Part 7 out of 12
"Congratulate! To what do you allude?" asked Mr. Channing.
"To Arthur's applying after Jupp's post, as soon as he knew that the
suit had failed. He's a true Channing. I am glad he got it."
"Not to that--I did not allude to that," hastily rejoined Mr. Channing.
And then, with downcast eyes, and a downcast heart, he related
sufficient to put Mr. Huntley in possession of the facts.
Mr. Huntley heard the tale with incredulity, a smile of ridicule
parting his lips. "Suspect Arthur of theft!" he exclaimed. "What next?
Had I been in my place on the magistrates' bench that day, I should
have dismissed the charge at once, upon such defective evidence.
Channing, what is the matter?"
Mr. Channing laid his hand upon his aching brow, and Mr. Huntley had to
bend over him to catch the whispered answer. "I do fear that he may be
guilty. If he is not guilty, some strange mystery altogether is
attached to it."
"But why do you fear that he is guilty?" asked Mr. Huntley, in
"Because his own conduct, relating to the charge, is so strange. He
will not assert his innocence; or, if he does attempt to assert it, it
is with a faint, hesitating manner and tone, that can only give one the
impression of falsehood, instead of truth."
"It is utterly absurd to suppose your son Arthur capable of the crime.
He is one of those whom it is impossible to doubt; noble, true,
honourable! No; I would suspect myself, before I could suspect Arthur
"I would have suspected myself before I had suspected him," impulsively
spoke Mr. Channing. "But there are the facts, coupled with his not
denying the charge. He could not deny it, even to the satisfaction of
Mr. Galloway: did not attempt it; had he done so, Galloway would not
have turned him from the office."
Mr. Huntley fell into thought, revolving over the details, is they had
been related to him. That Arthur was the culprit, his judgment utterly
repudiated; and he came to the conclusion that he must be screening
another. He glanced at Mrs. Channing, who sat in troubled silence.
"You do not believe Arthur guilty?" he said, in a low tone, suddenly
bending over to her.
"I do not know what to believe; T am racked with doubt and pain," she
answered. "Arthur's words to me in private are only compatible with
entire innocence; but then, what becomes of the broad facts?--of his
strange appearance of guilt before the world? God can bring his
innocence to light, he says; and he is content to wait His time."
"If there is a mystery, I'll try to come to the bottom of it, when I
reach Helstonleigh," thought Mr. Huntley. "Arthur's not guilty, whoever
else may be."
It was impossible to shake his firm faith in Arthur Channing. Mr.
Huntley was one of the few who read character strongly and surely, and
he _knew_ Arthur was incapable of doing wrong. Had his eyes witnessed
Arthur positively stealing the bank-note, his mind, his judgment would
have refused credence to his eyes. You may, therefore, judge that
neither then, nor afterwards, was he likely to admit the possibility of
"And the college school is saying that Tom shall not stand for the
seniorship!" he resumed aloud. "Does my son say it?"
"Some of them are saying it; I believe the majority of the school. I do
not know whether your son is amongst the number."
"He had better not let me find him so," cried Mr. Huntley. "But now,
don't suffer this affair to worry you," he added, turning heartily to
Mr. Channing. "If Arthur's guilty, I'll eat him; and I shall make it my
business to look into it closely when I reach home. You are
incapacitated, my old friend, and I shall act for you."
"Did Ellen not mention this, in writing to you?"
"No; the sly puss! Catch Miss Ellen writing to me anything that might
tell against the Channings."
A silence followed. The subject, which the words seemed to hint at, was
one upon which there could be no openness between them. A warm
attachment had sprung up between Hamish Channing and Ellen Huntley; but
whether Mr. Huntley would sanction it, now that the suit had failed,
was doubtful. He had never absolutely sanctioned it before: tacitly, in
so far as that he had not interfered to prevent Ellen from meeting
Hamish in society--in friendly intercourse. Probably, he had never
looked upon it from a serious point of view; possibly, he had never
noticed it. Hamish had not spoken, even to Ellen; but, that they did
care for each other very much, was evident to those who chose to open
"No two people in all Helstonleigh were so happy in their children as
you!" exclaimed Mr. Huntley. "Or had such cause to be so."
"None happier," assented Mrs. Channing, tears rising to her eyes. "They
were, and are good, dutiful, and loving. Would you believe that Hamish,
little as he can have to spare, has been one of the chief contributors
to help us here?"
Mr. Huntley lifted his eyebrows in surprise. "Hamish has! How did he
"He has, indeed. I fancy he has been saving up with this in view. Dear,
Now, it just happened that Mr. Huntley was cognizant of Mr. Hamish's
embarrassments; so, how the "saving up" could have been effected, he
was at a loss to know. "Careless Hamish may have borrowed it," thought
he to himself, "but saved it up he has not."
"What are we approaching now?" interrupted Mr. Channing.
They were approaching the Prussian frontier; and there they had to
change trains: more embarrassment for Mr. Channing. After that, they
went on without interruption, and arrived safely at the terminus,
almost close to Borcette, having been about four hours on the road.
"Borcette at last!" cheerily exclaimed Mr. Huntley, as he shook Mr.
Channing's hand. "Please God, it may prove to you a place of healing!"
"Amen!" was the earnestly murmured answer.
Mrs. Channing was delighted with Borcette. Poor Mr. Channing could as
yet see little of it. It was a small, unpretending place, scarcely ten
minutes' distance from Aix-la-Chapelle, to which she could walk through
an avenue of trees. She had never before seen a bubbling fountain of
boiling water, and regarded those of Borcette with much interest. The
hottest, close to the Hotel Rosenbad, where they sojourned, boasted a
temperature of more than 150 deg. Fahrenheit; it was curious to see it
rising in the very middle of the street. Other things amused her, too;
in fact, all she saw was strange, and bore its peculiar interest. She
watched the factory people flocking to and fro at stated hours in the
day--for Borcette has its factories for woollen fabrics and
looking-glasses--some thousands of souls, their walk as regular and
steady as that of school-girls on their daily march under the
governess's eye. The men wore blue blouses; the women, neat and clean,
wore neither bonnets nor caps; but their hair was twisted round their
heads, as artistically as if done by a hairdresser. Not one, women or
girls, but wore enormous gold earrings, and the girls plaited their
hair, and let it hang behind.
What a contrast they presented to their class in England! Mrs. Channing
had, not long before, spent a few weeks in one of our large factory
towns in the north. She remembered still the miserable, unwholesome,
dirty, poverty-stricken appearance of the factory workers there--their
almost _disgraceful_ appearance; she remembered still the boisterous or
the slouching manner with which they proceeded to their work; their
language anything but what it ought to be. But these Prussians looked a
respectable, well-conducted, well-to-do body of people.
Where could the great difference lie? Not in wages; for the English
were better paid than the Germans. We might go abroad to learn economy,
and many other desirable accompaniments of daily life. Nothing amused
her more than to see the laundresses and housewives generally, washing
the linen at these boiling springs; wash, wash, wash! chatter, chatter,
chatter! She thought they must have no water in their own homes, for
they would flock in numbers to the springs with their kettles and jugs
to fill them.
It was Doctor Lamb who had recommended them to the Hotel Rosenbad; and
they found the recommendation a good one. Removed from the narrow,
dirty, offensive streets of the little town, it was pleasantly
situated. The promenade, with its broad walks, its gay company (many of
them invalids almost as helpless as Mr. Channing), and its musical
bands, was in front of the hotel windows; a pleasant sight for Mr.
Channing until he could get about himself. On the heights behind the
hotel were two churches; and the sound of their services would be
wafted down in soft, sweet strains of melody. In the neighbourhood
there was a shrine, to which pilgrims flocked. Mrs. Channing regarded
them with interest, some with their alpen-stocks, some in fantastic
dresses, some with strings of beads, which they knelt and told; and her
thoughts went back to the old times of the Crusaders. All she saw
pleased her. But for her anxiety as to what would be the effect of the
new treatment upon her husband, and the ever-lively trouble about
Arthur, it would have been a time of real delight to Mrs. Channing.
They could not have been better off than in the Hotel Rosenbad. Their
rooms were on the second floor--a small, exquisitely pretty
sitting-room, bearing a great resemblance to most continental
sitting-rooms, its carpet red, its muslin curtains snowy white; from
this opened a bed-room containing two beds, all as conveniently
arranged as it could be. Their meals were excellent; the dinner-table
especially being abundantly supplied. For all this they paid five
francs a day each, and the additional accommodation of having the meals
served in their room, on account of Mr. Channing, was not noted as an
additional expense. Their wax-lights were charged extra, and that was
all. I think English hotel-keepers might take a lesson from Borcette!
The doctor gave great hopes of Mr. Channing. His opinion was, that, had
Mr. Channing come to these baths when he was first taken ill, his
confinement would have been very trifling. "You will find the greatest
benefit in a month," said the doctor, in answer to the anxious
question, How long the restoration might be in coming. "In two months
you will walk charmingly; in three, you will be well." Cheering news,
if it could only be borne out.
"I will not have you say 'If,'" cried Mr. Huntley, who had made one in
consultation with the doctor. "You are told that it will be so, under
God's blessing, and all you have to do is to anticipate it."
Mr. Channing smiled. They were stationed round the open window of the
sitting-room, he on the most comfortable of sofas, Mrs. Channing
watching the gay prospect below, and thinking she should never tire of
it. "There can be no hope without fear," said he.
"But I would not think of fear: I would bury that altogether," said Mr.
Huntley. "You have nothing to do here but to take the remedies, look
forward with confidence, and be as happy as the day's long."
"I will if I can," said Mr. Channing, with some approach to gaiety. "I
should not have gone to the expense of coming here, but that I had
great hopes of the result."
"Expense, you call it! I call it a marvel of cheapness."
"For your pocket. Cheap as it is, it will tell upon mine: but, if it
does effect my restoration, I shall soon repay it tenfold."
"'If,' again! It will effect it, I say. What shall you do with Hamish,
when you resume your place at the head of your office?"
"Let me resume it first, Huntley."
"There you go! Now, if you were only as sanguine and sure as you ought
to be, I could recommend Hamish to something good to-morrow."
"Indeed! What is it?"
"But, if you persist in saying you shall not get well, or that there's
a doubt whether you will get well, where's the use of my doing it? So
long as you are incapacitated, Hamish must be a fixture in Guild
"So I shall say no more about it at present. But remember, my old
friend, that when you are upon your legs, and have no further need of
Hamish--who, I expect, will not care to drop down into a clerk again,
where he has been master--I may be able to help him to something; so do
not let anticipations on his score worry you. I suppose you will be
losing Constance soon?"
Mr. Channing gave vent to a groan: a sharp attack of his malady pierced
his frame just then. Certain reminiscences, caused by the question, may
have helped its acuteness; but of that Mr. Huntley had no suspicion.
In the evening, when Mrs. Channing was sitting under the acacia trees,
Mr. Huntley joined her, and she took the opportunity of alluding to the
subject. "Do not mention it again in the presence of my husband," she
said: "talking of it can only bring it before his mind with more vivid
force. Constance and Mr. Yorke have parted."
Had Mrs. Channing told him the cathedral had parted, Mr. Huntley could
not have felt more surprise. "Parted!" he ejaculated. "From what
"It occurred through this dreadful affair of Arthur's. I fancy the
fault was as much Constance's as Mr. Yorke's, but I do not know the
exact particulars. He did not like it; he thought, I believe, that to
marry a sister of Arthur's would affect his own honour--or she thought
it. Anyway, they parted."
"Had William Yorke been engaged to my daughter, and given her up upon
so shallow a plea, I should have been disposed to chastise him,"
intemperately spoke Mr. Huntley, carried away by his strong feeling.
"But, I say I fancy that the giving up was on Constance's side,"
repeated Mrs. Channing. "She has a keen sense of honour, and she knows
the pride of the Yorkes."
"Pride, such as that, would be the better for being taken down a peg,"
returned Mr. Huntley. "I am sorry for this. The accusation has indeed
been productive of serious effects. Why did not Arthur go to William
Yorke and avow his innocence, and tell him there was no cause for their
parting? Did he not do so?"
Mrs. Channing shook her head only, by way of answer; and, as Mr.
Huntley scrutinized her pale, sad countenance, he began to think there
must be greater mystery about the affair than he had supposed. He said
On the third day he quitted Borcette, having seen them, as he expressed
it, fully installed, and pursued his route homewards, by way of Lille,
Calais, and Dover. Mr. Huntley was no friend to long sea passages:
people with well-filled purses seldom are so.
AN OMINOUS COUGH.
"I say, Jenkins, how you cough!"
"Yes, sir, I do. It's a sign that autumn's coming on. I have been
pretty free from it all the summer. I think the few days I lay in bed
through that fall, must have done good to my chest; for, since then, I
have hardly coughed at all. This last day or two it has been bad
"What cough do you call it?" went on Roland Yorke--you may have guessed
he was the speaker. "A churchyard cough?"
"Well, I don't know, sir," said Jenkins. "It _has_ been called that,
before now. I dare say it will be the end of me at last."
"Cool!" remarked Roland. "Cooler than I should be, if I had a cough, or
any plague of the sort, that was likely to be _my_ end. Does it trouble
your mind, Jenkins?"
"No, sir, not exactly. It gives me rather down-hearted thoughts now and
then, till I remember that everything is sure to be ordered for the
"The best! Should you call it for 'the best' if you were to go off?"
demanded Roland, drawing pen-and-ink chimneys upon his blotting-paper,
with clouds of smoke coming out, as he sat lazily at his desk.
"I dare say, sir, if that were to happen, I should be enabled to see
that it was for the best. There's no doubt of it."
"According to that theory, everything that happens must be for the
best. You may as well say that pitching on to your head and half
killing yourself, was for the best. Moonshine, Jenkins!"
"I think even that accident was sent for some wise purpose, sir. I
know, in some respects, it was very palpably for the best. It afforded
me some days of quiet, serious reflection, and it served to show how
considerate everybody was for me."
"And the pain?"
"That was soon over, sir. It made me think of that better place where
there will be no pain. If I am to be called there early, Mr. Roland, it
is well that my thoughts should be led to it."
Roland stared with all his eyes. "I say, Jenkins, what do you mean? You
have nothing serious the matter with you?"
"No, sir; nothing but the cough, and a weakness that I feel. My mother
and brother both died of the same thing, sir."
"Oh, nonsense!" returned Roland. "Because one's mother dies, is that
any reason why we should fall into low spirits and take up the notion
that we are going to die, and look out for it? I am surprised at you,
"I am not in low spirits, sir; and I am sure I do not look out for it.
I might have looked out for it any autumn or any spring of late, had I
been that way inclined, for I have had the cough at those periods, as
you know, sir. There's a difference, Mr. Roland, between looking out
for a thing, and not shutting one's eyes to what may come."
"I say, old fellow, you just put all such notions away from you"--and
Roland really meant to speak in a kindly, cheering spirit. "My father
died of dropsy; and I may just as well set on, and poke and pat at
myself every other morning, to see if it's not attacking me. Only think
what would become of this office without you! Galloway would fret and
fume himself into his tomb at having nobody but me in it."
A smile crossed Jenkins's face at the idea of the office, confided to
the management of Roland Yorke. Poor Jenkins was one of the doubtful
ones, from a sanitary point of view. Always shadowy, as if a wind would
blow him away, and, for some years, suffering much from a cough, which
only disappeared in summer, he could not, and did not, count upon a
long life. He had quite recovered from his accident, but the cough had
now come on with much force, and he was feeling unusually weak.
"You don't look ill, Jenkins."
"Don't I, sir? The Reverend Mr. Yorke met me, to-day--"
"Don't bring up his name before me!" interrupted Roland, raising his
voice to anger. "I may begin to swear, perhaps, if you do."
"Why, what has he done?" wondered Jenkins.
"Never mind what he has done," nodded Roland. "He is a disgrace to the
name of Yorke. I enjoyed the pleasure of telling him so, the other
night, more than I have enjoyed anything a long while. He was so mad!
If he had not been a parson, I shouldn't wonder but he'd have pitched
"Mr. Roland, sir, you know the parties are waiting for that lease,"
Jenkins ventured to remind him.
"Let the parties wait," rejoined Roland. "Do they think this office is
going to be hurried as if it were a common lawyer's? I say, Jenkins,
where has old Galloway taken flight to, this afternoon?"
"He has an appointment with the surrogate," answered Jenkins. "Oh!--I
quite forgot to mention something to you, Mr. Roland."
"Mention it now," said Roland.
"A person came this morning, sir, and was rather loud," said Jenkins,
in a tone of deprecation, as if he would apologize for having to repeat
the news. "He thought you were in, Mr. Roland, and that I was only
denying you, and he grew insolent. Mr. Galloway happened to be in his
room, unfortunately, and heard it, and he came out himself, and sent
the person away. Mr. Galloway was very angry, and he desired me to tell
you, sir, that he would not have that sort of people coming here."
Roland took up the ruler, and essayed to balance it on the edge of his
nose. "Who was it?" asked he.
"I am not sure who it was, though I know I have seen the man,
somewhere. I think he wanted payment of a bill, sir."
"Nothing more likely," rejoined Roland, with characteristic
indifference. "I hope his head won't ache till he gets it! I am cleared
out for some time to come. I'd like to know who the fellow was, though,
Jenkins, that I might punish him for his impudence. How dared he come
"I asked him to leave his name, sir, and he said Mr. Roland Yorke knew
his name quite well enough, without having it left for him."
"As brassy as that, was he! I wish to goodness it was the fashion to
have a cistern in your house-roofs!" emphatically added Roland.
"A what, sir?" cried Jenkins, lifting his eyes from his writing.
"A water-cistern, with a tap, worked by a string, at pleasure. You
could give it a pull, you know, when such customers as those came, and
they'd find themselves deluged. That would cool their insolence, if
anything would. I'd get up a company for it, and take out a patent, if
I only had the ready money."
Jenkins made no reply. He was applying himself diligently to his work,
perhaps hoping that Mr. Roland Yorke might take the hint, and do the
same. Roland actually did take it; at any rate, he dipped his pen in
the ink, and wrote, at the very least, five or six words; then he
"Jenkins," began he again, "do you know much about Port Natal?"
"I don't know anything about it, sir; except that there is such a
"Why, you know nothing!" cried Roland. "I never saw such a muff. I
wonder what you reckon yourself good for, Jenkins?"
Jenkins shook his head. No matter what reproach was brought against
him, he received it meekly, as if it were his due. "I am not good for
much, sir, beyond just my daily duty here. To know about Port Natal and
those foreign places is not in my work, sir, and so I'm afraid I
neglect them. Did you want any information about Port Natal, Mr.
"I have got it," said Roland; "loads of it. I am not sure that I shan't
make a start for it, Jenkins."
"For Port Natal, sir? Why! it's all the way to Africa!"
"Do you suppose I thought it was in Wales?" retorted Roland. "It's the
jolliest opening for an enterprising man, is Port Natal. You may land
there to-day with half-a-crown in your pocket, and come away in a year
or two with your fortune made."
"Indeed!" ejaculated Jenkins. "How is it made, sir?"
"Oh, you learn all that when you get there. I shall _go_, Jenkins, if
things don't look up a bit in these quarters."
"What things, sir?" Jenkins ventured to ask.
"Tin, for one thing; work for another," answered Roland. "If I don't
get more of the one, and less of the other, I shall try Port Natal. I
had a row with my lady at dinner-time. She thinks a paltry sovereign or
two ought to last a fellow for a month. My service to her! I just
dropped a hint of Port Natal, and left her weeping. She'll have come
to, by this evening, and behave liberally."
"But about the work, sir?" said Jenkins. "I'm sure I make it as light
for you as I possibly can. You have only had that lease, sir, all day
yesterday and to-day."
"Oh, it's not just the _amount_ of work, Jenkins," acknowledged Roland;
"it's the being tied by the leg to this horrid old office. As good work
as play, if one has to be in it. I have been fit to cut it altogether
every hour, since Arthur Channing left: for you know you are no
"Very true, sir."
"If I could only get Arthur Channing to go with me, I'd be off
to-morrow! But he laughs at it. He hasn't got half pluck. Only fancy,
Jenkins! my coming back in a year or two with twenty thousand pounds in
my pocket! Wouldn't I give you a treat, old chap! I'd pay a couple of
clerks to do your work here, and carry you off somewhere, in spite of
old Galloway, for a six-months' holiday, where you'd get rid of that
precious cough. I _would_, Jenkins."
"You are very kind, sir--"
Jenkins was stopped by the "precious cough." It seemed completely to
rack his frame. Roland looked at him with sympathy, and just then steps
were heard to enter the passage, and a knock came to the office door.
"Who's come bothering now?" cried Roland. "Come in!"
Possibly the mandate was not heard, for poor Jenkins was coughing
still. "Don't I tell you to come in?" roared out Roland. "Are you
"Open the door. I don't care to soil my gloves," came the answer from
the other side. And Mr. Roland slid off his stool to obey, rather less
lazily than usual, for the voice was that of his mother, the Lady
"A very dutiful son, you are, Mr. Roland!" was the salutation of Lady
Augusta. "Forcing me up from dinner before I had finished!"
"I didn't do anything of the sort," said Roland.
"Yes, you did. With your threats about Port Natal! What do you know
about Port Natal? Why should you go to Port Natal? You will break my
heart with grief, that's what you will do."
"I was not going to start this afternoon," returned Roland. "But the
fact is, mother, I shall have to go to Port Natal, or to some other
port, unless I can get a little money to go on with here. A fellow
can't walk about with empty pockets."
"You undutiful, extravagant boy!" exclaimed Lady Augusta. "I am worried
out of my life for money, between you all. Gerald got two sovereigns
from me yesterday. What money do you want?"
"As much as you can let me have," replied Mr. Roland.
Lady Augusta threw a five-pound note by his side upon the desk. "When
you boys have driven me into the workhouse, you'll be satisfied,
perhaps. And now hold your foolish tongue about Port Natal."
Roland gathered it up with alacrity and a word of thanks. Lady Augusta
had turned to Jenkins.
"You are the best off, Jenkins; you have no children to disturb your
peace. You don't look well, Jenkins."
"Thank you kindly, my lady, I feel but poorly. My cough has become
"He has just been saying that he thought the cough was going to take
him off," interposed Roland.
Lady Augusta laughed; she supposed it was spoken in jest; and desired
her son to open the door for her. Her gloves were new and delicate.
"Had you chosen to remain at the dinner-table, as a gentleman ought, I
should have told you some news, Mr. Roland," said Lady Augusta.
Roland was always ready for news. He opened his eyes and ears. "Tell it
me now, good mother. Don't bear malice."
"Your uncle Carrick is coming here on a visit."
"I am glad of that; that's good!" cried Roland. "When does he come? I
say, mother, don't be in a hurry! When does he come?"
But Lady Augusta apparently was in a hurry, for she did not wait to
reply. Roland looked after her, and saw her shaking hands with a
gentleman, who was about to enter.
"Oh, he's back, is he!" cried unceremonious Roland. "I thought he was
dead and buried, and gone to heaven."
NO SENIORSHIP FOR TOM CHANNING.
Shaking hands with Lady Augusta Yorke as she turned out of Mr.
Galloway's office, was Mr. Huntley. He had only just arrived at
Helstonleigh; had not yet been home; but he explained that he wished to
give at once a word of pleasant news to Constance Channing of her
father and mother, and, on his way to the Boundaries, was calling on
"You will find Miss Channing at my house," said Lady Augusta, after
some warm inquiries touching Mr. and Mrs. Channing. "I would offer to
go back there with you, but I am on my way to make some calls." She
turned towards the town as she spoke, and Mr. Huntley entered the
"I thought you were never coming home again!" cried free Roland. "Why,
you have been away three months, Mr. Huntley!"
"Very nearly. Where is Mr. Galloway?"
"In his skin," said Roland.
Jenkins looked up deprecatingly, as if he would apologize for the
rudeness of Roland Yorke. "Mr. Galloway is out, sir. I dare say he will
not be away more than half an hour."
"I cannot wait now," said Mr. Huntley. "So you are one less in this
office than you were when I left?"
"The awfullest shame!" struck in Roland. "Have you heard that Galloway
lost a bank-note out of a letter, sir?"
"Yes. I have heard of it from Mr. Channing."
"And they accused Arthur Channing of taking it!" exclaimed Roland.
"They took him up for it; he was had up twice to the town-hall, like
any felon. You may be slow to believe it, Mr. Huntley, but it's true."
"It was Butterby, sir," interposed Jenkins. "He was rather too
officious over it, and acted without Mr. Galloway's orders."
"Don't talk rubbish, Jenkins," rebuked Roland. "You have defended
Galloway all through the piece, but he is as much to blame as Butterby.
Why did he turn off Channing?"
"You do not think him guilty, Roland, I see," said Mr. Huntley.
"I should hope I don't," answered Roland. "Butterby pitched upon
Arthur, because there happened to be nobody else at hand to pitch upon;
just as he'd have pitched upon you, Mr. Huntley, had you happened to be
in the office that afternoon."
"Mr. Arthur Channing was not guilty, I am sure, sir; pray do not think
him so," resumed Jenkins, his eye lighting as he turned to Mr. Huntley.
And Mr. Huntley smiled in response to the earnestness. _He_ believe
Arthur Channing guilty!
He left a message for Mr. Galloway, and quitted the office. Roland, who
was very difficult to settle to work again, if once disturbed from it,
strided himself across his stool, and tilted it backwards.
"I'm uncommonly glad Carrick's coming!" cried he. "Do you remember him,
"That uncle of mine. He was at Helstonleigh three years ago."
"I am not sure that I do, sir."
"What a sieve of a memory you must have! He is as tall as a house. We
are not bad fellows for height, but Carrick beats us. He is not
married, you know, and we look to him to square up many a corner. To do
him justice, he never says No, when he has the cash, but he's often out
at elbows himself. It was he who bought George his commission and
fitted him out; and I know my lady looks to him to find the funds
Gerald will want to make him into a parson. I wonder what he'll do for
Jenkins was about to answer, but was stopped by his cough. For some
minutes it completely exhausted him; and Roland, for want of a hearer,
was fain to bring the legs of his stool down again, and apply himself
lazily to his work.
At this very moment, which was not much past two o'clock in the day,
Bywater had Charley Channing pinned against the palings underneath the
elm trees. He had him all to himself. No other boys were within
hearing; though many were within sight; for they were assembling in and
round the cloisters after their dinner.
"Now, Miss Charley, it's the last time I'll ask you, as true as that we
are living here! You are as obstinate as a young mule. I'll give you
this one chance, and I'll not give you another. I'd advise you to take
it, if you have any regard for your skin."
"I don't know anything, Bywater."
"You shuffling little turncoat! I don't _know_ that there's any fire in
that kitchen chimney of the old dean's, but I am morally certain that
there is, because clouds of black smoke are coming out of it. And you
know just as well who it was that played the trick to my surplice. I
don't ask you to blurt it out to the school, and I won't bring your
name up in it at all; I won't act upon what you tell me. There!"
"Bywater, I don't know; and suspicion goes for nothing. Gaunt said it
Bywater gave Charley a petulant shake. "I say that you know morally,
Miss Channing. I protest that I heard you mention the word 'surplice'
to Gerald Yorke, the day there was that row in the cloisters, when
Roland Yorke gave Tod a thrashing and I tore the seat out of my pants.
Gerald Yorke looked ready to kill you for it, too! Come, out with it.
This is about the sixth time I have had you in trap, and you have only
"I don't defy you, Bywater. I say that I will not tell. I would not if
I knew. It is no business of mine."
"You little ninny! Don't you see that your obstinacy is injuring Tom
Channing? Yorke is going in for the seniorship; is sure to get it--if
it's true that Pye has given the promise to Lady Augusta. But, let it
come out that he was the Jack-in-the-box, and his chance falls to the
ground. And you won't say a word to do good to your brother!"
Charley shook his head. He did not take the bait. "And Tom himself
would be the first to punish me for doing wrong! He never forgives a
sneak. It's of no use your keeping me, Bywater."
"Listen, youngster. I have my suspicions; I have had them all along;
and I have a clue--that's more. But, for a certain reason, I think my
suspicions and my clue point to the wrong party; and I don't care to
stir in it till I am sure. One--two--three! for the last time. Will you
"Then, look you, Miss Charley Channing. If I do go and denounce the
wrong party, and find out afterwards that it is the wrong one, I'll
give you as sweet a drubbing as you ever had, and your girl's face
shan't save you. Now go."
He propelled Charley from him with a jerk, and propelled him against
Mr. Huntley, who was at that moment turning the corner close to them,
on his way from Mr. Galloway's office.
"You can't go through me, Charley," said Mr. Huntley. "Did you think I
was made of glass, Bywater?"
"My patience!" exclaimed Bywater. "Why, Harry was grumbling, not five
minutes ago, that you were never coming home at all, Mr. Huntley."
"He was, was he? Is he here?"
"Oh, he's somewhere amongst the ruck of them," cried Bywater, looking
towards the distant boys. "He wants you to see about this bother of the
seniorship. If somebody doesn't, we shall get up a mutiny, that's all.
Here, Huntley," he shouted at the top of his voice, "here's an arrival
from foreign parts!"
Some of the nearer boys looked round, and the word was passed to
Huntley. Harry Huntley and the rest soon surrounded him, and Mr.
Huntley had no reason to complain of the warmth of his reception. When
news had recently arrived that Mr. Huntley was coming home, the boys
had taken up the hope of his interference. Of course, schoolboy-like,
they all entered upon it eagerly.
"Stop, stop, stop!" said Mr. Huntley. "One at a time. How can I hear,
if you all talk together? Now, what's the grievance?"
They detailed it as rationally and with as little noise as it was in
their nature to do. Huntley was the only senior present, but Gaunt came
up during the conference.
"It's all a cram, Mr. Huntley," cried Tod Yorke. "My brother Gerald
says that Jenkins dreamt it."
"I'll 'dream' you, if you don't keep your tongue silent, Tod Yorke,"
reprimanded Gaunt. "Take yourself off to a distance, Mr. Huntley," he
added, turning to that gentleman, "it is certain that Lady Augusta said
it; and we can't think she'd say it, unless Pye promised it. It is
unfair upon Charming and Huntley."
A few more words given to the throng, upon general matters--for Mr.
Huntley touched no more on the other topic--and then he continued his
way to Lady Augusta's. As he passed the house of the Reverend Mr. Pye,
that gentleman was coming out of it. Mr. Huntley, a decisive,
straightforward man, entered upon the matter at once, after some
moments spent in greeting.
"You will pardon my speaking of it to you personally," he said, when he
had introduced the subject, "In most cases I consider it perfectly
unjustifiable for the friends of boys in a public school to interfere
with the executive of its master; but this affair is different. Is it,
or is it not correct, that there is an intention afloat to exalt Yorke
to the seniorship?"
"Mr. Huntley, you must be aware that in _no case_ can the head-master
of a public school allow himself to be interfered with, or questioned,"
was the reply of the master.
"I hope you will meet this amicably," returned Mr. Huntley.
"I have no other wish than to be friendly; quite so. We all deem
ourselves under obligations to you, Mr. Pye, and esteem you highly; we
could not have, or wish, a better preceptor for our sons. But in this
instance, my duty is plain. The injustice--if any such injustice is
contemplated--tells particularly upon Tom Channing and my son. Mr.
Channing does not give ear to it; I would rather not; nevertheless, you
must pardon me for acting, in the uncertainty, as though it had
foundation. I presume you cannot be ignorant of the dissatisfied
feeling that reigns in the school?"
"I have intimated that I will not be questioned," said Mr. Pye.
"Quite right. I merely wished to express a hope that there may be no
foundation for the rumour. If Tom Channing and Harry forfeit their
rights legally, through want of merit, or ill conduct, it is not I that
would urge a word in their favour. Fair play's a jewel: and the highest
boy in the school should have no better chance given him than the
lowest. But if the two senior boys do not so forfeit their rights,
Yorke must not be exalted above them."
"Who is to dictate to me?" demanded Mr. Pye. "Certainly not I,"
replied Mr. Huntley, in a courteous but firm tone. "Were the thing to
take place, I should simply demand, through the Dean and Chapter, that
the charter of the school might be consulted, as to whether its tenets
had teen strictly followed."
The head-master made no reply. Neither did he appear angry; only
impassible. Mr. Huntley had certainly hit the right nail on the head;
for the master of Helstonleigh College school was entirely under the
control, of the Dean and Chapter.
"I can speak to you upon this all the more freely and with better
understanding, since it is not my boy who stands any chance," said Mr.
Huntley, with a cordial smile. "Tom Channing heads him on the rolls."
"Tom Channing will not be senior; I have no objection to affirm so much
to you," observed the master, falling in with Mr. Huntley's manner,
"This sad affair of his brother Arthur's debars him."
"It ought not to debar him, even were Arthur guilty," warmly returned
"In justice to Tom Channing himself, no. But," and the master dropped
his voice to a confidential tone, "it is necessary sometimes to study
the prejudices taken up by a school; to see them, and not to appear to
see them--if you understand me. Were Tom Channing made head of the
school, part of the school would rise up in rebellion; some of the boys
would, no doubt, be removed from it. For the peace of the school alone,
it could not be done. The boys would not now obey him as senior, and
there would be perpetual warfare, resulting we know not in what."
"Arthur Channing was not guilty. I feel as sure of it as I do of my own
"He is looked upon as guilty by those who must know best, from their
familiarity with the details," rejoined Mr. Pye, "For my own part, I
have no resource but to believe him so, I regard it as one of those
anomalies which you cannot understand, or would believe in, but that it
happens under your own eye; where the moment's yielding to temptation
is at variance with the general character, with the whole past life. Of
course, in these cases, the disgrace is reflected upon relatives and
connections, and they have to suffer for it. I cannot help the school's
resenting it upon Tom."
"It will be cruel to deprive Tom of the seniorship upon these grounds,"
remonstrated Mr. Huntley.
"To himself individually," assented the master. "But it is well that
one, promoted to a foundation-school's seniorship, should be free from
moral taint. Were there no feeling whatever against Tom Channing in the
school, I do not think I could, consistently with my duty and with a
due regard to the fitness of things, place him as senior. I am sorry
for the boy; I always liked him; and he has been of good report, both
as to scholarship and conduct."
"I know one thing," said Mr. Huntley: "that you may search the school
through, and not find so good a senior as Tom Channing would make."
"He would have made a very good one, there's no doubt. Would have ruled
the boys well and firmly, though without oppression. Yes, we lose a
good senior in Tom Channing."
There was no more to be said. Mr. Huntley felt that the master was
thoroughly decided; and for the other matter, touching Yorke, he had
done with it until the time of appointment. As he went musing on, he
began to think that Mr. Pye might be right with regard to depriving Tom
of the seniorship, however unjust it might appear to Tom himself. Mr.
Huntley remembered that not one of the boys, except Gaunt, had
mentioned Tom Channing's name in his recent encounter with them; they
had spoken of the injustice of exalting Yorke over _Harry Huntley_. He
had not noticed it at the time.
He proceeded to Lady Augusta's, and Constance was informed of his
visit. She had three pupils at Lady Augusta's now, for that lady had
kindly insisted that Constance should bring Annabel to study with her
daughters, during the absence of Mrs. Channing. Constance left them to
themselves and entered the drawing-room. Pretty Constance! so fresh, so
lovely, in her simple muslin dress, and her braided hair. Mr. Huntley
caught her hands, and imprinted a very fatherly kiss upon her fair
"That is from the absentees, Constance. I told them I should give it to
you. And I bring you the bravest news, my dear. Mr. Channing was
already finding benefit from his change; he was indeed. There is every
hope that he will be restored."
Constance was radiant with delight. To see one who had met and stayed
with her father and mother at their distant sojourn, was almost like
seeing her parents themselves.
"And now, my dear, I want a word with you about all those untoward
trials and troubles, which appear to have come thickly during my
absence," continued Mr. Huntley. "First of all, as to yourself. What
mischief-making wind has been arising between you and William Yorke?"
The expression of Constance's face changed to sadness, and her cheeks
"My dear, you will not misunderstand me," he resumed. "I heard of these
things at Borcette, and I said that I should undertake to inquire into
them in the place of your father: just as he, health permitting him,
would have undertaken for me in my absence, did any trouble arise to
Ellen. Is it true that you and Mr. Yorke have parted?"
"Yes," faltered Constance.
"And the cause?"
Constance strove to suppress her tears. "You can do nothing, Mr.
Huntley; nothing whatever. Thank you all the same."
"He has made this accusation upon Arthur the plea for breaking off his
"I could not marry him with this cloud upon me," she murmured. "It
would not be right."
"Cloud upon _you!_" hastily ejaculated Mr. Huntley. "The accusation
against Arthur was the sole cause, then, of your parting?"
"Yes; the sole cause which led to it."
Mr. Huntley paused, apparently in thought. "He is presented to Hazeldon
Chapel, I hear. Did his rupture with you take place _after_ that
"I see what you are thinking," she impulsively cried, caring too much
for Mr. Yorke not to defend him. "The chief fault of the parting was
mine. I felt that it would not do to become his wife, being--being--"
she hesitated much--"Arthur's sister. I believe that he also felt it.
Indeed, Mr. Huntley, there is no help for it; nothing can be done."
"Knowing what I do of William Yorke, I am sure that the pain of
separation must be keen, whatever may be his pride. Constance, unless I
am mistaken, it is equally keen to you."
Again rose the soft damask blush to the face of Constance. But she
answered decisively. "Mr. Huntley, I pray you to allow the subject to
cease. Nothing can bring about the renewal of the engagement between
myself and Mr. Yorke. It is irrevocably at an end."
"Until Arthur shall be cleared, you mean?"
"No," she answered--a vision of Hamish and _his_ guilt flashing across
her--"I mean for good."
"Why does not Arthur assert his innocence to Mr. Yorke? Constance, I am
sure you know, as well as I do, that he is not guilty. _Has_ he
She made no answer.
"As I would have wished to serve you, so will I serve Arthur," said Mr.
Huntley. "I told your father and mother, Constance, that I should make
it my business to investigate the charge against him; I shall leave not
a stone unturned to bring his innocence to light."
The avowal terrified Constance, and she lost her self-possession. "Oh
don't! don't!" she uttered. "You must not, indeed! you do not know the
mischief it might do."
"Mischief to what?--to whom?" exclaimed Mr. Huntley.
Constance buried her face in her hands, and burst into tears. The next
moment she had raised it, and taken Mr. Huntley's hand between hers.
"You are papa's friend! You would do us good and not harm--is it not
so?" she beseechingly said.
"My dear child," he exclaimed, quite confounded by her words--her
distress: "you know that I would not harm any of you for the world."
"Then _pray_ do not seek to dive into that unhappy story," she
whispered. "It must not be too closely looked into."
And Mr. Huntley quitted Constance, as a man who walks in a dream, so
utterly amazed was he. What did it all mean?
As he was going through the cloisters--his nearest way to the
town--Roland Yorke came flying up. With his usual want of ceremony, he
passed his arm within Mr. Huntley's. "Galloway's come in now," he
exclaimed, "and I am off to the bank to pay in a bag of money for him.
Jenkins told him you had called. Just hark at that clatter!"
The clatter, alluded to by Mr. Roland, was occasioned by the tramp of
the choristers on the cloister flags. They were coming up behind, full
speed, on their way from the schoolroom to enter the cathedral, for the
bell had begun for service.
"And here comes that beautiful relative of mine," continued Roland, as
he and Mr. Huntley passed the cathedral entrance, and turned into the
west quadrangle of the cloisters. "Would you credit it, Mr. Huntley,
that he has turned out a sneak? He has. He was to have married
Constance Channing, you know, and, for fear Arthur should have touched
the note, he has declared off it. If I were Constance, I would never
allow the fellow to speak to me again."
Apparently it was the course Mr. Roland himself intended to observe. As
the Rev. Mr. Yorke, who was coming in to service, drew near, Roland
strode on, his step haughty, his head in the air, which was all the
notice he vouchsafed to take. Probably the minor canon did not care
very much for Mr. Roland's notice, one way or the other; but his eye
lighted with pleasure at the sight of Mr. Huntley, and he advanced to
him, his hand outstretched.
But Mr. Huntley--a man given to show in his manner his likes and
dislikes--would not see the hand, would not stop at all, but passed Mr.
Yorke with a distant bow. That gentleman had fallen pretty deeply in
his estimation, since he had heard of the rupture with Constance
Channing. Mr. Yorke stood for a moment as if petrified, and then strode
on his way with a step as haughty as Roland's.
Roland burst into a glow of delight. "That's the way to serve him, Mr.
Huntley! I hope he'll get cut by every good man in Helstonleigh."
GERALD YORKE MADE INTO A "BLOCK."
The Rev. Mr. Yorke, in his surplice and hood, stood in his stall in the
cathedral. His countenance was stern, absorbed; as that of a man who is
not altogether at peace with himself. Let us hope that he was absorbed
in the sacred service in which he was taking a part: but we all know,
to our cost, that the spirit will wander at these times, and worldly
thoughts obtrude themselves. The greatest divine that the Church can
boast, is not always free from them.
Not an official part in the service was Mr. Yorke taking, that
afternoon; the duty was being performed by the head-master, whose week
it was to take it. Very few people were at service, and still less of
the clergy; the dean was present, but not one of the chapter.
Arthur Channing sat in his place at the organ. Arthur's thoughts, too,
were wandering; and--you know it is of no use to make people out to be
better than they are--wandering to things especially mundane. Arthur
had not ceased to look out for something to do, to replace the weekly
funds lost when he left Mr. Galloway's. He had not yet been successful:
employment is more easily sought than found, especially by one lying
under doubt, as he was. But he had now heard of something which he
hoped he might gain.
Jenkins, saying nothing to Roland Yorke, or to any one else, had
hurried to Mr. Channing's house that day between one and two o'clock;
and hurrying there and back had probably caused that temporary increase
of cough, which you heard of a chapter or two back. Jenkins's errand
was to inform Arthur that Dove and Dove (solicitors in the town, who
were by no means so dove-like as their name) required a temporary
clerk, and he thought Arthur might suit them. Arthur had asked Jenkins
to keep a look-out for him.
"Is one of their clerks leaving?" Arthur inquired.
"One of them met with an accident last night up at the
railway-station," replied Jenkins. "Did you not hear of it, sir?"
"I heard of that. I did not know who was hurt. He was trying to cross
the line, was he not?"
"Yes, sir. It was Marston. He had been out with some friends, and had
taken, it is thought, more than was good for him. A porter pulled him
back, but Marston fell, and the engine crushed his foot. He will be
laid up two months, the doctor says, and Dove and Dove are looking out
for some one to fill his place for the time. If you would like to take
it, sir, you could be looking out for something else while you are
there. You would more readily get the two hours' daily leave of absence
from a place like that, where they keep three or four clerks, than you
would from where they keep only one."
"If I like to take it!" repeated Arthur. "Will they like to take me?
That's the question. Thank you, Jenkins; I'll see about it at once."
He was not able to do so immediately after Jenkins left; for Dove and
Dove's offices were situated at the other end of the town, and he might
not be back in time for service. So he waited and went first to
college, and sat, I say, in his place at the organ, his thoughts
filled, in spite of himself, with the new project.
The service came to an end: it had seemed long to Arthur--so prone are
we to estimate time by our own feelings--and his voluntary, afterwards,
was played a shade faster than usual. Then he left the cathedral by the
front entrance, and hastened to the office of Dove and Dove.
Arthur had had many a rebuff of late, when bent on a similar
application, and his experience taught him that it was best, if
possible, to see the principals: not to subject himself to the careless
indifference or to the insolence of a clerk. Two young men were writing
at a desk when he entered. "Can I see Mr. Dove?" he inquired.
The elder of the writers scrutinized him through the railings of the
desk. "Which of them?" asked he.
"Either," replied Arthur. "Mr. Dove, or Mr. Alfred Dove. It does not
"Mr. Dove's out, and Mr. Alfred Dove's not at home," was the response.
"You'll have to wait, or to call again."
He preferred to wait: and in a very few minutes Mr. Dove came in.
Arthur was taken into a small room, so full of papers that it seemed
difficult to turn in it, and there he stated his business.
"You are a son of Mr. Channing's, I believe," said Mr. Dove. He spoke
morosely, coarsely; and he had a morose, coarse countenance--a sure
index of the mind, in him, as in others. "Was it you who figured in the
proceedings at the Guildhall some few weeks ago?"
You may judge whether the remark called up the blood to Arthur's face.
He suppressed his mortification, and spoke bravely.
"It was myself, sir. I was not guilty. My employment in your office
would be the copying of deeds solely, I presume; that would afford me
little temptation to be dishonest, even were I inclined to be so."
Had any one paid Arthur in gold to keep in that little bit of sarcasm,
he could not have done so. Mr. Dove caught up the idea that the words
_were_ uttered in sarcasm, and scowled fitfully.
"Marston was worth twenty-five shillings a week to us: and gained it.
You would not be worth half as much."
"You do not know what I should be worth, sir, unless you tried me. I am
a quick and correct copyist; but I should not expect to receive as much
as an ordinary clerk, on account of having to attend the cathedral for
morning and afternoon service. Wherever I go, I must have that
privilege allowed me."
"Then I don't think you'll get it with us. But look here, young
Channing, it is my brother who undertakes the engaging and management
of the clerks--you can speak to him."
"Can I see him this afternoon, sir?"
"He'll be in presently. Of course, we could not admit you into our
office unless some one became security. You must be aware of that."
The words seemed like a checkmate to Arthur. He stopped in hesitation.
"Is it usual, sir?"
"Usual--no! But it is necessary in _your_ case"
There was a coarse, pointed stress upon the "your," natural to the man.
Arthur turned away. For a moment he felt that to Dove and Dove's he
could not and would not go; every feeling within him rebelled against
it. Presently the rebellion calmed down, and he began to think about
It would be of little use, he was sure, to apply to Mr. Alfred
Dove--who was a shade coarser than Mr. Dove, if anything--unless
prepared to say that security could be given. His father's he thought
he might command: but he was not sure of that, under present
circumstances, without first speaking to Hamish. He turned his steps to
Guild Street, his unhappy position pressing with unusual weight upon
"Can I see my brother?" he inquired of the clerks in the office.
"He has some gentlemen with him just now, sir. I dare say you can go
There was nothing much amiss in the words; but in the tone there was.
It was indicative of slight, of contempt. It was the first time Arthur
had been there since the suspicion had fallen on him, and they seemed
to stare at him as if he had been a hyena; not a respectable hyena
He entered Hamish's room. Hamish was talking with two gentlemen,
strangers to Arthur, but they were on the point of leaving. Arthur
stood away against the wainscoting by the corner table, waiting until
they were gone, his attitude, his countenance, his whole appearance
indicative of depression and sadness.
Hamish closed the door and turned to him. He laid his hand kindly upon
his shoulder; his voice was expressive of the kindest sympathy. "So you
have found your way here once more, Arthur! I thought you were never
coming again. What can I do for you, lad?"
"I have been to Dove and Dove's. They are in want of a clerk. I think
perhaps they would take me; but, Hamish, they want security."
"Dove and Dove's," repeated Hamish. "Nice gentlemen, both of them!" he
added, in his half-pleasant, half-sarcastic manner. "Arthur, boy, I'd
not be under Dove and Dove if they offered me a gold nugget a day, as
weighty as the Queen's crown. You must not go there."
"They are not agreeable men; I know that; they are not men who are
liked in Helstonleigh, but what difference will that make to me? So
long as I turn out their parchments properly engrossed, that is all I
need care for."
"What has happened? Why are you looking so sad?" reiterated Hamish, who
could not fail to perceive that there was some strange grief at work.
"Is my life so sunny just now, that I can always be as bright as you?"
retorted Arthur--for Hamish's undimmed gaiety did sometimes jar upon
his wearied spirit. "I shall go to Dove and Dove's if they will take
me," he added, resolutely. "Will you answer for me, Hamish, in my
"What amount of security do they require?" asked Hamish. And it was a
very proper, a very natural question; but even that grated on Arthur's
"Are you afraid of me?" he rejoined. "Or do you fear my father would
"I dare say they would take my security," was Hamish's reply. "I will
answer for you to any amount. That is," and again came his smile, "to
any amount they may deem me good for. If they don't like mine, I can
offer my father's. Will that do, Arthur?"
"Thank you; that is all I want."
"Don't go to Dove and Dove's, old boy," Hamish said again, as Arthur
was leaving the room. "Wait patiently for something better to turn up.
There's no such great hurry. I wish there was room for you to come
"It is only a temporary thing; it is not for long," replied Arthur; and
he went out.
On going back to Dove and Dove's, the first person he saw, upon opening
the door of the clerks' room, was Mr. Alfred Dove. He appeared to be in
a passion over something that had gone wrong, and was talking fast and
"What do you want?" he asked, wheeling round upon Arthur. Arthur
replied by intimating that he would be glad to speak with him.
"Can't you speak, then?" returned Mr. Alfred Dove. "I am not deaf."
Thus met, Arthur did not repeat his wish for privacy. He intimated his
business, uncertain whether Mr. Alfred Dove had heard of it or not; and
stated that the security could be given.
"I don't know what you mean about 'security,'" was Mr. Alfred Dove's
rejoinder. "What security?"
"Mr. Dove said that if I came into your office security would be
required," answered Arthur. "My friends are ready to give it."
"Mr. Dove told you that, did he? Just like him. He has nothing to do
with the details of the office. Did he know who you are?"
"Certainly he did, sir."
"I should have thought not," offensively returned Mr. Alfred Dove. "You
must possess some assurance, young man, to come after a place in a
respectable office. Security, or no security, we can't admit one into
ours, who lies under the accusation of being light-fingered."
It was the man all over. Hamish had said, "Don't go to Dove and
Dove's." Mr. Alfred Dove stood with his finger pointing to the door,
and the two clerks stared in an insolent manner at Arthur. With a
burning brow and rising spirit, Arthur left the room, and halted for a
moment in the passage outside. "Patience, patience," he murmured to
himself; "patience, and trust in God!" He turned into the street
quickly, and ran against Mr. Huntley.
For a minute he could not speak. That gentleman detected his emotion,
and waited till it was over. "Have you been insulted, Arthur?" he
"Not much more so than I am now getting accustomed to," was the answer
that came from his quivering lips. "I heard they wanted a clerk, and
went to offer myself. I am looked upon as a felon now, Mr. Huntley."
"Being innocent as the day."
"I am innocent, before God," spoke Arthur, in the impulse of his
emotion, in the fervency of his heart. That he spoke but the solemn
truth, it was impossible to doubt, even had Mr. Huntley been inclined
to doubt; and Arthur may be excused for forgetting his usual caution in
the moment's bitterness.
"Arthur," said Mr. Huntley, "I promised your father and mother that I
should do all in my power to establish your innocence. Can you tell me
how I am to set about it?"
"You cannot do it at all, Mr. Huntley. Things must remain as they are."
"I cannot explain why. I can only repeat it."
"There is some strange mystery attaching to this."
Arthur did not gainsay it.
"Arthur, if I am to allow the affair to rest as I find it, you must at
least give me a reason why I may not act. What is it?"
"Because the investigation could only cause tenfold deeper trouble. You
are very good to think of helping me, Mr. Huntley, but I must fight my
own battle. Others must be quiet in this matter--for all our sakes."
Mr. Huntley gazed after Arthur as he moved away. Constance first!
Arthur next! What could be the meaning of it all? Where did the mystery
lie? A resolution grew up in Mr. Huntley's heart that he would fathom
it, for private reasons of his own; and, in the impulse of the moment,
he bent his steps there and then, towards the police-station, and
demanded an interview with Roland Yorke's _bete noire_, Mr. Butterby.
But the cathedral is not quite done with for the afternoon.
Upon the conclusion of service, the dean lingered a few minutes in the
nave, speaking to one of the vergers. When he turned to continue his
way, he encountered the Rev. Mr. Pye, who had been taking off his
surplice in the vestry. The choristers had been taking off their
surplices also, and were now trooping through the cloisters back to the
schoolroom, not more gently than usual. The dean saluted Mr. Pye, and
they walked out together.
"It is impossible to keep them quiet unless one's eye is continually
upon them!" exclaimed the head-master, half apologetically, as they
came in view of the rebels. He had a great mind to add, "And one's
"Boys will be boys," said the dean. "How has this foolish opinion
arisen among them, that the names, standing first on the roll for the
seniorship, will not be allowed to compete for it?" continued he, with
Mr. Pye looked rather flushed. "Really I am unable to say, Mr. Dean. It
is difficult to account for all the notions taken up by schoolboys."
"Boys do take up strange notions," blandly assented the dean. "But, I
think, were I you, Mr. Pye, I would set their minds at rest in this
respect. You have not yet deemed it worth while, I dare say: but it may
perhaps be as well to do so. When the elders of a school once take up
the idea that their studies may not meet with due reward, it tends to
render them indifferent. I remember once--it was just after I came here
as dean, many years ago--the head-master of the school exalted a boy to
be senior who stood sixth or seventh on the rolls, and was positively
half an idiot. But those times are past."
"Certainly they are," remarked the master.
"It was an unpleasant duty I had to perform then," continued the dean,
in the same agreeable tone, as if he were relating an anecdote:
"unpleasant both for the parents of the boy, and for the head-master.
But, as I remark, such things could not occur now. I think I would
intimate to the king's scholars that they have nothing to fear."
"It shall be done, Mr. Dean," was the response of the master; and they
exchanged bows as the dean turned into the deanery. "She's three parts
a fool, is that Lady Augusta," muttered the master to the
cloister-flags as he strode over them. "Chattering magpie!"
As circumstances had it, the way was paved for the master to speak at
once. Upon entering the college schoolroom, in passing the senior desk,
he overheard whispered words of dispute between Gerald Yorke and Pierce
senior, touching this very question, the seniorship. The master reached
his own desk, gave it a sharp rap with a cane that lay near to hand,
and spoke in his highest tone, looking red and angry.
"What _are_ these disputes that appear to have been latterly disturbing
the peace of the school? What is that you are saying, Gerald
Yorke?--that the seniorship is to be yours?"
Gerald Yorke looked red in his turn, and somewhat foolish. "I beg your
pardon, sir; I was not saying precisely that," he answered with
"I think you were saying precisely that," was the response of the
master. "My ears are quicker than you may fancy, Mr. Yorke. If you
really have been hugging yourself with the notion that the promotion
will be yours, the sooner you disabuse your mind of it, the better.
Whoever gains the seniorship will gain it by priority of right, by
scholarship, or by conduct--as the matter may be. Certainly not by
anything else. Allow me to recommend you, one and all"--and the master
threw his eyes round the desks generally, and gave another emphatic
stroke with the cane--"that you concern yourselves with your legitimate
business; not with mine."
Gerald did not like the reproof, or the news. He remained silent and
sullen until the conclusion of school, and then went tearing home.
"A pretty block you have made of me!" he uttered, bursting into the
presence of Lady Augusta, who had just returned home, and sat fanning
herself on a sofa before an open window.
"Why, what has taken you?" returned her ladyship.
"It's a shame, mother! Filling me up with the news that I was to be
senior? And now Pye goes and announces that I'm a fool for supposing
so, and that it's to go in regular rotation."
"Pye does not mean it," said my lady. "There, hold your tongue, Gerald.
I am too hot to talk."
"I know that every fellow in the school will have the laugh at me, if I
am to be made a block of, like this!" grumbled Gerald.
THE EARL OF CARRICK.
On a fine afternoon in August--and the month was now drawing towards
its close--the 2.25 train from London steamed into the station at
Helstonleigh, eight minutes behind time, and came to a standstill.
Amongst the passengers who alighted, was a gentleman of middle age, as
it is called--in point of fact, he had entered his fiftieth year, as
the peerage would have told any curious inquirer. As he stepped out of
a first-class carriage, several eyes were drawn towards him, for he was
of notable height, towering above every one; even above Roland Yorke,
who was of good height himself, and stood on the platform waiting for
It was the Earl of Carrick, brother to Lady Augusta Yorke, and much
resembling her--a pleasant, high cheek-boned, easy face, betraying more
of good humour than of high or keen intellect, and nothing of pride.
The pride of the young Yorkes was sometimes talked of in Helstonleigh,
but it came from their father's side, not from Lady Augusta's. The earl
spoke with a slight brogue, and shook both Roland's hands heartily, as
soon as he found that it was to Roland they belonged.
"Sure then! but I didn't know ye, Roland! If ye had twenty years more
on to ye're head, I should have thought it was ye're father."
"Have I grown like him, Uncle Carrick?"
"Ye've grown out of knowledge, me boy. And how's ye're mother, and how
are the rest of ye?"
"Stunning," responded Roland. "They are all outside. She would bring up
the whole caravan. The last time the lot came to the station, the two
young ones got upon the line to dance a hornpipe on the rails; so she
has kept them by her, and is making Gerald and Tod look after them.
Where's your luggage, Uncle Carrick? Have you brought a servant?"
"Not I," replied the earl. "Servants are only troubles in other folk's
houses, and me bit of luggage isn't so much but I can look after it
meself. I hope they put it in," he continued, looking about amid the
boxes and portmanteaus, and unable to see his own.
The luggage was found at last, and given in charge of a porter; and
Lord Carrick went out to meet his relatives. There were enough of them
to meet--the whole caravan, as Roland had expressed it. Lady Augusta
sat in her barouche--her two daughters and Constance and Annabel
Channing with her. Little Percy and Frank, two most troublesome
children, were darting in and out amidst the carriages, flys, and
omnibuses; and Gerald and Tod had enough to do to keep them out of
danger. It was so like Lady Augusta--bringing them all to the station
to welcome their uncle! Warm-hearted and impulsive, she had little more
judgment than a child. Constance had in vain protested against herself
and Annabel being pressed into the company; but her lady-ship looked
upon it as a sort of triumphal expedition, and was deaf to
The earl, warm-hearted and impulsive also, kissed them all, Constance
included. She could not help herself; before she was aware of the
honour intended her, the kiss was given--a hearty smack, as all the
rest had. The well-meaning, simple-minded Irishman could not have been
made to understand why he should not give a kiss of greeting to
Constance as readily as he gave it to his sister, or his sister's
daughters. He protested that he remembered Constance and Annabel well.
It may be questioned whether there was not more of Irish politeness
than of truth in the assertion, though he had seen them occasionally,
during his visit of three years ago.
How were they all to get home? In and on the barouche, as all, except
Roland, had come, to the gratification of the curious town? Lord
Carrick wished to walk; his long legs were cramped: but Lady Augusta
would not hear of it, and pulled him into the carriage, Gerald, Percy,
and Frank were fighting for places on the box beside the driver, Tod
intending to hang on behind, as he had done in coming, when the
deep-toned college bell struck out a quarter to three, and the sound
came distinctly to their ears, borne from the distance. It put a stop
to the competition, so far as Gerald was concerned. He and Tod,
startled half out of their senses, for they had not observed the lapse
of time, set off on foot as hard as they could go.
Meanwhile, Roland, putting aside the two young ones with his strong
hand, chose to mount the box himself; at which they both began to
shriek and roar. Matters were compromised after a while; Percy was
taken up by Roland, and Frank was, by some process of packing, stowed
away inside. Then the cargo started! Lady Augusta happy as a princess,
with her newly-met brother and her unruly children, and not caring in
the least for the gaze of the people who stood in the street, or came
rushing to their windows and doors to criticise the load.
Crowded as the carriage was, it was pleasanter to be in it, on that
genial day, than to be at work in close rooms, dark shops, or dull
offices. Amongst others, who were so confined and hard at work, was
Jenkins at Mr. Galloway's. Poor Jenkins had not improved in health
during the week or two that had elapsed since you last saw him. His
cough was more troublesome still, and he was thinner and weaker. But
Jenkins, humble and conscientious, thinking himself one who was not
worth thinking of at all in comparison with others, would have died at
his post rather than give in. Certainly, Arthur Channing had been
discharged at a most inopportune moment, for Mr. Galloway, as steward
to the Dean and Chapter, had more to do about Michaelmas, than at any
other time of the year. From that epoch until November, when the yearly
audit took place, there was a good deal of business to be gone through.
On this afternoon, Jenkins was particularly busy. Mr. Galloway was away
from home for a day or two--on business connected with that scapegrace
cousin of his, Roland Yorke proclaimed; though whether Mr. Roland had
any foundation for the assertion, except his own fancy, may be
doubted--and Jenkins had it all upon his own shoulders. Jenkins,
unobtrusive and meek though he was, was perfectly competent to manage,
and Mr. Galloway left him with entire trust. But it is one thing to be
competent to manage, and another thing to be able to do two persons'
work in one person's time; and, that, Jenkins was finding this
afternoon. He had letters to write; he had callers to answer; he had
the general business of the office to attend to; he had the regular
deeds to prepare and copy. The copying of those deeds was the work
belonging to Roland Yorke. Roland did not seem to be in a hurry to come
to them. Jenkins cast towards them an anxious eye, but Jenkins could do
no more, for his own work could not be neglected. He felt very unwell
that afternoon--oppressed, hot, unable to breathe. He wiped the
moisture from his brow three or four times, and then thought he might
be the better for a little air, and opened the window. But the breeze,
gentle as it was, made him cough, and he shut it again.
Of course, no one, knowing Mr. Roland Yorke, could be surprised at his
starting to the station to meet Lord Carrick, instead of to the office
to do his work. He had gone home at one o'clock that day, as usual. Not
that there was any necessity for his doing so, for the dinner hour was
postponed until later, and it would have furthered the business of the
office had he remained for once at his post. Had any one suggested to
Roland to do so, he would have thought he was going to be worked to
death. About twenty minutes past three he came clattering in.
"I say, Jenkins, I want a holiday this afternoon."
Jenkins, albeit the most accommodating spirit in the world, looked
dubious, and cast a glance at the papers on Roland's desk. "Yes, sir.
But what is to be done about the Uphill farm leases?"
"Now, Jenkins, it's not a bit of good for you to begin to croak! If I
gave in to you, you'd get as bad as Galloway. When I have my mind off
work, I can't settle to it again, and it's of no use trying. Those
Uphill deeds are not wanted before to-morrow."
"But they are wanted by eleven o'clock, sir, so that they must be
finished, or nearly finished, to-night. You know, sir, there has been a
fuss about them, and early to-morrow, is the very latest time they must
be sent in."
"I'll get up, and be here in good time and finish them," said Roland.
"Just put it to yourself, Jenkins, if you had an uncle that you'd not
seen for seventeen ages, whether you'd like to leave him the minute he
puts his foot over the door-sill."
"I dare say I should not, sir," said good-natured Jenkins, turning
about in his mind how he could make time to do Roland's work. "His
lordship is come, then, Mr. Roland?"
"His lordship's come, bag and baggage," returned Roland. "I say,
Jenkins, what a thousand shames it is that he's not rich! He is the
best-natured fellow alive, and would do anything in the world for us,
if he only had the tin."
"Is he not rich, sir?"
"Why, of course he's not," confidentially returned Roland. "Every one
knows the embarrassments of Lord Carrick. When he came into the
estates, they had been mortgaged three deep by the last peer, my
grandfather--an old guy in a velvet skull-cap, I remember, who took
snuff incessantly--and my uncle, on his part, had mortgaged them three
deep again, which made six. How Carrick manages to live nobody knows.
Sometimes he's in Ireland, in the tumble-down old homestead, with just
a couple of servants to wait upon him; and sometimes he's on the
Continent, _en garcon_--if you know what that means. Now and then he
gets a windfall when any of his tenants can be brought to pay up; but
he is the easiest-going coach in life, and won't press them. Wouldn't
"Some of those Irish tenants are very poor, sir, I have heard."
"Poor be hanged! What is a man's own, ought to be his own. Carrick says
there are some years that he does not draw two thousand pounds, all
"Indeed, sir! That is not much for a peer."
"It's not much for a commoner, let alone a peer," said Roland, growing
fierce. "If I were no better off than Carrick, I'd drop the title;
that's what I'd do. Why, if he could live as a peer ought, do you
suppose we should be in the position we are? One a soldier; one (and
that's me) lowered to be a common old proctor; one a parson; and all
the rest of it! If Carrick could be as other earls are, and have
interest with the Government, and that, we should stand a chance of
getting properly provided for. Of course he can make interest with
nobody while his estates bring him in next door to nothing."
"Are there no means of improving his estates, Mr. Roland?" asked
"If there were, he's not the one to do it. And I don't know that it
would do him any material good, after all," acknowledged Roland. "If he
gets one thousand a year, he spends two; and if he had twenty thousand,
he'd spend forty. It might come to the same in the long run, so far as
he goes: _we_ might be the better for it, and should be. It's a shame,
though, that we should need to be the better for other folk's money; if
this were not the most unjust world going, everybody would have
fortunes of their own."
After this friendly little bit of confidence touching his uncle's
affairs, Roland prepared to depart. "I'll be sure to come in good time
In the morning, Jenkins, and set to it like a brick," was his parting
Away he went. Jenkins, with his aching head and his harassing cough,
applied himself diligently, as he ever did, to the afternoon's work,
and got through it by six o'clock, which was later than usual. There
then remained the copying, which Mr. Roland Yorke ought to have done.
Knowing the value of Roland's promises, and knowing also that if he
kept this promise ever so strictly, the amount of copying was more than
could be completed in time, if left to the morning, Jenkins did as he
had been aware he must do, when talking with Roland--took it home with
The parchments under his arm, he set out on his walk. What could be the
matter with him, that he felt so weak, he asked himself as he went
along. It must be, he believed, having gone without his dinner. Jenkins
generally went home to dinner at twelve, and returned at one;
occasionally, however, he did not go until two, according to the
exigencies of the office; this day, he had not gone at all, but had cut
a sandwich at breakfast-time and brought it with him in his pocket.
He had proceeded as far as the elm trees in the Boundaries--for Jenkins
generally chose the quiet cloister way for his road home--when he saw
Arthur Channing advancing towards him. With the ever-ready, respectful,
cordial smile with which he was wont to greet Arthur whenever he saw
him, Jenkins quickened his steps. But suddenly the smile seemed to fix
itself upon his lips; and the parchments fell from his arm, and he
staggered against the palings. But that Arthur was at hand to support
him, he might have fallen to the ground.
"Why, what is it, Jenkins?" asked Arthur, kindly, when Jenkins was
beginning to recover himself.
"Thank you, sir; I don't know what it could have been. Just as I was
looking at you, a mist seemed to come before my eyes, and I felt giddy.
I suppose it was a sort of faintness that came over me. I had been
thinking that I felt weary. Thank you very much, sir."
"Take my arm, Jenkins," said Arthur, as he picked up the parchments,
and took possession of them. "I'll see you home."
"Oh no, sir, indeed," protested simple-hearted Jenkins; "I'd not think
of such a thing. I should feel quite ashamed, sir, at the thought of
your being seen arm-in-arm with me in the street. I can go quite well
alone; I can, indeed, sir."
Arthur burst out laughing. "I wish you wouldn't be such an old duffer,
Jenkins--as the college boys have it! Do you suppose I should let you
go home by yourself? Come along."
Drawing Jenkins's arm within his own, Arthur turned with him. Jenkins
really did not like it. Sensitive to a degree was he: and, to his
humble mind, it seemed that Arthur was out of place, walking familiarly
"You must have been doing something to tire yourself," said Arthur as
they went along.
"It has been a pretty busy day, sir, now Mr. Galloway's away. I did not
go home to dinner, for one thing."
"And Mr. Roland Yorke absent for another, I suppose?"
"Only this afternoon, sir. His uncle, Lord Carrick, has arrived. Oh,
sir!" broke off Jenkins, stopping in a panic, "here's his lordship the
bishop coming along! Whatever shall you do?"
"Do!" returned Arthur, scarcely understanding him. "What should I do?"
"To think that he should see you thus with the like of me!"
It amused Arthur exceedingly. Poor, lowly-minded Jenkins! The bishop
appeared to divine the state of the case, for he stopped when he came
up. Possibly he was struck by the wan hue which overspread Jenkins's
"You look ill, Jenkins," he said, nodding to Arthur Channing. "Keep
your hat on, Jenkins--keep your hat on."
"Thank you, my lord," replied Jenkins, disregarding the injunction
touching his hat. "A sort of faintness came over me just now under the
elm trees, and this gentleman insisted upon walking home with me, in
spite of my protestations to--"
Jenkins was stopped by a fit of coughing--a long, violent fit, sounding
hollow as the grave. The bishop watched him till it was over. Arthur
"I think you should take better care of yourself, Jenkins," remarked
his lordship. "Is any physician attending you?"
"Oh, my lord, I am not ill enough yet for that. My wife made me go to
Mr. Hurst the other day, my lord, and he gave me a bottle of something.
But he said it was not medicine that I wanted."
"I should advise you to go to a physician, Jenkins. A stitch in time
saves nine, you know," the bishop added, in his free good humour.
"So it does, my lord. Thank your lordship for thinking of me," added
Jenkins, as the bishop said good afternoon, and pursued his way. And
then, and not till then, did Jenkins put on his hat again.
"Mr. Arthur, would you be so kind as not to say anything to my wife
about my being poorly?" asked Jenkins, as they drew near to his home.
"She'd be perhaps, for saying I should not go again yet to the office;
and a pretty dilemma that would put me in, Mr. Galloway being absent.
She'd get so fidgety, too: she kills me with kindness, if she thinks I
am ill. The broth and arrowroot, and other messes, sir, that she makes
me swallow, are untellable."
"All right," said Arthur.
But the intention was frustrated. Who should be standing at the
shop-door but Mrs. Jenkins herself. She saw them before they saw her,
and she saw that her husband looked like a ghost, and was supported by
Arthur. Of course, she drew her own conclusions; and Mrs. Jenkins was
one who did not allow her conclusions to be set aside. When Jenkins
found that he was seen and suspected, he held out no longer, but
honestly confessed the worst--that he had been taken with a giddiness.
"Of course," said Mrs. Jenkins, as she pushed a chair here and another
there, partly in temper, partly to free the narrow passage through the
shop to the parlour. "I have been expecting nothing less all day. Every
group of footsteps slower than usual, I have thought it was a shutter
arriving and you on it, dropped dead from exhaustion. Would you
believe"--turning short round on Arthur Channing--"that he has been
such a donkey as to fast from breakfast time? And with that cough upon
"Not quite so fast, my dear," deprecated Jenkins. "I ate the paper of
"Paper of rubbish!" retorted Mrs. Jenkins. "What good do sandwiches do
a weakly man? You might eat a ton-load, and be none the better for it.
Well, Jenkins, you may take your leave of having your own way."
Poor Jenkins might have deferentially intimated that he never did have
it. Mrs. Jenkins resumed:
"He said he'd carry a sandwich with him this morning, instead of coming
home to dinner. I said, 'No.' And afterwards I was such a simpleton as
to yield! And here's the effects of it! Sit yourself down in the
easy-chair," she added, taking Jenkins by the arms and pushing him into
it. "And I'll make the tea now," concluded she, turning to the table
where the tea-things were set out. "There's some broiled fowl coming up
"I don't feel as if I could eat this evening," Jenkins ventured to say.
"_Not eat_!" she repeated with emphasis. "You had better eat--that's
all. I don't want to have you falling down exhausted here, as you did
in the Boundaries."
"And as soon as you have had your tea, you should go to bed," put in
"I can't, sir. I have three or four hours' work at that deed. It must
be done." "At this?" returned Arthur, opening the papers he had
carried home. "Oh, I see; it is a lease. I'll copy this for you,
Jenkins. I have nothing to do to-night. You take your ease, and go to
And in spite of their calls, Jenkins's protestations against taking up
his time and trouble, and Mrs. Jenkins's proffered invitation to
partake of tea and broiled fowl, Arthur departed carrying off the work.
"A pretty time o' day this is to deliver the letters. It's eleven
"I can't help it. The train broke down, and was three hours behind its
"I dare say! You letter-men want looking up: that's what it is. Coming
to folks's houses at eleven o'clock, when they have been waiting and
looking ever since breakfast-time!"
"It's not my fault, I say. Take the letter."
Judith received it with a grunt, for it was between her and the postman
that the colloquy had taken place. A delay had occurred that morning in
the delivery, and Judith was resenting it, feeling half inclined to
reject the letter, now that it had come. The letters from Germany
arrived irregularly; sometimes by the afternoon post at four, sometimes
by the morning; the only two deliveries in Helstonleigh. A letter had
been fully expected this morning, and when the time passed over, they
supposed there was none.
It was directed to Miss Channing. Judith, who was quite as anxious
about her master's health as the children were, went off at once with
it to Lady Augusta Yorke's, just as she was, without the ceremony of
putting on a bonnet. Though she did wear a mob-cap and a check apron,
she looked what she was--a respectable servant in a respectable family;
and the Boundaries so regarded her, as she passed through them, letter
in hand. Martha, Lady Augusta's housemaid, answered the door,
presenting a contrast to Judith. Martha wore a crinoline as big as her
lady's, and a starched-out muslin gown over it, with flounces and
frillings, for Martha was "dressed" for the day. Her arms, red and
large, were displayed beneath her open sleeves, and something that
looked like a bit of twisted lace was stuck on the back of her head.
Martha called it a "cap." Judith was a plain servant, and Martha was a
fashionable one; but I know which looked the better of the two.
Judith would not give in the letter. She asked for the young mistress,
and Constance came to her in the hall. "Just open it, please, Miss
Constance, and tell me how he is," said she anxiously; and Constance
broke the seal of the letter.
"_Borcette. Hotel Rosenbad, September, 18--_."
"My Dear Child,--Still better and better! The improvement, which I told
you in my last week's letter had begun to take place so rapidly as to
make us fear it was only a deceitful one, turns out to have been real.
Will you believe it, when I tell you that your papa can _walk_! With
the help of my arm, he can walk across the room and along the passage;
and to-morrow he is going to try to get down the first flight of
stairs. None but God can know how thankful I am; not even my children.
If this change has taken place in the first month (and it is not yet
quite that), what may we not expect in the next--and the next? Your
papa is writing to Hamish, and will confirm what I say."
This much Constance read aloud. Judith gave a glad laugh. "It's just as
everybody told the master," said she. "A fine, strong, handsome man,
like him, wasn't likely to be laid down for life like a baby, when he
was hardly middle-aged. These doctors here be just so many muffs. When
I get too old for work, I'll go to Germany myself, Miss Constance, and
ask 'em to make me young again."
Constance smiled. She was running her eyes over the rest of the letter,
which was a long one. She caught sight of Arthur's name. There were
some loving, gentle messages to him, and then these words: "Hamish says
Arthur applied at Dove and Dove's for a clerk's place, but did not come
to terms with them. We are glad that he did not. Papa says he should
not like to have one of his boys at Dove and Dove's."
"And here's a little bit for you, Judith," Constance said aloud. "Tell
Judith not to be over-anxious in her place of trust; and not to
over-work herself, but to let Sarah take her full share. There is no
hurry about the bed-furniture; Sarah can do it in an evening at her
Judith received the latter portion of the message with scorn. "'Tisn't
me that's going to let _her_ do it! A fine do it would be, Miss
Constance! The first thing I shall see, when I go back now, will be her
head stretched out at one of the windows, and the kidney beans left to
string and cut themselves in the kitchen!"
Judith turned to depart. She never would allow any virtues to her
helpmate Sarah, who gave about the same trouble to her that young
servants of twenty generally give to old ones. Constance followed her
to the door, saying something which had suddenly occurred to her mind
about domestic affairs, when who should she meet, coming in, but the
Rev. William Yorke! He had just left the Cathedral after morning
prayers, and was calling at Lady Augusta's.
Both were confused; both stopped, face to face, in hesitation.
Constance grew crimson; Mr. Yorke pale. It was the first time they had
met since the parting. There was an angry feeling against Constance in
the mind of Mr. Yorke; he considered that she had not treated him with
proper confidence; and in his proud nature--the Yorke blood was his--he
was content to resent it. He did not expect to _lose_ Constance
eventually; he thought that the present storm would blow over some
time, and that things would come right again. We are all too much given
to trust to that vague "some time." In Constance's mind there existed a
soreness against Mr. Yorke. He had doubted her; he had accepted (if he
had not provoked) too readily her resignation of him. Unlike him, she
saw no prospect of the future setting matters right. Marry him, whilst
the cloud lay upon Arthur, she would not, after he had intimated his
opinion and sentiments: and that cloud could only be lifted at the
expense of another.
They exchanged a confused greeting; neither of them conscious how it
passed. Mr. Yorke's attention was then caught by the open letter in her
hand--by the envelope bearing the foreign post-marks. "How is Mr.
Channing?" he asked.
"So much better that it seems little short of a miracle," replied
Constance. "Mamma says," glancing at the letter, "that he can walk,
leaning on her arm."
"I am so glad to hear it! Hamish told me last week that he was
improving. I trust it may go on to a cure."
"Thank you," replied Constance. And she made him a pretty little state
curtsey as she turned away, not choosing to see the hand he would fain
have offered her.
Mr. Yorke's voice brought a head and shoulders out at the
breakfast-room door. They belonged to Lord Carrick. He and Lady Augusta
were positively at breakfast at that hour of the day. His lordship's
eyes followed the pretty form of Constance as she disappeared up the
staircase on her return to the schoolroom. William Yorke's were cast in
the same direction. Then their eyes--the peer's and the
"Ye have given her up, I understand, Master William?"
"Master William" vouchsafed no reply. He deemed it a little piece of
"Bad taste!" continued Lord Carrick. "If I were only twenty years
younger, and she'd not turn up her nose at me for a big daft of an
Irishman, _you'd_ not get her, me lad. She's the sweetest little thing
I have come across this many a day."
To which the Rev. William Yorke condescended no answer, unless a
haughty gesture expressive of indignation might be called one, as he
brushed past Lord Carrick into the breakfast-room.
At that very hour, and in a breakfast-room also--though all signs of
the meal had long been removed--were Mr. Huntley and his daughter. The
same praise, just bestowed by Lord Carrick upon Constance Channing,
might with equal justice be given to Ellen Huntley. She was a lovely
girl, three or four years older than Harry, with pretty features and
soft dark eyes. What is more, she was a good girl--a noble,
generous-hearted girl, although (you know no one is perfection) with a
spice of self-will. For the latter quality I think Ellen was more
indebted to circumstances than to Nature. Mrs. Huntley was dead, and a
maiden sister of Mr. Huntley's, older than himself, resided with them
and ruled Ellen; ruled her with a tight hand; not a kind one, or a
judicious one; and that had brought out Miss Ellen's self-will. Miss
Huntley was very starched, prim, and stiff--very unnatural, in
short--and she wished to make Ellen the same. Ellen rebelled, for she
much disliked everything artificial. She was truthful, honest,
straightforward; not unlike the character of Tom Channing. Miss Huntley
complained that she was too straightforward to be ladylike; Ellen said
she was sure she should never be otherwise than straightforward, so it
was of no use trying. Then Miss Huntley would take offence, and
threaten Ellen with "altering her will," and that would vex Ellen more
than anything. Young ladies rarely care for money, especially when they
have plenty of it; and Ellen Huntley would have that, from her father.
"As if I cared for my aunt's money!" she would say. "I wish she may not
leave it to me." And she was sincere in the wish. Their controversies
frequently amused Mr. Huntley. Agreeing in heart and mind with his
daughter, he would yet make a playful show of taking his sister's part.
Miss Huntley knew it to be show--done to laugh at her--and would grow
as angry with him as she was with Ellen.
Mr. Huntley was not laughing, however, this morning. On the contrary,
he appeared to be in a very serious, not to say solemn mood. He slowly
paced the room, as was his custom when anything disturbed him, stopping
at moments to reflect, buried in thought. Ellen sat at a table by the
window, drawing. The house was Mr. Huntley's own--a white villa with a
sloping lawn in front. It was situated outside the town, on a gentle
eminence, and commanded a view of the charming scenery for which the
county was famous.
Ellen, who had glanced up two or three times, concerned to see the very
stern, perplexed look on her father's face, at length spoke, "Is
anything the matter, papa?"
Mr. Huntley did not answer. He was standing close to the table then,
apparently looking at Ellen, at her white morning dress and its blue
ribbons: it, and she altogether, a fair picture. Probably he saw
neither her nor her dress--he was too deeply absorbed.
"You are not ill, are you, papa?"
"Ill!" he answered, rousing himself. "No, Ellen, I am not ill."
"Then you have had something to vex you, papa?"
"I have," emphatically replied Mr. Huntley. "And the worst is, that my
vexation will not be confined to myself, I believe. It may extend to
Mr. Huntley's manner was so serious, his look so peculiar as he gazed
at her, that Ellen felt a rush of discomfort, and the colour spread
itself over her fair face. She jumped to the conclusion that she had
been giving offence in some way--that Miss Huntley must have been
complaining of her.
"Has my aunt been telling you about last night, papa? Harry had two of
the college boys here, and I unfortunately laughed and talked with
them, and she said afterwards I had done it on purpose to annoy her.
But I assure you, papa--"