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Title: Orville College: A Story
Author: Wood, Henry, Mrs.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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1. Page scan source: Google Books
https://books.google.com/books?id=zzhMAAAAcAAJ


ORVILLE COLLEGE


A STORY.


BY


MRS. HENRY WOOD,


AUTHOR OF "EAST LYNNE," "THE CHANNINGS," ETC.



_COPYRIGHT EDITION_.



LEIPZIG

BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ

1867.



_The Right of Translation is reserved_.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER	
I.	In the Plantation.
II.	The New Boy.
III.	Hard and Obstinate as Nails.
IV.	Sir Simon Orville's Offered Reward.
V.	Mother Butter's Lodgings.
VI.	Mr. Gall abroad.
VII.	Mr. Lamb improves his Mind in Private.
VIII.	A Loss.
IX.	Christmas Day.
X.	A Man in a Blaze.
XI.	Only the Heat!
XII.	In the Shop in Oxford Street.
XIII.	If the Boys had but seen!
XIV.	Over the Water.
XV.	Dick's Bath.
XVI.	The Duel.
XVII.	Mr. Leek in Convulsions.
XVIII.	Told at Last.
XIX.	A Visitor for Sir Simon.
XX.	As if Ill Luck followed him.
XXI.	The Outbreak.
XXII.	Before the Examiners.
XXIII.	Falling from a Pinnacle.
XXIV.	In the Quadrangle.
XXV.	Very Peacefully.
XXVI.	The End.


ORVILLE COLLEGE.



CHAPTER I.

In the Plantation.

The glowing sunset of a September evening was shining on the fair
grounds around Orville College, lighting up the scene of stir and
bustle invariably presented on the return of the boys to their studies
after the periodical holidays. A large, comfortable-looking, and very
irregular building was this college. But a moderate-sized house
originally, it had been added to here, and enlarged there, and raised
yonder, at different times as necessity required, and with regard to
convenience only, not to uniformity of architecture. The whole was of
red brick, save the little chapel jutting out at one end; _that_ was of
white brick, with black divisional strokes, as if the architect had a
mind to make some distinction by way of reverence. The Head Master's
house faced the lawn and the wide gravel carriage-drive that encircled
it; the school apartments, ending in the chapel, were built on the
house's left; the sleeping-rooms and domestic offices were on its
right. It was only a private college—in fact, a school—founded many
years ago by a Dr. Orville, and called after him; but it gradually
became renowned in the world, and was now of the very first order of
private colleges.

Situated near London, in the large and unoccupied tracts of land lying
between the north and the west districts, when the college was first
erected, nothing could be seen near it but green fields. It was in a
degree isolated still, but time had wrought its natural changes; a few
gentlemen's houses had grown up around, and a colony of small shops
came with them. The latest improvement, or innovation, whichever you
like to call it, had been a little brick railway station, and the
rushing, thundering trains, which seemed to be always passing, would
occasionally condescend to halt, and pick up or set down the Orville
travellers. In want of a name, when the houses spoken of began to
spring up, it had called itself Orville Green—which was as good a name
for the little suburb as any other.

Dr. Brabazon, the head master, stood at the door to receive his coming
guests. It had been more consistent possibly with the reserve and
dignity of a head master, to have ensconced himself in a state-chair
within the walls of his drawing-room or library, and given the boys a
gracious bow as each introduced himself. Not so the doctor. He was the
most simple-mannered man in the world—as these large-hearted and
large-minded men are apt to be,—and he stood at the hall door, or went
to it perpetually, with a hearty smile and outstretched hands for each
fresh arrival. A portly, genial man he, of near sixty years, with an
upright line of secret care on his brow that sat ill upon it, as if it
had no business there.

The boys on this occasion came up, as was usual, to the front, or
doctor's entrance; not to their own entrance near the chapel. The
number of students altogether did not exceed a hundred. About forty of
these were resident at the head master's; the rest—or nearly the
rest—were accommodated at the houses of other of the masters, and a
very few—eight or ten at the most—attended as outdoor pupils, their
friends living near. No difference whatever was made in the education,
but these last were somewhat looked down upon by the rest of the boys.
They arrived variously; some driven from town in their fathers'
handsome carriages, some in cabs, some used the new rail and walked
from thence, some had come by omnibus. Dr. Brabazon received all alike,
with the same genial smile, the same cordial grasp of the hand. He
liked all to make their appearance on the eve of school, that the roll
might be written and called: the actual business beginning on the
morrow.

A pair of beautiful long-tailed ponies, drawing a low four-wheeled open
carriage, came round the gravel sweep with a quiet dash. The driver was
a well-grown youth, who had entered his eighteenth year. He had high,
prominent features of an aquiline cast, and large sleepy blue eyes: a
handsome face, certainly, but spoilt by its look of pride. His
attention during his short drive—for they had not come far—had been
absorbed by his ponies and by his own self-importance as he drove them.
It was one of the senior boys, Albert Loftus. By his side sat another
of the seniors, a cousin, Raymond Trace, a quiet-looking youth of no
particular complexion, and his light eyes rather sunk in his head; eyes
that he had a habit of screwing together when at his studies. He had
been reading a book all the way, never once looking up at his cousin,
or the road, or the ponies, and answering in civil monosyllables when
spoken to. Behind sat another college boy, younger, Master Dick Loftus.
Master Dick possessed very little pride indeed, and was a contrast to
his brother. He had amused himself, coming along, with a pea-shooter,
and hung out a flag behind—all to the happy ignorance of the driver and
Mr. Trace. A groom in plain livery, nearly bursting with suppressed
laughter, made the fourth in the pretty carriage.

"Well, Loftus, I'm very glad to see you: you're rather late, though,
considering you are so close," was the doctor's greeting. "How are you,
Trace? Dick, you rebel, I hope we shall have no trouble this term."

The doctor laughed as he said it. Dick, a red-faced good-humoured boy,
met the hand and laugh readily. He knew he was a favourite, with all
his faults.

"Sir Simon's compliments to you, sir, and he will do himself the
pleasure of calling shortly," said Mr. Loftus. "Dick, take those things
away."

Mr. Loftus had slightly altered the phraseology of the message: "My
respects to Dr. Brabazon, and I'll give him a look in soon," was the
one sent. The groom had been depositing a few things on the ground, and
Dick was loading himself, when a close carriage drove in. A lady sat
inside it in solitary state, and a young gentleman sat on the roof
backwards.

"Halloa! It's Onions!"

The remark came from Mr. Dick Loftus. He dropped the things summarily,
went out, and began a dance in honour of the new arrival. Loftus the
elder seized on a square parcel done up in brown paper, and
disappeared, leaving the other things to their fate. "Onions" got down
by the chariot wheel, and shook hands with Dick.

They called him Onions as a sort of parody on his name, "Leek." The
college was in the habit of bestowing these nicknames. Joseph Leek, at
any rate, did not mind it, whatever others, thus distinguished, might
do; he would as soon be called Onions as Leek, at any time. Nothing
upset his temper or his equanimity. He was one of the coolest boys that
ever entered a school, and was a universal favourite. His father,
General Leek, was in India; his mother, Lady Sophia, whom Dr. Brabazon
was now assisting from the carriage, was an invalid in the matter of
nerves, and always thankful to get her son to school again the first
day of term.

The pony carriage drove off; Lady Sophia Leek's carriage was not long
in following; other carriages, and cabs, and flies came up and went;
and there was a lull in the arrivals. Dr. Brabazon was standing at his
drawing-room window (a light pretty room on the right of the hall) and
was trying to call to mind how many were still absent, when he saw some
one else approaching, a small black travelling-bag in one hand, and
dressed from head to foot in a suit of grey.

"Who's this?" cried he to himself. "It looks too tall for Gall."

Too tall certainly for Mr. Gall, who, though the senior boy of the
college, was undersized. And too old also. This gentleman looked two or
three-and-twenty; a slender man of middle height, with pale, delicate
features, and a sad sort of look in his pleasant dark eyes.

"It must be the new German master," thought Dr. Brabazon: and he
hurried out to meet him.

The new German master it was, Mr. Henry. There was a peculiar kind of
timid reticence in his manner which seemed foreign to himself, for his
face was a candid, open face, his voice frank. Dr. Brabazon put it down
to the natural shyness of one who has resided abroad. Mr. Henry, of
English birth, had been chiefly educated in Germany. He spoke German as
a native, French also: for some few years he had been a professor at
the University of Heidelberg, and had come thence now, strongly
recommended to Dr. Brabazon.

"I am very glad to see you," said the doctor, taking his hand in his
simple, cordial manner. "Welcome to England! I have been expecting you
since the morning."

"We had a bad passage, sir; the boat was late by many hours. It was due
at ten this morning, but we only got in an hour or two ago."

The words were spoken without any foreign accent. Not only that: the
tone was that of a refined Englishman. The fact gave satisfaction to
Dr. Brabazon, who liked his pupils to be surrounded by good
associations in all ways.

"Will you kindly tell me where I am to lodge?"

"Here, for a few days," said Dr. Brabazon. "As you were so complete a
stranger, we thought you might like best to fix, yourself, upon
lodgings. It is some years since you were in England, I think?"

"Nine years, sir."

"Nine years! Dear me! You have not many friends, then, I conclude, in
your own country?"

Mr. Henry shook his head. "Few men are much more friendless than I am."

And the accent sounded friendless. There was something singularly
attractive about this young man, in his gentle manner, his sensitive,
shrinking shyness (for so it seemed), his sad, earnest brown eyes: and
Dr. Brabazon's heart went out to him.

"You shall be shown your room, Mr. Henry," he said, "and then my
daughter will give you some tea."

Later, Dr. Brabazon took him through the passages, on either side of
which were rooms appropriated to particular studies, to the lofty hall,
which was the chief schoolroom. A long room, with high windows on one
side of it; the masters' desks in the angles of the room, and the long
desks of the boys ranged against the sides. Dr. Brabazon's place was at
the upper end, in the centre, facing the door, so that he commanded
full view of all. Three masters lived in the house: the Reverend Mr.
Jebb; Mr. Baker, the mathematical master, and Mr. Long, who took
English generally, some of the natural sciences, and was supposed to
superintend the boys out of hours. Mr. Jebb assisted Dr. Brabazon with
the classics, and the latter took divinity. The other masters lived
out. Dr. Brabazon introduced Mr. Henry to the clergyman and Mr. Long,
and left him. Mr. Baker was not there.

The boys were renewing private friendships, telling tales of their
holidays, hatching mischief for the coming term, criticising a few
new-comers, and making a continuous hum. Their ages varied from ten to
eighteen. On the whole, they seemed a rather superior set; for one
thing, the terms were high, and that tended to keep the school select.

A sudden "Hiss-is-s," from the lips of Master Richard Loftus—or, as he
was called in the school, Loftus minor—suppressed almost before it was
heard, caused the group, of whom he was the centre, to look round.

"What is it, Dick?"

"Don't you see?" whispered Dick. "A nice amount of brass _he_ must
have, to show himself here again! Look at him, Onions; he looks more of
a sneak than ever."

Onions lifted his eyebrows in his cool, but not ill-natured manner, as
he surveyed the boy coming in. It was Edwin Lamb. His hair was of a
glowing red, and his eyes had a kind of look as if they were not quite
straight. Not for that did the boys dislike him, but because he had
been found out in one or two dishonourable falsehoods: they brought it
out short, "lies:" and was more than suspected of carrying private
tales to Mr. Long. They called him "Le Monton," "the Sneak," "Jackal,"
and other pleasant names. In short, there was a great amount of
prejudice against him; more, perhaps, than the boy really deserved.

"Don't let any fellow speak to him! Don't let's——"

"Hold your tongue, Loftus minor. Allow bygones to be bygones. Time
enough to turn against Lamb when you find fresh cause."

The rebuke, spoken civilly, came from Raymond Trace, who happened to
overhear the words, and who never willingly offended anybody. Not that
Trace was a favourite in the college; none of them liked him much,
without being able to explain why. Dick Loftus turned with a quick,
scared look, wondering whether Mr. Trace had also overheard a private
colloquy he had been holding with a very chosen companion, Tom Smart.
He did not answer Trace; as a rule the younger fellows had to obey the
seniors.

At the sound of a bell, they began to hurry into a small place, called
the robing-closet, where their caps and gowns were kept. Putting on the
gowns, and carrying the caps in their hands, they went to the
call-room, waiting there to be marshalled into chapel. The caps, or
trenchers, were used always; the gowns were worn in chapel and on what
might be called state occasions, such as the examinations, also at
lectures; sometimes they wore them out of doors, but not in school
ordinarily, nor when they were at play. The masters' gowns, worn always
in public, were of the same make as the boys': the caps were all alike
in form, but the masters' were distinguished by a scarlet tassel in
addition to the black one.

It was a small pretty chapel, the size of an ordinary room, the lectern
slightly raised, and a standing desk for the lessons. The senior boys,
meaning those of the first desk, read the lessons in turn. Part of the
service was intoned, part read, part sung. Mr. Long, a good musician,
took the organ to-night, and Dr. Brabazon, as was mostly usual, was in
the reading desk. Mr. Loftus, as first senior present, left his place
to read the first lesson. He read very well; clearly and distinctly,
though somewhat coldly. Raymond Trace read the second lesson. His voice
was subdued; its accent to some ears almost offensively
humble—offensive because there was a ring in it of affected piety that
could never be genuine. No such voice as that, no such assumption of
humility, ever yet proceeded from a truly honest nature.

"That young man is a hypocrite!" involuntarily thought the new master,
Mr. Henry. "Heaven forgive me!" he added, a moment after; "what am I
that I should judge another?"

He did not know the name of the reader; he did not know yet the name of
any one of the boys surrounding him; but he had been studying their
faces, as it was natural he should do, considering that he had come to
live amongst them. Instinct led Mr. Henry to study the human
countenance—to be studying it always, unconsciously; and he was rarely
deceived in it.

On ordinary evenings the supper was served immediately after they came
out of chapel; but on this, when neither things nor scholars had shaken
down into their routine, there appeared no signs of its being ready.
Several of the fellows were expected yet, and the discipline, obtaining
customarily, had not commenced. Two of them, at any rate, took some
undue advantage of it. Going out after chapel was against the rules;
perhaps Mr. Dick Loftus considered he might, on this night, break it
with impunity.

Hanging up his gown in its place, he went stealing along the passages
again towards the chapel, carrying a brown paper parcel, which he tried
to cover with his trencher, lest curious eyes might be about. His
friend Smart went stealing after him, and they turned off through a
door into an open quadrangle; on three sides of which ran a covered
gallery or passage, with a brick floor and Gothic pillars, called the
cloisters; on the fourth side were the great gates that formed the
scholars' entrance. A truck of luggage was coming in from the railway
station; Dick and the other slipped past it.

Now what had these two got in that parcel, guarded with so much care?
Mischief, you may be sure. It was the parcel that Loftus major had
picked up on his arrival, and taken off to his room; and it contained
nothing less than a pair of pistols. Mr. Loftus had recently purchased
these pistols; he thought their acquisition one of the greatest
feathers his cap could display, and he had not resisted the temptation
to take them with him to show his compeers. Of course some secrecy had
to be observed, for Dr. Brabazon would as soon have allowed him to
bring a live bear into the college, and the case they lay in had been
well wrapped in wadding, and otherwise disguised. Loftus minor, Mr.
Dick, who was burning to finger these pistols, and had not yet obtained
the ghost of a chance to do it, thought he saw it on this evening. He
found out where his brother had placed them, brought them down, hid
them while he went into chapel, made a confidant of Smart, and the two
stole out with them. They had no particular motive in taking the
pistols abroad, except that there was little opportunity for a private
leisurely view indoors.

Crossing the wide road, they plunged into what was called the
plantation: a large plot of ground intersected with young trees; or,
rather, trees that had been young, for they were getting of a
sheltering size now. A cricket-field lay to the left, beyond the chapel
end-window; the station was in the distance; houses were dotted about;
none, however, in the immediate vicinity. It was a beautiful moonlight
night; and the boys chose an open place amid the trees, where there was
a bench, and the beams were bright. There they undid the parcel, and
touched the spring of the box.

Bright beams beyond doubt; but not so bright to the four admiring eyes
as the pistol barrels. Never had such pistols been seen, although
Loftus major—as Mr. Dick communicated in open-hearted confidence—had
only given an old song for them at some pawnbroker's. They lifted, they
touched, they stroked, they cocked, they took aim. The caps were on;
and it was only by an amount of incomprehensible self-denial, that they
did not fire. But that might have betrayed all; and Dick Loftus, though
daring a great deal in a harmless sort of way, did not dare that. Dick
fenced with the one, Smart with the other; they were like a couple of
little children, playing with make-believe swords.

All in a moment, Dick caught sight of a trencher, poking itself
gingerly through the trees, and regarding them. A master's trencher,
too, for the two tassels, one over the other, were distinctly visible.
With a smothered cry of warning to his companion, Dick vanished,
carrying his pistol with him. Smart, nearly beside himself with terror
when he comprehended the situation, vanished in Dick's wake; but in his
confusion he dropped his pistol into the sheet of wadding on the bench.

The coast clear, the spy (an unintentional spy, it must be confessed)
came forward. It was not a master; it was one of the boys, who, in
coming out, had unwittingly caught up a master's trencher in mistake
for his own. He took up the pistol and examined it—he turned over the
wadding on which it lay, and the brown paper, and the case;
scrutinizing all carefully in the moonlight, and coming on a written
direction at last.

"Oh, indeed! 'Albert Loftus, Esquire'! What does he want with pistols?
Is he thinking to shoot any one of the fellows? And Mr. Dick has stolen
a march on him, and brought them out, has he?"

He took up the pistol, looked at it again, critically held it for a
minute before him; then took aim, and fired it off. The answer to this
was a human cry and a fall; the charge—shot or bullet, which ever it
might be—had taken effect on some one but a few paces off. The culprit
remained perfectly still for one minute, possibly scared at what he had
done; he then quietly put the pistol on the case, crept off on tiptoe
amidst the trees, and—came face to face with the new master, Mr. Henry.

Mr. Henry was on his road to the station to order his luggage to the
college. He had left it on his arrival, not knowing where he was to
lodge. Dr. Brabazon had offered to send a servant, but Mr. Henry
coveted the walk in the cool, lovely night; he and his head were alike
feverish from the effects of the sea voyage; so they directed him
through the plantation, as being the nearest way.

Face to face. But only one glimpse did Mr. Henry catch of the meeting
face, for the boy's hand was suddenly raised to cover it, even while he
took flight. A moan or two, and then a loud shout for assistance—as if
the sufferer, on second thoughts, deemed it would be better to shout
than to groan—guided Mr. Henry to the spot. He was lying close by, in
an intersecting path of the plantation, a boy of some sixteen years,
whose trencher showed he belonged to Orville College.

"Who is it?" asked Mr. Henry.

"Talbot," shortly answered the boy. "I say, though, who are you? How
came you to shoot me?"

"It was not I who did it. I heard the shot as I came up. Where are you
hurt?"

"In my leg, I think. I can't move it. I only got in by this train, for
I missed the one in the afternoon, and was running through here, full
pelt, when somebody takes a shot at me! Cool, I must say!"

The master raised him, but the right leg seemed nearly helpless, so he
laid him down again, and ran to the college for assistance. But as Mr.
Henry was turning away, the white wadding on the bench caught his eye,
and he found the pistol and its accessories. These he carried with him.

Dick Loftus, hiding in the distant trees, could bear the suspense no
longer. Something was wrong; some untoward event had occurred; and he
came forward in disregard of Smart's prayers and entreaties. Dick was
of an open honourable nature, in spite of his pursuit of mischief and
his impulsive thoughtlessness: he never hesitated to take his escapades
on himself, when real necessity arose.

"I'm blest! Why, it's the earl!" he shouted out. "Smart! Smart! come
here. It's the Earl of Shrewsbury!"

"Is that you, Dick?" exclaimed the wounded boy, looking up as Dick bent
over him in the moonlight. "Did you do it?"

"No, I didn't," said Dick. "I say, old fellow, is it much! I wish his
pistols had been buried before I'd brought 'em out!"

"How was it all? Whose are the pistols?" questioned Talbot. And Mr.
Dick, in an ecstasy of contrition, but vowing vengeance against the
shooter, whoever it might be, entered on his explanation. To do him
justice, he gave it without the least reserve. And Tom Smart, shivering
amid the thickest trees, at a safe distance, daring to stir neither one
way nor the other, lest he should be seen, and who had not heard the
salutation, wondered whether Dick would keep his word, and not mention
his name in connection with the calamity.

A fine commotion arose in the college when Mr. Henry got back with the
news. One of the gentlemen had been shot in the plantation!—shot by a
fellow student! It was incredible. Mr. Henry, breaking away from the
throng, quietly gave Dr. Brabazon an account of the whole, as far as he
was cognizant of it: how that he had heard a shot quite close to him,
followed by a cry, and had caught a glimpse of a youth stealing away.
He gave no clue as to who the youth was; apparently did not know; and
of course could not know positively that it was he who had fired; he
recognized him as belonging to Orville College by the cap. It was but a
hurried explanation; there was no time to waste in question and answer;
Talbot must be seen to.

He was brought in on a hurdle, and a surgeon summoned. On the first day
of this boy's entrance at the college, when Dr. Brabazon, the roll
before him, asked his name, the answer was, "James Talbot." "James
Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury?" jokingly responded the doctor, in allusion
to one noted in English history; and from that hour Talbot had gone by
no other name in the school. Of a good-natured, generous disposition,
he was ever ready to do a kind action, and was liked immensely. Not
that he had much to be generous with in one sense: his father was a
banker's clerk; very poor; struggling with life; and pinching himself
in all ways to keep his son at Orville.

Not during the first confusion did a suspicion, that the offending
pistol could have any connection with a certain brown paper
treasure-parcel upstairs, penetrate to the brain of Loftus major: not
until Dick's name arose into prominence. Up to his room stepped Mr.
Loftus, six stairs at a stride, pulled open a drawer, essayed to lay
his hands upon the parcel, and—found it was not there. He could not
believe his own eyes; he stared, he felt, he stood in a mazed sort of
bewilderment. Meddle with _his_ things! that wretched Dick, who was
nearly three years his junior, and held at arm's-length
accordingly!—with his new pistols, that were only brought en cachette!
When Loftus major recovered his equanimity sufficiently to think, he
came to the conclusion that hanging would be too good for Dick.



CHAPTER II.

The New Boy.

The Rev. Mr. Jebb and the new German master stood over the bed of James
Talbot. The surgeon had been busy; he had extracted the shots from the
leg, and pronounced the injury to be not material. Talbot must be kept
quiet, he said, both in mind and body.

"It's a very strange affair," murmured the clergyman into Mr. Henry's
ear. "Dr. Brabazon's opinion is, that it must have been Loftus minor,
after all, who fired off the pistol."

"It never was, then," unceremoniously spoke up the patient. "When Dick
Loftus says he didn't do a thing, I know he _didn't_."

"You are not to talk, Talbot," interrupted Mr. Jebb: and the two
gentlemen moved away from the bed. Mr. Henry began to ask who Dick
Loftus was.

"He is brother to the second senior of the school," was the clergyman's
reply. "You may have remarked Loftus major in chapel, from the
circumstance that he read the lesson."

"Which of the lessons? I noticed the readers of both."

"The first lesson. The second was read by Trace."

"Trace?" echoed Mr. Henry.

"You are thinking it an uncommon name. Raymond Trace; he is cousin to
the Loftus boys. There's quite a romance attaching to their history,"
proceeded the clergyman, who was a bit of a gossip, and he dropped his
voice as he spoke. "The two fathers were in partnership in Liverpool,
stock and share brokers, quite a first-class house, and much respected.
Unfortunately they took in a partner, and before two years were over he
ruined them. He issued false shares, put forged bills in circulation—I
hardly know what he did not do. They were quite ruined; at least, it
was ruin compared to what their former wealth had been. The house was
broken up; all its debts were paid; and Mr. Loftus retired to the Isle
of Wight upon a small private property. He had lived there previously,
never having taken a very practical part in the business. The other
partner, Mr. Trace, went abroad, hoping to carve out a second fortune.
I hear he is doing it."

"And these are the sons?" observed the German master, after a pause.

"These are the sons. Mr. Loftus has several children, Mr. Trace only
this one. Mrs. Loftus and Mrs. Trace were sisters. Their brother, Sir
Simon Orville, a retired city man, lives here close to the college; he
is some distant relative of its founder. The three boys were placed at
it two years ago, and it is thought Sir Simon pays for them. They spend
their vacations generally at his house: Trace always does. He has no
other home in England: Mrs. Trace is dead."

The injured boy stirred uneasily, and Mr. Henry hastened to him. "Do
you feel much pain?" he kindly asked.

"Rather sharpish for that," was the answer. "I say, sir, you—you don't
think I shall die?" and the bright brown eyes looked wistfully up at
the master's, as the sudden anxious question was whispered. "It's my
mother I am thinking of," added Talbot, by way of excuse.

"So far as I believe, there's no danger," replied Mr. Henry, bending
down to him and pushing the hair off his hot brow. "Only put yourself
trustingly into God's care, my boy—have you learnt to do it?—and rely
upon it, all shall be for the best."

Miss Brabazon and a nurse came into the room and the gentlemen prepared
to leave it. Mr. Henry went first. Talbot put out his hand and detained
Mr. Jebb.

"I say, sir, who _is_ that?"

"The new foreign master. Do you keep yourself tranquil, Talbot."

With the morning came the discipline of school rules. Talbot was going
on quite favourably, and all outward excitement had subsided. The
breakfast hour was half-past seven; from eight to a quarter-past the
pupils from the masters' houses arrived, also those who lived
altogether out of bounds, with their friends or in lodgings;
slightingly called by the college, these latter, "outsiders." During
this quarter of an hour the roll was called, and the boys did what they
pleased: it was recreation with them. At a quarter-past eight the
chapel bell called all to service.

The boys stood in groups this morning in the quadrangle, not availing
themselves of their liberty to be noisy during this quarter of an hour,
but discussing in an undertone the startling events of the previous
night. Dick Loftus had openly avowed the whole; and somebody, not Dick,
had contrived to betray Mr. Smart's share in it. Dick protested that
whoever had peered at them was a master: he judged by the cap. It
appeared equally certain that it could not have been a master: the only
masters arrived were Mr. Jebb and Mr. Long, and they, at this very
selfsame hour, had been with Dr. Brabazon in his private study. But it
was easy for any one of the senior boys to have taken up a master's
trencher by mistake, or to have gone out in it wilfully to mislead. Had
the boy, whoever it was, purposely shot Talbot? The opinion, rejected
at first, was gaining ground now; led to, possibly, by the
appropriation of the master's cap. Altogether it was a very unpleasant
affair, enshrouded in some mystery.

William Gall was there this morning, the senior of the school; a
slight, short young man, the age of Loftus major, with an undoubted
ugly face, but an honest one, and dark hair. There was not much good
feeling existing between Gall and Loftus, as was well known, but it had
never broken into an open explosion. Gall despised Loftus for his pride
and his fopperies, his assumption of superiority and condescension; and
Loftus looked down on Gall and his family as vulgar city people. The
Galls lived at Orville Green, but the son was an in-door scholar. Mr.
Gall was in some mysterious trade that had to do with tallow. There was
plenty of money; but Loftus thought, on the whole, that it was out of
the order of right things for the son of a tallow-man to be head of the
college and senior over _him_.

Three or four new scholars came straggling in during this quarter of an
hour, and they attracted the usual amount of attention and quizzing.
One of them was a tall, agile, upright boy of sixteen, or rather more,
with a handsome, open countenance, dark chestnut hair, and bright grey
eyes. He stood looking about, as if uncertain where to go. Mr. Long
went up to him.

"Are you belonging to the college?—a new student?"

"Yes."

"If you pass through that side of the cloisters and turn to the left,
you will find the call-room. Mr. Baker is there with the roll,
inscribing the new names as they come in, and he will add yours. What
is your name?"

"Paradyne."

There was a free, frank sound in the voice, though the words spoken had
been but two; and the boy lifted his hat (he would not get his cap and
gown for a day or two) with somewhat of foreign courtesy as he turned
away to the cloister. Mr. Henry, who had heard the name, hastened after
him and overtook him in the cloister passage.

"You are George Paradyne?"

"Yes. And you are——"

"Mr. Henry."

Their hands were locked together; they gazed into each other's face. "I
don't think I should have known you," said the boy.

"No? I should have known you anywhere. It is the same face, not
changed; but you have grown from a little boy into a great one."

"_Your_ face is changed. It is thinner and paler, and—somehow——"

"Well?" said Mr. Henry, for the sentence had come to a stop midway.
"Speak out."

"It is a sadder sort of face than it used to he. Are you quite well?"

"Yes, I am well. I don't know that I am strong. Good-bye for now,"
hastily added Mr. Henry. "Mr. Long has told you where to go."

The boy continued his way up the cloister, and another ran up to Mr.
Henry—a second-desk boy named Powell.

"I say, sir, do you know that new fellow?"

"I used to know him," replied Mr. Henry. "But I have not seen him for
several years."

"Lamb says he thinks he is an outsider. I like the look of him. Where
did you know him, Mr. Henry?"

"At the Heidelberg University. He was a young pupil there, when I was a
junior master."

Mr. Powell's face grew considerably longer. "At the Heidelberg
University! Does he speak German?"

"He used to speak it perfectly. I dare say he does still."

"That's blue, though," was the rejoinder. "I'm going in for the German
prize: but who can stand against a fellow who has been in Germany? He's
sure to be at our desk. What's his name, sir?"

"You will learn it in good time, no doubt," called back Mr. Henry, who
was hastening away as if he were in a hurry. And Mr. Powell vaulted
over the open cloister wall into the quadrangle: which was against
rules.

A few moments, and the chapel-bell rang out. The boys got their caps
and gowns, and went into the call-room. Dr. Brabazon came up in his
surplice and hood, and they followed him into chapel.

Possibly it was because Mr. Trace had no duty to perform—for Gall and
Loftus read the lessons—that his sight recreated itself with scanning
the new scholars. Not so much the whole of them, and there were nine or
ten, as one—George Paradyne. It was not a stare; Trace never stared;
his eyes were drawn together so closely that even Paradyne himself
could not have known he was being looked at; but nevertheless, so
intent was Trace's gaze, so absorbed was he in the new face, that at
the end of the _Te Deum_ he quite forgot to sit down, and remained
standing, to the amusement of his friends.

"I wonder if it _is_," spoke Trace to himself, as they left the chapel.
And he inquired of two or three what that new fellow's name was, but
could not learn it.

"He's some crony of the new master's," spoke Powell; "I saw them
shaking hands like mad. It'll be an awful shame for him to be put in
our class, if he _is_ up in German."

Trace had not waited to hear the conclusion; the boys were hastening to
take their places in school. On this morning, until their state of
advancement could be ascertained, the fresh boys were ordered to a
bench opposite the first desk. Trace, who sat next to Loftus, directed
his attention to this new boy.

"Do you recognise him, Bertie?" he asked in a whisper.

"Recognise him? no," drawled Mr. Loftus, as if it were entirely beneath
him to recognise any new fellow. And he could think of nothing but his
pistols. Which Dr. Brabazon had taken possession of.

"Look at his face well," continued Trace. "Can you see no likeness to
one you once knew?"

"Not I." And this time Mr. Loftus did not speak until he had taken a
good look at the boy. "Don't know the face from Adam."

"Well, perhaps I am mistaken," mused Trace. "It's a long while since I
saw the other."

But, nevertheless, in spite of this conclusion, Trace could not keep
his eyes off the face, and his studies suffered. The boy went up to Dr.
Brabazon for examination, as it was usual for a new scholar to do; and
Trace's ears were bent to catch the sound of the voice, if haply it
might hear recognition for his memory. The head master found the boy
thoroughly well advanced in his studies, and a suspicion arose in the
school that he would be placed at the first desk. Loftus heard somebody
say it, and elevated his eyebrows in displeasure. When the school rose,
Trace went up to Mr. Baker.

"I beg your pardon, sir; would you allow me to look for one minute at
the roll?"

"At the roll?—what for?" returned Mr. Baker, who was a little man with
a bald head.

"I think I know one of the new boys, sir. I want to see his name."

There was no rule against showing the roll, and Mr. Baker took it out
of his desk. Trace ran his finger down the new names—which were entered
at the end until their places should be allotted—and it halted at one.

"_George Paradyne!_" he mentally read. "Thank you, sir," he said aloud,
with the quiet civility characteristic of him: and Mr. Baker locked up
the roll again.

For once in his college life, a burning spot of emotion might have been
seen on Raymond Trace's cheek. A foul injury, as he regarded it, had
been done to his family and fortune by the father of George Paradyne;
and he deemed that the son had no more right to be receiving his
education with honest men's sons, as their equal and associate, than
darkness has to be made hail-fellow-well-met with light. He went in
search of Loftus. Loftus was leaning over the open wall, his legs in
the cloisters, his head in the quadrangle, and his arm round a huge
pillar, ruminating bitterly on the wrongs dealt out to himself, on
Dick's wickedness, and the ignominy of possessing pistols that one
can't get at.

"I thought I was not mistaken in the fellow," began Trace. "It is
George Paradyne."

"Who?" cried Loftus, starting round, aroused by the name.

"George Paradyne: Paradyne's son."

"No! Do you mean that fellow you asked about? It can't be."

"It _is_. I knew him, I tell you; and I've been looking at the name on
the roll. Your memory must be a bad one, Loftus, not to have recognised
the face also."

Loftus drew a deep breath, as if unable to take in the full sense of
the words. But he never _displayed_ much surprise at anything.

"I don't suppose I saw the fellow three times in my life," he presently
said. "We did not live on the spot, as you did; and it is so long ago."

"What's to be done? He can't be allowed to stay here."

Loftus shrugged his shoulders, French fashion, having no answer at
hand. "Brabazon is not aware of who he is, I suppose?"

"Impossible; or he'd never have admitted him. One can overlook some
things in a fellow's antecedents; but _forgery_—that's rather too
strong. If the rest of the college chose to tolerate him, you and I and
Dick could not."

Mr. Loftus threw up his condemning nose at the latter addition. Dick,
indeed! Dick seemed to be going in for something too bad on his own
score, to be fastidious as to the society he kept.

"What's the matter?" inquired one of the first-class boys, Irby, coming
up to them from the middle of the quadrangle, and leaning his arms on
the cloister wall, to talk face to face.

"That new fellow, Paradyne—do you know which of them he is?" broke off
Trace.

Irby nodded. "A good-looking chap, don't you mean? Well up in his
classics."

"Well up in them by the help of stolen money, I suppose," spoke Trace,
an angry light for a moment gleaming in his eye. "You have heard, Irby,
of that dreadful business of ours at Liverpool, some four years ago,
when Loftus & Trace, the best and richest and most respected firm in
the town, were ruined through a man they had taken in as partner?"

"I've heard something of it," said Irby, wondering.

"This new fellow, Paradyne, is the man's son."

Irby gave a low whistle. "Let's hear the particulars, Trace."

And Trace proceeded to give them. Irby was a great friend of his, and
there were no other ears in view. Loftus drew himself up against the
pillar, and stood there with his arms folded, listening in silence; all
of them unconscious that Mr. Henry was on the other side of the pillar,
taking a sketch of the quadrangle and the door of the chapel.

You heard something of the tale, reader, from Mr. Jebb last night, and
there's not much more to be told. Trace, speaking quietly, as he always
did, enlarged upon the wrongs dealt out to his father and Mr. Loftus,
by the man Paradyne. It was the most miserable business that ever came
out to the world, he said, blighting all their prospects for life;
never a rogue, so great, went unhung.

"And he had only been with them a couple of years," he wound up with;
"only a couple of years! The marvel was, that he could have done so
much mischief in so short a time—"

"The marvel was, that he could have done it at all without being
detected," interposed Loftus, speaking for the first time.

"Yes," corrected Trace; "people could not understand how he contrived
to hoodwink my father. But that came of over-confidence: he had such
blind trust in Paradyne."

"Why did they take him in partner at all?" asked Irby.

"Ah, why indeed!" responded Trace, pushing his trencher up with a
petulant jerk, as if the past transaction were a present and personal
wrong. "But the business had grown too large for one head, and Mr.
Loftus was almost a sleeping partner. Who was to suppose it would turn
out so? If we could only foresee the end of things at the beginning!"

"Let it drop, Trace," said Loftus. "It's not so pleasant a thing to
recall."

"The fellow called himself Captain Paradyne; he came introduced to them
grandly," resumed Trace, in utter disregard of the interruption. "Of
course he dropped the 'Captain' when he joined them."

"Was the man hung?" questioned Irby.

"Neither hung nor transported; he saved himself. On the evening of his
first examination before the magistrates," continued Trace, "after he
was put back in the cell, he took poison."

Irby's eyes grew round with awe. "What a wicked simpleton he must have
been to do that! Poor fellow, though," he added, a feeling of
compassion stealing over him, "I dare say he—"

"When you undertake to relate a history, gentlemen, you should confine
yourselves to the truth. Mr. Paradyne did not take poison. He died of
heart disease, brought on by excitement."

The interruption was Mr. Henry's. He quietly put his head round the
pillar, and then came into full view, with his sketch-book and pencil.

"How do you know anything about it?" demanded Trace, recovering from
his surprise.

"I do happen to know about it," was the calm answer. "The case was bad
enough, as Heaven knew; but you need not make it worse."

"It was reported that he took poison," persisted Trace.

"Only at the first moment. When he was found dead, people naturally
leaped to that conclusion, and the newspapers published it as a fact.
But on the inquest it was proved by the medical men that he had died
from natural causes. I think," added Mr. Henry, in a dreamy kind of
tone, "that that report arose in mercy."

The three boys stared at him questioningly.

"To his friends the business of itself was cruel enough—the discovery
that he, whom they had so respected as the soul of honour, was
unworthy," pursued the master. "Then followed the worse report of his
self-destruction, and in that shock of horror the other was lost—was as
nothing. But when the truth came to light on the following day—that he
had not laid guilty hands on himself, but that God had taken him,—why,
the revulsion of feeling, the thankfulness, was so great as to seem
like a very boon from Heaven. It enabled them to bear the disgrace as a
lesser evil: the blow had lost its sting."

"Did you know him?" questioned Trace.

"I knew him in Germany. And these particulars, when they occurred, were
written over to me."

"Perhaps you respected him in Germany?" cynically added Trace, who
could not speak or think coldly of the unfortunate Captain Paradyne
with his usual degree of equable temper.

"I never respected any one so much," avowed Mr. Henry, a scarlet spot
of hectic arising in his pale cheeks.

Trace made no rejoinder. To contend was not his habit. It was
impossible he could think worse of any one than of the unhappy man in
question, and nothing had ever convinced Trace fully that the death was
a natural one.

"He has been dead four years," gently suggested Mr. Henry, as if
bespeaking their mercy for his memory. "As to his son, it must be a
question for Dr. Brabazon of course whether or not he remains here; but
I would ask you what he, the boy, has done, that you should visit the
past upon him? Can you not imagine that the calamity itself is a
sufficient blight on his life? Be generous, and do not proclaim him to
the school."

"It would be more generous not to do it," candidly avowed Irby, who had
a good-natured, ready tongue. "Of course it was not the boy's fault; we
shall lose nothing by it."

"Lose!" repeated Mr. Henry. "If you only knew the gain! There's not a
kind action that we ever do, but insures its own reward; there's not a
word of ill-nature, a secret deed of malice, but comes home to us
fourfold, sooner or later. Look out carefully as you go through life,
and see whether I do not tell you truth."

"Young Paradyne is free for me," said Loftus, speaking up frankly. And
Irby nodded his head in acquiescence.

"Thank you greatly; I shall take it as a kindness shown myself," said
Mr. Henry. He turned and looked at Trace.

"Of course, if Mr. Henry wishes the thing to be hushed up, and Dr.
Brabazon to be left in ignorance——"

"Stay," said the master, interrupting Trace's words. "You heard me say
a moment ago that it must be a question for Dr. Brabazon whether or not
Paradyne remains here. But I think that Dr. Brabazon would, in either
event, counsel you not to denounce the boy publicly."

"I am not given to denounce my companions publicly; or privately
either: as you perhaps will find when you are used to us," was Trace's
rejoinder, delivered with civility. "If the doctor condones the past,
why, let it be condoned; I can't say more. But the sooner the question
is decided, the better."

"Undoubtedly."

Mr. Henry turned round with the last word, and applied himself to his
drawing. Loftus and Irby strolled away, and Trace besought an interview
with Dr. Brabazon. It was at once accorded; and he told him who
Paradyne was. To do Trace justice, he spoke without prejudice; not
alluding minutely to past facts, but simply saying that the new
scholar, George Paradyne, was the son of the man who had committed all
sorts of ill, and ruined his father and Mr. Loftus.

"And you and Loftus think you can't study with him!" observed the
doctor, when he had listened, and asked a few questions.

"I did not say that, sir: it is for you to decide. We shall get over
the unpleasantness by degrees, no doubt, if he does stay on."

"Very well, Trace; I'll consider of it. Keep a strictly silent tongue
about it in the college."

The interview did not last many minutes. Soon after its termination, an
authoritative cry was heard down the cloisters for Loftus major.

"Here," shouted Loftus from the other end of the quadrangle.

"You are to go in to the Head Master."

Away went Loftus in his indolent fashion; he rarely hurried himself for
anything. Dr. Brabazon met him at his study door: he put into his hands
a parcel tied with string, and sealed at the ends with the doctor's
seal.

"Your pistols, Loftus. I shall have something to say to you later, in
regard to them and the calamity you have most unjustifiably been the
means of causing. Take them back at once; and make my compliments to
Sir Simon, and say I particularly wish to see him. Perhaps he will
oblige me by coming over: to-day, if possible. You'll be back to
dinner, if you put your best foot foremost."

Mr. Loftus flung on his gown and cap, and went away with the parcel in
an access of private rage. It was so mortifying! it was the very acme
of humiliation!—a dog with a burnt tail could feel jolly, in
comparison. Some of the middle-school boys, leaping over the road from
the plantation, came right upon him. That incorrigible Dick was one of
them, and he recognized the parcel.

"It's the pistols," proclaimed Dick. "Brabazon has turned them out. I
say, Bertie, though, that's not so bad; we had bets that he'd
confiscate them."

"A pity but he could confiscate you," was the scornful retort thrown
back.

Dick laughed. The throng echoed it. But Mr. Loftus went on his way, and
made no further sign, his fine figure drawn to its full height, and his
nose held in the air.



CHAPTER III.

Hard and Obstinate as Nails.

Dr. Brabazon sat at his desk-table, birch in hand. Not often were the
whole of the boys assembled in hall as on this afternoon; there were
smaller rooms appropriated to particular branches of study. A huge
birch, apparently made out of ten besoms. The stump rested on the
table, the pointed end with its tickling twigs, tapered aloft in the
air. This formidable weapon, meant to inspire wholesome awe, had never
been used within memory. Very rarely was it taken from its receptacle
to be held _in terrorem_, as now, over the different desks, running
down the side walls of the long room, and along the end of it.

The shooting of James Talbot the previous night in the plantation: was
it an accident, or was it done of deliberation? This was what the Head
Master wanted to get at: and he very particularly wanted to get at the
gentleman who did it. Dick Loftus had made a clean breast of it,
offhand; for it was in Dick's nature so to do. But, in spite of all the
questioning; private, individual, and collective;—in spite of putting
the school upon its honour;—in spite of the offered promise that the
boy, if an accident, should be held harmless, nobody came forward to
confess; the whole lot remained, as the Doctor in his vexation
expressed it, "hard and obstinate as nails." So then the birch was got
out.

"Gentlemen, I feel sure it was a pure accident, and I could extend my
free forgiveness to the offender if he will only come forward in honour
and avow himself. Talbot is going on well; will be amidst us again, I
hope, in a few days; there's no earthly reason for his refusing to
acknowledge himself. Mrs. Talbot, sitting now with her son, says she
forgives him heartily. She is a Christian woman, gentlemen, and she is
sorry for the boy, instead of angry with him, because she knows how
sorry he must be himself for this. 'Accidents and moments of
thoughtlessness happen to us all,' she has just remarked to me: and so
they do. Come! I hope there's some honour left amidst us yet."

The appeal elicited no response. And yet, that one of the boys present
had been guilty, there could be little doubt; or that he had gone out
in a master's cap by accident or design. In the confusion of the news
the previous night, when a rush was made to the robing closet, the caps
of the two masters, then arrived, were found hanging there. Upon the
boys being mustered, all who were known to have returned to school
answered to their names. There was no confusion, no sign of guilt
observable in any one of the responders: nevertheless, the offender
must have made a run, as if for his life, sneaked in, replaced the cap,
and mingled with the others.

"_Won't_ you speak?" reiterated the Doctor, casting his eyes around in
anger.

But not one answered.

Up went the birch, and came down again on its hard end. Dr. Brabazon
was by no means a choleric man; but he could be so when greatly
provoked.

"Mr. Henry—no, don't rise, don't quit your place—of what height was the
boy you saw running away?"

The Doctor's voice—a sonorous voice at all times—went rolling down the
spacious room to the opposite corner, where Mr. Henry sat behind his
desk. The latter hesitated in his reply, and the boys turned their eyes
from the Head Master to him.

"I cannot say positively, sir," was the foreign master's answer. "It
was so momentary a glimpse that I caught."

"Yet you met him—as I am given to understand—face to face!"

"I did; but he glided aside at once amidst the trees. He was of a good
height."

"Tall enough for a senior boy?"

"Yes, certainly: I think so."

The birch agitated itself gently, as if the Doctor's hand shook a
little, and he looked full at the first desk, regarding those seated at
it in individual turn.

"I thought I could have _trusted_ you all; I deemed there was not one
of you that I might not have relied upon. Gall, did you do this? I ask
you chiefly for form's sake, for you had not come back to college. Did
you fire, by accident or design, this pistol off in the plantation last
night?"

"No, sir, I did not," replied Gall, slightly rising in his place to
answer.

"Did you, Loftus major?"

The exceeding satire of the question, as addressed to him, the wronged
owner of the abstracted weapon, nearly struck Loftus major dumb.

"Of course I did not, sir," he said, after a pause.

"Did you go out of college after prayers?"

"No."

"Trace, did you go out of college after prayers, and fire off this
pistol?"

"No, sir." And Trace's usual civility of tone was marked by a dash of
remonstrance at being asked. Suspect him, Mr. Trace, the model fellow
of the school! What next?

"Irby, did you?"

"I, sir! No, sir. It wasn't me, sir."

"Fullarton, did you?"

"I did not get back until this morning, sir."

"True. Brown major, did you do it?"

Brown Major, a simple fellow in most things, but with a rare capacity
for Latin and Greek, opened his eyes in pure wonder. "Please, sir, I
never fired off a pistol in my life, sir. I shouldn't know how to do
it, sir."

And so on. Not a boy at the first desk acknowledged it; and they
numbered twelve. The Doctor glanced at the second desk; some tall boys
were there; but he said no more. Perhaps he thought suspicion did not
lie with them; perhaps he would not afford them opportunity of telling
a falsehood.

"It seems, then, I am not to be told. Well,"—and he turned particularly
to the seniors—"I must believe that some mystery attaches to this
affair, and that not one of you is guilty. I will trust you still, as I
have ever done: only—do not let it come to my knowledge later that my
trust is a mistaken one."

He flung up the lower compartment of his table, put in the birch, and
shut it down with a bang. An uncomfortable feeling was on the Head
Master that day.

A thirteenth boy had been added to the first desk, in George Paradyne.
Mr. Baker had directed him to take his place at it after morning
school, in accordance with some words let fall by the Head Master, of
the boy's proficiency. The first desk was a very exclusive desk, not to
be invaded lightly by a new-comer, and the decision, an unusual one,
did not find favour. Paradyne was greeted with a stare of surprise, and
the desk turned its back upon him.

The afternoon studies proceeded as on other afternoons; but neither
masters nor boys felt at ease. Trace, especially, was in a state of
inward commotion, calm as he appeared outwardly. He supposed that Dr.
Brabazon had decided to retain Paradyne in the college, and he resented
it utterly. Mr. Trace had also one or two private matters of his own
troubling him, that it would not be convenient to speak of.

Loftus, as you perceive, was back in his place. He had walked on to his
uncle's before dinner, when despatched by the Head Master, carrying the
banished pistols in all the ignominy of the position. Sir Simon
Orville's residence was about half a mile from the college. Pond Place
it was called; an appellation that was supposed to have originated from
a large pond in the vicinity, and was excessively distasteful to Mr.
Loftus. A lovely spot, whatever it might be called, with the brightest
and rarest flowers clustering on the green slope before the low white
house. Sir Simon happened to be tending some of these flowers, as it
was his delight to do, when Loftus entered, and that young gentleman
was a little disconcerted at the encounter. In his present frame of
mind, he really did not want the additional humiliation of having to
explain to his uncle.

"Halloa!" cried Sir Simon, in surprise. "What brings you here?"

He was a little round man, with a red, kind face, shaped not unlike the
head of a codfish, and light hair that stuck up in a high point above
his forehead: one of the most unpretending, outspeaking men ever known,
who could not conceal that he had been "born nobody," imperfectly
educated, and had made his fortune laboriously and honestly by the work
of his hands. Now and then he burst out with these revelations before
the schoolboys, to whom he was fond of declaring his sentiments, to the
intense chagrin of Loftus major and the dancing delight of Dick. Sir
Simon, an old bachelor, was very kind and good, hospitable to
everybody, and making much of his nephews. He was fond of Albert
Loftus, distinguishing the really good qualities of the boy's nature,
though ridiculing his pride and self-assumption. "He'll get it taken
out of him," Sir Simon would say: and to do the knight justice, he
spared no opportunity of helping on the process of extermination.

Twitching at his grey garden coat, which caught, with the suddenness of
his turning, in a beautiful shrub that bore white flowers, Sir Simon
looked in his nephew's face: not quite so lofty a face as usual.

"What's the matter, Bertie? What's in that parcel?"

So Bertie Loftus had to explain: he had taken a brace of pistols to
school, and the Doctor had despatched them back again. Sir Simon
enjoyed the information immensely; that is the "despatching back"
portion of it. He knew very little about pistols himself; could not
remember, like Brown major, to have handled one in his life; and
regarded them rather in the light of a dangerous animal that you were
never sure of.

"I should have buried them in the ground, had I been the Doctor,
instead of giving them back to you. You'll come to some mischief, Mr.
Albert, if you meddle with edged tools."

"I'd as soon he had buried them, as sent me back with them in the face
of the school," avowed Loftus, in his subdued spirit. Very subdued just
now, for there was more behind. Too honourable not to tell the whole,
he went on to disclose the calamity that the pistols had caused. Sir
Simon was horror-struck.

"_Albert!_ You have shot a boy?"

"It was that miserable Dick," returned Loftus, looking as chapfallen as
it was possible for him, with his naturally proud face, to look. "I'm
very sorry, of course; I'd rather have been shot myself. But it was not
my fault, and Dick ought to be punished."

"No; you ought to be punished for taking the things to school," rebuked
Sir Simon. "It would be punishment enough for my whole life, sir, if I
had been the means of putting a fellow-creature's life in danger. Here,
stop! Where are you going now?"

"To put the pistols away," answered Loftus, who was turning to the
house.

"Are they loaded?"

"No, sir; not now."

"I'd not permit a loaded pistol to come inside my house, look you,
Albert. You'll shoot yourself, sir; that's what you'll do. And it's
poor Talbot, is it? I knew his father when I lived in Bermondsey."

Away went Loftus, feeling no security that the pistols were not going
to be confiscated here. He locked them up in the room he occupied when
staying at his uncle's, and came forth again directly, delivering the
Head Master's message as he passed Sir Simon.

"Very well; I'll come, tell Dr. Brabazon. I suppose he is going to
complain of this underhanded act of yours."

Mr. Loftus supposed so too: had supposed nothing else since the message
was given him.

"Here; stop a bit; don't stride off like that. I suppose you must
_eat_, though you have done your best to kill a boy. Will you have some
dinner? There's a beautiful couple of ducks."

"I can't stay, Uncle Simon: the Head Master ordered me back at once.
Thank you all the same."

Sir Simon nodded, and Bertie set off back again; leaving Pond Place
behind him, and the cherished pistols that had come altogether to
grief.

Sir Simon Orville knew the hours at the college, and he timed his visit
so as to catch Dr. Brabazon at the rising of afternoon school. The
Doctor took him into his study: a pleasant room, with a large bay
window at the back of the house, partially overlooking the boys'
playground, with its gymnastic poles. The middle compartment of the
window opened to the ground, French fashion.

Sir Simon spoke at once of the unhappy accident that his nephews had
been the means of causing; asking what he could do, how he could help
the poor boy, and insisting that all charges should be made his. He
then found it was not on that business Dr. Brabazon had sent for him,
but on the other annoying matter relating to George Paradyne. The
doctor stated the circumstances to him: that one of the new scholars,
entered that day, had been recognized by Trace to be the son of the
defaulting man, Paradyne.

"It vexed me greatly," observed the master, when he had concluded his
recital. "Somehow the term seems to have begun ungraciously. I suppose
there's no doubt that the boy is the same?"

"I daresay not," replied Sir Simon, standing up by the window. "Raymond
ought to know him."

"Ay. Well, it is a very vexatious matter, and one difficult to deal
with. Just at first, while Trace was speaking, I thought there could be
only one course—that of putting Paradyne away. But the cruel injustice
of this on the boy struck me immediately, and I could not help asking
myself why we should visit on children the sins of their fathers, any
more than—than—" Dr. Brabazon seemed to hesitate strangely, and came to
a long pause—"any more than we visit the sins of children on their
parents."

Sir Simon brought down his stick with a couple of thumps. It was a
thick stick of carved walnut-wood, that he was rarely seen without, and
he had a habit of enforcing his arguments with it in this manner. Dr.
Brabazon understood this as meant to enforce his.

"And so I decided to do nothing until I had seen you. I would not have
assigned him his place in the school, but Mr. Baker did so before I
could stop it. But for your nephews being here, I should not think of
taking notice of the matter; I should let the boy remain on. As it is,
I must leave it to you, Sir Simon. If you consider he ought not to be
in the same establishment as your nephews—their companion and
associate—I'll put him away. Or, if you think it would be very
objectionable to themselves—"

"Objectionable to them!" cried Sir Simon, bringing down his stick again
in wrath. "I can only tell you this, doctor, that if my nephews were
mean enough and ill-natured enough to carry out those old scores upon
the boy, I'd disown 'em."

"Trace, I am sure, will not like the boy to stay, though he may
silently put up with it. I saw that."

"Trace has got his silent crotchets just as much as anybody else,"
cried Sir Simon, a shade of deeper anger in his tone. "I'll talk to
him; I'll talk to the three. Treat Paradyne as you do the rest, Dr.
Brabazon; I would ask it of you as a personal favour. _I_ turn the boy
away! I've just as much right to do it as he has to turn me out of Pond
Place. Deprive the lad of an education; of the means by which he'll
have to make his bread? No; a hundred times over, no," concluded Sir
Simon, in an explosive tone, the stick descending again.

"Very well; he shall stay. And if circumstances force me to put him
away later,—that is, if the facts become known to the school, and the
boy's life is thereby rendered unhappy, why—but time enough to talk of
that," broke off the speaker. "It might happen, however, Sir Simon; and
there's no knowing how soon."

Sir Simon saw that it might. "Who knows of it?" he asked.

"Your two nephews and John Irby. I have strictly charged them, on their
honour, not to speak of this: I called them in before afternoon school.
Dick does not appear to have heard the name yet: but I shall speak to
him. It is unfortunate the name should be so peculiar—Paradyne."

Sir Simon nodded. "What an odd thing it is the boy should have come to
this particular school," he exclaimed. "Is he one of your boarders?"

"No; he is an out-pupil; not in any master's house at all. About five
weeks ago," pursued the head master, in explanation, "I received a
letter from the country, from a lady signing herself Paradyne—I
remember thinking it an uncommon name at the time—asking if there was a
vacancy in the college for a well-advanced outdoor pupil, and inquiring
the terms. There happened to be a vacancy, and I said so, and sent the
terms; in a few days she wrote again, saying her son would enter. She
has come up to live here. I asked Paradyne this morning where he was
going to live, and he said close by, with his mother."

"They never much liked her, I remember," observed Sir Simon, who was
casting his thoughts back. "Mrs. Trace used to say she spent too much."

"I suppose they lived beyond their means, these Paradynes."

"No; it did not appear so; and the mystery never was cleared up where
the abstracted sums (enormous sums they were!) had gone, or what they
had gone in. Mrs. Trace, my poor sister Mary, was of so very quiet a
disposition herself caring nothing for dress or show; and Mrs.
Paradyne, I suppose, did care for it. I remember my brother-in-law,
Robert Trace, observed to me after the explosion, how glad he was that
he and his wife had lived quietly; that no blame on that score could
attach to him. The Loftus's were different; they spent all before them;
not, however, more than they had a right to spend. I suppose you know
the particulars, doctor?"

"Not at all. I never heard them."

"Then I'll tell you the story, from beginning to end, in a few brief
words. My brother-in-law, Robert Trace, who was always up to his eyes
in business—for Loftus would not attend to it—had some matters to
transact for a Captain Arthur Paradyne,—the selling out of shares, or
the buying in of shares, I forget which; and an intimacy grew up
between him and his client. Paradyne had come into some money through
the death of an aunt in Liverpool; previous to that he had lived in
Germany, on a very small income, as I understood. He seemed a thorough
gentleman, and, I should have said, an honest, open-dealing man. In an
unlucky hour Robert Trace—who had been hankering after a third partner
for some time, though Loftus could not see what they wanted with one,
as they kept efficient clerks—proposed to Captain Paradyne to invest
his money—two or three thousand pounds I think it was—in their concern,
and take a share. Paradyne consented. Mr. Loftus murmured at first, but
at last he consented; and the firm became Loftus, Trace, & Paradyne.
Things went on smoothly for two years, or thereabouts, though Paradyne
proved an utter novice in business matters, as your military men,
gentlemen by birth and habit, often do; and Trace grumbled awfully. Not
publicly, you know; only in private to me, whenever I was down at
Liverpool. Then came the crash. Paradyne was discovered to have played
up Old Harry with everything; the money of the firm, the shares of
customers, all he could lay his hands on. Strange to say, it was
Loftus, the unbusiness man, who was the one to make the first
discovery. Only think of that!"

Dr. Brabazon merely nodded. He was listening attentively.

"Mr. Loftus had gone to Liverpool for a few days. Something struck him
in looking over the books, and he called Robert Trace's attention to
it. That night in private they went into the thing together, and saw
that some roguery was being played. The next day it was all out, and
ruin stared them in the face. On the following morning Mr. Loftus
caused Paradyne to be arrested, and telegraphed for me. When I got down
at night, the man was dead."

"Dead!" exclaimed Dr. Brabazon.

"He was dead, that poor Arthur Paradyne. Ah! when Loftus met me with
the news, it was a shock. He had been taken before the magistrates for
examination, was remanded, and put in a cell in the lock-up, or
whatever they call the place. One of the clerks, a young man named
Hopper, was allowed to have an interview with him; half an hour
afterwards Paradyne was found dead in his cell. Of course it was
assumed that he had taken poison, and the report found its way to the
newspapers. But when the doctors made the examination, they found he
had died of disease of the heart;—a natural sequence to the events of
the day, for one whose heart was not sound."

"It was very shocking altogether."

"Ay, it was. And with his death ended the investigation. 'Why pursue
it?' Trace asked; 'let it drop, for the wife and children's sake.'
Robert Trace was a hard man in general; but I must say he behaved
leniently in this case. It did not, so far, touch his pocket, you see;
for all the investigation in the world would not have brought back the
wasted money, or undone the work. The concern was wound up; Mr. Loftus
had to move into a small house, and otherwise reduce his expenses;
Robert Trace went to America with a little money I lent him; and Mrs.
Paradyne disappeared."

"It was a dreadful thing for _her_," spoke Dr. Brabazon.

"Very. People, in their indignation against Paradyne, could not think
of her; but I did, and I went to see her. She was very bitter against
her husband; I could see it, though she said little."

"Did she tell you how the money had gone?"

"She did not know. The discovery that he had been using it came upon
her with the same shock of astonishment that it had upon the rest of
us. One thing she could swear to, she said to me—that it had never been
brought home, or used in any way for her or his children. I can't quite
recollect about the children," broke off Sir Simon: "there was one, I
know, for I saw him—a fine boy; I suppose the one now come here; but I
have an impression there were more."

"Had she nothing left—the mother?"

"I asked her the question. She told me she had a small income, nothing
like enough to keep her. I wonder how they have lived?" continued Sir
Simon, after a pause.

"The son has been to a thorough good school," observed Dr. Brabazon.
"Did Mr. Paradyne acknowledge his guilt?"

"He denied it utterly, so Loftus told me; made believe at first to
think they were accusing him in joke."

A sudden light, something like hope, appeared in Dr. Brabazon's eyes as
he raised them to Sir Simon.

"Is it possible that he could have been innocent?" he eagerly asked.

"No, it is not possible; there was no one else who could have had
access to the shares and things," was the avowal. But Sir Simon looked
grieved, and was grieved, to have to make it.

And so it was decided that George Paradyne should remain.



CHAPTER IV.

Sir Simon Orville's offered Reward.

In the comfortable apartment which was made the family sitting-room,
where Miss Brabazon might usually be found by anybody who wanted her,
sat a young lady on this same afternoon. A laughing, saucy, wilful girl
of thirteen, with short petticoats, and wavy brown hair hanging down.
It was Miss Rose Brabazon. Dr. Brabazon had married two wives and lost
them both: he had several older children, all out in the world now, but
this was the only young one, and spoilt accordingly. That is, all out
in the world save his eldest daughter, whom you will see presently.
Miss Rose was supposed to be at her studies. Sundry exercise-books were
before her on the square table, covered with its handsome green cloth,
in the middle of the room; in point of fact, she was inditing a private
letter, and taking recreative trips to the window between whiles,—a
large, pleasant window, looking out on the gymnasium-ground, with a
view of the Hampstead and Highgate hills in the far distance. At least
seventeen of the boys were madly in love with Miss Rose, and Miss Rose
reciprocated the compliment to a large proportion of them.

The door opened, and Miss Brabazon came in: a middle-sized, capable,
practical young woman of thirty, with a kind, good, sensible face. She
was the prop and stay of the house; looking after everything; to the
well-being of the large household, to the comfort of her father and of
the boys, and to the education of Rose. Her dark hair was plainly
braided on her face, and she wore a dress of some soft blue material,
with lace collar and cuffs. Crossing over to a side table, she laid
down a book she was carrying, and then looked at the address of two
letters in her hand, which had just been given her by the postman as
she crossed the hall. Miss Rose, all signs of everything unorthodox
hidden away, was diligently bending over her studies.

"Is that exercise not done yet, Rose?"

"It is so very difficult, Emma."

"You have been idling away your time again, I fear. Have you
practised?" continued Miss Brabazon, glancing half round at the piano.

"Not yet, Emma."

"Have you learnt your French?"

"I've not looked at it."

"What _have_ you been doing?"

Miss Rose Brabazon lifted her pretty face, and shook back her wavy hair
from her laughing blue eyes.

"I thought you'd perhaps give me holiday this afternoon, as you were so
much occupied upstairs with Lord Shrewsbury and his mother."

"Now, Rose, you knew better. And be so kind as to call the boys by
their right names. I wish you'd be a steady child!"

Rose laughed. "Sir Simon Orville's here, Emma. I saw him at the study
window just now with papa."

"Of course! That's the way you get your lessons done, Rose."

Miss Rose tossed her pen-wiper into the air and caught it again. She
had the peculiar faculty of never listening to reproofs. At least, of
listening to profit.

"Whom are those letters for, Emma."

"Not for you," answered Emma. "You may put the books away now, and go
and wash your hands. It is tea-time."

Books, exercises, pens, ink, were all hurried into a drawer in the
side-table, and away went Rose, meeting Mr. Henry at the door, for whom
Miss Brabazon had sent. He no longer wore his grey travelling clothes,
but was in a black surtout coat, looking, Miss Brabazon thought, very
entirely a gentleman, with his quiet manner and refined face.

"Is this for you?" she asked, holding out one of the letters, which
bore a foreign post-mark. "It is addressed to Doctor Henry."

He took it from her with a smile. "Yes, thank you; it is for me. Is
there anything to pay?"

"No. Are you really Dr. Henry?"

"Oh, Miss Brabazon, it is only my degree at the Heidelberg University.
I drop it here. I see this is from one of the professors. He forgot, I
suppose: I wrote down my name for them all, 'Mr.' Henry."

"But why should you drop it?"

"It is much better to do so. Fancy a young man like I am being called
doctor here! The masters would look askance at me, and the boys make
fun of me in private. Please don't mention it, Miss Brabazon."

"Certainly not, as you wish it. I do not quite see your argument,
though. Here's papa."

Dr. Brabazon came in with a quiet step. He threw himself into a chair,
as one in utter weariness, speaking sadly. "Oh, these boys, these
boys!"

"Is anything the matter, papa?"

"Not much, Emma; save that I feel out of sorts with all things. Don't
go, Mr. Henry, I want to speak to you."

Mr. Henry had been leaving the room. He turned back, and the doctor sat
forward on his chair.

"You are acquainted with young Paradyne, I hear, Mr. Henry."

A sort of bright hectic flashed into Mr. Henry's face. Miss Brabazon
noticed it. When she knew him better, she found that any powerful
emotion always brought it there. "Yes, sir, I knew him in Germany. He
is a very clever boy."

"Ay, he seems that. I like the boy amazingly, so far as I have seen.
What about his past history?"

Dr. Brabazon looked full at the German master. Mr. Henry understood the
appeal, and found there was no help for it; he must respond. But he had
an invincible dislike to speak of the Paradynes and their misfortune.
And the doctor was not alone.

"You allude to that unhappy business in Liverpool, sir?"

"I do. I am _very_ sorry the boy has been recognised here. You may
speak before my daughter, Mr. Henry,"—for the Doctor saw that he had
glanced at Miss Brabazon. "I told her of it to-day; she is quite safe.
It seems almost a fatality that the boy should have come to the very
place where Trace and the Loftuses were being educated."

"Yes it does," was the sad response: and Dr. Brabazon little thought
how bitterly that poor sensitive young German master was reproaching
himself, for he had been the means of bringing young Paradyne to
Orville College.

"I'd not hesitate to keep the boy a minute, if I were sure—"

"Oh, sir, don't turn him out!" interrupted Mr. Henry, his voice ringing
with pain. "To dismiss George Paradyne from the college, now that he
has entered it, might prove a serious blight upon him; a blight that
might follow him everywhere, for the cause could not fail to be noised
abroad. Better let him stay and face it out: he may—it is possible he
may—in time—live it down. I beg your pardon, Dr. Brabazon; I ought not
to have said so much."

"My good friend,"—and the doctor was a little agitated also,—"you never
need urge clemency on me. Heaven knows that we have, most of us, secret
cares of our own; and they render us—or ought to—lenient upon others.
If I could wipe out with a sponge the past as regards young Paradyne,
I'd do it in glad thankfulness. He is to remain; it is so decided; and
I hope the past will not ooze out to the school. That is what I fear."

"In himself he is, I think, everything that could be wished," said the
usher in a low tone; "a good, honourable, painstaking boy, with the
most implicit trust in his late father's innocence."

Dr. Brabazon lifted his eyes. "But there are no possible grounds to
hope that he was innocent! Are there?"

"Not any, I fear."

"Well, well; better perhaps that the son should think it. You were not
in Liverpool when it happened?"

"I was in Germany. The account of it was sent to me."

"By whom?—if I may ask it."

"By Mrs. Paradyne."

"_She_ does not believe her husband to have been innocent?"

"Oh, no."

"Has Mrs. Paradyne enough to live upon?" pursued the doctor, whose
interest in the affair had been growing.

"Her income is, I believe, very small indeed."

"Then how does she give the boy this expensive education?"

"I fancy some friend helps her," was the reply. "And I know that a
considerable reduction was made in the terms of the last school, on
account of the boy's fluency in French and German."

"I suppose you have kept up a correspondence with them, Mr. Henry?"

"Yes; though not a very frequent one."

"When you knew Mr. Paradyne, was he an honest man?"

"Strictly so; honourable, upright, entitled to every respect. I have
never been able to understand how he could fall from it."

"One of those sudden temptations, I suppose," observed the doctor,
musingly. "Beginning in a trifle; ending—nobody knows where. I won't
detain you longer, Mr. Henry."

Mr. Henry left the room with his letter. Miss Brabazon found her
tongue, speaking impulsively.

"Papa, how strangely sensitive he seems to be, this new master of
yours! Did you see the hectic on his face?"

"Poor fellow, yes. He is very friendless; and, to be so, gives us a
fellow-feeling for the unfortunate, Emma."

"Are you aware that he is Dr. Henry?"

"Is he? He took honours abroad, I believe. We don't think much of that,
you know."

"He drops the title over here; does not care that it should be known.
Did it strike you, papa, while he was speaking, that he must have some
secret trouble of his own?"

"No. I was thinking, Emma, of somebody else's secret trouble."

Miss Brabazon evidently understood the allusion. Her countenance fell,
and she turned her face from the doctor's view.

"I thought Sir Simon was here, papa."

"So he is. Sir Simon's gone up to see Talbot. He will take tea with us,
Emma."

The tea and Sir Simon came in together; Emma Brabazon was always glad
to see him. Miss Rose followed, and the conversation was general, on
account of the young lady's presence; otherwise it must have fallen on
the Paradynes. Sir Simon was in spirits; Mrs. Talbot, sitting with her
son, had assured him the doctor said all would be well.

But Sir Simon had something to do yet. When tea was over, he said
farewell to his friends and went in search of the boys, who were in the
cricket-field. He called aloud for Trace and for Loftus major. When the
rest of the boys came flocking up with a shout—for it was a red-letter
day when they could get Sir Simon—he sent them away again.

"I want only these two graceless ones," he said: "you all be off," and
the boys went, shouting and laughing. "Yes, you, Irby; you may stop."

Gathering the three around him, he entered on his business, and talked
to them for a few moments very plainly and earnestly. Loftus was the
first to respond, and he did it with frankness.

"I have already said, sir, that Paradyne is safe for me. I will keep my
word."

"I'll never tell upon him, Sir Simon," added Irby; "I'll make him my
friend, if you like."

"Is the fellow to stop?" asked Trace.

"Yes, sir, he is to stop," replied Sir Simon, turning sharply upon the
speaker. "It is Dr. Brabazon's pleasure that he should stop, and it is
mine also. What have you to say against it?"

"Nothing at all," quietly replied Trace.

"That's well," returned Sir Simon, in a cynical tone of suavity. "And
now, mind you, Trace—all of you mind—if unpleasantness does arise to
this unlucky boy through either of you, I'll—I'll—by George! I'll make
him, young Paradyne, my heir."

He turned off in the direction of the plantation, curious to examine
the scene of the last night's outrage. Quite one half of the college
had gathered there, and the rest ran up now. Sir Simon laid his hand
upon Dick Loftus.

"So! This was your doing!"

"Don't, uncle," said Dick, wincing; "I'm as vexed about it as you can
be. I'd rather have been shot myself."

"That's what Bertie says. A pretty pair of nephews I've got!" continued
Sir Simon, using his stick on the ground violently, to the admiration
of the surrounding throng. "The one smuggles pistols into the school,
and the other brings 'em out and shoots a boy!"

"I didn't shoot him," said Dick.

"You were the cause of it, sir. If Talbot dies, and the thing comes to
trial, were I the judge on the bench, I should transport you for seven
years, Dick Loftus, as accessory in a second degree."

"Talbot isn't going to die," debated hardy Dick.

"And serve him right," put in Loftus, answering the semi-threat of Sir
Simon. "Transportation for seven years would be just the thing Dick
deserves. What right had the young idiot to meddle with my pistols?"

"What right had you to have pistols to be meddled with?" cried Sir
Simon, retorting on Bertie. "And to keep 'em loaded? And to put 'em
where Dick could get to them? I'd transport _you_ for fourteen."

Mr. Loftus did not like the tables being turned on him. He drew his
head up with a jerk.

"And you the senior, save one, of the school, who might have been
expected to be a pattern to the rest!" added Sir Simon, mercilessly.
"You'd not have done it would you Gall?"

The senior boy, quietly looking on, lifted his eyes at being addressed.
"I don't think I should, Sir Simon."

It was an inoffensive answer enough, in regard to words; but the quiet
tone of condemnation, the half compassionate smile that accompanied it,
angered Loftus out of his pride and his prudence.

"It's not likely he would. Pistols would be of no use to him. What do
those city tradespeople want with pistols?"

The insolent retort was not lost on Sir Simon, for it gave him an
opportunity that he was ever ready to seize upon; ever, it may be said,
watching for—that of putting down the lofty notions of his otherwise
favourite nephew.

"Those City tradespeople," he echoed, making a circular sweep with his
stick, as if to challenge the attention of the crowd. "Hark at him!
Hold your tongue, Gall; I'll talk. Has he changed ranks with Talbot, do
you know, boys, and become a lord? City people! I'm his uncle; but he
ignores that. I wasn't in the City; never aspired to it; I was only in
Bermondsey; a tanner. A tanner, boys, as some of your fathers could
tell you; Orville & Tubbs it was. Tubbs is there, tanning still; Tubbs
& Sons; and a good snug business they've got. _I_ wasn't born with a
fortune in the bank, as some folks are; I had to make my way by hard
work, and with very little education, and I did it. I had no Orville
College to learn Latin and Greek and politeness at; though they do tell
me I'm related to its founder. Perhaps I am; but it's only a sixteenth
cousin, boys."

A shout of laughter: the boys' satisfaction had grown irrepressible.
Sir Simon laughed with them.

"We were thirteen of us to get out in the world, boys and girls, and
our father a clerk on three hundred a year. It seemed a fortune in
those days; because a man's children expected to go out and work for
themselves. I went out at twelve, boys; my father put me to a
fishmonger, and I didn't like it; and he gave me a flogging for
caprice, and sent me to a tanner's. I didn't like that—you should have
smelt the skins!—but I had to stick to it. And I did stick to it, and
in time made a business for myself, and when it got too large I took in
my young foreman, Tubbs, and gave him a share. I was a
common-councilman, then; and a very grand honour I thought it to be
such; but I didn't leave off work. Up early and to bed late, and making
my abode amidst the skins in my yard, was I. Fortune came to me, boys;
it comes to most people who patiently work for it; and they made me a
sheriff of London, and in going up with an address to Court, the Queen
knighted me: and that brings me with the handle to my name, which I
assure you I'm not at home with yet, and for months afterwards couldn't
believe that it was me being spoken to. I retired from business then,
and I bought Pond Place up here. I didn't buy it because it was near
the college, and that Dr. Orville had been a sixteenth cousin, but
because it suited me; and the situation and the air suited me. And
that's how _I_ come to be Sir Simon Orville: and what I've got I've
humbly worked for. Mr. Loftus there was born a gentleman, as his father
was before him, and he'd like me to go in for rank, and for quarterings
on my carriage, and crests on my spoons, and to make believe that I'd
never heard there was such a low thing as tanning amidst trades. Yah,
boys! I hate pretension: and so does every sincere nature ever created.
It's only a species of acted falsehood; it won't help us on the road to
heaven."

A murmur of applause, and a slight clapping of hands. Sir Simon lifted
his stick again.

"He despises the Galls, that lofty nephew of mine; he lets you know
that he does. Boys, allow me to tell you, that there's not a better man
in all London than Joseph Gall, the head of the respectable firm of
Gall & Batty. Substantial, too, Mr. Loftus."

Loftus stood like a pillar of salt, stony and upright, showing no sign
whatever of his intense annoyance. These periodical revelations of Sir
Simon's, given gratuitously to the boys on any provocation, were the
very thorns of his life. At such moments it would have puzzled Loftus
to tell which he despised most—the Galls as a whole, or his uncle as a
unit.

"And now about this shooting business," resumed Sir Simon. "Where was
the pistol fired from?"

"Just from this point, Sir Simon," spoke Leek, who was one of the
greatest admirers Sir Simon possessed. "And here"—running a few paces
onward—"is where the earl dropped."

It was growing too dusk to distinguish objects; the moon as yet did not
give much light; but Sir Simon stooped, and peered about with the
utmost interest. Suddenly he rose and confronted them.

"Now, look here, you fellows! I dare say it was an accident; the boy
got fingering the pistol, and it went off; he's not so much to blame
for that. What he is to blame for, is the not confessing; it's
dishonourable, mean, despicable; and for that he deserves no quarter.
Try to find him out, boys; hunt him up; run him down; surely a stray
word or a chance look may guide you to him. And whoever succeeds in
bringing the truth to light, may come to me for the handsomest gold
watch that is to be bought with money."

A deafening shout arose. In the midst of it the three strokes of the
great bell were heard, calling the boys to evening study. They set off
with a bound, all except Trace, who found himself detained by the hand
of his uncle until the rest were out of hearing.

"Raymond, if mischief comes of this matter, it will be through you."

"Through me!" repeated Trace, taken thoroughly aback. "Can you suppose,
sir, I went shares with Bertie in buying the pistols? Or that I knew of
his bringing them to school, loaded?"

"Not that. I am speaking of the other matter—Paradyne's. You are bitter
against the very name of Paradyne; and I don't say you have no cause.
But now, take my advice, Raymond. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, sir."

"Don't be the one to stir up the past against the boy. I have a feeling
against it."

Sir Simon, leaving his words to tell, walked away towards home, and
Trace stood looking after him, resenting the injunction. He was not a
favourite, and he knew it; even that despicable Dick was preferred to
him. As a matter of affection, perhaps Trace did not regret this; but
his policy in life was to stand well with all. The tolerating of George
Paradyne was an uncommonly bitter pill to swallow; and Trace would have
given the world to reject it. But he scarcely saw his way clear to do
this, if he wished to keep friends with his uncle. And Trace threw a
gratuitous and by no means complimentary word at the unfortunate boy,
as he went off to be in time for his studies.

Scarcely was he out of sight, when Miss Brabazon came quietly up
through the trees. She had put on a cloak and hood; and, as she threw
back the latter her face looked white with a curious fear. Searching
here, bending there, she seemed to be seeking for some traces of the
last night's work. Now she bent her ear and listened, now she knelt
down by the bench, feeling under it and about it. One might almost have
thought she was seeking for a letter. So pre-occupied was she as not to
hear the sound of footsteps.

"What are you looking for, Emma?"

The interruption was from Dr. Brabazon, who happened to be passing
through the plantation. Emma started up with a cry.

"What is it, my dear? What are you doing here?"

"I—I—was thinking who could have done it, papa," she answered, in a
frightened whisper. "I mean that dreadful thing last night. If the boys
all deny it—why, perhaps they are really not guilty. It—it was so very
easy for a stranger, coming by chance through the plantation, to have
picked up the pistol that Smart dropped, and fired it off without
thought of harm. Without thought of harm, papa."

How pleadingly, yearningly the last words were spoken, Dr. Brabazon's
own heart told him. He answered cheerfully, although it was heating
with pain.

"Emma, I see what you are thinking of. But it could not have been. It
was one of the boys beyond doubt, for he wore the college cap. Why do
you let these fancies trouble you? Run home, child; run home."



CHAPTER V.

Mother Butter's Lodgings.

The term had begun, as the Head Master expressed it, ungraciously. The
mysterious and disagreeable accident to James Talbot was leading to
endless discussion and dissension. The first desk utterly repudiated
the notion that it could have been one of them, and tacitly, if not
directly, accused the second; the second desk threw back the
insinuation with all the insolence they dared to use. Lamb was one of
these, and his name got mentioned (failing somebody else to fix it on)
in connection with the charge. The suggestion spread, although Brown
minor, rather a crony of Lamb's, was ready to testify that Lamb had
never stirred out of the hall that night after chapel; and did testify
to it, in fact, with some confirmatory words of unnecessary strength.
Lamb, a tall, thin fellow, was in a terrible rage; could not have been
in a worse had he been guilty. Gall, the senior boy, said little; not
having returned at the time, he did not consider it was his province to
interfere; but Loftus, smarting personally under the affair, made
himself exceedingly busy. And it was a very unusual thing for Loftus to
do.

The boys, at their evening studies, sat at the low table in the
well-lighted hall—a long table on trestles that ran down the middle of
it, with benches around. They were ostensibly preparing their lessons
for the morrow; in reality were discussing and bickering among
themselves in an undertone. You heard the bell ring for them in the
last chapter, when they were in the plantation with Sir Simon Orville.
Mr. Long sat at his desk in a remote corner, paying no attention. Great
in science, he always had his near-sighted spectacles buried in some
abstruse book, and his ears also.

"Look here," spoke Loftus minor, who was burning to get at the offender
quite as hotly as his brother Bertie, "when my uncle says he'll give a
gold watch, why, he _will_ give it; there's no sham; so if any of you
fellows do know about this, just go in and earn it. It'll be a shame to
let a watch go begging."

"It's an awful shame that a gold watch, or any such bribe should be
needed," called out Loftus major. "Who but a sneak would shoot a
fellow, and then shrink from avowing it, letting suspicion fall on the
rest indiscriminately? A sneak, I say."

"Do you mean that for me, Mr. Loftus?" spluttered Lamb, who was sitting
opposite to Loftus at the table. "Because if you do—"

"There you go, Lamb, you and your corky temper, interposed
good-humoured Leek.

"You be quiet, Onions. I say that if he does, I'll make him prove his
words."

There was a smothered laugh. The notion of Lamb's making a senior prove
anything, was good, especially Loftus.

"I don't mean it for Lamb in particular, unless he chooses to take it
to himself," coolly drawled Loftus. "I have no reason for supposing he
can take it."

The semi-apology did not satisfy Lamb. He knew that he was called the
"sneak," par excellence; he knew that he did many little underhand
things to deserve it. Consequently he always strove to appear
particularly white; and to have this grave suspicion thrown upon him
was driving him wild.

"I believe that Loftus knows I was no more out last night than he was,"
said Lamb, giving his Virgil a passionate wrench, which tore the
cover—"that you all know it."

"As far as I can understand, not a soul of you went out, except Smart
and Loftus minor," observed the senior boy, who really wished to heal
the general discomfort. "None of you were missed."

"And that's true," said Lamb. "And if it comes to that, who is to say
that it was not that new fellow did it, after all? Took up the pistol
and shot it off by accident, and went and said what he did to screen
himself."

"What new fellow? Do you mean Paradyne?" quickly asked Irby, following
out some association of ideas in his mind.

"Paradyne, no! What could Paradyne have had to do with it? I mean the
new master; that German fellow with an English name."

"Nonsense, Lamb!"

Lamb nodded his head oracularly. "It might have been."

It was a new phase of the question, and the boys looked up. Lamb
continued. "Trace says he thinks he's a regular spy."

"By the way, where is Trace?" asked Gall, who had suddenly noticed that
Trace, usually so punctual at studies, was not present.

"It couldn't have been him," said Leek, regardless of the question as
to Trace. "He saw the fellow making off; he said he wore the college
cap."

"Your tongue is ever ready, Onions," was the rebuke of the senior boy.
"It's not at all likely to have been Mr. Henry; but neither is it
obliged to have been the fellow he saw making off. And if it was, the
fellow might not have come out of the college; he may be an outsider.
Get on with your work; there's really no cause to be worrying over it
and suspecting each other."

The words acted as oil on the troubled waters, and they began to settle
down to their books and exercises. But it's pleasanter to gossip than
to learn.

"Why does Trace think the German's a spy?" asked Loftus minor.

"He's not German; he's English. A German would have his face covered
with hair; this fellow shaves."

"Of course he's not German by birth," returned Dick; "anybody can see
that. Onions said——"

"What's all that talking about?" roared out Mr. Long, suddenly becoming
awake to the noise. "Is that the way you do your lessons?" And for a
few moments, at any rate, silence supervened.

Where was Trace? I think I shall have to tell you. After digesting Sir
Simon Orville's words in the plantation, he set off quickly, to be in
time for the evening study, which was the preparation of lessons for
the next day, and rarely lasted more than an hour. Running full pelt
into the cloisters, he ran against one of the masters.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said, thinking it was Mr. Baker; for the
cloisters were in almost total darkness.

It was Mr. Henry; and when Trace became aware of the fact, his spirit
rose up in rebellion at having called him "sir." A feeling of dislike
to this new master was rife within him, having its source no doubt in
the past friendship the stranger had avowed for the unfortunate Captain
Paradyne, and in his present evident intention to befriend the boy, and
defend him against surreptitious lance-shafts. Trace was apt to be so
prejudiced.

"Is it you, Trace?" cried Mr. Henry, recognizing the voice. "I would
say a word to you."

"Be quick, if you please, then," was the half-discourteous answer. "We
have only one hour to prepare everything, and I am late as it is."

"You have heard probably that George Paradyne is to stay here," began
Mr. Henry, leading the way into the open quadrangle, where it was
lighter, and there could be no danger of eaves-droppers.

"Yes; and I am surprised at Dr. Brabazon. My uncle, Sir Simon Orville,
sanctions it too. He—he—"

Trace stopped. The generally cool voice seemed overflowing with
passion; and Mr. Henry looked at him in the light of the rising moon.

"You do not like the decision!"

"_Like_ it!" repeated Trace; "I think it is an infamous thing. And we
are put upon our honour not to tell! It is the first time I ever knew
it was right to conceal crime."

"The boy has committed no crime, if you allude to him.”

"His father did."

"And his father expiated it with his life. Should not this be
sufficient for you?"

Trace answered by a gesture of contempt. Mr. Henry threw his luminous
eyes on him, their sad expression, so namelessly attractive,
conspicuous even in the subdued light.

"I have had a great deal of trouble of one sort or another," said the
master, in a low tone. "It has taught me some things: and, amidst them,
_never_ to add, by act of mine, to the grief of others. Oh, Trace! if
you did but know the true, tender compassion we feel for them, when
dire trouble has fallen on ourselves! if you could but see how cruel
their life is, without additional reproach!"

"And did Paradyne—the man—bring no trouble upon us?" burst out Trace.
"Did he not ruin my father, and drive him into exile, and break up our
home, and kill my mother? She died here; here at my uncle's; and you
may see her gravestone in the churchyard hard by. Trouble! Did the man
not bring enough upon us?"

"Heaven knows he did," was the sad answer. "I do not seek to depreciate
it; but the boy is innocent. He does not deserve to have it visited
upon him."

"Doesn't he!" retorted Trace, utterly angered out of his usual
civility.

"Why no, of course he does not," rather sharply resumed Mr. Henry,
feeling now how hard must be this contending nature. "Look at the thing
dispassionately; imagine for a moment the case reversed: that your
father was the guilty man, and Paradyne's the one on whom the blow
fell: should you not think it cruelly unjust and unjustifiable if he
pursued revenge on you?"

Trace became half-speechless with indignation. "I cannot imagine
anything of the sort, sir," he haughtily said, using the "sir" as he
might have used it to an offending footman. "I think you are forgetting
yourself: we are gentlemen at this college."

"I did not wish to offend you; only to put the matter in the light that
it should, as I think, be looked at. What had young Paradyne done—a lad
of twelve, then—to invoke this evil on himself? He was not responsible
for his father's actions; he could not hinder them."

"It appears to me that we have had enough of this," observed Trace.
"Perhaps you will tell me why you are detaining me from my studies to
say it?"

"To bespeak your kindness for the boy,—your silence, in fact; that he
may be allowed to pursue his course here unmolested. It will be repaid
to you many-fold."

"Then you can make yourself easy; I am not going to betray him. Dr.
Brabazon has put us on our honour."

The acknowledgment was not graciously expressed, but Mr. Henry saw he
should get nothing better. "And now, Trace," he continued, "I have a
question to ask you on a different subject. When that pistol went off
in the plantation last night, I met a boy, supposed to be one of the
seniors, stealing away. Was it you?"

There had been many little points in the interview not palatable to Mr.
Trace; but all put together were as nothing compared to this. His
complexion was peculiar, apt to turn of a salmon-colour on occasions of
rare provocation, as it did now; but his reply was cold and calm.

"You had better take care what you say, Mr. Henry! _I_ in the
plantation at the time! stealing away! No, I was not. It is against
rules to go out after prayers, and I am not in the habit of breaking
them. I wish I had been there! and dropped upon those two juniors who
were fools enough to take out a loaded pistol."

"Hush, that's enough: I would not do you an injury for the world," said
Mr. Henry, in the gentlest and kindest tone. "I did think it was you;
but I kept it to myself, as you perceived."

"Thank you," said Trace, half in allusion to the wish, half ironically.
"I suppose I may go in now."

"Yes," said Mr. Henry, "that is all. Good night, Trace."

He went out at the great gates as he spoke. But Trace, instead of
hastening in to his studies, that he seemed so anxious over, came to
the conclusion to delay them yet a little longer. He had a mind to
track Mr. Henry.

Following him at a safe distance, keeping under cover of any bit of
shade cast by the moon, he saw him pass the front of the college, and
make for some houses round by the shops. Mr. Henry was looking about
him as if uncertain of his geography; finally he paused before a row of
small "genteel" dwellings, and entered one of them.

"Number five!" exclaimed Trace, taking his observations. "I'm blest if
that's not the place where the Paradynes live!" he continued with
sudden conviction, for he had been gathering a little information for
himself in the course of the afternoon. "A nice lot to know! Birds of a
feather. I shouldn't wonder but he had a share of the spoil in
Liverpool! He confesses to having known them well. If ever a fire brand
came into a school, it's this same German master. I'll look after him a
bit."

And, having so far set operations afloat, Mr. Trace galloped back to
school as fast as his legs would carry him.

Skirting the playground at the back of the college, nearly opposite the
large bay window of the master's study, and of the boys' dormitories
above it, was a small dwelling-house of rough stone, known amidst the
boys as "Mother Butter's." Mother Butter, a tall spare angular lady of
fifty, kept a cow and a donkey, and a good many fowls. She sold a
little butter, she sold poultry and fresh eggs; she sold choice herbs,
mushroom ketchup; lavender, and other sweet dried flowers to scent
drawers. Formerly she used to make "bullseyes" for the junior college
boys; small square delectable tablets, composed of butter, treacle, and
peppermint, and did in this a roaring trade. But differences arose,
beginning at first with long credit, and going on to open rupture, and
one day last term she flung her treacle saucepan amidst the crew,
vowing she would make no more. The saucepan struck Gall's trencher,
denting it in and blackening his ear, nearly stunning him besides.
Smarting under the infliction, he issued on the spot a general order
that no more bullseyes were to be consumed of Mother Butter's, though
she "made them till she was blue." Since then there had been open and
perpetual warfare. Mrs. Butter carried tales of them to the masters:
the boys entered on a system of petty annoyance: their palates
suffering under the deprivation of those choice sweetmeats, it was not
likely they would spare her. They painted her cow green; they cut off
the plume of a handsome cock, the pride of the whole poultry; they tied
a bell to the donkey's tail when it was charged with two panniers of
eggs, thereby causing the startled animal to smash the lot; and they
laid a huge tin plate across the top of her low kitchen chimney. Nearly
all these miseries were securely effected at night; and as Mrs. Butter
watched vigilantly and detected nothing, her surprise equalled her
rage. Dr. Brabazon had levied a contribution for the value of the eggs;
but that did not stop the fun.

It was a pretty place to look at, this dwelling-house of Mrs. Butter's,
with the clematis on its stone walls, the bright flowers before it, and
the little paddock behind; and it so happened that Mr. Henry, seeking
for lodgings, heard there were some to let here. He found a neat plain
sitting-room, and a closet opening from it which just held the bed and
washhand stand, with space for his portmanteau, if he put the chair
out. Mrs. Butter said she would cook and wait upon him; the rent asked
was low, and he made the bargain, unconscious man, offhand. The
previous occupant had been an outdoor servant of the college, and you
may imagine the effect Mr. Henry's choice produced on the school. Not
until he moved into it was he aware of the contemptuous feeling it
excited, and then not of its extent. "It suits me," said he, quietly
and decisively.

He saw no reason why it should not suit him. It had been done up nicely
afresh, and was convenient for the college. He might have thought it
good enough, even though he had not been obliged to look at every
sixpence that he spent. The boys might have thought it good enough, but
for its being in the house of the obnoxious Mother Butter, and for a
servant's previous occupation of it.

You know the old saying, my friends: "One man must not look at a horse,
while another may leap over the hedge." Just so was it here. Had
somebody great and grand—a duke, let us say, for example—taken a fancy
to that room, and come and occupied it, the boys would have been seized
with a sudden sense of its desirability as a lodging, had its
photograph taken as a model of beauty, and extolled it abroad; they
might even have relaxed a little in their polite attentions to Mother
Butter; but as one whom they were half-way prepared to regard as an
enemy entered upon it, the case was different. In truth, a strong
feeling, independent of this, was setting in against the foreign
master.

The declining sun shone full on Mr. Henry, as he sat at the window of
his room. He had taken possession of it some days now, and things were
settling down into ordinary routine. James Talbot was nearly well
again, and the commotion had subsided; but the affair remained in the
same doubt, none of the boys had confessed, and suspicion was partially
diverting itself from them. This room of Mr. Henry's faced the college
and playground, and he liked to draw his table to the window. He was
dotting down on a piece of paper his probable expenses; was calculating
how little it would be possible for him to live upon, and how much save
out of his hundred and twenty pounds a year salary. He had applied to a
house in Paternoster Row for some translation to do: his idea had been
to get private teaching in his free hours, but he found Orville Green
too small a place to admit of the probability of much. The answer from
the Paternoster Row house had just come in: they would give him the
translation of a scientific German work; but the terms offered with it
were very poor indeed. He intended to accept them; he said to himself
that he had no other resource but to accept them, and they were being
put down in his pencilled calculation.

Lodgings, food, laundress, clothes, and sundries. The lodging and
laundress must be paid, the sundries must be found, those hundred and
one trifles that arise one knows not how; in the clothes he could not
stint himself, for he must appear as a gentleman: indeed, it would have
been against Mr. Henry's natural instincts not to do so. But the
food!—ah! he could deny himself there as much as he pleased; and the
"much" seemed to be unlimited. To a young man these self-denials in
prospective seem so easy.

He laid down his pencil, and leaned his head upon his hand. In his
face, as he looked upwards; in his sad dark eyes fixed on the blue of
the sky, but seeing it not, there was an expression that seemed to
speak of utter friendlessness. A great care was upon him that evening;
care of one sort was always upon him, but a different one had suddenly
arisen to make itself heard. _Was his health giving way?_ Doubts of it
had occurred now and again in the past few weeks and been driven away
without much notice; but since crossing over to England, his strength
was as a mere reed. What if the capability to work were taken from him?
Certain words came into his mind,—"Cut it down, why cumbereth it the
ground?" Was _he_ destined to be one of these useless trees, bearing no
fruit? doing no good in his generation? The hot tears came into his
eyes, and he breathed a silent word to One who was seated beyond that
bright blue sky.

George Paradyne dashed in. "I say, Mr. Henry," began he, without
preliminary ceremony of any description, "I shan't like this Orville
College."

"Why not?" asked Mr. Henry, putting his paper into a drawer, and his
pencil into his pocket.

"There's something up against me. The fellows won't let me join in
their play."

"Oh, nonsense, George."

"But it isn't nonsense. They were at a fault just now for one to make
up a game—it's that noisy one, you know, that takes eighteen fellows,
nine on a side, and they had only seventeen. 'Oh, here comes another,'
I heard some one say as I ran up; but when they saw it was me, there
was a sudden silence, and every one of the lot turned away."

"I should say, 'When they saw it was I,' George," observed Mr. Henry,
not really to correct his grammar, but to divert his thoughts from the
subject.

"Oh, bother," answered George, his large, bright, grey eyes laughing.
"But, I say, I wonder what can be the reason?"

"Some little prejudice, perhaps," carelessly replied Mr. Henry. "There
exists something of the sort, I fancy, against the outdoor pupils. Be
brave, and hold on your right course; you will live it down."

"I'm not afraid of that," answered George. "I should like to know,
though, what it is the boys have got in their heads. When are you
coming to see us again?" he halted to say, as he was hastening away as
unceremoniously as he had come in. "Mamma says she has something to ask
you that she forgot the other night."

"Does she? I will come one of these first evenings."

George Paradyne vaulted away, and Mr. Henry sat on alone. His jealous
eyes—jealous for the welfare of another—had not failed to detect the
feeling against George Paradyne; but this confirmation of it fell upon
him with a sort of shock, and he was as certain in his own mind that
the origination of it was Raymond Trace, as that it existed.

He was right. Mr. Raymond Trace, in his bitter resentment against the
Paradynes, was breaking his word of honour in the spirit, if not in the
letter. He did not speak of the past, it is true; but by dint of
whispers, of insinuations, he was setting the school against George
Paradyne, and contriving it in such a way that none could have
suspected him to be the originator. He was also fanning the flame
against Mr. Henry; and in his self-righteousness he thought he was
doing the most natural and justifiable thing.



CHAPTER VI.

Mr. Gall abroad.

And now, not to make a mystery of it to you, my boys, any longer, I
will tell you that it _was_ Raymond Trace who had fired the pistol. Mr.
Henry was not mistaken in his recognition of Trace; and what's more, he
knew that he was not; though at the time he did not know his name, or
who he was. Mr. Trace had silently quitted the college after prayers on
a little private expedition of his own; in his hurry he caught up Mr.
Long's cap, not noticing the mistake; and was rushing through the
plantation when the sound of hushed voices caused him to slacken his
footsteps and advance cautiously, lest he should be seen himself.
Peeping through the trees, he discerned Smart and Dick Loftus, each
flourishing a pistol about like two young madmen; and Trace, making a
movement in his surprise, betrayed his presence. You know what
followed: the boys flew off with one of the pistols; the other Trace
took up, and presently fired it off. He fired it heedlessly, without
thought of harm, never supposing it was loaded; with an idea perhaps of
further scaring the two decamping boys; neither had he heard the
approach of Talbot. When he found the pistol _was_ loaded, and that
some mischief had ensued, he was startled nearly out of his senses,
quite out of his presence of mind.

His straightforward course, as everybody knows, would have been to go
up and see who was wounded; but I'm afraid Trace's was not a very
straightforward nature; and there was also the instinctive desire to
conceal his having come abroad. Not a boy in the college was more
solicitous of appearing to keep the rules than Trace; and he had grown
to be looked upon as a model to the rest. Dropping the pistol, away he
stole, obeying instinct only, too terrified to be able to think calmly,
and came face to face with the new foreign master. Up went his hand to
his face to hide it, and away he backed amidst the trees; stealing on
noiselessly for some short distance, and then tearing back to school
helter-skelter. It was only when he came to hang up the cap that he
discovered the mistake he had made in taking out a master's. He glided
into the hall, sat down behind the nearest desk, and gradually let his
presence be noticed. When the news came presently in, Trace was talking
with Irby and Brown major, and rose up in the same consternation as the
rest.

You may therefore imagine what his sensations were when the Head Master
subsequently appealed to his honour; to his, in common with that of the
rest of the school. He could not declare himself; the time had gone by;
it was quite impossible that he, _having concealed it_, could come
forth with the avowal at that, the eleventh hour. Over and over again
he blamed his folly and his cowardice for having stolen away; he would
give all the money his pockets contained—and money was often a scarce
commodity with Mr. Trace—to have bravely gone up to the wounded boy and
declared the truth of the accident. He called himself a fool; he called
himself a coward; he called himself sundry other disparaging names: but
that it was not in his habit to do it, he might have sworn at himself.
Not for the mere act in itself, the having fired the pistol; that was
almost a pure accident; but for having concealed that it was he who did
it.

However, his course was entered upon, and all he could do now was to
hope and trust that he might never be discovered. While this hope was
filling every crevice of his heart, making itself heard hourly in his
brain, there came the startling question of the German master—"Was it
not you I met?" Trace could only be indignant and say it was not; but
the disagreeable doubt, whether he had been positively recognized or
not, caused him to fear and hate Mr. Henry with a bitter fear and
hatred. He thought it was but a suspicion, not a recognition, for Mr.
Henry's quiet and cautious manner deceived him, and he grew to believe
that his denial had borne its intended fruit. So the fear subsided, but
the hatred ripened; and it might perhaps bring trouble in the future.

A sunny day towards the close of September, and Miss Brabazon went
abroad with Rose. She was about to pay a visit to Mrs. Paradyne; not
only because it was her custom to call on the friends of the outdoor
boys, but to show, in this instance, all she could of consideration and
kindness. The Head Master and Miss Brabazon were in one respect the
very opposite to Trace. Trace thought inherited misfortune a legitimate
target for lances of contempt, if not of reproach; _they_ deemed such
people, so blameless and unhappy, should receive all of gentle
commiseration that the world can show.

Miss Rose went mincing along in her short petticoats, the tails to her
Leghorn hat flying behind, as she turned her little vain head from side
to side, looking if any chance college boy might be abroad to cast his
admiring eyes upon her. Not seeing one, she darted up to Mrs. Gall's
governess, who was walking about the grounds of Mr. Gall's residence
with some of the children, and then darted back to her sister.

"There's Jessie and Kate Gall, Emma. Can't you call on their mamma,
while I walk about with them? Mrs. Gall is at the window. I know her by
the yellow in her cap."

Emma Brabazon looked across the lawn at the handsome house, and saw a
yellow silk screen standing near one of the windows. She laughed.

"You can stay here, however, Rose," she said, nodding to the governess.
"I will call for you as I come back."

Glad that it had so happened, for Miss Rose had insisted on
accompanying her rather against her will, Emma Brabazon walked on to
Prospect Terrace, as the houses were named, perhaps because they faced
a brickfield, and inquired for Mrs. Paradyne. A rather faded lady,
sitting in a small upper room, styled by courtesy a drawing-room, rose
to receive her. She was tall and slender, with a fair thin face, and
bright dark eyes. Her cap was of real lace; her gown, a delicate silk,
looked faded, like herself; her manners were quiet and self-possessed.
At the first glance Miss Brabazon could not fail to perceive that she
was essentially a lady.

"It is very kind of you to come," she observed, when they had spoken a
little together, Miss Brabazon sitting on the chintz sofa, herself on
an opposite chair. "Living in the obscure way my circumstances compel
me to live, in these small lodgings, I had not expected of course that
any one would call upon me."

"But I am very pleased to do it," said Miss Brabazon, "not only because
your son is at the college; and I have brought papa's card," she added,
laying it on the table. "He has not time to pay visits himself; but he
bade me say he hoped you would come to see us, and that we should be
good friends."

"I visit nowhere," said Mrs. Paradyne, a certain fretfulness observable
in her tone. "People do not care to invite those who cannot return it
to them. Do not think me ungracious," she hastened to add; "I was not
speaking in answer to Dr. Brabazon's kind message, but rather thinking
of my past experience."

"I hope your son likes the school," observed Emma, rather at a loss
what to say.

"He likes the school; he does not like his companions," answered Mrs.
Paradyne.

"No!" exclaimed Emma, taken by surprise. "Why not?"

"They seem to shun him; they do shun him, there's no doubt of it. It is
making me miserable: I could not sleep all last night for thinking of
it. There's scarcely a boy will speak to him, or treat him as a
companion;—my dear son, who is so bright and good."

Amidst a mass of confused ideas, two in particular loomed out dimly in
Emma Brabazon's mind—that Mrs. Paradyne was rather absorbed in self,
and that her son was to her a very idol.

"Can those boys have betrayed him?" she involuntarily exclaimed.

"Betrayed what?" questioned Mrs. Paradyne.

And Emma Brabazon blushed to the very roots of her hair. She had been
prepared to offer every kind and considerate sympathy if Mrs. Paradyne
herself alluded to the past, but certainly had not intended
gratuitously to enter upon it. There was no help for it now; and she
spoke a few words of the discovery made by Trace—that he had recognised
George Paradyne to be the son of a gentleman who had injured his
father.

"Yes," said Mrs. Paradyne, folding her delicate hands in meek
resignation on her lap, "I was sure something disagreeable would ensue
as soon as George came home and told me that the sons of Loftus and
Trace—as the firm used to be—were at the college. It is most
unfortunate that he should happen to have come to the same."

"Yes, it is—for your son's sake," murmured Emma, who felt almost guilty
herself.

"I expected nothing less, I assure you, Miss Brabazon, than to find my
son come home with a note from the Head Master, dismissing him from the
college. I——"

"Oh, if you only knew papa, you would not think it," she interrupted,
gathering her scattered courage. "He would be all the more likely to
retain him in it. The only fear was about the others, the Loftus boys
and Trace. If their friends had raised any objection—but it has been
quite the contrary," she hastened to add, quitting the unpleasant
point; "and papa charged the boys on their honour not to breathe a word
of the past to the school."

"They have breathed something, or others have; for George is being
shunned most unjustifiably. Ah, well; it is but a natural consequence
of the miserable past; I said it would cling to us for life, an incubus
of disgrace. And so it will."

"Papa would like to tell you how greatly he sympathises with you," said
Emma, eagerly. "I hope you will accept our friendship, and let us
testify our respect in every way that we can. Unmerited misfortune is
so sad to bear."

"I thought it would have killed me," was the answer made by Mrs.
Paradyne, her tone one of discontented reproach—reproach for the
husband who had gone. "I asked myself what right he had to bring this
misery upon me; to entail on his children an inheritance of shame; I
asked what he could have done with all the money; and there was nothing
to answer me but the mocking word, What? When I look on my darling, I
can hardly forbear to cry out against his memory. Pardon me, Miss
Brabazon, I think this is the first time I have spoken of it to a
stranger, but your words of kindness opened my heart."

"Have you many children?" inquired Miss Brabazon.

"Two sons,—George and an elder one. I have George only with me; the
other is out, working for his living. And I have a daughter."

"Is she with you?"

"She is a teacher in a school in Derbyshire. I seem to be quite
isolated from friends and family," continued Mrs. Paradyne, in a
fretful tone. "It is but another natural result of the wretched past. I
suppose my boy in this new college will be equally friendless."

"Your son has one firm friend in our new German master, Mr. Henry," was
the reply of Miss Brabazon.

It was intended to be a reassuring one; but Mrs. Paradyne seemed to
take it up in quite an opposite light. Her faded brow contracted; her
eyes assumed a hard expression.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Brabazon; I would rather not speak of Mr.
Henry. When I remember that it is through him we came up to this
college, where my boy is being subjected to these slights and insults,
I cannot think of him with patience."

"Was it through Mr. Henry you came to Orville?"

"It was. He wrote to us from Heidelberg, saying he had made an
engagement with a first-class college in England, and suggested that
George should be placed at it. He could give him so much of his time,
he said. And this is the result!—that we find Raymond Trace here and
the Loftus boys."

"But surely Mr. Henry did it for the best?"

"He intended it for the best, no doubt, but it has not turned out so
for George. What I think is this—that Mr. Henry, knowing past
circumstances and the cloud they cast upon us, might have made some
inquiries as to who the scholars were at Orville College, before he
brought George to it, and put me to the expense and trouble and pain of
coming here."

The exceeding injustice of the reasoning—nay, the ingratitude—brought
to Emma Brabazon a deeper conviction of the innate selfishness of Mrs.
Paradyne. She supposed that her great misfortunes had hardened her; and
the saying, so keen and true, arose to her mind,—"Adversity hardens the
heart, or it opens it to Paradise."

"You knew Mr. Henry well in Germany, I believe? He was professor in the
college where your son was a scholar?"

"Yes, he was," replied Mrs. Paradyne.

Miss Brabazon took her leave, and went away, a dim idea resting on her
that she had seen Mrs. Paradyne before; or some one resembling her.
Ever and anon, during the interview, an expression had dawned over her
countenance that seemed strangely familiar. "But it was only when her
face looked pleasant that the idea arose," thought Emma Brabazon, as
she turned into the avenue and crossed the lawn leading to Mrs. Gall's.

Miss Rose was making herself at home, and had her things off. "I'm
going to stay tea, Emma," was her salutation to her sister. "You can go
home without me."

It was her way. She did not say, "May I stay?" but took will and
decision into her own hands. In great things Emma quietly corrected
her; in trifles Rose was yielded to. Emma looked at Mrs. Gall, a
slight, thin, kind little woman, with a sharp red nose.

"Do let her stay, Miss Brabazon. William is coming home to go out to
dinner with his papa, and the children and governess are to have a
pleasant hour with me. See how anxious Jessie is that you should say
yes."

Emma laughed and acquiesced. Upon which Rose waltzed into the
governess's room with the news, and watched her sister away. It was
scarcely tea-time yet, and Miss Brabazon found she had leisure to go
round to Mrs. Butter's, whom she had occasion to see about some
mushroom-ketchup. Mr. Henry was standing at his low sitting-room window
as she passed, dreamily watching the boys in the playground, for school
was over. They were whooping, halloaing, running, as it is in the
nature of schoolboys to do; and a little army of them had gathered at
the palings, looking this way. The master's face wore the sad look that
had previously so struck Miss Brabazon, and she turned aside to speak
to him.

"I have been to see Mrs. Paradyne," she said, thinking the information
might give him pleasure, as she stood at the open window.

"Have you!" he answered, his countenance and his luminous eyes lighting
up. "How very kind of you, Miss Brabazon!"

"Poor thing! What terrible trouble she must have seen! She carries it
in her face, in the tones of her voice, in her manner; all tell of it.
She says she shall never overcome the blow."

"But did she speak of it to you, Miss Brabazon?" he inquired in some
surprise.

"Yes, but it was my fault; I inadvertently alluded to it," replied Miss
Brabazon, dropping her voice. "I was so vexed with myself. Mrs.
Paradyne tells me there is another son who is out somewhere."

"Ah, yes," returned Mr. Henry; and his dreamy eyes went far away again,
as if he could see the other son in the distance.

"But she seems quite rapt up in this, her second; it struck me somehow
that she does not care for the elder," continued Miss Brabazon, in a
pleasant tone of confidence. "She tells me it was you who recommended
the college to her."

He looked for a minute at Miss Brabazon before he answered: it almost
seemed to her as if he divined Mrs. Paradyne's reproachful words. She
waited for an answer.

"After I had made the agreement with Dr. Brabazon to come here, I wrote
to Mrs. Paradyne. She wanted, as I knew, to place her son at a
first-class school, and I thought I might give him some little extra
attention."

"Just so. It was very kind of you. Mrs. Paradyne has an idea that the
boys are shunning him," added Miss Brabazon.

"I believe they are. But why, I cannot find out, for I don't think they
have any clue to the past. I tell George Paradyne he will live it
down."

"To be sure he will. There is a daughter also, I find—a teacher in a
school."

For one moment Mr. Henry turned and looked sharply, questioningly, at
Miss Brabazon; as if he would ask how much more Mrs. Paradyne had told
her. But it was evident that he shunned the subject; and he made no
comment whatever on this additional item of news. An idea flashed over
Miss Brabazon that Mr. Henry was attached to this young lady; but why
it did so she could not have told.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Henry."

He bowed his adieu, and Miss Brabazon went round to the house-door, and
thence to the kitchen. Mrs. Butter was standing there in a fury,
surrounded by coils of string and a heap of paper.

"Look here, Miss Emma," was her salutation; and she was familiar with
Miss Brabazon from having formerly lived servant in the college. "If
those boys don't have something done to them, it's a shocking shame.
There comes a railway porter to the door five minutes ago—'A parcel for
you, ma'am,' he says to me, 'fourpence to pay!' Well, I was expecting a
parcel from my brother, and I paid the fourpence and took it in. 'What
on earth has made Bill tie it up with all this string for, and wrap it
round with all this paper?' says I as I undid it. First string, and
then paper; then string, and then paper; and curious round holes bored
in all of it, as if done with a big iron skewer. But it never struck
me—no, Miss Emma, it never struck me; and I went on and on till I came
to the last wrap, and was bending over that to see whatever it could
be, done up so careful, when a live mouse jumped out in my face. I
shrieked out so, that it brought the German gentleman in—he thought I
was afire. Between us we caught the mouse, and there he is, in a pail
o' water, which is where them boys ought to be. The depth of 'em!
boring them holes to keep the animal alive, and getting a railway
porter to come with it, as bold as brass!"

Emma Brabazon, staid lady of thirty though she was, stood coughing
behind her handkerchief. "But how do you know it was the boys?" she
asked.

"Know!" wrathfully retorted Mrs. Butter. "There's fifty faces turned on
to the house now from the playground, if there's one; and all of 'em as
meek as lambs! Just look at 'em!"

Thinking she would leave the ketchup for a more auspicious occasion,
Miss Brabazon went away, leaving Mrs. Butter fuming and grumbling.
Sundry faces certainly were still scanning the house; but Miss Brabazon
appeared to see nothing, and went on her way. In turning round by the
chapel, she encountered the senior boy.

"Did you send that present to Mrs. Butter just now, Gall?"

"A present, Miss Brabazon?"

"A live mouse done up in a parcel."

Gall stared, and then laughed. He knew nothing of it. The seniors were
above those practical tricks. "It was the second desk, no doubt," he
said. "Am I to inquire into it, Miss Brabazon?"

"No, not from me. But they should not tease the old woman beyond
bearing."

"She is of a cranky temper," said Gall.

"And the boys make it worse. Gall," added Miss Brabazon, her tone
changing, and the senior boy thought it bore a touch of fear, "you have
not discovered yet who fired the pistol?"

"Not at all. We begin to think now, Miss Brabazon, that it was not one
of us."

"Ah," she said, turning her face away. "What is the cause of this
feeling against the new boy, George Paradyne?" she continued, and the
question seemed to come abruptly after the pause.

"I don't know," replied Gall, excessively surprised that it should be
asked him. "I perceive there is some feeling against Paradyne; I
suppose because he is an outsider."

"Gall, you have more sense, more thought, than some of your companions,
and I can speak to you confidentially, as one friend would speak to
another," resumed Miss Brabazon. "Ascertain, if you can, the cause of
this feeling, without making a fuss, you know; and tell me what it is.
Soothe it down if possible; make the boy's way easy amidst you. I am
sure he does not deserve to be shunned."

Gall touched his cap, much flattered, and went on his way. Not into
school: he had been invited out to dinner with his father, as Mrs. Gall
had said, and had leave from Dr. Brabazon until eleven o'clock. This
gave a golden opportunity to the seniors, of which they were not slow
to avail themselves. In recording the doings of a large school, where
truth is adhered to, the bad has to be told with the good.

Smoking was especially forbidden: nothing was so certainly followed by
punishment as the transgression of the rule. Not only was it sternly
interdicted, but Dr. Brabazon talked kindly and earnestly to the boys
in private. The habit when acquired early was most pernicious, he
reiterated to them; frequently inducing paralysis by middle age. He
gave Gall special instructions to be watchful; and this was well; the
senior boy was faithful to the trust reposed in him, and, though the
vigilance of the masters could be eluded, it was not so easy to escape
his. But on occasions like this, when Gall's back was turned, certain
of the seniors who liked a cigar, or pipe, or screw—anything—when they
could get it, seized on the opportunity, in defiance of rules and the
Head Master.

They set about the recreation this evening in the privacy of their
chamber. There were seven beds in it, occupied by Gall, Loftus, Trace,
Irby, Fullarton, Savage, and Brown major. Taking off their jackets and
putting out the candle, they drew the window up to its height slowly
and gingerly, and lighted their cigars. Not Trace: he had never been
seen with anything of the sort in his mouth; and it always made Brown
major sick, fit to die; but he considered it manly to persevere. There
they stood at the window, puffing away, laughing and talking in an
undertone. News of Mrs. Butter's present had run the round of the
school, and the seniors, though loftily superior to such things in
public, did not disdain to enjoy that and other interesting events in
private. That lady's domicile was in full view; her large dog lay in
the garden. It was the fourth dog she had tried, and those wicked
reptiles (one of Mrs. Butter's laudatory names for them) had made
friends with each animal in succession, and so bribed him to their
interests.

"I say, what is it that's up against Paradyne?" suddenly asked Brown
major, glad of any opportunity to get that miserable cigar out of his
mouth.

Nobody answered: the boys were too lazy, or the cigars too exacting.
That Brown major had a trick of bringing up unpleasant topics. He asked
again.

"He had no business to be put in our class," said Savage at length.

"Jove, no! But that wasn't his fault."

"An outsider and all," continued Savage. "It's the second desk, though,
that are making the set at him."

"What has he done to them?"

"Bother!" said Savage, who was in some difficulty about his cigar.

Brown major was not to be put down; talking was more convenient than
smoking just now. "Do you know, Trace?"

"It's no affair of mine," replied Trace coldly, and Irby exchanged a
meaning glance with him in the starlight.

"This beastly cigar won't draw at all," exclaimed Savage.

"No, they won't," assented Fullarton, in much wrath; "and I paid
threepence apiece for them." For the treat this evening was his. "It's
a regular swindle."

"The best cigars—"

"Hist! Who's that?"

The warning came from Trace. Not being occupied as the rest were, his
attention was awake, and a sound like a cough had caught his ear from
underneath the window. Out went the heads and the cigars, which was a
great want of caution. On the gravel walk below, pacing about before
the Head Master's study, whose large bay window abutted outwards, was
Mr. Henry.

"Take care, you fellows," murmured Trace; "it's that German spy."

In came the cigars. The boys, snatching them from their lips, held them
behind, back-handed, and put out their heads again.

"What makes you call him a spy, Trace?" whispered Loftus.

"Because I know he is one. Mind! he saw the cigars: I watched him look
up. I wonder what he is doing there."

The idea of a spy in the school—and he one of the masters—was not at
all an agreeable prospect, and the smokers felt a sort of chill. "How
do you know he is one, Trace?" asked Brown major.

"That's my business. I tell you that he _is_, and that's enough. I'd
give half a crown to know what he is walking there for! He can't have
any business there."

For the walk was a solitary walk, not leading to any particular spot;
of course open to the inmates of the college, but nobody ever thought
of going there at night. Hence the wonder. Perhaps its solitude may
have made its attraction for Mr. Henry: quiet and still it lay,
underneath the stars, but a minute or two's distance from his lodgings.
The boys, peeping out still with hushed breath, saw him presently
stroll away in the direction of his home, making no sign that he had
observed them.

"Mark you," said Fullarton, much put out, "the fellow has stationed
himself in those low-lived rooms of Mother Butter's to be a spy upon
us. Trace is right."

But not one of them had known that during this little episode Brown
minor came into the room on some mission to his brother, and had seen
the red ends of the five cigars, just then held backwards. Divining
that it might not be deemed a convenient moment for intrusion, young
Mr. Brown withdrew quietly, leaving his errand unfulfilled; went back
to his own room, and there whispered the news confidentially that the
seniors were smoking.



CHAPTER VII.

Mr. Lamb improves his Mind in Private.

Rather to the consternation of the first desk, though perhaps not very
much to their surprise, Mr. Long brought a charge against them—that
they had been smoking. It was the morning following Gall's holiday; and
Mr. Long waylaid three or four of the seniors as they were filing into
the school-hall after chapel. Gall of course knew nothing of it. His
nose had been greeted with an unusual scent on his entering the chamber
the previous night, when the boys were all in bed and asleep, but he
was wise enough never to take cognizance of things that did not fall
under his immediate observation. Mr. Long addressed himself to civil
Trace.

"Trace, I charge you, speak the truth. Were you smoking?"

"No, Mr. Long, I was not. I never smoke."

"I _can't_ smoke, sir," put in Brown major eagerly. "Smoking wouldn't
agree with me."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Long, but I think whoever has carried this
story to you, might have been better occupied in minding his own
business," observed Loftus, boldly. "I wonder you take notice of tales
brought by a rat."

Mr. Long flushed a little, but was not to be put down. He awarded every
one that slept in the senior room, except Gall and Trace, a severe
punishment: lessons to do out of hours. Gall, from his absence, could
not have been in the affair, and the denial of Trace was believed. If
Lamb was the sneak of the school, Trace was the Pharisee, and
considered by the masters accordingly. But that Mr. Long was conscious
of feeling rather small himself on the subject of listening to "a
rat"—whom _he_ took to mean Lamb—he might have laid the offence before
the Head Master: as it was, he dealt with it himself. There was much
dissatisfaction rife at the first desk that day.

Had a very angel from heaven come down to tell them the informant was
not Mr. Henry, they had scarcely listened. He was their rat. Even
Loftus and Irby, the two who had been inclined to like the German
master, turned against him. Gall also, in his private thoughts,
considered it a gratuitous interference.

"I told you I knew the fellow was a spy," cried Trace, speaking
vehemently in his condemning resentment.

A spy from henceforth, in their estimation, and to be looked upon as
such: one who would have the whole school armed against him.

But now, the informant was not Mr. Henry—as I daresay you have divined:
the real one was Lamb. When Brown minor carried back the news to his
chamber of what he had seen, Lamb, who slept there, treasured it up,
and whispered it to Mr. Long the first thing in the morning. Not a
single boy, save himself, would have told. The whole lot of juniors,
from the second desk downwards, would have scorned it: they were too
fond of escapades themselves, to tell of the seniors; not to speak of
the hidings—to use their own language—they would have been treated to
in private. In this instance Lamb was not suspected, the suspicion
having fixed itself on Mr. Henry.

Something almost amounting to a rebellion took place in the quadrangle
after morning school; and perhaps no man had ever been called so many
hard names as the unfortunate foreign master. Paradyne was not there;
being an outsider, and not in favour besides, he had gone home at once;
or the news of the accusation might have reached Mr. Henry. A cad! a
sneak! a German spy! What was to be done? asked the enraged boys, one
of another. Well, nothing much could be done, except send him to
Coventry. Not being the Head Master, they had not the authority to
dismiss him from his place; neither, as the affair had its rise in that
forbidden fruit, tobacco, could they be demonstrative in the hearing of
the masters.

"Let's go to him," foamed Savage. "Let's have it out."

"Better not," advised Fullarton, who, as purchaser of the cigars, felt
a trifle more insecure than the rest, and naturally wished the affair
to die away. "There'd only be a row. You know you never can keep your
temper, Savage."

"Temper be bothered," cried Brown major. "He ought to be told that
we've found him out."

"Then let Trace go. Trace can keep his."

Trace declined. "He'd rather not speak to the fellow."

"I'll go," said Loftus.

Away he went, on the spur of the moment, nearly the whole lot at his
heels. Brown major walked into the room with him; Fullarton pushed in
also, to see that peace was kept. Mrs. Butter, in a hot flurry banged
her kitchen-door in their faces; but their visit this time was not to
her.

Mr. Henry was at dinner. A snow-white cloth and napkin, and silver
forks; everything of that sort nice, as befitted a gentleman's table;
but the dinner itself consisted of potatoes, eaten with salt. A Dutch
cheese was there; bread; and a small glass of milk. The intruding
gentlemen stared at the fare, and Mr. Loftus's handsome nose went up
with an air, Mr. Henry rose and stood before the table, courteous
always; and Fullarton kicked out behind to keep out the throng.

"You were pacing the gravel walk at the back last night, Mr. Henry,"
began Loftus, so calmly that no human listener could have supposed it
the advance trumpet-blast of war, "and saw two or three cigars
overhead, I think?"

"Both saw them and smelt them," answered Mr. Henry with a smile.

"Exactly. Don't you think it was rather dishonourable of you to go and
tell the English master of it this morning?"

"I did not do so."

"_We_ think it was," continued Loftus, wholly disregarding the denial.
"A gentleman could not be guilty of such an act. You have but just come
among us, and in any case the matter was none of yours. Perhaps you
will concern yourself in future with your own affairs, and not with
ours. The first desk is not accustomed to this kind of thing."

Except for the stress laid upon the word "gentleman," there was nothing
offensive in the cold tone: Loftus could not have descended to abuse.
Mr. Henry looked surprised, rather bewildered.

"I should think you did not hear my denial, Loftus. I assure you I have
not spoken of this."

"That's all," returned Loftus, going out with his tail, who had not
seen cause to interfere. Brown major, however, thought better of it,
and turned back for a parting word.

"Such a nasty, sneaking thing to do, you know! You might have accused
us openly to our faces; not have gone canting to the masters behind our
backs."

Whatever Bertie Loftus's faults might be, he scorned a lie: and he
fully believed the denial of the German master to be nothing less. So
far as the smoking party knew, nobody else had been, or could have
been, cognizant of the cigars; for Brown minor and his room had kept
their own counsel.

"I knew he'd deny it," exclaimed Trace, when they got back, his light
eyes flashing with a scorn not often seen there. "You now see what he
is."

"I say, what d'ye think he's having for dinner?" burst out Fullarton.
"Potatoes and salt."

"Potatoes and salt? Go along with you."

"Ask Loftus then; ask Brown. He had got nothing else but a Dutch
cheese; he was washing 'em down with milk."

"What else could be expected of one who'd go to lodge at Mother
Butter's?" was the scornful remark of Savage. "He must be a cad!"

"And an owl," squeaked Lamb, venturing forward. "Owls go out prowling
at night. Nobody else _could_ have told."

Clearly. A master who dined on potatoes and salt, and eat his words
with a lie when his villainy was found out, was an owl, and all the
rest of it.

Mr. Henry meanwhile was unconscious of the storm against him. He rather
laughed over the matter, attaching no importance to it. His frugal
dinner despatched, he was plodding on with his translation, when a
little fellow, to whom he had promised some help in a tormenting French
exercise, came in; and he was followed by George Paradyne, who often
brought his Greek difficulties to Mr. Henry. George was a good
classical scholar, but Mr. Henry was a better. Patiently he gave his
best attention to both, putting his own work aside. He was always ready
to help the boys out of hours, and encouraged them to come to him,
though it was not in his line of duties.

Afternoon school began. A dull, weary afternoon, with inward
dissatisfaction reigning. Mr. Henry called up the second desk, and
found his pupils careless and troublesome, bordering on
insubordination. He promised them punishment if they did not attend
better. Master Dick Loftus especially was as scornfully insolent as he
dared be. Not very long after they were sent back to their places, Dick
lifted the lid of his desk, and fished up a rotten apple.

"Onions, see here. I've a great mind to shy it at him."

Onions glanced round the room; he enjoyed mischief as much as Dick, and
was heartily hating and despising Mr. Henry: having nothing of the
sneak in his own disposition, he could not tolerate it in others.

"You'll be seen, Dick. Old Jebb's eyes are rolling about."

"They always are, and be hanged to him, when Brabazon's away!"
exclaimed Smart from the other side of Dick, as resentfully as if the
rolling of the Reverend Mr. Jebb's eyes were a personal affront.

Presently the opportunity came; Dick raised the apple, carefully took
aim, and sent it flying. Good aim, for it struck the cheek of Mr.
Henry, making on it a great dash and splash, as it is in the nature of
a rotten apple to do. But, unfortunately, at the very moment of Dick's
giving an impetus to the missile, Mr. Henry happened to raise his eyes;
he saw the deliberate aim, saw the throw, and Dick knew that he saw it.
The whole room was aroused.

"Who did that?" cried out Mr. Baker, in a passion. "He shall have a
good caning, whoever it was."

Nobody answered. The second desk especially, bending attentively over
their books, looked up in innocent surprise.

"Who did it, I ask?" roared Mr. Baker, a choleric man, beginning to
talk fast and furiously, and to cane his table as kindly as if it had
been a boy's back. In the midst, in walked the Head Master. As he took
his place the noise sunk to a calm.

"Did you see who flung the apple, Mr. Henry?" inquired the Master, when
he was made cognizant of the cause of uproar he had come upon: and his
quiet voice of authority presented a contrast to Mr. Baker's.

Involuntarily, as it were, and for a moment only, Mr. Henry's glance
met Dick's. Something like shame for the act, something like a piteous
appeal for silence, went out of Dick's eyes. It is so very different,
you see—the accomplishing a little thing of this sort with impunity,
and the being caught in the act. Mr. Henry, replying to the Head
Master, said it might have been an accident, and finished wiping his
face with his handkerchief. A nice mess the cambric was in.

"Accident or no accident, the boy shall be punished if I can discover
him," returned the doctor. "Can't you tell who flung it?"

Mr. Henry merely shook his head very slightly. It was of no
consequence, he quietly said, and called up the third class for its
German exercises. Dr. Brabazon, letting the matter drop, sat down and
began turning the things over on his table in search of his
lead-pencil. Not finding it, he took one from his pocket, and, in doing
so, let it fall. It rolled along the floor, and one of the boys picked
it up.

"Thank you, Jessop," said he, always pleasant with his pupils. "It
would not do to lose this, would it?"

The pencil was of gold, with a beautiful diamond set in the top. It had
been a present to him from some former pupils. The doctor began to make
notes on an exercise.

"I say, Dick, what a blessing the German did not twig you," whispered
Smart, speaking with his head bent over his Euripides as if he were
steadily conning it.

"But he did," answered Dick.

"I'm sure he didn't. What nonsense! As if he'd not have got you into
punishment if he had the chance!"

Dick, for a wonder, did not insist on his own opinion, and the
afternoon went on. Dr. Brabazon's man-servant, Dean, appeared at the
door and said a gentleman was waiting to see him, and the doctor left
the hall. He only came back again just as the classes were rising.

Boys and masters poured out indiscriminately as usual. Mr. Henry walked
away quickly, and the boys went into a state of frantic delight in the
tea-room, ironically hoping he was washing his cheek.

But Dick Loftus had been struck with the amazing generosity displayed
to him; for that Mr. Henry saw him fling the apple purposely, had been
as plain to him as the sun at noon-day; and he thought he owed some
acknowledgment of the consideration shown. Dick Loftus was all impulse,
and he forthwith went on the gallop to Mother Butter's. Mr. Henry was
bending over his table working at the translation.

"I've come to say I'm sorry for what I did, and to thank you for not
telling of me," began Dick, his face glowing rather more than usual.

"That's right," said Mr. Henry, his luminous eyes lighting up with a
smile as he took Dick's hand and shook it.

"You saw me fling it, didn't you, sir?"

"Yes."

"Then why didn't you tell?"

"Because I did not wish you to be punished. I like to make people's
lives pleasant to them; perhaps because I have had very little pleasure
in my own."

"Would you never punish any of us?"

"I would if I saw you do essentially wrong. But for petty
spite—retaliation—revenge—oh, Dick, don't you know Who it is that has
warned us against these? I think we must all try for love and peace on
earth if we would enter into it in heaven."

Dick considered: it was rather an unaccustomed way of putting matters.
He began to work things out in his mind, speaking, as was usual with
him, what came uppermost.

"I don't call it at all a heavenly thing to have gone behind their
backs, and told about the seniors smoking," said he, practically. "I
suppose you think smoking's one of the wrong things."

"It's not very right," replied Mr. Henry. "It injures themselves, and
it is flying in the face of orders."

"But why did you not report them openly, instead of the—the other way?"

"I did not report them at all. I did not mention it to any one."

"Is that true?" asked Dick, dubiously.

"Boy! I should never tell you what was not true."

Dick stood puzzled. It was Mr. Henry's word against common sense;
against the conviction of the whole school. Nothing would come of
arguing the matter, even had Mr. Henry been disposed to argue it, and
Dick turned to leave, saying something in a complaining tone about
having to get to his lessons in play hours.

"Do you find them difficult?" asked Mr. Henry.

"Difficult?" returned Dick, as if the question were an aggravation.
"It's that horrid Euclid. Nothing ever bothers me as that does."

"Bring it to me; I daresay I can smooth your mountains for you by a
little explanation."

"Do you mean it?" cried Dick, a spring of gratitude in his voice. "But
it is not in your work. You have nothing to do with Euclid."

"Never mind that. Fetch it now."

Dick flew for his books. Mr. Henry did smooth the mountains, patiently,
kindly; and he bade him always come to him in the same
stumbling-blocks—every evening if he liked. Mrs. Butter made her
appearance once, which Dick regarded as an agreeable interlude, for it
enabled him to ask affectionately after the shorn cock and the other
animals, to the lady's great wrath. She had a pair of new boots in her
hand for Mr. Henry; the man, she said, was waiting for the money. Mr.
Henry replied that it was not convenient to pay him then; he would send
it in a day or two.

Dick, his Euclid difficulty over, went home; and in giving an account
to his friends of various matters, mentioned this episode of the new
boots and the nonpayment—not in ill-nature, but in his propensity to
gossip. Trace was contemptuous over it.

"I'll lay a guinea the fellow has not a shilling in the world!"

"But look here!" cried Dick. "I don't really think it was he that told
about the smoke. He says he didn't: he's as earnest as he can be."

"That's all your opinion's good for," returned Trace. And the rest gave
a slighting laugh at Dick. Dick took his revenge in a most impudent
whistle.

The boys were subsequently in the hall at their evening lessons. Lamb,
who had contrived to do his quickly, was stealing out to pass the
intervening half-hour before prayer-time in his bedroom, which was
against rules. In passing the mathematical room, he encountered Mr.
Long. Glancing around to see that no one else was within hearing, Mr.
Long accosted him in a semi-undertone.

"By the way, Lamb—there was no mistake I suppose in regard to that
matter you mentioned to me? The seniors _were_ smoking?"

"No mistake at all, sir. Five or six cigars were alight, and the room
was full of smoke."

"They are making a terrible fuss over it—just as though it were not
true."

"It was quite true, sir. My only motive in reporting it to you was
their own good: I did not want to get them into a row. It _is_ a
pernicious habit."

"Ah," returned Mr. Long, peering rather dubiously through his
spectacles on his virtuous friend. For he really did not approve of
sneaks as a whole, but there always seemed some excuse for listening to
this one. What with his near sight, and what with his absent brain,
buried in its calculations and sciences, Mr. Long was reproachfully
self-conscious that he did not look out for peccadilloes as he ought.
"That's all then, Lamb."

Mr. Long turned towards the hall; Lamb towards the library, as if he
wanted to borrow a book. But as soon as the master's footsteps had died
away, the young gentleman altered his course, and stole gingerly up the
stairs.

After Dick Loftus had left with his mathematical books, Mr. Henry got
to his translation, and wrote on by candle-light, how long he hardly
knew. His head, which had been aching all the evening, grew worse, and
he suddenly bethought himself to take a mouthful of fresh air. The
heavy atmosphere was so different from what he was accustomed to in
Germany, that he sometimes felt three parts stifled. Putting on his
trencher, he strolled across the gymnasium ground, damp this evening,
to the broad gravel walk before mentioned, leading past the study and
the rest of the back windows of the college. Barely had he begun to
pace the path, when he encountered a strange man, much to his surprise;
for the place was private. Mr. Henry accosted him.

"Are you in search of any one?"

"I have a letter for Dr. Brabazon. I can't find any entrance to the
house. This is Orville College, isn't it?"

The words were spoken roughly and impatiently; the tones seemed to be
those of an educated man. Mr. Henry tried to get a distinct view of his
face, but the speaker turned his back, and appeared to be looking for
some entrance to the college.

"You must go round to the front," said Mr. Henry. "The entrances are
all on that side."

Without a word of thanks, the stranger went off down the path, looking
here and there like one uncertain of his road; but he took the right
turning, round by the chapel. Mr. Henry, who had watched him, continued
his way to the top of the gravel-walk—he, and his tired brow.

As he was passing underneath the bedrooms in returning, a piece of
newspaper, seemingly as large as a whole _Times_, and crumpled into a
sort of ball, came down upon his cap.

"Who's that?" he called out, thinking it might have been done to
attract his attention. The question brought forth a boy's head from one
of the upper windows, and a faint light that was burning in the room
suddenly went out.

"Did you throw that down for any purpose?" asked Mr. Henry.

"No, sir. Did it touch you? I beg your pardon. It was only a piece of
old newspaper I threw away."

The head went in again. Mr. Henry had not discerned to whom it
belonged, and did not care to know. He began to cross slowly back
towards home; he could not afford to waste more time, but must get to
his work again.

"It was that beast of a German!"

The words came from Mr. Lamb—for his head it was, which had been thrust
forth in answer to Mr. Henry. Lamb had gained the bedroom
unmolested—you saw him on his way to it—and the first thing he did,
after bolting the door, was to light a private taper. He had brought a
huge cake to school, with sundry other luxuries, and had been enjoying
them systematically, so much each day, as he could get solitary
opportunity. The last slice of the cake only remained to be eaten. He
gobbled it in rather quickly, licked up the crumbs remaining in the
paper, made a ball of that, and flung it out just as Mr. Henry chanced
to be passing. When the latter called out, Lamb extinguished the candle
with his finger and thumb, and then looked out to answer.

"It's that beast of a German!"

But Mr. Lamb need not have called names. He watched Mr. Henry crossing
towards his home, and gave him time to get indoors. It wanted still
some twenty minutes to the hour for chapel, and he relighted his taper.
Diving into the bottom of his box, he brought forth a favourite book
for a little wholesome recreation, and also a choice cigarette, which
he lighted. Down he sat on the next box, low, square, and convenient;
puffing comfortably away, and improving his mind with the solacing
pages of "Jack Sheppard."



CHAPTER VIII.

A Loss.

The next morning was distinguished by an event that brought pleasure to
all. Talbot was amongst them again. He was looking fresh and well; did
not limp in the least; and seemed to have grown an inch and a half. Mr.
Baker directed him to take his place at the first desk, and this was a
surprise to its occupants: but they welcomed him gladly.

"Did you know you were going to be moved here, Shrewsbury?" asked they.

"Not for certain. I thought it likely."

"You are going in for the Orville?"

"Of course I am. I should have done that had they kept me at the second
desk. I say, has it never come out who shot me?"

The boys shook their heads. It was a sore subject with them yet.

"I heard that Sir Simon offered a gold watch as a reward."

"So he did. But nothing turned up. Never mind, earl."

"_I_ don't mind; why should I?" returned the earl. "No harm has come of
it. I say, though, you can't think how kind the doctor and Miss
Brabazon have been. If I were old enough I'd marry her."

This caused a laugh. The earl had the queerest way of bringing out
things, keeping his own countenance as steady as could be all the
while.

Dr. Orville, the founder of the college, had bestowed on it an
exhibition at his death. It fell in at the end of every third year; and
for three years gave seventy pounds a year to the boy who got it. It
was open for competition to all unconditionally, no matter whether they
were seniors or not; though of course none but seniors were
sufficiently advanced to try for it; and the name of each competitor
must lie on the books, _as_ competitor, for one year previous to the
trial. The boys called it familiarly the Orville Prize; in short, the
Orville. The names had been just put down, several, for the
probationary twelvemonth was on the eve of being entered; and, to the
unspeakable indignation of the school, George Paradyne's was one. A new
boy (leaving other things that some two or three of them knew of out of
the question) who had but just come in, to thrust down his name
indecently amidst the old pupils! This was said from mouth to mouth;
and Trace had a sore battle with himself not to disclose the disgrace
of the past.

The Head Master came into the hall and called up Talbot. The boy had
been at home for a week or two, and only returned that morning.

"Are you feeling strong, my lad?"

"Quite so, thank you, sir. I have been to the sea-side."

"Have you!" returned the Master, some surprise in his tone, for he knew
how limited funds were at Talbot's home.

"Sir Simon Orville came to see my mother the day after I got home; he
insisted that she should take me to the sea-side," said Talbot with a
smile, as if he had divined those thoughts. The doctor understood the
rest in a moment.

"I'm proud of Sir Simon; I'm proud to call him a friend," cried he,
warmly. "I am glad you've been."

"If you please, sir, I wish my name to be entered for the Orville
Exhibition," Talbot stayed to say.

"Do you? Very well. How old are you?"

"Close upon seventeen."

"All right. I don't care how many of you enter. Only one can gain it;
but it will get the rest on in their studies. I'll just make a note of
your name in pencil now."

He looked for his lead-pencil, and could not see it. Then, remembering
that he had missed it the previous day, he put his hand in his pocket
for the gold one. But it was not there.

"Why, what have I done with it?" cried the doctor, searching about.
"Perhaps I took it into my study and left it there. Very careless of
me! Go and see, Talbot: it will be on the table in the large inkstand."

Talbot went and came back without it. "It's not there, sir. This is the
only one I could see," handing an old silver one.

"Not there!" Dr. Brabazon sent his thoughts backwards, trying to
recollect when he last used it. The fact of the pencil's falling in the
schoolroom the previous afternoon occurred to him, and he remembered
that he was making pencil marks on a book with it when his man-servant
came to call him out. What did he do with the pencil? Did he leave it
on his table; or put it in his pocket; or carry it away in his hand? He
could not tell. Here, it certainly was not at present; and the Head
Master rose and went to his study himself. When called out of school
the previous afternoon he had sat there for some time with the visitor,
a gentleman named Townshend, who had come on business. Subsequently, he
and Miss Brabazon had gone out to dinner: and, in short, his memory
showed no trace of the pencil since he was using it in the hall. He
could not find it in the study, and went to the sitting-room,
interrupting his young daughter; who had quitted her French exercise to
drop airy curtseys before the glass.

"Rose, have you seen my gold pencil?"

"Oh, papa," said Rose, demurely, making believe to be stooping down to
tie her shoe. "Pencil-case! No, I've not seen it. Why, papa, you are
always losing your things."

A just charge, Miss Rose. The doctor, an absent man, often did mislay
articles.

"But they are always found again, papa, you know. As this will be."

However nothing seemed so certain about it this time. The search for
the pencil went on; and went on in vain. Quite a commotion arose in the
house, especially in the hall, where the search was greatest.

"It could not go without hands," said the doctor, after turning
everything out of his desk-table. "If I had let it fall in getting up
when I was called out yesterday, some of you would have heard it."

One of the boys, and only one, affirmed that he saw the doctor with it
in his hand as he left the hall. This was Trace: and there were few
things Trace did not see with those drawn-together eyes of his. Dr.
Brabazon believed Trace was mistaken. If he had carried the pencil away
in his hand, he thought he should not fail to remember it; besides,
others of them would surely have noticed it. Trace persisted: he said
he saw the diamond gleam.

Well, the pencil was gone. Gone! Dr. Brabazon looked out on the sea of
faces, curious ideas hovering around his mind. He did not admit them;
he would not have accused any of the boys for the world; no, nor
suspected them. But it was very strange.

The boys thought it so. First Talbot was shot, and now a diamond pencil
(as they phrased it) was stolen. Had they got a black sheep amongst
them? If so, who was it?

But in a day or two Trace's assertion proved to be correct. Dr.
Brabazon saw Mr. Townshend, the friend who had called upon him, and
this gentleman said he had observed a gold pencil in the doctor's hand
when he came into the study that day; and he, the doctor, had put it
into the large inkstand on the table, as he shook hands with him. This
news, if anything, complicated the affair; but it appeared entirely to
exonerate the boys, had exoneration been required. It also drew it into
a smaller nutshell: and the hypothesis to arise now was, that some one
had come in by the glass window and taken it. Dean, the doctor's
private servant, a faithful man who had lived with him for many years,
avowed freely that it was unusually late when he went in that night to
close the shutters. He found the glass door on what he called "the
catch;" that is, pushed close to, but not shut; which was nothing
unusual. On the following morning the doctor was in his study by six
o'clock, and opened the shutters himself, his frequent custom. That the
pencil was certainly not in the inkstand then, the doctor felt sure.

"I say, Trace, do you think the German would take the pencil?"

It was Lamb who put this question. Morning school was over, and the
boys were in the quadrangle, discussing the loss and other matters.
Trace looked up quickly.

"Why do you ask it?"

"Because he was prowling about before the study window the night of the
loss—just as he had been the other night when that stupid tale about
the smoking got about. I went up to our bedroom: I like to get a few
minutes' quiet for reflection sometimes—it improves the mind,"
continued candid Lamb; "and in chucking a piece of newspaper out of the
window, it happened to touch his head. He called out, and that's how I
knew he was there."

Trace drew in his breath: a grave suspicion was taking possession of
him. The eager boys, a choice knot of them, had gathered round.

"Nobody's ever there at night, no stranger, as Dr. Brabazon said this
morning," observed Trace. "It looks queer."

"You think the German went in and helped himself to the pencil, Trace?"

"Be quiet, Onions; you are always so outspoken. I'd rather not 'think'
about it on my own score," was Trace's cautious answer.

"Upon my word and honour, I think it must have been the fellow!" cried
Lamb, vehemently; and for once in his life Mr. Lamb spoke according to
his conviction. "It stands to reason: who else was likely to be there?"

"I don't say he took it, mind," resumed Trace; "but of all, belonging
to the college—masters, boys, servants, take the lot—the German is the
one who seems most in need of money. One may say _that_ much without
treason. Look at his engaging Mother Butter's cheap lodgings! and
living on potatoes and such things!"

"The other day he was dining off a suet-pudding: he ate it with salt,"
interrupted Fullarton's eager voice.

"How fond he must be of salt!" exclaimed Savage. And the boys laughed.

"He's working at some translation like old Blazes—sits up at night to
do it," resumed Powell. "He told Loftus minor it was for a bookseller,
who was to give him thirty pounds for it. He'd not work in that way if
he didn't need money awfully."

"But where does his money go? His salary—what does he do with it?"
wondered the boys.

"He must have private expenses," said Trace.

"What expenses?"

This was a question. They had once had an usher who indulged himself in
horse exercise; they had had another who gave forty-five pounds for a
violin, and half ruined himself buying new music. Mr. Henry did
neither.

"Perhaps he has got a wife and family," hazarded Brown major,
impulsively.

The notion of Mr. Henry's having a wife and family was so rich, that
the boys laughed till their sides ached. Which rather offended Brown
major.

"I'm sure I've heard those foreign French fellows often marry at
twenty-one; Germans too," quoth he. "You needn't grin. When a man's got
a wife and family, he has to keep 'em. His money must go somewhere.
Dick Loftus saw some new boots come home for him the other day, and he
couldn't pay for them. What are you staring at, Trace?"

Trace was not staring at Brown major or any one else in particular. The
mention of the boots called up a train of ideas that half startled him.
This incident of the boots had occurred on the very evening of the
loss; the following day (when they were in the midst of searching for
the pencil) Mr. Henry had gone by train into London after morning
school, and was not back until three o'clock. Soon after he returned,
Trace, by the merest accident, saw him take out his purse, and there
were several sovereigns in it. The thing, to Trace's mind, seemed to be
getting unpleasantly clear. But he said nothing.

"What are you all doing here?" exclaimed Gall, coming up at this
juncture. "Holding a council?"

They told him in an undertone: that the German master had been pacing
about before the study-window the night the pencil must have been lost
out of the room; and they spoke of his hard work, his want of money, of
all the rest they had been saying and hinting at.

Gall stopped the grave hint in its bud. The suspicion was perfectly
absurd as regarded Mr. Henry; most unjustifiable, he assured them; and
they had better get rid of it at once.

It was rather a damper, and in the check to their spirits, they began
to disperse. Gall had a great deal of good plain common sense; and his
opinion was always listened to. Trace rose from the projecting base of
a pillar on which he had been seated, knees to nose, put his arm within
Gall's and drew him away.

He told him everything; adding this fact of seeing the money in Mr.
Henry's purse, which he had not disclosed to the rest. Gall would not
be convinced. It might look a little suspicious, he acknowledged, but
he felt sure Mr. Henry was not one to do such a thing: he'd not dare to
do it. Besides, think of his high character, as given to the Head
Master from the university of Heidelberg.

Trace maintained his own opinion. He thought there were ways and means
of getting those high characters furnished, when people had a need for
them; he said he had mistrusted the man from the first moment he saw
him. "Look at his peaching about the smoking! Look at the mean way he
lives, the food he eats!" continued Trace, impressively. "He must have
private expenses of some sort; or else what makes him so poor?"

"He may have left debts behind him in Germany," suggested Gall, after a
pause of reflection.

"And most likely has," was the scornful rejoinder. "But he'd not make
his dinner off potatoes and work himself into a skeleton, to pay back
debts in Germany. Rubbish, Gall!"

"Look here, Trace. I know nothing of Mr. Henry's private affairs; they
may be bad or good for aught I can tell; but if I were you, I'd get rid
of that suspicion as to the pencil-case. Rely upon it," concluded Gall,
emphatically, "it won't hold water. Put it away from you."

Good advice, no doubt; and Trace, cautions always, intended to take it.
It happened, however, that same afternoon, that the Head Master sent
him to his study for a book. Trace opened the door quickly, and there
saw Miss Brabazon, on her hands and knees, searching round the edge of
the carpet. She sprang to her feet with a scared look.

"A pencil-case will roll into all sorts of odd places," she observed,
as if in apology. "I cannot understand the loss; it is troubling me
more than I can express."

"It must have been lost through the window, Miss Brabazon," said Trace.
"That is, some one must have got in that way."

"Yes; unless it rolled down and is hiding itself," she answered, her
eyes glancing restlessly into every corner. "I think I shall have the
carpet taken up to-morrow. It will be a great trouble, with all this
fixed furniture."

"I don't think you need have it done," observed Trace, who was standing
with his back to her before the large bookcase. "I fancy it went out
through the window."

"You have some suspicion, Trace!" she quickly exclaimed. "What is it?"

"If I have, Miss Brabazon, it is one that I cannot mention. It may be a
wrong suspicion, you see; perhaps it is."

"Trace," she said, laying her hand upon his arm, and her voice, her
eyes were full of strange earnestness, "you must tell it me. Tell me in
confidence; I have a suspicion too; perhaps we may keep the secret
together. I would give the pencil and its value twice over to find it
behind the carpet, in some crack or crevice of the wainscoting—and I
_know_ it is not there."

She spoke with some passion. The words, the manner altogether, disarmed
Trace of his caution; and he breathed his doubts into her ear. They
were received with intense surprise.

"Mr. Henry! that kind, gentlemanly German master! Why, Trace, you must
be dreaming."

Trace thought himself an idiot. "To tell you the truth, Miss Brabazon,
I fancied you were suspecting him yourself, though I don't know why I
took up the notion," he resumed, in his mortification. "But for that, I
should not have mentioned it. I won't eat my words, though, as I have
spoken; I do believe him to be guilty."

"I cannot think it; he seems as honest as the day. Just go over your
grounds of suspicion again, Trace. I was too much surprised to listen
properly."

Trace did so; the huge book he had come for standing upright in his
arm, supported by his shoulder. He mentioned everything; from Lamb
having seen Mr. Henry before the study that night, down to the empty
purse filled suddenly with gold.

Did you ever happen to witness a knot of boys favoured personally with
an unexpected explosion of gunpowder on the fifth of November? I'm sure
they did not leap apart in a more startled manner than did Trace and
Miss Brabazon now, at the entrance of Mr. Henry. He had come to see
after Trace and the book; the Head Master thought Trace must be unable
to find it. Away went Trace. Miss Brabazon stooped to put down the
corner of the hearthrug, saying something rather confusedly about
searching for the pencil, now that it was known to have been lost in
that room.

It happened that Mr. Henry, an outdoor master, had not heard that that
fact was established. Miss Brabazon told him of it.

"Some one must have got in through the unfastened window, and taken
it," she continued, looking at him. "It is very curious. Strangers are
never there: the grounds are private."

"Got in through the window," he repeated, as a recollection flashed
across his mind. "Why, I saw a man on the gravel-path; there," pointing
to the one on which the window opened, "that same night. He was looking
for the entrance to the college, and I directed him round to the
front."

"How came you to see him?" she returned, speaking rather sharply.

"I had been hard at work at my translation, the one I told the doctor
of, and strolled across for a breath of fresh air. This man was coming
down the path, must have just passed the window, and I asked him what
he wanted. He replied that he had a letter for Dr. Brabazon."

"Why did you not speak of this before, Mr. Henry?"

"I never thought to connect it with the loss. It was believed that the
pencil was lost from the hall. The man did not seem in the least
confused or hurried. I should fancy his business was quite legitimate,
Miss Brabazon; merely the delivery of the letter. I saw one in his
hand."

She went at once to question the servants, debating in her mind whether
this was fact, or an invention of the German master's to throw
suspicion from himself. Not any tidings could she get of a letter
having been brought by hand that night. Dean was positive that no such
letter had been delivered: One came the previous night, he said, for
Mr. Baker and he took it to him. Miss Brabazon went back to the study,
and asked Mr. Henry, waiting there by her desire, whether he had not
made a mistake in the night.

"None whatever," was his reply. "I had received a letter from
Heidelberg that day, enclosing an order for a little money due to me,
and when I met this man I was considering how I could shape my duties
on the following one, so as to have time to go to London and get it
cashed."

"And did you go?"

"Yes, as soon as morning school was over. I told the doctor what my
errand was. When I left, they were searching the hall for the pencil."

This, if true, disposed of one part of Mr. Trace's suspicions. Miss
Brabazon thought how candid and upright he looked as he stood there
talking to her. "Should you know the man again, Mr. Henry?" she
suddenly asked.

"I might know his voice: I did not see much of his face. A youngish
man; thirty, or rather more. I thought he walked a little lame."

Miss Brabazon lifted her head with more quickness than the information
seemed to warrant. "Lame! _Lame?_"

"It struck me so."

She said no more. She sat looking out straight before her with a sort
of bewildered stare. Mr. Henry left her to return to the hall; but she
sat on, staring still and seeing nothing.



CHAPTER IX.

Christmas Day.

Some weeks elapsed. Things had blown over, and the Christmas holidays
were coming on. Wonders and calamities; and, in some degree,
suspicions; yield to the soothing hand of time. Talbot's accident was
almost forgotten; the lost pencil (never found) was not thought of so
much as it had been, and the gossip respecting it had ceased.

The bitterness had not lessened against George Paradyne. Gall could not
fathom its source. There was no cause for it, as far as he knew, except
that the boy had been placed at once at the first desk, and had entered
his name for the Orville prize; both of which facts were highly
presumptuous in a new scholar, and an outsider. It was also known that
he was in the habit of flying to Mrs. Butter's house for help in his
studies: the boys supposed that the German (as they derisively called
Mr. Henry) was paid for giving it: and many an ill-natured sneer was
levelled at them both.

"Are you going to coach Paradyne through the holidays?" asked Trace of
Mr. Henry, condescending to address him for once in a way: and be it
remarked that when Trace so far unbended, he did not forget his usual
civility. But Mr. Henry always detected the inward feeling.

"Trace," he said, every tone betraying earnest kindness, "you spend the
holidays at Sir Simon's, therefore I shall be within reach. Come to me,
and let me read with you: I know you are anxious to get the Orville.
Come every day; I will do my very best to push you on."

"You are a finished scholar?" observed Trace, cynically.

"As finished as any master in the college. When a young man knows (as I
did) that he has nothing else to trust to, he is wise to make use of
his opportunities. I believe also that I have a peculiar aptitude for
teaching. Come and try me."

"What would be your terms?"

"Nothing. I would do it for"—he laughed as he spoke—"love. Oh, Trace, I
wish you would let me help you! I wish I could get you to believe that
it would be one pleasure in my lonely life."

"What a hypocrite!" thought Trace: "I wonder what he's saying it for?
Thank you," he rejoined aloud, with distant coldness; "I shall not
require your assistance." And so the offer terminated; and Trace,
speaking of it to Loftus, said it was like the fellow's impudence to
make it.

One thing had been particularly noticeable throughout the term—that the
young German usher seemed to have a facility for healing breaches. In
ill-feelings, in quarrellings, in fightings, so sure was he to step in,
and not only stop the angry tongues, but soothe their owners down to
calmness. Rage, in his hands, became peace; mountains of evil melted
down to molehills; fierce recrimination gave place to hand-shaking. He
did all so quietly, so pleasantly, so patiently! and, but for the
under-current of feeling against him that was being always secretly
fanned, he would have been an immense favourite. Putting aside the
untoward events at its commencement, the term had been one of the most
satisfactory on record.

Loftus and his brother, Trace, James Talbot, and Irby were spending the
holidays at Pond Place. Sir Simon Orville generally had two of the
boys, besides his nephews. They had wanted Irby and Leek this time; but
Sir Simon chose to invite Talbot, and gave them their choice of the
other two. And it happened that Sir Simon, the day after their arrival,
overheard Trace and Loftus talking of sundry matters, and became
cognisant of the offer made to Trace by Mr. Henry.

"And you didn't accept it, Raymond?" he asked, plunging suddenly upon
the two in his flowery dressing-gown. "If I were going in for the
Orville competition, I shouldn't have sneezed at it. This comes of your
pride: you won't study with Paradyne."

"No, it does not, uncle," replied Trace; "though I should object to
study with Paradyne. It comes of my dislike to Mr. Henry."

"What is there to dislike in Mr. Henry?"

Trace hesitated, making no direct reply. Bertie Loftus moved away. Sir
Simon pressed his question.

Wisely or unwisely, Trace, in his ill-nature, forgot his ordinary
caution, his long-continued silence, and disclosed the suspicions
attaching to Mr. Henry in regard to the lost pencil. It was so
delightful a temptation to speak against him! Loftus came back during
the recital, and curled his lip in silent condemnation of Trace.

"Look here," said Sir Simon, wrathfully, "I'd rather suspect one of
you."

Loftus went away again without making any answer. Trace smiled very
grandly compassionate.

"You were always suspicious, Trace," continued Sir Simon; "it's in your
nature to be so, as it was in your poor mother's. He's a kindly, honest
gentleman, so far as I've seen of him. Steal a pencil, indeed! Who rose
the report? You?"

"There has not been any report," said Trace, with composure.

"Lamb saw him before the study window that night, and we wondered
whether he had come in and taken it. The doubt was hushed up, and has
died away."

"Not hushed up as far as you go, it seems. Raymond, I'd——"

Talbot and Dick Loftus came running in, and Sir Simon changed the
private bearings of the subject, for the more open one of Raymond's
pride, as he called it, in not accepting Mr. Henry's offer.

"Giving him two hours a day in the holidays!" exclaimed Talbot. "I wish
it had been made to me!"

"You do!" cried Sir Simon. "I suppose you hope to get the prize
yourself?"

"I shall try my best for it, sir," said the boy, laughing. "Seventy
pounds a year for three years! It would take me to Oxford; and there's
no other chance of my getting there."

Holidays for everybody but poor Mr. Henry! He was slaving on. He took
George Paradyne for two hours a day; he took another boy, one of the
outsiders, who was poor, friendless, and very backward; receiving
nothing for either; he gave Miss Rose Brabazon her daily lessons,
French one day, German the next, alternately; he went to Mrs. Gall's,
to drill three of her little boys, not out at school yet, in Latin and
Greek; and he worked hard at his translation, which translation was a
very difficult one to get on quickly with, necessitating continual
references to abstruse works; for Mr. Henry discovered numerous errors
in the original, and desired, in his conscientiousness, to set them
right in the English version.

He was at home one morning, a few days after the holidays began, buried
in his translation books, marking the faults in Miss Rose Brabazon's
last French dictation—and he believed nobody else could have made so
many—when Sir Simon Orville walked in. The sweet, kind, patient
expression in Mr. Henry's face had always struck him: very patient and
wearied did it look to-day. It was Christmas Eve.

"Hard at work? But this is holiday time, Mr. Henry."

Mr. Henry smiled and brightened up. "Some of us don't get the chance of
any holiday, Sir Simon," he cheerfully said, as if it were a good joke.

"Bad, that! All work and no play, you know but I'd better not enlarge
on that axiom," broke off Sir Simon, "since my errand here is to give
you more work. Of the boys whose names are down for the Orville, one
comes to you daily, I hear."

"Yes; Paradyne," replied Mr. Henry, feeling rather sensitive at
mentioning the name which must be so unwelcome to the brother of the
late Mrs. Trace.

"Ay, Paradyne. You made an offer to my nephew, Raymond Trace, to take
him also for the holidays, I hear. And he declined."

"I should have been so glad to be of service to him!" returned Mr.
Henry, his eyes lighting with the earnestness of the wish.

"The prejudiced young jackass!" explosively cried Sir Simon. "Well, the
loss is his. But now, I want you to make the same offer to another, one
who won't refuse it; and that's Talbot—Lord Shrewsbury, as they call
him. He's staying with me—you know it, perhaps—and he can come to you
daily. The boy has only his education to look to in life; he does not
possess a golden horde laid up in lavender to make ducks and drakes of
when he comes of age, as some of the rascals do; and through those
other two bright nephews of mine his studies were stopped for some four
or five weeks. Will you take him?"

"Yes, and gladly, Sir Simon. He—perhaps"—Mr. Henry paused and
hesitated—"will have no objection to study with young Paradyne?"

"He'd better not let me hear of it, if he has," retorted Sir Simon.
"Why should he? Paradyne and his people have not hurt _him_. No, no;
Talbot's another sort of fellow to that. And now, what shall we say
about terms? Don't be afraid of laying it on, Mr. Henry; it's my
treat."

"I could not charge," said Mr. Henry, interrupting the cheering laugh.
"Excuse me, Sir Simon; but I am not helping the boys for money. It
would scarcely be an honourable thing. I am well paid by Dr. Brabazon;
and any little assistance I can give them out of school is only their
due."

"But you are not paid to teach them Latin and Greek and mathematics.
You have the right to make the most of your holidays."

"I scarcely see that I have, so far as the college pupils are
concerned. Let Talbot come to me at once, Sir Simon; but please say no
more about payment. Robbing me of my time? No, indeed, not of a minute,
if he comes with Paradyne: their studies are the same. As to any little
trouble of my own, I would not think of accepting money for that. I am
too glad to give it."

Sir Simon nodded approvingly; he liked the generosity of the feeling,
and shook Mr. Henry's hand heartily as he went out.

"The cocked-up young Pharisee!" he soliloquized, apostrophizing the
unconscious Trace, and dashing an enormous gig umbrella, that he had
brought as a walking-stick, into the ground. "If ever there was an
honest, honourable, good spirit, it's his I have just left. Mr. Trace
and his uncharitable suspicions will get taken down some day, as sure
as he is living."

Turning into the college, he went straight on to the sitting-room,
where Miss Brabazon was, to all appearance, alone. Rose was behind the
curtain at the far end of the room, ostensibly learning her German, for
Mr. Henry would be due in ten minutes; really buried in a charming
fairy-tale book, lent to her by Jessie Gall. And her sister had
forgotten she was there.

"What is it that these rascally boys have picked up against that poor
young German master?" began Sir Simon, in his impulsive fashion. "Do
you know, Miss Emma?"

Emma Brabazon laid down the pretty baskets of flowers she was arranging
for the evening; for her married brothers and sisters and their
children were coming that day on their usual Christmas sojourn. But she
did not answer.

"Trace has been talking to me about the lost pencil," resumed Sir
Simon. "But _surely_ it is a slander to suspect him of having taken it.
Miss Emma, I'd lay my life he is as honest as I am; and he's a vast
deal more of a gentleman."

"It was very foolish of Trace to speak of it," she said. "Pray forget
it, Sir Simon. The thing has dropped."

"But did you suspect him? You must forgive me, my dear, for asking you
these questions; I intended to ask Dr. Brabazon, not you, but I find he
is out."

"And I am very glad he is, Sir Simon, for I have never told papa. There
were circumstances that seemed to throw a suspicion on Mr. Henry at the
time, but they were so doubtful that it was best not to speak of them;
and I desired Trace—who was the one to bring them under my notice—to
let them die away."

"Oh, Trace brought them to you, did he? But how do you mean they were
doubtful?"

"In so far as that Mr. Henry, if applied to, might have been able to
explain them all away. It would have been very cruel to bring
accusation against any one on grounds so slight."

"Just so. Well, my dear lady, I'd stake Pond Place against Mr. Raymond
Trace's prejudices, that the young man is as upright as he is—perhaps
more so. We poor sinners shan't be able to stand in Master Trace's
presence with our hats on soon; he must be going on for heaven
head-foremost, he must, with all this self-righteousness."

Emma Brabazon laughed, and followed Sir Simon out, talking. Upon which
Miss Rose emerged from her hiding-place to escape, her German book in
her hand, and the fairy tale stuffed up her frock.

"What did they mean?" debated the young lady, who had but imperfectly
understood. "If I could find out, I'd tell him. He is always kind to me
with my German, though I am so tiresome. I hate that Trace: he never
gives me anything; and he stole one of my letters out of Dick's drawer
the other day, and made game of it."

People called Sir Simon Orville an odd man. Mr. Raymond Trace in
particular could not understand him; there were moments when that young
gentleman deemed his respected uncle fit only for a lunatic asylum. He
had surely thought him so this morning, had he been behind him. For Sir
Simon, quitting Dr. Brabazon's, went on direct to Mrs. Paradyne's. It
was not the first visit he had paid her in her present residence.
Deprecating, as he did, the past frauds and crimes of which her husband
was guilty, he yet in his benevolent heart thought the poor widow as
much deserving of commiseration as were his own relatives; and he chose
to show her that he thought it. His errand was to invite her and George
to dinner on the next day, Christmas; that day of peace and goodwill to
men. Mrs. Paradyne at first declined; but Sir Simon was so heartily
pressing, there was no withstanding it, and she at length yielded. He
went home, chuckling at the surprise it would be to his nephews, for
they knew nothing of it, and he did not intend to tell them.

A surprise it proved. They went for a very long walk after morning
service on the following day, and had not been home many minutes when
the guests arrived. Trace stared with all his eyes: he thought he must
be dreaming. _Was_ that Mrs. Paradyne, coming into the room on the arm
of Sir Simon, or were his eyes deceiving him? He might be wrong: he had
not seen her indoors for many years. She wore a handsome silk gown, and
a cap of real lace; rather reserved and discontented in her manner, but
essentially a lady. George followed her in, and there could be doubt no
longer. George was free, merry, open, cordial, as it was in George
Paradyne's nature to be, and he went up to Trace with his hand
outstretched, wishing him heartily a merry Christmas. Trace turned
salmon-coloured: he would not see the hand; did not respond to it.
Bertie Loftus, as if to cover the marked rudeness, put his hand
cordially into George Paradyne's; and Trace would have annihilated
Bertie, could looks have done it.

"Is he mad?" groaned Trace in a side-whisper, alluding to his uncle.

Bertie laughed. "Let us drop old grievances for once, Ray. It's
Christmas Day."

"If my mother—who died here—could but rise from her grave and see
this!" retorted Trace. He went and stood at the window, looking out,
his bosom beating with its wrongs.

Dick leaped three feet into the air when he came in and saw the guests.
The more the merrier, was Dick's creed. It was that of Talbot and Irby.
And now that they met George Paradyne on equal grounds, away from the
prejudices of the school, they all saw how much there was to admire and
like in him—Trace excepted. Had George Paradyne suddenly cast his shell
as a chrysalis does, and appeared before them an angel, Trace, in his
condemning prejudice, would have turned his back upon him. It crossed
Trace's mind to refuse to sit down to table. But he feared Sir Simon:
it would not do to offend _him_.

It was at the dessert, when the banquet was nearing its close and Mrs.
Paradyne had drawn on her gloves, that Sir Simon told Talbot he was to
go and read daily with Paradyne at Mr. Henry's. Mr. Henry's kind offer,
he called it; and he spoke a few emphatic words of praise of the
hardworking usher. Apparently the theme was not palatable to Mrs.
Paradyne. She folded her gloved hands one over the other, said a word
or two in slighting disparagement of Mr. Henry, and then resolutely
closed her lips. Evidently she had not yet forgiven the mistake which
had brought them to Orville. George, as if reading her thoughts and
struck with their injustice, glanced reproachfully at her as he turned
to Sir Simon.

"Mr. Henry is very kind to me," said the boy: "he is kind to us all.
Nobody knows how good he is. He must be very lonely to-day. He was to
have dined with us."

Sir Simon gave a start. "I _wish_ I had asked him here! The thoughtless
savage I was! No more right feeling about me than if I'd never heard of
Christmas. I might as well have been born a Red Indian."

Mr. Henry was at home, eating his dinner alone. Not potatoes or
suet-pudding to-day: he had learned to keep Christmas in Germany, and
was lavish in its honour. As George—a great deal too open-speaking to
please his mother—said, he had been invited to Mrs. Paradyne's, but
when she arranged to go to Sir Simon's she sent an apology to Mr.
Henry. Mrs. Butter cooked him a fowl and made him a jam-pudding. He
went to church in the morning and stayed for the after-service. As he
sat over the fire after dinner, in the twilight of the evening, he
could not help feeling as if he were alone in the world—that there was
nobody to care for him. At the best, his life, in its social aspect,
was not a very happy one. He had a great deal of care always upon him,
and he saw no chance of its ever being removed; but he was learning to
live for a better world than this.

Miss Rose Brabazon had let her tongue run riot the previous day,
telling him something confidentially—he could not make out what. Rose's
own ideas were obscure upon the point, therefore it was too much to
expect they would be clear to him. The young lady thought that "Trace
and Emma and 'some of them' feared he might have been capable of taking
papa's diamond pencil-case, just as much as the real thief who came in
at the glass doors and stole it." It had startled Mr. Henry beyond
measure; _startled_ him, and thrown him into a mass of perplexity. The
impression conveyed to him was, not that he was suspected of taking the
pencil, but, that he might be capable of taking one. What reason could
they have for believing him capable of such a thing?

Later in the evening he strolled out in the cold starlight air. He felt
so very lonely, so isolated from all the world, that only to look at
the gay windows of other people was company. Every house, poor and
rich, seemed to be holding its Christmas party. Quite a flood of light
streamed from Mr. Gall's—from Dr. Brabazon's; all but himself were
keeping Christmas. There was neither envy nor rebellion in his heart.
His only thought was, "If they knew I was here alone, they would invite
me in." He pictured the inside gladness, and rejoiced in it as though
it were his own. "Peace on earth, and goodwill to men!" he murmured
gratefully over and over again.

The muslin curtains were before the dining-room windows at Dr.
Brabazon's, but not the shutters. It was a large party—all the children
and grandchildren. A smile crossed Mr. Henry's lips as he thought of
Miss Rose in her element. Save the admiration of the college boys,
there was nothing that young damsel liked so much as company. Mr. Henry
halted and looked across the lawn, and by so doing apparently disturbed
another watcher. A man turned round from the window, against which he
had been crouched, and came away.

"What do you want there?" exclaimed Mr. Henry, going forward to
confront him.

"Nothing to-night," was the ready answer; "I'll come another time."

All in a moment, Mr. Henry recognized the voice; recognized the
low-crowned hat, and the slightly lame step. He placed himself in the
intruder's way.

"I saw you here once before, at the back of the house then: you were
looking for the entrance, you said, to deliver a letter. Did you—did
you enter the house that night and take anything?"

"No; _you_ did."

The cool and positive assertion nearly took away Mr. Henry's presence
of mind. He had spoken upon impulse. He was quite uncertain what he
ought to do in the emergency, whether anything or not. Meanwhile the
stranger was walking quietly away, and Mr. Henry did nothing.

The following day he met Miss Brabazon with some of her relatives and a
whole troop of children. She was a little behind the rest, hastening to
catch them up.

"Will you allow me to speak to you for one moment, Miss Brabazon?"

"Well," she answered, rather impatiently, as if it were a trouble to
remain. It cannot be denied that she had at times treated him with
scant courtesy since the suspicion of him instilled into her mind by
Trace.

He told her what he had seen; that he recognised the voice to be the
same; recognised the man and his lameness. Miss Brabazon's face grew
white.

"He was looking in at us, you say?"

"Undoubtedly."

"Are you coming, Emma? What are you about?" called out the party in
front, who had turned and halted. "John will miss the train."

"Mr. Henry, oblige me in one thing," she hurriedly said; "_don't speak
of this_. I may trust you?"

"Indeed you may," he answered. "You may doubt me, Miss Brabazon; you
have perhaps only too good cause to doubt me; but you may at least rely
upon me in this."

Emma Brabazon ran on, the curious words ringing their echo on her ears.



CHAPTER X.

A Man in a Blaze.

The winter holidays soon passed, and the boys came back to college
again. "No pistols this time, I hope, Mr. Loftus," was the Head
Master's greeting to that gentleman, and it called a mortified
expression into the handsome face. Loftus's whiskers were growing, and
he had taken to wear a ring in private. Trace smiled pityingly; Dick
made fun of both appendages; but their owner knew not which of the two
to admire most.

The routine of school set in, and the boys were busy; some few studying
hard, chiefly those who were to go up for the Oxford examination in
June; others going in for idleness, mischief, and sport; playing
football, snow-balling, making presents and writing love-letters to
Miss Rose. All the candidates for the Orville prize were going up for
the Oxford examination; it was essential they should pass that, or else
withdraw from the competition for the Orville.

But none, whether boys or masters, worked on so patiently and
persistently as Mr. Henry, for none had so much to do. His private
assistance to Talbot terminated with the holidays; but not so that to
George Paradyne. Trace was outrageously angry at the latter fact, and
spoke his mind: as Paradyne was going in for the Orville prize, it was
_disgraceful_ to give him an advantage that the others did not get.
Trace's opinion carried the school with it: Paradyne was shunned worse
than before, and resentment prevailed against the German master.

"You have only to come to me," Mr. Henry reiterated to them; "I can
read with a dozen of you just as well as I can with one. I have no wish
surreptitiously to get Paradyne on; I would a great deal rather that
you should all keep together, and enjoy the same advantages, one as the
other; but if you will not come to me, and he does, the blame rests
with you."

"Such a thing as coaching a fellow for the Orville prize was never
heard of before, you know," retorted Brown major.

"I am not coaching him for the Orville prize. I am not coaching him at
all, for the matter of that. He reads the classics with me, and I
explain away his difficulties in mathematics. It is preparatory to the
Oxford examination, not the Orville."

"The one implies the other," said the angry boys. And they spurned the
assistance for themselves; which, metaphorically speaking, was like
cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Talbot would have liked
to continue, but could not fly in the teeth of popular prejudice.

"Perhaps I'd better give it up," said George Paradyne one day, throwing
himself back in his chair at Mr. Henry's.

"Give what up?"

"Everything. What with the life at college and the life at home, I'm
ready to—to—pitch the whole overboard," concluded Mr. George, having
hesitated for an expression sufficiently strong to denote his feelings.

"You have only to bear up bravely against the one; you'll live it down
in time——"

"Rather a prolonged time, it seems," put in George, who was quite
unlike his own light-hearted self to-day.

"And for the other," continued Mr. Henry, ignoring the interruption,
"you should bear it cheerfully, for you know it is born of love for
you."

"Ah, but you can't _imagine_ what it is," said the boy, leaning
forward, his wide-open bright grey eyes full of eagerness. "It has been
worse since we dined at Sir Simon's; that called up to mamma all the
old forfeited prosperity. The grumbling never ceases; the lamentation's
dreadful. We can't make ourselves rich, if we are not rich, so where's
the use of groaning over it? It drives me wild."

"Hush, George."

"But I can't hush. Mamma is so ungrateful. There's poor Mary slaving in
that school, never coming up for the holidays; and here's——"

"George, I'll not hear this. Your mother's trials are very great."

"There's an awful bother about the Christmas bills," went on George,
paying slight attention to the reproof. "I wish you'd come down and
talk with her."

"I! My talking might do more harm than good."

"You might try to smooth things a little—get her to look at troubles in
a different light. Won't you? I can tell you it is miserable for me."

"Well, I'll see. Go on with your Greek now."

Mr. Henry, ever ready to do good where it was to be done—to throw oil
on troubled waters—went down that evening to Mrs. Paradyne's. His
interference was not received graciously. Mrs. Paradyne invited him to
an opposite chair, and talked at him from the sofa.

"I _should_ like to know what business it is of Mr. Henry's," she
exclaimed, her cold resentful manner in full play. And of course he
could not reply that it was any business of his; but he spoke of the
trouble it was causing that fine boy, George; he spoke a little of the
sad past, he spoke cheerily of a future that should be brighter. Mrs.
Paradyne was often in a grumbling mood, but never in a worse than that
evening.

"I can't pay the Christmas bills. The money prepared for them I have
had to encroach upon for other things. A new silk gown I was obliged to
have; I can't go like an alms-woman. Never before did I have Christmas
bills; I paid as I went on; but the cost of things in this place is
frightful. I did not want money embarrassment added to my other
troubles. It is all through our having come up here."

Mr. Henry winced at the last reproach, too evidently directed to him.
"I did it for the best," he gently said. "I was anxious that George
should get on."

Mrs. Paradyne lifted her delicate hands with deprecation, and went on
with her complaints. They were wearying and painful, even to him; what,
then, must they be to the high-spirited and generous boy who was
exposed to them always? But Mr. Henry contrived to accomplish his
mission, and he left a feeling of peace behind him when he quitted the
house.

He had plenty of work on his hands yet that night, and ran all the way
home. Dashing into Mrs. Butter's kitchen for a light, a quicker mode
than ringing for that esteemed and rather slow landlady to bring it, he
dashed against a man who was seated on the kitchen table by fire-light,
his legs swaying. No need to wait for recognition this time; it was the
young man he had twice seen near the college.

"Well?" said the latter, with cool equanimity; "there's room to pass
without knocking me over."

"Who are you?" exclaimed Mr. Henry; "are you waiting to see Mrs.
Butter?"

"I have seen her—cross-grained old thing! Her temper does not improve
with years."

Before anything more passed, or Mr. Henry had in the least formed an
idea as to the aspect of affairs, Mrs. Butter came in with Miss
Brabazon. The latter had a shawl over her head, and burst out crying as
she spoke to the stranger. "Oh, Tom, why have you come here?"

"Can I be of any assistance to you, Miss Brabazon?" whispered Mr.
Henry, partially comprehending the mystery. "Will you make use of my
sitting-room?"

"Thank you. It is my brother!"

Yes, it was her brother,—the great incubus on Dr. Brabazon's life. In
spite of all that had been done to reclaim him; in defiance of
education, position, training, Tom Brabazon had turned out a black
sheep amidst the doctor's white flock. Dr. Brabazon had paid and paid
until he could pay no more; Emma Brabazon never awoke to morning light
but a dread crossed her mind of what trouble in regard to him the day
might bring forth. It was not only debt; he had done worse things than
spend; he had been in prison for three months, and worn the felon's
dress, and had his hair cut close; he had been forbidden his father's
house; he dared not show himself there or elsewhere in the broad light
of day. Mrs. Butter, faithful to the family, knew about it, and she
said a word or two of explanation to Mr. Henry as he sat on the other
side of her fireplace, while the brother and sister were in his
parlour.

"He wants to stay here," she resentfully cried, giving her fire a
fierce stir, as if she were stirring up the delinquent. "He is obliged
to be in hiding again; and he avows it with all the brass in the world.
I'd not have gone to Miss Emma with my own will, but he made me. Ah!
the aching heart that she and my poor master have had with him, that
ill-doing Tom!"

Emma came in, her eyes inflamed. "You must let him be in that upper
room for a day or two; there's no help for it," she said to Mrs.
Butter. "And he must have a bit of supper to-night. I'm going back now,
or papa may find out my absence. Of course—you know—his being here must
be kept a secret."

"I know, Miss Emma," was the wrathful answer; made doubly wrathful
because the gentleman had entered. "He up and told me that the first
thing."

"Hold your tongue, Mother Butter," cried Tom Brabazon, laughing as if
he had not a care in life. "You have been in scrapes yourself before
this, I'll lay. Mind you make me a plum-pudding to-morrow; I've not
tasted a piece of one yet. Perhaps you'll introduce this gentleman to
me, Emma."

And she obeyed mechanically. In the blow the night had brought, she
felt utterly bewildered. "My unfortunate brother, Thomas Brabazon; Mr.
Henry."

Mr. Henry acknowledged the introduction slightly; and took up his hat
to walk home with Miss Brabazon. She begged him not to take the
trouble, but he quietly insisted, and they went out together.

"Is this the same that you have seen near the college?" she asked, as
they went along.

"It is."

"Ah, yes; I only inquired to see if you remembered him. He denies, most
positively, having entered the study that night; and when I spoke of
the pencil, he apparently did not know what I meant. He had written a
letter to papa, asking for some trifling temporary assistance,
intending to send it in and wait for the answer. But he saw the front
sitting-rooms were in darkness, and went round, fearing we were out, to
see if the back ones were. That is what he says. We were out, you know,
as the want of light showed him, and he returned to London, and was
arrested before he could come again. When I mentioned the pencil, he
asked whether I thought he had become worse than a common thief to
touch _that_. I don't think he took it."

"But why have used an evasion to me—that he was looking for the
entrance to the college?" returned Mr. Henry.

"He fears an enemy in every person he meets, and I suppose wished to
pass himself off as a stranger. Mr. Henry, I must rely on you not to
betray his sojourn at your house."

"Betray him! You little know me. Anything in the world I can do for
him, or for you, or for Dr. Brabazon, in this painful emergency, I
shall only be too happy to do, faithfully and truly."

"You see now," she said, with a faint smile, "that we have too much
trouble of our own to be severe upon others. Every bit of secret pride
has been taken out of us, and papa's hair is grey before its time. He
is the eldest son."

"The eldest son?"

"Yes, the oldest of us all. He went wrong first of all at Oxford, and
instead of retrieving his position, or allowing it to be retrieved for
him, as others do who get into debt there, he went on from bad to
worse. Good night, Mr. Henry."

She hung her shawl up in the inner hall, smoothed her hair, and went in
as if nothing unusual had happened. Mr. Jebb was sitting with Dr.
Brabazon; they were in an animated discussion about some popular
question of the day, and her absence had passed unnoticed. Miss Rose
had disappeared. Miss Rose, finding the coast clear, had taken the
opportunity to visit her treasure drawer upstairs. It contained
presents and love-letters; the one of about as much real value as the
other; but the young lady coveted both. Some fresh parcels had just
arrived to be added to the collection: we may as well look over her
while she examines them. And I beg to state, for the benefit of society
in general, that the letters are but copies of genuine originals.

"Dear Miss Rose,—I hope you will accept of the enclosed trifle. With my
best love, believe me yours ever affectionately,

"Dick L."

Which stood for Dick Loftus. The enclosed trifle was a thin paper
scent-case, pretty to the eye and sweet to the nose. Rose gave a few
sniffs, and flung it into the drawer to take up another.

"My dearest Miss Rose,—Will you oblige me by trying the accompanying?
That blue bonnet you wore on Sunday was charming. Ever yours, C.
Brown."

Meaning Brown minor. A packet of barley-sugar came with this, and Miss
Rose began upon it greedily. Then she turned to the third.

"Ever dear Rose,—I take this favourable opertunity of writeing to you,
Our desk got in a row this morning and I can't go out to buy that
broche I told you of, If Stiggings buys it you fling it in his face, I
send you a few rasons if you'll except of them, We are going to have a
joly lark this week with Mother Butter, Your affectionate lover, Alfred
Jones."

Mr. Alfred Jones was a gentleman of Miss Rose's own age, thirteen. She
put as many raisins into her mouth as it would conveniently hold, and
went on again.

"Beloved Miss Rose,—_Would_ you wear the accompanied box for my sake, I
mean its contents, which Jones minor (that wretched little muff in the
fifth form, you know) said he should buy for you, the impudense of the
youngster. I expect some jam to-morrow and shall send you a pot. Ever
your devoted and respectful admirer, W. Stiggings. P.S.—I hope you have
less bother now with those beastly lessons. Miss Brabazon's a tyrent."

The box contained a very smart brooch, for which W. Stiggins, who was a
year older than Jones minor, had given ninepence. Miss Rose stuck it
into her dress and figured off before the glass, eating alternately the
raisins and the barley-sugar. Emma had not called her down, or come to
see after her, so she thought she might write her acknowledgments, and
got out a pencil and some delicate miniature note-paper, straw-coloured
and notched round the edge.

"Dear Mr. Loftus,—Thank you for the scent-paper, it's very delicious,
but not so nice as that almond-rock you sent me. I've no more time, for
fear Emma should come up. Ever yours, Rose B. P.S.I saw you all riding
that donkey on the common, why didn't you look up? I was with Jessie
Gall and their governess."

This accomplished, she went on to the next, taking them in rotation.

"Dear Mr. Brown,—The barley-sugar's first-rate; I've eaten it nearly
all. It's a love of a bonnet. I wanted Emma to let me have a blue
mantle like it, and she went and bought a black! Ever yours, Rose B.
P.S.—Please excuse the smuge; an old raisen out of my drawer got
crushed on it."



And the next was to Jones minor.

"Dear Mr. Jones,—I'm very sorry about the brooch; perhaps you could get
me something else. Don't you ever speak to Stiggins—I shouldn't. The
raisens are gritty; perhaps you droped them. Do pay out that Mother
Butter. She told Emma the other day I was a little minx. Couldn't you
steal her cat? So no more at present from yours ever, Rose B. P.S.—You
ought to do some dictation."



And then came the last.

"Dear Mr. Stiggins,—The brooch is beautiful; I've got it in my frock
now, but daredn't go down in it for fear of Emma. I wonder you could
ever mention Jones minor to me. Why do you speak to him? I don't. I
like jam, apricot especially. The lessons are worse than ever, and I
wish German was buried. Emma's going to have me put into linear
drawing, or some such horrid name, so I mean to break all the pencils.
Ever yours, Rose B. P.S.—I'd tell you of something I heard from Jessie
Gall, only I'm afraid Emma will be up."

These various missives were directed to the gentlemen, each of them
receiving the title of "esquire," and Miss Rose locked up her
treasures, the brooch included. A little cousin of hers who was in the
junior class, and ran in at will, was made the messenger on either
side; otherwise the young men might have found it difficult to convey
their offerings to the shrine.

A few days passed. One dark evening Mrs. Butter was in her kitchen,
making toast for her not very welcome lodger-guest, who had descended
from his room of concealment to talk to her and enjoy the warmth, when
there came a sudden and imperious knocking at the casement. Down went
the toasting-fork, and Tom Brabazon sprang from the fire into a dark
corner.

"Not there, Mr. Tom," she whispered. "Better go upstairs again; it's
safest."

One fear only was in the mind of both of them—that this peremptory
summons must mean mischief to the fugitive hiding from the law. Mrs.
Butter, when he had escaped, drew the heavy red curtain from before the
window, and looked out. She expected to see some officers of justice
there, or something as formidable; her heart rose to her month; he
_was_ her old master's son, with all his faults and sins, and she would
have shielded him with her life.

"Don't open the door on any account," softly cried Tom Brabazon, from
the stairs.

Between the light inside and the darkness out, combined with her own
flurry, Mrs. Butter could see absolutely nothing. A form in a hat, as
of a short, stout man, at last made itself dimly visible to her, but he
seemed to be standing with his back to the window; at least, she could
discern no features.

"What do you please to want, sir?" she called out, deeming it well to
be civil.

Instead of making any answer, the glass was rapped at again, more
peremptorily than before. Mrs. Butter drew the easement open; it had
upright iron bars on the outside, so there was no danger that any
Philistine, above the size of a thin rabbit, could make his way in.

"What is it?" she asked.

But still the man never spoke; and now that her eyes were getting
accustomed to the darkness, she saw that he had no face, or if he had a
face, it was enveloped and hidden from view. A disagreeable feeling, as
of some vague fear, stole over her.

"What is it, sir, I ask? Won't you please to say what you want?"

All in a moment, without warning, the man burst into a blaze. Blazed up
as if he had been coated with pitch or stuffed with gunpowder, and had
suddenly caught fire. Mrs. Butter, nearly beside herself with terror,
darted back from the window, uttering scream upon scream.

For some little time all was confusion. Mr. Henry, and Tom Brabazon,
the one brought from his room by the cries and the light, the other
forgetting his needful privacy in the interests of humanity, rushed out
of doors, each with a bucket of water. But the burning man, who
appeared to have arrived on an iron barrow, was suddenly wheeled to a
safe spot off the premises, and a set of gleeful savages were dancing
and shouting round him, while he blazed away. Tom Brabazon stole
indoors again.

Need you be told that this was the work of the college boys? It was the
"jolly lark" hinted at by Jones minor to Miss Rose. They had made a
straw figure, introducing a modicum of gunpowder, and fired it before
Madam Butter's eyes for her especial edification.

Dancing, howling, shouting, the boys did not see the approach of Mr.
Baker until that gentleman was close upon them. He had happened to be
passing within view, and ran up in terror. They took flight then; and
indeed there was nothing to wait for, for the figure had nearly emitted
his last spark. Mr. Baker, rather in fear still, perplexed, and
outrageously angry, threw out his arms in the dark, but only succeeded
in grasping one: the rest eluded him. That one was George Paradyne.
Mrs. Butter, in a state of fury, came out with her tale.

"I'll cane _you_ at all events," said Mr. Baker to his captive. "Come
with me."

"I have not done anything," said George. "I don't know now what has
happened."

"I'll teach you, you vagabond, what has happened," stuttered Mr. Baker,
still further exasperated by the assumption of ignorance, which he
entirely disbelieved. "Come along."

He marshalled George Paradyne away to the hall, holding his jacket
collar. Every boy had got back before them. About twenty were in the
fray, and Mr. Baker had not distinguished one. They were seated
sedately at their evening lessons now, in common with the rest, and not
to be distinguished. The angry master got out his cane.

"One single moment, Mr. Baker, before you strike me," said George
Paradyne. "I _declare_ that I was not in this. I knew nothing of it: I
was going to Mr. Henry's for my usual reading when I came upon the
blaze. Surely they will tell you I was not in it! They never do let me
join in anything."

Mr. Baker paused, cane in air. George Paradyne had certainly been
amidst the throng: he did not believe that he was not joining in the
mischief.

"I was not in it, indeed, sir: I had but run up when you came. I was
asking what it was."

"Who was in it, if you were not?" asked Mr. Baker. "You saw."

"I saw some of them."

"Tell me who they were. I shall cane you if you don't."

George looked round on the boys, as if to say, "Will none of you
exculpate me?" They dropped their eyes on their books, and made no
response.

"I shall cane you, Paradyne, if you don't tell."

"I can't help it, sir. I will not tell."

He took his punishment, a very severe one. Pulling his jacket on his
stiff and aching arms, when it was over, he once more looked at the lot
as he went out. And the boys, in their heart of hearts, felt that
George Paradyne, the despised, was made of nobler stuff than they were.



CHAPTER XI.

Only the Heat!

In one of the houses in Prospect Terrace there sat a family at early
breakfast. A nice family; the growing up sons and daughters loving and
obedient, the father and mother anxiously training them to good. It was
the Talbots. They had quitted their close residence in Pimlico, and
taken this in the healthy country district; having moved in at the
recent quarter. Mr. Talbot was a tall, spare man, rather absorbed in
cares; Mrs. Talbot a pleasant woman with a countenance and demeanour
serenely cheerful, imparting in some way an idea of peace. James, known
to you as Earl of Shrewsbury, was the eldest son. He was at the
breakfast table now, for this was the last day of the Easter holidays,
which he had been spending at home.

Yes, time had gone on at Orville, as it goes on with us all. April was
in, and the Easter holidays were now at an end. There was nothing much
to tell of the last term, no particular event to record. Mrs. Butter
overcame her fright in time, but not her anger; Tom Brabazon
disappeared again; the German master was patiently working; and George
Paradyne was battling with the school enmity, and bearing on his own
way in spite of circumstances. He would have done it less gallantly but
for the ever-constant, daily counsels of Mr. Henry. Over and over
again, but for that, the boy would have broken down, for the battle
against him waxed fierce and strong. The step taken by Sir Simon
Orville, in inviting Mrs. Paradyne and George to dinner on Christmas
Day, meant to be a healer of strife, turned out just the reverse.
Trace, powerless to rebel against it, concentrated his indignation
within him at the time, to let it loose on the head of the unhappy boy
later. Not in a violent way, not in any manner that could be taken hold
of: he was civil to Paradyne's face; but he so worked craftily on
others, that a regular cabal set in against George Paradyne. Mr. Henry,
so to say, bore the brunt for him. He soothed the insults, he talked
the boy's resentful spirit into peace, he cheered him bravely on, he
encouraged him to persevere and be patient. The Talbots were speaking
of this enmity as they sat at breakfast. James suddenly interposed with
a question to his father.

"Papa, shall you not be late?"

Mr. Talbot glanced at his watch and smiled. The idea of his son's
giving him a caution on the score; he, the most strictly punctual clerk
the bank possessed. "It's odd how a feeling of dislike does arise in
schools against a particular boy," he observed. "It was so in the
school I went to, I remember. There's sure to be good cause for it.
These instincts are generally to be trusted."

"Papa, what do you call instinct?"

"What do I call instinct?" repeated Mr. Talbot. "I should have thought
you were old enough, James, to know what instinct meant, without my
telling you."

James laughed. "Because I think in this case our instinct is _for_
Paradyne, instead of against him. I know mine is."

"Then why is he disliked?"

"Well, I don't know. There is something not square, I believe, known to
a few of the seniors only. The feeling against him is very strong."

Mr. Talbot rose, and put his watch in his pocket. He always breakfasted
with it on the table. "I don't understand it at all," he said; "but I
must be going now."

James went to the front door and opened it. Now that he had risen, you
could see James Talbot's height. He was already nearly six feet, almost
the tallest in the school. The boys were wont to say that the shots had
made his legs grow. Mr. Talbot walked away quickly, and a boy, wearing
the college cap, came up and accosted James at the door. At the same
moment Mrs. Talbot came out in a commotion.

"Oh, James, my letter! Papa was to have posted it in town. Run and give
it to him."

"Allow me," said the stranger, raising his trencher to Mrs. Talbot, and
taking the letter from her hand. She looked at him, and was struck with
the fine character of the attractive countenance—the open candour of
the large grey eyes.

"That's Paradyne," whispered James, watching him as he caught Mr.
Talbot.

"_That_ Paradyne! Then I am sure—"

But he had accomplished his mission, and was coming back again,
laughing at the haste he had made. "Mr. Talbot bade me say he did not
know there was any letter to take," he observed to Mrs. Talbot.

"No, I forgot to tell him. Thank you very much."

He lifted his cap to her again as he walked away, and she went in with
the earl.

"James," said Mrs. Talbot to her son, "you tell me that the school has
a prejudice against that boy?"

"Indeed it has. Something more than a prejudice. We are all against
him."

"And you motive—your reason, I should say?"

"I really don't know. The prejudice is there, and we all share in it,
and that's all."

"Oh, James! is it right?"

"Perhaps not. I have thought it not quite the thing all along; but one
must go with the stream. They are very poor, those Paradynes. Don't
look angry, mamma; I am not speaking it as a reproach."

"I hope not. I think a son of mine would scarcely do so. They cannot
well be poorer than we are."

"Yes, they are, a great deal. It is our education that keeps papa
poor—mine especially. I shall try to repay you for it some day, mother
mine. A vision comes over me now and again of gaining the Orville. I
should get to college then and all would be easy."

"You vain boy. The Orville will be for some one of your seniors, sir."

Talbot laughed. "Yes, I fear it is but a vision of dreamland. But oh,
mother,"—and his tone changed to solemn earnest,—"what a boon it would
be!"

"Tell me why you dislike George Paradyne," resumed Mrs. Talbot,
breaking the slight pause.

"I don't dislike, him. I like him in spite of all. One can't help
admiring him for his spirit; he throws off all our shafts so bravely.
He is one of the most generous, open fellows possible. I see you don't
understand, and I don't understand it myself. Few of us do. There's an
awful feeling about his going in for the Orville."

Mrs. Talbot gave it up as a bad job, and opened the book for the ten
minutes' reading to the children, never omitted in the house.

The Talbots had made some acquaintance in the place, and Mrs. Talbot
questioned Mrs. Gall and one or two more, what the dislike of George
Paradyne arose from. She felt more interested on the subject than she
could account for. But none were able to answer her. Mrs. Gall had
herself put the same query to her son, and nothing satisfactory came of
it.

As the term went on, the uncomfortable feeling in the school grew,
greater and greater. But there was little time for anything but study,
for the Oxford examination was approaching fast.

One hot Saturday afternoon, when the College had holiday, Mr. Henry
went to the railway station to inquire after an expected parcel of
books. Saturday afternoon was no holiday for him. He had three private
lessons to give in it. As he left the station, walking very fast to
keep his time at Mrs. Gall's, a sharp, sudden pain seized upon him. He
was leaning against the fence of the plantation, white and faint, when
Sir Simon Orville passed.

"Why, bless me, what's to do?" exclaimed that hearty gentleman. "Have
you been run over?"

Mr. Henry smiled: his colour was coming back again. He said something
about a sudden pain.

"Been eating green gooseberries?" asked the unsophisticated man. "I
caught young Dick buying a quart. He's crunching the lot."

"It took me here," said Mr. Henry, touching his left side. "It's gone
now."

"Why, that's near the heart; it couldn't have been there, I should
think," said Sir Simon, peering at him curiously. "Well, we are close
at home; come in to Pond Place and rest.

"Thank you, Sir Simon; I am all right now. I must go on quickly to my
pupils."

"I'll tell you what it is, sir; you are overworking yourself. That's my
opinion."

"Oh, no. Folks can't do too much at my age."

"That depends upon the amount of strength: I could have plodded on
night and day; you seem to get more of a lath than ever. What's the
reason you never will accept my hospitality? Got any dislike to
me?—taken up a prejudice? I know I'm a plain man, without education;
but you might put up with that."

"If I could only show you how I respect you, Sir Simon; if I could but
live to be of service to you!" was the impulsive answer. "But, indeed,
I can never get time for visiting: the little Galls are waiting for me
now."

And away he went through the plantation, leaving Sir Simon considerably
puzzled, as he had been before, at the earnestness of the words and
manner; for they seemed to imply more than was on the surface. That
afternoon, in the very midst of explaining to Master Fred Gall an
abstruse difficulty in the Latin grammar, Mr. Henry leaned back in his
chair and quietly fainted away. With a hullabaloo that might have been
heard at the distant college, the children threw open the door and
scattered away, pell-mell.

The noise brought forth Mrs. Gall and her eldest son; who had stepped
in at home, as he had the liberty to do on holidays. They took off his
neckcloth and brought him wine, and were very tender with him.

"Do forgive me," he murmured, in deep contrition for the trouble he was
causing. "The heat must have overpowered me; I have been walking fast."

Mrs. Gall would not hear of his continuing the lesson. She made him lie
on the sofa and rest. She and her children had grown to like him very
much; which the senior boy, in his prejudice, silently shrugged his
shoulders at. But there was something about him this afternoon, in his
transitory helplessness, his gratitude for the care shown, that
appealed to William Gall's better feelings and half won his heart. Mr.
Henry could not rest long; he had a German lesson to give at five
o'clock, and must go home first for the necessary books. When he went
out, Gall went with him, and offered his arm.

"You will walk all the better for it, Mr. Henry. Years back I used to
have fainting-fits myself, and know how they take the strength away."

Mr. Henry accepted it, and they walked on together. He had always liked
Gall: never a better head and heart _au fond_ than his. Leaning too
readily, perhaps, to the prejudices of the school he partially swayed;
but Mr. Henry allowed for that: others might have done it more
offensively. Gall had never taken an active part in the cabal against
young Paradyne, or in the contempt lavished on the German master; but
he had tacitly acquiesced in it.

Some of the boys happened to be in the quadrangle; and, to describe the
commotion when Gall passed arm-in-arm with the enemy—as Trace was in
the private habit of calling Mr. Henry—would be beyond any pen. Gall,
thoroughly independent always, vouchsafed a cool nod to the sea of
astonished faces, and continued his way. If anything could have daunted
him, it was the supercilious contempt on Bertie Loftus's handsome face:
anything that Gall did was sure to excite that, for there was no good
feeling between them. Bertie would have done the same thing himself for
Mr. Henry, or for any one else in case of need; but he lost sight of
that in his prejudice against Gall. Mr. Henry called for some coffee on
going in: coffee was his panacea for most ailments.

"You'll stay and take a cup with me," he said cordially, to Gall. "I
feel quite well now. It must have been the heat."

Mrs. Butter brought the coffee and some bread-and-butter, and the two
chatted together. Gall had never seen so much of Mr. Henry in all the
past months as in this one hour, and he felt ashamed for having turned
the cold shoulder on him.

"I hope I shall see more of you, Mr. Henry, than I have seen hitherto,"
he said, when he was shaking hands to leave. "Is there nothing I can do
for you? If there is, tell me. I hope you'll not have a renewal of
this."

"Thank you," replied Mr. Henry, looking straight at him with his
pleasant eyes. "I wish I could get you to alter one thing—the
persecution of young Paradyne."

"Well, it is too bad," observed Gall. "But I can't make the school like
Paradyne if they dislike him."

"Can you tell me _why_ they dislike him?" pointedly asked Mr. Henry:
for times and again it had struck him that the particulars of the
Liverpool business must have been privately circulated by Trace or
Loftus.

"No, that I can't," frankly answered Gall. "I have heard Trace hint at
some reason for dislike, but he never said what. Miss Brabazon asked me
about it once, but I did not learn anything. I think they are vexed
that he, a new fellow, should have his name down for the Orville
Exhibition."

"That should not cause them to persecute him."

"True. But, you see, when once a prejudice arises, it is not easy to
allay it."

"Did it ever occur to you to realize Paradyne's position to your own
mind?" asked Mr. Henry, "He is clever, generous, noble, forbearing;
wishing to live in amity with all; and yet he is subjected to this
cruel persecution: and for no cause that I can find out. Think it over,
Mr. Gall, at your leisure; and now goodbye, and thank you for your
company."

Mr. Henry sat back in his chair, listening to the senior boy's
departing footsteps. There were times when he felt utterly depressed,
as if every bit of spirit and energy had gone out of him. He was in a
false position at Orville College, and he knew it. Since the first day
of his entrance he had been fighting a battle with conscience; this of
itself, with his sensitive mind, was enough to wear him out; it needed
not his hard work added to it.

"I can't keep it up," he said to himself, as he rose, caught up some
books, and went out to give his lesson. "And it is not right I should.
Once the Oxford examination's over, the end shall come; and then, if I
have to leave the college, why, I must leave it. I'd rather be back at
Heidelberg."

Meanwhile Gall was walking slowly away, and "thinking over" the matter
in regard to Paradyne: not because Mr. Henry had desired him to do it,
but on his own score. Gall's was a just nature; he felt vexed with
himself for the past; angry with the school in general.

It was not an opportune moment for Loftus to meet him, with his
supercilious face, his still more supercilious words. In the middle of
the grass, near the gymnasium-ground, they encountered each other. The
under-current of enmity between these two was of long-standing, and
Gall at least had inwardly and bitterly resented it. What Loftus said
was never precisely known; some stinging taunt, reflecting on the "new
friendship," meaning little, perhaps; but the other was not in a mood
to bear it. The next moment, Gall had knocked him down.

He lay sprawling, the distinguished Loftus, his golden curls in contact
with the base earth, his handsome nose bleeding with the blow. Gall
stood erect, with compressed lips; the wondering boys were flocking up,
and Mother Butter's dog stood by, barking fiercely, as if it were a
raree-show.

Loftus rose. Whether he would have struck again was a question; he was
not deficient in personal bravery, rather the contrary, but these
elegant dandies rarely go in for blows. No opportunity was given one
way or the other, for Mr. Henry, hastening up, stepped between them.

"Move away," said Loftus to him. "What business is it of yours?"

"The business of authority," was Mr. Henry's answer, delivered with
calm decision. "So long as I hold the position of master here, I shall
act as such when need arises. Gentlemen,"—and he looked at both
equally—"there must be no more of this."

"You need not be alarmed on your friend's behalf," said Loftus, with an
ugly stress on the word "friend." "You, Gall,"—and he turned to
him—"shall answer to me for this, later."

They moved away in different directions, Gall one road, Loftus another,
Mr. Henry a third; and the astonished boys stood, looking after them
with a vacant stare, hardly able to believe that the transitory scene
had been real.



CHAPTER XII.

In the Shop in Oxford Street.

Miss Brabazon was walking through Oxford Street on that memorable
afternoon, taking her time, as befitted the heat of the day, and
looking into the shop windows; which, truth to say, bore attraction for
her, as they do for most persons who see them rarely.

"I daresay I could get it here," she thought, halting at a jeweller's
shop and finally entering it. A double shop with two separate doors,
but Miss Brabazon did not observe that. She had broken the key of her
watch and wanted a new one, but wished it of a particular pattern. A
middle-aged, pleasant-looking man came forward, whom she took to be the
master. Yes, he had keys of the shape she described, he said, and
reached out a tray.

While he was fitting the key to the watch, Miss Brabazon's eyes went
roaming (naturally) amidst the many attractive articles of plate and
jewelry. They alighted on a gold pencil with a diamond set in the top.
Except that the stone was considerably smaller, it was very much like
the one lost from the college.

"That is a beautiful pencil!" she exclaimed.

"Very, ma'am. The diamond makes it also a valuable one."

"Is it not very unusual to see a diamond set in a pencil-case?"

"Rather so," he replied. "I have made them to order before now. We have
a better one than that, but it's not for sale. Not yet, at least. It is
one of our pledges in the other shop; was left with us some months
back."

"Do you mean it was—pawned?" she asked, bringing out the word gingerly,
as ladies in general do.

"Yes, ma'am."

"But—is this a pawnbroker's?" she hastily asked.

"The other shop is, ma'am."

A thousand thoughts came crowding over her; a suspicion arose, almost
amounting to an instinct, that it was the pencil they had lost. "When
was it left with you, do you say?" she inquired.

"Some time last autumn; either in September or October."

"I wish you would let me see it," she exclaimed.

"It is quite against all rule, ma'am, to show our pledged goods," was
the reply of the jeweller.

"Is it? But if you would! The truth is—I don't see why I should not
tell you—we lost one about that time. I do not wish to claim the
pencil, only to see it for my own satisfaction, just to set my doubts
at rest. They have been—" dreadful, was the word on her tongue, but she
paused in time and substituted another—"tiresome."

The jeweller was an honest man; kind and considerate. It was, as he
said, entirely against the rule to show pledges left with them; but the
young lady seemed very anxious, and was evidently sincere. He stood in
hesitation.

"I am Miss Brabazon," she resumed, drawing out her card-case and
showing her cards. "My father is Dr. Brabazon, of Orville College; you
may have heard of it and of him. Indeed you may trust us not to make
any fuss or trouble about this."

"Orville College," repeated the jeweller. "I am almost sure that was
the address given with the pencil. I think the person who pledged it
said he was a master there."

A rush of conviction and the image of Mr. Henry came over her together.
"Do let me see it," she said; "I am certain it is the same."

He went into the other shop by a communicating door, was away for
several minutes, and came back with a box in which was the pencil. She
only needed to take one glance at it; the chased gold was bright as
ever, the diamond flashed with all its accustomed brilliancy. It was
Dr. Brabazon's. "Yes, it is papa's," she exclaimed. "Who was it that
pledged it?"

"The name in the book is Henry Jebb; I have been looking. But there
seems to have been some doubt whether——. Here, Simms," broke off the
jeweller, "step this way."

"Henry Jebb!" mentally repeated Miss Brabazon, as a young man, running
his hand through an amazing head of light hair, came in from the other
shop.

"Tell this lady the particulars of the transaction I have been asking
you about," said his master. "When you took in this pencil, you know."

"It was Watson that took it in, sir, not me; but I was standing by and
heard what passed. The gentleman came in, mem," he continued, turning
to Miss Brabazon, "and said he wanted a little temporary accommodation
for a few days, and he pulled the pencil out of his waistcoat pocket,
mem, and asked what we'd lend upon it; as much as ever we could, he
hoped, for he was hard up till his remittances came. Well, Watson,
seeing a pencil like that, with the diamond stone in the top, was
rather sharp; he asked whether it was the party's own, and if it wasn't
a family relic, and lots more things; he was quite down upon him, mem,
in fact, and gave him a look from head to foot as if he didn't think
him exactly the one to be offering such an article. 'Hadn't you better
call in the nearest policeman and tell him to question me?' says the
customer. 'I can go where I'm known if you decline to negotiate.' Well,
what with his coolness, and his composed manner, and his gentleman's
voice, Watson thought it was all right, mem, and lent him seven pounds
upon it. 'What name?' says Watson. 'Henry,' answered he, and stopped.
'Henry what?' says Watson; 'is that the surname or Christian name?' and
the stranger stroked his chin for a moment looking at him. 'I suppose I
must give it in?' said he; 'Henry Jebb.' 'What address?' asks Watson
next. 'Oh, Fleet Street,' said he. 'That won't do this time,' says
Watson, 'I should like the real one.' 'Then take it,' said he, picking
up the money and putting it in his pocket, and he gave the address that
is in the book, sir,"—turning to the jeweller—"Orville College. 'I'm
one of its masters,' he went on, 'and that pencil was presented to me
by the pupils, so you may be sure I shall redeem it. In a week's time
from this it will be in my pocket again.' But here it is still,"
concluded the speaker; "and it often is so."

"You have a good memory, Simms," observed his master, smiling.

"And so I have, sir. I won't take upon me to say that those were the
precise words used, but I know they are not far out on either side.
Watson said afterwards that he'd lay half-a-crown Henry was the right
name; though he put it down as Henry Jebb."

"Was he a young man?" asked Miss Brabazon; feeling how superfluous was
the question in her certainty of conviction.

"Oh yes, mem; youngish, that is."

"That's all, Simms; you may go. Has this helped to solve your doubts at
all, ma'am?" continued the jeweller, turning to Miss Brabazon.

"It has indeed," she sadly said. "We have suspected him—at least some
of us did—from the first. His name is not Jebb. But I would rather not
say any more about it. Do not think me uncivil," she hastened to add;
"indeed I am sensible of your kind courtesy, and thank you very much.
You will keep the pencil safe; and please keep—if you would so far
oblige me—the matter secret too."

He came round to open the door for her, assuring her of his discretion,
and that the pencil would be perfectly safe.

"Mr. Henry!" she repeated over and over again to herself as she went
home. "And I had nearly overcome those doubts of him that so pained me.
But the impudence of his using poor, unconscious Mr. Jebb's name!"

And the "impudence" of the thing did strike upon her so forcibly that,
in spite of her distress, she stood still and gave way to a burst of
laughter, unable to restrain it within bounds.

Dr. Brabazon was alone in his study when she entered, looking over some
books just brought in. As if anxious to get the communication over, she
sat down at once on a stool at his feet, and told him all. It must be
remembered that _his_ suspicions had never been directed to Mr. Henry,
and for the first few minutes he really thought his daughter was
dreaming, or that the day's heat had affected her usually cool brain.

"It is impossible, Emma. Steal my pencil!—Mr. Henry! My dear, you don't
know what you are saying."

"Papa, I am very sorry to say it. You must judge for yourself; but I
don't see how it can have been otherwise. You have not been listening
to me."

"Begin again. Surprise took my listening faculties away."

She untied her bonnet, pushed it off her head, and began again; telling
him of Trace's back suspicions and their foundation; of her recent
discovery of the pencil, and what passed. "Is there any _room_ to
doubt, papa?"

"Stay a moment, Emma: why did you not inform me of this doubt of Mr.
Henry at the time?"

"Because I thought, as you do now, that it was so very unlikely; and
also—I feared—that some one altogether different might have taken it."

"Who?"

"Forgive me, papa; I know how you dislike the name to be
mentioned—Tom."

Dr. Brabazon frowned. "How could you possibly have suspected him when
he was not near the place? That comes of letting your thoughts run upon
him always. You should have told me this about Mr. Henry."

She sat with her finger on her cheek, looking out apparently at the
boys in the playground, and asking herself whether to tell the whole
now—that Tom _was_ near the place the evening of the loss. But to what
end? To hear of his being near them, always destroyed her father's
rest; and the suspicion was now quite removed from him.

"Mr. Henry must have intended to redeem it within a week, as he said,
papa; or he would never have disclosed the fact of his being one of the
college masters: he hoped, I suppose, to replace it here before it was
missed. I wonder why he did not do it?"

"Emma, I could have trusted that young man with untold gold."

"What shall you do about it, papa?"

"I don't know what to do," said the doctor, rousing himself from a
pause of perplexed thought. "Look you, child; he _must_ stay here until
the Oxford examination. To discharge him now might peril the passing of
the boys."

"I see. Of course it might. And he is so excellent a master!"

"I wish; I _wish_ I had not heard this."

Emma wished so too; wished, rather, there had been nothing to hear.

"His staying on a little while will not make matters worse, papa," she
resumed, trying to put the best side of things outwards; "he might stay
until the end of the term. We have missed nothing since. And if I had
not happened to go into that shop for a watch-key, we should be in just
as much ignorance as we were before."

"If!" said the doctor, "if! if! life is half made up of ifs. I'll take
a night's rest upon this unpleasantness, Emma; meanwhile keep strict
counsel."

"I shall keep that always, poor young man. I can't help being sorry for
him; he is so hardworking and so friendless; and, papa, with it all, he
is a gentleman. But what about the pencil?"

"Time enough to think of that," said the doctor. "It won't run away."

It was all utterly incomprehensible to Dr. Brabazon. As he said, he
could have _trusted_ Mr. Henry; not only with untold gold, but with
things far more precious. He thought that some great emergency, some
urgent need of money must have tempted him; it had tempted others
before him, as the world's history tells. It struck the doctor that in
this must lie the secret of Mr. Henry's demeanour; there was always a
sort of shrinking reticence observable to _him_, not to others. "As
if—I declare, as if he were conscious of some acted wrong towards me!"
cried the doctor aloud, the new thought striking him. Whatever his
degree of guilt, Dr. Brabazon felt certain it was bitterly repented of.
To part with him before the Oxford examination, thereby suddenly
cutting short the thread of the French and German instruction, was not
to be thought of and the Head Master buried the unwelcome knowledge
within his breast, and suffered things to go on as usual.

It was drawing so near now, that all other interests gave place to it
There was a good deal of rivalry amidst the boys going up for it; there
was some jealousy, a little disputing. The remoter competition for the
Orville prize was lost sight of now. It was at the option of the Head
Master to send the boys up for this Oxford examination, or to retain
them; according as, in his judgment, they were sufficiently prepared,
or the contrary.

The elder ones, those whose age would preclude trial another year, were
to go; that was certain; and take their chance: but in regard to the
rest it lay with Dr. Brabazon. Only, if they did not go up for the
Oxford; or, going up, did not pass; they could not compete for the
Orville. And of the candidates, there was not one, Gall excepted, and
perhaps Loftus, who did not secretly pray that Paradyne might not be
allowed to go up. Altogether there was as much excitement and commotion
just now in the college over the coming Oxford examination, as there is
in a bribery borough on the eve of a general election.

Mr. Loftus sat in his bedroom at Pond Place, fingering his cherished
pistols. It was the day subsequent to his encounter with Gall, and he
was spending it at Sir Simon's. Loftus had not been himself since the
mishap; he was not one to cherish revenge in a general way, but he did
in this instance firmly resolve that Gall should suffer. On all
occasions of his visits to his uncle's these pistols were got out,
their state ascertained, their shape and points admired. It was Sunday
afternoon, but Loftus was rubbing them with wash-leather; he and Leek,
who stood by, talking in a desultory manner.

"Loftus, I would not care to possess pistols if I had to keep them
locked up out of sight," cried Leek rather inopportunely.

"Ah," said Loftus, "wait until I am my own master. I wish I _might_ use
them," he added, significantly. "I could put a little bullet into
somebody with all the pleasure in life—that is, if he were not too
great a coward to meet me; but snobs are always cowards. Give me that
oil, Onions."

"You mean Gall," said Onions, handing the phial, and taking out the
cork by way of facilitating operations; upon which a strong smell of
bergamotte was diffused through the room. Onions gave a sniff.

"I say, Loftus, this is hair oil!"

"It will do; I've got no other. Yes, snobs are safe to be cowards; it's
in their blood, and they can't help it," observed he, dropping a
modicum of oil on the bright steel and delicately rubbing it. "I'd lay
you all I'm worth; I'd lay you these pistols, Onions, that if I called
out Gall, he'd laugh in my face."

"Bosh, Loftus! Folks don't fight duels now," was the slighting remark
of Onions.

"Not on this side the Channel. No; and that's what the fellow would
shelter himself under—a custom obsolete. Gall has insulted me, and if I
live I'll make him suffer for it. I _should_ like to put a bullet into
him," continued Bertie, grandly.

"It was too bad," said sympathising Onions. "I should pitch into him,
Loftus."

Mr. Loftus threw up his head. "Pitching in" was not in his line, or
anything so vulgar. "It was a great mistake to allow duelling to go
out," he observed, in his lordly manner. "There's no way left now for
gentlemen to resent an insult. You can't fight a fellow with your
fists, as if you were a prize-fighter; you can't bring an action
against him, and let things be blabbed out to the world."

"You can kick him down stairs," said Onions.

Mr. Loftus scorned a refutation. "Just lay hold of this end, will you,
while I rub. Mark my words, Onions, before fifty years have gone over
our heads, duelling will be in again."

"I say! is this Sir Simon coming up?" cried Leek, hurriedly.

Loftus listened for a moment, and then bundled pistols and leather and
oil into the drawer. Sir Simon was passing to his own room, and there
was no certainty that he would not look into this. So, for the time
being, the polishing and the discussion were alike cut short.

But on the following morning, Onions, whose tongue was as open as his
own nature, got talking to the school. And the matter reached the ears
of Gall.

"Says he would like to meet me in a duel! says he is a better shot than
I! _Is_ he? If I chose to take him at his word and meet him, he'd see
who was the best shot."

"And so I am a better shot," affirmed Loftus, coming forward to face
Gall. "What should _you_ know about shooting? It is an art that belongs
to gentlemen."

In point of fact, neither of the two could shoot at all. Gall lifted
his finger.

"Look here, Loftus. This is not a time to be taken up with petty
interests: I can't afford the leisure for it, if you can; neither shall
the school. We'll settle matters, you and I, when the Oxford's over."

"Agreed. Mind you don't flinch from it," was the scornful conclusion.

Gall spoke rather without his host, in saying that the school should
not waste its time in disputes. At that very moment, the school was
divided into groups, some taking Gall's part, some taking Loftus's,
some differing on private matters of their own. After morning study,
the various dissensions seemed to have merged into one single outbreak,
and that was between Loftus minor and Paradyne. Paradyne had been
taunted well that morning, by Dick especially, and he turned at length
on the taunter. It was in the quadrangle.

"Because I have borne what hardly anybody else would, you think I
_can't_ retaliate; you think I am a coward! Try me, Dick Loftus."

Dick—hot, impulsive, passionate Dick—dashed in and struck the first
blow. That was his answer. Off went the jackets, the boys closed round
in a ring; it was to be an impromptu, stand-up, hand-to-hand fight.

And the very cries would have decided it, could cries decide. Every
encouragement was heaped cheerily on Dick, every derisive insult that
tongue can utter was levelled at Paradyne: never had the feeling of the
school been more palpably displayed than now. Paradyne stood his ground
bravely: cool, collected, retaining his temper and his self-possession,
he proved a great deal more than a match for Dick, who had very shortly
to acknowledge himself beaten. Paradyne had not a scratch upon his
face; parrying all blows successfully, to this he chiefly confined
himself, and, instead of punishing Dick, had been content to show that
he could have punished if he would.

"And now," said he, as he put on his jacket, "as you see that I can
fight, perhaps you'll let me alone for the future. I shan't take things
so patiently as I have done."

He set off to run home to dinner; and a glow of admiration went out
after him from all that were unprejudiced. The boy had half won their
hearts with his gallant bearing.

He appeared at his desk as usual in the afternoon. Dick Loftus was at
his, a little sore about the arms. Suddenly, amidst the silence that
follows the first settling down of a large number of students, a voice
was heard.

"Who has done this?"

It came from Paradyne. He was standing with a paper of many sheets in
his hand, and had spoken aloud in his shock of surprise. The paper was
a Latin essay, to go in that night to the Head Master; it had taken him
many days to write it.

"What is the matter?" asked Mr. Jebb.

Paradyne left his place and carried up the paper. It was torn, blotted,
soaked in ink almost from beginning to end. The contents of one
inkstand could scarcely have put it in the state it was.

"What _is_ it?" cried Mr. Jebb, gazing at the black relic.

"It is my Latin essay, sir. I left it clean and perfect in my desk
after morning school."

"Your Latin essay! You left it—— Nonsense, Paradyne," broke off Mr.
Jebb, "you must have had an accident with it: you have been upsetting
the ink."

The whole school was staring and wondering. On the merit of these
essays was supposed to lie very much the decision of the Head Master,
whether their author should or should not go up for the Oxford. The
school denied all knowledge of the affair. The first desk, collectively
and individually, protested they had had no hand in it, and a whisper
arose that Paradyne had done it himself to hide the poorness of his
Latin. There was no time to attempt another.

"He can't go up for the Oxford now," were the first words that greeted
Paradyne's ears when the hall rose; and they came from Dick Loftus.

"Did _you_ do it?" cried Paradyne, turning sharply upon him.

"No, I did not," answered Dick; his red face and his honest eyes raised
fearlessly to Paradyne's.

"You beat me this morning in a fair, stand-up fight; but I'd scorn to
do a mean trick of this sort."

"I believe you," said Paradyne, "and I beg your pardon for asking."

"And I am sorry that you should lose your chance for Oxford," added
Dick, not to be outdone in generosity. "I have never said either, as
some of them do, that you ought not to go up for the Orville: it's as
fair for you to compete as for the rest, for what I see."

But all chance for Paradyne, either for the one or the other, was over,
in the opinion of the school.

Some of the better-natured felt sorry for him, and said it. Paradyne
bore himself bravely before them; not a cloud on his brow, not a shadow
on his lips, proclaimed aloud the bitterness of his defeat. But, later,
when he was sitting at Mr. Henry's, he astonished that gentleman not a
little by bursting into tears.

"I had taken such pride in that essay! I had looked forward to this
examination with so much certainty of success. And now to have it all
destroyed in a moment!"

"Hush, George! You may go up yet."

"No, I shall not; I can see that Brabazon thinks I did it myself. I
might just as well never have worked on for the examination; I'd better
not have come to Orville. It's awful treachery!" he burst forth
presently, his tone changing as anger superseded the sobs. "I know this
has been done by some of them. Oh, what a life it is to lead! And
there's another thing—the mother has been counting on my success."

There were rare times and seasons when Mr. Henry was so utterly
dispirited himself, that it seemed like a mockery to attempt to impart
consolation or preach of patience to another. This was one. The trouble
lay heavier on him than it did on the boy. As he sat alone, after
George's departure, and took up the Book; more, it must be confessed,
from custom that night than from any comfort he thought to find—for, in
truth, he felt entirely beaten down, worn, sick, weary; it opened of
itself at a part that seemed—ay, that seemed to have been written
expressly for him.

"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."

And by the time he had read on to the end of the chapter, which is the
Second of Ecclesiasticus, peace and trust had come back to him.



CHAPTER XIII.

If the Boys had but seen!

The long worked-for Oxford examination was over, and the results were
at length known. Irby and Fullarton had not passed; Powell had not gone
up for it by the decision of the Head Master; the rest had passed,
including Paradyne. All George Paradyne's apprehensions, and the
school's forebodings had proved alike mistaken, for Dr. Brabazon had
sent up Paradyne in spite of the damaged essay. In his glee, George
Paradyne heartily forgave all, and was his own bright self again. The
studies went on again vigorously until July: the great prize, the
Orville, had to be competed for yet.

In July the school rose for the long vacation, and Dr. Brabazon could
no longer put off the explanation with Mr. Henry, which he had deemed
it well to defer until the term should be over. To say the truth, he
shrank from it. To convict this hardworking, painstaking gentleman of
theft—and such a theft!—was a most unpleasant task to enter on. He let
a day or two pass, and while he was seeking for an opportunity to
speak, it was afforded by Mr. Henry himself. The heat, or something
else, seemed to be retaining its spite against the German master, and
on the third day of the vacation, when he was giving Miss Rose her
usual lesson, he fainted away without notice, just as he had that other
day at Mr. Gall's. He had a short cough occasionally, and symptoms of
blood-spitting.

The doctor sent Rose away and sat with him when he was restored, and
rang for Mr. Henry's favourite beverage, coffee. "You shall not go
until you have taken some, and the child's lesson can be continued
another day," said he, peremptorily and kindly, in answer to
remonstrances. "Do you think you can be very well?" he continued, the
weary look of pain on Mr. Henry's face striking him forcibly.

"Not very; perhaps I have a little overworked myself," was Mr. Henry's
reply. "Sometimes I think this place—the air, I mean—does not agree
with me."

"Have you anything on your mind?" asked the doctor; and either the
nature of the question or its suddenness brought a flush to Mr. Henry's
face. They were in the study, seated opposite each other near the large
window, the deserted playground, silent now, lying beyond it in the
vista; so that the quick flush was perfectly perceptible to Dr.
Brabazon.

"Now," thought he, "for my opportunity: I could not have a better. Mr.
Henry," he resumed, aloud, "I have for some time fancied that you had
some care or trouble, that you were concealing especially from me."

A pause. A yearning look of what seemed like detection—detection
pleading for pardon—crossed Mr. Henry's countenance. The hour, which he
had been dreading for months, was come; and he was not ready for it! He
sat in uncomfortable suspense, not knowing how much or how little the
master knew, pressing his thin fingers together, his elbows resting on
the arm of the chair.

"That some unpleasant trouble was on your mind I have undoubtedly
seen," resumed the doctor. "Now that the opportunity for explanation
has come, I think you must afford it to me."

"I cannot disclose it to you now, sir," said Mr. Henry slowly, and with
evident pain. "Perhaps in a day or two—"

"But suppose no disclosure is needed?—suppose I know it already?"
interrupted the master.

"Is that so?" asked Mr. Henry, lifting his face.

"It is. The affair has unhappily come to my knowledge; not, of course,
the inducement—the—the leading motive for yielding to the temptation. I
cannot describe to you how it has pained me. Had you been a son of mine
I could scarcely have felt it more. It seemed that I might so fully
trust you."

"Since when have you known it?" asked Mr. Henry in a low tone.

"For some weeks now. I did not stir in it at the time," continued the
master, brushing a large fly off his black waistcoat, "on account of
not interrupting the classes of the boys who were going up for the
examination. And, that over, I thought things might remain as they were
until the vacation, as they had gone on so long."

"Then you intend to discharge me, Dr. Brabazon?"

The doctor could not help thinking it was rather an _assuming_
question. He played with his paper weight on the table.

"What do _you_ think about that, Mr. Henry?"

"Of course I have feared so. But yet—"

"But yet what?"

"Oh, sir, I'd rather not go on. I was going to speak of leniency—of
consideration; but you might think it only made my offence worse."

"I will show you all the leniency in my power. I think my having
delayed the explanation proves that my intentions are not hostile, and
I will be your friend if I can. You were, I conclude, led into this by
some overwhelming pecuniary pressure, as others have been before you,
and then found that you could not redeem your act. This is Emma's view
of the case as well as mine. Why did you not make a friend of me, and
tell me your difficulty? I would have lent you the money."

"What money, sir?"

"The money you had need of. It was a poor sum to peril one's future
for—seven pounds. And why did you use Mr. Jebb's name?"

Mr. Henry had been staring with all his eyes, as if the words
bewildered him. "I don't quite understand, sir, what it is you are
talking of."

"Of my pencil, that you took from this room and pledged in Oxford
Street for seven pounds," returned the Head Master in terse language,
nettled at the assumption of ignorance and innocence. "Why do you force
me to speak out so plainly?"

Mr. Henry rose up; his whole attitude, his face, one entire questioning
astonishment. "Why, Dr. Brabazon, what is it that you would accuse me
of?" he exclaimed.

"Of the theft of the gold pencil. Of your having taken it out of this
inkstand—this inkstand," laying his hand angrily upon the article—"and
making money upon it."

The charge was so exceedingly different from the one feared by Mr.
Henry, and seemed in itself so entirely absurd and ludicrous, that he
burst into a laugh—laughed, it might be, in very relief.

"I beg your pardon, sir, a thousand times. You cannot seriously suspect
me capable of such a thing. Steal your pencil!"

"Yes, my pencil," replied Dr. Brabazon, feeling rather bewildered. "Did
you not come in at this window and take it; and then pledge it the next
day in Oxford Street for seven pounds, and say you were a master here,
and give in Mr. Jebb's name instead of your own?"

"Certainly not. What can possibly have induced you to fancy it? Oh,
sir, don't you _see_ that you might trust me better than that?"

"Well, I had thought I could," answered the doctor, feeling in a
hopeless maze. "I said so to Emma. You see, one of the boys had noticed
you that night walking about before the window; and there were other
attendant circumstances—never mind them now. I am very sorry to have
said this to you if you are innocent."

"Which of the boys was it that saw me?"

"Trace, I think. It was he who spoke to Emma." And the doctor, feeling
a conviction that this accusation was really a mistaken one, gave a
summary of the details. Mr. Henry distinctly and decisively denied the
charge, and the doctor could doubt no longer. But—that no shadow of
uncertainty might remain Mr. Henry urged him to accompany him at once
to the jeweller's shop, that the matter might be set at rest: nay,
demanded it.

"A moment ere we start, Mr. Henry," said the master. "If this is not
the trouble on your mind, what is that trouble? You cannot deny that
there's something. What is its nature?"

"Spare me the question a little while, Dr. Brabazon," came the answer,
given in a strangely-impassioned tone. "I have been wishing to tell you
all along, but I—I—have been unable; and the conflict has robbed my
days of peace, my nights of rest. Perhaps—in a few days—in a day even,
I may disclose it to you."

"What can it be?" cried the wondering doctor, gazing at him earnestly.
"Have you done anything wrong?"

"Yes, very wrong. But—it is neither theft nor murder," he added, his
eyes lighting up with their luminous smile. A smile that so strangely,
one could not tell how, imparted a feeling of confidence in him to
whomsoever it was cast upon.

They took the first conveyance, and were soon in Oxford Street. The
master of the shop was in, as before, and listened to a few offered
words of explanation. He called the same young man in—Simms.

"Look at this gentleman," he said, indicating Mr. Henry. "Do you
recognize him as one of our customers?"

Mr. Simms ran his eyes over Mr. Henry, and shook his head conclusively.
"No, sir; I don't remember ever to have seen him."

"Is he the gentleman who pledged that gold pencil with the diamond
top?"

"Oh dear no, sir. That person was older than this gentleman. They are
not in the least alike."

"Just so," said Dr. Brabazon. "Will you give me a description of that
person?"

Mr. Simms complied. "A party getting on for thirty-five, I should say,
sir: rather shabby than not, but talked offhand like a gentleman. Hair
had a reddish cast; and party walked, I believe, a little lame."

"Lame!" exclaimed the doctor, in a startled tone.

"You did not mention any lameness the other day, Simms," interposed the
jeweller.

"No, sir; I didn't know it then. When I was telling Watson afterwards
about questions being asked as to who had pledged that article, he said
the party walked lame; least-ways, that he limped in going out of the
shop. I hadn't noticed it, and so I told him; but Watson was positive."

Dr. Brabazon looked like a man who has received a blow. He went home
leaning on Mr. Henry's arm, as if he needed the support.

"Forgive me for having entertained a doubt of you," he murmured, as he
wrung his hand at parting. "Perhaps when you tell me of this trouble of
yours I may be able to make it up to you. I know now who it was took my
pencil."

And so did Mr. Henry know; for he had recognized the description and
the lameness. Mr. Tom Brabazon was the culprit; and had no doubt
enjoyed amazingly the joke of giving in the Reverend Mr. Jebb's name,
and taking in the shopmen with his assumption of innocent inexperience.
Before the time had expired for the running out of the pledge, he would
probably have enclosed the ticket to Dr. Brabazon, or to Emma, with Mr.
Jebb's name on it as large as life.

As Mr. Henry was turning from the college gate, Sir Simon Orville's
pony carriage drew up, himself and Trace in it, the latter driving. Sir
Simon ran after Dr. Brabazon, who was then crossing the lawn; Trace,
conveniently near-sighted to the German master, remained in the
carriage, and turned his head the other way. However, Mr. Henry went up
to him.

"Trace, I have a question to ask you. I understand you have been
suspecting that it was I who took the Head Master's pencil. Will you
tell me what reason you had for this?"

Trace felt uncommonly taken to. He had not a great deal of moral
courage. "Oh," said he, shuffling with the reins, "that's an old affair
now; past and gone."

"Not quite past and gone yet, Trace. What could have led to your
suspecting me? Will you tell me the truth, so far? I have a reason for
asking."

"Of course it was only a doubt. Some one must have gone in and taken
it, and Lamb saw you there before the window. And—you appear to be
always so inconveniently short of money as to make a few pounds an
object," candidly added Trace, plucking up his courage. "Pardon my
alluding to it."

"Slight grounds. I don't think I should have suspected you on such. Was
there no other reason?"

"Except that you are a sneak and a cad," rose to Trace's lips. But he
did not consider it would be convenient to speak it, and answered with
a monosyllable, "None."

"Then —— was it a kind or a good thing of you to go with these
suspicions to Miss Brabazon, my master's daughter? Had the doctor been
a different man from what he is, you might have utterly ruined me. A
charge of this nature cannot be refuted, in most cases, as easily as it
is made."

"Have you refuted this one?" asked Trace, turning full upon him.

"Yes; at once and entirely. I did not know until to-day that it stood
against me."

"Then I must tender you my apologies," returned Trace. Not that there
was the least sign of apology in his tone; rather, it seemed to have
borrowed the haughty ring of his cousin's, Bertie Loftus. "There was no
harm done, it appears, so don't let us have a fuss raised now."

"I am not one to raise a fuss. You cannot but be conscious that to you,
Trace, I have been especially tolerant—some might say forbearing. I
fear it has been lost upon you."

"You have been very kind, no doubt," cynically returned Trace. "I do
not wish more tolerance or forbearance shown to me than others get.
Neither am I conscious of having received more."

"No? Yet I have been keeping some of your secrets, Trace. Suppose I had
betrayed you in the matter of Paradyne's essay?"

"Of Paradyne's essay?" echoed Trace, seizing the whip and flicking the
ear of one of the pretty ponies. "I don't think you know what you are
talking of."

"Yes I do. And so do you. When I saw the blotches of ink on your
wristband that afternoon, and asked what had caused them, that you
should be so sedulous to tuck it out of sight, you knew as well as I
did that I guessed the secret. I did not tell of you. It would have
been a shocking thing, ruining you with the school and with the
masters. Not even to forward the interests of Paradyne in a just cause,
would I injure _you_. I wonder if you will ever understand me, Trace;
or get to learn that I would be your friend and not your enemy?"

Trace cut the air with his whip; but he gave no answer. At that moment
Sir Simon came back, holding out his hand in his cordial manner.

"You are not looking fat and rosy, Mr. Henry. Fagged with the term: it
has been a heavy one. Why don't you do as we are going to do—take a
trip over the water?"

"To Germany, Sir Simon?"

"Germany!—that's your paradise," laughed Sir Simon. "We are going to
Boulogne—not much crossing there, you know, which I confess doesn't
agree with me. We get over in an hour and a half. You should try it
yourself. Good day!"

The pony carriage rattled off, and Mr. Henry turned to Mrs. Paradyne's.
He had a little matter of business to arrange with her. But matters of
business were not always palatable to that lady; and there ensued an
unprofitable argument between herself and her visitor. He sat at the
table in the little drawing-room, his elbow on it, his thin cheek
resting on his two fingers. Mrs. Paradyne, dropping her work, a glove
of George's that she was mending, talked at him from the sofa, and in
her quiet, persistent way, allowed no reasoning but hers to be heard.
Seated near her mother was Mary Paradyne, a bright-looking girl of
twenty, with her brother George's great grey eyes. She had come home in
June, having left the school in Derbyshire, and was seeking daily
teaching near home. A Mrs. Hill, living near Pond Place, was
negotiating with her.

"Where's George?" asked Mr. Henry, when he at length rose to leave.

Mrs. Paradyne would not answer. She was resenting something that Mr.
Henry had said. He approached Miss Paradyne to shake hands, but she
left her seat and followed him out.

"You are right and mamma is wrong," she whispered, with the handle of
the closed door in her hand, and the tears gathering in her eyes as she
lifted them to his. "Oh, I wish she would not be so unjust to you.
George is spending the day at William Gall's."

All the answer Mr. Henry made was to bend down and kiss her lips. A
very suggestive action, and certainly not discreet. If the boys had but
seen!



CHAPTER XIV.

Over the Water.

The fine passenger boat was ploughing its way across the channel,
receding from Folkestone, gaining on Boulogne-sur-Mer. Sir Simon
Orville and his three nephews were on board. It was a fine, warm, calm
day in August; and as Sir Simon Orville sat on the upper deck, steadily
as he could have sat in one of his own chairs at home, he thought what
a charming passage that was between the two points, and how silly he
had been never to have tried it before.

For—if the truth must be told—Sir Simon Orville had never made but
three water trips in his life: the one to Ramsgate, from London; the
other two, the short crossing to the Isle of Wight. He had called them
all equally "going to sea;" and as it happened that the water had been
very particularly rough on each of the three occasions, and Sir Simon
terribly ill, his reminiscences on the subject were not pleasant. To
find himself, therefore, gliding along as smoothly as if the channel
were a sea of glass, was both unexpected and delightful.

The sky was blue over head; the water was blue underneath; the slight
breeze caused by the motion of the vessel was grateful on the warm day;
and Sir Simon thought he was in Paradise. And now, as they were nearing
the French town, there came gliding towards them the steamer that had
just put off from it; her deck crowded with merry-faced passengers,
congratulating themselves like Sir Simon, at the easy voyage. The
vessels exchanged salutes, and passed, each on her way.

And now the harbour was gained and traversed; the boat was made fast to
the side, and the passengers began to land. The first thing Sir Simon
did on _terra firma_ was to turn himself about and gaze around,
perfectly bewildered with the strange scene and the strange tongue. It
was so new to him: he had never been out of his own country in his
life. Bertie Loftus, who knew something of the place, and prided
himself on his French, consequently felt obliged to speak it as soon as
he landed, drew his uncle to the custom-house through the sea of gazing
faces, and said, "Par ici." That passed, and the egress gained, they
found themselves in the midst of a crowd of touters, shouting out the
names of their respective hotels and thrusting forward cards.

"Hotel du Nord," said Bertie, grandly, waving his hands to keep off the
men, with an air of deprecating condescension.

"But what is it? What do they want? What are these cards?" reiterated
Sir Simon. "My goodness me, boys, what's _that?_"

"That" was a string of the fishwomen in their matelotte costume, dark
cloth short petticoats, red bodies, and broad webbing bracers. They
were harnessed to a heavy truck of luggage, already cleared, and
starting with it to one of the hotels.

"Uncle, we shall never get on if you stay like this," said Bertie.
"That's nothing: the women do all the work here."

Up came four or five more women and surrounded the party, bawling into
Sir Simon's stunned ears with their shrill and shrieking voices,
evidently asking something.

"What on earth are they saying of, Bertie?"

Now Mr. Bertie's French only did for polite table life, and
Anglo-French intercourse. To be set upon by a regular Frenchman with
his perplexing tongue, and (as it seemed) rapid utterance, puzzled
Bertie always: what must it have been then when these fishwomen
attacked him with their broad patois?

"Come along, uncle; they don't want anything. Allez vous en," rather
wrathfully added Bertie to the ladies, which only made them talk the
faster.

"Bertie, I shall not go along: the poor women must want something, and
I should like to know what. What—do—you—want—please?" asked Sir Simon
in his politeness, laying a stress upon each word. "Spake Anglish? No
spake French, me."

Jabber and shriek, jabber and shriek, all the five voices at once, for
there were five of them. Sir Simon put up his hands and looked
helplessly at Bertie; who was feeling rather helpless himself, just
then.

"They are asking if you have any luggage, and if they may carry it to
your hotel, Sir Simon," spoke a free, pleasant voice, evidently on the
burst of laughter. And Sir Simon turned to behold George Paradyne, and
seized his hand in gladness at being relieved from his dilemma.

To hear the boy interpreting between Sir Simon and the women; to note
that his French tongue was ready and fluent as theirs and with rather a
more refined sound in it, was somewhat mortifying to Bertie Loftus. The
women disappeared, George talking fast and laughing after them. "What
brings you here? When did you come?" asked Sir Simon, keeping him by
his side.

"We came yesterday, Sir Simon. I am with the Galls. They kindly invited
me to accompany them. We are at the Hotel du Nord."

"The Galls here, and at the Norde!" almost shouted Sir Simon in his
delight. "I shall have somebody that I can speak English with."

Yes; the Galls had made friends with George Paradyne and brought him to
Boulogne with them. Mrs. Gall, a woman of the kindest and truest
nature, had told her husband, told her son, that she should make the
school ashamed of its prejudice against Paradyne. William Gall had not
accompanied them: he was coming later. Sir Simon had known nothing of
their movements: he had been a week and more from home. The Talbots
were coming; the Browns were coming; Leek and his mother, Lady Sophia,
were already there. As Sir Simon remarked, it seemed like an arranged
party. Such, however, was not the case.

"What a lingo, to be sure!" cried Sir Simon, as he trotted up the hot
and blazing port. "Why, actually those little street urchins are
jabbering French! Halloa! stop!" he added, coming to a sudden halt
opposite the goods' custom-house: "Where's Dick!"

Nobody remembered to have seen Dick since the landing. "He'll turn up,
sir," returned Loftus, slightly annoyed at the unequal progress they
were making. "Dick won't get lost."

Sir Simon did not feel so sure upon the point; he thought he might get
lost himself in that helpless foreign town; becoming, as he was, more
strange and bewildered every moment. But Dick came running up from
behind, dragging with him a tall, square-built man with a thoughtful
face and grey hair. Sir Simon nearly shook his hands off, for it was
Mr. Gall.

"What a mercy!" said he. "I never was so glad in all my life; did not
know anything of your coming. We have been a week at Chatham, staying
near my poor brother Joe, the hop-dealer, who made that sad failure of
it. You know him, Gall. I wanted to see how he and the wife and chicks
were of, poor things, and we put up at an inn there."

Dick shook hands with Paradyne. Dick listened to the news that Onions
was in the town, and that Talbot was arriving, with a sort of rapture:
the Browns too, major and minor. Dick would have stood on his head had
there been room on the port to do it.

A few days more, and the different friends and schoolmates had
collected there. It was indeed as if they had premeditated the
gathering. Some went grandly _viâ_ Folkestone, some more economically
by the boat from London: that little muff, Stiggings, who was fond of
writing to Miss Rose, made the trip in a sailing vessel, invited to it
by the captain; he was awfully sick all the way, and landed more dead
than alive. The Galls and Sir Simon's party were at the Hotel du Nord;
the Talbots had small lodgings in the Rue Neuve Chaussée; the Browns
took a furnished house in the open country, beyond the Rue Royale; and
Lady Sophia Leek, who had no acquaintance with the rest, and made none
with them, was staying at the Hotel des Bains. And the time went on.

But that Sir Simon Orville was the most unsuspicious of men, he had
undoubtedly not failed to detect that some ill-feeling was rife between
his friend Gall's eldest son, and Bertie Loftus. For three whole days
after William Gall's arrival, they did not exchange a word with each
other; on the fourth, a quarrel, not loud, but bitter, took place on
the sands; and those low, concentrated, bitter quarrels are worse than
loud ones. People, scattered in groups at only a few yards' distance,
did not hear it; but they might have seen the white faces raised on
each other with an angry glare, had they been less occupied with
themselves, with their gossip, with the picking up of shells. Bertie
Loftus was cherishing the remembrance of his insult, and paying it off
fourfold in superciliousness now.

Sir Simon's mind was too agreeably filled to afford leisure for
detecting feelings not on the surface: everything was new to him,
everything delightful. The free and easy life in the French town; the
unceremonious habits; the sociable salon, where they sat with the
windows open to the street; the passing intimacy made with the rest of
the guests; the sufficiently-well-appointed meals in the
dining-room—the lingering breakfast at will, the chance lunch, the
elaborate dinner—were what he had never before met with. Mr. Bertie
Loftus considered it a state of things altogether common; but it was
after the social, simple-minded man's own heart. There was the pier to
walk on; with its commodious seats at the end, whence he could watch
the vessels in at will, and revel in the view of the dancing waves;
there was the laid-out ground before that gay building whose French
name Sir Simon could not pronounce, the établissement, where he could
sit in the sun or the shade, watching the croquet players, and reading
his newspaper between whiles; there was the terrace beyond, with its
benches; there were the sands stretching out in the distance. An upper
terrace also, close at hand, where he could place himself at a small
round table and call for lemonade in the summer's heat. Sir Simon would
be now in one spot, now in another, his _Times_ and telescope in his
hand, his friend Gall not far off. And Mr. Gall was a sensible, shrewd
man, looked up to in the city as the head of a wealthy wholesale
business; he was not despised by his own people, however he might be by
Bertie Loftus. What with the attractions out of doors and the
attractions in, Sir Simon thought Boulogne was pleasant as a fabled
town of enchantment.

"A scandal-loving, vulgar, crowded, disreputable, unsavoury place,
sir!" was the judgment some new acquaintance passed upon it one day, to
the intense approval of Bertie. But Sir Simon shook his head, and could
not see it.

Sir Simon stood at the end of the pier one afternoon, his telescope to
his eye, ranging the horizon for the first appearance of the London
boat. He was looking in the wrong direction for it, but that was all
one to happy Sir Simon. Young Paradyne put him right. By that boat he
was expecting Mr. and Mrs. Loftus. Some business having taken them
unexpectedly to London, Sir Simon had written to say, "Come over here
and be my guests." It suddenly struck him that the sight of the boy by
his side, Paradyne, might call up unpleasant recollections to Mr.
Loftus. Sir Simon had got to like the boy excessively; but that was no
reason why Mr. Loftus should tolerate the intimacy.

On came the good ship, "The City of Paris," pitching and tossing, for
the waves were wild to-day, and Sir Simon felt thankful he was not in
her. She but just saved the tide. Back down the pier he hurried, in
time to see the passengers land; Dick and Raymond Trace crowding
eagerly against the ropes. Dick leaped them, and had to go through the
custom-house for his pains, kissing his mother between whiles. She was
like her brother, Sir Simon, in features; simple once, but a little
pretentious now. The tears ran down Sir Simon's cheeks when he saw that
her hair was grey. Very grey indeed just at present, and her face too,
with the adverse wind on deck, and the sickness. Mr. Loftus—a slender,
aristocratic-looking man of courteous manners, but with a great deal of
Bertie's hauteur in his pale and handsome face—had not suffered, and
was ready to greet all friends in his calm, gentlemanly fashion.

There are many ropes about that part of the port, as perhaps some of
you know. Mr. Loftus, a very near-sighted man, with an eye-glass
dangling, contrived to get his feet entangled in them; he would
undoubtedly have fallen, but that some one darted to the rescue and
held him up. Mr. Loftus saw a stripling nearly as tall as himself, with
a frank, good-looking countenance, and open, bright, grey eyes.

"Thank you, young sir," he said; "I must look to my steps here, I find.
Who is that nice-looking lad?" he subsequently asked of Sir Simon.

"Oh, never mind him," cried Sir Simon, evasively; "let us get on to the
Norde"—as he always called the hotel. "Eliza looks half dead."

"But where's Albert?" inquired Mr. Loftus, who had been gazing about in
vain for his eldest son.

Sir Simon could not tell where he was, and wondered at his absence. He
little thought that Mr. Albert Loftus was detained with Gall, the two
quarrelling desperately, out by Napoleon's column. Things had come to a
most unpleasant pass between them.

Mrs. Loftus went to lie down as soon as they reached the hotel. Mr.
Loftus, declining refreshment until dinner-time, was ready to walk
about with Sir Simon and be shown the lions. That goodhearted and
estimable knight took him to a favourite bench of his on the green
lawn—or plage, if you like to call it so—of the établissement, which
seemed nearly deserted under the blaze of the afternoon sun. The sea
was before them, the harbour on the left, the heights on the right.
Here they sat at their ease, and the conversation fell upon Mr. Trace,
Raymond's father.

"It is nearly a twelvemonth now since Robert Trace wrote to me,"
observed Sir Simon; "I can't make it out. We have never been so long
before without news. Have you heard from him?"

"No," answered Mr. Loftus. "But my not hearing goes for nothing. I
don't suppose we have exchanged letters three times since we separated
in Liverpool four—nearly five—years ago."

"Is there any particular cause for that?" asked Sir Simon.

"Well, I can hardly say there is. We did not agree in opinion about the
winding-up of affairs at that unfortunate time, and I was vexed with
Robert Trace; but we parted good friends."

"He took too much upon himself, I have heard you say."

"Yes. He would carry out his own opinions; would not listen to me, or
let me have a voice; and he did it so quickly too. While I was saying
such a thing ought to be done in such a manner, he _did_ it, and did it
just the reverse. I have always thought that if Robert Trace had
managed properly, we might have gone on again and redeemed ourselves.
The fact is, his usually cool judgment was stunned out of him by the
blow. But it is of no use speculating now on what might have been. How
was he getting on when you last heard?"

"I don't know."

The words were spoken in a peculiarly emphatic tone, and it caused Mr.
Loftus to glance inquiringly at Sir Simon. The latter answered the
look.

"He was at Boston, you know; had got together some sort of an agency
there, and was doing well. In one of his letters to me, he said he was
in the way to make a fortune. Some capitalists, whom he named, were
establishing a great commercial enterprise, a sort of bank I fancy, and
had offered the management of it to him, if he could take shares to the
amount of two thousand pounds, which must be paid up. He could furnish
the one from his own funds, he said, and he asked me to lend him the
other. In less than a twelvemonth it should be repaid to me with
interest."

"And what did you do?"

"Lent it. I was willing to give him another help on to fortune; and
Trace, as you know, was a longheaded fellow, the very last to be
deluded by any trashy bubble not likely to hold water. So I despatched
him the thousand pounds by return mail."

"You were always too liberal, Simon."

"Better be too liberal than too stingy," was the rather impulsive
answer. "I should not like to remember on my death-bed that I had
refused assistance to friends in need, for the sake of hoarding my
gold. What good would it do me then?"

"And how did it prosper him?"

"I don't know. I got an acknowledgment from him of its receipt—just a
line. I believe I can repeat the words, 'Dear Simon, my best thanks to
you for what has now come safe to hand. Will write by next mail.' The
next mail, however, brought me nothing, nor the next, nor the next.
After that came a letter, dated New York; in it he said he had left
Boston, and would give me particulars later. They have never come."

"That's strange. How do you account for it?"

Sir Simon did not answer for a minute. "I think the projected
enterprise failed," he said at length; "and that Robert Trace lost his
own money and mine too. I think he is trying to redeem his position in
a measure before he writes and confesses to the failure. It is no good
reason for maintaining silence; but Robert Trace always was sensitive
on the subject of pecuniary losses, especially of his own. I suppose
the Americans were more clever than he, and took him in, and he does
not like to confess it."

"What are you going to do with Raymond?" questioned Mr. Loftus.

"I don't know. I shall be in a dilemma over it, unless we speedily hear
from his father. Should he gain the Orville prize he will go to the
university; but as to what he is to be—of course it lies with his
father to decide. I propose business to him—any sort he'd like; but he
turns his nose up at it, just as disdainfully as Mr. Bertie could do."

Mr. Loftus smiled. "Bertie wants to read for the Bar but I fear it will
be up-hill work. He—there's the fine lad that saved me from stumbling,"
he broke off, as Paradyne and another shot across the sands. "You did
not tell me who he was. He has a nice face."

"I'll tell you if you like; but your prejudices will rise up in arms
like so many bristles. That's young Paradyne."

"Paradyne! Not Arthur Paradyne's son?"

"It is."

"But what brings him here—with you?" returned Mr. Loftus; his voice
taking a cold, haughty, reserved tone.

"There, I knew how it would be," said Sir Simon, with a short laugh.
Turning round to make sure there were no listeners, he told the
particulars to Mr. Loftus: of George Paradyne's happening to enter
Orville College, of Raymond's discovery, and of the Head Master's
appeal to himself. "The lad is as nice a lad as ever lived," he
concluded, "and why should his father's fault be visited upon him?"

A moment's pause, and Mr. Loftus's better reason asserted itself. He
was of a generous nature when his pride did not stand in the way: or,
as Sir Simon put it, his prejudice.

"Certainly. Yes. I should have said the same, had Dr. Brabazon
consulted me. Let the boy have a chance. But, Simon, how does he get
supported at that expensive college? The widow protested she had but
the merest pittance of an income left."

"I don't know how. Somebody, perhaps, has taken them by the hand: I
can't tell what people of misfortune would do without. I show the boy
kindness, not only because I like him, but that I promised something of
the sort to Mary."

"To Mrs. Trace?" exclaimed Mr. Loftus.

"I did," affirmed Sir Simon, to the evident surprise of his
brother-in-law. "Mary Trace had been a hard, cold woman, as you know;
but the light broke in upon her when she was dying. It changed her
nature—as of course, or it had not been the true, blessed light from
heaven—and she got anxious for others. More than once she spoke to me
of the Paradynes; their fate seemed to lie like a weight upon her. 'If
ever you can lend them a helping hand, Simon, do it,' she urged; 'do it
for our Saviour's sake.' I can see her blue, pinched lips now, and the
anxious fever in her eyes as she spoke," he added dreamily, "and I
promised. But I would help the lad for his own sake, apart from this."

Mr. Loftus made no comment: to confess the truth, he could not quite
understand why Mrs. Trace should have done this. He raised his double
eye-glass.

"Is not that Albert?" he asked. "There, in the distance, with one or
two more young men." And Sir Simon turned his long glass in the
direction to which he pointed.

Close against the water they stood; three of them—Bertie, for he it
was, and Gall, and Leek. The tide was nearly out, and Bertie and Gall
had found their way round the point, from the heights down to the
sands, a long round, wrangling all the way. Had Mr. Loftus and Sir
Simon but possessed an ear-glass as well as an eye-glass, they might
have heard more than was meant for them. That Bertie Loftus was bent
upon aggravating Gall by every means in his power, short of vulgar
blows, was indisputable; each word he spoke was an insult, a derisive
taunt; and Gall, who had rebelled against this kind of treatment from
Bertie, even when it was implied rather than expressed, was nearly
stung into madness.

"Why don't you have it out, and have done with it?" he passionately
cried, stopping short as they came round in view of the établissement
and its frequenters. "If you keep on like this, you'll provoke me to
kick you to ribbons."

Bertie smiled derisively. Kick _him_ to ribbons! His legs were twice as
long as Gall's, if it came to kicking. Not that Bertie would have
played at that. "There's no chance of having it out with _you_," came
the coolly contemptuous answer. "The only way which gentlemen use to
'have things out,' you don't understand. And you can't be expected to."

Leek espied them from a distance and came running up. It was at this
moment that Mr. Loftus's glasses happened to fall upon them.

"Look at him, Onions," cried Bertie, indicating Gall by a sweep of the
hand that was the very essence of insolent scorn. "He is asking me to
go in for a game of kicking."

"I am saying that I'll kick _you_ if you don't stop your row," cried
Gall, his very lips white with passion. "And so I will."

"I never did see two such fellows as you," was Leek's comment. "You
can't meet without insulting each other. What's come to you both?"

Bertie Loftus wheeled round on his heel in the soft sand, and
confronted Gall closely, face nearly touching face. "Look here, here's
a last chance—will you meet me?"

"Meet you?"

"Yes, meet me. Don't pretend to misunderstand. I have my pistols at the
hotel."

"Perhaps you brought them on purpose," said Gall, with an unmistakable
sneer.

"Perhaps I did," coolly avowed Bertie. "Will you make yourself into a
gentleman for once, if you can, and meet me?"

"Why, you don't think I should be such an idiot as to go out to fight a
duel, do you?" wonderingly cried Gall, while Leek burst into a laugh.
"People don't do that now, Mr. Loftus."

"Gentlemen do. Ask Leek: he's one. Of course, you can't be expected to
understand that. Others shelter their cowardice under plea of the
law—of custom—which is so much sneaking meanness. I knew how it would
be, and that's why I said nothing before. Why, if you did agree to meet
me, you'd steal off by dusk, and give notice to the police."

"Loftus, I am no more a coward than you; but I know what's right and
what's wrong."

"Just so. And shelter yourself under the 'right.' Cowards can but be
true to their nature."

Gall lifted his hand as if he would have struck, but let it fall again.
He was by no means so cool in temper as Bertie Loftus; and a cool
temper is sure to win the day in the end. It is of no use to pursue the
quarrel further; the harsh and abusive words interchanged would not
tend to bring edification; but the result was a very deplorable one.

They separated: Bertie going one way with Leek; Gall remaining on the
sands. Mr. Loftus and Sir Simon came forward to meet Bertie, and both
of them thought him singularly pre-occupied.

That evening Leek went into the Rue Neuve Chaussée, to call upon James
Talbot, and took him out in the moonlight. "Come on the pier," he said:
"it will be quiet there, and I want to speak to you. Have you seen
Gall?" he asked, as they walked along.

"No, but I have had a note from him," answered Talbot. "He says in it
he relies upon me to be his friend. I can't make it out."

They went on to the quiet pier and paced it slowly, the bright moon
dyeing the scene with her lovely light. An open-air concert was being
held in the garden estrade, its coloured lamps flickering, its numerous
listeners flirting and promenading. The garish windows of the
ball-rooms flung their light abroad—what a contrast to that pure light
riding in the sky! Away they pressed to the top of the deserted pier,
out of sight and hearing. The tide had turned and was coming in; the
wind was rising; the waves roared and leaped against the end of the
pier. There Leek told his story: that Gall and Loftus were about to
fight, and he had promised to be Loftus's second; Talbot was to perform
that office for Gall. Talbot could not believe his ears.

"Fight—a—duel!" he uttered, in blank astonishment, leaving a pause
between each word. "Surely they'd not be such fools."

"They will, earl."

"Not with my help, then. I'd put the police on the track first."

"It would do no good," returned Leek, shaking his head: "they'd evade
the police. Look here, Shrewsbury, when fellows are determined to go in
for a thing of this sort, be assured they _will_ go in for it, by hook
or by crook. Loftus, it seems, has been bent on it for some time, and
he has so managed to stir up Gall, that I don't know now which is the
more eager for it of the two."

"And suppose either of them should get killed?—or both?" debated the
earl. "I say, Leek, this is an awful thing."

Leek nodded gravely. A little fishing-boat lay alongside the pier in
the harbour, stranded there in attempting to come in when the late tide
was nearly out; she was just getting afloat now, and two men on board
her were making some bustle, talking in loud tones. Leek and Talbot
stood looking down upon her as if attracted to interest; in reality
they were absorbed in their own thoughts.

"I told them it was an awful business," spoke Leek, in answer to the
last remark, "but I might just as well have said it to the wind. Well,
let us talk it over, old fellow. We must be men for once, and do the
best we can."

Talbot held out no longer. And the two paced about, settling
preliminaries, planning and devising. A matter of this nature seemed to
carry them beyond their years; to take them out of young men into old
ones. Returning to Leek's room at the Hotel des Bains, they got out the
pistols, which Loftus had resigned to Leek, and examined them
preparatory to their being loaded later. By some untoward fate, while
the weapons were in their hands, Brown major, making a call on Leek,
burst into the room. Talbot hurried the pistols out of sight, but the
gentlemen were both so confused that Brown could not help suspecting
something extraordinary was in the wind, and said so. In the
irresistible attraction that gossip presents, they imparted the secret
to him. Mr. Brown sat down on Leek's portmanteau, while he digested the
news.

"I'd not have believed it of Gall," he said at length.

"Nor I at one time," returned Talbot. "Loftus has taunted him into it."

Brown major sat nursing his leg, and revolving possibilities. "Suppose
bad comes of this, Shrewsbury?—what about you two?"

"What do you call bad?"

"Why, if they should get shot—killed. You might be taken up and put in
prison."

Of course it was not a pleasant suggestion. "They'll not give it up,"
said Leek, with a rueful look.

"Suppose _you_ gave up, Onions; you and the earl?"

"They'd get other fellows for seconds, and call us cowards."

"I don't like those French prisons," gloomily observed Brown major. "If
once you get in, you never know when you'll get out. We knew a man who
was put in one for ten years."

"What had he done?"

"He owed some money; nothing else. When he had been in about two years,
his friends in England clubbed together and got him out. My father was
one. You should hear what he says of the place. They serve up the soup
in a bucket."

"Nice!" cried Leek.

"_I'd_ not run the risk of getting into one," resumed Brown, who was
evidently of a prudent turn. "They should fight their duel without me,
first. Why, Onions, what would your mother say?"

Onions turned his head quickly towards the door with a somewhat scared
look, as if he feared Lady Sophia might be coming in then.

"All you have to do, Brown, is just to hold your tongue, and respect
the confidence we've given you," returned Leek. "Whatever consequences
come of it, you won't be called upon to answer for them."

"Right, old fellow," cheerfully answered Brown, who was really one of
the last to interfere unpleasantly. "You know I'm safe; I was only
thinking of you two. The thing shall go on without any interruption
from me."

And the thing did go on. As you will find if you read further.

"Somewhere on the heights out beyond Napoleon's column, I think,"
suggested Leek in a whisper to Talbot, as they were separating for the
night. "I'll go with you to pick out a snug spot to-morrow. You'll not
fail us at the last, earl!"

"I'll not fail you, Onions. Good night."



CHAPTER XV.

Dick's Bath.

Not on the exposed heights by Napoleon's column, but a short way beyond
it, down in a non-frequented hollow, the meeting-spot for the duel was
fixed. Onions and the earl went out when breakfast was over the next
day, and chose it after due deliberation. They explored some fields
over at Capécure, beyond the lines of rail; but, for some reason known
only to themselves, rejected that side of the town. Gall and Loftus
appeared not to care where the spot might be, provided it were
somewhere. The time was to be sunrise on the following morning, or as
soon after it as they could get out of the hotel and make their way to
the spot.

Does it not seem ridiculously absurd to be recording this? But I can
only relate what took place; and college students come to the age of
these had accomplished such an end before. You may deem that Leek or
Talbot ought to have warned the police; but they did not. I think that
day added some years to the experience of their lives.

And the two principals—Gall and Loftus—what kind of sensations do you
suppose were theirs? Did they look forward to their possible
fate—death—with calmness? Was the unruffled exterior, shown to the
world, a type of the unruffled mind within? No, you cannot suppose it.
Loftus was perhaps the least troubled of the two, for his was the more
composed and easy nature; but each had his share of—anticipation.

Why, how could it be otherwise? Try and realize the situation to your
minds, my boys; to make it your own. With the rising of the morrow's
sun, you are going out to be shot at yourself and to shoot at another.
Before that sun sets, you may be lying cold and dead; your life in this
world over; your soul before its Maker. It is very solemn; almost too
solemn to write of. When men go out to fight duels, they are
represented to be full of inward bravery, as poets have sung and
friends have boasted. Never you believe it. Or, if it be so, they have
been living without God in the world, callous to the never-ending
future. Ah, no! Physically brave, as to the possible flesh wound,
perhaps; but _not_ brave as to the consequences it may involve—a sudden
rush into eternity, uncalled.

Leek and James Talbot were here and there and everywhere—men of
importance that day. The fixing upon the meeting-spot took them the
whole of the morning. Next they had an interview with the two
principals conjointly, and, to give them justice, did all that argument
could do to induce the affair to be abandoned. Mr. Brown, fit to burst
with the great secret confided to him, and of which he could not talk,
went to every conceivable corner of the town in search of the two other
sharers of the secret, and went in vain. He found them at length, when
the afternoon was passing, at the Hotel des Bains, in Leek's chamber.
As on the previous night, they had the pistols out, and this time they
did not hurry them away.

"Well, how's it going?" demanded Brown, breathless with the wind and
his own haste.

"How should it be going?" retorted Leek, not pleased at being pursued
by Brown major like this.

"Is it off?" resumed Brown, wiping his hot face. "It's such a wind,
Onions."

"No, it's not off, and it's not likely to be off. Lock up the pistols
for now, Shrewsbury."

"But it's awful, you know," continued Brown, mounting the foot-rail of
the bed, and placing himself astride it. "When I got up this morning it
seemed to me too improbable a thing really to take place. Suppose one
of 'em gets killed? I say, Shrewsbury, couldn't you persuade them off
it?"

Lord Shrewsbury gave his head an emphatic shake. "We have been at both
of them, Gall and Bertie, and tried everything tryable. You might as
well speak to two posts. Let it drop, Brown; it's of no good bothering
us."

Brown let it drop, and did it with a good grace: he was powerless.
"Have you engaged a surgeon?" he asked.

"A surgeon? No."

"But you'll have to take one. A surgeon's a necessary appendage to
duels. Sometimes each side takes its own."

Singular perhaps to say, this "necessary appendage," as Brown major put
it, had not been thought of by the seconds. They looked at one another
in the pause that ensued. Onions broke it, more emphatically than
politely.

"To speak to a French doctor might blow the whole thing. He'd go right
off to the police."

"But you can't take two fellows out to shoot at each other without
having a surgeon at hand," debated Brown major, opening his eyes in his
simple manner. "Don't you see it, Shrewsbury? Suppose they got wounded.
While you were running to find a doctor, one of 'em might bleed to
death."

"Both might, for the matter of that," acknowledged Lord Shrewsbury,
tilting himself against the tall secretaire, taller even than himself.
"Brown's right, Onions. It's odd we never thought of it."

Onions turned to the window, open to the unsavoury harbour, and stood
there in silence. He did not see his way clear on this new point. Not a
single doctor in the town was known to him; every one of them might
prove a traitor. And, moreover, he had some private doubts of his
French, did it come to a delicate negotiation.

"Look here," exclaimed Brown major, briskly, a happy thought striking
him; "would not my brother Bob do to go out with you? He is at St.
George's Hospital, you know, takes his turn to go round with the
surgeons as a dresser. He has his case of instruments over here, and I
know he'd be true."

The suggestion was seized upon, and Brown major flew off and brought
back his brother. Mr. Robert Brown—a young man of twenty, with a fresh,
good-natured, round face—affirmed that he could bind up wounds and
restore fainting patients to life with the most skilled hand at St.
George's; ay, and extract a bullet, if it came to that. He gave his
promise to keep the secret, and seemed to look forward to the affair as
a piece of delightful fun, rather than one of solemnity and danger.

This settled, Leek and Talbot went down on the port, deeming it well to
show themselves to their friends, lest suspicion should be excited.
When we have a momentous secret on hand, you know, we are apt to fear
the world may miraculously discover it. Gall and Loftus were both
there, on the plage, before the établissement. Indeed it seemed that
half the town had gathered on the port, here and in various other
parts, to watch the turbulent sea. None could have discerned anything
unusual in the demeanour of the two young men, soon to be the
combatants in a great tragedy. Both were a little silent, but that was
all.

The wind had been rising higher and higher since the previous day.
These London inland people called it a hurricane, and gazed on the sea
with an interest that partook of awe. It was indeed very rough—sailors
might have said half a gale; but the boat from Folkestone had ventured
out, and, after a long and difficult passage, was trying to make the
harbour. On the pier, people unused to this could not stand without
difficulty, and chose rather the safer watching parts on the plage.
Some of the boys were gathered on the sands, near to that little yellow
house, the Maison de Sauvetage—rather an ominous name to-day.

"I'll bet you five shillings that she gets in, and that I take my
bath," said Dick Loftus, hot in dispute; for they had been telling him
he could not attempt that dangerous sea to-day, and different opinions
existed as to whether the steamer would or would not get in. "And
here's the five shillings to deposit," added Dick, proud of having so
much riches to display, a most unusual thing with him. "Come now,
_you_, Onions; you needn't laugh like that."

Onions was laughing to show his ease. He had an important rôle to
maintain, and the eyes of the world were upon him.

But for the white fleecy clouds dashing after each other across the
blue sky, the day would have been particularly bright and clear. The
waves of the receding tide were coming in with a high white froth,
breaking ere they touched their extent of way, and lifting their
foaming heads aloft. George Paradyne was talking to a man belonging to
the "Société de Naufrage," and the rest were listening to the boy's
pure French.

"You have not got the boat out to-day," he observed, alluding to the
rescue boat that is always in close attendance during bathing hours.

"She's not needed," crustily returned the man, who seemed a crusty
subject. "What bathers would venture into this sea?"

George Paradyne glanced at Dick, as much as to say, Hear that. But Dick
chose to take no notice, and the society man walked away.

"If this wind does not go down the meeting will have to be put off,"
whispered Leek, in an undertone, to Bertie Loftus. "The charge might be
blown off at a tangent, and take us seconds instead of you.

"Don't be fool enough to talk of it here, Onions," came the rebuking
answer; and Bertie caught up a glass and looked at the boat. She was
labouring hard; her two white funnels throwing themselves, as it
seemed, from side to side, her nose pitching awfully.

But she made her way, and drew near the port at last. People changed
their places to watch her in. Mr. Dick Loftus, in secret connivance
with himself, was left alone, and he seized on the opportunity. "Danger
in bathing to-day indeed!" contemptuously thought Dick. "I'll teach
them better."

Not very many minutes, and all at once a cry of anguish broke from the
treacherous waters. The boys turned at it; they came running from far
and near. Mrs. Loftus, Mrs. Gall, who had much ado to keep their
petticoats down over their crinolines, looked in the direction and
wondered what the cry meant; and Mr. Loftus came sauntering up. Like
his son Bertie he rarely hurried. Sir Simon trotted in more quickly.
Another cry!—a cry as from one hopelessly drowning.

"It's Dick! it's Dick!" shrieked Bertie. "Where's the boat? Where's the
man?"

Ah, then was commotion. Dick it was, who had been experimenting on the
waves on his own account. They ran hither and thither, shouting for the
man, calling for the boat; but the man did not answer, and the boat was
not on service to-day. While they were running like madmen, all in
confusion, Mr. Loftus stood in helpless despair—a very incapable man,
he, in any sudden emergency.

But see! While they have been crying and calling, another has been
doing. Some one who threw off his superfluous clothing, plunged into
the waves, and is nearing the drowning boy. He gains—he gains upon him!
He has him in his hands now, and is turning to battle back to shore
again; and a silent prayer is going up from many a heart to heaven.
There ensues a pause of agonized suspense; and then a low murmur of
thankfulness, gradually rising into a shout of admiration, breaks out
from the spectators. Sir Simon Orville fairly dances in his glee, while
the tears run down his cheeks.

"Who is it that has saved him?" asked Mr. Loftus, feeling as if the one
half of his substance, the whole gratitude of his remaining years,
might well be given in recompense. The beaming generous grey eyes of
the rescuer met his in answer, and he knew them for George Paradyne's.

Mr. Dick was conveyed in rather an ignominious fashion to the yellow
Maison de Sauvetage, followed by a long tail, who were shut out
unceremoniously. Brown major's brother, announcing himself in obscure
French as a "doctoor," was allowed to enter. The attendants placed Dick
in one of the beds that the room contained, and a French surgeon,
springing it was hard to say whence, appeared upon the scene. But no
vigorous means of resuscitation were resorted to, simply because the
patient, who was not very far gone, revived without them. George
Paradyne, meanwhile, was quietly dressing himself, throwing off thanks
and homage as he best could. Sir Simon Orville, however, would not be
thrown off. He took possession of him and carried him back in triumph
to the Hotel du Nord to dinner.

George was shown to a chamber to brush his still wet hair, when Mr.
Loftus came in, and held out his hand.

"How can I show my gratitude to you for what you have done?"

"Oh, sir, thank you; but it does not deserve any particular gratitude,"
was the boy's laughing answer, as he resigned perforce his right hand,
while his left held the hair-brush. "I am so very glad I happened to be
there."

"Where did you learn to swim like that?"

"In the West Indies, when I was a little fellow. Papa's regiment was
quartered there. We had an old black servant, who taught me. He used to
carry me to the water, and let me sport in it like an alligator. Few
can swim as I do."

"I have been very distant to you since I came here. You cannot but have
observed it," resumed Mr. Loftus, making the confession as an atonement
in his impulse of generosity; and indeed he had very markedly held
himself aloof from the boy in his pride and condemnation. "This has
made me ashamed of myself."

"Don't say anything, sir. I quite understood it. If my father had been
the rogue you believed, it was only what I, his son, deserved."

"As I believed," repeated Mr. Loftus, sad commiseration in his tone.
"All the world believed it, George."

"I know they did, sir."

"Well, it is not what I can enter upon with you; and I begin now to see
how unjust my feeling to you has been. I—"

"But I wish you would enter upon it, sir; I wish you would let me say
how _certain_ I am that my father was innocent," interrupted George,
his face becoming flushed with a crimson glow, his eyes raised full and
earnest to those of Mr. Loftus. "I was only a young lad when it
happened, between twelve and thirteen; but I was old enough to judge.
Why, Mr. Loftus, but for feeling myself free of that inheritance of
guilt, could I have gone on bravely as I have, and done battle with the
difficulties thrown in my path—the contempt I have had to stand? At
Orville College there has been a dead-set against me from the first—an
awful opposition; and I am quite sure that past charge against my
father is the foundation of it, though it may not be generally known to
the school. When I feel inclined to give in, beaten and hopeless, I say
to myself, 'He was innocent, and I'll bear up in spite of all this for
his sake;' and that gives me pluck to fight on again."

"Did you know the particulars of the case?" asked Mr. Loftus, admiring
the brave and hopeful nature, in spite of his wonder that any such
opinion on the late Captain Paradyne's case could for one moment
obtain, even with his son.

"Yes, every one of them," replied George. "I don't suppose there was a
single item that did not fix itself on my heart. The sudden
discovery—made first of all by you, sir—that something seemed wrong,
and then the looking into it privately by yourself and Mr. Trace, and
your finding out the frauds, and the arrest of my father. If he had
only lived out the investigation, he would have disproved the charge."

"You wish me to speak of this unreservedly to you, I see, as if you
were a stranger," observed Mr. Loftus; in answer, as it seemed, to the
boy's vehemence.

"Yes, sir, if you please. I used to wish I might speak to you of it at
the time, and get you to look at it in the light I saw it."

"Then, knowing the details, _how_ could you, and how can you, fancy
your father was not guilty? Remember, my boy, you have asked for this,
and I wish to speak with all kindness. He was the only one connected
with the office who could have done it. The clerks had not the
opportunity."

"Who did do it I can't say, though I have a doubt; but my father it was
not," answered George. "I'll tell you a little matter that happened,
sir; not much, you'll say. A week or so before the explosion, I was
doing my Latin exercise one evening in the study at home, when papa
came in and sat down behind me. He was very quiet, and I forgot he was
there; but when I got up to put my books away I saw him. He was leaning
forward with his elbow on his knee, pulling at his whiskers, as he
would do when in deep thought; and he must have been like that, quite
still, all the time. 'What are you thinking of, papa?' I said; 'what's
the matter?' He came out of his reverie then, and put his hand upon my
shoulder in his fond manner. 'The matter's this, George,' he said,
'that I have a suspicion something wrong is going on in the office, and
I cannot make out how, where, or what. I am not up to business, and
that's the truth. Either of my partners would find it out in no time.'
'Why don't you tell them, papa?' I asked. 'I am waiting till the sixth
of next month, George,' he said; 'that may put things straighter than,
to my mind, they are. If it does not, I shall speak to Mr. Trace.' But,
you know," added George, his great eyes suddenly becoming wet, "that
before the sixth of the next month—September—he was dead. Mr. Loftus, I
could stake my own life that he was sincere when he said that."

Mr. Loftus made no comment. It was the sixth of each month that they
used to balance up their accounts.

"After he was taken back to prison the day of the examination,"
continued George, "they let me go in to see him. I was with Mr. Hopper,
and he took me in. I burst out crying. Papa laid hold of my hand, very
grave and kind; 'George, I am perfectly innocent,' he said, 'do not
distress yourself. I am a little bewildered at present, it's true; and
I must understand what the frauds have been, and how committed, before
I can refute them. You remember my saying to you, George, that I had a
doubt; I wish I had spoken at once, instead of waiting to see whether I
was right or wrong. I wish I had telegraphed to the Isle of Wight for
Mr. Loftus, and had the whole thing investigated. But that must be done
now. Tell your mamma from me, that it is all right; tell her it is a
mistake, or something worse, on the part of those who have charged me.
My boy, you have never had cause to blush for your father, and you have
none now.' I was sent out then, Hopper telling me to wait outside for
him, while he spoke with papa. He came out soon, and I went home, and—"

George Paradyne broke down. He leaned his head on the dressing-table
and fairly sobbed. Mr. Loftus touched him gently, and said a soothing
word.

"In an hour or two after that, word was brought that he was dead,"
presently resumed George. "He died with the suspicion of the guilt upon
him, and nobody cared to refute it. I talked to Hopper till he said I
worried him, asking him to take it up. I went and saw Mr. Trace, and
told him all this, but he only shook his head, and spoke kindly to me,
and said there was no doubt. I knew there was no doubt, but it was the
other way; no doubt of his innocence."

"Will you let me ask you one question, George? If your father was not
guilty, who, in your opinion, was?"

"I don't much like to say," was the answer. "And at the best, it is but
a doubt."

"I think you had better say it."

"I fancied it was Hopper."

"Hopper!" repeated Mr. Loftus, lifting his head quickly. "No; that was
impossible."

"His manner made me doubt him at first: it was very singular. I am sure
that he knew who was guilty; and I think it was himself. And then, sir,
you know he disappeared very soon after."

"Yes; that is, he disappeared from Liverpool. He may have taken a
clerkship in some London house. But Hopper could not have been guilty.
There's the dinner bell. Once more, let me thank you for the service
you have rendered my boy Richard."

George Paradyne followed Mr. Loftus down stairs, conscious that his
words had made no sort of impression upon him. It was always so:
himself against the world. Even his own mother, his father's wife, had
never listened to this persistently expressed belief in the innocence.
Mr. Loftus knew the theory to be a mistaken one; but he thought none
the worse of the boy for entertaining it.



CHAPTER XVI.

The Duel.

The dinner-table was full. Old Felix, the head waiter, had caused a
separate table to be laid for the party of which Sir Simon Orville was
regarded as the head; it included the Galls, the Loftus's, young
Paradyne, and a friend of Mr. Gall's, named Bouncely, just arrived by
the train from Paris; all, in fact, save the resuscitated Dick, who had
been brought home, and was upstairs between a few hot blankets.

It was a very singular thing that the conversation at this side table
of theirs should turn on duelling. Bertie Loftus, recounting it later
to Onions, called it a "droll chance." But nothing happens by chance in
life. Mr. Bouncely, a ponderous gentleman in black, with gold
spectacles, a huge bunch of seals hanging down from a chain in a
by-gone fashion, and who was an alderman or sheriff, or something grand
and great of that nature in the City, had recently been enjoying a
brief sojourn at Frankfort-on-the-Maine. He was brim-full of a duel
just fought there; had not, as he expressed it, got over the horror
yet.

"It arose out of a quarrel at the gaming-table; as quite three parts of
these duels do arise," said he, tasting his fish. "Two young fellows of
most respectable connections, students yet, one training for medicine,
the other for the bar, went out with their seconds in the early
morning, and shot each other. One died on the spot, the other is lamed
for life."

"Ugh!" exclaimed Sir Simon. "One can hardly believe such a thing in
these sensible matter-of-fact days." And Gall and Loftus, seated at
opposite corners of the table, glanced accidentally at each other, and
dropped their eyes again.

"The one, killed, was an only son—an only child—and his mother is a
widow," continued Mr. Bouncely, bending his spectacles on something
just placed before him, if by good luck they could distinguish what the
compound might be. "She has been nearly out of her mind since; all her
enjoyment in life is gone. It is very awful when you reflect upon it."

"Poor thing; yes, it is indeed," interposed Mrs. Loftus with
compassion. "Every mother must feel for her."

"Ma'am, I spoke of the thing itself; not of the poor mother. _That_ is
not the awful part of it."

William Gall, passing the water, which somebody asked for, happened to
catch sight of his mother's bent eyes; bent to hide the tears that had
gathered in them.

"I was alluding to _him_, ma'am; the young man himself," resumed Mr.
Bouncely, willing that Mrs. Loftus should be fully enlightened. _"What
is his future fate to be?_ Where is he now? _now_, at this very time,
let us ask, when we are left on the earth here, eating a good dinner?
God placed him in the world to do his duty usefully and faithfully, and
to fit himself for a better; not to hurry himself out of it at his own
will and pleasure, a suicide."

"A suicide," repeated Mrs. Loftus, who was apt to take things
literally. "I thought the other killed him."

"Why, dear me, madam, what can you call it but a case of suicide; what
else is it?" asked the City man. "They stand up deliberately, the pair
of them, to shoot, and be shot at; each one, no doubt, hoping and
striving to get the other dead first. I should not like to rush into
the presence of my Maker uncalled for, with murder on my hand, and
passion in my heart."

"Ah, no!" shuddered Mrs. Loftus. "It is very dreadful."

"He was about half an hour dying; perfectly sensible and conscious that
life was ebbing away fast, past hope," resumed Mr. Bouncely. "What
could his sensations have been as he lay there?—what awful despair must
have reached him; what bitter repentance! It makes one shudder to think
of it."

It seemed as though Mr. Bouncely were imparting somewhat of his own
strong feeling on the subject to the table. And, in truth, such
reflections were enough to make even the careless shudder.

"What would he have given, in that one half hour of agony, to undo his
act of folly, that poor young dying man!" he continued. "He was a
Lutheran, and had been religiously trained: 'the child of many
prayers,' said a friend of the mother to me. Ah, what petitions of
imploring anguish, as he lay in his remorse, must have gone up to his
Saviour for pardon! for grace even for him."

And so the conversation continued, this duel being the topic to the end
of dinner. It seemed to Gall and Loftus that Mr. Bouncely kept it up on
purpose: when anybody strayed to a different subject, he recurred to
this. As they were crossing the court-yard after rising, to go into the
public drawing-room, or to their rooms up stairs, as inclination led,
some one touched Gall on the arm. It was Talbot, who had been waiting
under the porte-cochère. Gall stepped aside with him, apparently just
taking a look at the street and at the library windows opposite,
lighted up.

"I thought I'd come and tell you, Gall, that the wind's gone down,"
whispered Talbot. "I have been on the pier with Onions, and it's
nothing like as high; so there will be no impediment on that score. We
got talking to an old fisherman, and he says it will be calm by
morning. How's Dick?"

"Oh, he's all right," answered Gall, speaking more as if he were in a
dream than awake. At least, it sounded so, and Talbot glanced at him.

"Are you going to the ball to-night?" asked Talbot, the whirling by of
a carriage with flashing lamps probably suggesting the remembrance of
the ball to him.

"No," said Gall; and for the life of him he could not have helped the
sudden sense of the general unfitness of things that just then came
over him. Balls in one place, duels and death in another.

"Onions is gone. His mother made him go. At least he's gone in to dress
for it. She wants to be there once, just to see what it's like, she
says. Onions was very mad, but he couldn't get off it."

"Ah, yes," answered Gall, thinking how much happier Onions was than
himself. "I must go in, earl; I promised Dick I'd sit with him after
dinner. Good night."

Talbot put out his hand; an unusual occurrence, for the college boys
were not given to ceremony between themselves, either at meeting or
parting. Gall responded to it mechanically.

"I say, Gall," he said, as he held it, and his voice dropped to a sort
of solemn, concerned tone, as if _this_, that he was about to say, were
serious and what had gone before was froth, "must this go on?"

"Must what go on?"

"The business of to-morrow morning."

"Why you know it must."

"I don't like it."

"Neither do I particularly."

"Then put an end to it before mischief comes."

"How?"

"Why, shake hands; you and Loftus. You are both good fellows, as all
the world knows. It's a miserable thing that you should quarrel and
bring things to this pitch."

"I have not sought the quarrel. Loftus has forced it upon me."

"Well, you did knock him down, you know. Go to him and apologize for
_that_, and perhaps between you things may be made up."

"And be branded by him afterwards as a coward—as no gentleman!" was
Gall's irritable and indignant answer. "Talbot, there's not another
word to be said. This was forced upon me in the first instance; but I
have taken it up, and, having done so, there's no retreat."

"Then of course I can say no more; but I wish it were otherwise. At
five o'clock in the morning, I'll be at the door here waiting for you.
Good night. I've got a bet with Onions that he oversleeps himself. What
fun if he should! He brings the pistols."

Talbot walked away in the direction of the Hotel des Bains; he had to
see Leek yet; and Gall went up stairs to Dick's chamber in pursuance of
his promise. Dick, however, proved to be in a sound sleep, so he turned
to his mother's sitting-room. Mrs. Gall was seated at one end of the
crimson-velvet sofa, complaining of a headache.

He had a headache, too, or perhaps it was a heartache; and he sat down
on the sofa by her, and let his head fall upon her shoulder. Mrs. Gall
was a little shrimp of a woman, with a great deal of love for her
children and gentleness for the world in general, although the end of
her nose was so sharp and red.

"Are you not going down to the salon, mother?"

"No, dear. They will send me some tea here."

"Nor to the rooms?"

"Not to-night, William. Papa's going, I think, with the rest. You are
going too, I suppose?"

"No; I'll stay at home with you."

"Nay, my dear," remonstrated Mrs. Gall, supposing his motive was to
keep her company; for she was accustomed to much consideration from her
children, as a gentle, loving mother is sure to get. "I shall be quite
well alone. You must not deprive yourself of the evening's pleasure for
me. This ball to-night is the chief one of the season."

"I am not going," he answered. "I did not intend it, mamma."

She lifted her hand as he lay there, to push the hair from his brow,
with a fond movement, and stooped to kiss him.

"How hot your forehead is, William! Have you the headache, too?"

"Not much. A little."

"I think the wind brought on mine to-day," observed Mrs. Gall. "That,
and the fright connected with Dick Loftus. William, that's a brave boy,
that young Paradyne. I'm so glad we brought him."

"First-rate."

"I cannot think why the college should dislike him: it gets more and
more of a puzzle to me. He is very good-looking. Did you notice his
beautiful eyes and his flushed face when Mr. Bouncely was giving us
that narrative at dinner? He was quite a picture then. By the way,
William, what a most shocking thing that was!"

"Not pleasant."

"Not pleasant!" repeated Mrs. Gall, rather shocked at the apparently
light tone. "Can you imagine anything more dreadful? A mistake, or
calamity, so long as it is confined to this world, is not beyond the
pale of remedy; but—when it comes to rushing into the next! William, I
am sure that thinking of that poor mistaken youth has made my head
worse."

William Gall gave no particular reply; his mother thought he was
sleepy, and said no more. Sleepy! with the consciousness on his soul of
what he was about to do! with the awful amount of responsibility,
already making itself heard, that was weighing him down! There was no
such blessing as sleep for him.

It might be the last time he should ever, in life, be thus with his
mother. It might be his last evening on earth. Oh, life looked very
fair, now that he was possibly about to quit it. Scenes of the past and
present, pleasant realities of existence, seemed to come tumbling into
his mind with strange persistency. The "old house at home," with its
home comforts and home affections; the days at Orville College with
their hopes and interests; the future career he had been rather given
in anticipation, to carve out for himself. Why, what a mockery it
seemed! Here was he, a candidate (though he had never much thought he
should get it) for the Orville prize—long before the time for bestowing
it came, he might be cold in his grave, half forgotten! What a mockery
seemed all things, if it came to that: his education at all; his
training; nay, even his having been born—were this to be the ending!
The more serious, solemn part that Mr. Bouncely had enlarged on in the
other case, of what might come after death, William Gall simply dared
not glance at. No wonder that his brow grew hotter and hotter.

"I'll go to my room, I think," he quietly said, rising, as his
reflections became keen and more keen, his assumption of calm
equanimity simply intolerable. "Good night, mother, dear."

She was surprised at the abrupt salutation; at the long, passionate
kiss he pressed upon her lips; at the yearning, singular love in his
eyes. But before she could say anything, he was gone. Gone to shut
himself in his own room, with his troubles and his fear. Not fear of
the shot itself or the pain it might bring; William Gall was of a
sufficiently brave nature; but fear of the results that might follow in
its wake—of the ETERNITY he might be flying into. And yet, so powerful
upon him was received custom, the conventionalities of the world; so
great a dread had he, in common with others, of being pointed at as a
coward, that he let the thing go on, and would not stop it. An almost
irrepressible wish had come over him, while he was with his mother, to
tell the truth to her; but that might not be, and he thrust it back
again.

And so good night to you, Mr. William Gall! Pleasant dreams! Bertie
Loftus was getting over the evening in a different way. Bertie, in full
dress, was exhibiting his handsome self at the rooms. He talked, he
laughed, he danced; he was so unusually active, so unusually gay, that
Raymond Trace, with his unfailing discernment, wondered what Bertie had
been about, and knew he was only killing care. Bertie denied it when
Trace asked; _there_ was his care, that split he had made in his
left-hand glove. "Wretched kid that it must be," he said, with a light
laugh. With a light laugh; with an assumption of careless gaiety: but
nevertheless every pulse in Mr. Bertie's inward heart was beating with
something that was more akin to pain than pleasure; and the loud notes
of the music seemed to be so many pistol-shots banging off in the air.

"Be on the ground in time, Loftus," whispered Mr. Leek, as he passed in
the wake of the Lady Sophia's scarlet cloak, who had soon had enough of
it, and was leaving early. "Five o'clock sharp, mind."

"All right, Leek." And subsequently when Bertie Loftus himself took his
departure, he and his party, a couple of coachfuls, and rattled along
the port, he looked out at the glistening water and wondered whether he
should ever see it again. He might wish the morrow over; he might wish
what was to take place in it could be stopped; but that was impossible.
Pride was in the ascendant with both him and Gall, you see; and of
course gentlemen cannot act against the _convenances_ of society.

The morning rose; warm, bright, clear; with a stiffish breeze yet, but
nothing to intercept work or pistol shots. Gall found his way out of
the hotel, and saw the faithful Talbot waiting, his back propped
against the shutters at the parfumeur's opposite. Gall felt in better
spirits than he had been last night, as most of us do when light has
chased away the darkness. And, perhaps, he was willing to show himself
gay.

"Good morning, Shrewsbury! How long have you been there?"

"Only five minutes. I say, is it not a glorious morning? Couldn't have
a better," cried the earl. He seemed in spirits too. It was well to put
a good face on what could not now be avoided.

They walked to the appointed place, commencing the route by the Rue
d'Assas, and so upwards. It was a good step, even when they had left
the town behind. Carriages had been proposed the previous day; but they
were afraid to engage any lest the affair should get known. These two
were on the spot first. Certainly the seconds had chosen well; the
place was appropriate enough to what had to be done on it. It was a bit
of flat, low ground, where the grass was short, lying rather in a
hollow, and sufficiently secluded. The sea sparkled in the distance
over the heights; the open country was stretched out on the other hand;
Boulogne lay below. A very few minutes, and Mr. Leek appeared in full
spirits, carrying the case of pistols.

"How are you, Gall, old fellow?" he asked, gingerly depositing the case
on the ground. "I'm not long after you, you see, Shrewsbury. Where's
Loftus?"

"Not come yet," answered the earl. He put his arm within Leek's, and
drew him off a little way, talking of the preliminaries in an
undertone; not so low, however, but that Gall might have heard had he
chosen to listen. Gall sat down on a gentle ridge of the land, and
waited. Soon the others came back again; Onions remarking with an
offhand manner, as if he wanted to show himself at ease, that they
should have a broiling day.

They waited on; waited and waited. Expectation grew into wonder. Loftus
and Mr. Bob Brown had arranged to come together, but neither came. Had
Loftus's valiant courage deserted him at the eleventh hour? Hardly; but
Gall felt gratified that he was not the one to be tardy.

As the clocks were striking six, a shout was heard, and three figures
bounded on to the heights. Brown major was the first—and _his_ company
had not been bargained for; on the contrary, he had been expressly told
by the seconds he was not to come. But the meeting was a great deal too
tempting to be withstood: as Brown major remarked, he might never have
the luck to get such a chance again. Bertie Loftus, in a white heat,
began explaining their unfortunate detention. He shared a double-bedded
room at the hotel with Dick, and just as he was about to get up and
dress himself, Sir Simon Orville, anxious for Dick's health, walked in
without ceremony, sat himself down on Dick's bed, talking, and never
(as Bertie phrased it) went out again.

"I _couldn't_ get up while he was there," cried Bertie, speaking
savagely in his mortification; "it might have betrayed the whole thing.
You should have seen the Guy he was; he had on grey drawers, with a
white stripe across 'em, and a long tassel hanging behind from his
cotton nightcap."

There was no time to be lost. It was already too late by a good hour,
and Leek and Talbot bestirred themselves with a will. The only one of
the party who looked grave, somewhat unwilling, was Mr. Robert Brown.
What had been great fun in prospective, was very serious now that the
time for action came; and the young doctor felt the responsibility that
his two or three years of seniority gave him. Putting out of view the
possible consequences, he saw that a large share of the blame might
afterwards rest upon him.

"I wish you would make it up, gentlemen," he urged.

Nobody listened to him. The seconds were busy pacing the ground,
looking to the pistols, holding communion in an undertone. Gall and
Loftus were exchanging a civil sentence now and then, to show their
indifference. Both were outwardly calm, though perhaps it strained
their nerves to appear so; Brown major, with a scared look in his round
eyes, went dodging about restlessly, and rather wished, than otherwise,
that he had not come.

"All's ready," cried the seconds, returning to them. Of course they
knew very little, if anything, of the executive of such meetings, but
were doing things according to their best judgment. "We are putting you
sideways to the sun, or else one of you must have had it right in his
face," said the earl.

"Do we keep our hats on?" asked Gall.

Now here was a poser. Nobody could answer the question, or say what the
custom was. Talbot thought they should be on, Leek thought they should
be off. While the duellists stood in indecision, the young surgeon
settled it.

"Keep them on," said he. "What does custom signify one way or the
other?"

"You must shake hands," said Onions. But he had no sooner spoken than
Lord Shrewsbury whispered to him that it was prize-fighters who shook
hands, not duellists. However the thing was done; and, as Mr. Brown
remarked by the other doubt, it could not matter.

They were placed facing each other, twenty paces between them, and a
pistol handed to each. Ah, how little Bertie Loftus, when he bought
those pistols in his pride a year ago, dreamt of the grief they would
bring him to! Both of them, Gall and Loftus, were now as white as
chalk. The surgeon stood on the side with a rueful face and compressed
lips; Brown major removed himself to a safe distance: with those
inexperienced shooters there was no knowing what direction the bullets
might take; and the seconds as yet were standing close, each behind his
man.

"Present!" said Leek, in so low a tone that the doctor did not hear it.
Onions might be nervous.

"Fire!" came the next word, after a moment's pause; and that was called
out loud enough.

"Not yet! not yet!" shouted Robert Brown in an agony, for the two
inexperienced seconds had not removed themselves from the place of
danger. "Come away first for the love of heaven!"

He spoke too late. The combatants had fired, each his pistol; the
reports crashing out loud enough in the morning air. There ensued some
momentary confusion, and Robert Brown's eyes were, so to say, dazzled
by anxiety and fear. When his sight came to him, he saw that the rash
seconds were uninjured; but the duellists had both fallen, and were
lying on the ground, their white faces turned up to the full blaze of
the August sun.



CHAPTER XVII.

Mr. Leek in Convulsions.

Yes: both the duellists had fallen, and lay on their backs, their white
faces upwards, and the pistols beside them. The seconds were standing
over them with long chins of horror, and the surgeon came striding up.
Gall was nearest to him, and he halted there first.

"Where has it struck you?" he asked, very gently. Gall, just able to
speak, faintly said he did not know. He thought in the small of the
back. But this was impossible according to the doctor's views. The
bullet might have come out at the back, but it certainly could not have
gone in that way. As Gall lay there, hardly knowing whether he was dead
or not, and the glorious sun shining right into his eyes, an awful
remorse came over him. Now that it was too late, he saw how easy it
would have been to refuse to fight, even at the risk of being called a
coward. While some cast that reproach on him, others would have lauded
him for his plain good sense. How fair, how very fair the world looked,
now that he was about to quit it!

"Let's see," said Mr. Robert Brown, intending to turn him on his face,
but attempting it slowly and gingerly. Truth to say, the operator in
embryo felt himself in a bit of a predicament: he had never extracted a
ball in his life, and was rather undecided which way to begin. Gall
groaned.

"Why, there's no sign of any injury here," exclaimed the doctor, in a
tone of surprised pleasure, as Gall went over in a lump. "The coat's
not touched. See if you can get up."

It was what Gall, beginning to recover the shock and his senses
together, was already doing. Mr. Brown took his hand to help him, but
there seemed no need for it. He was up, and stood as well as ever he
had stood in his life. He walked a few paces and found he _could_ walk.
The surgeon critically passed his eyes and fingers over him, and came
to the conclusion that—he was not injured.

"You are not hurt; you were not struck at all," he cried, and the tears
actually came into Mr. Bob's Brown's eyes, so glad and great was the
relief.

"The bullet must have passed you."

He, Robert Brown, flew off to the other wounded man, Bertie Loftus.
Bertie was on his feet too, under convoy of Onions and Brown major.
Very much the same ceremony had been gone through with him. A moment or
two he had lain as one dead, he also having been struck (as he
believed) in the small of the back, but had got upon his feet without
help, though with much condolence.

"Why, you are not hurt, either!" shouted Mr. Robert Brown, in his
astonishment. "Where on earth can the bullets have gone?"

It was quite true; they were _not_ hurt. As to the bullets—they must
have gone somewhere.

"What made you fall?" reiterated the surgeon, whose delight at this
result caused his face to glow with a red like the early rising sun.
Neither of them could say. Each thought he had been struck in the back;
each had felt the shot there. Bertie repeated this aloud: Gall said
nothing. Gall was wondering how he could ever be thankful enough to
Heaven that he was in the world yet. How fair it was! how lovely looked
the line of horizon over the dark-blue sea!

"I—don't—think—there—has—been—any—duel," slowly spoke Mr. Robert Brown,
when he revolved matters. "Did they forget to load the pistols?"

"If there has been no real duel they must be put up again," volubly
interposed Brown major, quite forgetting, in this agreeable
termination, his recent fears.

"Where was the good of all the bother? Where's the use of going in for
satisfaction if you don't get satisfaction? My heart alive, who's
this?"

Who indeed! Brown major's startled question was caused by the
appearance of a stranger on the scene. He came puffing up at a sharp
pace, and Bertie nearly dropped into his shoes at the apparition: for
it was his uncle, Sir Simon. And Sir Simon had heard the report of the
pistols too, and took in the truth at a glance. The young surgeon, some
view perhaps of self-exculpation in his mind, explained the affair in a
few brief words, and dwelt upon the fact that no harm had come of it.

"You two wicked ones!" exclaimed the really shocked and scared Sir
Simon to Gall and Loftus. "Give me up those pistols, sir," he sternly
continued to his nephew. "They shall never be in your possession
again."

It was easy to say, Give me he pistols. But the pistols had
disappeared, and Bertie's second with them. Before Sir Simon was seen,
or thought of, Mr. Leek had hastily shut the pistols into their case,
and glided quietly away with them, unobserved.

"Where are the pistols?" roared Sir Simon.

"Onions must have gone off with them," cried Brown major, who seemed
more at his ease altogether than any of the rest.

Lissom and surefooted as any cat, Onions was then making his way down
the almost perpendicular descent between Napoleon's column and the
sands, the case of pistols safe in his hands. When the descent was
effected he sat down, partly to recover breath, partly to burst into
vehement laughter. Swaying his body from side to side it seemed that he
never would leave off, to the intense astonishment of a fisherman going
by with three mackerel dangling in his hand from a string, who stopped
to gaze at him.

Never, sure, did a pair of duellists take their way off the field more
ignominiously than ours! For nothing to have come of the meeting was
sufficiently crest-lowering on the surface, whatever the inward
satisfaction might have been; but to be exposed the whole way to the
fire of Sir Simon's tongue—now thundering forth its condemning anger,
now sunk in ironical raillery—was hardly to be borne. He treated them
like a couple of children. In the first place he made them walk arm in
arm, and march before him; himself, the acting surgeon, Brown major,
and Lord Shrewsbury, bringing up the rear like so many policemen. Thus
they made their way home, taking the route through the Upper Town and
down the Grande Rue, for Sir Simon would go no other way. Arrived at
the hotel, the others having dropped off on the road, he marshalled
them into his own room, shut himself in with them, and talked to the
two; not in the angry or ironical strain he had been using publicly,
but in a solemn, severe, and yet kind tone, with the tears of emotion
running down his cheeks.

"Shake hands, and be thankful to God," he wound up with, "for a great
mercy has been vouchsafed to you both this day. But for that, you might
just as well have been lying stark upon the heights now."

He never supposed but that the pistols had been loaded with bullets.
Any doubt to the contrary had not been whispered to him. And the fact,
as to whether they had or not, remained yet to be proved.

But the occurrence spoilt the pleasure in Boulogne. It was looked upon
in a very grave light by both the families concerned, and they resolved
to cut the visit short and return home. Sir Simon made a call upon
Onions, and demanded the pistols, which were given up to him. Never
again were they seen by Bertie Loftus; and what Sir Simon did with them
Bertie could not get to know, but always thought he dropped them into
the waves of the receding tide, and let them drift out to sea.

Onions was back in London before they were. Lady Sophia Leek, grown
tired of her visit, as it was natural to her to grow, wherever she
went, crossed over the day before the large party. It was quite the
same to Onions whether he stayed or returned home. He made himself
happy anywhere.

Let us take a look at Mr. Henry. While they and others had been amusing
themselves, he was working as usual. He gave his private lessons, he
finished his translation, he accomplished certain work that Mr. Baker
had asked him to do as a favour—the working out of some difficult
problems in Euclid. "You are as capable as I am, Henry," said the
mathematical master, "and I want to go into Wales and see my poor old
father." And Mr. Henry had accepted the task with a patient sigh.

Yes, the translation was finished at last. It had been a stupendous
labour, considering the little time Mr. Henry could give to it and the
many abstruse books he had been obliged to consult. Had he foreseen
what the task would be, he might not have entered upon it. And he had
made too light, by anticipation, of his legitimate work in the college,
for that had been greatly added to by the ill-will of the boys. All the
trouble and labour they possibly could give to him, they did give. Many
and many a night, when he might have been at his translation, was he
detained over their wretchedly false exercises; rendered purposely as
incorrect, and also as illegible, as it was possible for the malice of
schoolboys to render them. Mr. Henry had felt ill for some time now. It
was hot summer weather, and yet a sort of ague was upon him; but he did
what he could to shake it off.

And that was a red-letter day when, the translation completed, he set
out with it for London. It happened to be the same day that Sir Simon
and his large party were crossing over from Boulogne; but that had
nothing to do with Mr. Henry. The sun was bright, the skies were clear;
his ailments and his weakness, the weary night vigils, and the past
fatigue in his labours, all were alike forgotten, as he bore on to the
publisher's house in Paternoster Row, and passed at length through its
swing doors, carrying his heavy parcel.

"Would you like to receive the money now?" inquired the publisher,
after he had talked with him.

"If you please. If not inconvenient."

Not inconvenient certainly to pay thirty pounds; and the money, in
five-pound notes, was given into his hand. "We shall send the proofs to
you, Mr. Henry; no one but yourself must correct them."

"Very well. You will present me with a copy of the book for my own
use?"

"One copy, sir! You shall have more than that, and be welcome to them.
Half a dozen if you like."

"Thank you very much. Then I can give a copy to Dr. Brabazon, and send
over another to my old university."

He went out, his eyes quite luminous with the pleasure. The money in
his pocket; the learned book (it might almost be called _his_ book, so
great had been his labour) coming out immediately; copies to give to
his friends! For once Mr. Henry forgot his care, and seemed to tread on
air.

But he could not live on air; and hunger was very powerfully reminding
him of that fact when he reached the Strand. He looked out for an
eating-house, and turned into Simpson's. Ordering a plateful of lamb
and peas (recommended by the waiter), he went out again to a shop close
by, to buy some trifle he wanted. As he was bounding back into
Simpson's, he found his coat-tails seized, and turned to see a boy in
the College cap. It was Leek.

"Why, Onions!" he exclaimed, calling him, in his surprise, by the more
familiar name, "I thought you were in France. George Paradyne wrote to
me a day or two ago, and mentioned you."

"We came over yesterday; Lady Sophia got tired of the place," answered
Onions. "The rest are crossing to-day: I mean Loftus and Gall's lot,"
he went on to explain with the customary scant ceremony of the College
boys. "Oh, Mr. Henry, we have had the jolliest lark! I should like to
tell it you."

"Do so," said Mr. Henry. "I am going to have some dinner: will you take
some with me?"

"Don't care if I do," returned Onions. "Lamb and peas! That's good,
after the kickshaws we've had in France. You'll laugh yourself into a
fit when you hear what happened there."

Seated at a table in the corner, Onions recounted his story, and eat
his lamb and peas between whiles. Mr. Henry treated him also to some
cherry tart. Onions eat and talked, and exploded into bursts of
laughter, contagious to see and hear. The diners in the room turned and
looked; there seemed some danger of his going into a fit himself. It
was the duel he was telling of, and Mr. Henry, when the boy first
began, truly thought he was recounting a fable: though it is possible,
having been acclimatized to Germany, that he did not feel so shocked at
the idea of the duel as the other masters might have felt; say the
Reverend Mr. Jebb, for instance, or Dr. Brabazon.

"You see, when they asked me and Lord Shrewsbury to stand seconds, we
didn't much like it. Suppose one of them had got killed? But it was of
no use our saying a syllable: Gall and Loftus are both just as
obstinate as pigs, and a comet with a fiery tail wouldn't have turned
either of them. They thought their honour was involved, you see. Oh,
and what do you think? Dick went into the sea during a gale, and was
all but drowned."

"Dick was!"

"And Paradyne saved him," continued Onions, having got out of one tale
into another. "Nobody saw Dick go in, or knew he was in, until his
cries were heard. It was too rough for bathers to venture that day, and
the Sauvetage boat was not on duty, but Dick thought he'd try it on the
sly. And there he was, drowning without help! While the rest of us were
rushing about wildly to find the men, Paradyne quietly threw off his
jacket, plunged in, and went swimming after him—and a deuce of a long
way Dick had drifted out with the tide. He is a brave fellow after all,
that Paradyne. You should have heard the cheers when he came in with
Dick!"

Mr. Henry was leaning back in his chair, absorbed in the narrative—a
hectic flush on his cheeks, a glowing light in his eyes. Praises of
George Paradyne stirred every fibre of his heart.

"George never said a word of this in his letter to me."

"Oh, I daresay not; he's not a fellow to talk of himself," was Mr.
Leek's answer. "You never saw such a swimmer. Well, Dick was saved. We
wondered afterwards whether, if he had been drowned, it would have
stopped the duel."

"And the duel really took place? It seems past all belief," continued
Mr. Henry. And Onions, his mouth full of pie, went into convulsions
again, and upset the beer. When the choking was over, he continued his
account.

"I and Shrewsbury laid our heads together; we didn't want, you know, to
aid them in going in for such a chance as _death_; Besides, duelling is
over, let Bertie Loftus say what he will. We agreed _not to load the
pistols_; but that fool of a Brown major got putting his tongue into
it, saying we must take a surgeon. We couldn't say we'd not, for fear
of exciting suspicion, and he proposed his big brother who is at St.
George's, and we took him. What we feared was, that he might get
looking to the pistols; which would have spoilt the game. He didn't
though, and was in an awful fright all the time. He placed our men at
the distance of twenty paces—you should have seen the combatants; the
two were as white as this table cloth—and gave the signal to fire. At
the moment the pistols went off I gave Loftus a smart knock in the back
with some pieces of brass that jangled frightfully; Talbot gave Gall
the same, and down the two went, thinking they were both shot. Oh my
goodness! I shall never get over it to the last hour of my life," broke
off Onions, struggling and spluttering. "Mr. Henry, if I were in
church,—if I were watching somebody dead,—if I were before the
examiners for the Oxford, and thought of it, I must laugh."

It seemed so, by the way he was laughing now.

"They thought they were shot, and there they lay; and Bob Brown came up
with a long face, getting out his case of instruments. 'Where are you
struck?' says he, beginning with Gall who was nearest him; 'whereabouts
has the bullet gone into you?' 'I think it went into my back,' says
Gall, with a groan. 'Let's see,' says Brown, delicately turning him a
little, 'perhaps it came out there? No, there's no hole in your coat at
the back. Why, you're not shot at all!' he shouts out, as Gall got up
and felt himself. Oh my stars, but it was rich! I and the earl had to
keep our countenances, and nearly died of it."

Mr. Henry was laughing quietly; and the crowded room turned round once
more and gazed at the College lad.

"I made off with the pistols. That had been arranged. Oh, I assure you
we laid the programme well, and rehearsed our parts over and over. My
mother walked me off to a miserable ball the previous night; but Lord
Shrewsbury came to sleep in my room, and we were practising the thrust
upon each other's backs till daylight. We got a brass candlestick out
of Lady Sophia's chamber and battered it up for the pieces; the hotel
people, finding it had disappeared, thought my Lady must have swallowed
it. I've got the brass yet."

He laid his head down on the table, not exactly after a public fashion;
shaking and convulsed. "Go on," said Mr. Henry.

"There's no more fun to tell. I made off with the pistols, for fear
they should find out the trick, and fight in earnest—but they must have
gone to the town for bullets first. Sir Simon Orville came on the scene
then, and——."

"Who had warned him of it?"

"Nobody. His coming was accidental. He went in early to Dick's room, to
see how he was, and dressed himself afterwards to take a walk, instead
of getting into bed again like a Christian; and somehow arrived at the
spot by chance. Wasn't there a row? Shrewsbury says he never heard any
old fellow go on so. He made Gall and Loftus shake hands, and marched
them home again before him arm in arm. That same day he came to me,
demanding the pistols, and threatened to tell Lady Sophia of me unless
I promised never to help in such an affair of iniquity again: that was
what he called it, 'an affair of iniquity.' So I gave him up the
pistols, and told him the truth at the same time—that I and Talbot had
not put any charge in them. You should have watched the change in him!
He called me all sorts of charming names, and shook my hand, turning
himself about with delight in his funny fashion, and said he'd be my
friend always and Talbot's too; and then he put his hand into his
pocket and gave me—what do you think?—five golden sovereigns. But he
took the pistols; and Loftus's belief is, that he pitched them, case
and all, into the harbour. Oh, it was a lark, that duel! I don't
believe I shall ever get in for such another."

It was the conclusion of the tale. The company, who had remained at the
different tables, as if fascinated, began to move. They had caught but
a word here and there, and rose up impressed with the idea that a peer
of England, the Right Honourable the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot, had
been one of the principals in a duel; which news they forthwith carried
to their friends. There are people who believe to this day that his
lordship was the culprit. Mr. Henry paid for his dinner, and went out
with Leek. They were parting, for their way was not the same, when the
master laid his hand upon the young man's shoulder.

"I wish I could get you to do me a favour, Leek."

"That I will," was the ready answer. "What is it?"

"Make my duties easy to me next term, instead of difficult. That is,
help to make them so. No one but myself, Leek, knows what I have to
battle with. Sometimes I think it is wearing me out."

"Are you ill?" exclaimed Leek, suddenly noticing, now that they were in
the sunlight, the peculiarly worn look on the quiet and refined face.

"I am not very well. Perhaps I may give up my post in the College."

"I say, though, you don't mean that! Are we boys driving you away?"

"That, and other things. I don't know how it will be yet. But if I
remain, I must get you all to behave differently."

"And so we will," cried Leek, in a generous fit of repentance, and some
shame; as he remembered the impediments it had been their delight to
throw into the way of the foreign master, and how patiently he had
borne it all. Leek could not help being struck with the look of
_goodness_, of truth in the face before him, though it might never have
struck him particularly before; and it suddenly occurred to him to
wonder whether they had been mistaken on sundry little matters. A man
who has just treated us to a good dinner can't be a bad man.

"Mr. Henry, was it you that told of the seniors smoking, when there was
that row last autumn term?" he asked impulsively.

"It was not. I answered this at the time."

"Then I'm blest if I don't believe it was Lamb, after all! He's a
beauty. And I daresay other things that they said of you were as
untrue?"

"I daresay they were," replied Mr. Henry, smiling.

"What a jolly shame! Don't go away because of us, Mr. Henry. It was all
Trace's fault."

"Ay. Good bye," he kindly added, as he walked away to catch an omnibus
that would take him to Orville.

He went to Mrs. Paradyne's on his arrival there. That lady was alone,
evidently in a very aggrieved temper. She sat in her usual place on the
sofa, in a once handsome but now faded muslin gown, garnished with
seagreen ribbons. Her bonnet lay on the table.

"What is the matter?" inquired Mr. Henry.

"The matter is, that Mary has not come home, and she knows she was to
have gone out with me," was Mrs. Paradyne's fretful answer. "I can't
think what is keeping her. Mrs. Hill should not do it."

He sat down by her on the sofa, reached out his pocket-book, and gave
her five of the bank-notes lying in it.

"I took my translation in to-day," was all he said. Mrs. Paradyne began
counting them. She looked up.

"I thought you were to receive thirty pounds for it. You have always
said so."

"I did receive thirty. But—"

"You have given me only twenty-five," came the quick interruption; and
the tone was not a pleasant one.

"I have kept one of the notes. I am sorry to have to do so, but I want
it."

"Want it for _what?_" she asked with a surprised stress upon the word.
"But a day or two ago you informed me you had no need of money just
now."

"True. I will tell you if you wish particularly to know," he continued;
for she was looking at him questionably, and evidently waiting for the
information, as one might who had a right to it. "You have heard me
speak of Carl Weber?"

"That great friend and fellow-professor of yours at Heidelberg. Well?"

"I had a letter from him yesterday, telling me how much worse he is,
and that his malady is now confirmed beyond doubt—consumption. I had
another letter; it was from young Von Sark, who happened to write to
me. He spoke of Weber in it; of the sad state of privation he is in, of
the inroads the disease is making, and of his almost utter want of
friends. He has been ill so long that people have grown tired of
assisting him. A five-pound note will lighten his way to death."

Mrs. Paradyne made no dissentient answer; but she was evidently not
pleased. Taking out her purse with almost an unlady-like jerk, she shut
the five bank-notes into it with a sharp click.

"I cannot help it," said Mr. Henry in a low tone. "He is in great need,
and friendless. It seems to be a duty placed before me."

"Has he been improvident, that he should have saved no means?" asked
Mrs. Paradyne.

"No; his salary was small, and he had his mother to keep," was Mr.
Henry's reply, looking away from Mrs. Paradyne for a moment. "She died
two months ago; the last of his relatives."

"Well, your giving away a bank-note more or less is of little
consequence," resumed Mrs. Paradyne, in a displayed sort of
resignation, but which bore a sound of irony to initiated ears. "You
will not earn many more bank-notes, if you persist in your insane
resolution of speaking to Dr. Brabazon."

"I have told you why I must do that," he gently said; "do not let us go
over the matter again. As soon as he returns from Malvern, I shall
declare all. I have no resource but to do it, and no argument can now
change my resolution."

"Or bring you to your senses," retorted Mrs. Paradyne.

"I have something to tell you that will please you very much," he
resumed, quitting the other subject.

Mrs. Paradyne lifted her delicate hands in dissenting deprecation, as
if nothing could ever please her again.

"It is a story of George's bravery. He has been saving the life of
young Loftus."



CHAPTER XVIII.

Told at Last.

In passing the College gates on his way homewards, after quitting Mrs.
Paradyne, Mr. Henry, very much to his surprise, saw Dr. Brabazon going
in. No further explanation had taken place between them; for the doctor
had been staying at Malvern with his daughters. He held out his hand to
the young German master.

"You are looking as much astonished as if you thought I was my own
ghost," cried he, jestingly.

"Well, sir, I should almost as soon have expected to see it. I thought
you were at Malvern."

"A little matter of business brought me up. I go back to-morrow."

"To-morrow!" echoed Mr. Henry. "Can you let me speak to you before you
go back?" he continued on sudden impulse.

"Certainly. Come in with me now if you like."

Dr. Brabazon led the way to his favourite room, the study, and they sat
down there in the subdued light of the summer's evening. The sun had
set; a crimson glow lingered in the west, and the evening star shone in
the clear sky. Perhaps Mr. Henry was glad of the semi-light; it is the
most welcome of all for an embarrassing interview.

"I have been anxious for you to return," he began in a low, distinct
tone. "I did not like to make my communication to you by letter, and
yet there was little time to spare."

"Why was there little?" interrupted the master.

"Because, sir, you may have occasion to look out for some one to
replace me in the College."

"Are you going to leave?"

"Not of my own accord; but you will in all probability dismiss me when
you have heard my confession."

He made a pause, but the doctor, waiting for more, did not break it.
They were, as usual, near the window, and what light there was fell
full on Mr. Henry. His hands lay on his knee listless; his face was
bent, in its sad earnestness, towards the master. A strange look of
contrition was upon it.

"I hardly know which you would deem the worse crime, Dr. Brabazon," he
resumed; "the theft you were led to suspect me of, or the real offence
of which I am guilty. I have not stolen property; but my whole life
since I came here has been one long-acting deceit."

"Why, what can you mean?" exclaimed the doctor, who had nearly
forgotten that there remained anything to explain, and was again
putting full trust in his German master.

"Deceit especially to you, and in a degree to others," came the reply.
"I am not Mr. Henry. Henry is only one of my Christian names. I am
Arthur Paradyne."

The doctor sat staring. "You are——; I don't understand," he cried,
breaking off in hopeless bewilderment.

"I am Arthur Henry Paradyne, son to the unfortunate gentleman who was
associated with the firm of Loftus and Trace in Liverpool; son to Mrs.
Paradyne; brother to Mary and George."

"Why, bless my heart!" slowly exclaimed the master, when he had taken
in the sense of the words; and then he came to a full stop, and fell
into his sea of bewilderment again.

"I never intended to deceive you—never;" resumed the young man. "When I
came over to enter on the situation here, I fully meant to disclose to
you that I was Arthur Paradyne. The name had not been concealed by any
premeditation; but—if I may so express it—in the ordinary course of
things. I was always called 'Henry' at the university, and in the town
of Heidelberg. My father at one time was living there; he was Mr.
Paradyne with the Germans—for they often forgot to give him his title
of captain—I, by way of distinction, was called Mr. Henry. It is a
foreign custom. In my case it grew into entire use; and before I left
Heidelberg, I believe three parts of the people there had forgotten I
possessed any other name. I was willing it should be so forgotten;
after that terrible calamity in Liverpool, Paradyne was a tainted name,
and I took no pains to recall it to any one, friend or stranger. Can
you wonder at it, sir?"

"Go on," cried Dr. Brabazon, giving no direct answer to the question.

"The negotiations for my coming here were made between you and
Professor Von Sark, one of our chiefs. You wrote to request him to
supply you with a master who could teach French and German. He knew I
was wishing to do better for myself, in the point of remuneration, than
I was doing in the university, and proposed it to me. It was what I had
long wanted, and I begged him to accept it for me. Until the
negotiations were concluded, I did not know that he had throughout
written of me by the name of Henry, and by that only. It did not much
matter, I thought; I could explain when I came."

"And why did you not?"

"Ah! there lies my sin," was the somewhat emotional answer; and the
Head Master thought the young man before him was taking almost an
exaggerated view of his offence. "The first evening of my arrival,
there was no opportunity: many were coming and going, and you were
fully occupied; but when I heard myself addressed in my own tongue as
'Mr. Henry,' when you introduced me to your daughter and to the masters
as such, my face flushed with shame: it was so like premeditated
deceit. I should have told you that night but for the bustle that arose
in consequence of the accident to Talbot: it took all opportunity away.
The next morning the bustle continued; Talbot's friends came; the
doctors came; it seemed that you had not a minute for me. In the
afternoon arose that unpleasantness connected with the discovery that
George Paradyne was—who he was; rendering it all the more essential for
me to declare myself. But still I could not get the opportunity: the
story would have been a long one; and I wished to consult you as to
whether I might not still be generally known as Mr. Henry. Do you
recollect, sir, my meeting you in the stone corridor just after tea,
and asking if I could speak with you?"

"I think I do. I was in a hurry, I know, at the moment; for I had
business at the railway station."

"Yes; you were going out, and said quickly to me, 'Another time, Mr.
Henry, another time.' I went down to Mrs. Paradyne's that evening, and
she—my mother—utterly forbid me to disclose it. 'Did I want to ruin
everybody?' she asked; 'herself, me, George.' Was it likely that I,
Arthur Paradyne's son, should be retained at my post to _teach_ the
College boys, when a question had arisen whether George might be even
allowed to study with them? It was a doubt that had never before struck
me; it staggered me now. My mother took a different view of it. The
fact of my being a Paradyne could not make any difference to the boys,
or render me less efficient as a teacher, she urged, so long as they
were in ignorance of it. It was only by the knowledge that harm could
come. Well; I yielded. I yielded, knowing how mistaken the reasoning
was, utter sophistry; knowing how wrong a part I should be playing; but
she was very urgent, and—she was my mother. There's my secret, Dr.
Brabazon."

"A secret truly," observed the Head Master, leaning back in his chair,
while he revolved the tale.

"The weight of it has half killed me," returned Mr. Henry, lifting his
hand to his head, as if he felt a pain there. "At any moment discovery
was liable to fall, bringing disgrace in its train. It was not so much
_that_ that I felt—or feared—as the actual deceit in itself. My life
was a long living lie, every moment of it one of acted duplicity: I,
set up in a post of authority to guide and train others! When the
school broke up for Christmas I begged my mother to withdraw her
embargo, and let me speak then, but she would not. She would see about
it when George had passed his Oxford examination, she said, not before.
It is not with her full consent that I speak now; but I laid the two
only alternatives before her—to declare myself, or leave the
College—and she allowed me to speak as the lesser evil. In any case I
may have to leave."

"We'll see: we'll see: I think not. Why should you?" added the master,
apparently putting the question to himself, or to the four walls of the
room, but not to Mr. Henry. "I am glad to see young men respect the
wishes of their mother."

And Mr. Henry's respect for his—that is, his sense of the law of filial
obedience—was something ultra great. But he did not say it.

"What a trouble that past business of your father's must have been to
you!" exclaimed the doctor, whose thoughts were roving backwards.

Trouble! Mr. Henry shrank at the word, as relating to it, even now. "It
took every ray of sunshine out of my life," he breathed.

"No, no; not every one," said the master, kindly.

"For a long, long time every ray of hope—of _life_ I may say—went out
of me. And now my—my hope lies elsewhere; there's not much of it left
for daily use."

"Where does it lie?" questioned the Head Master, rather puzzled.

The young man gave no answer, unless a sudden hectic that flushed his
face, and was discernible even in the fading light could be called
such. ONE, looking down at him from beyond that tranquil sky, grey now,
knew where it lay, and what it was vested in.

"I had revered my father as the most honourable, just, good man
living," he resumed, in a low tone; "a Christian man, a brave officer
and gentleman; and when the blow came it seemed to stun me—to take away
everything that was worth living for."

He spoke only in accordance with the truth. The blow was great; his
sensitiveness was exceeding great, and the shock had cut off all hope
for this life. His spirit was by nature a proud spirit; his rectitude
great; to do ill in the eyes of the world—and such ill!—would to him
have been simply impossible; and the awful disgrace that seemed to fall
upon him, to have made itself his, struck to every fibre of his inward
life. Never more could he hold up his head in the sight of men. Added
to this, was the terrible grief for his father, whom he so loved—for
his father's fall, and his father's death. This, of itself, would have
gone well nigh to break his heart.

"Have you been assisting your mother?" asked the doctor, remembering
the stories carried to him of Mr. Henry's saving habits.

"Oh yes."

"Ay," said the master, as if this explained all.

Few young men have their hopes blighted on the very threshold of life
as his had been. His prospects came suddenly to an end with the shock.
Not a doubt of his father's guilt had penetrated his mind. The
particulars, as written to him circumstantially by Mrs. Paradyne, did
not admit of doubt. He had been working for them ever since. Mrs.
Paradyne had a very small income of her own, not much more than enough
to find her in gloves and ribbons and a new silk gown once in a way.
Arthur (with what little help her daughter could give) had to do the
rest. And she was not kind to him. Perhaps it was the long
separation—he over in Germany, she in England—that estranged her
affections from him, her eldest son. In time he wrote word to her that
he had accepted an engagement in England, at Orville College, and
suggested that George should be moved to it. He had two ends in
view—the one the advantage of the boy; the other that he might get some
intercourse with his mother and sister. He knew how he should have to
toil and pinch to meet the additional expenses, but that seemed
nothing. A shadow, of what the future was to be, fell over him before
he had quitted Heidelberg; for on the morning of his departure there
came a letter from Mrs. Paradyne warning him _not to make himself known
as George's brother or as her son_, at first, until they should have
met and talked the matter over. They did meet. On the evening following
that of Mr. Henry's arrival he went to her house, as perhaps may be
remembered, since Mr. Raymond Trace chose, in a sense, to assist at it.
During that interview he had a lesson taught him—that the future was to
be estrangement, or something akin to it, between him and his family.
He was to continue "Mr. Henry," never to disclose himself as a
Paradyne, lest the authorities at the college should carp at it; in
which case his means of assisting them at home might cease. He saw how
it was—that he was valued only in the ratio he could contribute to
their support. His generous love was thrown back upon him; his impulses
of tenderness were repulsed; he was to be an acquaintance rather than a
son. Mrs. Paradyne was resentful at his having counselled their removal
to Orville, now that it was found Trace and the Loftus boys were in the
College, which, of course, was manifestly unjust. Something very like a
dispute took place about the proposed concealment of name. He refused
to conceal it from Dr. Brabazon; she insisted that he should. He
yielded at last: she was his mother: but he went away from the house
wondering whether he had not better return to Germany. Thus it had gone
on. Mr. Henry—or Arthur Paradyne, if you would prefer to call him
so—bearing his burden as he best might, and toiling patiently to fulfil
the obligations he cheerfully accepted as his own; obligations he never
thought of repining at. His heart felt crushed; his mind had a weight
upon it; but he only feared lest his health should fail and the dear
ones suffer.

"Look you," interrupted Dr. Brabazon, arousing himself from a reverie;
"you must remain as 'Mr. Henry' for the present. The fact that you are
Arthur Paradyne does not hurt the boys; but the declaring it thus
suddenly would cause a commotion that might lead to—I don't know what.
Until Christmas, at any rate, things shall go on as they have done. The
competition for the Orville will then be over; and really, for my part,
I don't see why you should not drop the name of Paradyne, if it pleases
you to do so. No, I don't," added the doctor, contesting the point with
himself aloud, as if he were disputing it with an antagonist; "and I
don't see what business it is of other people's, or why anybody should
carp at it. So that's settled. You are Mr. Henry still. But I wish you
had disclosed the truth at the beginning. It would have made no
difference."

"I wish I could have done it, sir," he said, rising to take leave. "The
concealment has told upon me. Thank you ever for your kindness to me
this evening, Dr. Brabazon."

"I call that young man the victim of circumstances," thought the
master, "It's a good, and true, and earnest nature, I am sure; and——"

Dr. Brabazon's words came to a standstill, as he followed into the
hall. There was Mr. Henry propped against the front door, instead of
letting himself out of it according to the custom of everyday mortals.

"Why, what's the matter?" exclaimed the startled doctor, as the rays of
the house-lamp fell on a white face of suffering.

Mr. Henry rallied himself, and apologized with a smile. He had only
felt a little faint: it was over now.

A little faint! But he did not mention that sharp pain, that strange
fluttering of heart, which seemed so often to follow any extra emotion
or exertion; and this day had brought plenty of both for him. However,
it was gone now.

"Here, don't start off in that haste," cried the doctor, going out
after him. "Don't you think you ought to have advice for that
faintness?" he asked, as Mr. Henry turned.

"Yes, perhaps I ought."

"I should. You have been working your strength away. Good-night."

Mr. Henry hastened home, wrote a short letter to his sick friend Weber,
enclosed the bank-note, and went out to post it. As he emerged from the
short shrubbery, skirting round by the chapel, and gained the road, he
saw, to his surprise, Dick Loftus.

"Why, Dick! Are you home again?"

"Got home to dinner," equably answered Dick, whose mouth was full of
some crunching sweetmeat he had come down from Pond Place to buy. "We
had a stunning passage: the boat pitching like mad, and Uncle Simon and
old Gall fit to die. Will you have some?" he asked, exhibiting the
stuff in his hand. "It's Gibraltar rock."

"Not I, Dick, thank you. I should have thought you too old to eat
that."

"Am I, though?" said Dick, biting a huge morsel of the tempting
compound. "It's jolly. I say, how's Mother Butter?"

"_She's_ jolly," replied Mr. Henry, laughing.

"Give my respectful compliments to her, and tell her I've come home.
Do, please, Mr. Henry."

Dick disappeared with a careless good-night, that rang out joyously in
the evening air. Mr. Henry, having missed the opportunity to ask about
his perilous bath at Boulogne, went on to the railway station, and
dropped his letter into the box. There was a popular superstition
obtaining, that letters posted there went quicker than if posted at the
grocer's in the village. He was taking the middle of the road back, Sir
Simon's grounds on one side, the plantation on the other,—when fleet
footsteps came running behind, and a pair of light hands were laid upon
his coat. He turned to see his sister.

"Mary! What brings you here so late as this?"

She laughed as she explained: she was in a merry mood. Mrs. Hill had
taken them out a little way in the country, and they missed the train
they ought to have come back by, and had only now got in. She could not
help it, and she was running home to mamma and mamma's displeasure.

"You _will_ catch it," said Mr. Henry, with comic seriousness. "Mamma
had her things on in the afternoon, waiting for you to go out with her.
Is that safe, Mary?"

"Yes, yes. Just for once, Arthur."

For she had linked her arm within his. Mr. Henry looked round on the
lonely road. "All right," he said, "there's nobody about. I have not
had you on my arm for a long while."

Was there nobody about? Indeed and there was an inquisitive pair of
eyes peering after them. Mr. Raymond Trace, finding Pond Place
insupportably dull on his return, had come forth by way of a diversion,
to see any little thing there might be to see. And was thus rewarded.
Raymond Trace was in an ill-humour with the world. Certain events in
Boulogne—the presence of George Paradyne there in the first place, and
his elevation in the favour of not only Sir Simon and the Galls, but of
Mr. Loftus—had been insufferably offensive to him. And this girl was
George's sister!

Crossing the road with soft steps, as if he were treading upon eggs, he
followed them, keeping well under the shadow of the hedge. He could see
they were talking earnestly together, and he'd have given one of his
ears to be able to hear. Truth to say, the evident intimacy astonished
Mr. Trace not a little; he thought he had come upon a mighty secret,
not creditable to the assistant master at Orville College, or to any
other subordinate individual, that might indulge in such.

"The worst is over, Mary," Mr. Henry was saying. "Dr. Brabazon is at
home, and I have told him."

"Oh Arthur!" she exclaimed. "But I am thankful it is done at last. What
is the result?—your dismissal?"

"Quite the contrary. He was all kindness. I am to remain on as Mr.
Henry. He says he does not see why I should not adopt the name for
good, and discard the other one. Will you tell mamma this?"

"Yes, I'll tell her. It will be a relief; she has been dreading the
communication with a sort of nightmare. And so you will stay on?"

"If my strength shall permit me. Sometimes I have doubts of that."

A sharp pang darted through her. "Arthur, it grieves me that you should
labour as you do, and yet meet with no reward. Mamma is not what she
ought to be to you; I have told her so."

"Hush, child! it is the pleasure of my life to work for you all. I wish
I could do more."

"I wish we were more grateful," came Miss Paradyne's impulsive answer.
"George and I feel it terribly, Arthur. You should hear him break out
every now and then to mamma."

He interrupted her: he never would allow a word of reflection on his
mother: and began the story of George's bravery, as related to him by
Leek. They did not meet a soul: the road was always lonely at night.
Miss Paradyne stopped when they drew near its end, when the lighted
shops were in view in the distance.

"You must not come any farther with me, Arthur. I shall run home in no
time."

She withdrew her arm, but he stood yet a minute talking, holding her
hand in his. Then he bent his face on hers for a farewell kiss (not a
soul was about, you know), watched her away, and turned towards his
home.

Mr. Trace came out of the hedge's friendly shade, trencher first, in a
glow of virtuous amazement. He had seen the signs of familiar
intercourse; he had certainly seen the kiss; and his indignant feelings
could only relieve themselves in a burst of unstilted words that might
have been more characteristic of Dick.

"Well, this _is_ a go!"



CHAPTER XIX.

A Visitor for Sir Simon.

Once more the school had met, and were at work with a will. Ah, this
was the real trial—that could occur but once in three full years—the
competition for the great Orville prize. Masters and candidates were
alike on their metal, making stern preparation for it. It was no
child's play. Gall, Loftus, Trace, Savage, Brown major, Whitby, Talbot,
and Paradyne, were going up for it.

Who would win? Some thought one would, some another; opinions were
divided, a whisper of bets reigned. Gall openly avowed he did not
expect to get it, Bertie Loftus made no secret of not really trying:
they chose to go up for it as the seniors of the school, but they were
regarded as virtually out of the contest. The more general impression
was that the real contest would lie between Trace and Paradyne.

And none were more conscious that this was likely to prove a fact than
Trace himself. He was afraid of Paradyne. In spite of Trace's large and
vain self-esteem, there was a disagreeable conviction within him that
in the trial Paradyne's scholarship might weigh down his own. A bitter
pill of anticipation for Trace to swallow from any competitor: but from
Paradyne—words could not express his angry indignation: and he felt
inclined to question the divine ordering of events that should have
brought that one miserable unit of creation in this offensive
antagonism with him. With _him_, Raymond Trace!

Ten times a day he said to himself that it _ought not_ to be. He was
quite honest in thinking this: he believed he was just; for he saw
things with a jaundiced eye. The son of the man who had so signally
failed in his duty to the world in general, and to his father and Mr.
Loftus in particular, was out of place in Orville College, the
associate of honest gentlemen. It had however pleased Dr. Brabazon to
keep him in it, and Trace thought himself worthy of a gold medal at
least for having buried the secret of the past from the school. The
far-famed duel in Boulogne had become public property, to the raging
mortification of the two duellists, who were chaffed unmercifully, and
grew to wish that duels had never been invented. The rescue of Dick
Loftus also spread from mouth to mouth, and Paradyne was lauded as some
young god descended from Olympus. All so much heart-burning for Trace.
He had bitterly rebelled at the favour shown to Paradyne in Boulogne,
asking what brought him there at all; what right he had there. He
seemed fated to be haunted by this Paradyne everywhere: a second case
of Faust and Mephistopheles. All that was bad enough, but Trace, doing
violence to his own feelings, had passed it over. What, he began to ask
himself now, was—ought this fellow, this waif of ill-descent, to be
allowed to go in for the great Orville prize—the prize that all were
burning to gain, either for the honour or the money. Trace pondered the
question very seriously, and meanwhile fanned the ill-feeling against
Paradyne, which had been buried, into a smouldering heat, that might
burst at any moment up in a flame.

He fanned something else—and, that was, a vague rumour reflecting on
Mr. Henry. That gentleman's name became connected with Miss Paradyne's
in anything but a pleasant manner: but as yet only by hints and
innuendoes; the school had got hold of nothing tangible. Bertie Loftus
asked Trace what the matter was, but Trace did not define it. "A bad
lot, those Paradynes," he answered, drawing down the corners of his
respectable lips: "and the German is in league with them." A terrible
score had Trace against Mr. Henry, if only from the fact that he
continued to assist, or, as Trace phrased it, to coach Paradyne: but
for that, Paradyne had never stood a chance of wresting the Orville
prize from deserving fingers. And so, in this uncomfortable and
uncertain state, the time went on.

One afternoon when October was passing, and the great day of decision,
the first of November, was drawing near, it happened that in a very
difficult Greek lesson, Trace did badly, Paradyne markedly well. They
were before the Head Master, and he said a few rather sharp words to
Trace, whose failure he attributed to carelessness, about allowing one
younger to outstrip him. "You'll stand no chance against him, Trace, if
you can't do better than this," added the doctor. Perhaps he spoke
lightly, without much thought; but Trace took the words to his heart
and let them rankle there.

When tea was over, he went out alone, debating with himself whether he
should disclose the past disgrace relating to Paradyne, and so stop his
going up for the Orville. Trace was of a concentrative nature, and
liked this self-communing. Pacing the plantation, he thought over the
question in all its bearings, and came to the conclusion that, to
speak, was a duty he owed to society, and would be a righteous act in
itself. This so far settled, he was about to leave the tree, against
which his back had been propped for the last five minutes, and to go
home, when he saw a man come stealthily forth from a dark side-path,
and look out as if he were waiting for some one. Trace had no objection
to a bit of private adventure, especially if it related to other
people's business, and remained where he was, on the watch.

Up came Mr. Henry, making directly for the stranger's hiding-place.
That he had come to meet him, was apparent; and Trace stared with all
his eyes into the obscure light. He could not make out much: they
passed him very close once, as they were talking together, and he heard
a few words from the stranger.

"I shall stop here, I tell you. The voyage——"

Those were all the distinct words Trace caught then. When they came
back again, Mr. Henry was speaking.

"Of course, if you are determined to remain, I cannot say you shall
not: but I fancy you will not succeed. And then, you know, there will
be the risk of——"

So far only, this time, before they were out of hearing again. Trace's
ears were strained to the uttermost, but he caught only two words more,
and that from the stranger as they were parting: "Mother Butter's." Mr.
Henry walked quickly towards home, the man disappeared amid the trees
the other way, and Trace stayed where he was, revolving the mystery.
But he could find no clue to it.

Clashing footsteps sounded now. One of the boys was tearing home from
the railway station. It was Lamb, with a parcel in his hand, and Trace
went out to meet him. How it came about Trace never exactly knew, but
while he was saying to himself "Shall I tell, or shall I not?" he
_told_, and Lamb was put in possession of the real facts relating to
Paradyne: all the past trouble; the past disgrace; that he belonged to
a family of fraud, and never ought to have been at Orville. Nuts for
Mr. Lamb to crack. But, strange to say, no sooner had the secret
escaped Trace's lips, than a voice within seemed to warn him that he
had done wrong. It was too late to repent; Lamb went whispering the
poison about with his stealthy tongue, and the school listened eagerly.

A few days passed on without explosion. The boys met in secret knots to
take counsel, and felt half paralysed at their own audacious words.
They talked of mutiny, if Paradyne were allowed to go up for the
Orville; they whispered of rebellion, if subjected longer to the
authority of a master so ill-doing as Mr. Henry. _But they did
nothing_. Not one would undertake the responsibility of commencing
hostilities, or of speaking to the Head Master: it was a practical
illustration of the old fable of the mice proposing to put the bell on
the eat. And November was close at hand.

The rumours, connecting Mr. Henry's name with Miss Paradyne were by no
means pleasant rumours; not tending to exalt either of them in public
opinion. When a young lady could be guilty of stealing evening walks
with a school usher, and very familiar walks indeed—as Mr. Lamb could
testify on Trace's private authority, and _did_, turning up the whites
of his eyes—of course there was no more to be said for her.

So long as these rumours were confined to the boys, they did not affect
Miss Paradyne personally; but circumstances led to their being
whispered beyond the college. Mrs. Hill, the lady with whom she had the
daily engagement as governess, had gone unexpectedly to Torquay for the
winter months, in consequence of the ill-health of one of her children,
and Miss Paradyne had made another engagement with Mrs. Talbot. On the
evening previous to the day she was to enter on it, the Earl of
Shrewsbury dashed home for a minute, and told his mother confidentially
that she must not have Miss Paradyne for the girls; that it "wouldn't
do."

"Why will it not do?" questioned Mrs. Talbot in surprise.

"Because it won't."

"James, to say so much, and no more, is nonsense. You must tell me
why."

But Talbot could not say why. Things had not been made very clear to
his understanding. All he knew was, that something was "up" about Miss
Paradyne and Mr. Henry. He supposed they were privately engaged; but
the school was in arms against Miss Paradyne, saying she went out
walking with him at night, and—oh, all sorts of things. She must not be
let go there as governess.

"Don't you think, James, that this is arising out of the ill-feeling
entertained for Miss Paradyne's brother?" quietly asked Mrs. Talbot.

"No, I don't think it is. Oh, but there is a row about him!—going to
be, at any rate," broke off the earl in a parenthesis. "Well, I can't
stop, mother mine, but don't you admit Miss Paradyne."

"Upon what plea can I refuse? I have engaged her. James—wait a moment.
Upon what plea can I refuse, I ask."

James Talbot looked puzzled and rueful. "I'm sure I don't know," he
answered, twirling his trencher round and round. "I thought I'd better
tell you. I'm afraid they must be a bad lot. Queer things are coming
out about the father: and Paradyne is not to go up for the Orville."

"Why?" she exclaimed half-startled, and beginning to think the affair
must be serious. "Not go up for the Orville!"

"The school would be in mutiny."

"James!"

"It would. And Trace may make as certain of the prize now as if he'd
got it."

"Is there no chance for you, James?" she asked, rather wistfully.

He laughed, and shook his head. "I have done my best, but there's not a
bit of hope for anybody against Trace. Had Paradyne gone in for it,
there'd have been a close struggle between the two—and I don't think
victory would have declared for Trace. About the father? oh, I can't
stay to tell you,"—preparing to dash off again. "Queer rumours they
are."

Queer indeed, and various; as whispered about from boy to boy. The
exaggerations were something ludicrous. "Paradyne's father had been
hung for murder," "been transported for forgery," "was now serving out
his time at Portland Island," and so on. Perhaps Talbot did well not to
mention such to his mother.

He left her in a comfortable state of uncertainty. She did not like to
disregard the warning altogether, and yet did not like to act upon it.
Neither did she see how she could act upon it; and sat on much
perplexed.

"I will put a question or two plainly to Miss Paradyne, when she comes
to-morrow, as to whether there is any private acquaintance between her
and Mr. Henry," decided Mrs. Talbot at length. "I am convinced the
Paradynes are as nice as they can be: and I don't believe a word
against the daughter. It's all the work of those envious boys."

Utterly unconscious of the storm that was brewing, Mary Paradyne looked
forward to her engagement; and when the morning and hour dawned to
enter on it, she got ready with alacrity. The young are always so full
of hope.

"If the remuneration were but a little better," exclaimed Mrs.
Paradyne, in her semi-fretful, semi-resigned way. "Three hours a day,
and luncheon and thirty-four shillings a month! What is it?"

"Dear mamma, it is better than nothing a month," was the cheering
answer. "When I first knew that the Hills were going away, I feared I
might be unemployed for the winter. Something better may arise later:
and I am sure I shall like Mrs. Talbot. Miss Brabazon dropped a hint to
me the other day that perhaps they might engage me for Rose."

She tied her bonnet, kissed her mother, and went forth with her bright
face. It was not far to go; only a few doors. Mrs. Talbot came to her
directly, and entered on her task, which did not seem an agreeable
one—that of putting a few questions in regard to her intimacy with Mr.
Henry. But, instead of meeting them—as Mrs. Talbot had anticipated she
would—in a calm spirit of refutation, the young lady turned red, grew
confused, and flung her hands up to her disturbed face with a faint cry
of dismay. It had come upon her so suddenly.

"Believe me, I do not wish to pain you," said Mrs. Talbot, speaking
gently in the midst of her surprise. "Neither would I think of
inquiring into any particulars that you may prefer not to disclose.
Only tell me that there is nothing in the rumour; that you and Mr.
Henry have no—no—acquaintance in common; that will be quite
sufficient."

"But I cannot tell it you," replied Miss Paradyne in her
straightforward truth.

"What the college boys have got hold of, I'm sure I am unable to say,"
resumed Mrs. Talbot, thinking she could not have been understood.
"Nothing very grave: the most tangible charge I can make out is, that
you have been seen walking with Mr. Henry. There is, of course, no harm
in that; the harm lies in its being done in secret. Can you refute it,
Miss Paradyne?"

No, she could not: and she was growing sick with fear. Not fear for
herself: the reproach that might ordinarily be supposed to arise from
such a thing, she never so much as glanced at. Her whole thought was
for her brother Arthur, lest the concealment of which he had been
guilty in regard to his true name, was becoming known. Mrs. Talbot,
feeling both grieved and surprised, pressed the question.

"I daresay I may have been seen with Mr. Henry: I did not know it,"
answered Miss Paradyne, forced into the avowal, and beginning to
shiver. Had it only occurred to her to say "My mother is cognisant of
all I do," Mrs. Talbot might have been satisfied: but it did not.

There was nothing for it but to part. Mrs. Talbot reluctantly said she
could not carry out the engagement, and Mary Paradyne went away, to
bear home her unhappy tale. As she stood at Mrs. Talbot's door, the
bright sun shining full upon her, she became aware how long the
interview had lasted, for the outdoor boys were quitting the college
after morning school. George was nearly the first of them, and she drew
him into the middle of the road.

"Whatever is the matter?" cried he, perceiving something strange in her
countenance.

"George," she whispered, "you must go to Arthur—"

"To Mr. Henry," interrupted George, correcting her. "You are not half
so prudent as I am, Mary. I've told you of this before."

"To Mr. Henry," she mechanically resumed, her heart beating with a
great pain. "Tell him to be on his guard, lest he should be taken
unawares. Something is oozing out, I am sure; and Mrs. Talbot has
declined to receive me."

"Declined to receive you!" repeated George, his honest grey eyes
flashing anger.

"She was very kind in the midst of it, but she said there were rumours
abroad connected with Mr. Henry, and if I could not refute them, I must
not enter on the engagement. I did not quite understand her," added
Mary Paradyne, speaking to herself rather than to George: "but you had
better go at once and warn Ar—warn—you know."

George laughed at the slip, pushed his trencher jauntily aside, and
turned back whistling. Knots of the outdoor boys were advancing. Some
shot past him with a bound; some stole by sheepishly, as if ashamed to
cut him; others walked on deliberately and looked straightforward; a
few gave him a hard, bold, insolent stare of non-recognition; and as he
went by the quadrangle, the juniors, gathered there, turned their backs
upon him.

"It's an awful shame that they should send me to Coventry like this,"
soliloquized George. "If I thought any one of them set the rest on,
wouldn't I leather him! Never mind, gentlemen, if I do get the Orville,
you'll be more civil to me."

He was dashing into Mr. Henry's room, when Mrs. Butter interposed,
rather less crusty than usual. Mr. Henry was engaged at the moment; he
must call again.

"I'll wait in your kitchen, Mother Butter," said George, who rarely
stood on ceremony.

"Then you can't," answered Mother Butter, with more haste and decision
than the case seemed to warrant. "I've got my saucepans on the fire,
and you'd be upsetting of 'em. There. Be off."

As if to end the colloquy, Mr. Henry's parlour door opened, and Miss
Brabazon came forth.

"Rely upon me," Mr. Henry said to her in a low tone: and George
wondered.

They went into the parlour together, the two brothers, and George
delivered his sister's message, adding a comment of his own. "I'd give
a guinea to know what's up."

Mr. Henry pondered over it for a few minutes in silence, leaning his
head upon his hand. His face was turned to the searching light of the
meridian sun, and something unusually wan in its aspect struck George.

"The better plan will be to declare all; to put away this
semi-concealment altogether," observed Mr. Henry. "Mary must not be
subjected to unpleasantness."

"Only let me get the Orville," observed George, with a vain schoolboy's
light boasting. "I'll crow over some of them then."

"George!"

"I know; you are all for meekness and peace. I _should_ like to pay off
some of those fellows. Will you believe that I met half the classes
coming here, and not a soul of the whole lot spoke to me? Something new
is arising. I've seen it this week past."

"I have seen it, too," was Mr. Henry's reply. "George, I used to say
you would live this down by dint of time and patience; I thought just
after you got back from France that the time had nearly come. But I
have my doubts now. I wish I could have helped you better. Well, I'll
think about this matter, George, and decide on something. You go home
to your dinner now."

Nothing loth to obey, for dinner was as welcome to him as it is to most
schoolboys, George was quitting the room, when Mrs. Butter entered it,
with a small tray, a basin of bread and milk on its white cloth. She
put it before Mr. Henry and went out again.

"I say," cried George, "that's not your dinner, is it? Why it's nothing
but bread and milk!"

"My appetite is going strangely," observed Mr. Henry. "Slops seem to
suit me best now."

George's great grey eyes flashed out a look of yearning. "Arthur! you
have been starving yourself for us—that we may have plenty!"

"Don't be indiscreet; there's no Arthur here," returned Mr. Henry, with
a light smile. "I am eating bread and milk to-day, George, because I
feel ill: that's all. Run home."

Easily reassured—as it was in his age and nature to be—George Paradyne
went flying off. In turning the angle by the chapel at a sharp canter,
he came full tilt against Sir Simon Orville, who was walking towards
his home.

"Holloa, young sir! Don't run me down. I am not a ship."

George laughed, begged his pardon, and was passing on, when Sir Simon
stopped him.

"Here, George; don't fly off again as if you were wound up to go on
wheels. What is this matter about your not going up for the Orville?"

"I don't understand you, Sir Simon."

"Are you going up for it?"

"Of course I am, sir. I should like to get it, too. And I don't say I
shan't," he concluded, laughing.

"Why, what did those young simpletons mean, then?" cried the knight. "I
met a lot of them just now, and Dick Loftus whispered to me you were
not going up for the Orville."

"It is a mistake," said George. "Not that I should go up if the fellows
could prevent me. But they can't, you know, sir. Good-bye, Sir Simon."

Sir Simon went on, the matter passing from his mind. Turning into his
own grounds, he had been busying himself for some time amidst his
cherished autumn flowers, when a servant came out, having apparently
just seen him from the house.

"A gentleman is waiting to see you, Sir Simon."

"Bless me," cried Sir Simon, who was too kindhearted, too simple-minded
ever to keep people waiting unnecessarily, gentle or simple. "Who is
it, Thomas?"

"I don't know, sir. He came in a cab with a portmanteau. He looks like
a traveller."

Sir Simon went trotting off as fast as his short legs would go. The
servant went after him.

"It is not Mr. Loftus, Thomas, I suppose? You'd know him."

"Oh dear no, sir, it's not Mr. Loftus. It is somebody older than Mr.
Loftus."

Thomas went forward and held open the door for his master to enter. In
the tesselated hall, with its bright painted windows gleaming in the
sunlight and throwing out their rich colours, Sir Simon saw a
portmanteau and a cloak. He turned to the door on the right, and
entered. The traveller sat in the shade of the spacious room, the green
blinds being closely drawn behind him, and for a moment Sir Simon did
not recognise him. The stranger: a slight elderly man, wearing
silver-rimmed spectacles: rose quietly and offered his hand.

"Don't you know me, Simon?"

"Why—my goodness me! It's Robert Trace!"



CHAPTER XX

As if Ill-Luck followed him.

They sat alone, knees together, talking of the present and the past.
Sir Simon had never been very fond of his brother-in-law; but to see
him alive, after so long a period of no news, was a great relief; and
he gave him a cordial welcome. Mr. Trace spoke of his unfortunate
losses in the United States, but did not go into details; at least,
into details that Sir Simon could make much of. The great scheme, about
which he had been so sanguine, had failed, miserably failed, almost
before it was organized: and the thousand pounds, so generously sent
out to him by Sir Simon, had been swallowed in the vortex, together
with his own funds. After that, he had gone to New York, trying, trying
ever since, to redeem his position. He could not do it, and had now
come home to Europe, penniless.

"I thought that Boston affair was a good one, or I should not have sent
the money out," observed Sir Simon. "How came it to fail?"

"Mismanagement partly; partly ill-luck," was the answer of Mr. Trace,
curtly delivered.

"Not your mismanagement, surely?" cried Sir Simon, who had the highest
opinion of his brother-in-law as a business man.

"Mismanagement altogether. It was a great deal that Hopper's fault. I
was a fool ever to have made him secretary to the affair, or to give
him power," added Mr. Trace, with unmistakable animus. "Set a beggar on
horseback and we know where he'll ride."

"What Hopper?" asked Sir Simon, struck with the name.

"What Hopper?" was the tart retort, as if Sir Simon's question were
superfluous—as indeed the hearer thought it. Mr. Trace had never been a
good-tempered man.

"Surely you don't mean the young man who was clerk to you in
Liverpool!" cried Sir Simon. "What took him to America?"

Robert Trace raised his eyes from their moody stare on the ground and
glanced at his brother-in-law. "You knew Hopper was at Boston with me!"

"Not I. How should I know it? I have never heard of the young man from
the time of the break-up at Liverpool."

A minute's perplexed gaze, and then Robert Trace dropped his eyes
again. He had made a false move. But that he had supposed Sir Simon
knew of his ex-clerk's presence in America, he had certainly not
mentioned him.

"Hopper told me, more than once, that he wrote to you from Boston,
Simon."

"He never did—to my knowledge. What took him out there?"

"I don't know"—and Mr. Trace's tone changed to quiet civility, the same
tone that used to strike on Sir Simon's ear with a false ring. "He
walked into the office one morning in Boston, to my great surprise, and
asked me if I could help him to employment. It happened that I had been
wishing for a clever secretary, or sub-manager, under myself, an
Englishman if I could get him; and I put Hopper in the place. He was
sharp, intelligent, up to the work, and had served us well in
Liverpool."

"And by way of rewarding you, he made ducks and drakes of your money
and mine!"

"He turned out as great a rogue as ever stepped," exclaimed Mr. Trace,
an acrimonious red tinging his cheeks. "I was obliged to go away from
Boston to avoid him. The man nearly worried my life out. He made out a
claim, and wanted to enforce it. When he discovered that I had gone to
New York, he followed me there. I had a world of trouble with him."

"A claim for what?" asked Sir Simon. But Mr. Trace did not answer at
once.

"Past salary," he presently said, rousing himself out of a reverie. "I
had a great deal of trouble with him. The follow stuck to me like a
leech. He claimed a hundred pounds. I would have given it to him
willingly, if I'd had it, to be rid of him. Three several times did he
tell me he had written over to you."

"But why should he write to me?"

"I conclude for assistance," replied Mr. Trace after another pause. "I
know he said he did write, and it never occurred to me to doubt him. He
knew of the money you had kindly sent me in answer to my appeal, and
possibly thought he might make one on his own score. He was a great
rogue."

"I think it possible that he was," returned Sir Simon; somewhat
significantly to Mr. Trace's ear, who had applied the epithet in more
of a general sense than a particular one. "Did it ever occur to you,
Robert, to suspect that Hopper might have been the guilty man at
Liverpool? Hopper, and not Paradyne."

"No," cried Mr. Trace in an accent of surprise not mistakable.

"That sharp young son of Paradyne's thought it at the time," observed
Sir Simon, who was speaking in accordance with what had been related to
him by Mr. Loftus in Boulogne, touching the conversation with George
Paradyne. "_I_ don't cast suspicion on the man, mind. I have no cause
to do so."

"Nor has anybody else," quietly returned Mr. Trace, taking off his
spectacles to wipe them. "A clerk could not have played the game for an
hour; I should have found it out at once. Not but that Hopper was
villain enough for it."

"Where is he now?"

"Dead."

"Dead!"

Mr. Trace nodded, and broke into a quiet laugh. It jarred on the ear of
Sir Simon, and his brow contracted.

"Don't deem me unfeeling, Simon. I am not laughing at Hopper's death:
which was sad enough: but at a mistake he made. Never mind that now."

"I do mind. I want to hear all this."

"I had taken a berth on board the 'Cultivator,' a New York vessel,
bound for London. Hopper discovered this, and took one also, with the
view no doubt of renewing his worry on the passage. I did not sail in
her. He did; and was drowned."

"Mercy upon us!" cried Sir Simon.

"You heard of the calamity, I daresay," continued Mr. Trace, putting on
his glasses again. "She went down with every soul on board. We got news
of her loss at New York just before I left. Laugh at that? No. It may
be my own fate in going back."

"Shall you return to the New Country?"

"If I can get you to help me once again," boldly answered Mr. Trace. "I
came home for the sole purpose of asking you. I shall do better if I
get another start. I ought to have done well before, but—"

"But what?" asked Sir Simon, interrupting the sudden pause.

"But for ill-luck. Over and over again the chances slipped through my
fingers. It was as if ill-luck followed me. We'll talk further of this
another day, Simon."

Sir Simon nodded acquiescence, and rang the bell for Mr. Trace to be
shown to a chamber.

A message was despatched to the college for Raymond, and he arrived in
the evening. His astonishment when he saw his father was something
ludicrous, so entirely was he unprepared for it, and the pleasure
proportionately great. Cold and cynical to the general world, Raymond
cared for his father. Raymond poured out his budget of news of the past
and present; it was of various kinds and degrees of interest: and Mr.
Trace the elder had his ears regaled with the current history of the
Paradyne family, and George's presumptuous aspirings to the Orville
prize.

"But we shall do him," cried Trace, with a self-satisfied nod. "Where's
Uncle Simon?"

Sir Simon's absence had passed unnoticed in their own absorption of
self-interest. Mr. Trace could not say where he was.

Truth to say, there was a something beating on that estimable knight's
brain: a little scrap of news that he had read, or seemed to have read,
in the newspapers some days before. He thought it related to the ship
spoken of by Mr. Trace, "The Cultivator:" and he was now hunting in
every corner of the house for old newspapers, which he scanned
attentively. But without success. He went back to the room, nodded to
Raymond, and sat down in silence, drumming on the table and ransacking
his treacherous memory. It was so unusual a mood for Sir Simon, that
Raymond remarked upon it, asking if anything was amiss.

"I am trying to recollect something," was the reply. "Your father has
told you, I suppose, Raymond, of Hopper's sailing for home in the ship
'Cultivator,' and her sinking with her passengers—"

"No. I have not told him," interrupted Mr. Trace, so sharply as to
startle Sir Simon. "Why bring it up to him?" he more calmly added,
appearing to recollect himself. "The ship was lost with every soul on
board."

"But that's just it—that I don't think every soul was lost," explained
Sir Simon. "I read an account lately of the landing of some passengers
at Cork, who were supposed to have been lost. They were picked up at
sea in an open boat, having put off from a foundering vessel. It
strikes me the vessel was 'The Cultivator.'"

"If you are speaking of 'The Cultivator,' from New York, some of her
passengers have been saved, and are now in England," interposed
Raymond. "Mr. Batty, old Gall's partner, had a son on board; the news
arrived of the ship's loss, and the Battys went into mourning; but, a
day or two ago, young Batty walked in. Father, what's the matter?"

Mr. Trace was standing up, looking like a man scared out of his senses.
"Is—Hopper—saved?" he gasped, rather than asked.

"I don't know," answered Raymond. "Who is Hopper?"

"And if he is?—you need not be afraid of him over here!" cried Sir
Simon, wondering at the emotion displayed. "It is your father's former
clerk at Liverpool that we are speaking of, Raymond," he added to the
son. "The man went over to Boston, got put into a good thing there by
your father, which failed; and then he began to worry him for money.
Let him come and worry here! We'll teach him that England is not
without laws, if America is."

Raymond, all curiosity, questioned further, and Mr. Trace could not put
a stop to Sir Simon's answers; though it seemed that he would have done
it, had there been a decent plea. There was not time for much; Raymond
was unable to stay: but for the peremptory message, he would not have
come out at all that busy evening. Mr. Trace put his hat on to walk
part of the way with his son. They struck into the plantation, arm in
arm: it was the shortest way; and the moon glimmered cheerily through
the trees.

"You are as tall as I am, Raymond," observed Mr. Trace.

"And that's not very tall; I hope to shoot up yet," answered Raymond.
"You should see Bertie Loftus. But it seems to me that you have grown
shorter."

"As we all do, when age and care come upon us," remarked Mr. Trace.
And, with that, he relapsed into silence.

"I hope you have come back rich, sir," resumed Raymond presently, in a
tone of half jest, half earnest.

"I have come back not worth a shilling, Raymond," said Mr. Trace,
momentarily halting as if to give emphasis to his words. "All I had of
my own, all I borrowed from your uncle, is lost."

Something like an ice-shaft shot through Raymond in his bitter
disappointment. During this many, many months' silence of his father's,
fond visions had dawned over him of his coming back a millionaire.

"How is it lost?" he asked, when the shock allowed him to speak.

"Oh! in those American securities, and in unlucky speculations. I was
not clever enough for the Yankees, you see."

"What was my uncle saying about Hopper? I did not understand him."

"He says that Hopper's saved; whereas I had thought he was drowned."

"I meant, sir, about his worrying you. But he did not say Hopper was
saved; only that he might be."

"Raymond, as surely as that I see those trees around us, so surely do I
see that the man's saved."

"And what if he is?"

"Why, he has it in his power to do me injury."

"Of what nature, sir?"

Mr. Trace looked upwards, as if searching, for an answer. It was a
remarkably bright night, and the moonbeams sent a radiance on the glass
of the spectacles. "He says I owe him money, Raymond; he might pursue
me for it, I suppose, in this country, and give me a world of trouble.
Do you recollect him?"

"Pretty well. I have a sort of general recollection of him."

"Raymond, do you look out for him;" and Mr. Trace pressed his son's
arm, to give emphasis to the charge. "A middle-sized man, of
two-and-thirty, or thereabouts, with a pale face, and a reddish shade
on his brown hair. He was looking shabby when I last saw him, perhaps
is more so now. If he _is_ saved, the first thing he'd do would be to
come here and watch for me by stealth. Keep your eyes open, and warn
me."

"But, sir, do you really owe him money?"

"No; I do not," was the positive answer. "I don't legally owe him a
farthing. Nevertheless, I should"—Mr. Trace paused—"I should have some
difficulty in proving that here. Were he to press his false claim upon
me to the extent of arrest, which is just what he'd like to do, I might
languish in prison longer than I care to think of."

"I will look out," murmured Trace. "I think I should know him. I wish
we were not so busy with the Orville. But in a couple of days that will
be over."

"Shall you get that prize?"

"If Paradyne is put out of it. You heard me say so, father?"

"Yes, yes," was Mr. Trace's laconic answer, as if the very mention of
the name were offensive to him.

A silence ensued. Raymond's spirits were down at zero; his father's
were not much higher. As they passed the spot where Mr. Henry came out
to meet the stranger, the fact was naturally recalled to Trace's mind:
he had not yet succeeded in fathoming the mystery. All in a moment a
question darted through him—could that man have been Hopper? That man
was shabby, that man was pale; that man had a reddish cast in his hair,
and looked about two or three and thirty; and Trace had heard him speak
of a voyage. A conviction that it was Hopper, and no other, took
instant possession of him. With his brain heating at the discovery, his
heart shrinking with an apprehensive fear, Trace halted in his walk,
and rapidly told the news.

"When was this, do you say?" questioned Mr. Trace in a covert whisper,
as if afraid the very trees might hear.

"It was last Friday. Five days ago."

"Had the saved passengers been landed then?"

"Oh dear yes, and had come from Cork to England. Young Batty had."

"Then, Raymond, it was Hopper," said Mr. Trace, who was looking at
matters through his own suspicious glasses; and his face seemed to turn
of a grey hue. "Rely upon it, he was trying to ferret out whether I was
in the neighbourhood. Who is this Mr. Henry?"

"Our German and French master. He's an awful rat. Just the fellow for a
sneak to apply to for any dirty information."

"You must try and get the truth out of him—whether it was Hopper or
not, and if so, where he is now. I'll wait for you here."

"What—now?" exclaimed Trace. "I—I don't suppose he'll tell me. I am not
friendly with him."

"Make yourself friendly for the nonce, and worm it out of him," said
Mr. Trace imperatively. "Raymond, _I must be at some certainty_. This
is almost a matter of life or death."

Raymond went forward without another word; and with a curious sinking
of the heart to which he was totally unaccustomed, and did not know
what to make of. This sort of coming home of his father's was so very
different from those past lofty visions of his. As to the possible
arrest, hinted at, Trace went hot when he thought of it. _His_ father
consigned to an ignominious debtors' prison in the face and eyes of the
college where he had played first-fiddle? Why, in appearance it would
be half as bad as the back disgrace of that miserable Paradyne!

Conning his lesson as he went along—a civil request to Mr. Henry to
satisfy him upon some German terminations that hopelessly puzzled
him—Trace at length found himself in Mrs. Butter's garden, and closely
contiguous to a young damsel who was dancing in the moonlight. Trace
raised his cap: child though she was, the school treated her with due
respect as their Head Master's daughter.

"Miss Rose! What are you doing here?"

"I am dancing to keep myself warm."

"But why are you here at all?"

"I came after Emma," she whispered confidentially, with a suppressed
laugh. "She is always going to Mother Butter's after tea now, and
she'll never let me go with her; it's cold she says; so I just ran
after her to-night. I think there's somebody staying here that Emma
comes to see," continued the incautious girl in a lower whisper: "some
friend of Mr. Henry's that dare not go out in the day-time."

"Some friend of Mr. Henry's that dare not go out in the day-time!"
echoed Trace, repeating the words mechanically, his whole thoughts full
of the man who _might_ be there, and _might_ be Hopper. "Why do you
think so, Miss Rose?"

"Never you mind," returned the young lady, with scant ceremony. "I
overheard Emma say something to Mr. Henry the other day; but it's
nothing to you."

At that moment the house door opened, and Miss Brabazon appeared at it,
attended by Mother Butter with a candle in her hand. "You will tell Mr.
Henry, then, when he comes in," Miss Brabazon was saying to the woman,
the words reaching Trace's ear distinctly, as he stepped aside out of
view.

"I will, Miss Emma. He'll be in directly now, and I'll tell him as soon
as he comes."

Miss Brabazon walked away quickly; Rose allowed her to go some
distance, and then ran after her with a shout. A few words of surprised
reprimand echoed on the night air, and they went on together. Trace
followed quietly: it was just possible he might catch a stray word,
touching the "friend" of Mr. Henry's: and he knew now the latter was
not in. In the dwarf shrubbery that wound round near the chapel,
between the cricket field and the gymnasium ground, they met Mr. Henry.
Trace stepped outside it, behind the bushy laurel trees, and there,
rather to his surprise, found himself close to his father, who happened
to have strolled to the spot as he waited for his son. Mr. Henry raised
his hat as he spoke to Miss Brabazon, and the bright moon lit up his
features with perfect distinctness to the view of the gentlemen
watchers.

"I have left a message for you with Mrs. Butter," said Miss Brabazon.
"You will be kind enough to attend to it for me."

"I will," answered Mr. Henry. "Is that you, Miss Rose?"

"She ran after me, naughty child! I am taking her home for punishment,"
returned Miss Brabazon, in a tone between jest and anger. "Good-night."

They parted. Raymond Trace was hastening after Mr. Henry, when he found
his arm detained by his father in a firm grasp. "Let me go," whispered
Raymond. "That's Mr. Henry. I can fall into conversation with him more
naturally as we walk along, than if I made a formal call at his rooms."

"Who do you say it is?" breathed Mr. Trace.

"The German master, Mr. Henry."

"You are mistaken, Raymond; the moonlight is deceiving you. It is some
years since I saw that young man's face, but I should recollect it
amidst a thousand."

Trace stared. "My dear father, I assure you it is Mr. Henry. I ought to
know him; I take my lessons from him daily."

"Do you! It is Arthur Paradyne."

"Who?" almost shouted Trace.

"Arthur Paradyne; the eldest son. In the summer preceding the crash at
Liverpool, business called me to Heidelberg. I took a letter of
introduction to young Paradyne from his father; he was then a junior
master in the university, and I saw him often. He used to act as my
interpreter."

"Then he has been amidst us under a false name!" exclaimed Trace, with
considerable animus.

The father gave a slight laugh. "He has found it convenient to be so,
no doubt. You must still ask him about this man."

Trace darted off. He thought he had got a great hold upon Mr. Henry in
this strange secret, and scarcely could persuade himself to make any
show of courtesy while he entered on the question of the "German
terminations."

"I could show you with the book in two minutes what it might take me
five to explain without it," said Mr. Henry, with his usual ready
kindness. "Perhaps you will come indoors with me."

"Have you any visitor?" asked Trace, rather abruptly.

"Visitor?—no. I am quite alone."

"I—fancied—there—was a visitor at Mother Butter's," returned Trace in a
hesitating manner, not being sure of his best policy, whether to speak
of the visitor openly, whether not. "A friend of yours, somebody said."

"Who said it?"

"Really I cannot charge my memory with that. I saw you meet
some—gentleman—in the plantation a few days ago: I thought it might be
he."

"What a fine night it is!" observed Mr. Henry, courteously ignoring the
suggestion, and letting his pupil see that he intended to ignore it.
"It is clear and cold enough for a frost."

"Mr. Henry, would you mind telling me the name of the person you met?"
resumed Trace, perceiving that if he wanted information he must ask
distinctly for it.

"I cannot tell it you. I cannot tell you anything about him," was the
reply. "We will quit the subject, if you please, Trace; it is neither
yours nor mine."

"Where is he now? Will you tell me that? Is he in this neighbourhood?"

"Let the subject drop, Trace," reiterated Mr. Henry, with quiet
authority. "I say that it is no concern of yours or of mine."

Trace felt himself checkmated; he feared he had not gone to work in a
sufficiently crafty manner, which vexed him. "It may be better that you
should satisfy me on this trifle," he resumed, rather scornfully. "You
are in my power."

"In what manner?" quietly asked Mr. Henry.

"I know your secret. I could go to the Head Master this moment and say,
'We have a wolf in sheep's clothing amongst us; a man with a false
name.' If he has glossed over other things, do you think he would gloss
over that?"

"You can try him."

The equanimity of the voice was so entire, the manner so unruffled,
that Trace began to feel doubtful of his grounds. "Can you deny what I
say?" he asked. "I accuse you of being—not Mr. Henry, but Arthur
Paradyne."

"I am Arthur Henry Paradyne: as the Head Master knows. Though I wonder
how you came to find it out, Trace. In what way does the fact affect
you?"

"The _contact_ has affected us," foamed Trace, giving way to temper for
once in his life, for the cool tone nearly drove him wild. "Is it
fitting that you, the son of—of—you know who and what—should be placed
over us? I wonder you could dare to stay, knowing you were a Paradyne."

"Knowing I was a Paradyne and that you were a Trace, it has made me all
the more solicitous to do my duty by you," came the low answer of
emotion. "Oh, Trace! have you never marvelled why I was so uniformly
lenient to you, so anxious for your advancement, so solicitous to hide
your faults; always striving to do you good, to get you on, to make
your life at college easy? That bitter debt my father left, the wrong
on you and yours, has been ever on my mind: I have been trying to work
a tithe of it off, because I am his son, Arthur Paradyne."

Trace was not in the least softened; his strong prejudices did not
allow him to be so. That this long-disliked master should turn out to
be Arthur Paradyne, seemed like a personal and positive insult to
himself. But he thought he might turn the discovery to present account.

"You can work a portion of the debt off this instant, if you will, by
disclosing to me the name of the man you met."

"That I cannot do. Ask me anything else, Trace."

"Say you will not."

"The terms are almost synonymous. I _may_ not."

"That's enough," retorted Trace, turning on his heel. "Good evening to
you, Mr. Arthur Paradyne."



CHAPTER XXI.

The Outbreak.

It was the morning following the arrival of Mr. Trace. The boys filed
out of chapel: but instead of hindering, lingering, dallying, as it was
generally their pleasure to do, those of the first desk threw off their
gowns with remarkable haste, and rushed into school. As sheep follow
their leader, so do boys mostly go in the wake of their fellows; and
George Paradyne, who appeared to be the only one of the class not
acting in concert, and who had rather wondered wherefore the bustle,
hastened in also. But he found no place for him. His seat was occupied.
By dint of sitting wide instead of close, the first desk contrived to
fill the whole space. Brown major was before Paradyne's particular
compartment, had got it open, and was disposing his own books and
belongings in it.

"What are you doing with my desk, Brown major?" demanded George. "Move
down lower, will you."

Paradyne's place now was next to Trace. It had been curious to note in
the past weeks the tacit antagonism of the two boys, sitting side by
side; Trace ignoring Paradyne always, Paradyne having no resource but
to be ignored. Brown major took no heed to the request, and did not
move down.

"Will you go down, I say, Brown? I shall have to pull you out if you
don't."

Not a word of answer. The boys had their books out now, and were
bending over them, putting up their backs as if some great draught were
behind. George Paradyne laid hold of Brown to swing him out, when
Loftus major interposed. Gall was at home with a temporary
indisposition, or it might not have occurred, since the senior was
expected to keep peace. Bertie Loftus acted in a degree for him, but
assumed little authority.

"Take your hands off him, Paradyne; we cannot have a disturbance here."

"He is in my place; he is taking my desk," cried George.

"Look here," drawled Bertie; "as good be open about the matter. The
class tell me they don't intend to let you occupy your place again: and
if the Head Master insists that you should, there'll be a rebellion.
But it's thought he won't insist in the face of things. I am not
speaking for myself," he continued, idly running his fingers through
his luxuriant curls with a cool indifference that might have been
laughable but that it was so real, and so characteristic of him.
"Being, as may be said, a remotely interested party, I hold myself
neuter: I have neither counselled this, nor do I join in it. But I
can't have a disturbance, you know. Brown, pass me that Homer."

"Just disclose the meaning of this, will you?" cried George, speaking
to the class collectively, "before I pull Brown major out of my place."

"Tell him, some of you," drawled Bertie.

For a moment there was silence: nobody seemed inclined to respond.
Paradyne lifted his arm to begin aggression, when Brown major turned
round; speaking however civilly.

"There'd better be no row over this, Paradyne. If you flung me out of
the place—which perhaps might turn out to be a bit of mistaken
boasting, if we came to try it—another would fill it up. You ought
never to have come among us, and that's a fact; there has been a
feeling against you always, but it's only since a day or two that we've
known the cause. If I were you, I'd go quietly out at that door and
through the college gates, and have done with it for good. And upon my
word and honour I say this for the best: it's the only thing left for
you to do."

"If you don't tell me the meaning of this, I'll fling you out, I say,"
repeated George. "I give you three seconds. One! two!——."

"The meaning is, that you can't be tolerated here any longer,"
interrupted Brown. "Neither may you go in for the Orville."

"That's not the _meaning_—that's the result. I ask you for the
meaning—the reason—the cause. Are you stupid?" added George, stamping
his foot.

"Well—you know what your father was."

"What was he?"

Brown major hesitated. He was of a civil nature, and really did not
like his task. To say to a college friend in his teens—your father was
a swindler—or a forger—or a felon—is not pleasant. There was no time to
lose, for the under-masters were coming in.

"I don't know the rights of it as well as some of them, Paradyne," said
Brown at length. "Of course I'm sorry for _you_; but we are gentlemen
here. Ask Trace the particulars—or ask Lamb."

Before another word could be spoken, the hall had to rise at the
entrance of the Head Master. Instead of taking his seat when he reached
his table, he remained standing, and addressed the first desk.

"Gentlemen, in consequence of the absence of Mr. Henry this morning,
the order of studies has been changed. You will go at once to Mr.
Baker's room for mathematics."

There was a moment's lingering; either in surprise at the command, for
it was completely out of routine, or for some other purpose. Could it
be that the boys were deliberating, each in his heart, whether then to
declare their feud against Paradyne? If so, nothing came of it. Bertie
Loftus led the way through the room, and the rest followed him,
including Paradyne.

Mr. Baker was waiting for them. Mr. Baker was an irascible sort of
gentleman who might have settled any dispute, any incipient rebellion,
by caning around him indiscriminately. The room was large too, the
table spacious, the diagrams on the walls were plentiful, and there was
no chance of shutting out George Paradyne from a seat here. So the
class had to bottle up its resentment for the present.

Trace had not outwardly joined in the movement by word or look. Not in
obedience to the advice given by his father the previous evening, but
in accordance with his usual policy. Mr. Trace had casually remarked,
"I'd not interfere with young Paradyne, Raymond, to oppress him. What
passed was no fault of his, you know." Advice which Mr. Raymond had not
the slightest intention of following. Some inward speculation was
arising in his mind, touching the cause of Mr. Henry's absence, as just
announced. Had he been dismissed? Had the boast—that the Head Master
knew who he really was—been a false one, and had Mr. Henry, in
consequence of the discovery, forced himself to declare his deceit, and
been met by an abrupt dismissal? Trace would have given his two ears—as
they say in France—for the knowledge, but did not see his way clear to
get at it. As if to gratify him, Mr. Baker suddenly inquired of the
class generally, if they knew why Mr. Henry was absent. George
Paradyne, who was standing before one of the slates, following out its
diagrams, turned round to answer.

"Mr. Henry is gone out, sir. I went round this morning to borrow
Ollendorf's key from him, and found him away. Mother Butter thought he
had gone off somewhere by train."

"I feared he might be ill," remarked Mr. Baker. "He has looked ill
lately."


"His wicked conscience smited him,

He lost his stomach daily,"


sang Whitby in an undertone, quoting the lines from a once popular song
that Mr. Lamb carolled on occasion for private benefit at bedroom
festivals, and protested it had been composed by Tennyson.

"Mr. Henry had another of those fainting-fits last night when I was
reading with him," said George, in answer. "Mother Butter came in, and
asked him what he meant by not getting advice for himself."

"Attend to your business," roared out Mr. Baker by way of acknowledging
the information. And they did it, one and all; bottling up their
private grievances, as previously remarked, for a more auspicious
opportunity. Which did not arrive until the close of morning school, so
cross-grained and inconvenient a turn did the order of studies take
that morning.

Mr. Henry had taken the train to London, to pay a visit to a great
physician. Not in obedience to Mrs. Butter's remonstrance, as disclosed
to us by George, but because the time for doing so was come. He had
been intending to see a doctor, long and long; had put it off in a sort
of vague dread, as many of us do; and now it could no longer be
delayed; no, not for a day. As George said, he had another fainting-fit
the previous night; but, instead of recovering from it blithely, as was
usual, he had lain all night in pain, his heart fluttering strangely.
Medical aid, and that of the best, was necessary now, although he felt
well again in the morning.

The dread was not for himself, but for those dependent on him. Who
would help them if his help failed? The whole night long he lay awake,
tormenting himself. With morning light—daylight does not come early
when November is on the dawn—he rose and took his breakfast. Dropping a
note to the Head Master, explaining the cause of his absence, he went
off by train to London, doing all in a quiet manner. Times and again it
had been in his thoughts to go to this gentleman, who was one of fame,
especially in diseases of the heart. Very nearly an hour did he wait in
the anteroom, before his turn came.

He was examined, questioned, talked to: and then the doctor sat down to
his table and took up a pen. But he laid it down again.

"I am about to write you a prescription; but I tell you candidly it is
not medicine you want. One thing may do you good; and one thing only."

"What is that?"

"Rest. Rest both of mind and body. I do not mean tranquillity only, but
entire rest from all kinds of exertion. Great or sudden exertion might
be——" the doctor paused; and, as it struck Mr. Henry, seemed to change
the word he had been about to speak—"prejudicial to you, excessively
so. You must avoid alike fatigue and emotion."

"I gather, then, that my heart is not sound."

"Not quite as sound as could be wished."

"Is it so unsound as to place me in danger?" questioned Mr. Henry, his
luminous eyes bent earnestly on the physician. "You need not fear to
speak freely to me. I have come here to ask you to do so."

"In a case such as yours there is no doubt danger," replied the doctor.
"We can do little. It lies chiefly with the patient himself."

"What does?"

"Well, I had almost said life or death. So long as he can keep himself
perfectly tranquil, the danger is comparatively very little."

"But it is always there, nevertheless, even with tranquillity. Am I to
understand that?"

"It is. In a degree."

"I had a friend once; a fellow-student at Heidelberg, who had
heart-disease. The German doctors recommended perfect tranquillity—as
you do to me. He followed their advice; he was of wealthy family, and
could do it; but the disease made rapid strides, and shortly killed
him. He lay ill less than a week."

"Ah, yes," replied the doctor, evincing no surprise.

Mr. Henry, who displayed and felt entire calm throughout the interview,
then proceeded to mention the strides his own sickness had been making.
He was quite aware of the nature of his (possibly) inherited malady;
recent symptoms had brought the knowledge to him. But, had he been
differently circumstanced, in the enjoyment of past immunity from work
and care and fear, it might not have shown itself for years and years.
As it was—he frankly spoke of what the ending must in all probability
soon be. The physician did not say much; it is not customary to do so;
but when Mr. Henry went, he had gathered that death sooner or later
must come to him. It gave him no shock: he had seemed to know
beforehand what the fiat would be.

Notwithstanding, it was altogether a very serious vista, and yet a
sensation of strange peace seemed to fill his heart. How he had shrunk
from ascertaining the true nature of his disease, from the consequent
absolute cessation from toil, which he knew would be imposed, he alone
knew. All for the sake of his mother, her home, her interests. Over and
over again he had asked himself, who would work for them when he could
not. As if the delay would alter the evil, it was for this he had put
off seeking to know the truth; he had dreaded it as one, unprepared,
dreads death; and now that it was spoken, instead of the torment and
trouble it might have brought, he felt nothing but resignation and
sweet peace.

It was but another great mercy, this feeling, from the loving and
merciful Father: and Mr. Henry had learnt to trust Him in all things,
with the simple, reliant, undoubting trust that a child feels in its
earthly parents; in darkness as well as light; in gloom as well as
brightness. Oh, my boys, how I wish I could make you understand what
this trust is, and how to acquire it! It is the one great blessing in
life; the only true peace; a pearl of great price. It is a sure and
safe refuge; an ever-present comfort in sunshine and in storm; a resort
that is never closed. Every grief, every care, every doubt, had Henry
Paradyne learnt to carry _there_, and he knew that it could not fail
him. "Things seem dark and dreary; I cannot see my way; undertake for
me, Lord!" had been latterly the burden of his prayer. He never failed
to rise up comforted, to _know_ that God had been with him, lending His
gracious ear, listening compassionately to his cry: there were times
when he seemed to have been talking with Him face to face, a joy so
heavenly was diffused throughout his spirit. My boys, you perhaps hold
an idea that religion (as it is very commonly called) is but a gloomy
thing; let me tell you that the real religion, as experienced by those
who live thus near to God, is as a very light of happiness. It will not
come to you all at once; but it will surely come with time if you
earnestly desire it. Think what it is to possess a refuge _always_, one
that cannot fail! In danger and sorrow, in doubt and difficulty, in
trouble and storm, there you may go, and kneeling say, "I cannot see my
way; I am threatened on all sides; my fears overwhelm me. Oh, Father of
mercies, I put myself into Thy hands; guide me, act for me, love me!" I
tell you that, to those who have learnt it, this trust is as a ray
direct from heaven, a glimpse of it before its time. With the necessity
for comfort, comfort had come, and Mr. Henry was at rest.

He made his way home again. Just as he was entering his house, he heard
himself called to, and turning saw Sir Simon Orville.

"I've come on a fishing expedition," cried the knight, who seemed all
in a flurry with the haste he had made.

"A fishing expedition!" repeated Mr. Henry with a smile and air as
tranquil as though—as though he had not been on a visit to the great
physician, and brought that knowledge home with him. Sir Simon glanced
around, wishing to make sure that nobody was within hearing.

The facts were these. Raymond Trace returned to his father the previous
night with the account of what he had been able to do with Mr. Henry:
or, rather, what he had not been able to do. Mr. Trace, by some logic
of reasoning, adopted the information as a proof that the stranger was
undoubtedly Hopper, and went home to Pond Place in a state of mind not
to be envied. The chief torment was the uncertainty. If the man in
hiding was _not_ Hopper, the inconvenience of going away from him was
not to be thought of pleasantly; for, truth to say, Mr. Trace did not
possess so much as a handful of silver to go with: if the man _was_
Hopper, go he must, whatever the cost. He imparted his doubts to Sir
Simon, just relating the story told by Raymond—that there was somebody
in hiding at Mrs. Butter's, who might, perhaps, be Hopper—and no more.
Sir Simon, detecting the anxiety, and a little wondering at it—for, as
he reiterated over and over again to his brother-in-law, rogues could
not threaten gentlemen in England with impunity—undertook to appeal to
Mr. Henry himself the first thing in the morning, and get the matter
set at rest.

"This is the third time I have come here this morning, Mr. Henry.
You've been gadding about London," good-humouredly added Sir Simon, in
supreme unconsciousness of what the "gadding" had been. "And now, as I
say, I am come fishing, and I hope you'll not let me throw out my line
in vain."

Mr. Henry led the way indoors. Nobody was about; Mrs. Butter's kitchen
door was shut, and Sir Simon talked on, believing they were alone, as
soon as he was in the passage.

"My nephew, Raymond Trace, was questioning you, last night, Mr. Henry,
as to some man he had seen you with in the plantation. You thought it
was impertinent curiosity, no doubt, and very properly refused to
satisfy him; but I want you to tell me. Is there anybody staying here
in private, or is there not? And if there is, What's his name?"

Mr. Henry laid his hat and gloves on the table, rubbed his handkerchief
across his damp brow: it was strange how a very little exertion would
put him into a heat now: and led the way to his parlour. "I wish I
could tell you, Sir Simon," he answered, with a smile. "I would have
told your nephew had I been able."

"Can you assure me that there is nobody staying in the house?"

What was Mr. Henry to answer? To say There is not, would have been
untrue: to say There is, might bring somebody trouble.

"Let me tell you why I ask," cried Sir Simon, who was by far too
open-minded a man to succeed in any matter that required craft. "A
friend of mine, at present in this neighbourhood, has an idea that he
is being looked after for a debt he owes: he got to hear, by hook or by
crook, that some rather suspicious-looking stranger had been seen
talking to you, might even be in this house; he thinks it may be his
creditor, and seems to be pretty near out of his senses with fright.
That's just the truth."

"I wish with all my heart I had got a debtor in this part of the
world," cried the voice of a strange head, putting itself in at the
door: and the interruption was so unexpected that Sir Simon backed a
few paces in surprise.

"Why, Tom!" he exclaimed. "Is it you?"

"Yes, it's me," answered Tom Brabazon; forgetting his grammar. "Excuse
my having listened. I am not afraid of you, Sir Simon, but what are you
asking questions about me for?"

"It was not about you I was asking. Is _this_ the friend Raymond saw
you speaking to?" continued Sir Simon, turning to Mr. Henry.

"Yes it is. You perceive it was not my own secret."

"Tell your friend, Sir Simon, that I've more need to run away from him
than he from me," interposed Tom Brabazon. "Here I am; under a deuced
cloud; tormenting Mother Butter out of her daily wits, frightening my
sister at odd and even hours, worrying Mr. Henry to fiddle-strings.
They are getting up a scheme of emigration for me, Emma, and the
doctor, but funds run scarce with him just now, and he thinks I'm in
Whitecross Street. The safest place going, he says, for me. It won't do
to tell him I'm here."

"I'll contribute to the emigration, Tom," cried Sir Simon, his
benevolent eyes glistening. "I'll try and make things straighter for
you with the doctor. Mr. Henry has been keeping your secret, I see."

"In first-rate style, too! He has done all sorts of things for me: home
with my temper when I've invaded his room at night; gone to and fro
with messages for Emma; bought my smoke for me, for old Butter said
she'd not, and stands to it. What a droll man that friend of yours must
be, to be afraid of _me!_"

"But, you see, Tom, we thought it was somebody else," returned Sir
Simon, who really understood less than ever his brother-in-law's
anxiety. But the relief to that gentleman would no doubt be very great.

Sir Simon, ever good-natured, trotted off home to impart the welcome
news, and Mr. Henry, not staying to take anything, but saying he would
be back immediately, went his way to the college. His object was only
to report himself back, for he intended to take his duties in the
afternoon. Not until the following day should be over—the great one of
the Orville examination—would he disturb Dr. Brabazon with his
ailments. The sky was blue and somewhat wintry, the leaves were
falling, the air seemed to strike upon him with a chill. But that sweet
peace, diffusing itself within, was whispering comfort: he might be
taken, but his mother—he saw it with a sure prevision—would be
sheltered under the good care of God.

Not redolent of peace, certainly, were the sounds that greeted his ear
as he came to the quadrangle, or the sight that met his astonished
gaze. His back propped against a pillar, his honest grey eyes flashing
with anger, his arms outstretched to ward off blows, was George
Paradyne.

It has been said that no opportunity occurred for an outbreak on
Paradyne during morning study. That the row began. He was caught up in
passing through the quadrangle, on his way home, and surrounded.
Yelling, shouting, kicking, hitting, a hundred inflamed faces were
turned upon him at once, a hundred arms and legs put out their
aggressive strength. The seniors, who first raised the storm, had not
intended it to take this turn, but they were powerless to stem the
torrent now, and so some of them went in for it. The boy put his back
against a pillar, and stood his ground bravely, fencing off blows as he
best could, hitting back again, his whole face glowing with scorn for
his assailants, and for the unequal conflict. Suddenly Bertie Loftus
appeared: he had been indoors, and knew nothing of it: and stood for a
moment in surprised astonishment. Pushing through the crowd with his
great strength, great when he put his indolence off and his metal on,
he took up a position side by side with Paradyne.

"Look here, you fellows, I'll have no more of this. You ought to be
ashamed of your manners: I am, for you; disgracing yourselves in this
fashion! Trace! Brown major! Talbot! Whitby!—all you strong ones—I call
upon you to beat the throng off. Dick, you young fool, be a man if you
can!"

He spoke with the authority of the acting senior, but he was not obeyed
as the real one. The boys' passions were up. None of them saw that a
stranger who happened to be passing, had halted at the great gates to
look on, and was standing in amazement. Bertie's words made some
temporary impression, and there came a lull in the storm.

"Now then," he cried, taking advantage of the silence, "wait, all of
you. Let us bring a little reason to bear, and don't go in for this
row, as if you were so many Irish jackasses met at a fighting fair.
Trace, the affair is yours if it's anybody's; you raised it; suppose
you explain to Paradyne what the matter is."

"Suppose you explain yourself," retorted Trace, terribly vexed at being
thus publicly called upon.

"It is not my business," said Bertie. "You know, you all know, I have
not joined the cabal."

"Let Paradyne take himself off, and have done with it," roared a voice:
and a Babel of tongues followed, each one taking the explanation on
itself. The late Mr. Paradyne was called everything but a gentleman,
some of the names being remarkably choice. George, with flashing eyes
and earnestly indignant words, denied the truth of the charges, and
stood up as bravely (morally) for his father, as he did physically for
himself. He kept his place and defied the lot, Bertie protecting him.

"Wasn't he a sneak? Wasn't he a swindler? Didn't he go in for
everything that was low and bad and dishonest, and then poison
himself?" roared the malcontents, hustling and jostling each other.

"No; he was neither a sneak nor a swindler; he went in for nothing that
was bad, and he did not poison himself," retorted George. "Look
here—you, Lamb—when you were accused of firing off the pistol that shot
the earl, were you not innocent?"

"Of course I was innocent," roared Lamb.

"But your innocence did not prevent your being accused. When that straw
man was set ablaze to frighten Mother Butter, I had nothing to do with
it, as you are all aware, I did not even know of it, but Baker accused
me, and gave me the cane. Well, it was just so with my father. He was
accused, being perfectly innocent, and before the proofs of his
innocence could be brought forth, before almost he had time to deny it,
before he well understood what the charge was, he died: the excitement
killed him. Loftus—and I thank you for standing by me now, and I know
you have never worked against me as some of the rest have—I told your
father this in Boulogne, and I think he grew to believe me. If you have
anything to bring against me, you fellows, bring it; but you shall not
traduce my father. What have _you_ to say, Trace?"

"I am sorry you force me to speak, Paradyne," returned Trace, his quiet
voice, civil still, rising above the hubbub. "I say that your father
_was_ guilty, and that you had no right to come here amidst honest
men's sons. We have put up with the companionship; the Head Master
forced us to it; and have kept your secret from the rest; and should
have kept it to the end but for your attempting to go up for the
Orville. It was pure audacity, that, and you were exceedingly
ill-advised to think of it. No fellow whose father had dirty hands——"

George Paradyne laid his hand on Trace's mouth, sharply enough, though
it was not a blow. It was the signal for renewed hostilities. Trace
drew away, but many of the others hit out; Bertie Loftus and George
being on the defensive. It was at this moment that Mr. Henry came up;
he interposed with more authority than Bertie possessed; but the boys
turned their derisive backs upon him, and kicked out behind. Mr. Henry
was not to be put down: never was authority more uncompromising than
his, when he chose to exert it. He pressed forward and stood before the
assailants; he stopped the blows with his firm but gentle hands, he
spoke words of calm good sense, his soothing voice hushed the noise and
rancour. It was as if magic were at work, or some expert mesmerist: the
angry feelings subsided; the boys' passions were allayed: the fierce
storm had become a calm.

"Enough of this for now. George, you go home. Gentlemen, make way for
him if you please. As to the Orville, which, as I gather, is the bone
of contention, his going up for it, or the contrary, is for the
decision of the Head Master; not for yours. Disperse quietly, every
one."

In after-days, when the boys should think over this little episode in
their school life, some wonder might arise in their minds how it was
that they had so implicitly obeyed. It is true Mr. Henry made a slight
allusion—it was nothing more—to certain divine mandates, that clearly
do not enjoin quarrelling and fighting and evil passions, rather, peace
and love: but the boys did not at the moment seem to think much of
that. It was ever so: come upon what scene of conflict he would, Mr.
Henry was sure to turn it into peace. The boys flitted indoors, one and
all, Bertie Loftus bringing up the rear; and Mr. Henry went inside the
cloisters and sat down on the narrow base of a stone pillar as if his
strength or his breath failed him. George Paradyne, looking round from
the small gate, happened to catch sight of his face, and came back,
asking if he felt ill.

"It's nothing," said Mr. Henry; but the wan face, the panting breath
seemed to belie the words. "Wait a moment, George: I want to speak to
you. I think you had better withdraw your name for the Orville."

"Not I. Look here, Arthur—and I'll be hanged if I care, though they
hear me call you so—this attack upon papa makes me all the more
resolute to go in and _win_. Good-bye; I shall be round this evening."

George ran on. At the great gates stood the stranger still, looking and
listening. A man of thirty, or thereabouts, with reddish hair. As
George rushed by, a thought arose that he had seen the face somewhere
before: but he was in a hurry and took no particular notice.

"A nice row, that, for college gents," cried the stranger, ignoring
ceremony. "And so you are George Paradyne! How you have grown!"

George stopped, naturally; and devoured the face with his eyes. As the
light of recollection dawned upon him, he darted close to the man, and
cried out with a great cry.

"You are Abel Hopper!"

"Just so. But I didn't expect to see you in these parts."

It was indeed Hopper, the ex-clerk at Liverpool. The coincidence was
curious; had we time to follow it out—that the real Hopper should make
his appearance just as the fears of Mr. Trace should have been set at
rest as to the false one.

"You see the life that is mine; the disgrace that clings to me," panted
George, in his impulsive emotion. "If you have a spark of manly
feeling, you will speak out and clear my father's memory, even though
at the cost of criminating yourself."

Hopper stared at George with a questioning gaze. "I don't know what you
mean," he said. "You must talk plainer, young sir."

"Yes, you do know. You know—don't you—that my father was innocent?"

"I do know it. He was innocent."

"And that you were guilty."

"No; that I swear I was not."

The accent wore a sound of truth, and George paused. "Then who was
guilty?"

Hopper laughed as he crossed the road to the plantation. "We may come
at that, perhaps, Master George, by-and-by. All in good time."

"But it is not all in good time," cried George, pursuing him. "Oh, come
with me to my mother! She has believed him guilty; and it has
embittered her heart, and changed her nature, and made a misery of our
daily life. Only come and show her that he was innocent!"

But Hopper only went on all the quicker, and the sound of George's
voice died away in the distance. Mr. Henry had seen and heard nothing
of this. Some of the boys were coming out again with bats in their
hands. Trace was one: but he carried a book, not a bat. They wondered
what the German was sitting there for. Trace went up to him, and spoke.

"The part you acted just now was uncalled for, though I did not stop it
before the school. Interference on Paradyne's behalf from you is
particularly out of place."

"I think not, Trace."

"You think not! When you know who you are! A man who is here under a
false name; whose life is a lie; is not one to——"

Trace stopped. The boys had been nearer than he thought, and were
listening with eager ears. Mr. Henry got up and walked away.

"Trace, what did you mean?" came the eager questioning voices. "Who
_is_ he?"

And Trace told them. Betrayed out of his usual civil prudence, or
perhaps tired of concealment, at last he disclosed the secret he had so
recently learnt. It was another Paradyne.

Another Paradyne! Another of the bad brood! Trace, giving his nose a
contemptuous twist, pointed a finger of scorn after the receding
master: and the boys stared in stupid wonder. Another Paradyne!



CHAPTER XXII.

Before the Examiners.

The great day had come, big with the fate of the Orville, All Saints'
Day, the First of November. In the large hall, made ready for the
occasion, wearing their gowns, their trenchers laid beside them, sat
the candidates, before the gentlemen who had come from other parts and
schools to preside with the masters of the college. It might, on the
face of things, have been almost called a solemn farce, this sitting
there in conclave, this great examination, confined to one day and to
the formal routine of questioning, but that it was known the true
adjudicator of the prize was Dr. Brabazon, who had probably decided
beforehand upon the victor. Essays and papers on various subjects had
been prepared and given in previously by the candidates; these had been
examined, and their respective merits adjudicated upon by the masters
in their several departments, whose opinions as to individual merit
were conveyed to the Head Master in sealed notes. It had been
impossible for Mr. Henry to assign the palm in his branches, French and
German, to any other than Paradyne; but the just impartial tone of his
mind might be seen by the fact that he had appended to his decision a
memorandum, calling the Head Master's attention to the fact of George
Paradyne's partly foreign education; thus leaving it to Dr. Brabazon
whether the proficiency should be allowed to weigh in the contest. He
need not have troubled, for, after all, now that the trial had come,
Paradyne did not go up for it.

A sort of disturbance took place the previous night about Paradyne. Mr.
Jebb, made acquainted with the cabal in the quadrangle, had carried the
grievance to the Head Master, and the candidates were called into the
study, Paradyne excepted. Gall, who had come back, made one of them.
Sir Simon Orville was sitting with the Master—which was unexpected. The
question to be decided was this: was Paradyne, with his burden of
inherited disgrace, to be allowed to compete for the Orville with
themselves, who had no such inheritance, and repudiated all possibility
of disgrace on their own score, present and future, and for their
forefathers in the past. The matter was settled by Sir Simon, who
scarcely allowed the Head Master to put in a word edgeways, even to
acquiesce. He said that if Paradyne was excluded from the trial, his
nephews, Loftus and Trace, should not go up for it, nor Gall either,
for he should take upon himself to act for his friend, Gall the elder,
who was a very particular enemy to oppression in any shape. It decided
the question. Gall and Talbot at once spoke up, saying they had never
wished Paradyne not to try; Loftus said the same; Brown major, with
round eyes, avowed an opinion that it would be horribly unfair to
Paradyne to deprive him of the chance, and he had always privately
thought so, though he _had_ gone in for the row against him. Dr.
Brabazon dismissed the lot with a covert reprimand, and Trace, speaking
a private word with Sir Simon, learnt that the man whom he had seen
with Mr. Henry was not the dreaded Hopper. The news consoled Trace in
some degree for this unwelcome decision, and he was uncharitable enough
to hope that individual had been drowned.

But on this, the eventful morning, a note had been delivered to the
Head Master from George Paradyne, saying he withdrew from the contest.
And perhaps the master was not in his heart sorry, for it put an end to
a matter of strife that had been somewhat difficult to deal with.

How had George Paradyne been won over to do this? you may be asking in
surprise. In the first place, Hopper had—so to say—eaten his words.
George had found out where he was staying, at a small obscure inn
beyond the station, and went to him in the evening, pressing the man to
say who was really guilty. Hopper could only be brought to respond in a
joking, derisive sort of way; but insisted that the guilty man was
really Captain Paradyne. "You know it was your father, after all," he
said emphatically to George; and his look and tone were so sincere,
that George's heart sunk, for the first time, with a doubt that it had
been. In this frame of mind, his spirit subdued almost to despondency,
George went round to Mr. Henry's; and when the latter urged him again
to give up the Orville, George received the advice in silence.

"You think it right, then, that I should yield to this cabal against
me?"

"It is not altogether that, George," said Mr. Henry, who was lying upon
three chairs, and spoke slowly, as if in pain. "They are all against
you, and perhaps it is not right that one should hold out in opposition
to the many. Not on that account would I so strenuously urge it, but on
another. There is little doubt that the real contest will lie between
you and Trace."

"And as little doubt that I shall beat him in it," added George.

"Yes, I believe you would. Well, George, do a generous action and
withdraw from it for his sake. Let Trace get it. That past wrong upon
him can never be wiped out by us; but we, you and I, may do a trifle
now and then of kindness to him, perform some little sacrifice or other
in requital of it. _I_ have been ever seeking for the opportunity since
I came here; it is one reason why I have been always urging you to
peaceful endurance, rather than active resentment; George, be generous
now."

And George Paradyne was at length won over to this view. His mother, in
her haughty resentment against the school for their treatment of him
that day, had already urged it. The note of renouncement was written to
the Head Master, and one candidate's chance for the coveted prize was
over. It was made known just before the examination began, after the
morning service in the chapel.

"It will be Trace's now," cried the boys with shouts of victory.
"Trace, old fellow, here's wishing you joy! The rest might as well give
in at once."

"It is not for the sake of the benefit," disclaimed Trace, his cheeks
wearing their salmon-coloured tinge of satisfaction, "but for the
honour it will bring. It would have been out of the order of just
things for that tainted fellow to gain it over me."

Of course. But nevertheless there was a feeling on some of them—led to,
perhaps, by a word of Gall's—that it was an unfair thing for Paradyne
to have been put out of the trial.

The long table was removed from the middle of the hall—the sweating
hall it was called that day—and the candidates sat across it, before
the masters and the gentlemen. One of the masters was not there—Mr.
Henry, and it was supposed he was resenting the defeat of Paradyne. Let
us leave them to their work.

The rest of the boys had a holiday, and highly agreeable they found it;
although an order had been appended to the privilege that no noise
whatever should be made within bounds, to the disturbance of the
examiners. This rendered them a little uncertain what to do with
themselves, until it entered into the bright head of Brown minor to
propose to "have it out with Mother Butter." About ten of them started
on this laudable errand, chiefly second-desk boys. But when they
arrived at that estimable lady's residence, they found that she was
abroad and her kitchen locked up.

It was a disappointment. There was no paint convenient to paint the
door green, as they had the cow, or they might have tried their hand at
it. They stood disconsolate.

"Let's take a look at old Henry in his sulks!" cried Mr. Smart,
briskly. "Fancy his not showing at the examination!"

"And ask him how he relishes Paradyne's being put out," added Lamb.

"Won't it be jolly!" said Dick Loftus, beginning to dance.

They turned to the door. Mr. Henry's assumed sullenness at Paradyne's
defeat was set down partly to the special fact that he had coached that
gentleman, partly to his mortification at the disclosure that he was
not himself but somebody else. Trace had favoured the school with all
particulars. This would be almost as good fun as Mother Butter.

"Let's give a postman's knock, or he mayn't open it," whispered Leek.

A postman's knock they gave; so far as fists upon a parlour door could
imitate that sound. It was not so distinct as it might have been, from
the fact that too many hands gave it in too many places. Mr. Henry's
voice called out, "Come in," not very distinctly. And in they went. The
room was empty, but in the small bed-chamber opening from it, the door
thrown wide, they saw their master. He was in bed, sitting up in it,
not lying, leaning back against some cushions.

Ah yes, the incapability had come, all too soon. Had he seen the
physician to-day instead of yesterday, there had been no need of the
injunction, to give up work, to stay away from the college. The disease
had shown itself rapidly and unmistakably; the power of exertion had
left him. And there he lay; a desperate pain at his heart, and the
crimson of hectic on his cheeks.

Appearances were so unlike "sullenness," or any thing else they
expected to find, that the invading crew stood in sudden discomfiture
of spirit. Two or three of them began to back out; but Mr. Henry held
out both his hands with a sweet smile of welcome.

"I hoped some of you might come to see me this holiday, when you knew I
was ill. Thank you all, my dear lads."

"But we didn't come to see you because you were ill; we didn't know
it," cried truthful, open Dick. "I'm afraid we came for something else.
We thought you were stopping away in vexation, sir, because Paradyne
was not going up for the Orville."

Mr. Henry gently shook his head. "It is by my advice that Paradyne does
not go up. I should have been vexed if he had. And now tell me how you
are spending your holiday."

He seemed to speak with a slow, faint voice, and breath that did not
come so freely as it ought. The boys made no answer. They were taking
in everything, and had not yet regained their audacity. Lamb had fully
meant to address him as Mr. Paradyne, and go in for a sneer, but
somehow could not readily get the name out, and felt crestfallen in
consequence.

"Are you staying away on account of illness, Mr. Henry?" asked Leek.

"Don't you see that I am?"

"But the examination's on!" cried Leek, who could not understand any
illness to be as important as the trial for the Orville.

"I wish I could have gone," Mr. Henry replied. "I lay very still all
night hoping to get strength to appear, but it proved useless."

"When shall you be well enough to come back to college?" asked Dick
Loftus, in rather a subdued tone.

Mr. Henry took one of Dick's hands in his; with the other he clasped
Leek's. He did not reply at once, only looked out at them all with a
strangely affectionate gaze.

"Should you miss me very much if I were never to come back again?"

"But you _are_ coming back?" exclaimed Brown minor, leaning forward on
the foot of the bed.

"I think not. I fear not. I have thought for some little time now that
this might be the ending. But it has come on very rapidly."

"You—don't mean," hesitated Brown, "that you are—going to die?"

"I fear it may be so."

The boys stood awestruck. Their hearts seemed to have stopped beating.

"But, Mr. Henry—what a dreadful thing!"

"Oh, boys, it may be a happy thing. God knows what is best for me."

"Why don't you have a doctor?"

"Your friend Mrs. Butter's gone for one now," he answered, with a
smile. "And I went into London yesterday morning and saw a great
physician. It was the cause of my absence from class."

They remembered the absence quickly enough, and also the row in the
quadrangle afterwards, which he had quelled.—Had that disturbance
anything to do with this sudden increase of illness? The physician
might have said it had.

Going to die! A terrible shadow, as of remorse for unkindness rendered,
fell upon them as they stood. They called to mind how they had treated
him; how uniformly kind and forgiving and generous he had been to them
in spite of it, and of the peace he had contrived to shed.

Leek's conscience began to prick him. "Is your illness caused by the
trouble you have had with us boys, Mr. Henry?" he asked, remembering
the promise he had given that day in the Strand, and how soon he had
forgotten it.

"No, no. It may have helped it on a little: I can't tell."

Dick Loftus's heart was collapsing more than anybody's; it was one of
the tenderest breathing. "I wish the time would come over again!" cried
the boy, in his flood-tide of repentance. "I've been worse than any of
them. I hope you'll never forgive me."

"Not forgive you!" cried Mr. Henry, regarding him tenderly with his
luminous eyes. "There's nothing to forgive. It seems that you have
always been kind to me. You have let me give you many a private lesson,
and take your part in many a dispute. Thank you for it all, Dick."

"But that has been doing kindness to me," debated Dick.

"And to do you kindness, Dick, is one of the things I have lived for,"
said Mr. Henry, softly. "I am a Paradyne, you know; I have had a great
debt upon me."

Dick could not see the argument, although Mr. Henry was a Paradyne.
Brown minor interposed with an opportune question.

"Does the Head Master know of your illness, Mr. Henry?"

"Yes. He's coming round when the day's work's over."

"Trace will have the Orville."

"Oh, yes, I hope so."

The boys began to back out. Illness that might be about to terminate in
death, nobody knew how soon, was what they were not accustomed to. It
seemed to strike upon them as disheartening; not to mention a sense of
awkwardness in the manners that was anything but agreeable. They had
gone in, impudent and noisy; they went out humbly on tiptoe. At the
garden gate they encountered Mother Butter, and did not molest her, or
pay her a single compliment; to that lady's infinite astonishment, who
came to the conclusion that they must have been "cowed" by a flogging
all round.

Dick Loftus sat down on the stump of a tree in the playground. Dick,
for the first time in his life, was supping sorrow. He did not look at
the past in the light Mr. Henry appeared to do, when he spoke of the
debt left on him by Captain Paradyne; but he remembered what the
universal kindness (about which he had never previously thought) had
been, and he knew that he who had shown it was passing rapidly away.

With an aching of the heart that Dick had never felt,—with the
consciousness of that bitter sin, ingratitude, breaking its refrain on
his brain, Dick started to his feet again, and dashed after Brown
minor, taking a knife from his pocket as he ran. It was a recent
acquisition, bought with some money that Dick had been saving for the
purpose, and prized accordingly. Mr. Brown was astride on a gymnastic
pole.

"Look here, Brown: you wanted to buy my knife for three shillings the
other day, and I laughed at you. You shall have it now. It cost
four-and-six pence."

Brown minor, a regular screw at a bargain, took the knife in his hand
for a critical examination. "I'd not give that now, Dick. You've used
it."

"I've not hurt it," answered Dick. "I haven't a penny in my pocket," he
continued ruefully; "I want money for something, or I'd not sell it.
What will you give?"

"I don't mind two shillings."

Dick tossed over the knife and held out his hand for the money. Brown
gave eighteenpence; it was all he had about him, he said, and promised
the other sixpence later. Dick took the available cash and started off
to the shops. Half an hour later Mr. Henry was disturbed by his sudden
entrance with a cargo of treasures. Three sour oranges, but the best
Dick could get; an apple as large as a child's head; some almond rock;
two bath buns; an ounce of cough lozenges; and Captain Marryat's novel
"Snarley Yow," which he had gone in trust for. These several articles
he tumbled out upon the bed.

"If you will try an orange, or a piece of the rock, Mr. Henry, you'll
be sure to like them," said Dick earnestly. "And the book's beautiful.
You'll laugh yourself into fits over it."

Mr. Henry caught the boy's hands, his eyes glistening with dew: "Thank
you very much, Dick! God bless you. This kindness does me good."

He did not damp the generous ardour by saying that the purchases would
be useless to him: rather did he seem to make much of the collection in
his grateful good nature. And Dick Loftus, wringing the delicate hand,
turned tail and bustled out again: for his eyes were glistening too.



CHAPTER XXIII.

Falling from a Pinnacle.

You might decidedly have thought that Mr. Raymond Trace was treading
upon air. But that it was almost dark—for the examination had only
terminated when the shades of evening fell—his bearing might have
excited the admiration of his fellows. His back was upright, his face
was lifted; pride and self-sufficiency puffed him out. He had come out
well before the examiners, and there could be no moral doubt that the
prize would be his. Talbot had also done well—they were about upon a
par; but Trace and everybody else knew that Talbot, his junior in the
college, would not be preferred to him. The examiners had complimented
him; the Head Master had shaken hands with him; Trace felt elevated to
the seventh heaven, and was walking forth to impart the glorious news
at Sir Simon's.

Treading upon air. His gown was thrown back from his shoulders, his
trencher sat jauntily on his head, his boots creaked, his feet seemed
not to touch the ground. Just before he turned in at Sir Simon's gate,
he saw two people turn out of it, and recognized George Paradyne and
his mother. Trace vouchsafed no notice whatever, and thought it very
like their impudence to be there. George, who did not recognize him at
the first moment, ran after him inside the grounds.

"Have you gained the prize, Trace?" he asked, as he caught him up.

"It has not pleased the Head Master to proclaim who has gained it or
who has not," answered Trace, turning, and speaking with the same sort
of accent he might have used to a dog.

"But I suppose you feel sure of it?"

"I have felt that all along. I _am_ sure now."

"That's right," cried George heartily. "I am glad I gave up to you! If
I have been secretly chafing over it all day, I'm only thankful now."

"Glad you gave up to me!" retorted Trace. "You did not give up to me;
you were forced to give up because you couldn't help yourself."

"I gave up to you indeed, Trace; that you might get it. It was through
Mr. Henry; he persuaded me: and I'm heartily glad of it as things have
turned out. Good-bye, old fellow! I won't keep you now; but I'll stand
by you through all, Trace. Mind that."

Scarcely according a moment's thought to the ambiguous words, except to
resent their insolence, Trace gave his shoulders a shake,
metaphorically shaking off George Paradyne, and went on his way of
triumph. Ah, boys! how often when we are at the very height of
prosperity, is a fall near! as you go through life you will remark it.
That was the last hour of pride to Raymond Trace.

He rang grandly at the hall-bell—as became a senior fellow who was
above the ordinary run of mortals, and had just gained the Orville. "Is
Mr. Trace in the dining-room?" he asked of Thomas, rubbing his shoes on
the inner mat, and handing him his gown and trencher.

A simple question, however lordly put, but Thomas answered it in a
peculiar way. He dropped his voice to a confidential whisper, and laid
his fore-finger on Trace's shoulder, as if there were some mystery in
the house.

"He's not here, Mr. Raymond. He is safe off."

"Safe off!" exclaimed Trace. "What do you mean?"

"He is gone, sir. I let him out at the back-lawn window, with his
carpet-bag, as soon as it was dusk."

Trace stared at the man. "What is he gone for?"

"There's some trouble afoot, Mr. Raymond, and your father has gone away
out of it. He was looking like a ghost. Mr. Loftus is telegraphed for,
and we think he may get here to-night by a late train."

"But what is the trouble?" asked Trace, a strange feeling of vague
dismay stealing over him.

Thomas shook his head. "I don't rightly know what it is, sir. A man of
the name of Hopper brought it, I fancy, and he's in there now with Sir
Simon"—pointing to the dining-room. "I dare say you can go in, Mr.
Raymond," he added, advancing to open the door. "Mrs. Paradyne has just
gone."

It had been an eventful day. While Raymond Trace was flourishing his
acquirements and his proficiency before learned men, fate, so
cross-grained at times, was working elsewhere no end of ill. On the
hearthrug, when he went in, stood Sir Simon and Hopper. Hopper left
them, and Sir Simon prepared to enter upon an explanation. Trace set
himself to listen; a moisture as of some awful dread, breaking out upon
his brow.

It appeared that Hopper had been dodging about the neighbourhood the
past day and part of this, stealthily looking after Mr. Trace, and
endeavouring by covert inquiries to ascertain whether or not he was in
it; which plan he adopted for certain private reasons, rather than
apply boldly at Sir Simon's, and make open inquiry. He could learn
nothing. Nobody had seen any such person about, as he described Mr.
Trace to be. This afternoon, he met Mrs. Paradyne close to her house,
and she caused him to enter. Full of her griefs and grievances, she
spoke out unreservedly, especially of this latter grievance of George's
treatment about the Orville Prize; that he should have been forced to
put himself out of it that young Trace might win.

Hopper listened. He seemed struck with the injustice dealt to the boy.
He could but sympathize with Mrs. Paradyne—who had been kind to him in
the days gone by, when he was a poor friendless clerk—and her
misfortunes; with her changed face, with the tears that she once in her
life let fall, overcome by the old associations his presence brought;
and in a rash fit of generosity, he avowed solemnly to her that the
misfortunes were unmerited, for her late husband was _not the guilty
man_. He appeared to repent of this confidence almost as soon as given,
and went away, asking her to keep it strictly to herself.

Keep it to herself! not Mrs. Paradyne. The disclosure had fallen on her
in the light of a revelation; the belief maintained in her husband's
guilt swept itself from her mind at a single stroke, and she marvelled
at her credulous blindness. It seemed to change the current of her
life's blood, the knowledge; to restore to her the energy she had lost.
Never so much as giving a thought to Hopper's request for secrecy,
deeming it wholly unreasonable, Mrs. Paradyne took her way to Sir Simon
Orville's, requested a private interview, and told her tale. Sir Simon,
impressed by the energetic words, caught up the conviction that the
unfortunate Captain Paradyne had been really innocent. He could not
call Mr. Trace to the council because that gentleman had gone to London
by train and was not yet back.

"And who was guilty?—who was guilty, my dear lady?" cried Sir Simon.
"Did Hopper tell you that?"

"No; he would not say. I pressed the question urgently on him,"
continued Mrs. Paradyne; "but could get no answer. All he said was,
that it was inconvenient just yet to disclose it."

"The guilty man was himself," said Sir Simon.

"I do not think so," answered Mrs. Paradyne. "His manner did not strike
me as that of a guilty man."

Sir Simon nodded, but did not by words maintain his opinion. He quitted
the room, took prompt measures, and in a very short while, Mr. Hopper
found himself under convoy to Pond Place, somewhat against his will.

There, very much to his surprise, he was accused by Sir Simon of the
past frauds. At first Hopper laughed at it; but he soon found it a
matter all too earnest; that he was about to be consigned to the
protection of the law. In self-defence he made a clean breast of the
truth, and avowed that the real culprit was—Robert Trace.

Sir Simon Orville felt something like a stag at bay. He listened to the
particulars like a man in a dream: never, never had his doubts touched
on this. And Mr. Trace, who returned home during the recital, and was
told by Thomas that Sir Simon was engaged on business, went straight to
his chamber, all unconscious that the business concerned him, and that
he had been seen to enter and was recognized by Hopper.

"I suspected Mr. Trace from the very first," observed Hopper,
continuing his story to Sir Simon. "A singular occurrence, though
trifling enough in itself, led to my doing so: and I thought it was
beyond the range of probability that Mr. Paradyne, so simple-minded and
honourable, could be guilty. But Mr. Paradyne died before anything
could be proved or disproved, and the guilt was supposed to have died
with him. Mr. Trace hushed the matter up. People said how lenient he
was; but I looked upon the leniency, which was foreign to his usual
mode of doing business, as another reason for doubting him. I was not
sure, but I quietly set to work to track out my clue; I had one to go
upon; and I tracked it out surely and safely. The result was what I had
anticipated—Robert Trace was the guilty man. Never, sure, was one so
lucky before! had Mr. Paradyne but lived four-and-twenty hours, the
farce could not have been kept up. Ask him, Sir Simon, whether I am
right or not," concluded the worthy Hopper. "I know he is here."

"If you knew all this, why did you not denounce him at the time?"
growled Sir Simon, who was feeling terribly scandalized by the whole
thing.

"Because he had sailed for America before I had finished tracking it
out."

"And you followed him there! And worried his life nearly out of him,
trying to make your own game. I see now; I understand it all," added
the aggrieved knight, his thoughts going back to the semi-explanations
of Hopper's conduct and claims, given him by Mr. Trace.

"Anybody else would have done the same in my place, sir," was the
self-excusing answer. "It was better for him that I should keep the
affair hushed up, than proclaim it."

"And the Paradynes to have lain under the guilt all this while!"
groaned Sir Simon. "What on earth did he do with the money?" he added,
the problem striking him.

"Ah well, that's best known to himself," cried Hopper. "He _had_ it. He
went into ventures under another name, for one thing."

"Into ventures?"

"Speculations, and that," explained Hopper. "Lots of folks do the same
nowadays, more than the world knows of. If successful, they grow into
millionaires, and their friends can't make out how; if non-successful,
there comes a smash. Ask him, sir, whether it's not all true that I
have told you. I saw him come up that path a few minutes ago."

Sir Simon Orville had no need to ask. A conviction that the man did
indeed speak truth was within him, sure and certain as a light of
revelation. He followed Mr. Trace to his chamber and accused him,
speaking quietly and sadly; and Mr. Trace finding that Hopper was
below, felt scared out of his senses. The time for denial was past:
Robert Trace, believing himself overtaken by the destiny that seemed so
long to have been pursuing him, did not attempt to make any. Sir Simon,
locked in with him, saw how it was—that the hunted man was, and had
been all these years, at his ex-clerk's mercy.

"I never intended to accuse Paradyne," said Mr. Trace with abject lips.
"Loftus got meddling with the accounts, a thing he had not done for
years, and found something was wrong. For appearance sake, I was
obliged to go through the books with him; and then to agree with him
that fraud must be at work. It was Loftus who accused Paradyne; there
was no one else whom it was possible to suspect; it was Loftus who
ordered him to be taken into custody: and I could not say the man was
innocent without betraying myself. Then came Paradyne's sudden death,
and I let the onus of guilt rest upon him."

Sir Simon interposed with but one question. "What became of the money?"

"Private speculations," answered Robert Trace. "There you have the
whole."

Yes; Sir Simon had the whole, and now, a little later in the day,
Raymond Trace had it. Mr. Trace had made his escape from the house at
the dusk hour, while Hopper was still detained with Sir Simon. Hopper
showed every wish, as far as hints could show, to compromise the
affair; meaning, that for a sum of money he would hush up Mr. Trace's
part in it. Sir Simon dismissed him when Raymond entered: Mr. Hopper
gave his address at the inn, and went away in confidence; leaving, as
he supposed, Mr. Trace the elder and Sir Simon to talk over any offer
they might feel inclined to make him.

Sir Simon disclosed the whole to Raymond: there was no possibility of
its being kept from him. The boy—if it be not wrong to call him so—sat
very still on a low chair, feeling as if the world, and everything in
it bright, and honest, and desirable, were closing to him. If ever a
spirit was flung suddenly down on its beam-end from an exalted
pinnacle, it was that of Raymond Trace.

"You cannot go in for the Orville now, Raymond," said Sir Simon to him
in a low tone, breaking a long and miserable pause.

Raymond glanced slightly up. "I have gone in for it. And gained it."

"My boy, you know what I mean. You must give up the gain."

The same thought had been beating itself into Trace's conscience. A
bitter struggle was there. "You would have let Paradyne gain it and
wear it, Uncle Simon, when you thought _his_ father guilty!"

"True. But there is a difference in the cases."

As Raymond Trace saw for himself. He sat with his pale face bent, his
cold fingers unconsciously pressing his hair off his brow. Sir Simon,
sorry to his heart for the signs of pain, laid his own hand
compassionately on the cold one.

"Raymond, this disgrace is no more your fault than it was young
Paradyne's. Take my advice: look it in the face, now, at first; do your
best in it; in time you may live it down. Let it be the turning-point
in your life. You have not gone in—I use the language of your college
fellows—for a strictly straightforward course: begin and do so now. It
will be as certain to lead you right in the end, as the other will lead
you wrong. Begin from this very hour, Raymond."

"I'll do what I can," was the subdued answer. "Where's my father gone?"

"I don't know where until he writes to me. Raymond! your mother, poor
thing, knew the truth of this."

Raymond looked up questioningly.

"I am sure of it. I can understand now her bitter sorrow, the shivering
dread that used to come over her, her anxiety that I should be kind to
the Paradynes. She seemed always to be living in a sort of fear. The
knowledge must have killed her."

Trace shivered in his turn. Yes, the knowledge of her husband's guilt,
and the fear of its coming to light, must have killed her.

"Have you sent for Mr. Loftus, Uncle Simon?"

"Hours ago. Thomas telegraphed for him."

Raymond rose. It was time for him to go. He must show himself at
college, and attend evening service at chapel as usual. On festivals
especially there might be no excuse, and this was All Saints' Day. The
great examination had not done away with duties, neither did this
private blow of his own. A thought crossed his mind to write a note to
the Head Master, and never go back to college again: but it was not
feasible. Better, as Sir Simon said, face it out. If he could bring
himself to do it!

The contrast nearly overwhelmed him—between this walk out and the
recent walk in. He placed his back against a tree in the long avenue,
wondering if any misery since the world began had ever been equal to
this. As he stood there, the cruelty of his behaviour to the Paradynes
came rushing over him in very hideousness. Mr. Henry had once put an
imaginary case to him—"Suppose it had been your father who was
guilty?"—and that now turned out to be reality. Trace's line of conduct
was coming home to him; all its hard-heartedness, all its sin: a little
forgiving gentleness towards the Paradynes, a little loving help to
bear their heavy burden, would have cost him nothing; and, oh! the
comfort it would have brought to him, now, in his bitter hour. As a man
sows so must he reap.

They were filing into the robing-room when he got in. Gall said
something about his being late, but Trace took no notice. He had his
gown on already, and stood near the door to take up his place.

"Have you heard the news?" asked Gall.

"What news?" was the mechanical response.

"About Mr. Henry. He is dying."

"Dying! Mr. Henry! Who says it?"

"It is quite true, unhappily; he will never get up from his bed again,"
answered Gall. There was no time for more explanation: the masters were
approaching, and the organ was already playing in the chapel. Once more
Trace sat in his place, listening to the lessons as one in a dream. How
applicable the first of those lessons was to his present state of mind,
he alone could feel. Gall read it, with his soft, clear voice that in
itself was music. It was the fifth chapter of Wisdom to the seventeenth
verse. The following are the parts that struck Trace particularly, but
you can look out the whole for yourselves, and see whether it was or
was not likely to come home to one acting as Trace had done, suffering
as he suffered, repenting as he repented. Mr. Henry, dying, was in his
mind throughout; or rather, not Mr. Henry, but Arthur Henry Paradyne.

"Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face
of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. When
they see it they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be
amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they
looked for. And they, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit,
shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had sometimes in
derision, and a proverb of reproach: we fools accounted his life
madness, and his end to be without honour: now is he numbered among the
children of God, and his lot is among the Saints! . . . .

"What hath pride profited us? or what good hath riches with our
vaunting brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow,
and as a post that hasteth by: and as a ship that passeth over the
waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot
be found, neither the pathway of the keel in the waves.

"Even so we in like manner, as soon as we were born, began to draw to
our end, and had no sign of virtue to show; but were consumed in our
own wickedness. For the hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown
away with the wind: like a thin froth that is driven away with the
storm; like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a
tempest, and passeth away as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth
but a day. But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is
with the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High. Therefore
shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the
Lord's hand: for with His right hand shall He cover them, and with His
arm shall He protect them."

Gall's voice ceased. And Trace thought verily that lesson had been
specially appointed by Fate to bring his works home to him. In a few
minutes there came another shock: one "in grievous sickness" was
solemnly prayed for: and he knew it was Mr. Henry. Caring little now
whether he were discovered breaking the rules, or not, Trace went after
chapel to pay a visit to Mr. Henry. Before he escaped, the boys were
upon him with their congratulations. It was the first opportunity
afforded them since the day's examination. Trace winced awfully. He
wished to respond, "I shall not avail myself of the Orville, though I
may have gained it," and thus begin at once to herald in the blow of
exposure. But his heart and his voice alike failed him; he _could not_
speak the words to that sea of faces.

Sitting up in bed, as he had been all day, his prayer-book open, and a
candle on the stand by his side, was Mr. Henry. He put out his hand and
drew Trace near; his face lighting up with the happiest smile.

"You have come to tell me the good news! Thank you for thinking of me.
I am so glad that you have gained it!"

"No," said Trace, in a voice half husky, half sullen, "I did not come
for that." And there he arrived at a pause. His task was very
unpalatable.

"I have been reading the First Lesson for the evening," remarked Mr.
Henry. "What a beautiful one it is! A real lesson. One of those that
seem to speak direct to our hearts from God."

A colour as of dull salmon tinged Trace's cheeks. But for the loving
light thrown on him from the earnest eyes, larger and more luminous
than of yore, he might have thought there was a covert shaft intended
for him.

"I came to speak to you, Mr. Henry: perhaps I ought now to say Mr.
Paradyne. Circumstances have occurred which—Have you heard any
particular news?" broke off Trace.

"Only the good news that you have gained the Orville. Dr. Brabazon has
been with me, and he whispered a little word in my ear. I seem to feel
so thankful. George will not have given up in vain, either. He said to
me last night—with a rueful face, as an argument against what I was
urging—'But suppose one of the others should get it, and not Trace?' It
is all as it should be."

Trace recalled George Paradyne's recent words; he understood them now.
He understood, unhappily, the other words—"Mind, Trace, I'll stand by
you through all." George had come forth from Sir Simon's, having learnt
what he, Trace, was then in blissful ignorance of. "Why did you urge
Paradyne to give up to me?" he asked of Mr. Henry.

"Knowing me now for Mr. Paradyne's son, you will understand how heavily
that past calamity, entailed upon you, has lain on me. If I could but
have wiped it off! I was always thinking; have atoned for it in any
way! And I could do nothing. It was but a slight matter for George to
withdraw from the Orville. And besides, you know the cabal was so great
against his trying for it."

The words went down into Raymond Trace's uneasy conscience; that debt
seemed as nothing, compared to the one now thrown on him. He dashed
into his explanation.

"Circumstances have occurred which show me how very wrong and mistaken
my resentment against you and George has been. I will not allude to
them; I'm not up to it to-night; but you will hear soon enough what
they are. And I came round to say that I am sorry for it; that I repent
of it in a degree which no words could express.—You were prayed for in
chapel to-night;" continued Trace, after a pause. "The report in the
school is that your case is hopeless."

"It is quite so, I fear."

Trace paused, as if to get up his voice, which seemed like himself—very
low. "You will say you forgive me before you die?"

"The need of forgiveness lies on my side," said Arthur Paradyne,
pressing the cold hand with a grateful pressure. "If you were a little
resentful, it was but natural. Say you forgive my poor father!"

"Don't!" cried Trace, with a sort of wail. "I'll come in again another
time, when you have learnt to understand better."

"One moment," said Mr. Henry, detaining him. "You seem to have some
great sorrow upon you to-night. Is it so?"

"Sorrow!" bitterly echoed Trace. "Ay; one that will last me my life. A
sorrow, to which yours has been as nothing."

"I have been picturing you as so full of joy this evening. Trace, you
_have_ gained the Orville. I know it."

"Yes. But I shall give it up to-night."

"Give up the Orville!"

"I cannot help myself. Good-bye."

Mr. Henry was curious, but he would not question further. Trace's hand
was still a prisoner. "When pain is too fresh to be spoken of, Trace,
there is only one thing to do," he gently whispered. "_I_ learnt it."

"Yes. What?" asked Trace, rather vacantly.

"_Carry it to God_. And then in time you will learn that it came down
to you from Him; came in love. One of those mountains that lie in the
road to Heaven, so sharp to the feet in climbing them, so good to look
back upon when the summit is gained, the labour done. Good night."

The low persuasive accents lingered on Raymond Trace's ear as he went
out into the night; the suffering, kind, gentle face rested on his
memory. God help him! God pardon him for the additional thorns he had
gratuitously cast on this young man's already thorny path. What a
wicked spirit had been his! He had sown thorns and nettles and noxious
weeds; and in accordance with the inevitable law of Nature, they had
come up to sting and pierce him.



CHAPTER XXIV.

In the Quadrangle.

Almost sooner than perhaps even Trace anticipated, was Mr. Henry (one
can't help adhering to the familiar name) to be enlightened; for, as
Trace went out of Mrs. Butter's, Mrs. Paradyne went in. Ah, could he
ever forget his astonishment at what then took place. She fell on her
knees at the bedside; and, pouring out the news she brought, besought
him, with tears and kisses and heartfelt lamentations, to forgive her.
To forgive her for her conduct to him!

That past calamity, five years ago, falling on her with the fury of an
avalanche, seemed to have suddenly changed Mrs. Paradyne's nature. The
sense of disgrace had warped every kindly feeling of her heart, to have
brought out all there was within her of selfishness. She had been a
proud woman, secure in the self-esteem that arises from a consciousness
of ever striving to do well. The blow seemed to have dried up all
affection, except for George, her youngest-born, whom she had ever
passionately loved; and her time was spent in silently, sometimes
openly, reproaching the husband who had so wronged her. Her letters to
her eldest son in Germany grew few and cold; she accepted as her due
what aid he could send, returning scant thanks for it. When, four years
later, he came to Orville, she scarcely received him patiently. She
resented his having advised the removal of George to Orville College,
now that it was known the Loftus boys and Trace were at the same; and
she, from motives of policy, forbade him to own relationship with them,
or to call her mother. Were it disclosed that he was a Paradyne, he
might no longer be able to work for them. He must go to the house but
once in a way, and then as an acquaintance. But for the ordeal of
sorrow he had been passing through for four years, these cruelties
might have well nigh gone to break Arthur Paradyne's heart. As it was,
they were but additional drops in the cup of bitterness he was
draining.

But when the astounding news, that her husband had been innocent, burst
upon Mrs. Paradyne, she woke up from her nightmare. With the lifting of
the stigma from their heads, all her former kindly nature (it had not
been very great) returned; the hard scales fell from her eyes and
heart, and she saw how selfish, nay, how cruel, had been her treatment
of her eldest son. In nearly the selfsame hour, she received tidings
that his sickness—in which she had previously only half-believed—had
increased alarmingly; she heard the report that it might end in death.
And here she was on her knees at his bedside; the tears streaming from
her eyes, kisses from her lips, pouring forth the blessed news, just
heard, and beseeching him to forgive her; to love her as of yore. It
seemed to him that he was repaid for all.

Morning rose. Standing in the quadrangle, that favourite place of
theirs, under the early November sun, were the college boys, George
Paradyne making one. Strange and startling tidings had just been
disclosed to them. The gainer of the Orville, so universally assumed to
be Trace, might probably turn out to be somebody else.

For Trace had thrown up the prize, and quitted the college!

Thrown up the Great Orville Prize? Quitted the college? The throng
stared stupidly at one another, unable to understand it. And yet it
must be true; for the announcement had come to them from the Head
Master.

The truth was, poor Raymond Trace, after a whole night's battling with
his mortified spirit, had found himself utterly unable to face the
disclosure that must be made. If not made at once, it must inevitably,
as he knew, come out later. At six o'clock that morning he was with the
Head Master; and before seven he had gone out of the college gates,
never to return. At present the boys were in ignorance of any ill; and
would be kept so as long as was possible. A report arose, its origin
not altogether clear, that Trace was called thus suddenly away by some
stupendous business in which his father was engaged in America. The
boys were repeating this over to each other, in full belief of its
veracity.

The substance of their conversation reached the ears of two gentlemen
who were advancing unobserved, arm-in-arm: Sir Simon Orville and Mr.
Loftus. "Called away on sudden business!" repeated Sir Simon. "Let 'em
think it. As good, that, as any other passing plea. Poor Raymond!"

Bertie Loftus was the first to catch sight of his father. Bertie was as
ignorant of recent events as the youngest boy there. He went up with a
glow of pleasure on his face, hardly believing the vision could be
real. Dick, dashing in, got the first question. "Papa! papa! what have
you come for?"

Mr. Loftus, his tall, slender figure and handsome face presenting a
contrast to Sir Simon's, made a sign for the boys to gather round him,
and drew George Paradyne to his side. "Sir Simon telegraphed for me on
a matter of business," he said to his sons. "But"—turning to the
throng—"I have come here this morning to perform an act of justice: one
which has been delayed so long through ignorance on my part and fraud
on another's, that it seems to me as if vengeance must cry aloud to
Heaven. Gentlemen, you have heard of the frauds that George Paradyne's
father was accused of perpetrating. Within a few hours we have
discovered his innocence. He was innocent as I; and more so: for I, by
my culpable negligence, and mistaken trust in another who was guilty,
contributed to the mistake. This boy"—laying his hand on George's
shoulder—"has been reproached by you as the son of a man of crime: let
me tell you, as I do before Heaven, that his father was a good and
honourable gentleman; a brave soldier of his Queen's; a faithful
servant of One who is higher than any Queen."

"He has been treated like a dog amidst you," impatiently broke in Sir
Simon, drowning the more temperate words of Mr. Loftus, and turning
himself about in his own fashion. "You have behaved cantankerously to
him, like a cross-grained set, as you are! And now you'll have to eat
humble-pie and be ashamed of yourselves. I'd not own any of you; I
wouldn't."

In spite of the hard words, there was a humorous sound of excuse in
them; the boys detected the good-feeling, laughed, and began to cheer.
Mr. Lamb put on his meekest face and drew a little away; and then
called out that the college would not have known anything about
Paradyne, neither have thought of being hard upon him, but for Trace.

"Just so," cried Sir Simon. "Trace is——"

Mr. Loftus laid his hand upon his impulsive brother-in-law, who might
have been about to declare more than was necessary. It was not noticed.
The excitement was rising; the hubbub was great. A hundred hands were
held out to shake Paradyne's, in atonement for the past; a contrast to
the scene of the previous day when the same hands were put forth to
strike him. They shouted, they threw their caps in the air: they felt,
and with shame, how ill they had behaved to him throughout, how
mistaken they had been. George met the hands with his own ready one,
with his frank and generous smile; not a bit of malice entertained he.
But there was a world of pride in the self-sustained movement with
which he threw back his head; in the quiet, self-reliant only words he
spoke:

"I always said, you know, that my father was innocent."



CHAPTER XXV.

Very Peacefully.

He was dying very peacefully and quietly, very happily, surrounded by
his friends. Sir Simon Orville went in perpetually, blustering rather
at first, because Mr. Henry—as they still, from old custom, mostly
called him—would not be moved to Pond Place, to be made much of for the
closing period of his life, and depart out of it in luxury.

"The exertion might be too great for me," he said, clasping Sir Simon's
hand gratefully. He sat up in bed still; most likely would to the last.
"I am better here in my own poor home, where the boys can run in and
out at will. Thank you ever, Sir Simon."

"But I can't make up to you for the fraud, I can't do the slightest
thing towards it," remonstrated Sir Simon, who was altogether in a
state of repentance for the past, and what it had brought forth—as if
it had been any fault of his. "But for that miserable brother-in-law of
mine, you might have been hale and healthy now, and flourishing in the
world."

"God knows what is best," was the cheering answer of Arthur Paradyne,
the same he had made to Trace. And Sir Simon saw that it must be best:
for there was a serene light of peace in the eyes, in the face
altogether, that worldly honours, be they great as they will, can never
bring.

"He has been leading me through the wilderness in His own way,"
continued Mr. Henry, scarcely above a whisper. "But for the dreadful
trouble that fell upon me, I might not have found my road thus early:
and then where should I have been now? The doctors think, you know,
that under the most prosperous auspices I could not have lived to be
thirty. Oh, Sir Simon, God sees and knows what we do not see, and He
has been guiding me home."

"You could be surrounded by so many more comforts at Pond Place,"
resumed Sir Simon, when he had overcome a troublesome cough.

"But not with more love. I have everything I want, and see how my
friends come round me. Not an instant am I left. Before one goes,
another comes. Sometimes," he added, with a gay smile, "they arrive as
if it were a levée, and we have to borrow Mother Butter's kitchen
chairs. My mother and Mary are here nearly always; Dr. Brabazon and his
daughter come, my pupil Rose comes, the masters come, the boys come,
and you come, you know, Sir Simon. How could I be better off?"

"I should have liked you to get well and live, that I might do
something for you; set you up in a coach-and-four, or some little thing
of that sort," contended Sir Simon, with an expression of face half
cross, half piteous.

Mr. Henry shook his head with a smile: coaches-and-four don't always
bring happiness with them, or drive their owners on the best road to
it. "Could any one have been more bountiful than you, Sir Simon? You
have—"

"Tush!" crossly interrupted Sir Simon. "Is it not my duty to do it, as
Robert Trace cannot? 'Twould be a second fraud on my part if I didn't."

The allusion was this. Sir Simon Orville had hastened to announce his
intention of refunding to Mrs. Paradyne, and with interest, the three
thousand pounds her husband had put into the Liverpool firm, and which
had been lost in the vortex. Not only that: he avowed that George's
future education and career should be his care.

"Why did you not confide in me?" cried Sir Simon. "Why did you not tell
me you were a Paradyne. I'd have helped you on."

"Tell you, Sir Simon! It seemed to me always a species of fraud on my
part to receive the many little favours you were ever wishing to show
me."

"The odd thing to me is, that you should have so fully put credence in
your father's guilt," observed Sir Simon. "Knowing him as you did."

A slight flush, as of remorse, shone in the fading cheeks. No
opportunity had been given him of believing otherwise. His mother, so
impressed with it herself, had succeeded in imparting her impressions
to him, beyond possibility of doubt.

"Where is Raymond Trace, Sir Simon?" he asked in a whisper. "I should
so like to have seen him again. He said he would come, but he did not."

"Well, I'll tell you," said Sir Simon confidentially. "Robert Trace is
in hiding about twenty miles off, and Raymond with him: they are not
out of England, as some suppose; Hopper for one. When the explosion
arose, we were all confused together; as was but natural. Robert Trace
thought he must escape from Hopper; and I—to say the truth—winked at
it. It was not my place to show 'em up to the Lord Mayor; and if a
thousand pounds or so—But never mind that now. When we came to talk
matters over sensibly and coolly, I and Mr. Loftus, we saw that he
could not be made criminally responsible, except Mr. Loftus chose to do
it, for the frauds had been against the firm; and other liabilities
were all paid. We have privately seen Robert Trace (mind, this is
between ourselves) and advised him to face it, and I think he will. He
says he'll be made bankrupt."

"And Hopper?"

"Hopper will be floored—as he deserves to be. Not a single penny shall
he get out of me."

"But he will make Mr. Trace's fraud known, out of revenge, Sir Simon!"

"It is known already known by this time to the very length and breadth
of the land. You don't suppose Mr. Loftus would suffer your father's
name to lie a day under its obloquy! Not he: if Loftus has a proud
nature, it is a just one. And so is Bertie's."

"And generous too," cried Mr. Henry, his face flushing with its old
pleasant light. "Bertie never once insulted George by a look or a word;
but stood by him quietly in many ways, smoothing things for him. He
will make a good and brave man. He comes here every day to sit with me.
I think the duel did him good. It took some of the assumption out of
his spirit."

Down sat Sir Simon with a burst of laughter. That duel, now that he had
overcome the horror it brought to him at the time, was a rich joke.
Gall and Bertie winced at its remembrance still. But they had been firm
friends since.

The days went on. Mr. Henry had more visitors than he sometimes knew
what to do with. His mother was there often; Mary occasionally, as she
could spare time from her occupations with Miss Rose Brabazon, whose
resident governess she was now. Mrs. Paradyne was eating the bitter
bread of repentance: the mistaken line of conduct she had pursued to
him, her eldest and dutiful son, grew harder and harder to reflect
upon. She could not say so; it distressed him too much, and she sat
mostly in silence, letting him hold her hand, yearningly wishing she
might recall the past. Too late; too late. She could not stop the
course of the rapid disease; she could not prolong his life, or bring
back the isolated days he had been condemned to pass, or the weary
nights of labour in which he had wasted his delicate frame: the
sensitive spirit had been wounded to the quick; the tender heart flung
back upon itself. It had been all good for him, no doubt; necessary
adjuncts to that process of purification his spirit had been
unconsciously undergoing for its coming flight to a better world, but
which Mrs. Paradyne could never forgive herself. The deceit she had
forced him to observe in regard to his identity had told upon him,
there was no doubt, more than any other untoward circumstance: and Mrs.
Paradyne had the comfort of knowing that she had helped—on the end. He
was, so to say, living a lie; it was altogether wrong, unjustifiable,
little better than a fraud on the Head Master; and neither his health
nor his natural integrity could bear up against it. And so, Mrs.
Paradyne sat by his bedside in silence; she and her aching heart. Now
that the relationship was known, people could trace the likeness in
their faces; which had once puzzled Miss Brabazon.

And there was another who would come and sit by him, and take his hand;
and, closing the door, read to him words from the Book of Life—and that
was Dr. Brabazon. The doctor saw the prize that he was losing: he knew
now, if he had never known it before, how valuable Mr. Henry's precepts
had been in the school, and the peace he contrived to shed around
amidst warring elements. Other things were known to the doctor now: the
sojourn of his ill-doing son in the house, and the kind friend Mr.
Henry had been to him. It seemed to have made Tom into a better man;
and he went off to Australia in a spirit of reformation that Mrs.
Butter, in a satirical spirit, "hoped would last."

Rose ran in and out at will, bringing him flowers. One day she came to
him with a great trouble—Emma had found her love-letters, and she was
never, never to write or receive more. Well, Mr. Henry said smiling, as
he pushed her pretty hair off her brow, she was certainly getting too
old for it.

Emma Brabazon would come sometimes, and lift the little table to the
bedside, and make tea at it. She was cheerful now, gay even, for a
great care had been removed from her; she would call him Dr. Henry, or
Professor Paradyne, and laugh over that back suspicion connected with
the gold pencil, now safe in the Head Master's pocket. She confessed to
him that she had had great fears, at the time Lord Shrewsbury was shot,
that it might be her brother who had fired the pistol. "Not
intentionally, to do harm, you know," she added; "but he was often down
here, wandering about the plantation, in the hope of meeting me and
getting money from me, and it was so easy for him to have picked up the
pistol."

"Be at rest," said Mr. Henry. "It was not your brother."

Miss Brabazon was surprised at the assured tones. "You know who it
was?"

"It was one of the college boys. Do not ask me more, for that is all I
can say." He intended to carry the secret with him to his grave. And
might have done it, had it lain alone with him.

Of all his casual visitors, he liked best to see the boys. He would
cause them to sit close to him, and talk pleasantly of the journey of
life on which, after this half-year, some of them would be entering.
Not one but treasured his words; not one but would remember them to
profit in the busy battle to come.



CHAPTER XXVI.

The End.

A day in December. The fine old hall was decorated as for a festival.
Ordinary signs and appurtenances were put out of it; desks were not;
books, slates, ink, canes, all had disappeared. The boys wore their
gowns; the masters were all suavity; and James Talbot, Earl of
Shrewsbury, had a bit of blue ribbon in his button-hole, the badge of
the Orville Prize. From his chair of state the Head Master had just
announced him as the victor, and decorated him with its sign. It had
been virtually known for some weeks that Talbot would have it, but this
was the formal investiture.

The term was drawing to its end: Mr. Henry, in his proximate dwelling,
was drawing near to his. On the day but one following this, the school
would disperse. Gall, Loftus major, Brown, Talbot, and others who have
less concerned us, were quitting the place for ever. Mr. Henry had been
considerably better for some days; he had been up, and even walked in
the garden. It was the flickering of the candle's flame before going
out.

Mr. Trace had just sailed for America, taking Raymond with him. The
full particulars of the past frauds had been for some time known; and
the unhappy man had never come out of hiding. He had nothing to fear,
legally or criminally, but he could not face the world. Not until this
morning, when the news of their sailing for New York reached the boys,
had they given up the hope that Raymond might come up to say farewell.
And Mr. Lamb, as you will see, intended to take advantage of the fact
of his departure. Hopper had disappeared from Orville; nobody knew or
cared where. Sir Simon had made short work of his refusal to give him
money: though it was very generally suspected that he had again
substantially assisted his brother-in-law, Robert Trace.

The ceremony of formally investing Talbot with the bit of blue ribbon
was over, and the masters left the hall. Up rose the boys with their
shouts of congratulation.

"Long live the Earl of Shrewsbury!"

The earl laughed, and held his hands above his head. "Don't hail me,"
said he jestingly, "I have but stepped into another's cast-off shoes.
Trace gained the prize."

"If hailing goes by deserts, you should hail Paradyne," interposed
Gall. "But for his withdrawal, Trace would have come off second-best. I
know it."

"I'll shake hands with the whole of you with pleasure as Trace's
deputy," heartily called out George Paradyne.

Lamb stepped forward. Never had his face been more virtuous, his voice
so candid. "I can't let the opportunity pass without declaring a thing
that is in my keeping," he smoothly began. "In that matter of the
pistol, fifteen months ago, when Lord Shrewsbury was shot—you all
remember it well. It was Trace who did it."

Gall wheeled round on Lamb. The rest stood in wonder, listening for
more.

"And it was Trace who inked that Latin essay of Paradyne's," continued
the estimable young man. "I _saw_ him do that, and I know he did the
other. As he is gone, it's as well the truth should be known. Trace was
a sneak."

A good swinging blow in the chest, which sent Mr. Lamb staggering
backwards. It came from Bertie Loftus. Never before had Bertie been
seen to strike gratuitously.

"You are the sneak," he said to Lamb. "Can't you let a fallen fellow
alone? Trace is in misfortune, and absent. But for that, you'd not have
dared to traduce him, you coward."

"It was he who fired off the pistol," roared Lamb, smarting under the
blow. "I swear it was. There! It's only lately I got to suspect it, and
I taxed Trace with it the morning he left, and he couldn't deny it: he
didn't seem to care to; he was too down. You hold your row, Loftus
major."

In dodging away from Bertie, Mr. Lamb contrived to back amidst the
throng, and tread upon their feet. It only wanted that to set them on.
This last announcement, so exceedingly characteristic of him, was as
the climax of his sins, and they thought the time had come to pay him
out. Trace had never been a favourite; and perhaps he really had
something of the sneak about him; but this did not make Lamb less of
one. Hissing, pushing, striking, calling him every derisive name they
could lay their tongues on, buffeting, kicking, the lot set to on the
miserable Lamb. And Bertie helped in it.

His ears were tingling, his hair was pulled, his eyes were smarting.
One whacked him here, another kicked him yonder; his back was already
growing blue; his voice, poor wretch, was raised in a howl, piteously
shrieking for quarter. Suddenly the onslaught was interrupted. Somebody
had interposed to part them, and so stopped the fray. One look round,
and the boys fell back in very astonishment.

It was their dear old master, Mr. Henry—for dear in truth he had become
to them. A little worn, shadowy, looking taller than he used; but with
the same kind and gentle face, the same loving gaze from the luminous
eyes. Sir Simon stood behind.

"I thought I would try and get as far once more; and my good friend,
Sir Simon, helped me with his arm," said Mr. Henry, speaking so very
quietly that a sudden hush seemed to fall upon the room. "But I did not
expect to find you _thus_."

As if in excuse, and perhaps a little ashamed of the turmoil, a score
of voices avowed the cause. Lamb stood to his creed; and Sir Simon's
ears were regaled with Raymond Trace's private misdoings in the past.
Perhaps it did not much surprise him.

"It does not excuse Lamb," said Gall, his eyes flashing indignation on
the latter, who stood cowering behind.

"It was Lamb who told about the smoking that time," called out Leek
with indignation.

"He's a wretched coward." And the boys began to hiss again.

"Forgive him for my sake," said Mr. Henry, throwing oil on the troubled
waters. "Next term he will do better perhaps; he will have learnt a
lesson."

"He'd better not come back! he'd better not show his face here again!"
growled the boys.

"I'm not coming back," retorted Lamb.

"But to think that Trace——"

"Hush, hush," interrupted Mr. Henry. "We must have peace and
pleasantness to-day. How can we expect mercy for our own faults if we
do not show it to one another? If you only knew how pleasant it is to
do a kindness instead of an injury! Try it, Lamb, in future."

Lamb's only answer was to steal out of the room surreptitiously, as
quickly as his stiffness allowed. He had not enjoyed his bonneting. Sir
Simon Orville went up to Talbot, and fastened a gold watch and chain to
his waistcoat.

"My present comes opportunely," he remarked, "since you were on the
subject of the pistol. You may remember that I offered a gold watch and
chain to whosoever should track out the shooter of Talbot. But what do
you think I did, boys?—I'm nothing better than a plain old goose, you
know.—I went and bought the watch and chain, never supposing but
somebody would turn up to win it the next day. He didn't turn up, and
I've had it by me ever since, lying useless. It crossed my mind once to
give it to my friend Onions here,"—with a nod to Mr. Leek—"for his
services in a certain duel you've heard of; but I hadn't got it with me
in Boulogne; and, besides, he has a handsome gold watch of his own. So
then I determined to keep it for the winner of the Orville; and I've
brought it. It seems consistent with poetical justice that it should be
Talbot's at last, since he was the one damaged by the shots. Long life
to you, my brave earl, to wear it out!"

"Not to me, sir," said the earl, flushing with delight, but just and
generous in the midst of it. "It is true I have got the Orville, but
Paradyne merited it. He gave up the contest voluntarily—and he has not
a watch any more than I have."

"I'll take care of Paradyne," said Sir Simon, with a significant nod.
"He'll miss neither the watch nor the Orville, and he goes to Cambridge
when you go to Oxford. I'm a plain man and like Cambridge best. Wear
your watch with content, my boy: your name is on it, and you have
deserved it."

A deafening cheer followed Sir Simon as he went out. Mr. Henry stayed
behind. Sitting down on a bench, he gathered them round him, his low
clear voice echoing on their ears and hearts with a strangely peaceful
echo, as he talked of the journey he was so close upon; of the one they
must all take in their turn, and of many little things that would speed
their packing up for it. In the middle of this, to the general
consternation, Dick Loftus broke into sobs, and dropped his head upon
Mr. Henry's arms. Dick came to himself in a few moments. Feeling
intensely ashamed, he made a feint of carrying of things with a
careless hand.

"Don't you go and die yet. We shouldn't like it, you know. Wait till we
are off. And couldn't you leave us something as a legacy?"

"Oh yes! leave us a legacy," cried the rest, ready for any suggestion
of that sort.

"A legacy?" repeated Mr. Henry, smiling. "Very well. What kind of
legacy?"

They ran over different articles, each in his mind, from a gold watch
and chain like Lord Shrewsbury's, to a lock of Mr. Henry's hair. But
nobody mentioned one thing in particular. "Anything you like," said the
boys.

He smiled still, and rose; shaking hands with each of them, saying a
tender word of encouragement to all; and went out, leaning on Gall's
arm, Bertie walking on the other side. Ah, what a contrast it was!
They, so full of life, of its interests and passions; he, so near its
close.

Nearer than they thought. On the following morning when they were at
breakfast, crowing over the premature departure of Mr. Lamb, who had
declined to face the school again, the Head Master walked in and
imparted the news.

They were allowed to go and see him. He lay on the bed where he had
died. His face was perfectly beautiful from its look of intense peace,
almost as if a halo of glory were around it. No wonder: he had gone to
the God and Saviour whom he served. With hushed breath and softened
hearts, they stood gazing on him, very conscious just then that their
time must also come. He had but gone on a little while in advance—as he
told them the previous afternoon in the college hall.

They were returning to their homes that day or the following: to their
Christmas festivities, the puddings, the games, the gaieties, all to be
merry; just as you are at this very present time. Some few would never
come back to Orville College; they were about to be launched forth on
their several ways of life. A tempting prospect to look forward to: but
a conscious voice within them was whispering that _he_ was happier in
his early death, than they who had yet the battle and the strife to
encounter. God defend them in it, and keep them for Himself! As He had
kept him, who lay there.

And the promised legacy? As they filed noiselessly out, a folded paper
was put into Gall's hand. It was headed "The legacy to my dear friends
and pupils." He had sat up in bed the previous night to write it. It
proved to be a small portion of the thirteenth chapter of St. John, in
his own beautiful handwriting, and signed with his full name, "Arthur
Henry Paradyne."

"_A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: as I
have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men
know that ye are my disciples, ye have love one to another_."

Gall reverently folded the paper, and they passed out of the house,
putting on their trenchers. "We'll have it framed," said he, "and hang
it in the hall. Us senior fellows will be gone, but we can come in
sometimes, and look at it."

Oh, boys! my dear young fellow-workers for whom I have written this
story! Do you strive, earnestly and patiently, to do your duty in this
world; and take that legacy home to your hearts!

THE END.


PRINTING OFFICE OF THE PUBLISHER.





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