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Title: Bert Lloyd's Boyhood - A Story from Nova Scotia
Author: Oxley, J. Macdonald (James Macdonald), 1855-1907
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.

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BERT LLOYD'S BOYHOOD.

[Illustration: "The whole crowd then precipitated themselves upon him,
and proceeded to pummel any part of his body they could reach."--_Page
165._

_Frontispiece._]

BERT LLOYD'S BOYHOOD

A Story from Nova Scotia

BY

J. MACDONALD OXLEY, LL.D.

_WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS BY J. FINNEMORE_

London

HODDER AND STOUGHTON

27, PATERNOSTER ROW

MDCCCXCII.

   EDINBURGH:
   PRINTED BY LORIMER AND GILLIES.
   31 ST. ANDREW SQUARE.



PREFACE.


There is something so pleasing to the author of this volume--the first
of several which have been kindly received by his American cousins--in
the thought of being accorded the privilege of appearing before a new
audience in the "old home," that the impulse to indulge in a foreword or
two cannot be withstood.

And yet, after all, there would seem to be but two things necessary to
be said:--Firstly, that in attempting a picture of boy life in Nova
Scotia a fifth of a century ago, the writer had simply to fall back upon
the recollections of his own school-days, and that in so doing he has
striven to depart as slightly as possible from what came within the
range of personal experience; and, Secondly, while it is no doubt to be
regretted that Canada has not yet attained that stage of development
which would enable her to support a literature of her own, it certainly
is no small consolation for her children, however ardent their
patriotism, who would fain enter the literary arena, that not only
across the Border, but beyond the ocean in the Motherland, there are
doors of opportunity standing open through which they may find their way
before the greatest and kindliest audience in the world.

   J. MACDONALD OXLEY.

   OTTAWA, CANADA,
   _29th August, 1892_.



CONTENTS.


   CHAPTER                                                          PAGE

   I. BERT IS INTRODUCED,                                              5

   II. FIREMAN OR SOLDIER,                                            11

   III. NO. FIVE FORT STREET,                                         17

   IV. OFF TO THE COUNTRY,                                            21

   V. THE RIDE IN THE COACH,                                          29

   VI. AT GRANDFATHER'S,                                              39

   VII. COUNTRY EXPERIENCES,                                          47

   VIII. TEMPTATION AND TRIUMPH,                                      57

   IX. LOST AND FOUND,                                                67

   X. BERT GOES TO SCHOOL,                                            81

   XI. SCHOOL LIFE AT MR. GARRISON'S,                                 93

   XII. A QUESTION OF INFLUENCE,                                     107

   XIII. BERT AT HOME,                                               117

   XIV. AN HONOURABLE SCAR,                                          127

   XV. A CHANGE OF SCHOOL,                                           139

   XVI. THE FIRST DAYS AT DR. JOHNSTON'S,                            151

   XVII. THE HOISTING,                                               163

   XVIII. SCHOOL EXPERIENCES,                                        175

   XIX. VICTORY AND DEFEAT,                                          187

   XX. A NARROW ESCAPE,                                              203

   XXI. LEARNING TO SWIM,                                            217

   XXII. HOW HOISTING WAS ABOLISHED,                                 227

   XXIII. PRIZE WINNING AND LOSING,                                  239

   XXIV. A CHAPTER ON PONIES,                                        253

   XXV. ABOUT TWO KINDS OF PONIES,                                   263

   XXVI. VICTORY WON FROM DEFEAT,                                    273

   XXVII. ABOUT LITERATURE AND LAW,                                  287

   XXVIII. WELL DONE, BOYS!                                          301

   XXIX. THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW,                                   315

   XXX. HOME MISSIONARY WORK,                                        325

   XXXI. NOT DEAD, BUT TRANSLATED,                                   335

   XXXII. A BOY NO LONGER,                                           349



CHAPTER I.

BERT IS INTRODUCED.


If Cuthbert Lloyd had been born in the time of our great grandfathers,
instead of a little later than the first half of the present century,
the gossips would assuredly have declared that the good fairies had had
it all their own way at his birth.

To begin with, he was a particularly fine handsome baby; for did not all
the friends of the family say so? In the second place, he was an only
son, which meant that he had no big brothers to bully him. Next, his
birthplace was the stirring seaport of Halifax, where a sturdy,
energetic boy, such as Cuthbert certainly gave good promise of being,
need never lack for fun or adventure. Finally, he had plenty of
relations in the country to whom he might go in the summer time to learn
the secrets and delights of country life.

Now, when to all these advantages are added two fond but sensible
parents in comfortable circumstances, an elder sister who loved little
Cuthbert with the whole strength of her warm unselfish heart, and a
pleasant home in the best part of the city, they surely make us as fine
a list of blessings as the most benevolent fairy godmother could
reasonably have been expected to bestow.

And yet there was nothing about Master Cuthbert's early conduct to
indicate that he properly appreciated his good fortune. He was not half
as well-behaved a baby, for instance, as red-headed little Patsey Shea,
who, a few days after his first appearance, brought another hungry mouth
to the already over-populated cottage of the milkwoman down in
Hardhand's lane. As he grew older, it needed more whippings than the sum
total of his own chubby fingers and toes to instil into him a proper
understanding of parental authority. Sometimes his mother, who was a
slight small woman, stronger of mind than of body, would feel downright
discouraged about her vigorous, wilful boy, and wonder,
half-despairingly, if she were really equal to the task of bringing him
up in the way he should go.

Cuthbert was in many respects an odd mixture. His mother often said that
he seemed more like two boys of opposite natures rolled into one, than
just one ordinary boy. When quite a little chap, he would at one time be
as full of noise, action, and enterprise as the captain of an ocean
steamer in a gale, and at another time be as sedate, thoughtful, and
absentminded as the ancient philosopher who made himself famous by
walking into a well in broad daylight.

Cuthbert, in fact, at the age of three, attracted attention to himself
in a somewhat similar way. His mother had taken him with her in making
some calls, and at Mrs. Allen's, in one of his thoughtful moods, with
his hands clasped behind him, he went wandering off unobserved.
Presently he startled the whole household by tumbling from the top to
the bottom of the kitchen stairs, having calmly walked over the edge in
an absorbed study of his surroundings.

The other side of his nature was brilliantly illustrated a year later.
Being invited to spend the day with a playmate of his own age, he built
a big fire with newspapers in the bath room, turned on all the taps,
pretending that they were the hydrants, and then ran through the hall,
banging a dustpan and shouting "fire" at the top of his voice.

"He is such a perfect 'pickle,' I hardly know what to do with him,
Robert," said Mrs. Lloyd to her husband, with a big sigh, one evening at
dinner.

"Don't worry, my dear, don't worry. He has more than the usual amount of
animal spirits, that is all. Keep a firm hand on him and he'll come out
all right," answered Mr. Lloyd, cheeringly.

"It's easy enough to say, 'Keep a firm hand on him,' Robert, but my hand
gets pretty tired sometimes, I can assure you. I just wish you'd stay at
home for a week and look after Bert, while I go to the office in your
place. You'd get a better idea of what your son is like than you can by
seeing him for a little while in the morning and evening."

"Thank you, Kate, I've no doubt you might manage to do my work at the
office, and that my clients would think your advice very good; but I'm
no less sure that I would be a dismal failure in doing your work at
home," responded Mr. Lloyd, with a smile, adding, more seriously:
"Anyway, I have too much faith in your ability to make the best of Bert
to think of spoiling your good work by clumsy interference."

"It's a great comfort to have you put so much faith in me," said Mrs.
Lloyd, with a grateful look, "for it's more than Bert does sometimes.
Why, he told me only this morning that he thought I wasn't half as good
to him as Frankie Clayton's mother is to him, just because I wouldn't
let him have the garden hose to play fireman with."

"Just wait until he's fifteen, my dear," returned Mr. Lloyd, "and if he
doesn't think then that he has one of the best mothers in the world,
why--I'll never again venture to prophesy, that's all. And here comes my
little man to answer for himself," as the door opened suddenly and Bert
burst in, making straight for his father. "Ha! ha! my boy, so your
mother says you're a perfect pickle. Well, if you're only pickled in a
way that will save you from spoiling, I shall be satisfied, and I think
your mother may be, too."

Mrs. Lloyd laughed heartily at the unexpected turn thus given to her
complaint; and Bert, seeing both his parents in such good humour, added
a beaming face on his own account, although, of course, without having
the slightest idea as to the cause of their merriment.

Climbing up on his father's knee, Bert pressed a plump cheek lovingly
against the lawyer's brown whiskers and looked, what indeed he was, the
picture of happy content.

"What sort of a man are you going to make, Bert?" asked Mr. Lloyd,
quizzingly, the previous conversation being still in his mind.

"I'm going to be a fireman," replied Bert, promptly; "and Frankie's
going to be one too."

"And why do you want to be a fireman, Bert?"

"Oh, because they wear such grand clothes and can make such a noise
without anybody telling them to shut up," answered Bert, whose knowledge
of firemen was based upon a torchlight procession of them he had seen
one night, and their management of a fire that had not long before taken
place in the near neighbourhood, and of which he was a breathless
spectator.

Mr. Lloyd could not resist laughing at his son's naive reply, but there
was no ridicule in his laugh, as Bert saw clearly enough, and he was
encouraged to add:

"Oh, father, please let me be a fireman, won't you?"

"We'll see about it, Bert. If we can't find anything better for you to
do than being a fireman, why we'll try to make a good fireman of you,
that's all. But never mind about that now; tell me what was the best fun
you had to-day." Thus invited, Bert proceeded to tell after his own
fashion the doings of the day, with his father and mother an attentive
audience.

It was their policy to always manifest a deep interest in everything
Bert had to tell, and in this way they made him understand better
perhaps than they could otherwise have done how thoroughly they
sympathised with him in both the joys and sorrows of his little life.
They were determined that the most complete confidence should be
established between them and their only boy at the start, and Bert never
appeared to such advantage as when, with eyes flashing and graphic
gestures, he would tell about something wonderful in his eyes that had
happened to him that afternoon.

By the time Bert had exhausted his budget and been rewarded with a lump
of white sugar, the nurse appeared with the summons to bed, and after
some slight demur he went off in good humour, his father saying, as the
door closed upon him:

"There's not a better youngster of his age in Halifax, Kate, even if he
hasn't at present any higher ambition than to be a fireman."



CHAPTER II.

FIREMAN OR SOLDIER.


Halifax has already been mentioned as a particularly pleasant place for
a boy to be born in; and so indeed it is. Every schoolboy knows, or
ought to know, that it is the capital of Acadia, one of the Maritime
Provinces of the Dominion of Canada. It has a great many advantages,
some of which are not shared by any other city on the continent.
Situated right on the sea coast, it boasts a magnificent harbour, in
which all the war vessels of the world, from the mightiest iron-clad to
the tiniest torpedo boat, might lie at anchor. Beyond the harbour,
separated from it by only a short strait, well-named the "Narrows," is
an immense basin that seems just designed for yachting and excursions;
while branching out from the harbour in different directions are two
lovely fiords, one called the Eastern Passage, leading out to the ocean
again, and the other running away up into the land, so that there is no
lack of salt water from which cool breezes may blow on the torrid days.

The city itself is built upon the peninsula that divides the harbour
from the north-west arm, and beginning about half-a-mile from the point
of the peninsula, runs northward almost to the Narrows, and spreads out
westward until its farthest edge touches the shore of the arm. The
"Point" has been wisely set aside for a public park, and except where a
fort or two, built to command the entrance to the harbour, intrudes upon
it, the forest of spruce and fir with its labyrinth of roads and paths
and frequent glades of soft waving grass, extends from shore to shore,
making a wilderness that a boy's imagination may easily people with
Indians brandishing tomahawk and scalping knife, or bears and wolves
seeking whom they may devour.

Halifax being the chief military and naval station for the British
Colonies in America, its forts and barracks are filled with red-coated
infantry or blue-coated artillery the whole year round. All summer long
great iron-clads bring their imposing bulks to anchor off the Dockyard,
and Jack Tars in foolish, merry, and alas! too often vicious companies,
swagger through the streets in noisy enjoyment of their day on shore.

On either side of the harbour, on the little island which rests like an
emerald brooch upon its bosom, and high above the city on the crown of
the hill up which it wearily climbs, street beyond street, stand
frowning fortresses with mighty guns thrusting their black muzzles
through the granite embrasures. In fact, the whole place is pervaded by
the influences of military life; and Cuthbert, whose home overlooked a
disused fort, now serving the rather ignoble purpose of a dwelling-place
for married soldiers, was at first fully persuaded in his mind that the
desire of his life was to be a soldier; and it was not until he went to
a military review, and realised that the soldiers had to stand up
awfully stiff and straight, and dare not open their mouths for the
world, that he dismissed the idea of being a soldier, and adopted that
of being a fireman.

Yet there were times when he rather regretted his decision, and inclined
to waver in his allegiance. His going to the Sunday school with his
sister had something to do with this. A favourite hymn with the
superintendent--who, by the way, was a retired officer--was--

   "Onward, Christian soldiers."

The bright stirring tune, and the tremendous vigour with which the
scholars sang it, quite took Cuthbert's heart. He listened eagerly, but
the only words he caught were the first, which they repeated so often:

   "Onward, Christian soldiers."

Walking home with his sister, they met a small detachment of soldiers,
looking very fine in their Sunday uniforms:

"Are those Christian soldiers, Mary?" he asked, looking eagerly up into
her face.

"Perhaps so, Bert, I don't know," Mary replied. "What makes you ask?"

"Because we were singing about Christian soldiers, weren't we?" answered
Bert.

"Oh! is that what you mean, Bert? They may be, for all I know. Would you
like to be a Christian soldier?"

"Yes," doubtfully; then, brightening up--"but couldn't I be a Christian
fireman, too?"

"Of course you could, Bert, but I'd much rather see you a Christian
soldier. Mr. Hamilton is a Christian soldier, you know."

This reply of his sister's set Bert's little brain at work. Mr.
Hamilton, the superintendent of the Sunday school, was a tall, erect
handsome man, with fine grey hair and whiskers, altogether an impressive
gentleman; yet he had a most winning manner, and Bert was won to him at
once when he was welcomed by him warmly to the school. Bert could not
imagine anything grander than to be a Christian soldier, if it meant
being like Mr. Hamilton. Still the fireman notion had too many
attractions to be lightly thrown aside, and consequently for some time
to come he could hardly be said to know his own mind as to his future.

The presence of the military in Halifax was far from being an unmixed
good. Of course, it helped business, gave employment to many hands,
imparted peculiar life and colour to society, and added many excellent
citizens to the population. At the same time it had very marked
drawbacks. There was always a great deal of drunkenness and other
dissipation among the soldiers and sailors. The officers were not the
most improving of companions and models for the young men of the place,
and in other ways the city was the worse for their presence.

Mrs. Lloyd presently found the soldiers a source of danger to her boy.
Just around the corner at the entrance to the old fort, already
mentioned, was a guardhouse, and here some half-dozen soldiers were
stationed day and night. They were usually jolly fellows, who were glad
to get hold of little boys to play with, and thereby help to while away
the time in their monotonous life. Cuthbert soon discovered the
attractions of this guardhouse, and, in spite of commands to the
contrary, which he seemed unable to remember, wandered off thither very
often. All the other little boys in the neighbourhood went there
whenever they liked, and he could not understand why he should not do so
too. He did not really mean to defy his parents. He was too young for
that, being only six years old. But the force of the example of his
playmates seemed stronger than the known wishes of his parents, and so
he disobeyed them again and again.

Mrs. Lloyd might, of course, have carried her point by shutting Bert up
in the yard, and not allowing him out at all except in charge of
somebody. But that was precisely what she did not wish to do. She knew
well enough that her son could not have a locked-up world to live in. He
must learn to live in this world, full of temptations as it is, and so
her idea was not so much to put him out of the way of temptation, as to
teach him how to withstand it. Consequently, she was somewhat at a loss
just what to do in the matter of the guardhouse, when a letter that came
from the country offered a very timely and acceptable solution of the
difficulty.



CHAPTER III.

NO. FIVE FORT STREET.


Cuthbert Lloyd's home was a happy one in every way. The house was so
situated that the sunshine might have free play upon it all day, pouring
in at the back windows in the morning and flooding the front ones with
rich and rare splendour at evening. A quiet little street passed by the
door, the gardens opposite being filled with noble trees that cast a
grateful shade during the dog days. At the back of the house was the old
fort, its turfed casemates sloping down to a sandy beach, from whose
centre a stone wharf projected out into the plashing water. Looking over
the casemates, one could see clear out to the lighthouse which kept
watch at the entrance to the harbour, and could follow the ships as they
rose slowly on the horizon or sped away with favouring breeze.

A right pleasant house to live in was No. Five Fort Street, and right
pleasant were the people who lived in it. Cuthbert certainly had no
doubt upon either point, and who had a better opportunity of forming an
opinion? Mr. Lloyd, the head of the household, was also the head of one
of the leading legal firms in Halifax. His son, and perhaps his wife and
daughter, too, thought him the finest-looking man in the city. That was
no doubt an extravagant estimate, yet it was not without excuse; for
tall, erect, and stalwart, with regular features, large brown eyes that
looked straight at you, fine whiskers and moustache, and a kindly
cordial expression, Mr. Lloyd made a very good appearance in the world.
Especially did he, since he never forgot the neatness and good taste in
dress of his bachelor days, as so many married men are apt to do.

Cuthbert's mother was of quite a different type. Her husband used to
joke her about her being good for a standard of measurement because she
stood just five feet in height, and weighed precisely one hundred
pounds. Bert, one day, seemed to realise what a mite of a woman she was;
for, after looking her all over, he said, very gravely:

"What a little mother you are! I will soon be as big as you, won't I?"

Brown of hair and eyes, like Mr. Lloyd, her face was a rare combination
of sweetness and strength. Bert thought it lovelier than any angel's he
had ever seen in a picture. Indeed, there was much of the angelic in his
mother's nature. She had marvellous control over her feelings, and never
by any chance gave way to temper openly, so that in all his young life
her boy had no remembrance of receiving from her a harsh word, or a
hasty, angry blow. Not that she was weak or indulgent. On the contrary,
not only Bert, but Bert's playmates, and some of their mothers, too,
thought her quite too strict at times, for she was a firm believer in
discipline, and Master Bert was taught to abide by rules from the
outset.

The third member of the household was the only daughter, Mary, a tall,
graceful girl, who had inherited many of her father's qualities,
together with her mother's sweetness. In Bert's eyes she was just simply
perfect. She was twice as old as he when he had six years to his credit,
and the difference in age made her seem like a second mother to him,
except that he felt free to take more liberties with her than with his
mother. But she did not mind this much, for she was passionately fond of
her little brother, and was inclined to spoil him, if anything.

As for Bert himself--well, he was just a stout, sturdy, hearty boy, with
nothing very remarkable about him, unless, perhaps, it was his
superabundant health and spirits. Nobody, unless it was that most
partial judge, Mary, thought him handsome, but everybody admitted that
he was good-looking in every sense of the term. He promised to be
neither tall, like his father, nor short, like his mother, but of a
handy, serviceable medium height, with plenty of strength and endurance
in his tough little frame. Not only were both eyes and hair brown, as
might be expected, but his face, too, as might also be expected, seeing
that no bounds were placed upon his being out of doors, so long as the
day was fine, and he himself was keeping out of mischief.

Father, mother, daughter, and son, these four made up a very
affectionate and happy family, pulling well together; and, so far as the
three older ones were concerned, with their faces and hearts set toward
Jerusalem, and of one mind as to taking Bert along with them. Mr. Lloyd
and his wife were thoroughly in accord with Dr. Austin Phelps as to
this:--That the children of Christians should be Christian from the
cradle. They accordingly saw no reason why the only son that God had
given them should ever go out into sin, and then be brought back from a
far off land. Surely, if they did their duty, he need never stray far
away. That was the way they reasoned; and although, of course, little
Bert knew nothing about it, that was the plan upon which they sought to
bring him up. The task was not altogether an easy one, as succeeding
chapters of Bert's history will make plain. But the plan was adhered to,
and the result justified its wisdom.



CHAPTER IV.

OFF TO THE COUNTRY.


The letter which came in such good time to relieve Mrs. Lloyd from the
difficulty about Bert's fondness for the guardroom and its hurtful
influences, was from her father, and contained an invitation so pressing
as to be little short of a demand, for her to pay him a long visit at
the old homestead, bringing Bert with her.

Mrs. Lloyd very readily and gladly accepted the invitation. Midsummer
was near at hand. She had not visited her old home for some years. Her
father and mother were ageing fast; and then, naturally enough, she was
eager to show them what a fine boy Bert was growing to be.

When Bert heard of it he showed the utmost delight. Three years before,
he had spent a summer at grandfather's; but, then, of course, he was too
young to do more than be impressed by the novelty of his surroundings.
The huge oxen, the noisy pigs, the spirited horses, even the clumsy
little calves, bewildered, if they did not alarm him. But now he felt
old enough to enjoy them all; and the very idea of going back to them
filled him with joy, to which he gave expression after his own
boisterous fashion.

"Mother, are we going to grandfather's to-morrow?" he would eagerly ask,
day after day, his little heart throbbing with impatience.

"We're going soon, Bert dear. You must be patient, you know," his mother
would gently reply; and the little fellow would make a very heroic
effort to control himself.

At length the day of departure arrived. Too full of importance and great
expectations to manifest a proper amount of sorrow at leaving his father
and sister, who felt very reluctant, indeed, to part with him, Master
Bert took his place in the cab and drove up to the railway station.
Hardly had he entered it than he made a dash for the train, climbed up
on the rear platform with the agility of a monkey, much to the amusement
of the conductor, whose proffer of assistance he entirely ignored; and
when Mr. Lloyd entered the train a minute later, he found his
enterprising son seated comfortably upon a central seat, and evidently
quite ready for the train to start.

"Would you go away without saying good-bye to your father and to Mary?"
asked Mr. Lloyd, in a deeply reproachful tone.

Bert blushed violently on being thus reminded of his apparent
selfishness and, with the threat of a tear in his eye, was about to
make some sort of a defence, when his father put him all right again by
saying brightly:

"Never mind, my boy. It isn't every day you go off on a
hundred-and-fifty-miles' journey. Mary and I will forgive you for
forgetting us this time, won't we, Mary?"

The lunch basket, the wraps, and their other belongings were placed on
the seat, the engine whistled, "all aboard," the bell rang, the
conductor shouted, affectionate farewells were hastily exchanged, and
presently the train rolled noisily out of the dark station into the
bright sunshine; and Bert, leaning from the window, caught a last
glimpse of his father and sister as they stood waving the handkerchiefs
which one of them, at least, could not refrain from putting to another
use, as the last car swept round the turn and vanished.

But Bert was in no mood for tears. In fact, he never felt less like
anything of the kind. He felt much more disposed to shout aloud for very
joy, and probably would have done so, but for the restraining influence
exercised by the presence of the other passengers, of whom there were a
good many in the carriage. As it was, he gave vent to his excited
feelings by being as restless as a mosquito, and asking his mother as
many questions as his active brain could invent.

"You'll be tired out by mid-day, Bert, if you go on at this rate," said
his mother, in gentle warning.

"Oh, no, I won't, mother; I won't get tired. See! What's that funny big
thing with the long legs in that field?"

"That's a frame for a hay stack, I think. You'll see plenty of those at
grandfather's."

"And what's that queer thing with arms sticking out from that building?"

"That's a wind-mill. When the wind blows hard those arms go round, and
turn machinery inside the barn."

"And has grandpapa got a wind-mill, mother?"

"Yes; he has one on his big barn."

"Oh, I'm so glad; I can watch it going round, and stand quite close,
can't I?"

"Yes, but take care not to go too close to the machinery. It might hurt
you very much, you know."

And so it went on all through the morning. Mrs. Lloyd would have liked
very much to read a little in an interesting book she had brought with
her, but what with watching Bert's restless movements, and answering his
incessant questions, there seemed slight hope of her succeeding in this
until, after they had been a couple of hours on their journey, a
good-natured gentleman on the opposite seat, who had finished his paper,
and had nothing particular to do, took in the situation and came to her
relief.

"Won't you come over and keep me company for a while, my little man?" he
said, pleasantly, leaning across the seat. "I will try and answer all
your questions for you."

Bert looked curiously at the speaker, and then, the inspection proving
satisfactory, inquiringly at his mother. She nodded her assent, so
forthwith he ran over to his new friend, and climbed up beside him. He
was given the corner next the window, and while his bright eyes took in
everything as the train sped on, his tongue wagged no less swiftly as
question followed question in quick succession. Mrs. Lloyd, thoroughly
at ease now, returned to her book with a grateful sigh of relief, and an
hour slipped away, at the end of which Bert's eyes grew heavy with
sleep. He no longer was interested in the scenery; and at last, after a
gallant struggle, his curly head fell over on the cushion, and he went
into a deep sleep, from which he did not waken until at mid-day the
train drew up at the station, beyond which they could not go by rail.

"Come, Bert, wake up! We must get out here," cried his mother, shaking
him vigorously.

Rubbing his eyes hard, yawning as though he would put his jaws out of
joint, and feeling very uncomfortable generally, Bert nevertheless
managed to pull himself together sufficiently to thank the gentleman who
had been so kind to him, before he followed his mother out of the car.

They had dinner at Thurso, and by the time it was ready Bert was ready
too. He had been altogether too much excited at breakfast time to eat
much then, but he made up for it now. Mrs. Lloyd laughed as he asked
again and again for more, but she did not check him. She knew very well
that the contented frame of mind produced by a good dinner was just the
right thing with which to enter upon the second part of their journey.
This was to be by coach, and as even the best of coaches is a pretty
cramped sort of an affair unless you have it all to yourself, the
quieter Bert was disposed to be the better for all concerned.

"What are we to ride in now, mother?" asked Bert, after the vacancy
underneath his blue blouse had been sufficiently filled to dispose him
to conversation.

"In a big red coach, dear, with six fine horses to draw us," answered
Mrs. Lloyd.

"Oh, mother, won't that be splendid? And may I sit up with the driver?"

"Perhaps you may, for a little while, anyway, if he will let you."

"Hooray!" cried Bert, clapping his hands with delight; "I'm sure the
driver will let me, if you'll only ask him. You will, won't you,
mother?"

"Yes, I will, after we get out of the town. But you must wait until I
think it's the right time to ask him."

"I'll wait, mother, but don't you forget."

Forget! There was much likelihood of Mrs. Lloyd forgetting with this
lively young monkey before her as a constant reminder.

They had just finished dinner, when, with clatter of hoofs, rattle of
springs, and crush of gravel under the heavy wheels, the great Concord
coach drew up before the hotel door in dashing style.

Bert was one of the first to greet it. He did not even wait to put on
his hat, and his mother, following with it, found him in the forefront
of the crowd that always gathers about the mail coach in a country town,
gazing up at the driver, who sat in superb dignity upon his lofty seat,
as though he had never beheld so exalted a being in his life before.

There was something so impassive, so indifferent to his surroundings,
about this big, bronzed, black-moustached, and broad-hatted driver, that
poor Bert's heart sank within him. He felt perfectly sure that _he_
could never in the world muster up sufficient courage to beg for the
privilege of a seat beside so impressive a potentate, and he doubted if
his mother could, either.

Among the passengers Bert was glad to see the gentleman who had
befriended him on the train, and when this individual, after having the
audacity to hail the driver familiarly with, "Good-morning, Jack; looks
as if we were going to have a pleasant trip down," sprang up on the
wheel, and thence to the vacant place beside Jack Davis, just as though
it belonged to him of right, a ray of hope stole into Bert's heart. If
his friend of the train, whose name, by the way, he told Bert, was Mr.
Miller, was on such good terms with the driver, perhaps he would ask him
to let a little boy sit up in front for a while.

Taking much comfort from this thought, Bert, at a call from his mother,
who was already seated, climbed up into the coach, and being allowed the
corner next the window, with head thrust forth as far as was safe he
awaited eagerly the signal to start.



CHAPTER V.

THE RIDE IN THE COACH.


The last passenger had taken his seat, the last trunk been strapped on
behind, and the canvas covering drawn tightly over it, the mail bags
safely stowed away in the capacious boot; and then big Jack Davis,
gathering the reins of his six impatient steeds skilfully into one hand,
and grasping the long-lashed whip in the other, sang out to the men who
stood at the leaders' heads:

"Let them go!"

The men dropped the bridles and sprang aside, the long lash cracked like
a pistol shot, the leaders, a beautiful pair of grey ponies, perfectly
matched, reared, curvetted, pranced about, and then would have dashed
off at a wild gallop had not Jack Davis' strong hands, aided by the
steadiness of the staider wheelers, kept them in check: and soon brought
down to a spirited canter, they led the way out of the town.

The coach had a heavy load. It could hold twelve passengers inside, and
every seat was occupied on top. Besides Mr. Miller, who had the coveted
box seat, there were two other men perched upon the coach top, and
making the best of their uncomfortable position; and there was an extra
amount of baggage.

"Plenty of work for my horses to-day, Mr. Miller," said Jack Davis,
looking carefully over the harnessing to make sure that every strap was
securely buckled, and every part in its right place.

"Yes, indeed; you'll need to keep the brake on hard going down the
hills," replied Mr. Miller.

Bending over, so that those behind could not hear him, the driver said,
under his breath:

"Don't say anything; but, to tell the truth, I'm a little shaky about my
brake. It is none too strong, and I won't go out with it again until
it's fixed; but it can't be mended this side of Riverton, and I'm going
to push through as best I can."

"Well, if anything happens, just let us know when to jump," returned Mr.
Miller, with a reassuring smile, for he felt no anxiety, having perfect
confidence in Davis' ability to bring his coach safely to the journey's
end.

It was a lovely summer day, and in the early afternoon the coach bowled
smoothly along over the well-kept road, now rolling over a wooden bridge
on whose timbers the rapid tramp of the horses' feet sounded like
thunder, climbing the slope on the other side, then rattling down into
the valley, and up the opposite hill, almost at full speed, and so on in
rapid succession. Bert, kneeling at the window, with arms resting on
the ledge, and just able to see the three horses on his side, was so
engrossed in watching them, or peering into the forest through which the
road cut its way, that he quite forgot his desire to be up on top of the
coach.

Having gone fifteen miles at a spanking pace, the coach drove into a
long--covered barn for the horses to be changed, and everybody got out
to stretch their legs; while this was being done, Bert's longing came
back in full force. As he stood watching the tired foam-flecked horses
being led away, and others, sleek, shining, and spirited put in their
places, who should pass by but Mr. Miller. Recognising at once his
little acquaintance of the morning, he greeted him with a cheery:

"Hallo! my little man, are we fellow-travellers still? And how do you
like riding in a coach?"

"I think it's just splendid, sir," replied Bert; and then, as a bright
thought flashed into his mind,--"but I do so want to be up where the
driver is."

Mr. Miller looked down at the little face turned up to his, and noting
its eager expression asked, kindly:

"Do you think your mother would let you go up there?"

"Oh, yes; she said I might if I would only wait a little, and it is a
good deal more than a little while now."

"Very well, Bert, you run and ask her if you may get up now, and I'll
try and manage it," said Mr. Miller.

Bert was not long in getting his mother's sanction, and when he returned
with beaming face, Mr. Miller taking him up to Jack Davis, said:

"Jack, this little chap is dying to sit up with us. He wants to see how
the best driver in Acadia handles his horses, I suppose."

There was no resisting such an appeal as this. Tickled with the
compliment, Jack said, graciously:

"All right, Mr. Miller, you can chuck him up, so long as you'll look
after him yourself."

And so when the fresh horses were harnessed, and the passengers back in
their places, behold Cuthbert Lloyd, the proudest, happiest boy in all
the land, perched up between the driver and Mr. Miller, feeling himself
as much monarch of all he surveyed, as ever did Robinson Crusoe in his
island home. It was little wonder if for the first mile or two he was
too happy to ask any questions. It was quite enough from his lofty, but
secure position, to watch the movements of the six handsome horses
beneath him as, tossing their heads, and making feigned nips at one
another, they trotted along with the heavy coach as though it were a
mere trifle. The road ran through a very pretty district;
well-cultivated farms, making frequent gaps in the forest, and many a
brook and river lending variety to the scene. After Bert had grown
accustomed to the novelty of his position, his tongue began to wag
again, and his bright, innocent questions afforded Mr. Miller so much
amusement, that with Jack Davis' full approval, he was invited to remain
during the next stage also. Mrs. Lloyd would rather have had him with
her inside, but he pleaded so earnestly, and Mr. Miller assuring her
that he was not the least trouble, she finally consented to his staying
up until they changed horses again.

When they were changing horses at this post, Mr. Miller drew Bert's
attention to a powerful black horse one of the men was carefully leading
out of the stable. All the other horses came from their stalls fully
harnessed, but this one had on nothing except a bridle.

"See how that horse carries on, Bert," said Mr. Miller.

And, sure enough, the big brute was prancing about with ears bent back
and teeth showing in a most threatening fashion.

"They daren't harness that horse until he is in his place beside the
pole, Bert. See, now, they're going to put the harness on him."

And as he spoke another stable hand came up, deftly threw the heavy
harness over the horse's back, and set to work to buckle it with a speed
that showed it was a job he did not care to dally over. No sooner was it
accomplished than the other horses were hastily put in their places, the
black wheeler in the meantime tramping upon the barn floor in a seeming
frenzy of impatience, although his head was tightly held.

"Now, then, 'all aboard' as quick as you can," shouted Jack Davis,
swinging himself into his seat. Mr. Miller handed up Bert and followed
himself, the inside passengers scrambled hurriedly in, and then with a
sharp whinny the black wheeler, his head being released, started off,
almost pulling the whole load himself.

"Black Rory does not seem to get over his bad habits, Jack," remarked
Mr. Miller.

"No," replied Jack; "quite the other way. He's getting worse, if
anything; but he's too good a horse to chuck over. There's not a better
wheeler on the route than Rory, once he settles down to his work."

After going a couple of miles, during which Rory behaved about as badly
as a wheeler could, he did settle down quietly to his work and all went
smoothly. They were among the hills now, and the steep ascents and
descents, sharp turns, and many bridges over the gullies made it
necessary for Davis to drive with the utmost care. At length they
reached the summit of the long slope, and began the descent into the
valley.

"I'd just as soon I hadn't any doubts about this brake," said Davis to
Mr. Miller, as he put his foot hard down upon it.

"Oh, it'll hold all right enough, Jack," replied Mr. Miller,
reassuringly.

"Hope so," said Davis. "If it doesn't, we'll have to run for it to the
bottom."

The road slanted steadily downward, and with brake held hard and
wheelers spread out from the pole holding back with all their strength,
the heavy coach lumbered cautiously down. Now it was that Black Rory
proved his worth, for, thoroughly understanding what was needed of him,
he threw his whole weight and strength back upon the pole, keeping his
own mate no less than the leaders in check.

"We'll be at Brown's Gully in a couple of minutes," said the driver.
"Once we get past there, all right; the rest won't matter."

Brown's Gully was the ugliest bit of road on the whole route. A steep
hill, along the side of which the road wound at a sharp slant, led down
to a deep, dark gully crossed by a high trestle bridge. Just before the
bridge there was a sudden turn which required no common skill to safely
round when going at speed.

As they reached the beginning of the slant, Jack Davis' face took on an
anxious look, his mouth became firm and set, his hand tightened upon the
reins, and his foot upon the brake, and with constant exclamation to his
horses of "Easy now!--go easy!--hold back, my beauties!" he guided the
great coach in its descent.

Mr. Miller put Bert between his knees, saying:

"Stick right there, my boy; don't budge an inch."

Although the wheelers, and particularly Black Rory, were doing their
best, the coach began to go faster than Davis liked, and with a shout of
"Whoa there! Go easy, will you!" he had just shoved his foot still
harder against the brake, when there was a sharp crack, and the huge
vehicle suddenly sprang forward upon the wheelers' heels.

"God help us!" cried Jack, "the brake's gone. We've got to run for it
now."

And run for it they did.

It was a time of great peril. Mr. Miller clung tightly to the seat, and
Bert shrank back between his knees. Davis, with feet braced against the
dashboard, and reins gathered close in his hands, put forth all his
great strength to control the horses, now flying over the narrow road at
a wild gallop. Brown's Gully, already sombre with the shadows of
evening, showed dark and deep before them. Just around that corner was
the bridge. Were they to meet another carriage there, it would mean
destruction to both. Davis well knew this, and gave a gasp of relief
when they swung round the corner and saw that the road was clear. If
they could only hit the bridge, all right; the danger would be passed.

"Now, Rory, _now_," shouted Davis, giving a tremendous tug at the
horse's left rein, and leaning far over in that direction himself.

[Illustration: "Davis put forth all his strength to control the horses,
now flying over the road at a wild gallop." _Page 36._]

Mr. Miller shut his eyes; the peril seemed too great to be gazed upon.
If they missed the bridge, they must go headlong into the gully. Another
moment and it was all over.

As the coach swung round the corner into the straight road beyond, its
impetus carried it almost over the edge, but not quite. With a splendid
effort, the great black wheeler drew it over to the left. The front
wheels kept the track, and although the hind wheels struck the side rail
of the bridge with a crash and a jerk that well-nigh hurled Bert out
upon the horses' backs, and the big coach leaned far over to the right,
it shot back into the road again, and went thundering over the trembling
bridge uninjured.

"Thank God!" exclaimed Mr. Miller, fervently, when the danger was
passed.

"Amen!" responded Jack Davis.

"I knew He would help us," added Bert.

"Knew who would, Bert?" inquired Mr. Miller, bending over him tenderly,
while something very like a tear glistened in his eye.

"I knew God would take care of us," replied Bert, promptly. "The driver
asked Him to; and didn't you ask Him, too?"

"I did," said Mr. Miller, adding, with a sigh, "but I'm afraid I had not
much right to expect Him to hear me."

They had no further difficulties. The road ran smoothly along the rest
of the way, and shortly after sundown the coach, with great noise and
clatter, drove into the village of Riverton, where grandpapa was to meet
Mrs. Lloyd and Bert, and take them home in his own carriage.



CHAPTER VI.

AT GRANDFATHER'S.


Easily distinguished in the crowd gathered to welcome the coach, whose
arrival was always the event of the evening, was Bert's grandfather,
Squire Stewart, a typical old Scotchman, from every point of view. As
the passengers got out, he stood watching them in silent dignity, until
Mrs. Lloyd, catching sight of him, ran impulsively up, and taking his
face between her two hands, gave him a warm kiss on each cheek, saying:

"Dear father, I'm so glad to see you looking so well."

"And I'm well pleased to see you, Kate," responded the Squire, in a tone
of deep affection, adding: "And is this your boy?" as Bert, who in the
meantime had been lifted down from his place, came to his mother's side.

"He's a fine big boy, and not ill-looking, either. I trust his manners
have not been neglected."

"You'll have to judge of that for yourself, father," replied Mrs. Lloyd.
"He's by no means perfect, but he's pretty good, upon the whole."

"Well, daughter, I'll go and get the carriage, if you'll just wait here
a moment," said Mr. Stewart, going off toward the stables.

Presently he returned, driving an elegant carriage with a fine pair of
well-matched bays, which, old man though he was, he held in complete
control.

"We won't mind the trunks now, Kate; I will send in for them in the
morning," said he, as he helped them into their seats.

Maplebank, Squire Stewart's place, was situated about four miles from
Riverton, and on the way out father and daughter had much to say to one
another. As for Bert, he sat in silence on his seat. He felt very much
awed by his grandfather. There was something so stern and severe about
his time-worn countenance, he seemed so stiff in his bearing, and his
voice had such a deep, rough tone in it, that, to tell the truth, Bert
began to feel half sorry he had come. But this feeling disappeared
entirely when, on arriving at Maplebank, he found himself in the arms of
Aunt Sarah before he had time to jump out of the carriage, and was then
passed over to his grandmother, who nearly smothered him with kisses.

If his grandfather filled him with awe, his grandmother inspired him
with love, from the very start. And no wonder, indeed, for she was the
very poetry of a grandmother. A small woman, with slender frame, already
stooping somewhat beneath the burden of years, her snow-white hair and
spotless cap framed one of the sweetest faces that ever beamed on this
earth. Bert gave her his whole heart at once, and during all the days he
spent at Maplebank she was his best loved friend.

Yet he did not fail to be very fond of his two aunts, likewise. With an
uncle, who remained at home, assisting his father in the management of
the property, they comprised the household, and the three apparently
conspired to do their best to spoil Master Bert during that summer. Bert
took very kindly to the spoiling, too, and under the circumstances it
was a wonder he did not return to Halifax quite demoralised, as regards
domestic discipline. But of this further.

They were a merry party sitting down to tea that evening, and Bert,
having appeased his hunger and found his tongue, amused them all very
much by his account of what he had seen from the coach top. The narrow
escape they had had at Brown's Gully was of course much discussed.
Squire Stewart had nothing but censure for the driver.

"The man had no business to go out with anything likely to break. Better
for you to have waited a day than run any such risks. I shall certainly
bring the matter to the attention of Mr. Lindsay," he said.

Nobody ventured to say anything to the contrary; but Bert, who was
sitting by his mother, turned an anxious face up to hers, and whispered:
"Grandpapa won't hurt Mr. Davis, will he? He was so good to me, and he
asked God to save us; and He did."

"It will be all right, dear," his mother whispered back. "Don't worry
yourself about it." And Bert, reassured, said nothing more.

Bedtime for him soon came, and then, to his great delight, he found that
instead of being banished to a room somewhere away upstairs, he was to
be put in a curious bed, that filled a corner of the parlour in which
the family sat. Bert had never seen anything like that bed before. It
looked just like a closet, but when you opened the closet door, behold,
there was a bed, and a very comfortable one, too. Just behind the
parlour, with a door between, was the best bedroom, which his mother
would have, and there Bert undressed, returning in his night-gown to say
goodnight to all before tumbling into bed.

With the closet door wide open, he could see everything that went on in
the room; and it was so delightful to lie there watching the family
reading or talking, until at last, sleep came to claim him.

"Now, if you're a good boy, and don't attempt to talk after your head's
on the pillow, I'll leave the door open, so you can see us all," said
Aunt Sarah, as she tucked Bert snugly in; and he had sense enough to be
a good boy, so that not a sound came from him ere his brown eyes closed
for the night.

Many a night after that did he lie there luxuriously, watching his
grandfather reading the newspaper, with a candle placed between his
face and the paper, in such close proximity to both, that Bert's
constant wonder was that one or the other of them never got burned; his
grandmother, whose eyes no longer permitted her to read at night,
knitting busily in her arm-chair, or nodding over her needles; Aunt
Sarah, reading in the book that always lay at hand for leisure moments;
Aunt Martha, stitching away, perhaps on some of his own torn garments;
his mother writing home to Mr. Lloyd, or to Mary; while from the
kitchen, outside, came the subdued sound of the servants' voices, as
they chattered over their tasks. Bert thought it a lovely way to go to
sleep, and often afterward, when at home, going up alone to bed in his
own room, wished that he was back at grandfather's again.

Bert slept late the next morning, for he was a very tired boy when he
went to bed; and for this once he was indulged. But as he entered the
dining-room, his grandfather, who had finished breakfast a full hour
before, looking at him with that stern expression which was habitual to
him, said:

"City boys must keep country hours when they come to the country. Early
to bed, early to rise, is the rule of this house, my boy."

Poor Bert was rather disconcerted by this reception, but managed to say:

"All right, grandpapa, I'll try," as he took his seat.

The day was full of novelty and delight to the city boy, as, under Uncle
Alec's guidance, he went about the farm, and visited the horses in the
stable, the cattle in the pasture, the pigs in the stye; and then, with
Aunt Martha, inspected the dairy, a big cool room in a small building,
well shaded by trees, where long rows of shallow pans stood filled with
rich milk or golden cream; while just before tea, Aunt Sarah claimed him
for a walk in the garden, where tiger lilies, hollyhocks, mock oranges,
peonies, and other old-fashioned flowers grew in gay profusion.

Grandmother was too much engrossed with her daughter to pay much
attention to Bert that day. Yet he had more than one token of affection
at her hands; and, taken altogether, it was a very happy day.

After tea, Mrs. Lloyd took her son off for a little chat alone, wishing
to draw him out as to his first impressions.

"Have you had a happy day, Bert?" she asked.

"Yes, indeed, mother. It has been just splendid. I think grandmamma and
uncle and my aunties are lovely, but"--and here Bert hesitated as if
afraid to finish his remark.

"But what, Bert?" asked Mrs. Lloyd. "What were you going to say when you
stopped?"

"I don't like grandpapa, mother," said Bert, after a little pause,
bringing the words out slowly, and then adding, almost in a whisper,
"I'm afraid of grandpapa, mother."

"Hush, Bert. You shouldn't say that you don't like your grandfather.
But, tell me, why are you afraid of him?"

"Oh, because he seems so cross, and isn't kind to me like the others."

"But he isn't really cross, Bert. He loves you quite as much as the
others do, but then he is an old man and has a great deal to think
about. Now, Bert darling, I want you to learn to love your grandpapa,
and to try and never be any bother to him. You will, won't you?"

"I'll try not to be a bother to him, mother, but I don't think it's much
use my trying to love him unless he stops looking so cross."

"Well, try your best, at all events, Bert," said Mrs. Lloyd, giving her
son a tender kiss. "And now come, let's see if we can find
grandmother."



CHAPTER VII.

COUNTRY EXPERIENCES.


Bert had come to Maplebank just in time for the haying season. The long
slopes of upland and the level stretches of intervale waved before the
breeze their russet and green wealth, awaiting the summons of the scythe
and reaper. A number of extra hands had been hired to help in gathering
the crop, which this year was unusually abundant, and a few days after
Bert's coming the attack was begun.

The mowing machine had not yet reached Maplebank. The papers were
talking about it a good deal, but Squire Stewart was not the man to
quickly adopt new inventions, and nobody else in the neighbourhood could
afford to do so. Consequently, the West River Valley still continued to
witness the good, old-fashioned way of mowing with the scythe; and Bert,
accompanying Uncle Alec to the field, was filled with admiration for the
stalwart "Rorys" and "Donalds" and "Sandys" as they strode along through
the thick grass, cutting a wide swath before them. There was something
in the work that appealed to the boy's bump of destructiveness, and
filled him with eagerness to join in it.

"Oh, Uncle Alec, mayn't I mow?" he asked.

"Certainly, Bert, if you know how; but if you don't, I wouldn't advise
you to try it," was the smiling reply.

Not at all discouraged, Bert waited patiently until one of the mowers
stopped to sharpen his scythe, and then stepping to him, asked, in his
most engaging way:

"Please, sir, won't you let me mow a little?"

The man looked down at him in surprise.

"You couldn't hold a scythe, sonny," he said, with a grin of amusement.

"Oh, yes, I could. Please let me try; won't you?" pleaded Bert.

The man yielded, and placing his scythe in Bert's hands, told him to go
ahead.

With much difficulty Bert succeeded in grasping the two short handles
which projected from the long curved shaft, and, summoning all his
strength, he tried to move the scythe in the way the mowers were doing.
But at the first attempt the sharp point stuck in the turf, and
instantly the long handle flew up, turned over, and hit him a hard
crack, square between the eyes, that felled him to the ground.

The stars were dancing before his eyes, and the next moment the tears
would have been there too, had he not, as he picked himself up, caught
sight of the men laughing heartily over his mishap.

"They shan't see me cry," said he to himself; and, putting forth a
heroic effort, he swallowed his tears, though the gulping them down was
positively painful, and, standing up straight, looked bravely about him.
Uncle Alec saw it all and understood just how Bert felt.

"Well done, my little hero," said he, clapping him on the back. "You
have the right stuff in you."

"That he has, sir," said Big Sandy, with an admiring look. "He would
make a right good laddie for the farm."

Bert's heart was filled with joy at these praises, and he determined
that nobody on the farm should ever see him cry, unless he really
couldn't at all help it.

The scythe handle gave him quite an ugly bruise, which caused many a
question when he went back to the house; and Aunt Sarah, who was as
nervous as she was loving and sympathetic, made much ado over it, and
insisted on a bandage, which made Bert look like a little soldier who
had been in action. Mrs. Lloyd took the matter much more quietly. She
knew her son had to get his share of bumps and bruises, and that each
one would bring wisdom with it; so she contented herself with a kiss of
sympathy, and the hope that he would have better fortune next time.

The succeeding days were full of surprises and enjoyments to Bert.

His mother gave him full liberty to go and come as he pleased, so long
as he did not roam beyond the borders of the homestead, except when
with Uncle Alec. The hay mows, the carriage loft, the sheep pens, the
cattle stalls, were all explored; and ever so many cosy little nooks
discovered, that seemed just made for "hide and seek" or "I spy." Squire
Stewart had three barns on his homestead; one very large double barn,
and two smaller ones. Each of these had its own attractions; but the big
barn, that stood to your left, half way between the red gate and the
house, was the best of all. It contained great hay mows, in which vast
quantities of hay could be stored; a row of stalls where the horses
stood when not out at pasture; queer dark pens, into which the sheep
were gathered at winter time; and then, down underneath, great ranges of
uprights, between which the patient cattle were fastened, and fed with
hay, in the months when the snow lay deep upon their accustomed
pastures. There was an air of shadowy mystery about this huge, rambling
structure, with its lichen-patched roof, that fascinated Bert, and that
even the saucy chirpings of the sparrows, which boldly built their nests
in its dusty corners, could not dispel.

Bert often wished that his city playmates could come and share with him
the enjoyments of "grandfather's." He was not without companions,
however. Cameron, the big blacksmith at the cross-roads, had three
freckle-faced boys that were very glad to play with the little gentleman
at Squire Stewart's, when they could get away from the numerous duties
they were required to do at home; and other playmates soon turned up.
Bert was at first not very much inclined to be sociable with them. Not
only did they seem to have no shoes and stockings, but their entire
clothing was usually limited to a battered straw hat, an unbleached
cotton shirt, and a pair of rough homespun trousers; and the city boy
was inclined to look upon the country lads with some contempt, until his
Aunt Martha cured him effectually one day by a remark made in a quiet
way.

Bert had been making some unflattering comments upon the barefooted
youngsters, when Aunt Martha interrupted him:

"You had better not make fun of those boys, Bert," said she, with a
curious smile. "They may look as though they were poor, but remember
that their fathers have all of them their own carriage and horses, and
your father has not."

Bert saw the point at once, and never again ventured to ridicule boys
who were the sons of "real carriage folk." Not only so, but he began at
once to feel a respect for them, which wrought such a change in his
bearing toward them, that they, who were not at all favourably impressed
at first, changed their minds and decided that he was a "right smart
little fellow."

It was while playing "hide and seek" in the big barn with half-a-dozen
of these youngsters, that Bert had a narrow escape from serious injury,
if not, indeed, from death. The great, gaping mows were being filled
with hay, which was pitched in any way, and not, of course, packed
firmly. Consequently, it was in some places like snow upon the Alpine
slopes--ready to fall in an avalanche, at the slightest temptation.

In endeavouring to reach a far corner of the barn, where he felt sure no
one could possibly find him, Bert tried to cross a hill of hay, that had
piled up in one division of the mow. His hasty movements were just what
was needed to bring the whole mass toppling down in confusion to the
bottom of the mow. Unfortunately for him, he was involved in the
overthrow, and without a moment's warning was buried beneath a huge mass
of hay. As he went sliding helplessly down he uttered a cry of terror,
which startled little Rory Chisholm, who sprang out from his
hiding-place just in time to see poor Bert disappear.

"Hi! Hi! boys--come here; Bert Lloyd's under the hay."

The boys quickly gathered, and with eager hands set to work, to rescue
their imperiled playmate. But, vigorously though they toiled, it was
slow progress they made; and in the meantime the little fellow, pressed
upon by many hundredweight of hay, was fast losing breath and
consciousness. He could hear them very indistinctly, but could not make
a sound himself.

By a fortunate accident, one of the men happened along, just as the
boys were near giving up the task as too great for them.

"Donald! Donald! Quick! Bert Lloyd's under the hay. Dig him out, or
he'll die," cried Rory, at the top of his voice.

Seizing a pitchfork, Donald attacked the hay like a giant, getting more
and more careful as he drew near the bottom of the mow, until at last,
with a shout of "I've got him," he stooped down and dragged the
senseless form of Bert from the very bottom of the pile. Taking him in
his arms, he ran with him to the house, and gave Aunt Sarah a great
fright by suddenly plumping him into her lap, as she sat on the verandah
reading, saying, breathlessly:

"Here, miss, bring him to, and he'll be none the worse for it."

Aunt Sarah screamed for hartshorn, spirits of wine, and the dear knows
what, but Mrs. Lloyd, bringing a glass of water, dashed it freely over
her boy's pale face, and in a minute or two he opened his eyes again. As
Donald said, he was none the worse for his experience, for no bones were
broken, nor muscles strained; yet all felt thankful that he had escaped
so well.

It was not long after this that Bert had another adventure, which also
came near costing him his life. He was not only very fond of water, but
as fearless about it as a Newfoundland puppy. The blue sea, calm as a
mirror or flecked with "white caps," formed part of his earliest
recollections. He would play at its margin all day long, building forts
out of sand for the advancing billows of the tide to storm and
overwhelm. He was never happier than when gliding over it in his
father's skiff. It was the last thing in nature he looked upon before
lying down at night, and the first thing to which he turned on awaking
in the morning. Thus he got so used to the great salt sea, that when he
came to Maplebank and looked at the quiet stream, which glided along so
noiselessly at the bottom of the slope before the house, he thought it a
mere plaything, and could hardly be made to understand that, innocent as
the river appeared, there was water enough in it to drown him ten times
over.

One day some of the village folk came out to spend the day at Maplebank,
and the weather being decidedly warm, Uncle Alec proposed that the men
of the party should go with him for a bathe. They gladly assented, and
Bert having begged to accompany them was given leave to do so. Uncle
Alec took them to a lovely spot for a bath--a tempting nook in which one
might almost have expected to surprise a water nymph or two, if you drew
near quietly enough. On one side, the bank rose high and steep,
affording perfect seclusion; a narrow beach of gravel made a fine place
for undressing. The river rolled gently along with plenty of depth, and
beyond it was another beach, and then the swelling intervale.

Amid much laughter and excitement the men undressed, Uncle Alec allowing
Bert to do the same, as he had promised to carry him across the river on
his back. So soon as they were ready the bathers dived in; and, with
much splashing and noise, swam races to the opposite bank, leaving Bert
alone upon the shore. Skylarking with one another there they quite
forgot their little companion until Uncle Alec looking across, gave a
start, and cried out:

"Hallo! What's become of the boy?"

Not a sign of Bert was to be seen. His little pile of clothes, with hat
placed carefully on top, was plain enough but no Bert. Full of anxiety,
Uncle Alec sprang into the water, and with great sweeping strokes made
for the other side. The water fairly foamed about his broad, white
shoulders as he tore through it. He steered straight for the spot where
he had seen Bert last. Three-fourths of the distance had been covered,
when suddenly he stopped, and reaching down into the water, pulled
up--What do you think? Why, Bert, of course, whose big brown eyes had
startled him as they looked up at him through the clear, cool water. But
how did Bert get there? Well, easily enough. He had got tired waiting
for his uncle to come back for him. He wanted to be over there where the
men were all having such fun. He could not swim across, so he just
coolly accepted the only alternative, and started to walk across! When
Uncle Alec found him there was a clear foot of water over his head. A
step or two more and he would certainly have lost his footing, been
carried away by the current, and drowned perhaps before Uncle Alec could
have found him.

The men all voted him a young hero when they were told of his attempt,
and Uncle Alec vowed he'd teach him to swim the next time he paid a
visit to Maplebank.

Aunt Sarah was greatly excited when she heard of her darling Bert's
second escape, and had Mrs. Lloyd taken her advice the poor boy would
have been tied to somebody's apron strings for the rest of the summer.
But Mrs. Lloyd thought it better to do no more than caution Bert, and
trust to the Providence that protects children to keep him from harm. He
would have to learn to take care of himself sooner or later, and the
sooner the better.



CHAPTER VIII.

TEMPTATION AND TRIUMPH.


The one day in the week that Bert did not like at Maplebank was Sunday;
and, indeed, under the circumstances, he was not without excuse. At
home, the Lord's Day was always made as bright and cheerful as possible.
The toys and playthings of the week-days were of course put aside, and
wading by the seashore or coasting down the lane was not to be thought
of, but in their place Bert had his father's company, of which he never
had enough, and Mr. Lloyd made it a point, whether he really felt in
good spirits himself or not, to appear to be so to Bert; and, in
consequence, the little chap never thought his father quite so
delightful as on the day of rest, that was so welcome to the lawyer,
tired by a week's toil at his profession.

Then mother had more leisure, too; and besides the pleasure of going
with his parents to church, dressed in his best clothes, a privilege
Bert fully appreciated, there was the enjoyment of having her read to
him wonderfully interesting stories from the Bible or Pilgrim's
Progress, and explaining to him whatever puzzled his brain.

If the day was fine, Mary would take him with her to the Sunday school,
where, with a number of youngsters like himself, the hour would pass
quickly enough, as Miss Brightley entertained them with song and story,
and pictures bearing upon the lesson. And then, after Sunday school, in
summer time, his father would lead him off to the old fort, where they
would sit on the grassy ramparts, watching the white sailed ships
cleaving the blue waters, that never seemed more beautiful than on
Sunday afternoon.

But at Maplebank it was all very different. Squire Stewart was a
Presbyterian of the stern old Covenanter stock. To him the Lord's Day
meant a day to be spent in unsmiling strictness of conversation and
demeanour. No laughter, no bright talk, no semblance of joyousness was
sanctioned; nor, indeed, could have existed within the range of his
solemn countenance. He was a grave and silent man at any time, but on
Sunday the gravity of his appearance was little short of appalling. One
meeting him for the first time would certainly have thought that he had
just been visited by some overwhelming affliction. Bert, on the morning
of his first Sunday, coming out of his mother's room, after receiving
the finishing touches to his dress, and dancing along the hall, in
joyous anticipation of the drive in the big carriage to the village, ran
right into his grandfather. Laying a strong hand on the boy's shoulder,
Squire Stewart looked down at him, with disapproval written on every
line of his stern face.

"My boy," said he, in his deepest tones, "know you not that this is the
Sabbath day, and that you are to keep it holy, and not be dancing along
the hall?"

Poor Bert shrank away, with a trembling, "I didn't mean to, sir," and
thenceforth avoided his grandfather as completely as though he were a
criminal and the Squire was a policeman.

Not only at the house, but at the church, did Bert find Sunday a day of
dreariness. And here again, who could blame him? He was only a boy and a
very restless, active boy, at that, to whom one half-hour's sitting
still was about as much as he could endure. How, then, could he be
expected to be equal to four whole hours of stillness? Yet that was what
his grandfather required of him whenever he went to church.

The order of the day was as follows:--Leaving the house about ten
o'clock in the big covered carriage, of which the Squire felt duly
proud, as being the only one in the county, they drove leisurely into
the village, where the horses were put up, and after the ladies had
dropped in at a friend's to make sure their bonnets and dresses were as
they ought to be, they wended their way to the church, which, standing
right in the centre of the village, was noisily summoning its
worshippers to its seats as the big bell swung to and fro high up in the
steeple.

The church service began at eleven o'clock, and was of the most
old-fashioned orthodox type. No organ had yet profaned the sanctity of
that holy place, but instead thereof, a quartette of singers, selected
seemingly more for the strength than the sweetness of their voices,
occupied a large box right under the pulpit, and thence led the
congregation by a whole bar at least, in the rendering of Tate and
Brady's metrical version of the Psalms. Very weird and sorrowful were
many of the tunes. None were bright and inspiring like those Bert was
wont to hear at home, and as choir and congregation vied with one
another in the vigour of their singing, the little fellow was sometimes
half-frightened at the bewildering noise they made.

A saintlier pastor than the Reverend Mr. Goodman, D.D., few
congregations possessed; but only those members of his audience who were
of like age with himself thought him a good preacher. He had, indeed,
some gifts in expounding the Bible, and even Bert would be interested if
the lesson happened to be one of those stirring stories from the Old
Testament which seem so full of life and truth. But when it came to
preaching a sermon--well, it must be confessed there were then few dryer
preachers throughout the whole Province of Acadia. Bending low over his
manuscript, for his eyesight was poor, and lifting his head only now
and then to wipe his brow, or relieve his throat, with a dry, hard
cough, Mr. Goodman pursued his way steadily and monotonously from
"firstly" to "lastly" every Sunday.

And not only once, but twice on every Sunday. For be it understood, that
although many of the congregation lived too far away from the church to
make two trips to it from their homes, they were not thereby going to be
deprived of two services. Accordingly, after the morning service--which
usually lasted until one o'clock--was over, a recess of one hour for
lunch and fresh air followed, and at two o'clock a second service,
precisely similar in character, was entered upon, which occupied two
hours more. And then, having thus laid in a supply of sound theology for
the rest of the week, the good people of Calvin church, after indulging
in a little harmless gossiping at the church door--of which indulgence,
by the way, Squire Stewart strongly disapproved, and would have
prohibited, had he been able--harnessed up their horses and drove away
home.

Four hours of church service of so unattractive a character, and that in
mid-summer! Poor little Bert! He did not want to shock his grandfather,
or bring his mother's discipline into condemnation; but really, how
could he be all that the Squire, who, if he ever had been a boy himself,
must have quite forgotten about it, expected him to be? If he went to
sleep, Aunt Sarah or Aunt Martha, in obedience to signals from
grandfather, shook or pinched him awake again. If he stayed awake, he
felt that he must wriggle or die. Sometimes the temptation to scream out
loud was so strong that it seemed little short of a miracle he did not
yield to it. Mrs. Lloyd fully sympathised with her son's troubles, but
accustomed from infancy to obey her father unquestioningly, she would
not venture to do more than softly plead for Bert, now and then, when he
was more restless than usual. Her pleadings were not altogether vain,
and frequently they had the result of securing for Bert a boon that he
highly appreciated.

Squire Stewart was bothered by a troublesome chronic cough. He did not
mind it very much when at home, but at church he felt it to be a
nuisance both to himself and his neighbours. To ease it somewhat he
always carried to church with him a number of black currant lozenges, a
supply of which he kept in his big mahogany desk at home. Occasionally,
either as encouragement to him to try and be a better boy, or as a token
of relenting for being over severe, he would pass Bert one of these
lozenges, and Bert thought them the most delicious and desirable
sweetmeat ever invented. Not that they were really anything wonderful,
though they were very expensive; but the circumstances under which he
received them gave them a peculiar relish; and it was in regard to them
that Bert fought and won the sharpest battle with the tempter of all his
early boyhood. It happened in this way:

As already mentioned, Squire Stewart kept a supply of these lozenges in
his big mahogany desk, that had a table to itself in the parlour. This
desk was always kept locked, and Bert had many a time, when alone in the
room, gone up to it, and passed his hand over its polished surface,
thinking to himself how nice it would be if the package of lozenges was
in his pocket instead of shut up in there where nobody could get at it.

One morning, as Bert was playing about the house, a message came that
the Squire was wanted at once at the farthest barn, as one of the horses
had been hurt by another. He went out hastily, and shortly after, Bert,
going into the parlour, saw the desk wide open, his grandfather having
been looking for a paper when so suddenly called away. The moment his
eyes fell upon the open desk, a thought flashed into his mind that set
every nerve tingling. As though the old desk exerted some strange and
subtle fascination, he drew near it; slowly, hesitatingly, almost on
tiptoe, yet steadily. His heart beat like a trip-hammer, and his ears
were straining to catch the slightest sound of any one's approach. The
house was wonderfully quiet. He seemed to be quite alone in it; and
presently he found himself close beside the desk. Although open, the
inner lids were still shut, and ere Bert put out his hand to lift the
one under which he thought the package of lozenges lay, the thought of
the wrong he was doing came upon him so strongly as well-nigh to
conquer the temptation. For a moment he stood there irresolute; and then
again the hand that had dropped to his side was stretched forth. As it
touched the desk lid a thrill shot through his heart; and again he
hesitated and drew back.

It was really a tremendous struggle, and one upon which great issues
hung, so far as that boy, alone in that room with the tempter, was
concerned. Bert fully realized how wrong it would be for him to touch
the lozenges; but, oh! what a wonderful fascination they had for him!

Reaching forward again, he lifted up the desk lid, and there, fully
exposed to view, lay the package temptingly wide open, displaying its
toothsome contents. The crisis of the temptation had come. An instant
more, and Bert would have yielded; when suddenly his better nature got
the upper hand, and with a quick resolution, the secret of which he
never fully understood, he cried out:

"No, I won't." And slamming down the desk lid, he tried to run out of
the room, and ran right into the arms of his grandfather, who, unseen
and unsuspected, had witnessed the whole transaction from the door.

Overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and terror at having been detected by
the one person of all others whom he dreaded most, Bert sank down on the
floor, sobbing as though his heart would break. But, strange to say, the
stern old man had no harsh words for him now. On the contrary, he bent
down and lifting the little fellow gently to his feet said, in tones of
deepest tenderness:

"No tears, laddie; no tears. You've fought a grand fight, and glad am I
that I was there to see you win it. God grant you like success to the
end of your days. I'm proud of you, Bert boy; I'm proud of you."

Scarce able to believe his ears, Bert looked up through his tears into
his grandfather's face. But there was no mistaking the expression of
that rugged old countenance. It fairly beamed with love and pride, and
throwing himself into his arms, Bert for the first time realised that
his grandfather loved him.

He never forgot that scene. Many a time after it came back to him, and
helped him to decide for the right. And many a time, too, when
grandfather seemed unduly stern, did the remembrance of his face that
morning in the parlour drive away the hard feelings that had begun to
form against him.



CHAPTER IX.

LOST AND FOUND.


The summer days passed very quickly and happily for Bert at Maplebank,
especially after the surprising revelation of the love and tenderness
that underlay his grandfather's stern exterior. No one did more for his
comfort or happiness than his grandmother, and he loved her accordingly
with the whole strength of his young heart. She was so slight and frail,
and walked with such slow, gentle steps, that the thought of being her
protector and helper often came into his mind and caused him to put on a
more erect, important bearing as he walked beside her in the garden, or
through the orchard where the apples were already beginning to give
promise of the coming ripeness.

Mrs. Stewart manifested her love for her grandson in one way that made a
great impression upon Bert. She would take him over to the dairy, in its
cool place beneath the trees, and, selecting the cooler with the
thickest cream upon it, would skim off a teaspoonful into a large spoon
that was already half filled with new oatmeal, and then pour the
luscious mixture into the open mouth waiting expectantly beside her.

"Is not that fine, Bertie boy?" she would say, patting him
affectionately upon the head; and Bert, his mouth literally too full for
utterance, would try to look the thanks he could not speak.

Maplebank had many strange visitors. It stood a little way back from the
junction of three roads, and the Squire's hospitality to wayfarers being
unbounded, the consequence was that rarely did a night pass without one
or more finding a bed in some corner of the kitchen. Sometimes it would
be a shipwrecked sailor, slowly finding his way on foot to the nearest
shipping port. Sometimes a young lad with pack on back, setting out to
seek his fortune at the capital, or in the States beyond. Again it would
be a travelling tinker, or tailor, or cobbler, plying his trade from
house to house, and thereby making an honest living.

But the most frequent visitors of all--real nuisances, though, they
often made themselves--were the poor, simple folk, of whom a number of
both sexes roamed ceaselessly about. Not far from Maplebank was what the
better class called a "straglash district"--that is, a settlement
composed of a number of people who had by constant intermarriage, and
poor living, caused insanity of a mild type to be woefully common.
Almost every family had its idiot boy or girl, and these poor creatures,
being, as a rule, perfectly harmless, were suffered to go at large, and
were generally well treated by the neighbours, upon whose kindness they
were continually trespassing.

The best known of them at the time of Bert's visit, was one called
"Crazy Colin," a strange being, half wild, half civilised, with the
frame of an athlete, and the mind of a child. Although more than thirty
years of age, he had never shown much more sense than a two-year-old
baby. He even talked in a queer gibberish, such as was suitable to that
stage of childhood. Everybody was kind to him. His clothes and his food
were given him. As for a roof, he needed none in summer save when it
stormed, and in winter he found refuge among his own people. His chief
delight was roaming the woods and fields, talking vigorously to himself
in his own language, and waving a long ash staff that was rarely out of
his hands. He would thus spend whole days in apparent content, returning
only when the pangs of hunger could be borne no longer.

Bert took a great deal of interest in these "straglash" people, and
especially in Crazy Colin, who was a frequent visitor at the Squire's
kitchen, for Mrs. Stewart never refused him a generous bowl of porridge
and milk, or a huge slice of bread and butter. At first he was not a
little afraid of Crazy Colin. But soon he got accustomed to him, and
then, boy-like, presuming upon acquaintance, began to tease him a bit
when he would come in for a "bite and sup." More than once the idiot's
eyes flashed dangerously at Bert's prank; but, fool though he was, he
had sense enough to understand that any outbreak would mean his prompt
expulsion and banishment, and so he would restrain himself. One
memorable day, however, when Bert least expected or invited it, the
demon of insanity broke loose in a manner that might have had serious
consequences.

It was on a Sunday. The whole family had gone off to church, except
Bert, who had been left at home in the charge of the cook. She was a
strapping big Scotch lassie, and very fond of Bert. About an hour after
the family left, Crazy Colin sauntered along and took his seat in the
kitchen. Neither Kitty nor Bert was by any means pleased to see him, but
they thought it better to keep their feelings to themselves. Bert,
indeed, made some effort to be entertaining, but Crazy Colin seemed in
rather a sulky mood, an unusual thing for him, so Bert soon gave it up,
and went off into the garden.

The roses were blooming beautifully there, and he picked several before
returning to the kitchen. When he came back, he found the unwelcome
visitor alone, Kitty having gone into the other part of the house. He
was sitting beside the table with his head bent forward upon his hands,
apparently in deep dejection. Upon the table was a large knife which
Kitty had just been using in preparing the meat for dinner. Thinking it
would please poor Colin, Bert selected the finest rose in his bunch and
handed it to him, moving off toward the door leading into the hall as
he did so. Colin lifted his head and grasped the rose rudely. As his big
hand closed upon it, a thorn that hid under the white petals pierced
deep into the ball of his thumb. In an instant the sleeping demon of
insanity awoke. With eyes blazing and frame trembling with fury, he
sprang to his feet, seized the knife, and with a hoarse, inarticulate
shout, turned upon Bert, who, paralysed with terror, stood rooted to the
spot half-way between the idiot and the door. It was a moment of
imminent peril, but ere Crazy Colin could reach the boy, his hoarse cry
was echoed by a shrill shriek from behind Bert, and two stout arms
encircling him, bore him off through the door and up the stairs, pausing
not until Squire Stewart's bedroom was gained and the door locked fast.
Then depositing her burden upon the floor, brave, big Kitty threw
herself into a chair, exclaiming, breathlessly:

"Thank God, Master Bert, we're safe now. The creature darsen't come up
those stairs."

And Kitty was right; for although Crazy Colin raged and stormed up and
down the hall, striking the wall with the knife, and talking in his
wild, unintelligible way, he did not attempt to set foot upon the
stairs. Presently he became perfectly quiet.

"Has he gone away, Kitty?" asked Bert, eagerly, speaking for the first
time. "He's not making any noise now."

Kitty stepped softly to the door, and putting her ear to the crack,
listened intently for a minute.

"There's not a sound of him, Master Bert. Please God, he's gone, but we
hadn't better go out of the room until the folks come home. He may be
waiting in the kitchen."

And so they stayed, keeping one another company through the long hours
of the morning and afternoon until at last the welcome sound of wheels
crushing the gravel told that the carriage had returned, and they might
leave their refuge.

The indignation of Squire Stewart when he heard what had occurred was a
sight to behold. Sunday though it was, he burst forth into an
unrestrained display of his wrath, and had the cause of it ventured
along at the time, he certainly would have been in danger of bodily
injury.

"The miserable trash!" stormed the Squire. "Not one of them shall ever
darken my threshold again. Hech! that's what comes of being kind to such
objects. They take you to be as big fools as themselves, and act
accordingly. The constable shall lay his grip on that loon so sure as I
am a Stewart."

There were more reasons for the Squire's wrath, too, than the fright
Crazy Colin had given Bert and Kitty, for no dinner awaited the hungry
church-goers, and rejoiced as they all were at the happy escape of the
two who had been left at home, that was in itself an insufficient
substitute for a warm, well-cooked dinner. But Kitty, of course, could
not be blamed, and there was nothing to be done but to make the best of
the situation, and satisfy their hunger upon such odds and ends as the
larder afforded.

As for poor Crazy Colin, whether by some subtle instinct on coming to
himself he realised how gravely he had offended, or whether in some way
or other he got a hint of the Squire's threats, cannot be said. Certain
it was, that he did not present himself at Maplebank for many days
after, and then he came under circumstances, which not only secured him
complete forgiveness, but made him an actual hero, for the time, and won
him a big place in the hearts of both Bert and his mother.

Although Bert had been forbidden to leave the homestead, unless in
company with some grown-up person, he had on several occasions forgotten
this injunction, in the ardour of his play, but never so completely as
on the day that, tempted by Charlie Chisholm, the most reckless, daring
youngster in the neighbourhood, he went away off into the back-lands, as
the woods beyond the hill pasture were called, in search of an eagle's
nest, which the unveracious Charlie assured him was to be seen high up
in a certain dead monarch of the forest.

It was a beautiful afternoon, toward the end of August, when Bert, his
imagination fired by the thought of obtaining a young eagle, Charlie
having assured him that this was entirely possible, broke through all
restraints, and went off with his tempter. Unseen by any of the
household, as it happened, they passed through the milk yard, climbed
the hill, hastened across the pasture, dotted with the feeding cows, and
soon were lost to sight in the woods that fringed the line of settlement
on both sides of the valley, and farther on widened into the great
forest that was traversed only by the woodsman and the hunter.

On and on they went, until at length Bert was tired out. "Aren't we far
enough now, Charlie?" he asked, plaintively, throwing himself down upon
a fallen tree to rest a little.

"Not quite, Bert; but we'll soon be," answered Charlie. "Let's take a
rest, and then go ahead," he added, following Bert's example.

Having rested a few minutes, Charlie sprang up saying:

"Come along, Bert; or we'll never get there." And somewhat reluctantly
the latter obeyed. Deeper and deeper into the forest they made their
way, Charlie going, ahead confidently, and Bert following doubtfully;
for he was already beginning to repent of his rashness, and wish that he
was home again.

Presently Charlie showed signs of being uncertain as to the right route.
He would turn first to the right and then to the left, peering eagerly
ahead, as if hoping to come upon the big dead tree at any moment.
Finally he stopped altogether.

"See here, Bert; I guess we're on the wrong track," said he, coolly.
"I've missed the tree somehow, and it's getting late, so we'd better
make for home. We'll have a try some other day."

Poor little Bert, by this time thoroughly weary, was only too glad to
turn homeward, and the relief at doing this gave him new strength for a
while. But it did not last very long, and soon, footsore and exhausted,
he dropped down upon a bank of moss, and burst into tears.

"Oh, Charlie, I wish we were home," he sobbed. "I'm so tired, and
hungry, too."

Charlie did not know just what to do. It was getting on toward sundown;
he had quite lost his way, and might be a good while finding it again,
and he felt pretty well tired himself. But he put on a brave face and
tried to be very cheerful, as he said:

"Don't cry, Bert. Cheer up, my boy, and we'll soon get home."

It was all very well to say "cheer up," but it was another thing to do
it. As for getting home soon, if there were no other way for Bert to get
home than by walking the whole way, there was little chance of his
sleeping in his own bed that night.

How thoroughly miserable he did feel! His conscience, his legs, and his
stomach, were all paining him at once. He bitterly repented of his
disobedience, and vowed he would never err in the same way again. But
that, while it was all very right and proper, did not help him homeward.

At length Charlie grew desperate. He had no idea of spending the night
in the woods if he could possibly help it, so he proposed a plan to
Bert:

"See here, Bert," said he, "you're too played out to walk any more. Now,
I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll run home as fast as I can, and saddle
the old mare and bring her here, and then we'll ride back again
together. What do you say?"

"Oh, don't leave me here alone?" pleaded Bert. "I'll be awfully
frightened."

"Chut! Bert. There's nothing to frighten you but some old crows. Stay
just where you are, and I'll be back inside of an hour." And without
waiting to argue the point, Charlie dashed off into the woods in the
direction he thought nearest home; while Bert, after crying out in vain
for him to come back, buried his face in the moss and gave himself up to
tears.

One hour, two hours, three hours passed, and still Bert was alone. The
sun had set, the gloaming well-nigh passed, and the shadows of night
drew near. All kinds of queer noises fell upon his ear, filling him with
acute terror. He dared not move from the spot upon which Charlie had
left him, but sat there, crouched up close against a tree, trembling
with fear in every nerve. At intervals he would break out into vehement
crying, and then he would be silent again. Presently the darkness
enveloped him, and still no succour came.

Meantime, there had been much anxiety at Maplebank. On Bert's being
missed, diligent inquiry was made as to his whereabouts, and at length,
after much questioning, some one was found who had seen him, in company
with Charlie Chisholm, going up through the hill pasture toward the
woods. When Mrs. Lloyd heard who his companion was, her anxiety
increased, for she well knew what a reckless, adventurous little fellow
Charlie was, and she determined that search should be made for the boys
at once. But in this she was delayed by Uncle Alec and the men being off
at a distance, and not returning until supper time. So soon as they did
get back, and heard of Bert's disappearance, they swallowed their
supper, and all started without delay to hunt him up.

The dusk had come before the men--headed by Uncle Alec, and followed, as
far as the foot of the hill, by the old Squire--got well started on
their search; but they were half-a-dozen in number, and all knew the
country pretty well, so that the prospect of their finding the lost boy
soon seemed bright enough.

Yet the dusk deepened into darkness, and hour after hour passed--hours
of intense anxiety and earnest prayer on the part of the mother and
others at Maplebank--without any token of success.

Mrs. Lloyd was not naturally a nervous woman, but who could blame her if
her feelings refused control when her darling boy was thus exposed to
dangers, the extent of which none could tell.

The Squire did his best to cheer her in his bluff blunt way:

"Tut! tut! Kate. Don't worry so. The child's just fallen asleep
somewhere. He'll be found as soon as it's light. There's nothing to harm
him in those woods."

Mrs. Lloyd tried hard to persuade herself that there wasn't, but all
kinds of vague terrors filled her mind, and refused to be allayed.

At length, as it drew toward midnight, a step was heard approaching, and
the anxious watchers rushed eagerly to the door, hoping for good news.
But it was only one of the men, returning according to arrangement to
see if Bert had been found, and if not to set forth again along some new
line of search. After a little interval another came, and then another,
until all had returned, Uncle Alec being the last, and still no news of
Bert.

They were bidden to take some rest and refreshment before going back in
to the woods. While they were sitting in the kitchen, Uncle Alec, who
was exceedingly fond of Bert, and felt more concerned about him than he
cared to show, having no appetite for food, went off toward the red gate
with no definite purpose except that he could not keep still.

Presently the still midnight air was startled with a joyful "Hurrah!"
followed close by a shout of "Bert's all right--he's here," that brought
the people in the house tumbling pell-mell against each other in
their haste to reach the door and see what it all meant.

[Illustration: "Crazy Colin strode up the road, bearing Bert high upon
his shoulder."--_Page 79._]

The light from the kitchen streamed out upon the road, making a broad
luminous path, up which the next moment strode Crazy Colin, bearing Bert
high upon his broad shoulders, while his swarthy countenance fairly
shone with a smile of pride and satisfaction that clearly showed he did
not need Uncle Alec's enthusiastic clappings on the back, and hearty
"Well done, Colin! You're a trump!" to make him understand the
importance of what he had done.

The two were at once surrounded by the overjoyed family. After giving
her darling one passionate hug, Mrs. Lloyd took both of Crazy Colin's
hands in hers, and, looking up into his beaming face, said, with a deep
sincerity even his dull brain could not fail to appreciate: "God bless
you, Colin. I cannot thank you enough, but I'll be your friend for
life;" while the Squire, having blown his nose very vigorously on his
red silk handkerchief, grasped Colin by the arm, dragged him into the
house, and ordered that the best the larder could produce should be
placed before him at once. It was a happy scene, and no one enjoyed it
more than did Crazy Colin himself.

The exact details of the rescue of Bert were never fully ascertained;
for, of course, poor Colin could not make them known, his range of
expression being limited to his mere personal wants, and Bert himself
being able to tell no more than that while lying at the foot of the
tree, and crying pretty vigorously, he heard a rustling among the trees
that sent a chill of terror through him, and then the sound of Crazy
Colin's talk with himself, which he recognised instantly. Forgetting all
about the fright Colin had given him a few days before, he shouted out
his name. Colin came to him at once, and seeming to understand the
situation at a glance, picked him up in his strong arms, flung him over
his shoulder, and strode off toward Maplebank with him as though he were
a mere feather-weight and not a sturdy boy. Dark as it was, Colin never
hesitated, nor paused, except now and then to rest a moment, until he
reached the red gate where Uncle Alec met him, and welcomed him so
warmly.

Mrs. Lloyd did not think it wise nor necessary to say very much to Bert
about his disobedience. If ever there was a contrite, humbled boy, it
was he. He had learned a lesson that he would be long in forgetting. As
for his tempter, Charlie Chisholm, he did not turn up until the next
morning, having lost himself completely in his endeavour to get home;
and it was only after many hours of wandering he found his way to an
outlying cabin of the backwoods settlement, where he was given shelter
for the night.



CHAPTER X.

BERT GOES TO SCHOOL.


With the waning of summer came the time for Mrs. Lloyd to return to the
city. Both she and Bert felt very sorry to leave Maplebank, and the
family there was unanimous in seeking to persuade her to allow Bert to
remain for the winter. But this was not practicable, because, in the
first place, Mr. Lloyd had been writing to say that he was quite tired
of being without his boy, and would like to have him back again as soon
as was convenient; and, in the second place, Bert had reached the age
when he ought to begin his schooling, and must return home for that
purpose.

So at length, after more than one postponement, the day of departure
arrived. Grandmother and Aunt Martha, and Aunt Sarah, could not restrain
their tears, and big, kind Kitty was among the mourners too, as Bert and
his mother took their seat in the carriage beside the Squire and Uncle
Alec, to drive in to the village where the coach would be met.

With many a promise to come back ere very long, and many a fond
"Good-bye! God bless you, my darling!" the travellers started on their
homeward journey. The village was reached in good time, the coach found
awaiting its passengers, the trunks safely stowed behind, the last
good-bye to grandfather and Uncle Alec said, and then, amid cracking of
whips and waving of handkerchiefs, the big coach rolled grandly off, and
Bert had really parted with dear, delightful Maplebank, where he had
spent such a happy summer.

The homeward journey was a very pleasant one, and marked by no exciting
incidents. Jack Davis was in his place on the box, and, recognising Bert
when the passengers got out at the first change of horses, hailed him
with a hearty: "Holloa, youngster! Are you on board? Would you like to
come up on top with me again?"

It need hardly be said that Bert jumped at the invitation, and, his
mother giving her consent, he rode on the box seat beside Davis the
greater part of the day as happy as a bird. The weather was perfect, it
being a cool, bright day in early September, and Bert enjoyed very much
recognising and recalling the different things that had particularly
interested him on the way down. "Black Rory" was as lively as ever, and
seemed determined to run away and dash everything to pieces as they
started out from his stable, but calmed down again after a mile or two,
as usual, and trotted along amiably enough the rest of his distance.

It happened that Davis had no one on the outside with whom he cared to
talk, so he gave a good deal of attention to Bert, telling him about the
horses and their peculiarities, and how they were in so many ways just
like people, and had to be humoured sometimes, and sometimes punished,
and how it was, upon the whole, so much better to be kind than cruel to
them.

"If your father ever lets you have a pony, Bert," said Davis, "take my
word for it it'll pay you to treat that ere pony like a brother. Just
let him know you're fond of him from the start; give him a lump of sugar
or a crust of bread now and then--it's wonderful how fond horses are of
such things--and he'll follow you about just like a dog. Horses have got
a good deal more human nature in 'em than folks generally give 'em
credit for, I can tell you, and I think I know what I am talking about,
for I've had to do with them ever since I've been as big as you."

Bert listened to this lecture with very lively interest, for his father
had more than once hinted at getting him a pony some day if he were a
good boy, and showed he could be trusted with one. He confided his hopes
to his friend, and received in return for the confidence a lot more of
good advice, which need not be repeated here.

The sun was setting as the coach drove up to the hotel at Thurso, where
Mrs. Lloyd and Bert were to remain for the night, taking the train for
Halifax the next morning. Bert felt quite sorry at parting with his big
friend, the driver, and very gladly promised him that the next time he
was going to Maplebank he would try to manage so as to be going down on
Jack Davis' day that their friendship might be renewed.

Both Bert and his mother were very glad to get to bed that night.
Coaching is fine fun in fine weather, but it is fatiguing, nevertheless.
You cannot ride all day in a coach without more or less backache, and
Bert was so sleepy that, but for his mother preventing him, he would
have flung himself upon his bed without so much as taking off his boots.
He managed to undress all right enough, however, and then slept like a
top until next morning.

Bright and early they took the train, and by mid-day were at Halifax,
where Mr. Lloyd and Mary received them with open arms and many a glad
kiss.

After allowing him a few days to settle down to home life again, the
question of Bert's going to school was raised. He was now full eight
years of age, and quite old enough to make a beginning. His mother and
sister had between them given him a good start in the "three R's" at
home, for he was an apt pupil, and he was quite ready to enter a larger
sphere.

At first his parents were somewhat undecided as to whether they would
send him to a school presided over by a woman or a man. It was usual in
Halifax for those who preferred the private to the public schools to
send their boys for a year or two to a dame's school as a sort of easy
introduction to school life; and in the very same street as that in
which the Lloyds lived there was such a school where two rather gaunt
and grim old-maid sisters aided one another in the application of primer
and taws. To this institution Mrs. Lloyd thought it would be well for
Bert to go. His father had no very decided views to the contrary, but on
Bert himself being consulted, it became very clear that his mind was
quite made up.

"Please don't send me to 'Old Goggles'' school, father," pleaded he,
earnestly.

"'Old Goggles!' Why, Bert, what do you mean by calling Miss Poster by
such a name as that?"

"It's most disrespectful," interrupted his mother, with a very much
shocked expression, while Mr. Lloyd tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to
conceal a smile beneath his moustache.

"Well, mother, that's what they all call her," explained Bert.

"Even though they do, Bert, you should not. Miss Poster is a lady, and
you must act the gentleman toward her," replied Mrs. Lloyd. "But why
don't you want to go to school there? Several boys about your own age
are going."

"Oh, because a lot of girls go there, and I don't want to go to school
with girls," was Master Bert's ungallant reply.

Mr. Lloyd, who had evidently been much amused at the conversation, now
joined in it by drawing Bert toward him and asking, in a half-serious,
half-humorous tone:

"Is my boy Bert afraid of little girls?"

Bert's face flushed till it was crimson, and dropping his head upon his
breast, he muttered:

"I'm not afraid of them, but I don't like 'em, and I don't want to go to
school with 'em."

The fact of the matter was that Bert not only had his full share of the
repugnance to the other sex common to all boys of his age, but he had
besides a strong notion that it was not a manly thing to go to school
with girls, and if there was one thing more than another that he aspired
after, it was manliness.

Mr. Lloyd thoroughly understood his son's feelings, and felt disposed to
humour them. Accordingly, lifting up his head, he gave him a kiss on the
forehead, saying:

"Very well, Bert; we'll see about it. Since you have such decided
objections to Miss Goggles'--I beg her pardon, Miss Poster's--excellent
establishment, I will make inquiry, and see if I cannot find something
that will suit you better. I want you to like your school, and to take
an interest in it."

Bert's face fairly beamed at these words, and he heaved a huge sigh of
relief which brought another smile out on his father's countenance.

"You're such a good father," said Bert, hugging his knees, and there
the matter dropped for a few days.

When it came up again, Mr. Lloyd had a new proposition to make. In the
interval he had been making some inquiries, and had been recommended to
send his boy to a school just lately established by an accomplished
young lawyer, who had adopted that method of earning an honest penny
while waiting for his practice to become more lucrative. It was a good
deal of an experiment, Mr. Lloyd thought but possibly worth trying.

Accordingly, one fine morning in October, behold Master Bert in a rather
perturbed frame of mind trotting along beside his father, who pretended
not to be aware of his son's feelings, although at the same time seeking
in every way to divert him. But it was not with much success. Bert felt
thoroughly nervous over the new experience that awaited him. He had
never seen Mr. Garrison, who was to be his teacher, and imagined him as
a tall, thin man with a long beard, a stern face, a harsh voice, and an
ever-ready "cat-o'-nine tails." As for his future schoolmates, they were
no doubt a lot of rough, noisy chaps, that would be certain to "put him
through a course of sprouts" before they would make friends with him.

If, then, such thoughts as these filled Bert's mind, it must not be
wondered at that he lagged a good deal both as to his talking and
walking, although he was always spry enough with both when out with his
father. Much sooner than he wished they reached the building, a large
rambling stone structure, only one room of which was occupied by the
school; they climbed the broad free-stone staircase to the upper storey,
knocked at a door from behind which came a confused hum of voices, and
being bidden "Come in," entered a big room that at first seemed to Bert
to be completely filled by a misty sea of faces with every eye turned
right upon him. He cowered before this curious scrutiny, and but for his
father's restraining grasp would probably have attempted a wild dash for
the still unclosed door, when he heard his father saying:

"Good-morning, Mr. Garrison; I have brought my boy to place him in your
care for a while, if you will have him as a pupil." Looking up, Bert
beheld a person approaching very different from the schoolmaster of his
gloomy anticipations.

Mr. Garrison was indeed tall, but there the similarity ended. He was
youthful, slight, and very attractive in appearance, his manner being
exceedingly graceful and easy, as he came forward with a winning smile
upon his countenance, and extending his right hand to Mr. Lloyd, placed
the other upon Bert's shoulder, and said, in a mellow, pleasant voice:

"Good-morning, Mr. Lloyd. I shall be very glad indeed to have your boy
in my school, and if he is anything like as good a man as his father,
he will make one of my very best pupils."

Mr. Lloyd laughed heartily at this flattering remark.

"Listen to that, Bert," said he. "When you are in any doubt just how to
behave, you have only to ask yourself what I would do under the same
circumstances, and act accordingly." Then, turning to Mr. Garrison, he
said: "Perhaps you would like me to join your school, too, so as to set
a good example to the other boys."

"Right glad would I be to have you, Mr. Lloyd," answered Mr. Garrison,
with a cordial smile. "Many a time I find my boys almost too much for
one man to handle."

Bert, clinging fast to his father's hand, and half-hoping he was in
earnest, felt a pang of disappointment when he replied:

"I'm afraid it's too late, Mr. Garrison. My school-days are past;
except so far as I may be able to live them over with this little chap
here. I will leave him with you now; do your best with him. He can learn
well enough when he likes, but he is just as fond of fun as any
youngster of his age." Then giving Bert an affectionate pat on the
shoulder, and whispering in his ear, "Now, be a man, Bert," Mr. Lloyd
went away, and Bert followed Mr. Garrison up to the desk, where his
name, age, and address were duly entered in the register book.

The next business was to assign him a seat. A few questions as to what
he knew showed that his proper place was in the junior class of all, and
there accordingly Mr. Garrison led him. A vacancy was found for him in a
long range of seats, extending from the door almost up to the desk, and
he was bidden sit down beside a boy who had been eyeing him with lively
curiosity from the moment of his entrance into the room. So soon as Mr.
Garrison went away, this boy opened fire upon the new-comer.

"Say, sonny, whats yer name?" he asked, with unhesitating abruptness.

Bert looked the questioner all over before replying. He was a short,
stout, stubble-haired chap, evidently a year or two older than himself,
with a broad, good-humoured face, and the inspection being, upon the
whole, satisfactory, Bert replied, very pleasantly:

"Bert Lloyd--and what's yours?"

Ignoring the question put to him, the other boy gave a sort of grunt
that might be taken as an expression of approval of his new schoolmate's
name, and then said:

"Guess you don't live down our way; never seen you before, that I know
of."

"I live in Fort Street. Where do you live?" replied Bert, giving
question for question.

"I'm a West-ender," said the other, meaning that his home was in the
western part of the city.

"But whats your name?" asked Bert again.

"Oh, my name's Frank Bowser," was the careless reply. "But everybody
calls me 'Shorty,' and you may as well, too."

"All right," said Bert. And the two began to feel quite good friends at
once.

As the morning passed, and Bert came to feel more at home, he took in
the details of his surroundings. Mr. Garrison's school consisted of some
fifty boys, ranging in age from sixteen downward, Bert being about the
youngest of them all. They all belonged to the better class, and were,
upon the whole, a very presentable lot of pupils. Scanning their
countenances curiously as they sat at their desks or stood up in rows
before the teacher to recite, Bert noticed more than one face that he
instinctively liked, and, being charmed with Mr. Garrison, and well
pleased with his new friend "Shorty," his first impressions were
decidedly favourable.

He had, of course, nothing to do that morning, save to look about him,
but Mr. Garrison gave him a list of books to be procured, and lessons to
be learned in them before the school broke up for the day; and with this
in his pocket he went home in excellent spirits, to tell them all there,
how well he had got on his first day in school.



CHAPTER XI.

SCHOOL LIFE AT MR. GARRISON'S.


Bert had not been long at Mr. Garrison's school before he discovered
that it was conducted on what might fairly be described as
"go-as-you-please" principles. A sad lack of system was its chief
characteristic. He meant well enough by his pupils, and was constantly
making spurts in the direction of reform and improvement, but as often
falling back into the old irregular ways.

The fact of the matter was that he not only was not a schoolmaster by
instinct, but he had no intention of being one by profession. He had
simply adopted teaching as a temporary expedient to tide over a
financial emergency, and intended to drop it so soon as his object was
accomplished. His heart was in his profession, not in his school, and
the work of teaching was at best an irksome task, to be got through with
each day as quickly as possible. Had Mr. Lloyd fully understood this, he
would never have placed Bert there. But he did not; and, moreover, he
was interested in young Mr. Garrison, who had had many difficulties to
encounter in making his way, and he wished to help him.

In the first place, Mr. Garrison kept no record of attendance, either of
the whole school, or of the different classes into which it was divided.
A boy might come in an hour after the proper time, or be away for a
whole day without either his lateness or his absence being observed. As
a consequence "meeching"--that is, taking a holiday without leave from
either parents or teachers--was shamefully common. Indeed, there was
hardly a day that one or more boys did not "meech." If by any chance
they were missed, it was easy to get out of the difficulty by making
some excuse about having been sick, or mother having kept them at home
to do some work, and so forth. Schoolboys are always fertile in excuses,
and, only too often, indifferent as to the quantity of truth these may
contain.

Another curious feature of Mr. Garrison's system, or rather lack of
system, was that he kept no record of the order of standing in the
classes; and so, when the class in geography, for instance, was called
to recite, the boys would come tumbling pell-mell out of their seats,
and crowd tumultuously to the space in front of the desk, with the
invariable result that the smaller boys would be sent to the bottom of
the class, whether they deserved to be there or not. Then as to the
hearing of the lesson, there was absolutely no rule about it. Sometimes
the questions would be divided impartially among the whole class.
Sometimes they would all be asked of a single boy, and if he happened to
answer correctly,--which, however, was an extremely rare
occurrence,--the class would be dismissed without one of the others
being questioned.

Another peculiarity of Mr. Garrison's was his going out on business for
an hour or more at a time, and leaving the school in charge of one of
the older boys, who would exercise the authority thus conferred upon him
in a lax and kindly, or severe and cruel manner, according to his
disposition. One of the boys generally chosen for this duty was a big,
good-hearted fellow named Munro; another was an equally big, but
sour-dispositioned chap named Siteman; and whenever Mr. Garrison showed
signs of going out, there was always intense excitement among the boys,
to see who would be appointed monitor, and lively satisfaction, or deep
disappointment, according to the choice made.

It was a little while, of course, before Bert found all this out, and in
the meantime he made good headway in the school, because his father took
care that his lessons were well learned every evening before he went to
bed; and Mr. Garrison soon discovered that whoever else might fail,
there was one boy in Bert's classes that could be depended upon for a
right answer, and that was Bert himself.

There was another person who noticed Bert's ready accuracy, and that was
"Shorty" Bowser.

"Say, Bert," said he one day, "how is that you always have your lessons
down so fine? You never seem to trip up at all."

"Because father always sees that I learn 'em," answered Bert. "If I
don't learn 'em in the evening, I've got to do it before breakfast in
the morning."

"I wish my dad 'ud do as much for me; but he don't seem to care a cent
whether I ever learn 'em or not," said poor Shorty, ruefully. For he was
pretty sure to miss two out of every three questions asked him, and Mr.
Garrison thought him one of his worst scholars.

"Won't your mother help you, then?" asked Bert, with interest.

"Got no mother," was the reply, while Shorty's eyes shone suspiciously.
"Mother's been dead this good while."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Bert, in tones of genuine sympathy that went
right to Frank Bowser's heart, and greatly strengthened the liking he
had felt from the first for his new schoolmate.

It was not long before he gave proof of what he thought of Bert in a
very practical way. They were for the most part in the same classes, and
it soon became evident that Shorty felt very proud of his friend's
accuracy at recitation. That he should remain at the foot while Bert
worked his way up steadily toward the head of the class, did not arouse
the slightest feeling of jealousy in his honest heart; but, on the
contrary, a frank admiration that did him infinite credit.

But it was just the other way with Bob Brandon, an overgrown, lanky boy,
who seemed to have taken a dislike to Bert from the first, and seized
every opportunity of acting disagreeably toward him. Being so much
smaller, Bert had to endure his slights as best he could, but he found
it very hard, and particularly so that Bob should prevent him from
getting his proper place in his class. Again and again would Bert pass
Bob, who, indeed, rarely knew his lessons; but so sure as the class
reassembled, Bob would roughly shoulder his way toward the top and Bert
would have to take a lower position, unless Mr. Garrison happened to
notice what was taking place and readjusted matters, which, however, did
not often occur.

This sort of thing had been going on for some time, until at last one
day Bert felt so badly over it that when he went back to his seat he
buried his head in his hands and burst out crying, much to the surprise
of Shorty, who at once leaned over and asked, with much concern:

"What's the matter, Bert? Missed your lesson?"

Bert checked his tears and told his trouble.

"Sho! that's what's the matter, hey? I guess I'll fix Bob as sure as my
name's Bowser."

"What'll you do?" asked Bert. "Tell the master?"

"No, sir. No tattling for me," replied Shorty, vigorously. "I'll just
punch his head for him, see if I don't."

And he was as good as his word. Immediately after the dismissal of the
school, while the boys still lingered on the playground, Shorty stalked
up to Bob Brandon, and told him if he didn't stop shoving Bert Lloyd out
of his proper place in the classes he would punch his head. Whereat Bob
Brandon laughed contemptuously, and was rewarded with a blow on the face
that fairly made him stagger. Then, of course, there was a fight, the
boys forming a ring around the combatants, and Bert holding his
champion's coat and hat, and hardly knowing whether to cry or to cheer.
The fight did not last long. Bob was the taller, but Frank the stouter
of the two. Bob, like most bullies, was a coward, but Frank was as
plucky as he was strong. Burning with righteous wrath, Frank went at his
opponent hammer and tongs, and after a few minutes' ineffective parrying
and dodging, the latter actually ran out of the ring, thoroughly beaten,
leaving Frank in possession of the field, to receive the applause of his
companions, and particularly of Bert, who gave him a warm hug, saying
gratefully:

"Dear, good Shorty. I'm so glad you beat him."

That fight united the two boys in firmer bonds of friendship than ever,
especially as it proved quite effective so far as Bob Brandon was
concerned, as he needed no other lesson. It was curious how Bert and
Frank reacted upon one another. At first the influence proceeded mainly
from Bert to Frank, the latter being much impressed by his friend's
attention to his lessons and good behaviour in school, and somewhat
stirred up to emulate these virtues. But after Bert had been going to
the school for some little time, and the novelty had all worn off, he
began to lose some of his ardour and to imitate Frank's happy-go-lucky
carelessness. Instead of being one of the first boys in the school of a
morning, he would linger and loiter on the playground until he would be
among those who were the last to take their places. He also began to
take less interest in his lessons, and in his standing in the classes,
and but for the care exercised at home would have gone to school very
ill prepared.

Frank Bowser was not by any means a bad boy. He had been carelessly
brought up, and was by nature of rather a reckless disposition, but he
generally preferred right to wrong, and could, upon the whole, be
trusted to behave himself under ordinary circumstances, at all events.
His influence upon Bert, while it certainly would not help him much,
would not harm him seriously. He did get him into trouble one day,
however, in a way that Bert was long in forgetting.

The winter had come, and over in one corner of the playground was a
slide of unusual length and excellence, upon which the Garrison boys had
fine times every day before and after school. Coming up one morning
early, on purpose to enjoy this slide, Bert was greatly disappointed to
find it in possession of a crowd of roughs from the upper streets, who
clearly intended to keep it all to themselves so long as they pleased.
While Bert, standing at a safe distance, was watching the usurpers with
longing eyes, Shorty came up, and, taking in the situation, said:

"Let 'em alone, Bert; I know of another slide just as good, a couple of
squares off. Let's go over there."

"But, isn't it most school time?" objected Bert.

"Why, no," replied Shorty. "There's ten minutes yet. Come along." And
thus assured, Bert complied.

The slide was farther away than Shorty had said, but proved to be very
good when they did reach it, and they enjoyed it so much that the time
slipped away unheeded, until presently the town clock on the hill above
them boomed out ten, in notes of solemn warning.

"My sakes!" exclaimed Bert, in alarm. "There's ten o'clock. What will we
do?"

"Guess we'd better not go to school at all. Mr. Garrison will never miss
us," suggested Shorty.

"Do you mean to meech?" asked Bert, with some indignation.

"That's about it," was the reply. "What's the harm?"

"Why, you know it ain't right; I'm not going to do it if you are." And
Bert really meant what he said.

But, as luck would have it, on their way back to the school, what should
they meet but that spectacle, one of the most attractive of the winter's
sights in the eyes of a Halifax schoolboy, a fireman's sleigh drive.
Driving gaily along the street, between lines of spectators, came sleigh
after sleigh, drawn by four, six, or even eight carefully matched and
brightly decked horses, and filled to overflowing with the firemen and
their fair friends, while bands of music played merry tunes, to which
the horses seemed to step in time.

Bert and Shorty had of course to stop and see this fine sight, and it
chanced that when it was about one-half passed, one of the big eight
horse teams got tangled up with a passing sleigh, and a scene of
confusion ensued that took a good while to set right. When at length all
was straightened out, and the procession of sleighs had passed, Shorty
asked a gentleman to tell him the time.

"Five minutes to eleven, my lad," was the startling reply.

Shorty looked significantly at Bert. "Most too late now, don't you
think?"

Bert hesitated. He shrank from the ordeal of entering the crowded
schoolroom, and being detected and punished by Mr. Garrison, in the
presence of all the others. Yet he felt that it would be better to do
that than not go to school at all--in other words, meech.

"Oh, come along, Bert," said Shorty; "old Garrison can do without us
to-day."

Still Bert stood irresolute.

"Let's go down and see the big steamer that came in last night,"
persisted Shorty, who was determined not to go to school, and to keep
Bert from going too.

Yielding more to Shorty's influence than to the attraction of the
steamer, Bert gave way, and spent the rest of the morning playing about,
until it was the usual time for going home.

He said nothing at home about what he had done, and the next morning
went back to school, hoping, with all his heart, that his absence had
not been noted, and that no questions would be asked.

But it was not to be.

Soon after the opening of the school when all were assembled and quiet
obtained, Mr. Garrison sent a thrill of expectation through the boys by
calling out, in severe tones, while his face was clouded with anger:

"Frank Bowser and Cuthbert Lloyd come to the desk."

With pale faces and drooping heads the boys obeyed, Frank whispering in
Bert's ear as they went up:

"Tell him you were kept at home."

Trembling in every nerve, the two culprits stood before their teacher.
Mr. Garrison was evidently much incensed. A spasm of reform had seized
him. His eyes had been opened to the prevalence of "meeching," and he
determined to put a stop to it by making an example of the present
offenders. He had missed them both from school the day before, and
suspected the cause.

"Young gentlemen," said he, in his most chilling tones, "you were absent
yesterday. Have you any reason to give?"

Frank without answering looked at Bert, while the whole school held
their breath in suspense. Bert remained silent. It was evident that a
sharp struggle was going on within. Becoming impatient, Mr. Garrison
struck the desk with his hands, and said, sternly:

"Answer me this moment. Have you any excuse?"

With a quick, decided movement, Bert lifted his head, and looking
straight into Mr. Garrison's face with his big brown eyes, said,
clearly:

"No, sir. I meeched."

Quite taken aback by this frank confession, Mr. Garrison paused a
moment, and then, turning to Frank, asked:

"And how about you, sir?"

Without lifting his head, Frank muttered, "I meeched, too," in tones
audible only to his questioner.

So pleased was Mr. Garrison with Bert's honesty, that he would have been
glad to let him off with a reprimand; but the interests of good
discipline demanded sterner measures. Accordingly, he called to one of
his monitors:

"Munro, will you please go over to the Acadian School and get the
strap?"

For be it known that Mr. Garrison shared the ownership of a strap with
his brother, who taught a school in an adjoining block, and had to send
for it when a boy was to be punished.

While Munro was gone, Bert and Frank stood before the desk, both feeling
deeply their position, and dreading what was yet to come. When Munro
returned, bearing the strap--a business-like looking affair, about two
feet in length--Mr. Garrison laid it on the desk, and seemed very
reluctant to put it in use. At length, overcoming his disinclination, he
rose to his feet, and, taking it up, said:

"Cuthbert Lloyd, come forward!"

Bert, his head drooping upon his breast, and his face flushed and pale
by turns, moved slowly forward. Grasping the strap, Mr. Garrison raised
it to bring it down upon Bert's outstretched hand, when suddenly a
thought struck him that brought a look of immense relief to his
countenance, and he arrested the movement. Turning to the boys, who were
watching him with wondering eyes, he said:

"Boys, I ask for your judgment. If Bert and Frank say, before you all,
that they are sorry for what they have done, and will promise never to
do it again, may I not relieve them of the whipping?"

A hearty and unanimous chorus of "Yes, sir," "Yes, sir," came from the
school at once.

"Now, my lads, do you hear that?" continued Mr. Garrison in a kindly
tone, turning to the two offenders. "Will you not say you are sorry, and
will never meech again."

"I am sorry, and promise never to do so again," said Bert, in a clear
distinct voice, as the tears gathered in his eyes.

"I'm sorry, and won't do it again," echoed Frank, in a lower tone.

"That's right, boys," said Mr. Garrison, his face full of pleasure. "I
am sure you mean every word of it. Go to your seats now, and we will
resume work."

It took the school some little time to settle down again after this
unusual and moving episode, the effect of which was to raise both Mr.
Garrison and Bert a good deal higher in the estimation of every one
present, and to put a check upon the practice of "meeching" that went
far toward effecting a complete cure.

Although the result had been so much better than he expected, Bert felt
his disgrace keenly, and so soon as he got home from school he told the
whole story from the start to his mother, making no excuses for himself,
but simply telling the truth.

His mother, of course, was very much surprised and pained, but knew well
that her boy needed no further reproaches or censure to realise the full
extent of his wrong-doing. Bidding him, therefore, seek forgiveness of
God as well as of her, she said that she would tell his father all about
it, which was a great relief to Bert, who dreaded lest he should have to
perform this trying task himself; and so the matter rested for the
time.



CHAPTER XII.

A QUESTION OF INFLUENCE.


When Mr. Lloyd heard the story of Bert's "meeching," it was evident that
it hurt him sorely. He was quite prepared for a reasonable amount of
waywardness in his boy, but this seriously exceeded his expectations. He
could not, of course, put himself exactly in Bert's place, and he was
inclined to think him guilty of far more deliberate wrong than poor Bert
had for a moment contemplated.

Then, again, he was much puzzled as to what should be done with
reference to Frank Bowser. He had evidently been Bert's tempter, and
Bert ought, perhaps, to be forbidden to have any more to do with him
than he could possibly help. On the other hand, if Bert were to be
interdicted from the companionship of his schoolmates, how would he ever
learn to take care of himself among other dangerous associations? This
was a lesson he must learn some day. Should he not begin now?

So Mr. Lloyd was not a little bewildered, and his talk with Bert did
not give him much light; for while Bert, of course, was thoroughly
penitent and ready to promise anything, what he had to tell about Frank
was simply how good-natured and generous and plucky he was, and so
forth.

The three of them, father, mother, and sister, held a consultation over
the matter that night after Bert had gone to bed.

"I wish I felt more sure as to what is the wisest thing to do," said Mr.
Lloyd. "We can't keep Bert in a glass case, and yet it seems as if we
should do our best to protect him from every evil influence. I would
like to know more about that Bowser boy."

"Bert tells me he has no mother," said Mrs. Lloyd, in sympathetic tones,
"and from what he says himself, his father does not seem to take much
interest in him. Poor boy! he cannot have much to help him at that
rate."

"He's a good, sturdy little chap," put in Mary. "He came down from
school with Bert one day. He seems very fond of him."

"Well, what had we better do?" asked Mr. Lloyd. "Forbid Bert to make a
companion of him, or say nothing about it, and trust Bert to come out
all right?"

"I feel as though we ought to forbid Bert," answered Mrs. Lloyd. "Frank
Bowser's influence cannot help him much, and it may harm him a good
deal."

"Suppose you put that the other way, mother," spoke up Mary, her face
flushing under the inspiration of the thought that had just occurred to
her. "Frank Bowser has no help at home, and Bert has. Why, then, not say
that Bert's influence cannot harm Frank, and it may help him a good
deal?"

"Mary, my dear," exclaimed Mr. Lloyd, bending over to pat her
affectionately on the shoulder, "that's a brilliant idea of yours.
You're right. Bert should help Frank, and not let Frank harm him. We
must make Bert understand that clearly, and then there will be nothing
to fear."

And so the consultation closed, with Mary bearing off the honours of
having made the best suggestion.

It was acted upon without delay. Calling Bert to him next morning while
they were awaiting breakfast, Mr. Lloyd laid the matter before him:

"Bert," said he, kindly, "we were talking about you last night, and
wondering whether we ought to forbid your making a companion of Frank
Bowser. What do you think?"

"Oh, father, don't do that," answered Bert, looking up with a startled
expression. "He's been so good to me. You remember how he served Bob
Brandon for shoving me down in class?"

"Yes, Bert; but I'm afraid he's leading you into mischief, and that is
not the sort of companion I want for you."

Bert dropped his head again. He had no answer ready this time.

"But then there are always two sides to a question, Bert," continued Mr.
Lloyd, while Bert pricked up his ears hopefully. "Why should you not
help Frank to keep out of mischief, instead of his leading you into it?
What do you say to that?"

Bert did not seem quite to understand, so his father went on:

"Don't you see, Bert? You must either help Frank to be better, or he
will cause you to be worse. Now, which is it to be?"

Bert saw it clearly now.

"Why, father," he cried, his face beaming with gladness at this new turn
to the situation, "I'll do my best to be a good boy, and I know Shorty
will, too, for he always likes to do what I do."

"Very well then, Bert," said Mr. Lloyd, "that's a bargain. And now,
suppose you invite Frank, or 'Shorty,' as you call him, to spend next
Saturday afternoon with you, and take tea with us."

"Oh, father, that will be splendid," cried Bert, delightedly. "We can
coast in the fort all the afternoon and have fun in the evening. I'm
sure Shorty will be so glad to come."

The question thus satisfactorily settled, Bert took his breakfast, and
went off to school in high glee and great impatience to see Frank, for
the invitation he bore for him fairly burned in his mouth, so to speak.

As he expected, Frank needed no pressing to accept it. He did not get
many invitations, poor chap! and the prospect of an afternoon at Bert's
home seemed very attractive to him. He did enjoy himself thoroughly,
too, even if he was so shy and awkward that Mrs. Lloyd and Mary were
afraid to say very much to him; he seemed to find it so hard to answer
them.

But Mr. Lloyd got on much better with him. Although his boyhood was a
good way in the past, he kept its memories fresh, and could enter
heartily into the discussion of any of the sports the younger generation
delighted in. He knew all the phrases peculiar to baseball, cricket,
marbles, and so forth, and fairly astonished Frank by his intimate
knowledge of those amusements, so that ere long Frank, without knowing
just how it happened, was chatting away as freely as though he were out
on the Garrison playground instead of being in Mr. Lloyd's parlour.

Having once got him well started, Mr. Lloyd led him on to talk about
himself and his home, and his way of spending his time, and thus learned
a great deal more about him than he had yet known. One fact that he
learned pointed out a way in which Bert's influence could be exerted for
good at once. Frank attended no Sunday school. He went to church
sometimes, but not very often, as his father took little interest in
church-going, but he never went to Sunday school; in fact, he had not
been there for years. Mr. Lloyd said nothing himself on the subject to
Frank. He thought it better to leave it all to Bert.

After Frank had gone, leaving behind him a very good impression upon the
whole, Mr. Lloyd told Bert of the opportunity awaiting him.

"Wouldn't you like to ask Frank to go with you to Sunday school, Bert?"
he inquired.

"Of course, I would, father," replied Bert, promptly; "and I'm sure he'd
go, too, and that Mr. Silver would be very glad to have him in our
class."

When Bert, however, came to talk to Frank about it, he found him not
quite so willing to go as he had been to accept the invitation for
Saturday.

"I'm not anxious to go to Sunday school, Bert," said he. "I shan't know
anybody there but you, and it'll be awfully slow."

"But you'll soon get to know plenty of people," urged Bert; "and Mr.
Silver is so nice."

And so they argued, Frank holding back, partly because his shyness made
him shrink from going into a strange place, and partly because, having
been accustomed to spend his Sunday afternoons pretty much as he
pleased, he did not like the idea of giving up his liberty. But Bert was
too much in earnest to be put off. The suggestion of his father that he
should try to do Frank some good had taken strong hold upon his mind,
and he urged, and pleaded, and argued until, at last, Frank gave way,
and promised to try the Sunday school for a while, at any rate.

Bert reported the decision at home with much pride and satisfaction. He
had no doubt that when once Frank found out what a pleasant place the
Sunday school was, and how kind and nice Mr. Silver--his teacher
there--was, he would want to go every Sunday.

The Sunday school of Calvary Baptist Church certainly had about as
pleasant and cheery quarters as could be desired. For one thing, it was
not held in a damp, dark, unventilated basement as so many Sunday
schools are.

And, oh, what a shame--what an extraordinary perversion of sense this
condemning of the children to the cellars of the churches is! Just as
though anything were good enough for them, when in them lies the hope of
the Church, and every possible means should be employed to twine their
young affections about it! But these words do not apply to the Calvary
Sunday School, for it was not held in a dingy basement, but in a
separate building that united in itself nearly every good quality such
an edifice should possess. It was of ample size, full of light and air,
had free exposure to the sunshine, and was so arranged that every
convenience was offered for the work of the school. Around the central
hall were arranged rooms for the Bible classes, the infant class, and
the library, so planned that by throwing up sliding doors they became
part of the large room. The walls were hung with pictures illustrating
Bible scenes, and with mottoes founded upon Bible texts; and finally,
the benches were of a special make that was particularly comfortable.

All this was quite a revelation to Frank when, after some little
coaxing, Bert brought him to the school. His conception of a Sunday
school was of going down into a gloomy basement, and being lectured
about the Bible by a severe old man with a long grey beard. Instead of
that, he found himself in one of the brightest rooms he had ever seen,
and receiving a cordial welcome from a handsome young gentleman, to whom
Bert had just said:

"This is my friend Frank, Mr. Silver. He's going to come to school with
me after this."

"Very glad indeed to have you, Frank," said Mr. Silver, giving him a
warm grasp of the hand. "Sit right down with Bert, and make yourself at
home."

And Frank sat down, so surprised and pleased with everything as to be
half inclined to wonder if he was not dreaming. Then the fine singing,
as the whole school, led by an organ and choir, burst forth into song,
the bright pleasant remarks of the superintendent, Mr. Hamilton, Bert's
ideal of a "Christian soldier," and the simple earnest prayer
offered,--all impressed Frank deeply.

No less interesting did he find Mr. Silver's teaching of the lesson. Mr.
Silver attached great importance to his work in the Sunday school.
Nothing was permitted to interfere with thorough preparation for it, and
he always met his class brimful of information, illustration, and
application, bearing upon the passage appointed for the day. And not
only so, but by shrewd questioning and personal appeal he sent the
precious words home to his young hearers and fixed them deep in their
memories. He was a rare teacher in many respects, and Bert was very fond
of him. Frank did not fail to be attracted by him. As he and Bert left
the school together, Bert asked:

"Well, Frank, how do you like my Sunday school?"

"First rate," replied Frank, heartily. "Say, but isn't Mr. Silver nice?
Seems as though I'd known him for ever so long instead of just to-day."

"Guess he is nice," said Bert. "He's just the best teacher in the
school. You'll come every Sunday now, won't you, Frank?"

"I think so," answered Frank; "I might just as well be going there as
loafing about on Sunday afternoon doing nothing."

Mr. Lloyd was very much pleased when he heard of Bert's success in
getting Frank to the Sunday school. He recognised in Bert many of those
qualities which make a boy a leader among his companions, and his desire
was that his son's influence should always tell for that which was
manly, pure, and upright. To get him interested in recruiting for the
Sunday school was a very good beginning in church work, and Mr. Lloyd
felt thankful accordingly.

Neither was he alone in feeling pleased and thankful. Mr. John Bowser,
Frank's father, although he showed great indifference to both the
intellectual and moral welfare of his boy, was, nevertheless, not
opposed to others taking an interest in him. He cared too little about
either church or Sunday school to see that Frank was a regular
attendant. But he was very willing that somebody else should take an
interest in the matter. Moreover, he felt not a little complacency over
the fact that his son was chosen as a companion by Lawyer Lloyd's son.
Engrossed as he was in the making of money, a big, burly, gruff,
uncultured contractor, he found time somehow to acquire a great respect
for Mr. Lloyd. He thought him rather too scrupulous and straightforward
a man to be _his_ lawyer, but he admired him greatly, nevertheless; and,
although he said nothing about it, secretly congratulated himself upon
the way things were going. He had little idea that the circle of
influence Bert had unconsciously started would come to include him
before its force would be spent.



CHAPTER XIII.

BERT AT HOME.


It was an article of faith in the Lloyd family that there was not a
house in Halifax having a pleasanter situation than theirs, and they
certainly had very good grounds for their belief. Something has already
been told about its splendid view of the broad harbour, furrowed with
white-capped waves, when of an afternoon the breeze blew in smartly from
the great ocean beyond; of its snug security from northern blasts; of
the cosy nook it had to itself in a quiet street; and of its ample
exposure to the sunshine. But, perhaps, the chief charm of all was the
old fort whose grass-grown casemates came so close to the foot of the
garden, that ever since Bert was big enough to jump, he had cherished a
wild ambition to leap from the top of the garden fence to the level top
of the nearest casemate.

This old fort, with its long, obsolete, muzzle-loading thirty-two
pounders, was associated with Bert's earliest recollection. His nurse
had carried him there to play about in the long, rank grass underneath
the shade of the wide-spreading willows that crested the seaward slope
before he was able to walk; and ever since, summer and winter, he had
found it his favourite playground.

The cannons were an unfailing source of delight to him. Mounted high
upon their cumbrous carriages, with little pyramids of round iron balls
that would never have any other use than that of ornament lying beside
them, they made famous playthings. He delighted in clambering up and
sitting astride their smooth, round bodies as though they were horses;
or in peering into the mysterious depths of their muzzles. Indeed, once
when he was about five years old he did more than peer in. He tried to
crawl in, and thereby ran some risk of injury.

He had been playing ball with some of the soldier's children, and seemed
so engrossed in the amusement that his mother, who had taken him into
the fort, thought he might very well be left for a while, and so she
went off some little distance to rest in quiet, in a shady corner. She
had not been there more than a quarter of an hour, when she was startled
by the cries of the children, who seemed much alarmed over something;
and hastening back to where she had left Bert, she beheld a sight that
would have been most ludicrous if it had not been so terrifying.

Protruding from the mouth of one of the cannons, and kicking very
vigorously, were two sturdy, mottled legs that she instantly recognised
as belonging to her son, while from the interior came strange muffled
sounds that showed the poor little fellow was screaming in dire
affright, as well he might in so distressing a situation. Too young to
be of any help, Bert's playmates were gathered about him crying lustily,
only one of them having had the sense to run off to the carpenter's shop
near by to secure assistance.

[Illustration: "Fortunately, a big soldier came along, and, slipping
both hands as far up on Bert's body as he could reach, with a strong,
steady pull drew him out of the cannon."--_Page_ 119.]

Mrs. Lloyd at once grasped Bert's feet and strove to pull him out, but
found it no easy matter. In his efforts to free himself he had only
stuck the more firmly, and was now too securely fastened for Mrs. Lloyd
to extricate him. Fortunately, however, a big soldier came along at this
juncture, and, slipping both hands as far up on Bert's body as he could
reach, grasped him firmly, and with one strong, steady pull, drew him
out of the cannon.

When he got him out, Bert presented so comical a spectacle that his
stalwart rescuer had to lay him down and laugh until the tears rolled
down his cheeks. Mrs. Lloyd, too, relieved from all anxiety, and feeling
a reaction from her first fright, could not help following his example.
His face, black with grime, which was furrowed with tears, his hands
even blacker, his nice clothes smutched and soiled, and indeed, his
whole appearance suggested a little chimney-sweep that had forgotten to
put on his working clothes before going to business. Bert certainly was
enough to make even the gravest laugh.

Beyond a bruise or two, he was, however, not a whit the worse for his
curious experience, which had come about in this way:--While they were
playing with the ball, one of the children had, out of mischief, picked
it up and thrown it into the cannon, where it had stayed. They tried to
get it out by means of sticks, but could not reach it. Then Bert, always
plucky and enterprising to the verge of rashness, undertook to go after
the ball himself. The other boys at once joined forces to lift him up
and push him into the dark cavern, and then alarmed by his cries and
unavailing struggles to get out again, began to cry themselves, and thus
brought Mrs. Lloyd to the scene.

Mr. Lloyd was very much amused when he heard about Bert's adventure.

"You've beaten Shakespeare, Bert," said he, after a hearty laugh, as
Mrs. Lloyd graphically described the occurrence. "For Shakespeare says a
man does not seek the bubble reputation in the cannon's mouth, until he
becomes a soldier, but you have found it, unless I am much mistaken,
before you have fairly begun being a schoolboy."

Bert did not understand the reference to Shakespeare, but he did
understand that his father was not displeased with him, and that was a
much more important matter. The next Sunday afternoon, when they went
for their accustomed stroll in the fort, Bert showed his father the big
gun whose dark interior he had attempted to explore.

"Oh, but father, wasn't I frightened when I got in there and couldn't
get out again!" said he earnestly, clasping his father's hand tightly,
as the horror of the situation came back to him.

"You were certainly in a tight place, little man," answered Mr. Lloyd,
"and the next time your ball gets into one of the cannons you had better
ask one of the artillerymen to get it out for you. He will find it a
much easier job than getting you out."

Bert loved the old fort and its cannons none the less because of his
adventure, and as he grew older he learned to drop down into it from the
garden fence, and climb back again, with the agility of a monkey. The
garden itself was not very extensive, but Bert took a great deal of
pleasure in it, too, for he was fond of flowers--what true boy, indeed,
is not?--and it contained a large number within its narrow limits, there
being no less than two score rose bushes of different varieties, for
instance. The roses were very plenteous and beautiful when in their
prime, but at opposite corners of the little garden stood two trees that
had far more interest for Bert than all the rose trees put together.
These were two apple trees, planted, no one knew just how or when, which
had been allowed to grow up at their own will, without pruning or
grafting, and, as a consequence, were never known to produce fruit that
was worth eating. Every spring they put forth a brave show of pink and
white blossoms, as though this year, at all events, they were going to
do themselves credit, and every autumn the result appeared in
half-a-dozen hard, small, sour, withered-up apples that hardly deserved
the name. And yet, although these trees showed no signs of repentance
and amendment, Bert, with the quenchless hopefulness of boyhood, never
quite despaired of their bringing forth an apple that he could eat
without having his mouth drawn up into one tight pucker. Autumn after
autumn he would watch the slowly developing fruit, trusting for the
best. It always abused his confidence, however, but it was a long time
before he finally gave it up in despair.

At one side of the garden stood a neat little barn that was also of
special interest to Bert, for, besides the stall for the cow, there was
another, still vacant, which Mr. Lloyd had promised should have a pony
for its tenant so soon as Bert was old enough to be trusted with such a
playmate.

Hardly a day passed that Bert did not go into the stable, and, standing
by the little stall, wonder to himself how it would look with a pretty
pony in it. Of course, he felt very impatient to have the pony, but Mr.
Lloyd had his own ideas upon that point, and was not to be moved from
them. He thought that when Bert was ten years old would be quite time
enough, and so there was nothing to do but to wait, which Bert did, with
as much fortitude as he could command.

Whatever might be the weather outside, it seemed always warm and sunny
indoors at Bert's home. The Lloyds lived in an atmosphere of love, both
human and Divine. They loved one another dearly, but they loved God
still more, and lived close to Him. Religion was not so much expressed
as implied in their life. It was not in the least obtrusive, yet one
could never mistake their point of view. Next to its sincerity, the
strongest characteristic of their religion was its cheeriness. They saw
no reason why the children of the King should go mourning all their
days; on the contrary, was it not rather their duty, as well as their
privilege, to establish the joy of service?

Brought up amid such influences, Bert was, as a natural consequence,
entirely free from those strange misconceptions of the true character of
religion which keep so many of the young out of the kingdom. He saw
nothing gloomy or repellent in religion. That he should love and serve
God seemed as natural to him as that he should love and serve his
parents. Of their love and care he had a thousand tokens daily. Of the
Divine love and care he learned from them, and that they should believe
in it was all the reason he required for his doing the same. He asked no
further evidence.

There were, of course, times when the spirit of evil stirred within him,
and moved him to rebel against authority, and to wish, as he put it
himself one day when reminded of the text, "Thou God seest me," that
"God would let him alone for a while, and not be always looking at him."
But then he wasn't an angel by any means, but simply a hearty, healthy,
happy boy, with a fair share of temper, and as much fondness for having
his own way as the average boy of his age.

His parents were very proud of him. They would have been queer parents
if they were not. Yet they were careful to disguise it from him as far
as possible. If there was one thing more than another that Mr. Lloyd
disliked in children, and, therefore, dreaded for his boy, it was that
forward, conscious air which comes of too much attention being paid them
in the presence of their elders. "Little folks should be seen and not
heard," he would say kindly but firmly to Bert, when that young person
was disposed to unduly assert himself, and Bert rarely failed to take
the hint.

One trait of Bert's nature which gave his father great gratification was
his fondness for reading. He never had to be taught to read. He learned,
himself. That is, he was so eager to learn that so soon as he had
mastered the alphabet, he was always taking his picture books to his
mother or sister, and getting them to spell the words for him. In this
way he got over all his difficulties with surprising rapidity, and at
five years of age could read quite easily. As he grew older, he showed
rather an odd taste in his choice of books. One volume that he read from
cover to cover before he was eight years old was Layard's "Nineveh."
Just why this portly sombre-hued volume, with its winged lion stamped in
gold upon its back, attracted him so strongly, it would not be easy to
say. The illustrations, of course, had something to do with it, and then
the fascination of digging down deep into the earth and bringing forth
all sorts of strange things no doubt influenced him.

Another book that held a wonderful charm for him was the Book of
Revelation. So carefully did he con this, which he thought the most
glorious of all writings, that at one time he could recite many chapters
of it word for word. Its marvellous imagery appealed to his imagination
if it did nothing more, and took such hold upon his mind that no part of
the Bible, not even the stories that shine like stars through the first
books of the Old Testament, was more interesting to him.

Not only was Bert's imagination vivid, but his sympathies were also very
quick and easily aroused. It was scarcely safe to read to him a pathetic
tale, his tears were so certain to flow. The story of Gellert's hound,
faithful unto death, well-nigh broke his heart, and that perfect pearl,
"Rab and His Friends," bedewed his cheeks, although he read it again and
again until he knew it almost by heart.

No one ever laughed at his tenderness of heart. He was not taught that
it was unmanly for a boy to weep. It is an easy thing to chill and
harden an impressionable nature. It is not so easy to soften it again,
or to bring softness to one that is too hard for its own good.

With such a home, Bert Lloyd could hardly fail to be a happy boy, and no
one that knew him would ever have thought of him as being anything else.
He had his dull times, of course. What boy with all his faculties has
not? And he had his cranky spells, too. But neither the one nor the
other lasted very long, and the sunshine soon not only broke through the
clouds, but scattered them altogether. Happy are those natures not given
to brooding over real or fancied troubles. Gloom never mends matters: it
can only make them worse.



CHAPTER XIV.

AN HONOURABLE SCAR.


Bert was not learning very much at Mr. Garrison's school. He had some
glimmering of this himself, for he said to Frank one day, after they had
returned to their seats from having gone through the form--for really it
was nothing more--of saying one of their lessons:

"It's mighty easy work getting through lessons at this school, isn't it,
Shorty?" And Shorty, being of the same opinion, as he had happened not
to be asked any questions, and, therefore, had not made any mistakes,
promptly assented.

"That's so, Bert," said he, "and the oftener he asks Munro and you to
say the whole lesson, and just gives me the go-by, the better I like
it."

But Bert was not the only one who noticed that his education was not
making due progress. His father observed it too, and, after some
thinking on the subject, made up his mind that he would allow Bert to
finish the spring term at Mr. Garrison's, and then, after the summer
holidays, send him to some other school.

The winter passed away and spring drew near. Spring is the most dilatory
and provoking of all the seasons at Halifax. It advances and retreats,
pauses and progresses, promises and fails to perform, until it really
seems, sometimes, as though mid-summer would be at hand and no spring at
all. With the boys it is a particularly trying time of the year. The
daily increasing heat of the sun has played havoc with the snow and ice,
and winter sports are out of the question. Yet the snow and ice--or
rather the slush they make--still lingers on, and renders any kind of
summer sport impossible. For nearly a month this unsatisfactory state of
affairs continues, and then, at length, the wet dries up, the frost
comes out of the ground, the chill leaves the air, and marbles,
rounders, baseball, and, later on, cricket make glad the hearts and tire
the legs of the eager boys.

This spring was made memorable for Bert by an occurrence that left its
mark upon him, lest, perhaps, he might be in danger of forgetting it. In
front of the large building, in one room of which Mr. Garrison's school
was held, there was a large open square, known as the Parade. It was a
bare, stony place kept in order by nobody, and a great resort for the
roughs of the city, who could there do pretty much what they pleased
without fear of interruption from the police. On the upper side of this
square, and over toward the opposite end from Mr. Garrison's, was
another school, called the National, and having a large number of
scholars, of a somewhat commoner class than those which attended Mr.
Garrison's. It need hardly be said that the relations between the two
schools were, to use a diplomatic phrase, "chronically strained." They
were always at loggerheads. A Garrison boy could hardly encounter a
National boy without giving or getting a cuff, a matter determined by
his size, and riots, on a more or less extensive scale, were continually
taking place when groups of boys representing the two schools would
happen to meet.

Bert was neither quarrelsome nor pugnacious by nature. He disliked very
much being on bad terms with anyone, and could not understand why he
should regard another boy as his natural enemy simply because he
happened to go to a different school. More than once he had quite an
argument with Frank Bowser about it. Frank was always full of fight. He
hated every National boy as vigorously as though each one had
individually done him some cruel injury. As sure as a collision took
place, and Frank was present, he was in the thick of it at once, dealing
blows right and left with all his might.

In obedience to the dictation of his own nature, strengthened by his
father's advice, Bert kept out of these squabbles so far as he possibly
could, and as a natural consequence fell under suspicion of being a
coward. Even Frank began to wonder if he were not afraid, and if it were
not this which kept him back from active participation in the rows. He
said something about it to Bert one day, and it hurt Bert very much.

"I'm not afraid, Shorty; you know well enough I'm not," said he,
indignantly. "But I'm not going to fight with fellows who never did me
any harm. It's wrong, that's what it is, and I'm not going to do it. I
don't care what you say."

"But you ought to chip in sometimes, Bert, or the boys will think that
you're a coward," urged Frank.

"I can't help it if they do, Shorty," was Bert's unshaken reply. "I
don't feel like it myself, and, what's more, father doesn't want me to."

The very next day there was a row of unusual dimensions, brought about
by one of the Garrison boys at the noon recess having started a fight
with one of the National boys, which almost in a twinkling of an eye
involved all the boys belonging to both schools then in the Parade. It
was a lively scene, that would have gladdened the heart of an Irishman
homesick for the excitement of Donnybrook Fair. There were at least one
hundred boys engaged, the sides being pretty evenly matched, and the
battle ground was the centre of the Parade. To drive the other school in
ignominious flight from this spot was the object of each boyish
regiment, and locked in hostile embrace, like the players in a football
match when a "maul" has been formed, they swayed to and fro, now one
side gaining, now the other, while shouts of "Go in, Nationals!" "Give
it to them, Garrisons!" mingling with exclamations of anger or pain,
filled the air.

Bert was not present when the struggle began. In fact, it was well under
way before he knew anything about it, as he had lingered in the
schoolroom to ask Mr. Garrison some question after the other boys had
run out. On going out upon the Parade, he was at first startled by the
uproar, and then filled with an intense desire to be in the midst of the
battle. But, remembering his father's injunctions, he paused for a
moment irresolute. Then he noticed that the National boys were gaining
the advantage, and the Garrison boys retreating before them. The next
instant he caught sight of Frank Bowser, who had, of course, been in the
forefront of the fight, left unsupported by his comrades, and surrounded
by a circle of threatening opponents. Bert hesitated no longer. With a
shout of "Come on, boys!" he sprang down the steps, rushed across the
intervening space, and flung himself into the group around Frank with
such force that two of the Nationals were hurled to the ground, and
Frank set at liberty. Inspirited by Bert's gallant onset, the Garrisons
returned to the charge, the Nationals gave way before them, and Bert was
just about to raise the shout of victory when a big hulk of a boy who
had been hovering on the outskirts of the Nationals, too cowardly to
come to any closer quarter, picked up a stone and threw it with wicked
force straight at Bert's face. His aim was only too good. With a sharp
thud, the stone struck Bert on his left temple, just behind the eye, and
the poor boy fell to the ground insensible.

Instantly the struggle and confusion ceased, but not before Frank, in a
passion of fury, had dealt Bert's cowardly assailant a blow that sent
him reeling to the ground, and had then sprung to his friend's side.

"Get a doctor, some fellow," he shouted, holding up the pale, calm face,
down which the blood was trickling from an ugly wound. "Let's carry him
into the school!"

A dozen eager volunteers came forward. Carefully and tenderly Bert was
lifted up, and carried into the schoolroom, which, fortunately, Mr.
Garrison had not yet left. Placed upon one of the benches, with Frank's
coat for a pillow, his head was bathed with cold water, and presently he
revived, much to the relief and delight of the anxious boys standing
round. A few minutes later the doctor arrived. With quick, deft fingers
he stanched the wound, covered it with plaster, enveloped it with
bandages, and then gave directions that Bert should be sent home in a
cab without delay.

"Why, Bert darling, what does this mean?" exclaimed Mrs. Lloyd, as she
opened the door for him.

"Ask Frank, mother; my head's aching too bad to tell you," replied
Bert, putting up his hand with a gesture of pain. And so, while Bert lay
on the sofa, with his mother close beside him, and Mary preparing him a
refreshing drink, Frank told the story in his own, rough,
straightforward fashion, making it all so clear, with the help of a word
now and then from Bert, that when he ended, Mrs. Lloyd, bending over her
son, kissed him tenderly on the forehead, saying:

"You know, Bert, how I dislike fighting, but I cannot find it in my
heart to blame you this time. You acted like a hero."

In this opinion Mr. Lloyd, when he came home, fully concurred. He had
not a word of blame for Bert, but made the boy's heart glad by telling
him to always stand by his friends when they were in trouble, and then
he would never be without friends who would stand by him.

Bert's wound took some time to heal, and when it did heal, a scar
remained that kept its place for many years after. But he did not suffer
for nought. The incident was productive of good in two directions. It
established Bert's character for courage beyond all cavil, and it put an
end to the unseemly rows between the schools. The two masters held a
consultation, as a result of which they announced to their schools that
any boys found taking part in such disturbances in future would be first
publicly whipped, and then expelled; and this threat put an effectual
stop to the practice.

The days and weeks slipped by, and the summer vacation, so eagerly
looked forward to by all schoolboys, arrived. None were more delighted
at its arrival than Bert and Frank. Their friendship had grown steadily
stronger from the day of their first acquaintance. They had few
disagreements. Frank, although the older and larger of the two, let Bert
take the lead in almost all cases, for Bert had the more active mind,
and his plans were generally the better. Happily for the serenity of
their relations, Bert, while he was fond enough of being the leader,
never undertook to "boss" his companions. If they did not readily fall
into line with him, why he simply fell into line with them, and that was
an end of it. His idea of fun did not consist in being an autocrat, and
ordering others about. He very much preferred that all should work
together for whatever common purpose happened to be in their minds at
the time; and thus it was, that of the boys who played together in the
old fort, and waded in the shallow water that rippled along the sand
beach at its foot, no one was more popular than Bert Lloyd.

They had fine fun during this summer vacation. Neither Frank nor Bert
went out of the city, and they played together every day, generally in
the fort; but sometimes Bert would go with Frank to the Horticultural
Gardens, where a number of swings made a great attraction for the young
folk, or down to the point where they would ramble through the woods,
imagining themselves brave hunters in search of bears, and carrying bows
and arrows to help out the illusion.

The greatest enjoyment of all, however, was to go out upon the water. Of
course, they were not allowed to do this by themselves. They were too
young for that yet, but very often Mr. Lloyd would leave his office
early in the afternoon in order to take them out in the pretty skiff he
kept at the fort, or the whole family would spend the long summer
evenings together on the water.

Bert was at his happiest then. Under his father's directions he was
vigorously learning to row, and it was very stimulating to have his
mother and sister as spectators. They took such a lively interest in his
progress, that he did not mind if they did laugh heartily, but of course
not unkindly, when sometimes in his eagerness to take an extra big
stroke he would "catch a crab," and roll over on his back in the bottom
of the boat, with his feet stuck up like two signals of distress. Bert
accomplished this a good many times, but it did not discourage him. He
was up and at it again immediately.

"Don't look at your oar, boys! Don't look at your oar! Keep your faces
toward the stern," Mr. Lloyd would call out as Bert and Frank tugged
away manfully, and they, who had been watching their oars to make sure
that they went into the water just right, would answer "Ay, ay, sir!"
in true sailor fashion; and then for the next few moments they would
keep their eyes fixed straight astern, only to bring them back again
soon to those dripping blades that had such a saucy way of getting
crooked unless they were well watched.

A more delightful place than Halifax harbour of a fine summer evening
could hardly be desired. The wind, which had been busy making "white
caps" all the afternoon, went to rest at sundown. The ruffled waters
sank into a glassy calm, the broad harbour becoming one vast mirror in
which the rich hues of the sunset, the long dark lines of the wharves,
and the tall masts of the ships sleeping at their moorings were
reflected with many a quaint curve and curious involution. Boats of
every kind, the broad-bottomed dory, the sharp-bowed flat, the trim
keel-boat, the long low whaler, with their jolly companies, dotted the
placid surface, while here and there a noisy steam launch saucily puffed
its way along, the incessant throb of its engine giving warning of its
approach. Far up the harbour at their moorings off the dockyard, the
huge men-of-war formed centres around which the boats gathered in
numerous squads, for every evening the band would play on board these
floating castles, and the music never seemed more sweet than when it
floated out over the still waters. Sometimes, too, after the band had
ceased, the sailors would gather on the forecastle and sing their songs,
as only sailors can sing, winning round after round of applause from
their appreciative audience in the boats.

All of this was very delightful to Bert. So, too, was the paddling about
on the beach that fringed the bottom of the fort's grassy slope, and the
making of miniature forts out of the warm, dry sand, only to have them
dissolve again before the advancing tide. Just as delightful, too, was
the clambering over the boulders that marked the ruins of an old pier,
searching for periwinkles, star-fish, and limpets, with never-ceasing
wonder at the tenacity with which they held on to the rocks. Playing
thus in the sunshine almost from dawn to dark, Bert grew visibly bigger
and browner and sturdier, as the days slipped swiftly by.



CHAPTER XV.

A CHANGE OF SCHOOLS.


With the coming of September the holidays ended, and the question of
schools once more was earnestly discussed in the Lloyd household.

"I have quite made up my mind not to send Bert back to Mr. Garrison,"
said Mr. Lloyd. "He seems to be learning little or nothing there. The
fact of the matter is, what he does learn, he learns at home, and Mr.
Garrison simply hears him recite his lessons."

"That's very true," assented Mrs. Lloyd. "I am only too glad to help
Bert all I can in his studies, but I do not see the propriety of our
having the greater part of the work of teaching him ourselves when we
are at the same time paying some one else to do it. Do you, Mary?" she
added, turning to her daughter.

"No, mother," replied Mary. "I suppose it is not quite fair. Yet I would
feel sorry if Bert went to a school where everything was done for him,
and nothing left for us to do. I like to help him. He gets hold of an
idea so quickly; it is a pleasure to explain anything to him."

"It seems to me that a school where there is a good deal of healthful
rivalry among the boys would be the best place for Bert. He is very
ambitious, and eager to be at the top, and in a school of that kind his
energies would be constantly stimulated," said Mr. Lloyd. "What do you
think, Kate?" addressing his wife.

"I think that would be very good, indeed," answered Mrs. Lloyd. "But do
you know of any such school?"

"I have been hearing good accounts of Dr. Johnston's school, and he
certainly seems to have a great deal of system in his methods, so that I
am inclined to give him a trial."

"Oh, Dr. Johnston's is a splendid school," spoke up Mary, with
enthusiasm. "Both of Edie Strong's brothers go there, and I have often
heard them tell about it. But isn't Bert too young for it yet? He's only
nine, you know, and they are mostly big boys who go to Dr. Johnston's."

"Not a bit!" said Mr. Lloyd, emphatically. "Not a bit! True, Bert is
only nine, but he looks more like twelve, and thinks and acts like it,
too. It will be all the better for him to be with boys a little older
than himself. He will find it hard to hold his own among them, and that
will serve to strengthen and develop him."

"Poor little chap!" said Mrs. Lloyd, tenderly. "I expect he will have a
pretty hard time of it at first. I wish Frank were going with him, for
he thinks all the world of Bert, and is so much older and bigger that he
could be a sort of protector for him."

"I'm glad you mentioned Frank, Kate," exclaimed Mr. Lloyd. "You've given
me an idea. If I decide to send Bert to Dr. Johnston's, I will make a
point of seeing Mr. Bowser, to ask him if he will not consent to send
Frank, too. I hardly expect he will make any objection, as it is not
likely there will be any difference in the expense."

"Oh, I do hope Frank will go, too," cried Mary, clapping her hands. "If
he does, I shall feel ever so much easier about Bert. Frank is so fond
of him that he won't let him be abused, if he can help it."

"Very well, then," said Mr. Lloyd, bringing the conversation to a close.
"I will make some further inquiries about Dr. Johnston's, and if the
results are satisfactory I will see Mr. Bowser, and do what I can to
persuade him to let Frank accompany Bert."

A few days after, Mr. Lloyd called Bert to him, while they were all
sitting in the parlour, just after dinner.

"Come here, Bert," said he. "I want to have a talk with you about going
to school. You know I don't intend you to go back to Mr. Garrison's.
Now, where would you like to go yourself?"

"Oh, I don't know, father," replied Bert. "I don't want to go to the
Acadian or National school anyway."

"You need not feel troubled on that score. So far as I can learn, they
are no better than the one you have been going to. But what do you think
of Dr. Johnston's school? How would you like to become a pupil there?"

"Oh, father," exclaimed Bert, looking up, with a face expressive of both
surprise and concern, "I'm not big enough for that school. They're all
big boys that go there."

"But you're a big boy,--for your age, at all events,--Bert," returned
Mr. Lloyd, with a reassuring smile, "and you'll soon grow to be as big
as any of them."

"But, father," objected Bert, "they're awfully rough there, and so hard
on the new fellows. They always hoist them."

"Hoist them?" inquired Mr. Lloyd. "What do you mean?"

"Why, they hang them up on the fence, and then pound them. It hurts
awfully. Robbie Simpson told me about it. They hoisted him the first
day."

"Humph!" said Mr. Lloyd. "I must say I don't like that, but at the worst
I suppose you can survive it, just as the others have done. Is there any
other reason why you wouldn't like to go to Dr. Johnston's?"

"Well, father, you know he has a dreadful strap, most a yard long, and
he gives the boys dreadful whippings with it."

"Suppose he has, Bert; does he whip the boys who know their lessons, and
behave properly in school?" asked Mr. Lloyd, with a quizzical glance at
his son.

Bert laughed. "Of course not, father," said he. "He only whips the bad
boys."

"Then why should his long strap be an objection, Bert? You don't propose
to be one of the bad boys, do you?"

"Of course not, father; but I might get a whipping, all the same."

"We'll hope not, Bert; we'll hope not. And now, look here. Would you
like it any better going to Dr. Johnston's if Frank were to go with
you?"

"Oh, yes indeed, father," exclaimed Bert, his face lighting up. "If
Frank goes too, I won't mind it."

"All right then, Bert; I am glad to say that Frank is going, too. I went
to see his father to-day, and he agreed to let him go, so I suppose we
may consider the matter settled, and next Monday you two boys will go
with me to the school." And Mr. Lloyd, evidently well-pleased at having
reconciled Bert to the idea of the new school, took up his paper, while
Bert went over to his mother's side to have a talk with her about it.

Mrs. Lloyd felt all a mother's anxiety regarding this new phase of life
upon which her boy was about to enter. Dr. Johnston's was the largest
and most renowned school in the city. It was also in a certain sense the
most aristocratic. Its master charged high rates, which only well-to-do
people could afford, and as a consequence the sons of the wealthiest
citizens attended his school. Because of this, it was what would be
called select; and just in that very fact lay one of the dangers Mrs.
Lloyd most dreaded. Rich men's sons may be select from a social point of
view, but they are apt to be quite the reverse from the moral
standpoint. Frank Bowser, with all his clumsiness and lack of good
manners, would be a far safer companion than Dick Wilding, the graceful,
easy-mannered heir of the prosperous bank president.

On the other hand, the school was undoubtedly the best in the city. A
long line of masters had handed down from one to the other its fame as a
home of the classics and mathematics with unimpaired lustre. At no other
school could such excellent preparation for the university be obtained,
and Bert in due time was to go to the university. Many a long and
serious talk had Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd over the matter. True, they had
great confidence in their boy, and in the principles according to which
they had sought to bring him up. But then he was their only boy, and if
their confidence should perchance be found to have been misplaced, how
could the damage be repaired? Ah! well, they could, after all, only do
their best, and leave the issue with God. They could not always be
Bert's shields. He must learn to fight his own battles, and it was as
well for him to begin now, and at Dr. Johnston's school.

Bert himself took quite a serious view of the matter, too. He was a more
than ordinarily thoughtful boy, and the prospect of going to Dr.
Johnston's made his brain very busy. While the school was not without
its attractions for him, there were many reasons why he shrank from
going to it. The most of the boys were, as he knew from often seeing
them when on his way to and from Mr. Garrison's, older and bigger than
himself, and, still worse, they were strangers to him with one or two
exceptions. Of course, since Frank was to go with him, he would not mind
that so much, but it counted for a good deal, notwithstanding.

Then he had heard startling stories of Dr. Johnston's severity; of his
keeping boys in after school for a whole afternoon; of the tremendous
whippings he gave with that terrible strap of his, the tails of which
had, according to popular rumour, been first soaked in vinegar, and then
studded with small shot; of the rigorous care with which the lessons
were heard, every boy in the class having to show that he was well
prepared, or to take the consequences. These, and other stories which
had reached Bert's ears, now perturbed him greatly.

At the same time, he had no idea of drawing back, and pleading with his
father to send him somewhere else. He saw clearly enough that both his
father and mother had quite made up their minds that it would be the
best thing for him, and he knew better than to trouble them with vain
protests. He found his sister an inexpressible comfort at this time. He
confided in her unreservedly, and her sweet, serene, trustful way of
looking at things cleared away many a difficulty for him. It was easy to
look at the bright side of affairs with Mary as an adviser, and the more
Bert talked with her, the more encouraged he became. It was a happy
coincidence, that on the Sunday preceding Bert's entrance into Dr.
Johnston's school, the lesson for the Sabbath school should contain
these ringing words: "Quit you like men; be strong." Mr. Silver had much
to say about them to his class:

"Only six simple words of one syllable each, boys," said he, as he
gathered his scholars close about his chair, "but they mean a great
deal. And yet, we do not need to look into some wise old commentator to
tell us just what they do mean, for we can all understand them
ourselves. They are not intended solely for grown-up people, either.
They are for boys just like you. Now, let us look into them a bit. 'Quit
you like men.' What kind of men, Bert? Any kind at all, or some
particular kind?"

"Like good men, of course," replied Bert, promptly.

"Yes, Bert, that's right. And what does it mean to quit yourself like a
good man?" asked Mr. Silver, again.

"To be always manly, and not be a baby," answered Walter Thomson, with a
vigour that brought a smile to Mr. Silver's face.

"Right you are, Walter; but is that all?"

"No," said Will Murray, "it means to do only what is right."

"That's it, Will. To be always manly, and to do only what is right. Now,
boys, do you know that you are very apt to confuse these two things, and
by forming mistaken notions as to what constitutes the first, you fail
to do the second? Many boys think that it is manly to swear, to use
tobacco, to be out late at night hanging round the street corners, and
so they do all these things, although they are not right things to do.
Have they the right ideas of manliness, boys?"

"No, sir; no, sir," answered the thoroughly interested class, in full
chorus.

"No, indeed, boys, they have not," continued Mr. Silver. "There is over
a hundred times more manliness in refusing to form those bad habits than
in yielding to them. And that is just the kind of manliness I want all
the boys of my class to have. 'Quit you like men,' boys, and then, 'be
strong.' What does that mean?"

"To keep up your muscle," spoke out Frank, much to the surprise of
everybody, for, although he listened attentively enough, he very rarely
opened his mouth in the class.

Mr. Silver smiled. It was not just the answer he wanted, but he would
not discourage Frank by saying so.

"That's part of the answer, but not quite the whole of it," he said,
after a pause. "It's a good thing for boys to keep up their muscle. God
wants what is best in this world, and we can often serve Him with our
muscle as well as with our minds. If Samson and Gideon and David had not
been men of muscle, they could not have done such grand work for God as
they did. I like to see a boy with legs and arms 'as hard as nails,' as
they say. But the words 'be strong' here mean more than that, don't
they, Bert?"

"They mean to be strong in resisting temptation, don't they, Mr.
Silver?" replied Bert.

"Yes; that's just it. Quit you like men--be manly, and be strong to
resist temptation. Now, boys, some people think that young chaps like
you don't have many temptations. That you have to wait until you grow up
for that. But it's a tremendous mistake, isn't it? You all have your
temptations, and lots of them, too. And they are not all alike, by any
means, either. Every boy has his own peculiar difficulties, and finds
his own obstacles in the way of right doing. But the cure is the same in
all cases. It is to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His
might. That is the best way of all in which to be strong, boys. When the
Philistines were hard pressed by the Israelites, they said one to
another, 'Be strong and quit yourselves like men ... quit yourselves
like men, and fight.' And they fought so well that Israel was smitten
before them, and the ark of God was taken. And so, boys, whenever, at
home, at school, or at play, you feel tempted to do what is wrong, I ask
you to remember these words, 'Quit yourselves like men, be strong, and
fight.' If you do, so sure as there is a God in heaven who loves you
all, you will come off conquerors."

Mr. Silver's words made a deep impression upon Bert. The great ambition
of his boyish heart was to be esteemed manly. Nor was he entirely free
from the mistaken notions about manliness to which his teacher had
referred. He had more than once been sneered at, by some of the boys at
Mr. Garrison's, for refusing to do what seemed to him wrong. They had
called him "Softy," and hinted at his being tied to his mother's
apron-strings. Then, big, coarse Bob Brandon, always on the look-out to
vent his spite, had nicknamed him "Sugar-mouth" one day, because he had
exclaimed to one of the boys who was pouring out oaths:

"Oh, Tom! how can you swear so? Don't you know how wicked it is to take
God's name in vain?"

These and other incidents like them had troubled Bert a good deal. He
dreaded being thought a "softy," and had even at times felt a kind of
envy of the boys whose consciences did not trouble them if they swore,
or indulged in sly smokes, or defiled their mouths with filthy quids.
Mr. Silver's words now came in good time to give a changed current to
these thoughts. They presented to his mind a very different idea of
manliness from the confused conception which had been his hitherto.

"That's a good motto for a fellow, Shorty," said he, as the two friends
walked home together from the school. "Mother asked me the other day to
take a text for a motto. I think I'll take 'Quit you like men, be
strong.'"

"I think I will, too, Bert," said Frank. "It's no harm if we have the
same one, is it?"

"Why no, of course not," answered Bert. "We'll both have the same, and
then we'll help one another all we can to do what it says."



CHAPTER XVI.

THE FIRST DAYS AT DR. JOHNSTON'S.


It was a fine, bright September morning when Mr. Lloyd, with Bert on one
side of him and Frank on the other--for Frank had come down, so that he
might go with Bert--made his way to Dr. Johnston's school. The school
occupied a historic old building, whose weather-beaten front faced one
of the principal streets of the city. This building had in times long
past been the abode of the governor of the province, and sadly as it had
degenerated in appearance, it still retained a certain dignity, and air
of faded grandeur, that strongly suggested its having once been applied
to a more exalted use than the housing of a hundred boys for certain
hours of the day. So spacious was it, that Dr. Johnston found ample room
for his family in one half, while the other half was devoted to the
purposes of the school. At the rear, a cluster of shabby outbuildings
led to a long narrow yard where tufts of rank, coarse grass, and bunches
of burdocks struggled hard to maintain their existence in spite of
fearful odds.

The boys' hearts were throbbing violently as Mr. Lloyd rang the bell.
The door was opened readily by a boy, who was glad of the excuse to
leave his seat, and he entered the schoolroom, followed by his charges.
The room was long, narrow, and low-ceilinged, and was divided into two
unequal portions by a great chimney, on either side of which a passage
had been left. At the farther end, occupying the central space between
two windows, was the doctor's desk, or throne it might more properly be
called; for never did autocrat wield more unquestioned authority over
his subjects than did Dr. Johnston over the hundred and odd scholars who
composed his school. In front of him, running down the centre of the
room, and on either hand, following the walls, were long lines of desks,
at which sat boys of all sorts, and of all ages, from ten to eighteen.
As Mr. Lloyd entered, those nearest the door looked up, and seeing the
new-comers, proceeded to stare at them with a frank curiosity that made
Bert feel as though he would like to hide in one of his father's
coat-tail pockets.

They turned away pretty quickly, however, when Dr. Johnston, leaving his
desk, came down to meet Mr. Lloyd, and as he passed between the lines,
every head was bent as busily over the book or slate before it, as
though its attention had never been distracted.

Considering that Dr. Johnston was really a small, slight man, it was
surprising what an idea of stately dignity his appearance conveyed. He
could hardly have impressed Bert with a deeper feeling of respect from
the outset, if he had been seven feet high, instead of only a little
more than five. He was a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, and wore at
all times a long black gown, reaching nearly to his ankles, which set
off to the best advantage the spare, straight figure, and strong dark
face. The habitual expression of that face when in repose was of
thoughtful severity, and yet if one did but scan it closely enough, the
stern mouth was seen to have a downward turn at its corners that hinted
at a vein of humour lying hid somewhere. The hint was well-sustained,
for underneath all his sternness and severity the doctor concealed a
playful humour, that at times came to the surface, and gratefully
relieved his ordinary grimness.

As he walked down from his desk to meet Mr. Lloyd, he looked very
pleasant indeed; and Bert felt his nervousness a little calmed as,
holding out his thin, white and yet muscular hand, Dr. Johnston said,
cordially:

"Good-morning, Mr. Lloyd. I presume these are the two boys you spoke to
me about."

"They are, Dr. Johnston," Mr. Lloyd replied. "I brought them in good
time so that they might learn as much as possible about the ways of the
school the first day."

"You did well, Mr. Lloyd. It is important to have a good beginning in
everything that is worth doing," said the doctor; then, turning to
Bert, he slipped his hand under his chin, and lifting his head so that
he might look him full in the face, added, with a smile, "I need hardly
ask which of these boys is yours, for this one betrays his paternity in
every feature."

"You have hit the mark, doctor," said Mr. Lloyd, smiling in his turn.
"This is my son Cuthbert, at your service, and this is Frank Bowser, his
inseparable companion."

"Quite a case of Damon and Pythias, eh?" said the doctor, whose devotion
to the classics was such that his one great regret was that he had not
lived in the time of Horace.

"Yes, something of the kind," rejoined Mr. Lloyd; "and I would be very
glad if you could manage to let them sit together so long as they behave
themselves."

"We'll see, we'll see," was the doctor's non-committal response.

"Very well, then, doctor," said Mr. Lloyd, turning to leave. "I'll hand
them over to you now. I am sure you will make the best of them, and that
I am leaving them in very good hands. Good-bye, boys." And then, bending
down, he whispered in Bert's ear, "Remember--quit you like men--be
strong," and then left them.

As Mr. Lloyd disappeared through the door, the air of geniality the
doctor had been wearing during the brief interview vanished from his
countenance, and it relapsed into its wonted look of resigned severity.

"Lloyd and Bowser, come with me to my desk," said he, turning his back
upon them, and walking down the room. The boys followed very meekly, and
on arriving at the desk the doctor entered their names in a huge book
that lay open before him, using an old-fashioned quill pen that
scratched so harshly as to send a shudder through Bert, who was very
sensitive to such things.

"We will now see about seats for you both," continued the doctor. Then,
raising his voice, he called out, "Mr. Snelling, will you please come
here," and from the far end of the room a respectful voice responded
"Yes, sir."

Looking in the direction whence the voice came, Bert saw an odd-looking
man approaching, who, of course, was Mr. Snelling. He was of medium
height, but quite as slight as the doctor himself. Many years at the
schoolmaster's desk had given a stoop to his shoulders and a pallor to
his face, that were in marked contrast to his chief's erect figure and
swarthy countenance. But if his face was pale, his hair made a brave
attempt to atone for this lack of colour, for it was the richest, most
uncompromising red; and as though he delighted in its warm tints, Mr.
Snelling allowed it to grow in uncropped abundance, and his favourite
gesture was to thrust his fingers through its tangled mass. Beneath a
white and narrow forehead were two small sharp eyes, that peered out
keenly through a pair of gold-bowed spectacles, and were ever on the
watch to detect the slightest misbehaviour among the urchins gathered
around him.

Bert's first impression of Mr. Snelling was not a favourable one, and as
he stood by and heard Dr. Johnston say: "Mr. Snelling, here are two more
pupils. This is Lloyd, and this is Bowser. They will go into your room
for the present. Will you please see that desks are assigned them?"--he
thought to himself that in spite of the doctor's grim appearance he
would rather stay in his room than be handed over to Mr. Snelling.

However, he was not to be consulted in the matter, so he followed in the
wake of Mr. Snelling, who, by the way, it should be explained, was the
assistant master, having special charge of all the younger scholars, and
the drilling of them in the English branches of learning. The classics
and mathematics the doctor reserved for himself, and a better teacher of
the former particularly there was not in all Halifax.

Mr. Snelling's portion of the room differed from the doctor's only in
that it was not so well lighted and the seats were not quite so
comfortable. The school being pretty full at the time, the securing of
seats for the two new-comers required some rearranging, in the course of
which changes had to be made that evidently did not by any means meet
with the approbation of those who were immediately concerned; and
Bert's spirits, already at a low ebb, were not much elevated by sundry
scowling looks directed at him, and by one red-faced, irritable-looking
chap seizing the opportunity when Mr. Snelling's back was turned to
shake his fist at Bert and Frank, and mutter loudly enough for them to
hear:

"I'll punch the heads of you both at recess, see if I don't."

At length, with some little difficulty, Mr. Snelling got matters
arranged, and the two boys were placed in the farthest corner of the
room, and, to their profound delight, side by side. Their accommodations
were the reverse of luxurious. A wooden bench, destitute of back, and
shiny from the friction of dear knows how many restless sitters; a
sloping desk, cut and carved by careless knives, and having underneath
an open shelf upon which the books, slate, cap, and lunch might be
put--that was the sum total. Yet, after all, what more do schoolboys
really need, or can be safely intrusted with?

Feeling very strange and nervous, Bert and Frank took their seats, and
slipping their caps under the desk--they were both wearing that
serviceable form of headgear known as the Glengarry--they did their best
to seem composed, and to take in their surroundings. The gaunt, unlovely
room was soon inspected, and from it they turned their attention to its
occupants. Mr. Snelling has already been described. To the left of his
desk, and extending row upon row, one behind the other, were desks
filled with boys of different ages and sizes. In front of him was an
open space, in which the classes stood when reciting lessons to him, and
across this space was another line of desks placed close to the wall,
which were assigned to the oldest boys in the room.

Not a familiar or friendly face could the new-comers find, but instead,
they saw many that seemed to take pleasure in making them feel, if
possible, still more ill at ease, by fixing upon them a cold,
indifferent stare, or even an ugly grimace. The only ray of light was
that which came from the sweet countenance of a blue-eyed, fair-haired
boy, who, catching Bert's eye, nodded pleasantly at him, as though to
say, "I'm glad you've come; make yourself at home." And Bert resolved
that he would make his acquaintance at the very first opportunity.

Having nothing to do but watch the other boys as they studied and
recited, the morning dragged along very slowly for Bert and Frank, and
they were immensely relieved when the noon recess was announced, and the
whole school poured tumultuously out into either the yard or the street,
according to their preference. The majority of the boys went into the
street, and the two friends followed them, feeling not a little anxious
as to what sort of treatment they might expect at the hands of their new
companions. As it proved, however, they had nothing to fear, for it was
an unwritten law of the Johnston school, that new boys should be left
in peace for the first day; and accordingly Frank and Bert were
permitted to stand about and watch the others enjoying themselves
without interruption. No one asked them to join in the games, although,
no doubt, had they done so of their own accord, no one would have
objected. After they had been there a few minutes, Bert heard a soft
voice behind him saying:

"It's horrid to be a new boy, isn't it? When I was a new boy I felt so
frightened. Do you feel frightened?" And turning round he saw beside him
the blue-eyed, fair-haired boy whose pleasant face had attracted his
attention in the school.

"I don't think I feel just frightened," he answered, with a smile. "But
I can't say I feel very much at home yet."

"Oh, my! But it will be very much worse to-morrow," said the new
acquaintance.

"And why will it be worse?" inquired Bert, eagerly.

"Because they'll hoist you," said the other, with a nervous glance
around, as though he feared being overheard.

"Does it hurt dreadfully to be hoisted?" asked Bert, while Frank drew
near, awaiting the reply with intense interest.

"Oh, yes; it does hurt dreadfully! But"--with a more cheerful air--"you
get over it after a little while, you know."

"Well, then, I guess I can stand it. If you got over it all right, so
can I," spoke up Bert, manfully; then, turning to Frank, "And you can,
too, can't you, Shorty?"

Frank shook his head doubtfully. "I _can_ all right enough, but I don't
know that I _will_. I've a mind to give them a fight for it, anyhow."

"Not a bit of use," said the blue-eyed boy, whose name, by the way, as
he presently told the others, was Ernest Linton. "Not a bit of use.
They'll only beat you the harder if you fight."

"We'll see," said Frank, with a determined air. "We'll see when the time
comes."

Bert and Frank found Ernest a very bright and useful friend, and they
had so many questions to ask him that they were very sorry when the
ringing of a bell summoned them back to their seats, where they were
kept until three o'clock in the afternoon, when school was over for the
day.

At home that evening Bert recounted his experiences to three very
attentive listeners, and his face grew very grave when he came to tell
what Ernest had said about the "hoisting." Having never witnessed a
performance of this peculiar rite by which for many years it had been
the custom of the school to initiate new members, Bert had no very clear
ideas about it, and, of course, thought it all the more dreadful on that
account. But his father cheered him a great deal by the view he took of
it.

"See, now, Bert," said he. "It's just this way. Every boy in Dr.
Johnston's school has been hoisted, and none of them, I suppose, are any
the worse for it. Neither will you be. Take my advice and don't resist.
Let the boys have it all their own way, and they'll like you all the
better, and let you off all the easier."

"Very well, father, I'll do just as you say," responded Bert. "And when
I come home to-morrow afternoon I'll tell you all about it." And feeling
in much better spirits than he had been in all day, Bert went off to
bed, and to sleep, as only a tired schoolboy in sturdy health can
sleep.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE HOISTING.


Mrs. Lloyd gave Bert a more than usually affectionate kiss as he started
off for school next morning, and his father called after him:

"Remember, Bert, quit you like a man."

Yet who could blame the little fellow if his heart throbbed with
unwonted vigour all that morning, and that he watched the clock's hands
anxiously as they crept slowly, but steadily, round the dial, yellow
with age and service.

Frank had adopted an unconcerned, if not defiant air, which told plainly
enough that he had no idea of submitting quietly to the inevitable
ordeal. He was a born fighter. Strength, endurance, courage were
expressed in every line of his body. Indeed, as was seen in the matter
of the rows between the Garrison and the National boys, he thought a
good lively tussle to be fine fun, and never missed a chance of having
one.

The two boys were carefully examined by both Dr. Johnston and Mr.
Snelling as to the extent of their learning in the course of the
morning, and assigned to classes accordingly. They were given the same
work: English grammar and history, arithmetic, geography, Latin grammar,
&c., and a list given them of the books they would need to procure. They
were glad to find themselves in the same classes with Ernest Linton, who
had been only half-a-year at the school before them, for he seemed such
a kind, willing, obliging little chap that they both became fond of him
at once.

When recess came he slipped up to Bert and whispered in his ear:

"Stay in school, and then they can't get at you. Mr. Snelling always
stays, and they daren't come in for you."

"Not a bit of it," said Bert, emphatically. "The sooner it's over the
better. Come along, Shorty." And they marched bravely out, with Ernest
following closely behind.

As they stepped into the street, they found fifty or more of the boys
gathered about the door, evidently awaiting them. Instantly the cry was
raised, "The new boys--hoist them! hoist them!" And half-a-dozen hands
were laid upon Bert, who led the van, while others seized Frank to
prevent his running away. Bert made no resistance. Neither did Frank,
when he saw that his time had not yet come, as they were going to hoist
Bert first. Clinching his fists, and hunching his shoulders in readiness
for a struggle, he stood in silence watching Bert's fate.

What that would be was not long a matter of uncertainty. In the midst of
a noisy rabble of boys, many of whom were larger, and all older than
himself, he was borne along to the foot of the high fence that shut in
the yard which, as already described, was at the back of the school
building. Perched on top of this fence, and leaning down with
outstretched arms, were four of the largest lads, shouting at the top of
their voices, "Bring him along; hoist him up, hoist him!" The
unresisting Bert was brought underneath this quartette, and then his
hands were lifted up until they could grasp them in their own. So soon
as this was done, a pull all together on their part hoisted him up from
the ground, three feet at least, and then his legs were seized, lest he
should be tempted to kick. The next moment, as perfectly helpless, and
looking not unlike a hawk nailed to a barn-door by way of warning to
kindred robbers, Bert hung there, doing his best to keep a smile on his
face, but in reality half frightened to death. The whole crowd then
precipitated themselves upon him, and with tight-shut fists proceeded to
pummel any part of his body they could reach. Their blows were dealt in
good earnest, and not merely for fun, and they hurt just as much as one
might expect. Poor Bert winced, and quivered, and squirmed, but not a
cry escaped from his close-set lips. The one thought in his mind was,
"Quit you like men," and so buoyed up by it was he, that had the blows
been as hard again as they were, it is doubtful if his resolution to
bear them in silence would have faltered.

He did not know how long he hung there. It seemed to him like hours. It
probably was not longer than a minute. But, oh! the glad relief with
which he heard one of the leaders call out:

"That's enough, fellows; let him down. He stood it like a brick."

The blows ceased at once; those holding his hands swung him a couple of
times along the fence after the manner of a pendulum, and then dropped
him to the ground, where he was surrounded by his late persecutors, who
now, looking pleasant enough, proceeded to clap him on the back, and
tell him very emphatically that he was "a plucky little chap"; "one of
the right sort"; "true grit," and so forth.

Feeling sore and strained, from his neck to his heels, Bert would have
been glad to slip away into some corner and have a good cry, just to
relieve his suppressed emotions; but as he tried to separate himself
from the throng about him, he heard the shout of "Hoist him! Hoist him!"
again raised, and saw the leaders in this strange sport bear down upon
Frank Bowser, who, still in the hands of his first captors had looked on
at Bert's ordeal with rapidly rising anger.

The instant Frank heard the shout, he broke loose from those who held
him, and springing up a flight of steps near by, stood facing his
pursuers with an expression upon his countenance that looked ill for the
first that should attempt to touch him. A little daunted by his
unexpected action, the boys paused for a moment, and then swarmed about
the steps. One of the largest rushed forward to seize Frank, but with a
quick movement the latter dodged him, and then by a sudden charge sent
him tumbling down the steps into the arms of the others. But the
advantage was only momentary. In another minute he was surrounded and
borne down the steps despite his resistance.

The struggle that ensued was really heroic--on Frank's part, at all
events. Although so absurdly outnumbered, he fought desperately, not
with blows, but with sheer strength of arm and leg, straining to the
utmost every muscle in his sturdy frame. Indeed, so tremendous were his
efforts, that for a time it seemed as if they would succeed in freeing
him. But the might of numbers prevailed at length, and, after some
minutes' further struggling, he was hoisted in due form, and pounded
until the boys were fairly weary.

When they let him go, Frank adjusted his clothes, which had been much
disordered in the conflict, took his cap from the hands of a little
chap, by whom it had thoughtfully been picked up for him, and with
furious flaming face went over to Bert, who had been a spectator of his
friend's gallant struggle with mingled feelings of admiration for his
courage and regret at his obstinacy.

"They beat me, but I made them sweat for it," said he. "I wasn't going
to let them have their own way with me, even if you did."

"You might just as well have given in first as last," replied Bert.

"But I didn't give in," asserted Frank. "That's just the point. They
were too many for me, of course, and I couldn't help myself at last, but
I held out as long as I could."

"Anyway, it's over now," said Bert, "and it won't bother us any more.
But there's one thing I've made up my mind to: I'm not going to have
anything to do with hoisting other new boys. I don't like it, and I
won't do it."

"No more will I, Bert," said Frank. "It's a mean business; a whole crowd
of fellows turning on one and beating him like that."

Just then the bell rang, and all the boys poured back into the
schoolroom for the afternoon session.

Each in his own way, Bert and Frank had made a decidedly favourable
impression upon their schoolmates. No one mistook Bert's passive
endurance for cowardice. His bearing had been too brave and bright for
that. Neither did Frank's vigorous resistance arouse any ill-feeling
against him. Boys are odd creatures. They heartily admire and applaud
the fiery, reckless fellow, who takes no thought for the consequences,
and yet they thoroughly appreciate the quiet, cool self-command of the
one who does not move until he knows just what he is going to do. And so
they were well pleased with both the friends, and quite ready to admit
them into the full fellowship of the school.

The Lloyds were greatly interested by Bert's account of the hoisting.
They praised him for his self-control, and Frank for his plucky fight
against such odds, and they fully agreed with Bert that hoisting was a
poor business at best, and that he would be doing right to have nothing
to do with it.

"Perhaps some day or other you'll be able to have it put a stop to,
Bert," said his mother, patting his head fondly. "It would make me very
proud if my boy were to become a reformer before he leaves school."

"I'm afraid there's not much chance of that, mother," answered Bert.
"The boys have been hoisting the new chaps for ever so many years, and
Dr. Johnston has never stopped them."

That was true. Although he feigned to know nothing about it, the doctor
was well aware of the existence of this practice peculiar to his school,
but he never thought of interfering with the boys. It was a cardinal
principle with him that the boys should be left pretty much to
themselves at recess. So long as they did their duty during the school
hours, they could do as they pleased during the play hour. Moreover, he
was a great admirer of manliness in his boys. He would have been glad to
find in everyone of them the stoical indifference to pain of the
traditional Indian. Consequently, fair stand-up fights were winked at,
and anything like tattling or tale-bearing sternly discouraged. He had
an original method of expressing his disapprobation of the latter, which
will be illustrated further on. Holding those views, therefore, he was
not likely to put his veto upon "hoisting."

As the days went by, Bert rapidly mastered the ways of the school, and
made many friends among his schoolmates. He found the lessons a good
deal harder than they had been at Mr. Garrison's. And not only so, but
the method of hearing them was so thorough that it was next to
impossible for a boy who had come ill-prepared to escape detection. Dr.
Johnston did not simply hear the lesson; he examined his scholars upon
it, and nothing short of full acquaintance with it would content him. He
had an original system of keeping the school record, which puzzled Bert
very much, and took him a good while to understand.

On the doctor's desk lay a large book, something like a business ledger.
One page was devoted to each day. At the left side of the page was the
column containing the boys' names, arranged in order of seniority, the
boy who had been longest in the school being at the head, and the last
new boy at the foot. Each boy had a line to himself, running out to the
end of the page, and these parallel lines were crossed by vertical ones,
ruled from the top to the bottom of the page, and having at the top the
names of all the different classes; so that the page when ready for its
entries resembled very much a checker board, only that the squares were
very small, and exceedingly numerous. Just how these squares, thus
standing opposite each name, should be filled, depended upon the
behaviour of the owner of that name, and his knowledge of his lessons.

If Bert, for instance, recited his grammar lesson without a slip, the
letter B--standing for _bene_, well--was put in the grammar column. If
he made one mistake, the entry was V B, _vix bene_--scarcely well; if
two mistakes, Med, _mediocriter_--middling; and if three, M,
_male_--badly, equivalent to not knowing it at all. The same system
prevailed for all the lessons, and in a modified form for the behaviour
or deportment also. As regards behaviour, the arrangement was one bad
mark for each offence, the first constituting a V B, the second a Med,
the third an M, and the fourth a P, the most ominous letter of all,
standing, as it did, for _pessime_--as bad as possible--and one might
also say for punishment also; as whoever got a P thereby earned a
whipping with that long strap, concerning which Bert had heard such
alarming stories.

It will be seen that, by following out the line upon which each boy's
name stood, his complete record as a scholar could be seen, and upon
this record the doctor based the award of prizes at the close of the
term. For he was a firm believer in the benefits of prize-giving, and
every half-year, on the day before the holidays, a bookcase full of fine
books, each duly inscribed, was distributed among those who had come out
at the head in the different classes, or distinguished themselves by
constant good behaviour.

Once that Bert fully understood the purpose of this daily record, and
the principle upon which the prize-giving was based, he determined to be
among the prize winners at the end of the term. His ambition was fired
by what the older boys told him of the beautiful books awarded, and the
honour it was to get one of them. He knew that he could not please his
father or mother better than by being on the prize list, and so he
applied himself to his lessons with a vigour and fidelity that soon
brought him to the notice of the observant doctor.

"I am glad to see you taking so much interest in your work," said he one
morning, pausing, in his round of inspection, to lay his hand kindly
upon Bert's shoulder as the latter bent over his slate, working out a
problem in proportion. "A good beginning is a very important thing."

Bert blushed to the roots of his hair at this unexpected and, indeed,
unusual compliment from the grim master, who, before the boy could
frame any reply, passed out of hearing.

"We'll do our best, won't we, Shorty?" said Bert, turning to his friend
beside him.

"I suppose so," answered Frank, in rather a doubtful tone. "But your
best will be a good deal better than mine. The lessons are just awful
hard; it's no use talking."

"They are hard, Shorty, and no mistake. But you'll get used to them all
right," rejoined Bert, cheerfully.

"I guess I'll get used to being kept in and getting whipped, first,"
grumbled Frank.

"Not a bit of it," Bert insisted. "You just stick at them and you'll
come out all right."

The fact of the matter was, that poor Frank did find the lessons a
little more than he could manage, and there were a good many more "V
B's" and "Med's" opposite his name than "B's." He was a restless sort of
a chap, moreover, and noisy in his movements, thus often causing Mr.
Snelling to look at him, and call out sharply:

"Bowser, what are you doing there?" And Frank would instantly reply, in
a tone of indignant innocence:

"Nothing, sir."

Whereupon Mr. Snelling would turn to Dr. Johnston, with the request:

"Will you please put a mark to Bowser for doing nothing, sir?" And down
would go the black mark against poor Bowser, who, often as this
happened, seemed unable ever to learn to avoid that fatal reply:
"Nothing, sir."



CHAPTER XVIII.

SCHOOL EXPERIENCES.


By the time autumn had made way for winter, Bert felt thoroughly at home
at Dr. Johnston's, and was just about as happy a boy as attended this
renowned institution. In spite of the profound awe the doctor inspired,
he ventured to cherish toward him a feeling of love as well as of
respect; and although Mr. Snelling did not exactly inspire awe, nor even
much respect, he managed to like him not a little also. As for the
boys--well, there were all sorts and conditions of them; good, bad, and
indifferent; boys who thought it very fine and manly to smoke, and
swear, and swap improper stories, and boys who seemed as if they would
have been more appropriately dressed in girls' clothes, so lacking were
they in true manly qualities; while between these two extremes came in
the great majority, among whom Bert easily found plenty of bright,
wholesome companions.

There were some odd chaps at the school, with whose peculiarities Bert
would amuse the home circle very much, as he described them in his own
graphic way. There was Bob Mackasey, called by his companions, "Taffy
the Welshman," because he applied the money given him by his mother
every morning to get some lunch with, to the purchase of taffy; which
toothsome product he easily bartered off for more sandwiches and cakes
than could have been bought for ten cents, thus filling his own stomach
at a very slight cost to his far-seeing mother.

A big fat fellow in knickerbockers, by name Harry Rawdon, the son of an
officer in the English army, had attained a peculiar kind of notoriety
in the school, by catching flies and bottling them.

Then there was Larry Saunders, the dandy of the school, although
undoubtedly one of the very plainest boys in it, who kept a tiny square
of looking-glass in his desk, and would carefully arrange his toilet
before leaving the school in the afternoon, to saunter up and down the
principal street of the city, doing his best to be captivating.

Two hot-tempered, pugnacious chaps, by name Bob Morley and Fred Short,
afforded great amusement by the ease with which they could be set at
punching one another. It was only necessary for some one to take Bob
Morley aside and whisper meaningly that Fred Short had been calling him
names behind his back, or something of that sort equally aggravating, to
put him in fighting humour. Forthwith, he would challenge Master Fred in
the orthodox way--that is, he would take up a chip, spit on it, and toss
it over his shoulder. Without a moment's hesitation, Fred would accept
the challenge, and then the two would be at it, hammer and tongs,
fighting vigorously until they were separated by the originators of the
mischief, when they thought they had had enough of it. They were very
evenly matched, and as a matter of fact did not do one another much
harm; but the joke of the thing was that they never seemed to suspect
how they were being made tools of by the other boys, who always enjoyed
these duels immensely.

Another character, and a very lovable one this time, was a nephew of the
doctor's, Will Johnston by name, but universally called "Teter," an odd
nickname, the reason of which he did not seem to understand himself.
This Teter was one of those good-natured, obliging, reckless,
happy-go-lucky individuals who never fail to win the love of boys. His
generosity was equalled only by his improvidence, and both were
surpassed by his good luck.

Bert conceived a great admiration for Teter Johnston. His undaunted
courage, as exhibited in snowball fights, when, with only a handful of
followers he would charge upon the rest of the school, and generally put
them to flight; his reckless enterprise and amazing luck at marbles and
other games; his constant championing of the small boys when tormented
by the larger ones, more than one bully having had a tremendous
thrashing at his hands;--these were very shining qualities in Bert's
eyes, and they fascinated him so, that if "fagging" had been permitted
at Dr. Johnston's, Bert would have deemed it not a hardship, but an
honour, to have been Teter's "fag."

In strong contrast to his admiration for Teter Johnston was his
antipathy to Rod Graham. Rod was both a sneak and a bully. It was in his
character as a sneak that he showed himself to Bert first, making
profuse demonstrations of goodwill, and doing his best to ingratiate
himself with him, because from his well-to-do appearance he judged that
he would be a good subject from whom to beg lunch, or borrow marbles,
and so on. But Bert instinctively disliked Rod, and avoided him to the
best of his ability. Then Rod revealed the other side of his nature.
From a sneak he turned into a bully, and lost no opportunity of teasing
and tormenting Bert, who, being much smaller than he, felt compelled to
submit, although there were times when he was driven almost to
desperation. It was not so much by open violence as by underhanded
trickery that Rod vented his spite, and this made it all the harder for
Bert, who, although he was never in any doubt as to the identity of the
person that stole his lunch, poured ink over his copy-book, scratched
his slate with a bit of jagged glass, tore the tails off his glengarry,
and filled the pockets of his overcoat with snow, still saw no way of
putting a stop to this tormenting other than by thrashing Rod, and this
he did not feel equal to doing. Upon this last point, however, he
changed his mind subsequently, thanks to the influence of his friend
Teter Johnston, and the result was altogether satisfactory as will be
shown in due time.

Bert's feelings toward Dr. Johnston himself were, as has been already
stated, of a mixed nature. At first, he was simply afraid of him, but
little by little a gentler feeling crept into his heart. Yet, there was
no doubt, the doctor was far more likely to inspire fear than love. He
wielded his authority with an impartial, unsparing hand. No allowance
was ever made for hesitancy or nervousness on the part of the scholar
when reciting his lesson, nor for ebullitions of boyish spirits when
sitting at the desk. "Everything must be done correctly, and in order,"
was the motto of his rule. The whippings he administered were about as
impressive a mode of school punishment as could be desired. The unhappy
boy who had behaved so ill, or missed so many lessons as to deserve one,
heard the awful words, "Stand upon the floor for punishment," uttered in
the doctor's sternest tones. Trembling in every limb, and feeling cold
shivers running up and down his back, while his face flushed fiery red,
or paled to ashy white by turns, the culprit would reluctantly leave his
seat, and take his stand in the centre aisle, with the eyes of the whole
school upon him variously expressing pity, compassion, or perhaps
unsympathetic ridicule.

After he had stood there some time, for be it known this exposure was
an essential part of the punishment, he would see the doctor slowly rise
from his seat, draw forth from its hiding-place the long black strap
that had for so many years been his sceptre, and then come down toward
him with slow, stately steps. Stopping just in front of him, the order
would be issued: "Hold out your hand." Quivering with apprehension, the
boy would extend his hand but half way, keeping his elbow fast at his
side. But the doctor would not be thus partially obeyed. "Hold _out_
your hand, sir!" he would thunder; and out would go the arm to its
fullest length, and with a sharp swish through the air, down would come
the strap, covering the hand from the wrist to finger tip, and sending a
thrill of agony through every nerve in the body. Ten, twenty, thirty, or
in extreme cases, even forty such stripes would be administered, some
boys taking them as fast as the doctor could strike, so that the torture
might soon be over, and others pausing between each blow, to rub their
stinging palms together, and bedew them with their tears.

It was a terrible ordeal, no doubt, and one that would hardly be
approved of to-day, the publicity uniting with the severity to make it a
cruel strain upon a boy's nervous system. In all the years that Bert
spent at Dr. Johnston's school he was called upon to endure it only
once, but that once sufficed. The way it came about was this:

Bert one morning happened to be in a more than usually frolicsome mood,
and was making pellets out of the soft part of the rolls he had brought
for lunch, and throwing them about. In trying to hit a boy who sat
between him and Mr. Snelling's desk, he somehow or other miscalculated
his aim, and to his horror, the sticky pellet flew straight at the bald
spot on top of Mr. Snelling's head, as the latter bent his shortsighted
eyes over a book before him, hitting it in the centre, and staying there
in token of its success.

With angry face, Mr. Snelling sprang to his feet, and brushing the
unlucky pellet from his shiny pate, called out so fiercely as to attract
the doctor's attention:

"Who threw that at me?"

The few boys who were in the secret looked very hard at their books,
while those who were not glanced up in surprise, and tried to discover
the cause of Mr. Snelling's excitement.

"Who threw that at me?" demanded Mr. Snelling, again.

Bert, who had at first been so appalled by what he had done that his
tongue refused to act, was about to call out "It was I, sir," when Rod
Graham was seen to hold up his hand, and on Mr. Snelling turning
inquiringly toward him, Rod, in a low, sneaking voice, said:

"It was Lloyd, sir; I saw him do it."

Mr. Snelling immediately called out, "Lloyd, come to my desk;" and
Bert, feeling hot and cold by turns, went up to the desk, and stood
before it, the picture of penitence.

"Did you throw that pellet?" asked Mr. Snelling, in indignant tones.

"Yes, sir; but I didn't mean to hit you, sir," answered Bert, meekly.

"I know nothing about that," answered Mr. Snelling, too much excited to
listen to any defence. "Follow me to Dr. Johnston."

Hastening into the presence of the stern headmaster, Mr. Snelling stated
what had happened, and pointed to the trembling Bert as the culprit.

"How do you know he is the offender, Mr. Snelling?" inquired the doctor,
gravely.

"Graham said he saw him do it, sir, and Lloyd confesses it himself,"
replied Mr. Snelling.

"Oh! indeed--that is sufficient. Leave Lloyd with me." And thus
dismissed, Mr. Snelling returned to his desk.

"Lloyd, I am sorry about this. You must stand upon the floor for
punishment," said the doctor, turning to Bert; and Bert, chilled to the
heart, took his place upon the spot where he had so often pitied other
boys for being.

Presently, drawing out his strap, the doctor came toward him:

"Hold out your hand, sir."

Bert promptly extended his right hand to the full. Swish! and down came
the cruel strap upon it, inflicting a burning smart, as though it were a
red-hot iron, and sending a thrill of agony through every nerve. Swish!
And the left hand was set on fire. Swish! Swish! right and left; right
and left, until twenty stripes had been administered; and then, turning
on his heel, the doctor walked solemnly back to his desk.

During all this torture not a sound had escaped Bert. He felt that the
doctor could not do otherwise than punish him, and he determined to bear
the punishment bravely; so closing his lips tightly, and summoning all
his resolution, he held out one hand after the other, taking the blows
as fast as the doctor could give them. But when the ordeal was over he
hurried to his seat, and burying his head in his burning hands, burst
into a passion of tears--for he could control himself no longer.

A few minutes later his attention was aroused by hearing the doctor call
out, in a loud, stern voice:

"Graham, come forward."

Graham got out of his seat, and in a half-frightened way, slunk up to
the doctor's desk.

"I understand, Graham," said the doctor, with his grimmest expression,
"that you volunteered to tell Mr. Snelling who it was that threw that
pellet. You know, or ought to know, the rule of this school as to
informers. You will receive the same punishment that I have just given
Lloyd. Stand upon the floor."

Completely taken aback at this unexpected turn in affairs, Rod Graham
mechanically took up his position, looking the very picture of abject
misery. The doctor kept him there for full half-an-hour, and then
administered twenty stripes, with an unction that showed, clearly
enough, his profound contempt for that most contemptible of beings, an
informer.

Now, Bert was not an angel, but simply a boy--a very good boy, in many
respects, no doubt, but a boy, notwithstanding. It would, therefore, be
doing him an injustice to deny that he took a certain delight in seeing
his tormentor receive so sound a whipping, and that it brought, at
least, a temporary balm to his own wounded feelings. But the wound was
altogether too deep to be cured by this, or by Frank Bowser's heartfelt
sympathy, or even by the praise of his schoolmates, many of whom came up
to him at recess and told him he was "a brick," "a daisy," and so forth,
because he had taken a whipping without crying.

All this could not hide from him what he felt to be the disgrace of the
thing. So ashamed was he of himself that he could hardly find courage to
tell them about it at home; and although, easily appreciating the whole
situation, Mr. Lloyd had only words of cheer for him, and none of
condemnation, Bert still took it so much to heart that the following
Sunday he pleaded hard to be allowed to remain away from the Sunday
school, as he did not want to face Mr. Silver and his classmates so
soon. But his father wisely would not suffer this, and so, much against
his will, he went to school as usual, where, however, he felt very ill
at ease until the session was over, when he had a long talk with Mr.
Silver, and told him the whole story.

This relieved his mind very much. He felt as if he were square with the
world again, and he went back to Dr. Johnston's far lighter in heart on
Monday morning than he had left it on Friday afternoon. He had learned a
lesson, too, that needed no reteaching throughout the remainder of his
school days. That was the first and last time Bert Lloyd stood upon the
floor for punishment.



CHAPTER XIX.

VICTORY AND DEFEAT.


As may be easily imagined, Dr. Johnston's severe punishment of Rod
Graham for having taken upon himself the part of an informer did not
tend to make that young gentleman any more pleasant in his bearing
toward Bert. By some process of reasoning, intelligible only to himself,
he held Bert accountable for the whipping he had received, and lost no
opportunity of wreaking his vengeance upon him. Every now and then
during that winter Bert had bitter proof of his enemy's unrelenting
hate. It seemed as though there were no limit to Rod's ingenuity in
devising ways of annoying him, and many a hot tear did he succeed in
wringing from him.

As spring drew near, this persecution grew more and more intolerable,
and, without Bert himself being fully conscious of it, a crisis was
inevitable. This crisis came sooner, perhaps, than either Bert or Rod
anticipated. One bright spring morning, as Bert, with satchel strapped
upon his back, approached the school, feeling in high spirits, and
looking the very picture of a sturdy schoolboy, Rod, who had been in
hiding behind a porch, sprang out upon him suddenly, snatched the cap
off his head, and, with a shout of, "Fetch it, doggy; go, fetch it,"
flung it into the middle of the street, that was now little better than
a river of mud.

This proved to be the last straw upon the back of Bert's endurance, and
it broke it. With a quickness that gave his tormentor no chance to dodge
or defend himself, he doubled up his fist, shut his eyes tight, and,
rushing at him, struck out with all his might. The blow could hardly
have been more effective if Bert had been an expert in boxing, for his
fist landed full on Rod's left eye, sending him staggering backward
several paces, with his hands clapped over the injured optic. But he
soon recovered himself, and, with clenched fists, was rushing upon Bert,
to pummel him fiercely, when Teter Johnston, who had just come up,
sprang in between, and, catching Rod's uplifted arm, cried out, sternly:

"Stop, now! none of that! This must be a fair fight, and you shan't
begin until Lloyd is ready."

Then turning to Bert, while Rod, who had too much respect for Teter's
prowess not to obey him, gave way with a malignant scowl, Teter said,
encouragingly:

"You must fight him, Bert. It's the only way to settle him. You'll
thrash him all right enough. I'll see you through."

Bert had a good many doubts about his thrashing "him all right enough,"
but he was still too angry to think calmly, and, moreover, he was not a
little elated at the surprising success of his first blow, which,
although struck at a venture, had gone so straight to the mark, and so
he nodded his head in assent.

"Very well, then, it's a fight," said Teter to Rod. "In the yard at the
noon recess. You bring your second, Graham; I'll look after Bert
myself."

The words were hardly uttered when the bell rung, and the boys had all
to hurry to their places in the schoolroom.

That morning was one of the most miserable poor Bert had ever spent. He
was a prey to the most diverse feelings, and it was with the utmost
difficulty that he could bring his mind to bear sufficiently upon his
lessons to keep his place in the classes. In the first place, he really
dreaded the fight with Rod Graham. Graham was older, taller, and much
more experienced in such affairs, and Bert could see no reason why he
should hope for a victory over him. It was all well enough for dear old
Frank to say from time to time, as he noticed Bert's depression:

"Keep up your spirit, Bert; you'll thrash him sure. And if you don't, I
will, as sure as I'm alive."

But that did not make the matter any clearer, for Bert would rather not
get a thrashing at Rod's hands, even though Rod should get one at
Frank's hands shortly after.

Then, again, he did not feel at all certain that his father and mother
would approve of his having a fight with one of his schoolmates. They
disliked anything of the kind, he knew well enough, and perhaps they
would not be willing to make an exception in this case. He wished very
much he could ask their permission, but that, of course, was out of the
question. The mere mention of such a thing would assuredly raise a howl
of derision from the other boys, and even Teter Johnston would no doubt
ask contemptuously if "he was going to back out of it in that way."

No, no; he must take the chances of his parents' approval, and
likewise--and here came in the third difficulty--of Dr. Johnston's also,
for he could not help wondering what the doctor would think when he
heard of it, as he was certain to do.

Thus perplexed and bewildered, the morning dragged slowly along for
Bert, who would one moment be wishing that recess time could be
postponed indefinitely, and the next, impatient for its arrival.

At length twelve o'clock struck, and the boys, who were by this time all
fully aware of what was in the wind, crowded out into the yard and
quickly formed a ring in the corner farthest away from the schoolroom.
Into this ring presently stepped Rod Graham, looking very jaunty and
defiant, supported by Harry Rawdon, the fly catcher, the one friend he
had in the school. A moment later came Bert Lloyd, pale but determined,
with Teter and Frank on either side of him, Frank wearing an expression
that said as plainly as possible:

"Whip my friend Bert, if you dare."

It is neither necessary nor expedient to go into the details of the
fight, which did not last very long. Acting on Teter's sage advice, Bert
made no attempt to defend himself, but rushing into close quarters at
once, sent in swinging blows with right and left hands alternately,
striking Rod upon the face and chest, while the latter's blows fell
principally upon his forehead; until finally, in the fourth round,
Graham, whose face had suffered severely, gave up the contest, and
covering his head, with his hands, ran away from Bert, who was too tired
to pursue him.

Great was the cheering at this conclusive result; and Bert, panting,
perspiring, and exhausted, found himself the centre of a noisy throng of
his schoolmates, who wrung his hand, clapped him upon the back, called
him all sorts of names that were complimentary, and, in fact, gave him a
regular ovation. After he had gone to the tap and bathed his hot face,
Bert was very much pleased to find that the brunt of the battle had
fallen upon his forehead, and that, consequently, he would hardly be
marked at all. To be sure, when he tried to put his cap on, he
discovered that it would be necessary to wear it very much on the back
of his head, but he felt like doing that, anyway, so it didn't matter.

He would have liked to shake hands with Rod, and make it all up, but Rod
was not to be found. After fleeing from his opponent, he had snatched up
his coat, and, deserted even by Rawdon; who was disgusted at his running
away, he had gone out into the street, and did not appear again for the
rest of the day.

His victory worked a great change in Bert's feelings. He was no longer
troubled about what his parents would think of the fight. He felt sure
they would applaud him, now that he had come out of it with banners
flying, so to speak. And he was not far from right, either. Mrs. Lloyd,
it is true, was a good deal shocked at first, and Mr. Lloyd questioned
him very closely; but when they heard the whole story, much of which,
indeed, was already familiar to them, they both agreed that under the
circumstances Bert could not have acted otherwise, without placing
himself in a false position.

"At the same time, Bert, dear," said his father, laying his hand upon
his shoulder, "as it is your first, so I hope it will be your last
fight. You have established your reputation for courage now. You can
sustain it in other ways than by your fists."

Dr. Johnston's method of showing that he was fully cognisant of the
event was highly characteristic. The next morning when Bert, with
swollen forehead, and Rod, with blackened eyes, came before him in the
same class, he said, with one of his sardonic smiles:

"Ah, Graham, I see Lloyd has been writing his autograph on you. Well,
let that be an end of it. Shake hands with one another."

Bert immediately put out his hand and grasped Rod's, which was but half
extended.

"Very good," said the doctor. "We will now proceed with the lesson."

One of the most interested and excited spectators of the fight had been
Dick Wilding, a boy who will require a few words of description. He was
the son of one of the merchant princes of the city, and was accustomed
to everything that the highest social station and abundant wealth could
procure. He was a handsome young fellow, and although thoroughly spoiled
and selfish, was not without his good points, a lavish generosity being
the most noteworthy. This, of course, supplemented by his reckless
daring as regards all schoolboy feats, and natural aptitude for
schoolboy sports, made him very popular at the school, and he had a
large following. Previous to Bert's decisive victory over Rod Graham, he
had not shown any particular interest in him, beyond committing himself
to the opinion that he was a "regular brick" on the occasion of the
hoisting, and again, when Bert bore his whipping so manfully. But since
the fight, he had exhibited a strong desire to have Bert join the circle
of his companions, and to this end cultivated his society in a very
marked way.

Now, this same Dick Wilding had been in Mrs. Lloyd's mind when she had
hesitated about Bert's going to Dr. Johnston's. She knew well what his
bringing up had been, and had heard several stories about him, which
made her dread his being a companion for Bert. She had accordingly
spoken to Bert about Dick, and while taking care not to be too pointed,
had made it clear that she did not want them to be intimate. This was
when Bert first went to the school, and as there had seemed no prospect
of anything more than a mere acquaintance springing up between the two
boys, nothing had been said on the subject for some time, so that it was
not fresh in his mind when Dick, somewhat to his surprise, showed such a
desire for his society.

Dick's latest enterprise was the organisation of a cricket club, into
which he was putting a great deal of energy. As the bats and balls and
other necessary articles were to be paid for out of his own pocket, he
found no difficulty in getting recruits, and the list of members was
fast filling up. Bert had heard a good deal about this club, and would
have liked very much to belong to it, but as nobody belonged except
those who had been invited by Dick, his prospects did not seem very
bright. Great then was his delight when one day at recess, Dick came up
to him and said in his most winning way:

"Say, Bert, don't you want to join my cricket club? I'd like to have you
in."

Bert did not take long to answer.

"And I'd like to join ever so much," he replied, in great glee.

"All right, then; consider yourself a member, and come round to the
field behind our house this afternoon. We practise there every day."

Bert was fairly dancing with joy. Yet he did not forget his friend
Frank. If Frank were not a member of the club, too, half the pleasure of
it would be gone. So before Dick went off, he ventured to say:

"Frank Bowser would like to belong, too, I know. Won't you ask him?"

"Certainly. No objection at all," replied Dick, in an off-hand way.
"Bring him along with you this afternoon."

With beaming face, Bert rushed over to where Frank was busy playing
marbles, and drawing him aside, shouted rather than whispered in his
ear:

"I've got something splendid to tell you. Dick Wilding has asked us both
to join his cricket club, and we're to go to his field this very
afternoon."

"You don't say so!" exclaimed Frank, his face now beaming as brightly as
Bert's. "Isn't that just splendid! I wanted to belong to that club ever
so much, but was afraid Dick wouldn't ask me."

They had a capital game of cricket that afternoon in the Wilding field,
which made a very good ground indeed, and not only that afternoon, but
for many afternoons as spring passed into summer and the days grew
longer and warmer. Bert told them at home about the club, but somehow
omitted to mention the prominent part Dick Wilding played in it. In
fact, he never mentioned his name at all, nor that it was his father's
field in which the club met. This was the first step in a path of wrong,
the taking of which was soon to lead to serious consequences.

His reason for suppressing Dick Wilding's name was plain enough. He knew
that in all probability it would put an end to his connection with the
club. Now this club had every attraction for a boy like Bert that such
an organisation could possibly possess. It was select and exclusive, for
none could belong except those who were invited by Dick. The field was a
lovely place to play in, and they had it all to themselves. The balls
and bats and stumps were first-class, a fine set of cricket gear having
been one of Dick's Christmas presents; and, finally, Dick was always
bringing out to the players iced lemonade, or ginger beer, or spruce
beer, or something of the kind, which was wonderfully welcome to them
when hot and tired and thirsty.

With such strong arguments as these, Bert did not find it difficult to
quiet his conscience when it troubled him, as it did now and then, and
he continued to be a great deal in Dick Wilding's society until
something happened which caused him to bitterly regret that he had not
heeded the inward monitor, and kept away from the associations his wise
mother wished him to avoid.

Mrs. Lloyd had good reason for dreading Dick Wilding's companionship for
her boy, as Dick could hardly fail to do Bert harm, while the chances of
Bert doing him any good were very small, since he was quite a year older
and well set in his own ways. Dick's parents were thorough people of the
world. Their religion consisted in occupying a velvet-cushioned pew in a
fashionable church on Sunday morning, and doing as they pleased the rest
of the day. They made no attempt to teach their son anything more than
good manners, taking it quite for granted that the other virtues would
spring up of themselves. Dick was not much to be blamed, therefore, if
he had rather hazy views about right and wrong. He had not really an
evil nature, but he had a very easy conscience, and the motto by which
he shaped his conduct might well have been: "Get your own way. Get it
honestly, if you can. But--get it."

Now, this cricket club had taken a great hold upon his fancy, and his
whole heart was wrapped up in it. He was captain, of course, and all the
other boys obeyed him implicitly. Their docility ministered to his
pride, and he showed his appreciation by fairly showering his bounty
upon them. There positively seemed no end to his pocket money. All sorts
of expenses were indulged in. A fine tent was set up for the boys to
put their hats and coats in and sit under when not playing, the
ginger-beer man had orders to call round every afternoon and leave a
dozen bottles of his refreshing beverage, and more than once the club,
instead of playing, adjourned, at Dick's invitation, to an ice-cream
saloon, and had a regular feast of ice-cream. When some indiscreet
companion would express his astonishment at the length of Dick's purse,
the latter would answer, carelessly:

"Plenty of funds. Father, and mother, and uncle all give me money.
There's lots more where this came from," jingling a handful of silver as
he spoke. So, indeed, there was; but had it any business to be in Master
Dick's pocket?

This delightful state of affairs went on for some weeks, no one enjoying
it more than Bert, and then came a revelation that broke upon the boys
like a thunder-clap out of a clear sky.

One evening, Mr. Wilding came over to see Mr. Lloyd, looking very grave
and troubled. They had a long talk together in Mr. Lloyd's study, and
when he went away Mr. Lloyd looked as grave and troubled as his visitor.
After showing Mr. Wilding out, he called his wife into the library, and
communicated to her what he had just heard, and it must have been
sorrowful news, for Mrs. Lloyd's face bore unmistakable signs of tears,
when presently she went out for Bert, who was hard at work upon his
lessons in the dining-room.

The moment Bert entered the room he saw that something was the matter.
The faces of his father and mother were very sorrowful, and an
indefinable feeling of apprehension took hold of him. He was not long
left in uncertainty as to the cause of the trouble.

"Bert," said his father, gravely, "have you seen much of Dick Wilding
lately?"

Bert blushed, and hesitated a moment, and then answered:

"Yes, father; a good deal. He's the captain of our cricket club, you
know."

"I did not know until now that you have told me, Bert," said Mr. Lloyd,
looking meaningly at him. "You never told me before, did you?"

The colour deepened on Bert's face.

"No, father; I don't think I did," he murmured.

"Had you any reason for saying nothing about him, Bert? Were you afraid
we would not let you belong to the club if we knew that Dick Wilding was
its captain?" asked Mr. Lloyd.

Bert made no reply, but his head drooped low upon his breast, and his
hands playing nervously with the buttons of his coat told the whole
story more plainly than words could have done. Mr. Lloyd sighed deeply
and looked at his wife as though to say: "There's no doubt about it; our
boy has been deceiving us," while Mrs. Lloyd's eyes once more filled
with tears, which she turned away to hide.

After a pause, during which Bert seemed to hear the beating of his own
heart as distinctly as the ticking of the big clock upon the mantel, Mr.
Lloyd said, in tones that showed deep feeling:

"We would have been sorry enough to find out that our boy had been
deceiving us, but what shall we say at finding out that he has been a
sharer in pleasures purchased with stolen money?"

Bert looked up in surprise. Stolen money! What could his father mean?
Mr. Lloyd understood the movement, and anticipated the unasked question.

"Yes, Bert; stolen money. The beer, the candy, and the ice cream, which
Dick Wilding lavished upon you so freely, were paid for with money
stolen from his mother's money drawer. He found a key which fitted the
lock, and has taken out, no one knows just how much money; and you have
been sharing in what that stolen money purchased."

Bert was fairly stunned. Dick Wilding a thief! And he a sharer in the
proceeds of his guilt! He felt as though he must run and hide himself.
That Dick should do wrong was not entirely a surprise to him, but that
his sin in being a companion of Dick's on the sly should be found out in
this way, this it was which cut him to the heart. Without a word of
excuse to offer, he sat there, self-condemned and speechless. The
silence of the room was appalling. He could not bear it any longer.
Springing from his chair, he rushed across the room, threw himself on
his knees before his mother, and putting his head in her lap, burst into
a paroxysm of tears, sobbing as though his heart would break.

"Poor Bert, poor Bert!" murmured his mother, tenderly, passing her hand
softly over the curly head in her lap.

Mr. Lloyd was deeply moved, and put his hand up to his eyes to conceal
the tears fast welling from them. For some minutes the quiet of the room
was broken only by Bert's sobs, and the steady ticking of the clock upon
the mantelpiece.

Mr. Lloyd was the first to speak.

"You had better get up and go to your room, Bert. We both know how sorry
you are, and we forgive you for having so disobeyed us. But we are not
the only ones of whom you must ask forgiveness. Go to your knees, Bert,
and ask God to forgive you."

Bert rose slowly to his feet, and, not venturing to look either his
father or mother in the face, was going out of the door, when his father
called him back.

"Just one word more, Bert. It is not long since you won a brave fight,
and now you have been sadly defeated by a far worse enemy than Rod
Graham. You can, in your own strength, overcome human foes, but only by
Divine strength can you overcome the tempter that has led you astray
this time. Pray for this strength, Bert, for it is the kind the Bible
means when it says, 'Quit you like men, be strong.'"

And with a look of deep affection, Mr. Lloyd let Bert go from him.



CHAPTER XX.

A NARROW ESCAPE.


So keenly did Bert feel his disgrace, that it was some time before he
regained his wonted spirits; and his continued depression gave his
mother no little concern, so that she took every way of showing to him
that her confidence in him was unimpaired, and that she asked no further
proof of his penitence than he had already given. But Bert's sensitive
nature had received a shock from which it did not readily recover. From
his earliest days he had been peculiarly free from the desire to take
what did not belong to him; and as he grew older, this had developed
into a positive aversion to anything that savoured of stealing in the
slightest degree. He never could see any fun in "hooking" another boy's
lunch, as so many others did, and nothing could induce him to join in
one of the numerous expeditions organised to raid sundry unguarded
orchards in the outskirts of the city.

His firmness upon this point led to a curious scene one afternoon.
School was just out, and a group of the boys, among whom were Bert,
and, of course, Frank Bowser, was discussing what they should do with
themselves, when Ned Ross proposed that they should go out to the
Hosterman orchard, and see if they could not get some apples. A chorus
of approval came from all but Bert, who immediately turned away and made
as though he would go home.

"Hallo! Bert," cried Ned Ross, "aren't you coming?"

"No," replied Bert, very decidedly. "I'm not."

"Why not?" inquired Ned. "What's the matter?"

"Those are not our apples, Ned, and we've got no right to touch 'em,"
answered Bert.

"Bosh and nonsense!" exclaimed Ned. "All the boys take them, and nobody
ever hinders them. Come along."

"No," said Bert, "I can't."

"Can't? Why can't you?" persisted Ned, who was rapidly losing his
temper.

Bert hesitated a moment, and the colour mounted high in his cheeks. Then
he spoke out his reason bravely:

"Because I'm a Christian, Ned; and it would not be right for me to do
it."

"A Christian?" sneered Ned. "You'd be nearer the truth if you said a
coward."

The words had hardly left his lips before Frank Bowser was standing
before him, shaking in his face a fist that was not to be regarded
lightly.

"Say that again," cried Frank, wrathfully, "and I'll knock you down!"

Ned looked at Frank's face, and then at his fist. There was no mistaking
the purpose of either, and as Frank was fully his match, if not more, he
thought it prudent to say nothing more than: "Bah! Come on, fellows. We
can get along without him."

The group moved off; but Bert was not the only one who stayed behind.
Frank stayed too; and so did Ernest Linton. And these three sought their
amusement in another direction.

That scene very vividly impressed Bert, and over and over again he
thought to himself: "What will the boys who heard me refuse to go to the
orchard, because I am a Christian, think of me when they hear that I
have been helping to spend stolen money?"

This was the thought that troubled him most, but it was not the only
one. He felt that he could not be at ease with his beloved Sunday-school
teacher again, until he had made a full confession to him. But, oh! this
did seem so hard to do! Several Sundays passed without his being able to
make up his mind to do it. At length he determined to put it off no
longer, and one Sunday afternoon, lingering behind after the school had
been dismissed, he poured the whole story into Mr. Silver's sympathetic
ear.

Mr. Silver was evidently moved to the heart, as Bert, without sparing
himself, told of his disobedience, his concealment, and the
consequences that followed; and he had many a wise and tender word for
the boy, whose confidence in him made him proud. From that day a
peculiar fondness existed between the two, and Mr. Silver was inspired
to increased fidelity and effort in his work because of the knowledge
that one at least of his boys looked upon him with such affection and
confidence.

Once that summer had fairly come to stay, the wharves of the city became
full of fascination for the boys, and every afternoon they trooped
thither to fish for perch and tommy cods; to board the vessels lying in
their berths, and out-do one another in feats of rigging climbing; to
play glorious games of "hide-and-seek," and "I spy," in the great
cavernous warehouses, and when tired to gather around some idle sailor,
and have him stir their imagination with marvellous stories of the sea.

For none had the wharves more attraction than for Bert and Frank, and
although Mrs. Lloyd would not allow the former to go down Water Street,
where he would be far from home, she did not object to his spending an
afternoon now and then on a wharf not far from their own house. So
thither the two friends repaired at every opportunity, and fine fun they
had, dropping their well-baited hooks into the clear green water, to
catch eager perch, or watching the hardworking sailors dragging huge
casks of molasses out of dark and grimy holds, and rolling them up the
wharf to be stored in the vast cool warehouses, or running risks of
being pickled themselves, as they followed the fish-curers in their work
of preparing the salt herring or mackerel for their journey to the hot
West Indies. There never was any lack of employment, for eyes, or hands,
or feet, on that busy wharf, and the boys felt very proud when they were
permitted to join the workers sometimes and do their little best, which
was all the more enjoyable because they could stop whenever they liked,
and hadn't to work all day as the others did.

Nor were these the only attractions. The principal business done at this
wharf was with the West Indies, and no vessel thought of coming back
from that region of fruits without a goodly store of oranges, bananas,
and pine-apples, some of which, if the boys were not too troublesome,
and the captain had made a good voyage, were sure to find their way into
very appreciative mouths. Bert's frank, bright manner, and plucky
spirit, made him a great favourite with the captains, and many a time
was he sent home with a big juicy pine, or an armful of great golden
oranges.

One day, when Bert and Frank went down to the wharf, they found a
strange-looking vessel made fast to the piles that filled them with
curiosity. She was a barquentine, and was sparred, and rigged, and
painted in a rather unusual way, the explanation of it all being that
she was a Spanish vessel, of an old-fashioned type. Quite in keeping
with the appearance of the vessel was the appearance of the crew. They
were nearly all Lascars, and with their tawny skins, flashing eyes, jet
black hair, and gold-ringed ears, seemed to fit very well the
description of the pirates, whose dreadful deeds, as graphically
described in sundry books, had given the boys many a delicious thrill of
horror. This resemblance caused them to look upon the foreigners with
some little fear at first, but their curiosity soon overcame all
considerations of prudence, and after hanging about for a while, they
bashfully accepted the invitation extended them by a swarthy sailor,
whose words were unintelligible, but whose meaning was unmistakable.

On board the _Santa Maria_--for that was the vessel's name--they found
much to interest them, and the sailors treated them very kindly, in
spite of their piratical appearance. What delighted them most was a
monkey that belonged to the cook. He was one of the cutest, cleverest
little creatures that ever parodied humanity. His owner had taught him a
good many tricks, and he had taught himself even more; and both the boys
felt that in all their lives they had never seen so entertaining a pet.
He completely captivated them, and they would have given all they
possessed to make him their own. But the cook had no idea of parting
with him, even had it been in their power to buy him; so they had to
content themselves with going down to see him as often as they could.

Of course, they told their schoolmates about him, and of course the
schoolmates were set wild with curiosity to see this marvellous monkey,
and they flocked down to the _Santa Maria_ in such numbers, and so
often, that at last the sailors got tired of them. A mob of schoolboys
invading the deck every afternoon, and paying uproarious homage to the
cleverness of a monkey, was more or less of a nuisance. Accordingly, by
way of a gentle hint, the rope ladder, by which easy access was had to
the vessel, was removed, and a single rope put in its place.

It happened that the first afternoon after this had been done, the crowd
of visitors was larger than ever; and when they arrived at the _Santa
Maria's_ side, and found the ladder gone, they were, as may be easily
imagined, very much disgusted. A rope might be good enough for a sailor,
but the boys very much preferred a ladder, and they felt disposed to
resent the action of the sailors in thus cutting off their means of
ascent. The fact that it was high tide at the time, and the tall sides
of the ship towered above the wharf, constituted a further grievance in
the boys' minds. They held an impromptu indignation meeting forthwith.
But, although they were unanimous in condemning the conduct of the
foreigners, who evidently did not know any better, they were still no
nearer the monkey.

"Why not try to shin up the rope?" asked Frank Bowser, after a while.

"All right, if you'll give us a lead," replied one of the others.

"Very well--here goes!" returned Frank. And without more ado he grasped
the rope, planted his feet firmly against the vessel's side, and began
to ascend. It was evidently not the easiest thing in the world to do,
but his pluck, determination, and muscle conquered; and presently,
somewhat out of breath, he sat upon the bulwark, and, waving his cap to
the boys below, gasped out:

"Come along, boys! It's as easy as winking."

Not to be outdone, several others made the attempt and succeeded also.
Then came Bert's turn. Although so many had got up all right, he somehow
felt a little nervous, and made one or two false starts, climbing up a
little way and then dropping back again. This caused those who were
waiting to become impatient, and while Bert was about making another
start, one of them who stood behind him gave him a sharp push, saying:

"Hurry up there, slow coach."

As it happened, Bert was just at that moment changing his grip upon the
rope, and balancing himself upon the extreme edge of the stringer, which
formed the edge of the wharf. The ill-timed push caught him unawares. He
threw out his arms to steady himself, and the rope slipped altogether
from his grasp. The next instant, with a cry of fear that was taken up
by the boys standing helplessly about, he fell over into the dark,
swirling water, between the vessel's side and the wharf.

Down, down, down he went, while the water roared in his ears with the
thunders of Niagara, and filled his mouth with its sickening brine, as
instinctively he opened it to cry for help. He could not swim a stroke,
but he had a good idea of what the motions were, and so now, in a
desperate effort to save his life, he struck out vigorously with his
hands. It must have helped him, too; for out of the darkness into which
he had been plunged at first, he emerged into a lighter place, where,
through the green water, he could see his hands looking very white, as
they moved before his face.

But this did not bring him to the surface; so he tried another plan.
Doubling his sturdy legs beneath him, he shot them out as he had seen
other boys do when "treading water." A thrill of joy inspired him as the
effort succeeded, and, his head rising above the surface, he got one
good breath before sinking again. But the pitiless water engulfed him
once more, and, though he struggled hard, he seemed unable to keep
himself from sinking deeper still. Then the desire to struggle began to
leave him. Life seemed no longer a thing to be fiercely striven for. A
strange peace stole over his mind, and was followed by a still stranger
thing; for while he floated there, an unresisting prey to the deep, it
appeared as though all the events of his past life were crowding before
him like some wonderful panorama. From right to left they followed one
another in orderly procession, each as clear and distinct as a painted
picture, and he was watching them with absorbed, painless interest, when
something dark came across his vision; he felt himself grasped firmly
and drawn swiftly through the water, and the next thing he knew, he was
in the light and air again, and was being handed up to the top of the
wharf by men who passed him carefully from one to the other. In the very
nick of time rescue had come, and Bert was brought back to life.

Now, who was his rescuer, and what took place while Bert was struggling
for his life in the cold, dark water? The instant he disappeared the
boys shouted and shrieked in such a way as to bring the whole crew of
the _Santa Maria_ to the bulwarks, over which they eagerly peered, not
understanding what was the matter. Frank, who was in a frenzy of anxiety
and alarm, tried hard to explain to them; but his efforts were
unavailing until the reappearance of Bert's head made the matter plain
at once, and then he thought they would, of course, spring to the
rescue. But they did not. They looked at one another, and jabbered
something unintelligible, but not one of them moved, though Frank seized
the liveliest of them by the arm, and, pointing to the place where Bert
vanished, again indicated, by unmistakable gestures, what he wanted him
to do. The man simply shook his head and moved away. He either could
not swim, or did not think it worth while to risk his precious life in
trying to rescue one of the foreign urchins that had been bothering the
_Santa Maria_ of late. Had Bert's life depended upon these men, it might
have been given up at once.

But there was other help at hand. John Connors, the good-natured Irish
storekeeper, by whose sufferance the boys were permitted to make a
playground of the wharf, had heard their frantic cries, although he was
away up in one of the highest flats of the farthest store. Without
stopping to see what could be the matter, Connors leaped down the long
flights of stairs at a reckless rate, and ran toward the shrieking boys.

"Bert's overboard--save him!" they cried, as he burst into their midst.

"Where?" he asked, breathlessly, while he flung off his boots.

"There--just there," they replied, pointing to where Bert had last been
seen.

Balancing himself for an instant on the end of the stringer, Connors,
with the spring of a practised swimmer, dived into the depths and
disappeared; while the boys, in the silence of intense anxiety, crowded
as close as they dared to the edge of the wharf, and the Lascars looked
down from their bulwarks in stolid admiration. There were some moments
of harrowing uncertainty, and then a shout arose from the boys, which
even the swarthy sailors imitated, after a fashion; for cleaving the
bubbled surface came the head of brave John Connors, and, close beside
it, the dripping curls of Bert Lloyd, the faces of both showing great
exhaustion.

The sailors were all alert now. Ropes were hastily flung over the side,
and swarming down these with the agility of monkeys, they took Bert out
of his rescuer's hands and passed him up to the wharf; Connors followed
unassisted, so soon as he had recovered his breath.

Once upon the wharf, they were surrounded by a noisy group of boys,
overjoyed at their playmate's happy escape from death, and overflowing
with admiration for his gallant rescuer. Bert very quickly came to
himself--for he had not indeed entirely lost consciousness--and then
Connors told him just how he had got hold of him:

"When I dived down first I couldn't see anything of you at all, my boy,
and I went hunting about with my eyes wide open and looking for you. At
last, just as I was about giving you up, I saw something dark below me
that I thought might, p'r'aps, be yourself. So I just stuck out my foot,
and by the powers if it didn't take you right under the chin. As quick
as a wink I drew you toward me, and once I had a good grip of you, I put
for the top as hard as I could go; and here we are now, safe and sound.
And, faith, I hope you won't be trying it again in a hurry."

[Illustration: BERT RESCUED.--_Page_ 214.]

Bert was very much in earnest when he assured him he would not, and
still more in earnest when he tried to express his gratitude. But
Connors would none of it.

"Not at all, not at all, my boy," said he, with a laugh. "A fine young
chap like you is well worth saving any day, and it's not in John Connors
to stand by and see you drown, even if those black-faced furriners don't
know any better."



CHAPTER XXI.

LEARNING TO SWIM.


Bert's appearance, when he made his way home with dripping clothes, and
face still pale from what he had undergone, created no small
consternation. His sister was particularly alarmed, and it took some
time to convince her that, once having got out of the grasp of the
greedy water, he was really in no more danger. Had she been permitted to
have her own way, she would have bundled him off to bed forthwith, and
filled up any little corners inside of him that the sea water had left
unoccupied, with warm raspberry vinegar. But Bert would none of it, and
Mrs. Lloyd, although a good deal startled at first, soon recovered her
self-possession sufficiently to agree with him, when he insisted that
all he wanted was some dry clothes and a rest.

The dry clothes were quickly furnished, and having put them on, he
returned to the sitting-room to tell them all about his rescue, Frank
being at hand to fill in any details that he missed in the recital. The
tears stood in his mother's eyes, as he related what he had felt and
thought during those eventful moments when his life hung in the balance;
tears of distress, of sympathy, of joy, and finally of gratitude, as in
glowing words he described how noble John Connors had dived away down
into the dark green depths to rescue him just in the nick of time.

"Oh, Bert, darling," she exclaimed, when he had finished, folding him to
her breast, "how good God was to send dear, brave Connors to your help!
We cannot praise Him enough, and, dearest, don't you think He must
intend you to be something good and great for Him, when He thus spared
your life? And that dear man Connors!--I feel as though I could kiss the
hands that drew you from the water. Your father must go to-night, and
tell him how grateful we are; and he must do more than that--he must
reward him well for running such a risk to save our boy."

When Mr. Lloyd came home and learned what had happened, he made no
pretence of concealing his emotion. The very thought of losing in that
dreadful way the boy who was the joy and pride of his life filled him
with horror, and no words could express his fervent gratitude to
Connors, and to God, for sending so courageous a rescuer. So soon as
dinner was over he set off in search of him, taking Bert with him.
Connors's home was easily found, and Connors himself sat smoking his
evening pipe upon the door-step, as unconcernedly as though he had done
nothing out of the way that afternoon.

The object of Mr. Lloyd's visit was soon made known, but he found more
difficulty than he expected in giving such expression as he desired to
the gratitude he felt. Connors was quite willing to be thanked, and
accepted Mr. Lloyd's fervent words with a respectful acquiescence that
well became him, but when Mr. Lloyd broached the subject of a more
tangible reward, Connors quite as respectfully, but very firmly,
refused.

"I want no reward for saving your boy, sir. It's proud I am of pulling
so fine a boy as that out of the water. I did no more than you'd do for
my boy, sir, if he were in the same scrape," said he, in reply to Mr.
Lloyd's delicately worded offer.

"That may be, Connors. I'm sure I would do as you say, but all the same
I would feel much more comfortable if you would accept this purse as
some expression of my gratitude," urged Mr. Lloyd.

"And, thanking you kindly, sir, I'd feel much more comfortable if I
didn't take it," returned Connors, in a tone there was no mistaking. So
Mr. Lloyd, resolving in his mind that he would find out some other way
of rewarding the worthy fellow, said no more then, and shortly after
took his leave.

As Bert and his father walked home together they were still talking
about the event of the afternoon.

"If you had been drowned, Bert, it would to some extent have been my
fault," said Mr. Lloyd; "for I should not have so long neglected
teaching you to swim. A boy of your age ought to be well able to take
care of himself in the water, and I should have seen that you were.
However, now that this escape of yours has waked me up, I will attend to
the matter at once. So we will begin to-morrow morning, Bert, and have a
swimming lesson every day before breakfast."

"Oh, father; I'm so glad," exclaimed Bert, skipping about joyfully. "I
want to know how to swim ever so much, and I'll soon learn if you'll
teach me."

"All right, my boy. You see to waking me in good time, and I'll see that
you learn to swim," replied Mr. Lloyd, clapping Bert affectionately on
the back.

The next morning at six o'clock Bert was rapping loudly on his father's
door, and calling upon him to get up, and a quarter of an hour later the
pair with towels on their arms were off in the direction of a secluded,
deserted wharf that would just suit their purpose.

On arriving at this place, Mr. Lloyd showed Bert how he proposed to
teach him to swim, and it certainly was about as excellent a way as
could well have been devised. He had brought with him two things besides
the towels: a piece of rope about the thickness of a clothes line, and
ten yards or more in length, and a strong linen band, two yards in
length. The linen band he put round Bert's shoulders in such a way that
there was no possibility of its slipping, or interfering with the action
of his arms; and then the rope was so fastened to the band that when
Bert was in the water his father, standing on the wharf above him, could
hold him in just the right position for swimming.

The preparations having been completed, Bert was bidden descend the
steps and plunge into the water. He started off bravely enough, but when
he reached the bottom step he hesitated. The water was at least ten feet
in depth beneath him, and he had never been "over his head," as they
say, before, except when he came so near being drowned. Naturally,
therefore, he shrank from committing himself to the deep in this
fashion.

"Well, Bert, what's the matter? Are you afraid the water is too cold?"
asked his father, as he noticed his hesitation.

"No, father; not exactly," answered Bert, feeling half ashamed of
himself.

"You're afraid it's too deep, then?" suggested Mr. Lloyd. And Bert
looked up with a smile that showed he had hit the mark.

"Never mind, my boy," said Mr. Lloyd, cheeringly. "You're all right. I
won't let go of you. Jump in like a man."

Bert hung back a moment; then, shutting his mouth tightly and closing
his eyes, he sprang boldly into the cool, green water. He went under a
little at first, but a slight tug on the rope brought him quickly to the
top, and recovering his breath and his self-possession at the same time,
he struck out with his arms and kicked with his legs, according to the
best of his ability. His motions were sadly unskilful, as may be easily
imagined, and although they used up his strength pretty rapidly, they
would not have kept his head above water for a minute; but a gentle
pressure on the rope in Mr. Lloyd's hand made that all right, and,
feeling quite at his ease, Bert struggled away until he was tired out,
and then his father, who had all the time been cheering and directing
him, drew him back to the steps, and the lesson was over.

"You did very well, Bert; very well, indeed," said he, in tones of warm
approval, as Bert proceeded to rub off the salt water and get into his
clothes again. "I don't think it will take a great many lessons to make
a swimmer of you."

And Mr. Lloyd's confidence was well founded; for so earnestly did Bert
give himself to the business of learning to swim that by the end of a
fortnight he could go ten yards out and back without any help from the
rope at all. Another fortnight and the rope was no longer needed. Mr.
Lloyd now went into the water with Bert, and swimming out to the middle
of the dock, would have the boy come to him, and after resting upon his
broad shoulders a moment, make his way back to the steps again.

Thus, in little more than a month, Bert became quite able to take care
of himself in the water under ordinary circumstances; and his father,
feeling well satisfied with his proficiency, gave him liberty to go to
the wharves as often as he pleased--a boon Bert highly appreciated.

A pleasure unshared by his faithful Frank was but half a pleasure to
Bert. Next in importance to his being able to swim himself was Frank's
acquiring the same invaluable accomplishment. Invaluable? Yes, one might
indeed rightly use a stronger term, and say indispensable; for the
education of no boy is complete until he has mastered the art of
swimming. And if the boys knew their own interests as thoroughly as
their parents and guardians ought to know them, they would agitate all
over the land for the provision of swimming baths in connection with
their schools, or in some other way that would ensure them the
opportunity of learning what to do with themselves in the water, as well
as upon the land.

Frank could swim a stroke or two before Bert took him in hand, and
consequently was soon able to dispense with the rope; but timid little
Ernest Linton, who was the next pupil, took a lot of teaching, and there
seemed small prospect of his conquering his timidity sufficiently to "go
it alone" before the swimming season would be over.

The fame of Bert's swimming school spread among his playmates to an
extent that threatened to be embarrassing. By the time they were half
way through the mid-summer holidays, a crowd of boisterous youngsters
gathered every morning at the old wharf, and struggled for the use of
band and rope, until at last there had to be several of these provided.
Then they had fine fun. A dozen boys would be in the water at the same
time--some of them expert swimmers, the others in all stages of
learning--and there would be races, splashing matches, unexpected
duckings, sly tricks upon the nervous learners, and all sorts of capers,
such as might be expected from boys of their age and enterprise.

By way of deepening the interest in this healthful amusement, they
organised a competition, the prizes being supplied by their parents, who
were duly waited upon by a properly-authorised committee; and one fine
August afternoon, the sleepy old wharf was made to fairly tremble with
excitement, as race followed race in quick succession, amid the cheering
and shouting of some two-score vigorous boys. Much to his delight, Frank
succeeded in carrying off the first prize. He was a persistent,
painstaking fellow when his interest was thoroughly aroused, and while
other chaps were skylarking about in the water, he had been practising
long swims, the consequence of which was that at the competition--when,
of course, the best prize was given for the longest race; the course,
in this instance, being out to the head of the wharf, and back--Frank
left all the other contestants behind, and came in an easy winner.

Bert was exceedingly pleased. He had not won any prizes himself, except
an unimportant little second one; but Frank's success more than consoled
him, and he bore him off home with him in high glee, that the family
might share in the joy of the occasion.

Nearly two years now had passed since the two friends first made one
another's acquaintance, and the course of events had fully confirmed the
expectation of Bert's parents, that he would be far more likely to
influence Frank for good than Frank would be to influence him for evil.
There had been unmistakable improvement in Frank, both in manners and
morals. Constant association with a playmate brought up under home
influences so different from his own; the wise and kindly words that Mr.
and Mrs. Lloyd lost no opportunity of speaking to him; the refinement
and brightness of their home; the atmosphere of sunny religion that
pervaded it; and all these supplemented by an ever-interesting
presentation of common-sense Christianity at the hands of Mr. Silver
every Sunday afternoon, had worked deep into Frank's strong, steadfast
nature, and without being distinctly conscious of it himself, he was
growing refined, pure, and religious in thought and desire, like those
with whom it was the joy of his life to associate. The current of his
being had been turned Godward, and in him, though he knew it not, Bert
had won the first star for his crown.



CHAPTER XXII.

HOW HOISTING WAS ABOLISHED.


The month of September was close at hand, and Bert would soon begin his
second year with Dr. Johnston. Mr. Lloyd, though well content with the
progress his son had been making in his studies, thought it would be a
wise thing to hold out some extra inducement that might incite him to
still greater diligence, and so one evening, while the family were
sitting together, he broached the subject:

"Dr. Johnston gives a lot of prizes at the end of the term, doesn't he,
Bert?"

"Yes, father, a good many; always books, you know," answered Bert.

"Why didn't you get a prize of some kind last term?" asked Mr. Lloyd,
with a smile.

"Oh, I don't know, father. Didn't try hard enough, I suppose," replied
Bert, smiling in his turn.

"Well, do you intend to try this term, Bert?"

"Indeed I do; and Frank's going to try, too. My best chance is in the
arithmetic, so I'm going to try for that; and he's going in for
grammar."

"Very well, then, Bert, do your best; and if you win a prize I will give
you what you have wanted so long--a pony."

The expression of Bert's countenance at this quite unexpected
announcement was a study. His eyes and mouth, the former with surprise,
the latter with a smile, opened to their fullest extent, and for a
moment he stood motionless. Then, springing across the floor, he leaped
into his father's lap, put both arms around his neck, and burying his
happy face in the brown whiskers, ejaculated, fervently:

"You dear, dear father, you dear, dear father, how I do love you!"

Mr. Lloyd returned the affectionate hug with interest, and then, holding
Bert out on his knee, said, in a playful tone:

"Aren't you in too much of a hurry about thanking me, Bert? You haven't
won your pony yet, you know."

"That's all right, father," returned Bert. "I mean to win it, and what's
more, I'm going to."

It need hardly be said that the first item of news Bert had for his
friend Frank next morning was his father's offer.

"Won't it be splendid to have a pony of my very own!" he exclaimed, his
eyes dancing with delight at the prospect. "Perhaps your father will
give you a pony, too, if you win a prize; hey, Frank?"

Frank shook his head dubiously:

"Not much chance of that, Bert. That's not his way of doing things."

"Oh, well, never mind. You can ride turn about with me on mine, and
we'll have just splendid fun."

As the boys were talking together, little Ernest Linton approached,
looking as if he had something on his mind. Getting close to Bert, he
touched him gently on the arm to attract his attention, and, turning a
very earnest, appealing face to his, said:

"Bert, I want to ask a favour."

"Hallo, Ernie, what's up?" asked Bert, in his kindest tones.

Ernest then proceeded to tell him that his younger brother, Paul, was to
come to the school in a few days, and that he was a very timid, delicate
little chap that would be sure to be half frightened out of his life if
they hoisted him; and what Ernest wanted was that Bert and Frank should
see if they could not, in some way or other, save Paul from being
hoisted.

The two boys were filled with the idea at once. It was good enough fun
to hoist sturdy fellows like themselves, who were none the worse for it;
but if Paul were the sort of chap his brother said he was, it would be a
real shame to give him such a scare, and they would do their best to
prevent its being done. Accordingly, they promised Ernest they would
protect his brother if they could, and Ernest felt very much relieved at
their promise.

But how were they going to carry it out? No exceptions had been made as
to the hoisting since they had come to Dr. Johnston's, but all new boys
were hoisted with perfect impartiality. They would be powerless by
themselves, that was certain. Their only plan was to persuade a lot of
the boys to join them, and they did not feel entirely sure about being
able to do this. However, the first thing to be done was to ask Teter
Johnston. If they could enlist his sympathies, their task would be a
good deal easier. Accordingly, at recess, they made directly for Teter,
and laid the whole matter before him. Like themselves, he took hold of
it at once. It was just the sort of thing that would appeal to his big,
warm, manly heart, and without hesitation he promised the boys he would
give them all the help in his power.

The next step was to secure recruits for their party. In this Teter
helped them greatly, and Frank was very active too, because big Rod
Graham, whom he disliked none the less, though Bert had thrashed him so
soundly, always headed the hoisting party, and Frank looked forward with
keen delight to balking this tormenting bully by means of the
anti-hoisting party they were now organising.

Of course, the movement could not be kept a secret. It soon leaked out,
and then Rod Graham and Dick Wilding--who, by the way, since the stolen
money episode, had been as cool in his relations with Bert as he had
previously been cordial, evidently resenting very much Bert's
withdrawal from his companionship--these two, with their associates,
began to organise in their turn, so that it was not long before the
school was divided into two parties, both of which were looking forward
eagerly to the event which should decide which would have their own way.

On the Monday following the opening of the school Ernest Linton brought
his brother with him, a slight, pale, delicate little fellow, not more
than eight years old, who clung close to his brother's side, and looked
about with a frightened air that was sufficient in itself to arouse
one's sympathies. Bert and Frank had known him before, but Teter had
never seen him, and his kind heart prompted him to go up and slap the
little fellow kindly on the back, saying:

"So you're Linton's brother Paul, eh? Cheer up, little chap; we'll see
they're not too hard upon you."

Paul's pale face brightened, and looking up with a grateful glance, he
said, softly:

"Thank you, sir."

Teter laughed at being "sirred," and went off, feeling quite pleased
with himself.

According to the custom of the school, Paul would be hoisted at the
mid-day recess of the following day, and the boys looked forward eagerly
to the struggle for which they had been preparing. During the morning
their thoughts clearly were not upon the lessons, and so many mistakes
were made that the shrewd doctor suspected there must be something
brewing, but preferred to let it reveal itself rather than to interfere
by premature questions. He was a profound student of human nature, and
especially of boy nature. He knew his boys as thoroughly as an Eastern
shepherd ever knew his sheep. They were like open books before him, and
in this perhaps more than in anything else lay the secret of his rare
success as a teacher.

When the eagerly expected recess came, all the boys, with the exception
of a small group, poured out tumultuously into the street, and ranged
themselves in two bands in close proximity to the door. The group that
remained consisted of the two Lintons, Bert, Frank, and Teter, the
latter three constituting a sort of body-guard for poor timorous little
Paul, who shrank in terror from the ordeal, the nature of which in truth
he did not fully understand. Having consulted together for a minute or
two, the body-guard then moved out through the door, taking care to keep
Paul in the middle. As they emerged into the street, a kind of hum of
suppressed excitement rose from the crowd awaiting them, followed
immediately by cries of "Hoist him! hoist him!" uttered first by Graham
and Wilding, and quickly taken up by their supporters.

Pale with fright, Paul cowered close to Teter, while Bert and Frank
stood in front of him, and their supporters quickly encircled them. Then
came the struggle. Graham and Wilding and their party bore down upon
Paul's defenders, and sought to break their way through them to reach
their intended victim. Of course, no blows were struck. The boys all
knew better than to do that; but pushing, hauling, wrestling, very much
after the fashion of football players in a maul, the one party strove to
seize Paul, who indeed offered no more resistance than an ordinary
football, and the other to prevent his being carried off. For some
minutes the issue was uncertain, although the hoisting party
considerably outnumbered the anti-hoisting party. More than once did
Graham and Wilding force their way into the centre of Paul's defenders,
and almost have him in their grasp, only to be thrust away again by the
faithful trio that stood about him like the three of whom Macaulay's
ringing ballad tells:

   "How well Horatius kept the bridge,
   In the brave days of old."

Shouting, struggling, swaying to and fro, the contest went on, much to
the amusement of a crowd of spectators, among which the tall,
blue-coated form of a policeman loomed up prominently, although he
deigned not to interfere. At length the weight of superior numbers began
to tell, and despite all their efforts the anti-hoisting party were
borne slowly but surely toward the fence, upon which some of the boys
had already taken their positions, ready to have Paul handed up to them.
The case was looking desperate, and Teter, heated and wearied with his
exertions, had just said, in his deepest tones, to Bert and Frank,
"Come, boys, all together, try it once more," when suddenly a silence
fell upon the noisy mob, and their arms, a moment before locked in tense
struggling, fell limply to their sides; for there, standing between them
and the fence, his keen, dark face lighted with a curious smile, and
holding his hand above his head by way of a shield from the hot sun,
stood Dr. Johnston!

A genuine ghost at midnight could hardly have startled the boys more.
Absorbed in their struggle, they had not seen the doctor until they were
fairly upon him. For aught they knew he had been a spectator of the
proceedings from the outset. What would he think of them? Rod Graham and
Dick Wilding, slaves to a guilty conscience, slunk into the rear of
their party, while Bert, and Frank, and Teter, glad of the unexpected
relief, wiped their brows and arranged their disordered clothing, as
they awaited the doctor's utterance. It soon came.

"I desire an explanation of this unseemly disturbance. The school will
follow me immediately into the schoolroom," said he, somewhat sternly;
and turning upon his heel went back to his desk, the boys following at a
respectful distance.

When all had been seated, and the room was quiet, Dr. Johnston asked:

"Will the leaders in the proceedings outside come to my desk?"

There was a moment's pause, and then Teter rose from his seat, Bert
immediately imitating him, and the two walked slowly down to the open
space before the master's desk.

Having waited a minute, and no one else appearing, the doctor leaned
forward and said to his nephew:

"You and Lloyd were on the same side, were you not?"

"Yes, sir," replied Teter.

"Well, who were the leaders of the other side? I wish to know."

"Graham and Wilding, sir," answered Teter.

"Graham and Wilding, come forward," called the doctor, sternly; and the
two boys, looking very conscious and shamefaced, reluctantly left their
seats and took their places before the throne.

"Now, then, I wish to be informed of the whole matter," said the doctor.

Bert looked at Teter, and Teter looked at Bert.

"You tell him," he whispered; "you know most about it."

Thereupon, with the utmost frankness, Bert proceeded to tell his story,
beginning at his first talk with Ernest Linton.

The doctor listened intently, his inscrutable face revealing nothing as
to how the story impressed him. When Bert had finished, he turned to
Graham and Wilding, and asked them:

"Is Lloyd's statement correct? or have you anything to add?"

They hung their heads, and were silent.

The doctor looked very hard at them for a moment, during which the
silence was so intense that the fall of a pin upon the floor would have
been heard; then, turning to the school, he spoke as follows:

"The events that have just transpired have hastened a decision that has
been forming in my mind for some time past. I was not unaware of this
practice of which Lloyd has just spoken, but deemed it well not to
interfere until my interference should seem necessary. That time, in my
judgment, has arrived, and I have determined that there shall be no more
of this hoisting. Be it, therefore, distinctly understood by the pupils
of this school, that any future attempts at the hoisting of new boys
will incur punishment, and possibly even expulsion from the school. You
will now resume work."

A subdued murmur of applause arose from the anti-hoisting party at the
conclusion of the doctor's announcement. They had more than carried
their point; for, intending only to protect Paul Linton, they had
obtained the complete abolition of the practice. Bert was greatly
elated, and could talk of nothing else when he got home. Father, and
mother, and sister, had to listen to the fullest details of the struggle
and its surprising issue, and Bert fairly outdid himself in the vigour
and minuteness of his description. When the fountain of his eloquence at
last ran dry, Mr. Lloyd had a chance to say, with one of his expressive
smiles:

"And so my boy has come out as a reformer. Well, Bert, dear, you have
taken the first step in the most thankless and trying of all careers,
and yet I would not discourage you for the world. I would a thousand
times rather have you a reformer than an opposer of reforms. I wonder
what work God has in store for you."



CHAPTER XXIII.

PRIZE WINNING AND LOSING.


There were many ways in which the methods employed at Dr. Johnston's
school were unique. The system of registering attendance, proficiency,
and conduct has been already fully explained. It was hardly possible
that this could have been more perfect. No boy could be absent without
being missed, and an explanation or excuse of a thoroughly satisfactory
nature was required the next day. No mistake could occur as to the
standing of the pupils in the different classes. The record of each day
was all comprehensive. It constituted a photograph, so to speak, of each
pupil's doings, in so far as they related to his school, and the doctor
was exceedingly proud of the journals, which he kept with scrupulous
care and neatness.

Another feature of the school, peculiar to itself, was the system by
which a knowledge of arithmetic was fostered, and the faculty of using
it quickly was developed. The whole of one morning each week was devoted
to this. The scholars were grouped in classes according to their
varying proficiency, care being taken to give each one a fair chance by
associating him with those who were about as far advanced as himself.
These classes were then arranged upon seats very much after the fashion
of a Sunday school, save that instead of a teacher being in their
centre, they were placed around a backless chair, in such a manner that
it was equally convenient of access to all. Each boy had his slate and
pencil in readiness.

The school having been called to order, the doctor then proceeded to
read out to the senior class a problem in proportion or compound
interest, or whatever it might be, and this they hurriedly scribbled
down on their slates. If they did not understand it fully at first, he
would read it again, but of course never gave any explanations. So soon
as a scholar had clearly grasped the problem to be solved he set to work
at its solution with all his might, and it was a most interesting
spectacle to watch when the whole class, with heads bent close to the
slates, made their squeaking, scratching pencils fly over them. Every
possible shade of mental condition, from confident knowledge to
foreboding bewilderment, would be expressed in their faces. The instant
one of them had completed his work, he banged his slate down upon the
backless chair, with the writing turned under. The others followed as
best they could, and all the slates being down, they awaited the
doctor's coming around to their class again.

When Dr. Johnston had completed the round of the classes, and given each
a problem, he would, after a pause, call upon each in turn to read the
answers as set down upon the slate. The boy whose slate was first on the
chair, and therefore at the bottom of the pile, would read his answer
first. If it were correct, he scored a point, and none of the others
were called upon. If incorrect, the next to him would read his answer,
and so on until a correct answer was given, and a point scored by
somebody. Only one point could be made each round, and so the
unsuccessful ones had to console themselves with the hope of having
better luck next time. Not more than four or five rounds would be had
each day, and it rarely happened that the same boy would be successful
in all of them. Three points were considered a very good day's work, and
if a boy made four points he was apt to feel that the prize in that
class was as good as his, until some other boy made four points also,
and thereby lessened his chances.

It did not always happen that being first down with his slate assured
the scholar of scoring a point. A slight mistake in his addition,
subtraction, or division might have thrown him off the track, and then
number two, or maybe number three, would come in with a correct answer
and triumphantly score the point, success being all the sweeter, because
of being somewhat unexpected.

Now this kind of competition suited Bert thoroughly. He was as quick as
any of his companions, cooler than many of them, and had by this time
acquired a very good understanding of the chief principles of
arithmetic. He greatly enjoyed the working against time, which was the
distinctive feature of the contest. It brought out his mental powers to
their utmost, and he looked forward to "arithmetic day," with an
eagerness that was not caused entirely by what his father had promised
him in the event of his being successful in carrying off a prize.

In the same class with him were Frank Bowser, Ernest Linton, and a
half-dozen other boys of similar age and standing in the school. He had
no fear of Frank or Ernest. They were no match for him either as to
knowledge, or rapidity of work; but there was a boy in the class who
seemed fully his equal in both respects. This was Levi Cohen, a
dark-skinned, black-haired chap, whose Jewish features were in entire
harmony with his Jewish name. He was indeed a Jew, and, young though he
was, had all the depth, self-control, and steadfastness of purpose of
that strange race. He also had, as the sequel will show their
indifference as to the rightness of the means employed so long as the
end in view was gained.

The school had been in session for more than a month, and those who were
particularly interested in the arithmetic competitions were already
calculating their chances of success. In Bert's class it was clear
beyond a doubt that the contest lay between him and Levi Cohen. It
rarely happened that they did not monopolise the points between them,
and so far, they had divided them pretty evenly. One day Bert would
score three and Levi two, and then the next week Levi would have three,
and Bert two, and so it went on from week to week.

As the second month drew to a close, Bert began to gain upon his rival.
He nearly always made the majority of the points, and was now at least
six ahead. Then suddenly the tide turned and Levi seemed to have it all
his own way. The quickness with which he got the answers was
bewildering. Nay, more, it was even suspicious. One familiar with the
details of the problems given, and the amount of work a full working out
would require, could not help being struck by the fact that Cohen seemed
to arrive at his answer after a remarkably small expenditure of
slate-pencil. Time and again he would have his slate down at least
half-a-minute before Bert did his, although previous to this sudden
change in his fortunes, the difference in time between them had been
rarely more than a few seconds. Then again it was noticeable that he
took the utmost care that none of the others should see what was on his
slate. He did his work in a corner, hunched up over it so that it was
well concealed, and he snatched his slate away from the pile at the very
first opportunity.

Bert noticed all these things, and they perplexed him quite as much as
Cohen's rapid gain alarmed him. He soon became convinced that there was
something wrong, that Cohen was doing crooked work; but, puzzle his
brains as he might, he could not get at the bottom of the mystery. Frank
and Ernest fully shared his suspicions, and they had many a talk over
the matter. Frank thought that Cohen must have the answers written on a
piece of paper which he managed to peep at somehow while all the other
boys were absorbed in working out the problems; but although he on
several occasions purposely refrained from doing anything himself in
order to watch Cohen the more closely, he failed to find the slightest
ground for his suspicions in that direction. Then Bert put forward his
theory.

"I'll tell what it is Frank: Cohen must learn the answers off by heart,
and then he sets them down without working out the whole sum."

"Shouldn't wonder a bit," said Frank. "He's got a great memory, I know,
and we always can tell from what part of the arithmetic Dr. Johnston is
going to get the sums."

"But how can we make sure of it, Frank?" inquired Bert, anxiously.

"The only way is to get hold of his slate, and see how he works his sums
out," replied Frank.

"Yes; but he takes precious good care not to let anybody see how he does
them."

"So he does; but we've got to find out some way, and I'm going to do it,
so sure as my name's Frank Bowser."

"How'll you manage it, Frank?" asked Bert, brightening up; for he really
was a good deal troubled over Cohen's continued success, particularly as
he felt so strongly that there was something wrong at the bottom of it.

"I don't know yet, Bert; but I'll find out a way somehow. See if you
can't think of a plan yourself."

"I'll tell you what I'll do: I'll ask father about it," said Bert, in a
tone that implied perfect confidence in Mr. Lloyd's ability to furnish a
solution for any difficulty.

Accordingly, that evening, Bert laid the whole case before his father,
who listened with judicial gravity, and then proceeded to ask a question
or two:

"You feel quite sure that Cohen does not take the time to work out the
sums properly?"

"Yes, father; perfectly sure."

"Then why don't you inform Dr. Johnston of your suspicions, and he will
make an examination into the matter?"

"Oh, father!" exclaimed Bert, with a look of profound surprise. "You
wouldn't have me turn tattle-tale, would you?"

"No, Bert, dear; indeed, I would not, although you should lose a dozen
prizes. I said that simply to see what you would think of it, and I am
glad you answered me as I expected you would. But, Bert, you have asked
my advice in this matter. Did you think of asking somebody else who is
infinitely wiser than I am?"

Bert understood his father at once.

"No, father; I did not. I never thought of it," he answered, frankly.

"Then had you not better do so when you are saying your prayers
to-night?"

"I will, father. I'm so glad you reminded me." And with that Bert
dropped the subject for the time.

That night, ere he went to bed, Bert laid the matter before his Father
in heaven, just as he had done before his father upon earth. He had
imbibed his ideas of prayer from what he heard from his own father at
family worship. Mr. Lloyd's conception of prayer was that it could not
be too simple, too straightforward. It often seemed as though God were
present in the room, and he was talking with him, so natural, so
sincere, so direct were his petitions. And Bert had learned to pray in
the same manner. A listener might at times be tempted to smile at the
frankness, the naïvete of Bert's requests; but they were uttered not
more in boyish earnest than in truest reverence by the petitioner.

The next morning, when Bert came down to the breakfast-room, he was
evidently in the best of spirits.

"It's all right, father," said he. "I asked God to show me what's the
best thing to do, and I'm sure He will."

"That's it, Bert; that's the way to look at it," replied Mr. Lloyd, with
a smile of warm approval.

On reaching the school Bert found Frank awaiting him.

"I've got it! I've got it!" he shouted, so soon as Bert appeared. "I
know how Levi manages it now."

"How is it?" asked Bert, eagerly.

"Why, he learns all the answers off by heart, and then doesn't work out
the sums at all, but just pretends to, and slaps down the answer before
the rest of us fellows are half through," explained Frank.

"To be sure, Frank; you know I thought of that before. But how are we
going to stop him?"

"That's just what I'm coming to. When the time comes to read the answers
I'm going to take up the slates, just as if mine was down first; and
then, if Levi's been playing sharp on us, I'll expose him."

"What a brick you are!" exclaimed Bert, admiringly, patting Frank on the
back. "That's a grand plan of yours, and I do believe it's the way God
is going to answer my prayer."

"Answer your prayer, Bert? Why, what do you mean?" inquired Frank.

"Why, you know, Frank, last night when I was saying my prayers, I told
God all about it, and now I believe He's going to make it all right. You
just see if He doesn't."

Frank was evidently very much struck with the idea of his being chosen
by God to answer Bert's prayer. It was quite a new thought, and made a
deep impression upon him. He was a clear and strong, if not very rapid,
reasoner, and his reasoning in this case led him to the conclusion that
if God thought that much of him he certainly ought to think more of God.
He did not talk about it to anyone, but for many days his mind was
occupied with thoughts of this nature, and their direct result was to
lead him nearer to the kingdom.

At the very first opportunity Frank put his plan into execution.
Arithmetic day came round, the class gathered in its place, the first
sum was read out to them, and before Bert was half through working it
out, Levi Cohen placed his slate softly upon the chair, and leaned back
in his seat with a sly smile lurking in the corners of his mouth. Frank
glanced up from his work, gave Bert a meaning look, and then dropped his
slate upon Cohen's with a loud bang. The others followed more slowly,
and presently the time came for the answers to be read.

Before Cohen could leave his corner, Frank rose up, seized the pile of
slates, turned them over, and examined the first intently, while Bert
watched him with breathless expectancy, and Cohen, at first too
surprised to act, sprang forward to wrest it from his hands. But Frank
moved out of his reach, and at the same time, with a triumphant smile,
exhibited the face of the slate to the rest of the class, saying, in a
loud whisper:

"Look, boys, that's the way he works them out."

Dr. Johnston noticed the slight commotion this created, but he was too
far away to see clearly what it meant, so he called out:

"Why does not class six read their answers?"

Cohen stood up, and held up his hand.

"Well, Cohen, what is it?" asked the doctor.

"Please, sir, Bowser has taken my slate, and won't give it to me,"
answered Cohen, in a whining voice.

"Bowser, what's the meaning of this? What are you doing with Cohen's
slate?" demanded the doctor, frowning darkly.

Frank did not look a bit frightened, but still holding on to the slate,
which Cohen was making ineffectual efforts to regain, replied, in
respectful tones:

"May I hand you the slate first, sir?"

At these words Cohen turned ashy pale, and Dr. Johnston, realising that
there must be something going on that required explanation, ordered
Frank to bring all the slates up to him.

With radiant face Frank proceeded to obey, giving Bert a triumphant look
as he passed by him, while Cohen shrank back into his corner, and bit
his nails as though he would devour his finger tips. Taking up Cohen's
slate, the doctor scrutinised it carefully. One glance was sufficient. A
deep flush spread over his dark face, his eyes lighted up threateningly,
and in his sternest tones he called out:

"Cohen, come here!"

Amid the expectant hush of the school, none but class six knowing what
was the matter, Cohen, looking as though he would give his right hand to
be able to sink through the floor, walked slowly up into the dreadful
presence of the angered master. Holding up the slate before him, Dr.
Johnston asked:

"Is this your slate, sir?"

Cohen gave it a cowering glance, and said, faintly:

"Yes, sir."

"How long has this been going on?" thundered the doctor.

Cohen made no reply.

"Answer me, sir, at once. How long has this been going on?" repeated the
doctor.

"I don't quite know, sir; but not very long," faltered out Cohen.

With an exclamation of disgust, Dr. Johnston turned from him, and,
holding the slate up high so that all the school might see it, relieved
the curiosity of the scholars, now at fever pitch, by addressing them
thus:

"Cohen has just been detected in one of the most contemptible tricks
that has come under my observation since I have been master of this
school. He has evidently been committing to memory the answers to the
problems that would be given out, and instead of doing the work properly
has been scratching down a few figures, then writing the answers, and so
finishing long before any of the other scholars. I need hardly say that
this is not only a most contemptible trick, as I have already said, but
a serious blow at the principles of fair play and justice which should
regulate the winning of prizes in this school. I therefore feel bound to
express my indignation at Cohen's offence in the most decided manner."

Turning to Cohen: "You, sir, shall stand upon the floor for punishment.
All the points scored by you already this term will be taken from you,
and you will not be permitted to compete for any prize until I shall so
determine."

A kind of subdued whistle rose from the boys when they heard the
doctor's severe, and yet not too severe, sentence. Cohen was no
favourite with them; and yet they could not help some pity for him, as
thoroughly cowed and crushed he stood before them all, the very picture
of misery. Bert's tender heart was so touched by his abject appearance,
that he half relented at his exposure. But Frank was troubled by no such
second thoughts. The unexpectedly complete success of his scheme filled
him with delight. It had accomplished two objects, both of which gave
him keen pleasure. Bert's most dangerous rival for the prize had been
put out of the way, and Cohen, whom he cordially disliked, had been well
punished for his knavery.

With Cohen disqualified, Bert had a comparatively easy time of it for
the rest of the term. He usually managed to secure four out of the five
points obtainable, and steadily added to his score until at last there
was no chance of anyone beating him, and he could look forward with
comfortable confidence to the prize that meant so much in his case. A
few days before Christmas the results were declared, and the prizes
awarded, and although Bert gained only the one upon which his heart had
been set, while other boys carried off two, and even three, he envied
none of them. Their prizes meant nothing more perhaps than the
brightly-bound books which the doctor selected with special reference to
boyish preferences. But _his_ prize meant more than a book. It meant a
pony. And so if he was the happiest boy in all the land of Acadia it was
not without good reason. Frank was hardly less jubilant, for he had
gained his prize, and there was a hope taking strong hold upon his
heart, that if fortune was kind to him, there might be a pony for him as
well as for Bert.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A CHAPTER ON PONIES.


It was a proud day for Bert when he came home from school, bearing a
handsome volume of Captain Gordon Cumming's Adventures in Africa, and he
felt as though he could scarcely wait for his father's return from the
office, so eager was he to show him his prize. As it was, he watched
impatiently for him, and so soon as he came in sight rushed toward him,
holding the book above his head, and shouting:

"I've won it. I've won the prize."

The Lloyds were all quite as proud as Bert himself over his success, and
they made a very merry quartette as they sat around the dinner-table
that evening.

"Dear me! I suppose I'll have to keep my promise now, though it takes my
last cent to pay for it," said Mr. Lloyd, with a pretence of looking
rueful.

"Indeed you will, father. I'm not going to let you off, of that you may
be sure," exclaimed Bert, gleefully, knowing very well that his father
was only in fun, and that it would take the cost of a good many ponies
to reach his last cent.

"Well, then, sir, since you insist upon it, may I venture to inquire
what sort of a pony you would like."

"Oh, I don't know, father."

"I suppose you're not very particular, Bert, so long as he'll let you
stay on his back," said Mr. Lloyd, smiling.

"That's about it, father," assented Bert.

"Be sure and get a nice, quiet pony that won't run away with Bert, or
give him a nasty kick some time," interposed Mrs. Lloyd, with an anxious
look, as she contemplated the possibility of some accident happening to
her darling.

"Never fear, mother, I'll make sure of that," answered Mr. Lloyd, with a
reassuring smile. "And for that very reason," he continued, addressing
himself to Bert, "I may be some time in finding one just to suit. So you
must be patient, my little man, and be willing to wait, so that when
your pony does come, he may be a good one."

As it turned out, Bert had to wait several months, and the chill winter
had given way to the warm sunshine of spring, and the boy's patience had
almost given way altogether, when at last his father, on coming home one
evening, announced, to his immense joy, that after much searching he had
secured a pony that thoroughly suited him, and that this equine treasure
would be brought to the house the next morning early.

If Bert was too much excited to sleep for more than half-an-hour at a
time that night, who cannot sympathise with him? And if, when he did
fall into a troubled doze, he had nightmare visions which soon woke him
up again, who would dare laugh at him? In all his young life he had
never been in such a fever of expectation, and long before dawn he was
wide awake, with no hope of again closing his eyes, and tossed and
tumbled about until it was light enough to get up and dress himself.

As soon as he had dressed he went down to the barn to assure himself for
the twentieth time that the little stall was in perfect readiness; that
there was no lack of oats in the bin or hay in the loft; that the
brand-new halter was hanging in its place, waiting to be clasped upon
the head of the coming pony, and thus he managed to while away the time
until the breakfast bell rang.

The pony was to arrive shortly after breakfast, and, hungry as he was,
Bert could scarcely be persuaded to taste his porridge, toast, or
coffee, and he made the others laugh by jumping up to run to the door at
the slightest suspicion of a sound in the street. At length, just when
he had settled down again after one of these excursions, the door bell
rang vigorously. Bert rushed through the hall, opened the door, and
immediately there was a glad shout of "Hurrah! Here he is! Isn't he a
beauty?" which brought the whole family to the door, and there they
beheld the overjoyed boy with his arms clasped tightly round the neck
of a brown pony that seemed to quite appreciate this little
demonstration, while the groom looked on with a superior smile at Bert's
enthusiasm.

The pony was indeed a beauty. He was of a rich brown colour, without a
white spot upon him, just high enough for Bert to see comfortably over
his back, and as round and plump as the best master could wish. His head
was small and perfectly shaped, his neck beautifully arched, and he had
large brown eyes that looked out upon the world with an intelligence
almost human. He had the highest testimonials as to soundness of wind
and limb, and sweetness of temper, and was altogether just the very kind
of a pony to make a boy happy.

And yet all of his good points have not been recounted. He had a list of
accomplishments quite as long as his list of virtues, for at some
previous stage of his life he had, on account of his beauty and great
docility, been put in training for the circus; and although for some
reason or other he had never got so far as to make his appearance in the
saw-dust arena, he had been taught a great many tricks, and these he was
generally willing to perform, provided an apple or lump of sugar were
held out as a reward.

All this the groom explained while they were standing at the door, and
then the pony, having been sufficiently introduced, was led round to the
yard, and duly installed in his corner of the stable, Bert clinging as
close to him as if he feared he had wings like the fabled Pegasus,
and might fly away if not carefully watched.

[Illustration: "The pony was a beauty, just high enough for Bert to see
comfortably over his back."--_Page_ 256.]

The days that followed were days of unalloyed happiness to Bert. He, of
course, had to learn to ride "Brownie," as the pony was christened by
Mary, to whom was referred the question of a name. But it was an easy
matter learning to ride so gentle and graceful a creature. First at a
walk, then at a trot, then at a canter, and finally at full gallop, Bert
ere long made the circuit of the neighbouring squares; and as he became
more thoroughly at home he extended his rides to the Point, where there
were long stretches of tree-shaded road that seemed just intended for
being ridden over.

The best of it was that, as Bert prophesied, the wish being in his case
father to the thought, Mr. Bowser did follow Mr. Lloyd's example.

"I reckon I can stand a pony for my boy about as well as Lawyer Lloyd
can for his," said he to himself, pressing his hand upon a fat wallet in
his pocket, after Frank had been earnestly petitioning him, without
eliciting any favourable response. "There's no point in Frank's going on
foot while Bert's on horseback. I must see about it."

He gave poor disappointed Frank, however, no hint of what he had in
mind; and then one day he made him fairly wild with delight, by sending
home a pretty bay pony with a star in his forehead, which, although he
was not quite as handsome or accomplished as "Brownie," was an
excellent little animal, nevertheless. Oh, what proud, happy boys the
two friends were, the first day they rode out together! It was a lovely
afternoon, not too warm to make it hard upon the ponies, and they rode
right round the Point, and along the road skirting the arm of the sea,
going much farther than Bert had ever been before; now pattering along
the smooth dry road at a rattling pace, and now jogging on quietly with
the reins hanging loosely on the ponies' necks. If Bert's pony knew the
more tricks, Frank's showed the greater speed, so they both had
something to be especially proud of, and were content accordingly.

Brownie's performances were very amusing indeed, and after he and his
young master had become thoroughly acquainted, he would go through them
whenever called upon to do so. Often when the Lloyds had guests, they
would entertain them by having Bert put Brownie through his programme.
Then the cute little fellow would be at his best, for he evidently
enjoyed an appreciative audience quite as much as they did his feats. He
would begin by making a very respectful bow to the spectators, lifting
his pretty head as high as he could, and bringing it down until his nose
touched his breast. He would then, as commanded, "say his prayers,"
which he did by kneeling with his forefeet, and dropping his head upon
his knees; "knock at the door," which meant going up to the nearest
door, and knocking at it with his hoof until some one opened it; "walk
like a gentleman"--that is, rear up on his hind legs, and walk up and
down the yard; "go to sleep," by lying down and shutting his big brown
eyes tight; shake hands by gracefully extending his right hoof; allow a
cap to be placed on his head, and then sidle up and down the yard in the
most roguish way; and other little tricks no less amusing, which never
failed to elicit rounds of applause from the delighted spectators.

There were many ways in which Brownie endeared himself to every member
of the Lloyd family. If Mrs. Lloyd or Mary happened to come into the
yard when, as often happened, he was roaming about loose, he would go up
to them and rub his nose gently against their shoulder, thus saying as
plainly as could be, "Haven't you got a crust for me?" and the moment
Mr. Lloyd showed himself, Brownie's nose would be snuffing at his coat
pockets for the bit of apple or lump of sugar that rarely failed to be
there. As for his bearing toward Bert, it showed such affection,
obedience, and intelligence, that it is not to be wondered at, if the
boy sometimes asked himself if the "Houyhnhnms" of Gulliver's Travels
had not their counterpart in nature, after all.

Great, then, was the concern and sorrow when, after he had been just a
year with them, Brownie fell sick, and the veterinary surgeon said that
he must be sent away to the country to see if that would make him well
again. Bert sobbed bitterly when the little invalid was led away. He
would have dearly loved to accompany Brownie, but that could not be
managed, so there was nothing for it but to wait patiently at home for
the news from the sick pony.

Unhappily, the reports were not cheering. Each time they were less
hopeful, and at last one dull rainy day that Bert was long in
forgetting, the farmer came himself to say that despite his utmost care
dear little Brownie had died, and was now buried beneath a willow tree
in a corner of the pasture. Poor Bert! This was the first great grief of
his life. Had Brownie been a human companion, he could hardly have felt
his loss more keenly or sorrowed more sincerely. The little, empty
stall, the brass-mounted bridle, and steel-stirruped saddle hanging up
beside it, brought out his tears afresh every time he looked upon them.
Frank did his best to console him by offering him the use of his pony
whenever he liked; but, ah! though "Charlie" was a nice enough pony, he
could not fill the blank made by Brownie's loss.

In the meantime Mr. Lloyd had been making diligent inquiry about a
successor to Brownie, and had come to the conclusion to await the annual
shipment from Sable Island, and see if a suitable pony could not be
picked out from the number. The announcement of this did much to arouse
Bert from his low spirits, and as Mr. Lloyd told him about those Sable
Island ponies he grew more and more interested. They certainly have a
curious history. To begin with, nobody knows just how they got on that
strange, wild, desolate, sand bank that rises from the ocean about a
hundred miles to the east of Nova Scotia. Had they the power of speech,
and were they asked to give an account of themselves, they would
probably reply with Topsy that "they didn't know--they 'spects they
grow'd." There they are, however, to the number of several hundred, and
there they have been ever since anybody knew anything about Sable
Island. And such a place for ponies to be! It is nothing but a bank of
sand, not twenty-five miles long, by about one and a-half wide, covered
here and there with patches of dense coarse grass, wild pea vine, and
cranberry swamps. There are no trees, no brooks, no daisied meadows, and
through all seasons of the year the ponies are out exposed to the
weather, whether it be the furious snow storms of winter, the burning
heat of summer, or the mad gales of the autumn.

Once a year the Government officials who live upon the island, having
charge of the lighthouses and relief stations, for it is a terrible
place for wrecks, have what the Western ranchmen would call a "round-up"
of the ponies. They are all driven into a big "corral" at one end of the
island, and the best of the younger ones carefully culled out, the rest
being set free again. Those selected are then at the first opportunity
put on board a ship and carried off to Halifax, where rough, shaggy,
ungroomed, and untamed, they are sold at auction to the highest
bidders.

It was one of these ponies that Mr. Lloyd proposed to purchase for Bert.
The latter was an expert rider now, and could be intrusted with a much
more spirited animal than dear, little Brownie. The arrival of the
annual shipment was accordingly looked forward to by both Bert and his
father with a good deal of interest, Bert wondering if on the whole
shipload there would be anything to compare with Brownie, and Mr. Lloyd
hoping that he would be able to obtain a pony big enough to carry him if
he felt in the humour for a ride on a bright summer morning.



CHAPTER XXV.

ABOUT TWO KINDS OF PONIES.


In due time the Sable Island ponies arrived, and were announced to be
sold by auction, at the Government Wharf. Taking Bert with him, Mr.
Lloyd went down in time to have a good look at the shipment before the
sale commenced, so that he might have his mind made up before beginning
to bid. They certainly were a queer lot of little creatures. Not a
curry-comb had touched their hides since they were born, nor had the
shears ever been near their manes or tails. Their coats were long,
thick, and filled with dirt; their manes and tails of prodigious length,
and matted together in inextricable knots. They were of all colours, and
within certain limits of all sizes. Brown, bay, black, piebald, grey,
and sorrel. There was no lack of variety; and Mr. Lloyd and Bert
wandered up and down the long line as they stood tethered to the wall,
scrutinising them closely, and sorely puzzled as to which to decide
upon.

It was, of course, quite impossible to tell anything as to disposition,
for all the ponies seemed equally wild and terrified at their novel
situation; but, after going over them carefully, Mr. Lloyd decided upon
a very promising-looking black pony that stood near the middle of the
row. He was of a good size, seemed to be in better condition than many
of those around him, had a well-shaped head, and altogether presented
about as attractive an appearance as any in the lot.

There were numerous bidders at the auction, and Bert grew deeply
interested in the selling, as pony after pony was put up, and after a
more or less spirited contest, according to his looks, was knocked down
to the person that bid the highest for him. By the time the pony his
father had selected was reached, he was fairly trembling with
excitement. He was full of apprehension lest somebody else should take
him away from them, and when the bidding began, he watched every
movement and word of the auctioneer with breathless anxiety, raising
quite a laugh at one time, by answering his oft-repeated question "Will
anybody give me five? I have thirty--will anybody give me five?" with an
eager "I will!" that was easily heard by everybody in the crowd. It was
an immense relief to him, when, at length, after what seemed to him most
unnecessary persistence in trying to get more, the auctioneer called out
"Going, going, going, at thirty-five dollars. Will you give me any more?
Going at thirty-five--going, going, _gone_; and sold to Mr. Lloyd."

Thirty-five dollars does not seem very much to give for a pony; but
considering that this pony had everything to learn, and nobody to
guarantee his good behaviour, it was a fair enough price for him. The
getting him home proved to be quite a serious undertaking. The strange
sights and sounds of the city streets did not merely frighten him--they
positively crazed him for the time; and it took two strong men, one on
either side of his head, to guide him in safety to the stable. Once
securely fastened in the stall, he quieted down in time, but not one
bite of food would he touch that day, nor the next, although Bert tried
to tempt him with everything of which Brownie had been fond. This
troubled Bert very much. He began to fear his new pony would starve to
death. But his father reassured him.

"Don't be alarmed, my boy. The pony will find his appetite all right so
soon as he gets used to his new quarters," said Mr. Lloyd.

And sure enough on the third morning, Bert, to his great relief, found
the oat box licked clean, and the pony looking round wistfully for
something more to eat. After that, the difficulty lay rather in
satisfying than in tempting his appetite. He proved an insatiable eater.
But then nobody thought of stinting him, especially as his bones were
none too well covered.

It was with great difficulty that he could be persuaded to allow himself
to be groomed. He would start at the touch of the curry-comb, as though
it gave him an electric shock, and Michael, who combined in himself the
offices of groom and gardener, declared that "of all the pesky, fidgety
critters that ever stood on four legs, he never did see the like of this
'ere Sable Islander." Michael's opinion was not improved when he came to
break the little Sable Islander in, for he led him such a dance day
after day that his stout heart was well-nigh broken before the pony's
will showed any signs of being broken. However, patience and kindness,
combined with firmness, eventually won the day; and Michael, with
considerable pride announced that "Sable," as it had been decided to
call him, was ready for use.

Mr. Lloyd thought it best to ride Sable for a week or two before Bert
should mount him, and to this arrangement Bert was nothing loath, for
the pony's actions while in process of being broken in had rather
subdued his eagerness to trust himself upon him. As it chanced, Mr.
Lloyd came very near paying a severe penalty for his thoughtfulness. He
had been out several mornings on Sable, and had got along very well. One
morning while he was in the act of mounting, the gate suddenly slammed
behind him with a loud bang. The pony at once started off at full
gallop. Mr. Lloyd succeeded in throwing himself into the saddle, but
could not get his feet into the stirrups, and when the frightened
creature upon which he had so insecure a hold swerved sharply round at
the end of the street, he was hurled from his seat like a stone from a
catapult, and fell headlong, striking his right temple upon the hard
ground.

A few minutes later Mrs. Lloyd was startled by a hasty rap at the door,
and on opening it beheld her husband supported between two men, his face
ghastly pale, and stained with blood from a wound on his forehead. She
was a brave woman, and although her heart almost stood still with
agonised apprehension, she did not lose control of herself for an
instant. Directing Mr. Lloyd to be carried into the parlour and laid
gently upon the sofa, Mrs. Lloyd bathed his head and face while Mary
chafed his hands; and presently, to their unspeakable joy, he recovered
consciousness. Fortunately, his injuries proved to be comparatively
slight. Beyond a cut on his forehead, a bad headache, and a general
shaking up, he had suffered no material injury, and he would not listen
to Mrs. Lloyd's finding any fault with Sable for the accident.

"Tut! tut! Kate," said he; "the pony was not to blame at all. Any horse
might have been frightened by a gate banging to at his heels. The fault
was mine in not seeing that the gate was shut before I mounted. No; no,
you must not blame poor, little Sable."

Curiously enough, Bert had a somewhat similar experience shortly after
he began to ride Sable. At a little distance from the house was a hill
up which the street led, and then down the other side out into the
country. The ascent was pretty steep, the descent not so much so, and
Bert liked to walk his pony up to the top, and then canter down the
other side. One afternoon, just as he reached the summit, a little
street boy, probably by way of expressing the envy he felt for those who
could afford to ride, threw a stone at Sable, which struck him a
stinging blow on the hindquarters. Like an arrow from the bow, the pony
was off. Taking the bit in his teeth, and straightening his head out, he
went at full speed down the hill, Bert holding on for dear life with his
heart in his mouth, and his hat from his head.

In some way or other, he himself never knew exactly how, he got both his
feet out of the stirrups, and it was well for him he did, for just at
the bottom of the hill, when he was going like a greyhound, Sable
stopped short, lowered his head, flung up his heels, and, without the
slightest protest or delay, Bert went flying from the saddle, and landed
in the middle of the dusty road in a sitting posture with his legs
stretched out before him. The saucy pony paused just long enough to make
sure that his rider was disposed of beyond a doubt, and then galloped
away, apparently in high glee.

Bert was not hurt in the least. He had never sat down quite so
unexpectedly before, but the thick dust of the road made an excellent
cushion, and he was soon upon his feet, and in full cry after the
runaway. Thanks to a gentleman on horseback who had witnessed the whole
scene, and went immediately in chase of Sable, the latter was soon
recaptured, and Bert, having thanked his friend in need, and brushed
some of the dust from his clothes, remounted his mischievous steed, and
rode him for the rest of the afternoon.

After those two somewhat unpromising performances, Sable settled down
into very good habits, and during all the rest of the time that he was
in Bert's possession did not again disgrace himself by running away or
pitching anyone off his back. He never became the pet that Brownie had
been, but he was, upon the whole, a more useful animal, so that Bert
came to feel himself well compensated for his loss.

About this time Bert made the acquaintance of a pony of a very different
sort. How, indeed, it came to have this name does not seem to be very
clear, for what natural connection can be established between a
diminutive horse, and a discreditable method of reducing the
difficulties of a lesson in Latin or Greek? It would appear to be a very
unjust slur upon a very worthy little animal, to say the least.

Bert's first knowledge of the other kind of pony was when in the course
of his study of Latin he came to read Sallust. Cæsar he had found
comparatively easy, and with no other aid than the grammar and lexicon
he could, in the course of an hour or so, get out a fair translation of
the passage to be mastered. But Sallust gave him no end of trouble.
There was something in the involved obscure style of this old historian
that puzzled him greatly, and he was constantly being humiliated by
finding that when, after much labour, he had succeeded in making some
sort of sense out of a sentence, Dr. Johnston would pronounce his
translation altogether wrong, and proceed to read it in quite another
way.

As it happened, just when Bert was in the middle of those difficulties,
Mr. Lloyd was called away from home on important business which entailed
an absence for many weeks, and consequently Bert was deprived of his
assistance, which was always so willingly given.

He had been struggling with Sallust for some time, and was making but
very unsatisfactory headway, when one day, chancing to express to Regie
Selwyn his envy of the seeming ease with which the latter got along,
Regie looked at him with a knowing smile, and asked:

"Don't you know how I get my translation so pat?"

"No," replied Bert; "tell me, won't you?"

"Why, I use a pony, of course," responded Regie.

"A pony!" exclaimed Bert, in a tone of surprise. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, come now," said Regie, with an incredulous smile. "Do you mean to
say that you don't know what a pony is?"

"I do, really," returned Bert. "Please tell me, like a good fellow."

"Come along home with me after school, and I'll show you," said Regie.

"All right," assented Bert; "I will."

Accordingly, that afternoon when school had been dismissed, Bert
accompanied Regie home, and there the latter took him to his room, and
produced a book which contained the whole of Sallust turned into clear,
simple English.

"There," said he, placing the volume in Bert's hands; "that's what I
mean by a pony."

Bert opened the book, glanced at a page or two, took in the character of
its contents, and then, with a feeling as though he had touched a
serpent, laid it down again, saying:

"But do you think it's right to use this book in getting up your
Sallust, Regie?"

Regie laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

"Where's the harm, my boy. If you can't translate old Sallust by
yourself, you can't, that's all, and you've got to wait for Dr. Johnston
to do it for you. Now, mightn't you just as well get it out of this book
at once, and save all the trouble," he argued, glibly.

This was very fallacious reasoning, but somehow or other it impressed
Bert as having a good deal of force in it. The simple truth was that he
was willing to be convinced. But he did not feel quite satisfied yet.

"Then, of course, you never look at it until you have done your best to
get the lesson out without it?" he asked.

"That depends. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't," answered Regie,
in a tone that implied very plainly that the latter "sometimes" occurred
much more frequently than the former.

Bert took up the book again and fingered it thoughtfully.

"Could I get one if I wanted to?" he asked, presently.

"Why, of course," answered Regie. "There are many more at Gossip's where
I got this, I guess."

Bert said no more; and the two boys soon began talking about something
else.

For some days thereafter Bert was in a very perplexed state of mind. It
seemed as though "the stars in their courses" were fighting not against,
but in favour of his getting a "pony" for himself. His father's absence
was indefinitely prolonged, the Sallust grew more and more difficult,
and demanded so much time, that Bert's chance of winning one of the
prizes for general proficiency was seriously jeopardised.

Instead of dismissing the subject from his mind altogether, he fell to
reasoning about it, and then his danger really began, for the more he
reasoned, the weaker his defences grew. There seemed so much to be said
in favour of the pony; and, after all, if he did not resort to it until
he had done his best to work out the translation unaided, what would be
the harm?

Clearly Bert was in a perilous position. Right and wrong were strongly
contending for the victory, and much would depend upon the issue of the
conflict.



CHAPTER XXVI.

VICTORY WON FROM DEFEAT.


Bert had reached an age and stage of development when the raising of a
decided issue between right and wrong was a matter of vital consequence.
Although he had little more than rounded out a dozen years of life, his
natural bent of mind and the influences surrounding him had been such as
to make him seem at least two years older when compared with his
contemporaries. He thought much, and, considering his age, deeply. His
parents had always admitted him into full fellowship with themselves,
and he had thus acquired their way of thinking upon many subjects. Then
his religious training had been more than ordinarily thorough. The
influences and inspiration of a Christian home had been supplemented and
strengthened by the teaching at Sunday school of one who possessed a
rare gift in the management of boys. Mr. Silver not only understood his
boys: he was in hearty and complete sympathy with them; and the truth
came from him with peculiar force, as he met them Sunday after Sunday.

Bert therefore would appear to have everything in his favour when set
upon by the tempter, and it might seem strange that in this case he
should dally so long with the danger. But the fact is there were unusual
elements in this temptation, such as have been already set forth, and
Bert's course of action from the time when he first saw the translation
of Sallust in Regie Selwyn's room, until when at length after days of
indecision, of halting between two opinions, of now listening to, and
again spurning the suggestions of the tempter, he had a copy of the same
book hidden away in his own room, was but another illustration of the
familiar experience, that he who stops to argue with the tempter, has as
good as lost his case.

He tried hard to persuade himself that it was all right, and that it
would be all right, but nevertheless it was with none too easy a
conscience that he slipped into Gossip's one afternoon, and timidly
inquired for the Sallust translation. The clerk did not understand at
first, and when he asked Bert to repeat his question a cold shiver went
down the boy's back, for he felt sure the man must have divined his
purpose in procuring the book. But, of course, it was only an
unnecessary alarm, and soon with the volume under his arm, and breathing
much more freely, he was hastening homeward.

At first he kept very faithfully to the programme he had laid down of
not resorting to the "pony" until he had done his best without it. Then
little by little he fell into the way of referring to it whenever he
was at a loss regarding a word, until at last he came to depend upon it
altogether, and the fluent translations that won Dr. Johnston's
approbation day after day were really nothing better than stolen matter.

Yet all this time he was far from having peace of mind. That troublesome
conscience of his acted as though it would never become reconciled to
this method of studying the classics. On the contrary, it seemed to grow
increasingly sensitive upon the point. Finally the matter was brought to
a head in a very unsuspected manner.

No mention has been made in these pages of one who occupied a very large
place in Bert's affection and admiration--namely, the Rev. Dr. Chrystal,
the pastor of Calvary Church. Dr. Chrystal was a man of middle age and
medium height, with a countenance so winning and manners so attractive,
that Mr. Lloyd was wont to call him St. John, the beloved disciple,
because his name was John, and everybody who knew him loved him. It was
not merely by the elders of his congregation, who could fully appreciate
the breadth and soundness of his scholarship, the richness of his
rhetoric, and the warmth of his eloquence, but by the younger members
also, who loved his sunny smile, and hearty laugh, that Dr. Chrystal was
little short of worshipped.

Bert had been his warm admirer ever since the time when on his pastoral
visits he would take the little fellow up on his knee, and draw him out
about his own amusements and ambitions, giving such interested attention
to his childish prattle that Bert could not fail to feel he had in him a
real friend. As he grew older, his liking for the minister deepened. He
never had that foolish fear of "the cloth" which is so apt to be found
in boys of his age. Dr. Chrystal was a frequent visitor at Bert's home.
Mr. Lloyd was one of the main supporters of his church, and the two men
had much to consult about. Besides that, the preacher loved to discuss
the subjects of the day with the keen-witted, far-seeing lawyer, who
helped him to many a telling point for the sermon in preparation.

This, of course, was quite beyond Bert, but what he could and did fully
appreciate was the skill and strength with which Dr. Chrystal, having
laid aside his clerical coat, would handle a pair of sculls when he went
out boating with them, in the fine summer evenings.

"I tell you what it is, Frank," said he, enthusiastically to his friend
one day. "There's nothing soft about our minister. He can pull just as
well as any man in the harbour. That's the sort of minister I like.
Don't you?"

One Sunday evening, after Bert had been using his "pony" some little
time--for although his father had returned, he had come so to depend
upon it, that he continued to resort to it in secret--Dr. Chrystal
preached a sermon of more than usual power from the text, "Provide
things honest in the sight of all men." It was a frank, faithful
address, in which he sought to speak the truth in tenderness, and yet
with direct application to his hearers. If any among them were
disbelievers in the doctrine that honesty is the best policy, and acted
accordingly, they could hardly hope to dodge the arrows of argument and
appeal shot forth from the pulpit that evening.

Bert was one of the first to be transfixed. When the text was announced
he wriggled a bit, as though it pricked him somewhere; but when, further
on, Dr. Chrystal spoke in plain terms of the dishonesty of false
pretences, of claiming to be what you really are not, of seeking credit
for what is not actually your own work, Bert's head sank lower and
lower, his cheeks burned with shame, and, feeling that the speaker must
in some mysterious way have divined his guilty secret, and be preaching
directly at him, he sank back in his seat, and wished with wild longing
that he could run away from those flashing eyes that seemed to be
looking right through him, and from the sound of that clear, strong
voice, whose every tone went straight to his heart.

But, of course, there was no escape, and he had to listen to the sermon
to the end, although, had it been possible, he would gladly have thrust
his fingers in his ears that he might hear no more. He felt immensely
relieved when the service was over, and he could go out into the cool,
dark evening air. He was very silent as he walked home with his parents,
and so soon as prayers were over went off to his room, saying that he
was tired.

For the next few days there was not a more miserable boy in Halifax than
Cuthbert Lloyd. He was a prey to contending feelings that gave him not
one moment's peace. His better nature said, "Be manly, and confess." The
tempter whispered, "Be wise, and keep it to yourself." As for the cause
of all this trouble, it lay untouched in the bottom drawer of his
bureau. He could not bear to look at it, and he worked out his Sallust
as best he could, causing Dr. Johnston much surprise by the unexpected
mistakes he made in translating. He became so quiet and sober that his
mother grew quite concerned, and asked him more than once if he felt
ill, to which, with a pretence of a laugh, he replied:

"Not a bit of it. I'm all right."

But he wasn't all right, by any means, as his father's keen eyes soon
discovered. Mr. Lloyd, like his wife, thought at first that Bert's queer
ways must be due to ill health; but after watching him awhile he came to
the conclusion that the boy's trouble was mental, rather than physical,
and he determined to take the first opportunity of probing the matter.
The opportunity soon came. Mrs. Lloyd and Mary were out for the evening,
leaving Bert and his father at home. Bert was studying his lessons at
the table, while his father sat in the arm-chair near by, reading the
paper. Every now and then, as he bent over his books, Bert gave a deep
sigh that seemed to well up from the very bottom of his heart. Mr. Lloyd
noted this, and presently, laying his paper down, said, pleasantly:

"Bert, dear, put your lessons aside for a few minutes, and come over
here. I want to have a talk with you."

Bert started and flushed slightly, but obeyed at once, drawing his chair
close up beside his father's. Laying his hand upon Bert's knee, and
looking him full in the face, Mr. Lloyd asked:

"Now, Bert, tell me what's the matter with you? There's something on
your mind, I know; and it has not been your way to keep any secrets from
me. Won't you tell me what is troubling you?"

Bert fidgeted in his chair, the flush deepened in his face, his eyes
dropped before his father's searching gaze, and his hands worked
nervously. At last, with an apparent effort, he replied, in a low tone:

"There's nothing the matter with me, father."

Mr. Lloyd sighed, and looked troubled.

"Yes, there is, Bert. You know there is. Now, don't conceal it from me,
but speak right out. Remember your motto, Bert: 'Quit you like men.'"

The working of Bert's countenance showed clearly the struggle that was
going on within, and there was silence for a moment, while Mr. Lloyd
awaited his answer, praying earnestly the while that his boy might be
helped to do the right. Then, suddenly, Bert sprang up, darted toward
the door, and heeding not his father's surprised exclamation of--"Bert,
Bert, aren't you going to answer me?" ran up the stairs to his own room.
An instant more and he returned, bearing a volume which he placed in Mr.
Lloyd's hands; and then, throwing himself on the sofa, he buried his
head in the cushions, and burst into a passion of tears.

Bewildered by this unexpected action, Mr. Lloyd's first impulse was to
take his boy in his arms and try to soothe him. Then he bethought
himself of the book lying in his lap, and turned to it for an
explanation of the mystery. It was an innocent-enough looking volume,
and seemed at first glance to make matters no clearer, but as he held it
in his hands there came back to him the recollection of his own
schoolboy days, and like a flash the thing was plain to him. Bert had
been using a "pony," and in some way had come to realise the extent of
his wrong-doing.

With feelings divided between sorrow that his boy should fall a victim
to this temptation, and gladness that he should have the courage to
confess it, Mr. Lloyd went over to the sofa, lifted Bert up gently, and
placed him on the chair beside him.

"Come, now, Bert, dear," said he, in his tenderest tones, "don't be
afraid, but just tell me all about it."

In a voice much broken by sobs, Bert then told the whole story,
beginning with the first conversation with Regie Selwyn, and leaving out
nothing. His father listened intently, and it was clear the recital
moved him deeply. When it ended, he silently lifted up his heart in
praise to God that his darling boy had been delivered from so great a
danger, and he determined that Dr. Chrystal should not fail to hear how
effective his faithful preaching had been.

"I need not tell you, Bert, how sad this makes my heart, but I will not
add my reproaches to the remorse you already feel," said he, gravely.
"You have done very, very wrong, dear, and it is now your duty to make
that wrong right again, so far as is in your power. What do you think
yourself you ought to do?"

"I must ask God to forgive me, father," answered Bert, almost in a
whisper.

"But is that all? Is there no one else of whom you should ask
forgiveness?"

"Yes, of you."

"I have forgiven you already, Bert, for I know that you are sincerely
sorry. But I think there is some one else still. Ought you not to ask
Dr. Johnston's forgiveness?"

"Why, father," exclaimed Bert, looking up with an expression of
surprise, "Dr. Johnston does not know anything about it."

"Ah, yes, Bert, true enough; but remember that ever since you've been
using the translation you've been getting credit from him for work you
had not really done. Was that providing things honest in the sight of
all men, do you think?"

Bert flushed and looked down again. He was silent for a little while,
and then said:

"But, father, I could never tell Dr. Johnston. He is so stern and
severe."

"Do you think God will ever fully forgive you while you are concealing
from Dr. Johnston what you ought in common honesty to tell him?"

This question evidently staggered him, and Mr. Lloyd, seeing what a
struggle was going on within him, put his hand upon his shoulder, and
said, with tender emphasis:

"Remember, Bert: 'Quit you like men, be strong.'"

For a moment longer Bert seemed irresolute. Then suddenly his
countenance brightened, his features settled into an expression of firm
determination, and rising to his feet, with hands clenched and eyes
flashing, he stood before his father, and almost shouted:

"Yes, father, I will; I'll tell him. I don't care what he does to me."

"God bless you, my brave boy!" exclaimed Mr. Lloyd, as, almost
over-mastered by his emotions, he threw his arms around his neck, and
hugged him to his heart, the big tears pouring down his happy face.

Just at that moment the door opened, and Mrs. Lloyd and Mary entered.
Great was their surprise at the scene they witnessed. But they soon
understood it all, and when the whole story was known to them they were
no less thankful than Mr. Lloyd that Bert had come off conqueror in this
sharp struggle with the enemy of souls.

It was a hard task that lay before Bert, and he would have been
something more than mortal if his resolution did not falter as he
thought about it. But he strengthened himself by repeating the words
"Quit you like men, be strong," laying much emphasis on the latter
clause. His father thought it best for him to go very early the next
morning, taking the book with him, and to seek an interview with Dr.
Johnston before he went into the school.

Accordingly, in the morning, with throbbing heart and feverish pulse,
Bert knocked at the doctor's private entrance. On asking for the master
he was at once shown into the study, where the dread doctor was glancing
over the morning paper before he took up the work of the day.

"Well, Lloyd, what brings you here so early?" he asked, in some
surprise.

With much difficulty, and in broken sentences, Bert explained the object
of his visit, the doctor listening with an impassive countenance that
gave no hint of how the story affected him. When he had ended, Dr.
Johnston remained silent a moment as if lost in reflection, then placing
his hand upon the boy's shoulder, and looking at him with an expression
of deep tenderness such as Bert had never seen in his countenance
before, he said, in tones whose kindness there could be no mistaking:

"You have done well, Lloyd, to tell me this. I honour you for your
confession, and I feel confident that never so long as you are a pupil
in this school will you fall into like wrong-doing. You may tell your
father what I have said. Good-morning." And he turned away, perhaps to
hide something that made his eyes moist.

Feeling much as Christian must have felt when the burden broke from his
back and rolled into the sepulchre gaping to receive it, Bert went to
his seat in the schoolroom. The ordeal was over, and his penance
complete.

His frank penitence was destined to exert a far wider influence than he
ever imagined, and that immediately. The volume he placed in Dr.
Johnston's hands set the master thinking. "If," he reasoned, "Bert
Lloyd, one of the best boys in my school, has fallen into this
wrong-doing, it must be more common than I supposed. Perhaps were I to
tell the school what Lloyd has just told me, it might do good. The
experiment is worth trying, at all events."

Acting upon this thought, Dr. Johnston, shortly after the school had
settled down for the day's work, rapped upon his desk as a signal that
he had something to say to the scholars, and then, when the attention of
all had been secured, he proceeded to tell, in clear, concise language,
the incident of the morning. Many eyes were turned upon Bert while the
doctor was speaking, but he kept his fixed closely upon his desk, for he
knew that his cheeks were burning, and he wondered what the other boys
were thinking of him. In concluding, Dr. Johnston made the following
appeal, which was indeed his chief purpose in mentioning the matter at
all:

"Now, scholars," said he, in tones of mingled kindliness and firmness,
"I feel very sure that Lloyd is not the only boy in this school who has
been using a translation to assist him in his classical work, and my
object in telling you what he told me is that it may perhaps inspire
those who have been doing as he did to confess it in the manly, honest
way that he has done, and for which we must all honour him. Boys, I
appeal to your honour," he continued, raising his voice until it rang
through the room, startling his hearers by its unaccustomed volume. "Who
among you, like Bert Lloyd, will confess that you have been using a
translation?"

There was a thrilling silence, during which one might almost have heard
the boys' hearts beat as the doctor paused, and with his piercing eyes
glanced up and down the long rows of awe-stricken boys. For a moment no
one moved. Then there was a stir, a shuffling of feet, and Regie Selwyn,
with cheeks aflame, rose slowly in his seat, and said in a low but
distinct voice:

"I have, sir."

A gleam of joy flashed in the doctor's dark eyes as he looked toward the
speaker, but he said nothing. Then another and another rose and made a
like confession, until some six in all had thus acknowledged their
fault. There was no mistaking the pleasure that shone in the master's
face at this answer to his appeal. When it became clear that, however
many more might be no less guilty, no more were going to confess it, he
spoke again:

"While it grieves me to know that the use of translations has been so
extensive, I am also glad to find that so many of my boys possess the
true spirit of manliness. I ask them to promise me that they will never
look at those books again, and if there be others in the school who
might have admitted the same impropriety, but have not, I appeal to you
to show by your contempt of such helps your determination that nothing
but what is honest, fair, and manly shall characterise the actions of
the scholars of this school."

And with this the doctor resumed his seat.



CHAPTER XXVII.

ABOUT LITERATURE AND LAW.


Five years had passed since Cuthbert Lloyd's name was first inscribed in
the big register on Dr. Johnston's desk, and he had been surely,
steadily rising to the proud position of being the first boy in the
school, the "_dux_," as the doctor with his love for the classics
preferred to call it.

And yet there were some branches of study that he still seemed unable to
get a good hold upon, or make satisfactory progress with. One of these
was algebra. For some reason or other, the hidden principles of this
puzzling science eluded his grasp, as though a and x had been eels of
phenomenal activity. He tried again and again to pierce the obscurity
that enshrouded them, but at best with imperfect success; and it was a
striking fact that he should, term after term, carry off the arithmetic
prize by splendid scores, and yet be ingloriously beaten at algebra.

Another subject that became a great bugbear to him was what was known as
composition. On Fridays the senior boys were required to bring an
original composition, covering at least two pages of letter paper, upon
any subject they saw fit. This requirement made that day "black Friday"
for Bert and many others besides. The writing of a letter or composition
is probably the hardest task that can be set before a schoolboy. It was
safe to say that in many cases a whipping would be gratefully preferred.
But for the disgrace of the thing, Bert would certainly rather at any
time have taken a mild whipping than sit down and write an essay.

At the first, taking pity upon his evident helplessness, Mr. Lloyd gave
him a good deal of assistance, or allowed Mary--the ever-willing and
ever-helpful Mary--to do so. But after a while he thought Bert should
run alone, and prohibited further aid. Thus thrown upon his own
resources, the poor fellow struggled hard, to very little purpose. Even
when his father gave him a lift to the extent of suggesting a good
theme, he found it almost impossible to write anything about it.

One Friday he went without having prepared a composition. He hoped that
Dr. Johnston would just keep him in after school for a while, or give
him an "imposition" of fifty lines of Virgil to copy as a penalty, and
that that would be an end of the matter. But, as it turned out, the
doctor thought otherwise. When Bert presented no composition he inquired
if he had any excuse, meaning a note from his father asking that he be
excused this time. Bert answered that he had not.

"Then," said Dr. Johnston, sternly, "you must remain in after school
until your composition is written."

Bert was a good deal troubled by this unexpected penalty, but there was
of course no appeal from the master's decision. The school hours passed,
three o'clock came, and all the scholars save those who were kept in for
various shortcomings went joyfully off to their play, leaving the big,
bare, dreary room to the doctor and his prisoners. Then one by one, as
they met the conditions of their sentence, or made up their deficiencies
in work, they slipped quietly away, and ere the old yellow-faced clock
solemnly struck the hour of four, Bert was alone with the grim and
silent master.

He had not been idle during that hour. He had made more than one attempt
to prepare some sort of a composition, but both ideas and words utterly
failed him. He could not even think of a subject, much less cover two
pages of letter paper with comments upon it. By four o'clock despair had
settled down upon him, and he sat at his desk doing nothing, and waiting
he hardly knew for what.

Another hour passed, and still Bert had made no start, and still the
doctor sat at his desk absorbed in his book and apparently quite
oblivious of the boy before him. Six o'clock drew near, and with it the
early dusk of an autumn evening. Bert was growing faint with hunger,
and, oh! so weary of his confinement. Not until it was too dark to read
any longer did Dr. Johnston move; and then, without noticing Bert, he
went down the room, and disappeared through the door that led into his
own apartments.

"My gracious!" exclaimed Bert, in alarm. "Surely he is not going to
leave me here all alone in the dark. I'll jump out of the window if he
does."

But that was not the master's idea, for shortly he returned with two
candles, placed one on either side of Bert's desk, then went to his
desk, drew forth the long, black strap, whose cruel sting Bert had not
felt for years, and standing in front of the quaking boy, looking the
very type of unrelenting sternness, said:

"You shall not leave your seat until your composition is finished, and
if you have not made a beginning inside of five minutes you may expect
punishment."

So saying, he strode off into the darkness, and up and down the long
room, now filled with strange shadows, swishing the strap against the
desks as he passed to and fro. Bert's feelings may be more easily
imagined than described. Hungry, weary, frightened, he grasped his pen
with trembling fingers, and bent over the paper.

For the first minute or two not a word was written. Then, as if struck
by some happy thought, he scribbled down a title quickly and paused. In
a moment more he wrote again, and soon one whole paragraph was done.

The five minutes having elapsed, the doctor emerged from the gloom and
came up to see what progress had been made. He looked over Bert's
shoulder at the crooked lines that straggled over half the page, but he
could not have read more than the title, when the shadows of the great
empty room were startled by a peal of laughter that went echoing through
the darkness, and clapping the boy graciously upon his back, the master
said:

"That will do, Lloyd. The title is quite sufficient. You may go now;"
for he had a keen sense of humour and a thorough relish of a joke, and
the subject selected by Bert was peculiarly appropriate, being
"Necessity is the Mother of Invention."

Mr. Lloyd was so delighted with Bert's ingenuity that thenceforth he
gave him very effective assistance in the preparation of his weekly
essays, and they were no longer the bugbear that they had been.

It was not long after this that Bert had an experience with the law not
less memorable.

In an adjoining street, there lived a family by the name of Dodson, that
possessed a very large, old, and cross Newfoundland dog, which had, by
its frequent exhibitions of ill-temper, become quite a nuisance to the
neighbourhood. They had often been spoken to about their dog's readiness
to snap at people, but had refused to chain him up, or send him away,
because they had a lively aversion to small boys, and old Lion was
certainly successful in causing them to give the Dodson premises a wide
berth.

One afternoon Bert and Frank were going along the street playing catch
with a ball the former had just purchased, when, as they passed the
Dodson house, a wild throw from Frank sent the ball out of Bert's reach,
and it rolled under the gate of the yard. Not thinking of the irascible
Lion in his haste to recover the ball, Bert opened the gate, and the
moment he did so, with a fierce growl the huge dog sprang at him and
fastened his teeth in his left cheek.

Bert shrieked with fright and pain, and in an instant Frank was beside
him, and had his strong hands tight round Lion's throat. Immediately the
old dog let Bert go, and slunk off to his kennel, while Frank, seizing
his handkerchief, pressed it to the ugly wound in Bert's cheek. Great
though the pain was, Bert quickly regained his self-possession, and
hastening home had his wounds covered with plaster. Fortunately, they
were not in any wise serious. They bled a good deal, and they promised
to spoil his beauty for a time at least, but, as there was no reason to
suppose that the dog was mad, that was the worst of them.

Mr. Lloyd was very much incensed when he saw Bert's injuries, and heard
from him and Frank the particulars of the affair. He determined to make
one more appeal to the Dodsons to put the dog away, and if that were
unsuccessful, to call upon the authorities to compel them to do so.

[Illustration: "With a fierce growl the huge dog sprang at him, and
fastened his teeth in his left cheek."--_Page_ 292.]

Another person who was not less exercised about it was Michael, the man
of all work. He was very fond and proud of the young master, as he
called Bert, and that a dog should dare to put his teeth into him filled
him with righteous wrath. Furthermore, like many of his class, he firmly
believed in the superstition that unless the dog was killed at once,
Bert would certainly go mad. Mr. Lloyd laughed at him good-humouredly
when he earnestly advocated the summary execution of Lion, and refused
to have anything to do with it. But the faithful affectionate fellow was
not to be diverted from his purpose, and accordingly the next night
after the attack, he stealthily approached the Dodson yard from the
rear, got close to old Lion's kennel, and then threw down before his
very nose a juicy bit of beefsteak, in which a strong dose of poison had
been cunningly concealed. The unsuspecting dog took the tempting bait,
and the next morning lay stiff and stark in death, before his kennel
door.

When the Dodsons found their favourite dead, they were highly enraged;
and taking it for granted that either Mr. Lloyd or some one in his
interest or his employ was guilty of Lion's untimely demise, Mr. Dodson,
without waiting to institute inquiries, rushed off to the City Police
Court, and lodged a complaint against the one who he conceived was the
guilty party.

Mr. Lloyd was not a little surprised when, later in the morning, a
blue-coated and silver-buttoned policeman presented himself at his
office, and, in the most respectful manner possible, served upon him a
summons to appear before the magistrate to answer to a complaint made by
one Thomas Dodson, who alleged that he "had with malice prepense and
aforethought killed or caused to be killed a certain Newfoundland dog,
the same being the property of the said Thomas Dodson, and thereby
caused damage to the complainant, to the amount of one hundred dollars."

So soon as Mr. Lloyd read the summons, which was the first intimation he
had had of Lion's taking off, he at once suspected who was the real
criminal. But of course he said nothing to the policeman beyond assuring
him that he would duly appear to answer to the summons.

That evening he sent for Michael, and without any words of explanation
placed the summons in his hand. The countenance of the honest fellow as
he slowly read it through and took in its import was an amusing study.
Bewilderment, surprise, indignation, and alarm were in turn expressed in
his frank face, and when he had finished he stood before Mr. Lloyd
speechless, but looking as though he wanted to say: "What will you be
after doing to me now, that I've got you into such a scrape?"

Assuming a seriousness he did not really feel, Mr. Lloyd looked hard at
Michael, as he asked:

"Do you know anything about this?"

Michael reddened, and dropped his eyes to the ground, but answered,
unhesitatingly:

"I do, sir. It was meself that gave the old brute the dose of medicine
that fixed him."

"But, Michael," said Mr. Lloyd, with difficulty restraining a smile, "it
was not right of you to take the law into your own hands in that way.
You knew well enough that I could not approve of it."

"I did, indeed, sir," answered Michael, "but," lifting up his head as
his warm Irish heart stirred within him, "I couldn't sleep at night for
thinking of what might happen to the young master if the dog weren't
killed; and, so unbeknownst to anybody, I just slipped over the fence,
and dropped him a bit of steak that I knew he would take to kindly. I'm
very sorry, sir, if I've got you into any trouble, but sure can't you
just tell them that it was Michael that did the mischief, and then they
won't bother you at all."

"No, no, Michael. I'm not going to do that. You meant for the best what
you did, and you did it for the sake of my boy, so I will assume the
responsibility; but I hope it will be a lesson to you not to take the
law into your own hands again. You see it is apt to have awkward
consequences."

"That's true, sir," assented Michael, looking much relieved at this
conclusion. "I'll promise to be careful next time, but--" pausing a
moment as he turned to leave the room--"it's glad I am that that cross
old brute can't have another chance at Master Bert, all the same." And
having uttered this note of triumph, he made a low bow and disappeared.

Mr. Lloyd had a good laugh after the door closed upon him.

"He's a faithful creature," he said, kindly; "but I'm afraid his
fidelity is going to cost me something this time. However, I won't make
him unhappy by letting him know that."

The trial was fixed for the following Friday, and that day Bert was
excused from school in order to be present as a witness. His scars were
healing rapidly, but still presented an ugly enough appearance to make
it clear that worthy Michael's indignation was not without cause.

Now, this was the first time that Bert had ever been inside a
court-room; and, although his father was a lawyer, the fact that he made
a rule never to carry his business home with him had caused Bert to grow
up in entire ignorance of the real nature of court proceedings. The only
trials that had ever interested him being those in which the life or
liberty of the person most deeply concerned was at stake, he had
naturally formed the idea that all trials were of this nature, and
consequently regarded with very lively sympathy the defendants of a
couple of cases that had the precedence of "Dodson _v._ Lloyd."

Feeling quite sure that the unhappy individuals who were called upon to
defend themselves were in a very evil plight, he was surprised and
shocked at the callous levity of the lawyers, and even of the
magistrate, a small-sized man, to whom a full grey beard, a pair of
gold-bowed spectacles, and a deep voice imparted an air of dignity he
would not otherwise have possessed. That they should crack jokes with
each other over such serious matters was something he could not
understand, as with eyes and ears that missed nothing he observed all
that went on around him.

At length, after an hour or more of waiting, the case of "Dodson _v._
Lloyd" was called, and Bert, now to his deep concern, beheld his father
in the same position as had been the persons whom he was just pitying;
for the magistrate, looking, as Bert thought, very stern, called upon
him to answer to the complaint of Thomas Dodson, who alleged, &c., &c.,
&c.

Mr. Lloyd pleaded his own cause, and it was not a very heavy
undertaking, for the simple reason that he made no defence beyond
stating that the dog had been poisoned by his servant without his
knowledge or approval, and asking that Bert's injuries might be taken
into account in mitigation of damages. The magistrate accordingly asked
Bert to go into the witness-box, and the clerk administered the oath,
Bert kissing the greasy, old Bible that had in its time been touched by
many a perjured lip, with an unsophisticated fervour that brought out a
smile upon the countenances of the spectators.

He was then asked to give his version of the affair. Naturally enough,
he hesitated a little at first, but encouraged by his father's smiles,
he soon got over his nervousness, and told a very plain, straightforward
story. Mr. Dodson's lawyer, a short, thick man with a nose like a
paroquet's, bushy, black whiskers, and a very obtrusive pair of
spectacles, then proceeded, in a rough, hard voice, to try his best to
draw Bert into admitting that he had been accustomed to tease the dog,
and to throw stones at him. But although he asked a number of questions
beginning with a "Now, sir, did you not?" or, "Now, sir, can you deny
that?" &c., uttered in very awe-inspiring tones, he did not succeed in
shaking Bert's testimony in the slightest degree, or in entrapping him
into any disadvantageous admission.

At first Bert was somewhat disconcerted by the blustering, brow-beating
manner of the lawyer, but after a few questions his spirits rose to the
occasion, and he answered the questions in a prompt, frank, fearless
fashion, that more than once evoked a round of applause from the
lookers-on. He had nothing but the truth to tell and his cross-examiner
ere long came to the conclusion that it was futile endeavouring to get
him to tell anything else; and so, with rather bad grace, he gave it up,
and said he might go.

Before leaving the witness-box Bert removed the bandages from his
cheek, and exhibited the marks of the dog's teeth to the magistrate, the
sight of which, together with the boy's testimony, made such an
impression upon him that he gave as his decision that he would dismiss
the case if Mr. Lloyd would pay the costs, which the latter very readily
agreed to do; and so the matter ended--not quite to the satisfaction of
Mr. Dodson, but upon the whole in pretty close accordance with the
strict principles of right and justice.

Michael was very greatly relieved when he heard the result, for he had
been worrying a good deal over what he feared Mr. Lloyd might suffer in
consequence of his excess of zeal.

"So they got nothing for their old dog, after all," he exclaimed, in
high glee. "Well, they got as much as he was worth at all events,
and"--sinking his voice to a whisper--"between you and me, Master Bert,
if another dog iver puts his teeth into you, I'll be after givin' him
the same medicine, so sure as my name's Michael Flynn."



CHAPTER XXVIII.

WELL DONE, BOYS!


There comes a time in the life of nearly every boy who attends Sunday
school when, no matter how faithful to it he may have been, he finds
gradually stealing in upon him the feeling that he is growing too old
for it, and he becomes restive under its restraints. He sees other boys
of the same age going off for a pleasant walk, or otherwise spending the
afternoon as they please, and he envies them their freedom. He thinks
himself already sufficiently familiar with Bible truth for all practical
purposes, and the lessons lose their interest for him. He has perhaps no
ambition for becoming a teacher, nor even of being promoted to a chair
in the Bible class.

How best to meet the case of this boy, and save him to the Sunday school
is one of the most difficult questions that present themselves to those
engaged in that work. You must not scold him or you will infallibly
drive him away at once and for ever. Neither is it wise to seek to bring
into play influences that will compel him to attend _nolens volens_, for
that will but deepen his dislike, and make him long the more eagerly
for the time when he will be his own master in the matter.

There seem to be but two possible solutions of the problem. You must
either appeal to the boy's natural sense of independence, and desire for
importance by making some special provision for him that will mark a
distinction between him and the younger folk, or you must, by going far
deeper, reach the spiritual side of his nature, and through it secure
his fidelity to the school.

To Bert this temptation had not presented itself. He no more thought of
tiring of the Sunday school than he did of his own home. He had attended
regularly ever since his sister Mary would take him with her, and put
him in the infant class, and it might be said to have become second
nature with him.

With Frank, however, it was different. He had never gone to Sunday
school until Bert invited him, and although for some years he was very
fond of it, that fondness in time had fallen into an indifference, and
of late he had a decided disinclination to go at all. This was not due
so much to any resistance to the claims of religion itself, but rather
to a foolish idea that he was now too old and too big for Sunday school.

Bert took his friend's change of feeling very much to heart, and he
pleaded with him so earnestly, that for some time Frank continued in
his place just to please him. But this of course could not last, and he
was in danger of drifting away altogether, when an event occurred which
turned the current of his life and set it flowing once more in the right
direction, this time with a volume it had never known before.

It was a pleasant custom at Calvary Church to give the Sunday school a
picnic every summer, and these picnics were most enjoyable affairs. A
better place than Halifax Harbour for the holding of a picnic could
hardly be conceived. You go, of course, by steamer, and then have the
choice of some half-dozen different routes, each having its own
attractions. You might go right up to the head of the big basin that
stretched away eight miles or more beyond the north end of the city, and
there land, amid the meadows that are bordered by the unbroken forest,
or you might stop half-way, and invade the old estate that had once been
proud to claim a prince as its possessor.

Steering in the opposite direction, you might go around the Point, and
piercing the recesses of the ever-beautiful arm of the sea, find a
perfect picnic ground at its farthest bend; or, crossing the harbour,
there were lovely spots to be secured on the big, tree-clad island that
well-nigh filled the harbour mouth.

This year it had been decided to hold the picnic at the head of the arm.
The time was August, just when the cool sea-breeze and the balmy breath
of the pines are most grateful to the dwellers in cities. To the number
of four hundred or more, a happy crowd of Sunday-school scholars and
teachers, and their friends gathered upon the broad deck of the clumsy
old _Mic-mac_, an excursion steamer that had done duty on this line for
a generation, at least. Each class had its own banner, as a sort of
rallying point, and these, with the pretty dresses and bright ribbons of
the girls, imparted plenty of colour to the scene, while the boys gave
life to it by being incessantly on the move, and never in one spot for
more than one minute at a time.

Bert and Frank were in the midst of the merry crowd, and in the highest
spirits. They were neither of them by any means indifferent to the
fascination of feminine beauty and grace, and it was easy to secure the
most delightful companionship on board the boat, which they did not fail
to do. Then they had the games and sports to look forward to, after the
picnic ground should be reached, and altogether their cup of happiness
seemed well-nigh brimming over. They little dreamed how ere the day
closed they would both be brought face to face with the deadliest peril
of their lives.

Joyous with music and laughter, the big boat pushed her way onward over
the white-capped waves, past the fort and the gas works, and the long
stretch of the Point road; and then giving the point itself a wide
berth--for the shallows extend far out--around it, and up the winding
arm, with its line of stately homes on one side, and scattered clusters
of white-washed cottages on the other, until almost at its very end, the
landing-place was reached, and the gay passengers gladly deserted the
steamer to seek the cool shelter of the woods.

There was a wonderful amount of happiness crowded into that day. All who
wanted to be useful found plenty of scope for their talents in the
transporting of the provisions, the arranging of the tables, the hanging
of the swings, and the other work that had to be done, while those who
preferred play to work, could go boating, or swimming, or play ball, and
so forth.

The two friends went in for both work and play. They gave very efficient
help to the ladies in preparing for the dinner, but they did not miss a
grand swim in the cool, clear water of a sequestered cove, nor an
exciting game of baseball in the open field.

After dinner came the sports, consisting of competitions in running,
jumping, and ball throwing, for which prizes in the shape of knives,
balls, and bats were offered. Bert and Frank took part in several of
them with satisfactory results, Frank winning a fine knife in the long
distance race, and Bert a good ball for the best throw, so that there
was nothing to mar their pleasure in this regard.

By sunset all were making for the boat again, and in the soft summer
gloaming the old _Mic-Mac_ steamed steadily down the arm on her
homeward trip. Many of the children were weary now, and inclined to be
cross and sleepy. Others were still full of life and spirits, and could
not be restrained from chasing one another up and down the deck and
among the benches. But their merriment was ere long suddenly ended by an
event which came near casting a dark cloud over the whole day, that had
hitherto been no less bright with happiness than with sunshine.

Bert and Frank had joined a group of charming girls gathered at the
stern of the steamer, and while pleasantly employed in making themselves
agreeable were more than once disturbed by the noisy youngsters, who
would persist in playing "chase."

"Some of you will be falling overboard if you don't take care," said
Bert, warningly, to them. "Why don't you keep in the middle of the
steamer?"

There was good ground for Bert's warning, as, across the stern of the
old steamer, which had been a ferry boat in her early days, there was
only a broad wooden bar placed so high that a child might almost walk
under it without stooping.

But the careless children continued their play as the _Mic-Mac_ ploughed
her way back to the city. Presently a troop of them came racing down to
the stern in chase of a golden-haired sprite, that laughingly ran before
them. She was closely pursued by a boy about her own age, and in her
eagerness to escape him she dodged underneath the bar that marked the
line of safety. As she did so, the steamer gave a sudden lurch; and,
poised perilously near the edge as the girl already was, it proved too
much for her balance. She uttered a terrified shriek, grasped vainly at
the bar now quite out of her reach, and, to the horror of those looking
helplessly on, toppled over into the frothing, foaming water of the
steamer's wake.

Instantly there was wild confusion on board the steamer. Scream after
scream went up from the women, and all who could crowded madly toward
the stern. If the girl was to be saved, immediate action was necessary.
Bert did not stop to think. He could swim strongly and well. He would
attempt her rescue.

"Frank, I'm after her," he cried, as he flung off his coat and hat.

"I'm with you," answered Frank, imitating his action; and before anyone
else had thought of moving, the two boys, almost side by side, sprang
into the heaving water with faces set toward the spot where a cloud of
white showed them the little girl still floated. Putting forth all their
speed, they reached her ere the buoyancy had left her clothing, and each
seizing an arm of the poor child, who had just fainted through excess of
fright, they prepared to battle for her life and their own.

They realised at once that it was to be no easy struggle. The steamer
had been going at full speed, and although the engines were reversed at
the first alarm, the impetus of her awkward bulk had carried her far
away from the spot where the girl fell; and now the boys could just
barely discern her through the deepening dusk. The harbour had been
rough all day, and the waters still rolled uneasily. Fortunately, it was
not very cold, or the swimmers' case had been well-nigh hopeless. As it
was, the only chance of their deliverance hung upon their endurance. If
their strength held out, they and the little one they had put themselves
in peril to rescue would be saved.

She continued to be unconscious, her pretty face, that was so bright and
rosy a few minutes before, now looking strangely white and rigid, and
her golden curls clinging darkly about her neck, her broad straw hat,
all water-soaked and limp, hanging over on one side.

"Surely she can't be dead already?" exclaimed Bert, anxiously, to Frank,
as the two boys kept her and themselves afloat by treading water, one at
either arm.

"No," replied Frank, "only fainted. But if the steamer doesn't come
soon, she will be; and so will we too."

"Never fear, Frank, the steamer will be back for us soon. I think I can
hear her paddles now," said Bert, in cheering tones; and they listened
intently for a moment, but heard nothing save the soft lapping of the
waves all around them. Then Frank spoke:

"Bert," he asked, "are you afraid to die?"

Bert started at the question. He had not thought of dying, and life was
so precious to him.

"We're not going to die, Frank. God will take care of us," he answered,
quickly.

"Yes, but if the steamer shouldn't get back to us in time, Bert,"
persisted Frank, who seemed to be already losing hope, "aren't you
afraid to die?"

"I don't want to, but I'm not afraid to," Bert replied, after a pause;
for it was not easy to talk when every exertion had to be put forth to
keep above the water.

"But, Bert, I am afraid," said Frank, with a groan. "I've been so
wicked."

"No, you haven't, Frank; and even if you have, God will forgive you now.
Ask Him right away."

"Oh, I can't--it's too late; I cannot pray now," cried poor Frank, in a
voice that sounded like a wail of despair.

"It's not too late. Come, Frank, dear, we'll both pray to God to have
mercy upon us," urged Bert; and inspired by his earnestness, Frank
obeyed. And there, in the midst of the waves, with their senseless
burden between them, the two boys lifted up their souls in supplication
to their Omnipotent Father--Bert with the confidence that came of past
experience, Frank with the agonised entreaty of one praying in sore
need, and, for the first time, with the whole heart. A strange place for
a prayer meeting, indeed; but they were as near the great heart of God
as though they had been in His grandest cathedral, and the answer to
their earnest pleading was already on its way.

When the two young heroes leaped into the water, there had at first been
great confusion on board the _Mic-Mac_, but a minute or two later the
captain's gruff voice was heard roaring out orders. The paddles that had
been thrashing the waves so vigorously suddenly stopped, were silent for
a moment, and then recommenced; but now they were bearing the steamer
backward instead of forward.

"Get ready the boat for launching," thundered the captain. And
half-a-dozen men sprang to obey.

"Light a couple of lanterns," he shouted again. And in an instant it was
done.

"Reeve a long line round one of them life preservers, and stand ready
for a throw," he cried to the mate. And almost before he had finished
speaking the mate stood ready.

"Now, then, clear away there all of you," he growled at the excited
crowd that pressed toward the stern, and they fell back, allowing him
clear space, while he swung the lantern out before him, and peered into
the dusk that obscured his view.

"Let her go easy now," he shouted, and the steamer moved slowly on, a
profound silence falling upon the crowd of passengers as they watched
with throbbing eagerness for the first sign of the imperiled ones being
sighted.

Gazing hard into the gloom, the keen-eyed captain caught sight of a
gleam of white upon the water.

"Stop her!" he roared, with a voice like that of the north wind. "Hand
me that life preserver!"--turning to the mate who stood near him. The
mate obeyed, and coiling the long rope ready for a throw the captain
waited, while the steamer drew nearer to the speck of white.

"Look out there!" he cried to the boys in the water. "Lay hold of this."
And swinging the big life preserver around his head as though it had
been a mere toy, he hurled it far out before him, where the beams of
light from the lantern showed not one but three white objects scarce
above the surface of the water.

"Look sharp now! lay hold there!" he cried again, and then: "All right.
Keep your grip, and we'll have you in a minute." Then turning to those
behind him: "Lower that boat--quick!"

The davits creaked and groaned as the ropes spun through the blocks;
there was a big splash when the boat struck the water, a few fierce
strokes of the oars, and then a glad shout of, "All right; we've got
them," in response to which cheer upon cheer rang out from the throng
above, now relieved from their intense anxiety.

A few minutes later, three dripping forms were carefully handed up the
side, and taken into the warm engine room, the little girl still
unconscious, and the boys so exhausted as to be not far from the same
condition.

Their rescue had been effected just in time. A little more, and utterly
unable to keep themselves afloat any longer, they would have sunk
beneath the pitiless waves.

"It seemed awful to have to die that way," said Bert, when telling his
parents about it. "I was getting weaker and weaker all the time, and so,
too, was Frank, and I thought we'd have to let the poor little girl go,
and strike out for ourselves. But we kept praying hard to God to help
us; and then all of a sudden I saw a light, and I said to Frank,
'There's the steamer--hold on a little longer;' and then I could hear
the sound of the paddles, and the next thing the captain shouted to us
and flung us a life preserver, and we got a good grip of that, and held
on until the boat took us all in."

The heroic action of the two boys made them famous in Halifax. The
newspapers printed columns in their praise, a handsome subscription was
taken up in a day to present them each with a splendid gold medal
commemorating the event; important personages, who had never noticed
them before, stopped them on the street to shake hands with them, and
what really pleased them most of all, Dr. Johnston gave the school a
holiday in their honour, having just delivered an address, in which,
with flashing eyes and quivering lips, he told the other scholars how
proud he felt of Frank and Bert, and how he hoped their schoolmates
would show the same noble courage if they ever had a like opportunity.

The parents of the little one they rescued were plain people of limited
means, but they could not deny themselves the luxury of manifesting
their gratitude in some tangible form. Accordingly, they had two
pictures of their daughter prepared, and placed in pretty frames,
bearing the expressive inscription, "Rescued," with the date beneath;
and the mother herself took them to the boys, the tears that bathed her
cheeks as she presented them telling far better than any words could do,
how fervent was her gratitude.

Deeply as Frank had been moved at being brought through his own generous
impulse into such close quarters with death, the excitement and bustle
of the days immediately following the event so filled his mind that the
impression bade fair to pass away again, leaving him no better than he
had been before. But it was not God's purpose that this should be the
result. Before the good effects of that brief prayer meeting in the
water were entirely dissipated, another influence came to their support.
Although he knew it not, he was approaching the great crisis of his
life, and by a way most unexpected; he was shortly to be led into that
higher plane of existence, toward which he had been slowly tending
through the years of his friendship with Bert.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW.


A day or two after the rescue Bert began to show signs of what he took
to be simply a slight cold in the chest. At first there was only a
little pain, and a rather troublesome feeling of oppression, which did
not give him much concern, and having applied to his mother, and had her
prescribe for him, he assumed that it was the natural consequence of his
sudden plunge into the cold water, and would soon pass away. But instead
of doing so the pain and oppression increased, and the family doctor had
to be called in for his opinion. Having examined the young patient
carefully, Dr. Brown decided that he was threatened with an attack of
inflammation of the lungs, and that the best thing for him to do was to
go right to bed, and stay there until the danger was over.

Here was a new experience for Bert. He had never spent a day in bed
before, his only previous sickness having been a siege of the mumps, and
they merely made him a prisoner in the house until his face regained
its usual size. But now he was to really go upon the sick list, and
submit to be treated accordingly until the doctor should pronounce him
well again. He did not like the idea at all. To what boy, indeed, would
it have been welcome in that glorious summer weather when there was
bliss in merely being alive and well. But he had too much sense to
rebel. He knew that Dr. Brown was no alarmist, and that the best thing
to do was to obey his injunctions unquestioningly. Moreover, he now
began to feel some slight anxiety himself. The trouble in his chest
increased. So much so, indeed, that he found difficulty in speaking for
any length of time. Symptoms of fever, too, appeared; and by the close
of another day no doubt remained that the attack was of a serious
nature, and that the utmost care would be necessary in order to insure
his recovery.

When Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd learned this, they were sorely distressed. Such
perfect health had their sturdy boy enjoyed all through his life
hitherto, that they could hardly realise his being laid upon a bed of
sickness, and it seemed especially trying just after he had passed
safely through so great a peril. But they did not murmur. They committed
Bert to the Divine care, and with countenances full of cheer for his
sake, and hearts strengthened from above, awaited the revealing of the
Lord's will.

Day by day Bert grew worse, until each breath became an effort; and the
fever burned all through his veins, as though it would consume him.
Fortunately, no cloud came over his consciousness; and although he could
not speak without a painful effort, and therefore said little, his
grateful looks showed how fully he appreciated the unremitting care with
which his father and mother and Mary watched over him. His bedside was
never without one of them; and there was yet another who vied with them
in their devotion--and that was Frank. Had Bert been his twin brother he
could not have felt more concern. He was moved to the very depths of his
heart, and with tears in his eyes begged of Mr. Lloyd permission to take
turns with them in watching by the bedside through the long hours of the
night. He was so affectionate, so thoughtful, so gentle, so trustworthy,
and Bert seemed so glad to have him, that Mr. Lloyd willingly consented;
and thus the four whom Bert loved best shared the burden of care and
anxiety between them.

Bert had never made much parade of his religion. It was the controlling
force in his life, yet it had not been in any way obtrusive. It had
grown with his growth, and strengthened with his expanding strength; and
although there had of course been many slips and falls--for what was he
but an impulsive boy?--there had been no decline, but steadfast progress
as the years of his boyhood glided past. It stood him in good stead when
death waited for him in the depths of Halifax harbour, and it was with
him now, as hour by hour he drew nearer the dark valley of the shadow.

It seemed strange for the Lloyd's home, which Bert and Mary had
brightened with laughter and song, to be so silent now, and for big Dr.
Brown, whose visits previously had been mainly of a social nature, to be
calling every day, with a serious countenance that betokened his
concern. Never were mother and sister more devoted and untiring than
Bert's. Their loving care anticipated his simplest wants; and but for
the dreadful feeling in his chest, and the fever that gave him no
relief, the novelty of being thus assiduously tended was so great, that
he would hardly have minded being their patient for a little while, at
least.

It was an unspeakable comfort to them all that his reason continued
perfectly clear, no matter how high the fever raged; and not only his
reason, but his faith was clear also. He did not despair of his
recovery, yet he shrank not from looking the darker alternative fairly
in the face, and preparing to meet it. His father's strong, serene faith
was a wonderful help to him. In the quiet evening, as the dusk drew on,
Mr. Lloyd would sit beside him, and, taking his hot hand in his, talk
with him tenderly, repeating Scripture passages of hope and comfort, or
verses from the sacred songs they both loved.

One afternoon, Frank was alone with him, Mrs. Lloyd and Mary having gone
off to take much needed rest, and Bert for the first time spoke to his
friend of the possibility of his never getting well again.

"I am very ill, Frank, dear," said he, reaching over to lay his burning
hand upon Frank's knee, as the latter sat close beside his bed. "I may
never be any better."

"Oh, yes, you will!" returned Frank, cheerfully. "You'll come round all
right."

"I hope so, Frank, but sometimes as I lie here in the middle of the
night, it seems as though it would soon be all over with me."

"Never fear, Bert, you'll live to be an old man yet, see if you don't."

Bert was silent for a while as if thinking just how he would say
something that was on his mind. Then turning to Frank, and, looking
earnestly into his face, he asked:

"Frank, do you love Jesus?"

Frank started at the question, the blood mounted to his forehead, and
his head dropped. He seemed reluctant to reply, and it was some time
before he answered, almost in a whisper:

"I'm afraid I don't, Bert."

A look of sorrow came over Bert's countenance, but was quickly
dissipated by one of hope, and despite the pain the utterance of every
word gave him he took Frank's hand between both of his, and pressing it
affectionately, said:

"Dear, dear Frank, you will love Him, won't you?"

Frank's sturdy frame trembled with the emotion he strove hard to
suppress; his lips quivered so that he could not have spoken if he
would, and at length, unable to control himself any longer, he fell on
his knees at the bedside, and burying his face in his hands burst into
tears.

The ineffable glory of the sun setting into the golden haze of the west
filled the room, and enfolded the figures of the two boys, the one
kneeling at the bedside, and the other with eyes lifted heavenward, and
lips moving in earnest prayer, touching softly the brown curls half
buried in the bed beside him. For some minutes there was a solemn
silence. Then Bert spoke:

"Frank, Frank," he called, gently.

Frank lifted his tear-stained face.

"Won't you begin to love Him now?" Bert asked. "If God should take me
away, I could not be happy unless I felt sure that you would meet me
above. We've been such friends, Frank, and you've been so good to me
always."

[Illustration: "'Frank, Frank,' he called gently. Frank lifted his
tear-stained face."--_Page_ 320.]

Frank's tears flowed afresh. It was not the first time that the question
of surrender to Christ had presented itself to him. He had debated it
with himself over and over again, and always with the same result,
concluding to remain undecided a little longer. But now the time for
indecision seemed altogether passed. The Christ Himself seemed present
in that room awaiting an answer to the question he had inspired Bert
to put. Never in all his life before had the issue between God and
himself appeared so inevitable. He had evaded it more than once, but a
decision could no longer be delayed. No sooner did he see this clearly
than the powers of the strong, deep nature asserted itself. Brushing
aside his tears, and looking right into Bert's expectant eyes, he seized
both his hands, and, with a countenance almost glorified by the
expression of lofty purpose the rays of the setting sun revealed upon
it, said, in clear, firm tones:

"Yes, Bert, I will love Jesus, and I will begin right away."

"Oh, Frank, I'm so happy!" murmured Bert, as he fell back on his pillow,
for the stress of emotion had told hard upon him in his weak state, and
he felt exhausted. He lay there quietly with his eyes closed for a
while, and then sank into a gentle slumber, and before he awoke again
Mrs. Lloyd had come into the room so that their conversation could not
be resumed before Frank went away.

The next day Bert was decidedly worse. The suffering in his chest
increased until he could hardly speak. With great difficulty he could
get out a word at a time, and that was all. The fever showed no signs of
abating, and he tossed upon his bed hour after hour, while with ice and
fan and cooling applications Mrs. Lloyd and Mary strove hard to give him
ease.

Dr. Brown made no attempt to conceal his anxiety.

"The crisis is near at hand," he said. "There is nothing more that I can
do for him. He has reached a point where your prayers can do more for
him than my poor medicines."

Although her heart was torn with anguish unspeakable, Mrs. Lloyd's
fortitude never for a moment faltered. So serene was her bearing in the
sick chamber that Mary, from whom the gravity of her brother's case had
been so far as possible concealed, had yet no thought but that he would
infallibly win his way back to health.

As he grew weaker and his sufferings more intense, Bert evidently felt
easiest when all three of his own household were with him at once, and
when Frank was there also, his satisfaction seemed complete. He spoke
but little, and then only a word or two at a time. Dr. Chrystal came to
see him frequently, and was always greeted with a glad smile of welcome.
Taking the Bible, he would, in his rich mellow voice, read some
comforting passage, and then pray with deep trustful earnestness,
inspiring and strengthening the anxious watchers, and leaving behind him
an atmosphere of peace.

On Friday night the crisis came. After tossing and tumbling about
feverishly all day, as the evening shadows fell, Bert sank into a deep
stupor, and Dr. Brown, with a lump in his throat that almost choked his
utterance, said plainly that unless he rallied before morning there
would be no further hope. In an agony of prayer Mrs. Lloyd knelt by her
darling's bedside, while in an adjoining room Mr. Lloyd, and Mary, and
Dr. Chrystal, and Frank sat together, praying and waiting, and striving
to comfort one another. The long hours of agonising uncertainty dragged
slowly by. Every few minutes some one would steal on tiptoe to the sick
chamber, and on their return met fond faces full of eager questioning
awaiting them, only to answer with a sad shake of the head that meant no
ray of hope yet.

At length the dawn began to flush the east, and with crimson radiance
light up the great unmeasured dome, putting out the stars that had shone
as watch fires throughout the night. Mrs. Lloyd had risen from her
knees, and was sitting close beside the bed, watching every breath that
Bert drew; for who could say which one would be the last? The daylight
stole swiftly into the room, making the night-light no longer necessary,
and she moved softly to put it out. As she returned to her post, and
stood for a moment gazing with an unutterable tenderness at the beloved
face lying so still upon the pillow, a thrill of joy shot through her,
for a change seemed to have taken place; the flushed features had
assumed a more natural hue, and the breath came more easily. Scarcely
daring to hope, she stood as if entranced. Presently a tremor ran
through Bert's frame, he stirred uneasily, sighed heavily, and then, as
naturally as a babe awaking, opened wide his big, brown eyes.

Seeing his mother just before him, he gave a glad smile, lifted up his
hands as though to embrace her, and said, without any apparent
difficulty:

"You dear, darling mother."

Completely overcome with joy, Mrs. Lloyd threw herself down beside her
boy and kissed him passionately, exclaiming: "Thank God! Thank God! He's
saved;" and then, springing up, hastened out to tell the others the good
news.

Dr. Brown, who had been resting in the study, was instantly summoned,
and the moment he saw Bert his face became radiant. Turning to Mrs.
Lloyd, he shook her hand warmly, saying:

"The worst is over. He'll come round all right now, and you may thank
your prayers, madam, and not my medicines."

Great was the rejoicing in the Lloyd household. No words would express
their gladness; and when school-time came Frank, utterly unable to
contain himself, rushed off to Dr. Johnston's, and astonished the
assembled pupils by shouting at the top of his voice:

"Hurrah, boys! Bert's not going to die. He'll soon be well again."



CHAPTER XXX.

HOME MISSIONARY WORK.


Bert's recovery was as rapid as his illness had been sudden and severe.
A fortnight after that memorable morning, when with the dawn came
deliverance, he was as vigorous and lively as ever. He found the days of
his convalescence not at all unpleasant. When the pain had passed, the
long hours of suffering seemed like a dreadful dream, and the present,
with its sweet relief and increasing strength, a blissful awaking. At
his home all was joy and brightness: there were silence and anxiety no
longer. Mrs. Lloyd and Mary went singing from room to room, Mr. Lloyd
came back from his office whistling merrily, and sure to be ready with
something to make Bert laugh. Frank ran in and out, the very type of
joyous boyhood, and each day brought its stream of callers, with warm
congratulations upon Bert's happy restoration to health.

It would be a queer boy that would not enjoy this, seeing that it all
centred upon him, and Bert fully appreciated the important position he
held for the time being. Then what could be more delightful than the
sense of returning strength, of enlarging activity?--to find one's-self
with a clearer head, a sharper appetite, and a more vigorous frame, as
one glorious summer day succeeded another; while the birds sang blithely
in the apple tree, and the blue waters of the ever-beautiful harbour
rippled gently before the morning zephyrs, or were stirred into white
caps by the afternoon breeze?

Bert's illness left no trace behind so far as his physical nature was
concerned, and yet he was not altogether the same boy as before it laid
him low. Deep solemn thoughts had been his as he lay upon his bed, not
knowing whether he should ever rise from it again. His life had been in
many respects a more than ordinarily blameless one, and yet when he had
little else to do save look back upon it, an almost overwhelming sense
of his worthlessness came upon him, and he was filled with wonder that
God could love him at all.

But that He did love him, and for His Son's sake had accepted him, he
never for a moment doubted. Now that he was restored to health and
strength, he did not seek to forget those feelings, nor would he allow
his convictions of great obligations Godward to lead him nowhere. He
resolved to do some definite work for his Divine Master, and to seize
the first opportunity that presented itself.

His friendship with Frank passed into a deeper, stronger phase than
ever before. It might with much truth have been said of them as it was
of two friends of old, that the soul of Bert was knit with the soul of
Frank, and that Bert loved him as his own soul. They had so much in
common now, and they found it so delightful to strengthen one another's
hands in the Lord by talking together of His goodness.

There was one matter that troubled Frank deeply, and that formed the
subject of many a long and earnest conversation. His father was a man
about whose lack of religion there could be no doubt. He was a big,
bluff, and rather coarse-grained man, not over-scrupulous in business,
but upon the whole as honest and trustworthy as the bulk of humanity. By
dint of sheer hard work and shrewdness he had risen to a position of
wealth and importance, and, as self-made men are apt to do, laid much
more stress upon what he owed to himself than upon what he owed to his
Creator. In his own rough way, that is to say in somewhat the same
fashion as we may suppose a lion loves his whelp, he loved the only
child the wife long since dead had left him. He was determined that he
should lack nothing that was worth having, and in nothing did Mr. Bowser
show his shrewdness more clearly than in fully appreciating the
advantage it was to Frank to be the chosen friend and constant companion
of Lawyer Lloyd's son. He had manifested his satisfaction at the
intimacy by having Frank make Bert handsome presents at Christmas time,
and in other ways. In all this, however, his only thought had been for
Frank. He made no attempt to cultivate intimate relations with the
Lloyds on his own account. He thought them both too refined, and too
religious for him, and accordingly declined so far as he civilly could,
Mr. Lloyd's overtures toward a better acquaintance.

Such a man was Frank's father; and now that the boy's heart was full of
joy and light, because the peace that passeth understanding was his, he
longed that his father should share the same happy experience.

"If father were only a Christian, like your father, Bert, I would be the
happiest boy in all the world," said he, one day. "Oh, Bert, what can I
do to make him interested in religion?"

"Why don't you ask Dr. Chrystal to go and talk with him?" inquired Bert.

"It wouldn't be a bit of use. He won't go to church to hear Dr.
Chrystal, nor any other minister, and he wouldn't listen to them if they
came to see him. He says he has no faith in parsons, anyway."

"Well, do you think he would listen to father?" suggested Bert.

Frank's face lighted up. He had been thinking of this himself.

"Perhaps he would, Bert," he said, eagerly. "I know he thinks a great
deal of your father. I've heard him say that he practised better than
many of the parsons preached."

Bert flushed with pleasure at this frank compliment to his father.

"Then suppose we ask him to speak to your father about religion," he
said.

"Oh, yes; let us," assented Frank. Accordingly, that evening the two
boys brought the matter before Mr. Lloyd, who listened to them very
attentively. Then he asked a question or two.

"Are you quite sure, Frank, that I am the very best person to speak to
your father on this important subject?"

"Yes, Mr. Lloyd; I'm quite sure you are."

"Well, do you know, Frank, I don't agree with you. I think I know of
somebody that can do it much better than I can," said Mr. Lloyd, with a
meaning smile.

Frank's face fell. He had set his heart upon having Mr. Lloyd do it, and
could not believe that anybody else would do as well. After a little
pause, he asked:

"Who is this somebody else, Mr. Lloyd?"

"He's not very far away from us now, Frank," answered Mr. Lloyd, still
with that curious smile.

"You don't mean Bert, do you?" cried Frank, looking a little bewildered.

"No; I don't mean Bert," responded Mr. Lloyd.

"Then----." He stopped short, a deep blush spread over his features; he
caught his breath, and then, as if hoping that the answer would be in
the negative, exclaimed:

"Do you mean _me_?"

"Yes, I do mean just you; and nobody else, Frank."

Frank threw himself back in his chair with a despairing gesture, saying:

"Oh, I could never do it, Mr. Lloyd. I know I never could."

Mr. Lloyd looked at him with tender sympathy, and laying his hand upon
his knee, said, gently:

"Do you remember the motto, Frank: 'Quit you like men, be strong'?"

Frank heaved a heavy sigh. "But how can I go about it, Mr. Lloyd?" he
asked.

Mr. Lloyd thought a moment.

"I have an idea, Frank," he said, presently. "Suppose you were to start
family prayer in the mornings. I believe it would be the means of doing
your father good."

At first Frank could not be persuaded that such a thing was possible as
his presuming to conduct family prayer in his father's presence, but
they talked long and earnestly about it, and finally he went away
promising to think it over very seriously.

As he turned the matter over in his mind, however, little by little his
courage strengthened until at length he felt himself equal to the
undertaking. It was a Sunday morning that he chose upon which to make
the venture. So soon as breakfast was finished, and his father had
moved away from the table, wishing to himself that there was a paper
published on Sundays as well as upon other days, for he had time to read
it comfortably, Frank took up his Bible, and said, very hesitatingly:

"Father, do you mind if we have family prayers?"

"Eh! What's that? What do you mean?" asked Mr. Bowser, looking up as if
he could hardly believe his ears.

"Why, father," answered Frank, timidly, "you know they have prayers at
Mr. Lloyd's every morning, and I thought perhaps you wouldn't mind our
having them, too."

Mr. Bowser scanned his son's face with a hard searching gaze, but Frank
looked back at him with so much love and respect in his clear, brown
eyes, that all suspicion was banished from his mind, and his heart
melted not a little.

"Who's going to have the prayers? You don't expect me to, do you?" he
asked, gruffly.

"Well, father, if you don't care to, I'll try, if you've no objection,"
replied Frank, modestly.

Mr. Bowser was silent for a moment. He had noted a change in Frank of
late, and had been impressed by the increased interest he took in church
and Sunday school as proven by the regularity and punctuality of his
going off to the services. Had Frank become a Christian like Mr. Lloyd?
He would not be sorry if he had, although it was rather a pity that he
had not waited until he had had his fling first, sowed a few wild oats,
seen something of the world, and then settled down. Here was a good
chance to find out. So with some relaxing of his gruffness, Mr. Bowser
said:

"All right, my boy. I've no objections so long as you're not too
long-winded. Go ahead."

Thus encouraged, Frank, with beating heart and trembling lips, proceeded
to read one of the Psalms; and then, kneeling down, offered up a simple,
fervent, faith-filled prayer.

Mr. Bowser did not kneel. He sat sturdily upright in his chair, looking
straight before him. But he could not prevent strange emotions awaking
within him as he heard his boy, whom he was still inclined to look upon
as hardly more than a child, though he was now sixteen years of age,
address himself in reverent, earnest tones to the Great Being that he
had so utterly neglected himself.

When Frank had finished, his father rose and left the room without
saying a word. That evening Frank took tea with Bert, and they went to
church together. Shortly after the service began Bert happened to glance
about the church, and his eye fell upon somebody that caused him to give
a little start of surprise, and then nudge Frank violently. On Frank's
turning round to see what Bert meant, he too started, and an expression
of joy that was beautiful to witness came over his countenance, for
there, in a pew not far behind him, and evidently trying hard to look
entirely at his ease, sat Mr. Bowser, this being his first appearance in
church for many long years.

Dr. Chrystal preached one of his very best sermons that night, and all
the time he was speaking Frank was praying that his earnest words might
go straight home to his father's heart. That was the beginning of the
good work. Thenceforward every Sunday evening found Mr. Bowser an
attentive listener; and Frank, continuing the morning prayers
faithfully, was surprised and delighted when one day his father brought
home the finest family Bible he could find in the city, and handing it
to him, said, in his kindest manner:

"Here, my boy, if we're going to have family prayers, we may just as
well do it in proper style."

Frank joyfully reported all this to the Lloyds, who rejoiced with him
over the prospect there was of his prayers for his father being fully
answered ere long, and Mr. Lloyd was therefore not at all surprised when
one evening Mr. Bowser called, and in an agitated, confused way begged
the favour of an interview with him in the privacy of his study.

It was as Mr. Lloyd anticipated. Frank's simple, but sincere efforts at
home missionary work had been crowned with success. His father's hard,
worldly nature had been stirred to its depths. A longing the world could
not appease had been awakened within him, and he had come to Mr. Lloyd
as one in whom he placed implicit confidence, that he might guide him
toward the light. The conversation, which Mr. Bowser found wonderfully
helpful to him in his bewildered, anxious state of mind, was followed by
many others, and the result was made evident when, ere that year closed,
Mr. Bowser publicly united himself with the Church; and there were few
who were familiar with the circumstances that could restrain a tear of
sympathetic joy when Dr. Chrystal made the event the occasion for a
beautiful and inspiring sermon upon the place of the young in the
vineyard of the Lord.



CHAPTER XXXI.

NOT DEAD, BUT TRANSLATED.


Mr. Bowser was not a man to do anything by halves. When he was worldly,
he was worldly out and out, and now that he had broken with the world
and entered into the service of God, he took up the business of religion
with a thoroughness and ardour that was entirely characteristic. He
found himself wofully ignorant of the simplest Scripture truths. Until
his conversion, he had not opened his Bible since he left his mother's
care. He, therefore, determined to become a scholar. So one Saturday he
asked Frank:

"Frank, what is it you do at Sunday school?"

"Well, father, we sing, and pray, and study the Bible, that's about
all," answered Frank, wondering to himself what his father had in mind.

"Do any grown-up people go there, Frank?" inquired Mr. Bowser,
innocently.

Frank smiled, partly at his father's lack of knowledge, and partly
because he thought he caught a glimpse of his purpose.

"Why, of course, father," he exclaimed, "lots of them. Mr. Lloyd goes
there, and Mr. Silver, and ten or twelve other gentlemen."

"Does Mr. Lloyd go to Sunday school?" asked Mr. Bowser, eagerly. "Why,
what does he do there?"

"He teaches, father. He has charge of the men's Bible class."

"So Mr. Lloyd has a Bible class there," mused Mr. Bowser aloud; then,
turning again to Frank, "Do you think, Frank, he would mind if I joined
it."

Frank could not help smiling at the idea of Mr. Lloyd being otherwise
than glad at having a new member in his class.

"Indeed, he won't. On the contrary, he'll be mighty glad, I'm sure," he
answered, warmly.

"Very well, then, Frank, I'll go with you to Sunday school to-morrow. I
don't know anything about the Bible, and I think there's no better place
for me to learn," said Mr. Bowser, as he went off, leaving Frank so
happy at the prospect of having his father go to school with him that he
could hardly contain himself.

Very deep was Mr. Lloyd's pleasure when on Sunday afternoon burly Mr.
Bowser walked into his class room and took his seat in the most remote
corner. He went up to him at once, and gave him a cordial greeting.

"I've come as a learner, Mr. Lloyd," said Mr. Bowser. "I know little or
nothing about the Bible, and I want you to teach me."

"I am sure I shall be most happy to do anything that lies in my power,
Mr. Bowser," responded Mr. Lloyd, heartily, "and there are others in the
class that you will find will help you also."

And so Mr. Bowser, putting aside all foolish notions about pride or
self-importance, became one of the most faithful and attentive
attendants of the Bible class. Rain or shine, the whole year round, his
chair was rarely vacant, until Mr. Lloyd came to look upon him as his
model member, and to feel somewhat lost, if for any reason he was
compelled to be absent.

But Mr. Lloyd was not his only guide and instructor. Dr. Chrystal had
attracted him from the very first. The sermon he preached on that
eventful Sunday evening, when, yielding to an impulse which seemed to
him little better than curiosity, he had attended church for the first
time in so many years, had been followed by others, each one of which
met some need or answered some question springing up in Mr. Bowser's
heart, and his admiration and affection for the eloquent preacher had
increased with a steady growth.

In truth, Dr. Chrystal was a man of no common mould. He united in
himself characteristics that might seem to have belonged to widely
different natures. He was deeply spiritual, yet intensely alive to the
spirit of the times. He was as thoroughly conversant with modern
thought as he was with the history of God's ancient people. Although a
profound student, he was anything but a Dr. Dry-as-Dust. On the
contrary, the very children heard him gladly because he never forgot
them in his sermons. There was always something for them as well as for
the older folks. Indeed, perhaps one of the best proofs of his singular
fitness for his work was the way the young people loved him. Boys like
Bert and Frank, for instance, probably the hardest class in the
congregation for the minister to secure to himself, while they never for
a moment felt tempted to take any liberties with him, yet, on the other
hand, never felt ill at ease in his presence, nor sought to avoid him.
He made them feel at home with him, and the consequence was that the
proportion of boys belonging to his church exceeded that of any other
church in the city.

Dr. Chrystal had of late been causing his friends no small concern by
showing signs of failing health. His heart began to give him trouble. So
much so, indeed, that now and then he would be obliged to pause in the
midst of his sermon, and rest a little before resuming. His physician
told him he had been working too hard, and that what he needed was to
take things more easily, or, better still, to lay aside his work for a
season, and recuperate by a good long vacation.

At first he would not listen to any such proposition. There seemed so
much to be done all around him that would be undoubtedly left undone
unless he did it himself, that he felt as if he could not desert his
post. But it soon became clear to him that the warnings he had received
must be heeded, and ere long he was able to make up his mind to follow
the physician's advice, and indulge himself with an ocean voyage, and
prolonged vacation in Europe.

As the time for his temporary separation from his congregation drew near
there was a marked increase of fervour and loving earnestness on the
part of Dr. Chrystal toward his people. It was as though he thought he
might perhaps never return to them, and it therefore behoved him not
only to preach with special unction, but to lose no opportunity of
saying to each one with whom he came in contact something that might
remain with them as a fruitful recollection in the event of its proving
to be his last word to them. Meeting Bert upon the street one day, he
linked his arm with his, and entered at once into a conversation
regarding the boy's spiritual interests. Bert felt perfectly at home
with his pastor, and did not hesitate to speak with him in the same
spirit of frank unreserve that he would with his father.

"I have been thinking much about you, Bert," said Dr. Chrystal, in tones
of warm affection, "and saying to myself that if, in the providence of
God, I should never come back to my work, I would like to leave
something with you that would linger in your memory after I am gone."

"But you're coming back again all right, Dr. Chrystal," said Bert,
looking up with much concern in his countenance, for he had never
thought of its being otherwise.

"I am sure I hope and pray so with all my heart," replied Dr. Chrystal,
fervently. "But there are many things to be considered, and God alone
knows how it will be with me a few months hence. I am altogether in His
hands."

"Well, God knows right well that we couldn't have a better minister than
you, sir, and so there's no fear but He'll send you back to us all
right," returned Bert, his eager loyalty to his pastor quite carrying
him away.

Dr. Chrystal smiled sympathetically at the boy's enthusiasm.

"There are just as good fish in the sea as have ever yet been caught,
Bert," he answered.

"I thoroughly appreciate your kind, and I know sincere, compliment, but
it was not to talk about myself that I joined you, but about yourself. I
have been thinking that it is full time you took up some definite work
for your Heavenly Master. Don't you think so, too?"

"Yes, I do, sir; and so does Frank, and we're both quite willing to make
a beginning, but we don't just know what to go at."

"I have been thinking about that, too, Bert, and I have an idea I want
to discuss with you. You know the streets that lie between the north and
south portions of our city, and how densely they are packed with people,
very few of whom make any pretensions to religion at all. Now, would it
not be possible for you and Frank to do a little city missionary work in
those streets. The field is white unto the harvest, but the labourers
are so few that it is sad to see how little is being done. What do you
think about it?"

Bert did not answer at once. He knew well the locality Dr. Chrystal had
in mind, and the class of people that inhabited it. For square after
square, tenement houses, tall, grimy, and repulsive, alternated with
groggeries, flaunting, flashy, and reeking with iniquity. The residents
were of the lowest and poorest order. Filth, vice, and poverty, held
high carnival the whole year round. In the day time crowds of tattered
roughs played rudely with one another in the streets, and after dark,
drunken soldiers, sailors, and wharf men, made night hideous with their
degraded revelry or frenzied fighting.

And yet these people had souls to save, and even though they might seem
sunken in sin beyond all hope of recovery, they had children that might
be trained to better ways and a brighter future. It was these children
that Dr. Chrystal had in mind when he spoke to Bert. A union mission
school had lately been established in the very heart of this
unattractive district, and it was sorely in need of workers.

Both Bert and Frank were quite competent to undertake work of this kind,
did they but give their minds to it, and Dr. Chrystal was anxious to
have their interest in it thoroughly aroused before he went away.

After a few moments' silence, during which his brain had been very busy
with conflicting thoughts, Bert looked up into his pastor's face, and
said, in a doubtful way:

"Don't you think, sir, that is rather hard work to put us at at first?"

Dr. Chrystal gave him a tender smile. "It is hard work, I know, Bert,"
said he. "I would not for a moment try to argue that it is anything
else, but I am none the less desirous of seeing you engaged in it. You
and Frank would make splendid recruiting sergeants for the little
mission school, and you could be very helpful in keeping order, or even
in teaching at the morning session. By doing this you would not
interfere with either your church-going or your own Sunday school in the
afternoon. I wish you would talk the matter over with Frank, and, of
course, consult your parents about it."

Bert readily promised that he would do this, for although he, as was
natural enough, shrank from undertaking what could not be otherwise than
trying and difficult work, yet he felt that if his father fully
approved of it, and Frank took it up heartily, he would be able at least
to give it a trial. Dr. Chrystal was evidently well pleased with the
result of the conversation, and in parting with Bert took his hand in
his, and pressing it warmly, said:

"God's best blessings be upon you, Bert. You are fitted to do good work
for Him. May you ever be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed."

Little did Bert imagine that these would be the last words Dr. Chrystal
would address to him personally, or that, as he turned away with a
seraphic smile upon his face, he would see him but once more alive.

The following Sunday was the last that Dr. Chrystal would spend with his
congregation previous to his going away, and as he appeared before them
at the morning service it was the general opinion that his abstention
from work was taking place none too soon, for he certainly seemed to
sorely need it.

In spite of evident weakness, he preached with unabated eloquence and
fervour. Indeed, he was perhaps more earnest than usual, and his sermon
made a profound impression upon the congregation that thronged the
church. In the afternoon he visited the Sunday school, and said a word
or two to each one of the teachers as he passed up and down the classes.
The evening service found the church filled to its utmost capacity, and
a smile of inexpressible love and sweetness illuminated the pastor's
pale face as he came out from the study, and beheld the multitude
gathered to hear the Gospel from his lips.

"Doesn't he look like an angel?" whispered Bert to Frank, as the boys
sat together in their accustomed place.

"He doesn't simply look like one. He is one," Frank whispered back, and
Bert nodded his assent.

The service proceeded with singing, and prayer, and Bible reading, and
then came the sermon. Dr. Chrystal was evidently labouring under strong
emotion. His words did not at first flow with their wonted freedom, and
some among his listeners began to think it would have been well if he
had not attempted to preach. But presently all this hesitation passed
away, and he launched out into an earnest impassioned appeal to his
people to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord. Although he did not say expressly that this might be the last time
he would ever speak to them from the pulpit, there was something in his
manner that showed this thought was present in his mind.

He had got about half through his sermon, and every eye in that
congregation was fixed upon him, and every ear attent to his burning
words, when suddenly he stopped. A deadly pallor took possession of his
face; he pressed his left hand with a gesture of pain against his heart,
while with the other he strove to steady himself in the pulpit. For a
moment he stood there silent, and swaying to and fro before the startled
congregation; and then, ere Mr. Lloyd, who had been watching him
intently all through the service, could spring up the steps to his side,
he fell back with a dull thud upon the cushioned seat behind him, and
thence sank to the floor.

When Mr. Lloyd reached him, and bending down lifted him in his strong
arms from the floor, Dr. Chrystal opened his eyes, looked upon his
friend with a smile that seemed a reflection from heaven, breathed
softly the words: "The Lord be with you," and then, with a gentle sigh,
closed his eyes to open them again in the presence of the Master he had
served so well.

It is not possible to describe the scene that followed, when all present
became aware that their beloved pastor had gone from them upon a journey
from which there could be no returning. They were so stunned, saddened,
and bewildered that they knew not what to do with themselves. The men
and women sat weeping in their seats, or wandered aimlessly about the
aisles to speak with one another, while the children, not realising the
full import of what had happened, looked on in fear and wonder. It was
some time before the congregation dispersed. Dr. Chrystal's body was
tenderly carried into the study, and there was nothing more to do; and
yet they lingered about as if hoping that perhaps it might prove to be
only a faint or trance, after all, for it seemed so hard to believe the
dreadful truth.

As Bert and Frank walked home together, with hearts full to overflowing
and tear-stained faces, Mr. Silver caught up to them, and pushing them
apart, took an arm of each. For a few steps he said nothing; and then,
as if musing to himself:

"'God buries His workmen, but His work goes on.' Our pastor has gone. He
is not--because God has taken him--not dead, but translated. Upon whom
will his mantle fall, boys?"

"I am sure I don't know, Mr. Silver," replied Bert. "But this I do know,
that we can never have a better minister."

"No, I suppose not--according to our way of thinking, at all events; but
we must not let that thought paralyse our energies. The vacant pulpit
has its lesson for each one of us, boys," returned Mr. Silver.

"Yes, it means work, and it seems so strange that Dr. Chrystal should
have spoken to me as he did the very last time he saw me," said Bert.
And then he proceeded to repeat the conversation concerning the city
mission work.

"I am so glad he spoke to you about that," said Mr. Silver. "I had
intended doing so myself, but it has been far better done now. You will
do what you can, both of you?"

"Yes, we will," replied Bert and Frank together, in tones of
unmistakable purpose.

"Perhaps, then," said Mr. Silver, reflectively, "the question I asked a
moment ago may yet be answered by you, dear boys. Would you like to
think that Dr. Chrystal's mantle should fall upon you, and that in due
time you should take up the glorious work he has just laid down? To what
nobler career can a man aspire than that of being one of the Master's
shepherds?"

The boys were silent. The thought was new to them, and altogether too
great to be grasped at once. And Mr. Silver wisely did not press them
for an answer before he bade them "Good-night, and God bless you both."

But his question remained in their minds. It proved a seed thought that
in the case of one of them was later on destined to find itself in good
ground, and to spring up and bear goodly fruit.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A BOY NO LONGER.


Frank and Bert put their hearts into the city mission work, just as they
did into everything else that they undertook, and it was well they did.
For surely nothing save genuine zeal, and fidelity to a strong purpose
could have carried them through the experiences that awaited them. The
mission school was still small and struggling. But for the almost heroic
energies of its superintendent, a clerk in a city banking house, it
could not have been carried on at all. He was a small, slight,
fragile-looking man, but he had a heart big enough for a giant, and
having consecrated his spare hours to this most unattractive of all
phases of Christian work, he carried it on with a self-denying
earnestness that no difficulties could dampen, nor obstacles appal. He
was as ready with his purse, to the extent of its slender ability, as he
was with his Bible, and his splendid unselfishness was so well
appreciated by the dangerous degraded beings among whom he toiled, that
alone and unprotected he might go among them at any hour of the day or
night, and meet with nothing but respect and rude courtesy.

Such a man was David McMaster, under whose direction Bert and Frank lost
no time in placing themselves; and a right glad welcome they had from
him, his pale, thin face fairly glowing with pleasure at the addition to
his force of two such promising recruits. With him they went the rounds
of squalid tenements, hideous back alleys, and repulsive shanties, the
tattered children gazing at them with faces in which curiosity was
mingled with aversion, and their frousy parents giving them looks of
enmity and mistrust, no doubt because they were so clean and well
dressed.

But apparently noting nothing of this, Mr. McMaster led the way from one
rookery to another, introducing his new workers to their wretched
inhabitants with an easy grace that disarmed all suspicion, and made
them feel that so long as he was the presiding genius of the school,
they had nothing to fear in the worst locality.

The following Sunday morning they began work on their own account. The
school was held at ten o'clock, closing just in time to permit the
teachers to get to church, and the part assigned to Bert and Frank was
to go out into the highways and byways, and invite the children playing
in the dirt to come to the school, or else to go to the homes, if such
they could be called, of those whose names were already upon the roll,
and secure their attendance at the service.

Then when the school opened they found plenty to do, distributing the
hymn books, helping in the singing, keeping a sharp look-out for unruly
behaviour, watching the door lest any scholar should take it into his
head to bolt, insuring an equitable division of the picture papers, and
so on until the hour came to close the school, and they turned their
steps churchward, feeling with good reason that they had really been
doing work for God, and hard work, too.

They soon grew to love Mr. McMaster as much as they admired his zeal. He
was in many ways a quaint, curious character. His body seemed so small
and insignificant, and his spirit so mighty. He knew neither fear nor
despair in the prosecution of his chosen work, and it was impossible to
be associated with him without being infected by his unquenchable
ardour. For some time no special incident marked their work, and then
Bert had an experience that might have brought his part with it to an
end had he been made of less sturdy stuff.

In company with Mr. McMaster he was making the usual round previous to
the opening of the school, beating up unreliable scholars, and had
entered a damp, noisome alley, lined on either side with tumble-down
apologies for houses. Mr. McMaster took one side and Bert the other, and
they proceeded to visit the different dwellers in this horrible place.
Bert had knocked at several doors without getting any response, for the
people were apt to lie in bed late on Sunday morning, and then his
attention was aroused by sounds of crying mingled with oaths, that came
from the garret of a villainous-looking tenement. He could hear the
voices of a woman and of a child raised in entreaty and terror, and
without pausing to consider the consequences, sprang up the broken
stairs to the room from which they issued.

On opening the door a scene presented itself that would have stirred the
sympathies of a man of stone. Pat Brannigan, the big wharf labourer, had
devoted the greater portion of his week's wages to making himself and
his boon companions drunk with the vile rum dealt out at the groggery
hard by. At midnight he had stumbled home, and throwing himself upon his
bed sought to sleep off the effects of his carouse. Waking up late in
the morning with a raging headache, a burning tongue, and bloodshot
eyes, he had become infuriated at his poor, little girl, that cowered
tremblingly in a corner, because she would not go out and get him some
more drink. Half-crazed, and utterly reckless, he had sprung at the
child, and might have inflicted mortal injury upon her had not the
mother interposed, and kept him at bay for a moment, while she joined
her shrieks to those the girl was already uttering.

It was just at this moment that Bert entered the room. As quick as a
flash he sprang to Pat Brannigan's side, and seized his arm now uplifted
to strike down the unhappy wife. With a howl of rage the big brute
turned to see who had thus dared to interfere. He did not know Bert, and
his surprise at seeing a well-dressed stranger in the room made him
hesitate a moment. Then with an oath he demanded:

"Who may you be, and what's your business here?"

Bert looked straight into his eyes, as he answered, quietly:

"I heard the noise, and I came in to see what was the matter."

"Then you can just be taking yourself off again as fast as you like,"
growled the giant, fiercely.

Bert did not stir.

"Be off with you now. Do you hear me?" shouted Brannigan, raising his
clenched fist in a way there was no mistaking.

Still Bert did not move.

"Then take that," yelled Brannigan, aiming a terrible blow at the boy.
But before it could reach him the poor wife, with a wild shriek, sprang
in between them, and her husband's great fist descended upon her head,
felling her to the floor, where she lay as though dead.

At this moment, Mr. McMaster rushed in through the open door. Pat
Brannigan knew him well, and when sober held him in profound respect.
Even now his appearance checked his fury, and he stood swaying in the
centre of the room, looking with his bleared, bloodshot eyes, first at
Mr. McMaster, and then at the motionless heap upon the floor at his
feet.

Advancing a step or two, Mr. McMaster looked into Brannigan's fiery
face, and asked, sternly, as he pointed to the insensible woman lying
between them:

"Is that your work?"

The giant quailed before the fearless, condemning glance of the man who
seemed like a pigmy beside him. His head fell upon his breast, and
without attempting a reply, he slunk over to the other end of the room,
flung himself into a chair, and buried his face in his hands.

"Come, Bert, let us lift her up on the bed," said Mr. McMaster, and
between them Mrs. Brannigan was lifted gently, and placed upon the
miserable bed.

"Now, Katie, get us some cold water, quick," said he, turning to the
little girl, who watched him with wondering eyes. As if glad to get out
of the room, she sped away, and presently returned with a tin of water,
with which Mr. McMaster tenderly bathed Mrs. Brannigan's forehead, and
soon the poor sufferer recovered consciousness. Mr. McMaster and Bert
then went away, the former promising to look in again after school was
over, and see if further help might be required.

When Bert told of the morning's experience at home, his mother became
very much agitated, and seemed strongly inclined to oppose his
continuing the work. But Mr. Lloyd was not of the same opinion at all.
He thought it a very admirable training for Bert, and Bert himself had
no disposition to give it up. Accordingly, he went on as though nothing
had happened, meeting with many discouragements, and few real successes,
yet sustained by a steady impulse to willing service, strengthened by a
real interest in the work itself.

The days of Bert's boyhood were rapidly passing by. The time was
approaching for him to enter college, and once enrolled as an
undergraduate he could of course be counted a boy no longer. Not indeed
that he was growing old in the sense of becoming too prim or particular
to indulge in boyish sports and pranks. There was nothing premature in
his development. He was in advance of many boys of his age, it is true,
but that was only because he strove to be.

He was not content unless he stood among the leaders, whether in study
or sport. He looked forward to college with ardent expectation. Ever
since the days of Mr. Garrison's school he had been accustomed to see
the students in their Oxford caps and flowing black gowns going to and
from the university which had its home in a handsome free-stone building
that stood right in the heart of the city, and he had felt impatient for
the time to come when he might adopt the same odd and striking costume.

During the past year his studies had been directed with special
reference to the matriculation examination. As regards the classics, he
could not have had a better teacher than Dr. Johnston, and his progress
in knowledge of them had been sure and steady. In mathematics, however,
he was hardly up to the mark, partly because they were not taught with
the same enthusiasm at Dr. Johnston's, and partly because he did not
take to them very kindly himself. Mr. Lloyd accordingly thought it wise
to engage a tutor who would give him daily lessons during the mid-summer
holidays.

Bert, as was quite natural, did not altogether relish the idea of
mingling work with play in this fashion in the glorious summer weather
when the days seemed all too short for the enjoyment that was to be had;
but when Frank, who was of course to go to college also, entered
heartily into the plan, and Mr. Scott, the tutor, proved to be a very
able and interesting instructor, full of enthusiasm about the
university, in which he was one of the most brilliant students, Bert's
indifference soon disappeared, and the three lads--for Mr. Scott was
still in his teens--had a fine time together that summer, studying hard
for two hours each morning, and spending the rest of the day in boating,
or cricket, or some other pleasant fashion.

As the heat of summer yielded to the cool breezes of autumn, and the
time for the opening of the college drew near, Bert grew very excited.
There were two scholarships offered at each matriculation examination,
one open to those coming from the city, the other to those from the
country. He had fixed his ambition upon the city scholarship, and
determined to do his best to win it. He had caught some of his tutor's
enthusiasm, and fully appreciated the importance of a brilliant
beginning. Accordingly, he gave diligent heed to the good advice Mr.
Scott delighted to give him, as well as to the studies he set for him,
and looked forward hopefully to the approaching examination.

Toward the end of October the examination took place. It was the boys'
first experience of a written examination, and it is little wonder if
they felt nervous about it.

With Mr. Scott as guide they made their way to the university building,
where he led them along the echoing stone corridors to a door inscribed,
"Library;" and then, wishing them the best of fortune, bade them enter
and try their fate. They found themselves in a large bright room whose
floor was covered with desks, and the walls lined with bookcases, and
having at one end a baize-covered table, around which sat several
spectacled gentlemen attired in long black gowns, and chatting busily
with one another. They took no notice of the two boys, who sat down at
the nearest desk, and awaited developments. They were the first
candidates in the room, but others presently came in until more than a
score had gathered.

All evidently felt more or less nervous, although some tried very hard
to appear unconcerned. They varied in age from Bert, who was
undoubtedly the youngest, to a long-bearded, sober-visaged Scotchman,
who might almost have been his father; their appearance was as different
as their ages, some being spruce, well-dressed city lads, and others the
most rustic-looking of youths, clad in rough homespun. They each sat
down in the first seat they could find, and then stared about them as if
they would like very much to know what was going to happen next.

They had not long to wait in uncertainty. A short, stout, pleasant-faced
professor disengaged himself from the group at the table, and stepping
up to the platform, said, in a smooth voice, with a strong Scotch
accent:

"If you are ready to begin, gentlemen, will you please arrange
yourselves so as to occupy only every alternate desk."

There was a little noise and bustle as this order was being carried out,
and then they settled down again, with a vacant desk between each pair
as a precaution against whispered assistance. The next proceeding was to
distribute paper to the candidates, they being expected to supply their
own pens and ink. And then came what all were awaiting with beating
pulse--viz., the examination paper. Each one as he received his paper
ran his eye eagerly down the list of questions, his countenance growing
bright or gloomy according as, to this hasty survey, the questions
seemed easy or difficult.

Bert scanned his list rapidly, gave a great sigh of relief, and then
turned to Frank with a meaning smile, which said more plainly than
words:

"I'm all right."

Frank smiled back, in token that he was all right, too, and then the two
boys bent to their work.

They did not get along very fast at the start. It was their first
written examination, and this, added to their natural nervousness, kept
both their ideas and their ink from flowing freely. But after a few
minutes they forgot themselves in their eagerness to commit to paper the
answers to the questions before them, and for an hour or more they
scribbled away until the first paper, which was upon the classics, had
nothing unanswered left upon it.

Bert finished first, and the professor, noticing him unemployed, brought
him another paper, this time the mathematical one. As he expected, he
did not do quite as well with it. But he felt sure of being right in his
answers to six out of the ten questions, and very hopeful about two
others, so that altogether he was well satisfied.

The third and last paper was upon the English branches--history,
grammar, geography, and so forth, and he polished this off with little
difficulty, making a clean sweep of the dozen questions. All this took
until after one o'clock, and when he laid down his pen with his task
finished, he felt pretty tired, and anxious to get out and stretch
himself. Frank, however, was not quite through, so he waited for him,
and then the friends hurried off to compare notes, and estimate their
chances.

The results would not be declared for two days at least, and Bert found
it very hard to keep his impatience in check. He could think of nothing
else than those examinations. Having answered so many questions, he felt
not the slightest uneasiness as to passing; but the scholarship--ah!
that was the point. Mr. Scott had made it very clear what an important
position a scholarship winner held in his class. It gave him the lead at
once, and was in every way an honour to be highly coveted.

Well, the longest days have their ending, and the two days of excited
uncertainty dragged themselves past, and on Friday morning with a heart
beating like a trip hammer, Bert hastened to the university. The results
would be posted up on a huge blackboard that hung in the central
corridor, and on entering he found an eager crowd thronging about this
board, through which he had some difficulty in making his way. But by
dint of pushing and elbowing, he soon got near enough to make out what
was written on the long sheets of paper that occupied the centre of the
board, and then--how shall be described the bound of wild delight his
heart gave, when he read: "_The City Scholarship_--CUTHBERT LLOYD."

Then underneath the word "_Passed_," in large letters, the name
"CUTHBERT LLOYD," and a few names lower down "FRANK BOWSER," while
below them were the rest of the candidates.

Frank was beside him, and by a common impulse of joy the two friends
threw their arms about each other, and hugged one another like two
enthusiastic young bears. Then they ran off as fast as their legs could
carry them to tell the good news.

There was not a happier, prouder family in all Acadia that night than
the Lloyds. Mr. Bowser and Frank came in to exchange congratulations,
and they rejoiced together over the boys' success. Mr. Bowser was as
delighted over Frank's passing as Mr. Lloyd was over Bert's scholarship.
Like many men of defective education, he had very vague views about
college. It was all a mystery to him, and that Frank, whom he was just
finding out to be something more than a boy, should so easily penetrate
these mysteries, and take a good place among the candidates for
admission, was a source of unbounded satisfaction to him.

After the first exuberance of joy had subsided, the conversation sobered
down somewhat, and they began to talk about the future.

"Now, young gentlemen--for I suppose I dare not call you boys any
longer," said Mr. Lloyd, smilingly--"you should soon be making up your
minds as to what part in life you intend to take, because, once you have
decided, your studies at college should be carried on with that end in
view. Don't you think so, Mr. Bowser?"

"I most certainly do, sir," replied Mr. Bowser, promptly.

"Well, of course, it is not a question to be decided off hand,"
continued Mr. Lloyd," nor one which we should decide for you, unless you
turn it over to us. So we will leave it with you for a while, if you
like."

"I don't think that's necessary, father," spoke up Bert. "Frank and I
have pretty well made up our minds already--that is, of course, if there
is no objection."

"And what is your choice, Frank?" asked Mr. Lloyd.

"I would like to follow my father's business, if he will have me, sir,"
answered Frank, giving his father a look of inquiry.

Mr. Bowser's face flushed with pleasure. He rose from his chair, and
crossing the room to where his son sat, he put his big hand upon his
shoulder, and said, in his heartiest tones:

"Ay--that I will, my lad, and all that I have shall be yours when I am
gone."

"I hope that won't be for a long time yet, father," said Frank, looking
up affectionately into his father's beaming face.

"So do I, my boy, so do I; but when it does happen, God knows what a
comfort it will be to me to leave such a son behind me." And the tears
slipped down his broad cheeks as he went back to his chair.

There was a moment's silence, for all had been affected by this touching
little scene; and then, Mr. Lloyd, turning to Bert, inquired of him:

"And what is your choice, Bert?"

"Well, father, if you think I can ever become fit for it, I would like
to be a minister," he answered, modestly.

It was now Mr. Lloyd's turn to become radiant.

"My darling boy, you could not have delighted me more," he cried. "It
has been my desire and prayer for you, that this should be your choice,
but I have said nothing to you, because I wanted you to be perfectly
free and unbiassed by any thought of pleasing me. I see clearly now that
this is the Lord's doing, and my heart is full to overflowing with joy.
God bless you both, my boys. I am sure that the hope and prayer of us
all is that in your manhood may be fulfilled the promise of your boyhood
that has been so bright, and to which you have now bidden farewell."

THE END.

LORIMER AND GILLIES, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.





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