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PARTLY PROM THE MSS. OF TlHE
REV. WILLIAM ADAMS,
AUTHOR OF THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS," &C.
EDITED BY THE
REV. H. C. ADAMS.
FRANCIS & JOHN RIVINGTON,
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND WATERLOO PLACE.
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ST. JOHN'S SQUARE.
JOHN W. ADAMS
EMILY E. C. ADAMS
,iis little nnlame is Snstrihlh
THEIR AFFECTIONATE UNCLE
H. C. A.
MANY years cave passed away since my lamented
brother first delighted a party of children, assem-
bled at a Christmas entertainment, with the simple
outline of this Tale. It was repeated by him on
other occasions of a similar kind; and he was often
urgently entreated by his youthful audiences to
publish the Story. During the summer of 1842,
after the first attack of the fatal disorder which
ultimately removed him from us, and before his
departure for Madeira in the autumn of that year,
he occupied himself in committing to writing the
larger portion of the Story, with the view of its
ultimate adaptation for the Press. The little Tale
was then laid aside, and the higher and more im-
portant publications, which afterwards occupied his
time, prevented its resumption, although the idea
was never wholly abandoned by him.
After his death, many friends, who remembered
the delight with which the Story had been listened
to, were desirous that it should be given to the
world, and it was placed in my hands with that
I found it could not be published in its then
state. It was little more than a rough draft, with
marginal notes, and some portions not written at
Notwithstanding this difficulty, we were anxious
for its publication. The Story not only contains
a practical and valuable Moral, but it is calculated
to influence that time of life which it is in general
peculiarly difficult to reach by such means. I
have, therefore, ventured to rewrite the Book,
retaining as far as possible the original MSS., and
supplying a continuation and conclusion in keeping
with it. That the Story must, under such circum-
stances, lose much of the beauty and interest
which it would have possessed if it had been com-
pleted by the mind by which it was originally con-
ceived, is sufficiently obvious; but I trust enough
remains to justify the publication, and to render
the Work interesting as well as valuable to its
youthful Readers, for whose perusal it is principally
H. C. A.
May 1, 1851.
-THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE.
How tiresome!" exclaimed Charles Warbeck;
"how very tiresome, Harry! This is the third
time you have knocked it over. You must have
done it on purpose."
"It istoo bad!" "It is very ill-natured!" "It
is just like him!" was echoed from various parts
of the playground.
"How could I help it ?" expostulated Henry
Mertoun, the head boy of the school, a fine lad in
his thirteenth year. "How could I help it, when
he would give me nothing but full pitches ?"
"Nonsense, Harry, you know very well you
might have blocked them if you had chosen."
"Block them indeed," rejoined Mertoun, in-
dignantly striking the ground with his bat as he
spoke; a nice thing to be blocking full pitches-
a nice way to be out, I think-and to be blocking,
too, when we have twenty runs to get, and nobody
but Tommy Brook to go in!"
Well, at any rate, you have taken an effectual
way of preventing yourself or any one else from being
out, by putting a stop to the game altogether."
Such were the discontented exclamations that
proceeded from the playground of Charlton School,
on the afternoon of the 18th of June, 184-. A
few words will explain what had caused the tem-
porary unpopularity of Henry Mertoun. It was a
half-holiday, and the boys had been the whole
afternoon engaged in the grand cricket match of
the half year. It had proved a most interesting
contest, Warbeck's side had at one time deci-
dedly the advantage; but, in his second innings,
Mertoun had batted with such spirit and success,
as bade fair to change the fortune of the day; and
as the game approached its conclusion, its issue ap-
peared so very doubtful, as to excite the utmost
anxiety both among the spectators and the com-
batants. Unluckily, however, there was a draw-
back peculiar to the ground on which they played.
It was bounded on one side by a brick wall, about
nine feet high, and it occasionally happened that
their matches were interrupted by the ball being
struck over this barrier into an adjoining orchard.
Now, whether it was owing to Warbeck's bad
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE.
bowling, as Mertoun had affirmed, or to Mertoun's
own impetuosity, as the popular voice had declared,
I cannot take upon myself to say; but, within one
half-hour, he had three times struck the ball into
the forbidden territory. Dr. Young, their master,
had twice allowed them to go round to his neigh-
bour, Squire Ellison, to whom the orchard belonged,
with a request to his gardener to throw their ball
back again into the playground: but he had warned
them at the same time that, if the accident again
occurred, he could not permit them to trouble Mr.
Ellison's servant a third time. All the boys, young
and old, knew that there was no chance of Dr.
Young's departing from his word. No one, indeed,
thought it worth while to make the attempt, so that
it is not surprising that they thought it too bad "
and "very ill-natured," and declared that it was
"done on purpose," and the like; and were withal
very much disposed to be out of humour, whether
reasonably or unreasonably, with the cause of the
disaster, as it is the wont of boys and men to be,
when any thing occurs to mar their enjoyment.
The cricketers wandered listlessly up and down
the playground; for, after the excitement of the
match, it was impossible to take interest in any
fresh game. There was a cloud on every face.
Some argued hotly on the probable result of the un-
4 THE CHERRY-STONES.
finished match: each party maintaining that there
could be no doubt but that their side had had the
advantage, and must have won if it had been con-
cluded. Others vented their spleen in murmurs
against every thing which seemed in any way con-
nected with the mishap; and Mertoun's batting,
Warbeck's bowling, Dr. Young, Squire Ellison, his
orchard, his gardener, and, lastly, the wall of the
playground-each came in for its share of censure.
The wall in particular was the object of universal
disfavour. Never, probably, was any composition of
brick and mortar subjected to such severe criticism,
as the ill-starred wall in question. It ought to
have had palings on the top;"-" It ought to be
nothing but palings;"-" It ought to be a great
deal lower;"-" It ought not to be there at all;"-
"It ought to be there, and to be twice as high;"-
were all urged and all admitted; it not making, ap-
parently, the slightest difference in the unanimity
of the party, that no two agreed together in the
fault they found. None of the party was more
thoroughly out of temper than Mertoun himself.'
IHe was vexed at the interruption of his innings:
he was vexed because he had ceased to be the object
of general admiration; above all, he was vexed be-
cause he felt that it was chiefly his carelessness that
had caused the accident. Discontent and idleness
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 5
generally lead to mischief, and so it proved on the
"What a pity!" exclaimed Seymour, one of the
first class boys, who had been very loud in his ex-
pressions of disappointment. "What a pity that
abominable wall was not built a foot or two higher,
or a foot or two lower!"
"A foot or two higher or lower," said West;
"well, I do not see what good we should get if it
was a foot or two lower. We should only lose our
ball twice as often."
"If," replied Seymour, "it were a foot or two
higher, there would be much less chance of the ball
being knocked over; and if it were a foot or two
lower, we might manage to get over, and bring it
"And why should we not get over as it is,"
suddenly exclaimed Mertoun, looking eagerly up at
the wall, "it would not be so very difficult ?"
Oh, dear, no!" remarked Seymour, ironically,
"particularly easy, I declare; and I really think,
Harry, that as it was you who lost our ball, that
you had better perform this particularly easy feat,
and get it back again."
This taunt, and the general laugh that followed
it, only stimulated Mertoun to make the attempt.
But it was an easier thing to resolve on than to
execute. The height, to be sure, was not very for-
midable; and the boy was well known as a bold and
active climber; but his performances had hitherto
been confined to trees, and how was he to com-
mence operations on a smooth surface of brickwork,
that offered neither trunk to swarm, nor branches
to cling to ? If the wall had been decayed ever so
little, or if even a single brick had been removed, the
case would have been different. But our hero (for
such Harry Mertoun may be styled) was not in a
humour to be easily discouraged. He took a care-
ful survey of the whole line of building, and his eye
soon rested on the only point which offered a pos-
sibility of success. Towards the further end of the
wall, and at a short distance from the corner, there
was a buttress rising about five feet from the ground,
the top of which had been slightly worn away, so as
to afford a resting-place of about half an inch in
breadth. It was a favourite amusement with the
younger boys to pitch their marbles so as to make
them rest on this slight ledge; but it was so very
narrow, that they but seldom succeeded in their
I," said Mertoun, as standing upon tip-toe he
tried with a'large stone to knock away more of the
brickwork from the top of the buttress, to the inex-
pressible delight of his little brother, Walter, who
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 7
had passed a great part of the afternoon in vain
endeavours to make a favourite alley rest on the
ledge, "if I could only get my foot up there, I
could manage the rest easily enough."
We will give you a lift," shouted several voices.
"You can stand on me," said West, leaning, as he
spoke, against the buttress, so as to offer his shoul-
der as a step.
"No, no," cried Warbeck, who had hitherto
taken no part in the proceedings, "it is impossible,
and he may break a limb; besides," he continued,
in a lower tone, what would Dr. Young say ?"
"Never mind Dr. Young," replied Mertoun,
recklessly; it will be his own fault for not giving
us leave to go round for the ball;" and without
more words, availing himself of the hands and
shoulders of his companions, he made a vigorous
effort to reach the top of the buttress. Twice the
attempt failed, and the second time he tore his
trousers against the sharp surface of the buttress;
but the third trial was attended with more success.
His spring succeeded, and for a moment he paused,
with his foot supported by the narrow ridge, and
the top of the wall grasped with both his hands.
Still the work was only half accomplished.
"And now you have got your foot there, what
next ?" inquired Seymour, with a provoking laugh.
Harry made no reply, but throwing all his strength
into his arms, he slowly raised his body, until he
was able to get his knee on a level with his hands,
and in an instant afterwards, waving his cap above
his head, he stood triumphantly on the summit of
Once on the top, all the rest was easy. He
walked cautiously along, till he arrived at a point
where a large branch of one of the trees rested
against the brickwork. Holding fast by this, he
gradually let himself down on the opposite side.
There was a moment of breathless expectation while
he was hidden from the eyes of his schoolfellows;
and then the cricket ball came bounding into the
playground, and announced the successful issue of
"Hush, hush!" cried several voices, as a general
shout was raised; "we shall have Dr. Young, or
one of the ushers, out directly, to know what is the
matter, and then Harry will get into a nice scrape.
Make haste, Mertoun, there's no time to lose."
Our hero appeared to be perfectly aware of this
fact, without being reminded of it. To climb the
tree, and regain the top of the wall, was the work
of a moment; and then, without returning to the
point at which he had ascended, he let himself
down as far as he could by his hands, and, assisted
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 9
by his companions, dropped quietly and safely to
It will readily be believed, that this successful feat
produced a complete revolution in the sentiments
of the little world of Charlton School. Mertoun's
unpopularity passed away in a moment. He had
achieved what no one hitherto had even ventured
to attempt. There was, indeed, a legend still ex-
tant, of some daring adventurer in the heroic ages
(there is always an heroic age in the traditions of
every school, in which the boys are related to have
been greater in size, and more venturous in spirit,)
who had scaled one of the walls of the playground,
and brought back with him a moss-covered brick,
as a memorial of his expedition, which might still
be seen half-buried under the great buttress. But
the boys in general held the tradition to be my-
thical, nay, to have been altogether devised, in
order to account for the presence of the aforesaid
moss-covered brick: and Harry was regarded quite
as a hero by his companions. "Bravo, Harry!"
" Well done, Harry!" "I should not have believed
it possible;" There is not another boy that would
have ventured to attempt it;" and the like, was
heard on all sides: whilst others, anxious to claim
any share, however trifling, in so glorious an under-
taking, disputed warmly as to who it was that
10 THE CHERRY-STONES.
guided his foot to the ledge of the buttress, and
who gave him the last push which enabled him to
get his hand to the top of the wall.
Poor Harry! he did, indeed, run a great risk of
being spoiled. First, there had been his unusual
success at cricket, and the proud thoughts to
which it had given rise; then a temporary reverse,
which, instead of subduing him, had only awakened
angry and rebellious feelings; then these had led
him on to commit an act of disobedience; and
lastly, his disobedience had been attended with suc-
cess, and the admiration of his schoolfellows. He
was more than ever full of proud thoughts. This day
might, indeed, well prove the beginning of trouble.
S" Well," at length observed Seymour, after about
half an hour had been wasted in various expressions
of surprise and admiration, "' I do not precisely see
what use it is having our ball back again, if we are
Snot to go on with the match." Now it would seem
not a little strange that this obvious fact had not
occurred either to Mertoun or his friends. There
was no doubt that the interruption of the game
had been regarded as a great hardship, and was the
cause of Harry's dangerous exploit. But no sooner
had the difficulty been removed, than they almost
forgot to continue it. So much has imagination to
do with our worst misfortunes.
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDI]
Seymour's hint, however, was no sooner heard
than it was acted upon; but the long contested
game was not, after all, destined to be concluded.
Too much time had been lost. The wickets were
scarcely pitched again, before the bell rang for
supper, and the boys left the playground, convers-
ing as they straggled in, upon the various occur-
rences of the eventful afternoon, which had just
come to a conclusion.
"Harry, Harry!" said little Walter Mertoun,
drawing his brother back from the crowd; "I am
so much obliged to you; only see what you have
done for me."
"What are you worrying about ?" said Mertoun,
who had received too much flattery from his older
schoolfellows to wish to be detained by the praises
of a child of six years old.
Only see how beautifully my alley balances on
the place you made for it."
I made for it," said Harry, impatiently; "what
are you talking about ?"
"Why," said Walter, innocently, "did not you
knock away the bricks with a stone for me ?"
Well," replied Harry, after a moment's reflec-
tion, if I did, you had better hold your tongue
about it;" and he turned to follow his companions.
"But, Harry, please tell me one thing. Do
you think it will be safe if I leave it there all
"Leave what?" said Mertoun, again turning
round-" the buttress "
No, no! the alley. Now you are laughing at
me, brother Harry."
Well, Walter, I do not think the alley will
walk away of its own accord."
"Then you think it will be safe ?" said Walter,
"Oh, ay! quite safe-don't tease," hastily re-
plied Mertoun, as he ran off to join his companions
at the supper table. Walter shook his head gravely,
as though he thought a matter of such importance
ought not to be so lightly dealt with; and then,
giving one parting look at his favourite, he slowly
followed his brother's steps.
It would have been well for Mertoun if the
events of the evening had ended with this conver-
sation; and his exploit had led to no consequences
more serious than the balancing of his little bro-
ther's marble on the ledge of the buttress. But an-
other question was asked in the supper-room by an
older boy, the results of which were very different.
Mertoun," whispered a voice in his ear, as he
t( ok his seat at the table, did the fruit in the
crchai d look very tempting?"
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 13
Harry started as he heard the words. He had
not observed who his neighbour on the left hand
was; and on turning round to reconnoitre him, he
was not particularly pleased to find himself seated
next to Edward Sharpe, a boy in the first class not
much younger than himself, but who had only lately
come to the school, where he was already notorious
for suggesting schemes of mischief which he had
not courage to execute himself.
"Really," replied Harry, "I had no time to
look; but I do remember," he continued, after a
moment's recollection, "that there was a most
splendid cherry-tree, covered with fruit, at the foot
of which I found he ball."
"Ah! then," said the other slily, "let me go
halves with you in the cherries you gathered."
"The cherries I gathered!" exclaimed Harry, in
great surprise, I did not go into the orchard to
gather cherries, I went to look for the ball."
"But when you were there, you know it did not
much matter what you went for. So you were
under a ripe cherry-tree, and let the cherries off!
Are you certain you gathered none?"
"Indeed, I did not; I had something else to
think of. Besides, Edward, surely it would have
been stealing Squire Ellison's cherries."
"Stealing, indeed! as if Squire Ellison would
14 THE CHERRY-STONES.
mind a few cherries out of that large orchard! And
if he did, it would serve him right for not sending
the boys some fruit."
But he did send us some last year, and perhaps
he will do so again."
Perhaps he may," rejoined Sharpe, and perhaps
he may not; and perhaps's' may be good things
as well as cherries; but if my foot had once got
into his orchard, there would have been no 'per-
haps's for me."
The conversation, which had been carried on in
Sa low whisper, was here interrupted by a summons
to prayers. But it had lasted long enough to give a
new turn to the thoughts of Harry Mertoun. It
was perfectly true, as he had said, that while in the
orchard the idea of taking the fruit had never
occurred to him. But he began now more than half
to repent of his own honesty. It was, he reasoned,
overstrained to call picking a few cherries off a large
tree robbery. And such splendid cherries too.
"Well, however," thought he, "the opportunity is
gone by, and after all I am not sorry that I did not
think of picking them, while I was there."
Notwithstanding this conclusion, however, his
mind ran upon the subject during the whole of the
prayer-time that evening; nor did he make any
decided effort to shake it off. There was one very
THE SLIGHT ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 15
sad consequence arising from this. He retired to
rest without having implored forgiveness for his
fretfulness and disobedience during the day; and
without having asked for protection during the
dangers of the night. No one can tell how much
misery might have been spared him, if this evening
he had but once thought seriously on the words
"lead us not into temptation" which his lips
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENICU.
IT was remarked that evening by the boys who
slept in the same room with Mertoun, that he was
unusually silent. Though generally disposed to be
talkative, especially when any thing interesting had
occurred, he this evening scarcely joined in the
conversation, notwithstanding that it turned en-
tirely on the stirring incidents of the day, in which
he had borne so conspicuous a part. The boys,
however, were much tired, and the conversation
soon dropped from its first animated flow to a few
scattered observations at longer and longer in-
tervals; until at last the most profound silence
pervaded the apartment.
But Mertoun could not compose himself to rest.
We have seen that he had retired to bed without
having really offered a single prayer for protection
during the dangers of the night. We cannot,
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 17
therefore, wonder that the evil thoughts of the
day should continue to haunt him. Long after
the heavy breathing of the boys around him had
announced that he was the only one awake, he was
tossing restlessly upon his pillow. He thought
again and again over the events of the day: his
success at cricket; his clamber over the wall; the
admiration which his skill and boldness had ob-
tained. Still he was restless and dissatisfied. The
evil desires, which Sharpe's conversation at the
supper table had raised in his mind, gained strength
the more he dwelt on them. He could not drive
the provoking cherry-tree, with its ripe and beauti-
ful fruit, from his thoughts: and the more he in-
dulged his longings, the more clear and distinct
the recollection of all he had seen grew in his
imagination. More than once, as he was dropping
off to sleep, he was roused by finding himself
stretching out his hand to catch at the imaginary
fruit. Eleven, twelve, one, two o'clock struck.
At length, without any settled purpose, he stole
out of bed, and crept cautiously to the window.
It was a fine moonlight night; and every part of
the playground, and orchard beyond, was distinctly
visible in the clear white light. The wall, seen
from the height at which he stood, seemed a very
slight separation between them,-and there, just
where his imagination had placed it, stood the
tempting cherry-tree. Up to this night it had
never occurred to Harry, or to any other of the
boys, that the orchard, which they saw from their
bed-room window, was within their reach: but now
that he had actually surmounted the obstacle that
lay between them, he had exposed himself to a
temptation hitherto unknown to him. As he looked
eagerly on the scene of his afternoon's adventure,
the thought suddenly rushed into his mind, why
should he not go down stairs now: again climb the
wall of the playground, and possess himself of
some of the delicious fruit. For. a moment he
repelled the thought, but the next it returned with
redoubled force. The temptation, indeed, assailed
him in more than one weak point. He was naturally
fond of sweet things; and if he had not been
carefully brought up, might have become a greedy
boy. And, on the present occasion, he had thought
upon the cherries for such a length of time, that he
felt an extraordinary desire to obtain them. But
another point in his character exposed him still more
to danger. He was remarkable for a strong love of
the romantic and adventurous; as, indeed, is com-
monly the case with boys of a warm and eager
temper. Tales of wild and perilous exploits would
at all times arrest and rivet his attention, often to
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 19
the neglect of serious duties: and he was apt to lose
all recollection of the folly and criminality of some
of his heroes, in his admiration of their unbounded
and desperate courage. And as he now thought of
the daring and romance of going alone, at the dead
of night, and scaling a wall which none of his
schoolfellows would venture to attempt in open
day, he felt his heart beat more quickly, and a
thrill of strange feverish delight spread through
his veins. The temptation prevailed; and he
resolved to make the attempt. Noiselessly hurry-
ing on his clothes, he gave an anxious glance at
his unconscious companions, who were sleeping
soundly after the labours of the day; and then,
taking his shoes in his hand, crept softly out of
The staircase which led to the boys' dining and
school room was nearly dark, and as he groped his
way cautiously across the passage, and descended
step by step, it seemed so very long, that he
thought it would never end. He could scarcely
persuade himself it was the same staircase he was
accustomed to bound so lightly down in the morn-
ings, and which did not then seem more than a
dozen steps. More than once in his descent he
paused to make sure that he was not observed, and
fancied he heard distant noises; but when he listened
20 THE CIERRY-STONES.
all was quiet around him, save the slow ticking of
the staircase clock.
Arrived at the foot of the stairs, he had still
three rooms to pass through before he reached the
playground-the dining-room, the school-room itself,
and an outer room, in which the boys' trunks were
kept, and which went commonly by the name of the
marching-room, because in rainy weather the boys
used to have their drilling lesson there. The doors
of all these rooms he expected to find unfastened;
and though the outer door of the marching-room,
which opened into the playground, would of course
be locked, yet he knew the key was always left in
the lock on the inside. He was not mistaken. On
trying the dining-room and school-room doors, they
opened without difficulty. He encountered no ob-
stacle as he passed stealthily and silently through
them. Grim and ghostlike appeared the desks
and forms as the moonlight streamed in full
upon them. As he looked round, he could hardly
realize to himself that it was the scene of his daily
labours, so different was its unbroken stillness, and
its general aspect, under the cold white light of the
moon, from the glare, and noise, and bustle which
enlivened it by day. Its silence and loneliness
made his heart beat more quickly, and he was glad
when, unlocking the door of the marching-room, he
THE GAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 21
found himself clear of the house, and stepped joy-
fully out into the cool night air.
His first impulse was to cast a hasty glance at the
windows of the house, to make sure that none of
the family had been disturbed. Every thing was
profoundly still. So far, then, all had gone well.
He moved along under the shadow of the wall,
until he came to the buttress by which he had made
his former ascent; but here an obstacle encoun-
tered him which he had altogether forgotten to
provide for. On the previous afternoon, he had
reached the top of the buttress by the assist-
ance of his schoolfellows. Now, however, he was
entirely alone, and how was he to begin to climb ?
For a few moments he was baffled. "I will
not give it up, though," said he to himself, as
he measured the height of the wall with his eye;
" I will not give it up. The greater the difficulty,
the greater the glory; I will manage it somehow,
I am resolved." As he pondered thus, his eye sud-
denly rested on a bench which had been brought
out of the marching-room on the afternoon of the
match for the use of the boys during the game.
" The very thing," he exclaimed; "how stupid of
us not to think of this bench yesterday! Ay," he
pursued, as he laid it with its back resting against
the buttress, and its legs projecting outwards
22 THE CHERRY-STONES.
from the wall, "this will make a famous ladder."
Scrambling, first on to the lower, and then the
upper legs, he speedily contrived to reach the posi-
tion from which he had, on the first occasion, suc-
ceeded in raising himself to the top of the wall:
but as he rested on the ledge previously to making
the requisite spring, his left foot suddenly slipped:
and it was only by a vigorous effort that he saved
himself from falling headlong into the playground.
As it was, he was obliged to step hastily on to the
bench, and from thence to the ground, before he could
recover his equilibrium. "It is Walter's tiresome
marble," muttered he, as he picked up the alley,
which, it will be remembered, his little brother had
balanced on the ledge of the buttress the night
before; "what a provoking child he is!" Having
thus vented his anger on the unconscious cause of
his misfortune, he put the marble into his pocket,
and recommencing the ascent, soon arrived at the
top of the wall.
As, however, he was in the act of lowering
himself by the branch of the tree into the orchard,
his ear caught a sound which filled him with dis-
may. It was a rapid scuffling of feet in the play-
ground below, as though some one were running
hastily from the house, in the direction of the but-
tress. He clung to the tree in an agony of fear,
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 23
not daring either to advance or recede. After re-
maining some minutes in this position, his anxiety
prevailed so far over his fears, that he cautiously
raised himself on the bough, and peeped over the
wall. The first glance reassured him. The occu-
pant of the playground, whose footsteps had caused
him so much alarm, was only a favourite spaniel
belonging to Dr. Young, whose kennel stood in the
garden adjoining the playground, but who was often
left untied at night. The animal was greatly petted
by the boys, and especially by Mertoun, with whom
it was a frequent amusement to make his canine
friend jump over sticks, or run races round the
playground. This proved fortunate for him on the
present occasion. He had scarcely raised his head
from his lurking-place, before the quick instinct of
the dog had discovered him, and doubtless, had he
been a stranger, she would instantly have broken
out into a loud and angry bark. As it was, how-
ever, she contented herself with informing him, by
a low whine, that she was aware of his presence,
and that she wanted him to come down from the
wall, and join her in some frolic. Hush, Juno,
hush!" exclaimed Harry; "hush, good dog;" and
although puzzled at so unusual a request from
Mertoun, Juno so far complied as to desist from
whining, and deliberately seating herself opposite
24 THE CHERTY-STONES.
to the tree, appeared to be speculating with much
gravity as to the next step which Harry would take.
Relieved from his immediate embarrassment,
Mertoun paused. He felt more than half disposed
to return to his bed, and abandon the adventure
altogether; but the Tempter now awakened his
pride, and so added a fresh motive for persisting.
How inglorious, he whispered in his ear, to go
back now, after all your grand resolutions, and the
risks you have run, and only because you have been
frightened by a dog! Above all, to abandon your
enterprise at the very moment when the prize
is within your grasp! Why, you can all but reach
the cherries from your present resting-place. No,
no," said he, yielding to these thoughts, "it would
be cowardly, indeed, to give it up now;" so with a
parting admonition to Juno to remain quiet, he
descended swiftly and noiselessly into the orchard,
and stood, for the second time, at the foot of the
But he had reckoned too far on Juno's obedience.
So long as Harry continued in sight, she considered
that she had some security that he was not going
to baulk her of her expected frolic; but, no sooner
had the boy disappeared, than she began a series of
whines, each rising louder than the last, accom-
panied by an occasional short, sharp bark. Mertoun
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 25
saw that no time must be lost in returning, lest
the house should be disturbed by her increasing
clamour. He dared not stop to eat the fruit he had
gathered; but, thrusting a few of the cherries into
his pocket, he hastily reclimbed the wall, and dropped
into the playground. The dog greeted his return
with unbounded delight, scuffling round and round
him, and making frantic attempts to jump up and
lick his face. With difficulty-for he did not dare
to elevate his voice-he succeeded in moderating
his companion's excessive and most inopportune
flow of spirits; but, at length, the dog was pacified,
and Harry had time to think over what had hap-
pened. The excitement had passed. The offence
was committed: and its full extent now for the
First time rushed upon him. It was not the
number of cherries he had taken; it was the
act of taking them which appalled him. He
could scarcely believe he had really stolen them,
and that he, Henry Mertoun, was actually a
thief! For he was by no means an unprincipled
boy. We have seen that he had exposed himself by
his discontent and disobedience to temptation, and
that he had yielded to it; but in general his
character stood high, both in the estimation of
the masters and the boys, for honesty and sincerity.
It was only a few days before that Dr. Young had
26 THE CHEBRY-STONES.
said publicly of him before the whole school, that he
did not believe any thing would induce Henry Mer-
toun to tell a falsehood; and his remorse at what he
had now done made him more miserable than he
had ever felt in his life. How could he be so
wicked! How gladly would he give up-not merely
the few cherries, which were now valueless to him
-but all he had in the world, if he could only undo
the work of the last quarter of an hour! But this,
he sadly reflected, was impossible. He might be
sorry for it-he might resolve never to be led into
such guilt again-he might do all in his power to
atone for it; but he could not undo it. He became
painfully conscious of that most terrible feature in
an act of sin, that it is irrevocable. "Oh!" said he,
" if I can only get back quietly to my room again,
this will be a lesson I shall not soon forget."
But there was much to be done before he could
with any safety think of retiring to rest. His first
care was to remove the bench, and place it in its
former position. In the next place the fruit was
to be disposed of; and here again the terrors of an
evil conscience haunted him, and raised doubts and
fears in his mind, which the sense of guilt alone
could have produced. If, reasoned he, the fruit be
found in my possession, suspicion must of course
light upon me. If I throw the cherries over the
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE. 27
wall, Mr. Ellison's gardener will find them in the
morning, and will make inquiries as to who gathered
them. If I leave them in the playground, there
will be still greater risk of detection. He did not
feel the slightest inclination to eat them; indeed,
they had become hateful to him as evidences of his
guilt. No other mode of disposing of them, how-
ever, occurred to him, and he accordingly thrust
them hastily into his mouth. But, alas! no sooner
was this done, than the same terrors, created
Sby the same causes, met him in a new shape.
What was to be done with the stones ? There
they were-seven in number-each of them, in
his excited fancy, telling its tale of a cherry that
had been stolen! how must they be disposed of?
He looked at Juno. The dog was employing herself
Sin scraping a hole in a corner of the playground.
"You are right, Juno," said Harry, speaking to
her, as though he thought she had seen the diffi-
culty, and had suggested a way of removing it,
"we must bury them." And as he spoke he en-
larged the hole with a stick, till he had made it
Sufficiently deep for his purpose; and then, first
throwing the stones into the hole, he carefully co-
vered them upwith earth, scattering a little loose dust
over the spot, so as to make it appear as though the
ground had never been disturbed; and this he ma-
naged so successfully, that when it was done, he
could himself scarcely recognize the spot. There,"
said he, as he sprinkled the last handful of dust,
"there let them lie, they at least shall not betray me."
He then thought that every thing was safe, and
that he might return without risk of discovery to
his bed-room. He had scarcely, however, reached
the door of the marching-room, when he remem-
bered that he had his little brother Walter's alley
still in his pocket. This favourite marble of the
little boy's had a dark red ring round the centre:
and might be recognized amongst a thousand.
That child, reasoned he, in the restlessness of his
uneasy conscience, will be sure to make a hue and
cry after his marble to-morrow when he finds it has
been removed from the buttress; and how am I to
account for having it in my possession ? Wearied
and sick at heart as he was, he returned to the
buttress, in order to replace it on the ledge. But
this proved no easy matter. His hand shook so
violently, that the marble rolled off no less than
five times from the narrow slip of wall, on which
he endeavoured to fix it. The poor boy was more
overcome by this little difficulty than he had been
by his greater troubles. He burst into tears, and
was, in his vexation, on the point of throwing away
the alley, and abandoning the attempt. But if I do,
THE GRAVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE.
again the thought occurred to him, Walter will be
searching all over the playground for it, and perhaps
will light upon the cherry-stones. He resolved to
make one more attempt, and it proved successful.
The marble settled firmly on the top of the buttress,
and Harry, retracing his steps as quickly as he
could across the playground, and persuading Juno
to go into the garden, closed the gate upon her, and
then re-entered the marching-room.
We need not follow him through the remainder
of his progress. We may easily imagine the
mingled fretfulness and alarm with which he drew
the noisy bolts, and turned the creaking key; the
fear and trembling with which he passed through
the three rooms, and up the staircase, now faintly
tinged with the morning light; and the hurried
glance he cast round him, as he re-entered his bed-
room, lest any of his companions should have de-
tected his absence. But they were all sleeping
soundly and peacefully, just as when he had left
them. It was evident no one in the room had
been disturbed. He hastily slipped off his clothes,
and the clock struck three as he stepped into bed.
-But a single hour had elapsed since he had first
got up to look out of the window: but it was the
longest and most wearisome hour that Harry
Mertoun had ever passed.
IT was nearly half-past six o'clock. The first bell
had rung more than twenty minutes, and the boys
in Mertoun's room were dressed and ready to go
down stairs. Harry, however, still continued in bed,
notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts on the
part of his companions to arouse him. It was in
vain that they reminded him that he would forfeit
marks; that he would have a heavy imposition;
that it would not improbably lose him his prize,
and the like. To all these representations he re-
turned drowsy and fretful answers. The second bell
sounded. Mertoun still refused to rise; and the
boys hastened down stairs, speculating as they went
on the unaccountable conduct of their schoolfellow,
and whether Dr. Young would discover his absence.
Upon this latter point they were not long left
in doubt. Prayers were scarcely over, before Dr.
WALTER'S ALLEY. 1 I
Young's quick eye was observed glancing round
the school-room, as though he had perceived that
some one was absent. "Where," said he, "is
Henry Mertoun ?" There was a short pause; and
then Charles Warbeck replied," I believe, Sir, he
has overslept himself this morning. He seemed
very tired, and, I think, must be a little unwell."
"Tired, and unwell," said the Doctor, as he left
the school; and the next instant his heavy footstep
was heard ascending the staircase that led to
Our hero's slumbers were still unbroken when
his master entered the apartment, and stood silently
by his bedside, watching for several minutes, with
much interest, the features of the sleeping boy. It
was evident, that though his repose was deep, it
was by no means refreshing. His hands were
tightly clenched, and the muscles of his face worked
convulsively, as though he were engaged in some
imaginary struggle; and one foot which protruded
from the counterpane, was slightly stained with
Mertoun," said the Doctor, gently laying his
hand on his shoulder; "do you know what o'clock
"Off, off, Juno!" exclaimed Harry in his sleep.
"Do you hear me, Sir?" said Dr. Young, in
32 THE CHERRY-STONES.
a louder tone, shaking him by the arm as he
Off, Juno, off, you will crush me!" again ex-
claimed the sleeper; and as he uttered these words
he opened his eyes, and fixed them in silent asto-
nishment on the figure of the Doctor standing by
Well, Harry," said Dr. Young, who could not
forbear smiling at the dismay expressed on the
boy's countenance; "what did you take me for ?"
"I-I beg your pardon, Sir," stammered Harry,
only half awake; "I believe I had a disagreeable
dream, that Juno was sitting on my breast, and
stifling me with her paws."
"Ah, a nightmare," said Dr. Young. "You
are not well, Mertoun; you must have eaten some-
thing that has disagreed with you."
"Oh, no, indeed!" exclaimed the conscience-
stricken boy, in alarm; "I am not in the least ill,
indeed I am not."
"How then comes it that you are so late?"
pursued the Doctor. Harry made no reply.
"Well, Mertoun," rejoined the other, after a
moment's pause, "I am glad, at least, you do not
attempt to deceive me by pretending to be ill. I
had rather see you guilty of almost any fault than
deceit. So, as you are usually punctual, I shall
WALTER'S ALLEY. 33
take no further notice of this irregularity. Dress
yourself, and come down as quickly as you
He turned to leave the room, but, as he did so,
his eyes again fell on the foot which Harry had
still left uncovered. Why you have hurt your
foot, my boy," said he, kindly stooping down to
view it more narrowly: "and very recently, too.
In what game was this done?"
"I-I do not know," replied Mertoun. I
suppose I must have scratched it against the bed-
post, during the night; it was not done when I
went to bed last night."
You must have been indeed restless, then,"
said Dr. Young; "are you sure," he added, as he
paused with his hand on the lock of the door, are
you sure there is nothing the matter with you ?"
Quite sure, Sir, nothing at all," replied Harry.
Dr. Young left the room, and no sooner was he
gone than Harry Mertoun burst into a flood of
He had, indeed, much to make him unhappy.
It was true he had escaped detection, but his escape
had been dearly purchased by equivocation and
deceit. It was in vain that he tried to persuade
himself that he had not said any thing untrue. I
did not tell him," said he to himself, that I had
not eaten any thing out of the common way, but
only that I had not eaten any thing that had dis-
agreed with me, and I do not know that the
cherries did disagree with me : and as for my foot,
I suppose it was hurt in the night, and I do not
know how I hurt it, so that was true at all events."
And so indeed it was, and evidenced his strongly
excited state during his expedition: for he must,
without being aware of it, have cut his foot in
some manner while climbing the wall. But although
all this was true as regarded the letter, he felt in
his heart that both his answers were, in spirit,
evasions of the truth; and now, when it was too
late, he wished that he had had courage to make a
full confession. Why," thought he, "when his
hand was on the door, and he spoke to me in that
kind voice, why did I not obey the impulse that
prompted me to tell him the truth?" Above all,
the remission of his punishment by Dr. Young,
because he had not acted deceitfully, smote upon
his conscience. He felt that, to receive this praise,
and avail himself of the Doctor's indulgence on
grounds so entirely false, was a great aggravation
of his offence.
This inward struggle continued for some time,
but the wish for concealment at length prevailed.
It wanted only four days to the end of the half
year, and Henry Mertoun was the favourite among
his schoolfellows for the first prize both in classics
and ciphering. If Dr. Young should hear of an
offence so grave as a midnight attempt to steal fruit,
all chance of a prize, he well knew, was at an end;
for, however regular or diligent a boy might be,
an act of dishonesty was considered sufficient to
exclude him from all hope of reward. You have
got the highest marks in your class," he had said
at Christmas to a clever boy whom he had detected
in a falsehood; "but I cannot give you the prize.
Diligence and great talents may be turned to evil
as well as good account: unless they are accom-
panied by straightforwardness and honesty I will
never encourage them."
This was the very reflection that should have led
Mertoun at all hazards to tell the truth: but,
unhappily, he thought only of his prize, and the
shame to which exposure would subject him; so he
determined to drown the reproaches of his con-
science by mixing with the boys again; and,jumping
out of bed, he hurried over his prayers, and hastily
dressed himself. He had not quite finished, when
he heard a step on the staircase. The least circum-
Sstance was now sufficient to alarm him. Throwing
down his waistcoat, he began in great haste to pull
on his shoes, for his stockings were so soiled with
36 THE CHERRY-STONES.
mud and sand as to be likely to lead to awkward
questions ; and there was, moreover, a hole in the
bottom of one of them, and a slight stain of blood
that corresponded too nearly with the wound on his
foot, not to afford to his disturbed state of mind
a most unpleasant risk of discovery.
The second shoe was not quite on when the door
opened, and Charles Warbeck presented himself.
" Come, Harry," he said; "what a time you have
been! Mr. Powell sent me up to look for you.
He thought you must have fallen asleep again."
"I am just ready," said Harry, only this tire-
some shoe never will come on. It feels as if there
were a stone sticking in the toe of it."
"Off with it, man, then, and look," said Charles;
"can I help you?"
No, I thank you," replied Mertoun, quickly
alarmed at the notion of his schoolfellow seeing the
condition of his stocking. I can manage it per-
fectly," and, with a violent effort, he forced his foot
into the shoe. Now," said he, it is all right."
Notwithstanding this assertion, however, it soon
appeared that it was not all right, for he had
scarcely made three steps towards the door, when
Warbeek exclaimed, Why, Harry, you are walking
lame, your shoe must hurt you."
It's all right, I tell you," replied Mertoun,
WALTER S ALLLEY.
pettishly; surely I must know best whether it
hurts me or not."
Certainly, Harry; but nevertheless you walked
a little lame; not that that is any great wonder,
considering your climb over the wall."
"M3y climb, Charles! what do you mean?"
stammered Mertoun, stopping short in the middle
of the room, and turning very pale.
What do I mean ?" rejoined Warbeck, greatly
astonished at the tone in which the question was
asked; "your climb after the cricket-ball, to be
sure. You have not forgotten that already, I
Harry at once saw how nearly he had betrayed
his own secret. Conscience had led him to mistake
the meaning of a very simple question, and another
falsehood was the consequence. Of course, I
knew you meant that, Warbeck; but how could it
possibly lame me ?"
"Why, you might have sprained your foot in
Harry felt that he was treading on dangerous
ground, and that his wisest course was to take
refuge in silence. Charles Warbeck, who was a
good-natured boy, and who saw that for some
unexplained reason the subject was distasteful to
his companion, did not pursue it further, and they
descended the stairs together without continuing
School was over, and the boys all assembled at
breakfast, when Charles and Harry entered the
room. "I ow is your foot, Mertoun ?" said the
Doctor, as our hero made his appearance.
"Quite well, Sir, thank you," replied Harry,
colouring up to the eyes.
I am glad to hear it," was the rejoinder; I
was afraid you were walking a little lame."
Breakfast went on as usual, but Mertoun had
scarcely finished his first slice of bread, before a
circumstance occurred, which for the moment quite
deprived him of all appetite for another. Chancing
to put his hand into his pocket, he felt a
round substance in one corner of it, which, to his
extreme astonishment, he discovered to be little
Walter's alley. Yes;-there it was, with the red
ring round the centre;-the very identical alley that
he fancied lie had left safe on the buttress the
night before. Was it a dream ?" thought he, as
he turned it round and round in hopeless perplexity.
" Surely I remember that it rolled oft five times,
and that the sixth time I succeeded in balancing it
there. 3By what magic can it have got into my
pocket ? I suppose I must have mistaken something
else for it. But it is very strange."
"Take care, Harry," whispered Warbeck in his
ear, as he sat eyeing the mysterious alley, "take
care; Mr. Powell is looking at you."
"And what if he is ?" answered Mertoun.
Only that he takes away our marbles, you know,
if he sees us playing with them at breakfast."
The hint was not lost upon Harry; he hastily
thrust the alley into his pocket, in sudden alarm
lest the mysterious marble should fall into the
Breakfast was by this time concluded, and the
boys received the usual leave to adjourn to the
playground. They were allowed an hour's play
between breakfast and school, and they were not
slow to avail themselves of it. Out they rushed,
shouting, leaping, racing, and jostling against one
another, as though life and death depended on
being in the playground first.
Like sportive deer they coursed about,
And shouted as they ran;
Turning to mirth all things of earth,
As only boyhood can."
Mertoun, however, did not share in the high
spirits of his schoolfellows. lHe followed slowly
and thoughtfully in the rear, endeavouring to de-
vise some means of restoring his brother's marble
40 TIE CUERBY-STONES.
to him without awakening his suspicions. Mean-
while, Walter himself had run on as fast as his
little legs could carry him. He was terribly
alarmed, lest some evil-disposed person should get
before him, and possess himself of his favourite
alley. His heart had more than once misgiven
him for separating himself so long from his trea-
sure. He had dreamed of it during the night; it
had distracted his attention all through the morn-
ing-lesson; and he had grown so anxious during
breakfast, that even the attractions of some orange-
marmalade, wherewith one of his little friends had
enriched the barrenness of his bread and butter,
failed to occupy his undivided attention, as, doubt-
less, under other circumstances, it would have
done. No sooner was the signal for departure
given, than away he scampered, and in less than
two minutes had arrived at the spot where he had
left his favourite. lie gave one look at the but-
tress. His worst fears were realized. His trea-
sure was gone; and, what was stranger still, its
place was occupied, not indeed by a marble, but by
some other substance, distantly resembling one.
Back he ran to his brother, his constant counsellor
in all his little troubles: "Oh, Harry! larry! what
shall I do ? They have stolen my marble, and"-
"Well, Walter," said Mertoun, who had, of
course, anticipated this piece of information, "I
am sorry your marble is gone, but I dare say it is
not stolen, and that you will find it again soon;
and, until you do, I will lend you another, as good
or better than your own."
"Thank you, brother; but I would rather have
my own alley back again than have a great many
new ones. Thank you all the same. But that is
not all. They have not only taken my alley away,
but they have put something curious in its place.
Only do come and see, brother," continued the
little boy, pulling at the skirt of Harry's jacket.
Mertoun went with him reluctantly enough, but
he could find no reasonable excuse for declining.
He had, however, no sooner cast a glance in the
direction in which Walter was pointing, than he
made a start of extreme and very disagreeable sur-
prise. If his dismay at the disappearance of the
alley did not equal that of his little brother, now,
at all events, he was at least equally amazed and
Confounded. Resting on the narrow ledge of the
buttress, on the spot from whence Walter's marble
had so unaccountably disappeared, there lay-what
an extraordinary coincidence!-a cherry-stone!
TA. Y 3MERTOUN gazed in amazement at this
unexpected apparition. Could he have mistaken a
cherry-stone for Walter's alley? It seemed im-
possible that he could have done so. lie had only
eaten seven cherries, and he had buried seven cherry-
stones; and yet what other explanation could be
given of so strange an occurrence ? One thing
only was clear to him. IHe inust keep Walter's
marble for the present. If he now produced it,
further inquiries, difficult to answer, would be
made. He was sorry to deprive the little fellow
of his pet plaything, but he could not safely re-
"A penny for your thoughts, Harry!" exclaimed
a merry voice close behind him. How grave you
look. There is nothing the matter, is there ?"
Harry started. Nothing that I know of, Fre-
PRISONERS' BASE. 43
derick:" and as he spoke he turned, as if to move
away from the buttress.
But Seymour was not to be so easily shaken off.
"What, then, were you staring at? A cherry-
stone, I protest! Well, there is nothing that I
can see so very astonishing in a cherry-stone."
"I did not say there was, Seymour; and why
should you suppose there is?" retorted Mertoun,
with an ineffectual attempt to appear unconcerned.
Only because of the manner in which you were
staring at it. What do you think of it, Walter?"
added Seymour, observing the perplexity of the
little boy's face.
"Never mind, Walter," interrupted Harry, we
shall lose all the morning if we wait here. Let us
choose sides for some game:" and, taking Sey-
mour by the arm, he drew him away from the
"But, Harry," said little Walter, who was not
disposed to let the subject drop so easily, do not
go away. I want you to attend to me."
Mertoun hesitated. He was not desirous of
protracting the conversation with Walter, but he
was afraid that he would make some one else his
confidant, if he refused to listen to him. And
besides, to do Harry justice, he was very sorry for
his brother's disappointment, and for the share he
44 TIE CHERRY-STONES.
had had in it. "Go onto Charles," he said to Sey-
mour. I will soon join you." And then, taking
Walter on one side, he inquired what he wanted.
Why, Harry, I want you to advise me how I
am to get my alley again. Do you not think I had
better speak to Dr. Young about it ? Perhaps he
would be able to find out the thief."
"Nonsense, ask Dr. Young about a marble, in-
deed! No! no! hold your tongue; and, as I told
you, I will give you another instead. It is useless
to talk about it, unless indeed you suspect some-
body, which I suppose you do not."
"But I do suspect some one," said Walter, in
a low, confidential tone; "and if you will promise
not to laugh at me, I will tell you."
"Yes, that I will," replied his brother, from
whose thoughts nothing could be further than
laughter at that moment. "Who is it ?"
"Well, then," said Walter, gravely, I think it
"Juno!" exclaimed Mertoun. "You extraor-
dinary child; who ever heard of a dog stealing
S "There, now," said Walter, "you promised not
to laugh at me."
"But you are so droll, child. Who could help
laughing at such a notion ?"
I ____ __
PRISONERS' BASE. 45
Why, brother, I have heard of a magpie steal-
ing spoons and forks, and I do not see why a dog
should not steal marbles."
"Excellent reasoning! And what makes you
suspect poor Juno ?"
"Why, I thought I heard her barking in the
playground early this morning; and just how she
rushed out before me to the very place where I had
left my alley, and put up her paws, as though she
wanted to scramble up there. And only look at
her now, with all the boys round her. Look how
she is scratching up the ground, just as if she had
buried something. Besides, brother," continued
Walter, with a conviction that now, at all events,
he was putting forward an argument which could
I not be answered, "if it was not Juno, who could
it have been ?"
The cogency of this logic, however, was lost upon
Mertoun; for no sooner did he perceive the dog's
employment, than, suddenly breaking off his con-
ference with Walter, lie rushed forward, crying,
S"Juno! Juno! good dog! high for a race."
And away went Juno, obedient to the well-known
summons, to the great disappointment of the group
of boys, who had been watching her proceedings
with the greatest interest.
Oh, why did you call her away, Harry?" said
Warbeck. We were having such fun with her.
I am sure she smelt a rat."
"No, no," said Walter, who at that moment
came up; "it was not a rat; it was my alley. Has
any one seen an alley any where ?"
"Yes, Walter," answered Warbeck, good-na-
turedly, "I have seen a great many alleys in the
course of my life: but what was yours like ?"
Oh, it was a most beautiful alley," said Wal-
ter, with a red ring all round it."
"Well, then," said Warbeck, I think I saw it
not an hour ago; and, what is more, I do not
think it is so very far off, but that it may return
to you again."
As Charles said this, he pointed slily at Mer-
toun's pocket. This again changed all Harry's
plans. To deny his possession of the alley would
now be more unsafe than to avow it. How crooked
and uncertain are the ways of deceit! Truly in-
deed has the poet written,
Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!"
and sadly was Harry beginning to illustrate this
truth by his rapid progress in duplicity.
Is this your marble, Walter ?" said he, taking
it from his pocket, and trying to force a smile as he
held it up to view.
Oh yes, indeed it is; thank you, Harry, thank
you! Where did you find it ?"
"Ah! where, indeed, Walter ? You had better
"Ay, by all means ask Juno," said Warbeck;
but not just now, because we want her to find the
rat for us. Come then, Juno, where's the rat ?"
"This way, Juno," cried Harry, calling her
No, no; here, Juno, here," cried half-a-dozen
Voices, as they saw the dog about to obey Mertoun's
Juno kept running to and fro, first to one party,
and then to the other.
"Here, here, rat, Juno, rat," shouted Seymour,
grubbing with a stick in the hole which the dog
had begun to dig, and which was not above an inch
or two from the spot where the cherry-stones were
buried. Juno immediately thrust her nose into the
hole, and began digging most vigorously. Mertoun
was in despair. Another minute, and his secret
must be discovered. He made a last effort, and in
a low reproachful tone called the dog away. The
dog acknowledged his appeal, and crept submissively
to his feet, nor could any thing again induce her to
His companions in vain endeavoured to persuade
48 THE CHERRY-STONES.
him to give her up. Harry's fears were too strongly
excited to allow of his complying. Get her if
you can," was the only reply he vouchsafed to all
their entreaties, threats, and reproaches.
"Never mind," said Warbeck at last, "let us
leave him and the dog together. He will soon be
tired of her, and want to join us."
This, however, did not prove to be the fact. The
whole of that playtime our hero was constant in his
attentions to Juno. It seemed as if he had become
her slave. He followed her wherever she went,
and was afraid to leave her for a single moment,
lest she should betray the spot where the cherry-
stones were concealed. It was a wearisome and
degrading task, and never had he looked forward
so anxiously to the hour of play as he now did tb
the ringing of the school-bell.
His companions kept to their resolution of
leaving him to Juno's society, and he had only one
interruption during the remainder of the playhour.
Walter had been for some time amusing himself
with alternately aiming the cherry-stone at the
marble, and the marble at the cherry-stone. He
was a most thoroughly honest, simple-hearted,
little boy, and, in the middle of his solitary game,
the thought suddenly struck him that the cherry-
stone did not belong to him. Instantly, he ran
to his brother and exclaimed, "Brother, I have
brought you back your cherry-stone; will you give
it to me if you do not want it yourself?"
"My cherry-stone! you little plague, what do
you mean by calling it mine? what have I to do
"Why, you know, I have got my alley back
again, so it cannot be mine; but will you give it
"Oh, yes ;-or stay, give it to me, and I will crack
it for you;" and, as he spoke, he stamped upon
and crushed it. "There, Walter, now you can
pick the kernel out and eat it."
"But I did not want the kernel," said Walter,
the tears rising in his eyes; "I wanted to play
marbles with it."
"Foolish boy! play marbles with a cherry-stone!
I will give you one of my best alleys in its place."
Will you, indeed ?" said Walter.
Yes; but, remember, it is upon one condition;
that you do not say a word about the cherry-stone
until the end of the half-year."
Not to say the word cherry-stone," responded
Walter, doubtfully, until the end of the half-year."
"Yes; perhaps that will be the safest way. You
are not to say the word cherry-stone until the end
of the half-year."
But why not ? Is it a naughty word, brother
Never mind why not; but if you will promise,
you shall have the marble."
I will promise then," said Walter.
Here, then, Walter," said Mertoun, producing
an alley from his bag, "there it is for you; but,
remember, if you say the word cherry-stone, I shall
take it away again."
Walter scampered off with his newly-acquired
treasure. lie did not understand clearly what had
occurred, but he remembered that he was but six
years old, and could not, therefore, be expected to
understand every thing; and, moreover, as he had
recovered his own alley, and gained another besides,
he did not see any great cause for inquiring into
the circumstances. He settled in his own mind,
first, that his brother was very clever to find his
alley; secondly, that he was very kind to give him
another; and thirdly, that he would have a good
game with his two marbles now he had got them.
This last resolution, however, was unhappily cut
prematurely short by the sound of the school-bell, i
which at once broke off the boys' game, and relieved
Mertoun from his embarrassing occupation of
watching Juno's movements.
School-time passed away much as usual, the only
remarkable thing being that Mertoun's lessons had
never been so ill done before. This was, in truth,
not surprising. IIe was wholly unable to fix his
attention on his books. The narrow escapes he had
had of detection,-the scratch on his foot,-the
chance question of Warbeck,--his brother's marble,
-and Juno's rat-hunt,-all seemed to have con-
spired to betray his guilt. Nor were these his
most unpleasant recollections. The various sub-
terfuges and evasions by which he had contrived
for the time to divert suspicion were yet more
distasteful; and he looked forward to the three
days which must yet pass before the end of the
half-year with a feeling of weariness and disgust he
had never known before.
Meanwhile, his companions began to wonder at
the change which had come over him. His refusal,
in the morning, to let Juno hunt for the rat had
greatly diminished the favour with which lie was
usually regarded, and his blunders formed the
subject of many ill-natured remarks. "Such strange
mistakes as he made in construing the Virgil,"
said one. And two false quantities," cried another.
And three gross blunders in his ciphering," added
a third. Mr. Powell said they would have been
disgraceful to his brother Walter," said a fourth.
Talk of his getting two prizes indeed," said Sharpe,
52 THE CIIERRY-STONES.
"I shall be very much surprised if he gets one."
:Warbeck alone remained faithful to his friend. He
maintained that Harry was probably unwell, and
that the exertions he had undergone on the previous
afternoon were the cause of his depression; besides
which, every body was liable to do worse at some
times than at others; and as for the prizes, it was
absurd to suppose that the marks of two days
could change the marks of a whole half-year.
The prizes at Charlton School, it should be
remarked, were given to the boys who had been
most diligent during the whole half-year, and the
most successful in the examination at its close.
A book was kept, in which the marks obtained by
each boy, for every lesson throughout the half-year,
were registered. To these were added the marks
gained in the half-yearly examination, which always
took place on the day before the boys went home;
and whoever was then found to have the greatest
number, received the prize, unless, as has been
already remarked, some great act of disobedience,
especially an act of dishonesty, should deprive him
of it, which it always did, however superior he
might have proved himself in talent or industry.
To prevent constant rivalry, Dr. Young never per-
mitted the marks to be added up until the day on
which the prizes were awarded. There were always,
PRISONERS' BASE. 53
however, conjectures among the boys as to whose
names stood highest on the list; nor were they
often far wrong in their conclusions. In the
present half-year, Henry Mertoun was the favourite,
both for the classical and ciphering prizes; but the
result was considered to be very uncertain; Charles
Warbeck in classics, and Edward Sharpe in cipher-
ing, were supposed to be running him very close.
The decision of the following Friday, therefore, was
looked forward to with much interest, and hence
Mertoun's failures had attracted unusual attention.
But the playtime was too precious to be wasted
in speculations on any subject. All called out for
play. Many games were suggested and abandoned;
and at last Warbeck proposed a renewal of the
cricket match of yesterday, but there were many
dissentient voices. It would be so tiresome," said
West, again to lose the ball in the orchard. Do
not you think so, Harry ?" he added, addressing
our hero, who at that instant made his appearance
in the playground.
Well, and if we do," said Sharpe, Harry can
get over the wall and fetch it for us. Cannot you,
There was nothing at all strange in this question,
but such is the nature of guilt, that it made Harry
feel very uncomfortable, especially when he remem-
bered his conversation with Sharpe at the supper-
table. lie hastily answered, that he thought any
thing was better than cricket; and the majority
appearing to be of his opinion, the idea was aban-
Well, at any rate," said Seymour, let us do
something. What do you all say to a game at
prisoners' base ?"
"I have no objection," said Warbeck, looking
doubtfully at Mertoun. "The only thing is, whe-
ther it may not hurt your foot, Harry." This was
suggested most good-naturedly, for Charles had
observed, or at least fuicied he had observed, that
his friend was still a little lame. Mertoun, how-
ever, was greatly annoyed at the remark. He had
not forgotten the conversation before breakfast,
and chose to fancy Warbeck was still harping on
his unwillingness to take off his shoe. He de-
clared, with much vehemence, that he was never
less lame in his life, and that there was no game
he preferred to prisoners' base.
Hurmrah, then," shouted Seymour, we are una-
nimous at last. Warbeck and Mertoun choose
sides; and Warbeck must have first choice, because
Mertoun was never less lame in his life, and so I
suppose he will beat us all."
This sally produced a laugh, in which all but
Harry joined. The boys tossed up for the choice.
The sides were chosen, and the game commenced
with much spirit.
Now, notwithstanding Mertoun's angry decla-
ration to the contrary, his shoe was very far from
comfortable. He had continually felt during the
day the same inconvenience which had troubled
him in the morning. lie had been afraid to take
off his shoe at that time, because Warbeck would
have seen the state of his stocking; and, although
during school-time he had abundant opportunities
of doing so, without the slightest risk, guilt is ever
so suspicious, that he always fancied some one was
watching him, so that the stone still continued in
his shoe when the game at prisoners' base was
proposed. So long as he remained quiet, it caused
him but little annoyance; but no sooner did he
begin to exert himself in running, than it became
very troublesome, and it was only by a painful
effort that he more than once escaped being taken
At length, as he grew warm with the excite-
ment of the game, he began to be ashamed of his
former fears. How absurd," thought he, to keep
this abominable stone in my shoe all day! as if
any boy would observe whether my stockings are
dirty or clean; or, if they do, as if they could pos-
56 THE CHERRY-STONES.
sibly guess the cause. I will have it out now, at
all events." And down he sat on a bench close
at hand, and began untying his shoe.
"What are you at now ?" said Markland, one
of the boys on his side. It is our turn to chal-
lenge. Go out and challenge Warbeck. Seymour
and I will be after him the moment he has crossed
the line; and if we catch him, the game will be
"In one minute, George," said Mertoun. "I
want to get the gravel out of my shoe, and then I
shall be ready for you." How strange a thing is
deceit! Harry well knew that it was a stone of
some kind that was annoying him; and yet, with-
out any definite reason, he had called it gravel.
He was becoming accustomed to avoid speaking
the exact truth.
There was a pause in the game. Let me help
you, Harry," said Walter, running up from the
corner where he had been watching the players.
Thank you, Walter, it is done," said Harry.
N' ow let us see what it is that has been giving
me this annoyance all day." As he spoke, he put
his hand into the shoe, and, to his surprise and
dismay, produced-a cherry-stone!
Oh, brother," exclaimed Walter, why, if there
is not the"-and then suddenly recollecting his
PRISONERS' BASE. 57
Promise, he put his hand to his mouth, and stood
gazing in silent astonishment at the contents of
his brother's shoe. It did not occur to the little
fellow that there were many cherry-stones in the
I world. He fancied that the one he saw before
him must be the identical cherry-stone which he
had seen on the buttress in the morning, and
which, having been crushed to pieces by his bro-
ther, had, in revenge, found its way into his shoe.
Instinctively he put his hand into his pocket, and
was not a little comforted to find that both his
marbles were safe, notwithstanding the mysterious
re-appearance of the cherry-stone.
"Hallo!" said Seymour, coming up at this june-
ture, and perceiving the two brothers gazing at the
stone which Harry still held in his hand, "what
have we here? Another cherry-stone, I declare.
Why, where did this come from ?"
"It came out of his shoe; it did, indeed," said
Walter, slowly, thinking it too wonderful an occur-
rence to be easily credited.
"Out of his shoe! I suppose, then, that is
what you have been complaining of, Harry ? What
on earth could induce you to keep a cherry-stone
in your shoe all day ?"
"I did not know what it was," replied Mertoun,
in great confusion.
"Well, at all events it is out now," interposed
Markland, impatiently, so I suppose we may go
on with the game."
The delay that this incident had caused attracted
the attention of the boys on the other side. What
is the matter, George?" called out West, who,
being on Warbeck's side, was not allowed by the
rules of the game to come to the spot where Mark-
land and Seymour were standing.
"What is it, Walter?" said Sharpe, beckoning
to the little boy to come to him.
"I promised not to tell," was the reply.
"Nonsense, child; why you have had no time to
"Ah! but I promised this morning not to say
"What word do you mean ? I do not under-
stand you," said Sharpe, growing more and more
Ah! I see you want me to let it out, but I am
too cunning for that," said the child, pursing up
his lips as he spoke, as though he were afraid that
the secret would escape in spite of him; and, nod-
ding his head, retreated to his corner, where he
sat down on his stool, and waited to see the game
"Markland," cried Sharpe, whose curiosity was
a good deal excited by Walter's strange reserve,
"what on earth has Mertoun found that there is
such a mystery about ?"
"Nothing but a cherry-stone," was the reply;
"and there is no mystery at all about it that I
"Mystery, or no mystery, here it goes," said
Harry, and as he spoke he flung it from him, with
a jerk that sent it over the wall, far into the
middle of the orchard. As he did this, his eye, for
a moment, caught that of Sharpe. There was no
mistaking its expression. It was clear that some
suspicion had crossed his mind. Our hero was
more than ever alarmed. All he could do, how-
ever, was to get on his shoe as quickly as possible,
and divert attention by resuming the game. He
overheard Sharpe say, in a low tone, to Warbeck,
" Charles, where do you think that cherry-stone
came from ?"
"Upon my word," replied Charles, "I do not
know, any more than where it is gone to; and
what is more, I do not care. But look, there is
Mertoun going to challenge us. Two to one he
Scarcely had these words been spoken, when
Harry shouted Charles Warbeck," at the top of
his voice. Away ran the boys, and the moment
60 THE CHERRT-STOES.
the line had been passed, away darted Seymour and
Markland in pursuit. Every thing depended on
the challenger being able to dodge round, before he
reached the end of the playground. It was a
manemuvre Harry was famous for executing with
success: but on this occasion he ran without any
of his usual animation; and the very first feint he
made, he was touched and made prisoner by War-
beck. His second and third in command, finding
their scheme frustrated, endeavoured to provide for
their own safety, but in vain. They also were made
I captive, and lodged with their leader in durance
vile, at the other end of the playground; and
Mertoun's side having thus lost their three best
runners, their defeat followed as a matter of course.
Fresh sides were chosen, and another and another
game played; but always with the same result.
SMertoun always lost. At last, hot and tired, and
more than half out of temper, from his repeated
defeats, he begged them to choose sides anew, and
to continue the game without him. Warbeck im-
mediately offered to leave off also, and to come
and sit with him. But to this arrangement Harry
would by no means agree. He fancied that
Charles wanted to ply him with more questions
about the cherry-stone: though nothing could
in reality be further from his friend's thoughts';
t .. ^ .- ___ ^ -
PRISONERS' BASE. 61
and he declared that he greatly preferred being
So he sat down by himself sadly enough in the
corner of the playground, while his favourite Juno
came and rested her large black head on his lap,
as though she understood and sympathized in all
his troubles. It was very strange, he reflected,
that it should have been a cherry-stone that had
troubled him all day; that a cherry-stone should
have spoiled his morning's amusement; and that
just as he was beginning to recover his spirits, a
second cherry-stone should have appeared, and
again destroyed his pleasure. Some connexion
they must have with his night's adventure. "I
remember I was very hurried and confused," he
said to himself, "and it is not surprising; and
yet I feel almost certain that I buried all the
stones: well, I was mistaken, and there is an end
of it." Then, again, he was vexed to be obliged to
acknowledge to himself, that the very measures he
had taken to ensure concealment, had had the
effect of bringing him to the verge of detection.
Seymour's surprise at the appearance of the cherry-
stone was only occasioned by his having kept it in
his shoe all day; and the promise he had exacted
of Walter in the morning, was the principal cause
of Edward Sharpe's suspicions. But this is always
the case with guilt; its own restlessness is its most
Such were Harry Mertoun's sorrowful reflections,
as he sat in the corner of the playground, with
nobody but Juno for his companion. The merry
shouts of his schoolfellows, who were still engaged
in their game, served only to deepen his depression.
He was vexed with himself, and thoroughly un-
happy. But, alas! his sorrow had nothing of real
repentance in it. He would have given much to
undo what he had done; but he felt even less
inclination than before to take the only course his
conscience approved. He clung to the hope that
all would yet go well; and that, by to-morrow, he
should have forgotten all about the matter: above
all, he trusted that no more cherry-stones would
make their appearance. In order to secure this,
as much as possible, he felt carefully in all his
pockets, and satisfied himself, that now, at least,
there were none concealed about his person.
This gave him some comfort, and when he joined
his schoolfellows in the supper-room, he had re-
covered his composure, and chatted and laughed
with them as usual. Nay, their sprightly con-
versation seemed to have banished all his dis-
quietude; and as Dr. Young paused at the door of
the school-room, when he went in to read prayers,
he heard his voice the loudest and the merriest of
all. No one, who looked at his clear open coun-
tenance, or listened to his cheerful laugh, could
have believed he was the same boy who, not an
hour before, was sitting in his solitary corner,
weighed down by a sense of unrepented sin, the
burden of which he had only cast aside for a while.
Truly it is a mystery, that strange privilege which
boyhood alone seems to possess, of being at once
sinful and light-hearted. It is, as it were, the
mingling of the pure and the impure in the same
cup, without the whole draught becoming polluted.
In after years, guilt has its moments of wild and
feverish delight; but boys, and boys alone, can sin,
and be sorry for a while, and then fling aside all
thought of it, and feel as though they had never
sinned at all. In infancy, the consciousness of
sin is a thing unknown. In manhood, it presses on
the heart like an ever-present burden: but in boy-
hood, it is like an April cloud which flits over the
landscape, darkening it for a while, and then
passing away altogether, and leaving it as bright as
ever. Of the many mysteries of boyhood, this is,
perhaps, the most inscrutable.
Dr. Young looked more attentively than usual at
Mertoun when prayers were over, and thought
that, notwithstanding his high spirits, he was paler
64 THE CIIEERRY-STONES.
than was his wont. "Harry," he said, "I am
afraid you are a little unwell. Unless you are quite
recovered in the morning, you had better not get
up, and Mrs. Young will send you some tea. Good
night, boys. Go up quietly to bed, and do not
chatter and make a noise in Mertoun's room,
as you are sometimes apt to do, as I wish Harry
to get as sound a night's rest as possible."
THE TWO DREAMS.
DR. YoUrG's kindness had renewed all Mertoun's
feelings of remorse. He walked slowly up stairs,
reflecting mournfully how little he had deserved it.
The only thought which gave him comfort was that
the long dreary day was ended, and that he might
forget his troubles in sleep. Let me have a good
night's rest," thought he, "and I shall be a different
being; and then I will to-morrow resolve upon the
course it will be most prudent for me to take."
Endeavouring thus to quiet his conscience by post-
poning all reflection, he undressed himself, and
stepped into bed.
But the night began with an evil omen. His
head had scarcely touched his pillow, before he
bounded out again with a cry of astonishment that
startled and almost frightened his companions.
"What is it, Harry ?" "Is it a pin ? or a needle P
GG T1II CIIUERRY-STIU-ES.
or a rat?" cried two or three voices at once.
" Oh!" exclaimed Mertoun, throwing back the
bed-clothes as he spoke, what shall I do ? there
is a cherry-stone in the middle of my bed."
The tone in which these words were uttered
appeared so ludicrously disproportioned to the
cause which had elicited them, that they pro-
voked a smile even from the quiet Warbeck, while
the more mercurial spirits received them with
shouts of laughter. Seymour, in particular, who
had come into the room to ask some question of
Warbeck, (for he himself did not sleep in Mer-
toun's room,) seemed as if he never would cease
laughing. Walter alone sympathized in his bro-
ther's alarm. He drew cautiously near the bed,
eyeing the cherry-stone with an air of suspicion,
as though he expected it to fly at him. I beg
your pardon, Harry," said Seymour, getting up
from the bed, upon which he had flung himself in
his paroxysm of laughter: "I really beg your
pardon; but you look as if you had seen a ghost ?
Had it been a cherry-pie, now," he continued,
looking round him, it would have been a different
matter; but being a cherry-stone, I would recom-
mend you to throw it out of the window."
Harry had by this time recovered his self-pos-
session. "Of course," said he, as he threw the
THE TWO DREAMS. 67
cherry-stone into a small pond which lay in the
garden below, of course there is no difficulty in
getting rid of a cherry-stone; but it was very
careless in Sally to leave it in the bed. You know,
Sit might have been a needle."
"Nay," rejoined Seymour, affecting to under-
stand his words literally; it might in time have
been a tree, but certainly not a needle."
"Nonsense, Seymour!" interposed Warbeck;
"it is excessively disagreeable to find things left in
one's bed; and if I were Harry, I would complain
to Dr. Young."
"Complain to Dr. Young!" exclaimed Mertoun,
his suspicions again aroused at this speech; "I
shall certainly not trouble him about such a trifle."
"A trifle!" remarked Sharpe, who had hitherto
sat perfectly quiet, but keenly observing what was
passing; a trifle, you call it ? You did not seem
to consider it a trifle just now, I think."
Mertoun made no reply. Silence was his best
mode of escape from the awkward dilemma into
which his consciousness of guilt had led him.
Seymour would have pursued the subject, but
Warbeck entreated him to let it drop, reminding
him that Dr. Young had ordered them to be quiet,
in order that Mertoun's repose might not be dis-
turbed, and hinting at the same time that if the
68 THE C1ERRltY-STO NES.
Doctor should hear any noise, and come in conse-
quence up stairs, he would probably select Seymour
for punishment, because he was out of his own room.
"With all my heart, Charles," said Seymour,
in answer to this appeal; I only hope our friend
here will not dream of a cherry-stone, or he will
certainly disturb the whole house."
This observation would, under ordinary circum-
stances, have led to fresh skirmishing, but Mertoun
was resolved to be upon his guard. No further
remark therefore was made; Seymour soon after-
wards took his departure; and Harry, overcome
by the fatigues of the last night, and the troubles
of the day, quickly fell asleep.
But sleep rarely brings rest to a troubled con-
science. And so it proved in the present instance.
His imagination still continued to be engrossed
by the same subject which had occupied his waking
hours; only that his present fancies were more
wild and fantastic than those which had haunted
him through the day. He dreamed that he stood
alone in a large and beautiful garden. The air was
fragrant with the rarest flowers, and every variety
of fruit grew in rich abundance around. Imme-
diately before him rose a cherry-tree, whose
enormous branches, far exceeding in size any he
had ever seen, were loaded with ripe and delicious
THE TWO DREAMS. 69
fruit. At his feet lay his favourite Juno; her eyes
gazing intently on the tree, and sparkling with the
brightness of diamonds. As he eyed the tempting
clusters, which the great height of the tree placed
far above his reach, he thought that the lofty stem
suddenly bent towards him, till the loaded branches
almost touched the ground. He stretched out his
hand, and plucked a cherry, and he had no sooner
done so than the tree sprang back again to its
former position. Seven times was this repeated.
Again and again the tall trunk stooped till the
branches came within his reach, and each time did
he gather a cherry from the rich store it offered to
his choice. But as the tree rose erect for the
seventh time, a marvellous change came over the
face of things. A chill wintry blast swept through
the sky; and in an instant every trace of life and
beauty had passed away from the garden. The
flowers fell withered from their stalks: the foliage
vanished from the trees, only a few sere and yellow
leaves remained clinging to the naked branches.
It was a scene of bleak and dreary winter; but the
strange phantasy of a dream added features which
no winter landscape ever presented. As he cast
his eyes upwards to the cherry-tree, he perceived
that the fruit with which the boughs had been
thickly covered had all vanished, but the stones
70 THE CHERRY-STONES.
still remained, and high and wide the bare, rugged
branches were studded with clusters of cherry-
stones. He looked downwards, and saw that the
seven cherries he held in his hand had shared the
same fate, and nothing but seven stones met his
view; and instead of his favourite Juno, he saw
only the skeleton of a dog, with its fiery eyes still
fixed upon the tree. As he stood, horror-stricken
and unable to withdraw his eyes from this appalling
sight, the violence of the wind increased. First,
the cherry-stones were dislodged from the branches,
and fell thick as hail in all directions around him.
Presently the branches themselves were torn off by
its fury, and whirled like withered leaves into the
air, leaving the black and crooked trunk alone
standing. As Harry continued to gaze, in fear and
wonder, at this strange spectacle, the trunk itself
seemed suddenly to be endued with life, and to
twist and writhe as though it had become a serpent.
Harry made a feeble attempt at flight, but his feet
were rooted to the ground. Moving slowly towards
him, it wound its huge length round his body,
coil above coil, till he appeared to be completely
encircled in its folds. The horror of his situation
at length broke the spell that seemed to paralyze
his limbs, and with a violent effort to disengage
himself from the cherry-tree, he awoke.
THE TWO DREAMS. 71
It was some time before he could persuade him-
self that the frightful scene he had just gone
through was wholly imaginary. The perspiration
stood thick on his forehead, and his frame felt
bruised and benumbed as though only just
released from the grasp of the cherry-tree. He
scarcely dared to open his eyes, lest they should
encounter its hideous writhings, or light upon the
spectral figure of the skeleton dog. But the boy's
mind and body were alike weary. Nature claimed
her privilege in spite of his terror, and he had not
fully recovered from its effects before he again fell
His second dream also took the shape and colour
of his waking fears. He imagined it was the
morning on which the school was to break up, and
that the boys were assembled to receive the prizes.
But with the wild inconsistency of a dream, the
scene was not laid in the Charlton school-room, but
in a wide open plain, extending so far in every
direction that the eye vainly endeavoured to discover
its limit. Immense multitudes, reaching to the
utmost verge of the horizon, stood round, awaiting
the result, and even horses and dogs appeared to
share in the general excitement. The table at
which Dr. Young was seated with the prizes spread
out before him was placed in the centre, and a
72 THE CIERRY-STONES.
wide space on every side of it was left entirely
clear. As Harry looked on, he was struck with the
extraordinary distinctness with which the shadows
were traced on the ground. There was the shadow
of Dr. Young; the shadow of the table; the shadow
of each separate book on it; the shadows of every
one of his schoolfellows, as clearly and plainly
recognizable from one another as the substances to
which they belonged. His wonder at this pheno-
menon was interrupted by a summons from the
head master to come and receive the first prize.
It was a proud thing, he thought, to be singled out
for distinction in the face of that vast assembly, and
he moved forward from the throng of boys, elated
with his success; but he had not advanced many
steps, when a shout arose from behind, "Look at
his shadow! look at his shadow!" He cast his
eyes instinctively downwards, and, to his horror,
beheld the outline of a cherry-tree traced behind
him on the grass. There was the stem, the
branches, and the fruit, rudely formed indeed, but
still plainly distinguishable. It had something
human, too, in its shape, and even bore a grotesque
resemblance to himself. There could be no doubt
it was his own shadow. A cry of derision burst
from the assembled multitude. Harry heard it,
and it added the finishing stroke to his shame and
THE TWO DREAMS.
confusion. Away he rushed across the plain with
the rapidity it seemed of the wind; and as he did
so, he could hear the shouts of the multitude
hurrying after him in hot pursuit. The yelping of
dogs, and the clattering of horses' feet were distinctly
audible amid the uproar. On he darted, climbing
hills, leaping down precipices, dashing through
torrents, in the vain hope of shaking off his hateful
attendants. Nearer and nearer came the pursuers,
louder and louder grew the tumult in his rear; at
length, just as they were on the very point of
seizing him, he again awoke.
As he opened his eyes he became sensible that
the sounds which had disturbed his sleep were not
wholly imaginary. The galloping of the horses,
and the yelpings of the dogs, indeed, were no
longer heard; but their place was supplied by the
clamour of the six o'clock bell, whose rusty throat
was sending forth its discordant summons. It is
probable that the clamour which it made had found
its way into Harry's sleeping senses, and shaped
itself into the singular termination of his dream.
Mertoun felt grateful to it, tired and unrefreshed as
he was, for delivering him from the unnatural shadow
under which he had been so painfully labouring.
"Ah! I was afraid that noisy bell would wake
you," said Warbeck.
74 TIE CHERRY-STOXES.
"And why should you be afraid of that, Charles?"
said our hero, endeavouring to rally; "you would
not wish me to get into another scrape for missing
No," replied Charles; "but the Doctor said you
had better lie in bed this morning; and unless you
are to get up, you know it is as well not to have
your rest disturbed."
"You mistake, Charles," said Harry. Dr.Young
only gave me permission to lie in bed if I felt
unwell, but I am all right this morning;" and
as he spoke he left his bed and began to dress.
But notwithstanding his assumed cheerfulness,
it was evident he was still suffering from indis-
"You had really better remain in bed, Harry,"
said Warbeck; "your eyes are as heavy as lead,
and you may make yourself seriously ill if you
persist in getting up now."
"Ay, do lie in bed, brother," said Walter, and
make yourself quite well by to-morrow. You know
to-morrow is your birth-day, and mamma will cer-
tainly send us a hamper. And if you are ill you
will not be able to enjoy it."
By all means lie in bed," exclaimed Sharpe, on
whose mind visions of cake and wine 'yet to be'
had produced considerable impression, "and take
THE TWO DREAMS.
care of yourself; you must mind and be well to-
morrow, of all days in the year."
All the boys joined in the same request, and
Harry at last allowed himself to be persuaded. He
did, indeed, feel unwell. His head seemed dizzy
and confused, and his whole frame ached with
weariness. Nor was his illness much to be won-
dered at, considering his exposure to the night air
without his hat, and the protracted anxiety of the
last twenty-four hours.
The boys proceeded with their toilet with that
celerity which is supposed to belong to schoolboys
and the canine genus only, and Mertoun was
soon the sole occupant of the room. Left to
his solitary thoughts, he began to meditate upon
his dreams. He was no coward, nor was he
naturally inclined to be superstitious, but he could
not divest his mind of a vague apprehension
that they foreboded some misfortune, which
the stolen cherries were in some way or other
to bring upon him. He knew that both dreams
might be accounted for without supposing any
thing supernatural. Every circumstance might be
referred to something which had occurred during
the day, and which had taken a painful hold on his
memory. But still he felt an indefinite alarm,
which he tried in vain to shake off. It was so
70 THE CHERYT-STONES.
singular that the tree should have bent itself ex-
actly seven times, and that when the seventh
cherry was gathered, every thing should so sud-
denly become bleak and miserable. And then the
shower of cherry-stones, and the stem of the tree
turning itself into a snake, and twisting itself
round him-did it not seem as though the sin he
had committed was to go on haunting him in-
cessantly, until it brought some terrible punish-
ment upon him? And as for the second dream,
its meaning was still more distinct and alarming.
Was the story of the plundered cherry-tree,
indeed, to interpose between him and the reward
of his labours ? was it to cling to him for ever ? and
would all efforts to shake off the disgrace be vain ?
" Nonsense," at last, said he, after he had pondered
over these ideas until he had worked himself into a
fever of apprehension. "What a goose I am! It is
a dream, and that is all. I have been thinking
about cherry-stones all day, and it cannot be sur-
prising if I dream of them at night; and that is the
beginning and the ending of the whole matter."
His reflections were interrupted by the opening
of the door, and his friend Warbeck appeared with
the tray containing the tea and dry toast, which
Dr. Young had sent up for his breakfast.
Warbeck arranged the tray according to his
THE TWO DREAMS.
friend's directions, and then fetched a trunk, and
seated himself on it by the bed side.
I hope you will find it sweet enough," observed
he, after a short silence; "I saw no less than three
lumps of sugar put into it."
"That was all right," returned Mertoun, whose
predilection for sweet things we have already
remarked upon, "tea can hardly be too sweet to
Ah! so said your brother Walter; and you
may thank him for your extra allowance. He per-
suaded Mrs. Young to let him sweeten the tea
according to his own fancy. He is a nice little
fellow, Harry. Every body likes him. Even
Dr. Young seemed taken with his zeal in your
behalf, and helped him to pick out the best
lumps; but he would not nevertheless yield to
his request, and allow him to bring up the tray
"Why should Walter," said Mertoun, whose
suspicions the least thing was sufficient to arouse,
"be so anxious to come?"
"Why, the wish was natural enough, surely;
and besides, I dare say he wished to be the first to
tell you the news of the morning. Come now,"
pursued Warbeck, seeing that his companion's
curiosity was a good deal excited, "what is the
78 THE CHERRY-STONES.
news ? I will give you three guesses, and lay you
a wager you do not hit upon it."
"I should never guess, Charles. I have no
talents for guessing."
Come, I will give you a hint then. What the
Doctor told us may, perhaps, account for the
cherry-stone found in your bed last night."
"Account for the cherry-stone found in my bed
last night! What can you mean, Charles ?" said
"Try and guess." Harry shook his head im-
"Must I give you another hint ? It had some-
thing to do with Squire Ellison, then. Do not
start in that way, or you will certainly upset the
tray. It has something to do with Squire Ellison,
I say. Now can you guess ?"
"I have not the slightest idea of your meaning,
Warbeck," said Harry, turning pale.
"Why, how dull you are this morning, Harry!
Come now, it has something to do with Squire
Ellison's orchard; with Squire Ellison's cherry-
tree. Now, surely, you cannot help guessing
"I tell you I cannot guess it," cried Mertoun,
fretfully. "I wish you would not weary me in
this way, Charles. If you have any thing to tell
THE TWO DREAMS. 79
me, tell it to me at once. I am tired of repeating
that I cannot guess it."
The fact was, that, prompted by the stings of
conscience, Harry was satisfied in his own mind
that Squire Ellison's gardener had discovered, from
the foot-marks in the orchard, that some one from
Dr. Young's had been stealing cherries, and that a
complaint had in consequence been sent to the
head master. Mertoun also fancied that Charles
Warbeck, either having been commissioned by the
Doctor to do so, or, in order to satisfy his own
curiosity, was putting all these questions to him
in order to discover if he was implicated in the
business, and he therefore resolved to persist to
the last in asserting his ignorance of the transac-
Stion. On the other hand, Charles, utterly unsus-
picious of what was passing in his friend's mind,
and having a conscience at peace with itself, con-
tinued merrily to ply him with fresh hints.
"Come, Harry," he said, "this is too absurd.
When I tell you it was a message from Squire
Ellison, and that it had something to do with his
cherry-tree, you must be able to guess it. Why
even little Walter would have guessed it in half
"But I am not little Walter," said Mertoun,
still more crossly than before: "and I do not know
80 THE CHERRY-STONES.
what right you have to suspect me of knowing
more about it than any one else."
"Suspect, Harry! what a strange word! I do
not suspect you of any thing. You are, surely,
taking this trifling matter in a very odd way."
"Are you going to tell me, or are you not ?"
"Are you going to upset that cup of tea into
my lap, or are you not said Charles, laughing
good-humouredly at his friend's vehemence. "Be-
cause if you kick about in that way, you certainly
"It is you, Warbeck, who make me restless,"
retorted Mertoun; "and I must say I think it is
very ill-natured of you to persist in teasing me,
when you know I am ill."
"Indeed, Harry, I did not mean to tease you,
and I am sorry I have done so. It was thought-
less of me, certainly, but really I did not intend to
annoy you; and after all, this news is hardly
worth repeating. It is only that the Doctor in-
formed us, after school this morning, that Squire
Ellison had, last evening, sent the boys a large
basket of cherries, and that we are to have cherry-
pie for dinner to-day. That is the piece of news,
Harry, I had to tell you; and that is all the news
There is, so far as I know."
HAnRR MEHTOTI breathed more freely after re-
ceiving a communication so different from what he
had anticipated. "Is that all?" said he. "It really
was not worth the mystery you made about it."
I made no mystery, Harry. The mystery was
made by yourself."
Perhaps so; but," said he, hesitatingly, "you
said it might-it might account for the cherry-
stone in my bed last night."
Why, Sally might, you know, have filched a
few cherries from the basket, and dropped one of
the stones whilst she was making your bed. It
would be odd enough if she were to be found out
by such an accident, would it not ?"
"It would indeed," said Mertoun: and then,
ashamed of allowing suspicion to rest upon a per-
son whom he knew to be entirely innocent, he
82 THE CHERRY-STONES.
added, quickly, "but it is very unlikely that it
happened in that way. Sally is a most honest
girl. I have often left odd halfpence about, and
have never lost any thing."
Far be it from me to say otherwise," said
Warbeck; and I did not mean seriously to sus-
pect her. What I said was only in joke. Not
but that many persons who would shrink from the
thought of stealing money would not hesitate to
steal fruit, though of course, the one act is as
dishonest as the other."
My readers will not wonder that Mertoun had
no disposition to argue this question. He flushed
crimson as he heard his companion's chance ob-
servation; and, to hide his confusion, took up the
teaspoon, and began violently stirring his tea, an
occupation which he had desisted from in his
anxiety respecting Warbeck's secret.
"How very odd it is," he exclaimed, "that
this lump of sugar will not dissolve. I have
been stirring it almost ever since you came into
the room, and I cannot make any impression
"Take care! take care!" exclaimed Warbeck, as
he saw the tea circling round, and running over
the edge of the cup. If you stir it at that rate
you will upset it. Surely sugar must have melted
THE QUARREL. 83
long before this. Take it out, and see what it is.
It cannot be a lump of sugar I am certain."
Will you be convinced if you see it with your
own eyes ?" replied Harry, peevishly, fishing with
his teaspoon for the refractory lump. "Look
here," he said, as he lifted the spoon out of the
cup, "look, and satisfy yourself." But he had
scarcely spoken these words, when he gave a start,
so violent as effectually to destroy the already tot-
tering equilibrium of the tray. The teacup was
upset, and the whole contents discharged directly
into Warbeck's lap. Mertoun scarcely observed
the accident. His eyes were fixed on the spoon.
Instead of a lump of sugar, he had brought to light
"Warbeck!" he exclaimed, angrily, "you put
that cherry-stone into my tea."
"Indeed," said Warbeck, starting up, and has-
tily wiping his clothes, "I did not; but it was
you, Harry, who put that tea into my lap."
"I am glad of it," retorted Mertoun; "it served
you right; and I wish it had been scalding hot."
"Upon my word, Mertoun, this is a little
Stood bad. I get a ducking in return for bringing
you up your breakfast; and then am told that it
serves me right."
"Why then did you put that cherry-stone into
. . .. . . .. .
84 THE CHERRY-STONES.
my tea ? It was as likely as not to have choked
me. I must say I think you are carrying a joke a
great deal too far."
"I have already told you," said Warbeck, tem-
perately, "that I did not put it into your cup, and
I do not know who did. Be reasonable, Harry,
and think what possible object I could have in
Mertoun was silenced but not convinced. His
anger was not in the least abated; but he had no
pretext for disbelieving Charles's assertion.
"But," said Warbeck, after a short silence,
"your breakfast is quite spoiled by this unlucky
upset. Let me go down stairs and try to get
some more for you ?"
"No, I thank you," replied Mertoun, not over
graciously; I have had enough of it already."
"Enough! why you have scarcely tasted it,
I wish you would not persist in contradicting
every word I say, Warbeck," rejoined Mertoun,
with still greater irritation in his tone. "I do
not want any more. Will that satisfy you ? If it
will not, go and tell Dr. Young all about it."
"Well, and if I did, I do not see that there is
any thing to make him angry, especially as the
cup and saucer are not broken."
THE QUARREL. 85
Go then to him, by all means. You can make
a good story out of the cherry-stone. You can
say that it very nearly choked me. It might have
done so, you know, if it did not."
Really, Mertoun, I did not come here to quar-
rel with you, but you seem determined to fasten a
quarrel upon me."
"You have done nothing but tease me ever
since you came into the room."
"In that case I had better go away again, and
leave you and your cherry-stone together."
"The sooner the better," retorted Mertoun.
Warbeck walked slowly to the door. He paused
a moment, with his hand on the lock, hoping that
his friend would ask him to return. But Mertoun
only turned impatiently in his bed, and he left
As the door closed upon him, however, Harry
was almost inclined to burst into tears again. He
felt more wretched than ever. He had quarrelled
with his best friend. During all the years they
had been at Charlton together they had never
parted in unkindness until now, nor exchanged
such angry words as had passed between them that
i morning. And, what was worse, conscience told
him that the blame of the quarrel rested entirely
with him. He felt as though he had forfeited
80 THE CHERILY-STONES.
Charles's friendship for ever; as though the re-
membrance of his ill-temper could never be obli-
terated. It is at such moments as these that we
feel the full value of friends like Charles Warbeck,
whose quiet, even-tempered kindness, never rising
to any great warmth of profession, but always uni-
form and to be relied on, forms a stay and prop to
which we unconsciously cling, and the full strength
of which we seldom realize until we are in danger
of losing it. As Harry thought over Warbeck's
gentleness and forbearance, and his own ingrati-
tude, he sobbed as though his heart would break.
Those odious cherries! How he hated the very
sound of the word. And yet, strange as it may
seem, he felt less inclination to avow his fault than
ever. He resolved, indeed, to beg Charles's par-
don, and express his sorrow for his petulance on
the earliest possible occasion; but his very fear of
losing his friendship made him the more anxious
not to fall lower in his esteem: nay, notwithstand-
ing his extreme regret at having given his friend
offence, he was not sorry he was gone, so much
was he afraid of his pursuing his inquiries respect-
ing the cherry-stones. After the lapse of another
hour or so, he dressed himself, and went down
stairs, not many minutes before the boys were
summoned to dinner.
THE QUARREL. 87
Meanwhile, Warbeck, as he descended the stairs,
began to reproach himself for his conduct to his
friend. It was true, indeed, that Harry had been
fretful and unreasonable, nor had he given him any
just cause of offence; but he thought that he had
not made sufficient allowance for his illness. "I
ought not," soliloquized he, "to have continued to
plague him about the stupid fruit, though after all
it was the cherry-stone that made him so angry.
By-the-by, how strange is all this mystery about
these cherry-stones! How could this last one
have got into Harry's cup ? No one came near
the table, after Mrs. Young had poured out the
tea, except Walter and myself. It must have been
dropped into the cup whilst I left it in the hall, I
suppose, or perhaps it was put accidentally into the
teapot with the tea-leaves."
His speculations were interrupted by little
Walter, who came running up to him to inquire
how his brother was. "Is he a great deal better,
Charles? Does he say he will soon be well?"
"He is much the same, Walter; but I do not
think he is seriously ill. But, Walter, come here;
I want to ask you a question. Now speak the
truth: was it you who put the cherry-stcne into
his teacup just now ?"
"Indeed, indeed, I did not:" replied Walter,
88 TUE CllERlll-STOXES.
with a face of great disquietude: "but was it really
"It," said Warbeck, what do you mean by it ?'
There was a cherry-stone in the cup certainly."
Walter did not reply to the question. He con-
tinued to identify all cherry-stones with the one he
had found on the buttress, and which had first
excited his wonder. It had now, as he supposed,
come to light for the fourth time, and appeared at
the bottom of his brother's teacup. He was just
on the point of opening his mouth to tell Warbeck
all his doubts and fears, when he recollected his
promise respecting the word cherry-stone; and
breaking short off at the beginning of his speech,
he stared at his companion with an expression of
the most ludicrous perplexity.
"Well, Walter," said Charles, eyeing him with
great surprise, "why do you gape at me in that
strange way ? Do you know any thing about this
business or not ?"
"I must not tell," gasped Walter, I promised
not to say the word."
Not to say the word-not to say what word P
the word cherry-stone ?"
"And why did you promise that ?"
"I do not know," said Walter.
"Well," said Warbeck, losing all patience at
this new mystery, "at all events you can say
whether you know how the cherry-stone got into
your brother's cup."
"Indeed, I do not. How should I? It is the
strangest thing I ever knew in my life. I saw
Harry crush it to pieces yesterday morning, throw
it over the wall in the afternoon, and into the pond
in the garden last night, and this morning it has
got into his tea-cup. I do not think I ever heard
any thing so strange."
"It is very strange," repeated Warbeck, absently,
and rather following the current of his own thoughts,
than attending to Walter's remarks.
"Is it not ?" said the little boy, delighted to
find a big boy as much puzzled as himself; and
then he added, doubtfully, Was Juno near at the
time, Charles ?"
"Juno! child? What is your little head run-
ning on ? What can Juno have to do with it P"
"I do not quite know," said Walter; "but Juno
was very busy looking at it when we found it on
Warbeck looked steadily at Walter, to see
whether he was venturing to make game of him.
But there was an expression of ingenuous honesty
in the boy's face that it was impossible to mistake.
90 THE CHERRY-STONES.
He was evidently in earnest. Some strange mys-
tery Warbeck thought there must be about these
cherry-stones; but he could get no clue to it, and
whatever it might be, it was no business of his.
Moreover, the time for his class to be called up
was approaching, and he had not yet finished pre-
paring his Homer. So, dismissing for the present
the subject from his thoughts altogether, he re-
entered the school-room, and seating himself at his
desk, was soon deeply absorbed in the mysteries of
moods and tenses.
The dinner-table that day presented an unusual
display of luxuries. Instead of rolls of suet
pudding, the usual homely fare on Wednesdays
and Fridays, the board groaned beneath a goodly
array of cherry-pies, which sent forth an odour
which, as Seymour remarked to his neighbours,
was grateful to the senses of the expecting boys,.
as the savour of the perfect hecatomb was said, in
their morning lesson, to have been to the nostrils
of the cloud-compelling Jupiter. Indeed, as Sey-
mour further remarked, they had a decided advan-
tage over the king of gods and men, seeing that
the savour of the pies was, to them, but a pre-
liminary pleasure to the more substantial one
which was to follow: whereas, the less fortunate
cloud-compeller was fain to content himself with
THE QUARREL. 91
the odour of his hecatomb, in default of a more
solid mode of enjoying it., Harry Mertoun, who,
as we have already informed our readers, had made
his appearance some few minutes before the boys
went in to dinner, was seated next to Warbeck.
It was evident that their quarrel was at an end.
Harry had made use of the short space afforded
him, to ask Charles's forgiveness for the petulance
and ill-humour he had shown. It was readily
granted; and they were now conversing together
with that mixture of shyness and elaborate polite-
ness, which boys usually manifest towards one
another when a quarrel has been settled between
them. Mertoun, however, notwithstanding all his
efforts to be cordial to his friend, was evidently ill
at ease. The sight of the cherries, which Squire
Ellison's bounty had bestowed on the boys, awoke
unpleasant reflections; and he was not sorry that
his indisposition precluded him from partaking in
the feast. It was a relief to him when the table
was cleared and grace said; but as the boys got up
at its conclusion to leave the dining-room, Dr.
Young desired him to remain behind. "You may
all go," said he, "excepting Henry Mertoun; I
wish to say a few words to him."
Now it happened not unfrequently that the
Doctor detained a boy for a few minutes after