Part 2 out of 12
"I'm not exactly afraid," spoke the man. "I suppose if it came to it,
Lady Augusta would see that I had the money."
"You hold your tongue about Lady Augusta. What's Lady Augusta to you?
Any odds and ends that I may owe, have nothing to do with Lady Augusta.
Look here, Simms, I'll pay you next week."
"You have said that so many times, Mr. Yorke."
"At any rate, I'll pay you part of it next week, if I can't the whole.
I will, upon my honour. There! now you know that I shall keep my word."
Apparently satisfied, the man departed, and Roland lounged into the
office again with the same idle movements that he had left it.
"It was that confounded Simms," grumbled he. "Jenkins, why did you say
I was in?"
"You did not tell me to say the contrary, sir. He came yesterday, but
you were out then."
"What does he want?" asked Arthur.
"Wanted me to pay him a trifle I owe; but it's not convenient to do it
till next week. What an Eden this lower world might be, if debt had
never been invented!"
"You need not get into debt," said Arthur. "It is not compulsory."
"One _might_ build a mud hut outside the town walls, and shut one's
self up in it, and eat herbs for dinner, and sleep upon rushes, and
turn hermit for good!" retorted Roland. "_You_ need not talk about
"I don't owe much," said Arthur, noting the significance of Yorke's
"If you don't, some one else does."
Arthur went on writing with a sinking heart. There was an undercurrent
of fear running within him--had been for some time--that Hamish did owe
money on his own private score. But this allusion to it was not
"How much do you owe?" went on Roland.
"Oh, a twenty-pound note would pay my debts, and leave me something out
of it," said Arthur, in a joking tone. The fact was, that he did not
owe a shilling to any one. "Jenkins, do you know what I am to set about
next?" he continued; "I have filled in this lease."
Jenkins was beginning to look amidst some papers at his elbow, in
answer to the appeal; but at that moment Mr. Galloway entered, and
despatched Arthur to get a cheque cashed at the bank.
LADY AUGUSTA YORKE AT HOME.
"If you don't put away that trash, Caroline, and go upstairs and
practise, I'll make you go! Strewing the table in that manner! Look
what a pickle the room is in!"
The words came from Lady Augusta Yorke, a tall, dark woman, with high
cheek-bones; and they were spoken at a height that might not have been
deemed orthodox at court. Miss Caroline Yorke, a young demoiselle, with
a "net" that was more frequently off her head than on it, slip-shod
shoes, and untidy stockings, had placed a quantity of mulberry leaves
on the centre table, and a silkworm on each leaf. She leisurely
proceeded with her work, bringing forth more silkworms from her paper
trays, paying not the least attention to her mother. Lady Augusta
advanced, and treated her to a slight tap on the ear, her favourite
mode of correcting her children.
"Now, mamma! What's that for?"
"Do you hear me, you disobedient child? I will have this rubbish put
away, I say. Goodness, Martha! don't bring any one in here!" broke off
Lady Augusta, as a maid appeared, showing in a visitor. "Oh, it is you,
William! I don't mind you. Come in."
It was the Reverend William Yorke who entered. He was not altogether a
favourite of Lady Augusta's. Though only distantly related to her late
husband, he yet bore the name of Yorke; and when he came to
Helstonleigh (for he was not a native of the place), and became a
candidate for a vacant minor canonry, Lady Augusta's pride had taken
fire. The minor canons were looked upon by the exclusives of the
cathedral as holding a very inferior position amidst the clergy, and
she resented that one belonging to her should descend to set up his
place amongst them.
Mr. Yorke shook hands with Lady Augusta, and then turned to look at the
leaves and silkworms. "Are you doing that for ornament, Caroline?"
"Ornament!" wrathfully cried Lady Augusta. "She is doing it to waste
time, and to provoke me."
"No, I am not, mamma," denied Miss Caroline. "My poor silkworms never
have anything but lettuce leaves. Tod brought these for me from the
bishop's garden, and I am looking at the silkworms enjoying the
"Tod is in hot water," remarked Mr. Yorke. "He was fighting with
another boy as I came through the cloisters."
"Then he'll come home with his clothes torn, as he did the last time he
fought!" exclaimed Lady Augusta, in consternation. "I think no one ever
had such a set of children as mine!" she peevishly continued. "The boys
boisterous as so many wild animals, and the girls enough to drive one
crazy, with their idle, disobedient ways. Look at this room, William!
encumbered from one end to the other! things thrown out of hand by
Caroline and Fanny! As to lessons, they never open one. For three days
I have never ceased telling Caroline to go and practise, and she has
not attempted to obey me! I shall go out of my mind with one thing or
another; I know I shall! Nice dunces they'll grow up."
"Go and practise now, Caroline," said Mr. Yorke. "I will put your
silkworms up for you."
Caroline pouted. "I hate practising."
He laid his hand gently upon her, gazing at her with his dark, pleasant
eyes, reproachful now; "But you do not hate obeying your mamma? You
must never let it come to that, Caroline."
She suffered him to lead her to the door, went docilely enough to the
drawing-room, and sat down to the piano. Oh, for a little better
training for those children! Mr. Yorke began placing the silkworms in
the trays, and Lady Augusta went on grumbling.
"It is a dreadful fate--to be left a widow with a heap of unruly
children who will not be controlled! I must find a governess for the
girls, and then I shall be free from them for a few hours in the day. I
thought I would try and save the money, and teach them myself; but I
might just as well attempt to teach so many little wild Indians! I am
not fitted for teaching; it is beyond me. Don't you think you could
hear of a governess, William? You go about so much."
"I have heard of one since I saw you yesterday," he replied. "A young
lady, whom you know, is anxious to take a situation, and I think she
might suit you."
"Whom I know?" cried Lady Augusta. "Who is it?"
Lady Augusta looked up in astonishment. "Is _she_ going out as
governess? That comes of losing this lawsuit. She has lost no time in
"When an unpalatable step has to be taken, the sooner it is set about,
the less will be the cost," remarked Mr. Yorke.
"Unpalatable! you may well say that. This will be the climax, will it
"Climax of what?"
"Of all the unpleasantness that has attended your engagement with Miss
"I beg your pardon, Lady Augusta," was the interruption of Mr. Yorke.
"No unpleasantness whatever has attended my engagement with Miss
"I think so, for I consider her beneath you; and, therefore, that it is
nothing but unpleasant from beginning to end. The Channings are very
well in their way, but they are not equal to the Yorkes. You might make
this a pretext for giving her up."
Mr. Yorke laughed. "I think her all the more worthy of me. The only
question that is apt to arise within me is, whether I am worthy of her.
As we shall never agree upon this point, Lady Augusta, it may not be
worth while to discuss it. About the other thing? I believe she would
make an admirable governess for Caroline and Fanny, if you could obtain
"Oh, I dare say she would do _that_. She is a lady, and has been well
educated. Would she want a large salary?"
"Forty guineas a year, to begin with."
Lady Augusta interrupted him with a scream. "I never could give half of
it! I am sure I never could. What with housekeeping expenses, and
milliners' bills, and visiting, and the boys everlastingly dragging
money out of me, I have scarcely anything to spare for education."
"Yet it is more essential than all the rest. Your income, properly
apportioned, would afford--"
Another scream from Lady Augusta. Her son Theodore--Tod,
familiarly--burst into the room, jacketless, his hair entangled,
blood upon his face, and his shirt-sleeves in shreds.
"You rebellious, wicked fright of a boy!" was the salutation of my
lady, when she could recover breath.
"Oh, it's nothing, mamma. Don't bother," replied Master Tod, waving her
off. "I have been going into Pierce, senior, and have polished him off
with a jolly good licking. He won't get me into a row again, I'll bet."
"What row did he get you into?"
"He's a nasty, sneaking tattler, and he took and told something to
Gaunt, and Gaunt put me up for punishment, and I had a caning from old
Pye. I vowed I'd pay Pierce out for it, and I have done it, though he
is a sight bigger than me."
"What was it about?" inquired Mr. Yorke. "The damaged surplice?"
"Damaged surplice be hanged!" politely retorted the young gentleman,
who, in gaining the victory, appeared to have lost his temper. "It was
something concerning our lessons at the third desk, if you must know."
"You might be civil, Tod," said Lady Augusta. "Look at your shirt! Who,
do you suppose, is going to mend that?"
"It can go unmended," responded Master Tod. "I wish it was the fashion
to go without clothes! They are always getting torn."
"I wish it was!" heartily responded my lady.
That same evening, in returning to her house from a visit, Constance
Channing encountered Mr. Yorke. He turned to walk with her to the door.
"I intended to call this afternoon, Constance, but was prevented from
doing so," he observed. "I have spoken to Lady Augusta."
"Well?" she answered with a smile and a blush.
"She would be very glad of _you_; but the difficulty, at first,
appeared to be about salary. However, I pointed out a few home truths,
and she admitted that if the girls were to be educated, she supposed
she must pay for it. She will give you forty guineas a year; but you
are to call upon her and settle other details. To-morrow, if it should
be convenient to you."
Constance clasped her hands. "I am so pleased!" she exclaimed, in a low
"So am I," said Mr. Yorke. "I would rather you went to Lady Augusta's
than to a stranger's. And do, Constance, try and make those poor girls
more what they ought to be."
"That I shall try, you may be sure, William. Are you not coming in?"
"No," said Mr. Yorke, who had held out his hand on reaching the door.
He was pretty constant in his evening visits to the Channings, but he
had made an engagement for this one with a brother clergyman.
Constance entered. She looked in the study for her brothers, but only
Arthur was there. He was leaning his elbow upon the table in a
"Where are they all?" inquired Constance.
"Tom and Charles have gone to the cricket match. I don't think Hamish
has come in."
"Why did you not go to cricket also?"
"I don't know," said Arthur. "I did not feel much inclination for
cricket this evening."
"You looked depressed, Arthur, but I have some good news for you,"
Constance said, bending over him with a bright smile. "It is settled
about my going out, and I am to have forty guineas a year. Guess where
it is to?"
Arthur threw his arm round Constance, and they stood together, looking
at the trailing honeysuckle just outside the window. "Tell me,
"It is to Lady Augusta's. William has been talking to her, and she
would like to have me. Does it not seem lucky to find it so soon?"
"Ah, well! you know what I think, Arthur, though I did say 'lucky,'"
returned Constance. "I know it is God who is helping us."
Very beautiful, very touching, was the simple trustfulness reposed in
God, by Constance and Arthur Channing. The good seed had been sown on
good ground, and was bringing forth its fruit.
"I was deep in a reverie when you interrupted me, Constance," Arthur
resumed. "Something seems to whisper to me that this loss, which we
regard as a great misfortune, may turn out for good in the end."
"In the end! It may have come for our good now," said Constance.
"Perhaps I wanted my pride lowered," she laughed; "and this has come to
do it, and is despatching me out, a meek governess."
"Perhaps we all wanted it," cried Arthur, meaningly. "There are other
bad habits it may stop, besides pride." He was thinking of Hamish and
his propensity for spending. "Forty guineas you are to have?"
"Yes," said Constance. "Arthur, do you know a scheme that I have in my
head? I have been thinking of it all day."
"What is it? Stay! here is some one coming in. It is Hamish."
Hamish entered with the account-books under his arm, preparatory to
going over them with his father. Constance drew him to her.
"Hamish, I have a plan in my head, if we can only carry it out. I am
going to tell it you."
"One that will set the river on fire?" cried gay, laughing Hamish.
"If we--you and I, and Arthur--can only manage to earn enough money,
and if we can observe strict economy at home, who knows but we may send
papa to the German baths yet?"
A cloud came over Hamish's face, and his smile faded. "I don't see how
_that_ is to be done."
"But you have not heard of my good luck. I am going to Lady Augusta's,
and am to have forty guineas a year. Now, if you and Arthur will help,
it may be easy. Oh, Hamish, it would be worth any effort--any struggle.
Think how it would be rewarded. Papa restored to health! to freedom
A look of positive pain seated itself on Hamish's brow. "Yes," he
sighed, "I wish it could be done."
"But you do not speak hopefully."
"Because, if I must tell you the truth, I do not feel hopefully. I fear
we could not do it: at least until things are brighter."
"If we do our very best, we might receive great help, Hamish."
"What help?" he asked.
"God's help," she whispered.
Hamish smiled. He had not yet learnt what Constance had. Besides,
Hamish was just then in a little trouble on his own account: he knew
very well that _his_ funds were wanted in another quarter.
"Constance, dear, do not look at me so wistfully. I will try with all
my might and main, to help my father; but I fear I cannot do anything
yet. I mean to draw in my expenses," he went on, laughing: "to live
like any old screw of a miser, and never squander a halfpenny where a
farthing will suffice."
He took his books and went in to Mr. Channing. Constance began training
the honeysuckle, her mind busy, and a verse of Holy Writ running
through it--"Commit thy way unto the Lord, and put thy trust in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass."
"Ay!" she murmured, glancing upwards at the blue evening sky: "our
whole, whole trust in patient reliance; and whatsoever is best for us
will be ours."
Annabel stole up to Constance, and entwined her arms caressingly round
her. Constance turned, and parted the child's hair upon her forehead
with a gentle hand.
"Am I to find a little rebel in you, Annabel? Will you not try and make
things smooth for me?"
"Oh, Constance, dear!" was the whispered answer: "it was only my fun
last night, when I said you should not take me for lessons in an
evening. I will study all day by myself, and get my lessons quite ready
for you, so as to give you no trouble in the evening. Would you like to
hear me my music now?"
Constance bent to kiss her. "No, dear child; there is no necessity for
my taking you in an evening, until my days shall be occupied at Lady
Mrs. Channing sat with her children. Breakfast was over, and she had
the Bible open before her. Never, since their earliest years of
understanding, had she failed to assemble them together for a few
minutes' reading, morning and evening. Not for too long at once; she
knew the value of _not tiring_ young children, when she was leading
them to feel an interest in sacred things. She would take Hamish, a
little fellow of three years old, upon her knee, read to him a short
Bible story, suited to his age, and then talk to him. Talk to him in a
soft, loving, gentle tone, of God, of Jesus, of heaven; of his duties
in this world; of what he must do to attain to everlasting peace in the
next. Day by day, step by step, untiringly, unceasingly, had she thus
laboured, to awaken good in the child's heart, to train it to holiness,
to fill it with love of God. As the other children came on in years,
she, in like manner, took them. From simple Bible stories to more
advanced Bible stories, and thence to the Bible itself; with other
books at times and seasons: a little reading, a little conversation,
Gospel truths impressed upon them from her earnest lips. Be you very
sure that where this great duty of all duties is left unfulfilled by a
mother, a child is not brought up as it ought to be. Win your child
towards heaven in his early years, and he will not forget it when he is
It will be as a very shield, compassing him about through life. He may
wander astray--there is no telling--in the heyday of his hot-blooded
youth, for the world's temptations are as a running fire, scorching all
that venture into its heat; but the good foundation has been laid, and
the earnest, incessant prayers have gone up, and he will find his way
Mrs. Channing closed the Bible, and spoke, as usual. It was all that
teaching should be. Good lessons as to this world; loving pictures of
that to come. She had contrived to impress them, not with the too
popular notion that heaven was a far-off place up in the skies some
vague, millions of miles away, and to which we might be millions of
years off; but that it was very near to them: that God was ever present
with them; and that Death, when he came, should be looked upon as a
friend, not an enemy. Hamish was three and twenty years old now, and he
loved those minutes of instruction as he had done when a child. They
had borne their fruit for him, and for all: though not, perhaps, in an
The reading over, and the conversation over, she gave the book to
Constance to put away, and the boys rose, and prepared to enter upon
their several occupations. It was not the beginning of the day for Tom
and Charles, for they had been already to early school.
"Is papa so very much worse to-day, mamma?" asked Tom.
"I did not say he was worse, Tom," replied Mrs. Channing. "I said he
had passed a restless night, and felt tired and weak."
"Thinking over that confounded lawsuit," cried hot, thoughtless Tom.
"Thomas!" reproved Mrs. Channing.
"I beg your pardon, mamma. Unorthodox words are the fashion in school,
and one catches them up. I forget myself when I repeat them before
"To repeat them before me is no worse than repeating them behind me,
Tom laughed. "Very true, mamma. It was not a logical excuse. But I am
sure the news, brought to us by the mail on Wednesday night, is enough
to put a saint out of temper. Had there been anything unjust in it, had
the money not been rightly ours, it would have been different; but to
be deprived of what is legally our own--"
"Not legally--as it turns out," struck in Hamish.
"Justly, then," said Tom. "It's too bad--especially as we don't know
what we shall do without it."
"Tom, you are not to look at the dark side of things," cried Constance,
in a pretty, wilful, commanding manner. "We shall do very well without
it: it remains to be proved whether we shall not do better than with
"Children, I wish to say a word to you upon this subject," said Mrs.
Channing. "When the news arrived, I was, you know, almost overwhelmed
by it; not seeing, as Tom says, what we were to do without the money.
In the full shock of the disappointment, it wore for me its worst
aspect; a far more sombre one than the case really merited. But, now
that I have had time to see it in its true light, my disappointment has
subsided. I consider that we took a completely wrong view of it. Had
the decision deprived us of the income we enjoy, then indeed it would
have been grievous; but in reality it deprives us of nothing. Not one
single privilege that we possessed before, does it take from us; not a
single outlay will it cost us. We looked to this money to do many
things with; but its not coming renders us no worse off than we were.
Expecting it has caused us to get behindhand with our bills, which we
must gradually pay off in the best way we can; it takes from us the
power to article Arthur, and it straitens us in many ways, for, as you
grow up, you grow more expensive. This is the extent of the ill,
"Oh, mamma, you forget! The worst ill of all is, that papa cannot now
go to Germany."
"I was about to say that, Arthur. But other means for his going thither
may be found. Understand me, my dears: I do not see any means, or
chance of means, at present: you must not fancy that; but it is
possible that they may arise with the time of need. One service, at any
rate, the decision has rendered me."
"Service?" echoed Tom.
"Yes," smiled Mrs. Channing. "It has proved to me that my children are
loving and dutiful. Instead of repining, as some might, they are
already seeking how they may make up, themselves, for the money that
has not come. And Constance begins it."
"Don't fear us, mother," cried Hamish, with his sunny smile. "We will
be of more use to you yet than the money would have been."
They dispersed--Hamish to his office, Arthur to Mr. Galloway's, Tom and
Charles to the cloisters, that famous playground of the college school.
Stolen pleasures, it is said, are sweetest; and, just because there had
been a stir lately amongst the cathedral clergy, touching the
desirability of forbidding the cloisters to the boys for play, so much
the more eager were they to frequent them.
As Arthur was going down Close Street, he encountered Mr. Williams, the
cathedral organist, striding along with a roll of music in his hand. He
was Arthur's music-master. When Arthur Channing was in the choir, a
college schoolboy, he had displayed considerable taste for music; and
it was decided that he should learn the organ. He had continued to take
lessons after he left the choir, and did so still.
"I was thinking of coming round to speak to you to-day, Mr. Williams."
"What about?" asked the organist. "Anything pressing?"
"Well, you have heard, of course, that that suit is given against us,
so I don't mean to continue the organ. They have said nothing to me at
home; but it is of no use spending money that might be saved. But I see
you are in too great a hurry, to stay to talk now."
"Hurry! I am hurried off my legs," cried the organist. "If a dozen or
two of my pupils would give up learning, as you talk of doing, I should
only be obliged to them. I have more work than I can attend to. And now
Jupp must go and lay himself up, and I have the services to attend
myself, morning and afternoon!"
Mr. Jupp was assistant-organist. An apprentice to Mr. Williams, but
just out of his time.
"What's the matter with Jupp?" asked Arthur.
"A little bit of fever, and a great deal of laziness," responded Mr.
Williams. "He is the laziest fellow alive. Since his uncle died, and
that money came to him, he doesn't care a straw how things go. He was
copyist to the cathedral, and he gave that up last week. I have asked
Sandon, the lay-clerk, if he will take the copying, but he declines. He
is another lazy one."
The organist hurried off. Arthur strove to detain him for another word
or two, but it was of no use. So he continued his way to Mr.
Busy enough were his thoughts there. His fingers were occupied with
writing, but his mind went roaming without leave. This post of copyist
of music to the cathedral, which appeared to be going begging; why
should not he undertake it, if Mr. Williams would give it to him? He was
quite able to do so, and though he very much disliked music-copying,
that was nothing: he was not going to set up dislikes, and humour them.
He had only a vague idea what might be the remuneration; ten, or
twelve, or fifteen pounds a year, he fancied it might bring in. Better
that, than nothing; it would be a beginning to follow in the wake that
Constance had commenced; and he could do it of an evening, or at other
odd times. "I won't lose an hour in asking for it," thought Arthur.
At one o'clock, when he was released from the office, he ran through
the Boundaries to the cloisters, intending to pass through them on his
way to the house of the organist, that being rather a nearer road to
it, than if he had gone round the town. The sound of the organ,
however, struck upon his ear, causing him to assume that it was the
organist who was playing. Arthur tried the cathedral door, found it
open, and went it.
It was Mr. Williams. He had been trying some new music, and rose from
the organ as Arthur reached the top of the stairs, no very pleasant
expression on his countenance.
"What is the matter?" asked Arthur, perceiving that something had put
"I hate ingratitude," responded Mr. Williams. "Jenkins," he called out
to the old bedesman, who had been blowing for him, "you may go to your
dinner; I shan't want you any more now."
Old Jenkins hobbled down from the organ-loft, and Mr. Williams
continued to Arthur:
"Would you believe that Jupp has withdrawn himself utterly?"
"From the college?" exclaimed Arthur.
"From the college, and from me. His father comes to me, an hour ago,
and says he is sure Jupp's in a bad state of health, and he intends to
send him to his relatives in the Scotch mountains for some months, to
try and brace him up. Not a word of apology, for leaving me at a
"It will be very inconvenient for you," said Arthur. "I suppose that
new apprentice of yours is of no use yet for the services?"
"Use!" irascibly retorted Mr. Williams, "he could not play a psalm if
it were to save his life. I depended upon Jupp. It was an understood
thing that he should remain with me as assistant; had it not been, I
should have taken good care to bring somebody on to replace him. As to
attending the services on week-days myself, it is next door to an
impossibility. If I do, my teaching will be ruined."
"I wish I was at liberty," said Arthur; "I would take them for you."
"Look here, Channing," said the organist. "Since I had this information
of old Jupp's, my brain has been worrying itself pretty well, as you
may imagine. Now, there's no one I would rather trust to take the
week-day services than you, for you are fully capable, and I have
trained you into my own style of playing: I never could get Jupp
entirely into it; he is too fond of noise and flourishes. It has struck
me that perhaps Mr. Galloway might spare you: his office is not
overdone with work, and I would make it worth your while."
Arthur, somewhat bewildered at the proposal, sat down on one of the
stools, and stared.
"You will not be offended at my saying this. I speak in consequence of
your telling me, this morning, you could not afford to go on with your
lessons," continued the organist. "But for that, I should not have
thought of proposing such a thing to you. What capital practice it
would be for you, too!"
"The best proof to convince you I am not offended, is to tell you what
brings me here now," said Arthur in a cordial tone. "I understood, this
morning, that you were at a loss for some one to undertake the copying
of the cathedral music: I have come to ask you to give it to me."
"You may have it, and welcome," said Mr. Williams. "That's nothing; I
want to know about the services."
"It would take me an hour, morning and afternoon, from the office,"
debated Arthur. "I wonder whether Mr. Galloway would let me go an hour
earlier and stay an hour later to make up for it?"
"You can put the question to him. I dare say he will: especially as he
is on terms of friendship with your father. I would give you--let me
see," deliberated the organist, falling into a musing attitude--"twelve
pounds a quarter. Say fifty pounds a year; if you stay with me so long.
And you should have nothing to do with the choristers: I'd practise
Arthur's face flushed. It was a great temptation: and the question
flashed into his mind whether it would not be well to leave Mr.
Galloway's, as his prospects there appeared to be blighted, and embrace
this, if that gentleman declined to allow him the necessary hours of
absence. Fifty pounds a year! "And," he spoke unconsciously aloud,
"there would be the copying besides."
"Oh, that's not much," cried the organist. "That's paid by the sheet."
"I should like it excessively!" exclaimed Arthur.
"Well, just turn it over in your mind. But you must let me know at
once, Channing; by to-morrow at the latest. If you cannot take it, I
must find some one else."
Arthur Channing went out of the cathedral, hardly knowing whether he
stood on his head or his heels. "Constance said that God would help
us!" was his grateful thought.
Such a whirlwind of noise! Arthur, when he reached the cloisters, found
himself in the midst of the college boys, who were just let out of
school. Leaping, shouting, pushing, scuffling, playing, contending!
Arthur had not so very long ago been a college boy himself, and enjoyed
"How are you, old fellows--jolly?"
They gathered around him. Arthur was a favourite with them; had been
always, when he was in the school. The elder boys loftily commanded off
the juniors, who had to retire to a respectful distance.
"I say, Channing, there's the stunningest go!" began Bywater, dancing a
triumphant hornpipe. "You know Jupp? Well, he has been and sent in word
to Williams that he is going to die, or something of that sort, and
it's necessary he should be off on the spree, to get himself well
again. Old Jupp came this morning, just as college was over, and said
it: and Williams is in the jolliest rage; going to be left without any
one to take the organ. It will just pay him out, for being such a
tyrant to us choristers."
"Perhaps I am going to take it," returned Arthur.
"You?--what a cram!"
"It is not, indeed," said Arthur. "I shall take it if I can get leave
from Mr. Galloway. Williams has just asked me."
"Is that true, Arthur?" burst forth Tom Channing, elbowing his way to
"Now, Tom, should I say it if it were not true? I only hope Mr.
Galloway will throw no difficulty in my way."
"And do you mean to say that you are going to be cock over us
choristers?" asked Bywater.
"No, thank you," laughed Arthur. "Mr. Williams will best fill that
honour. Bywater, has the mystery of the inked surplice come to light?"
"No, and be shot to it! The master's in a regular way over it, though,
"And what do you think?" eagerly interrupted Tod Yorke, whose face was
ornamented with several shades of colour, blue, green, and yellow, the
result of the previous day's pugilistic encounter: "my brother Roland
heard the master say he suspected one of the seniors."
Arthur Channing looked inquiringly at Gaunt. The latter tossed his head
haughtily. "Roland Yorke must have made some mistake," he observed to
Arthur. "It is perfectly out of the question that the master can
suspect a senior. I can't imagine where the school could have picked up
Gaunt was standing with Arthur, as he spoke, and the three seniors,
Channing, Huntley, and Yorke, happened to be in a line facing them.
Arthur regarded them one by one. "You don't look very like committing
such a thing as that, any one of you," he laughed. "It is curious where
the notion can have come from."
"Such absurdity!" ejaculated Gerald Yorke. "As if it were likely Pye
would suspect one of us seniors! It's not credible."
"Not at all credible that you would do it," said Arthur. "Had it been
the result of accident, of course you would have hastened to declare
it, any one of you three."
As Arthur spoke, he involuntarily turned his eyes on the sea of faces
behind the three seniors, as if searching for signs in some countenance
among them, by which he might recognize the culprit.
"My goodness!" uttered the senior boy, to Arthur. "Had any one of those
three done such a thing--accident or no accident--and not declared it,
he'd get his name struck off the rolls. A junior may be pardoned for
things that a senior cannot."
"Besides, there'd be the losing his chance of the seniorship, and of
the exhibition," cried one from the throng of boys in the rear.
"How are you progressing for the seniorship?" asked Arthur, of the
three. "Which of you stands the best chance?"
"I think Channing does," freely spoke up Harry Huntley.
"Because our progress is so equal that I don't think one will get ahead
of another, so that the choice cannot be made that way; and Channing's
name stands first on the rolls."
"Who is to know if they'll give us fair play and no humbug?' said Tom
"If they do, it will be what they have never given yet!" exclaimed
Stephen Bywater. "Kissing goes by favour."
"Ah, but I heard that the dean--"
At this moment a boy dashed into the throng, scattering it right and
left. "Where are your eyes?" he whispered.
Close upon them was the dean. Arm in arm with him, in his hat and
apron, walked the Bishop of Helstonleigh. The boys stood aside and took
off their trenchers. The dean merely raised his hand in response to the
salutation--he appeared to be deep in thought; but the bishop nodded
freely among them.
"I heard that the dean found fault, the last time the exhibition fell,
and said favour should never be shown again, so long as he was Dean of
Helstonleigh," said Harry Huntley, when the clergy were beyond hearing,
continuing the sentence he had been interrupted in. "I say that, with
fair play, it will be Channing's; failing Channing, it will be mine;
failing me, it will be Yorke's."
"Now, then!" retorted Gerald Yorke. "Why should you have the chance
before me, pray?"
Huntley laughed. "Only that my name heads yours on the rolls."
Once in three years there fell an exhibition for Helstonleigh College
school, to send a boy to Oxford. It would be due the following Easter.
Gaunt declined to compete for it; he would leave the school at
Michaelmas; and it was a pretty generally understood thing that
whichever of the three mentioned boys should be appointed senior in his
place, would be presented with the exhibition. Channing and Yorke most
ardently desired to gain it; both of them from the same motive--want of
funds at home to take them to the university. If Tom Channing did not
gain it, he was making up his mind to pocket pride, and go as a
servitor. Yorke would not have done such a thing for the world; all the
proud Yorke blood would be up in arms, at one of their name appearing
as a servitor at Oxford. No. If Gerald Yorke should lose the
exhibition, Lady Augusta must manage to screw out funds to send him. He
and Tom Channing were alike designed for the Church. Harry Huntley had
no such need: the son of a gentleman of good property, the exhibition
was of little moment to him, in a pecuniary point of view; indeed, a
doubt had been whispered amongst the boys, whether Mr. Huntley would
allow Harry to take advantage of it, if he did gain it, for he was a
liberal-minded and just man. Harry, of course, desired to be the
successful one, for fame's sake, just as ardently as did Channing and
"I'm blessed if here isn't that renowned functionary, Jack Ketch!"
The exclamation came from young Galloway. Limping in at one of the
cloister doors, came the cloister porter, a surly man of sixty, whose
temper was not improved by periodical attacks of lumbago. He and the
college boys were open enemies. The porter would have rejoiced in
denying them the cloisters altogether; and nothing had gladdened his
grim old heart like the discussion which was said to have taken place
between the dean and chapter, concerning the propriety of shutting out
the boys and their noise from the cloisters, as a playground. He bore
an unfortunate name--Ketch--and the boys, you may be very sure, did not
fail to take advantage of it, joining to it sundry embellishments, more
pointed than polite.
He came up, a ragged gig-whip in his hand, which he was fond of
smacking round the throng of boys. He had never yet ventured to touch
one of them, and perhaps it was just as well for him that he had not.
"Now, you boys! be off, with your hullabaloo! Is this a decent noise to
make around gentlefolks' doors? You don't know, may be, as Dr. Burrows
is in town."
Dr. Burrows happened to live in a house which had a door opening to the
cloisters. The boys retorted. The worst they gave Mr. Ketch was
"chaff;" but his temper could bear anything better than that,
especially if it was administered by the senior boy.
"Dear me, who's this?" began Gaunt, in a tone of ultra politeness.
"Boys, do you see this gentleman who condescends to accost us? I really
believe it is Sir John Ketch. What's that in his hand?--a piece of
rope? Surely, Mr. Ketch, you have not been turning off that unfortunate
prisoner who was condemned yesterday? Rather hasty work, sir; was it
Mr. Ketch foamed. "I tell you what it is, sir. You be the senior boy,
and, instead of restraining these wicked young reptiles, you edges 'em
on! Take care, young gent, as I don't complain of you to the dean.
Seniors have been hoisted afore now."
"Have they, really? Well, you ought to know, Mr. Calcraft. There's the
dean, just gone out of the cloisters; if you make haste, Calcraft,
you'll catch him up. Put your best foot foremost, and ask him if he
won't report Mr. Gaunt for punishment."
The porter could have danced with rage; and his whip was smacking
ominously. He did not dare advance it too near the circle when the
senior boy was present, or indeed, when any of the elder boys were.
"How's your lumbago, Mr. Ketch?" demanded Stephen Bywater. "I'd advise
you to get rid of that, before the next time you go on duty; it might
be in your way, you know. Never was such a thing heard of, as for the
chief toppler-off of the three kingdoms to be disabled in his limbs!
What _would_ you do? I'm afraid you'd be obliged to resign your post,
and sink into private life."
"Now I just vow to goodness, as I'll do all I can to get these
cloisters took from you boys," shrieked old Ketch, clasping his hands
together. "There's insults as flesh and blood can't stand; and, as sure
as I'm living, I'll pay you out for it."
He turned tail and hobbled off, as he spoke, and the boys raised "three
groans for Jack Ketch," and then rushed away by the other entrance to
their own dinners. The fact was, the porter had brought ill will upon
himself, through his cross-grained temper. He had no right whatever to
interfere between the boys and the cloisters; it was not his place to
do so. The king's scholars knew this; and, being spirited king's
scholars, as they were, would not stand it.
"Tom," said Arthur Channing, "don't say anything at home about the
organ. Wait and see if I get it, first. Charley did not hear; he was
ordered off with the juniors."
Things often seem to go by the rule of contrary. Arthur returned to the
office at two o'clock, brimful of the favour he was going to solicit of
Mr. Galloway; but he encountered present disappointment. For the first
time for many weeks, Mr. Galloway did not make his appearance in the
office at all; he was out the whole of the afternoon. Roland Yorke, to
whom Arthur confided the plan, ridiculed it.
"Catch me taking such a task upon myself! If I could play the organ
like a Mendelssohn, and send the folks into ecstasies, I'd never saddle
myself with the worry of doing it morning and afternoon. You'll soon be
sick of the bargain, Channing."
"I should never be sick of it, if I did it for nothing: I am too fond
of music for that. And it will be a very easy way of earning money."
"Not so easy as making your mother stump up," was the reply. And if
your refinement turns from the expression, my good reader, I am sorry
you should have to read it; but it is what Mr. Roland Yorke _said_. "I
had a regular scene with Lady Augusta this morning. It's the most
unreasonable thing in the world, you know, Channing, for her to think I
can live without money, and so I told her--said I must and would have
it, in fact."
"Did you get it?"
"Of course I did. I wanted to pay Simms, and one or two more trifles
that were pressing; I was not going to have the fellow here after me
again. I wish such a thing as money had never been invented!"
"You may as well wish we could live without eating."
"So I do, sometimes--when I go home, expecting a good dinner, and
there's only some horrid cold stuff upon the table. There never was a
worse housekeeper than Lady Augusta. It's my belief, our servants must
live like fighting cocks; for I am sure the bills are heavy enough, and
_we_ don't get the benefit of them."
"What made you so late this afternoon?" asked Arthur.
"I went round to pay Simms, for one thing; and then I called in upon
Hamish, and stayed talking with him. Wasn't he in a sea of envy when I
told him I had been scoring off that Simms! He wished he could do the
"Hamish does not owe anything to Simms!" cried Arthur, with hasty
"Doesn't he?" laughed Roland Yorke. "That's all you know about it. Ask
"If you please, sir," interposed Mr. Jenkins, at this juncture, "I
shall soon be waiting for that paper. Mr. Galloway directed me to send
it off by post."
"Bother the paper!" returned Roland; but, nevertheless, he applied
himself to complete it. He was in the habit of discoursing upon private
topics before Jenkins without any reserve, regarding him as a perfect
When Arthur went home in the evening, he found Mr. Galloway sitting
with his father. "Well," cried the proctor, as Arthur entered, "and who
has been at the office this afternoon?"
"No one in particular, sir. Oh yes, there was, though--I forgot. The
dean looked in, and wanted to see you."
"What did he want?"
"He did not say, sir. He told Jenkins it would do another time." Arthur
left his father and Mr. Galloway together. He did not broach the
subject that was uppermost in his heart. Gifted with rare delicacy of
feeling, he would not speak to Mr. Galloway until he could see him
alone. To prefer the request in his father's presence might have caused
Mr. Galloway more trouble in refusing it.
"I can't think what has happened to Arthur this evening!" exclaimed one
of them. "His spirits are up to fever heat. Tell us what it is,
Arthur laughed. "I hope they will not be lowered to freezing point
within the next hour; that's all."
When he heard Mr. Galloway leaving, he hastened after him, and overtook
him in the Boundaries.
"I wanted to say a few words to you, sir, if you please?"
"Say on," said Mr. Galloway. "Why did you not say them indoors?"
"I scarcely know how I shall say them now, sir; for it is a very great
favour that I have to ask you, and you may be angry, perhaps, at my
thinking you might grant it."
"You want a holiday, I suppose?"
"Oh no, sir; nothing of that sort. I want--"
"Well?" cried Mr. Galloway, surprised at his hesitation; but now that
the moment of preferring the request had come, Arthur shrank from doing
"Could you allow me, sir--would it make very much difference--to allow
me--to come to the office an hour earlier, and remain in it an hour
later?" stammered Arthur.
"What for?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, with marked surprise.
"I have had an offer made me, sir, to take the cathedral organ at
week-day service. I should very much like to accept it, if it could be
"Why, where's Jupp?" uttered Mr. Galloway.
"Jupp has resigned. He is ill, and is going out for his health. I'll
tell you how it all happened," went on Arthur, losing diffidence now
that he was fairly launched upon his subject. "Of course, this failure
of the suit makes a great difference to our prospects at home; it
renders it incumbent upon us to do what we can to help--"
"Why does it?" interrupted Mr. Galloway. "It may make a difference to
your future ease, but it makes none to your present means."
"There is money wanted in many ways, sir; a favourable termination to
the suit was counted upon so certainly. For one thing, it is necessary
that my father should try the German baths."
"Of course, he must try them," cried Mr. Galloway.
"But it will cost money, sir," deprecated Arthur. "Altogether, we have
determined to do what we can. Constance has set us the example, by
engaging herself as daily governess at Lady Augusta's. She goes on
"Very commendable of her," observed the proctor, who loved a gossip
like any old woman. "I hope she'll not let those two unruly girls worry
her to death."
"And I was casting about in my mind, this morning, what I could do to
help, when I met the organist," proceeded Arthur. "He chanced to say
that he could find no one to take the music copying. Well, sir, I
thought it over, and at one o'clock I went to ask him to give it to me.
I found him at the organ, in a state of vexation. Jupp had resigned his
post, and Mr. Williams had no one to replace him. The long and the
short of it is, sir, that he offered it to me."
"And did you accept it?" crossly responded Mr. Galloway.
"Of course I could not do that, sir, until I had spoken to you. If it
were possible that I could make up the two hours to you, I should be
very glad to take it."
"And do it for nothing, I suppose?"
"Oh no. He would give me fifty pounds a year. And there would be the
"That's a great deal!" cried Mr. Galloway. "It appears to me to be
good pay," replied Arthur. "But he would lose a great deal more than
that, if he had to attend the cathedral himself. He said it would ruin
"Ah! self-interest--two for himself and one for you!" ejaculated the
proctor. "What does Mr. Channing say?"
"I have said nothing at home. It was of no use telling them, until I
had spoken to you. Now that my prospects are gone--"
"What prospects?" interrupted Mr. Galloway.
"My articles to you, sir. Of course there's no chance of that now."
Mr. Galloway grunted. "The ruin that Chancery suits work! Mark you,
Arthur Channing, this is such a thing as was never asked a proctor
before--leave of absence for two hours in the best part of the day! If
I grant it, it will be out of the great friendship I bear your father."
"Oh, sir! I shall never forget the obligation."
"Take care you don't. You must come and work for two hours before
breakfast in a morning."
"Willingly--readily!" exclaimed Arthur Channing, his face glowing.
"Then may I really tell Mr. Williams that I can accept it?"
"If I don't say yes, I suppose you'd magnify me into a sullen old bear,
as bad as Ketch, the porter. You may accept it. Stop!" thundered Mr.
Galloway, coming to a dead standstill.
Arthur was startled. "What now, sir?"
"Are you to be instructor to those random animals, the choristers?"
"Oh no: I shall have nothing to do with that."
"Very good. If you _had_ taken to them, I should have recommended you
to guard against such a specimen of singing as was displayed the other
day before the judges."
Arthur laughed; spoke a word of heartfelt thanks; and took his way
off-hand to the residence of the organist as light as any bird.
"I have obtained leave, Mr. Williams; I may take your offer!" he
exclaimed with scant ceremony, when he found himself in that
gentleman's presence, who was at tea with his wife. "Mr. Galloway has
authorized me to accept it. How do you do, Mrs. Williams?"
"That's a great weight off my mind, then!" cried the organist. "I set
that dolt of an apprentice of mine to play the folks out of college,
this afternoon, when service was over, and--of all performances! Six
mistakes he made in three bars, and broke down at last. I could have
boxed his ears. The dean was standing below when I went down. 'Who was
that playing, Mr. Williams?' he demanded. So, I told him about Jupp's
ill-behaviour in leaving me, and that I had offered the place to you.
'But is Channing quite competent?' cried he--for you know what a fine
ear for music the dean has:--'besides,' he added, 'is he not at
Galloway's?' I said we hoped Mr. Galloway would spare you, and that I
would answer for your competency. So, mind, Channing, you must put on
the steam, and not disgrace my guarantee. I don't mean the steam of
_noise_, or that you should go through the service with all the stops
Arthur laughed; and, declining the invitation to remain and take tea,
he went out. He was anxious to declare the news at home. A few steps on
his road, he overtook Hamish.
"Where do you spring from?" exclaimed Hamish, passing his arm within
"From concluding an agreement that will bring me in fifty pounds a
year," said Arthur.
"Gammon, Master Arthur!"
"It is _not_ gammon, Hamish. It is sober truth."
Hamish turned and looked at him, aroused by something in the tone. "And
what are you to do for it?"
"Just pass a couple of hours a day, delighting my own ears and heart.
Do you remember what Constance said, last night? Hamish, it is
_wonderful_, that this help should so soon have come to me!"
"Stay! Where are you going?" interrupted Hamish, as Arthur was turning
into a side-street.
"This is the nearest way home."
"I had rather not go that way."
"Why?" exclaimed Arthur, in surprise. "Hamish, how funny you look! What
is the matter?"
"Must I tell you? It is for your ear alone, mind. There's a certain
tradesman's house down there that I'd rather not pass; he has a habit
of coming out and dunning me. Do you remember Mr. Dick Swiveller?"
Hamish laughed gaily. He would have laughed on his road to prison: it
was in his nature. But Arthur seemed to take a leap from his high
ropes. "Is it Simms?" he breathed.
"No, it is not Simms. Who has been telling you anything about Simms,
Arthur? It is not so very much that I owe Simms. What is this good luck
Arthur did not immediately reply. A dark shadow had fallen upon his
spirit, as a forerunner of evil.
Old Judith sat in her kitchen. Her hands were clasped upon her knees,
and her head was bent in thought. Rare indeed was it to catch Judith
indulging in a moment's idleness. She appeared to be holding soliloquy
"It's the most incomprehensible thing in the world! I have heard of
ghosts--and, talking about ghosts, that child was in a tremor, last
night, again--I'm sure he was. Brave little heart! he goes up to bed in
the dark on purpose to break himself of the fear. I went in for them
shirts missis told me of, and he started like anything, and his face
turned white. He hadn't heard me till I was in the room; I'd no candle,
and 'twas enough to startle him. 'Oh, is it you, Judith?' said he,
quietly, making believe to be as indifferent as may be. I struck a
light, for I couldn't find the shirts, and then I saw his white face.
He can't overget the fear: 'twas implanted in him in babyhood: and I
only wish I could get that wicked girl punished as I'd punish her, for
it was her work. But about the t'other? I have heard of ghosts
walking--though, thank goodness, I'm not frightened at 'em, like the
child is!--but for a young man to go upstairs, night after night,
pretending to go to rest, and sitting up till morning light, is what I
never did hear on. If it was once in a way, 'twould be a different
thing; but it's always. I'm sure it's pretty nigh a year since--"
"Why, Judith, you are in a brown study!"
The interruption came from Constance, who had entered the kitchen to
give an order. Judith looked up.
"I'm in a peck of trouble, Miss Constance. And the worst is, I don't
know whether to tell about it, or to keep it in. He'd not like it to
get to the missis's ears, I know: but then, you see, perhaps I ought to
tell her--for his sake."
Constance smiled. "Would you like to tell me, instead of mamma? Charley
has been at some mischief again, among the saucepans? Burnt out more
"Not he, the darling!" resentfully rejoined Judith. "The burning out of
that one was enough for him. I'm sure he took contrition to himself, as
if it had been made of gold."
"What is it, then?"
"Well," said Judith, looking round, as if fearing the walls would hear,
and speaking mysteriously, "it's about Mr. Hamish. I don't know but I
_will_ tell you, Miss Constance, and it'll be, so far, a weight off my
mind. I was just saying to myself that I had heard of ghosts walking,
but what Mr. Hamish does every blessed night, I never did hear of, in
all my born days."
Constance felt a little startled. "What does he do?" she hastily asked.
"You know, Miss Constance, my bedroom's overhead, above the kitchen
here, and, being built out on the side, I can see the windows at the
back of the house from it--as we can see 'em from this kitchen window,
for the matter of that, if we put our heads out. About a twelvemonth
ago--I'm sure its not far short of it--I took to notice that the light
in Mr. Hamish's chamber wasn't put out so soon as it was in the other
rooms. So, one night, when I was half-crazy with that face-ache--you
remember my having it, Miss Constance?--and knew I shouldn't get to
sleep, if I lay down, I thought I'd just see how long he kept it in.
Would you believe, Miss Constance, that at three o'clock in the morning
his light was still burning?"
"Well," said Constance, feeling the tale was not half told.
"I thought, what on earth could he be after? I might have feared that
he had got into bed and left it alight by mistake, but that I saw his
shadow once or twice pass the blind. Well, I didn't say a word to him
next day, I thought he might not like it: but my mind wouldn't be easy,
and I looked out again, and I found that, night after night, that light
was in. Miss Constance, I thought I'd trick him: so I took care to put
just about an inch of candle in his bed candlestick, and no more: but,
law bless me! when folks is bent on forbidden things, it is not
candle-ends that will stop 'em!"
"I suppose you mean that the light burnt still, in spite of your inch
of candle?" said Constance.
"It just did," returned Judith. "He gets into my kitchen and robs my
candle-box, I thought to myself. So I counted my candles and marked
'em; and I found I was wrong, for they wasn't touched. But one day,
when I was putting his cupboard to rights, I came upon a paper right at
the back. Two great big composite candles it had in it, and another
half burnt away. Oh, this is where you keep your store, my young
master, is it? I thought. They were them big round things, which seems
never to burn to an end, three to the pound."
Constance made no reply. Judith gathered breath, and continued:
"I took upon myself to speak to him. I told him it wasn't well for
anybody's health, to sit up at night, in that fashion; not counting the
danger he ran of setting the house on fire and burning us all to
cinders in our beds. He laughed--you know his way, Miss Constance--and
said he'd take care of his health and of the house, and I was just to
make myself easy and hold my tongue, and that _I_ need not be uneasy
about fire, for I could open my window and drop into the rain-water
barrel, and there I should be safe. But, in spite of his joking tone,
there ran through it a sound of command; and, from that hour to this, I
have never opened my lips about it to anybody living."
"And he burns the light still?"
"Except Saturday and Sunday nights, it's always alight, longer or
shorter. Them two nights, he gets into bed respectable, as the rest of
the house do. You have noticed, Miss Constance, that, the evenings he
is not out, he'll go up to his chamber by half-past nine or ten?"
"Frequently," assented Constance. "As soon as the reading is over, he
will wish us good night."
"Well, them nights, when he goes up early, he puts his light out
sooner--by twelve, or by half-past, or by one; but when he spends his
evenings out, not getting home until eleven, he'll have it burning till
two or three in the morning."
"What can he sit up for?" involuntarily exclaimed Constance.
"I don't know, unless it is that the work at the office is too heavy
for him," said Judith. "He has his own work to do there, and master's
"It is not at all heavy," said Constance. "There is an additional clerk
since papa's illness, you know. It cannot be that."
"It has to do with the office-books, for certain," returned Judith.
"Why else is he so particular in taking 'em into his room every night?"
"He takes--them--for safety," spoke Constance, in a very hesitating
manner, as if not feeling perfectly assured of the grounds for her
"Maybe," sniffed Judith, in disbelief. "It can't be that he sits up to
read," she resumed. "Nobody in their senses would do that. Reading may
be pleasant to some folks, especially them story-books; but sleep is
pleasanter. This last two or three blessed nights, since that ill news
come to make us miserable, I question if he has gone to bed at all, for
his candle has only been put out when daylight came to shame it."
"But, Judith, how do you know all this?" exclaimed Constance, after a
few minutes' reflection. "You surely don't sit up to watch the light?"
"Pretty fit I should be for my work in the morning, if I did! No, Miss
Constance. I moved my bed round to the other corner, so as I could see
his window as I lay in it; and I have got myself into a habit of waking
up at all hours and looking. Truth to say, I'm not easy: fire is sooner
set alight than put out: and if there's the water-butt for me to drop
into, there ain't water-butts for the rest of the house."
"Very true," murmured Constance, speaking as if she were in reflection.
"Nobody knows the worry this has been upon my mind," resumed Judith.
"Every night when I have seen his window alight, I have said to myself,
'I'll tell my mistress of this when morning comes;' but, when the
morning has come, my resolution has failed me. It might worry her, and
anger Mr. Hamish, and do no good after all. If he really has not time
for his books in the day, why he must do 'em at night, I suppose; it
would never do for him to fall off, and let the master's means drop
through. What ought to be done, Miss Constance?"
"I really do not know, Judith," replied Constance. "You must let me
think about it."
She fell into an unpleasant reverie. The most feasible solution she
could come to, was the one adopted by Judith--that Hamish passed his
nights at the books. If so, how sadly he must idle away his time in the
day! Did he give his hours up to nonsense and pleasure? And how could
he contrive to hide his shortcomings from Mr. Channing? Constance was
not sure whether the books went regularly under the actual inspection
of Mr. Channing, or whether Hamish went over them aloud. If only the
latter, could the faults be concealed? She knew nothing of
book-keeping, and was unable to say. Leaving her to puzzle over the
matter, we will return to Hamish himself.
We left him in the last chapter, you may remember, objecting to go down
a certain side-street which would have cut off a short distance of
their road; his excuse to Arthur being, that a troublesome creditor of
his lived in it. The plea was a true one. Not to make a mystery of it,
it may as well be acknowledged that Hamish had contracted some debts,
and that he found it difficult to pay them. They were not many, and a
moderate sum would have settled them; but that moderate sum Hamish did
not possess. Let us give him his due. But that he had fully counted
upon a time of wealth being close at hand, it is probable that he never
would have contracted them. When Hamish erred, it was invariably from
thoughtlessness--from carelessness--never from deliberate intention.
Arthur, of course, turned from the objectionable street, and continued
his straightforward course. They were frequently hindered; the streets
were always crowded at assize time, and acquaintances continually
stopped them. Amongst others, they met Roland Yorke.
"Are you coming round to Cator's, to-night?" he asked of Hamish.
"Not I," returned Hamish, with his usual gay laugh. "I am going to draw
in my expenses, and settle down into a miser."
"Moonshine!" cried Roland.
"Is it moonshine, though? It is just a little bit of serious fact,
Yorke. When lord chancellors turn against us and dash our hopes, we
can't go on as though the exchequer had no bottom to it."
"It will cost you nothing to come to Cator's. He is expecting one or
two fellows, and has laid in a prime lot of Manillas."
"Evening visiting costs a great deal, one way or another," returned
Hamish, "and I intend to drop most of mine for the present. You needn't
stare so, Yorke."
"I am staring at you. Drop evening visiting! Any one, dropping that,
may expect to be in a lunatic asylum in six months."
"What a prospect for me!" laughed Hamish.
"_Will_ you come to Cator's?"
"No, thank you."
"Then you are a muff!" retorted Roland, as he went on.
It was dusk when they reached the cathedral.
"I wonder whether the cloisters are still open!" Arthur exclaimed.
"It will not take a minute to ascertain," said Hamish. "If not, we must
They found the cloisters still unclosed, and passed in. Gloomy and
sombre were they at that evening hour. So sombre that, in proceeding
along the west quadrangle, the two young men positively started, when
some dark figure glided from within a niche, and stood in their way.
"Whose ghost are you?" cried Hamish.
A short covert whistle of surprise answered him. "You here!" cried the
figure, in a tone of excessive disappointment. "What brings you in the
cloisters so late?"
Hamish dextrously wound him towards what little light was cast from the
graveyard, and discerned the features of Hurst. Half a dozen more
figures brought themselves out of the niches--Stephen Bywater, young
Galloway, Tod Yorke, Harrison, Hall, and Berkeley.
"Let me alone, Mr. Hamish Channing. Hush! Don't make a row."
"What mischief is going on, Hurst?" asked Hamish.
"Well, whatever it may have been, it strikes me you have stopped it,"
was Hurst's reply. "I say, wasn't there the Boundaries for you to go
through, without coming bothering into the cloisters?"
"I am sorry to have spoiled sport," laughed Hamish. "I should not have
liked it done to me when I was a college boy. Let us know what the
"You won't tell!"
"No; if it is nothing very bad. Honour bright."
"Stop a bit, Hurst," hastily interposed Bywater. "There's no knowing
what he may think 'very bad.' Give generals, not particulars. Here the
fellow comes, I do believe!"
"It was only a trick we were going to play old Ketch," whispered Hurst.
"Come out quickly; better that he should not hear us, or it may spoil
sport for another time. Gently, boys!"
Hurst and the rest stole round the cloisters, and out at the south
door. Hamish and Arthur followed, more leisurely, and less silently.
Ketch came up.
"Who's this here, a-haunting the cloisters at this time o' night? Who
be you, I ask?"
"The cloisters are free until they are closed, Ketch," cried Hamish.
"Nobody haven't no right to pass through 'em at this hour, except the
clergy theirselves," grumbled the porter. "We shall have them boys
a-playing in 'em at dark, next."
"You should close them earlier, if you want to keep them empty,"
returned Hamish. "Why don't you close them at three in the afternoon?"
The porter growled. He knew that he did not dare to close them before
dusk, almost dark, and he knew that Hamish knew it too; and therefore
he looked upon the remark as a quiet bit of sarcasm. "I wish the dean
'ud give me leave to shut them boys out of 'em," he exclaimed. "It 'ud
be a jovial day for me!"
Hamish and Arthur passed out, wishing him good night. He did not reply
to it, but banged the gate on their heels, locked it, and turned to
retrace his steps through the cloisters. The college boys, who had
hidden themselves from his view, came forward again.
"He has got off scot-free to-night, but perhaps he won't do so
to-morrow," cried Bywater.
"Were you going to set upon him?" asked Arthur.
"We were not going to put a finger upon him; I give you my word, we
were not," said Hurst.
"What, then, were you going to do?"
But the boys would not be caught. "It might stop fun, you know, Mr.
Hamish. You might get telling your brother Tom; and Tom might let it
out to Gaunt; and Gaunt might turn crusty and forbid it. We were going
to serve the fellow out; but not to touch him or to hurt him; and
"As you please," said Hamish. "He is a surly old fellow."
"He is an old brute! he's a dog in a kennel! he deserves hanging!"
burst from the throng of boys.
"What do you think he went and did this afternoon?" added Hurst to the
two Channings. "He sneaked up to the dean with a wretched complaint of
us boys, which hadn't a word of truth in it; not a syllable, I assure
you. He did it only because Gaunt had put him in a temper at one
o'clock. The dean did not listen to him, that's one good thing. How
_jolly_ he'd have been, just at this moment, if you two had not come
up! Wouldn't he, boys?"
The boys burst into a laugh; roar upon roar, peal upon peal; shrieking
and holding their sides, till the very Boundaries echoed again.
Laughing is infectious, and Hamish and Arthur shrieked out with them,
not knowing in the least what they were laughing at.
But Arthur was heavy at heart in the midst of it. "Do you owe much
money, Hamish?" he inquired, after they had left the boys, and were
walking soberly along, under the quiet elm-trees.
"More than I can pay, old fellow, just at present," was the answer.
"But is it _much_, Hamish?"
"No, it is not much, taking it in the abstract. Quite a trifling sum."
Arthur caught at the word "trifling;" it seemed to dissipate his fears.
Had he been alarming himself for nothing! "Is it ten pounds, Hamish?"
"Ten pounds!" repeated Hamish, in a tone of mockery. "That would be
"Is it fifty?"
"I dare say it may be. A pound here and a pound there, and a few pounds
elsewhere--yes, taking it altogether, I expect it would be fifty."
"And how much more?" thought Arthur to himself. "You said it was a
trifling sum, Hamish!"
"Well, fifty pounds is not a large sum. Though, of course, we estimate
sums, like other things, by comparison. You can understand now, why I
was not sanguine with regard to Constance's hopeful project of helping
my father to get to the German baths. I, the eldest, who ought to be
the first to assist in it, am the least likely to do so. I don't know
how I managed to get into debt," mused Hamish. "It came upon me
imperceptibly; it did, indeed. I depended so entirely upon that money
falling to us, that I grew careless, and would often order things which
I was not in need of. Arthur, since that news came, I have felt
overwhelmed with worry and botheration."
"I wish you were free!"
"If wishes were horses, we should all be on horseback. How debts grow
upon you!" Hamish continued, changing his light tone for a graver one.
"Until within the last day or two, when I have thought it necessary to
take stock of outstanding claims, I had no idea I owed half so much."
"What shall you do about it?"
"That is more easily asked than answered. My own funds are forestalled
for some time to come. And, the worst is, that, now this suit is known
to have terminated against us, people are not so willing to wait as
they were before. I have had no end of them after me to-day."
"How shall you contrive to satisfy them?"
"Satisfy them in some way, I must."
"But how, I ask, Hamish?"
"Rob some bank or other," replied Hamish, in his off-hand, joking way.
"Shall you speak to my father?"
"Where's the use?" returned Hamish. "He cannot help me just now; he is
straitened enough himself."
"He might help you with advice. His experience is larger than yours,
his judgment better. 'In the multitude of counsellors there is safety,'
you know, Hamish."
"I have made up my mind to say nothing to my father. If he could assist
me, I would disclose all to him: as it is, it would only be inflicting
upon him unnecessary pain. Understand, Arthur, what I have said to you
is in confidence: you must not speak of it to him."
"Of course not. I should not think of interfering between you and him.
I wish I could help you!"
"I wish you could, old fellow. But you need not look so serious."
"How you can be so gay and careless over it, I cannot imagine," said
Hamish laughed. "If there's only a little patch of sunshine as large as
a man's hand, I am sure to see it and trust to it."
"Is there any sunshine in this?"
"A little bit: and I hope it will help me out of it. I am sure I was
born with a large share of hope in my composition."
"Show me the bit of sunshine, Hamish."
"I can't do that," was the answer. "I fear it is not so much actual
sunshine that's to be seen yet--only its reflection. You could not see
it at all, Arthur; but I, as I tell you, am extravagantly hopeful."
The same ever-gay tone, the same pleasant smile, accompanied the words.
And yet, at that moment, instead of walking straightforward into the
open space beyond the elm-trees, as Arthur did, Hamish withdrew his arm
from his brother's, and halted under their shade, peering cautiously
around. They were then within view of their own door.
"What are you looking at?"
"To make sure that the coast is clear. I heard to-day--Arthur, I know
that I shall shock you--that a fellow had taken out a writ against me.
I don't want, to get it served, if I can help it."
Arthur was indeed shocked. "Oh, Hamish!" was all he uttered. But the
tone betrayed a strange amount of pain mingled with reproach.
"You must not think ill of me. I declare that I have been led into this
scrape blindfolded, as may be said. I never dreamt I was getting into
it. I am not reckless by nature; and, but for the expectation of that
money, I should be as free now as you are."
Thought upon thought was crowding into Arthur's mind. He did not speak.
"I cannot charge myself with any foolish or unnecessary expenditure,"
Hamish resumed. "And," he added in a deeper tone, "my worst enemy will
not accuse me of rashly incurring debts to gratify my own pleasures. I
do not get into mischief. Were I addicted to drinking, or to gambling,
my debts might have been ten times what they are."
"They are enough, it seems," said Arthur. But he spoke the words in
sadness, not in a spirit of reproof.
"Arthur, they may prove of the greatest service, in teaching me caution
for the future. Perhaps I wanted the lesson. Let me once get out of
this hash, and I will take pretty good care not to fall into another."
"If you only can get out of it."
"Oh, I shall do it, somehow; never fear. Let us go on, there seems to
be no one about."
A FALSE ALARM.
They reached home unmolested. Arthur went straight to Mr. Channing, who
was lying, as usual, on his sofa, and bent over him with a smile, sweet
and hopeful as that of Hamish.
"Father, may I gain fifty pounds a year, if I can do it, without
detriment to my place at Mr. Galloway's?"
"What do you say, my boy?"
"Would you have any objection to my taking the organ at college on week
days? Mr. Williams has offered it to me."
Mr. Channing turned his head and looked at him. He did not understand.
"You could not take it, Arthur; you could not be absent from the
office; and young Jupp takes the organ. What is it that you are talking
Arthur explained in his quiet manner, a glad light shining in his eyes.
Jupp had left the college for good; Mr. Williams had offered the place
to him, and Mr. Galloway had authorized him to accept it. He should
only have to go to the office for two hours before breakfast in a
morning, to make up for the two lost in the day.
"My brave boy!" exclaimed Mr. Channing, making prisoner of his hand. "I
said this untoward loss of the suit might turn out to be a blessing in
disguise. And so it will; it is bringing forth the sterling love of my
children. You are doing this for me, Arthur."
"Doing it a great deal for myself, papa. You do not know the
gratification it will be to me, those two hours' play daily!"
"I understand, my dear--understand it all!"
"Especially as--" Arthur came to a sudden stop.
"Especially as what?" asked Mr. Channing.
"As I had thought of giving up taking lessons," Arthur hastily added,
not going deeper into explanations. "I play quite well enough, now, to
cease learning. Mr. Williams said one day, that, with practice, I might
soon equal him."
"I wonder what those parents do, Arthur, who own ungrateful or
rebellious children!" Mr. Channing exclaimed, after a pause of thought.
"The world is full of trouble; and it is of many kinds, and takes
various phases; but if we can only be happy in our children, all other
trouble may pass lightly over us, as a summer cloud. I thank God that
my children have never brought home to me an hour's care. How merciful
He has been to me!"
Arthur's thoughts reverted to Hamish and _his_ trouble. He felt
thankful, then, that it was hid from Mr. Channing.
"I have already accepted the place, papa. I knew I might count upon
"Upon my warm approbation. My son, do your best at your task. And," Mr.
Channing added, sinking his voice to a whisper, "when the choristers
peal out their hymn of praise to God, during these sacred services, let
_your_ heart ascend with it in fervent praise and thanksgiving. Too
many go through these services in a matter-of-course spirit, their
heart far away. Do not you."
Hamish at this moment came in, carrying the books. "Are you ready, sir?
There's not much to do, this evening."
"Ready at any time, Hamish."
Hamish laid the books before him on the table, and sat down. Arthur
left the room. Mr. Channing liked to be alone with Hamish when the
accounts were being gone over.
Mrs. Channing was in the drawing-room, some of the children with her.
Arthur entered. "Mrs. Channing," cried he, with mock ceremony, "allow
me to introduce you to the assistant-organist of the cathedral."
She smiled, supposing it to be some joke. "Very well, sir. He can come
"He is in, ma'am. It is myself."
"Is young Mr. Jupp there?" she asked; for he sometimes came home with
"Young Mr. Jupp has disappeared from public life, and I am appointed in
his place. It is quite true."
"Arthur!" she remonstrated.
"Mamma, indeed it is true. Mr. Williams has made me the offer, and Mr.
Galloway has consented to allow me time to attend the week-day
services; and papa is glad of it, and I hope you will be glad also."
"_I_ have known of it since this morning," spoke Tom, with an
assumption of easy consequence; while Mrs. Channing was recovering her
senses, which had been nearly frightened away. "Arthur, I hope Williams
intends to pay you?"
"Fifty pounds a year, And the copying besides."
"_Is_ it true, Arthur?" breathlessly exclaimed Mrs. Channing.
"I have told you that it is, mother mine. Jupp has resigned, and I am
Annabel danced round him in an ecstasy of delight. Not at his
success--success or failure did not much trouble Annabel--but she
thought there might be a prospect of some fun in store for herself.
"Arthur, you'll let me come into the cathedral and blow for you?"
"You little stupid!" cried Tom. "Much good you could do at blowing! A
girl blowing the college organ! That's rich! Better let Williams catch
you there! She'd actually go, I believe!"
"It is not your business, Tom; it is Arthur's," retorted Annabel, with
flushed cheeks. "Mamma, can't you teach Tom to interfere with himself,
and not with me?"
"I would rather teach Annabel to be a young lady, and not a tomboy,"
said Mrs. Channing. "You may as well wish to be allowed to ring the
college bells, as blow the organ, child."
"I should like that," said Annabel. "Oh, what fun, if the rope went up
Mrs. Channing turned a reproving glance on her, and resumed her
conversation with Arthur. "Why did you not tell me before, my boy? It
was too good news to keep to yourself. How long has it been in
"Dear mamma, only to-day. It was only this morning that Jupp resigned."
"Only to-day! It must have been decided very hastily, then, for a
measure of that sort."
"Mr. Williams was so put to it that he took care to lose no time. He
spoke to me at one o'clock. I had gone to him to the cathedral, asking
for the copying, which I heard was going begging, and he broached the
other subject, on the spur of the moment, as it seemed to me. Nothing
could be decided until I had seen Mr. Galloway, and I spoke to him
after he left here, this afternoon. He will allow me to be absent from
the office an hour, morning and afternoon, on condition that I attend
for two hours before breakfast."
"But, Arthur, you will have a great deal upon your hands."
"Not any too much. It will keep me out of mischief."
"When shall you find time to do the copying?"
"In an evening, I suppose. I shall find plenty of time."
As Hamish had observed, there was little to do at the books, that
evening, and he soon left the parlour. Constance happened to be in the
hall as he crossed it, on his way to his bedroom. Judith, who appeared
to have been on the watch, came gliding from the half-opened kitchen
door and approached Constance, looking after Hamish as he went up the
"Do you see, Miss Constance?" she whispered. "He is carrying the books
up with him, as usual!"
At this juncture, Hamish turned round to speak to his sister.
"Constance, I don't want any supper to-night, tell my mother. You can
call me when it is time for the reading."
"And he is going to set on at 'em, now, and he'll be at 'em till
morning light!" continued Judith's whisper. "And he'll drop off into
his grave with decline!--'taint in the nature of a young man to do
without sleep--and that'll be the ending! And he'll burn himself up
first, and all the house with him."
"I think I will go and speak to him," debated Constance.
"_I_ should," advised Judith. "The worst is, if the books must be done,
why, they must; and I don't see that there is any help for it."
But Constance hesitated, considerably. She did not at all like to
interfere; it appeared so very much to resemble the work of a spy.
Several minutes she deliberated, and then went slowly up the stairs.
Knocking at Hamish's door, she turned the handle, and would have
entered. It was locked.
"Who's there?" called out Hamish.
"Can I come in for a minute, Hamish? I want to say a word to you."
He did not undo the door immediately. There appeared to be an opening
and closing of his desk, first--a scuffle, as of things being put away.
When Constance entered, she saw one of the insurance books open on the
table, the pen and ink near it; the others were not to be seen. The
keys were in the table lock. A conviction flashed over the mind of
Constance that Judith was right, in supposing the office accounts to be
the object that kept him up. "What can he do with his time in the day?"
"What is it, Constance?"
"Can you let me speak to you, Hamish?"
"If you won't be long. I was just beginning to be busy," he replied,
taking out the keys and putting them into his pocket.
"I see you were," she said, glancing at the ledger. "Hamish, you must
not be offended with me, or think I interfere unwarrantably. I would
not do it, but that I am anxious for you. Why is it that you sit up so
late at night?"
There was a sudden accession of colour to his face--Constance saw it;
but there was a smile as well. "How do you know I do sit up? Has Judy
been telling tales?"
"Judy is uneasy about it, and she spoke to me this evening. She has
visions of the house being burnt up with every one in it, and of your
fatally injuring your health. I believe she would consider the latter
calamity almost more grievous than the former, for you know you were
always her favourite. Hamish; is there no danger of either?"
"There is not. I am too cautious for the one to happen, and, I believe,
too hardy for the other. Judy is a simpleton," he laughed; "she has her
water-butt, and what more can she desire?"
"Hamish, why do you sit up? Have you not time for your work in the
"No. Or else I should do it in the day. I do not sit up enough to hurt
me. I have, on an average, three hours' night-work, five days in the
week; and if that can damage a strong fellow like me, call me a puny
"You sit up much longer than that?"
"Not often. These light days, I sometimes do not sit up half so long; I
get up in the morning, instead. Constance, you look grave enough for a
"And you, laughing enough to provoke me. Suppose I tell papa of this
habit of yours, and get him to forbid it?"
"Then, my dear, you would work irreparable mischief," he replied,
becoming grave in his turn. "Were I to be prevented from doing as I
please in my chamber in this house, I must find a room elsewhere, in
which I should be my own master."
"You oblige me to say it, Constance. You and Judy must lay your heads
together upon some other grievance, for, indeed, for this particular
one there is no remedy. She is an old goose, and you are a young one."
"Is it right that we should submit to the risk of being set on fire?"
"My dear, if that is the point, I'll have a fire-escape placed over the
front door every night, and pay a couple of watchmen to act as
guardians. Constance!" again dropping his tone of mockery, "you know
that you may trust me better than that."
"But, Hamish, how do you spend your time, that you cannot complete your
books in the day?"
"Oh," drawled Hamish, "ours is the laziest office! gossiping and
scandal going on in it from morning till night. In the fatigue induced
by that, I am not sure that I don't take a nap, sometimes."
Constance could not tell what to make of him. He was gazing at her with
the most perplexing expression of face, looking ready to burst into a
"One last word, Hamish, for I hear Judith calling to you. Are you
obliged to do this night-work?"
"Then I will say no more; and things must go on as it seems they have
Arthur came running upstairs, and Hamish met him at the chamber door.
Arthur, who appeared strangely agitated, began speaking in a
half-whisper, unconscious that his sister was within. She heard every
"Judy says some young man wants you, Hamish! I fear it may be the
fellow to serve the writ. What on earth is to be done?"
"Did Judy say I was at home?"
"Yes; and has handed him into the study, to wait. Did you not hear her
calling to you?"
"I can't--see him," Hamish was about to say. "Yes, I will see him," he
added after a moment's reflection. "Anything rather than have a
disturbance which might come to my mother's ears. And I suppose if he
could not serve it now, he would watch for me in the morning."
"Shall I go down first, and hear what he has to say?"
"Arthur, boy, it would do no good. I have brought this upon myself, and
must battle with it. A Channing cannot turn coward!"
"But he may act with discretion," said Arthur. "I will speak to the
man, and if there's no help for it, I'll call you."
Down flew Arthur, four stairs at a time. Hamish remained with his body
inside his chamber door, and his head out. I conclude he was listening;
and, in the confusion, he had probably totally forgotten Constance.
Arthur came bounding up the stairs again, his eyes sparkling.
"A false alarm, Hamish! It's only Martin Pope."
"Martin Pope!" echoed Hamish, considerably relieved, for Martin Pope
was an acquaintance of his, and sub-editor of one of the Helstonleigh
newspapers. "Why could not Judy have opened her mouth?"
He ran down the stairs, the colour, which had left his face, returning
to it. But it did not to that of Constance; hers had changed to an ashy
whiteness. Arthur saw her standing there; saw that she must have heard
and understood all.
"Oh, Arthur, has it come to this? Is Hamish in _that_ depth of debt!"
"Hush! What brought you here, Constance?"
"What writ is it that he fears? Is there indeed one out against him?"
"I don't know much about it. There may be one."
She wrung her hands. "The next thing to a writ is a prison, is it not?
If he should be taken, what would become of the office--of papa's
"Do not agitate yourself," he implored. "It can do no good."
"Nothing can do good: nothing, nothing. Oh, what trouble!"
"Constance, in the greatest trouble there is always one Refuge."
"Yes," she mentally thought, bursting into tears. "What, but for that
shelter, would become of us in our bitter hours of trial?"
THE CLOISTER KEYS.
It was the twenty-second day of the month, and nearly a week after the
date of the last chapter. Arthur Channing sat in his place at the
cathedral organ, playing the psalm for the morning; for the hour was
that of divine service.
"O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is gracious: and His mercy
endureth for ever!"
The boy's whole heart went up with the words. _He_ gave thanks: mercies
had come upon him--upon his; and that great dread--which was turning
his days to gall, his nights to sleeplessness--the arrest of Hamish,
had not as yet been attempted. He felt it all as he sat there; and, in
a softer voice, he echoed the sweet song of the choristers below, verse
after verse as each verse rose on the air, filling the aisles of the
old cathedral: how that God delivers those who cry unto Him--those who
sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; those whose hearts fail
through heaviness, who fall down and there is none to help them--He
brings them out of the darkness, and breaks their bonds in sunder. They
that go down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great
waters, who see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep;
whose hearts cower at the stormy rising of the waves, and in their