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The Channings by Mrs. Henry Wood

Part 3 out of 12

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agony of distress cry unto Him to help them; and He hears the cry, and
delivers them. He stills the angry waves, and calms the storm, and
brings them into the haven where they would be; and then they are glad,
because they are at rest.

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

"And again, when they are minished, and brought low: through
oppression, through any plague or trouble; though He suffer them to be
evil intreated through tyrants: and let them wander out of the way in
the wilderness; yet helpeth He the poor out of misery: and maketh him
households like a flock of sheep.

"Whoso is wise will ponder these things: and they shall understand the
loving-kindness of the Lord."

The refrain died away, the gentle echo died after it, and silence fell
upon the cathedral. It was broken by the voice of the Reverend William
Yorke, giving out the first lesson--a chapter in Jeremiah.

At the conclusion of the service, Arthur Channing left the college. In
the cloisters he was overtaken by the choristers, who were hastening
back to the schoolroom. At the same moment Ketch, the porter, passed,
coming towards them from the south entrance of the cloisters. He
touched his hat in his usual ungracious fashion to the dean and Dr.
Gardner, who were turning into the chapter-house, carrying their
trenchers, and looked the other way as he passed the boys.

Arthur caught hold of Hurst. "Have you 'served out' old Ketch, as you
threatened?" he laughingly asked.

"Hush!" whispered Hurst. "It has not come off yet. We had an idea that
an inkling of it had got abroad, so we thought it best to keep quiet
for a few nights, lest the Philistines should be on the watch. But the
time is fixed now, and I can tell you that it is not a hundred nights

With a shower of mysterious nods and winks, Hurst rushed away and
bounded up the stairs to the schoolroom. Arthur returned to Mr.
Galloway's. "It's the awfullest shame!" burst forth Tom Channing that
day at dinner (and allow me to remark, _par parenthese_, that, in
reading about schoolboys, you must be content to accept their grammar
as it comes); and he brought the handle of his knife down upon the
table in a passion.

"Thomas!" uttered Mr. Channing, in amazed reproof.

"Well, papa, and so it is! and the school's going pretty near mad over
it!" returned Tom, turning his crimsoned face upon his father. "Would
you believe that I and Huntley are to be passed over in the chance for
the seniorship, and Yorke is to have it, without reference to merit?"

"No, I do not believe it, Tom," quietly replied Mr. Channing. "But,
even were it true, it is no reason why you should break out in that
unseemly manner. Did you ever know a hot temper do good to its

"I know I am hot-tempered," confessed Tom. "I cannot help it, papa; it
was born with me."

"Many of our failings were born with us, my boy, as I have always
understood. But they are to be subdued; not indulged."

"Papa, you must acknowledge that it is a shame if Pye has promised the
seniorship to Yorke, over my head and Huntley's," reiterated Tom, who
was apt to speak as strongly as he thought. "If he gets the seniorship,
the exhibition will follow; that is an understood thing. Would it be

"Why are you saying this? What have you heard?"

"Well, it is a roundabout tale," answered Tom. "But the rumour in the
school is this--and if it turns out to be true, Gerald Yorke will about
get eaten up alive."

"Is that the rumour, Tom?" said Mrs. Channing.

Tom laughed, in spite of his anger. "I had not come to the rumour,
mamma. Lady Augusta and Dr. Burrows are great friends, you know; and we
hear that they have been salving over Pye--"

"Gently, Tom!" put in Mr. Channing.

"Talking over Pye, then," corrected Tom, impatient to proceed with his
story; "and Pye has promised to promote Gerald Yorke to the seniorship.

"Dr. Burrows has gone away again," interrupted Annabel. "I saw him go
by to-day in his travelling carriage. Judy says he has gone to his
rectory; some of the deanery servants told her so."

"You'll get something, Annabel, if you interrupt in that fashion,"
cried Tom. "Last Monday, Dr. Burrows gave a dinner-party. Pye was
there, and Lady Augusta was there; and it was then they got Pye to
promise it to Yorke."

"How is it known that they did?" asked Mr. Channing.

"The boys all say it, papa. It was circulating through the school this
morning like wild-fire."

"You will never take the prize for logic, Tom. _How_ did the boys hear
it, I ask?"

"Through Mr. Calcraft," replied Tom.


"Mr. Ketch, then," said Tom, correcting himself as he had done before.
"Both names are a mile too good for him. Ketch came into contact with
some of the boys this morning before ten-o'clock school, and, of
course, they went into a wordy war--which is nothing new. Huntley was
the only senior present, and Ketch was insolent to him. One of the boys
told Ketch that he would not dare to be so, next year, if Huntley
should be senior boy. Ketch sneered at that, and said Huntley never
would be senior boy, nor Channing either, for it was already given to
Yorke. The boys took his words up, ridiculing the notion of _his_
knowing anything of the matter, and they did not spare their taunts.
That roused his temper, and the old fellow let out all he knew. He said
Lady Augusta Yorke was at Galloway's office yesterday, boasting about
it before Jenkins."

"A roundabout tale, indeed!" remarked Mr. Channing; "and told in a
somewhat roundabout manner, Tom. I should not put faith in it. Did you
hear anything of this, Arthur?"

"No, sir. I know that Lady Augusta called at the office yesterday
afternoon while I was at college. I don't know anything more."

"Huntley intends to drop across Jenkins this afternoon, and question
him," resumed Tom Channing. "There can't be any doubt that it was he
who gave the information to Ketch. If Huntley finds that Lady Augusta
did assert it, the school will take the affair up."

The boast amused Hamish. "In what manner will the school be pleased to
'take it up?'" questioned he. "Recommend the dean to hold Mr. Pye under
surveillance? Or send Lady Augusta a challenge?"

Tom Channing nodded his head mysteriously. "There is many a true word
spoken in jest, Hamish. I don't know yet what we should do: we should
do something. The school won't stand it tamely. The day for that
one-sided sort of oppression has gone out with our grandmothers'

"It would be very wrong of the school to stand it," said Charley,
throwing in his word. "If the honours are to go by sneaking favour, and
not by merit, where is the use of any of us putting out our mettle?"

"You be quiet, Miss Charley! you juniors have nothing to do with it,"
were all the thanks the boy received from Tom.

Now the facts really were very much as Tom Channing asserted; though
whether, or how far, Mr. Pye had promised, and whether Lady Augusta's
boast had been a vain one, was a matter for speculation. Neither could
it be surmised the part, if any, played in it by Prebendary Burrows. It
was certain that Lady Augusta had, on the previous day, boasted to Mr.
Galloway, in his office, that her son was to have the seniorship; that
Mr. Pye had promised it to her and Dr. Burrows, at the dinner-party.
She spoke of it without the least reserve, in a tone of much
self-gratulation, and she laughingly told Jenkins, who was at his desk
writing, that he might wish Gerald joy when he next saw him. Jenkins
accepted it all as truth: it may be questioned if Mr. Galloway did, for
he knew that Lady Augusta did not always weigh her words before

In the evening--this same evening, mind, after the call at the office
of Lady Augusta--Mr. Jenkins proceeded towards home when he left his
work. He took the road through the cloisters. As he was passing the
porter's lodge, who should he see in it but his father, old Jenkins,
the bedesman, holding a gossip with Ketch; and they saw him.

"If that ain't our Joe a-going past!" exclaimed the bedesman.

Joe stepped in. He was proceeding to join in the converse, when a lot
of the college boys tore along, hooting and shouting, and kicking a
ball about. It was kicked into the lodge, and a few compliments were
thrown at the boys by the porter, before they could get the ball out
again. These compliments, you may be quite sure, the boys did not fail
to return with interest: Tom Channing, in particular, being charmingly

"And the saucy young beast'll be the senior boy soon!" foamed Mr.
Ketch, as the lot decamped. "I wish I could get him gagged, I do!"

"No, he will not," said Joe Jenkins, speaking impulsively in his
superior knowledge. "Yorke is to be senior."

"How do you know that, Joe?" asked his father.

Joe replied by relating what he had heard said by the Lady Augusta that
afternoon. It did not conciliate the porter in the remotest degree: he
was not more favourably inclined to Gerald Yorke than he was to Tom
Channing. Had he heard the school never was to have a senior again, or
a junior either, that might have pleased him.

But on the following morning, when he fell into dispute with the boys
in the cloisters, he spoke out his information in a spirit of triumph
over Huntley. Bit by bit, angered by the boys' taunts, he repeated
every word he had heard from Jenkins. The news, as it was busily
circulated from one to the other, caused no slight hubbub in the
school, and gave rise to that explosion of Tom Channing's at the

Huntley sought Jenkins, as he had said he would do, and received
confirmation of the report, so far as the man's knowledge went. But
Jenkins was terribly vexed that the report had got abroad through him.
He determined to pay a visit to Mr. Ketch, and reproach him with his

Mr. Ketch sat in his lodge, taking his supper: bread and cheese, and a
pint of ale procured at the nearest public-house. Except in the light
months of summer, it was his habit to close the cloister gates before
supper-time; but as Mr. Ketch liked to take that meal early--that is to
say, at eight o'clock--and, as dusk, for at least four months in the
year, obstinately persisted in putting itself off to a later hour, in
spite of his growling, and as he might not shut up before dusk, he had
no resource but to take his supper first and lock up afterwards. The
"lodge" was a quaint abode, of one room only, built in an obscure nook
of the cathedral, near the grand entrance. He was pursuing his meal
after his own peculiar custom: eating, drinking, and grumbling.

"It's worse nor leather, this cheese! Selling it to a body for
double-Gloucester! I'd like to double them as made it. Eight-pence a
pound!--and short weight beside! I wonder there ain't a law passed to
keep down the cost o' provisions!"

A pause, given chiefly to grunting, and Mr. Ketch resumed:--

"This bread's rougher nor a bear's hide! Go and ask for new, and they
palms you off with stale. They'll put a loaf a week old into the oven
to hot up again, and then sell it to you for new! There ought to be a
criminal code passed for hanging bakers. They're all cheats. They mixes
up alum, and bone-dust, and plaster of Paris, and--Drat that door!
Who's kicking at it now?"

No one was kicking. Some one was civilly knocking. The door was pushed
slightly open, and the inoffensive face of Mr. Joseph Jenkins appeared
in the aperture.

"I say, Mr. Ketch," began he in a mild tone of deprecation, "whatever
is it that you have gone and done?"

"What d'ye mean?" growled old Ketch. "Is this a way to come and set
upon a gentleman in his own house? Who taught you manners, Joe

"You have been repeating what I mentioned last night about Lady
Augusta's son getting the seniorship," said Jenkins, coming in and
closing the door.

"You did say it," retorted Mr. Ketch.

"I know I did. But I did not suppose you were going to repeat it

"If it was a secret, why didn't you say so?" asked Mr. Ketch.

"It was not exactly a secret, or Lady Augusta would not have mentioned
it before me," remonstrated Joe. "But it is not the proper thing, for
me to come out of Mr. Galloway's office, and talk of anything I may
have heard said in it by his friends, and then for it to get round to
his ears again! Put it to yourself, Mr. Ketch, and say whether you
would like it."

"What _did_ you talk of it for, then?" snarled Ketch, preparing to take
a copious draught of ale.

"Because I thought you and father were safe. You might both have known
better than to speak of it out of doors. There is sure to be a
commotion over it."

"Miserable beer! Brewed out of ditch-water!"

"Young Mr. Huntley came to me to-day, to know the rights and the wrongs
of it--as he said," continued Joseph. "He spoke to Mr. Galloway about
it afterwards--though I must say he was kind enough not to bring in my
name; only said, in a general way, that he had 'heard' it. He is an
honourable young gentleman, is that Huntley. He vows the report shall
be conveyed to the dean."

"Serve 'em right!" snapped the porter. "If the dean does his duty,
he'll order a general flogging for the school, all round. It'll do 'em

"Galloway did not say much--except that he knew what he should do, were
he Huntley's or Channing's father. Which I took to mean that, in his
opinion, there ought to be an inquiry instituted."

"And you know there ought," said Mr. Ketch.

"_I_ know! I'm sure I don't know," was the mild answer. "It is not my
place to reflect upon my superiors, Mr. Ketch--to say they should do
this, or they should do that. I like to reverence them, and to keep a
civil tongue in my head."

"Which is what you don't do. If I knowed who brewed this beer I'd enter
an action again him, for putting in no malt."

"I would not have had this get about for any money!" resumed Jenkins.
"Neither you nor father shall ever catch me opening my lips again."

"Keep 'em shut then," growled old Ketch.

Mr. Ketch leisurely finished his supper, and the two continued talking
until dusk came on--almost dark; for the porter, churl though he was,
liked a visitor as well as any one--possibly as a vent for his temper.
He did not often find one who would stand it so meekly as Joe Jenkins.
At length Mr. Jenkins lifted himself off the shut-up press bedstead on
which he had been perched, and prepared to depart.

"Come along of me while I lock up," said Ketch, somewhat less
ungraciously than usual.

Mr. Jenkins hesitated. "My wife will be wondering what has become of
me; she'll blow me up for keeping supper waiting," debated he, aloud.
"But--well, I don't mind going with you this once, for company's sake,"
he added in his willingness to be obliging.

The two large keys, one at each end of a string, were hung up just
within the lodge door; they belonged to the two gates of the cloisters.
Old Ketch took them down and went out with Jenkins, merely closing his
own door; he rarely fastened it, unless he was going some distance.

Very dark were the enclosed cloisters, as they entered by the west
gate. It was later than the usual hour of closing, and it was,
moreover, a gloomy evening, the sky overcast. They went through the
cloisters to the south gate, Ketch grumbling all the way. He locked it,
and then turned back again.

Arrived about midway of the west quadrangle, the very darkest part in
all the cloisters, and the most dreary, Jenkins suddenly startled his
companion by declaring there was a light in the burial-ground.

"Come along!" growled Ketch. "You'll say there's corpse-candles there

"It is only a little spark, like," said Jenkins, halting. "I should not
wonder but it is one of those pretty, innocent glowworms."

He leaned his arms upon the mullioned frame of the open Gothic window,
raised himself on tiptoe to obtain as complete a view as was possible,
and pushed his head out to reconnoitre the grave-yard. Mr. Ketch
shuffled on; the keys, held somewhat loosely in his hand by the string,
clanking together.

"Be you going to stop there all night?" he called out, when he had gone
a few paces, half turning round to speak.

At that moment a somewhat startling incident occurred. The keys were
whisked out of Mr. Ketch's hand, and fell, or appeared to fall, with a
clatter on the flags at his feet. He turned his anger upon Jenkins.

"Now then, you senseless calf! What did you do that for?"

"Did you speak?" asked Jenkins, taking his elbows from the distant
window-frame, and approaching.

Mr. Ketch felt a little staggered. His belief had been that Jenkins had
come up silently, and dashed the keys from his hand; but Jenkins, it
appeared, had not left the window. However, like too many other
cross-grained spirits, he persisted in venting blame upon him.

"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, to play an old man such a trick?"

"I have played no trick," said Jenkins. "I thought I saw a glowworm,
and I stopped to look; but I couldn't see it again. There's no trick in

"Ugh!" cried the porter in his wrath. "You took and clutched the keys
from me, and throwed 'em on the ground! Pick 'em up."

"Well, I never heard the like!" said Jenkins. "I was not within yards
and yards of you. If you dropped the keys it was no fault of mine."
But, being a peaceably-inclined man, he stooped and found the keys.

The porter grunted. An inner current of conviction rose in his heart
that he must undoubtedly have dropped them, though he could have
declared at the time that they were mysteriously snatched from him. He
seized the string firmly now, and hobbled on to the west door, abusing
Jenkins all the way.

They arrived at the west door, which was gained by a narrow closed
passage from the gate of entrance, as was the south door in a similar
manner; and there Mr. Ketch used his eyes and his tongue considerably,
for the door, instead of being open, as he had left it, was shut and

"What on earth has done this?" shrieked he.

"Done what?" asked Mr. Jenkins.

"Done what!" was the irascible echo. "Be you a fool, Joe Jenkins? Don't
you see the door's fast!"

"Unfasten it," said Jenkins sensibly.

Mr. Ketch proceeded to do so--at least to apply one of the keys to the
lock--with much fumbling. It apparently did not occur to him to wonder
how the locking-up process could have been effected, considering that
the key had been in his own possession.

Fumbling and fumbling, now with one key, now with the other, and then
critically feeling the keys and their wards, the truth at length burst
upon the unhappy man that the keys were not the right keys, and that he
and Jenkins were--locked in! A profuse perspiration broke out over him.

"They _must_ be the keys," remonstrated Mr. Jenkins.

"They are _not_ the keys," shrieked Ketch. "D'ye think I don't know my
own keys, now I come to feel 'em?"

"But they were your keys that fell down and that I picked up," argued
Jenkins, perfectly sure in his own mind that they could be no others.
"There was not a fairy in the cloisters to come and change them."

"Feel 'em!" roared Ketch, in his despair. "These be a couple of horrid,
rusty old things, that can't have been in use since the cloisters was
built. _You_ have changed 'em, you have!" he sobbed, the notion taking
possession of him forcibly. "You are a-doing it to play me a infamous
trick, and I'll have you up before the dean to-morrow! I'll shake the
life out of you, I will!"

Laying summary hold of Mr. Jenkins, he began to shake him with all his
feeble strength. The latter soon extricated himself, and he succeeded
in impressing on the man the fallacy of his suspicion. "Don't I want to
get home to my supper and my wife? Don't I tell you that she'll set
upon me like anything for keeping it waiting?" he meekly remonstrated.
"Do I want to be locked up in these unpleasant cloisters? Give me the
keys and let me try them."

Ketch, in sheer helplessness, was fain to comply. He resigned the keys
to Jenkins, and Jenkins tried them: but he was none the nearer
unlocking the gate. In their increasing perplexity, they resolved to
return to the place in the quadrangle where the keys had fallen--a very
forlorn suggestion proceeding from Mr. Jenkins that the right keys
might be lying there still, and that this rusty pair might, by some
curious and unaccountable chance, have been lying there also.

They commenced their search, disputing, the one hotly, the other
temperately, as to which was the exact spot. With feet and hands they
hunted as well as the dark would allow them; all in vain; and Ketch
gave vent to a loud burst of feeling when he realized the fact that
they were positively locked up in the cloisters, beyond hope of
succour, in the dark and lonely night.



"Fordham, I wonder whether the cloisters are closed?"

"I will see, my lord."

The question came from the Bishop of Helstonleigh; who, as it fell out,
had been to make an evening call upon the dean. The dean's servant was
now conducting his lordship down the grand staircase, on his departure.
In proceeding to the palace from the deanery, to go through the
cloisters cut off quite two-thirds of the distance.

Fordham left the hall, a lamp in his hand, and traversed sundry
passages which brought him to the deanery garden. Crossing the garden,
and treading another short passage, he came to the cloisters. The
bishop had followed, lighted by Fordham, and talking affably. A very
pleasant man was the Bishop of Helstonleigh, standing little upon forms
and ceremonies. In frame he was nearly as active as a college boy.

"It is all right, I think, my lord," said Fordham. "I hear the porter's
voice now in the cloisters."

"How dark it is!" exclaimed the bishop. "Ketch must be closing late
to-night. What a noise he is making!"

In point of fact, Mr. Ketch had just arrived at that agreeable moment
which concluded the last chapter--the conviction that no other keys
were to be found, and that he and Jenkins were fast. The tone in which
he was making his sentiments known upon the calamity, was not a subdued

"Shall I light you round, my lord?"

"By no means--by no means. I shall be up with Ketch in a minute. He
seems in a temper. Good night, Fordham."

"Good night to your lordship."

The servant went back to the deanery. The prelate groped his way round
to the west quadrangle.

"Are you closing, Ketch?"

Mr. Ketch started as if he had been shot, and his noise dropped to a
calm. Truth to say, his style of complaint had not been orthodox, or
exactly suitable to the ears of his bishop. He and Jenkins both
recognized the voice, and bowed low, dark though it was.

"What is the matter, Ketch? You are making enough noise."

"Matter, my lord!" groaned Ketch. "Here's matter enough to make a
saint--saving your lordship's presence--forget his prayers. We be
locked up in the cloisters."

"Locked up!" repeated the bishop. "What do you mean? Who is with you?"

"It is me, my lord," said Jenkins, meekly, answering for himself.
"Joseph Jenkins, my lord, at Mr. Galloway's. I came in with the porter
just for company, my lord, when he came to lock up, and we have somehow
got locked in."

The bishop demanded an explanation. It was not very easily afforded.
Ketch and Jenkins talked one against the other, and when the bishop did
at length understand the tale, he scarcely gave credence to it.

"It is an incomprehensible story, Ketch, that you should drop your
keys, and they should be changed for others as they lay on the flags.
Are you sure you brought out the right keys?"

"My lord, I _couldn't_ bring out any others," returned Ketch, in a tone
that longed to betray its resentment, and would have betrayed it to any
one but a bishop. "I haven't no others to bring, my lord. The two keys
hang up on the nail always, and there ain't another key besides in the
house, except the door key."

"Some one must have changed them previously--must have hung up these in
their places," remarked the bishop.

"But, my lord, it couldn't be, I say," reiterated old Ketch, almost
shrieking. "I know the keys just as well as I know my own hands, and
they was the right keys that I brought out. The best proof, my lord,
is, that I locked the south door fast enough; and how could I have done
that with these wretched old rusty things?"

"The keys must be on the flags still," said his lordship.

"That is the only conclusion I can come to, my lord," mildly put in
Jenkins. "But we cannot find them."

"And meanwhile we are locked in for the night, and here's his right
reverend lordship, the bishop, locked in with us!" danced old Ketch,
almost beside himself with anger. "Of course, it wouldn't matter for me
and Jenkins: speaking in comparison, we are nobody; but it is a
shameful indignity for my lord."

"We must try and get out, Ketch," said his lordship, in a tone that
sounded as if he were more inclined to laugh than cry. "I will go back
to the deanery."

Away went the bishop as quickly as the gloom allowed him, and away went
the other two in his wake. Arrived at the passage which led from the
cloisters to the deanery garden they groped their way to the end--only
to find the door closed and locked.

"Well, this is a pleasant situation!" exclaimed the bishop, his tone
betraying amusement as well as annoyance; and with his own prelatical
hands he pummelled at the door, and shouted with his own prelatical
voice. When the bishop was tired, Jenkins and Ketch began to pummel and
to shout, and they pummelled and shouted till their knuckles were sore
and their throats were hoarse. It was all in vain. The garden
intervened between them and the deanery, and they could not be heard.

It certainly was a pretty situation, as the prelate remarked. The Right
Reverend the Lord Bishop of Helstonleigh, ranking about fifth, by
precedence, on the episcopal bench, locked up ignominiously in the
cloisters of Helstonleigh, with Ketch the porter, and Jenkins the
steward's clerk; likely, so far as appearances might be trusted, to
have to pass the night there! The like had never yet been heard of.

The bishop went to the south gate, and tried the keys himself: the
bishop went to the west gate and tried them there; the bishop stamped
about the west quadrangle, hoping to stamp upon the missing keys; but
nothing came of it. Ketch and Jenkins attended him--Ketch grumbling in
the most angry terms that he dared, Jenkins in humble silence.

"I really do not see what is to be done," debated the bishop, who, no
doubt, wished himself well out of the dilemma, as any less exalted
mortal would have done, "The doors leading into the college are sure to
be closed."

"Quite sure," groaned Ketch.

"And to get into the college would not serve us, that I see," added the
bishop. "We should be no better off there than here."

"Saving that we might ring the bell, my lord," suggested Jenkins, with

They proceeded to the college gates. It was a forlorn hope, and one
that did not serve them. The gates were locked, the doors closed behind
them. No reaching the bell that way; it might as well have been a
hundred miles off.

They traversed the cloisters again, and tried the door of the
schoolroom. It was locked. Had it not been, the senior boy might have
expected punishment from the head-master. They tried the small door
leading into the residence of Dr. Burrows--fast also; that abode just
now was empty. The folding doors of the chapter-house were opened
easily, and they entered. But what did it avail them? There was the
large, round room, lined with its books, furnished with its immense
table and easy-chairs; but it was as much shut in from the hearing of
the outside world as they were. The bishop came into contact with a
chair, and sat down in it. Jenkins, who, as clerk to Mr. Galloway, the
steward to the dean and chapter, was familiar with the chapter-house,
felt his way to the spot where he knew matches were sometimes kept. He
could not find any: it was the time of light evenings.

"There's just one chance, my lord," suggested Jenkins. "That the little
unused door at the corner of the cloisters, leading into the body of
the cathedral, may not be locked."

"Precious careless of the sextons, if it is not!" grunted Ketch.

"It is a door nobody ever thinks of going in at, my lord," returned
Jenkins, as if he would apologize for the sextons' carelessness, should
it be found unfastened. "If it is open, we might get to the bell."

"The sextons, proud, stuck-up gentlemen, be made up of carelessness and
anything else that's bad!" groaned Ketch. "Holding up their heads above
us porters!"

It was worth the trial. The bishop rose from the chair, and groped his
way out of the chapter-house, the two others following.

"If it hadn't been for that Jenkins's folly, fancying he saw a light in
the burying-ground, and me turning round to order him to come on, it
might not have happened," grumbled Ketch, as they wound round the

"A light in the burial-ground!" hastily repeated the bishop. "What

"Oh, a corpse-candle, or some nonsense of that sort, he had his mind
running on, my lord. Half the world is idiots, and Jenkins is the
biggest of 'em."

"My lord," spoke poor Jenkins, deprecatingly, "I never had such a
thought within me as that it was a 'corpse-candle.' I said I fancied it
might be a glowworm. And I believe it was one, my lord."

"A more sensible thought than the other," observed the prelate.

Luck at last! The door was found to be unlocked. It was a low narrow
door, only used on the very rare occasion of a funeral, and was
situated in a shady, out-of-the-way nook, where no one ever thought of
looking. "Oh, come, this is something!" cried the bishop, cheerily, as
he stepped into the cathedral.

"And your lordship now sees what fine careless sextons we have got!"
struck in Ketch.

"We must overlook their carelessness this time, in consideration of the
service it renders us," said the bishop, in a kindly tone. "Take care
of the pillars, Ketch."

"Thank ye, my lord. I'm going along with my hands held out before me,
to save my head," returned Ketch.

Most likely the bishop and Jenkins were doing the same. Dexterously
steering clear of the pillars, they emerged in the wide, open body of
the cathedral, and bent their steps across it to the spot where hung
the ropes of the bells.

The head sexton to the cathedral--whom you must not confound with a
gravedigger, as you might an ordinary sexton; cathedral sextons are
personages of more importance--was seated about this hour at supper in
his home, close to the cathedral. Suddenly the deep-toned college bell
boomed out, and the man started as if a gun had been fired at him.

"Why, that's the college bell!" he uttered to his family. And the
family stared with open mouths without replying.

The college bell it certainly was, and it was striking out sharp
irregular strokes, as though the ringer were not accustomed to his
work. The sexton started up, in a state of the most amazed

"It is magic; it is nothing less--that the bell should be ringing out
at this hour!" exclaimed he.

"Father," suggested a juvenile, "perhaps somebody's got locked up in
the college." For which prevision he was rewarded with a stinging smack
on the head.

"Take that, sir! D'ye think I don't know better than to lock folks up
in the college? It was me, myself, as locked up this evening."

"No need to box him for that," resented the wife. "The bell _is_
ringing, and I'll be bound the boy's right enough. One of them masons
must have fallen asleep in the day, and has just woke up to find
himself shut in. Hope he likes his berth!"

Whatever it might be, ringing the bell, whether magic or mason, of
course it must be seen to; and the sexton hastened out, the cathedral
keys in his hand. He bent his steps towards the front entrance, passing
the cloisters, which, as he knew, would be locked at that hour. "And
that bear of a Ketch won't hurry himself to unlock them," soliloquized

He found the front gates surrounded. The bell had struck upon the
wondering ears of many living within the precincts of the cathedral,
who flocked out to ascertain the reason. Amongst others, the college
boys were coming up in troops.

"Now, good people, please--by your leave!" cried the sexton. "Let me
get to the gates."

They made way for the man and his ponderous keys, and entrance to the
college was gained. The sexton was beginning a sharp reproof to the
"mason," and the crowd preparing a chorus to it, when they were seized
with consternation, and fell back on each other's toes. It was the
Bishop of Helstonleigh, in his laced-up hat and apron, who walked

The sexton humbly snatched off his hat; the college boys raised their

"Thank you all for coming to the rescue," said the bishop, in a
pleasant tone. "It was not an agreeable situation, to be locked in the

"My lord," stammered the sexton, in awe-struck dread, as to whether he
had unwittingly been the culprit: "how did your lordship get locked

"That is what we must inquire into," replied the bishop.

The next to hobble out was Ketch. In his own fashion, almost ignoring
the presence of the bishop, he made known the tale. It was received
with ridicule. The college boys especially cast mockery upon it, and
began dancing a jig when the bishop's back was turned. "Let a couple of
keys drop down, and, when picked up, you found them transmogrified into
old rusty machines, made in the year one!" cried Bywater. "_That's_
very like a whale, Ketch!"

Ketch tore off to his lodge, as fast as his lumbago allowed him,
calling upon the crowd to come and look at the nail where the keys
always hung, except when in use, and holding out the rusty dissemblers
for public view, in a furious passion.

He dashed open the door. The college boys, pushing before the crowd,
and following on the bishop's heels--who had probably his own reasons
for wishing to see the solution of the affair--thronged into the lodge.
"There's the nail, my lord, and there--"

Ketch stopped, dumbfounded. On the nail, hanging by the string, as
quietly as if they had hung for ages, were the cloister keys. Ketch
rubbed his eyes, and stared, and rubbed again. The bishop smiled.

"I told you, Ketch, I thought you must be mistaken, in supposing you
brought the proper keys out."

Ketch burst into a wail of anger and deprecation. He had took out the
right keys, and Jenkins could bear him out in the assertion. Some
wicked trick had been played upon him, and the keys brought back during
his absence and hung up on their hook! He'd lay his life it was the
college boys!

The bishop turned his eyes on those young gentlemen. But nothing could
be more innocent than their countenances, as they stood before him in
their trenchers. Rather too innocent, perhaps: and the bishop's eyes
twinkled, and a half-smile crossed his lips; but he made no sign. Well
would it be if all the clergy were as sweet-tempered as that Bishop of

"Well, Ketch, take care of your keys for the future," was all he said,
as he walked away. "Good night, boys."

"Good night to your lordship," replied the boys, once more raising
their trenchers; and the crowd, outside, respectfully saluted their
prelate, who returned it in kind.

"What are you waiting for, Thorpe?" the bishop demanded, when he found
the sexton was still at the great gates, holding them about an inch

"For Jenkins, my lord," was the reply. "Ketch said he was also locked

"Certainly he was," replied the bishop. "Has he not come forth?"

"That he has not, my lord. I have let nobody whatever out except your
lordship and the porter. I have called out to him, but he does not
answer, and does not come."

"He went up into the organ-loft in search of a candle and matches,"
remarked the bishop. "You had better go after him, Thorpe. He may not
know that the doors are open."

The bishop left, crossing over to the palace. Thorpe, calling one of
the old bedesmen, some of whom had then come up, left him in charge of
the gate, and did as he was ordered. He descended the steps, passed
through the wide doors, and groped his way in the dark towards the


There was no answer.

"Jenkins!" he called out again.

Still there was no answer: except the sound of the sexton's own voice
as it echoed in the silence of the large edifice.

"Well, this is an odd go!" exclaimed Thorpe, as he leaned against a
pillar and surveyed the darkness of the cathedral. "He can't have
melted away into a ghost, or dropped down into the crypt among the
coffins. Jenkins, I say!"

With a word of impatience at the continued silence, the sexton returned
to the entrance gates. All that could be done was to get a light and
search for him.

They procured a lantern, Ketch ungraciously supplying it; and the
sexton, taking two or three of the spectators with him, proceeded to
the search. "He has gone to sleep in the organ-loft, that is what he
has done," cried Thorpe, making known what the bishop had said.

Alas! Jenkins had not gone to sleep. At the foot of the steps, leading
to the organ-loft, they came upon him. He was lying there insensible,
blood oozing from a wound in the forehead. How had it come about? What
had caused it?

Meanwhile, the college boys, after driving Mr. Ketch nearly wild with
their jokes and ridicule touching the mystery of the keys, were scared
by the sudden appearance of the head-master. They decamped as fast as
their legs could carry them, bringing themselves to an anchor at a safe
distance, under shade of the friendly elm trees. Bywater stuck his back
against one, and his laughter came forth in peals. Some of the rest
tried to stop it, whispering caution.

"It's of no good talking, you fellows! I can't keep it in; I shall
burst if I try. I have been at bursting point ever since I twitched the
keys out of his hands in the cloisters, and threw the rusty ones down.
You see I was right--that it was best for one of us to go in without
our boots, and to wait. If half a dozen had gone, we should never have
got away unheard."

"_I_ pretty nearly burst when I saw the bishop come out, instead of
Ketch," cried Tod Yorke. "Burst with fright."

"So did a few more of us," said Galloway. "I say, will there be a row?"

"Goodness knows! He is a kind old chap is the bishop. Better for it to
have been him than the dean."

"What was it Ketch said, about Jenkins seeing a glowworm?"

"Oh!" shrieked Bywater, holding his sides, "that was the best of all! I
had taken a lucifer out of my pocket, playing with it, while they went
round to the south gate, and it suddenly struck fire. I threw it over
to the burial-ground: and that soft Jenkins took it for a glowworm."

"It's a stunning go!" emphatically concluded Mr. Tod Yorke. "The best
we have had this half, yet."

"Hush--sh--sh--sh!" whispered the boys under their breath. "There goes
the master."



Mr. Galloway was in his office. Mr. Galloway was fuming and fretting at
the non-arrival of his clerk, Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins was a punctual
man; in fact, more than punctual: his proper time for arriving at the
office was half-past nine; but the cathedral clock had rarely struck
the quarter-past before Mr. Jenkins would be at his post. Almost any
other morning it would not have mattered a straw to Mr. Galloway
whether Jenkins was a little after or a little before his time; but on
this particular morning he had especial need of him, and had come
himself to the office unusually early.

One-two, three-four! chimed the quarters of the cathedral. "There it
goes--half-past nine!" ejaculated Mr. Galloway. "What _does_ Jenkins
mean by it? He knew he was wanted early."

A sharp knock at the office door, and there entered a little dark
woman, in a black bonnet and a beard. She was Mr. Jenkins's better
half, and had the reputation for being considerably the grey mare.

"Good morning, Mr. Galloway. A pretty kettle of fish, this is!"

"What's the matter now?" asked Mr. Galloway, surprised at the address.
"Where's Jenkins?"

"Jenkins is in bed with his head plastered up. He's the greatest booby
living, and would positively have come here all the same, but I told
him I'd strap him down with cords if he attempted it. A pretty object
he'd have looked, staggering through the streets, with his head big
enough for two, and held together with white plaster!"

"What has he done to his head?" wondered Mr. Galloway.

"Good gracious! have you not heard?" exclaimed the lady, whose mode of
speech was rarely overburdened with polite words, though she meant no
disrespect by it. "He got locked up in the cloisters last night with
old Ketch and the bishop."

Mr. Galloway stared at her. He had been dining, the previous evening,
with some friends at the other end of the town, and knew nothing of the
occurrence. Had he been within hearing when the college bell tolled out
at night, he would have run to ascertain the cause as eagerly as any
schoolboy. "Locked up in the cloisters with old Ketch and the bishop!"
he repeated, in amazement. "I do not understand."

Mrs. Jenkins proceeded to enlighten him. She gave the explanation of
the strange affair of the keys, as it had been given to her by the
unlucky Joe. While telling it, Arthur Channing entered, and, almost
immediately afterwards, Roland Yorke.

"The bishop, of all people!" uttered Mr. Galloway. "What an untoward
thing for his lordship!"

"No more untoward for him than for others," retorted the lady. "It just
serves Jenkins right. What business had he to go dancing through the
cloisters with old Ketch and his keys?"

"But how did Jenkins get hurt?" asked Mr. Galloway, for that particular
point had not yet been touched upon.

"He is the greatest fool going, is Jenkins," was the complimentary
retort of Jenkins's wife. "After he had helped to ring out the bell, he
must needs go poking and groping into the organ-loft, hunting for
matches or some such insane rubbish. He might have known, had he
possessed any sense, that candles and matches are not likely to be
there in summer-time! Why, if the organist wanted ever so much to stop
in after dark, when the college is locked up for the night, he wouldn't
be allowed to do it! It's only in winter, when he has to light a candle
to get through the afternoon service, that they keep matches and dips
up there."

"But about his head?" repeated Mr. Galloway, who was aware of the
natural propensity of Mrs. Jenkins to wander from the point under

"Yes, about his head!" she wrathfully answered. "In attempting to
descend the stairs again, he missed his footing, and pitched right down
to the bottom of the flight. That's how his head came in for it. He
wants a nurse with him always, does Jenkins, for he is no better than a
child in leading-strings."

"Is he much hurt?"

"And there he'd have lain till morning, but for the bishop," resumed
Mrs. Jenkins, passing over the inquiry. "After his lordship got out,
he, finding Jenkins did not come, told Thorpe to go and look for him in
the organ-loft. Thorpe said he should have done nothing of the sort,
but for the bishop's order; he was just going to lock the great doors
again, and there Jenkins would have been fast! They found him lying at
the foot of the stairs, just inside the choir gates, with no more life
in him than there is in a dead man."

"I asked you whether he is seriously hurt, Mrs. Jenkins."

"Pretty well. He came to his senses as they were bringing him home, and
somebody ran for Hurst, the surgeon. He is better this morning."

"But not well enough to come to business?"

"Hurst told him if he worried himself with business, or anything else
to-day, he'd get brain fever as sure as a gun. He ordered him to stop
in bed and keep quiet, if he could."

"Of course he must do so," observed Mr. Galloway.

"There is no of course in it, when men are the actors," dissented Mrs.
Jenkins. "Hurst did well to say 'if he could,' when ordering him to
keep quiet. I'd rather have an animal ill in the house, than I'd have a
man--they are ten times more reasonable. There has Jenkins been,
tormenting himself ever since seven o'clock this morning about coming
here; he was wanted particularly, he said. 'Would you go if you were
dead?' I asked him; and he stood it out that if he were dead it would
be a different thing. 'Not different at all,' I said. A nice thing it
would be to have to nurse him through a brain fever!"

"I am grieved that it should have happened," said Mr. Galloway, kindly.
"Tell him from me, that we can manage very well without him. He must
not venture here again, until Mr. Hurst says he may come with safety."

"I should have told him that, to pacify him, whether you had said it or
not," candidly avowed Mrs. Jenkins. "And now I must go back home on the
run. As good have no one to mind my shop as that young house-girl of
ours. If a customer comes in for a pair of black stockings, she'll take
and give 'em a white knitted nightcap. She's as deficient of common
sense as Jenkins is. Your servant, sir. Good morning, young gentlemen!"

"Here, wait a minute!" cried Mr. Galloway, as she was speeding off. "I
cannot understand at all. The keys could not have been changed as they
lay on the flags."

"Neither can anybody else understand it," returned Mrs. Jenkins. "If
Jenkins was not a sober man--and he had better let me catch him being
anything else!--I should say the two, him and Ketch, had had a drop too
much. The bishop himself could make neither top nor tail of it. It'll
teach Jenkins not to go gallivanting again after other folk's

She finally turned away, and Mr. Galloway set himself to revolve the
perplexing narrative. The more he thought, the less he was nearer doing
so; like the bishop, he could make neither top nor tail of it. "It is
entirely beyond belief!" he remarked to Arthur Channing; "unless Ketch
took out the wrong keys!"

"And if he took out the wrong keys, how could he have locked the south
door?" interrupted Roland Yorke. "I'd lay anybody five shillings that
those mischievous scamps of college boys were at the bottom of it; I
taxed Gerald with it, and he flew out at me for my pains. But the
seniors may not have been in it. You should have heard the bell clank
out last night, Mr. Galloway!"

"I suppose it brought out a few," was Mr. Galloway's rejoinder.

"It did that," said Arthur Channing. "Myself for one. When I saw the
bishop emerge from the college doors, I could scarcely believe my

"I'd have given half-a-crown to see him!" cried Roland Yorke. "If
there's any fun going on, it is sure to be my fate to miss it. Cator
was at my house, having a cigar with me; and, though we heard the bell,
we did not disturb ourselves to see what it might mean."

"What is your opinion of last night's work, Arthur?" asked Mr.
Galloway, returning to the point.

Arthur's opinion was a very decided one, but he did not choose to say
so. The meeting with the college boys at their stealthy post in the
cloisters, when he and Hamish were passing through at dusk, a few
nights before, coupled with the hints then thrown out of the "serving
out" of Ketch, could leave little doubt as to the culprits. Arthur
returned an answer, couched in general terms.

"Could it have been the college boys, think you?" debated Mr. Galloway.

"Not being a college boy, I cannot speak positively, sir," he said,
laughing. "Gaunt knows nothing of it. I met him as I was going home to
breakfast from my early hour's work here, and he told me he did not.
There would have been no harm done, after all, but for the accident to

"One of you gentlemen can just step in to see Jenkins in the course of
the day, and reassure him that he is not wanted," said Mr. Galloway. "I
know how necessary it is to keep the mind tranquil in any fear of brain

No more was said, and the occupation of the day began. A busy day was
that at Mr. Galloway's, much to the chagrin of Roland Yorke, who had an
unconquerable objection to doing too much. He broke out into grumblings
at Arthur, when the latter came running in from his duty at college.

"I'll tell you what is, Channing; you ought not to have made the
bargain to go to that bothering organ on busy days; and Galloway must
have been out of his mind to let you make it. Look at the heap of work
there is to do!"

"I will soon make up for the lost hour," said Arthur, setting to with a
will. "Where's Mr. Galloway?"

"Gone to the bank," grumbled Roland. "And I have had to answer a dozen
callers-in at least, and do all my writing besides. I wonder what
possessed Jenkins to go and knock his head to powder?"

Mr. Galloway shortly returned, and sat down to write. It was a thing he
rarely did; he left writing to his clerks, unless it was the writing of
letters. By one o'clock the chief portion of the work was done, and Mr.
Roland Yorke's spirits recovered their elasticity. He went home to
dinner, as usual. Arthur preferred to remain at his post, and get on
further, sending the housekeeper's little maid out for a twopenny roll,
which he ate as he wrote. He was of a remarkably conscientious nature,
and thought it only fair to sacrifice a little time in case of need, in
return for the great favour which had been granted him by Mr. Galloway.
Many of the families who had sons in the college school dined at one
o'clock, as it was the most convenient hour for the boys. Growing
youths are not satisfied with anything less substantial than a dinner
in the middle of the day, and two dinners in a household tell heavily
upon the house-keeping. The Channings did not afford two, neither did
Lady Augusta Yorke; so their hour was one o'clock.

"What a muff you must be to go without your dinner!" cried Roland Yorke
to Arthur, when he returned at two o'clock. "I wouldn't."

"I have had my dinner," said Arthur.

"What did you have?" cried Roland, pricking up his ears. "Did Galloway
send to the hotel for roast ducks and green peas? That's what we had at
home, and the peas were half-boiled, and the ducks were scorched, and
cooked without stuffing. A wretched set of incapables our house turns
out! and my lady does not know how to alter it. You have actually
finished that deed, Channing?"

"It is finished, you see. It is surprising how much one can do in a
quiet hour!"

"Is Galloway out?"

Arthur pointed with his pen to the door of Mr. Galloway's private room,
to indicate that he was in it. "He is writing letters."

"I say, Channing, there's positively nothing left to do," went on
Roland, casting his eyes over the desk. "Here are these leases, but
they are not wanted until to-morrow. Who says we can't work in this

Arthur laughed good-naturedly, to think of the small amount, out of
that day's work, which had fallen to Roland's share.

Some time elapsed. Mr. Galloway came into their room from his own to
consult a "Bradshaw," which lay on the shelf, alongside Jenkins's desk.
He held in his hand a very closely-written letter. It was of large,
letter-paper size, and appeared to be filled to the utmost of its four
pages. While he was looking at the book, the cathedral clock chimed the
three-quarters past two, and the bell rang for divine service.

"It can never be that time of day!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway, in
consternation, as he took out his watch. "Sixteen minutes to three! and
I am a minute slow! How has the time passed? I ought to have been at--"

Mr. Galloway brought his words to a standstill, apparently too absorbed
in the railway guide to conclude them. Roland Yorke, who had a free
tongue, even with his master, filled up the pause.

"Were you going out, sir?"

"Is that any business of yours, Mr. Roland? Talking won't fill in that
lease, sir."

"The lease is not in a hurry, sir," returned incorrigible Roland. But
he held his tongue then, and bent his head over his work.

Mr. Galloway dipped his pen in the ink, and copied something from
"Bradshaw" into the closely-written letter, standing at Jenkins's desk
to do it; then he passed the blotting-paper quickly over the words, and
folded the letter.

"Channing," he said, speaking very hastily, "you will see a
twenty-pound bank-note on my desk, and the directed envelope of this
letter; bring them here."

Arthur went, and brought forth the envelope and bank-note. Mr. Galloway
doubled the note in four and slipped it between the folds of the
letter, putting both into the envelope. He had fastened it down, when a
loud noise and commotion was heard in the street. Curious as are said
to be antiquated maidens, Mr. Galloway rushed to the window and threw
it up, his two clerks attending in his wake.

Something very fine, in a white dress, and pink and scarlet flowers on
her bonnetless head, as if attired for an evening party, was whirling
round the middle of the road in circles: a tall woman, who must once
have been beautiful. She appeared to be whirling someone else with her,
amid laughter and shrieks, and cries and groans, from the gathering

"It is Mad Nance!" uttered Mr. Galloway. "Poor thing! she really ought
to be in confinement."

So every one had said for a long time, but no one bestirred themselves
to place her in it. This unfortunate creature, Mad Nance, as she was
called, was sufficiently harmless to be at large on sufferance, and
sufficiently mad at times to put a street in an uproar. In her least
sane moments she would appear, as now, in an old dimity white dress,
scrupulously washed and ironed, and decorated with innumerable frills;
some natural flowers, generally wild ones, in her hair. Dandelions were
her favourites; she would make them into a wreath, and fasten it on,
letting her entangled hair hang beneath. To-day she had contrived to
pick up some geranium blossoms, scarlet and pink.

"Who has she got hold of there?" exclaimed Mr. Galloway. "He does not
seem to like it."

Arthur burst into laughter when he discovered that it was Harper, the
lay-clerk. This unlucky gentleman, who had been quietly and
inoffensively proceeding up Close Street on his way to service in the
cathedral, was seized upon by Mad Nance by the hands. He was a thin,
weak little man, a very reed in her strong grasp. She shrieked, she
laughed, she danced, she flew with him round and round. He shrieked
also; his hat was off, his wig was gone; and it was half the business
of Mr. Harper's life to make that wig appear as his own hair. He
talked, he raved, he remonstrated; I am very much afraid that he swore.
Mr. Galloway laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks.

The crowd was parted by an authoritative hand, and the same hand,
gentle now, laid its firmness upon the woman and released the prisoner.
It was Hamish Channing who had come to the rescue, suppressing his
mirth as he best could while he effected it.

"I'll have the law of her!" panted Harper, as he picked up his hat and
wig. "If there's justice to be got in Helstonleigh, she shall suffer
for this! It's a town's shame to let her go about, molesting peaceable
wayfarers, and shaking the life out of them!"

Something at a distance appeared to attract the attention of the
unhappy woman, and she flew away. Hamish and Mr. Harper were left alone
in the streets, the latter still exploding with wrath, and vowing all
sorts of revenge.

"Put up with it quietly, Harper," advised Hamish. "She is like a little
child, not accountable for her actions."

"That's just like you, Mr. Hamish Channing. If they took your head off,
you'd put up with it! How would you like your wig flung away in the
sight of a whole street?"

"I don't wear one," answered Hamish, laughing. "Here's your hat; not
much damaged, apparently."

Mr. Harper, settling his wig on his head, and composing himself as he
best could, continued his way to the cathedral, turning his hat about
in his hand, and closely looking at it. Hamish stepped across to Mr.
Galloway's, meeting that gentleman at the door.

"A good thing you came up as you did, Mr. Hamish. Harper will remember
Mad Nance for a year to come."

"I expect he will," replied Hamish, laughing still. Mr. Galloway
laughed also, and walked hastily down the street.



Hamish entered the office. Arthur and Roland Yorke had their heads
stretched out of the window, and did not hear his footsteps. He
advanced quietly and brought his hands down hastily upon the shoulder
of each. Roland started, and knocked his head against the window-frame.

"How you startle a fellow! I thought it was Mad Nance come in to lay
hands upon me."

"She has laid hands upon enough for one day," said Hamish. "Harper will
dream of her to-night."

"I thought Galloway would have gone into a fit, he laughed so," cried
Arthur. "As for my sides, they'll ache for an hour."

Roland Yorke's lip curled with an angry expression. "My opinion agrees
with Harper's," he said. "I think Mad Nance ought to be punished. We
are none of us safe from her, if this is to be her game."

"If you punish her to-day, she would do the same again to-morrow, were
the fit to come over her," rejoined Hamish. "It is not often she breaks
out like this. The only thing is to steer clear of her."

"Hamish has a fellow-feeling for Mad Nance," mockingly spoke Roland

"Yes, poor thing! for her story is a sad one. If the same grievous
wrong were worked upon some of us, perhaps we might take to dancing for
the benefit of the public. Talking of the public, Arthur," continued
Hamish, turning to his brother, "what became of you at dinner-time? The
mother was for setting the town-crier to work."

"I could not get home to-day. We have had double work to do, as Jenkins
is away."

Hamish tilted himself on to the edge of Mr. Jenkins's desk, and took up
the letter, apparently in absence of mind, which Mr. Galloway had left
there, ready for the post. "Mr. Robert Galloway, Sea View Terrace,
Ventnor, Isle of Wight," he read aloud. "That must be Mr. Galloway's
cousin," he remarked: "the one who has run through so much money."

"Of course it is," answered Roland Yorke. "Galloway pretty near keeps
him: I know there's a twenty-pound bank-note going to him in that
letter. Catch me doing it if I were Galloway."

"I wish it was going into my pocket instead," said Hamish, balancing
the letter on his fingers, as if wishing to test its weight.

"I wish the clouds would drop sovereigns! But they don't," said Roland

Hamish put the letter back from whence he had taken it, and jumped off
the desk. "I must be walking," said he. "Stopping here will not do my
work. If we--"

"By Jove! there's Knivett!" uttered Roland Yorke. "Where's he off to,
so fast? I have something that I must tell him."

Snatching up his hat, Roland darted at full speed out of the office, in
search of one who was running at full speed also down the street.
Hamish looked out, amused, at the chase; Arthur, who had called after
Roland in vain, seemed vexed. "Knivett is one of the fleetest runners
in Helstonleigh," said Hamish. "Yorke will scarcely catch him up."

"I wish Yorke would allow himself a little thought, and not act upon
impulse," exclaimed Arthur. "I cannot stop three minutes longer: and he
knows that! I shall be late for college."

He was already preparing to go there. Putting some papers in order upon
his desk, and locking up others, he carried the letter for Ventnor into
Mr. Galloway's private room and placed it in the letter rack. Two
others, ready for the post, were lying there. Then he went to the front
door to look out for Yorke. Yorke was not to be seen.

"What a thoughtless fellow he is!" exclaimed Arthur, in his vexation.
"What is to be done? Hamish, you will have to stop here."

"Thank you! what else?" asked Hamish.

"I must be at the college, whatever betide." This was true: yet neither
might the office be left vacant. Arthur grew a little flurried. "Do
stay, Hamish: it will not hinder you five minutes, I dare say. Yorke is
sure to be in."

Hamish came to the door, halting on its first step, and looking out
over Arthur's shoulder. He drew his head in again with a sudden

"Is not that old Hopper down there?" he asked, in a whisper, the tone
sounding as one of fear.

Arthur turned his eyes on a shabby old man who was crossing the end of
the street, and saw Hopper, the sheriff's officer. "Yes, why?"

"It is that old fellow who holds the writ. He may be on the watch for
me now. I can't go out just yet, Arthur; I'll stay here till Yorke
comes back again."

He returned to the office, sat down and leaned his brow upon his hand.
A strange brow of care it was just then, according ill with the gay
face of Hamish Channing. Arthur, waiting for no second permission, flew
towards the cathedral as fast as his long legs would carry him. The
dean and chapter were preparing to leave the chapter-house as he tore
past it, through the cloisters. Three o'clock was striking. Arthur's
heart and breath were alike panting when he gained the dark stairs. At
that moment, to his excessive astonishment, the organ began to peal

Seated at it was Mr. Williams; and a few words of explanation ensued.
The organist said he should remain for the service, which rendered
Arthur at liberty to go back again.

He was retracing his steps underneath the elm-trees in the Boundaries
at a slower pace than he had recently passed them, when, in turning a
corner, he came face to face with the sheriff's officer. Arthur, whose
thoughts were at that moment fixed upon Hamish and his difficulties,
started away from the man, with an impulse for which he could not have

"No need for you to be frightened of me, Mr. Arthur," said the man,
who, in his more palmy days, before he had learnt to take more than was
good for him, had been a clerk in Mr. Channing's office. "I have
nothing about me that will bite you."

He laid a stress upon the "you" in both cases. Arthur understood only
too well what was meant, though he would not appear to do so.

"Nor any one else, either, I hope, Hopper. A warm day, is it not!"

Hopper drew close to Arthur, not looking at him, apparently examining
with hands and eyes the trunk of the elm-tree underneath which they had
halted. "You tell your brother not to put himself in my way," said he,
in a low tone, his lips scarcely moving. "He is in a bit of trouble, as
I suppose you know."

"Yes," breathed Arthur.

"Well, I don't want to serve the writ upon him; I won't serve it unless
he makes me, by throwing himself within length of my arm. If he sees me
coming up one street, let him cut down another; into a shop; anywhere;
I have eyes that only see when I want them to. I come prowling about
here once or twice a day for show, but I come at a time when I am
pretty sure he can't be seen; just gone out, or just gone in. I'd
rather not harm him."

"You are not so considerate to all," said Arthur, after a pause given
to revolving the words, and to wondering whether they were spoken in
good faith, or with some concealed purpose. He could not decide which.

"No, I am not," pointedly returned Hopper, in answer. "There are some
that I look after, sharp as a ferret looks after a rat, but I'll never
do that by any son of Mr. Channing's. I can't forget the old days, sir,
when your father was kind to me. He stood by me longer than my own
friends did. But for him, I should have starved in that long illness I
had, when the office would have me no longer. Why doesn't Mr. Hamish
settle this?" he abruptly added.

"I suppose he cannot," answered Arthur.

"It is only a bagatelle at the worst, and our folks would not have gone
to extremities if he had shown only a disposition to settle. I am sure
that if he would go to them now, and pay down a ten-pound note, and
say, 'You shall have the rest as I can get it,' they'd withdraw
proceedings; ay, even for five pounds I believe they would. Tell him to
do it, Mr. Arthur; tell him I always know which way the wind blows with
our people."

"I will tell him, but I fear he is very short of money just now. Five
or ten pounds may be as impossible to find, sometimes, as five or ten

"Better find it than be locked up," said Hopper. "How would the office
get on? Deprive him of the power of management, and it might cost Mr.
Channing his place. What use is a man when he is in prison? I was in
Mr. Channing's office for ten years, Mr. Arthur, and I know every trick
and turn in it, though I have left it a good while. And now that I have
just said this, I'll go on my way. Mind you tell him."

"Thank you," warmly replied Arthur.

"And when you have told him, please to forget that you have heard it.
There's somebody's eyes peering at me over the deanery blinds. They may
peer! I don't mind them; deaneries don't trouble themselves with
sheriff's officers."

He glided away, and Arthur went straight to the office. Hamish was
alone; he was seated at Jenkins's desk, writing a note.

"You here still, Hamish! Where's Yorke?"

"Echo answers where," replied Hamish, who appeared to have recovered
his full flow of spirits. "I have seen nothing of him."

"That's Yorke all over! it is too bad."

"It would be, were this a busy afternoon with me. But what brings you
back, Mr. Arthur? Have you left the organ to play itself?"

"Williams is taking it; he heard of Jenkins's accident, and thought I
might not be able to get away from the office twice today, so he
attended himself."

"Come, that's good-natured of Williams! A bargain's a bargain, and,
having made the bargain, of course it is your own look-out that you
fulfil it. Yes, it was considerate of Williams."

"Considerate for himself," laughed Arthur. "He did not come down to
give me holiday, but in the fear that Mr. Galloway might prevent my
attending. 'A pretty thing it would have been,' he said to me, 'had
there been no organist this afternoon; it might have cost me my post.'"

"Moonshine!" said Hamish. "It might have cost him a word of reproof;
nothing more."

"Helstonleigh's dean is a strict one, remember. I told Williams he
might always depend upon me."

"What should you have done, pray, had I not been here to turn
office-keeper?" laughed Hamish.

"Of the two duties I must have obeyed the more important one. I should
have locked up the office and given the key to the housekeeper till
college was over, or until Yorke returned. He deserves something for
this move. Has any one called?"

"No. Arthur, I have been making free with a sheet of paper and an
envelope," said Hamish, completing the note he was writing. "I suppose
I am welcome to it?"

"To ten, if you want them," returned Arthur. "To whom are you writing?"

"As if I should put you _au courant_ of my love-letters!" gaily
answered Hamish.

How could Hamish indulge in this careless gaiety with a sword hanging
over his head? It was verily a puzzle to Arthur. A light, sunny nature
was Hamish Channing's. This sobering blow which had fallen on it had
probably not come before it was needed. Had his bark been sailing for
ever in smooth waters, he might have wasted his life, indolently
basking on the calm, seductive waves. But the storm rose, the waves ran
high, threatening to engulf him, and Hamish knew that his best energies
must be put forth to surmount them. Never, never talk of troubles as
great, unmitigated evils: to the God-fearing, the God-trusting, they
are fraught with hidden love.

"Hamish, were I threatened with worry, as you are, I could not be
otherwise than oppressed and serious."

"Where would be the use of that?" cried gay Hamish. "Care killed a cat.
Look here, Arthur, you and your grave face! Did you ever know care do a
fellow good? I never did: but a great deal of harm. I shall manage to
scramble out of the pit somehow. You'll see." He put the note into his
pocket, as he spoke, and took up his hat to depart.

"Stop an instant longer, Hamish. I have just met Hopper."

"He did not convert you into a writ-server, I hope. I don't think it
would be legal."

"There you are, joking again! Hamish, he has the writ, but he does not
wish to serve it. You are to keep out of his way, he says, and he will
not seek to put himself in yours. My father was kind to him in days
gone by, and he remembers it now."

"He's a regular trump! I'll send him half-a-crown in a parcel,"
exclaimed Hamish.

"I wish you would hear me out. He says a ten-pound note, perhaps a
five-pound note, on account, would induce 'his people'--suppose you
understand the phrase--to stay proceedings, and to give you time. He
strongly advises it to be done. That's all."

Not only all Arthur had to say upon the point, but all he had time to
say. At that moment, the barouche of Lady Augusta Yorke drove up to the
door, and they both went out to it. Lady Augusta, her daughter Fanny,
and Constance Channing were in it. She was on her way to attend a
missionary meeting at the Guildhall, and had called for Roland, that he
might escort her into the room.

"Roland is not to be found, Lady Augusta," said Hamish, raising his hat
with one of his sunny smiles. "He darted off, it is impossible to say
where, thereby making me a prisoner. My brother had to attend the
cathedral, and there was no one to keep office."

"Then I think I must make a prisoner of you in turn, Mr. Hamish
Channing," graciously said Lady Augusta. "Will you accompany us?"

Hamish shook his head. "I wish I could; but I have already wasted more
time than I ought to have done."

"It will not cost you five minutes more," urged Lady Augusta. "You
shall only just take us into the hall; I will release you then, if you
must be released. Three ladies never can go in alone--fancy how we
should be stared at!"

Constance bent her pretty face forward. "Do, Hamish, if you can!"

He suffered himself to be persuaded, stepped into the barouche, and
took his seat by Lady Augusta. As they drove away, Arthur thought the
greatest ornament the carriage contained had been added to it in
handsome Hamish.

A full hour Arthur worked on at his deeds and leases, and Roland Yorke
never returned. Mr. Galloway came in then. "Where's Yorke?" was his
first question.

Arthur replied that he did not know; he had "stepped out" somewhere.
Arthur Channing was not one to make mischief, or get another into
trouble. Mr. Galloway asked no further; he probably inferred that Yorke
had only just gone. He sat down at Jenkins's desk, and began to read
over a lease.

"Can I have the stamps, sir, for this deed?" Arthur presently asked.

"They are not ready. Have the letters gone to the post?"

"Not yet, sir."

"You can take them now, then. And, Arthur, suppose you step in, as you
return, and see how Jenkins is."

"Very well, sir." He went into Mr. Galloway's room, and brought forth
the three letters from the rack. "Is this one not to be sealed?" he
inquired of Mr. Galloway, indicating the one directed to Ventnor, for
it was Mr. Galloway's invariable custom to seal letters which contained
money, after they had been gummed down. "It is doubly safe," he would

"Ay, to be sure," replied Mr. Galloway. "I went off in a hurry, and did
not do it. Bring me the wax."

Arthur handed him the wax and a light. Mr. Galloway sealed the letter,
stamping it with the seal hanging to his watch-chain. He then held out
his hand for another of the letters, and sealed that. "And this one
also?" inquired Arthur, holding out the third.

"No. You can take them now."

Arthur departed. A few paces from the door he met Roland Yorke, coming
along in a white heat.

"Channing, I could not help it--I could not, upon my honour. I had to
go somewhere with Knivett, and we were kept till now. Galloway's in an
awful rage, I suppose?"

"He has only just come in. You had no right to play me this trick,
Yorke. But for Hamish, I must have locked up the office. Don't you do
it again, or Mr. Galloway may hear of it."

"It is all owing to that confounded Jenkins!" flashed Roland. "Why did
he go and get his head smashed? You are a good fellow, Arthur. I'll do
you a neighbourly turn, some time."

He sped into the office, and Arthur walked to the post with the
letters. Coming back, he turned into Mrs. Jenkins's shop in the High

Mrs. Jenkins was behind the counter. "Oh, go up! go up and see him!"
she cried, in a tone of suppressed passion. "His bedroom's front, up
the two-pair flight, and I'll take my affidavit that there's been fifty
folks here this day to see him, if there has been one. I could sow a
peck of peas on the stairs! You'll find other company up there."

Arthur groped his way up the stairs; they were dark too, coming in from
the sunshine. He found the room, and entered. Jenkins lay in bed, his
bandaged head upon the pillow; and, seated by his side, his apron
falling, and his clerical hat held between his knees, was the Bishop of



Amongst other facts, patent to common and uncommon sense, is the very
obvious one that a man cannot be in two places at once. In like manner,
no author, that I ever heard of, was able to relate two different
portions of his narrative at one and the same time. Thus you will
readily understand, that if I devoted the last chapter to Mr. Galloway,
his clerks and their concerns generally, it could not be given to Mr.
Ketch and _his_ concerns; although in the strict, order of time and
sequence, the latter gentleman might have claimed an equal, if not a
premier right.

Mr. Ketch stood in his lodge, leaning for support upon the shut-up
press-bedstead, which, by day, looked like a high chest of drawers with
brass handles, his eyes fixed on the keys, hanging on the opposite
nail. His state of mind may be best expressed by the strong epithet,
"savage." Mr. Ketch had not a pleasant face at the best of times: it
was yellow and withered; and his small bright eyes were always dropping
water; and the two or three locks of hair, which he still possessed,
were faded, and stood out, solitary and stiff, after the manner of
those pictures you have seen of heathens who decorate their heads with
upright tails. At this moment his countenance looked particularly

Mr. Ketch had spent part of the night and the whole of this morning
revolving the previous evening's affair of the cloisters. The more he
thought of it, the less he liked it, and the surer grew his conviction
that the evil had been the work of his enemies, the college boys.

"It's as safe as day," he wrathfully soliloquized. "There be the right
keys," nodding to the two on the wall, "and there be the wrong ones,"
nodding towards an old knife-tray, into which he had angrily thrown the
rusty keys, upon entering his lodge last night, accompanied by the
crowd. "They meant to lock me up all night in the cloisters, the wicked
cannibals! I hope the dean'll expel 'em! I'll make my complaint to the
head-master, I will! Drat all college schools! there's never no good
done in 'em!"

"How are you this morning, Ketch?"

The salutation proceeded from Stephen Bywater, who, in the boisterous
manner peculiar to himself and his tribe, had flung open the door
without the ceremony of knocking.

"I'm none the better for seeing you," growled Ketch.

"You need not be uncivil," returned Bywater, with great suavity. "I am
only making a morning call upon you, after the fashion of gentlefolks;
the public delights to pay respect to its officials, you know. How _do_
you feel after that mishap last night? We can't think, any of us, how
you came to make the mistake."

"I'll 'mistake' you!" shrieked Ketch. "I kep' a nasty old, rusty brace
o' keys in my lodge to take out, instead o' the right ones, didn't I?"

"How uncommonly stupid it was of you to do so!" said Bywater,
pretending to take the remark literally. "_I_ would not keep a
duplicate pair of keys by me--I should make sure they'd bring me to
grief. What do you say? You did _not_ keep duplicate keys--they were
false ones! Why, that's just what we all told you last night. The
bishop told you so. He said he knew you had made a mistake, and taken
out the wrong keys for the right. My belief is, that you went out
without any keys at all. You left them hanging upon the nail, and you
found them there. You had not got a second pair!"

"You just wait!" raved old Ketch. "I'm a-coming round to the
head-master, and I'll bring the keys with me. He'll let you boys know
whether there's two pairs, or one. Horrid old rusty things they be; as
rusty as you!"

"Who says they are rusty?"

"Who says it! They _are_ rusty!" shrieked the old man. "You'd like to
get me into a madhouse, you boys would, worrying me! I'll show you
whether they're rusty! I'll show you whether there's a second brace o'
keys or not. I'll show 'em to the head-master! I'll show 'em to the
dean! I'll show 'em again to his lordship the bi--What's gone of the

The last sentence was uttered in a different tone and in apparent
perplexity. With shaking hands, excited by passion, Mr. Ketch was
rummaging the knife-box--an old, deep, mahogany tray, dark with age,
divided by a partition--rummaging for the rusty keys. He could not find
them. He searched on this side, he searched on that; he pulled out the
contents, one by one: a black-handled knife, a white-handled fork, a
green-handled knife with a broken point, and a brown-handled fork with
one prong, which comprised his household cutlery; a small whetstone, a
comb and a blacking-brush, a gimlet and a small hammer, some leather
shoe-strings, three or four tallow candles, a match-box and an
extinguisher, the key of his door, the bolt of his casement window, and
a few other miscellanies. He could not come upon the false keys, and,
finally, he made a snatch at the tray, and turned it upside down. The
keys were not there.

When he had fully taken in the fact--it cost him some little time to do
it--he turned his anger upon Bywater.

"You have took 'em, you have! you have turned thief, and stole 'em! I
put 'em here in the knife-box, and they are gone! What have you done
with 'em?"

"Come, that's good!" exclaimed Bywater, in too genuine a tone to admit
a suspicion of its truth. "I have not been near your knife-box; I have
not put my foot inside the door."

In point of fact, Bywater had not. He had stood outside, bending his
head and body inwards, his hands grasping either door-post.

"What's gone with 'em? who 'as took 'em off? I'll swear I put 'em
there, and I have never looked at 'em nor touched 'em since! There's an
infamous conspiracy forming against me! I'm going to be blowed up, like
Guy Fawkes!"

"If you did put them there--'_if_,' you know--some of your friends must
have taken them," cried Bywater, in a tone midway between reason and

"There haven't a soul been nigh the place," shrieked Ketch.

"Except the milk, and he gave me my ha'porth through the winder."

"Hurrah!" said Bywater, throwing up his trencher. "It's a clear case of
dreams. You dreamt you had a second pair of keys, Ketch, and couldn't
get rid of the impression on awaking. Mr. Ketch, D.H., Dreamer-in-chief
to Helstonleigh!"

Bywater commenced an aggravating dance. Ketch was aggravated
sufficiently without it. "What d'ye call me?" he asked, in a state of
concentrated temper that turned his face livid. "'D?' What d'ye mean by
'D?' D stands for that bad sperit as is too near to you college boys;
he's among you always, like a ranging lion. It's like your impedence to
call me by his name."

"My dear Mr. Ketch! call _you_ by his name! I never thought of such a
thing," politely retorted Bywater. "You are not promoted to that honour
yet. D.H., stands for Deputy-Hangman. Isn't it affixed to the cathedral
roll, kept amid the archives in the chapter-house"--John Ketch, D.H.,
porter to the cloisters! "I hope you don't omit the distinguishing
initials when you sign your letters?"

Ketch foamed. Bywater danced. The former could not find words. The
latter found plenty.

"I say, though, Mr. Calcraft, don't you make a similar mistake when you
are going on public duty. If you were to go _there_, dreaming you had
the right apparatus, and find, in the last moment, that you had brought
the wrong, you don't know what the consequences might be. The real
victim might escape, rescued by the enraged crowd, and they might put
the nightcap upon you, and operate upon you instead! So, be careful. We
couldn't afford to lose you. Only think, what a lot of money it would
cost to put the college into mourning!"

Ketch gave a great gasp of agony, threw an iron ladle at his tormentor,
which, falling short of its aim, came clanking down on the red-brick
floor, and banged the door in Bywater's face. Bywater withdrew to a
short distance, under cover of the cathedral wall, and bent his body
backwards and forwards with the violence of his laughter, unconscious
that the Bishop of Helstonleigh was standing near him, surveying him
with an exceedingly amused expression. His lordship had been an
ear-witness to part of the colloquy, very much to his edification.

"What is your mirth, Bywater?"

Bywater drew himself straight, and turned round as if he had been shot.
"I was only laughing, my lord," he said, touching his trencher.

"I see you were; you will lose your breath altogether some day, if you
laugh in that violent manner. What were you and Ketch quarrelling

"We were not quarrelling, my lord. I was only chaff--teasing him,"
rejoined Bywater, substituting one word for the other, as if fearing
the first might not altogether be suited to the bishop's ears; "and
Ketch fell into a passion."

"As he often does, I fear," remarked his lordship. "I fancy you boys
provoke him unjustifiably."

"My lord," said Bywater, turning his red, impudent, but honest face
full upon the prelate, "I don't deny that we do provoke him; but you
can have no idea what an awful tyrant he is to us. I can't believe any
one was ever born with such a cross-grained temper. He vents it upon
every one: not only upon the college boys, but upon all who come in his
way. If your lordship were not the bishop," added bold Bywater, "he
would vent it upon you."

"Would he?" said the bishop, who was a dear lover of candour, and would
have excused a whole bushel of mischief, rather than one little grain
of falsehood.

"Not a day passes, but he sets upon us with his tongue. He would keep
us out of the cloisters; he would keep us out of our own schoolroom. He
goes to the head-master with the most unfounded cram--stories, and when
the master declines to notice them (for he knows Ketch of old), then he
goes presumingly to the dean. If he let us alone, we should let him
alone. I am not speaking this in the light of a complaint to your
lordship," Bywater added, throwing his head back. "I don't want to get
him into a row, tyrant though he is; and the college boys can hold
their own against Ketch."

"I expect they can," significantly replied the bishop. "He would keep
you out of the cloisters, would he?"

"He is aiming at it," returned Bywater. "There never would have been a
word said about our playing there, but for him. If the dean shuts us
out, it will be Ketch's doings. The college boys have played in the
cloisters since the school was founded."

"He would keep you out of the cloisters; so, by way of retaliation, you
lock him into them--an uncomfortable place of abode for a night,

"My lord!" cried Bywater.

"Sir!" responded his lordship.

"Does your lordship think it was I who played that trick on Ketch?"

"Yes, I do--speaking of you conjointly with the school."

Bywater's eyes and his good-humoured countenance fell before the steady
gaze of the prelate. But in the gaze there was an earnest--if Bywater
could read it aright--of good feeling, of excuse for the mischief,
rather than of punishment in store. The boy's face was red enough at
all times, but it turned to scarlet now. If the bishop had before
suspected the share played in the affair by the college boys, it had by
this time been converted into a certainty.

"Boy," said he, "confess it if you like, be silent if you like; but do
not tell me a lie."

Bywater turned up his face again. His free, fearless eyes--free in the
cause of daring, but fearless in that of truth--looked straight into
those of the bishop. "I never do tell lies," he answered. "There's not
a boy in the school punished oftener than I am; and I don't say but I
generally deserve it! but it is never for telling a lie. If I did tell
them, I should slip out of many a scrape that I am punished for now."

The bishop could read truth as well as any one--better than many--and
he saw that it was being told to him now. "Which of you must be
punished for this trick as ringleader?" he asked.

"I, my lord, if any one must be," frankly avowed Bywater. "We should
have let him out at ten o'clock. We never meant to keep him there all
night. If I am punished, I hope your lordship will be so kind as allow
it to be put down to your own account, not to Ketch's. I should not
like it to be thought that I caught it for _him_. I heartily beg your
pardon, my lord, for having been so unfortunate as to include you in
the locking-up. We are all as sorry as can be, that it should have
happened. I am ready to take any punishment, for that, that you may
order me."

"Ah!" said the bishop, "had you known that I was in the cloisters, your
friend Ketch would have come off scot free!"

"Yes, that he would, until--"

"Until what?" asked the bishop, for Bywater had brought his words to a

"Until a more convenient night, I was going to say, my lord."

"Well, that's candid," said the bishop. "Bywater," he gravely added,
"you have spoken the truth to me freely. Had you equivocated in the
slightest degree, I should have punished you for the equivocation. As
it is, I shall look upon this as a confidential communication, and
_not_ order you punishment. But we will not have any more tricks played
at locking up Ketch. You understand?"

"All right, my lord. Thank you a hundred times."

Bywater, touching his trencher, leaped off. The bishop turned to enter
his palace gates, which were close by, and encountered Ketch talking to
the head-master. The latter had been passing the lodge, when he was
seen and pounced upon by Ketch, who thought it a good opportunity to
make his complaint.

"I am as morally sure it was them, sir, as I am that I be alive." he
was saying when the bishop came up. "And I don't know who they has
dealings with; but, for certain, they have sperited away them rusty
keys what did the mischief, without so much as putting one o' their
noses inside my lodge. I placed 'em safe in the knife-box last night,
and they're gone this morning. I hope, sir, you'll punish them as they
deserve. I am nothing, of course. If they had locked me up, and kept me
there till I was worn to a skeleton, it might be thought light of; but
his lordship, the bishop"--bowing sideways to the prelate--"was a
sufferer by their wickedness."

"To be sure I was," said the bishop, in a grave tone, but with a
twinkle in his eye; "and therefore the complaint to Mr. Pye must be
preferred by me, Ketch. We will talk of it when I have leisure," he
added to Mr. Pye, with a pleasant nod, as he went through the palace

The head-master bowed to the bishop, and walked away, leaving Ketch on
the growl.

Meanwhile, Bywater, flying through the cloisters, came upon Hurst, and
two or three more of the conspirators. The time was between nine and
ten o'clock. The boys had been home for breakfast after early school,
and were now reassembling, but they did not go into school until a
quarter before ten.

"He is such a glorious old trump, that bishop!" burst forth Bywater.
"He knows all about it, and is not going to put us up for punishment.
Let's cut round to the palace gates and cheer him."

"Knows that it was us!" echoed the startled boys. "How did it come out
to him?" asked Hurst.

"He guessed it, I think," said Bywater, "and he taxed me with it. So I
couldn't help myself, and told him I'd take the punishment; and he said
he'd excuse us, but there was to be no locking up of Mr. Calcraft
again. I'd lay a hundred guineas the bishop went in for scrapes
himself, when he was a boy!" emphatically added Bywater. "I'll be bound
he thinks we only served the fellow right. Hurrah for the bishop!"

"Hurrah for the bishop!" shouted Hurst, with the other chorus of
voices. "Long life to him! He's made of the right sort of stuff! I say,
though, Jenkins is the worst," added Hurst, his note changing. "My
father says he doesn't know but what brain fever will come on."

"Moonshine!" laughed the boys.

"Upon my word and honour, it is not. He pitched right upon his head; it
might have cost him his life had he fallen upon the edge of the stone
step, but they think he alighted flat. My father was round with him
this morning at six o'clock."

"Does your father know about it?"

"Not he. What next?" cried Hurst. "Should I stand before him, and take
my trencher off, with a bow, and say, 'If you please, sir, it was the
college boys who served out old Ketch!' That would be a nice joke! He
said, at breakfast, this morning, that that fumbling old Ketch must
have got hold of the wrong keys. 'Of course, sir!' answered I."

"Oh, what do you think, though!" interrupted Bywater. "Ketch can't find
the keys. He put them into a knife-box, he says, and this morning they
are gone. He intended to take them round to Pye, and I left him going
rampant over the loss. Didn't I chaff him?"

Hurst laughed. He unbuttoned the pocket of his trousers, and partially
exhibited two rusty keys. "I was not going to leave them to Ketch for
witnesses," said he. "I saw him throw them into the tray last night,
and I walked them out again, while he was talking to the crowd."

"I say, Hurst, don't be such a ninny as to keep them about you!"
exclaimed Berkeley, in a fright. "Suppose Pye should go in for a search
this morning, and visit our pockets? You'd floor us at once!"

"The truth is, I don't know where to put them," ingenuously
acknowledged Hurst. "If I hid them at home, they'd be found; if I
dropped them in the street, some hullaballoo might arise from it."

"Let's carry them back to the old-iron shop, and get the fellow to buy
them back at half-price!"

"Catch him doing that! Besides, the trick is sure to get wind in the
town; he might be capable of coming forward and declaring that we
bought the keys at his shop."

"Let's throw 'em down old Pye's well!"

"They'd come up again in the bucket, as ghosts do!"

"Couldn't we make a railway parcel of them, and direct it to 'Mr.
Smith, London?'"

"'Two pounds to pay; to be kept till called for,'" added Mark Galloway,
improving upon the suggestion. "They'd put it in their fire-proof safe,
and it would never come out again."

"Throw them into the river," said Stephen Bywater. "That's the only
safe place for them: they'd lie at the bottom for ever. We have time to
do it now. Come along."

Acting upon the impulse, as schoolboys usually do, they went galloping
out of the cloisters, running against the head-master, who was
entering, and nearly overturning his equilibrium. He gave them an angry
word of caution; they touched their caps in reply, and somewhat
slackened their speed, resuming the gallop when he was out of hearing.

Inclosing the cathedral and its precincts on the western side, was a
wall, built of red stone. It was only breast high, standing on the
cathedral side; but on the other side it descended several feet, to the
broad path which ran along the banks of the river. The boys made for
this wall and gained it, their faces hot, and their breath gone.

"Who'll pitch 'em in?" cried Hurst, who did not altogether relish being
chief actor himself, for windows looked on to that particular spot from
various angles and corners of the Boundaries. "You shall do it,

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