Part 11 out of 12
panted poor Jenkins.
"He would have come off there and then, all by himself: he would, Mr.
Galloway, as I am a living sinner!" she hotly continued. "It's
unbeknown how he'd have got here--holding on by the wall, like a snail,
or fastening himself on to the tail of a cart; but try at it, in some
way, he would! Be quiet, Jenkins! How dare you attempt to interrupt!"
Poor Jenkins had not thought to interrupt; he was only making a
movement to pull off his great-coat. Mrs. Jenkins resumed:
"'No,' said I to him; 'if you must go, you shall be conveyed there, but
you don't start without your breakfast.' So I sat him down in his
chair, Mr. Galloway, and gave him his breakfast--such as it was! If
there's one thing that Jenkins is obstinate in, above all others, it's
about eating. Then I sent Lydia for a fly, and wrapped up his throat in
my boa--and that he wanted to fight against!--and here he is!"
"I wished to get here, sir, before you did," cried Jenkins, meekly. "I
knew the exertion would set me coughing at first, but, if I had sat
awhile before you saw me, I should not have seemed so incapable. I
shall be better presently, sir."
"What are you at with that coat?" tartly asked Mrs. Jenkins. "I declare
your hands are never at rest. Your coat's not to come off, Jenkins. The
office is colder than our parlour, and you'll keep it on."
Jenkins, humbly obeying, began to turn up the cuffs. "I can do a little
writing, sir," he said to Mr. Galloway, "Is there anything that is in a
"Jenkins," said Mr. Galloway, "I could not suffer you to write; I could
not keep you here. Were I to allow you to stop, in the state you are,
just to serve me, I should lay a weight upon my conscience."
Mrs. Jenkins looked up in triumph. "You hear, Jenkins! What did I tell
you? I said I'd let you have your way for once--'twas but the cost of
the fly; but that if Mr. Galloway kept you here, once he set eyes on
your poor creachy body, I'd eat him."
"Jenkins, my poor fellow!" said Mr. Galloway, gravely, "you must know
that you are not in a state to exert yourself. I shall not forget your
kindness; but you must go back at once. Why, the very draught from the
frequent opening of the door would do you an injury; the exertion of
speaking to answer callers would be too much for you."
"Didn't I tell you so, Jenkins, just in them very words?" interrupted
"I am aware that I am not strong, sir," acknowledged Jenkins to Mr.
Galloway, with a deprecatory glance towards his wife to be allowed to
speak. "But it is better I should be put to a trifle of inconvenience
than that you should, sir. I can sit here, sir, while you are obliged
to be out, or occupied in your private room. What could you do, sir,
left entirely alone?"
"I don't know what I can do," returned Mr. Galloway, with an acidity of
tone equal to that displayed by Mrs. Jenkins, for the question recalled
all the perplexity of his position. "Sacrifice yourself to me, Jenkins,
you shall not. What absurd folly can have taken off Roland Yorke?" he
added. "Do you know?"
"No, sir, I don't. When Mr. Roland came in this morning, and said he
was really off, you might have knocked me down with a feather. He would
often get talking about Port Natal, but I never supposed it would come
to anything. Mr. Roland was one given to talk."
"He had some tea at our house the other night, and was talking about it
then," struck in Mrs. Jenkins. "He said he was worked to death."
"Worked to death!" satirically repeated Mr. Galloway.
"I'm afraid, sir, that, through my unfortunate absence, he has found
the work heavier, and he grew dissatisfied," said Jenkins. "It has
troubled me very much."
"You spoilt him, Jenkins; that's the fact," observed Mr. Galloway. "You
did his work and your own. Idle young dog! He'll get a sickener at Port
"There's one thing to be thankful for, sir," said patient Jenkins,
"that he has his uncle, the earl, to fall back upon."
"Hark at him!" interrupted Mrs. Jenkins. "That's just like him! He'd be
'thankful' to hear that his worst enemy had an uncle to fall back upon.
That's Jenkins all over. But now, what is to be the next movement?" she
sharply demanded. "I must get back to my shop. Is he to come with me,
or to stop here--a spectacle for every one that comes in?"
But at this moment, before the question could be decided--though you
may rest assured Mrs. Jenkins would only allow it to be decided in her
own way--hasty footsteps were heard in the passage, and the door was
thrown open by Arthur Charming.
A RELIC FROM THE BURIAL-GROUND.
When Hamish Charming joined the breakfast-table at home that morning at
nine o'clock, he mentioned his adventure at the station with Lady
Augusta Yorke. It was the first intimation they had received of
Roland's departure; indeed, the first that some of them had heard of
his intention to depart.
Arthur laid down his knife and fork. To him alone could the full
consequences of the step present themselves, as regarded Mr. Galloway.
"Hamish! he cannot actually have gone?"
"That he is actually off by the train to London, I can certify," was
the reply of Hamish. "Whether he will be off to Port Natal, is another
thing. He desired me to tell you, Arthur, that he should write his
adieu to you from town."
"He might have come to see me," observed Arthur, a shade of resentment
in his tone. "I never thought he would really go."
"I did," said Hamish, "funds permitting him. If Lord Carrick will
supply those, he'll be off by the first comfortable ship that sails.
His mind was so completely bent upon it."
"What can he think of doing at Port Natal?" inquired Constance,
"Making his fortune." But Hamish laughed as he said it. "Wherever I may
have met him latterly, his whole talk has been of Port Natal. Lady
Augusta says he is going to take out frying-pans to begin with."
"She said so, Constance. I have no doubt Roland said so to her. I
should like to see the sort of cargo he will lay in for the start."
"What does Mr. Galloway say to it, I wonder?" exclaimed Arthur, that
gentleman's perplexities presenting themselves to his mind above
everything else. "I cannot think what he will do."
"I have an idea that Mr. Galloway is as yet unaware of it," said
Hamish. "Roland assured me that no person whatever knew of his
departure, except Jenkins. He called upon him on his way to the
"Unaware of it!" Arthur fell into consternation great as Mr.
Galloway's, as he repeated the words. Was it possible that Roland had
stolen a march on Mr. Galloway? He relapsed into silence and thought.
"What makes you so sad?" Constance asked of Arthur later, when they
were dispersing to their several occupations.
"I am not sad, Constance; only thoughtful. I have been carrying on an
inward battle," he added, half laughingly.
"With your conscience?"
"With my spirit. It is a proud one yet, in spite of all I have had to
tame it; a great deal more rebellious than I like it to be."
"Why, what is the matter, Arthur?"
"Constance, I think I ought to come forward and help Mr. Galloway out
of this strait. I think my duty lies in doing it."
"To return to his office, you mean?"
"Yes; until he can see his way out of the wood. But it goes against the
"Arthur dear, I know you will do it," she gently said. "Were our duty
always pleasant to us, where would be the merit in fulfilling it?"
"I shall do it," he answered. "To that I have made up my mind. The
difficulty is, Constance, to do it with a good grace."
She looked at him with a loving smile. "Only try. A firm will, Arthur,
will conquer even a rebellious spirit."
Arthur knew it. He knew how to set about it. And a little later, he was
on his way to Close Street, with the best grace in the world. Not only
in appearance, mind you, but inwardly. It is a GREAT thing, reader, to
conquer the risings of a proud spirit! To bring it from its haughty,
rebellious pedestal, down to cordiality and love. Have you learnt the
Some parchments under his arm, for he had stayed to collect them
together, Arthur bounded in to Mr. Galloway's. The first object his
eyes fell on was that shadowy form, coughing and panting. "Oh,
Jenkins!" he involuntarily uttered, "what do you do out of your house?"
"Anxiety for me has brought him out," said Mr. Galloway. "How can I
"I could not rest, sir, knowing my master was alone in his need," cried
Jenkins to Arthur. "What is to become of the office, sir, with no one
"But he is not alone," said Arthur; and, if he had wanted a reward for
coming forward, that moment would have supplied it, in satisfying poor
Jenkins. "If you will allow me, sir," Arthur added, turning frankly to
Mr. Galloway, "I will take my place here, until you shall be suited."
"Thank you," emphatically replied Mr. Galloway. "It will relieve me
from a serious embarrassment."
Arthur went to his old desk, and sat down on his old stool, and began
settling the papers and other things on it, just as though he had not
been absent an hour. "I must still attend the cathedral as usual, sir,"
he observed to Mr. Galloway; "but I can give you the whole of my
remaining time. I shall be better for you than no one."
"I would rather have you here than any one else, Channing; he"--laying
his hand on Jenkins's shoulder--"excepted. I offered that you should
"I know you did, sir," replied Arthur, in a brief tone--one that seemed
to intimate he would prefer not to pursue the subject.
"And now are you satisfied?" struck in Mrs. Jenkins to her husband.
"I am more than satisfied," answered Jenkins, clasping his hands. "With
Mr. Arthur in the office, I shall have no fear of its missing me, and I
can go home in peace, to die."
"Please just to hold your tongue about dying," reprimanded Mrs.
Jenkins. "Your business is to get well, if you can. And now I am
going to see after a fly. A pretty dance I should have had here, if
he had persisted in stopping, bringing him messes and cordials every
half-hour! Which would have worn out first, I wonder--the pavement or
"Channing," said Mr. Galloway, "let us understand each other. Have you
come here to do anything there may be to do--out of doors as well as
in? In short, to be my clerk as heretofore?"
"Of course I have, sir; until"--Arthur spoke very distinctly--you shall
be able to suit yourself; not longer."
"Then take this paper round to Deering's office, and get it signed. You
will have time to do it before college."
Arthur's answer was to put on his hat, and vault away with the paper.
Jenkins turned to Mr. Galloway as soon as they were alone. "Oh, sir,
keep him in your office!" he earnestly said. "He will soon be of more
value to you than I have ever been!"
"That he will not, Jenkins. Nor any one else."
"Yes, he will, sir! He will be able to replace you in the chapter house
upon any emergency, and I never could do that, you know, sir, not being
a gentleman. When you have him to yourself alone, sir, you will see his
value; and I shall not be missed. He is steady and thoughtful beyond
his years, sir, and every day will make him older."
You forget the charge against him, Jenkins. Until he shall be cleared
of that--if he can be cleared of it--he will not be of great value to
any one; certainly not to me."
"Sir," said Jenkins, raising his wan face, its hectic deepening, find
his eye lighting, while his voice sunk to a whisper, so deep as to
savour of solemnity, "that time will come! He never did it, and he will
as surely be cleared, as that I am now saying it! Sir, I have thought
much about this accusation; it has troubled me in sleep; but I know
that God will bring the right to light for those who trust in Him. If
any one ever trusted in God, it is Mr. Arthur Channing. I lie and think
of all this, sir. I seem to be so near God, now," Jenkins went on
dreamily, "that I know the right must come to light; that it will come
in God's own good time. And I believe I shall live to see it!"
"You have certainly firm faith in his innocence, Jenkins. How then do
you account for his very suspicious manner?"
"It does not weigh with me, sir. I could as soon believe a good
wholesome apple-tree would bring forth poison, as that Mr. Arthur would
be guilty of a deliberately bad action. Sometimes I have thought, sir,
when puzzling over it, that he may be screening another. There's no
telling how it was. I hear, sir, that the money has been returned to
"Yes. Was it he who told you?"
"It was Mr. Roland Yorke who told me, sir. Mr. Roland is another, sir,
who has had firm faith in his innocence from the first."
"Much his faith goes for!" ejaculated Mr. Galloway, as he came back
from his private room with a letter, which he handed to Jenkins, who
was skilled in caligraphy. "What do you make of it?" he asked. "It is
the letter which came with the returned money."
"It is a disguised hand, sir--there's no doubt of that," replied
Jenkins, when he had surveyed it critically. "I do not remember to have
seen any person write like it."
Mr. Galloway took it back to his room, and presently a fly drove up
with Mrs. Jenkins inside it. Jenkins stood at the office door, hat in
hand, his face turned upon the room. Mrs. Jenkins came up and seized
his arm, to marshal him to the fly.
"I was but taking a farewell of things, sir," he observed to Mr.
Galloway. "I shall never see the old spot again."
Arthur arrived just as Jenkins was safely in. He put his hand over the
door. "Make yourself easy, Jenkins; it will all go on smoothly here.
Good-bye, old fellow! I'll come and see you very soon."
"How he breaks, does he not, sir?" exclaimed Arthur to Mr. Galloway.
"Ay! he's not long for this world!"
The fly proceeded on its way; Mrs. Jenkins, with her snappish manner,
though really not unkind heart, lecturing Jenkins on his various
shortcomings until it drew up at their own door. As Jenkins was being
helped down from it, one of the college boys passed at a great speed; a
railroad was nothing to it. It was Stephen Bywater. Something,
legitimate or illegitimate, had detained him, and now the college bell
He caught sight of Jenkins, and, hurried as he was, much of punishment
as he was bargaining for, it had such an effect upon him, that he
pulled up short. Was it Jenkins, or his ghost? Bywater had never been
so struck with any sight before.
The most appropriate way in which it occurred to him to give vent to
his surprise, was to prop his back against the shop door, and indulge
in a soft, prolonged whistle. He could not take his eyes from Jenkins's
face. "Is it you, or your shadow, Jenkins?" he asked, making room for
the invalid to pass.
"It's myself, sir, thank you. I hope you are well, sir."
"Oh, I'm always jolly," replied Bywater, and then he began to whistle
He followed Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins into the shop with his eyes; that is,
they followed Jenkins. Bywater had heard, as a matter of necessity, of
Jenkins's illness, and had given as much thought to it as he would have
done if told Jenkins had a headache; but to fancy him like _this_ had
never occurred to Bywater.
Now somewhere beneath Bywater's waistcoat, there really was a little
bit of heart; and, as he thus looked, a great fear began to thump
against it. He followed Jenkins into the parlour. Mrs. Jenkins, after
divesting Jenkins of his coat, and her boa, planted him right before
the fire in his easy-chair, with a pillow at his back, and was now
whisking down into the kitchen, regardless of certain customers waiting
in the shop to be served.
Bywater, unasked, sat himself in a chair near to poor Jenkins and his
panting breath, and indulged in another long stare. "I say, Jenkins,"
said he, "what's the matter with you?"
Jenkins took the question literally. "I believe it may be called a sort
of decline, sir. I don't know any other name for it."
"Shan't you get well?"
"Oh no, sir! I don't look for that, now."
The fear thumped at Bywater's heart worse than before. A past vision of
locking up old Ketch in the cloisters, through which pastime Jenkins
had come to a certain fall, was uncomfortably present to Bywater just
then. He had been the ringleader.
"What brought it on?" asked he.
"Well, sir, I suppose it was to come," meekly replied Jenkins. "I have
had a bad cough, spring and autumn, for a long while now, Master
Bywater. My brother went off just the same, sir, and so did my mother."
Bywater pushed his honest, red face, forward; but it did not look quite
so impudent as usual. "Jenkins," said he, plunging headlong into the
"Fall, sir! What fall?"
"That fall down from the organ loft. Because that was my fault. I had
the most to do with locking up the cloisters, that night."
"Oh, bless you, sir, no! Never think that. Master Bywater"--lowering
his voice till it was as grave as Bywater's--"that fall did me
good--good, sir, instead of harm."
"How do you make out that?" asked Bywater, drawing his breath a little
"Because, sir, in the few days' quiet that I had in bed, my thoughts
seemed in an unaccountable manner to be drawn to thinking of heaven. I
can't rightly describe, sir, how or why it could have been. I remember
his lordship, the bishop, talked to me a little bit in his pleasant,
affable way, about the necessity of always, being prepared; and my
wife's Bible lay on the drawers by my bed's head, and I used to pick up
that. But I don't think it was either of those causes much; I believe,
sir, that it was God Himself working in my heart. I believe He sent the
fall in His mercy. After I got up, I seemed to know that I should soon
go to Him; and--I hope it is not wrong to say it--I seemed to wish to
Bywater felt somewhat puzzled. "I am not speaking about your heart and
religion, and all that, Jenkins. I want to know if the fall helped to
bring on this illness?"
"No, sir; it had nothing to do with it. The fall hurt my head a
little--nothing more; and I got well from it directly. This illness,
which has been taking me off, must have been born with me."
"Hoo--" Bywater's shout, as he tossed up his trencher, was broken in
upon by Mrs. Jenkins. She had been beating up an egg with sugar and
wine, and now brought it in in a tumbler.
"My dear," said Jenkins, "I don't feel to want it."
"Not want it!" said Mrs. Jenkins resolutely. And in two seconds she had
taken hold of him, and it was down his throat. "I can't stop parleying
here all day, with my shop full of customers." Bywater laughed, and she
"If I could eat gold, sir, she'd get it for me," said Jenkins; "but my
appetite fails. She's a good wife, Master Bywater."
"Stunning," acquiesced Bywater. "I wouldn't mind a wife myself, if
she'd feed me up with eggs and wine."
"But for her care, sir, I should not have lasted so long. She has had
great experience with the sick."
Bywater did not answer. Rising to go, his eyes had fixed themselves
upon some object on the mantelpiece as pertinaciously as they had
previously been fixed upon Jenkins's face. "I say, Jenkins, where did
you get this?" he exclaimed.
"That, sir? Oh, I remember. My old father brought it in yesterday. He
had cut his hand with it. Where now did he say he found it? In the
college burial-ground, I think, Master Bywater."
It was part of a small broken phial, of a peculiar shape, which had
once apparently contained ink; an elegant shape, it may be said, not
unlike a vase. Bywater began turning it about in his fingers; he was
literally feasting his eyes upon it.
"Do you want to keep it, Jenkins?"
"Not at all, sir. I wonder my wife did not throw it away before this."
"I'll take it, then," said Bywater, slipping it into his pocket. "And
now I'm off. Hope you'll get better, Jenkins."
"Thank you, sir. Let me put the broken bottle in paper, Master Bywater.
You will cut your fingers if you carry it loose in your pocket."
"Oh, that be bothered!" answered Bywater. "Who cares for cut fingers?"
He pushed himself through Mrs. Jenkins's customers, with as little
ceremony as Roland Yorke might have used, and went flying towards the
cathedral. The bell ceased as he entered. The organ pealed forth; and
the dean and chapter, preceded by some of the bedesmen, were entering
from the opposite door. Bywater ensconced himself behind a pillar,
until they should have traversed the body, crossed the nave, and were
safe in the choir. Then he came out, and made his way to old Jenkins
The old man, in his black gown, stood near the bell ropes, for he had
been one of the ringers that day. Bywater noticed that his left hand
was partially tied up in a handkerchief.
"Holloa, old Jenkins," said he, _sotte voce_, "what have you done with
"I gave it a nasty cut yesterday, sir, just in the ball of the thumb. I
wrapped my handkerchief round it just now, for fear of opening it
again, while I was ringing the bell. See," said he, taking off the
handkerchief and showing the cut to Bywater.
"What an old muff you must be, to cut yourself like that!"
"But I didn't do it on purpose," returned the old man. "We was ordered
into the burial-ground to put it a bit to rights, and I fell down with
my hand on a broken phial. I ain't as active as I was. I say, though,
sir, do you know that service has begun?"
"Let it begin," returned careless Bywater. "This was the bottle you
fell over, was it not? I found it on Joe's mantelpiece, just now."
"Ay, that was it. It must have laid there some time. A good three
months, I know."
Bywater nodded his head. He returned the bottle to his pocket, and went
to the vestry for his surplice. Then he slid into college under the
severe eyes of the Reverend Mr. Pye, which were bent upon him from the
chanting-desk, and ascended, his stall just in time to take his part in
the _Venite, exultemus Domino_.
THE RETURN HOME.
It almost seemed, to Mr. Channing's grateful heart, as if the weather
had prolonged its genial warmth on purpose for him. A more charming
autumn had never been known at Borcette, and up to the very hour of Mr.
Channing's departure, there were no signs of winter. Taking it as a
whole, it had been the same at Helstonleigh. Two or three occasional
wet days, two or three cold and windy ones; but they soon passed over
and people remarked to each other how this fine weather would shorten
Never did November turn out a more lovely day than the one that was to
witness Mr. Channing's return. The sun shone brightly; the blue sky was
without a cloud. All Nature seemed to have put on a smiling face to
give him welcome. And yet--to what was he returning?
For once in his life, Hamish Channing shrank from meeting his father
and mother. How should he break the news to them? They were arriving
full of joy, of thankfulness at the restoration to health of Mr.
Channing: how could Hamish mar it with the news regarding Charles? Told
it must be; and he must be the one to do it. In good truth, Hamish was
staggered at the task. His own hopeful belief that Charley would some
day "turn up," was beginning to die out; for every hour that dragged
by, without bringing him, certainly gave less and less chance of it.
And even if Hamish had retained hope himself, it was not likely he
could impart it to Mr. or Mrs. Channing.
"I shall get leave from school this afternoon," Tom suddenly exclaimed
that morning at breakfast.
"For what purpose?" inquired Hamish.
"To go up to the station and meet them."
"No, Tom. You must not go to the station."
"Who says so?" sharply cried Tom.
"I do," replied Hamish.
"I dare say! that's good!" returned Tom, speaking in his hasty spirit.
"You know you are going yourself, Hamish, and yet you would like to
deprive me of the same pleasure. Why, I wouldn't miss being there for
anything! Don't say, Hamish, that you are never selfish."
Hamish turned upon him with a smile, but his tone changed to sadness.
"I wish with all my heart, Tom, that you or some one else, could go and
meet them, instead of myself, and undertake what I shall have to do. I
can tell you I never had a task imposed upon me that I found so
uncongenial as the one I must go through this day."
Tom's voice dropped a little of its fierce shade. "But, Hamish, there's
no reason why I should not meet them at the station. That will not make
it the better or the worse for you."
"I will tell you why I think you should not," replied Hamish; "why it
will be better that you should not. It is most desirable that they
should be home, here, in this house, before the tidings are broken to
them. I should not like them to hear of it in the streets, or at the
station; especially my mother."
"Of course not," assented Tom.
"And, were you at the station," quietly went on Hamish to him, "the
first question would be, 'Where's Charley?' If Tom Channing can get
leave of absence from school, Charley can."
"I could say--"
"Well?" said Hamish, for Tom had stopped.
"I don't know what I could say," acknowledged Tom.
"Nor I. My boy, I have thought it over, and the conclusion I come to,
if you appear at the station, is this: either that the tidings must be
told to them, then and there, or else an evasion, bordering upon an
untruth. If they do not see you there, they will not inquire
particularly after Charles; they will suppose you are both in school."
"I declare I never set my mind upon a thing but something starts in to
frustrate it!" cried Tom, in vexation. But he relinquished his
intention from that moment.
Chattering Annabel threw up her head. "As soon as papa and mamma come
home, we shall put on mourning, shall we not? Constance was talking
about it with Lady Augusta."
"Do not talk of mourning, child," returned Hamish. "_I_ can't give him
up, if you do."
Afternoon came, and Hamish proceeded alone to the station. Tom,
listening to the inward voice of reason, was in school, and Arthur was
occupied in the cathedral; the expected hour of their arrival was
towards the close of afternoon service. Hamish had boasted that he
should _walk_ his father through Helstonleigh for the benefit of
beholders, if happily he came home capable of walking; but, like poor
Tom and _his_ plan, that had to be relinquished. In the first
half-dozen paces they would meet half a dozen gossipers, and the first
remark from each, after congratulations, would be, "What a sad thing
this is about your little Charles!" Hamish lived in doubt whether it
might not, by some untoward luck, come out at the station, in spite of
his precaution in keeping away Tom.
But, so far, all went well. The train came in to its time, and Hamish,
his face lighted with excitement, saw his father once more in
possession of his strength, descending without assistance from the
carriage, walking alone on the platform. Not in the full strength and
power of old; that might never be again. He stooped slightly, and moved
slowly, as if his limbs were yet stiff, limping a little. But that he
was now in a sound state of health was evident; his face betrayed it.
Hamish did not know whose hands to clasp first; his, or his mother's.
"Can you believe that it is myself, Hamish?" asked Mr. Channing, when
the first few words of thankful greeting had passed.
"I should hide my head for ever as a false prophet if it could be any
one else," was the reply of Hamish. "You know I always said you would
so return. I am only in doubt whether it is my mother."
"What is the matter with me, Hamish?" asked Mrs. Channing. "Because you
would make about two of the thin, pale, careworn Mrs. Channing who went
away," cried he, turning his mother round to look at her, deep love
shining out from his gay blue eyes. "I hope you have not taken to rouge
your cheeks, ma'am, but I am bound to confess they look uncommonly like
Mrs. Channing laughed merrily. "It has done me untold good, Hamish, as
well as papa; it seems to have set me up for years to come. Seeing him
grow better day by day would have effected it, without any other
Mr. Channing had actually gone himself to see after the luggage. How
strange it seemed! Hamish caught him up. "If you can give yourself
trouble now, sir, there's no reason that you should do so, while you
have your great lazy son at your elbow."
"Hamish, boy, I am proud of doing it."
It was soon collected. Hamish hastily, if not carelessly, told a porter
to look to it, took Mr. Channing's arm, and marched him to the fly,
which Mrs. Channing had already found. Hamish was in lively dread of
some officious friend or other coming up, who might drop a hint of the
state of affairs.
"Shall I help you in, father!"
"I can help myself now, Hamish. I remember you promised me I should
have no fly on my return. You have thought better of it."
"Yes, sir, wishing to get you home before bed-time, which might not be
the case if you were to show yourself in the town, and stop at all the
Mr. Channing stepped into the fly. Hamish followed, first giving the
driver a nod. "The luggage! The luggage!" exclaimed Mrs. Channing, as
they moved off.
"The porter will bring it, mother. He would have been a month putting
it on to the fly."
How could they suppose anything was the matter? Not a suspicion of it
ever crossed them. Never had Hamish appeared more light-hearted. In
fact, in his self-consciousness, Hamish a little overdid it. Let him
get them home before the worst came!
"We find you all well, I conclude!" said Mrs. Channing. "None of them
came up with you! Arthur is in college, I suppose, and Tom and Charles
are in school."
"It was Arthur's hour for college," remarked Hamish, ignoring the rest
of the sentence. "But he ought to be out now. Arthur is at Galloway's
again," he added. "He did not write you word, I believe, as you were so
shortly expected home."
Mr. Channing turned a glance on his son, quick as lightning. "Cleared,
"In my opinion, yes. In the opinion of others, I fear not much more
than he was before."
"And himself?" asked Mr. Channing. "What does he say now?"
"He does not speak of it to me."
Hamish put his head out at the window, nodding to some one who was
passing. A question of Mr. Channing's called it in again.
"Why has he gone back to Galloway's?"
Hamish laughed. "Roland Yorke took an impromptu departure one fine
morning, for Port Natal, leaving the office and Mr. Galloway to do the
best they could with each other. Arthur buried his grievances and
offered himself to Mr. Galloway in the emergency. I am not quite sure
that I should have been so forgiving."
"Hamish! He has nothing to forgive Mr. Galloway. It is on the other
"I am uncharitable, I suppose," remarked Hamish. "I cannot like Mr.
Galloway's treatment of Arthur."
"But what is it you say about Roland Yorke and Port Natal?" interposed
Mrs. Channing. "I do not understand."
"Roland is really gone, mother. He has been in London these ten days,
and it is expected that every post will bring news that he has sailed.
Roland has picked up a notion somewhere that Port Natal is an enchanted
land, converting poor men into rich ones; and he is going to try what
it will do for him, Lord Carrick fitting him out. Poor Jenkins is
"Changes! changes!" remarked Mr. Channing. "Go away only for two or
three months, and you must find them on return. Some gone; some dying;
"Some restored, who were looked upon as incurable," interrupted Hamish.
"My dear father, I will not have you dwell on dark things the very
moment of your arrival; the time for that will come soon enough."
Judy nearly betrayed all; and Constance's aspect might have betrayed
it, had the travellers been suspicious. She, Constance, came forward in
the hall, white and trembling. When Mrs. Channing shook hands with
Judy, she put an unfortunate question--"Have you taken good care of
your boy?" Judy knew it could only allude to Charles, and for answer
there went up a sound, between a cry and a sob, that might have been
heard in the far-off college schoolroom. Hamish took Judy by the
shoulders, bidding her go out and see whether any rattletraps were left
in the fly, and so turned it off.
They were all together in the sitting-room--Mr. and Mrs. Channing,
Hamish, Constance, Arthur, and Annabel; united, happy, as friends are
and must be when meeting after a separation; talking of this and of
that, giving notes of what had occurred on either side. Hamish showed
himself as busy as the rest; but Hamish felt all the while upon a bed
of thorns, for the hands of the timepiece were veering on for five, and
he must get the communication over before Tom came in. At length Mrs.
Channing went up to her room, accompanied by Constance; Annabel
followed. And now came Hamish's opportunity. Arthur had gone back to
Mr. Galloway's, and he was alone with his father. He plunged into it at
once; indeed, there was no time for delay.
"Father!" he exclaimed, with deep feeling, his careless manner changing
as by magic: "I have very grievous news to impart to you. I would not
enter upon it before my mother: though she must be told of it also, and
Mr. Channing was surprised; more surprised than alarmed. He never
remembered to have seen Hamish betray so much emotion. A thought
crossed his mind that Arthur's guilt might have been brought clearly to
"Not that," said Hamish. "It concerns--Father, I do not like to enter
upon it! I shrink from my task. It is very bad news indeed."
"You, my children, are all well," cried Mr. Channing, hastily speaking
the words as a fact, not as a question. "What other 'very bad' news can
be in store for me?"
"You have not seen us all," was Hamish's answer. And Mr. Channing,
alarmed, now looked inquiringly at him. "It concerns Charles. An--an
accident has happened to him."
Mr. Channing sat down and shaded his eyes. He was a moment or two
before he spoke. "One word, Hamish; is he dead?"
Hamish stood before his father and laid his hand affectionately upon
his shoulder. "Father, I _wish_ I could have prepared you better for
it!" he exclaimed, with emotion. "We do not know whether he is dead or
Then he explained--explained more in summary than in detail--touching
lightly upon the worst features of the case, enlarging upon his own
hopeful view of it. Bad enough it was, at the best, and Mr. Channing
found it so. _He_ could feel no hope. In the revulsion of grief, he
turned almost with resentment upon Hamish.
"My son, I did not expect this treatment from you."
"I have taken enough blame to myself; I know he was left in my charge,"
sadly replied Hamish; "but, indeed, I do not see how I could have
helped it. Although I was in the room when he ran out of it, I was
buried in my own thoughts, and never observed his going. I had no
suspicion anything was astir that night with the college boys. Father,
I would have saved his life with my own!"
"I am not blaming you for the fact, Hamish; blame is not due to you.
Had I been at home myself, I might no more have stopped his going out
than you did. But you ought to have informed me of this instantly. A
whole month, and I to be left in ignorance!"
"We did it for the best. Father, I assure you that not a stone has been
left unturned to find him; alive, or--or dead. You could not have done
more had you hastened home; and it has been so much suspense and grief
spared to you."
Mr. Channing relapsed into silence. Hamish glanced uneasily to that
ever-advancing clock. Presently he spoke.
"My mother must be told before Tom comes home. It will be better that
you take the task upon yourself, father. Shall I send her in?"
Mr. Channing looked at Hamish, as if he scarcely understood the meaning
of the words. From Hamish he looked to the clock. "Ay; go and send
Hamish went to his mother's room, and returned with her. But he did not
enter. He merely opened the door, and shut her in. Constance, with a
face more frightened than ever, came and stood in the hall. Annabel
stood there also. Judy, wringing her hands, and sending off short
ejaculations in an undertone, came to join them, and Sarah stood
peeping out from the kitchen door. They remained gazing at the parlour
door, dreading the effect of the communication that was going on
"If it had been that great big Tom, it wouldn't matter so much," wailed
Judith, in a tone of resentment. "The missis would know that _he'd_ be
safe to turn up, some time or other; a strong fellow like him!"
A sharp cry within the room. The door was flung open, and Mrs. Channing
came forth, her face pale, her hands lifted. "It cannot be true! It
cannot be! Hamish! Judith! Where is he?"
Hamish folded her hands in his, and gently drew her in again. They all
followed. No reason why they should not, now that the communication was
made. Almost at the same moment, Mr. Huntley arrived.
Of course, the first thought that had occurred to the minds of Mr. and
Mrs. Channing was, that had _they_ been at home to direct affairs in
the search, Charley would have been found. It is the thought that would
occur to us all: we never give others credit for doing as much as we
should have done. "This might have been tried, and the other might have
been tried." It makes little difference when told that they _have_ been
tried; for then we fall back upon some other suggestion. Mrs. Channing
reproached Hamish with keeping it from them.
"My dear lady, you must blame me, not him," interposed Mr. Huntley.
"Left to himself, Hamish would have started Arthur off to you, post
haste. It was I who suggested the desirability of keeping you in
ignorance; it was I who brought Hamish to see it: and I know that, when
the brunt of your grief shall have passed, you will acknowledge that it
was the best, the wisest, and the kindest course."
"But there are so many things that we could have suggested; that
perhaps none but a father or mother would think of!" urged Mrs.
Channing, lifting her yearning face. They wished they could see her
"You could have suggested nothing that has not been done," returned Mr.
Huntley. "Believe me, dear Mrs. Channing! We have had many good
counsellors. Butterby has conducted the search."
Mr. Channing turned to them. He was standing at the far window. "I
should like to see Butterby."
"He will be here in an hour's time," said Hamish. "I knew you would
wish to see him, and I requested him to come."
"The worst feature of the whole," put in Judith, with as much acrimony
as ever was displayed by Mr. Ketch, "is that them boys should not have
got their deserts. They have not as much as had a birching; and I say
that the college masters ought to be hooted. I'd 'ghost' 'em!"
"The punishment lies in abeyance for the present," explained Hamish. "A
different punishment from any the head-master could inflict will be
required, should--should--" Hamish stopped. He did not like to say, in
the presence of his mother, "should the body be found." "Some of them
are suffering pretty well, as it is," he continued, after a brief
pause. "Master Bill Simms lay in bed for a week with fright, and they
were obliged to have Mr. Hurst to him. Report goes, that Hurst soundly
flogged his son, by way of commencing his share."
A pushing open of the outer door, a bang, and hasty footsteps in the
hall. Tom had arrived. Tom, with his sparkling eyes, his glowing face.
They sparkled for his father only in that first moment; his father, who
turned and _walked_ to meet him.
"Oh, papa! What baths those must be!" cried honest Tom. "If ever I get
rich, I'll go over there and make them a present of a thousand pounds.
To think that nothing else should have cured you!"
"I think something else must have had a hand in curing me, Tom."
Tom looked up inquiringly. "Ah, papa! You mean God."
"Yes, my boy. God has cured me. The baths were only instruments in His
"THE SHIP'S DROWNED."
Rejecting all offers of refreshment--the meal which Constance had
planned, and Judith prepared, both with so much loving care--Mr.
Channing resolved to seek out Butterby at once. In his state of
suspense, he could neither wait, nor eat, nor remain still; it would be
a satisfaction only to see Butterby, and hear his opinion.
Mr. Huntley accompanied him; scarcely less proud than Hamish would have
been, to walk once more arm in arm with Mr. Channing. But, as there is
not the least necessity for our going to the police-station, for Mr.
Butterby could tell us no more than we already know; we will pay a
short visit to Mr. Stephen Bywater.
That gentleman stood in the cloisters, into which he had seduced old
Jenkins, the bedesman, having waited for the twilight hour, that he
might make sure no one else would be there. Ever since the last day you
saw old Jenkins in the cathedral, he had been laid up in his house,
with a touch of what he called his "rheumatiz." Decrepit old fellows
were all the bedesmen, monopolizing enough "rheumatiz" between them for
half the city. If one was not laid up, another would be, especially in
winter. However, old Jenkins had come out again to-day, to the
gratification of Mr. Bywater, who had been wanting him. The cloisters
were all but dark, and Mr. Ketch must undoubtedly be most agreeably
engaged, or he would have shut up before.
"Now then, old Jenkins!" Bywater was saying. "You show me the exact
spot, and I'll give you sixpence for smoke."
Old Jenkins hobbled to one of the mullioned windows near to the college
entrance, and looked over into the dim graveyard. "'Twas about four or
five yards off here," said he.
"But I want to know the precise spot," returned Bywater. "Get over, and
The words made old Jenkins laugh. "Law, sir! me get over there! You
might as well ask me to get over the college. How am I to do it?"
"I'll hoist you up," said Bywater.
"No, no," answered the man. "My old bones be past hoisting now. I
should never get back alive, once I were propelled over into that
Bywater felt considerably discomfited. "What a weak rat you must be,
old Jenkins! Why, it's nothing!"
"I know it ain't--for you college gents. 'Twouldn't have been much for
me when I was your age. Skin and clothes weren't of much account to me,
"Oh, it's that, is it?" returned Bywater, contemptuously. "Look here,
old Jenkins! if your things come to grief, I'll get my uncle to look
you out some of his old ones. I'll give you sixpence for baccy, I say!"
The old bedesman shook his head. "If you give me a waggin load of
baccy, I couldn't get over there. You might just as good put a babby in
arms on the ground, and tell it to walk!"
"Here! get out of the way for an old muff!" was Bywater's rejoinder;
and in a second he had mounted the window-frame, and dropped into the
burial-ground. "Now then, old Jenkins, I'll go about and you call out
when I come to the right spot."
By these means, Bywater arrived at a solution of the question, where
the broken phial was found; old Jenkins pointing out the spot, to the
best of his ability. Bywater then vaulted back again, and alighted safe
and sound in the cloisters. Old Jenkins asked for his sixpence.
"Why, you did not earn it!" said Bywater. "You wouldn't get over!"
"A sixpence is always useful to me," said the old man; "and some of you
gents has 'em in plenty. I ain't paid much; and Joe, he don't give me
much. 'Tain't him; he'd give away his head, and always would--it's her.
Precious close she is with the money, though she earns a sight of it, I
know, at that shop of her'n, and keeps Joe like a king. Wine, and all
the rest of it, she's got for him, since he was ill. 'There's a knife
and fork for ye, whenever ye like to come,' she says to me, in her tart
way. But deuce a bit of money will she give. If it weren't for one and
another friend giving me an odd sixpence now and then, Master Bywater,
I should never hardly get any baccy!"
"There; don't bother!" said Bywater, dropping the coin into his hand.
"Why, bless my heart, who's this, a prowling in the cloisters at this
hour?" exclaimed a well-known cracked voice, advancing upon them with
shuffling footsteps. "What do you do here, pray?"
"You would like to know, wouldn't you, Mr. Calcraft?" said Bywater.
"Studying architecture. There!"
Old Ketch gave a yell of impotent rage, and Bywater decamped, as fast
as his legs would carry him, through the west door.
Arrived at his home, or rather his uncle's, where he lived--for
Bywater's paternal home was in a far-away place, over the sea--he went
straight up to his own room, where he struck a match, and lighted a
candle. Then he unlocked a sort of bureau, and took from it the phial
found by old Jenkins, and a smaller piece which exactly fitted into the
part broken. He had fitted them in ten times before, but it appeared to
afford him satisfaction, and he now sat down and fitted them again.
"Yes," soliloquized he, as he nursed one of his legs--his favourite
attitude--"it's as sure as eggs. And I'd have had it out before, if
that helpless old muff of a Jenkins had been forthcoming. I knew it was
safe to be somewhere near the college gates; but it was as Well to
He turned the phial over and over between his eye and the candle, and
"And now I'll give Mr. Ger a last chance. I told him the other day that
if he'd only speak up like a man to me, and say it was an accident, I'd
drop it for good. But he won't. And find it out, I will. I have said I
would from the first, just for my own satisfaction: and if I break my
word, may they tar and feather me! Ger will only have himself to thank;
if he won't satisfy me in private, I'll bring it against him in public.
I suspected Mr. Ger before; not but that I suspected another; but since
Charley Channing----Oh! bother, though! I don't want to get thinking of
Bywater locked up his treasures, and descended to his tea. That over,
he had enough lessons to occupy him for a few hours, and keep him out
Meanwhile Mr. Channing's interview with the renowned Mr. Butterby had
brought forth nothing, and he was walking back home with Mr. Huntley.
Mr. Huntley strove to lead his friend's thoughts into a different
channel: it seemed quite a mockery to endeavour to whisper hope for
"You will resume your own place in Guild Street at once?" he observed.
"To-morrow, please God."
They walked a few steps further in silence; and then Mr. Channing
entered upon the very subject which Mr. Huntley was hoping he would not
enter upon. "I remember, you spoke, at Borcette, of having something in
view for Hamish, should I be able to attend to business again. What is
"I did," said Mr. Huntley; "and I am sorry that I did. I spoke
"I suppose it is gone?"
"Well--no; it is not gone," replied Mr. Huntley, who was above
equivocation. "I do not think Hamish would suit the place."
Mr. Channing felt a little surprised. There were few places that Hamish
might not suit, if he chose to exercise his talents. "You thought he
would suit then?" he remarked.
"But circumstances have since induced me to alter my opinion," said Mr.
Huntley. "My friend," he more warmly added to Mr. Channing, "you will
oblige me by allowing the subject to drop. I candidly confess to you
that I am not so pleased with Hamish as I once was, and I would rather
not interfere in placing him elsewhere."
"How has he offended you? What has he done?"
"Nay, that is all I will say. I could not help giving you a hint, to
account for what you might have thought caprice. Hamish has not pleased
me, and I cannot take him by the hand. There, let it rest."
Mr. Channing was content to let it rest. In his inmost heart he
entertained no doubt that the cause of offence was in some way
connected with Mr. Huntley's daughter. Hamish was poor: Ellen would be
rich; therefore it was only natural that Mr. Huntley should consider
him an ineligible _parti_ for her. Mr. Channing did not quite see what
that had to do with the present question; but he could not, in
delicacy, urge it further.
They found quite a levee when they entered: the Reverend Mr. Pye, Mr.
Galloway--who had called in with Arthur upon leaving the office for the
night--and William Yorke. All were anxious to welcome and congratulate
Mr. Channing; and all were willing to tender a word of sympathy
respecting Charles. Possibly Mr. Yorke had also another motive: if so,
we shall come to it in due time.
Mr. Pye stayed only a few minutes. He did not say a word about the
seniorship, neither did Mr. Channing to him. What, indeed, could either
of them say? The subject was unpleasant on both sides; therefore it was
best avoided. Tom, however, thought differently.
"Papa!" he exclaimed, plunging into it the moment Mr. Pye's back was
turned, "you might have taken the opportunity to tell him that I shall
leave the school. It is not often he comes here."
"But you are not going to leave the school," said Mr. Channing.
"Yes, I am," replied Tom, speaking with unmistakable firmness. "Hamish
made me stay on, until you came home; and I don't know how I have done
it. It is of no use, papa! I cannot put up with the treatment--the
insults I receive. It was bad enough to lose the seniorship, but that
is as nothing to the other. And to what end should I stop, when my
chance of the exhibition is gone?"
"It is not gone, Tom. Mr. Huntley--as word was written to me at
Borcette--has declined it for his son."
"It is not the less gone for me, papa. Let me merit it as I will, I
shall not be allowed to receive it, any more than I did the seniorship.
I am out of favour, both with master and boys; and you know what that
means, in a public school. If you witnessed the way I am served by the
boys, you would be the first to say I must leave." "What do they do?"
asked Mr. Channing.
"They do enough to provoke my life out of me," said Tom, falling into a
little of his favourite heat. "Were it myself only that they attacked,
I might perhaps stop and brave it out; but it is not so. They go on
against Arthur in a way that would make a saint mad."
"Pooh, pooh!" interposed Mr. Galloway, who was standing by. "If I am
content to accept Arthur's innocence, surely the college school may
Mr. Channing turned to the proctor. "Do you now believe him innocent?"
"I say I am content to accept his innocence," was the reply of Mr.
Galloway; and Arthur, who was within hearing, could only do as he had
had to do so many times before--school his spirit to patience. "Content
to accept," and open exculpation, were essentially different things.
"Let me speak with you a minute, Galloway," said Mr. Channing, taking
the proctor's arm and leading him across the hall to the drawing-room.
"Tom," he added, looking back, "you shall tell me of these grievances
The drawing-room door closed upon them, and Mr. Channing spoke with
eagerness. "Is it possible that you still suspect Arthur to have been
"Channing, I am fairly puzzled," returned Mr. Galloway, "His own
manner, relating to it, has not changed, and that manner is not
compatible with innocence, You made the same remark yourself, at the
"But you have had the money returned to you, I understand."
"I know I have."
"Well, that surely is a proof that the thief could not have been
"Pardon me," replied Mr. Galloway, "It may be a proof as much against
him as for him: it may have come from himself."
"Nay, where was Arthur to find twenty pounds to send to you?"
"There are two ways in which he might find it. But"--Mr. Galloway broke
off abruptly--"I do not like to urge these things on you; they can only
"Not greater pain than I have already undergone," was Mr. Channing's
answer. "Tell me, I pray you, all your thoughts--all you suspect: just
as though you were speaking to any indifferent friend. It is right that
I should know it. Yes, come in, Huntley," Mr. Channing added, for Mr.
Huntley at that moment opened the door, unconscious that any private
conference was going forward. "I have no secrets from you. Come in. We
are talking of Arthur."
"I was observing that there are two means by which the money could have
come from Arthur," resumed Mr. Galloway, when Mr. Huntley had entered.
"The one, by his never having used the note originally taken; the
other, by getting a friend to return it for him. Now, my opinion is,
that he did not pursue the first plan, I believe that, if he took the
note, he used it. I questioned him on the evening of its arrival, and
at the first moment his manner almost convinced me that he was
innocent. He appeared to be genuinely surprised at the return of the
money, and ingenuously confessed that he had not possessed any to send.
But his manner veered again--suddenly, strangely--veered round to all
its old unsatisfactory suspiciousness; and when I hinted that I should
recall Butterby to my counsels, he became agitated, as he had done
formerly. My firm belief," Mr. Galloway added, laying his hand
impressively upon Mr. Channing--"my firm belief is, that Arthur did get
the money sent back to me through a friend."
"But what friend would be likely to do such a thing for him?" debated
Mr. Channing, not in the least falling in with the argument. "I know of
"I think"--and Mr. Galloway dropped his voice--"that it came from
"From Hamish!" was Mr. Channing's echo, in a strong accent of dissent.
"That is nonsense. Hamish would never screen guilt. Hamish has not
twenty pounds to spare."
"He might spare it in the cause of a brother; and for a brother's sake
he might even screen guilt," pursued Mr. Galloway. "Honourable and open
as Hamish is, I must still express my belief that the twenty pounds
came from him."
"Honourable and open as Hamish is!" the words grated on Mr. Huntley,
and a cynical expression rose to his face. Mr. Channing observed it.
"What do you think of it?" he involuntarily asked.
"I have never had any other opinion but that the money did come from
Hamish," drily remarked Mr. Huntley. And Mr. Channing, in his utter
astonishment, could not answer.
"Hamish happened to call in at my office the afternoon that the money
was received," resumed Mr. Galloway. "It was after I had spoken to
Arthur. I had been thinking it over, and came to the conclusion that if
it had come from Arthur, Hamish must have done it for him. In the
impulse of the moment, I put the question to him--Had he done it to
screen Arthur? And Hamish's answer was a mocking one."
"A mocking one!" repeated Mr. Channing. "A mocking, careless answer;
one that vexed me, I know, at the time. The next day I told Arthur,
point blank, that I believed the money came from Hamish. I wish you
could have seen his flush of confusion! and, deny it, he did not.
Altogether, my impression against Arthur was rather confirmed, than the
contrary, by the receipt of the money; though I am truly grieved to
have to say it."
"And _you_ think the same!" Mr. Channing exclaimed to Mr. Huntley.
"Never mind what I think," was the answer. "Beyond the one opinion I
expressed, I will not be drawn into the discussion. I did not intend to
say so much: it was a slip of the tongue."
Mr. Huntley was about to leave the room as he spoke, perhaps lest he
should make other "slips;" but Mr. Channing interposed and drew him
back. "Stay, Huntley," he said, "we cannot rest in this uncertainty.
Oblige me by remaining one instant, while I call Hamish."
Hamish entered in obedience. He appeared somewhat surprised to see them
assembled in conclave, looking so solemn; but he supposed it related to
Charles. Mr. Channing undeceived him.
"Hamish, we are speaking of Arthur. Both these gentlemen have expressed
"I beg your pardon," interrupted Mr. Huntley. "I said that I should be
obliged if you would leave me out of the discussion."
"What does it signify?" returned Mr. Channing, his tone one of haste.
"Hamish, Mr. Galloway has expressed to me a belief that you have so far
taken part with Arthur in that unhappy affair, as to send back the
money to him."
"Oh, indeed!" said Hamish; and his manner was precisely what Mr.
Galloway had described it to have been at the time; light, mocking,
careless. "Mr. Galloway did me the honour to express something of the
same belief, I remember."
"Did you send it, Hamish?" asked his father, a severe look crossing his
"No, sir, I did not," emphatically replied Hamish. And Mr. Huntley
turned and bent his keen eye upon him. In his heart of hearts he
believed it to be a deliberate falsehood.
"I did not send the money, and I do not know who did send it," went on
Hamish. "But, as we are upon the subject, perhaps I may be allowed to
express my opinion that, if there were as much labour taken to
establish Arthur's innocence, as it seems to me there is to prove him
guilty, he might have been cleared long ago."
That the remark was aimed at Mr. Galloway, there was no doubt. Mr.
Huntley answered it; and, had they been suspicious, they might have
detected a covert meaning in his tone.
"You, at any rate, must hold firm faith in his innocence."
"Firm and entire faith," distinctly assented Hamish. "Father," he
added, impulsively turning to Mr. Channing, "put all notion of Arthur's
guilt from you, at once and for ever. I would answer for him with my
"Then he must be screening some one," cried Mr. Galloway. "It is one
thing or the other. Hamish, it strikes me you know. Who is it?"
A red flush mounted to Hamish's brow, but he lapsed into his former
mocking tone. "Nay," said he, "I can tell nothing about that."
He left the room as he spoke, and the conference broke up. It appeared
that no satisfactory solution could be come to, if they kept it on till
midnight. Mr. Galloway took leave, and hastened home to dinner.
"I must be going also," remarked Mr. Huntley. Nevertheless, he returned
with Mr. Channing to the other room.
"You told me at Borcette that you were fully persuaded of Arthur's
innocence; you were ready to ridicule me for casting a doubt upon it,"
Mr. Channing remarked to him in a low tone, as they crossed the hall.
"I have never been otherwise than persuaded of it," said Mr. Huntley.
"He is innocent as you, or as I."
"And yet you join Mr. Galloway in assuming that he and Hamish sent back
the money! The one assertion is incompatible with the other."
Mr. Huntley laid his hand upon Mr. Channing's shoulder. "My dear
friend, all that you and I can do, is to let the matter rest. We should
only plunge into shoals and quicksands, and lose our way in them, were
we to pursue it."
They had halted at the parlour door to speak. Judith came bustling up
at that moment from the kitchen, a letter in her hand, looking as if in
her hurry she might have knocked them over, had they not made way for
her to enter.
"Bad luck to my memory, then! It's getting not worth a button. Here,
Master Arthur. The postman gave it me at the door, just as I had caught
sight of the fly turning the corner with the master and missis. I
slipped it into my pocket, and never thought of it till this minute."
"So! it has come at last, has it?" cried Arthur, recognising Roland
"Is he really off?" inquired Tom.
"Yes, he is really off," replied Arthur, opening the letter and
beginning to glance over the contents. "He has sailed in the ship
_Africa_. Don't talk to me, Tom. What a long letter!"
They left him to read it in peace. Talking together--Mr. and Mrs.
Channing, Mr. Huntley, William Yorke, Hamish, Constance--all were in a
group round the fire, paying no attention to him. No attention, until
an exclamation caused them to turn.
An exclamation half of distress, half of fear. Arthur had risen from
his chair, and stood, the picture of excitement, his face and lips
"What is the matter?" they exclaimed.
"Roland--the ship--Roland"--and there Arthur stopped, apparently unable
to say more.
"Oh, it's drowned! it's drowned!" cried quick Annabel. "The ship's
drowned, and Roland with it!" And Arthur sank back in his chair again,
and covered his face with his hands.
NEWS FROM ROLAND.
You will like to look over Arthur's shoulder, as he reads the letter
just received from Roland Yorke.
"DEAR OLD CHUM,"
"By the time you get this letter, I shall be ploughing the waves of the
briny deep, in the ship _Africa_. You will get the letter on Wednesday
night. That is, you ought to get it; for I have desired Carrick to post
it accordingly, and I'm sure he'll do it if he does not forget. And old
Galloway will get a letter at the same time, and Lady Augusta will get
one. _I_ shall have been off more than twenty-four hours, for we leave
Gravesend on Tuesday at noon. Carrick has behaved like a trump. He has
bought me all the things I asked him, and paid my passage-money, and
given me fifty pounds in my pocket to land with; so I am safe to get
on. The only thing he stood out about was the frying-pans. He couldn't
see of what use they'd be, he said. So we made a compromise, and I am
taking out only four-and-twenty, instead of the forty dozen that I had
thought of. I could not find Bagshaw's list, and the frying-pans are
about all I am taking, in the shape of utensils, except a large
tool-chest, which they palmed off upon Carrick, for it was as dear as
"I dare say you have been vowing vengeance upon me, for not coming
round to see you before I started; but I stopped away on purpose, for I
might have let out something that I did not care to let out then; and
that's what I am writing for."
"Old fellow, I have been fit to kill myself. All that bother that they
laid upon you about the bank-note ought to have fallen upon me, for it
was I who took it. There! the confession's made. And now explode at me
for ten minutes, with all your energy and wrath, before you read on. It
will be a relief to your feelings and to mine. Perhaps if you'd go out
of the way to swear a bit, it mightn't be amiss."
It was at this juncture that Arthur had started up so wildly, causing
Annabel to exclaim that the "ship was drowned." In his access of
bewilderment, the first shadowy thought that overpowered him was a
dreadful feeling of grief, for Roland's sake. He had liked Roland; with
all his faults, he had liked him much; and it was as if some cherished
statue had fallen, and been dashed to pieces. Wild, joyful beatings of
relief, that Hamish was innocent, were mingling with it, thumping
against his heart, soon to exclude all else and fill it to bursting.
But as yet this was indistinct; and the first clear idea that came to
him was--Was Roland telling truth, or was he only playing a joke upon
him? Arthur read on.
"I was awfully hard up for money. I was worse than Hamish, and he was
pretty hard up then; though he seems to have staved off the fellows
since--he best knows how. I told him one day I should like to borrow
the receipt, and he laughed and said he'd give it to me with all the
pleasure in life if it were transferable. Ask him if he remembers
saying it. When Galloway was sending the money that day to the cousin
Galloway, I thought what a shame it was, as I watched him slip the
bank-note into the letter. That cousin Galloway was always having money
sent him, and I wished Galloway would give it me instead. Then came
that row with Mad Nance; and as you and Galloway turned to see what was
up, I just pulled open the envelope, that instant wet and stuck down,
took out the money, pressed the gum down again, and came and stood at
your back, at the window, leaning out. It did not take me half a
minute; and the money was in my pocket, and the letter was empty! But
now, look here!--I never meant to steal the note. I am not a Newgate
thief, yet. I was in an uncommon fix just then, over a certain affair;
and if I could not stop the fellow's mouth, there'd have been the
dickens to pay. So I took the money for _that_ stop-gap, never
intending to do otherwise than replace it in Galloway's desk as soon as
I could get it. I knew I should be having some from Lord Carrick. It
was all Lady Augusta's fault. She had turned crusty, and would not help
me. I stopped out all that afternoon with Knivett, if you remember, and
that placed me beyond suspicion when the stir came, though it was not
for that reason I stayed, for I never had a thought that the row would
fall upon us in the office. I supposed the loss would be set down to
the letter-carriers--as of course it ought to have been. I stayed out,
the bank-note burning a hole all the while in my waistcoat pocket, and
sundry qualms coming over me whether I should not put it back again. I
began to wonder how I could get rid of it safely, not knowing but that
Galloway might have the number, and I think I should have put it back,
what with that doubt and my twitchings of conscience, but for a thing
that happened. After I parted with Knivett, I ran home for something I
wanted, and Lady Augusta heard me and called me into her bedroom.
'Roland,' said she, 'I want you to get me a twenty-pound note from the
bank; I have occasion to send one to Ireland.' Now, Arthur, I ask you,
was ever such encouragement given to a fellow in wrong-doing? Of
course, my note, that is, Galloway's note, went to Ireland, and a
joyful riddance it seemed; as thoroughly _gone_ as if I had despatched
it to the North Pole. Lady Augusta handed me twenty sovereigns, and I
made believe to go to the bank and exchange them for a note. She put it
into a letter, and I took it to the post-office at once. No wonder you
grumbled at my being away so long!"
"Next came the row. And when I found that suspicion fell upon _you_, I
was nearly mad. If I had not parted with the money, I should have gone
straight to Galloway and said, 'Here it is; I took it.' Not a soul
stood up for you as they ought! Even Mr. Channing fell into the
suspicion, and Hamish seemed indifferent and cool as a cucumber. I have
never liked Galloway since; and I long, to this day, to give Butterby a
ducking. How I kept my tongue from blurting out the truth, I don't
know: but a gentleman born does not like to own himself a thief. It was
the publicity given to it that kept me silent; and I hope old Galloway
and Butterby will have horrid dreams for a week to come, now they know
the truth! I was boiling over always. I don't know how I managed to
live through it; and that soft calf of a Jenkins was always defending
Galloway when I flew out about him. Nobody could do more than I did to
throw the blame upon the post-office--and it was the most likely thing
in the world for the post-office to have done?--but the more I talked,
the more old Galloway brought up that rubbish about his 'seals!' I hope
he'll have horrid dreams for a month to come! I'd have prosecuted the
post-office if I had had the cash to do it with, and that might have
"Well, old chap, it went on and on--you lying under the cloud, and I
mad with every one. I could do nothing to clear you (unless I had
confessed), except sending back the money to Galloway's, with a letter
to say you did not do it. It was upon my mind night and day. I was
always planning how to accomplish it; but for some time I could not
find the money. When Carrick came to Helstonleigh he was short himself,
and I had to wait. I told him I was in an awful mess for the want of
twenty pounds. And that was true in more senses than one, for I did not
know where to turn to for money for my own uses. At last Carrick gave
it me--he had given me a trifle or two before, of five pounds or so, of
no use--and then I had to wait an opportunity of sending it to London
to be posted. Carrick's departure afforded that. I wrote the note to
Galloway with my _left_ hand, in print sort of letters, put the money
into it, and Carrick promised to post it in London. I told him it was a
_Valentine_ to old Galloway, flattering him on his youthful curls, and
Carrick laughed till he was hoarse, at the notion. Deuce take his
memory! he had been pretty nearly a week in London before he thought of
the letter, and then putting his hand into his pocket he found it. I
had given it up by that time, and thought no one in the world ever had
such luck as I. At last it came; and all I can say is, I wish the
post-office had taken that, before it ever did come. Of all the crying
shames, that was the worst! The old carp got the money, and _yet_ would
not clear you! I shall never forgive Galloway for that! and when I come
back from Port Natal, rolling in wealth, I'll not look at him when I
pass him in the street, which will cork him uncommonly, and I don't
care if you tell him so. Had I wavered about Port Natal before, that
would have decided me. Clear you I would, and I saw there was no way to
do it but by telling the truth, which I did not care to do while I was
in Helstonleigh. And now I am off, and you know the truth, and Galloway
knows it, for he'll have his letter when you have yours (and I hope it
will be a pill for him), and all Helstonleigh will know it, and you are
cleared, dear old Arthur!"
"The first person that I shall lavish a little of my wealth upon, when
I return, will be poor Jenkins, if he should be still in the land of
the living. We all know that he has as much in him as a gander, and
lets that adorable Mrs. J. (I wish you could have seen her turban the
morning I took leave!) be mistress and master, but he has done me many
a good turn: and, what's more, he _stood up for you_. When Galloway,
Butterby, and Co. were on at it, discussing proofs against you,
Jenkins's humble voice would be heard, 'I am sure, gentlemen, Mr.
Arthur never did it!' Many a time I could have hugged him! and he shall
have some of my good luck when I reach home. You shall have it too,
Arthur! I shall never make a friend to care for half as much as I care
for you, and I wish you would have been persuaded to come out with me
and make your fortune; but as you would not, you shall share mine.
Mind! I should have cleared you just the same, if you had come."
"And that's all I have to tell. And now you see why I did not care
to say 'Good-bye,' for I don't think I could have said it without
telling all. Remember me to the folks at your house, and I hope Mr.
Channing will come home stunning. I shall look to you for all the
news, mind! If a great wind blows the cathedral down, or a fire burns
the town up, it's you who must write it; no one else will. Direct to
me--Post-office, Port Natal, until I send you an address, which I shall
do the first thing. Have you any news of Charley?"
"I had almost forgotten that bright kinsman of mine, the chaplain of
Hazledon. Pray present my affectionate compliments to him, and say he
has not the least idea how very much I revere him. I should like to see
his face when he finds it was I who was the delinquent. Constance can
turn the tables on him now. But if she ever forgives him, she'll
deserve to be as henpecked as Jenkins is; and tell her I say so."
"I meant to have told you about a spree I have had since I came to
London, but there's no room, so I'll conclude sentimentally, as a lady
"Yours for ever and ever,"
You must not think that Arthur Channing read this letter deliberately,
as you have been able to read it. He had only skimmed it--skimmed it
with straining eye and burning brow; taking in its general sense, its
various points; but of its words, none. In his overpowering
emotion--his perplexed confusion--he started up with wild words: "Oh,
father! he is innocent! Constance, he is innocent! Hamish, Hamish!
forgive--forgive me! I have been wicked enough to believe you guilty
all this time!"
To say that they stared at him--to say that they did not understand
him--would be weak words to express the surprise that fell upon them,
and seemed to strike them dumb. Arthur kept on reiterating the words,
as if he could not sufficiently relieve his overburdened heart.
"Hamish never did it! Constance, we might have known it. Constance,
what could so have blinded our reason? He has been innocent all this
Mr. Huntley was the first to find his tongue. "Innocent of what?" asked
he. "What news have you received there?" pointing to the letter.
"It is from Roland Yorke. He says"--Arthur hesitated, and lowered his
voice--"that bank-note lost by Mr. Galloway--"
"Well?" they uttered, pressing round him.
"It was Roland who took it!"
Then arose a Babel of voices: questions to Arthur, references to the
letter, and explanations. Mr. Channing, amidst his deep thankfulness,
gathered Arthur to him with a fond gesture. "My boy, there has been
continual conflict waging in my heart," he said; "appearances _versus_
my better judgment. But for your own doubtful manner, I should have
spurned the thought that you were guilty. Why did you not speak out
"Father, how could I--believing that it was Hamish? Hamish, dear
Hamish, say you forgive me!"
Hamish was the only one who had retained calmness. Remarkably
cool was he. He gazed upon them with the most imperturbable
self-possession--rather inclined to be amused than otherwise.
"Suspect me!" cried he, raising his eyebrows.
"We did, indeed!"
"_Bien oblige_," responded Mr. Hamish. "Perhaps _you_ shared the honour
of the doubt?" he mockingly added, turning to Mr. Huntley.
"I did," replied that gentleman. "Ellen did not," he added, losing
his seriousness in a half laugh. "Miss Ellen and I have been at
daggers-drawn upon the point."
Hamish actually blushed like a schoolgirl. "Ellen knows me better," was
all he said, speaking very quietly. "I should have thought some of the
rest of you had known me better, also."
"Hamish," said Mr. Huntley, "I think we were all in for a host of
Mr. Channing had listened in surprise, Mrs. Channing in indignation.
Her brave, good Hamish! her best and dearest!
"I cannot see how it was possible to suspect Hamish," observed Mr.
But, before any more could be said, they were interrupted by Mr.
Galloway, an open letter in his hand. "Here's a pretty repast for a
man!" he exclaimed. "I go home, expecting to dine in peace, and I find
this pill upon my plate!" Pill was the very word Roland had used.
They understood, naturally, what the pill was. Especially Arthur, who
had been told by Roland himself, that he was writing to Mr. Galloway.
"You see, sir," said Arthur with a bright smile, "that I was innocent."
"I do see it," replied Mr. Galloway, laying his hand on Arthur's
shoulder. "Why could you not speak openly to my face and tell me so?"
"Because--I am ashamed, sir, now to confess why. We were all at
cross-purposes together, it seems."
"He suspected that it was all in the family, Mr. Galloway," cried
Hamish, in his gay good humour. "It appears that he laid the charge of
that little affair to _me_."
"Nonsense!" said Mr. Galloway.
"We both did," exclaimed Constance, coming forward with tears in her
eyes. "Do you think that the mere fact of suspicion being cast upon
him, publicly though it was made, could have rendered us as cowardly
miserable as it did? Hamish, how shall we atone to you?"
"The question is, how shall I atone to you, my old friend, for the
wrong done your son?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, seizing Mr. Channing's
hand. "Arthur, you and I shall have accounts to make up together."
"If reparation for unjust suspicion is to be the order of the day, I
think I ought to have some of it," said laughing Hamish, with a glance
at Mr. Huntley.
A sudden thought seemed to strike Mr. Channing. "Huntley," he
impulsively cried, "was this the cause of displeasure that you hinted
had been given you by Hamish?"
"That, and nothing else," was Mr. Huntley's answer. "I suppose I must
take him into favour again--'make reparation,' as he says."
A saucy smile crossed the lips of Hamish. It as good as said, "I know
who will, if you don't." But Mr. Galloway was interrupting.
"The most extraordinary thing of the whole is," he observed, with
unwonted emphasis, "that we never suspected Roland Yorke, knowing him
as we did know him. It will be a caution to me as long as I live, never
to go again by appearances. Careless, thoughtless, impulsive,
conscienceless Roland Yorke! Of course! Who else would have been likely
to help themselves to it? I wonder what scales were before our eyes?"
Mr. Channing turned to his son Tom, who had been seated astride on the
arm of a sofa, in a glow of astonishment, now succeeded by
satisfaction. "Tom, my boy! There'll be no particular hurry for leaving
the college school, will there?"
Tom slid off his perch and went straight up to Arthur. "Arthur, I beg
your pardon heartily for the harsh words and thoughts I may have given
you. I was just a fool, or I should have known you could not be guilty.
Were you screening Roland Yorke?"
"No," said Arthur, "I never suspected him for a moment. As to any one's
begging _my_ pardon, I have most cause to do that, for suspecting
Hamish. You'll be all right now, Tom."
But now, in the midst of this demonstration from all sides, I will
leave you to judge what were the feelings of that reverend divine,
William Yorke. You may remember that he was present. He had gone to Mr.
Channing's house ostensibly to welcome Mr. Channing home and
congratulate him on his restoration. Glad, in truth, was he to possess
the opportunity to do that; but Mr. Yorke's visit also included a
purpose less disinterested. Repulsed by Constance in the two or three
appeals he had made to her, he had impatiently awaited the return of
Mr. Channing, to solicit his influence. Remembering the past, listening
to this explanation of the present, you may imagine, if you can, what
his sensations must have been. He, who had held up his head, in his
haughty Yorke spirit, ready to spurn Arthur for the suspicion cast upon
him, ready to believe that he was guilty, resenting it upon Constance,
had now to stand and learn that the guilt lay in his family, not in
theirs. No wonder that he stood silent, grave, his lips drawn in to
Mr. Galloway soon departed again. He had left his dinner untouched upon
his table. Mr. Huntley took the occasion to leave with him; and, in the
earnestness of discussion, they all went out with them to the hall,
except Constance. This was Mr. Yorke's opportunity. His arms folded,
his pale cheek flushed to pain, he moved before her, and stood there,
drawn to his full height, speaking hoarsely.
"Constance, will it be possible for you to forgive me?"
What a fine field it presented for her to play the heroine! To go into
fierce declamations that she never could, and never would forgive him,
but would hold herself aloof from him for ever and a day, condemning
him to bachelorhood! Unfortunately for these pages, Constance Channing
had nothing of the heroine in her composition. She was only one of
those simple, truthful, natural English girls, whom I hope you often
meet in your every-day life. She smiled at William Yorke through her
glistening eye-lashes, and drew closer to him. Did he take the hint? He
took _her_; took her to that manly breast that would henceforth be her
shelter for ever.
"Heaven knows how I will strive to atone to you, my darling."
It was a happy evening, chequered, though it necessarily must be, with
thoughts of Charles. And Mr. Channing, in the midst of his deep grief
and perplexity, thanked God for His great mercy in restoring the
suspected to freedom. "My boy!" he exclaimed to Arthur, "how bravely
you have borne it all!"
"Not always very bravely," said Arthur, shaking his head. "There were
times when I inwardly rebelled."
"It could not have been done without one thing," resumed Mr. Channing:
"firm trust in God."
Arthur's cheek kindled. That had ever been present with him. "When
things would wear their darkest aspect, I used to say to myself,
'Patience and hope; and trust in God!' But I never anticipated this
bright ending," he added. "I never thought that I and Hamish should
both be cleared."
"I cannot conceive how you could have suspected Hamish!" Mr. Channing
repeated, after a pause. Of all the wonders, that fact seemed to have
taken most hold of his mind.
Arthur made a slight answer, but did not pursue the topic. There were
circumstances connected with it, regarding Hamish, not yet explained.
He could not speak of them to Mr. Channing.
Neither were they to be explained, as it seemed to Arthur. At any rate,
not at present. When they retired to rest, Hamish came into his room;
as he had done that former night, months ago, when suspicion had just
been thrown upon Arthur. They went up together, and Hamish, instead of
turning into his own room, followed Arthur to his. He set down the
candle on the table, and turned to Arthur with his frank smile.
"How is it that we can have been playing at these cross-purposes,
Arthur? Why did you not tell me at the time that you were innocent?"
"I think I did tell you so, Hamish: if my memory serves me rightly."
"Well, I am not sure; it may have been so; but in a very
undemonstrative sort of manner, if you did at all. That sort of manner
from you, Arthur, would only create perplexity."
Arthur smiled. "Don't you see? believing that you had taken it, I
thought you must know whether I was innocent or guilty. And, for your
sake, I did not dare to defend myself to others. Had only a breath of
suspicion fallen upon you, Hamish, it might have cost my father his
"What induced you to suspect me? Surely not the simple fact of being
alone for a few minutes with the letter in Galloway's office?"
"Not that. That alone would have been nothing; but, coupled with other
circumstances, it assumed a certain weight. Hamish, I will tell you. Do
you remember the trouble you were in at the time--owing money in the
A smile parted Hamish's lips; he seemed half inclined to make fun of
the reminiscence. "I remember it well enough. What of that?"
"You contrived to pay those debts, or partially pay them, at the exact
time the note was taken; and we knew you had no money of your own to do
it with. We saw you also with gold in your purse-through Annabel's
tricks, do you remember?--and we knew that it could not be
yours--legitimately yours, I mean."
Hamish's smile turned into a laugh. "Stop a bit, Arthur. The money with
which I paid up, and the gold you saw, _was_ mine; legitimately mine.
Don't speak so fast, old fellow."
"But where did it come from, Hamish?"
"It did not come from Galloway's office, and it did not drop from the
skies," laughed Hamish. "Never mind where else it came from. Arthur
boy, I wish you had been candid, and had given me a hint of your
"We were at cross purposes, as you observe," repeated Arthur. "Once
plunge into them, and there's no knowing when enlightenment will come;
perhaps never. But you were not very open with me."
"I was puzzled," replied Hamish. "You may remember that my seeing a
crowd round the Guildhall, was the first intimation I received of the
matter. When they told me, in answer to my questions, that my brother,
Arthur Channing, was taken up on suspicion of stealing a bank-note, and
was then under examination, I should have laughed in their faces, but
for my inclination to knock them down. I went into that hall, Arthur,
trusting in your innocence as implicitly as I trusted in my own,
boiling over with indignation against all who had dared to accuse you,
ready to stand up for you against the world. I turned my eyes upon you
as you stood there, and your gaze met mine. Arthur, what made you look
so? I never saw guilt--or perhaps I would rather say shame, conscious
shame--shine out more palpably from any countenance than it did from
yours then. It startled me--it _cowed_ me; and, in that moment, I did
believe you guilty. Why did you look so?"
"I looked so for your sake, Hamish. Your countenance betrayed your
dismay, and I read it for signs of your own guilt and shame. Not until
then did I fully believe you guilty. We were at cross-purposes, you
see, throughout the piece."
"Cross-purposes, indeed!" repeated Hamish.
"Have you believed me guilty until now?"
"No," replied Hamish. "After a few days my infatuation wore off. It was
an infatuation, and nothing less, ever to have believed a Channing
guilty. I then took up another notion, and that I have continued to
"What was it?"
"That you were screening Roland Yorke."
Arthur lifted up his eyes to Hamish.
"I did indeed. Roland's excessive championship of you, his impetuous
agitation when others brought it up against you, first aroused my
suspicions that he himself must have been guilty; and I came to the
conclusion that you also had discovered his guilt, and were generously
screening him. I believed that you would not allow a stir be made in it
to clear yourself, lest it should bring it home to him. Cross purposes
again, you will say."
"Ah, yes. Not so much as an idea of suspecting Roland Yorke ever came
across me. All my fear was, that he, or any one, should suspect you."
Hamish laughed as he placed his hands upon Arthur's shoulders. "The
best plan for the future will be, to have no secrets one from the
other; otherwise, it seems hard to say what labyrinths we may not get
into. What do you say, old fellow?"
"You began the secrets first, Hamish."
"Did I? Well, let us thank Heaven that the worst are over."
Ay, thank Heaven! Most sincerely was Arthur Channing doing that. The
time to give thanks had come.
Meanwhile Mr. Huntley had proceed home. He found Miss Huntley in the
stiffest and most uncompromising of moods; and no wonder, for Mr.
Huntley had kept dinner waiting, I am afraid to say how long. Harry,
who was to have dined with them that day, had eaten his, and flown off
to the town again, to keep some appointment with the college boys. Miss
Huntley now ate hers in dignified displeasure; but Mr. Huntley, sitting
opposite to her, appeared to be in one of his very happiest moods.
Ellen attributed it to the fact of Mr. Channing's having returned home
well. She asked a hundred questions about them--of their journey, their
arrival--and Mr. Huntley never seemed tired of answering.
Barely was the cloth removed, when Miss Huntley rose. Mr. Huntley
crossed the room to open the door for her, and bow her out. Although he
was her brother, she would never have forgiven him, had he omitted that
little mark of ceremony. Ellen was dutifully following. She could not
always brave her aunt. Mr. Huntley, however, gave Ellen a touch as she
was passing him, drew her back, and closed the door upon his sister.
"Ellen, I have been obliged to take Mr. Hamish into favour again."
Ellen's cheeks became glowing. She tried to find an answer, but none
"I find Hamish had nothing to do with the loss of the bank-note."
Then she found words. "Oh, papa, no! How could you ever have imagined
such a thing? You might have known the Channings better. They are above
"I did know them better at one time, or else you may be sure, young
lady, Mr. Hamish would not have been allowed to come here as he did.
However, it is cleared up; and I suppose you would like to tell me that
I was just a donkey for my pains."
Ellen shook her head and laughed. She would have liked to ask whether
Mr. Hamish was to be allowed to come again on the old familiar footing,
had she known how to frame the question. But it was quite beyond her
"When I told him this evening that I had suspected him--"
She clasped her hands and turned to Mr. Huntley, her rich colour going
and coming. "Papa, you _told_ him?"
"Ay. And I was not the only one to suspect him, or to tell him. I can
assure you that, Miss Ellen."
"What did he say? How did he receive it?"
"Told us he was much obliged to us all. I don't think Hamish _could_ be
put out of temper."
"Then you do not dislike him now, papa?" she said, timidly.
"I never have disliked him. When I believed what I did of him, I could
not dislike him even then, try as I would. There, you may go to your
And Ellen went, feeling that the earth and air around her had suddenly
become as Eden.
THE BROKEN PHIAL.
That broken phial, you have heard of, was burning a hole in Bywater's
pocket, as Roland Yorke had said the bank-note did in his. He had been
undecided about complaining to the master; strangely so for Bywater.
The fact was, he had had a strong suspicion, from the very first, that
the boy who did the damage to the surplice was Pierce senior. At least,
his suspicions had been divided between that gentleman and Gerald
Yorke. The cause of suspicion against Pierce need not be entered into,
since it was misplaced. In point of fact, Mr. Pierce was, so far as
that feat went, both innocent and unconscious. But Bywater could not be
sure that he was, and he did not care to bring the accusation publicly
against Gerald, should he be innocent.
You saw Bywater, a chapter or two back, fitting the broken pieces
together in his bedroom. On the following morning--it was also the
morning following the arrival of the important letter from Roland
Yorke--Bywater detained Gerald Yorke when the boys tore down the
schoolroom steps after early school.
"I say, Yorke, I said I'd give you a last chance, and now I am doing
it," he began. "If you'll acknowledge the truth to me about that
surplice affair, I'll let it drop. I will, upon my honour. I'll never
say another word about it."
Gerald flew into a rage. "Now look you here, Mr. Bywater," was his
angry retort. "You bother me again with that stale fish, and I'll put
you up for punishment. It's--"
Gerald stopped. Tom Channing was passing close to them, and Mr. Gerald
had never cared to be heard, when talking about the surplice. At that
moment a group of boys, who were running out of the cloisters, the
opposite road to Tom Channing, turned round and hissed him, Tod Yorke
adding some complimentary remark about "stolen notes." As usual, it was
a shaft launched at Arthur. Not as usual did Tom receive it. There was
nothing of fierce defiance now in his demeanour; nothing of
half-subdued rage. Tom halted; took off his trencher with a smile of
suavity that might have adorned Hamish, and thanked them with as much
courtesy as if it had been real, especially Tod. Gerald Yorke and
Bywater looked on with surprise. They little dreamt of the great secret
that Tom now carried within him. He could afford to be calm.
"Why, it's four months, good, since that surplice was damaged," resumed
Gerald, in a tone of irritation, to Bywater, as soon as they were alone
again. "One would think it was of rare value, by your keeping up the
ball in this way. Every now and then you break out afresh about that
surplice. Was it made of gold?"
"It was made of Irish linen," returned Bywater, who generally contrived
to retain his coolness, whoever might grow heated. "I tell you that I
have a fresh clue, Yorke; one I have been waiting for. I thought it
would turn up some time. If you say you did it, by accident or how you
like, I'll let it drop. If you don't, I'll bring it before Pye after
"Bring it," retorted Gerald.
"Mind you, I mean what I say. I shall bring the charge against you, and
I have the proofs."
"Bring it, I say!" fiercely repeated Gerald. "Who cares for your
bringings? Mind your bones afterwards, that's all!"
He pushed Bywater from him with a haughty gesture, and raced home to
breakfast, hoping there would be something good to assuage his hunger.
But Bywater was not to be turned from his determination. Never a boy in
the school less likely than he. He went home to _his_ breakfast, and
returned to school to have his name inscribed on the roll, and then
went into college with the other nine choristers, and took his part in
the service. And the bottle, I say, was burning a hole in his pocket.
The Reverend William Yorke was chanting, and Arthur Channing sat at the
organ. Would the Very Reverend the Dean of Helstonleigh, standing in
his stall so serenely placid, his cap resting on the cushion beside
him, ever again intimate a doubt that Arthur was not worthy to take
part in the service? But the dean did not know the news yet.
Back in the school-room, Bywater lost no time. He presented himself
before the master, and entered upon his complaint, schoolboy fashion.
"Please, sir, I think I have found out who inked my surplice."
The master had allowed the occurrence to slip partially from his
memory. At any rate, it was some time since he had called it up. "Oh,
indeed!" said he somewhat cynically, to Bywater, after a pause given to
revolving the circumstances. "Think you have found out the boy, do
"Yes, sir; I am pretty sure of it. I think it was Gerald Yorke."
"Gerald Yorke! One of the seniors!" repeated the master, casting a
penetrating gaze upon Bywater.
The fact was, Mr. Pye, at the time of the occurrence, had been somewhat
inclined to a secret belief that the real culprit was Bywater himself.
Knowing that gentleman's propensity to mischief, knowing that the
destruction of a few surplices, more or less, would be only fun to him,
he had felt an unpleasant doubt upon the point. "Did you do it