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Title: The Channings: A Story
Author: Wood, Henry, Mrs., 1814-1887
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Channings: A Story" ***

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THE CHANNINGS

A STORY

By Mrs. Henry Wood

Author Of "East Lynne," "Johnny Ludlow," Etc.


_Two Hundred And Tenth Thousand_

1901



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER

       I. THE INKED SURPLICE
      II. BAD NEWS
     III. CONSTANCE CHANNING
      IV. NO HOLIDAY TO-DAY
       V. ROLAND YORKE
      VI. LADY AUGUSTA YORKE AT HOME
     VII. MR. KETCH
    VIII. THE ASSISTANT-ORGANIST
      IX. HAMISH'S CANDLES
       X. A FALSE ALARM
      XI. THE CLOISTER KEYS
     XII. A MISHAP TO THE BISHOP
    XIII. MAD NANCE
     XIV. KEEPING OFFICE
      XV. A SPLASH IN THE RIVER
     XVI. MUCH TO ALTER
    XVII. SUNDAY MORNING AT MR. CHANNING'S, AND AT LADY AUGUSTA'S
   XVIII. MR. JENKINS ALIVE AGAIN
     XIX. THE LOSS
      XX. THE LOOMING OF AN AWFUL FEAR
     XXI. MR. BUTTERBY
    XXII. AN INTERRUPTED DINNER
   XXIII.  AN ESCORT TO THE GUILDHALL
    XXIV. THE EXAMINATION
     XXV. A MORNING CALL
    XXVI. CHECKMATED
   XXVII. A PIECE OF PREFERMENT
  XXVIII. AN APPEAL TO THE DEAN
    XXIX. A TASTE OF "TAN"
     XXX. THE DEPARTURE
    XXXI. ABROAD
   XXXII. AN OMINOUS COUGH
  XXXIII. NO SENIORSHIP FOR TOM CHANNING
   XXXIV. GERALD YORKE MADE INTO A "BLOCK"
    XXXV. THE EARL OF CARRICK
   XXXVI. ELLEN HUNTLEY
  XXXVII. THE CONSPIRATORS
 XXXVIII. THE DECISION
   XXXIX. THE GHOST
      XL. MR. KETCH'S EVENING VISIT
     XLI. THE SEARCH
    XLII. AN OFFICIAL CEREMONY INTERRUPTED
   XLIII. DRAGGING THE RIVER
    XLIV. MR. JENKINS IN A DILEMMA
     XLV. A NEW SUSPICION
    XLVI. A LETTER FOR MR. GALLOWAY
   XLVII. DARK CLOUDS
  XLVIII. MUFFINS FOR TEA
    XLIX. A CHÂTEAU EN ESPAGNE
       L. REALLY GONE!
      LI. AN ARRIVAL IN A FLY
     LII. A RELIC FROM THE BURIAL-GROUND
    LIII. THE RETURN HOME
     LIV. "THE SHIP'S DROWNED"
      LV. NEWS FROM ROLAND
     LVI. THE BROKEN PHIAL
    LVII. A GHOST AGAIN
   LVIII. BYWATER'S DANCE
     LIX. READY
      LX. IN WHAT DOES IT LIE?


    I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
        Across the schoolboy's brain;
    The song and the silence in the heart,
    That in part are prophecies, and in part
        Are longings wild and vain.
          And the voice of that fitful song
          Sings on and is never still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."


   Strange to me now are the forms I meet
        When I visit the dear old town;
    But the native air is pure and sweet,
    And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,
        As they balance up and down,
          Are singing the beautiful song,
          Are sighing and whispering still:
          "A boy's will is the wind's will,
 And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."



CHAPTER I.


THE INKED SURPLICE.

The sweet bells of Helstonleigh Cathedral were ringing out in the
summer's afternoon. Groups of people lined the streets, in greater
number than the ordinary business of the day would have brought forth;
some pacing with idle steps, some halting to talk with one another,
some looking in silence towards a certain point, as far as the eye could
reach; all waiting in expectation.

It was the first day of Helstonleigh Assizes; that is, the day on
which the courts of law began their sittings. Generally speaking,
the commission was opened at Helstonleigh on a Saturday; but for some
convenience in the arrangements of the circuit, it was fixed this time
for Wednesday; and when those cathedral bells burst forth, they gave
signal that the judges had arrived and were entering the sheriff's
carriage, which had gone out to meet them.

A fine sight, carrying in it much of majesty, was the procession, as it
passed through the streets with its slow and stately steps; and although
Helstonleigh saw it twice a year, it looked at it with gratified eyes
still, and made the day into a sort of holiday. The trumpeters
rode first, blowing the proud note of advance, and the long line of
well-mounted javelin men came next, two abreast; their attire that of
the livery of the high sheriff's family, and their javelins held in
rest. Sundry officials followed, and the governor of the county gaol
sat in an open carriage, his long white wand raised in the air. Then
appeared the handsome, closed equipage of the sheriff, its four horses,
caparisoned with silver, pawing the ground, for they chafed at the slow
pace to which they were restrained. In it, in their scarlet robes and
flowing wigs, carrying awe to many a young spectator, sat the judges.
The high sheriff sat opposite to them, his chaplain by his side, in his
gown and bands. A crowd of gentlemen, friends of the sheriff, followed
on horseback; and a mob of ragamuffins brought up the rear.

To the assize courts the procession took its way, and there the short
business of opening the commission was gone through, when the judges
re-entered the carriage to proceed to the cathedral, having been joined
by the mayor and corporation. The sweet bells of Helstonleigh were
still ringing out, not to welcome the judges to the city now, but as an
invitation to them to come and worship God. Within the grand entrance
of the cathedral, waiting to receive the judges, stood the Dean of
Helstonleigh, two or three of the chapter, two of the minor canons, and
the king's scholars and choristers, all in their white robes. The bells
ceased; the fine organ pealed out--and there are few finer organs in
England than that of Helstonleigh--the vergers with their silver maces,
and the decrepit old bedesmen in their black gowns, led the way to the
choir, the long scarlet trains of the judges held up behind: and places
were found for all.

The Rev. John Pye began the service; it was his week for chanting.
He was one of the senior minor canons, and head-master of the college
school. At the desk opposite to him sat the Rev. William Yorke, a young
man who had only just gained his minor canonry.

The service went on smoothly until the commencement of the anthem. In
one sense it went on smoothly to the end, for no person present, not
even the judges themselves, could see that anything was wrong. Mr. Pye
was what was called "chanter" to the cathedral, which meant that it was
he who had the privilege of selecting the music for the chants and other
portions of the service, when the dean did not do so himself. The anthem
he had put up for this occasion was a very good one, taken from the
Psalms of David. It commenced with a treble solo; it was, moreover, an
especial favourite of Mr. Pye's; and he complacently disposed himself to
listen.

But no sooner was the symphony over, no sooner had the first notes of
the chorister sounded on Mr. Pye's ear, than his face slightly flushed,
and he lifted his head with a sharp, quick gesture. _That_ was not the
voice which ought to have sung this fine anthem; that was a cracked,
_passée_ voice, belonging to the senior chorister, a young gentleman
of seventeen, who was going out of the choir at Michaelmas. He had done
good service for the choir in his day, but his voice was breaking now;
and the last time he had attempted a solo, the bishop (who interfered
most rarely with the executive of the cathedral; and, indeed, it was not
his province to do so) had spoken himself to Mr. Pye on the conclusion
of the service, and said the boy ought not to be allowed to sing alone
again.

Mr. Pye bent his head forward to catch a glimpse of the choristers,
five of whom sat on his side of the choir, the _decani_; five on the
opposite, or _cantori_ side. So far as he could see, the boy, Stephen
Bywater, who ought to have taken the anthem, was not in his place. There
appeared to be only four of them; but the senior boy with his clean,
starched surplice, partially hid those below him. Mr. Pye wondered where
his eyes could have been, not to have noticed the boy's absence when
they had all been gathered round the entrance, waiting for the judges.

Had Mr. Pye's attention not been fully engrossed with his book, As the
service had gone on, he might have seen the boy opposite to him; for
there sat Bywater, before the bench of king's scholars, and right in
front of Mr. Pye. Mr. Pye's glance fell upon him now, and he could
scarcely believe it. He rubbed his eyes, and looked, and rubbed again.
Bywater there! and without his surplice! braving, as it were, the
head-master! What could he possibly mean by this act of insubordination?
Why was he not in his place in the school? Why was he mixing with
the congregation? But Mr. Pye could as yet obtain no solution to the
mystery.

The anthem came to an end; the dean had bent his brow at the solo, but
it did no good; and, the prayers over, the sheriff's chaplain ascended
to the pulpit to preach the sermon. He selected his text from St. John's
Gospel: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is
born of the Spirit is spirit." In the course of his sermon he pointed
out that the unhappy prisoners in the gaol, awaiting the summons to
answer before an earthly tribunal for the evil deeds they had committed,
had been led into their present miserable condition by the seductions
of the flesh. They had fallen into sin, he went on, by the indulgence of
their passions; they had placed no restraint upon their animal appetites
and guilty pleasures; they had sunk gradually into crime, and had now to
meet the penalty of the law. But did no blame, he asked, attach to those
who had remained indifferent to their downward course; who had never
stretched forth a friendly hand to rescue them from destruction; who had
made no effort to teach and guide in the ways of truth and righteousness
these outcasts of society? Were we, he demanded, at liberty to ignore
our responsibility by asking in the words of earth's first criminal, "Am
I my brother's keeper?" No; it was at once our duty and our privilege to
engage in the noble work of man's reformation--to raise the fallen--to
seek out the lost, and to restore the outcast; and this, he argued,
could only be accomplished by a widely-disseminated knowledge of God's
truth, by patient, self-denying labour in God's work, and by a devout
dependence on God's Holy Spirit.

At the conclusion of the service the head-master proceeded to the
vestry, where the minor canons, choristers, and lay-clerks kept their
surplices. Not the dean and chapter; they robed in the chapter-house:
and the king's scholars put on their surplices in the schoolroom. The
choristers followed Mr. Pye to the vestry, Bywater entering with them.
The boys grouped themselves together: they were expecting--to use their
own expression--a row.

"Bywater, what is the meaning of this conduct?" was the master's stern
demand.

"I had no surplice, sir," was Bywater's answer--a saucy-looking boy
with a red face, who had a propensity for getting into "rows," and,
consequently, into punishment.

"No surplice!" repeated Mr. Pye--for the like excuse had never been
offered by a college boy before. "What do you mean?"

"We were ordered to wear clean surplices this afternoon. I brought mine
to college this morning; I left it here in the vestry, and took the
dirty one home. Well, sir, when I came to put it on this afternoon, it
was gone."

"How could it have gone? Nonsense, sir! Who would touch your surplice?"

"But I could _not_ find it, sir," repeated Bywater. "The choristers know
I couldn't; and they left me hunting for it when they went into the hall
to receive the judges. I could not go into my stall, sir, and sing the
anthem without my surplice."

"Hurst had no business to sing it," was the vexed rejoinder of the
master. "You know your voice is gone, Hurst. You should have gone up to
the organist, stated the case, and had another anthem put up."

"But, sir, I was expecting Bywater in every minute. I thought he'd be
sure to find his surplice somewhere," was Hurst's defence. "And when he
did not come, and it grew too late to do anything, I thought it better
to take the anthem myself than to give it to a junior, who would be safe
to have made a mess of it. Better for the judges and other strangers to
hear a faded voice in Helstonleigh Cathedral, than to hear bad singing."

The master did not speak. So far, Hurst's argument had reason in it.

"And--I beg your pardon for what I am about to say, sir," Hurst went on:
"but I hope you will allow me to assure you beforehand, that neither
I, nor my juniors under me, have had a hand in this affair. Bywater has
just told me that the surplice is found, and how; and blame is sure
to be cast upon us; but I declare that not one of us has been in the
mischief."

Mr. Pye opened his eyes. "What now?" he asked. "What is the mischief?"

"I found the surplice afterwards, sir," Bywater said. "This is it."

He spoke meaningly, as if preparing them for a surprise, and pointed to
a corner of the vestry. There lay a clean, but tumbled surplice, half
soaked in ink. The head-master and Mr. Yorke, lay-clerks and choristers,
all gathered round, and stared in amazement.

"They shall pay me the worth of the surplice," spoke Bywater, an angry
shade crossing his usually good-tempered face.

"And have a double flogging into the bargain," exclaimed the master.
"Who has done this?"

"It looks as though it had been rabbled up for the purpose," cried
Hurst, in schoolboy phraseology, bending down and touching it gingerly
with his finger. "The ink has been poured on to it."

"Where did you find it?" sharply demanded the master--not that he was
angry with the boys before him, but he felt angry that the thing should
have taken place.

"I found it behind the screen, sir," replied Bywater. "I thought I'd
look there, as a last resource, and there it was. I should think nobody
has been behind that screen for a twelvemonth past, for it's over ankles
in dust there."

"And you know nothing of it, Hurst?"

"Nothing whatever, sir," was the reply of the senior chorister, spoken
earnestly. "When Bywater whispered to me what had occurred, I set it
down as the work of one of the choristers, and I taxed them with it. But
they all denied it strenuously, and I believe they spoke the truth. I
put them on their honour."

The head-master peered at the choristers. Innocence was in every
face--not guilt; and he, with Hurst, believed he must look elsewhere for
the culprit. That it had been done by a college boy there could be no
doubt whatever; either out of spite to Bywater, or from pure love of
mischief. The king's scholars had no business in the vestry; but just at
this period the cathedral was undergoing repair, and they could enter,
if so minded, at any time of the day, the doors being left open for the
convenience of the workmen.

The master turned out of the vestry. The cathedral was emptied of its
crowd, leaving nothing but the dust to tell of what had been, and the
bells once more went pealing forth over the city. Mr. Pye crossed the
nave, and quitted the cathedral by the cloister door, followed by the
choristers. The schoolroom, once the large refectory of the monks in
monkish days, was on the opposite side of the cloisters; a large room,
which you gained by steps, and whose high windows were many feet from
the ground. Could you have climbed to those windows, and looked from
them, you would have beheld a fair scene. A clear river wound under the
cathedral walls; beyond its green banks were greener meadows, stretching
out in the distance; far-famed, beautiful hills bounded the horizon.
Close by, were the prebendal houses; some built of red stone, some
covered with ivy, all venerable with age. Pleasant gardens surrounded
most of them, and dark old elms towered aloft, sheltering the rooks,
which seemed as old as the trees.

The king's scholars were in the schoolroom, cramming their surplices
into bags, or preparing to walk home with them thrown upon their arms,
and making enough hubbub to alarm the rooks. It dropped to a dead calm
at sight of the master. On holidays--and this was one--it was not
usual for the masters to enter the school after service. The school was
founded by royal charter--its number limited to forty boys, who were
called king's scholars, ten of whom, those whose voices were the best,
were chosen choristers. The master marched to his desk, and made a sign
for the boys to approach, addressing himself to the senior boy.

"Gaunt, some mischief has been done in the vestry, touching Bywater's
surplice. Do you know anything of it?"

"No, sir," was the prompt answer. And Gaunt was one who scorned to tell
a lie.

The master ranged his eyes round the circle. "Who does?"

There was no reply. The boys looked at one another, a sort of stolid
surprise for the most part predominating. Mr. Pye resumed:

"Bywater tells me that he left his clean surplice in the vestry this
morning. This afternoon it was found thrown behind the screen, tumbled
together, beyond all doubt purposely, and partially covered with ink. I
ask, who has done this?"

"I have not, sir," burst forth from most of the boys simultaneously. The
seniors, of whom there were three besides Gaunt, remained silent. But
this was nothing unusual; for the seniors, unless expressly questioned
or taxed with a fault, did not accustom themselves to a voluntary
denial.

"I can only think this has been the result of accident," continued the
head-master. "It is incredible to suppose any one of you would wantonly
destroy a surplice. If so, let that boy, whoever he may have been, speak
up honourably, and I will forgive him. I conclude that the ink must
have been spilt upon it, I say accidentally, and that he then, in his
consternation, tumbled the surplice together, and threw it out of sight
behind the screen. It had been more straightforward, more in accordance
with what I wish you all to be--boys of thorough truth and honour--had
he candidly confessed it. But the fear of the moment may have frightened
his better judgment away. Let him acknowledge it now, and I will forgive
him; though of course he must pay Bywater for another surplice."

A dead silence.

"Do you hear, boys?" the master sternly asked.

No answer from any one; nothing but continued silence. The master rose,
and his countenance assumed its most severe expression.

"Hear further, boys. That it is one of you, I am convinced; and your
refusing to speak compels me to fear that it was _not_ an accident, but
a premeditated, wicked act. I now warn you, whoever did it, that if I
can discover the author or authors, he or they shall be punished with
the utmost severity, short of expulsion, that is allowed by the rules of
the school. Seniors, I call for your aid in this. Look to it."

The master left the schoolroom, and Babel broke loose--questioning,
denying, protesting, one of another. Bywater was surrounded.

"Won't there be a stunning flogging? Bywater, who did it? Do you know?"

Bywater sat himself astride over the end of a bench, and nodded. The
senior boy turned to him, some slight surprise in his look and tone.

"Do you know, Bywater?"

"Pretty well, Gaunt. There are two fellows in this school, one's at your
desk, one's at the second desk, and I believe they'd either of them do
me a nasty turn if they could. It was one of them."

"Who do you mean?" asked Gaunt eagerly.

Bywater laughed. "Thank you. If I tell now, it may defeat the ends of
justice, as the newspapers say. I'll wait till I am sure--and then, let
him look to himself. _I_ won't spare him, and I don't fancy Pye will."

"You'll never find out, if you don't find out at once, Bywater," cried
Hurst.

"Shan't I? You'll see," was the significant answer. "It's some distance
from here to the vestry of the cathedral, and a fellow could scarcely
steal there and steal back without being seen by somebody. It was done
stealthily, mark you; and when folks go on stealthy errands they are
safe to be met."

Before he had finished speaking, a gentlemanly-looking boy of about
twelve, with delicate features, a damask flush on his face, and wavy
auburn hair, sprang up with a start. "Why!" he exclaimed, "I saw--" And
there he came to a sudden halt, and the flush on his cheek grew deeper,
and then faded again. It was a face of exceeding beauty, refined almost
as a girl's, and it had gained for him in the school the _sobriquet_ of
"Miss."

"What's the matter with you, Miss Charley?"

"Oh, nothing, Bywater."

"Charley Channing," exclaimed Gaunt, "do you know who did it?"

"If I did, Gaunt, I should not tell," was the fearless answer.

"_Do_ you know, Charley?" cried Tom Channing, who was one of the seniors
of the school.

"Where's the good of asking that wretched little muff?" burst forth
Gerald Yorke. "He's only a girl. How do you know it was not one of the
lay-clerks, Bywater? They carry ink in their pockets, I'll lay. Or any
of the masons might have gone into the vestry, for the matter of that."

"It wasn't a lay-clerk, and it wasn't a mason," stoically nodded
Bywater. "It was a college boy. And I shall lay my finger upon him as
soon as I am a little bit surer than I am. I am three parts sure now."

"If Charley Channing does not suspect somebody, I'm not here," exclaimed
Hurst, who had closely watched the movement alluded to; and he brought
his hand down fiercely on the desk as he spoke. "Come, Miss Channing,
just shell out what you know; it's a shame the choristers should lie
under such a ban: and of course we _shall_ do so, with Pye."

"You be quiet, Hurst, and let Miss Charley alone," drawled Bywater. "I
don't want him, or anybody else to get pummelled to powder; I'll find
it out for myself, I say. Won't my old aunt be in a way though, when
she sees the surplice, and finds she has another to make! I say, Hurst,
didn't you croak out that solo! Their lordships in the wigs will be
soliciting your photograph as a keepsake."

"I hope they'll set it in diamonds," retorted Hurst.

The boys began to file out, putting on their trenchers, as they
clattered down the steps. Charley Channing sat himself down in the
cloisters on a pile of books, as if willing that the rest should pass
out before him. His brother saw him sitting there, and came up to him,
speaking in an undertone.

"Charley, you know the rules of the school: one boy must not tell of
another. As Bywater says, you'd get pummelled to powder."

"Look here, Tom. I tell you--"

"Hold your tongue, boy!" sharply cried Tom Channing. "Do you forget
that I am a senior? You heard the master's words. We know no brothers in
school life, you must remember."

Charley laughed. "Tom, you think I am a child, I believe. I didn't enter
the school yesterday. All I was going to tell you was this: I don't
know any more than you who inked the surplice; and suspicion goes for
nothing."

"All right," said Tom Channing, as he flew after the rest; and Charley
sat on, and fell into a reverie.

The senior boy of the school, you have heard, was Gaunt. The other three
seniors, Tom Channing, Harry Huntley, and Gerald Yorke, possessed a
considerable amount of power; but nothing equal to that vested in Gaunt.
They had all three entered the school on the same day, and had kept pace
with each other as they worked their way up in it, consequently not one
could be said to hold priority; and when Gaunt should quit the school at
the following Michaelmas, one of the three would become senior. Which,
you may wish to ask? Ah, we don't know that, yet.

Charley Channing--a truthful, good boy, full of integrity, kind and
loving by nature, and a universal favourite--sat tilted on the books. He
was wishing with all his heart that he had not seen something which
he had seen that day. He had been going through the cloisters in the
afternoon, about the time that all Helstonleigh, college boys included,
were in the streets watching for the sheriff's procession, when he saw
one of the seniors steal (Bywater had been happy in the epithet) out of
the cathedral into the quiet cloisters, peer about him, and then throw
a broken ink-bottle into the graveyard which the cloisters enclosed. The
boy stole away without perceiving Charley; and there sat Charley now,
trying to persuade himself by some ingenious sophistry--which, however,
he knew _was_ sophistry--that the senior might not have been the one in
the mischief; that the ink-bottle might have been on legitimate duty,
and that he threw it from him because it was broken. Charles Channing
did not like these unpleasant secrets. There was in the school a code of
honour--the boys called it so--that one should not tell of another; and
if the head-master ever went the length of calling the seniors to his
aid, those seniors deemed themselves compelled to declare it, if the
fault became known to them. Hence Tom Channing's hasty arrest of his
brother's words.

"I wonder if I could see the ink-bottle there?" quoth Charles to
himself. Rising from the books he ran through the cloisters to a certain
part, and there, by a dexterous spring, perched himself on to the frame
of the open mullioned windows. The gravestones lay pretty thick in the
square, enclosed yard, the long, dank grass growing around them; but
there appeared to be no trace of an ink-bottle.

"What on earth are you mounted up there for? Come down instantly. You
know the row there has been about the walls getting defaced."

The speaker was Gerald Yorke, who had come up silently. Openly disobey
him, young Channing dared not, for the seniors exacted obedience in
school and out of it. "I'll get down directly, sir. I am not hurting the
wall."

"What are you looking at? What is there to see?" demanded Yorke.

"Nothing particular. I was looking for what I can't see," pointedly
returned Charley.

"Look here, Miss Channing; I don't quite understand you to-day. You were
excessively mysterious in school, just now, over that surplice affair.
Who's to know you were not in the mess yourself?"

"I think you might know it," returned Charley, as he jumped down. "It
was more likely to have been you than I."

Yorke laid hold of him, clutching his jacket with a firm grasp. "You
insolent young jackanapes! Now! what do you mean? You don't stir from
here till you tell me."

"I'll tell you, Mr. Yorke; I'd rather tell," cried the boy, sinking his
voice to a whisper. "I was here when you came peeping out of the college
doors this afternoon, and I saw you come up to this niche, and fling
away an ink-bottle."

Yorke's face flushed scarlet. He was a tall, strong fellow, with a pale
complexion, thick, projecting lips, and black hair, promising fair to
make a Hercules--but all the Yorkes were finely framed. He gave young
Channing a taste of his strength; the boy, when shaken, was in his hands
as a very reed. "You miserable imp! Do you know who is said to be the
father of lies?"

"Let me alone, sir. It's no lie, and you know it's not. But I promise
you on my honour that I won't split. I'll keep it in close; always, if I
can. The worst of me is, I bring things out sometimes without thought,"
he added ingenuously. "I know I do; but I'll try and keep in this. You
needn't be in a passion, Yorke; I couldn't help seeing what I did. It
wasn't my fault."

Yorke's face had grown purple with anger. "Charles Channing, if you
don't: unsay what you have said, I'll beat you to within an inch of your
life."

"I can't unsay it," was the answer.

"You can't!" reiterated Yorke, grasping him as a hawk would a pigeon.
"How dare you brave me to my presence? Unsay the lie you have told."

"I am in God's presence, Yorke, as well as in yours," cried the boy,
reverently; "and I will not tell a lie."

"Then take your whacking! I'll teach you what it is to invent
fabrications! I'll put you up for--"

Yorke's tongue and hands stopped. Turning out of the private
cloister-entrance of the deanery, right upon them, had come Dr. Gardner,
one of the prebendaries. He cast a displeased glance at Yorke, not
speaking; and little Channing, touching his trencher to the doctor, flew
to the place where he had left his books, caught them up, and ran out of
the cloisters towards home.



CHAPTER II.


BAD NEWS.

The ground near the cathedral, occupied by the deanery and the prebendal
residences, was called the Boundaries. There were a few other houses in
it, chiefly of a moderate size, inhabited by private families. Across
the open gravel walk, in front of the south cloister entrance, was
the house appropriated to the headmaster; and the Channings lived in
a smaller one, nearly on the confines of the Boundaries. A portico led
into it, and there was a sitting-room on either side the hall. Charley
entered; and was going, full dash, across the hall to a small room where
the boys studied, singing at the top of his voice, when the old servant
of the family, Judith, an antiquated body, in a snow-white mob-cap and
check apron, met him, and seized his arm.

"Hush, child! There's ill news in the house."

Charley dropped his voice to an awe-struck whisper. "What is it, Judith?
Is papa worse?"

"Child! there's illness of mind as well as of body. I didn't say
sickness; I said ill news. I don't rightly understand it; the mistress
said a word to me, and I guessed the rest. And it was me that took in
the letter! _Me_! I wish I had put it in my kitchen fire first!"

"Is it--Judith, is it news of the--the cause? Is it over?"

"It's over, as I gathered. 'Twas a London letter, and it came by the
afternoon post. All the poor master's hopes and dependencies for years
have been wrested from him. And if they'd give me my way, I'd prosecute
them postmen for bringing such ill luck to a body's door."

Charles stood something like a statue, the bright, sensitive colour
deserting his cheek. One of those causes, Might _versus_ Right, of which
there are so many in the world, had been pending in the Channing family
for years and years. It included a considerable amount of money, which
ought, long ago, to have devolved peaceably to Mr. Channing; but Might
was against him, and Might threw it into Chancery. The decision of the
Vice-Chancellor had been given for Mr. Channing, upon which Might, in
his overbearing power, carried it to a higher tribunal. Possibly the
final decision, from which there could be no appeal, had now come.

"Judith," Charles asked, after a pause, "did you hear whether--whether
the letter--I mean the news--had anything to do with the Lord
Chancellor?"

"Oh, bother the Lord Chancellor!" was Judith's response. "It had to do
with somebody that's an enemy to your poor papa. I know that much. Who's
this?"

The hall door had opened, and Judith and Charles turned towards it. A
gay, bright-featured young man of three and twenty entered, tall and
handsome, as it was in the nature of the Channings to be. He was the
eldest son of the family, James; or, as he was invariably styled,
Hamish. He rose six foot two in his stockings, was well made, and
upright. In grace and strength of frame the Yorkes and the Channings
stood A1 in Helstonleigh.

"Now, then! What are you two concocting? Is he coming over you again
to let him make more toffy, Judy, and burn out the bottom of another
saucepan?"

"Hamish, Judy says there's bad news come in by the London post. I am
afraid the Lord Chancellor has given judgment--given it against us."

The careless smile, the half-mocking, expression left the lips of
Hamish. He glanced from Judith to Charles, from Charles to Judith. "Is
it sure?" he breathed.

"It's sure that it's awful news of some sort," returned Judith; "and the
mistress said to me that all was over now. They be all in there, but you
two," pointing with her finger to the parlour on the left of the hall;
"and you had better go in to them. Master Hamish--"

"Well?" returned Hamish, in a tone of abstraction.

"You must every one of you just make the best of it, and comfort the
poor master. You are young and strong; while he--you know what _he_ is.
You, in special, Master Hamish, for you're the eldest born, and were the
first of 'em that I ever nursed upon my knee."

"Of course--of course," he hastily replied. "But, oh, Judith! you don't
know half the ill this must bring upon us! Come along, Charley; let us
hear the worst."

Laying his arm with an affectionate gesture round the boy's neck, Hamish
drew him towards the parlour. It was a square, light, cheerful room.
Not the best room: that was on the other side the hall. On a sofa,
underneath the window, reclined Mr. Channing, his head and shoulders
partly raised by cushions. His illness had continued long, and now, it
was feared, had become chronic. A remarkably fine specimen of manhood he
must have been in his day, his countenance one of thoughtful goodness,
pleasant to look upon. Arthur, the second son, had inherited its
thoughtfulness, its expression of goodness; James, its beauty; but there
was a great likeness between all the four sons. Arthur, only nineteen,
was nearly as tall as his brother. He stood bending over the arm of his
father's sofa. Tom, looking very blank and cross, sat at the table, his
elbows leaning on it. Mrs. Channing's pale, sweet face was bent towards
her daughter's, Constance, a graceful girl of one and twenty;
and Annabel, a troublesome young lady of nearly fourteen, was
surreptitiously giving twitches to Tom's hair.

Arthur moved from the place next his father when Hamish entered, as if
yielding him the right to stand there. A more united family it would be
impossible to find. The brothers and sisters loved each other dearly,
and Hamish they almost reverenced--excepting Annabel. Plenty of love the
child possessed; but of reverence, little. With his gay good humour,
and his indulgent, merry-hearted spirit, Hamish Channing was one to earn
love as his right, somewhat thoughtless though he was. Thoroughly well,
in the highest sense of the term, had the Channings been reared. Not of
their own wisdom had Mr. and Mrs. Channing trained their children.

"What's the matter, sir?" asked Hamish, smoothing his brow, and
suffering the hopeful smile to return to his lips. "Judith says some
outrageous luck has arrived; come express, by post."

"Joke while you may, Hamish," interposed Mrs. Channing, in a low voice;
"I shrink from telling it you. Can you not guess the news?"

Hamish looked round at each, individually, with his sunny smile, and
then let it rest upon his mother. "The very worst I can guess is not so
bad. We are all here in our accustomed health. Had we sent Annabel up
in that new balloon they are advertising, I might fancy it had capsized
with her--as it _will_ some day. Annabel, never you be persuaded to
mount the air in that fashion."

"Hamish! Hamish!" gently reproved Mrs. Channing. But perhaps she
discerned the motive which actuated him. Annabel clapped her hands. She
would have thought it great fun to go up in a balloon.

"Well, mother, the worst tidings that the whole world could bring upon
us cannot, I say, be very dreadful, while we can discuss them as we are
doing now," said Hamish. "I suppose the Lord Chancellor has pronounced
against us?"

"Irrevocably. The suit is for ever at an end, and we have lost it."

"Hamish is right," interrupted Mr. Channing. "When the letter arrived,
I was for a short time overwhelmed. But I begin to see it already in a
less desponding light; and by to-morrow I dare say I shall be cheerful
over it. One blessed thing--children, I say advisedly, a 'blessed'
thing--the worry will be over."

Charley lifted his head. "The worry, papa?"

"Ay, my boy. The agitation--the perpetual excitement--the sickening
suspense--the yearning for the end. You cannot understand this, Charley;
you can none of you picture it, as it has been, for me. Could I have
gone abroad, as other men, it would have shaken itself off amidst the
bustle of the world, and have pressed upon me only at odd times and
seasons. But here have I lain; suspense my constant companion. It was
not right, to allow the anxiety so to work upon me: but I could not help
it; I really could not."

"We shall manage to do without it, papa," said Arthur.

"Yes; after a bit, we shall manage very well. The worst is, we are
behindhand in our payments; for you know how surely I counted upon this.
It ought to have been mine; it was mine by full right of justice, though
it now seems that the law was against me. It is a great affliction; but
it is one of those which may be borne with an open brow."

"What do you mean, papa?"

"Afflictions are of two kinds. The one we bring upon ourselves, through
our own misconduct; the other is laid upon us by God for our own
advantage. Yes, my boys, we receive many blessings in disguise. Trouble
of this sort will only serve to draw out your manly energies, to make
you engage vigorously in the business of life, to strengthen your
self-dependence and your trust in God. This calamity of the lost lawsuit
we must all meet bravely. One mercy, at any rate, the news has brought
with it."

"What is that?" asked Mrs. Channing, lifting her sad face.

"When I have glanced to the possibility of the decision being against
me, I have wondered _how_ I should pay its long and heavy costs; whether
our home must not be broken up to do it, and ourselves turned out upon
the world. But the costs are not to fall upon me; all are to be paid out
of the estate."

"That's good news!" ejaculated Hamish, his face radiant, as he nodded
around.

"My darling boys," resumed Mr. Channing, "you must all work and do your
best. I had thought this money would have made things easier for you;
but it is not to be. Not that I would have a boy of mine cherish for a
moment the sad and vain dream which some do--that of living in idleness.
God has sent us all into the world to work; some with their hands, some
with their heads; all according to their abilities and their station.
You will not be the worse off," Mr. Charming added with a smile, "for
working a little harder than you once thought would be necessary."

"Perhaps the money may come to us, after all, by some miracle,"
suggested Charley.

"No," replied Mr. Channing. "It has wholly gone from us. It is as much
lost to us as though we had never possessed a claim to it."

It was even so. This decision of the Lord Chancellor had taken it from
the Channing family for ever.

"Never mind!" cried Tom, throwing up his trencher, which he had
carelessly carried into the room with him. "As papa says, we have our
hands and brains: and they often win the race against money in the long
run."

Yes. The boys had active hands and healthy brains--no despicable
inheritance, when added to a firm faith in God, and an ardent wish to
use, and not misuse, the talents given to them.



CHAPTER III.


CONSTANCE CHANNING.

How true is the old proverb--"Man proposes but God disposes!" God's ways
are not as our ways. His dealings with us are often mysterious. Happy
those, who can detect His hand in all the varied chances and changes of
the world.

I am not sure that we can quite picture to ourselves the life that had
been Mr. Channing's. Of gentle birth, and reared to no profession,
the inheritance which ought to have come to him was looked upon as
a sufficient independence. That it would come to him, had never been
doubted by himself or by others; and it was only at the very moment when
he thought he was going to take possession of it, that some enemy set up
a claim and threw it into Chancery. You may object to the word "enemy,"
but it could certainly not be looked upon as the act of a friend. By
every right, in all justice, it belonged to James Channing; but he who
put in his claim, taking advantage of a quibble of law, was a rich man
and a mighty one. I should not like to take possession of another's
money in such a manner. The good, old-fashioned, wholesome fear would be
upon me, that it would bring no good either to me or mine.

James Channing never supposed but that the money would be his some time.
Meanwhile he sought and obtained employment to occupy his days; to bring
"grist to the mill," until the patrimony should come. Hoping, hoping,
hoping on; hope and disappointment, hope and disappointment--there was
nothing else for years and years; and you know who has said, that "Hope
deferred maketh the heart sick." There have been many such cases in the
world, but I question, I say, if we can quite realize them. However,
the end had come--the certainty of disappointment; and Mr. Channing was
already beginning to be thankful that suspense, at any rate, was over.

He was the head of an office--or it may be more correct to say the head
of the Helstonleigh branch of it, for the establishment was a London
one--a large, important concern, including various departments of
Insurance. Hamish was in the same office; and since Mr. Channing's
rheumatism had become chronic, it was Hamish who chiefly transacted the
business of the office, generally bringing home the books when he left,
and going over them in the evening with his father. Thus the work
was effectually transacted, and Mr. Channing retained his salary.
The directors were contented that it should be so, for Mr. Channing
possessed their thorough respect and esteem.

After the ill news was communicated to them, the boys left the parlour,
and assembled in a group in the study, at the back of the house, to talk
it over. Constance was with them, but they would not admit Annabel. A
shady, pleasant, untidy room was that study, opening to a cool, shady
garden. It had oil-cloth on the floor instead of carpeting, and books
and playthings were strewed about it.

"What an awful shame that there should be so much injustice in the
world!" spoke passionate Tom, flinging his Euripides on the table.

"But for one thing, I should be rather glad the worry's over," cried
Hamish. "We know the worst now--that we have only ourselves to trust
to."

"Our hands and brains, as Tom said," remarked Charley. "What is the 'one
thing' that you mean, Hamish?"

Hamish seized Charley by the waist, lifted him up, and let him drop
again. "It is what does not concern little boys to know: and I don't see
why you should be in here with us, young sir, any more than Annabel."

"A presentiment that this would be the ending has been upon me for some
time," broke in the gentle voice of Constance. "In my own mind I have
kept laying out plans for us all. You see, it is not as though we should
enjoy the full income that we have hitherto had."

"What's that, Constance?" asked Tom hotly. "The decision does not touch
papa's salary; and you heard him say that the costs were to be paid
out of the estate. A pretty thing it would be if any big-wigged Lord
Chancellor could take away the money that a man works hard for!"

"Hasty, as usual, Tom," she said with a smile. "You know--we all
know--that, counting fully upon this money, papa is behindhand in his
payments. They must be paid off now in the best way that may be found:
and it will take so much from his income. It will make no difference to
you, Tom; all you can do, is to try on heartily for the seniorship and
the exhibition."

"Oh, won't it make a difference to me, though!" retorted Tom. "And
suppose I don't gain it, Constance?"

"Then you will have to work all the harder, Tom, in some other walk of
life. Failing the exhibition, of course there will be no chance of your
going up to the university; and you must give up the hope of entering
the Church. The worst off--the one upon whom this disappointment must
fall the hardest--will be Arthur."

Arthur Channing--astride on the arm of the old-fashioned sofa--lifted
his large deep blue eyes to Constance with a flash of intelligence: it
seemed to say, that she only spoke of what he already knew. He had been
silent hitherto; he was of a silent nature: a quiet, loving, tender
nature: while the rest spoke, he was content to think.

"Ay, that it will!" exclaimed Hamish. "What will become of your articles
now, Arthur?"

It should be explained that Arthur had entered the office of Mr.
Galloway, who was a proctor, and also was steward to the Dean and
Chapter. Arthur was only a subordinate in it, a clerk receiving pay--and
very short pay, too; but it was intended that he should enter upon
his articles as soon as this money that should be theirs enabled Mr.
Channing to pay for them. Hamish might well ask what would become of his
articles now!

"I can't see a single step before me," cried Arthur. "Except that I must
stay on as I am, a paid clerk."

"What rubbish, Arthur!" flashed Tom, who possessed a considerable share
of temper when it was roused. "As if you, Arthur Channing, could remain
a paid clerk at Galloway's! Why, you'd be on a level with Jenkins--old
Jenkins's son. Roland Yorke _would_ look down on you then; more than he
does now. And that need not be!"

The sensitive crimson dyed Arthur's fair open brow. Of all the failings
that he found it most difficult to subdue in his own heart, pride bore
the greatest share. From the moment the ill news had come to his father,
the boy felt that he should have to do fierce battle with his pride;
that there was ever-recurring mortification laid up in store for it.
"But I _can_ battle with it," he bravely whispered to himself: "and I
will do it, God helping me."

"I may whistle for my new cricket-bat and stumps now," grumbled Tom.

"And I wonder when I shall have my new clothes?" added Charley.

"How selfish we all are!" broke forth Arthur.

"Selfish?" chafed Tom.

"Yes, selfish. Here we are, croaking over our petty disappointments, and
forgetting the worst share that falls upon papa. Failing this money, how
will he go to the German baths?"

A pause of consternation. In their own grievances the boys had lost
sight of the hope which had recently been shared by them all. An eminent
physician, passing through Helstonleigh, had seen Mr. Channing, and
given his opinion that if he would visit certain medicinal spas in
Germany, health might be restored to him. When the cause should be
terminated in their favour, Mr. Channing had intended to set out. But
now it was given against him; and hope of setting out had gone with it.

"I wish I could carry him on my back to Germany, and work to keep him
while he stayed there!" impulsively spoke Tom. "Wretchedly selfish we
have been, to dwell on our disappointments, by the side of papa's. I
wish I was older."

Constance was standing against the window. She was of middle height,
thoroughly ladylike and graceful; her features fair and beautiful, and
her dark-blue eyes and smooth white brow wonderfully like Arthur's. She
wore a muslin dress with a delicate pink sprig upon it, the lace of
its open sleeves falling on her pretty white hands, which were playing
unconsciously with a spray of jessamine, while she listened to her
brothers as each spoke.

"Tom," she interposed, in answer to the last remark, "it is of no use
wishing for impossibilities. We must look steadfastly at things as they
exist, and see what is the best that can be made of them. All that you
and Charles can do is to work well on at your studies--Annabel the same;
and it is to be hoped this blow will take some of her thoughtlessness
out of her. Hamish, and Arthur, and I, must try and be more active than
we have been."

"You!" echoed Arthur. "Why, what can you do, Constance?"

A soft blush rose to her cheeks. "I tell you that I have seemed to
anticipate this," she said, "and my mind has busied itself with plans
and projects. I shall look out for a situation as daily governess."

A groan of anger burst from Tom. His quick temper, and Arthur's pride,
alike rose up and resented the words. "A daily governess! It is only
another name for a servant. Fine, that would be, for Miss Channing!"

Constance laughed. "Oh, Tom! there are worse misfortunes at sea. I would
go out wholly, but that papa would not like to spare me, and I must take
Annabel for music and other things of an evening. Don't look cross. It
is an excellent thought; and I shall not mind it."

"What will mamma say?" asked Tom, ironically. "You just ask her!"

"Mamma knows," replied Constance. "Mamma has had her fears about the
termination of the lawsuit, just as I have. Ah! while you boys were
laughing and joking, and pursuing your sports or your studies of a
night, I and mamma would be talking over the shadowed future. I told
mamma that if the time and the necessity came for turning my education
and talents to account, I should do it with a willing heart; and
mamma, being rather more sensible than her impetuous son Tom, cordially
approved."

Tom made a paper bullet and flung it at Constance, his honest eyes half
laughing.

"So should I approve," said Hamish. "It is a case, taking into
consideration my father's state, in which all of us should help who are
able. Of course, were you boys grown up and getting money, Constance
_should_ be exempt from aiding and abetting; but as it is, it is
different. There will be no disgrace in her becoming a governess; and
Helstonleigh will never think it so. She is a lady always, and so she
would be if she were to turn to and wash up dishes. The only doubt is--"

He stopped, and looked hesitatingly at Constance. As if penetrating his
meaning, her eyes fell before his.

"--Whether Yorke will like it," went on Hamish, as though he had not
halted in his sentence. And the pretty blush in Constance Channing's
face deepened to a glowing crimson. Tom made a whole heap of bullets at
once, and showered them on to her.

"So Hamish--be quiet, Tom!--you may inquire all over Helstonleigh
to-morrow, whether any one wants a governess; a well-trained young lady
of twenty-one, who can play, sing, and paint, speak really good
English, and decent French, and has a smattering of German," rattled
on Constance, as if to cover her blushes. "I shall ask forty guineas a
year. Do you think I shall get it?"

"I think you ought to ask eighty," said Arthur.

"So I would, if I were thirty-one instead of twenty-one," said
Constance. "Oh dear! here am I, laughing and joking over it, but it is a
serious thing to undertake--the instruction of the young. I hope I shall
be enabled to do my duty in it. What's that?"

It was a merry, mocking laugh, which came from the outside of the
window, and then a head of auburn hair, wild and entangled, was pushed
up, and in burst Annabel, her saucy dark eyes dancing with delight.

"You locked me out, but I have been outside the window and heard it
all," cried she, dancing before them in the most provoking manner.
"Arthur can only be a paid clerk, and Constance is going to be a
governess and get forty guineas a year, and if Tom doesn't gain his
exhibition he must turn bell-ringer to the college, for papa can't pay
for him at the university now!"

"What do you deserve, you wicked little picture of deceit?" demanded
Hamish. "Do you forget the old story of the listener who lost his ears?"

"I always do listen whenever I can, and I always will," avowed Annabel.
"I have warned you so a hundred times over, and now I warn you again. I
wish Tom _would_ turn bell-ringer! I'd make him ring a peal that should
astonish Helstonleigh, the day Constance goes out as governess. Shan't
I have a fine time of it! It's lessons for me now, morning, noon, and
night,--she's always worrying me; but, once let us get her back turned,
and I shall have whole holiday! She may think I'll do my lessons with
her at night; but I won't!"

The boys began to chase her round the table. She was almost a match for
all four--a troublesome, indulged, sunny-hearted child, who delighted in
committing faults, that she might have the pleasure of avowing them. She
flew out into the garden, first knocking over Constance's paint-box, and
some of them went after her.

At that moment Mr. Yorke came in. You have seen him once before, in
his place in Helstonleigh Cathedral: a tall, slender man, with pale,
well-formed features, and an attractive smile. His dark eyes rested on
Constance as he entered, and once more the brilliant colour lighted up
her face. When prospects should be a little better--that is, when Mr.
Yorke should have a sufficient living bestowed upon him--Constance was
to become his wife. His stipend from the minor canonry was at present
trifling.

"Judith met me in the hall as I was going into the parlour, and told me
I had better come here," he observed. "She said bad news had arrived for
Mr. Channing."

"Yes," answered Hamish. "The lawsuit is lost."

"Lost!" echoed Mr. Yorke.

"Irrevocably. We were discussing ways and means amongst ourselves," said
Hamish, "for of course this changes our prospects materially."

"And Constance is going out as a governess, if she can find any one to
take her, and Arthur is to plod on with Joe Jenkins, and Tom means to
apply for the post of bell-ringer to the cathedral," interposed the
incorrigible Annabel, who had once more darted in, and heard the last
words. "Can you recommend Constance to a situation, Mr. Yorke?"

He treated the information lightly; laughed at and with Annabel; but
Constance noticed that a flush crossed his brow, and that he quitted the
subject.

"Has the inked surplice been found out, Tom,--I mean the culprit?"

"Not yet, Mr. Yorke."

"Charles, you can tell me who it was, I hear?"

There was a startled glance for a moment in Charles's eye, as he looked
up at Mr. Yorke, and an unconscious meaning in his tone.

"Why, do _you_ know who it was, sir?"

"Not I," said Mr. Yorke. "I know that, whoever it may have been deserves
a sound flogging, if he did it willfully."

"Then, sir, why do you suppose I know?"

"I met Hurst just now, and he stopped me with the news that he was sure
Charley Channing could put his hand upon the offender, if he chose to do
it. It was not yourself, was it Charley?"

Mr. Yorke laughed as he asked the question. Charley laughed also, but in
a constrained manner. Meanwhile the others, to whom the topic had been
as Sanscrit, demanded an explanation, which Mr. Yorke gave, so far as he
was cognizant of the facts.

"What a shame to spoil a surplice! Have you cause to suspect any
particular boy, Charley?" demanded Hamish.

"Don't ask him in my presence," interrupted Tom in the same hurried
manner that he had used in the cloisters. "I should be compelled in
honour to inform the master, and Charley would have his life thrashed
out of him by the school."

"Don't _you_ ask me, either, Mr. Yorke," said Charles; and the tone
of his voice, still unconsciously to himself, bore a strange serious
earnestness.

"Why not?" returned Mr. Yorke. "I am not a senior of the college school,
and under obedience to its head-master."

"If you are all to stop in this room, I and Tom shall never get our
lessons done," was all the reply made by Charles, as he drew a chair to
the table and opened his exercise books.

"And I never could afford that," cried Tom, following his example, and
looking out the books he required. "It won't do to let Huntley and Yorke
get ahead of me."

"Trying for the seniorship as strenuously as ever, Tom?" asked Mr.
Yorke.

"Of course I am," replied Tom Channing, lifting his eyes in slight
surprise. "And I hope to get it."

"Which of the three stands the best chance?"

"Well," said Tom, "it will be about a neck-and-neck race between us. My
name stands first on the rolls of the school; therefore, were our merits
equal, in strict justice it ought to be given to me. But the master
could pass me over if he pleased, and decide upon either of the other
two."

"Which of those two stands first on the rolls?"

"Harry Huntley. Yorke is the last. But that does not count for much,
you know, Mr. Yorke, as we all entered together. They enrolled us as our
initial letters stood in the alphabet."

"It will turn wholly upon your scholastic merits, then? I hear--but
Helstonleigh is famous for its gossip--that in past times it has
frequently gone by favour."

"So it has," said Tom Channing, throwing back his head with a whole
world of indignation in the action. "Eligible boys have been passed
over, and the most incapable dolt set up above them; all because his
friends were in a good position, and hand-in-glove with the head-master.
I don't mean Pye, you know; before he came. It's said the last case was
so flagrant that it came to the ears of the dean, and he interfered
and forbade favour for the future. At any rate, there's an impression
running through the school that merit and conduct, taken together, will
be allowed fair play."

"Conduct?" echoed Arthur Channing.

Tom nodded:--"Conduct is to be brought in, this time. One day, when the
first desk fell into a row with the head-master, through some mischief
we had gone into out of school, he asked us if we were aware that
our conduct, as it might be good or ill, might gain or lose us the
seniorship. Yorke, who is bold enough, you know, for ten, remarked that
that was a new dodge, and the master overheard the words, and said,
Yes, he was happy to say there were many new 'dodges' he had seen fit to
introduce, which he trusted might tend to make the school different from
what it had been. Of course we had the laugh at Yorke; but the master
took no more notice of it. Since then, I assure you, Mr. Yorke, our
behaviour has been a pattern for young ladies--mine, and Huntley's, and
Yorke's. We don't care to lose a chance."

Tom Channing nodded sagaciously as he concluded, and they left the room
to him and Charles.



CHAPTER IV.


NO HOLIDAY TO-DAY.

"Now, Constance, that we have a moment alone, what is this about you?"
began Mr. Yorke, as they stood together in the garden.

"Annabel said the truth--that I do think of going out as daily
governess," she replied, bending over a carnation to hide the blush
which rose to her cheeks, a very rival to the blushing flower. "It is a
great misfortune that has fallen upon us--at least we can only look at
it in that light at present, and will, beyond doubt, be productive of
some embarrassment. Do you not see, William, that it is incumbent upon
us all to endeavour to lighten this embarrassment, those of us who can
do so? I must assume my share of the burden."

Mr. Yorke was silent. Constance took it for granted that he was
displeased. He was of an excellent family, and she supposed he disliked
the step she was about to take--deemed it would be derogatory to his
future wife.

"Have you fully made up your mind?" he at length asked.

"Yes. I have talked it over with mamma--for indeed she and I both seem
to have anticipated this--and she thinks with me, that it is what I
ought to do. William, how could I reconcile it to my conscience not to
help?" she continued. "Think of papa! think of his strait! It appears to
be a plain duty thrown in my path."

"By yourself, Constance?"

"Not by myself," she whispered, lifting for a moment her large blue
eyes. "Oh, William, William, do not be displeased with me! do not forbid
it! It is honourable to work--it is right to do what we can. Strive to
see it in the right light."

"Let that carnation alone, Constance; give your attention to me. What if
I do forbid it?"

She walked a little forward, leaving the carnation bed, and halted under
the shade of the dark cedar tree, her heart and colour alike fading. Mr.
Yorke followed and stood before her.

"William, I must do my duty. There is no other way open to me, by
which I can earn something to help in this time of need, except that
of becoming a governess. Many a lady, better born than I, has done it
before me."

"A daily governess, I think you said?"

"Papa could not spare me to go out altogether; Annabel could not spare
me either; and--"

"I would not spare you," he struck in, filling up her pause. "Was that
what you were about to say, Constance?"

The rosy hue stole over her face again, and a sweet smile to her lips:
"Oh, William, if you will only sanction it! I shall go about it then
with the lightest heart!"

He looked at her with an expression she did not understand, and shook
his head. Constance thought it a negative shake, and her hopes fell
again. "You did not answer my question," said Mr. Yorke. "What if I
forbid it?"

"But it seems to be my duty," she urged from between her pale and parted
lips.

"Constance, that is no answer."

"Oh, do not, do not! William, do not you throw this temptation in my
way--that of choosing between yourself and a plain duty that lies before
me."

"The temptation, as you call it, must be for a later consideration. Why
will you not answer me? What would be your course if I forbade it?"

"I do not know. But, Oh, William, if you gave me up--"

She could not continue. She turned away to hide her face from Mr. Yorke.
He followed and obtained forcible view of it. It was wet with tears.

"Nay, but I did not mean to carry it so far as to cause you real grief,
my dearest," he said, in a changed tone. "Though you brought it on
yourself," he added, laughing, as he bent his face down.

"How did I bring it on myself?"

"By doubting me. I saw you doubted me at the first, when Annabel spoke
of it in the study. Constance, if you, possessed as you are of great
acquirements, refused from any notion of false pride, to exert them for
your family in a time of need, I should say you were little fitted for
the wife of one whose whole duty it must be to do his Master's work."

"You will sanction the measure then?" she rejoined, her countenance
lighting up.

"How could you doubt me? I wish I could make a home at once to take you
to; but as you must remain in this a little longer, it is only fair
that you should contribute to its maintenance. We all have to bend to
circumstances. I shall not love my wife the less, because she has had
the courage to turn her talents to account. What could you be thinking
of, child?"

"Forgive me, William," she softly pleaded. "But you looked so grave and
were so silent."

Mr. Yorke smiled. "The truth is, Constance, I was turning in my mind
whether I could not help to place you, and pondering the advantages and
disadvantages of a situation I know of. Lady Augusta is looking out for
a daily governess."

"Is she?" exclaimed Constance. "I wonder whether--I--should suit her?"

Constance spoke hesitatingly. The thought which had flashed over her own
mind was, whether Lady Augusta Yorke could afford to pay her
sufficient remuneration. Probably the same doubt had made one of the
"disadvantages" hinted at by Mr. Yorke.

"I called there yesterday, and interrupted a 'scene' between Lady
Augusta and Miss Caroline," he said. "Unseemly anger on my lady's part,
and rebellion on Carry's, forming, as usual, its chief features."

"But Lady Augusta is so indulgent to her children!" interrupted
Constance.

"Perniciously indulgent, generally; and when the effects break out in
insolence and disobedience, then there ensues a scene. If you go there
you will witness them occasionally, and I assure you they are not
edifying. You must endeavour to train the girls to something better than
they have been trained to yet, Constance."

"If I do go."

"I knew how long it would last, Lady Augusta's instructing them
herself," resumed Mr. Yorke. "It is not a month since the governess
left."

"Why does she wish to take a daily governess instead of one in the
house?"

"_Why_ Lady Augusta does a thing, is scarcely ever to be accounted for,
by herself or by any one else!" replied Mr. Yorke. "Some convenience, or
inconvenience, she mentioned to me, about sleeping arrangements. Shall
I ascertain particulars for you, Constance; touching salary and other
matters?"

"If you please. Papa is somewhat fastidious; but he could not object
to my going there; and its being so very near our own house would be a
great point of--"

"Constance!" interrupted a voice at this juncture. "Is Mr. Yorke there?"

"He is here, mamma," replied Constance, walking forward to Mrs.
Channing, Mr. Yorke attending her.

"I thought I heard you enter," she said, as Mr. Yorke took her hand.
"Mr. Channing will be pleased to see you, if you will come in and chat
with him. The children have told you the tidings. It is a great blow to
their prospects."

"But they seem determined to bear it bravely," he answered, in a hearty
tone. "You may be proud to have such children, Mrs. Channing."

"Not proud," she softly said. "Thankful!"

"True. I am obliged to you for correcting me," was the clergyman's
ingenuous answer, as he walked, with Mrs. Channing, across the hall.
Constance halted, for Judith came out of the kitchen, and spoke in a
whisper.

"And what's the right and the wrong of it, Miss Constance? _Is_ the
money gone?"

"Gone entirely, Judith. Gone for good."

"For good!" groaned Judith; "I should say for ill. Why does the Queen
let there be a Lord Chancellor?"

"It is not the Lord Chancellor's fault, Judith. He only administers the
law."

"Why couldn't he just as well have given it _for_ your papa, as against
him?"

"I suppose he considers that the law is on the other side," sighed
Constance.

Judith, with a pettish movement, returned to her kitchen; and at that
moment Hamish came downstairs. He had changed his dress, and had a pair
of new white gloves in his hand.

"Are you going out to-night, Hamish?"

There was a stress on the word "to-night," and Hamish marked it. "I
promised, you know, Constance. And my staying away would do no good; it
could not improve things. Fare you well, my pretty sister. Tell mamma I
shall be home by eleven."

"It'll be a sad cut-down for 'em all," muttered Judith, gazing at Hamish
round the kitchen door-post. "Where he'll find money for his white
gloves and things now, is beyond my telling, the darling boy! If I could
but get to that Lord Chancellor!"

Had you possessed the privilege of living in Helstonleigh at the time of
which this story treats--and I can assure you you might live in a less
privileged city--it is possible that, on the morning following the above
events, your peaceful slumbers might have been rudely broken by a noise,
loud enough to waken the seven sleepers of Ephesus.

Before seven o'clock, the whole school, choristers and king's scholars,
assembled in the cloisters. But, instead of entering the schoolroom for
early school, they formed themselves into a dense mass (if you ever saw
schoolboys march otherwise, I have not), and, treading on each other's
heels, proceeded through the town to the lodgings of the judges, in
pursuance of a time-honoured custom. There the head-boy sent in his name
to the very chamber of the Lord Chief Justice, who happened this time to
have come to the Helstonleigh circuit. "Mr. Gaunt, senior of the college
school"--craving holiday for himself, and the whole fry who had attended
him.

"College boys!" cried his lordship, winking and blinking, as other less
majestic mortals do when awakened suddenly out of their morning sleep.

"Yes, my lord," replied the servant. "All the school's come up; such a
lot of 'em! It's the holiday they are asking for."

"Oh, ah, I recollect," cried his lordship--for it was not the first time
he had been to Helstonleigh. "Give one of my cards to the senior boy,
Roberts. My compliments to the head-master, and I beg he will grant the
boys a holiday."

Roberts did as he was bid--he also had been to Helstonleigh before with
his master--and delivered the card and message to Gaunt. The consequence
of which was, the school tore through the streets in triumph, shouting
"Holiday!" in tones to be heard a mile off, and bringing people in white
garments, from their beds to the windows. The least they feared was,
that the town had taken fire.

Back to the house of the head-master for the pantomime to be played
through. This usually was (for the master, as wise on the subject as
they were, would lie that morning in bed) to send the master's servant
into his room with the card and the message; upon which permission for
the holiday would come out, and the boys would disperse, exercising
their legs and lungs. No such luck, however, on this morning. The
servant met them at the door, and grinned dreadfully at the crowd.

"Won't you catch it, gentlemen! The head-master's gone into school, and
is waiting for you; marking you all late, of course."

"Gone into school!" repeated Gaunt, haughtily, resenting the
familiarity, as well as the information. "What do you mean?"

"Why, I just mean that, sir," was the reply, upon which Gaunt felt
uncommonly inclined to knock him down. But the man had a propensity
for grinning, and was sure to exercise it on all possible occasions.
"There's some row up, and you are not to have holiday," continued the
servant; "the master said last night I was to call him this morning as
usual."

At this unexpected reply, the boys slunk away to the college schoolroom,
their buoyant spirits sunk down to dust and ashes--figuratively
speaking. They could not understand it; they had not the most distant
idea what their offence could have been. Gaunt entered, and the rest
trooped in after him. The head-master sat at his desk in stern state:
the other masters were in their places. "What is the meaning of this
insubordination?" the master sharply demanded, addressing Gaunt. "You
are three-quarters of an hour behind your time."

"We have been up to the judges, as usual, for holiday, sir," replied
Gaunt, in a tone of deprecation. "His lordship sends his card and
compliments to you, and--"

"Holiday!" interrupted the master. "Holiday!" he repeated, with
emphasis, as if disbelieving his own ears. "Do you consider that the
school deserves it? A pretty senior you must be, if you do."

"What has the school done, sir?" respectfully asked Gaunt.

"Your memory must be conveniently short," chafed the master. "Have you
forgotten the inked surplice?"

Gaunt paused. "But that was not the act of the whole school, sir. It was
probably the act of only one."

"But, so long as that one does not confess, the whole school must
bear it," returned the master, looking round on the assembly. "Boys,
understand me. It is not for the fault itself--that may have been, as I
said yesterday, the result of accident; but it is the concealment of the
fault that makes me angry. Will you confess now?--he who did it?"

No; the appeal brought forth no further result than the other had done.
The master continued:

"You may think--I speak now to the guilty boy, and let him take these
words to himself--that you were quite alone when you did it; that no eye
was watching. But let me remind you that the eye of God was upon you.
What you refuse to tell, He can bring to light, if it shall so please
Him, in His own wonderful way, His own good time. There will be no
holiday to-day. Prayers."

The boys fell into their places, and stood with hanging heads, something
like rebellion working in every breast. At breakfast-time they
were dismissed, and gathered in the cloisters to give vent to their
sentiments.

"Isn't it a stunning shame?" cried hot Tom Channing. "The school ought
not to suffer for the fault of one boy. The master has no right--"

"The fault lies in the boy, not in the master," interrupted Gaunt. "A
sneak! a coward! If he has a spark of manly honour in him, he'll speak
up now."

"As it has come to this, I say Charley Channing should be made to
declare what he knows," said one. "He saw it done!"

"Who says he did?" quickly asked Tom Channing.

"Some one said so; and that he was afraid to tell."

Gaunt lifted his finger, and made a sign to Charles to approach. "Now,
boy"--as the latter obeyed--"you will answer _me_, remember. The master
has called the seniors to his aid, and I order you to speak. Did you see
this mischief done?"

"No, I did not!" fearlessly replied little Channing.

"If he doesn't know, he suspects," persisted Hurst. "Come, Miss
Channing."

"We don't declare things upon suspicion, do we, Mr. Gaunt?" appealed
Charles. "I may suspect one; Hurst may suspect another; Bywater said
he suspected two; the whole school may be suspicious, one of another.
Where's the use of that?"

"It is of no use," decided Gaunt. "You say you did not see the surplice
damaged?"

"I did not; upon my word of honour."

"That's enough," said Gaunt. "Depend upon it, the fellow, while he was
at it, took precious good precautions against being seen. When he gets
found out, he had better not come within reach of the seniors; I warn
him of that: they might not leave him a head on his shoulders, or a
tooth in his mouth."

"Suppose it should turn out to have been a senior, Mr. Gaunt?" spoke
Bywater.

"Suppose you should turn out to be an everlasting big donkey?" retorted
the senior boy.



CHAPTER V.


ROLAND YORKE.

Just without the Boundaries, in a wide, quiet street, called Close
Street, was the office of Richard Galloway, Esquire, Proctor, and
Steward to the Dean and Chapter. Excepting for this solitary office, the
street consisted of private houses, and it was one of the approaches to
the cathedral, though not the chief one. Mr. Galloway was a bachelor;
a short, stout man, shaped like a cask, with a fat, round face, round,
open, grey eyes--that always looked as if their owner was in a state of
wonder--and a little round mouth. But he was a shrewd man and a capable;
he was also, in his way, a dandy; dressed scrupulously in the fashion,
with delicate shirt fronts and snow-white wristbands; and for the last
twenty-five years, at least, had been a mark for all the single ladies
of Helstonleigh to set their caps at.

Of beauty, Mr. Galloway could boast little; but of his hair he was
moderately vain: a very good head of hair it was, and curled naturally.
But hair, let it be luxuriant enough to excite the admiration of a whole
army of coiffeurs, is, like other things in this sublunary world of
ours, subject to change; it will not last for ever; and Mr. Galloway's,
from a fine and glossy brown, turned, as years went on, to sober
grey--nay, almost to white. He did not particularly admire the change,
but he had to submit to it. Nature is stronger than we are. A friend
hinted that it might be "dyed." Mr. Galloway resented the suggestion:
anything false was abhorrent to him. When, however, after an illness,
his hair began to fall off alarmingly, he thought it no harm to use
a certain specific, emanating from one of her Majesty's physicians;
extensively set forth and patronized as an undoubted remedy for hair
that was falling off. Mr. Galloway used it extensively in his fear, for
he had an equal dread both of baldness and wigs. The lotion not only had
the desired effect, but it had more: the hair grew on again luxuriantly,
and its whiteness turned into the finest flaxen you ever saw; a light
delicate flaxen, exactly like the curls you see upon the heads of
blue-eyed wax dolls. This is a fact: and whether Mr. Galloway liked it,
or not, he had to put up with it. Many would not be persuaded but that
he had used some delicate dye, hitherto unknown to science; and the
suspicion vexed Mr. Galloway. Behold him, therefore, with a perfect
shower of smooth, fair curls upon his head, equal to any young beau.

It was in this gentleman's office that Arthur Channing had been placed,
with a view to his becoming ultimately a proctor. To article him to Mr.
Galloway would take a good round sum of money; and this had been put off
until the termination of the suit, when Mr. Channing had looked forward
to being at his ease, in a pecuniary point of view. There were two
others in the same office. The one was Roland Yorke, who was articled;
the other was Joseph Jenkins, a thin, spare, humble man of nine and
thirty, who had served Mr. Galloway for nearly twenty years, earning
twenty-five shillings a week. He was a son of old Jenkins, the bedesman,
and his wife kept a small hosiery shop in High Street. Roland Yorke was,
of course, not paid; on the contrary, he had paid pretty smartly to
Mr. Galloway for the privilege of being initiated into the mysteries
belonging to a proctor. Arthur Channing may be said to have occupied a
position in the office midway between the two. He was to _become_ on the
footing of Roland Yorke; but meanwhile, he received a small weekly sum
in remuneration of his services, as Joe Jenkins did. Roland Yorke,
in his proud moods, looked down upon him as a paid clerk; Mr. Jenkins
looked up to him as a gentleman. It was a somewhat anomalous position;
but Arthur had held his own bravely up in it until this blow came,
looking forward to a brighter time.

In the years gone by, one of the stalls in Helstonleigh Cathedral was
held by the Reverend Dr. Yorke: he had also some time filled the office
of sub-dean. He had married, imprudently, the daughter of an Irish peer,
a pretty, good-tempered girl, who was as fond of extravagance as she was
devoid of means to support it. She had not a shilling in the world; it
was even said that the bills for her trousseau came in afterwards to Dr.
Yorke: but people, you know, are given to scandal. Want of fortune had
been nothing, had Lady Augusta only possessed ordinary prudence; but she
spent the doctor's money faster than he received it.

In the course of years Dr. Yorke died, leaving eight children, and
slender means for them. There were six boys and two girls. Lady Augusta
went to reside in a cheap and roomy house (somewhat dilapidated) in the
Boundaries, close to her old prebendal residence, and scrambled on in
her careless, spending fashion, never out of debt. She retained their
old barouche, and _would_ retain it, and was a great deal too fond of
ordering horses from the livery stables and driving out in state. Gifted
with excellent qualities had her children been born; but of training,
in the highest sense of the word, she had given them none. George, the
eldest, had a commission, and was away with his regiment. Roland, the
second, had been designed for the Church, but no persuasion could induce
him to be sufficiently attentive to his studies to qualify himself for
it; he was therefore placed with Mr. Galloway, and the Church honours
were now intended for Gerald. The fourth son, Theodore, was also in the
college school, a junior. Next came two girls, Caroline and Fanny, and
there were two little boys still younger.

Haughty, self-willed, but of sufficiently honourable nature, were
the Yorkes. If Lady Augusta had only toiled to foster the good, and
eradicate the evil, they would have grown up to bless her. Good soil was
there to work upon, as there was in the Channings; but, in the case of
the Yorkes, it was allowed to run to waste, or to generate weeds. In
short, to do as it pleased.

A noisy, scrambling, uncomfortable sort of home was that of the Yorkes;
the boys sometimes contending one with another, Lady Augusta often
quarrelling with all. The home of the Channings was ever full of love,
calm, and peace. Can you guess where the difference lay?

On the morning when the college boys had gone up to crave holiday of
the judges, and had not obtained it--at least not from the
head-master--Arthur Channing proceeded, as usual, to Mr. Galloway's,
after breakfast. Seated at a desk, in his place, writing--he seemed to
be ever seated there--was Mr. Jenkins. He lifted his head when Arthur
entered, with a "Good morning, sir," and then dropped it again over his
copying.

"Good morning," replied Arthur. And at that moment Mr. Galloway--his
flaxen curls in full flow upon his head, something like rings--came
forth from his private room. "Good morning, sir," Arthur added, to his
master.

Mr. Galloway nodded a reply to the salutation. "Have you seen anything
of Yorke?" he asked. "I want that deed that he's about finished as soon
as possible."

"He will not be an instant," said Arthur. "I saw him coming up the
street."

Roland Yorke bustled in; a dark young man of twenty-one, with large but
fine features, and a countenance expressive of indecision.

"Come, Mr. Yorke, you promised to be here early to-day. You know that
deed is being waited for."

"So I am early, sir," returned Roland.

"Early! for _you_ perhaps," grunted Mr. Galloway. "Get to it at once."

Roland Yorke unlocked a drawer, collected sundry parchments together,
and sat down to his desk. He and Arthur had their places side by side.
Mr. Galloway stood at a table, and began sorting some papers that were
upon it.

"How is Mr. Channing this morning, Arthur?"

"Much as usual, thank you, sir. Certain news, which arrived last night,
has not tended to cheer him."

"It is true, then?" remarked Mr. Galloway. "I heard a rumour of it."

"Oh, it's true enough," said Arthur. "It is in all the morning papers."

"Well, there never was a more unjust decision!" emphatically spoke
Mr. Galloway. "Mark you, I am not reflecting on the Lord Chancellor's
judgment. I have always said that there were one or two nasty points in
that suit, which the law might get hold of; but I know the whole
cause by heart, from beginning to end; and that money was as much your
father's, as this coat, that I have on, is mine. Tell him I'll come in
one of these fine evenings, and abuse the injustice of our laws with
him,--will you?"

"Yes, sir," replied Arthur.

"What's this row in the college school about a destroyed surplice, and
the boys not getting their holiday through it?" resumed Mr. Galloway.

"Oh, are they not savage!" struck in Roland Yorke. "The first thing
Tod did, when he came home to breakfast, was to fling over his bowl
of coffee, he was in such a passion. Lady Augusta--she came down to
breakfast this morning, for a wonder--boxed his ears, and ordered him to
drink water; but he went into the kitchen, and made a lot of chocolate
for himself."

"What are the particulars? How was it done? I cannot understand it at
all," said Mr. Galloway.

"Bywater left his clean surplice yesterday in the vestry, and some one
threw ink over it--half soaked it in ink, so the choristers told Tom,"
answered Arthur Channing. "In the afternoon--they had service late, you
know, sir, waiting for the judges--Bywater was not in his place to sing
the anthem, and Hurst sang it, and it put the master out very much."

"Put him out all the more that he has no one to punish for it," laughed
Roland Yorke. "Of course Bywater couldn't appear in his stall, and sing
the anthem, if he had no surplice to put on; and the master couldn't tan
him for not doing it. I know this, if it had happened while I was in
the college school, I'd just have skinned some of the fellows alive, but
what I'd have made them confess."

"Suppose you had skinned the wrong party?" cynically observed Mr.
Galloway. "You are too hasty with your tongue, Roland Yorke. My nephew,
Mark, ran in just now to tell me of the holiday being denied, and that
was the first I had heard of the affair. Mark thinks one of the seniors
was in it; not Gaunt."

Arthur Channing and Roland Yorke both looked up with a sharp, quick
gesture. Gaunt excepted, the only senior, besides their respective
brothers, was Harry Huntley.

"It is not likely, sir," said Arthur.

"A senior do it!" scoffed Roland Yorke. "What a young idiot Mark
Galloway must be, to think that!"

"Mark does not seem to think much about it on his own account," said Mr.
Galloway. "He said Bywater thought so, from some cause or other; and has
offered to bet the whole school that it will turn out to be a senior."

"Does he, though!" cried Yorke, looking puzzled. "Bywater's a cautious
fellow with his money; he never bets at random. I say, sir, what else
did Galloway tell you?"

"That was all," replied Mr. Galloway. And if you wonder at a staid old
proctor chattering about this desultory news with his clerks in business
hours, it may be explained to you that Mr. Galloway took the greatest
possible interest, almost a boyish interest, in the college school. It
was where he had been educated himself, where his nephews were being
educated; he was on intimate terms with its masters; knew every boy in
it to speak to; saw them troop past his house daily in their progress to
and fro; watched them in their surplices in a Sunday, during morning
and afternoon service; was cognizant of their advancement, their
shortcomings, their merits, and their scrapes: in fact, the head-master
could not take a greater interest in the doings of the collegiate
school, than did Mr. Galloway. Whether of work, or whether of gossip,
his ears were ever open to listen to its records. Besides, they were not
so overburdened with work in that office, but that there was ample time
for discussing any news that might be agreeable to its master. His work
was light; his returns were heavy; his stewardship alone brought him in
several hundreds a year.

"The Reverend Mr. Pye seems uncommonly annoyed about it, sir,"
Mr. Jenkins ventured to put in. To interrupt, or take part in any
conversation, was not usual with him, unless he could communicate little
tit-bits of information touching the passing topic. "You are aware that
Mr. Harper, the lay-clerk, lodges at our house, sir. Well, Mr. Pye came
round last night, especially to question him about it."

"What could Harper tell?" asked Mr. Galloway.

"He could not tell anything; except that he would answer for the
lay-clerks knowing nothing of the transaction. The master said he never
supposed the lay-clerks did know anything of it, but he had his reasons
for putting the question. He had been to the masons, too, who are
repairing the cathedral; and they declared to the master, one and all,
that they had not been into the vestry yesterday, or even round to that
side of the college where the vestry is situated."

"Why should the master take it up so pertinaciously?" wondered Roland
Yorke.

"I'm sure I don't know, sir. He was like one in a fever, so excited over
it, Harper said."

"Did he talk to you about it, Jenkins?" asked Mr. Galloway.

"I did not see him, sir; it was Harper told me afterwards," was the
reply of Jenkins, as he subsided to his writing again.

Just at this juncture, who should come in view of the window but the
head-master himself. He was passing it with a quick step, when out flew
Mr. Galloway, and caught him by the button. Roland Yorke, who was ever
glad of a pretext for idleness, rose from his stool, and pushed his
nose close up to the nearest pane, to listen to any colloquy that might
ensue; but, the window being open, he might have heard without leaving
his seat.

"I hear the boys have not a holiday to-day, Pye," began Mr. Galloway.

"No, that they have not," emphatically pronounced the master; "and, if
they go on as they seem to be going on now, I'll keep them without it
for a twelvemonth. I believe the inking of that surplice was a concocted
plan, look you, Galloway, to--"

"To what?" asked Mr. Galloway, for the master stopped short.

"Never mind, just yet. I have my strong suspicions as to the guilty boy,
and I am doing what I can to convert them into proofs. If it be as I
suspect now, I shall expel him."

"But what could it have been done for?" debated Mr. Galloway. "There's
no point in the thing, that I can see, to ink and damage a surplice. If
the boy to whom it belonged had been inked, one might not have wondered
so much."

"I'll 'point him,'" cried the master, "if I catch the right one."

"Could it have been one of the seniors?" returned the proctor, all his
strong interest awakened.

"It was one who ought to have known better," evasively returned the
master. "I can't stop to talk now, Galloway. I have an errand to do, and
must be back to duty at ten."

He marched off quickly, and Mr. Galloway came indoors again. "Is that
the way you get on with your business, Mr. Yorke?"

Yorke clattered to his desk. "I'll get on with it, sir. I was listening
to what the master said."

"It does not concern you, what he said. It was not one of your brothers
who did it, I suppose?"

"No, that it was not," haughtily spoke Roland Yorke, drawing up his head
with a proud, fierce gesture.

Mr. Galloway withdrew to his private room, and for a few minutes silence
supervened--nothing was to be heard but the scratching of pens. But
Roland Yorke, who had a great antipathy to steady work, and as great a
love for his own tongue, soon began again.

"I say, Channing, what an awful blow the dropping of that expected money
must be for you fellows! I'm blest if I didn't dream of it last night!
If it spoilt my rest, what must it have done by yours!"

"Why! how could you have heard of it last night?" exclaimed Arthur,
in surprise. "I don't think a soul came to our house to hear the news,
except Mr. Yorke: and you were not likely to see him. He left late. It
is in every one's mouth this morning."

"I had it from Hamish. He came to the party at the Knivetts'. Didn't
Hamish get taken in!" laughed Roland. "He understood it was quite a
ladies' affair, and loomed in, dressed up to the nines, and there he
found only a bachelor gathering of Dick's. Hamish was disappointed, I
think; he fancied he was going to meet Ellen Huntley; and glum enough he
looked--"

"He had only just heard of the loss," interrupted Arthur. "Enough to
make him look glum."

"Rubbish! It wasn't that. He announced at once that the money was
gone for good and all, and laughed over it, and said there were worse
disasters at sea. Knivett said he never saw a fellow carry ill news off
with so high a hand. Had he been proclaiming the accession of a fortune,
instead of the loss of one, he could not have been more carelessly
cheerful. Channing, what on earth shall you do about your articles?"

A question that caused the greatest pain, especially when put by Roland
Yorke; and Arthur's sensitive face flushed.

"You'll have to stop as a paid clerk for interminable years! Jenkins,
you'll have him for your bosom companion, if you look sharp and make
friends," cried Roland, laughing loudly.

"No, sir, I don't think Mr. Arthur Channing is likely to become a paid
clerk," said Jenkins.

"Not likely to become a paid clerk! why, he _is_ one. If he is not one,
I'd like to know who is. Channing, you know you are nothing else."

"I may be something else in time," quietly replied Arthur, who knew how
to control his rebellious spirit.

"I say, what a rum go it is about that surplice!" exclaimed Roland
Yorke, dashing into another topic. "It's not exactly the mischief itself
that's rum, but the master seem to be making so much stir and mystery
over it! And then the hint at the seniors! They must mean Huntley."

"I don't know who they _mean_," said Arthur, "but I am sure Huntley
never did it. He is too open, too honourable--"

"And do you pretend to say that Tom Channing and my brother Ger are not
honourable?" fiercely interrupted Roland Yorke.

"There you go, Yorke; jumping to conclusions! It is not to be credited
that any one of the seniors did it: still less, if they had done it,
that they would not acknowledge it. They are all boys of truth and
honour, so far as I believe. Huntley, I am sure, is."

"And of Tom, also, I conclude you feel sure?"

"Yes, I do."

"And I am sure of Ger Yorke. So, if the master is directing his
suspicion to the seniors, he'll get floored. It's odd what can have
turned it upon them."

"I don't think the master suspects the seniors," said Arthur. "He called
them to his aid."

"You heard what he just now said to Galloway. Jenkins, there is a knock
at the door."

Jenkins went to open it. He came back, and said Mr. Yorke was wanted.

Roland lazily proceeded to the outer passage, and, when he saw who was
standing there, he put himself into a passion. "What do you mean by
presuming to come to me here?" he haughtily asked.

"Well, sir, perhaps you'll tell me where I am to come, so as to get to
see you?" civilly replied the applicant, one who bore the appearance of
a tradesman. "It seems it's of no use going to your house; if I went ten
times a day, I should get the same answer--that you are not at home."

"Just take yourself off," said Roland.

"Not till you pay me; or tell me for certain when you will pay me, and
keep your promise. I want my money, sir, and I must have it."

"We want a great many things that we can't get," returned Roland, in a
provokingly light tone. "I'll pay you as soon as I can, man; you needn't
be afraid."

"I'm not exactly afraid," spoke the man. "I suppose if it came to it,
Lady Augusta would see that I had the money."

"You hold your tongue about Lady Augusta. What's Lady Augusta to you?
Any odds and ends that I may owe, have nothing to do with Lady Augusta.
Look here, Simms, I'll pay you next week."

"You have said that so many times, Mr. Yorke."

"At any rate, I'll pay you part of it next week, if I can't the whole. I
will, upon my honour. There! now you know that I shall keep my word."

Apparently satisfied, the man departed, and Roland lounged into the
office again with the same idle movements that he had left it.

"It was that confounded Simms," grumbled he. "Jenkins, why did you say I
was in?"

"You did not tell me to say the contrary, sir. He came yesterday, but
you were out then."

"What does he want?" asked Arthur.

"Wanted me to pay him a trifle I owe; but it's not convenient to do
it till next week. What an Eden this lower world might be, if debt had
never been invented!"

"You need not get into debt," said Arthur. "It is not compulsory."

"One _might_ build a mud hut outside the town walls, and shut one's
self up in it, and eat herbs for dinner, and sleep upon rushes, and
turn hermit for good!" retorted Roland. "_You_ need not talk about debt,
Channing."

"I don't owe much," said Arthur, noting the significance of Yorke's
concluding sentence.

"If you don't, some one else does."

"Who?"

"Ask Hamish."

Arthur went on writing with a sinking heart. There was an undercurrent
of fear running within him--had been for some time--that Hamish did
owe money on his own private score. But this allusion to it was not
pleasant.

"How much do you owe?" went on Roland.

"Oh, a twenty-pound note would pay my debts, and leave me something out
of it," said Arthur, in a joking tone. The fact was, that he did not
owe a shilling to any one. "Jenkins, do you know what I am to set about
next?" he continued; "I have filled in this lease."

Jenkins was beginning to look amidst some papers at his elbow, in answer
to the appeal; but at that moment Mr. Galloway entered, and despatched
Arthur to get a cheque cashed at the bank.



CHAPTER VI.


LADY AUGUSTA YORKE AT HOME.

"If you don't put away that trash, Caroline, and go upstairs and
practise, I'll make you go! Strewing the table in that manner! Look what
a pickle the room is in!"

The words came from Lady Augusta Yorke, a tall, dark woman, with high
cheek-bones; and they were spoken at a height that might not have been
deemed orthodox at court. Miss Caroline Yorke, a young demoiselle, with
a "net" that was more frequently off her head than on it, slip-shod
shoes, and untidy stockings, had placed a quantity of mulberry leaves on
the centre table, and a silkworm on each leaf. She leisurely proceeded
with her work, bringing forth more silkworms from her paper trays,
paying not the least attention to her mother. Lady Augusta advanced, and
treated her to a slight tap on the ear, her favourite mode of correcting
her children.

"Now, mamma! What's that for?"

"Do you hear me, you disobedient child? I will have this rubbish put
away, I say. Goodness, Martha! don't bring any one in here!" broke off
Lady Augusta, as a maid appeared, showing in a visitor. "Oh, it is you,
William! I don't mind you. Come in."

It was the Reverend William Yorke who entered. He was not altogether a
favourite of Lady Augusta's. Though only distantly related to her late
husband, he yet bore the name of Yorke; and when he came to Helstonleigh
(for he was not a native of the place), and became a candidate for a
vacant minor canonry, Lady Augusta's pride had taken fire. The minor
canons were looked upon by the exclusives of the cathedral as holding
a very inferior position amidst the clergy, and she resented that one
belonging to her should descend to set up his place amongst them.

Mr. Yorke shook hands with Lady Augusta, and then turned to look at the
leaves and silkworms. "Are you doing that for ornament, Caroline?"

"Ornament!" wrathfully cried Lady Augusta. "She is doing it to waste
time, and to provoke me."

"No, I am not, mamma," denied Miss Caroline. "My poor silkworms never
have anything but lettuce leaves. Tod brought these for me from the
bishop's garden, and I am looking at the silkworms enjoying the change."

"Tod is in hot water," remarked Mr. Yorke. "He was fighting with another
boy as I came through the cloisters."

"Then he'll come home with his clothes torn, as he did the last time he
fought!" exclaimed Lady Augusta, in consternation. "I think no one ever
had such a set of children as mine!" she peevishly continued. "The boys
boisterous as so many wild animals, and the girls enough to drive one
crazy, with their idle, disobedient ways. Look at this room, William!
encumbered from one end to the other! things thrown out of hand by
Caroline and Fanny! As to lessons, they never open one. For three days
I have never ceased telling Caroline to go and practise, and she has
not attempted to obey me! I shall go out of my mind with one thing or
another; I know I shall! Nice dunces they'll grow up."

"Go and practise now, Caroline," said Mr. Yorke. "I will put your
silkworms up for you."

Caroline pouted. "I hate practising."

He laid his hand gently upon her, gazing at her with his dark, pleasant
eyes, reproachful now; "But you do not hate obeying your mamma? You must
never let it come to that, Caroline."

She suffered him to lead her to the door, went docilely enough to
the drawing-room, and sat down to the piano. Oh, for a little better
training for those children! Mr. Yorke began placing the silkworms in
the trays, and Lady Augusta went on grumbling.

"It is a dreadful fate--to be left a widow with a heap of unruly
children who will not be controlled! I must find a governess for the
girls, and then I shall be free from them for a few hours in the day.
I thought I would try and save the money, and teach them myself; but I
might just as well attempt to teach so many little wild Indians! I am
not fitted for teaching; it is beyond me. Don't you think you could hear
of a governess, William? You go about so much."

"I have heard of one since I saw you yesterday," he replied. "A young
lady, whom you know, is anxious to take a situation, and I think she
might suit you."

"Whom I know?" cried Lady Augusta. "Who is it?"

"Miss Channing."

Lady Augusta looked up in astonishment. "Is _she_ going out as
governess? That comes of losing this lawsuit. She has lost no time in
the decision."

"When an unpalatable step has to be taken, the sooner it is set about,
the less will be the cost," remarked Mr. Yorke.

"Unpalatable! you may well say that. This will be the climax, will it
not, William?"

"Climax of what?"

"Of all the unpleasantness that has attended your engagement with Miss
Channing--"

"I beg your pardon, Lady Augusta," was the interruption of Mr. Yorke.
"No unpleasantness whatever has attended my engagement with Miss
Channing."

"I think so, for I consider her beneath you; and, therefore, that it
is nothing but unpleasant from beginning to end. The Channings are very
well in their way, but they are not equal to the Yorkes. You might make
this a pretext for giving her up."

Mr. Yorke laughed. "I think her all the more worthy of me. The only
question that is apt to arise within me is, whether I am worthy of her.
As we shall never agree upon this point, Lady Augusta, it may not be
worth while to discuss it. About the other thing? I believe she would
make an admirable governess for Caroline and Fanny, if you could obtain
her."

"Oh, I dare say she would do _that_. She is a lady, and has been well
educated. Would she want a large salary?"

"Forty guineas a year, to begin with."

Lady Augusta interrupted him with a scream. "I never could give half
of it! I am sure I never could. What with housekeeping expenses, and
milliners' bills, and visiting, and the boys everlastingly dragging
money out of me, I have scarcely anything to spare for education."

"Yet it is more essential than all the rest. Your income, properly
apportioned, would afford--"

Another scream from Lady Augusta. Her son Theodore--Tod,
familiarly--burst into the room, jacketless, his hair entangled, blood
upon his face, and his shirt-sleeves in shreds.

"You rebellious, wicked fright of a boy!" was the salutation of my lady,
when she could recover breath.

"Oh, it's nothing, mamma. Don't bother," replied Master Tod, waving her
off. "I have been going into Pierce, senior, and have polished him off
with a jolly good licking. He won't get me into a row again, I'll bet."

"What row did he get you into?"

"He's a nasty, sneaking tattler, and he took and told something to
Gaunt, and Gaunt put me up for punishment, and I had a caning from old
Pye. I vowed I'd pay Pierce out for it, and I have done it, though he is
a sight bigger than me."

"What was it about?" inquired Mr. Yorke. "The damaged surplice?"

"Damaged surplice be hanged!" politely retorted the young gentleman,
who, in gaining the victory, appeared to have lost his temper. "It was
something concerning our lessons at the third desk, if you must know."

"You might be civil, Tod," said Lady Augusta. "Look at your shirt! Who,
do you suppose, is going to mend that?"

"It can go unmended," responded Master Tod. "I wish it was the fashion
to go without clothes! They are always getting torn."

"I wish it was!" heartily responded my lady.

That same evening, in returning to her house from a visit, Constance
Channing encountered Mr. Yorke. He turned to walk with her to the door.

"I intended to call this afternoon, Constance, but was prevented from
doing so," he observed. "I have spoken to Lady Augusta."

"Well?" she answered with a smile and a blush.

"She would be very glad of _you_; but the difficulty, at first, appeared
to be about salary. However, I pointed out a few home truths, and she
admitted that if the girls were to be educated, she supposed she must
pay for it. She will give you forty guineas a year; but you are to call
upon her and settle other details. To-morrow, if it should be convenient
to you."

Constance clasped her hands. "I am so pleased!" she exclaimed, in a low
tone.

"So am I," said Mr. Yorke. "I would rather you went to Lady Augusta's
than to a stranger's. And do, Constance, try and make those poor girls
more what they ought to be."

"That I shall try, you may be sure, William. Are you not coming in?"

"No," said Mr. Yorke, who had held out his hand on reaching the door. He
was pretty constant in his evening visits to the Channings, but he had
made an engagement for this one with a brother clergyman.

Constance entered. She looked in the study for her brothers, but
only Arthur was there. He was leaning his elbow upon the table in a
thoughtful mood.

"Where are they all?" inquired Constance.

"Tom and Charles have gone to the cricket match. I don't think Hamish
has come in."

"Why did you not go to cricket also?"

"I don't know," said Arthur. "I did not feel much inclination for
cricket this evening."

"You looked depressed, Arthur, but I have some good news for you,"
Constance said, bending over him with a bright smile. "It is settled
about my going out, and I am to have forty guineas a year. Guess where
it is to?"

Arthur threw his arm round Constance, and they stood together, looking
at the trailing honeysuckle just outside the window. "Tell me, darling."

"It is to Lady Augusta's. William has been talking to her, and she would
like to have me. Does it not seem lucky to find it so soon?"

"_Lucky_, Constance?"

"Ah, well! you know what I think, Arthur, though I did say 'lucky,'"
returned Constance. "I know it is God who is helping us."

Very beautiful, very touching, was the simple trustfulness reposed in
God, by Constance and Arthur Channing. The good seed had been sown on
good ground, and was bringing forth its fruit.

"I was deep in a reverie when you interrupted me, Constance," Arthur
resumed. "Something seems to whisper to me that this loss, which we
regard as a great misfortune, may turn out for good in the end."

"In the end! It may have come for our good now," said Constance.
"Perhaps I wanted my pride lowered," she laughed; "and this has come to
do it, and is despatching me out, a meek governess."

"Perhaps we all wanted it," cried Arthur, meaningly. "There are other
bad habits it may stop, besides pride." He was thinking of Hamish and
his propensity for spending. "Forty guineas you are to have?"

"Yes," said Constance. "Arthur, do you know a scheme that I have in my
head? I have been thinking of it all day."

"What is it? Stay! here is some one coming in. It is Hamish."

Hamish entered with the account-books under his arm, preparatory to
going over them with his father. Constance drew him to her.

"Hamish, I have a plan in my head, if we can only carry it out. I am
going to tell it you."

"One that will set the river on fire?" cried gay, laughing Hamish.

"If we--you and I, and Arthur--can only manage to earn enough money, and
if we can observe strict economy at home, who knows but we may send papa
to the German baths yet?"

A cloud came over Hamish's face, and his smile faded. "I don't see how
_that_ is to be done."

"But you have not heard of my good luck. I am going to Lady Augusta's,
and am to have forty guineas a year. Now, if you and Arthur will help,
it may be easy. Oh, Hamish, it would be worth any effort--any struggle.
Think how it would be rewarded. Papa restored to health! to freedom from
pain!"

A look of positive pain seated itself on Hamish's brow. "Yes," he
sighed, "I wish it could be done."

"But you do not speak hopefully."

"Because, if I must tell you the truth, I do not feel hopefully. I fear
we could not do it: at least until things are brighter."

"If we do our very best, we might receive great help, Hamish."

"What help?" he asked.

"God's help," she whispered.

Hamish smiled. He had not yet learnt what Constance had. Besides, Hamish
was just then in a little trouble on his own account: he knew very well
that _his_ funds were wanted in another quarter.

"Constance, dear, do not look at me so wistfully. I will try with all my
might and main, to help my father; but I fear I cannot do anything yet.
I mean to draw in my expenses," he went on, laughing: "to live like any
old screw of a miser, and never squander a halfpenny where a farthing
will suffice."

He took his books and went in to Mr. Channing. Constance began training
the honeysuckle, her mind busy, and a verse of Holy Writ running through
it--"Commit thy way unto the Lord, and put thy trust in Him, and He
shall bring it to pass."

"Ay!" she murmured, glancing upwards at the blue evening sky: "our
whole, whole trust in patient reliance; and whatsoever is best for us
will be ours."

Annabel stole up to Constance, and entwined her arms caressingly round
her. Constance turned, and parted the child's hair upon her forehead
with a gentle hand.

"Am I to find a little rebel in you, Annabel? Will you not try and make
things smooth for me?"

"Oh, Constance, dear!" was the whispered answer: "it was only my
fun last night, when I said you should not take me for lessons in an
evening. I will study all day by myself, and get my lessons quite ready
for you, so as to give you no trouble in the evening. Would you like to
hear me my music now?"

Constance bent to kiss her. "No, dear child; there is no necessity for
my taking you in an evening, until my days shall be occupied at Lady
Augusta Yorke's."



CHAPTER VII.


MR. KETCH.

Mrs. Channing sat with her children. Breakfast was over, and she had
the Bible open before her. Never, since their earliest years of
understanding, had she failed to assemble them together for a few
minutes' reading, morning and evening. Not for too long at once; she
knew the value of _not tiring_ young children, when she was leading them
to feel an interest in sacred things. She would take Hamish, a little
fellow of three years old, upon her knee, read to him a short Bible
story, suited to his age, and then talk to him. Talk to him in a soft,
loving, gentle tone, of God, of Jesus, of heaven; of his duties in this
world; of what he must do to attain to everlasting peace in the
next. Day by day, step by step, untiringly, unceasingly, had she thus
laboured, to awaken good in the child's heart, to train it to holiness,
to fill it with love of God. As the other children came on in years,
she, in like manner, took them. From simple Bible stories to more
advanced Bible stories, and thence to the Bible itself; with other books
at times and seasons: a little reading, a little conversation, Gospel
truths impressed upon them from her earnest lips. Be you very sure that
where this great duty of all duties is left unfulfilled by a mother, a
child is not brought up as it ought to be. Win your child towards heaven
in his early years, and he will not forget it when he is old.

It will be as a very shield, compassing him about through life. He may
wander astray--there is no telling--in the heyday of his hot-blooded
youth, for the world's temptations are as a running fire, scorching all
that venture into its heat; but the good foundation has been laid, and
the earnest, incessant prayers have gone up, and he will find his way
home again.

Mrs. Channing closed the Bible, and spoke, as usual. It was all that
teaching should be. Good lessons as to this world; loving pictures
of that to come. She had contrived to impress them, not with the too
popular notion that heaven was a far-off place up in the skies some
vague, millions of miles away, and to which we might be millions of
years off; but that it was very near to them: that God was ever present
with them; and that Death, when he came, should be looked upon as a
friend, not an enemy. Hamish was three and twenty years old now, and he
loved those minutes of instruction as he had done when a child. They had
borne their fruit for him, and for all: though not, perhaps, in an equal
degree.

The reading over, and the conversation over, she gave the book to
Constance to put away, and the boys rose, and prepared to enter upon
their several occupations. It was not the beginning of the day for Tom
and Charles, for they had been already to early school.

"Is papa so very much worse to-day, mamma?" asked Tom.

"I did not say he was worse, Tom," replied Mrs. Channing. "I said he had
passed a restless night, and felt tired and weak."

"Thinking over that confounded lawsuit," cried hot, thoughtless Tom.

"Thomas!" reproved Mrs. Channing.

"I beg your pardon, mamma. Unorthodox words are the fashion in school,
and one catches them up. I forget myself when I repeat them before you."

"To repeat them before me is no worse than repeating them behind me,
Tom."

Tom laughed. "Very true, mamma. It was not a logical excuse. But I am
sure the news, brought to us by the mail on Wednesday night, is enough
to put a saint out of temper. Had there been anything unjust in it, had
the money not been rightly ours, it would have been different; but to be
deprived of what is legally our own--"

"Not legally--as it turns out," struck in Hamish.

"Justly, then," said Tom. "It's too bad--especially as we don't know
what we shall do without it."

"Tom, you are not to look at the dark side of things," cried Constance,
in a pretty, wilful, commanding manner. "We shall do very well without
it: it remains to be proved whether we shall not do better than with
it."

"Children, I wish to say a word to you upon this subject," said Mrs.
Channing. "When the news arrived, I was, you know, almost overwhelmed
by it; not seeing, as Tom says, what we were to do without the money. In
the full shock of the disappointment, it wore for me its worst aspect;
a far more sombre one than the case really merited. But, now that I have
had time to see it in its true light, my disappointment has subsided.
I consider that we took a completely wrong view of it. Had the decision
deprived us of the income we enjoy, then indeed it would have been
grievous; but in reality it deprives us of nothing. Not one single
privilege that we possessed before, does it take from us; not a single
outlay will it cost us. We looked to this money to do many things with;
but its not coming renders us no worse off than we were. Expecting it
has caused us to get behindhand with our bills, which we must gradually
pay off in the best way we can; it takes from us the power to article
Arthur, and it straitens us in many ways, for, as you grow up, you grow
more expensive. This is the extent of the ill, except--"

"Oh, mamma, you forget! The worst ill of all is, that papa cannot now go
to Germany."

"I was about to say that, Arthur. But other means for his going thither
may be found. Understand me, my dears: I do not see any means, or chance
of means, at present: you must not fancy that; but it is possible that
they may arise with the time of need. One service, at any rate, the
decision has rendered me."

"Service?" echoed Tom.

"Yes," smiled Mrs. Channing. "It has proved to me that my children are
loving and dutiful. Instead of repining, as some might, they are already
seeking how they may make up, themselves, for the money that has not
come. And Constance begins it."

"Don't fear us, mother," cried Hamish, with his sunny smile. "We will be
of more use to you yet than the money would have been."

They dispersed--Hamish to his office, Arthur to Mr. Galloway's, Tom and
Charles to the cloisters, that famous playground of the college school.
Stolen pleasures, it is said, are sweetest; and, just because there
had been a stir lately amongst the cathedral clergy, touching the
desirability of forbidding the cloisters to the boys for play, so much
the more eager were they to frequent them.

As Arthur was going down Close Street, he encountered Mr. Williams, the
cathedral organist, striding along with a roll of music in his hand.
He was Arthur's music-master. When Arthur Channing was in the choir, a
college schoolboy, he had displayed considerable taste for music; and
it was decided that he should learn the organ. He had continued to take
lessons after he left the choir, and did so still.

"I was thinking of coming round to speak to you to-day, Mr. Williams."

"What about?" asked the organist. "Anything pressing?"

"Well, you have heard, of course, that that suit is given against us,
so I don't mean to continue the organ. They have said nothing to me at
home; but it is of no use spending money that might be saved. But I see
you are in too great a hurry, to stay to talk now."

"Hurry! I am hurried off my legs," cried the organist. "If a dozen or
two of my pupils would give up learning, as you talk of doing, I should
only be obliged to them. I have more work than I can attend to. And
now Jupp must go and lay himself up, and I have the services to attend
myself, morning and afternoon!"

Mr. Jupp was assistant-organist. An apprentice to Mr. Williams, but just
out of his time.

"What's the matter with Jupp?" asked Arthur.

"A little bit of fever, and a great deal of laziness," responded Mr.
Williams. "He is the laziest fellow alive. Since his uncle died, and
that money came to him, he doesn't care a straw how things go. He was
copyist to the cathedral, and he gave that up last week. I have asked
Sandon, the lay-clerk, if he will take the copying, but he declines. He
is another lazy one."

The organist hurried off. Arthur strove to detain him for another word
or two, but it was of no use. So he continued his way to Mr. Galloway's.

Busy enough were his thoughts there. His fingers were occupied with
writing, but his mind went roaming without leave. This post of copyist
of music to the cathedral, which appeared to be going begging; why
should not he undertake it, if Mr. Williams would give it to him? He
was quite able to do so, and though he very much disliked music-copying,
that was nothing: he was not going to set up dislikes, and humour them.
He had only a vague idea what might be the remuneration; ten, or twelve,
or fifteen pounds a year, he fancied it might bring in. Better that,
than nothing; it would be a beginning to follow in the wake that
Constance had commenced; and he could do it of an evening, or at other
odd times. "I won't lose an hour in asking for it," thought Arthur.

At one o'clock, when he was released from the office, he ran through the
Boundaries to the cloisters, intending to pass through them on his way
to the house of the organist, that being rather a nearer road to it,
than if he had gone round the town. The sound of the organ, however,
struck upon his ear, causing him to assume that it was the organist who
was playing. Arthur tried the cathedral door, found it open, and went
it.

It was Mr. Williams. He had been trying some new music, and rose from
the organ as Arthur reached the top of the stairs, no very pleasant
expression on his countenance.

"What is the matter?" asked Arthur, perceiving that something had put
him out.

"I hate ingratitude," responded Mr. Williams. "Jenkins," he called out
to the old bedesman, who had been blowing for him, "you may go to your
dinner; I shan't want you any more now."

Old Jenkins hobbled down from the organ-loft, and Mr. Williams continued
to Arthur:

"Would you believe that Jupp has withdrawn himself utterly?"

"From the college?" exclaimed Arthur.

"From the college, and from me. His father comes to me, an hour ago, and
says he is sure Jupp's in a bad state of health, and he intends to send
him to his relatives in the Scotch mountains for some months, to try and
brace him up. Not a word of apology, for leaving me at a pinch."

"It will be very inconvenient for you," said Arthur. "I suppose that new
apprentice of yours is of no use yet for the services?"

"Use!" irascibly retorted Mr. Williams, "he could not play a psalm if it
were to save his life. I depended upon Jupp. It was an understood thing
that he should remain with me as assistant; had it not been, I should
have taken good care to bring somebody on to replace him. As to
attending the services on week-days myself, it is next door to an
impossibility. If I do, my teaching will be ruined."

"I wish I was at liberty," said Arthur; "I would take them for you."

"Look here, Channing," said the organist. "Since I had this information
of old Jupp's, my brain has been worrying itself pretty well, as you may
imagine. Now, there's no one I would rather trust to take the week-day
services than you, for you are fully capable, and I have trained you
into my own style of playing: I never could get Jupp entirely into it;
he is too fond of noise and flourishes. It has struck me that perhaps
Mr. Galloway might spare you: his office is not overdone with work, and
I would make it worth your while."

Arthur, somewhat bewildered at the proposal, sat down on one of the
stools, and stared.

"You will not be offended at my saying this. I speak in consequence of
your telling me, this morning, you could not afford to go on with your
lessons," continued the organist. "But for that, I should not have
thought of proposing such a thing to you. What capital practice it would
be for you, too!"

"The best proof to convince you I am not offended, is to tell you what
brings me here now," said Arthur in a cordial tone. "I understood, this
morning, that you were at a loss for some one to undertake the copying
of the cathedral music: I have come to ask you to give it to me."

"You may have it, and welcome," said Mr. Williams. "That's nothing; I
want to know about the services."

"It would take me an hour, morning and afternoon, from the office,"
debated Arthur. "I wonder whether Mr. Galloway would let me go an hour
earlier and stay an hour later to make up for it?"

"You can put the question to him. I dare say he will: especially as he
is on terms of friendship with your father. I would give you--let me
see," deliberated the organist, falling into a musing attitude--"twelve
pounds a quarter. Say fifty pounds a year; if you stay with me so long.
And you should have nothing to do with the choristers: I'd practise them
myself."

Arthur's face flushed. It was a great temptation: and the question
flashed into his mind whether it would not be well to leave Mr.
Galloway's, as his prospects there appeared to be blighted, and embrace
this, if that gentleman declined to allow him the necessary hours of
absence. Fifty pounds a year! "And," he spoke unconsciously aloud,
"there would be the copying besides."

"Oh, that's not much," cried the organist. "That's paid by the sheet."

"I should like it excessively!" exclaimed Arthur.

"Well, just turn it over in your mind. But you must let me know at once,
Channing; by to-morrow at the latest. If you cannot take it, I must find
some one else."

Arthur Channing went out of the cathedral, hardly knowing whether he
stood on his head or his heels. "Constance said that God would help us!"
was his grateful thought.

Such a whirlwind of noise! Arthur, when he reached the cloisters, found
himself in the midst of the college boys, who were just let out of
school. Leaping, shouting, pushing, scuffling, playing, contending!
Arthur had not so very long ago been a college boy himself, and enjoyed
the fun.

"How are you, old fellows--jolly?"

They gathered around him. Arthur was a favourite with them; had been
always, when he was in the school. The elder boys loftily commanded off
the juniors, who had to retire to a respectful distance.

"I say, Channing, there's the stunningest go!" began Bywater, dancing a
triumphant hornpipe. "You know Jupp? Well, he has been and sent in word
to Williams that he is going to die, or something of that sort, and it's
necessary he should be off on the spree, to get himself well again.
Old Jupp came this morning, just as college was over, and said it: and
Williams is in the jolliest rage; going to be left without any one to
take the organ. It will just pay him out, for being such a tyrant to us
choristers."

"Perhaps I am going to take it," returned Arthur.

"You?--what a cram!"

"It is not, indeed," said Arthur. "I shall take it if I can get leave
from Mr. Galloway. Williams has just asked me."

"Is that true, Arthur?" burst forth Tom Channing, elbowing his way to
the front.

"Now, Tom, should I say it if it were not true? I only hope Mr. Galloway
will throw no difficulty in my way."

"And do you mean to say that you are going to be cock over us
choristers?" asked Bywater.

"No, thank you," laughed Arthur. "Mr. Williams will best fill that
honour. Bywater, has the mystery of the inked surplice come to light?"

"No, and be shot to it! The master's in a regular way over it, though,
and--"

"And what do you think?" eagerly interrupted Tod Yorke, whose face was
ornamented with several shades of colour, blue, green, and yellow, the
result of the previous day's pugilistic encounter: "my brother Roland
heard the master say he suspected one of the seniors."

Arthur Channing looked inquiringly at Gaunt. The latter tossed his head
haughtily. "Roland Yorke must have made some mistake," he observed to
Arthur. "It is perfectly out of the question that the master can suspect
a senior. I can't imagine where the school could have picked up the
notion."

Gaunt was standing with Arthur, as he spoke, and the three seniors,
Channing, Huntley, and Yorke, happened to be in a line facing them.
Arthur regarded them one by one. "You don't look very like committing
such a thing as that, any one of you," he laughed. "It is curious where
the notion can have come from."

"Such absurdity!" ejaculated Gerald Yorke. "As if it were likely Pye
would suspect one of us seniors! It's not credible."

"Not at all credible that you would do it," said Arthur. "Had it been
the result of accident, of course you would have hastened to declare it,
any one of you three."

As Arthur spoke, he involuntarily turned his eyes on the sea of faces
behind the three seniors, as if searching for signs in some countenance
among them, by which he might recognize the culprit.

"My goodness!" uttered the senior boy, to Arthur. "Had any one of those
three done such a thing--accident or no accident--and not declared it,
he'd get his name struck off the rolls. A junior may be pardoned for
things that a senior cannot."

"Besides, there'd be the losing his chance of the seniorship, and of the
exhibition," cried one from the throng of boys in the rear.

"How are you progressing for the seniorship?" asked Arthur, of the
three. "Which of you stands the best chance?"

"I think Channing does," freely spoke up Harry Huntley.

"Why?"

"Because our progress is so equal that I don't think one will get ahead
of another, so that the choice cannot be made that way; and Channing's
name stands first on the rolls."

"Who is to know if they'll give us fair play and no humbug?' said Tom
Channing.

"If they do, it will be what they have never given yet!" exclaimed
Stephen Bywater. "Kissing goes by favour."

"Ah, but I heard that the dean--"

At this moment a boy dashed into the throng, scattering it right and
left. "Where are your eyes?" he whispered.

Close upon them was the dean. Arm in arm with him, in his hat and apron,
walked the Bishop of Helstonleigh. The boys stood aside and took off
their trenchers. The dean merely raised his hand in response to the
salutation--he appeared to be deep in thought; but the bishop nodded
freely among them.

"I heard that the dean found fault, the last time the exhibition fell,
and said favour should never be shown again, so long as he was Dean of
Helstonleigh," said Harry Huntley, when the clergy were beyond hearing,
continuing the sentence he had been interrupted in. "I say that, with
fair play, it will be Channing's; failing Channing, it will be mine;
failing me, it will be Yorke's."

"Now, then!" retorted Gerald Yorke. "Why should you have the chance
before me, pray?"

Huntley laughed. "Only that my name heads yours on the rolls."

Once in three years there fell an exhibition for Helstonleigh College
school, to send a boy to Oxford. It would be due the following
Easter. Gaunt declined to compete for it; he would leave the school
at Michaelmas; and it was a pretty generally understood thing that
whichever of the three mentioned boys should be appointed senior in his
place, would be presented with the exhibition. Channing and Yorke most
ardently desired to gain it; both of them from the same motive--want of
funds at home to take them to the university. If Tom Channing did
not gain it, he was making up his mind to pocket pride, and go as a
servitor. Yorke would not have done such a thing for the world; all the
proud Yorke blood would be up in arms, at one of their name appearing
as a servitor at Oxford. No. If Gerald Yorke should lose the exhibition,
Lady Augusta must manage to screw out funds to send him. He and Tom
Channing were alike designed for the Church. Harry Huntley had no such
need: the son of a gentleman of good property, the exhibition was of
little moment to him, in a pecuniary point of view; indeed, a doubt had
been whispered amongst the boys, whether Mr. Huntley would allow Harry
to take advantage of it, if he did gain it, for he was a liberal-minded
and just man. Harry, of course, desired to be the successful one, for
fame's sake, just as ardently as did Channing and Yorke.

"I'm blessed if here isn't that renowned functionary, Jack Ketch!"

The exclamation came from young Galloway. Limping in at one of the
cloister doors, came the cloister porter, a surly man of sixty, whose
temper was not improved by periodical attacks of lumbago. He and the
college boys were open enemies. The porter would have rejoiced in
denying them the cloisters altogether; and nothing had gladdened his
grim old heart like the discussion which was said to have taken place
between the dean and chapter, concerning the propriety of shutting out
the boys and their noise from the cloisters, as a playground. He bore
an unfortunate name--Ketch--and the boys, you may be very sure, did not
fail to take advantage of it, joining to it sundry embellishments, more
pointed than polite.

He came up, a ragged gig-whip in his hand, which he was fond of smacking
round the throng of boys. He had never yet ventured to touch one of
them, and perhaps it was just as well for him that he had not.

"Now, you boys! be off, with your hullabaloo! Is this a decent noise to
make around gentlefolks' doors? You don't know, may be, as Dr. Burrows
is in town."

Dr. Burrows happened to live in a house which had a door opening to the
cloisters. The boys retorted. The worst they gave Mr. Ketch was "chaff;"
but his temper could bear anything better than that, especially if it
was administered by the senior boy.

"Dear me, who's this?" began Gaunt, in a tone of ultra politeness.
"Boys, do you see this gentleman who condescends to accost us? I really
believe it is Sir John Ketch. What's that in his hand?--a piece of
rope? Surely, Mr. Ketch, you have not been turning off that unfortunate
prisoner who was condemned yesterday? Rather hasty work, sir; was it
not?"

Mr. Ketch foamed. "I tell you what it is, sir. You be the senior boy,
and, instead of restraining these wicked young reptiles, you edges
'em on! Take care, young gent, as I don't complain of you to the dean.
Seniors have been hoisted afore now."

"Have they, really? Well, you ought to know, Mr. Calcraft. There's
the dean, just gone out of the cloisters; if you make haste, Calcraft,
you'll catch him up. Put your best foot foremost, and ask him if he
won't report Mr. Gaunt for punishment."

The porter could have danced with rage; and his whip was smacking
ominously. He did not dare advance it too near the circle when the
senior boy was present, or indeed, when any of the elder boys were.

"How's your lumbago, Mr. Ketch?" demanded Stephen Bywater. "I'd advise
you to get rid of that, before the next time you go on duty; it might be
in your way, you know. Never was such a thing heard of, as for the chief
toppler-off of the three kingdoms to be disabled in his limbs! What
_would_ you do? I'm afraid you'd be obliged to resign your post, and
sink into private life."

"Now I just vow to goodness, as I'll do all I can to get these cloisters
took from you boys," shrieked old Ketch, clasping his hands together.
"There's insults as flesh and blood can't stand; and, as sure as I'm
living, I'll pay you out for it."

He turned tail and hobbled off, as he spoke, and the boys raised "three
groans for Jack Ketch," and then rushed away by the other entrance to
their own dinners. The fact was, the porter had brought ill will upon
himself, through his cross-grained temper. He had no right whatever to
interfere between the boys and the cloisters; it was not his place to do
so. The king's scholars knew this; and, being spirited king's scholars,
as they were, would not stand it.

"Tom," said Arthur Channing, "don't say anything at home about the
organ. Wait and see if I get it, first. Charley did not hear; he was
ordered off with the juniors."



CHAPTER VIII.


THE ASSISTANT-ORGANIST.

Things often seem to go by the rule of contrary. Arthur returned to the
office at two o'clock, brimful of the favour he was going to solicit of
Mr. Galloway; but he encountered present disappointment. For the first
time for many weeks, Mr. Galloway did not make his appearance in the
office at all; he was out the whole of the afternoon. Roland Yorke, to
whom Arthur confided the plan, ridiculed it.

"Catch me taking such a task upon myself! If I could play the organ
like a Mendelssohn, and send the folks into ecstasies, I'd never saddle
myself with the worry of doing it morning and afternoon. You'll soon be
sick of the bargain, Channing."

"I should never be sick of it, if I did it for nothing: I am too fond of
music for that. And it will be a very easy way of earning money."

"Not so easy as making your mother stump up," was the reply. And if your
refinement turns from the expression, my good reader, I am sorry you
should have to read it; but it is what Mr. Roland Yorke _said_. "I had a
regular scene with Lady Augusta this morning. It's the most unreasonable
thing in the world, you know, Channing, for her to think I can live
without money, and so I told her--said I must and would have it, in
fact."

"Did you get it?"

"Of course I did. I wanted to pay Simms, and one or two more trifles
that were pressing; I was not going to have the fellow here after me
again. I wish such a thing as money had never been invented!"

"You may as well wish we could live without eating."

"So I do, sometimes--when I go home, expecting a good dinner, and
there's only some horrid cold stuff upon the table. There never was a
worse housekeeper than Lady Augusta. It's my belief, our servants must
live like fighting cocks; for I am sure the bills are heavy enough, and
_we_ don't get the benefit of them."

"What made you so late this afternoon?" asked Arthur.

"I went round to pay Simms, for one thing; and then I called in upon
Hamish, and stayed talking with him. Wasn't he in a sea of envy when I
told him I had been scoring off that Simms! He wished he could do the
same."

"Hamish does not owe anything to Simms!" cried Arthur, with hasty
retort.

"Doesn't he?" laughed Roland Yorke. "That's all you know about it. Ask
him yourself."

"If you please, sir," interposed Mr. Jenkins, at this juncture, "I shall
soon be waiting for that paper. Mr. Galloway directed me to send it off
by post."

"Bother the paper!" returned Roland; but, nevertheless, he applied
himself to complete it. He was in the habit of discoursing upon private
topics before Jenkins without any reserve, regarding him as a perfect
nonentity.

When Arthur went home in the evening, he found Mr. Galloway sitting with
his father. "Well," cried the proctor, as Arthur entered, "and who has
been at the office this afternoon?"

"No one in particular, sir. Oh yes, there was, though--I forgot. The
dean looked in, and wanted to see you."

"What did he want?"

"He did not say, sir. He told Jenkins it would do another time." Arthur
left his father and Mr. Galloway together. He did not broach the subject
that was uppermost in his heart. Gifted with rare delicacy of feeling,
he would not speak to Mr. Galloway until he could see him alone. To
prefer the request in his father's presence might have caused Mr.
Galloway more trouble in refusing it.

"I can't think what has happened to Arthur this evening!" exclaimed one
of them. "His spirits are up to fever heat. Tell us what it is, Arthur?"

Arthur laughed. "I hope they will not be lowered to freezing point
within the next hour; that's all."

When he heard Mr. Galloway leaving, he hastened after him, and overtook
him in the Boundaries.

"I wanted to say a few words to you, sir, if you please?"

"Say on," said Mr. Galloway. "Why did you not say them indoors?"

"I scarcely know how I shall say them now, sir; for it is a very great
favour that I have to ask you, and you may be angry, perhaps, at my
thinking you might grant it."

"You want a holiday, I suppose?"

"Oh no, sir; nothing of that sort. I want--"

"Well?" cried Mr. Galloway, surprised at his hesitation; but now that
the moment of preferring the request had come, Arthur shrank from doing
it.

"Could you allow me, sir--would it make very much difference--to allow
me--to come to the office an hour earlier, and remain in it an hour
later?" stammered Arthur.

"What for?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, with marked surprise.

"I have had an offer made me, sir, to take the cathedral organ at
week-day service. I should very much like to accept it, if it could be
managed."

"Why, where's Jupp?" uttered Mr. Galloway.

"Jupp has resigned. He is ill, and is going out for his health. I'll
tell you how it all happened," went on Arthur, losing diffidence now
that he was fairly launched upon his subject. "Of course, this failure
of the suit makes a great difference to our prospects at home; it
renders it incumbent upon us to do what we can to help--"

"Why does it?" interrupted Mr. Galloway. "It may make a difference to
your future ease, but it makes none to your present means."

"There is money wanted in many ways, sir; a favourable termination to
the suit was counted upon so certainly. For one thing, it is necessary
that my father should try the German baths."

"Of course, he must try them," cried Mr. Galloway.

"But it will cost money, sir," deprecated Arthur. "Altogether, we have
determined to do what we can. Constance has set us the example, by
engaging herself as daily governess at Lady Augusta's. She goes on
Monday."

"Very commendable of her," observed the proctor, who loved a gossip like
any old woman. "I hope she'll not let those two unruly girls worry her
to death."

"And I was casting about in my mind, this morning, what I could do to
help, when I met the organist," proceeded Arthur. "He chanced to say
that he could find no one to take the music copying. Well, sir, I
thought it over, and at one o'clock I went to ask him to give it to me.
I found him at the organ, in a state of vexation. Jupp had resigned his
post, and Mr. Williams had no one to replace him. The long and the short
of it is, sir, that he offered it to me."

"And did you accept it?" crossly responded Mr. Galloway.

"Of course I could not do that, sir, until I had spoken to you. If it
were possible that I could make up the two hours to you, I should be
very glad to take it."

"And do it for nothing, I suppose?"

"Oh no. He would give me fifty pounds a year. And there would be the
copying besides."

"That's a great deal!" cried Mr. Galloway. "It appears to me to be good
pay," replied Arthur. "But he would lose a great deal more than that,
if he had to attend the cathedral himself. He said it would ruin his
teaching."

"Ah! self-interest--two for himself and one for you!" ejaculated the
proctor. "What does Mr. Channing say?"

"I have said nothing at home. It was of no use telling them, until I had
spoken to you. Now that my prospects are gone--"

"What prospects?" interrupted Mr. Galloway.

"My articles to you, sir. Of course there's no chance of that now."

Mr. Galloway grunted. "The ruin that Chancery suits work! Mark you,
Arthur Channing, this is such a thing as was never asked a proctor
before--leave of absence for two hours in the best part of the day! If I
grant it, it will be out of the great friendship I bear your father."

"Oh, sir! I shall never forget the obligation."

"Take care you don't. You must come and work for two hours before
breakfast in a morning."

"Willingly--readily!" exclaimed Arthur Channing, his face glowing. "Then
may I really tell Mr. Williams that I can accept it?"

"If I don't say yes, I suppose you'd magnify me into a sullen old bear,
as bad as Ketch, the porter. You may accept it. Stop!" thundered Mr.
Galloway, coming to a dead standstill.

Arthur was startled. "What now, sir?"

"Are you to be instructor to those random animals, the choristers?"

"Oh no: I shall have nothing to do with that."

"Very good. If you _had_ taken to them, I should have recommended you to
guard against such a specimen of singing as was displayed the other day
before the judges."

Arthur laughed; spoke a word of heartfelt thanks; and took his way
off-hand to the residence of the organist as light as any bird.

"I have obtained leave, Mr. Williams; I may take your offer!" he
exclaimed with scant ceremony, when he found himself in that gentleman's
presence, who was at tea with his wife. "Mr. Galloway has authorized me
to accept it. How do you do, Mrs. Williams?"

"That's a great weight off my mind, then!" cried the organist. "I set
that dolt of an apprentice of mine to play the folks out of college,
this afternoon, when service was over, and--of all performances! Six
mistakes he made in three bars, and broke down at last. I could have
boxed his ears. The dean was standing below when I went down. 'Who was
that playing, Mr. Williams?' he demanded. So, I told him about Jupp's
ill-behaviour in leaving me, and that I had offered the place to you.
'But is Channing quite competent?' cried he--for you know what a
fine ear for music the dean has:--'besides,' he added, 'is he not at
Galloway's?' I said we hoped Mr. Galloway would spare you, and that I
would answer for your competency. So, mind, Channing, you must put on
the steam, and not disgrace my guarantee. I don't mean the steam of
_noise_, or that you should go through the service with all the stops
out."

Arthur laughed; and, declining the invitation to remain and take tea, he
went out. He was anxious to declare the news at home. A few steps on his
road, he overtook Hamish.

"Where do you spring from?" exclaimed Hamish, passing his arm within
Arthur's.

"From concluding an agreement that will bring me in fifty pounds a
year," said Arthur.

"Gammon, Master Arthur!"

"It is _not_ gammon, Hamish. It is sober truth."

Hamish turned and looked at him, aroused by something in the tone. "And
what are you to do for it?"

"Just pass a couple of hours a day, delighting my own ears and heart. Do
you remember what Constance said, last night? Hamish, it is _wonderful_,
that this help should so soon have come to me!"

"Stay! Where are you going?" interrupted Hamish, as Arthur was turning
into a side-street.

"This is the nearest way home."

"I had rather not go that way."

"Why?" exclaimed Arthur, in surprise. "Hamish, how funny you look! What
is the matter?"

"Must I tell you? It is for your ear alone, mind. There's a certain
tradesman's house down there that I'd rather not pass; he has a habit of
coming out and dunning me. Do you remember Mr. Dick Swiveller?"

Hamish laughed gaily. He would have laughed on his road to prison: it
was in his nature. But Arthur seemed to take a leap from his high ropes.
"Is it Simms?" he breathed.

"No, it is not Simms. Who has been telling you anything about Simms,
Arthur? It is not so very much that I owe Simms. What is this good luck
of yours?"

Arthur did not immediately reply. A dark shadow had fallen upon his
spirit, as a forerunner of evil.



CHAPTER IX.


HAMISH'S CANDLES.

Old Judith sat in her kitchen. Her hands were clasped upon her knees,
and her head was bent in thought. Rare indeed was it to catch Judith
indulging in a moment's idleness. She appeared to be holding soliloquy
with herself.

"It's the most incomprehensible thing in the world! I have heard of
ghosts--and, talking about ghosts, that child was in a tremor, last
night, again--I'm sure he was. Brave little heart! he goes up to bed
in the dark on purpose to break himself of the fear. I went in for them
shirts missis told me of, and he started like anything, and his face
turned white. He hadn't heard me till I was in the room; I'd no candle,
and 'twas enough to startle him. 'Oh, is it you, Judith?' said he,
quietly, making believe to be as indifferent as may be. I struck a
light, for I couldn't find the shirts, and then I saw his white face. He
can't overget the fear: 'twas implanted in him in babyhood: and I only
wish I could get that wicked girl punished as I'd punish her, for it was
her work. But about the t'other? I have heard of ghosts walking--though,
thank goodness, I'm not frightened at 'em, like the child is!--but for
a young man to go upstairs, night after night, pretending to go to rest,
and sitting up till morning light, is what I never did hear on. If it
was once in a way, 'twould be a different thing; but it's always. I'm
sure it's pretty nigh a year since--"

"Why, Judith, you are in a brown study!"

The interruption came from Constance, who had entered the kitchen to
give an order. Judith looked up.

"I'm in a peck of trouble, Miss Constance. And the worst is, I don't
know whether to tell about it, or to keep it in. He'd not like it to get
to the missis's ears, I know: but then, you see, perhaps I ought to tell
her--for his sake."

Constance smiled. "Would you like to tell me, instead of mamma? Charley
has been at some mischief again, among the saucepans? Burnt out more
bottoms, perhaps?"

"Not he, the darling!" resentfully rejoined Judith. "The burning out of
that one was enough for him. I'm sure he took contrition to himself, as
if it had been made of gold."

"What is it, then?"

"Well," said Judith, looking round, as if fearing the walls would hear,
and speaking mysteriously, "it's about Mr. Hamish. I don't know but I
_will_ tell you, Miss Constance, and it'll be, so far, a weight off my
mind. I was just saying to myself that I had heard of ghosts walking,
but what Mr. Hamish does every blessed night, I never did hear of, in
all my born days."

Constance felt a little startled. "What does he do?" she hastily asked.

"You know, Miss Constance, my bedroom's overhead, above the kitchen
here, and, being built out on the side, I can see the windows at the
back of the house from it--as we can see 'em from this kitchen window,
for the matter of that, if we put our heads out. About a twelvemonth
ago--I'm sure its not far short of it--I took to notice that the light
in Mr. Hamish's chamber wasn't put out so soon as it was in the other
rooms. So, one night, when I was half-crazy with that face-ache--you
remember my having it, Miss Constance?--and knew I shouldn't get to
sleep, if I lay down, I thought I'd just see how long he kept it in.
Would you believe, Miss Constance, that at three o'clock in the morning
his light was still burning?"

"Well," said Constance, feeling the tale was not half told.

"I thought, what on earth could he be after? I might have feared that
he had got into bed and left it alight by mistake, but that I saw his
shadow once or twice pass the blind. Well, I didn't say a word to him
next day, I thought he might not like it: but my mind wouldn't be easy,
and I looked out again, and I found that, night after night, that light
was in. Miss Constance, I thought I'd trick him: so I took care to put
just about an inch of candle in his bed candlestick, and no more:
but, law bless me! when folks is bent on forbidden things, it is not
candle-ends that will stop 'em!"

"I suppose you mean that the light burnt still, in spite of your inch of
candle?" said Constance.

"It just did," returned Judith. "He gets into my kitchen and robs my
candle-box, I thought to myself. So I counted my candles and marked 'em;
and I found I was wrong, for they wasn't touched. But one day, when I
was putting his cupboard to rights, I came upon a paper right at the
back. Two great big composite candles it had in it, and another half
burnt away. Oh, this is where you keep your store, my young master, is
it? I thought. They were them big round things, which seems never to
burn to an end, three to the pound."

Constance made no reply. Judith gathered breath, and continued:

"I took upon myself to speak to him. I told him it wasn't well for
anybody's health, to sit up at night, in that fashion; not counting the
danger he ran of setting the house on fire and burning us all to cinders
in our beds. He laughed--you know his way, Miss Constance--and said he'd
take care of his health and of the house, and I was just to make myself
easy and hold my tongue, and that _I_ need not be uneasy about fire, for
I could open my window and drop into the rain-water barrel, and there I
should be safe. But, in spite of his joking tone, there ran through it
a sound of command; and, from that hour to this, I have never opened my
lips about it to anybody living."

"And he burns the light still?"

"Except Saturday and Sunday nights, it's always alight, longer or
shorter. Them two nights, he gets into bed respectable, as the rest of
the house do. You have noticed, Miss Constance, that, the evenings he is
not out, he'll go up to his chamber by half-past nine or ten?"

"Frequently," assented Constance. "As soon as the reading is over, he
will wish us good night."

"Well, them nights, when he goes up early, he puts his light out
sooner--by twelve, or by half-past, or by one; but when he spends his
evenings out, not getting home until eleven, he'll have it burning till
two or three in the morning."

"What can he sit up for?" involuntarily exclaimed Constance.

"I don't know, unless it is that the work at the office is too heavy
for him," said Judith. "He has his own work to do there, and master's as
well."

"It is not at all heavy," said Constance. "There is an additional clerk
since papa's illness, you know. It cannot be that."

"It has to do with the office-books, for certain," returned Judith. "Why
else is he so particular in taking 'em into his room every night?"

"He takes--them--for safety," spoke Constance, in a very hesitating
manner, as if not feeling perfectly assured of the grounds for her
assertion.

"Maybe," sniffed Judith, in disbelief. "It can't be that he sits up to
read," she resumed. "Nobody in their senses would do that. Reading may
be pleasant to some folks, especially them story-books; but sleep is
pleasanter. This last two or three blessed nights, since that ill news
come to make us miserable, I question if he has gone to bed at all, for
his candle has only been put out when daylight came to shame it."

"But, Judith, how do you know all this?" exclaimed Constance, after a
few minutes' reflection. "You surely don't sit up to watch the light?"

"Pretty fit I should be for my work in the morning, if I did! No, Miss
Constance. I moved my bed round to the other corner, so as I could see
his window as I lay in it; and I have got myself into a habit of waking
up at all hours and looking. Truth to say, I'm not easy: fire is sooner
set alight than put out: and if there's the water-butt for me to drop
into, there ain't water-butts for the rest of the house."

"Very true," murmured Constance, speaking as if she were in reflection.

"Nobody knows the worry this has been upon my mind," resumed Judith.
"Every night when I have seen his window alight, I have said to myself,
'I'll tell my mistress of this when morning comes;' but, when the
morning has come, my resolution has failed me. It might worry her, and
anger Mr. Hamish, and do no good after all. If he really has not time
for his books in the day, why he must do 'em at night, I suppose; it
would never do for him to fall off, and let the master's means drop
through. What ought to be done, Miss Constance?"

"I really do not know, Judith," replied Constance. "You must let me
think about it."

She fell into an unpleasant reverie. The most feasible solution she
could come to, was the one adopted by Judith--that Hamish passed his
nights at the books. If so, how sadly he must idle away his time in the
day! Did he give his hours up to nonsense and pleasure? And how could he
contrive to hide his shortcomings from Mr. Channing? Constance was not
sure whether the books went regularly under the actual inspection of Mr.
Channing, or whether Hamish went over them aloud. If only the latter,
could the faults be concealed? She knew nothing of book-keeping, and was
unable to say. Leaving her to puzzle over the matter, we will return to
Hamish himself.

We left him in the last chapter, you may remember, objecting to go down
a certain side-street which would have cut off a short distance of their
road; his excuse to Arthur being, that a troublesome creditor of his
lived in it. The plea was a true one. Not to make a mystery of it, it
may as well be acknowledged that Hamish had contracted some debts,
and that he found it difficult to pay them. They were not many, and a
moderate sum would have settled them; but that moderate sum Hamish did
not possess. Let us give him his due. But that he had fully counted upon
a time of wealth being close at hand, it is probable that he never
would have contracted them. When Hamish erred, it was invariably from
thoughtlessness--from carelessness--never from deliberate intention.

Arthur, of course, turned from the objectionable street, and continued
his straightforward course. They were frequently hindered; the streets
were always crowded at assize time, and acquaintances continually
stopped them. Amongst others, they met Roland Yorke.

"Are you coming round to Cator's, to-night?" he asked of Hamish.

"Not I," returned Hamish, with his usual gay laugh. "I am going to draw
in my expenses, and settle down into a miser."

"Moonshine!" cried Roland.

"Is it moonshine, though? It is just a little bit of serious fact,
Yorke. When lord chancellors turn against us and dash our hopes, we
can't go on as though the exchequer had no bottom to it."

"It will cost you nothing to come to Cator's. He is expecting one or two
fellows, and has laid in a prime lot of Manillas."

"Evening visiting costs a great deal, one way or another," returned
Hamish, "and I intend to drop most of mine for the present. You needn't
stare so, Yorke."

"I am staring at you. Drop evening visiting! Any one, dropping that, may
expect to be in a lunatic asylum in six months."

"What a prospect for me!" laughed Hamish.

"_Will_ you come to Cator's?"

"No, thank you."

"Then you are a muff!" retorted Roland, as he went on.

It was dusk when they reached the cathedral.

"I wonder whether the cloisters are still open!" Arthur exclaimed.

"It will not take a minute to ascertain," said Hamish. "If not, we must
go round."

They found the cloisters still unclosed, and passed in. Gloomy and
sombre were they at that evening hour. So sombre that, in proceeding
along the west quadrangle, the two young men positively started, when
some dark figure glided from within a niche, and stood in their way.

"Whose ghost are you?" cried Hamish.

A short covert whistle of surprise answered him. "You here!" cried the
figure, in a tone of excessive disappointment. "What brings you in the
cloisters so late?"

Hamish dextrously wound him towards what little light was cast from
the graveyard, and discerned the features of Hurst. Half a dozen more
figures brought themselves out of the niches--Stephen Bywater, young
Galloway, Tod Yorke, Harrison, Hall, and Berkeley.

"Let me alone, Mr. Hamish Channing. Hush! Don't make a row."

"What mischief is going on, Hurst?" asked Hamish.

"Well, whatever it may have been, it strikes me you have stopped it,"
was Hurst's reply. "I say, wasn't there the Boundaries for you to go
through, without coming bothering into the cloisters?"

"I am sorry to have spoiled sport," laughed Hamish. "I should not have
liked it done to me when I was a college boy. Let us know what the
treason was."

"You won't tell!"

"No; if it is nothing very bad. Honour bright."

"Stop a bit, Hurst," hastily interposed Bywater. "There's no knowing
what he may think 'very bad.' Give generals, not particulars. Here the
fellow comes, I do believe!"

"It was only a trick we were going to play old Ketch," whispered Hurst.
"Come out quickly; better that he should not hear us, or it may spoil
sport for another time. Gently, boys!"

Hurst and the rest stole round the cloisters, and out at the south door.
Hamish and Arthur followed, more leisurely, and less silently. Ketch
came up.

"Who's this here, a-haunting the cloisters at this time o' night? Who be
you, I ask?"

"The cloisters are free until they are closed, Ketch," cried Hamish.

"Nobody haven't no right to pass through 'em at this hour, except the
clergy theirselves," grumbled the porter. "We shall have them boys
a-playing in 'em at dark, next."

"You should close them earlier, if you want to keep them empty,"
returned Hamish. "Why don't you close them at three in the afternoon?"

The porter growled. He knew that he did not dare to close them before
dusk, almost dark, and he knew that Hamish knew it too; and therefore he
looked upon the remark as a quiet bit of sarcasm. "I wish the dean 'ud
give me leave to shut them boys out of 'em," he exclaimed. "It 'ud be a
jovial day for me!"

Hamish and Arthur passed out, wishing him good night. He did not reply
to it, but banged the gate on their heels, locked it, and turned to
retrace his steps through the cloisters. The college boys, who had
hidden themselves from his view, came forward again.

"He has got off scot-free to-night, but perhaps he won't do so
to-morrow," cried Bywater.

"Were you going to set upon him?" asked Arthur.

"We were not going to put a finger upon him; I give you my word, we were
not," said Hurst.

"What, then, were you going to do?"

But the boys would not be caught. "It might stop fun, you know, Mr.
Hamish. You might get telling your brother Tom; and Tom might let it out
to Gaunt; and Gaunt might turn crusty and forbid it. We were going to
serve the fellow out; but not to touch him or to hurt him; and that's
enough."

"As you please," said Hamish. "He is a surly old fellow."

"He is an old brute! he's a dog in a kennel! he deserves hanging!" burst
from the throng of boys.

"What do you think he went and did this afternoon?" added Hurst to the
two Channings. "He sneaked up to the dean with a wretched complaint of
us boys, which hadn't a word of truth in it; not a syllable, I assure
you. He did it only because Gaunt had put him in a temper at one
o'clock. The dean did not listen to him, that's one good thing. How
_jolly_ he'd have been, just at this moment, if you two had not come up!
Wouldn't he, boys?"

The boys burst into a laugh; roar upon roar, peal upon peal; shrieking
and holding their sides, till the very Boundaries echoed again. Laughing
is infectious, and Hamish and Arthur shrieked out with them, not knowing
in the least what they were laughing at.

But Arthur was heavy at heart in the midst of it. "Do you owe much
money, Hamish?" he inquired, after they had left the boys, and were
walking soberly along, under the quiet elm-trees.

"More than I can pay, old fellow, just at present," was the answer.

"But is it _much_, Hamish?"

"No, it is not much, taking it in the abstract. Quite a trifling sum."

Arthur caught at the word "trifling;" it seemed to dissipate his fears.
Had he been alarming himself for nothing! "Is it ten pounds, Hamish?"

"Ten pounds!" repeated Hamish, in a tone of mockery. "That would be
little indeed."

"Is it fifty?"

"I dare say it may be. A pound here and a pound there, and a few pounds
elsewhere--yes, taking it altogether, I expect it would be fifty."

"And how much more?" thought Arthur to himself. "You said it was a
trifling sum, Hamish!"

"Well, fifty pounds is not a large sum. Though, of course, we estimate
sums, like other things, by comparison. You can understand now, why I
was not sanguine with regard to Constance's hopeful project of helping
my father to get to the German baths. I, the eldest, who ought to be the
first to assist in it, am the least likely to do so. I don't know how I
managed to get into debt," mused Hamish. "It came upon me imperceptibly;
it did, indeed. I depended so entirely upon that money falling to us,
that I grew careless, and would often order things which I was not in
need of. Arthur, since that news came, I have felt overwhelmed with
worry and botheration."

"I wish you were free!"

"If wishes were horses, we should all be on horseback. How debts grow
upon you!" Hamish continued, changing his light tone for a graver one.
"Until within the last day or two, when I have thought it necessary to
take stock of outstanding claims, I had no idea I owed half so much."

"What shall you do about it?"

"That is more easily asked than answered. My own funds are forestalled
for some time to come. And, the worst is, that, now this suit is known
to have terminated against us, people are not so willing to wait as they
were before. I have had no end of them after me to-day."

"How shall you contrive to satisfy them?"

"Satisfy them in some way, I must."

"But how, I ask, Hamish?"

"Rob some bank or other," replied Hamish, in his off-hand, joking way.

"Shall you speak to my father?"

"Where's the use?" returned Hamish. "He cannot help me just now; he is
straitened enough himself."

"He might help you with advice. His experience is larger than yours, his
judgment better. 'In the multitude of counsellors there is safety,' you
know, Hamish."

"I have made up my mind to say nothing to my father. If he could assist
me, I would disclose all to him: as it is, it would only be inflicting
upon him unnecessary pain. Understand, Arthur, what I have said to you
is in confidence: you must not speak of it to him."

"Of course not. I should not think of interfering between you and him. I
wish I could help you!"

"I wish you could, old fellow. But you need not look so serious."

"How you can be so gay and careless over it, I cannot imagine," said
Arthur.

Hamish laughed. "If there's only a little patch of sunshine as large as
a man's hand, I am sure to see it and trust to it."

"Is there any sunshine in this?"

"A little bit: and I hope it will help me out of it. I am sure I was
born with a large share of hope in my composition."

"Show me the bit of sunshine, Hamish."

"I can't do that," was the answer. "I fear it is not so much actual
sunshine that's to be seen yet--only its reflection. You could not see
it at all, Arthur; but I, as I tell you, am extravagantly hopeful."

The same ever-gay tone, the same pleasant smile, accompanied the words.
And yet, at that moment, instead of walking straightforward into the
open space beyond the elm-trees, as Arthur did, Hamish withdrew his arm
from his brother's, and halted under their shade, peering cautiously
around. They were then within view of their own door.

"What are you looking at?"

"To make sure that the coast is clear. I heard to-day--Arthur, I know
that I shall shock you--that a fellow had taken out a writ against me. I
don't want, to get it served, if I can help it."

Arthur was indeed shocked. "Oh, Hamish!" was all he uttered. But the
tone betrayed a strange amount of pain mingled with reproach.

"You must not think ill of me. I declare that I have been led into this
scrape blindfolded, as may be said. I never dreamt I was getting into
it. I am not reckless by nature; and, but for the expectation of that
money, I should be as free now as you are."

Thought upon thought was crowding into Arthur's mind. He did not speak.

"I cannot charge myself with any foolish or unnecessary expenditure,"
Hamish resumed. "And," he added in a deeper tone, "my worst enemy will
not accuse me of rashly incurring debts to gratify my own pleasures. I
do not get into mischief. Were I addicted to drinking, or to gambling,
my debts might have been ten times what they are."

"They are enough, it seems," said Arthur. But he spoke the words in
sadness, not in a spirit of reproof.

"Arthur, they may prove of the greatest service, in teaching me caution
for the future. Perhaps I wanted the lesson. Let me once get out of this
hash, and I will take pretty good care not to fall into another."

"If you only can get out of it."

"Oh, I shall do it, somehow; never fear. Let us go on, there seems to be
no one about."



CHAPTER X.


A FALSE ALARM.

They reached home unmolested. Arthur went straight to Mr. Channing, who
was lying, as usual, on his sofa, and bent over him with a smile, sweet
and hopeful as that of Hamish.

"Father, may I gain fifty pounds a year, if I can do it, without
detriment to my place at Mr. Galloway's?"

"What do you say, my boy?"

"Would you have any objection to my taking the organ at college on week
days? Mr. Williams has offered it to me."

Mr. Channing turned his head and looked at him. He did not understand.
"You could not take it, Arthur; you could not be absent from the office;
and young Jupp takes the organ. What is it that you are talking of?"

Arthur explained in his quiet manner, a glad light shining in his eyes.
Jupp had left the college for good; Mr. Williams had offered the place
to him, and Mr. Galloway had authorized him to accept it. He should only
have to go to the office for two hours before breakfast in a morning, to
make up for the two lost in the day.

"My brave boy!" exclaimed Mr. Channing, making prisoner of his hand. "I
said this untoward loss of the suit might turn out to be a blessing in
disguise. And so it will; it is bringing forth the sterling love of my
children. You are doing this for me, Arthur."

"Doing it a great deal for myself, papa. You do not know the
gratification it will be to me, those two hours' play daily!"

"I understand, my dear--understand it all!"

"Especially as--" Arthur came to a sudden stop.

"Especially as what?" asked Mr. Channing.

"As I had thought of giving up taking lessons," Arthur hastily added,
not going deeper into explanations. "I play quite well enough, now, to
cease learning. Mr. Williams said one day, that, with practice, I might
soon equal him."

"I wonder what those parents do, Arthur, who own ungrateful or
rebellious children!" Mr. Channing exclaimed, after a pause of thought.
"The world is full of trouble; and it is of many kinds, and takes
various phases; but if we can only be happy in our children, all other
trouble may pass lightly over us, as a summer cloud. I thank God that my
children have never brought home to me an hour's care. How merciful He
has been to me!"

Arthur's thoughts reverted to Hamish and _his_ trouble. He felt
thankful, then, that it was hid from Mr. Channing.

"I have already accepted the place, papa. I knew I might count upon your
consent."

"Upon my warm approbation. My son, do your best at your task. And," Mr.
Channing added, sinking his voice to a whisper, "when the choristers
peal out their hymn of praise to God, during these sacred services, let
_your_ heart ascend with it in fervent praise and thanksgiving. Too many
go through these services in a matter-of-course spirit, their heart far
away. Do not you."

Hamish at this moment came in, carrying the books. "Are you ready, sir?
There's not much to do, this evening."

"Ready at any time, Hamish."

Hamish laid the books before him on the table, and sat down. Arthur left
the room. Mr. Channing liked to be alone with Hamish when the accounts
were being gone over.

Mrs. Channing was in the drawing-room, some of the children with her.
Arthur entered. "Mrs. Channing," cried he, with mock ceremony, "allow me
to introduce you to the assistant-organist of the cathedral."

She smiled, supposing it to be some joke. "Very well, sir. He can come
in!"

"He is in, ma'am. It is myself."

"Is young Mr. Jupp there?" she asked; for he sometimes came home with
Arthur.

"Young Mr. Jupp has disappeared from public life, and I am appointed in
his place. It is quite true."

"Arthur!" she remonstrated.

"Mamma, indeed it is true. Mr. Williams has made me the offer, and Mr.
Galloway has consented to allow me time to attend the week-day services;
and papa is glad of it, and I hope you will be glad also."

"_I_ have known of it since this morning," spoke Tom, with an assumption
of easy consequence; while Mrs. Channing was recovering her senses,
which had been nearly frightened away. "Arthur, I hope Williams intends
to pay you?"

"Fifty pounds a year, And the copying besides."

"_Is_ it true, Arthur?" breathlessly exclaimed Mrs. Channing.

"I have told you that it is, mother mine. Jupp has resigned, and I am
assistant-organist."

Annabel danced round him in an ecstasy of delight. Not at his
success--success or failure did not much trouble Annabel--but she
thought there might be a prospect of some fun in store for herself.
"Arthur, you'll let me come into the cathedral and blow for you?"

"You little stupid!" cried Tom. "Much good you could do at blowing! A
girl blowing the college organ! That's rich! Better let Williams catch
you there! She'd actually go, I believe!"

"It is not your business, Tom; it is Arthur's," retorted Annabel, with
flushed cheeks. "Mamma, can't you teach Tom to interfere with himself,
and not with me?"

"I would rather teach Annabel to be a young lady, and not a tomboy,"
said Mrs. Channing. "You may as well wish to be allowed to ring the
college bells, as blow the organ, child."

"I should like that," said Annabel. "Oh, what fun, if the rope went up
with me!"

Mrs. Channing turned a reproving glance on her, and resumed her
conversation with Arthur. "Why did you not tell me before, my boy?
It was too good news to keep to yourself. How long has it been in
contemplation?"

"Dear mamma, only to-day. It was only this morning that Jupp resigned."

"Only to-day! It must have been decided very hastily, then, for a
measure of that sort."

"Mr. Williams was so put to it that he took care to lose no time. He
spoke to me at one o'clock. I had gone to him to the cathedral, asking
for the copying, which I heard was going begging, and he broached the
other subject, on the spur of the moment, as it seemed to me. Nothing
could be decided until I had seen Mr. Galloway, and I spoke to him after
he left here, this afternoon. He will allow me to be absent from the
office an hour, morning and afternoon, on condition that I attend for
two hours before breakfast."

"But, Arthur, you will have a great deal upon your hands."

"Not any too much. It will keep me out of mischief."

"When shall you find time to do the copying?"

"In an evening, I suppose. I shall find plenty of time."

As Hamish had observed, there was little to do at the books, that
evening, and he soon left the parlour. Constance happened to be in the
hall as he crossed it, on his way to his bedroom. Judith, who appeared
to have been on the watch, came gliding from the half-opened kitchen
door and approached Constance, looking after Hamish as he went up the
stairs.

"Do you see, Miss Constance?" she whispered. "He is carrying the books
up with him, as usual!"

At this juncture, Hamish turned round to speak to his sister.
"Constance, I don't want any supper to-night, tell my mother. You can
call me when it is time for the reading."

"And he is going to set on at 'em, now, and he'll be at 'em till morning
light!" continued Judith's whisper. "And he'll drop off into his
grave with decline!--'taint in the nature of a young man to do without
sleep--and that'll be the ending! And he'll burn himself up first, and
all the house with him."

"I think I will go and speak to him," debated Constance.

"_I_ should," advised Judith. "The worst is, if the books must be done,
why, they must; and I don't see that there is any help for it."

But Constance hesitated, considerably. She did not at all like to
interfere; it appeared so very much to resemble the work of a spy.
Several minutes she deliberated, and then went slowly up the stairs.
Knocking at Hamish's door, she turned the handle, and would have
entered. It was locked.

"Who's there?" called out Hamish.

"Can I come in for a minute, Hamish? I want to say a word to you."

He did not undo the door immediately. There appeared to be an opening
and closing of his desk, first--a scuffle, as of things being put away.
When Constance entered, she saw one of the insurance books open on the
table, the pen and ink near it; the others were not to be seen. The keys
were in the table lock. A conviction flashed over the mind of Constance
that Judith was right, in supposing the office accounts to be the
object that kept him up. "What can he do with his time in the day?" she
thought.

"What is it, Constance?"

"Can you let me speak to you, Hamish?"

"If you won't be long. I was just beginning to be busy," he replied,
taking out the keys and putting them into his pocket.

"I see you were," she said, glancing at the ledger. "Hamish, you must
not be offended with me, or think I interfere unwarrantably. I would not
do it, but that I am anxious for you. Why is it that you sit up so late
at night?"

There was a sudden accession of colour to his face--Constance saw it;
but there was a smile as well. "How do you know I do sit up? Has Judy
been telling tales?"

"Judy is uneasy about it, and she spoke to me this evening. She has
visions of the house being burnt up with every one in it, and of your
fatally injuring your health. I believe she would consider the latter
calamity almost more grievous than the former, for you know you were
always her favourite. Hamish; is there no danger of either?"

"There is not. I am too cautious for the one to happen, and, I believe,
too hardy for the other. Judy is a simpleton," he laughed; "she has her
water-butt, and what more can she desire?"

"Hamish, why do you sit up? Have you not time for your work in the day?"

"No. Or else I should do it in the day. I do not sit up enough to hurt
me. I have, on an average, three hours' night-work, five days in the
week; and if that can damage a strong fellow like me, call me a puny
changeling."

"You sit up much longer than that?"

"Not often. These light days, I sometimes do not sit up half so long; I
get up in the morning, instead. Constance, you look grave enough for a
judge!"

"And you, laughing enough to provoke me. Suppose I tell papa of this
habit of yours, and get him to forbid it?"

"Then, my dear, you would work irreparable mischief," he replied,
becoming grave in his turn. "Were I to be prevented from doing as I
please in my chamber in this house, I must find a room elsewhere, in
which I should be my own master."

"Hamish!"

"You oblige me to say it, Constance. You and Judy must lay your heads
together upon some other grievance, for, indeed, for this particular one
there is no remedy. She is an old goose, and you are a young one."

"Is it right that we should submit to the risk of being set on fire?"

"My dear, if that is the point, I'll have a fire-escape placed over
the front door every night, and pay a couple of watchmen to act as
guardians. Constance!" again dropping his tone of mockery, "you know
that you may trust me better than that."

"But, Hamish, how do you spend your time, that you cannot complete your
books in the day?"

"Oh," drawled Hamish, "ours is the laziest office! gossiping and scandal
going on in it from morning till night. In the fatigue induced by that,
I am not sure that I don't take a nap, sometimes."

Constance could not tell what to make of him. He was gazing at her with
the most perplexing expression of face, looking ready to burst into a
laugh.

"One last word, Hamish, for I hear Judith calling to you. Are you
obliged to do this night-work?"

"I am."

"Then I will say no more; and things must go on as it seems they have
hitherto done."

Arthur came running upstairs, and Hamish met him at the chamber
door. Arthur, who appeared strangely agitated, began speaking in a
half-whisper, unconscious that his sister was within. She heard every
word.

"Judy says some young man wants you, Hamish! I fear it may be the fellow
to serve the writ. What on earth is to be done?"

"Did Judy say I was at home?"

"Yes; and has handed him into the study, to wait. Did you not hear her
calling to you?"

"I can't--see him," Hamish was about to say. "Yes, I will see him,"
he added after a moment's reflection. "Anything rather than have a
disturbance which might come to my mother's ears. And I suppose if he
could not serve it now, he would watch for me in the morning."

"Shall I go down first, and hear what he has to say?"

"Arthur, boy, it would do no good. I have brought this upon myself, and
must battle with it. A Channing cannot turn coward!"

"But he may act with discretion," said Arthur. "I will speak to the man,
and if there's no help for it, I'll call you."

Down flew Arthur, four stairs at a time. Hamish remained with his body
inside his chamber door, and his head out. I conclude he was listening;
and, in the confusion, he had probably totally forgotten Constance.
Arthur came bounding up the stairs again, his eyes sparkling.

"A false alarm, Hamish! It's only Martin Pope."

"Martin Pope!" echoed Hamish, considerably relieved, for Martin Pope
was an acquaintance of his, and sub-editor of one of the Helstonleigh
newspapers. "Why could not Judy have opened her mouth?"

He ran down the stairs, the colour, which had left his face, returning
to it. But it did not to that of Constance; hers had changed to an ashy
whiteness. Arthur saw her standing there; saw that she must have heard
and understood all.

"Oh, Arthur, has it come to this? Is Hamish in _that_ depth of debt!"

"Hush! What brought you here, Constance?"

"What writ is it that he fears? Is there indeed one out against him?"

"I don't know much about it. There may be one."

She wrung her hands. "The next thing to a writ is a prison, is it
not? If he should be taken, what would become of the office--of papa's
position?"

"Do not agitate yourself," he implored. "It can do no good."

"Nothing can do good: nothing, nothing. Oh, what trouble!"

"Constance, in the greatest trouble there is always one Refuge."

"Yes," she mentally thought, bursting into tears. "What, but for that
shelter, would become of us in our bitter hours of trial?"



CHAPTER XI.


THE CLOISTER KEYS.

It was the twenty-second day of the month, and nearly a week after
the date of the last chapter. Arthur Channing sat in his place at the
cathedral organ, playing the psalm for the morning; for the hour was
that of divine service.

"O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is gracious: and His mercy endureth
for ever!"

The boy's whole heart went up with the words. _He_ gave thanks: mercies
had come upon him--upon his; and that great dread--which was turning his
days to gall, his nights to sleeplessness--the arrest of Hamish, had not
as yet been attempted. He felt it all as he sat there; and, in a softer
voice, he echoed the sweet song of the choristers below, verse after
verse as each verse rose on the air, filling the aisles of the old
cathedral: how that God delivers those who cry unto Him--those who sit
in darkness and in the shadow of death; those whose hearts fail through
heaviness, who fall down and there is none to help them--He brings them
out of the darkness, and breaks their bonds in sunder. They that go down
to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters, who see
the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep; whose hearts cower
at the stormy rising of the waves, and in their agony of distress cry
unto Him to help them; and He hears the cry, and delivers them. He
stills the angry waves, and calms the storm, and brings them into the
haven where they would be; and then they are glad, because they are at
rest.

"O that men would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness: and
declare the wonders that He doeth for the children of men!

"And again, when they are minished, and brought low: through oppression,
through any plague or trouble; though He suffer them to be evil
intreated through tyrants: and let them wander out of the way in the
wilderness; yet helpeth He the poor out of misery: and maketh him
households like a flock of sheep.

"Whoso is wise will ponder these things: and they shall understand the
loving-kindness of the Lord."

The refrain died away, the gentle echo died after it, and silence fell
upon the cathedral. It was broken by the voice of the Reverend William
Yorke, giving out the first lesson--a chapter in Jeremiah.

At the conclusion of the service, Arthur Channing left the college. In
the cloisters he was overtaken by the choristers, who were hastening
back to the schoolroom. At the same moment Ketch, the porter, passed,
coming towards them from the south entrance of the cloisters. He touched
his hat in his usual ungracious fashion to the dean and Dr. Gardner,
who were turning into the chapter-house, carrying their trenchers, and
looked the other way as he passed the boys.

Arthur caught hold of Hurst. "Have you 'served out' old Ketch, as you
threatened?" he laughingly asked.

"Hush!" whispered Hurst. "It has not come off yet. We had an idea that
an inkling of it had got abroad, so we thought it best to keep quiet for
a few nights, lest the Philistines should be on the watch. But the time
is fixed now, and I can tell you that it is not a hundred nights off."

With a shower of mysterious nods and winks, Hurst rushed away and
bounded up the stairs to the schoolroom. Arthur returned to Mr.
Galloway's. "It's the awfullest shame!" burst forth Tom Channing that
day at dinner (and allow me to remark, _par parenthèse_, that, in
reading about schoolboys, you must be content to accept their grammar as
it comes); and he brought the handle of his knife down upon the table in
a passion.

"Thomas!" uttered Mr. Channing, in amazed reproof.

"Well, papa, and so it is! and the school's going pretty near mad over
it!" returned Tom, turning his crimsoned face upon his father. "Would
you believe that I and Huntley are to be passed over in the chance for
the seniorship, and Yorke is to have it, without reference to merit?"

"No, I do not believe it, Tom," quietly replied Mr. Channing. "But, even
were it true, it is no reason why you should break out in that unseemly
manner. Did you ever know a hot temper do good to its possessor?"

"I know I am hot-tempered," confessed Tom. "I cannot help it, papa; it
was born with me."

"Many of our failings were born with us, my boy, as I have always
understood. But they are to be subdued; not indulged."

"Papa, you must acknowledge that it is a shame if Pye has promised the
seniorship to Yorke, over my head and Huntley's," reiterated Tom, who
was apt to speak as strongly as he thought. "If he gets the seniorship,
the exhibition will follow; that is an understood thing. Would it be
just?"

"Why are you saying this? What have you heard?"

"Well, it is a roundabout tale," answered Tom. "But the rumour in the
school is this--and if it turns out to be true, Gerald Yorke will about
get eaten up alive."

"Is that the rumour, Tom?" said Mrs. Channing.

Tom laughed, in spite of his anger. "I had not come to the rumour,
mamma. Lady Augusta and Dr. Burrows are great friends, you know; and we
hear that they have been salving over Pye--"

"Gently, Tom!" put in Mr. Channing.

"Talking over Pye, then," corrected Tom, impatient to proceed with his
story; "and Pye has promised to promote Gerald Yorke to the seniorship.
He--"

"Dr. Burrows has gone away again," interrupted Annabel. "I saw him go by
to-day in his travelling carriage. Judy says he has gone to his rectory;
some of the deanery servants told her so."

"You'll get something, Annabel, if you interrupt in that fashion," cried
Tom. "Last Monday, Dr. Burrows gave a dinner-party. Pye was there, and
Lady Augusta was there; and it was then they got Pye to promise it to
Yorke."

"How is it known that they did?" asked Mr. Channing.

"The boys all say it, papa. It was circulating through the school this
morning like wild-fire."

"You will never take the prize for logic, Tom. _How_ did the boys hear
it, I ask?"

"Through Mr. Calcraft," replied Tom.

"Tom!"

"Mr. Ketch, then," said Tom, correcting himself as he had done before.
"Both names are a mile too good for him. Ketch came into contact with
some of the boys this morning before ten-o'clock school, and, of course,
they went into a wordy war--which is nothing new. Huntley was the only
senior present, and Ketch was insolent to him. One of the boys told
Ketch that he would not dare to be so, next year, if Huntley should
be senior boy. Ketch sneered at that, and said Huntley never would be
senior boy, nor Channing either, for it was already given to Yorke. The
boys took his words up, ridiculing the notion of _his_ knowing anything
of the matter, and they did not spare their taunts. That roused his
temper, and the old fellow let out all he knew. He said Lady Augusta
Yorke was at Galloway's office yesterday, boasting about it before
Jenkins."

"A roundabout tale, indeed!" remarked Mr. Channing; "and told in a
somewhat roundabout manner, Tom. I should not put faith in it. Did you
hear anything of this, Arthur?"

"No, sir. I know that Lady Augusta called at the office yesterday
afternoon while I was at college. I don't know anything more."

"Huntley intends to drop across Jenkins this afternoon, and question
him," resumed Tom Channing. "There can't be any doubt that it was he who
gave the information to Ketch. If Huntley finds that Lady Augusta did
assert it, the school will take the affair up."

The boast amused Hamish. "In what manner will the school be pleased to
'take it up?'" questioned he. "Recommend the dean to hold Mr. Pye under
surveillance? Or send Lady Augusta a challenge?"

Tom Channing nodded his head mysteriously. "There is many a true word
spoken in jest, Hamish. I don't know yet what we should do: we should do
something. The school won't stand it tamely. The day for that one-sided
sort of oppression has gone out with our grandmothers' fashions."

"It would be very wrong of the school to stand it," said Charley,
throwing in his word. "If the honours are to go by sneaking favour, and
not by merit, where is the use of any of us putting out our mettle?"

"You be quiet, Miss Charley! you juniors have nothing to do with it,"
were all the thanks the boy received from Tom.

Now the facts really were very much as Tom Channing asserted; though
whether, or how far, Mr. Pye had promised, and whether Lady Augusta's
boast had been a vain one, was a matter for speculation. Neither could
it be surmised the part, if any, played in it by Prebendary Burrows. It
was certain that Lady Augusta had, on the previous day, boasted to Mr.
Galloway, in his office, that her son was to have the seniorship; that
Mr. Pye had promised it to her and Dr. Burrows, at the dinner-party.
She spoke of it without the least reserve, in a tone of much
self-gratulation, and she laughingly told Jenkins, who was at his desk
writing, that he might wish Gerald joy when he next saw him. Jenkins
accepted it all as truth: it may be questioned if Mr. Galloway did,
for he knew that Lady Augusta did not always weigh her words before
speaking.

In the evening--this same evening, mind, after the call at the office of
Lady Augusta--Mr. Jenkins proceeded towards home when he left his work.
He took the road through the cloisters. As he was passing the porter's
lodge, who should he see in it but his father, old Jenkins, the
bedesman, holding a gossip with Ketch; and they saw him.

"If that ain't our Joe a-going past!" exclaimed the bedesman.

Joe stepped in. He was proceeding to join in the converse, when a lot
of the college boys tore along, hooting and shouting, and kicking a ball
about. It was kicked into the lodge, and a few compliments were thrown
at the boys by the porter, before they could get the ball out again.
These compliments, you may be quite sure, the boys did not fail to
return with interest: Tom Channing, in particular, being charmingly
polite.

"And the saucy young beast'll be the senior boy soon!" foamed Mr. Ketch,
as the lot decamped. "I wish I could get him gagged, I do!"

"No, he will not," said Joe Jenkins, speaking impulsively in his
superior knowledge. "Yorke is to be senior."

"How do you know that, Joe?" asked his father.

Joe replied by relating what he had heard said by the Lady Augusta that
afternoon. It did not conciliate the porter in the remotest degree:
he was not more favourably inclined to Gerald Yorke than he was to Tom
Channing. Had he heard the school never was to have a senior again, or a
junior either, that might have pleased him.

But on the following morning, when he fell into dispute with the boys in
the cloisters, he spoke out his information in a spirit of triumph over
Huntley. Bit by bit, angered by the boys' taunts, he repeated every word
he had heard from Jenkins. The news, as it was busily circulated from
one to the other, caused no slight hubbub in the school, and gave rise
to that explosion of Tom Channing's at the dinner-table.

Huntley sought Jenkins, as he had said he would do, and received
confirmation of the report, so far as the man's knowledge went. But
Jenkins was terribly vexed that the report had got abroad through him.
He determined to pay a visit to Mr. Ketch, and reproach him with his
incaution.

Mr. Ketch sat in his lodge, taking his supper: bread and cheese, and a
pint of ale procured at the nearest public-house. Except in the light
months of summer, it was his habit to close the cloister gates before
supper-time; but as Mr. Ketch liked to take that meal early--that is
to say, at eight o'clock--and, as dusk, for at least four months in the
year, obstinately persisted in putting itself off to a later hour, in
spite of his growling, and as he might not shut up before dusk, he had
no resource but to take his supper first and lock up afterwards. The
"lodge" was a quaint abode, of one room only, built in an obscure nook
of the cathedral, near the grand entrance. He was pursuing his meal
after his own peculiar custom: eating, drinking, and grumbling.

"It's worse nor leather, this cheese! Selling it to a body for
double-Gloucester! I'd like to double them as made it. Eight-pence a
pound!--and short weight beside! I wonder there ain't a law passed to
keep down the cost o' provisions!"

A pause, given chiefly to grunting, and Mr. Ketch resumed:--

"This bread's rougher nor a bear's hide! Go and ask for new, and they
palms you off with stale. They'll put a loaf a week old into the oven
to hot up again, and then sell it to you for new! There ought to be a
criminal code passed for hanging bakers. They're all cheats. They mixes
up alum, and bone-dust, and plaster of Paris, and--Drat that door! Who's
kicking at it now?"

No one was kicking. Some one was civilly knocking. The door was pushed
slightly open, and the inoffensive face of Mr. Joseph Jenkins appeared
in the aperture.

"I say, Mr. Ketch," began he in a mild tone of deprecation, "whatever is
it that you have gone and done?"

"What d'ye mean?" growled old Ketch. "Is this a way to come and set upon
a gentleman in his own house? Who taught you manners, Joe Jenkins?"

"You have been repeating what I mentioned last night about Lady
Augusta's son getting the seniorship," said Jenkins, coming in and
closing the door.

"You did say it," retorted Mr. Ketch.

"I know I did. But I did not suppose you were going to repeat it again."

"If it was a secret, why didn't you say so?" asked Mr. Ketch.

"It was not exactly a secret, or Lady Augusta would not have mentioned
it before me," remonstrated Joe. "But it is not the proper thing, for
me to come out of Mr. Galloway's office, and talk of anything I may have
heard said in it by his friends, and then for it to get round to his
ears again! Put it to yourself, Mr. Ketch, and say whether you would
like it."

"What _did_ you talk of it for, then?" snarled Ketch, preparing to take
a copious draught of ale.

"Because I thought you and father were safe. You might both have known
better than to speak of it out of doors. There is sure to be a commotion
over it."

"Miserable beer! Brewed out of ditch-water!"

"Young Mr. Huntley came to me to-day, to know the rights and the wrongs
of it--as he said," continued Joseph. "He spoke to Mr. Galloway about
it afterwards--though I must say he was kind enough not to bring in
my name; only said, in a general way, that he had 'heard' it. He is an
honourable young gentleman, is that Huntley. He vows the report shall be
conveyed to the dean."

"Serve 'em right!" snapped the porter. "If the dean does his duty, he'll
order a general flogging for the school, all round. It'll do 'em good."

"Galloway did not say much--except that he knew what he should do, were
he Huntley's or Channing's father. Which I took to mean that, in his
opinion, there ought to be an inquiry instituted."

"And you know there ought," said Mr. Ketch.

"_I_ know! I'm sure I don't know," was the mild answer. "It is not my
place to reflect upon my superiors, Mr. Ketch--to say they should do
this, or they should do that. I like to reverence them, and to keep a
civil tongue in my head."

"Which is what you don't do. If I knowed who brewed this beer I'd enter
an action again him, for putting in no malt."

"I would not have had this get about for any money!" resumed Jenkins.
"Neither you nor father shall ever catch me opening my lips again."

"Keep 'em shut then," growled old Ketch.

Mr. Ketch leisurely finished his supper, and the two continued talking
until dusk came on--almost dark; for the porter, churl though he was,
liked a visitor as well as any one--possibly as a vent for his temper.
He did not often find one who would stand it so meekly as Joe Jenkins.
At length Mr. Jenkins lifted himself off the shut-up press bedstead on
which he had been perched, and prepared to depart.

"Come along of me while I lock up," said Ketch, somewhat less
ungraciously than usual.

Mr. Jenkins hesitated. "My wife will be wondering what has become of
me; she'll blow me up for keeping supper waiting," debated he, aloud.
"But--well, I don't mind going with you this once, for company's sake,"
he added in his willingness to be obliging.

The two large keys, one at each end of a string, were hung up just
within the lodge door; they belonged to the two gates of the cloisters.
Old Ketch took them down and went out with Jenkins, merely closing his
own door; he rarely fastened it, unless he was going some distance.

Very dark were the enclosed cloisters, as they entered by the west gate.
It was later than the usual hour of closing, and it was, moreover, a
gloomy evening, the sky overcast. They went through the cloisters to the
south gate, Ketch grumbling all the way. He locked it, and then turned
back again.

Arrived about midway of the west quadrangle, the very darkest part in
all the cloisters, and the most dreary, Jenkins suddenly startled his
companion by declaring there was a light in the burial-ground.

"Come along!" growled Ketch. "You'll say there's corpse-candles there
next."

"It is only a little spark, like," said Jenkins, halting. "I should not
wonder but it is one of those pretty, innocent glowworms."

He leaned his arms upon the mullioned frame of the open Gothic window,
raised himself on tiptoe to obtain as complete a view as was possible,
and pushed his head out to reconnoitre the grave-yard. Mr. Ketch
shuffled on; the keys, held somewhat loosely in his hand by the string,
clanking together.

"Be you going to stop there all night?" he called out, when he had gone
a few paces, half turning round to speak.

At that moment a somewhat startling incident occurred. The keys were
whisked out of Mr. Ketch's hand, and fell, or appeared to fall, with a
clatter on the flags at his feet. He turned his anger upon Jenkins.

"Now then, you senseless calf! What did you do that for?"

"Did you speak?" asked Jenkins, taking his elbows from the distant
window-frame, and approaching.

Mr. Ketch felt a little staggered. His belief had been that Jenkins had
come up silently, and dashed the keys from his hand; but Jenkins,
it appeared, had not left the window. However, like too many other
cross-grained spirits, he persisted in venting blame upon him.

"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, to play an old man such a trick?"

"I have played no trick," said Jenkins. "I thought I saw a glowworm,
and I stopped to look; but I couldn't see it again. There's no trick in
that."

"Ugh!" cried the porter in his wrath. "You took and clutched the keys
from me, and throwed 'em on the ground! Pick 'em up."

"Well, I never heard the like!" said Jenkins. "I was not within yards
and yards of you. If you dropped the keys it was no fault of mine." But,
being a peaceably-inclined man, he stooped and found the keys.

The porter grunted. An inner current of conviction rose in his heart
that he must undoubtedly have dropped them, though he could have
declared at the time that they were mysteriously snatched from him. He
seized the string firmly now, and hobbled on to the west door, abusing
Jenkins all the way.

They arrived at the west door, which was gained by a narrow closed
passage from the gate of entrance, as was the south door in a similar
manner; and there Mr. Ketch used his eyes and his tongue considerably,
for the door, instead of being open, as he had left it, was shut and
locked.

"What on earth has done this?" shrieked he.

"Done what?" asked Mr. Jenkins.

"Done what!" was the irascible echo. "Be you a fool, Joe Jenkins? Don't
you see the door's fast!"

"Unfasten it," said Jenkins sensibly.

Mr. Ketch proceeded to do so--at least to apply one of the keys to the
lock--with much fumbling. It apparently did not occur to him to wonder
how the locking-up process could have been effected, considering that
the key had been in his own possession.

Fumbling and fumbling, now with one key, now with the other, and then
critically feeling the keys and their wards, the truth at length burst
upon the unhappy man that the keys were not the right keys, and that he
and Jenkins were--locked in! A profuse perspiration broke out over him.

"They _must_ be the keys," remonstrated Mr. Jenkins.

"They are _not_ the keys," shrieked Ketch. "D'ye think I don't know my
own keys, now I come to feel 'em?"

"But they were your keys that fell down and that I picked up," argued
Jenkins, perfectly sure in his own mind that they could be no others.
"There was not a fairy in the cloisters to come and change them."

"Feel 'em!" roared Ketch, in his despair. "These be a couple of horrid,
rusty old things, that can't have been in use since the cloisters was
built. _You_ have changed 'em, you have!" he sobbed, the notion taking
possession of him forcibly. "You are a-doing it to play me a infamous
trick, and I'll have you up before the dean to-morrow! I'll shake the
life out of you, I will!"

Laying summary hold of Mr. Jenkins, he began to shake him with all his
feeble strength. The latter soon extricated himself, and he succeeded in
impressing on the man the fallacy of his suspicion. "Don't I want to get
home to my supper and my wife? Don't I tell you that she'll set upon
me like anything for keeping it waiting?" he meekly remonstrated. "Do I
want to be locked up in these unpleasant cloisters? Give me the keys and
let me try them."

Ketch, in sheer helplessness, was fain to comply. He resigned the keys
to Jenkins, and Jenkins tried them: but he was none the nearer unlocking
the gate. In their increasing perplexity, they resolved to return to
the place in the quadrangle where the keys had fallen--a very forlorn
suggestion proceeding from Mr. Jenkins that the right keys might be
lying there still, and that this rusty pair might, by some curious and
unaccountable chance, have been lying there also.

They commenced their search, disputing, the one hotly, the other
temperately, as to which was the exact spot. With feet and hands they
hunted as well as the dark would allow them; all in vain; and Ketch gave
vent to a loud burst of feeling when he realized the fact that they were
positively locked up in the cloisters, beyond hope of succour, in the
dark and lonely night.



CHAPTER XII.


A MISHAP TO THE BISHOP.

"Fordham, I wonder whether the cloisters are closed?"

"I will see, my lord."

The question came from the Bishop of Helstonleigh; who, as it fell out,
had been to make an evening call upon the dean. The dean's servant was
now conducting his lordship down the grand staircase, on his departure.
In proceeding to the palace from the deanery, to go through the
cloisters cut off quite two-thirds of the distance.

Fordham left the hall, a lamp in his hand, and traversed sundry passages
which brought him to the deanery garden. Crossing the garden, and
treading another short passage, he came to the cloisters. The bishop had
followed, lighted by Fordham, and talking affably. A very pleasant
man was the Bishop of Helstonleigh, standing little upon forms and
ceremonies. In frame he was nearly as active as a college boy.

"It is all right, I think, my lord," said Fordham. "I hear the porter's
voice now in the cloisters."

"How dark it is!" exclaimed the bishop. "Ketch must be closing late
to-night. What a noise he is making!"

In point of fact, Mr. Ketch had just arrived at that agreeable moment
which concluded the last chapter--the conviction that no other keys were
to be found, and that he and Jenkins were fast. The tone in which he was
making his sentiments known upon the calamity, was not a subdued one.

"Shall I light you round, my lord?"

"By no means--by no means. I shall be up with Ketch in a minute. He
seems in a temper. Good night, Fordham."

"Good night to your lordship."

The servant went back to the deanery. The prelate groped his way round
to the west quadrangle.

"Are you closing, Ketch?"

Mr. Ketch started as if he had been shot, and his noise dropped to a
calm. Truth to say, his style of complaint had not been orthodox,
or exactly suitable to the ears of his bishop. He and Jenkins both
recognized the voice, and bowed low, dark though it was.

"What is the matter, Ketch? You are making enough noise."

"Matter, my lord!" groaned Ketch. "Here's matter enough to make a
saint--saving your lordship's presence--forget his prayers. We be locked
up in the cloisters."

"Locked up!" repeated the bishop. "What do you mean? Who is with you?"

"It is me, my lord," said Jenkins, meekly, answering for himself.
"Joseph Jenkins, my lord, at Mr. Galloway's. I came in with the porter
just for company, my lord, when he came to lock up, and we have somehow
got locked in."

The bishop demanded an explanation. It was not very easily afforded.
Ketch and Jenkins talked one against the other, and when the bishop did
at length understand the tale, he scarcely gave credence to it.

"It is an incomprehensible story, Ketch, that you should drop your keys,
and they should be changed for others as they lay on the flags. Are you
sure you brought out the right keys?"

"My lord, I _couldn't_ bring out any others," returned Ketch, in a tone
that longed to betray its resentment, and would have betrayed it to any
one but a bishop. "I haven't no others to bring, my lord. The two keys
hang up on the nail always, and there ain't another key besides in the
house, except the door key."

"Some one must have changed them previously--must have hung up these in
their places," remarked the bishop.

"But, my lord, it couldn't be, I say," reiterated old Ketch, almost
shrieking. "I know the keys just as well as I know my own hands, and
they was the right keys that I brought out. The best proof, my lord, is,
that I locked the south door fast enough; and how could I have done that
with these wretched old rusty things?"

"The keys must be on the flags still," said his lordship.

"That is the only conclusion I can come to, my lord," mildly put in
Jenkins. "But we cannot find them."

"And meanwhile we are locked in for the night, and here's his right
reverend lordship, the bishop, locked in with us!" danced old Ketch,
almost beside himself with anger. "Of course, it wouldn't matter for me
and Jenkins: speaking in comparison, we are nobody; but it is a shameful
indignity for my lord."

"We must try and get out, Ketch," said his lordship, in a tone that
sounded as if he were more inclined to laugh than cry. "I will go back
to the deanery."

Away went the bishop as quickly as the gloom allowed him, and away went
the other two in his wake. Arrived at the passage which led from the
cloisters to the deanery garden they groped their way to the end--only
to find the door closed and locked.

"Well, this is a pleasant situation!" exclaimed the bishop, his tone
betraying amusement as well as annoyance; and with his own prelatical
hands he pummelled at the door, and shouted with his own prelatical
voice. When the bishop was tired, Jenkins and Ketch began to pummel and
to shout, and they pummelled and shouted till their knuckles were sore
and their throats were hoarse. It was all in vain. The garden intervened
between them and the deanery, and they could not be heard.

It certainly was a pretty situation, as the prelate remarked. The
Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Helstonleigh, ranking about fifth,
by precedence, on the episcopal bench, locked up ignominiously in
the cloisters of Helstonleigh, with Ketch the porter, and Jenkins the
steward's clerk; likely, so far as appearances might be trusted, to have
to pass the night there! The like had never yet been heard of.

The bishop went to the south gate, and tried the keys himself: the
bishop went to the west gate and tried them there; the bishop stamped
about the west quadrangle, hoping to stamp upon the missing keys; but
nothing came of it. Ketch and Jenkins attended him--Ketch grumbling in
the most angry terms that he dared, Jenkins in humble silence.

"I really do not see what is to be done," debated the bishop, who,
no doubt, wished himself well out of the dilemma, as any less exalted
mortal would have done, "The doors leading into the college are sure to
be closed."

"Quite sure," groaned Ketch.

"And to get into the college would not serve us, that I see," added the
bishop. "We should be no better off there than here."

"Saving that we might ring the bell, my lord," suggested Jenkins, with
deference.

They proceeded to the college gates. It was a forlorn hope, and one that
did not serve them. The gates were locked, the doors closed behind them.
No reaching the bell that way; it might as well have been a hundred
miles off.

They traversed the cloisters again, and tried the door of the
schoolroom. It was locked. Had it not been, the senior boy might have
expected punishment from the head-master. They tried the small door
leading into the residence of Dr. Burrows--fast also; that abode just
now was empty. The folding doors of the chapter-house were opened
easily, and they entered. But what did it avail them? There was the
large, round room, lined with its books, furnished with its immense
table and easy-chairs; but it was as much shut in from the hearing of
the outside world as they were. The bishop came into contact with a
chair, and sat down in it. Jenkins, who, as clerk to Mr. Galloway, the
steward to the dean and chapter, was familiar with the chapter-house,
felt his way to the spot where he knew matches were sometimes kept. He
could not find any: it was the time of light evenings.

"There's just one chance, my lord," suggested Jenkins. "That the little
unused door at the corner of the cloisters, leading into the body of the
cathedral, may not be locked."

"Precious careless of the sextons, if it is not!" grunted Ketch.

"It is a door nobody ever thinks of going in at, my lord," returned
Jenkins, as if he would apologize for the sextons' carelessness, should
it be found unfastened. "If it is open, we might get to the bell."

"The sextons, proud, stuck-up gentlemen, be made up of carelessness and
anything else that's bad!" groaned Ketch. "Holding up their heads above
us porters!"

It was worth the trial. The bishop rose from the chair, and groped his
way out of the chapter-house, the two others following.

"If it hadn't been for that Jenkins's folly, fancying he saw a light
in the burying-ground, and me turning round to order him to come on,
it might not have happened," grumbled Ketch, as they wound round the
cloisters.

"A light in the burial-ground!" hastily repeated the bishop. "What
light?"

"Oh, a corpse-candle, or some nonsense of that sort, he had his mind
running on, my lord. Half the world is idiots, and Jenkins is the
biggest of 'em."

"My lord," spoke poor Jenkins, deprecatingly, "I never had such a
thought within me as that it was a 'corpse-candle.' I said I fancied it
might be a glowworm. And I believe it was one, my lord."

"A more sensible thought than the other," observed the prelate.

Luck at last! The door was found to be unlocked. It was a low narrow
door, only used on the very rare occasion of a funeral, and was situated
in a shady, out-of-the-way nook, where no one ever thought of looking.
"Oh, come, this is something!" cried the bishop, cheerily, as he stepped
into the cathedral.

"And your lordship now sees what fine careless sextons we have got!"
struck in Ketch.

"We must overlook their carelessness this time, in consideration of the
service it renders us," said the bishop, in a kindly tone. "Take care of
the pillars, Ketch."

"Thank ye, my lord. I'm going along with my hands held out before me, to
save my head," returned Ketch.

Most likely the bishop and Jenkins were doing the same. Dexterously
steering clear of the pillars, they emerged in the wide, open body of
the cathedral, and bent their steps across it to the spot where hung the
ropes of the bells.

The head sexton to the cathedral--whom you must not confound with a
gravedigger, as you might an ordinary sexton; cathedral sextons are
personages of more importance--was seated about this hour at supper in
his home, close to the cathedral. Suddenly the deep-toned college bell
boomed out, and the man started as if a gun had been fired at him.

"Why, that's the college bell!" he uttered to his family. And the family
stared with open mouths without replying.

The college bell it certainly was, and it was striking out sharp
irregular strokes, as though the ringer were not accustomed to his work.
The sexton started up, in a state of the most amazed consternation.

"It is magic; it is nothing less--that the bell should be ringing out at
this hour!" exclaimed he.

"Father," suggested a juvenile, "perhaps somebody's got locked up in the
college." For which prevision he was rewarded with a stinging smack on
the head.

"Take that, sir! D'ye think I don't know better than to lock folks up in
the college? It was me, myself, as locked up this evening."

"No need to box him for that," resented the wife. "The bell _is_
ringing, and I'll be bound the boy's right enough. One of them masons
must have fallen asleep in the day, and has just woke up to find himself
shut in. Hope he likes his berth!"

Whatever it might be, ringing the bell, whether magic or mason, of
course it must be seen to; and the sexton hastened out, the cathedral
keys in his hand. He bent his steps towards the front entrance, passing
the cloisters, which, as he knew, would be locked at that hour. "And
that bear of a Ketch won't hurry himself to unlock them," soliloquized
he.

He found the front gates surrounded. The bell had struck upon the
wondering ears of many living within the precincts of the cathedral, who
flocked out to ascertain the reason. Amongst others, the college boys
were coming up in troops.

"Now, good people, please--by your leave!" cried the sexton. "Let me get
to the gates."

They made way for the man and his ponderous keys, and entrance to the
college was gained. The sexton was beginning a sharp reproof to the
"mason," and the crowd preparing a chorus to it, when they were seized
with consternation, and fell back on each other's toes. It was the
Bishop of Helstonleigh, in his laced-up hat and apron, who walked forth.

The sexton humbly snatched off his hat; the college boys raised their
trenchers.

"Thank you all for coming to the rescue," said the bishop, in a
pleasant tone. "It was not an agreeable situation, to be locked in the
cathedral."

"My lord," stammered the sexton, in awe-struck dread, as to whether he
had unwittingly been the culprit: "how did your lordship get locked in?"

"That is what we must inquire into," replied the bishop.

The next to hobble out was Ketch. In his own fashion, almost ignoring
the presence of the bishop, he made known the tale. It was received with
ridicule. The college boys especially cast mockery upon it, and began
dancing a jig when the bishop's back was turned. "Let a couple of keys
drop down, and, when picked up, you found them transmogrified into old
rusty machines, made in the year one!" cried Bywater. "_That's_ very
like a whale, Ketch!"

Ketch tore off to his lodge, as fast as his lumbago allowed him, calling
upon the crowd to come and look at the nail where the keys always hung,
except when in use, and holding out the rusty dissemblers for public
view, in a furious passion.

He dashed open the door. The college boys, pushing before the crowd, and
following on the bishop's heels--who had probably his own reasons for
wishing to see the solution of the affair--thronged into the lodge.
"There's the nail, my lord, and there--"

Ketch stopped, dumbfounded. On the nail, hanging by the string, as
quietly as if they had hung for ages, were the cloister keys. Ketch
rubbed his eyes, and stared, and rubbed again. The bishop smiled.

"I told you, Ketch, I thought you must be mistaken, in supposing you
brought the proper keys out."

Ketch burst into a wail of anger and deprecation. He had took out the
right keys, and Jenkins could bear him out in the assertion. Some wicked
trick had been played upon him, and the keys brought back during his
absence and hung up on their hook! He'd lay his life it was the college
boys!

The bishop turned his eyes on those young gentlemen. But nothing could
be more innocent than their countenances, as they stood before him in
their trenchers. Rather too innocent, perhaps: and the bishop's eyes
twinkled, and a half-smile crossed his lips; but he made no sign. Well
would it be if all the clergy were as sweet-tempered as that Bishop of
Helstonleigh!

"Well, Ketch, take care of your keys for the future," was all he said,
as he walked away. "Good night, boys."

"Good night to your lordship," replied the boys, once more raising their
trenchers; and the crowd, outside, respectfully saluted their prelate,
who returned it in kind.

"What are you waiting for, Thorpe?" the bishop demanded, when he found
the sexton was still at the great gates, holding them about an inch
open.

"For Jenkins, my lord," was the reply. "Ketch said he was also locked
in."

"Certainly he was," replied the bishop. "Has he not come forth?"

"That he has not, my lord. I have let nobody whatever out except your
lordship and the porter. I have called out to him, but he does not
answer, and does not come."

"He went up into the organ-loft in search of a candle and matches,"
remarked the bishop. "You had better go after him, Thorpe. He may not
know that the doors are open."

The bishop left, crossing over to the palace. Thorpe, calling one of the
old bedesmen, some of whom had then come up, left him in charge of the
gate, and did as he was ordered. He descended the steps, passed through
the wide doors, and groped his way in the dark towards the choir.

"Jenkins!"

There was no answer.

"Jenkins!" he called out again.

Still there was no answer: except the sound of the sexton's own voice as
it echoed in the silence of the large edifice.

"Well, this is an odd go!" exclaimed Thorpe, as he leaned against a
pillar and surveyed the darkness of the cathedral. "He can't have melted
away into a ghost, or dropped down into the crypt among the coffins.
Jenkins, I say!"

With a word of impatience at the continued silence, the sexton returned
to the entrance gates. All that could be done was to get a light and
search for him.

They procured a lantern, Ketch ungraciously supplying it; and the
sexton, taking two or three of the spectators with him, proceeded to
the search. "He has gone to sleep in the organ-loft, that is what he has
done," cried Thorpe, making known what the bishop had said.

Alas! Jenkins had not gone to sleep. At the foot of the steps, leading
to the organ-loft, they came upon him. He was lying there insensible,
blood oozing from a wound in the forehead. How had it come about? What
had caused it?

Meanwhile, the college boys, after driving Mr. Ketch nearly wild with
their jokes and ridicule touching the mystery of the keys, were scared
by the sudden appearance of the head-master. They decamped as fast as
their legs could carry them, bringing themselves to an anchor at a safe
distance, under shade of the friendly elm trees. Bywater stuck his back
against one, and his laughter came forth in peals. Some of the rest
tried to stop it, whispering caution.

"It's of no good talking, you fellows! I can't keep it in; I shall burst
if I try. I have been at bursting point ever since I twitched the keys
out of his hands in the cloisters, and threw the rusty ones down. You
see I was right--that it was best for one of us to go in without our
boots, and to wait. If half a dozen had gone, we should never have got
away unheard."

"_I_ pretty nearly burst when I saw the bishop come out, instead of
Ketch," cried Tod Yorke. "Burst with fright."

"So did a few more of us," said Galloway. "I say, will there be a row?"

"Goodness knows! He is a kind old chap is the bishop. Better for it to
have been him than the dean."

"What was it Ketch said, about Jenkins seeing a glowworm?"

"Oh!" shrieked Bywater, holding his sides, "that was the best of all! I
had taken a lucifer out of my pocket, playing with it, while they went
round to the south gate, and it suddenly struck fire. I threw it over to
the burial-ground: and that soft Jenkins took it for a glowworm."

"It's a stunning go!" emphatically concluded Mr. Tod Yorke. "The best we
have had this half, yet."

"Hush--sh--sh--sh!" whispered the boys under their breath. "There goes
the master."



CHAPTER XIII.


MAD NANCE.

Mr. Galloway was in his office. Mr. Galloway was fuming and fretting at
the non-arrival of his clerk, Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins was a punctual
man; in fact, more than punctual: his proper time for arriving at the
office was half-past nine; but the cathedral clock had rarely struck the
quarter-past before Mr. Jenkins would be at his post. Almost any other
morning it would not have mattered a straw to Mr. Galloway whether
Jenkins was a little after or a little before his time; but on this
particular morning he had especial need of him, and had come himself to
the office unusually early.

One-two, three-four! chimed the quarters of the cathedral. "There it
goes--half-past nine!" ejaculated Mr. Galloway. "What _does_ Jenkins
mean by it? He knew he was wanted early."

A sharp knock at the office door, and there entered a little dark woman,
in a black bonnet and a beard. She was Mr. Jenkins's better half, and
had the reputation for being considerably the grey mare.

"Good morning, Mr. Galloway. A pretty kettle of fish, this is!"

"What's the matter now?" asked Mr. Galloway, surprised at the address.
"Where's Jenkins?"

"Jenkins is in bed with his head plastered up. He's the greatest booby
living, and would positively have come here all the same, but I told him
I'd strap him down with cords if he attempted it. A pretty object he'd
have looked, staggering through the streets, with his head big enough
for two, and held together with white plaster!"

"What has he done to his head?" wondered Mr. Galloway.

"Good gracious! have you not heard?" exclaimed the lady, whose mode of
speech was rarely overburdened with polite words, though she meant no
disrespect by it. "He got locked up in the cloisters last night with old
Ketch and the bishop."

Mr. Galloway stared at her. He had been dining, the previous evening,
with some friends at the other end of the town, and knew nothing of the
occurrence. Had he been within hearing when the college bell tolled out
at night, he would have run to ascertain the cause as eagerly as any
schoolboy. "Locked up in the cloisters with old Ketch and the bishop!"
he repeated, in amazement. "I do not understand."

Mrs. Jenkins proceeded to enlighten him. She gave the explanation of the
strange affair of the keys, as it had been given to her by the unlucky
Joe. While telling it, Arthur Channing entered, and, almost immediately
afterwards, Roland Yorke.

"The bishop, of all people!" uttered Mr. Galloway. "What an untoward
thing for his lordship!"

"No more untoward for him than for others," retorted the lady. "It just
serves Jenkins right. What business had he to go dancing through the
cloisters with old Ketch and his keys?"

"But how did Jenkins get hurt?" asked Mr. Galloway, for that particular
point had not yet been touched upon.

"He is the greatest fool going, is Jenkins," was the complimentary
retort of Jenkins's wife. "After he had helped to ring out the bell,
he must needs go poking and groping into the organ-loft, hunting
for matches or some such insane rubbish. He might have known, had he
possessed any sense, that candles and matches are not likely to be there
in summer-time! Why, if the organist wanted ever so much to stop in
after dark, when the college is locked up for the night, he wouldn't be
allowed to do it! It's only in winter, when he has to light a candle to
get through the afternoon service, that they keep matches and dips up
there."

"But about his head?" repeated Mr. Galloway, who was aware of the
natural propensity of Mrs. Jenkins to wander from the point under
discussion.

"Yes, about his head!" she wrathfully answered. "In attempting to
descend the stairs again, he missed his footing, and pitched right down
to the bottom of the flight. That's how his head came in for it. He
wants a nurse with him always, does Jenkins, for he is no better than a
child in leading-strings."

"Is he much hurt?"

"And there he'd have lain till morning, but for the bishop," resumed
Mrs. Jenkins, passing over the inquiry. "After his lordship got out, he,
finding Jenkins did not come, told Thorpe to go and look for him in the
organ-loft. Thorpe said he should have done nothing of the sort, but for
the bishop's order; he was just going to lock the great doors again, and
there Jenkins would have been fast! They found him lying at the foot of
the stairs, just inside the choir gates, with no more life in him than
there is in a dead man."

"I asked you whether he is seriously hurt, Mrs. Jenkins."

"Pretty well. He came to his senses as they were bringing him home, and
somebody ran for Hurst, the surgeon. He is better this morning."

"But not well enough to come to business?"

"Hurst told him if he worried himself with business, or anything else
to-day, he'd get brain fever as sure as a gun. He ordered him to stop in
bed and keep quiet, if he could."

"Of course he must do so," observed Mr. Galloway.

"There is no of course in it, when men are the actors," dissented Mrs.
Jenkins. "Hurst did well to say 'if he could,' when ordering him to
keep quiet. I'd rather have an animal ill in the house, than I'd have
a man--they are ten times more reasonable. There has Jenkins been,
tormenting himself ever since seven o'clock this morning about coming
here; he was wanted particularly, he said. 'Would you go if you were
dead?' I asked him; and he stood it out that if he were dead it would be
a different thing. 'Not different at all,' I said. A nice thing it would
be to have to nurse him through a brain fever!"

"I am grieved that it should have happened," said Mr. Galloway, kindly.
"Tell him from me, that we can manage very well without him. He must not
venture here again, until Mr. Hurst says he may come with safety."

"I should have told him that, to pacify him, whether you had said it or
not," candidly avowed Mrs. Jenkins. "And now I must go back home on the
run. As good have no one to mind my shop as that young house-girl of
ours. If a customer comes in for a pair of black stockings, she'll take
and give 'em a white knitted nightcap. She's as deficient of common
sense as Jenkins is. Your servant, sir. Good morning, young gentlemen!"

"Here, wait a minute!" cried Mr. Galloway, as she was speeding off. "I
cannot understand at all. The keys could not have been changed as they
lay on the flags."

"Neither can anybody else understand it," returned Mrs. Jenkins. "If
Jenkins was not a sober man--and he had better let me catch him being
anything else!--I should say the two, him and Ketch, had had a drop too
much. The bishop himself could make neither top nor tail of it. It'll
teach Jenkins not to go gallivanting again after other folk's business!"

She finally turned away, and Mr. Galloway set himself to revolve the
perplexing narrative. The more he thought, the less he was nearer doing
so; like the bishop, he could make neither top nor tail of it. "It is
entirely beyond belief!" he remarked to Arthur Channing; "unless Ketch
took out the wrong keys!"

"And if he took out the wrong keys, how could he have locked the south
door?" interrupted Roland Yorke. "I'd lay anybody five shillings that
those mischievous scamps of college boys were at the bottom of it;
I taxed Gerald with it, and he flew out at me for my pains. But the
seniors may not have been in it. You should have heard the bell clank
out last night, Mr. Galloway!"

"I suppose it brought out a few," was Mr. Galloway's rejoinder.

"It did that," said Arthur Channing. "Myself for one. When I saw the
bishop emerge from the college doors, I could scarcely believe my
sight."

"I'd have given half-a-crown to see him!" cried Roland Yorke. "If
there's any fun going on, it is sure to be my fate to miss it. Cator was
at my house, having a cigar with me; and, though we heard the bell, we
did not disturb ourselves to see what it might mean."

"What is your opinion of last night's work, Arthur?" asked Mr. Galloway,
returning to the point.

Arthur's opinion was a very decided one, but he did not choose to say
so. The meeting with the college boys at their stealthy post in the
cloisters, when he and Hamish were passing through at dusk, a few nights
before, coupled with the hints then thrown out of the "serving out" of
Ketch, could leave little doubt as to the culprits. Arthur returned an
answer, couched in general terms.

"Could it have been the college boys, think you?" debated Mr. Galloway.

"Not being a college boy, I cannot speak positively, sir," he said,
laughing. "Gaunt knows nothing of it. I met him as I was going home to
breakfast from my early hour's work here, and he told me he did not.
There would have been no harm done, after all, but for the accident to
Jenkins."

"One of you gentlemen can just step in to see Jenkins in the course of
the day, and reassure him that he is not wanted," said Mr. Galloway. "I
know how necessary it is to keep the mind tranquil in any fear of brain
affection."

No more was said, and the occupation of the day began. A busy day was
that at Mr. Galloway's, much to the chagrin of Roland Yorke, who had an
unconquerable objection to doing too much. He broke out into grumblings
at Arthur, when the latter came running in from his duty at college.

"I'll tell you what is, Channing; you ought not to have made the bargain
to go to that bothering organ on busy days; and Galloway must have been
out of his mind to let you make it. Look at the heap of work there is to
do!"

"I will soon make up for the lost hour," said Arthur, setting to with a
will. "Where's Mr. Galloway?"

"Gone to the bank," grumbled Roland. "And I have had to answer a dozen
callers-in at least, and do all my writing besides. I wonder what
possessed Jenkins to go and knock his head to powder?"

Mr. Galloway shortly returned, and sat down to write. It was a thing he
rarely did; he left writing to his clerks, unless it was the writing of
letters. By one o'clock the chief portion of the work was done, and
Mr. Roland Yorke's spirits recovered their elasticity. He went home to
dinner, as usual. Arthur preferred to remain at his post, and get on
further, sending the housekeeper's little maid out for a twopenny roll,
which he ate as he wrote. He was of a remarkably conscientious nature,
and thought it only fair to sacrifice a little time in case of need, in
return for the great favour which had been granted him by Mr. Galloway.
Many of the families who had sons in the college school dined at one
o'clock, as it was the most convenient hour for the boys. Growing youths
are not satisfied with anything less substantial than a dinner in the
middle of the day, and two dinners in a household tell heavily upon
the house-keeping. The Channings did not afford two, neither did Lady
Augusta Yorke; so their hour was one o'clock.

"What a muff you must be to go without your dinner!" cried Roland Yorke
to Arthur, when he returned at two o'clock. "I wouldn't."

"I have had my dinner," said Arthur.

"What did you have?" cried Roland, pricking up his ears. "Did Galloway
send to the hotel for roast ducks and green peas? That's what we had at
home, and the peas were half-boiled, and the ducks were scorched, and
cooked without stuffing. A wretched set of incapables our house turns
out! and my lady does not know how to alter it. You have actually
finished that deed, Channing?"

"It is finished, you see. It is surprising how much one can do in a
quiet hour!"

"Is Galloway out?"

Arthur pointed with his pen to the door of Mr. Galloway's private room,
to indicate that he was in it. "He is writing letters."

"I say, Channing, there's positively nothing left to do," went on
Roland, casting his eyes over the desk. "Here are these leases, but they
are not wanted until to-morrow. Who says we can't work in this office?"

Arthur laughed good-naturedly, to think of the small amount, out of that
day's work, which had fallen to Roland's share.

Some time elapsed. Mr. Galloway came into their room from his own to
consult a "Bradshaw," which lay on the shelf, alongside Jenkins's desk.
He held in his hand a very closely-written letter. It was of large,
letter-paper size, and appeared to be filled to the utmost of its four
pages. While he was looking at the book, the cathedral clock chimed the
three-quarters past two, and the bell rang for divine service.

"It can never be that time of day!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, in
consternation, as he took out his watch. "Sixteen minutes to three! and
I am a minute slow! How has the time passed? I ought to have been at--"

Mr. Galloway brought his words to a standstill, apparently too absorbed
in the railway guide to conclude them. Roland Yorke, who had a free
tongue, even with his master, filled up the pause.

"Were you going out, sir?"

"Is that any business of yours, Mr. Roland? Talking won't fill in that
lease, sir."

"The lease is not in a hurry, sir," returned incorrigible Roland. But he
held his tongue then, and bent his head over his work.

Mr. Galloway dipped his pen in the ink, and copied something from
"Bradshaw" into the closely-written letter, standing at Jenkins's desk
to do it; then he passed the blotting-paper quickly over the words, and
folded the letter.

"Channing," he said, speaking very hastily, "you will see a twenty-pound
bank-note on my desk, and the directed envelope of this letter; bring
them here."

Arthur went, and brought forth the envelope and bank-note. Mr. Galloway
doubled the note in four and slipped it between the folds of the letter,
putting both into the envelope. He had fastened it down, when a loud
noise and commotion was heard in the street. Curious as are said to be
antiquated maidens, Mr. Galloway rushed to the window and threw it up,
his two clerks attending in his wake.

Something very fine, in a white dress, and pink and scarlet flowers on
her bonnetless head, as if attired for an evening party, was whirling
round the middle of the road in circles: a tall woman, who must once
have been beautiful. She appeared to be whirling someone else with her,
amid laughter and shrieks, and cries and groans, from the gathering mob.

"It is Mad Nance!" uttered Mr. Galloway. "Poor thing! she really ought
to be in confinement."

So every one had said for a long time, but no one bestirred themselves
to place her in it. This unfortunate creature, Mad Nance, as she was
called, was sufficiently harmless to be at large on sufferance, and
sufficiently mad at times to put a street in an uproar. In her least
sane moments she would appear, as now, in an old dimity white dress,
scrupulously washed and ironed, and decorated with innumerable frills;
some natural flowers, generally wild ones, in her hair. Dandelions were
her favourites; she would make them into a wreath, and fasten it on,
letting her entangled hair hang beneath. To-day she had contrived to
pick up some geranium blossoms, scarlet and pink.

"Who has she got hold of there?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway. "He does not
seem to like it."

Arthur burst into laughter when he discovered that it was Harper,
the lay-clerk. This unlucky gentleman, who had been quietly and
inoffensively proceeding up Close Street on his way to service in the
cathedral, was seized upon by Mad Nance by the hands. He was a thin,
weak little man, a very reed in her strong grasp. She shrieked, she
laughed, she danced, she flew with him round and round. He shrieked
also; his hat was off, his wig was gone; and it was half the business of
Mr. Harper's life to make that wig appear as his own hair. He talked,
he raved, he remonstrated; I am very much afraid that he swore. Mr.
Galloway laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks.

The crowd was parted by an authoritative hand, and the same hand, gentle
now, laid its firmness upon the woman and released the prisoner. It was
Hamish Channing who had come to the rescue, suppressing his mirth as he
best could while he effected it.

"I'll have the law of her!" panted Harper, as he picked up his hat and
wig. "If there's justice to be got in Helstonleigh, she shall suffer
for this! It's a town's shame to let her go about, molesting peaceable
wayfarers, and shaking the life out of them!"

Something at a distance appeared to attract the attention of the unhappy
woman, and she flew away. Hamish and Mr. Harper were left alone in the
streets, the latter still exploding with wrath, and vowing all sorts of
revenge.

"Put up with it quietly, Harper," advised Hamish. "She is like a little
child, not accountable for her actions."

"That's just like you, Mr. Hamish Channing. If they took your head off,
you'd put up with it! How would you like your wig flung away in the
sight of a whole street?"

"I don't wear one," answered Hamish, laughing. "Here's your hat; not
much damaged, apparently."

Mr. Harper, settling his wig on his head, and composing himself as he
best could, continued his way to the cathedral, turning his hat about
in his hand, and closely looking at it. Hamish stepped across to Mr.
Galloway's, meeting that gentleman at the door.

"A good thing you came up as you did, Mr. Hamish. Harper will remember
Mad Nance for a year to come."

"I expect he will," replied Hamish, laughing still. Mr. Galloway laughed
also, and walked hastily down the street.



CHAPTER XIV.


KEEPING OFFICE.

Hamish entered the office. Arthur and Roland Yorke had their heads
stretched out of the window, and did not hear his footsteps. He advanced
quietly and brought his hands down hastily upon the shoulder of each.
Roland started, and knocked his head against the window-frame.

"How you startle a fellow! I thought it was Mad Nance come in to lay
hands upon me."

"She has laid hands upon enough for one day," said Hamish. "Harper will
dream of her to-night."

"I thought Galloway would have gone into a fit, he laughed so," cried
Arthur. "As for my sides, they'll ache for an hour."

Roland Yorke's lip curled with an angry expression. "My opinion agrees
with Harper's," he said. "I think Mad Nance ought to be punished. We are
none of us safe from her, if this is to be her game."

"If you punish her to-day, she would do the same again to-morrow, were
the fit to come over her," rejoined Hamish. "It is not often she breaks
out like this. The only thing is to steer clear of her."

"Hamish has a fellow-feeling for Mad Nance," mockingly spoke Roland
Yorke.

"Yes, poor thing! for her story is a sad one. If the same grievous wrong
were worked upon some of us, perhaps we might take to dancing for the
benefit of the public. Talking of the public, Arthur," continued Hamish,
turning to his brother, "what became of you at dinner-time? The mother
was for setting the town-crier to work."

"I could not get home to-day. We have had double work to do, as Jenkins
is away."

Hamish tilted himself on to the edge of Mr. Jenkins's desk, and took up
the letter, apparently in absence of mind, which Mr. Galloway had left
there, ready for the post. "Mr. Robert Galloway, Sea View Terrace,
Ventnor, Isle of Wight," he read aloud. "That must be Mr. Galloway's
cousin," he remarked: "the one who has run through so much money."

"Of course it is," answered Roland Yorke. "Galloway pretty near keeps
him: I know there's a twenty-pound bank-note going to him in that
letter. Catch me doing it if I were Galloway."

"I wish it was going into my pocket instead," said Hamish, balancing the
letter on his fingers, as if wishing to test its weight.

"I wish the clouds would drop sovereigns! But they don't," said Roland
Yorke.

Hamish put the letter back from whence he had taken it, and jumped off
the desk. "I must be walking," said he. "Stopping here will not do my
work. If we--"

"By Jove! there's Knivett!" uttered Roland Yorke. "Where's he off to, so
fast? I have something that I must tell him."

Snatching up his hat, Roland darted at full speed out of the office, in
search of one who was running at full speed also down the street. Hamish
looked out, amused, at the chase; Arthur, who had called after Roland
in vain, seemed vexed. "Knivett is one of the fleetest runners in
Helstonleigh," said Hamish. "Yorke will scarcely catch him up."

"I wish Yorke would allow himself a little thought, and not act upon
impulse," exclaimed Arthur. "I cannot stop three minutes longer: and he
knows that! I shall be late for college."

He was already preparing to go there. Putting some papers in order upon
his desk, and locking up others, he carried the letter for Ventnor
into Mr. Galloway's private room and placed it in the letter rack. Two
others, ready for the post, were lying there. Then he went to the front
door to look out for Yorke. Yorke was not to be seen.

"What a thoughtless fellow he is!" exclaimed Arthur, in his vexation.
"What is to be done? Hamish, you will have to stop here."

"Thank you! what else?" asked Hamish.

"I must be at the college, whatever betide." This was true: yet neither
might the office be left vacant. Arthur grew a little flurried. "Do
stay, Hamish: it will not hinder you five minutes, I dare say. Yorke is
sure to be in."

Hamish came to the door, halting on its first step, and looking out over
Arthur's shoulder. He drew his head in again with a sudden movement.

"Is not that old Hopper down there?" he asked, in a whisper, the tone
sounding as one of fear.

Arthur turned his eyes on a shabby old man who was crossing the end of
the street, and saw Hopper, the sheriff's officer. "Yes, why?"

"It is that old fellow who holds the writ. He may be on the watch for
me now. I can't go out just yet, Arthur; I'll stay here till Yorke comes
back again."

He returned to the office, sat down and leaned his brow upon his hand.
A strange brow of care it was just then, according ill with the gay
face of Hamish Channing. Arthur, waiting for no second permission, flew
towards the cathedral as fast as his long legs would carry him. The dean
and chapter were preparing to leave the chapter-house as he tore past
it, through the cloisters. Three o'clock was striking. Arthur's heart
and breath were alike panting when he gained the dark stairs. At that
moment, to his excessive astonishment, the organ began to peal forth.

Seated at it was Mr. Williams; and a few words of explanation ensued.
The organist said he should remain for the service, which rendered
Arthur at liberty to go back again.

He was retracing his steps underneath the elm-trees in the Boundaries
at a slower pace than he had recently passed them, when, in turning a
corner, he came face to face with the sheriff's officer. Arthur, whose
thoughts were at that moment fixed upon Hamish and his difficulties,
started away from the man, with an impulse for which he could not have
accounted.

"No need for you to be frightened of me, Mr. Arthur," said the man, who,
in his more palmy days, before he had learnt to take more than was good
for him, had been a clerk in Mr. Channing's office. "I have nothing
about me that will bite you."

He laid a stress upon the "you" in both cases. Arthur understood only
too well what was meant, though he would not appear to do so.

"Nor any one else, either, I hope, Hopper. A warm day, is it not!"

Hopper drew close to Arthur, not looking at him, apparently examining
with hands and eyes the trunk of the elm-tree underneath which they had
halted. "You tell your brother not to put himself in my way," said he,
in a low tone, his lips scarcely moving. "He is in a bit of trouble, as
I suppose you know."

"Yes," breathed Arthur.

"Well, I don't want to serve the writ upon him; I won't serve it unless
he makes me, by throwing himself within length of my arm. If he sees me
coming up one street, let him cut down another; into a shop; anywhere; I
have eyes that only see when I want them to. I come prowling about here
once or twice a day for show, but I come at a time when I am pretty sure
he can't be seen; just gone out, or just gone in. I'd rather not harm
him."

"You are not so considerate to all," said Arthur, after a pause given to
revolving the words, and to wondering whether they were spoken in good
faith, or with some concealed purpose. He could not decide which.

"No, I am not," pointedly returned Hopper, in answer. "There are some
that I look after, sharp as a ferret looks after a rat, but I'll never
do that by any son of Mr. Channing's. I can't forget the old days,
sir, when your father was kind to me. He stood by me longer than my own
friends did. But for him, I should have starved in that long illness
I had, when the office would have me no longer. Why doesn't Mr. Hamish
settle this?" he abruptly added.

"I suppose he cannot," answered Arthur.

"It is only a bagatelle at the worst, and our folks would not have gone
to extremities if he had shown only a disposition to settle. I am sure
that if he would go to them now, and pay down a ten-pound note, and say,
'You shall have the rest as I can get it,' they'd withdraw proceedings;
ay, even for five pounds I believe they would. Tell him to do it,
Mr. Arthur; tell him I always know which way the wind blows with our
people."

"I will tell him, but I fear he is very short of money just now. Five
or ten pounds may be as impossible to find, sometimes, as five or ten
thousand."

"Better find it than be locked up," said Hopper. "How would the office
get on? Deprive him of the power of management, and it might cost Mr.
Channing his place. What use is a man when he is in prison? I was in Mr.
Channing's office for ten years, Mr. Arthur, and I know every trick and
turn in it, though I have left it a good while. And now that I have just
said this, I'll go on my way. Mind you tell him."

"Thank you," warmly replied Arthur.

"And when you have told him, please to forget that you have heard it.
There's somebody's eyes peering at me over the deanery blinds. They
may peer! I don't mind them; deaneries don't trouble themselves with
sheriff's officers."

He glided away, and Arthur went straight to the office. Hamish was
alone; he was seated at Jenkins's desk, writing a note.

"You here still, Hamish! Where's Yorke?"

"Echo answers where," replied Hamish, who appeared to have recovered his
full flow of spirits. "I have seen nothing of him."

"That's Yorke all over! it is too bad."

"It would be, were this a busy afternoon with me. But what brings you
back, Mr. Arthur? Have you left the organ to play itself?"

"Williams is taking it; he heard of Jenkins's accident, and thought
I might not be able to get away from the office twice today, so he
attended himself."

"Come, that's good-natured of Williams! A bargain's a bargain, and,
having made the bargain, of course it is your own look-out that you
fulfil it. Yes, it was considerate of Williams."

"Considerate for himself," laughed Arthur. "He did not come down to
give me holiday, but in the fear that Mr. Galloway might prevent my
attending. 'A pretty thing it would have been,' he said to me, 'had
there been no organist this afternoon; it might have cost me my post.'"

"Moonshine!" said Hamish. "It might have cost him a word of reproof;
nothing more."

"Helstonleigh's dean is a strict one, remember. I told Williams he might
always depend upon me."

"What should you have done, pray, had I not been here to turn
office-keeper?" laughed Hamish.

"Of the two duties I must have obeyed the more important one. I should
have locked up the office and given the key to the housekeeper till
college was over, or until Yorke returned. He deserves something for
this move. Has any one called?"

"No. Arthur, I have been making free with a sheet of paper and an
envelope," said Hamish, completing the note he was writing. "I suppose I
am welcome to it?"

"To ten, if you want them," returned Arthur. "To whom are you writing?"

"As if I should put you _au courant_ of my love-letters!" gaily answered
Hamish.

How could Hamish indulge in this careless gaiety with a sword hanging
over his head? It was verily a puzzle to Arthur. A light, sunny nature
was Hamish Channing's. This sobering blow which had fallen on it had
probably not come before it was needed. Had his bark been sailing for
ever in smooth waters, he might have wasted his life, indolently basking
on the calm, seductive waves. But the storm rose, the waves ran high,
threatening to engulf him, and Hamish knew that his best energies must
be put forth to surmount them. Never, never talk of troubles as great,
unmitigated evils: to the God-fearing, the God-trusting, they are
fraught with hidden love.

"Hamish, were I threatened with worry, as you are, I could not be
otherwise than oppressed and serious."

"Where would be the use of that?" cried gay Hamish. "Care killed a cat.
Look here, Arthur, you and your grave face! Did you ever know care do
a fellow good? I never did: but a great deal of harm. I shall manage to
scramble out of the pit somehow. You'll see." He put the note into his
pocket, as he spoke, and took up his hat to depart.

"Stop an instant longer, Hamish. I have just met Hopper."

"He did not convert you into a writ-server, I hope. I don't think it
would be legal."

"There you are, joking again! Hamish, he has the writ, but he does not
wish to serve it. You are to keep out of his way, he says, and he will
not seek to put himself in yours. My father was kind to him in days gone
by, and he remembers it now."

"He's a regular trump! I'll send him half-a-crown in a parcel,"
exclaimed Hamish.

"I wish you would hear me out. He says a ten-pound note, perhaps a
five-pound note, on account, would induce 'his people'--suppose you
understand the phrase--to stay proceedings, and to give you time. He
strongly advises it to be done. That's all."

Not only all Arthur had to say upon the point, but all he had time to
say. At that moment, the barouche of Lady Augusta Yorke drove up to the
door, and they both went out to it. Lady Augusta, her daughter Fanny,
and Constance Channing were in it. She was on her way to attend a
missionary meeting at the Guildhall, and had called for Roland, that he
might escort her into the room.

"Roland is not to be found, Lady Augusta," said Hamish, raising his hat
with one of his sunny smiles. "He darted off, it is impossible to
say where, thereby making me a prisoner. My brother had to attend the
cathedral, and there was no one to keep office."

"Then I think I must make a prisoner of you in turn, Mr. Hamish
Channing," graciously said Lady Augusta. "Will you accompany us?"

Hamish shook his head. "I wish I could; but I have already wasted more
time than I ought to have done."

"It will not cost you five minutes more," urged Lady Augusta. "You shall
only just take us into the hall; I will release you then, if you must
be released. Three ladies never can go in alone--fancy how we should be
stared at!"

Constance bent her pretty face forward. "Do, Hamish, if you can!"

He suffered himself to be persuaded, stepped into the barouche, and
took his seat by Lady Augusta. As they drove away, Arthur thought
the greatest ornament the carriage contained had been added to it in
handsome Hamish.

A full hour Arthur worked on at his deeds and leases, and Roland Yorke
never returned. Mr. Galloway came in then. "Where's Yorke?" was his
first question.

Arthur replied that he did not know; he had "stepped out" somewhere.
Arthur Channing was not one to make mischief, or get another into
trouble. Mr. Galloway asked no further; he probably inferred that Yorke
had only just gone. He sat down at Jenkins's desk, and began to read
over a lease.

"Can I have the stamps, sir, for this deed?" Arthur presently asked.

"They are not ready. Have the letters gone to the post?"

"Not yet, sir."

"You can take them now, then. And, Arthur, suppose you step in, as you
return, and see how Jenkins is."

"Very well, sir." He went into Mr. Galloway's room, and brought forth
the three letters from the rack. "Is this one not to be sealed?" he
inquired of Mr. Galloway, indicating the one directed to Ventnor, for
it was Mr. Galloway's invariable custom to seal letters which contained
money, after they had been gummed down. "It is doubly safe," he would
say.

"Ay, to be sure," replied Mr. Galloway. "I went off in a hurry, and did
not do it. Bring me the wax."

Arthur handed him the wax and a light. Mr. Galloway sealed the letter,
stamping it with the seal hanging to his watch-chain. He then held out
his hand for another of the letters, and sealed that. "And this one
also?" inquired Arthur, holding out the third.

"No. You can take them now."

Arthur departed. A few paces from the door he met Roland Yorke, coming
along in a white heat.

"Channing, I could not help it--I could not, upon my honour. I had to
go somewhere with Knivett, and we were kept till now. Galloway's in an
awful rage, I suppose?"

"He has only just come in. You had no right to play me this trick,
Yorke. But for Hamish, I must have locked up the office. Don't you do it
again, or Mr. Galloway may hear of it."

"It is all owing to that confounded Jenkins!" flashed Roland. "Why did
he go and get his head smashed? You are a good fellow, Arthur. I'll do
you a neighbourly turn, some time."

He sped into the office, and Arthur walked to the post with the letters.
Coming back, he turned into Mrs. Jenkins's shop in the High Street.

Mrs. Jenkins was behind the counter. "Oh, go up! go up and see him!"
she cried, in a tone of suppressed passion. "His bedroom's front, up
the two-pair flight, and I'll take my affidavit that there's been fifty
folks here this day to see him, if there has been one. I could sow a
peck of peas on the stairs! You'll find other company up there."

Arthur groped his way up the stairs; they were dark too, coming in from
the sunshine. He found the room, and entered. Jenkins lay in bed,
his bandaged head upon the pillow; and, seated by his side, his apron
falling, and his clerical hat held between his knees, was the Bishop of
Helstonleigh.



CHAPTER XV.


A SPLASH IN THE RIVER.

Amongst other facts, patent to common and uncommon sense, is the very
obvious one that a man cannot be in two places at once. In like manner,
no author, that I ever heard of, was able to relate two different
portions of his narrative at one and the same time. Thus you will
readily understand, that if I devoted the last chapter to Mr. Galloway,
his clerks and their concerns generally, it could not be given to Mr.
Ketch and _his_ concerns; although in the strict, order of time and
sequence, the latter gentleman might have claimed an equal, if not a
premier right.

Mr. Ketch stood in his lodge, leaning for support upon the shut-up
press-bedstead, which, by day, looked like a high chest of drawers with
brass handles, his eyes fixed on the keys, hanging on the opposite nail.
His state of mind may be best expressed by the strong epithet, "savage."
Mr. Ketch had not a pleasant face at the best of times: it was yellow
and withered; and his small bright eyes were always dropping water; and
the two or three locks of hair, which he still possessed, were faded,
and stood out, solitary and stiff, after the manner of those pictures
you have seen of heathens who decorate their heads with upright tails.
At this moment his countenance looked particularly unpleasant.

Mr. Ketch had spent part of the night and the whole of this morning
revolving the previous evening's affair of the cloisters. The more he
thought of it, the less he liked it, and the surer grew his conviction
that the evil had been the work of his enemies, the college boys.

"It's as safe as day," he wrathfully soliloquized. "There be the right
keys," nodding to the two on the wall, "and there be the wrong ones,"
nodding towards an old knife-tray, into which he had angrily thrown
the rusty keys, upon entering his lodge last night, accompanied by the
crowd. "They meant to lock me up all night in the cloisters, the wicked
cannibals! I hope the dean'll expel 'em! I'll make my complaint to the
head-master, I will! Drat all college schools! there's never no good
done in 'em!"

"How are you this morning, Ketch?"

The salutation proceeded from Stephen Bywater, who, in the boisterous
manner peculiar to himself and his tribe, had flung open the door
without the ceremony of knocking.

"I'm none the better for seeing you," growled Ketch.

"You need not be uncivil," returned Bywater, with great suavity. "I am
only making a morning call upon you, after the fashion of gentlefolks;
the public delights to pay respect to its officials, you know. How _do_
you feel after that mishap last night? We can't think, any of us, how
you came to make the mistake."

"I'll 'mistake' you!" shrieked Ketch. "I kep' a nasty old, rusty brace
o' keys in my lodge to take out, instead o' the right ones, didn't I?"

"How uncommonly stupid it was of you to do so!" said Bywater, pretending
to take the remark literally. "_I_ would not keep a duplicate pair of
keys by me--I should make sure they'd bring me to grief. What do you
say? You did _not_ keep duplicate keys--they were false ones! Why,
that's just what we all told you last night. The bishop told you so. He
said he knew you had made a mistake, and taken out the wrong keys for
the right. My belief is, that you went out without any keys at all. You
left them hanging upon the nail, and you found them there. You had not
got a second pair!"

"You just wait!" raved old Ketch. "I'm a-coming round to the
head-master, and I'll bring the keys with me. He'll let you boys know
whether there's two pairs, or one. Horrid old rusty things they be; as
rusty as you!"

"Who says they are rusty?"

"Who says it! They _are_ rusty!" shrieked the old man. "You'd like
to get me into a madhouse, you boys would, worrying me! I'll show you
whether they're rusty! I'll show you whether there's a second brace
o' keys or not. I'll show 'em to the head-master! I'll show 'em to the
dean! I'll show 'em again to his lordship the bi--What's gone of the
keys?"

The last sentence was uttered in a different tone and in apparent
perplexity. With shaking hands, excited by passion, Mr. Ketch was
rummaging the knife-box--an old, deep, mahogany tray, dark with age,
divided by a partition--rummaging for the rusty keys. He could not find
them. He searched on this side, he searched on that; he pulled out the
contents, one by one: a black-handled knife, a white-handled fork, a
green-handled knife with a broken point, and a brown-handled fork with
one prong, which comprised his household cutlery; a small whetstone,
a comb and a blacking-brush, a gimlet and a small hammer, some
leather shoe-strings, three or four tallow candles, a match-box and an
extinguisher, the key of his door, the bolt of his casement window, and
a few other miscellanies. He could not come upon the false keys, and,
finally, he made a snatch at the tray, and turned it upside down. The
keys were not there.

When he had fully taken in the fact--it cost him some little time to do
it--he turned his anger upon Bywater.

"You have took 'em, you have! you have turned thief, and stole 'em! I
put 'em here in the knife-box, and they are gone! What have you done
with 'em?"

"Come, that's good!" exclaimed Bywater, in too genuine a tone to admit a
suspicion of its truth. "I have not been near your knife-box; I have not
put my foot inside the door."

In point of fact, Bywater had not. He had stood outside, bending his
head and body inwards, his hands grasping either door-post.

"What's gone with 'em? who 'as took 'em off? I'll swear I put 'em
there, and I have never looked at 'em nor touched 'em since! There's an
infamous conspiracy forming against me! I'm going to be blowed up, like
Guy Fawkes!"

"If you did put them there--'_if_,' you know--some of your friends must
have taken them," cried Bywater, in a tone midway between reason and
irony.

"There haven't a soul been nigh the place," shrieked Ketch.

"Except the milk, and he gave me my ha'porth through the winder."

"Hurrah!" said Bywater, throwing up his trencher. "It's a clear case of
dreams. You dreamt you had a second pair of keys, Ketch, and couldn't
get rid of the impression on awaking. Mr. Ketch, D.H., Dreamer-in-chief
to Helstonleigh!"

Bywater commenced an aggravating dance. Ketch was aggravated
sufficiently without it. "What d'ye call me?" he asked, in a state of
concentrated temper that turned his face livid. "'D?' What d'ye mean by
'D?' D stands for that bad sperit as is too near to you college boys;
he's among you always, like a ranging lion. It's like your impedence to
call me by his name."

"My dear Mr. Ketch! call _you_ by his name! I never thought of such a
thing," politely retorted Bywater. "You are not promoted to that honour
yet. D.H., stands for Deputy-Hangman. Isn't it affixed to the cathedral
roll, kept amid the archives in the chapter-house"--John Ketch, D.H.,
porter to the cloisters! "I hope you don't omit the distinguishing
initials when you sign your letters?"

Ketch foamed. Bywater danced. The former could not find words. The
latter found plenty.

"I say, though, Mr. Calcraft, don't you make a similar mistake when you
are going on public duty. If you were to go _there_, dreaming you had
the right apparatus, and find, in the last moment, that you had brought
the wrong, you don't know what the consequences might be. The real
victim might escape, rescued by the enraged crowd, and they might put
the nightcap upon you, and operate upon you instead! So, be careful. We
couldn't afford to lose you. Only think, what a lot of money it would
cost to put the college into mourning!"

Ketch gave a great gasp of agony, threw an iron ladle at his tormentor,
which, falling short of its aim, came clanking down on the red-brick
floor, and banged the door in Bywater's face. Bywater withdrew to a
short distance, under cover of the cathedral wall, and bent his body
backwards and forwards with the violence of his laughter, unconscious
that the Bishop of Helstonleigh was standing near him, surveying
him with an exceedingly amused expression. His lordship had been an
ear-witness to part of the colloquy, very much to his edification.

"What is your mirth, Bywater?"

Bywater drew himself straight, and turned round as if he had been shot.
"I was only laughing, my lord," he said, touching his trencher.

"I see you were; you will lose your breath altogether some day, if
you laugh in that violent manner. What were you and Ketch quarrelling
about?"

"We were not quarrelling, my lord. I was only chaff--teasing him,"
rejoined Bywater, substituting one word for the other, as if fearing the
first might not altogether be suited to the bishop's ears; "and Ketch
fell into a passion."

"As he often does, I fear," remarked his lordship. "I fancy you boys
provoke him unjustifiably."

"My lord," said Bywater, turning his red, impudent, but honest face full
upon the prelate, "I don't deny that we do provoke him; but you can have
no idea what an awful tyrant he is to us. I can't believe any one was
ever born with such a cross-grained temper. He vents it upon every one:
not only upon the college boys, but upon all who come in his way. If
your lordship were not the bishop," added bold Bywater, "he would vent
it upon you."

"Would he?" said the bishop, who was a dear lover of candour, and would
have excused a whole bushel of mischief, rather than one little grain of
falsehood.

"Not a day passes, but he sets upon us with his tongue. He would keep
us out of the cloisters; he would keep us out of our own schoolroom. He
goes to the head-master with the most unfounded cram--stories, and when
the master declines to notice them (for he knows Ketch of old), then
he goes presumingly to the dean. If he let us alone, we should let
him alone. I am not speaking this in the light of a complaint to your
lordship," Bywater added, throwing his head back. "I don't want to get
him into a row, tyrant though he is; and the college boys can hold their
own against Ketch."

"I expect they can," significantly replied the bishop. "He would keep
you out of the cloisters, would he?"

"He is aiming at it," returned Bywater. "There never would have been
a word said about our playing there, but for him. If the dean shuts
us out, it will be Ketch's doings. The college boys have played in the
cloisters since the school was founded."

"He would keep you out of the cloisters; so, by way of retaliation,
you lock him into them--an uncomfortable place of abode for a night,
Bywater."

"My lord!" cried Bywater.

"Sir!" responded his lordship.

"Does your lordship think it was I who played that trick on Ketch?"

"Yes, I do--speaking of you conjointly with the school."

Bywater's eyes and his good-humoured countenance fell before the steady
gaze of the prelate. But in the gaze there was an earnest--if Bywater
could read it aright--of good feeling, of excuse for the mischief,
rather than of punishment in store. The boy's face was red enough at all
times, but it turned to scarlet now. If the bishop had before suspected
the share played in the affair by the college boys, it had by this time
been converted into a certainty.

"Boy," said he, "confess it if you like, be silent if you like; but do
not tell me a lie."

Bywater turned up his face again. His free, fearless eyes--free in the
cause of daring, but fearless in that of truth--looked straight into
those of the bishop. "I never do tell lies," he answered. "There's not
a boy in the school punished oftener than I am; and I don't say but I
generally deserve it! but it is never for telling a lie. If I did tell
them, I should slip out of many a scrape that I am punished for now."

The bishop could read truth as well as any one--better than many--and
he saw that it was being told to him now. "Which of you must be punished
for this trick as ringleader?" he asked.

"I, my lord, if any one must be," frankly avowed Bywater. "We should
have let him out at ten o'clock. We never meant to keep him there all
night. If I am punished, I hope your lordship will be so kind as allow
it to be put down to your own account, not to Ketch's. I should not like
it to be thought that I caught it for _him_. I heartily beg your
pardon, my lord, for having been so unfortunate as to include you in the
locking-up. We are all as sorry as can be, that it should have happened.
I am ready to take any punishment, for that, that you may order me."

"Ah!" said the bishop, "had you known that I was in the cloisters, your
friend Ketch would have come off scot free!"

"Yes, that he would, until--"

"Until what?" asked the bishop, for Bywater had brought his words to a
standstill.

"Until a more convenient night, I was going to say, my lord."

"Well, that's candid," said the bishop. "Bywater," he gravely added,
"you have spoken the truth to me freely. Had you equivocated in the
slightest degree, I should have punished you for the equivocation. As
it is, I shall look upon this as a confidential communication, and _not_
order you punishment. But we will not have any more tricks played at
locking up Ketch. You understand?"

"All right, my lord. Thank you a hundred times."

Bywater, touching his trencher, leaped off. The bishop turned to enter
his palace gates, which were close by, and encountered Ketch talking to
the head-master. The latter had been passing the lodge, when he was seen
and pounced upon by Ketch, who thought it a good opportunity to make his
complaint.

"I am as morally sure it was them, sir, as I am that I be alive." he was
saying when the bishop came up. "And I don't know who they has dealings
with; but, for certain, they have sperited away them rusty keys what did
the mischief, without so much as putting one o' their noses inside my
lodge. I placed 'em safe in the knife-box last night, and they're gone
this morning. I hope, sir, you'll punish them as they deserve. I am
nothing, of course. If they had locked me up, and kept me there till I
was worn to a skeleton, it might be thought light of; but his lordship,
the bishop"--bowing sideways to the prelate--"was a sufferer by their
wickedness."

"To be sure I was," said the bishop, in a grave tone, but with a twinkle
in his eye; "and therefore the complaint to Mr. Pye must be preferred by
me, Ketch. We will talk of it when I have leisure," he added to Mr. Pye,
with a pleasant nod, as he went through the palace gates.

The head-master bowed to the bishop, and walked away, leaving Ketch on
the growl.

Meanwhile, Bywater, flying through the cloisters, came upon Hurst, and
two or three more of the conspirators. The time was between nine and ten
o'clock. The boys had been home for breakfast after early school, and
were now reassembling, but they did not go into school until a quarter
before ten.

"He is such a glorious old trump, that bishop!" burst forth Bywater. "He
knows all about it, and is not going to put us up for punishment. Let's
cut round to the palace gates and cheer him."

"Knows that it was us!" echoed the startled boys. "How did it come out
to him?" asked Hurst.

"He guessed it, I think," said Bywater, "and he taxed me with it. So I
couldn't help myself, and told him I'd take the punishment; and he said
he'd excuse us, but there was to be no locking up of Mr. Calcraft again.
I'd lay a hundred guineas the bishop went in for scrapes himself, when
he was a boy!" emphatically added Bywater. "I'll be bound he thinks we
only served the fellow right. Hurrah for the bishop!"

"Hurrah for the bishop!" shouted Hurst, with the other chorus of voices.
"Long life to him! He's made of the right sort of stuff! I say, though,
Jenkins is the worst," added Hurst, his note changing. "My father says
he doesn't know but what brain fever will come on."

"Moonshine!" laughed the boys.

"Upon my word and honour, it is not. He pitched right upon his head; it
might have cost him his life had he fallen upon the edge of the stone
step, but they think he alighted flat. My father was round with him this
morning at six o'clock."

"Does your father know about it?"

"Not he. What next?" cried Hurst. "Should I stand before him, and take
my trencher off, with a bow, and say, 'If you please, sir, it was the
college boys who served out old Ketch!' That would be a nice joke! He
said, at breakfast, this morning, that that fumbling old Ketch must have
got hold of the wrong keys. 'Of course, sir!' answered I."

"Oh, what do you think, though!" interrupted Bywater. "Ketch can't find
the keys. He put them into a knife-box, he says, and this morning they
are gone. He intended to take them round to Pye, and I left him going
rampant over the loss. Didn't I chaff him?"

Hurst laughed. He unbuttoned the pocket of his trousers, and partially
exhibited two rusty keys. "I was not going to leave them to Ketch for
witnesses," said he. "I saw him throw them into the tray last night, and
I walked them out again, while he was talking to the crowd."

"I say, Hurst, don't be such a ninny as to keep them about you!"
exclaimed Berkeley, in a fright. "Suppose Pye should go in for a search
this morning, and visit our pockets? You'd floor us at once!"

"The truth is, I don't know where to put them," ingenuously acknowledged
Hurst. "If I hid them at home, they'd be found; if I dropped them in the
street, some hullaballoo might arise from it."

"Let's carry them back to the old-iron shop, and get the fellow to buy
them back at half-price!"

"Catch him doing that! Besides, the trick is sure to get wind in the
town; he might be capable of coming forward and declaring that we bought
the keys at his shop."

"Let's throw 'em down old Pye's well!"

"They'd come up again in the bucket, as ghosts do!"

"Couldn't we make a railway parcel of them, and direct it to 'Mr. Smith,
London?'"

"'Two pounds to pay; to be kept till called for,'" added Mark Galloway,
improving upon the suggestion. "They'd put it in their fire-proof safe,
and it would never come out again."

"Throw them into the river," said Stephen Bywater. "That's the only safe
place for them: they'd lie at the bottom for ever. We have time to do it
now. Come along."

Acting upon the impulse, as schoolboys usually do, they went galloping
out of the cloisters, running against the head-master, who was entering,
and nearly overturning his equilibrium. He gave them an angry word of
caution; they touched their caps in reply, and somewhat slackened their
speed, resuming the gallop when he was out of hearing.

Inclosing the cathedral and its precincts on the western side, was
a wall, built of red stone. It was only breast high, standing on the
cathedral side; but on the other side it descended several feet, to the
broad path which ran along the banks of the river. The boys made for
this wall and gained it, their faces hot, and their breath gone.

"Who'll pitch 'em in?" cried Hurst, who did not altogether relish being
chief actor himself, for windows looked on to that particular spot
from various angles and corners of the Boundaries. "You shall do it,
Galloway!"

"Oh shall I, though!" returned young Galloway, not relishing it either.

"You precious rebel! Take the keys, and do as I order you!"

Young Galloway was under Hurst. He no more dared to disobey him than he
could have disobeyed the head-master. Had Hurst ordered him to jump into
the river he must have done it. He took the keys tendered him by Hurst,
and was raising them for the pitch, when Bywater laid his hand upon them
and struck them down with a sudden movement, clutching them to him.

"You little wretch, you are as deaf as a donkey!" he uttered. "There's
somebody coming up. Turn your head, and look who it is."

It proved to be Fordham, the dean's servant. He was accidentally
passing. The boys did not fear him; nevertheless, it was only prudent to
remain still, until he had gone by. They stood, all five, leaning
upon the wall, soiling their waistcoats and jackets, in apparent
contemplation of the view beyond. A pleasant view! The river wound
peacefully between its green banks; meadows and cornfields were
stretched out beyond; while an opening afforded a glimpse of that lovely
chain of hills, and the white houses nestled at their base. A barge,
drawn by a horse, was appearing slowly from underneath the city bridge,
blue smoke ascending from its chimney. A woman on board was hanging
out linen to dry--a shirt, a pair of stockings, and a handkerchief--her
husband's change for the coming Sunday. A young girl was scraping
potatoes beside her; and a man, probably the husband, sat steering, his
pipe in his mouth. The boys fixed their eyes upon the boat.

"I shouldn't mind such a life as that fellow's yonder!" exclaimed young
Berkeley, who was fonder of idleness than he was of Latin. "I'll turn
bargeman when other trades fail. It must be rather jolly to sit steering
a boat all day, and do nothing but smoke."

"Fordham's gone, and be hanged to him! Now for it, Galloway!"

"Stop a bit," said Bywater. "They must be wrapped up, or else tied close
together. Better wrap them up, and then no matter who sees. They can't
swear there are keys inside. Who has any paper about him?"

One of the boys, Hall, had his exercise-book with him. They tore a sheet
or two out of it, and folded it round the keys, Hurst producing some
string. "I'll fling them in," said Bywater.

"Make haste, then, or we shall have to wait till the barge has gone by."

Bywater took a cautious look round, saw nobody, and flung the parcel
into the middle of the river. "_Rari nantes in gurgite vasto_!"
ejaculated he.

"Now, you gents, what be you throwing into the river?"

The words came from Hudson, the porter to the Boundaries, who appeared
to have sprung up from the ground. In reality, he had been standing on
the steps leading to the river, but the boat-house had hidden him from
their view. He was a very different man from the cloister porter; was
afraid of the college boys, rather than otherwise, and addressed them
individually as "sir." The keeper of the boat-house heard this, and came
up the steps.

"If you gentlemen have been throwing anything into the river you know
that it's against the rules."

"Don't bother!" returned Hurst, to the keeper.

"But you know it _is_ wrong, gentlemen," remonstrated the keeper. "What
was it you threw in? It made a dreadful splash."

"Ah! what was it?" coolly answered Hurst. "What should you say to a dead
cat? Hudson, have the goodness to mind _your_ business, unless you would
like to get reported for interfering with what does not concern you."

"There's a quarter to ten!" exclaimed Bywater, as the college clock
chimed the three-quarters. "We shall be marked late, every soul of us!"

They flew away, their feet scarcely touching the ground, clattered up
the schoolroom stairs, and took their places. Gaunt was only beginning
to call over the roll, and they escaped the "late" mark.

"It's better to be born lucky than rich," said saucy Bywater.



CHAPTER XVI.


MUCH TO ALTER.

At the same moment Constance Channing was traversing the Boundaries,
on her way to Lady Augusta Yorke's, where she had, some days since,
commenced her duties. It took her scarcely two minutes to get there,
for the houses were almost within view of each other. Constance would
willingly have commenced the daily routine at an earlier hour. Lady
Augusta freely confessed that to come earlier would be useless, for she
could not get her daughters up. Strictly speaking, Lady Augusta did not
personally try to get them up, for she generally lay in bed herself.

"That is one of the habits I must alter in the children," thought
Constance.

She entered, took off her things in the room appropriated to her, and
passed into the schoolroom. It was empty, though the children ought to
have been there, preparing their lessons. Fanny came running in, her
hair in curl-papers, some bread and butter in her hand.

"Carry has not finished her breakfast, Miss Channing," quoth she. "She
was lazy this morning!"

"I think some one else was lazy also," said Constance, gently drawing
the child to her. "Why did you come down half-dressed, my dear?"

"I am quite dressed," responded Fanny. "My frock's on, and so is my
pinafore."

"And these?" said Constance, touching the curl-papers.

"Oh, Martha got up late, and said she had no time to take them out. It
will keep in curl all the better, Miss Channing; and perhaps I am going
to the missionary meeting with mamma."

Constance rang the bell. Martha, who was the only maid kept, except the
cook, appeared in answer to it. Lady Augusta was wont to say that
she had too much expense with her boys to keep many servants; and the
argument was a true one.

"Be so kind as to take the papers out of Miss Fanny's hair. And let it
be done in future, Martha, before she comes to me."

Gently as the words were spoken, there was no mistaking that the tone
was one of authority, and not to be trifled with. Martha withdrew with
the child. And, just then, Caroline came in, full of eagerness.

"Miss Channing, mamma says she shall take one of us to the missionary
meeting, whichever you choose to fix upon. Mind you fix upon me! What
does that little chit, Fanny, want at a missionary meeting? She is too
young to go."

"It is expected to be a very interesting meeting," observed Constance,
making no reply to Miss Caroline's special request. "A gentleman who has
lived for some years amongst the poor heathens is to give a history of
his personal experiences. Some of the anecdotes are beautiful."

"Who told you they were?" asked Caroline.

"Mr. Yorke," replied Constance, a pretty blush rising to her cheek. "He
knows the lecturer well. You would be pleased to hear them."

"It is not for that I wish to go," said Caroline. "I think meetings,
where there's nothing but talking, are the dullest things in the world.
If I were to listen, it would send me to sleep."

"Then why do you wish so much to attend this one?"

"Because I shall wear my new dress. I have not had it on yet. It rained
last Sunday, and mamma would not let me put it on for college. I was in
such a passion."

Constance wondered where she should begin. There was so much to do;
so much to alter in so many ways. To set to work abruptly would never
answer. It must be commenced gradually, almost imperceptibly, little by
little.

"Caroline, do you know that you have disobeyed me?"

"In what way, Miss Channing?"

"Did I not request you to have that exercise written out?"

"I know," said Caroline, with some contrition. "I intended to write it
out this morning before you came; but somehow I lay in bed."

"If I were to come to you every morning at seven o'clock, would you
undertake to get up and be ready for me?" asked Constance.

Caroline drew a long face. She did not speak.

"My dear, you are fifteen."

"Well?" responded Caroline.

"And you must not feel hurt if I tell you that I should think no other
young lady of that age and in your position is half so deficient as you
are. Deficient in many ways, Caroline: in goodness, in thoughtfulness,
and in other desirable qualities; and greatly so in education. Annabel,
who is a year younger than you, is twice as advanced."

"Annabel says you worry her into learning."

"Annabel is fond of talking nonsense; but she is a good, loving child at
heart. You would be surprised at the little trouble she really gives me
while she makes a show of giving me a great deal. I have _so much_
to teach you, Caroline--to your mind and heart, as well as to your
intellect--that I feel the hours as at present arranged, will be
insufficient for me. My dear, when you grow up to womanhood, I am sure
you will wish to be loving and loved."

Caroline burst into tears. "I should do better if mamma were not so
cross with me, Miss Channing. I always do anything that William Yorke
asks me; and I will do anything for you."

Constance kissed her. "Then will you begin by rising early, and being
ready for me at seven?"

"Yes, I will," answered Caroline. "But Martha must be sure to call me.
Are you going to the meeting this afternoon?"

"Of course not," said Constance. "My time now belongs to you."

"But I think mamma wishes you to go with us. She said something about
it."

"Does she? I should very much like to go."

Lady Augusta came in and proffered the invitation to Constance to
accompany them. Constance then spoke of giving the children the extra
two hours, from seven to nine: it was really necessary, she said, if she
was to do her duty by them.

"How very conscientious you are!" laughed Lady Augusta, her tone
savouring of ridicule.

Constance coloured almost to tears with her emotion. "I am responsible
to One always, Lady Augusta. I may not make mine only eye-service."

"You will never put up with our scrambling breakfast, Miss Channing. The
boys are so unruly; and I do not get up to it half my time."

"I will return home to breakfast. I should prefer to do so. And I will
be here again at ten."

"Whatever time do you get up?"

"Not very early," answered Constance. "Hitherto I have risen at seven,
summer and winter. Dressing and reading takes me just an hour; for the
other hour I find plenty of occupation. We do not breakfast until nine,
on account of Tom and Charley. I shall rise at six now, and come here at
seven."

"Very well," said Lady Augusta. "I suppose this will only apply to
the summer months. One of the girls shall go with us to-day; whichever
deserves it best."

"You are not leaving one of them at home to make room for me, I hope,
Lady Augusta?"

"Not at all," answered Lady Augusta. "I never _chaperon_ two children
to a crowded meeting. People might say they took up the room of grown-up
persons."

"You will let me go--not Caroline, Miss Channing?" pleaded Fanny, when
her mother had quitted them.

"No," said Caroline, sharply; "Miss Channing will fix upon me."

"I shall obey Lady Augusta, and decide upon the one who shall best merit
it," smiled Constance. "It will be only right to do so."

"Suppose we are both good, and merit it equally?" suggested Fanny.

"Then, my dear little girl, you must not be disappointed if, in that
case, I give the privilege to Caroline, as being the elder of the two.
But I will make it up to you in some other way."

Alas for poor Caroline's resolution! For a short time, an hour or so,
she did strive to do her best; but then good resolutions were forgotten,
and idleness followed. Not only idleness, temper also. Never had she
been so troublesome to Constance as on this day; she even forgot herself
so far as to be insolent. Fanny was taken to the meeting--you saw her
in the carriage when Lady Augusta drove to Mr. Galloway's office, and
persuaded Hamish to join them--Caroline was left at home, in a state of
open rebellion, with the lessons to learn which she had _not_ learnt in
the day.

"How shall you get on with them, Constance?" the Rev. William Yorke
inquired of her that same evening. "Have the weeds destroyed the good
seed?"

"Not quite destroyed it," replied Constance, though she sighed sadly as
she spoke, as if nearly losing heart for the task she had undertaken.
"There is so much ill to undo. Caroline is the worst; the weeds, with
her, have had longer time to get ahead. I think, perhaps, if I could
keep her wholly with me for a twelvemonth or so, watching over her
constantly, a great deal might be effected."

"If that anticipated living would fall in, which seems very far away in
the clouds, and you were wholly mine, we might have Caroline with us for
a time," laughed Mr. Yorke.

Constance laughed too. "Do not be impatient, or it will seem to be
further off still. It will come, William."

They had been speaking in an undertone, standing together at a window,
apart from the rest. Mr. Channing was lying on his sofa underneath the
other window, and now spoke to Mr. Yorke.

"You had a treat, I hear, at the meeting to-day?"

"We had, indeed, sir," replied Mr. Yorke, advancing to take a seat near
him. "It is not often we have the privilege of listening to so eloquent
a speaker as Dr. Lamb. His experience is great, and his whole heart was
in his subject. I should like to bring him here to call upon you."

"I should be pleased to receive him," replied Mr. Channing.

"I think it is possible that his experience in another line may be of
service to you," continued Mr. Yorke. "You are aware that ill health
drove him home?"

"I have heard so."

"His complaint was rheumatism, very much, as I fancy, the same sort of
rheumatism that afflicts you. He told me he came to Europe with very
little hope: he feared his complaint had become chronic and incurable.
But he has been restored in a wonderful manner, and is in sound health
again."

"And what remedies did he use?" eagerly asked Mr. Channing.

"A three months' residence at some medicinal springs in Germany. Nothing
else. When I say nothing else, of course I must imply that he was under
medical treatment there. It is the very thing, you see, sir, that has
been ordered for you."

"Ay!" sighed Mr. Channing, feeling how very faint appeared to be the
hope that he should have the opportunity of trying it.

"I was mentioning your case to him," observed Mr. Yorke. "He said he had
no doubt the baths would do you equal good. He is a doctor, you know. I
will bring him here to talk it over with you."

At that moment Mr. Galloway entered: the subject was continued. Mr.
Yorke and Mr. Galloway were eloquent on it, telling Mr. Channing that he
_must_ go to Germany, as a point of duty. The Channings themselves were
silent; they could not see the way at all clear. When Mr. Yorke was
leaving, he beckoned Constance and Arthur into the hall.

"Mr. Channing must go," he whispered to them. "Think of all that is at
stake! Renewed health, exertion, happiness! Arthur, you did not urge it
by a single word."

Arthur did not feel hopeful; indeed his heart sank within him the whole
time that they were talking. Hamish and his difficulties were the dark
shadow; though he could not tell this to Mr. Yorke. Were Mr. Channing
to go abroad, and the arrest of Hamish to follow upon it, the post they
held, and its emoluments, might be taken from them at once and for ever.

"Dr. Lamb says the cost was so trifling as scarcely to be credited,"
continued Mr. Yorke in a tone of remonstrance. "Arthur, _don't_ you care
to help--to save him?"

"I would move heaven and earth to save my father!" impulsively spoke
Arthur, stung by the implied reproof. "I should not care what labour it
cost me to procure the money, so that I succeeded."

"We all would," said Constance; "you must know we would, William. From
Hamish downwards."

"Who is that, making free with Hamish's name?" demanded that gentleman
himself, entering the house with a free step and merry countenance. "Did
you think I was lost? I was seduced into joining your missionary-meeting
people, and have had to stop late at the office, to make up for it."

"We have been talking about papa, Hamish," said Constance. "Fresh
hope seems to arise daily that those German baths would restore him to
health. They cured Dr. Lamb."

"I say, Hamish, that the money must be found for it somehow," added Mr.
Yorke.

"Found! of course it shall be found," cried gay Hamish. "I intend to
be a chief contributor to it myself." But his joking words and careless
manner jarred at that moment upon the spirit both of Arthur and
Constance Channing.

Why? Could there have been any unconscious foreshadowing of evil to
come?



CHAPTER XVII.


SUNDAY MORNING AT MR. CHANNING'S, AND AT LADY AUGUSTA'S.

The day of rest came round in due course. A day of rest it is in truth
to those who have learnt to make it such; a pleasant time of peace; a
privileged season of commune with God; a loving day of social happiness
for home and home ties. And yet, strange to say, it is, to some, the
most hurried, uncomfortable, disagreeable day of all the seven.

Mrs. Channing's breakfast hour was nine o'clock on ordinary days, made
thus late for the sake of convenience. On Sundays it was half-past
eight. Discipline and training had rendered it easy to observe rules
at Mr. Channing's; or, it may be better to say, it had rendered
them difficult to be disobeyed. At half-past eight all were in the
breakfast-room, dressed for the day. When the hour for divine service
arrived, they had only to put on their hats and bonnets to be ready
for it. Even old Judy was grand on a Sunday morning. Her mob-cap was
of spotted, instead of plain net, and her check apron was replaced by a
white one.

With great personal inconvenience, and some pain--for he was always
worse in the morning--Mr. Channing would on that day rise to breakfast.
It had been his invariable custom to take the reading himself on
Sunday--the little time he devoted to religion--and he was unwilling to
break through it. Breakfast over, it was immediately entered upon, and
would be finished by ten o'clock. He did not preach a sermon; he did not
give them much reading; it was only a little homely preparation for the
day and the services they were about to enter upon. Very unwise had it
been of Mr. Channing, to tire his children with a private service before
the public service began.

Breakfast, on these mornings, was always a longer meal than usual. There
was no necessity to hurry over it, in order to hasten to the various
occupations of every-day life. It was taken leisurely, amidst much
pleasant, social converse.

As they were assembling for breakfast on this morning, Arthur came in.
It was so unusual for them to leave the house early on a Sunday, that
Mr. Channing looked at him with surprise.

"I have been to see Jenkins, sir," he explained. "In coming home last
night, I met Mr. Hurst, who told me he feared Jenkins was getting worse.
I would not go to see him then; it might have been late to disturb him,
so I have been now."

"And how is he?" inquired Mr. Channing.

"A great deal better," replied Arthur. "So much better that: Mr. Hurst
says he may come to the office to-morrow should there be no relapse. He
enjoins strict quiet for to-day. And Mrs. Jenkins is determined that he
shall have quiet; therefore I am sure, he will," Arthur added, laughing.
"She says he appeared ill last night only from the number of visitors he
had seen. They were coming in all day long; and on Friday besides."

"Why should people flock to see Jenkins?" exclaimed Tom. "He is nobody."

"That is just what Mrs. Jenkins said this morning," returned Arthur. "I
believe they go out of curiosity to hear the truth of the locking-up in
the cloisters. The bishop's having been one of the sufferers has aroused
the interest of Helstonleigh."

"I am very glad that Jenkins is better," observed Mr. Charming.

"So am I," emphatically answered Arthur. He was pretty sure Tom had had
no share in the exploit; but he did not know about Charley.

"The dean preaches to-day," suddenly called out Tom.

"How do you know?" demanded Annabel.

"Because I do," oracularly spoke Tom.

"Will you condescend to inform me how you know it, Tom, if you will not
inform Annabel?" asked Mr. Channing.

Tom laughed. "The dean began his close residence yesterday, papa.
Therefore we know he will preach to-day."

Mr. Channing sighed. He was debarred from attending the services, and he
felt the deprivation keenly when he found that any particularly eminent
man was to fill the cathedral pulpit. The dean of Helstonleigh was an
admirable preacher.

"Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Channing, in the uncontrollable impulse of the
moment, "if I could only regain health and strength!"

"It will come, James; God willing," said Mrs. Channing, looking up
hopefully from the cups she was filling. "What I have heard of Dr.
Lamb's restoration has put new confidence into me."

"I think Mr. Yorke intends to bring Dr. Lamb to see you this afternoon,
papa," said Constance.

"I shall be glad to see him; I shall be glad to hear the particulars
of his case and its cure," exclaimed Mr. Channing, with all conscious
eagerness. "Did Mr. Yorke tell you he should bring him to-day,
Constance?"

"Yes, papa. Dr. Lamb intends to be at the cathedral for afternoon
service, and Mr. Yorke said he would bring him here afterwards."

"You must get him to take tea with us, Mary."

"Certainly," answered Mrs. Channing. "In six months from this, James,
you may be as well and active as ever."

Mr. Channing raised his hands, as if warding off the words. Not of the
words was he afraid, but of the hopes they whispered. "I think too much
about it, already, Mary. It is not as though I were sure of getting to
the medicinal baths."

"We will take care that you do that, sir," said Hamish, with his sunny
smile.

"_You_ cannot help in it, you know, Hamish," interposed saucy Annabel.
"It will be Arthur and Constance who will help--not you. I heard you say
so!"

"But I have changed my mind, and intend to help," returned Hamish. "And,
if you will allow me the remark, young lady, I think it would better
become a certain little girl, not to chatter quite so much!"

Was Hamish speaking in jest, or earnest, with regard to the _helping_
point of the affair? A peculiar tone in his voice, in spite of its
lightness, had struck both Constance and Arthur, each being in the
secret of his more than want of funds.

The second bell was beginning to chime as the Channings entered the
cloister gates. Tom and Charles had gone on before. Panting, breathless,
almost knocking down Annabel, came Tod Yorke, terribly afraid of being
marked late.

"Take care, Tod!" exclaimed Hamish. "Are you running for a wager?"

"Don't keep me, Mr. Hamish Channing! Those incapable servants of ours
never called us till the bell began. I have had no breakfast, and Gerald
couldn't find his shirt. He has had to come off in his dirty one, with
his waistcoat buttoned up. Won't my lady be in a rage when she sees
him?"

Getting up and breakfasting were generally bustling affairs at Lady
Augusta's; but the confusion of every day was as nothing compared with
that of Sunday. Master Tod was wrong when he complained that he had not
been called. The servants had called both him and Gerald, who shared
the same room, but the young gentlemen had gone to sleep again. The
breakfast hour was the same as other mornings, nine o'clock; but, for
all the observance it obtained, it might as well have been nine at
night. To give the servants their due, breakfast, on this morning, was
on the table at nine--that is, the cloth, the cups and saucers: and
there it remained until ten. The maids meanwhile enjoyed their own
leisurely breakfast in the kitchen, regaling themselves with hot
coffee, poached eggs, buttered toast, and a dish of gossip. At ten, Lady
Augusta, who made a merit of always rising to breakfast on a Sunday,
entered the breakfast-room in a dirty morning wrapper, and rang the
bell.

"Is nobody down?" cried she, sharply.

"I think not, my lady," was Martha's reply. "I have not heard them. I
have been three times in the young ladies' room, but they would not get
up."

This was not quite true. Martha had been in _once_, and had been scolded
for her pains. "None of them ever will get up on a Sunday morning,"
added Martha; "they say, 'where's the good?'"

"Bring in breakfast," crossly responded Lady Augusta. "And then go to
the young ladies, and see whether the rest are getting up. What has the
cook been at with this coffee?" Lady Augusta added, when she began to
pour it out. "It is cold. Her coffee is always cold."

"It has been made half an hour, I know, my lady."

The first to appear was the youngest child of all, little Frank; the
next his brother, a year older; they wore dirty collars, and their hair
was uncombed. Then came the girls--Caroline without a frock, a shawl
thrown on, instead, and Fanny in curl papers. Lady Augusta scolded them
for their late appearance, forgetting, possibly, that she herself set
the example.

"It is not much past ten," said Caroline. "We shall be in time for
college."

"It is nearly upon half-past," replied Lady Augusta. "Why do you come
down in a petticoat, Caroline?"

"That stupid dressmaker has put no tape to my dress," fretfully
responded Caroline. "Martha is sewing it on."

Roland lounged in, not more presentable than the rest. Why had Lady
Augusta not brought them up to better habits? Why should they come down
on a Sunday morning more untidy than on other mornings? They would have
told you, had you asked the question, that on other mornings they
must be ready to hasten to their daily occupations. Had _Sunday_ no
occupation, then? Did it deserve no marked deference? Had I been Lady
Augusta Yorke, I should have said to Roland that morning, when I saw his
slip-shod slippers and his collarless neck, "If you can show no respect
for me, show it for the day."

Half-past ten struck, and Lady Augusta started up to fly to her own
room. She had still much to do, ere she could be presentable for
college. Caroline followed. Fanny wondered what Gerald and Tod would do.
Not yet down!

"Those boys will get a tanning, to-morrow, from old Pye!" exclaimed
Roland, remembering the time when "tannings" had been his portion for
the same fault. "Go and see what they are after, Martha."

They were "after" jumping up in alarm, aroused by the college bell.
Amidst wild confusion, for nothing seemed to be at hand, with harsh
reproaches to Martha, touching their shirts and socks, and other
articles of attire, they scrambled downstairs, somehow, and flew out
of the house on their way to the college schoolroom; Gerald drinking a
freshly made scalding cup of coffee; Tod cramming a thick piece of bread
and butter into his pocket, and trusting to some spare moment to eat it
in. All this was the usual scramble of Sunday morning. The Yorkes did
get to college, somehow, and there was an end of it.

After the conclusion of the service, as the congregation were
dispersing, Mr. Galloway came up to Arthur Channing in the cloisters,
and drew him aside.

"Do you recollect taking the letters to the post, on Friday afternoon?"
he inquired.

"On Friday?" mused Arthur, who could not at the moment recollect much
about that particular day's letters; it was he who generally posted
them for the office. "Oh yes, I do remember, sir," he replied, as the
relative circumstances flashed across him.

Mr. Galloway looked at him, possibly doubting whether he really did
remember. "How many letters were there for the post that afternoon?" he
asked.

"Three," promptly rejoined Arthur. "Two were for London, and one was for
Ventnor."

"Just so," assented Mr. Galloway. "Now, then, to whom did you intrust
the posting of those letters?"

"I did not intrust them to any one," replied Arthur; "I posted them
myself."

"You are sure?"

"Quite sure, sir," answered Arthur, in some surprise. But Mr. Galloway
said no more, and gave no reason for his inquiry. He turned into his own
house, which was situated near the cloister gates, and Arthur went on
home.

Had you been attending worship in Helstonleigh Cathedral that same
afternoon, you might have observed, as one of the congregation, a tall
stout man, with a dark, sallow face, and grey hair. He sat in a
stall near to the Reverend William Yorke, who was the chanter for the
afternoon. It was Dr. Lamb. A somewhat peculiar history was his. Brought
up to the medical profession, and taking his physician's degree
early, he went out to settle in New Zealand, where he had friends.
Circumstances brought him into frequent contact with the natives there.
A benevolent, thoughtful man, gifted with much Christian grace, the sad
spiritual state of these poor heathens gave the deepest concern to
Dr. Lamb. He did what he could for them in his leisure hours, but his
profession took up most of his time: often did he wish he had more
time at his command. A few years of hard work, and then the wish was
realized. A small patrimony was bequeathed him, sufficient to enable him
to live without work. From that time he applied himself to the arduous
duties of a missionary, and his labours were crowned with marked
success. Next came illness. He was attacked with rheumatism in the
joints; and after many useless remedies had been tried, he came home in
search of health, which he found, as you have heard, in certain German
spas.

Mr. Channing watched the clock eagerly. Unless it has been your portion,
my reader, to undergo long and apparently hopeless affliction, and to
find yourself at length unexpectedly told that there _may_ be a cure for
you; that another, afflicted in a similar manner, has been restored to
health by simple means, and will call upon you and describe to you what
they were--you could scarcely understand the nervous expectancy of Mr.
Channing on this afternoon. Four o'clock! they would soon be here now.

A very little time longer, and they were with him--his family, Mr.
Yorke, and Dr. Lamb. The chief subject of anxiety was soon entered upon,
Dr. Lamb describing his illness at great length.

"But were you as helpless as I am?" inquired Mr. Channing.

"Quite as helpless. I was carried on board, and carried to a bed at an
hotel when I reached England. From what I have heard of your case,
and from what you say, I should judge the nature of your malady to be
precisely similar to mine."

"And now tell me about the healing process."

Dr. Lamb paused. "You must promise to put faith in my prescription."

Mr. Channing raised his eyes in surprise. "Why should I not do so?"

"Because it will appear to you so very simple. I consulted a medical man
in London, one skilled in rheumatic cases, and he gave it as his opinion
that a month or two passed at one of the continental springs might
restore me. I laughed at him."

"You did not believe him?"

"I did not, indeed. Shall I confess to you that I felt _vexed_ with him?
There was I, a poor afflicted man, lying helpless, racked with pain;
and to be gravely assured that a short sojourn at a pleasant foreign
watering-place would, in all probability, _cure_ me, sounded very like
mockery. I knew something of the disease, its ordinary treatment, and
its various phases. It was true I had left Europe for many years, and
strange changes had been taking place in medical science. Still, I had
no faith in what he said, as being applicable to my own case; and for a
whole month, week after week, day after day, I declined to entertain his
views. I considered that it would be so much time and money wasted."

Dr. Lamb paused. Mr. Channing did not interrupt him.

"One Sunday evening, I was on my solitary sofa--lying in pain--as I can
see you are lying now. The bells were ringing out for evening service.
I lay thinking of my distressed condition; wishing I could be healed.
By-and-by, after the bells had ceased, and the worshippers had assembled
within the walls of the sanctuary, from which privilege I was excluded,
I took up my Bible. It opened at the fifth chapter of the second book of
Kings. I began to read, somewhat listlessly, I fear--listlessly, at any
rate, compared with the strange enthusiasm which grew upon me as I read,
'Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to
thee, and thou shalt be clean. And Naaman was wroth.... And his servants
spake unto him and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some
great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when
he saith unto thee, Wash, and be clean?'

"Mr. Channing," Dr. Lamb continued in a deeper tone, "the words sounded
in my ear, fell upon my heart, as a very message sent direct from God.
All the folly of my own obstinate disbelief came full upon me; the
scales seemed to fall from my eyes, and I said, 'Shall I not try that
simple thing?' A firm conviction that the chapter had been directed
to me that night as a warning, seated itself within me; and, from that
hour, I never entertained a shadow of doubt but that the baths would be
successful."

"And you journeyed to them?"

"Instantly. Within a week I was there. I seemed to _know_ that I was
going to my cure. You will not, probably, understand this."

"I understand it perfectly," was Mr. Channing's answer. "I believe that
a merciful Providence does vouchsafe, at rare times, to move us by these
direct interpositions. I need not ask you if you were cured. I have
heard that you were. I see you are. Can you tell me aught of the actual
means?"

"I was ordered to a small place in the neighbourhood of Aix-la-Chapelle;
a quiet, unpretending place, where there are ever-rising springs of
boiling, sulphuric water. The precise course of treatment I will come
in another day and describe to you. I had to drink a great deal of
the water, warm--six or eight half-pints of it a day; I had to bathe
regularly in this water; and I had to take what are called douche baths
every other day."

"I have heard of the douche baths," said Mr. Channing. "Rather fierce,
are they not?"

"Fierce!" echoed the doctor. "The first time I tried one, I thought I
should never come out alive. The water was dashed upon me, through a
tube, with what seemed alarming force until I grew used to it; whilst an
attendant rubbed and turned and twisted my limbs about, as if they had
been so many straws in his strong hand. So violent is the action of the
water that my face had to be protected by a board, lest it should come
into contact with it."

"Strong treatment!" remarked Mr. Channing.

"Strong, but effectual. Effectual, so far as my case was concerned.
Whether it was drinking the water, or the sulphur baths, the douches,
the pure air, or the Prussian doctor's medicine, or all combined, I was,
under God's goodness, restored to health. I entertain no doubt that you
may be restored in like manner."

"And the cost?" asked Mr. Channing, with a sigh he could not wholly
suppress.

"There's the beauty of it! the advantage to us poor folks, who possess
a shallow purse, and that only half filled," laughed Dr. Lamb. "Had it
been costly, _I_ could not have afforded it. These baths, mind you, are
in the hotel, which is the greatest possible accommodation to invalids;
the warm baths cost a franc each, the douche two francs, the water you
drink, nothing. The doctor's fee is four and sixpence, and you need not
consult him often. Ascertain the proper course, and go on with it."

"But the hotel expenses?"

"That cost me four shillings a day, everything included, except a trifle
for servants. Candles alone were extras, and I did not burn them very
much, for I was glad to go to bed early. Wine I do not take, or that
also would have been an extra. You could not live very much cheaper at
home."

"How I should like to go!" broke from the lips of Mr. Channing.

Hamish came forward. "You must go, my dear father! It shall be managed."

"You speak hopefully, Hamish."

Hamish smiled. "I feel so, sir."

"Do you feel so, also, my friend!" said Dr. Lamb, fervently. "Go forth
to the remedy as I did, in the full confidence that God can, and will,
send His blessing upon it."



CHAPTER XVIII.


MR. JENKINS ALIVE AGAIN.

The quiet of Sunday was over, and Helstonleigh awoke on the Monday
morning to the bustle of every-day life. Mr. Jenkins awoke, with others,
and got up--not Jenkins the old bedesman, but his son Joseph, who had
the grey mare for his wife. It was Mr. Jenkins's intention to resume his
occupation that day, with Mr. Hurst's and Mrs. Jenkins's permission: the
former he might have defied; the latter he dared not. However, he was on
the safe side, for both had accorded it.

Mrs. Jenkins was making breakfast in the small parlour behind her
hosiery shop, when her husband appeared. He looked all the worse for his
accident. Poor Joe was one whom a little illness told upon. Thin, pale,
and lantern-jawed at the best of times--indeed he was not infrequently
honoured with the nickname of "scare-crow"--he now looked thinner and
paler than ever. His tall, shadowy form seemed bent with the weakness
induced by lying a few days in bed; while his hair had been cut off in
three places at the top of his head, to give way to as many patches of
white plaster.

"A nice figure you'll cut in the office, to-day, with those ornaments on
your crown!" was Mrs. Jenkins's salutation.

"I am thinking to fold this broadly upon my head, and tie it under my
chin," said he, meekly, holding out a square, black silk handkerchief
which he had brought down in his hand.

"That would not hide the patch upon your forehead, stupid!" responded
Mrs. Jenkins. "I believe you must have bumped upon the edge of every
stair in the organ-loft, as you came down, to get so many wounds!" she
continued crossly. "If you ever do such a senseless trick again, you
shan't stir abroad without me or the maid at your back, to take care of
you; I promise you that!"

"I have combed my hair over the place on my forehead!" civilly replied
Mr. Jenkins. "I don't think it shows much."

"And made yourself look like an owl! I thought it was nothing less than
a stuffed owl coming in. Why can't you wear your hat? That would hide
your crown and your forehead too."

"I did think of that; and I dare say Mr. Galloway would allow me to do
it, and overlook the disrespect in consideration of the circumstances,"
answered Jenkins. "But then, I thought again, suppose the dean should
chance to come into the office to-day?--or any of the canons? There's no
telling but they may. I could not keep my hat on in their presence; and
I should not like to take it off, and expose the plasters."

"You'd frighten them away, if you did," said Mrs. Jenkins, dashing some
water into the teapot.

"Therefore," he added, when she had finished speaking, "I think it
will be better to put on this handkerchief. People do wear them, when
suffering from neuralgia, or from toothache."

"Law! wear it, if you like! what a fuss you make about nothing! If you
chose to go with your head wrapped up in a blanket, nobody would look at
you."

"Very true," meekly coughed Mr. Jenkins.

"What are you doing?" irascibly demanded Mrs. Jenkins, perceiving that
of two slices of bacon which she had put upon his plate, one had been
surreptitiously conveyed back to the dish.

"I am not hungry this morning. I cannot eat it."

"I say you shall eat it. What next? Do you think you are going to starve
yourself?"

"My appetite will come back to me in a morning or two," he deprecatingly
observed.

"It is back quite enough for that bacon," was the answer. "Come! I'll
have it eaten."

She ruled him in everything as she would a child; and, appetite or no
appetite, Mr. Jenkins had to obey. Then he prepared for his departure.
The black silk square was tied on, so as to cover the damages; the
hat was well drawn over the brows, and Mr. Jenkins started. When Mr.
Galloway entered his office that morning, which he did earlier than
usual, there sat Mr. Jenkins in his usual place, copying a lease.

He looked glad to see his old clerk. It is pleasant to welcome a
familiar face after an absence. "Are you sure you are equal to work,
Jenkins?"

"Quite so, sir, thank you. I had a little fever at first, and Mr. Hurst
was afraid of that; but it has quite subsided. Beyond being a trifle
sore on the head, and stiff at the elbows and one hip, I am quite myself
again."

"I was sorry to hear of the accident, Jenkins," Mr. Galloway resumed.

"I was as vexed at it as I could be, sir. When I first came to myself,
I hardly knew what damage was done; and the uncertainty of getting to
business, perhaps for weeks, did worry me much. I don't deny, too, that
I have been in a little pain. But oh, sir! it was worth happening! it
was indeed; only to experience the kindness and good fellowship that
have been shown me. I am sure half the town has been to see me, or to
ask after me."

"I hear you have had your share of visitors."

"The bishop himself came," said poor Jenkins, tears of gratitude rising
to his eyes in the intensity of his emotion. "He did, indeed, sir. He
came on the Friday, and groped his way up our dark stairs (for very dark
they are when Mr. Harper's sitting-room door is shut), and sat down by
my bedside, and chatted, just as plainly and familiarly as if he had
been no better than one of my own acquaintances. Mr. Arthur Channing
found him there when he came with your kind message, sir."

"So I heard," said Mr. Galloway. "You and the bishop were both in the
same boat. I cannot, for my part, get at the mystery of that locking-up
business."

"The bishop as good as said so, sir--that we had both been in it. I
was trying to express my acknowledgments to his lordship for his
condescension, apologizing for my plain bedroom, and the dark stairs,
and all that, and saying, as well as I knew how, that the like of me was
not worthy of a visit from him, when he laughed, in his affable way, and
said, 'We were both caught in the same trap, Jenkins. Had I been the one
to receive personal injury, I make no doubt that you would have come the
next day to inquire after me.' What a great thing it is, to be blessed
with a benevolent heart, like the Bishop of Helstonleigh's!"

Arthur Channing came in and interrupted the conversation. He was
settling to his occupation, when Mr. Galloway drew his attention; in an
abrupt and angry manner, as it struck Arthur.

"Channing, you told me, yesterday, that you posted that letter for
Ventnor on Friday."

"So I did, sir."

"It has been robbed."

"Robbed!" returned Arthur, in surprise, scarcely realizing immediately
the meaning of the word.

"You know that it contained money--a twenty-pound note. You saw me put
it in."

"Yes--I--know--that," hesitated Arthur.

"What are you stammering at?"

In good truth, Arthur could not have told, except that he hesitated in
surprise. He had cast his thoughts into the past, and was lost in them.

"The fact is, you did _not_ post the letters yourself," resumed Mr.
Galloway. "You gave them to somebody else to post, in a fit of idleness,
and the result is, that the letter was rifled, and I have lost twenty
pounds."

"Sir, I assure you, that I did post them myself," replied Arthur, with
firmness. "I went straight from this door to the post-office. In
coming back, I called on Jenkins"--turning to him--"as you bade me,
and afterwards I returned here. I mentioned to you, then, sir, that the
bishop was with Jenkins."

Mr. Jenkins glanced up from his desk, a streak of colour illumining his
thin cheek, half hidden by the black handkerchief. "I was just saying,
sir, to Mr. Galloway, that you found his lordship at my bedside," he
said to Arthur.

"Has the note been taken out of the letter, sir?" demanded Arthur. "Did
the letter reach its destination without it?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Galloway, in answer to both questions. "I had a
few lines from Mr. Robert Galloway yesterday morning, stating that the
letter had arrived, but no bank-note was enclosed in it. Now, where is
the note?"

"Where can it be?" reiterated Arthur. "The letter must have been opened
on the road. I declare to you, sir, that I put it myself into the
post-office."

"It is a crying shame for this civilized country, that one cannot send
a bank-note across the kingdom in a letter, but it must get taken out of
it!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, in his vexation. "The puzzle to me is, how
those letter-carriers happen just to pitch upon the right letters to
open--those letters that contain money!"

He went into his private room as he spoke, banging the door after him,
a sure symptom that his temper was not in a state of serenity, and not
hearing or seeing Roland Yorke, who had entered, and was wishing him
good morning.

"What's amiss? he seems in a tantrum," ejaculated Mr. Roland, with
his usual want of ceremony. "Hallo, Jenkins; is it really you? By the
accounts brought here, I thought you were not going to have a head on
your shoulders for six months to come. Glad to see you."

"Thank you, sir. I am thankful to say I have got pretty well over the
hurt."

"Roland," said Arthur, in a half-whisper, bringing his head close to
his friend's, as they leaned together over the desk, "you remember that
Ventnor letter, sent on Friday, with the money in it--"

"Ventnor letter!" interrupted Roland. "What Ventnor letter?"

"The one for Robert Galloway. Hamish was looking at it. It had a
twenty-pound note in it."

"For Ventnor, was it? I did not notice what place it was bound for.
That fellow, the cousin Galloway, changes his place of abode like the
Wandering Jew. What of the letter?"

"It has been robbed of the note."

"No!" uttered Roland.

"It has. The cousin says the letter reached him, but the note did not.
Mr. Galloway seems uncommonly put out. He accused me, at first, of not
taking it myself to the post. As if I should confide letters of value to
any one not worthy of trust!"

"Did you post it yourself?" asked Roland.

"Of course I did. When you were coming in, after playing truant on
Friday afternoon, I was then going. You might have seen the letters in
my hand."

Roland shook his head. "I was in too great a stew to notice letters, or
anything else. This will cure Galloway of sending bank-notes in letters.
Have the post-office people had news of the loss sent to them? They must
hunt up the thief."

"Mr. Galloway is sure to do all that's necessary," remarked Arthur.

"For my part, if I sent bank-notes across the country in letters, I
should expect them to be taken. I wonder at Galloway. He is cautious in
other things."

Others had wondered at Mr. Galloway, besides Roland Yorke. A man of
caution, generally, he yet persisted in the practice of enclosing
bank-notes in letters. Persons cognizant of this habit had remonstrated
with him; not his clerks--of course they had not presumed to do so.
Mr. Galloway, who liked his own way, had become somewhat testy upon the
point, and, not a week before the present time, had answered in a sort
of contradictory spirit that his money-letters had always gone safely
hitherto, and he made no doubt they always would go safely. The present
loss, therefore, coming as it were, to check his obstinacy, vexed him
more than it would otherwise have done. He did not care for the loss of
the money half so much as he did for the tacit reproof to himself.

"I wonder if Galloway took the number of the note?" cried Roland.
"Whether or not, though, it would not serve him much: bank-notes lost in
transit never come to light."

"Don't they, though!" retorted Arthur. "Look at the many convictions for
post-office robbery!"

"I do not suppose that one case in ten is tracked home," disputed
Roland. "They are regular thieves, those letter-carriers. But, then, the
fellows are paid so badly."

"Do not be so sweeping in your assertions, Roland Yorke," interposed Mr.
Galloway, coming forward from his own room. "How dare you so asperse
the letter-carriers? They are a hard-working, quiet, honest body of
men. Yes, sir; honest--I repeat it. Where one has yielded to temptation,
fingering what was not his own, hundreds rise superior to it, retaining
their integrity. I would advise you not to be so free with your tongue."

Not to be free with his tongue would have been hard to Roland.

"Lady Augusta was sending a box of camomile pills to some friend in
Ireland, the other day, sir, but it was never heard of again, after
she put it into the post-office, here," cried he to Mr. Galloway. "The
fellow who appropriated it no doubt thought he had a prize of jewels. I
should like to have seen his mortification when he opened the parcel
and found it contained pills! Lady Augusta said she hoped he had liver
complaint, and then they might be of service to him."

Mr. Galloway made no response. He had caught up a lease that was lying
on Jenkins's desk, and stood looking at it with no pleasant expression
of countenance. On went that undaunted Roland:

"The next thing Lady Augusta had occasion to send by post was a gold
cameo pin. It was enclosed in a pasteboard box, and, when packed, looked
just like the parcel of pills. I wrote PILLS on it, in great round
text-hand. That reached its destination safely enough, sir."

"More safely than you would, if it depended upon your pursuing your
business steadily," retorted Mr. Galloway to Roland. "Fill in that tithe
paper."

As Roland, with a suppressed yawn, and in his usual lazy manner, set
himself to work, there came a clatter at the office-door, and a man
entered in the uniform of a telegraphic official, bearing a despatch
in his hand. Mr. Galloway had then turned to his room, and Roland, ever
ready for anything but work, started up and received the packet from the
man.

"Where's it from?" asked he, in his curiosity.

"Southampton," replied the messenger.

"A telegram from Southampton, sir," announced Roland to Mr. Galloway.

The latter took the despatch, and opened it, directing Jenkins to sign
the paper. This done, the messenger departed. The words of the message
were few, but Mr. Galloway's eye was bending upon them sternly, and his
brow had knitted, as if in perplexity.

"Young gentlemen, you must look to this," he said, coming forward, and
standing before Roland and Arthur. "I find that the post-office is not
to blame for this loss; it must have occurred in this room, before the
letter went to the post-office."

They both looked up, both coloured, as if with inward consternation.
Thoughts, we all know, are quick as lightning: what was each thinking
of, that it should give rise to emotion? Arthur was the first to speak.

"Do you allude to the loss of the bank-note, sir?"

"What else should I allude to?" sharply answered Mr. Galloway.

"But the post-office must be cheeky to deny it off-hand!" flashed
Roland. "How is it possible that they can answer for the honesty of
every man whose hands that letter passed through?"

"Pray who told you they had denied it, Mr. Roland Yorke?" demanded his
master.

Roland felt a little checked. "I inferred it, sir."

"I dare say. Then allow me to tell you that they have not denied it.
And one very cogent reason why they have not, is, that they are not yet
cognizant of the loss. I do not jump at conclusions as you do, Roland
Yorke, and I thought it necessary to make a little private inquiry
before accusing the post-office, lest the post-office might not be in
fault, you know."

"Quite right, I have no doubt, sir," replied Roland, in a chafed accent,
for Mr. Galloway was speaking satirically, and Roland never liked to
have ridicule cast upon him. Like old Ketch, it affected his temper.

"By this communication," touching the telegraphic despatch, "I learn
that the letter was not opened after it left this office," resumed Mr.
Galloway. "Consequently, the note must have been abstracted from it
while the letter lay here. Who has been guilty of it?"

Neither Arthur nor Roland spoke. It was not a pleasant accusation--if
you can call it an accusation--and their faces deepened to scarlet;
while Mr. Jenkins looked up half terrified, and began to think, what
a mercy it was that he had broken his head, just that last particular
Thursday night, on the marble flags of the cathedral.



CHAPTER XIX.


THE LOSS.

When money is lost out of an office, suspicion very frequently falls
upon one or more of that office's _employés_. Mr. Galloway's doubts,
however, had not yet extended to those employed in his. The letter
containing the bank-note had been despatched to Mr. Robert Galloway, at
Ventnor, on the Friday. On the Sunday morning, while Mr. Galloway was at
breakfast, a short answer was delivered to him from his cousin:--"Your
letter has reached me, but not the note; you must have omitted to
enclose it," was the news it contained relative to that particular
point. Mr. Galloway knew that he had enclosed the note; there was little
doubt that both his clerks could testify that he had done so, for it was
done in their presence. How could it have been taken out again? Had it
been abstracted while the letter was still in his office?--or on its
way to the post?--or in its transmission to Ventnor? "If in the office,"
argued Mr. Galloway, "it must have been done before I sealed it; if
afterwards, that seal must have been tampered with, probably broken.
I'll drop a note to Robert, and ask the question." He rose from his
breakfast and penned a line to Southampton, where, as he had reason
to believe, Mr. Robert Galloway would be on the Monday. It was not Mr.
Galloway's habit to write letters on a Sunday, but he considered that
the present occasion justified the act. "I certainly enclosed the note
in my letter," he wrote. "Send me word instantly whether the seal had
been tampered with. I stamped it with my private seal." Mr. Robert
Galloway received this on the Monday morning. He did not wait for the
post, but forwarded the reply by telegraph--"The seal had not been
broken. Will send you back the envelope by first post." This was the
despatch which you saw Mr. Galloway receive in his office.

He went back into his private room, carrying the despatch with him, and
there he sat down to think. From the very first, he had not believed the
fraud to lie with the post-office--for this reason: had the note been
taken out by one of its servants, the letter would almost certainly not
have reached its destination; it would have disappeared with the note.
He had cast a doubt upon whether Arthur Channing had posted the letters
himself. Arthur assured him that he had done so, and Mr. Galloway
believed him; the information that the seal of the letter was unbroken
was now a further confirmation, had he needed it. At least, it confirmed
that the letter had not been opened after it left the office. Mr.
Galloway perfectly remembered fastening down the letter. He probably
would have sealed it then, but for the commotion that arose at the same
moment in the street caused by Mad Nance. There could be no shadow of
doubt, so far as Mr. Galloway could see, and so far as he believed, that
the abstraction had taken place between the time of his fastening down
the envelope and of his sealing it. Who had done it?

"I'll lay a guinea I know how it happened!" he exclaimed to himself.
"Channing was at college--I must have given him permission in a soft
moment to take that organ, or I should never have done it, quitting the
office daily!--and, Yorke, in his indolent carelessness, must have got
gossiping outside, leaving, it is hard to say who, in the office! This
comes of poor Jenkins's fall!"

Mr. Galloway rang his bell. It was answered by Jenkins. "Send Mr. Arthur
Channing in," said Mr. Galloway.

Arthur entered, in obedience. Mr. Galloway signed to him to close the
door, and then spoke.

"This is an awkward business, Channing."

"Very awkward, indeed, sir," replied Arthur, at no loss to understand
what Mr. Galloway alluded to. "I do not see that it was possible for
the note to have been taken from the letter, except in its transmission
through the post."

"I tell you it was taken from it before it left this office," tartly
returned Mr. Galloway. "I have my reasons for the assertion. Did you see
me put the bank-note into the letter?"

"Of course I did, sir. I was standing by when you did it: I remained by
you after bringing you the note from this room."

"I enclosed the note, and fastened down the envelope," said Mr.
Galloway, pointing the feather of his quill pen at each proposition. "I
did not seal it then, because looking at Mad Nance hindered me, and
I went out, leaving the letter on Jenkins's desk, in your charge and
Yorke's."

"Yes, sir. I placed the letter in the rack in your room, immediately
afterwards."

"And, pray, what loose acquaintances did you and Yorke receive here that
afternoon?"

"Not any," replied Arthur. "I do not know when the office has been so
free from callers. No person whatever entered it, except my brother
Hamish."

"That's all nonsense," said Mr. Galloway. "You are getting to speak as
incautiously as Yorke. How can you tell who came here when you were at
college? Yorke would be alone, then."

"No, Yorke was not," Arthur was beginning. But he stopped suddenly and
hesitated. He did not care to tell Mr. Galloway that Yorke had played
truant all that afternoon. Mr. Galloway saw his hesitation, and did not
like it.

"Come, what have you to conceal? You and Yorke held a levee here, I
suppose? That's the fact. You had so many fellows in here, gossiping,
that you don't know who may have meddled with the letter; and when you
were off to college, they stayed on with Yorke."

"No, sir. For one thing, I did not take the organ that afternoon. I
went, as usual, but Mr. Williams was there himself, so I came back at
once. I was only away about ten minutes."

"And how many did you find with Yorke?"

"Yorke stepped out to speak to some one just before I went to college,"
replied Arthur, obliged to allude to it, but determined to say as little
as possible. "Hamish was here, sir; you met him coming in as you were
going out, and I got him to stay in the office till I returned."

"Pretty doings!" retorted Mr. Galloway. "Hindering the time of Mr.
Hamish Channing, that you and Yorke may kick up your heels elsewhere!
Nice trustworthy clerks, both of you!"

"I was obliged to go to college, sir," said Arthur, in a tone of
deprecation.

"Was Yorke obliged to go out?"

"I was back again very shortly, I assure you, sir," said Arthur, passing
over the remark. "And I did not leave the office again until you sent me
to the post."

"Stop!" said Mr. Galloway; "let me clearly understand. As I went out,
Hamish came in. Then, you say, Yorke went out; and you, to get to
college, left Hamish keeping office! Did any one else come in besides
Hamish?"

"Not any one. When I returned from college I inquired of Hamish who had
called, and he said no one had called. Then Lady Augusta Yorke drove up,
and Hamish went away with her. She was going to the missionary meeting."

"And you persist in saying that no one came in, after that?"

"No one did come in, sir."

"Very well. Send Yorke to me."

Roland made his appearance, a pen behind his ear, and a ruler in his
hand.

"More show than work!" sarcastically exclaimed Mr. Galloway. "Now,
sir, I have been questioning Mr. Arthur Channing about this unpleasant
business, for I am determined to come to the bottom of it. I can get
nothing satisfactory from him; so I must try what I can do with
you. Have the goodness to tell me how you spent your time on Friday
afternoon."

"On Friday?--let's see," began Roland, out of his wits with perplexity
as to how he should conceal his afternoon's absence from Mr. Galloway.
"It's difficult to recollect what one does on one particular day more
than another, sir."

"Oh, indeed! Perhaps, to begin with, you can remember the circumstances
of my enclosing the bank-note in the letter, I went into the other room
to consult a 'Bradshaw'--"

"I remember that quite well, sir," interrupted Roland. "Channing fetched
the bank-note from this room, and you put it into the envelope. It was
just before we were all called to the window by Mad Nance."

"After that?" pursued Mr. Galloway.

"After that? I think, sir, you went out after that, and Hamish Channing
came in."

"Who else came in?"

"I don't remember any one else," answered Roland, wishing some one would
come in _then_, and stop the questioning. No such luck, however.

"How many people called in, while Channing was at college, and you were
keeping office?" demanded Mr. Galloway.

Roland fidgeted, first on one leg, then on the other. He felt that
it must all come out. "What a passion he'll go into with me!" thought
Roland. "It is certain that no one can have touched the bank-note in
this office, sir," he said aloud. "Those poor, half-starved postmen must
have helped themselves to it."

"When I ask for your opinion upon 'who has helped themselves to it,' it
will be time enough to give it me," returned Mr. Galloway, drily. "I
say that the money was taken from the letter before it left this office,
when it was under the charge of you and Channing."

"I hope you do not suspect us of taking it, sir!" said Roland, going
into a heat.

"I suspect that you have been guilty of negligence in some way, Mr.
Roland. Could the bank-note drop out of the letter of itself?"

"I suppose it could not, sir."

"Good! Then it is my business to ascertain, if I can, how it did get
out of it. You have not answered my question. Who came into this office,
while Channing was at the cathedral, on Friday afternoon?"

"I declare nobody ever had such luck as I," burst forth Roland, in
a tone half comic, half defiant, as he felt he must make a merit of
necessity, and confess. "If I get into the smallest scrape in the world,
it is safe to come out. The fact is, sir, I was not here, last Friday
afternoon, during Channing's hour for college."

"What! not at all?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, who had not suspected that
Yorke was absent so long.

"As I say, it's my luck to be found out!" grumbled Roland. "I can't
lift a finger to-day, if it ought not to be lifted, but it is known
to-morrow. I saw one of my chums going past the end of the street, sir,
and I ran after him. And I am sorry to say I was seduced into stopping
out with him longer than I ought to have done."

Mr. Galloway stared at Roland. "At what time did you go out?" he asked.

"Just after you did, sir. The bell was going for college."

"And pray what time did you come in again?"

"Well, sir, you saw me come in. It was getting on for five o'clock."

"Do you mean to say you had not been in at all, between those hours!"

"It was Knivett's fault," grumbled Roland. "He kept me."

Mr. Galloway sat drumming on his desk, apparently gazing at Roland; in
reality thinking. To hear that Mr. Roland Yorke had taken French leave
for nearly a whole afternoon, just on the especial afternoon that he
ought not to have taken it--Jenkins being away--did not surprise him in
the least; it was very much in the line of the Yorkes to do so. To scold
or punish Roland for it, would have been productive of little good,
since he was sure to do it again the very next time the temptation
offered itself. Failing temptation, he would remain at his post
steadily enough. No; it was not Roland's escapade that Mr. Galloway was
considering; but the very narrow radius that the affair of the letter
appeared to be drawing itself into. If Roland was absent, he could not
have had half the town in, to chatter; and if Arthur Channing asserted
that none had been in, Mr. Galloway could give credence to Arthur. But
then--how had the money disappeared? Who had taken it?

"Channing!" he called out, loudly and sharply.

Arthur, who was preparing to attend the cathedral, for the bell had rung
out, hastened in.

"How came you not to tell me when we were speaking of Roland Yorke's
absence, that he remained away all the afternoon?" questioned Mr.
Galloway.

Arthur was silent. He glanced once at Roland.

"Well?" cried Mr. Galloway.

"It was better for him to tell you himself, sir; as I conclude he has
now done."

"The fact is, you are two birds of a feather," stormed Mr. Galloway,
who, when once roused, which was not often, would say anything that came
uppermost, just or unjust. "The one won't tell tales of the other. If
the one set my office on fire, and then said it was the cat did it, the
other would stick to it. Is it true, sir, that he was not at the office
during my absence from it on Friday afternoon?" he continued to Arthur.

"That is true."

"Then who can have taken the money?" uttered Mr. Galloway, speaking what
was uppermost in his thoughts.

"Which is as much as to say that I took it," burst from haughty Roland.
"Mr. Galloway, I--"

"Keep quiet, Roland Yorke," interrupted that gentleman. "I do not
suspect you of taking it. I did suspect that you might have got some
idlers in here, _mauvais sujets_, you know, for you call plenty of them
friends; but, if you were absent yourself, that suspicion falls to the
ground. Again I say, who can have taken the money?"

"It is an utter impossibility that Yorke could have taken it, even were
he capable of such a thing," generously spoke Arthur. "From the time you
left the office yourself, sir, until after the letters were taken out of
it to be posted, he was away from it."

"Just like him!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway. "It must have been done while
your brother Hamish was waiting in the office. We must ascertain from
him who came in."

"He told me no one came in," repeated Arthur.

"Rubbish!" testily observed Mr. Galloway. "Some one must have come in;
some one with light fingers, too! the money could not go without hands.
You are off to college now, I suppose, Channing?"

"Yes, sir."

"When service is over, just go down as far as your brother's office, and
ask him about it."

"He is as obstinate as any old adder!" exclaimed Roland Yorke to Arthur,
when they left Mr. Galloway alone. "The only possible way in which it
can have gone, is through that post-office. The men have forked it; as
they did Lady Augusta's pills."

"He says it was not the post-office," mused Arthur. "He said--as I
understood--that the telegraphic despatch proved to him that it had been
taken out here."

"What an idiot you are!" ejaculated Roland. "How _could_ a despatch tell
him who took it, or who did not?--unless it was a despatch from those
spirit-rappers--mesmerists, or whatever they call themselves. They
profess to show you who your grandmother was, if you don't know!"

Roland laughed as he spoke. Arthur was not inclined for joking; the
affair perplexed him in no ordinary degree. "I wish Mr. Galloway would
mention his grounds for thinking the note was taken before it went to
the post!" he said.

"He ought to mention them," cried Roland fiercely. "He says he learns,
by the despatch, that the letter was not opened after it left this
office. Now, it is impossible that any despatch could tell him that. He
talks to me about broad assertions! That's a pretty broad one. What did
the despatch say? who sent it?"

"Would it afford you satisfaction to know, Mr. Roland?" and Roland
wheeled round with a start, for it was the voice of Mr. Galloway. He had
followed them into the front office, and caught the latter part of
the conversation. "Come, sir," he added, "I will teach you a lesson in
caution. When I have sealed letters that contained money after they were
previously fastened down with gum, I have seen you throw your head back,
Mr. Roland, with that favourite scornful movement of yours. 'As if gum
did not stick them fast enough!' you have said in your heart. But now,
the fact of my having sealed this letter in question, enables me to say
that the letter was not opened after it left my hands. The despatch
you are so curious about was from my cousin, telling me that the seal
reached him intact."

"I did not know the letter was sealed," remarked Roland. "But that
proves nothing, sir. They might melt the wax, and seal it up again.
Every one keeps a stamp of this sort," he added, stretching his hand out
for the seal usually used in the office--an ordinary cross-barred wafer
stamp.

"Ah," said Mr. Galloway, "you are very clever, Master Roland. But I
happened to stamp that letter with my own private seal."

"That alters the case, of course," said Roland, after a pause. "Sir, I
wish you would set me to work to find out," he impulsively continued.
"I'd go to the post-office, and--"

"And there make enough noise for ten, and defeat your own ends,"
interrupted Mr. Galloway. "Channing, you will be late. Do not forget to
see Hamish."

"Yes, I must be off," said Arthur, coming out of his reverie with a
start. He had waited to hear about the seal. And now flew towards the
cathedral.

"I wish it had not happened!" he ejaculated. "I know Galloway does not
suspect me or Yorke: but still I wish it had never happened!"



CHAPTER XX.


THE LOOMING OF AN AWFUL FEAR.

Hamish Channing sat in his private room; his now; for, in the absence
of Mr. Channing, Hamish was master. The insurance office was situated in
Guild Street, a principal street, near to the Town Hall. It consisted of
an entrance hall, two rooms, and a closet for hanging up coats, and for
washing hands. The room on the left of the hall, as you entered, was
the principal office; the room on the right, was the private room of Mr.
Channing; now used, I say, by Hamish. The upper part of the house was
occupied as a dwelling; the people renting it having nothing to do
with the office. It was a large, roomy house, and possessed a separate
entrance.

Hamish--gay, good-tempered, careless, though he was--ruled the office
with a firm hand. There was no familiarity of manner there; the clerks
liked him, but they had to defer to him and obey him. He was seated at
his desk, deep in some accounts, on this same morning--the one mentioned
in the last chapter--when one of the clerks entered, and said that
Mr. Arthur Channing was asking to speak to him: for it was Mr. Hamish
Channing's good pleasure not to be interrupted indiscriminately, unless
a clerk first ascertained whether he was at liberty to be seen. Possibly
Hamish feared treachery might be abroad.

Arthur entered. Hamish pushed his books from him, and stretched himself.
"Well, old fellow! you seem out of breath."

"I came down at a pace," rejoined Arthur. "College is just over. I say,
Hamish, a disagreeable thing has happened at Galloway's. I have never
seen him put out as he is now."

"Has his hair taken a change again, and come out a lovely rose colour?"

"I _wish_ you would not turn everything into joke," cried Arthur, who
was really troubled, and the words vexed him. "You saw a letter on
Jenkins's desk last Friday--the afternoon, you know, that Yorke went
off, and you remained while I went to college? There was a twenty-pound
note in it. Well, the note has, in some mysterious manner, been
abstracted from it."

Hamish lifted his eyebrows. "What can Galloway expect, if he sends
bank-notes in letters?"

"Yes, but this was taken before it left our office. Galloway says so. He
sealed it with his private seal, and the letter arrived at his cousin's
intact, the seal unbroken--a pretty sure proof that the note could not
have been in it when it was sealed."

"Who took it out?" asked Hamish.

"That's the question. There was not a soul near the place, that I can
find out, except you and I. Yorke was away, Jenkins was away, and Mr.
Galloway was away. He says some one must have come in while you were in
the office."

"Not so much as a ghost came in," said Hamish.

"Are you sure, Hamish?"

"Sure! I am sure they did not, unless I dropped asleep. _That_ was
not an unlikely catastrophe to happen; shut up by myself in that dull
office, amidst musty parchments, with nothing to do."

"Hamish, can you be serious for once? This is a serious matter."

"Mr. Martin Pope wants you, sir," said the clerk again, interrupting
at this juncture. Martin Pope's face came in also, over the clerk's
shoulder. It was red, and he looked in a hurry.

"Hamish, he has had a letter, and is off by the half-past eleven train,"
spoke Martin Pope, in some excitement. "You must rush up to the station,
if you want a last word with him. You will hardly catch him, running
your best."

Up jumped Hamish, in excitement as great as his friend's. He closed and
locked the desk, caught his hat, and was speeding out of the office,
when Arthur, to whom the words had been a puzzle, seized his arm.

"Hamish, _did_ any one come in? It was Mr. Galloway sent me here to
ascertain."

"No, they did not. Should I not tell you if they had? Take care, Arthur.
I must fly like the wind. Come away, Pope!"

Arthur walked back to Mr. Galloway's. That gentleman was out. Roland
Yorke was out. But Jenkins, upon whom the unfortunate affair had taken
great hold, lifted his face to Arthur, his eyes asking the question that
his tongue scarcely presumed to do.

"My brother says no one came in while he was here. It is very strange!"

"Mr. Arthur, sir, if I had repined at all at that accident, and felt it
as a misfortune, how this would have reproved me!" spoke Jenkins, in his
simple faith. "Why, sir, it must have come to me as a mercy, a blessing;
to take me away out of this office at the very time."

"What do you mean, Jenkins?"

"There's no telling, sir, but Mr. Galloway might have suspected me. It
is the first loss we have had since I have been here, all these years;
and--"

"Nonsense!" interrupted Arthur. "You may as well fear that Mr. Galloway
will suspect me, or Mr. Yorke."

"No, sir, you and Mr. Yorke are different; you are gentlemen. Mr.
Galloway would no more suspect you, than he would suspect himself. I am
thankful I was absent."

"Be easy, Jenkins," smiled Arthur. "Absent or present, every one can
trust you."

Mr. Galloway did not return until nearly one o'clock. He went straight
to his own room. Arthur followed him.

"I have seen Hamish, sir. He says no person whatever entered on Friday,
while he was here alone."

Mr. Galloway paused, apparently revolving the news. "Hamish must be
mistaken," he answered.

"He told me at the time, last Friday, that no one had been in," resumed
Arthur. "I asked the question when I returned from college, thinking
people might have called on business. He said they had not done so; and
he says the same now."

"But look you here, Arthur," debated Mr. Galloway, in a tone of
reasoning. "I suspect neither you nor Yorke; indeed, as it seems, Yorke
put himself out of suspicion's way, by walking off; but if no one came
to the office, and yet the note _went_, remember the position in which
you place yourself. I say I don't blame you, I don't suspect you; but
I do say that the mystery must be cleared up. Are you certain no person
came into the office during your presence in it?"

"I am quite certain of that, sir. I have told you so."

"And is Hamish equally certain--that no one entered while he was here
alone?"

"He says so." But Arthur's words bore a sound of hesitation, which Mr.
Galloway may or may not have observed. He would have spoken far more
positively had Hamish not joked about it.

"'Says' will not do for me," retorted Mr. Galloway. "I should like to
see Hamish. You have nothing particular to finish before one o'clock;
suppose you run up to Guild Street, and request him to come round this
way, as he goes home to dinner? It will not take him two minutes out of
his road."

Arthur departed; choosing the nearest way to Guild Street. It led him
through the street Hamish had been careful to avoid on account of a
troublesome creditor. Arthur had no such fear. One o'clock struck as
he turned into it. About midway down it, what was his astonishment
at encountering Hamish! Not hurrying along, dreading to be seen, but
flourishing leisurely at his ease, nodding to every one he knew, his
sweet smile in full play, and his cane whirling circlets in the air.

"Hamish! I thought this was forbidden ground!"

"So it was, until a day or two ago," laughed Hamish; "but I have managed
to charm the enemy."

He spoke in his usual light, careless, half-mocking style, and passed
his arm within Arthur's. At that moment a shopkeeper came to his door,
and respectfully touched his hat to Hamish. Hamish nodded in return, and
laughed again as he walked on with Arthur.

"That was the fiercest enemy in all this street of Philistines, Arthur.
See how civil he is now."

"How did you 'charm' him?"

"Oh, by a process known to myself. Did you come down on purpose to
escort me home to dinner? Very polite of you!"

"I came to ask you to go round by Mr. Galloway's office, and to call in
and see him. He will not take your word at second hand."

"Take my word about what?" asked Hamish.

"That the office had no visitors while you were in it the other day.
That money matter grows more mysterious every hour."

"Then I have not time to go round," exclaimed Hamish, in--for him--quite
an impatient accent. "I don't know anything about the money or the
letter. Why should I be bothered?"

"Hamish, you _must_ go," said Arthur, impressively. "Do you know
that--so far as can be ascertained--no human being was in the office
alone with the letter, except you and I. Were we to shun inquiry,
suspicion might fall upon us."

Hamish drew himself up haughtily, somewhat after the fashion of Roland
Yorke. "What absurdity, Arthur! steal a twenty-pound note!" But when
they came to the turning where two roads met, one of which led to Close
Street, Hamish had apparently reconsidered his determination.

"I suppose I must go, or the old fellow will be offended. You can tell
them at home that I shall be in directly; don't let them wait dinner."

He walked away quickly. Arthur pursued the path which would take him
round the cathedral to the Boundaries. He bent his head in thought. He
was lost in perplexity; in spite of what Mr. Galloway urged, with regard
to the seal, he could not believe but that the money had gone safely to
the post-office, and was stolen afterwards. Thus busied within himself,
he had reached the elm-trees, when he ran up against Hopper, the
bailiff. Arthur looked up, and the man's features relaxed into a smile.

"We shut the door when the steed's stolen, Mr. Arthur," was his
salutation. "Now that my pockets are emptied of what would have done no
good to your brother, I come here to meet him at the right time. Just to
show folks--should any be about--that I did know my way here; although
it unfortunately fell out that I always missed him."

He nodded and winked. Arthur, completely at sea as to his meaning, made
some trifling remark in answer.

"He did well to come to terms with them," continued Hopper, dropping his
voice. "Though it was only a five pound, as I hear, and a promise for
the rest, you see they took it. Ten times over, they said to me, 'We
don't want to proceed to extremities with Hamish Channing.' I was as
glad as could be when they withdrew the writ. I do hope he will go on
smooth and straight now that he has begun paying up a bit. Tell him old
Hopper says it, Mr. Arthur."

Hopper glided on, leaving Arthur glued to the spot. Begun to pay up!
Paid five pounds off one debt! Paid (there could be no doubt of it)
partially, or wholly, the "enemy" in the proscribed street! What did
it mean? Every drop of blood in Arthur Channing's body stood still, and
then coursed on fiercely. Had he seen the cathedral tower toppling down
upon his head, he had feared it less than the awful dread which was
dawning upon him.

He went home to dinner. Hamish went home. Hamish was more gay and
talkative than usual--Arthur was silent as the grave. What was the
matter, some one asked him. His head ached, was the answer; and, indeed,
it was no false plea. Hamish did not say a syllable about the loss at
table; neither did Arthur. Arthur was silenced now.

It is useless to attempt to disguise the fear that had fallen upon him.
You, my reader, will probably have glanced at it as suspiciously as did
Arthur Channing. Until this loophole had appeared, the facts had been to
Arthur's mind utterly mysterious; they now shone out all too clearly, in
glaring colours. He knew that he himself had not touched the money, and
no one else had been left with it, except Hamish. Debt! what had the
paltry fear of debt and its consequences been compared with this?

Mr. Galloway talked much of the mystery that afternoon; Yorke talked
of it; Jenkins talked of it. Arthur barely answered; never, except when
obliged to do so; and his manner, confused at times, for he could not
help its being so, excited the attention of Mr. Galloway. "One would
think you had helped yourself to the money, Channing!" he crossly
exclaimed to him once, when they were alone in the private room.

"No, sir, I did not," Arthur answered, in a low tone; but his face
flushed scarlet, and then grew deadly pale. If a Channing, his brother,
had done it--why, he felt himself almost equally guilty; and it dyed his
brow with shame. Mr. Galloway noticed the signs, and attributed them to
the pain caused by his question.

"Don't be foolish, Arthur. I feel sure of you and Yorke. Though, with
Yorke's carelessness and his spendthrift habits, I do not know that
I should have been so sure of him, had he been left alone with the
temptation."

"Sir!" exclaimed Arthur, in a tone of pain, "Yorke did not touch it. I
would answer for his innocence with my life."

"Don't I say I do not suspect him, or you either?" testily returned
Mr. Galloway. "It is the mystery of the affair that worries me. If no
elucidation turns up between now and to-morrow morning, I shall place it
in the hands of the police."

The announcement scared away Arthur's caution; almost scared away his
senses. "Oh! pray, pray, Mr. Galloway, do not let the police become
cognizant of it!" he uttered, in an accent of wild alarm. And Mr.
Galloway stared at him in very amazement; and Jenkins, who had come in
to ask a question, stared too.

"It might not produce any good result, and would cause us no end of
trouble," Arthur added, striving to assign some plausible explanation to
his words.

"That is my affair," said Mr. Galloway.

When Arthur reached home, the news had penetrated there also. Mrs.
Channing's tea-table was absorbed with it. Tom and Charles gave the
school version of it, and the Rev. Mr. Yorke, who was taking tea with
them, gave his. Both accounts were increased by sundry embellishments,
which had never taken place in reality.

"Not a soul was ever near the letter," exclaimed Tom, "except Arthur and
Jenkins, and Roland Yorke."

"The post-office must be to blame for this," observed Mr. Channing.
"But you are wrong, Tom, with regard to Jenkins. He could not have been
there."

"Mark Galloway says his uncle had a telegraphic despatch, to say the
post-office knew nothing about it," exclaimed Charles.

"Much you know about it, Miss Charley!" quoth Tom. "The despatch was
about the seal: it was not from the post-office at all. They have not
accused the post-office yet."

Arthur let them talk on; headache the excuse for his own silence. It
did ache, in no measured degree. When appealed to, "Was it this way,
Arthur?" "Was it the other?" he was obliged to speak, so that an
accurate version of the affair was arrived at before tea was over.
Constance alone saw that something unusual was the matter with him. She
attributed it to fears at the absence of Hamish, who had been expected
home to tea, and did not come in. Constance's own fears at this absence
grew to a terrific height. Had he been _arrested_?

She beckoned Arthur from the room, for she could no longer control
herself. Her lips were white, as she drew him into the study, and spoke.
"Arthur, what has become of Hamish? Has anything happened to him?"

"Happened to him!" repeated Arthur, vaguely, too absorbed in his own sad
thoughts to reply at once.

"Has--he--been--_taken_?"

"Taken! Hamish? Oh, you mean for debt!" he continued, his heart beating,
and fully aroused now. "There is no further fear, I believe. He has
managed to arrange with the people."

"How has he contrived it?" exclaimed Constance, in wonder.

Arthur turned his face away. "Hamish does not make me his confidant."

Constance stole her hand into his. "Arthur, what is the matter with you
this evening? Is it that unpleasant affair at Mr. Galloway's?"

He turned from her. He laid his face upon the table and groaned in
anguish. "Be still, Constance! You can do no good."

"But _what_ is it?" uttered Constance in alarm. "You surely do not fear
that suspicion should be cast on you, or on Hamish--although, as it
appears, you and he were alone in the office with the letter?"

"Be still, I say, Constance," he wailed. "There is nothing for it but
to--to--to bear. You will do well to ask no more about it."

A faint dread began to dawn upon her. "You and Hamish were alone with
the letter!" the echo of the words came thumping against her brain. But
she beat it off. Suspect a Channing! "Arthur, I need not ask if you are
innocent; it would be a gratuitous insult to you."

"No," he quietly said, "you need not ask that."

"And--Hamish?" she would have continued, but the words would not come.
She changed them for others.

"How do you know that he has paid any of his debts, Arthur?"

"I heard it. I--"

At that moment they heard something else--Hamish's voice in the hall.
In the impulse of the moment, in the glad revulsion of feeling--for, if
Hamish were safe in the hall, he could not be in prison--Constance flew
to him, and clasped her hands round his neck. "Oh, Hamish, Hamish! thank
Heaven that you are here!"

Hamish was surprised. He went with Constance into the study, where
Arthur had remained. "What do you mean, Constance? What is the matter?"

"I am always fearful," she whispered; "always fearful; I know you owe
money, and that they might put you in prison. Hamish, I think of it by
night and by day."

"My pretty sister!" cried Hamish, caressingly, as he smoothed her hair,
just as Constance sometimes smoothed Annabel's: "that danger has passed
for the present."

"If you were arrested, papa might lose his post," she murmured.

"I know it; it is that which has worried me. I have been doing what I
could to avert it. Constance, these things are not for you. Who told you
anything about them?"

"Never mind. I--"

"What will you give me for something I have found?" exclaimed Annabel,
bursting in upon them, her hands behind her, and her eyes dancing. "It
is one of your treasures, Hamish."

"Then give it me, Annabel. Come! I am tired; I cannot play with you this
evening."

"I won't give it you until you guess what it is."

Hamish was evidently in no mood for play. Annabel danced round and about
him, provokingly eluding his grasp. He caught her suddenly, and laid his
hands upon hers. With a shriek of laughing defiance, she flung something
on the floor, and four or five sovereigns rolled about.

It was Hamish's purse. She had found it on the hall table, by the side
of his hat and gloves, left there most probably inadvertently. Hamish
stooped to pick up the money.

"See how rich he is!" danced Annabel; "after telling us he was as poor
as a church mouse! Where has it all come from?"

Never had they seen Hamish more annoyed. When he had secured the money,
he gave a pretty sharp tap to Annabel, and ordered her, in a ringing
tone of command, not to meddle with his things again. He quitted the
room, and Annabel ran after him, laughing and defiant still.

"_Where has it all come from_?" The words, spoken in innocence by the
child, rang as a knell on the ears of Constance and Arthur Channing.
Constance's very heart turned sick--sick as Arthur's had been since the
meeting with Hopper under the elm-trees.



CHAPTER XXI.


MR. BUTTERBY.

The clock of Helstonleigh Cathedral was striking eight, and the postman
was going his rounds through the Boundaries. Formerly, nothing so common
as a regular postman, when on duty, was admitted within the pale of that
exclusive place. The Boundaries, chiefly occupied by the higher order
of the clergy, did not condescend to have its letters delivered in
the ordinary way, and by the ordinary hands. It was the custom for the
postman to take them to the Boundary-gate, and there put them into the
porter's great box, just as if he had been posting letters at the town
post-office; and the porter forthwith delivered them at their several
destinations. The late porter, however, had grown, with years, half
blind and wholly stupid. Some letters he dropped; some he lost; some
he delivered at wrong houses; some, he persisted in declaring, when
questioned, had never been delivered to him at all. In short, mistakes
and confusion were incessant; so, the porter was exonerated from that
portion of his duty, and the postman entered upon it. There was a fresh
porter now, but the old custom had not been resumed.

Ring--ring--ring--ring--for one peculiarity of the Boundaries was, that
most of its doors possessed no knockers, only bells--on he went, the
man, on this morning, leaving letters almost everywhere. At length he
came to Mr. Galloway's, and rang there a peal that it is the delight of
a postman to ring; but when the door was opened, he delivered in only
one letter and a newspaper. The business letters were generally directed
to the office.

Mr. Galloway was half-way through his breakfast. He was no sluggard; and
he liked to devote the whole hour, from eight to nine, to his breakfast
and his Times. Occasionally, as on this morning, he would sit down
before eight, in order that he might have nearly finished breakfast
before the letters arrived. His servants knew by experience that, when
this happened, he was expecting something unusual by the post.

His man came in. He laid the letter and the newspaper by his master's
side. Mr. Galloway tore open the Times, gave one glance at the price of
the funds and the money article, then put aside the paper, and took up
the letter.

The latter was from his cousin, Mr. Robert Galloway. It contained also
the envelope in which Mr. Galloway had enclosed the twenty-pound note.
"You perceive," wrote Mr. Robert, "that the seal has not been tampered
with. It is perfectly intact. Hence I infer that you must be in error in
supposing that you enclosed the note."

Mr. Galloway examined the envelope closely. His cousin had not broken
the seal in opening the letter, but had _cut_ the paper above it. He was
a methodical man in trifles, this Mr. Robert Galloway, and generally did
cut open his envelopes. It had been all the better for him had he learnt
to be methodical with his money.

"Yes; it is as Robert says," soliloquized Mr. Galloway. "The seal has
not been touched since it went out of my hands; therefore the note must
previously have been extracted from the letter. Now, who did it?"

He sat--his elbow on the table, his chin in his hand, and the envelope
before him. Apparently, he was studying it minutely; in reality he was
lost in thought. "It's just like the work of a conjuror!" he presently
exclaimed. "Not a caller near the place, that I can find out, and yet
the bank-note vanishes out of the letter! Notes don't vanish without
hands, and I'll do as I said yesterday--consult the police. If any one
can come to the bottom of it, it's Butterby. Had the seal been broken,
I should have given it to the post-office to ferret out; the crime would
have lain with them, and so would the discovery. As it is, the business
is mine."

He wrote a line rapidly in pencil, folded, called in his man-servant,
and despatched him with it to the police-station. The station was very
near Mr. Galloway's; on the other side of the cathedral, halfway between
that edifice and the town-hall. In ten minutes after the servant had
left the house, Mr. Butterby was on his road to it.

Mr. Butterby puzzled Helstonleigh. He was not an inspector, he was not a
sergeant, he was not a common officer, and he was never seen in official
dress. Who was Mr. Butterby? Helstonleigh wondered. That he had a great
deal to do with the police, was one of their staff, and received his
pay, was certain; but, what his standing might be, and what his
peculiar line of duty, they could not tell. Sometimes he was absent from
Helstonleigh for months at a time, probably puzzling other towns.
Mr. Galloway would have told you he was a detective; but perhaps Mr.
Galloway's grounds for the assertion existed only in his own opinion.
For convenience-sake we will call him a detective; remembering, however,
that we have no authority for the term.

Mr. Butterby came forward, a spare, pale man, of middle height, his eyes
deeply set, and his nose turned up to the skies. He was of silent habit;
probably, of a silent nature.

Mr. Galloway recited the circumstances of his loss. The detective sat
near him, his hands on his knees, his head bent, his eyes cast upon
the floor. He did not interrupt the story by a single word. When it
was ended, he took up the envelope, and examined it in equal silence;
examined it with ridiculous minuteness, Mr. Galloway thought, for he
poked, and peered, and touched it everywhere. He held it up to the
light, he studied the postmarks, he gazed at the seal through an
odd-looking little glass that he took from his waistcoat pocket, he
particularly criticised the folds, he drew his fingers along its
edges, he actually sniffed it--all in silence, and with an impassive
countenance.

"Have you the number of the note?" was his first question.

"No," said Mr. Galloway.

He looked up at this. The thought may have struck him, that, not to take
the number of a bank-note, sent by post, betrayed some carelessness for
a man of business. Mr. Galloway, at least, inferred this, and answered
the look.

"Of course I am in the habit of taking their numbers; I don't know that
I ever did such a thing before, as send a bank-note away without it. I
had an appointment, as I tell you, at the other end of the town for a
quarter to three; it was of importance; and, when I heard the college
strike out the three-quarters--the very hour I ought to have been
there--I hurriedly put the note into the folds of the letter, without
waiting to take its number. It was not that I forgot to do so, but that
I could not spare the time."

"Have you any means of ascertaining the number, by tracing the note back
to whence it may have come into your possession?" was the next question.

Mr. Galloway was obliged to confess that he had none. "Bank-notes are
so frequently paid me from different quarters," he remarked. "Yesterday,
for instance, a farmer, renting under the Dean and Chapter, came in,
and paid me his half-year's rent. Another, holding the lease of a
public-house in the town, renewed two lives which had dropped in. It was
Beard, of the Barley Mow. Now, both these men paid in notes, tens and
fives, and they now lie together in my cash drawer; but I could not tell
you which particular notes came from each man--no, not if you paid me
the worth of the whole to do it. Neither could I tell whence I had the
note which I put into the letter."

"In this way, if a note should turn out to be bad, you could not return
it to its owner."

"I never took a bad note in my life," said Mr. Galloway, speaking
impulsively. "There's not a better judge of notes than myself in the
kingdom; and Jenkins is as good as I am."

Another silence. Mr. Butterby remained in the same attitude, his head
and eyes bent. "Have you given me all the particulars?" he presently
asked.

"I think so. All I remember."

"Then allow me to go over them aloud," returned the detective; "and,
if I make any mistake or omission, have the goodness to correct me:--On
Friday last, you took a twenty-pound note out of your cash drawer, not
taking or knowing its number. This note you put within the folds of a
letter, and placed both in an envelope, and fastened the envelope down,
your two clerks, Channing and Yorke, being present. You then went out,
leaving the letter upon one of the desks. As you left, Hamish Channing
came in. Immediately following upon that, Yorke went out, leaving the
brothers alone. Arthur departed to attend college, Hamish remaining
in the office. Arthur Channing soon returned, finding there was no
necessity for him to stay in the cathedral; upon which Hamish left.
Arthur Channing remained alone for more than an hour, no one calling
or entering the office during that period. You then returned yourself;
found the letter in the same state, apparently, in which you had
left it, and you sealed it, and sent Arthur Channing with it to the
post-office. These are the brief facts, so far as you are cognizant of
them, and as they have been related to you?"

"They are," replied Mr. Galloway. "I should have mentioned that Arthur
Channing carried the letter into my private room before he left the
office for college."

"Locking the door?"

"Oh dear, no! Closing the door, no doubt, but not locking it. It would
have been unusual to do so."

"Jenkins was away," observed the detective in a tone of abstraction,
which told he was soliloquizing, rather than addressing his companion.
Mr. Galloway rather fired up at the remark, taking it in a different
light from that in which it was spoken.

"Jenkins was at home at the time, confined to his bed; and, had he not
been, I would answer for Jenkins's honesty as I would for my own. Can
you see any possible solution to the mystery?"

"A very possible one," was the dry answer. "There is no doubt whatever
upon my mind, that the theft was committed by Arthur Channing."

Mr. Galloway started up with an exclamation of surprise, mingled with
anger. Standing within the room was his nephew Mark. The time had gone
on to nine, the hour of release from school; and, on running past Mr.
Galloway's with the rest of the boys, Mark had dutifully called in. Mark
and his brothers were particularly fond of calling in, for their uncle
was not stingy with his sixpences, and they were always on the look-out.
Mr. Mark did not get a sixpence this time.

"How dare you intrude upon me in this sly way, sir? Don't you see I am
engaged? I will have you knock at my room door before you enter. Take
yourself off again, if you please!"

Mark, with a word of deprecation, went off, his ears pricking with the
sentence he had heard from the detective--Arthur Channing the thief!

Mr. Galloway turned again to the officer. He resented the imputation.
"The Channings are altogether above suspicion, from the father
downwards," he remonstrated. "Were Arthur Channing dishonestly inclined,
he has had the opportunity to rob me long before this."

"Persons of hitherto honourable conduct, honest by nature and by habit,
have succumbed under sudden temptation or pressing need," was the
answer.

"Arthur Channing is in no pressing need. He is not hard up for money."

A smile actually curled the detective's lip. "A great many more young
men are harder up for money than they allow to appear. The Channings
are in what may be called difficulties, through the failure of their
Chancery suit, and the lad must have yielded to temptation."

Mr. Galloway could not be brought to see it. "You may as well set on
and suspect Hamish," he resentfully said. "He was equally alone with the
letter."

"No," was the answer of the keen officer. "Hamish Channing is in
a responsible position; he would not be likely to emperil it for a
twenty-pound note; and he could not know that the letter contained
money." Mr. Butterby was not cognizant of quite the facts of the case,
you see.

"It is absurd to suspect Arthur Channing."

"Which is the more absurd--to suspect him, or to assume that the
bank-note vanished without hands? forced its own way through the
envelope, and disappeared up the chimney in a whirlwind?" asked the
officer, bringing sarcasm to his aid. "If the facts are as you have
stated, that only the two Channings had access to the letter, the guilt
must lie with one of them. Facts are facts, Mr. Galloway."

Mr. Galloway admitted that facts _were_ facts, but he could not be
brought to allow the guilt of Arthur Channing. The detective rose.

"You have confided the management of this affair to me," he observed,
"and I have no doubt I shall be able to arrive at a satisfactory
conclusion. One more question I must ask you. Is it known to your clerks
that you have not the number of the note?"

"Yes, it is."

"Then I fear you stand little chance of ever seeing it again. That fact
known, no time would be lost in parting with it; they'd make haste to
get it safe off."

Not an instant did Mr. Butterby take for consideration upon quitting Mr.
Galloway. With a sharp, unhesitating step, as though his mind had been
made up for a month past as to what his course must be, he took his way
to the house of Mr. Joe Jenkins. That gentleman, his head still tied up,
was just leaving for the office, and Mr. Butterby encountered him coming
through the shop.

"Good morning, Jenkins. I want a word with you alone."

Jenkins bowed, in his civil, humble fashion; but "a word alone" was more
easily asked than had, Mrs. Jenkins being all-powerful, and burning with
curiosity. The officer had to exert some authority before he could get
rid of her, and be left at peace with Jenkins.

"What sources of expense has Arthur Channing?" demanded he, so abruptly
as to startle and confuse Jenkins.

"Sources of expense, sir?" he repeated.

"What are his habits? Does he squander money? Does he go out in an
evening into expensive company?"

"I'm sure, sir, I cannot tell you anything about it," Jenkins was mildly
beginning. He was imperatively interrupted by the detective.

"I ask _to know_. You are aware that I possess authority to compel you
to speak; therefore, answer me without excuse or circumlocution; it will
save trouble."

"But indeed, sir, I really do _not_ know," persisted Jenkins. "I
should judge Mr. Arthur Channing to be a steady, well-conducted young
gentleman, who has no extravagant habits at all. As to his evenings, I
think he spends them mostly at home."

"Do you know whether he has any pressing debts?"

"I heard him say to Mr. Yorke one day, that a twenty-pound note would
pay all he owed, and leave him something out of it," spoke Jenkins in
his unconscious simplicity.

"Ah!" said Mr. Butterby, drawing in his lips, though his face remained
impassive as before. "When was this?"

"Not long ago, sir. About a week, it may have been, before I met
with that accident--which accident, I begin to see now, sir, happened
providentially, for it caused me to be away from the office when that
money was lost."

"An unpleasant loss," remarked the officer, with apparent carelessness;
"and the young gentlemen must feel it so--Arthur Channing especially.
Yorke, I believe, was out?"

"He does feel it very much, sir. He was as agitated about it yesterday
as could be, when Mr. Galloway talked of putting it into the hands of
the police. It is a disagreeable thing to happen in an office, you know,
sir."

A slight pause of silence was made by the detective ere he rejoined.
"Agitated, was he? And Mr. Roland Yorke the same, no doubt?"

"No, sir; Mr. Roland does not seem to care much about it. He thinks
it must have been taken in its transit through the post-office, and I
cannot help being of the same opinion, sir."

Another question or two, and Jenkins attended Mr. Butterby to the door.
He was preparing to follow him from it, but a peremptory female voice
arrested his departure.

"Jenkins, I want you."

"It is hard upon half-past nine, my dear. I shall be late."

"If it's hard upon half-past ten, you'll just walk here. I want you, I
say."

Meek as any lamb, Mr. Jenkins returned to the back parlour, and was
marshalled into a chair. Mrs. Jenkins closed the door and stood before
him. "Now, then, what did Butterby want?"

"I don't know what he wanted," replied Jenkins.

"You will sit there till you tell me," resolutely replied the lady. "I
am not going to have police inquisitors making mysterious visits inside
my doors, and not know what they do it for. You'll tell me every word
that passed, and the sooner you begin, the better."

"But I am ignorant myself of what he did want," mildly deprecated
Jenkins. "He asked me a question or two about Mr. Arthur Channing, but
why I don't know."

Leaving Mrs. Jenkins to ferret out the questions one by one--which,
you may depend upon it, she would not fail to do, and to keep Jenkins a
prisoner until it was over--and leaving Mr. Butterby to proceed to the
house of the cathedral organist, whither he was now bent, to ascertain
whether Mr. Williams did take the organ voluntarily, and (to Arthur)
unexpectedly, the past Friday afternoon, we will go on to other matters.
Mr. Butterby best knew what bearing this could have upon the case.
Police officers sometimes give to their inquiries a strangely wide
range.



CHAPTER XXII.


AN INTERRUPTED DINNER.

Have you ever observed a large lake on the approach of a sudden
storm?--its unnatural stillness, death-like and ominous; its
undercurrent of anger not yet apparent on the surface; and then the
breaking forth of fury when the storm has come?

Not inaptly might the cloisters of Helstonleigh be compared to this,
that day, when the college boys were let out of school at one o'clock.
A strange rumour had been passed about amongst the desks--not reaching
that at which sat the seniors--a rumour which shook the equanimity
of the school to its centre; and, when one o'clock struck, the boys,
instead of clattering out with all the noise of which their legs and
lungs were capable, stole down the stairs quietly, and formed into
groups of whisperers in the cloisters. It was the calm that precedes a
storm.

So unusual a state of affairs was noticed by the senior boy.

"What's up now?" he asked them, in the phraseology in vogue there and
elsewhere. "Are you all going to a funeral? I hope it's your sins that
you are about to bury!"

A heavy silence answered him. Gaunt could not make it out. The other
three seniors, attracted by the scene, came back, and waited with Gaunt.
By that time the calm was being ruffled by low murmurings, and certain
distinct words came from more than one of the groups.

"What do you say?" burst forth Tom Channing, darting forward as the
words caught his ear. "You, Jackson! speak up; _what_ is it?"

Not Jackson's voice especially, but several other voices arose then; a
word from one, a word from another, half sentences, disjointed hints,
forming together an unmistakable whole. "The theft of old Galloway's
bank-note has been traced to Arthur Channing."

"Who says it? Who dares to say it?" flashed Tom, his face flaming, and
his hand clenched.

"The police say it. Butterby says it."

"I don't care for the police; I don't care for Butterby," cried Tom,
stamping his foot in his terrible indignation. "I ask, who dares to say
it here?"

"I do, then! Come, Mr. Channing, though you are a senior, and can put me
up to Pye for punishment upon any false plea that you choose," answered
a tall fellow, Pierce senior, who was chiefly remarkable for getting
into fights, and was just now unusually friendly with Mark Galloway, at
whose desk he sat.

Quick as lightning, Tom Channing turned and faced him. "Speak out what
you have to say," cried he; "no hints."

"Whew!" retorted Pierce senior, "do you think I am afraid? I say that
Arthur Channing stole the note lost by old Galloway."

Tom, in uncontrollable temper, raised his hand and struck him. One
half-minute's struggle, nothing more, and Pierce senior was sprawling on
the ground, while Tom Channing's cheek and nose were bleeding. Gaunt had
stepped in between them.

"I stop this," he said. "Pierce, get up! Don't lie there like a
floundering donkey. Channing, what possessed you to forget yourself?"

"You would have done the same, Gaunt, had the insult been offered to
you. Let the fellow retract his words, or prove them."

"Very good. That is how you ought to have met it at first," said Gaunt.
"Now, Mr. Pierce, can you make good your assertion?"

Pierce had floundered up, and was rubbing one of his long legs, which
had doubled under him in the fall, while his brother, Pierce junior, was
collecting an armful of scattered books, and whispering prognostications
of parental vengeance in prospective; for, so surely as Pierce senior
fell into a fight at school, to the damage of face or clothes, so surely
was it followed up by punishment at home.

"If you want proof, go to Butterby at the police station, and get it
from him," sullenly replied Pierce, who owned a sulky temper as well as
a pugnacious one.

"Look here," interrupted Mark Galloway, springing to the front: "Pierce
was a fool to bring it out in that way, but I'll speak up now it has
come to this. I went into my uncle's, this morning, at nine o'clock, and
there was he, shut in with Butterby. Butterby was saying that there
was no doubt the theft had been committed by Arthur Channing. Mind,
Channing," Mark added, turning to Tom, "I am not seconding the
accusation on my own score; but, that Butterby said it I'll declare."

"Pshaw! is that all?" cried Tom Channing, lifting his head with a
haughty gesture, and not condescending to notice the blood which
trickled from his cheek. "You must have misunderstood him, boy."

"No, I did not," replied Mark Galloway. "I heard him as plainly as I
hear you now."

"It is hardly likely that Butterby would say that before you, Galloway,"
observed Gaunt.

"Ah, but he didn't see I was there, or my uncle either," said Mark.
"When he is reading his newspaper of a morning, he can't bear a noise,
and I always go into the room as quiet as mischief. He turned me out
again pretty quick, I can tell you; but not till I had heard Butterby
say that."

"You must have misunderstood him," returned Gaunt, carelessly taking up
Tom Channing's notion; "and you had no right to blurt out such a thing
to the school. Arthur Channing is better known and trusted than you, Mr.
Mark."

"I didn't accuse Arthur Channing to the school. I only repeated to my
desk what Butterby said."

"It is that 'only repeating' which does three parts of the mischief
in this world," said Gaunt, giving the boys a little touch of morality
gratis, to their intense edification. "As to you, Pierce senior, you'll
get more than you bargain for, some of these days, if you poke your
ill-conditioned nose so often into other people's business."

Tom Channing had marched away towards his home, head erect, his step
ringing firmly and proudly on the cloister flags. Charley ran by his
side. But Charley's face was white, and Tom caught sight of it.

"What are you looking like that for?"

"Tom! you don't think it's true, do you?"

Tom turned his scorn upon the boy. "You little idiot! True! A Channing
turn thief! _You_ may, perhaps--it's best known to yourself--but never
Arthur."

"I don't mean that. I mean, can it be true that the police suspect him?"

"Oh! that's what your face becomes milky for? You ought to have been
born a girl, Miss Charley. If the police do suspect him, what of
that?--they'll only have the tables turned upon themselves, Butterby
might come out and say he suspects me of murder! Should I care? No; I'd
prove my innocence, and make him eat his words."

They were drawing near home. Charley looked up at his brother. "You must
wipe your face, Tom."

Tom took out his handkerchief, and gave his face a rub. In his
indignation, his carelessness, he would have done nothing of the sort,
had he not been reminded by the boy. "Is it off?"

"Yes, it's off. I am not sure but it will break out again. You must take
care."

"Oh, bother! let it. I should like to have polished off that Pierce
senior as he deserves. A little coin of the same sort would do Galloway
no harm. Were I senior of the school, and Arthur not my brother, Mr.
Mark should hear a little home truth about sneaks. I'll tell it him in
private, as it is; but I can't put him up for punishment, or act in it
as Gaunt could."

"Arthur is our brother, therefore we feel it more pointedly than Gaunt,"
sensibly remarked Charley.

"I'd advise you not to spell forth that sentimental rubbish, though you
are a young lady," retorted Tom. "A senior boy, if he does his duty,
should make every boy's cause his own, and 'feel' for him."

"Tom," said the younger and more thoughtful of the two, "don't let us
say anything of this at home."

"Why not?" asked Tom, hotly. He would have run in open-mouthed.

"It would pain mamma to hear it."

"Boy! do you suppose _she_ would fear Arthur?"

"You seem to misconstrue all I say, Tom. Of course she would not fear
him--you did not fear him; but it stung you, I know, as was proved by
your knocking down Pierce."

"Well, I won't speak of it before her," conciliated Tom, somewhat won
over, "or before my father, either; but catch me keeping it from the
rest."

As Charles had partially foretold, they had barely entered, when
Tom's face again became ornamented with crimson. Annabel shrieked out,
startling Mr. Channing on his sofa. Mrs. Channing, as it happened, was
not present; Constance was: Lady Augusta Yorke and her daughters were
spending part of the day in the country, therefore Constance had come
home at twelve.

"Look at Tom's face!" cried the child. "What has he been doing?"

"Hold your tongue, little stupid," returned Tom, hastily bringing his
handkerchief into use again; which, being a white one, made the worse
exhibition of the two, with its bright red stains. "It's nothing but a
scratch."

But Annabel's eyes were sharp, and she had taken in full view of the
hurt. "Tom, you have been fighting! I am sure of it!"

"Come to me, Tom," said Mr. Channing. "Have you been fighting?" he
demanded, as Tom crossed the room in obedience, and stood close to him.
"Take your handkerchief away, that I may see your face."

"It could not be called a fight, papa," said Tom, holding his cheek so
that the light from the window fell full upon the hurt. "One of the boys
offended me; I hit him, and he gave me this; then I knocked him down,
and there it ended. It's only a scratch."

"Thomas, was this Christian conduct?"

"I don't know, papa. It was schoolboy's."

Mr. Channing could not forbear a smile. "I know it was a schoolboy's
conduct; that is bad enough: and it is my son's, that is worse."

"If I had given him what he deserved, he would have had ten times as
much; and perhaps I should, for my temper was up, only Gaunt put in his
interference. When I am senior, my rule will be different from Gaunt's."

"Ah, Tom! your 'temper up!' It is that temper of yours which brings you
harm. What was the quarrel about?"

"I would rather not tell you, papa. Not for my own sake," he added,
turning his honest eyes fearlessly on his father; "but I could not tell
it without betraying something about somebody, which it may be as well
to keep in."

"After that lucid explanation, you had better go and get some warm water
for your face," said Mr. Channing. "I will speak with you later."

Constance followed him from the room, volunteering to procure the warm
water. They were standing in Tom's chamber afterwards, Tom bathing his
face, and Constance looking on, when Arthur, who had then come in from
Mr. Galloway's, passed by to his own room.

"Hallo!" he called out; "what's the matter, Tom?"

"Such a row!" answered Tom. "And I wish I could have pitched into Pierce
senior as I'd have liked. What do you think, Arthur? The school
were taking up the notion that you--you!--had stolen old Galloway's
bank-note. Pierce senior set it afloat; that is, he and Mark Galloway
together. Mark said a word, and Pierce said two, and so it went on. I
should have paid Pierce out, but for Gaunt."

A silence. It was filled up by the sound of Tom splashing the water on
his face, and by that only. Arthur spoke presently, his tone so calm a
one as almost to be unnatural.

"How did the notion arise?"

"Mark Galloway said he heard Butterby talking with his uncle; that
Butterby said the theft could only have been committed by Arthur
Channing. Mark Galloway's ears must have played him false; but it was
a regular sneak's trick to come and repeat it to the school. I say,
Constance, is my face clean now?"

Constance woke up from a reverie to look at his face. "Quite clean," she
answered.

He dried it, dried his hands, gave a glance at his shirt-front in the
glass, which had, however, escaped damage, brushed his hair, and went
downstairs. Arthur closed the door and turned to Constance. Her eyes
were seeking his, and her lips stood apart. The terrible fear which had
fallen upon both the previous day had not yet been spoken out between
them. It must be spoken now.

"Constance, there is tribulation before us," he whispered. "We must
school ourselves to bear it, however difficult the task may prove.
Whatever betide the rest of us, suspicion must be averted from _him_."

"What tribulation do you mean?" she murmured.

"The affair has been placed in the hands of the police; and I believe--I
believe," Arthur spoke with agitation, "that they will publicly
investigate it. Constance, they suspect _me_. The college school is
right, and Tom is wrong."

Constance leaned against a chest of drawers to steady herself, and
pressed her hand upon her shrinking face. "How have you learnt it?"

"I have gathered it from different trifles; one fact and another.
Jenkins said Butterby was with him this morning, asking questions about
me. Better that I should be suspected than Hamish. God help me to bear
it!"

"But it is so unjust that you should suffer for him."

"Were it traced home to him, it might be the whole family's ruin, for
my father would inevitably lose his post. He might lose it were only
suspicion to stray to Hamish. There is no alternative. I must screen
him. Can you be firm, Constance, when you see me accused?"

Constance leaned her head upon her hand, wondering whether she could be
firm in the cause. But that she knew where to go for strength, she might
have doubted it; for the love of right, the principles of justice were
strong within her. "Oh, what could possess him?" she uttered, wringing
her hands; "what could possess him? Arthur, is there no loophole, not
the faintest loophole for hope of his innocence?"

"None that I see. No one whatever had access to the letter but Hamish
and I. He must have yielded to the temptation in a moment of delirium,
knowing the money would clear him from some of his pressing debts--as it
has done."

"How could he brave the risk of detection?"

"I don't know. My head aches, pondering over it. I suppose he concluded
that suspicion would fall upon the post-office. It would have done so,
but for that seal placed on the letter afterwards. What an unfortunate
thing it was, that Roland Yorke mentioned there was money inside the
letter in the hearing of Hamish!"

"Did he mention it?" exclaimed Constance.

He said there was a twenty-pound note in the letter, going to the cousin
Galloway, and Hamish remarked that he wished it was going into his
pocket instead. "I _wish_" Arthur uttered, in a sort of frenzy, "I had
locked the letter up there and then."

Constance clasped her hands in pain. "I fear he may have been going
wrong for some time," she breathed. "It has come to my knowledge,
through Judith, that he sits up for hours night after night, doing
something to the books. Arthur," she shivered, glancing fearfully round,
"I hope those accounts are right?"

The doubt thus given utterance to, blanched even the cheeks of Arthur.
"Sits up at the books!" he exclaimed.

"He sits up, that is certain; and at the books, as I conclude. He takes
them into his room at night. It may only be that he has not time, or
does not make time, to go over them in the day. It _may_ be so."

"I trust it is; I pray it may be. Mind you, Constance, our duty is
plain: we must screen him; screen him at any sacrifice to ourselves, for
the father and mother's sake."

"Sacrifice to you, you ought to say. What were our other light troubles,
compared with this? Arthur, will they publicly accuse you?"

"It may come to that; I have been steeling myself all the morning to
meet it."

He looked into her face as he said it. Constance could see how his brow
and heart were aching. At that moment they were called to dinner, and
Arthur turned to leave the room. Constance caught his hand, the tears
raining from her eyes.

"Arthur," she whispered, "in the very darkest trouble, God can comfort
us. Be assured He will comfort you."

Hamish did not make his appearance at dinner, and they sat down
without him. This was not so very unusual as to cause surprise; he was
occasionally detained at the office.

The meal was about half over, when Annabel, in her disregard of the
bounds of discipline, suddenly started from her seat and flew to the
window.

"Charley, there are two policemen coming here! Whatever can they want?"

"Perhaps to take you," said Mrs. Channing, jestingly. "A short sojourn
at the tread-mill might be of great service to you, Annabel."

The announcement had struck upon the ear and memory of Tom. "Policemen!"
he exclaimed, standing up in his place, and stretching his neck to
obtain a view of them. "Why--it never can be that--old Butterby--Arthur,
what ails you?"

A sensitive, refined nature, whether implanted in man or woman, is
almost sure to betray its emotions on the countenance. Such a nature
was Arthur Channing's. Now that the dread had really come, every drop
of blood forsook his cheeks and lips, leaving his face altogether of a
deathly whiteness. He was utterly unable to control or help this, and it
was this pallor which had given rise to Tom's concluding exclamation.

Mr. Channing looked at Arthur, Mrs. Channing looked at him; they all
looked at him, except Constance, and she bent her head lower over her
plate, to hide, as she best might, her own white face and its shrinking
terror. "Are you ill, Arthur?" inquired his father.

A low brief reply came; one struggling for calmness. "No, sir."

Impetuous Tom, forgetting caution, forgetting all except the moment
actually present, gave utterance to more than was prudent. "Arthur, you
are never fearing what those wretched schoolboys said? The police are
not come to arrest you. Butterby wouldn't be such a fool!"

But the police were in the hall, and Judith had come to the dining-room
door. "Master Arthur, you are wanted, please."

"What is all this?" exclaimed Mr. Channing in astonishment, gazing from
Tom to Arthur, from Arthur to the vision of the blue official dress, a
glimpse of which he could catch beyond Judith. Tom took up the answer.

"It's nothing, papa. It's a trick they are playing for fun, I'll lay.
They _can't_ really suspect Arthur of stealing the bank-note, you know.
They'll never dare to take him up, as they take a felon."

Charley stole round to Arthur with a wailing cry, and threw his arms
round him--as if their weak protection could retain him in its shelter.
Arthur gently unwound them, and bent down till his lips touched the
yearning face held up to him in its anguish.

"Charley, boy, I am innocent," he breathed in the boy's ear. "You won't
doubt that, I know. Don't keep me. They have come for me, and I must go
with them."



CHAPTER XXIII.


AN ESCORT TO THE GUILDHALL.

The group would have formed a study for a Wilkie. The disturbed
dinner-table; the consternation of those assembled at it; Mr. Channing
(whose sofa, wheeled to the table, took up the end opposite his wife)
gazing around with a puzzled, stern expression; Mrs. Channing glancing
behind her with a sense of undefined dread; the pale, _conscious_
countenances of Arthur and Constance; Tom standing up in haughty
impetuosity, defiant of every one; the lively terror of Charley's face,
as he clung to Arthur; and the wide-opened eyes of Annabel expressive
of nothing but surprise--for it took a great deal to alarm that careless
young lady; while at the door, holding it open for Arthur, stood
Judith in her mob-cap, full of curiosity; and in the background the two
policemen. A scene indeed, that Wilkie, in the day of his power, would
have rejoiced to paint.

Arthur, battling fiercely with his outraged pride, and breathing an
inward prayer for strength to go through with his task, for patience to
endure, put Charley from him, and went into the hall. He saw not what
was immediately around him--the inquiring looks of his father and
mother, the necessity of some explanation to them; he saw not Judith
and her curious face. A scale was, as it were, before his eyes, blinding
them to all outward influences, except one-the officers of justice
standing there, and the purpose for which they had come. "What on
earth has happened, Master Arthur?" whispered Judith, as he passed her,
terrifying the old servant with his pale, agitated face. But he neither
heard nor answered; he walked straight up to the men.

"I will go with you quietly," he said to them, in an undertone. "Do not
make a disturbance, to alarm my mother."

We cannot always have our senses about us, as the saying runs. Some of
us, I fear, enjoy that privilege rarely, and the very best lose them on
occasion. But that Arthur Channing's senses had deserted him, he would
not have pursued a line of conduct, in that critical moment, which was
liable to be construed into an admission, or, at least, a consciousness
of guilt. In his anxiety to avert suspicion from Hamish, he lost
sight of the precautions necessary to protect himself, so far as was
practicable. And yet he had spent time that morning, thinking over what
his manner, his bearing must be if it came to this! Had it come upon
him unexpectedly he would have met it very differently; with far less
outward calmness, but most probably with indignant denial. "I will go
with you quietly," he said to the men.

"All right, sir," they answered with a nod, and a conviction that he
was a cool hand and a guilty one. "It's always best not to resist the
law--it never does no good."

He need not have resisted, but he ought to have waited until they asked
him to go. A dim perception of this had already begun to steal over him.
He was taking his hat from its place in the hall, when the voice of Mr.
Channing came ringing on his ear.

"Arthur, what is this? Give me an explanation."

Arthur turned back to the room, passing through the sea of faces to get
there; for all; except his helpless father, had come from their seats
to gather round and about that strange mystery in the hall, to try
to fathom it. Mr. Channing gave one long, keen glance at Arthur's
face--which was very unlike Arthur's usual face just then; for all
its candour seemed to have gone out of it. He did not speak to him; he
called in one of the men.

"Will you tell me your business here?" he asked courteously.

"Don't you know it, sir?" was the reply.

"No, I do not," replied Mr. Channing.

"Well, sir, it's an unpleasant accusation that is brought against this
young gentleman. But perhaps he'll be able to make it clear. I hope he
will. It don't give us no pleasure when folks are convicted, especially
young ones, and those we have always known to be respectable; we'd
rather see 'em let off."

Tom interrupted--Tom, in his fiery indignation. "Is it of stealing
that bank-note of Galloway's that you presume to accuse my brother?" he
asked, speaking indistinctly in his haste and anger.

"You have said it, sir," replied the man. "That's it."

"Then I say whoever accuses him ought to be--"

"Silence, Thomas," interrupted Mr. Channing. "Allow me to deal with
this. Who brings this accusation against my son?"

"We had our orders from Mr. Butterby, sir. He is acting for Mr.
Galloway. He was called in there early this morning."

"Have you come for my son to go with you to Mr. Galloway's?"

"Not there, sir. We have to take him straight to the Guildhall. The
magistrates are waiting to hear the case."

A dismayed pause. Even Mr. Channing's heart, with all its implicit faith
in the truth and honour of his children, beat as if it would burst its
bounds. Tom's beat too; but it was with a desire to "pitch into" the
policemen, as he had pitched into Pierce senior in the cloisters.

Mr. Channing turned to Arthur. "You have an answer to this, my son?"

The question was not replied to. Mr. Channing spoke again, with the same
calm emphasis. "Arthur, you can vouch for your innocence?"

Arthur Channing did the very worst thing that he could have done--he
hesitated. Instead of replying readily and firmly "I can," which he
might have done without giving rise to harm, he stopped to ask himself
how far, consistently with safety to Hamish, he might defend his own
cause. His mind was not collected; he had not, as I have said, his
senses about him; and the unbroken silence, waiting for his answer, the
expectant faces turned upon him, helped to confuse him and to drive his
reason further away. The signs, which certainly did look like signs of
guilt, struck a knell on the heart of his father. "Arthur!" he wailed
out, in a tone of intense agony, "you _are_ innocent?"

"Y--es," replied Arthur, gulping down his rising agitation; his rising
words--impassioned words of exculpation, of innocence, of truth. They
had bubbled up within him--were hovering on the verge of his burning
lips. He beat them down again to repression; but he never afterwards
knew how he did it.

Better that he had been still silent, than speak that dubious,
indecisive "Y--es." It told terribly against him. One, conscious of his
own innocence, does not proclaim it in indistinct, half-uttered words.
Tom's mouth dropped with dismay, and his astonished eyes seemed as
if they could not take themselves from Arthur's uncertain face. Mrs.
Channing staggered against the wall, with a faint cry.

The policeman spoke up: he meant to be kindly. In all Helstonleigh there
was not a family more respected than were the Channings; and the man
felt a passing sorrow for his task. "I wouldn't ask no questions, sir,
if I was you. Sometimes it's best not; they tell against the accused."

"Time's up," called out the one who was in the hall, to his fellow. "We
can't stop here all day."

The hint was taken at once, both by Arthur and the man. Constance had
kept herself still, throughout, by main force; but Mrs. Channing could
not see him go away like this. She rose and threw her arms round him, in
a burst of hysterical feeling, sobbing out, "My boy! my boy!"

"Don't, mother! don't unnerve me," he whispered. "It is bad enough as it
is."

"But you cannot be guilty, Arthur."

For answer he looked into her eyes for a single moment. His habitual
expression had come back to them again--the earnest of truth, which she
had ever known and trusted. It spoke calm to her heart now. "You are
innocent," she murmured. "Then go in peace."

Annabel broke into a storm of sobs. "Oh, Judith! will they hang him?
What has he done?"

"I'd hang them two policemen, if I did what I should like to do,"
responded Judith. "Yes, you two, I mean," she added, without ceremony,
as the officials turned round at the words. "If I had my will, I'd hang
you both up to two of those elm-trees yonder, right in front of one
another. Coming to a gentleman's house on this errand!"

"Do not take me publicly through the streets," said Arthur to his
keepers. "I give you my word to make no resistance: I will go to the
Guildhall, or anywhere else that you please, as freely as if I were
bound thither on my own pleasure. You need not betray that I am in
custody."

They saw that they might trust him. One of the policemen went to the
opposite side of the way, as if pacing his beat; the other continued
by the side of Arthur; not closely enough to give rise to suspicion in
those they met. A few paces from the door Tom Channing came pelting up,
and put his arm within Arthur's.

"Guilty, or not guilty, it shall never be said that a Channing was
deserted by his brothers!" quoth he, "I wish Hamish could have been
here."

"Tom, you are thinking me guilty?" Arthur said, in a quiet, tone, which
did not reach the ears of his official escort.

"Well--I am in a fix," avowed Tom. "If you are guilty, I shall never
believe in anything again. I have always thought that building a
cathedral: well and good; but if it turns out to be a myth, I shan't be
surprised, after this. _Are_ you guilty?"

"No, lad."

The denial was simple, and calmly expressed; but there was sufficient in
its tone to make Tom Channing's heart give a great leap within him.

"Thank God! What a fool I was! But, I say, Arthur, why did you not deny
it, out-and-out? Your manner frightened us. I suppose the police scared
you?"

Tom, all right now, walked along, his head up, escorting Arthur with as
little shame to public examination, as he would have done to a public
crowning. It was not the humiliation of undeserved suspicion that could
daunt the Channings: the consciousness of guilt could alone effect that.
Hitherto, neither guilt nor its shadow had fallen upon them.

"Tom," asked Arthur, when they had reached the hall, and were about to
enter: "will you do me a little service?"

"Won't I, though! what is it?"

"Make the best of your way to Mr. Williams's, and tell him I am
prevented from taking the organ this afternoon."

"I shan't tell him the reason," said Tom.

"Why not? In an hour's time it will be known from one end of
Helstonleigh to the other."



CHAPTER XXIV.


THE EXAMINATION.

The magistrates sat on the bench in the town-hall of Helstonleigh. But,
before the case was called on--for the police had spoken too fast in
saying they were waiting for it--Arthur became acquainted with one
great fact: that it was not Mr. Galloway who had driven matters to this
extremity. Neither was he aware that Arthur had been taken into custody.
Mr. Butterby had assumed the responsibility, and acted upon it. Mr.
Butterby, since his interview with Mr. Galloway in the morning, had
gathered, as he believed, sufficiently corroborating facts to establish,
or nearly so, the guilt of Arthur Channing. He supposed that this was
all Mr. Galloway required to remove his objection to stern measures;
and, in procuring the warrant for the capture, Mr. Butterby had acted as
for Mr. Galloway.

When Arthur was placed in the spot where he had often seen criminals
standing, his face again wore the livid hue which had overspread it in
his home. In a few moments this had changed to crimson; brow and cheeks
were glowing with it. It was a painful situation, and Arthur felt it to
the very depths of his naturally proud spirit. I don't think you or I
should have liked it.

The circumstances were stated to the magistrates just as they have been
stated to you. The placing of the bank-note and letter in the envelope
by Mr. Galloway, his immediately fastening it down by means of the gum,
the extraction of the note, between that time and the period when
the seal was placed on it later in the day, and the fact that Arthur
Channing alone had access to it. "Except Mr. Hamish Channing, for a few
minutes," Mr. Butterby added, "who kindly remained in the office while
his brother proceeded as far as the cathedral and back again; the other
clerks, Joseph Jenkins and Roland Yorke, being absent that afternoon."

A deeper dye flushed Arthur's face when Hamish's name and share in the
afternoon's doings were mentioned, and he bent his eyes on the floor at
his feet, and kept them there. Had Hamish not been implicated, he would
have stood there with a clear eye and a serene brow. It was that, the
all too vivid consciousness of the sin of Hamish, which took all spirit
out of him, and drove him to stand there as one under the brand
of guilt. He scarcely dared look up, lest it should be read in his
countenance that he was innocent, and Hamish guilty; he scarcely dared
to pronounce, in ever so faltering a tone, the avowal "I did it not."
Had it been to save his life from the scaffold, he could not have spoken
out boldly and freely that day. There was the bitter shock of the crime,
felt for Hamish's own sake: Hamish whom they had all so loved, so looked
up to: and there was the dread of the consequences to Mr. Channing in
the event of discovery. Had the penalty been hanging, I believe that
Arthur would have gone to it, rather than betray Hamish. But you must
not suppose he did not _feel_ it for himself; there were moments when he
feared lest he should not carry it through.

Mr. Butterby was waiting for a witness--Mr. Galloway himself: and
meanwhile, he entertained the bench with certain scraps, anecdotal and
other, premising what would be proved before them. Jenkins would
show that the prisoner had avowed in his presence, it would take a
twenty-pound note to clear him from his debts, or hard upon it--

"No," interrupted the hitherto silent prisoner, to the surprise of those
present, "that is not true. It is correct that I did make use of words
to that effect, but I spoke them in jest. I and Roland Yorke were one
day speaking of debts, and I jokingly said a twenty-pound note would pay
mine, and leave me something out of it. Jenkins was present, and he
may have supposed I spoke in earnest. In point of fact I did not owe
anything."

It was an assertion more easily made than proved. Arthur Channing might
have large liabilities upon him, for all that appeared in that court to
the contrary. Mr. Butterby handed the seal to the bench, who examined it
curiously.

"I could have understood this case better had any stranger or strangers
approached the letter," observed one of the magistrates, who knew the
Channings personally, and greatly respected their high character. "You
are sure you are not mistaken in supposing no one came in?" he added,
looking kindly at Arthur.

"Certainly no one came in whilst I was alone in the office, sir," was
the unhesitating answer.

The magistrate spoke in an under-tone to those beside him. "That avowal
is in his favour. Had he taken the note, one might suppose he would
be anxious to make it appear that strangers did enter, and so throw
suspicion off himself."

"I have made very close inquiry, and cannot find that the office was
entered at all that afternoon," observed Mr. Butterby. Mr. Butterby
_had_ made close inquiry; and, to do him justice, he did not seek to
throw one shade more of guilt upon Arthur than he thought the case
deserved. "Mr. Hamish Channing also--"

Mr. Butterby stopped. There, standing within the door, was Hamish
himself. In passing along the street he had seen an unusual commotion
around the town-hall; and, upon inquiring its cause, was told that
Arthur Channing was under examination, on suspicion of having stolen the
bank-note, lost by Mr. Galloway.

To look at Hamish you would have believed him innocent and unconscious
as the day. He strode into the justice-room, his eye flashing, his brow
haughty, his colour high. Never had gay Hamish looked so scornfully
indignant. He threw his glance round the crowded court in search of
Arthur, and it found him.

Their eyes met. A strange gaze it was, going out from the one to the
other; a gaze which the brothers had never in all their lives exchanged.
Arthur's spoke of shame all too palpably--he could not help it in that
bitter moment--shame for his brother. And Hamish shrank under it. If
ever one cowered visibly in this world, Hamish Channing did then. A low,
suppressed cry went up from Arthur's heart: whatever fond, faint doubt
may have lingered in his mind, it died out from that moment.

Others noticed the significant look exchanged between them; but they,
not in the secret, saw only, on the part of Hamish, what they took for
vexation at his brother's position. It was suggested that it would save
time to take the evidence of Mr. Hamish Channing at once. Mr. Galloway's
might be received later.

"What evidence?" demanded Hamish, standing before the magistrates in
a cold, uncompromising manner, and speaking in a cold, uncompromising
tone. "I have none to give. I know nothing of the affair."

"Not much, we are aware; but what little you do know must be spoken, Mr.
Hamish Channing."

They did not swear him. These were only informal, preliminary
proceedings. Country courts of law are not always conducted according to
orthodox rules, nor was that of Helstonleigh. There would be another
and a more formal examination before the committal of the prisoner for
trial--if committed he should be.

A few unimportant questions were put to Hamish, and then he was asked
whether he saw the letter in question.

"I saw a letter which I suppose to have been the one," he replied. "It
was addressed to Mr. Robert Galloway, at Ventnor."

"Did you observe your brother take it into Mr. Galloway's private room?"

"Yes," answered Hamish. "In putting the desks straight before departing
for college, my brother carried the letter into Mr. Galloway's room and
left it there. I distinctly remember his doing so."

"Did you see the letter after that?"

"No."

"How long did you remain alone while your brother was away?"

"I did not look at my watch," irritably returned Hamish, who had spoken
resentfully throughout, as if some great wrong were being inflicted upon
him in having to speak at all.

"But you can guess at the time?"

"No, I can't," shortly retorted Hamish. "And 'guesses' are not
evidence."

"Was it ten minutes?"

"It may have been. I know he seemed to be back almost as soon as he had
gone."

"Did any person--clerk, or stranger, or visitor, or otherwise--come into
the office during his absence from it?"

"No."

"No person whatever?"

"No person whatever. I think," continued Hamish, volunteering an opinion
upon the subject, although he knew it was out of all rule and precedent
to do so, "that there is a great deal of unprofitable fuss being made
about the matter. The money must have been lost in going through the
post; it is impossible to suppose otherwi--"

Hamish was stopped by a commotion. Clattering along the outer hall, and
bursting in at the court door, his black hair disordered, his usually
pale cheeks scarlet, his nostrils working with excitement, came Roland
Yorke. He was in a state of fierce emotion. Learning, as he had done by
accident, that Arthur had been arrested upon the charge, he took up the
cause hotly, gave vent to a burst of passionate indignation (in which
he abused every one under the sun, except Arthur), and tore off to
the town-hall. Elbowing the crowd right and left, in his impetuosity,
pushing one policeman here and another there, who would have obstructed
his path, he came up to Arthur and ranged himself by his side, linking
his arm within his in an outburst of kindly generosity.

"Old fellow, who has done this?"

"Mr. Roland Yorke!" exclaimed the bench, indignantly. "What do you mean
by this behaviour? Stand away, if you please, sir."

"I'll stand away when Arthur Channing stands away," retorted Yorke,
apparently ignoring whose presence he was in. "Who accuses him? Mr.
Galloway does not. This is your doing, Butterby."

"Take care that their worships don't commit you for contempt of court,"
retorted Mr. Butterby. "You are going on for it, Roland Yorke."

"Let them commit me, if they will," foamed Roland. "I am not going to
see a friend falsely accused, and not stand up for him. Channing no more
touched that money than any of you did. The post-office must have had
it."

"A moment, Mr. Roland Yorke: if you can calm yourself sufficiently to
answer as a rational being," interposed the magistrate who had addressed
Arthur. "Have you any proof to urge in support of your assertion that
the prisoner did not touch it?"

"Proof, sir!" returned Roland, subsiding, however, into a tone of
more respect: "does it want proof to establish the innocence of Arthur
Channing? Every action of his past life is proof. He is honest as the
day."

"This warm feeling does you credit, in one sense--"

"It does me no credit at all," fiercely interrupted Roland. "I don't
defend him because he is my friend; I don't defend him because we are in
the same office, and sit side by side at the same desk; I do it, because
I know him to be innocent."

"How do you know it?"

"He _could_ not be guilty. He is incapable of it. Better accuse me, or
Jenkins, than accuse him!"

"You and Jenkins were not at the office during the suspected time."

"Well, I know we were not," acknowledged Roland, lowering his voice to
a more reasonable tone. "And, just because it happened, by some
cross-grained luck, that Channing was, Butterby pitches upon him, and
accuses him of the theft. He never did it! and I'll say it with my last
breath."

With some trouble: threatenings on the part of the court, and more
explosions from himself: Mr. Roland Yorke was persuaded to retire.
He went as far as the back of the room, and there indulged in
under-currents of wrath, touching injustice and Mr. Butterby, to a
select circle who gathered round him. Warm-hearted and generous, by fits
and starts, was Roland Yorke; he had inherited it with his Irish blood
from Lady Augusta.

But meanwhile, where was Mr. Galloway? He did not make his appearance,
and it was said he could not be found. Messenger after messenger was
despatched to his office, to his house; and at length Mr. Butterby went
himself. All in vain; his servants knew nothing about him. Jenkins, who
had the office to himself, thought he must be "somewhere in the town,"
as he had not said he was going out of it. Mr. Butterby went back
crest-fallen, and confessed that, not to take up longer the time of
their worships unnecessarily, the case must be remanded to the morrow.

"We will take bail," said the magistrates, before the application was
made. "One surety will be sufficient; fifty pounds."

At that, Mr. Roland, who by this time was standing in a sullen manner
against a pillar of the court, his violence gone, and biting his nails
moodily, made a rush to the front again, heeding little who he knocked
down in the process. "I'll be bail," he cried eagerly. "That is, Lady
Augusta will--as I am not a householder. I'll hunt her up and bring her
here."

He was turning in impetuous haste to "hunt up" Lady Augusta, when Hamish
Channing imperatively waved to him to be still, and spoke to the bench.

"My father's security will be sufficient, I presume?"

"Quite so."

Since Mr. Channing's incapacity, power to sign and to act for him had
been vested in Hamish; and the matter was concluded at once. The court
poured out its crowd. Hamish was on the point of taking Arthur's arm,
but was pushed aside by Roland Yorke, who seized upon it as if he could
never make enough of him.

"The miserable idiots! to bring such a charge against you, Arthur! I
have been half mad ever since I heard of it."

"Thank you, Yorke. You are very kind--"

"'Kind!' Don't talk that school-girl rubbish!" passionately interrupted
Roland. "If I were taken up upon a false charge, wouldn't you stand by
me?"

"That I would; were it false or true."

"I'll pay that Butterby out, if it's ten years hence! And you, knowing
your own innocence, could stand before them there, meek-faced as a
tame cat, letting Butterby and the bench have it their own way! A
calm temper, such as yours, Arthur, may be very--what do they call
it?--Christian; but I'm blest if it's useful! I should have made their
ears tingle, had they put me there, as they have not tingled for many a
day."

"Who do you suppose took the note?" inquired Hamish of Roland Yorke,
speaking for the first time.

"Bother the note!" was the rejoinder of Mr. Roland. "It's nothing to us
who took it. Arthur didn't. Go and ask the post-office."

"But the seal?" Hamish was beginning in a friendly tone of argument.
Roland bore him down.

"Who cares for the seal? I don't. If Galloway had stuck himself upon
the letter, instead of his seal, and never got off till it reached the
cousin Galloway's hand, I wouldn't care. It tells nothing. Do you _want_
to find your brother guilty?" he continued, in a tone of scorn. "You did
not half stand up for him, Hamish Channing, as I'd expect a brother
to stand up for me. Now then, you people! Are you thinking we are live
kangaroos escaped from a menagerie? Be off about your own business!
Don't come after us."

The last was addressed to a crowd, who had followed upon their heels
from the court, staring, with that innate delicacy for which the English
are remarkable. They had seen Arthur Channing a thousand times before,
every one of them, but, as he had been arrested, they must look at him
again. Yorke's scornful reproach and fierce face somewhat scattered
them.

"If it had been Galloway's doings, I'd never have put my foot inside
his confounded old office again!" went on Roland. "No! and my lady might
have tried her best to force me. Lugging a fellow up for a pitiful,
paltry sum of twenty pounds!--who is as much a gentleman as
himself!--who, as his own senses might tell him, wouldn't touch it
with the end of his finger! But it was that Butterby's handiwork, not
Galloway's."

"Galloway must have given Butterby his instructions," observed Hamish.

"He didn't, then," snapped Roland. "Jenkins says he knows he did not,
by the remarks Galloway made to him this morning. And Galloway has been
away ever since eleven o'clock, we can't tell where. It is nobody but
that evil, mischief-making Butterby, and I'd give a crown out of my
pocket to have a good duck at him in the river!"

With regard to Mr. Galloway's knowing nothing of the active proceedings
taken against Arthur, Roland was right. Mr. Butterby had despatched a
note to Mr. Galloway's office at one o'clock, stating what he had done,
and requesting him to be at the office at two, for the examination--and
the note had been lying there ever since.

It was being opened now. Now--at the exact moment that Mr. Roland Yorke
was giving vent to that friendly little wish, about the river and Mr.
Butterby. Mr. Galloway had met a friend in the town, and had gone with
him a few miles by rail into the country, on unexpected business. He had
just returned to find the note, and to hear Jenkins' account of Arthur's
arrest.

"I am vexed at this," he exclaimed, his tone betraying excessive
annoyance. "Butterby has exceeded his orders."

Jenkins thought he might venture to put in a word for Arthur. He had
been intensely surprised, indeed grieved, at the whole affair; and not
the less so that he feared what he had unconsciously repeated, about a
twenty-pound note paying Arthur's debts, might have helped it on.

"I feel as sure as can be, sir, that it was not Mr. Arthur Channing,"
he deferentially said. "I have not been in this office with him for more
than twelve months without learning something of his principles."

"The principles of all the Channings are well known," returned Mr.
Galloway. "No; whatever may be the apparent proofs, I cannot bring
myself to think it could be Arthur Channing. Although--" Mr. Galloway
did not say although _what_, but changed the topic abruptly. "Are they
in court now?"

"I expect so, sir. Mr. Yorke is not back yet."

Mr. Galloway walked to the outer door, deliberating what his course
should be. The affair grieved him more than he could express; it angered
him; chiefly for his old friend Mr. Channing's sake. "I had better go up
to the Guildhall," he soliloquized, "and see if--"

There they were, turning the corner of the street; Roland Yorke, Hamish,
and Arthur; and the followers behind. Mr. Galloway waited till they came
up. Hamish did not enter, or stop, but went straight home. "They will
be so anxious for news," he exclaimed. Not a word had been exchanged
between the brothers. "No wonder that he shuns coming in!" thought
Arthur. Roland Yorke threw his hat from him in silence, and sat down
in his place at the desk. Mr. Galloway touched Arthur with his finger,
motioned him towards the private room, and stood there facing him,
speaking gravely.

"Tell me the truth, as before God. Are you innocent or guilty? What you
say shall not be used against you."

Quick as lightning, in all solemn earnestness, the word "innocent"
was on Arthur's lips. It had been better for him, perhaps, that he had
spoken it. But, alas! that perplexity, as to how far he might venture to
assert his own innocence, was upon him still. What impression could this
hesitation, coupled with the suspicious circumstances, make upon the
mind of Mr. Galloway?

"Have you _no_ answer?" emphatically asked Mr. Galloway.

"I am not guilty, sir."

Meanwhile, what do you suppose were the sensations of Mr. Channing? We
all know that anguish of mind is far more painful to bear when the
body is quiescent, than when it is in motion. In any great trouble, any
terrible suspense, look at our sleepless nights! We lie, and toss, and
turn; and say, When will the night be gone? In the day we can partially
shake it off, walking hither and thither; the keenness of the anguish is
lost in exertion.

Mr. Channing could not take this exertion. Lying there always, his days
were little better to him than nights, and this strange blow, which had
fallen so suddenly and unexpectedly, nearly overwhelmed him. Until that
afternoon he would have confidently said that his son might have been
trusted with a room full of untold gold. He would have said it still,
but for Arthur's manner: it was that which staggered him. More than one
urgent message had been despatched for Mr. Galloway, but that gentleman
was unable to go to him until late in the evening.

"My friend," said Mr. Galloway, bending over the sofa, when they were
alone, "I am more grieved at this than you can be."

Mr. Channing clasped his hand. "Tell me what you think yourself; the
simple truth; I ask it, Galloway, by our long friendship. Do you think
him innocent or guilty?"

There might be no subterfuge in answer to words so earnest, and Mr.
Galloway did not attempt any. He bent lower, and spoke in a whisper. "I
believe him to be guilty."

Mr. Channing closed his eyes, and his lips momentarily moved. A word of
prayer, to be helped _to bear_, was going up to the throne of God.

"But, never think that it was I who instituted these proceedings against
him," resumed Mr. Galloway. "When I called in Butterby to my aid this
morning, I had no more notion that it was Arthur Channing who was
guilty, than I had that it was that sofa of yours. Butterby would have
cast suspicion to him then, but I repelled it. He afterwards acted upon
his own responsibility while my back was turned. It is as I say often
to my office people: I can't stir out for a few hours but something goes
wrong! You know the details of the loss?"

"Ay; by heart," replied Mr. Channing. "They are suspicious against
Arthur only in so far as that he was alone with the letter. Sufficient
time must have been taken, as I conclude, to wet the envelope and
unfasten the gum; and it would appear that he alone had that time. This
apparent suspicion would have been nothing to my mind, knowing Arthur as
I do, had it not been coupled with a suspicious manner."

"There it is," assented Mr. Galloway, warmly. "It is that manner
which leaves no room for doubt. I had him with me privately when the
examination was over, and begged him to tell me, as before God: innocent
or guilty. He could not. He stood like a statue, confused, his eyes
down, and his colour varying. He is badly constituted for the commission
of crime, for he cannot brave it out. One, knowing himself wrongfully
accused, would lay his hand upon his heart, with an upright countenance,
and say, I am innocent of this, so help me Heaven! I must confess I did
not like his manner yesterday, when he heard me say I should place it
in the hands of the police," continued Mr. Galloway. "He grew suddenly
agitated, and begged I would not do so."

"Ay!" cried Mr. Channing, with a groan of pain he could not wholly
suppress. "It is an incredible mystery. What could he want with the
money? The tale told about his having debts has no foundation in fact;
he has positively none."

Mr. Galloway shook his head; he would not speak out his thoughts. He
knew that Hamish was in debt; he knew that Master Roland Yorke indulged
in expensive habits whenever he had the opportunity, and he now thought
it likely that Arthur, between the two examples, might have been drawn
in. "I shall not allow my doubts of him to go further than you," he said
aloud. "And I shall put a summary stop to the law proceedings."

"How will you do that, now that they are publicly entered upon?" asked
Mr. Channing.

"I'll manage it," was the reply. "We'll see which is strongest, I or
Butterby."

When they were gathering together for the reading, that night, Arthur
took his place as usual. Mr. Channing looked at him sternly, and spoke
sternly--in the presence of them all. "Will your conscience allow you to
join in this?"

How it stung him! Knowing himself innocent; seeing Hamish, the real
culprit, basking there in their love and respect, as usual; the
unmerited obloquy cast upon him was almost too painful to bear. He did
not answer; he was battling down his rebellious spirit; and the gentle
voice of Mrs. Channing rose instead.

"James, there is all the more need for him to join in it, if things are
as you fear." And Mr. Channing applied himself to the reading.

"My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for
temptation. Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and make not
haste in time of trouble."

It was a portion of Scripture rarely chosen, and, perhaps for that
reason, it fell upon Arthur with greater force. As he listened, the
words brought healing with them; and his sore spirit was soothed, and
grew trusting and peaceful as that of a little child.



CHAPTER XXV.


A MORNING CALL.

You may possibly be blaming Arthur Channing for meeting this trouble
in so sad a spirit. Were such an accusation cast unjustly upon you,
you would throw it off impatiently, and stand up for yourself and your
innocence in the broad light of day. Even were you debarred, as he was,
from speaking out the whole truth, you would never be cast down to that
desponding depth, and thereby give a colouring to the doubt cast upon
you. Are you thinking this? But you must remember that it was not
for _himself_ that Arthur was so weighed down. Had he possessed no
conception as to how the note went, he would have met the charge very
differently, bearing himself bravely, and flinging their suspicion to
the winds. "You people cannot think _me_ guilty," he might have said;
"my whole previous life is a refutation to the charge." He would have
held up his head and heart cheerfully; waiting, and looking for the time
when elucidation should come.

No; his grief, his despondency were felt for Hamish. If Arthur Channing
had cherished faith in one living being more than in another, it was in
his elder brother. He loved him with a lasting love, he revered him as
few revere a brother; and the shock was great. He would far rather have
fallen down to guilt himself, than that Hamish should have fallen. Tom
Channing had said, with reference to Arthur, that, if he were guilty,
he should never believe in anything again; they might tell him that
the cathedral was a myth, and not a cathedral, and he should not be
surprised. This sort of feeling had come over Arthur. It had disturbed
his faith in honour and goodness--it had almost disgusted him with the
world. Arthur Channing is not the only one who has found his faith in
fellow-men rudely shaken.

And yet, the first shock over, his mind was busy finding excuses for
him. He knew that Hamish had not erred from any base self-gratification,
but from love. You may be inclined to think this a contradiction, for
all such promptings to crime must be base. Of course they are; but as
the motives differ, so do the degrees. As surely as though the whole
matter had been laid before him, felt Arthur, Hamish had been driven
to it in his desperate need, to save his father's position, and the
family's means of support. He felt that, had Hamish alone been in
question, he would not have appropriated a pin that was not his, to save
himself from arrest: what he had done he had done in love. Arthur gave
him credit for another thing--that he had never cast a glance to the
possibility of suspicion falling on Arthur; the post-office would
receive credit for the loss. Nothing more tangible than that wide field,
where they might hunt for the supposed thief until they were tired.

It was a miserable evening that followed the exposure; the precursor of
many and many miserable evenings in days to come. Mr. and Mrs. Channing,
Hamish, Constance, and Arthur sat in the usual sitting-room when
the rest had retired--sat in ominous silence. Even Hamish, with his
naturally sunny face and sunny temper, looked gloomy as the grave. Was
he deliberating as to whether he should show that all principles of
manly justice were not quite dead within him, by speaking up at last,
and clearing his wrongfully accused brother? But then--his father's
post--his mother's home? all might be forfeited. Who can tell
whether this was the purport of Hamish's thoughts as he sat there in
abstraction, away from the light, his head upon his hand. _He_ did not
say.

Arthur rose; the silence was telling upon him. "May I say good night to
you, father?"

"Have you nothing else to say?" asked Mr. Channing.

"In what way, sir?" asked Arthur, in a low tone.

"In the way of explanation. Will you leave me to go to my restless
pillow without it? This is the first estrangement which has come between
us."

What explanation _could_ he give? But to leave his father suffering in
body and in mind, without attempt at it, was a pain hard to bear.

"Father, I am innocent," he said. It was all he could say; and it was
spoken all too quietly.

Mr. Channing gazed at him searchingly. "In the teeth of appearances?"

"Yes, sir, in the teeth of appearances."

"Then why--if I am to believe you--have assumed the aspect of guilt,
which you certainly have done?"

Arthur involuntarily glanced at Hamish; the thought of his heart was,
"_You_ know why, if no one else does;" and caught Hamish looking at him
stealthily, under cover of his fingers. Apparently, Hamish was annoyed
at being so caught, and started up.

"Good night, mother. I am going to bed."

They wished him good night, and he left the room. Mr. Channing turned
again to Arthur. He took his hand, and spoke with agitation. "My boy,
do you know that I would almost rather have died, than live to see this
guilt fall upon you?"

"Oh, father, don't judge me harshly!" he implored. "Indeed I am
innocent."

Mr. Channing paused. "Arthur, you never, as I believe, told me a lie in
your life. What is this puzzle?"

"I am not telling a lie now."

"I am tempted to believe you. But why, then, act as if you were guilty?
When those men came here to-day, you knew what they wanted; you resigned
yourself, voluntarily, a prisoner. When Mr. Galloway questioned you
privately of your innocence, you could not assert it."

Neither could he now in a more open way than he was doing.

"Can you look me in the face and tell me, in all honour, that you know
nothing of the loss of the note?"

"All I can say, sir, is, that I did not take it or touch it."

"Nay, but you are equivocating!" exclaimed Mr. Channing.

Arthur felt that he was, in some measure, and did not gainsay it.

"Are you aware that to-morrow you may be committed for trial on the
charge?"

"I know it," replied Arthur. "Unless--unless--" he stopped in agitation.
"Unless you will interest yourself with Galloway, and induce him to
withdraw proceedings. Your friendship with him has been close and long,
sir, and I think he would do it for you."

"Would you ask this if you were innocent?" said Mr. Channing. "Arthur,
it is not the punishment you ought to dread, but the consciousness of
meriting it."

"And of that I am not conscious," he answered, emphatically, in his
bitterness. "Father! I would lay down my life to shield you from care!
think of me as favourably as you can."

"You will not make me your full confidant?"

"I wish I could! I _wish_ I could!"

He wrung his father's hand, and turned to his mother, halting before
her. Would she give him her good-night kiss?

Would she? Did a fond mother ever turn against her child? To the prison,
to the scaffold, down to the very depths of obloquy and scorn, a loving
mother clings to her son. All else may forsake; but she, never, be he
what he will. Mrs. Channing drew his face to hers, and burst into sobs
as she sheltered it on her bosom.

"_You_ will have faith in me, my darling mother!"

The words were spoken in the softest whisper. He kissed her tenderly,
and hastened from the room, not trusting himself to say good night to
Constance. In the hall he was waylaid by Judith.

"Master Arthur, it isn't true?"

"Of course it is not true, Judith. Don't you know me better?"

"What an old oaf I am for asking, to be sure! Didn't I nurse him, and
haven't I watched him grow up, and don't I know my own boys yet?" she
added to herself, but speaking aloud.

"To be sure you have, Judy."

"But, Master Arthur, why is the master casting blame to you? And when
them insolent police came strutting here to-day, as large as life, in
their ugly blue coats and shiny hats, why didn't you hold the door wide,
and show 'em out again? I'd never have demeaned myself to go with 'em
politely."

"They wanted me at the town-hall, you know, Judith. I suppose you have
heard it all?"

"Then, want should have been their master, for me," retorted Judith.
"I'd never have gone, unless they had got a cord and drawn me. I
shouldn't wonder but they fingered the money themselves."

Arthur made his escape, and went up to his room. He was scarcely
within it when Hamish left his chamber and came in. Arthur's heart beat
quicker. Was he coming to make a clean breast of it? Not he!

"Arthur," Hamish began, speaking in a kindly, but an estranged tone--or
else Arthur fancied it--"can I serve you in any way in this business?"

"Of course you cannot," replied Arthur: and he felt vexed with himself
that his tone should savour of peevishness.

"I am sorry for it, as you may readily believe, old fellow," resumed
Hamish. "When I entered the court to-day, you might have knocked me down
with a feather."

"Ay, I should suppose so," said Arthur. "You did not expect the charge
would be brought upon me."

"I neither expected it nor believed it when I was told. I inquired of
Parkes, the beadle, what unusual thing was going on, seeing so many
people about the doors, and he answered that you were under examination.
I laughed at him, thinking he was joking."

Arthur made no reply.

"What can I do for you?" repeated Hamish.

"You can leave me to myself, Hamish. That's about the kindest thing you
can do for me to-night."

Hamish did not take the hint immediately. "We must have the accusation
quashed at all hazards," he went on. "But my father thinks Galloway
will withdraw it. Yorke says he'll not leave a stone unturned to make
Helstonleigh believe the money was lost in the post-office."

"Yorke believes so himself," reproachfully rejoined Arthur.

"I think most people do, with the exception of Butterby. Confounded old
meddler! There would have been no outcry at all, but for him."

A pause. Arthur did not seem inclined to break it. Hamish had caught up
a bit of whalebone, which happened to be lying on the drawers, and was
twisting it about in his fingers, glancing at Arthur from time to time.
Arthur leaned against the chimneypiece, his hands in his pockets, and,
in like manner, glanced at him. Not the slightest doubt in the world
that each was wishing to speak out more freely. But some inward feeling
restrained them. Hamish broke the silence.

"Then you have nothing to say to me, Arthur?"

"Not to-night."

Arthur thought the "saying" should have been on the other side. He had
cherished some faint hope that Hamish would at least _acknowledge_ the
trouble he had brought upon him. "I could not help it, Arthur; I was
driven to my wit's end; but I never thought the reproach would fall upon
you," or words to that effect. No: nothing of the sort.

Constance was ascending the stairs as Hamish withdrew. "Can I come in,
Arthur?" she asked.

For answer, he opened the door and drew her inside. "Has Hamish spoken
of it?" she whispered.

"Not a word--as to his own share in it. He asked, in a general way, if
he could serve me. Constance," he feverishly added, "they do not suspect
downstairs, do they?"

"Suspect what?"

"That it was Hamish."

"Of course they do not. They suspect you. At least, papa does. He cannot
make it out; he never was so puzzled in all his life. He says you must
either have taken the money, or connived at its being taken: to believe
otherwise, would render your manner perfectly inexplicable. Oh, Arthur,
he is so grieving! He says other troubles have arisen without fault on
our part; but this, the greatest, has been brought by guilt."

"There is no help for it," wailed Arthur. "I could only clear myself at
the expense of Hamish, and it would be worse for them to grieve for him
than for me. Bright, sunny Hamish! whom my mother has, I believe in her
heart, loved the best of all of us. Thank you, Constance, for keeping my
counsel."

"How unselfish you are, Arthur!"

"Unselfish! I don't see it as a merit. It is my simple duty to be so in
this case. If I, by a rash word, directed suspicion to Hamish, and our
home in consequence got broken up, who would be the selfish one then?"

"There's the consideration which frightens and fetters us. Papa must
have been thinking of that when he thanked God that the trouble had not
fallen upon Hamish."

"Did he do that?" asked Arthur, eagerly.

"Yes, just now. 'Thank God that the cloud did not fall upon Hamish!' he
exclaimed. 'It had been far worse for us then.'"

Arthur listened. Had he wanted anything to confirm him in the sacrifice
he was making, those words of his father's would have done it. Mr.
Channing had no greater regard for one son than for the other; but he
knew, as well as his children, how much depended upon Hamish.

The tears were welling up into the eyes of Constance. "I wish I could
speak comfort to you!" she whispered.

"Comfort will come with time, I dare say, darling. Don't stay. I seem
quite fagged out to-night, and would be alone."

Ay, alone. Alone with his grief and with God.

To bed at last, but not to sleep; not for hours and for hours. His
anxiety of mind was intense, chiefly for Hamish; though he endured some
on his own score. To be pointed at as a thief in the town, stung him to
the quick, even in anticipation; and there was also the uncertainty
as to the morrow's proceedings; for all he knew, they might end in
the prosecution being carried on, and his committal for trial. Towards
morning he dropped into a heavy slumber; and, to awake from that, was
the worst of all; for his trouble came pressing upon his brain with
tenfold poignancy.

He rose and dressed, in some perplexity--perplexity as to the immediate
present. Ought he, or ought he not, to go as usual to Mr. Galloway's?
He really could not tell. If Mr. Galloway believed him guilty--and there
was little doubt of that, now--of course he could no longer be tolerated
in the office. On the other hand, to stop away voluntarily, might look
like an admission of guilt.

He determined to go, and did so. It was the early morning hour, when
he had the office to himself. He got through his work--the copying of
a somewhat elaborate will--and returned home to breakfast. He found Mr.
Channing had risen, which was not usual. Like Arthur, his night had been
an anxious one, and the bustle of the breakfast-room was more
tolerable than bed. I wonder what Hamish's had been! The meal passed in
uncomfortable silence.

A tremendous peal at the hall bell startled the house, echoing through
the Boundaries, astonishing the rooks, and sending them on the wing.
On state occasions it pleased Judith to answer the door herself; her
helpmate, over whom she held undisputed sway, ruling her with a tight
hand, dared not come forward to attempt it. The bell tinkled still, and
Judy, believing it could be no one less than the bishop come to alarm
them with a matutinal visit, hurried on a clean white apron, and stepped
across the hall.

Mr. Roland Yorke. No one more formidable. He passed Judith with an
unceremonious nod, and marched into the breakfast-room.

"Good morning all! I say, old chap, are you ready to come to the office?
It's good to see you down at this early hour, Mr. Channing."

He was invited to take a seat, but declined; it was time they were at
Galloway's, he said. Arthur hesitated.

"I do not know whether Mr. Galloway will expect me," he observed.

"Not expect you!" flashed Roland, lapsing into his loud, excited manner.
"I can tell you what, Arthur: if he doesn't expect you, he shan't expect
me. Mr. Channing, did you ever know anything so shamefully overbearing
and unjust as that affair yesterday?"

"Unjust, if it be unfounded," replied Mr. Channing.

"Unfounded!" uttered Roland. "If that's not unfounded, there never was
an unfounded charge brought yet. I'd answer for Arthur with my own life.
I should like to sew up that Butterby! I hope, sir, you'll bring an
action against him."

"You feel it strongly, Roland."

"I should hope I do! Look you, Mr. Channing: it is a slur on our office;
on me, and on Jenkins, and on Galloway himself. Yes, on Galloway. I say
what I mean, and nobody shall talk me down. I'd rather believe it was
Galloway did it than Arthur. I shall tell him so."

"This sympathy shows very kind feeling on your part, Ro--"

"I declare I shall go mad if I hear that again!" interrupted Roland,
turning red with passion. "It makes me wild. Everybody's on with it.
'You--are--very--kind--to--take--up--Arthur Channing's--cause!' they
mince out. Incorrigible idiots! Kind! Why, Mr. Channing, if that cat of
yours there, were to be accused of swallowing down a mutton chop, and
you felt morally certain that she did not do it, wouldn't you stand up
for her against punishment?"

Mr. Channing could not forbear a smile at Roland and his hot
championship. "To be 'morally certain' may do when cats are in question,
Mr. Roland; but the law, unfortunately, requires something more for us,
the superior animal. No father living has had more cause to put faith in
his children than I. The unfortunate point in this business is, that the
loss appears to have occurred so mysteriously, when the letter was in
Arthur's charge."

"Yes, if it had occurred that way; but who believes it did, except a few
pates with shallow brains?" retorted Roland. "The note is burning a hole
in the pocket of some poor, ill-paid wight of a letter-carrier; that's
where the note is. I beg your pardon, Mr. Channing, but it's of no use
to interrupt me with arguments about old Galloway's seal. They go in
at one ear and out at the other. What more easy than to put a penknife
under the seal, and unfasten it?"

"You cannot do this where gum is used as well: as it was to that
letter."

"Who cares for the gum!" retorted Mr. Roland. "I don't pretend to say,
sir, how it was accomplished, but I know it must have been done somehow.
Watch a conjuror at his tricks! You can't _tell_ how he gets a shilling
out of a box which you yourself put in--all you know is, he does get it
out; or how he exhibits some receptacle, crammed full, which you could
have sworn was empty. Just so with the letter. The bank-note did get
out of it, but we can't tell how, except that it was not through Arthur.
Come along, old fellow, or Galloway may be blowing us up for arriving
late."

Twitching Tom's hair as he passed him, treading on the cat's tail, and
tossing a branch of sweetbriar full of thorns at Annabel, Mr. Roland
Yorke made his way out in a commotion. Arthur, yielding to the strong
will, followed. Roland passed his arm within his, and they went towards
Close Street.

"I say, old chum, I haven't had a wink of sleep all night, worrying
over this bother. My room is over Lady Augusta's, and she sent up this
morning to know what I was pacing about for, like a troubled ghost.
I woke at four o'clock, and I could not get to sleep after; so I just
stamped about a bit, to stamp the time away."

In a happier mood, Arthur might have laughed at his Irish talk, "I am
glad you stand by me, at any rate, Yorke. I never did it, you know.
Here comes Williams. I wonder in what light he will take up the affair?
Perhaps he will turn me from my post at the organ."

"He had better!" flashed Roland. "I'd turn him!"

Mr. Williams appeared to "take up the affair" in a resentful, haughty
sort of spirit, something like Roland, only that he was quieter over
it. He threw ridicule upon the charge. "I am astonished at Galloway!"
he observed, when he had spoken with them some moments. "Should he go on
with the case, the town will cry shame upon him."

"Ah, but you see it was that meddling Butterby, not Galloway," returned
Yorke. "As if Galloway did not know us chaps in his office better than
to suspect us!"

"I fancy Butterby is fonder of meddling than he need be," said the
organist. "A certain person in the town, living not a hundred miles from
this very spot, was suspected of having made free with a ring, which
disappeared from a dressing-table, where she was paying an evening
visit; and I declare if Butterby did not put his nose into it, and worm
out all the particulars!"

"That she had not taken it?"

"That she had. But it produced great annoyance; all parties concerned,
even those who had lost the ring, would rather have buried it in
silence. It was hushed up afterwards. Butterby ought to understand
people's wishes, before he sets to work."

"I wish press-gangs were in fashion!" emphatically uttered Roland. "What
a nice prize he'd make!"

"I suppose I can depend upon you to take the duty at College this
morning?" Mr. Williams said to Arthur, as he was leaving them.

"Yes, I shall be out in time for the examination at the Guildhall. The
hour fixed is half-past eleven."

"Old villains the magistrates must have been, to remand it at all!" was
the concluding comment of Mr. Roland Yorke.



CHAPTER XXVI.


CHECKMATED.

Constance Channing proceeded to her duties as usual at Lady Augusta
Yorke's. She drew her veil over her face, only to traverse the very
short way that conveyed her thither, for the sense of shame was strong
upon her; not shame for Arthur, but for Hamish. It had half broken
Constance's heart.

There are times in our every-day lives when all things seem to wear a
depressing aspect, turn which way we will. They were wearing it that
day to Constance. Apart from home troubles, she felt particularly
discouraged in the educational task she had undertaken. You heard the
promise made to her by Caroline Yorke, to be up and ready for her every
morning at seven. Caroline kept it for two mornings and then failed.
This morning and the previous morning Constance had been there at seven,
and returned home without seeing either of the children. Both were ready
for her when she entered now.

"How am I to deal with you?" she said to Caroline, in a sad but
affectionate tone. "I do not wish to force you to obey me; I would
prefer that you should do it cheerfully."

"It is tiresome to get up early," responded Caroline. "I can't wake when
Martha comes."

"Whether Martha goes to you at seven, or at eight, or at nine, she has
the same trouble to get you up."

"I don't see any good in getting up early," cried Caroline.

"Do you see any good in acquiring good habits, instead of bad ones?"
asked Constance.

"But, Miss Channing, why need we learn to get up early? We are ladies.
It's only the poor who need get up at unreasonable hours--those who have
their living to earn."

"Is it only the poor who are accountable to God for waste of time,
Caroline?"

Caroline paused. She did not like to give up her argument. "It's so very
low-lived to get up with the sun. I don't think real ladies ever do it."

"You think 'real ladies' wait until the sun has been up a few hours and
warmed the earth for them?"

"Y--es," said Caroline. But it was not spoken very readily, for she had
a suspicion that Miss Channing was laughing at her.

"May I ask where you have acquired your notions of 'real ladies,'
Caroline?"

Caroline pouted. "Don't you call Colonel Jolliffe's daughters ladies,
Miss Channing?"

"Yes--in position."

"That's where we went yesterday, you know. Mary Jolliffe says she never
gets up until half-past eight, and that it is not lady-like to get up
earlier. Real ladies don't, Miss Channing."

"My dear, shall I relate to you an anecdote that I have heard?"

"Oh, yes!" replied Caroline, her listless mood changing to animation;
anecdotes, or anything of that desultory kind, being far more acceptable
to the young lady than lessons.

"Before I begin, will you tell me whether you condescend to admit that
our good Queen is a 'real lady'?"

"Oh, Miss Channing, now you are laughing at me! As if any one, in all
England, could be so great a lady as the Queen."

"Very good. When she was a little girl, a child of her own age, the
daughter of one of the nobility, was brought to Kensington Palace to
spend the day with her. In talking together, the Princess Victoria
mentioned something she had seen when out of doors that morning at seven
o'clock. 'At seven o'clock!' exclaimed the young visitor; 'how early
that is to be abroad! I never get out of bed until eight. Is there any
use in rising so early?' The Duchess of Kent, who was present, took up
the answer: 'My daughter may be called to fill the throne of England
when she shall be grown up; therefore, it is especially necessary
that she should learn the full value of time.' You see, Caroline, the
princess was not allowed to waste her mornings in bed, although she was
destined to be the first lady in the land. We may be thankful to her
admirable mother for making her in that, as in many other things, a
pattern to us."

"Is it a true anecdote, Miss Channing?"

"It was related to my mother, many years ago, by a lady who was, at that
time, very much at Kensington Palace. I think there is little doubt of
its truth. One fact we all know, Caroline: the Queen retains her early
habits, and implants them in her children. What do you suppose would
be her Majesty's surprise, were one of her daughters--say, the Princess
Helena, or the Princess Louise--to decline to rise early for their
morning studies with their governess, Miss Hildyard, on the plea that it
was not 'lady-like'?"

Caroline's objection appeared to be melting away under her. "But it is a
dreadful plague," she grumbled, "to be obliged to get up from one's nice
warm bed, for the sake of some horrid old lessons!"

"You spoke of 'the poor'--those who 'have their living to earn'--as the
only class who need rise early," resumed Constance. "Put that notion
away from you at once and for ever, Caroline; there cannot be a more
false one. The higher we go in the scale of life, the more onerous
become our duties in this world, and the greater is our responsibility
to God. He to whom five talents were intrusted, did not make them other
five by wasting his days in idleness. Oh, Caroline!--Fanny, come
closer and listen to me--your time and opportunities for good must be
_used_--not abused or wasted."

"I _will_ try and get up," said Caroline, repentantly. "I wish mamma had
trained me to it when I was a child, as the Duchess of Kent trained the
princess! I might have learned to like it by this time."

"Long before this," said Constance. "Do you remember the good old
saying, 'Do what you ought, that you may do what you like'? Habit is
second nature. Were I told that I might lie in bed every morning until
nine or ten o'clock, as a great favour, I should consider it a great
punishment."

"But I have not been trained to get up, Miss Channing; and it is nothing
short of punishment to me to do so."

"The punishment of self-denial we all have to bear, Caroline. But I can
tell you what will take away half its sting."

"What?" asked Caroline, eagerly.

Constance bent towards her. "Jesus Christ said, 'If any will come after
me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'
When once we learn HOW to take it up cheerfully, bravely, for His sake,
looking to Him to be helped, the sting is gone. 'No cross, no crown,'
you know, my children."

"No cross, no crown!" Constance had sufficient cross to carry just
then. In the course of the morning Lady Augusta came into the room
boisterously, her manner indicative of great surprise.

"Miss Channing, what _is_ this tale, about your brother's having been
arrested for stealing that missing bank-note? Some visitors have just
called in upon me, and they say the town is ringing with the news."

It was one of the first of Constance Channing's bitter pills; they were
to be her portion for many a day. Her heart fluttered, her cheek varied,
and her answer to Lady Augusta Yorke was low and timid.

"It is true that he was arrested yesterday on suspicion."

"What a shocking thing! Is he in prison?"

"Oh no."

"Did he take the note?"

The question pained Constance worse than all. "He did not take it," she
replied, in a clear, soft tone. "To those who know Arthur well, it would
be impossible to think so."

"But he was before the magistrates yesterday, I hear, and is going up
again to-day."

"Yes, that is so."

"And Roland could not open his lips to tell me of this when I came home
last night!" grumbled my lady. "We were late, and he was the only one
up; Gerald and Tod were in bed. I shall ask him why he did not. But,
Miss Channing, this must be a dreadful blow for you all?"

"It would be far worse, Lady Augusta, if we believed him guilty," she
replied from her aching heart.

"Oh, dear! I hope he is not guilty!" continued my lady, displaying as
little delicacy of feeling as she could well do. "It would be quite a
dangerous thing, you know, for my Roland to be in the same office."

"Be at ease, Lady Augusta," returned Constance, with a tinge of irony
she could not wholly suppress. "Your son will incur no harm from the
companionship of Arthur."

"What does Hamish say?--handsome Hamish! He does not deserve that such a
blow should come to him."

Constance felt her colour deepen. She bent her face over the exercise
she was correcting.

"Is he likely to be cleared of the charge?" perseveringly resumed Lady
Augusta.

"Not by actual proof, I fear," answered Constance, pressing her hand
upon her brow as she remembered that he could only be proved innocent by
another's being proved guilty. "The note seems to have been lost in so
very mysterious a manner, that positive proof of his innocence will be
difficult."

"Well, it is a dreadful thing!" concluded Lady Augusta.

Meanwhile, at the very moment her ladyship was speaking, the magistrates
were in the town-hall in full conclave--the case before them. The news
had spread--had excited interest far and wide; the bench was crowded,
and the court was one dense sea of heads.

Arthur appeared, escorted by his brother Hamish and by Roland Yorke.
Roland was in high feather, throwing his haughty glances everywhere, for
he had an inkling of what was to be the termination of the affair, and
did not conceal his triumph. Mr. Galloway also was of their party.

Mr. Galloway was the first witness put forth by Mr. Butterby. The latter
gentleman was in high feather also, believing he saw his way clear to a
triumphant conviction. Mr. Galloway was questioned; and for some minutes
it all went on swimmingly.

"On the afternoon of the loss, before you closed your letter, who were
in your office?"

"My clerks--Roland Yorke and Arthur Channing."

"They saw the letter, I believe?"

"They did."

"And the bank-note?"

"Most probably."

"It was the prisoner, Arthur Channing, who fetched the bank-note from
your private room to the other? Did he see you put it into the letter?"

"I cannot say."

A halt. "But he was in full possession of his eyes just then?"

"No doubt he was."

"Then what should hinder his seeing you put the note into the letter?"

"I will not swear that I put the note into the letter."

The magistrates pricked up their ears. Mr. Butterby pricked up his, and
looked at the witness.

"What do you say?"

"I will not swear that I put the bank-note inside the letter,"
deliberately repeated Mr. Galloway.

"Not swear that you put the bank-note into the letter? What is it that
you mean?"

"The meaning is plain enough," replied Mr. Galloway, calmly. "Must I
repeat it for the third time? I will not swear that I put the note into
the letter."

"But your instructions to me were that you did put the note into the
letter," cried Mr. Butterby, interrupting the examination.

"I will not swear it," reiterated the witness.

"Then there's an end of the case!" exclaimed the magistrates' clerk, in
some choler. "What on earth was the time of the bench taken up for in
bringing it here?"

And there _was_ an end of the case--at any rate for the present--for
nothing more satisfactory could be got out of Mr. Galloway.

"I have been checkmated," ejaculated the angry Butterby.

They walked back arm-in-arm to Mr. Galloway's, Roland and Arthur.
Hamish went the other way, to his own office, and Mr. Galloway
lingered somewhere behind. Jenkins--truehearted Jenkins, in the black
handkerchief still--was doubly respectful to Arthur, and rose to welcome
him; a faint hectic of pleasure illumining his face at the termination
of the charge.

"Who said our office was going to be put down for a thief's!" uttered
Roland. "Old Galloway's a trump! Here's your place, Arthur."

Arthur did not take it. He had seen from the window the approach of Mr.
Galloway, and delicacy prevented his assuming his old post until bade to
do so. Mr. Galloway came in, and motioned him into his own room.

"Arthur Channing," he said, "I have acted leniently in this unpleasant
matter, for your father's sake; but, from my very heart, I believe you
to be guilty."

"I thank you, sir," Arthur said, "for that and all other kindness. I am
not as guilty as you think me. Do you wish me to leave?"

"If you can give me no better assurance of your innocence--if you can
give me no explanation of the peculiar and most unsatisfactory manner in
which you have met the charge--yes. To retain you here would be unjust
to my own interests, and unfair as regards Jenkins and Roland Yorke."

To give this explanation was impossible; neither dared Arthur assert
more emphatically his innocence. Once convince Mr. Galloway that he was
not the guilty party, and that gentleman would forthwith issue fresh
instructions to Butterby for the further investigation of the affair: of
this Arthur felt convinced. He could only be silent and remain under the
stigma.

"Then--I had better--you would wish me, perhaps--to go at once?"
hesitated Arthur.

"Yes," shortly replied Mr. Galloway.

He spoke a word of farewell, which Mr. Galloway replied to by a nod, and
went into the front office. There he began to collect together certain
trifles that belonged to him.

"What's that for?" asked Roland Yorke.

"I am going," he replied.

"Going!" roared Roland, jumping to his feet, and dashing down his pen
full of ink, with little regard to the deed he was copying. "Galloway
has never turned you off!"

"Yes, he has."

"Then I'll go too!" thundered Roland, who, truth to say, had flown into
an uncontrollable passion, startling Jenkins and arousing Mr. Galloway.
"I'll not stop in a place where that sort of injustice goes on! He'll be
turning me out next! Catch me stopping for it!"

"Are you taken crazy, Mr. Roland Yorke?"

The question proceeded from his master, who came forth to make it.
Roland turned to him, his temper unsubdued, and his colour rising.

"Channing never took the money, sir! It is not just to turn him away."

"Did you help him to take it, pray, that you identify yourself with
the affair so persistently and violently?" demanded Mr. Galloway, in a
cynical tone. And Roland answered with a hot and haughty word.

"If you cannot attend to your business a little better, you will get
your dismissal from me; you won't require to dismiss yourself," said Mr.
Galloway. "Sit down, sir, and go on with your work."

"And that's all the thanks a fellow gets for taking up a cause of
oppression!" muttered Mr. Roland Yorke, as he sullenly resumed his place
at the desk. "This is a precious world to live in!"



CHAPTER XXVII.


A PIECE OF PREFERMENT.

Before the nine days' wonder, which, you know, is said to be the
accompaniment of all marvels, had died away, Helstonleigh was fated
to be astonished by another piece of news of a different nature--the
preferment of the Reverend William Yorke.

A different preferment from what had been anticipated for him; otherwise
the news had been nothing extraordinary, for it is usual for the Dean
and Chapter to provide livings for their minor canons. In a fine, open
part of the town was a cluster of buildings, called Hazeldon's Charity,
so named from its founder Sir Thomas Hazeldon--a large, paved inclosure,
fenced in by iron railings, and a pair of iron gates. A chapel stood in
the midst. On either side, right and left, ran sixteen almshouses,
and at the end, opposite to the iron gates, stood the dwelling of the
chaplain to the charity, a fine residence, called Hazeldon House. This
preferment, worth three hundred a year, had been for some weeks vacant,
the chaplain having died. It was in the gift of the present baronet,
Sir Frederick Hazeldon, a descendant of the founder, and he now suddenly
conferred it upon the Rev. William Yorke. It took Helstonleigh by
surprise. It took Mr. Yorke himself entirely by surprise. He possessed
no interest whatever with Sir Frederick, and had never cast a thought to
the probability of its becoming his. Perhaps, Sir Frederick's motive
for bestowing it upon him was this--that, of all the clergy in the
neighbourhood, looking out for something good to fall to them, Mr. Yorke
had been almost the only one who had not solicited it of Sir Frederick.

It was none the less welcome. It would not interfere in the least with
the duties or preferment of his minor canonry: a minor canon had once
before held it. In short, it was one of those slices of luck which do
sometimes come unexpectedly in this world.

In the soft light of the summer evening, Constance Channing stood under
the cedar-tree. A fine old tree was that, the pride of the Channings'
garden. The sun was setting in all its beauty; clouds of crimson and
purple floated on the horizon; a roseate hue tinged the atmosphere, and
lighted with its own loveliness the sweet face of Constance. It was an
evening that seemed to speak peace to the soul--so would it have spoken
to that of Constance, but for the ever-present trouble which had fallen
there.

Another trouble was falling upon her, or seemed to be; one that more
immediately concerned herself. Since the disgrace had come to Arthur,
Mr. Yorke had been less frequent in his visits. Some days had now
elapsed from the time of Arthur's dismissal from Mr. Galloway's, and
Mr. Yorke had called only once. This might have arisen from accidental
circumstances; but Constance felt a different fear in her heart.

Hark! that is his ring at the hall-bell. Constance has not listened for,
and loved that ring so long, to be mistaken now. Another minute, and she
hears those footsteps approaching, warming her life-blood, quickening
her pulses: her face deepens to crimson, as she turns it towards him.
She knows nothing yet of his appointment to the Hazeldon chaplaincy; Mr.
Yorke has not known it himself two hours.

He came up and laid his hands upon her shoulders playfully, looking
down at her. "What will you give me for some news, by way of greeting,
Constance?"

"News?" she answered, raising her eyes to his, and scarcely knowing what
she did say, in the confusion of meeting him, in her all-conscious love.
"Is it good or bad news?"

"Helstonleigh will not call it good, I expect. There are those upon whom
it will fall as a thunder-clap."

"Tell it me, William; I cannot guess," she said, somewhat wearily. "I
suppose it does not concern me."

"But it does concern you--indirectly."

Poor Constance, timorous and full of dread since this grief had fallen,
was too apt to connect everything with that one source. We have done
the same in our lives, all of us, when under the consciousness of
some secret terror. She appeared to be living upon a mine, which might
explode any hour and bring down Hamish in its _débris_. The words bore
an ominous sound; and, foolish as it may appear to us, who know the
nature of Mr. Yorke's news, Constance fell into something very like
terror, and turned white.

"Does--does--it concern Arthur?" she uttered.

"No. Constance," changing his tone, and dropping his hands as he gazed
at her, "why should you be so terrified for Arthur? You have been a
changed girl since that happened--shrinking, timid, starting at every
sound, unable to look people in the face. Why so, if he is innocent?"

She shivered inwardly, as was perceptible to the eyes of Mr. Yorke.
"Tell me the news," she answered in a low tone, "if, as you say, it
concerns me."

"I hope it will concern you, Constance. At any rate, it concerns me. The
news," he gravely added, "is, that I am appointed to the Hazeldon
chaplaincy."

"Oh, William!" The sudden revulsion of feeling from intense, undefined
terror to joyful surprise, was too much to bear calmly. Her emotion
overpowered her, and she burst into tears. Mr. Yorke compelled her to
sit down on the bench, and stood over her--his arm on her shoulder, her
hand clasped in his.

"Constance, what is the cause of this?" he asked, when her emotion had
passed.

She avoided the question. She dried her tears and schooled her face to
smiles, and tried to look as unconscious as she might. "Is it really
true that you have the chaplaincy?" she questioned.

"I received my appointment this evening. Why Sir Frederick should have
conferred it upon me I am unable to say: I feel all the more obliged to
him for its being unexpected. Shall you like the house, Constance?"

The rosy hue stole over her face again, and a happy smile parted her
lips. "I once said to mamma, when we had been spending the evening
there, that I should like to live at Hazeldon House. I like its rooms
and its situation; I shall like to be busy among all those poor old
people, but, when I said it, William, I had not the slightest idea that
the chance would ever be mine."

"You have only to determine now how soon the 'chance' shall become
certainty," he said. "I must take up my residence there within a month,
and I do not care how soon my wife takes up hers after that."

The rose grew deeper. She bent her brow down upon her hand and his,
hiding her face. "It could not possibly be, William."

"What could not be?"

"So soon. Papa and mamma are going to Germany, you know, and I must
keep house here. Besides, what would Lady Augusta say at my leaving her
situation almost as soon as I have entered upon it?"

"Lady Augusta--" Mr. Yorke was beginning impulsively, but checked
himself. Constance lifted her face and looked at him. His brow was knit,
and a stern expression had settled on it.

"What is it, William?"

"I want to know what caused your grief just now," was his abrupt
rejoinder. "And what is it that has made you appear so strange of late?"

The words fell on her as an ice-bolt. For a few brief moments she had
forgotten her fears, had revelled in the sunshine of the happiness so
suddenly laid out before her. Back came the gloom, the humiliation, the
terror.

"Had Arthur been guilty of the charge laid to him, and you were
cognizant of it, I could fancy that your manner would be precisely what
it is," answered Mr. Yorke.

Her heart beat wildly. He spoke in a reserved, haughty tone, and she
felt a foreboding that some unpleasant explanation was at hand. She
felt more--that perhaps she ought not to become his wife with this cloud
hanging over them. She nerved herself to say what she deemed she ought
to say.

"William," she began, "perhaps you would wish that our marriage should
be delayed until--until--I mean, now that this suspicion has fallen upon
Arthur--?"

She could scarcely utter the words coherently, so great was her
agitation. Mr. Yorke saw how white and trembling were her lips.

"I cannot believe Arthur guilty," was his reply.

She remembered that Hamish was, though Arthur was not; and in point of
disgrace, it amounted to the same thing. Constance passed her hand
over her perplexed brow. "He is looked upon as guilty by many: that,
we unfortunately know; and it may not be thought well that you should,
under the circumstance, make me your wife. _You_ may not think so."

Mr. Yorke made no reply. He may have been deliberating the question.

"Let us put it in this light, William," she resumed, her tone one of
intense pain. "Suppose, for argument's sake, that Arthur were guilty;
would you marry me, all the same?"

"It is a hard question, Constance," he said, after a pause.

"It must be answered."

"Were Arthur guilty and you cognizant of it--screening him--I should
lose half my confidence in you, Constance."

That was the knell. Her heart and her eyes alike fell, and she knew, in
that one moment, that all hope of marrying William Yorke was at an end.

"You think that, were he guilty--I am speaking only for argument's
sake," she breathed in her emotion,--"you think, were I cognizant of it,
I ought to betray him; to make it known to the world?"

"I do not say that, Constance. No. But you are my affianced wife; and,
whatever cognizance of the matter you might possess, whatever might be
the mystery attending it--and a mystery I believe there is--you should
repose the confidence and the mystery in me."

"That you might decide whether or not I am worthy to be your wife!" she
exclaimed, a flash of indignation lighting up her spirit. To doubt her!
She felt it keenly, Oh, that she could have told him the truth! But this
she dare not, for Hamish's sake.

He took her hand in his, and gazed searchingly into her face.
"Constance, you know what you are to me. This unhappy business has been
as great a trial to me as to you. Can you deny to me all knowledge of
its mystery, its guilt? I ask not whether Arthur be innocent or guilty;
I ask whether you are innocent of everything in the way of concealment.
Can you stand before me and assure me, in all truth, that you are so?"

She could not. "I believe in Arthur's innocence," she replied, in a low
tone.

So did Mr. Yorke, or he might not have rejoined as he did. "I believe
also in his innocence," he said. "Otherwise--"

"You would not make me your wife. Speak it without hesitation, William."

"Well--I cannot tell what my course would be. Perhaps, I would not."

A silence. Constance was feeling the avowal in all its bitter
humiliation. It seemed to humiliate _her_. "No, no; it would not be
right of him to make me his wife now," she reflected. "Hamish's disgrace
may come out any day; he may still be brought to trial for it. His
wife's brother! and he attached to the cathedral. No, it would never do.
William," she said, aloud, "we must part."

"Part?" echoed Mr. Yorke, as the words issued faintly from her trembling
lips.

Tears rose to her eyes; it was with difficulty she kept them from
falling. "I cannot become your wife while this cloud overhangs Arthur.
It would not be right."

"You say you believe in his innocence," was the reply of Mr. Yorke.

"I do. But the world does not. William," she continued, placing her
hand in his, while the tears rained freely down her face, "let us say
farewell now."

He drew her closer to him. "Explain this mystery, Constance. Why are you
not open with me? What has come between us?"

"I cannot explain," she sobbed. "There is nothing for us but to part."

"We will not part. Why should we, when you say Arthur is innocent, and I
believe him to be so? Constance, my darling, what is this grief?"

What were the words but a tacit admission that, if Arthur were not
innocent, they should part? Constance so interpreted them. Had any
additional weight been needed to strengthen her resolution, this would
have supplied it.

"Farewell! farewell, William! To remain with you is only prolonging the
pain of parting."

That her resolution to part was firm, he saw. It was his turn to be
angry now. A slight touch of the haughty Yorke temper was in him, and
there were times when it peeped out. He folded his arms, and the flush
left his countenance.

"I cannot understand you, Constance. I cannot fathom your motive, or why
you are doing this; unless it be that you never cared for me."

"I have cared for you as I never cared for any one; as I shall never
care for another. To part with you will be like parting with life."

"Then why speak of it? Be my wife, Constance; be my wife!"

"No, it might bring you disgrace," she hysterically answered; "and,
that, you shall never encounter through me. Do not keep me, William; my
resolution is irrevocable."

Sobbing as though her heart would break, she turned from him. Mr. Yorke
followed her indoors. In the hall stood Mrs. Channing. Constance turned
aside, anywhere, to hide her face from her mother's eye. Mrs. Channing
did not particularly observe her, and turned to accost Mr. Yorke. An
angry frown was on his brow, an angry weight on his spirit. Constance's
words and course of action had now fully impressed him with the belief
that Arthur was guilty; that she knew him to be so; and the proud Yorke
blood within him whispered that it was _well_ so to part. But he had
loved her with a deep and enduring love, and his heart ached bitterly.

"Will you come in and lend us your help in the discussion?" Mrs.
Channing said to him, with a smile. "We are carving out the plan for our
journey."

He bowed, and followed her into the sitting-room. He did not speak of
what had just occurred, leaving that to Constance, if she should choose
to give an explanation. It was not Mr. Yorke's place to say, "Constance
has given me up. She has impressed me with the conviction that Arthur
is guilty, and she says she will not bring disgrace upon me." No,
certainly; he could not tell them that.

Mr. Channing lay as usual on his sofa, Hamish near him. Gay Hamish,
who was looking as light-faced as ever; undoubtedly, he seemed as
light-hearted. Hamish had a book before him, a map, and a pencil. He was
tracing out the route for his father and mother, joking always.

After much anxious consideration, Mr. Channing had determined to proceed
at once to Germany. It is true that he could not well afford to do so;
and, before he heard from Dr. Lamb the very insignificant cost it
would prove, he had always put it from him, as wholly impracticable at
present. But the information given him by the doctor altered his
views, and he began to think it not only practicable, but feasible. His
children were giving much help now to meet home expenses--Constance,
in going to Lady Augusta's; Arthur, to the Cathedral. Dr. Lamb strongly
urged his going, and Mr. Channing himself knew that, if he could only
come home restored to health and to activity, the journey instead of
being an expense, would, in point of fact, prove an economy. With much
deliberation, with much prayer to be helped to a right decision, Mr.
Channing at length decided to go.

It was necessary to start at once, for the season was already advanced;
indeed, as Dr. Lamb observed, he ought to have been away a month ago.
Then all became bustle and preparation. Two or three days were wasted in
the unhappy business concerning Arthur. But all the grieving over that,
all the staying at home for it, could do no good; Mr. Channing was fain
to see this, and the preparations were hastened. Hamish was most active
in all--in urging the departure, in helping to pack, in carving out
their route: but always joking.

"Now, mind, mother, as you are to be commander in chief, it is the
_Antwerp_ packet you are to take," he was saying, in a serio-comic,
dictatorial manner. "Don't get seduced on to any indiscriminate steamer,
or you may find yourselves carried off to some unknown regions inhabited
by cannibals, and never be heard of again. The Antwerp steamer; and it
starts from St. Katherine's Docks--if you have the pleasure of knowing
that enchanting part of London. I made acquaintance with it in a fog, in
that sight-seeing visit I paid to town; and its beauty, I must confess,
did not impress me. From St. Katherine's Docks you will reach Antwerp in
about eighteen hours--always provided the ship does not go to pieces."

"Hamish!"

"Well, I won't anticipate: I dare say it is well caulked. At any rate,
take an insurance ticket against accident, and then you'll be all right.
An Irishman slept at the top of a very high hotel. 'Are you not afraid
to sleep up there, in case of fire?' a friend asked him. 'By the powers,
no!' said he; 'they tell me the house is insured.' Now, mother mine--"

"Shall we have to stay in Antwerp, Hamish?" interrupted Mr. Channing.

"Yes, as you return, sir; an answer that you will think emanated from
our Irish friend. No one ever yet went to Antwerp without giving the
fine old town a few hours' inspection. I only wish the chance were
offered me! Now, on your way there, you will not be able to get about;
but, as you return, you will--if all the good has been done you that I
anticipate."

"Do not be too sanguine, Hamish."

"My dear father," and Hamish's tone assumed a deeper feeling, "to be
sanguine was implanted in my nature, at my birth: but in this case I am
more than sanguine. You will be cured, depend upon it. When you return,
in three months' time, I shall not have a fly waiting for you at the
station here, or if I do, it will be for the mother's exclusive use and
benefit; I shall parade you through the town on my arm, showing your
renewed strength of leg and limb to the delighted eyes of Helstonleigh."

"Why are you so silent?" Mrs. Channing inquired of William Yorke. She
had suddenly noticed that he had scarcely said a word; had sat in a fit
of abstraction since his entrance.

"Silent? Oh! Hamish is talking for all of us," he answered, starting
from his reverie.

"The ingratitude of some people!" ejaculated Hamish. "Is he saying that
in a spirit of complaint, now? Mr. Yorke, I am astonished at you."

At this moment Tom was heard to enter the house. That it could be no one
but Tom was certain, by the noise and commotion that arose; the others
were quieter, except Annabel, and she was a girl. Tom came in, tongue,
hands, and feet all going together.

"What luck, is it not, Mr. Yorke? I am so glad it has been given to
you!"

Mr. Channing looked up in surprise. "Tom, you will never learn manners!
What has been given?"

"Has he not told you?" exclaimed Tom, ignoring the reproof to his
manners. "He is appointed to Hazeldon Chapel. Where's Constance? I'll be
bound he has told _her_!"

Saucy Tom! They received his news in silence, looking to Mr. Yorke for
explanation. He rose from his chair, and his cheek slightly flushed as
he confirmed the tidings.

"Does Constance know it?" inquired Mrs. Channing, speaking in the
moment's impulse.

"Yes," was Mr. Yorke's short answer. And then he said something, not
very coherently, about having an engagement, and took his leave, wishing
Mr. Channing every benefit from his journey.

"But, we do not go until the day after to-morrow," objected Mr.
Channing. "We shall see you before that."

Another unsatisfactory sentence from Mr. Yorke, that he "was not sure."
In shaking hands with Mrs. Channing he bent down with a whisper: "I
think Constance has something to say to you."

Mrs. Channing found her in her room, in a sad state of distress. "Child!
what is this?" she uttered.

"Oh! mother, mother, it is all at an end, and we have parted for ever!"
was poor Constance's wailing answer. And Mrs. Channing, feeling quite
sick with the various troubles that seemed to be coming upon her,
inquired _why_ it was at an end.

"He feels that the disgrace which has fallen upon us would be reflected
upon him, were he to make me his wife. Mother, there is no help for it:
it _would_ disgrace him."

"But where there is no real guilt there can be no real disgrace,"
objected Mrs. Channing. "I am firmly persuaded, however mysterious and
unsatisfactory things may appear, that Arthur is not guilty, and that
time will prove him so."

Constance could only shiver and sob. Knowing what she knew, she could
entertain no hope.

"Poor child! poor child!" murmured Mrs. Channing, her own tears dropping
upon the fair young face, as she gathered it to her sheltering bosom.
"What have you done that this blight should extend to you?"

"Teach me to bear it, mother. It must be God's will." And Constance
Channing lay in her resting-place, and there sobbed out her heart's
grief, as she had done in her early girlhood.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


AN APPEAL TO THE DEAN.

The first sharpness of the edge worn off, Arthur Channing partially
recovered his cheerfulness. The French have a proverb, which is familiar
to us all: "_Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute_." There is a great
deal of truth in it, as experience teaches us, and as Arthur found. "Of
what use my dependence upon God," Arthur also reasoned with himself
ten times a day, "if it does not serve to bear me up in this, my first
trouble? As well have been brought up next door to a heathen. Let me
do the best I can under it, and go my way as if it had not happened,
trusting all to God."

A good resolution, and one that none could have made, and kept, unless
he had learnt that trust, which is the surest beacon-light we can
possess in the world. Hour after hour, day after day, did that trust
grow in Arthur Channing's heart. He felt a sure conviction that God
would bring his innocence to light in His own good time: and that
time he was content to wait for. Not at the expense of Hamish. In his
brotherly love for Hamish, which this transaction had been unable
to dispel, he would have shielded his reputation at any sacrifice to
himself. He had grown to excuse Hamish, far more than he could ever have
excused himself, had he been guilty of it. He constantly hoped that
the sin might never be brought home to Hamish, even by the remotest
suspicion. He hoped that he would never fall again. Hamish was now so
kind to Arthur--gentle in manner, thoughtfully considerate, anxious
to spare him. He had taken to profess his full belief in Arthur's
innocence; not as loudly perhaps, but quite as urgently, as did Roland
Yorke. "He would _prove_ my innocence, and take the guilt to himself,
but that it would bring ruin to my father," fondly soliloquised Arthur.

Arthur Channing's most earnest desire, for the present, was to obtain
some employment. His weekly salary at Mr. Galloway's had been very
trifling; but still it was so much loss. He had gone to Mr. Galloway's
not so much to be of help to that gentleman, who really did not require
a third clerk, as to get his hand into the routine of the office,
preparatory to being articled. Hence his weekly pay had been almost a
nominal sum. Small though it was, he was anxious to replace it; and
he sought to hear of something in the town. As yet, without success.
Persons were not willing to engage one on whom a doubt rested; and a
very great doubt, in the opinion of the town, did rest upon Arthur. The
manner in which the case had terminated--by Mr. Galloway's refusing to
swear he put the bank-note into the envelope, when it was known that Mr.
Galloway _had_ put it in, and that Mr. Galloway himself knew that he had
done so--told more against Arthur than the actual charge had done. It
was not, you see, establishing Arthur's innocence; on the contrary,
it rather tended to imply his guilt. "If I go on with this, he will be
convicted, therefore I will withdraw it for his father's sake," was the
motive the town imputed to Mr. Galloway. His summary dismissal, also,
from the office, was urged against him. Altogether, Arthur did not
stand well with Helstonleigh; and fresh employment did not readily show
itself. This was of little moment, comparatively speaking, while his
post in the Cathedral was not endangered. But that was to come.

On the day before the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Channing, Arthur was
seated at the organ at afternoon service, playing the anthem, when Mr.
Williams came up. Arthur saw him with surprise. It was not the day for
practising the choristers; therefore, what could he want? A feeling of
dread that it might mean ill to him, came over Arthur.

A feeling all too surely borne out. "Channing," Mr. Williams began,
scarcely giving himself time to wait until service was over and the
congregation were leaving, "the dean has been talking to me about this
bother. What is to be done?"

The life-blood at his heart seemed to stand still, and then go on again.
His place there was about to be taken from him; he knew it. Must he
become an idle, useless burden upon them at home?

"He met me this morning in High Street, and stopped me," continued Mr.
Williams. "He considers that if you were guilty of the theft, you ought
not to be allowed to retain your place here. I told him you were not
guilty--that I felt thoroughly convinced of it; but he listened coldly.
The dean is a stern man, and I have always said it."

"He is a good man, and only stern in the cause of injustice," replied
Arthur, who was himself too just to allow blame to rest where it was not
due, even though it were to defend himself. "Did he give orders for my
dismissal?"

"He has not done so yet. I said, that when a man was wrongly accused,
it ought not to be a plea for all the world's trampling him down.
He answered pretty warmly, that of course it ought not; but that, if
appearances might be trusted, you were not wrongly accused."

Arthur sat, scoring some music with his pencil. Never had he felt that
appearances were against him more plainly than he felt it then.

"I thought I would step down and tell you this, Channing," Mr. Williams
observed. "I shall not dismiss you, you may be sure of that; but, if
the dean puts forth his veto, I cannot help myself. He is master of the
Cathedral, not I. I cannot think what possesses the people to doubt you!
They never would, if they had ten grains of sense."

The organist concluded his words as he hurried down the stairs--he was
always much pressed for time. Arthur, a cold weight lying at his heart,
put the music together, and departed.

He traversed the nave, crossed the body, and descended the steps to the
cloisters. As he was passing the Chapter House, the doors opened, and
Dr. Gardner came out, in his surplice and trencher. He closed the doors
after him, but not before Arthur had seen the dean seated alone at
the table--a large folio before him. Both of them had just left the
Cathedral.

Arthur raised his hat to the canon, who acknowledged it, but--Arthur
thought--very coldly. To a sore mind, fancy is ever active. A thought
flashed over Arthur that he would go, there and then, and speak to the
dean.

Acting upon the moment's impulse, without premeditation as to what he
should say, he turned back and laid his hand upon the door handle. A
passing tremor, as to the result, arose within him; but he had learned
where help in need is ever to be obtained, and an earnestly breathed
word went up then. The dean looked round, saw that it was Arthur
Channing, rose from his seat, and awaited his approach.

"Will you pardon my intruding upon you here, Mr. Dean?" he began, in his
gentle, courteous manner; and with the urgency of the occasion, all his
energy seemed to come to him. Timidity and tremor vanished, and he stood
before the dean, a true gentleman and a fearless one. The dean still
wore his surplice, and his trencher lay on the table near him. Arthur
placed his own hat by its side. "Mr. Williams has just informed me that
you cast a doubt as to the propriety of my still taking the organ," he
added.

"True," said the dean. "It is not fitting that one, upon whom so heavy
an imputation lies, should be allowed to continue his duty in this
Cathedral."

"But, sir--if that imputation be a mistaken one?"

"How are we to know that it is a mistaken one?" demanded the dean.

Arthur paused. "Sir, will you take my word for it? I am incapable of
telling a lie. I have come to you to defend my own cause; and yet I can
only do it by my bare word of assertion. You are not a stranger to the
circumstances of my family, Mr. Dean; and I honestly avow that if this
post is taken from me, it will be felt as a serious loss. I have lost
what little I had from Mr. Galloway; I trust I shall not lose this."

"You know, Channing, that I should be the last to do an unjust thing;
you also may be aware that I respect your family very much," was the
dean's reply. "But this crime which has been laid to your charge is a
heavy one. If you were guilty of it, it cannot be overlooked."

"I was not guilty of it," Arthur impressively said, his tone full of
emotion. "Mr. Dean! believe me. When I shall come to answer to my Maker
for my actions upon earth, I cannot then speak with more earnest truth
than I now speak to you. I am entirely innocent of the charge. I did
not touch the money; I did not know that the money was lost, until Mr.
Galloway announced it to me some days afterwards."

The dean gazed at Arthur as he stood before him; at his tall form--noble
even in its youthfulness--his fine, ingenuous countenance, his earnest
eye; it was impossible to associate such with the brand of guilt,
and the dean's suspicious doubts melted away. If ever uprightness was
depicted unmistakably in a human countenance, it shone out then from
Arthur Channing's.

"But there appears, then, to be some mystery attaching to the loss, to
the proceedings altogether," debated the dean.

"No doubt there may be; no doubt there is," was the reply of Arthur.
"Sir," he impulsively added, "will you stand my friend, so far as to
grant me a favour?"

The dean wondered what was coming.

"Although I have thus asserted my innocence to you; and it is the solemn
truth; there are reasons why I do not wish to speak out so unequivocally
to others. Will you kindly regard this interview as a confidential
one--not speaking of its purport even to Mr. Galloway?"

"But why?" asked the dean.

"I cannot explain. I can only throw myself upon your kindness, Mr. Dean,
to grant the request. Indeed," he added, his face flushing, "my motive
is an urgent one."

"The interview was not of my seeking, so you may have your favour," said
the dean, kindly. "But I cannot see why you should not publicly assert
it, if, as you say, you are innocent."

"Indeed, I am innocent," repeated Arthur. "Should one ray of light ever
be thrown upon the affair, you will see, Mr. Dean, that I have spoken
truth."

"I will accept it as truth," said the dean. "You may continue to take
the organ."

"I knew God would be with me in the interview!" thought Arthur, as he
thanked the dean and left the Chapter House.

He did not go home immediately. He had a commission to execute in the
town, and went to do it. It took him about an hour, which brought it to
five o'clock. In returning through the Boundaries he encountered Roland
Yorke, just released from that bane of his life, the office, for the
day. Arthur told him how near he had been to losing the Cathedral.

"By Jove!" uttered Roland, flying into one of his indignant fits. "A
nice dean he is! He'd deserve to lose his own place, if he had done it."

"Well, the danger is over for the present. I say, Yorke, does Galloway
talk much about it?"

"Not he," answered Roland. "He's as sullen and crabbed as any old bear.
I often say to Jenkins that he is in a temper with himself for having
sent you away, and I don't care if he hears me. There's an awful amount
to do since you went. I and Jenkins are worked to death. And there'll be
the busiest time of all the year coming on soon, with the autumn rents
and leases. I shan't stop long in it, I know!"

Smiling at Roland's account of being "worked to death," for he knew how
much the assertion was worth, Arthur continued his way. Roland continued
his, and, on entering his own house, met Constance Channing leaving it.
He exchanged a few words of chatter with her, though it struck him that
she looked unusually sad, and then found his way to the presence of his
mother.

"What an uncommonly pretty girl that Constance Channing is!" quoth he,
in his free, unceremonious fashion. "I wonder she condescends to come
here to teach the girls!"

"I think I shall dismiss her, Roland," said Lady Augusta.

"I expect she'll dismiss herself, ma'am, without waiting for you to do
it, now William Yorke has found bread and cheese, and a house to live
in," returned Roland, throwing himself at full length on a sofa.

"Then you expect wrong," answered Lady Augusta. "If Miss Channing
leaves, it will be by my dismissal. And I am not sure but I shall do
it," she added, nodding her head.

"What for?" asked Roland, lazily.

"It is not pleasant to retain, as instructress to my children, one whose
brother is a thief."

Roland tumbled off the sofa, and rose up with a great cry--a cry of
passionate anger, of aroused indignation. "What?" he thundered.

"Good gracious! are you going mad?" uttered my lady. "What is Arthur
Channing to you, that you should take up his cause in this startling way
upon every possible occasion?"

"He is this to me--that he has nobody else to stand up for him,"
stuttered Roland, so excited as to impede his utterance. "We were both
in the same office, and the shameful charge might have been cast upon
me, as it was cast upon him. It was mere chance. Channing is as innocent
of it as you, mother; he is as innocent as that precious dean, who
has been wondering whether he shall dismiss him from the Cathedral. A
charitable lot you all are!"

"I'm sure I don't want to be uncharitable," cried Lady Augusta, whose
heart was kind enough in the main. "And I am sure the dean never was
uncharitable in his life: he is too good and enlightened a man to be
uncharitable. Half the town says he must be guilty, and what is one to
think? Then you would not recommend me to let it make any difference to
Miss Channing's coming here?"

"No!" burst forth Roland, in a tone that might have brought down the
roof, had it been made of glass. "I'd scorn such wicked injustice."

"If I were you, I'd 'scorn' to put myself into these fiery tempers, upon
other people's business," cried my lady.

"It is my business," retorted Roland. "Better go into tempers than be
hard and unjust. What would William Yorke say at your speaking so of
Miss Channing?"

Lady Augusta smiled. "It was hearing what William Yorke had done that
almost decided me. He has broken off his engagement with Miss Channing.
And he has done well, Roland. It is not meet that he should take his
wife from a disgraced family. I have been telling him so ever since it
happened."

Roland stood before her, as if unable to digest the news: his mouth
open, his eyes staring. "It is not true!" he shrieked.

"Indeed, it is perfectly true. I gathered a suspicion of it from William
Yorke's manner to-day, and I put the question plainly to Miss Channing
herself. 'Had they parted in consequence of this business of Arthur's?'
She acknowledged that it was so."

Roland turned white with honest anger. He dashed his hair from his brow,
and with an ugly word, he dashed down the stairs four at a time, and
flung out of the house; probably with the intention of having a little
personal explosion with the Reverend William Yorke.



CHAPTER XXIX.


A TASTE OF "TAN."

The cloisters of Helstonleigh were echoing with the sounds of a loud
dispute, according as little with their sacred character, as with the
fair beauty of the summer's afternoon.

The excitement caused in the college school by the rumour of Lady
Augusta Yorke's having obtained the promise of the head-master that her
son should be promoted to the seniorship over the heads of Channing and
Huntley, had been smouldering ominously, and gathering greater strength
from the very fact that the boys appeared to be powerless in
it. Powerless they were: in spite of Tom Channing's boast at the
dinner-table that the school would not stand it tamely, and his meaning
nod when Hamish had mockingly inquired whether the school intended
to send Lady Augusta a challenge, or to recommend Mr. Pye to the
surveillance of the dean.

In the first flow of their indignation, the boys, freely ringing the
changes of rebellion, had avowed to one another that they would
acquaint the dean with the head-master's favouritism, and request his
interference--as too many of us do when things happen that annoy us.
We are only too prone to speak out our mind, and to proclaim what our
remedy or revenge shall be. But when our anger has subsided, and we see
things in their true light, we find that those boasts were only loud
talking, and cannot be acted upon. Thus it was with the Helstonleigh
college boys. They had hurled forth indignation at the master, had
pretty nearly conned over the very words in which they should make known
their grievance to the dean; but when the practical part came to be
considered, their courage oozed out at their fingers' ends. The mice,
you remember, passed a resolution in solemn conclave that their enemy,
the old cat, should be belled: an excellent precaution, and only wanting
one small thing to render it efficient--no mouse would undertake to do
it.

To prefer a complaint to the dean of their head-master was a daring
measure; such as the school, with all its hardihood, had never yet
attempted. It might recoil upon themselves; might produce no good to the
question at issue, and only end in making the master their enemy. On the
other hand, the boys were resolved not to submit tamely to a piece of
favouritism so unjust, without doing something. In the midst of this
perplexity, one of them suddenly mooted the suggestion that a written
memorial should be sent to the head-master from the school collectively,
respectfully requesting him to allow the choice of senior to be made in
the legitimate order of things, by merit or priority, but not by favour.

Lame as the suggestion was, the majority were for its adoption simply
because no other plan could be hit upon. Some were against it. Hot
arguments prevailed on both sides, and a few personal compliments rather
tending to break the peace, had been exchanged. The senior boy held
himself aloof from acting personally: it was his place they were
fighting for. Tom Channing and Huntley were red-hot against what they
called the "sneaking," meaning the underhand work. Gerald Yorke was
equally for non-interference, either to the master or the dean. Yorke
protested it was not in the least true that Lady Augusta had been
promised anything of the sort. In point of fact, there was no proof
that she had been, excepting her own assertion, made in the hearing
of Jenkins. Gerald gravely declared that Jenkins had gone to sleep and
dreamt it.

Affairs had been going on in a cross-grained sort of manner all day.
The school, taking it as a whole, had been inattentive; Mr. Pye had
been severe; the second master had caned a whole desk, and threatened
another, and double lessons had been set the upper boys for the
following morning. Altogether, when the gentlemen were released at five
o'clock, they were not in the sweetest of tempers, and entered upon a
wordy war in the cloisters.

"What possessed you to take and tear up that paper you were
surreptitiously scribbling at, when Pye ordered you to go up and hand it
in?" demanded Gaunt, of George Brittle. "It was that which put him out
with us all. Was it a love-letter?"

"Who was to think he'd go and ask for it?" returned Brittle, an
indifferent sort of gentleman, who liked to take things easily. "Guess
what it was."

"Don't talk to me about guessing!" imperiously spoke Gaunt. "I ask you
what it was?"

"Nothing less than the memorial to himself," laughed Brittle. "Some of
us made a rough shell of it, and I thought I'd set on and copy it fair.
When old Pye's voice came thundering, 'What's that you are so stealthily
busy over, Mr. Brittle?--hand it in,' of course I could only tear it
into minute pieces, and pretend to be deaf."

"You had best not try it on again," said Gaunt. "Nothing puts out Pye
like disobeying him to his face."

"Oh, doesn't it, though!" returned Brittle. "Cribs put him out the
worst. He thought that was a crib, or he'd not have been so eager for
it."

"What sort of a shell is it?" asked Harry Huntley. "Who drew it out?"

"It won't do at all," interposed Hurst. "The head of it is, 'Revered
master,' and the tail, 'Yours affectionately.'"

A shout of laughter; Brittle's voice rose above the noise. "And the
middle is an eloquent piece of composition, calculated to take the
master's obdurate heart by storm, and move it to redress our wrongs."

"We have no wrongs to redress of that sort," cried Gerald Yorke.

"Being an interested party, you ought to keep your mouth shut," called
out Hurst to Yorke.

"Keep yours shut first," retorted Yorke to Hurst. "Not being interested,
there's no need to open yours at all."

"Let's see the thing," said Huntley.

Brittle drew from his pocket a sheet of a copy-book, tumbled, blotted,
scribbled over with the elegance that only a schoolboy can display.
Several heads had been laid together, and a sketch of the memorial drawn
out between them. Shorn of what Hurst had figuratively called the
head and tail, and which had been added for nonsense, it was not a bad
production. The boys clustered round Brittle, looking over his shoulder,
as he read the composition aloud for the benefit of those who could not
elbow space to see.

"It wouldn't be bad," said Huntley, critically, "if it were done into
good grammar."

"Into what?" roared Brittle. "The grammar's as good as you can produce
any day, Huntley. Come!"

"I'll correct it for you," said Huntley, coolly. "There are a dozen
faults in it."

"The arrogance of those upper-desk fellows!" ejaculated Brittle. "The
stops are not put in yet, and they haven't the gumption to allow for
them. You'll see what it is when it shall be written out properly,
Huntley. It might be sent to the British Museum as a model of good
English, there to be framed and glazed. I'll do it to-night."

"It's no business of yours, Mr. Brittle, that you should interfere to
take an active part in it," resumed Gerald Yorke.

"No business of mine! That's good! When I'm thinking of going in for the
seniorship myself another time!"

"It's the business of the whole batch of us, if you come to that!"
roared Bywater, trying to accomplish the difficult feat of standing on
his head on the open mullioned window-frame, thereby running the danger
of coming to grief amongst the gravestones and grass of the College
burial-yard. "If Pye does not get called to order now, he may lapse into
the habit of passing over hard-working fellows with brains, to exalt
some good-for-nothing cake with none, because he happens to have a
Dutchman for his mother. That _would_ wash, that would!"

"You, Bywater! do you mean that for me?" hotly demanded Gerald Yorke.

"As if I did!" laughed Bywater. "As if I meant it for any cake in
particular! Unless the cap happens to fit 'em. _I_ don't say it does."

"The thing is this," struck in Hurst: "who will sign the paper? It's of
no use for Brittle, or any other fellow, to be at the bother of writing
it out, if nobody can be got to sign it."

"What do you mean? The school's ready to sign it."

"Are the seniors?"

With the seniors there was a hitch. Gaunt put himself practically out
of the affair; Gerald Yorke would not sign it; and Channing could not.
Huntley alone remained.

Why could not Channing sign it? Ah, there was the lever that was swaying
and agitating the whole school this afternoon. Poor Tom Channing was not
just now reposing upon rose-leaves. What with his fiery temper and
his pride, Tom had enough to do to keep himself within bounds; for the
school was resenting upon him the stigma that had fallen upon Arthur.
Not the whole school; but quite sufficient of it. Not that they openly
attacked Tom; he could have repaid that in kind; but they were sending
him to Coventry. Some said they would not sign a petition to the master
headed by Tom Channing:--Tom, you remember, stood on the rolls next to
Gaunt. They said that if Tom Channing were to succeed as senior of the
school, the school would rise up in open rebellion. That this feeling
against him was very much fostered by the Yorkes, was doubted. Gerald
was actuated by a twofold motive, one of which was, that it enhanced his
own chance of the seniorship. The other arose from resentment against
Arthur Channing, for having brought disgrace upon the office which
contained his brother Roland. Tod fraternized in this matter with
Gerald, though the same could not be said of him in general; no two
brothers in the school agreed less well than did the Yorkes. Both of
them fully believed Arthur to be guilty.

"As good have the thing out now, and settle it," exclaimed Griffin, who
came next to Gerald Yorke, and would be fourth senior when Gaunt should
leave. "Are you fellows going to sign it, or not?"

"To whom do you speak?" demanded Gaunt.

"Well, I speak to all," said Griffin, a good-humoured lad, but terribly
mischievous, and, for some cause best known to himself, warmly espousing
the cause of Gerald Yorke. "Shall you sign it, Gaunt?"

"No. But I don't say that I disapprove of it, mind you," added Gaunt.
"Were I going in for the seniorship, and one below me were suddenly
hoisted above my head and made cock of the walk, I'd know the reason
why. It is not talking that would satisfy me, or grumbling either; I'd
act."

"Gaunt doesn't sign it," proceeded Griffin, telling off the names upon
his fingers. "That's one. Huntley, do you?"

"I don't come next to Gaunt," was Huntley's answer. "I'll speak in my
right turn."

Tom Channing stood near to Huntley, his trencher stuck aside on his
head, his honest face glowing. One arm was full of books, the other
rested on his hip: his whole attitude bespoke self-possession; his
looks, defiance. Griffin went on.

"Gerald Yorke, do you sign it?"

"I'd see it further, first."

"That's two disposed of, Gaunt and Yorke," pursued Griffin. "Huntley,
there's only you."

Huntley gave a petulant stamp. "I have told you I will not speak out of
my turn. Yes, I will speak, though, as we want the affair set at rest,"
he resumed, changing his mind abruptly. "If Channing signs it, I will.
There! Channing, will you sign it?"

"Yes, I will," said Tom.

Then it was that the hubbub arose, converting the cloisters into an
arena. One word led to another. Fiery blood bubbled up; harsh things
were said. Gerald Yorke and his party reproached Tom Channing with
being a _disgrace_ to the school's charter, through his brother Arthur.
Huntley and a few more warmly espoused Tom's cause, of whom saucy
Bywater was one, who roared out cutting sarcasms from his gymnasium on
the window-frame. Tom controlled himself better than might have been
expected, but he and Gerald Yorke flung passionate retorts one to the
other.

"It is not fair to cast in a fellow's teeth the shortcomings of his
relations," continued Bywater. "What with our uncles and cousins, and
mothers and grandmothers, there's sure to be one among them that goes
off the square. Look at that rich lot, next door to Lady Augusta's, with
their carriages and servants, and soirées, and all the rest of their
grandeur!--their uncle was hanged for sheep-stealing."

"I'd rather steal a sheep and be hanged for it, than help myself to a
nasty bit of paltry money, and then deny that I did it!" foamed Gerald.
"The suspicion might have fallen on my brother, but that he happened,
by good luck, to be away that afternoon. My opinion is, that Arthur
Charming intended suspicion to fall upon him."

A howl from Bywater. He had gone over, head foremost, to make
acquaintance with the graves. They were too much engrossed to heed him.

"Your brother was a great deal more likely to have helped himself to it,
than Arthur Charming," raged Tom. "He does a hundred dirty things every
day, that a Channing would rather cut off his arm than attempt."

The disputants' faces were almost touching each other, and very fiery
faces they were--that is, speaking figuratively. Tom's certainly was
red enough, but Gerald's was white with passion. Some of the bigger boys
stood close to prevent blows, which Gaunt was forbidding.

"I _know_ he did it!" shrieked Gerald. "There!"

"You can't know it!" stamped Tom. "You don't know it!"

"I _do_. And for two pins I'd tell."

The boast was a vain boast, the heat of passion alone prompting it.
Gerald Yorke was not scrupulously particular in calm moments; but little
recked he what he said in his violent moods. Tom repudiated it with
scorn. But there was another upon whom the words fell with intense fear.

And that was Charley Channing. Misled by Gerald's positive and earnest
tone, the boy really believed that there must be some foundation for
the assertion. A wild fear seized him, lest Gerald should proclaim some
startling fact, conveying a conviction of Arthur's guilt to the minds of
the school. The blood forsook his face, his lips trembled, and he pushed
his way through the throng till he touched Gerald.

"Don't say it, Gerald Yorke! Don't!" he imploringly whispered. "I have
kept counsel for you."

"What?" said Gerald, wheeling round.

"I have kept your counsel about the surplice. Keep Arthur's in return,
if you do know anything against him."

I wish you could have witnessed the change in Gerald Yorke's
countenance! A streak of scarlet crossed its pallor, his eyes blazed
forth defiance, and a tremor, as of fear, momentarily shook him. To the
surprise of the boys, who had no notion what might have been the purport
of Charley's whisper, he seized the boy by the arm, and fiercely dragged
him away up the cloisters, turning the corner into the west quadrangle.

"Get down!" he hissed; "get down upon your knees, and swear that you'll
never breathe a syllable of that calumny again! Do you hear me, boy?"

"No, I will not get down," said brave Charley.

Gerald drew in his lips. "You have heard of a wild tiger, my boy? One
escaped from a caravan the other day, and killed a few people. I am
worse than a wild tiger now, and you had better not provoke me. Swear
it, or I'll kill you!"

"I will not swear," repeated the child. "I'll try and keep the promise I
gave you, not to betray about the surplice--I will indeed; but don't you
say again, please, that Arthur is guilty."

To talk of killing somebody, and to set about doing it, are two things.
Gerald Yorke's "killing" would have amounted to no more than a good
thrashing. He held the victim at arm's length, his eyes dilating, his
right hand raised, when a head was suddenly propelled close upon them
from the graveyard. Gerald was so startled as to drop his hold of
Charley.

The head belonged to Stephen Bywater, who must have crept across the
burial-ground and chosen that spot to emerge from, attracted probably by
the noise. "What's the row?" asked he.

"I was about to give Miss Channing a taste of tan," replied Gerald,
who appeared to suddenly cool down from his passion. "He'd have got it
sweetly, had you not come up. I'll tan you too, Mr. Bywater, if you come
thrusting in yourself, like that, where you are not expected, and not
wanted."

"Tan away," coolly responded Bywater. "I can tan again. What had the
young one been up to?"

"Impudence," shortly answered Yorke. "Mark you, Miss Channing! I have
not done with you, though it is my pleasure to let you off for the
present. Halloa! What's that?"

It was a tremendous sound of yelling, as if some one amidst the throng
of boys was being "tanned" there. Gerald and Charley flew off towards
it, followed by Bywater, who propelled himself upwards through the
mullioned frame in the best way he could. The sufferer proved to be Tod
Yorke, who was writhing under the sharp correction of some tall fellow,
six feet high. To the surprise of Gerald, he recognized his brother
Roland.

You may remember it was stated in the last chapter that Roland Yorke
flew off, in wild indignation, from Lady Augusta's news of the parting
of the Reverend Mr. Yorke and Constance Channing. Roland, in much inward
commotion, was striding through the cloisters on his way to find that
reverend divine, when he strode up to the throng of disputants, who were
far too much preoccupied with their own concerns to observe him. The
first distinct voice that struck upon Roland's ear above the general
hubbub, was that of his brother Tod.

When Gerald had rushed away with Charley Channing, it had struck Tod
that he could not do better than take up the dispute on his own score.
He forced himself through the crowd to where Gerald had stood in front
of Tom Channing, and began. For some little time the confusion was
so great he could not be heard, but Tod persevered; his manner was
overbearing, his voice loud.

"I say that Tom Channing might have the decency to take himself out
of the school. When our friends put us into it, they didn't expect we
should have to consort with thieves' brothers."

"You contemptible little reptile! How dare you presume to cast aspersion
at my brother?" scornfully uttered Tom. And the scorn was all he threw
at him; for the seniors disdained, whatever the provocation, to attack
personally those younger and less than themselves. Tod Yorke knew this.

"How dare I! Oh!" danced Tod. "I dare because I dare, and because it's
true. When my brother Gerald says he knows it was Arthur Channing helped
himself to the note, he does know it. Do you think," he added, improving
upon Gerald's suggestion, "that my brother Roland could be in the same
office, and not know that he helped himself to it? He--"

It was at this unlucky moment that Roland had come up. He heard the
words, dashed the intervening boys right and left, caught hold of Mr.
Tod by the collar of his jacket, and lifted him from the ground, as an
angry lion might lift a contemptible little animal that had enraged him.
Roland Yorke was not an inapt type of an angry lion just then, with his
panting breath, his blazing eye, and his working nostrils.

"Take that! and that! and that!" cried he, giving Tod a taste of his
strength. "_You_ speak against Arthur Channing!--take that! You false
little hound!--and that! Let me catch you at it again, and I won't leave
a whole bone in your body!"

Tod writhed; Tod howled; Tod shrieked; Tod roared for mercy. All in
vain. Roland continued his "and thats!" and Gerald and the other two
absentees came leaping up. Roland loosed him then, and turned his
flashing eyes upon Gerald.

"Is it true that you said you knew Arthur Channing took the bank-note?"

"What if I did?" retorted Gerald.

"Then you told a lie! A lie as false as you are. If you don't eat your
words, you are a disgrace to the name of Yorke. Boys, believe _me!_"
flashed Roland, turning to the wondering throng--"Gaunt, _you_ believe
me--Arthur Channing never did take the note. I know it. I know it,
I tell you! I don't care who it was took it, but it was not Arthur
Channing. If you listen again to his false assertions," pointing
scornfully to Gerald, "you'll show yourselves to be sneaking curs."

Roland stopped for want of breath. Bold Bywater, who was sure to find
his tongue before anybody else, elbowed his way to the inner circle,
and flourished about there, in complete disregard of the sad state
of dilapidation he was in behind; a large portion of a very necessary
article of attire having been, in some unaccountable manner, torn away
by his recent fall.

"That's right, Roland Yorke!" cried he. "I'd scorn the action of
bringing up a fellow's relations against him. Whether Arthur Channing
took the note, or whether he didn't, what has that to do with Tom?--or
with us? They are saying, some of them, that Tom Channing shan't sign a
petition to the master about the seniorship!"

"What petition?" uttered Roland, who had not calmed down a whit.

"Why! about Pye giving it to Gerald Yorke, over the others' heads,"
returned Bywater. "_You_ know Gerald's crowing over it, like anything,
but I say it's a shame. I heard him and Griffin say this morning that
there was only Huntley to get over, now Tom Channing was put out of it
through the bother about Arthur."

"What's the dean about, that he does not give Pye a word of a sort?"
asked Roland.

"The dean! If we could only get to tell the dean, it might be all right.
But none of us dare do it."

"Thank you for your defence of Arthur," said Tom Channing to Roland
Yorke, as the latter was striding away.

Roland looked back. "I am ashamed for all the lot of you! You might know
that Arthur Channing needs no defence. He should not be aspersed in my
school, Gaunt, if I were senior."

What with one thing and another, Roland's temper had not been so aroused
for many a day. Gaunt ran after him, but Roland would not turn his head,
or speak.

"Your brothers are excited against Tom Channing, and that makes them
hard upon him, with regard to this accusation of Arthur," observed
Gaunt. "Tom has gone on above a bit, about Gerald's getting his
seniorship over him and Huntley. Tom Channing can go on at a splitting
rate when he likes, and he has not spared his words. Gerald, being the
party interested, does not like it. That's what they were having a row
over, when you came up."

"Gerald has no more right to be put over Tom Channing's head, than you
have to be put over Pye's," said Roland, angrily.

"Of course he has not," replied Gaunt. "But things don't go by 'rights,'
you know. This business of Arthur Channing's has been quite a windfall
for Gerald; he makes it into an additional reason why Tom, at any rate,
should not have the seniorship. And there only remains Huntley."

"He does, does he!" exclaimed Roland. "If the dean-"

Roland's voice--it had not been a soft one--died away. The dean himself
appeared suddenly at the door of the chapter-house, which they were then
passing. Roland raised his hat, and Gaunt touched his trencher. The dean
accosted the latter, his tone and manner less serene than usual.

"What is the cause of this unusual noise, Gaunt? It has disturbed me
in my reading. If the cloisters are to be turned into a bear-garden, I
shall certainly order them to be closed to the boys."

"I'll go and stop it at once, sir," replied Gaunt, touching his trencher
again, as he hastily retired. He had no idea that the dean was in the
chapter-house.

Roland, taking no time for consideration--he very rarely did take it, or
any of the Yorkes--burst forth with the grievance to the dean. Not
that Roland was one who cared much about justice or injustice in the
abstract; but he was feeling excessively wroth with Gerald, and in a
humour to espouse Tom Channing's cause against the world.

"The college boys are in a state of semi-rebellion, Mr. Dean, and are
not so quiet under it as they might be. They would like to bring their
cause of complaint to you; but they don't dare."

"Indeed!" said the dean.

"The senior boy leaves the school at Michaelmas," went on Roland,
scarcely giving the dean time to say the word. "The one who stands first
to step into his place is Tom Channing; the next is Huntley; the last is
Gerald Yorke. There is a belief afloat that Mr. Pye means to pass over
the two first, without reference to their merits or their rights, and to
bestow it upon Gerald Yorke. The rumour is, that he has promised this
to my mother, Lady Augusta. Ought this to be so, Mr. Dean?--although
my asking it may seem to be opposed to Lady Augusta's wishes and my
brother's interests."

"Where have you heard this?" inquired the dean.

"Oh, the whole town is talking of it, sir. Of course, that does not
prove its truth; but the college boys believe it. They think," said
Roland, pointedly, "that the dean ought to ascertain its grounds of
foundation, and to interfere. Tom Channing is bearing the brunt of this
false accusation on his brother, which some of the cowards are casting
to him. It would be too bad were Pye to deprive him of the seniorship!"

"You think the accusation on Arthur Channing to be a false one?"
returned the dean.

"There never was a more false accusation brought in this world," replied
Roland, relapsing into excitement. "I would answer for Arthur Channing
with my own life. He is entirely innocent. Good afternoon, Mr. Dean. If
I stop longer, I may say more than's polite; there's no telling. Things
that I have heard this afternoon have put my temper up."

He strode away towards the west door, leaving the dean looking after him
with a smile. The dean had been on terms of friendship with Dr. Yorke,
and was intimate with his family. Roland's words were a somewhat
singular corroboration of Arthur Channing's private defence to the dean
only an hour ago.

Meanwhile Gaunt had gone up to scatter the noisy crew. "A nice row you
have got me into with your quarrelling," he exclaimed. "The dean has
been in the chapter-house all the time, and isn't he in a passion! He
threatens to shut up the cloisters."

The announcement brought stillness, chagrin. "What a bothering old
duffer he is, that dean!" uttered Bywater. "He is always turning up when
he's not wanted."

"Take your books, and disperse in silence," was the command of the
senior boy.

"Stop a bit," said Bywater, turning himself round and about for general
inspection. "Look at me! Can I go home?"

"My!" roared the boys, who had been too preoccupied to be observant.
"Haven't they come to grief!"

"But can I go through the streets?"

"Oh yes! Make a rush for it. Tell the folks you have been in the wars."



CHAPTER XXX.


THE DEPARTURE.

I like to see fair skies and sunshine on the morning fixed for a
journey. It seems to whisper a promise that satisfaction from that
journey lies before it: a foolish notion, no doubt, but a pleasant one.

Never did a more lovely morning arise to gladden the world, than that
fixed upon for Mr. and Mrs. Channing's departure. The August sky was
without a cloud, the early dew glittered in the sunbeams, bees and
butterflies sported amidst the opening flowers.

Mr. Channing was up early, and had gathered his children around him. Tom
and Charles had, by permission, holiday that morning from early school,
and Constance had not gone to Lady Augusta Yorke's. The very excitement
and bustle of preparation had appeared to benefit Mr. Channing; perhaps
it was the influence of the hope which had seated itself in his heart,
and was at work there. But Mr. Channing did not count upon this hope one
whit more than he could help; for disappointment _might_ be its ending.
In this, the hour of parting from his home and his children, the hope
seemed to have buried itself five fathoms deep, if not to have died away
completely. Who, in a similar position to Mr. Channing's, has not felt
this depression on leaving a beloved home?

The parting had been less sad but for the dark cloud hanging over
Arthur. Mr. Channing had no resource but to believe him guilty, and his
manner to him had grown cold and stern. It was a pleasing sight--could
you have looked in upon it that morning--one that would put you in mind
of that happier world where partings are not.

For it was to that world that Mr. Channing had been carrying the
thoughts of his children in these, the last moments. The Bible was
before him, but all that he had chosen to read was a short psalm. And
then he prayed God to bless them; to keep them from evil; to be their
all-powerful protector. There was not a dry eye present; and Charles and
Annabel--Annabel with all her wildness--sobbed aloud.

He was standing up now, supported by Hamish, his left hand leaning
heavily, also for support, on the shoulder of Tom. Oh! Arthur felt it
keenly! felt it as if his heart would break. It was Tom whom his father
had especially called to his aid; _he_ was passed over. It was hard to
bear.

He was giving a word of advice, of charge to all. "Constance, my
pretty one, the household is in your charge; you must take care of your
brothers' comforts. And, Hamish, my son, I leave Constance to _your_
care. Tom, let me enjoin you to keep your temper within bounds,
particularly with regard to that unsatisfactory matter, the seniorship.
Annabel, be obedient to your sister, and give her no care. And Charley,
my little darling, be loving and gentle as you always are. Upon my
return--if I shall be spared to return--"

"Father," exclaimed Arthur, in a burst of irrepressible feeling, "have
you no word for _me_?"

Mr. Channing laid his hand upon the head of Arthur. "Bless, oh bless
this my son!" he softly murmured. "And may God forgive him, if he be
indeed the erring one we fear!"

But a few minutes had elapsed since Mr. Channing had repeated aloud
the petition in the prayer taught us by our Saviour--"Lead us not
into temptation!" It had come quickly to one of his hearers. If ever
temptation assailed a heart, it assailed Arthur's then. "Not I, father;
it is Hamish who is guilty; it is for him I have to bear. Hamish,
whom you are caressing, was the true culprit; I, whom you despise, am
innocent." Words such as these might have hovered on Arthur's lips; he
had nearly spoken them, but for the strangely imploring look cast to
him from the tearful eyes of Constance, who read his struggle. Arthur
remembered One who had endured temptation far greater than this; Who
is ever ready to grant the same strength to those who need it. A few
moments, and the struggle and temptation passed, and he had not yielded
to it.

"Children, I do not like these partings. They always sadden my heart.
They make me long for that life where partings shall be no more. Oh, my
dear ones, do you all strive on to attain to that blessed life! Think
what would be our woeful grief--if such can assail us there; if memory
of the past may be allowed us--should we find any one of our dear ones
absent--of you who now stand around me! I speak to you all--not more to
one than to another--absent through his own fault, his own sin, his own
carelessness! Oh, children! you cannot tell my love for you--my anxious
care!--lest any of you should lose this inconceivable blessing. Work on;
strive on; and if we never meet again here--"

"Oh, papa, papa," wildly sobbed Annabel, "we shall meet again! You will
come back well."

"I trust we shall! I do trust I may! God is ever merciful and good. All
I would say is, that my life is uncertain; that, if it be His will
not to spare me, I shall have but preceded you to that better land. My
blessing be upon you, my children! God's blessing be upon you! Fare you
well."

In the bustle of getting Mr. Channing to the fly, Arthur was left alone
with his mother. She clung to him, sobbing much. Even her faith in him
was shaken. When the rupture occurred between Mr. Yorke and Constance,
Arthur never spoke up to say: "There is no cause for parting; I am not
guilty." Mrs. Channing was not the only one who had expected him to say
this, or something equivalent to it; and she found her expectation vain.
Arthur had maintained a studied silence; of course it could only tell
against him.

"Mother! my darling mother! I would ask you to trust me still, but that
I see how difficult it is for you!" he said, as hot tears were wrung
from his aching heart.

Hamish came in. Arthur, not caring to exhibit his emotion for every
one's benefit, retired to a distant window. "My father is in, all
comfortable," said Hamish. "Mother, are you sure you have everything?"

"Everything, I believe."

"Well--put this into your private purse, mother mine. You'll find some
use for it."

It was a ten-pound note. Mrs. Channing began protesting that she should
have enough without it.

"Mrs. Channing, I know your 'enoughs,'" laughed Hamish, in his very
gayest and lightest tone. "You'll be for going without dinner every
other day, fearing that funds won't last. If you don't take it, I shall
send it after you to-morrow."

"Thank you, my dear, considerate boy!" she gratefully said, as she put
up the money, which would, in truth, prove useful. "But how have you
been able to get it for me?"

"As if a man could not save up his odd sixpences for a rainy day!" quoth
Hamish.

She implicitly believed him. She had absolute faith in her darling
Hamish; and the story of his embarrassments had not reached her ear.
Arthur heard all from his distant window. "For that very money, given
to my mother as a gift from _him_, I must suffer," was the rebellious
thought that ran through his mind.

The fly started. Mr. and Mrs. Channing and Charley inside, Hamish on the
box with the driver. Tom galloped to the station on foot. Of course
the boys were eager to see them off. But Arthur, in his refined
sensitiveness, would not put himself forward to make one of them; and no
one asked him to do so.

The train was on the point of starting. Mr. and Mrs. Channing were in
their places, certain arrangements having been made for the convenience
of Mr. Channing, who was partially lying across from one seat to the
other; Hamish and the others were standing round for a last word; when
there came one, fighting his way through the platform bustle, pushing
porters and any one else who impeded his progress to the rightabout. It
was Roland Yorke.

"Haven't I come up at a splitting pace! I overslept myself, Mr.
Channing, and I thought I should not be in time to give you a God-speed.
I hope you'll have a pleasant time, and come back cured, sir!"

"Thank you, Roland. These heartfelt wishes from you all are very
welcome."

"I say, Mr. Channing," continued Roland, leaning over the carriage
window, in utter disregard of danger: "If you should hear of any good
place abroad, that you think I might do for, I wish you'd speak a word
for me."

"Place abroad?" repeated Mr. Channing, while Hamish burst into a laugh.

"Yes," said Roland. "My brother George knew a fellow who went over to
Austria or Prussia, or some of those places, and dropped into a very
good thing there, quite by accident. It was connected with one of the
embassies, I think; five or six hundred a year, and little to do."

Mr. Channing smiled. "Such windfalls are rare. I fear I am not likely
to hear of anything of the sort. But what has Mr. Galloway done to you,
Roland? You are a fixture with him."

"I am tired of Galloway's," frankly confessed Roland. "I didn't enjoy
myself there before Arthur left, but I am ready to hang myself since,
with no one to speak to but that calf of a Jenkins! If Galloway will
take on Arthur again, and do him honour, I'll stop and make the best of
it; but, if he won't--"

"Back! back! hands off there! Are you mad?" And amidst much shouting,
and running, and dragging careless Roland out of danger, the train
steamed out of the station.



CHAPTER XXXI.


ABROAD.

A powerful steamer was cutting smoothly through the waters. A large
expanse of sea lay around, dotted with its fishing-boats, which had come
out with the night's tide. A magnificent vessel, her spars glittering in
the rising sun, might be observed in the distance, and the grey, misty
sky, overhead, gave promise of a hot and lovely day.

Some of the passengers lay on deck, where they had stationed themselves
the previous night, preferring its open air to the closeness of the
cabins, in the event of rough weather. Rough weather they need not have
feared. The passage had been perfectly calm; the sea smooth as a lake;
not a breath of wind had helped the good ship on her course; steam had
to do its full work. But for this dead calm, the fishing-craft would not
be close in-shore, looking very much like a flock of sea-gulls. Had
a breeze, ever so gentle, sprung up, they would have put out to more
prolific waters.

A noise, a shout, a greeting! and some of the passengers, already awake,
but lying lazily, sprang up to see what caused it. It was a passing
steamer, bound for the great metropolis which they had left not
seventeen hours ago. The respective captains exchanged salutes from
their places aloft, and the fine vessels flew past each other.

"_Bon voyage! bon voyage!_" shouted out a little French boy to the
retreating steamer.

"We have had a fine passage, captain," observed a gentleman who was
stretching himself and stamping about the deck, after his night's repose
on the hard bench.

"Middling," responded the captain, to whom a dead calm was not quite
so agreeable as it was to his passengers. "Should ha' been in all the
sooner for a breeze."

"How long will it be, now?"

"A good time yet. Can't go along as if we had wind at our back."

The steamer made good progress, however, in spite of the faithless wind.
It glided up the Scheldt, and, by-and-by, the spire of Antwerp Cathedral
was discerned, rising against the clear sky. Mrs. Channing, who had been
one of those early astir, went back to her husband. He was lying where
he had been placed when the vessel left St. Katherine's Docks.

"We shall soon be in, James. I wish you could see that beautiful spire.
I have been searching for it ever so long; it is in sight, now. Hamish
told me to keep a look-out for it."

"Did he?" replied Mr. Channing. "How did Hamish know it might be seen?"

"From the guide-books, I suppose; or from hearsay. Hamish seems to know
everything. What a good passage we have had!"

"Ay," said Mr. Channing. "What I should have done in a rough sea, I
cannot tell. The dread of it has been pressing on me as a nightmare
since our voyage was decided upon."

Mrs. Channing smiled. "Troubles seldom come from the quarter we
anticipate them."

Later, when Mrs. Channing was once more leaning over the side of the
vessel, a man came up and put a card into her hand, jabbering away in
German at the same time. The Custom House officers had come on board
then.

"Oh, dear, if Constance were only here! It is for interpreting that
we shall miss her," thought Mrs. Channing. "I am sorry that I do not
understand you," she said, turning to the man.

"Madame want an hot-el? That hot-el a good one," tapping the card with
his finger, and dexterously turning the reverse side upward, where was
set forth in English the advantages of a certain Antwerp inn.

"Thank you, but we make no stay at Antwerp; we go straight on at once."
And she would have handed back the card.

No, he would not receive it. "Madame might be wanting an hot-el at
another time; on her return, it might be. If so, would she patronize it?
it was a good hot-el; perfect!"

Mrs. Channing slipped the card into her reticule, and searched her
directions to see what hotel Hamish had indicated, should they require
one at Antwerp. She found it to be the Hôtel du Parc. Hamish certainly
had contrived to acquire for them a great fund of information; and, as
it turned out, information to be relied on.

Breakfast was to be obtained on board the steamer, and they availed
themselves of it, as did a few of the other passengers. Some delay
occurred in bringing the steamer to the side, after they arrived.
Whether from that cause, or the captain's grievance--want of wind--or
from both, they were in later than they ought to have been. When the
first passenger put his foot on land, they had been out twenty hours.

Mr. Channing was the last to be removed, as, with him, aid was required.
Mrs. Channing stood on the shore at the head of the ladder, looking down
anxiously, lest in any way harm should come to him, when she found a
hand laid upon her shoulder, and a familiar voice saluted her.

"Mrs. Channing! Who would have thought of seeing you here! Have you
dropped from the moon?"

Not only was the voice familiar, but the face also. In the surprise
of being so addressed, in the confusion around her, Mrs. Channing
positively did not for a moment recognize it; all she saw was, that it
was a _home_ face. "Mr. Huntley!" she exclaimed, when she had gathered
her senses; and, in the rush of pleasure of meeting him, of not feeling
utterly alone in that strange land, she put both her hands into his.
"I may return your question by asking where you have dropped from. I
thought you were in the south of France."

"So I was," he answered, "until a few days ago, when business brought me
to Antwerp. A gentleman is living here whom I wished to see. Take care,
my men!" he continued to the English sailors, who were carrying up
Mr. Channing. "Mind your footing." But the ascent was accomplished in
safety, and Mr. Channing was placed in a carriage.

"Do you understand their lingo?" Mr. Huntley asked, as the porters
talked and chattered around.

"Not a syllable," she answered. "I can manage a little French, but this
is as a sealed book to me. Is it German or Flemish?"

"Flemish, I conclude," he said laughingly; "but my ears will not tell
me, any more than yours tell you. I should have done well to bring
Ellen with me. She said, in her saucy way, 'Papa, when you are among the
French and Germans, you will be wishing for me to interpret for you.'"

"As I have been wishing for Constance," replied Mrs. Channing. "In our
young days, it was not thought more essential to learn German than it
was to learn Hindustanee. French was only partially taught."

"Quite true," said Mr. Huntley. "I managed to rub through France after a
fashion, but I don't know what the natives thought of my French. What I
did know, I have half forgotten. But, now for explanations. Of course,
Mr. Channing has come to try the effect of the German springs?"

"Yes, and we have such hopes!" she answered. "There does appear to be
a probability that not only relief, but a cure, may be effected;
otherwise, you may be sure we should not have ventured on so much
expense."

"I always said Mr. Channing ought to try them."

"Very true; you did so. We were only waiting, you know, for the
termination of the chancery suit. It is terminated, Mr. Huntley; and
against us."

Mr. Huntley had been abroad since June, travelling in different parts
of the Continent; but he had heard from home regularly, chiefly from
his daughter, and this loss of the suit was duly communicated with other
news.

"Never mind," said he to Mrs. Channing. "Better luck next time."

He was of a remarkably pleasant disposition, in temperament not unlike
Hamish Channing. A man of keen intellect was Mr. Huntley; his fine face
expressing it. The luggage collected, they rejoined Mr. Channing.

"I have scarcely said a word to you," cried Mr. Huntley, taking his
hand. "But I am better pleased to see you here, than I should be to see
any one else living. It is the first step towards a cure. Where are you
bound for?"

"For Borcette. It is--"

"I know it," interrupted Mr. Huntley. "I was at it a year or two ago.
One of the little Brunnens, near Aix-la-Chapelle. I stayed a whole week
there. I have a great mind to accompany you thither, now, and settle you
there."

"Oh, do!" exclaimed Mr. Channing, his face lighting up, as the faces of
invalids will light up at the anticipated companionship of a friend. "If
you can spare time, do come with us!"

"My time is my own; the business that brought me here is concluded, and
I was thinking of leaving to-day. Having nothing to do after my early
breakfast, I strolled down to watch in the London steamer, little
thinking I should see you arrive by it. That's settled, then. I will
accompany you as far as Borcette, and see you installed."

"When do you return home?"

"Now; and glad enough I shall be to get there. Travelling is delightful
for a change, but when you have had enough of it, home peeps out in the
distance with all its charms."

The train which Mr. and Mrs. Channing had intended to take was already
gone, through delay in the steamer's reaching Antwerp, and they had to
wait for another. When it started, it had them safely in it, Mr. Huntley
with them. Their route lay through part of the Netherlands, through
Malines, and some beautiful valleys; so beautiful that it is worth going
the whole distance from England to see them.

"What is this disturbance about the seniorship, and Lady Augusta Yorke?"
asked Mr. Huntley, as it suddenly occurred to his recollection, in the
earlier part of their journey. "Master Harry has written me a letter
full of notes of exclamation and indignation, saying I 'ought to come
home and see about it.' What is it?"

Mr. Channing explained; at least, as far as he was able to do so. "It
has given rise to a good deal of dissatisfaction in the school," he
added, "but I cannot think, for my own part, that it can have any
foundation. Mr. Pye would not be likely to give a promise of the kind,
either to Lady Augusta, or to any other of the boys' friends."

"If he attempted to give one to me, I should throw it back to him with a
word of a sort," hastily rejoined Mr. Huntley, in a warm tone. "Nothing
can possibly be more unjust, than to elevate one boy over another
undeservedly; nothing, in my opinion, can be more pernicious. It is
enough to render the boy himself unjust through life; to give him loose
ideas of right and wrong. Have you not inquired into it?"

"No," replied Mr. Channing.

"I shall. If I find reason to suspect there may be truth in the report,
I shall certainly inquire into it. Underhand work of that sort goes,
with me, against the grain. I can stir in it with a better grace than
you can," Mr. Huntley added: "my son being pretty sure not to succeed to
the seniorship, so long as yours is above him to take it. Tom Channing
will make a good senior; a better than Harry would. Harry, in his easy
indifference, would suffer the school to lapse into insubordination; Tom
will keep a tight hand over it."

A sensation of pain darted across the heart of Mr. Channing. Only the
day before his leaving home, he had accidentally heard a few words
spoken between Tom and Charley, which had told him that Tom's chance
of the seniorship was emperilled through the business connected with
Arthur. Mr. Charming had then questioned Tom, and found that it was so.
He must speak of this now to Mr. Huntley, however painful it might be to
himself to do so. It were more manly to meet it openly than to bury it
in silence, and let Mr. Huntley hear of it (if he had not heard of it
already) as soon as he reached Helstonleigh.

"Have you heard anything in particular about Arthur lately?" inquired
Mr. Channing.

"Of course I have," was the answer. "Ellen did not fail to give me a
full account of it. I congratulate you on possessing such sons."

"Congratulate! To what do you allude?" asked Mr. Channing.

"To Arthur's applying after Jupp's post, as soon as he knew that the
suit had failed. He's a true Channing. I am glad he got it."

"Not to that--I did not allude to that," hastily rejoined Mr. Channing.
And then, with downcast eyes, and a downcast heart, he related
sufficient to put Mr. Huntley in possession of the facts.

Mr. Huntley heard the tale with incredulity, a smile of ridicule parting
his lips. "Suspect Arthur of theft!" he exclaimed. "What next? Had
I been in my place on the magistrates' bench that day, I should have
dismissed the charge at once, upon such defective evidence. Channing,
what is the matter?"

Mr. Channing laid his hand upon his aching brow, and Mr. Huntley had to
bend over him to catch the whispered answer. "I do fear that he may be
guilty. If he is not guilty, some strange mystery altogether is attached
to it."

"But why do you fear that he is guilty?" asked Mr. Huntley, in surprise.

"Because his own conduct, relating to the charge, is so strange. He will
not assert his innocence; or, if he does attempt to assert it, it is
with a faint, hesitating manner and tone, that can only give one the
impression of falsehood, instead of truth."

"It is utterly absurd to suppose your son Arthur capable of the
crime. He is one of those whom it is impossible to doubt; noble, true,
honourable! No; I would suspect myself, before I could suspect Arthur
Channing."

"I would have suspected myself before I had suspected him," impulsively
spoke Mr. Channing. "But there are the facts, coupled with his not
denying the charge. He could not deny it, even to the satisfaction of
Mr. Galloway: did not attempt it; had he done so, Galloway would not
have turned him from the office."

Mr. Huntley fell into thought, revolving over the details, is they had
been related to him. That Arthur was the culprit, his judgment utterly
repudiated; and he came to the conclusion that he must be screening
another. He glanced at Mrs. Channing, who sat in troubled silence.

"You do not believe Arthur guilty?" he said, in a low tone, suddenly
bending over to her.

"I do not know what to believe; T am racked with doubt and pain," she
answered. "Arthur's words to me in private are only compatible with
entire innocence; but then, what becomes of the broad facts?--of
his strange appearance of guilt before the world? God can bring his
innocence to light, he says; and he is content to wait His time."

"If there is a mystery, I'll try to come to the bottom of it, when I
reach Helstonleigh," thought Mr. Huntley. "Arthur's not guilty, whoever
else may be."

It was impossible to shake his firm faith in Arthur Channing. Mr.
Huntley was one of the few who read character strongly and surely, and
he _knew_ Arthur was incapable of doing wrong. Had his eyes witnessed
Arthur positively stealing the bank-note, his mind, his judgment would
have refused credence to his eyes. You may, therefore, judge that
neither then, nor afterwards, was he likely to admit the possibility of
Arthur's guilt.

"And the college school is saying that Tom shall not stand for the
seniorship!" he resumed aloud. "Does my son say it?"

"Some of them are saying it; I believe the majority of the school. I do
not know whether your son is amongst the number."

"He had better not let me find him so," cried Mr. Huntley. "But now,
don't suffer this affair to worry you," he added, turning heartily to
Mr. Channing. "If Arthur's guilty, I'll eat him; and I shall make it
my business to look into it closely when I reach home. You are
incapacitated, my old friend, and I shall act for you."

"Did Ellen not mention this, in writing to you?"

"No; the sly puss! Catch Miss Ellen writing to me anything that might
tell against the Channings."

A silence followed. The subject, which the words seemed to hint at,
was one upon which there could be no openness between them. A warm
attachment had sprung up between Hamish Channing and Ellen Huntley; but
whether Mr. Huntley would sanction it, now that the suit had failed, was
doubtful. He had never absolutely sanctioned it before: tacitly, in so
far as that he had not interfered to prevent Ellen from meeting Hamish
in society--in friendly intercourse. Probably, he had never looked upon
it from a serious point of view; possibly, he had never noticed it.
Hamish had not spoken, even to Ellen; but, that they did care for each
other very much, was evident to those who chose to open their eyes.

"No two people in all Helstonleigh were so happy in their children as
you!" exclaimed Mr. Huntley. "Or had such cause to be so."

"None happier," assented Mrs. Channing, tears rising to her eyes. "They
were, and are good, dutiful, and loving. Would you believe that Hamish,
little as he can have to spare, has been one of the chief contributors
to help us here?"

Mr. Huntley lifted his eyebrows in surprise. "Hamish has! How did he
accomplish it?"

"He has, indeed. I fancy he has been saving up with this in view. Dear,
self-denying Hamish!"

Now, it just happened that Mr. Huntley was cognizant of Mr. Hamish's
embarrassments; so, how the "saving up" could have been effected, he was
at a loss to know. "Careless Hamish may have borrowed it," thought he to
himself, "but saved it up he has not."

"What are we approaching now?" interrupted Mr. Channing.

They were approaching the Prussian frontier; and there they had to
change trains: more embarrassment for Mr. Channing. After that, they
went on without interruption, and arrived safely at the terminus, almost
close to Borcette, having been about four hours on the road.

"Borcette at last!" cheerily exclaimed Mr. Huntley, as he shook Mr.
Channing's hand. "Please God, it may prove to you a place of healing!"

"Amen!" was the earnestly murmured answer.



Mrs. Channing was delighted with Borcette. Poor Mr. Channing could as
yet see little of it. It was a small, unpretending place, scarcely ten
minutes' distance from Aix-la-Chapelle, to which she could walk through
an avenue of trees. She had never before seen a bubbling fountain of
boiling water, and regarded those of Borcette with much interest. The
hottest, close to the Hotel Rosenbad, where they sojourned, boasted
a temperature of more than 150° Fahrenheit; it was curious to see it
rising in the very middle of the street. Other things amused her, too;
in fact, all she saw was strange, and bore its peculiar interest. She
watched the factory people flocking to and fro at stated hours in
the day--for Borcette has its factories for woollen fabrics and
looking-glasses--some thousands of souls, their walk as regular
and steady as that of school-girls on their daily march under the
governess's eye. The men wore blue blouses; the women, neat and clean,
wore neither bonnets nor caps; but their hair was twisted round their
heads, as artistically as if done by a hairdresser. Not one, women or
girls, but wore enormous gold earrings, and the girls plaited their
hair, and let it hang behind.

What a contrast they presented to their class in England! Mrs. Channing
had, not long before, spent a few weeks in one of our large factory
towns in the north. She remembered still the miserable, unwholesome,
dirty, poverty-stricken appearance of the factory workers there--their
almost _disgraceful_ appearance; she remembered still the boisterous
or the slouching manner with which they proceeded to their work; their
language anything but what it ought to be. But these Prussians looked a
respectable, well-conducted, well-to-do body of people.

Where could the great difference lie? Not in wages; for the English were
better paid than the Germans. We might go abroad to learn economy, and
many other desirable accompaniments of daily life. Nothing amused her
more than to see the laundresses and housewives generally, washing the
linen at these boiling springs; wash, wash, wash! chatter, chatter,
chatter! She thought they must have no water in their own homes, for
they would flock in numbers to the springs with their kettles and jugs
to fill them.

It was Doctor Lamb who had recommended them to the Hotel Rosenbad;
and they found the recommendation a good one. Removed from the narrow,
dirty, offensive streets of the little town, it was pleasantly situated.
The promenade, with its broad walks, its gay company (many of them
invalids almost as helpless as Mr. Channing), and its musical bands, was
in front of the hotel windows; a pleasant sight for Mr. Channing until
he could get about himself. On the heights behind the hotel were two
churches; and the sound of their services would be wafted down in soft,
sweet strains of melody. In the neighbourhood there was a shrine, to
which pilgrims flocked. Mrs. Channing regarded them with interest, some
with their alpen-stocks, some in fantastic dresses, some with strings of
beads, which they knelt and told; and her thoughts went back to the old
times of the Crusaders. All she saw pleased her. But for her anxiety as
to what would be the effect of the new treatment upon her husband, and
the ever-lively trouble about Arthur, it would have been a time of real
delight to Mrs. Channing.

They could not have been better off than in the Hotel Rosenbad.
Their rooms were on the second floor--a small, exquisitely pretty
sitting-room, bearing a great resemblance to most continental
sitting-rooms, its carpet red, its muslin curtains snowy white; from
this opened a bed-room containing two beds, all as conveniently arranged
as it could be. Their meals were excellent; the dinner-table especially
being abundantly supplied. For all this they paid five francs a day
each, and the additional accommodation of having the meals served in
their room, on account of Mr. Channing, was not noted as an additional
expense. Their wax-lights were charged extra, and that was all. I think
English hotel-keepers might take a lesson from Borcette!

The doctor gave great hopes of Mr. Channing. His opinion was, that,
had Mr. Channing come to these baths when he was first taken ill, his
confinement would have been very trifling. "You will find the greatest
benefit in a month," said the doctor, in answer to the anxious question,
How long the restoration might be in coming. "In two months you will
walk charmingly; in three, you will be well." Cheering news, if it could
only be borne out.

"I will not have you say 'If,'" cried Mr. Huntley, who had made one in
consultation with the doctor. "You are told that it will be so, under
God's blessing, and all you have to do is to anticipate it."

Mr. Channing smiled. They were stationed round the open window of
the sitting-room, he on the most comfortable of sofas, Mrs. Channing
watching the gay prospect below, and thinking she should never tire of
it. "There can be no hope without fear," said he.

"But I would not think of fear: I would bury that altogether," said Mr.
Huntley. "You have nothing to do here but to take the remedies, look
forward with confidence, and be as happy as the day's long."

"I will if I can," said Mr. Channing, with some approach to gaiety. "I
should not have gone to the expense of coming here, but that I had great
hopes of the result."

"Expense, you call it! I call it a marvel of cheapness."

"For your pocket. Cheap as it is, it will tell upon mine: but, if it
does effect my restoration, I shall soon repay it tenfold."

"'If,' again! It will effect it, I say. What shall you do with Hamish,
when you resume your place at the head of your office?"

"Let me resume it first, Huntley."

"There you go! Now, if you were only as sanguine and sure as you ought
to be, I could recommend Hamish to something good to-morrow."

"Indeed! What is it?"

"But, if you persist in saying you shall not get well, or that there's a
doubt whether you will get well, where's the use of my doing it? So long
as you are incapacitated, Hamish must be a fixture in Guild Street."

"True."

"So I shall say no more about it at present. But remember, my old
friend, that when you are upon your legs, and have no further need of
Hamish--who, I expect, will not care to drop down into a clerk again,
where he has been master--I may be able to help him to something; so
do not let anticipations on his score worry you. I suppose you will be
losing Constance soon?"

Mr. Channing gave vent to a groan: a sharp attack of his malady pierced
his frame just then. Certain reminiscences, caused by the question, may
have helped its acuteness; but of that Mr. Huntley had no suspicion.

In the evening, when Mrs. Channing was sitting under the acacia trees,
Mr. Huntley joined her, and she took the opportunity of alluding to the
subject. "Do not mention it again in the presence of my husband," she
said: "talking of it can only bring it before his mind with more vivid
force. Constance and Mr. Yorke have parted."

Had Mrs. Channing told him the cathedral had parted, Mr. Huntley could
not have felt more surprise. "Parted!" he ejaculated. "From what cause?"

"It occurred through this dreadful affair of Arthur's. I fancy the fault
was as much Constance's as Mr. Yorke's, but I do not know the exact
particulars. He did not like it; he thought, I believe, that to marry
a sister of Arthur's would affect his own honour--or she thought it.
Anyway, they parted."

"Had William Yorke been engaged to my daughter, and given her up upon
so shallow a plea, I should have been disposed to chastise him,"
intemperately spoke Mr. Huntley, carried away by his strong feeling.

"But, I say I fancy that the giving up was on Constance's side,"
repeated Mrs. Channing. "She has a keen sense of honour, and she knows
the pride of the Yorkes."

"Pride, such as that, would be the better for being taken down a peg,"
returned Mr. Huntley. "I am sorry for this. The accusation has indeed
been productive of serious effects. Why did not Arthur go to William
Yorke and avow his innocence, and tell him there was no cause for their
parting? Did he not do so?"

Mrs. Channing shook her head only, by way of answer; and, as Mr. Huntley
scrutinized her pale, sad countenance, he began to think there must be
greater mystery about the affair than he had supposed. He said no more.

On the third day he quitted Borcette, having seen them, as he expressed
it, fully installed, and pursued his route homewards, by way of Lille,
Calais, and Dover. Mr. Huntley was no friend to long sea passages:
people with well-filled purses seldom are so.



CHAPTER XXXII.


AN OMINOUS COUGH.

"I say, Jenkins, how you cough!"

"Yes, sir, I do. It's a sign that autumn's coming on. I have been pretty
free from it all the summer. I think the few days I lay in bed through
that fall, must have done good to my chest; for, since then, I have
hardly coughed at all. This last day or two it has been bad again."

"What cough do you call it?" went on Roland Yorke--you may have guessed
he was the speaker. "A churchyard cough?"

"Well, I don't know, sir," said Jenkins. "It _has_ been called that,
before now. I dare say it will be the end of me at last."

"Cool!" remarked Roland. "Cooler than I should be, if I had a cough, or
any plague of the sort, that was likely to be _my_ end. Does it trouble
your mind, Jenkins?"

"No, sir, not exactly. It gives me rather down-hearted thoughts now
and then, till I remember that everything is sure to be ordered for the
best."

"The best! Should you call it for 'the best' if you were to go off?"
demanded Roland, drawing pen-and-ink chimneys upon his blotting-paper,
with clouds of smoke coming out, as he sat lazily at his desk.

"I dare say, sir, if that were to happen, I should be enabled to see
that it was for the best. There's no doubt of it."

"According to that theory, everything that happens must be for the
best. You may as well say that pitching on to your head and half killing
yourself, was for the best. Moonshine, Jenkins!"

"I think even that accident was sent for some wise purpose, sir. I know,
in some respects, it was very palpably for the best. It afforded me some
days of quiet, serious reflection, and it served to show how considerate
everybody was for me."

"And the pain?"

"That was soon over, sir. It made me think of that better place where
there will be no pain. If I am to be called there early, Mr. Roland, it
is well that my thoughts should be led to it."

Roland stared with all his eyes. "I say, Jenkins, what do you mean? You
have nothing serious the matter with you?"

"No, sir; nothing but the cough, and a weakness that I feel. My mother
and brother both died of the same thing, sir."

"Oh, nonsense!" returned Roland. "Because one's mother dies, is that any
reason why we should fall into low spirits and take up the notion
that we are going to die, and look out for it? I am surprised at you,
Jenkins."

"I am not in low spirits, sir; and I am sure I do not look out for it.
I might have looked out for it any autumn or any spring of late, had I
been that way inclined, for I have had the cough at those periods, as
you know, sir. There's a difference, Mr. Roland, between looking out for
a thing, and not shutting one's eyes to what may come."

"I say, old fellow, you just put all such notions away from you"--and
Roland really meant to speak in a kindly, cheering spirit. "My father
died of dropsy; and I may just as well set on, and poke and pat at
myself every other morning, to see if it's not attacking me. Only think
what would become of this office without you! Galloway would fret and
fume himself into his tomb at having nobody but me in it."

A smile crossed Jenkins's face at the idea of the office, confided to
the management of Roland Yorke. Poor Jenkins was one of the doubtful
ones, from a sanitary point of view. Always shadowy, as if a wind would
blow him away, and, for some years, suffering much from a cough, which
only disappeared in summer, he could not, and did not, count upon a long
life. He had quite recovered from his accident, but the cough had now
come on with much force, and he was feeling unusually weak.

"You don't look ill, Jenkins."

"Don't I, sir? The Reverend Mr. Yorke met me, to-day--"

"Don't bring up his name before me!" interrupted Roland, raising his
voice to anger. "I may begin to swear, perhaps, if you do."

"Why, what has he done?" wondered Jenkins.

"Never mind what he has done," nodded Roland. "He is a disgrace to
the name of Yorke. I enjoyed the pleasure of telling him so, the other
night, more than I have enjoyed anything a long while. He was so mad! If
he had not been a parson, I shouldn't wonder but he'd have pitched into
me."

"Mr. Roland, sir, you know the parties are waiting for that lease,"
Jenkins ventured to remind him.

"Let the parties wait," rejoined Roland. "Do they think this office is
going to be hurried as if it were a common lawyer's? I say, Jenkins,
where has old Galloway taken flight to, this afternoon?"

"He has an appointment with the surrogate," answered Jenkins. "Oh!--I
quite forgot to mention something to you, Mr. Roland."

"Mention it now," said Roland.

"A person came this morning, sir, and was rather loud," said Jenkins, in
a tone of deprecation, as if he would apologize for having to repeat the
news. "He thought you were in, Mr. Roland, and that I was only denying
you, and he grew insolent. Mr. Galloway happened to be in his room,
unfortunately, and heard it, and he came out himself, and sent the
person away. Mr. Galloway was very angry, and he desired me to tell you,
sir, that he would not have that sort of people coming here."

Roland took up the ruler, and essayed to balance it on the edge of his
nose. "Who was it?" asked he.

"I am not sure who it was, though I know I have seen the man, somewhere.
I think he wanted payment of a bill, sir."

"Nothing more likely," rejoined Roland, with characteristic
indifference. "I hope his head won't ache till he gets it! I am cleared
out for some time to come. I'd like to know who the fellow was, though,
Jenkins, that I might punish him for his impudence. How dared he come
here?"

"I asked him to leave his name, sir, and he said Mr. Roland Yorke knew
his name quite well enough, without having it left for him."

"As brassy as that, was he! I wish to goodness it was the fashion to
have a cistern in your house-roofs!" emphatically added Roland.

"A what, sir?" cried Jenkins, lifting his eyes from his writing.

"A water-cistern, with a tap, worked by a string, at pleasure. You could
give it a pull, you know, when such customers as those came, and they'd
find themselves deluged. That would cool their insolence, if anything
would. I'd get up a company for it, and take out a patent, if I only had
the ready money."

Jenkins made no reply. He was applying himself diligently to his work,
perhaps hoping that Mr. Roland Yorke might take the hint, and do the
same. Roland actually did take it; at any rate, he dipped his pen in the
ink, and wrote, at the very least, five or six words; then he looked up.

"Jenkins," began he again, "do you know much about Port Natal?"

"I don't know anything about it, sir; except that there is such a
place."

"Why, you know nothing!" cried Roland. "I never saw such a muff. I
wonder what you reckon yourself good for, Jenkins?"

Jenkins shook his head. No matter what reproach was brought against him,
he received it meekly, as if it were his due. "I am not good for much,
sir, beyond just my daily duty here. To know about Port Natal and those
foreign places is not in my work, sir, and so I'm afraid I neglect them.
Did you want any information about Port Natal, Mr. Roland?"

"I have got it," said Roland; "loads of it. I am not sure that I shan't
make a start for it, Jenkins."

"For Port Natal, sir? Why! it's all the way to Africa!"

"Do you suppose I thought it was in Wales?" retorted Roland. "It's the
jolliest opening for an enterprising man, is Port Natal. You may land
there to-day with half-a-crown in your pocket, and come away in a year
or two with your fortune made."

"Indeed!" ejaculated Jenkins. "How is it made, sir?"

"Oh, you learn all that when you get there. I shall _go_, Jenkins, if
things don't look up a bit in these quarters."

"What things, sir?" Jenkins ventured to ask.

"Tin, for one thing; work for another," answered Roland. "If I don't get
more of the one, and less of the other, I shall try Port Natal. I had
a row with my lady at dinner-time. She thinks a paltry sovereign or two
ought to last a fellow for a month. My service to her! I just dropped a
hint of Port Natal, and left her weeping. She'll have come to, by this
evening, and behave liberally."

"But about the work, sir?" said Jenkins. "I'm sure I make it as light
for you as I possibly can. You have only had that lease, sir, all day
yesterday and to-day."

"Oh, it's not just the _amount_ of work, Jenkins," acknowledged Roland;
"it's the being tied by the leg to this horrid old office. As good work
as play, if one has to be in it. I have been fit to cut it altogether
every hour, since Arthur Channing left: for you know you are no company,
Jenkins."

"Very true, sir."

"If I could only get Arthur Channing to go with me, I'd be off
to-morrow! But he laughs at it. He hasn't got half pluck. Only fancy,
Jenkins! my coming back in a year or two with twenty thousand pounds in
my pocket! Wouldn't I give you a treat, old chap! I'd pay a couple of
clerks to do your work here, and carry you off somewhere, in spite of
old Galloway, for a six-months' holiday, where you'd get rid of that
precious cough. I _would_, Jenkins."

"You are very kind, sir--"

Jenkins was stopped by the "precious cough." It seemed completely to
rack his frame. Roland looked at him with sympathy, and just then steps
were heard to enter the passage, and a knock came to the office door.

"Who's come bothering now?" cried Roland. "Come in!"

Possibly the mandate was not heard, for poor Jenkins was coughing still.
"Don't I tell you to come in?" roared out Roland. "Are you deaf?"

"Open the door. I don't care to soil my gloves," came the answer from
the other side. And Mr. Roland slid off his stool to obey, rather
less lazily than usual, for the voice was that of his mother, the Lady
Augusta Yorke.

"A very dutiful son, you are, Mr. Roland!" was the salutation of Lady
Augusta. "Forcing me up from dinner before I had finished!"

"I didn't do anything of the sort," said Roland.

"Yes, you did. With your threats about Port Natal! What do you know
about Port Natal? Why should you go to Port Natal? You will break my
heart with grief, that's what you will do."

"I was not going to start this afternoon," returned Roland. "But the
fact is, mother, I shall have to go to Port Natal, or to some other
port, unless I can get a little money to go on with here. A fellow can't
walk about with empty pockets."

"You undutiful, extravagant boy!" exclaimed Lady Augusta. "I am worried
out of my life for money, between you all. Gerald got two sovereigns
from me yesterday. What money do you want?"

"As much as you can let me have," replied Mr. Roland.

Lady Augusta threw a five-pound note by his side upon the desk. "When
you boys have driven me into the workhouse, you'll be satisfied,
perhaps. And now hold your foolish tongue about Port Natal."

Roland gathered it up with alacrity and a word of thanks. Lady Augusta
had turned to Jenkins.

"You are the best off, Jenkins; you have no children to disturb your
peace. You don't look well, Jenkins."

"Thank you kindly, my lady, I feel but poorly. My cough has become
troublesome again."

"He has just been saying that he thought the cough was going to take him
off," interposed Roland.

Lady Augusta laughed; she supposed it was spoken in jest; and desired
her son to open the door for her. Her gloves were new and delicate.

"Had you chosen to remain at the dinner-table, as a gentleman ought, I
should have told you some news, Mr. Roland," said Lady Augusta.

Roland was always ready for news. He opened his eyes and ears. "Tell it
me now, good mother. Don't bear malice."

"Your uncle Carrick is coming here on a visit."

"I am glad of that; that's good!" cried Roland. "When does he come? I
say, mother, don't be in a hurry! When does he come?"

But Lady Augusta apparently was in a hurry, for she did not wait
to reply. Roland looked after her, and saw her shaking hands with a
gentleman, who was about to enter.

"Oh, he's back, is he!" cried unceremonious Roland. "I thought he was
dead and buried, and gone to heaven."



CHAPTER XXXIII.


NO SENIORSHIP FOR TOM CHANNING.

Shaking hands with Lady Augusta Yorke as she turned out of Mr.
Galloway's office, was Mr. Huntley. He had only just arrived at
Helstonleigh; had not yet been home; but he explained that he wished to
give at once a word of pleasant news to Constance Channing of her
father and mother, and, on his way to the Boundaries, was calling on Mr.
Galloway.

"You will find Miss Channing at my house," said Lady Augusta, after some
warm inquiries touching Mr. and Mrs. Channing. "I would offer to go
back there with you, but I am on my way to make some calls." She turned
towards the town as she spoke, and Mr. Huntley entered the office.

"I thought you were never coming home again!" cried free Roland. "Why,
you have been away three months, Mr. Huntley!"

"Very nearly. Where is Mr. Galloway?"

"In his skin," said Roland.

Jenkins looked up deprecatingly, as if he would apologize for the
rudeness of Roland Yorke. "Mr. Galloway is out, sir. I dare say he will
not be away more than half an hour."

"I cannot wait now," said Mr. Huntley. "So you are one less in this
office than you were when I left?"

"The awfullest shame!" struck in Roland. "Have you heard that Galloway
lost a bank-note out of a letter, sir?"

"Yes. I have heard of it from Mr. Channing."

"And they accused Arthur Channing of taking it!" exclaimed Roland.
"They took him up for it; he was had up twice to the town-hall, like any
felon. You may be slow to believe it, Mr. Huntley, but it's true."

"It was Butterby, sir," interposed Jenkins. "He was rather too officious
over it, and acted without Mr. Galloway's orders."

"Don't talk rubbish, Jenkins," rebuked Roland. "You have defended
Galloway all through the piece, but he is as much to blame as Butterby.
Why did he turn off Channing?"

"You do not think him guilty, Roland, I see," said Mr. Huntley.

"I should hope I don't," answered Roland. "Butterby pitched upon Arthur,
because there happened to be nobody else at hand to pitch upon; just as
he'd have pitched upon you, Mr. Huntley, had you happened to be in the
office that afternoon."

"Mr. Arthur Channing was not guilty, I am sure, sir; pray do not think
him so," resumed Jenkins, his eye lighting as he turned to Mr. Huntley.
And Mr. Huntley smiled in response to the earnestness. _He_ believe
Arthur Channing guilty!

He left a message for Mr. Galloway, and quitted the office. Roland, who
was very difficult to settle to work again, if once disturbed from it,
strided himself across his stool, and tilted it backwards.

"I'm uncommonly glad Carrick's coming!" cried he. "Do you remember him,
Jenkins?"

"Who, sir?"

"That uncle of mine. He was at Helstonleigh three years ago."

"I am not sure that I do, sir."

"What a sieve of a memory you must have! He is as tall as a house. We
are not bad fellows for height, but Carrick beats us. He is not married,
you know, and we look to him to square up many a corner. To do him
justice, he never says No, when he has the cash, but he's often out at
elbows himself. It was he who bought George his commission and fitted
him out; and I know my lady looks to him to find the funds Gerald will
want to make him into a parson. I wonder what he'll do for me?"

Jenkins was about to answer, but was stopped by his cough. For some
minutes it completely exhausted him; and Roland, for want of a hearer,
was fain to bring the legs of his stool down again, and apply himself
lazily to his work.

At this very moment, which was not much past two o'clock in the day,
Bywater had Charley Channing pinned against the palings underneath the
elm trees. He had him all to himself. No other boys were within hearing;
though many were within sight; for they were assembling in and round the
cloisters after their dinner.

"Now, Miss Charley, it's the last time I'll ask you, as true as that
we are living here! You are as obstinate as a young mule. I'll give you
this one chance, and I'll not give you another. I'd advise you to take
it, if you have any regard for your skin."

"I don't know anything, Bywater."

"You shuffling little turncoat! I don't _know_ that there's any fire in
that kitchen chimney of the old dean's, but I am morally certain that
there is, because clouds of black smoke are coming out of it. And you
know just as well who it was that played the trick to my surplice. I
don't ask you to blurt it out to the school, and I won't bring your name
up in it at all; I won't act upon what you tell me. There!"

"Bywater, I don't know; and suspicion goes for nothing. Gaunt said it
did not."

Bywater gave Charley a petulant shake. "I say that you know morally,
Miss Channing. I protest that I heard you mention the word 'surplice' to
Gerald Yorke, the day there was that row in the cloisters, when Roland
Yorke gave Tod a thrashing and I tore the seat out of my pants. Gerald
Yorke looked ready to kill you for it, too! Come, out with it. This is
about the sixth time I have had you in trap, and you have only defied
me."

"I don't defy you, Bywater. I say that I will not tell. I would not if I
knew. It is no business of mine."

"You little ninny! Don't you see that your obstinacy is injuring Tom
Channing? Yorke is going in for the seniorship; is sure to get it--if
it's true that Pye has given the promise to Lady Augusta. But, let it
come out that he was the Jack-in-the-box, and his chance falls to the
ground. And you won't say a word to do good to your brother!"

Charley shook his head. He did not take the bait. "And Tom himself would
be the first to punish me for doing wrong! He never forgives a sneak.
It's of no use your keeping me, Bywater."

"Listen, youngster. I have my suspicions; I have had them all along;
and I have a clue--that's more. But, for a certain reason, I think my
suspicions and my clue point to the wrong party; and I don't care to
stir in it till I am sure. One--two--three! for the last time. Will you
tell me?"

"No."

"Then, look you, Miss Charley Channing. If I do go and denounce the
wrong party, and find out afterwards that it is the wrong one, I'll give
you as sweet a drubbing as you ever had, and your girl's face shan't
save you. Now go."

He propelled Charley from him with a jerk, and propelled him against Mr.
Huntley, who was at that moment turning the corner close to them, on his
way from Mr. Galloway's office.

"You can't go through me, Charley," said Mr. Huntley. "Did you think I
was made of glass, Bywater?"

"My patience!" exclaimed Bywater. "Why, Harry was grumbling, not five
minutes ago, that you were never coming home at all, Mr. Huntley."

"He was, was he? Is he here?"

"Oh, he's somewhere amongst the ruck of them," cried Bywater, looking
towards the distant boys. "He wants you to see about this bother of the
seniorship. If somebody doesn't, we shall get up a mutiny, that's all.
Here, Huntley," he shouted at the top of his voice, "here's an arrival
from foreign parts!"

Some of the nearer boys looked round, and the word was passed to
Huntley. Harry Huntley and the rest soon surrounded him, and Mr. Huntley
had no reason to complain of the warmth of his reception. When news had
recently arrived that Mr. Huntley was coming home, the boys had taken
up the hope of his interference. Of course, schoolboy-like, they all
entered upon it eagerly.

"Stop, stop, stop!" said Mr. Huntley. "One at a time. How can I hear, if
you all talk together? Now, what's the grievance?"

They detailed it as rationally and with as little noise as it was in
their nature to do. Huntley was the only senior present, but Gaunt came
up during the conference.

"It's all a cram, Mr. Huntley," cried Tod Yorke. "My brother Gerald says
that Jenkins dreamt it."

"I'll 'dream' you, if you don't keep your tongue silent, Tod Yorke,"
reprimanded Gaunt. "Take yourself off to a distance, Mr. Huntley," he
added, turning to that gentleman, "it is certain that Lady Augusta
said it; and we can't think she'd say it, unless Pye promised it. It is
unfair upon Charming and Huntley."

A few more words given to the throng, upon general matters--for Mr.
Huntley touched no more on the other topic--and then he continued his
way to Lady Augusta's. As he passed the house of the Reverend Mr.
Pye, that gentleman was coming out of it. Mr. Huntley, a decisive,
straightforward man, entered upon the matter at once, after some moments
spent in greeting.

"You will pardon my speaking of it to you personally," he said, when
he had introduced the subject, "In most cases I consider it perfectly
unjustifiable for the friends of boys in a public school to interfere
with the executive of its master; but this affair is different. Is it,
or is it not correct, that there is an intention afloat to exalt Yorke
to the seniorship?"

"Mr. Huntley, you must be aware that in _no case_ can the head-master of
a public school allow himself to be interfered with, or questioned," was
the reply of the master.

"I hope you will meet this amicably," returned Mr. Huntley.

"I have no other wish than to be friendly; quite so. We all deem
ourselves under obligations to you, Mr. Pye, and esteem you highly; we
could not have, or wish, a better preceptor for our sons. But in this
instance, my duty is plain. The injustice--if any such injustice is
contemplated--tells particularly upon Tom Channing and my son. Mr.
Channing does not give ear to it; I would rather not; nevertheless,
you must pardon me for acting, in the uncertainty, as though it had
foundation. I presume you cannot be ignorant of the dissatisfied feeling
that reigns in the school?"

"I have intimated that I will not be questioned," said Mr. Pye.

"Quite right. I merely wished to express a hope that there may be no
foundation for the rumour. If Tom Channing and Harry forfeit their
rights legally, through want of merit, or ill conduct, it is not I that
would urge a word in their favour. Fair play's a jewel: and the highest
boy in the school should have no better chance given him than the
lowest. But if the two senior boys do not so forfeit their rights, Yorke
must not be exalted above them."

"Who is to dictate to me?" demanded Mr. Pye. "Certainly not I," replied
Mr. Huntley, in a courteous but firm tone. "Were the thing to take
place, I should simply demand, through the Dean and Chapter, that the
charter of the school might be consulted, as to whether its tenets had
teen strictly followed."

The head-master made no reply. Neither did he appear angry; only
impassible. Mr. Huntley had certainly hit the right nail on the head;
for the master of Helstonleigh College school was entirely under the
control, of the Dean and Chapter.

"I can speak to you upon this all the more freely and with better
understanding, since it is not my boy who stands any chance," said Mr.
Huntley, with a cordial smile. "Tom Channing heads him on the rolls."

"Tom Channing will not be senior; I have no objection to affirm so much
to you," observed the master, falling in with Mr. Huntley's manner,
"This sad affair of his brother Arthur's debars him."

"It ought not to debar him, even were Arthur guilty," warmly returned
Mr. Huntley.

"In justice to Tom Channing himself, no. But," and the master dropped
his voice to a confidential tone, "it is necessary sometimes to study
the prejudices taken up by a school; to see them, and not to appear
to see them--if you understand me. Were Tom Channing made head of the
school, part of the school would rise up in rebellion; some of the boys
would, no doubt, be removed from it. For the peace of the school alone,
it could not be done. The boys would not now obey him as senior, and
there would be perpetual warfare, resulting we know not in what."

"Arthur Channing was not guilty. I feel as sure of it as I do of my own
life."

"He is looked upon as guilty by those who must know best, from their
familiarity with the details," rejoined Mr. Pye, "For my own part, I
have no resource but to believe him so, I regard it as one of those
anomalies which you cannot understand, or would believe in, but that it
happens under your own eye; where the moment's yielding to temptation
is at variance with the general character, with the whole past life.
Of course, in these cases, the disgrace is reflected upon relatives and
connections, and they have to suffer for it. I cannot help the school's
resenting it upon Tom."

"It will be cruel to deprive Tom of the seniorship upon these grounds,"
remonstrated Mr. Huntley.

"To himself individually," assented the master. "But it is well that
one, promoted to a foundation-school's seniorship, should be free from
moral taint. Were there no feeling whatever against Tom Channing in the
school, I do not think I could, consistently with my duty and with a due
regard to the fitness of things, place him as senior. I am sorry for
the boy; I always liked him; and he has been of good report, both as to
scholarship and conduct."

"I know one thing," said Mr. Huntley: "that you may search the school
through, and not find so good a senior as Tom Channing would make."

"He would have made a very good one, there's no doubt. Would have ruled
the boys well and firmly, though without oppression. Yes, we lose a good
senior in Tom Channing."

There was no more to be said. Mr. Huntley felt that the master was
thoroughly decided; and for the other matter, touching Yorke, he had
done with it until the time of appointment. As he went musing on, he
began to think that Mr. Pye might be right with regard to depriving Tom
of the seniorship, however unjust it might appear to Tom himself. Mr.
Huntley remembered that not one of the boys, except Gaunt, had mentioned
Tom Channing's name in his recent encounter with them; they had spoken
of the injustice of exalting Yorke over _Harry Huntley_. He had not
noticed it at the time.

He proceeded to Lady Augusta's, and Constance was informed of his visit.
She had three pupils at Lady Augusta's now, for that lady had kindly
insisted that Constance should bring Annabel to study with her
daughters, during the absence of Mrs. Channing. Constance left them to
themselves and entered the drawing-room. Pretty Constance! so fresh, so
lovely, in her simple muslin dress, and her braided hair. Mr. Huntley
caught her hands, and imprinted a very fatherly kiss upon her fair
forehead.

"That is from the absentees, Constance. I told them I should give it to
you. And I bring you the bravest news, my dear. Mr. Channing was already
finding benefit from his change; he was indeed. There is every hope that
he will be restored."

Constance was radiant with delight. To see one who had met and stayed
with her father and mother at their distant sojourn, was almost like
seeing her parents themselves.

"And now, my dear, I want a word with you about all those untoward
trials and troubles, which appear to have come thickly during my
absence," continued Mr. Huntley. "First of all, as to yourself. What
mischief-making wind has been arising between you and William Yorke?"

The expression of Constance's face changed to sadness, and her cheeks
grew crimson.

"My dear, you will not misunderstand me," he resumed. "I heard of these
things at Borcette, and I said that I should undertake to inquire into
them in the place of your father: just as he, health permitting him,
would have undertaken for me in my absence, did any trouble arise to
Ellen. Is it true that you and Mr. Yorke have parted?"

"Yes," faltered Constance.

"And the cause?"

Constance strove to suppress her tears. "You can do nothing, Mr.
Huntley; nothing whatever. Thank you all the same."

"He has made this accusation upon Arthur the plea for breaking off his
engagement?"

"I could not marry him with this cloud upon me," she murmured. "It would
not be right."

"Cloud upon _you!_" hastily ejaculated Mr. Huntley. "The accusation
against Arthur was the sole cause, then, of your parting?"

"Yes; the sole cause which led to it."

Mr. Huntley paused, apparently in thought. "He is presented to Hazeldon
Chapel, I hear. Did his rupture with you take place _after_ that
occurrence?"

"I see what you are thinking," she impulsively cried, caring too much
for Mr. Yorke not to defend him. "The chief fault of the parting was
mine. I felt that it would not do to become his wife, being--being--"
she hesitated much--"Arthur's sister. I believe that he also felt it.
Indeed, Mr. Huntley, there is no help for it; nothing can be done."

"Knowing what I do of William Yorke, I am sure that the pain of
separation must be keen, whatever may be his pride. Constance, unless I
am mistaken, it is equally keen to you."

Again rose the soft damask blush to the face of Constance. But she
answered decisively. "Mr. Huntley, I pray you to allow the subject to
cease. Nothing can bring about the renewal of the engagement between
myself and Mr. Yorke. It is irrevocably at an end."

"Until Arthur shall be cleared, you mean?"

"No," she answered--a vision of Hamish and _his_ guilt flashing across
her--"I mean for good."

"Why does not Arthur assert his innocence to Mr. Yorke? Constance, I am
sure you know, as well as I do, that he is not guilty. _Has_ he asserted
it?"

She made no answer.

"As I would have wished to serve you, so will I serve Arthur," said Mr.
Huntley. "I told your father and mother, Constance, that I should make
it my business to investigate the charge against him; I shall leave not
a stone unturned to bring his innocence to light."

The avowal terrified Constance, and she lost her self-possession. "Oh
don't! don't!" she uttered. "You must not, indeed! you do not know the
mischief it might do."

"Mischief to what?--to whom?" exclaimed Mr. Huntley.

Constance buried her face in her hands, and burst into tears. The next
moment she had raised it, and taken Mr. Huntley's hand between hers.
"You are papa's friend! You would do us good and not harm--is it not
so?" she beseechingly said.

"My dear child," he exclaimed, quite confounded by her words--her
distress: "you know that I would not harm any of you for the world."

"Then _pray_ do not seek to dive into that unhappy story," she
whispered. "It must not be too closely looked into."

And Mr. Huntley quitted Constance, as a man who walks in a dream, so
utterly amazed was he. What did it all mean?

As he was going through the cloisters--his nearest way to the
town--Roland Yorke came flying up. With his usual want of ceremony,
he passed his arm within Mr. Huntley's. "Galloway's come in now," he
exclaimed, "and I am off to the bank to pay in a bag of money for him.
Jenkins told him you had called. Just hark at that clatter!"

The clatter, alluded to by Mr. Roland, was occasioned by the tramp of
the choristers on the cloister flags. They were coming up behind, full
speed, on their way from the schoolroom to enter the cathedral, for the
bell had begun for service.

"And here comes that beautiful relative of mine," continued Roland, as
he and Mr. Huntley passed the cathedral entrance, and turned into the
west quadrangle of the cloisters. "Would you credit it, Mr. Huntley,
that he has turned out a sneak? He has. He was to have married Constance
Channing, you know, and, for fear Arthur should have touched the note,
he has declared off it. If I were Constance, I would never allow the
fellow to speak to me again."

Apparently it was the course Mr. Roland himself intended to observe.
As the Rev. Mr. Yorke, who was coming in to service, drew near, Roland
strode on, his step haughty, his head in the air, which was all the
notice he vouchsafed to take. Probably the minor canon did not care very
much for Mr. Roland's notice, one way or the other; but his eye lighted
with pleasure at the sight of Mr. Huntley, and he advanced to him, his
hand outstretched.

But Mr. Huntley--a man given to show in his manner his likes and
dislikes--would not see the hand, would not stop at all, but passed Mr.
Yorke with a distant bow. That gentleman had fallen pretty deeply in his
estimation, since he had heard of the rupture with Constance Channing.
Mr. Yorke stood for a moment as if petrified, and then strode on his way
with a step as haughty as Roland's.

Roland burst into a glow of delight. "That's the way to serve him, Mr.
Huntley! I hope he'll get cut by every good man in Helstonleigh."



CHAPTER XXXIV.


GERALD YORKE MADE INTO A "BLOCK."

The Rev. Mr. Yorke, in his surplice and hood, stood in his stall in the
cathedral. His countenance was stern, absorbed; as that of a man who is
not altogether at peace with himself. Let us hope that he was absorbed
in the sacred service in which he was taking a part: but we all know,
to our cost, that the spirit will wander at these times, and worldly
thoughts obtrude themselves. The greatest divine that the Church can
boast, is not always free from them.

Not an official part in the service was Mr. Yorke taking, that
afternoon; the duty was being performed by the head-master, whose week
it was to take it. Very few people were at service, and still less of
the clergy; the dean was present, but not one of the chapter.

Arthur Channing sat in his place at the organ. Arthur's thoughts, too,
were wandering; and--you know it is of no use to make people out to be
better than they are--wandering to things especially mundane. Arthur had
not ceased to look out for something to do, to replace the weekly
funds lost when he left Mr. Galloway's. He had not yet been successful:
employment is more easily sought than found, especially by one lying
under doubt, as he was. But he had now heard of something which he hoped
he might gain.

Jenkins, saying nothing to Roland Yorke, or to any one else, had hurried
to Mr. Channing's house that day between one and two o'clock; and
hurrying there and back had probably caused that temporary increase of
cough, which you heard of a chapter or two back. Jenkins's errand was to
inform Arthur that Dove and Dove (solicitors in the town, who were by
no means so dove-like as their name) required a temporary clerk, and
he thought Arthur might suit them. Arthur had asked Jenkins to keep a
look-out for him.

"Is one of their clerks leaving?" Arthur inquired.

"One of them met with an accident last night up at the railway-station,"
replied Jenkins. "Did you not hear of it, sir?"

"I heard of that. I did not know who was hurt. He was trying to cross
the line, was he not?"

"Yes, sir. It was Marston. He had been out with some friends, and had
taken, it is thought, more than was good for him. A porter pulled him
back, but Marston fell, and the engine crushed his foot. He will be laid
up two months, the doctor says, and Dove and Dove are looking out for
some one to fill his place for the time. If you would like to take it,
sir, you could be looking out for something else while you are there.
You would more readily get the two hours' daily leave of absence from
a place like that, where they keep three or four clerks, than you would
from where they keep only one."

"If I like to take it!" repeated Arthur. "Will they like to take me?
That's the question. Thank you, Jenkins; I'll see about it at once."

He was not able to do so immediately after Jenkins left; for Dove and
Dove's offices were situated at the other end of the town, and he might
not be back in time for service. So he waited and went first to college,
and sat, I say, in his place at the organ, his thoughts filled, in spite
of himself, with the new project.

The service came to an end: it had seemed long to Arthur--so prone are
we to estimate time by our own feelings--and his voluntary, afterwards,
was played a shade faster than usual. Then he left the cathedral by the
front entrance, and hastened to the office of Dove and Dove.

Arthur had had many a rebuff of late, when bent on a similar
application, and his experience taught him that it was best, if
possible, to see the principals: not to subject himself to the careless
indifference or to the insolence of a clerk. Two young men were writing
at a desk when he entered. "Can I see Mr. Dove?" he inquired.

The elder of the writers scrutinized him through the railings of the
desk. "Which of them?" asked he.

"Either," replied Arthur. "Mr. Dove, or Mr. Alfred Dove. It does not
matter."

"Mr. Dove's out, and Mr. Alfred Dove's not at home," was the response.
"You'll have to wait, or to call again."

He preferred to wait: and in a very few minutes Mr. Dove came in. Arthur
was taken into a small room, so full of papers that it seemed difficult
to turn in it, and there he stated his business.

"You are a son of Mr. Channing's, I believe," said Mr. Dove. He spoke
morosely, coarsely; and he had a morose, coarse countenance--a sure
index of the mind, in him, as in others. "Was it you who figured in the
proceedings at the Guildhall some few weeks ago?"

You may judge whether the remark called up the blood to Arthur's face.
He suppressed his mortification, and spoke bravely.

"It was myself, sir. I was not guilty. My employment in your office
would be the copying of deeds solely, I presume; that would afford me
little temptation to be dishonest, even were I inclined to be so."

Had any one paid Arthur in gold to keep in that little bit of sarcasm,
he could not have done so. Mr. Dove caught up the idea that the words
_were_ uttered in sarcasm, and scowled fitfully.

"Marston was worth twenty-five shillings a week to us: and gained it.
You would not be worth half as much."

"You do not know what I should be worth, sir, unless you tried me. I am
a quick and correct copyist; but I should not expect to receive as much
as an ordinary clerk, on account of having to attend the cathedral for
morning and afternoon service. Wherever I go, I must have that privilege
allowed me."

"Then I don't think you'll get it with us. But look here, young
Channing, it is my brother who undertakes the engaging and management of
the clerks--you can speak to him."

"Can I see him this afternoon, sir?"

"He'll be in presently. Of course, we could not admit you into our
office unless some one became security. You must be aware of that."

The words seemed like a checkmate to Arthur. He stopped in hesitation.
"Is it usual, sir?"

"Usual--no! But it is necessary in _your_ case"

There was a coarse, pointed stress upon the "your," natural to the man.
Arthur turned away. For a moment he felt that to Dove and Dove's he
could not and would not go; every feeling within him rebelled against
it. Presently the rebellion calmed down, and he began to think about the
security.

It would be of little use, he was sure, to apply to Mr. Alfred Dove--who
was a shade coarser than Mr. Dove, if anything--unless prepared to say
that security could be given. His father's he thought he might command:
but he was not sure of that, under present circumstances, without first
speaking to Hamish. He turned his steps to Guild Street, his unhappy
position pressing with unusual weight upon his feelings.

"Can I see my brother?" he inquired of the clerks in the office.

"He has some gentlemen with him just now, sir. I dare say you can go
in."

There was nothing much amiss in the words; but in the tone there was. It
was indicative of slight, of contempt. It was the first time Arthur had
been there since the suspicion had fallen on him, and they seemed to
stare at him as if he had been a hyena; not a respectable hyena either.

He entered Hamish's room. Hamish was talking with two gentlemen,
strangers to Arthur, but they were on the point of leaving. Arthur stood
away against the wainscoting by the corner table, waiting until
they were gone, his attitude, his countenance, his whole appearance
indicative of depression and sadness.

Hamish closed the door and turned to him. He laid his hand kindly upon
his shoulder; his voice was expressive of the kindest sympathy. "So you
have found your way here once more, Arthur! I thought you were never
coming again. What can I do for you, lad?"

"I have been to Dove and Dove's. They are in want of a clerk. I think
perhaps they would take me; but, Hamish, they want security."

"Dove and Dove's," repeated Hamish. "Nice gentlemen, both of them!" he
added, in his half-pleasant, half-sarcastic manner. "Arthur, boy, I'd
not be under Dove and Dove if they offered me a gold nugget a day, as
weighty as the Queen's crown. You must not go there."

"They are not agreeable men; I know that; they are not men who are liked
in Helstonleigh, but what difference will that make to me? So long as
I turn out their parchments properly engrossed, that is all I need care
for."

"What has happened? Why are you looking so sad?" reiterated Hamish, who
could not fail to perceive that there was some strange grief at work.

"Is my life so sunny just now, that I can always be as bright as you?"
retorted Arthur--for Hamish's undimmed gaiety did sometimes jar upon his
wearied spirit. "I shall go to Dove and Dove's if they will take me,"
he added, resolutely. "Will you answer for me, Hamish, in my father's
name?"

"What amount of security do they require?" asked Hamish. And it was a
very proper, a very natural question; but even that grated on Arthur's
nerves.

"Are you afraid of me?" he rejoined. "Or do you fear my father would
be?"

"I dare say they would take my security," was Hamish's reply. "I will
answer for you to any amount. That is," and again came his smile, "to
any amount they may deem me good for. If they don't like mine, I can
offer my father's. Will that do, Arthur?"

"Thank you; that is all I want."

"Don't go to Dove and Dove's, old boy," Hamish said again, as Arthur
was leaving the room. "Wait patiently for something better to turn
up. There's no such great hurry. I wish there was room for you to come
here!"

"It is only a temporary thing; it is not for long," replied Arthur; and
he went out.

On going back to Dove and Dove's, the first person he saw, upon opening
the door of the clerks' room, was Mr. Alfred Dove. He appeared to be in
a passion over something that had gone wrong, and was talking fast and
furiously.

"What do you want?" he asked, wheeling round upon Arthur. Arthur replied
by intimating that he would be glad to speak with him.

"Can't you speak, then?" returned Mr. Alfred Dove. "I am not deaf."

Thus met, Arthur did not repeat his wish for privacy. He intimated his
business, uncertain whether Mr. Alfred Dove had heard of it or not; and
stated that the security could be given.

"I don't know what you mean about 'security,'" was Mr. Alfred Dove's
rejoinder. "What security?"

"Mr. Dove said that if I came into your office security would be
required," answered Arthur. "My friends are ready to give it."

"Mr. Dove told you that, did he? Just like him. He has nothing to do
with the details of the office. Did he know who you are?"

"Certainly he did, sir."

"I should have thought not," offensively returned Mr. Alfred Dove.
"You must possess some assurance, young man, to come after a place in
a respectable office. Security, or no security, we can't admit one into
ours, who lies under the accusation of being light-fingered."

It was the man all over. Hamish had said, "Don't go to Dove and Dove's."
Mr. Alfred Dove stood with his finger pointing to the door, and the two
clerks stared in an insolent manner at Arthur. With a burning brow and
rising spirit, Arthur left the room, and halted for a moment in
the passage outside. "Patience, patience," he murmured to himself;
"patience, and trust in God!" He turned into the street quickly, and ran
against Mr. Huntley.

For a minute he could not speak. That gentleman detected his emotion,
and waited till it was over. "Have you been insulted, Arthur?" he
breathed.

"Not much more so than I am now getting accustomed to," was the answer
that came from his quivering lips. "I heard they wanted a clerk, and
went to offer myself. I am looked upon as a felon now, Mr. Huntley."

"Being innocent as the day."

"I am innocent, before God," spoke Arthur, in the impulse of his
emotion, in the fervency of his heart. That he spoke but the solemn
truth, it was impossible to doubt, even had Mr. Huntley been inclined to
doubt; and Arthur may be excused for forgetting his usual caution in the
moment's bitterness.

"Arthur," said Mr. Huntley, "I promised your father and mother that I
should do all in my power to establish your innocence. Can you tell me
how I am to set about it?"

"You cannot do it at all, Mr. Huntley. Things must remain as they are."

"Why?"

"I cannot explain why. I can only repeat it."

"There is some strange mystery attaching to this."

Arthur did not gainsay it.

"Arthur, if I am to allow the affair to rest as I find it, you must at
least give me a reason why I may not act. What is it?"

"Because the investigation could only cause tenfold deeper trouble. You
are very good to think of helping me, Mr. Huntley, but I must fight my
own battle. Others must be quiet in this matter--for all our sakes."

Mr. Huntley gazed after Arthur as he moved away. Constance first! Arthur
next! What could be the meaning of it all? Where did the mystery lie? A
resolution grew up in Mr. Huntley's heart that he would fathom it, for
private reasons of his own; and, in the impulse of the moment, he bent
his steps there and then, towards the police-station, and demanded an
interview with Roland Yorke's _bête noire_, Mr. Butterby.

But the cathedral is not quite done with for the afternoon.

Upon the conclusion of service, the dean lingered a few minutes in the
nave, speaking to one of the vergers. When he turned to continue his
way, he encountered the Rev. Mr. Pye, who had been taking off his
surplice in the vestry. The choristers had been taking off their
surplices also, and were now trooping through the cloisters back to the
schoolroom, not more gently than usual. The dean saluted Mr. Pye, and
they walked out together.

"It is impossible to keep them quiet unless one's eye is continually
upon them!" exclaimed the head-master, half apologetically, as they came
in view of the rebels. He had a great mind to add, "And one's cane."

"Boys will be boys," said the dean. "How has this foolish opinion
arisen among them, that the names, standing first on the roll for the
seniorship, will not be allowed to compete for it?" continued he, with
much suavity.

Mr. Pye looked rather flushed. "Really I am unable to say, Mr. Dean. It
is difficult to account for all the notions taken up by schoolboys."

"Boys do take up strange notions," blandly assented the dean. "But,
I think, were I you, Mr. Pye, I would set their minds at rest in this
respect. You have not yet deemed it worth while, I dare say: but it may
perhaps be as well to do so. When the elders of a school once take up
the idea that their studies may not meet with due reward, it tends to
render them indifferent. I remember once--it was just after I came here
as dean, many years ago--the head-master of the school exalted a boy to
be senior who stood sixth or seventh on the rolls, and was positively
half an idiot. But those times are past."

"Certainly they are," remarked the master.

"It was an unpleasant duty I had to perform then," continued the
dean, in the same agreeable tone, as if he were relating an anecdote:
"unpleasant both for the parents of the boy, and for the head-master.
But, as I remark, such things could not occur now. I think I would
intimate to the king's scholars that they have nothing to fear."

"It shall be done, Mr. Dean," was the response of the master; and they
exchanged bows as the dean turned into the deanery. "She's three parts
a fool, is that Lady Augusta," muttered the master to the cloister-flags
as he strode over them. "Chattering magpie!"

As circumstances had it, the way was paved for the master to speak at
once. Upon entering the college schoolroom, in passing the senior desk,
he overheard whispered words of dispute between Gerald Yorke and Pierce
senior, touching this very question, the seniorship. The master reached
his own desk, gave it a sharp rap with a cane that lay near to hand, and
spoke in his highest tone, looking red and angry.

"What _are_ these disputes that appear to have been latterly
disturbing the peace of the school? What is that you are saying, Gerald
Yorke?--that the seniorship is to be yours?"

Gerald Yorke looked red in his turn, and somewhat foolish. "I beg
your pardon, sir; I was not saying precisely that," he answered with
hesitation.

"I think you were saying precisely that," was the response of the
master. "My ears are quicker than you may fancy, Mr. Yorke. If you
really have been hugging yourself with the notion that the promotion
will be yours, the sooner you disabuse your mind of it, the better.
Whoever gains the seniorship will gain it by priority of right, by
scholarship, or by conduct--as the matter may be. Certainly not by
anything else. Allow me to recommend you, one and all"--and the master
threw his eyes round the desks generally, and gave another emphatic
stroke with the cane--"that you concern yourselves with your legitimate
business; not with mine."

Gerald did not like the reproof, or the news. He remained silent and
sullen until the conclusion of school, and then went tearing home.

"A pretty block you have made of me!" he uttered, bursting into the
presence of Lady Augusta, who had just returned home, and sat fanning
herself on a sofa before an open window.

"Why, what has taken you?" returned her ladyship.

"It's a shame, mother! Filling me up with the news that I was to be
senior? And now Pye goes and announces that I'm a fool for supposing so,
and that it's to go in regular rotation."

"Pye does not mean it," said my lady. "There, hold your tongue, Gerald.
I am too hot to talk."

"I know that every fellow in the school will have the laugh at me, if I
am to be made a block of, like this!" grumbled Gerald.



CHAPTER XXXV.


THE EARL OF CARRICK.

On a fine afternoon in August--and the month was now drawing towards
its close--the 2.25 train from London steamed into the station at
Helstonleigh, eight minutes behind time, and came to a standstill.
Amongst the passengers who alighted, was a gentleman of middle age, as
it is called--in point of fact, he had entered his fiftieth year, as
the peerage would have told any curious inquirer. As he stepped out of a
first-class carriage, several eyes were drawn towards him, for he was of
notable height, towering above every one; even above Roland Yorke, who
was of good height himself, and stood on the platform waiting for him.

It was the Earl of Carrick, brother to Lady Augusta Yorke, and much
resembling her--a pleasant, high cheek-boned, easy face, betraying more
of good humour than of high or keen intellect, and nothing of pride. The
pride of the young Yorkes was sometimes talked of in Helstonleigh, but
it came from their father's side, not from Lady Augusta's. The earl
spoke with a slight brogue, and shook both Roland's hands heartily, as
soon as he found that it was to Roland they belonged.

"Sure then! but I didn't know ye, Roland! If ye had twenty years more on
to ye're head, I should have thought it was ye're father."

"Have I grown like him, Uncle Carrick?"

"Ye've grown out of knowledge, me boy. And how's ye're mother, and how
are the rest of ye?"

"Stunning," responded Roland. "They are all outside. She would bring up
the whole caravan. The last time the lot came to the station, the two
young ones got upon the line to dance a hornpipe on the rails; so she
has kept them by her, and is making Gerald and Tod look after them.
Where's your luggage, Uncle Carrick? Have you brought a servant?"

"Not I," replied the earl. "Servants are only troubles in other folk's
houses, and me bit of luggage isn't so much but I can look after it
meself. I hope they put it in," he continued, looking about amid the
boxes and portmanteaus, and unable to see his own.

The luggage was found at last, and given in charge of a porter; and Lord
Carrick went out to meet his relatives. There were enough of them to
meet--the whole caravan, as Roland had expressed it. Lady Augusta sat in
her barouche--her two daughters and Constance and Annabel Channing with
her. Little Percy and Frank, two most troublesome children, were darting
in and out amidst the carriages, flys, and omnibuses; and Gerald and
Tod had enough to do to keep them out of danger. It was so like Lady
Augusta--bringing them all to the station to welcome their uncle!
Warm-hearted and impulsive, she had little more judgment than a child.
Constance had in vain protested against herself and Annabel being
pressed into the company; but her lady-ship looked upon it as a sort of
triumphal expedition, and was deaf to remonstrances.

The earl, warm-hearted and impulsive also, kissed them all, Constance
included. She could not help herself; before she was aware of the honour
intended her, the kiss was given--a hearty smack, as all the rest had.
The well-meaning, simple-minded Irishman could not have been made to
understand why he should not give a kiss of greeting to Constance as
readily as he gave it to his sister, or his sister's daughters. He
protested that he remembered Constance and Annabel well. It may be
questioned whether there was not more of Irish politeness than of truth
in the assertion, though he had seen them occasionally, during his visit
of three years ago.

How were they all to get home? In and on the barouche, as all, except
Roland, had come, to the gratification of the curious town? Lord Carrick
wished to walk; his long legs were cramped: but Lady Augusta would not
hear of it, and pulled him into the carriage, Gerald, Percy, and Frank
were fighting for places on the box beside the driver, Tod intending to
hang on behind, as he had done in coming, when the deep-toned college
bell struck out a quarter to three, and the sound came distinctly to
their ears, borne from the distance. It put a stop to the competition,
so far as Gerald was concerned. He and Tod, startled half out of their
senses, for they had not observed the lapse of time, set off on foot as
hard as they could go.

Meanwhile, Roland, putting aside the two young ones with his strong
hand, chose to mount the box himself; at which they both began to shriek
and roar. Matters were compromised after a while; Percy was taken up by
Roland, and Frank was, by some process of packing, stowed away inside.
Then the cargo started! Lady Augusta happy as a princess, with her
newly-met brother and her unruly children, and not caring in the least
for the gaze of the people who stood in the street, or came rushing to
their windows and doors to criticise the load.

Crowded as the carriage was, it was pleasanter to be in it, on that
genial day, than to be at work in close rooms, dark shops, or dull
offices. Amongst others, who were so confined and hard at work, was
Jenkins at Mr. Galloway's. Poor Jenkins had not improved in health
during the week or two that had elapsed since you last saw him. His
cough was more troublesome still, and he was thinner and weaker. But
Jenkins, humble and conscientious, thinking himself one who was not
worth thinking of at all in comparison with others, would have died
at his post rather than give in. Certainly, Arthur Channing had been
discharged at a most inopportune moment, for Mr. Galloway, as steward to
the Dean and Chapter, had more to do about Michaelmas, than at any other
time of the year. From that epoch until November, when the yearly audit
took place, there was a good deal of business to be gone through.

On this afternoon, Jenkins was particularly busy. Mr. Galloway was away
from home for a day or two--on business connected with that scapegrace
cousin of his, Roland Yorke proclaimed; though whether Mr. Roland
had any foundation for the assertion, except his own fancy, may be
doubted--and Jenkins had it all upon his own shoulders. Jenkins,
unobtrusive and meek though he was, was perfectly competent to manage,
and Mr. Galloway left him with entire trust. But it is one thing to be
competent to manage, and another thing to be able to do two persons'
work in one person's time; and, that, Jenkins was finding this
afternoon. He had letters to write; he had callers to answer; he had the
general business of the office to attend to; he had the regular deeds to
prepare and copy. The copying of those deeds was the work belonging
to Roland Yorke. Roland did not seem to be in a hurry to come to them.
Jenkins cast towards them an anxious eye, but Jenkins could do no
more, for his own work could not be neglected. He felt very unwell that
afternoon--oppressed, hot, unable to breathe. He wiped the moisture from
his brow three or four times, and then thought he might be the better
for a little air, and opened the window. But the breeze, gentle as it
was, made him cough, and he shut it again.

Of course, no one, knowing Mr. Roland Yorke, could be surprised at his
starting to the station to meet Lord Carrick, instead of to the office
to do his work. He had gone home at one o'clock that day, as usual. Not
that there was any necessity for his doing so, for the dinner hour was
postponed until later, and it would have furthered the business of the
office had he remained for once at his post. Had any one suggested to
Roland to do so, he would have thought he was going to be worked to
death. About twenty minutes past three he came clattering in.

"I say, Jenkins, I want a holiday this afternoon."

Jenkins, albeit the most accommodating spirit in the world, looked
dubious, and cast a glance at the papers on Roland's desk. "Yes, sir.
But what is to be done about the Uphill farm leases?"

"Now, Jenkins, it's not a bit of good for you to begin to croak! If I
gave in to you, you'd get as bad as Galloway. When I have my mind off
work, I can't settle to it again, and it's of no use trying. Those
Uphill deeds are not wanted before to-morrow."

"But they are wanted by eleven o'clock, sir, so that they must be
finished, or nearly finished, to-night. You know, sir, there has been a
fuss about them, and early to-morrow, is the very latest time they must
be sent in."

"I'll get up, and be here in good time and finish them," said Roland.
"Just put it to yourself, Jenkins, if you had an uncle that you'd not
seen for seventeen ages, whether you'd like to leave him the minute he
puts his foot over the door-sill."

"I dare say I should not, sir," said good-natured Jenkins, turning about
in his mind how he could make time to do Roland's work. "His lordship is
come, then, Mr. Roland?"

"His lordship's come, bag and baggage," returned Roland. "I say,
Jenkins, what a thousand shames it is that he's not rich! He is the
best-natured fellow alive, and would do anything in the world for us, if
he only had the tin."

"Is he not rich, sir?"

"Why, of course he's not," confidentially returned Roland. "Every one
knows the embarrassments of Lord Carrick. When he came into the estates,
they had been mortgaged three deep by the last peer, my grandfather--an
old guy in a velvet skull-cap, I remember, who took snuff
incessantly--and my uncle, on his part, had mortgaged them three
deep again, which made six. How Carrick manages to live nobody knows.
Sometimes he's in Ireland, in the tumble-down old homestead, with just
a couple of servants to wait upon him; and sometimes he's on the
Continent, _en garçon_--if you know what that means. Now and then he
gets a windfall when any of his tenants can be brought to pay up; but he
is the easiest-going coach in life, and won't press them. Wouldn't I!"

"Some of those Irish tenants are very poor, sir, I have heard."

"Poor be hanged! What is a man's own, ought to be his own. Carrick says
there are some years that he does not draw two thousand pounds, all
told."

"Indeed, sir! That is not much for a peer."

"It's not much for a commoner, let alone a peer," said Roland, growing
fierce. "If I were no better off than Carrick, I'd drop the title;
that's what I'd do. Why, if he could live as a peer ought, do you
suppose we should be in the position we are? One a soldier; one (and
that's me) lowered to be a common old proctor; one a parson; and all the
rest of it! If Carrick could be as other earls are, and have interest
with the Government, and that, we should stand a chance of getting
properly provided for. Of course he can make interest with nobody while
his estates bring him in next door to nothing."

"Are there no means of improving his estates, Mr. Roland?" asked
Jenkins.

"If there were, he's not the one to do it. And I don't know that it
would do him any material good, after all," acknowledged Roland. "If he
gets one thousand a year, he spends two; and if he had twenty thousand,
he'd spend forty. It might come to the same in the long run, so far as
he goes: _we_ might be the better for it, and should be. It's a shame,
though, that we should need to be the better for other folk's money; if
this were not the most unjust world going, everybody would have fortunes
of their own."

After this friendly little bit of confidence touching his uncle's
affairs, Roland prepared to depart. "I'll be sure to come in good time
In the morning, Jenkins, and set to it like a brick," was his parting
salutation.

Away he went. Jenkins, with his aching head and his harassing cough,
applied himself diligently, as he ever did, to the afternoon's work, and
got through it by six o'clock, which was later than usual. There then
remained the copying, which Mr. Roland Yorke ought to have done. Knowing
the value of Roland's promises, and knowing also that if he kept this
promise ever so strictly, the amount of copying was more than could be
completed in time, if left to the morning, Jenkins did as he had been
aware he must do, when talking with Roland--took it home with him.

The parchments under his arm, he set out on his walk. What could be
the matter with him, that he felt so weak, he asked himself as he went
along. It must be, he believed, having gone without his dinner.
Jenkins generally went home to dinner at twelve, and returned at
one; occasionally, however, he did not go until two, according to the
exigencies of the office; this day, he had not gone at all, but had cut
a sandwich at breakfast-time and brought it with him in his pocket.

He had proceeded as far as the elm trees in the Boundaries--for Jenkins
generally chose the quiet cloister way for his road home--when he saw
Arthur Channing advancing towards him. With the ever-ready, respectful,
cordial smile with which he was wont to greet Arthur whenever he saw
him, Jenkins quickened his steps. But suddenly the smile seemed to
fix itself upon his lips; and the parchments fell from his arm, and he
staggered against the palings. But that Arthur was at hand to support
him, he might have fallen to the ground.

"Why, what is it, Jenkins?" asked Arthur, kindly, when Jenkins was
beginning to recover himself.

"Thank you, sir; I don't know what it could have been. Just as I was
looking at you, a mist seemed to come before my eyes, and I felt giddy.
I suppose it was a sort of faintness that came over me. I had been
thinking that I felt weary. Thank you very much, sir."

"Take my arm, Jenkins," said Arthur, as he picked up the parchments, and
took possession of them. "I'll see you home."

"Oh no, sir, indeed," protested simple-hearted Jenkins; "I'd not think
of such a thing. I should feel quite ashamed, sir, at the thought of
your being seen arm-in-arm with me in the street. I can go quite well
alone; I can, indeed, sir."

Arthur burst out laughing. "I wish you wouldn't be such an old duffer,
Jenkins--as the college boys have it! Do you suppose I should let you go
home by yourself? Come along."

Drawing Jenkins's arm within his own, Arthur turned with him. Jenkins
really did not like it. Sensitive to a degree was he: and, to his humble
mind, it seemed that Arthur was out of place, walking familiarly with
him.

"You must have been doing something to tire yourself," said Arthur as
they went along.

"It has been a pretty busy day, sir, now Mr. Galloway's away. I did not
go home to dinner, for one thing."

"And Mr. Roland Yorke absent for another, I suppose?"

"Only this afternoon, sir. His uncle, Lord Carrick, has arrived. Oh,
sir!" broke off Jenkins, stopping in a panic, "here's his lordship the
bishop coming along! Whatever shall you do?"

"Do!" returned Arthur, scarcely understanding him. "What should I do?"

"To think that he should see you thus with the like of me!"

It amused Arthur exceedingly. Poor, lowly-minded Jenkins! The bishop
appeared to divine the state of the case, for he stopped when he came
up. Possibly he was struck by the wan hue which overspread Jenkins's
face.

"You look ill, Jenkins," he said, nodding to Arthur Channing. "Keep your
hat on, Jenkins--keep your hat on."

"Thank you, my lord," replied Jenkins, disregarding the injunction
touching his hat. "A sort of faintness came over me just now under the
elm trees, and this gentleman insisted upon walking home with me, in
spite of my protestations to--"

Jenkins was stopped by a fit of coughing--a long, violent fit, sounding
hollow as the grave. The bishop watched him till it was over. Arthur
watched him.

"I think you should take better care of yourself, Jenkins," remarked his
lordship. "Is any physician attending you?"

"Oh, my lord, I am not ill enough yet for that. My wife made me go to
Mr. Hurst the other day, my lord, and he gave me a bottle of something.
But he said it was not medicine that I wanted."

"I should advise you to go to a physician, Jenkins. A stitch in time
saves nine, you know," the bishop added, in his free good humour.

"So it does, my lord. Thank your lordship for thinking of me," added
Jenkins, as the bishop said good afternoon, and pursued his way. And
then, and not till then, did Jenkins put on his hat again.

"Mr. Arthur, would you be so kind as not to say anything to my wife
about my being poorly?" asked Jenkins, as they drew near to his home.
"She'd be perhaps, for saying I should not go again yet to the office;
and a pretty dilemma that would put me in, Mr. Galloway being absent.
She'd get so fidgety, too: she kills me with kindness, if she thinks I
am ill. The broth and arrowroot, and other messes, sir, that she makes
me swallow, are untellable."

"All right," said Arthur.

But the intention was frustrated. Who should be standing at the
shop-door but Mrs. Jenkins herself. She saw them before they saw her,
and she saw that her husband looked like a ghost, and was supported by
Arthur. Of course, she drew her own conclusions; and Mrs. Jenkins was
one who did not allow her conclusions to be set aside. When Jenkins
found that he was seen and suspected, he held out no longer, but
honestly confessed the worst--that he had been taken with a giddiness.

"Of course," said Mrs. Jenkins, as she pushed a chair here and another
there, partly in temper, partly to free the narrow passage through the
shop to the parlour. "I have been expecting nothing less all day. Every
group of footsteps slower than usual, I have thought it was a shutter
arriving and you on it, dropped dead from exhaustion. Would you
believe"--turning short round on Arthur Channing--"that he has been such
a donkey as to fast from breakfast time? And with that cough upon him!"

"Not quite so fast, my dear," deprecated Jenkins. "I ate the paper of
sandwiches."

"Paper of rubbish!" retorted Mrs. Jenkins. "What good do sandwiches do
a weakly man? You might eat a ton-load, and be none the better for it.
Well, Jenkins, you may take your leave of having your own way."

Poor Jenkins might have deferentially intimated that he never did have
it. Mrs. Jenkins resumed:

"He said he'd carry a sandwich with him this morning, instead of coming
home to dinner. I said, 'No.' And afterwards I was such a simpleton
as to yield! And here's the effects of it! Sit yourself down in the
easy-chair," she added, taking Jenkins by the arms and pushing him into
it. "And I'll make the tea now," concluded she, turning to the table
where the tea-things were set out. "There's some broiled fowl coming up
for you."

"I don't feel as if I could eat this evening," Jenkins ventured to say.

"_Not eat_!" she repeated with emphasis. "You had better eat--that's
all. I don't want to have you falling down exhausted here, as you did in
the Boundaries."

"And as soon as you have had your tea, you should go to bed," put in
Arthur.

"I can't, sir. I have three or four hours' work at that deed. It must
be done."

"At this?" returned Arthur, opening the papers he had carried home. "Oh,
I see; it is a lease. I'll copy this for you, Jenkins. I have nothing to
do to-night. You take your ease, and go to bed."

And in spite of their calls, Jenkins's protestations against taking up
his time and trouble, and Mrs. Jenkins's proffered invitation to partake
of tea and broiled fowl, Arthur departed carrying off the work.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


ELLEN HUNTLEY.

"A pretty time o' day this is to deliver the letters. It's eleven
o'clock!"

"I can't help it. The train broke down, and was three hours behind its
time."

"I dare say! You letter-men want looking up: that's what it is. Coming
to folks's houses at eleven o'clock, when they have been waiting and
looking ever since breakfast-time!"

"It's not my fault, I say. Take the letter."

Judith received it with a grunt, for it was between her and the postman
that the colloquy had taken place. A delay had occurred that morning
in the delivery, and Judith was resenting it, feeling half inclined
to reject the letter, now that it had come. The letters from Germany
arrived irregularly; sometimes by the afternoon post at four, sometimes
by the morning; the only two deliveries in Helstonleigh. A letter had
been fully expected this morning, and when the time passed over, they
supposed there was none.

It was directed to Miss Channing. Judith, who was quite as anxious about
her master's health as the children were, went off at once with it to
Lady Augusta Yorke's, just as she was, without the ceremony of putting
on a bonnet. Though she did wear a mob-cap and a check apron, she looked
what she was--a respectable servant in a respectable family; and the
Boundaries so regarded her, as she passed through them, letter in
hand. Martha, Lady Augusta's housemaid, answered the door, presenting a
contrast to Judith. Martha wore a crinoline as big as her lady's, and
a starched-out muslin gown over it, with flounces and frillings,
for Martha was "dressed" for the day. Her arms, red and large, were
displayed beneath her open sleeves, and something that looked like a bit
of twisted lace was stuck on the back of her head. Martha called it a
"cap." Judith was a plain servant, and Martha was a fashionable one; but
I know which looked the better of the two.

Judith would not give in the letter. She asked for the young mistress,
and Constance came to her in the hall. "Just open it, please, Miss
Constance, and tell me how he is," said she anxiously; and Constance
broke the seal of the letter.

 "_Borcette. Hotel Rosenbad, September, 18--_."

"My Dear Child,--Still better and better! The improvement, which I told
you in my last week's letter had begun to take place so rapidly as to
make us fear it was only a deceitful one, turns out to have been real.
Will you believe it, when I tell you that your papa can _walk_! With the
help of my arm, he can walk across the room and along the passage; and
to-morrow he is going to try to get down the first flight of stairs.
None but God can know how thankful I am; not even my children. If this
change has taken place in the first month (and it is not yet quite
that), what may we not expect in the next--and the next? Your papa is
writing to Hamish, and will confirm what I say."

This much Constance read aloud. Judith gave a glad laugh. "It's just
as everybody told the master," said she. "A fine, strong, handsome man,
like him, wasn't likely to be laid down for life like a baby, when he
was hardly middle-aged. These doctors here be just so many muffs. When I
get too old for work, I'll go to Germany myself, Miss Constance, and ask
'em to make me young again."

Constance smiled. She was running her eyes over the rest of the letter,
which was a long one. She caught sight of Arthur's name. There were
some loving, gentle messages to him, and then these words: "Hamish says
Arthur applied at Dove and Dove's for a clerk's place, but did not come
to terms with them. We are glad that he did not. Papa says he should not
like to have one of his boys at Dove and Dove's."

"And here's a little bit for you, Judith," Constance said aloud.
"Tell Judith not to be over-anxious in her place of trust; and not to
over-work herself, but to let Sarah take her full share. There is no
hurry about the bed-furniture; Sarah can do it in an evening at her
leisure."

Judith received the latter portion of the message with scorn. "'Tisn't
me that's going to let _her_ do it! A fine do it would be, Miss
Constance! The first thing I shall see, when I go back now, will be her
head stretched out at one of the windows, and the kidney beans left to
string and cut themselves in the kitchen!"

Judith turned to depart. She never would allow any virtues to her
helpmate Sarah, who gave about the same trouble to her that young
servants of twenty generally give to old ones. Constance followed her to
the door, saying something which had suddenly occurred to her mind about
domestic affairs, when who should she meet, coming in, but the Rev.
William Yorke! He had just left the Cathedral after morning prayers, and
was calling at Lady Augusta's.

Both were confused; both stopped, face to face, in hesitation. Constance
grew crimson; Mr. Yorke pale. It was the first time they had met since
the parting. There was an angry feeling against Constance in the mind
of Mr. Yorke; he considered that she had not treated him with proper
confidence; and in his proud nature--the Yorke blood was his--he was
content to resent it. He did not expect to _lose_ Constance eventually;
he thought that the present storm would blow over some time, and that
things would come right again. We are all too much given to trust to
that vague "some time." In Constance's mind there existed a soreness
against Mr. Yorke. He had doubted her; he had accepted (if he had not
provoked) too readily her resignation of him. Unlike him, she saw no
prospect of the future setting matters right. Marry him, whilst the
cloud lay upon Arthur, she would not, after he had intimated his opinion
and sentiments: and that cloud could only be lifted at the expense of
another.

They exchanged a confused greeting; neither of them conscious how it
passed. Mr. Yorke's attention was then caught by the open letter in
her hand--by the envelope bearing the foreign post-marks. "How is Mr.
Channing?" he asked.

"So much better that it seems little short of a miracle," replied
Constance. "Mamma says," glancing at the letter, "that he can walk,
leaning on her arm."

"I am so glad to hear it! Hamish told me last week that he was
improving. I trust it may go on to a cure."

"Thank you," replied Constance. And she made him a pretty little state
curtsey as she turned away, not choosing to see the hand he would fain
have offered her.

Mr. Yorke's voice brought a head and shoulders out at the breakfast-room
door. They belonged to Lord Carrick. He and Lady Augusta were positively
at breakfast at that hour of the day. His lordship's eyes followed the
pretty form of Constance as she disappeared up the staircase on
her return to the schoolroom. William Yorke's were cast in the same
direction. Then their eyes--the peer's and the clergyman's--met.

"Ye have given her up, I understand, Master William?"

"Master William" vouchsafed no reply. He deemed it a little piece of
needless impertinence.

"Bad taste!" continued Lord Carrick. "If I were only twenty years
younger, and she'd not turn up her nose at me for a big daft of an
Irishman, _you'd_ not get her, me lad. She's the sweetest little thing I
have come across this many a day."

To which the Rev. William Yorke condescended no answer, unless a haughty
gesture expressive of indignation might be called one, as he brushed
past Lord Carrick into the breakfast-room.

At that very hour, and in a breakfast-room also--though all signs of the
meal had long been removed--were Mr. Huntley and his daughter. The same
praise, just bestowed by Lord Carrick upon Constance Channing, might
with equal justice be given to Ellen Huntley. She was a lovely girl,
three or four years older than Harry, with pretty features and soft dark
eyes. What is more, she was a good girl--a noble, generous-hearted girl,
although (you know no one is perfection) with a spice of self-will. For
the latter quality I think Ellen was more indebted to circumstances than
to Nature. Mrs. Huntley was dead, and a maiden sister of Mr. Huntley's,
older than himself, resided with them and ruled Ellen; ruled her with a
tight hand; not a kind one, or a judicious one; and that had brought
out Miss Ellen's self-will. Miss Huntley was very starched, prim, and
stiff--very unnatural, in short--and she wished to make Ellen the same.
Ellen rebelled, for she much disliked everything artificial. She was
truthful, honest, straightforward; not unlike the character of Tom
Channing. Miss Huntley complained that she was too straightforward to
be ladylike; Ellen said she was sure she should never be otherwise than
straightforward, so it was of no use trying. Then Miss Huntley would
take offence, and threaten Ellen with "altering her will," and that
would vex Ellen more than anything. Young ladies rarely care for money,
especially when they have plenty of it; and Ellen Huntley would have
that, from her father. "As if I cared for my aunt's money!" she would
say. "I wish she may not leave it to me." And she was sincere in the
wish. Their controversies frequently amused Mr. Huntley. Agreeing in
heart and mind with his daughter, he would yet make a playful show of
taking his sister's part. Miss Huntley knew it to be show--done to laugh
at her--and would grow as angry with him as she was with Ellen.

Mr. Huntley was not laughing, however, this morning. On the contrary,
he appeared to be in a very serious, not to say solemn mood. He slowly
paced the room, as was his custom when anything disturbed him, stopping
at moments to reflect, buried in thought. Ellen sat at a table by the
window, drawing. The house was Mr. Huntley's own--a white villa with
a sloping lawn in front. It was situated outside the town, on a gentle
eminence, and commanded a view of the charming scenery for which the
county was famous.

Ellen, who had glanced up two or three times, concerned to see the
very stern, perplexed look on her father's face, at length spoke, "Is
anything the matter, papa?"

Mr. Huntley did not answer. He was standing close to the table then,
apparently looking at Ellen, at her white morning dress and its blue
ribbons: it, and she altogether, a fair picture. Probably he saw neither
her nor her dress--he was too deeply absorbed.

"You are not ill, are you, papa?"

"Ill!" he answered, rousing himself. "No, Ellen, I am not ill."

"Then you have had something to vex you, papa?"

"I have," emphatically replied Mr. Huntley. "And the worst is, that my
vexation will not be confined to myself, I believe. It may extend to
you, Ellen."

Mr. Huntley's manner was so serious, his look so peculiar as he gazed at
her, that Ellen felt a rush of discomfort, and the colour spread itself
over her fair face. She jumped to the conclusion that she had been
giving offence in some way--that Miss Huntley must have been complaining
of her.

"Has my aunt been telling you about last night, papa? Harry had two of
the college boys here, and I unfortunately laughed and talked with them,
and she said afterwards I had done it on purpose to annoy her. But I
assure you, papa--"

"Never mind assuring me, child," interrupted Mr. Huntley. "Your aunt has
said nothing to me; and if she had, it would go in at one ear and out
at the other. It is worse business than any complaint that she could
bring."

Ellen laid down her pencil, and gazed at her father, awe-struck at his
strange tone. "What is it?" she breathed.

But Mr. Huntley did not answer. He remained perfectly still for a few
moments, absorbed in thought: and then, without a word of any sort to
Ellen, turned round to leave the room, took his hat as he passed through
the hall, and left the house.

Can you guess what it was that was troubling Mr. Huntley? Very probably,
if you can put, as the saying runs, this and that together.

Convinced, as he was, that Arthur Channing was not, could not be guilty
of taking the bank-note, yet puzzled by the strangely tame manner in
which he met the charge--confounded by the behaviour both of Arthur and
Constance relating to it--Mr. Huntley had resolved, if possible, to dive
into the mystery. He had his reasons for it. A very disagreeable, a very
improbable suspicion, called forth by the facts, had darted across his
mind; _therefore_ he resolved to penetrate to it. And he set to work. He
questioned Mr. Galloway, he questioned Butterby, he questioned Jenkins,
and he questioned Roland Yorke. He thus became as thoroughly conversant
with the details of the transaction as it was possible for any one,
except the actual thief, to be; and he drew his own deductions. Very
reluctantly, very slowly, very cautiously, were they drawn, but very
surely. The behaviour of Arthur and Constance could only have one
meaning: they were screening the real culprit. And that culprit must be
Hamish Channing.

Unwilling as Mr. Huntley was to admit it, he had no resource but to do
so. He grew as certain of it as he was of his own life. He had loved and
respected Hamish in no measured degree. He had observed the attachment
springing up between him and his daughter, and he had been content to
observe it. None were so worthy of her, in Mr. Huntley's eyes, as Hamish
Channing, in all respects save one--wealth; and, of that, Ellen would
have plenty. Mr. Huntley had known of the trifling debts that were
troubling Hamish, and he found that those debts, immediately on the loss
of the bank-note, had been partially satisfied. That the stolen money
must have been thus applied, and that it had been taken for that
purpose, he could not doubt.

Hamish! It nearly made Mr. Huntley's hair stand on end. That he must
be silent over it, as were Hamish's own family, he knew--silent for Mr.
Channing's sake. And what about Ellen?

_There_ was the sad, very sad grievance. Whether Hamish went wrong,
or whether Hamish went right, it was not of so much consequence to Mr.
Huntley; but it might be to Ellen--in fact, he thought it would be. He
had risen that morning resolved to hint to Ellen that any particular
intimacy with Hamish must cease. But he was strangely undecided about
it. Now that the moment was come, he almost doubted, himself, Hamish's
guilt. All the improbabilities of the case rose up before him in marked
colours; he lost sight of the condemning facts; and it suddenly occurred
to him that it was scarcely fair to judge Hamish so completely without
speaking to him. "Perhaps he can account to me for the possession of the
money which he applied to those debts," thought Mr. Huntley. "If so, in
spite of appearances, I will not deem him guilty."

He went out, on the spur of the moment, straight down to the office
in Guild Street. Hamish was alone, not at all busy, apparently. He was
standing up by the fireplace, his elbow on the mantelpiece, a letter
from Mr. Channing (no doubt the one alluded to in Mrs. Channing's letter
to Constance) in his hand. He received Mr. Huntley with his cordial,
sunny smile; spoke of the good news the letter brought, spoke of the
accident which had caused the delay of the mail, and finally read out
part of the letter, as Constance had to Judith.

It was all very well; but this only tended to embarrass Mr. Huntley.
He did not like his task, and the more confidential they grew over Mr.
Channing's health, the worse it made it for him to enter upon. As chance
had it, Hamish himself paved the way. He began telling of an incident
which had taken place that morning, to the scandal of the town. A young
man, wealthy but improvident, had been arrested for debt. Mr. Huntley
had not yet heard of it.

"It stopped his day's pleasure," laughed Hamish. "He was going along
with his gun and dogs, intending to pop at the partridges, when he got
popped upon himself, instead. Poor fellow! it was too bad to spoil his
sport. Had I been a rich man, I should have felt inclined to bail him
out."

"The effect of running in debt," remarked Mr. Huntley. "By the way,
Master Hamish, is there no fear of a similar catastrophe for you?" he
added, in a tone which Hamish might, if he liked, take for a jesting
one.

"For me, sir?" returned Hamish.

"When I left Helstonleigh in June, a certain young friend of mine was
not quite free from a suspicion of such liabilities," rejoined Mr.
Huntley.

Hamish flushed rosy red. Of all people in the world, Mr. Huntley was the
one from whom he would, if possible, have kept that knowledge, but he
spoke up readily.

"I did owe a thing or two, it can't be denied," acknowledged he. "Men,
better and wiser and richer than I, have owed money before me, Mr.
Huntley."

"Suppose they serve you as they have served Jenner this morning?"

"They will not do that," laughed Hamish, seeming very much inclined to
make a joke of the matter. "I have squared up some sufficiently to be on
the safe side of danger, and I shall square up the rest."

Mr. Huntley fixed his eyes upon him. "How did you get the money to do
it, Hamish?"

Perhaps it was the plain, unvarnished manner in which the question was
put; perhaps it was the intent gaze with which Mr. Huntley regarded him;
but, certain it is, that the flush on Hamish's face deepened to crimson,
and he turned it from Mr. Huntley, saying nothing.

"Hamish, I have a reason for wishing to know."

"To know what, sir?" asked Hamish, as if he would temporize, or avoid
the question.

"Where did you obtain the money that you applied to liquidate, or
partially to liquidate, your debts?"

"I cannot satisfy you, sir. The affair concerns no one but myself. I did
get it, and that is sufficient."

Hamish had come out of his laughing tone, and spoke as firmly as Mr.
Huntley; but, that the question had embarrassed him, was palpably
evident. Mr. Huntley said good morning, and left the office without
shaking hands. All his doubts were confirmed.

He went straight home. Ellen was where he had left her, still alone. Mr.
Huntley approached her and spoke abruptly. "Are you willing to give up
all intimacy with Hamish Channing?"

She gazed at him in surprise, her complexion changing, her voice
faltering. "Oh, papa! what have they done?"

"Ellen, did I say 'they!' The Channings are my dear friends, and I hope
ever to call them such. They have done nothing unworthy of my friendship
or of yours. I said Hamish."

Ellen rose from her seat, unable to subdue her emotion, and stood with
her hands clasped before Mr. Huntley. Hamish was far dearer to her than
the world knew.

"I will leave it to your good sense, my dear," Mr. Huntley whispered,
glancing round, as if not caring that even the walls should hear. "I
have liked Hamish very much, or you may be sure he would not have been
allowed to come here so frequently. But he has forfeited my regard now,
as he must forfeit that of all good men."

She trembled excessively, almost to impede her utterance, when she would
have asked what it was that he had done.

"I scarcely dare breathe it to you," said Mr. Huntley, "for it is a
thing that we must hush up, as the family are hushing it up. When that
bank-note was lost, suspicion fell on Arthur."

"Well, papa?" wonderingly resumed Ellen.

"It was not Arthur who took it. It was Hamish. And Arthur is bearing the
stigma of it for his father's sake."

Ellen grew pale. "Papa, who says it?"

"No one _says_ it, Ellen. But the facts leave no room for doubt.
Hamish's own manner--I have just left him--leaves no room for it. He is
indisputably guilty."

Then Ellen's anger, her _straightforwardness_, broke forth. She clasped
her hands in pain, and her face grew crimson. "He is _not_ guilty, papa.
I would answer for it with my own life. How dare they accuse him! how
dare they asperse him? Is he not Hamish Channing?"

"Ellen! _Ellen_!"

Ellen burst into a passionate flood of tears. "Forgive me, papa. If
he has no one else to take his part, I will do it. I do not wish to be
undutiful; and if you bid me never to see or speak to Hamish Channing
again, I will implicitly obey you; but, hear him spoken of as guilty, I
will not. I wish I could stand up for him against the world."

"After that, Miss Ellen Huntley, I think you had better sit down."

Ellen sat down, and cried until she was calm.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


THE CONSPIRATORS.

Nothing of sufficient consequence to record here, occurred for some
weeks to the Channings, or to those connected with them. October came
in; and in a few days would be decided the uncertain question of the
seniorship. Gaunt would leave the college on the fifth; and on the
sixth the new senior would be appointed. The head-master had given no
intimation whatever to the school as to which of the three seniors would
obtain the promotion, and discussion ran high upon the probabilities.
Some were of opinion that it would be Huntley; some, Gerald Yorke; a
very few, Tom Channing. Countenanced by Gaunt and Huntley, as he had
been throughout, Tom bore on his way, amid much cabal; but for the
circumstance of the senior boy espousing (though not very markedly)
his cause, his place would have been unbearable. Hamish attended to his
customary duties in Guild Street, and sat up at night as usual in his
bedroom, as his candle testified to Judith. Arthur tried bravely for a
situation, and tried in vain; he could get nothing given to him--no one
seemed willing to take him on. There was nothing for it but to wait in
patience. He took the organ daily, and copied, at home, the cathedral
music. Constance was finding great favour with the Earl of Carrick--but
you will hear more about that presently. Jenkins grew more like a shadow
day by day. Roland Yorke went on in his impulsive, scapegrace fashion.
Mr. and Mrs. Channing sent home news, hopeful and more hopeful, from
Germany. And Charley, unlucky Charley, had managed to get into hot water
with the college school.

Thus uneventfully had passed the month of September. October was now in,
and the sixth rapidly approaching. What with the uncertainty prevailing,
the preparation for the examination, which on that day would take place,
and a little private matter, upon which some few were entering, the
college school had just then a busy and exciting time of it.

Stephen Bywater sat in one of the niches of the cloisters, a pile of
books by his side. Around him, in various attitudes, were gathered seven
of the most troublesome of the tribe--Pierce senior, George Brittle, Tod
Yorke, Fred Berkeley, Bill Simms, Mark Galloway, and Hurst, who had
now left the choir, but not the school. They were hatching mischief.
Twilight overhung the cloisters; the autumn evenings were growing long,
and this was a gloomy one. Half an hour, at the very least, had the boys
been gathered there since afternoon school, holding a council of war in
covert tones.

"Paid out he shall be, by hook or by crook," continued Stephen Bywater,
who appeared to be president--if talking more than his _confrères_
constitutes one. "The worst is, how is it to be done? One can't wallop
him."

"Not wallop him!" repeated Pierce senior, who was a badly disposed boy,
as well as a mischievous one. "Why not, pray?"

"Not to any good," said Bywater. "_I_ can't, with that delicate face of
his. It's like beating a girl."

"That's true," assented Hurst. "No, it won't do to go in for beating;
might break his bones, or something. I can't think what's the good of
those delicate ones putting themselves into a school of this sort. A
parson's is the place for them; eight gentlemanly pupils, treated as a
private family, with a mild usher, and a lady to teach the piano."

The council burst into a laugh at Hurst's mocking tones, and Pierce
senior interrupted it.

"I don't see why he shouldn't--"

"Say she, Pierce," corrected Mark Galloway.

"She, then. I don't see why she shouldn't get a beating if she deserves
it; it will teach her not to try her tricks on again. Let her be
delicate; she'll feel it the more."

"It's all bosh about his being delicate. She's not," vehemently
interrupted Tod Yorke, somewhat perplexed, in his hurry, with the
genders. "Charley Channing's no more delicate than we are. It's all
in the look. As good say that detestable little villain, Boulter, is
delicate, because he has yellow curls. I vote for the beating."

"I'll vote you out of the business, if you show insubordination, Mr.
Tod," cried Bywater. "We'll pay out Miss Charley in some way, but it
shan't be by beating him."

"Couldn't we lock him up in the cloisters, as we locked up Ketch, and
that lot; and leave him there all night?" proposed Berkeley.

"But there'd be getting the keys?" debated Mark Galloway.

"As if we couldn't get the keys if we wanted them!" scoffingly retorted
Bywater. "We did old Ketch the other time, and we could do him again.
_That_ would not serve the young one out, locking him up in the
cloisters."

"Wouldn't it, though!" said Tod Yorke. "He'd be dead of fright before
morning, he's so mortally afraid of ghosts."

"Afraid of what?" cried Bywater.

"Of ghosts. He's a regular coward about them. He dare not go to bed
in the dark for fear of their coming to him. He'd rather have five and
twenty pages of Virgil to do, than he'd be left alone after nightfall."

The notion so tickled Bywater, that he laughed till he was hoarse.
Bywater could not understand being afraid of "ghosts." Had Bywater met
a whole army of ghosts, the encounter would only have afforded him
pleasure.

"There never was a ghost seen yet, as long as any one can remember,"
cried he, when he came out of his laughter. "I'd sooner believe in
Gulliver's travels, than I'd believe in ghosts. What a donkey you are,
Tod Yorke!"

"It's Charley Channing that's the donkey; not me," cried Tod, fiercely.
"I tell you, if we locked him up here for a night, we should find him
dead in the morning, when we came to let him out. Let's do it."

"What, to find him dead in the morning!" exclaimed Hurst. "You are a
nice one, Tod!"

"Oh, well, I don't mean altogether dead, you know," acknowledged Tod.
"But he'd have had a mortal night of it! All his clothes gummed together
from fright, I'll lay."

"I don't think it would do," deliberated Bywater. "A whole night--twelve
hours, that would be--and in a fright all the time, if he _is_
frightened. Look here! I have heard of folks losing their wits through a
thing of the sort."

"I won't go in for anything of the kind," said Hurst. "Charley's not
a bad lot, and he shan't be harmed. A bit of a fright, or a bit of
a whacking, not too much of either; that'll be the thing for Miss
Channing."

"Tod Yorke, who told you he was afraid of ghosts?" demanded Bywater.

"Oh, I know it," said Tod. "Annabel Channing was telling my sisters
about it, for one thing: but I knew it before. We had a servant once who
told us so, she had lived at the Channings'. Some nurse frightened him
when he was a youngster, and they have never been able to get the fear
out of him since."

"What a precious soft youngster he must have been!" said Mr. Bywater.

"She used to get a ghost and dress it up and show it off to Miss
Charley--"

"Get a ghost, Tod?"

"Bother! you know what I mean," said Tod, testily. "Get a broom or
something of that sort, and dress it up with a mask and wings: and he is
as scared over it now as he ever was. I don't care what you say."

"Look here!" exclaimed Bywater, starting from his niche, as a bright
idea occurred to him. "Let one of us personate a ghost, and appear to
him! That would be glorious! It would give him a precious good fright
for the time, and no harm done."

If the boys had suddenly found the philosopher's stone, it could
scarcely have afforded them so much pleasure as did this idea. It was
received with subdued shouts of approbation: the only murmur of dissent
to be heard was from Pierce senior. Pierce grumbled that it would not be
"half serving him out."

"Yes, it will," said Bywater. "Pierce senior shall be the ghost: he tops
us all by a head."

"Hurst is as tall as Pierce senior."

"That he is not," interrupted Pierce senior, who was considerably
mollified at the honour being awarded to him. "Hurst is not much above
the tips of my ears. Besides, Hurst is fat; and you never saw a fat
ghost yet."

"Have you seen many ghosts, Pierce?" mocked Bywater.

"A few; in pictures. Wretched old scarecrows they always are, with a
cadaverous face and lantern jaws."

"That's the reason you'll do so well, Pierce," said Bywater. "You are as
thin as a French herring, you know, with a yard and a half of throat."

Pierce received the doubtful compliment flatteringly, absorbed in the
fine vista of mischief opening before him. "How shall I get myself up,
Bywater?" asked he, complaisantly. "With horns and a tail?"

"Horns and a tail be bothered!" returned Hurst. "It must be like a real
ghost, all white and ghastly."

"Of course it must," acquiesced Bywater.

"I know a boy in our village that they served out like that," interposed
Bill Simms, who was a country lad, and boarded in Helstonleigh. "They
got a great big turnip, and scooped it out and made it into a man's
face, and put a light inside, and stuck it on a post where he had to
pass at night. He was so frightened that he died."

"Cram!" ejaculated Tod Yorke.

"He did, though," repeated Simms. "They knew him before for an awful
little coward, and they did it to have some fun out of him. He didn't
say anything at the time; didn't scream, or anything of that sort; but
after he got home he was taken ill, and the next day he died. My father
was one of the jury on the inquest. He was a little chap with no father
or mother--a plough-boy."

"The best thing, if you want to make a ghost," said Tod Yorke, "is
to get a tin plate full of salt and gin, and set it alight, and wrap
yourself round with a sheet, and hold the plate so that the flame lights
up your face. You never saw anything so ghastly. Scooped-out turnips are
all bosh!"

"I could bring a sheet off my bed," said Bywater. "Thrown over my arm,
they'd think at home I was bringing out my surplice. And if--"

A wheezing and coughing and clanking of keys interrupted the
proceedings. It was Mr. Ketch, coming to lock up the cloisters. As the
boys had no wish to be fastened in, themselves, they gathered up their
books, and waited in silence till the porter was close upon them. Then,
with a sudden war-whoop, they sprang past him, very nearly startling the
old man out of his senses, and calling forth from him a shower of hard
words.

The above conversation, puerile and school-boyish as it may seem, was
destined to lead to results all too important; otherwise it would not
have been related here. You very likely may have discovered, ere this,
that this story of the Helstonleigh College boys is not merely a work
of imagination, but taken from facts of real life. Had you been in the
cloisters that night with the boys--and you might have been--and heard
Master William Simms, who was the son of a wealthy farmer, tell the tale
of a boy's being frightened to death, you would have known it to be
a true one, if you possessed any knowledge of the annals of the
neighbourhood. In like manner, the project they were getting up to
frighten Charles Channing, and Charles's unfortunate propensity _to be_
frightened, are strictly true.

Master Tod Yorke's account of what had imbued his mind with this fear,
was a tolerably correct one. Charley was somewhat troublesome and
fractious as a young child, and the wicked nurse girl who attended upon
him would dress up frightful figures to terrify him into quietness. She
might not have been able to accomplish this without detection, but that
Mrs. Channing was at that time debarred from the active superintendence
of her household. When Charley was about two years old she fell into
ill health, and for eighteen months was almost entirely confined to
her room. Judith was much engaged with her mistress and with household
matters, and the baby, as Charley was still called, was chiefly left to
the mercies of the nurse. Not content with frightening him practically,
she instilled into his young imagination the most pernicious stories of
ghosts, dreams, and similar absurdities. But, foolish as _we_ know them
to be, they are not the less horrible to a child's vivid imagination. At
two, or three, or four years old, it is eagerly opening to impressions;
and things, solemnly related by a mother or a nurse, become impressed
upon it almost as with gospel truth. Let the fears once be excited in
this terrible way, and not a whole lifetime can finally eradicate the
evil. I would rather a nurse broke one of my children's limbs, than thus
poison its fair young mind.

In process of time the girl's work was discovered--discovered by Judith.
But the mischief was done. You may wonder that Mrs. Channing should not
have been the first to discover it; or that it could have escaped
her notice at all, for she had the child with her often for his early
religious instruction; but, one of the worst phases of this state of
things is, the shrinking tenacity with which the victim buries the fears
within his own breast. He dare not tell his parents; he is taught not;
and taught by fear. It may not have been your misfortune to meet with
a case of this sort; I hope you never will. Mrs. Channing would observe
that the child would often shudder, as with terror, and cling to her
in an unaccountable manner; but, having no suspicion of the evil, she
attributed it to a sensitive, timid temperament. "What is it, my little
Charley?" she would say. But Charley would only bury his face the
closer, and keep silence. When Martha--that was the girl's name: not the
same Martha who was now living at Lady Augusta's--came for him, he
would go with her willingly, cordially. It was not her he feared. On the
contrary, he was attached to her; she had taught him to be so; and he
looked upon her as a protector from those awful ghosts and goblins.

Well, the thing was in time discovered, but the mischief, I say, was
done. It could not be eradicated. Charles Channing's judgment and good
sense told him that all those bygone terrors were only tricks of
that wretched Martha's: but, overcome the fear, he could not. All
consideration was shown to him; he was never scolded for it, never
ridiculed; his brothers and sisters observed to him entire silence upon
the subject--even Annabel; and Mr. and Mrs. Channing had done reasoning
lovingly with him now. It is not argument that will avail in a case
like this. In the broad light of day, Charley could be very brave; would
laugh at such tales with the best of them; but when night came, and he
was left alone--if he ever was left alone--then all the old terror rose
up again, and his frame would shake, and he would throw himself on the
bed or on the floor, and hide his face; afraid of the darkness, and of
what he might see in it. He was as utterly unable to prevent or subdue
this fear, as he was to prevent his breathing. He knew it, in the sunny
morning light, to be a foolish fear, utterly without reason: but, in the
lonely night, there it came again, and he could not combat it.

Thus, it is easy to understand that the very worst subject for a ghost
trick to be played upon, was Charley Channing. It was, however, going to
be done. The defect--for it really is a defect--had never transpired to
the College school, who would not have spared their ridicule, or spared
Charley. Reared, in that point, under happier auspices, they could have
given nothing but utter ridicule to the fear. Chattering Annabel, in
her thoughtless communications to Caroline and Fanny Yorke, had not
bargained for their reaching the ears of Tod; and Tod, when the report
did reach his ears, remembered to have heard the tale before; until then
it had escaped his memory.

Charley had got into hot water with some of the boys. Bywater had been
owing him a grudge for weeks, on account of Charley's persistent silence
touching what he had seen the day the surplice was inked; and now there
arose another grudge on Bywater's score, and also on that of others.
There is not space to enter into the particulars of the affair; it is
sufficient to say that some underhand work, touching cribs, came to the
knowledge of one of the under-masters--and came to him through Charley
Channing.

Not that Charley went, open-mouthed, and told; there was nothing of that
disreputable character--which the school held in especial dislike--the
sneak, about Charles Channing. Charley would have bitten his tongue out
first. By an unfortunate accident Charles was pinned by the master,
and questioned; and he had no resource but to speak out. In honour, in
truth, he could not do otherwise; but, the consequence was--punishment
to the boys; and they turned against him. Schoolboys are not famous for
being swayed by the rules of strict justice; and they forgot to remember
that in Charles Channing's place they would (at any rate, most of them)
have felt bound to do the same. They visited the accident upon him,
and were determined--as you have heard them express it in their own
phrase--to "serve him out."

Leaving this decision to fructify, let us turn to Constance. Lady
Augusta Yorke--good-hearted in the main, liberal natured, swayed by
every impulse as the wind--had been particularly kind to Constance
and Annabel Channing during the absence of their mother. Evening after
evening she would insist upon their spending at her house, Hamish--one
of Lady Augusta's lasting favourites, probably from his good
looks--being pressed into the visit with them by my lady. Hamish was
nothing loth. He had given up indiscriminate evening visiting; and,
since the coolness which had arisen in the manner of Mr. Huntley, Hamish
did not choose to go much to Mr. Huntley's, where he had been a pretty
constant visitor before; and he found his evenings hang somewhat heavily
on his hands. Thus Constance saw a good deal of the Earl of Carrick; or,
it may be more to the purpose to say, the earl saw a good deal of her.

For the earl grew to like her very much indeed. He grew to think that if
she would only consent to become his wife, he should be the happiest man
in ould Ireland; and one day, impulsive in his actions as was ever Lady
Augusta, he told Constance so, in that lady's presence.

Constance--much as we may regret to hear it of her--behaved in by
no means a dignified manner. She laughed over it. When brought to
understand, which took some little time, that she was actually paid that
high compliment, she laughed in the earl's face. He was as old as her
father; and Constance had certainly regarded him much more in the light
of a father than a husband.

"I do beg your pardon, Lord Carrick," she said, apologetically "but I
think you must be laughing at me."

"Laughing at ye!" said the earl. "It's not I that would do that. I'd
like ye to be Countess of Carrick to-morrow, me dear, if you can only
get over me fifty years and me grey hair. Here's me sister--she knows
that I'd like to have ye. It's you that are laughing at me, Miss
Constance; at me ould locks."

"No, indeed, indeed it is not that," said Constance, while Lady Augusta
sat with an impassive countenance. "I don't know why I laughed. It so
took me by surprise; that was why, I think. Please do not say any more
about it, Lord Carrick."

"Ye could not like me as well as ye like William Yorke? Is that it,
child?"

Constance grew crimson. Like him as she liked William Yorke!

"Ye're the nicest girl I have seen since Kathleen Blake," resumed the
straightforward, simple earl. "She promised to have me; she said she
liked me grey hair better than brown, and me fifty years better than
thirty, but, while I was putting the place a bit in order for her,
she went and married a young Englishman. Did ye ever see him,
Augusta?"--turning to his sister. "He is a baronet. He came somewhere
from these parts."

Lady Augusta intimated stiffly that she had not the honour of the
baronet's acquaintance. She thought her brother was making a simpleton
of himself, and had a great mind to tell him so.

"And since Kathleen Blake went over to the enemy, I have not seen
anybody that I'd care to look twice at, till I came here and saw you,
Miss Constance," resumed the earl. "And if ye can only get to overlook
the natural impediments on me side, and not mind me being poor, I'd be
delighted, me dear, if ye'd say the word."

"You are very kind, very generous, Lord Carrick," said Constance, with
an impulse of feeling; "but I can only beg you never to ask me such a
thing again."

"Ah! well, child, I see ye're in earnest," good-naturedly responded the
earl, as he gave it up. "I was afraid ye'd only laugh at me. I knew I
was too old."

And that was the beginning and the ending of Lord Carrick's wooing.
Scarcely worth recording, you will think. But there was a reason for
doing so.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


THE DECISION.

The important sixth of October--important to the Helstonleigh College
boys--did not rise very genially. On the contrary, it rose rather
sloppily. A soaking rain was steadily descending, and the streets
presented a continuous scene of puddles. The boys dashed through it
without umbrellas (I never saw one of them carry an umbrella in my life,
and don't believe the phenomenon ever was seen), their clean surplices
on their arms; on their way to attend ten-o'clock morning prayers in
the cathedral. The day was a holiday from school, but not from morning
service.

The college bell was beginning to ring out as they entered the
schoolroom. Standing in the senior's place, and calling over the roll,
was Tom Channing, the acting senior for a few brief hours. Since Gaunt's
departure, the previous day, Tom Channing had been head of the school;
it lay in the custom of the school for him so to be. Would his place be
confirmed? or would he lose it? Tom looked flurried with suspense.
It was not so much being appointed senior that he thought of, as the
disgrace, the humiliation that would be his portion, were he deposed
from it. He knew that he deserved the position; that it was his by
right; he stood first on the rolls, and he had done nothing whatever to
forfeit it. He was the school's best scholar; and--if he was not always
a perfect model for conduct--there was this much to be said in his
favour, that none of them could boast of being better.

The opinion of the school had been veering round for the last few days
in favour of Tom. I do not mean that he, personally, was in better
odour with it--not at all, the snow-ball, touching Arthur, had gathered
strength in rolling--but in favour of his chances of the seniorship. Not
a breath of intimation had the head-master given; except that, one day,
in complaining to Gaunt of the neglect of a point of discipline in the
school, which point was entirely under the control of the senior boy,
he had turned to Tom, and said, "Remember, Channing, it must be observed
for the future."

Tom's heart leaped within him as he heard it, and the boys looked
inquiringly at the master. But the master's head was then buried in the
deep drawer of his desk, hunting for a lost paper. Unless he had spoken
it in forgetfulness--which was not improbable-there could be no doubt
that he looked upon Tom as Gaunt's successor. The school so interpreted
it, and chose to become, amongst themselves, sullenly rebellious. As to
Tom, who was nearly as sanguine in temperament as Hamish, his hopes and
his spirits went up to fever heat.--

One of the last to tear through the street, splashing his jacket, and
splashing his surplice, was Harry Huntley. He, like all the rest, took
care to be in time that morning. There would have been no necessity
for his racing, however, had he not lingered at home, talking. He was
running down from his room, whither he had gone again after breakfast,
to give the finishing brush to his hair (I can tell you that some of
those college gentlemen were dandies), when Mr. Huntley's voice was
heard, calling him into the breakfast-room.

"Harry," said he, "I don't think that I need enjoin you not to suffer
your manner to show triumph towards Tom Channing, should you be promoted
over him to-day."

"I shan't be, papa. Channing will have the seniorship."

"How do you know that?"

"Oh, from something Pye let drop. We look upon it that Channing is as
good as senior."

Mr. Huntley remembered the tenor of the private conversation the master
had held with him, and believed his son would find himself mistaken, and
that he, Harry, would be made senior. That it would be Gerald Yorke, Mr.
Huntley did not believe. "At any rate, Harry, take heed to what I say,"
he resumed. "Be very considerate and courteous towards your friend
Channing, if you should obtain it. Do not let me have to blush for my
son's ill feeling."

There was a tone in Mr. Huntley's voice which, to Harry's ears, seemed
to intimate that he did not speak without reason. "Papa, it would not be
fair for me to go up over Channing," he impulsively said.

"No. Comparing your merits together, Channing is the better man of the
two."

Harry laughed. "He is not worse, at all events. Why are you saying this,
papa?"

"Because I fancy that you are more likely to be successful than Tom
Channing. I wish I may be mistaken. I would rather he had it; for,
personally, he had done nothing to forfeit it."

"If Harry could accept the seniorship and displace Tom Channing, I would
not care to call him my brother again," interrupted Ellen Huntley, with
a flashing eye.

"It is not that, Ellen; you girls don't understand things," retorted
Harry. "If Pye displaces Tom from the scholarship, he does not do it to
exalt me; he does it because he won't have him at any price. Were I to
turn round like a chivalrous Knight Templar and say I'd not take it,
out of regard to my friend Tom, where would be the good? Yorke would get
hoisted over me, and I should be laughed at for a duffer. But I'll do as
you like, papa," he added, turning to Mr. Huntley. "If you wish me not
to take the honour, I'll resign it in favour of Yorke. I never expected
it to be mine, so it will be no disappointment; I always thought we
should have Channing."

"Your refusing it would do no good to Channing," said Mr. Huntley. "And
I should have grumbled at you, Harry, had you suffered Yorke to slip
over your head. Every one in his own right. All I repeat to you, my boy,
is, behave as you ought to Tom Channing. Possibly I may pay the college
school a visit this morning."

Harry opened his eyes to their utmost width.

"You, papa! Whatever for?"

"That is my business," laughed Mr. Huntley. "It wants only twenty
minutes to ten, Harry."

Harry, at the hint, bounded into the hall. He caught up his clean
surplice, placed there ready for him, and stuck his trencher on his
head, when he was detained by Ellen.

"Harry, boy, it's a crying wrong against Tom Channing. Hamish never did
it--"

"_Hamish_" interrupted Harry, with a broad grin. "A sign who you are
thinking of, mademoiselle."

Mademoiselle turned scarlet. "You know I meant to say Arthur, stupid
boy! It's a crying wrong, Harry, upon Tom Channing. Looking at it in the
worst light, _he_ has been guilty of nothing to forfeit his right. If
you can help him to the seniorship instead of supplanting him, be a
brave boy, and do it. God sees all things."

"I shall be late, as sure as a gun!" impatiently returned Harry. And
away he sped through the rain and mud, never slackening speed till he
was in the college schoolroom.

He hung up his trencher, flung his surplice on to a bench, and went
straight up, with outstretched hand, to Tom Channing, who stood as
senior, unfolding the roll. "Good luck to you, old fellow!" cried he, in
a clear voice, that rang through the spacious room. "I hope, with all my
heart, that you'll be in this post for many a day."

"Thank you, Huntley," responded Tom. And he proceeded to call over the
roll, though his cheek burnt at sundry hisses that came, in subdued
tones, from various parts of the room.

Every boy was present. Not a king's scholar but answered to his name;
and Tom signed the roll for the first time. "Channing, acting senior."
Not "Channing, senior," yet. It was a whim of Mr. Pye's that on Sundays
and saints' day--that is, whenever the king's scholars had to attend
service--the senior boy should sign the roll.

They then put on their surplices; and rather damp surplices some of them
were. The boys most of them disdained bags; let the weather be what it
might, the surplices, like themselves, went openly through it. Ready in
their surplices and trenchers, Tom Channing gave the word of command,
and they were on the point of filing out, when a freak took Pierce
senior to leave his proper place in the ranks, and walk by the side of
Brittle.

"Halt!" said Channing. "Pierce senior, take your place."

"I shan't," returned Pierce. "Who is to compel me?" he added with a
mocking laugh. "We are without a senior for once."

"I will," thundered Tom, his face turning white at the implied sneer,
the incipient disobedience. "I stand here as the school's senior now,
whatever I may do later, and I will be obeyed. Return to your proper
place."

There was that in Tom's eye, in Tom's tone, that somehow over-awed
Mr. Pierce; and he walked sheepishly to his own place. There was no
mistaking that Channing would make a firm senior. The boys proceeded,
two and two, decorously through the cloisters, snatching off their
trenchers as they entered the college gates. Tom and Huntley walked
last, Tom bearing the keys. The choir gained, the two branched off right
and left, Huntley placing himself at the head of the boys on the left,
or _cantori_ side; Tom, assuming his place as acting senior, on the
_decani_. When they should sit next in that cathedral would their posts
be reversed?

The dean was present: also three canons--Dr. Burrows, who was subdean,
Dr. Gardner, and Mr. Mence. The head-master chanted, and in the stall
next to him sat Gaunt. Gaunt had discarded his surplice with his
schoolboy life; but curiosity with regard to the seniorship brought him
amongst them again that day. "I hope you'll keep the place, Channing,"
he whispered to him, as he passed the boys to get to his stall. Arthur
Channing was at his place at the organ.

Ere eleven o'clock struck, service was over, and the boys marched back
again. Not to the schoolroom--into the chapter-house. The examination,
which took place once in three years, was there held. It was conducted
quite in a formal manner; Mr. Galloway, as chapter clerk, being present,
to call over the roll. The dean, the three prebendaries who had been at
service, the head and other masters of the school, all stood together
in the chapter-house; and the king's scholars wearing their surplices
still, were ranged in a circle before them.

The dean took the examination. Dr. Burrows asked a question now and
then, but the dean chiefly took it. There is neither space nor time to
follow it in detail here: and no one would care to read it, if it were
given. As a whole, the school acquitted itself well, doing credit to its
masters. One of the chapter--it was Dr. Gardner, and the only word
he spoke throughout--remarked that the head boy was a sound scholar,
meaning Tom Channing.

The business over, the dean's words of commendation spoken, then the
head-master took a step forward and cleared his throat. He addressed
himself to the boys exclusively; for, what he had to say, had reference
to them and himself alone: it was supposed not to concern the clergy.
As to the boys, those who were of an excitable temperament, looked quite
pale with suspense, now the long-expected moment was come. Channing?
Huntley? Yorke?--which of the three would it be?

"The praise bestowed upon you, gentlemen, by the Dean and Chapter has
been, if possible, more gratifying to myself than to you. It would be
superfluous in me to add a word to the admonition given you by the Very
Reverend the Dean, as to your future conduct and scholarly improvement.
I can only hope, with him, that they may continue to be such as to
afford satisfaction to myself, and to those gentlemen who are associated
with me as masters in the collegiate school."

A pause and a dead silence. The head-master cleared his throat again,
and went on.

"The retirement of William Gaunt from the school, renders the seniorship
vacant. I am sorry that circumstances, to which I will not more
particularly allude, prevent my bestowing it upon the boy whose name
stands first upon the rolls, Thomas Ingram Channing. I regret this the
more, that it is not from any personal fault of Channing's that he is
passed over; and this fact I beg may be most distinctly understood. Next
to Channing's name stands that of Henry Huntley, and to him I award
the seniorship. Henry Huntley, you are appointed senior of Helstonleigh
Collegiate School. Take your place."

The dead silence was succeeded by a buzz, a murmur, suppressed almost
as soon as heard. Tom Channing's face turned scarlet, then became deadly
white. It was a cruel blow. Huntley, with an impetuous step, advanced a
few paces, and spoke up bravely, addressing the master.

"I thank you, sir, for the honour you have conferred upon me, but I have
no right to it, either by claim or merit. I feel that it is but usurping
the place of Channing. Can't you give it to him, please sir, instead of
to me?"

The speech, begun formally and grandly enough for a royal president at
a public dinner, and ending in its schoolboy fashion, drew a smile from
more than one present. "No," was all the answer vouchsafed by Mr. Pye,
but it was spoken with unmistakable emphasis, and he pointed his finger
authoritatively to the place already vacated by Tom Channing. Huntley
bowed, and took it; and the next thing seen by the boys was Mr. Galloway
altering the roll. He transposed the names of Channing and Huntley.

The boys, bowing to the clergy, filed out, and proceeded to the
schoolroom, the masters following them. Tom Channing was very silent.
Huntley was silent. Yorke, feeling mad with everyone, was silent. In
short, the whole school was silent. Channing delivered the keys of the
school to Huntley; and Mr. Pye, with his own hands, took out the roll
and made the alteration in the names. For, the roll belonging to the
chapter-house was not, as you may have thought, the every-day roll
of the schoolroom. "Take care what you are about, Huntley," said the
master. "A careless senior never finds favour with me."

"Very well, sir," replied Huntley. But he was perfectly conscious, as he
spoke, that his chief fault, as senior, would be that of carelessness.
And Gaunt, who was standing by, and knew it also, telegraphed a
significant look to Huntley. The other masters went up to Huntley, shook
hands, and congratulated him, for that was the custom of the school;
indeed, it was for that purpose only that the masters had gone into the
schoolroom, where they had, that day, no business. Gaunt followed suit
next, in shaking hands and congratulating, and the school afterwards;
Gerald Yorke doing his part with a bad grace.

"Thank you all," said Harry Huntley. "But it ought to have been Tom
Channing." Poor Tom's feelings, during all this, may be imagined.

The king's scholars were slinging their surplices on their arms to
depart, for they had full holiday for the remainder of the day, when
they were surprised by the entrance of Mr. Huntley. He went straight up
to the head-master, nodding pleasantly to the boys, right and left.

"Well, and who is your important senior?" he gaily demanded of the
master.

"Henry Huntley."

Mr. Huntley drew in his lips. "For another's sake I am sorry to hear it.
But I can only express my hope that he will do his duty."

"I have just been telling him so," observed the master.

"What brings me here, is this, sir," continued Mr. Huntley to the
master. "Knowing there was a doubt, as to which of the three senior boys
would be chosen, I wished, should it prove to be my son, to speak a word
about the Oxford exhibition, which, I believe, generally accompanies the
seniorship. It falls due next Easter."

"Yes," said Mr. Pye.

"Then allow me to decline it for my son," replied Mr. Huntley. "He will
not need it; and therefore should not stand in the light of any other
boy. I deemed it well, sir, to state this at once."

"Thank you," warmly responded the head-master. He knew that it was an
unselfish, not to say generous, act.

Mr. Huntley approached Tom Channing. He took his hand; he shook it
heartily, with every mark of affection and respect. "You must not allow
this exaltation of Harry to lessen the friendship you and he entertain
for each other," he said, in tones that reached every pair of ears
present--and not one but was turned up to listen. "You are more
deserving of the place than he, and I am deeply sorry for the
circumstances which have caused him to supplant you. Never mind, Tom;
bear on bravely, lad, and you'll outlive vexation. Continue to be worthy
of your noble father; continue to be my son's friend; there is no boy
living whom I would so soon he took pattern by, as by you."

The hot tears rushed into Tom's eyes, and his lip quivered. But that
he remembered where he was, he might have lost his self-control. "Thank
you, sir," he answered, in a low tone.

"Whew!" whistled Tod Yorke, as they were going out. "A fine friend he
is! A thief's brother."

"A thief's brother! A thief's brother!" was the echo.

"But he's not our senior. Ha! ha! that would have been a good joke! He's
not our senior!"

And down the steps they clattered, and went splashing home, as they had
come, they and their surplices, through the wet streets and the rain.



CHAPTER XXXIX.


THE GHOST.

The moon was high in the heavens. Lighting up the tower of the
cathedral, illuminating its pinnacles, glittering through the elm trees,
bringing forth into view even the dark old ivy on the prebendal houses.
A fair night--all too fair for the game that was going to be played in
it.

When the Helstonleigh College boys resolved upon what they were pleased
to term a "lark"--and, to do them justice, they regarded this, their
prospective night's work, in no graver light--they carried it out
artistically, with a completeness, a skill, worthy of a better cause.
Several days had they been hatching this, laying their plans, arranging
the details; it would be their own bungling fault if it miscarried. But
the college boys were not bunglers.

Stripped of its details, the bare plot was to exhibit a "ghost" in the
cloisters, and to get Charley Charming to pass through them. The seniors
knew nothing of the project. Huntley--it was the day following his
promotion--would have stopped it at once, careless as he was. Tom
Channing would have stopped it. Gerald Yorke might or might not; but
Tod had taken care not to tell Gerald. And Griffin, who was burning
to exercise in any way his newly acquired power, would certainly have
stopped it. They had been too wise to allow it to come to the knowledge
of the seniors. The most difficult part of the business had been old
Ketch; but that was managed.

The moonlight shone peacefully on the Boundaries, and the conspirators
were stealing up, by ones and twos, to their place of meeting, round the
dark trunks of the elm trees. Fine as it was overhead, it was less so
under-foot. The previous day, you may remember, had been a wet one, the
night had been wet, and also the morning of the present day. Schoolboys
are not particularly given to reticence, and a few more than the
original conspirators had been taken into the plot. They were winding up
now, in the weird moonlight, for the hour was approaching.

Once more we must pay a visit to Mr. Ketch in his lodge, at his supper
hour. Mr. Ketch had changed his hour for that important meal. Growing
old with age or with lumbago, he found early rest congenial to his
bones, as he informed his friends: so he supped at seven, and retired
betimes. Since the trick played him in the summer, he had taken to have
his pint of ale brought to him; deeming it more prudent not to leave
his lodge and the keys, to fetch it. This was known to the boys, and it
rendered their plans a little more difficult.

Mr. Ketch, I say, sat in his lodge, having locked up the cloisters about
an hour before, sneezing and wheezing, for he was suffering from a
cold, caught the previous day in the wet. He was spelling over a weekly
twopenny newspaper, borrowed from the public-house, by the help of a
flaring tallow candle, and a pair of spectacles, of which one glass was
out. Cynically severe was he over everything he read, as you know it was
in the nature of Mr. Ketch to be. As the three-quarters past six chimed
out from the cathedral clock, his door was suddenly opened, and a voice
called out, "Beer!" Mr. Ketch's ale had arrived.

But the arrival did not give that gentleman pleasure, and he started up
in what, but for the respect we bear him, we might call a fury. Dashing
his one-eyed glasses on the table, he attacked the man.

"What d'ye mean with your 'beer' at this time o' night? It wants a
quarter to seven! Haven't you no ears? haven't you no clock at your
place? D'ye think I shall take it in now?"

"Well, it just comes to this," said the man, who was the brewer at the
public-house, and made himself useful at odd jobs in his spare time:
"if you don't like to take it in now, you can't have it at all, of my
bringing. I'm going up to t'other end of the town, and shan't be back
this side of ten."

Mr. Ketch, with much groaning and grumbling, took the ale and poured
it into a jug of his own--a handsome jug, that had been in the wars and
lost its spout and handle--giving back the other jug to the man. "You
serve me such a imperant trick again, as to bring my ale a quarter of a
hour aforehand, that's all!" snarled he.

The man received the jug, and went off whistling; he had the pleasure
of knowing Mr. Ketch and his temper well. That gentleman closed his door
with a bang, and proceeded to take out his customary bread and cheese.
Not that he had any great love for a bread-and-cheese supper as a matter
of fancy: he would very much have preferred something more dainty; only,
dainties and Mr. Ketch's pocket did not agree.

"They want to be took down a notch, that public--sending out a man's
beer a quarter afore seven, when it ain't ordered to come till seven
strikes. Much they care if it stops a waiting and flattening! Be I a
slave, that I should be forced to swallow my supper afore I want it,
just to please them? They have a sight too much custom, that's what it
is."

He took a slight draught of the offending ale, and was critically
surveying the loaf, before applying to it that green-handled knife of
his, whose elegance you have heard of, when a second summons was heard
at the door--a very timid one this time.

Mr. Ketch flung down the bread and the knife. "What's the reason I can't
get a meal in quiet? Who is it?"

There was no response to this, beyond a second faint tapping. "Come in!"
roared out he. "Pull the string o' the latch."

But nobody came in, in spite of this lucid direction; and the timid
tapping, which seemed to proceed from very small knuckles, was repeated
again. Mr. Ketch was fain to go and open it.

A young damsel of eight or so, in a tattered tippet, and a large
bonnet--probably her mother's--stood there, curtseying. "Please, sir,
Mr. Ketch is wanted."

Mr. Ketch was rather taken to at this strange address, and surveyed the
messenger in astonishment. "Who be you? and who wants him?" growled he.

"Please, sir, it's a gentleman as is waiting at the big green gates,"
was the reply. "Mr. Ketch is to go to him this minute; he told me to
come and say so, and if you didn't make haste he should be gone."

"Can't you speak plain?" snarled Ketch. "Who is the gentleman?"

"Please, sir, I think it's the bishop."

This put Ketch in a flutter. The "big green gates" could only have
reference to the private entrance to the bishop's garden, which entrance
his lordship used when attending the cathedral. That the bishop was
in Helstonleigh, Ketch knew: he had arrived that day, after a short
absence: what on earth could he want with _him_? Never doubting, in his
hurry, the genuineness of the message, Ketch pulled his door to, and
stepped off, the young messenger having already decamped. The green
gates were not one minute's walk from the lodge--though a projecting
buttress of the cathedral prevented the one from being in sight of the
other--and old Ketch gained them, and looked around.

Where was the bishop? The iron gates, the garden, the white stones
at his feet, the towering cathedral, all lay cold and calm in the
moonlight, but of human sight or sound there was none. The gates
were locked when he came to try them, and he could not see the bishop
anywhere.

He was not likely to see him. Stephen Bywater, who took upon himself
much of the plot's performance--of which, to give him his due, he was
boldly capable--had been on the watch in the street, near the cathedral,
for a messenger that would suit his purpose. Seeing this young damsel
hurrying along with a jug in her hand, possibly to buy beer for _her_
home supper, he waylaid her.

"Little ninepins, would you like to get threepence?" asked he. "You
shall have it, if you'll carry a message for me close by."

"Little ninepins" had probably never had a whole threepence to herself
in her young life. She caught at the tempting suggestion, and Bywater
drilled into her his instructions, finding her excessively stupid in the
process. Perhaps that was all the better. "Now you mind, you are _not_
to say who wants Mr. Ketch, unless he asks," repeated he for about the
fifth time, as she was departing to do the errand. "If he asks, say you
think it's the bishop."

So she went, and delivered it. But had old Ketch's temper allowed him to
go into a little more questioning, he might have discovered the trick.
Bywater stealthily followed the child near to the lodge, screening
himself from observation; and, as soon as old Ketch hobbled out of it,
he popped in, snatched the cloister keys from their nail, and deposited
a piece of paper, folded as a note, on Ketch's table. Then he made off.

Back came Ketch, after a while. He did not know quite what to make of
it, but rather inclined to the opinion that the bishop had not waited
for him. "He might have wanted me to take a errand round to the
deanery," soliloquized he. And this thought had caused him to tarry
about the gates, so that he was absent from his lodge quite ten minutes.
The first thing he saw, on entering, was the bit of paper on his table.
He seized and opened it, grumbling aloud that folks used his house just
as they pleased, going in and out without reference to his presence or
his absence. The note, written in pencil, purported to be from Joseph
Jenkins. It ran as follows:--

My old father is coming up to our place to-night, to eat a bit of
supper, and he says he should like you to join him, which I and Mrs.
J. shall be happy if you will, at seven o'clock. It's tripe and onions.
Yours,

"J. JENKINS."


Now, if there was one delicacy, known to this world, more delicious to
old Ketch's palate than another, it was tripe, seasoned with onions.
His mouth watered as he read. He was aware that it was--to use the
phraseology of Helstonleigh--"tripe night." On two nights in the week,
tripe was sold in the town ready dressed. This was one of them, and
Ketch anticipated a glorious treat. In too great a hurry to cast so much
as a glance round his lodge (crafty Bywater had been deep), not stopping
even to put up the bread and cheese, away hobbled Ketch as fast as
his lumbago would allow him, locking safely his door, and not having
observed the absence of the keys.

"He ain't a bad sort, that Joe Jenkins," allowed he, conciliated beyond
everything at the prospect the invitation held out, and talking to
himself as he limped away towards the street. "He don't write a bad
hand, neither! It's a plain un; not one o' them new-fangled scrawls that
you can't read. Him and his wife have held up their heads a cut above
me--oh yes, they have, though, for all Joe's humbleness--but the grand
folks be a coming to. Old Jenkins has always said we'd have a supper
together some night, him and me; I suppose this is it. I wonder what
made him take and have it at Joe's? If Joe don't soon get better than he
have looked lately--"

The first chime of the cathedral clock giving notice of the hour, seven!
Old Ketch broke out into a heat, and tried to hobble along more quickly.
Seven o'clock! What if, through being late, his share of supper should
be eaten!

Peering out every now and then from the deep shade, cast by one of the
angles of the cathedral, and as swiftly and cautiously drawn back again,
was a trencher apparently watching Ketch. As soon as that functionary
was fairly launched on his way, the trencher came out completely, and
went flying at a swift pace round the college to the Boundaries.

It was not worn by Bywater. Bywater, by the help of the stolen keys, was
safe in the cloisters, absorbed with his companions in preparations for
the grand event of the night. In point of fact, they were getting up
Pierce senior. Their precise mode of doing that need not be given. They
had requisites in abundance, having disputed among themselves which
should be at the honour of the contribution, and the result was an undue
prodigality of material.

"There's seven!" exclaimed Bywater in an agony, as the clock struck.
"Make haste, Pierce! the young one was to come out at a quarter past. If
you're not ready, it will ruin all."

"I shall be ready and waiting, if you don't bother," was the response of
Pierce. "I wonder if old Ketch is safely off?"

"What a stunning fright Ketch would be in, if he came in here and met
the ghost!" exclaimed Hurst. "He'd never think it was anything less than
the Old Gentleman come for him."

A chorus of laughter, which Hurst himself hushed. It would not do for
noise to be heard in the cloisters at that hour.

There was nothing to which poor Charley Channing was more sensitive,
than to ridicule on the subject of his unhappy failing--his propensity
to fear; and there is no failing to which schoolboys are more
intolerant. Of moral courage--that is, of courage in the cause of
right--Charles had plenty; of physical courage, little. Apart from
the misfortune of having had supernatural terror implanted in him in
childhood, he would never have been physically brave. Schoolboys cannot
understand that this shrinking from danger (I speak of palpable danger),
which they call cowardice, nearly always emanates from a superior
intellect. Where the mental powers are of a high order, the imagination
unusually awakened, danger is sure to be keenly perceived, and
sensitively shrunk from. In proportion will be the shrinking dread of
ridicule. Charles Channing possessed this dread in a remarkable degree;
you may therefore judge how he felt, when he found it mockingly alluded
to by Bywater.

On this very day that we are writing of, Bywater caught Charles, and
imparted to him in profound confidence an important secret; a choice few
of the boys were about to play old Ketch a trick, obtain the keys, and
have a game in the cloisters by moonlight. A place in the game, he said,
had been assigned to Charles. Charles hesitated. Not because it might
be wrong so to cheat Ketch--Ketch was the common enemy of the boys, of
Charley as of the rest--but because he had plenty of lessons to do.
This was Bywater's opportunity; he chose to interpret the hesitation
differently.

"So you are afraid, Miss Charley! Ho! ho! Do you think the cloisters
will be dark? that the moon won't keep the ghosts away? I say, it
_can't_ be true, what I heard the other day--that you dare not be in the
dark, lest ghosts should come and run away with you!"

"Nonsense, Bywater!" returned Charley, changing colour like a conscious
girl.

"Well, if you are not afraid, you'll come and join us," sarcastically
returned Bywater. "We shall have stunning good sport. There'll be about
a dozen of us. Rubbish to your lessons! you need not be away from them
more than an hour. It won't be _dark_, Miss Channing."

After this, fearing their ridicule, nothing would have kept Charley
away. He promised faithfully to be in the cloisters at a quarter past
seven.

Accordingly, the instant tea was over, he got to his lessons; Tom at one
side of the table--who had more, in proportion, to do than Charles--he
at the other. Thus were they engaged when Hamish entered.

"What sort of a night is it, Hamish?" asked Charles, thinking of the
projected play.

"Fine," replied Hamish. "Where are they all?"

"Constance is in the drawing-room, giving Annabel her music lesson.
Arthur's there too, I think, copying music."

Silence was resumed. Hamish stood over the fire in thought. Tom and
Charles went on with their studies. "Oh dear!" presently exclaimed the
latter, in a tone of subdued impatience.

Hamish turned his eyes upon him. He thought the bright young face looked
unusually weary. "What is it, Charley, boy?"

"It's this Latin, Hamish. I can't make it come right. And Tom has no
time to tell me."

"Bring the Latin here."

Charles carried his difficulties to Hamish. "It won't come right,"
repeated he.

"Like Mrs. Dora Copperfield's figures, I expect, that wouldn't add up,"
said Hamish, as he cast his eyes over the exercise-book. "Halloa, young
gentleman! what's this! You have been cribbing." He had seen in the past
leaves certain exercises so excellently well done as to leave no doubt
upon the point.

Charles turned crimson. Cribs were particularly objectionable to
Mr. Channing, who had forbidden their use, so far as his sons were
concerned. "I could not help it, Hamish. I used the cribs for about a
week. The desk made me."

"Made you!"

"Well," confessed Charley, "there has been a row about the cribbing. The
rest had cribbed, and I had not, and somehow, through that, it came out
to the second master. He asked me a lot of questions, and I was obliged
to tell. It made the desk savage, and they said I must do as they did."

"Which you complied with! Nice young gentlemen, all of you!"

"Only for five or six days, Hamish. You may see that, if you look. I am
doing my lessons on the square, now, as I did before."

"And don't go off the square again, if you please, sir," repeated
Hamish, "or you and I may quarrel. If Mr. Channing is not here, I am."

"You don't know how tyrannical the college boys are."

"Don't I!" said Hamish. "I was a college boy rather longer than you have
yet been, Master Charley."

He sat down to the table and so cleared Charley's difficulties that the
boy soon went on swimmingly, and Hamish left him. "How do you get on,
Tom?" Hamish asked.

"Better than I need," was Tom's answer, delivered somewhat roughly.
"After the injustice done me yesterday, it does not much matter how I
get on."

Hamish turned himself round to the fire, and said no more, neither
attempting to console nor remonstrate. Charles's ears were listening for
the quarter past seven, and, the moment it chimed out, he left his work,
took his trencher from the hall, and departed, saying nothing to any
one.

He went along whistling, past Dr. Gardner's house, past the deanery;
they and the cathedral tower, rising above them, looked grey in the
moonlight. He picked up a stone and sent it right into one of the
elm trees; some of the birds, disturbed from their roost, flew out,
croaking, over his head. In the old days of superstition it might have
been looked upon as an evil omen, coupled with what was to follow. Ah,
Charley! if you could only foresee what is before you! If Mrs. Channing,
from her far-off sojourn, could but know what grievous ill is about to
overtake her boy!

Poor Charley suspected nothing. He was whistling a merry tune, laughing,
boy-like, at the discomfiture of the rooks, and anticipating the stolen
game he and his friends were about to enjoy on forbidden ground. Not a
boy in the school loved play better than did Master Charles Channing.

A door on the opposite side of the Boundaries was suddenly opened, to
give admittance to one who sprung out with a bound. It was Gerald Yorke:
and Charley congratulated himself that they were on opposite sides; for
he had been warned that this escapade was to be kept from the seniors.

At that moment he saw a boy come forth from the cloisters, and softly
whistle to him, as if in token that he was being waited for. Charley
answered the whistle, and set off at a run. Which of the boys it was he
could not tell; the outline of the form and the college cap were visible
enough in the moonlight; but not the face. When he gained the cloister
entrance he could no longer see him, but supposed the boy had preceded
him into the cloisters. On went Charley, groping his way down the narrow
passage. "Where are you?" he called out.

There was no answer. Once in the cloisters, a faint light came in from
the open windows overlooking the graveyard. A very faint light, indeed,
for the buildings all round it were so high, as almost to shut out any
view of the sky: you must go quite to the window-frame before you could
see it.

"I--s-a-a-y!" roared Charley again, at the top of his voice, "where are
you all? Is nobody here?"

There came neither response nor sign of it. One faint sound certainly
did seem to strike upon his ear from behind; it was like the click of
a lock being turned. Charley looked sharply round, but all seemed still
again. The low, dark, narrow passage was behind him; the dim cloisters
were before him; he was standing at the corner formed by the east and
south quadrangles, and the pale burial-ground in their midst, with its
damp grass and its gravestones, looked cold and lonely in the moonlight.

The strange silence--it was not the silence of daylight--struck upon
Charles with dismay. "You fellows there!" he called out again, in
desperation. "What's the good of playing up this nonsense?"

The tones of his voice died away in the echoes of the cloisters, but of
other answer there was none. At that instant a rook, no doubt one of the
birds he had disturbed, came diving down, and flapped its wings across
the burial-ground. The sight of something, moving there, almost startled
Charles out of his senses, and the matter was not much mended when he
discovered it was only a bird. He turned, and flew down the passage to
the entrance quicker than he had come up it; but, instead of passing
out, he found the iron gate closed. What could have shut it? There
was no wind. And if there had been ever so boisterous a wind, it could
scarcely have moved that little low gate, for it opened inwards.

Charles seized it to pull it open. It resisted his efforts. He tried to
shake it, but little came of that, for the gate was fastened firmly. Bit
by bit stole the conviction over his mind that he was locked in.

Then terror seized him. He was locked in the ghostly cloisters, close to
the graves of the dead; on the very spot where, as idle tales, went, the
monks of bygone ages came out of those recording stones under his feet,
and showed themselves at midnight. Not a step could he take, round the
cloisters, but his foot must press those stones. To be locked in the
cloisters had been nothing (from this point of view) for brave, grown,
sensible men, such as the bishop, Jenkins, and Ketch--and they had been
three in company, besides--but for many a boy it would have been a great
deal; and for Charles Channing it was awful.

That he was alone, he never doubted. He believed--as fully as belief, or
any other feeling could flash into his horrified mind--that Bywater had
decoyed him into the cloisters and left him there, in return for his
refusal to disclose what he knew of the suspicions bearing upon the
damaged surplice. All the dread terrors of his childhood rose up before
him. To say that he was mad in that moment might not be quite correct;
but it is certain that his mind was not perfectly sane. His whole body,
his face, his hair, grew damp in an instant, as of one in mortal agony,
and with a smothered cry, which was scarcely like that of a human being,
he turned and fled through the cloisters, in the vague hope of finding
the other gate open.

It may be difficult for some of you to understand this excessive terror,
albeit the situation was not a particularly desirable one. A college
boy, in these enlightened days, laughs at supernatural tales as the
delusions of ignorance in past ages; but for those who have had the
misfortune to be imbued in infancy with superstition, as was Charles
Channing, the terror still exists, college boys though they may be. He
could not have told (had he been collected enough to tell anything) what
his precise dread was, as he flew through the cloisters. None can do so,
at these moments. A sort of vampire rises in the mind, and they shrink
from it, though they see not what its exact nature may be; but it is a
vampire that can neither be faced nor borne.

Feeling as one about to die; feeling as if death, in that awful moment,
might be a boon, rather than the contrary, Charles sped down the east
quadrangle, and turned into the north. At the extremity of the north
side, forming the angle between it and the west, commenced the narrow
passage similar to the one he had just traversed, which led to the west
gate of entrance. A faint glimmering of the white flagged stones beyond
this gate, gave promise that it was open. A half-uttered sound of
thankfulness escaped him, and he sped on.

Ah! but what was that? What was it that he came upon in the middle of
the north quadrangle, standing within the niches? A towering white
form, with a ghastly face, telling of the dead; a mysterious,
supernatural-looking blue flame lighting it up round about. It came out
of the niche, and advanced slowly upon him. An awful cry escaped from
his heart, and went ringing up to the roof of the cloisters. Oh! that
the good dean, sitting in his deanery close to the chapter-house,
could have heard that helpless cry of anguish!--that Dr. Burrows, still
nearer, could have heard it, and gone forth into the cloisters with the
succour of his presence! No, no; there could be no succour for a spot
supposed to be empty and closed.

Back to the locked gate--with perhaps the apparition following him? or
forward _past_ IT to the open door? Which was it to be? In these moments
there can be no reason to guide the course; but there is instinct; and
instinct took that ill-fated child to the open door.

How he flew past the sight, it is impossible to tell. Had it been right
in front of his path, he never would have passed it. But it had halted
just beyond the niche, not coming out very far. With his poor hands
stretched out, and his breath leaving him, Charles did get by, and made
for the door, the ghost bringing up the rear with a yell, while those
old cloister-niches, when he was fairly gone, grew living with moving
figures, which came out of their dark corners, and shrieked aloud with
laughter.

Away, he knew not whither--away, as one who is being pursued by an
unearthly phantom--deep catchings of the breath, as will follow undue
bodily exertion, telling of something not right within; wild, low,
abrupt sounds breaking from him at intervals--thus he flew, turning to
the left, which led him towards the river. Anywhere from the dreaded
cloisters; anywhere from the old, grey, ghostly edifice; anywhere in his
dread and agony. He dashed past the boat-house, down the steps, turning
on to the river pathway, and--

Whether the light, hung at the boat-house, deceived his sight--whether
the slippery mud caused him to lose his footing--whether he was running
too quickly and could not stop himself in time--or whether, in his
irrepressible fear, he threw himself unconsciously in, to escape what
might be behind him, will never be known. Certain it is, that the
unhappy boy went plunge into the river, another and a last wild cry
escaping him as the waters closed over his head.



CHAPTER XL.


MR. KETCH'S EVENING VISIT.

It were surely a breach of politeness on our part not to attend Mr.
Ketch in his impromptu evening visit! He shuffled along at the very top
of his speed, his mouth watering, while the delicious odour of tripe
and onions appeared to be borne on the air to his olfactory nerves: so
strong is the force of fancy. Arrived at his destination, he found the
shop closed. It was Mrs. Jenkins's custom to close at seven from October
to April; and the shutters had now just been put up. Mr. Ketch seized
the knocker on the shop-door--there was no other entrance to the
house--and brought it down with a force that shook the first-floor
sitting-room, and startled Mr. Harper, the lay clerk, almost out of his
armchair, as he sat before the fire. Mrs. Jenkins's maid, a young person
of seventeen, very much given to blacking her face, opened it.

"Be I in time?" demanded Ketch, his voice shaking.

"In time for what?" responded the girl.

"Why, for supper," said Ketch, penetrating into the shop, which was
lighted by a candle that stood on the counter, the one the girl had
brought in her hand. "Is old Jenkins the bedesman come yet?"

"Old Jenkins ain't here," said she. "You had better go into the parlour,
if you're come to supper."

Ketch went down the shop, sniffing curiously. Sharp as fancy is, he
could not say that he was regaled with the scent of onions, but he
supposed the saucepan lid might be on. For, as was known to Mr. Ketch,
and to other of the initiated in tripe mysteries, it was generally
thought advisable, by good housewives, to give the tripe a boil up at
home, lest it should have become cold in its transit from the vendor's.
The girl threw open the door of the small parlour, and told him he
might sit down if he liked; sh: did not overburden the gentleman with
civility. "Missis'll be here soon," said she.

Ketch entered the parlour, and sat down. There was a fire in the
grate, but no light, and there were not, so far as Ketch could see,
any preparations yet for the entertainment. "They're going to have it
downstairs in the kitchen," soliloquized he. "And that's a sight more
comfortabler. She's gone out to fetch it, I shouldn't wonder!" he
continued, alluding to Mrs. Jenkins, and sniffing again strongly, but
without result. "That's right! she won't let 'em serve her with short
onions, she won't; she has a tongue of her own. I wonder how much beer
there'll be!"

He sat on pretty patiently, for him, about half an hour, and then took
the liberty of replenishing the fire from a coal-box that stood there.
Another quarter of an hour was passed much more impatiently, when Ketch
began to grow uneasy and lose himself in all sorts of grave conjectures.
Could she have arrived too late, and found the tripe all sold, and so
had stopped out to supper herself somewhere? Such a thing as a run on
the delicacy had occurred more than once, to Ketch's certain knowledge,
and tardy customers had been sent away disappointed, to wait in longing
anticipations for the next tripe night. He went into a cold perspiration
at the bare idea. And where was old Jenkins, all this time, that he had
not come in? And where was Joe? A pretty thing to invite a gentleman out
to an impromptu supper, and serve him in this way! What could they mean
by it?

He groped his way round the corner of the shop to where lay the kitchen
stairs, whose position he pretty well knew, and called. "Here, Sally,
Betty--whatever your name is--ain't there nobody at home?"

The girl heard, and came forth, the same candle in hand. "Who be you
calling to, I'd like to know? My name's Lidyar, if you please."

"Where's your missis?" responded Ketch, suffering the name to drop into
abeyance. "Is she gone out for the tripe?"

"Gone out for what tripe?" asked the girl. "What be you talking of?"

"The tripe for supper," said Ketch.

"There ain't no tripe for supper," replied she.

"There is tripe for supper," persisted Ketch. "And me and old Jenkins
are going to have some of it. There's tripe and onions."

The girl shook her head. "I dun know nothing about it. Missis is
upstairs, fixing the mustard."

Oh come! this gave a promise of something. Old Ketch thought mustard the
greatest condiment that tripe could be accompanied by, in conjunction
with onions. But she must have been a long time "fixing" the mustard;
whatever that might mean. His spirits dropped again, and he grew rather
exasperated. "Go up and ask your missis how long I be to wait?" he
growled. "I was told to come here at seven for supper, and now it's
a'most eight."

The girl, possibly feeling a little curiosity herself, came up with her
candle. "Master ain't so well to-night," remarked she. "He's gone to
bed, and missis is putting him a plaster on his chest."

The words fell as ice on old Ketch. "A mustard-plaster?" shrieked he.

"What else but a mustard-plaster!" she retorted. "Did you think it was a
pitch? There's a fire lighted in his room, and she's making it there."

Nothing more certain. Poor Jenkins, who had coughed more than usual
the last two days, perhaps from the wet weather, and whose chest in
consequence was very painful, had been ordered to bed this night by his
wife when tea was over. She had gone up herself, as soon as her shop
was shut, to administer a mustard-plaster. Ketch was quite stunned with
uncertainty. A man in bed, with a plaster on his chest, was not likely
to invite company to supper.

Before he had seen his way out of the shock, or the girl had done
staring at him, Mrs. Jenkins descended the stairs and joined them,
having been attracted by the conversation. She had slipped an old buff
dressing-gown over her clothes, in her capacity of nurse, and looked
rather en deshabille; certainly not like a lady who is about to give an
entertainment.

"He says he's come to supper: tripe and onions," said the girl,
unceremoniously introducing Mr. Ketch and the subject to her wondering
mistress.

Mrs. Jenkins, not much more famous for meekness in expressing her
opinions than was Ketch, turned her gaze upon that gentleman. "_What_ do
you say you have come for?" asked she.

"Why, I have come for supper, that's what I have come for," shrieked
Ketch, trembling. "Jenkins invited me to supper; tripe and onions; and
I'd like to know what it all means, and where the supper is."

"You are going into your dotage," said Mrs. Jenkins, with an amount
of scorn so great that it exasperated Ketch as much as the words
themselves. "You'll be wanting a lunatic asylum next. Tripe and onions!
If Jenkins was to hint at such a thing as a plate of tripe coming inside
my house, I'd tripe him. There's nothing I have such a hatred to as
tripe; and he knows it."

"Is this the way to treat a man?" foamed Ketch, disappointment and
hunger driving him almost into the state hinted at by Mrs. Jenkins. "Joe
Jenkins sends me down a note an hour ago, to come here to supper with
his old father, and it was to be tripe and onions! It _is_ tripe night!"
he continued, rather wandering from the point of argument, as tears
filled his eyes. "You can't deny as it's tripe night."

"Here, Lydia, open the door and let him out," cried Mrs. Jenkins, waving
her hand imperatively towards it. "And what have you been at with your
face again?" continued she, as the candle held by that damsel reflected
its light. "One can't see it for colly. If I do put you into that mask
I have threatened, you won't like it, girl. Hold your tongue, old Ketch,
or I'll call Mr. Harper down to you. Write a note! What else? He has
wrote no note; he has been too suffering the last few hours to think of
notes, or of you either. You _are_ a lunatic, it's my belief."

"I shall be drove one," sobbed Ketch. "I was promised a treat of--"

"Is that door open, Lydia? There! Take yourself off. My goodness, me!
disturbing my house with such a crazy errand!" And, taking old Ketch
by the shoulders, who was rather feeble and tottering, from lumbago and
age, Mrs. Jenkins politely marshalled him outside, and closed the door
upon him.

"Insolent old fellow!" she exclaimed to her husband, to whom she went
at once and related the occurrence. "I wonder what he'll pretend he has
next from you? A note of invitation, indeed!"

"My dear," said Jenkins, revolving the news, and speaking as well as
his chest would allow him, "it must have been a trick played him by the
young college gentlemen. We should not be too hard upon the poor old
man. He's not very agreeable or good-tempered, I'm afraid it must be
allowed; but--I'd not have sent him away without a bit of supper, my
dear."

"I dare say you'd not," retorted Mrs. Jenkins. "All the world knows you
are soft enough for anything. I have sent him away with a flea in his
ear; that's what I have done."

Mr. Ketch had at length come to the same conclusion: the invitation
must be the work of the college gentlemen. Only fancy the unhappy man,
standing outside Mrs. Jenkins's inhospitable door! Deceived, betrayed,
fainting for supper, done out of the delicious tripe and onions, he
leaned against the shutters, and gave vent to a prolonged and piteous
howl. It might have drawn tears from a stone.

In a frame of mind that was not enviable, he turned his steps homeward,
clasping his hands upon his empty stomach, and vowing the most intense
vengeance upon the college boys. The occurrence naturally caused him
to cast back his thoughts to that other trick-the locking him into the
cloisters, in which Jenkins had been a fellow-victim--and he doubled his
fists in impotent anger. "This comes of their not having been flogged
for that!" he groaned.

Engaged in these reflections of gall and bitterness, old Ketch gained
his lodge, unlocked it, and entered. No wonder that he turned his eyes
upon the cloister keys, the reminiscence being so strong within him.

But, to say he turned his eyes upon the cloister keys, is a mere figure
of speech. No keys were there. Ketch stood a statue transfixed, and
stared as hard as the flickering blaze from his dying fire would allow
him. Seizing a match-box, he struck a light and held it to the hook. The
keys were _not_ there.

Ketch was no conjuror, and it never occurred to him to suspect that the
keys had been removed before his own departure. "How had them wicked
ones got in?" he foamed. "Had they forced his winder?--had they took a
skeleton key to his door?--had they come down the chimbley? They were
capable of all three exploits; and the more soot they collected about
'em in the descent, the better they'd like it. He didn't think they'd
mind a little fire. It was that insolent Bywater!--or that young
villain, Tod Yorke!--or that undaunted Tom Channing!--or perhaps all
three leagued together! Nothing wouldn't tame _them_."

He examined the window; he examined the door; he cast a glance up the
chimney. Nothing, however, appeared to have been touched or disturbed,
and there was no soot on the floor. Cutting himself a piece of bread
and cheese, lamenting at its dryness, and eating it as he went along, he
proceeded out again, locking up his lodge as before.

Of course he bent his steps to the cloisters, going to the west gate.
And there, perhaps to his surprise, perhaps not, he found the gate
locked, just as he might have left it himself that very evening, and
the keys hanging ingeniously, by means of the string, from one of the
studded nails, right over the keyhole.

"There ain't a boy in the school but what'll come to be hung!" danced
old Ketch in his rage.

He would have preferred not to find the keys; but to go to the
head-master with a story of their theft. It was possible, it was just
possible that, going, keys in hand, the master might refuse to believe
his tale.

Away he hobbled, and arrived at the house of the head-master. Check the
first!--The master was not at home. He had gone to a dinner-party. The
other masters lived at a distance, and Ketch's old legs were aching.
What was he to do? Make his complaint to some one, he was determined
upon. The new senior, Huntley, lived too far off for his lumbago; so he
turned his steps to the next senior's, Tom Channing, and demanded to see
him.

Tom heard the story, which was given him in detail. He told Ketch--and
with truth--that he knew nothing about it, but would make inquiries
in the morning. Ketch was fain to depart, and Tom returned to the
sitting-room, and threw himself into a chair in a burst of laughter.

"What is the matter?" they asked.

"The primest lark," returned Tom. "Some of the fellows have been sending
Ketch an invitation to sup at Jenkins's off tripe and onions, and when
he arrived there he found it was a hoax, and Mrs. Jenkins turned him out
again. That's what Master Charley must have gone after."

Hamish turned round. "Where _is_ Charley, by the way?"

"Gone after it, there's no doubt," replied Tom. "Here's his exercise,
not finished yet, and his pen left inside the book. Oh yes; that's where
he has gone!"



CHAPTER XLI.


THE SEARCH.

"Tom, where is Charles?"

"He is not in my pocket," responded Tom Charming, who was buried in his
studies, as he had been for some hours.

"Thomas, that is not the proper way to answer me," resumed Constance, in
a tone of seriousness, for it was from her the question had proceeded.
"It is strange he should run out in the abrupt way you describe, and
remain out so long as this. It is half-past nine! I am waiting to read."

"The boys are up to some trick to-night with Mr. Calcraft, Constance,
and he is one of them," said Tom. "He is sure to be in soon."

Constance remained silent; not satisfied. A nameless, undefined sort of
dread was creeping over her. Engaged with Annabel until eight o'clock,
when she returned to the general sitting-room, she found Charles absent,
much to her surprise. Expecting him to make his appearance every moment,
the time may have seemed to her long, and his absence all the more
unaccountable. It had now gone on to half-past nine, and still he was
not come in, and his lessons were not done. It was his hour for bed
time.

Tom had more than usual to do that night, and it was nearly ten when he
rose from his books. Constance watched him put them aside, and stretch
himself. Then she spoke.

"Tom, you must go and find Charles. I begin to feel uneasy. Something
must have happened, to keep him out like this."

The feeling "uneasy" rather amused Tom. Previsions of evil are not apt
to torment schoolboys. "I expect the worst that has happened may be a
battle royal with old Ketch," said he. "However, the young monkey had no
business to cut short his lessons in the middle, and go off in this way,
so I'll just run after him and march him home."

Tom took his trencher and flew towards the cathedral. He fully expected
the boys would be gathered somewhere round it, not a hundred miles from
old Ketch's lodge. But he could not come upon them anywhere. The lodge
was closed, was dark and silent, showing every probability that its
master had retired for the night to sleep away his discomfiture. The
cloisters were closed, and the Boundaries lay calm in the moonlight,
undisturbed by a single footstep. There was no sign of Charles, or of
any other college boy.

Tom halted in indecision. "Where can he have gone to, I wonder? I'm sure
I don't know where to look for him! I'll ask at Yorke's! If there's any
mischief up, Tod's sure to know of it."

He crossed the Boundaries, and rang at Lady Augusta's door. Tod himself
opened it. Probably he thought it might be one of his friends, the
conspirators; certainly he had not expected to find Tom Channing there,
and he looked inclined to run away again.

"Tod Yorke, do you know anything of Charles?"

"Law! how should I know anything of him?" returned Tod, taking courage,
and putting a bold face upon it. "Is he lost?"

"He is not lost, I suppose; but he has disappeared somewhere. Were you
in the game with old Ketch, to-night?"

"What game?" inquired Tod, innocently.

But at this moment Gerald, hearing Tom's voice, came out of the
sitting-room. Gerald Yorke had a little cooled down from his resentment
against Tom. Since the decision of the previous day, nearly all Gerald's
wrath had been turned upon Mr. Pye, because that gentleman had not
exalted him to the seniorship. So great was it, that he had no room to
think of Tom. Besides, Tom was a fellow-sufferer, and had been passed
over equally with himself.

"What's the row?" asked Gerald.

Tom explained, stating what he had heard from Ketch of the trick the
boys had played him; and Charley's absence. Gerald, who really was not
cognizant of it in any way, listened eagerly, making his own comments,
and enjoying beyond everything the account of Ketch's fast in the supper
department. Both he and Tom exploded with mirth; and Tod, who said
nothing, but listened with his hands in his pockets, dancing first on
one leg, then on the other, nearly laughed himself into fits.

"What did they take out the cloister keys for?" demanded Gerald.

"Who's to know?" said Tom. "I thought Tod was sure to be in it."

"Don't I wish I had been!" responded that gentleman, turning up the
whites of his eyes to give earnestness to the wish.

Gerald looked round at Tod, a faint suspicion stealing over him that the
denial was less genuine than it appeared. In point of fact, Mr. Tod's
had been the identical trencher, spoken of as having watched the effect
of the message upon old Ketch. "I say, Tod, you were off somewhere
to-night for about two hours," said Gerald. "I'll declare you were."

"I know I was," said Tod readily. "I had an appointment with Mark
Galloway, and I went to keep it. If you skinned me alive, Channing, I
couldn't tell you where Miss Charley is, or where he's likely to be."

True enough in the abstract. Tom Channing stopped talking a short time
longer, and then ran home. "Is Charley in yet?" was his first question.

No, Charley was not in; and the household now became seriously
concerned. It was past ten. By leaving his lessons half done, and his
pen inside his exercise-book--of which exercise he had not left many
words to complete; but he had other studies to do--it was evident to
them that he had not gone out intending to remain away. Indeed, if he
wanted to go out in an evening, he always asked leave, and mentioned
where he was going.

"Haven't you found him?" exclaimed Judith, coming forward as Tom
entered. "Where in the world can the child be?"

"Oh, he's safe somewhere," said Tom. "Don't worry your old head, Judy."

"It's fit that somebody should worry their heads," retorted Judith
sharply to Tom. "He never stopped out like this before--never! Pray
Heaven there's no harm come nigh him!"

"Well done, Judy!" was Tom's answer. "Harm! What harm is likely to have
come to him? Helstonleigh has not been shaken by an earthquake to-night,
to swallow him up; and I don't suppose any greedy kite has descended
from the skies and carried him off in her talons. You'll make a
simpleton of that boy till he's twenty!"

Judith--who, truth to say, did look very much after Charley, loved him
and indulged him--wasted no more words on infidel Tom, but went straight
up to Hamish's room, and knocked at the door. Hamish was in it, at his
writing-table as usual, and Judith heard a drawer opened and shut before
he came to her.

"Mr. Hamish, it's very queer about the child!" said Judith. "I don't
half like it."

"What! Has he not come in?"

"No, he's not. And, just to look how he has left his books and his
lessons about, is enough to prove that something or other must have kept
him. I declare my heart's all in a quake! Master Tom has been out, and
can find no traces of him--though it's hard to tell whether he troubled
himself to look much. Boys are as careless one of another as so many
young animals."

"I will come down directly, Judith."

He shut the door, right in front of Judith's inquisitive nose, which was
peering in to ascertain what there might be to see. Judith's curiosity,
in reference to her young master's night employment, had increased
rather than abated. Every night, night after night, as Hamish came home
with the account-books of the office under his arm, and carried them
straight to his bedroom, Judith watched him go up with jealous eyes.
Constance also watched him: watched him in a far more uneasy frame
of mind than could be Judith's. Bringing home those books now, in Mr.
Channing's absence, was only too plain a proof to Constance that his
night work must be connected with them: and a perfectly sick feeling
would rush over her. Surely there could be nothing wrong with the
accounts?

Hamish closed the door, shutting out Judy. She heard him putting things
away: heard a lock turned, and the keys removed. Then he came forth, and
went down with Judith.

The difficulty was, where to look for Charles. It was possible that
he might have gone to the houses of any one of the schoolboys, and be
staying there: if not very likely, still it was by no means impossible.
Tom was despatched to Mr. Pye's, who had some half dozen of the king's
scholars boarding in his house; and thence to other houses in the
neighbourhood. All with the same result; all denied knowledge of
Charles. The college bell struck eleven, the sound booming out in the
silence of the night on their listening ears; and with that sound,
Hamish grew alarmed.

They went out different ways: Hamish, Arthur, Tom, and Judith. Sarah
was excessively anxious to make one of the searching party, but Judith
imperatively ordered her to stop at home and mind her own business. Judy
ran round and about the college, like any one wild; nothing extra on her
shoulders, and the border of her mob-cap flying. But the old red walls
were high, silent, and impenetrable; revealing nothing of Charles
Channing. She stopped at the low wall, extending from the side of the
boat-house to some of the prebendal residences, and glanced over at the
river. The water was flowing tranquilly between its banks, giving no
sign that a young child was drowning, or had been drowned there not many
hours before. "No," said Judy to herself, rejecting the doubt, which had
come over her as improbable, "he can't have got in there. We should have
heard of it."

She turned, and took a survey around. She did not know what to do, or
where to look. Still, cold, shadowy it all lay; the cathedral, the old
houses, the elm trees with their birds, at rest now. "Where _can_ he
have got to?" exclaimed Judith, with a touch of temper.

One thing was certain: it was of no use to wait where she was, and
Judith went herself home again. Just beyond the house of Lady Augusta
Yorke she encountered the head-master, who was walking towards his home.
He said "Good night" to Judith, as he passed her; but she arrested him.

"We are in a fine way, sir! We can't find Master Charles."

"Not find Master Charles?" repeated Mr. Pye. "How do you mean?"

"Why, it happened in this way, sir," said Judith. "He was at his
lessons, as usual, with Master Tom, and he suddenly gets up and leaves
them, and goes out, without saying a word to nobody. That was at seven,
or a bit later; and he has never come in again."

"He must be staying somewhere," remarked Mr. Pye.

"So we all thought, sir, till it got late. He's not likely to be staying
anywhere now. Who'd keep him till this hour, terrifying of us all into
fits? Ketch--"

"Holloa, Judy! Any luck?"

The interruption came from Tom Channing. He had discerned Judy's cap
from the other side of the Boundaries, and now came running across,
unconscious that her companion was the head-master. Judy went on with
her communication.

"Ketch, the porter, came to Master Tom an hour or two ago, complaining
that the college boys had been serving him a trick to-night. They had
pretended to invite him out somewhere to supper, and stole his cloister
keys while he was gone. Now, sir, I'd not like to say too much against
that surly-tempered brown bear," went on Judy, "but if he has had
anything to do with keeping the child out, he ought to be punished."

Tom was up now, saw it was the master, and touched his trencher.

"Have you found your brother?" asked the master.

"No, sir. It is very strange where he can have got to."

"What tricks have the boys been playing Ketch, to-night?" resumed Mr.
Pye. "Your servant tells me that he has been round to you to complain of
them."

Tom went into a white heat. Judy ought to have kept her mouth shut.
It was not his place to inform against the school, privately, to the
master. "Y--es," he hesitatingly said, for an untruth he would not tell.

"What was the complaint?" continued Mr. Pye. "Could this disappearance
of your brother's be connected with it?"

"No, sir, I don't see that it could," replied Tom.

"You 'don't see!' Perhaps you'll allow me to see, and judge. What had
the boys been doing, Channing?" firmly spoke the master, perceiving his
hesitation. "I _insist_ upon knowing."

Tom was at his wits' ends. He might not defy the master, on the one
hand; on the other, he knew the school would send him to Coventry for
ever and a day, if he spoke; as he himself would have sent any other
boy, in it, doing the same thing. He heartily wished Judy had been in
Asia before she had spoken of it, and her tongue with her.

"Were you in the affair yourself, pray?" asked the master.

"No, sir, indeed I was not; and I do not know a single boy who was. I
have heard nothing of it, except from Ketch."

"Then what is your objection to tell me?"

"Well, sir, you know the rules we hold amongst ourselves," said Tom,
blurting out the truth, in his desperation. "I scarcely dare tell you."

"Yes, you dare, Channing, when I command you to do so," was the
significant answer.

Tom had no resource left; and, very unwillingly, Ketch's details were
drawn from him, bit by bit. The sham invitation, the disappointment
touching the tripe and onions, the missing the cloister keys when he
reached home, and the finding them outside the west door.

"Did he enter the cloisters and examine them?" said the master, speaking
hastily. A possibility had struck him, which had not struck any of the
Channings; and it was curious that it had not done so.

"I think not, sir," replied Tom.

"Then, that's where Charles is, locked up in the cloisters!" said the
master, the recollection of the former locking-up no doubt helping
him to the conclusion. "The fact of the keys having been left hanging
outside the cloister door might have been sufficient to direct your
suspicions."

Tom felt the force of the words, and was wondering how it was he had not
thought of it, when a cry burst from Judith.

"If he is there, he will never come out alive! Oh, sir, what will become
of us?"

The master was surprised. He knew it was not a desirable situation
for any young boy; but "never come out alive" were strong terms. Judy
explained them. She poured into the master's ears the unhappy story of
Charles having been frightened in childhood; of his propensity still to
supernatural fears.

"Make haste round! we must have the cloisters opened immediately!"
exclaimed the master, as all the full truth of the dread imparted by
Judith became clear to him. "Channing, you have light heels; run on, and
knock up Ketch."

Tom tore off; never a lighter pair of heels than his, to-night; and the
master and the old servant followed. The master's sympathies, nay, his
lively fears, were strongly awakened, and he could not leave the affair
in this stage, late though the hour was.

They arrived, to find Tom pummelling at Ketch's door. But to pummel
was one thing, and to arouse Mr. Ketch was another. Mr. Ketch chose to
remain deaf. "I'll try the window," said Tom, "He must hear; his bed is
close at hand."

He knocked sharply; and it at length elicited an answer from the drowsy
gentleman, composed of growls and abuse.

"Get up!" called out Tom. "The keys of the cloisters are wanted."

"Then they may be wanted!" responded old Ketch in a muffled tone, as if
he were speaking from under the bed-clothes. "I'll see you all furder
before you get the keys from me."

"Ketch, produce the keys this instant!" interposed the master. "You know
my voice; Mr. Pye's. How dare you?"

"I'll 'dare' you all, if you don't go away!" raved old Ketch, mistaking,
or pretending to mistake, the disturbers for his enemies, the college
boys. "It's a second edition of the trick you played me this evening, is
it? I'll go to the dean with the first glimmer o' daylight--"

"Ketch, I am the head-master. I have come for the cloister keys. There's
a boy locked in the cloisters!"

"Is there? Praise be given up for that! I wouldn't unlock him for a mint
o' diaments. If you don't be off, I'll call the police."

"Fire! fire!" shouted Judy, in a shrill tone, putting her mouth to the
keyhole; for she despaired of gaining Ketch by any other means. "What an
idiot you are, old Ketch! Do you want to be burnt up alive?"

"Fire!" shouted Tom, in stentorian tones. "Fire! fire!" And
Ketch, whether he was really alarmed, or whether he recognized the
head-master's voice, and thought it imprudent to hold out any longer,
tumbled out of bed, opened the door, and appeared before them in attire
more airy than elegant. Another minute, and impetuous Tom would have
burst the window in.

"Beg pardon," said Ketch, ungraciously, to the master. "Them boys play
me up such tricks, that I'm always thinking of 'em. Where's the fire?"

"I don't think it's anywhere," said the master. "The cloister keys,
Ketch: and make haste. Which of the boys played you that trick
to-night?"

Ketch gave a yell, for the point was a sore one. "I never set eyes on
one of 'em! They're too cunning for me."

"Was my brother Charles one?" asked Tom, while Mr. Pye hastened away
with the cloister keys.

"I tell ye I never see'd one! Can't you believe?" Tom did believe, and
went after the master and Judy.

They entered the cloisters, and shouted for Charles. Nothing answered
them but the echoes. To _see_ whether he was there, was impossible. Judy
thought he might be lying somewhere, insensible from fright, and she ran
up and down feeling into niches, as one demented. Mr. Pye sent Tom back
to old Ketch's for a light, which was not supplied without difficulty.

He was turning away with it, when Hamish came up. Hamish had been with
all speed to Mr. Huntley's, to question Harry, as senior of the school,
whether he knew what the trick of the night had been, and what boys were
in it. Harry, however, who was in bed, assured Hamish of his complete
ignorance. But for Mr. Huntley's veto, he would have got up and gone out
to join in the search, and enjoyed it amazingly.

They carried the candle to every nook and corner of the cloisters, no
result arising from it. Hamish and Tom climbed over and searched the
burial-ground. He was not there. No signs, for their keen eyes, or
for any others, remained of the night's work: the college boys were
cautious. A couple of matches, half-burnt, lay on the ground in the
north quadrangle, but they told nothing. The boys were often lighting
matches, as the master knew.

"I really think you must be mistaken in supposing Charles's absence has
to do with this trick played upon old Ketch--whatever it may have
been," he observed. "It does not appear that the boys have been in
the cloisters. Had any of them been locked in here, here they would be
still."

There was no denying it, and they left the cloisters and closed them.
The keys were conveyed to Ketch, who had to get out of bed again to
receive them, which he did with a great amount of wrath. Mr. Pye thought
it would be proved that Charles must be at the house of one of the boys,
carelessness or accident having detained him. And then he wished them
good night and went home.

Completely at a loss were they. Hamish, ever hopeful, thought Charles
had perhaps returned home: and they bent their steps thither. No, no;
Constance, Arthur, and curious Sarah, were all outside, looking every
way. Constance was too agitated to remain indoors. Arthur had just
returned home. He had been to the houses of some of the college boys,
those with whom Charles was most intimate, but could obtain no tidings
of him.

Constance burst into tears. She grew excessively alarmed, when Judy
mentioned the doubt lest he had been shut in the cloisters. "But that
fear is done away with," said Hamish. "We have searched them thoroughly.
Do not distress yourself, Constance."

"There goes midnight!" exclaimed Judy.

"Ugh!" shivered Sarah. "I feel just as if somebody was walking over my
grave, Judith."

"If they were walking over you, it mightn't be amiss," reprimanded
Judith. "Don't talk such stuff as that, girl, in the young mistress's
ears."

The words died away into silence, and they stood listening to the
strokes of the deep-toned cathedral bell. With the last, twelve, another
day had dawned upon the world. What would it bring forth for them?

"I shall go to the police-station," said Hamish. "Constance, my dear,
you had better not remain outside. Go indoors."

It was well to say "Go indoors," but in the agitation and suspense at
that moment overwhelming Constance, "indoors" was not so easy to bear.
Hamish strode off, Tom following him. Arthur remained with his sister,
waiting and watching still.

And so they waited and watched through the livelong night. Hamish was
at work; the police were at work; Tom was at work: but neither sign nor
trace could be found of Charles Channing.



CHAPTER XLII.


AN OFFICIAL CEREMONY INTERRUPTED.

A grey dusky morning, enveloped in fog, succeeded to the fine night.
Before seven o'clock--so watchful and alert are boys when mischief is
afloat--most of those who had been in the conspiracy were assembled, and
waiting round the schoolroom doors. Generally, they could tear up at
the twelfth moment. They would not have missed the sight of Charles
Channing's arrival for half-a-crown apiece, so curious were they to see
how he looked, after his fright. As it happened, it was not at any of
their homes that inquiries had been made the previous night; not one of
them was, to say, intimate with Charley: they were most of them older
than he. Consequently, they knew nothing of the search. Tod Yorke, who
did know of it, had not yet arrived. Of all the king's scholars, none
were marked late more frequently than Master Tod.

The senior boy had gone to the head-master's for the keys as usual, and
now came down the cloisters, clanking them in his hand.

"Has Charles Channing turned up?" he called out, before he was well
abreast of them.

Pierce senior choked away his inclination to laughter, which the sound
of the name excited, and saucy Bywater answered. "Where should he turn
up from, Huntley? Has he been swallowed?"

"Hamish Channing came to our house last night, ages after I was in bed,
saying they couldn't find him," replied Huntley. "What was in the wind
last night with old Calcraft?"

The boys looked at him demurely; and Huntley, receiving no reply,
unlocked the schoolroom and entered it. They remained behind, winking at
each other, and waiting still for Charles. It wanted yet a few minutes
to seven.

"I say, what d'ye think?" whispered Bywater. "After I had got our sheet
smuggled in, all right, and was putting it on the bed, I found two big
holes burnt in it. Won't there be a commotion when my old aunt finds
it out! She'll vow I have been reading in bed. That was you, Pierce
senior!"

"I'm sure I never burnt it," retorted Pierce. "It was the flame did it,
if anything."

"Here comes Bill Simms!" exclaimed Bywater, when their smothered laugh
was over. "What has he been doing to himself? He's as white as the
ghost!"

Mr. Bill Simms assuredly did look white. He had a pale face at the best
of times, and it was embellished with straw-coloured hair. But at the
present moment it had turned ghastly, and his frame seemed shaking as he
came along.

"What on earth has taken you, Simms?" demanded Hurst.

"Oh, goodness!" uttered Simms. "I wish I was well out of this! They are
saying there's a college boy drowned!"

"What?" cried the boys, gathering round him.

"There was a crowd down by the boat-house as I came along," responded
Simms, as well as he could speak for his chattering teeth. "I asked a
fellow what it was, and he said he didn't rightly know, but he thought
one of the college boys had been found drowned in the water."

Some of the gentlemen-listeners' faces turned as pale as Mr. Bill
Simms's; as pale as each conscience. Bywater was the first to gather
courage.

"It's not obliged to be Charley Channing, if there is any one drowned."

"But it's sure to be him," chattered Simms, his teeth as crazy as his
grammar. "Griffin junior says Arthur Channing went to their house last
night at twelve, and said they couldn't find Charley."

The consternation into which this news plunged the guilty ones is not
easily described. A conviction that it _was_ Charles Channing who was
drowned, overtook them all. Schoolboys are not quite without hearts, and
they would have given all they possessed, in that moment, to see Charles
come flying amongst them, as usual. Some of them began to wish they were
without necks; for if Charles had come to an untimely end through
their work, they might stand a chance of furnishing employment to the
veritable Mr. Calcraft, on their own score. Tod Yorke came leaping up in
delight.

"Oh, wasn't it good! The young one--"

"Hold your noise, Tod! They are saying he's dead."

"Who's dead?" wondered Tod.

"Charley Channing. A college boy was found in the river, drowned."

"Oh, that be hanged!" exclaimed Tod, half in mocking disbelief, half in
awful fear. "It can't be, you know. Who says it?"

"There's seven! We must go in, or Huntley will be on to us. Mind!" added
Pierce senior, for he was the speaker, "we must all keep each other's
counsel, and be in one tale--that we know nothing at all about it."

They slunk into school. But that the senior boy was occupied with his
new duty--the calling over of the roll--he might have observed that
something was wrong. To play up a bit of mischief is the legitimate
privilege of college boys; but to have led to a companion's death is a
terror-striking affair; and their countenances betrayed that it was so.

Before the roll was finished, the head-master was in school. Tom
Channing--it was late for him--entered afterwards. The master beckoned
to him.

"Is Charles found?"

"No, sir. We cannot learn any tidings of him at all. We have not been to
bed, any of us; and the police are searching also."

Had Tom Channing come from the other side of the Boundaries, near the
boat-house, perhaps he might have been able to give a different account.

The master made no comment then. He motioned Tom to his desk, and gave
the word for prayers. As the boys were rising from their knees, Hamish
Channing entered the school, attended by Mr. Ketch.

Hamish approached the master, who shook hands with him. Ketch remained
snarling and grinning defiance at the door, shaking his fist and his
old teeth covertly at the boys. If looks could have blown up a room, the
college school had certainly gone aloft then.

"I hear you have not found the boy?" said the master to Hamish. "It is
very singular."

"We have not found him. Mr. Pye," continued Hamish, gravely, "I come to
demand of your courtesy an immediate investigation into the doings of
the college boys last night. That the disappearance of Charles is in
some measure connected with it, we cannot do otherwise than believe. I
have brought Ketch with me that he may tell his own tale."

Ketch was marshalled forward and ordered to tell his tale, and the
business of the school was suspended. Ketch told it distinctly enough;
but he could not forbear enlarging upon his cruel disappointment over
the tripe and onions, and it sent the school into convulsions. In
the midst of it, Tom Channing breathed freely; Ketch's preferring the
complaint, did away with the unpleasantness he had feared might arise,
through having been forced to disclose it to the master.

"I should be sorry to have displeasure visited upon the boys," resumed
Hamish. "Indeed, I should esteem it a favour, sir, if you will not
punish them for any disclosure that may arise through this step which I
have taken. I dare say," he added, turning his laughing gaze upon them,
"that I should have been one of the ringleaders myself, in my school
days, therefore it would not be fair for me to bring punishment upon
them. I only wish to know which of the school were in it, that I may
make inquiries of them whether Charles was one of them or not; and, if
he was, what they know of his movements afterwards."

The address was fair and candid; so was Hamish's face; and some of the
conspirators, in their good feeling, might have freely confessed, but
for the something just whispered to them by Simms. That closed their
lips.

"Do you hear?" said the master, speaking sharply, for he had rather,
ten times over, that the school frankly avowed mischief, when brought to
book: he was never half so severe if they were so. "Why are you silent?"

Bill Simms, who had the bump of conscientiousness largely developed,
with a wholesome dread of consequences, besides being grievously timid,
felt that he could not hold out long. "Oh, murder!" he groaned to Mark
Galloway, next to whom he sat: "let's tell, and have done with it."

Mark turned cold with fear. "You're a pretty fellow!" he uttered, giving
him a tremendous kick on the shins. "Would you like us all to be tried
for our lives?" A suggestion which made matters worse; and Bill Simms's
hair began to stand on end.

"Huntley, have you any cognizance of this?" demanded Mr. Pye.

"None, sir." And so said the three seniors under him.

"Boys!" said the master, bringing his cane down upon the desk in a
manner he was accustomed to do when provoked: "I _will_ come to the
bottom of this business. That several of you were in it, I feel sure. Is
there not _one_ of you sufficiently honest to speak, when required so to
do?"

Certain of the boys drooped their conscious faces and their eyelids. As
to Bill Simms, he felt ready to faint.

"What have you done with Charles Channing?" thundered the master. "Where
have you put him? Where is he gone? I command you to speak! Let the
senior of those who were in it speak! or the consequences be upon your
own heads."

The threat sounded ominous in the ears of Bill Simms: he saw himself, in
prospective, exposed to all the horrors of a dungeon, and to something
worse. With a curious noise, something between a bark and a groan, he
flung himself with his face on the floor, and lay there howling.

"Mr. Simms," said the master, "what has taken you? Were you the chief
actor in this matter?"

All considerations had disappeared from Mr. Simms's mind except the
moment's terror. He forgot what would be his own position in the school,
if he told, or--as they would have expressed it--turned sneak. Impelled
by fear, he was hardly conscious of his words; hardly responsible for
them.

"It wasn't me," he howled. "They all know I didn't want the trick played
upon him. I told them that it had killed a boy down by our farm, and it
might kill Channing. They know I told them."

The master paused. "Walk here, Simms."

Simms picked himself up from the ground and walked there. A miserable
object he looked; his eyes red, his teeth chattering, his face white,
and his straw-coloured hair standing on end.

The master leaned his arms upon his desk, and brought his face almost
into contact with the frightened one. "What trick did you play upon
Charles Channing?"

"'Twasn't me, sir," sobbed Simms. "I didn't want it done, I say,
O-o-o-o-o-o-h! I didn't!"

"What trick was played upon him?"

"It was a ghost dressed up to frighten him, and he passed through the
cloisters and saw it. It wasn't me! I'll never speak another word, if it
was me!"

"A ghost!" repeated the master in astonishment, while Ketch stretched
his old neck forward, and the most intense interest was displayed by the
school.

"They did it with a sheet and a blue flame," went on Simms; who, now
that the ice was broken, tried to make a clean breast of it, and grew
more alarmed every moment. "It wasn't me! I didn't want it done, and
I never lent a hand to the dressing up. If little Channing is dead, it
won't be fair to hang me."

"Who was in the plot?" was the next question of the master. And Simms
enumerated them. The master, stern and grim, beckoned to the several
gentlemen to walk up, and to range themselves before him. "The lad has
run some distance in his terror," observed the master aside to Hamish,
as he remembered what Judith had told him the previous night. "You will
see him home in the course of the day."

"I trust we may!" replied Hamish, with marked emphasis.

Bit by bit, word by word, the master drew the whole truth from the
downcast lads. Pierce senior looked dogged and obstinate: he was
inwardly vowing unheard-of revenge against Mr. Simms. Probably most of
them were doing the same.

"I knowed it was them! I knowed it couldn't be nobody but them!" broke
forth old Ketch, summarily interrupting the proceedings. "You sees now,
sir, what incorrigible--"

"Silence!" said the master, raising his hand. "I can deal with this
without your assistance, Ketch. Hurst, who concocted this infamous
plot?"

Hurst--who was the senior of the conspirators, with regard to his
position in the school, though not so old as Pierce senior--could not
answer it definitively. It was concocted between them, he said; not by
one more than by another.

"Did you not know that a trick, such as this, has deprived _men_
of reason?" continued the master. "And you play it upon a young and
defenceless boy! I am at a loss how to express my sense of your conduct.
If any ill shall have happened to him through it, you will carry it on
your consciences for ever."

Remembering what they had just heard, the boys' consciences had begun to
suffer already.

"Who personated the ghost?" continued the master.

"Pierce senior." The answer came from Simms. The others would not have
given it.

"I might have guessed that," was the remark of the master, who had no
great love for the gentleman named. "I might have known that if there
was a boy in the college school who would delight to put himself forward
to trample on one younger and more sensitive than himself, it would be
Pierce senior. I'll give you something to remember this work by, Mr.
Pierce. Yorke!"

Gerald Yorke knew what he was called for. He was the tallest and
strongest of all. The school knew also; and a murmur of excitement went
round. Pierce senior was going to be hoisted.

Only in very flagrant cases was the extreme punishment of flogging
resorted to by the present master. It had been more common with his
predecessor. Of course its rarity made it all the more impressive when
it did come.

"Make ready," said the master to Pierce senior, unlocking his desk, and
taking out a birch as big as a besom.

Pierce turned green and white, without help from any blue flame, and
slowly began to obey. There might be no resistance. The school hushed
itself into suspense, and Mr. Ketch's legs were on the point of taking
a dance of ecstasy. A minute or two, and the group formed the centre of
the upper part of the room. Yorke supported the great boy whose back was
bared, while the daunted faces and eager eyes were strained eagerly from
around. The head-master took his place, and his birch was raised in the
air to come down with a heavy stroke, when a commotion was heard at one
of the desks, and Stephen Bywater rushed forward.

"Stop, sir!" he said to the master. "If you will let Pierce go, I will
take the punishment."

The master's arm with its weapon dropped by his side, and he turned his
astonished gaze upon Bywater.

"I had more to do with planning the trick than Pierce had, sir, so
it's only just that I should be the scapegoat. We fixed upon Pierce to
personate the ghost because he was tall and lanky. And a flogging is not
much to my skin," added honest, impudent Bywater.

"So _you_ were the planner of it, were you, Mr. Bywater?" demanded the
angry master.

"In a great measure I was, sir. If I do go in for mischief, it shall not
be said that I let others suffer for it. Little Channing had offended
me, and I wished to serve him out. But I never thought to do him harm."

In the perplexity of deciding what he ought to do, when official
proceedings were interrupted in this unprecedented way, the master
hesitated. What he would have done is uncertain--flogged Pierce first
and Bywater afterwards, perhaps--but at that moment there occurred
another interruption, and a more serious one.

Diggs, the man who lived at the boat-house, had entered the school, and
was asking to speak to the head-master. Catching sight of the signs of
the ceremony about to be performed, he waited for no permission, but
went forward at once, a college cap in his hand, and his voice trembling
with excitement. Its excitement was not lessened when he recognized
Hamish Channing.

"I am the bearer of bad news, gentlemen," he said, addressing them
both. "I fear one of the young college lads was drowned last night by my
boat-house. We have picked up his cap this morning. It was poor little
Master Channing."

Hamish controlled his emotion better than did the Rev. Mr. Pye.
The latter turned his eyes on the horrified school, himself equally
horrified, and then signified to Pierce senior to dress himself--to
Bywater to retire to his place. "The affair has become serious," he
observed, "and must be dealt with differently. Poor child! Poor little
Channing!"

And the boys, in their emotion, broke into an echoing wail. "Poor little
Channing! poor little Channing!"



CHAPTER XLIII.


DRAGGING THE RIVER.

The echoes of lamentation were dying away in the high roof of the
college school. Hamish Channing, pale, but calm and self-controlled,
stood perfectly ready to investigate the account brought by the
boat-house keeper of the drowning of Charles. The feelings of those
who had had a hand in the work may be imagined, perhaps, but certainly
cannot be described. Bill Simms choked and sobbed, and pulled his lanky
straw-coloured hair, and kicked his legs about, and was altogether
beside himself. The under-masters looked on with stern countenances and
lowering brows; while old Ketch never had had such a disappointment in
all his life (the one grand disappointment of last night excepted) as he
was feeling now, at the deferred flogging.

Diggs, the boat-house keeper, was a widower, with one child, a girl of
ten years old. His mother lived with him--an aged woman, confined to
her bed, of late, with rheumatic fever, from which she was slowly
recovering. On the previous night Diggs was out, and the girl had been
sent on an errand, Mrs. Diggs being left in the house alone. She was
lying quietly, still as was the air outside, when sudden sounds broke
that stillness, and smote upon her ear. Footsteps--young steps, they
seemed--were heard to come tearing down on the outside gravel, from
the direction of the cathedral, and descend the steps. Then there was a
startling cry and a plunge into the river.

The old woman echoed the cry; but there were none to hear it, and she
was powerless to aid. That a human soul was struggling in the water was
certain; and she called and called, but called in vain. She was shut up
in the house, unable to move; and there were none outside to hear her.
In her grief and distress she at length pulled the bed-clothes over her
ears, that she might hear no more (if more was to be heard) of the death
agony.

Twenty minutes or so, and then the girl came in. The old woman brought
her head from under the clothes, and stated what had occurred, and the
girl went and looked at the river. But it was flowing along peacefully,
showing no signs that anything of the sort had happened. Not a creature
was on the path on either side, so far as her eyes could see in the
moonlight; and she came to the conclusion that her grandmother must have
been mistaken. "She has odd fancies," said the child to herself, "and
thinks she hears things that nobody else never hears."

At ten o'clock Diggs came home. Now, this man had a propensity for
yielding to an infirmity to which many others also yield--that of
drinking too freely. It is true that this did not often occur; but
when it did happen, it was usually at a time when his services were
especially required. It is very much the case in this world: we often do
things, whether good ones or bad ones, just at the wrong moment. Diggs
arrived at home, stupid. His old mother called him to her room, and told
him what she had heard; but she could make little impression upon him.
As his young daughter had done, he took a survey of the river, but only
from the windows of his house--the girl had gone on to the bank--and
then he tumbled into bed, and slept heavily until the morning.

Up betimes, he remembered what had been told to him, and went out of
doors, half expecting possibly to see something floating on the surface.
"I was detained out last night on an errand," explained he to some three
or four stragglers who had gathered round him, "and when I got in, my
old mother told me a cock-and-bull story of a cry and a splash, as if
somebody had fallen into the river. It don't look much like it, though."

"A dead dog, maybe," suggested one of the idlers. "They're always
throwing rubbish into this river on the sly."

"Who is?" sharply asked Diggs. "They had better let me catch 'em at it!"

"Lots of folks," was the response. "But if it was a dead dog, it
couldn't well have cried out."

Diggs went indoors to his mother's chamber. "What time was it, this tale
of yours?" asked he.

"It was about half-past seven," she answered. "The half-hour chimed out
from the college, just before or just after, I forget which." And then
she related again what she knew he could not clearly comprehend over
night: the fact of the fleet-sounding footsteps, and that they appeared
to be young footsteps. "If I didn't know the cloisters were shut at that
hour, I should have thought they come direct from the west door--"

The words were interrupted by a call from below; and the man hastened
down, A boy's cap--known, from its form, to belong to one of the
collegiate scholars--had just been found under the lower bank, lodged in
the mud. Then some one had been drowned! and it was a college boy.

Where does a crowd collect from? I don't believe any one can tell. Not
three minutes after that trencher was picked up, people were gathering
thick and threefold, retired though the spot was; and it was at this
time that Mr. Bill Simms had passed, and heard the tale which turned his
heart sick and his face white.

Some time given to supposition, to comments, and to other gossip,
indigenous to an event of the sort, and then Mr. Diggs started for the
college school with the cap. Another messenger ran to the Channings'
house, the name in the cap proving to whom it had belonged. Diggs
related the substance of this to the master, suppressing certain little
points bearing upon himself.

Mr. Pye took the cap in his hand, and looked inside. The name, "C.
Channing," was in Mrs. Channing's writing; and, in the sprawling hand of
one of the schoolboys--it looked like Bywater's--"Miss" had been added.
Charley had scratched the addition over with strokes from a pen, but the
word might still be read.

"The river must be dragged, Diggs," said Hamish Channing.

"The drags are being got ready now, sir. They'll be in, by the time I
get back."

Hamish strode to the door. Tom came up from his desk, showing some
agitation, and looked at the master. "You will allow me to go, sir? I
can do no good at my lessons in this suspense."

"Yes," replied the master. He was going himself.

The school rose with one accord. The under-masters rose. To think
of study, in this excitement, was futile; and, in defiance of all
precedent, the boys were allowed to leave the room, and troop down to
the river. It was a race which should get there first; masters and
boys ran together. The only one who walked pretty soberly was the
head-master, who had to uphold his dignity.

The drags were already in the river, and the banks were lined; police,
friends, spectators, gentlemen, mob, and college boys, jostled each
other. Arthur Channing, pale and agitated, came running from his home.
The old vergers and bedesmen came; some of the clergy came; Judy came;
and the dean came. Hamish, outwardly self-possessed, and giving his
orders with quiet authority, was inwardly troubled as he had never been.
The boy had been left to his charge, and how should he answer for this
to his father and mother?

He went in and saw the old woman; as did the renowned Mr. Butterby,
who had appeared with the rest. She related to them she had heard the
previous night. "I could have told, without having heard it now, that it
was the steps of a college boy," she said. "I don't listen so often to
'em that I need mistake. He seemed to be coming from the west door o'
the cloisters--only that the cloisters are shut at night; so he may
have come round by the front o' the college. Desperate quick he ran, and
leapt down the steps; and, a minute after, there was a cry and a splash,
and the footsteps were heard no more. One might fancy that in turning
the corner to run along the towing-path he had turned too quick, and so
fell over the bank."

"Did you hear no noise afterwards?" questioned Hamish.

"I didn't. I called out, but nobody came nigh to answer it: and then I
hid my ears. I was afraid, ye see."

They left the old woman's bedside, and returned to the crowd on the
bank. The dean quietly questioned Hamish about the facts, and shook his
head when put in possession of them. "I fear there is little hope," he
said.

"Very little. My father and mother's absence makes it the more
distressing. I know not, Mr. Dean, how--"

Who was this, pushing vehemently up, to the discomfiture of every one,
elbowing the dean with as little ceremony as he might have elbowed
Ketch, thrusting Hamish aside, and looking down on the river with
flashing eyes? Who should it be, but Roland Yorke? For that was his
usual way of pushing through a crowd; as you have heard before.

"Is it true?" he gasped. "Is Charles Channing in the water!--sent there
through the tricks of the college boys--of Tod?"

"There is little doubt of its truth, Roland," was the answer of Hamish.

Roland said no more. Off went his coat, off went his waistcoat, off went
other garments, leaving him nothing but his drawers and his shirt;
and in he leaped impetuously, before any one could stop him, and dived
below, searching after Charles, paying no heed to the shouts that the
drags would get hold of him.



But neither drags nor Roland could find Charles. The drags were
continued, but without result. Very few had expected that there would be
any result, the probability being that the current had carried the
body down the stream. Hamish had been home to soothe the grief of his
sisters--or rather to attempt to soothe it-and then he came back again.

Roland, his ardour cooled, had likewise been home to exchange his wet
things for dry ones. This done, he was flying out again, when he came
upon the Reverend William Yorke, who was hastening down to the scene, in
some agitation.

"Is the boy found, Roland, do you know? How did it happen? Did he fall
in?"

"Considering the light in which you regard the family, William Yorke,
I wonder you should waste your breath to ask about it," was Roland's
touchy answer, delivered with as much scorn as he could call up.

Mr. Yorke said no more, but quickened his pace towards the river. Roland
kept up with him and continued talking.

"It's a good thing all the world's not of your opinion, William Yorke!
You thought to put a slight upon Constance Channing, when you told her
she might go along, for you. It has turned out just the best luck that
could have happened to her."

"Be silent, sir," said Mr. Yorke, his pale cheek flushing. "I have
already told you that I will not permit you to mention Miss Channing's
name to me. You have nothing to do with her or with me."

"_You_ have nothing to do with her, at any rate," cried aggravating
Roland. "She'll soon belong to your betters, William Yorke."

Mr. Yorke turned his flashing eye upon him, plainly asking the
explanation that he would not condescend to ask in words. It gave Roland
an advantage, and he went on swimmingly with his mischief.

"Lord Carrick has seen the merits of Constance, if you have not; and--I
don't mind telling it you in confidence--has resolved to make her his
wife. He says she's the prettiest girl he has seen for ages."

"It is not true," said Mr. Yorke, haughtily.

"Not true!" returned Roland. "You'll see whether it's true or not, when
she's Countess of Carrick. Lady Augusta was present when he made her the
offer. He was half afraid to make it for some time, he told us, as he
was getting on in years, and had grey hair. Halloa! you are turning
pale, William Yorke. She can't be anything to you! You threw her away,
you know."

William Yorke, vouchsafing no reply, broke away from his tormentor. He
probably did look pale; certainly he felt so. Roland indulged in a quiet
laugh. He had been waiting for this opportunity, ever since he became
cognizant of what had taken place between the earl and Constance. The
earl had made no secret of his intention and its defeat. "I'll have some
fun over it with Mr. William," had been Roland's thought.

A sudden noise! Cries and shouts on the banks of the river, and the
dense crowd swayed about with excitement. Mr. Yorke and Roland set off
at a run, each from his own point, and the cries took a distinct sound
as they neared them.

"They have found the body!"

It was being laid upon the bank. Those who could get near tried
to obtain a glimpse of it. The college boys, with white faces and
terror-stricken consciences, fought for a place; Roland Yorke fought for
it; the head-master fought for it: I am not sure that the bishop--who
had seen the commotion from his palace windows, and came up to know what
it meant--did not fight for it.

A false alarm, so far as the present object was concerned. A little lad,
who had been drowned more than a week before, had turned up now. He had
incautiously climbed the parapet of the bridge, whence he fell into the
water, and their search for him had hitherto been fruitless. He was
not a pleasant sight to look upon, as he lay there; but the relief to
certain of the college boys, when they found it was not Charles, was
immeasurable. Bywater's spirits went up to some of their old impudence.
"In looking for one thing you find another," quoth he.

Very true, Mr. Bywater! Sometimes we find more than we bargain for. The
drags were thrown in again, and the excited crowd jostled each other as
before, their faces hanging over the brink. Hush! Hark! Another prize!
What is it, coming up now?

A rare prize, this time! The drags pulled and tugged, and the men
cried, "Heave-ho!" and a hundred and one voices echoed it: "Heave-ho!
heave-ho!" Hush! Hush--sh--sh! A breathless moment of suspense, and up
it comes. Amidst straw and tangled weeds and mud, and the odds and ends
that a river will collect, something hard and clanking was thrown upon
the bank, and wondering eyes and faces peered over it.

Nothing but two keys. A pair of large rusty keys, tied together with
string. Bywater, and Hurst, and young Galloway, and one or two more,
cast significant glances together, and were nearly choking with fright
and suppressed laughter. One, standing there, conspicuous for his dress,
which amongst other items comprised an apron, turned a significant
glance on _them_. Bold Bywater met it, and looked a little less bold
than usual. But the prelate had kept counsel, and meant to keep it; and
he looked away again.

Once more were the drags thrown into the water. Once more the mob,
gentle and simple, crowded its brink. When the college bell tolled out
for morning prayers, those, whose duty it was to attend the cathedral,
drew themselves away unwillingly. Arthur Channing was one of them.
Whatever might be his grief and suspense, engagements must be fulfilled.

Later in the day, when the search was over--for it was thought useless
to continue it--and when hope was over, a council was held at Mr.
Channing's house. Mr. and Mrs. Channing must be acquainted with this sad
business; but how was it to be done? By letter? by telegraph? or by a
special messenger? Constance had suggested writing, and silently hoped
that Hamish would take the task upon himself, for she felt unequal to
it, in her dire distress. Mr. Galloway, who had been in and out all
the morning, suggested the telegraph. Hamish approved of neither, but
proposed to despatch Arthur, to make the communication in person.

"I cannot leave Helstonleigh myself," he said; "therefore it must
devolve upon Arthur. Of course his journey will be an expense; but there
are times when expense must not be regarded. I consider this one of
them."

"A letter would go more quickly," said Mr. Galloway.

"Scarcely, in these days of travelling," was Hamish's reply. "But that
is not the question. A letter, let it be ever so explanatory, will
only leave them in suspense. As soon as they have read it, five hundred
questions will suggest themselves that they will wish to ask; and,
to wait to have them satisfied, will be intolerable, especially to my
mother. Arthur's going will obviate this. He knows as much as we know,
and can impart his knowledge to them."

"There is a great deal in what you say," mused Mr. Galloway.

"I am sure there is," spoke Constance through her tears, "though it did
not strike me before. In mamma's anxiety and suspense, she might start
for home, to learn further details."

"And I think it is what she would do," said Hamish: "if not my father
also. It will be better that Arthur should go. He can tell them all they
would learn if they returned; and so far as it is possible, that would
be satisfactory."

They were interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Huntley and his daughter.
Ellen had begged her father, when she found he was going to the
Channings', to allow her to accompany him, and see Constance in her
distress. Mr. Huntley readily acquiesced. The drowning of poor Charley
was a serious affliction, in contemplation of which he forgot the
inexpediency of her meeting Hamish.

Hamish did not appear to perceive any inexpediency in the matter. He was
the first to take Ellen's hand in his, and bend upon her his sweet smile
of welcome. Knowing what Ellen knew of Mr. Huntley's sentiments, and
that he was looking on, it rendered her manner confused and her cheeks
crimson. She was glad to turn to Constance, and strive to say a few
words of sympathy. "Had Harry been one of those wicked, thoughtless
boys to join in this ghost trick, I could never have forgiven him!" she
impulsively exclaimed, hot tears running down her cheeks.

The subject under consideration was referred to Mr. Huntley, and his
opinion requested: more as a form of courtesy than anything else, for
Hamish had made up his mind upon the point. A thoroughly affectionate
and dutiful son was Hamish Channing; and he believed that the tidings
could be rendered more bearable to his father and mother by a messenger,
than by any other mode of communication. The excuse that Constance and
Arthur had, throughout, found for Hamish in their hearts was, that
he had taken the bank-note out of latent affection to Mr. and Mrs.
Channing.

"You are wrong, every one of you," said Mr. Huntley, when he had
listened to what they had to say. "You must send neither letter nor
messenger. It will not do."

Hamish looked at him. "Then what can we send, sir?

"Don't send at all."

"Not send at all!" repeated Hamish.

"Certainly not," said Mr. Huntley. "You have no positive proof as yet
that the child is dead. It will be alarming them unnecessarily."

"Mr. Huntley!" said Constance. "Is it possible that you see any ground
for hope?"

"Honestly, my dear, I do not see much ground for hope," he replied.
"But, on the other hand, there are no positive grounds for despair. So
long as these grounds are not furnished, I say keep it from Mr. and
Mrs. Channing. Answer me one thing: What good end would it serve to tell
them?"

"Is it not a duty?"

"I do not see it," said Mr. Huntley. "Were the poor boy's fate known,
beyond uncertainty, it would be a different matter. If you send to them,
what would come of it? The very suspense, the doubt, would have a bad
effect upon Mr. Channing. It might bring him home; and the good already
effected might be destroyed--his time, purse, hopes, all that he has
given to the journey, wasted. On the other hand, allowing that he still
remained, the news might delay his cure. No: my strong advice to you
is: Suffer them for the present to remain in ignorance of what has
happened."

Hamish began to think Mr. Huntley might be right.

"I know I am right," said Mr. Huntley. "If putting them in possession
of the facts could produce any benefit to themselves, to you, or to
Charles, I would go off myself with Arthur this hour. But it could
effect nothing; and, to them, it might result in great evil. Until we
know something more certain ourselves, let us keep it from them."

"Yes, I see it," said Hamish, warmly. "It will be best so."

Constance felt her arm touched, and coloured with emotion when she found
it was Mr. William Yorke. In this day of distress, people seemed to come
in and go out without ceremony. Mr. Yorke had entered with Tom Channing.
He completely accepted the new view of the matter, and strongly
advised that it should not be allowed to reach the ears of Mr. and Mrs.
Channing.

Mr. Galloway, when he was departing, beckoned Constance into the hall.
It was only to give her a word of friendly sympathy, of advice--not to
be overwhelmed, but to cling to hope. She thanked him, but it was with
an aching heart, for Constance could not feel this hope.

"Will you grant me the favour of a minute's private interview?" asked
Mr. Yorke stiffly, meeting her in the hall.

Constance hesitated a moment. He was asking what she felt he had no
right to ask. She coloured, bowed, and stepped towards the drawing-room.
Mr. Yorke threw open the door for her, and followed her in.

Then he became agitated. Whatever his pride or his temper may have been,
whether the parting between them was his fault or Constance's, it was
certain that he loved her with an enduring love. Until that morning he
had never contemplated losing Constance; he had surely looked forward to
some indefinite future when she should be his; and the words spoken by
Roland had almost driven him mad. Which was precisely what Mr. Roland
hoped they would do.

"I would not speak to you to-day, when you are in distress, when you may
deem it an unfitting time for me to speak," he began, "but I _cannot_
live in this suspense. Let me confess that what brought me here was
to obtain this interview with you, quite as much as this other unhappy
business. You will forgive me?"

"Mr. Yorke, I do not know what you can have to speak about," she
answered, with dignity. "My distress is great, but I can hear what you
wish to say."

"I heard--I heard"--he spoke with emotion, and went plunging abruptly
into his subject--"I heard this morning that Lord Carrick was soliciting
you to become his wife."

Constance could have laughed, but for her own distress, agitated though
he was. "Well, sir?" she coldly said, in a little spirit of mischief.

"Constance, you cannot do it," he passionately retorted. "You cannot so
perjure yourself!"

"Mr. Yorke! Have you the right to tell me I shall or shall not marry
Lord Carrick?"

"You can't do it, Constance!" he repeated, laying his hand upon her
shoulder, and speaking hoarsely. "You know that your whole affection
was given to me! It is mine still; I feel that it is. You have not
transferred it to another in this short time. You do not love and forget
so lightly."

"Is this all you have to say to me?"

"No, it is not all," he answered, with emotion. "I want you to be
_my_ wife, Constance, not his. I want you to forget this miserable
estrangement that has come between us, and come home to me at Hazledon."

"Listen, Mr. Yorke," she said; but it was with the utmost difficulty she
retained her indifferent manner, and kept back her tears: she would have
liked to be taken then to his sheltering arms, never to have left them.
"The cause which led to our parting, was the suspicion that fell upon
Arthur, coupled with something that you were not pleased with in my own
manner relating to it. That suspicion is upon him still; and my course
of conduct would be precisely the same, were it to come over again. I am
sorry you should have reaped up this matter, for it can only end as it
did before."

"Will you not marry me?" he resumed.

"No. So long as circumstances look darkly on my brother."

"Constance! that may be for ever!"

"Yes," she sadly answered, knowing what she did know; "they may never
be brighter than they are now. Were I tempted to become your wife, you
might reproach me afterwards for allying you to disgrace; and that, I
think, would kill me. I _beg_ you not to speak of this again."

"And you refuse me for Lord Carrick! You will go and marry him!"
exclaimed Mr. Yorke, struggling between reproach, affection, and temper.

"You must allow me to repeat that you have no right to question me," she
said, moving to the door. "When our engagement was forfeited, that right
was forfeited with it."

She opened the door to leave the room. Mr. Yorke might have wished
further to detain her, but Judy came bustling up. "Lady Augusta's here,
Miss Constance."

Lady Augusta Yorke met Constance in the hall, and seized both her hands.
"I had a bad headache, and lay in bed, and never heard of it until an
hour ago!" she uttered with the same impulsive kindness that sometimes
actuated Roland. "Is it true that he is drowned? Is it true that Tod was
in it?--Gerald says he was. William, are _you_ here?"

Constance took Lady Augusta into the general sitting-room, into the
presence of the other guests. Lady Augusta asked a hundred questions, at
the least; and they acquainted her with the different points, so far as
they were cognizant of them. She declared that Tod should be kept upon
bread and water for a week, and she would go to the school and request
Mr. Pye to flog him. She overwhelmed Constance with kindness, wishing
she and Annabel would come to her house and remain there for a few days.
Constance thanked her, and found some difficulty in being allowed to
refuse.

"Here is his exercise-book," observed Constance, tears filling her eyes;
"here is the very place in which he laid his pen. Every other moment I
think it cannot be true that he is gone--that it must be all a dream."

Lady Augusta took up the pen and kissed it: it was her impulsive way of
showing sympathy. Mr. Huntley smiled. "Where's William gone to?" asked
Lady Augusta.

The Reverend William Yorke had quitted the house, shaking the dust
from his shoes in anger, as he crossed the threshold. Anger as much at
himself, for having ever given her up, as at Constance Channing; and
still most at the Right Honourable the Earl of Carrick.



CHAPTER XLIV.


MR. JENKINS IN A DILEMMA.

I don't know what you will say to me for introducing you into the
privacy of Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins's bed-chamber, but it is really
necessary to do so. We cannot very well get on without it.

A conjugal dispute had occurred that morning when Mrs. Jenkins got up.
She was an early riser; as was Jenkins also, in a general way; but since
his illness, he had barely contrived to come down in time for breakfast.
On this morning--which was not the one following the application
of mustard to his chest, but one about a week after that medicinal
operation--Mrs. Jenkins, on preparing to descend, peremptorily ordered
him to remain in bed. Nothing need be recorded of the past week, except
two facts: Charles Channing had not been discovered, either in life or
in death; and the Earl of Carrick had terminated his visit, and left
Helstonleigh.

"I'll bring up your breakfast," said Mrs. Jenkins.

"It is of no use to say that," Jenkins ventured meekly to remonstrate.
"You know I must get up."

"I say you shall not get up. Here you are, growing weaker and worse
every day, and yet you won't take care of yourself! Where's the use of
your taking a bottle a-day of cough-mixture--where's the use of your
making the market scarce of cod-liver oil--where's the use of wasting
mustard, if it's all to do you no good? _Does_ it do you any good?"

"I am afraid it has not, as yet," confessed Jenkins.

"And never will, so long as you give your body and brains no rest. Out
you go by nine o'clock, in all weathers, ill or well, and there you
are at your business till evening; stooping yourself double over the
writing, dancing abroad on errands, wearing out your lungs with answers
to callers! There's no sense in it."

"But, my dear, the office must be attended to," said Jenkins, with much
deference.

"There's no 'must' in the case, as far as you are concerned. If I
say you shan't go to it, why, you shan't. What's the office, pray, in
comparison with a man's life?"

"But I am not so ill as to remain away. I can still go and do my work."

"You'd be for going, if you were in your coffin!" was Mrs. Jenkins's
wrathful answer. "Could you do any good then, pray?"

"But I am not in my coffin," mildly suggested Jenkins.

"Don't I say you'd go, if you were?" reiterated Mrs. Jenkins, who
sometimes, in her heat, lost sight of the precise point under dispute.
"You know you would! you know there's nothing in the whole world that
you think of, but that office! Office--office--office, it is with you
from morning till night. When you _are_ in your coffin, through it,
you'll be satisfied."

"But it is my duty to go as long as I can, my dear."

"It's my duty to do a great many things that I don't do!" was the
answer; "and one of my duties which I haven't done yet, is to keep you
indoors for a bit, and nurse you up. I shall begin from to-day, and see
if I can't get you well, that way."

"But--"

"Hold your tongue, Jenkins. I never say a thing but you are sure to put
in a 'but.' You lie in bed this morning,--do you hear?--and I'll bring
up your breakfast."

Mrs. Jenkins left the room with the last order, and that ended the
discussion. Had Jenkins been a free agent--free from work--he had been
only too glad to obey her. In his present state of health, the duties
of the office had become almost too much for him; it was with difficulty
that he went to it and performed them. Even the walk, short as it was,
in the early morning, was almost beyond his strength; even the early
rising was beginning to tell upon him. And though he had little hope
that nursing himself up indoors would prove of essential service, he
felt that the _rest_ it brought would be to him an inestimable boon.

But Jenkins was one who thought of duty before he thought of himself;
and, therefore, to remain away from the office, if he _could_ drag
himself to it, appeared to him little less than a sin. He was paid for
his time and services--fairly paid--liberally paid, some might have
said--and they belonged to his master. But it was not so much from
this point of view that Jenkins regarded the necessity of
going--conscientious though he was--as at the thought of what the office
would do without him; for there was no one to replace him but Roland
Yorke. Jenkins knew what he was; and so do we.

To lie in bed, or remain indoors, under these circumstances, Jenkins
felt to be impossible; and when his watch gave him warning that the
breakfast hour was approaching, up he got. Behold him sitting on the
side of the bed, trying to dress himself--_trying_ to do it. Never had
Jenkins felt weaker, or less able to battle with his increasing illness,
than on this morning; and when Mrs. Jenkins dashed in--for her quick
ears had caught the sounds of his stirring--he sat there still,
stockings in hand, unable to help himself.

"So you were going to trick me, were you! Are you not ashamed of
yourself, Jenkins?"

Jenkins gasped twice before he could reply. A giddiness seemed to be
stealing over him, as it had done that other evening, under the elm
trees. "My dear, it is of no use your talking; I must go to the office,"
he panted.

"You shan't go--if I lock you up! There!"

Jenkins was spared the trouble of a reply. The giddiness had increased
to faintness, his sight left him, and he fell back on to the bed in
a state of unconsciousness. Mrs. Jenkins rather looked upon it as a
triumph. She put him into bed, and tucked him up.

"This comes of your attempting to disobey me!" said she, when he had
come round again. "I wonder what would become of you poor, soft mortals
of men, if you were let have your own way! There's no office for you to
day, Jenkins."

Very peremptorily spoke she. But, lest he should attempt the same again,
she determined to put it out of his power. Opening a closet, she thrust
every article of his clothing into it, not leaving him so much as a
waistcoat, turned the key, and put it into her pocket. Poor Jenkins
watched her with despairing eyes, not venturing to remonstrate.

"There," said she, speaking amiably in her glow of satisfaction: "you
can go to the office now--if you like. I'll not stop you; but you'll
have to march through the streets leaving your clothes in that closet."

Under these difficulties Jenkins did not quite see his way to get there.
Mrs. Jenkins went instead, catching Mr. Roland Yorke just upon his
arrival.

"What's up, that Jenkins is not here?" began Roland, before she could
speak.

"Jenkins is not in a fit state to get out of his bed, and I have come to
tell Mr. Galloway so," replied she.

Roland Yorke's face grew to twice its usual length at the news. "I
say, though, that will never do, Mrs. Jenkins. What's to become of this
office?"

"The office must do the best it can without him. _He's_ not coming to
it."

"_I_ can't manage it," said Roland, in consternation. "I should go dead,
if I had to do Jenkins's work, and my own as well."

"He'll go dead, unless he takes some rest in time, and gets a little
good nursing. I should like to know how I am to nurse him, if he is down
here all day?"

"That's not the question," returned Roland, feeling excessively blank.
"The question is, how the office, and I, and Galloway are to get on
without him? Couldn't he come in a sedan?"

"Yes, he can; if he likes to come without his clothes," retorted Mrs.
Jenkins. "I have taken care to lock _them_ up."

"Locked his clothes up!" repeated Roland, in wonder. "What's that for?"

"Because, as long as he has a bit of life in him, he'll use it to drag
himself down here," answered Mrs. Jenkins, tartly. "That's why. He
was getting up to come this morning, defying me and every word I said
against it, when he fell down on the bed in a fainting fit. I thought it
time to lock his things up then."

"Upon my word, I don't know what's to be done," resumed Roland, growing
quite hot with dismay and perplexity, at the prospect of some extra work
for himself. "Look here!" exhibiting the parchments on Jenkins's desk,
all so neatly left--"here's an array! Jenkins did not intend to stay
away, when he left those last night, I know."

"_He_ intend to stay away! catch him thinking of it," retorted Mrs.
Jenkins. "It is as I have just told him--that he'd come in his coffin.
And it's my firm belief that if he knew a week's holiday would save him
from his coffin, he'd not take it, unless I was at his back to make him.
It's well he has somebody to look after him that's not quite deficient
of common sense!"

"Well, this is a plague!" grumbled Roland.

"So it is--for me, I know, if for nobody else," was Mrs. Jenkins's
reply. "But there's some plagues in the world that we must put up with,
and make the best of, whether we like 'em or not; and this is one of
them. You'll tell Mr. Galloway, please; it will save me waiting."

However, as Mrs. Jenkins was departing, she encountered Mr. Galloway,
and told him herself. He was both vexed and grieved to hear it; grieved
on Jenkins's score, vexed on his own. That Jenkins was growing very ill,
he believed from his own observation, and it could not have happened at
a more untoward time. Involuntarily, Mr. Galloway's thoughts turned to
Arthur Channing, and he wished he had him in the office still.

"You must turn over a new leaf from this very hour, Roland Yorke,"
he observed to that gentleman, when he entered. "We must both of us
buckle-to, if we are to get through the work."

"It's not possible, sir, that I can do Jenkins's share and mine," said
Roland.

"If you only do Jenkins's, I'll do yours," replied Mr. Galloway,
significantly. "Understand me, Roland: I shall expect you to show
yourself equal to this emergency. Put aside frivolity and idleness, and
apply yourself in earnest. Jenkins has been in the habit of taking part
of your work upon himself, as I believe no clerk living would have done;
and, in return, you must now take his. I hope in a few days he may be
with us again. Poor fellow, we shall feel his loss!"

Mr. Galloway had to go out in the course of the morning, and Roland was
left alone to the cares and work of the office. It occurred to him that,
as a preliminary step, he could not do better than open the window, that
the sight of people passing (especially any of his acquaintances, with
whom he might exchange greetings) should cheer him on at his hard work.
Accordingly, he threw it up to its utmost extent, and went on with his
writing, giving alternately one look to his task, and two to the street.
Not many minutes had he been thus spurring on his industry, when he saw
Arthur Channing pass.

"Hist--st--st!" called out Roland, by way of attracting his attention.
"Come in, old fellow, will you? Here's such a game!"



CHAPTER XLV.


A NEW SUSPICION.

Arthur Channing had been walking leisurely down Close Street. Time hung
heavily on his hands. In leaving the cathedral after morning service,
he had joined Mr. Harper, the lay clerk, and went with him, talking,
towards the town; partly because he had nothing to do elsewhere--partly
because out of doors appeared more desirable than home. In the uncertain
state of suspense they were kept in, respecting Charles, the minds of
all, from Hamish down to Annabel, were in a constant state of unrest.
When they rose in the morning the first thought was, "Shall we hear of
Charles to-day?" When they retired at bedtime, "What may not the river
give up this night?" It appeared to them that they were continually
expecting tidings of some sort or other; and, with this expectation,
hope would sometimes mingle itself.

Hope; where could it spring from? The only faint suspicion of it,
indulged at first, that Charley had been rescued in some providential
manner, and conveyed to a house of shelter, had had time to die out. A
few houses there were, half-concealed near the river, as there are near
to most other rivers of traffic, which the police trusted just as far as
they could see, and whose inmates did not boast of shining reputations;
but the police had overhauled these thoroughly, and found no trace of
Charley. Nor was it likely that they would conceal a child. So long as
Charles's positive fate remained a mystery, suspense could not cease;
and with this suspense there did mingle some faint glimmer of hope.
Suspense leads to exertion; inaction is intolerable to it. Hamish,
Arthur, Tom, all would rather be out of doors now, than in; there
might be something to be heard of, some information to be gathered,
and looking after it was better than staying at home to wait for it.
No wonder, then, that Arthur Channing's steps would bend unconsciously
towards the town, when he left the cathedral, morning and afternoon.

It was in passing Mr. Galloway's office, the window of which stood wide
open, that Arthur had found himself called to by Roland Yorke.

"What is it?" he asked, halting at the window.

"You are the very chap I wanted to see," cried Roland. "Come in! Don't
be afraid of meeting Galloway: he's off somewhere."

The prospect of meeting Mr. Galloway would not have prevented Arthur
from entering. He was conscious of no wrong, and he did not shrink as
though he had committed one. He went in, and Mr. Harper proceeded on his
way.

"Here's a go!" was Roland's salutation. "Jenkins is laid up." It
was nothing but what Arthur had expected. He, like Mr. Galloway, had
observed Jenkins growing ill and more ill. "How shall you manage without
him?" asked Arthur; Mr. Galloway's dilemma being the first thing that
occurred to his mind.

"Who's to know?" answered Roland, who was in an explosive temper. "_I_
don't. If Galloway thinks to put it all on my back, it's a scandalous
shame! I never could do it, or the half of it. Jenkins worked like a
horse when we were busy. He'd hang his head down over his desk, and
never lift it for two hours at a stretch!--you know he would not. Fancy
my doing that! I should get brain fever before a week was out."

Arthur smiled at this. "Is Jenkins much worse?" he inquired.

"I don't believe he's worse at all," returned Roland, tartly. "He'd
have come this morning, as usual, fast enough, only she locked up his
clothes."

"Who?" said Arthur, in surprise.

"She. That agreeable lady who has the felicity of owning Jenkins. She
was here this morning as large as life, giving an account of her doings,
without a blush. She locked up his things, she says, to keep him in bed.
I'd be even with her, I know, were I Jenkins. I'd put on her flounces,
but what I'd come out, if I wanted to. Rather short they'd be for him,
though."

"I shall go, Roland. My being here only hinders you."

"As if that made any difference worth counting! Look here!--piles
and piles of parchments! I and Galloway could never get through them,
hindered or not hindered. _I_ am not going to work over hours! _I_ won't
kill myself with hard labour. There's Port Natal, thank goodness, if the
screw does get put upon me too much!"

Arthur did not reply. It made little difference to Roland: whether
encouraged or not, talk he would.

"I _have_ heard of folks being worked beyond their strength; and that
will be my case, if one may judge by present appearances. It's too bad
of Jenkins!"

Arthur spoke up: he did not like to hear blame, even from Roland Yorke,
cast upon patient, hard-working Jenkins. "You should not say it, Roland.
It is not Jenkins's fault."

"It is his fault. What does he have such a wife for? She keeps Jenkins
under her thumb, just as Galloway keeps me. She locked up his clothes,
and then told him he might come here without them, if he liked: my
belief is, she'll be sending him so, some day. Jenkins ought to put her
down. He's big enough."

"He would be sure to come here, if he were equal to it," said Arthur.

"He! Of course he would!" angrily retorted Roland. "He'd crawl here on
all fours, but what he'd come; only she won't let him. She knows it too.
She said this morning that he'd come when he was in his coffin! I should
like to see it arrive!"

Arthur had been casting a glance at the papers. They were unusually
numerous, and he began to think with Roland that he and Mr. Galloway
would not be able to get through them unaided. Most certainly they would
not, at Roland's present rate of work. "It is a pity you are not a quick
copyist," he said.

"I dare say it is!" sarcastically rejoined Roland, beginning to play at
ball with the wafer-box. "I never was made for work; and if--"

"You will have to do it, though, sir," thundered Mr. Galloway, who had
come up, and was enjoying a survey of affairs through the open window.
Mr. Roland, somewhat taken to, dropped his head and the wafer-box
together, and went on with his writing as meekly as poor Jenkins would
have done; and Mr. Galloway entered.

"Good day," said he to Arthur, shortly enough.

"Good day, sir," was the response. Mr. Galloway turned to his idle
clerk.

"Roland Yorke, you must either work or say you will not. There is no
time for playing and fooling; no time, sir! do you hear? Who put that
window stark staring open?"

"I did, sir," said incorrigible Roland. "I thought the office might be
the better for a little air, when there was so much to do in it."

Mr. Galloway shut it with a bang. Arthur, who would not leave without
some attempt at a passing courtesy, let it be ever so slight, made a
remark to Mr. Galloway, that he was sorry to hear Jenkins was worse.

"He is so much worse," was the response of Mr. Galloway, spoken sharply,
for the edification of Roland Yorke, "that I doubt whether he will ever
enter this room again. Yes, sir, you may look; but it is the truth!"

Roland did look, looked with considerable consternation. "How on earth
will the work get done, then?" he muttered. With all his grumbling, he
had not contemplated Jenkins being away more than a day or two.

"I do not know how it will get done, considering that the clerk upon
whom I have to depend is Roland Yorke," answered Mr. Galloway, with
severity. "One thing appears pretty evident, that Jenkins will not be
able to help to do it."

Mr. Galloway, more perplexed at the news brought by Mrs. Jenkins than
he had allowed to appear (for, although he chose to make a show of
depending upon Roland, he knew how much dependence there was in reality
to be placed upon him--none knew better), had deemed it advisable to
see Jenkins personally, and judge for himself of his state of health.
Accordingly, he proceeded thither, and arrived at an inopportune moment
for his hopes. Jenkins was just recovering from a second fainting fit,
and appeared altogether so ill, so debilitated, that Mr. Galloway was
struck with dismay. There would be no more work from Jenkins--as he
believed--for him. He mentioned this now in his own office, and Roland
received it with blank consternation.

An impulse came to Arthur, and he spoke upon it. "If I can be of any use
to you, sir, in this emergency, you have only to command me."

"What sort of use?" asked Mr. Galloway.

Arthur pointed to the parchments. "I could draw out these deeds, and
any others that may follow them. My time is my own, sir, except the two
hours devoted to the cathedral, and I am at a loss how to occupy it. I
have been idle ever since I left you."

"Why don't you get into an office?" said Mr. Galloway.

Arthur's colour deepened. "Because, sir, no one will take me."

"Ah!" said Mr. Galloway, drily, "a good name is easier lost than won."

"Yes, it is," freely replied Arthur. "However, sir, to return to the
question. I shall be glad to help you, if you have no one better at
hand. I could devote several hours a day to it, and you know that I am
thoroughly to be trusted with the work. I might take some home now."

"Home!" returned Mr. Galloway. "Did you mean that you could do it at
home?"

"Certainly, sir; I did not think of doing it here," was the pointed
reply of Arthur. "I can do it at home just as well as I could here;
perhaps better, for I should shut myself up alone, and there would be
nothing to interrupt me, or to draw off my attention."

It cannot be denied that this was a most welcome proposition to Mr.
Galloway; indeed, his thoughts had turned to Arthur from the first.
Arthur would be far better than a strange clerk, looked for and brought
in on the spur of the moment--one who might answer well or answer badly,
according to chance. Yet that such must have been his resource, Mr.
Galloway knew.

"It will be an accommodation to me, your taking part of the work," he
frankly said. "But you had better come to the office and do it."

"No, sir; I would rather--"

"Do, Charming!" cried out Roland Yorke, springing up as if he were
electrified. "The office will be bearable if you come back again."

"I would prefer to do it at home, sir," continued Arthur to Mr.
Galloway, while that gentleman pointed imperiously to Yorke, as a hint
to him to hold his tongue and mind his own business.

"You _may_ come back here and do it," said Mr. Galloway.

"Thank you, I cannot come back," was the reply of Arthur.

"Of course you can't!" said angry Roland, who cared less for Mr.
Galloway's displeasure than he did for displaying his own feelings when
they were aroused. "You won't, you mean! I'd not show myself such a
duffer as you, Channing, if I were paid for it in gold!"

"You'll get paid in something, presently, Roland Yorke, but it won't be
in gold!" reproved Mr. Galloway. "You will do a full day's work to-day,
sir, if you stop here till twelve o'clock at night."

"Oh, of course I expect to do that, sir," retorted Roland, tartly.
"Considering what's before me, on this desk and on Jenkins's, there's
little prospect of my getting home on this side four in the morning.
They needn't sit up for me--I can go in with the milk. I wonder who
invented writing? I wish I had the fingering of him just now!"

Arthur turned to the parchments. He was almost as much at home with them
as Jenkins. Mr. Galloway selected two that were most pressing, and gave
them to him, with the requisite materials for copying. "You will keep
them secure, you know," he remarked.

"Perfectly so, sir; I shall sit quite alone."

He carried them off with alacrity. Mr. Galloway's face cleared as
he looked after him, and he made a remark aloud, expressive of his
satisfaction. "There's some pleasure in giving out work when you know it
will be done. No play--no dilatoriness--finished to the minute that it's
looked for! You should take a leaf out of his book, Yorke."

"Yes, sir," freely answered Roland. "When you drove Arthur Channing out
of this office, you parted with the best clerk you ever had. Jenkins is
all very well for work, but he is nothing but a muff in other things.
Arthur's a gentleman, and he'd have served you well. Jenkins himself
says so. He is honourable, he is honest, he--"

"I know enough of your sentiments with respect to his honesty,"
interrupted Mr. Galloway. "We need not go over that tale again."

"I hope every one knows them," rejoined Roland. "I have never concealed
my opinion that the accusation was infamous; that, of all of us in this
office, from its head down to Jenkins, none was less likely to finger
the note than Arthur Channing. But of course my opinion goes for
nothing."

"You are bold, young man."

"I fear it is my nature to be so," cried Roland. "If it should ever turn
up how the note went, you'll be sorry, no doubt, for having visited it
upon Arthur. Mr. Channing will be sorry; the precious magistrates will
be sorry; that blessed dean, who wanted to turn him from the college,
will be sorry. Not a soul of them but believes him guilty; and I hope
they'll be brought to repentance for it, in sackcloth and ashes."

"Go on with your work," said Mr. Galloway, angrily.

Roland made a show of obeying. But his tongue was like a steam-engine:
once set going, it couldn't readily be stopped, and he presently looked
up again.

"I am not uncharitable: at least, to individuals. I always said the
post-office helped itself to the note, and I'd lay my last half-crown
upon it. But there _are_ people in the town who think it could only have
gone in another way. You'd go into a passion with me, sir, perhaps, if I
mentioned it."

Mr. Galloway--it has been before mentioned that he possessed an
unbounded amount of curiosity, and also a propensity to gossip--so far
forgot the force of good example as to ask Roland what he meant. Roland
wanted no further encouragement.

"Well, sir, there are people who, weighing well all the probabilities of
the case, have come to the conclusion that the note could only have been
abstracted from the letter by the person to whom it was addressed. None
but he broke the seal of it."

"Do you allude to my cousin, Mr. Robert Galloway?" ejaculated Mr.
Galloway, as soon as indignation and breath allowed him to speak.

"Others do," said Roland. "I say it was the post-office."

"How dare you repeat so insolent a suspicion to my face, Roland Yorke?"

"I said I should catch it!" cried Roland, speaking partly to himself. "I
am sure to get in for it, one way or another, do what I will. It's not
my fault, sir, if I have heard it whispered in the town."

"Apply yourself to your work, sir, and hold your tongue. If you say
another word, Roland Yorke, I shall feel inclined also to turn you away,
as one idle and incorrigible, of whom nothing can be made."

"Wouldn't it be a jolly excuse for Port Natal!" exclaimed Roland, but
not in the hearing of his master, who had gone into his own room in much
wrath. Roland laughed aloud; there was nothing he enjoyed so much as to
be in opposition to Mr. Galloway; it had been better for the advancement
of that gentleman's work, had he habitually kept a tighter rein over his
pupil. It was perfectly true, however, that the new phase of suspicion,
regarding the loss of the note, had been spoken of in the town, and
Roland only repeated what he had heard.

Apparently, Mr. Galloway did not like this gratuitous suggestion.
He presently came back again. A paper was in his hand, and he began
comparing it with one on Roland's desk. "Where did you hear that
unjustifiable piece of scandal?" he inquired, as he was doing it.

"The first person I heard speak of it was my mother, sir. She came home
one day from calling upon people, and said she had heard it somewhere.
And it was talked of at Knivett's last night. He had a bachelors' party,
and the subject was brought up. Some of us ridiculed the notion; others
thought it might have grounds."

"And pray, which did you favour?" sarcastically asked Mr. Galloway.

"I? I said then, as I have said all along, that there was no one to
thank for it but the post-office. If you ask me, sir, who first set
the notion afloat in the town, I cannot satisfy you. All I know is, the
rumour is circulating."

"If I could discover the primary author of it, I would take legal
proceedings against him," warmly concluded Mr. Galloway.

"I'd help," said undaunted Roland. "Some fun might arise out of that."

Mr. Galloway carried the probate of a will to his room, and sat down to
examine it. But his thoughts were elsewhere. This suspicion, mentioned
by Roland Yorke, had laid hold of his mind most unpleasantly, in spite
of his show of indignation before Roland. He had no reason to think his
cousin otherwise than honest; it was next to impossible to suppose he
could be guilty of playing him such a trick; but somehow Mr. Galloway
could not feel so sure upon the point as he would have wished. His
cousin was a needy man--one who had made ducks and drakes of his own
property, and was for ever appealing to Mr. Galloway for assistance. Mr.
Galloway did not shut his eyes to the fact that if this _should_ have
been the case, Robert Galloway had had forty pounds from him instead
of twenty--a great help to a man at his wits' ends for money. He had
forwarded a second twenty-pound note, upon receiving information of the
loss of the first. What he most disliked, looking at it from this point
of view, was, not the feeling that he had been cleverly deceived and
laughed at, but that Arthur Channing should have suffered unjustly. If
the lad _was_ innocent, why, how cruel had been his own conduct towards
him! But with these doubts came back the remembrance of Arthur's
unsatisfactory behaviour with respect to the loss; his non-denial; his
apparent guilt; his strange shrinking from investigation. Busy as
Mr. Galloway was, that day, he could not confine his thoughts to his
business. He would willingly have given another twenty-pound note out of
his pocket to know, beyond doubt, whether or not Arthur was guilty.

Arthur, meanwhile, had commenced his task. He took possession of the
study, where he was secure from interruption, and applied himself
diligently to it. How still the house seemed! How still it had seemed
since the loss of Charles! Even Annabel and Tom were wont to hush their
voices; ever listening, as it were, for tidings to be brought of him.
Excepting the two servants, Arthur was alone in it. Hamish was abroad,
at his office; Constance and Annabel were at Lady Augusta's; Tom was in
school; and Charles was not. Judith's voice would be heard now and then,
wafted from the kitchen regions, directing or reproving Sarah; but there
was no other sound. Arthur thought of the old days when the sun had
shone; when he was free and upright in the sight of men; when Constance
was happy in her future prospects of wedded life; when Tom looked forth
certainly to the seniorship; when Charley's sweet voice and sweeter face
might be seen and heard; when Hamish--oh, bitter thought, of all!--when
Hamish had not fallen from his pedestal. It had all changed--changed
to darkness and to gloom; and Arthur may be pardoned for feeling gloomy
with it. But in the very midst of this gloom, there arose suddenly,
without effort of his, certain words spoken by the sweet singer of
Israel; and Arthur _knew_ that he had but to trust to them:--

"For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure
is life; heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the
morning."



CHAPTER XLVI.


A LETTER FOR MR. GALLOWAY.

Morning passed into afternoon, and afternoon was drawing towards its
close. Roland Yorke had contrived to struggle through it, and be still
living, in spite of the amount of work which was pressed upon him.
Mr. Galloway had put on his spectacles and copied out several pages
himself--a thing he rarely attempted. But he had gone out now, and had
carried with him some letters to post.

"Yes!" grumbled Roland. "He can stretch _his_ legs, but he takes good
care I shall not stretch mine! Why couldn't he send me with those
letters? It's my place to post them: it's not his. Write, write, write!
till my fingers are cramped, and my feet have no more feeling in them
than the stool has! Why, I wouldn't stop by myself in this horrid,
musty, parchmented old place--Oh, it's you, is it?"

This was addressed to the postman, who came in with the afternoon
delivery of letters. Two. He handed them to Roland, and departed.

Of course Roland immediately began to scrutinize them: turning them
over; critically guessing at the senders; playing with them at pitch
and toss--anything to while away the time, and afford him some cessation
from his own work. By these means he contrived to pass five minutes
rather agreeably (estimating things by comparison), when Mr. Galloway's
servant entered.

"Is my master in, Mr. Roland?"

"Of course he's not," said Roland. "He's gone gallivanting somewhere. He
has all the pleasure of it, and I have all the work."

"Will you please to give him this letter, then?" said the man. "The post
has just left it at our house, so I brought it round."

"What's it brought round here for?" asked Roland.

"Because he ordered it to be done. He said he expected a letter would
be delivered at the house by the afternoon post, and if it came I was to
bring it to him at once. Good afternoon, sir."

This little bit of information was quite enough for Roland. He seized
the letter, as he had done the others, and subjected it to the same
scrutiny. The address was written in a singular hand; in large,
print-looking letters. Roland satisfied his curiosity, so far as the
outside of the letter could do it, and then rose from his stool and laid
the three letters upon Mr. Galloway's desk in his private room.

A short time, and that gentleman entered. "Anything by the post?" was
his first question.

"Two letters, sir," replied Roland. "And John brought round one, which
was addressed to the house. He said you expected it."

Mr. Galloway went into his private room. He glanced casually at the
addresses on the letters, and then called Roland Yorke. "Where is the
letter John brought round?" he inquired, somewhat testily.

Roland pointed it out. "That was it, sir."

"That!" Mr. Galloway bent on it a keener glance, which probably
satisfied him that it bore his private address. "Was this the only one
he brought?" added he; and from his manner and words Roland inferred
that it was not the letter he had expected.

"That was all, sir."

Roland returned to his own room, and Mr. Galloway sat down and opened
his letters. The first two were short communications relative to
business; the last was the one brought by John.

What did it contain? For one thing, It contained a bank-note for twenty
pounds. But the contents? Mr. Galloway gazed at it and rubbed his brow,
and gazed again. He took off his spectacles, and put them on; he looked
at the bank-note, and he read and re-read the letter; for it completely
upset the theory and set at nought the data he had been going upon;
especially the data of the last few hours.

"The finder of that lost twenty-pound note sends it back to Mr.
Galloway. His motive in doing so is that the wrongly suspected may be
cleared. He who was publicly accused of the offence was innocent, as
were all others upon whom suspicion (though not acted upon) may have
fallen. The writer of this alone took the note, and now restores it."

Abrupt and signatureless, such was the letter. When Mr. Galloway had
sufficiently overcome his surprise to reason rationally, it struck him
as being a singular coincidence that this should come to him on the day
when the old affair had been renewed again. Since its bustle had died
out at the time of the occurrence, Mr. Galloway did not remember to have
voluntarily spoken of it, until that morning with Roland Yorke.

He took up the bank-note. Was it the one actually taken--the same
note--kept possibly, in fear, and now returned? He had no means of
knowing. He thought it was not the same. His recollection of the lost
note had seemed to be that it was a dirty note, which must have passed
through many hands; but he had never been quite clear upon that point.
This note was clean and crisp. Who _had_ taken it? Who had sent it back?
It quite disposed of that disagreeable suspicion touching his cousin.
Had his cousin so far forgotten himself as to take the note, he would
not have been likely to return it: _he_ knew nothing of the proceedings
which had taken place in Helstonleigh, for Mr. Galloway had never
mentioned them to him. The writer of this letter was cognizant of them,
and had sent it that they might be removed.

At the first glance, it of course appeared to be proof positive that
Arthur Channing was not guilty. But Mr. Galloway was not accustomed to
take only the superficial view of things: and it struck him, as it would
strike others, that this might be, after all, a refined bit of finessing
on Arthur's own part to remove suspicion from himself. True, the cost
of doing so was twenty pounds: but what was that compared with the
restoration of his good name?

The letter bore the London post-mark. There was not a doubt that it had
been there posted. That betrayed nothing. Arthur, or any one else, could
have a letter posted there, if wishing to do it. "Where there's a
will, there's a way," thought Mr. Galloway. But again, where was Arthur
Channing to procure twenty pounds from? Mr. Galloway did not think that
he could procure this sum from anywhere, or that he possessed, himself,
a twentieth part of it. So far the probability was against Arthur's
being the author. Mr. Galloway quite lost himself in conjectures. Why
should it have been addressed to his residence, and not to the office?
He had been expecting a letter from one, that afternoon, who always did
address to his residence: and that letter, it appeared, had not arrived.
However, that had nothing to do with this. Neither paper nor writing
afforded any clue to the sender, and the latter was palpably disguised.

He called in Roland Yorke, for the purpose of putting to him a
few useless questions--as a great many of us do when we are
puzzled--questions, at any rate, that could throw no light upon the main
subject.

"What did John say when he brought this letter?"

"Only what I told you, sir. That you expected a letter addressed to the
house, and ordered him to bring it round."

"But _this_ is not the letter I expected," tapping it with his finger,
and looking altogether so puzzled and astonished that Roland stared in
his turn.

"It's not my fault," returned he. "Shall I run round, sir, and ask John
about it?"

"No," testily answered Mr. Galloway. "Don't be so fond of running round.
This letter--There's some one come into the office," he broke off.
Roland turned with alacrity, but very speedily appeared again, on his
best behaviour, bowing as he showed in the Dean of Helstonleigh.

Mr. Galloway rose, and remained standing. The dean entered upon the
business which had brought him there, a trifling matter connected with
the affairs of the chapter. This over, Mr. Galloway took up the letter
and showed it to him. The dean read it, and looked at the bank-note.

"I cannot quite decide in what light I ought to take it, sir," remarked
Mr. Galloway. "It either refutes the suspicion of Arthur Channing's
guilt, or else it confirms it."

"In what way confirms it? I do not understand you," said the dean.

"It may have come from himself, Mr. Dean. A wheel within a wheel."

The dean paused to revolve the proposition, and then shook his head
negatively. "It appears to me to go a very great way towards proving his
innocence," he observed. "The impression upon my own mind has been, that
it was not he who took it--as you may have inferred, Mr. Galloway, by my
allowing him to retain his post in the cathedral."

"But, sir, if he is innocent, who is guilty?" continued Mr. Galloway, in
a tone of remonstrance.

"That is more than I can say," replied the dean. "But for the
circumstances appearing to point so strongly to Arthur Channing, I never
could have suspected him at all. A son of Mr. Channing's would have been
altogether above suspicion, in my mind: and, as I tell you, for some
time I have not believed him to be guilty."

"If he is not guilty--" Mr. Galloway paused; the full force of what he
was about to say, pressing strongly upon his mind. "If he is not guilty,
Mr. Dean, there has been a great deal of injustice done-not only to
himself--"

"A great deal of injustice is committed every day, I fear," quietly
remarked the dean.

"Tom Channing will have lost the seniorship for nothing!" went on Mr.
Galloway, in a perturbed voice, not so much addressing the dean, as
giving vent to his thoughts aloud.

"Yes," was the answer, spoken calmly, and imparting no token of what
might be the dean's private sentiments upon the point. "You will see to
that matter," the dean continued, referring to his own business there,
as he rose from his chair.

"I will not forget it, Mr. Dean," said Mr. Galloway. And he escorted
the dean to the outer door, as was his custom when honoured by that
dignitary with a visit, and bowed him out.

Roland just then looked a pattern of industry. He had resumed his seat,
after rising in salutation as the dean passed through the office, and
was writing away like a steam-engine. Mr. Galloway returned to his
own room, and set himself calmly to consider all the bearings of this
curious business. The great bar against his thinking Arthur innocent,
was the difficulty of fixing upon any one else as likely to have been
guilty. Likely! he might almost have said as _possible_ to have been
guilty. "I have a very great mind," he growled to himself, "to send for
Butterby, and let him rake it all up again!" The uncertainty vexed him,
and it seemed as if the affair was never to have an end. "What, if I
show Arthur Channing the letter first, and study his countenance as he
looks at it? I may gather something from that. I don't fancy he'd be an
over good actor, as some might be. If he has sent this money, I shall
see it in his face."

Acting upon the moment's impulse, he suddenly opened the door of the
outer office, and there found that Mr. Roland's industry had, for the
present, come to an end. He was standing before the window, making
pantomimic signs through the glass to a friend of his, Knivett. His
right thumb was pointed over his shoulder towards the door of Mr.
Galloway's private room; no doubt, to indicate a warning that that
gentleman was within, and that the office, consequently, was not free
for promiscuous intruders. A few sharp words of reprimand to Mr. Roland
ensued, and then he was sent off with a message to Arthur Channing.

It brought Arthur back with Roland. Mr. Galloway called Arthur into his
own room, closed the door, and put the letter into his hand in silence.

He read it twice over before he could understand it; indeed, he did not
do so fully then. His surprise appeared to be perfectly genuine, and so
Mr. Galloway thought it. "Has this letter been sent to you, sir? Has any
money been sent to you?"

"This has been sent to me," replied Mr. Galloway, tossing the
twenty-pound note to him. "Is it the one that was taken, Channing?"

"How can I tell, sir?" said Arthur, in much simplicity. And Mr.
Galloway's long doubts of him began to melt away.

"_You_ did not send the money--to clear yourself?"

Arthur looked up in surprise. "Where should I get twenty pounds from?"
he asked. "I shall shortly have a quarter's salary from Mr. Williams:
but it is not quite due yet. And it will not be twenty pounds, or
anything like that amount."

Mr. Galloway nodded. It was the thought which had struck himself.
Another thought, however, was now striking Arthur; a thought which
caused his cheek to flush and his brow to lower. With the word "salary"
had arisen to him the remembrance of another's salary due about this
time; that of his brother Hamish. Had Hamish been making this use of
it--to remove the stigma from him? The idea received additional force
from Mr. Galloway's next words: for they bore upon the point.

"This letter is what it purports to be: a missive from the actual thief;
or else it comes from some well-wisher of yours, who sacrifices twenty
pounds to do you a service. Which is it?"

Mr. Galloway fixed his eyes on Arthur's face and could not help noting
the change which had come over it, over his bearing altogether. The
open candour was gone: and in its place reigned the covert look, the
hesitating manner, the confusion which had characterized him at the
period of the loss. "All I can say, sir, is, that I know nothing
of this," he presently said. "It has surprised me as much as it can
surprise any one."

"Channing!" impulsively exclaimed Mr. Galloway, "your manner and your
words are opposed to each other, as they were at the time. The one gives
the lie to the other. But I begin to believe you did not take it."

"I did not," returned Arthur.

"And therefore--as I don't like to be played with and made sport of,
like a cat tormenting a mouse--I think I shall give orders to Butterby
for a fresh investigation."

It startled Arthur. Mr. Galloway's curiously significant tone, his
piercing gaze upon his face, also startled him. "It would bring no
satisfaction, sir," he said. "Pray do not. I would far rather continue
to bear the blame."

A pause. A new idea came glimmering into the mind of Mr. Galloway. "Whom
are you screening?" he asked. But he received no answer.

"Is it Roland Yorke?"

"Roland Yorke!" repeated Arthur, half reproachfully. "No, indeed. I wish
every one had been as innocent of it as was Roland Yorke."

In good truth, Mr. Galloway had only mentioned Roland's name as coming
uppermost in his mind. He knew that no suspicion attached to Roland.
Arthur resumed, in agitation:

"Let the matter drop, sir. Indeed, it will be better. It appears, now,
that you have the money back again; and, for the rest, I am willing to
take the blame, as I have done."

"If I have the money back again, I have not other things back again,"
crossly repeated Mr. Galloway. "There's the loss of time it has
occasioned, the worry, the uncertainty: who is to repay me all that?"

"My portion in it has been worse than yours, sir," said Arthur, in a
low, deep tone. "Think of _my_ loss of time; my worry and uncertainty;
my waste of character; my anxiety of mind: they can never be repaid to
me."

"And whose the fault? If you were truly innocent, you might have cleared
yourself with a word."

Arthur knew he might. But that word he had not dared to speak. At this
juncture, Roland Yorke appeared. "Here's Jenner's old clerk come in,
sir," said he to his master. "He wants to see you, he says."

"He can come in," replied Mr. Galloway. "Are you getting on with that
copying?" he added to Arthur, as the latter was going out.

"Yes, sir."

The gentleman, whom Roland Yorke designated as "Jenner's old clerk," was
shut in with Mr. Galloway; and Roland, who appeared to be on the thorns
of curiosity, arrested Arthur.

"I say, what is it that's agate? He has been going into fits, pretty
near, over some letter that came, asking me five hundred questions about
it. What have you to do with it? What does he want with you?"

"Some one has been sending him back the money, Roland. It came in a
letter."

Roland opened his eyes. "What money?"

"The money that was lost. A twenty-pound note has come. He asked me
whether it was the veritable note that was taken."

"A twenty-pound note come!" repeated puzzled Roland.

"It's quite true, Roland. It purports to be sent by the stealer of the
money for the purpose of clearing me."

Roland stood for a few moments, profound surprise on his face, and then
began to execute a triumphant hornpipe amidst the desks and stools of
the office. "I said it would come right some time; over and over again I
said it! Give us your hand, old fellow! He's not such a bad trump after
all, that thief!"

"Hush, Roland! you'll be heard. It may not do me much good. Galloway
seems to doubt me still."

"Doubt you still!" cried Roland, stopping short in his dance, and
speaking in a very explosive tone. "Doubt you _still_! Why, what would
he have?"

"I don't know;" sighed Arthur. "I have assured him I did not send it;
but he fancies I may have done it to clear myself. He talks of calling
in Butterby again."

"My opinion then, is, that he wants to be transported, if he is to turn
up such a heathen as that!" stamped Roland. "What would he have, I ask?
Another twenty, given him for interest? Arthur, dear old fellow, let's
go off together to Port Natal, and leave him and his office to it! I'll
find the means, if I rob his cash-box to get them!"

But Arthur was already beyond hearing, having waved his adieu to Roland
Yorke and his impetuous but warm-hearted championship. Anxious to get on
with the task he had undertaken, he hastened home. Constance was in the
hall when he entered, having just returned from Lady Augusta Yorke's.

His confidant throughout, his gentle soother and supporter, his ever
ready adviser, Arthur drew her into one of the rooms, and acquainted
her with what had occurred. A look of terror rose to her face, as she
listened.

"Hamish has done it!" she uttered, in a whisper. "This puts all doubt at
an end. There are times--they have been times"--she burst into tears
as she spoke--"when I have fondly tried to cheat myself that we were
suspecting him wrongfully. Arthur! others suspect him."

Arthur's face reflected the look that was upon hers. "I trust not!"

"But they do. Ellen Huntley dropped a word inadvertently, which
convinces me that he is in some way doubted there. She caught it up
again in evident alarm, ere it was well spoken; and I dared not pursue
the subject. It is Hamish who has sent this money."

"You speak confidently, Constance."

"Listen. I know that he has drawn money--papa's salary and his own:
he mentioned it incidentally. A few days ago I asked him for money for
housekeeping purposes, and he handed me a twenty-pound note, in mistake
for a five-pound. He discovered the mistake before I did, and snatched
it back again in some confusion."

"'I can't give you that,' he said in a laughing manner, when he recovered
himself. 'That has a different destination.' Arthur! that note, rely
upon it, was going to Mr. Galloway."

"When was this?" asked Arthur.

"Last week. Three or four days ago."

Trifling as the incident was, it seemed to bear out their suspicions,
and Arthur could only come to the same conclusion as his sister: the
thought had already crossed him, you remember.

"Do not let it pain you thus, Constance," he said, for her tears were
falling fast. "He may not call in Butterby. Your grieving will do no
good."

"I cannot help it," she exclaimed, with a burst of anguish. "How God is
trying us!"

Ay! even as silver, which must be seven times purified, ere it be
sufficiently refined.



CHAPTER XLVII.


DARK CLOUDS.

Constance Channing sat, her forehead buried in her hands. _How God was
trying them!_ The sentence, wrung from her in the bitterness of her
heart, but expressed the echo of surrounding things. Her own future
blighted; Arthur's character gone; Tom lost the seniorship; Charley not
heard of, dead or alive! There were moments, and this was one of them,
when Constance felt almost beyond the pale of hope. The college school,
meanwhile existed in a state of constant suspense, the sword of terror
ever hanging over its head. Punishment for the present was reserved;
and what the precise punishment would be when it came, none could tell.
Talkative Bywater was fond of saying that it did not matter whether Miss
Charley turned up or not, so far as their backs were concerned: _they_
would be made to tingle, either way.

Arthur, after communicating to Constance the strange fact of the return
of the money to Mr. Galloway, shut himself up in the study to pursue
his copying. Tea-time arrived, and Sarah brought in the tea-things. But
neither Hamish nor Tom had come in, and Constance sat alone, deep in
unpleasant thoughts.

That it was Hamish who had now returned the money to Mr. Galloway,
Constance could not entertain the slightest doubt. It had a very
depressing effect upon her. It could not render worse what had
previously happened, indeed, it rather mended it, insomuch as that
it served to show some repentance, some good feeling; but it made the
suspicion against Hamish a certainty; and there had been times when
Constance had been beguiled into thinking it only a suspicion. And now
came this new fear of Mr. Butterby again!

Hamish's own footstep in the hall. Constance roused herself. He came in,
books under his arm, as usual, and his ever-gay face smiling. There were
times when Constance almost despised him for his perpetual sunshine.
The seriousness which had overspread Hamish at the time of Charley's
disappearance had nearly worn away. In his sanguine temperament, he
argued that not finding the body was a proof that Charley was yet alive,
and would come forth in a mysterious manner one of these days.

"Have I kept you waiting tea, Constance?" began he. "I came home by way
of Close Street, and was called into Galloway's by Roland Yorke, and
then got detained further by Mr. Galloway. Where's Arthur?"

"He has undertaken some copying for Mr. Galloway, and is busy with it,"
replied Constance in a low tone. "Hamish!" raising her eyes to his face,
as she gathered resolution to speak of the affair: "have you heard what
has happened?"

"That some good fairy has forwarded a bank-note to Galloway on the wings
of the telegraph? Roland Yorke would not allow me to remain in ignorance
of that. Mr. Galloway did me the honour to ask whether I had sent it."

"You!" uttered Constance, regarding the avowal only from her own point
of view. "He asked whether _you_ had sent it?"

"He did."

She gazed at Hamish as if she would read his very soul. "And what
did--what did you answer?"

"Told him I wished a few others would suspect me of the same, and count
imaginary payments for real ones."

"Hamish!" she exclaimed, the complaint wrung from her: "how can you be
so light, so cruel, when our hearts are breaking?"

Hamish, in turn, was surprised at this. "I, cruel! In what manner,
Constance? My dear, I repeat to you that we shall have Charley back
again. I feel sure of it; and it has done away with my fear. Some inward
conviction, or presentiment--call it which you like--tells me that we
shall; and I implicitly trust to it. We need not mourn for him."

"It is not for Charley: I do not speak of Charley now," she sadly
reiterated. "You are straying from the point. Hamish, have you _no_ love
left for Arthur?"

"I have plenty of love for every one," said Mr. Hamish.

"Then _how_ can you behave like this? Arthur is not guilty; you know he
is not. And look what he has to bear! I believe you would laugh at
the greatest calamity! Sending back this money to Mr. Galloway
has--has--sadly distressed me."

Hamish turned his smiling eyes upon her, but his tone was grave. "Wait
until some great calamity occurs, Constance, and then see whether
I laugh. Did I laugh that dreadful night and day that succeeded to
Charley's loss? Sending back the money to Mr. Galloway is not a cause
for sadness. It most certainly exonerates Arthur."

"And you are gay over it!" She would have given anything to speak more
plainly.

"I am particularly gay this afternoon," acknowledged Hamish, who could
not be put out of temper by any amount of reproach whatever. "I have had
great news by the post, Constance."

"From Germany?" she quickly cried.

"Yes, from Germany," he answered, taking a letter from his pocket, and
spreading it open before Constance.

It contained the bravest news: great news, as Hamish expressed it. It
was from Mr. Channing himself, and it told them of his being so far
restored that there was no doubt now of his ability to resume his
own place at his office. They intended to be home the first week in
November. The weather at Borcette continued warm and charming, and they
would prolong their stay there to the full time contemplated. It had
been a fine autumn everywhere. There was a postscript added to the
letter, as if an afterthought had occurred to Mr. Channing. "When you
see Mr. Huntley, tell him how well I am progressing. I remember, by the
way, that he hinted at being able to introduce you to something, should
I no longer require you in Guild Street."

In the delight that the news brought, Constance partially lost sight
of her sadness. "It is not all gloom," she whispered to herself. "If we
could only dwell on God's mercies as we do on His chastisement; if we
could only feel more trust, we should see the bright side of the cloud
oftener than we do."

But it _was_ dark; dark in many ways, and Constance was soon to be
reminded again of it forcibly. She had taken her seat at the tea-table,
when Tom came in. He looked flushed--stern; and he flung his Gradus,
and one or two other books in a heap, on the side table, with more force
than was necessary; and himself into a chair, ditto.

"Constance, I shall leave the school!"

Constance, in her dismay, dropped the sugar-tongs into the sugar. "What,
Tom?"

"I shall leave the school!" he repeated, his tone as fiery as his face.
"I wouldn't stop in it another month, if I were bribed with gold. Things
are getting too bad there."

"Oh, Tom, Tom! Is this your endurance?"

"Endurance!" he exclaimed. "That's a nice word in theory, Constance; but
just you try it in practice! Who has endured, if I have not? I thought
I'd go on and endure it, as you say; at any rate, until papa came home.
But I can't--I can't!"

"What has happened more than usual?" inquired Hamish.

"It gets worse and worse," said Tom, turning his blazing face upon his
brother. "I wouldn't wish a dog to live the life that I live in the
college school. They call me a felon, and treat me as one; they send
me to Coventry; they won't acknowledge me as one of their seniors. My
position is unbearable."

"Live it down, Tom," said Hamish quietly.

"Haven't I been trying to live it down?" returned the boy, suppressing
his emotion. "It has lasted now these two months, and I have borne it
daily. At the time of Charley's loss I was treated better for a day
or two, but that has worn away. It is of no use your looking at me
reproachfully, Constance; I must complain. What other boy in the world
has ever been put down as I? I was head of the school, next to Gaunt;
looking forward to be the head; and what am I now? The seniorship
taken from me in shame; Huntley exalted to my place; my chance of the
exhibition gone--"

"Huntley does not take the exhibition," interrupted Constance.

"But Yorke will. _I_ shan't be allowed to take it. Now I know it,
Constance, and the school knows it. Let a fellow once go down, and he's
kept down: every dog has a fling at him. The seniorship's gone, the
exhibition is going. I might bear that tamely, you may say; and of
course I might, for they are negative evils; but what I can't and won't
bear, are the insults of every-day life. Only this afternoon they--"

Tom stopped, for his feelings were choking him; and the complaint he was
about to narrate was never spoken. Before he had recovered breath and
calmness, Arthur entered and took his seat at the tea-table. Poor Tom,
allowing one of his unfortunate explosions of temper to get the better
of him, sprang from his chair and burst forth with a passionate reproach
to Arthur, whom he regarded as the author of all the ill.

"Why did you do it? Why did you bring this disgrace upon us? But for
you, I should not have lost caste in the school."

"Tom!" interposed Hamish, in a severe tone.

Mr. Tom, brave college boy that he was--manly as he coveted to
be thought--actually burst into tears. Tears called forth, not by
contrition, I fear; but by remembered humiliation, by vexation, by
the moment's passion. Never had Tom cast a reproach openly to Arthur;
whatever he may have felt he buried it within himself; but that his
opinion vacillated upon the point of Arthur's guilt, was certain.
Constance went up to him and laid her hand gently and soothingly upon
his shoulder.

"Tom, dear boy, your troubles are making you forget yourself. Do not be
unjust to Arthur. He is innocent as you."

"Then if he is innocent, why does he not speak out like a man, and
proclaim his innocence?" retorted Tom, sensibly enough, but with rather
too much heat. "That's what the school cast in my teeth, more than
anything again. 'Don't preach up your brother's innocence to us!'
they cry; 'if he did not take it, wouldn't he say so?' Look at Arthur
now"--and Tom pointed his finger at him--"he does not, even here, to me,
assert that he is innocent!"

Arthur's face burnt under the reproach. He turned it upon Hamish, with a
gesture almost as fiery, quite as hasty, as any that had been vouchsafed
them by Tom. Plainly as look could speak, it said, "Will _you_ suffer
this injustice to be heaped upon me?" Constance saw the look, and she
left Tom with a faint cry, and bent over Arthur, afraid of what truth he
might give utterance to.

"Patience yet, Arthur!" she whispered. "Do not let a moment's anger undo
the work of weeks. Remember how bravely you have borne."

"Ay! Heaven forgive my pride, Tom!" Arthur added, turning to him calmly.
"I would clear you--or rather clear myself--in the eyes of the school,
if I could: but it is impossible. However, you have less to blame me for
than you may think."

Hamish advanced. He caught Tom's arm and drew him to a distant window.
"Now, lad," he said, "let me hear all about this bugbear. I'll see if it
can be in any way lightened for you."

Hamish's tone was kindly, his manner frank and persuasive, and Tom was
won over to speak of his troubles. Hamish listened with an attentive
ear. "Will you abide by my advice?" he asked him, when the catalogue of
grievances had come to an end.

"Perhaps I will," replied Tom, who was growing cool after his heat.

"Then, as I said to you before, so I say now--_Live it down_. It is the
best advice I can give you."

"Hamish, you don't know what it is!"

"Yes, I do. I can enter into your trials and annoyances as keenly as
if I had to encounter them. I do not affect to disparage them to you: I
know that they are real trials, real insults; but if you will only make
up your mind to bear them, they will lose half their sharpness. Your
interest lies in remaining in the college school; more than that, your
duty lies in it. Tom, don't let it be said that a Channing shrunk from
his duty because it brought him difficulties to battle with."

"I don't think I _can_ stop in it, Hamish. I'd rather stand in a
pillory, and have rotten eggs shied at me."

"Yes, you can. In fact, my boy, for the present you _must_. Disobedience
has never been a fault amongst us, and I am sure you will not be the one
to inaugurate it. Your father left me in charge, in his place, with full
control; and I cannot sanction any such measure as that of your leaving
the school. In less than a month's time he will be home, and you can
then submit the case to him, and abide by his advice."

With all Tom's faults, he was not rebellious, neither was he
unreasonable; and he made up his mind, not without some grumbling, to do
as Hamish desired him. He drew his chair with a jerk to the tea-table,
which of course was unnecessary. I told you that the young Channings,
admirably as they had been brought up, had their faults; as you have
yours, and I have mine.

It was a silent meal. Annabel, who was wont to keep them alive, whatever
might be their troubles, had remained to take tea at Lady Augusta
Yorke's, with Caroline and Fanny. Had Constance known that she was
in the habit of thoughtlessly chattering upon any subject that came
uppermost, including poor Charles's propensity to be afraid of ghosts,
she had allowed her to remain with them more charily. Hamish took a
book and read. Arthur only made a show of taking anything, and soon
left them, to resume his work; Tom did not even make a show of it, but
unequivocally rejected all good things. "How could he be hungry?" he
asked, when Constance pressed him. An unsociable meal it was--almost
as unpleasant as were their inward thoughts. They felt for Tom, in
the midst of their graver griefs; but they were all at cross purposes
together, and they knew it; therefore they could only retain an
uncomfortable reticence one with another. Tom laid the blame to the
share of Arthur; Arthur and Constance to the share of Hamish. To whom
Hamish laid it, was only known to himself.

He, Hamish, rose as the tea-things were carried away. He was preparing
for a visit to Mr. Huntley's. His visits there, as already remarked, had
not been frequent of late. He had discovered that he was not welcome to
Mr. Huntley. And Hamish Channing was not one to thrust his company upon
any one: even the attraction of Ellen could not induce that. But it
is very probable that he was glad of the excuse Mr. Channing's letter
afforded him to go there now.

He found Miss Huntley alone; a tall, stiff lady, who always looked as
if she were cased in whalebone. She generally regarded Hamish with some
favour, which was saying a great deal for Miss Huntley.

"You are quite a stranger here," she remarked to him as he entered.

"I think I am," replied Hamish. "Mr. Huntley is still in the
dining-room, I hear?"

"Mr. Huntley is," said the lady, speaking as if the fact did not give
her pleasure, though Hamish could not conceive why. "My niece has chosen
to remain with him," she added, in a tone which denoted dissatisfaction.
"I am quite _tired_ of talking to her! I tell her this is proper, and
the other is improper, and she goes and mixes up my advice in the most
extraordinary way; leaving undone what she ought to do, and doing what I
tell her she ought not! Only this very morning I read her a sermon upon
'Propriety, and the fitness of things.' It took me just an hour--an hour
by my watch, I assure you, Mr. Hamish Channing!--and what is the result?
I retired from the dinner-table precisely ten minutes after the removal
of the cloth, according to my invariable custom; and Ellen, in defiance
of my warning her that it is not lady-like, stays there behind me! 'I
have not finished my grapes, aunt,' she says to me. And there she stays,
just to talk with her father. And he encourages her! What will become of
Ellen, I cannot imagine; she will never be a lady!"

"It's very sad!" replied Hamish, coughing down a laugh, and putting on
the gravest face he could call up.

"Sad!" repeated Miss Huntley, who sat perfectly upright, her hands,
cased in mittens, crossed upon her lap. "It is _grievous_, Mr. Hamish
Channing! She--what do you think she did only yesterday? One of our
maids was going to be married, and a dispute, or some unpleasantness
occurred between her and the intended husband. Would you believe that
Ellen actually wrote a letter for the girl (a poor ignorant thing, who
never learnt to read, let alone to write, but an excellent servant) to
this man, that things might be smoothed down between them? My niece,
Miss Ellen Huntley, lowering herself to write a--a--I can scarcely allow
my tongue to utter the word, Mr. Hamish--a love-letter!"

Miss Huntley lifted her eyes, and her mittens. Hamish expressed himself
inexpressibly shocked, inwardly wishing he could persuade Miss Ellen
Huntley to write a few to him.

"And I receive no sympathy from any one!" pursued Miss Huntley. "None!
I spoke to my brother, and he could not see that she had done anything
wrong in writing: or pretended that he could not. Oh dear! how things
have altered from what they were when I was a young girl! Then--"

"My master says, will you please to walk into the dining-room, sir?"
interrupted a servant at this juncture. And Hamish rose and followed
him.

Mr. Huntley was alone. Hamish threw his glance to the four corners of
the room, but Ellen was not in it. The meeting was not very cordial on
Mr. Huntley's side. "What can I do for you?" he inquired, as he shook
hands. Which was sufficient to imply coldly, "You must have come to my
house for some particular purpose. What is it?"

But Hamish could not lose his sunny temperament, his winning manner. "I
bring you great news, Mr. Huntley. We have heard from Borcette: and the
improvement in my father's health is so great, that all doubts as to the
result are over."

"I said it would be so," replied Mr. Huntley.

They continued talking some little time, and then Hamish mentioned the
matter alluded to in the postscript of the letter. "Is it correct that
you will be able to help me to something," he inquired, "when my father
shall resume his own place in Guild Street?"

"It is correct that I told your father so," answered Mr. Huntley. "I
thought then that I could."

"And is the post gone? I assume that it was a situation of some sort?"

"It is not gone. The post will not be vacant until the beginning of the
year. Have you heard that there is to be a change in the joint-stock
bank?"

"No," replied Hamish, looking up with much interest.

"Mr. Bartlett leaves. He is getting in years, his health is failing, and
he wishes to retire. As one of the largest shareholders in the bank, I
shall possess the largest voice in the appointment of a. successor, and
I had thought of you. Indeed, I have no objection to say that there
is not the slightest doubt you would have been appointed; otherwise, I
should not have spoken confidently to Mr. Channing."

It was an excellent post; there was no doubt of that. The bank was not
an extensive one; it was not the principal bank of Helstonleigh; but
it was a firmly established, thoroughly respectable concern; and
Mr. Bartlett, who had been its manager for many years, enjoyed many
privileges, and a handsome salary. A far larger salary than was Mr.
Channing's. The house, a good one, attached to the bank, was used as his
residence, and would be, when he left, the residence of his successor.

"I should like it of all things!" cried Hamish.

"So would many a one, young sir, who is in a better position than you,"
drily answered Mr. Huntley. "I thought you might have filled it."

"Can I not, sir?"

"No."

Hamish did not expect the answer. He looked inquiringly at Mr. Huntley.
"Why can I not?"

"Because I cannot now recommend you to it," was the reply.

"But why not?" exclaimed Hamish.

"When I spoke of you as becoming Mr. Bartlett's successor, I believed
you would be found worthy to fulfil his duties."

"I can fulfil them," said Hamish.

"Possibly. But so much doubt has arisen upon that point in my own mind,
that I can no longer recommend you for it. In fact, I could not sanction
your appointment."

"What have I done?" inquired Hamish.

"Ask your conscience. If that does not tell you plainly enough, I shall
not."

"My conscience accuses me of nothing that need render me unfit to fill
the post, and to perform my duties in it, Mr. Huntley."

"I think otherwise. But, to pursue the subject will be productive of
no benefit, so we will let it drop. I would have secured you the
appointment, could I have done so conscientiously, but I cannot; and the
matter is at an end."

"At least you can tell me why you will not?" said Hamish, speaking with
some sarcasm, in the midst of his respect.

"I have already declined to do so. Ask your own conscience, Hamish."

"The worst criminal has a right to know his accusation, Mr. Huntley.
Otherwise he cannot defend himself."

"It will be time enough for you to defend yourself when you are publicly
accused. I shall say no more upon the point. I am sorry your father
mentioned the thing to you, necessitating this explanation, so far;
I have also been sorry for having ever mentioned it to him. My worst
explanation will be with your father, for I cannot enter into cause and
effect, any more than I can to you."

"I have for some little time been conscious of a change in your manner
towards me, Mr. Huntley."

"Ay--no doubt."

"Sir, you _ought_ to tell me what has caused it. I might explain away
any prejudice or wrong impression--"

"There, that will do," interrupted Mr. Huntley. "It is neither prejudice
nor wrong impression that I have taken up. And now I have said the last
word upon the matter that I shall say."

"But, sir--"

"No more, I say!" peremptorily interrupted Mr. Huntley. "The subject is
over. Let us talk of other things. I need not ask whether you have news
of poor Charley; you would have informed me of that at once. You see, I
was right in advising silence to be kept towards them. All this time of
suspense would have told badly on Mr. Channing."

Hamish rose to leave. He had done little good, it appeared, by his
visit; certainly, he could not wish to prolong it. "There was an
unsealed scrap of paper slipped inside my father's letter," he said. "It
was from my mother to Charley. This is it."

It appeared to have been written hastily--perhaps from a sudden thought
at the moment of Mr. Channing's closing his letter. Mr. Huntley took it
in his hand.

"MY DEAR LITTLE CHARLEY,"

"How is it you do not write to mamma? Not a message from you now: not a
letter! I am sure you are not forgetting me."

"Poor boy!" exclaimed Mr. Huntley, handing it back to Hamish. "Poor
mother!"

"I did not show it to Constance," observed Hamish. "It would only
distress her. Good night, sir. By the way," added Hamish, turning as he
reached the door: "Mr. Galloway has received that money back again."

"What money?" cried Mr. Huntley.

"That which was lost. A twenty-pound note came to him in a letter by
this afternoon's post. The letter states that Arthur, and all others who
may have been accused, are innocent."

"Oh, indeed!" cried Mr. Huntley, with cutting sarcasm, as the conviction
flashed over him that Hamish, and no other, had been the sender. "The
thief has come to his senses at last, has he? So far as to render lame
justice to Arthur."

Hamish left the room. The hall had not yet been lighted, and Hamish
could hardly see the outline of a form, crossing it from the staircase
to the drawing-room. _He_ knew whose it was, and he caught it to him.

"Ellen," he whispered, "what has turned your father against me?"

Of course she could not enlighten him; she could not say to Hamish
Channing, "He suspects you of being a thief." Her whole spirit would
have revolted from that, as much as it did from the accusation. The
subject was a painful one; she was flurried at the sudden meeting--the
stealthy meeting, it may be said; and--she burst into tears.

I am quite afraid to say what Mr. Hamish did, this being a sober story.
When he left the hall, Ellen Huntley's cheeks were glowing, and certain
sweet words were ringing changes in her ears.

"Ellen! they shall never take you from me!"



CHAPTER XLVIII.


MUFFINS FOR TEA.

A week or two passed by, and November was rapidly approaching. Things
remained precisely as they were at the close of the last chapter:
nothing fresh had occurred; no change had taken place. Tom Channing's
remark, though much cannot be said for its elegance, was indisputable in
point of truth--that when a fellow was down, he was kept down, and every
dog had a fling at him It was being exemplified in the case of Arthur.
The money, so mysteriously conveyed to Mr. Galloway, had proved of
little service towards clearing him; in fact, it had the contrary
effect; and people openly expressed their opinion that it had come from
himself or his friends. He was _down_; and it would take more than that
to lift him up again.

Mr. Galloway kept his thoughts to himself, or had put them into his
cash-box with the note, for he said nothing.

Roland Yorke did not imitate his example; he was almost as explosive
over the present matter as he had been over the loss. It would
have pleased him that Arthur should be declared innocent by public
proclamation. Roland was in a most explosive frame of mind on another
score, and that was the confinement to the office. In reality, he was
not overworked; for Arthur managed to get through a great amount of
it at home, which he took in regularly, morning after morning, to Mr.
Galloway. Roland, however, thought he was, and his dissatisfaction was
becoming unbearable. I do not think that Roland _could_ have done a hard
day's work. To sit steadily to it for only a couple of hours appeared to
be an absolute impossibility to his restless temperament. He must look
off; he must talk; he must yawn; he must tilt his stool; he must take a
slight interlude at balancing the ruler on his nose, or at other similar
recreative and intellectual amusements; but, apply himself in earnest,
he could not. Therefore there was little fear of Mr. Roland's being
overcome with the amount of work on hand.

But what told upon Roland was the confinement--I don't mean upon his
health, you know, but his temper. It had happened many a day since
Jenkins's absence, that Roland had never stirred from the office, except
for his dinner. He must be there in good time in the morning--at the
frightfully early hour of nine--and he often was not released until six.
When he went to dinner at one, Mr. Galloway would say, "You must be back
in half an hour, Yorke; I may have to go out." Once or twice he had not
gone to dinner until two or three o'clock, and then he was half dead
with hunger. All this chafed poor Roland nearly beyond endurance.

Another cause was rendering Roland's life not the most peaceful one. He
was beginning to be seriously dunned for money. Careless in that, as he
was in other things, improvident as was ever Lady Augusta, Roland
rarely paid until he was compelled to do so. A very good hand was he
at contracting debts, but a bad one at liquidating them. Roland did not
intend to be dishonest. Were all his creditors standing around him, and
a roll of bank-notes before him he would freely have paid them all; very
probably, in his openheartedness, have made each creditor a present,
over and above, for "his trouble." But, failing the roll of notes, he
only staved off the difficulties in the best way he could, and grew
cross and ill-tempered on being applied to. His chief failing was his
impulsive thoughtlessness. Often, when he had teased or worried Lady
Augusta out of money, to satisfy a debt for which he was being pressed,
that very money would be spent in some passing folly, arising with the
impulse of the moment, before it had had time to reach the creditor.
There are too many in the world like Roland Yorke.

Roland was late in the office one Monday evening, he and a lamp sharing
it between them. He was in a terrible temper, and sat kicking his feet
on the floor, as if the noise, for it might be heard in the street,
would while away the time. He had nothing to do; the writing he had been
about was positively finished; but he had to remain in, waiting for Mr.
Galloway, who was absent, but had not left the office for the evening.
He would have given the whole world to take his pipe out of his pocket
and begin to smoke; but that pastime was so firmly forbidden in the
office, that even Roland dared not disobey.

"There goes six of 'em!" he uttered, as the cathedral clock rang out the
hour, and his boots threatened to stave in the floor. "If I stand this
life much longer, I'll be shot! It's enough to take the spirit out of
a fellow; to wear the flesh off his bones; to afflict him with nervous
fever. What an idiot I was to let my lady mother put me here! Better
have stuck to those musty old lessons at school, and gone in for a
parson! Why can't Jenkins get well, and come back? He's shirking it,
that's my belief. And why can't Galloway have Arthur back? He might, if
he pressed it! Talk of solitary confinement driving prisoners mad, at
their precious model prisons, what else is this? I wish I could go mad
for a week, if old Galloway might be punished for it! It's worse than
any prison, this office! At four o'clock he went out, and now it's six,
and I have not had a blessed soul put his nose inside the door to say,
'How are you getting on?' I'm a regular prisoner, and nothing else. Why
doesn't he--"

The complaint was cut short by the entrance of Mr. Galloway. Unconscious
of the rebellious feelings of his clerk, he passed through the office
to his own room, Roland's rat-tat-to having ceased at his appearance. To
find Roland drumming the floor with his feet was nothing unusual--rather
moderate for him; Mr. Galloway _had_ found him doing it with his head.
Two or three minutes elapsed, and Mr. Galloway came out again.

"You can shut up, Roland. And then, take these letters to the post. Put
the desks straight first; what a mess you get them into. Is that will
engrossed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well! Be here in time in the morning. Good night."

"Good night, sir," responded Roland. "Yes! it's all very fine," he went
on, as he opened the desks, and shoved everything in with his hands,
indiscriminately, _en masse_, which was _his_ way of putting things
straight. "'Be here in time!' Of course! No matter what time I am let
off the previous evening. If I stand this long--"

Roland finished his sentence by an emphatic turn of the key of the
office-door, which expressed quite as much as words could have done; for
he was already out of the room, his hat on his head, and the letters in
his hand. Calling out lustily for the housekeeper, he flung the key to
her, and bounded off in the direction of the post-office.

His way lay past Mrs. Jenkins's shop, which the maid had, for the
hour, been left to attend to. She was doing it from a leaf taken out of
Roland's own book--standing outside the door, and gazing all ways. It
suddenly struck Roland that he could not do better than pay Jenkins
a visit, just to ascertain how long he meant to absent himself. In
he darted, with his usual absence of hesitation, and went on to the
parlour. There was no hurry for the letters; the post did not close
until nine.

The little parlour, dark by day, looked very comfortable now. A bright
fire, a bright lamp, and a well-spread tea-table, at which Mrs. Jenkins
sat. More comfortable than Jenkins himself did, who lay back in his
easy-chair, white and wan, meekly enjoying a lecture from his wife. He
started from it at the appearance of Roland, bowing in his usual humble
fashion, and smiling a glad welcome.

"I say, Jenkins, I have come to know how long you mean to leave us to
ourselves?" was Roland's greeting. "It's too bad, you know. How d'ye do,
Mrs. Jenkins? Don't you look snug here? It's a nasty cutting night, and
I have to tramp all the way to the post-office."

Free and easy Roland drew a chair forward on the opposite side of the
hearth to Jenkins, Mrs. Jenkins and her good things being in the middle,
and warmed his hands over the blaze. "Ugh!" he shivered, "I can't bear
these keen, easterly winds. It's fine to be you, Jenkins! basking by a
blazing fire, and junketing upon plates of buttered muffins!"

"Would you please to condescend to take a cup of tea with us, sir?" was
Jenkins's answer. "It is just ready."

"I don't care if I do," said Roland. "There's nothing I like better than
buttered muffins. We get them sometimes at home; but there's so many
to eat at our house, that before a plate is well in, a dozen hands are
snatching at it, and it's emptied. Lady Augusta knows no more about
comfort than a cow does, and she _will_ have the whole tribe of young
ones in to meals."

"You'll find these muffins different from what you get at home," said
Mrs. Jenkins, in her curt, snappish, but really not inhospitable way,
as she handed the muffins to Roland. "I know what it is when things
are left to servants, as they are at your place; they turn out
uneatable--soddened things, with rancid butter, nine times out of ten,
instead of good, wholesome fresh. Servants' cooking won't do for Jenkins
now, and it never did for me."

"These are good, though!" exclaimed Roland, eating away with intense
satisfaction. "Have you got any more downstairs? Mrs. Jenkins, don't I
wish you could always toast muffins for me! Is that some ham?"

His eyes had caught a small dish of ham, in delicate slices, put there
to tempt poor Jenkins. But he was growing beyond such tempting now,
for his appetite wholly failed him. It was upon this point he had been
undergoing Mrs. Jenkins's displeasure when Roland interrupted them. The
question led to an excellent opportunity for renewing the grievance,
and she was too persistent a diplomatist to let it slip. Catching up the
dish, and leaving her chair, she held it out before Roland's eyes.

"Young Mr. Yorke, do you see anything the matter with that ham? Please
to tell me."

"I see that it looks uncommonly good," replied Roland.

"Do you hear?" sharply ejaculated Mrs. Jenkins, turning short round upon
her husband.

"My dear, I never said a word but what it was good; I never had any
other thought," returned he, with deprecation. "I only said that I could
not eat it. I can't--indeed, I can't! My appetite is gone."

Mrs. Jenkins put the dish down upon the table with a jerk. "That's how
he goes on," said she to Roland. "It's enough to wear a woman's patience
out! I get him muffins, I get him ham, I get him fowls, I get him fish,
I get him puddings, I get him every conceivable nicety that I can think
of, and not a thing will he touch. All the satisfaction I can get from
him is, that 'his stomach turns against food!'"

"I wish I could eat," interposed Jenkins, mildly. "I have tried to do it
till I can try no longer. I wish I could."

"Will you take some of this ham, young Mr. Yorke?" she asked. "_He_
won't. He wants to know what scarcity of food is!"

"I'll take it all, if you like," said Roland. "If it's going begging."

Mrs. Jenkins accommodated him with a plate and knife and fork, and with
some more muffins. Roland did ample justice to the whole, despatching it
down with about six cups of good tea, well sugared and creamed. Jenkins
looked on with satisfaction, and Mrs. Jenkins appeared to regard it
in the light of a personal compliment, as chief of the commissariat
department.

"And now," said Roland, turning back to the fire, "when are you coming
out again, Jenkins?"

Jenkins coughed--more in hesitation for an answer, than of necessity. "I
am beginning to think, sir, that I shall not get out again at all," he
presently said.

"Holloa! I say, Jenkins, don't go and talk that rubbish!" was Roland's
reply. "You know what I told you once, about that dropsy. I heard of a
man that took it into his head to fancy himself dead. And he ordered a
coffin, and lay down in it, and stopped in it for six days, only getting
up at night to steal the bread and cheese! His folks couldn't think,
at first, where the loaves went to. You'll be fancying the same, if you
don't mind!"

"If I could only get a little stronger, sir, instead of weaker, I should
soon be at my duty again. I am anxious enough sir, as you may imagine,
for there's my salary, sir, coming to me as usual, and I doing nothing
for it."

"It's just this, Jenkins, that if you don't come back speedily, I shall
take French leave, and be off some fine morning. I can't stand it much
longer. I can't tell you how many blessed hours at a stretch am I in
that office with no one to speak to. I _wish_ I was at Port Natal!"

"Sir," said Jenkins, thinking he would say a word of warning, in his
kindly spirit: "I have heard that there's nothing more deceptive than
those foreign parts that people flock to when the rage arises for them.
Many a man only goes out to starve and die."

"Many a muff, you mean!" returned self-complaisant Roland. "I say,
Jenkins, isn't it a shame about Arthur Channing? Galloway has his money
back from the very thief himself, as the letter said, and yet the old
grumbler won't speak out like a man, and say, 'Shake hands, old fellow,'
and 'I know you are innocent, and come back to the office again.' Arthur
would return, if he said that See if I don't start for Port Natal!"

"I wish Mr. Arthur was back again, sir. It would make me easier."

"He sits, and stews, and frets, and worries his brains about that
office, and how it gets on without him!" tartly interposed Mrs. Jenkins.
"A sick man can't expect to grow better, if he is to fret himself into
fiddlestrings!"

"I wish," repeated poor Jenkins in a dreamy sort of mood, his eyes fixed
on the fire, and his thin hands clasped upon his knees: "I do wish Mr.
Arthur was back. In a little while he'd quite replace me, and I should
not be missed."

"Hear him!" uttered Mrs. Jenkins. "That's how he goes on!"

"Well," concluded Roland, rising, and gathering up his letters, which
he had deposited upon a side table, "if this is not a nice part of the
world to live in, I don't know what is! Arthur Channing kept down under
Galloway's shameful injustice; Jenkins making out that things are all
over with him; and I driven off my head doing everybody's work! Good
night, Jenkins. Good night, Mrs. J. That was a stunning tea! I'll come
in again some night, when you have toasted muffins!"



CHAPTER XLIX.


A CHÂTEAU EN ESPAGNE.

A keen wind, blowing from the east, was booming through the streets of
Helstonleigh, striking pitilessly the eyes and cheeks of the wayfarers,
cutting thin forms nearly in two, and taking stout ones off their legs.

Blinded by the sharp dust, giving hard words to the wind, to the cold,
to the post-office for not being nearer, to anything and everything,
Roland Yorke dashed along, suffering nothing and no one to impede his
progress. He flung the letters into the box at the post-office, when
he reached that establishment, and then set off at the same pace back
again.

Roland was in a state of inward commotion. He thought himself the most
injured, the most hard-worked, the most-to-be-pitied fellow under the
sun. The confinement in the office, with the additional work he had to
get through there, was his chief grievance; and a grievance it really
was to one of Roland's temperament. When he had Arthur Channing and
Jenkins for his companions in it, to whom he could talk as he pleased,
and who did all the work, allowing Roland to do all the play, it had
been tolerably bearable; but that state of things was changed, and
Roland was feeling that he could bear it no longer.

Another thing that Roland would perhaps be allowed to bear no longer
was--immunity from his debts. _They_ had grown on him latterly, as much
as the work had. Careless Roland saw no way out of that difficulty,
any more than he did out of the other, except by an emigration to
that desired haven which had stereotyped itself on the retina of his
imagination in colours of the brightest phantasy--Port Natal. For its
own sake, Roland was hurrying to get to it, as well as that it might be
convenient to do so.

"Look here," said he to himself, as he tore along, "even if Carrick were
to set me all clear and straight--and I dare say he might, if I told him
the bother I am in--where would be the good? It would not forward me. I
wouldn't stop at Galloway's another month to be made into a royal duke.
If he'd take back Arthur with honours, and Jenkins came out of his cough
and his thinness and returned, I don't know but I might do violence to
my inclination and remain. I can't, as it is. I should go dead with the
worry and the work."

Roland paused, fighting for an instant with a puff of wind and dust.
Then he resumed:

"I'd pay my debts if I could; but, if I can't, what am I to do but leave
them unpaid? Much better get the money from Carrick to start me off to
Port Natal, and set me going there. Then, when I have made enough, I'll
send the cash to Arthur, and get him to settle up for me. I don't want
to cheat the poor wretches out of their money; I'd rather pay 'em double
than do that. Some of them work hard enough to get it: almost as hard as
I do at Galloway's; and they have a right to their own. In three months'
time after landing, I shall be able to do the thing liberally. I'll make
up my mind from to-night, and go: I know it will be all for the best.
Besides, there's the other thing."

What the "other thing" might mean, Mr. Roland did not state more
explicitly. He came to another pause, and then went on again.

"That's settled. I'll tell my lady to-night, and I'll tell Galloway
in the morning; and I'll fix on the time for starting, and be off to
London, and see what I can do with Carrick. Let's see! I shall want to
take out lots of things. I can get them in London. When Bagshaw went,
he told me of about a thousand. I think I dotted them down somewhere: I
must look. Rum odds and ends they were: I know frying-pans were amongst
them, Carrick will go with me to buy them, if I ask him; and then he'll
pay, if it's only out of politeness. Nobody sticks out for politeness
more than Carrick. He--"

Roland's castles in the air were suddenly cut short. He was passing a
dark part near the cathedral, when a rough hand--rough in texture, not
in motion--was laid upon his shoulder, and a peculiar piece of paper
thrust upon him. The assailant was Hopper, the sheriff's officer.

Roland flew into one of his passions. He divined what it was, perfectly
well: nothing less than one of those little mandates from our Sovereign
Lady the Queen, which, a short time back, had imperilled Hamish
Channing. He repaid Hopper with a specimen of his tongue, and flung the
writ back at him.

"Now, sir, where's the good of your abusing me, as if it was my fault?"
returned the man, in a tone of remonstrance. "I have had it in my pocket
this three weeks, Mr. Yorke, and not a day but I could have served it
on you: but I'm loth to trouble young gentlemen such as you, as I'm sure
many of you in this town could say. I have got into displeasure with our
folk about the delay in this very paper, and--in short, sir, I have not
done it, till I was obliged."

"You old preacher!" foamed Roland. "I have not tipped you with
half-a-crown lately, and therefore you can see me!"

"Mr. Yorke," said the man, earnestly, "if you had filled my hands with
half-crowns yesterday, I must have done this to-day. I tell you, sir,
I have got into a row with our people over it; and it's the truth.
Why don't you, sir--if I may presume to give advice--tell your little
embarrassments to your mother, the Lady Augusta? She'd be sure to see
you through them."

"How dare you mention the Lady Augusta to me?" thundered haughty Roland.
"Is it fitting that the Lady Augusta's name should be bandied in such
transactions as these? Do you think I don't know what's due to her
better than that? If I have got into embarrassment, I shall not drag my
mother into it."

"Well, sir, you know best. I did not mean to offend you, but the
contrary. Mind, Mr. Roland Yorke!" added Hopper, pointing to the writ,
which still lay where it had been flung: "you can leave it there if you
choose, sir, but I have served it upon you."

Hopper went his way. Roland caught up the paper, tore it to pieces with
his strong hands, and tossed them after the man. The wind took up the
quarrel, and scattered the pieces indiscriminately, right and left.
Roland strode on.

"What a mercy that there's a Port Natal to be off to!" was his comment.

Things were not particularly promising at home, when Roland entered,
looking at them from a quiet, sociable point of view. Lady Augusta
was spending the evening at the deanery, and the children, from Gerald
downwards, were turning the general parlour into a bear-garden. Romping,
quarrelling, shouting and screaming, they were really as unrestrained as
so many young bears. It would often be no better when Lady Augusta was
at home. How Gerald and Tod contrived to do their lessons amidst it
was a marvel to every one. Roland administered a few cuffs, to enjoin
silence, and then went out again, he did not much care where. His feet
took him to the house of his friend, Knivett, with whom he spent a
pleasant evening, the topics of conversation turning chiefly upon the
glories of Port Natal, and Roland's recent adventure with Hopper. Had
anything been wanted to put the finishing touch to Roland's resolution,
that little adventure would have supplied it.

It was past ten when he returned home. The noisy throng had dispersed
then, all except Gerald. Gerald had just accomplished his tasks, and was
now gracefully enjoying a little repose before the fire; his head on the
back of my lady's low embroidered chair, and his feet extended on either
hob.

"What's for supper?" asked Roland, turning his eyes on the cloth, which
bore traces that a party, and not a scrupulously tidy one, had already
partaken of that meal.

"Bones," said Gerald.

"Bones?" echoed Roland.

"Bones," rejoined Gerald. "They made a show of broiling some downstairs,
but they took good care to cut off the meat first. Where all the meat
goes to in this house, I can't think. If a good half of the leg of
mutton didn't go down from dinner to-day, I possessed no eyes."

"They are not going to put me off with bones," said Roland, ringing
the bell. "When a man's worked within an ace of his life, he must eat.
Martha,"--when the maid appeared--"I want some supper."

"There's no meat in the house, sir. There were some broiled bo--"

"You may eat the bones yourself," interrupted Roland. "I never saw
such a house as this! Loads of provisions come into it, and yet there's
rarely anything to be had when it's wanted. You must go and order
me some oysters. Get four dozen. I am famished. If I hadn't had a
substantial tea, supplied me out of charity, I should be fainting before
this! It's a shame! I wonder my lady puts up with you two incapable
servants."

"There are no oysters to be had at this time, Mr. Roland," returned
Martha, who was accustomed to these interludes touching the
housekeeping. "The shop shuts up at ten."

Roland beat on the floor with the heel of his boot. Then he turned round
fiercely to Martha. "Is there _nothing_ in the house that's eatable?"

"There's an apple pie, sir."

"Bring that, then. And while I am going into it, the cook can do me some
eggs and ham."

Gerald had turned round at this, angry in his turn, "If there's an apple
pie, Martha, why could you not have produced it for our supper? You know
we were obliged to put up with cheese and butter!"

"Cook told me not to bring it up, Master Gerald. My lady gave no orders.
Cook says if she made ten pies a day they'd get eaten, once you young
gentlemen knew of their being in the house."

"Well?" said Gerald. "She doesn't provide them out of her own pocket."

Roland paid his court to the apple pie, Gerald joining him. After it was
finished, they kept the cook employed some time with the eggs and ham.
Then Gerald, who had to be up betimes for morning school, went to bed;
and I only hope he did not suffer from nightmare.

Roland took up his place before the fire, in the same chair and position
vacated by Gerald. Thus he waited for Lady Augusta. It was not long
before she came in.

"Come and sit down a bit, good mother," said Roland. "I want to talk to
you."

"My dear, I am not in a talking humour," she answered. "My head aches,
and I shall be glad to get to bed. It was a stupid, humdrum evening."

She was walking to the side table to light her bed-candle, but Roland
interposed. He drew the couch close to the fire, settled his mother
in it, and took his seat with her. She asked him what he had to say so
particularly that night.

"I am going to tell you what it is. But don't you fly out at me, mother
dear," he coaxingly added. "I find I can't get along here at all,
mother, and I shall be off to Port Natal."

Lady Augusta did fly out--with a scream, and a start from her seat.
Roland pulled her into it again.

"Now, mother, just listen to me quietly. I can't bear my life at
Galloway's. I can't do the work. If I stopped at it, I'm not sure but
I should do something desperate. You wouldn't like to see your son
turn jockey, and ride in a pink silk jacket and yellow breeches on the
race-course; and you wouldn't like to see him enlist for a soldier, or
run away for a sailor! Well, worse than that might come, if I stopped at
Galloway's. Taking it at the very best, I should only be worked into my
grave."

"I will not hear another word, Roland," interrupted Lady Augusta. "How
can you be so wicked and ungrateful?"

"What is there wicked in it?" asked Roland. "Besides, you don't know
all. I can't tell you what I don't owe in Helstonleigh, and I've not
a sixpence to pay it with. You wouldn't like to see me marched off to
prison, mother."

Lady Augusta gave another shriek.

"And there's a third reason why I wish to be away," went on Roland,
drowning the noise. "But I'll not go into that, because it concerns
myself alone."

Of course the announcement that it concerned himself alone, only made my
lady the more inquisitive to hear it. She peremptorily ordered Roland to
disclose it to her.

But Roland could be as peremptory as she, and he declined, in positive
terms, to explain further.

"It would not afford you any pleasure, mother," he said, "and I should
not have mentioned it but as an additional reason why I must be off."

"You unhappy boy! You have been doing something dreadful!"

"It's not over-good," acknowledged Roland. "Perhaps I'll write you word
all about it from London. I've not smothered William Yorke, or set old
Galloway's office on fire, and those respected gentlemen are my two
_bêtes noires_. So don't look so scared, mother."

"Roland!" uttered Lady Augusta, as the fact struck her, "if you go off
in this manner, all the money that was paid with you to Mr. Galloway
will be lost! I might as well have sent it down the gutter."

"So I said at the time," answered cool Roland. "Never mind that, mother.
What's that paltry hundred or two, compared with the millions I shall
make? And as to these folks that I owe money to--"

"They'll be coming upon me," interposed Lady Augusta. "Heaven knows, _I_
have enough to pay."

"They will do nothing of the sort," said Roland. "You have no legal
right to pay my debts. Not one of them but has been contracted since I
was of age. If they come to you, tell them so."

"Roland, Lord Carrick gave you money once or twice when he was here,"
resumed Lady Augusta, "I know he did. What have you done with it all?"

"Money melts," responded Roland. "Upon my word of honour, I do believe
it must melt at times; it vanishes so quickly."

My lady could not cavil at the assertion. She was only too much given to
the same belief herself. Roland continued:

"In a little while--about three months, as I calculate--after my arrival
at Port Natal, I shall be in a position to send funds home to pay what
I owe; and be assured, I will faithfully send them. There is the finest
opening, mother, at Port Natal! Fortunes are being made there daily.
In a few years' time I shall come home with my pockets lined, and shall
settle down by you for life."

"If I could only think the prospect was so good a one!" exclaimed Lady
Augusta.

"It is good," said Roland emphatically. "Why, mother, Port Natal is all
the rage: hundreds are going out. Were there no reasons to urge me away,
you would be doing the most unwise thing possible to stand in the light
of my going. If I were at something that I liked, that I was not worked
to death at; if I did not owe a shilling; if my prospects here, in
short, were first-rate, and my life a bower of rose-leaves, I should do
well to throw it all up for Port Natal."

"But in what manner are these great fortunes made?" wondered Lady
Augusta.

"Of course, I shall acquire all that information. Stuck in this
know-nothing Helstonleigh, I can only state the fact that they _are_
made. I dare say I can find an opening for one or two of the boys out
there."

Lady Augusta--persuadable as ever was a child--began to look upon the
plan with less prejudiced eyes--as Roland would have styled it. As to
Roland, so fully had he become imbued with the golden harvest to be
gathered at Port Natal, that had an angel descended to undeceive him, he
would have refused to listen.

"There will be the losing you, Roland," said Lady Augusta, hesitating
whether she should scold or cry.

"Law, what's that?" returned Roland, slightingly. "You'll get over that
in a day, and return thanks that there's one source of trouble less.
Look here! If I were in the luck of having a good commission given me in
some crack Indian regiment, would you not say, 'Oh be joyful,' and start
me off at once? What are you the worse for George's being away? Mother!"
he added somewhat passionately, "_would_ you like to see me tied down
for life to an old proctor's office?"

"But, Roland, you cannot go out without money. There'll be your outfit
and your passage; and you can't land with empty pockets."

"As to an outfit," said Roland, "you must not run your head upon such
a one as George had. A few new shirts, and a pair or two of waterproof
boots--that will be about all I shall want. I remember shirts and
waterproof boots were mentioned by Bagshaw. What I shall chiefly want
to buy will be tools, and household utensils: frying-pans, and items of
that sort."

"Frying-pans!" ejaculated Lady Augusta.

"I am sure frying-pans were mentioned," answered Roland. "Perhaps it was
only one, though, for private use. I'll hunt up Bagshaw's list, and look
it over."

"And where's the money to come from?" repeated my lady.

"I shall get it of Lord Carrick. I know he'll give me what I want. I
often talked to him about Port Natal when he was here."

"I had a letter from him to-day," said Lady Augusta. "He will be
returning to Ireland next week."

"Will he, though?" uttered Roland, aroused by the information. "I have
no time to lose, then."

"Well, Roland I must hear more about this to-morrow, and consider it
over," said my lady, rising to retire. "I have not said yet you are to
go, mind."

"I shall go, whether you say it or not," replied frank Roland. "And when
I come home with my pockets lined, a rich man for life, the first thing
I'll buy shall be a case of diamonds for you."

"Stupid boy!" said she laughing. "I shall be too old to wear diamonds
then."

"Oh no, you won't."

My lady gave him a hearty kiss, and went to bed and to sleep. Roland's
visions were not without their effect upon her, and she had a most
delightful dream of driving about in a charming city, whose streets
were paved with malachite marble, brilliant to look upon. How many times
Roland had dreamt that Port Natal was paved with _gold_, he alone knew.

Had Roland been troubled with over-sensitiveness in regard to other
people's feelings, and felt himself at a loss how to broach the matter
to Mr. Galloway, he might have been pleased to find that the way was, in
a degree, paved to him. On the following morning Mr. Galloway was at the
office considerably before his usual hour; consequently, before Roland
Yorke. Upon looking over Roland's work of the previous day, he found
that a deed--a deed that was in a hurry, too--had been imperfectly drawn
out, and would have to be done over again. The cause must have been
sheer carelessness, and Mr. Galloway naturally felt angered. When the
gentleman arrived, he told him what he thought of his conduct, winding
up the reproaches with a declaration that Roland did him no service at
all, and would be as well out of the office as in it.

"I am glad of that, sir," was Roland's answer. "What I was about to tell
you will make no difference, then. I wish to leave, sir."

"Do you?" retorted Mr. Galloway.

"I am going to leave, sir," added Roland, rather improving upon the
assertion. "I am going to Port Natal."

Mr. Galloway was a little taken aback. "Going to where?" cried he.

"To Port Natal."

"To Port Natal!" echoed Mr. Galloway in the most unbounded astonishment,
for not an inkling of Roland's long-thought-of project had ever reached
him. "What on earth should you want there?"

"To make my fortune," replied Roland.

"Oh!" said Mr. Galloway. "When do you start?"

"It is quite true, sir," continued Roland. "Of course I could not go
without informing you."

"Do you start to-day?" repeated Mr. Galloway, in the same mocking tone.

"No, I don't," said Roland. "But I _shall_ start, sir, before long, and
I beg you to believe me. I have talked Lady Augusta over to the plan,
and I shall get the money for it from Lord Carrick. I might drum on here
all my life and never rise to be anything better than a proctor, besides
having my life worked out of me; whereas, if I can get to Port Natal,
my fortune's made. Hundreds and thousands of enterprising spirits are
emigrating there, and they are all going to make their fortunes."

Had Mr. Galloway not been angry, he would have laughed out-right.
"Yorke," said he, "did you ever hear of a sickness that fell suddenly
upon this kingdom, some years ago? It was called the gold fever.
Hundreds and thousands, as you phrase it, caught the mania, and flocked
out to the Australian gold-diggings, to 'make their fortunes' by picking
up gold. Boy!"--laying his hand on Roland's shoulder--"how many of
those, think you, instead of making their fortunes, only went out TO
DIE?"

"That was not Port Natal, sir."

"It was not. But, unless some of you wild young men come to your senses,
we shall have a second edition of the Australian madness at Port Natal.
Nothing can be more futile than these visionary schemes, Roland Yorke;
they are like the apples of Sodom--fair and promising to the eye, ashes
to the taste. Do not you be deceived by them."

"One _must_ get on at Port Natal, sir."

"If one does not get 'off,'" returned Mr. Galloway, in a cynical
tone that chafed Roland's ear. "The stream that flocked out to the
gold-diggings all thought they should get on--each individual was fully
persuaded that he should come home in a year or two with a plum in
each of his breeches pockets. Where one made his way, Roland--made
wealth--many starved; died; vanished, it was not known how; were never
heard of by their friends, or saw old England again. What good do you
suppose _you_ could do at Port Natal?"

"I intend to do a great deal," said Roland.

"But suppose you found you could do none--suppose it, I say--what
would become of you out in a strange place, without money, and without
friends?"

"Well," returned Roland, who was never at a loss for an answer: "if such
an impossible thing as a failure were to turn up, I should come back to
my Uncle Carrick, and make him start me in something else."

"Ah!" mockingly observed Mr. Galloway, "a rolling stone gathers no moss.
Meanwhile, Mr. Roland Yorke, suppose you come down from the clouds
to your proper business. Draw out this deed again, and see if you can
accomplish it to a little better purpose than you did yesterday."

Roland, liking the tone less and less, sat down and grew sullen. "Don't
say I did not give you notice, sir," he observed.

But Mr. Galloway vouchsafed no reply. Indeed, it may be questioned if
he heard the remark, for he went into his own room at the moment Roland
spoke, and shut the door after him.

"Mocking old caterpillar!" grumbled angry Roland. "No fortunes at Port
Natal! I'd go off, if it was only to tantalize _him!_"



CHAPTER L.


REALLY GONE!

Mrs. Jenkins had many virtues. Besides the cardinal one which has been
particularly brought under the reader's notice--that of keeping her
husband in due subjection--she also possessed, in an eminent degree, the
excellent quality of being a most active housewife. In fact, she had the
bump of rule and order, and personally superintended everything--with
hands and tongue.

Amongst other careful habits, was that of never letting any one put a
finger on her best sitting-room, for the purpose of cleaning it, except
herself. She called it her drawing-room--a small, pretty room over the
shop, very well furnished. It was let to Mr. Harper, with the bedroom
behind it. Had Lydia dared even to wipe the dust off a table, it might
have cost her her place. Mrs. Jenkins was wont to slip her old buff
dressing-gown over her clothes, after she was dressed in a morning, and
take herself to this drawing-room. Twice a week it was carefully swept,
and on those occasions a large green handkerchief, tied cornerwise
upon Mrs. Jenkins's head, to save her cap from dust, was added to her
costume.

On the morning following Roland's communication to Mr. Galloway, Mrs.
Jenkins was thus occupied--a dust-pan in one hand, a short hand-broom in
the other--for you may be sure she did not sweep her carpets with
those long, slashing, tear-away brooms that wear out a carpet in six
months--and the green kerchief adjusted gracefully over her ears--when
she heard a man's footsteps clattering up the stairs. In much
astonishment as to who could have invaded the house at that hour, Mrs.
Jenkins rose from her knees and flung open the door.

It was Roland Yorke, coming up at full speed, with a carpet-bag in his
hand. "Whatever do you want?" exclaimed she. "Is anything the matter?"

"The matter is, that I want to say a word to Jenkins," replied Roland.
"I know he must be in bed, so I just ran straight through the shop and
came up."

"I'm sure you are very polite!" exclaimed Mrs. Jenkins. "For all you
knew, I might have been in the room."

"So you might!" cried easy Roland. "I never thought of that. I should
not have swallowed you, Mrs. Jenkins. Take care! I have hardly a minute
to spare. I shall lose the train."

On he went, up the second flight of stairs, without the slightest
hesitation, and into Jenkins's room, ignoring the ceremony of knocking.
Poor Jenkins, who had heard the colloquy, and recognized Roland's voice,
was waiting for him with wondering eyes.

"I am off, Jenkins," said Roland, advancing and bending over the bed.
"I wouldn't go without just saying a word to you."

"Off where, sir?" returned Jenkins, who could not have looked more
bewildered had he been suddenly aroused from sleep.

"To Port Natal. I am sick and tired of everything here, so I'm off at
last."

Jenkins was struck dumb. Of course, the first thought that passed
through his mind was Mr. Galloway's discomfiture, unless he was prepared
for it. "This is very sudden, sir!" he cried, when speech came to him.
"Who is replacing you at the office?"

"No one," replied Roland. "That's the primest bit in the whole play.
Galloway will know what work is, now. I told him yesterday morning that
I should go, but he went into a tantrum, and didn't take it in earnest.
He pointed out to me about sixty things as my day's work to-day, when he
left the office last night; errands to go upon, and writings to do, and
answers to give, and the office to mind! A glorious commotion there'll
be, when he finds it's all thrown upon his own hands. He'll see how _he_
likes work!"

Jenkins could do nothing but stare. Roland went on:

"I have just slipped round there now, to leave a message, with my
compliments. It will turn his hair green when he hears it, and finds I
am really gone. Do you feel any better, Jenkins?"

The question was put in a different tone; a soft, gentle tone--one in
which Roland rarely spoke. He had never seen Jenkins look so ill as he
was looking now.

"I shall never feel any better in this world, sir."

"Well, give us your hand, Jenkins; I must be off. You are the only one,
old fellow, that I have said good-bye to. You have been a good lot,
Jenkins, and done things for me that other clerks would not. Good luck
to you, old chap, whether you go into the next world, or whether you
stop in this!"

"God bless you, Mr. Roland! God bless you everywhere!"

Roland leapt down the stairs. Mrs. Jenkins stood at the drawing-room
door. "Good-bye," said he to her. "You see I should not have had time
to eat you. What d'ye call that thing you have got upon your head,
Mrs. Jenkins? Only wear it to church next Sunday, and you'll set the
fashion."

Away he tore to the station. The first person he saw there, officials
excepted, was Hamish Channing, who had gone to it for the purpose of
seeing a friend off by the train. The second, was Lady Augusta Yorke.

Hamish he saw first, as he was turning away from getting his ticket.
"Hamish," said he, "you'll tell Arthur that I did not come round to him
for a last word; I shall write it from London."

"Roland"--and Hamish spoke more gravely than was his wont--"you are
starting upon a wild-goose scheme."

"It is _not_," said Roland; "why do you preach up nonsense? If the worst
came to the worst, I should come back to Carrick, and he'd set me on my
legs again. I tell you, Hamish, I have a hundred reasons to urge me away
from Helstonleigh."

"Is this carpet-bag all your luggage?"

"All I am taking with me. The rest will be sent afterwards. Had I
despatched the bellman about the town to announce my departure, I might
have been stopped; so I have told no one, except poor harmless Jenkins."

Of course it never occurred to proud and improvident Roland that it was
possible to travel in any carriage but a first-class one. A first-class
ticket he took, and a first-class compartment he entered. Fortunately it
was an empty one. Hamish was filling up the door, talking to him, when
sounds of distress were heard coming swiftly along the platform. Before
Hamish had time to see what caused them, they were close upon his ear,
and he found himself vehemently pushed aside, just as Roland himself
might have pushed him. He turned with surprise. Panting, breathless,
in tears, wailing out that she should never see her darling son again,
stood the Lady Augusta Yorke.

What could be the cause of her appearing there in that state? The cause
was Roland. On the previous day, he had held a second conversation with
his mother, picturing the glories of Port Natal in colours so vivid,
that the thought nearly crossed my lady's mind, couldn't she go too,
and make _her_ fortune? She then inquired when he meant to start. "Oh,"
answered Roland, carelessly, "between now and a week's time." The real
fact was, that he contemplated being away on the following morning,
before my lady was up. Roland's motive was not an unfilial one. He knew
how she excited herself over these partings; the violent, if short,
grief to which she gave the reins; he remembered what it had been on the
departure of his brother George. One other motive also held weight with
him, and induced reticence. It was very desirable, remembering that
he was not perfectly free from claims upon his purse, that he
should depart, if not absolutely _sub rosâ_, still without its
being extensively known, and that, he knew, would be next door to an
impossibility, were the exact period confided to my lady. Lady Augusta
Yorke could not have kept a secret for a single hour, had it been to
save her life. Accordingly, she retired to rest in blissful ignorance:
and in ignorance she might have remained until he was fairly off, but
for Roland's own want of caution. Up with daylight--and daylight, you
know, does not surprise us too early when the dark days of November are
at hand--Roland began turning over his drawers and closets, to pick out
the few articles he meant to carry with him: the rest would be packed
afterwards. This aroused his mother, whose room was underneath his, and
she angrily wondered what he could be doing. Not for some time until
after the noise had ceased did the faintest suspicion of the truth
break upon her; and it might not then have done so, but for the sudden
remembrance which rose in her mind of Roland's particularly affectionate
farewell the night before. Lady Augusta rang her bell.

"Do you know what Mr. Roland is about in his room?" she inquired, when
Martha answered it.

"Mr. Roland is gone out, my lady," was Martha's reply. "He came down
to the kitchen and drank a cup of coffee; and then went out with a
carpet-bag."

Lady Augusta became excited. "Where's he gone?" she wildly asked.

"Somewhere by rail, I think, my lady. He said, as he drank his coffee,
that he hoped our heads wouldn't ache till he saw us again. Cook and me
couldn't think what he meant, my lady."

My lady divined only too well. She gave a prolonged series of shrieks,
jumped out of bed, flung on any clothes that came uppermost, and
started in pursuit of him, to the intense wonder of Martha, and to the
astonishment of Helstonleigh, as she flew wildly through the streets to
the station. The sight of Hamish at a carriage-door guided her to her
runagate son.

She sprang into the carriage--it was well, I say, that it was
empty!--and overwhelmed him with a torrent of reproaches, all the
while kissing and hugging him. Not two minutes could be given to their
farewell, for the time was up, and Lady Augusta had to descend again,
weeping bitterly.

"Take care of her home, Hamish," said Roland, putting his head out.
"Mother dear, you'll live to say I have done well, yet. You'll see
me come home, one of these fine days, with a covered waggon after me,
bringing the bags of gold." Poor Roland!

The train steamed off, and Lady Augusta, to the discomfiture of Hamish,
and the admiration of the porters and station boys, set off at full
speed after it, wringing her hands, and tearing her hair, and sobbing
and shrieking out that "She'd go--she'd go with it! that she should
never see her darling boy again!" With some difficulty Hamish soothed
her down to tolerable calmness, and put her into a fly.

They were scarcely beyond the station when she suddenly bent forward to
Hamish, who sat on the seat opposite to her, and seized his hands. "Is
it true that every one gets rich who goes to Port Natal?"

The question was a poser for sunny Hamish. He liked to scatter flowers
in his path, rather than thorns. How could he tell that grieving woman,
that Roland--careless, lazy, improvident Roland--would be almost sure to
return in a worse plight than he had gone? "I have heard of people doing
well at Port Natal," he answered; "and Roland is young and strong, and
has years before him."

"I cannot think how so much money can be made," continued my lady,
beginning to dry her tears. "There are no gold fields there, are there?"

"I think not," said Hamish.

"They must trade, then, I suppose. And, goodness me! what does
Roland know about trading? Nothing. He talks of taking out tools and
frying-pans."

"Frying-pans!" repeated Hamish, struck with the item.

"I am sure he said frying-pans. Oh dear!" sobbed Lady Augusta, "what a
relief it would be if folks never had any children; or if boys did
not possess wills of their own! Hamish, you have never given sorrow to
_your_ mother! I feel that you have not!"

Hamish smiled at her. "Now you know, Lady Augusta, that your children
are your dearest treasures," cried he, soothingly. "You would be the
most unhappy woman living if you had none."

"Ah! you can't judge, Mr. Hamish Channing. You have no children of your
own."

"No," said Hamish, laughing, "but my turn may come some day. Dear Lady
Augusta, if Roland has his faults, he has his good qualities. Look on
the bright side of things. Look forward with hope to the time that you
shall see him home safe and well again. It will be sure to come."

"You speak as if you believed it would."

"Of course I do," said Hamish. "And every one finds me a true prophet."

They were then passing the Hazledon Charity. At the iron gates of the
inclosure, talking to an old man, stood the Rev. William Yorke. "Roland
left a message for him!" exclaimed Hamish, half mockingly, as his eyes
fell upon the clergyman.

Lady Augusta, impulse all over, suddenly put her head out at the window
and stopped the fly. William Yorke, looking surprised to see who were
its inmates, advanced to the door. The lady's tears flowed afresh.

"He is gone, William! My darling, self-willed, troublesome boy is gone,
and I shall, perhaps, never see him more, till I am an old woman."

"Who is gone?" returned Mr. Yorke.

"Roland. Never was a mother so tried as I. He will soon be on the sea,
ploughing his way to Port Natal. I wish there was no sea!--no Port
Natals! He went off without saying a word to me, and he is GONE!"

Mr. Yorke, bewildered, turned his eyes on Hamish for explanation. He had
never heard of the Port Natal project. Hamish nodded in confirmation.

"The best place for him," said Mr. Yorke. "He must work for his bread,
there, before he eats it."

Lady Augusta shrieked. "How cruelly hard you are, William!"

"Not hard, Lady Augusta--kind," he gently said. "If your boys were
brought up to depend upon their own exertions, they would make better
men."

"You said you had a message for him from Roland," resumed Lady Augusta,
looking at Hamish.

Hamish smiled significantly. "Not much of one," he said, and his lips,
as he bent towards William Yorke, assumed an expression of sarcastic
severity. "He merely requested me, after he was in the train, to give
his love to the Rev. William Yorke, as a parting legacy."

Either the words or the tone, probably the latter, struck on the Rev.
William Yorke's self-esteem, and flushed his cheek crimson. Since the
rupture with Constance, Hamish, though not interfering in the remotest
degree, had maintained a tone of quiet sarcasm to Mr. Yorke. And though
Mr. Yorke did not like it, he could not prevent it.

"When does Mr. Channing return?" he abruptly asked of Hamish.

"We shall be expecting him shortly now."

Lady Augusta gave the signal for the fly to drive on. William Yorke put
his hand over the door, and took hers as the man began to whip up his
horse.

"Do not grieve too much after him, Lady Augusta. It may prove to be the
best day's work Roland ever did. God has given him hands, and brains;
and a good heart, as I verily believe. If he shall only learn their
value out there, let his lines be ever so hard, he may come home a
wise and a good man. One of my poor pensioners here said to me, not
ten minutes ago, I was brought to know my Saviour, sir, through 'hard
lines.' Lady Augusta, those 'hard lines' are never sent in vain."



CHAPTER LI.


AN ARRIVAL IN A FLY.

Was any one ever so ill-used as that unfortunate Mr. Galloway? On the
morning which witnessed his troublesome clerk's departure, he set rather
longer than usual over his breakfast, never dreaming of the calamity in
store for him. That his thoughts were given to business, there was no
doubt, for his newspaper lay untouched. In point of fact, his mind was
absorbed by the difficulties which had arisen in his office, and the
ways and means by which those difficulties might be best remedied.

That it would be impossible to get on with Roland Yorke alone, he had
said to himself twenty times; and now he was saying it again, little
supposing, poor unconscious man, that even Roland, bad as he was, had
taken flight. He had never intended to get along with only Roland, but
circumstances had induced him to attempt doing so for a time. In the
first place, he had entertained hopes, until very recently, that Jenkins
would recover; in the second place, failing Jenkins, there was no one
in the wide world he would so soon have in his office as Arthur
Channing--provided that Arthur could prove his innocence. With Arthur
and Roland, he could go on very well, or with Jenkins and Roland; but
poor Jenkins appeared to be passing beyond hope; and Arthur's innocence
was no nearer the light than it had been, in spite of that strange
restitution of the money. Moreover, Arthur had declined to return to the
office, even to help with the copying, preferring to take it home. All
these reflections were pressing upon Mr. Galloway's mind.

"I'll wait no longer," said he, as he brought them to a conclusion.
"I'll go this very day after that young Bartlett. I think he might suit,
with some drilling. If he turns out a second Yorke, I shall have a nice
pair upon my hands. But he can't well turn out as bad as Roland: he
comes of a more business-like stock."

This point settled, Mr. Galloway took up the _Times_. Something in its
pages awoke his interest, and he sat longer over it than had been his
wont since the departure of Jenkins. It was twenty minutes past nine by
his watch when he started for his office.

"Now, I wonder how I shall find that gentleman?" soliloquized he, when
he drew near. "Amusing himself, as usual, of course. He'll have made a
show of putting out the papers, and there they will be, lying unopened.
He'll be at Aunt Sally with the letters, or dancing a quadrille with
the stools, or stretched three parts out of the window, saluting the
passengers. I never thought he'd do me much good, and should not have
taken him, but for the respect I owed the late Dr. Yorke. Now for it!"

It was all very well for Mr. Galloway to say, "Now for it," and to put
his hand stealthily upon the door-handle, with the intention of pouncing
suddenly upon his itinerant pupil. But the door would not open. Mr.
Galloway turned, and turned, and shook the handle, as our respected
friend Mr. Ketch did when he was locked up in the cloisters, but he
turned it to no purpose.

"He has not come yet!" wrathfully exclaimed Mr. Galloway. "All the work
of the office on his shoulders and mine, the most busy time of the whole
year, and here's half-past nine, and no appearance of him! If I live
this day out, I'll complain to Lady Augusta!"

At this moment the housekeeper's little maid came running forward.
"Where's Mr. Yorke?" thundered the proctor, in his anger, as if the
child had the keeping of him.

"Please, sir, he's gone to Port Natal."

"Gone to--what?" uttered Mr. Galloway.

She was unlocking the door, and then stood back to curtsey while Mr.
Galloway entered, following in after him--an intelligent child for her
years.

"Please, sir, Mr. Yorke came round this morning, while me and missis was
a dusting of the place, and he said we was to tell Mr. Galloway, when he
come, that he had gone to Port Natal, and left his compliments."

"It is not true!" cried Mr. Galloway. "How dare he play these tricks?"
he added, to himself.

"Please, sir, missis said she thought it was true, 'cause he had a
carpet-bag," returned the young servant.

Mr. Galloway stared at the child. "You go round at once to Lady
Augusta's," said he, "and ask what Mr. Yorke means by being so late. I
desire that he will come immediately."

The child flew off, and Mr. Galloway, hardly knowing what to make
of matters, proceeded to do what he ought to have found done. He
and Jenkins had duplicate keys to the desks, letter-box, etc. Since
Jenkins's illness, his keys had been in the possession of Roland.

Presently the child came back again.

"Please, sir, her ladyship's compliments, and Mr. Roland have gone to
Port Natal."

The consternation that this would have caused Mr. Galloway, had he
believed it, might have been pitiable. An intimation that our clerk, who
was in the office last night, pursuing his legitimate work, has "gone to
Port Natal," as we might say of some one who goes to make a morning call
at the next door, is not very credible. Neither did Mr. Galloway give
credence to it.

"Did you see her ladyship?" he asked.

"Please, sir, I saw one of the servants, and she went to her ladyship,
and brought out the message."

The young messenger retired, leaving Mr. Galloway to his fate. He
persisted in assuming that the news was too absurd to be correct; but a
dreadful inward misgiving began to steal over him.

The question was set at rest by the Lady Augusta. Feeling excessively
vexed with Roland for not having informed Mr. Galloway of his intended
departure--as from the message, it would appear he had not done--she
determined to go round; and did so, following closely on the heels of
the maid. Her ladyship had already wonderfully recovered her spirits.
They were of a mercurial nature, liable to go up and down at touch; and
Hamish had contrived to cheer her greatly.

"What does all this mean? Where's Roland?" began Mr. Galloway, showing
little more deference to her ladyship, in his flurry, than he might have
shown to Roland himself.

"Did you not know he was going?" she asked.

"I know nothing. Where is he gone?"

"He has started for Port Natal; that is, he has started for London, on
his way to it. He went by the eight o'clock train."

Mr. Galloway sat down in consternation. "My lady, allow me to inquire
what sort of behaviour you call this?"

"Whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, I can't help it," was the
reply of Lady Augusta. "I'm sure _I_ have enough to bear!" she added,
melting into tears. "Of course he ought to have informed you of his
intention, Mr. Galloway. I thought he did. He told me he had done so."

A reminiscence of Roland's communication crossed Mr. Galloway's mind;
of his words, "Don't say I did not give you notice, sir." He had paid no
heed to it at the time.

"He is just another of my headstrong boys," grumbled Lady Augusta. "They
are all specimens of wilfulness. I never knew that it was this morning
he intended to be off, until he was gone, and I had to run after him to
the station. Ask Hamish Channing."

"He must be mad!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway.

"He says great fortunes are made, out at Port Natal. I don't know
whether it is so."

"Great fortunes made!" irascibly responded Mr. Galloway. "Pittances,
that folks go out with, are lost, when they are such as he. That's what
it is. Harem-scarem chaps, who won't work, can do no good at Port
Natal. Great fortunes made, indeed! I wonder that you can be led away by
notions so wild and extravagant, Lady Augusta!"

"I am not led away by them," peevishly returned Lady Augusta, a
recollection of her own elation on the point darting unpleasantly to her
mind. "Where would have been the use of my holding out against it, when
he had set his heart upon the thing? He would have gone in spite of me.
Do you _not_ think fortunes are made there, Mr. Galloway?"

"I am sure they are not, by such as Roland," was the reply. "A man who
works one hour in the day, and plays eleven, would do less good at
Port Natal than he would in his own country. A business man, thoroughly
industrious, and possessing some capital, may make something at Port
Natal, as he would at any other port. In the course of years he might
realize a fortune--in the course of _years_, I say, Lady Augusta."

This was not precisely the prospect Roland had pictured to Lady Augusta,
or to which her own imagination had lent its hues, and she stood in
consternation almost equal to Mr. Galloway's. "What on earth will he do,
then, when he gets there?" ejaculated she.

"Find out his mistake, my lady, and come home without a coat to his
back, as hundreds have done before him, and worked their passage home,
to get here. It is to be hoped he will have to do the same. It will
teach him what work is."

"There never was such an unhappy mother as I am!" bewailed my lady.
"They _will_ do just as they like, and always would, from George
downwards: they won't listen to me. Poor dear boy! reduced, perhaps, to
live on brown bread and pea-soup!"

"And lucky to get that!" cried angry Mr. Galloway. "But the present
question, Lady Augusta, is not what he may do when he gets to Port
Natal, but what am I to do without him here. Look at the position it has
placed me in!"

Lady Augusta could give neither help nor counsel. In good truth, it
was not her fault. But she saw that Mr. Galloway seemed to think it was
hers, or that it was partially hers. She departed home again, feeling
cross with Roland, feeling damped about his expedition, and beginning to
fancy that Port Natal might not, after all, bring her diamonds to wear,
or offer her streets paved with malachite marble.

Mr. Galloway sat down, and reiterated the question in relation to
himself, which Lady Augusta had put regarding Roland when he should
arrive at Port Natal--What on earth was he to do? He could not close his
office; he could not perform its various duties himself; he could not
be out of doors and in, at one and the same time, unless, indeed, he cut
himself in two! What _was_ he to do?

It was more than Mr. Galloway could tell. He put his two hands upon his
knees, and stared in consternation, feeling himself grow hot and cold
alternately. Could Roland--then whirling along in the train, reclining
at his ease, his legs up on the opposite cushion as he enjoyed a
luxurious pipe, to the inestimable future benefit of the carriage--have
taken a view of Mr. Galloway and his discomfiture, his delight would
have been unbounded.

"Incorrigible as he was, he was better than nobody," ejaculated Mr.
Galloway, rubbing up his flaxen curls. "He could keep office, if he
did not do much in it; he received and answered callers; he went out
on hasty messages; and, upon a pinch, he did accomplish an hour or so's
copying. I am down on my beam-ends, and no mistake. What a simpleton the
fellow must be! Port Natal, indeed, for him! If Lord Carrick were not
own brother to my lady, he might have the sense to stop it. Why--"

Arrival the first, and no one to answer it but Mr. Galloway! A fly had
driven up and stopped at the door. No one appeared to be getting out of
it, so Mr. Galloway, perforce, proceeded to see what it wanted. It might
contain one of the chapter, or the dean himself!

But, by the time he reached the pavement, the inmates were descending.
A short lady, in a black bonnet and short black skirts, had let herself
out on the opposite side, and had come round to assist somebody out
on this. Was it a ghost, or was it a man? His cheeks were hollow and
hectic, his eyes were glistening as with fever, his chest heaved. He had
a fur boa wrapped round his neck, and his overcoat hung loosely on his
tall, attenuated form, which seemed too weak to support itself, or to
get down the fly steps without being lifted.

"Now don't you be in a hurry!" the lady was saying, in a cross tone.
"You'll come pitch into the mud with your nose. Can't you wait? It's my
belief you are wanting to do it. Here, let me get firm hold of you; you
know you are as weak as ever was a rat!"

You may recognize the voice as belonging to Mrs. Jenkins, and that poor
shadow could be no one but Jenkins himself, for there certainly was not
another like it in all Helstonleigh. Mr. Galloway stood in astonishment,
wondering what this new move could mean. The descent accomplished,
Jenkins was conducted by his wife through the passage to the office. He
went straight to his old place at his desk, and sat down on his stool,
his chest palpitating, his breath coming in great sighs. Laying his hat
beside him, he turned respectfully to Mr. Galloway, who had followed him
in, speaking with all his native humility:

"I have come, sir, to do what I can for you in this emergency."

And there he stopped--coughing, panting, shaking; looking like a man
more fit to be lying on his death-bed than to be keeping office. Mr.
Galloway gazed at him with compassion. He said nothing. Jenkins at that
moment could neither have heard nor answered, and Mrs. Jenkins was out,
paying the driver.

The paroxysm was not over when she came in. She approached Jenkins,
slightly shook him--her mode of easing the cough--dived in his pockets
for his silk handkerchief, with which she wiped his brow, took off the
fur from his neck, waited until he was quiet, and began:

"I hope you are satisfied! If you are not, you ought to be. Who's to
know whether you'll get back alive? _I_ don't."

"What did he come for?" asked Mr. Galloway.

"Ah!" said Mrs. Jenkins, "that's just what I want to know! As if he
could do any good in the state he is! Look at him, sir."

Poor Jenkins, who was indeed a sight to be looked at, turned his wan
face upon Mr. Galloway.

"I cannot do much sir, I know; I wish I could: but I can sit in the
office--at least, I hope I can--just to take care of it while you are
out, sir, until you can find somebody to replace Mr. Roland."

"How did you know he was gone off?" demanded Mr. Galloway.

"It was in this way," interposed Mrs. Jenkins, ages before poor Jenkins
could gain breath to answer. "I was on my hands and knees, brushing the
fluff off my drawing-room carpet this morning, when I heard something
tearing up the stairs at the rate of a coach-and-six. Who should it be
but young Mr. Yorke, on his way to Jenkins in bed, without saying so
much as 'With your leave,' or 'By your leave.' A minute or two, and down
he came again, gave me a little touch of his impudence, and was gone
before I could answer. Well, sir, I kept on at my room, and when it was
done I went downstairs to see about the breakfast, never suspecting what
was going on with _him_"--pointing her finger at Jenkins. "I was pouring
out his tea when it was ready to take up to him, and putting a bit of
something on a plate, which I intended to make him eat, when I
heard somebody creeping down the stairs--stumbling, and panting, and
coughing--and out I rushed. There stood he--_he_, Mr. Galloway! dressed
and washed, as you see him now! he that has not got up lately till
evening, and me dressing him then! 'Have you took leave of your senses?'
said I to him. 'No,' said he, 'my dear, but I must go to the office
to-day: I can't help myself. Young Mr. Yorke's gone away, and there'll
be nobody.' 'And good luck go with him, for all the use he's of here,
getting you out of your bed,' said I. If Jenkins were as strong as he
used to be, Mr. Galloway, I should have felt tempted to treat him to a
shaking, and then, perhaps, he'd have remembered it!"

"Mr. Roland told me he was going away, sir, and that you had nobody to
replace him; indeed, I gathered that you were ignorant of the step,"
struck in the quiet, meek voice of poor Jenkins. "I could not stay away,
sir, knowing the perplexity you would be put to."

"No, it's my belief he could not," tartly chimed in Jenkins's lady. "He
would have tantalized himself into a fever. Why, Mr. Galloway, had I
marched him back to his bed and turned the key upon him, he'd have been
capable of letting himself down by a cord from his window, in the
face and eyes of all the street. Now, Jenkins, I'll have none of your
contradiction! you know you would."

"My dear, I am not contradicting; I am not well enough to contradict,"
panted poor Jenkins.

"He would have come off there and then, all by himself: he would, Mr.
Galloway, as I am a living sinner!" she hotly continued. "It's unbeknown
how he'd have got here--holding on by the wall, like a snail, or
fastening himself on to the tail of a cart; but try at it, in some way,
he would! Be quiet, Jenkins! How dare you attempt to interrupt!"

Poor Jenkins had not thought to interrupt; he was only making a movement
to pull off his great-coat. Mrs. Jenkins resumed:

"'No,' said I to him; 'if you must go, you shall be conveyed there, but
you don't start without your breakfast.' So I sat him down in his chair,
Mr. Galloway, and gave him his breakfast--such as it was! If there's one
thing that Jenkins is obstinate in, above all others, it's about eating.
Then I sent Lydia for a fly, and wrapped up his throat in my boa--and
that he wanted to fight against!--and here he is!"

"I wished to get here, sir, before you did," cried Jenkins, meekly.
"I knew the exertion would set me coughing at first, but, if I had sat
awhile before you saw me, I should not have seemed so incapable. I shall
be better presently, sir."

"What are you at with that coat?" tartly asked Mrs. Jenkins. "I declare
your hands are never at rest. Your coat's not to come off, Jenkins. The
office is colder than our parlour, and you'll keep it on."

Jenkins, humbly obeying, began to turn up the cuffs. "I can do a little
writing, sir," he said to Mr. Galloway, "Is there anything that is in a
hurry?"

"Jenkins," said Mr. Galloway, "I could not suffer you to write; I could
not keep you here. Were I to allow you to stop, in the state you are,
just to serve me, I should lay a weight upon my conscience."

Mrs. Jenkins looked up in triumph. "You hear, Jenkins! What did I tell
you? I said I'd let you have your way for once--'twas but the cost of
the fly; but that if Mr. Galloway kept you here, once he set eyes on
your poor creachy body, I'd eat him."

"Jenkins, my poor fellow!" said Mr. Galloway, gravely, "you must know
that you are not in a state to exert yourself. I shall not forget your
kindness; but you must go back at once. Why, the very draught from the
frequent opening of the door would do you an injury; the exertion of
speaking to answer callers would be too much for you."

"Didn't I tell you so, Jenkins, just in them very words?" interrupted
the lady.

"I am aware that I am not strong, sir," acknowledged Jenkins to Mr.
Galloway, with a deprecatory glance towards his wife to be allowed to
speak. "But it is better I should be put to a trifle of inconvenience
than that you should, sir. I can sit here, sir, while you are obliged to
be out, or occupied in your private room. What could you do, sir, left
entirely alone?"

"I don't know what I can do," returned Mr. Galloway, with an acidity of
tone equal to that displayed by Mrs. Jenkins, for the question recalled
all the perplexity of his position. "Sacrifice yourself to me, Jenkins,
you shall not. What absurd folly can have taken off Roland Yorke?" he
added. "Do you know?"

"No, sir, I don't. When Mr. Roland came in this morning, and said he
was really off, you might have knocked me down with a feather. He would
often get talking about Port Natal, but I never supposed it would come
to anything. Mr. Roland was one given to talk."

"He had some tea at our house the other night, and was talking about it
then," struck in Mrs. Jenkins. "He said he was worked to death."

"Worked to death!" satirically repeated Mr. Galloway.

"I'm afraid, sir, that, through my unfortunate absence, he has found the
work heavier, and he grew dissatisfied," said Jenkins. "It has troubled
me very much."

"You spoilt him, Jenkins; that's the fact," observed Mr. Galloway. "You
did his work and your own. Idle young dog! He'll get a sickener at Port
Natal."

"There's one thing to be thankful for, sir," said patient Jenkins, "that
he has his uncle, the earl, to fall back upon."

"Hark at him!" interrupted Mrs. Jenkins. "That's just like him! He'd be
'thankful' to hear that his worst enemy had an uncle to fall back upon.
That's Jenkins all over. But now, what is to be the next movement?" she
sharply demanded. "I must get back to my shop. Is he to come with me, or
to stop here--a spectacle for every one that comes in?"

But at this moment, before the question could be decided--though you may
rest assured Mrs. Jenkins would only allow it to be decided in her own
way--hasty footsteps were heard in the passage, and the door was thrown
open by Arthur Charming.



CHAPTER LII.


A RELIC FROM THE BURIAL-GROUND.

When Hamish Charming joined the breakfast-table at home that morning
at nine o'clock, he mentioned his adventure at the station with Lady
Augusta Yorke. It was the first intimation they had received of
Roland's departure; indeed, the first that some of them had heard of his
intention to depart.

Arthur laid down his knife and fork. To him alone could the full
consequences of the step present themselves, as regarded Mr. Galloway.

"Hamish! he cannot actually have gone?"

"That he is actually off by the train to London, I can certify," was
the reply of Hamish. "Whether he will be off to Port Natal, is another
thing. He desired me to tell you, Arthur, that he should write his adieu
to you from town."

"He might have come to see me," observed Arthur, a shade of resentment
in his tone. "I never thought he would really go."

"I did," said Hamish, "funds permitting him. If Lord Carrick will supply
those, he'll be off by the first comfortable ship that sails. His mind
was so completely bent upon it."

"What can he think of doing at Port Natal?" inquired Constance,
wonderingly.

"Making his fortune." But Hamish laughed as he said it. "Wherever I
may have met him latterly, his whole talk has been of Port Natal. Lady
Augusta says he is going to take out frying-pans to begin with."

"Hamish!"

"She said so, Constance. I have no doubt Roland said so to her. I should
like to see the sort of cargo he will lay in for the start."

"What does Mr. Galloway say to it, I wonder?" exclaimed Arthur, that
gentleman's perplexities presenting themselves to his mind above
everything else. "I cannot think what he will do."

"I have an idea that Mr. Galloway is as yet unaware of it," said Hamish.
"Roland assured me that no person whatever knew of his departure, except
Jenkins. He called upon him on his way to the station."

"Unaware of it!" Arthur fell into consternation great as Mr. Galloway's,
as he repeated the words. Was it possible that Roland had stolen a march
on Mr. Galloway? He relapsed into silence and thought.

"What makes you so sad?" Constance asked of Arthur later, when they were
dispersing to their several occupations.

"I am not sad, Constance; only thoughtful. I have been carrying on an
inward battle," he added, half laughingly.

"With your conscience?"

"With my spirit. It is a proud one yet, in spite of all I have had to
tame it; a great deal more rebellious than I like it to be."

"Why, what is the matter, Arthur?"

"Constance, I think I ought to come forward and help Mr. Galloway out of
this strait. I think my duty lies in doing it."

"To return to his office, you mean?"

"Yes; until he can see his way out of the wood. But it goes against the
grain."

"Arthur dear, I know you will do it," she gently said. "Were our duty
always pleasant to us, where would be the merit in fulfilling it?"

"I shall do it," he answered. "To that I have made up my mind. The
difficulty is, Constance, to do it with a good grace."

She looked at him with a loving smile. "Only try. A firm will, Arthur,
will conquer even a rebellious spirit."

Arthur knew it. He knew how to set about it. And a little later, he was
on his way to Close Street, with the best grace in the world. Not only
in appearance, mind you, but inwardly. It is a GREAT thing, reader, to
conquer the risings of a proud spirit! To bring it from its haughty,
rebellious pedestal, down to cordiality and love. Have you learnt the
way?

Some parchments under his arm, for he had stayed to collect them
together, Arthur bounded in to Mr. Galloway's. The first object his eyes
fell on was that shadowy form, coughing and panting. "Oh, Jenkins!" he
involuntarily uttered, "what do you do out of your house?"

"Anxiety for me has brought him out," said Mr. Galloway. "How can I
scold him?"

"I could not rest, sir, knowing my master was alone in his need," cried
Jenkins to Arthur. "What is to become of the office, sir, with no one in
it?"

"But he is not alone," said Arthur; and, if he had wanted a reward for
coming forward, that moment would have supplied it, in satisfying poor
Jenkins. "If you will allow me, sir," Arthur added, turning frankly to
Mr. Galloway, "I will take my place here, until you shall be suited."

"Thank you," emphatically replied Mr. Galloway. "It will relieve me from
a serious embarrassment."

Arthur went to his old desk, and sat down on his old stool, and began
settling the papers and other things on it, just as though he had not
been absent an hour. "I must still attend the cathedral as usual,
sir," he observed to Mr. Galloway; "but I can give you the whole of my
remaining time. I shall be better for you than no one."

"I would rather have you here than any one else, Channing; he"--laying
his hand on Jenkins's shoulder--"excepted. I offered that you should
return before."

"I know you did, sir," replied Arthur, in a brief tone--one that seemed
to intimate he would prefer not to pursue the subject.

"And now are you satisfied?" struck in Mrs. Jenkins to her husband.

"I am more than satisfied," answered Jenkins, clasping his hands. "With
Mr. Arthur in the office, I shall have no fear of its missing me, and I
can go home in peace, to die."

"Please just to hold your tongue about dying," reprimanded Mrs. Jenkins.
"Your business is to get well, if you can. And now I am going to see
after a fly. A pretty dance I should have had here, if he had persisted
in stopping, bringing him messes and cordials every half-hour! Which
would have worn out first, I wonder--the pavement or my shoes?"

"Channing," said Mr. Galloway, "let us understand each other. Have you
come here to do anything there may be to do--out of doors as well as in?
In short, to be my clerk as heretofore?"

"Of course I have, sir; until"--Arthur spoke very distinctly--"you shall
be able to suit yourself; not longer."

"Then take this paper round to Deering's office, and get it signed. You
will have time to do it before college."

Arthur's answer was to put on his hat, and vault away with the paper.
Jenkins turned to Mr. Galloway as soon as they were alone. "Oh, sir,
keep him in your office!" he earnestly said. "He will soon be of more
value to you than I have ever been!"

"That he will not, Jenkins. Nor any one else."

"Yes, he will, sir! He will be able to replace you in the chapter house
upon any emergency, and I never could do that, you know, sir, not being
a gentleman. When you have him to yourself alone, sir, you will see his
value; and I shall not be missed. He is steady and thoughtful beyond his
years, sir, and every day will make him older."

"You forget the charge against him, Jenkins. Until he shall be cleared of
that--if he can be cleared of it--he will not be of great value to any
one; certainly not to me."

"Sir," said Jenkins, raising his wan face, its hectic deepening, find
his eye lighting, while his voice sunk to a whisper, so deep as to
savour of solemnity, "that time will come! He never did it, and he will
as surely be cleared, as that I am now saying it! Sir, I have thought
much about this accusation; it has troubled me in sleep; but I know that
God will bring the right to light for those who trust in Him. If any one
ever trusted in God, it is Mr. Arthur Channing. I lie and think of all
this, sir. I seem to be so near God, now," Jenkins went on dreamily,
"that I know the right must come to light; that it will come in God's
own good time. And I believe I shall live to see it!"

"You have certainly firm faith in his innocence, Jenkins. How then do
you account for his very suspicious manner?"

"It does not weigh with me, sir. I could as soon believe a good
wholesome apple-tree would bring forth poison, as that Mr. Arthur would
be guilty of a deliberately bad action. Sometimes I have thought, sir,
when puzzling over it, that he may be screening another. There's no
telling how it was. I hear, sir, that the money has been returned to
you."

"Yes. Was it he who told you?"

"It was Mr. Roland Yorke who told me, sir. Mr. Roland is another, sir,
who has had firm faith in his innocence from the first."

"Much his faith goes for!" ejaculated Mr. Galloway, as he came back
from his private room with a letter, which he handed to Jenkins, who was
skilled in caligraphy. "What do you make of it?" he asked. "It is the
letter which came with the returned money."

"It is a disguised hand, sir--there's no doubt of that," replied
Jenkins, when he had surveyed it critically. "I do not remember to have
seen any person write like it."

Mr. Galloway took it back to his room, and presently a fly drove up with
Mrs. Jenkins inside it. Jenkins stood at the office door, hat in hand,
his face turned upon the room. Mrs. Jenkins came up and seized his arm,
to marshal him to the fly.

"I was but taking a farewell of things, sir," he observed to Mr.
Galloway. "I shall never see the old spot again."

Arthur arrived just as Jenkins was safely in. He put his hand over the
door. "Make yourself easy, Jenkins; it will all go on smoothly here.
Good-bye, old fellow! I'll come and see you very soon."

"How he breaks, does he not, sir?" exclaimed Arthur to Mr. Galloway.

"Ay! he's not long for this world!"

The fly proceeded on its way; Mrs. Jenkins, with her snappish manner,
though really not unkind heart, lecturing Jenkins on his various
shortcomings until it drew up at their own door. As Jenkins was being
helped down from it, one of the college boys passed at a great speed;
a railroad was nothing to it. It was Stephen Bywater. Something,
legitimate or illegitimate, had detained him, and now the college bell
was going.

He caught sight of Jenkins, and, hurried as he was, much of punishment
as he was bargaining for, it had such an effect upon him, that he pulled
up short. Was it Jenkins, or his ghost? Bywater had never been so struck
with any sight before.

The most appropriate way in which it occurred to him to give vent to his
surprise, was to prop his back against the shop door, and indulge in a
soft, prolonged whistle. He could not take his eyes from Jenkins's face.
"Is it you, or your shadow, Jenkins?" he asked, making room for the
invalid to pass.

"It's myself, sir, thank you. I hope you are well, sir."

"Oh, I'm always jolly," replied Bywater, and then he began to whistle
again.

He followed Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins into the shop with his eyes; that is,
they followed Jenkins. Bywater had heard, as a matter of necessity, of
Jenkins's illness, and had given as much thought to it as he would have
done if told Jenkins had a headache; but to fancy him like _this_ had
never occurred to Bywater.

Now somewhere beneath Bywater's waistcoat, there really was a little bit
of heart; and, as he thus looked, a great fear began to thump against
it. He followed Jenkins into the parlour. Mrs. Jenkins, after divesting
Jenkins of his coat, and her boa, planted him right before the fire in
his easy-chair, with a pillow at his back, and was now whisking down
into the kitchen, regardless of certain customers waiting in the shop to
be served.

Bywater, unasked, sat himself in a chair near to poor Jenkins and his
panting breath, and indulged in another long stare. "I say, Jenkins,"
said he, "what's the matter with you?"

Jenkins took the question literally. "I believe it may be called a sort
of decline, sir. I don't know any other name for it."

"Shan't you get well?"

"Oh no, sir! I don't look for that, now."

The fear thumped at Bywater's heart worse than before. A past vision of
locking up old Ketch in the cloisters, through which pastime Jenkins had
come to a certain fall, was uncomfortably present to Bywater just then.
He had been the ringleader.

"What brought it on?" asked he.

"Well, sir, I suppose it was to come," meekly replied Jenkins. "I
have had a bad cough, spring and autumn, for a long while now, Master
Bywater. My brother went off just the same, sir, and so did my mother."

Bywater pushed his honest, red face, forward; but it did not look quite
so impudent as usual. "Jenkins," said he, plunging headlong into the
fear, "DID--THAT--FALL--DO--IT?"

"Fall, sir! What fall?"

"That fall down from the organ loft. Because that was my fault. I had
the most to do with locking up the cloisters, that night."

"Oh, bless you, sir, no! Never think that. Master Bywater"--lowering his
voice till it was as grave as Bywater's--"that fall did me good--good,
sir, instead of harm."

"How do you make out that?" asked Bywater, drawing his breath a little
easier.

"Because, sir, in the few days' quiet that I had in bed, my thoughts
seemed in an unaccountable manner to be drawn to thinking of heaven. I
can't rightly describe, sir, how or why it could have been. I remember
his lordship, the bishop, talked to me a little bit in his pleasant,
affable way, about the necessity of always, being prepared; and my
wife's Bible lay on the drawers by my bed's head, and I used to pick up
that. But I don't think it was either of those causes much; I believe,
sir, that it was God Himself working in my heart. I believe He sent the
fall in His mercy. After I got up, I seemed to know that I should soon
go to Him; and--I hope it is not wrong to say it--I seemed to wish to
go."

Bywater felt somewhat puzzled. "I am not speaking about your heart and
religion, and all that, Jenkins. I want to know if the fall helped to
bring on this illness?"

"No, sir; it had nothing to do with it. The fall hurt my head a
little--nothing more; and I got well from it directly. This illness,
which has been taking me off, must have been born with me."

"Hoo--" Bywater's shout, as he tossed up his trencher, was broken in
upon by Mrs. Jenkins. She had been beating up an egg with sugar and
wine, and now brought it in in a tumbler.

"My dear," said Jenkins, "I don't feel to want it."

"Not want it!" said Mrs. Jenkins resolutely. And in two seconds she had
taken hold of him, and it was down his throat. "I can't stop parleying
here all day, with my shop full of customers." Bywater laughed, and she
retreated.

"If I could eat gold, sir, she'd get it for me," said Jenkins; "but my
appetite fails. She's a good wife, Master Bywater."

"Stunning," acquiesced Bywater. "I wouldn't mind a wife myself, if she'd
feed me up with eggs and wine."

"But for her care, sir, I should not have lasted so long. She has had
great experience with the sick."

Bywater did not answer. Rising to go, his eyes had fixed themselves upon
some object on the mantelpiece as pertinaciously as they had previously
been fixed upon Jenkins's face. "I say, Jenkins, where did you get
this?" he exclaimed.

"That, sir? Oh, I remember. My old father brought it in yesterday.
He had cut his hand with it. Where now did he say he found it? In the
college burial-ground, I think, Master Bywater."

It was part of a small broken phial, of a peculiar shape, which had once
apparently contained ink; an elegant shape, it may be said, not unlike
a vase. Bywater began turning it about in his fingers; he was literally
feasting his eyes upon it.

"Do you want to keep it, Jenkins?"

"Not at all, sir. I wonder my wife did not throw it away before this."

"I'll take it, then," said Bywater, slipping it into his pocket. "And
now I'm off. Hope you'll get better, Jenkins."

"Thank you, sir. Let me put the broken bottle in paper, Master Bywater.
You will cut your fingers if you carry it loose in your pocket."

"Oh, that be bothered!" answered Bywater. "Who cares for cut fingers?"

He pushed himself through Mrs. Jenkins's customers, with as little
ceremony as Roland Yorke might have used, and went flying towards the
cathedral. The bell ceased as he entered. The organ pealed forth; and
the dean and chapter, preceded by some of the bedesmen, were entering
from the opposite door. Bywater ensconced himself behind a pillar, until
they should have traversed the body, crossed the nave, and were safe
in the choir. Then he came out, and made his way to old Jenkins the
bedesman.

The old man, in his black gown, stood near the bell ropes, for he had
been one of the ringers that day. Bywater noticed that his left hand was
partially tied up in a handkerchief.

"Holloa, old Jenkins," said he, _sotte voce_, "what have you done with
your hand?"

"I gave it a nasty cut yesterday, sir, just in the ball of the thumb. I
wrapped my handkerchief round it just now, for fear of opening it again,
while I was ringing the bell. See," said he, taking off the handkerchief
and showing the cut to Bywater.

"What an old muff you must be, to cut yourself like that!"

"But I didn't do it on purpose," returned the old man. "We was ordered
into the burial-ground to put it a bit to rights, and I fell down with
my hand on a broken phial. I ain't as active as I was. I say, though,
sir, do you know that service has begun?"

"Let it begin," returned careless Bywater. "This was the bottle you fell
over, was it not? I found it on Joe's mantelpiece, just now."

"Ay, that was it. It must have laid there some time. A good three
months, I know."

Bywater nodded his head. He returned the bottle to his pocket, and went
to the vestry for his surplice. Then he slid into college under the
severe eyes of the Reverend Mr. Pye, which were bent upon him from the
chanting-desk, and ascended, his stall just in time to take his part in
the _Venite, exultemus Domino_.



CHAPTER LIII.


THE RETURN HOME.

It almost seemed, to Mr. Channing's grateful heart, as if the weather
had prolonged its genial warmth on purpose for him. A more charming
autumn had never been known at Borcette, and up to the very hour of
Mr. Channing's departure, there were no signs of winter. Taking it as a
whole, it had been the same at Helstonleigh. Two or three occasional wet
days, two or three cold and windy ones; but they soon passed over and
people remarked to each other how this fine weather would shorten the
winter.

Never did November turn out a more lovely day than the one that was to
witness Mr. Channing's return. The sun shone brightly; the blue sky was
without a cloud. All Nature seemed to have put on a smiling face to give
him welcome. And yet--to what was he returning?

For once in his life, Hamish Channing shrank from meeting his father and
mother. How should he break the news to them? They were arriving full of
joy, of thankfulness at the restoration to health of Mr. Channing: how
could Hamish mar it with the news regarding Charles? Told it must be;
and he must be the one to do it. In good truth, Hamish was staggered at
the task. His own hopeful belief that Charley would some day "turn
up," was beginning to die out; for every hour that dragged by, without
bringing him, certainly gave less and less chance of it. And even if
Hamish had retained hope himself, it was not likely he could impart it
to Mr. or Mrs. Channing.

"I shall get leave from school this afternoon," Tom suddenly exclaimed
that morning at breakfast.

"For what purpose?" inquired Hamish.

"To go up to the station and meet them."

"No, Tom. You must not go to the station."

"Who says so?" sharply cried Tom.

"I do," replied Hamish.

"I dare say! that's good!" returned Tom, speaking in his hasty spirit.
"You know you are going yourself, Hamish, and yet you would like to
deprive me of the same pleasure. Why, I wouldn't miss being there for
anything! Don't say, Hamish, that you are never selfish."

Hamish turned upon him with a smile, but his tone changed to sadness.
"I wish with all my heart, Tom, that you or some one else, could go and
meet them, instead of myself, and undertake what I shall have to do.
I can tell you I never had a task imposed upon me that I found so
uncongenial as the one I must go through this day."

Tom's voice dropped a little of its fierce shade. "But, Hamish, there's
no reason why I should not meet them at the station. That will not make
it the better or the worse for you."

"I will tell you why I think you should not," replied Hamish; "why
it will be better that you should not. It is most desirable that they
should be home, here, in this house, before the tidings are broken to
them. I should not like them to hear of it in the streets, or at the
station; especially my mother."

"Of course not," assented Tom.

"And, were you at the station," quietly went on Hamish to him, "the
first question would be, 'Where's Charley?' If Tom Channing can get
leave of absence from school, Charley can."

"I could say--"

"Well?" said Hamish, for Tom had stopped.

"I don't know what I could say," acknowledged Tom.

"Nor I. My boy, I have thought it over, and the conclusion I come to, if
you appear at the station, is this: either that the tidings must be told
to them, then and there, or else an evasion, bordering upon an untruth.
If they do not see you there, they will not inquire particularly after
Charles; they will suppose you are both in school."

"I declare I never set my mind upon a thing but something starts in to
frustrate it!" cried Tom, in vexation. But he relinquished his intention
from that moment.

Chattering Annabel threw up her head. "As soon as papa and mamma come
home, we shall put on mourning, shall we not? Constance was talking
about it with Lady Augusta."

"Do not talk of mourning, child," returned Hamish. "_I_ can't give him
up, if you do."

Afternoon came, and Hamish proceeded alone to the station. Tom,
listening to the inward voice of reason, was in school, and Arthur
was occupied in the cathedral; the expected hour of their arrival was
towards the close of afternoon service. Hamish had boasted that he
should _walk_ his father through Helstonleigh for the benefit of
beholders, if happily he came home capable of walking; but, like poor
Tom and _his_ plan, that had to be relinquished. In the first half-dozen
paces they would meet half a dozen gossipers, and the first remark from
each, after congratulations, would be, "What a sad thing this is about
your little Charles!" Hamish lived in doubt whether it might not, by
some untoward luck, come out at the station, in spite of his precaution
in keeping away Tom.

But, so far, all went well. The train came in to its time, and Hamish,
his face lighted with excitement, saw his father once more in possession
of his strength, descending without assistance from the carriage,
walking alone on the platform. Not in the full strength and power of
old; that might never be again. He stooped slightly, and moved slowly,
as if his limbs were yet stiff, limping a little. But that he was now
in a sound state of health was evident; his face betrayed it. Hamish did
not know whose hands to clasp first; his, or his mother's.

"Can you believe that it is myself, Hamish?" asked Mr. Channing, when
the first few words of thankful greeting had passed.

"I should hide my head for ever as a false prophet if it could be any
one else," was the reply of Hamish. "You know I always said you would so
return. I am only in doubt whether it is my mother."

"What is the matter with me, Hamish?" asked Mrs. Channing. "Because you
would make about two of the thin, pale, careworn Mrs. Channing who went
away," cried he, turning his mother round to look at her, deep love
shining out from his gay blue eyes. "I hope you have not taken to rouge
your cheeks, ma'am, but I am bound to confess they look uncommonly like
it."

Mrs. Channing laughed merrily. "It has done me untold good, Hamish, as
well as papa; it seems to have set me up for years to come. Seeing
him grow better day by day would have effected it, without any other
change."

Mr. Channing had actually gone himself to see after the luggage. How
strange it seemed! Hamish caught him up. "If you can give yourself
trouble now, sir, there's no reason that you should do so, while you
have your great lazy son at your elbow."

"Hamish, boy, I am proud of doing it."

It was soon collected. Hamish hastily, if not carelessly, told a porter
to look to it, took Mr. Channing's arm, and marched him to the fly,
which Mrs. Channing had already found. Hamish was in lively dread of
some officious friend or other coming up, who might drop a hint of the
state of affairs.

"Shall I help you in, father!"

"I can help myself now, Hamish. I remember you promised me I should have
no fly on my return. You have thought better of it."

"Yes, sir, wishing to get you home before bed-time, which might not be
the case if you were to show yourself in the town, and stop at all the
interruptions."

Mr. Channing stepped into the fly. Hamish followed, first giving the
driver a nod. "The luggage! The luggage!" exclaimed Mrs. Channing, as
they moved off.

"The porter will bring it, mother. He would have been a month putting it
on to the fly."

How could they suppose anything was the matter? Not a suspicion of it
ever crossed them. Never had Hamish appeared more light-hearted. In
fact, in his self-consciousness, Hamish a little overdid it. Let him get
them home before the worst came!

"We find you all well, I conclude!" said Mrs. Channing. "None of them
came up with you! Arthur is in college, I suppose, and Tom and Charles
are in school."

"It was Arthur's hour for college," remarked Hamish, ignoring the rest
of the sentence. "But he ought to be out now. Arthur is at Galloway's
again," he added. "He did not write you word, I believe, as you were so
shortly expected home."

Mr. Channing turned a glance on his son, quick as lightning. "Cleared,
Hamish?"

"In my opinion, yes. In the opinion of others, I fear not much more than
he was before."

"And himself?" asked Mr. Channing. "What does he say now?"

"He does not speak of it to me."

Hamish put his head out at the window, nodding to some one who was
passing. A question of Mr. Channing's called it in again.

"Why has he gone back to Galloway's?"

Hamish laughed. "Roland Yorke took an impromptu departure one fine
morning, for Port Natal, leaving the office and Mr. Galloway to do
the best they could with each other. Arthur buried his grievances and
offered himself to Mr. Galloway in the emergency. I am not quite sure
that I should have been so forgiving."

"Hamish! He has nothing to forgive Mr. Galloway. It is on the other
side."

"I am uncharitable, I suppose," remarked Hamish. "I cannot like Mr.
Galloway's treatment of Arthur."

"But what is it you say about Roland Yorke and Port Natal?" interposed
Mrs. Channing. "I do not understand."

"Roland is really gone, mother. He has been in London these ten days,
and it is expected that every post will bring news that he has sailed.
Roland has picked up a notion somewhere that Port Natal is an enchanted
land, converting poor men into rich ones; and he is going to try what it
will do for him, Lord Carrick fitting him out. Poor Jenkins is sinking
fast."

"Changes! changes!" remarked Mr. Channing. "Go away only for two or
three months, and you must find them on return. Some gone; some dying;
some--"

"Some restored, who were looked upon as incurable," interrupted Hamish.
"My dear father, I will not have you dwell on dark things the very
moment of your arrival; the time for that will come soon enough."

Judy nearly betrayed all; and Constance's aspect might have betrayed it,
had the travellers been suspicious. She, Constance, came forward in the
hall, white and trembling. When Mrs. Channing shook hands with Judy,
she put an unfortunate question--"Have you taken good care of your boy?"
Judy knew it could only allude to Charles, and for answer there went
up a sound, between a cry and a sob, that might have been heard in the
far-off college schoolroom. Hamish took Judy by the shoulders, bidding
her go out and see whether any rattletraps were left in the fly, and so
turned it off.

They were all together in the sitting-room--Mr. and Mrs. Channing,
Hamish, Constance, Arthur, and Annabel; united, happy, as friends are
and must be when meeting after a separation; talking of this and of
that, giving notes of what had occurred on either side. Hamish showed
himself as busy as the rest; but Hamish felt all the while upon a bed of
thorns, for the hands of the timepiece were veering on for five, and
he must get the communication over before Tom came in. At length
Mrs. Channing went up to her room, accompanied by Constance; Annabel
followed. And now came Hamish's opportunity. Arthur had gone back to
Mr. Galloway's, and he was alone with his father. He plunged into it at
once; indeed, there was no time for delay.

"Father!" he exclaimed, with deep feeling, his careless manner changing
as by magic: "I have very grievous news to impart to you. I would not
enter upon it before my mother: though she must be told of it also, and
at once."

Mr. Channing was surprised; more surprised than alarmed. He never
remembered to have seen Hamish betray so much emotion. A thought crossed
his mind that Arthur's guilt might have been brought clearly to light.

"Not that," said Hamish. "It concerns--Father, I do not like to enter
upon it! I shrink from my task. It is very bad news indeed."

"You, my children, are all well," cried Mr. Channing, hastily speaking
the words as a fact, not as a question. "What other 'very bad' news can
be in store for me?"

"You have not seen us all," was Hamish's answer. And Mr. Channing,
alarmed, now looked inquiringly at him. "It concerns Charles. An--an
accident has happened to him."

Mr. Channing sat down and shaded his eyes. He was a moment or two before
he spoke. "One word, Hamish; is he dead?"

Hamish stood before his father and laid his hand affectionately upon his
shoulder. "Father, I _wish_ I could have prepared you better for it!" he
exclaimed, with emotion. "We do not know whether he is dead or alive."

Then he explained--explained more in summary than in detail--touching
lightly upon the worst features of the case, enlarging upon his own
hopeful view of it. Bad enough it was, at the best, and Mr. Channing
found it so. _He_ could feel no hope. In the revulsion of grief, he
turned almost with resentment upon Hamish.

"My son, I did not expect this treatment from you."

"I have taken enough blame to myself; I know he was left in my charge,"
sadly replied Hamish; "but, indeed, I do not see how I could have helped
it. Although I was in the room when he ran out of it, I was buried in my
own thoughts, and never observed his going. I had no suspicion anything
was astir that night with the college boys. Father, I would have saved
his life with my own!"

"I am not blaming you for the fact, Hamish; blame is not due to you. Had
I been at home myself, I might no more have stopped his going out than
you did. But you ought to have informed me of this instantly. A whole
month, and I to be left in ignorance!"

"We did it for the best. Father, I assure you that not a stone has been
left unturned to find him; alive, or--or dead. You could not have done
more had you hastened home; and it has been so much suspense and grief
spared to you."

Mr. Channing relapsed into silence. Hamish glanced uneasily to that
ever-advancing clock. Presently he spoke.

"My mother must be told before Tom comes home. It will be better that
you take the task upon yourself, father. Shall I send her in?"

Mr. Channing looked at Hamish, as if he scarcely understood the meaning
of the words. From Hamish he looked to the clock. "Ay; go and send her."

Hamish went to his mother's room, and returned with her. But he did not
enter. He merely opened the door, and shut her in. Constance, with a
face more frightened than ever, came and stood in the hall. Annabel
stood there also. Judy, wringing her hands, and sending off short
ejaculations in an undertone, came to join them, and Sarah stood peeping
out from the kitchen door. They remained gazing at the parlour door,
dreading the effect of the communication that was going on inside.

"If it had been that great big Tom, it wouldn't matter so much," wailed
Judith, in a tone of resentment. "The missis would know that _he'd_ be
safe to turn up, some time or other; a strong fellow like him!"

A sharp cry within the room. The door was flung open, and Mrs. Channing
came forth, her face pale, her hands lifted. "It cannot be true! It
cannot be! Hamish! Judith! Where is he?"

Hamish folded her hands in his, and gently drew her in again. They all
followed. No reason why they should not, now that the communication was
made. Almost at the same moment, Mr. Huntley arrived.

Of course, the first thought that had occurred to the minds of Mr. and
Mrs. Channing was, that had _they_ been at home to direct affairs in
the search, Charley would have been found. It is the thought that would
occur to us all: we never give others credit for doing as much as we
should have done. "This might have been tried, and the other might have
been tried." It makes little difference when told that they _have_ been
tried; for then we fall back upon some other suggestion. Mrs. Channing
reproached Hamish with keeping it from them.

"My dear lady, you must blame me, not him," interposed Mr. Huntley.
"Left to himself, Hamish would have started Arthur off to you, post
haste. It was I who suggested the desirability of keeping you in
ignorance; it was I who brought Hamish to see it: and I know that, when
the brunt of your grief shall have passed, you will acknowledge that it
was the best, the wisest, and the kindest course."

"But there are so many things that we could have suggested; that perhaps
none but a father or mother would think of!" urged Mrs. Channing,
lifting her yearning face. They wished they could see her weep.

"You could have suggested nothing that has not been done," returned
Mr. Huntley. "Believe me, dear Mrs. Channing! We have had many good
counsellors. Butterby has conducted the search."

Mr. Channing turned to them. He was standing at the far window. "I
should like to see Butterby."

"He will be here in an hour's time," said Hamish. "I knew you would wish
to see him, and I requested him to come."

"The worst feature of the whole," put in Judith, with as much acrimony
as ever was displayed by Mr. Ketch, "is that them boys should not have
got their deserts. They have not as much as had a birching; and I say
that the college masters ought to be hooted. I'd 'ghost' 'em!"

"The punishment lies in abeyance for the present," explained Hamish.
"A different punishment from any the head-master could inflict will be
required, should--should--" Hamish stopped. He did not like to say, in
the presence of his mother, "should the body be found." "Some of them
are suffering pretty well, as it is," he continued, after a brief pause.
"Master Bill Simms lay in bed for a week with fright, and they were
obliged to have Mr. Hurst to him. Report goes, that Hurst soundly
flogged his son, by way of commencing his share."

A pushing open of the outer door, a bang, and hasty footsteps in the
hall. Tom had arrived. Tom, with his sparkling eyes, his glowing face.
They sparkled for his father only in that first moment; his father, who
turned and _walked_ to meet him.

"Oh, papa! What baths those must be!" cried honest Tom. "If ever I get
rich, I'll go over there and make them a present of a thousand pounds.
To think that nothing else should have cured you!"

"I think something else must have had a hand in curing me, Tom."

Tom looked up inquiringly. "Ah, papa! You mean God."

"Yes, my boy. God has cured me. The baths were only instruments in His
hands."



CHAPTER LIV.


"THE SHIP'S DROWNED."

Rejecting all offers of refreshment--the meal which Constance had
planned, and Judith prepared, both with so much loving care--Mr.
Channing resolved to seek out Butterby at once. In his state of
suspense, he could neither wait, nor eat, nor remain still; it would be
a satisfaction only to see Butterby, and hear his opinion.

Mr. Huntley accompanied him; scarcely less proud than Hamish would have
been, to walk once more arm in arm with Mr. Channing. But, as there is
not the least necessity for our going to the police-station, for Mr.
Butterby could tell us no more than we already know; we will pay a short
visit to Mr. Stephen Bywater.

That gentleman stood in the cloisters, into which he had seduced old
Jenkins, the bedesman, having waited for the twilight hour, that he
might make sure no one else would be there. Ever since the last day you
saw old Jenkins in the cathedral, he had been laid up in his house, with
a touch of what he called his "rheumatiz." Decrepit old fellows were all
the bedesmen, monopolizing enough "rheumatiz" between them for half the
city. If one was not laid up, another would be, especially in winter.
However, old Jenkins had come out again to-day, to the gratification of
Mr. Bywater, who had been wanting him. The cloisters were all but dark,
and Mr. Ketch must undoubtedly be most agreeably engaged, or he would
have shut up before.

"Now then, old Jenkins!" Bywater was saying. "You show me the exact
spot, and I'll give you sixpence for smoke."

Old Jenkins hobbled to one of the mullioned windows near to the college
entrance, and looked over into the dim graveyard. "'Twas about four or
five yards off here," said he.

"But I want to know the precise spot," returned Bywater. "Get over, and
show me!"

The words made old Jenkins laugh. "Law, sir! me get over there! You
might as well ask me to get over the college. How am I to do it?"

"I'll hoist you up," said Bywater.

"No, no," answered the man. "My old bones be past hoisting now. I should
never get back alive, once I were propelled over into that graveyard."

Bywater felt considerably discomfited. "What a weak rat you must be, old
Jenkins! Why, it's nothing!"

"I know it ain't--for you college gents. 'Twouldn't have been much for
me when I was your age. Skin and clothes weren't of much account to me,
then."

"Oh, it's that, is it?" returned Bywater, contemptuously. "Look here,
old Jenkins! if your things come to grief, I'll get my uncle to look you
out some of his old ones. I'll give you sixpence for baccy, I say!"

The old bedesman shook his head. "If you give me a waggin load of baccy,
I couldn't get over there. You might just as good put a babby in arms on
the ground, and tell it to walk!"

"Here! get out of the way for an old muff!" was Bywater's rejoinder;
and in a second he had mounted the window-frame, and dropped into the
burial-ground. "Now then, old Jenkins, I'll go about and you call out
when I come to the right spot."

By these means, Bywater arrived at a solution of the question, where the
broken phial was found; old Jenkins pointing out the spot, to the best
of his ability. Bywater then vaulted back again, and alighted safe and
sound in the cloisters. Old Jenkins asked for his sixpence.

"Why, you did not earn it!" said Bywater. "You wouldn't get over!"

"A sixpence is always useful to me," said the old man; "and some of you
gents has 'em in plenty. I ain't paid much; and Joe, he don't give me
much. 'Tain't him; he'd give away his head, and always would--it's her.
Precious close she is with the money, though she earns a sight of it,
I know, at that shop of her'n, and keeps Joe like a king. Wine, and all
the rest of it, she's got for him, since he was ill. 'There's a knife
and fork for ye, whenever ye like to come,' she says to me, in her tart
way. But deuce a bit of money will she give. If it weren't for one and
another friend giving me an odd sixpence now and then, Master Bywater, I
should never hardly get any baccy!"

"There; don't bother!" said Bywater, dropping the coin into his hand.

"Why, bless my heart, who's this, a prowling in the cloisters at this
hour?" exclaimed a well-known cracked voice, advancing upon them with
shuffling footsteps. "What do you do here, pray?"

"You would like to know, wouldn't you, Mr. Calcraft?" said Bywater.
"Studying architecture. There!"

Old Ketch gave a yell of impotent rage, and Bywater decamped, as fast as
his legs would carry him, through the west door.

Arrived at his home, or rather his uncle's, where he lived--for
Bywater's paternal home was in a far-away place, over the sea--he went
straight up to his own room, where he struck a match, and lighted a
candle. Then he unlocked a sort of bureau, and took from it the phial
found by old Jenkins, and a smaller piece which exactly fitted into the
part broken. He had fitted them in ten times before, but it appeared to
afford him satisfaction, and he now sat down and fitted them again.

"Yes," soliloquized he, as he nursed one of his legs--his favourite
attitude--"it's as sure as eggs. And I'd have had it out before, if that
helpless old muff of a Jenkins had been forthcoming. I knew it was safe
to be somewhere near the college gates; but it was as Well to ask."

He turned the phial over and over between his eye and the candle, and
resumed;

"And now I'll give Mr. Ger a last chance. I told him the other day that
if he'd only speak up like a man to me, and say it was an accident, I'd
drop it for good. But he won't. And find it out, I will. I have said I
would from the first, just for my own satisfaction: and if I break my
word, may they tar and feather me! Ger will only have himself to thank;
if he won't satisfy me in private, I'll bring it against him in public.
I suspected Mr. Ger before; not but that I suspected another; but since
Charley Channing----Oh! bother, though! I don't want to get thinking of
_him_!"

Bywater locked up his treasures, and descended to his tea. That over,
he had enough lessons to occupy him for a few hours, and keep him out of
mischief.

Meanwhile Mr. Channing's interview with the renowned Mr. Butterby had
brought forth nothing, and he was walking back home with Mr. Huntley.
Mr. Huntley strove to lead his friend's thoughts into a different
channel: it seemed quite a mockery to endeavour to whisper hope for
Charley.

"You will resume your own place in Guild Street at once?" he observed.

"To-morrow, please God."

They walked a few steps further in silence; and then Mr. Channing
entered upon the very subject which Mr. Huntley was hoping he would not
enter upon. "I remember, you spoke, at Borcette, of having something in
view for Hamish, should I be able to attend to business again. What is
it?"

"I did," said Mr. Huntley; "and I am sorry that I did. I spoke
prematurely."

"I suppose it is gone?"

"Well--no; it is not gone," replied Mr. Huntley, who was above
equivocation. "I do not think Hamish would suit the place."

Mr. Channing felt a little surprised. There were few places that Hamish
might not suit, if he chose to exercise his talents. "You thought he
would suit then?" he remarked.

"But circumstances have since induced me to alter my opinion," said Mr.
Huntley. "My friend," he more warmly added to Mr. Channing, "you will
oblige me by allowing the subject to drop. I candidly confess to you
that I am not so pleased with Hamish as I once was, and I would rather
not interfere in placing him elsewhere."

"How has he offended you? What has he done?"

"Nay, that is all I will say. I could not help giving you a hint, to
account for what you might have thought caprice. Hamish has not pleased
me, and I cannot take him by the hand. There, let it rest."

Mr. Channing was content to let it rest. In his inmost heart he
entertained no doubt that the cause of offence was in some way connected
with Mr. Huntley's daughter. Hamish was poor: Ellen would be rich;
therefore it was only natural that Mr. Huntley should consider him an
ineligible _parti_ for her. Mr. Channing did not quite see what that had
to do with the present question; but he could not, in delicacy, urge it
further.

They found quite a levee when they entered: the Reverend Mr. Pye, Mr.
Galloway--who had called in with Arthur upon leaving the office for the
night--and William Yorke. All were anxious to welcome and congratulate
Mr. Channing; and all were willing to tender a word of sympathy
respecting Charles. Possibly Mr. Yorke had also another motive: if so,
we shall come to it in due time.

Mr. Pye stayed only a few minutes. He did not say a word about the
seniorship, neither did Mr. Channing to him. What, indeed, could either
of them say? The subject was unpleasant on both sides; therefore it was
best avoided. Tom, however, thought differently.

"Papa!" he exclaimed, plunging into it the moment Mr. Pye's back was
turned, "you might have taken the opportunity to tell him that I shall
leave the school. It is not often he comes here."

"But you are not going to leave the school," said Mr. Channing.

"Yes, I am," replied Tom, speaking with unmistakable firmness. "Hamish
made me stay on, until you came home; and I don't know how I have done
it. It is of no use, papa! I cannot put up with the treatment--the
insults I receive. It was bad enough to lose the seniorship, but that is
as nothing to the other. And to what end should I stop, when my chance
of the exhibition is gone?"

"It is not gone, Tom. Mr. Huntley--as word was written to me at
Borcette--has declined it for his son."

"It is not the less gone for me, papa. Let me merit it as I will, I
shall not be allowed to receive it, any more than I did the seniorship.
I am out of favour, both with master and boys; and you know what that
means, in a public school. If you witnessed the way I am served by the
boys, you would be the first to say I must leave."

"What do they do?" asked Mr. Channing.

"They do enough to provoke my life out of me," said Tom, falling into a
little of his favourite heat. "Were it myself only that they attacked,
I might perhaps stop and brave it out; but it is not so. They go on
against Arthur in a way that would make a saint mad."

"Pooh, pooh!" interposed Mr. Galloway, who was standing by. "If I am
content to accept Arthur's innocence, surely the college school may be."

Mr. Channing turned to the proctor. "Do you now believe him innocent?"

"I say I am content to accept his innocence," was the reply of Mr.
Galloway; and Arthur, who was within hearing, could only do as he had
had to do so many times before--school his spirit to patience. "Content
to accept," and open exculpation, were essentially different things.

"Let me speak with you a minute, Galloway," said Mr. Channing, taking
the proctor's arm and leading him across the hall to the drawing-room.
"Tom," he added, looking back, "you shall tell me of these grievances
another time."

The drawing-room door closed upon them, and Mr. Channing spoke with
eagerness. "Is it possible that you still suspect Arthur to have been
guilty?"

"Channing, I am fairly puzzled," returned Mr. Galloway, "His own manner,
relating to it, has not changed, and that manner is not compatible with
innocence, You made the same remark yourself, at the time."

"But you have had the money returned to you, I understand."

"I know I have."

"Well, that surely is a proof that the thief could not have been
Arthur."

"Pardon me," replied Mr. Galloway, "It may be a proof as much against
him as for him: it may have come from himself."

"Nay, where was Arthur to find twenty pounds to send to you?"

"There are two ways in which he might find it. But"--Mr. Galloway broke
off abruptly--"I do not like to urge these things on you; they can only
inflict pain."

"Not greater pain than I have already undergone," was Mr. Channing's
answer. "Tell me, I pray you, all your thoughts--all you suspect: just
as though you were speaking to any indifferent friend. It is right that
I should know it. Yes, come in, Huntley," Mr. Channing added, for Mr.
Huntley at that moment opened the door, unconscious that any private
conference was going forward. "I have no secrets from you. Come in. We
are talking of Arthur."

"I was observing that there are two means by which the money could have
come from Arthur," resumed Mr. Galloway, when Mr. Huntley had entered.
"The one, by his never having used the note originally taken; the other,
by getting a friend to return it for him. Now, my opinion is, that he
did not pursue the first plan, I believe that, if he took the note,
he used it. I questioned him on the evening of its arrival, and at the
first moment his manner almost convinced me that he was innocent. He
appeared to be genuinely surprised at the return of the money, and
ingenuously confessed that he had not possessed any to send. But his
manner veered again--suddenly, strangely--veered round to all its old
unsatisfactory suspiciousness; and when I hinted that I should recall
Butterby to my counsels, he became agitated, as he had done formerly. My
firm belief," Mr. Galloway added, laying his hand impressively upon Mr.
Channing--"my firm belief is, that Arthur did get the money sent back to
me through a friend."

"But what friend would be likely to do such a thing for him?" debated
Mr. Channing, not in the least falling in with the argument. "I know of
none."

"I think"--and Mr. Galloway dropped his voice--"that it came from
Hamish."

"From Hamish!" was Mr. Channing's echo, in a strong accent of dissent.
"That is nonsense. Hamish would never screen guilt. Hamish has not
twenty pounds to spare."

"He might spare it in the cause of a brother; and for a brother's sake
he might even screen guilt," pursued Mr. Galloway. "Honourable and open
as Hamish is, I must still express my belief that the twenty pounds came
from him."

"Honourable and open as Hamish is!" the words grated on Mr. Huntley, and
a cynical expression rose to his face. Mr. Channing observed it. "What
do you think of it?" he involuntarily asked.

"I have never had any other opinion but that the money did come from
Hamish," drily remarked Mr. Huntley. And Mr. Channing, in his utter
astonishment, could not answer.

"Hamish happened to call in at my office the afternoon that the money
was received," resumed Mr. Galloway. "It was after I had spoken to
Arthur. I had been thinking it over, and came to the conclusion that
if it had come from Arthur, Hamish must have done it for him. In the
impulse of the moment, I put the question to him--Had he done it to
screen Arthur? And Hamish's answer was a mocking one."

"A mocking one!" repeated Mr. Channing. "A mocking, careless answer; one
that vexed me, I know, at the time. The next day I told Arthur, point
blank, that I believed the money came from Hamish. I wish you could have
seen his flush of confusion! and, deny it, he did not. Altogether, my
impression against Arthur was rather confirmed, than the contrary, by
the receipt of the money; though I am truly grieved to have to say it."

"And _you_ think the same!" Mr. Channing exclaimed to Mr. Huntley.

"Never mind what I think," was the answer. "Beyond the one opinion I
expressed, I will not be drawn into the discussion. I did not intend to
say so much: it was a slip of the tongue."

Mr. Huntley was about to leave the room as he spoke, perhaps lest he
should make other "slips;" but Mr. Channing interposed and drew him
back. "Stay, Huntley," he said, "we cannot rest in this uncertainty.
Oblige me by remaining one instant, while I call Hamish."

Hamish entered in obedience. He appeared somewhat surprised to see them
assembled in conclave, looking so solemn; but he supposed it related to
Charles. Mr. Channing undeceived him.

"Hamish, we are speaking of Arthur. Both these gentlemen have expressed
a belief--"

"I beg your pardon," interrupted Mr. Huntley. "I said that I should be
obliged if you would leave me out of the discussion."

"What does it signify?" returned Mr. Channing, his tone one of haste.
"Hamish, Mr. Galloway has expressed to me a belief that you have so far
taken part with Arthur in that unhappy affair, as to send back the money
to him."

"Oh, indeed!" said Hamish; and his manner was precisely what Mr.
Galloway had described it to have been at the time; light, mocking,
careless. "Mr. Galloway did me the honour to express something of the
same belief, I remember."

"Did you send it, Hamish?" asked his father, a severe look crossing his
face.

"No, sir, I did not," emphatically replied Hamish. And Mr. Huntley
turned and bent his keen eye upon him. In his heart of hearts he
believed it to be a deliberate falsehood.

"I did not send the money, and I do not know who did send it," went on
Hamish. "But, as we are upon the subject, perhaps I may be allowed to
express my opinion that, if there were as much labour taken to establish
Arthur's innocence, as it seems to me there is to prove him guilty, he
might have been cleared long ago."

That the remark was aimed at Mr. Galloway, there was no doubt. Mr.
Huntley answered it; and, had they been suspicious, they might have
detected a covert meaning in his tone.

"You, at any rate, must hold firm faith in his innocence."

"Firm and entire faith," distinctly assented Hamish. "Father," he added,
impulsively turning to Mr. Channing, "put all notion of Arthur's guilt
from you, at once and for ever. I would answer for him with my life."

"Then he must be screening some one," cried Mr. Galloway. "It is one
thing or the other. Hamish, it strikes me you know. Who is it?"

A red flush mounted to Hamish's brow, but he lapsed into his former
mocking tone. "Nay," said he, "I can tell nothing about that."

He left the room as he spoke, and the conference broke up. It appeared
that no satisfactory solution could be come to, if they kept it on till
midnight. Mr. Galloway took leave, and hastened home to dinner.

"I must be going also," remarked Mr. Huntley. Nevertheless, he returned
with Mr. Channing to the other room.

"You told me at Borcette that you were fully persuaded of Arthur's
innocence; you were ready to ridicule me for casting a doubt upon it,"
Mr. Channing remarked to him in a low tone, as they crossed the hall.

"I have never been otherwise than persuaded of it," said Mr. Huntley.
"He is innocent as you, or as I."

"And yet you join Mr. Galloway in assuming that he and Hamish sent back
the money! The one assertion is incompatible with the other."

Mr. Huntley laid his hand upon Mr. Channing's shoulder. "My dear friend,
all that you and I can do, is to let the matter rest. We should only
plunge into shoals and quicksands, and lose our way in them, were we to
pursue it."

They had halted at the parlour door to speak. Judith came bustling up at
that moment from the kitchen, a letter in her hand, looking as if in her
hurry she might have knocked them over, had they not made way for her to
enter.

"Bad luck to my memory, then! It's getting not worth a button. Here,
Master Arthur. The postman gave it me at the door, just as I had caught
sight of the fly turning the corner with the master and missis. I
slipped it into my pocket, and never thought of it till this minute."

"So! it has come at last, has it?" cried Arthur, recognising Roland
Yorke's handwriting.

"Is he really off?" inquired Tom.

"Yes, he is really off," replied Arthur, opening the letter and
beginning to glance over the contents. "He has sailed in the ship
_Africa_. Don't talk to me, Tom. What a long letter!"

They left him to read it in peace. Talking together--Mr. and Mrs.
Channing, Mr. Huntley, William Yorke, Hamish, Constance--all were in a
group round the fire, paying no attention to him. No attention, until an
exclamation caused them to turn.

An exclamation half of distress, half of fear. Arthur had risen from
his chair, and stood, the picture of excitement, his face and lips
blanching.

"What is the matter?" they exclaimed.

"Roland--the ship--Roland"--and there Arthur stopped, apparently unable
to say more.

"Oh, it's drowned! it's drowned!" cried quick Annabel. "The ship's
drowned, and Roland with it!" And Arthur sank back in his chair again,
and covered his face with his hands.



CHAPTER LV.


NEWS FROM ROLAND.

You will like to look over Arthur's shoulder, as he reads the letter
just received from Roland Yorke.


"DEAR OLD CHUM,"

"By the time you get this letter, I shall be ploughing the waves of the
briny deep, in the ship _Africa_. You will get the letter on Wednesday
night. That is, you ought to get it; for I have desired Carrick to post
it accordingly, and I'm sure he'll do it if he does not forget. And old
Galloway will get a letter at the same time, and Lady Augusta will get
one. _I_ shall have been off more than twenty-four hours, for we leave
Gravesend on Tuesday at noon. Carrick has behaved like a trump. He has
bought me all the things I asked him, and paid my passage-money, and
given me fifty pounds in my pocket to land with; so I am safe to get on.
The only thing he stood out about was the frying-pans. He couldn't see
of what use they'd be, he said. So we made a compromise, and I am taking
out only four-and-twenty, instead of the forty dozen that I had thought
of. I could not find Bagshaw's list, and the frying-pans are about all
I am taking, in the shape of utensils, except a large tool-chest, which
they palmed off upon Carrick, for it was as dear as fire's hot."

"I dare say you have been vowing vengeance upon me, for not coming round
to see you before I started; but I stopped away on purpose, for I might
have let out something that I did not care to let out then; and that's
what I am writing for."

"Old fellow, I have been fit to kill myself. All that bother that they
laid upon you about the bank-note ought to have fallen upon me, for it
was I who took it. There! the confession's made. And now explode at me
for ten minutes, with all your energy and wrath, before you read on. It
will be a relief to your feelings and to mine. Perhaps if you'd go out
of the way to swear a bit, it mightn't be amiss."

It was at this juncture that Arthur had started up so wildly, causing
Annabel to exclaim that the "ship was drowned." In his access of
bewilderment, the first shadowy thought that overpowered him was a
dreadful feeling of grief, for Roland's sake. He had liked Roland; with
all his faults, he had liked him much; and it was as if some cherished
statue had fallen, and been dashed to pieces. Wild, joyful beatings
of relief, that Hamish was innocent, were mingling with it, thumping
against his heart, soon to exclude all else and fill it to bursting. But
as yet this was indistinct; and the first clear idea that came to him
was--Was Roland telling truth, or was he only playing a joke upon him?
Arthur read on.

"I was awfully hard up for money. I was worse than Hamish, and he was
pretty hard up then; though he seems to have staved off the fellows
since--he best knows how. I told him one day I should like to borrow
the receipt, and he laughed and said he'd give it to me with all the
pleasure in life if it were transferable. Ask him if he remembers saying
it. When Galloway was sending the money that day to the cousin Galloway,
I thought what a shame it was, as I watched him slip the bank-note into
the letter. That cousin Galloway was always having money sent him, and
I wished Galloway would give it me instead. Then came that row with Mad
Nance; and as you and Galloway turned to see what was up, I just pulled
open the envelope, that instant wet and stuck down, took out the money,
pressed the gum down again, and came and stood at your back, at the
window, leaning out. It did not take me half a minute; and the money
was in my pocket, and the letter was empty! But now, look here!--I never
meant to steal the note. I am not a Newgate thief, yet. I was in an
uncommon fix just then, over a certain affair; and if I could not stop
the fellow's mouth, there'd have been the dickens to pay. So I took the
money for _that_ stop-gap, never intending to do otherwise than replace
it in Galloway's desk as soon as I could get it. I knew I should be
having some from Lord Carrick. It was all Lady Augusta's fault. She had
turned crusty, and would not help me. I stopped out all that afternoon
with Knivett, if you remember, and that placed me beyond suspicion when
the stir came, though it was not for that reason I stayed, for I never
had a thought that the row would fall upon us in the office. I supposed
the loss would be set down to the letter-carriers--as of course it ought
to have been. I stayed out, the bank-note burning a hole all the while
in my waistcoat pocket, and sundry qualms coming over me whether I
should not put it back again. I began to wonder how I could get rid of
it safely, not knowing but that Galloway might have the number, and I
think I should have put it back, what with that doubt and my twitchings
of conscience, but for a thing that happened. After I parted with
Knivett, I ran home for something I wanted, and Lady Augusta heard me
and called me into her bedroom. 'Roland,' said she, 'I want you to get
me a twenty-pound note from the bank; I have occasion to send one to
Ireland.' Now, Arthur, I ask you, was ever such encouragement given to
a fellow in wrong-doing? Of course, my note, that is, Galloway's note,
went to Ireland, and a joyful riddance it seemed; as thoroughly _gone_
as if I had despatched it to the North Pole. Lady Augusta handed me
twenty sovereigns, and I made believe to go to the bank and exchange
them for a note. She put it into a letter, and I took it to the
post-office at once. No wonder you grumbled at my being away so long!"

"Next came the row. And when I found that suspicion fell upon _you_, I
was nearly mad. If I had not parted with the money, I should have gone
straight to Galloway and said, 'Here it is; I took it.' Not a soul stood
up for you as they ought! Even Mr. Channing fell into the suspicion,
and Hamish seemed indifferent and cool as a cucumber. I have never liked
Galloway since; and I long, to this day, to give Butterby a ducking.
How I kept my tongue from blurting out the truth, I don't know: but
a gentleman born does not like to own himself a thief. It was the
publicity given to it that kept me silent; and I hope old Galloway and
Butterby will have horrid dreams for a week to come, now they know the
truth! I was boiling over always. I don't know how I managed to live
through it; and that soft calf of a Jenkins was always defending
Galloway when I flew out about him. Nobody could do more than I did to
throw the blame upon the post-office--and it was the most likely thing
in the world for the post-office to have done?--but the more I talked,
the more old Galloway brought up that rubbish about his 'seals!' I hope
he'll have horrid dreams for a month to come! I'd have prosecuted the
post-office if I had had the cash to do it with, and that might have
turned him."

"Well, old chap, it went on and on--you lying under the cloud, and I
mad with every one. I could do nothing to clear you (unless I had
confessed), except sending back the money to Galloway's, with a letter
to say you did not do it. It was upon my mind night and day. I was
always planning how to accomplish it; but for some time I could not find
the money. When Carrick came to Helstonleigh he was short himself, and
I had to wait. I told him I was in an awful mess for the want of twenty
pounds. And that was true in more senses than one, for I did not know
where to turn to for money for my own uses. At last Carrick gave it
me--he had given me a trifle or two before, of five pounds or so, of no
use--and then I had to wait an opportunity of sending it to London to be
posted. Carrick's departure afforded that. I wrote the note to Galloway
with my _left_ hand, in print sort of letters, put the money into
it, and Carrick promised to post it in London. I told him it was a
_Valentine_ to old Galloway, flattering him on his youthful curls,
and Carrick laughed till he was hoarse, at the notion. Deuce take his
memory! he had been pretty nearly a week in London before he thought of
the letter, and then putting his hand into his pocket he found it. I had
given it up by that time, and thought no one in the world ever had such
luck as I. At last it came; and all I can say is, I wish the post-office
had taken that, before it ever did come. Of all the crying shames, that
was the worst! The old carp got the money, and _yet_ would not clear
you! I shall never forgive Galloway for that! and when I come back from
Port Natal, rolling in wealth, I'll not look at him when I pass him in
the street, which will cork him uncommonly, and I don't care if you tell
him so. Had I wavered about Port Natal before, that would have decided
me. Clear you I would, and I saw there was no way to do it but
by telling the truth, which I did not care to do while I was in
Helstonleigh. And now I am off, and you know the truth, and Galloway
knows it, for he'll have his letter when you have yours (and I hope it
will be a pill for him), and all Helstonleigh will know it, and you are
cleared, dear old Arthur!"

"The first person that I shall lavish a little of my wealth upon, when
I return, will be poor Jenkins, if he should be still in the land of
the living. We all know that he has as much in him as a gander, and lets
that adorable Mrs. J. (I wish you could have seen her turban the morning
I took leave!) be mistress and master, but he has done me many a good
turn: and, what's more, he _stood up for you_. When Galloway, Butterby,
and Co. were on at it, discussing proofs against you, Jenkins's humble
voice would be heard, 'I am sure, gentlemen, Mr. Arthur never did it!'
Many a time I could have hugged him! and he shall have some of my good
luck when I reach home. You shall have it too, Arthur! I shall never
make a friend to care for half as much as I care for you, and I wish you
would have been persuaded to come out with me and make your fortune; but
as you would not, you shall share mine. Mind! I should have cleared you
just the same, if you had come."

"And that's all I have to tell. And now you see why I did not care to
say 'Good-bye,' for I don't think I could have said it without telling
all. Remember me to the folks at your house, and I hope Mr. Channing
will come home stunning. I shall look to you for all the news, mind! If
a great wind blows the cathedral down, or a fire burns the town up, it's
you who must write it; no one else will. Direct to me--Post-office, Port
Natal, until I send you an address, which I shall do the first thing.
Have you any news of Charley?"

"I had almost forgotten that bright kinsman of mine, the chaplain of
Hazledon. Pray present my affectionate compliments to him, and say he
has not the least idea how very much I revere him. I should like to see
his face when he finds it was I who was the delinquent. Constance can
turn the tables on him now. But if she ever forgives him, she'll deserve
to be as henpecked as Jenkins is; and tell her I say so."

"I meant to have told you about a spree I have had since I came to
London, but there's no room, so I'll conclude sentimentally, as a lady
does,"

"Yours for ever and ever,"


"ROLAND YORKE."


You must not think that Arthur Channing read this letter deliberately,
as you have been able to read it. He had only skimmed it--skimmed it
with straining eye and burning brow; taking in its general sense, its
various points; but of its words, none. In his overpowering emotion--his
perplexed confusion--he started up with wild words: "Oh, father! he is
innocent! Constance, he is innocent! Hamish, Hamish! forgive--forgive
me! I have been wicked enough to believe you guilty all this time!"

To say that they stared at him--to say that they did not understand
him--would be weak words to express the surprise that fell upon them,
and seemed to strike them dumb. Arthur kept on reiterating the words, as
if he could not sufficiently relieve his overburdened heart.

"Hamish never did it! Constance, we might have known it. Constance, what
could so have blinded our reason? He has been innocent all this time."

Mr. Huntley was the first to find his tongue. "Innocent of what?" asked
he. "What news have you received there?" pointing to the letter.

"It is from Roland Yorke. He says"--Arthur hesitated, and lowered his
voice--"that bank-note lost by Mr. Galloway--"

"Well?" they uttered, pressing round him.

"It was Roland who took it!"

Then arose a Babel of voices: questions to Arthur, references to the
letter, and explanations. Mr. Channing, amidst his deep thankfulness,
gathered Arthur to him with a fond gesture. "My boy, there has been
continual conflict waging in my heart," he said; "appearances _versus_
my better judgment. But for your own doubtful manner, I should have
spurned the thought that you were guilty. Why did you not speak out
boldly?"

"Father, how could I--believing that it was Hamish? Hamish, dear Hamish,
say you forgive me!"

Hamish was the only one who had retained calmness. Remarkably
cool was he. He gazed upon them with the most imperturbable
self-possession--rather inclined to be amused than otherwise. "Suspect
me!" cried he, raising his eyebrows.

"We did, indeed!"

"_Bien obligé_," responded Mr. Hamish. "Perhaps _you_ shared the honour
of the doubt?" he mockingly added, turning to Mr. Huntley.

"I did," replied that gentleman. "Ellen did not," he added, losing
his seriousness in a half laugh. "Miss Ellen and I have been at
daggers-drawn upon the point."

Hamish actually blushed like a schoolgirl. "Ellen knows me better," was
all he said, speaking very quietly. "I should have thought some of the
rest of you had known me better, also."

"Hamish," said Mr. Huntley, "I think we were all in for a host of
blunders."

Mr. Channing had listened in surprise, Mrs. Channing in indignation. Her
brave, good Hamish! her best and dearest!

"I cannot see how it was possible to suspect Hamish," observed Mr.
Channing.

But, before any more could be said, they were interrupted by Mr.
Galloway, an open letter in his hand. "Here's a pretty repast for a
man!" he exclaimed. "I go home, expecting to dine in peace, and I find
this pill upon my plate!" Pill was the very word Roland had used.

They understood, naturally, what the pill was. Especially Arthur, who
had been told by Roland himself, that he was writing to Mr. Galloway.
"You see, sir," said Arthur with a bright smile, "that I was innocent."

"I do see it," replied Mr. Galloway, laying his hand on Arthur's
shoulder. "Why could you not speak openly to my face and tell me so?"

"Because--I am ashamed, sir, now to confess why. We were all at
cross-purposes together, it seems."

"He suspected that it was all in the family, Mr. Galloway," cried
Hamish, in his gay good humour. "It appears that he laid the charge of
that little affair to _me_."

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Galloway.

"We both did," exclaimed Constance, coming forward with tears in her
eyes. "Do you think that the mere fact of suspicion being cast upon
him, publicly though it was made, could have rendered us as cowardly
miserable as it did? Hamish, how shall we atone to you?"

"The question is, how shall I atone to you, my old friend, for the wrong
done your son?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, seizing Mr. Channing's hand.
"Arthur, you and I shall have accounts to make up together."

"If reparation for unjust suspicion is to be the order of the day, I
think I ought to have some of it," said laughing Hamish, with a glance
at Mr. Huntley.

A sudden thought seemed to strike Mr. Channing. "Huntley," he
impulsively cried, "was this the cause of displeasure that you hinted
had been given you by Hamish?"

"That, and nothing else," was Mr. Huntley's answer. "I suppose I must
take him into favour again--'make reparation,' as he says."

A saucy smile crossed the lips of Hamish. It as good as said, "I know
who will, if you don't." But Mr. Galloway was interrupting.

"The most extraordinary thing of the whole is," he observed, with
unwonted emphasis, "that we never suspected Roland Yorke, knowing him as
we did know him. It will be a caution to me as long as I live, never
to go again by appearances. Careless, thoughtless, impulsive,
conscienceless Roland Yorke! Of course! Who else would have been likely
to help themselves to it? I wonder what scales were before our eyes?"

Mr. Channing turned to his son Tom, who had been seated astride on the
arm of a sofa, in a glow of astonishment, now succeeded by satisfaction.
"Tom, my boy! There'll be no particular hurry for leaving the college
school, will there?"

Tom slid off his perch and went straight up to Arthur. "Arthur, I beg
your pardon heartily for the harsh words and thoughts I may have given
you. I was just a fool, or I should have known you could not be guilty.
Were you screening Roland Yorke?"

"No," said Arthur, "I never suspected him for a moment. As to any
one's begging _my_ pardon, I have most cause to do that, for suspecting
Hamish. You'll be all right now, Tom."

But now, in the midst of this demonstration from all sides, I will leave
you to judge what were the feelings of that reverend divine, William
Yorke. You may remember that he was present. He had gone to Mr.
Channing's house ostensibly to welcome Mr. Channing home and
congratulate him on his restoration. Glad, in truth, was he to possess
the opportunity to do that; but Mr. Yorke's visit also included a
purpose less disinterested. Repulsed by Constance in the two or three
appeals he had made to her, he had impatiently awaited the return of Mr.
Channing, to solicit his influence. Remembering the past, listening to
this explanation of the present, you may imagine, if you can, what his
sensations must have been. He, who had held up his head, in his haughty
Yorke spirit, ready to spurn Arthur for the suspicion cast upon him,
ready to believe that he was guilty, resenting it upon Constance, had
now to stand and learn that the guilt lay in his family, not in theirs.
No wonder that he stood silent, grave, his lips drawn in to sternness.

Mr. Galloway soon departed again. He had left his dinner untouched upon
his table. Mr. Huntley took the occasion to leave with him; and, in
the earnestness of discussion, they all went out with them to the hall,
except Constance. This was Mr. Yorke's opportunity. His arms folded, his
pale cheek flushed to pain, he moved before her, and stood there, drawn
to his full height, speaking hoarsely.

"Constance, will it be possible for you to forgive me?"

What a fine field it presented for her to play the heroine! To go into
fierce declamations that she never could, and never would forgive him,
but would hold herself aloof from him for ever and a day, condemning him
to bachelorhood! Unfortunately for these pages, Constance Channing had
nothing of the heroine in her composition. She was only one of those
simple, truthful, natural English girls, whom I hope you often meet in
your every-day life. She smiled at William Yorke through her glistening
eye-lashes, and drew closer to him. Did he take the hint? He took _her_;
took her to that manly breast that would henceforth be her shelter for
ever.

"Heaven knows how I will strive to atone to you, my darling."

It was a happy evening, chequered, though it necessarily must be, with
thoughts of Charles. And Mr. Channing, in the midst of his deep grief
and perplexity, thanked God for His great mercy in restoring the
suspected to freedom. "My boy!" he exclaimed to Arthur, "how bravely you
have borne it all!"

"Not always very bravely," said Arthur, shaking his head. "There were
times when I inwardly rebelled."

"It could not have been done without one thing," resumed Mr. Channing:
"firm trust in God."

Arthur's cheek kindled. That had ever been present with him. "When
things would wear their darkest aspect, I used to say to myself,
'Patience and hope; and trust in God!' But I never anticipated this
bright ending," he added. "I never thought that I and Hamish should both
be cleared."

"I cannot conceive how you could have suspected Hamish!" Mr. Channing
repeated, after a pause. Of all the wonders, that fact seemed to have
taken most hold of his mind.

Arthur made a slight answer, but did not pursue the topic. There were
circumstances connected with it, regarding Hamish, not yet explained. He
could not speak of them to Mr. Channing.

Neither were they to be explained, as it seemed to Arthur. At any rate,
not at present. When they retired to rest, Hamish came into his room; as
he had done that former night, months ago, when suspicion had just
been thrown upon Arthur. They went up together, and Hamish, instead
of turning into his own room, followed Arthur to his. He set down the
candle on the table, and turned to Arthur with his frank smile.

"How is it that we can have been playing at these cross-purposes,
Arthur? Why did you not tell me at the time that you were innocent?"

"I think I did tell you so, Hamish: if my memory serves me rightly."

"Well, I am not sure; it may have been so; but in a very undemonstrative
sort of manner, if you did at all. That sort of manner from you, Arthur,
would only create perplexity."

Arthur smiled. "Don't you see? believing that you had taken it, I
thought you must know whether I was innocent or guilty. And, for your
sake, I did not dare to defend myself to others. Had only a breath of
suspicion fallen upon you, Hamish, it might have cost my father his
post."

"What induced you to suspect me? Surely not the simple fact of being
alone for a few minutes with the letter in Galloway's office?"

"Not that. That alone would have been nothing; but, coupled with other
circumstances, it assumed a certain weight. Hamish, I will tell you.
Do you remember the trouble you were in at the time--owing money in the
town?"

A smile parted Hamish's lips; he seemed half inclined to make fun of the
reminiscence. "I remember it well enough. What of that?"

"You contrived to pay those debts, or partially pay them, at the exact
time the note was taken; and we knew you had no money of your own to
do it with. We saw you also with gold in your purse-through
Annabel's tricks, do you remember?--and we knew that it could not be
yours--legitimately yours, I mean."

Hamish's smile turned into a laugh. "Stop a bit, Arthur. The money with
which I paid up, and the gold you saw, _was_ mine; legitimately mine.
Don't speak so fast, old fellow."

"But where did it come from, Hamish?"

"It did not come from Galloway's office, and it did not drop from the
skies," laughed Hamish. "Never mind where else it came from. Arthur boy,
I wish you had been candid, and had given me a hint of your suspicion."

"We were at cross purposes, as you observe," repeated Arthur. "Once
plunge into them, and there's no knowing when enlightenment will come;
perhaps never. But you were not very open with me."

"I was puzzled," replied Hamish. "You may remember that my seeing a
crowd round the Guildhall, was the first intimation I received of the
matter. When they told me, in answer to my questions, that my brother,
Arthur Channing, was taken up on suspicion of stealing a bank-note, and
was then under examination, I should have laughed in their faces, but
for my inclination to knock them down. I went into that hall, Arthur,
trusting in your innocence as implicitly as I trusted in my own, boiling
over with indignation against all who had dared to accuse you, ready
to stand up for you against the world. I turned my eyes upon you as you
stood there, and your gaze met mine. Arthur, what made you look so?
I never saw guilt--or perhaps I would rather say shame, conscious
shame--shine out more palpably from any countenance than it did from
yours then. It startled me--it _cowed_ me; and, in that moment, I did
believe you guilty. Why did you look so?"

"I looked so for your sake, Hamish. Your countenance betrayed your
dismay, and I read it for signs of your own guilt and shame. Not until
then did I fully believe you guilty. We were at cross-purposes, you see,
throughout the piece."

"Cross-purposes, indeed!" repeated Hamish.

"Have you believed me guilty until now?"

"No," replied Hamish. "After a few days my infatuation wore off. It
was an infatuation, and nothing less, ever to have believed a Channing
guilty. I then took up another notion, and that I have continued to
entertain."

"What was it?"

"That you were screening Roland Yorke."

Arthur lifted up his eyes to Hamish.

"I did indeed. Roland's excessive championship of you, his impetuous
agitation when others brought it up against you, first aroused my
suspicions that he himself must have been guilty; and I came to the
conclusion that you also had discovered his guilt, and were generously
screening him. I believed that you would not allow a stir be made in it
to clear yourself, lest it should bring it home to him. Cross purposes
again, you will say."

"Ah, yes. Not so much as an idea of suspecting Roland Yorke ever came
across me. All my fear was, that he, or any one, should suspect you."

Hamish laughed as he placed his hands upon Arthur's shoulders. "The
best plan for the future will be, to have no secrets one from the other;
otherwise, it seems hard to say what labyrinths we may not get into.
What do you say, old fellow?"

"You began the secrets first, Hamish."

"Did I? Well, let us thank Heaven that the worst are over."

Ay, thank Heaven! Most sincerely was Arthur Channing doing that. The
time to give thanks had come.

Meanwhile Mr. Huntley had proceed home. He found Miss Huntley in the
stiffest and most uncompromising of moods; and no wonder, for Mr.
Huntley had kept dinner waiting, I am afraid to say how long. Harry, who
was to have dined with them that day, had eaten his, and flown off to
the town again, to keep some appointment with the college boys. Miss
Huntley now ate hers in dignified displeasure; but Mr. Huntley, sitting
opposite to her, appeared to be in one of his very happiest moods. Ellen
attributed it to the fact of Mr. Channing's having returned home well.
She asked a hundred questions about them--of their journey, their
arrival--and Mr. Huntley never seemed tired of answering.

Barely was the cloth removed, when Miss Huntley rose. Mr. Huntley
crossed the room to open the door for her, and bow her out. Although he
was her brother, she would never have forgiven him, had he omitted that
little mark of ceremony. Ellen was dutifully following. She could not
always brave her aunt. Mr. Huntley, however, gave Ellen a touch as she
was passing him, drew her back, and closed the door upon his sister.

"Ellen, I have been obliged to take Mr. Hamish into favour again."

Ellen's cheeks became glowing. She tried to find an answer, but none
came.

"I find Hamish had nothing to do with the loss of the bank-note."

Then she found words. "Oh, papa, no! How could you ever have imagined
such a thing? You might have known the Channings better. They are above
suspicion."

"I did know them better at one time, or else you may be sure, young
lady, Mr. Hamish would not have been allowed to come here as he did.
However, it is cleared up; and I suppose you would like to tell me that
I was just a donkey for my pains."

Ellen shook her head and laughed. She would have liked to ask whether
Mr. Hamish was to be allowed to come again on the old familiar footing,
had she known how to frame the question. But it was quite beyond her
courage.

"When I told him this evening that I had suspected him--"

She clasped her hands and turned to Mr. Huntley, her rich colour going
and coming. "Papa, you _told_ him?"

"Ay. And I was not the only one to suspect him, or to tell him. I can
assure you that, Miss Ellen."

"What did he say? How did he receive it?"

"Told us he was much obliged to us all. I don't think Hamish _could_ be
put out of temper."

"Then you do not dislike him now, papa?" she said, timidly.

"I never have disliked him. When I believed what I did of him, I could
not dislike him even then, try as I would. There, you may go to your
aunt now."

And Ellen went, feeling that the earth and air around her had suddenly
become as Eden.



CHAPTER LVI.


THE BROKEN PHIAL.

That broken phial, you have heard of, was burning a hole in Bywater's
pocket, as Roland Yorke had said the bank-note did in his. He had been
undecided about complaining to the master; strangely so for Bywater. The
fact was, he had had a strong suspicion, from the very first, that the
boy who did the damage to the surplice was Pierce senior. At least, his
suspicions had been divided between that gentleman and Gerald Yorke. The
cause of suspicion against Pierce need not be entered into, since it was
misplaced. In point of fact, Mr. Pierce was, so far as that feat went,
both innocent and unconscious. But Bywater could not be sure that
he was, and he did not care to bring the accusation publicly against
Gerald, should he be innocent.

You saw Bywater, a chapter or two back, fitting the broken pieces
together in his bedroom. On the following morning--it was also the
morning following the arrival of the important letter from Roland
Yorke--Bywater detained Gerald Yorke when the boys tore down the
schoolroom steps after early school.

"I say, Yorke, I said I'd give you a last chance, and now I am doing
it," he began. "If you'll acknowledge the truth to me about that
surplice affair, I'll let it drop. I will, upon my honour. I'll never
say another word about it."

Gerald flew into a rage. "Now look you here, Mr. Bywater," was his angry
retort. "You bother me again with that stale fish, and I'll put you up
for punishment. It's--"

Gerald stopped. Tom Channing was passing close to them, and Mr. Gerald
had never cared to be heard, when talking about the surplice. At that
moment a group of boys, who were running out of the cloisters, the
opposite road to Tom Channing, turned round and hissed him, Tod Yorke
adding some complimentary remark about "stolen notes." As usual, it was
a shaft launched at Arthur. Not as usual did Tom receive it. There was
nothing of fierce defiance now in his demeanour; nothing of half-subdued
rage. Tom halted; took off his trencher with a smile of suavity that
might have adorned Hamish, and thanked them with as much courtesy as
if it had been real, especially Tod. Gerald Yorke and Bywater looked
on with surprise. They little dreamt of the great secret that Tom now
carried within him. He could afford to be calm.

"Why, it's four months, good, since that surplice was damaged," resumed
Gerald, in a tone of irritation, to Bywater, as soon as they were alone
again. "One would think it was of rare value, by your keeping up the
ball in this way. Every now and then you break out afresh about that
surplice. Was it made of gold?"

"It was made of Irish linen," returned Bywater, who generally contrived
to retain his coolness, whoever might grow heated. "I tell you that
I have a fresh clue, Yorke; one I have been waiting for. I thought it
would turn up some time. If you say you did it, by accident or how you
like, I'll let it drop. If you don't, I'll bring it before Pye after
breakfast."

"Bring it," retorted Gerald.

"Mind you, I mean what I say. I shall bring the charge against you, and
I have the proofs."

"Bring it, I say!" fiercely repeated Gerald. "Who cares for your
bringings? Mind your bones afterwards, that's all!"

He pushed Bywater from him with a haughty gesture, and raced home to
breakfast, hoping there would be something good to assuage his hunger.

But Bywater was not to be turned from his determination. Never a boy
in the school less likely than he. He went home to _his_ breakfast, and
returned to school to have his name inscribed on the roll, and then w