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´╗┐Title: Digby Heathcote - The Early Days of a Country Gentleman's Son and Heir
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Digby Heathcote - The Early Days of a Country Gentleman's Son and Heir" ***

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Digby Heathcote, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
DIGBY HEATHCOTE, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE HERO'S EARLY DAYS--BLOXHOLME, ITS SQUIRE, HIS FAMILY AND DEPENDENTS.

"I'll not stand it, that I won't, Master Digby.  To think that you, a
young gentleman who has plenty to eat and drink of everything that's
nice, and more than enough, too, should come and put your fingers
through the paper into my jam pots, which I've just been and nicely tied
down, and all for mischief's sake, it's not to be borne, let me tell
you.  You've been and eaten up a whole pot of raspberry jam, and better
than half a one of greengage.  I wonder you are not sick with it.  If
you ever do it again, I'll leave your honoured father's service sooner
than submit to such behaviour, that I will--remember, Master Digby."

These exclamations were uttered by Mrs Carter, the housekeeper at
Bloxholme Hall, the residence of Mr Heathcote, the representative of
one of the oldest families in the county.

The culprit thus addressed, who had been caught in _flagrante delicto_,
stood before her with very sticky fingers, his countenance, however,
wearing anything but an expression of penitence.

"I like jam, and you don't give me enough in my puddings," was the only
excuse he deigned to offer for his conduct.

"You'll go without it altogether, Master Digby, let me tell you,"
retorted Mrs Carter.  She was the only person in the establishment who
ventured to thwart the young gentleman, though he did not love the old
lady the worse for that.

Digby was Mr Heathcote's eldest son and heir.  He had just attained the
mature age of nine years, and had hitherto in many respects been
considerably spoilt.  Mr Heathcote had not succeeded to his property
till rather late in life, and he had not till then married.  A son had
long been wished-for, and when one was given, the grateful hearts of the
parents felt that they could not prize him too much.  Too thankful they
might not have been, but they petted and indulged him more than was for
his good.  He had also three elder sisters.  They, in their fondness,
did their best to spoil him; indeed, as Mrs Carter used to observe to
Alesbury, the butler, she was afraid Master Digby would soon become as
much of a pickle as any she had in her store-room.  He was a sturdy
little fellow, with fat, rosy cheeks, and a figure which already gave
promise of considerable muscular powers.  Alesbury was wont to remark
that it was quite a pity Master Digby had not been born a younger
instead of an elder son, he seemed so well able to fight his way in the
world.  He had a fair complexion--already a little tanned, by the by--
light brown curling hair with a tinge of gold in it, he had good-sized
honest eyes, and looked as he was--from head to foot a thorough English
boy.  He had been spoilt hitherto, certainly, but not altogether so.  He
had been taught by both his parents to worship and fear God, and to hate
and abhor a lie.  He had only once been known to tell an untruth, and
then Mr Heathcote did what very nearly broke his heart to do; he
flogged him severely, and shut him up, and would not speak to him for
the remainder of the day.  Digby did not care much about the pain of the
flogging, but he felt the disgrace keenly, and it impressed on his mind
the enormity of the crime of which he had been guilty.  I believe that
he never after that event uttered a falsehood.  His very varied tricks
and numerous eccentric pranks were therefore constantly being brought to
light, when less honest boys might have managed to escape detection for
those they had committed; but few could find it in their hearts to
punish the young heir of Bloxholme when he ingenuously confessed his
fault, and expressed himself, as he really felt at the time, sorry for
what he had done.

"Oh, Master Digby!  Master Digby! what would your mamma say if she saw
you now?" continued Mrs Carter.

"I like jam," repeated Master Digby; an assertion of the truth of which
he had given strong evidence.

"Are you not ashamed of yourself?" added Mrs Carter, not taking notice
of his reply.

"The jam isn't yours, Mrs Carter," exclaimed Digby, as if a bright idea
had struck him.

"It is given into my charge by my mistress, Master Digby, and I am
answerable for every pot of it," answered the housekeeper, in a serious
tone, in which sorrow and rebuke were blended.

Digby was silent for a moment, and then seemed to see the matter in a
new light.

"I'm sorry for taking the jam, Mrs Carter; I'll tell mamma what I've
done, and then she won't be angry with you, I know," he replied, looking
very penitent.

"There's a darling, now," exclaimed Mrs Carter, catching him up in her
arms, and giving him a kiss; whereby, in consequence of his struggles to
get free, for he had a great dislike to such marks of affection, her
black silk dress was very considerably daubed with the jam yet adhering
to the young gentleman's fingers.  "Oh, Master Digby, Master Digby, what
have you done!" cried the old lady, when she discovered the injury which
her demonstration of affection had brought upon her dress.  "Oh, it
never will look nice again."

"I am so sorry, Mrs Carter, indeed I am," said the boy, eyeing the dark
marks his fingers had left.  "The first money I get I will buy you a new
gown, that I will; I won't take your jam any more, that I won't."

After this promise, Mrs Carter knew that her jam was safe, and she
willingly bore the injury done her dress for such a result.  She would
have given Digby another hug, but she took the precaution of washing his
hands before attempting such a proceeding.

"There now, Master Digby, I dare say the dress won't be much the worse,
after all," she remarked, as soon as she had dried his hands.  "You're a
dear, good child, that you are."

Digby knew what was coming, and watching his opportunity, he bolted out
of the room.  Snatching up his cap, away he ran, shouting, through the
gardens and woods which surrounded the old hall, in very exuberance of
spirits, without any definite idea as to where he was going or what he
should do with himself.  Similar to this had hitherto been most of
Digby's misdemeanours and scrapes, and thus, as he had not learned to
estimate the evil consequences of his naughtinesses, he was not
deterred, when the temptation came in his way, of committing fresh ones.

One of Digby's sisters was but a year older than himself, and very
naturally was his constant companion.  Kate, that was her name, was a
very quick, intelligent girl, the cleverest of the family, but her
talents were like wild plants, which bear flowers very beautiful to look
at, but if allowed to grow without training, apt, from their very
exuberance, to do mischief.  Kate could write poetry, and very funny
poetry it was too.  Digby admired it amazingly.  At all events it was
rhyme, and the lines were of the same length and not inharmonious.
Nobody could read it without laughing at the quaint ideas and, curious
expressions.  The handwriting was curious--I wish that I could give an
idea of it.  The letters were very round and irregular, capitals and
small letters were oddly mingled, and the lines wandered up and down the
pages.  The orthography, too, was not of the most orthodox description.
Her little inaccuracies in that respect, however, Digby himself was not
likely to discover.  Kate could draw, too, and indulged largely in
caricaturing the eccentricities of any of her friends and acquaintance.
If her poetry was funny, the designs she produced with her pencil were
still more so.  They never failed to produce roars of laughter from
Digby, who, if not witty or talented himself, was fully able to
appreciate her wit and talent.

Both her poetical effusions and her caricatures had hitherto been
devoted exclusively to Digby's amusement, and no other member of their
family was aware of her powers in that direction.  This arose from the
little maiden's modesty and timidity.  She knew that Digby would
certainly appreciate to the full her productions; but she doubted too
much whether others would do so to allow her to show them.  Besides, the
exquisite delight which the two enjoyed in looking over together, in
secret, her drawings and verses would have been much decreased had other
eyes been allowed to see them, and to discover faults perhaps to which
they themselves were willingly blind.  Not only could Kate write poetry
and draw, but she could sing too; and that everybody knew, and
wonderfully wild and warbling were her notes, when she did not fancy
that any one was listening to her, as she ran bounding along the green
lawn, like a young fawn, or made her way among the shrubberies to any of
her favourite haunts.  Kate was not pretty; her figure was small and
thin, and her features were rather sharp, but her eyes were bright, and
full of intelligence, and she had a sweet smile, which lightened up her
countenance when anything pleased her, which was very frequently.
Digby, however, would have been very much surprised had any one
pronounced her to be any otherwise than very pretty.  His usual
description of her was, "Oh, she is jolly, that sister of mine--Kate!
I'll bet there isn't another girl like her in the world!  Up to
anything--bird's-nesting, cricketing, or fishing.  Why, she can saddle
her own pony, and doesn't mind where she goes when I am with her.  She's
as plucky as any fellow, and I hope to see her leap a five-barred gate
some day--that I do."

Kate admired Digby in return, though not perhaps in the same degree, but
she was quite as fond of him as he was of her, probably even fonder.  I
think sisters generally love their brothers more than they get loved in
return, and most decidedly are ready to make more sacrifices for them,
to give up more to them, to endure more from them, more shame to the
boys.  Yes, unselfish indeed is a good sister's love, a thing to be
cherished, a thing to be grateful for.

I said Kate was not pretty.  As she ran along with her garden bonnet
thrown back, hanging by the string to her neck, and her frock not in the
most tidy condition, she might have been mistaken for one of the little
gipsies from the encampment which was frequently made on the
neighbouring common.  When, however, Kate spoke, a person of discernment
who might have mistaken her for a gipsy would at once have been
undeceived.  Her accent and manners were particularly ladylike; and if
she met a stranger, she sobered in a moment, and became perfectly quiet
and sedate.  A blush would suffuse her cheeks, and her mouth would
pucker up in a curious way as she attempted to check the laughter which
was springing to her lips.  After the stranger had disappeared, she
would walk on a few paces seemingly in a meditative mood, or still under
the influence of the unwonted restraint she had put on herself, but
either a squirrel would cross her path and mount a neighbouring tree, a
blackbird would fly chattering through the bushes, or a butterfly would
go fluttering before her, and off she would go in chase, and was soon
again the buoyant-spirited hoydenish little creature she generally
appeared.  Kate Heathcote was certainly not a model girl, nor was Digby
a model boy.  Both had very considerable faults.  There was good stuff
in them, but it required more cultivation than it was then receiving to
bring forth good fruit.  There was also bad in them, as there is in
everybody, which will inevitably bring forth bad fruit unless it is
counteracted.  In their case it produced no little amount of highly
indecorous conduct--so that although people who knew them could not help
liking them, their example is in no way to be imitated.

Digby and Kate were very fond of Bloxholme.  They thought no other place
they had ever heard of in the world to be compared to it.  Indeed, it
was a very attractive spot.  The Hall was a fine old red-brick edifice,
built in the time of Queen Elizabeth, with richly ornamented windows,
and fine gables, and curious ins and outs of all sorts; and there were
wide-extending wings of a later date, with the dining-room and a
conservatory on one side, and bachelors' bedrooms and domestic offices
on the other.  The garden, filled in the summer with a profusion of
flowers, came right up to the drawing-room windows on one side, and a
broad gravelly drive swept round in front of the house with an avenue of
tall elms, in which generation after generation of rooks had built their
nests, reared their young, and returned, cawing in concert, evening
after evening, for centuries past.  The park stretched away for a
quarter of a mile in front of the house.  It was a fine meadow, mottled
in early spring with yellow cowslips and other flowers which betokened a
rich land.  Fine clumps of trees were scattered over it, arranged to
give a picturesque effect to the scene.  Beyond them were seen the
silvery line of a rapid clear stream, and a range of blue hills in the
far distance.  The view from the garden side of the Hall was still more
attractive.  Both to the right and left were thick banks of tall trees,
some advancing, others receding, so as to prevent a too great uniformity
of appearance.  Between them, and sloping away till lost in the meadows
beyond, was a wide expanse of soft velvety lawn.  Pleasant was the sound
in the early summer mornings, when the dew was on the grass, of the
gardeners sharpening their scythes to keep it smooth and shorn.  Here
and there scattered over it were clumps of rhododendrons and other large
flowering shrubs, and nearer the house were beds full of gay-coloured
and sweet-scented flowers.  There were also some clumps of elegant
evergreens, and a few vases of marble or Maltese stone, beautifully
carved, which looked well either in summer or winter.  Digby thought no
lawns were so green, no gravel walks so yellow as those of Bloxholme.
The view, too, from the lower windows, as from the lawn itself, was very
beautiful, and perfectly English.  There were green slopes and
corn-fields, and hazel and beech woods, and rows of tall elms, and
clumps of fir-trees, and patches of wild land gleaming with the bloom of
the golden-coloured gorse; and then beyond all was to be seen, dancing
in the sunbeams, the wide expanse of the blue ocean, with a silvery
river finding its way down on the right to the little town of Osberton,
which stood on its shores.  Numberless are the scenes of similar beauty
which are to be found throughout England.  To the left of the lawn,
well-kept gravel walks twisted and twined away through shrubberies of
evergreens, passing several open spaces filled with flower beds and
trellised arbours, and rock-work and grottoes, and other similar
conceits, made with very good taste though, till they reached two wide
sheets of water, which might well be called lakes, connected by a
serpentine channel crossed at each end by a rustic bridge.  The ponds
were surrounded by trees, the shadows of which were seen reflected in
the clear waters.  There were picturesque little islands dotted about
here and there, not far from the shore, to which one of the largest was
joined by a bridge.  It had a summer-house on it, a very favourite
resort of Digby and Kate.  Perhaps they prized the ponds for being well
stocked with fish which consented now and then to be caught, even more
than for their beauty.  The upper and largest pond was full of pike, and
perch, and eels.  In the others were carp, and roach, and dace, and the
finest and fattest tench to be found in the county.  There were several
smaller ponds full of water lilies and other aquatic plants, which, when
in bloom, as they floated borne up by their broad leaves on the calm
water, looked very beautiful.  These ponds had been carefully stocked
with nearly all the species of fish to be found in English waters; and
in the rapid stream which ran out of the lowest pond and found its way
to the sea, a good basket full of mottled trout was to be caught by the
expert angler.  In most places it was so thickly shaded by hazel and
alder, and other bushes which love moisture, that the bungler was very
certain to lose his hook and line, and to catch no fish.

There was another spot, a still more favourite resort of Kate's and
Digby's.  It was a high mound--partly natural and partly artificial--
near the upper lake.  The base of the mound on one side was washed by a
stream and tributary of the lake, and on the other was a grassy meadow.
The mound itself was thickly covered with trees to the very top, where a
summer-house, or sort of temple, was placed.  From the windows a
beautiful view was obtained over the lakes and woods, and gardens and
fields of Bloxholme; and on one side of the village of Otterspoole and
its church-spire, and trout-stream and hanging woods, and on the other
of the valleys and hills and downs which intervened between the grounds
and the sea.  Glimpses of the blue ocean were obtained from every
height, and much did it enhance the beauty of the scenery.  The path
which led to the top of the mound was very intricate and steep--indeed
it formed a complete labyrinth, which, though it made it far more
attractive to Kate and her brother, prevented it from being so much the
resort of the elders of the family.

I have described these spots as Digby's favourite resorts.  I suspect,
however, that had it not been for Kate, he would not have often found
his way there.  He liked them because she did, and he went there for the
sake of her society.  Hearty were the laughs the two enjoyed there.
There she read to him her poetical effusions--there she showed him her
drawings, and there they concocted, I am sorry to say, many a scheme of
mischief.

The Hall itself was a thoroughly comfortable, warm, well-furnished
mansion, with handsome drawing-rooms, and dining-room and library; and
bedrooms which could accommodate Mr Heathcote's largish family, and a
good many guests besides.  He himself seemed fit in every respect to be
the owner of such a place.  He was a fine looking person--a thorough
English country gentleman.  He did not appear talented, and he was not;
but he had the character of being a thoroughly upright, honest man,
anxious to do his duty in that state of life to which God had called
him.  He was a good landlord, and watched over all the poor around,
whether or not living on his estate.  He was a county magistrate, and
was never missed in his place on the bench when the Court sat.  He was
strict, especially with poachers and smugglers.  There was very little
maudlin sentiment in his composition.  If a person did wrong he
considered that he ought to be punished, not only to teach him not to
act in the same way again, but to teach others also.  Still, no kinder
or more indulgent master, to all employed in his service, was to be
found in the county.  "If we do not inflict the legal punishment on the
man, how is he, or how are others, to know what is right or what is
wrong," he used to remark to his brother magistrates.  From his
invariable strictness he was looked upon as a severe magistrate, and
many a poacher had to rue the night in which he was caught trespassing
on the preserves of any of the neighbouring estates, till it was found
to be a very unpaying amusement, and poaching was almost put down.
Smugglers, also, either landsmen or seamen, who were captured breaking
the revenue laws, were treated in the same manner.  Every man in the
district knew, that if caught aiding in running an illicit cargo of
goods, the county gaol would be his abode for some months afterwards.
So the smugglers found it very difficult to procure men to help them
land their tubs of spirits or bales of silks.  Smuggling was not
entirely put down, but it received a severe check from Mr Heathcote's
system of proceeding.  The gipsies, and indeed all ill-doers, held him
in great awe.  At the same time he might have been seen visiting the
cottages of the men who had been sent to prison, ascertaining the real
wants of their families, and supplying them liberally.  It was not in
his way to talk much to them or to give them good advice.  He would
remark, perhaps, "Well, when your Bill comes out, tell him that if he
does it again, he'll have to go in again.  Remember that."  As the
county gaol was far from a pleasant abode, the warning had generally the
effect intended.  Mr Heathcote was a Tory, somewhat of the old school,
and an unwavering supporter of the Church of England.  Indeed, he was
very unwavering in all his ways of proceeding.  He regularly attended
all poor-law boards and road-trust meetings; indeed, a large portion of
his time was occupied in public matters.  He was also an enthusiastic
sportsman.  The first of September found him, gun in hand, intent on the
destruction of partridges.  At every meet of the hounds in the
neighbourhood he might be seen in red coat and top-boots, few in the
field better mounted, while he rode about with cheery voice greeting his
numerous acquaintance.  He no longer attended races, however.  When at
college he had done so, very much to his own let and hindrance.  He had
betted, lost money, and incurred debts which hung over him like an
incubus for years afterwards.  He had barely managed to take his degree,
even at a college where no great amount of knowledge was demanded for
obtaining that honour.  When he came into his estate he was unable to
take that place in the county which his ancestors had so long held.  If
he had had an extravagant wife he would never have obtained it, but
happily for him Mrs Heathcote was a sensible, light-minded,
straightforward person.  She saw what was wanted.  Retrenchment was
wanted, or rather, a refraining from expenditure.  A plan was laid down
and persevered in, and in a few years Mr Heathcote found his estate
unencumbered.  He was not, however, a rich man; his house was rather
large for his property, and as people judge rather by the size of the
mansion than by the number or quality of the acres which surround it, he
was supposed to be more wealthy than he really was, and was consequently
expected to live in a more expensive way than he found to be wise.  His
first children having been daughters, fancying that he had nothing to do
with their education, he not being a reading man, he was much oftener to
be found out of the house than in it.  He had learned, therefore, to
consider that his public duties had the greatest call on his time and
attention.  When Digby was born, he at first looked upon him as a baby,
and he had got so into the habit of regarding him in that light, that it
did not occur to him afterwards that his boy's mind, as well as his
stature, was enlarging, and that even greater care was required to
strengthen and cultivate the former than the latter.  Happily, Mrs
Heathcote did not altogether overlook this, and she did her best to
instruct him and to teach him what was right.  In this she did not
altogether fail.  But she had the education of her daughters to attend
to, and Digby was left more to his own devices than was altogether good
for him.  She might, of course, have had a governess, but she felt
herself well able to instruct her daughters, and had an idea that no
person could do so better than their mother.  Motives of economy had in
the first place induced her to make the attempt, which she afterwards
persevered in from the pleasure it afforded her.  She was a thoroughly
English, ladylike person, with no littleness about her.  Tittle-tattle,
scandal, or indeed talking of people except to praise them, she
thoroughly detested.  Her two eldest daughters did justice to her
instructions.

Eleanor and Mary Heathcote were good-feeling, right-minded, ladylike
girls.  I shall not have much to say about them, except in connexion
with Digby.  One was seventeen, the other fifteen.  They made attempts
to assist in his education, but they found him very unmanageable.  There
was a large town some miles off, from which masters came, and Mrs
Heathcote had begun to talk of obtaining a governess to attend to Kate
and Digby, and the younger children as they grew older.  A very superior
person had all along superintended the nursery, but Digby had already
broken through all the restraints she could put upon him, except when in
her immediate presence, and then he was obedient enough, both from habit
and affection.

Digby's next brother was Augustus--Gusty he was generally called; he was
three years younger--a fat chubby little fellow.  Digby was very fond of
him, and did his best to spoil him as much as he himself was spoiled.
He generally would do anything for him, or bear anything from him, but
sometimes Digby lost his temper, and he would then turn round and give
him a cuff, or carry off some of his property; but he was always sorry
before long for having hurt the child, and would restore what he had
deprived him of, with interest.

Mrs Heathcote's health had always been delicate, and latterly it had
been more so than usual, and in consequence, Kate had been left to do
very much what she liked, except when she and Digby were called in by
Eleanor to do their lessons.  She got over hers very quickly, and helped
Digby to do his, so that he also had an abundance of time to follow his
own fancies and devices.  Three or four days in the week a master came
over to initiate him in the mysteries of the Latin accidence, as well as
writing and arithmetic--sciences which Mr Heathcote supposed the lady
members of his family were less able to impart than could one of the
sterner sex.  Digby, it must be owned, did not take kindly to any of
them, and showed but little respect or affection for his instructor.
When Mr Heathcote made inquiries as to his son's progress, Mr Crammer
invariably replied that Mr Digby was getting on nicely, and he was
content, and did not think it necessary to trouble his head further on
the matter.

I said a river was to be seen from Bloxholme.  It flowed away for a
distance of six or seven miles, till it reached the sea, on the shores
of which, at its mouth, a little old sea-port town was situated, called
Osberton.  The Rector, Mr Nugent, was brother to Mrs Heathcote.  He
had a small income and a large family, and so he took pupils.  He was a
refined, pleasing-mannered man, very earnest and zealous, but rather
strict and precise (not about religion, for in that no man can be too
strict), but with regard to the behaviour of his pupils, in small as
well as in important matters.  As, however, he entered into their
sports, and showed a deep interest in their welfare, he perfectly won
their love and affection.  Osberton was an old place altogether.  An old
castle, with a few old guns which had not gone off for ages, guarded, or
rather pretended to guard, the entrance to the river.  In reality, it
was no greater defence to the river than would be a stuffed dog in a
court-yard.  The little boat harbour and the quays were old, and the
inhabitants were old-fashioned into the bargain.  Now and then Digby had
been sent to stay with his uncle, but the atmosphere of the place did
not at that time suit his notions, and he always did his best to get
home again.

In the neighbourhood of Bloxholme was Melford Priory, the residence of
the Honourable Stephen Langley.  It had been granted to Mr Langley's
ancestors by Henry the Eighth, on the abolition of the monasteries in
England.  His family had, however, resided in the neighbourhood for
centuries before that time.  The estate belonged to Lord Calderton, his
elder brother, who was a diplomatist, and consequently seldom came to
the place.  He allowed Mr Langley to live at Melford on the supposition
that he devoted himself to looking after the property.  Mr Langley had
several children--the youngest, Julian, was about a year older than
Digby.  They had occasionally met--Digby thought him a very fast fellow,
and admired him exceedingly.  He described to Kate how he could ride the
biggest horse in the stable, and break in the most intractable dog, and
bring down a bird flying at a vast distance, and thrash any bumpkin
twice his size.  Mr Heathcote had a very great--an almost hereditary--
respect for Lord Calderton's family.  Many of them had been very
excellent people, and the present lord bore a high character.  It did
not, therefore, occur to him that any of them could be otherwise than
good.  Perhaps had he made inquiries, and ascertained how Julian was
being brought up, he would not have wished his son to become his
associate.  The truth is, that Mr Langley was not a good man, and poor
Julian was left to grooms and other servants, who did their best to ruin
him, physically and morally.  He listened eagerly to their conversation,
imbibed their notions, and gained a taste for beer and spirits, with
which they, in their ignorance of the injury they were inflicting,
supplied him.

I think that we have now got a very good idea of Bloxholme, its
inhabitants, and its neighbourhood.  I must again warn my readers that
none of the characters I have described were model people.  Mr
Heathcote himself certainly was not, nor was altogether Mrs Heathcote,
nor was her brother, Mr Nugent; and the troubles and difficulties Digby
brought upon himself, and the pain and suffering he endured, will show
that he is intended for a warning rather than an example.

I must not, however, forget my old friend John Pratt--a very worthy,
honest fellow.  He was a sort of under steward on the property.  He
looked after the cows, and pigs, and poultry, and sheep, and young
colts.  He assisted in the kitchen garden, but did not profess to know
much about flowers.  He acted also as a gamekeeper, but he was
especially great in fishing matters, and everything connected with the
ponds and the rookery.  He always decided when the young rooks were to
be shot, and when the ponds were to drained or drawn.  He superintended
the taking of all wasp's nests.  He had charge of the ferrets, the
hawks, and dogs; and as to vermin, the stoats, and the weasels, and
polecats, and even the rats, it was supposed had positively an
instinctive dread of him.  He was a tall, thin, wiry man, with a bald
forehead, and grey hair, and a keen intelligent countenance.  Digby was
very fond of him, and he in return doted on the young master, and would
have gone through fire and water to serve him.  He had already contrived
to instruct Digby in many of the secrets of his science, and as he used
to say, "It was a pleasure to teach Master Digby, he took to it so
kindly, and was afraid of nothing.  He'd grapple with a weasel, or a
snake, or a pike, and not cry out for help, when most other young 'uns
would a been running screaming away from them.  To see him once
tackle-to with one of the big swans, and only a little stick in his
hand, it was for all the world like St. George a-fighting the dragon,
just as you see on a gold sovereign."

Digby, however, had, in the encounter mentioned, very nearly got his arm
broken, and would in other ways have suffered probably severely had not
John come to the rescue.  It proved, however, the fearlessness of his
disposition, which had so won John Pratt's admiration.  John Pratt
himself feared no mortal foes; but the poorer classes in that part of
the country were excessively superstitious, and he partook to the full
of the general feeling.

Whereas, happily, throughout England generally, the grosser styles of
superstition have been in a great degree eradicated by the exertions of
the ministers of the Gospel and by the spread of education, in some
parts, and this was one of them, all the absurd notions in which our
ancestors indulged in the dark ages have been handed down to the present
generation.  Ghosts, hobgoblins, witches and their secret powers,
charms, amulets, spirits of every sort, were believed in with undoubting
faith.  Education had not spread into the district, and, unfortunately,
the clergymen who had successively ministered in that and the
neighbouring parishes had done little or nothing to eradicate the
pernicious and anti-Christian notions which were prevalent among the
people.  They had been what were called very good sort of men.  They had
preached very fair average sermons on a Sunday, and if people chose to
come to church to hear them they were welcome to do so.  If any of their
parishioners were sick and sent for them, they went to them, with their
Bibles in their pockets, from which, perhaps, they read a chapter or
two, and, with a few ordinary words of consolation or advice, they
hurried away as fast as they could.  They hunted, and shot, and dined
with Mr Langley and Mr Heathcote, and all the gentlemen round; and
drank their wine, and told good stories, and amused themselves and those
with whom they associated to the utmost of their power.  They passed for
worthy jolly good fellows, and no more was demanded of them.  It never
seemed to occur to them that they would have to answer some day or other
respecting the souls of their fellow-creatures committed to their
pastoral care.  They wondered why there was so much ignorance and
superstition in their parishes; why people did not come to church; why
dissent was rife; why dissenting chapels were built; why the country
people were so immoral; why there was so much drunkenness, folly, and
wickedness.

John Pratt, as I was saying, notwithstanding all his good qualities, was
a firm believer in witches, ghosts, and hobgoblins, and an arrant coward
with regard to the spiritual world.

As Digby ran through the grounds he found him by the side of the lake,
repairing one of the fishing punts.  As he sat with mallet and blunt
chisel in hand, driving the oakum into her seams, he was neither
whistling nor smiling, as was his wont.  So absorbed was he, indeed, in
his own thoughts, that he did not observe the young master's approach.

"What's the matter, John?" said Digby; "you don't seem happy to-day."

John started, and looked up, "Oh, Master Digby, is that you?  I didn't
see you, that I didn't," he exclaimed.  "Happy, did you say, Master
Digby?  No, I ain't happy by no means.  I'm going to be bewitched; and
that's enough to make a man anything but happy, I'm thinking."

"What does that mean, John?" asked Digby; "I don't understand."

"Why, Master Digby, you knows Dame Marlow--she as lives with her old man
down in the gravel-pits at Mile-End--she's a witch, and a wicked old
body, if ever there was one in this world.  Well, t'other day, as I was
sauntering like down the green lane, who should I see breaking through
the fence at the corner of the copse but the old Dame herself.  She'd a
bird in her hand, and as I ran up to her I found 'twas a hen pheasant.
When she seed me she tried to hide it away under her red cloak, and, in
her hurry, very nearly toppled down the bank on her nose, into the road.
`Oh, Dame Marlow, Dame Marlow, what have you been about?'  I cried out.
`You've been a-stealing master's pheasants, that you have; you wicked
old woman, that you are.'  Still I didn't like to lay hands on her, do
you see, for I know'd well what she was, and what she can do.  On she
went, hobbling away with her crutch as fast as I could walk, almost.  At
last she stopped, and turning round her face--oh how wicked and vengeful
it looked, how her red ferret eyes glared at me--says she to me, `Who
calls?  Ay, is that you, John Pratt?  Ay; and you're seeking your own
harm.  You want to bring down a curse on your own head; you want to
malign and injure a poor old body with a decrepit husband, who can't
help himself, do you?  Speak, man--what is it you want?'  `I want
master's pheasant which you've been trapping, dame,' says I; `and I must
have it, too,' says I, growing bold.  `Ay, I see you want to be cursed,'
says she; `you want to have the marrow dry up in your bones, and the
skin wither up on your flesh, and the hair fall off your head, and your
eyes grow dim, and your teeth drop out, and your legs not to bear your
body, and your hands to tremble,'--`Stop, stop, dame,' says I, `don't
curse me now; I'm only doing my duty.  I want the pheasant back; I'd
sooner give you its value than quarrel with you.'  `It's too late,' says
she, looking more wicked than ever, and not trusting me, I suppose;
`you're bewitched already, and you'll find it out before long, that you
will, let me tell you.'  Saying this, on she hobbled, as before.  I
followed, thinking that I ought and must have the pheasant; but she
turned upon me such a wicked look, and again hissed out, `You're
bewitched, John Pratt; you're bewitched, man,' that I couldn't stand it,
and had to run away as fast as my legs could carry me, while she set up
a shout of laughter which is even now ringing in my ears."

"Very horrid, indeed, John," said Digby, who did not exactly know
whether or not to believe in Dame Marlow's powers.  "But do you really
think she can do what she says?"

"No doubt about it, Master Digby," answered the old man, with grave
earnestness; "you should just hear what all the folks in the country
round do say of her.  There's no end of the cows, and sheep, and pigs,
she's bewitched in her time.  Many's the one she's sent to their graves
before their glass was run out, just because they'd offended her.  Oh,
she's a terrible woman, depend on that, Master Digby."

Much more nonsense of a similar character did poor John talk.  I need
not repeat it.  Digby was almost persuaded to believe all that the old
man told him.

This conversation was interrupted by a light, hearty fit of laughter.
So eager had they become that they had not perceived that Kate had
approached them, and had been an attentive and amused listener to much
that had been said on the subject.

"All that you have been saying is arrant nonsense, John," she exclaimed,
unable longer to restrain herself; "and you, Digby, are a little goose
to believe him.  Why, Dame Marlow has no more real power over the
elements or over her fellow-creatures than you or I, or her own black
cat has.  We'll soon concoct a plan to make her undo her own curse, and
to punish her, at all events.  An idea just now came into my head when I
heard you two wise people talking.  Come along, Digby, to our island,
and we'll work it out.  If it comes to anything, as I think it will,
we'll get John to help us; and we'll make Dame Marlow repent that she
ever pretended to be a witch, or threatened to injure any of the poor
people who are silly enough to believe in her."

From the hearty shouts of laughter which John soon heard coming across
the water from the island, there could be little doubt that Kate's idea
was considered by her and Digby as a very bright one, and that, under
the influence of their united wits, it was undergoing a rapid
development.

John Pratt was amazed.  He had great admiration of Master Digby's
physical courage.  He felt a sensation approaching to awe as he
contemplated the fearlessness with which Miss Kate proposed to encounter
one who possessed such unlimited powers over even the spirits of
darkness.  "There's the true old blood in their veins, that there is,"
remarked John to himself, as he went on caulking the punt.



CHAPTER TWO.

HOW DIGBY AND KATE CARRIED OUT THEIR PLOT--AN EVIL COUNSELLOR--YOUTHFUL
TRICKS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES.

As soon as Digby and Kate could make their escape from the schoolroom
the next morning, they repaired to an attic, where all sorts of lumber
was piled up, and refuse articles of every description were collected
till some destination was assigned for them.  Here they soon found what
they came to look for.  There was some rope, and the lining of a black
gown, and some black silk, and a few bits of red cloth.  The things were
done up tightly in bundles, and, with delighted eagerness, they hurried
off with them to the summer-house on the top of the mound.  Soon after
they got there, John Pratt appeared, with a bundle of hay.

"All right, John," exclaimed Digby, "that will stuff him well.  And have
you got the other things I asked you for?"

"Yes, Master Digby, but there's something I don't half likes about the
matter.  It will look too horrid, I zuzpect."

"Never fear, John; it will punish the old woman properly, and be great
fun," cried Kate, eagerly.  "Give me the things; we shall soon be ready;
and do you go down and keep ward and watch to give us timely notice of
any one's approach."

Thus exhorted, John produced from his capacious pockets a couple of
deer's antlers and two deer's hoofs, with the greater part of the skin
of the legs attached to them.  Kate eyed them with a merry glance.
Digby did not half like to touch them, it seemed.  The young lady was
evidently the leading spirit on the occasion.

"That will do, John," she said, with a nod.  "Nothing could be better."

John turned slowly, and went down the mound.  His mind was evidently not
quite satisfied with the work in which he was engaged.  Still, he could
not bring himself to refuse any of the requests made him by Miss Kate
and Master Digby.

As soon as he had gone, Kate, who had been cutting up the black stuff,
produced some large needles, and twine, and thread.  Digby held the
materials, and tied the knots as she directed him.  It is surprising how
rapidly her little fingers performed the work.  She first made a ball,
into which she fixed the two antlers.

"There is a capital head," she remarked.  "We will work in the eyes and
mouth and nose directly."

Then she made an oblong cushion, to serve as a body, and fastened the
head to it.  She next formed a pair of long arms, and made some pieces
of skin do duty for the hands and fingers, while the two hoofs were
secured to the end of the legs.  With the red cloth, part of an old
hunting-coat she made a mouth, and a long tongue sticking out of it; and
then she made white eyes, with red eyeballs, and she fastened on a long
hooked nose, rapidly formed with paper and the black stuff.  Some shreds
of the latter did duty as hair, and a twist of it, with a bit of red
cloth at the end, as a tail.  In a very short time the young lady had
put together a very ugly little imp, which did more credit to her
ingenuity and imagination than perhaps it did to her good taste.  Digby,
however, was delighted, and clapped his hands, and danced the figure
about round and round the room, with fits of uproarious laughter.  It
was scarcely, however, completed in all its details when the sound of a
bell reached their ears.

"Oh, we must run in, Digby, or they will be sending to look for us,"
exclaimed Kate.  "Here, we will put young Master Blackamoor away under
the table.  Nobody will be strolling this way, I hope; and, as soon as
our afternoon lessons are over, we'll come back and finish him, and get
John Pratt to carry him to Mile-End for us."

Telling John Pratt to meet them again at three o'clock, they hurried
back to the Hall.  Kate tried to look as grave as possible all
dinner-time, but whenever hers and Digby's eyes met, from their
ill-repressed twinkle their mother saw that there was some amusing
secret between them.

There were some guests taking luncheon at the hall.  Among them was Mr
Bowdler, the newly-appointed vicar of the parish.  He watched the
countenances of his young friends, and he saw that there was some joke
between them.  What it was he could not tell, and did not choose to ask.
After luncheon he took his departure, and strolled through the grounds
on his way home.

They got over their lessons very quickly--indeed, Kate was never long
about hers--and off they hurried again to the mound.

"Where are you going to, children?" asked Mrs Heathcote, as they were
running out.

"To the mound, to meet John Pratt," answered Digby.  "I'll take care of
Kate, that she doesn't get into mischief.  We are going to have a piece
of fun, that's all."

This answer, from its very frankness, satisfied Mrs Heathcote, and away
they went to carry out their scheme.  As they approached the mound
misgivings arose in their minds lest any body should have been there
during their absence; but when they reached it, they found their ugly
little imp in the position in which they had left him under the table,
and their minds were satisfied on the subject.  They now gave him the
last few finishing touches, fastened on his tail, and secured a rope at
his back.  When they had done this Digby insisted on having another
dance with him, and then John Pratt appeared with a large game basket.
Into this, neck and crop, they stuffed the figure and the rope, and John
carrying it, away they went laughing and chattering through the grounds
in the direction of Mile-End.

"Now, John, you are to go into Dame Marlow's cottage, and remember you
are to sit down and ask her to take the curse off you," said Kate.  "She
will say that she will not, and then you are to beg and entreat her, and
to tell her that if she is so wicked that some one will be coming to
carry her off one of these days, and then that she'll have good reason
to be sorry for what she has done.  Leave the rest to us; only, if you
do see anything come down the chimney, you are to run screaming away as
if you were in a dreadful fright."

"Yez, Miss Kate, I'll do as you zays.  But zuppose anything real was to
appear, what should I do then?" said John, evidently repenting that he
had entered into the young people's scheme.

Kate thought a moment; Digby looked very grave; John's fears were
infecting him.

"I do not think any harm can possibly come, John," said Kate, after some
time.  "You know we only want to frighten and to punish the old woman
who stole the pheasants, and tried to frighten you.  There cannot be any
harm in that, surely."

"I doan't know, I doan't know, Miss," answered John, rubbing his head
very hard, as he walked on faster than before, the children having to
keep almost at a run by his side.

It was curious to see that little girl, with her bright, though just
then misdirected, intelligence managing that gaunt, venerable-looking,
but ignorant old man.

John's education had been sadly neglected in his youth.  When they got
near the gravel-pits at Mile-End the party made a circuit to approach
Dame Marlow's cottage at the rear.  It was a curious edifice, built down
on a low ledge of the gravel-pit, one side of which formed the back
wall, while the roof rested on the edge.  The chimney was consequently
very accessible; and Digby and Kate could without difficulty reach to
the top, and look down it.  John, having deposited the basket containing
the imp went round to the front of the cottage, to be ready to perform
his part of the drama.  He had to descend to the bottom of the pit,
which, with the exception of a narrow causeway, which led to the
professed witch's abode, was full of water.  He crossed the causeway,
and then winding up a zig-zag path, stood before the door of the
cottage.  Digby and Kate got their figure ready to let down the chimney.
Though there was a fire on the hearth, it did not send forth sufficient
smoke to prevent them from looking down and hearing what was going
forward within the cottage.  John knocked.

"Come in, whoever you bees," exclaimed the old woman, in a harsh
croaking voice.  "Bad or good, old or young, little or big, rich or
poor, if you've anything to zay to Dame Marlow she bees ready to hear
you."

"I bees come, dame, to ask you to take the curse off me," said John,
entering and sitting down.  "Your zervant, Mr Marlow."

A cough and a grunt was the only answer the old man deigned to give.

"Is that the way the wind blows?  I thought az how you wouldn't wish to
make an enemy of me, John.  There's zome things that can be done, and
zome that can't.  Now, when I'ze once bewitched a man it's no easy
matter for me, or anyone else, to take the curse off on him: so, do you
zee, John Pratt, what I've cast at thee must stick by thee, man."

The wicked old woman thought that she had got John in her power, and had
no inclination to let him off easily.

Poor John begged and prayed that the dreaded curse might be taken off
him; but the more earnest he seemed the more inflexible she became, and
only laughed derisively at his fears.  When he appealed to the old man,
a grunt or a chuckle was the only answer he received.

"Then listen to me, both on you," cried John, mustering courage, and
recollecting his lesson.  "You bees a wicked old couple, and zome on
these days there will be a coming zome one who'll make you sorry you
ever cursed me, or any one else."

Scarcely had he spoken when a noise in the chimney was heard, the pot on
the fire was upset, out blew a thick puff of smoke, and, amid a shower
of soot, a hideous little black imp appeared, jumping about; while
frightful shrieks, which seemed to be uttered by him, rent the air.

John, with loud cries, jumped up, oversetting the table, and ran into
the open air.  The old man, attempting to follow, tripped up and fell
sprawling on the ground; while the dame herself, catching hold of John's
coat tails, hobbled after him, exclaiming that she was a wicked old
sinner, that she had no power to curse him or anybody else, and that she
would never utter another curse as long as she lived.  However, the
shrieks and hisses from the chimney continued, and at last, overcome
with terror, she fell down in a swoon.

Digby and Kate having ascertained that their device had taken the full
effect they anticipated, hauled up their figure, and packing it away in
the basket, in which operation they considerably blackened their hands
and dresses, sat down till John should join them.  Getting tired of
doing nothing, they cautiously approached the edge of the gravel-pit,
when, looking over, they saw the wretched old couple still on the
ground.  They were very much alarmed when they found that they did not
move, thinking perhaps they had really frightened them to death.

"Oh dear, oh dear, I wish that we hadn't done it," exclaimed Kate,
looking very miserable.  "And I to have led you to help me.  It was very
naughty of me, I know.  I know--I know it was."

"Oh no, Kate, it wasn't all your fault; I'm sure I thought it was very
good fun," answered Digby.  "Perhaps, after all, they are not dead.
I'll go and have another look."  Digby approached near, stooping down,
and when he looked over he saw the dame lifting up her head and gazing
cautiously around.  She did this more from instinct or habit than
because she fancied any one might be near.  Digby thought that she must
have seen him.  He crept back to Kate, satisfied, at all events, that
she was not dead; and John Pratt soon afterwards joining them, he
shouldered the basket, and they set off as fast as they could for the
Hall.  What to do with the imp, which had played so prominent a part in
the drama, was a puzzle, till John undertook to carry it home, and burn
it.

When they got back to the Hall the state of their dresses and their
hands, which were more than usually dirty, caused some grave suspicions
in the mind of Mrs Barker, the head nurse, who had to prepare them to
come in to dessert, after dinner; and she was not long in ascertaining
from Digby what had really occurred.  She thought it very wrong in John
Pratt to have assisted in such a proceeding; but he was a favourite, and
she was afraid that if she made much of the matter she should bring him
into trouble; she therefore merely gave Kate and Digby a lecture, and
they fancied that they had escaped without any further ill result from
their frolic.  It happened, however, that that very evening a neighbour
of Dame Marlow's came running to the vicarage to say that the dame and
her old man were both very ill, that they had something on their
consciences, and that they wished to see the vicar and to disburden
them.

Mr Bowdler was ever at the call of any of his poor parishioners who
sent for him.  Although he had but just finished his frugal dinner, and
taken his books and sat down to enjoy himself after his own fashion, in
communing in thought with great and good men.  He rose from his seat,
and said he would go immediately.

It was a fine moonlight night, and so he mounted his horse and trotted
off to Mile-End.  He found the old couple not nearly so ill as he
expected, but still suffering very much from fear.  I need not repeat in
their own words what they said.

The dame confessed that she had done many wicked things, and that she
had tried to impress people with a belief in her supernatural powers,
though she knew that she was a weak old woman, without any power at all.
At length, however, while she was endeavouring to frighten an honest
man out of his senses, the spirit of evil had himself appeared down the
chimney, and very nearly frightened her and her husband out of theirs.
What she had sent to Mr Bowdler for was, it appeared, not so much to
say how sorry she had been, but to entreat him to exorcise the evil
spirit, so that he might not venture to come back again.

Mr Bowdler looked grave.  He might have said that prayer, and
penitence, and watchfulness, were the only preventives against the
approach of the evil one.  However, in the present instance, he did not
like to say this.  The fact was that he had become completely
enlightened from what he had just heard as to the true state of the
case.  After taking luncheon at the Hall, he had strolled, as he had
been requested to do, through the grounds.  The day being very fine, and
not having been before at the Mound, he hunted about till he found his
way through the labyrinth, and then he climbed up to the summer-house to
enjoy the view which, he had been told, could be seen from it.  Just as
he was leaving the building, the little imp under the table had caught
his eye.  He pulled out the monster, and could scarcely help indulging
in a smile as he examined it.  He doubted, however, whether he ought to
leave it there, or carry it off; but guessing from the workmanship that
young hands had formed it, and recollecting Kate and Digby's glances at
luncheon, he had little difficulty in guessing that it was the produce
of their ingenuity.  Had he been less of a stranger, he would, I have no
doubt, have taken it away, or stopped and remonstrated with them on the
impropriety of making such a figure; but he was a judicious man, and he
feared that he might injure his future usefulness in the family by
appearing officious.  He was a man who only placed confidence in good
principles.  He believed that preaching against one sin, or one fault,
and leaving sin in general, evil dispositions unassailed, produced no
permanent effect.  However, he resolved to keep his eye on his young
friends, and to speak to them when he could find a favourable
opportunity.  He now at once discovered how the figure had been
employed, though he could scarcely persuade himself that Kate and Digby
alone could have carried out by themselves the drama which had evidently
been enacted.  He did not mention his suspicions to the old couple, but
he strongly urged them to repent of their evil ways, and to resolve in
future to lead better lives.  He assured them that neither he nor any
other mortal man had the power of exorcising evil spirits; and they were
silly old people to fancy so.  As to what they had seen, he did not
choose to pronounce an opinion; but he told them that they ought to have
stopped and examined it, and that then they would probably not have been
so much frightened.  He was not very well satisfied, however, with the
result of his visit.

"This is a pretty prank for these young people to play," said he to
himself, as he rode home.  "It is high time that Master Digby should be
sent to school, and that Miss Kate should have a governess to look after
her.  If something is not done they will be getting into some worse
scrape before long.  I must try and speak to Mr Heathcote on the
matter.  He appears to think that they are still babies, and never seems
to dream of the rapid development of their genius for mischief."

Not long after this, Julian Langley, who had not yet been sent to
school, was invited to spend a few weeks at the Hall.  From what I have
said it may be supposed that he was not likely to do Digby any good.
Kate, from the first, could not abide him; and even John Pratt looked at
him with no little suspicion.  Julian was tall for his age, with a
slight figure, fair, with light hair, and an inexpressive rather than a
bad countenance.  I believe that his was one of those characters which
may be moulded without difficulty either for good or for ill, according
to the hands into which they fall.  Nothing would have made Julian
Langley a very great man, or a very important member of society; but he
might have become, by proper care and culture, useful in his generation,
and religious and happy.  Alas, poor fellow, how different was his lot.
He could discourse very learnedly about horses and dogs, and all
sporting matters; and of course Digby thought him a very fine fellow.
It was not long before he led Digby into a variety of scrapes.

The first Sunday after his arrival all the family went to church.  The
Bloxholme pew had very high sides and curtains, and was directly in
front of the pulpit, the preacher being the only person who could look
directly down into it.  Outside it, also facing the pulpit, there had,
from time immemorial, been seats for a number of poor and old people.
One of the occupants was an old man, who wore a scratch-wig; he was very
deaf, also, and as he could not hear a word the vicar said, he
invariably fell asleep during the sermon, and, as was often the case, if
he had any cold, snored loudly.

Stephen Snookes was certainly not a nice old man, and Digby and Kate had
no affection for him.  People complained of his snoring; and the vicar
had more than once spoken to him about the impropriety of his conduct in
going to sleep during the sermon.  Stephen promised to try and amend;
but the next Sunday invariably committed the same fault.

Julian and Digby had sat quiet during the beginning of the sermon; but
when old Snookes began to snore, they got up on their seats and looked
over down upon the head of the delinquent.  As it happened, they had
heard, the evening before, a very sad, but very beautifully written
tale, read in which the unhappy hero, in the days of his boyhood, hooks
off an old man's wig in church.  Undeterred by the sad fate which
ultimately befel the hero, Julian Langley was seized with a strong
inclination to imitate his example.  Digby also jumped at the suggestion
made to him by his companion on their way home from church.

As soon as luncheon was over they hurried to Digby's room, where they
supplied themselves with a fish-hook and a line.  Their eagerness to
accompany the Miss Heathcotes to church in the afternoon might have
created just suspicions in the minds of some of the elders of the
family, but it did not; and off they set in high good humour.

Sermon time came.  Old Snookes fell asleep, his loud snoring gave notice
of the circumstance.  Julian and Digby stood up, and the hook descended,
its barbs becoming entangled in the curls of the scratch-wig.  The line
was then drawn tight, and the end secured to the brass rod at the top of
the pew.  What was the horror of Mr Bowdler, when raising his voice, to
see old Snookes suddenly bob his head, when, in the sight of a large
part of the congregation, off flew his wig, it seemed, and up he stood,
bare-headed.  Putting his hands to his bald pate, he exclaimed, "I bees
bewitched, I knows I bees!  Oh, where is my wig? where is my wig?"

Even Mr Bowdler, who had observed the cause which had produced this
effect, had some difficulty in keeping his countenance, while I am sorry
to say his congregation did very little to keep theirs.  He of course
felt much vexed with the conduct of the boys.  The wig was drawn up
rapidly to the edge of the pew, and then it fell down again to the
ground, from which the old man picked it up, and, in his hurry, clapped
it on again hind part before.

Mr Bowdler felt that any good effects his sermon might have produced
were too likely to be obliterated, and he resolved more than ever to
advise Mr Heathcote to send Digby off to school.

Neither Digby nor Kate were aware that some time before this their
parents had come to the resolution of obtaining a governess who might
assist Mary in her studies, and take entire charge of them and Gusty.
Their mother's health had lately become much worse, and she was utterly
unfit for the task she had imposed on herself.  Only the day before the
arrival of the lady they were told of the arrangements that had been
made.  Neither of them had formed any favourable notions of governesses
in general, and Julian had assured them that those he had heard of would
beat and pinch them and make them sit in the stocks, and keep them in at
their lessons all day, and deprive them of their dinners.  Long, indeed,
was the catalogue of the enormities governesses were supposed as a class
to commit.

"I should like to see anyone trying on those tricks with me," exclaimed
Digby, looking very fierce, "I would soon show them what I was made of!"

"Horrid old creature, I'll not attend to her," said Kate, pouting.
"I'll pretend to be as dull and stupid as a sick pig.  She'll find it
very difficult to knock anything into my head, let me assure her."

"Don't you think that we could play her some tricks, just to make her
sorry she came here?" suggested Julian.  "I'll show you how to make an
apple-pie bed, and we can put salt into her tumbler at dinner, and we
can pretend the cat is in the room and make a terrible fuss all
dinner-time, so that she will fancy we do not hear a word she says to
us.  There's no end of things I can put you up to, if you will be guided
by me."

Of the truth of this assertion of Master Julian's there could be no
doubt, but how far they were to be guided well was a very different
question.  That did not, perhaps, occur to his auditors at the time.
Kate's innate delicacy revolted from the idea of preparing an apple-pie
bed for their new governess, especially if, as she fancied, she was an
old lady, and might arrive fatigued after a long journey; but Digby
thought it would be very good fun, and undertook to assist Julian in
carrying out his proposal.  While the two boys were discussing the
matter, Kate was absorbed in meditation.

"I know one thing I should like to do," she exclaimed.  "I have often
thought about it.  It would give her a tremendous fright, and perhaps
she would pack up her things and go off again at once."

"What is it?" exclaimed the boys in a breath, for they knew that Kate's
ideas were generally very bright; "tell us all about it."

"Then listen," said Kate.  "In the long gallery at the top of the house
there are several pictures of old gentlemen and ladies, our ancestors I
believe, in full bottomed wigs and hoops, and long coats and breeches,
and swords and fans--and--that is to say, the gentlemen have some, and
the ladies the other articles I mention," she added, for she saw that
the boys were laughing.

"Well, go on," they exclaimed eagerly.

"Some of the portraits have been taken down and placed leaning against
the walls.  Now though when they were hung up they appeared as large as
life, now they are on the ground the figures do not seem to so much
taller than any of us.  The fancy took me as I was looking at them to
cut out the eyes, and to put mine in their stead; and I couldn't help
laughing at the idea of how frightened any one would be to see the eyes
rolling about, and to hear at the same time a groan or a sigh, as if the
portrait had all of a sudden become animated.  After the idea had once
seized me, I could not rest satisfied till I had put it in part into
execution.  There would have been no fun merely to put my eyes through
two holes, so after I had cut out the eyes of an old gentleman, our
great-great-great-grandfather, I believe, with a steel cuirass on his
breast, and a heavy sword in his hand, I got a looking-glass, and just
at dusk last evening, I carried it up and placed it on a chair before a
portrait of the old knight.  Then I got behind the canvas, and put my
eyes at the holes and rolled them about till I caught sight of them in
the glass.  I very nearly shrieked with horror--the eyes looked so
natural and bright, I quite forgot they were my own.  I couldn't endure
it any longer, but had to run out of the gallery without looking up at
any of the portraits, for I could not help fancying that I should see
them all rolling their eyes round at me."

"How dreadful," said Digby, shuddering.  "I wonder you could stand it,
Kate."

"Oh, I had to go up again to bring away the looking-glass, and as the
old gentlemen and ladies all looked very quiet and demure, I soon got
over my fright."

"What, then, do you want us to do?" asked Julian.  "Depend on it we're
up to anything."

"I will tell you," replied Kate.  "There are two big pictures I have
fixed on, I will cut out the eyes, and the nose, and the mouth of each
of them, I can easily fasten them in again with gum.  You shall go up as
soon as it is dusk, and put your faces at the holes.  I will then invite
the new governess, Miss Apsley, I hear is her name, to come up and
inspect our ancestors, and then you can sigh and groan, and then she is
certain to take fright; and I'll run away, and she will follow, and you
must then set up loud shrieks of horrid laughter; and my idea is, that
she will insist on going away, thinking the house is haunted, and never
wish to come near it or us again."

"Oh, glorious, grand, magnificent!" exclaimed the boys.

The terms were not very appropriate it must be owned.  Little did the
elders of the family dream of the mischief the children were committing
among their ancestors in the picture gallery.

The morning came on which Miss Apsley was to arrive.  John Pratt had
fixed that same morning for draining one of the ponds.  This was an
operation at which very naturally the boys were anxious to be present.
There were eels innumerable, and tench and perch in the pond, that was
certain, and it was believed that there were also some giant pike, which
refused to be caught by any of the baits thrown to them.  They had no
lessons to do that morning, so at an early hour they set off in high
glee at the fun they expected.  Even Gusty was allowed to accompany
them, and Kate was to follow shortly.  It was neither of the large ponds
which was to be drained, but still it was one of considerable size.
Even people of greater age might have been highly interested at the
prospect of seeing the long-hidden depths of the pond exposed to view.
John Pratt was in all his glory, and his attendants stood obedient to
his commands.  The sluices were forced up after a good deal of
hammering, and out rushed the water in a dense rapid current, rushing
down with a loud roar through the serpentine canal into the lowest lake,
whence it found its way to the river.  A net had been drawn across to
catch any of the larger fish who might be drawn in by the current, but
generally speaking the noise and unusual commotion made them seek what
they fancied would be safety in the lower depths of the pond.  The water
was not allowed to run off very fast lest it should commit some
mischief, so the operation was a long one.  At length, however, the
interest increased as shoals began to appear, and here and there an
astonished tench or an eel was seen struggling away through the mud to
get into the clearer liquid.  The boys shouted and shrieked as they saw
them.

"Oh there's another big fellow," cried Digby; "we must have him."

"What a whopper," exclaimed Julian; "I'll bet he weighs a dozen pounds
at least."

"There goes another, there's another--there's another--oh! what a huge
eel!" were the exclamations heard on every side.

John Pratt stood calm and collected.  He knew that the moment of action
had not yet arrived.  Landing-nets were in readiness, and so was a flat
punt with eel-forks, or prongs; indeed, he had omitted nothing that
would enable him to capture any of the finny tribe on which he might set
his eyes.  At length the wished-for moment arrived.  Nearly the whole
bottom of the pond was laid bare, with the exception of a hole
sufficiently deep to float the punt, and a narrow channel leading to it.
The exposed parts of the mud were waving in every direction with the
floundering struggling fish, while innumerable eels of all sizes were
wriggling about and seeking for shelter.  Just then Kate came down,
almost breathless, to the pond.  The boys had leaped into the punt with
John Pratt, and were shoving off.  Their jackets, and shoes, and hats,
indeed, everything but their shirts and trousers, had been thrown aside,
in imitation of John and the men who were assisting.  They pushed back,
yielding to her petitions to take her in.  The punt was very narrow,
John Pratt was tall, they were all very eager.  The fish swarmed around
them; some they took up with the landing-nets, the big eels John forked
with his prong, the tench and perch they caught with their hands; the
other men were wading about with landing-nets, putting the fish into
buckets, to transfer them alive to another pond while this was being
cleansed.  The water still kept running off, and more and more fish
appeared.  The boys and Kate shrieked again and again with delight.
Their eagerness increased.  John was aiming his prong at a large eel,
the young party all leaned over on the same side, not seeing that the
other edge of the punt was on the mud.  The bottom was slippery with the
slime of the tench and eels, John's foot slid away--in an instant over
went the punt, and let them all out into the water and mud.  At first
Kate was frightened and shrieked, and Digby was alarmed on account of
her and little Gusty, but he only laughed, and they soon found that
there was very little water there, and that the bottom was hard, and so
they thought it very good fun, and refused to get into the punt again.
Away they went, floundering about in chase of the fish, covered from
head to feet with mud, but thinking it very good fun.  Digby's fear was
lest some big pike should catch hold of Gusty.  He himself had a
desperate tussle with a big fellow, which would have got away, or,
perhaps, bit him, had not John Pratt come to his assistance.  Certainly
very curious figures were the four children, and no one would have
supposed that they were the descendants of long lines of well-born,
proud ancestors.

Scarcely had Kate left the house, when the expectant governess, Miss
Apsley, arrived.  After she had taken luncheon, as she was not tired
with her journey, Mrs Heathcote invited her to take a stroll through
the grounds to the ponds.

"We shall find the children there, and you will be able to observe them
without being remarked," said Mrs Heathcote.  "I hope that you will
think well of them, for they are, I believe, as well-behaved, tractable
children as any in the county.  Digby is a dear good boy, and Kate is a
clever little thing, though slightly hoydenish I own, but every one may
see at a glance that she is a perfect little lady as Digby is a
gentleman.  You will find no difficulty in managing them."

Mrs Heathcote spoke with the pardonable pride of a mother.  She was
much pleased with the new governess, and wished to impress her with a
favourable opinion of her children.

Miss Apsley, who was a very sensible, ladylike, right-minded person,
thought that she should like Mrs Heathcote, and was congratulating
herself on having such nice well-behaved little children placed under
her charge.  Engaged in pleasant conversation the two ladies drew near
the ponds.  Shouts and shrieks reached their ears, and expressions
anything but refined, which Mrs Heathcote fancied must be uttered by
some groom boys, or young gipsies, were heard.  When they got in sight
of the pond they both stood aghast.  There were the children, on whom
their mother had just been passing so warm an eulogium, covered from
head to foot with black mud, shouting and bawling as they ran after the
fish--the refined little ladylike Kate being in no better condition than
her brothers, while Julian Langley, having in his eagerness thrown off
all restraint, was shouting and swearing, and using expressions which
would disgrace the lips of any but the most ignorant heathens.

Poor Mrs Heathcote was horrified.  For some time so eager were the
children that they did not perceive her.  Kate was the first to see her
mother and the strange lady, as she was chasing a big eel close up to
where they were standing.

"Oh, mamma, the punt upset and we tumbled in and got all muddy, and so I
thought that it was a pity to come out, and it is such fun," she
exclaimed, making a grab at the eel, and not thinking it at all
necessary to appear ashamed of herself.

She probably was not aware of the very odd figure she, appeared.  Miss
Apsley smiled, but said nothing.

Poor little Gusty next came up, with his pockets full of the smaller
fish he had managed to catch hold of.  Digby was too much engaged to see
anything but the fish he was chasing.  Away he went, as indifferent to
the dirt as any mud-larker on the banks of the Thames, floundering away
after the fish, and throwing them as he caught them into the pails and
baskets prepared for their reception.

"They seem to enjoy the amusement," observed Miss Apsley at length; "I
hope they will not catch cold."

Mrs Heathcote was pleased that she did not speak in a satirical tone.
She thought, however, that it was high time that the amusement should
come to an end, so she desired Kate and Gusty to come out of the pond,
and directed John Pratt, who at length caught sight of his mistress, to
tell the other boys that she wanted them.  John could not help feeling
that the young people who had been entrusted to his charge were not in a
very presentable condition, so he thought that he ought to make the best
apology in his power.

"They bees very like young frogs, I does own, Mrs Heathcote, marm,"
said he; "but they does take to it so kindly loike, I couldn't find it
in my heart to prevent them."

I feel that I cannot do justice to worthy John's peculiar provincial
phraseology.  Mrs Heathcote smiled.  She did not think that John had
paid her children any very great compliment.  At last Digby and Julian
came forth from the mud, without a single white spot about them--hands
and face, and hair and clothes, all covered with mud.  They were not at
all pleased at being told to go into the house to be cleansed, for they
were not nearly tired of their sport, but Mrs Heathcote was afraid of
Digby's catching cold, and was firm, though they pleaded hard to be
allowed to remain.

"There mamma, there, see that huge pike," exclaimed Digby, about to dart
back again; "he's one of the giant fellows we have been looking for all
along, and thought he must have got out somewhere.  I wonder you don't
feel inclined to jump in after him.  There, they've caught him; he must
be thirty pounds weight."

Mrs Heathcote fairly laughed at the idea of her rushing into the mud in
chase of a pike, but still Digby had to accompany her home.  Whatever
might have been his other delinquencies, he never had disobeyed her
expressed wishes, for he loved her dearly.  He and Julian, however, as
they followed a little way behind, looked at the strange lady and
thought that she had, in some way or other, something to do with their
being called in.  She was so ladylike and young, and nice-looking, and
so different from what they had fancied the new governess was to be,
that they never suspected that she was the awful and dreaded Miss
Apsley.

Great was the dismay of Mrs Barker when the mud-besprinkled, or rather
mud-covered children, made their appearance.  Mrs Carter was summoned
to give her assistance, and much soap and many tubs of hot-water were
used before they were at all in their usual presentable condition.  They
scolded them much more severely than their mother had done.  Poor little
Gusty cried, and could not help fancying that he had been very naughty.
When also Digby and Kate found that the lady with their mother was the
new governess, and that it was owing to her arrival that they had been
compelled to come in thus early, their hearts, in spite of her kind
manner and nice looks, hardened towards her, and, instigated by Julian,
they resolved to put into execution the plan which Kate had concocted.
Mr Heathcote dined out that day, so the parlour dinner was soon over.
Mrs Heathcote was fatigued, so lay down on the sofa and fell asleep.
The boys had disappeared.  The summer evening was drawing to a close.
Now or never was the time.  Kate had scarcely seen Miss Apsley.

"Will you come and look over the old house," she said, at length, in a
voice which trembled somewhat.

It was late, and getting dusk, but Miss Apsley was glad of an
opportunity of having some conversation with her rather silent pupil,
and consented readily.

Kate really was very much agitated, and repented of her undertaking
before even she reached the picture gallery.  She hurried through the
other rooms; she felt that she was acting a treacherous part; she tried
to talk, but her tongue clung to the roof of her mouth; still there was
so much determination, or obstinacy some would have called it, in her
composition, that she would not turn aside from her resolution.  Miss
Apsley guessed that there was something or other on her young friend's
mind, but made no remark.  The gallery was reached.  It was a long,
wide, and high passage in the centre of the house, lighted at both ends
and partially from the top.  The portraits reached to the very roof, and
looked very grim and dark--very few of them deserved much commendation
as works of art.  The gallery Kate thought looked more gloomy than ever;
she could scarcely bring herself to utter a word.

"Come to the other end, marm," at last she said in a faltering voice.

She could scarcely help running away and screaming even before she got
to the portraits whose faces she had so ill-treated.  She got up to
them; she dared not look at them; she was certain that the eyes were
rolling horribly.  Miss Apsley walked calmly on.  Kate thought that she
saw the governess look first on one side, then on the other, but she was
not certain.  They reached the end of the gallery; there was a fine view
from the window; the rich glow of that fine summer evening still
lingered in the sky.  Miss Apsley seemed to enjoy it very much, as she
stood contemplating it for some time, till hill, and wood, and fields
became so blended as to be scarcely distinguishable.

"We will now return to the drawing-room, Kate, if you please," she said
quietly.

Kate followed her.  Again they reached the two portraits on the floor;
there was a groan on one side, and what was meant for a sigh on the
other.  Kate was really frightened, and rushed off shrieking.

"Stop, stop, Kate, my dear, there is nothing to be alarmed about," said
Miss Apsley, in a calm voice.  "Come back and see."

As she spoke she caught hold of the nose of one of the portraits, which
squeaked out "Oh, oh, oh!"  Kate's fancy was tickled, and she burst into
a fit of laughter; her admiration, also, was much excited for her new
governess.  Digby came forth from behind the other portrait; Julian,
whose nose had been caught literally in his own trap, drew it back as he
did his tongue, which he had protruded as far as he could, and also came
out looking very sheepish, without a word to say for himself.

Digby, however, in a manly way, at once said--"I beg pardon, Miss
Apsley, I thought that we were going to play you a good trick, which
would have frightened you very much; but I am glad it did not, and I am
sure we are very sorry, and I hope you will forgive us."

Miss Apsley's calmness had won Digby's admiration even in a greater
degree than it had Kate's.

"Yes, indeed I will," she replied, pleased at his frankness.  "It was
silly and wrong in you, and the consequences might, in some instances,
have been serious.  I am bound to tell you this that I may warn you
against playing such tricks in future; but as far as I am individually
concerned I most heartily forgive you, and will entirely overlook the
matter."

Julian could not understand these sentiments, and thought Digby a very
silly fellow to make what he called an unnecessary apology.  They all
went downstairs together, and then Kate took the governess to her room,
and confessed that she had herself concocted the scheme which had so
signally failed, and told her, indeed, all I have already described
about the matter.  With eager haste she undid, too, the apple-pie bed
which Digby and Julian had made, and assuring her how different a person
she was to what she expected, promised that she would never again
attempt to play her another trick, and that she would be answerable that
Digby would not either.

"Why did you come out and show yourself, Digby?" said Julian, when they
were alone together.  "I don't understand your way of doing things; if
you had groaned, as it was arranged, when that Miss Apsley and Kate
first appeared, we should have put her to flight, and I should not have
had my nose pulled--she knows how to pinch hard let me tell you."

Digby confessed that she really was so nice a person that he did not
like to frighten her, and that had he not undertaken to groan, he could
not have brought himself to do so at all.

Julian only sneered at this, and said no more on the subject.

It was most unfortunate for Digby that he had at that time so evil a
counsellor as Julian to turn him aside from the right course, in which
Miss Apsley was so anxious and so well able to direct him.  Often and
often have boys been warned to avoid bad companions.  Let me assure my
readers, that they are the emissaries of the evil one, and that their
vocation is to destroy, both in body and soul, all who come under their
influence.



CHAPTER THREE.

MORE MISCHIEF--JULIAN'S BAD ADVICE--DIGBY'S FIRST TUTOR--HOW TIME WAS
SPENT AT OSBERTON--TOBY TUBB AND HIS YARNS.

There was a large gathering at Bloxholme Hall, both from far and near,
of most of the principal families in the county.  The house was full of
those acquaintances of Mr and Mrs Heathcote who lived too far off to
return the same night, but numbers came who were to drive home again the
same evening.

There was an archery meeting in the morning, and then a dinner and a
dance afterwards.  Julian and Digby voted it very slow work.  It was,
probably, so to them.  Kate liked the archery, and especially the
dancing, for gentlemen asked her to dance, and chatted with her, and she
skipped about like a little fairy, as merrily as possible.  The boys had
not gone in to the dinner, but they had helped themselves plentifully to
the good things on which they could lay hands, and Julian especially had
got hold of some wine.  In consequence of this, he had become very
pot-valorous.

"I'll tell you what, Digby," said he, "we must do something, or I shall
go to sleep.  This dancing is all nonsense.  Come into the garden.  I
dare say I shall knock out an idea; it's seldom I fail, when I try."

That was true; but they were very bad ideas Master Julian knocked out.

Before long they found their way into the court-yard, where the
carriages of the company were left standing by themselves.  The horses
were in the stables, pleasantly munching their corn.  The coachmen and
grooms were in the servants' hall, as agreeably occupied in eating their
suppers.

Julian went in and out among the carriages, and whatever rugs, or
gloves, or wrappers, or halters he could find, he transferred from one
carriage to the other.

"I say, Digby, it will be a capital joke," he exclaimed.  "When the fat
old coachmen come out, they'll all set to quarrelling.  One will think
that the other has stolen his things; and they will never dream that we
did it."

Digby thought the joke a good one, and helped to take the articles out
of some carriages and to put them into others, till it was evidently
almost impossible for any one, in the dark, to regain their lost
property.  When this was done, and the joke, as they called it, enjoyed,
the boys sat down to consider what else they could do.

"I have a notion of something," said Julian.  "It is dangerous, because,
if we were found out, we should get into a terrible scrape; but I should
like to try it."

"What is it?" asked Digby, eagerly.  "As for the scrape, I don't mind
that; I rather like the risk."

"Well, young 'un, that's according to fancy," said Julian.  "I like to
take care of myself, but still I like fun.  My notion is, that if we
were to take the linch-pins out of the carriages we should see a scene
not often beheld.  As soon as they begin to move, the wheels will go
spinning off in every direction, and the people will be spilt right and
left into the road.  Wouldn't it be fun?"

Digby did not think so.  He could scarcely fancy that Julian was in
earnest.  "Why, some of the coachmen might be killed," he exclaimed;
"and the people inside would certainly be hurt."

"Oh, nonsense," answered Julian.  "You are qualmish.  I'll do it.  You
just stand by and see.  Look, they are out in a minute.  Just untwist
the wire.  Here's somebody's chaise; I suspect it is the parson's.
There, he'll get a spill.  Now, then, this old family coach; it belongs
to those old frumps the Fullers.  Lord, what fun, to see them all
sprawling out into the road."

Thus Julian went on, Digby felt very much inclined to stop him, and to
entreat him to replace the linch-pins; but Julian rattled away, and was
so amusing, that his first feeling of the wrong to which he was a party
wore off.  It never occurred to him that, if he could not stop Julian,
his wisest course would have been to tell the coachmen to look to their
linch-pins.  Fortunately, many of the carriages had been built in
London, and were supplied with patent boxes, so that they escaped the
contemplated mischief.

While the boys were thus engaged they heard some footsteps, and they
guessed that the coachmen were returning from their suppers to look
after their horses.  They therefore beat a precipitate retreat through
the gate which led into the garden, and quickly made their way into the
ball-room.

Mr Bowdler was walking about the room, speaking a kindly word whenever
he had an opportunity, both to young and old, of those among whom he had
come to live, and whom he was anxious to instruct, and endeavouring, as
he felt it most important to do, to win the confidence of all, when he
saw the two boys return.  Their hair was disordered, their shoes were
far from clean, and there were thin lines of dust or mud on their
jackets.  Julian looked flushed, and Digby had a sheepish abashed
manner, very different from that which usually distinguished him.  He
was very certain that they had been about something they should not, but
the question as to what they had been doing he did not think fit to ask.
It was already getting later than the hour which he liked to be away
from home, so, wishing Mr and Mrs Heathcote good-night, in that
pleasant cordial manner which had already gained him their good-will, he
walked out to get ready his own carriage.  The glass door of the house
which led into the garden was open, and so was that which led from the
garden into the court-yard.  Near his own carriage he saw something
shining on the ground.  He stooped down, and picked up a clasp knife
which he himself had given to Digby a few days before.  A groom came and
brought out his horse and harnessed it to his carriage.  When, however,
the man led it out to be clear of the other carriages, in crossing a
shallow open drain, first one wheel came off, and then, to his surprise,
another followed.  As the carriage was moving very slowly, and no one
was in it, there was little harm done.

Mr Bowdler said nothing.  "That was a cruel trick of those thoughtless
boys," he uttered to himself.  "They could scarcely have wished to
injure me, but I fear they are the guilty ones."

He and the groom hunted about till they found the linch-pins and the
wires which kept them in, and, having examined the other wheels, he got
in and drove off.

The groom, of course, wondered how it could have happened, but it did
not occur to him to accuse the young gentlemen.

Soon after this, Mrs Fuller's coach was ordered.  The fat coachman put
the horses to, and drove slowly up to the front door.  She and four
daughters, and two young sons, came down the steps, the first got in,
and the latter got up outside, while Digby and Julian stood in the hall
looking on.  Digby nearly bit off the thumb of his glove in his
eagerness, and hesitation and regret, as he watched for the catastrophe
he expected.  Julian, fancying that they were secure from detection,
stood more in front, highly amused at the thoughts of seeing the fat
coachman tumble off into the dust.

Just as they were starting, a carriage was heard coming rapidly along
the road.  The fat coachman thought that he ought to move out of the
way, so he whipped on his horses and away they trotted.  A stone had
been cast on to the carriage-way--the old family coach bumped over it--
off flew a wheel--over went the carriage, the coachman and the two lads
were thrown off with no little violence, right and left, greatly to
Julian's delight, and the ladies screamed.

Fortunately the windows had not been drawn up, and no one was cut, but
being stout people and closely packed, they were very much jammed
together.  The poor coachman was the most hurt, and the young men had
their coats spoilt.  They were on their legs in a moment, and while one
helped up the coachman the other ran to the horses' heads.  The next
thing was to get out the ladies, who, trembling and alarmed, reentered
the hall.  Grooms, and servants, and gentlemen, assembled from all
quarters.

"Look at the other wheels," said a voice.

It was that of Mr Bowdler.  His mind had misgiven him that the trick
which he had discovered might have been played to other carriages, and
he had driven back.  He returned to the coach-yard and warned the
coachmen of what he suspected.  He found them in a state of great
commotion, all crying out for the things they had lost, one accusing the
other of having appropriated them.  Their anger was still further
increased when, in accordance with Mr Bowdler's advice, they discovered
the linch-pins had been abstracted from several of the carriages, and
that the necks of some of them had narrowly escaped being broken.  They
were loud in their threats of vengeance on the heads of the unknown
ragamuffins who had committed the atrocious act.

"It's they gipsies," said one; "they've done it to rob the ladies as we
drove along."

"It's some on old Dame Marlow's tricks.  I don't think az how any one
could a come in here to play zick a prank," observed another, a believer
in the Dame's powers.

Some, however, ventured to suggest that as there were young gentlemen at
the Hall, and young gentlemen did play very bad tricks at times, they
might have done it.  Opinion was setting very much in this direction,
when John Pratt appeared, and was highly indignant that any such
reflection should be cast on his young master.

Mr Bowdler having assured himself that no more harm was likely to
occur, drove away again.

"I am not justified in allowing the boys to go on in this way," he said
to himself.  "I must inform Mr Heathcote of what has occurred, and get
them sent to where they will be properly looked after; I should like to
get them separated; one will learn no good from the other."

Meantime the disturbance in the coach-yard increased, and John Pratt had
at last to summon his master from the ball-room to quell it.  Mr
Heathcote's voice was now heard inquiring what was the matter, when a
dozen people tried to give their own versions of the state of affairs.

"Very well, my friends," said Mr Heathcote, after listening to them
patiently, "keep the peace among yourselves for the present, and if the
culprits can be discovered, I will take care, I promise you, that they
shall be properly punished.  And John Pratt, get more lanterns, and have
all the things in the carriages collected, and distributed to the proper
owners as they are claimed."

Having said this, the master of the house returned to his guests.
Julian and Digby, when they heard what Mr Heathcote had said, were in a
great fright.  Digby knew very well that what his father said he would
do--that he assuredly would do.  He had no hope of escaping detection,
and was certain that he should be punished.  Of course, he remembered
that he had not actually taken the linch-pins out of the carriages, but
he had stood by, if not aiding and abetting, at all events not making
any strenuous effort to prevent the deed.  He, therefore, never for a
moment dreamed of sheltering himself under the plea that he had not
touched the linch-pins.  It scarcely occurred to him that Julian might
have exonerated him in a great degree by generously declaring that he
himself had proposed the trick and had carried it out.  Had he been in
Julian's place, that is what he would have done; but he did not ask
Julian to act thus for him, and he made up his mind to abide the
consequences.  He felt that any excuse he could offer for himself would
throw more blame on Julian, and it did occur to him that even then his
word might be doubted.

In the meantime Mrs Fuller's carriage was put to rights, the coachman
mounted on his box, the ladies were handed in, and the young gentlemen
got up once more on the rumble, all of them very angry and annoyed, as
well they might be, and some not a little bruised.  Mr Heathcote
assured them of his vexation at what had occurred, and promised them, as
he had the coachmen, that he would get the culprits properly punished.

The party at length separated, and Digby, more unhappy and discontented
with himself than he had been for a long time, went to bed and cried
with very vexation till he fell asleep.  It was a pity that his
repentance was not of a more permanent nature.

The next morning he arose refreshed, and though he felt an unusual
weight at his heart, yet he looked at things in a brighter light.
Julian looked immaterial (as Kate called his expression of countenance)
when he came down to breakfast, and had evidently made up his mind to
brazen out the affair, should suspicion fall on him.  The event of the
evening naturally, however, became the subject of conversation, and
Digby felt conscious that he was blushing, while he dared not meet the
eye of any one present.  He eat away perseveringly at his breakfast, and
bolted so hot a cup of tea, that he scalded his mouth, and was about to
make his escape, when his father's eye fell on him.  Digby knew it,
though he did not dare to look up, and Mr Heathcote felt very nearly
certain that the culprit was his own son.  Had he doubted it much, he
would have asked him, in joke, if he could tell how the affair happened;
but he was silent, and felt sad and annoyed.  He was sorry to suppose
that Digby had been guilty of so foolish and really wicked an act, and
his pride too, of which he had a good deal, was hurt at the thought of
having, in accordance with his word, publicly to punish him.

All doubts were at an end when, in a short time, Mr Bowdler appeared,
mentioned what he had ascertained, and firmly recommended the course he
thought ought to be pursued.

"You are right," answered Mr Heathcote, "but he is such a child--it
seems to me but the other day that he was a baby.  Let me see, how old
is he?  Ah, to be sure, I went to school at an earlier age.  Old or
young, I am bound to punish him, however.  Yet stay, we have no right to
condemn him unheard."

Mr Heathcote rang the bell, and ordered the servant to send in Master
Digby to him.  He felt very like that Roman father we read about, who
condemned his own son to death.

"Digby," said Mr Heathcote, when his son and heir stood before him,
"did you take the linch-pins out of the carriages last night?"

Digby thought a moment.

"No, I did not," he answered firmly.

"Do you know anything about the matter," said Mr Heathcote, somewhat
astonished but firmly believing the assertion.  Oh what a blessed thing
is that perfect confidence in the honour and truthfulness of those
connected with us.

"Do you say that I must answer that question, papa?" said Digby.

"I do not wish to force you to say anything," remarked Mr Heathcote,
"but I do wish to ascertain how the circumstance occurred."

Digby thought for some time, while his father sat looking at him.

"I should like to know how you intend to punish the person who committed
the mischief," he said at last.

"If you had done it, I should probably have flogged you, and have sent
you off to school, as soon as I could find a suitable one.  That would
have been a lenient punishment for you.  A poor boy would be flogged and
sent to the house of correction."

"Then you must send me to school, papa, though I should be glad if you
would omit the flogging," replied Digby, frankly.  "I will not say who
played the trick; but, as I see somebody ought to be punished, I'm ready
to suffer, as I think I ought."

Mr Bowdler was very much interested in hearing this conversation, and
certainly thought very much better of Digby than he had before been
inclined to do.  "There is a great deal in that boy which may bring
forth good fruit, if it is properly developed," he said to himself.  It
made him very anxious that Digby should go to some school where the
moral as well as intellectual qualities of the boys were attended to.

Mr Heathcote did not wish to press the matter further on his son.  He
was convinced that he was innocent of the act committed, and he had no
doubt of the real delinquent.  Still he was very unwilling to have to
punish Julian, and he wished to pass the matter over, unless the boy was
positively accused before him of the crime.  Digby was told that he
might go back to the schoolroom and prepare for Mr Crammer.

Mr Bowdler had heard Mr Nugent, Mrs Heathcote's brother, very highly
spoken of, and he recommended that Digby should be placed under him till
a good school could be found.

Mr Heathcote liked the notion.  He could not bear the idea of having
Digby far separated from him.  Not that he saw much of the boy, but he
liked to feel and know that he was near him.  He fancied that he was
getting on very well with Mr Crammer, and, now that so excellent a
governess had come to instruct him, he thought that his education would
be well provided for.  He promised Mr Bowdler, therefore, that he would
ride over to Osberton and get his brother-in-law to take charge of
Digby.

Mr Bowdler, on his part, undertook to make inquiries for a good school
for the boy.

"I will send young Julian home," said Mr Heathcote.  "I see no
particular harm in him.  He seems a quiet, inoffensive lad; but, as you
think it advisable, it will be a good excuse for separating the two."

"Yes, a very good excuse," said Mr Bowdler.

Julian had been with Digby when the footman summoned him into his
father's presence.  He waited anxiously for his return.

"You've not peached, I hope, Digby?" said he.

"No, indeed," answered Digby, rather proudly.  "I wasn't going to tell a
story, either.  Your name wasn't mentioned, so you need not be afraid."

"That's jolly," exclaimed Julian, brightening up.  "I was afraid that
you would be letting the cat out of the bag."

"I don't know exactly what that means," answered Digby; "I said that if
some one was to be punished I was ready to suffer, and so I'm to be sent
off to school, and that's not very pleasant, let me tell you.  Not that
I mind the idea of school.  It may be a very good sort of place; but I
don't like to have to leave so many pleasant things behind me.  What
will my poor dear old dog Tomboy do without me?  And there's my pretty
pony Juniper, which papa only bought last spring for me, and which I've
taught to know me and follow me about the field like a dog.  How many
pleasant rides I expected to have on him; and he will have forgotten all
about me when I come back.  Then I was to have gone out shooting with
John Pratt in September; and I'm pretty certain papa would have got me a
small gun, for I know he would like to see me a good shot; he's a
first-rate one himself.  John says he'll back me up to kill a brace of
partridges within a week after I get my gun; but all that's come to an
end.  Then we were to have had such capital fishing.  John has been
getting my tackle ready for me, and has made me a prime rod, much better
than can be bought in the shops.  Trap and ball, and hoops, and cricket,
and marbles--not that I ever can endure marbles--and rounders, and
prisoner's base, and all those sort of games, can be had at school even
better than at home, with the fellows one may pick up; so that won't
make any difference.  But, as far as I can make out, they don't let one
go out birds'-nesting, or ferreting, or cross-bow shooting, or badger
hunting, or any of those sort of things which John Pratt is up to.
Schools must be very slow places, that's my opinion.  I don't suppose we
might even blow up a wasps' nest, if we were to find one.  If John Pratt
might go and live near, and take me out every day, and have some fun or
other, I shouldn't mind it.  Then, you see, I don't like leaving Kate
and little Gusty.  What Kate will do without me I do not know at all.  I
hope Miss Apsley will treat her kindly; if he don't I'll--" and Digby
looked very fierce, but said nothing more.

"If you don't like school, all you've to do is to run away," said
Julian, ever ready to offer evil counsel.  "That's what I would do, I
know; or, if you don't like the idea of going there, run away before.
Send to me, and I'll help you; I'm always ready to help a friend in
need."

"Thank you," said Digby; "oh, I know you would be, but I promised my
father that I would go willingly if he wished to send me; so go I must."

Julian might have urged that promises were like piecrust, as the vulgar
saying runs, made to be broken: but he already knew enough of Digby to
be aware that such an opinion would have no response in his bosom, so he
only said, "Well, when you get there, and change your mind, only let me
know, and I will help you if I ran."

Julian, two days after this, to his astonishment found that his things
were packed, and his father's carriage coming to the door, he was told
that after he had had some luncheon he was to go home.  Mr and Mrs
Heathcote, however, wished him good-bye very kindly, and so did the Miss
Heathcotes, and of course Digby did, so he began to hope that nothing
had been discovered.  No one, however, said that they hoped soon to see
him again.  He went away smiling in very good humour with himself, and
tolerably so with the rest of the world.  The next day Digby was sent
off to Mr Nugent's; this he did not at all like; he would rather have
gone to school at once.  He recollected how very slow he had always
thought the life there--the hours were so regular and early, and he had
no field-sports of any kind to indulge in.  Kate, however, promised to
keep up a constant correspondence with him, and to tell him all that
went forward at home.  He undertook to write long letters to her in
return, at which she smiled, for hitherto he decidedly had not exhibited
any proficiency either in orthography or calligraphy, indeed it required
a considerable amount of patience and ingenuity to decipher his
epistles.  Digby loved his father and mother well, though I have not
said so; he had an affectionate parting from them.  John Pratt drove him
over to Osberton.  His uncle received him in a very kind way; he did not
allude in the slightest way to any of his late misdemeanors.  There were
four or five other boys there as pupils, considerably older than he was.
They seemed very quiet, well-behaved lads, and perfectly happy and
contented with their lot.  Mr Nugent, though strict in insisting on his
directions being obeyed, evidently ruled by love rather than by fear.
Mrs Nugent was also a very amiable, kind person, who took a warm
interest in the lads committed to her husband's charge.  Digby had
before seen very little of his aunt.  Before he had been there many days
he felt that he liked her very much.  Really the time was much more
pleasantly spent than he expected.  Mr Nugent was never idle for a
moment; when out of doors he was always moving about visiting his
parishioners; in the house, he was superintending the studies of his
pupils, or writing or reading himself.  In an evening he would always
read some interesting book to them--he never failed to select one with
which they were anxious to go on; he encouraged those who could draw, or
net, or make models of wood, or pasteboard, to go on at the same time
with their manual occupations.  Digby could do nothing of the sort.  His
notion of drawing was very limited indeed; however, his aunt undertook
to teach him.  By learning how to hold his pencil properly, and to move
his hand freely, he was surprised to find what rapid progress he made;
he first had very simple sketches to copy--houses and barns, the greater
number of the lines in which were perpendicular or horizontal.  She
would not let him have any other sketches till he had learned to draw
what he called the up and down, and the along lines properly.

"You must do that again, Digby," she used to say in her laughing, kind
tone.  "I make my houses stand upright, and I cannot allow you to let
them tumble down.  Till you have learned to build up a barn or a cottage
you must not attempt to erect a church or a castle.  See, you will be
able, if you persevere, to do drawings like these."

And she showed him some very attractive coloured sketches, well
calculated to excite his ambition to equal them.  The books, too, his
uncle read, or which he allowed one of the other boys to read, were
frequently very amusing, though instructive fictions--accounts of the
adventures and travels of lads, just such as boys like; sometimes
history was read, and always once in the week some very interesting book
on religious subjects.  It is a great mistake to suppose that such
subjects cannot be made interesting, independent of their vast, their
unspeakable importance.  Altogether Digby found the evenings pass much
more pleasantly than he had when he spent them in the idle, do-nothing
way to which he had been accustomed at home.  What numbers and numbers
of valuable hours are thrown away--not even spent in amusement, but
literally in doing nothing, and in being discontented, and sleepy, and
stupid, which might and ought to be employed in so profitable and
interesting a manner.  Mr Nugent frequently spoke to his pupils on the
subject of the proper employment of their time, and although many had
come to him as accustomed to idle and waste it, as was Digby, they very
soon, from experiencing the pleasure and advantages it afforded them,
began to wish to spend it profitably.  He used to remark--"Never suppose
that you are doing no harm when you are idle.  Remember, in the first
place, that `Satan finds some evil still for idle hands to do;' so you
are voluntarily exposing yourself to his temptations.  In that alone you
are wrong; but also understand that time is given us to be employed
aright; that is tilt tenure, so to speak, on which we hold our
existence; our intellects, our talents, our strength, our faculties of
mind and body, were bestowed on us for that object.  Boys and young
people, and even grown men and women, fancy they were sent into the
world only to amuse themselves.  If they have wealth at their disposal
they think that they are at liberty to spend their time in as pleasant a
way as possible, and as for reckoning up each day what good thing they
have done in the world, and saying how have I employed the talent
entrusted by my Maker to my charge, such an idea never comes into their
heads; but, my boys, I want it to come into your heads and hearts, and
to fix it there firmly.  If you have wealth at your disposal, consider,
and reflect, and pray, that you may be guided how to employ it aright;
if you are compelled to labour for your existence, work away with a
willing heart and hand, always remembering that you are labouring in the
sight of God, and that he approves of those who are doing their best to
perform their duty in that state of life into which he has called them."
Digby listened to these remarks; they were quite new to him, and he did
not entirely understand them; but they made an impression, and got
stowed away somewhere in the crannies of his mind and heart, and in
after years found their way to the surface to some effect.  Digby got on
much better with his lessons than he had done with Mr Crammer.  All
that gentleman seemed to aim at was to make him _say_ a lesson; he
learnt to say his Latin grammar glibly enough, and to answer set
questions in geography and history; and as to his comprehension of what
he was repeating, no inquiries were made.  The consequences may be
supposed, and poor Digby, with fair natural abilities, possessed the
very smallest modicum of the information which the books he had read
were capable of affording.  Mr Nugent, on the contrary, cared little
how a pupil said his lessons from a book; his object was to put
information into his head, and not only to make it stay there, but to
show him how to employ it profitably when required.  He used to explain
that dictionaries, and grammars, and delectuses, and graduses, and pens,
and ink, and paper, and the art of reading, were only so many mechanical
contrivances for acquiring knowledge.  The first thing to be done is to
learn to use them to the best advantage.

[Note: a Gradus is a textbook used to train people learning Latin in the
art of writing Latin verse, especially hexameters and pentameters.]

"Now, Marshall and Digby, take those two Latin dictionaries, and find me
out the meaning of the words _Luna circum terram movetur_."

Marshall placed his dictionary well before him, rapidly turning over the
leaves with the thumb of one hand, while he held them fast with the
other: as his quick eye caught sight of them, he wrote them down on a
piece of paper by his side.

Digby fumbled away awkwardly, going backwards and forwards, showing
clearly that he did not know how to handle a dictionary.  "What were the
words you said, Uncle?" he asked at last.

Marshall had looked out and written all his down and poor Digby had
actually forgotten them before he had been able to find one of them out.

"The moon moves, or is moved, round the earth," said Marshall, quietly.

"Now you see, Digby, the advantage of being able to turn over the leaves
of a dictionary rapidly," said Mr Nugent.  "Of two people with equal
talents, the one who possesses that simple mechanical power to the
greatest perfection will beat the other, in as far as he will gain the
information for which he is seeking in so much less time.  A rapid,
clear writer, and a person with a quick observant eye, has a great
advantage over those who do not possess those qualifications."

Digby very well understood these observations, and set to work to
practise turning over the leaves of his dictionary and in looking out
words, till, with no little triumph, he proved that he could find out a
word almost as quickly as Marshall.

It was not, however, all work and no play at Mr Nugent's.  He was near
a river as well as near the sea, and, though he did not wish to give the
boys a taste for a naval life, yet he was anxious that they should be
instructed in rowing and sailing a boat, and in swimming.  Digby had
prided himself in being a proficient for his age in all manly sports,
but he found that he was very inferior to his fellow-pupils with regard
to those connected with the water.  It was satisfactory, however, to
find from Marshall, who became his chief friend, that when they first
came they were no better than he was.  They were mostly as ignorant, and
accustomed to be idle, and knew nothing of aquatic amusements.  Mr
Nugent, who was very fond of boating, though he had little time to spend
in it, occasionally went out with them; but on other occasions they were
committed to the charge of an old seaman, Tobias Tubb by name.  Of
course he was always called Toby Tubb, or still more familiarly spoken
of as Toby.  Toby had served in all sorts of craft, from a
line-of-battle ship to a collier, and, report said, at one time in a
smuggling lugger; but he had good reasons for not wishing that
circumstance to be alluded to.  He was loquacious enough, however, with
regard to all the other events of his life, which he pumped up from time
to time from the depths of his memory, and sent them flowing forth in a
rich stream for the benefit of his hearers.  He was a great favourite
with the boys, who delighted to listen to his yarns; and he took an
interest in his young charges, and was equally pleased to describe the
events of his nautical career.  His boat was a fine wholesome craft,
eighteen feet long, with good beam.  She had a spritsail, jib, foresail,
and mizen.  Never did he appear so happy as when he had them all on
board for an afternoon's sail.  Tubb was a very appropriate name for
him.  He was somewhat stout and short, with a round, ruddy, good-natured
countenance, a bald forehead, and white hair on either side of it.  He
was all roundness.  His head was round, and his face was round, and his
eyes, and his nose, and his mouth were round.  His nose was like a very
funny little round button; but it looked so good-natured, and cocked up
so quaintly, that the boys declared that they would not have it changed
on any account for the first Roman nose in existence.  No more,
probably, would Toby, who had been very well contented with it for full
sixty years, it having, as he said, served him many a good turn during
that period.  "No, no; we should never be ashamed of old friends who
have been faithful and true, and wish to exchange them for finer folk,"
he used to remark, when, as was sometimes the case, his fellow-boatmen
humorously twitted him about his lose.

The first day that Digby went out in the John Dory, as Toby called his
boat, he discovered his ignorance of nautical affairs.  He had day after
day been on the ponds at Bloxholme, but then John Pratt had rowed him
about, and he had never thought of learning to row himself.

The river was wide at the mouth, and, as there were deep sheltered bays,
it was a good place for rowing.  When sailing, however, it was necessary
to be careful, for gusts often came down suddenly between the cliffs,
and had frequently upset boats the people in which had not been ready to
let go the sheets in an instant.  There was no wind this day.

"Now, young gen'man," said Toby, looking at Digby, "you'll just take an
oar and pull with the rest?"

"Oh yes," answered Digby, who was always ready to undertake any manual
exercise, "I'll row."

Marshall and the other boys got out the oars.  Toby eyed Digby, and
guessed, by the way he handled his oar the state of the case.  However,
Digby persevered in silence.

The boat slowly receded from the shore, Toby steering.  Digby, who sat
about midships, looked at Marshall, and Easton, and Power, who sat
further astern, and tried to imitate their movements.  He did so very
fairly.  He thought that he was performing his part wonderfully well.

Toby's nose curled more than usual as he looked at him.

"Give way, my lads, give way," he sung out.

The other boys instantly bent to their oars, and made much more rapid
strokes than before.  Digby had not the slightest notion what "giving
way" meant.  He only knew, to his cost, that he gave way, for his oar
caught in the water, and over he toppled on his back to the bottom of
the boat.

"Caught a crab, caught a crab," sung out the other boys, laughing.

Digby jumped up immediately, full of eagerness, not minding his bruises
a bit.

"Have I?  Where is he? where is he?  Let me see him," he exclaimed.

This made the rest laugh still more.

"It's only the sort of crab most young ge'men catches when first they
begins to learn to row," said Toby; "jump up and take your oar, and
you'll soon catch another, I warrant."

So Digby found, but he was not a boy to be beat by such an occurrence.
Each time he jumped up as quickly as he could, and grasping his oar,
went on pulling as before.

"What do you mean by `Give way?'" he asked, when he discovered that
these words invariably produced the unpleasant results.

"I means much the same as the soldier officers does when they says
`Double quick march.'"

"Oh, I see, we are to make the boat go as fast as we can," observed
Digby.

After that he caught fewer crabs, Toby having also advised him not to
dip the blade of his oar so deeply in the water.  In a few days he
learned how to feather his oar, that is, when lifting the blade out of
the water, to turn it, so as to keep it almost horizontal with the
surface.  This is done that it may not hold wind, and in a rough sea,
that it may be less likely to be struck by a wave, or if it is, that it
may cut through the top.  He also learned to keep time with the rest, a
very essential requisite in rowing.

"You've done capitally," said Marshall, after they landed the first day,
"many fellows have been here for some time before they have done as
well."

This praise encouraged Digby, and he determined to learn to be a good
boatman.  He expressed his intentions to Toby.  The old man laughed.

"You'll be good enough in time, I've no doubt, master, but it will take
you some years before you are fit to be trusted.  There's nothing but
experience will make a sailor.  You must be out in gales of wind, and
have all your sails blown away, and your masts carried over the side,
and find yourself on a lee shore on a dark night, with rocks close
aboard, and no room to wear, and the wind blowing great guns and small
arms, and a strong current running here and there, and setting you on to
the coast; and then, if you find means to save the ship, I'll allow that
you're something of a sailor."

Digby did not know what all this meant, but he thought the description
very dreadful, and certainly he had no notion how he should act.  As,
however, he had no wish to become a real sailor, that did not trouble
him.  Easton, however, took in every word that was said.  He had set his
heart on going to sea, and none of the descriptions of shipwrecks and
disasters in which the old man indulged had any terrors for him.  They
only the more excited his ardour, and he longed to encounter and
overcome them.

When Toby Tubb saw that Digby could row fairly, he began to teach him to
sail a boat.

"First you have to learn how to steer, Master Digby," he observed; "look
over the stern, you see how the rudder is, now put your hand in the same
line above it.  Now I press against your hand, the water is pressing
just in the same way against the rudder.  If you keep your arm stiff, I
should make you turn round.  Now, the rudder is stiff as long as you
don't let the tiller move, and so the water turns the boat round.  Now
put the tiller over on the opposite side, then you see the boat also
turns the opposite way.  You understand, to steer you must be going on,
or, what's the same thing, a current must be running past you.  If there
is no movement in the water, you may wriggle the tiller about as much as
you please, and you can't turn the boat's head.  Just understand, too,
that the water is a thing that presses.  It will give way, certainly.
It is not like a rock, but still it presses all around you.  That's the
reason why a vessel sails stem first, that is to say, she cuts the water
with the sharpest part, if the sails are trimmed properly to make her do
so.  You may trim the sails to make her sail stern first, or if there's
a gale of wind right abeam, she goes partly ahead, but also drives
before it with her side, that's what we call making lee way.  Now as to
the sails, you see, we have to balance them, or to trim them, as we call
it.  Once, I'm told, ships were only made to sail right before the wind.
Funny voyages they must have been, I'm thinking.  What a time they must
have been about them, waiting for a fair wind; no wonder they didn't get
round the world in those days.  Now, you see, we can sail not only with
the wind abeam as close, as four and a half points to the wind in fore
and after craft.  Still if we want to get where the wind blows from, we
could never do it if we couldn't tack ship, and sail away four and a
half points on the other side of the wind.  That's what we call working
a traverse.  Away a ship sails, zig-zagging along if there isn't too
much wind to blow her back, every tack making good some ground till she
reaches the port to which she's bound.  That's what I calls the
_philusfy_ of navigation.  But I haven't yet told you how the sails act
on the vessel.  You see the wind presses on them, just as the water does
on the hull.  The better you can get the wind to blow on them at what
they calls a right angle, the greater force it has.  So in a
square-rigged ship, if you can bring the wind a little on the quarter,
so that every sail, studden-sails, alow and aloft, can be made to draw,
you'll have the greatest pressure on the sails, and send the ship on the
fastest.  But we come to balancing, when a ship is on a wind.  If all
the sail was set forward, it would turn her head round, or if all was
set aft it would turn her stern round.  So we set some forward, and some
aft, and some amidships, and then we trim them together properly, and
away she goes in the direction we put her head.  Then, you see, if we
want to turn her head round we shake the wind out of her after sails, or
trice them up, and if we want her stem to go round, we do the same with
her head sails, and that, Master Heathcote, is what I calls the theory
of sailing.  There's a good deal more for you to learn before you will
be fit to be trusted in a boat by yourself, but if you keeps close to
those principles, you can't be far wrong in the long run."

Such was Digby's first lesson in seamanship.  He did not take in all
that was said to him; indeed he was rather young for comprehending the
subject, but it made him think and inquire further; and Toby Tubb was
perfectly satisfied that his lessons were not thrown away.

"It's very strange," soliloquised Toby, "the fathers and mothers of
these young ge'men pays lots of money to have 'em taught to ride and
dance, and to speak Latin and French, and all sorts of gimcrack
nonsense, and not one in a thousand ever thinks of making them learn how
to knot, and splice, and reef, and steer, and to take an observation, or
work a day's work, which to my mind is likely to be far more useful to
'em when they comes to take care of themselves in the world.  As for me,
I don't know what I should have done without the first, though the
shooting the sun and the navigation was above me a good way."

"There's nothing like leather."  Toby would have said, there is nothing
like hemp, and pitch, and tar, and heart of oak.  It is quite as well
that different people should have different opinions.  Thus the world is
prevented from stagnating.



CHAPTER FOUR.

DIGBY GAINS A KNOWLEDGE OF BOATING AND OTHER MANLY EMPLOYMENTS--THE
WONDERS OF THE SEA-SIDE--A SHIPWRECK--DIGBY PROVES HIMSELF A HERO--HOW
HE GAINED A FRIEND.

Digby, as he became more practised in the arts, gained a keen relish for
boating, not mere pulling, but for sailing--the harder it blew, the
better pleased he was.  In this he was joined by Easton, who was always
delighted when old Toby would take them out on a stormy day.  Marshall
and the others confessed that they liked fine weather sailing.

"But, suppose the boat was capsized, what would you do?" said Marshall
to Digby.

"Hold on to her, I suppose," was the answer.

"But very likely you would be thrown to a distance, what then?"

"Why I should try and catch what was nearest to me," replied Digby.

"But suppose there was nothing near you," remarked his friend.

"Then, I suppose I should--.  Let me see, I scarcely know what I should
do--I should try to swim," said Digby, after some hesitation.

"That is just what I wanted to bring you to," said Marshall.  "You have
not learned to swim, you know, and you assuredly would not then swim for
the first time, so that if no one was near to help you, you would
inevitably be drowned.  Take my advice--learn to swim forthwith; Toby
will teach you.  If you were to go to Eton, you would not be allowed to
go in the boats till you had learnt.  Everybody should know how to swim,
both for their own sakes and for the benefit of their fellow-creatures.
It is really disgraceful for an English boy not to know how to do what
even savages can do so well."

Marshall went on in this style till Digby felt perfectly ashamed of
himself, and resolved to learn as soon as possible if Toby would teach
him.  He was manly enough, as has been seen, in disposition, but all his
knowledge of manly exercises he had acquired from John Pratt, except
riding, which his father had taken a pride in teaching him.  Swimming
was not among John Pratt's accomplishments, and so Digby had remained
ignorant of it.  There are many boys like him, brought up at home or at
small private schools, who are even worse off.  In many instances their
education is very carefully attended to, but for fear of accidents they
are not allowed to bathe, or climb trees, or to shoot.  Numbers have
suffered from this mistake when they have had to go out into the world
and take care of themselves--they have been drowned, when, had they been
able to swim, their lives would have been saved; had they been
accustomed to climb, they might have scaped from a burning house, a
wrecked ship, or a wild beast, while they have been called upon to use
fire-arms before they know how to load a gun.

"Toby," said Digby, "I want to learn how to swim."

"Then come along, master," replied the old man, and they rowed across to
a quiet little bay, with a sandy shore, sheltered by rocks, on the side
of the river opposite the town.  "Pull off your clothes, master," said
Toby, as they were still some little way from the shore.

Digby did as he was bid.

"Now, jump overboard," added Toby.

Digby stood up, but as he looked into the water and could see no bottom,
he shuddered at the thought of plunging in.  Toby passed a band round
his waist with a rope to it, but Digby scarcely perceived this--he felt
himself pushed, and over he went, heels over head, under the water.

"Oh, I'm drowning, I'm drowning," he cried out when he came to the
surface.

"Oh no, you're not, master, you're all right," said the old man.
"Strike out for the shore, and try if you can't swim there."

Digby did strike out, but wildly, and not in a way that would have kept
him afloat.

"That's the way you'd have done if the boat was capsized, and you'd have
drowned yourself and any one who came to help you," remarked Toby; "but
catch hold of this oar.  Now strike away with your feet, right astern;
not out of the water, though; keep them lower down.  That's the way to
go ahead.  Steady, though; strike both of them together.  Slow, though;
slower.  We're in no hurry, there's plenty of time; you can learn the
use of your hands another day.  Draw your legs well under you.  Now, as
I give the word--strike out, draw up; strike out, draw up.  That will do
famously.  If you keep steadily at it you'll learn to swim in a very few
days."

Digby felt rather tired when he and the boat at length reached the
shore.  He had some notion that he had towed her there, which he had
not, though.  He had learned an important part of the art of swimming.
When he came out of the water, and had dressed, Toby showed him how to
use his hands.

"Now, Master Heathcote, look here.  Do as I do."

Toby put his hands together, with the fingers straight out and close to
each other, and the palms slightly hollowed.  Then he brought them up to
his breast, and darting them forward, separated his hands and pressed
them backwards till he brought his elbows down to the hips, close to his
body, and again turned his wrists till his hands once more got back to
the attitude with which he had started.  He made Digby do this over and
over again, till he was quite eager to jump into the water and put his
knowledge into practice.

"No, no, master," said Toby, "you've had bathing enough to-day.  Just do
you keep on doing those movements whenever you have a spare moment, and
to-morrow we'll see how well you can do them in the water."

Digby was certain that not only would he do them perfectly, but that he
should be able to swim any distance.

Toby said nothing, but his nose curled up in its quiet funny way.

The next day was very fine, and all the boys came down to bathe, and to
see Digby swim, as he boasted he could do perfectly well.  They crossed
over to the bay, all of them getting ready for a plunge.

"Now, Digby," cried Marshall, when they got near the shore, "overboard
we go."

"All right," cried Digby, putting his hands into the scientific
attitude, as far as he could recollect it; and, with great courage, he
jumped into the water.

Somehow or other, he could not tell why, down he went some way under the
surface, and when he came up he had forgotten all about the way to
strike out which Toby had taught him.  Instead of that, he flung about
his arms and kicked his legs out in the wildest manner, and would have
gone down again had not Marshall swam up alongside him, and, putting his
hand under his chin, told him to keep perfectly quiet till he had
collected his senses.  He had resolution enough to do this, and was
surprised to find himself floating on the surface of the water with so
little support.

"Bravo, Master Marshall," cried Toby.  "Now strike out, Master
Heathcote, as I showed you."

The recollection of how to strike came back to Digby, and, to his great
delight, he found himself making some progress towards the shore, his
friend still holding him up by the chin.

"Let me go, I am sure I can swim alone," he cried.

Marshall did so, but, after a few strokes, down he went, and again he
forgot what he had done so satisfactorily on dry land.  His feet,
however, touched the bottom, and, hopping on one leg, he went on
striking out with his hands, and fancying that he was swimming, till he
reached the shore.  His companions, of course, laughed at him, but he
did not mind that, and, running in again, he made one or two more
successful attempts, but he forbore boasting any more of the distance he
was going to swim.  When once again he had gone out till the water
reached his chin, he found the boat close to him.

"Don't be swimming any more, Master Heathcote, but give me your hand,"
said Toby, taking it.  "There, now throw yourself on your back, stick
your legs out, put your head back as far as it will go, lift up your
chest, now don't move, let your arms hang down.  There, I'll hold you
steady; a feather would do it.  Now you feel how the water keeps you up.
There, you might stay there for an hour, or a dozen hours for that
matter, if it wasn't for the cold, in smooth water.  You'll learn to
swim in a very few days now, I see, without your clothes, and then you
must learn with your clothes on.  If I couldn't have done that I should
not have been here; I should have been drownded long ago."

Thus discoursing, the old man let Digby float by the side of the boat
till he had been long enough in the water, and then he helped him out
and made him dress quickly.

The other boys then got in, and consulted together how they should spend
the remainder of the afternoon.  Power, who was the chief fisherman of
the party, voted for going outside and trying to catch some mackerel.
No objections were made.  Toby consented: he had lines and hooks in the
boat.

They pulled down to the mouth of the river, and were very soon in the
open sea.  There was scarcely any wind, the sea was blue and bright, the
coast was picturesque, with rocky headlands, and white sandy bay; and
green downs above, and cliffs on which numberless wildfowl had taken up
their habitations.  As they pulled close under the rocks, numbers of
gulls flew out, screaming loudly at the intruders on their domains.

"I have often thought, when I have heard people talking of their ancient
families and their ancient homes, how much more ancient are the families
and the abodes of those white-coated gentry," observed Marshall.  "Up
there, now, perhaps, the ancestors of those birds have lived, from
generation to generation, since the flood.  They witnessed the first
peopling of our tight little island by the painted savages, who were as
barbarous as the New Zealanders or the Fejee Islanders of the present
century; the landing of Julius Caesar and his warriors, the battles of
the Norsemen, the Danes, and the Saxons, and the defeat of the Spanish
armada.  I wish that they could tell us all the interesting things they
have seen."

Easton liked the idea.  Digby did not understand it, for his knowledge
of history was very limited.

"I know what they've seen," observed Toby.  "They've seen many a cargo
of smuggled silks, and teas, and brandies run hereabouts, in days gone
by."

"Oh, those smugglers are jolly fellows!" exclaimed Digby.  "I should
like to see something of their fun.  I can't fancy any finer sport than
landing a cargo and having to run the gauntlet among a whole posse of
revenue officers."

"Something like prisoners' base, you would say," observed Marshall,
"only, I suspect, with a greater chance of being caught and shut up for
a longer time than would be pleasant."

"I'll tell you what it is, young gentlemen," said Toby, who had been
listening in silence to Digby's and the other boys' thoughtless remarks,
"smuggling is a very bad business, let me tell you.  I've seen something
of it, and I know what it is.  I've seen money made by it, I'll allow,
just as I've seen money made by other evil practices; but I've seen very
many fine fellows brought to a bad end by it, and have never known any
to prosper long at it.  Laws were made for the good of all, and no man
has a right to break them for his own advantage or pleasure.  Though I'm
only a poor boatman I've found that out, and it's my duty to make others
understand the truth, as well as I can."

The boys confessed that they had never before seen the matter in that
light.  They had thought smugglers, and pirates, and bandits, and
highwaymen, and outlaws of all descriptions very fine fellows; and it
had never occurred to them that they should be looked upon as base
scoundrels, who deserved to be hung, or severely punished in some other
way.

"Now let us have out the lines," exclaimed Power, who was eager to begin
fishing.  Two of the party paddled the boat on, relieving each other, at
the rate of about two miles an hour.

Toby produced four long, thin lines, wound up on wooden reels.  The
lines were considerably slighter than log-lines.  Five hooks were
fastened to each, about a yard apart.

"But where is the bait?" asked Digby.  "You cannot catch fish without
bait."

"Oh, mackerel are in no ways particular," answered Toby; "a bit of tin
or white rag will attract them; but see, I have some hooks with some
capital bait.  It is called a white cock's hackle.  The feathers are
fastened on to the butt, and project an inch or more beyond the bend, so
as to cover the barb.  This is certain to catch any fish which see it."

The lines were thrown overboard, one on each side, and one over each
quarter.  Toby assisted Digby to manage his.

Digby was quite delighted when he felt a sharp tug at the end of his
line.

"Haul in, haul in; you've got him," said Toby.

Digby hauled away, and soon he saw a fish skimming and jumping along on
the smooth surface of the blue water, leaving a thin wake behind him,
while his bright scales glistened in the sun.  Digby shouted with
glee,--"I've the first, I've the first.  Huzza!"

He almost tumbled overboard in his eagerness to catch hold of the fine
mackerel which came with what he called a hop, skip, and a jump
alongside.  He lifted the fish in.  The poor mackerel, with his dark
back and white belly, did not look nearly so bright out of the water as
he had done in it.  Digby thought it a very elegant-looking fish, and
very unlike any he had ever before caught with John Pratt.

"Now we shall catch a plenty," said Toby, as, to Digby's dismay, he took
the fish, and, cutting it up into strips, baited each of the hooks with
it.  "These mackerel like nothing better than their own kind."

Two or three dozen mackerel were quickly caught, of which Digby hauled
up several.

"But have we no chance of catching any carp, or tench, or perch?" he
asked, seriously.  "I should have thought that there must be plenty
about here."

His companions laughed heartily.

"What is the taste of the water alongside?" asked Marshall.

"Salt," said Digby, tasting it.

"Do you think freshwater fish will live in salt-water?" observed his
friend.

"Oh, you fine sportsman!  You laugh at us for not knowing so much about
dogs, and horses, and shooting, and racing, and hunting as you pretend
to do, and yet you are ignorant of far more important, and just as
interesting matters."

"Still, young gentlemen, I'm thinking that every man shines most in his
own element, as the mackerel would say, if they could speak, and would
rather be left there," observed Toby, who was a great philosopher in
many respects, although no man could be much more prejudiced with regard
to his own calling of a sailor than he was.  Such is often the ease.
When judging of the opinion of others, we should always try to discover
whether we are not prejudiced too much in favour of our own.

The boys had a capital evening's sport, and Digby learned much more
about conger-eels, and whiting, and bass, and mullet, and turbot, and
plaice, and John Dories, and brill, and other salt-water fish, than he
had ever known before.  He was daily discovering, by practical
experience, that there are many things in creation "of which he had
never before dreamed in his philosophy."  In other words, he began to
suspect, that though he was a very fine fellow, daring to do anything,
and ready to fight any boy of his age, he was in reality a remarkably
ignorant young gentleman.  This, to a lad of Digby's disposition, was a
very important discovery.  He was, I hope, on the high road to
improvement.  There is a saying, that "Where ignorance is bliss, it is
folly to be wise;" but depend on it, the moment the ignorance is
suspected, it is much greater folly not to set strenuously to work to
correct it.

When the lads got home, they recounted with great glee their adventures,
and offered, with much satisfaction, their baskets of fish to Mrs
Nugent.  They were served up fresh for breakfast and dinner the next
day, and for two or three days afterwards, cut open and salted.

Digby heard Mr Nugent speaking of the wonders of the deep.

"What, uncle, are there any things besides fish in the sea?" he asked
with, what the other boys thought, an almost incredible amount of
simplicity.

One of the few recreations Mr Nugent allowed himself, was a fishing
expedition on board a trawler.  Not that he cared much for the fish
which the trawl caught, but his delight was to examine the numberless
specimens of animal marine life which came up at the same time.  Digby
heard his uncle and Marshall talking about Noctilucae, and Medusae, and
Cydippi Actiniae, and Asterias, and Echini, and Terebellae, and
Nereides, and Cirripedes, and Solens, and Gastropods, and numberless
other creatures with hard names, which he thought that he could never
recollect, and about which he was persuaded he could not understand.

"And are all these animals found in the sea near here?" he asked.

"Yes, and thousands more," answered his uncle; "it would take a lifetime
to catch and note the habits of those found on this coast alone.  Each
person can only hope to add a little to the stock of knowledge which
others have obtained, and to ascertain what has been discovered by
others.  Still, the pursuit of that knowledge is so delightful, as is,
indeed, the study of all God's works, that those occupied in it find
themselves amply repaid for all the physical and mental exertion they
have to take to attain it."

"Are the things you speak of like horses, and dogs, and cats, or more
like fish?" asked Digby, seriously.  "I should think with such curious
names they must be very curious looking things."

Marshall and Power laughed heartily, and even his uncle could not help
smiling as he replied:

"Curious and wonderful, indeed, they are, but they are not fish in
appearance, and still less like terrestrial quadrupeds.  Some have their
heads at the end of their feet, and their eyes at the extremities of
their arms.  Some walk on their heads, and others have their arms
growing from the top of their heads.  Some, too, can turn themselves
inside out, and others of their own accord, break themselves to pieces,
and then, what is more wonderful still, like one of the tricks to be
seen at a pantomime, the bits send forth arms, and legs, and heads, and
tails, and become perfect animals again."

Digby listened with mute astonishment.  He knew that his uncle would not
tell him an untruth, and yet he fancied that, somehow or other, he must
be laughing at him.  The account he had heard, however, made him look
forward eagerly to the promised trawling expedition.

The day approached, but Digby was doomed to be disappointed.  A heavy
gale of wind sprung up in the evening, and blew with great violence
during the night.

The next day was Saturday, and was a half-holiday.  Just as the boys had
finished their lessons, a servant-girl came running in, exclaiming:

"Oh, sir, they say that there is a big ship driving on the shore, and
that all the poor souls in her will be lost.  Oh, it's very dreadful! oh
dear! oh dear!"

Mr Nugent seized his hat and stick, and the boys prepared to follow
him.

"Stay, we will take a brandy-flask, and any rope to be had--a long pole
may be useful."

These articles being quickly found, the boys carrying them, they hurried
out to the beach.

Not the eighth of a mile from the shore was a dismasted vessel, rolling
and tumbling about in the most fearful manner.  The crew were trying to
get up jury-masts, or sheers rather, which are formed of two spars, the
butt ends resting against the sides of the ship, and the others joined
together.  The sheers were got up, and then an endeavour was made to
hoist a sail on them, to beat the ship off the shore.  It was utterly
useless.  The sail was blown to ribbons, and the sheers blown away.  The
last resource was to anchor.  This was done, and the ship rode head to
wind, plunging, however, even more violently than before.  Toby Tubb
just then joined Mr Nugent and his pupils.

"There's no use in it.  There's no ground here will hold an anchor ten
minutes together."  His prediction proved too true.  On drove the
hapless ship.  She had parted from her anchors, no human power could
avert the expected catastrophe.  The only hope that any of those on
board could be saved, would be that the ship might drive into the sandy
cove in which they were standing.  If she struck on the dark ledges of
rock outside, not a person on board, it was thought, could be saved.
The sea was breaking with tremendous violence over them, creating sheets
of foam, which were driven towards the shore, almost blinding the
lookers-on.

Digby thought he could almost hear the shrieks of the unfortunate people
on board.  He could see them, clearly, throwing up their arms, as if
imploring aid from their fellow-men, who were utterly unable to afford
it.

"Could no boat go off to them?" asked Mr Nugent, eagerly.

"No, sir, no boat would live a second in that sea, alongside those
rocks," answered Toby; "what men can do we will do, when the time comes;
more is unpossible."

"I have a rope and some poles, you see," said Mr Nugent; "they may be
useful."

"So have I, sir, but two ropes may be better than one," was Toby's
reply.  "Now, lads, be ready to do what I tells you; follow me."

He addressed a party of seamen and fishermen, not all very young though,
who were standing near with their hands in their pockets, exhibiting,
apparently, very little interest in what was going forward.  The
ill-fated ship rose on the top of the huge waves which rolled onward
towards the shore.  Now it appeared that she would be engulphed between
them.  No further effort was made on board to save her.  Such would have
been hopeless.  Each person was intent on making preparations for his
own safety.  Digby gazed with horror; he felt inclined to shriek out
himself, as he saw the danger of the poor fellows on board.  He would
gladly have run away and forgotten all about it, but yet he could not
tear himself from the spot, or his eyes from the driving ship.  A few
minutes more, and her fate would be sealed.

"Follow me, lads," suddenly exclaimed old Toby, and led the way towards
a ledge of rocks which jutted out into the sea, and formed one side of
the bay of which I have spoken.

In a moment the fishermen had their hands out of their pockets, and were
all life and activity.  Carrying some long spars and several coils of
rope, they hurried after Toby to the end of the reef.  Toby was seen to
stop.  Digby and his companions held their breath--well they might.  It
seemed as if the ship must strike the very end of that black reef, over
which the sea was breaking with violence so fearful that it must have
shattered to fragments the stoutest ship that ever floated.  On she
came; there was a pause it seemed; a cross-sea struck her, and amidst a
deluge of foam she was hurled past the point, and driven in towards the
bay.  Another sea lifted her up, and then down she came on the beach,
still far out among the breakers, with a tremendous crash, which seemed
to shake the very shore.  Now was the moment of greatest peril to those
on board--the seas meeting with a resistance they had not hitherto
found, dashed furiously over the hull, carrying away the bulwarks, and
the boats, and caboose, and everything still remaining on deck.  The
crew clung to ropes made fast to the stumps of the masts, or to
ring-bolts in the decks, but the strength of many of them could not
withstand the fury of the seas.  One after the other was torn from his
hold, and hurled among the boiling breakers.  In vain the poor fellows
struck out; the receding waves dashed them against the side of the ship,
or carried them struggling hopelessly far out to sea, where they were
lost to sight among the foam.

While this was going forward, Toby and his companions were trying every
means they could think of to get a rope carried to the wreck.
Unfortunately they were unprovided with Captain Manby's apparatus, or
any other contrivance for throwing a shot with a line attached to it
over a wreck, so that by the line a hawser might be hauled on shore.
There were none of those excellent inventions--life-boats--in the
neighbourhood, which are now, happily, stationed all along the British
coast, and have been the means of saving the lives of numbers of human
beings; even the coastguard officer and most of his men had gone that
morning to a distance.  Toby had, therefore, to trust to his own
resources.  The crew seemed utterly unable to make any effort to save
themselves; indeed they saw that should they let go their hold, any
moment they might be washed overboard and drowned.  Toby had got a small
keg, to which he fastened a line, and seemed to hope that it might be
carried out by the receding wave towards the wreck, but though it went
some way, another wave came in before it got far enough to be of any
use, and sent it rolling back again with a coil of seaweed, mixed with
sand and foam, on the beach.  Toby next fastened a rope round his own
waist, and seemed to contemplate the possibility of swimming off himself
to the wreck, but the men round him held him back, persuading him that
the risk was too great.  He stood, evidently seeing that there was very
little chance of success.  Now another huge wave came foaming up.  The
crew turned their heads with a gaze of horror and alarm as they watched
its approach.  On it came, roaring loudly.  All on board grasped with a
gripe, in which the force of every sinew and muscle was exerted to the
utmost, the masts and ropes to which they were holding.  The wave struck
the ship, shaking her huge hull to the keel, and driving her still
further on the beach.  One poor fellow must have had a less secure gripe
than the rest, or else its fury must have been concentrated on him.  It
tore him from his hold, lifted him up, and as it passed over, he was
seen struggling in the water.  He struck out boldly.  Now the roaring
hissing sea carried him onward, then back again, now a side wave took
him and drove him in the direction of the spot where Toby and his
companions were standing.  Toby signed to the men to hold the rope, and
plunging in amid the foam, struck out towards the struggling seaman.
Now they were separated, now they were brought nearer together.  Now it
seemed as if the stranger would be carried out, as had been the others,
by the receding wave.  But the brave fellow still struggled on.  It was
too evident, however, that his efforts were growing weaker and weaker.
Toby sung out to him to encourage him to persevere.  Toby got close to
him, but just then a hissing wave went rolling back, the stranger threw
up his arms in despair, and was buried beneath the foam.  Toby darted
forward and disappeared beneath the water.

"Oh, he is gone, he is drowned, our poor Toby!" exclaimed Digby, giving
way to his feelings.

But Toby had only dived, and the next instant appeared grasping the body
of the seaman, but was being carried at a fearful rate out to sea.  His
friends on shore hauled in, however, gently on the rope, and gradually
drew him and the seaman towards them.  Still, Toby had much to contend
with; the sea tumbled about and broke wildly around him, and now the
water would make a rush in one direction and then in another, rendering
swimming almost impossible.  At length the rocks were reached.  Several
of the fishermen who had fastened ropes to their waists, rushed into the
sea to his assistance, and at length he and the nearly drowned man were
hauled up on the rocks.

"Bravo! excellent, brave fellow!" exclaimed Mr Nugent,
enthusiastically, "thank heaven, too, that the poor man is saved."

Digby shouted with delight.  "Oh, Toby is a grand fellow!" he exclaimed;
in which sentiment he was joined by his fellow-pupils.

Meantime, Mr Nugent hurried off to be of assistance, if required, to
the rescued man.

The escape of one of their shipmates seemed to give courage to the other
people on board.  Another man leaped off the wreck with a line, and
boldly struck out for the rocks.  Toby, notwithstanding his previous
exertions, dashed into the sea to meet him, but whether or not he would
succeed appeared very doubtful.

Meantime, another sea came rolling over the wreck.  Directly afterwards,
two human forms were seen struggling in the waves.  Sometimes the sea
carried them so close to the beach, that it seemed as if they could
almost touch the sand with their feet; then out they were carried once
more, and it appeared that they would be lost altogether.  This was the
more sad as Toby and the man, who had jumped off the wreck with the
line, had almost succeeded in establishing a communication between it
and the shore.  One of the people got so close to them that they could
see his features.  He was evidently a lad, not so old as Marshall.

"I am certain I could get hold of him," cried Digby, suddenly fastening
the rope round his own waist in the way Toby had taught him.  "Here, do
you hold the rope tight."

"I ought to go," said Marshall, throwing off his jacket.

"No, no--no time to be lost--now or never," cried Digby, rushing into
the sea just as the wave, having brought the almost senseless lad close
to the beach, was about to carry him off again.

Had he hesitated for a moment he would have been too late.  He thought
not of his own safety.  On he rushed.  The receding water took him off
his legs.  He struck out; he was turned heels over head.  Still he
dashed on.  He was within half an arm's-length of the drowning lad.
"Oh, I must have him," he thought to himself.  He sprung on; he caught
him by the collar of his jacket.  "Haul away," he sung out.

Marshall and the rest saw that he had got hold of the boy, though they
could not hear him speak.

Nothing but death would have made him relinquish that grasp, he felt.

His companions hauled away, and much force was required, for so strong
was the reflux of the wave that all his own strength would not have
opposed it.

Almost drowned himself, and scarcely sensible, holding tight on to the
boy, he at length was caught hold of by his friends, who ran up with him
and his burden out of the reach of the waves.

They undid the lad's collar and handkerchief.  He was breathing, but
insensible.  He was as well dressed as they were, and was certainly not
a poor sailor-boy, as Digby had fancied,--not that that would have made
any difference, of course.

Easton ran off to call Mr Nugent, while Marshall, Power, and Norton
attended to the stranger and Digby.

Meantime, they were anxiously looking out for the other person they had
seen in the water.  They could just distinguish him, but he had drifted
a long way out, and was making no effort to save himself.

Digby very soon came to his senses, as did the boy he had so gallantly
rescued.  No sooner did the latter open his eyes than he looked up and
exclaimed, "Oh, my father, my father; where is he?"  He gazed with a
countenance expressive of the greatest fear towards the ocean.  Then he
started up, and would have rushed back into the water, had not Marshall
and Digby prevented him.

In the mean time, some more fishermen and other persons had assembled at
the scene of action.  One of them was noted for being a first-rate
swimmer.  He was somewhat of a rival, too, of Toby's, though they were
excellent friends.  Fastening a rope round his waist, he plunged in and
swam out boldly and strongly amid the foaming breakers towards the
drowning man.  When the rescued boy saw what he was doing, he was
immediately calm, and kneeling down on the sand, with uplifted hands,
regardless of the bystanders, was evidently praying.  What mattered it
to him what others thought; the life of a beloved parent was in the
greatest extreme of danger.  He saw clearly that no help which he could
afford him or could obtain would be of any avail, and thus wisely and
with right faith he sought it whence alone it could be given.

The other boys stood around.  Marshall joined his prayers to those of
the young stranger, that his father might be saved.  Digby wished it,
and would have done anything to assist the struggling man; but how to
pray he knew not.  It was a moment of awful suspense; he felt it so
himself.  How must that kneeling boy have felt it!

The brave fisherman--John Holmes was his name--swam on.  He was joined
by Toby, and at the same time the cask was floated out.  It was let go
at the light moment.  The person struggling in the water saw it, and
endeavoured to reach it.  Twice he was washed away far off from it.  No
exclamation all the time was heard from the lips of his son.  He gazed
intently on what was going forward.  Sometimes he appeared to be about
to rise and rush towards the ocean; but he restrained himself, and
continued kneeling.  A shriek, it was one of joy, escaped him when he
saw his father at length grasp hold of the cask.

The two brave fishermen now swam up near him and assisted to hold him
on, while all three were hauled through the foaming surf towards the
rocks.

Then, and not till then, did the young stranger rise from his knees, and
hurry on towards the spot where he believed his father was about to be
landed.

Those in the water were, however, still exposed to a very great danger.
This was from the pieces of wreck which were dashing about in every
direction, and a blow from which might prove fatal.

The boy hurried along over the slippery rocks.  He got near enough to
see his father's countenance turned with eyes of affection towards him.
The son knew that he was recognised, and that his father was aware of
his safety.  A piece of timber came dashing by.  Had not the fishermen
been near him, it would have torn him from his hold.  As it was, Holmes
received a severe blow which almost disabled him, but he held on, and in
another minute all three were in the grasp of the men collected on the
rock to assist them.

The first impulse of the father and his son was to throw themselves into
each other's arms, and then the father knelt down and returned thanks to
Heaven for his preservation.

While this episode in the fearful history of that shipwreck was going
forward, a hawser or stout rope had been carried from the stranded ship
to the shore.  Several seamen worked their way along it, and readied the
rock in safety.  Then another came, but a sea rolled by, and, sweeping
him from his hold, he was carried far away out of sight.

The tide was rising, and rendering it more dangerous every moment to
those remaining on the wreck.  This made the seamen hurry on along the
hawser.  Dangerous was the transit, requiring a strong arm and firm
nerves.  Another huge sea came rolling in.  The already shattered vessel
could not withstand its force, and in a moment, as if it had been formed
of the most brittle materials, was shivered into a thousand fragments,
which came rolling on in tangled masses towards the shore.

Most of the men, and two of the officers, had reached the rocks; but the
master and one of his mates, who had refused to leave the ship till all
had left her, with two or three of the men, still remained on board at
the moment she broke up.  They were now seen struggling in the waves
among the broken masses of the wreck.

In vain the brave fishermen dashed into the sea to save them.  One after
the other, struck by pieces of timber, or spars, or floating packages,
were seen to go down without further efforts to save themselves.  At
last, one only remained alive.  On him all the interest of those on
shore was concentrated.

"Our captain, our captain," cried some of the rescued crew; "oh, how can
we save him? how can we save him?"

He seemed a fine old man, with a noble forehead and grey hair.  He
reached a spar, and threw his arms over it.  Thus supported, he lifted
himself out of the water, and looked calmly around, as if considering
how he might best reach the shore.  The spar was sent rushing on towards
the beach.  Many of his crew, all indeed who were uninjured, got ropes
ready to dash forward to his assistance.  He seemed to observe the
efforts preparing to aid him.  Digby was struck with the wonderful
calmness of the old man.  Death and destruction on every side, he seemed
not for a moment to have lost his presence of mind.  He fancied even
that he could see him smile, as the fishermen and his own people made a
rush towards him.  It proved unsuccessful.  He looked in no way
disconcerted.  Another wave came on and carried him forward; now he
beckoned them to come to him; on they dashed.  It was the work of a
moment.  They seized him by the collar of his coat, and Digby saw that
they had him safely landed on the beach.  Digby could not help running
forward and saying--

"I am very glad that you are saved, sir."

"Thank you, my boy," answered the old master, "if I mistake not, you are
one of the lads who saved my young Haviland there.  His father will
thank you, I know.  I saw it all from the wreck.  Nobly done, it was!"

Digby felt highly pleased at being thus praised; not that he thought
that he had done any great thing after all.

The master having thus expressed himself, called the rescued people
round him, and spoke a few words to them, telling them how thankful they
ought to be at being saved.  When he looked round and missed so many of
his late shipmates, he dashed his hand across his eyes as if he felt
severely their loss.  "God's will be done," he said, in a voice
trembling with agitation.  It was clear that, though his nerves were
strong, his heart was tender.

Mr Nugent, who had all along been attending to those who most required
his aid, now came forward and invited the gentleman who had been saved
and his son, as well as the old master, to his house.  The chief
magistrate and other authorities of Osberton undertook to look after the
crew, while Toby and Holmes were appointed to take charge of the cargo
which might be washed on shore.

Mr Haviland and his son, as well as Captain Burton, gladly accepted Mr
Nugent's invitation, greatly to the delight of the boys, who were eager
to know where the ship had come from, and how she had been wrecked.  Mr
Nugent hurried them up to his house, where he had beds immediately made
ready for them, into which he insisted on their getting, although the
old captain protested that, for his part, he was not a bit the worse for
his ducking.

That evening all the family, with the rescued strangers, were seated
round Mrs Nugent's tea-table.  Mr Haviland seemed to be a very
gentlemanly person, and his son, Arthur, quickly won the regards of all
the party by his kind and gentle manners, his intelligence, and the
affectionate and dutiful way in which he treated his father.  Captain
Burton was a fine old seaman; he had been so knocked about in the world,
and had met with so many adventures and mishaps, that he seemed to make
very light of the mere wreck of his ship, much as he grieved for the
loss of so many of his crew.

"We seamen know well what we have to expect one day or other.  We may
well be thankful when we are able to reach the shore alive in a
civilised land," he remarked; "sad is the fate of the poor fellows who
may be cast on a barren coast, or one inhabited by savages, cannibals
may be, who may knock them on the head as soon as they set foot on
shore.  Now I hope in a few days to be at home with my wife and family,
and soon to forget all my misfortunes."

The ship had come, he told them, from South America.  Owing to the thick
weather, they had not made the land; though he knew that he was running
up channel, he was not aware how near the shore he was when he was
struck by the gale and dismasted.  The ship in that condition, no
seamanship was of any avail to preserve her.

The next morning he and his crew took their departure from Osberton,
after he had collected all the articles of his private property which
had come on shore.

Mr Haviland gladly accepted Mr Nugent's invitation to remain some days
longer, that he might sufficiently recover his strength to enable him to
travel to London.  Again and again he expressed his gratitude to Digby
for having rescued his son from the waves, and Arthur himself
endeavoured to show how much he felt, and how unable he was to repay
him.

Mr Haviland was able to repay both Toby and Holmes, as well as the
other men, in a more substantial mode, for the gallant way in which they
had exerted themselves to save him.  Remittances from London supplied
him amply with funds; and all those who had assisted on the occasion of
the wreck declared, that so liberal a gentleman had never before
appeared in their town.



CHAPTER FIVE.

SEA-SIDE SPORTS--TOBY TUBB'S NAVAL YARN--A PIC-NIC, AND WHAT OCCURRED AT
IT.

"You must come and stay with us when we settle," said Arthur Haviland to
Digby, the morning on which the former, with his father, was to take his
departure from Mr Nugent's.  "I am to go to school, but papa intends to
take a house to receive me in the holidays, when we shall expect you,
and then I will tell you more about the Brazils, and the wonders of
other parts of South America."

Digby replied that if he could get leave he should be delighted to
accept the invitation for a part of the holidays.  "I tell you that I
should not like to be away the whole time: I could not miss seeing my
dear little sister Kate, and Gusty and the rest at home, on any account.
I don't fancy that I should like to be anywhere so much as at home.
Oh, it is such a dear, jolly place.  You must come to my home, Arthur,
some day, and then you'll see that I am right."  Such were the terms on
which Digby and Arthur Haviland parted.

Digby felt very sorry and quite out of spirits when his new friend had
gone.  He liked Marshall, and Eastern, and Power, indeed all his
companions, very much, but there was something so gentle, and amiable,
and intelligent about Arthur; in many respects he was so different to
himself, that he had been insensibly attracted towards him.  He had been
the means of saving Arthur's life, too, and though his friend was so
much older than himself, he ought to be his protector and guardian.  "I
wish that we had been going to the same school," he said to himself;
"Arthur is just the sort of fellow the boys will be apt to bully.  How
Julian would sneer at him and tease him.  Even Power and Easton couldn't
help now and then having a laugh at his notions.  How I should like to
stand up for him, and fight his battles.  I'm not very big, but I would
not mind a thrashing for his sake."

The summer was drawing to a conclusion, but still the weather was very
warm.  One evening Mr Nugent had been called out to visit a sick
person.  On his return he invited his pupils to accompany him to the
beach.

"I have seldom seen the water so beautifully luminous as it is
to-night," he observed.  "Bring two wide-mouthed bottles, my
naturalist's water nets, and a long pole, and we will go and fish for
night shiners."

Digby was puzzled to know what his uncle meant.  The nets which Marshall
produced were in shape like a landing-net, but smaller and lighter--fine
gauze being used instead of the twine net.  It was a dark night, and the
party stumbled along over the not very well-paved streets of the little
town till they reached the water.  Great was Digby's surprise to see the
whole ocean covered with glowing flashes; while, as the gently rippling
wavelets came rolling in, a line of light was playing over them, and as
they reached the shore it broke into still greater brilliancy, leaving,
as they retired, thousands of shining sparkles glittering on the smooth
beach.

"What is it?" he exclaimed, after gazing for some time in mute
astonishment.  "What has come over the ocean?"

"A mass of phosphorescent creatures," answered his uncle.  "We will go
to the deep pool (this was a quiet little bay close at hand).  We shall
then be able to fish up a supply for examination."

On reaching the pool all at first appeared dark, but Mr Nugent and
Marshall stooping down, swept the surface with their nets, when wherever
they touched the water, it glowed with the most brilliant flashes.
Having filled the bottles, they lifted the water up in the nets, when it
looked as if they had got in them a lump of the most glittering gold, or
a mass of molten lead.  A still more beautiful appearance was produced
when they threw the water up in the air and it came down in glittering
showers, like the dropping stars from a firework.

"Glorious! beautiful!" shouted Digby; "I did not think the sea could
produce anything so fine."

Then they stirred the water about with a long pole, till the whole pool,
which had been in tranquillity so dark, became like a caldron of boiling
metal.  After amusing themselves with the variety of effects to be
produced, the party returned homeward.

"What is the use of all that shining stuff, now, I wonder?" said Digby.

"I am glad to hear you ask the question," replied his uncle.  "That
shining stuff is called the phosphorescence of the ocean.  It is
composed of numberless minute animals, each not larger than a pin's
head.  Through a microscope we should see that all parts of the animal
shine, but at different times.  It emits, as it were, sparks, now from
one part of its body, now from another.  It is a very beautiful object,
especially in southern latitudes, and that alone may account for its
creation; just as birds with gay plumage, and flowers of varied hues and
sweet scents, were formed for the benefit of man.  It wonderfully
relieves, also, on a dark night, the obscurity of the ocean, and its
light is so great during storms that it enables seamen the better to
perform the duties of the ship.  Of one thing you may be certain, that
nothing is created in nature without a very adequate object."

On reaching home, Mr Nugent got out his microscope, and exhibited to
Digby the wonders of the creatures they had caught.  Power had also
brought home a bucketful of water.  It contained, among other creatures,
a little melon-shaped animal, which Mr Nugent turned into a glass
tumbler.  It was smaller than a small hazel nut, of a transparent
consistency, and with bands down it like the divisions in a melon.
These bands, when the tumbler was shaded, glittered in the most
beautiful way, while the creature moved about in the water, now rising
to the surface, and now sinking almost to the bottom.  When again
brought to the light, it was seen putting forth what Digby called its
fishing lines.  These, when it was on the surface, reached to the
bottom, and were evidently employed for the object Digby supposed.

"This beautiful little creature is called a Cydippe or Beroe," observed
Mr Nugent.  "Those bands are denominated cilia.  See, they are like
little paddles.  They are the means by which the animal moves.  Now
look--he has turned his head down, and away he plunges to the bottom;
now he rises slowly, like a balloon.  I doubt not that there is much
enjoyment even in that little mass of jelly.  Wonderful are all God's
works.  Who can measure the happiness which exists even in an atom."

Digby became far more interested than, a few weeks before, he would have
thought possible.  At the same time he did not take in all the remarks
his uncle and Marshall made.  He would have found it impossible to
describe the curious marine animals they showed him.  At the same time
the impression left on his mind was beneficial, as he in that way
learned to comprehend the fact of the existence of the numberless
wonders of nature, and to regard them with interest and respect.
Although he could not manage to recollect a single one of the hard names
he heard, he surely was better off than a person who remains ignorant
that even such things exist.

The day after the Noctilucae had exhibited their brightness on the sea
in so remarkable a degree, a heavy gale sprung up and blew on the shore
for some hours with great violence.

"I hope no other shipwreck happened last night," said Digby, as they got
up in the morning.

"I hope not," answered Marshall.  "We should have heard of it before
this.  But if you will come down with me to the beach, by and by, we
shall find that other floating things have been wrecked, and that the
sea has cast them up in great numbers on the shore."

As soon as lessons were over the boys set out.  Digby was now quite
eager for anything of the sort.  They had not gone far along the beach
when Marshall pounced on a dark-looking mass, which he put into his jar.

"What nasty thing is that?" exclaimed Digby, looking at it with disgust.

"Nasty! no; it is a magnificent Holothuria, or sea-cucumber.  Toby would
call it a sea-pudding.  It will look very different when it is in my
vivarium, let me tell you.  It now looks like a great bag, but the
outside of that bag is covered with numbers of suckers, by which it is
able to crawl about at a rapid rate; while in the inside are its head
and intestines, and all its fishing apparatus."

"I should like to see it in full action," said Digby.  "But I say,
Marshall, what are all those lumps of jelly?  Are they good to eat?
They look as if they would be, boiled a little, perhaps."

Marshall laughed heartily.  "I doubt if even the Chinese attempt to eat
them.  If they do, they must eat them raw, for even in the air they very
soon dissolve.  Those are Medusae, or jelly-fish, or sea-nettles.  The
first English name they obtain from their appearance, the second on
account of the property they possess of stinging; and that you would
soon discover if, when you were bathing, one of them got his long arms
round you."

"Arms, surely they have not got arms?" said Digby.

"Indeed they have, and very long arms, too, with which they can catch
all sorts of prey.  They have mouths and all internal arrangements, and,
soft and gelatinous as they appear, they can consume animals of a much
higher organisation than themselves.  You would not suppose that they
could gobble up crabs, yet they can do so without the slightest
difficulty.  They have also the property of giving forth light.  You may
see them by thousands floating about near the surface of the water, in
shape like small umbrellas, and moving up and down just as if a heart
beat beneath.  You will find them often in the river when the flood-tide
is coming in; and when we go on our trawling expedition we shall see
numbers of them."

Digby, notwithstanding what Marshall had told him, had not quite made up
his mind about them; and as he had brought a basket in which to carry
curiosities, he put several of them into it.

"Ah, here are some of the things I admire," exclaimed Digby, picking up
a star-fish.  "They are curious."

"Not more so than many others," answered Marshall.  "Yet I agree with
you, that they are very curious indeed.  You would not suppose that they
can crawl along at the bottom of the sea at a considerable rate, and
that they are the most voracious of marine animals.  They have a big
mouth in the centre of the lower side; and those star-like arms supply
them with food.  They progress by means of suckers, with which the whole
of the lower part of their bodies is covered.  They are the scavengers
of the ocean; and it is wonderful the amount of animal food they can
consume, which would otherwise tend to putrefy the ocean itself.
Another curious circumstance about them is, that when one or more of
their rays are broken off, fresh ones are produced; indeed, I have seen
it stated in print that a single ray has produced the mouth and the
other rays, and then that the old ray has fallen off, and that a new
star-fish, in its perfect proportions, has been thus reformed."

"I dare say what you tell me is all true," said Digby; "but it is very
hard to believe."

"I am only telling you what I have heard from others, though I have
observed some of the facts myself," answered Marshall.  "See, now; what
do you call that?" he added, holding up a very perfect Echinus.

"A sea-egg, of course," answered Digby.  "But I own that it has always
puzzled me how any fish can manage to lay an egg covered with spines."

"It is not an egg at all; it is much more properly called a sea-urchin
or a sea-hedgehog.  It is allied to the star-fish.  By means of these
spines it can move about with great ease; they serve also as its
protection.  The covering is most curious: it is composed of several
hundred pentagonal plates.  By a process going on continually from the
inside, each one of these plates is enlarged by a fresh deposit; and
thus, without altering their shape, the animal, as it grows, has its
coat of armour growing also."

"Well, Marshall, I must say that you spin wonderful yarns, as Toby Tubb
would say, about all these things.  I suppose that they are all true;
but they do sometimes make me open my eyes."

"Depend on it they are all true.  Mr Nugent can tell still more
wonderful ones," answered Marshall.  "The more we examine the
productions of nature the more wonderful things we shall discover.
There is no doubt, also, that--"

"I dare say not," said Digby, yawning.  "But do you know, Marshall,
that, somehow or other, I would rather sometimes hear old Toby spin one
of his yarns than listen to my uncle's lectures on natural history.
They are all very well in their way when one is in the humour for them,
but, just now, I am rather inclined for a brisk walk; and, thinking of
Toby, I say, I wish that we could get him to tell us how the ship he was
on board of attacked I don't know how many Frenchmen, or some other of
our enemies, and took one of them in sight of their own port.  He was
telling Easton all about it one day.  Perhaps he will not feel inclined
to tell it again."

Marshall laughed at the idea of an old sailor _not_ liking to spin a
yarn a second time, when the chances were in favour of his having
already spun it many hundred times.  He took the hint, also, about the
lectures on natural history, and said nothing more to Digby on the
subject.  He well knew that if he was to attempt to cram it down his
throat, Digby would be very likely to take a disgust to it, and
obstinately set his face against all branches of natural history.  He
promised, moreover, to try and get Toby to spin the yarn in which Easton
had been so much interested.

The next Saturday half-holiday was very lovely, and all Mr Nugent's
pupils agreed to make a boating excursion up the river as far as they
could go, and to dine in pic-nic fashion at the end of the voyage.

"We must try and get Toby Tubb to spin his yarn," observed Digby, as
they were starting.

Mrs Nugent had supplied them with some cold provisions; and they took
potatoes to cook, and tea and sugar; and they hoped to catch some fish,
which would be a great addition to their fare.  However, they were
fortunately independent of the fish, which sometimes obstinately refuse
to be caught.

Power, however, who had great confidence in his own success as a
fisherman, wanted the rest to leave a cold veal pie behind, assuring
them that he would take care that they had an ample supply of
salmon-peel, and bass, and flounders, which he promised to catch and
cook for them.

"That is all very well," said Marshall; "but I vote that we take the
pie, and then we can be eating that while Power is dining on the fish
which he has not yet caught."

"Now, do you, Toby, take the helm, and we will row," said Marshall,
seating himself ready to pull the stroke oar.

Digby jumped in next him, for he knew that he was about to fulfil his
promise, to get Toby to spin a yarn.

All took their seats, up went the oars.  "Give way!" sung out Toby.  The
oars came with a simultaneous flop into the water, and the young crew
bending to them, the boat glided swiftly and steadily over the smooth
surface.  The scenery for some distance was very beautiful: there were
high cliffs, broken and fantastic in shape, with here and there openings
through which green fields, and woods, and cottages could be seen, and
deep bays and inlets, and, further off, downs, or heather land, on which
sheep or cattle were feeding.  The sky was blue, the air was fresh and
pure; all were enjoying themselves, though they could not perhaps tell
why.

"Try old Toby now," whispered Digby into Marshall's ear.

Marshall began in a diplomatic way.  "Now, Toby," he said, "while we are
pulling and cannot talk much, it seems a pity that you should not be
telling us something we should like to hear.  You have been in a battle
or two, I dare say; perhaps fought with double your numbers, and came
off victorious, as I have heard of British seamen doing more than once."

"I believe you, Master Marshall," interrupted Toby.  "I have been in a
battle when we had three to one against us, and still we thrashed them.
I'll tell you how it was.  I belonged, in those days, to the _Spartan_,
a smart frigate of thirty-eight guns, and a first-rate dashing officer,
Captain Jahleel Brenton, commanded her.  We were in the Mediterranean in
the year 1810.  Many were the things we did which we had a right to talk
about.  It was about the end of April we were cruising in company with
the _Success_ frigate, Captain Mitford, and the sloop _Espoir_, when,
standing in for the Castle of Terrecino, on the Italian coast, we made
out a ship, three barques, and several feluccas, at anchor under shelter
of the guns of that fort.  Our captain, as soon as he saw them,
determined to have them; so as he was commodore, do you see, he ordered
away the boats of the squadron to cut them out.  I was not a little
pleased to find myself in one of the _Spartan's_ boats.  The whole
expedition was commanded by Lieutenant Baumgart, of the _Spartan_; and
we had with us another brave officer, Lieutenant George Sartorius, of
the _Sirius_.

"We rendezvoused on board the _Spartan_, and soon after noon pulled in
for the castle, covered by the fire of the squadron, which opened a
brisk cannonade on the town and batteries.  The enemy were not idle, and
the shot were flying pretty thick about us, but that did not stop our
way.

"`There's the ship, my boys, and we must have her, and the barques too,
if we can,' sung out our lieutenant; and on we dashed, with a loud
cheer, towards her.

"Round-shot and bullets came rattling about our heads, but they didn't
stop our way more than would a shower of hail.  Away we pulled, maybe a
bit faster, to get through them the quicker.  In a quarter less no time
we were alongside the ship, which mounted six guns, scrambling up her
sides, knocking everybody who opposed us on the head--not that all
stopped for that, seeing that many leaped into their boats as soon as we
gained the deck, and pulled away for the shore.  The rest, however, made
a tough fight of it before they knocked under.  To cut the cables and to
let fall the topsails and sheet home was the work of a few moments only,
and we were under weigh almost before the enemy had turned the guns of
the castle on us.

"The other boats, meantime, divided the barques among them, and,
attacking them altogether, drove their crews into the water, and,
cutting their cables, made sail after us.  We lost only one man killed
and two wounded in the whole affair, and carried all four vessels off in
safety.

"That's what we call a cutting-out expedition.  There's nothing we used
to like better.  They were generally pretty sharp slap-dash affairs; no
shilly-shallying, and counting what was dangerous and what was not; but
it was pull in, jump aboard, and we were out again with the prizes
before the enemy had time to find out what we were about.  But that
wasn't what I was going to tell you about.

"Soon after this, our squadron was cruising off the Bay of Naples--not
all, by the by, the Espoir had been sent away somewhere, and we had only
the _Spartan_, that was our ship, and the Success.  Well, we made out,
under weigh in the Bay, two ships, a brig and a cutter.  Not many
moments had gone by before we had crowded all sail in chase.  It was a
French squadron we saw, but they didn't like our looks, so they put
about and stood towards Naples, we following them almost up to the Mole.
That was on the first of May.  The next morning at daylight we saw our
friends at anchor, but they seemed in no way inclined to come out and
fight us.

"`Perhaps if they see one of us alone they may come out and take a taste
of our quality,' says our captain; so he sent off the Success to wait
for us about eight leagues from the island of Capri, thinking that the
Frenchmen would then, without doubt, venture out to attack us.

"In the meantime, the French General who had command at Naples, Prince
Murat, had formed a plan to capture us.  His French squadron consisted
of a 42-gun frigate, the _Ceres_; a 28-gun corvette, the _Fama_; an
8-gun brig, the _Sparviere_; and a cutter, mounting 10 guns; but besides
these there were seven gunboats at least, each with one long 18-pounder
and 40 men.  General Murat had also embarked four hundred Swiss troops
on board the ships, so that they had altogether 95 guns and 1,400 men,
while we had only 38 guns and about 260 men.  [Note.]  We didn't mind
the odds against us, all we thought of was how we could take the enemy.
They made sure, however, it seems, with the great odds in their favour,
on the other hand, do ye see, of taking us; but we sung, with some right
to sing it, too:--

  "Hearts of oak are our ships,
  Jolly tars are our men;
  We always are ready,
  Then steady, boys, steady,
  We'll fight, and we'll conquer again and again."

"All we were anxious for was the moment to begin.  At last, before
sunrise, on the third day after we had first made them out, which, do
you see, was the 3rd of May, 1810, we got a slant of wind from the
South-east, though it was very light, and we, being well to the
southward, stood under easy sail into the Bay of Naples.

"Well, we were keeping a bright look-out for the enemy, and just at
daybreak we made them out about six miles ahead, standing out from the
Mole of Naples, and just between the island of Capri and the mainland.
We were on the starboard tack, and they were on the larboard, or what we
now call the port tack, remember."

"What do you mean by the starboard and port tacks?" asked Digby, who was
much interested in the details of the account, and wanted to understand
it.

"Why, you see, the two lower corners of square sails have ropes to them
called tacks and sheets.  The tacks haul the corners of the sail down to
the fore part of the ship, and the sheets to the after part.  If the
tack is hauled down on the starboard side, the sheet is of course on the
other side, or to leeward, and the ship is then said to be on the
starboard tack.  So you'll know if the wind strikes the starboard side,
the ship is on the starboard tack, or, if it comes on the other side,
she's on the port or larboard tack."

"Thank you," answered Digby; "I know now, I think.  But go on; it's very
interesting."

"I vote that no one interrupts to ask questions," exclaimed Power.
"When the story is done we'll all fire away as much as we like.  Won't
that be best, Toby?"

Toby seemed to be of Power's opinion, so the motion was agreed to _nem
con_.

"Where was we?" began Toby, having been slightly put out, as even the
best story-tellers are when interrupted.  "Let's see.  Oh, I know,
standing in towards the Bay of Naples, to meet the French squadron.  We
were on the starboard tack; they were on the opposite one.  There's a
picture been done of the fight.  It always does my old heart good to
look at it; because, do ye see, it's not like some pictures of battles--
it's true.  An officer, an old shipmate, gave it me, and so I had it put
in a frame, with a glass over it, and hung up in my cottage.

"There we were, do ye see, the three French ships and we, drawing nearer
and nearer to each other on opposite tacks.  The Frenchmen followed each
other in line, the _Ceres_ leading, followed by the _Fama_ and
_Sparviere_, with the wind abeam.  Instead, however, of keeping close
together, as they ought to have done, they were some distance from each
other.  The light wind was thus all in our favour, as I'll make you
understand.  At last the _Ceres_ clewed up her courses, and we did the
same, and right glad we were to do it.

"Now, remember, that the Frenchman's decks were crowded with troops,
poor Swiss fellows, who had no wish naturally to hurt us any more than
we had to hurt them.

"`Now, lads, all hands lie down at their quarters.  We shall be having a
pretty hot shower of musketry among us before many minutes are over, and
it will be just as well to let it pass over our heads,' sung out our
captain.  All the time, though, he did not lie down, nor did some of the
officers; but of course all the people did as they were ordered, except
the men at the helm.  It was close upon eight o'clock, when we were
within pistol-shot of the _Ceres_, that she opened her fire on us.
Still we lay quiet.  Now, do ye see, all our guns on the main deck were
treble shotted.

"Our captain calmly waited, eyeing the enemy till every one of our guns
bore on him.  `Up, boys, and fire away!' he shouted.  Didn't we just
spring to our feet and blaze away like fury.  What shrieks and cries
rose from the Frenchman's decks.  Our shot mowed down the troops like
corn-stalks before the sickle, besides killing numbers of the crew.  The
soldiers were drawn up all ready for boarding, but our captain was too
wise to let them do that.  As we were going little more than two knots
through the water, we had plenty of time to load again, and to give the
second Frenchman, the _Fama_, the same taste of our quality.  Numbers
were killed and wounded aboard her, and then, loading once more, we
continued our course and fired into the brig.  We had still the gunboats
to talk to.  They were not to be despised, and, as it proved, they were
the worst enemies we had.  As we approached them we fired our headmost
starboard guns at them, and then, going about, let fly our whole
larboard broadside, which we had again got ready for their amusement.
They returned it with interest, though, and we lost many men from the
shot of their long guns, while most of our masts and spars were likewise
wounded.  As we went about our starboard broadside was not idle, and we
kept peppering away at the brigs and the two ships ahead of us.  Well,
the French commodore ought to have steered for the gunboats, but instead
of that he wore round and stood away for Baia, on the north side of the
Bay, where there were some batteries.  We wore after him.  Our captain
had taken his stand on the capstan head, that he might have a clear view
of everything, and a fine sight it was to see him standing up there
undaunted, while the round-shot and musket-balls were flying thick
around his head.  `Ay, he's the right sort of stuff, that skipper of
ours,' said my messmate, Bill Simmonds.  `If we don't take one or more
of those Frenchmen I'm very much mistaken.'  After we had got up to the
gunboats, and a large cutter there was among them, and hammered away at
them, the breeze fell, and left us surrounded with enemies.  The _Ceres_
lay ahead, with her starboard broadside turned towards us; and we had on
our port bow the corvette and brig, while the cutter and gunboats came
sweeping up astern, and pounding us pretty severely with their long
eighteen-pounders.  In spite of our first success, it seemed just then
as if matters would go very hard with us.  What was our sorrow, too, to
see our brave captain knocked off his post badly wounded.  He was
carried below, for a grape-shot had hit him in the hip.  Our first
lieutenant, Mr Willes, then took the command.  How we did whistle for a
wind.  Scarcely was our brave captain carried below before a light
breeze sprung up: and I can't tell you how our hearts beat with joy when
we found ourselves once more drawing near the French frigate.  There we
soon were, on her starboard quarter, and on the starboard bow of the
corvette, so that our guns were able almost to rake them both at the
same time.  We had, however, the brig peppering away at us on our
larboard quarter, while the cutter and gunboats, some of which were
astern and others on the starboard quarter, kept up a hot fire at us all
the time.  The enemy, it seemed, however, had no wish to continue at
such close quarters, for as soon as the frigate's sails felt the breeze,
away she ran as fast as her legs could carry her, till she got under the
shelter of the batteries of Baia.  We should have followed her, but our
rigging and sails had been so knocked about and riddled with shot that
for the best of all reasons we didn't--because we couldn't.  We managed
to wear, however, and gave the frigate and corvette a parting benefit,
raking them fore and aft with our starboard guns, and knocking away the
corvette's foretopmast.  At the same time we poured our whole larboard
broadside into the brig.  Hearty was the shout raised aboard us, when
down came her main-topmast, and, lowering her colours, she sung out for
mercy, lest we should give her a second dose of the same character.
Dropping a boat to take possession, we stood after the corvette, and
should have taken her, but the gunboats came up with their long sweeps,
and, in spite of a pretty severe fire we kept up at them, towed her in a
very spirited way out of action.  As I was saying, we couldn't then
follow, or we'd have had her also, at least.  Perhaps we might have had
the frigate, too.  We hadn't given up all hopes of another prize, and
with a hearty good will we set to work to repair damages.  We had
altogether been rather more than two hours pretty closely engaged with
the enemy.  We'd lost by this time ten killed and twenty-two wounded.
Both our captain and first lieutenant were very severely hurt.  When the
French frigate saw that we could not get up to her, she sneaked away
from Baia and stood back towards Naples.  By the time we were put
somewhat to rights the sea-breeze set in, and so our captain ordered the
prize to be taken in tow, and away we stood, passing just in front of
Naples, before which the rest of the enemy had just dropped their
anchors.  Whether they thought that we were going to fetch any of them
out I don't know.  We heard afterwards that the French General, Prince
Murat, who called himself King of Naples, was watching all the time,
expecting to see his frigate tow us in; and you may be sure that he was
in a pretty great rage when he saw us carry off one of his ships
instead, as our prize, before his very nose.  I've heard since that the
French, to excuse themselves, declared that our frigate was a _rase_, or
cut-down ship, and that we carried fifty heavy guns.  You may read of
many gallant actions, young gentlemen, but I don't believe that you'll
ever hear tell of one better-fought battle.  It showed the Frenchmen the
stuff we were made of, though they'd found that out pretty often before.
There's one thing you may depend on,--every victory gained helps to win
another.  The enemy can't help expecting to be beaten, and you feel that
you've a fair prospect of winning the day.  It's just the same thing,
take an old man's word for it, when you've got to fight with bad habits,
or vices, or sin of any sort, evil tempers, and evil propensities.  Gain
one victory.  Learn that you can conquer the foe, and the next time you
try you'll find that he gives way more easily than at first; but, if you
let him gain the victory, why 'tis you will go to the wall, faster and
faster each time, till he knocks you down altogether.  But I was telling
you how the gallant _Spartan_ captured the _Sparviere_; and don't forget
to come and see the picture, which 'll show you all about it."

The boys thanked Toby for his story, and all promised that they would go
and pay him a visit, and see the prints of the battle.  I need not
repeat all the questions they asked him about it; how he liked having
the shot flying about his head, and seeing his shipmates knocked over
near him, and all that sort of thing.

"As to the first, young gentlemen," he answered, "I can't say as how I
ever thought much about it; and as to the second, a man before he goes
into battle knows that it may be his lot, and so he makes up his mind to
it.  When a man makes up his mind to a thing it is much easier to bear
it, let me tell you.  Besides, very few men, when they once begin to
fight, think about anything else but the fighting."

The conversation to which Toby's history led lasted the party till they
reached the place at which they intended to pic-nic.  It had been
selected not so much because of its peculiar beauty, as on account of
the good fishing which Power expected to get there.  He talked of
salmon-peel, and basse, and flounders, and plaice, all of which come up
salt-water rivers, and often venture into brackish waters.  Power at
once set off to the spot where he intended to fish: it was on a bank
just below a mill-dam.  The salt-water flowed in with the flood-tide,
and when the ebb made a strong current run out, which always kept open a
deep channel.  Some shade-giving trees grew about, the turf was soft and
green, and, at a little distance, the cliffs turned inland, and formed a
ravine, in which stood the mill and the mill pond.  Marshall and Easton
went off to botanise, and to search in the cliffs for geological
specimens and other subjects of natural history; while Digby and two
other boys accompanied Power with their rods.  Ten minutes passed, and
all except Power began to make signs to each other expressive of
increasing hunger; but no sign was there of a fish.

"Hurra!" he at last exclaimed; "I have a bite; I knew I should."  His
float began to bob, and away it went down the stream.  He gave his rod a
jerk.  "I have him fast enough," he exclaimed.  High he lifted his rod,
and up came a fish--but such a fish--a little, ugly, big-headed,
flat-snouted monster.

"A miller's thumb!--a miller's thumb!" shouted the party, laughing
heartily.  "What a fine dinner he will make for us," cried one.  "I hope
you'll let us have something else, Power," said Digby.

"Not unless you will all hold your tongues, and let me try again, for I
don't think any of you will catch anything," said Power.

Just then Toby arrived, with a stick and line.  He held up the poor
bull-head with a comical look, and pretended to let it drop down his
throat--a proceeding which he would have found very unpleasant as
besides its large head its back was armed with a row of sharp spines.
"We call this a sea-scorpion, or sea-toad, and some call it a
father-lasher, because he is supposed to be so wicked that he would beat
even his own father," said Toby, putting back the fish with a pretence
of the greatest care into the basket.  "Now, young gentlemen, I'll see
what I can do for the pot; it's on, and boiling, and only wants
something put into it.  I'll make you some pebble-soup if we don't catch
any fish; but the fish will be best, I think."  Toby, on this, went a
little lower down the creek, and taking his seat on the bank, let his
line drop into the water, throwing in, every now and then, some ground
bait.  Before long, he pulled out a shining silvery little fish, of most
graceful form; another and another followed in rapid succession.

Digby, who had caught nothing, went up to him.  "Why, Toby, what are
those pretty little fish?  I should like to have some of them," he
observed.  "How do you catch them?"

"I'll show you if you'll sit down and try," answered Toby.  "You've
caught no fish because you've been wandering about from place to place,
and not taking advantage of the experience you have got with your first
trials.  If one depth won't do, raise or lower your float; if one bait
don't do, try another; and the same with your hook, if you find that you
get bites and don't catch anything.  Perseverance is the thing.  I
generally can tell how a lad is likely to get on in life by the way I
see him fish.  You'll excuse my freedom, Master Digby; I like to say
what I think will be likely to be useful to you."

Digby thanked Toby, though he did not quite see the drift of his
reasoning.  He, however, put on a very small hook, and watched how he
caught the smelts; and, in a short time, he had pulled up nearly a
dozen.  He might have captured more, but turning his head up the stream
he saw that Power was hauling some big fish out of the water, and he
could not resist the temptation of running off to see what it was.

"Help! help!  Here, the landing-net, the landing-net," shouted Power.
"I've a conger, a conger; there's no doubt about it."

The conger-eel, which occasionally comes up salt-water rivers, is a
ferocious fish, with powerful jaws.  This was of good size, and
struggled so violently, that Digby was afraid of losing hook, and net,
and line.  The other young fishermen had gone to a little distance, and
were busily engaged in hauling in some captives which their skill had
taken.  Digby, in his eagerness, leaned over so far with the net that,
just as he had got the conger into it, he lost his balance, and in he
went heels over head.  Power nearly followed.  The conger got entangled
in the net; and Digby's first impulse, as his head came above water, was
to grapple hold of the fish.  This he did most effectually, and a
tremendous struggle commenced; the conger trying to bite Digby, and
Digby determined not to let him go.  Power's feelings were divided
between his anxiety for Digby's safety and his wish not to lose his
captive.  His shouts called Marshall and Easton, who were not far off.
"Haul him out, haul him out!" he cried, lustily.  "He'll make a
magnificent dish."

"Which?" asked Marshall, laughing, "Digby or the fish?"

"Digby, Digby," answered Power, really thinking that he was in danger.

"No, no," cried Digby, "I won't be cooked.  Get out the fish first.
He's half mine, though, for I helped to catch him."

The conger was wriggling about all the time, and Power was making every
effort to keep his head away from Digby, whom the fish had apparently a
strong wish to bite.  Between all parties there was a tremendous amount
of laughing, and shouting, and splashing.  At last Marshall got hold of
Digby's collar, and out he pulled him, still grasping the net and the
fish.

"Don't let us go till you have got us well up from the water," exclaimed
Digby, panting with his exertions.  "If you do, the beast may be getting
away, and escape us after all."

His caution was not unnecessary, for, breaking from the hook, no sooner
was Digby's grasp off him than away he wriggled at a great rate towards
the water.  It was no easy matter to catch him, for he turned round with
his savage head and made desperate bites at the lads, who were in hot
pursuit of him.

"Oh, stop him!" shouted Digby, almost crying in his agitation.  "Oh,
he'll be off,--he'll be off!"

Nearer and nearer the water he wriggled; with a hook in his mouth, and
the mauling he had got, he was not likely to find much pleasure in his
future career; still, life is dear even to fish.  He was almost at the
edge of the bank, when Marshall seizing his geological hammer, which he
had thrown down to help Digby, with it dealt the poor conger such a blow
on the tail that in an instant it was paralysed, and though its jaws
moved a little, it no longer made an attempt to reach its native
element.

It was now voted that dinner-time had arrived, or rather that it was
time to begin cooking the fish.  Altogether a very good supply had been
caught: besides the smelt, Toby brought two grey mullets, a foot in
length; these, he said, were rarely caught with the hook, as they suck
in their food.  They do not often eat living creatures, but grub down at
the bottom for offal or weeds.  It is a very sagacious fish, and, when
enclosed by a net, always makes the greatest efforts to escape by
leaping over it, or by seeking for some opening.  Only a very perfect
net will secure them.  In some parts the fishermen form an inner line of
straw, or corks, and the mullets leaping over it, and finding themselves
still enclosed, do not make a second attempt till there is time to draw
them to the shore.

Power had done even more than he had promised, for he had caught a
salmon-peel and three or four flounders, besides his conger; while the
rest of the party, who had gone to another spot, had caught some basse,
and some plaice, and other flat fish.  The basse is like a freshwater
perch in some respects, but it is not so rounded, nor has it the bright
colours of the perch.  The plaice and flounders were not very large.

"What funny twisted-head fellows they are," observed Digby, as he handed
them to Toby to clean.  "Well, it never did occur to me before I came
here what a vast number of curious animals of all sorts live in the
sea."

"I believe, if people would look for them, they'd find as many in the
sea as on land," answered Toby.  "Some of them are wonderful curious.
Just think of a big whale, and then of a little shrimp; and there are
thousands of things smaller than shrimps which live in the sea, and
quite as curious."

What a frying, and broiling, and boiling of fish took place; everybody
was busy.  Digby wanted, by the by, to remain in his wet clothes, but
Toby would not let him, but made him strip, and then hung them up on the
black rock, against which the sun was striking with full force.  Here
they quickly dried, while he sat near the fire, the butt for his
companions' jokes.

"Arrah, now," exclaimed Power, "would Mr and Mrs Heathcote ever
mistake you for their own eldest son and heir of all their virtues and
estates, if they were to come by and see you sitting for all the world
like a little Irish spalpeen or a gipsy boy, before his camp fire,
gutting fish?"

"It's hard, Power, after I helped you to save the conger, to laugh at
me," said Digby.  "He'll stick in your throat, depend on it."

Had Digby seen himself in a glass he might have learnt one important
lesson, and discovered how very slight a difference there was between
him and the characters Power described.

The cooking part of the pic-nic was very amusing, but the eating the
provisions was still pleasanter.  Jokes and laughter ran high, and old
Toby told them some more of his stories, of which I have no record.
Altogether, they all agreed that they never had passed a pleasanter or
more amusing day.  They had saved a very nice dish of fish for Mrs
Nugent; and in the cool of the evening they once more embarked, and
pulled back to Osberton.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note.  I have no doubt that old Toby's account is perfectly correct,
because it agrees with one just narrated to me by Admiral Saumarez, who
was a midshipman on board the _Spartan_.  He was showing me some prints
of the action--one of the most spirited on record, and seldom has an
account of a sea fight been told me in a more graphic way.  Toby's
narrative scarcely comes up to it, I fear.



CHAPTER SIX.

THE REAPPEARANCE OF DIGBY'S EVIL GENIUS--A TRAWLING EXPEDITION--HOW THE
GUNS OF THE OLD FORT WENT OFF.

Digby was to all appearance getting on very well with Mr Nugent; a
watchful eye was upon him; he had steady companions, older than himself,
who were not inclined to lead him into temptation, while old Toby
contributed much to keep him out of harm's way.  It may very well be
doubted whether this was the best sort of training for a lad of his
disposition and the style of life for which he was intended.  He would
be called upon to mix with the world, to associate with all sorts of
people, and to go through the ordeal of a public school and college.
One important point was in his favour; his uncle was endeavouring to
instil into him good principles, and to make him love, and comprehend,
and follow the only light which could guide him on his onward path
through life--the Bible.  Digby listened oftentimes earnestly, always
complaisantly, to what his uncle said to him, and thinking that
listening to what was good was of itself a virtuous act, he began to
fancy that he had grown into a reformed and very steady character.  He
might not have found out his mistake, had not a new boy come to his
tutor's; his coming was spoken of some time before he made his
appearance.  Who he could be was the question.  At length a carriage
drove up to the door, and out of it stepped Julian Langley.

"Ah, Digby, how de ye do, how de ye do?" exclaimed Julian in an affected
way, putting out his hand.  "Introduce me to your friends.  We are to be
companions for some time, I'm told, so we may as well become intimate at
once."

Digby welcomed his old friend, and mentioned his name, but Easton and
the other boys could not resist imitating his affected way of talking.

"How de ye do, how de ye do, Langley?" they exclaimed, laughing; while
Marshall turned away, somewhat disgusted with the little jackanapes as
he called him.

Julian, however, soon made himself at home.  He had never held Digby in
very high estimation, simply because he found that he could so easily
lead him, and he therefore fancied that he should have a good right to
look down upon his new companions.  His reasoning was not very sound,
and they were in no way inclined to be looked down upon.  On the
contrary, though they were all well disposed to treat him civilly, they
showed no disposition to allow him to become very intimate with them.
Marshall, indeed, very soon let him know what he thought of him, but it
took a great deal to make Master Julian in any way dissatisfied with
himself, or any of his belongings, or anything that he had done.  It
appeared unfortunate for Digby that Julian Langley should have been sent
to Mr Nugent's.  Mr Langley finding at last that his son was getting
into mischief at home, and hearing that his friend Heathcote had sent
his boy to Mr Nugent, wrote to ask if he would take charge of him.  Mr
Nugent only knew that he was a friend of his brother-in-law, and without
making any inquiries as to the character of the boy, at once agreed to
receive him under his roof.  One afternoon, a few days after Julian's
arrival, Mr Nugent announced that he had engaged a vessel for the
following morning, and that he hoped the long talked-of trawling
expedition would at length take place.  The weather was fine, the sea
was smooth, and there appeared every prospect of their enjoying a
pleasant day.

"I don't think that you have been much on the water, Julian," said
Digby.  "I wonder how you will like it."

"Very much, as you all seem to do," answered Julian, superciliously.
"You don't suppose that I should be afraid of the water?"

"Not afraid of it exactly; but it makes people who are not often on it
feel very queer, I know," observed Digby.

"It might such a fellow as you," replied Julian, who never lost an
opportunity of showing how superior he thought himself to Digby.  "I'll
tell you what though, I should take very good care that it doesn't upset
me.  I'm above that sort of thing."

Had Marshall, or Easton, or Power overheard him, how they would have
laughed at the nonsense he was talking.  All the evening Mr Nugent and
Marshal were preparing the jars, and bottles, and boxes for preserving
the specimens of marine zoology which they hoped to dredge up.  The next
morning proved as bright and beautiful as it had promised to be, and a
very merry party embarked on board the Mermaid, a cutter of thirty tons,
with a crew of six men besides Toby Tubb, who went as master.  The
fishing ground selected for the day was about four miles off the mouth
of the harbour, and they had a fair though a light breeze to take them
there.

"It may at first appear strange that one spot of ground should be
suitable for trawling and not another," observed Mr Nugent, as they
sailed away from the shore.  "There are several reasons for this.  One
is, that the flat fish which are to be caught feed only among certain
weeds, to which their prey is attached, or among which they live; then,
again, the trawl cannot be used over rough and rocky ground.  Trawlers,
therefore, generally drag their nets over smooth and shallow spots,
where there is little chance of their being lost.  They of course also
prefer shallow places, where the net has not so far to descend.  Besides
the trawl-net, I am going to use a dredge, with which I hope to bring up
shells and various specimens of marine zoology, which might be spoilt in
the net."

Mr Nugent's dredge was a canvas bag, stretched on an oblong iron frame,
with iron plates attached to it to serve as scrapers.  Drawn along the
bottom, as he explained, shells, and crabs, and other slow-moving
animals were easily swept into it.

The trawl-net Digby examined with some curiosity.  One end was stretched
along a stout beam, with small but heavy iron triangles at each end.
Just above the beam is a long bag, into which whatever the beam stirs up
is forced.  Fish, when touched by the beam, dart into the net, thinking
that it is the way out, and soon get entangled in its meshes.  Ropes are
attached to each end of the beam, and they serve also to keep the well
part of the net stretched upwards, and at the same time leaning
forwards.  Toby showed him exactly how it would work when it got to the
bottom.

Julian looked on with a supercilious air, as if such matters were
entirely beneath his notice.

"You little think, young gentlemen, of the immense number of vessels
engaged in this work.  There are some firms which own from a hundred and
fifty to two hundred vessels, all more than twice the size of this one.
Each vessel carries a hundred men, and they fish in fleets, from twenty
to two hundred miles off the coast.  Some go to the mouth of the Texel,
and they remain out six weeks and two months together, fishing every
day.  Vessels employed as carriers tiring them provisions, and ice in
which to pack their fish and carry them away.  Little do you think, when
you are eating a piece of turbot, how far it has come, and what trouble
it has cost to bring it to you in a fresh state."

By this time they reached the trawling-ground, and the great beam and
its net was cast overboard, and the two ropes which were fastened to it
were secured, one to the fore part and one to the after part of the
vessel.  Her peak was lowered, as also was the throat.  The tack was
triced up, the foresail hauled down, and a small jib only set.  Thus,
under easy sail, she slowly dragged on her net.

If there is any swell, a vessel feels it, thus partially anchored, much
more than when she is under weigh.  This Julian discovered to his cost.
At first he was very proud of himself, as he walked about, and talked of
going into the navy.  Now, however, he became very silent, and grew
yellower and yellower.

Slowly and gently the little vessel moved to the heaving wave.

"And that same voice which bade the Romans mark him, and write his
sayings in their books, cried, `Give me some drink, Titanus,' like a
sick girl--" said Marshall, who had been watching poor Julian with a
look in which there was very little commiseration.

Julian said nothing, but he showed more and more of the white of his
eyes, and his lips curled in a very peculiar and ominous way.

"Wouldn't you like to come to sea with me?" asked Easton.  "It's a jolly
life fellows lead there.  Plenty of fat pork and peas pudding."

Julian shut his eyes, and would not reply, but his efforts to ward off
the evidence of the malady from which he was suffering were perfectly
fruitless.  He had to rush to the side, and I need not describe what
followed.  He threw himself down on the deck, looking the picture of woe
and wretchedness.  Had he not already given himself so many airs, and
made himself so disagreeable, he would undoubtedly have obtained the
commiseration of his companions.  As it was, no one except Digby pitied
him, and even he could not feel very sorry for his discomforts.
However, he went and sat down by him, and began to speak a few kind
words, but Julian received his attentions in so uncourteous a way that
he was not sorry to get up and watch the proceedings of the fishermen.

The trawl had not been down an hour, when it was resolved to haul it up.
All hands were required for this, and everybody helped except Julian,
who declared that he was too ill to move.

By slow degrees the ropes were hauled in, and at last the beam appeared,
and a considerable portion of the net.

"Why, where are all the fish?" exclaimed Digby, who expected to see them
sticking about in the net.

"Wait till we get the purse aboard, and then we'll see what we have
caught," remarked old Toby, leaning over to secure the mouth of the said
purse, or bag.  "I see something big walloping about in it, at all
events."

Now came the most exciting moment--to discover the results of the hour's
trawling.

Fishermen do not always catch fish, but Mr Nugent was sure that
numberless living things would be brought up in which he would be
interested.

"Now see what we've got! see what we've got!" shouted Marshall, with all
the enthusiasm of a naturalist; nor was Mr Nugent much less excited.

Up came the purse, with a mass of living things floundering and
wriggling, and twisting about, with one huge monster in the centre.  A
part of the deck was sunk for the purpose, and into it the whole living
mass was turned.

"Well, it isn't often I've seen such a haul as this," exclaimed Toby;
"but take care, young gentlemen, that big fellow don't catch hold of any
of your fingers.  He'd have them off in no time.  We'll haul him up out
of that, or he'll be knocking all Mr Nugent's curiosities to pieces
with his tail."

"What is it, what is it?" was the question asked by all.  Even Mr
Nugent could not tell.

The monster at which they were gazing was fully six feet long, almost
flat, of a dark brown colour, and a rough shark-like skin, with a huge
broad head, and very widely-extended side fins.

Toby replied, "Some calls him an angel, and others a monk-fish, or a
flat shark; but to my mind he's very little of the angel about him, and
if he's a monk he's a very ugly monk, you'll all allow.  He is very
strong.  If you were to stand on him, master Digby, he would lift you
up."

Digby did stand on him, and the huge fish gave a heave, and a snap with
his jaws which made him jump off at a great rate.

"What, did you think the monk was going to leap overboard with you?"
exclaimed Power, laughing.

"Indeed I did," answered Digby, "I'm sure he felt as if he would."

Meantime Mr Nugent was examining the rest of the contents of the purse,
while the trawl, having been once more let down, was towing astern.

Two large skates were hauled out, and Digby came aft to look at them.
They were perfectly flat, and had long thin tails, with spines on them,
their pectoral or side fins being very wide.  "It would puzzle any one
to cut their heads off," he observed.

"Why, Digby?" asked his uncle.

"Because they have not the slightest approach to a neck," he answered.
"If I had to describe one, I should say that it was more like a toy-shop
kite than any other thing in shape.  But I see there's something else
below all the seaweed and crabs, and other things.  Stay, I'll get it
out."

Mr Nugent was examining some of the living things he had picked out.

Digby stooped down to get hold of what he saw, but very quickly drew
back his hand.  "Some one has hit me on the arm," he exclaimed, "or I
have been stung, or something or other has happened.  I cannot make out
what, but it's very disagreeable, that I know."

"Let me see," said Mr Nugent, taking the boat-hook and clearing away
the weeds and mud.  "Ah, we are indeed fortunate.  We have caught a fine
specimen of a somewhat rare fish.  It is the torpedo, or electric ray.
See, the body forms an almost circular disc; the tail, too, is much
shorter than that possessed by the other skate we have got.  You may
well say that it has no neck.  It gave you, Digby, the shock you
complained of.  We will examine its galvanic apparatus.  We shall find
it on either side, consisting of a number of tubes, having much the
appearance of a honeycomb.  Its peculiar property is given to it that it
may benumb its prey, and, perhaps, digest it more easily.  Animals
killed by lightning more quickly decompose than those destroyed in other
ways, and they do not grow stiff.  This electric skate can emit the very
same substance as lightning, and though a very small quantity entered
into your body, it caused you some pain.  When in the water, possessed
of all its vigour, it may be supposed that it can very easily destroy
the smaller fry on which it feeds."

"I am very glad that the brute hadn't its full vigour, for it has hurt
me considerably as it is," answered Digby.

Besides the skates, the net had brought up half a dozen good soles and a
large supply of crabs of various sizes and descriptions, star-fish,
jelly-fish, shrimps, and other crustacea, all of which were examined by
Mr Nugent, and the best specimens transferred to his jars, and pots,
and bottles.  There were some hermit crabs among them, who had taken
possession of various shells, but one or two unfortunate fellows had
been caught while in the act of changing their homes, and had no
covering for their nakedness.  The head and shoulders were like those of
a lobster, but the lower extremities were perfectly soft.

Mr Nugent explained how they have to look out for an unoccupied shell,
or perhaps eat up the occupant, and then wriggle in their own tails.

The hermit crab grows bigger, but the shell does not, so, when he feels
his tail pinched, he has to look out for a larger home.  It is amusing
to watch him crawling along, examining shell after shell, till he has
discovered one to his satisfaction.  Then, when he has ascertained that
it is unoccupied, he whisks his tail out of one and as rapidly pops it
into the new one.

Mr Nugent pointed out that one claw was much larger than the other, and
he showed how, when the hermit wishes to withdraw itself into its shell,
he can perfectly coil himself away by doubling up the little claw and
closing the larger one over it.

Digby was really much interested in the number of star-fish, and shells,
and sea-weeds, and many other things, about which his uncle did not
think it wise to enter on long explanations to him.

With the next haul of the trawl they were not nearly so successful,
giving them an idea of the precarious nature of the fisherman's calling;
while in the third there was scarcely a fish, but Mr Nugent pronounced
it more prolific than any of the former ones to him.

It was now time to return home.  The net was thoroughly washed, and then
triced up in the rigging, while the beam was lashed alongside.

Julian had begun to recover, but he was very unlike himself, and not at
all inclined to talk and boast; indeed, Power remarked that he had never
seen him so agreeable since he had come to Osberton.

Digby had been examining the crustacea with grave attention, the
lobsters, crabs, and shrimps, when, lifting up one, he exclaimed, "It's
very odd; I always thought they were red.  How is it, uncle, that these
are black?"

A loud laugh from his companions was their reply to the question.

"You are thinking of the lobsters you have seen brought to the table
cooked, and ready to be eaten," observed Mr Nugent.  "But go on, Digby,
never be ashamed of asking questions, although, now and then, they may
bring down a laugh upon you.  It would fare but ill with the poor crabs
and lobsters if they were not black, or rather of the colour of the
rocks and weeds among which they live.  Their colour thus enables them
to escape detection from the sharp-sighted fish, which are constantly
swimming rapidly about in search of them, and, in spite of their
coats-of-mail, easily gobble them up.  But I was going to show you this
little pea-crab, Pinnotheres.  He is said to have established a
friendship with the inhabitant of a bivalve shell, the Pinna, or
Sea-wing.  When he wants to go out in search of food, the Pinna opens
her shell, and lets him out.  He, argus-eyed, watches the approach of
their mutual enemy, the Polypus, and instantly rushes back, and by his
return giving notice of danger, the shell closes, and both are safe.
Otherwise the Polypus might get one of his rays inside the Pinna, and
destroy its vitality in a moment, or he might touch the crab, and kill
it in the same way.  When the pea-crab discovers a supply of food he
brings it to his friend, the Pinna, to be divided equally.  I will not
vouch for the truth of this account; and I am afraid that Master
Pinnotheres has some more interested motive in his attachment, and may,
in the end, eat up his friend, the Pinna, out of house and home."

This and many other interesting accounts Mr Nugent gave to his pupils
on the return trip.  Sometimes he even won the attention of Julian, who
condescended to smile at his anecdotes.  That young gentleman got a good
deal better by the time he reached the shore, but he was not himself all
the evening, and went fast asleep while Mr Nugent and his fellow-pupils
were examining some of the marine insects they had brought home in their
jars, through the microscope.

Several days passed away, and, to all appearance, Julian had gained a
lesson from which he had profited, not to think so much of himself.  He
had found out that others could be brisk and sprightly under
circumstances which made him dull and wretched, and that they also knew
a great deal more about all sorts of things than he did.  To his
surprise he found that his tutor, and Marshall, and Power, knew even far
more about horses, and dogs, and game of all sorts, than he did.  His
knowledge was confined to the limited range of his father's park, and to
such information as the grooms and gamekeepers had given him.  They knew
where the various races came from, their habits in their wild state when
they were introduced into England, and they had read about sporting in
all parts of the world.  He thus found himself instantly put down, as he
called it, when he began to talk in an authoritative way on what he had
been taught to consider the most important subjects for the attention of
a gentleman.

Bad habits and erroneous notions are not without much difficulty
eradicated; and so Julian Langley very soon forgot the lesson he had
received, and began to think and act very much in his old way.  "I say,
Digby, the way we have to go on here is horribly slow work," he observed
one day, when he and his old companion were alone.  "Don't you think,
now, we could put each other up to some fun or other.  I want to do
something to astonish the natives down here."

Digby said he could not think of anything just then, but that he would
try.  They were strolling along the beach; it was a fine autumn day, but
fresh.  "I vote we have a run," said Digby.  "It's cold."

They ran on till they reached the old castle, of which I have before
spoken.  Julian never liked running, so he proposed going in and sitting
down in a sunny sheltered spot under the walls.  There were six or eight
cannon of large size mounted on very rotten honeycombed carriages in the
fort.  They had not been fired within the memory of man, but they every
few years received a coat of paint, which prevented them turning into
rust; and a superannuated gunner from the Royal Artillery, with much
ceremony, cleaned them out of the stones and rubbish which the children
in the neighbourhood had thrown into them.  Once upon a time they might
have proved very serviceable weapons for defending the entrance to the
harbour.

"I say, Digby, what do you say to letting off one of those big fellows
one of these days?  It would make a great row, and astonish people not a
little," exclaimed Julian, after eyeing the guns for some time.

"We should get into a great row if we did, I suspect," answered Digby.
"I don't think that it would be worth while to try."

"Oh, nonsense," said Julian.  "I mean that no one should find out who
did it; that would be the great fun.  We should hear people talking of
the explosion, and what it was, and how it could have happened, and all
that sort of thing, and we should be laughing in our sleeves all the
time.  Oh, it would be rare fun.  Besides, it is not going to do anybody
any harm, you know."

It did not occur to either of the boys that it might do them a very
great deal of harm, and perhaps kill them.

Digby was very soon won over to agree to Julian's proposal.  It suited
his taste, and he also thought that it would be rare fun.  How to carry
out their scheme was the question.  Their great difficulty was to
procure gunpowder in sufficient quantities to load the gun without
leading suspicions on themselves.

When mischief was to be done Julian was very acute, so indeed was Digby.
They agreed to buy half a pound at a time at different places; Julian
was to go to one place, Digby to another.  They were both amply supplied
with money; and as Digby did not care very much for cakes, he generally
had some to spare.  Julian was always ready, by the by, to borrow it of
him.  Their plans were soon arranged.  The event which was to astonish
the natives was to be brought about on as early a day as possible.
Instead of going home together they separated.  Julian went to one shop,
Digby to another, to make their first purchase of gunpowder.
Fortunately for Digby, the master of the shop was absent, and a shop-boy
served him out the powder without asking any questions, merely
remarking, "I suppose you young gentlemen want to let off fireworks on
the fifth of November?  This won't make many, though."  Had the master
asked him, he would have answered probably, "Give me the powder, and
I'll pay you for it;" or he would have held his tongue, and perhaps by
his looks betrayed himself.

Julian, meantime, went to the great shop of the place, where groceries,
hardware, ironmongery, and even chemical drugs, soaps, and perfumery,
were sold; indeed, it would have been difficult to point out what Mr
Simson did not sell.

"What do you want all this gunpowder for, young gentleman?" asked Mr
Simson.

"To make fireworks, to be sure," answered Julian, in an angry tone.  "I
wonder you ask."

"No offence, sir, but I like to know when young gentlemen get things of
a dangerous character that they will do no harm with them.  I should
never forgive myself if I hadn't warned you, and you blew yourself up.
Remember, a spark falling into that paper of powder would kill any one
near, and, perhaps, set the house on fire.  You are at Mr Nugent's, I
presume?"

"Yes, I am," answered Julian, in an angry tone.  "Is there anything else
you want to know?"

"Oh, I beg pardon, young gentleman; I did not want to offend you," said
the kind-hearted Mr Simson.  "You know that I cannot be too cautious
about these matters."

"You can be too officious," growled Julian, as he left the shop.

Digby and Julian met at Mr Nugent's door.  They had now got a pound of
powder between them; but Julian said that was not nearly enough.

The next day they would go again, and each to ask in the other's name
for another half pound.

Julian walked boldly into Mr Simson's shop as if nothing had happened,
and said that one of his fellow-pupils wanted to manufacture some
fireworks, and begged to have another small quantity--half a pound would
not be too much.  He got it; not, however, without creating some
suspicion in Mr Simson's mind that Mr Nugent would not approve of what
his pupils were about.  This feeling was increased when, a day or two
afterwards, Digby appeared, and asked for another half pound.  Three
half pounds were likewise procured from Mr Jones's small shop.  Mr
Jones made some remarks, however, to Julian which, at first, rather
frightened him.

"I suppose, sir, you wouldn't mind Mr Nugent knowing that you have all
that powder now, would you?" said the shopkeeper, eyeing him keenly;
"well, I didn't say that I was going to talk about it to him, and I hope
that I may have the pleasure of your custom."

Julian assured Mr Jones that he would patronise him, and, with his
usual dignified air, strutted out of the shop.

"I'll tell you what, Digby," said he, when the two fellow-pupils next
met, "we must not be in too great a hurry to fire the gun.  If we do, we
shall be found out.  Old Simson and that fellow Jones already smell a
rat, so we must be cautious; I'll tell you another thing, too, I've been
thinking, that it won't do to fire it by daytime, we should be seen by
somebody near the place and suspected.  It will have much greater effect
if we let it off in the middle of the night.  We can easily get out of
window and be back again in a few minutes.  What say you? there will be
great fun in it."

The spice of danger in the adventure had especial charms for Digby, and
without taking anything else into consideration, he willingly consented
to all Julian proposed.

It is extraordinary how quiet and out of mischief this notable scheme of
the two young gentlemen kept them.  They could think of nothing else.
Whenever they thought no one was observing them, they went together to
the old castle, and ascertained the best means of entering it and
escaping again over the ramparts.  There was no great difficulty or
danger in doing that, even on a dark night.

Three or four weeks passed away--The Holidays were approaching--They
could no longer resist their desire to make the attempt.

"Digby," said Julian, as they were walking out together, "we must do it
to-night.  It will be dark, but it is perfectly calm and dry.  Are you
ready to do it?"

Digby answered that he was.

"Then to-night the affair shall come off," exclaimed Julian.  "I've got
the rope we knotted all ready; I'll get it out of my box, and stow it
away under my bed.  I wish the time was come; it will be glorious fun."

How very demurely the two young gentlemen sat up that evening in the
drawing-room, and pretended to be busily reading, though their thoughts
were certainly not on their books; indeed, had Mr Nugent asked them
what they were reading about, they would have been puzzled to give a
satisfactory reply.

At last bed-time came, and the whole family retired to their rooms.

Mr Nugent made a practice of getting up early and never sat up late,
except in a case of necessity, when he had some work of importance to
finish.  The boys, therefore, calculated that he would be asleep soon
after eleven.  The house was a large one, the elder boys had, therefore,
rooms to themselves; but Julian and Digby slept in the same room on the
first floor, and their window looked into the garden.  All these
circumstances were favourable to their design.  Finding that there was a
bolt on the door, they secured it.  They did not undress, but, having
put out their light, sat upon the foot of their beds whispering to each
other till they thought everybody would be asleep.  They then relighted
their candle, and Julian, wetting some of their gunpowder, made a
compound well known by the name of a Vesuvius; this he did up in a piece
of paper.  They then poured most of their powder into a
pocket-handkerchief.  It was a mercy that they did not blow themselves
and indeed the house up.  They stuffed their pockets full of paper, the
rest of the powder, and some old handkerchiefs.  Julian had not
forgotten to provide a thick stick to serve as a rammer.  The next thing
they did was to fasten one end of their knotted rope to a bar across
their window.

"Now all's ready.  Come along, Digby," exclaimed Julian.

Digby descended first at the request of his companion, who wanted to
ascertain whether the rope was properly secured before he trusted
himself on it; finding it was safe, he followed.  They looked about them
as if they had been young thieves, to ascertain that they were not
watched, and then crossing the lawn, they scrambled over a high wall,
and ran on as hard as they could go towards the old fort.

It was close upon midnight when they reached the walls.  They clambered
in, and having selected a gun which pointed down directly on the
harbour, they commenced the operation of loading.

"We must put in the handkerchief and all," whispered Julian.

This was done, taking care to allow the powder to escape sufficiently at
the upper side to communicate with the touch-hole.  Then they rammed in
a quantity of paper.

"Now let's have some shot," said Julian, "saw yesterday a pile of large
gravel-stones, they will do famously."

Some gravel-stones, or rather some large lumps of flint were found and
rammed in, and the remainder of their paper was rammed in after them.
Never before, probably, had the old gun been so fully charged.  The
nervous time was approaching.  They filled the touch-hole with
gunpowder, and on the top of it Julian placed his Vesuvius.

"We've got powder enough for another gun," said he, feeling in his
pockets; "haven't you more?"

"Yes," answered Digby, "I've got enough to load a gun almost."

So they poured nearly all that they had remaining into Julian's silk
pocket-handkerchief, and rammed it into another gun.  They filled it up
with stones, and then rammed in what little paper they could collect,
and as that was not enough, Julian insisted on Digby's sacrificing his
pocket-handkerchief also.  Digby did so without a murmur, though I do
not know what Mrs Barker or Mrs Carter would have said to the
proceeding.  He filled up the touch-hole of that gun also, and placed a
Vesuvius over it.

"Now's the time," whispered Julian.

The church-clock began to toll forth slowly the hour of midnight.  He
lighted a lucifer match, and in another moment had ignited the Vesuvius
of the gun they first loaded, while Digby taking a match lighted the
other.  The damp gunpowder fizzed, and spluttered, and flamed up,
occasionally throwing a lurid glare over the interior of the fort, as
well as on their countenances.  Julian's face looked very pale and
ghastly, for he already began to tremble for the consequences of what he
had done.  Little did he suspect what those consequences were to prove.

"We shall be seen if we stand here," he exclaimed, "let's get away,
Digby, as soon as we can."

Digby thought the advice too good not to follow it, so they both
scampered off to one of the embrasures, and having just got within it
were about to jump down into the ditch, when a loud roar was heard, the
whole fort shook, a bright light burst forth, followed by a crashing and
clashing noise, as if heavy bits of metal were falling on the ground.

"Oh, oh, oh!" cried Julian, in an agony of terror, "what shall we do?"

"The cannon has burst," said Digby, calmly; "there's another to come,
though."

It did not occur to either of them that they had just been mercifully
preserved from a most terrific danger.  Digby looked out; the Vesuvius
on the other gun being somewhat wetter than the first was still fizzing
away.

"Oh, come along," cried Julian, recovering somewhat from his fright; "we
must get home as fast as we can, or we shall be discovered to a
certainty.  The coastguard men will be up here directly to see what is
the matter.  Oh come along! come along!"

Even then they thought that they heard footsteps approaching the fort.
They sprang out of the embrasure, and slid down the bank into the ditch.
Just as they were sliding down, off went the gun with as loud a noise
as the first, while the effects were no less disastrous; a lump of iron
flew directly through the embrasure where they had been sitting, and
just clearing their heads, fell at some distance beyond the ditch.
Digby remembered the circumstance many years afterwards, but it made but
a slight impression at the time.

"We had a narrow escape," said Julian, as they reached the bottom of the
ditch; "it is lucky we were out of that hole, or we should have been
made to squeak out I suspect."

They quickly clambered out of the ditch, and looking about to ascertain
that no one was observing them, ran on as fast as they could move.  They
had already marked out the path they were to take, so they lost no time
in having to stop and consider which way they were to go.

On they ran.  Digby found no difficulty in keeping up the speed, but
Julian had never ran so fast in his life.  They had to scramble through
several hedges and across several stubble fields.  Julian's foot caught
in a trailing weed, and down he came on his nose.  He cried out with
pain, but Digby helped him up again.

"You can't be much hurt, I hope," said Digby; "let me help you along; we
must make haste, you know, or we shall be caught."

"But I am very much hurt; my nose feels as if it was smashed in,"
answered Julian, sulkily.  "You don't care for that though, I suppose.
However, help me along; we must make haste I know."

With Digby's aid he was once more in motion.  Their great fear was that
they might be met by some one on his way to the fort to learn what had
occurred.  They had nearly reached Mr Nugent's garden-wall, when they
thought they saw some one coming along.  A deep ditch was near; Julian
jumped into it, dragging Digby after him.  They were only just in time
to escape a person whose footsteps they heard passing by.  Then up they
jumped again, and ran on till they reached the wall for which they were
aiming.  They scrambled over it, and breathed more freely when they
found themselves concealed in the shrubbery.  Great caution was
required, however, to get back into their room.

"Suppose," whispered Digby, "some one should have come to our room, and
tried to awaken us, or found the rope hanging out of the window?"

"Oh, don't let us think of such things," answered Julian, who had the
greatest dread of being found out in any of his tricks, though he had
not the slightest objection to doing what was wrong.

There are, unfortunately, a great number of people in the world like
Julian Langley.  They do not comprehend the awful fact that the Almighty
God sees and knows all they do and think, even to their most trivial
acts and thoughts, and that at the great Day of Judgment they will have
to answer for all the evil they have committed, all the evil thoughts in
which they have willingly indulged.  Not understanding, or forgetting
this great truth, their only dread is lest their sins should be
discovered by their fellow-men, or should in any way disturb the
equanimity of their own consciences.  No greater offence, therefore, can
be committed against them than to speak to them of their vices, or to
try to prove to them that they have done wrong.  Ostriches, when chased,
are said to run their heads into a bush, and to fancy that because they
cannot see they are free from pursuit; so men try to shut out their sins
and faults from their own sight, and, as foolishly as the ostrich, to
fancy that they are not perceived by others, or, still more foolishly
and madly, that a due and just punishment, which an all-righteous God
has said he will inflict on evildoers, will not ultimately overtake
them.  Unhappy Julian, I would rather not have had to narrate his
career.

"Come on, Julian," said Digby, at last.  "I hear no one about; we must
make a push for our window and get in.  If we are caught, patience!  The
thing is done, and can't be undone."

Digby was, in reality, by far the most daring of the two, in cases of
real danger.  Off he set across the lawn, Julian following.  They
reached the window.  The rope was there.  Up he climbed.

Julian fancied that he heard some one speak, and then that footsteps
were coming along the gravel walk.  He was in an agony of terror.  He
could scarcely climb up the rope, and was almost letting go, but Digby
caught his arm, and helped to drag him in.  They hauled up the rope, and
Julian stowed it away again in his box.  They then shut their window and
unlocked their door.

When they came to undress, they found that their clothes were very
muddy, and that they had got their shoes very wet and dirty in the ditch
into which they had jumped.  Even Julian's fertile brain was puzzled as
to how they should account for this, should they be questioned on the
subject.  He lay cold and trembling, and very uncomfortable.  He was
paying somewhat dear for his lark; people generally do for such like
proceedings.

There is an old French proverb, "The game is not worth the candle,"
meaning, which is burnt while it is played.  In a true and Christian
point of view, sin, however delicious, however attractive it may appear,
never is worth a hundredth part of the consequences it is sure to
entail.

Digby was not much less unhappy than Julian.  Still, as he was prepared,
with sturdy independence, to undergo whatever consequences his prank
might bring upon him--for a prank only it was, though an unwise one--he
did not trouble himself much more about the matter, but coiled himself
up in his bed to try and get warm, and prepared to go to sleep.  He was
just dozing off, when he heard the voices of his uncle, and Marshall,
and Power, passing the door.

"Some people can sleep through a thunder-storm, or a battle at sea; and
so, I suppose, those youngsters were not awoke by all that tremendous
noise," observed Marshall.

"More likely that they were awoke, and that fellow Julian Langley is
lying quaking in his bed, and wondering what all the noise was about,"
answered Power.

"Do not call them now, at all events," said Mr Nugent.  "We will ask
them to-morrow what they thought about the matter.  What could have
exploded those old guns?"

Julian and Digby would have been fully satisfied had they witnessed the
commotion the explosion of the guns created in the quiet old town.  Half
the male population, and even some of the women, turned out of their
beds and ran to the fort.  Some thought the Russians or the French, or
some other enemies of England, had come, and were firing away at the
fort--a very useless proceeding it would have been, considering that the
poor old fort could not fire at them.  Others, not aware of this latter
fact, thought that a body of artillery had suddenly been transported
there, and that they were defending the place in the most desperate
manner.  The braver men who thought this ran to assist them; and others,
and some of the women, ran out of the town to be further from danger.

However, a very large number of people collected in the fort, everybody
asking questions, and nobody being able to give a satisfactory reply.

Some asserted that a dozen guns had been fired off; others even a
greater number.  One thing only was evident, when lanterns were brought
to make an examination--that two of the old guns had burst, and had
scattered their fragments far and wide around.

"Some malicious people must have done it," observed the worthy mayor,
who did not at all like being thus rudely summoned out of his bed, as he
had been by the explosion.  "High treason, rebellion, and--and--" (he
could not find a third word of sufficient force to express his feelings)
"has been committed in this loyal, respectable, quiet town, and the
villainous perpetrators of the atrocious deed must be brought to condign
punishment."

It was a pity Julian and Digby could not hear these expressions.

Some people in the crowd had their own opinions on the subject.  Mr
Simson was there, and he picked up a thick stick, with a thicker head,
and kept it.

The coastguard men thought the smugglers had done it, but with what
object they could not divine.  Some wiseacres thought that the guns had
gone off of themselves; others, that Dame Marlow, whose fame had long
been great at Osberton, had had a hand in the work.  However, though
everybody looked about and talked, they were not much the wiser, and at
length they retired to their homes, and the old fort was allowed to
sleep on with its usual tranquillity.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

DIGBY FINDS THAT A BAD ADVISER IS THE WORST OF FRIENDS--MORE MISCHIEF
AND ITS INCONVENIENCES--SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES THREATENED.

Julian and Digby would very much have liked to have been sent to
Coventry, the morning after their cannon-firing, so that no disagreeable
questions might have been asked them.  They dressed slowly and tried to
look over their lessons in their room, but got very little information
out of their books.  They felt very foolish when the bell rang, aid they
had to make their appearance in the breakfast-room.  Morning prayers
were over, and they took their seats round the breakfast-table.

"Well, Julian, did you not hear the noise last night?" were the first
words Marshall spoke.

"What noise?" asked Julian; "I sleep very soundly; it must have been a
row to awake me."

"Why, the guns of the old castle going off by themselves," said Power.

"Not a sound," said Julian, hoarsely.

Digby looked at him, and wondered if his friend had any conscience.
What should he say? there was the difficulty.  He had always scorned a
lie; if so point blank a question were put to him, how could he answer
and not betray their secret?

"And did you sleep through it too, Digby?" said his uncle.

"No, I heard the noise very clearly," answered Digby, and he felt
happier after he had said this, though Julian gave him a tremendous kick
on the shins under the table.

"How could you remain quietly in bed after it?" asked Marshall.

"I was out," answered Digby firmly, "but I got back before you, since
you must know all about it.  I don't think that you have a right to be
asking me questions, which I may not wish to answer.  If I speak at all,
I wish to speak the truth.  More I do not wish to say; and now, if you
like, tell me what you thought about it."

Mr Nugent looked surprised at Digby's firmness and unusual vehemence,
but suspecting that Julian had not spoken the truth, and that Digby
wished not to betray him, forbore to press the matter further.

Of course, both the boys were on tenter-hooks during the whole of
breakfast.  Digby applied himself sturdily to his food and eat on
without speaking, as if he was in a very sulky mood.  All day, too,
while they were at their lessons, every time there was a ring at the
door, they fancied that some one was coming to accuse them of their
misdemeanor.  Digby thought much less about it than Julian, and it also
troubled him much less, because he had made up his mind, if directly
accused of the deed, to acknowledge it at once, without the slightest
attempt at evasion.  His conscience told him, that this was the only
right course to pursue; any other would plunge him into a sea of
falsehood, from which he shrunk with dread.  He intended, if he could
avoid so doing, not to inculpate Julian, but to take all the blame on
his own shoulders.

"Julian says he was not out of bed that night; he is very wrong, but I
don't want to get him into a scrape if he wishes to avoid it," he
thought to himself.

Unfortunately, he did not see Julian's conduct in its true light.  That
young gentleman was all the time thinking, and plotting, and contriving,
how he should himself get out of the scrape.  He had already told one
falsehood, he must invent others to avoid being found out after all.  He
could not fix his attention on his lessons, and, of course, he did them
very badly.

"You must stay in and learn these twelve lines of your Delectus by
heart," said Mr Nugent, who was much displeased with him.

Digby, who had done his lessons much in his usual way, which was seldom
very first-rate by-the-by, was allowed to go out.  Of course all the
rest were eager to go to the fort, and Digby was compelled to go with
them.  This was doubly annoying to Julian, who wanted to have a few
minutes' conversation with him to get him to promise not to betray him,
and to induce him, if possible, to tell a long story which he had
concocted, to account for his not hearing the noise, and for his not
accompanying Digby afterwards to the fort.

When Digby and his companions reached the fort, he was astonished at the
mischief which had been committed.  The old guns lay on the ground with
large pieces torn out of them, and their carriages knocked to atoms,
while a portion of the parapet round the embrasures had been crumbled
into powder.

While they were running about, who should walk into the fort but worthy
Mr Simson, the grocer.  He watched his opportunity when Digby was
separated from his companions, and drew him aside.

"I hope the other gentleman isn't hurt," he said.

"No, he hasn't done his lessons, so he is not allowed to go out,"
answered Digby.

"I was afraid he might be hurt.  Well, you two had a fortunate escape,"
observed Mr Simson; "I know all about it; I don't want to betray you,
though; I have boys of my own: but you mustn't do the same thing again,
that is all."

"Thank you," answered Digby, "I am very much obliged to you, indeed I
am."

"That's what I like, young gentleman, that's manly and right-spirited,"
said Mr Simson, taking his hand and pressing it warmly.  "I wouldn't
betray you on any account, that I wouldn't.  Trust to me."

Digby was much happier after this.  He felt, however, that he had
escaped a great danger of the whole matter being known, and though he
couldn't exactly divine what punishment he might have inflicted on him,
he knew that he should at all events have been made to look very
foolish.

"They wouldn't hang a fellow for such a thing, and I don't suppose they
would send me to prison.  Still, I am really very grateful to kind Mr
Simson for not peaching.  I'll always deal with him in future.  How did
he find out all about it, I wonder?"

He heard with much more indifference than at first, the various remarks
and conjectures made on the subject, and the feeling that he had acted a
manly part about it enabled him to look people boldly in the face, and
thus he escaped the suspicion which would otherwise have fallen on him.
When he got home he found Julian very dull and sorry for himself.  He
told him what Mr Simson had said.

"Oh, then, he will go and peach upon us, and it will all be found out,"
exclaimed Julian, half-crying.

"But he promised that he would say nothing about the matter," urged
Digby.

"So he might, but one can't trust to a shopkeeper," answered Julian,
with a scornful turn of his lip.

"I don't see that," replied Digby; "if he is an honourable man and has
good feelings, I think that one may trust to a shopkeeper as well as to
the first noble in the land; I know that my uncle often says that one
man's word is as good as that of another, provided both are equally
honest and upright."

"All I know is, that old Simson was very impertinent to me when I went
to buy the gunpowder," said Julian; "if I hadn't wanted more I wouldn't
have gone to him again."

"He cautioned me about it, and not without some reason," said Digby; "So
I'll maintain that old Simson is a very good fellow, and, what's more,
I'm sure he looks like a gentleman in every way."

Several days passed by, and though inquiries were made and numbers of
people were examined, no clue was discovered to the originators of what
the county papers called that mysterious circumstance at Osberton.
Digby couldn't help cutting out the paragraph, and sending it to Kate,
darkly hinting that he might, perhaps, some day enlighten her about the
matter.  He was afraid of committing the account to paper, but her very
acute perception at once divined that he had taken a prominent part in
the affair.  How she did long to hear all about it, and how he did long
for the holidays that he might tell her.  He had an idea that his uncle
knew something about it, because after this neither he nor Julian were
allowed to go out, except in company with Marshall or Power, or Toby
Tubb.  One day, however, all the boys had gone together to the beach,
and by some means or other, unintentionally, while some were climbing up
over the cliffs, Digby got separated from the rest.  As he knew his way
home, however, perfectly well, he did not care about it, even though it
was growing dark.  He had not gone far when two men overtook him; they
were rough-looking fellows and dressed as seamen; he did not altogether
like their appearance.  They went on some little way, and then turning
back, they looked him in the face, and one of them said--

"Are you Squire Heathcote's son, master?"

"Yes," answered Digby, "I am.  Why do you want to know?"

"I've asked a civil question, and you've given a civil answer, master.
Good-night," replied the man who had before spoken; and then they both
walked rapidly on.

Digby thought it rather odd that men of that sort should wish to know
who he was, but troubled himself very little more about the matter.

When he got home, his uncle inquired how he came to be later than the
rest; and knowing he always spoke the truth, was perfectly satisfied
with his explanation.

"Your uncle seems to think that he can trust you much more than he can
me," observed Julian one day.  "It is very hard upon me, as I am older.
He favours you as a relation, that's it, I've no doubt."

Digby made no reply, but he felt indignant, as he could not bear to have
his uncle, whom he respected, spoken ill of.

By degrees Julian recovered his usual state of mind, and, as he did so,
his fertile brain began to devise fresh schemes of mischief.  Since his
liberty had been curtailed he found them, however, much more difficult
to carry out.  It may seem strange that, after all the anxiety and
inconvenience he had suffered in consequence of his last achievement, he
should be eager to do something which was likely to produce the same
results; but such is unfortunately too generally the case with
evildoers.  Unless some severe punishment follows they go on and on,
committing the same evil again and again.  Indeed, even punishment will
not always deter people who have given themselves up to evil ways from
continuing in them; and men have frequently been known, the very day
after they have been released from prison, to have committed the very
crime for which they have been confined.  Reformation of heart and
character is what is required, and this had not taken place with regard
to Julian Langley.

"I've hit upon a capital idea, Digby," said he one day when the two were
alone; "help me out with it."

"What is it?" asked his companion.

"I've been thinking what fun it would be to set all the fishing-boats
out in the river adrift.  How they would knock about each other, and how
angry the boatmen would be."

"I should think they would be angry, indeed," answered Digby, stoutly.
"Fun is fun, but it seems to me that a great deal of harm might be done
by what you propose.  I'd advise you to give up the idea; I'll have
nothing to do with it."

"I thought you were a fellow of spirit, Digby," sneered Julian.  "What
great harm can there be in letting a few old fishermen's boats knock
together?"

"Why, they might get carried out to sea, and be lost altogether, and
have their sides stove in, or holes made in their bottoms, or be sunk,
and lose their oars and sails; indeed, I can fancy a great deal of
damage might be done," said Digby.  "I think that it would be very wrong
and cruel to the poor fishermen."

"Oh, now I see you are going to take a leaf out of your uncle's book,
and to turn saint," sneered Julian.  This was one of his most powerful
expressions.  He knew that Digby especially disliked being called a
saint, and that he often confessed, as do many older people with equal
thoughtlessness, that he did not set up for a saint.  People seem not to
consider, if they do not wish to become saints, what they really do
desire to become.  Certainly none but saints can inherit the glories of
eternity; and unless they trust in the merits of One who can cleanse
them from their sins, and make them saints, so that they may be
presented spotless to the Father Almighty, from those glories they will
be shut out.

Poor Digby winced under Julian's sneer.  "A saint; no, I am no saint, I
hope, but I don't want to injure the poor fishermen," he answered,
firmly.

"Injure them!  Who's going to injure them?" exclaimed Julian,
petulantly.  "I've made up my mind to have my lark, and have it I will.
If any great harm comes I'm ready to bear it.  You won't peach upon me,
I suppose?"

"No," answered Digby, indignantly.  "I like fun as much as you; and if I
saw the fun I'd do it willingly."

Julian thought that Digby was relenting, and still pressed the matter,
but in vain.  "Well, if you won't go I must get somebody else.  I know a
fellow who will help, though none of the sneaks here will join me," said
Julian, walking away.

Digby felt satisfied that he had done right, still he did not like to
let Julian go away, and have his fun by himself.

The latter young gentleman went into the garden, and disappeared in the
shrubbery.  In spite of the prohibition still existing against his going
out alone, he jumped over the wall, and betook himself to the river
side.  He had scraped acquaintance with a lad of his own age, the son of
a small innkeeper, who had been a smuggler, and was still, it was
suspected, intimately connected with smugglers.

Dick Owlett was certainly not a fit associate for the son of the
Honorable Mr Langley; but vice more than anything else creates
incongruous companionships.  Young Owlett was ready to do anything
Julian proposed, because he fancied that he might easily throw all the
blame on Julian's shoulders, or else that, through Julian's influence,
they both might escape punishment.  Dick had none of Digby's scruples,
so the whole plan was soon arranged.  Both had thoroughly ill-regulated
minds, and rejoiced in mischief for mischief's sake.

Julian came back unperceived, and, in high spirits, told Digby that he
was going to have his fun in spite of him.

The following night Julian awoke Digby about eleven o'clock, and told
him that he must help him to get out of the window, and wait his return
to let him in again.

Digby expostulated, but in vain; he had not yet learned that the only
sure way for the young to avoid the contamination of evildoers is to
keep out of their society altogether.  So Digby agreed to sit up till
Julian's return.

The rope was secured, Julian descended by it, and off he ran across the
lawn towards the wall, over which he had so often before made his escape
from the premises.

Digby waited and waited; Julian did not return.  He became very anxious
about him.  He wished that he had taken stronger measures to prevent his
carrying out his foolish and mischievous prank.  The only effectual way
to have prevented him would have been to have told Marshall or his
uncle, but such a proceeding was so contrary to all his notions of what
ought to be done, that it did not even occur to him.  He could not
exactly tell how time passed, but he thought that Julian must have been
away a very long time.  He could bear the suspense no longer.  Some boys
of his age would have gone to bed, and cried, or sat quaking with fear.
To do this was not at all in Digby's nature.  He loved action; he must
be up and doing.  He knew the road Julian would have taken, and he
resolved to go and look for him.  It did not occur to him that he should
thus run a great risk of being implicated in whatever his companion had
done; had he, I do not believe that the fear of that would have weighed
with him a moment.  He put on all his clothes and his shoes, and,
without further consideration, slipped down the rope, gained the wall,
and ran on as fast as his legs could carry him towards the river.  He
got very nearly to the spot where he thought Julian would have embarked,
when he met two boys running.  "Who's there?--Julian, is that you?" he
exclaimed.

"Oh, Digby, how you startled me," exclaimed one of the boys.  It was
Julian who spoke.

"All right," cried Digby.  "I became very anxious.  I was afraid some
harm had happened, and so I set off to look for you; but why are you
running so fast?"

"Because we are afraid somebody is after us," answered Julian, almost
breathless.  "We've done it, though, and rare fun there will be
to-morrow to see what has become of all the boats."

It was not necessary for Julian to tell Digby to turn back; he had at
once done so, and they were running on together.  They turned their
heads for a moment, and Dick Owlett had disappeared.  His reason for so
doing was very evident.  Digby thus, very unintentionally, slipped into
his shoes.  They soon had to cross a meadow; their own footsteps now
making but a slight noise, they were able to hear the sound of another
person fast approaching them.

"It may be Dick Owlett," said Julian, in a low voice.  "Still, if it is
one of the coastguard men we shall catch it.  Run, Digby, run."

Digby could have run a great deal faster than he was running, but had he
done so he would have left Julian behind.  Their pursuer, whoever he
was, came on very rapidly.  They had scarcely crossed the field when,
looking back, they saw him at the other end of it.  He must have seen
them.  It seemed very useless, therefore, to attempt to escape, but
their natural impulse was to run on till he put his hand on their
shoulder to stop them.  Julian wanted to jump into a ditch and hide, as
they had before done, but Digby protested against this, and insisted on
running on.  Across the fields they went--now they thought that they had
escaped their pursuer--now they saw him again.  Sometimes he got very
close to them, and then they distanced him.  At last they got up to the
garden-wall.  The footsteps sounded terribly loud close behind them.
They rushed on.  Julian, always most anxious to escape from danger, had
first sprung to the top of the wall, and Digby was helping him over,
when a person leaped forward, and seizing Julian by the leg, and Digby
by the shoulder, exclaimed--

"Hillo, young gentlemen, is it you, then, who have been about this
pretty piece of mischief?  What will your master say to you, I should
like to know?  It's lucky we found it out, or there's no saying what
damage might have been done; however, that's no excuse for you--so come
along with me to the front door, and I'll hand you over to Mr Nugent,
or I'll take you to the lock-up house, and let you stay there till the
morning."

Julian nudged Digby, to induce him to speak.  He took the hint.

"I have nothing to do with the mischief of which you are talking," he
exclaimed, boldly.  "I don't know by what right you venture to detain
me.  I had a good reason for being out, which will, I believe, satisfy
Mr Nugent, but I do not see that you, whoever you are, or any other
man, has a right to call on me to explain it."

"Tell that to the marines, youngster; you are not going to impose on an
old salt," answered the revenue man, for such he appeared.  "Why, I
traced you from the time you jumped on shore every inch of the way to
this place."

"That you could not," answered Digby; "I have not been on the water
to-night."

"Well, you are a bold young ruffian," exclaimed the man, fairly
exasperated at Digby's coolness.  "I never have heard anybody, man or
boy, tell a lie and stick to it as you can do."

"You are very impertinent," said Digby, who, knowing that he really was
speaking the truth, forgot that it was not possible for the man to
believe him.  It did not occur to him that he very naturally was
mistaken for Dick Owlett.

"Well, if it comes to that," said the man, "the sooner we go and talk to
Mr Nugent the better.  I don't suppose that he allows his young
gentlemen to be running about at nights for their own amusement."
Saying this their captor, who was a strong stout man, carried them off
in spite of their struggles to the front door of the house.  He rang and
knocked for some time without succeeding in awaking any one.

The feelings of Digby and Julian may more easily be conceived than
described, though, as may be supposed from what I have already mentioned
of their characters, they were very different.  They did not dare to
communicate with each other, and so all they could do was to hold their
tongues.  At last Mr Nugent was aroused, and supposing that some sick
parishioner wanted his attendance, he got up, dressed, and came down
stairs.  What was his astonishment at seeing two of his pupils in the
hands of a revenue officer.

"Please, sir, I've brought you these two young gentlemen, to tell you
that they have been playing no end of mischief down in the harbour,
there, to-night--cutting the fishing-boats adrift, and letting them run
foul of each other.  If you like to take charge of them and have them
ready when they are wanted, I'll leave them; if not, I'll take them off
to the lock-up house, to pass the rest of the night."

Poor Mr Nugent could not believe his senses.  He stood staring first at
one and then at the other, fully believing that he was dreaming.  Then
he rubbed his eyes and felt his clothes, to assure himself that he had
got up and dressed.  "What is it all about?" he at last exclaimed.  "Out
on the river--in the middle of the night--you, Digby--you, Julian
Langley.  I cannot comprehend it.  Come in, though, I am very much
grieved; I beg that you, James Sutton, will explain matters more fully."
Without saying more, Mr Nugent led the way to his study, when lighting
the candles he sat down, while the accuser and the two culprits stood
before him.  "Now, James Sutton, tell me your story, if you please," he
said, calmly.

"Why, sir, these young gentlemen have been having what I suppose they
call a lark.  They went down to the river, shoved off in a boat, and
went round, and with their knives cut the cables of a number of the
fishermen's boats and other small craft lying in the harbour.  The ebb
was just making, and the boats drove one against another; some went on
shore, and others would have gone out to sea and been lost, but our boat
was just coming in.  Of course we boarded them, and finding no one in
them, suspected that something was wrong.  As our boat is white, and we
pulled with muffled oars, and our young gentlemen were very busy, they
did not see us.  We should have caught them in the act, but that we had
to look after some of the boats.  We saw them just landing, so our chief
boatman put me on shore, and told me to follow them up and see where
they went to.  I didn't think, you may be sure, that they were your
young gentlemen."

"You acted in every way rightly," said Mr Nugent.  "And now, Julian,
what have you to say to this?"

"That it is a base fabrication," answered Julian.  "I had no right to be
out at night, that I know.  I went out for a lark, because I couldn't
sleep, and meeting Digby we came back together; but that I did anything
else I defy anybody to prove."

"Oh," said Mr Nugent.  "What do you say to this, Digby?"

"That I had not been out of the house twenty minutes when this man
caught hold of me," answered Digby, quietly.  "I certainly was not doing
any harm, though I ought not to have left the house without leave.  I,
however, am ready to stand the consequences of doing so."

"Well!" exclaimed Sutton, "he is the lad to swear that black is white,
and make another believe it."

"I never knew him tell an untruth, Sutton," observed Mr Nugent.  "There
is a mystery about the matter which I cannot yet fathom."

"Well, sir, I will leave the young gentlemen with you, and you will be
answerable for their appearance when they are wanted," said Sutton,
laying a strong emphasis on that word wanted, which has so much
significance to thieves and vagabonds.

Julian and Digby did not quite comprehend it in the way Sutton wished,
but they guessed that there was something unpleasant connected with it.

"Of course, Sutton, I will take care that they are forthcoming when
required to answer for what has occurred," replied Mr Nugent, in a tone
which showed how grieved and annoyed he was.  "Come to me, however, at
nine o'clock in the morning, and I will inquire further into it."

When Sutton had taken his departure, Mr Nugent, desiring Digby to stay
where he was, led Julian upstairs to his bedroom.  The window was open,
and the knotted rope hung to it.  Mr Nugent stood aghast.  "Have you
often made use of this, young gentleman?" he asked.

Julian was really frightened, and burst out crying, in dread that his
various misdemeanors would at length be brought to light.  "Only once or
twice, and merely for a lark, without any harm in it," he answered, as
soon as he could bring out his words.  "If you will overlook it this
time, sir, Digby and I won't do it again--that I promise; indeed we
won't, sir."

"I conclude that you will not," said Mr Nugent, drily.  "However, I do
not consider it at all a slight thing to have my young gentlemen running
about the country at midnight, and laying themselves open to such
accusations as have been brought against you to-night.  You ran as great
a risk of having an accusation brought against you of being concerned in
a burglary, or in the robbery of a hen-roost.  And listen to me, Julian
Langley, I deeply regret that I cannot trust your word, and I am not at
all satisfied that you will be proved innocent of the crime of which
Sutton says you are guilty.  Now, go to bed, and pray that you may have
a new heart put into you."

"But Digby, sir, you'll forgive him, may he not come up and go to bed,"
said Julian, making a mighty effort to speak, for he thought that
everything would depend on his being able to put Digby up to what he
should say.

"Certainly not," answered Mr Nugent, who divined his motive.  "I cannot
allow you and Digby again to associate till this mystery is cleared up.
Pull off your clothes and jump into bed."

Mr Nugent having taken possession of the rope, and shut, the window,
took the candle, and walked away, leaving Julian to his meditations, or
to sleep if he could.  His meditations could not have been of a pleasant
character, though it was not so much the folly of his conduct as the
fear of the consequences which annoyed him.  At last he fell asleep.
Meantime Mr Nugent went back to his nephew.

"Digby," he said, looking gravely at him, "you have often been
thoughtless and idle, but I have ever found you truthful; I trust that
you will be so on this occasion.  Tell me what you know about this
matter."

"I will tell you about my share in it, uncle, but I hope you will let
Julian answer for himself.  All the fellows say that there is nothing so
bad as one fellow peaching against another, and I don't want to do it,"
answered Digby, firmly.

Mr Nugent was too well acquainted with schoolboy notions of honour and
morality to be surprised at this speech.

"But it is also very bad to shield the guilty, as in that way vice is
encouraged and crime escapes its proper punishment," he remarked.
"However, let me hear what you have got to say.  One thing is very
certain, both you and he were doing what you should not have done, in
leaving the house at night.  Go on."

"Then, uncle, all I have to say is, that Julian went out and asked me to
sit up for him and let him in.  I did, but he was longer absent than I
expected, and so I got out of the window and took the road I thought he
had gone to try and find him, fearing that some accident might have
happened to him.  I met him coming back, and just as we got near the
house that man Sutton caught hold of us."

"I believe you, entirely," said Mr Nugent.  "But I wish to know if you
can guess what Julian Langley was about during his absence."

"That is the very point about which I don't want to say any thing," said
Digby.  "Let Julian tell his own story."

"But he does not seem inclined to exculpate you; he leads me to suppose
that whatever he was about you were helping him to do.  You will have to
prove the contrary, or you will be considered as guilty as he is,"
observed Mr Nugent.

"I cannot help that," answered Digby, after a little thought.  "I have
stated the truth; I am ready to be punished for leaving the house, and,
as things turned out, I am sorry I did it, but I should have been very
miserable if any harm had come to Julian which I could have prevented."

"Then since you refuse to enlighten me, I will not press the matter
now," said his uncle.  "I will consider to-morrow what punishment I
shall inflict on you.  Take this cloak and go to sleep on the sofa.
Remember that you are not to communicate by word or writing, or in any
way with Julian.  Promise me that you in this will obey me."

"I do promise," said Digby.

"Good-night," said his uncle, not altogether displeased with the boy.

Oh, what a blessed thing it is to be able to confide thoroughly in the
word of a person, to know that he always, and under all circumstances,
speaks the truth--not only that he scorns a falsehood, but that he
deeply feels how odious it is in the sight of God, a pure God who is
truth itself.  In what different estimation are two boys held, who are
perhaps in most respects equal.  They have equal talents, can play
equally well at games, of the same strength, and appearance, and
manners, are equally good-natured, and are equally well supplied with
pocket-money, and the means of treating their companions.  One has been
proved never to deviate from the truth, either through fear, or for the
sake of telling a good story, or on any other account; the other it is
known never scruples to tell a falsehood, if it suits his convenience,
or it can afford amusement to himself or others, while if he thinks he
can by it avoid detection from any fault he may have committed, he
invariably does so.  One is looked up to, honoured, and loved, both by
boys and masters; the other may find plenty of associates, but no one
trusts him, and all in their hearts despise him, and what is strange,
even those who will at times prevaricate and deviate as widely from the
truth as he does, have a feeling of contempt for him.  Remember, that it
is not the only sin, vile as it is, which a boy can commit, but it is
one with others which should be watchfully guarded against, and
earnestly prayed against, and certainly none, even in the eyes of
worldly people, is considered more unworthy of the character of an
English country gentleman.

Sutton, the revenue man, made his appearance the next morning; he said
some of the fishermen were so furious at the mischief which had been
intended them, that unless they could be appeased the matter must go
before a bench of magistrates.  If so, Mr Heathcote and Mr Langley
would have to try their own sons, and the whole affair would be very
disagreeable and painful.  Poor Mr Nugent was very much annoyed.  He
went to Julian's room; that young gentleman was still asleep.  He roused
him up, made him put on his clothes rapidly, without allowing him time
to reflect.  He had previously sent Digby out of the study; he now took
Julian to it.

"How do you account for yourself from the time you left the house till
Digby found you?" he asked.

"Another fellow and I were taking a row on the water, and trying to
catch some fish," answered Julian, doggedly.

"Who was the other fellow?" asked Mr Nugent.

"He's called Dick Owlett, I believe; he gets bait for us sometimes."

"Then I can fancy how it happened," said Sutton.  "I'll now get hold of
Master Owlett, who is the wildest young scamp in the place; he'll lie
through thick and thin, there's no doubt of that, but I'll squeeze the
truth out of him before I've done with him, depend on that."

Julian when he heard this felt very sure that Dick Owlett, to escape
punishment, would throw the entire blame upon his shoulders.  Could he
have communicated with Dick he thought that he might have bribed him to
be silent, but as he had no hopes of so doing he was excessively puzzled
to know how to act.  He had already denied having had anything to do
with the matter.  He doubted even whether further falsehoods would
assist him; still he could not bring himself to speak the truth, confess
his folly, and take the whole blame on himself.  However, Sutton had
learned quite enough for his purpose.  His style of proceeding with
Owlett was likely to be very different to that of Mr Nugent's with his
pupils.  Julian was sent back to his room to finish his toilet, Mr
Nugent telling him that he must breakfast there, and not leave it
without his permission.  He consequently had to spend a very miserable
and solitary day in a cold room; but he did not escape having to do his
lessons, which he might possibly have considered a counterbalancing
advantage, as Mr Nugent took him his books and went there to hear him.
He was left in doubt all the time what steps Sutton had taken with
Owlett, and also as to what Digby had said.

As may be supposed, Sutton had no great difficulty in getting the whole
truth, and perhaps something more even, out of Dick Owlett, who, in the
hope of escaping punishment, was ready enough to throw all the blame on
his young gentleman companion.

Mr Nugent bethought him of calling in the aid of Toby Tubb.  The affair
had become the conversation of all the seafaring population of the
place.

Toby was very unhappy to think that Digby was implicated, but, when he
heard that he had nothing to do with it, he undertook to arrange
matters, observing that somebody would have to pay pretty smartly for
the lark, if lark it was, though he thought it a very bad one.

Neither Julian nor Digby had an idea that any such negotiations were
going forward, and they were left with the impression that they should
have to present themselves before a bench of magistrates, and perhaps be
sent to the house of correction and receive a sound flogging, or be set
to work at the treadmill, or some other dreadful thing to which they had
read in the newspapers that juvenile delinquents were subjected.

Mr Nugent, of course, was compelled to write to Mr Langley, to explain
the whole matter, and, from the tone of that gentleman's reply, he saw
that the only satisfactory course he could pursue was to request him to
remove his son to another place of instruction.  He from the first, when
he discovered how his young gentlemen contrived to leave the house, had
suspected that they had been engaged in the cannon-firing affair.

Though Mr Simson did not forfeit his word by saying anything, he
ascertained enough to satisfy him on the matter from the less scrupulous
Mr Jones, whose only bond to keep silence was the hope of getting more
out of them.

Miserably always are those mistaken who put confidence in dishonest
persons.  Such are influenced only by interested motives, and invariably
betray their dupes if it suits their convenience.

The holidays at length arrived.  The last few weeks at Osberton, Julian
Langley had found very disagreeable.  His lather wrote him a scolding
letter, for having put him to so much expense, as he had thought it
wiser to pay the fishermen their demand for the damage done their boats
rather than allow the transaction, so disgraceful to his son, to become
public.

Mr Nugent kept a strict watch over him.  He was not allowed to
associate with Digby, while the rest of his fellow-pupils treated him
with marked contempt, not so much on account of what he had done, as
because he had denied having done it, and because they believed that he
would have drawn Digby into the scrape, and, if he could, have thrown
the blame on him.

Digby did not remain very long out of spirits.  His conscience was
tolerably at ease.  He thought that his uncle had treated him very
kindly, and as he wished, therefore, to please him, he set diligently to
work to do his lessons each day as well as he could.  He had not yet
learned to study for the sake of the knowledge he should thus acquire.
He did not appreciate the value of knowledge, the use it is of in every
way, the delight it affords, the satisfaction it brings.  He did his
lessons because he knew that all boys were made to do lessons, and he
did not expect to avoid the general fate of boyhood.  He had a sort of
indefinite idea that boys were compelled to do lessons from some
tyrannical motive of grown-up people; probably because they, when
children, had been made to do them, now, when they were grown up, they
retaliated on the next generation for the annoyance they themselves had
suffered; much in the same way that boys who have been most bullied and
fagged when, they were little fellows, frequently bully most, and make
the severest masters, when they get into the upper forms--not always,
but frequently, that is the case.  Digby now and then wished for the
society of his former companion, and thought it rather hard that they
were not allowed to speak to each other except at meal-times.

Mr Nugent or Marshall used to take Julian out to walk, never allowing
him to go out of their sight.  This was more galling to him as Digby now
enjoyed the same unrestricted liberty as at first.  He seldom, however,
went out by himself, except, perhaps, to run to the post-office, or to
carry a message to some neighbour.

Dick Owlett did not escape the consequences of his lark, for the
fishermen did not overlook the mischief he had wished to do them, and
many a kick and a cuff he got from their hands which he might otherwise
have avoided.  Soon afterwards, he was taken up before the magistrates
for another misdemeanor, and Mr Langley, hearing who he was, told his
father that he would receive the most severe punishment which could be
inflicted if he did not at once send him off to sea.  To sea, therefore,
went master Owlett, not at all to his own satisfaction, and very much to
his father's rage, who vowed that he would be revenged on some of the
aristocracy for what had happened.

The magistrates had lately got the character of being unusually severe.
A gang of smugglers had some time before been captured, and a revenue
officer having been killed in the affray, two were transported, and
others sent for a year or more to gaol--a punishment which, to men of
the habits of that class, is peculiarly galling.  Although some of the
band were taken, others escaped, and the latter, furious at the
punishment inflicted on their friends, had sworn, it was said, to take
vengeance on the magistrates who had procured their conviction by
sending them up for trial, and on Squire Heathcote especially, through
whose means they had been captured.

One of the transported men was a grandson of old Dame Marlow, and though
it was supposed that she loved nothing human, she had certainly always
shown an affection for the ill-conditioned youth in question.  Ever
since, she had been heard, it was said, muttering threats of dire
vengeance against those who had caused it.  Time, however, passed on,
and nothing occurred, and even those who fully believed in the old
woman's power, as well as in the means at the disposal of the smugglers,
thought that nothing would come of the threats of one or the other.

Mr Heathcote, when told of what was said, laughed the matter to scorn.
"Dame Marlow has done nothing else but mutter foolish threats against
all the human race for the last twenty years," he observed; "and as for
the smugglers, they know too well to come and burn down my ricks, or
anything of that sort; and as to personal violence, they are pretty well
aware that they would get as much or more than they gave.  The man who
is afraid of poachers, smugglers, gipsies, or vagabonds of any sort, had
better not attempt to act the part of an English country gentleman; he
isn't fit for his place."

To return to Osberton.  Mr Nugent's pupils took their departure for
their different homes.  Julian Langley, it was understood, was not to
return there again.  That Digby would come back was very uncertain.  Mr
Nugent had heard of a school which he thought might suit him.  The
head-master was an old college friend of his, a good scholar, and a very
excellent as well as gentlemanly man.

"He is conscientious and gentle-hearted," he observed to his sister, to
whom he was writing on the subject; "I am therefore certain that he will
do his best to instruct his pupils, and will treat them with the
greatest kindness.  Of course, after the lapse of so many years, I might
find the character of my old friend Henry Sanford somewhat changed, but
I cannot for a moment suppose that the change will be in any material
point for the worse."

"Oh, Mr Sanford's is exactly the school to which I should wish Digby to
go," exclaimed Mrs Heathcote, after reading her brother's letter; "he
will be well taken care of, and well taught.  What more can we wish?"

"I would rather send him at once to Eton or Winchester, and he would
soon learn to take care of himself," observed the Squire.  "As for the
learning, he'll pick up enough of that, somehow or other, to roll along
with, and to enable him to look after his property by and by.  Really, I
think we had better send him at once to Eton."

Mrs Heathcote pleaded so hard against this, that at last it was settled
that Digby should go to Mr Sanford's for a couple of years, and
afterwards be sent to one of the above-mentioned public schools.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

RETURN HOME--CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES--HOW THEY WERE INTERRUPTED--THE HEIR
OF BLOXHOLME MISSING--DAME MARLOW'S REVENGE--ARTHUR HAVILAND GOES IN
SEARCH OF HIS FRIEND.

There were great rejoicings when just before Christmas time Digby's
jovial, smiling, and sunburnt countenance beamed forth in the hall of
Bloxholme.  How pleased were his father and mother to see him--how
delighted Kate was--how fondly she kissed him, and how eagerly she asked
him, as soon as he could, to come and tell her about everything.  Gusty
shouted and cheered as if some great event had occurred--so it had to
him--for one of the most important personages he had ever known, had
just returned, after a long absence, to the home of his ancestors.  John
Pratt came to the door, hat in hand, grinning all over with glee, and
eagerly helped the coachman to unstrap Digby's trunk and play-box.
Alesbury, the butler, looked benignly at him--"Glad to see you, Master
Digby, very glad, that I am," he exclaimed, in his usual well-bred
undertone; "so grown too, you are.  Well, we've all sorts of things
ready for the holidays--very glad to see you, very."  Mrs Carter
hurried out of the housekeeper's room to welcome him, and after shaking
hands and looking at him proudly for a minute, she gave way to the
feelings of her heart, and seizing him in her arms, covered his cheeks
with kisses.  Nurse treated him much in the same way.  He was too happy
to resent the indignity, though he did rub his cheeks pretty hard
afterwards with his handkerchief, when they were not looking.  His two
elder sisters were out riding when he arrived.  When they came back they
gave him as hearty a welcome as the rest of the family.  Miss Apsley,
too, in her quiet ladylike way, expressed her pleasure at seeing him.
Her discernment enabled her to discover that he possessed many qualities
which, if properly directed, would make him both generally liked, and a
useful member of society.  She liked him because she thought that he was
an honest true-hearted, English boy.

Digby had good reason, therefore, to be satisfied with the reception he
met with from every member of the family after this his first absence
from home.  So he was, and he felt that he was a very happy fellow.
Still more full of glee was he, when he at length having been
sufficiently looked at, and talked to, and cross questioned, and kissed,
and hugged, and fed, found himself running through the grounds, with
Kate by his side, towards their favourite resort, the summer-house on
the mound.

It was a bright clear day, and though the air was cold, the sun striking
through the glass windows for several hours made the room warm and
pleasant.  Then looking out together at the view, which, even in winter,
was beautiful, Digby told Kate of all that had happened him at Mr
Nugent's.  How she did laugh at the idea of firing off the old guns at
the Castle, though she very nearly cried with horror when he described
how they had burst, and how narrowly he and Julian had escaped being
killed.

Digby touched very lightly on Julian's behaviour, but he could not help
saying enough to make Kate exclaim--

"Oh, I hate him!--mean-spirited, disagreeable boy.  I hope papa will not
ask him here again.  I never liked him--I did not know why--now I guess
the reason."

Kate then told Digby that all sorts of preparations had been made for
his amusement during the holidays, and that several people, young and
old, had been invited to come to the house.

"And who do you think is among them?" she asked.  "Somebody you will be
very glad to see, and whom I never saw.  I begged that I might be the
first to tell you, because I know that it will give you so much
pleasure."

Digby guessed all sorts of people, but gave it up at last.  Perhaps he
knew how much Kate would like to tell him.

"Then I won't leave you longer in doubt," she exclaimed, eagerly.
"Arthur Haviland is coming."

"You don't say so," said Digby, clapping his hands.  "How very jolly."

"Yes, he is, though," cried Kate.  "Papa, it seems, knew Mr Haviland,
who wrote to him about your having helped to pull Arthur out of the sea,
and then they found that they were old friends, and so it was arranged
that Arthur should come here for your holidays.  Who else do you suppose
is coming?  I'll tell you, as you are not in a guessing mood to-day.
Cousin Giles.  We could not get on this Christmas without him, I'm sure.
He'll manage everything.  He'll direct all our games in the evening,
and settle about all the sports in the morning for you boys.  We were
quite anxious till we knew that he would come; now I am certain that
everything will go smoothly."

"Capital! how jolly!" exclaimed Digby.

Everything which promised to be pleasant was jolly with him.  If he had
been asked what was the most jolly thing in existence, he would have
answered--his sister Kate.

Cousin Giles and Arthur Haviland were to arrive the very next day, and
several other people who had sons with them were coming before
New-year's-day, so that the house would be full from the top to the
bottom.

Kate had another surprise for Digby.  After they had had their
confabulation, and the sinking sun warned them that it was time to
return home, she led him round the back way, under pretence of showing
him the dogs and some young pups Juno had produced.  By chance, it
appeared, as she passed the stables, she threw open the door, and there
stood John Pratt, grinning with pleasure, and holding by the head a
beautiful little pony, with a new bridle and saddle on.

"Oh Kate, how kind, how delightful, how jolly!" exclaimed Digby.  "Is
that really for me?  What a beauty.  What grand gallops I'll have on
him, and go out with you on your Tiny.  It is of all things just what I
should have liked the best, if I had been asked.  What is his name?  I
hope that it is a pretty one."

"Guess," said Kate, who, although Digby never had guessed anything in
his life, always persisted in making him try and do so.

"Oh, I can't!  Angel, or Fairy, or Beauty, or something of that sort,"
he answered.

"You burn, you burn--something very nice," cried Kate.  "Well, then, if
you give it up I'll tell you--Sweetlips.  We didn't give him the name.
It was what he was called by the person from whom papa bought him, but
as he knows it, and will follow like a dog when he is called, we did not
like to change it."

"It's a funny name for a pony, but as he has got it, we will still call
him by it, and I shall like it very much," answered Digby.  "But I say,
John Pratt, can't I have a gallop on him at once across the park?  I
won't be ten minutes away, and it would be so delightful."

"I sees no reason again it, Master Digby," replied John; "I thought as
how you'd be liking it, and so I put the new saddle on him, which the
Squire sent and made me buy for you."

"Says he, `John, our Digby will be coming to cover with me, to see the
hounds throw off, and he'll be by my side I hope when I go a coursing;
and I wish him to appear as my son should appear, John.'  This was afore
we bought the pony.  I heard of it, and I was certain that it would just
do, so the Squire told me to go and settle for it at once, and not to
stand on price, and right glad I was when I brought back Master
Sweetlips; and says the Squire, `I never saw a greater beauty in my
life, John.  He'll just do for our boy.  Now go and buy a new saddle and
bridle to fit him.  You can judge of what it ought to be just as well as
I can.'  Wasn't I proud; and so, Master Digby, here he is, all your own.
And here's a new whip I bought at the same time.  The Squire didn't
tell me to get that, but if you'll accept it from an old man, you'll
make his heart right glad."

"Oh, thank you, John--thank you, John Pratt," exclaimed Digby, his heart
so swelling with kindly and grateful feelings that the tears almost came
into his eyes.  "You run in, Kate, and say I'll be back directly, but I
must have a gallop on Sweetlips."

John had been assisting him to mount, and adjusting his stirrups all the
time.  Away trotted the young heir of Bloxholme, and truly he looked the
worthy scion of a sturdy race.  John Pratt stood outside the yard gate,
watching him with admiration, and Kate remained on the upper step of the
hall-door, gazing at him with affectionate interest, till he was lost to
sight among the trees, and the sound of his pony's hoofs died away in
the distance.

"He is a dear fellow!" she exclaimed, as at length she entered the
house, and ran up stairs to prepare for dinner.  She was to dine late
that day in honour of Digby's arrival.  She anticipated a delightful
evening.  He would have so much to tell her, so much to talk about--she
felt so proud of him.  He looked so well--so manly, she thought, and was
so much improved in every way.  Kate dressed and came down to the
drawing-room long before dinner-time, that she might have another talk
with Digby.  He had not made his appearance, so she sat down and took up
a book, thinking that he would come soon.  Miss Apsley appeared next.
Kate remarked that she thought Digby was a long time dressing for
dinner.  She ran up to his room, but he was not there.  When she came
back, expecting to find that he had in the mean time come to the
drawing-room, she felt blank at not seeing him.

"He probably is with your papa or mamma, dear," observed the governess;
"it is scarcely fair to wish to monopolise his society."

"No, I will not; of course everybody will wish to speak to him," said
Kate, and she resumed her book.

In a few minutes, however, she laid it down again.

"It is very odd that he does not come," exclaimed Kate; "I must go and
find him."

She ran again to his room.  His evening clothes and shoes were put out,
the hot-water jug was on his wash-hand stand untouched, and his
hair-brushes were in order on the dressing-table.  He evidently had not
been there to dress.  She ran to her father's room, and then to her
mother's and sisters', but he was not with them.

"Then he must be with Mrs Carter," she said to herself, and away she
ran to the housekeeper's room, but Mrs Carter had not seen him nor was
he in the nursery.

She was in hopes that he might have gone to play with Gusty before he
went to bed.  Coming back she met Alesbury, and begged him to send to
the stables to ascertain if Digby was still there.  Hoping that her
brother might have gone into the drawing-room during her absence, she
returned there.  Her father was standing before the fire, her mother and
sisters were sitting down on sofas and comfortable chairs, attempting to
snatch a few minutes light reading in that generally very idle portion
of the day.

"Kate, where is Digby?" asked her father, as she entered.

"I have been looking for him, papa, but I cannot find him," she
answered.

"He has forgotten the dinner-hour, and is still renewing his
acquaintance with the horses and dogs," said the Squire, adjusting his
cravat.

He poked the fire, turned himself about before it once or twice, and
then took up the newspaper.  While thus occupied, the footman abruptly
entered the room with a startled expression:--

"Mr Alesbury sent me out to the stable to bring in Master Digby, sir,"
he exclaimed in a hurried tone; "I went, sir, but neither John Pratt nor
any of the men could I see; and while I was there the new pony came
trotting in by himself with the reins hanging over his head."

"What is this, what is this I hear?" cried Mr Heathcote, in a state of
great agitation, running to the hall-door.

He was going out, he scarcely knew where, when Alesbury came into the
hall, and handed him his hat.

"You will put on your coat, sir; the evening is cold.  We don't know
where Master Digby is," he said in a tone which showed that he also was
much agitated.

Meantime Mrs Heathcote, who had not exactly understood the footman's
announcement, was very much alarmed.

"Has Digby been thrown? is he hurt? where is he?" she asked, hurriedly,
trying to go out into the hall, but her elder daughters and Miss Apsley
held her back, thinking that it was much better to keep her quiet till
they could ascertain what had really happened.

Kate had followed her father out of the room; she thought that she would
at once set off to find Digby; she flew up into her room to put on her
walking things.

Into the hall speedily hurried Mrs Carter, and nurse, and all the
servants.  Everybody was asking questions which no one was able to
answer.  Neither John Pratt nor any of the other men had yet come back.

Mr Heathcote, telling Thomas the footman to attend on him, seized a
thick stick, and set out in the direction he understood Digby had gone
with the pony.  He had no definite plan; he forgot that it would have
been wiser had he remained at home to have directed the search, and
heard the reports of those sent to look for his son.

Kate came down prepared for her expedition soon after her father had
gone out and disappeared in the darkness.  She wanted to follow, but she
did not know which way he had gone, and Alesbury, who thought that she
ought not to go out, would not tell her.

"I will go," she exclaimed vehemently; "I have as good eyes as anybody,
and I am as likely to see him."

Eleanor and Mary came out several times to make inquiries, and then
Alesbury and Mrs Carter were summoned into the drawing-room to state
all they knew and had heard.  All anybody could say was, that Master
Digby galloped off on his new pony, and that when John Pratt and the
other men found that he did not come back, they set off to look for him.
They must have missed his pony, because the pony came back by itself.

As soon as Kate saw that she was not watched, she opened the hall-door,
and slipping out, closed it behind her unperceived.  Then down the steps
she went, and away she ran as fast as her light feet could carry her
along the path she had seen Digby go.  She could not bear to think that
any very serious injury had happened to him, but she fancied that he had
been thrown from his pony and stunned; or, perhaps, that his ankle might
have been sprained or broken, and that he was, in consequence, unable to
walk home.

The sky had become overcast and the night was very dark.  Poor little
Kate ran on, looking anxiously on every side and calling out Digby's
name.--Snow, too, began to fall, and came down in large flakes on hat
face.  For herself she did not care, she did not feel the cold, but she
thought of dear Digby, lying on the bare ground; and, perhaps, unable to
move or to call out.  Perhaps he might have attempted to leap, and got
thrown, or his pony might have stumbled.  Still it appeared so
sure-footed and sagacious a beast, that that could scarcely have
happened.

"Oh Digby, Digby, where are you?" she every now and then cried out in a
piteous tone.

Not a ditch nor a recess in the road of any sort, escaped her
scrutinising glance.  But no Digby replied, no sign of him could she
discover.  On she went, it appeared that she had got a long way from
home.  The road, and the country seemed strange to her; she had scarcely
ever been out at night during her life; she did not like to turn back,
but she began to fear that she might be looking for him in one
direction, while he might have gone another.  She had just begun to
think this, when a snow-flake fell on something shining on the ground,
she stooped down, and she found that it was Digby's whip.  She had no
doubt about it.

"He must be near! he must be near!" she exclaimed.  "Digby, Digby,
answer, where are you? it is Kate calls you.  Digby, dear.  Brother,
brother, speak to me.  Oh do! do speak, Digby, just one word that I may
know where to look for you.  It is so dark that I cannot see you.
Digby, Digby, brother, brother, speak!" she screamed out almost
frantically.

No answer came to her repeated calls.

"He must have dropped his whip as the pony was galloping on," she
thought; "he may have gone further than this before he fell; and yet
Digby was not likely to be thrown off; no boy of his age rides better."

So again the brave little girl ran on, crying out his name as before.
Oh, what a loving affectionate sister was Kate, well worthy to be
cherished.  I fully believe that there are many such who would do the
same, if occasion required, for their brothers' sakes.  She did not feel
faint, or fatigued, or cold; she did not think of herself, all her
thoughts were for Digby, as she pictured him lying maimed on the cold
ground.  The snow fell thickly, the north wind blew keenly, she did not
feel it herself, but she thought he did.  She would have run on crying
out Digby's name till daylight, or till nature had given way and she had
sunk on the ground.  She heard footsteps coming along the road.

"Oh, can you tell me anything of my brother Digby?" she cried out, "Mr
Heathcote's son, he is lost.  He rode away and has not come back."

"Mercy on me, my sweet Miss Kate, is this you?" exclaimed a voice near
her.  It was that of John Pratt.

"Dear, oh dear, we mustn't be a losing two on you in one day.  We cannot
find him, Miss Kate; but bear up, dear.  It will break my heart, that it
will; but that's no matter.  We be a going back to get lanterns and
torches, and more people, to help in the search.  The Squire will be for
sending out all the men and boys from the village to look for him.  He
must be somewhere, and not far off, that's my opinion.  But come along
back, Miss Kate; you'll be catching your death of cold, and they'll be
wondering what has become of you next at the Hall."

John Pratt spoke so rapidly that Kate had not been able to put in a
word.  She at last told him that she had found Digby's whip not far from
where they were, and that she should know the spot by some high trees of
peculiar form, which were near it.  Many people would have picked up the
whip, and afterwards would have been unable to tell where they had found
it, but her natural sagacity at once showed her the importance of being
able to return to the exact spot.  John wanted to carry Kate, but she
would not hear of it; she consented only to hang on his arm as he
hurried along.  He tried to keep up her spirits in his somewhat uncouth,
though not rough way.

"He'll come back, Miss Kate, no fear.  It's not likely any great harm
could have happened to him.  Mayhap he has got into some cottage, and
the pony ran away.  When we gets lights we'll find him.  He'll be late
for dinner.  It can't be that any great harm can have happened to the
heir of Bloxholme; it's impossible, Miss Kate, I am sure it is."

Thus rambling on in his talk, John, with poor Kate, reached the Hall.
Everybody there was in a state of consternation.  In the first place,
Kate had been missed, and it was supposed that she had been spirited
away, as had been Digby.  Then, not far from the Hall, the Squire and
Thomas had been set upon by half a dozen men or more, whose aim seemed
to be to inflict a severe injury on them.  The Squire cried out who he
was, but they only seemed the more eager to conquer him.  Fortunately
his thick stick stood him in good stead; and Thomas being armed in a
similar manner, they had for some time kept their assailants at bay; but
the Squire was at length brought on his knees, being very severely
handled, and almost overpowered, when some of the men who had gone out
to look for Digby, came up, and his assailants fled.  He called on his
people to pursue, but, much injured as he was, he stumbled and fell
before he got far, and the ruffians escaped.  His condition was
deplorable.  He was brought back to the Hall, his mind racked with
anxiety at the disappearance of his son, and indignant at the way he
himself had been treated.  He was puzzled to ascertain whether the two
circumstances were in any way connected.  As soon as he was a little
recovered, and had been able to collect his thoughts, he sent off to the
village to demand the services of most of the male population, as John
Pratt had suspected he would do.  He also sent off in every direction to
borrow lanterns, and anything that would serve as torches.

John Pratt, on his return with poor little Kate, was heartily welcomed.
The Square was too ill to direct the search, so he desired John to make
all the arrangements he thought necessary, and to carry them out without
delay.  He wished to go out again himself, and would have done so had
not Mrs Heathcote and his daughters entreated him to remain within.

The attack on the Squire had naturally created a new cause for alarm
about Digby.  It seemed more than probable that the same ruffians who
had attacked him had got hold of his son.  Still it was not supposed
that they had killed him; the very idea was too dreadful.

Through the active measures taken by John Pratt, the inhabitants of
every cottage and house for miles round were aware of what had occurred;
but John's hopes that he might have got into some cottage were
disappointed; not a trace of him could be found.

A sleepless night was passed by all the inmates of the Hall; no one
thought even of going to bed.  Everybody sat up expecting to receive
information about Digby; but though people continued constantly to
return, no satisfactory information was brought.  The place where Kate
had found her brother's whip was carefully searched by men with torches
and lanterns, but nothing else belonging to him could be discovered in
the neighbourhood.  It became evident, at last, that they must wait for
daylight to make a more satisfactory search.

Never had the inmates of Bloxholme Hall passed a more anxious and
miserable night.  The morning brought no news of the lost one; not a
trace of him could be discovered.  The snow lay thickly on the ground,
and must completely have covered up all marks of every description, if
any had been left.

Poor Kate wandered about the house more like a ghost than a thing of
this world, watching anxiously for every person who came in, and
trembling at every footstep she heard.

Early in the day, cousin Giles--or rather Mr Woodcock, for that was his
proper designation--arrived with Arthur Haviland.  They, of course, were
very much shocked at what had occurred.  Arthur was eager to go out at
once to assist in the search.

Mr Giles Woodcock had seen a great deal of the world, and had profited
by what he had seen.  He was an acute, sensible, energetic man, full of
life and spirits, and fun too, which he was always ready to exercise in
its proper time and place.  He was more, also, than all that--he was a
devout, serious-minded Christian, and never ashamed of acknowledging the
motives of his conduct.  His arrival at the moment was most opportune.

The Squire, although up and dressed, was, both in mind and body, so
prostrate that he could not take that active superintendence of all the
arrangements which were necessary.

Cousin Giles saw the state of things, and at once set to work.  He
called everybody in, and made them give their reports, of which he made
notes.  He called for a map of the district; he inquired whether anybody
in the neighbourhood could have a motive for attacking Digby and the
Squire.  He strongly suspected that the men who had assaulted Mr
Heathcote were in some way concerned in the disappearance of his son.
How to find out who they were, and to get hold of them, was the
difficulty.  Although, however, he suspected one thing, he did not, as
is often the case, exert himself to prove his suspicions correct to the
neglect of all other points, but he directed the search to be continued
and inquiries to be made in every possible direction and way.

At last John Pratt returned after another prolonged search over the
country.

"Well, John," said cousin Giles, "this is a sad matter.  We won't waste
words, though.  Have you a suspicion who has got hold of the lad?  Had
anybody any reason for attacking the Squire?  Can you suggest any means
of finding this out?"

John thought a little.  "Old Dame Marlow may tell us something about it,
zur," he said, after scratching his head vehemently.  "She knows
zomething of everything; and if she don't know, nobody does."

Cousin Giles, having made further inquiries as to the dame's character,
was about to dispatch John to bring her to the Hall, when Mr Bowdler
arrived.

He had been absent from home, and immediately on his return, hearing
what had occurred, set off for the Hall.

Cousin Giles told him what he was about to do.

"She may know something about the matter, but not by supernatural means,
as these poor ignorant people suppose," he remarked.  "A magistrate's
warrant, in the hands of a constable, will have the best effect in
eliciting the truth from her.  The Squire can issue it; a constable is
in attendance; we will send it off at once.  A grandson of her's was
lately apprehended and transported through the Squire's means, and it is
probable that she has instigated some of her friends to this act, to
revenge herself."

In less than an hour the wretched old woman was brought up to the Hall.

Mr Bowdler first endeavoured by gentle persuasion to induce her to
confess all she knew; but she was deaf to all his exhortations.  Though
she put on a stolid, dull look, and answered only in monosyllables,
there was a cunning twinkle in her eye, which showed that she fully
understood what was said to her, and was evidently not ignorant of the
matter.

Cousin Giles next tried to draw some information out of her by threats.
She looked up several times with an inquiring look to ascertain whether
he had the power of doing what he threatened.  When brought before the
Squire, she scowled fiercely at him, and not a word could be drawn from
her.  She was sent under charge of the constable to remain in the
servants' hall.

"Give her food and treat her kindly," said the Squire; "she is an old
woman, and feels the loss of her grandson."

The old woman heard what was said, but made no remark.

"At all events I am convinced she can, if she will, give us some of the
information we require," remarked cousin Giles; "she completely betrayed
herself by her looks and gestures.  I remarked particularly her fear of
me, not knowing who I was, and her hatred of the Squire, while she had
made up her mind to turn a deaf ear to your exhortations, Mr Bowdler."

"What do you advise, then?" asked the clergyman.

"Keep her here, and work upon her fears.  Then show her that it is her
interest to tell us what we want to know," answered cousin Giles; "force
will not do.  I doubt if even the judges of the Inquisition would get
much out of her."

The whole day passed by and no clue as to what had become of Digby was
obtained.  Even John Pratt was knocked up, and was obliged to go to bed
to recover strength, that he might continue the search.

When it was known that Dame Marlow was had up to the Hall, two men came
in and stated that they had heard her threaten both the Squire and his
heir with her vengeance, though they supposed that she intended to carry
it out by means of her incantations.  Their evidence, however, was
sufficient to enable the Squire to detain her at the Hall.  A bed was
made up for her in a little room where people, who came to speak to him
on magisterial business, were put till their turn arrived to see him.
She much wanted to be left alone.

"No, no, old lady," answered the constable, laughing; "you'd be flying
up the chimney, or burning the house down, or playing some prank or
other.  That would never do."

Arthur Haviland felt very sorry.  He was very anxious to be doing
something, but did not know what to do.  Kate very naturally took him
into her confidence.

"Oh, I wish that I was a boy," she exclaimed.  "I would roam the country
round till I found Digby, or cross the seas, and search for him through
every land, if I thought he had been carried there.  But they will not
let me go.  Mamma says I must not, and Miss Apsley made me promise to
obey, and so I must submit; but it is very cruel."

"Fortunately I am a boy, and I will go," cried Arthur, enthusiastically.
"He saved my life, and I am sure that my father would not disapprove of
my going."

"Thank you, Arthur, thank you," she answered.  "I am sure that he is
alive.  I should have felt very differently had he been dead.  I could
not have borne that thought.  You will find him; I feel that you must
find him, remember that.  Poor mamma and my sisters think that he has
been killed by those dreadful men who attacked papa."

This sad event made Arthur at once feel himself at home, and one of the
family.  He was prompt in all he did.  He went at once to Mr Woodcock,
and asked him to obtain a man to accompany him, saying that he would set
off the next morning at daybreak, and prosecute his inquiries through
the neighbouring districts.

"Perhaps I may find out something which has escaped the notice of the
people here," he remarked.

"I like your zeal and spirit, and will gladly aid your plan," answered
cousin Giles.

Arthur was ready at the hour he had arranged; and he found a lad of
about eighteen prepared to be his companion.  Adam Hodder seemed a very
intelligent fellow; and Arthur felt that he would rather have him than
an older person.

Both Arthur and his companion were warmly clad and well prepared to
brave the cold.  Arthur had put on his roughest clothing, but still he
looked the gentleman.  They carried some provisions in a bag that they
might not have to go out of their way to obtain them: but they had taken
a good breakfast in the dark, that no time might be lost of the short
day of that season.  The air smelt pure and fresh as they stepped out in
the grey light of the early dawn; and as they walked on briskly Arthur
found his spirits rising, and he felt sure that he should again see his
friend.

"Well, Adam Hodder, what do you think can have become of Master
Heathcote?" he asked.

"That's more than I can say, sir," answered Adam.  "But I don't think
with some of the people about here, that old Dame Marlow has spirited
him away.  It's more than likely that some of her people may have got
hold of him, and will either carry him away out of the country, or make
the Squire pay pretty largely before they give him back."

This was a new idea to Arthur, and it served to help him in his
inquiries.  He told Adam also to make his own observations, and to gain
certain information at every cottage they visited.  He learned that some
men in the dress of seamen had been seen in the parish.  They had not
spoken to any one, and no one knew where they were going.  Then, again,
these were the men probably who had attacked the Squire, and they might
possibly have had nothing to do with Digby's disappearance.  Still, from
their being dressed as seamen, Arthur resolved to prosecute his
inquiries towards the coast.  He accordingly sent a messenger back to
the Hall to say what he had heard, and what he proposed doing.  He hoped
to get as far as Osberton that night.  He had gone some way when he
heard some horses' hoofs clattering along the hard road.  He looked
round, and, as the riders approached, he saw that it was John Pratt and
another man.

"I've come after you, sir, to tell you that we've got hold of some
information that may lead us on the right scent," said John, jumping
from his horse.  "I am to go along with you, sir.  If you like to ride
there's a horse, if not, I'll send him back."

"I infinitely prefer walking such weather as this," answered Arthur.
"Send the horse back, and now tell me the news."

"Why, sir, first, Mr Woodcock sent off to London for what they call a
detective, a sort of ferrety-like fellow, who pokes his head in
everywhere, and finds out everything.  When Dame Marlow heard of it she
was in a great taking, and asked what reward she would have if she tried
to find out where the young Squire is?

"`I'll tell ye what, Dame,' says Mr Woodcock to her, `if he isn't soon
found, you'll have very much the contrary to a reward, let me tell you.
When the detective comes down, you'll find that tricks like these can't
be played, and you go unpunished.  However, I'll tell you what, Dame, we
don't want to be hard upon you, and if you help in any way to find the
young master, depend on it the Squire will be liberal to you, and you'll
be a richer woman than you have been for many a day.'

"She made no answer, but sat smoking a pipe they had given her over the
fire, for a long time; she smoked and smoked away.  At last, says she,
`I want to speak to that strange gentleman.  He can see better with half
an eye than all you people can with two; and I have a respect for him.'

"When Mr Woodcock went to her, says she--

"`I may put you in the way of finding the young Squire, but send at
once; there's no time to be lost.  Look out an honest man, if you can
find such.  It won't do to be sending a beak, remember that.  Send a lad
with him; he may want somebody to help him.'

"Mr Woodcock at once thought of me, as he knows that no one loves the
young Squire better; and so he sent for me, and told the old dame that I
was the man he would send, and that he was sure you, Master Haviland,
would wish to go also.  She seemed well satisfied at this, and then went
on to tell me what to do.

"`A mile to the west of Osberton, in Luccombe Cove, there's a
fisherman's cottage, close down to the beach,' said she; `there's no
other near.  You'll find an old man there.  Ask for Jem the Spotsman.
Say that I sent you to him.  Tell him that if he shows you where the
young Squire is you'll give him five golden guineas.  He'll not do it
for less.  If he says he knows nothing about the matter, tell him that
the beaks will be on him, and that he'd better do as I bid him.  If you
can get another fearless man to go with you it may be better.  Jem will
lead you to a strange place, where you'll meet strange people.  Speak
them fair; you'll not do much by force.  Tell them that you've plenty of
friends at your back, who know where you are, and will come and look for
you if you don't soon return to them.  I tell you this because I don't
want any more mischief to come out of the matter.  Again I say, you
mustn't lose time.  It's just possible that, even now, you may be too
late, and that the lad is on his way to far distant lands.  That's no
fault of mine, remember.  Those who have got him may be thinking of
taking him, or they may not.  It is not very likely that they will be
wishing to send him back after they have shown him their hiding-place,
and let him into other of their secrets.'

"I didn't stop to hear more, but I just got a couple of brace of
pistols, and came away at once to overtake you.  We might have ridden
all the way into Osberton, but Mr Woodcock cautioned me to go in
quietly, lest the smugglers or the people, whoever they are, who have
got Master Digby, should hear of our coming, and suspecting treachery,
should carry him off elsewhere."

"I am rejoiced to hear what you tell me," exclaimed Arthur, when John
Pratt had finished his account.  It is impossible, by the by, to do
justice to the quaint and thoroughly provincial way in which he
expressed himself; so that Arthur at times could scarcely understand
him.  "There can be but little doubt, from what you tell me, that he is
alive, and that we are in a fair way of recovering him.  We must
proceed, I see, with caution and courage; and as we may employ another
man, I know one who will gladly aid us.  He is a friend, too, of
Digby's--Toby Tubb is his name.  If we want help, he can help us better
than anybody."

"He may be a friend of Master Digby's, and I hope he has many friends,
but he can't be a greater, nor one who would give every day he has to
live for him," exclaimed John, with a very natural burst of feeling.

They were walking on all this time rapidly towards Osberton.  On
arriving there, they first went to Mr Nugent's house.  He had been made
aware of what had occurred, and had already consulted with Toby Tubb on
the subject.  While Arthur took some tea, and rested, he sent off for
Toby.

When Toby, who had been thinking the matter over, as he said, arrived,
and was told Arthur's errand, he slapped his thigh, and exclaimed, "I
thought it was so.  I know the gang; a set of daring ruffians as ever
lived.  Poor Master Digby; it was hard for him to fall into their power.
But we will get him out again as soon as we can, if they haven't
spirited him away."  Toby had come prepared for an expedition.  He
begged Mr Nugent to lend him a brace of pistols.  Arthur and John Pratt
were already armed.  Adam Hodder had gone back with the horses.  Arthur,
with his two attendants, therefore, John and Toby, immediately set forth
on their undertaking.  As Toby Tubb knew every inch of the way, they
soon reached the high ground above Luccombe Cove.

"There's the cottage," he observed, pointing to a hut low down on the
beach.  "I know Jem the Spotsman well--a terrible old ruffian he is.  Do
you, Master Haviland and John Pratt, go in and give him your message.
If he refuses to help you, call me, and I'll see what I can do."

Arthur, followed by John Pratt, stepped boldly in.  The expedition,
independent of the object, had peculiar charms for him; there was so
much romance and excitement in it.  He did not stop to knock, but flung
open the door of the hut, and unhesitatingly entered.  An old man, in a
blue Guernsey frock, sat bending over a drift-wood fire, which
spluttered and smoked as he kept piling on the yet damp chips.  He
looked round at the noise, and, seeing strangers, rose with considerable
activity to his feet.  He scowled at them beneath his white shaggy
eyebrows.

Arthur had begged that he might be the spokesman; he felt fully up to
the emergency.  At an early age, indeed, he had learned much to rely on
himself.  "Jem the Spotsman, I have a message for you," he began.

"Who told you that was my name?" asked the old man, with a growl.

"Never mind, if it is your name," said Arthur.  "We've come to do you
good, and show you how to gain five golden guineas."

"Time was when I could gain fifty without much trouble," interrupted the
old man.

"You cannot now, though; and five guineas is a good sum," observed
Arthur.  "You'll get that, but not more.  Dame Marlow bids me tell you
that the beaks will be on you; that you know where the young Squire of
Bloxholme is hid away, and that if you would keep your neck out of a
noose, you will show us where he is to be found."

The old man sat down and began to rake the ashes of the fire with a
stick.  He did not ask his visitors to take seats, though, but he kept
watching them warily out of the corners of his eyes.  "Five golden
guineas, five golden guineas," he kept muttering.  "Who are you who make
the promise?"

"A friend of Mr Heathcote's," answered Arthur.  "It will be faithfully
kept with you, depend on that."

"Who's that man with you?"

Arthur told him.

"Ay, he looks as if he had the hay-seed in his hair," observed old Jem.
"I'd rather trust a seaman."

"If I bring a seaman, one, perhaps, whom you know, will you trust him?"
asked Arthur.

"Yes," answered the old man, after a little thought.

Arthur made a sign to John Pratt to go and fetch Toby; but he seemed
unwilling to leave Arthur alone.

"Go, go.  What have I to fear?" said Arthur, firmly.

The old man looked up at him.  "Some who have been here have been
afraid, though," he muttered.  "Take a seat, young gentleman.  I like
your spirit."

Arthur thanked him, and sat down on a three-legged stool, near a table,
which, from its appearance, he knew had formed part of the furniture of
the cabin of a ship, probably wrecked on the coast.  Every portion of
the hut, indeed, was evidently composed of wreck-wood--the roof, the
sides, and floor.

John Pratt soon returned with Toby.

"Ho, ho, old shipmate," said Toby, as he entered, "so you won't believe
what the young gentleman promises; but you'll believe me.  Five golden
guineas or a rope's-end, remember that."

"The guineas," answered old Jem, who at once recognised Toby as an
acquaintance.  "But I was placed here to receive a message; when they
come who will they give it to?"

"Never you mind that; we'll be be back in time, I dare say," answered
Toby.

"Then come along," said the old man, whose weak mind was evidently
powerfully influenced by the prospect of receiving the five golden
guineas to the exclusion of every other consideration.  "It will be
rough work for the young gentleman, but he looks as if he wouldn't fear
it."

Getting up, and walking with wonderfully firm steps, the old man led the
way to a little inlet of the sea, into which a stream fell.  It was
large enough to allow four or five boats to float in it at once.  One
only was seen, and she was drawn up on the beach.  A pair of oars and a
rudder, and a mast and sails were in her.  The old man called to Toby to
help him launch her.

"What, be'es we going by the sea?" asked John Pratt, who had a thorough
dread of the ocean.

"It's better than going by the land, seeing that we could not get there
at all, if I guess the place we are bound for," observed Toby.  "Now
step in, young gentleman--step in, master."

"Can you steer?" old Jem asked of Arthur.

"Yes, I am well accustomed to it," he answered.

"Then take the helm, and do as I bid you," said the old man, taking the
after oar.

Toby took the other, and they pulled away from the land.  The cove was
sheltered by a high reef of rocks, so the water was perfectly smooth--so
smooth, that a thin coating of ice had been formed at the margin,
through which the boat easily forced her way.  The stars shone brightly
forth from the dark sky, and enabled Arthur to discern the whole outline
of the wild, and fantastically-shaped cliffs, which formed the coast, as
they towered high above his head on the right.  The boat had gone out to
clear a reef of rocks which ran out from the shore, and having got to
the end of it, old Jem told Arthur to port his helm, and thus doubling
it, he steered close in under the cliffs.  In many places there was no
beach, the water coming close up to their bases; and so close was the
boat that frequently the oars touched their rugged fronts.  Often, too,
the sea-fowl, roosting low down on ledges of rocks, were disturbed from
their perches, and flew up with loud screams, circling round and round
their heads, till they had passed their resting-places.

John Pratt looked about him with considerable awe, if not dread; all was
strange and new to him.

Arthur had witnessed similar scenes.  The boat made but slow progress,
for she was kept all the way in and out, through all the little bays,
and bends, and inlets of the shore.  Many thoughts passed through
Arthur's mind during the long pull.  He hoped to recover his friend, and
to enjoy the delight of restoring him to his family.  At the same time,
he could not help recollecting what Dame Marlow had said to John Pratt,
and also the remarks of old Jem, and often he feared that they might
arrive too late at the cavern where they expected to find him; that he
might already be carried off to the distant lands of which the old woman
spoke.  Such things had occurred before, and might occur again; yet he
was puzzled to know what motives the smugglers could have in such a mode
of proceeding.  He thought and thought over the matter without coming to
any satisfactory conclusion.  No one spoke above a whisper.

"We might be seen or heard by some passing coastguard man," observed old
Jem.

Now a lofty, dark, and beetling headland was seen before them.

"It's on t'other side of St. Niven's Head.  We'll have to go round it,"
said old Jem.

Arthur did not object to the long pull, but he was eager to discover
Digby, and to relieve him from all the anxiety he must be feeling.

On pulling out towards the end of the promontory, a swell was felt
which, as it rolled in, broke on the cliffs, and compelled them to keep
at a somewhat greater distance.  On they went.  As Arthur looked up it
appeared as if the cliffs rose to a prodigious height above his head,
almost reaching the sky.  In several places, indeed, they appeared to be
completely overhanging the water; and he could scarcely divest himself
of the feeling that they were about to fall down and overwhelm the boat.
The boat now rose and fell more rapidly to the heaving wave, and
nothing but John Pratt's earnest desire to find his young master,
prevented him from bitterly repenting that he had trusted himself on the
treacherous ocean.

"Starboard your helm!" suddenly exclaimed Jem, with an energy which he
did not seem capable of exerting.

A loud splashing, washing sound, was heard, and Arthur saw the sea
breaking wildly over a rock, on which, in another instant, the boat
would have struck.  The danger passed, they pulled on till they rounded
the headland.  Wilder than ever was the scene.  On one side the lofty
cliffs, with their steep front, on which there appeared scarcely a ledge
on which a sea-fowl might set its foot; while on the other was the broad
boundless expanse of ocean.  Arthur thought what would have been their
fate if the boat had struck on the rock, and sunk.

"The cave where we may find him is not many hundred fathoms off," said
old Jem.

Arthur's heart beat eagerly at the information; and John Pratt forgot
all his fears.

"Remember, you have to deal with men who care not for law of any sort.
You must speak them fair, or you will gain nothing," said the old man.
"Now steer in for that white spot.  You'll find some steps and a path
cut in the face of the rock.  Take care you don't slip, or you'll chance
to break your neck.  Enter the cave as boldly as you entered my nephew's
cottage; say your say, and wait for the answer.  If they threaten you,
call for me.  I want my five golden guineas."

Arthur sprang out of the boat, followed by Toby and John Pratt.

Toby whispered that he had no idea of the place they were going to.

Arthur carefully groped his way up the cliff, but had great difficulty
in finding the path.  He could not help allowing it to occur to him how
completely they were in the power of the ruffians they had come to seek.
A few stones rolled down would have precipitated them all into the sea.
Still the idea was far from making him repent that he had come on the
expedition.  His chief thought and earnest wish was to rescue Digby.

Toby Tubb puffed up after him, but John Pratt, once on dry land, was
himself again, and came along with easy strides.  Lichens and
salt-loving plants grew on the face of the cliff, and served Arthur as
handles to assist him to mount, though he trusted chiefly to his feet
and the ledges and excrescences in the rock.  Up he went--on, on, on.
He thought that he must have got into the wrong path; not a sight of a
cave appeared.  Then he thought that perhaps old Jem had played them a
trick, and having placed them on the wild rock had pulled away.  The old
man had charged him not to speak, so he was afraid of stopping and
consulting with Toby and John Pratt.  He was beginning to despair, when
suddenly he found that he had reached a broad ledge.  The party
collected on it.  A dark spot on the face of the cliff was before them;
that was evidently the entrance to the cavern.  He drew his breath
faster; who would not on such an occasion?  Then he and his two
attendants walked rapidly forward, till they found themselves under the
arched roof of the cave.  There was no light, or signs of any one being
there.  Toby had brought a lantern; he lighted it.  As he did so, he
whispered to Arthur--

"There may be pitfalls in the way; it's as well not to tumble into
them."

The cave did not run directly into the cliff, but turned sharply round
to the left.  Toby holding up his lantern, they boldly advanced.  Still
no voices were heard.

"The fellows are asleep," whispered Toby.

They soon reached a narrower part of the cave, with a screen of rough
planks running across it.  At one end of the screen was a low door;
Arthur pushed it open, and entered, fully believing that, in another
instant, he should grasp Digby's hand.  Arthur saw before him a large
vaulted cavern.  In the centre was a fire, over which an old man and a
boy were sitting toasting some slices of fish at the points of their
knives.  So eager were they in their occupation that they did not
perceive his approach.  Could the boy be Digby?  The idiotic expression
of wonder and fear with which the lad looked up at him showed him that
he was not.  The few inarticulate words uttered by the lad made the man
turn round, when, starting up, he drew a pistol, and presented it at
Arthur.

"We come in peace, and have no wish to hurt you," said Arthur.  "Tell me
where is Squire Heathcote's son.  We come to seek him."

While the man stood irresolute, without replying, Arthur's eye fell on
some clothes on the top of a cask.  He took them up: there was a cap,
and jacket, and waistcoat, such as Digby was accustomed to wear.  He had
little doubt that they were Digby's.  His heart sunk within him.

"Where is Squire Heathcote's son?" he repeated.

The man stretched out his hand.  "They have carried him off; he is far
down Channel by this time."

All Arthur's worst apprehensions were realised; he was too late to save
his friend.



CHAPTER NINE.

DIGBY'S NEW PONY--ATTACKED BY SMUGGLERS--THE OUTLAWS' CAVERN--A VOYAGE--
THE GALE--AN ILL WIND THAT BLOWS NO ONE GOOD--DIGBY SHIPWRECKED.

"You beautiful little Sweetlips, many a jolly ride I'll have on you,"
cried the young Squire of Bloxholme Hall, as he patted his pony's neck
while he cantered along over the ground, just crisping with the newly
set in frost.  He had intended to go only as far as the park gates, but
the air was so refreshing, and the feeling of finding himself once more
in the saddle was so exhilarating that, seeing the gate open, he could
not help dashing through it, and giving his pony the rein and a cut with
his whip, galloping along a smooth piece of turf which ran for some
distance by the side of the road.  "I shall be back quite time enough to
dress for dinner," he thought to himself, "and Sweetlips likes the fun
as much as I do."  He galloped on a little longer.  "Oh, this is
delightful!  We must go a short distance further, Sweetlips," he
exclaimed.  "We will turn back, then, and you shall have a capital feed.
I'll tell John Pratt to give it you.  Oh, how kind is papa.  You are a
first-rate pony, indeed you are, old fellow."  On he went; the pony
certainly seeming to enjoy the gallop as much as his young master.  "Now
we really must go back, Sweetlips," cried Digby, pulling in his rein,
for the gloom of evening was rapidly increasing.  He did not perceive
that several men were coming quickly along the road close to him.  "Now
for Bloxholme, at your best speed, my pony, he shouted in his glee."

"Hillo! stop, master!" cried one of the men, springing forward and
seizing his rein.  "Who are you?"

"Let go my bridle," answered Digby, trying to free himself.  "I am Mr
Heathcote's son, if you wish to know."

"Ho, ho! are you, indeed, youngster?" said one of the men.  "We are in
luck, then.  I say, though, you are not going home just now.  Come along
with us."

"Along with you!  Indeed I will not," answered Digby, with very natural
indignation.

"Ho, ho, my cock of the woods, don't crow so loudly, or we may have to
squeeze your windpipe," exclaimed another of the ruffians coming up.

All Digby's spirit was raised.  He struck out right and left with his
whip, and endeavoured to force his pony out from among them.  In vain
were his efforts.  He, however, struck the ruffian who held the reins so
severe a blow across the eyes that the man let them go, and he might
have escaped, had not, at the same moment, two other fellows seized him
by the collar of his jacket, and he was dragged to the ground.  The
pony, finding his head free, sprang forward, and before either of the
men could catch him, had galloped far beyond their reach, though one of
the most active ran on in the hope of catching it.  Digby in the
scuffle, while bravely trying to escape, let go his whip, which fell to
the ground unperceived by his captors.  Few other words were spoken.
They dragged him rapidly along the road they had come, which led past
Dame Marlow's cottage.  One of them threatened to blow out his brains if
he made the slightest noise, and suspecting that they might put their
threat into execution, he refrained from crying out.  Still, as he went
along, he was considering all the time how he could effect his escape.
He counted eight or ten men in the party who had got hold of him.  When
they arrived at Mile-End gravel-pits, they turned off and took the path
to Dame Marlow's cottage.  They seemed to be expected there.  When they
entered, the old woman was leaning over the fire, stirring a large
caldron boiling on it.  As the bright light fell on her thin, sharp
features, and her long, bony arm, almost bare, was stretched out
grasping the ladle, with her red cloak thrown over one shoulder, her
long, straggling hair, and her fantastic dress, she looked, indeed, like
one of the witches Digby had read of, and he could not help feeling that
the outrage of which he was the victim, was a just retribution for the
trick he had once played here--a retribution probably brought about by
her machinations.

"We've caught the young bird sooner than we expected, Dame," said one of
the men.  "But, we've more work on hand to-night.  We'll leave him with
you and Dick Owlett till we come back.  Take care that he doesn't fly
off."

Master Dick Owlett, who had hitherto kept in the background, now made
his appearance.  He had grown so much stouter and bigger since Digby saw
him last at Osberton, that dressed as he was, in a rough seaman's
costume, he could scarcely have recognised him.

Digby knew that he had been sent off to sea, but he learned, from his
conversation with the old woman, that he had deserted and found his way
back to his old haunts.

One of the men placed a bench near the fire.  "Sit down there,
youngster," he said.  "Mind you don't stir till we come back.  Dick,
keep an eye on him."

Dick Owlett scowled at Digby, and drawing a pistol from his coat-pocket,
sat himself down at the other end of the bench, eyeing him as a
bull-terrier does his master's bundle he has been placed to watch.  The
rest of the men then hurried out, leaving only old Marlow, who lay
groaning on a bed at the further end of the cottage, the Dame, and
Owlett watching Digby.

When the men were gone, the Dame came and placed herself before Digby,
eyeing him with a very sinister glance.  "So, young Squire," she hissed
out, "the old Squire will learn that the poor can love their children as
much as the rich.  He sent my boy across the sea with the help of the
law, and never will he come back to gladden his old grandmother's eyes;
and now I'm going to send his son far away, and may be he'll never come
back to brighten Bloxholme Hall with his smiles and his laughter.
Revenge is sweet, and there are many to-night who find it so, and there
are some who will find it bitter, too."

Digby heard these words, but scarcely comprehended their full meaning,
or was aware of the very terrible misfortune threatening him.  He sat
still for some time, while the old woman's words were ringing in his
ears.  "I don't much fear her threats, and I ought to be ashamed of
myself in allowing the old woman, and that young rascal, not so many
years older than I am, to keep me a prisoner," he thought.  "I'll break
away from them."  He sprung up to rush to the door, but before he had
moved further, the click of the pistol-lock struck his ear.

"I'll fire," exclaimed Owlett, with a dreadful oath.  "I'm not going to
be informed against, and sent off to prison for this night's work."

"Young Squire, he'll kill thee," cried the old woman, placing her long,
skinny hands on his shoulder, and forcing him down to his seat with a
strength he could not resist.

He was too indignant to expostulate, but he eyed Dick Owlett, and
considered whether he could compete with him in a tussle, and wrest the
pistol from his hands.  Then he recollected that if he made the attempt,
he should have the old woman attacking him in the rear with her sharp,
talon-like fingers.  Whenever she moved, he felt that the Dame's keen
eye was upon him.  Even while preparing the supper for her guests, and
stirring the caldron, her glance was constantly turned towards him.
Then, also, Owlett had his finger on the lock, and the muzzle of the
pistol pointed at his breast.  A full-grown man might have felt very
uncomfortable under such circumstances, so, considering that Owlett
might possibly put his threat into execution, much against his will he
sat still.

A long time seemed to pass, and then, at length, the band of ruffians
came back.  From their appearance and conversation Digby supposed them
to be smugglers.  They seemed highly delighted with their performances
that evening; and having hurriedly discussed their supper, they declared
that they must be off without further delay.

Digby now thought it was time to speak out.

"What is it you want with me?" he asked.  "I wish to return home."

"That's what you will be crying out for many a day, youngster," answered
one of the men.  "No, no, you'll go along with us."

In vain Digby expostulated, and threatened, and at last entreated his
captors to let him return home.  They only laughed and sneered at him.
Had he himself only been the sufferer, he felt that he would not have
condescended to use any arguments but threats with such ruffians; but he
knew the misery his disappearance would cause his parents and sisters.

"Poor dear little Kate; how she will cry about me," he said to himself;
and he thought again and again how he could get away.

The men buttoned up their coats, slipped a rough pea-jacket over his
shoulders, and put a tarpaulin hat on his head, which they tied down so
that he could not throw it off.

"Gag him," said one of them; and he found a handkerchief passed tightly
over his mouth, effectually preventing him from crying out.  Two of them
then took him by the arms between them, and, nodding to Dame Marlow,
went out.  She merely cast one very unpleasant glance at him, but said
nothing.  The whole party followed, and walked along the road at a rapid
rate, every now and then looking behind them as if they expected to be
pursued.  In about twenty minutes they reached a low public-house, well
known as the resort of smugglers and other bad characters.  Two carts
were standing before the door; jumping into them, without entering the
house, they drove on at a rapid rate.  Digby looked up at the sky, which
was beautifully clear.  Mr Nugent constantly gave his pupils lessons in
practical astronomy, and Digby was therefore able to discover that they
were driving towards the sea.  They kept, however, considerably to the
west of Osberton.  At last they reached the edge of a cliff; before him
lay spread out the ocean, now sleeping in calm grandeur.  The men
roughly pulled him out of the cart, and two of them taking him as
before, between them, made him descend a narrow zig-zag path down the
face of the cliff.  Down, down they went, till they reached a small
curving beach, the high cliffs towering above it, and without any
communication with the other part of the shore.  A boat lay there; she
was quickly launched, and the men, getting in, took Digby with them.

He had been full well sure that search would be made for him, but he saw
that the difficulty of discovering him would be much increased by this
proceeding of the smugglers.  He had been unable to drop anything on the
road by which he could be traced; and now embarked, and, as he thought,
about to be carried out of the country, he was brought to the verge of
despair.

The smugglers, however, had not rowed far before they once more turned
the boat's head towards the land; and he soon found that they were at
the foot of a lofty cliff.

"You may sing out now, youngster, as loudly as you like; no One will
hear you whom we fear," said one of the men, undoing the handkerchief
secured round his mouth.

Up the cliff the whole party climbed till they reached a cave in the
face of the rock.  Digby had not supposed so curious a place existed in
that part of the country.  The entrance was of no great size, but when
they had gone a little way, he saw that it branched off into several
broad and lofty galleries.  Into one of them the smugglers turned, when
a wooden partition appeared before them, and going through a small door,
he found that they were in what looked like a large hall, lighted with
lamps hung from the roof.  A fire burnt in the centre with pots and
caldrons cooking over it, and near it were several long tables and
benches, sufficient to accommodate a considerable number of persons.
The glare of the fire fell on numerous packages, and bales, and casks,
piled up round the walls of the cave, while several ship's bunks and
rough-looking bedsteads were arranged at the further end of the hall.

Several persons already occupied the place.  Two of them were women, so
Digby judged by their dress, though they were the roughest specimens of
the female sex he had ever seen; the rest were men and boys.  They all
evinced great curiosity about him, and made many inquiries as to how he
had been taken, and what was to be done with him.  Digby did not hear
the answers made to these questions, so that he was left in the dark as
to the fate intended for him.  The party were soon seated at the tables,
and fish, flesh, and fowl, in ample quantities, were placed before them.
Digby was invited to join them in somewhat a rough manner, but with no
unkind intention, apparently.  At first he thought that he ought to
refuse, but he had grown very hungry, and he felt that it would be
foolish not to make himself as comfortable as he could.  Room was made
for him near the fire, and one of the women brought him a plateful of
the most delicate of the morsels of food which she could pick out.

"Poor little chap, it's hard for you to be taken away from home just
now; but cheer up, may be they'll let you go again, by and by."

"Hillo, Bet! what are you talking to the child for?" exclaimed a man,
whom Digby had for some time suspected to be the captain of the band.

The men, however, addressed him in the same familiar way that they spoke
to each other, and called him "Nat Charnick."  Though roughly dressed,
his costume was neater than that of the other men; he spoke more
correctly also; in appearance there was, perhaps, less of the ruffian
about him.  He was of moderate height, strongly built, and of a fairish
complexion, but the expression of his countenance showed that, in
essential points, he was in no way superior to the men who surrounded
him.  The ruffian crew appeared, from some reason or other, to be
accustomed to look up to him, and a word from his lips speedily brought
the most unruly to order.  Food, though somewhat coarsely dressed, there
was in abundance, and spirits of various sorts were passed round and
drunk, as if they had been so much water.  When, however, the carouse
appeared to be growing fast and furious, Nat Charnick called his crew to
order, and reminded them that they had work to do that night.  In an
instant the men put aside their glasses, and rising from their seats,
each one loaded himself with one of the casks, or bales, I have
mentioned, and went out of the tavern.  Digby sat still, wondering what
was going to be done.  The men, however, quickly returned and took up
more bales or casks.  Everybody, even the boys and women, were employed
in the work.  Like ants they kept going continually backwards and
forwards, till the heaps of goods sensibly diminished.

"Oh, oh!" said Digby to himself, "here is a possibility of my effecting
my escape, and I will carry out a burden with the rest, and as soon as I
have put it down, I will try and make off, or hide myself somewhere
outside the cavern."

Accordingly he jumped from his seat, and putting a bale of silk on his
shoulders, he followed Dick Owlett and some other lads out of the cave,
as he fancied, unobserved by any one.  How delighted he felt at getting
into the open air, keen and cold as it was.

"In a few minutes I shall be free," he thought; "if I once get to the
top of the cliff won't I run on?  I doubt if even the fastest among the
smugglers would overtake me."

On he went with his burden, which was a pretty heavy one.  They soon
reached a narrow ledge on the face of a perpendicular cliff.  Ropes were
hanging over it, and the smugglers securing their bales and casks to
them, away they were hoisted rapidly out of sight; but bitter was
Digby's disappointment when he found that there was not a spot near
where he could by possibility conceal himself.

"Well done, youngster," said the voice of Captain Charnick; "I like to
see a lad willing to make himself useful; you'll soon become like one of
us, and spend a much more happy and free life than you would at school
or at the old Hall there."

Digby found himself caught in a trap, and that the smugglers might not
suspect the design he had entertained, he was compelled to run backwards
and forwards with the goods, as they were doing, till the cave was
completely empty.  The exercise had, however, the effect of making him
so thoroughly tired, that he was glad to throw himself on a bed pointed
out to him; and in a minute he was fast asleep.  When he awoke the
smugglers were astir, and the women were bending over the fire, busy in
preparing breakfast.  He was invited, as before, to partake of it.

"They cannot intend to do me much harm, or they would not feed me so
well," he said to himself; and he very wisely resolved to keep up his
spirits, and to make himself as much at home as possible.  He thanked
the women in a cheerful voice for their kindness, and laughed and
chatted in a perfectly natural and free way with every body round him.
Dick Owlett looked surprised and rather suspiciously at him.

"You are a merry as well as active youngster, I see," said Captain
Charnick, coming up to him; "keep alive, and we will give you employment
before long."

"Thank you," answered Digby, "I am much obliged to you for the good
supper and breakfast you have given me, and if you will pay me a visit
at Bloxholme Hall, I shall be very happy to give you as plentiful ones
in return."

The smugglers laughed heartily at the remark.

"It's a doubt whether you'd like to see us at Bloxholme Hall, in the way
we should go there," remarked one of them; "howsomdever, we are not
likely to put you to the trial."

Breakfast over, most of the men left the cave; some of the remainder
hauled out ropes and sails, and began working away busily on them, while
others employed themselves in overhauling sea-chests, casks, and sacks
of provisions, or in cleaning and repairing arms.  It was very evident
that the smugglers did not spend an idle life in the cavern; indeed,
from what Digby had hitherto had an opportunity of remarking, he could
not help thinking that the same industry employed in any of the lawful
callings of life, would have procured them far more wealth and comfort
than they could in any way at present enjoy.

Thus the day passed on.  Digby, however, found that he was still a
prisoner, for whenever he went towards the entrance of the cavern, Dick
Owlett jumped up and made a very significant sign to him to go back
again, and as Dick strengthened his argument with a loaded pistol in his
hand, Digby saw that it would be wise to submit.

It was late in the afternoon when the greater number of the band
hurriedly entered the cavern.  They evidently brought some information,
which was not of a pleasant character; the rest sprung quickly to their
feet--the sails were rolled up--the rigging was put in a form to be
easily carried; sea-chests, and cases, and baskets, were brought out and
placed near the entrance ready to be moved; indeed, as far as Digby
could judge, the smugglers were preparing to desert the place
altogether.  The Captain was still absent.  Soon after these
preparations were concluded, he made his appearance.  Whatever had been
the information previously received, he corroborated it.

"Be smart, my lads," he exclaimed; "the lugger is ready, and the revenue
people are on the wrong scent.  We've no time to lose, or they may be
back on us."

At these words the men loaded themselves with the various articles which
they had got ready to move, and one after the other left the cavern.

Digby hoped that he was to be allowed to remain, and to find his way
home as best he could after the smugglers had gone; but again he was
doomed to disappointment.

"Come, youngster, you are going with us," said Captain Charnick, who had
remained behind to see that nothing was left which he required.

Digby began to expostulate.

"Why, just now you were, I thought, all ready to join us," exclaimed the
Captain, with a laugh.  "Come along, though.  I want you, that's
enough."

Saying this, he took Digby by the arm in no very gentle way, and led him
out of the cavern and down the face of the cliff.  At the foot of it, so
close in that she looked as if she must be touching the shore, lay a
large lugger.  The cliffs there formed a bay, in which she lay, and from
her position, no one, except those who stood near the mouth of the
cavern, could by any possibility see what was going forward on her deck.

Digby found, on reaching the foot of the cliff, that nearly all the
things just carried from the cavern had been conveyed on board her.  At
last everything was embarked.  Even now Digby hoped that he might be
allowed to get away.

"Come, my lad, wish good-bye to old England," said the Captain, taking
him by the arm, and lifting him into the boat.  In another minute he was
on board the lugger; the boats were hoisted in, the anchor was got up,
and sail being made, with a fair and strong breeze she stood down
channel.

Digby burst into tears; it was long since he had cried so bitterly.  No
one seemed to pity him; but they allowed him to grieve on by himself.
The smugglers themselves, however, it was evident, were not free from
anxiety.  A bright look-out was kept in every direction, and more than
once the lugger's course was altered to avoid a strange sail.  The
weather, too, had changed for the worse, and had become very
threatening.  To increase their difficulties, a thick mist and driving
rain came on, so that they could often see but a short distance beyond
the vessel.  Still they ran on under all sail.  The evening of a short
winter's day was drawing on, when suddenly, the mist clearing off, a
large cutter was seen right ahead, standing across their course.

"Down with the helm!  Haul aft the sheets!" cried the Captain; and the
lugger was brought on a wind.  The movement, however, did not escape
those on board the cutter, for she immediately went about, and stood
after the smuggler.

That she was a revenue vessel Digby had no doubt; and now he hoped that
his emancipation was near.  But the lugger proved herself to be a very
fast craft; and though the cutter carried all the canvass she could
bear, she did not appear in the slightest degree to be overhauling them.

"We are not in her clutches just yet, my lad," said Captain Charnick, as
he saw Digby anxiously watching the cutter.  "Once upon a time we would
have fought her, and beat her off, but now we must trust to our heels.
We've a pair of smart ones, let me tell you; and if you expect ever to
step aboard that cutter you are mistaken."

Digby's heart sunk at hearing the Captain express himself with so much
confidence.  The wind continued increasing; and Digby heard some of the
smugglers say that it was shifting about very much, and that it would
settle down into a regular south-westerly gale.  In spite, however, of
the strong wind, neither the smugglers nor those on board the cruiser
appeared inclined to shorten sail.  The lugger tore through the water
with a mass of foam at her bows, which came flying in sheets over the
deck.  The sea, too, was getting up; and as she rushed on she seemed to
be making such headlong plunges into it, that Digby sometimes thought
that she would never rise again.  There was a little binnacle on deck.
Digby got a look at the compass within it, and found that the cutter was
once more running up Channel.  This again raised his hopes; he thought
that there was a better chance of the lugger being overtaken by the
revenue cruiser, when he had little doubt that he should be able to make
himself known.  The gale increased, the waves danced more wildly than
ever, their white crests gleaming amid the gloom of night, which rapidly
came on.  Still the smugglers would not shorten sail; they trusted to
the stout little craft which had carried them safely through many a
storm, and to the darkness of night, to enable them to escape.

Digby kept on deck in spite of the way the vessel tumbled about, and the
seas, which every now and then washed on board, soaked him through.  He
had been for some time standing holding on by the weather bulwarks,
looking anxiously ahead, and wondering whether the lugger could possibly
mount again over the next foaming wave.  Had he not learned a good deal
about sailing from Toby Tubb, he would have been much more alarmed.  As
it was, the smugglers remarked to each other that he was a brave little
chap, and would make a good seaman some day or other, when he was one of
them.  Digby might have been flattered with the remark, but he would
have rather shrunk from the career they proposed for him.  He had stood
thus for some time, when turning round, and looking astern, the cutter
was no longer to be seen.  In vain he tried to pierce the gloom; nothing
could he see but the dark waves, and the white spray, dancing up towards
to the sky.

"There's no fear, we've given her the slip this time," he heard one of
the smugglers remark; and soon all were congratulating themselves on
their escape from their pursuer.

Poor Digby felt very miserable.  The gale came down stronger and
stronger.  The lugger held on her course; the smugglers no longer spoke
to each other; only new and then the Captain issued some order in a loud
tone, which all hastened to obey.  And Digby judged from this that they
were far from contented with the state of affairs.  Some sail was taken
off the vessel, but she still had too much; she at times heeled over
fearfully, and the seas, with terrific force, washed on board.  Digby
felt that he would have been carried away, but he had bound a rope fast
to the weather bulwarks, and securing it round himself, he was preserved
from a fate so dreadful.  Hour after hour passed, and still the lugger
went tearing through the dark waters.

"You'd better go below and turn in, youngster," said the Captain,
good-naturedly, to him.  "There's some brandy and water and a biscuit
for you in the cabin; it will do you good."

Digby thanked him, but said that he would rather stay where he was, and
see what was going to happen.

Sometimes the wind seemed to lull, and Digby hoped that the storm was
going to be over, but it again breezed up, and blew harder than ever.
The smugglers stood some at the helm, and others clustered round the
masts.  As the storm increased, the darkness became more intense.  The
vessel seemed to be rushing into a mass of black; the rain came down in
torrents; thunder, in terrific peals, rolled overhead; and forked
lightning darted from the skies.  Digby felt almost worn out, and ready
to sink--a dreamy unconsciousness came over him.  Had he not secured
himself by the rope he would have fallen to leeward, and been washed
overboard.  How long he had continued in this state he could not tell.
He was aroused by a terrific crash; he was up to his waist in water--a
tremendous sea had struck the vessel; the masts had gone by the board;
and many of the crew had been washed away.  He could hear their shrieks
of agonising despair us the vessel was swept on away from them; and
they, with all their sins on their heads, were left amid that dark sea
to perish miserably.  The survivors, bold seamen as they were, held on
to whatever they could grasp, knowing that, till daylight, they could do
nothing towards getting up a jury-mast, on which they could set sail, to
carry them into port.  Were they destined ever again to see the bright
light of day?  On went the lugger, impelled by the force of the wind,
bodily to leeward.  Suddenly there was a crash; the vessel seemed to be
lifted up and down; she came again on a rock, which split her into
fragments.  Shrieks of terror and despair sounded in Digby's ears.  He,
too, cried out--it was that God would save him.  He was alone, tossed
about by the wild waters, clinging to a part of the bulwarks.  Soon the
voices of the once bold and hardy smugglers were silent.  Digby felt
himself lifted up and down by the waves; the spray, in thick masses,
flew over him.  The loud roar of the sea dashing on the shore almost
deafened him.  There was a grating sound as if he was close to the
beach; he touched the sand with his feet.  Now he was carried away; but
another wave rolled in, and sent him high up against a rugged rock.  He
had become separated from the plank to which he had been but loosely
secured.  He grasped hold of the rock; the wave rolled back, and he
found his feet touching the soft sand.  He ran on as fast as he could
move, but he ran against a rock.  Again he heard the roar of a wave as
it came rolling up, but it did not even reach his feet.  He clung to the
rock till it had retired.  Once more he tried to work his way on, but he
could discover no outlet, and stooping down, he found that the sand was
dry and soft; he therefore suspected that he had been thrown into a
cave.  It did not, happily, occur to him that the tide might be rising,
and that even then the sea might pursue him.  He crawled up to the
furthest end, where the ground was dry, and the air comparatively warm;
but he himself felt numbed and chilled, and could not help thinking that
he should be frozen to death.  As he sat there he began to consider how
he could make his escape.  In the dark he could do nothing.  It was
still some hours to daylight he supposed.  He wished that he could make
a fire; it would show him where he was, and help to dry his clothes.  He
felt about, and found that there was an abundant supply of wood, but it
had been so long there that much of it was soft as tinder.  Not long
before, one of his companions had given him a present, which every boy
prizes--a flint and steel, with some tinder; it was in a small tin case.
He expected to find that the water had got into it, and spoilt it, or
that it had been washed out of his pocket.  He felt for it; there it was
safe.  He scraped all the wood he could find round him, and then took
out his box; it was well made, and had proved water-tight.  With a
grateful heart he struck a light, and put a piece of the burning tinder
under some of the soft wood; then, stooping down, he blew it steadily
till, to his joy, the wood caught, and very soon burst into a flame.  He
piled more wood on till there was a good blaze.  Looking around, he
found that he was in a large cavern, with the water filling its mouth,
and which ran up some way directly from it, and then turned sharply
round to the left.  He had happily been guided to this turning, where he
was sheltered from the wind, and was well supplied with fuel.  The
blazing fire again made the blood circulate through his numbed limbs,
and dried his clothes.  He looked about and could not see how he could
escape; but he felt, after the merciful way in which he had been
preserved, that it would be gross ingratitude to doubt that means for
saving him would be provided.

"Where are all the people who so lately were with me, full of life, on
board the lugger?" he thought to himself; "not one of them remains in
existence.  I alone have been saved among them all, though the weakest,
and least able to help myself."

Such, indeed, was the case.  His strength had hitherto been wonderfully
kept up, but he was beginning to grow very faint and hungry, and he felt
as if he should not be able to hold out much longer.  He, however,
exerted himself to the utmost to keep up his fire; he knew that his life
might depend on it.  It was so cold and damp, though fortunately not
freezing, that he thought if he went to sleep, and let his fire go out,
he might be so chilled and benumbed as to be unable to rally.  Whenever,
then, he felt very sleepy, he got up, and walked round and round his
fire to arouse and warm himself.  How anxiously he looked for daylight;
how he longed for the storm to cease, that he might try and make his
escape.

Poor Digby; he was very young, and not altogether very wise, but there
was good stuff in him, as the way he behaved on this occasion showed;
but it required care and attention to bring it into permanent practical
use.

At length he grew very weary; he was obliged to sit down.  He drew as
near the fire as he could venture to sit; his eyes closed, and his head
dropped on his knees.  All sorts of strange scenes passed before him: he
felt as if he was still struggling in the waves; that he heard around
him the shrieks of the drowning wretches.  He started up--a cry or shout
rung in his ears.  The fire was still blazing, for the drift-wood burnt
slowly; the bright sunlight, too, was streaming in at the mouth of the
cavern, and the storm was over.



CHAPTER TEN.

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ARTHUR AND HIS COMPANIONS--DIGBY RESCUED--
REJOICINGS AT BLOXHOLME--CHRISTMAS AMUSEMENTS--THE LEADER OF THE
REVELS--THE END OF THE HOLIDAYS.

Arthur Haviland and his companions having assured the old man and idiot
boy, whom they found in the cavern, that they had no wish to do them
harm, they, after some time, succeeded in quieting their apprehensions.
In vain Arthur tried to gain more information about Digby.  All he could
learn was that the captain had carried him off in the lugger to foreign
parts, and that they had all made up their minds not to come back to
England.

As it was getting late, and they had a long way to pull, Toby now
summoned Arthur to return.  Arthur, however, was not satisfied with the
information he had obtained, and was unwilling to go away without
gaining some definite clue to the place to which Digby had been carried.
Finding that threats were of no avail, he tried to induce the old man
to say all he knew by the promise of rewards.

"You hear what the young gentleman says," observed Toby.  "You and I
know each other, old Joe, and you know that I would not deceive you.
What Mr Haviland says, he'll do; that he will, depend on it.  Come
along, sir; I know where to find him.  If he's got anything to say,
he'll tell me.  We haven't another moment to lose, that I know."

Saying this, Toby led the way from the cave, followed by Arthur and John
Pratt.

The weather had evidently changed very much for the worse, and the wind
was blowing strongly, and sending the spray right up to where they were
standing.  Toby shook his head doubtfully; but he continued to descend.

"I thought so," he exclaimed, when they reached the bottom of the cliff.

There was old Jem with the boat partly out of the water, he hauling away
with all his might to get her out of danger; but the waves were dashing
against her stern, and threatening every instant to knock her to pieces.
They had arrived only just in time; but, by dint of working away
together, they got the boat hauled up beyond the reach of the sea.  When
this was done they went back to the cave, for the wind was blowing
stronger and stronger, and it was very evident that they would not be
able to leave the place that night.  They had reason to be thankful that
they had a place which would afford them so complete a shelter during
that tempestuous night.  When they got back they found the old man
perfectly ready to be civil; and making themselves at home, they
rummaged, out an ample supply of food, and materials for forming beds,
which they ranged round the fire.

Toby talked for all the party, and told many of his best anecdotes and
stories.  The genius of the place seemed to recall the memories of his
early days, and many a tale of smuggling life and adventure he poured
forth.

Neither Arthur nor John Pratt were inclined to talk.  They were thinking
too much of poor Digby, tossing about on the wild ocean that stormy
night.  Had they been able to see the terrific danger to which he was
exposed, they would have been still more alarmed.  How mercifully has
God hid the future from us, as well as the scenes of peril and suffering
to which those we love at a distance may be exposed.  How it would
double our anguish to feel that we could not fly to their help, that we
could afford them no relief.  How foolish and wicked, then, are those
persons who try to draw aside (by devices the most absurd however) that
impenetrable veil which the Almighty, in his infinite wisdom, has placed
before our eyes.  Never let us put faith in those who pretend that they
can either show the future, or bring the present, when at a distance,
before our eyes.  Clairvoyants, spirit-rappers, and similar pretenders,
under whatever name they may appear, we may depend on it, are impostors.
They have been shown to be so over and over again; but like Chinese
tumbling-figures, though knocked down, they will spring up again, over
and over again, as long as dupes can be found to put faith in them.

Arthur Haviland long recollected that night in the cavern--the
flickering light of the fire; the red glow cast over some parts of the
sides and roof; and the dark, strange-shaped shadows, which passed over
others; the low voices of his companions; the howling of the wind; and
the incessant roar of the waves, as they beat against the foot of the
cliffs.  He at length, however, fell asleep, and did not awake till Toby
called him, with an invitation to take a cup of coffee and a biscuit
before they embarked.  He was not sorry to accept the offer.

As soon as the meal was over Toby went out, and returned with so
favourable a report of the weather, that it was agreed that they might
venture once more to embark.

Arthur repeated his promise to the old man, who undertook to bring any
information to him he could gain about Digby.

The sun was shining, and the air was keen, for the wind had got round to
the north.  That, however, was an important advantage, as it sent down
the sea; and the boat, when they had launched her, though tossed about a
good deal, was able to continue her progress by keeping close in shore,
and skirting all the bays and inlets.  They had gone some way, and had
just rounded a reef of rocks, whose black heads rose with threatening
aspect out of the water, when Arthur exclaimed that he thought he saw a
smoke coming out of the cliff.  Toby ceased pulling, but did not speak.
He looked round on every side; several pieces of timber were floating
about, and on the shore lay a mass of cordage and broken spars.

"Some vessel was cast away not far from here last night," exclaimed
Toby, at length.  "Heaven help the unfortunate fellows on board her; but
that smoke may be made by some of them who have escaped.  What say you,
old Jem?"

Old Jem agreed with Toby, and told him that there was a small cave just
in there, from which the smoke might proceed.

Paddling in cautiously, for there were a good many rocks about capable
of knocking an ugly hole in the boat's bottom, as Toby observed, they
approached the cliff.  The entrance to the cave on the sand was soon
perceptible.  The boat reached a sandy beach.  So completely did the
cliff overhang the water, and so much did it project on either side of
the cave, that only by means of a boat could anybody possibly leave it.
So Arthur remarked as he jumped with Toby and John Pratt on shore.  They
could see the gleam of a fire from the interior.  Arthur ran on; a
little sailor-boy was sitting over it.

"Hillo, my poor lad; we have come to help you," exclaimed Arthur.

The little sailor-boy looked up.  There could be no doubt about it--
there sat Digby Heathcote.

With a shout of joy Arthur sprang forward, and lifted him up in his
arms.  John Pratt, in his delight, gave him a hug which almost squeezed
the breath out of his body; and Toby Tubb seized his hand, and gave it a
shake which well nigh wrung it off.  It was some moments before any one
could speak, and Digby could hurriedly give an account of what had
occurred.

"Well, I be right glad, that I be," exclaimed Toby.  "Them who has gone
to their account has brought their fate upon themselves.  Howsomdever,
Master Digby, come into the boat; you are cold and hungry, I'll warrant,
and will be glad of a breakfast and warm bed."

Digby was ready enough to go, but he begged that search might be made in
case any of the crew of the lugger might have been washed on shore, and
be still clinging on among the crevices of the rocks.

Toby shook his head.  "It was not likely any had escaped.  It was a
wonder he had done so."

Search was made, however, but there was not the sign of a living being,
nor had any of the bodies of the smugglers been washed ashore.

Toby and John Pratt insisted on taking off their overcoats to wrap up
Digby; and the former had a little brandy in a flask, which he insisted
on pouring down his throat.  Digby, to his surprise, found that it
appeared very little stronger than water, a proof of how much chilled he
was, and how important a stimulant this was to him.

Little are spirit-drinkers aware of not only how much injury they are
doing themselves, but how completely they are depriving themselves of
important assistance in time of need.  A glass of brandy may save the
life of a person who never touches spirits, but would have no effect on
an habitual brandy-drinker.

The voyage back to Osberton need not be further described.  The
reception Digby met with from Mr and Mrs Nugent may easily be
conceived.  Digby indignantly declined to go to bed, but he did not
refuse to eat a hearty breakfast, in which Arthur joined him, or to
change his sailor's clothes for a suit more fitted for the heir of
Bloxholme to appear in.

"Put up the others, however; I'll have them with me," he exclaimed.
"They will remind me of my trip in the smugglers' lugger, at all
events."

"Of its fearful termination, and of the merciful way in which you were
preserved, my dear boy," observed Mr Nugent.

"Yes, uncle, yes," said Digby; "I thought of that.  I don't feel I can
ever be too thankful."

A carriage was ordered, and Mr Nugent, and Digby, and Arthur, went
inside; and John Pratt and Toby Tubb, whom Digby insisted should
accompany them, went outside; and away they rattled as fast as four
horses could gallop towards Bloxholme.  Every minute was of importance
to release Mr and Mrs Heathcote from their state of suspense.  The
carriage with its four smoking horses, rattled up the avenue.  Almost
before John Pratt had time to jump from the box the hall-door was flung
open; Alesbury had caught sight of Digby, and hurrying down the steps
faster than he had moved for many a day, he pulled him out of the
carriage, and carried him into the house.  Then Digby found himself in
his mother's arms.  Then, and not till then, did he burst into tears,
but they were tears of joy and gratitude.

Poor little Kate, how she cried, too, and then she smiled and laughed;
and when she got hold of Digby she could scarcely refrain from beating
him for making her so very miserable; indeed, she gave him two or three
severe slaps, and called him naughty, dear, tiresome, good boy; and
Digby pulled her ears, and her nose, and showed his love in a variety of
other eccentric ways.  Digby came in for a great deal of caressing from
all sides, of which he did not at all approve; but he submitted to it as
an unavoidable evil, and looked very much as a donkey does when harness
is about to be put on its back.

Gusty shouted and laughed louder than ever that day; and his elder
sisters kissed him as elder sisters generally do their younger brothers;
but he took that sort of thing better from them than from any one else.

Then he had to tell the story of his adventures over and over again.
John Pratt, however, was able to help him in that respect in the
servants' hall, where he did ample justice to the young Squire's
courage, and never was tired of telling all he knew about his
adventures.

Digby was a strong hardy fellow, but he was not made of iron; and, long
before dinner-time, he gave signs of being very sleepy and tired.  He
consented to go to bed, provided he was called in time to get up and
dress for dinner.  When, however, he was called, he was so fast asleep
that nothing could awake him; and so he was allowed to sleep on till the
following morning.  It was ever afterwards a constant joke against him,
that, when he came down, he fancied that he was coming down to dinner,
and was very much surprised to find breakfast on the table.

Arthur Haviland had pretty well kept him in countenance by sleeping the
greater part of the time; and neither of them were quite themselves
again for two or three days.

Their adventures were fully a nine days' wonder; and the whole visiting
acquaintance of the family called to hear about it.  Indeed, Digby had
to tell the story so often that he got weary of it; and at last insisted
that Kate should represent him, and tell it instead, as if the events
had happened to her.  He did not, however, forget poor Dame Marlow, of
the death of whose grandson he had heard from some of the smugglers.  He
told Mr Bowdler of the trick he had once played her, and begged him to
go and break the news to the old woman before she heard it from any one
else.

At first she would not believe that the only being she seemed to love
was lost to her for ever; and at length, when the Vicar assured her that
there was no doubt about the matter, she gave way to a fit of tears such
as she had not shed for years.  Her heart was softened.  The clergyman
placed before her in the clearest way the great truths of the Gospel.
Many days passed away, and many visits he had to pay, before she at all
seemed to comprehend them; but he persevered--as every true and faithful
minister of the Gospel will persevere--when he feels that a lost soul is
to be saved.  At length the light seemed to dawn on her long-benighted
mind.

"You tell me wonderful things, Mr Bowdler, which I never before
understood," she said, at last.  "I am a sinner, I feel that; and if I
was left to myself, I am sure that I should be lost, for I don't think
that I could undo a quarter, nor an hundredth part, for that matter, of
the sins I have committed; but as you say, that if I repent I may go to
One who will wash away my sins, I will go to Him; and I am sure, from
everything he has caused to be said in the Bible, that he will wash away
my sins, and save my soul from death."

Much more she said, showing that she fully comprehended the great truths
of the Gospel; find now her great anxiety was to warn those she had so
long misled, and she was never weary of going about, and telling them of
the Bible, and of the comfort it had been to her.  At first, people
could scarcely believe their senses when they heard her talk, so
completely changed she had become, and so anxious she was to be doing
all the good in her power.  She tried to make her old husband comprehend
the truths she had imbibed; but he afforded one of the numberless
examples of the danger of putting off repentance to another day.  His
mind was dead, though his body was still alive, and in a short time he
sunk into the grave.  Her great grief was about her grandson, to whom
she had set so bad an example, and whom she had never attempted to
direct aright.  He was gone, and nothing she could do would now have any
power over his fate.

Oh, may all those who read this reflect on the incalculable harm which a
bad example may do to those younger, or in an inferior station to
themselves.  If they could see it, they would start back with horror and
dismay at the result of their conduct.  An idle word, an idle
expression, or an irreverent joke, may seem a light thing in their eyes,
but even words may produce a great deal of harm; much more will a
continual course of idle, careless, and bad conduct; and depend upon it,
many a younger brother and companion has been lost, body and soul, who
might have had a very different fate had those who had an influence over
him endeavoured to lead him aright.

Digby was very glad to hear the account Mr Bowdler gave of Dame Marlow,
though he probably did not understand the great importance of the
change.  Kate, however, whose comprehension was far more advanced than
Digby's, did understand it fully, and, of her own accord, went and
explained the trick she had once played her, and expressed her sorrow
for it.

Digby was not quite himself again for a week or more after his dangerous
adventure, and very often in the night he used to start up in his sleep,
dreaming that he was on board the lugger, and that she was being dashed
on the rocks.  The holidays, however, promised to be as pleasant as
usual.  Many a delightful ride Digby got on Sweetlips; while often Kate
cantered gaily by his side, dispelling, by her cheerful conversation,
any of the over-gloomy thoughts which, in spite of his well-strung
nerves and constitutional hardihood, would occasionally occur.

The expected guests, also, arrived, and several of them had sons about
Digby's age; so that the house was full, and a very merry Christmas
party were collected.

Cousin Giles was the life and soul of the younger portion of the
community.  He started all the games in the evening, and arranged all
the out-door amusements.  A hard frost set in, and, as soon as the ice
bore thoroughly, skating became the order of the day.  Neither Digby nor
Arthur Haviland had ever skated; indeed, only two of the boys had begun
the previous year, and they were no great adepts at the art.  Skates
were, therefore, sent for, and cousin Giles undertook to be the
instructor of the party.  As he said that he should be frozen if he
fastened on all the skates to his pupil's feet at the pond, he had them
all fitted and secured in the house, and then procured a small cart, and
carried them all down bodily in it to the pond.  He allowed those who
wished it a kitchen chair to shove before them; but Digby and Arthur
disdained such assistance, and preferred trusting to a stout stick and
their own legs to keep them from falling.  Cousin Giles having taken
them out of the cart, arranged them in line about two yards apart.

"Now, boys, watch me," he cried out, putting himself before them.
"Stand upright, as I do, feet a little apart, ankles stiff.  Don't
tremble; you won't tumble if you do properly.  Just give a slight touch
with the point of the right skate and away you go on your left foot; now
touch the ice with the point of your left foot, and you slide on with
your right.  Away we go.  Who's that tumbled down?  Oh, Benjie Bowland.
Never mind; up, Benjie; at it again.  Bravo, Arthur.  Bravo, Digby.  You
get on better than the fellows with the chair.  You'll skate in a day or
two, do the outside edge in four or live days, and the spread-eagle in a
week."

With such assistance and encouragement the boys got on rapidly, and
enjoyed their skating.  Digby beat all the others by perseverance and
pluck.  The moment he tumbled, he picked himself up, never minding the
bruises; while his sturdy little legs soon got the entire command of his
skates.  He did not promise to make a peculiarly graceful skater, but it
was evident, from the rapid progress he made, that there were very few
things he would not be able to do.

At last, however, a heavy fall of snow came on, and completely covered
up the ice.  Though men were set to work with brooms to sweep passages
across and round the pond, yet a second fall again covered them up.
This happened three or four times.  A small space was still cleared
every morning, but only the most persevering skaters frequented it; and
the boys expressed a wish for some other amusement.

"I vote we build a snow-man, the largest snow-man that ever was built,"
exclaimed Cousin Giles, while all the party were assembled at breakfast.

The idea took, and was hailed with enthusiasm.

Cousin Giles went about everything he undertook systematically.  He set
John Pratt to work to cut out a number of bits of board, with handles,
to serve as trowels, and he collected all the wheelbarrows and
hand-barrows, and spades, on the premises.  John Pratt and three other
men were called in to assist.  A sheltered place on the lawn was chosen
for the erection of the snow-giant, while a large field on one side,
through a shrubbery, would afford an amply supply of snow, when that on
the lawn was exhausted.  All hands, with great glee, set to work; some
were to bring the snow up to the spot, others were to act under Cousin
Giles, as masons.

"He will be very imposing if we make him like an ancient king, seated on
his throne, with a huge staff in his hand," he observed.  "We will make
him hollow, with steps in his inside, so that we may climb up, and look
out of his eyes, and halloo out of his mouth--eh, boys?  Then we must
have a seat in each arm, and another in his crown, where one of you must
get up, and make a speech from.  You see we have undertaken to perform a
gigantic labour; we must lose no time, therefore, though, luckily, our
material is not difficult to work."

First, Cousin Giles marked the foundation of the giant's throne; the
sides of it were five feet thick, so that a large quantity of snow was
required for that alone.  The greater part of it was scraped up from the
lawn.  While that was being done, Cousin Giles made a model of the
proposed giant in snow, a couple of feet high, and that very much
assisted his young workmen in their undertaking, as they at once saw the
figure he had conceived, and which they wished to produce.  Everybody
labouring with a will, and systematically, the work went on rapidly, and
the chair assumed gigantic proportions.  The giant's feet, which were
placed on a footstool, were four feet long, and his legs were eight feet
high up to his knees.  Ladders were soon required to reach the seat of
his chair; and then his body was commenced.  A young pine-tree was
procured, and that supported one of his arms, while the other rested by
his side.  Some pretty severe tumbles were got from the top of the
chair, but no one was much hurt.  Cousin Giles arched the greater part
of the inside, but he did not disdain to make use of some timber to
strengthen his erection.

A great deal had been done by luncheon time, when all the party
assembled, with very good appetites, in the dining-room; but Cousin
Giles begged that none of the visitors would go out to see their little
man till he was complete.

After luncheon, they all went back; but though they worked away till
dark, the giant still wanted his head and crown.  It was agreed that
though they might continue labouring with lanterns, they could not
complete it before dinner.  Not to lose time, however, they all joined
in bringing in snow, and piled it up near the figure, ready to begin
work the next morning.

They had a very merry evening, and all sorts of games were played.
Cousin Giles, however, disappeared earlier than usual, and they were
afraid that he was tired with his labours during the day, and had gone
to bed.

The next morning the party assembled at breakfast, and, after it was
over, and the letters had been read, and the newspapers glanced at,
Cousin Giles invited everybody to see their little man.

"But we have to finish his head," was the general exclamation from the
boys.

"Never mind," was his answer.  "Head or no head, or crown or no crown, I
beg that he may be looked at."

Great coats and cloaks, and hats and bonnets, were procured, and the
party assembled.  A sheet was seen thrown over the top of the figure,
and behind it was a tall pole, at the foot of which stood John Pratt.

"Here is our snow-giant, ladies and gentlemen," cried Cousin Giles.
"Though so large, he is perfectly harmless, and no one need be afraid of
approaching him."

He then made a signal to John Pratt, who, hauling away on the rope,
withdrew the sheet, and beneath it appeared not only the giant's head,
and a large pair of black eyes, and a red mouth, but a crown of gold a
foot or more high, on the top of it; while in the centre stood Kate
Heathcote, waving a flag, with Digby on one side, and Arthur Haviland on
the other.

Loud shouts from the spectators greeted them; and everybody complimented
the architect on the execution of his vast undertaking.  No one present
had ever seen so huge a man.  He was said to be even larger than the
idols of the Assyrian temples, represented at the Crystal Palace.

As Kate and her young companions found it somewhat cold on the top of
the giant's head, they very soon descended; and then all the boys amused
themselves by climbing up and about the monster, till they ran no small
risk of pulling him bodily down.  He was, however, so scientifically and
securely built, that he withstood all the rough usage he received.  The
snow-giant afforded a fund of amusement for a long time.  The next
morning, his crown was gone, and a huge broad-brim hat was on his head.
Another morning, a pipe was found in his mouth actually smoking, and for
some time he continued to blow his cloud.  Another day, he had a large
branch of holly in his hand, and a wreath of holly, with red berries,
round his head.  Once he appeared in a high conical cap, very like a
fool's-cap, while in front hung a placard with "Won't say his lessons,"
painted on it.  Indeed, there was no end of the changes the snow-giant
underwent.  Then he was seen to appear with a post-bag hanging from his
arm; and, on its being opened, it was found to contain a variety of
letters to different people present, mostly the younger ones of the
party.  They were from very odd correspondents.  One was from the Man in
the Moon; another signed himself--Your affectionate cousin, Timothy
Tugmutton; the Antipodes.  The King of the Cannibal Islands wrote two
letters; and the Polar Bear another.  They were very amusing epistles;
and the writers seemed to know in a wonderful way what was going forward
in the house.  The arrival of the snow-giant's post-bag was looked
forward to with even more interest than had been the changes which had
taken place in his head-dress.

Thus the early weeks of winter passed pleasantly by.  Mr Nugent tried
to induce Digby to give some time in the morning to study, to prepare
himself for the new school, to which it was arranged he should go after
the Christmas holidays; but he appeared always to be in too great a
hurry and bustle to sit down quietly to his books, so as to imbibe any
information from them.

"You will be sorry for your idleness, my dear boy," said his uncle.
"Not only are you acquiring no knowledge, but you are altogether getting
out of the habit of study--out of training, I will call it.  Suppose
that you were to give up running for some months, do you think that you
would be able to move your legs as fast as when you were constantly
using them?  Or if you were not to employ your arms for the same length
of time, you would be very unwilling, I suspect, to climb a tree.  The
mind, in the same way, requires constant and regular exercise, or it
very rapidly gets out of use, and it takes a great deal of trouble to
bring it into working condition again."

Digby listened respectfully to what his uncle said; and though the next
morning he got out his books very manfully, one of his young friends
coming in, made him put them up again, and they were not looked into
that day.

Thus the holidays glided by, and the day of his departure approached.
He liked having so many guests in the house, but they prevented him from
enjoying Kate's society as much as formerly, and he was not sorry when
all of them, with the exception of Arthur Haviland, went away.

Everybody liked Arthur.  He was a great favourite with Mrs Heathcote,
as well as with the Squire and Digby's eldest sisters; and Kate thought
him a first-rate fellow; he was so very different to Julian Langley.

Digby was very sorry to part from Arthur.  He, as it had been arranged,
was to go to Mr Sanford's school, in Berkshire, while Arthur returned
to one in Hampshire, of which he spoke in the highest terms, and
regretted that his friend was not to accompany him.

Digby pressed Arthur warmly to come back and spend the summer holidays.
This, however, he could not promise to do.

"My father may wish me to accompany him somewhere, and I, of course,
shall wish to go with him," said Arthur.  "But I will promise not to let
a year pass, if I can help it, without our meeting."

No one ever quitted a house having more completely secured the regard of
all the family than did Arthur Haviland.

Cousin Giles, who had great discernment of character, spoke very highly
of him, and regretted much that Digby could not have been more with him.

To Digby's surprise, a day or two before he was to leave home, his
father called him into his study; not that the Squire ever did study
anything there beyond the newspaper, or a compendium of information for
justices of the peace, or some similar work.

"So, my dear boy, you are going away again from us," he began.  "I wish
that you could stay with us always, and have John Pratt to look after
you, as he did when you were a little chap; but as that can't be, you
must make the best use of your time when you are away from us.  What I
want to talk to you about is this--your mother and I intended that you
should spend a couple of years or so at Mr Sanford's, at Grangewood
House, and then go to some public school; however, we shall talk about
that by-and-by.  I wish to see how you get on at the school to which you
are going.  It will be a very different sort of life to that to which
you have hitherto led.  You'll get some hard knocks and kicks, but
you'll not mind them; and you will have to fight your way upward, but
that you are well able to do; and I have little fear that you will take
good care of yourself.  I am not much in the habit of giving advice, as
you know, my boy; but there is one thing I must charge you, never to
forget that you are a Christian, and a gentleman.  I have done my best
to make you hate and scorn to tell a lie, and the consequence is, that I
would sooner take your word than I would the oath of any man I know.
And now I charge you to fight against every bad thought which comes into
your mind, and to scorn to do a mean or ungenerous action.  Guard
especially against selfishness; nothing so quickly grows on a person by
indulgence.  Fight for your undoubted rights, but gladly give up
anything which may conduce to the pleasure of others, or benefit them.
I don't mean, of course, that you are to let a bully take anything he
may fancy from you, that is quite a different matter; but never try to
get hold of what you know another person wishes for, and of which you
will thus deprive him."

Much more the Squire said to the same effect.  Digby grasped his
father's hand.

"Yes, papa, I will do my best, indeed I will, to act as you tell me," he
answered.  "I have done a good many things I have been sorry for, but
yet I don't think there has been anything which would make you ashamed
of calling me your son."

Such were the sentiments with which Digby went to school.  His parting
was not a very melancholy one.  Kate and Gusty cried, but he held up
very bravely; and when a postchaise came to the door, and his boxes were
secured, and he had manfully stepped in, and John Pratt, who was to
accompany him all the way, had taken his seat on the box, and the
postilion had cracked his whip, he was able to wave his cap out of the
window, and to sing out, in a cheerful voice--"Hurra for the Midsummer
holidays!"



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

DIGBY'S NEW SCHOOL--HOW HE WAS RECEIVED THERE--HE LEARNS THE
INCONVENIENCE OF WANT OF DISCIPLINE--HIS COMPANIONS AND THEIR
CHARACTERS--ADVANTAGE OF A BOLD FRONT IN A GOOD CAUSE.

"Is this Grangewood House, John?" asked Digby, as he looked out of the
window of the fly which had brought them from the railway station, and
which was now stopping at a large white gate, which John Pratt had got
off the box to open.

"Yes, sir; this be Mr Sanford's academy for young gentlemen.  There's a
great many on 'em comes backwards and forwards by me at times," answered
the driver, instead of John, who did not hear the question.

It was a substantial, large, red-brick house, completely in the country,
with a circular drive up to it, and a meadowish piece of lawn, with some
fine elms, in front.  The place was not picturesque, but well suited for
the requirements of a school.  There were wide-spreading wings on either
side, with a walled enclosure on the right, from which proceeded the
sound of many young voices, shouting, bawling, and laughing, showing
Digby that it was the playground.  He altogether liked the look of
things outside.

The fly stopped in front of the house; a flight of stone steps led up to
the chief door.  John descended, and rang the bell, and, while it was
being answered, busied himself in taking his young master's things out
of the fly.

"Is this Mr Sanford's school, young woman?" he asked of the
maid-servant, who opened the door.

"It is, young man, and my name is Susan," was the quick reply; some
people might have called it pert.

"Then, Susan, do you just tell your master that young Master Digby
Heathcote, the eldest son of Squire Heathcote, of Bloxholme, has come,"
answered John, letting down the steps, and handing Digby out with an air
of the greatest respect.  He unintentionally spoke, too, in a tone which
sounded not a little pompous.

Several boys, who had been passing through the hall at the time, and, of
course, followed Susan to the door, to have a look at the new comer,
overheard the announcement.  A loud shout of laughter from many voices
followed, in a variety of tones, as they retreated down a passage.
Digby heard them repeating one to the other "Young Master Digby
Heathcote, the eldest son of Squire Heathcote, of Bloxholme, has come.
Ho, ho! young Master Digby, what an important person you are--ha! ha!
ha!--we don't think."  Great emphasis was laid on the words young
master, and eldest son.  Digby knew quite enough of boys to wish
heartily that poor John had held his tongue.

"You'll go round to the back door; or are you going away in the fly?"
said the maid-servant, addressing John, with rather a scornful glance.

"Neither one nor t'other, Mistress Susan," answered John.  "I'm going to
stay with Master Digby for the present."

"You can't do that; Master Digby has to go at once to Mr Sanford,"
replied Susan.

"That's where I'm going to, young woman, let me tell you," exclaimed
John, bristling up.  "He has been spirited away once, and we had a hard
job to get him back; and I'm not going to lose sight of him till I see
him safe in Mr Sanford's hands, who must be answerable for him whenever
he is sent for.  A pretty thing to leave him with such as you, indeed,
who might go and declare that you never got him.  No, Master Digby,
dear--that's what I'm going to do, I know my duty, and I'm going to do
it."

The last remark was made to Digby, who was expostulating, by signs, with
John, fearing that he would offend Susan.  The damsel, however, seemed
not to care a bit for what John said; and would have shut the hall-door
in his face, but he would not let go of Digby's hand.

"Well, I don't know what master will say to you," exclaimed Susan, as
John entered the hall, evidently resolved not to lose sight of Digby, or
his boxes, till he had delivered them into what he considered proper
custody.  Susan, meantime, disappeared at a door on one side of the
hall.  She soon returned.

"You are to go in there," she said, addressing Digby.  "Not you," she
said, looking at John.

"There are just two opinions about that," answered John, coolly opening
the door, and walking with Digby into a handsome library.

A tall, delicate-looking man, was reclining in his dressing-gown on a
sofa, with a book in his hand.  He looked up with an expression of
surprise on his countenance on seeing John; and then glanced at Digby,
but did not rise.

"Bee's you Mr Sanford, sir?" asked John, pulling the lock of his hair
he usually employed for that purpose.

"Yes, I am, and the head of this school; and who are you?" said the
gentleman, but not at all in an angry tone.

"I'm Squire Heathcote's man, of Bloxholme, and this is his son, Master
Digby Heathcote; and I'm to deliver him safe and sound into your hands,
to keep him carefully till he is sent for home, or till you send him
back," answered John, firmly.  "I suppose it's all right, sir?"

"I will give you an acknowledgment in writing that I have him all safe,"
said Mr Sanford, much amused at John's mode of proceeding.  "Go into
the kitchen, and get something to eat and drink after your journey."

"No, thank you, sir; I'd rather have the writing.  I'm not hungry.  We
had something, Master Digby and I, as we came along; and I have to go
back to the station with the fly."

"Very well; push that table with the desk on it near me.  I will give
you what you require."

John did as he was desired; and Mr Sanford wrote a short note, which he
gave him.

John forthwith handed it to Digby.  "I suppose it's all right, Master
Digby, dear," he whispered.  "I bean't no great scholard, sir, and so I
just wanted the young master to see that the lines was all right and
proper.  No offence to you, sir, you know," he added, turning to Mr
Sanford.

The schoolmaster was highly amused; but Digby was afraid that John had
gone too far.

"It's all right, John," he exclaimed, taking his hand affectionately.
"Good by, good by.  My love to papa and mamma, and Kate and Gusty, and
all; and don't forget to look after Sweetlips, and tell Kate to write to
me about him; but she'll do that, I'm sure.  You must go, John, I know
you must."  Digby felt more inclined to cry than he had done before.
John was the last link which united him with all the home associations
he was conjuring up.  John warmly returned Digby's grasp.  He went to
the door, and opened it.  He turned round once more with his hand on the
lock.

"You has him in charge, sir," he said, looking sternly at Mr Sanford.
"Oh, take care of him, sir; he's very precious down at Bloxholme there."

John, afraid of trusting himself, bolted out of the door.

Digby overheard some words between John and Susan outside; they ended in
a laugh, just before the fly drove off, so he had no doubt they had
become good friends; and he afterwards had reason to believe that John
had bestowed half a sovereign on her from his own pocket, to secure her
good services for the young master.

"Sit down, young gentleman," said Mr Sanford, in his usual languid
tone, when John had taken his departure.  "I am glad to have you as a
pupil, for I find that you are a nephew of my old friend, Nugent, for
whom I have a great regard.  I dare say he has done you justice.  What
books have you read?--Latin and Greek, I mean?"

Digby told him; he had very little Greek to boast of, however.

"I thought that you were more forward," observed Mr Sanford.  "You will
be placed under the third master, Mr Tugman, in his upper class, I
hope.  I must leave him to settle that.  I will send for him, and he
will take you round the school before tea-time, and introduce you to
some of the boys.  He may not be quite ready yet, so I will let Mrs
Pike, the housekeeper, show you your dormitory, and have your things put
away."

Mr Sanford was taking unusual trouble about Digby.  He rang the bell,
and the usher and housekeeper were sent for.  Mrs Pike appeared first;
Old Jack, the boys called her.  She had a stern, relentless expression
of countenance, Digby thought.  Her dress was black, with a plain white
cap, and a large serviceable apron.  There was business in her.

"Come along, young gentleman," she said, taking Digby by the arm, when
she had received the master's directions.  "It will be time for tea
soon, and I shall have to go and look after it."

She first showed Digby a large room fitted all round with lockers, or
drawers, and numbers on each.  Into this his things had been wheeled on
a truck.

"Here is your drawer, Master Heathcote," she observed.  "You will
remember the number--sixty-five.  We had a hundred and thirty not long
ago.  Here you will keep your clothes; your play-box you can have with
you in the play-room to-morrow; it can stay here till then.  Now, come
along to your dormitory.  Susan will unpack your trunk; and if there is
anything in it you want, you can have it when you come back."

All this sounded very well.  There were a dozen rooms on the first and
second floors appropriated as bedrooms; some had eight or ten beds in
them, others only three or four.  Digby was shown a room looking out at
the back of the house, with eight beds, in one of which Mrs Pike told
him he was to sleep.  There were wash-hand basins and tubs, and a drawer
for each boy to hold his dressing things.  All looked very neat and
well-arranged.  Mrs Pike prided herself on having her department in
good order.  She looked as if she could have said, "Better washed and
fed than taught at this establishment."

Digby returned well satisfied to the study, where Mr Sanford was still
reading his book.  He looked up, and was putting a question, in a kind
tone of voice, to Digby, when the door opened.  Digby looked up.  A
broad-shouldered, pock-marked man, with sandy hair and small grey eyes,
entered.  His costume, which consisted of a green coat, with a reddish
handkerchief, a many-coloured waistcoat, and large plaid trousers, did
not improve his appearance.  He threw himself into a chair, if not with
grace, at all events with ease, and observed, in an off-hand way, that
it was a chilly day--a fact about which Mr Sanford did not seem
inclined to dispute.  He looked at Digby with no pleasant expression,
and Digby looked at him, and hoped that he was not the usher under whom
he was to be placed.

All doubt, however, about the matter was quickly removed by Mr Sanford
saying--"I have sent for you, Mr Tugman, to beg that you will take
charge of this new boy, Digby Heathcote.  Examine him to-morrow, and
place him as you judge best.  I hope that he will be in the highest of
your classes, as he has been lately under a clever man, an old college
friend of mine, his uncle, for whom I have a great regard."

The usher was listening, with a look of impatience, to all this.

"Oh, I know; he's the son of Squire Heathcote, of Bloxholme," he
observed, with a laugh, which Digby understood, for he spoke exactly
with the expression of the boys who had heard him announced.

"I will take him with me, and introduce the young gentleman to his
future playmates.  I hope that he may get on well with them."

"Do, Mr Tugman, do," said Mr Sanford, languidly.  "I wish that my
health would allow me to afford greater support to my assistants,
efficient as I am bound to say that they all are."

Mr Tugman did not seem to listen to the compliment, but, with a slight
good evening, taking Digby by the shoulder, walked him off to the
schoolroom.

Digby felt somewhat like a fly in the grasp of a spider, for there was
very little of the _suaviter in modo_, however much there might have
been of the _fortiter in re_, in Mr Tugman's proceedings.  They passed
a large glass door, guarded on both sides by wire-work.

"These are your future companions," he said, opening it, and pointing to
a wide-extending gravel space at the back of the house, which Digby
guessed was the playground.  Though it was growing dark, the boys were
still there; but all he could see was a confused mass of fellows rushing
about, hallooing, and shouting: some with hoops, against which their
sticks went clattering away incessantly; others driving, with whips
cracking and horns tootooing; some were running races; others playing
leap-frog, or high cock-o'-lorum; indeed, nearly every game which could
make the blood circulate on a cold winter's evening, had its advocates.
From the darkness, and from the state of constant movement in which they
all were, there appeared to be double the number of boys Mrs Pike had
mentioned.

"Well, what do you think of them?" asked Mr Tugman.

Digby said, "That he could form no opinion from the slight view he had
of them."

"Not badly answered," observed Mr Tugman.  "Now I will show you the
schoolroom before they come in, and select a desk, so that you may make
yourself at home at once."

Going down a few steps, Digby found himself in a large and lofty room,
or hall, lighted by lamps from the ceiling, with rows of desks across
it, and two large fire-places at the sides towards each end.  At one end
was a high desk, and there were five or six smaller desks, intended for
the masters, down the hall, flanking the rows, as the sergeants stand in
a regiment, drawn up on parade.  The hall ran at right angles to the
back of the house, by the side of the playground, and had evidently been
built for a schoolroom.

Mr Tugman took Digby to the further end, where his own desk was, and
lifting up several in one of the last rows, he came to one which was
entirely empty.

"Seventy is the number, is it not?" he asked, going to his own desk.
"Now, take this key, lock up whatever you like.  I dare say you have
some good things in your play-box, or valuables of some sort; put them
there, and make yourself at home."

Scarcely had these arrangements been concluded, when a bell rang, and
the boys came trooping into the schoolroom.  He was fairly caught, like
a mouse in a trap.  At first he was not perceived; but it was soon
buzzed about, that the new boy was there, and he was quickly saluted
by--

"How do you do, Master Digby Heathcote, son of Squire Heathcote, of
Bloxholme Hall?"

"Pretty well, I thank you, young gentlemen," answered Digby, determined
not to be outdone, and resolved to put a bold face on the matter.  "I
shall be happy to make the acquaintance of any of those who will favour
me with their cards, and an account of their own family, parentage, and
connexions."

"He is a pert little chap," observed one.  "Plenty of impudence in him,"
said another.  "A plucky little cock, though, I think," remarked a
fourth.  Opinions among the bigger fellows varied considerably as to his
character, and how he was to be treated.

Seldom is there a school without a bully, and Grangewood was no
exception to the rule.  The chief bully was a big, hulking fellow,
called Scarborough.  He remarked, "That there was a great deal to be
taken out of the little cock, and that he purposed having the
satisfaction of taking it."

"I'm in the habit of giving small change, remember that," said Digby,
who had overheard the remark--as it had been intended he should.

Scarborough turned white with rage on this being said; and would then
and there have inflicted condign punishment on the daring upstart, had
not the bell rang, and the boys been called to order by Mr Yates, the
head usher, who, entering Mr Sanford's desk, assumed command in the
evening.  He only deferred doing so, however, till another opportunity.

The little fellows, and those about Digby's own age, listened with eager
and surprised ears to what he said; and at once looked upon him as one
likely to prove their champion.  In a very short time he had made a
number both of friends and foes; but, curiously enough, he knew none of
them by sight, as he could only distinguish the countenances of the few
who sat immediately about him.  They being mostly about his age, and
having suffered from the tyranny of Scarborough, were inclined to side
with him.

As, of course, he had nothing to do, he was able to sit quiet, and
observe what was going forward.  Each of the masters called up a class
to say lessons, while the rest of the boys had to prepare them for the
following day.  Books were got out, and a murmur of voices was heard
through the school.  A stranger coming in might have fancied that
everybody was very studiously employed; but although all had piles of
books before them, on a closer inspection he would have seen, as Digby
did, that very few were really learning their lessons; some were
drawing, others playing games, draughts, or spillikins, or dominoes, and
some even had cards; many were cutting out things in card-board or wood,
making models of carriages, and houses, and boats.  It had become the
practice of the school at that time of the evening, especially as they
would have another half hour in the morning to look over the lessons
they were then supposed to be learning.  Digby was surprised, and
thought that he had come to a very slack sort of school.  He was not
particularly shocked, for he could not fancy that what everybody was
doing was so very wrong.

The classes had just been dismissed, when another bell rang, and
everybody hurried away out of the schoolroom.  Digby, not knowing what
was to take place, sat still.

"Come with me," said a boy, who looked rather smaller than himself.  "I
am delighted with the way you answered that big bully, Scarborough.
Keep up to it; don't give in, and I will stick by you.  We are now going
into tea.  I will find a place for you near myself, and tell you all
about the fellows."

Digby was very glad to fall in at once with a friend; and he at once
accepted the little boy's offer.

"My name is Paul Newland," said his new companion, as they followed the
rest into the tea-room.  "I am rather older than I look, for I am not
very big; but I intend to grow some day.  You will be in my class, I
suspect.  I'm at the top of it, and expect to get into the sixth soon;
that is, under Mr Moore, who is a very quiet sort of fellow.  You must
try and work up along with me.  There is nothing like working, I find.
I came in at the lowest, and got up three classes in one half year.  But
this is the tea-room.  Come along; don't mind what fellows say."

This was not an unnecessary caution, for Digby found himself saluted as
he went along by the boys turning sharply round and saying--

"How do you do, Master Digby Heathcote, son and heir of Squire
Heathcote, of Bloxholme Hall?  Welcome to Grangewood House, most noble
young Squire."

It need not be said how Digby felt, but he fortunately kept his temper;
nor did he lose his appetite in consequence of these sarcastic
greetings.

"I wish that John Pratt had not announced me in that way.  Of course it
would make a capital joke for the fellows," he said to himself, as he
took his seat at the table.

The boys near nodded to him, holding up their mugs of tea with mock
gravity.

"Your health, Master Digby Heathcote, son and heir of Squire Heathcote,
of Bloxholme Hall," was repeated over and over again, in various tones.

Digby was determined not to be put out, whatever was said or done.  He
lifted his mug to his lips--it was filled with a liquid he thought most
execrable--some one had evidently put salt in it; but he pretended not
to have discovered the bad taste.

"Young gentlemen," he said, holding up his mug, and mimicking the tones
of those who had spoken to him, "I beg to return you my thanks for the
honour you have done me.  When I know your names and places of abode, as
well as you appear to know mine, I can address you more personally.  As
neither tea nor salt-water are the proper things to drink to the health
of one's friends, I will make a libation with the contents of my mug
into the slop-basin, which you will receive as a mark of the honour I
wish to do you."

Digby was sorely puzzled to pump up all these words.  He had never made
so long a speech in his life before; but the importance of the object
inspired him; and a large slop-basin standing before him to receive the
dregs of the mugs, put the idea into his head.  He had been afraid at
first that he should have been obliged to drink the salted tea.

His young friend, Paul Newland, inquired why the boys addressed him as
they had been doing; and he then explained that it was owing to John
Pratt's desire to give him importance; instead of which, as is often the
case, a contrary effect had been produced.

"I need not tell you not to mind, for I see you don't," observed Paul.
"Everybody has to go through something of the sort when they first come,
and some remain butts all the time they stay.  That sort of thing
matters very little if a fellow keeps his temper, and pretends not to
notice it.  They soon grow tired of a joke when it produces no effect.
They bothered me a great deal when I first came, and called me Paul Pry,
and Paul the Preacher, and Little Bank Note, and Pretty Poll, and Polly,
and all sorts of names, and they played all sorts of tricks; but I
pretended not to mind, though I was really very much annoyed; and, at
last, they gave it up, and it is only occasionally that I now get
addressed in that way."

Digby thanked Newland for his good advice, and promised to follow it as
far as his temper would allow.

"Oh, that is the very thing; you must keep in your temper," answered
Newland.  "I don't mean to say that you may harbour revenge, or that you
intend to pay them off another day.  Far from that; that would be
horrid, you know, not like a Christian or an honest Englishman; but that
you may disarm them, make them ashamed of themselves, or tired of their
stale tricks or jokes."

Paul went on talking in a quiet, low tone, while Digby was munching a
thick slice of bread-and-butter.  He sent up his cup for some more tea
by one of the attendant maid-servants; but was told by Mrs Pike, who
had seen him throw the first away, that he could have no more.

"But some salt had got into the mug, marm; and salt with tea is not
pleasant, I assure you," exclaimed Digby, feeling very indignant,
notwithstanding Newland's exhortations and his own resolutions.

"We only use sugar at Grangewood House, young gentleman," answered Mrs
Pike, looking angrily at the bold assertion of the new boy.  "Those who
throw their tea away can have no more.  That is the rule here; is it
not, Mr Tugman?"

The third master, thus appealed to, replied, with what he intended to be
a bland smile, though it had very much the look of a grin--

"Certainly, marm, certainly.  Master Digby Heathcote, of Bloxholme, has
been brought up with rather extravagant notions, and has been accustomed
to take salt as well as sugar in his tea."

This sally produced a grin from the surrounding boys who heard it; for
the big fellows considered him a great wit, and a jolly cock, a
character he had striven to obtain from some, that he might the more
easily manage, or rather bully, the rest.

"Never mind," whispered Paul; "wait a moment till no one is looking, and
take mine.  I'll get some more presently, if I want it.  Mrs Pike likes
me, as I never bother her.  She'll like you some day, if you are quiet
and well-behaved.  She's not ill-natured at bottom, but her temper gets
put out very often.  She almost manages the school now, since Mr
Sanford has been ill."

Digby accepted the offer; and Newland soon afterwards got a fresh and
ample supply for himself.  Perhaps Mrs Pike winked at the arrangement,
after she had duly asserted her authority.

Digby had been accustomed to very different tea arrangements, and did
not admire those he now saw.  The tea was made in great urns, and there
were huge jugs of milk, or, as the boys declared, of milk-and-water, and
basins of brown sugar.  The mixture was served out in blue and white
mugs, which did duty as beer mugs at dinner; while trays, with slices of
bread-and-butter, were continually being handed round.  Of the latter,
the boys might have as much as they wanted; and their tastes were so far
consulted, that they might have milk-and-water without tea and sugar, if
they wished for it.  They sat at table chattering away, or playing
tricks with each other, or reading, if they liked, provided the books
were not on the table, till the bell again rang, and they hurried back
into the schoolroom.

Other classes were now called up, and more lessons were supposed to be
learned; but nothing was very strictly attended to at that time in the
evening.  In summer, they would have been out in the playground.  The
boys in those classes which had said their lessons were allowed to amuse
themselves as they liked at their desks, either in reading, or writing,
or making some of the nine hundred and ninety-nine curious articles
which boys are wont to manufacture.

As Digby had nothing to do, Newland lent him an interesting book--"The
Swiss Family of Robinson"--which he had never seen.  He was soon
absorbed in it, and not at all inclined to be interrupted.  The
shipwreck he had suffered enabled him to realise that described in the
book.  At length, however, he heard somebody speak to him.  What was
said he did not understand.  He turned round, thinking it was Newland;
but, instead of him, he saw a much older, taller boy, with a fair
complexion, and greyish eyes.  At the first glance, he did not like the
expression of his countenance; and he was not over-pleased at being
interrupted.

"What do you think of our school?" said the boy.  "Some of the fellows
have been trying to make fun of you, but you do not mind that.  I hate
that sort of thing myself.  We have got some tremendous bullies here.
I'll point them out to you, and show you how to avoid them.  Where do
you live?"

Digby told him.

"I live in Berkshire, some miles away from here, though.  My name is
John Spiller.  I manage to get on very well with the fellows, and I'll
put you up to a thing or two which will be of great assistance to you.
Now, about your play-box; you haven't unpacked it yet, I suppose?"

"No," said Digby; "not yet."

"All right.  Don't till I can help you, or you'll have everything
carried off by the fellows," observed Spiller.  "While you are looking
to see who has got hold of a knife, or a saw, or a cake, or a boat,
others will be carrying off a pot of jam, or a Dutch cheese, or some
gingerbread, or a pot of anchovies, or a parcel of herrings, or--"

"Oh, there's no fear of that.  I have not got half the things you speak
of," said Digby, rather inclined to laugh at the collection of valuables
his box was supposed to contain.

"What have you got, then?" asked Spiller, point blank.

Digby, who had not suspected his new acquaintance's object in
introducing the subject, was going to tell him, when Paul Newland came
back to his desk.

Spiller did not see him.  He started, and seemed very much annoyed when
Paul put his hand on his shoulder, and said, quietly--

"Well, what do you find that he has got?"

Spiller looked big enough to keep in awe a dozen such little fellows as
Paul Newland, but he seemed in no way inclined to pick a quarrel with
him.

"Nothing that I know of," he answered.  "We have been merely talking
about things in general; have we not, Heathcote?  It will soon be
bed-time, or I should like to have heard more about your part of the
country.  I'll get you to tell me to-morrow.  Good-night, Heathcote."
Saying this, he moved away.

"I'm glad I came back when I did," sail Newland.  "That fellow is the
most notorious sponge in the school.  We call him Spongy Spiller.  He
makes friends with all the new fellows, and sticks like a leech to them
as long as they have a piece of cake, or a lump of barley-sugar, or
anything else in their boxes, which he can get hold of.  His desk is
full of things, which, he says, were given him, but which he has, in
reality, sponged out of fellows.  About your box; unless there is
anything in it which won't keep, just don't open it for a day or two,
till you are able to judge for yourself a little of fellows.  To-morrow
is a half-holiday, and you will better see what the different fellows
really are."

Digby said he would take his advice, for he felt sure that he might
trust him.  Both Newland and Spiller were strangers, but, when comparing
the two, he did not for a moment hesitate as to which was most worthy of
his confidence.

Just then the bell rang; and Paul told him they were to have prayers.
He expected to see Mr Sanford; but instead, Mr Yates entered the
head-master's desk, and saying that he was too unwell to come into the
schoolroom, read a very brief form of prayer, while the boys knelt up on
the forms at their desks.

Digby was not surprised to find very little attention or reverence, for
though Mr Yates read slowly, in a loud voice, there was a something in
his tone which showed that the devotional spirit was not there.

The moment prayers were over, the boys rushed off upstairs.  The lamps
were put out by a man in a fustian coat, whom Digby had not seen before.
Digby found Paul by his side.

"Come along quickly, or you will have an apple-pie bed made," he said,
in a low voice.  "You ought to have been out one of the first."

"Never mind," answered Digby, laughing.  "I know how to unmake it fast
enough.  I have done such a thing as make one myself."

"Very well, then," said Paul, "we need not hurry.  You are to sleep in
our room, I find.  I have gone through a good deal from the fellows
there, though they now let me alone.  You'll not have a pleasant night
of it, I am afraid.  I wish that I could help you."

"You can help me," exclaimed Digby, who had been been silent for some
time, as they went upstairs.  "I have made up my mind how to act.  Is
there no one who would support you?"

"Yes; I think that there is one, Farnham.  He is a good sort of fellow,
but he generally sides with the majority.  However, if he sees anything
done in a spirited way, it would take with him."

"Then I'll do it," cried Digby.  "There are no very big fellows who
could thrash me easily."

"There are two or three a good deal bigger than you are; and I don't
think that you could thrash them."

"I don't mind that," answered Digby.  "They would find me very tough, at
all events, if they attempt to thrash me.  You go into the room first;
it won't do to let it appear as if we had formed any plan together."

Newland seemed highly delighted at Digby's proposal, and ran on into the
room, which was at the end of a long passage.

Digby followed in a few seconds.  He had noted well the position of the
bed Mrs Pike had told him was to be his, so he walked straight up to
it.  Susan had placed his night-shirt and night-cap on the pillow.  A
lamp, with a tin reflector, placed against the wall, over the wash-hand
places, gave light to the room.  Most of the boys had already got their
clothes off, and had tumbled into bed; they were laughing, and talking,
and cutting jokes with each other.

Paul had begun to undress.  Presently one of them, directly opposite
Digby's bed, put up his head, and said--

"Ah, Master Digby Heathcote, son of Squire Heathcote, of Bloxholme Hall,
how are you?"

"That's me," answered Digby, firmly; "I'm very well, I thank you, in
very good condition, and not bad training; and I am strong, though not
very big.  And now I'll tell you what I am going to do: I am going to
make my bed, to see that it is comfortable, and then I am going to say
my prayers, as I always do; and I beg that you fellows will not make a
row till I have done.  I shall not be long; then I intend to undress,
and get into bed.  After the candle is put out, if anything is shied at
me, or any other trick is played, I'll tell you what I intend to do.  I
have fixed upon one of the beds, with a fellow in it, and, big or
little, as he may be, I'll pay him off in such a way that he will be
glad to help me another night in keeping order.  I am not a greenhorn; I
just want you to understand that."

There was something in Digby's well-knit figure, sunburnt, honest
countenance, and firm voice, which, as the boys, one after the other,
popped up their heads to look at him, inspired them, if not with respect
for him, at all events with a dislike to bring down on their heads the
chastisement he threatened.  The bigger boys, though they might have
thrashed him in open daylight, could not tell what means he might have
for attacking them; and those of his own size saw that he was very
likely to thrash them, even on fair terms, if they attempted to try
their strength together.  No answer was made; so, whistling a merry
tune, he set to work: first, he carefully and systematically undid his
bed, which had been made into an apple-pie, and smoothing down the
sheets, and tucking in the feet, he said--"Ah, now that will do."  Then
he knelt down by the side of the bed, and most earnestly and sincerely
repeated the prayers he had been accustomed to use.  Several attempts
were made to disturb him.

"Shame, shame!" cried Paul Newland from beneath the bedclothes.

Another voice said, "Shame!  Let him at least say his prayers."

Digby very soon rose from his knees.

"I am much obliged to those who cried shame," he said, firmly.  "It is a
shame.  It is an insult, not to me, but to Him to whom I was trying to
pray.  To morrow night I shall know most of the voices of our fellows,
and I am resolved not to be interrupted.  Now, make as much row as you
like; I can sleep through it all; but you remember what I said."

Digby began undressing, and stowing his clothes away at the head of his
bed, so that they could not be removed, jumped into bed.

Just then an usher entered, to put out the light.  It was the French
master, Digby concluded, for one or two of the boys exchanged
salutations with him, calling him Monsieur Guillaume.  "Bon nuit, bon
nuit--va dormir, mes enfants."  There was a great deal of chattering and
noise as he went out.

"Remember," said Digby, in a firm voice; and then put his head on the
pillow.

"Oh, he's a crowing little cock," cried some one.  "A regular bantam,"
observed another.  "I wonder if there are more like him at Bloxholme
Hall?" exclaimed a third.

But Digby made no answer.  Similar remarks were made for some minutes,
but he kept silence, till his persecutors began to grow sleepy.  One
after the other they dropped off, and so did he, at last; and never
slept more soundly in his life.

If all right-thinking boys would exercise the same firmness and
resolution as Digby did on this occasion, the better disposed would soon
gain the upper hand, and there would be much less bullying and general
bad conduct than is too often to be found even at the best-regulated
schools.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

DIGBY'S TRIALS AND TRIUMPH--THE BULLY AND THE SPONGE--A DINNER AT
GRANGEWOOD--DIGBY'S FIGHT WITH BULLY SCARBOROUGH--A FRIEND IN NEED.

Digby had gained a great triumph--more important, probably, than he was
aware of.  That first night of his arrival at Grangewood had been the
turning-point of his school life.  Had he yielded in the first instance,
been terrified by threats, lost his temper, shown the white feather in
any way, he would, insensibly, have become like one of the rest--
leavened with their leaven, addicted to their bad habits, a thoughtless,
idle little tyrant; too likely, on entering the world, to become a
useless profligate.  As it was, in consequence of his conduct, he had
inspired some of his new companions with admiration, and others with
respect; while even those of baser nature felt that he was likely to
prove a person with whom it would be disagreeable and inconvenient to
contend; and so it became impressed on their minds, that it would be
better to let him alone.  Of course, these feelings were only shared
among the boys of his room.  He had still to make his way in the school.
Like a knight-errant of old, there were many giants for him to
overcome; many castles, surrounded by enchantments, to enter, before he
could hope to establish himself on a proper footing in the school.  Of
course he did not think all this; he only felt that he had altogether
acted in a perfectly satisfactory way, and was contented, and pretty
happy.  He slept soundly, but was the first to awake in the room.  He
jumped up, put on some of his clothes, said his prayers, and then went
to the wash-hand basin, and began sousing his face away in the cold
water, as was his custom.

Slowly the cold, grey light of a February morning drew on.  A bell now
sounded loudly through the house, to rouse the inmates from their
slumbers.  The other boys awoke, and lifted up their heads to see how
the new boy looked by daylight.  They saw him standing in his trousers
and shirt, with his sleeves tucked up, his face glowing with the cold
water, his hair brushed back, and scrubbing away at his hands in a basin
full of lather, with an energy which showed that cold water had no
terrors for him.  His well-knit frame, broad chest, and muscular little
arms, appeared to considerable advantage.  Some of the boys, who were
unable to appreciate higher qualifications, could not fail to feel
respect for these; though Digby had not thought about them, nor was he
aware of the strength which he possessed, which, for his size, was
considerable.  He brushed his hair with the same sort of energy with
which he had washed his hands, and then went to the drawer which had
been awarded to him, to put away his things.  He was rather disgusted
than amused at seeing the dawdling way in which the boys put on their
clothes, and the mode in which they dabbed their faces over with the
cold water, and hurriedly dipped their hands in, though some only half
dried them, after all.  Paul and Farnham were an exception to the rule.

"Well, Heathcote, I hope that you have slept soundly in this, to you,
strange place," said Paul, in his usual brisk tone.

"As sound as a top.  It is all the same to me, when I have my head on a
comfortable pillow.  It takes a good deal to keep me awake," answered
Digby, in the same tone.  "I sleep fast, and get it over the sooner.  I
hate to be long about what can be well done quickly."

"So do I," answered Newland.  "Slow coaches are apt to break down as
often as fast ones."

Another bell now rang loudly, and the boys all hurried away downstairs
to the schoolroom.  Digby accompanied Paul.  He felt several fellows
push against his back, to throw him downstairs, but he was on his guard;
and one of them, to the fellow's surprise, he lifted up on his
shoulders, and, without difficulty, carried him down to the next
landing-place, where he bumped him pretty hard against the wall.
Another, not seeing what had occurred, tried the same trick.  Digby,
putting his hands suddenly behind his back, seized him, and had carried
him down, holding the boy's arms tight, and was beginning to bump him,
when he felt his own ears pulled, and a voice exclaiming--

"Vat you do dat for?  Is dat de way you new boy is going to behave
here?"

Digby guessed that it was Monsieur Guillaume, the French master, who was
thus addressing him.

"He tried to push me downstairs, sir; and I wish to show him that two
can play at most games of that sort," answered Digby, quietly.

"Ah, I do not tink you say de truth, you," exclaimed the French master,
angrily.  "He is a good boy; my _protege_; speak French well.  Put him
down, I say.  Tommy Bray, come here; you not hurt, my poor boy?"

Digby put Tommy Bray on his feet, who accompanied Monsieur Guillaume
into the schoolroom, where Paul and Digby followed.

"The Frenchman has given you a fair specimen of himself.  He is the most
uncertain, fickle little fellow I ever met.  He bullies all the little
fellows except his favourites, or _proteges_, as he calls them, and
makes up to the older ones, who are big enough to thrash him, if they
like.  He spites those who don't learn French, because he is not paid
for them.  He is always trying, therefore, to get new pupils.  However,
I do not believe that he is really bad tempered when he has his own way.
He has been soured by loss of property; and having to live out of la
belle France.  And do you know, Heathcote, I really do believe that an
usher at a school like this, when no one is exactly master, and the big
boys have it much their own way, has a good deal to put up with."

"I should think so," observed Digby, as they entered the schoolroom.

They went to their desks.  Mr Yates read prayers, and though everybody
was cold and hungry, lessons began.

Mr Tugman had not yet had time to examine Digby, so he sat at his desk
reading the Swiss Family of Robinson, which he confessedly preferred to
lessons.  Each master had a class up before him; there were some crying;
a good deal of caning on the fingers--a particularly disagreeable
punishment, in cold weather especially--and a considerable amount of
blundering and hesitation.  A few quick runs round the playground would
have saved a great deal of suffering and discontent; but Mr Sanford
never went out in the morning, and it never occurred to him that the
blood in his pupils' veins would circulate more freely with a little
brisk exercise, and give vivacity to their intellects.

Breakfast was at last announced by the constant sounding bell.  It
varied little from tea, except that those who liked bread-and-milk might
have it.  It was served out in large basins.

Digby, however, preferred the tea.  He kept his eye sharply on his mug,
to see that it was not tampered with.  He observed Tommy Bray take a
pinch of salt, and then ask for a cup of tea, though he had a basin of
bread-and-milk before him.

"Tommy Bray," cried Digby, in an undertone, "you had better not.  Susan,
bring me that mug of tea, please.  He does not want it."

Susan, remembering John Pratt's half sovereign, brought Digby the tea
intact; and Tommy was disappointed of his trick.

Several other boys, however, commenced their jokes on the new comer as
soon as their spirits had revived a little, by their appetites being
satisfied; but none of those in his room attempted anything of the sort;
and it soon became whispered about that the new boy was a plucky little
cock, and that his arm had a great lump of muscle in it, as big almost
as Scarborough's, which he was so fond of exhibiting.

After breakfast, the boys went into the playground.  It was cold enough
to make everybody wish to run about as much as they could.  Hoops were
the order of the day; and Farnham came up and asked Digby if he had got
a hoop.

"No; I never trundled one in my life, but I will try," he answered.  "I
did not know that gentlemen used them.  I have only seen the boys in the
streets at Osberton play with them."

Farnham thought that he was supercilious in his remark.  "Oh, then, I
suppose you would not condescend to trundle a hoop?" he exclaimed,
turning away.

"But I would though, gladly," cried Digby; "if you can lend me one, and
just show me the knack of the thing, I shall like it very much."

Farnham was satisfied, and brought him a good strong hoop which he had
wished to offer him.  His first attempts were not very successful; but
he saw how Farnham pressed the stick against the hoop rather than beat
it, and kept his eye on it and not on his stick, watching every
deviation from the direct line, so he was soon able to drive it along at
a fair rate, with tolerable satisfaction to himself.

Soon after returning into school, Mr Tugman called him up to undergo
the threatened examination.  It was not very severe, and he managed to
get through it pretty well.  He had a vague suspicion, indeed, that the
usher himself was not an over-ripe scholar.  He found afterwards that
his suspicions were correct, and that poor Mr Tugman had to get up
every night the lessons he had to hear his head class the following day.
No wonder that his temper was not over-sweet, and that he was awfully
afraid of the big boys, lest they should find out how much more they
knew than he did.  He was placed in Paul Newland's class, but as it was
Saturday he did not go up with it; so that, with Paul's assistance, he
was able to prepare his lessons for Monday.  He determined to do his
best, and set to work to get them up thoroughly.

Boys in a private school have an advantage over those at a public one.
If they wish to study during school hours they can do so, under the eye
of the masters, without any fear of interruption.  In a public one,
excellent as the system of most of the great ones is, the boys, working
in their own studies with one or two companions only, are liable to the
practical jokes and tricks of various sorts of the idly disposed, who
may have resolved to prevent them altogether from getting up their
lessons, and, of course, then it is very difficult work to do so.
School was over at half-past twelve, and then for a short time they all
rushed into the playground.

Spiller was on the watch for Digby at the door.  "I am glad to find you,
Heathcote," he said, in a soft, quiet voice.  "You remember what I told
you about your play-box last night.  If you come with me I will show you
where to put it, and what to do with the things you have got."

"Shall I call him spongy to his face, and so show him that I know his
character?" thought Digby.  "No; I don't like to do that, it's scarcely
right.--Thank you, Spiller," he said aloud, "I am not certain that I
shall unpack my things to-day.  I have nothing that won't keep, I
believe; and I want to become better acquainted with fellows before I
cut up my cake."

This was a poser for Spiller, who had never before received such an
answer.  He looked very hard at Digby, to try and find out whether he
knew anything about his character; but Digby had said simply what he had
intended to do, and Spiller was completely puzzled.  Still he was
determined to try again.  "Most fellows like to open their boxes at
once, to give away some of the good things they have got, to prove their
generosity," he observed.  "A fellow can't expect to have friends unless
he does something to win them, you know.  I only tell you this as a
hint, just that you may know how to act."

"I don't fancy buying friends in that way," answered Digby, laughing; "I
should not trust much to a fellow who said he was my friend for a piece
of cake or a spoonful of jam.  If anybody else offered him a bigger
piece, or more jam, he would very quickly leave me.  I like fellows not
for what they have got, but for what they are; and I want to be liked
for the same reason myself."

"Oh, I see that you are a radical," said Spiller, sneeringly; "those are
regular chartists' sentiments; but they won't go down with me, let me
tell you."

Digby burst out into a regular fit of laughter.

"Well, I never should have supposed that it could be considered radical
to like a fellow with a number of good qualities who was poor, in
preference to a bad fellow who happened to be rich.  I must repeat it,
that I hope to find friends among the boys here, whom I shall like for
their good qualities."

"As you please," remarked Spiller; "of course I can't force you to do as
I recommend; but if, on thinking the matter over, you change your mind,
come to me and I will help you.  Those are my principles; I'm not
ashamed of them, let me tell you."

What Spiller meant by his principles, Digby could not tell.  Perhaps he
might have explained more clearly, but he saw Paul Newland approaching,
and he knew that he must abandon his designs for the present on Digby's
strong box.

Digby told Paul how he had managed Spiller.

"Capital," exclaimed Paul.  "I wish that we could get rid of all the
disagreeable fellows in the school as easily as you have, for the
present, of Spiller; but I want to tell you to be on your guard against
that big bully, Scarborough.  The fellows were talking about you just
now, and mentioning the plucky way in which you behaved last night;
instead of saying, as I am sure he ought, that you acted very rightly,
he sneered and vowed that he would very soon take the pride out of you."

"Let him try, if he wishes," answered Digby, not particularly alarmed,
for he never had been imbued with any especial dread of big fellows; his
fearlessness, however, in reality, arose from his want of experience of
the evil they had the power of inflicting; "if he knocks my nose off, he
certainly will prevent me from feeling proud of my face, but otherwise,
I don't see how he can very well alter my character."

Paul thought Digby a perfect hero, and wished for the time when he would
be big enough to be cock of the school.  While they were speaking,
Scarborough lounged by with his hand on the shoulder of another fellow,
very much of his own character.  There is a great similarity in the look
of all bullies, not so much in figure as in expression of countenance;
some are big, burly fellows, like Scarborough, others are tall and thin.
Of course, they all have more or less physical strength; some are dark
and some are fair, but they one and all have an inexpressible
resemblance to each other.  Scarborough passed close to Digby, and as he
did so he put out his foot, and tried to trip him up; but Digby observed
the action, and, guessing the intention, jumped off the ground, and
escaped even being touched.  He felt inclined to make some remark, but
he restrained his temper, and left the bully without any excuse for
picking a quarrel with him.  Scarborough strolled to the end of the
playground, and when he came back, he stopped, and looking hard at
Digby, said--

"I suppose you are the new fellow who is going to do such mighty things
in the school--well, I want you to understand that I shall not allow you
to play any of your tricks with me; remember that."

Digby looked at the bully very steadily; he felt that he ought to answer
him, if he could do so, quietly, so he said--

"I don't know of any tricks which I wish to play; but if you will just
tell me what you don't like of what I have done, or have been said to
have done, I will do my best not to offend you."

"It's very well for you to talk in that way," said the bully, disarmed
for the moment; for even he could not venture to thrash a fellow without
some pretext; "just remember to keep up to it, or you'll find yourself
in the wrong box with me, my lad, that's all."

With this ambiguous threat, the bully moved on.

"Well done again," exclaimed little Paul, who had been trembling with
alarm all the time for the result of the meeting; "he won't let you off
without many another attack; but manage him as you have already done,
and I do not think that he will annoy you much."

The moment the dinner-bell rang, there was another general rush into the
dining-room.  This was that the first comers might secure the best
pieces of bread and mugs of beer, arranged up and down the tables.
Digby found only half a mugful of beer and a very small piece of bread
remaining to his share; but he was not at all put out, and made no
remark, resolving another day to be earlier in the field.

Grangewood School had existed for a number of years, and things were
carried on there very much in the old-fashioned style in most respects.
Mr Sanford was a very good scholar and a gentleman, but he had no
talent for the economical arrangements of a school.  It is a favourite
saying with some people, that boys are better fed than taught.  He had
resolved that, as far as he had the power, they should be well taught;
but it did not occur to him, that it was incumbent on him to see that
they were well fed and well looked after.

Mrs Pike was, fortunately for him, a conscientious person; but her
notions were somewhat antiquated.  She wished to attend to his
interests, and she was not aware that they and those of the boys were
identical; that is to say, that if the boys were thoroughly looked
after, well fed as well as well taught, brought up as Christians and
gentlemen, the school would flourish; and that if the boys were badly
and coarsely fed and treated, and neglected, the school would go
down-hill.

Digby was very hungry; the novelty of his position did not spoil his
appetite.  He turned his head in the direction of the table at which
Mrs Pike, supported by Mr Yates, usually sat to superintend the
serving out of provender, to see what was coming.  Some huge dishes
piled up with large white balls were brought in, and plates, containing
half of one of the balls, were in succession thumped down before each of
the boys.  Digby turned over the mass with his fork to discover the
contents, but finding nothing but a mass of dough and a strong smell of
beer, he put it down; and when one of the maid-servants came by, held
out his plate, and quietly said, that he would rather have meat before
pudding.  The maid-servant, who was not Susan, or she might have
whispered a bit of good advice, seized his plate, and going up with it
to Mrs Pike, said in a loud voice, so that all might hear:--

"The new boy, Master Digby Heathcote, marm, says that he likes meat
before pudding."

Mrs Pike cast a withering glance at Digby; such a piece of
insubordination had not been met with for a long time to her authority.

"We here give pudding before meat, young gentleman, if it suits us," she
exclaimed, in a dictatorial tone; "if you do not choose to eat such
excellent pudding as this is, you can have no meat.  Take it back to
him, Jane."

Again the plate was placed before him.

"You had better eat it," whispered Paul Newland.  "It is very good yeast
dumpling, and you will like it when you are accustomed to it."

"With all my heart," answered Digby, laughing.  "I did not want to make
such a fuss about the matter.  I like duff very well, only I really
thought that they had forgotten to put the meat on my plate."

"Don't touch the stuff, Heathcote, take my advice," exclaimed Spiller,
in a low tone, across the table.  "You have got plenty of good things in
your box to feed on, I dare say.  All new fellows have; and there is
nothing like holding out against injustice."

"Thank you," said Digby, pretty well guessing Spiller's drift.  "I had
rather not lose my dinner.  Very good stuff, though; capital duff; a
little sugar and wine would make it perfect."

He ate it all up.

"Here, Jane," he exclaimed, holding out his plate; "say that I find it
very good, and should like some more."

Jane, who was pretty well up to the tricks young gentlemen were capable
of playing, looked suspiciously at his pockets, and then under the
table, to ascertain whether he really had eaten up the dumpling; but
even she was assured by his ingenuous countenance, and so she went up to
the head table, and said that Master Digby Heathcote liked the yeast
dumpling and wanted some more.

Mrs Pike looked, also, very suspiciously at Digby.

"I'll give him some," said Mr Yates, who was assisting in serving out
the provisions.

Mrs Pike, with feminine tact, would have given a small piece, not to
disgust him; but he, whether with malice or from thoughtlessness, put
very nearly a whole one on the plate.  Some brown sugar, however, was
added by Susan on its way to Digby; and when he got it, he liked the
taste so much, that although not aware that Mrs Pike's sharp eyes were
on him, he sat manfully to work; and yeast dumpling being of a very
compressible nature, he demolished the whole mass in a very short time.

It did occur to Mrs Pike's economical mind that it was fortunate the
new boy liked pudding, or he would be very expensive to feed.

Digby felt rather thirsty, so he drank up his beer.  That was rather
sour; but he was not easily put out, and he felt already very much as if
he had dined.  When a huge dish of salt beef, with carrots and turnips,
did come, he could do but little justice to it; but he was grateful to
Mrs Pike's delicate attention, when, in a tone of which he did not
discover the sarcasm, she pressed him to take a second helping.

He begged to have some more beer, though; but was told that one cupful
was the allowance, and so had to quench his thirst with water.

"We have pudding first only twice in the week," observed Paul.  "I have
got accustomed to it, and rather like the variety, though I thought it
odd at first.  One day we have yeast, and another suet-dumpling.  Then
two days we generally have pease-soup, or some fellows do call it
pease-porridge.  It is rather thick, to be sure, and on those days we
have porter instead of beer.  I seldom after it have an appetite, even
for Irish-stew or toad-in-the-hole.  On Wednesdays, Mrs Pike lets a
cake-man come just before dinner with gingerbread and lollipops; and
many fellows would rather spend their money on his grub than in any
other way; and they are not so hungry on that day, and don't care so
much what they have.  We call that scrap-and-pudding day, because we
have hashes first and rice-dumplings afterwards.  Mrs Pike, on that
day, always talks about the immense sum she spends on currants and other
groceries for the school."

However, enough about eating; Paul and Digby were philosophers in their
way, and had no wish to make grievances out of trifles.

Mr Sanford himself would have been horrified had he known the light in
which the domestic arrangements of his establishment were regarded; and
it told among the elder boys with very injurious effect to his
interests.  Some of the best left; and their parents, knowing him to be
a gentleman--cruelly, certainly--did not explain the real cause, and so
he let things go on as before.  The worst remained; those whose friends
knew that they were not likely to get on well anywhere, and perhaps
would not believe their statements.  They, of course, leavened the rest.
The younger ones, by degrees, took up their notions and habits; and a
first-rate school had not only diminished in size, but had deteriorated
sadly in quality, by the time Digby went to it.

He, of course, did not find this out.  The state in which he found
things he supposed to be inseparable from schools in general, and he was
disposed to make the best of them.  However, he had resolved not to give
in to the bad ways of others, when he once saw that they were bad.  But
he had yet to learn how insensibly a person may be drawn into the bad
habits, and a bad style of thinking and speaking, and may adopt the
erroneous notions of people among whom he lives.  Digby was in a much
more perilous position than he was aware of.  He was of a dauntless
disposition; he had always been accustomed to rely a good deal upon
himself, and he was anxious to do his duty.  More than that was wanted
to preserve him.  He had at home a pious mother and sisters, who never
failed to offer up their prayers for his safety.  Surely those prayers
were not uttered in vain.  It would have been doing, also, great
injustice to the Squire of Bloxholme to say that he forgot his son,
though those who knew him best might have supposed that his prayers
might have been of a somewhat inarticulate nature.  Still, certainly,
there was fervency and sincerity in whatever ejaculations he uttered.

The subject is too serious to be touched on lightly.  Only thus much may
be said, that if more parents prayed for their children, and more
children for their parents, the sacred ties of that relationship would
not, as now is too often the case, be loosened or rudely torn asunder;
and there would be more good parents and good children than are to be
found.

Dinner was over; the boys rushed into the playground; neither the yeast
dumplings nor the salt beef stuck in their throats.  Most of them were
hallooing, shoving against each other, trying to trip up those nearest
them, slapping each other's backs, and, indeed, playing every
conceivable trick of the sort.

Digby was soon overtaken by Scarborough.

"Well, jackanapes, how are you?" said the latter.

Digby ran on without taking any notice of the address.

"Did you hear me speak to you?" exclaimed the bully, catching Digby by
the collar of his jacket.

"I heard some one speak to somebody, but I could not possibly tell that
you meant to say anything to me.  There are big monkeys as well as
little ones.  You might have been wishing to say something to a fellow
of your own size."

Digby had shaken himself clear of the bully, whose face was livid with
anger, and stood facing him.

Scarcely were the words out of Digby's mouth, than he received several
tremendous boxes on the ears.  He felt a choking sensation in the
throat; he had never before been struck unjustly.  All the pugnacity in
his disposition rose at once into his well-rounded knuckles, and
springing forward before the bully had a conception of what he was about
to do, he had planted two such heavy blows in his two eyes, that they
flashed fire in such a way, that he could scarcely see what had become
of his small opponent, while he himself absolutely reeled back with
pain.  When he did open his eyes, there stood Digby, his feet firmly
planted on the ground, his fists clenched, his teeth firmly set,
undaunted and ready to do battle, yet well knowing that he must
inevitably get the worst in an encounter with so big an antagonist.  He
had not provoked the quarrel; he had justice on his side, and he was
encouraged by the shouts of a number of boys, and cries of "Bravo,
little cock!"  "Well done, new boy!"  "Give it the bully!"  "Stand to
your colours!"  Digby felt like a martyr to a great cause.  If
Scarborough had been angry when merely spoken to, he now became furious
at being thus unexpectedly bearded by so small an antagonist.  If the
new boy escaped without a severe punishment, he might become a most
troublesome opponent in the school.  He rushed at him, uttering terrific
threats of vengeance, intending to seize him by the collar and to throw
him down, and to bite his ears and kick him at the same time, _more
tyranni_.  Digby leaped nimbly aside, and hit his right arm a blow which
made it tingle from the shoulder to the tips of the fingers.  This,
however, only put off the chastisement which was sure to be inflicted,
where his antagonist was so vastly superior in strength.

It is not necessary to repeat the abusive epithets and oaths which flew
from Scarborough's mouth.  Hitting Digby a terrific blow with his left
hand, which knocked off his cap, and kicking at his legs, he brought him
to the ground, when seizing him by the hair, he began to knock him about
most unmercifully on the head and shoulders.

"Shame! shame!" cried many of the boys together; "a new fellow, and down
on the ground.  Shame, bully! shame!"

"Why don't some of you come and help me?" cried Digby, in the interval
of the blows, and trying to get on his legs.

"I will," cried little Paul Newland, who had only just come into the
playground, and had run up to see what was happening; "who'll follow me?
Farnham, you will, I'm sure."

"That I will," cried Farnham, all the generous emotions in his heart
rising up; "he stood up bravely for us younger fellows.  He is a gallant
little cock.  To the rescue! to the rescue!"

Farnham was a good-sized fellow, though young.  A number of other boys,
inspired by his address, joined him; and, without further concert, they
made a bold dash at Scarborough, who little thought that they would
really attack him.  Some clung to his legs, others seized his arms, and
clung round his neck and pulled him backwards, so that Digby had time to
jump to his feet, and to shake himself to ascertain that no bones were
broken.

"Thank you, thank you," he exclaimed: "I am not much the worse for the
way that big coward behaved; but take care, he will be hurting some of
you; I don't mind if he was to set on me again; I dare say I can stand
his knocking about as well as anybody."

The boys who had so gallantly come to Digby's rescue had not thought of
that, and Scarborough, struggling desperately to free himself, had
thrown some of them off, and was in his fury striking, right and left,
blows heavy enough to have maimed any of them for life; but at the same
time he had his eye on Digby, on whom he was evidently longing to wreak
his vengeance.

By this time most of the boys, big and little, were drawn round the
scene of the contest.  Scarborough had his friends, who urged him to
annihilate his small opponents, but did not think it necessary
themselves to interfere.  Bad as were many of them, Digby's gallantry
had been remarked by one of the elder boys in the first class, who,
though not so big or so old as Scarborough, was a person not to be
trifled with.  His figure was light, active, well-knit, and his
countenance had a mild expression, at the same time that it possessed
signs of peculiar firmness and decision.

Scarborough had freed himself from all those who surrounded him, except
from Farnham and Newland, who were in vain trying to prevent him from
once more seizing Digby, when Henry Bouverie, the boy spoken of, stepped
up, and placing himself between Scarborough and Digby, exclaimed:--

"You shall not touch him; while I remain at this place, I will not, if I
can help it, allow so thoroughly un-English and cowardly acts to be
committed.  That young fellow only came yesterday, and you must needs
run foul of him and half kill him with your brutality to-day.  Whatever
others may think, I know that the sooner you leave the school the better
it will be for all of us."

Scarborough was still advancing.  Bouverie lifted up his fists.

"You shall light me and thrash me before you again touch that young
fellow," he exclaimed, in a voice which made the bully draw back.
"Remember, Heathcote, if he strikes you, you are to come and tell me;
and any of you fellows who came to Heathcote's help are to do the same."

The bully stood irresolute.  Should he at once fly at Bouverie and
attack him.  He was certainly stronger; he might thrash him; and if so,
he should not only keep him in check, but be able to tyrannise over all
the other boys as much as he liked; but then he looked at Bouverie, and
observed the calm, firm attitude he had assumed.  The reverse would be
the case if he failed.  His prestige, already having suffered a severe
blow from Digby, would be for ever gone.

When Bouverie had first spoken, Farnham and Newland had let him go, and
though he struck at them as they did so, they escaped without much
injury.  Some of the bigger boys, who did not like Bouverie, shouted
out:--

"Knock him over; down with the radical!"

But still louder rose a shout of approbation from Farnham, Newland, and
the boys with more generous feelings who had sided with them, in which
Digby heartily joined.

"Bravo, Bouverie, gallant fellow! we'll stick by you."

"Thanks to all those who so express themselves," said Bouverie;
"recollect, however, it is only by being kindly affectioned one to
another, and by supporting each other in everything that is right, that
you can hope to resist tyranny and oppression.  Mark me, also,
Scarborough; I have no wish to set the fellows on against you, but I
detest bullying, and if you continue the system you have been pursuing,
I shall do my very utmost to help the younger fellows, and to oppose
you.  No more shouting, pray.  I'm for a game at Prisoners' Base.  Here,
Farnham, you lead one side, I'll take the other.  Any fellows who will
oppose bullying may join; no others, remember."

Digby was surprised at the rapid and systematic way in which the
arrangements were made.  Farnham was evidently pleased at being chosen
by a big fellow like Bouverie to play against him.  Of the mysteries of
the game he himself knew nothing; still he longed to join in it in spite
of his sores and aching bones.  Bouverie at last looked towards him and
invited him to join.

"All right; I thought he would," said Paul Newland, who was standing
near.

"But I have never played at it before," said Digby.

"Oh, never mind that!  I'll show you what to do; and I am certain you
can run fast, and will play well," urged Paul.

"Yes, he'll play," he added, turning to Bouverie.  "You know,
Heathcote," he continued, "you must be up to everything and ready for
everything--in the way of games, I mean.  When you know the ways of the
school, the younger fellows will look to you as a leader.  They want
one, and I know that you will make a good one."

These remarks naturally could not fail to fire Digby's ambition.  He
forgot all about his bruises, and ran eagerly to the spot marked out for
the game.  Paul explained it to him.  The base was at the bottom of the
playground from one side to the other.  This was divided in two.  The
prison was at a pump which stood in the middle of the ground--a great
luxury in hot weather, but a terror to the little boys in cold, for they
were sometimes placed under it and unmercifully soused.

"Now, you see," said Paul, "one fellow starts out on one side, then
another on the opposite, who tries to touch him.  If he succeeds, the
first goes to prison; but if the first gets in, the second may be
touched by a third, and himself have to go to prison, and so on.  The
next aim is to get those on our own side out of prison.  This is done by
running to them and touching them, but in so doing, a fellow is liable
to be touched by one of the opposite side, and have to go himself to
prison.  If, however, he rescues a prisoner, he may not be touched on
his return to the base.  To my mind, it is the best running game there
is."

Digby thought so likewise, and entered with great zest into the game.
He soon understood it as clearly as if he had played it all his life.
Once Bouverie himself was touched, and had to go to prison.  Nearly all
their side were out chasing, or being chased.  Digby rushed back to the
base, and then, quick as lightning, started out again, and though
pursued by a fast runner, he succeeded in rescuing his leader in gallant
style.

"Well done, new boy! well done, small one! well done, Heathcote!" was
shouted by several on his side, and Digby felt very proud of his
success.  Whenever one of his party was taken prisoner, he was the first
to dash out to his rescue; and if he saw one pursued, he was instantly
in chase of the pursuer.  From this time he entered warmly into all the
games which were played, and was soon invariably chosen to take an
active part in all those which did not require practice.  Some required,
however, both practice and instruction, and for those he always found
ready instructors in Farnham and Paul Newland.  He practised away,
however, so zealously, that he very soon played, even in games of skill,
almost as well as those who were teaching him.  He not only listened to
what they told him, but he attentively watched them and all the best
players, and saw how they did things, and their various tricks and
devices.  He did not forget also to observe, occasionally, the bad
players, that he might see how it was they managed so soon to be put
out.  Cricket, of course, had not yet come in; in that capital game,
likewise, he was anxious to become a proficient.  He had been initiated
at Mr Nugent's in single wicket, so he could bat and bowl pretty well,
but he knew very little of the game at large.

From the style of his previous education, he found himself also in
lessons somewhat behind many boys younger than himself, though he knew a
great deal more than they did of other things, and of affairs in
general.

However, he had no reason to complain after his measure had been taken
by his schoolfellows of the position he occupied in their estimation.
Whether this was for his ultimate advantage remained to be seen; one
thing was certain, it demanded of him a considerable amount of temper,
judgment, discretion; and not only good resolutions, but strength to
keep them.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

THE PLAY-BOX AND ITS CONTENTS--A SCHOOL SUPPER--DIGBY LEARNS FRENCH, AND
WISHES THAT HE DID NOT--DIGBY RISES IN HIS SCHOOLFELLOWS' ESTIMATION.

Digby's first half-holiday had been full of stirring events.  As the
evening drew on, his hunger reminded him of the contents of his
play-box.  He had not entirely lost his taste for jam and honey since
the days when he had made free with Mrs Carter's preserve pots; and it
was with some anticipation of pleasure that he proposed to Paul Newland
to examine his treasures.

Paul was a thorough schoolboy, so he willingly agreed; but suggested
that it would be wise to keep the jam till after tea, when they might
have bread to eat with it.  "I have two bottles, and we will pour our
tea into them," observed Newland.  "Cold tea is very nice, you know; and
we will stow away as much bread as we can in our pockets.  I have some
gingerbread and a bottle of ginger-beer remaining; and we shall have a
good supply for a feast."

"But I dare say that I have plenty of things more, for I did not see
what was put up; only I know that the housekeeper was told to fill my
box as full as it could be," answered Digby.  "And do you know, I should
like to ask some other fellows to join us.  Farnham, certainly, and all
those who came to my help when that bully attacked me; or, if you like,
all who were playing with us just now.  I can easily get some more pots
of jam, if I want them, I dare say."

"Capital, capital!" exclaimed Paul.  "But I don't think it will do to
have as many fellows as you propose.  I'll just ask those I think you
would really like; but would it not be wiser to see what you have got
first.  I have known boxes broken open, and when the owners have gone to
them, they have found only lumps of paper instead of cake, and empty jam
and honey pots."

Digby's heart sank somewhat on hearing this; and with no little
trepidation and doubt he accompanied Paul to the play-room.

It was a good-sized place, and had been originally used as a schoolroom;
a passage led to it from one end of the present schoolroom.  A fire was
always lighted there on half-holidays in the winter, so that it was a
very favourite resort in the evenings, especially in bad weather.  It
was not the thing to read there, nor were running games allowed.  An
exception was made in favour of high-cock-o'-lorum and leap-frog, which
might be played at the end furthest from the fireplace.  There were
tables, and benches, and a few strong wooden chairs and stools; and
shelves all round on which the boys might keep their boxes, and other
treasures, boats, or little theatres, or museums, or anything they were
making.

Digby found his box standing by itself, on a spare shelf.  The lock
looked all right; he produced the key, and opened it--nothing had been
touched.

"All right, then," exclaimed Paul.  "We ought to get Farnham and two or
three other fellows to stand by as guards, or we shall have Scarborough
pouncing down on us like a hawk, or Spiller insinuating himself like an
eel, and carrying off the spoil, as they will call it.  I have seen
those two fellows, before now, half clear out the box of a fellow who
had just come from home before he has been able to give anything to his
friends.  There they both come; I thought so.  Shut it again, and hide
the key in your pocket."

"I say, though, don't you think we might ask Bouverie to come to the
feast?" exclaimed Digby, as Paul was running off.  "Is he above that
sort of thing?"

Paul stopped, and considered.

"He likes jam and cake, I dare say; but I don't think he would take
yours, lest it should be said he helped you for the sake of what you
have got," he answered.  "I'll ask him in your name, though; there can
be no harm in doing that."

When Newland was gone, Digby sat down near his box.  Scarborough stood
at one end of the room, eyeing him, and considering whether or not it
would be worth while to indulge himself in the satisfaction of attacking
him, and compelling him to give up some of the contents of his box.

Spiller, meantime, also, was playing with a ball, while he reflected how
he might most easily obtain the object of his wishes, and get hold of
the eatables he doubted not the new boy had brought.  Still, as he felt
sure that Newland must have warned Digby against him, he knew that he
must exert the utmost circumspection and caution.  Once more he glided
up to Digby, and sat down near him, taking out his knife, and shaping a
piece of soft pine into a boat.

"You are not fond of this sort of thing?--it is too sedentary for you, I
have no doubt," he observed.  "It suits me, as I am not fond of games.
I shall be glad to make you a little vessel some day.  Perhaps you have
got some tools, now, in your box.  I could do it much better with them
than with a knife."

Digby very nearly laughed in Spiller's face.  As to tools, he had never
even possessed a hammer; and besides, his eyes having been opened to his
companion's character, the object of his remarks were perfectly evident,
and he had resolved not to be humbugged by him.  However, he said,
"Thank you;" for Digby never forgot to be polite even when he lost his
temper, which was not often.  "But, to tell you the truth, I do not care
much about models and little things.  I like sailing in a real vessel,
or pulling in a real boat, or swimming, or riding; and, therefore, any
such thing would be thrown away on me.  Still, if you do anything for me
when I ask you, I shall be very glad to repay you with a piece of cake,
or some jam, or anything I may have which suits your fancy."

This was plain speaking; but Spiller was in no way offended.  His wages
had been settled, and now he had to consider how he might most
conveniently win them.  Still his mouth watered for the sweet things;
and he wished that he could get paid beforehand.

Digby felt inclined to go to his box, to cut a piece of cake, and to
throw it to him, as people sometimes do a penny to an importunate
beggar, whom, in their hearts, they believe to be an impostor; but he
restrained himself.

Just then, Paul Newland, Farnham, and three or four more boys, of whom,
though they were younger than himself, Spiller had an especial dread,
made their appearance at the door of the play-room.  He knew that his
chance of getting anything just then out of Digby was gone, so he
sneaked away to a distance, where he sat down to watch their
proceedings.

"I have arranged everything," said Newland.  "I first gave your message
to Bouverie.  He is much obliged, but cannot join our party.  Then I got
Farnham and the other fellows to keep guard while you open your box: and
Bouverie told me that if anybody interferes with you, one of us is to
run and let him know, and that he will come to your assistance."

"He is a right capital fellow, then," exclaimed Digby.  "It is all the
better that there should be a few bullies and blackguards, that the good
qualities of others may be the better discovered."

Paul answered that he thought Digby's philosophy was very good in
theory; but that practically, he would rather dispense both with bullies
and blackguards, as he was constantly a sufferer from them.

At length, all arrangements being made, Digby's box of treasures was
opened, and found to contain even more good things than even he or any
of his friends had anticipated.  Everybody at Bloxholme who could think
of what boys liked best, had made some suggestion which had been
adopted, and the wonder was, that so much had been stowed away in so
small a space.  Every crevice had been filled with little and big pots
of jam, and marmalade, and honey, a tongue, a Dutch cheese,
chocolate-paste, anchovies, a pie without gravy, and a fine plum-cake
were only some of the eatables,--then there was a hammer and nails, and
gimlets, and screws, and a hasp-knife, and a writing-case, and a number
of other useful things; enough, as Paul declared, to enable him to set
up house by himself, if he wished.

They had only time to put back about two-thirds of the things, which
were all they could get into the box, the rest having to be distributed
between Newland's and Farnham's boxes, before the bell rang for tea.

One of the party, William Ranger, Digby heard him called, was easily
persuaded to stay away from tea, to watch that no burglary was attempted
during their absence.

Tea was quickly over; the bottles were filled, and the bread-and-butter
stowed away in their pockets, and then, more hungry than ever, they
hurried back to the play-room.

Ranger told them that he had placed himself on a bench, pretending to be
fast asleep, and that scarcely had they gone, than Spiller glided into
the room, and went up to the well-filled box.  He had begun to work away
at the lock, when up he had jumped and sung out--

"You had better not."

Without making any answer to this, Spiller had sneaked away again.  In
another minute, who should come in but the bully Scarborough, with a
hammer in his hand.  He walked straight up to the box, and finding that
it was locked, was about to strike it with all his might, when Ranger,
though trembling for the consequences to his bones, again cried--

"You had better not."

The words acted like magic, even on the notorious bully, and he betook
himself out of the room as fast as he could, having also, probably, lost
his share of the provisions in the tea-room.

The supper-party were now able to assemble in peace and tolerable quiet;
and a very merry party they were.  The supper service was not exactly
uniform, for each person had brought his own plate; some were of wood,
and others of earthenware, or iron, or tin, while cups differed as much
as did knives, and forks, and spoons.  The pie, and the tongue, and the
cheese, and the cake, and the jams, were all pronounced excellent, and
though all the party eat as much as they wanted, helped out with their
own bread-and-butter, it was agreed that there was enough for two or
three more feasts, helped out a little, perhaps, with some of the
contents of the cake-man's basket.  The beverages were, however, of a
nature almost too simple for dishes so highly flavoured; the strongest
was ginger-beer, the others were lemonade, cold tea, milk-and-water, and
water alone.  It were well if none of them had ever indulged in anything
stronger.

It would be absurd to say that the way in which Digby dispersed the
eatables in his box did not contribute to make him popular; at the same
time, they would not have done so unless his own personal qualities had
been calculated to win the regard of his schoolfellows.  Ever cheerful,
honest and upright, and bold and fearless, he quickly gained the kindly
feeling of all the better boys in the school.  With the others, he
almost instinctively avoided associating.  One of his greatest
annoyances was Tommy Bray, who seemed never to lose an opportunity of
trying to put him out of temper.

Digby, as he had promised, wrote very frequently to Kate.  He had not
altogether a satisfactory account to give of the school; still, he was
happy--very jolly, he described himself--and there were plenty of
fellows he liked, more or less, and he was learning a number of new
games, and he was getting on very fairly with his lessons.  Kate wrote
even oftener to him, and told him all she was doing.  Among other
things, she said that she was learning French, and it would be so nice
to be able to talk with him, and that she had persuaded papa to let him
learn if he wished it, and so that he must, and she had enclosed the
necessary written permission.

Digby had seldom differed with Kate in any of her propositions, so, in a
fatal moment for his peace, he took up the order, and was at once placed
in Monsieur Guillaume's junior class.

The French master was highly pleased, and complimented him much on the
wisdom of his resolution.  All went very well at first; he managed to
get through the rudiments about as well as the ordinary run of boys, but
his advance after this was very slow, as Newland used to tell him, it
was all goose-step with him.  Somehow or other he could not manage to
twist his thoroughly English mouth, so as properly to pronounce the
French words.  In vain the master made him repeat them over and over
again.  He knew the meaning of a good number of phrases and words, but
when he came to express himself, Monsieur Guillaume vowed that he could
not understand a word he said.

"That is because he speaks in one way, and I speak in another, I
suppose," observed Digby.  "But I don't see why my way is not the best;
it is the English way, and I should be ashamed of myself if I did not
consider everything English better than anything French."

There was a twinkle in Digby's eyes as he said this which showed that he
was not altogether very serious.

"You remind me, Heathcote, of a story my father tells," observed
Newland.  "An old shipmate of his, a Master in the Navy, was taken
prisoner by the French early in the war, and had to remain at Verdun for
several years.  At last he was liberated, and was very soon again
afloat.  It was necessary, on the occasion of some expedition being
dispatched, to send an officer who could speak French.  The Captain
knowing that the worthy Master had been many years in France, sent for
him to take the command of it, explaining the reason why he had done so.

"`I speak French, do you say, sir?' he exclaimed.  `No, sir; I am
thankful to say that I never learned a word more of their lingo than I
could possibly help.  I, a true-born, patriotic Englishman!  I should
have felt that I was disgracing myself if I had.'"

"I am not so bad as that," said Digby.  "I should like to learn if I
could; but I have no aptitude for languages, I suppose."

Monsieur Guillaume had, however, resolved that his boys should not only
learn, but speak French; and all his pupils were ordered to speak French
at certain hours, either in the playground or anywhere else, except when
they were up saying their lessons.  To compel the boys to talk, several
marks were distributed to those who spoke best; and they were to give
them to whatever boys they found speaking English.  Those who had them
at the end of the day had a task of several lines of French poetry to
learn by heart, an occupation Digby especially hated.  Still the decree
had gone forth, and Digby was continually having an odious piece of
wood, with "French Mark" burnt on it, slipped quietly into his hands.
Nine times out of ten, Tommy Bray was the person to give it him.  How
Tommy so often became possessed of it seemed a mystery, for he spoke
French with more ease than most of the rest, and was not likely to have
been caught, thoughtlessly, talking English.

Paul at length found that he would go up to a fellow he knew had got the
mark, and address him in English, when, of course, it was given to him.
He would then not try to pass it till the evening, when he would
continually hover about Digby till he found him tripping.  At last
Digby, in desperation, would get hold of one of the marks early in the
day, and keeping it in his pocket, give, as he said, free play to his
native tongue.  Of course, the system did not increase his affection for
French, or for Monsieur Guillaume, or Tommy Bray, in particular; yet,
after all, it was a less annoyance than many to which he and some of the
best boys were subjected by the masters.

Mr Sanford's illness increased, till he was unable to appear at all in
the schoolroom; and yet, as he still retained his post as head-master,
points were supposed to be referred to him which never were so referred;
and various grievances which sprung up remained, day after day,
unredressed.

Mr Yates became more pompous and dictatorial than ever, and not only
took to caning, but assumed the power of flogging, which even Mr
Sanford had long disused.

Mr Tugman, too, bullied more than ever; he pulled and boxed the boys'
ears, and hit them over the shoulders and knuckles with a cane, which he
always kept by his side.

Monsieur Guillaume imitated his example; and Mr Moore, the second
master, was the only one who continued to treat the boys in the quiet,
gentlemanly way he had always done.

One of the punishments Mr Yates had invented was to lock up a culprit
in a dark room for several hours together, without food.  This was
especially hated; and some of the boys declared that they would sooner
leave than submit to it.  As it proved, it was calculated to produce
very bad effects in the school.  These punishments, and the unusual
harshness of the masters, instead of introducing more order and
regularity into the school, had a very different effect, and never had
it been so disorganised and in so unsatisfactory a condition.

This state of things had begun to grow up before Digby's arrival.  He,
of course, did not, at first, discover it, and was not of a disposition
to trouble himself much about the politics either of the school or of
the nation at large.  In a few months he found himself holding not only
a good position in the school, but looked upon as a leader in many
games, and in all expeditions and amusements.

Spring was advancing, and, as the days were long, the boys were allowed,
according to an established custom, to go out after dinner, on
half-holidays, and to make excursions to a distance.  They were obliged,
however, to say where they were going, and to report themselves on their
return, when they were expected to give an account of their proceedings.
In the summer, when cricket had come in, the privilege was seldom taken
advantage of, as most of the boys spent their time in the cricket-field.
Several, however, even then, who did not care about cricket, would get
away from it; some to fish, others, who had a fancy for the study of
natural history, to collect insects and other creatures; and some,
unhappily, and the number was increasing, to assemble in spots where
they were not likely to be observed; then they brought from the nearest
public-house pipes, and tobacco, and beer, and often spirits, and they
would spend the whole afternoon smoking, and drinking, and talking, as
they called it, like men.  Often, miserable, ignorant fools, they talked
on subjects which no gentleman, no Christian man, worthy of the name,
would even touch on.

Digby knew of these assemblings, and of the orgies which took place at
them, but had resisted all the invitations he received to join them.  Of
course, he scarcely saw the evil in its true light, likely to result
from them; health injured; habits of intemperance gained; the mind
contaminated and debased with vicious ideas; and time, which ought to be
spent either in health and strength-gaining exercise, or in study and
preparation for the real business of life, squandered.

Bouverie, whose good opinion Digby had gained, spoke to him on the
subject.

"I tall you this, Heathcote," he said, "when I was a little chap, I knew
of a good number of big fellows who carried on much as these are doing.
They thought themselves very fine fellows, and so did I.  Had I not had
a friend, who warned me to keep free from them, I might have done the
same.  There were about a dozen of them; the youngest was only two or
three years older than I was.  They all grew up; some went into the
navy, others the army, and others abroad, in different capacities.  Out
of the whole number, four only are now alive; and of those four, one was
dismissed from the navy, and another from the army, for drunkenness, and
conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman; a third is a confirmed
invalid, with a broken constitution; and one only, whom I meet
occasionally, has given up his bad practices; and he never fails to say,
that he hopes I do not imitate the bad example he set me, as I may be
sure that the momentary satisfaction, I may fancy I should obtain, would
make but a poor amends for all the suffering and wretchedness of mind
and body I should be sure to reap in the end, and which he had gone
through.  It never occurred to me that a little smoking and drinking,
and merely loose conversation, could do a fellow much harm.  One might,
I thought, easily give up the first, and, of course, with grave people
and with ladies, one wouldn't talk loosely.  But from what my friend
told me, and from what I found out myself, I now know the consequences
are sure to be bad.  With regard to drinking, I tell you how it is.
Beer, spirits, and wine are stimulants, and excite the lining of the
stomach into which they are poured.  Nothing so quickly acquires a bad
habit as the stomach, because it has not got reason to guide it, and is,
besides, full of sensitive organs.  When once it is stimulated--that is,
excited--it wants to be excited again; and so one says, I must give it a
little more drink.  If it has been excited by brandy, or rum, or gin, it
generally longs for the same thing.  It acts on the mind, remember, much
more powerfully than the mind acts on it.  If it gave pain at once,
people would not drink; but it excites in a pleasant way, and the
excitement goes on increasing till the brain is confused, and a person
does not know what he is about.  When the excitement goes off, while the
nerves are returning to nearly their former state, then comes the pain.
These nerves, understand, run all the way from the coats of the stomach
up into the brain.  They do not return quite to their former state, at
all events, for a long time, and so have a longing for more excitement;
and thus if a person can get spirits, or wine, or beer, he pours some
down his throat to gratify them.  The more these sensitive nerves are
excited, the more stimulating liquid they desire; and thus, acting
through the brain, the more they make their owner wish for.  So he goes
on increasing the frequency of the times in which he gratifies them, and
the quantity of liquor he pours down, because that which at first
gratified them will do so no longer.  This goes on till a man becomes
what is called a confirmed drunkard.  The younger a person is, the more
sensitive are all his organs, and therefore the more likely he is to
establish an irritable state of stomach, if he stimulates it in any way.
Now, these fellows don't actually get drunk, but their stomachs will
not long be content with the quantity of liquor they pour into them; and
so they will go on increasing till they not only get drunk, but become
miserable drunkards, on whom no one will depend, and who will very soon
sink into early graves, loathed and despised by those who once cared
most for them.  There, Heathcote, I have told you something I know about
the subject, not in a very learned way, but it is the truth.  I might
tell you a great deal more.  Smoking, I own, is not nearly so bad; but
common tobacco irritates the lining or coats of the stomach, and makes
it wish for drink; and so I object to it.  And I'll tell you what, also,
bad conversation, such as those fellows indulge in, irritates and
excites the mind, and so acting on the body, excites all the lower and
grosser passions, and keeps out pure and ennobling thoughts.  You must
understand, Digby, that the mind cannot stand still.  I am afraid that
it has a tendency to becoming debased; and it requires all a person's
resolution, energy, ay, and prayers too, my boy, to soar upwards to the
condition it is capable of enjoying.  The only safe course is to keep
out all bad thoughts, or even light thoughts, and to resist every bad
propensity from the very first, and to keep away from all temptations,
from all examples, from everything, indeed, which may encourage them.  I
can tell you that so pernicious, so terrible are the results of the
habits in which those fellows indulge, that I would far rather see my
younger brother in his grave than know that he had become their
companion, and was running the risk of being contaminated by them.
There, Heathcote, I will not talk any more about the matter now.
Perhaps I have said even more now than you can understand.  Trust me,
however, that it is the advice I would give my youngest brother, or any
boy in whom I might feel a deep interest."

These remarks, whether entirely understood or not at the time, did make
a deep impression on Digby's mind; and he thanked Bouverie for speaking
so unreservedly to him.  "But how did the other fellows, of whom you
were speaking, die?" asked Digby.  "Perhaps they had reformed, or would
have reformed, had they lived."

"What they might have done no mortal can venture to say," answered
Bouverie, gravely.  "They had not reformed, but, on the contrary, had
become worse and worse, and one and all of them died miserably.  The
deaths of some were laid to the climates to which they went; but had
their constitutions not been completely weakened, they might easily have
withstood the attacks of the climate.  Two died from excessive drinking,
another was killed in a drunken brawl, and a fourth broke his neck when
unconscious of what he was about, while two more died miserably,
horribly.  I need not tell you now; but they had their own vicious
propensities alone to blame."

"I believe all you have told me, and how I wish that you would speak to
others in the way you have done to me," exclaimed Digby.  "What shall we
do when you go, Bouverie?"  As he spoke, the tears came into his eyes.

"Remember what I have said to you; and let the right-thinking boys keep
as much as possible to themselves," answered Bouverie (he was going at
the end of the half).  "I will let you know where I am, and you must
write to me and let me know how things go on, and I will write to you,
and give you my advice.  I shall depend a good deal upon you, remember.
Already many fellows look to you as a leader; you must do your best to
keep that position, not only by your daring and activity, but by your
moral conduct, by your steadiness and general good behaviour.  As a
proof of it, Farnham and others have been arranging a game of
`Follow-my-leader' for to-morrow, across the country somewhere; and,
after discussing a number of fellows to act as leader, some much older
than you are, they unanimously fixed on you."

Digby could not be but pleased at this, especially from the importance
Bouverie attached to the circumstance.  That very evening, Farnham,
Newland, Ranger, and several other fellows came up to him.

"Heathcote, the weather is still cool, and we have all been talking of a
grand Follow-my-leader run;" began Newland.

"Sibley, who was one of our best leaders, is lame, and can't run, and
Cooper won't, and the fellows say that Hume, and Freeland, and Rolls,
and Elmore don't give sport enough, and funk to go over difficult
places, and can't jump half the brooks about us, and so it was agreed
that the chances are you would make a better leader than any of them."

"That's not exactly it, Newland," interposed Farnham; "you know that
when some one asked you to lead, you said, that from the way Heathcote
had followed the last time we had a run, and from the capital manner in
which he plays all the games he learns, that you were certain that he
would prove about the best and most plucky leader we have had in our
time.  Then, Heathcote, say you will accept the office, and settle the
matter."

"I can't make a speech, but I will undertake to do my best; and all I
ask is, that if I tumble into a ditch and can't get out by myself,
somebody will help me," answered Digby.  "How many will join, do you
think?"

"Twenty, at least," said Farnham.  "Good sport is expected; because they
all say a plucky fellow like you is certain to lead into new and
difficult places."

"As I said before, I'll do my best, and just think over to-night the
line of country I will take," said Digby.  "I know it pretty well by
this time, but I will consult you two fellows about it when I have
formed a plan, and see if you approve of it."

So it was settled.

"We'll just take care, though," he added, "lest that little sneak, Tommy
Bray, does not manage to slip his vile French mark into my hand the last
thing.  The only safe plan will be to hold my tongue altogether; then he
can't say I am talking English or bad French."

The rest undertook to keep a watch over Tommy, and to draw him away
should he be found near Digby.

The precaution was not useless, for he was very soon afterwards seen
hovering about, his little sharp eyes twinkling with malice, as if he
had made sure of his victim.  The rest, however, sung out "Johnny
Jackass, Johnny Jackass,"--a name which had lately been bestowed on him,
while others "he-hawed--he-hawed" in concert, and in a way which
prevented him from fixing on any of the party with whom, from their
being in the French class, he could leave the mark.  Besides, had he
given it to one of them, he would have been prevented handing it to
Digby, which it was his object to do.  First one addressed him--not in
very good French, certainly,--then another; and the others pretended to
be talking English a little way off; but by the time he got up to them
they were either making dumb show, or chattering away in what was
considered French.  Then he would suddenly turn back to Digby, but would
find him poring over a book, and as dumb as an adder.  Thus the evening
slipped away; and after the bell rang for prayers, the mark could not be
passed.  It was known that Bray did not really get any imposition for
having the mark, and thus all escaped.

Digby, very naturally, could scarcely sleep at first going to bed for
thinking of what he would do the next day.  He resolved, at all events,
that he would show he was worthy of the honour done him.  Each boy was
furnished with a strong ash leaping-pole, about ten feet long, and this
added very much to the excitement and interest of the sport, because by
their means wide and deep streams could easily be crossed, walls scaled,
and difficult hedges got through.  At last Digby recollected having
taken a walk over a wildish part of the country, three or four weeks
before this; and on thinking over the impediments to a direct course
across it, he resolved that that should be the line he would follow.
This done, he fell asleep.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

A GRAND GAME OF "FOLLOW MY LEADER"--DIGBY LEADER--FARMER GROWLER PROVES
FAR BETTER THAN HE LOOKS--ARRIVAL OF JULIAN LANGLEY--A CONSPIRACY
HATCHED.

The next morning broke with the promise of a very fine day, and as the
sun rose, the weather improved.  Digby was early on foot, and set to
work at once on his lessons, that he might run no chance of being turned
back, and having to keep in to do any task which might be set him, and
which he fancied Monsieur Guillaume or Mr Tugman would be too happy to
impose.  Both tried hard to find him tripping, but entirely failed.
School was over.  Dinner was rapidly got through, and Digby and his
followers hurried out to prepare for their adventures.  They all had on
their cricketing dresses of white flannel, with dark blue jackets over
them--light blue ribbons were on their hats, and short streamers of the
same colour at the upper end of their poles.  Altogether they looked
very neat and fit for work.  As they were dressed in flannel, and all
their clothes would wash, they did not dread the consequences of a
tumble into a muddy ditch or a deep stream.  Digby was distinguished as
leader by having a red and white ribbon added to the blue streamer at
the end of his pole.  They all assembled in the playground ready for the
start.  Scarborough looked at them with an envious eye, and would have
liked to have spoiled their sport--so would Spiller, for no one had
asked him to join; but the appearance of Bouverie, who had come to see
the start, prevented them from indulging in their bad feelings.

"All ready," shouted Digby.  "Well, then, away we go."

A gate in the side wall of the playground led into some fields.  Out of
this they all filed, Digby leading and flourishing his pole above his
head.  From the moment his followers got outside the gate they were
bound to do exactly as he did.  Now he planted his pole in the ground
and leaped as far as it would carry him--now he took a hop, skip, and a
jump--now an eccentric turn on one side or the other--now he bolted
through a hedge, and ran at full speed along a road till a practicable
gap appeared in another hedge with a field on the right: into this he
leaped, and made his way towards a high mound whence a fine view could
be obtained of all the country round.  A broad ditch intervened--that
everybody knew.  There was a plank bridge some way down, and it was a
question whether he was going to make for it, but he had no such
intention.  He reached its sedgy margin, and planting his pole firmly in
the centre, he sprang forward and cleared it with a couple of feet to
spare on the other side.  One after the other followed.  Some, the
bigger boys especially, leaped as far as he did.  Paul Newland cleared
it, and a very good leap he made for a boy of his size.  One little
fellow, however, John Nott, who always wanted to do things, but seldom
found his nerves in a proper condition when it came to the point,
planted his pole, began the leap, but trembled when half way over, and
before his feet had touched the bank down he slipped, and into the soft
mud he went.  William Ranger, who had purposely brought up the rear that
he might help any who got into scrapes, though he said that he did so to
whip up stragglers, saw what had happened, and leaping across somewhat
out of his turn, hauled up the mud-bespattered little fellow to the
green turf.

"There, roll yourself on the turf, Notty, and then, on your legs once
more, follow the rest."  He exclaimed when he had performed this act of
kindnesss, "Tally ho! tally ho!"

Away all the party went once more, till they all stood on the high
mound, flourishing their poles and enjoying the balmy coolness of the
early spring air, scented with numberless flowers of summer.  Snowdrops
and daffodils had disappeared, but primroses, cowslips, and violets
covered the grassy fields and meadows in rich profusion.  Wood anemones
were carpeting with their delicate and white pink blossoms the
leaf-covered ground in every wood and sheltered copse; and the delicate
blossoms of the stellaria were shining forth, amid herbage of every
description on all the banks and hedges, like stars in the dark sky.
The glossy blossoms of the celandine, too, in every damper spot
enamelled the turf; and the bright yellow flowers of the large water
ranunculus garnished the sides of the streams and rivulets which flowed
below them.  Sweetly, too, and cheerfully the birds sang on every bush
and tree-top with many varied notes.  The cuckoo sent forth his
unmistakeable sounds, also, from many a neighbouring hedge, always
calling loudly, and yet seeming to be so far off,--while high above
their heads was heard the joyous note of the skylark, as he rose upwards
into the blue sky, as if never intending to return again to earth.
Varied, likewise, was the landscape.  There were hills and downs in the
distance--wide fields, sloping here and there, in which the corn was
just springing up--rich green meadows, on which the cattle was enjoying
the most luxurious of repasts.  There were woods, too, and hazel copses
on the hill-sides; and sparkling streams and ponds which looked as if
they must be full of fish, and wide ditches full of tall sedges and
flowering rushes, and many other water-plants, some few of which were
already coming into bloom.  Here and there might be seen small villages
or hamlets, farmhouses, and neat cottages with rustic porches, over
which the honeysuckle or clematis had been taught to climb; pretty
little gardens--every inch of them cultivated--though the habitations
only of the poorest labourers.  The boys stood some time looking at it,
and almost unconsciously drinking in its beauties.  Digby had a feeling
that he loved such a scene dearly--perhaps he scarcely knew why it was.
He had no inclination for some minutes to dart down again into the
valley to proceed on the course he had marked out.  No one seemed to
wish to hurry him either.  He looked and looked--gazing round on every
side.

"Yes, this is England, dear old England," he cried.  "Old England for
ever.  Wherever we go, boys, never let us forget Old England, or what
she is like."

"No; nor that we are Englishmen," added Ranger.

"Old England against the world in arms!  Old England for ever!" shouted
Digby.

And that shout was repeated loudly, enthusiastically by all those true
English boys, as they stood on that hill-top; and never were those
words, thus spoken in season, forgotten, nor did the sound of that
hearty shout ever die away altogether on the ears of those who repeated
and heard it.  Had there been thousands and thousands of other English
boys within hearing, they, too, would have repeated it with equal
good-will.  Oh, may English boys never forget those lines of our
immortal poet:--

  "Come the three corners of the world in arms,
  And we shall shock them: nought shall make us rue
  If England to itself do rest but true."

  _King John_.

"After all, I am sure there is no place like the country, and no country
like England," cried Digby, waving his pole.  "But away we go once more,
boys, with just another jolly shout for the land we all love--Hurra!
hurra! hurra!"

All repeated the words, and down the hill dashed Digby, followed closely
by his companions, and in another moment he was forcing his way up a
steep bank, and through a hedge which few would have thought of
attempting.  He got through it, though, and the rest followed more
easily.  Probably the farmer who owned the field would rather they had
taken a longer way round; but certainly it did not occur to any of them
that they were doing any harm; hedges are so evidently made to be got
through, somehow or other, by boys, if not by cows.  On they went, along
the edge of the field--for wheat was coming up in it, and Digby knew
that they might do harm by trampling over that.  There was, of course, a
gate by which they might have got out of the field, but Digby scorned
gates, and it was not in the direction he was taking.  There was another
bank, though, with a still thicker hedge on the top of it than that they
had previously passed through.  Up the bank dashed Digby; but, even with
the aid of his pole, he could scarcely find footing; to get over the
hedge seemed impossible.  Strenuous were the efforts he made, though,
and numerous the times he and his followers had to jump down the bank
again.  Foiled he was determined not to be.  Casting his eyes on either
side, they fell on a young beech tree, one of whose glossy branches
hung, he fancied, within reach of the top of the bank.  Along the bottom
of the bank he ran; he climbed up it once more, but though he sprung as
high as he could, he could not reach the branch; in an instant his pole
was planted firmly against the branch; up it he swarmed, and sat perched
in the tree.  The pole was now hauled up, and the end placed on the
opposite side of the hedge; down it he went, and found himself on the
side of a wide piece of moorland, yellow with the bloom of the fern, or
furze.  The shouts of his followers showed him how much they appreciated
the feat.  A broad trench was still to be crossed, full of water.

"Not very deep, though," he thought to himself.  "Never mind; here
goes."

Down the bank he slid, and, feeling with his pole, attempted to cross;
but the water would, he found, even then, be up to his mouth, and
perhaps deeper still further on.  The weather was not yet warm enough to
make a swim pleasant; so he had to scramble along by the side of the
bank.  At last, he came to the end of the water, and then he managed to
get up the perpendicular side of a gravel bank, and, hurrying on,
reached a high gravel mound.

Paul Newland had closely followed him; he made up by resolution and
sagacity for what he wanted in strength.

The two stood together watching the rest getting over.  Some very nearly
tumbled into the pool; and they had to shout to warn them of their
danger.  Farnham soon came up to the mound; but they did not begin to
move till Ranger shouted out that all were safely over.  Then Digby once
more set off among the heather, and furze, and scattered pine-trees.
The unevenness of the ground afforded an abundant variety in the run.
Sometimes they came to deep gravel-pits, down which Digby plunged,
skirting along the pools which filled their bottoms, and then climbing
up their crumbling banks on the opposite side.  The piece of common was
soon passed; and then a copse-wood, filled with brakes and briars, had
to be passed through.  Dauntlessly, in spite of thorns and the
numberless scratches they inflicted, Digby led the way.  Shrieks and
shouts of laughter burst from the boys as they rushed on, thrusting the
boughs aside, and often letting them spring back in the face of those
who followed.  All was taken in good part; they were in too good spirits
to lose their tempers.  Once more they were in a cultivated field; it
was in a sheltered position, and the wheat was much advanced.

"Look out, Heathcote; old Growler's farm is not far off, and I shouldn't
be surprised but what the field belongs to him," shouted Farnham.

Digby was keeping along the extreme border of the field, where no wheat
was growing, so he knew that they could do no harm; and he had no
intention of cutting across it.  On he went, therefore, till he saw
under the hedge a leafy arch over a drain, and he thought that he could
pass through it.

"The sooner we are out of old Growler's property, perhaps, the better,"
he shouted; "follow me."

As he spoke, trailing his pole, he darted through the hole.  It was a
somewhat difficult feat; and he did not exactly know where he should
find himself when he was through.  He popped up his head, and found a
heavy hand clapped on his shoulder.

"Hillo, young one; what have you been after?" said the man who had
captured him, with a gruff voice.  "Why, how many on you are there?" he
added, as he watched one boy after the other emerge from the hole.
"When will there be an end of you?  You seems for all the world like
young ferrets.  Pretty mischief you've been doing, I doubt not, in my
field of young corn.  Oh, you think you're going on, do you?  Stop,
stop, my young masters.  I'm going to give you a sound good hiding,
every one on you, or else you clubs together, and pays for the damage
you have done my field."

"We have done no damage whatever," answered Digby.  "We went in at a
gap, we kept along the edge on the grass, and we came out at this hole,
as you have seen."

"I don't believe thee, young 'un," growled the farmer, angrily.  "Don't
you tell me that you didn't go straight across the young corn.  I know
what boys is made of, I should think."

"I say that I would not tell you a falsehood to save myself from a dozen
such thrashings as you would venture to give me," exclaimed Digby,
looking up boldly in his face.  "Strike away, if you like; but,
remember, you do it at your peril.  I have told you the truth."

The stout old farmer held him at arm's-length, and gazed at him
attentively.

"I do believe if I ever seed an honest English face thee has got it, and
I believes every word thee says," exclaimed the farmer, in quite a
different tone to that in which he had before spoken.  "There, now, I
only wanted to frighten thee all a bit; for I thought thee had been
doing a careless thing, and been trampling down my corn; but I sees I
was mistaken--so just come all on you to my farm, it's just close at
hand here, and there's a glass of home-made beer and some bread and
cheese, or a cup of sweet milk and some cake, I'll warrant my missus has
got, for each of you."

"We are playing follow-my-leader, Mr Growler; so if he goes we all must
go, remember," cried one of the boys.

"That's just what I wants, young 'un," answered the farmer,
good-naturedly.  "So come along, master--you'll not repent it."

So once more seizing Digby by the shoulder he hauled him off, without
any vehement opposition, towards a comfortable looking farmhouse, a few
fields away from where they then were.  The farmer was better than his
word, and bread and cheese and cake, and honey and preserves, and fresh
milk and cider, and beer and gooseberry wine, all, as the farmer's wife
assured them, made by herself at home, were placed in abundance before
them.  They did justice to the provisions, but to their credit they
drank very slightly of the fermented liquors.  The farmer and his wife
pressed them to partake of everything set before them.  Really it was,
as the good dame observed, a pleasant sight to see the twenty boys, all
in health and spirits, their cheeks glowing with the exercise they had
been taking, sitting round the large well-scrubbed oak table in the
farmhouse kitchen, and the huge cheeses and equally large loaves of pure
home-made bread, not sickly white, but with an honest brown tinge,
showing that all the best part of the flour was there, and no admixture
of alum or bone-dust.  Then how the beer frothed, and smelt of honest
malt and hops.  The profusion of honest food was pleasant, and still
pleasanter the hearty good-will with which it was given.  The dame
wanted to do some rashers of bacon and to poach them some eggs, but they
all declined her kindness, assuring her that if they eat more they could
never get through the work they had before them.

"Remember, my boys, I shall be main glad to see any of you whenever you
comes this way, and can give me a look in," said Farmer Growler, as they
rose to continue their run, and Digby was offering to shake hands with
him.

The farmer took his hand and wrung it heartily.

"I wasn't inclined to think over well of the youngsters of Grangewood
there; but since I have seen you, I tell you frankly, I likes some on
you very much.  Good-bye, good-bye."

"We might have said the same of our new friend," observed Digby, as they
got beyond hearing.  "After having known that honest, good-natured
fellow, rough as his outside seemed, I shall be inclined to think better
of some of the farmers I know, whom I've always fancied to be rather
sulky, bearish fellows.  We won't forget to pay him a visit another day,
and it will be pleasant if we can think of something to carry to him or
his wife.  But we must make up for lost time, and go ahead faster than
before, or we shall not get back till dark."

Away they all went; their meal--for neither was it luncheon, dinner, nor
tea--in no way impeded their progress.  On they ran faster than ever;
nothing stopped them.  At last they came out near a village.  Right
through it they went, much to the astonishment of the inhabitants, who
hurried out of their cottages, to see the young gentlemen running like
mad down the street.  A meadow was on one side.  Over a paling and a
widish ditch Digby jumped, and along the meadow he ran, knowing full
well that a broadish stream was to be found at the bottom of it.  By
this time a number of spectators had collected.

"It must be done," thought Digby; "follow who can."

He planted his pole in the middle of the stream and cleared it with a
bound--shouts from the villagers showing their admiration of the feat.

Most of the rest went over in good style.  Poor little Notty very nearly
tumbled in, but generous Ranger went over first and stood by to catch
him; and on they all went once more in line, and were soon out of sight
of the village and its vociferous inhabitants, as Newland called them.
Other streams were in their course.  They came to some swampy ground,
and Digby very nearly let them into a quagmire, where they would all
have stuck, when he espied some stones to his left, and landed on a
causeway which led across it.  That stream-leaping was a fine exercise
for the nerves and strength, and agility too, and required no little
practice.  A hill now appeared before them.  They breasted it boldly, as
some of them did years afterwards other hills when crowned with fierce
enemies, showering down bullets and round-shot on their heads.  The
parish church, with a lofty and beautiful tower, stood there.  It had
been all along Digby's aim to reach it.  The view from the summit he
knew was beautiful--no more extensive prospect was to be found in all
the country round.  The tower was undergoing repair, so the door was
open.  In went Digby, and up the steps he ran--round and round and round
he went, as he ascended the well-worn circular stair--the voices of his
followers sounding in various tones behind him.  Near the top was a
window--from it hung a stout rope, which his quick eye saw was well
secured.  He reached the top, where there was a platform large enough,
for the tower was square, to contain all the party.  Soon they all
assembled there.  If the view from the hill was sufficient to inspirit
them, this was still more calculated to do so.  It did, and such a cheer
was raised as perhaps had not been heard from the old tower top for many
a year.  There is good hope for England when her boys can cheer right
lustily and honestly, as did Digby Heathcote and his friends.  For some
time they stood there drinking in unconsciously the beauty of the scene,
not troubling themselves with details however, and imbibing, too,
greater love than ever for their native land.  Suddenly Digby
recollected that he ought to be moving.

"On, on," he shouted, and down the steps he dashed--not altogether,
though.  He stopped at the belfry and sprang to the window, from which
hung the rope he had observed.  Heaving down his pole, he grasped the
rope, and, to the surprise and almost horror of his companions, he threw
his legs over and down he glided; not very rapidly, though, but quietly,
as if it was a matter of every-day occurrence, looking up and trying
out, "Let those only follow who are certain they can do it.  I forgive
those who cannot."

Farnham, Ranger, Newland, and others looked over, and doubted whether or
not they would follow.  They had a regard for their necks--it would not
be pleasant to break them, and yet Digby performed the feat so easily,
and it would be a disgrace if no one attempted it.  Ranger did not
hesitate long--he only waited till Digby reached the ground in safety,
to grasp the rope and to follow him down.  The rest shouted when they
saw him gliding down.  He was, as he deserved to be, a general
favourite.  Soon he was seen standing alongside Digby.  Farnham and then
Newland came, and three more; but the remainder could not bring
themselves to make the venture.  Indeed, Digby and Ranger entreated them
not to do so; for though they stood underneath to catch any who might
fall, they all felt that the risk was great.  Digby, more especially,
had scarcely reached the ground than he regretted having tempted others
to follow his example.

"If any of them should be killed, or seriously hurt themselves, how
dreadful it would be.  I should never forgive myself," he observed to
Ranger.

All were at length assembled at the foot of the tower; and Digby having
flourished his pole, once more started off as leader of the party, on
their return towards home.  He had arranged a different route to that by
which they had come, away to the right; a portion of it being over a
high chalky ridge.  They had a steep hill-side to climb, but well and
actively they did it; and, at the top, they were rewarded by the fresh
health-inspiring breeze they met in their faces.  For a mile or more
Digby kept the summit of the ridge--a smooth, green surface, which
appeared to afford but little variety to the leader's movements; but
here Digby equally showed his talent for his office, never for a minute
together was he in the same attitude.  Now his pole was poised on high
as an Indian dart, or javelin; now it was held as a lance; now he was
flourishing it round his head; now he made a sudden leap forward with
it; now he hopped; now he skipped; now he went round and round,
spinning, but yet advancing.  All these, and a variety of other
eccentric movements were seen from the valley below, and created the
greatest astonishment, and, in some instances, consternation, for the
figures of the boys, seen against the evening sky, as they followed one
after the other, in regular succession, appeared magnified to a
considerable degree; and many wondered what extraordinary beings they
could be.  They were very much amused, some days afterwards, on hearing
of the strange sights the people had seen on the ridge on that very
evening, and how they passed by.  The remainder of the leaps they took,
the streams they crossed, and the duckings some of them got, need not
further be described.  They got back in time for tea, which on
Saturdays, in summer, was always later than at other times.

Digby got very much complimented for the way in which he had led.

"It's the best run we have ever had, old fellow," exclaimed Ranger and
others.  "Yes, indeed it was; and the plucky way in which you got down
from the top of Whitcombe Church tower was very fine.  It's not
surprising some of us funked to follow.  We must have another run like
it next week, and we must get you to be leader again.  Remember, you
think over what course you will take, so as to give us plenty of sport."

Digby, naturally gratified at all these compliments, promised that he
would prepare for another run on the following Saturday.

The authorities, however, it appeared, had taken a different view of the
sport to that which those had who had engaged in it.  The descent from
the top of Whitcombe tower was looked upon with unmitigated horror; and
it was proposed to take steps for the prevention of any such dangerous
adventures in future.  Little, however, was poor Mr Sanford aware of
how much worse proceedings were taking place much nearer home, and of
the far greater dangers to which many of the boys were exposed during
those long spring evenings, when they were allowed to wander forth
beyond the supervision of their masters.

The Monday after this noted run, Digby was passing through the hall,
when the front-door bell rang, and Susan went to open it, just as she
had done the day of his arrival.  He likewise stopped at the end of the
passage to see who was coming.  A fly was at the door, and in front of
it stood Rubbins, the fat butler at Milford Priory, who was at that
moment helping out of it no less a person than Julian Langley.

Julian was looking very sheepish and downcast, and very much inclined to
cry; but the moment he saw Digby, who could not help coming forward, his
countenance brightened up.

"Ah, Digby, this is pleasant, to have a friend to meet one, and to tell
one all about the school," he exclaimed.  "I did not know I was coming
to your school.  Now I don't mind.  What sort of a place is it?  Many
fast fellows, eh?  Any fun to be had?  Tell me all about it; come,
quick.  You look jolly enough, let me tell you.  Why, you are nearly as
big as I am."  So Julian ran on, much in his old style.

Although Digby knew perfectly well what he had been, and how much
mischief he had led him into, yet he could not help looking upon him as
an old friend and companion, and as such he received him, feeling really
very glad to see him.  They had not much time to talk then, for Rubbins
having got all his luggage and things out of the fly, and shaken hands
with him in a somewhat familiar and patronising manner, delivered him
over formally to Susan, to be carried before Mr Sanford.

"Won't you wish to see master, sir?" asked Susan, who did not understand
exactly who Mr Rubbins was.

"Oh, no; no, thank you," answered that gentleman, with a slight sneer in
the tone of his voice.  "The young one knows well enough how to take
care of himself, I guess."

Susan, from these words, at once understood who Mr Rubbins was, and
formed a tolerably correct opinion of the character of the young
gentleman, which she did not fail to express to Mrs Pike.

Digby had to leave Julian, who was now taken before Mr Sanford; but he
promised to wait for him at the end of the passage.

Mr Sanford was not altogether satisfied with his new pupil.  Julian
spoke in an off-hand way of his former career, and the education he had
received; and then forthwith mentioned his friendship with Digby
Heathcote.

"He will show me all about the school, sir, and put me up to its ways.
All I want is to know them, and I dare say that I shall get on very well
with the other fellows," said Julian, with consummate assurance.  "Digby
and I, you see, sir, are like brothers almost--we have been so much
together, and think so exactly alike."

Now Mr Sanford, from what he had heard of Digby, had formed a
favourable opinion of him; and therefore, taking Julian at his word, he
was bound to form the same of him.  He knew enough, however, of the
world to be aware that the very worst way of judging of persons is to
take them at their own estimate; and so Julian did not find himself
quite so highly esteemed as he might have wished.  Mr Sanford, however,
rang the bell, and desired that Master Heathcote might be sent to him.

Digby very quickly made his appearance; and Mr Sanford was at once
inclined to doubt Julian's assertion that they were acquainted, till
Digby explained that they had just before met.

"Very well, Heathcote, introduce him to the other boys; and I hope I
shall hear a good account of him from the masters," said Mr Sanford.
"But remember, by the by, that you do not run the risk of breaking your
own neck, and that of your companions, by slipping down from the top of
church towers.  I must take measures to prevent such a proceeding in
future; and have begged Mrs Pike and Mr Yates to see to it.  Now go,
and be good boys."

Away ran Digby and Julian.  The boys were in the playground, so Digby at
once took his old friend there to introduce him.  He was resolved to
give him the chance of a good start; so he took him up only to the best
fellows, intending to warn him of the characters of the others.  This
ought to have been a very great advantage to Julian.

Farnham, Ranger, Newland, received him, for Digby's sake, very kindly
and cordially; and even Bouverie showed that he wished to be civil to
him, and did not address him in the bantering way in which big fellows
are apt to speak to those younger than themselves.

Julian, however, took it into his head that all this was owing to his
own merits, and was not proportionably grateful to Digby.  Although
warned by Digby, from the first, of the characters of Spiller, Johnny
Bray, Scarborough, and others, he at once showed that he had a hankering
to become acquainted with them.  Spiller, consequent, very soon got
round him, and became the possessor of various articles in his box, as
well as of some slices of his cake, and a pot or two of jam.
Scarborough was not long in falling foul of him.

Digby was about to rush to his rescue, and calling on Ranger and Farnham
to assist; when what was his surprise to hear Julian say--

"Please don't hit me, Scarborough, and I will give you a pot of jam and
some marmalade, and will send home for some more, if you want it."

"Well, hand out the grub, young one, and I will let you off this time,"
answered the bully.  "Remember, though, I won't stand any nonsense.
You've promised to get me what I want, and I intend to keep you up to
your word."

Julian sneaked off to his play-box, to get the eatables; and Digby
turned away with disgust.

"The idea of buying off a thrashing from a big bully," he exclaimed,
stamping with his feet in very vexation.  "It is a thoroughly
un-English, cowardly proceeding.  Besides, it will only make the bully
attack him more readily when he wants anything out of him.  As he looks
upon him as my friend, he wants to revenge himself on him, as he dares
not attack me again while Bouverie remains."

Boys at school very soon find their own level.  Julian rapidly sunk to
his.  He would have had a better chance of retaining the friendship of
Farnham, Ranger, and the good set, had he been sent to sleep in their
room; but, unfortunately, there was no vacant bed there, and he,
consequently, was put into a room with Spiller, and some of the worst
fellows.  All the advantage, therefore, which he gained in the day, from
associating with Digby and his friends, was undone in the evening by the
loose conversation of his bedroom companions.

"I wanted to have had a jolly feast, such as you had, Digby, the fellows
tell me, and which, it seems, gained you so many first-rate friends,"
said Julian, one day soon after his arrival, in a melancholy tone.  "But
do you know, what with that brute, Scarborough, and that sneaky chap,
Spiller, and a host of others, I haven't got a single thing left.  I
don't think you benefited much by me, either."

"Oh, never mind that; but I did not suppose my feasts gave me friends,"
answered Digby.  "Perhaps it might have been so; but then, when I think
of it, Bouverie would accept nothing, and some of the best fellows took
very little, and indeed, generally put in their own share of grub."

"Ah, still they knew that you were a fellow who was always likely to
have plenty of good things," argued Julian.  "I must see about getting
some more things from the Priory; it won't do to be looking down in the
world."

Poor, miserable Julian had evidently no notion of any other bond of
union between people; it should not be called friendship, though he so
called it, but interest, what one may get from the other.  He was to be
pitied certainly; but not for a moment exonerated.  He had been
miserably instructed at the first, there was no doubt about that; but
then he had gone to Mr Nugent's, where he had every opportunity of
learning what was right.  The truth, the right was set clearly before
him, but he deliberately refused to accept it.  The laws of God and man,
his duties in life, were clearly explained to him; he had a good example
set him; he was kept as much as possible out of temptation to do wrong;
still, as has been seen, he contrived to do it.  Now he came where he
had evidently the choice between good companions and bad, and he
deliberately chose the bad.

So it will be with all those whose eyes may fall on these pages.  If
they abandon the straight and narrow, and perhaps difficult, path of
right, and enter into the broad, and seemingly easy, course of evil,
they do so with their eyes open, in spite of warnings, in spite of the
whisperings of conscience, in spite of thousands of examples of the
destructive results of the life they are pursuing; and they will in the
end be unable to offer the slightest excuse for themselves; they will
have to acknowledge they brought down all their misery and wretchedness
on their own heads, that their punishment was just.

The next Saturday came, and when lessons were over, Mr Yates ascended
the head-master's desk, and informed the school that leave to go out was
stopped, in consequence of certain proceedings which had come to Mr
Sanford's knowledge; but more than that he did not consider it just then
necessary to explain.

This announcement, though received in silence, created the greatest
vexation, and anger, and indignation among all the boys.  Some thought
the prohibition arose from one cause, some from another.  Digby and his
friends, who had played the game of Follow-my-leader on the previous
Saturday, thought that it was owing to something they had done on that
occasion.  Some farmer, less good-natured than Mr Growler, might have
complained about them; perhaps it was owing to their exploit in the
church tower; others thought that it was owing to something which had
occurred in the village; others, owing to a fight which had taken place
between one of their boys and a country lad; and perhaps Scarborough,
and Spiller, and their set might have suspected that their half-holiday
practices were known, and that all the school was being punished on that
account.  One thing was clear, on comparing notes, that a very
considerable number of misdemeanours were committed every Saturday; and
that, altogether, they were not punished without cause.  Those, however,
as is usually the case, who were the most guilty, were the most furious.

Scarborough declared loudly that he would pot stand it; that, in spite
of all the masters, he for one would go out as usual; so said a number
of other fellows of his stamp.

Digby, and Farnham, and Newland did not like it; they thought themselves
very unjustly treated; and of course that made them indignant.  They
talked of doing all sorts of things: they would scale the walls; they
would take their usual expedition, with leave or without leave.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," exclaimed Farnham, who was always rather
vehement when he fancied himself unjustly treated, "I'll write home, and
beg to be taken away altogether, unless we have our proper liberty.
After dinner, I'll go straight up to Mr Sanford, and ask him why we are
all kept in because some other fellows have done what is wrong; and then
I'll undertake to guarantee that if he will allow them to go out, they
will all behave as he could wish in every way.  If he still refuses,
then I will frankly tell him that I will write home, and complain, and
that others are determined to do the same."

Farnham's proposal was very much applauded by nearly all the moderate
party, a few only advocating a quiet run through the country for an hour
or so, just to show that they would maintain their rights.

The dinner-bell rang.  They all went in; and no one ate a worse dinner
in consequence of the perturbed state of their minds.  They still,
however, continued, in low voices, talking the matter over; and the
masters and Mrs Pike saw that something was evidently wrong.  The
weather, however, summarily settled the matter for them.  The sky had
been for some time clouding over, and before they had left the
dinner-table, the rain began to descend in torrents, so that it was
impossible for any one of them to make any complaint of not being
allowed to go out on that day.  Harder and harder came down the rain,
till it was evident that it was going to be a settled pouring afternoon.
Although, in one respect, this was an advantage, as it enabled the
better disposed to calm their spirits, and to think quietly over what
they had proposed to do, yet it, at the same time, allowed the rest to
brood over their fancied wrongs, and to concoct a variety of schemes of
vengeance.

Julian Langley was one of the most indignant, and most ready to join any
of the plans of the extreme party.  He had come to a school where he
understood there was plenty of liberty and gentlemanly treatment, and he
found, he said, neither one nor the other.  He had read of some fellows
at a large school getting up a grand rebellion, barring out the masters,
and standing a siege of several days, till their terms were complied
with.  The idea was caught up by others.  It was grand in the extreme,
if not novel.  Scarborough and some of the bigger fellows were delighted
with it.  Julian undertook to win over Heathcote and his set.

"They must not be left out, certainly," observed Scarborough.  "They are
plucky fellows, and would be powerful allies; but I suspect that you
will have some difficulty in managing them."

"Let me alone for that," answered Julian, with a self-satisfied tone.
"I know how to touch up my old friend, Digby Heathcote, in the right
place.  He is well primed already, and only wants the spark to set him
off."

There was certainly far less noise and disturbance that Saturday
afternoon than there had been for a long time.  On the Sunday, also, and
the following days, the masters observed that the boys behaved even
better than usual.  An event which proved to be of considerable
importance occurred on Monday.  Bouverie, who had been counselling
patience and submission, was suddenly summoned home to attend the sick
bed of his father: he had time only to pack up and be off.  He sent,
however, for Farnham, and urged him not to do anything rashly, though he
could not enlighten him as to the reason of the prohibition so much
complained of.  Strange to say, Digby was more pleased with Julian for
two or three days than he had been since he came to the school--he was
constantly with him, submitting to his opinion, and speaking so very
sensibly on many matters.

"I'll tell you what it is, Digby," said Julian at last, "if all the
fellows will sink their quarrels and disputes and unite heart and hand,
we shall carry the day and gain our rights.  For my own part, I do not
care much about the matter; I am not going to be here long, so I argue
for the sake of others more than for myself.  Just, therefore, come and
hear what Knowles and that clever fellow, Blake, has got to say.  Depend
on it they will show you that they are in the right."

In a fatal moment Digby consented to join a conference of those who
called themselves the leaders of the school, to decide what should be
done in case they were still denied the liberty they demanded.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

A REBELLION PROPOSED--PLANS FOR CARRYING ON THE WAR--THE WEAKEST FIND
THAT THEY HAVE TO PAY THE PIPER--COMMENCEMENT OF HOSTILITIES--BARRING
OUT.

The Saturday arrived which the boys at Grangewood expected would prove
so big with events.  It was a fine warm day--a great contrast to the
previous Saturday.  There appeared not the slightest reason why they
should be kept in.  As the school hours drew to a close everybody was on
the tiptoe of expectation.  At last half-past twelve came, and Mr Yates
ascended the head-master's desk.  "Boys," he said, in his usual
disagreeable tone, "you were informed last week that you were not to go
out beyond the playground.  The same prohibition at present exists."

No sooner were the words uttered than a low groan was heard from one end
of the schoolroom to the other.  It rose higher and higher, till it
burst into something which sounded very like a loud roar of anger.

"Mr Tugman, bring me up here some of the boys who are making that
hideous noise," shouted Mr Yates.  "Monsieur Guillaume, can you catch
some of them?  Mr Moore, is no one making a noise near you?"

Whenever one of the masters approached, the boys were found crying, with
their handkerchiefs to their eyes, and saying, "Oh dear! oh dear! we
mustn't go out; we mustn't go out."

This continued till the dinner-bell rang; for Mr Yates would not
dismiss them, as was usual when school was over.

"You may go into dinner, boys," he sang out at last, fancying that he
had gained the day.

Dinner passed over very quietly, however, and everybody eat even more
than usual.  Slices of bread and meat were also stowed away in the
pockets of those who were sitting at a distance from Mrs Pike or any of
the masters.  Their intention was to lay in all the provisions of which
they could possibly possess themselves.  Digby had had a hamper of cake
and tongues, and cheese and preserves, for which he was indebted to
representations made by John Pratt to Mrs Carter, backed up by a
petition from Kate.  So numberless were the contents, and so liberal was
the supply, that it seemed almost inexhaustible--sufficient, Digby and
some of his friends considered, to last the whole school for many days.
They were not well practised in commissariat arrangements or they would
not have thought so.  Other fellows, as it happened, also had hampers,
which usually arrived about the middle of the half, to prevent their
spirits sinking till the return of the holidays.  All these things were
collected in the play-room, as were the slices of bread and meat carried
off from the dining-room.  When, however, Scarborough and some of the
heads of the rebellion came to examine the amount of provisions
collected, they pronounced them totally inadequate for the purpose of
enabling them to hold out till their grievances were redressed.

"Where, too, is the liquor?--where is the water?  Is there any tea and
sugar?" they asked.  "We should die of thirst."  They declared that it
was absolutely necessary that a party should be told off to procure the
necessary stores.

It then became a question as to who should go.  Scarborough and Spiller
had no fancy to run any risk for the good of others, nor indeed had
Julian Langley, or Tommy Bray--indeed, a very sharp look-out was kept on
all Master Tommy's movements lest he should sneak off and betray them.
Water, it was suggested, might easily be collected in the water-jugs and
basins, which could be brought down from the rooms, and an order was
accordingly issued that the water in all the rooms should be preserved
with the greatest economy.  Then fuel was to be found for the fire, and
kettles to boil the water, and saucepans to boil potatoes and to make
stews, for they had no wish to undergo more hardships than they could
help.  With regard to the important point of procuring provisions, it
was proposed that lots should be drawn, and that ten fellows, on whom
they fell, should go out at night to obtain the supplies.  Tea and sugar
was loudly demanded by some: ale and ginger-beer and soda-water by
others.

Scarborough and two or three of his intimates, managed the drawing of
the lots: they fell in a very extraordinary manner on Digby, Farnham,
Ranger, Newland, and others of the most steady boys, at the same time
the most spirited and likely to carry out what they might undertake.

"It is, indeed, fortunate we fellows are altogether, because we can
thoroughly trust each other," remarked Digby, unsuspicious of any trick.

If Farnham did think unfair play had been used, he did not deign to say
so.  He had consented to draw lots, and as some one would have had to
go, he was ready to run the risk.

The next thing to be done was to collect the funds to purchase the
stores.  Scarborough, and some of the other big fellows, went round and
insisted on all those they could coerce emptying their pockets and their
purses and contributing the greater part of their wealth to the common
store.  If a fellow had five shillings, he was told he must give four;
if he had half-a-crown, he had to give up two shillings.  Digby, Ranger,
and their party contributed nearly ten shillings each.  When, however,
inquiries were made as to what Scarborough and some of the other big
fellows were going to give, it was found that he had only a few
shillings in his purse; he said that he could only put in
eighteen-pence.  He wanted the rest to buy tobacco, he asserted; which
was very likely.  Spiller, turning his pockets inside out, with a
melancholy countenance, said he positively had nothing; but that he was
not ashamed, as he was certain the advantage his wits would afford his
companions would make ample amends for his want of tin.  He, however,
was certain that his friend, Julian Langley, who had so lately come from
home, and had, as yet, no opportunity of spending his money, would be
flush of cash.

"A fine idea!" exclaimed Scarborough, very much in the voice with which
a Knight Templar of old would have addressed an unfortunate Jew whom he
had got into his power.  "Come, Langley, my man, we look to you for
supplying the sinews of war; what have you got?"

Julian hummed and hawed not a little, and hesitated; but had at last to
confess that he had got four pounds.

"Then three pounds is the least sum you can hand out," said Scarborough.
"We might justly ask for ten shillings more, but we won't for the
present; we shall know to whom to apply if more is wanted."

Julian had most reluctantly to draw forth the amount from his purse, and
heartily he wished that no rebellion had been proposed.  He had to learn
the truth of a proverb, which runs to the effect, that in cases such as
the present, "Whoever may dance, the weak and the silly ones have
invariably to pay the piper."

"But when are we to begin the rebellion? when are we to commence barring
out?" asked Digby, rising from his seat.  "I thought that we were to set
to work at once."

"We admire your zeal and courage, Heathcote," answered Scarborough, who
had invariably spoken very politely to him since the lesson he had
received.

It need scarcely be said that the bully looked forward to taking his
revenge before long, now that Bouverie had gone.

"Your zeal and courage is great," he repeated; "but discretion is also
of importance.  We have now got a half-holiday, and to-morrow is Sunday,
when we shall have to do no lessons; therefore it would be folly to shut
ourselves up during that time.  The provisions you are to procure cannot
be got in before this evening.  The difficulty will be to get them in;
but we must manage it thus.  You must all bring as much as you can; some
must be packed in hampers, and directed to different fellows, as if it
had come from home.  Then the tradesmen must bring others in parcels;
and I know a fellow who will, for a bribe, pretend to be a cake-man, and
will bring in all sorts of things in his baskets."

Digby's feelings, as did those of his friends, revolted somewhat from
these proposals; but they had entered into the undertaking, and they
thought that they were in honour bound to go on with it.

"But how are we to get out without being seen?" he asked.

"I have thought about that, too," answered Scarborough, with a
condescending smile.  "We are to get up a grand game of hoops--that
makes as much noise and confusion as anything.  Football would, be
better, if it had been the right time of the year, and we had grass to
play on; now it might create suspicion.  We must get the side gate open,
and as we all press about it, so as to stop up the view of it from the
house, you fellows are to slip out.  The rest is easy.  Hudson, and
Jones, and Ware will supply you with what we want; they will do anything
for money.  Here, we have made out lists of what we want, and the
different ways in which the things are to be sent in.  It must all be
collected in this room by to-night; if things come to-morrow, suspicion
may be created.  You understand the plan, now, all of you?  By the bye,
all the play-boxes, which have locks and keys, must be emptied, to hold
the things, and the keys must be delivered over to our committee, which,
you will understand, is called `The Committee of Safety.'  It is for the
good of the cause--we must sacrifice everything to that.  No one exactly
would like a dictator, nor do I; so I hope all will agree that we have
acted for the best."

Digby and Farnham were not quite satisfied when they found that this
committee of safety consisted of Scarborough, Spiller, and three other
fellows, called Ton, Smee, and Capron, their constant associates, and
very nearly as great bullies and bad characters as Scarborough.
However, it was too late to recede.

The foraging party were now provided with their lists, and with certain
sums to pay for the things they were to get.  Whether all the money
collected was given to them they could not tell.  Each of them, however,
wisely made a note of what he received.

This was a piece of worldly wisdom my readers will do well to imitate
through life--be exact in all money transactions.  Put down at once all
sums received and paid away, with the date of the transaction, and the
name of the person to whom the sum was paid, or from whom received.  It
may give a little trouble at the time, but will save a great deal in the
end.

The afternoon was drawing on; they all hurried out into the playground,
having got hold of every hoop to be found.  They divided into two
parties, and were to charge each other from one end of the ground to the
other.  The foragers had hoops, also, but they were to throw down
theirs, and to make their escape at the signal agreed on.

Digby's heart beat eagerly.  Go he would, but still he would very much
rather not have gone.  He did not fear punishment, but he had hitherto
been looked upon as a well-behaved boy, and he did not wish to lose that
character.

The two parties drew up on either end of the ground.

"Charge!" shouted Scarborough.  Away they went, rattling along, till
they met in the middle.  Many hoops were overthrown; the rest of the
boys, with loud shouts, rushed on to the end, wheeling their hoops
round, to prepare for another charge.  Those whose hoops had been
knocked down assembled on one side, close to the side wicket.  Spiller
was there, and so were all the foraging party.  Spiller had some tools
in his hands.  The next encounter of the hoops took place exactly in a
line with that spot; and though several other boys went up to it, their
numbers did not appear to have increased.  All that afternoon the game
of hoops went on, the boys knocking away with their sticks and shouting
at the top of their voices; till poor Mr Sanford's shattered nerves
were almost completely unstrung.

At length, the voice of a man, who said he was a cake-man, was heard
outside; and Spiller was dispatched, with a humble request to Mrs Pike
for the key of the wicket, to allow him to enter.

In an incautious moment, influenced by the idea of saving her
bread-and-butter, Mrs Pike gave up the key.

"I'll soon be back with it, marm," said Spiller, in his blandest tone.

The cake-man's basket was soon emptied; but it appeared that he had
another one outside, and the contents of that disappeared with equal
rapidity.  Pockets, and pocket-handkerchiefs, and hats, were quickly
filled, and the things carried off to the play-room.

The foraging party had been out, and came in, one by one, in the rear of
the cake-man, heavily laden.  The expected hampers also arrived.  They
always put Mrs Pike in good humour.  A very large one was for
Scarborough, who never had had one before.  They were eagerly pounced on
by him and the boys, and carried off into the play-room.

The masters congratulated themselves altogether on the good behaviour of
the boys.

Tommy Bray, however, managed to elude the vigilance of those watching
him, and got off to Monsieur Guillaume's room, to give him a hint of
what was to occur; but the French master had gone to London for three
days, and Tommy dared not tell anybody else, lest his name, as the
informer, should afterwards transpire.

Night came, and all went to their rooms.  Never, however, had Digby been
more unhappy and less satisfied with himself since he came to the
school.  He prayed, but he felt that his prayers were hollow.  He was
not doing his duty to the best of his power.  Probably several of his
friends felt as he did, but they did not speak of their feelings to each
other.

Sunday came; they went, as usual, to church.  Poor Mr Sanford was too
ill to go.

"And we are preparing a terrible annoyance for him to-morrow," thought
Digby.

They walked out afterwards, in close order, with Mr Yates at their
head, and Mr Tugman, who brought up the rear, watching that no one
wandered on either side.  They went again to church in the afternoon;
and all the rest of the time was occupied in talking over their plans
for the following day.  They were to get up an hour before anybody was
likely to be astir in the house, and assemble, with their jugs and
basins of water, in the play-room.  All the schoolroom shutters were to
be brought into the play-room, as well as all valuables from the desks.
All the books were to be collected, either to serve as missiles, or to
be burned; that was not quite settled.  Meantime, a party were to pay a
visit to the coal-cellar and wood-yard, and to bring in a supply of
coals.  There were other minor arrangements, into which it is not
necessary to enter.

On Sunday night, the boys went quietly to bed.  At half-past four, one
or two awoke, and they roused up the rest.  All were soon on foot.

"I say, Newland, don't you feel as if you were going into a battle?"
said Digby.

"Just as I can fancy soldiers feel," answered Paul.

"One satisfaction is that the row must soon begin," said Digby.  "I hate
having to wait for anything of the sort."

They spoke in whispers.  They were ordered to take their pillows with
them to serve as shields, if necessary, and to carry their shoes in
their pockets.  They all very quickly slipped downstairs.  Digby and
Newland, with four others, found themselves again told off to go and
fetch coals and wood, an expedition of some considerable hazard.
However, they none of them flinched, though, as Digby said, he felt very
much as if he was committing larceny.  Each carried a pillowcase, into
which it was intended to put the coals or the faggots.  It was broad
daylight.  They had several passages to traverse, and what was worse,
some of the servants' rooms to pass near.  On they went however.

"It must be done, though," whispered Digby to Newland.

They were afraid of the noise they must make in turning the keys,
withdrawing the bolts, and lifting the latches.  The last door was
reached; they succeeded in opening it, and into the coal-yard they
hurried.  It did not take them long to put as much coal into their
pillow-cases as they could carry.  Those directed to carry faggots had
more bulky loads, but not so heavy.  They forgot to close the door as
they returned laden with their booty.

As they went along the passage they heard Susan calling to one of her
fellow-servants, "Jane, Jane, don't you hear footsteps?--is anybody
ill?"

"I hope it isn't robbers," answered Jane.  "Oh, dear! oh, dear!"

"Oh, nonsense; I'll just throw on my gown and go and see."

Now though these were not very terrible words, and uttered only by poor
weak women, whom boys are apt to despise sometimes, they put the band of
heroes in a great fright.

On they hurried as fast as their legs could carry them, expecting every
moment to see Mr Tugman, or, perhaps, Mr Yates himself, descending the
staircase to bar their progress.

"There is some one, surely," cried Newland.  "I'll not run, though.
I'll go and face him, whoever he is."

"I will go with you," exclaimed Digby.

It was, however, only Ranger, who had come out to reconnoitre, and to
help them along, if they required aid.  They told him that the alarm was
already given; so they all ran on as fast as they could into the
play-room.  They took the precaution of locking the schoolroom door, and
of piling up some forms and desks against it, so that they might have
time to make further arrangements while that was being forced.

The play-room presented a very unusual appearance when Digby looked
round it.  It was full of boys.  The windows were barred, and shutters
were nailed up against them.  On one side of the fireplace was a heap of
coals--on another, a pile of faggots and potatoes.  Near, stood several
hampers full of provisions; jugs and basins of water stood on the
shelves, while all the boxes were full of eatables.  Indeed, it was
evident that it would take a long time to starve the garrison into
submission.  The first thing to be done was effectually to bar the door.
There were bolts and locks, and they might easily be broken open.
Spiller, who was the engineer in this department, had provided several
bars, and these he screwed on across the door, so that it would have
been necessary almost to knock the wall down before it could be opened.

Digby had naturally a military eye; he was looking round for weak
points.

"They may be getting down the chimney," he observed.

"Oh, then, we will light a fire and smoke them out," answered
Scarborough.

A fire was accordingly lighted.

"I suppose we are all here; but let us call the names over, and see if
there are any skulkers," said Scarborough.

This was done.  Tommy Bray was the only boy missing.

"He'll have the pleasure of breakfasting with Mrs Pike, the young
jackanapes, betraying all our secrets, and having no lessons to do.  He
does not think of the woeful thrashing he will get."

They heard the getting-up bell ring as usual, and then they waited, and
waited, expecting some one to come to the door.  No one came, however.
The prayer bell rang as usual, and then, to their surprise, the
breakfast-bell.  This was very astonishing.  They had good reason to
know that it was the breakfast-bell for they were all getting very
hungry.  There was a general shout for breakfast.  They soon had boiling
water, and tea was made, and they had plenty of sugar; but some of the
heroes complained much that they had no milk.

"Would you have wished to have had a cow shut up here, and hay to feed
her?" asked Newland, laughing.

They all made a very hearty and luxurious breakfast--their early rising,
and the excitement they had gone through, gave them appetites.  Besides,
they had an unusual variety of all sorts of nice things.  Digby's basket
was in great requisition; and Scarborough, and Spiller, and others, who
seemed to think everything common property, nearly half emptied it.

"At such times as these we don't stand on ceremony, my good fellow.  A
little more of that capital marmalade, if you please," said Scarborough.

Poor Digby could not very well refuse; at the same time he did not see
exactly why the bully should eat up his marmalade.

The breakfast set was composed of very heterogeneous materials; plates
were decidedly scarce, and the tea was drunk out of tin cups, and mugs,
and pannikins, while some of the little fellows had to content
themselves with ink-glasses, which gave rather a strong flavour to their
beverage.  The weather itself was warm, and the fire, and the number of
boys shut up in the room, increased the heat till the closeness became
very unpleasant; but they were afraid of opening the windows to let in
any air, lest some of the masters might find their way in also at the
same spot.  The only light they had was through a few round holes in the
upper part of the shutters.

When breakfast was over they began to consider what they should do.  It
was much too hot to play any active games.  Some of the younger fellows
proposed high-cockolorum and leap-frog; but they made so much dust and
noise that it was not very pleasant work even to themselves, and the
bigger fellows ordered them to desist, and sent a shower of books at
their heads to enforce the order.  Hop-scotch met with a like fate.  A
few tried marbles, but there was scarcely light for the purpose, and
ring-taw was quickly abandoned.  Others endeavoured to read amusing
books to pass the time, but the dim light which fell on the page
scarcely enabled them to distinguish the letters; and, besides, they
found all sorts of tricks played them by those who had no literary turn,
and always objected to see one of their companions take up a book.
Digby persevered with the "Swiss Family Robinson," which he had not had
time to look into since the evening of his arrival, and finished it in
spite of the heat and the variety of interruptions he underwent.  When
Digby read a work of fiction he read heartily, with his whole mind in
the book, and nothing made him so savage as to be interrupted, and
called back into the commonplace work of every-day life.  A considerable
number of fellows put their heads on their pillows in corners, and on
benches, and went to sleep.

Thus the morning passed away.  How different was all this calm and quiet
to the fierce onslaught they had expected.  They had fancied that the
masters would have been thundering at the door with battering-rams, or
climbing up at the windows and endeavouring to force their way in.  Some
even fancied that they would have appeared with muskets and pistols, and
fired in upon them, or, if not, hurled stones in on their heads.  Then
they had vividly pictured the way in which they would have sheltered
themselves with their pillows, and hurled back their lexicons, and
grammars, and graduses, and delectuses, and other books, at the heads of
their assailants.  All that would have been very fine, and exciting, and
delightful.  Who would have cared for the bruises and blows they would
have received?  Black eyes, and even broken limbs, would have been
things to have gloried in in so noble a cause.  But this quiet, this
perfect ignoring their very existence, was very trying.  Not even a
message sent to them; not a request to know what they wanted, or to beg
them to return to their duty, was perplexing in the extreme.  Some
proposed that somebody should go out and reconnoitre; but who was to go
was the question.

"It is very easy to say go," observed Paul Newland; "but who is to go, I
should like to know.  Will Scarborough, then?  He ought to go, I am
sure.  We have too long been made catspaws of in this matter; and though
I do not counsel giving in, I say that some of the big fellows should
bear the risk and expense, which they have hitherto not done."

Paul had by some means or other discovered how things had been managed,
and was resolved to speak out plainly.  Scarborough looked daggers at
him, and would have knocked him down had he dared.

"I have one thing to say," observed the bully; "I recommend you fellows
not to quarrel among yourselves.  For my own part, I wish to be at peace
with all the world, and am now going to have a pipe.  Who will join me?"

Several big fellows, as well as Spiller and Julian Langley, said they
would, and soon the room was filled with tobacco smoke, which not a
little increased its unpleasantness.

"Swipes, swipes!" sung out Scarborough in a short time, and from some
secret recess bottles of ale and porter were produced, the contents
rapidly disappearing down their throats.  Then they sang, and insisted
on all the other fellows coming round and singing in turn.  Probably
they would have made them drink also, but that they wished to preserve
the liquor for themselves.

There were about a dozen fellows thus occupied; at of them, with the
exception of Julian Langley and Spiller, great, big, hulking lads, and
the two latter were forward in vice and knowledge of what is bad in the
world.  Dinner-hour came.  As if to mock them, the dinner-bell rang as
usual.  Those who were not smoking and drinking began to get very
hungry, and to cry out for food.  They only, however, got abuse from
Scarborough, who had now thrown off all disguise, and assumed the
dictatorship.

"If anybody touches anything, I'll knock him down," he cried out, with a
fierce voice.  "Wait till your elders think it is time to dine.  Do you
fancy that we are to keep, in the free and independent republic we have
established, the vulgar dinner-hour of school-time.  We'll dine by and
by, and you shall have some rashers of bacon to toast, and some herrings
to fry, for your amusement."

How indignant did Digby feel at hearing these words.  Was it for this he
had made such sacrifices?--lost a good name; acted a part he knew to be
wrong?  He had to learn that such is invariably the fate of those who
join a bad cause, or consent to unite themselves with unprincipled men,
even in a cause which they fancy may be right.  Still he did not wish to
raise a rebellion in the camp, and he determined to bear his hunger till
it pleased the dictator to allow him to appease it.

The bells went on ringing with the greatest regularity.  The dinner-hour
had long passed; now the bell rang to summon them into school.  Tea-time
came.  Digby and many other fellows had been asleep.  They jumped up;
they were ravenous.  They insisted on having food.

Scarborough and his companions were still smoking and boozing on.  He
growled out, "That they must wait his pleasure."

"I for one will not," cried Digby, grown desperate.  "Who wishes to join
me?  Here is my hamper.  I have a right to the contents of that, at all
events."

The bully became furious at finding his authority thus openly defied;
and rising from his seat, made an attempt to punish the bold rebel; but
the beer he had imbibed had considerably affected his brain, and before
he could reach him, down he came on his nose.

Julian, and Spiller, and the rest of his companions, seemed to think it
a very good joke, and laughed heartily.  But Digby and others turned him
round, unloosed his neckerchief, and threw water in his face, in the
hopes of reviving him.

"Oh, let him alone," cried out Spiller.  "He'll come to by and by, never
fear."

Digby, however, did fear very much that he would not, for he was almost
black in the face, and looked very horrid.

"If he should die now, how dreadful it would be," observed Newland, in a
low voice, full of awe.

They chafed his hands, and continued bathing his temples, keeping his
head up, till he gave signs of returning animation.

"Oh, I think he will recover now," exclaimed Digby, joyfully.  So they
put a pillow under his head, and watched him at a distance, till the
natural colour came back to his face.  Had he been alone with his
half-tipsy friends, he would, too probably, have died.  Not till he was
apparently out of danger did the fuelling of hunger return; and then
they got out their hampers and boxes, and set to work with right good
will.  They had plenty of good things; and it never occurred to them
that it would be necessary to go upon short allowance, if they were to
hold out for any length of time.

In the evening, there was a great cry out for tea; and though the
beer-drinkers at first opposed the motion, the majority carried it.  The
fire was lighted, and large quantities of liquid--some said it was only
sugar and water--was swallowed; and bread, and ham, and tongue, and jam
and other preserves, were consumed.

Night came at last.  Most of the fellows were very sleepy; but it was
agreed that it would be necessary to keep guard, or they might be taken
by surprise.  Digby found that he was one of those selected, if not for
a post of danger and honour, of great discomfort, and that he and three
others were to sit up half the night to keep watch, while the rest
slept.  He suggested that they should be divided into proper watches;
but a big fellow, Gray, who called himself Scarborough's lieutenant,
replied that he would not allow their arrangements to be interfered
with.

"If I ever again join a rebellion at school, I shall deserve to be
whipped for my folly, even more than for my disobedience," thought
Digby.

At last, all the fellows lay down.  Digby and his companions walked
about, and whistled, and sung, and tried to keep themselves awake by
every means in their power; but it was very hard work.  They had a few
candles, but could only venture to burn one at a time; so that the light
looked very dim and melancholy in the dense air of the large room.

"What donkeys we all are," thought Digby, as he looked at the forms of
his schoolfellows scattered about over the floor, many of them snoring,
others talking in their sleep, and others tumbling about, evidently not
enjoying quiet slumbers.  At last, he lay down, but it was some time,
even then, in consequence of the excitement he had undergone, and the
hot and close atmosphere, ere he could go to sleep.  Never, also, during
his previous life, had his slumbers been so disturbed and uncomfortable.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

A SIEGE WITHOUT BESIEGERS--HEROISM OF GARRISON--GENERAL PIKE AND THE
ARMY OF OBSERVATION--GARRISON YIELDS AT DISCRETION--A NEW SCHOOLMASTER,
AND GREAT IMPROVEMENTS IN THE SCHOOL.

The morning at last came.  Digby sat up and rubbed his eyes.  At first
he thought that he was in the smugglers' cave; then on board the lugger,
hurrying to her destruction; then in the sea-worn cavern into which he
had been at last cast.  At last he remembered where he was.  All he had
gone through on the above-mentioned occasion was trying enough, but he
had not himself to blame.  His present rather ridiculous discomfort he
had been at least instrumental in bringing on himself.  He tried to go
to sleep again, for he had no pleasant thoughts to keep him awake; so he
dozed on till the the usual loud-sounding bell rang to call the boys up.
That awoke him effectually, though some of the boys seemed to have a
satisfaction in continuing to lie down in spite of the bell.  Then the
first school-bell rang, and the breakfast-bell, and the second
school-bell--indeed, the day passed exactly as the previous one had
done.  No one came near them that they were aware of, nor were they able
to hold the slightest communication with anybody without.  Scarborough
drank more beer than he had done the day before, and was more tyrannical
than ever.  He and his friends smoked and drank all day, and, they said,
made themselves perfectly happy; but it was dreadfully dull work for all
the rest.  Oh, how they wished that matters could be brought to a
satisfactory conclusion.  They were not allowed to have dinner till
late, as before.  They managed to do pretty well at it, but at tea-time
bread began to run short.  They had laid in a smaller supply of that
than of anything else.  The night passed in thorough discomfort, but
with no interruption from without.  The next morning they were obliged
to breakfast on biscuits and sweetcakes; they had potatoes, but they
could not manage to cook enough of them properly; and at dinner they
were very badly off for some plain article of food to eat with their
pies and ham, and similar rich dishes.  At tea they were still worse
off; for though jam, and honey, and cheese, and tongue are all very good
things with bread, they do not make a good mixture without some of the
staff of life.

Still the more heroic declared that it would be a disgrace to yield for
such a trifle; indeed, it was difficult to say to whom they should
yield; for unless they had opened the door and sneaked out, there was no
other course for them to pursue than to stay where they were.  So they
had another night to spend on the bare boards, without changing their
clothes, or washing their hands and faces.  They had to breakfast on
ham, jam and honey, or bits of pie.  Fortunate were those who found some
scraps of plum-cake.  Even Scarborough's tobacco was running short, and
the beer was nearly expended.  This would have been fortunate in most
respects; but the prospect of having to go without it made him more
savage than ever.

"Never fear, old fellow," said Julian, touching him on the shoulder; "I
am up to a thing or two--look here!"

He showed him a couple of bottles of gin.

"There's comfort for you."

The wretched fellow's eyes glistened.  What was the comfort offered?  To
steep his senses in forgetfulness; to make himself like a brute.  He did
not think of that, though.  The gin bottles were soon concealed, and
Scarborough was again in better spirits.  There was not much dispute
about the time of dinner that day, as there was very little to eat.
Those who could get them, had to chew the hard tops, and the roots of
tongues, and the knuckles of hams, and the rind of cheese, and to finish
off with honey and marmalade; but even those who generally liked sweet
things the best had very little fancy for them now.  The water, too, had
become very mawkish and vapid, and there was scarcely any tea left; what
remained was used up that evening.  Still no one proposed giving in.
The bigger fellows dared not; the little ones did not know what to do;
and the more daring still lived on in hopes of an assault being made on
their stronghold, when they might have some excuse for yielding with
honour, but to be starved into submission was most derogatory to their
dignity.  That night was the most unpleasant of any.  Many of the
fellows were very sick; bad air, no exercise, and a mixture of salt ham
and sweet jam tended to disturb the economy of their insides.  Several
of the little fellows began to cry bitterly, and got books sent at their
heads in consequence by Scarborough, whenever he woke up and heard them.
The next morning the last drop of water in the jugs and basins was
expended, the potatoes were all baked or boiled, and every scrap of ham,
or tongue, or cheeseparing was consumed.  Hunger not only stared them in
the face, but was actually attacking their stomachs.  Few before knew
what very uncomfortable sensations it caused--how it could pinch; how
sick and how low-spirited it could make them feel.  Even Digby, Ranger,
and Newland began to think that means must be taken to put an end to
that state of things.  Had they known who was the general commanding the
forces opposed to them, they would not have held out so long.  Not poor
Mr Sanford; he was very ill, and knew nothing about the matter.  Not
Mr Yates; he had left the school, so had Monsieur Guillaume.  The
general was no other than Mrs Pike, and her whole army was represented
by Susan, who was furnished with the garden steps, by means of which she
was enabled to inspect at her convenience the proceedings of the heroic
garrison.  General Pike's spy and informant of the resources of the
enemy was little Tommy Bray, who, as his reward, had as many muffins and
cakes for breakfast and tea as he could eat, and a large supply of
pudding for dinner.  Through him General Pike knew the exact amount of
the money collected and the provisions purchased with it; and with this
data to go on, she sat down and calculated the exact time these
provisions were likely to last.  She thus knew perfectly well that by
Thursday morning the garrison must yield at discretion, and she had
arranged her plans accordingly.  Susan, on returning from her daily
reconnaissance, assured her that the garrison were not suffering from
fever, or from any dangerous ailment, but only that they generally
looked very stupid and dull, and that she was very certain that by the
afternoon they would be too happy to yield to any terms she might choose
to dictate.

"They have no fire, marm; and they don't seem to have a morsel of
anything to eat for breakfast," said Susan.

Mrs Pike was not very hard-hearted, but she knew that a little
starvation would do none of them much harm.

"We will wait till about an hour before dinner-time, and then we will go
and see what they have got to say for themselves," she observed, rubbing
her nose, which was a habit of hers when she was meditating on any
subject.  "By that hour Dr Graham will be here, and it is as well that
he should receive the young gentlemen's submission."

Long and serious consultations were now held within the garrison.  With
the exception of Scarborough and his immediate companions, or his
council, as he called them, all were unanimous that if terms were
offered they must yield to them.  Paul Newland, especially, was very
strenuous on this point.  "We have been great donkeys, of that there
cannot be the slightest doubt; but we shall be still greater if we keep
ourselves shut up here a moment longer than we can help," he observed.
"We have spent our money, we have made ourselves thoroughly
uncomfortable, we have lost many a jolly good game of play, and we have
obtained for ourselves a no very enviable character in the eyes of our
masters, while we shall all of us go home with black marks against our
names."

"But we have been fighting for a great principle.  We must remember that
our honours were concerned," answered Digby.

"Fighting!  We haven't fought at all," returned Newland.  "A great
principle!  I have been thinking over that point also.  Our great
principle should be obedience; that is one of the things we were sent to
school to learn.  I forget when I found it out, but I now clearly
remember it, and in adhering to that, depend on it our honours were
involved much more than in insisting on going out when, for some very
good reason probably, Mr Sanford thought fit to keep us in.  All I can
say is, that I wish he was well, and could have us up and flog us all
round, and so settle the matter off-hand.  I certainly don't like the
thoughts of yielding to old Yates."

A few acknowledged the justice of these opinions.  It was not to be
expected that many should do so.  The last sentiment was reciprocated by
all.

"The sooner, then, we make preparations for opening the door the
better," observed Farnham.

They possessed themselves of Spiller's tools.  That worthy, with Julian
Langley, Scarborough, and a few others, were sitting up in a corner,
puffing away slowly at their clay pipes, and sipping away at something
which they did not wish the rest to see.  They were too stupified to
observe what was being done.  The bars across the doors were removed;
their strength had never even been tried.  Then Farnham took down a
shutter, and in desperation threw open the windows to let some fresh air
in.  Oh, how delicious and sweet it was, compared to the poisonous
atmosphere they had been so long breathing.

"I, for one, vote that we all march out in order, and walk up and down
in the playground till some one comes to know what we want," exclaimed
Digby, as if a bright idea had struck him.  "Or, I will tell you what, I
don't mind going with a flag of truce straight up to Mr Sanford, to
tell him our grievances, and to ask what terms he will give us."

"Capital! grand! spirited!" shouted most of the fellows--at least they
moaned out, for they were not in a condition to shout.

Not a moment was allowed him to recede from his offer.  The largest and
the least dirty white pocket-handkerchief they could find was
immediately fastened on to the end of a broomstick.  There was a little
water remaining, in which Digby's hands and face were washed.  His hair
was combed with the only pocket comb to be found in the army, and his
clothes were brushed with the broom above spoken of, and his
shirt-collar smoothed down as much as was practicable.  Independently of
his spirit and discretion, he certainly looked fatter and less pale than
any of the rest, and was therefore the fittest envoy that could have
been selected to give the enemy a favourable opinion of the garrison.
They were, of course, not aware that Susan knew perfectly well all about
them.

Digby was all ready, with his flag in his hand.  He only waited for the
door to be opened.

"Come," exclaimed Ranger, "Heathcote may go on ahead as a herald, but I
do feel that it will be a crying shame and disgrace if we let him go
alone.  We ought all to fall in, and march out into the playground to
support him if necessary.  As for those boozing fellows up there in the
corner, they have deceived and cheated us, that is very evident.  We are
not bound to them; they may follow if they like."

Perhaps Ranger was not quite right in this, though Scarborough and his
set certainly did not deserve that terms should be kept with them.

The thoughts of fresh air and exercise, and the hope of bringing their
present uncomfortable condition to a termination, made the great mass,
without a moment's further consideration, yield to the proposal; and,
falling in together, the moment the door was opened and Digby had gone
forth, they hurried out after him.

No one was in the schoolroom, but it looked as if it had been swept, the
desks scraped and polished, and everything put in good order.

Out into the playground they marched, following Digby so closely that he
appeared to be at their head.  Ranger, Farnham, Newland, and his other
chief friends kept directly behind him.

They had just reached the playground, and were facing the glass door
opening from the house into it, when the door was opened, and a tall,
very gentlemanly, youngish-looking man appeared at it, with Mr Moore,
their favourite master, standing behind him.  The stranger advanced
towards them,--

"I am glad to meet you here, young gentlemen," he said, in a very
harmonious voice.  "I understand that you have for some days past shut
yourselves up in your play-room, in consequence, it is supposed, of your
being dissatisfied with some arrangements which were made regarding you.
My name is Dr Graham.  I am now the master of this school, Mr Sanford
having yielded his authority, with the sanction of your parents, into my
hands.  I shall at all times willingly listen to any complaints you have
to make.  Let me know the grievance which caused you to shut yourselves
up as _you_ have lately done."

Digby, in a manly and straightforward way, told him exactly why they had
thus acted.

"It was done at my request," said Dr Graham.  "I found, on inquiry,
that most reprehensible practices took place on these occasions, and as
I have a number of pupils of my own who will soon become the companions
of some of you, I wished to stop all liberty till I could arrange how to
deal with the culprits.  My object, understand, is to have a school of
happy, Christian, gentlemanly boys.  There is no reason why all should
not be very happy and contented; and I am resolved not to allow those of
whom I have hopes of becoming so to suffer for those of whom I can have
but very slight or no hope at all.  Mr Moore, are these all the boys?"

"No, Sir, there are several absent, who, I fear, must be justly placed
in the last category," answered Mr Moore.

"Where are they, then?" asked Dr Graham, looking at Digby.

"In the play-room, Sir," he answered, feeling as if he was acting a
treacherous part towards them; but truly he could have said only what he
did.

"We will go there at once, and see the state of affairs," said the
Doctor.  It is possible he might have guessed, though, from Susan's
information.  "Follow me, young gentlemen."

Guided by Mr Moore, he went direct to the play-room.

What was the consternation of the wretched tipplers when, looking up,
they found themselves deserted by their companions, and saw a stranger,
with one of their masters, at the door.  Scarborough tried to get up,
after gazing round at them in a stupid, idiotic way, but fell forward on
his face; while the rest sat still, stupidly glaring up at him and Mr
Moore.  At last, when they attempted to rise, they fell down as
Scarborough had done.

"I shall have little difficulty in settling how to deal with those
miserable fellows," said the Doctor, pointing scornfully at them.  "They
are, I conclude, from what Mrs Pike tells me, the heads and instigators
of this most sagaciously conducted and commendable rebellion.  Happily,
_I_ am not bound to keep any boy with whose character I am not
satisfied.  Mr Moore, I must request you to take down the names of
those I see in that corner of the room.  I wish also to know those of
the young gentlemen who met me openly in the playground, and especially
of their leader, with the flag of truce.  I accept it as a sign that
they are sorry for what has occurred, and grant a full amnesty to all
those who have followed it."

The boys, on hearing these words, spoken in a thoroughly kind, frank
manner, gave vent to their feelings in a loud hearty shout.  The
expressions touched all their better feelings.

"Long live Dr Graham!" cried Digby.

"May he long be our master, and we be his obedient attentive pupils!"
added Newland, who had the happy knack of giving the right turn to a
sentiment.

The cry was taken up by the rest of the boys, and the Doctor turned
round and said, smiling, "Thank you; I am well satisfied.  I feel sure
that we shall always be good friends.  Now go up into your rooms and get
ready for dinner."

The basins and jugs were carried upstairs, hands and faces were washed,
and clothes changed, and when the dinner-bell rang, they went down into
the dining-room, where Mrs Pike received them with a smile as if
nothing had happened, and all declared that they never had had so good a
dinner at the school--certainly, never had they been more hungry.  And
thus the mighty rebellion was concluded.  Dr Graham had not promised
that they should go out on a Saturday, so that they had gained nothing
whatever by their movement.

Only Mr Moore and Mrs Pike superintended at dinner.  The other three
masters, they found, had gone.

"Before we separate," said Mrs Pike, standing up when she had served
out the last helping of pudding, "I have a few words to say to you.  I
am very sorry that you spent three days so unpleasantly as you must have
done this week, because Mr Sanford had intended granting you, in
consequence of his illness, half-holidays every day, and but slight
tasks in the morning, till the arrival of Dr Graham, who has for some
time arranged to take charge of the school.  He had charged me to do my
best to find you amusement.  On Monday I had ordered carriages to take
you to a pic-nic in Fairley Wood; Tuesday, a famous conjuror was to have
come; and on Wednesday you were to have had a grand tea in the garden
here, and fireworks afterwards.  However, perhaps you thought yourselves
better employed.  All I can say is, that I am sorry for what has
occurred, but intend to forget all about it; though, as those who win
may laugh, I might be allowed, if I chose, to make fun of you."

"Sold again--admirably sold!" exclaimed Farnham to Digby, as they walked
into the playground.  They were not much inclined to play, though, for
never had they felt more weary and sleepy.  Though the fresh air revived
them, they heartily wished for bed-time.

It was soon whispered about that Doctor Graham had resolved on expelling
Scarborough and all his set.  Everybody acknowledged the justice of this
decision, and rejoiced at it.  The only one of the party who was allowed
to remain was Julian Langley, in consequence of his having only so
lately come to the school.

"Dr Graham," repeated Digby, after he and his companions had been
discussing the merits of their new master, "why, that is the very name
of the master of the school to which Arthur Haviland was going.  I
wonder where he comes from.  All I can say is, that he seems a
first-rate man, and sensible and kind, and so Arthur said his master
was."

Two days after this, Dr Graham announced that the pupils from his
former school were about to arrive.  In the evening, four carriages full
of them drew up at the door.  Digby looked eagerly out, and there, sure
enough, in the very first was Arthur Haviland.  How delighted were the
two friends to see each other.  The surprise was mutual, for neither of
them were certain that they were to meet.  The Doctor, knowing how
certain any change of this sort was to unsettle boys' minds, had not
told them till the last moment the arrangements which had been made.
The two sets of schoolboys became acquainted with each other with great
rapidity.  The Doctor had won the hearts of nearly all his new pupils by
his clemency and urbanity, while what was still more satisfactory, all
his old ones spoke in the warmest terms of him.

A new system was at once inaugurated.  A first master, a very
gentlemanly man and a good scholar, took the place of the little-loved
Mr Yates; Mr Moore kept his post as second master; the third, who took
the place of the ill-conditioned Mr Tugman, was a very nice,
quiet-looking lad, with whom at first the boys thought they could do
anything; but they very soon found that beneath that calm countenance
there dwelt a most determined spirit; that he had lately left a
first-rate public school, where he had been praeposter of his house, and
that he was thoroughly up to all the ways and dodges of boys.  He had
been for a short time at one of the Universities, which his want of
means had compelled him to leave, and thus he had become an usher for
the sake of saving money to take him there again.  He worked hard
himself, and he was determined that those under him should work hard
also.  The writing-master was also a gentleman, for Dr Graham felt the
importance of having a good example set, even in minute points, to those
whom he wished to see turn out gentlemen in every respect.  He had
explained to Mrs Pike his wish that all the provisioning and household
arrangements should be established on the most liberal footing.  I want
the boys to have as much and as pleasant food as they would have at
home, so that they may have no cause to regret coming here, because they
are no longer to have the nice things to which they have been
accustomed.  Teacups and saucers, and spoons, and plates, and knives,
were introduced at breakfast and tea, so that the boys might spread
their own bread with butter, or honey, or marmalade.  At dinner, too,
the usual arrangements of a gentleman's dining table were introduced--
plated spoons and forks, and glass tumblers--and there were fruit tarts
and puddings, and vegetables; indeed, an abundance of such things as
were in season.

"These may appear trifles, Mrs Pike," observed the Doctor, when that
thrifty housewife ventured to expostulate with him; "but they have a
considerable effect on boys.  I doubt whether they will very much
increase your weekly bills, and I am certain that they will assist to
give the lads gentlemanly tastes, and assist me very considerably in
managing them.  It is, believe me, much easier to govern a school of
gentlemanly boys than one full of those of an opposite character.  My
great wish is, to be able to place perfect confidence in their words.
They will then require much less supervision and much less constraint.
I explain this, because I think that you will aid in establishing those
principles."

"That I will, sir," answered Mrs Pike, who was a very sensible woman,
and saw at once the superiority of the Doctor's system over that which
had hitherto prevailed.

In a short time a marked difference was observed in the school, and the
boys were generally infinitely happier and more contented.  At the same
time there were still grumblers and dissatisfied ones.

"It is all very well--a new broom sweeps clean," said they.  "Wait a
little; we shall soon get back into our old ways."

They discovered, however, that the new broom went on sweeping cleaner
and cleaner, till only the bad had excuse for grumbling, because they
found it difficult to indulge in their malpractices.  Of course there
were bad ones, even though Scarborough and his set had been expelled.
Some of those the Doctor brought with him were bad, and some of those
who were already in the school were so, and they very soon found each
other out.

Julian Langley had plenty of companions, but still he tried very hard to
win back Digby's friendship.  Had Arthur Haviland not been there he
might have succeeded; but Arthur had gained a perfect insight into
Julian's character, and considered him a very dangerous companion for
Digby.  Julian very soon discovered now much Arthur disliked him, and
determined to have his revenge.

From the time of Dr Graham's arrival the whole system of the school was
completely changed.  There was a much stricter supervision, at the same
time that there was much more real liberty.  Bullying--that is to say,
glaring tyranny and cruelty--was almost entirely put a stop to; only the
would-be bullies and the very bad ones any longer could in any way
complain.  The Saturday excursions were once more allowed; but the boys
were especially charged not to trespass, or to do any damage; and they
had to pass their words that they would adhere strictly to the rules
laid down.  A monitorial system was established.  Six boys of different
ages were selected, for their general good conduct, discretion, temper,
and acknowledged high principles, to act as monitors.  They had a number
of privileges as a recompense for the onerous duties with which they
were entrusted, and which they were never known to neglect.  When any
distant excursion was made, one of the monitors was obliged to accompany
the party, and to give a full account of all their proceedings.  One of
the other boys was also frequently called on to do the same.  On all
half-holidays they might obtain leave to go out where they liked,
provided every two hours they came back and reported themselves, so that
no one could go to any great distance; nor could, as before, an
ill-conditioned fellow like Scarborough spend his time in smoking and
drinking without being found out.  Digby liked the change excessively;
he was constantly with Arthur Haviland, and benefited much by his
companionship; for, in truth, a high-principled boy has great power in
influencing his friends and associates for good.  Julian sneered, but
sneered in vain, and at last ceased to try and tempt Digby to join him
in his malpractices.  Still Digby found it very difficult to keep
altogether aloof from his former associate; there had been no cause of
quarrel between them, nothing that he could well allege to separate
them; and even the occasional remarks which Julian let fall, and the
knowledge of the mode in which he spent his time, did harm, and might
have had a serious effect on him, as it had undoubtedly on some of his
other schoolfellows.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

CONCLUSION.

In a well-ordered school there is naturally less scope for adventure
than in an ill-conducted one--such as Grangewood had become during poor
Mr Sanford's illness.

Dr Graham was strict and regular, but the boys were far happier than
they had ever been before.  He encouraged games of every description,
and all sorts of athletic exercises.  He had gymnastic poles erected; a
large swimming-place made, into which a stream of clear water, hitherto
of little use, was conducted.  He had also some boats built, and
launched on a large lake in the neighbourhood, which became the constant
resort of the boys during the half-holidays in summer.  He did not allow
them to boat, however, till they had learned to swim well, not only
without their clothes, but in them.  They were instructed also by an old
sailor, who lived near Grangewood, not only in rowing, but in sailing a
boat.  Here Digby, from the knowledge he had gained from Toby Tubb,
found himself superior to nearly all the other fellows.

He soon gained as much popularity among the boys who had come with Dr
Graham as among his former companions.  This might have been a dangerous
circumstance, had it not been for the good counsels of Arthur Haviland,
who, whenever he could do so judiciously, entreated him not to assume on
the popularity he was gaining.

"If you do, my dear Digby," said Arthur, "I shall almost wish that such
a fellow as you describe Scarborough to be was here to bully you a
little every now and then.  I am certain a long course of prosperity is
injurious to every one, unless he is reminded on how slight a tenure he
holds it, and learns both to appreciate and be grateful for it."

Hard as this lesson was to learn, Digby acknowledged its importance, and
did his best not to let pride get the better of him.  Julian Langley,
not intentionally, perhaps, was continually trying to counteract the
good advice which Arthur gave him.  Finding that he himself was sinking
down in the estimation of his schoolfellows, he thought that he might
help himself up again by clinging closer than he had for some time done
to Digby.  He had found that it did not answer to attempt to lead him
directly to do what was wrong; so in order to regain his confidence, he
set to work to flatter him in every way he could think of.  He was
continually saying, "My dear Digby, you know a popular fellow like you
can do anything.  I wonder you read so hard; you have talents enough to
help you without that.  Besides, what does an English country gentleman
want with reading?"

Digby was not altogether insensible to flattery; and though he did not
trust Julian, he did not exert himself to shake him off so completely as
it would have been wise for him to have done.

Dr Graham was not influenced by any narrow-minded, foolish prejudices,
and he took care that so strict a supervision should be exercised over
the boys from one end of the twenty-four hours to the other, that no
glaring malpractices could exist long undetected.  Altogether, when the
end of the half came, and Digby went home once more for his holidays, he
gave so favourable a report of the school, that, supported in it as he
was by Arthur Haviland, Mr and Mrs Heathcote resolved to send Gusty
back with him.  He had now, he felt, a very important responsibility
thrown upon him, and he resolved to fulfil it to the utmost of his
power.

Except for the sake of being with his parents and sisters, he could not
help confessing that he liked school as much as home, and in high
spirits, with little Gusty under his charge, he returned to Grangewood.
They had not been there long before Julian Langley made a dead set at
Gusty, as if he wished to establish himself as his protector and
counsellor.  At first Digby scarcely perceived this; then, when he at
length saw Julian frequently doing something or other for Gusty, he
thought it was very kind in him to take so much pains about the little
fellow.  It did not occur to him, indeed, that Julian was doing his
brother any harm, till one day Gusty made use of some expressions and
uttered some sentiments which he felt sure must have been learned from
Julian.  Happily, his eyes were at once opened, and he felt that, if he
would save his brother from the contaminating influence of his own
former companion, he must withdraw him at once from his society.  He
knew enough of human nature to be aware that if he at once denounced
Julian as a dangerous character, Gusty would, as the moth is to the
candle, very likely be attracted towards him, and he would probably have
answered--"Why may I not talk to him?  He is a friend of yours, I
thought, and you don't seem to fancy that he can do you harm."

In his difficulty he went to Arthur Haviland, who undertook to speak to
Gusty, and to warn him against Julian.

Arthur did so at once.  He was one of those people who feel that if a
thing is to be done, the sooner it is done the better.

Gusty cried at first, and seemed very unhappy, but at last acknowledged
that Julian had invited him to join some expedition or other, but that
he had not promised, because he thought that it was not quite right, but
that he feared he should, notwithstanding this, have ultimately done so.

"I will not ask you what it is," said Arthur; "but promise me that you
will not be tempted to have anything to do with the matter."

Gusty easily promised this, and Arthur was thankful that he had not
delayed speaking.

Gusty slept in his brother's room.  Two nights after this, another boy
in the same room was seen to leave it with his shoes in his hands.
Digby was awake, but said nothing.  He saw Gusty lift up his head.  The
other boy as he passed him whispered, "little Sneak," and went on.

Gusty answered, "I am not; you had better stay."  But his advice was
unheeded.

Digby could not conceive what was going to happen, but felt very glad
that Gusty had refused to join the expedition, or meeting, or whatever
it was which was taking place.  He tried to keep awake to speak to
Hanson, the boy who had gone out, to ascertain what he had been doing,
and he was sorry that he had not attempted to stop him by dissuading him
from doing what he had proposed.  At last, however, he fell asleep, and
as he did not awake till the bell rang, he had not time, after he was
dressed, to speak to Hanson.  The second bell rang, and the boys hurried
into school.

After prayers Dr Graham stood up in his desk, looking very grave.

"I had wished," he said, "to abolish flogging in the school; but while
any of the boys are guilty not only of ungentlemanly but dishonest
conduct, I must retain the custom, as I fear that it is the only
punishment which they are likely to dread.  I regret to say that seven
boys, of different ages, were guilty, last night, of going out of the
house, and of robbing the orchard of a neighbour.  He saw them, counted
their numbers, traced them back here.  He believes that he will be able
to identify some of them.  Instead of severely punishing them on the
spot, as they deserved, he came here this morning and told me of the
circumstance, that I may deal with them as I judge right.  Those who
were engaged in this notable exploit come forward and let me know what
you have to say for yourselves."

The Doctor ceased.  There was a pause, then a slight shuffling of feet,
and six boys left their desks, and slowly, and with evident reluctance,
walked up to the Doctor.

"I understood that there were seven.  I hope the seventh will soon make
his appearance."

The seventh, however, did not come up.  The Doctor then asked the six
who pleaded guilty what induced them to commit the crime.

One said, because he liked apples; another replied, because he had been
asked by others; but four of them confessed that they did it simply
because they liked the excitement and danger of the exploit.

"I believe that you have all told me the truth," answered the Doctor.
"One I shall flog, to teach him that he must not allow his appetite to
tempt him to commit a crime; the next, that he must not consent to do
what is wrong because another asks him; and the other four, because they
evidently require to have it impressed on their minds that taking that
which does not belong to them is a crime both in the sight of God and
man.  After breakfast, you six come into my room.  And now I wish the
seventh culprit to come forward.  I have given him time to consider what
he will do."

No one moved.

"Julian Langley, why do you not come forward?" said the Doctor, in a
stern voice.

"Sir, I know nothing about it," answered Julian, in a sharp, quick
voice.

"Whose shoe is this?" asked the Doctor.  "Come here, sir, and tell me."

Julian was now compelled to come forward.  He walked with an unabashed
air up to the Doctor's desk, casting a look either of triumph or scorn
at the boys who had confessed their crime.

"If that is my shoe, somebody may have dropped it, wherever it was
found," he observed, coolly.

"Did anybody carry away this knife, with your name engraved on it?"
asked the Doctor; "and how was it that you had only one shoe by your
bedside this morning, the fellow of this one, covered with mud of the
same colour?"

"Really, sir, those are difficult questions to answer just at present,"
replied Julian; "all I can say is, that I cannot account for the
circumstances you speak of."

"I would fain not believe you guilty of a direct falsehood, and I must,
therefore, conclude that the seventh thief who stole Mr Ladgrove's
apples is yet to be found," said the Doctor, gravely.  "But mark me,
Julian Langley, I especially charge these six boys, if they have any
respect for truth and honesty, and I also charge the rest of the school,
not to speak to you, not to hold any communication with you, for at
least a month to come, if they know you to be guilty of the crime which
you now deny.  I fix a month, because I hope during that time, if you
are guilty, and are so punished, you will repent of the crime of
stealing, as also of that of falsehood.  Now, sir, go back to your
seat."

The six boys who were to be flogged sat by themselves, and did not
approach, or even look at, Julian Langley.  Digby greatly feared that
Julian was guilty.  He watched them anxiously.  Hanson was one of them.
How grateful he felt that Gusty was not, and he resolved to watch over
him with greater care than he had before done.

After breakfast, the boys went to the Doctor's room to be flogged.  They
came back into school looking very unhappy, as boys are apt to do who
have been thus castigated.  The play hours came round, not one of them
went near Julian.  He approached one of them after the other, but they
all, even little Hanson, walked away from him.  Others besides Digby
were watching what would take place.

At length Arthur Haviland, Digby, Ranger, Newland and others called a
council, and agreed to inquire into the matter.  Although the guilty
boys considered themselves in honour bound not to confess to any of the
masters, yet when questioned directly by their own companions, they at
once owned that Julian Langley had not only been with them, but was
actually the very instigator of the expedition.  The consequence was,
that Julian was sent strictly to Coventry by the whole school.

During that whole month not a boy spoke to him.  Every one knew him to
be guilty.  He tried to get them to speak to him, and constantly spoke
to fellows, but no one would answer him.  The Doctor considered that he
was sufficiently punished, and those who had been flogged said that they
would a hundred times rather be flogged and get it over, than undergo
the punishment he had endured.  He did not, however, appear to feel the
disgrace, or the complete loss of his character.  As soon as the month
was over, he spoke to every one, and tried to enter into conversation
with all who would talk to him.  The Doctor, of course, knew all that
had occurred, and though he hoped that Julian would have been
sufficiently punished, he kept a very watchful eye over him.

At last the holidays again came round, and the Squire asked his boys if
they would like to invite Julian Langley to spend some of the time with
them.

"Oh, no, no," answered Digby, "on no account.  I am sure Kate does not
like him; nor do I as I used to do, and he is not a good companion for
Gusty."

Digby was quite surprised how rapidly the holidays came round and round.
Home was very pleasant, but so was school, and it was difficult to say
at which the time passed the quickest.  It had been intended that Digby
should be sent to Eton, but Squire Heathcote was so pleased with Dr
Graham's system, and the progress his boys made in every way, that he
resolved to let them remain on at Grangewood.

"People say that boys ought to be sent to public schools to get their
pride knocked out of them, to be taught manners, and to make
acquaintances who are likely to be useful to them in their future life,"
observed the Squire.  "Now, I may honestly boast that my boys have no
pride to be knocked out of them, their manners are good, and I hope that
they will make their own way without having to depend on others."

So Digby and Gusty remained on at Grangewood, Dr Graham did his utmost
to merit the confidence placed in him.  He devoted all his time and
thoughts not only to the mental instruction of his boys, but to making
them religious, and happy, and healthy, and true gentlemen, in the
fullest sense of the word.  Julian Langley did not long remain at the
school.  After the occurrence before described he had lost all
influence, as well as respect, in the school.  Still he contrived to
lead some of the other boys into mischief, and was, at length, guilty of
acts which induced the Doctor finally to expel him.  Digby continued
steadily and honestly to do his duty.  He became very popular with the
masters as well as with his companions--even Mrs Pike acknowledged that
she little thought when he first came that he would turn out so well.
He was one of the chief leaders at all games and sports, and few
surpassed him in any of their athletic exercises, at the same time that
no one read harder, or made better progress than he did.  At length he
rose to be the head of the school; and then, after a year spent partly
with Mr Nugent, and partly travelling with Arthur Haviland abroad, he
went to Cambridge, where Arthur already was.  Here, though one of the
most active boating and cricketing men, he read steadily and
perseveringly, and finally, very much to his own surprise, when he took
his degree, came out as a wrangler, though not so high up in the list as
his friend Arthur Haviland had been the year before.  [Note: a wrangler
is a person at Cambridge University who has passed their finals in
Mathematics with First Class Honours.]  During the long vacation, just
before his last term, he was reading with Mr Nugent, when, one evening,
a knock was heard at the door, and the maid-servant came in to say that
a person wished to see the Rector.  Mr Nugent went out, and there he
saw a stout, but pale-faced, ragged, altogether disreputable-looking
young man.

"What is it you want with me?" asked Mr Nugent, looking hard at him.

"What, don't even you know me?" asked the stranger, in a hoarse tone.

Again the Rector scanned his features.  "No, indeed I do not," he
answered.  "I think that you must be labouring under some mistake or
other."

"Indeed I am not," answered the stranger.  "I know you, Mr Nugent,
perfectly, and you once knew me.  If I was to tell you my name you might
be astonished, perhaps, for I was once a pupil of yours.  My name is
Julian Langley."

"Julian Langley!" exclaimed Mr Nugent, starting up.  "Are you brought
to this miserable condition?  But would not your father--would not your
friends assist you?"

"My father has discarded me, and I have no friends--no one who cares for
me," answered Julian, bitterly.  "I am suffering from hunger and thirst,
and am but half clothed, as you see.  I must die if I am not relieved.
Will you help me?"

"I will.  Come in; you shall have food at once," answered Mr Nugent.
"You will find an old friend here who will afford you, I know, his
sincerest sympathy, my nephew, Digby Heathcote."

"He will afford me his supercilious pity and contempt," muttered Julian.

"No, no, no," said Mr Nugent, kindly; "come in."

"Beggars must not be choosers," answered Julian, gruffly, following Mr
Nugent into the study.

Digby, till Mr Nugent mentioned his name, did not recognise Julian.
The moment he did, he sprang up, and putting out his hand pressed it
warmly; but Julian, turning away his head, received the greeting with
coldness and indifference.

"And how is it that you come to us in such a plight?" asked Mr Nugent,
after supper had been placed on the table, and Julian had done ample
justice to it.  "I inquire, pray understand, not for simple curiosity,
but that I may the better be able to help you."

"Thank you," answered Julian, filling a tumbler half full of brandy from
a spirit-case which stood on the table, and tossing off the contents.
"Oh, I have gone through all sorts of wonderful adventures.  I have been
out in Spain, fighting for the Constitutionalists against Don Carlos,
but I got more kicks than half-pence there; and then I was shipwrecked;
and, finally, I have been leading a somewhat vagabond life about
England.  I turned actor for a time, but the characters given me were
not very exalted, and I quarrelled with the manager, who was a brute,
and left the company.  Not a very lucid account of myself; but, at all
events, here I am without a farthing in my purse, or rather, without
even a purse to put a farthing in if I had one."  And with a look of
despair he turned his pockets inside out, and leant back in his chair.

Both Mr Nugent and Digby were silent.  They felt sure that his own
misconduct had brought him to his present condition, and yet they were
unwilling to hint to him that such was the case.  In the meantime he
once more leaned forward, and again helped himself largely from the
spirit-case.  Mr Nugent and Digby looked at each other.  They had no
difficulty in guessing the cause of his present condition.  Some
conversation ensued with the unhappy young man, but they could scarcely
hope that they were eliciting the truth from him.  There was no bed for
him in the house.  He said that he infinitely preferred sleeping at the
inn.  Against his better judgment, perhaps, as he was leaving the house,
Mr Nugent kindly put a five-pound note into his hand.  The next day he
did not appear, and Digby set off into the town to look for him.  He was
told that he was at the inn, in his room.  He found him with a spirit
bottle by his side, sitting on the floor, and perfectly unconscious.
Digby, begging the people of the house, who were but too well accustomed
to such events, to put him to bed, left the place, feeling that he could
then do nothing for him.  The next day, when Digby went back to the inn,
the landlord said that he had left it altogether, because he had refused
to supply him with more liquor.  Digby, determining to make another
attempt to rescue him from destruction, on inquiry, found that he had
gone on to a neighbouring town.  There he followed him, and there he
found him in the same condition as before, having spent the whole of Mr
Nugent's liberal gift.  Digby waited till he had recovered his senses,
spoke to him earnestly and kindly, entreating him to abandon his evil
courses.  At last Julian said that he had one aunt who would, he knew,
could he reach her house, try and reconcile him to his father, and that
he had resolved firmly to reform.  Digby instantly offered him ten
pounds, urging him to set off without delay to his relative's house.

Thus the former friends, who had started together in life with such
equal advantages, parted.

Digby in vain waited to hear from Julian.  He never reached his
relative's house.  Nearly a year after that, Digby heard of his death in
a hospital, of _delirium tremens_, a most horrible complaint, brought on
by excessive drinking.

A couple of years after Arthur Haviland left College, the papers
announced his marriage with Katharine, third daughter of Digby
Heathcote, Esq, of Bloxholme, etc.

"I am truly thankful that my dear, dear little sister Kate has married
so excellent a fellow," wrote Digby to an old friend, when speaking of
the event.  "What a contrast to that wretched being, Julian Langley,
whom my father and his had once intended for her.  I have known Arthur
for a number of years.  He is, and he always was as a boy, a thoroughly
high-principled, honourable fellow, a sincere, pious Christian, and as
kind-hearted, sensible, and judicious as any person I have ever met.  I
am convinced of the truth of the saying that `the boy is the father of
the man.'  I have had many proofs of it in my experience, and I should
always strongly recommend my friends to reflect what their friends were
as boys before they introduce them to their families, and especially to
their sisters, whose jealous guardians they should ever endeavour to
prove."

No one laboured harder to prepare the triumphal arches to welcome Miss
Kate, as he called her, on her first visit to Bloxholme after the event
mentioned above, than did John Pratt, and curious were the presents he
had prepared for her, most of which might have suited her early tastes,
but certainly not her present ones.  Among other things were two young
kittens, a litter of ferrets, four pigeons, a flitch of bacon--this was
given, as he said, in advance--a puppy, and a nest of young owlets.  He
continues as active as ever, and the constant attendant on Digby in all
rural sports whenever the young heir pays a visit to his home.

Toby Tubb, though grown somewhat fatter, still follows his calling on
the river; and Digby, whenever he goes to Osberton in the summer, seldom
fails to take a pull or a sail in his boat.

Though the companions of his boyhood are scattered far and wide over the
face of the globe, he keeps up a frequent correspondence with many of
them, and he has the satisfaction of finding that his honest,
courageous, straightforward character has secured that sincere
friendship and respect which neither distance nor time lessens or
alters.

May all the readers of Digby Heathcote's early life endeavour to deserve
and maintain the same character; and if his example induces any to
imitate it who might otherwise have taken a different course, the author
will be truly glad that he committed this history to paper.

THE END.





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