louis, in his energy
letting fall one end of a skein of silk he was holding. He gathered it
up, apologized, and resumed his defence of his friend.

"He is, perhaps, a little blunt, but he is so sincere, and so steady
and kind, Dr. Wilkinson is very, _very_ fond of him, I know; he
makes me sit by him every night, and I learn my lessons with him.
I am sure if it were not for him I should be terribly behind Clifton."

"I saw them coming out of Redland Chapel yesterday morning," said
Mrs. Paget. "At least I saw Mr. Hamilton, but I did not see you."

Louis informed her of the division of the school on Sunday, and she
continued,

"I noticed a very aristocratic young gentleman with Mr. Hamilton--quite
a contrast, so very handsome and elegant; who was he?"

"Was he tall?" asked Louis; "and dressed in black, with a light
waistcoat?"

"I don't know what waistcoat he had," said Mrs. Paget, laughing.
"His dress was in perfect gentlemanly taste. He was, I should think,
tall for his age, and had dark hair and eyes."

"I have no doubt it was Trevannion; he is the handsomest fellow in the
school, except Salisbury."

"That he is not," said Mrs. Paget, significantly.

Louis blushed, and felt rather foolish, certainly not wholly insensible
to the injudicious hint.

"Only Fred Salisbury is so different: he is not elegant, and yet he
is not awkward; he is rough and ready, and says all kinds of vulgar
things. He is very much liked among us, but I don't think Trevannion
is, though he gets his own way a great deal: he thinks nobody is equal
to himself, I know, but I am sure he is not a favorite."

"Why not?" said Mrs. Paget.

"He is so very selfish, and so contemptuous, and so dreadfully offended
if Hamilton does not treat him with the deference he wants. I think we
know more of each other than any one else does, and no one would think,
in company, when Trevannion is smiling and talking so cleverly, that he
is so unamiable."

"He does not look like an ill-tempered person," said the lady.

"I don't think he is what is generally called an ill-tempered person;
for he never puts himself into passions, nor does he seem to mind many
things that make others very angry. But he is sometimes dreadfully
disdainful and haughty when any one offends him, and especially when
Hamilton seems to like anybody as well as himself. Only last Saturday
he was so much affronted because Hamilton had asked leave for me to go
into Bristol with him. When he found I was coming, he wouldn't go with
us. I think he is very jealous of me, though I begged Hamilton to let
me stay at home, and I was just going after him to call him back, only
Hamilton wouldn't let me. I did not like to see such old friends quarrel.
I am sure I would very gladly have stayed at home to keep peace."

"I am quite sure of that," said Mrs. Paget. "But how came your perfect
Mr. Hamilton to choose such a friend?"

"I have often wondered," said Louis; "and last Saturday, when that
happened that I told you of just now, and Hamilton (he is so kind)
said he wouldn't give me up for anybody, he said he thought he made
Trevannion his friend because he was too lazy to find another for
himself."

"_Too lazy to find another?_" repeated Mrs. Paget.

"Hamilton does not like taking trouble, generally," said Louis;
"it is his greatest fault, I think. He takes things as they come.
I have often wished he would concern himself a little more about
the wrong things that go on among us. You know it would be of no
use my speaking about them, though I try sometimes; it is so much
easier to do right when the great boys support you."

"So it is, dear," said Mrs. Paget, kindly.

Mrs. Norman had scarcely spoken during the whole conversation, though
she had once or twice laid down her work and looked very gravely at
Louis; but he had not noticed it; for he was so elated with himself,
and the relations of his own importance at school, and the idea of his
superiority above his school-fellows, that there was no room for any
thing else in his head, and he went on with the firm conviction that
both the ladies were, like every one else, extremely delighted and
interested in him and his sentiments. There had been another auditor
in the room almost ever since the beginning of the long chat, and that
was Henry Norman, who, when he had seen his horse and lunched, entered
the room unperceived by Louis or Mrs. Paget, and passed noiselessly
along to the furthest window, where he sat, with a book, hid by the
curtains from a careless glance. A few words caught his ear as he
was finding out his place; and, whether the matter of the first page
required deep consideration and digestion or not, we cannot pretend
to determine, not knowing the nature of the chosen volume, but it is
certain that that leaf was not turned over that afternoon, and the
eyes that professed to convey its meaning to the mind of the reader
not unfrequently wandered on the hills in the distant prospect, or,
on being recalled, on the nearer objects of Mrs. Paget's sofa--the
skein of silk and the pair of hands, which were the only portions
visible to him of the loquacious little visitor. That he was listening
with interest of an equivocal nature might be gathered from the
frequent, impatient knitting of the brow, biting of the lips, and
sudden laying down of the book altogether; but there he sat till Louis,
having flown off from Hamilton to the general school failings, had
finished relating the history of Frank Digby's memorable Saturday
night's exploit, and concluded by an emphatic delivery of his upright
sentiments on the heinousness of practical jokes. He paused a minute
to take breath, after a Philippic that elicited a small dose of
flattery from Mrs. Paget, and, with a face flushed with satisfaction
and excitement, stooped to pick up a fallen pair of scissors, when
Mrs. Norman, laying down her work looked again at him and uttered a
sound indicative of an intention of speaking. This time Louis was
fully aware of an expression in her countenance far from satisfactory,
but she had not time to express her sentiments, for at this moment
Reginald was announced, and a general move took place. Henry Norman
came forward and welcomed him, and then took him and Louis out on
the Crescent till dinner-time. Here they were joined by some of
Norman's acquaintances, whom he introduced to his visitors. Louis
thought uncomfortably, for a few minutes, of Mrs. Norman's look of
disapprobation; but he persuaded himself that there was nothing meant
by it, and soon became very lively. There was something he did not like
about Norman, who, though perfectly well-bred and attentive, showed a
degree of indifference and disregard to any thing he said or did, that
did not altogether suit Louis' present state of mind. If Louis addressed
him, he listened very politely, but with a slight, sarcastic smile, and
either returned a very short and cool reply, or, if the remark did not
require one, an inclination of the head, and turned immediately to one
of his other companions. Reginald did not much fancy him; but, upon the
whole, they managed to pass the time very pleasantly till they were
summoned to dinner.

Several persons came in in the evening, and Louis was called upon by
Mrs. Paget to sing, "_Where the bee sucks_." This led to other
songs, and Louis attracted the notice of a musical gentleman, who was
much pleased with him, and who gave him a general invitation to his
house. Louis was in the midst of his thanks when Reginald summoned him
to go home, and, in spite of Mrs. Paget's remonstrances and offers of
her carriage, carried his point.

"Well, Louis, how did you get on?" said Reginald, as they were walking
home; "I think you must have been dreadfully bored with holding skeins
and talking fine for Mrs. Paget's edification for two hours at least,
to say nothing of all the stuffing you have had this evening."

"Oh! I have been very happy," said Louis. "Do you know Mr. Fraser has
invited me to his musical parties?"

"I wish you joy, I am sure. What a nice woman Mrs. Norman seems!"

"Yes," said Louis, doubtfully.

"_Yes_--that sounds very much like _no_," said Reginald.

"I did not mean it." Louis recalled her manner lately towards him,
and mentally went over the conversation of the day.

"Well, what's the matter?" asked Reginald.

"I am afraid I have been very foolish; I talk so foolishly sometimes,
Reginald--I said so many foolish things this afternoon. I don't think
Mrs. Norman likes me."

"Rubbish! stuff and nonsense! Just like you, Louis, always imagining
somebody's displeased with you--I won't hear a word more; I have no
patience with you."

"Then you don't think she seemed vexed with me?"

"Not I; and if she were, what's the odds? What difference need she make
in your happiness? What a wretched creature you'll make of yourself,
Louis, if you think so much of the opinion of every one--a person, too,
you may never see again."

Louis was relieved, and talked on other matters with his brother till
they reached home. He was a little annoyed to hear that Hamilton had
expressed considerable vexation at his going with Mrs. Norman before
afternoon school, and this, combined with the excitement and vanity
under which he labored, disturbed considerably the tranquillity of
his slumbers, and prevented his earnestly seeking that aid he so much
needed.



CHAPTER XVIII.

  "A talebearer revealeth secrets; but he that is of a faithful
   spirit concealeth the matter."--Prov. xi. 13.

  "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love, but he that
   repeateth a matter separateth very friends."--Prov. xvii. 9.

  "When pride cometh, then cometh shame."--Prov. xi. 2.

  "A haughty spirit goeth before a fall."--Prov. xvi. 18.


Perhaps those who have read the first part of the story of Louis
Mortimer will remember that I there endeavored to explain the nature
of the Christian's warfare, and that I stated that there were sad
periods when the Christian, too confident in his own strength, perhaps
too much inclined to exult in his victories as evincing some latent
power in _himself_, becomes less watchful, and gradually falls back
in his glorious course. It is certain, that if we do not advance
we go back, and oh, how sad it is that redeemed sinners, called by
so holy a name as that of Christian, should, in any degree, forget
to whom they owe all their might to do well, as well as their final
salvation, that they should relax, in the least, their prayers, their
efforts in the strength of the Holy Spirit to press forward towards
the mark of the prize of their high calling. It is not that all those
who thus sadly backslide are allowed to fall into open sin. Many, by
the great mercy of their Lord, are preserved from thus dishonoring
His holy name and cause; but alas! too often is there a falling off
in devotion, in singleness of heart, in perseverance, in watchfulness
against besetting sins, when the prayers are fewer and colder, the
praises fainter, and the Christian, after languishing for a time
in this divided state, hardly making an effort to return, becomes
conscious, to his alarm, how far he has wandered, and feels with
our sweet poet, in the bitterness of his spirit,


    "Where is the blessedness I knew,
       When first I saw the Lord?
     Where is the soul-refreshing view
       Of Jesus and His word?

    "The peaceful hours I once enjoyed
       How sweet their memory still!
     But they have left an _aching void_
       _The world can never fill_."

For the next fortnight the singing class was indefatigable, and owing
to the cultivated taste of Louis and Reginald, and the superior musical
education of one or two others, among whom Mr. Witworth and Frank were
not the least in importance, the members at length considered themselves
competent to exhibit before an audience.

Accordingly, after Dr. Wilkinson had been favored with a specimen
of their skill, his permission was obtained to invite such of their
friends as they chose.

Tickets of admission, which had been prepared before-hand, were then
sent out in various directions, accompanied by notes of invitation.
As soon as Mrs. Paget's arrived at its destination, a most kind answer
was dispatched to Louis as president, adding a request to be allowed
to provide refreshment for the performers; and, as her proposal was
hailed with three cheers, and gracefully accepted by Louis, on the
morning of the eventful day came grapes, peaches, biscuits, and wine,
which were very elegantly set out in the class-room by the committee.

The concert passed off as propitiously as could be wished. Hamilton,
who, from utter want of ear, was totally incapacitated for singing,
acted the part of steward with Trevannion, Meredith, and one or two
others, with great decorum, and actually stood near Mrs. Paget during
part of the performance, listening quietly to Louis' praises with such
evident interest, that a few words of commendation he uttered quite
won the lady's heart, though she had certainly been prejudiced against
him before. It was remarked by some, that the doctor did not seem much
pleased with Louis' manners on this occasion; for, when Mrs. Paget,
between the parts, began to praise Louis' extraordinary musical
talents (as she was pleased to call them), and to relate how much
he pleased the company at her house, Dr. Wilkinson coolly replied,
that he considered he had been well taught, but doubted his having
more than an average good taste and general ability; and as his eye
turned upon Louis, who was moving rather affectedly and conceitedly
from rank to rank on his way to the refreshment-room, his forehead
wrinkled ominously, and his lips became more tightly compressed. He
was observed to watch Louis for a minute, and then turn suddenly away
as if disgusted.

The madrigal concert took place about the end of the quarter, and on the
following Saturday afternoon, the monotony of Ashfield House was varied
by the arrival of a new scholar, in the person of Mr. Henry Norman, who
was placed as a parlor boarder with the doctor.

When Hamilton and Louis returned from the playground together,
they discovered this young gentleman sitting on the table, carefully
balancing the doctor's chair with one of his feet, deeply immersed
in the contents of a new book with only partially cut leaves, left
by accident on the table. His back was turned towards them, and he
was so engrossed in the twofold occupation of reading and keeping the
heavy chair from falling, that he did not notice their entrance, and
Louis, not recognizing his figure at first, nor knowing that he was
expected, left the business of welcoming the stranger to his senior.

"Our new school-fellow, Louis, I suppose," said Hamilton, in a low tone,
as he scrutinized the lengthy figure before him. "I know that fellow,
Louis--he is a friend of yours."

Before Louis had time to answer, the low murmur had disturbed
Norman; and, looking up without altering his position in the least,
he acknowledged his acquaintance with Louis by a nod, and a careless
"How do you do?"

Louis advanced directly with a warm welcome and out-stretched hand
that was met by two fingers of Norman's left hand, tendered in a
manner so offensive to Hamilton that he debated whether he should
turn the intruder out of window, or walk himself out of the door;
and concluded by drawing back in disdainful anger.

Louis was not so ready to take offence, though he was sensitive
enough to feel a little hurt; and, turning round to his friend,
introduced Norman to him.

Norman took a steady quick glance at Hamilton, and, though his lips
were full of propriety, there was something like a sarcastic smile
in his eyes.

"You are not altogether a stranger to me, Mr. Hamilton, though,
I imagine, I am to you," he said, as he allowed the chair to regain
its legs, and got off the table, throwing the book on another,
several yards distant.

"I must confess you have the advantage of me," said Hamilton,
coldly. "I was not aware that I had the honor of being known
to you."

"I assure you, then, that you had that honor.--Dear me!" he
added, as he threw himself into the doctor's chair, stretching
out his legs to their utmost length: "absurd of me to sit on that
table, when I might have initiated myself so admirably into the
art of reading made easy. Comfortable chair this of Fudge's--I beg
his pardon, Dr. Wilkinson's. I am so accustomed to that elegant
_nom du guerre_ that I occasionally forget myself. The old
gentleman knows how to make himself comfortable; I suppose that
book belongs to him. I took the liberty of cutting a few leaves."

"Which will be a peculiar satisfaction to him, doubtless," said
Hamilton; "and perhaps you may have the pleasure of hearing so
from his own lips."

"_Verbum sat_," replied Norman. "It is a peculiar gratification,
Mr. Hamilton, to discover that your natural good sense is overcoming
your usual disinclination to notice those things which are not
_comme il faut_ in your school-fellows, thereby depriving them of the
aid of your countenance and example in their little endeavors; and
I feel peculiar satisfaction in thus early becoming the recipient of
the good services bestowed by the blunt sincerity and kindliness
of your nature."

Hamilton crimsoned and stared; but there was nothing insolent in the
tone; it was inexplicable. That something was meant he could not doubt;
and presently, perceiving that Louis was uncomfortable and embarrassed,
he said haughtily,

"I really am at a loss to understand you, sir; but your manner towards
your friend and mine is particularly unpleasant. What you may have
been used to I cannot pretend to know; but, whatever it be, you will
be kind enough to remember that here we are accustomed to the society
of gentlemen, and to treat each other as such."

"My dear Mr. Hamilton," said Norman, blandly, slightly moving as if to
arrest Hamilton's progress towards the door, "you entirely misunderstand
me. Master Mortimer and I now understand each other better. Indeed, I am
laid under a weighty obligation to Master Louis for my acquaintance with
your royal self and various members of your court; and could not possibly
have any intention of quarrelling with so kind a benefactor. As for you,
I have made up my mind to know and like you. Shake hands, will you?"

Hamilton hesitatingly touched the proffered hand, and looking at his
watch at the same moment, wondered to Louis why tea was not ready.

"There's the bell!" exclaimed Louis; and seizing Hamilton's arm,
he hurried off, leaving Norman to follow at his leisure, as neither
Hamilton nor himself felt at all inclined to be ceremonious.

Louis felt a little afraid of Norman, though he did not exactly
know why.

Norman did not follow them immediately; and Hamilton had nearly
emptied his first cup of tea when he came in, in company with
Trevannion and Frank Digby, the latter of whom had a marvellous
facility for making acquaintances on the shortest notice. They
sat down at the end of one of the three long tables, and continued
laughing and talking the whole of the tea-time, after which Norman
went to his own tea with the doctor.

"So, Louis, Norman's come!" exclaimed Reginald, pouncing upon his
brother just as he reached the school-room door.

"Is he a friend of yours?" asked Trevannion.

"He is, and he is not. Make that riddle out at your leisure,"
replied Reginald, gayly.

"Oh, that settles the matter!" said Trevannion.

"What matter?" asked Louis.

A look of the most withering description was the only answer
Louis received; it was enough, however, to deter him from
repeating his question.

Happily, Reginald did not see it.

"How do you like our new-comer, Trevannion?" asked Hamilton,
linking his arm in his friend's, preparatory to a short, after-tea
turn in the playground. "There is something very peculiar about
him--insolent, I think."

"He's a nice fellow, in my opinion," said Trevannion.

"A very knowing chap," said Salisbury. "Has he been here before?"

"No," said Frank Digby; "but somebody's been kind enough to give
the full particulars, history, and lives, peccadilloes, _et cetera_,
_et cetera_, _et cetera_, of the gentlemen, generally, and individually,
at Ashfield Academy. Why, Hamilton, he called Trevannion and Salisbury
by their names, without any introduction, and is as much up to every
thing here as yourself, I believe."

"I don't much fancy him," said Hamilton; "and strongly suspect he won't
add much to our comfort."

"He doesn't like your pet, I suppose, then," said Trevannion,
marking the slight color that rose in Hamilton's face. "He told
me of your strange rencontre in the class-room; he has taken a
fancy, I am sure, to you."

Hamilton did not look particularly delighted, and changed the subject
to one on which he and Trevannion conversed most amicably till past
their usual time for re-entering the study.

Norman did not come among them that evening till prayer-time; and,
to his great satisfaction, Louis saw very little of him for the next
day or two.

One day, during the first week of Norman's initiation, at the close
of the morning school, a party similar in size and kind to that which
had the honor of greeting Louis on his arrival the preceding half-year,
was assembled on the raised end of the school-room. Frank and Salisbury
were both of them seated on the top of a desk; the former, generally
silent, relieved himself by sundry twists and contortions, smacking of
the lips, sighs, and turnings of the eyes, varied by a few occasional
thumps administered to Salisbury, who sat by him, apparently unconscious
of the bellicose attitude of his neighbor, listening attentively, with
a mixed expression of concern and anger on his honest countenance, to
Norman, who, on this occasion, was the principal speaker. Louis was
in the room, at his desk, hunting for a top; but too intent upon his
search, and too far off to hear more of the topics that engrossed so
much attention, than a few words that conveyed no impression to him,
being simply, "Ferrers--my aunt--clever--hypocritical."

Just as he had given up all hope of finding his top, Hamilton came up
to him. "Louis," said he, "if Trevannion goes out with me, I shall have
time to hear your Herodotus before afternoon school, directly after
dinner, mind."

"I shan't forget;--oh, Hamilton, you haven't such a thing as another
top, have you? Reginald's broken two of mine, and I can't find my other."

"I do happen to have taken care of yours for you, you careless boy.
Here is my desk-key, you will find it there; you can give me the key
after dinner."

With many thanks, Louis proceeded to Hamilton's desk, and Hamilton went
up to Trevannion, who was one of the party at the upper end of the room.
Louis was now so near the speakers, as to be unavoidably within hearing
of all that passed; and, astonished by the first few words, he proceeded
no further in his errand than putting the key into the lock.

"Are you inclined for a walk, Trevannion?" asked Hamilton, as he
reached him.

Trevannion was leaning against the doctor's desk, in a more perturbed
state than his calm self usually exhibited. As Hamilton spoke, he turned
round, stared, and drew himself proudly up, replying, in a tone of great
bitterness, "Thank you, Mr. Hamilton, but perhaps if you _will_ take the
trouble, you may find some one better suited to you than myself."

"What is the matter?" said Hamilton.

"Some of your friends appear to have better memories than yourself,"
replied Trevannion, folding his arms, and assuming an indifferent air;
"you will, perhaps, not find mine quite so capricious; I am much obliged
for all favors bestowed, Mr. Hamilton. Perhaps you considered me too
lazy to look out for another friend; I am active enough, I assure you,
to provide myself with one, and to release you from the irksome ties
your indolence has imposed upon you."

Hamilton looked, as he was, seriously annoyed. He did not remember the
expression that had given so much offence, and was quite at a loss to
understand the mystery:--he looked from one to the other for explanation;
at one time inclined to walk away as proudly as Trevannion could have
done; at another, his more moderate feelings triumphing, urged him into
an inquiry.

"I really cannot understand you," he said, at length; "do explain
yourself. If I have done any thing to offend you, let me know what
it is, and, if reasonable, I am willing to apologize."

Trevannion sneered. "Apologies can do little good--eh, Norman?"

"If you know what this is, Norman," said Hamilton, "I must beg you
to enlighten me."

"I have no business to interfere," said Norman, carelessly.

"What a tragedy scene! What's the matter?" cried Reginald Mortimer,
who came up at the moment. "You lazy-bones of a Louis! where are you?"

"The matter is simply this," said Frank Digby: "Norman has heard from
a veracious source that Mr. Hamilton once said, in confidence (between
you and me, you know), that the reason he retained Mr. Philip Trevannion
in the rank of first bosom-friend, was because he was too lazy to look
out for one better suited to his tastes: consequently, as Mr. Trevannion
can aver that Mr. Hamilton never confided this matter to him, it is
certain that some one has betrayed confidence reposed in him--oh, yes!
oh, yes!"

"What a fuss about a nonsensical report!" exclaimed Reginald.
"Do you believe it?"

"Does he deny it?" said Trevannion, tuning to Hamilton.

Hamilton's color rose; and, after a little pause, in which he carefully
considered what he had said, he replied, "No, I do not deny having said
something like this one day when Trevannion and I had fallen out; but
how much it was more than a momentary fit of anger our long friendship
ought to decide. Trevannion, we have been friends too long for such a
silly thing as this to separate us. I am very sorry it should ever have
escaped my lips; but if every thing we say in a moment of impatience and
vexation were repeated and minded, there would be very little friendship
in the world. Come, Trevannion, shake hands, and forget it for auld lang
syne, as I will do when any one brings such a tale to me."

As Hamilton spoke, his eye rested on Norman, fired with indignation,
and lighted a second on the principal offender, but no longer, for he
did not wish to draw Louis into notice.

"It may seem a little nonsensical matter to you, Hamilton," said
Trevannion, putting his hand behind him; "but these little things
exhibit more than the greatest professions. I am not too lazy to
cure myself of old habits, if you are."

"I never make professions," said Hamilton, proudly; "and I have done."

He was turning away, when a sudden motion from Jones arrested him.
Jones had been standing silently by Trevannion, and now, leaping over
a desk, seized Louis, and dragged him in the centre of the group, to
the great astonishment of both himself and his brother, exclaiming:

"Here's the offender, the tell-tale, the hypocrite, the meek good boy,
so anxious of Ferrers' reputation!"

"What do you want with me?" exclaimed Louis angrily, struggling to free
himself from his captor.

"Hands off! Leave him alone, Jones," shouted Reginald. "What's all
this about?"

"Do let him go," said Hamilton. "Can't you let him alone?"

"He's the traitor, Hamilton."

Hamilton could not deny it, for it could have been no one else.

"Well, it is past, and the punishment he has in his own feelings will
be enough," he said. "Let him alone."

"Louis, _you_ haven't been telling tales and making mischief?"
cried Reginald.

"I don't know," said Louis. "I said something to Mrs. Paget, I believe--I
didn't know there was any harm. Hamilton didn't say he didn't want any
thing said about it."

"_Didn't say!_" echoed Jones, scornfully.

Hamilton's look was more in reproach than anger. Louis felt struck to
the heart with shame and anger; but so much had he lately been nursed
in conceit and self-sufficiency, that he drove away the better impulse;
and, instead of at once acknowledging himself in the wrong and begging
pardon, he stood still, endeavoring to look unconcerned, repeating,
"I didn't mean any harm."

"Oh, Louis!" exclaimed Reginald, reproachfully, "I didn't think
you could."

"Let the boy go, Jones," said Hamilton, trying to remove the grasp
from Louis' shoulders.

"Not so fast, an't please your majesty," said Jones: "I like to see
hypocrites unmasked. Here, gentlemen, forsooth, here in this soonified
youth, the anxious warden of Ferrers' reputation, you see the young
gentleman who not only tells the story, but gives the name of the
party concerned to a dear, good, gossiping soul--"

"Gently, gently there, Jones," remarked Norman.

"A gossiping old soul," repeated Jones, "who'd have the greatest
delight in retailing the news, with decorations and additions, all
over the kingdom with the greatest possible speed."

"I don't believe a word of that, Jones," said Reginald.
"It is impossible!"

"What! is it impossible?" asked Jones, giving Louis a shake.

"What business have you to question me?"

"Did you?" repeated Jones, with another shake.

"Fair questioning, Jones," cried Reginald. "No coercion, if you please."

"Hold him back, Mason, if you please. Norman, will you hold him back?
Now, Louis, if you don't answer I'll give you a thrashing."

"You and I are friends, Mortimer," said Salisbury, jumping off the
desk and coming close up to Reginald; "but I mean to have fair play
in this matter. He shan't be hurt--but, if you interfere till they've
done questioning him, I shall help them to hold you back."

"Don't meddle with it, Salisbury," said Hamilton; "it's nobody's affair."

"Nobody's affair, indeed!" exclaimed Frank. "Here we've been making a
_cher ami_, a _rara avis_, or something or other of this boy, because he
professed to be something superior to us all--and now, when we find
he has been telling tales of all of us, we are told it's _nobody's
affair_. He's been obtaining credit upon false pretences. We're the
strongest party, and we'll do what we please."

Reginald restrained himself with a violent effort, and Jones proceeded.

"Now, sir, answer directly--is this impossible?"

Louis felt very much inclined to cry, but he replied without tears
very reluctantly, "Mrs. Paget would make me tell her some things--she
had heard almost all from others. I don't know how the name slipped
out; I didn't mean to tell, I am sure."

"WHAT?" said Hamilton; "you tell _that_ story, Louis!"

Louis felt that Hamilton despised him; and perhaps, had they known
all the circumstances relative to the Heronhurst disclosure, the clamor
would not have been so great; so much evil is done by repeating a small
matter, exaggerated, as these repetitions usually are, according to the
feelings of the speaker. But in every case now bearing so unexpectedly
down upon him, had Louis, thoughtless of himself, been less anxious for
admiration, he would not have committed himself; had he not attracted
Norman's attention by his folly and conceit, the circumstance of his
having disclosed the name of the offender, at Heronhurst, would, most
probably, not only have been unknown to his school-fellows, but to
Norman also.

"Oh, Hamilton, I didn't tell all the story!" he exclaimed.

"No, only just enough to appear magnanimous," said Frank.

"Seeing that such is the case," continued Jones, "it cannot be a
matter of great astonishment, that the same meek crocodile should
also deliver to the same tender mercy various particulars of minor
import respecting sundry others of his school-fellows; among which,
we discover the private conversation of an intimate and too indulgent
friend. Upon my word, young gentleman, I've a great mind to make you
kiss Ferrers' shoes. Where's Ferrers?"

Jones turned round with his victim towards the door, perceiving that
Ferrers was not in the room, but neither Hamilton nor Reginald would
permit matters to proceed further.

"Let him go," said Norman; "it is not worth while taking so much trouble
about it. You know whom you have to deal with, and will be careful."

"Thanks to you," said Hamilton in a tone of the most cutting irony.

He released Louis, and stood still till he saw him safely in the
playground, whither he was followed by the hisses and exclamations
of his inquisitors, and then turned in the opposite direction to
the class-room.

"Mr. Hamilton!" exclaimed Norman, "may I ask what your words meant
just now?"

"You may," said Hamilton, turning round and eyeing the speaker from
head to foot, with the most contemptuous indifference. "You are at
liberty to put whatever construction you please upon them; and perhaps
it will save trouble if I inform you at once that I never fight."

"Then, sir," said Norman, whose anger was rising beyond control,
"you should weigh your words a little more cautiously, if you are
so cowardly."

Hamilton deigned no reply, and proceeded to the class-room, where
he shut himself up, leaving the field clear for Reginald, who,
before long, was engaged in a pitched battle with Norman.

Louis retreated to his play-fellows who were yet unconscious of
his disgrace with the higher powers; and, after playing for a little
while, wandered about by himself, too uneasy and sick at heart to
amuse himself. He found now, alas! that he was alone; that he had
lost all pleasure in holy things; and, conscious of his falling away,
he was now afraid to pray,--foolish boy. And thus it is--Satan tempts
us to do wrong, and then tempts us to doubt God's willingness to
forgive us, in order that, being without grace and strength, we may
fall yet deeper.

As Louis wandered along, he heard sounds familiar enough to him,
which portended a deadly fray, and when he came upon the combatants,
he discovered that one of them was his own brother. He knew it was
useless to attempt to stop the fight, and he wandered away again,
and cried a little, for he thought that something would happen, and
he and Reginald would be placed together in some unpleasant situation;
and he dreaded Dr. Wilkinson's hearing of either affair.

I must be excused for stopping my story to remark here, that in this
world, it is certain that we have great influence on one another, and
that for this influence we are responsible. Had Louis' school-fellows
acted more kindly, endeavoring to set before him the fault of tattling,
the effect would have been to raise a feeling of gratitude in his mind,
which would have been far more effectual in preventing the recurrence
of the fault, than the plan of repudiation they had adopted. Had they,
even after a day or two's penance, given him an opening into their
good graces, he would not have felt, as he did, that he had lost his
character, and it was "no use caring about it," and so gone from bad
to worse, till his name was associated with those of the worst boys
in the school. It may be said, How can school-boys be expected to have
so much consideration? but this a school-boy may do. He may mentally
put himself in the position of the delinquent, and considering how he
would wish to be treated, act accordingly.

Every thing seemed to go wrong with Louis that day. The Herodotus
that Hamilton was to have heard, was scarcely looked at; and Louis
lost two or three places in his class. Hamilton never noticed him,
and even Reginald was offended with him. Louis tried to brave it out,
and sung in a low tone, whistled, and finally, when he was roughly
desired to be quiet, walked into the school-room, and finished his
evening with Casson and Churchill.



CHAPTER XIX

  "Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good
   manners."--1 Cor. xv. 32.


For the next few days Louis was regularly sent to Coventry, and
though Hamilton took no part in any thing that was said against him,
his manner had so entirely changed, and his tone was so cold when he
addressed or answered him, that Louis needed no further demonstration
to feel assured of the great difference in the feeling with which he
was regarded. Clifton alone remained unchanged, but he was so much
absorbed in his dear classics that he had hardly time to notice that
any thing was the matter: and as Reginald, thoroughly disappointed,
was also highly displeased with his brother, Louis was either thrown
entirely upon his own resources, or driven to seek the society of the
lower school; and, as he was in a very unhappy state, and could not
bear to be left alone, he naturally chose the latter. For the first
two days he struggled to assume an independent air, and, changing his
place of his own accord from Hamilton to Clifton, talked incessantly,
though nearly unheeded by the latter, to show how perfectly well able
he was to do his own business without assistance. Hamilton missed him,
and glanced down the table with a gaze of mingled disappointment and
displeasure. A few words from him might have recalled Louis, but they
were not spoken, and the only impression conveyed to the poor truant
was, that the friend he most cared about, in common with the rest,
considered him beneath his notice.

The third evening some affair was to be taken into consideration, of
which the proceedings were intended to be kept very secret. Louis was
sitting by Clifton, when Trevannion, who was to open the business,
entered with a folded paper and a pencil in one hand, and took his
place at the head of the long table. He looked down the table, and
his eyes meeting Louis', he laid down his pencil, and taking up a
book, began, or pretended to begin, to read.

"Hey! What's that, Trevannion?" asked Salisbury. "Are we to be prepared
with a choice quotation from Thucydides, or is it a hint that we are to
remember duty first and pleasure afterwards?"

"Rather," said Frank, "that some people have long ears and tongues."

"Perhaps," said Trevannion, looking over the top of his book,
"Louis Mortimer will have the civility to hasten his studies
this evening, as we have pressing business to perform."

"And why need I prevent it?" said Louis, crimsoning.

"Simply for this reason," said Trevannion, "that we do not choose
to have every thing that passes our lips this night carried over the
country; therefore, Master Louis, we can dispense with your company."

"Without so much circumlocution, either," said Jones. "We like your
room better than your company just now, Louis Mortimer; so please
to decamp."

"Evaporate!" said Meredith.

"I have my lessons to learn," said Louis.

"Is there any moral or physical impossibility in your lessons being
learned in the school-room?" asked Smith.

"I don't choose."

"Don't choose!" repeated Jones. "We'll see about that. Do you choose
to go quietly, or to be turned out, eh?"

"You have no right to do it," exclaimed Louis. "I have as much right
to be here as you."

"Ho, ho!" exclaimed Jones. "You'll find might is right here, my pretty
young gentleman. Salisbury, will you have the kindness to put the door
between us and his impertinence?"

"The procacity of the juvenile is progressing," remarked Frank.

Hamilton was not in the room, and there was no one to assist
Reginald in his resistance to the numbers by whom he was soon
overpowered, and in a few minutes, in spite of his exertions,
he found himself turned out with Louis, whom he had vainly
endeavored to defend.

Boiling with fury, Reginald at first attempted to kick open the door,
and then, being called to his senses by the interference of the usher
in the room, walked into the playground, and getting in at one of the
class-room windows, opened the door to Louis before his antagonists
had recovered from their surprise.

There was another scuffle, which was at length settled by the usher's
taking Louis' side, and desiring him to go in; but Louis found the study
so thoroughly uncomfortable, that in a few minutes he returned to the
school-room, and seated himself, in a restless, idle mood, by Casson.

The idle conversation of an idle, uprincipled boy is sure to be of a
hurtful description, and after Casson had heard Louis' grievances, and
condoled with him in the fashion of encouraging him in all that was bad,
the discourse fell upon Casson's last school, and many things Louis heard
and learned of which he had remained, till then, in blissful ignorance.
One or two ushers usually sat with the boys in the evening. One of these
was an elderly man, uncouth and ungainly in person, and possessed of a
very unfortunate temper, that was irritated in every possible manner by
those whose duty it was to have soothed the infirmities and considered
the trials of one whose life was spent in their service. Louis had felt
a great pity for the poor solitary man who never seemed to have a friend,
and now and then had spared a few minutes of his play-time to talk to
him, and would ask to be allowed to cut the pencil that was employed so
constantly in ruling the ciphering books; and when his flowers were in
bloom, a half-open rosebud was usually presented to Mr. Garthorpe to
put in his button-hole on Sunday morning. The poor usher loved Louis
as warmly as any one else in that house, nor would he have believed
that "that good lad," as he called him, could have spent a great part
of an evening in laughing at practical jokes played off on him, though
Louis could not yet be prevailed upon to take part in them.

The next few days were spent as might be expected. Louis had now put
himself under the guidance of some of the worst boys in the school,
and the consequence was (for the downward path is easy) the neglect of
all that was good, and the connivance at, if not actual participation
in all that was wrong. His place was lost, his lessons so ill prepared,
that, as formerly, he was kept in day after day, and Casson, his chief
adviser, persuaded him that Mr. Danby was unjust and tyrannical, and
instigated him to impertinence as a retaliation. Louis was miserable,
for miserable must he be who sins against light.

It was not long before Dr. Wilkinson became aware of a change in Louis'
conduct, and he took an early opportunity of speaking very seriously to
him on the subject. Louis was very humble, and longed to throw open all
his troubles to his master, the only person who had spoken kindly and
sensibly to him since his disgrace, yet foolishly afraid to declare the
whole truth to him, especially as, by the doctor's recommendation to him
to follow the example of his friends Hamilton and Clifton, he found that
his master was not aware that Hamilton was so much displeased with him.
Unhappily, Dr. Wilkinson did not know of Louis' intimacy with Casson,
nor had Casson been long enough with him to enable him to know more of
him than as an idle, troublesome dunce. The doctor's admonitions were
so far beneficial to Louis, that besides producing decidedly better
behavior for a few days, they were instrumental in restraining him
afterwards from the commission of many things which might have been
both hurtful to his well-doing and future peace of mind; but unassisted
by prayerful efforts on Louis' part, they could go no further than this;
and as he had not strength of mind to shake off his evil companions, he
soon fell back into much of his idle, giddy habits, and was classed with
some of the worst boys by those of the upper school who had formerly so
unwisely flattered and spoiled him. Oh, had they known how often his sad,
restless, though at times reckless mind, yearned for a little kindness
from them, that he might feel that every chance of retrieving their
esteem had not gone! Once, after standing some time by Hamilton, he
ventured to ask if he were still offended with him. Hamilton coldly
disclaimed any idea of offence, and declining all discussion on the
matter, hinted that Louis' conduct was too disreputable to be noticed.
Louis turned from him with a proud resolve never to speak to Hamilton
again. Hamilton's conscience smote him when he saw him a short time
after in company with Casson and Harris, whispering and laughing in a
corner, at no good, assuredly; but though he inwardly felt that he had
forced Louis, in some measure, to take refuge with these boys, he was
too proud to stoop from his throne of dignity to save him.

That day, when the boys returned from their walk, they entered at the
back of the playground from a lane, on the opposite side of which lay
some fields belonging to Dr. Wilkinson, and close on the edge of the
field nearest to the ditch bounding the lane, were some out-houses,
consisting of a cow-house, stables, and barn. As the lane was public
property, the boys were forbidden to wander beyond the boundary of
their playground, which on this side was a high wall, a wooden door
shutting out all communication with any thing beyond. Notwithstanding
the prohibition regarding this lane, there were now and then excursions
over the wall in the direction of the cottage of an old woman, who kept
a small day-school, and sold bull's-eyes and gingerbread, with other
dainties of a doubtful description, and who was, more than all, willing,
for "a consideration," to perform any hazardous errand for the young
gentlemen. Other sallies of a still more doubtful character occasionally
took place, and Dr. Wilkinson felt sure that his orchard had been robbed
more than once, though by what hands he did not always discover. On this
day the boys had just entered from the lane, and, as the ushers had not
been careful in seeing the door closed, it stood open for some time,
while several of the boys availed themselves of the crowd of their
school-fellows near it to slip out on their various errands to old
Mary Simmons. Louis had been collecting mineralogical specimens during
his walk, all of which he had consigned to the depths of a large green
baize bag which he carried with him. He stopped a few minutes near
the gate to talk about his treasures to Clifton, who had been walking
with him, but the concourse becoming rather greater than Clifton found
convenient, he presently moved away, and Louis was following him, his
bag in one hand and two unpromising-looking stones in the other, when
Casson arrested him with,

"I say, Louis, what a famous bag--lend it us a minute. I'm going to
old mother Simmons's; it would hold half her shop."

"There are stones in it," said Louis, drawing back.

Casson verbally execrated the stones, and, declaring it was of no
consequence, snatched the bag out of Louis' hand and ran away.

Rather startled by this abrupt manner of proceeding, Louis followed
Casson to the verge of the lane, and waited there till he came back.

"I haven't eaten your bag, you see, but I can't spare it till we get in."

"But are the stones there?" said Louis.

"To be sure; what do you suppose I've done with them? What a famous
receptacle! I say, Louis, did you ever see the inside of the stable
over the way?"

"No--I am not very fond of stables."

"But I suspect there's something worth seeing there," said Casson;
and he proceeded to tell Louis, under a promise of the strictest
secrecy, in a manner so exceedingly vulgar and improper that I do
not choose to write it, that he believed that the doctor kept his
winter apples in the loft of that stable, and concluded by hinting
that some of them meant to find them out and help themselves. "We
used to do it regularly at old Stennett's, where I went before,
Louis," he continued. "It's such fun: you must lend us your green
bag, and come with us."

"Oh! Casson, how can you think such a thing of me!" exclaimed Louis,
shrinking back.

The exclamation was so loud that Casson laid his hand upon his mouth
with a muttered angry ejaculation.

"One would think I had spoken of breaking open a house," said Casson.

"It's stealing," said Louis, in a tone of anger.

"Nonsense."

"I tell you, Casson, it is--don't talk to me any more about it--I
wish I had never known you!"

Casson burst out laughing. "What a ninny you are!" he exclaimed.
"You are as easily frightened as a bird with a pop-gun. And now,
I suppose, you will go with this nice little story to some good
friend and make something interesting and romantic out of nothing."

"Is it _really_ nonsense?" said Louis, after a pause. "Tell me,
Casson, truly, did you mean nothing just now?"

"Nothing, upon honor," said the unprincipled boy. "I wanted to see
you horrified."

Louis looked doubtfully at him. "Well, please give me my bag."

"What a hurry you are in!--you must wait till I've unloaded."

Louis followed him to the school-room, but, Casson's crowded desk not
holding all the contents of the bag, he was obliged, notwithstanding his
anxiety, to wait for his property for a day or two, at the expiration of
which time it was returned to him, and borrowed the next day for another
expedition to Mary Simmons.



CHAPTER XX.

  "Open rebuke is better than secret love."


It now wanted little more than three weeks to the holidays.
Sticks for notching were in great request, and "days" cut in
paper were fastened to the testers of the several beds, to mark
more securely the weary time that must elapse before the joyful
breaking-up. Reginald and Louis had jointly decorated theirs
with an elegant drawing of Dashwood Priory, with a coach and
four in the distance, which drawing would remain uninjured till
even the last of the twenty-eight strips of paper had been detached,
when the owners tore the remainder for excess of joy. The subjects
for examination had already been given out, and those who had any
interest at stake had already commissioned Maister Dunn for candles,
and begun to rise early and sit late, or as late us was allowed, at
their various studies. It was with some little dismay that Louis
looked down the long list of subjects for the examination of his
class, for he felt that, though (thanks to Hamilton at first,
and latterly some degree of perseverance on his own part) he had
made some progress during the half-year: his friend Clifton's
indefatigable industry had placed him so far first, that it
would be almost impossible to hope for any advantage.

Hamilton was now busily engaged in the composition of a prize poem
in Latin, besides the many other things with which (to use his own
expression) he found it necessary "to cram himself"; for, however
easy, comparatively, he had found his post the preceding half-year,
he had now competitors sufficiently emulous and talented in Norman
and Frank Digby--the latter of whom had shown a moderate degree of
diligence during the half-year, and now, exerting to the utmost the
great powers with which he was gifted, bid fair, if not to distance
all his rivals, at least to claim the lion's share of the honors
held out.

As Hamilton scarcely allowed himself time to run once round the
playground in the day, it cannot be supposed that even had he
condescended to notice Louis he would have found much time to
attend to him. More than once, however, he looked rather anxiously
down the long table where Louis now sat (Reginald having insisted
on his leaving the school-room and his companions to their fate),
and, apparently satisfied that he was doing something, resumed his
own work. Louis' mind was more than ever occupied now--every moment
was taken up with lessons of one kind or another. The first waking
thoughts, which were formerly, at least, a consciousness of the
presence of his Maker, were now so mixed up with Latin verses,
English translations, French plays, ancient and modern history,
that a very short time sufficed for his cold prayer--and then
poured in the whole flood of daily business, only checked by as
cold a semblance of a petition at night. The former half-year the
case, though similar in many respects, differed in the greatest
essential. Louis was not less diligent than now, but he was more
prayerful; he had not more time, but he used it better; he did not
leave his religion for a few minutes at night and morning, and forget
it for the rest of the day; he did not shut up his Bible, and scarcely
look at it from Sunday to Sunday. He who waits closely upon his God
is sure to be enabled to serve him in the beauty of holiness: and
those who thought at all about Louis could not but be struck with
the wide difference between the gentle, humble, happy-looking boy,
who bore so meekly what was unkindly done and spoken, and the equally
industrious, but fevered, restless, anxious, and now rather irritable
being, who toiled on day after day almost beyond his strength.

The first day of the examination, Charles Clifton and Louis were
walking together, between school-hours, settling the order in which
their labors were to be undertaken. As they turned the corner of
the playground, near the kitchen, they encountered Harris, Casson,
and Churchill, who, with Sally Simmons and her basket of apples,
blocked up a narrow passage between the side of the house and the
kitchen-garden wall.

"Aint they beauties, Louis?" said Churchill, at the sight. The mention
of apples sufficiently disturbed Louis in the present company, and he
made a violent effort to get past Harris, who was, however, so much
engaged in choosing an apple from the basket, that he did not move
an inch. Finding it useless at present to attempt the pass, Louis was
turning back, when Sally offered the basket to him, with "Mathter Louis,
you mutht hide it; I donnoh what mathter would thay."

"There are plenty more where they came from, Sally," said Casson.

"Here'th a nithe one, thir," said Sally, looking in Louis' alarmed
face, and pointing to one of the apples.

"They are not yours to give, Sally," said Louis, stepping back against
the wall. "Harris, Casson, Churchill, don't take them--it's dishonest."

Sally protested in great dismay, that it was only one or two, and
Dr. Wilkinson wouldn't mind.

"You know he would, Sally, or why did you say I was to hide it?"
said Louis.

"Do you mean to tell him you have given away any?" asked Clifton.

"Not she; she knows better--don't you, Sally?" said Casson.

"You are not to be trusted," said Clifton.

"Mathter Louis, you won't be going and making mithchief?" said the girl.

"If he does," ejaculated Harris, "I'll--"

What he would do Louis never heard, for he had by this time freed himself
from the basket and run away, followed more leisurely by Clifton.

"I am sure," he said, when Clifton rejoined him, "that Sally Simmons
ought not to be employed here; she is always doing forbidden things
for the boys."

"If you know of any thing wrong in her, why don't you tell Dr. Wilkinson?"
said Charles.

"The next thing I know of, I shall. But I should get the boys into such
a scrape," said Louis.

"If they are bad boys they deserve it," replied Clifton; "my father
says, if we conceal evil, when we may remove it by mentioning it, we
make ourselves partners in it."

"The boys would call me a sneak if I did," said Louis.

Charles looked at Louis in simple wonderment. "That wouldn't hinder
you from doing what is right, would it? What does it matter what such
fellows as those think or say?"

"Yes, but I shouldn't like to get them into a scrape," repeated Louis,
uneasily.

"Why don't you tell your friend Hamilton of it, and ask his advice?"

"Oh, Clifton! surely you know that Hamilton won't speak to me."

"No, I didn't," said Clifton, in a tone of surprise. "Why not? he used
to be so fond of you."

"He's offended now," replied Louis, looking down.

"He doesn't like me, I know," said Charles; "but he used to be so very
fond of you."

"_Used_--that's long ago," said Louis, with a suppressed sigh.

"Well, but," remarked Clifton, without showing the least curiosity
to discover the cause of Louis' quarrel with Hamilton, "if you can't
consult him, ask your brother."

"I know very well what Reginald would do; he wouldn't think it right
to tell of them, or of her either."

"Then, Louis, make up your own mind."

"It's not so easily done," replied Louis; "oh, Charlie, I wish I were
like you!"

"Oh, why?" said Charles, gravely; "you have a great many more friends,
and are much better liked than I am. I have no friend but you--not that
I care at all about it, but I should think you would."

"Yes; but I wish I _could_ make up my mind. I am not half so happy
as you are, for I cannot make up my mind to do a thing because it is
right. You only think about that and do it at once; and because I have
so many friends, and even care about pleasing those I do not like, I am
always getting into scrapes, and always doing wrong. I think there never
was anybody so bad as I am. I wish papa hadn't sent me to school."

"I like you very much," said Clifton; "and I am sure you have done me
good--on Sunday, at least."

"Ah, it is much easier to know and talk of what is right than to do it,"
replied Louis, sighing very deeply. "Oh, _domum, dulce domum!_ But there
is Reginald, and I must go and ask him a question."

       *       *       *       *       *

For several days after this occurrence, Louis was too busy, and too much
with his brother, to see much of his evil advisers; and very pleased in
having, as he imagined, thus got rid of them. The examination was going
on in earnest; Louis had now nearly regained his old place, and was, on
the whole, favorably reported of: but Clifton was not to be overcome.
Thoroughly prepared, and thoroughly understanding all he had learned,
he kept the first place undaunted by any difficulty, and apparently
unexcited by the crisis; at least, Louis remarked to Reginald, that
Clifton was so cool, he didn't seem to care whether he won or not.
He had a little more color than usual, and the only beauty his face
possessed--his intelligent eyes--wore perhaps a keener and more anxious
expression, but this was not noticed by a casual observer; nor was
the violent palpitation of the heart, when the chances ran so closely
between him and the next, at the close of a two days' struggle for the
mathematical prize. There were few that congratulated him on his almost
unparalleled success; but few that did not respect his ability and
steadiness. Never once, from the first day he came to school, had he
on any occasion incurred the displeasure of his masters; and yet no
one cared for him, for he had lived only for himself.

But to return to Louis. The mathematical contest was finished, and there
was a little lull before the second class would be again called on, and
Louis determined to spend this little interval of leisure in giving a
finishing scrutiny of the history likely to be in demand. Full of his
purposes, he burst into the class-room, where only Hamilton and Reginald
were, the former writing very fast, and the latter looking carefully
over an English essay he had just finished. Louis flew to the shelves
and ransacked them in vain: almost every book he wanted was gone.
At length, in despair, he asked Reginald if he knew who had Rollin's
History. Reginald absently replied in the negative, as he noted down
something in the page he was reading.

"The books are always gone," said Louis, pettishly. "I suppose Charlie
has it. He had it yesterday--he might as well let me have it to-day."

"Trevannion has it, I think," said Reginald.

"You may have mine," said Hamilton.

Louis stood still; he wanted the book very much, but was too proud
to accept the offer.

"It is in my room," continued Hamilton, without looking up.

"Thank you, I don't want _yours_," replied Louis, proudly, walking
out of the room.

As he entered the school-room he confronted Dr. Wilkinson, who, having
given orders for a brisk walk, was inquiring for Hamilton. Louis had
scarcely taken his hand from the lock when Hamilton abruptly opened it
and came quickly out of the room.

"You are the person I want," said the doctor, laying his hand on his
arm. "Hamilton, I want you to come out with me this bright day."

"To-day, sir?" said Hamilton, whose countenance expressed any thing
but delight at the proposition.

"And why put off till to-morrow what may be done to-day so well?"
said the doctor, smiling. "I suppose you have hopes of the weather
making a walk impracticable to-morrow: but I must have you all out,
or some of you will be laid up before you go home."

His eye fell upon Clifton, who was sitting with his elbows on a desk
close by, his fingers pushed through his hair, wholly absorbed in
"_Gibbon's Decline and Fall_." Dr. Wilkinson addressed him twice,
but, producing no impression, he removed one of the props of his
head, and turned his face towards himself.

"What are you doing there?"

"History, sir," said the boy, getting up mechanically, and looking
very much as if he were not pleased at the interruption.

"I hear your name is very high in the list to-day."

"Yes, sir," replied Charles, gravely; and, as the doctor released him,
he settled down precisely in the same attitude, without showing the
least satisfaction at the notice he had received.

Hamilton turned away with an impatient gesture.

"Are you going immediately, sir?" he said. "Can you spare me a
few minutes?"

"I shall be at the garden-gate in a quarter of an hour from this time,"
replied the doctor.

"I will not fail, sir," said Hamilton; and, crossing the room in
immense strides, he flew up stairs, and returned almost immediately
with a large volume under his arm. He made some inquiries of
Trevannion's whereabouts, and, learning that he was in the playground,
went in search of him. He very soon found him, walking briskly
up and down with Norman, making extracts from an old book in his
hand, and questioning his friend alternately. Hamilton and he had
scarcely exchanged a word since their quarrel, and it was with some
surprise that he saw Hamilton present himself, and still more, when
a request was made that he would exchange books.

"I particularly want this just now," he replied.

"This is Rollin," said Hamilton. "I should feel obliged if you would
exchange copies."

Trevannion opened his eyes wider, but after a second's pause, he took
Hamilton's and gave him his book in exchange, without any comment.

"What a strange whim!" remarked Norman, when Hamilton had left them,
after shortly expressing his thanks.

"What can he mean, Norman?" said Trevannion. "This is his own, too."

"Perhaps some new way of trying to make up an old quarrel,"
said Norman, sneeringly.

"I don't think so," replied Trevannion; "he would not have tried
so odd a plan--no, there's something deeper than that."

"Are the histories alike?" asked Norman.

"I believe so," answered Trevannion; "if there's any advantage, I am
sure to have it, at any rate."

"You have a very high opinion of him."

"VERY," said Trevannion. "If Hamilton did mean this to make up our
quarrel, I am sure I shall be willing."

"Upon my word," said Norman, "this is dignity."

Trevannion made no answer, for something had attracted his attention
on the opposite side of the playground.

"Holloa! Norman, look there!" he exclaimed.

"Where? what! oh, horror!" cried Norman.

"There they are--they're hid; now, there they are again!--now look,
who is it? Stand behind this tree a minute--now let us look out."

Obedient to his instructions, Norman looked, and saw three boys drop
down one after another from the branch of a tree, that had evidently
assisted their descent from the playground wall, and then run across
the playground.

"Who are they?" said Trevannion, putting up his eye-glass (which,
gentle reader, be it known he carried for use). "One is Churchill,
I'm sure! Who's that long fellow? Why, it's Harris, isn't it? It
can't be, surely!"

"It is," said Norman; "and the other's Casson."

"I'm sure they are at no good," said Trevannion; "I shall make
a note of this remarkable occurrence."

So saying, he made a memorandum of the circumstance in his
pocket-book, and had just finished when the boys poured out
cloaked and great-coated, and informed him of the doctor's
desires.

The reader will be at no loss to discover Hamilton's reason for
exchanging the books. As Louis was out, he took Dr. Wilkinson's
with him into the class-room, and sat down to finish the six last
words of his poem; and then, folding it neatly up, enveloped it in
half a sheet of writing-paper. He was just pressing the seal upon
the wax, when his watch, which he had laid open before him, warned
him that the last minutes of the quarter of an hour had arrived.
He just pushed his things together, and left them on the table;
and snatching up his hat as he ran through the hall, scarcely
arrived at the garden-gate in time to save his character for
punctuality.

It so happened that Casson was Louis' companion during the walk,
and entertained him with a flowing account of all the vulgar tricks
he had been in the habit of playing at his former school. Louis could
not help laughing at them; nor would his vanity allow him to refrain
from boasting of--what he had before been properly ashamed--his own
share in some of Casson's late exploits. So afraid was he of seeming
inferior, even to a person he despised, and in those things which his
better feelings taught him equally to despise. Casson inwardly laughed
at Louis' boasted feats, as he had always done to others when Louis was
out of hearing; but he now quizzed him, stimulating him, by applauding
his spirit and ingenuity; and by the time they had reached the house,
Louis was in a thoroughly giddy humor, ready to try, at the risk of
disgrace, the new schemes to which he had just been listening.

The boys stayed in the playground till the dinner-bell rang, which
was a few minutes after they had entered the playground; but these
few minutes sufficed for Louis, in his present humor, to get himself
in a scrape, the consequences of which, at the time, he certainly did
not contemplate. He had been complaining to Casson, in the beginning
of their walk, that he could not get "Rollin's History," and, as Casson
persisted that it was in the study, Louis took him there to show him
his error, when they returned home.

"Ha, ha! Mr. Louis Mortimer, who's right?" cried Casson,
holding up the book.

"That can't be; I wonder how it got there," said Louis,
approaching the table in a mystified manner. "These must
be Trevannion's things, I suppose; only Hamilton was writing
here; and here is his dictionary,--I wonder what he wanted
with it--he never said he had it--he let me suppose Trevannion
had it--kind of him--I suppose he wanted to prevent my getting
it; but I'll have it now--he's got one of his own."

"I'd be even with him," said Casson; "what a heap of things! See,
here's an exercise of his; or a letter, I suppose--it's too neat
for an exercise. A good thick letter--sealed, too. I'll tell you
what, Louis--"

Accordingly, what Casson did tell Louis was, what a "capital dodge"
it would be to abstract Hamilton's sealed packet, and to leave another
folded like it in its place.

"We often used to trick the boys at old Stennett's with their
exercises," continued he; "they never wrote in books there--we
used to tear the leaves out of the exercise-books, and write on
them. It was such jolly fun to see them open the paper and find
nothing in it, or only some rubbish."

"How did you do it?" asked Louis.

"Oh, we doubled up a bit of an old exercise-book, and exchanged, that's
all!" replied Casson; "see, why here's half a sheet of paper, that'll
do for the cover; and now then, Louis, more paper--he'll never miss
it--that's it--fold it up just the size; how beautifully you have
done it!"

"But there's no seal," said Louis.

"He'll forget he sealed it," replied Casson; "oh, how jolly!--here's
a piece of sealing-wax--it is sealed with the top of a pencil-case."

"I have one just like that," said Louis; "oh, no; here's E. H. on
this--that won't do, Casson."

Casson presently relieved this difficulty by discovering Hamilton's
pencil-case; and the paper was quickly sealed, when Louis began to
doubt:

"But we don't know what it is, Casson."

"If it turns out to be any thing, send it by post, directed to him,
at his father's," said Casson; "he'll get it safely enough."

The dinner-bell rang loudly at this moment, and with a little laugh
at the idea of the oddity of sending it to Hamilton's home, and a
strong feeling of doubt as to the wisdom of his proceeding, Louis
hastily exchanged the packets, and ran out of the room. On his way
to the dining-room he paused--

"If it should be of any consequence, Casson," he said.

"Well, if it is, so much the better fun; he won't treat you so shabbily
another time."

"Ah, but--I don't want to revenge myself, and I don't like playing
tricks on Hamilton exactly, either: I think I must give it back."

"I thought you were such a dab at these kinds of things," said Casson,
sneeringly.

"What have I done with it now?" Louis exclaimed suddenly, as they
reached the dining-room door, after stopping a few seconds in the
hall to hang up his coat. "What can I have done with it? I must have
slipped it into my desk just now, when I put my Livy in."

He was not able to turn back then; and, in the mean time, Hamilton
had paid a hasty visit to the class-room, to collect his things,
and had locked up carefully the false packet; and Louis had not
courage to make any inquiries, though he hoped that he might have
found the right one, which, with all his care, he could not discover
himself. Louis had, in his hurry, left Rollin on the study-table, and
after school he ran into the room, and finding it in nearly the same
place where Hamilton had been guarding it for him, he carried it off,
and Hamilton, seeing the action, made no remark on the matter.

The next evening, the Latin poems were sent in to the doctor's study
for comparison, and Hamilton's blank counterfeit was titled on the
cover, and dispatched with a degree of nervous anxiety that certainly
would not have been called forth by a subject so empty. Louis was
in an agony of remorse, when the truth burst on him. His only hope
was, that Hamilton might have found the right packet. He heard the
speculations around him as to the probability of success, and saw
the last paper put into Norman's hand to be carried away, but he
dared not say any thing. He had never dreamt of the importance of
the paper he had so carelessly dropped or mislaid, and would have
given all he possessed to have remembered what he had done with it.

Nothing more was done that evening. Study had helped to drive away
the smaller qualms of conscience the day before; but he was now so
sick at heart, that he remained with his head on his hand doing
nothing, puzzling himself in vain to remember what he had done
with the poem.



CHAPTER XXI.


It was Saturday night when the manuscripts were delivered to the
doctor, and it was not till Monday that the absence of Hamilton's
poem was discovered. As much of Sunday as he was able, Louis spent
with Casson, trying to discover what could have become of the poem,
and in devising all manner of schemes for its recovery and restoration.
Little comfort he received from his tempter--Casson alternately laughed
at his fears, and blamed his cowardice--and, in order to escape this,
Louis affected to be indifferent to the consequences, concealing his
heaviness of heart under assumed mirth and unconcern. He had lately
spent many cold, careless Sabbaths, but one so utterly wretched as
this he could not remember.

The boys had just left the dining-room on Monday, after dinner, when
a summons to the doctor's study came for Hamilton. As this was not an
uncommon occurrence, Hamilton betrayed neither curiosity nor uneasiness,
but quietly gave a few directions to his little brother, and then
leisurely left the room. He was soon in the presence of Dr. Wilkinson,
Mr. James Wilkinson, and an old gentleman who had a day or two before
been examining his class, and who usually assisted in the half-yearly
examinations. The countenances of these gentlemen were not very
promising, and he instantly saw that something unpleasant might
be expected. Before the doctor lay a number of folded papers, which
Hamilton recognized as the poems under consideration, and in his
hand was a blank sheet of paper, the envelope of which had fallen
on the floor.

"Mr. Hamilton," said the doctor, "I have sent for you to explain
this strange affair. Pray can you tell me what was in this envelope?"
He stooped, and, picking up the paper as he spoke, handed it to Hamilton.

"My poem, sir," replied Hamilton, quietly.

"You are sure that is your writing?"

"Quite," said Hamilton, confidently.

"I have been able to discover nothing more than this," said the doctor,
with something like annoyance in his tone. "I do not know whether you
have been writing with invisible ink. This is a mistake, Hamilton,"
he added, turning the blank sheet in all directions. "Where is your
poem?"

"That in _my_ envelope, sir!" exclaimed Hamilton, reddening to the roots
of his hair. "In _my_ envelope!" he reiterated, taking up the envelope
and re-examining it in a state of tremulous excitement. "I _cannot_ have
made such a mistake--it is utterly impossible."

"I should say so--impossible, unconsciously, to make so great a mistake,"
said the old gentleman.

"And equally so, sir, to make it _consciously_," replied Hamilton.

"But where is the poem?" asked Dr. Wilkinson.

"I expected it was here," said Hamilton--"and, as it is not, I cannot
answer that question, sir." He again turned over the paper, but could
find no clue to the mystery.

"Is the paper the same as you used?" asked Mr. James.

"It is," replied Hamilton; "and the seal is my own, as well as
the writing."

"What is the seal?" asked Dr. Berry, the old gentleman.

"E.H. It belongs to this pencil-case," answered Hamilton, producing
his pencil-case. "I always carry it about with me."

"That's awkward again," said Dr. Berry, exchanging a look with Mr. James.

"Have you never left your pencil-case about lately, nor lent it to any
one?" asked Dr. Wilkinson.

Hamilton considered.

"I believe I left it with all my things on the class-room table
last Friday, when I went out with you, sir."

"Ah!" said Dr. Berry, "what did you leave there?"

"Some writing-paper, pens, a few books, and my poem, which I had
just finished."

"That was careless of you, Hamilton," said Dr. Wilkinson.

"I had only just sealed it in time to run after you, sir," replied
Hamilton; "and, as every one was out, I thought there could be no
harm in leaving them there till I returned."

"How much paper did you leave there?" asked Mr. James.

"About half a quire."

"_About_ half a quire; then, I suppose, you do not know whether
any of that paper was taken while you were away?"

"No, I do not," replied Hamilton. "If any one changed it, it must
have been then; as, after I came home, it was locked up in my own
writing-desk till Saturday evening."

"It might have been changed on the way," suggested Mr. James.

Hamilton was silent for a few seconds, when he answered:

"I do not think so; for I am sure this is my writing: I must
unwittingly have directed an empty packet."

"Unless," said Dr. Wilkinson, quietly, "some one has imitated
your writing?"

"I only know one who could," replied Hamilton, coloring; "and, I
am confident, he was not the party: besides, sir, I do not think
there was time, between Norman's departure and his return, to have
done it, and that was the only time any one would have had after
I had directed it. I did not direct it till Saturday evening."

"But you said the boys were all out at the same time with yourself;
and, in fact, I know they were: I saw them going in as we turned
into the playground," said Dr. Wilkinson. "Did no one stay at home?
Stay--_Friday_--Digby was at home; I remember he pleaded his cold."

Dr. Wilkinson looked down on the paper he held: there was a strong
expression of suspicion in his countenance. The other gentlemen
exchanged looks, and Mr. James remarked, that he considered Frank
the probable culprit.

"I am glad he does not hear you say so, sir," exclaimed Hamilton. "I
am sure Digby would sooner put his own on the fire! I'd trust Frank's
honor as much as my own; and, I am sure, sir," he added, turning to
Dr. Wilkinson, "_you_ know Frank too well."

To Hamilton's annoyance, Dr. Wilkinson did not reply immediately.

"Frank is too fond of practical jokes," he said, at last; "I wish I
could give him a lesson he would remember. He will never be cured till
it touches him severely."

"But Frank would not joke on this, sir," expostulated Hamilton.
"If he were not so high it might be so, but I'm sure it is not now."

"Well, there is no time now to consider of this any more," said
Dr. Wilkinson, getting up. "I could bring forward many instances
of Digby's disregard of feelings and appearances when his fancy
for joking interferes. Dr. Berry, will you be kind enough to attend
to these for me, this afternoon? I shall be glad to call upon you
on Wednesday for my second class, if you can spare me the day."

Dr. Berry signified his ready acquiescence; and Dr. Wilkinson turned
to Hamilton:

"It is just school-time," he said; "but I wish you, after school,
to make a search in every desk for your poem. I do not imagine it
is destroyed. Mr. James will assist you. In the mean time, in the
event of your poem not being discovered, you had better rewrite it
as well as you can; I will give you till nine o'clock on the last
morning."

Hamilton bowed, thanked his master, and retired, exceedingly
uncomfortable. His own loss was slight compared with the vexation
he felt at any suspicion of Frank's honor being raised. A very
different surmise would now and then try to rise in his own mind,
but was vigorously opposed as ungenerous in the extreme. An idea
of the real culprit never once occurred to him, nor to any other
person. The first class being disengaged that afternoon, Hamilton
employed himself with the new edition of his poem, but his thoughts
wandered; and, had it not been for a good memory and the force of
habitual concentration, he would have found it almost impossible
to resume a task he had considered as finished, in circumstances
so very disagreeable to him.

As soon as the business of the day was concluded Dr. Wilkinson
commanded every one to remain in his place, and then desired Hamilton
to begin the search, carefully refraining from mentioning the object
in quest. There was considerable excitement in the school when the
doctor's command was made known, and it was strictly enforced, that
no one should touch the desks till after the search had been made.

"Frank Digby, come here!" shouted the doctor from his post. "Did I not
desire that none of those desks should be touched at present?"

"I was only putting my slate away, sir," said Frank, in much amazement.

"I will not have your desk touched; stay here."

"What's in the wind?" muttered Jones, sulkily. "The magister's in
a splendid humor. What do you want in my desk, Hamilton?"

"A trick has been played on me," said Hamilton, hastily; "my poem has
been exchanged; but--" he added, hesitating, "I cannot bear this."

"Nonsense, Hamilton!" said Mr. James, who was turning over the contents
of Jones's desk. "There is nothing there."

"Stand back, and let Hamilton look, pray!" exclaimed Reginald Mortimer.
"What a shame it is!--you don't suspect _us_, Hamilton?"

"_To be sure not!_" said Hamilton, warmly; "but I am desired to do this."

"So much the better," said Salisbury; "you'll find mine locked, but here
are my keys: we'll go up to the doctor. I say, Hamilton, don't upset my
bottle of lemon kali, or my blue ink; you mightn't see them, perhaps,
among the other things."

Hamilton took the keys with some embarrassment, and the first class
moved in a body to the upper end of the room, where they remained
till every desk had been subjected to a fruitless ransacking.

Louis' state of mind may be easily imagined. He had guessed the reason
of the doctor's command the instant it was given; and had also heard
the few words that passed between Hamilton and his friends. Oh! what
would he have given that he had considered before he committed such
folly! He could not bear to face Hamilton, and yet he must be near him
when his own desk was examined, for he dared not move from his place.
He had looked carefully there himself, but still he was afraid it might,
by chance, be there. He hardly dared look round, for fear he should
betray his secret; and yet his distress sadly longed for vent. "I did
not mean to do any harm," was his reiterated thought; "I am sure, I
thought it was a letter--I did not mean it." And then he wished to
confess his fault; but, with his usual vacillation of purpose, he
deferred it, till he should see how things went. It did seem strange
that, with all the lessons he had had, he should have put off his
confession; yet he dared not, and tried to quiet his conscience with,
"I shall tell Hamilton alone;" and, "It's no use telling, when I can't
find the poem." But his trouble was tenfold increased when Hamilton
and Mr. James came near him, and finding his desk locked, inquired
who's it was, and where the keys were.

Hamilton remarked in a low tone, not aware that Louis was so near,
"I suppose for form's sake we must look, but I am sure, poor fellow,
he has nothing to do with it."

Louis just then handed his key; and, as Hamilton's hand came in contact
with his, he was struck by its cold clamminess, and just looking at him,
noticed the troubled expression, and the almost tearful eyes that were
fixed on him. He attributed Louis' anxiety to his natural timidity, as
well as to his having probably overheard the remark on himself; and his
heart smote him, for he still loved him, and had felt once or twice
lately, that he had not done his duty towards him.

The poem was not found. Louis ran out into the playground, despite the
cold and twilight, to cry; and hurried in again in a few minutes, for
fear of discovery. The members of the first class gathered round Hamilton
to learn the story and to condole with him, and even Trevannion made some
remark on the shamefulness of such a trick.

"I am sure, whoever gets the prize will not feel comfortable unless your
poem is found and compared," said Frank; "write away, Hamilton; no one
shall disturb you. I don't wonder Fudge was in such a passion."

Louis was very glad when bed-time came, and he could hide his tears and
misery under the bed-clothes. Reginald had been too busy to notice that
any thing was the matter with him; but Hamilton, occupied as he was, had
seen it, though Louis had kept out of his way as much as possible. He
dared not tell Reginald his trouble; and he felt afraid to pray--he did
not remember that, though our Heavenly Father knows all our thoughts and
wants, He requires that all our care and sin should be poured out before
Him. The Christian does not love sin; and when, through unwatchfulness
or neglect of prayer, he has been betrayed into the commission of it,
let him remember, that He alone can remove it and restore peace to his
wounded conscience, who has said, "Return, ye backsliding children, and
I will heal your backslidings."

       *       *       *       *       *

Louis got on very ill the next Wednesday, and Reginald, extremely vexed,
spoke very angrily to him. Louis answered as unkindly, and walked proudly
away from him to the other end of the school-room, where, in spite of
his abhorrence of such company, he was soon surrounded by his worst
companions. Hamilton was standing near Reginald at the time; he watched
Louis in his proud descent, and saw that, though he turned away with
an erect head and high words, his step soon grew more listless, and an
expression of indefinable weariness usurped the place of the independence
he had assumed.

"Louis is unwell, I am sure, Reginald," he said.

"He is well enough," said Reginald, abruptly; "but he is sadly altered:
I never saw a boy so changed. He is quite ill-tempered now, and so
horridly idle. Why, Hamilton, you'd never believe that in to-day's
examination in _Prometheus Vinctus_, he got down below Harris!--he's
positively at the bottom. He hardly answered any thing, and seemed
quite stupefied."

"The more reason to think he's not well," said Hamilton; "for, to my
certain knowledge, he would have stood an examination on Prometheus
better than that, a week after we came back. Why, Harris and Peters,
and half the rest, are not to be compared with him."

"I know it," said Reginald; "and that makes it the more vexatious.
It's bad enough to think that Clifton should get ahead of him,
but one may comfort one's self in the idea of his genius; but when
it comes to those donkeyfied ignorami, it is past endurance. He
has not tried a bit: I have seen him lately with his book before
him, dreaming about some wonderful story of some enchanted ass, or
some giantess Mamouka, I suppose; or imagining some new ode to some
incomprehensible, un-come-at-able Dulcinea. He is always shutting
himself up in his air-castles, and expecting that dry Latin and Greek,
and other such miserable facts, will penetrate his atmosphere."

"Don't be angry with him; something is the matter. You only drive
him to herd with those boys," said Hamilton. "Look there!--there
they are!--oh, Reginald! it is not right to leave him with them."

"Speak to him yourself, Hamilton," said Reginald, a little sobered.
"He will mind you. You have had a great deal to bear with him, but
I know you make allowances."

Hamilton did not reply, but he had determined on making the effort to
detach Louis from his evil counsellors, when the latter suddenly left
the room with Casson, and did not return till Hamilton had gone into
the class-room.

Casson was the only one to whom Louis could relieve his mind on the
subject that weighed him down so heavily--and he had, at the time
Hamilton was watching him so intently, been whispering some of his
fears, only to be laughed at. Suddenly he paused--"Casson, just come
with me; I think I recollect--yes, surely--"

He did not wait to conclude his sentence, but, pulling Casson into the
hall, sought his great-coat, dived to the bottom of the pocket, and,
to his great joy, drew forth Hamilton's poem.

"It's here! it's here! it's here!" he cried. "How could I have put it
here without knowing? Oh, my dear Casson, I am _so_ glad!"

"Well, what now?" said Casson, rudely. "What good is it? What do you
mean to do with it?"

"Give it back, of course--I think Hamilton will forgive me, and if not,
I _must_ give it back to him, and then, perhaps, I shall be happy
again; for I have not been happy for a long, long while: I have been
very wrong," he added, in a low, sorrowful tone.

"If ever I saw such a sap in my life," said Casson; "this comes of
all your fine boasting; a nice fellow you are--why you're afraid
of your own shadow! Do you know what you'll get if you give it back?"

"Whatever happens," said Louis, "I feel I have done wrong--wrong in
listening to you, too, Casson. Oh, if ever it please God to make me
happy again, I hope I shall be more careful! I have been afraid to
do right--I am afraid to think of all that has happened lately."

"I always thought you were a canting hypocrite," said Casson,
sneeringly. "I never see that you religious people do any better
than any one else. Go and get a thrashing, as you deserve, for
your cowardice, only don't tell any lies about me. Remember it
was all your own doing."

Casson opened the hall-door as he spoke, and ran into the playground,
where most of the boys had assembled, the weather having cleared a
little for the first time for the last two days.

Louis sat down on a chair to think what he should do, and the
long-restrained tears coursed slowly down his face. His first
and best thought was to go at once to Hamilton, acknowledge his
fault, and restore the poem. Then came the idea of renewed disgrace,
and his head sunk lower on his breast, and the parcel fell from his
powerless hands. So intense was his grief, that he was as unconscious
that Dr. Wilkinson passed through the hall while he sat there, as that
he had heard the conversation between himself and Casson; for, unknown
to them both, he had been in a recess of the hall, nearly covered by
the cloaks and coats, looking there for something in a little corner
closet. Louis at last took up the paper, and went to Hamilton's room;
but a servant was there, and he did not like to leave it. Next he
thought of the doctor's study, but he dared not venture to approach
it. At length, after wandering about from the bed-room to the
lass-room door several times, he ventured to peep into the latter
room, and, throwing the parcel in, ran to the playground as fast
as his feet could carry him.



CHAPTER XXII.

  "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law
   of Christ."--Gal. vi. 2.


As soon as Hamilton had decided that it was of no use following Louis,
he called his brother to him and marched with him into the class-room,
to explain, according to promise, some classical allusions that occurred
in his Latin grammar. Reginald took his arm, and several of the first
class, who saw them move, accompanied him, for the glass-door opening
at the moment, admitted more cold air than was agreeable to those who
did not feel inclined to visit the playground. They almost expected to
find the doctor in the study, as they knew he had been there a short
time before, but the sole occupant of the chamber was Frank Digby, who,
to the astonishment of all, was standing in a very disconsolate attitude
near the fireplace, leaning his head on the mantelpiece, and neither
moved nor spoke when they entered.

"Holloa, Momus!" exclaimed Reginald, "what's the row? as Salisbury
would say; only, more properly we might ask, in your case, what do
the tranquillity and genteel pensiveness of your demeanor denote?"

"We're going to have a change in the weather," said Jones.

"What's the matter, Frank?" asked Hamilton.

"Nothing," replied Frank, raising his head quickly, and endeavoring,
rather unsuccessfully, to smile, amid something that looked very
much like tears; at least, if we must not be allowed to hint at such
appearances, there was certainly much agitation in his countenance--so
unusual a phenomenon, that a dead silence followed the ghastly effort.

"Nonsense," said Hamilton, kindly; "you won't persuade me that nothing
is the matter, Frank."

"Nothing particular," said Frank, fidgeting with a penny that lay on
the mantelpiece; "only the doctor has been giving me a lecture for the
good of my morals, that's all."

"A lecture?" repeated Norman.

"What's been the matter, Frank?" said Reginald.

"A small moral discourse upon the sin and danger of practical jokes,"
said Frank, swallowing down such an evident degree of emotion as
convinced his auditors that the discourse had been no ordinary one.
"His hints were rather peculiar, Hamilton--too decided for so
quick-sighted a youth as myself. I don't wonder he has such a
horror of a joke; I should think the dear man never was guilty
of such a crime in his life himself; or he has a strong imagination;
or, perhaps, a bad opinion of your humble servant--all the same--the
cause doesn't much signify; the effect's what one looks at."

"Something dreadfully mysterious," said Reginald.

Hamilton was silent. He watched anxiously Frank's varying countenance,
the twitching of which, as well as the thick, quick tone in which he
spoke, betrayed great excitement.

"The fact is, I suppose, the doctor has reasons for his suspicions,"
continued Frank, still more quickly, while his face grew redder, and
his eyelids twinkled painfully, and the penny was fairly spun into
the fender.

"I haven't been quite so sage as I might have been, and, perhaps, jokes
may not be quite gentlemanly--but,--but, Hamilton,--he thinks,--he
thinks--and almost said it--that _I changed your poem_."

"What a shame!" they cried.

Frank stooped to pick up the penny, and was some minutes finding it.
When he rose, he said:

"One will grow old in time, but it's hard to pay so dearly for good
spirits. However, you couldn't expect such a flow cheap, I suppose,"
he added, with a little laugh.

"You must have mistaken him," said Trevannion; "he couldn't have
meant it."

"I am not in the habit of taking offence at nothing," replied Frank.
"Nay, I can be as purposely obtuse as any one when I choose, but one
couldn't be blind."

"What did he say?" said Reginald.

"I don't exactly remember--a heap about 'pain inflicted,' of
'misconstructions being placed on motives,' of 'transgressions
against honor and kindliness;' and then, when I was at a loss to
comprehend him, he said, 'he could not understand the gratification
of seeing another disappointed and annoyed--when he discovered that
his school-fellow, whom he confidently trusted, had substituted a
blank sheet for a carefully, laboriously-written work;' and then
I asked him if he supposed I had tricked Hamilton? and he said he
couldn't think of another who was so likely to do it as myself--that
'the constant indulgence in these senseless follies was likely to
blunt the sense of honor,' 'that I must excuse him'--excuse him,
forsooth--'if he spoke his mind on the subject:' and then he raked
up an old affair, that happened ages ago, about an exercise--Salisbury,
you remember--you were the victim; but that was a paltry, every-day
affair, only he didn't seem to understand the difference. I'll back
the doctor up for as good a memory as any man in the three kingdoms.
I had forgotten that piece of moral turpitude, and might have been
excused for imagining that the caning I got then had wiped out the
offence. Hamilton," he added, with a faltering voice, laying his
hand on Hamilton's shoulder--"you don't believe I did it?"

"To be sure not, Frank," said Hamilton, heartily shaking Frank's hand.
"I know you too well--I am as confident of you as I should be of myself
in the same case. Don't think any more of it. I am sure the doctor
doesn't believe it himself: he only wants to show what might be
thought if you get a character for playing tricks. I am excessively
vexed at this."

"I don't feel at all certain he believes me yet," said Frank; "but
this I declare, that unless your poem is found, I will withdraw all
claim--I won't touch the prize for any consideration."

"Don't do that, Frank," said Hamilton; "I'll give you some trouble yet
with my new one."

"If that gets it, so much the better," said Frank, "and I dare say it
will; but you all hear--my mind is made up--I won't have a prize for
this poem unless it is gained over Hamilton's first."

"How came the doctor to begin this rigmarole?" asked Salisbury.

Frank blushed, and replied, with a conscious laugh: "I did an abominably
foolish thing last night, in dipping all the bed-room candles that were
standing in the pantry, into a tempting basin of water; and Mrs. Guppy
was malicious because the candles sputtered and wouldn't light, and,
as usual, determined that I had done it; and Fudge taxed me with it
this morning."

"I wish," said Hamilton, emphatically, "I could discover the author of
this shameful piece of business. It was vexatious enough in the first
place, but this is painful to us all. Frank, every one knows you."

"Doctor best of all," put in Frank.

"I will give myself up to discovering who has done it," said Hamilton.

"You had better give yourself up to finishing your poem," said Reginald;
"for it's my humble opinion if you haven't found it now, your eyes won't
discover the clue, if you were Argus himself."

The others then began a rather noisy debate on the impropriety of
their master's behavior; and little Alfred, finding his brother was
not speaking, ventured to remind him of his promise. Contrary to his
usual habit, Hamilton turned quite crossly to him:

"What an idle fellow you are! Why don't you get _Lempriere_ and find
them out for yourself?--you ought not to be beginning now."

"I tried, Edward, but I couldn't understand it, and it went out of my
head. I want to know about Cecropia again--I forget what country it was,
Edward," said the child, timidly, noticing an ominous reddening of his
brother's face.

"A great deal of use it is giving you any information, is it not, sir?
I have a great mind to make you write out every word I say. And pray
what else have you forgotten?"

"Not _forgotten_ any thing," said Alfred, meekly; "but I wanted to
know, please Edward, who was Hannibal's father, and whether it was
true about Hannibal's making the rocks red hot, and pouring vinegar
on them? I don't think it could, for I don't know where he could
get so much."

"A great deal he carried in his own countenance," said Frank, "and
the rest was made from the wine supplied for the Carthaginian officers.
There's nothing like white-wine vinegar, Alfred; and the Carthaginians
were renowned for parting with luxuries on an emergency."

"Now I know that's your nonsense," said Alfred, looking very puzzled.
"And, please Edward, who was Philomela and--"

"That's enough--one at a time!" exclaimed Hamilton; "get _Lempriere_,
and my Roman History, and you shall look them out with me. It's to be
hoped you are not dreaming of a prize."

"Poor infant!" said Salisbury; "it's hard work, I know, to remember
the difference between those heathen chaps."

Alfred had just brought the required books, and was opening them by
his brother's desire, and Hamilton was standing near him at the table,
when suddenly a packet was thrown into the room, and fell at his feet.
Changing color, he picked it up with the rapidity of lightning, and,
with an exclamation, rushed out of the room, before any one but Alfred
had seen the transaction. Louis had just gained the threshold of the
door leading to the playground, when Hamilton hailed him, and his long
strides gaining on Louis' terror-impeded steps, he presently reached
him, and, grasping him tightly by both arms, bore him back to the
class-room, sternly desiring two or three boys, who attempted to
follow, to stay behind. Louis did not make any resistance, and
Hamilton, after locking the door and putting the key into his pocket,
brought him irresistibly to the front of the fire, and, placing him
with his back against the table, opposite the assembled group, desired
him, under pain of instant punishment, to remain where he was.

"What is the matter with him, Hamilton?" asked Reginald.

"You shall see presently," said Hamilton; "I mean to have some
inquiries answered: and please, Mortimer, however unpleasant it
may be to you, let us have fair play."

"I only stipulate it for Louis too," said Reginald.

"He shall have it," said Hamilton, calmly; "but if he attempts to
move till I have done, I will carry him at once to Dr. Wilkinson."

Hamilton glanced at the windows, where five or six heads were
darkening the lower panes, in their eagerness to discover the
cause of Louis' forcible abduction; and, walking coolly up to
them, bolted them, and drew down both blinds. He then returned
to his place, and, drawing his coat-tails under his arms, arranged
himself with his back to the fire, exactly opposite to Louis, who
stood passively where he had been placed, very pale, but otherwise
showing little emotion.

"Now, sir," began Hamilton, "explain how you got this."

As he spoke, he produced, to the astonishment of his school-fellows,
the parcel--rubbed at the edges, but still the identical parcel, as
he proved, by breaking the seal, and showing the writing inside.

"What! Louis Mortimer!" exclaimed Jones.

"_Et tu Brute!_" ejaculated Frank, in a tone of mingled surprise
and reproach.

"Louis!" said Reginald, coloring deeply; "oh, Louis! How did you
find it, Hamilton?"

"Did you not see it come in through the half-open door just now?"
said Hamilton.

"I fancied I saw something fly along," said Meredith.

"I thought I heard something fall," said another.

"Too cowardly to come openly," said Trevannion.

The room seemed to turn round with Louis.

"How did you come by this?" said Hamilton.

There was no answer.

"I will have an answer, Louis," he said: "and if you don't give it
to me, you shall to Dr. Wilkinson!"

Louis murmured something that no one heard.

"What?" said Hamilton, sharply; "speak so as we can all hear. If you
have brought it back for some one else," he added, in a softened tone,
"say so at once; only let me know who took it."

"I took it," replied Louis, with a great effort.

"You ungrateful viper!" exclaimed Jones.

Hamilton appeared a little moved, but checking the emotion, continued:

"You! for--your--own--especial--gratification? And pray, when might
you have accomplished that adroit and praiseworthy feat?"

"Last Friday," said Louis, in so low a tone, that nothing but the
silence that reigned could have made it audible.

"And what was your motive?" asked Hamilton, leaning back against
the mantelpiece, and putting one foot on the fender behind him.

"Only a little fun!"

"Pretty respectable _fun_!" said Hamilton, contemptuously.

"Gratitude might have restrained you, one would think," said Jones,
"if nothing else would. A pretty return for all Hamilton's kindness,
to set to work to lose him his prize!"

"I didn't, Jones," said Louis, warmly; "I thought it was a letter; I
didn't mean any harm. And as to gratitude--when Hamilton was kind to
me, I was grateful--and I do feel grateful for his kindness now; but
he has been unkind enough lately to make me forget that."

"And reason enough he had," said Meredith. "Unkind, indeed! why no one
else stood your friend when we found out what a tell-tale you were."

"I am sure nobody knew he was my friend then," said Louis, assuming an
air of independence that ill became him. "Only last Friday, he let me
believe that Trevannion had the doctor's Rollin; he offered me his, but
I wasn't likely to take that, and--" Louis hesitated, for Hamilton's eye
was upon him so calmly and inquiringly; and Louis felt he was not likely
to have had such an idea in his head.

"And what?" said Hamilton, quietly.

"Nothing," replied Louis; "I don't believe you knew, only it was rather
strange, Hamilton."

"What was strange?" said Hamilton, in the same unmoved tone.

"Only when I came back into this room, I saw it on the table with your
things, and I thought you had it, perhaps," said Louis, reluctantly.
"If it hadn't been for that, I shouldn't have come here, and shouldn't
have thought of playing the trick."

"You little--" exclaimed Trevannion. Not being able to find a genteel
epithet strong enough, he continued, "When Hamilton had just taken the
trouble of exchanging his own history with me, for your service! I see
it all now, Hamilton--you ungrateful boy!"

"How should I know? he never said so," replied Louis, touched to the
heart at this proof of his friend's kindness; and grieved very deeply
that he should have thought or said so unkind a thing of him in his
anger. "How am I to know what people think, if they don't speak, or
if I don't see them?"

"And so you did it out of revenge?" said Hamilton.

Louis was silent for a minute, for he could not speak; but at last
he replied, in a quivering voice--

"No; I told you I did it out of fun. I thought it was a letter,
and--and I have been very sorry I ever did any thing so foolish.
I should have brought it back sooner, but I could not remember
what I did with it."

"Why did you not tell me, at least, that you had taken it, Louis,"
said Hamilton, "when I was inquiring for it? It would have been
more open."

"I should have done it, I believe, if I had known how you would have
heard me--but it's not so easy when every one is against you. I brought
it only a few minutes after I found it."

"Who put such a thing into your head, Louis?" asked Reginald.

Louis checked the answer he had nearly given, and remained silent.

"Were you alone?" said Hamilton. "Were you the only one concerned
in this business?"

"I was not alone," replied Louis, rather proudly; "but I do not mean
to say who was with me. He was not to blame for what I did."

"How so?" asked Hamilton. "Didn't he put it into your head, and help
you to do it?"

"You have no right to ask such questions," said Louis, uneasily.
"He came in to help me find Rollin, and--that's all I shall tell you."

"What, Casson help you to find Rollin!" said Hamilton, quickly.
"He wouldn't know the book from a Lexicon."

"He did, however," said Louis; then, becoming suddenly conscious,
from the intelligent glances exchanged among his judges, of the
admission he had made, he turned very red, and exclaimed,

"It's very unfair!"

"I knew he was your companion," said Hamilton, rather scornfully. "You
have belonged to his set too much lately to suppose otherwise--and this
is the consequence."

"If it is, Hamilton," said Louis, scarcely able to speak for the warmth
of his feelings, "you might have prevented it if you would. You wouldn't
forgive my speaking carelessly once--and no one that I cared for would
notice me. He was almost the only one who would speak to me. If you had
said one word, I shouldn't have been so bad. I thought you didn't care
about me, and I didn't mean to stay where I wasn't wanted."

The expression of Hamilton's face was not easy, and he drowned the end
of Louis' speech by knocking all the fire-irons down with a movement of
his poised foot.

"It was a likely way to be wanted, I imagine," said Jones, "to go on
as you have been doing. Besides, who is to know what's likely to be
safe with such a tell-tale--a traitor--in the camp as you are?"

"If there hadn't been another as great," said Louis, "you would never
have known of me; but you bear with him because you can't turn him out."

"Pray, sir!" exclaimed Norman, "whom do you mean?"

Louis felt sorry he had allowed himself to say so much; but he stood
unshrinkingly before his interrogator, and replied:

"I mean you, Norman: you know if you hadn't told tales of me this
wouldn't have happened."

What vengeance Louis might have drawn on himself by this ill-judged
speech we cannot tell, had not Hamilton stepped forward and interposed.

There was a grim ghost of a smile on his face as he put his arm in
front of Louis.

"Fair play, Norman," he said; "I won't have him touched here.
You can go now."

As Louis left the room, Hamilton resumed his former attitude,
and seemed lost in a revery of an unpleasant description, while
a discussion on Louis' conduct was noisily carried on around him:
some declaring that Louis had done the deed from malicious motives,
others believing that it was merely a foolish joke of which he had
not calculated the consequences, and a third party attributing it
entirely to Casson's influence.

"Vexed as I am to find Louis has been so foolish," said Reginald,
"I am glad, Frank, that you will now be cleared. Hamilton, I am sure
you believe that Louis only intended a joke?"

Hamilton nodded gravely.

"I suppose you'll clear up the matter instanter, Hamilton?"
said Jones.

"_Clear up the matter?_ How! is it not clear enough already?"
said Hamilton, almost fiercely.

"Clear to us, but not to the doctor," said Meredith.

"It's as clear as it's likely to be, then," said Hamilton. "I intend
to send up this poem the last evening, and say nothing about it."

"A likely story!" exclaimed Jones.

"If you don't, I shall, Hamilton," said Salisbury.

"Whoever breathes a word of the matter," cried Hamilton, "ceases from
that moment to be a friend of mine. Whose business is it, I should like
to know--if I choose to throw that unhappy thing on the fire, who is the
loser but myself? What satisfaction can it be to any one to get that boy
into such a mess?"

As Hamilton spoke he disdainfully flung the poem on the table, and
drew the fender, contents and all, on the floor with his fidgety foot.

"The matter comes to this," said Reginald: "it appears that either
Louis must be exposed, or Frank suffer for his delinquencies. It is
not, certainly, fair to Frank, and mustn't be, Hamilton, though Louis
is my brother."

Hamilton cast a bewildered look on Frank.

"True, I had really forgotten Frank. It must be so, then," he said,
in a lower tone.

"No, Hamilton, no!" said Frank; "I won't have you tell of poor Louis.
I don't care a bit about Fudge's suspicions now, _you_ all _know_ I
am clear. Don't say a word about it, I beg."

"Frank, you're a fine fellow!" exclaimed Hamilton, grasping his hand;
"but I don't think it is quite fair."

"Nonsense!" said Frank, gayly; "I owe him something for relieving
me from my situation; and, besides," he added, more gravely, "Louis
deserves a little forbearance from us: none of us would have done
what he did, last half."

"You are right," said Hamilton, warmly; "none of us would, but all of
us have forgotten that lately; even Ferrers, who ought, at least, to
have befriended him, has turned the cold shoulder to him. I feel quite
indignant with Ferrers."

"Ferrers had a little reason to doubt him," said Trevannion.

"What, for letting his name slip out by accident?" said Hamilton,
scornfully; "you heard how he let out Casson's just now--you wouldn't
blame him for that, I imagine?"

"No," said Frank; "and I can tell you that Mrs. Paget (no offence to
her nephew) is one of those dear retailers of all descriptions of news,
that would worm a secret out of a toad in a stone, and Louis hasn't
ready wit enough to manage her."

"He has no presence of mind, and a little vanity," said Hamilton.

"He is as vain as a peacock--a lump of vanity!" exclaimed Norman;
"without an atom of moral courage to stand any persuasion short of
being desired to put his head into the fire--a perfect coward!"

"And where did you get your moral courage, Mr. Norman?" said Hamilton,
with deliberate gravity; "we may send you to the heathen for reproof:

    'If thou hast strength, 'twas heaven that strength bestowed,
     For know, vain man, thy valor is from God.'"

Norman was on the point of speaking, but Hamilton continued in the
same calm, irresistible manner:

"If Louis is vain, we are proud; and I should like to know which is
the worst,--having an exalted opinion of ourselves, or craving the
exalted opinion of others? We have not behaved well to Louis, poor
fellow! we first spoiled him by over-indulgence and flattery, and
when this recoils upon us, we visit all the evil heavily on him."

"I only want to remark," said Meredith, "that we had a right to expect
more consistency in a professed saint."

"Perhaps so," said Hamilton; "yet, though I am sure Louis is a sincere
Christian, he is not free from faults, and had still a hard work to do
in overcoming them; and, because he has for a time forgotten that he
had this work to do, shall we cast him off as a reprobate? Remember it
was his former blameless conduct that made us expect more from him than
another: the Power that guided him then can restore him again. But we
have sadly forgotten that great duty, of bearing one another's burdens,
which he taught us so sweetly a few months ago. Let us forgive him,"
continued Hamilton, with tears in his eyes, "as we would be forgiven;
considering how we should act in temptation ourselves."

There was a dead silence, for Hamilton's address had something solemn
in it. He added, after a short pause--

"I feel that we seniors have an immense responsibility: the power of
doing much good or harm lies with us. I have been far too selfish and
indifferent: Trevannion, will you forgive the thoughtless words that
so justly offended you, but which, I assure you, had only the meaning
of an angry emotion?"

"Willingly!" said Trevannion, starting up to meet the proffered hand
of his friend; "I am sorry I should have been so much offended."

Reginald was making some acknowledgments to Hamilton and Frank, when a
messenger came to summon Hamilton to a short turn with the doctor, and
after gladly accepting Reginald's offer of performing his task towards
Alfred, he took up his poem, and went away full of deep thoughts and
regrets, that the late scene had called forth.



CHAPTER XXIII.

  "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast
   fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn
   to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and
   receive us graciously; so will we render the calves of
   our lips."--Hosea xiv. 1, 2.


When Louis left the class-room, his feelings of grief and shame were
almost too bitter for restraint; but he had learned lately to conceal
something of what he felt from those who were not likely to sympathize
with him; and finding some boys in the school-room, and being subjected
there to several disagreeable remarks and questions, he went into the
playground, in the hope of finding either relief in change of scene,
or a little more seclusion than he could hope for in-doors; and after
escaping from some tormentors, who met him at the door, in their anxiety
to know what Hamilton wanted with him, he went towards the side of the
playground that looked upon the lane, hardly caring where he was going,
or what became of him.

The door was open, and disregarding, or more properly, forgetting, the
injunctions respecting it, he went up to it, and stood looking out into
the lane, till at last, one of his school-fellows discovering the open
door, came up, and asked him to keep watch for him, while he went on a
forbidden errand.

Meantime, Dr. Wilkinson and Hamilton had, after a walk across the
grounds in front of the house, turned into the lane, making as large
a round as possible, on their way to the house. Hamilton was in a very
silent humor, and as his tutor was equally grave, very few words passed
between them during the first half of their walk; and if Hamilton had
thought at all about what he had undertaken so mechanically, he might
have wondered how the doctor could have wanted a companion, when he
was in so taciturn a humor.

Suddenly the doctor remarked,--"Have you heard nothing of your poem,
Hamilton?"

This was so unexpected a question, and Hamilton was so unwilling to
make a direct answer, that he remained silent for a minute or two,
his hesitation and color convincing his master that Louis had acted
up to his determination.

"Well, have you forgotten all about it?" said the doctor, good-humoredly.

"I have found it, sir--here it is," he replied, producing the paper.

"How did you get it?" asked the doctor, who betrayed far less surprise
and satisfaction than the occasion seemed to demand.

"It was thrown into the class-room this morning, sir," said Hamilton,
reservedly.

"And you are ignorant of the party?" said the doctor, with raised
eyebrows.

"No, sir, I know who has done it," replied Hamilton, after a slight
pause; "but I must beg you to excuse my naming him. I think there
is no danger of a repetition of the offence. Of course you will
understand, sir, that I do not mean Digby, who is as innocent as
I ever believed him."

There was a little silence, while the doctor ran his eye down
a page of Hamilton's manuscript.

"As you wish to keep the matter secret, I shall ask no further
questions; only, Digby may not think it quite fair."

"He wishes it to be so, sir," replied Hamilton, eagerly. "It is quite
his wish now he knows I have _proof_ that he is not the culprit."

Dr. Wilkinson's face lighted up with an expression of great satisfaction,
as he said,

"It does Digby credit."

Hamilton was on the point of hazarding a remark on the impossibility
of Frank's contemplating such a thing, when they turned a corner of the
lane that brought them in sight of the playground wall and the farm-yard
opposite. The doctor's attention was suddenly arrested by the figure of
a boy, perched on the top of the high wall surrounding the latter, who
was reaching downwards towards the top of a large hawthorn-tree that
grew inside.

"Hey-day! Hamilton, who's that?" he exclaimed. "Do you recognize
the figure? If my eyes deceive me not, it is Louis Mortimer. I have
strongly suspected lately that I have been robbed more than once.
It _is_ Louis Mortimer."

The doctor's tone assumed its ready sternness, and he quickened his
pace. Hamilton could not doubt the evidence of his senses, but he felt
miserably disappointed.

"I do not think Louis Mortimer would do so, sir," he said, faintly.

"There he is, however, out of bounds," said the doctor.

"Something else may have taken him there," said Hamilton.

"I hope it may prove so, but he is surely receiving something from
below--he sees us--he will be down--he will assuredly break his neck!"
exclaimed the doctor, hurriedly. "There--quick, Hamilton--run."

Hamilton needed no bidding, for, as soon as he saw Louis fall,
he ran off in the direction of the stable-yard. The doctor followed
so quickly that Hamilton had only just raised Louis from the ground
when he came up. To their great satisfaction he was not much hurt,
having fallen on a heap of straw that lay just under the wall. He
was much frightened, and at first so stunned as to be almost incapable
of understanding what was said to him. On the ground near him lay his
green baize bag, and rolling about in all directions, some apples,
one or two still remaining in the bag.

"Where is your companion, sir?" was the first question Dr. Wilkinson
asked, after ascertaining that no injury had been done to Louis.

"There was no one with me, sir," replied Louis, almost inarticulately.

"What were you doing here, sir?"

"I came to fetch my bag, sir."

"It is a mercy you were not killed," said Dr. Wilkinson, gravely.
"Put the apples in that bag, Hamilton."

Dr. Wilkinson waited till Hamilton had performed this task, and
then desired Louis to take the bag and follow him.

Louis did as he was desired, but he was evidently not yet in a
condition to walk, and trembled so violently that Hamilton caught
hold of him to prevent him from falling.

"He can't walk yet, sir," he said, compassionately. "I will bring
him in when he has recovered a little."

"It is too cold to sit out here," said the doctor. "Where are you hurt?"

"I don't exactly know; I am not much _hurt_--but, oh! I feel so
strange, Hamilton. Let me walk--I can take your arm."

Dr. Wilkinson looked anxiously at him, and assisted him, with Hamilton's
aid, across the road, through the garden, into the kitchen, where, with
a little hartshorn and water, he was soon in a condition to go up stairs.
Dr. Wilkinson desired him to go to bed for the rest of the day, and
sent Reginald to help him. The bag he took into his own possession
till further occasion.

Louis was too much dismayed by his ill success, and too much exhausted
by the shock of his fall, to make any remarks till he reached his room.
Hamilton did not leave him until he had seen him comfortably in bed;
and then, after wrapping him up most tenderly, he leaned over him, and
asked what was really the matter.

Louis endeavored to answer calmly, but in his present weak condition
Hamilton's kind manner overcame him, and he burst into tears.

"Oh, dear!" he exclaimed, amid his violent sobs; "oh, Reginald,
Reginald--Hamilton, I am so unfortunate! Every thing I do is always
found out; but others can do all sorts of things, and no one knows it."

"Is there any thing then to be found out, Louis?" said Hamilton,
gravely; "if so, it is far better for you that it should be."

Louis suddenly threw his arms round Hamilton, as he sat near him.

"Hamilton, I did not go there to steal, I am sure," he said, throwing
his head back, and examining his friend's face with the most intense
anxiety. "I am sure, Hamilton, bad as I am, you could not believe it
of me. I have been very sinful, but oh, I am very sorry; and, Hamilton,
I _could_ not do so very wicked a thing. Do remember, please, how things
were against me before when I was not guilty. Though it seems all against
me now, I assure you, the only thing I have done wrong is going out of
bounds--oh, do let me keep my arms round you, Hamilton--don't believe
me guilty. I haven't--oh, I haven't had a friend for so long! I have
been very proud and self-willed--if I had been humble perhaps things
would not have gone so wrong. I never even said I was sorry I repeated
what you said to Mrs. Paget; but I was sorry, Hamilton--very, very sorry,
only I did not like to say so. Will you forgive me, and be my friend
again? I have been so ungrateful, I am afraid you will never love me
any more."

Hamilton was completely overcome by the vehemence of Louis' appeal.
He pressed the poor boy closer to him, and even kissed his forehead,
as if he were a little child.

"Love you, Louis! love you, dear boy!" he replied; "you have had reason
to doubt it, but I have always loved you. I forgive you from my heart,
but you have something to forgive in me. I have not been as kind to you
as I might have been."

"I am very sorry I spoke so unkindly of you this morning, Hamilton,"
sobbed Louis, laying his wet cheek on Hamilton's shoulder. "I was cross,
and didn't think of what I was saying."

"Don't think any more about it," said Hamilton, affectionately; "lie
down, and tell me quietly how you came to be on that wall just now."

"I was standing at the wooden door," said Louis, "when Sally Simmons
told me that she had seen my bag on the great hawthorn-tree, by the
wall on the other side. And when I asked her how it got there, she
said, she supposed I knew, but it was too high for her to reach; and
if I didn't get it, the doctor would find me out. At first, I thought
I wouldn't go," said Louis, hesitating; "and then I was afraid I should
be getting into a scrape--I am sometimes so unfortunate--and so I went
across the lane, and got over the gate, and went into the yard to see
if it were there. And there it was, Hamilton, with some apples in it,
too, hanging partly, and partly lying, near the top of the tree; it was
so high that I was obliged to get upon the cow-house roof, and as the
cow-house was on the wrong side, I was obliged to get on the wall to
read it. And I was pulling it off when you first saw me, and then--I
was afraid, and as I was rather over-reaching myself, I tried to get
down in a hurry, and fell down. I think the tree broke my fall; but I
don't know how it was, for I hardly understood any thing, even when
you came up."

"You had better have let it alone," said Reginald.

"What were you doing at the gate?" said Hamilton; "keeping watch?"

"One of them asked me," replied Louis.

Hamilton shook his head.

"Have you any idea how your bag came there?"

"Please don't ask me any questions about that, Hamilton. Will you not
believe I am innocent?"

"I fully believe your story, Louis, but I know you have been in bad
company lately, and I wish to help you to clear yourself. Tell me all
you know. If you have ever had even the least hand in any thing like
this, make a friend of me, and tell me at once. Have you not some
idea who put your bag there?"

"I may guess, you know," said Louis, evasively; "but, Hamilton, I
do assure you, I never had any thing to do with any robbery here at
all--never once."

"If you do not know who has done it, then," said Hamilton, "I am sure
your _guess_ is a very accurate one--whom do you _guess_?"

"I cannot tell you, Hamilton; you mustn't ask me."

"This is only nonsense," said Reginald, impatiently. "Are you going to
make a martyr of yourself for a set of bad fellows who are a disgrace
to the school?"

"They may tell themselves, perhaps," said Louis, "but I will not."

"Louis!" said Hamilton, seriously, "this is folly; don't let a
mistaken notion of honor induce you to screen these bad boys from
their just punishment. By doing so, you are doing an injury to others
as well as yourself. You must remember, that these evil-disposed boys
are still mixing with others, to whom their example and principles
may do much harm, independently of the evil done to themselves by
being allowed to sin with impunity. Louis, you were saying just now,
that you were very unfortunate--they are the most unfortunate whose
crimes are undiscovered, and therefore unchecked. If you are, as you
say, innocent of any participation in this affair, why should you wish
to conceal what you know, or, at least, telling me whom you lent your
bag to?"

"I did not lend it at all lately," said Louis, raising his face from
the pillow, where he had hidden it. "The thing is, Hamilton," continued
he, very sorrowfully, "I am called a tell-tale, and I know I deserve
it; but the worst is, they call me a hypocrite, and say that religious
people are no better than others. I could bear it if it were only
myself, but it is more, and I have given reasons for them to say all
kinds of things," he added, and burst anew into tears. "But do not
make me tell any more tales. I have promised, Hamilton--I dare not--I
_will_ not break my promise!"

Hamilton made no immediate reply, and the loud ringing of the
dinner-bell obliged him to leave Louis to himself.

"If it is a promise, Louis," he said, as he left the room with
Reginald, "I won't urge you to break it; but remember well how
the promise was made--remember the consequences."

"Reginald," he added, when they had closed the door, "I have a clue;
depend upon it, he won't be much the worse, poor fellow. But the
doctor knows him well, I am sure."

Reginald stole away after dinner to sit with Louis, and to endeavor
to persuade him to disclose all his suspicions, but all he could
obtain was a kind of half-promise to clear it up, after he had seen
how the matter would end; and the subject caused him so much distress,
that Reginald at length left it alone.

"Sit down by my side, dear Reginald," said Louis, "and tell me again
that you forgive me. I cannot think how I could be so unkind to you
as I have been lately, when you were so anxious about me. I have been
ungrateful to every body."

"Don't make yourself miserable," said Reginald, as gayly as he could.
"I know I am hasty and cross, and don't go the right way to help you;
but you had spoiled me by being so very gentle before, and I didn't
understand your having any spirit."

"It was a very wrong spirit," replied Louis; "the fact is, Reginald,
I have not been serving God lately, though at first I did not know it
myself. I thought I did a great many things when I came back to school,
because it would glorify God; when, I really believe now, the reason
was--to be praised for it. Every one seemed to think so much of me,
and that every thing I did was right. I have wished so many times
lately, that all the trouble of last half-year might come again if
I should be so happy. But, Reginald, when the boys would not speak
to me, then I knew by my angry feelings that I only cared for myself;
and I saw that I had not been serving God, and I became afraid to pray.
Sometimes so strangely, when I knew I was in the wrong, and that I ought
to pray for help to be better, yet I wanted to look grand, and to show
I didn't care, and I never used the time I had, and that's very little
here, Reginald. I have been thinking of myself almost ever since I came
back--I have been thinking of glorifying myself!" He paused, and then
added, in a lower tone, "I fancied I was not selfish, but now I _know_
I am!"

When Reginald went away, Louis had long and quiet time to trace the
reason of his sad falling away, and to make his peace with Him whose
great name he had so dishonored. Earnestly, humbly, and sorrowfully
did he confess his faults. How bowed to the earth he felt, in the
consciousness of his utter impotence! He remembered how confident
he had been in his good name; and now he became aware, in this silent
self-examination, how mixed his motives had been, how full of vanity
and vain-glory he had been, how careless in waiting for "more grace,"
how little he had thought of pressing forward, how wanting he had been
in that single heart that thought only of doing the work committed
to him regardless of the approbation of men--that only desired to
know what was right in order fearlessly to follow it; and unutterable
were the tearful desires of his heart that he might be strengthened
for the time to come to walk more worthy of the vocation wherewith
he was called.



CHAPTER XXIV.

  "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely;
   for mine anger is turned away from him. Ephraim shall say,
   What have I to do any more with idols?"--Hosea xiv. 4, 8.

  "I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak
   peace to His people, and to His saints, but let them not
   turn again to folly."--Psalm lxxxv. 8.


Louis awoke from a calm, sound sleep very early the next morning,
with a dim, indistinct recollection of having, when half awake during
the night, seen Dr. Wilkinson standing by him, and of a consciousness
of a hand being laid on his forehead and his hands; but, as he did not
feel certain, much less suppose it likely, he settled that he must have
dreamed it. It was quite dark when he awoke, and it was some few minutes
before the events of the preceding day ranged themselves in any order
in his mind; and then his thoughts flew to that rest whence they had
been so long absent.

In about half an hour, several of his school-fellows began to rouse
themselves, and, a candle or two being lighted, dressing was hastily
accomplished; and, rolling themselves up in counterpanes and blankets,
shawl fashion, they proceeded to pore over the books they had brought
up the night before.

"I don't mean to get up," growled Frank; "it's a great deal more
comfortable in bed. Clifton, bring me my candle here, and put it
on that chair--I shall make a studium of my couch."

"Dr. Wilkinson asked if we read with candles near the beds," said
Clifton. "He said he wouldn't have us read in bed unless it were
daylight, Digby."

"Well, we'll suppose he didn't," said Frank, "so come along."

"No, I won't," said Clifton, sitting down, near a chest of drawers,
on which was a candle, the joint property of himself, Reginald, and
Louis.

"You won't, won't you?" said Frank, coolly; "Reginald, my candle's
near you, I'll trouble you for it."

"You must take the consequences, then," said Reginald, "for I heard
the doctor say so."

"_I_ didn't," said Frank, snuffing his candle, and opening a book;
"Meredith, I'd advise you to follow my example."

"I followed it yesterday, and fell asleep in uncomfortable snoozes
till the bell rang," yawned Meredith. "Reading one word and dreaming
six may be entertaining, but it is certainly not instructive."

There was very little noise, and Louis lay for some time in deep
thought. At length he moved as if with the intention of getting up,
when Reginald started up and planted his beaming face over him so as
to prevent his rising:

"Awake at last, Louis?"

"Yes, I have been awake a long time."

"You've been very quiet."

"How happy you look!" said Louis; "I could almost fancy you had
something to tell."

"What will you give me for my news?"

"I am afraid I can offer nothing but thanks," replied Louis, smiling.

"What should you say if I were to tell you Casson was gone?"

"Casson _gone_!" exclaimed Louis, starting up in spite of his
brother's incubian overseership. "Where? When? How? Was he ill?
What was the matter?"

"He went home yesterday evening by the London coach. He was in
perfect bodily health. The matter was, that the magister wouldn't
keep him."

"What! _expelled_, Reginald?" said Louis, aghast.

"Expelled, Louis," Reginald replied, gravely; "don't look so
frightened; he deserved it."

"Oh, Reginald! it is so terrible! But how--why was it so sudden?"

"Ah, Beauty!" said Frank, "a few wonders have happened while
your ladyship has been sleeping there. What will you say to
Harris going, too?"

"Harris! no, surely not, Frank? Tell me, do tell me what's been
the matter."

"We promised to let Hamilton tell the story," said Reginald.
"He has been, in a great measure, the cause of finding all out;
so make haste and go to him, for I want you back again."

Louis did not need any further bidding--he hurried his toilette,
and flew to the room that Hamilton enjoyed to himself. Hamilton
was up. An open Bible lay near him, which he closed as Louis entered.

"How are you, foolish boy, this morning?" he said, kindly--very kindly,
Louis thought, as he squeezed his hand.

"I am very well, thank you. Reginald's been telling me strange news
this morning."

"News?" said Hamilton. "He promised me--"

"Oh! I only know that Casson's gone, and Harris going, but he would
not tell me any more."

"Well, then, I will."

"Hamilton," said Louis, gently laying his hand on Hamilton's,
"may I ask one thing?"

"What is it?"

"Will you read a little of this with me first?" he said, timidly,
touching the Bible. "I have neglected it so lately. It would be so
pleasant before we begin any thing else. You do not know how difficult
it is in our room to be a minute quiet."

Hamilton had opened the Bible before Louis had finished, and bade
him select a chapter, which he asked him to read aloud.

Louis read the 7th Psalm, and the 14th of Hosea; and when he had
finished, he and his friend remained very silent.

Hamilton felt for Louis, though he did not know how soothingly
the sweet words fell on the soul of the erring boy; how unspeakably
precious had been the promise, that the backslider should be healed,
and the dew of the Spirit refresh him, and make him grow in grace.
Louis felt a wish to prolong those gracious words, "Ephraim shall say,
What have I any more to do with idols? I have heard and observed him;
I am like a green fir-tree, from me is thy fruit found!"

"Dear Hamilton," he said, at length, "I have a very great favor to
beg of you--would you let me come in a little every morning to read
with you? It would do me so much good."

"By all means," said Hamilton, perhaps a little shily; but it was
promise enough to call forth Louis' heartfelt thanks.

Hamilton then made Louis don a cloak of his, and stretching his own
legs, so as to rest them comfortably on the window where Louis was
sitting, he entered into a minute detail of the events of yesterday
afternoon, equally surprising and interesting to Louis.

It appeared that Hamilton, acting on his own strong suspicions, went
immediately after dinner to Dr. Wilkinson, whom, strange to say, he
found equally inclined to listen to them; for he confessed to Louis
that he did not exactly know what had made Dr. Wilkinson so suddenly
take such a decided view of Casson's character as he appeared to have
done. They went to the stable and examined it very carefully. They
found the door unfastened; but on further consideration, discovered
that the staple, which was rusty, had been broken off, so that, though
the key had been turned, it could be opened as easily as if it had had
no lock. They went up through the trap-door, but found nothing to
assist them, till, just as they were descending, Hamilton picked up
part of a Greek exercise. It was very small, not more than two inches
square; a more careless observer might not have noticed it, but Hamilton
seized it as a treasure, and, with the doctor's advice, set to work to
discover whose handwriting it was.

The few words he deciphered carried him to the second class for the
owner: "And oh, Louis! Dr. Wilkinson looked so grave when I told him
it was Kenrick. But I knew it was not your writing. With very little
trouble, and without discovering any thing, I soon found Harris to have
been the writer. Having settled this point about an hour after school
had begun, I took the first opportunity of informing the doctor, who
immediately entered the school-room, suspended all business, summoned
every one, and in an able speech, as the papers would say, prefaced
the proceedings by declaring how painful it had been to him to discover
that any of his pupils were not trustworthy, _et cetera_; and his
determination to arrive at some conclusion on the point, to know
whether his orders were or were not to be obeyed. He then mentioned
having found you, and his firm belief, that even supposing you had
gone there for the purpose of abstracting the apples, _which he could
not believe_, you must have been tempted and persuaded to it by
older hands; he called upon the offenders to come forward and clear
the matter. Well, no one answered; and then the doctor just alluded
to you, and what you had suffered last half, and said that he had
determined that every one should be aware of the grounds of accusation,
and he desired, if any one knew of any thing that would throw a light
on the matter, he would come forward.

"Then, to every one's surprise, comes up Charles Clifton, and tells
him coolly, that he was sure you had not stolen the apples, and that
it was very likely to be Harris, Casson, and Churchill, and that Sally
Simmons had, in his presence, given them apples, and they joked about
the place where they came from. Sally was called, and at last confessed
that she had let Casson know where the apples were kept; and they
frightened her, or something, for she tried to bring you in as an
accomplice, only Clifton was so manful, and braved her with so much
spirit, that she soon quitted that ground, and departed under sentence
of dismissal."

"Oh, poor Sally! I am very sorry."

"She is a bad girl," said Hamilton; "I never liked Clifton so well
as I did yesterday: there is a great deal of truthful independence
about him."

"Oh, Charlie's a very nice fellow!" said Louis, warmly. "Well, Hamilton."

"Well, Casson and Harris bullied, talked of characters defamed, and
stoutly protested innocence. The doctor looked so indignant; I think
I never saw him so thoroughly convinced of the evil-mindedness of any
one, as he appeared to be of Casson's. He heard all they had to say,
and spoke to them seriously of the crime they were adding. Harris
looked abashed, but Casson declared there was not enough to convict
him in the evidence of a 'liar like Sally, and a self-sufficient
fellow like Clifton;' when, to my astonishment, Trevannion came
forward, and gave his pocket-book open into the doctor's hands."
Hamilton then proceeded to tell Louis what Trevannion had seen on
the memorable Friday, and the great effect produced upon the school
by the reading of the memorandum. Churchill confessed every thing,
and cried, and begged pardon.

It seemed that they had gone no further than the gate leading to the
field, on the Friday morning, as they saw some one in the distance; but
that the plan had been renewed on Monday at twilight, when they were
disturbed by a man with a lantern, coming into the yard as they left
the stable, and, instead of going out the usual way, they scrambled
over the wall, dropping the bag in their hurry, and had no opportunity
the ensuing day to look for it.

"Harris," continued Hamilton, "turned as white as a sheet, and
murmured something that no one could understand. The doctor spoke
really beautifully. I hope something of what he said may remain
with them, at least, be remembered at some future time."

"What did he say?" asked Louis.

"He spoke about the heinousness of the offences they had committed,
and of his sorrow; and, Louis, he spoke as if he were sorry," said
Hamilton, looking down, and speaking gravely. "I felt as if I were
wrong in being so rejoiced at their detection. He spoke of the
necessity he was under, not simply of making an example of such
offenders, which was a duty he owed to the others under his charge,
but of that of marking also to themselves the great abhorrence he
entertained of their conduct. He then spoke of the consequences of
unchecked sin, and, in a few words, mentioned a very sad history
of a former pupil of his who turned out very ill--he is dead, Louis;
the manner in which he spoke of that prayer of the Psalmist's, 'Make
me not a rebuke unto the foolish,' was very solemn; I assure you there
were very few dry eyes."

Louis' were filled with tears.

"Well, Hamilton," he said, slowly.

"He then desired Casson to go directly and make preparations for leaving
his house in less than an hour, and told Harris that he should not allow
him to return after the holidays. There was not a sound when Casson left
the room, Louis, except the sobbing of one or two of the little boys. I
think I never felt any thing so solemn. It is a serious, a very serious
thing."

"Very, very," said Louis. "Did Casson seem sorry, Hamilton?"

"He was very pale and silent--I think frightened, not sorry. Harris
stood like a statue while the doctor was speaking; but, when he told
him he was not to return, I heard him sigh so deeply, it was quite
painful."

"And Churchill?" said Louis, with difficulty.

"Churchill is to stay a week behind the others, and to write exercises
every day till he goes home."

"Oh, Hamilton, Hamilton!" cried Louis, bursting fairly into tears,
"I am not crying wholly for sorrow; for I am, and ought to be, thankful
that I have not been made a 'rebuke unto the foolish.'"

Hamilton pressed his hand.

"I hope," he continued, "that this may be a blessing to me; but I am
very much afraid of myself, Hamilton, for I am constantly making good
resolutions and breaking them--but, Hamilton, do you think they would
suppose I had told of them?"

"Dr. Wilkinson told them you would not break your promise and clear
yourself by betraying them," replied Hamilton; "and he also said a
great deal on the folly of rash promises, and the evil of covering
sin. I wish you had heard it; but we must not talk any more, for here
is Alfred, and we shall have the prayer-bell presently; so, if you
have any thing to do before you go down, you had better make haste."

Louis dried his tears, and obeyed the hint, after submitting, with no
very great reluctance, to a mighty hug from Alfred, who would have given
vent to his delight in a great flow of words had not his brother been
present and waiting for him. There was little time for talking when
Louis returned to his dormitory; but he and his brother made the most
of it, and, arm in arm, they issued forth when the summons was heard.
All the way down stairs Louis received the congratulations of his
school-fellows. Everybody, even Trevannion, seemed to have forgiven
him, and Norman held out his hand at the hall-door with a "Shake hands,
old fellow!"

Louis felt rather afraid of entering the school-room, but
Dr. Wilkinson made no comment, and, as far as he could judge
from the doubtful light of a few candles struggling with the
coming daylight, scarcely looked at him. The names were called
over. At Harris's name there was a pause---some one answered,
"Not here, sir;" and, as Dr. Wilkinson, without any comment,
proceeded, Louis caught a few whispered words near him:

"He's been moaning nearly all night, poor fellow! he's in a terrible
way now;" and then the reply, "Ah, the doctor never unsays any thing!"

When prayers were over, Dr. Wilkinson called Louis into the
study, and kept him till breakfast-time with him. What passed,
never transpired; but that it was something serious was conjectured
from Louis' exceedingly humble manner and red eyes, when he left the
room--though every one was sure, from the subsequent manner of both
master and pupil, that all was entirely forgiven, and Louis reinstated
fully in Dr. Wilkinson's good graces.

But I must hasten to finish my story. The prize day arrived. It was
a dismal, wet, dreary day; but the boys cared nothing for that, except
that the audience was smaller than usual. Charles Clifton carried away
all the first prizes of his class, except that for French, which was,
contrary to his expectation, adjudged to Louis. Hamilton having privately
signified to the doctor his wish to withdraw all claim to the medal, it
was likewise bestowed on Clifton. Reginald was not successful in any
branch this half-year, having so recently entered the highest class.
As for Frank and Hamilton, the poems were considered so equal--Hamilton's
being the more correct, and Frank's displaying the greater talent and
brilliancy--that they each received a prize exactly alike. The doctor
passed a high encomium on Frank's industry, and that original young
gentleman had the satisfaction of bearing away two prizes in addition
to that already mentioned, leaving another for Hamilton, one for Ferrers,
and one for Norman.

Just as the boys had dispersed, and Reginald and Louis were arranging
a snug place in their carpet-bag for Louis' prize, a letter was put
into the hand of the former.

"From home, Reginald?" cried Louis; "I suppose it is to say who is
coming for us."

But, no;--it was to tell them of the illness of a lady who had been
staying at Dashwood Priory, which had assumed so much the character
of typhus fever, that Mr. Mortimer considered it unsafe for his boys
to return; and the letter, which was from their mother, informed
them, with many expressions of affectionate regret, that their father
had written to ask Dr. Wilkinson to keep them a few days, till it
could be decided how they were to be disposed of. Poor Louis was
grievously disappointed, and Reginald, not less so, inveighed aloud
on the folly and impertinence of ladies going to friends' houses to
fall ill there and prevent their sons from enjoying their holidays,
so long, that Louis at length could not help laughing.

"But what shall we do, Reginald? it will be so dull here."

"I shall die of the vapors, I think," said Reginald.

"Come home with me," said Salisbury, "both of you--I am sure my father
and mother will be very glad to see you."

"I should like nothing better," replied Reginald; "provided your father
and mother prove of the same accommodating opinion when you sound them."

"Charlie asked me last week to go with him, Reginald," said Louis;
"if you go with Salisbury, I shall go with him; but if you remain
here, I shall stay with you."

The brothers received invitations on all sides when their desolate
condition was known, but none could be accepted without the consent
of their parents, or in the mean time of Dr. Wilkinson, as their
guardian. It was finally, settled, that as both Salisbury and Clifton
lived in the neighborhood, their invitations might be accepted till
further notice from Dashwood.

The lady proved very ill, though, as it was not any infectious
disease, the brothers probably might have been sent for, had not
a heavy fall of snow rendered the roads near Dashwood impassable.

Louis spent nearly the whole of his holidays very happily with Charles;
becoming, during his stay with them, a great favorite with Mr. Clifton
and his little girls, as well as their nurse. Salisbury had the benefit
of Reginald's company for a fortnight, the rest of his time being
bestowed upon Meredith.

When the holidays were over, Hamilton returned for his last
half-year. The reflections induced by the preceding term were
not transient. He struggled manfully with the constitutional
indifference of his character; and though there were many failings,
for the habits were too deeply rooted to be suddenly overcome, yet
the effort was not without its use, both to himself and others.
To Louis, he was a constant and useful friend, never flagging in
his efforts to make him more manly and independent in his conduct,
as regarded the opinion of others; and also quietly strengthening,
by his example and encouragement, every good feeling and impression
he noticed. There were no tears shed, but Louis felt very low when he
bade good-bye to Hamilton, at the close of the next half-year.

"Oh, Hamilton! I owe you a great deal. What shall I do next half
without you? Who will help me?"

"Thy God, whom thou servest," said Hamilton, reverentially.
"The thanks are not to me for the help of the last few months,
Louis. Good-bye, my dear fellow--our friendship does not end
here; we are friends forever."

They shook hands warmly and parted.

Louis continued at school for two or three years longer, and
passed through the ordeal of school-life with credit to himself
and his relations. I would not be thought to mean that he never
did wrong, or was always equally steady in his Christian course;
for the Christian's whole life is a continued fight against the
evil of his nature. He still retained his strong desire to enter
the ministry of the Church, and his studies and pursuits were
principally directed to that end. It was one of his fairest
day-dreams, to be his father's curate when old enough to be
ordained, and though that might not be, he still felt, wherever
he might be placed, his language would be that of the Psalmist,
when he said--

"My soul hath a desire and a longing to enter into the courts of
the living God." "For I had rather be a door keeper in the house
of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."


THE END



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