Part 9 out of 12
any of the Channings; and it was curious that it had not done so.
"I think not, sir," replied Tom.
"Then, that's where Charles is, locked up in the cloisters!" said the
master, the recollection of the former locking-up no doubt helping him
to the conclusion. "The fact of the keys having been left hanging
outside the cloister door might have been sufficient to direct your
Tom felt the force of the words, and was wondering how it was he had
not thought of it, when a cry burst from Judith.
"If he is there, he will never come out alive! Oh, sir, what will
become of us?"
The master was surprised. He knew it was not a desirable situation for
any young boy; but "never come out alive" were strong terms. Judy
explained them. She poured into the master's ears the unhappy story of
Charles having been frightened in childhood; of his propensity still to
"Make haste round! we must have the cloisters opened immediately!"
exclaimed the master, as all the full truth of the dread imparted by
Judith became clear to him. "Channing, you have light heels; run on,
and knock up Ketch."
Tom tore off; never a lighter pair of heels than his, to-night; and the
master and the old servant followed. The master's sympathies, nay, his
lively fears, were strongly awakened, and he could not leave the affair
in this stage, late though the hour was.
They arrived, to find Tom pummelling at Ketch's door. But to pummel was
one thing, and to arouse Mr. Ketch was another. Mr. Ketch chose to
remain deaf. "I'll try the window," said Tom, "He must hear; his bed is
close at hand."
He knocked sharply; and it at length elicited an answer from the drowsy
gentleman, composed of growls and abuse.
"Get up!" called out Tom. "The keys of the cloisters are wanted."
"Then they may be wanted!" responded old Ketch in a muffled tone, as if
he were speaking from under the bed-clothes. "I'll see you all furder
before you get the keys from me."
"Ketch, produce the keys this instant!" interposed the master. "You
know my voice; Mr. Pye's. How dare you?"
"I'll 'dare' you all, if you don't go away!" raved old Ketch,
mistaking, or pretending to mistake, the disturbers for his enemies,
the college boys. "It's a second edition of the trick you played me
this evening, is it? I'll go to the dean with the first glimmer o'
"Ketch, I am the head-master. I have come for the cloister keys.
There's a boy locked in the cloisters!"
"Is there? Praise be given up for that! I wouldn't unlock him for a
mint o' diaments. If you don't be off, I'll call the police."
"Fire! fire!" shouted Judy, in a shrill tone, putting her mouth to the
keyhole; for she despaired of gaining Ketch by any other means. "What
an idiot you are, old Ketch! Do you want to be burnt up alive?"
"Fire!" shouted Tom, in stentorian tones. "Fire! fire!" And Ketch,
whether he was really alarmed, or whether he recognized the
head-master's voice, and thought it imprudent to hold out any longer,
tumbled out of bed, opened the door, and appeared before them in attire
more airy than elegant. Another minute, and impetuous Tom would have
burst the window in.
"Beg pardon," said Ketch, ungraciously, to the master. "Them boys play
me up such tricks, that I'm always thinking of 'em. Where's the fire?"
"I don't think it's anywhere," said the master. "The cloister keys,
Ketch: and make haste. Which of the boys played you that trick
Ketch gave a yell, for the point was a sore one. "I never set eyes on
one of 'em! They're too cunning for me."
"Was my brother Charles one?" asked Tom, while Mr. Pye hastened away
with the cloister keys.
"I tell ye I never see'd one! Can't you believe?" Tom did believe, and
went after the master and Judy.
They entered the cloisters, and shouted for Charles. Nothing answered
them but the echoes. To _see_ whether he was there, was impossible.
Judy thought he might be lying somewhere, insensible from fright, and
she ran up and down feeling into niches, as one demented. Mr. Pye sent
Tom back to old Ketch's for a light, which was not supplied without
He was turning away with it, when Hamish came up. Hamish had been with
all speed to Mr. Huntley's, to question Harry, as senior of the school,
whether he knew what the trick of the night had been, and what boys
were in it. Harry, however, who was in bed, assured Hamish of his
complete ignorance. But for Mr. Huntley's veto, he would have got up
and gone out to join in the search, and enjoyed it amazingly.
They carried the candle to every nook and corner of the cloisters, no
result arising from it. Hamish and Tom climbed over and searched the
burial-ground. He was not there. No signs, for their keen eyes, or for
any others, remained of the night's work: the college boys were
cautious. A couple of matches, half-burnt, lay on the ground in the
north quadrangle, but they told nothing. The boys were often lighting
matches, as the master knew.
"I really think you must be mistaken in supposing Charles's absence has
to do with this trick played upon old Ketch--whatever it may have
been," he observed. "It does not appear that the boys have been in the
cloisters. Had any of them been locked in here, here they would be
There was no denying it, and they left the cloisters and closed them.
The keys were conveyed to Ketch, who had to get out of bed again to
receive them, which he did with a great amount of wrath. Mr. Pye
thought it would be proved that Charles must be at the house of one of
the boys, carelessness or accident having detained him. And then he
wished them good night and went home.
Completely at a loss were they. Hamish, ever hopeful, thought Charles
had perhaps returned home: and they bent their steps thither. No, no;
Constance, Arthur, and curious Sarah, were all outside, looking every
way. Constance was too agitated to remain indoors. Arthur had just
returned home. He had been to the houses of some of the college boys,
those with whom Charles was most intimate, but could obtain no tidings
Constance burst into tears. She grew excessively alarmed, when Judy
mentioned the doubt lest he had been shut in the cloisters. "But that
fear is done away with," said Hamish. "We have searched them
thoroughly. Do not distress yourself, Constance."
"There goes midnight!" exclaimed Judy.
"Ugh!" shivered Sarah. "I feel just as if somebody was walking over my
"If they were walking over you, it mightn't be amiss," reprimanded
Judith. "Don't talk such stuff as that, girl, in the young mistress's
The words died away into silence, and they stood listening to the
strokes of the deep-toned cathedral bell. With the last, twelve,
another day had dawned upon the world. What would it bring forth for
"I shall go to the police-station," said Hamish. "Constance, my dear,
you had better not remain outside. Go indoors."
It was well to say "Go indoors," but in the agitation and suspense at
that moment overwhelming Constance, "indoors" was not so easy to bear.
Hamish strode off, Tom following him. Arthur remained with his sister,
waiting and watching still.
And so they waited and watched through the livelong night. Hamish was
at work; the police were at work; Tom was at work: but neither sign nor
trace could be found of Charles Channing.
AN OFFICIAL CEREMONY INTERRUPTED.
A grey dusky morning, enveloped in fog, succeeded to the fine night.
Before seven o'clock--so watchful and alert are boys when mischief is
afloat--most of those who had been in the conspiracy were assembled,
and waiting round the schoolroom doors. Generally, they could tear up
at the twelfth moment. They would not have missed the sight of Charles
Channing's arrival for half-a-crown apiece, so curious were they to see
how he looked, after his fright. As it happened, it was not at any of
their homes that inquiries had been made the previous night; not one of
them was, to say, intimate with Charley: they were most of them older
than he. Consequently, they knew nothing of the search. Tod Yorke, who
did know of it, had not yet arrived. Of all the king's scholars, none
were marked late more frequently than Master Tod.
The senior boy had gone to the head-master's for the keys as usual, and
now came down the cloisters, clanking them in his hand.
"Has Charles Channing turned up?" he called out, before he was well
abreast of them.
Pierce senior choked away his inclination to laughter, which the sound
of the name excited, and saucy Bywater answered. "Where should he turn
up from, Huntley? Has he been swallowed?"
"Hamish Channing came to our house last night, ages after I was in bed,
saying they couldn't find him," replied Huntley. "What was in the wind
last night with old Calcraft?"
The boys looked at him demurely; and Huntley, receiving no reply,
unlocked the schoolroom and entered it. They remained behind, winking
at each other, and waiting still for Charles. It wanted yet a few
minutes to seven.
"I say, what d'ye think?" whispered Bywater. "After I had got our sheet
smuggled in, all right, and was putting it on the bed, I found two big
holes burnt in it. Won't there be a commotion when my old aunt finds it
out! She'll vow I have been reading in bed. That was you, Pierce
"I'm sure I never burnt it," retorted Pierce. "It was the flame did it,
"Here comes Bill Simms!" exclaimed Bywater, when their smothered laugh
was over. "What has he been doing to himself? He's as white as the
Mr. Bill Simms assuredly did look white. He had a pale face at the best
of times, and it was embellished with straw-coloured hair. But at the
present moment it had turned ghastly, and his frame seemed shaking as
he came along.
"What on earth has taken you, Simms?" demanded Hurst.
"Oh, goodness!" uttered Simms. "I wish I was well out of this! They are
saying there's a college boy drowned!"
"What?" cried the boys, gathering round him.
"There was a crowd down by the boat-house as I came along," responded
Simms, as well as he could speak for his chattering teeth. "I asked a
fellow what it was, and he said he didn't rightly know, but he thought
one of the college boys had been found drowned in the water."
Some of the gentlemen-listeners' faces turned as pale as Mr. Bill
Simms's; as pale as each conscience. Bywater was the first to gather
"It's not obliged to be Charley Channing, if there is any one drowned."
"But it's sure to be him," chattered Simms, his teeth as crazy as his
grammar. "Griffin junior says Arthur Channing went to their house last
night at twelve, and said they couldn't find Charley."
The consternation into which this news plunged the guilty ones is not
easily described. A conviction that it _was_ Charles Channing who was
drowned, overtook them all. Schoolboys are not quite without hearts,
and they would have given all they possessed, in that moment, to see
Charles come flying amongst them, as usual. Some of them began to wish
they were without necks; for if Charles had come to an untimely end
through their work, they might stand a chance of furnishing employment
to the veritable Mr. Calcraft, on their own score. Tod Yorke came
leaping up in delight.
"Oh, wasn't it good! The young one--"
"Hold your noise, Tod! They are saying he's dead."
"Who's dead?" wondered Tod.
"Charley Channing. A college boy was found in the river, drowned."
"Oh, that be hanged!" exclaimed Tod, half in mocking disbelief, half in
awful fear. "It can't be, you know. Who says it?"
"There's seven! We must go in, or Huntley will be on to us. Mind!"
added Pierce senior, for he was the speaker, "we must all keep each
other's counsel, and be in one tale--that we know nothing at all about
They slunk into school. But that the senior boy was occupied with his
new duty--the calling over of the roll--he might have observed that
something was wrong. To play up a bit of mischief is the legitimate
privilege of college boys; but to have led to a companion's death is a
terror-striking affair; and their countenances betrayed that it was so.
Before the roll was finished, the head-master was in school. Tom
Channing--it was late for him--entered afterwards. The master beckoned
"Is Charles found?"
"No, sir. We cannot learn any tidings of him at all. We have not been
to bed, any of us; and the police are searching also."
Had Tom Channing come from the other side of the Boundaries, near the
boat-house, perhaps he might have been able to give a different
The master made no comment then. He motioned Tom to his desk, and gave
the word for prayers. As the boys were rising from their knees, Hamish
Channing entered the school, attended by Mr. Ketch.
Hamish approached the master, who shook hands with him. Ketch remained
snarling and grinning defiance at the door, shaking his fist and his
old teeth covertly at the boys. If looks could have blown up a room,
the college school had certainly gone aloft then.
"I hear you have not found the boy?" said the master to Hamish. "It is
"We have not found him. Mr. Pye," continued Hamish, gravely, "I come to
demand of your courtesy an immediate investigation into the doings of
the college boys last night. That the disappearance of Charles is in
some measure connected with it, we cannot do otherwise than believe. I
have brought Ketch with me that he may tell his own tale."
Ketch was marshalled forward and ordered to tell his tale, and the
business of the school was suspended. Ketch told it distinctly enough;
but he could not forbear enlarging upon his cruel disappointment over
the tripe and onions, and it sent the school into convulsions. In the
midst of it, Tom Channing breathed freely; Ketch's preferring the
complaint, did away with the unpleasantness he had feared might arise,
through having been forced to disclose it to the master.
"I should be sorry to have displeasure visited upon the boys," resumed
Hamish. "Indeed, I should esteem it a favour, sir, if you will not
punish them for any disclosure that may arise through this step which I
have taken. I dare say," he added, turning his laughing gaze upon them,
"that I should have been one of the ringleaders myself, in my school
days, therefore it would not be fair for me to bring punishment upon
them. I only wish to know which of the school were in it, that I may
make inquiries of them whether Charles was one of them or not; and, if
he was, what they know of his movements afterwards."
The address was fair and candid; so was Hamish's face; and some of the
conspirators, in their good feeling, might have freely confessed, but
for the something just whispered to them by Simms. That closed their
"Do you hear?" said the master, speaking sharply, for he had rather,
ten times over, that the school frankly avowed mischief, when brought
to book: he was never half so severe if they were so. "Why are you
Bill Simms, who had the bump of conscientiousness largely developed,
with a wholesome dread of consequences, besides being grievously timid,
felt that he could not hold out long. "Oh, murder!" he groaned to Mark
Galloway, next to whom he sat: "let's tell, and have done with it."
Mark turned cold with fear. "You're a pretty fellow!" he uttered,
giving him a tremendous kick on the shins. "Would you like us all to be
tried for our lives?" A suggestion which made matters worse; and Bill
Simms's hair began to stand on end.
"Huntley, have you any cognizance of this?" demanded Mr. Pye.
"None, sir." And so said the three seniors under him.
"Boys!" said the master, bringing his cane down upon the desk in a
manner he was accustomed to do when provoked: "I _will_ come to the
bottom of this business. That several of you were in it, I feel sure.
Is there not _one_ of you sufficiently honest to speak, when required
so to do?"
Certain of the boys drooped their conscious faces and their eyelids. As
to Bill Simms, he felt ready to faint.
"What have you done with Charles Channing?" thundered the master.
"Where have you put him? Where is he gone? I command you to speak! Let
the senior of those who were in it speak! or the consequences be upon
your own heads."
The threat sounded ominous in the ears of Bill Simms: he saw himself,
in prospective, exposed to all the horrors of a dungeon, and to
something worse. With a curious noise, something between a bark and a
groan, he flung himself with his face on the floor, and lay there
"Mr. Simms," said the master, "what has taken you? Were you the chief
actor in this matter?"
All considerations had disappeared from Mr. Simms's mind except the
moment's terror. He forgot what would be his own position in the
school, if he told, or--as they would have expressed it--turned sneak.
Impelled by fear, he was hardly conscious of his words; hardly
responsible for them.
"It wasn't me," he howled. "They all know I didn't want the trick
played upon him. I told them that it had killed a boy down by our farm,
and it might kill Channing. They know I told them."
The master paused. "Walk here, Simms."
Simms picked himself up from the ground and walked there. A miserable
object he looked; his eyes red, his teeth chattering, his face white,
and his straw-coloured hair standing on end.
The master leaned his arms upon his desk, and brought his face almost
into contact with the frightened one. "What trick did you play upon
"'Twasn't me, sir," sobbed Simms. "I didn't want it done, I say,
O-o-o-o-o-o-h! I didn't!"
"What trick was played upon him?"
"It was a ghost dressed up to frighten him, and he passed through the
cloisters and saw it. It wasn't me! I'll never speak another word, if
it was me!"
"A ghost!" repeated the master in astonishment, while Ketch stretched
his old neck forward, and the most intense interest was displayed by
"They did it with a sheet and a blue flame," went on Simms; who, now
that the ice was broken, tried to make a clean breast of it, and grew
more alarmed every moment. "It wasn't me! I didn't want it done, and I
never lent a hand to the dressing up. If little Channing is dead, it
won't be fair to hang me."
"Who was in the plot?" was the next question of the master. And Simms
enumerated them. The master, stern and grim, beckoned to the several
gentlemen to walk up, and to range themselves before him. "The lad has
run some distance in his terror," observed the master aside to Hamish,
as he remembered what Judith had told him the previous night. "You will
see him home in the course of the day."
"I trust we may!" replied Hamish, with marked emphasis.
Bit by bit, word by word, the master drew the whole truth from the
downcast lads. Pierce senior looked dogged and obstinate: he was
inwardly vowing unheard-of revenge against Mr. Simms. Probably most of
them were doing the same.
"I knowed it was them! I knowed it couldn't be nobody but them!" broke
forth old Ketch, summarily interrupting the proceedings. "You sees now,
sir, what incorrigible--"
"Silence!" said the master, raising his hand. "I can deal with this
without your assistance, Ketch. Hurst, who concocted this infamous
Hurst--who was the senior of the conspirators, with regard to his
position in the school, though not so old as Pierce senior--could not
answer it definitively. It was concocted between them, he said; not by
one more than by another.
"Did you not know that a trick, such as this, has deprived _men_ of
reason?" continued the master. "And you play it upon a young and
defenceless boy! I am at a loss how to express my sense of your
conduct. If any ill shall have happened to him through it, you will
carry it on your consciences for ever."
Remembering what they had just heard, the boys' consciences had begun
to suffer already.
"Who personated the ghost?" continued the master.
"Pierce senior." The answer came from Simms. The others would not have
"I might have guessed that," was the remark of the master, who had no
great love for the gentleman named. "I might have known that if there
was a boy in the college school who would delight to put himself
forward to trample on one younger and more sensitive than himself, it
would be Pierce senior. I'll give you something to remember this work
by, Mr. Pierce. Yorke!"
Gerald Yorke knew what he was called for. He was the tallest and
strongest of all. The school knew also; and a murmur of excitement went
round. Pierce senior was going to be hoisted.
Only in very flagrant cases was the extreme punishment of flogging
resorted to by the present master. It had been more common with his
predecessor. Of course its rarity made it all the more impressive when
it did come.
"Make ready," said the master to Pierce senior, unlocking his desk, and
taking out a birch as big as a besom.
Pierce turned green and white, without help from any blue flame, and
slowly began to obey. There might be no resistance. The school hushed
itself into suspense, and Mr. Ketch's legs were on the point of taking
a dance of ecstasy. A minute or two, and the group formed the centre of
the upper part of the room. Yorke supported the great boy whose back
was bared, while the daunted faces and eager eyes were strained eagerly
from around. The head-master took his place, and his birch was raised
in the air to come down with a heavy stroke, when a commotion was heard
at one of the desks, and Stephen Bywater rushed forward.
"Stop, sir!" he said to the master. "If you will let Pierce go, I will
take the punishment."
The master's arm with its weapon dropped by his side, and he turned his
astonished gaze upon Bywater.
"I had more to do with planning the trick than Pierce had, sir, so it's
only just that I should be the scapegoat. We fixed upon Pierce to
personate the ghost because he was tall and lanky. And a flogging is
not much to my skin," added honest, impudent Bywater.
"So _you_ were the planner of it, were you, Mr. Bywater?" demanded the
"In a great measure I was, sir. If I do go in for mischief, it shall
not be said that I let others suffer for it. Little Channing had
offended me, and I wished to serve him out. But I never thought to do
In the perplexity of deciding what he ought to do, when official
proceedings were interrupted in this unprecedented way, the master
hesitated. What he would have done is uncertain--flogged Pierce first
and Bywater afterwards, perhaps--but at that moment there occurred
another interruption, and a more serious one.
Diggs, the man who lived at the boat-house, had entered the school, and
was asking to speak to the head-master. Catching sight of the signs of
the ceremony about to be performed, he waited for no permission, but
went forward at once, a college cap in his hand, and his voice
trembling with excitement. Its excitement was not lessened when he
recognized Hamish Channing.
"I am the bearer of bad news, gentlemen," he said, addressing them
both. "I fear one of the young college lads was drowned last night by
my boat-house. We have picked up his cap this morning. It was poor
little Master Channing."
Hamish controlled his emotion better than did the Rev. Mr. Pye. The
latter turned his eyes on the horrified school, himself equally
horrified, and then signified to Pierce senior to dress himself--to
Bywater to retire to his place. "The affair has become serious," he
observed, "and must be dealt with differently. Poor child! Poor little
And the boys, in their emotion, broke into an echoing wail. "Poor
little Channing! poor little Channing!"
DRAGGING THE RIVER.
The echoes of lamentation were dying away in the high roof of the
college school. Hamish Channing, pale, but calm and self-controlled,
stood perfectly ready to investigate the account brought by the
boat-house keeper of the drowning of Charles. The feelings of those who
had had a hand in the work may be imagined, perhaps, but certainly
cannot be described. Bill Simms choked and sobbed, and pulled his lanky
straw-coloured hair, and kicked his legs about, and was altogether
beside himself. The under-masters looked on with stern countenances and
lowering brows; while old Ketch never had had such a disappointment in
all his life (the one grand disappointment of last night excepted) as
he was feeling now, at the deferred flogging.
Diggs, the boat-house keeper, was a widower, with one child, a girl of
ten years old. His mother lived with him--an aged woman, confined to
her bed, of late, with rheumatic fever, from which she was slowly
recovering. On the previous night Diggs was out, and the girl had been
sent on an errand, Mrs. Diggs being left in the house alone. She was
lying quietly, still as was the air outside, when sudden sounds broke
that stillness, and smote upon her ear. Footsteps--young steps, they
seemed--were heard to come tearing down on the outside gravel, from the
direction of the cathedral, and descend the steps. Then there was a
startling cry and a plunge into the river.
The old woman echoed the cry; but there were none to hear it, and she
was powerless to aid. That a human soul was struggling in the water was
certain; and she called and called, but called in vain. She was shut up
in the house, unable to move; and there were none outside to hear her.
In her grief and distress she at length pulled the bed-clothes over her
ears, that she might hear no more (if more was to be heard) of the
Twenty minutes or so, and then the girl came in. The old woman brought
her head from under the clothes, and stated what had occurred, and the
girl went and looked at the river. But it was flowing along peacefully,
showing no signs that anything of the sort had happened. Not a creature
was on the path on either side, so far as her eyes could see in the
moonlight; and she came to the conclusion that her grandmother must
have been mistaken. "She has odd fancies," said the child to herself,
"and thinks she hears things that nobody else never hears."
At ten o'clock Diggs came home. Now, this man had a propensity for
yielding to an infirmity to which many others also yield--that of
drinking too freely. It is true that this did not often occur; but when
it did happen, it was usually at a time when his services were
especially required. It is very much the case in this world: we often
do things, whether good ones or bad ones, just at the wrong moment.
Diggs arrived at home, stupid. His old mother called him to her room,
and told him what she had heard; but she could make little impression
upon him. As his young daughter had done, he took a survey of the
river, but only from the windows of his house--the girl had gone on to
the bank--and then he tumbled into bed, and slept heavily until the
Up betimes, he remembered what had been told to him, and went out of
doors, half expecting possibly to see something floating on the
surface. "I was detained out last night on an errand," explained he to
some three or four stragglers who had gathered round him, "and when I
got in, my old mother told me a cock-and-bull story of a cry and a
splash, as if somebody had fallen into the river. It don't look much
like it, though."
"A dead dog, maybe," suggested one of the idlers. "They're always
throwing rubbish into this river on the sly."
"Who is?" sharply asked Diggs. "They had better let me catch 'em at
"Lots of folks," was the response. "But if it was a dead dog, it
couldn't well have cried out."
Diggs went indoors to his mother's chamber. "What time was it, this
tale of yours?" asked he.
"It was about half-past seven," she answered. "The half-hour chimed out
from the college, just before or just after, I forget which." And then
she related again what she knew he could not clearly comprehend over
night: the fact of the fleet-sounding footsteps, and that they appeared
to be young footsteps. "If I didn't know the cloisters were shut at
that hour, I should have thought they come direct from the west door--"
The words were interrupted by a call from below; and the man hastened
down, A boy's cap--known, from its form, to belong to one of the
collegiate scholars--had just been found under the lower bank, lodged
in the mud. Then some one had been drowned! and it was a college boy.
Where does a crowd collect from? I don't believe any one can tell. Not
three minutes after that trencher was picked up, people were gathering
thick and threefold, retired though the spot was; and it was at this
time that Mr. Bill Simms had passed, and heard the tale which turned
his heart sick and his face white.
Some time given to supposition, to comments, and to other gossip,
indigenous to an event of the sort, and then Mr. Diggs started for the
college school with the cap. Another messenger ran to the Channings'
house, the name in the cap proving to whom it had belonged. Diggs
related the substance of this to the master, suppressing certain little
points bearing upon himself.
Mr. Pye took the cap in his hand, and looked inside. The name, "C.
Channing," was in Mrs. Channing's writing; and, in the sprawling hand
of one of the schoolboys--it looked like Bywater's--"Miss" had been
added. Charley had scratched the addition over with strokes from a pen,
but the word might still be read.
"The river must be dragged, Diggs," said Hamish Channing.
"The drags are being got ready now, sir. They'll be in, by the time I
Hamish strode to the door. Tom came up from his desk, showing some
agitation, and looked at the master. "You will allow me to go, sir? I
can do no good at my lessons in this suspense."
"Yes," replied the master. He was going himself.
The school rose with one accord. The under-masters rose. To think of
study, in this excitement, was futile; and, in defiance of all
precedent, the boys were allowed to leave the room, and troop down to
the river. It was a race which should get there first; masters and boys
ran together. The only one who walked pretty soberly was the
head-master, who had to uphold his dignity.
The drags were already in the river, and the banks were lined; police,
friends, spectators, gentlemen, mob, and college boys, jostled each
other. Arthur Channing, pale and agitated, came running from his home.
The old vergers and bedesmen came; some of the clergy came; Judy came;
and the dean came. Hamish, outwardly self-possessed, and giving his
orders with quiet authority, was inwardly troubled as he had never
been. The boy had been left to his charge, and how should he answer for
this to his father and mother?
He went in and saw the old woman; as did the renowned Mr. Butterby, who
had appeared with the rest. She related to them she had heard the
previous night. "I could have told, without having heard it now, that
it was the steps of a college boy," she said. "I don't listen so often
to 'em that I need mistake. He seemed to be coming from the west door
o' the cloisters--only that the cloisters are shut at night; so he may
have come round by the front o' the college. Desperate quick he ran,
and leapt down the steps; and, a minute after, there was a cry and a
splash, and the footsteps were heard no more. One might fancy that in
turning the corner to run along the towing-path he had turned too
quick, and so fell over the bank."
"Did you hear no noise afterwards?" questioned Hamish.
"I didn't. I called out, but nobody came nigh to answer it: and then I
hid my ears. I was afraid, ye see."
They left the old woman's bedside, and returned to the crowd on the
bank. The dean quietly questioned Hamish about the facts, and shook his
head when put in possession of them. "I fear there is little hope," he
"Very little. My father and mother's absence makes it the more
distressing. I know not, Mr. Dean, how--"
Who was this, pushing vehemently up, to the discomfiture of every one,
elbowing the dean with as little ceremony as he might have elbowed
Ketch, thrusting Hamish aside, and looking down on the river with
flashing eyes? Who should it be, but Roland Yorke? For that was his
usual way of pushing through a crowd; as you have heard before.
"Is it true?" he gasped. "Is Charles Channing in the water!--sent there
through the tricks of the college boys--of Tod?"
"There is little doubt of its truth, Roland," was the answer of Hamish.
Roland said no more. Off went his coat, off went his waistcoat, off
went other garments, leaving him nothing but his drawers and his shirt;
and in he leaped impetuously, before any one could stop him, and dived
below, searching after Charles, paying no heed to the shouts that the
drags would get hold of him.
But neither drags nor Roland could find Charles. The drags were
continued, but without result. Very few had expected that there would
be any result, the probability being that the current had carried the
body down the stream. Hamish had been home to soothe the grief of his
sisters--or rather to attempt to soothe it-and then he came back again.
Roland, his ardour cooled, had likewise been home to exchange his wet
things for dry ones. This done, he was flying out again, when he came
upon the Reverend William Yorke, who was hastening down to the scene,
in some agitation.
"Is the boy found, Roland, do you know? How did it happen? Did he fall
"Considering the light in which you regard the family, William Yorke, I
wonder you should waste your breath to ask about it," was Roland's
touchy answer, delivered with as much scorn as he could call up.
Mr. Yorke said no more, but quickened his pace towards the river.
Roland kept up with him and continued talking.
"It's a good thing all the world's not of your opinion, William Yorke!
You thought to put a slight upon Constance Channing, when you told her
she might go along, for you. It has turned out just the best luck that
could have happened to her."
"Be silent, sir," said Mr. Yorke, his pale cheek flushing. "I have
already told you that I will not permit you to mention Miss Channing's
name to me. You have nothing to do with her or with me."
"_You_ have nothing to do with her, at any rate," cried aggravating
Roland. "She'll soon belong to your betters, William Yorke."
Mr. Yorke turned his flashing eye upon him, plainly asking the
explanation that he would not condescend to ask in words. It gave
Roland an advantage, and he went on swimmingly with his mischief.
"Lord Carrick has seen the merits of Constance, if you have not; and--I
don't mind telling it you in confidence--has resolved to make her his
wife. He says she's the prettiest girl he has seen for ages."
"It is not true," said Mr. Yorke, haughtily.
"Not true!" returned Roland. "You'll see whether it's true or not, when
she's Countess of Carrick. Lady Augusta was present when he made her
the offer. He was half afraid to make it for some time, he told us, as
he was getting on in years, and had grey hair. Halloa! you are turning
pale, William Yorke. She can't be anything to you! You threw her away,
William Yorke, vouchsafing no reply, broke away from his tormentor. He
probably did look pale; certainly he felt so. Roland indulged in a
quiet laugh. He had been waiting for this opportunity, ever since he
became cognizant of what had taken place between the earl and
Constance. The earl had made no secret of his intention and its defeat.
"I'll have some fun over it with Mr. William," had been Roland's
A sudden noise! Cries and shouts on the banks of the river, and the
dense crowd swayed about with excitement. Mr. Yorke and Roland set off
at a run, each from his own point, and the cries took a distinct sound
as they neared them.
"They have found the body!"
It was being laid upon the bank. Those who could get near tried to
obtain a glimpse of it. The college boys, with white faces and
terror-stricken consciences, fought for a place; Roland Yorke fought
for it; the head-master fought for it: I am not sure that the
bishop--who had seen the commotion from his palace windows, and came up
to know what it meant--did not fight for it.
A false alarm, so far as the present object was concerned. A little
lad, who had been drowned more than a week before, had turned up now.
He had incautiously climbed the parapet of the bridge, whence he fell
into the water, and their search for him had hitherto been fruitless.
He was not a pleasant sight to look upon, as he lay there; but the
relief to certain of the college boys, when they found it was not
Charles, was immeasurable. Bywater's spirits went up to some of their
old impudence. "In looking for one thing you find another," quoth he.
Very true, Mr. Bywater! Sometimes we find more than we bargain for. The
drags were thrown in again, and the excited crowd jostled each other as
before, their faces hanging over the brink. Hush! Hark! Another prize!
What is it, coming up now?
A rare prize, this time! The drags pulled and tugged, and the men
cried, "Heave-ho!" and a hundred and one voices echoed it: "Heave-ho!
heave-ho!" Hush! Hush--sh--sh! A breathless moment of suspense, and up
it comes. Amidst straw and tangled weeds and mud, and the odds and ends
that a river will collect, something hard and clanking was thrown upon
the bank, and wondering eyes and faces peered over it.
Nothing but two keys. A pair of large rusty keys, tied together with
string. Bywater, and Hurst, and young Galloway, and one or two more,
cast significant glances together, and were nearly choking with fright
and suppressed laughter. One, standing there, conspicuous for his
dress, which amongst other items comprised an apron, turned a
significant glance on _them_. Bold Bywater met it, and looked a little
less bold than usual. But the prelate had kept counsel, and meant to
keep it; and he looked away again.
Once more were the drags thrown into the water. Once more the mob,
gentle and simple, crowded its brink. When the college bell tolled out
for morning prayers, those, whose duty it was to attend the cathedral,
drew themselves away unwillingly. Arthur Channing was one of them.
Whatever might be his grief and suspense, engagements must be
Later in the day, when the search was over--for it was thought useless
to continue it--and when hope was over, a council was held at Mr.
Channing's house. Mr. and Mrs. Channing must be acquainted with this
sad business; but how was it to be done? By letter? by telegraph? or by
a special messenger? Constance had suggested writing, and silently
hoped that Hamish would take the task upon himself, for she felt
unequal to it, in her dire distress. Mr. Galloway, who had been in and
out all the morning, suggested the telegraph. Hamish approved of
neither, but proposed to despatch Arthur, to make the communication in
"I cannot leave Helstonleigh myself," he said; "therefore it must
devolve upon Arthur. Of course his journey will be an expense; but
there are times when expense must not be regarded. I consider this one
"A letter would go more quickly," said Mr. Galloway.
"Scarcely, in these days of travelling," was Hamish's reply. "But that
is not the question. A letter, let it be ever so explanatory, will only
leave them in suspense. As soon as they have read it, five hundred
questions will suggest themselves that they will wish to ask; and, to
wait to have them satisfied, will be intolerable, especially to my
mother. Arthur's going will obviate this. He knows as much as we know,
and can impart his knowledge to them."
"There is a great deal in what you say," mused Mr. Galloway.
"I am sure there is," spoke Constance through her tears, "though it did
not strike me before. In mamma's anxiety and suspense, she might start
for home, to learn further details."
"And I think it is what she would do," said Hamish: "if not my father
also. It will be better that Arthur should go. He can tell them all
they would learn if they returned; and so far as it is possible, that
would be satisfactory."
They were interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Huntley and his daughter.
Ellen had begged her father, when she found he was going to the
Channings', to allow her to accompany him, and see Constance in her
distress. Mr. Huntley readily acquiesced. The drowning of poor Charley
was a serious affliction, in contemplation of which he forgot the
inexpediency of her meeting Hamish.
Hamish did not appear to perceive any inexpediency in the matter. He
was the first to take Ellen's hand in his, and bend upon her his sweet
smile of welcome. Knowing what Ellen knew of Mr. Huntley's sentiments,
and that he was looking on, it rendered her manner confused and her
cheeks crimson. She was glad to turn to Constance, and strive to say a
few words of sympathy. "Had Harry been one of those wicked, thoughtless
boys to join in this ghost trick, I could never have forgiven him!" she
impulsively exclaimed, hot tears running down her cheeks.
The subject under consideration was referred to Mr. Huntley, and his
opinion requested: more as a form of courtesy than anything else, for
Hamish had made up his mind upon the point. A thoroughly affectionate
and dutiful son was Hamish Channing; and he believed that the tidings
could be rendered more bearable to his father and mother by a
messenger, than by any other mode of communication. The excuse that
Constance and Arthur had, throughout, found for Hamish in their hearts
was, that he had taken the bank-note out of latent affection to Mr. and
"You are wrong, every one of you," said Mr. Huntley, when he had
listened to what they had to say. "You must send neither letter nor
messenger. It will not do."
Hamish looked at him. "Then what can we send, sir?
"Don't send at all."
"Not send at all!" repeated Hamish.
"Certainly not," said Mr. Huntley. "You have no positive proof as yet
that the child is dead. It will be alarming them unnecessarily."
"Mr. Huntley!" said Constance. "Is it possible that you see any ground
"Honestly, my dear, I do not see much ground for hope," he replied.
"But, on the other hand, there are no positive grounds for despair. So
long as these grounds are not furnished, I say keep it from Mr. and
Mrs. Channing. Answer me one thing: What good end would it serve to
"Is it not a duty?"
"I do not see it," said Mr. Huntley. "Were the poor boy's fate known,
beyond uncertainty, it would be a different matter. If you send to
them, what would come of it? The very suspense, the doubt, would have a
bad effect upon Mr. Channing. It might bring him home; and the good
already effected might be destroyed--his time, purse, hopes, all that
he has given to the journey, wasted. On the other hand, allowing that
he still remained, the news might delay his cure. No: my strong advice
to you is: Suffer them for the present to remain in ignorance of what
Hamish began to think Mr. Huntley might be right.
"I know I am right," said Mr. Huntley. "If putting them in possession
of the facts could produce any benefit to themselves, to you, or to
Charles, I would go off myself with Arthur this hour. But it could
effect nothing; and, to them, it might result in great evil. Until we
know something more certain ourselves, let us keep it from them."
"Yes, I see it," said Hamish, warmly. "It will be best so."
Constance felt her arm touched, and coloured with emotion when she
found it was Mr. William Yorke. In this day of distress, people seemed
to come in and go out without ceremony. Mr. Yorke had entered with Tom
Channing. He completely accepted the new view of the matter, and
strongly advised that it should not be allowed to reach the ears of Mr.
and Mrs. Channing.
Mr. Galloway, when he was departing, beckoned Constance into the hall.
It was only to give her a word of friendly sympathy, of advice--not to
be overwhelmed, but to cling to hope. She thanked him, but it was with
an aching heart, for Constance could not feel this hope.
"Will you grant me the favour of a minute's private interview?" asked
Mr. Yorke stiffly, meeting her in the hall.
Constance hesitated a moment. He was asking what she felt he had
no right to ask. She coloured, bowed, and stepped towards the
drawing-room. Mr. Yorke threw open the door for her, and followed
Then he became agitated. Whatever his pride or his temper may have
been, whether the parting between them was his fault or Constance's, it
was certain that he loved her with an enduring love. Until that morning
he had never contemplated losing Constance; he had surely looked
forward to some indefinite future when she should be his; and the words
spoken by Roland had almost driven him mad. Which was precisely what
Mr. Roland hoped they would do.
"I would not speak to you to-day, when you are in distress, when you
may deem it an unfitting time for me to speak," he began, "but I
_cannot_ live in this suspense. Let me confess that what brought me
here was to obtain this interview with you, quite as much as this other
unhappy business. You will forgive me?"
"Mr. Yorke, I do not know what you can have to speak about," she
answered, with dignity. "My distress is great, but I can hear what you
wish to say."
"I heard--I heard"--he spoke with emotion, and went plunging abruptly
into his subject--"I heard this morning that Lord Carrick was
soliciting you to become his wife."
Constance could have laughed, but for her own distress, agitated though
he was. "Well, sir?" she coldly said, in a little spirit of mischief.
"Constance, you cannot do it," he passionately retorted. "You cannot so
"Mr. Yorke! Have you the right to tell me I shall or shall not marry
"You can't do it, Constance!" he repeated, laying his hand upon her
shoulder, and speaking hoarsely. "You know that your whole affection
was given to me! It is mine still; I feel that it is. You have not
transferred it to another in this short time. You do not love and
forget so lightly."
"Is this all you have to say to me?"
"No, it is not all," he answered, with emotion. "I want you to be _my_
wife, Constance, not his. I want you to forget this miserable
estrangement that has come between us, and come home to me at
"Listen, Mr. Yorke," she said; but it was with the utmost difficulty
she retained her indifferent manner, and kept back her tears: she would
have liked to be taken then to his sheltering arms, never to have left
them. "The cause which led to our parting, was the suspicion that fell
upon Arthur, coupled with something that you were not pleased with in
my own manner relating to it. That suspicion is upon him still; and my
course of conduct would be precisely the same, were it to come over
again. I am sorry you should have reaped up this matter, for it can
only end as it did before."
"Will you not marry me?" he resumed.
"No. So long as circumstances look darkly on my brother."
"Constance! that may be for ever!"
"Yes," she sadly answered, knowing what she did know; "they may never
be brighter than they are now. Were I tempted to become your wife, you
might reproach me afterwards for allying you to disgrace; and that, I
think, would kill me. I _beg_ you not to speak of this again."
"And you refuse me for Lord Carrick! You will go and marry him!"
exclaimed Mr. Yorke, struggling between reproach, affection, and
"You must allow me to repeat that you have no right to question me,"
she said, moving to the door. "When our engagement was forfeited, that
right was forfeited with it."
She opened the door to leave the room. Mr. Yorke might have wished
further to detain her, but Judy came bustling up. "Lady Augusta's here,
Lady Augusta Yorke met Constance in the hall, and seized both her
hands. "I had a bad headache, and lay in bed, and never heard of it
until an hour ago!" she uttered with the same impulsive kindness that
sometimes actuated Roland. "Is it true that he is drowned? Is it true
that Tod was in it?--Gerald says he was. William, are _you_ here?"
Constance took Lady Augusta into the general sitting-room, into the
presence of the other guests. Lady Augusta asked a hundred questions,
at the least; and they acquainted her with the different points, so far
as they were cognizant of them. She declared that Tod should be kept
upon bread and water for a week, and she would go to the school and
request Mr. Pye to flog him. She overwhelmed Constance with kindness,
wishing she and Annabel would come to her house and remain there for a
few days. Constance thanked her, and found some difficulty in being
allowed to refuse.
"Here is his exercise-book," observed Constance, tears filling her
eyes; "here is the very place in which he laid his pen. Every other
moment I think it cannot be true that he is gone--that it must be all a
Lady Augusta took up the pen and kissed it: it was her impulsive way of
showing sympathy. Mr. Huntley smiled. "Where's William gone to?" asked
The Reverend William Yorke had quitted the house, shaking the dust from
his shoes in anger, as he crossed the threshold. Anger as much at
himself, for having ever given her up, as at Constance Channing; and
still most at the Right Honourable the Earl of Carrick.
MR. JENKINS IN A DILEMMA.
I don't know what you will say to me for introducing you into the
privacy of Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins's bed-chamber, but it is really
necessary to do so. We cannot very well get on without it.
A conjugal dispute had occurred that morning when Mrs. Jenkins got up.
She was an early riser; as was Jenkins also, in a general way; but
since his illness, he had barely contrived to come down in time for
breakfast. On this morning--which was not the one following the
application of mustard to his chest, but one about a week after that
medicinal operation--Mrs. Jenkins, on preparing to descend,
peremptorily ordered him to remain in bed. Nothing need be recorded of
the past week, except two facts: Charles Channing had not been
discovered, either in life or in death; and the Earl of Carrick had
terminated his visit, and left Helstonleigh.
"I'll bring up your breakfast," said Mrs. Jenkins.
"It is of no use to say that," Jenkins ventured meekly to remonstrate.
"You know I must get up."
"I say you shall not get up. Here you are, growing weaker and worse
every day, and yet you won't take care of yourself! Where's the use of
your taking a bottle a-day of cough-mixture--where's the use of your
making the market scarce of cod-liver oil--where's the use of wasting
mustard, if it's all to do you no good? _Does_ it do you any good?"
"I am afraid it has not, as yet," confessed Jenkins.
"And never will, so long as you give your body and brains no rest. Out
you go by nine o'clock, in all weathers, ill or well, and there you are
at your business till evening; stooping yourself double over the
writing, dancing abroad on errands, wearing out your lungs with answers
to callers! There's no sense in it."
"But, my dear, the office must be attended to," said Jenkins, with much
"There's no 'must' in the case, as far as you are concerned. If I say
you shan't go to it, why, you shan't. What's the office, pray, in
comparison with a man's life?"
"But I am not so ill as to remain away. I can still go and do my work."
"You'd be for going, if you were in your coffin!" was Mrs. Jenkins's
wrathful answer. "Could you do any good then, pray?"
"But I am not in my coffin," mildly suggested Jenkins.
"Don't I say you'd go, if you were?" reiterated Mrs. Jenkins, who
sometimes, in her heat, lost sight of the precise point under dispute.
"You know you would! you know there's nothing in the whole world that
you think of, but that office! Office--office--office, it is with you
from morning till night. When you _are_ in your coffin, through it,
you'll be satisfied."
"But it is my duty to go as long as I can, my dear."
"It's my duty to do a great many things that I don't do!" was the
answer; "and one of my duties which I haven't done yet, is to keep you
indoors for a bit, and nurse you up. I shall begin from to-day, and see
if I can't get you well, that way."
"Hold your tongue, Jenkins. I never say a thing but you are sure to put
in a 'but.' You lie in bed this morning,--do you hear?--and I'll bring
up your breakfast."
Mrs. Jenkins left the room with the last order, and that ended the
discussion. Had Jenkins been a free agent--free from work--he had been
only too glad to obey her. In his present state of health, the duties
of the office had become almost too much for him; it was with
difficulty that he went to it and performed them. Even the walk, short
as it was, in the early morning, was almost beyond his strength; even
the early rising was beginning to tell upon him. And though he had
little hope that nursing himself up indoors would prove of essential
service, he felt that the _rest_ it brought would be to him an
But Jenkins was one who thought of duty before he thought of
himself; and, therefore, to remain away from the office, if he
_could_ drag himself to it, appeared to him little less than a sin.
He was paid for his time and services--fairly paid--liberally paid,
some might have said--and they belonged to his master. But it was not
so much from this point of view that Jenkins regarded the necessity of
going--conscientious though he was--as at the thought of what the
office would do without him; for there was no one to replace him but
Roland Yorke. Jenkins knew what he was; and so do we.
To lie in bed, or remain indoors, under these circumstances, Jenkins
felt to be impossible; and when his watch gave him warning that the
breakfast hour was approaching, up he got. Behold him sitting on the
side of the bed, trying to dress himself--_trying_ to do it. Never had
Jenkins felt weaker, or less able to battle with his increasing
illness, than on this morning; and when Mrs. Jenkins dashed in--for her
quick ears had caught the sounds of his stirring--he sat there still,
stockings in hand, unable to help himself.
"So you were going to trick me, were you! Are you not ashamed of
Jenkins gasped twice before he could reply. A giddiness seemed to be
stealing over him, as it had done that other evening, under the elm
trees. "My dear, it is of no use your talking; I must go to the
office," he panted.
"You shan't go--if I lock you up! There!"
Jenkins was spared the trouble of a reply. The giddiness had increased
to faintness, his sight left him, and he fell back on to the bed in a
state of unconsciousness. Mrs. Jenkins rather looked upon it as a
triumph. She put him into bed, and tucked him up.
"This comes of your attempting to disobey me!" said she, when he had
come round again. "I wonder what would become of you poor, soft mortals
of men, if you were let have your own way! There's no office for you to
Very peremptorily spoke she. But, lest he should attempt the same
again, she determined to put it out of his power. Opening a closet, she
thrust every article of his clothing into it, not leaving him so much
as a waistcoat, turned the key, and put it into her pocket. Poor
Jenkins watched her with despairing eyes, not venturing to remonstrate.
"There," said she, speaking amiably in her glow of satisfaction: "you
can go to the office now--if you like. I'll not stop you; but you'll
have to march through the streets leaving your clothes in that closet."
Under these difficulties Jenkins did not quite see his way to get
there. Mrs. Jenkins went instead, catching Mr. Roland Yorke just upon
"What's up, that Jenkins is not here?" began Roland, before she could
"Jenkins is not in a fit state to get out of his bed, and I have come
to tell Mr. Galloway so," replied she.
Roland Yorke's face grew to twice its usual length at the news. "I say,
though, that will never do, Mrs. Jenkins. What's to become of this
"The office must do the best it can without him. _He's_ not coming to
"_I_ can't manage it," said Roland, in consternation. "I should go
dead, if I had to do Jenkins's work, and my own as well."
"He'll go dead, unless he takes some rest in time, and gets a little
good nursing. I should like to know how I am to nurse him, if he is
down here all day?"
"That's not the question," returned Roland, feeling excessively blank.
"The question is, how the office, and I, and Galloway are to get on
without him? Couldn't he come in a sedan?"
"Yes, he can; if he likes to come without his clothes," retorted Mrs.
Jenkins. "I have taken care to lock _them_ up."
"Locked his clothes up!" repeated Roland, in wonder. "What's that for?"
"Because, as long as he has a bit of life in him, he'll use it to drag
himself down here," answered Mrs. Jenkins, tartly. "That's why. He was
getting up to come this morning, defying me and every word I said
against it, when he fell down on the bed in a fainting fit. I thought
it time to lock his things up then."
"Upon my word, I don't know what's to be done," resumed Roland, growing
quite hot with dismay and perplexity, at the prospect of some extra
work for himself. "Look here!" exhibiting the parchments on Jenkins's
desk, all so neatly left--"here's an array! Jenkins did not intend to
stay away, when he left those last night, I know."
"_He_ intend to stay away! catch him thinking of it," retorted Mrs.
Jenkins. "It is as I have just told him--that he'd come in his coffin.
And it's my firm belief that if he knew a week's holiday would save him
from his coffin, he'd not take it, unless I was at his back to make
him. It's well he has somebody to look after him that's not quite
deficient of common sense!"
"Well, this is a plague!" grumbled Roland.
"So it is--for me, I know, if for nobody else," was Mrs. Jenkins's
reply. "But there's some plagues in the world that we must put up with,
and make the best of, whether we like 'em or not; and this is one of
them. You'll tell Mr. Galloway, please; it will save me waiting."
However, as Mrs. Jenkins was departing, she encountered Mr. Galloway,
and told him herself. He was both vexed and grieved to hear it; grieved
on Jenkins's score, vexed on his own. That Jenkins was growing very
ill, he believed from his own observation, and it could not have
happened at a more untoward time. Involuntarily, Mr. Galloway's
thoughts turned to Arthur Channing, and he wished he had him in the
"You must turn over a new leaf from this very hour, Roland Yorke," he
observed to that gentleman, when he entered. "We must both of us
buckle-to, if we are to get through the work."
"It's not possible, sir, that I can do Jenkins's share and mine," said
"If you only do Jenkins's, I'll do yours," replied Mr. Galloway,
significantly. "Understand me, Roland: I shall expect you to show
yourself equal to this emergency. Put aside frivolity and idleness, and
apply yourself in earnest. Jenkins has been in the habit of taking part
of your work upon himself, as I believe no clerk living would have
done; and, in return, you must now take his. I hope in a few days he
may be with us again. Poor fellow, we shall feel his loss!"
Mr. Galloway had to go out in the course of the morning, and Roland was
left alone to the cares and work of the office. It occurred to him
that, as a preliminary step, he could not do better than open the
window, that the sight of people passing (especially any of his
acquaintances, with whom he might exchange greetings) should cheer him
on at his hard work. Accordingly, he threw it up to its utmost extent,
and went on with his writing, giving alternately one look to his task,
and two to the street. Not many minutes had he been thus spurring on
his industry, when he saw Arthur Channing pass.
"Hist--st--st!" called out Roland, by way of attracting his attention.
"Come in, old fellow, will you? Here's such a game!"
A NEW SUSPICION.
Arthur Channing had been walking leisurely down Close Street. Time hung
heavily on his hands. In leaving the cathedral after morning service,
he had joined Mr. Harper, the lay clerk, and went with him, talking,
towards the town; partly because he had nothing to do elsewhere--partly
because out of doors appeared more desirable than home. In the
uncertain state of suspense they were kept in, respecting Charles, the
minds of all, from Hamish down to Annabel, were in a constant state of
unrest. When they rose in the morning the first thought was, "Shall we
hear of Charles to-day?" When they retired at bedtime, "What may not
the river give up this night?" It appeared to them that they were
continually expecting tidings of some sort or other; and, with this
expectation, hope would sometimes mingle itself.
Hope; where could it spring from? The only faint suspicion of it,
indulged at first, that Charley had been rescued in some providential
manner, and conveyed to a house of shelter, had had time to die out. A
few houses there were, half-concealed near the river, as there are near
to most other rivers of traffic, which the police trusted just as far
as they could see, and whose inmates did not boast of shining
reputations; but the police had overhauled these thoroughly, and found
no trace of Charley. Nor was it likely that they would conceal a child.
So long as Charles's positive fate remained a mystery, suspense could
not cease; and with this suspense there did mingle some faint glimmer
of hope. Suspense leads to exertion; inaction is intolerable to it.
Hamish, Arthur, Tom, all would rather be out of doors now, than in;
there might be something to be heard of, some information to be
gathered, and looking after it was better than staying at home to wait
for it. No wonder, then, that Arthur Channing's steps would bend
unconsciously towards the town, when he left the cathedral, morning and
It was in passing Mr. Galloway's office, the window of which stood wide
open, that Arthur had found himself called to by Roland Yorke.
"What is it?" he asked, halting at the window.
"You are the very chap I wanted to see," cried Roland. "Come in! Don't
be afraid of meeting Galloway: he's off somewhere."
The prospect of meeting Mr. Galloway would not have prevented Arthur
from entering. He was conscious of no wrong, and he did not shrink as
though he had committed one. He went in, and Mr. Harper proceeded on
"Here's a go!" was Roland's salutation. "Jenkins is laid up." It was
nothing but what Arthur had expected. He, like Mr. Galloway, had
observed Jenkins growing ill and more ill. "How shall you manage
without him?" asked Arthur; Mr. Galloway's dilemma being the first
thing that occurred to his mind.
"Who's to know?" answered Roland, who was in an explosive temper. "_I_
don't. If Galloway thinks to put it all on my back, it's a scandalous
shame! I never could do it, or the half of it. Jenkins worked like a
horse when we were busy. He'd hang his head down over his desk, and
never lift it for two hours at a stretch!--you know he would not. Fancy
my doing that! I should get brain fever before a week was out."
Arthur smiled at this. "Is Jenkins much worse?" he inquired.
"I don't believe he's worse at all," returned Roland, tartly. "He'd
have come this morning, as usual, fast enough, only she locked up his
"Who?" said Arthur, in surprise.
"She. That agreeable lady who has the felicity of owning Jenkins. She
was here this morning as large as life, giving an account of her
doings, without a blush. She locked up his things, she says, to keep
him in bed. I'd be even with her, I know, were I Jenkins. I'd put on
her flounces, but what I'd come out, if I wanted to. Rather short
they'd be for him, though."
"I shall go, Roland. My being here only hinders you."
"As if that made any difference worth counting! Look here!--piles and
piles of parchments! I and Galloway could never get through them,
hindered or not hindered. _I_ am not going to work over hours! _I_
won't kill myself with hard labour. There's Port Natal, thank goodness,
if the screw does get put upon me too much!"
Arthur did not reply. It made little difference to Roland: whether
encouraged or not, talk he would.
"I _have_ heard of folks being worked beyond their strength; and that
will be my case, if one may judge by present appearances. It's too bad
Arthur spoke up: he did not like to hear blame, even from Roland Yorke,
cast upon patient, hard-working Jenkins. "You should not say it,
Roland. It is not Jenkins's fault."
"It is his fault. What does he have such a wife for? She keeps Jenkins
under her thumb, just as Galloway keeps me. She locked up his clothes,
and then told him he might come here without them, if he liked: my
belief is, she'll be sending him so, some day. Jenkins ought to put her
down. He's big enough."
"He would be sure to come here, if he were equal to it," said Arthur.
"He! Of course he would!" angrily retorted Roland. "He'd crawl here on
all fours, but what he'd come; only she won't let him. She knows it
too. She said this morning that he'd come when he was in his coffin! I
should like to see it arrive!"
Arthur had been casting a glance at the papers. They were unusually
numerous, and he began to think with Roland that he and Mr. Galloway
would not be able to get through them unaided. Most certainly they
would not, at Roland's present rate of work. "It is a pity you are not
a quick copyist," he said.
"I dare say it is!" sarcastically rejoined Roland, beginning to play at
ball with the wafer-box. "I never was made for work; and if--"
"You will have to do it, though, sir," thundered Mr. Galloway, who had
come up, and was enjoying a survey of affairs through the open window.
Mr. Roland, somewhat taken to, dropped his head and the wafer-box
together, and went on with his writing as meekly as poor Jenkins would
have done; and Mr. Galloway entered.
"Good day," said he to Arthur, shortly enough.
"Good day, sir," was the response. Mr. Galloway turned to his idle
"Roland Yorke, you must either work or say you will not. There is no
time for playing and fooling; no time, sir! do you hear? Who put that
window stark staring open?"
"I did, sir," said incorrigible Roland. "I thought the office might be
the better for a little air, when there was so much to do in it."
Mr. Galloway shut it with a bang. Arthur, who would not leave without
some attempt at a passing courtesy, let it be ever so slight, made a
remark to Mr. Galloway, that he was sorry to hear Jenkins was worse.
"He is so much worse," was the response of Mr. Galloway, spoken
sharply, for the edification of Roland Yorke, "that I doubt whether he
will ever enter this room again. Yes, sir, you may look; but it is the
Roland did look, looked with considerable consternation. "How on earth
will the work get done, then?" he muttered. With all his grumbling, he
had not contemplated Jenkins being away more than a day or two.
"I do not know how it will get done, considering that the clerk upon
whom I have to depend is Roland Yorke," answered Mr. Galloway, with
severity. "One thing appears pretty evident, that Jenkins will not be
able to help to do it."
Mr. Galloway, more perplexed at the news brought by Mrs. Jenkins than
he had allowed to appear (for, although he chose to make a show of
depending upon Roland, he knew how much dependence there was in reality
to be placed upon him--none knew better), had deemed it advisable to
see Jenkins personally, and judge for himself of his state of health.
Accordingly, he proceeded thither, and arrived at an inopportune moment
for his hopes. Jenkins was just recovering from a second fainting fit,
and appeared altogether so ill, so debilitated, that Mr. Galloway was
struck with dismay. There would be no more work from Jenkins--as he
believed--for him. He mentioned this now in his own office, and Roland
received it with blank consternation.
An impulse came to Arthur, and he spoke upon it. "If I can be of any
use to you, sir, in this emergency, you have only to command me."
"What sort of use?" asked Mr. Galloway.
Arthur pointed to the parchments. "I could draw out these deeds, and
any others that may follow them. My time is my own, sir, except the two
hours devoted to the cathedral, and I am at a loss how to occupy it. I
have been idle ever since I left you."
"Why don't you get into an office?" said Mr. Galloway.
Arthur's colour deepened. "Because, sir, no one will take me."
"Ah!" said Mr. Galloway, drily, "a good name is easier lost than won."
"Yes, it is," freely replied Arthur. "However, sir, to return to the
question. I shall be glad to help you, if you have no one better at
hand. I could devote several hours a day to it, and you know that I am
thoroughly to be trusted with the work. I might take some home now."
"Home!" returned Mr. Galloway. "Did you mean that you could do it at
"Certainly, sir; I did not think of doing it here," was the pointed
reply of Arthur. "I can do it at home just as well as I could here;
perhaps better, for I should shut myself up alone, and there would be
nothing to interrupt me, or to draw off my attention."
It cannot be denied that this was a most welcome proposition to Mr.
Galloway; indeed, his thoughts had turned to Arthur from the first.
Arthur would be far better than a strange clerk, looked for and brought
in on the spur of the moment--one who might answer well or answer
badly, according to chance. Yet that such must have been his resource,
Mr. Galloway knew.
"It will be an accommodation to me, your taking part of the work," he
frankly said. "But you had better come to the office and do it."
"No, sir; I would rather--"
"Do, Charming!" cried out Roland Yorke, springing up as if he were
electrified. "The office will be bearable if you come back again."
"I would prefer to do it at home, sir," continued Arthur to Mr.
Galloway, while that gentleman pointed imperiously to Yorke, as a hint
to him to hold his tongue and mind his own business.
"You _may_ come back here and do it," said Mr. Galloway.
"Thank you, I cannot come back," was the reply of Arthur.
"Of course you can't!" said angry Roland, who cared less for Mr.
Galloway's displeasure than he did for displaying his own feelings when
they were aroused. "You won't, you mean! I'd not show myself such a
duffer as you, Channing, if I were paid for it in gold!"
"You'll get paid in something, presently, Roland Yorke, but it won't be
in gold!" reproved Mr. Galloway. "You will do a full day's work to-day,
sir, if you stop here till twelve o'clock at night."
"Oh, of course I expect to do that, sir," retorted Roland, tartly.
"Considering what's before me, on this desk and on Jenkins's, there's
little prospect of my getting home on this side four in the morning.
They needn't sit up for me--I can go in with the milk. I wonder who
invented writing? I wish I had the fingering of him just now!"
Arthur turned to the parchments. He was almost as much at home with
them as Jenkins. Mr. Galloway selected two that were most pressing, and
gave them to him, with the requisite materials for copying. "You will
keep them secure, you know," he remarked.
"Perfectly so, sir; I shall sit quite alone."
He carried them off with alacrity. Mr. Galloway's face cleared as he
looked after him, and he made a remark aloud, expressive of his
satisfaction. "There's some pleasure in giving out work when you know
it will be done. No play--no dilatoriness--finished to the minute that
it's looked for! You should take a leaf out of his book, Yorke."
"Yes, sir," freely answered Roland. "When you drove Arthur Channing out
of this office, you parted with the best clerk you ever had. Jenkins is
all very well for work, but he is nothing but a muff in other things.
Arthur's a gentleman, and he'd have served you well. Jenkins himself
says so. He is honourable, he is honest, he--"
"I know enough of your sentiments with respect to his honesty,"
interrupted Mr. Galloway. "We need not go over that tale again."
"I hope every one knows them," rejoined Roland. "I have never concealed
my opinion that the accusation was infamous; that, of all of us in this
office, from its head down to Jenkins, none was less likely to finger
the note than Arthur Channing. But of course my opinion goes for
"You are bold, young man."
"I fear it is my nature to be so," cried Roland. "If it should ever
turn up how the note went, you'll be sorry, no doubt, for having
visited it upon Arthur. Mr. Channing will be sorry; the precious
magistrates will be sorry; that blessed dean, who wanted to turn him
from the college, will be sorry. Not a soul of them but believes him
guilty; and I hope they'll be brought to repentance for it, in
sackcloth and ashes."
"Go on with your work," said Mr. Galloway, angrily.
Roland made a show of obeying. But his tongue was like a steam-engine:
once set going, it couldn't readily be stopped, and he presently looked
"I am not uncharitable: at least, to individuals. I always said the
post-office helped itself to the note, and I'd lay my last half-crown
upon it. But there _are_ people in the town who think it could only
have gone in another way. You'd go into a passion with me, sir,
perhaps, if I mentioned it."
Mr. Galloway--it has been before mentioned that he possessed an
unbounded amount of curiosity, and also a propensity to gossip--so far
forgot the force of good example as to ask Roland what he meant. Roland
wanted no further encouragement.
"Well, sir, there are people who, weighing well all the probabilities
of the case, have come to the conclusion that the note could only have
been abstracted from the letter by the person to whom it was addressed.
None but he broke the seal of it."
"Do you allude to my cousin, Mr. Robert Galloway?" ejaculated Mr.
Galloway, as soon as indignation and breath allowed him to speak.
"Others do," said Roland. "I say it was the post-office."
"How dare you repeat so insolent a suspicion to my face, Roland Yorke?"
"I said I should catch it!" cried Roland, speaking partly to himself.
"I am sure to get in for it, one way or another, do what I will. It's
not my fault, sir, if I have heard it whispered in the town."
"Apply yourself to your work, sir, and hold your tongue. If you say
another word, Roland Yorke, I shall feel inclined also to turn you
away, as one idle and incorrigible, of whom nothing can be made."
"Wouldn't it be a jolly excuse for Port Natal!" exclaimed Roland, but
not in the hearing of his master, who had gone into his own room in
much wrath. Roland laughed aloud; there was nothing he enjoyed so much
as to be in opposition to Mr. Galloway; it had been better for the
advancement of that gentleman's work, had he habitually kept a tighter
rein over his pupil. It was perfectly true, however, that the new phase
of suspicion, regarding the loss of the note, had been spoken of in the
town, and Roland only repeated what he had heard.
Apparently, Mr. Galloway did not like this gratuitous suggestion. He
presently came back again. A paper was in his hand, and he began
comparing it with one on Roland's desk. "Where did you hear that
unjustifiable piece of scandal?" he inquired, as he was doing it.
"The first person I heard speak of it was my mother, sir. She came home
one day from calling upon people, and said she had heard it somewhere.
And it was talked of at Knivett's last night. He had a bachelors'
party, and the subject was brought up. Some of us ridiculed the notion;
others thought it might have grounds."
"And pray, which did you favour?" sarcastically asked Mr. Galloway.
"I? I said then, as I have said all along, that there was no one to
thank for it but the post-office. If you ask me, sir, who first set the
notion afloat in the town, I cannot satisfy you. All I know is, the
rumour is circulating."
"If I could discover the primary author of it, I would take legal
proceedings against him," warmly concluded Mr. Galloway.
"I'd help," said undaunted Roland. "Some fun might arise out of that."
Mr. Galloway carried the probate of a will to his room, and sat down to
examine it. But his thoughts were elsewhere. This suspicion, mentioned
by Roland Yorke, had laid hold of his mind most unpleasantly, in spite
of his show of indignation before Roland. He had no reason to think his
cousin otherwise than honest; it was next to impossible to suppose he
could be guilty of playing him such a trick; but somehow Mr. Galloway
could not feel so sure upon the point as he would have wished. His
cousin was a needy man--one who had made ducks and drakes of his own
property, and was for ever appealing to Mr. Galloway for assistance.
Mr. Galloway did not shut his eyes to the fact that if this _should_
have been the case, Robert Galloway had had forty pounds from him
instead of twenty--a great help to a man at his wits' ends for money.
He had forwarded a second twenty-pound note, upon receiving information
of the loss of the first. What he most disliked, looking at it from
this point of view, was, not the feeling that he had been cleverly
deceived and laughed at, but that Arthur Channing should have suffered
unjustly. If the lad _was_ innocent, why, how cruel had been his own
conduct towards him! But with these doubts came back the remembrance
of Arthur's unsatisfactory behaviour with respect to the loss;
his non-denial; his apparent guilt; his strange shrinking from
investigation. Busy as Mr. Galloway was, that day, he could not confine
his thoughts to his business. He would willingly have given another
twenty-pound note out of his pocket to know, beyond doubt, whether or
not Arthur was guilty.
Arthur, meanwhile, had commenced his task. He took possession of the
study, where he was secure from interruption, and applied himself
diligently to it. How still the house seemed! How still it had seemed
since the loss of Charles! Even Annabel and Tom were wont to hush their
voices; ever listening, as it were, for tidings to be brought of him.
Excepting the two servants, Arthur was alone in it. Hamish was abroad,
at his office; Constance and Annabel were at Lady Augusta's; Tom was in
school; and Charles was not. Judith's voice would be heard now and
then, wafted from the kitchen regions, directing or reproving Sarah;
but there was no other sound. Arthur thought of the old days when the
sun had shone; when he was free and upright in the sight of men; when
Constance was happy in her future prospects of wedded life; when Tom
looked forth certainly to the seniorship; when Charley's sweet voice
and sweeter face might be seen and heard; when Hamish--oh, bitter
thought, of all!--when Hamish had not fallen from his pedestal. It had
all changed--changed to darkness and to gloom; and Arthur may be
pardoned for feeling gloomy with it. But in the very midst of this
gloom, there arose suddenly, without effort of his, certain words
spoken by the sweet singer of Israel; and Arthur _knew_ that he had but
to trust to them:--
"For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his
pleasure is life; heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in
A LETTER FOR MR. GALLOWAY.
Morning passed into afternoon, and afternoon was drawing towards its
close. Roland Yorke had contrived to struggle through it, and be still
living, in spite of the amount of work which was pressed upon him. Mr.
Galloway had put on his spectacles and copied out several pages
himself--a thing he rarely attempted. But he had gone out now, and had
carried with him some letters to post.
"Yes!" grumbled Roland. "He can stretch _his_ legs, but he takes good
care I shall not stretch mine! Why couldn't he send me with those
letters? It's my place to post them: it's not his. Write, write, write!
till my fingers are cramped, and my feet have no more feeling in them
than the stool has! Why, I wouldn't stop by myself in this horrid,
musty, parchmented old place--Oh, it's you, is it?"
This was addressed to the postman, who came in with the afternoon
delivery of letters. Two. He handed them to Roland, and departed.
Of course Roland immediately began to scrutinize them: turning them
over; critically guessing at the senders; playing with them at pitch
and toss--anything to while away the time, and afford him some
cessation from his own work. By these means he contrived to pass five
minutes rather agreeably (estimating things by comparison), when Mr.
Galloway's servant entered.
"Is my master in, Mr. Roland?"
"Of course he's not," said Roland. "He's gone gallivanting somewhere.
He has all the pleasure of it, and I have all the work."
"Will you please to give him this letter, then?" said the man. "The
post has just left it at our house, so I brought it round."
"What's it brought round here for?" asked Roland.
"Because he ordered it to be done. He said he expected a letter would
be delivered at the house by the afternoon post, and if it came I was
to bring it to him at once. Good afternoon, sir."
This little bit of information was quite enough for Roland. He seized
the letter, as he had done the others, and subjected it to the same
scrutiny. The address was written in a singular hand; in large,
print-looking letters. Roland satisfied his curiosity, so far as the
outside of the letter could do it, and then rose from his stool and
laid the three letters upon Mr. Galloway's desk in his private room.
A short time, and that gentleman entered. "Anything by the post?" was
his first question.
"Two letters, sir," replied Roland. "And John brought round one, which
was addressed to the house. He said you expected it."
Mr. Galloway went into his private room. He glanced casually at the
addresses on the letters, and then called Roland Yorke. "Where is the
letter John brought round?" he inquired, somewhat testily.
Roland pointed it out. "That was it, sir."
"That!" Mr. Galloway bent on it a keener glance, which probably
satisfied him that it bore his private address. "Was this the only one
he brought?" added he; and from his manner and words Roland inferred
that it was not the letter he had expected.
"That was all, sir."
Roland returned to his own room, and Mr. Galloway sat down and opened
his letters. The first two were short communications relative to
business; the last was the one brought by John.
What did it contain? For one thing, It contained a bank-note for twenty
pounds. But the contents? Mr. Galloway gazed at it and rubbed his brow,
and gazed again. He took off his spectacles, and put them on; he looked
at the bank-note, and he read and re-read the letter; for it completely
upset the theory and set at nought the data he had been going upon;
especially the data of the last few hours.
"The finder of that lost twenty-pound note sends it back to Mr.
Galloway. His motive in doing so is that the wrongly suspected may be
cleared. He who was publicly accused of the offence was innocent, as
were all others upon whom suspicion (though not acted upon) may have
fallen. The writer of this alone took the note, and now restores it."
Abrupt and signatureless, such was the letter. When Mr. Galloway had
sufficiently overcome his surprise to reason rationally, it struck him
as being a singular coincidence that this should come to him on the day
when the old affair had been renewed again. Since its bustle had died
out at the time of the occurrence, Mr. Galloway did not remember to
have voluntarily spoken of it, until that morning with Roland Yorke.
He took up the bank-note. Was it the one actually taken--the same
note--kept possibly, in fear, and now returned? He had no means of
knowing. He thought it was not the same. His recollection of the lost
note had seemed to be that it was a dirty note, which must have passed
through many hands; but he had never been quite clear upon that point.
This note was clean and crisp. Who _had_ taken it? Who had sent it
back? It quite disposed of that disagreeable suspicion touching his
cousin. Had his cousin so far forgotten himself as to take the note, he
would not have been likely to return it: _he_ knew nothing of the
proceedings which had taken place in Helstonleigh, for Mr. Galloway had
never mentioned them to him. The writer of this letter was cognizant of
them, and had sent it that they might be removed.
At the first glance, it of course appeared to be proof positive that
Arthur Channing was not guilty. But Mr. Galloway was not accustomed to
take only the superficial view of things: and it struck him, as it
would strike others, that this might be, after all, a refined bit of
finessing on Arthur's own part to remove suspicion from himself. True,
the cost of doing so was twenty pounds: but what was that compared with
the restoration of his good name?
The letter bore the London post-mark. There was not a doubt that it had
been there posted. That betrayed nothing. Arthur, or any one else,
could have a letter posted there, if wishing to do it. "Where there's a
will, there's a way," thought Mr. Galloway. But again, where was Arthur
Channing to procure twenty pounds from? Mr. Galloway did not think that
he could procure this sum from anywhere, or that he possessed, himself,
a twentieth part of it. So far the probability was against Arthur's
being the author. Mr. Galloway quite lost himself in conjectures. Why
should it have been addressed to his residence, and not to the office?
He had been expecting a letter from one, that afternoon, who always did
address to his residence: and that letter, it appeared, had not
arrived. However, that had nothing to do with this. Neither paper nor
writing afforded any clue to the sender, and the latter was palpably
He called in Roland Yorke, for the purpose of putting to him a few
useless questions--as a great many of us do when we are
puzzled--questions, at any rate, that could throw no light upon the
"What did John say when he brought this letter?"
"Only what I told you, sir. That you expected a letter addressed to the
house, and ordered him to bring it round."
"But _this_ is not the letter I expected," tapping it with his finger,
and looking altogether so puzzled and astonished that Roland stared in
"It's not my fault," returned he. "Shall I run round, sir, and ask John
"No," testily answered Mr. Galloway. "Don't be so fond of running
round. This letter--There's some one come into the office," he broke
off. Roland turned with alacrity, but very speedily appeared again, on
his best behaviour, bowing as he showed in the Dean of Helstonleigh.
Mr. Galloway rose, and remained standing. The dean entered upon the
business which had brought him there, a trifling matter connected with
the affairs of the chapter. This over, Mr. Galloway took up the letter
and showed it to him. The dean read it, and looked at the bank-note.
"I cannot quite decide in what light I ought to take it, sir," remarked
Mr. Galloway. "It either refutes the suspicion of Arthur Channing's
guilt, or else it confirms it."
"In what way confirms it? I do not understand you," said the dean.
"It may have come from himself, Mr. Dean. A wheel within a wheel."
The dean paused to revolve the proposition, and then shook his head
negatively. "It appears to me to go a very great way towards proving
his innocence," he observed. "The impression upon my own mind has been,
that it was not he who took it--as you may have inferred, Mr. Galloway,
by my allowing him to retain his post in the cathedral."
"But, sir, if he is innocent, who is guilty?" continued Mr. Galloway,
in a tone of remonstrance.
"That is more than I can say," replied the dean. "But for the
circumstances appearing to point so strongly to Arthur Channing, I
never could have suspected him at all. A son of Mr. Channing's would
have been altogether above suspicion, in my mind: and, as I tell you,
for some time I have not believed him to be guilty."
"If he is not guilty--" Mr. Galloway paused; the full force of what he
was about to say, pressing strongly upon his mind. "If he is not
guilty, Mr. Dean, there has been a great deal of injustice done-not
only to himself--"
"A great deal of injustice is committed every day, I fear," quietly
remarked the dean.
"Tom Channing will have lost the seniorship for nothing!" went on Mr.
Galloway, in a perturbed voice, not so much addressing the dean, as
giving vent to his thoughts aloud.
"Yes," was the answer, spoken calmly, and imparting no token of what
might be the dean's private sentiments upon the point. "You will see to
that matter," the dean continued, referring to his own business there,
as he rose from his chair.
"I will not forget it, Mr. Dean," said Mr. Galloway. And he escorted
the dean to the outer door, as was his custom when honoured by that
dignitary with a visit, and bowed him out.
Roland just then looked a pattern of industry. He had resumed his seat,
after rising in salutation as the dean passed through the office, and
was writing away like a steam-engine. Mr. Galloway returned to his own
room, and set himself calmly to consider all the bearings of this
curious business. The great bar against his thinking Arthur innocent,
was the difficulty of fixing upon any one else as likely to have been
guilty. Likely! he might almost have said as _possible_ to have been
guilty. "I have a very great mind," he growled to himself, "to send for
Butterby, and let him rake it all up again!" The uncertainty vexed him,
and it seemed as if the affair was never to have an end. "What, if I
show Arthur Channing the letter first, and study his countenance as he
looks at it? I may gather something from that. I don't fancy he'd be an
over good actor, as some might be. If he has sent this money, I shall
see it in his face."
Acting upon the moment's impulse, he suddenly opened the door of the
outer office, and there found that Mr. Roland's industry had, for the
present, come to an end. He was standing before the window, making
pantomimic signs through the glass to a friend of his, Knivett. His
right thumb was pointed over his shoulder towards the door of Mr.
Galloway's private room; no doubt, to indicate a warning that that
gentleman was within, and that the office, consequently, was not free
for promiscuous intruders. A few sharp words of reprimand to Mr. Roland
ensued, and then he was sent off with a message to Arthur Channing.
It brought Arthur back with Roland. Mr. Galloway called Arthur into his
own room, closed the door, and put the letter into his hand in silence.
He read it twice over before he could understand it; indeed, he did not
do so fully then. His surprise appeared to be perfectly genuine, and so
Mr. Galloway thought it. "Has this letter been sent to you, sir? Has
any money been sent to you?"
"This has been sent to me," replied Mr. Galloway, tossing the
twenty-pound note to him. "Is it the one that was taken, Channing?"
"How can I tell, sir?" said Arthur, in much simplicity. And Mr.
Galloway's long doubts of him began to melt away.
"_You_ did not send the money--to clear yourself?"
Arthur looked up in surprise. "Where should I get twenty pounds from?"
he asked. "I shall shortly have a quarter's salary from Mr. Williams:
but it is not quite due yet. And it will not be twenty pounds, or
anything like that amount."
Mr. Galloway nodded. It was the thought which had struck himself.
Another thought, however, was now striking Arthur; a thought which
caused his cheek to flush and his brow to lower. With the word "salary"
had arisen to him the remembrance of another's salary due about this
time; that of his brother Hamish. Had Hamish been making this use of
it--to remove the stigma from him? The idea received additional force
from Mr. Galloway's next words: for they bore upon the point.
"This letter is what it purports to be: a missive from the actual
thief; or else it comes from some well-wisher of yours, who sacrifices
twenty pounds to do you a service. Which is it?"
Mr. Galloway fixed his eyes on Arthur's face and could not help noting
the change which had come over it, over his bearing altogether. The
open candour was gone: and in its place reigned the covert look, the
hesitating manner, the confusion which had characterized him at the
period of the loss. "All I can say, sir, is, that I know nothing of
this," he presently said. "It has surprised me as much as it can
surprise any one."
"Channing!" impulsively exclaimed Mr. Galloway, "your manner and your
words are opposed to each other, as they were at the time. The one
gives the lie to the other. But I begin to believe you did not take
"I did not," returned Arthur.
"And therefore--as I don't like to be played with and made sport of,
like a cat tormenting a mouse--I think I shall give orders to Butterby
for a fresh investigation."
It startled Arthur. Mr. Galloway's curiously significant tone, his
piercing gaze upon his face, also startled him. "It would bring no
satisfaction, sir," he said. "Pray do not. I would far rather continue
to bear the blame."
A pause. A new idea came glimmering into the mind of Mr. Galloway.
"Whom are you screening?" he asked. But he received no answer.
"Is it Roland Yorke?"
"Roland Yorke!" repeated Arthur, half reproachfully. "No, indeed. I
wish every one had been as innocent of it as was Roland Yorke."
In good truth, Mr. Galloway had only mentioned Roland's name as coming
uppermost in his mind. He knew that no suspicion attached to Roland.
Arthur resumed, in agitation:
"Let the matter drop, sir. Indeed, it will be better. It appears, now,
that you have the money back again; and, for the rest, I am willing to
take the blame, as I have done."
"If I have the money back again, I have not other things back again,"
crossly repeated Mr. Galloway. "There's the loss of time it has
occasioned, the worry, the uncertainty: who is to repay me all that?"
"My portion in it has been worse than yours, sir," said Arthur, in a
low, deep tone. "Think of _my_ loss of time; my worry and uncertainty;
my waste of character; my anxiety of mind: they can never be repaid to
"And whose the fault? If you were truly innocent, you might have
cleared yourself with a word."
Arthur knew he might. But that word he had not dared to speak. At this
juncture, Roland Yorke appeared. "Here's Jenner's old clerk come in,
sir," said he to his master. "He wants to see you, he says."
"He can come in," replied Mr. Galloway. "Are you getting on with that
copying?" he added to Arthur, as the latter was going out.