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THE MILL WHEEL p. 62Front.
WALTER'S FRIEND;OR,BIG BOYS AND LITTLE ONES.A FOURTH TALE OF CHARLTON SCHOOL.BY THEREV. H. C. ADAMS, M.A.VICAR OF DRY SANDrOBD;AUTHOR OB "TALES OF CHARLTON SCHOOL," " THE DOCTOR'S BIRTHDAY,"ETC. ETC.WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.LONDON:GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE;NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET.1873.
TOEDWARD C. ADAMSfir little .ulame is inscrimBYHIS AFFECTIONATE FATHERH. C. A.
CONTENTS.CHAPTER I.THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM ........................ 1CHAPTER II.MR. WHITE'S HAT ................................. 20CHAPTER III.CUMBROOK MEADOWS .............................. 38CHAPTER IV.THE MILL-WHEEL ................................... 57CHAPTER V.HARRY'S LETTER .................................... 75CHAPTER VI.A SUDDEN BREAK-UP .............................. 93CHAPTER VII.THE SICK ROOM ................................... 109CHAPTER VIII.NEWS FROM THE EAST ........................... 125CHAPTER IX.THE SPECIAL MESSENGER ......................... 141
ILLUSTRATIONS.I. THE ARCHERY MATCH .................. Page 17II. THE MILL-WHEEL .......... (Frontispiece) 62III. TEDDY'S SICK-BED............................. 117
WALTER'S FRIEND,CHAPTER I.THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM."WINTER and spring had passed away, and earlysummer had arrived, when our story commences.The boys of Charlton School, if they had not for-gotten the stirring incidents of the Doctor'sBirthday, had long ceased to make it the topic ofgeneral conversation. If men soon pass away fromthe recollection of their contemporaries, a school-boy's memory is briefer still. The past is little tohim, and the future less. Happy time, when thepresent is all in all, and that present so full of joy !"Walter Mertoun was now the undisputed leaderof the school,-more popular, perhaps, than everHampton had been, though he attracted less openadmiration. The lesson he had received had donehim a great deal of good. He had resumed hisfriendship with Philip Hawkins; which now pro-mised to be a lasting one. Hampton had madeone or two attempts to keep up his intimacy withB
2 WALTER'S FRIEND.Mertoun by letter; but the latter, though he hadanswered civilly, did not respond to his formerschoolfellow's eagerness, and the correspondencesoon languished and died.He was even less successful with Brook andDixon. The former had, like Mertoun, beenashamed of the injustice which he had done toDr. Young, and had little pleasure in his recol-lections of Hampton, who had been the chief insti-gator of it. As for Dixon, the moment Hamptonleft the school, he had ceased to have any in-terest for him. A live donkey was more valuablein Dixon's eyes, than a dead lion; and WalterMertoun was not only alive, but a lion into thebargain, and no donkey. To him, therefore, hehad instantly transferred his allegiance. WilliamDixon, the reader should be told, was the son of aman of small means, gaining his living as a surgeonamong the poor in the East end of London. Hehad often impressed on his son the necessity ofgetting on in the world, by the help of such con-nections as he could contrive to make. The boywas well disposed to listen to this advice, and hadin consequence attached himself to Hampton,whose father was reputed to be fabulously rich.But it was well known in the school thatMr. Hampton had been made so angry by his son'sdismissal from Charlton, as to declare that no one
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 3connected with that school should receive, for thefuture, any notice at his hands. Dixon accordinglycast about for the next most desirable personunder whose patronage to place himself, and he atonce fixed on Walter. Mr. Mertoun, of late years,had prospered greatly in business. He had alsoinherited a lovely seat in Hertfordshire; to whichsome of his son's former schoolfellows-CharlesWarbeck and Frederick Seymour to wit-hadoccasionally been invited. Hampton's fly hadhardly driven from the door, when Dixon beganto ingratiate himself with his new patron, as hehoped to make him. But notwithstanding all hiscleverness, he had failed for a long time in attract-ing Walter's regard. It was not until the middle ofthe summer half-year that he succeeded in makinghimself Mertoun's constant companion. Perhapseven then his success may have been due to thestrong contrast which Dixon's character presentedto that of Hampton, of which Walter had con-ceived a wholesome horror. But whatever thereason may have been, he certainly admittedDixon to his intimacy, more than any one wouldhave judged likely, and had even once spokento him about Winterbourne Park, as his father'splace was called, and the Archery Meetings usuallyheld there during the summer, by Mr. Mertoun'sinvitation.B2
4 WALTER'S FRIEND.Lobb's Mead, and the Hermitage, had longbeen given back to the boys, for their use; infact, they held them by a much more secure title.Old Mr. Ellison, after lingering for several weeks,had died just at the close of the year. Hehad no near relatives, and his heir was almost astranger to him. He had, moreover, learnt thatDr. Young had recently sustained a very heavypecuniary loss from the failure of a bank. He hadtherefore bequeathed not only the house inwhich Dr. Young lived, but the Mead and Her-mitage alfo, to his old friend; thus rendering itpossible for him still to continue to carry on theschool, which he must otherwise have given up,from inability to pay the rent. The boys, how-ever, knew little and thought less of these matters.The passion for Archery, which had been growingup in the school for the last year or two, had thisseason reached its height. It had been introduced,as the reader was told on a former occasion, byWalter Mertoun, with whom it had been for along time past a very favourite diversion; and ithad received an additional stimulus in the presentsummer from a prize, given by Captain Bowles,Mrs. Young's brother, who was now abroad servingin the Chinese seas. He had, it appeared, fallenin with Harry Mertoun at Chusan, and had heardfrom the latter such a glowing account of the
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM.Charlton Toxopholites, that he was induced to sendhome a box of splendid Indian chessmen, to begiven to the best shot of the year. The presenthad arrived early in the spring; and Dr. Young, inaccordance with the Captain's expressed wishes,had appointed Tuesday, the 4th of June, as theday on which the match was to be shot out. Atfirst the general opinion in the school was thatWalter Mertoun would have an easy victory. Butas the half-year went on, this opinion began to bechanged. George Brook, who had hitherto beena very uncertain shot, began to grow steadier withincreased practice. Sometimes he nearly equalledMertoun's score. On one or two occasions, whenWalter's tackle was not in good order, or somethinghad occurred to disturb his equanimity, he hadeven outshot him. It was thought not impossiblethat, if the 4th of June should prove to be oneof Brook's good days and one of Mertoun's badones, the former might prove the winner. Butlatterly it had been seen that Brook was notWalter's most dangerous rival. Philip Hawkins,who had in the previous summer been reckoned avery inferior shot, advanced slowly but surely inpopular estimation. His strong arm, steady nerves,and equable temper stood him in excellent stead; andas the day approached on which the prize was to becontended for, the issue seemed even more uncertain.
6 WALTER'S FRIEND.Nothing was talked of but the match for a fort.night at least before the day. New targets hadbeen bought for the occasion. The principal com-petitors had carefully inspected their bowstringsand chosen their arrows. Dick Waters had been pre-vailed upon to take the Doctor's mowing-machineover the space round the targets, and the roller fromthe great house had been borrowed to render the turfas level as possible. The heavens were bright andclear, giving as fair a promise of fine weather as anEnglish sky ever exhibits, and the boys retired torest, full of eager anticipation of the morrow.It would seem that Sir Walter Scott's novelswere still uppermost in the minds of the Doctor'spupils. But "Anne of Geierstein," not " Ivanhoe,"was this time the centre of attraction." It's all my eye about Arthur's hitting the postand the string and the bird,-that's my opinion,"said Edward Thomas from his bed in the corner ofthe "eight-bedded room." "How could a fellowhit a thing which he couldn't see I And who, Ishould like to know, could see a string at a hundredyards, or rather two hundred yards' distance 2-forArthur is said to have moved the post a hundredyards farther off than it was at first! Fancy seeinga bit of string two hundred yards off! ""That is true," said Dixon, who occupied thenext bed to Thomas; " and besides, even if Arthur
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 7had seen it, he couldn't have taken aim at it, becauseit kept continually waggling about. I wonder SirWalter Scott didn't think of that.""Well," said Mertoun, " I don't suppose Scottmeant any one to understand that the thing reallyhappened. To begin with-'Anne of Geierstein'is not a true history, but a novel; and, in the nextplace, the whole story is told, in almost the samewords, by Virgil in the fifth Eneid, which we readlast half. But Scott says, if you remember, thatthe English archers of those days could hit such amark as he describes, and not think very much ofthe feat either.""He may say so," rejoined Thomas, "but I don'tbelieve him. It's much the same thing as what hesays in 'Ivanhoe.' There he makes Robin Hoodsplit a willow wand and the nocks of anotherfellow's arrow a hundred yards distant. I willbelieve that when I see it done, and not before "" Well, I agree with Walter," observed Dixon."I think the tales about the archers of those timesmay very likely be true-a great number of them,that is. They were at it all day and every day, youknow; and what a difference that must make Idon't know about hitting the nocks of a fellow'sarrow; but a willow wand I should think he mightsplit. Didn't I hear you say, Walter, that youknew of a willow being split once at sixty yards 7 "
8 WALTER'S FRIEND."Yes," said Mertoun. "It was done at West-bourne Chase by Captain Vernon, one of the bestshots in our club.""Did you see it done " asked Thomas." No," replied Walter, "but I was told of it, bypersons who did.""That is not quite the same thing," said Thomas."It is to me," returned Mertoun, shortly."Well, but Edward, if Walter was told by aperson who saw it done, and who, he knows, speaksthe truth, why should any one doubt it 1 " saidDixon. "Besides, I happen to know that Walterhimself, if he didn't hit a willow wand, did hit asmall basket, which was not very much larger, atsixty yards.""What sort of a basket " asked Edward."I believe it was a large narrow pottle forholding strawberries; but no doubt Walter cantell you, if you ask him.""I dare say," said Thomas. " And I don'tmeanto doubt your word, or his either. But if he didit once, he can do it again. He had better try itto-morrow, and then we shall all be convinced."" Nothing can be fairer than that," remarkedHughes, whose bed was placed in the oppositecorner to Mertoun's. " I wish Walter would tryit, I am sure. I should like nothing better thanto see it done."
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 9"Oh, yes do try it," said Davies, the junior ofthe room."Well," said Mertoun. "If any one doubts myword, he is welcome to do so, and I am not goingto do anything to convince him. But if you allwish it, that's a different thing, and I don't mindtrying. But I don't think we could get a pottlelike the one I shot at. I have never seen oneabout here. So I don't see how it can be managed.""Never mind the pottle," said Thomas. "Youcan shoot at anything nearly about the same size-a roll of newspaper, or a pockethandkerchief spreadout, or a hat. Any of these would be larger thana strawberry-pottle.""I will shoot at your hat with pleasure, Edward,"said Mertoun, recovering his temper, " and shallhave great satisfaction in spiking a hole throughthe middle of it! ""Very well, you can try to-morrow," saidThomas. "I think my best beaver is pretty safe,but time will show.""Mr. White won't let you shoot at Edward'shat," observed Round, the youngest boy but one inthe room. "He is very particular about theshooting. He wouldn't let Wilson shoot at a birdthat was sitting on one of the boughs of Morley'sElm, the other day."" He is a great bother, that White, after all,"
10 WALTER'S FRIEND.observed Dixon. " I wish he would leave us alone.The first class always used to be trusted to play bythemselves, until he came."" It's the Doctor's doing, not Mr. White's," saidHughes. " He is afraid some of the youngerfellows will be hurt. You remember that businessabout a month ago, when Frankie Clarkson gotthat fall "" I remember," said Mertoun. "The youngmuff climbed into a tree after a thrush's nest, andthe bough broke with him. He didn't fall ten.feet, and was all right a quarter of an hour after-wards. There was nothing to make any fussabout.""No fuss would have been made," said Thomas,"if some of the juniors had not run in, andfrightened Mrs. Young and Sally Blagg out oftheir wits, by telling them Clarkson was killed orhad broken all his limbs at the least."" It was only that young idiot, Cave, did that,"said Dixon. "He was the fellow that went toMrs. Young. One would think he had never beenout of his nurse's arms, when he came here. Doyou recollect his being frightened at the gipsies inKnowlton Lane, Walter ?""Yes," said Mertoun; "that is, I remember oneof the juniors being frightened at seeing a gipsies'caravan, and declaring they were Thugs, or some
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 11such name, and would murder us all. I agree withyou: I don't think the Doctor ought to take suchfellows as that, and I wish we were well rid ofthem all.""I fancy this young Cave is as much a botherto the Masters as he is to us," observed Burke."Dr. Young doesn't at all fancy being obliged togo to London to-morrow about him.""Dr. Young going to London about youngCave I What do you mean I" asked Mertoun."Sally says the Doctor is going to see Cave'sfather there," said Burke. "You know he wasnever asked, or written to, about Cave. The youngchap came by the coach one day, with a note fromhis father, saying it was all right. But the Doctorhas never heard since, and his back is a little putup about that way of doing things. He knowsnothing of old Cave at all,-who he is, or wherehe comes from,-and he is going to have it outwith him for sending his son in that way.""That's odd," said Mertoun. "Why doesn'tEdward himself tell him 1""He can't, or rather, I suspect he won't, tellany one," said Burke. "Several of the fellowshave asked him about himself, but no one canmake out what he means. He says he knows noone in England, and doesn't remember the nameof the place where he has been living-at least, no
12 WALTER'S FRIEND.one has ever heard of the place he mentions. Onetime he talks as if his father was a merchant, andat another as if he was a ship's captain. He won'tsay anything at all about his mother.""Poor little chap," said Mertoun, compassion-ately. "He must find it dull work here !""He wouldn't find it better anywhere else,"observed Dixon. "I had a talk with him a fewdays ago, and he did nothing but blubber.""The best thing for him would be to be packedoff home again, or sent to a girls' school, wherethey take little boys in petticoats and pinafores,"said Thomas."Well, let us have done with him," saidHughes. "We owe him one good turn, at allevents, and that is for taking away the Doctorfrom Charlton to-morrow.""We shall miss him rather, I should havethought," said Knapp. " He generally comes outto score when there is a match, and is always verygood-natured.""Yes, his company is very good, no doubt,"said Thomas ; "but on this occasion his room willbe better. There never are lessons after dinnerfor the first class when he is away; so that weshall have all the more time for the match.""Exactly," said Dixon. "Well, Walter, Iprophesy that by this time to-morrow, you will be
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 13the owner of the chessmen. Don't you think hewill, Edward V"" I hope so, I am sure," said Thomas; " if it isonly for the credit of the eight-bedded room. Butit will be a near run, I expect. If you had seenPhilip practising at the small targets to-day, youwould have said so too. It was first rate, I mustsay that."" Well, we shall see when to-morrow comes,"said Mertoun, "and not before. But we hadbetter go to sleep now, if we mean to be wideawake to-morrow. So good night to all."The next day happily fulfilled even the ex-pectations of the boys, being an almost perfectspecimen of an early summer day. Immediatelyafter dinner the boys betook themselves to " Lobb'sMead," brimful of interest and excitement. Athalf-past two the competitors took up their stationsat the target. They were six in number,-Mer-toun, Hawkins, Brook, Thomas, Smith, andHughes. In the absence of Dr. Young, Mr. Whiteundertook to act as umpire. It was arrangedthat ten double ends of three arrows eachshould be shot, and that the prize should bedetermined by the number, not (as is sometimesthe case) by the value of the bits. There hadbeen some dispute on this subject; but Mr. White,whose brother was a Member of a London Archery
14 WALTER'S FRIEND.Society, had declared that the prizes were always sodecided by the Hornsey Club-which, in his judg-ment, settled the point. It was generally thoughtthat this decision was favourable to Hawkins, whosesteady shooting usually produced a larger numberof hits, though both Mertoun and Brook morefrequently struck the inner rings. But there isno rule without an exception. Philip shot care-fully, making his usual average of hits, but re-peatedly sending his arrows into the gold andscarlet circles, while his two rivals almost in-variably planted theirs in the outer rings. Smith,Thomas, and Hughes, soon fell behind; but thecontest between the other three proved an extra-ordinarily close one."That is the last shot of the eighth end,"exclaimed Tremlett, as Mertoun's arrow hit themark. "There goes another outer white forWalter. What a match this is! I really believeMerton, Brook, and Hawkins are, all three,exactly equal!""No they're not," said Burke. "Walter's oneahead, and has been so for the last three ends.The shooting has been even for the last eighteenarrows. But Mertoun got one ahead in the endbefore that, and he has never been caught. Knappand I both noticed it, and have kept account eversince.
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 15"It is you that are wrong," said Tremlett; "Iremember the arrow you mean. We all thoughtat the time that it had hit. But when we got upto the target, we found it had stuck in the leg, notthe target itself."" That wasn't the one I mean," said Burke; "Iremember that arrow too. I know Mr. Whitescored the one I am speaking of, as a hit. Youhad better ask him, if you don't believe me.""It would be no use doing that," observedanother boy. " Mr. White would be sure to tellyou he wouldn't show the score, till the match wasover.""And quite right too," said Tremlett, "but bequiet now, you fellows, they are just going tobegin again. Ah, I see Smith and the other twohave given up. There are only three now to shootit out."There had been a momentary pause while thisconversation was going on. The day was broilinghot; and even the boys felt it almost too muchfor them. Mr. White had taken advantage ofthe interval to send one of the juniors into thehouse for a wide-awake with a broad brim, whichhe sometimes wore. This he now gladly substi-tuted for the smart beaver hat which he hadhitherto had on. Handing the latter to EdwardCave, who had been his messenger, he desired him
1G WALTER'S FRIEND.to place it on a bench close by, and then called onthe champions to recommence the contest.They obeyed, and the spectators, gathering closelyround, watched with breathless interest every shaft,as it took its flight. In the first half end Mertounand Brook obtained a lead of one over Hawkins;but the latter redeemed this by his brilliant shoot-ing in the second half, sending all three of his arrowsinto the target, and two of them into the centralrings.The last end now commenced, but still withthe same doubtful issue. Each of the three com-petitors scored two-Brook missing with his first,Hawkins with his second, and Mertoun with histhird, arrow. The eagerness of the boys reachedits utmost pitch, when the last half end began.Even Mr. White was so much interested that hecould hardly preserve the magisterial dignity onwhich he was wont to plume himself. Brookstood forward first. His arrow missed, passingclose under the target. Walter came next, andstruck the outer white. Hawkins was the last.His arrow was fixed in the scarlet. Brook advanceda second time, and a second time failed."There goes his chance," said Everett, sotto voceto his neighbour Dixon. " It's between Walterand Philip now. If I were a betting man, I wouldwager anything on Philip!"
* '-"^^^***;--- *"****," .'. 'E __R-_ M _TCH __-THE ARCHERY MATCH. P. I"
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 17"And if I were a betting man I would take you,"returned Dixon in the same tone. "Walter willhave it,-see, if he doesn't "As he spoke, Mertoun's arrow took flight. Ashout followed, and the marker shook his flag,signifying that it was a hit. Hawkins took hisplace, and a second shout was raised, as the whiteflag was again seen to wave. Supposing Burkeand those who agreed with him, to be right,Mertoun was still one ahead: supposing the otherfaction to be correct in their calculations, it wasa tie between him and Hawkins. At all eventsthis last arrow must settle it. A pin might havebeen heard to drop, as Mertoun once more cameforward and took his aim with great care, butevident nervousness. There was a burst of cheer-ing, as his shot was followed by the "thump," sodear to the ear of an archer: but it was hushedagain, when the marker running up and examiningthe target, declared that it did not cut the outerwhite, and could not therefore count as a hit.Hawkins succeeded. He levelled his bow anddrew the string with his accustomed composure,and this time the applause was not checked, as hisarrow was seen sticking almost in the middle of thecentral ring.The result, however, was still doubtful, andMr. White was instantly surrounded by a throngc
18 WALTER'S FRIEND.of inquirers, each more importunate than the other,bursting with eagerness to hear what the realnumbers were, or to be allowed to examine thescore for themselves."Please Mr. W hite, hasn't Hawkins won "-"Please sir, aren't they a tie 1 "-" Did you score anouter white, sir, to Mertoun in the fifth end "-"You needn't ask that, I am quite sure he didn't?"-"You hold your tongue, I am dead certain hedid."-" The marker said it wasn't a hit, I askedhim myself."-" The marker didn't know whichend you meant. I am quite sure it is down on thescore."-"Please sir, please sir, please sir, onlylet us look at the paper. We'll give it back toyou directly.""Gently, gently boys," exclaimed the usher,disengaging himself with difficulty from the throngof boys, who were buzzing about him like a swarmof flies. "I must reckon up the score by myself,before I can tell you the result. Leave me alonefor a few minutes, and then you shall know. Doyou want me, Waters " he added, addressing theschool servant, who had just entered the mead."Mrs. Young's compliments, sir," was the reply." She will be much obliged if you will step intothe house for a few minutes. A gentleman hascalled, and as the Doctor is not at home, he wantsto see the usher."
THE EIGHT-BEDDED ROOM. 19"Does Mrs. Young know that I shall be obligedto leave the boys alone, if I go into the house.""Mrs. Young does know it sir," said Waters."But the gentleman can't wait."" Very well, said Mr. White, putting the scoreinto his pocket as he spoke. " Boys, you mustwait till I come back. I daresay I shan't be keptten minutes."c2
20CHAPTER II.MR. WHITE'S HAT."WHAT a bother," exclaimed Thomas, as hewatched the usher's retiring fgure. " I wouldgive the ears off my head to know who has won;and I would wager anything that it will be anhour good, before this gentleman, whoever he maybe, goes away again."" Mr. White said most likely he wouldn't bemore than ten minutes," observed Hawkins." Oh, aye; he said so," returned Thomas. "Butthat's only his guess. Visitors have always such aheap of questions to ask.""Yes; and Mr. White is always a dreadful slowcoach at answering them," observed Smith. " I"wish sometimes I was behind him with a whip, tomake him go a little faster !"" Or send an arrow into him," suggested Brook,"that would do as well.""Get an inner White, hey " cried Thomas.
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 21"Well, that would make him go fast enough, I'llbe bound! Wouldn't it, Arthur 1""Get an inner White I don't understandwhat you mean," returned Smith, whose dulnessin taking a joke was proverbial among his school-fellows.There was a general laugh, which Smith did notappear to relish."Never mind, Arthur," said Thomas; "you'llmake out what I mean by-and-by, if you take agradus and dictionary, I daresay.""Gradus and dictionary," repeated Smith sulkily." I can't make any sense of what you say.""Well, that's no great wonder, perhaps," saidEvans, "seeing that Edward is talking nothingbut nonsense. But, I say, who do you think haswon the chessmen ? That's more to the purpose.""Well, I know who ought to have won, thoughI am not sure that he has," said Everett, who sleptin Hawkins's room, and considered himself boundto support his cause."What, Philip, I suppose," suggested Thomas."Yes, to be sure," said the other. "If the tar-get had been a size smaller than it was, his scorewould nearly have doubled that of any one else;and if it had been two sizes smaller, scarcely any onebut he would have made a hit at all.""If ifs and ands were pots and pans," said
22 WALTER'S FRIEND.Thomas. " We have nothing to do with 'ifs.' Idaresay Philip would have hit the target theoftenest, if we had been shooting at targets of anyother size than those we have been shooting at.But that's nothing to the purpose. The questionis, who has hit these targets oftenest ? And it's myopinion that there's a tie between Walter and Philip.What do you say yourself, Walter.""I hardly know," said Mertoun. "I ratherfancy myself that the numbers are equal. But ifit depends in any way upon central shooting, Philiphas beaten me all to fits.""Ah, you would hardly have split the willowwand to-day," observed Thomas. "I had forgottenour conversation last night. But it's lucky for youwe didn't make any wager about it.""Split a willow wand," exclaimed Smith, whohad not yet fully recovered his equanimity."What, Mertoun hit a willow wand at sixtyyards Why he would hardly hit a willow-tree atthat distance, unless it was a very large one.""A willow-tree I say, that's coming it ratherstrong," said Dixon. "Walter hasn't been shoot-ing as central to-day as he usually does. But hewouldn't even to-day have missed an ordinary sizedwillow-tree once in twenty times !""And how about the pottle," asked Thomas,mischievously. "I suppose he would have missed
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 23that more than once in twenty times, wouldn'the l"" Very likely," retorted Dixon, " and so wouldyou, Edward-more than nineteen times out oftwenty, I expect."" Possibly," said Thomas. " But then you mustremember that I never pretended I could hit it.That makes a difference, as the man said whenhe shaved one side of his face.""And who did pretend that he could," inquiredSmith. "Not Mertoun, I suppose, did he I""Mertoun didn't pretend anything about it,"said Dixon. " He only said he had hit it, and hethought he could hit it again. And it is quite truethat you did hit it, isn't it, Walter ?"" Yes," replied Mertoun, curtly, for he wasannoyed by the tone of Smith's remarks."A man might hit anything by chance," ob-served Smith. "I have seen a fellow go intothe very middle of the gold, who had never shotbefore in his life; but I don't call that hitting amark."" It wasn't by chance," said Mertoun. " I tookaim at it, and the arrow went just where I meantit to go."" You did, did you T" said Smith. " Then all Ican say is, you had better do it again. And thenthere will be no doubt about the matter."
24 WALTER'S FRIEND."Well, Walter did undertake last night to shoot-not at a strawberry pottle, but at Edward'shat," said Dixon, "and I have no doubt he isquite ready to fulfil his promise. Now, Edward,you had better go and fetch your best beaver, andfix it up on the target yonder."There was a burst of laughter at this suggestion,which was changed into a cry of surprise, whenEdward, gravely walking up to a bench at a dis-tance, took a hat from it, and then proceeded totie it by a string to the target at the farther end ofthe mead. "Now then, Walter," he cried, "takeyour place at the other target, and do your worst.If you do skewer the hat through, I shall bear themisfortune with patience. But I think I am prettysafe," he added in an undertone, though every onecould hear distinctly what he said."Edward Thomas," exclaimed Teddy Cave, run-ning after the first-class boy, "you musn't takethat hat, you don't know whom it belongs to. Iam sure Mr. White- ""Hold your tongue you little booby," saidThomas angrily. "It isn't your hat, is it?""Oh no, it isn't mine, but I am sure Mr. Whitewouldn't allow you, if he knew it."" Mr. White again I tell you what; you'll getit over the face and eyes as the cat gave it themonkey, if you bring up the masters' names in that
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 2.way, and meddle with what doesn't concern you.Now then, Walter," he continued in a loudertone, "we are all waiting to see Robin Hoodoutdone."" Nonsense, Edward," said Mertoun. "I don'twant really to hit your hat. I have no objection toshoot at a strawberry pottle, if one can be got.But this is a different matter. If any one choosesto disbelieve what I said," he added, with an angrylook at Smith, "he is welcome.""Well then I for one, shall take that liberty,"said Smith. "A hat is larger than a strawberrypottle; and if you can't hit the one you can'tthe other.""That's what I call a clencher," remarkedThomas." Do shoot, Walter," urged Dixon in a low tone."I feel sure you would do it, and it would justserve those fellows right."Mertoun hesitated a minute or two, but the sneeron Smith's face was more than he could bear. iHerestrung his bow, and choosing his best arrow fromhis quiver, stepped up to the shooting place. It wasevident, however, that he was still half reluctant."" How many shots is he to have ?" asked Dixon,who had noticed Walter's demeanour, but had mis-understood his feeling." Oh, I take it for granted he intends to hit it at
26 WALTER'S FRIEND.the first shot-that is what I mean by being ableto hit a thing," replied Smith." Locksley had only one shot at the willow wand,you know," observed Thomas, "and I don't seewhy his rival should be allowed any more.""None of that chaff," said Dixon. "Walterought to be allowed half a dozen shots at the least.You won't object to that, surely."" Yes, I do object," returned Smith, who had notexpected Mertoun to make the attempt, and beganto fear that he might prove successful. "A fellowmay go on missing and missing ever so many times,until he happens to hit at last. But I don't callthat anything. If Mertoun can hit the hat, let itbe proved that he can; and if he can't, let it beproved that he can't. He doesn't seem in anygreat hurry to make the trial."" Don't say a word more, William," said Mer-toun. " I'll try this shot at all events." He loosedthe string as he spoke. All eyes watched anxiouslythe flight of the arrow; and a cry of surprise andadmiration burst out, as it alighted in the verymiddle of the hat, piercing it through both sides,and nailing it to the target. Mertoun looked roundwith unusual satisfaction at this proof of his skill, orrather good fortune: for he could not but be sensiblethat it was to the latter his success was mainlyowing. But there was no opportunity for him to
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 27receive the congratulations of his friends. Theboys had only just disengaged the hat from thetarget and removed the arrow from it, when Watersreappeared with a message from Mrs. Young,desiring the immediate presence of Walter Mertounand Edward Cave."Walter Mertoun and Edward Cave," repeatedEvans. "Is the gentleman gone, Dick ? Is Mr.White coming out again to tell us the score "" The gentleman ain't gone, Master Evans, andhe ain't likely to go, seeing Mrs. Young has justhad luncheon brought in for him.""Luncheon, hey ?" said Thomas. " Here,Walter,you're asked to meet a gentleman at lunch in theparlour. Spring chicken, gooseberry pie, and cus-tards. Are you sure, Dick, that it wasn't I youwere told to ask ? I am sure the gentleman wouldbe glad to make my acquaintance.""Well, Master Thomas, perhaps he might--- "" Only he didn't say so," said Evans. "Well,Smith, you must admit that you are fairly beaten,"he continued, as the two boys left the mead; "thoughI must own I hadn't an idea myself that Walterwould hit it."" He wouldn't hit it again-not in a dozen shots,nor two dozen either," said Smith, sulkily. " Whatis more, I maintain that Hawkins would hit thehat the oftener of the two in the long run."
28 WALTEI'S FRIEND." Well, Philip can try if he likes it," said Brook." I suppose Edward will have no objection to hisshooting at it now ? The hat has got one big holethrough it, and it may as well have a dozen. Whatdo you say about it yourself, Edward I""Well," said Thomas, " if you appeal to me, Idaresay the owner of the hat would consent, butthe question is-how are we to ask him ?""Ask him," repeated Brook, in surprise. " Isn'tthe hat yours "" No one has made me a present of it, that Iknow of," said Thomas."Who does it belong to, then "" That's just what I want you to tell me."The boys burst out into a loud laugh. " Howcame you to take it " they inquired."I saw it lying on the bench, and hadn't theremotest idea that Walter would hit it."" Well, we had better find out who the owneris," said Hawkins, taking up the hat and examiningit as he spoke. "Judge he won't-be best pleasedwhen he finds out what has been done. There's noname in it," he added a moment afterwards, buthere's the maker-here's his name and address.'Rickford, Downton,'-Downton Where's that,I wonder ""Downton!" exclaimed Everett in consterna-tion. " I know of one Downton, in Wiltshire.
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 29That's where Mr. White was staying last winter.It can't be his hat, to be sure "" It is though," said Brook, taking it up and ex-amining it. I know it quite well now. That'sthe crape he is still wearing for the old Squire. Iheard him tell Mr. Miller so. And here is hisname under the lining, A. White.' It is his besthat, I declare! I say, there'll be a proper rowabout this!"" Walter has got an inner White, now, with avengeance," cried Thomas, whose love of a joke noteven his alarm for the consequences could restrain." Just be quiet a moment, will you," said Brook."This is a long way past a joke What in theworld made you play such a fool's trick, Thomas,as to put up one of the Master's hats, as a mark forthe fellows to shoot at "" Well, I didn't know it was one of the Master'shats," replied Edward. " I saw a hat standing onthe bench, and didn't know whose it was, and that'sthe truth. I hadn't the least expectation thatWalter would hit it, as I told you just now, or ofcourse I shouldn't have put it up."" Well, it's no use your saying what you wouldhave done, or what you wouldn't now," said Evans." The question is what are we to do. You see, weshall all get into an awful row, if this is foundout."
30 WALTER'S FRIEND." I don't see why," said Smith. " Edward putthe hat on the target, and Walter shot at it.But no one else had anything to do with thematter.""You forget that you provoked him to shoot atit, and that we all stood by and saw it done, thoughit's dead against the rules of the school," said Brook."That won't do. Besides, I don't want to seeWalter and Edward get into a row, any more thanI want to get into one myself.""Are you sure Mr. White will find it out "asked Dixon, who had been carefully examining thehat. " If we pull the crape up a little higher, itwill completely hide the holes on the outside; andif a new piece of silver paper is pasted over thelining, they won't show on the inside either.""Ycu had better tell him all about it. That'smy opinion," said Hawkins, who had hitherto saidnothing. "And let us all subscribe to buy him anew one."" Catch me doing that," said Smith."That would have answered very well with Mr.Powell," said Dixon, " but not with Mr. White.We know that by experience."" Well, anyhow you must tell Walter about it,"said Hawkins. " I make no doubt he will gostraight to Mr. White as soon as he hears it."" And then he'll be safe to forfeit the chessmen,
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 31if he should prove the winner," said Dixon. " Mr.White is quite the man to insist on that.""Hawkins was silent. He felt himself in anawkward position. Of course, if Mertoun shouldforfeit the chessmen, they must come to him." Well, I think Dixon's plan is best," said Brook,after a pause. "Very likely Mr. White will neverdiscover the damage at all; at all events, notuntil Walter has got the chessmen-that is, if hedoes win them. In any case, we can't get into amuch worse row than we shall if we tell about it."There was a general expression of assent, inwhich Hawkins alone did not join."Very well," said Dixon, "that's agreed then.And now I suppose I had better go and pastethe silver paper over the lining. I have got apiece in my desk that will exactly do.""Walter," said Dixon, as they walked into theplayground after tea that evening, "what wereyou wanted for in the parlour T I forgot to askyou.""Oh, there was a man there-a strange foreign-looking fellow. He is that young Cave's father.He wanted to see me.""Wanted to see you !" repeated Dixon, in sur-prise. " What could he want with you "" Why it seems that he wants some one to lookafter his son here : help him with his lessons: put
32 WALTER'S FRIEND.him up to the ways of the school, and prevent himfrom being badgered, I suppose.""And he wanted you to do that, hey I Thatwould be a great nuisance, I should think."" A very great one," assented Mertoun. " Justabout the very last thing that I should choose."" And what made him pick you out, I wonder "said Dixon. "Was that Mrs. Young's doing orthe usher's "" Neither," said Mertoun. " It seems that thisMr. Cave, or Captain Cave, or whatever his namemay chance to be, is going out to Chusan, whereHarry is you know, and he offered to take anyletter or message from me to him."" That was civil of him, at all events," remarkedHawkins, who had just joined them, together withone or two more of the first-class boys."Well, it would have been," said Mertoun, "ifhe hadn't had his own motive for doing it; and Ishould have liked him better, if he had told meplump what his motive was.""I thought you said that he asked you to lookafter his son," said Dixon." No; he said nothing about it," said Walter."I think I should have refused point-blank, if hehad. It was Mrs. Young who spoke to me afterhe was gone. I didn't know how to refuse her.""I should have refused," remarked Smith, "let
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 33who might have asked me. Only fancy beingbothered with a young calf like that Are you todress and undress him, and see he takes properexercise and doesn't over-eat himself, I wonder'Walter's Pet' we'll call him. That will be thebest name for the young muff! Don't you thinkso, you fellows ?"" 'Walter's Pet' will be very suitable," saidEdward Thomas. "But you haven't mentionedWalter's most important duties. He'll have totake care that young Hopeful always knows hislessons, and does his sums right, and writes hiscopies without any blots. And if he misbehaves,Walter will have to be punished for him."" What was Mr. Cave like I" asked Hawkins,who noticed that Mertoun did not relish his com-panions' raillery." He was a tall, dark-complexioned fellow, witha black beard and whiskers, and dressed in avery odd manner," said Mertoun. " He was un-like anybody I have ever seen, and I should havetaken him for a Yankee, or a foreigner of somekind. He declared that he knew Harry by namealready, and Fred Seymour (Harry's old school-fellow you know who is now out with him inChina), quite intimately. He said he should callupon them both as soon as the Terpischore-that wasthe name of the ship-arrived at Chusan. But ID
34 WALTER'S FRIEND.don't fancy Harry will consider his acquaintanceto be any great honour, nor will Fred Seymoureither.""You didn't tell him so, I suppose," askedThomas, "did you ""No," said Walter coldly. "It's not my practiceto be rude to people. It is one thing to be civil,and another to accept favours.""Is he the captain of the ship ?" asked Brook."No; only a passenger, I believe. I couldn'tmake out whether he was a sailor or not. In fact,I said as little to him as I could without beinguncivil."" You didn't send a letter by him, then V" askedDixon."No," said Walter. "I sent neither letter normessage, though I didn't understand at the timewhat was his reason for offering. My idea wasthat he simply wanted to get an introduction toHarry, and perhaps that may have been one of hisreasons after all. Anyhow, I shall write by thispost to Chusan, and tell him all about this Mr.Cave. My letter will get there long before theTerpsichore.""Does Harry like Chusan " asked Hawkins."He didn't much fancy Hong Kong, I believe,did he ?""He doesn't like China at all," said Walter.
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 35"He will be very glad when the five yearsare up.""How long has he been in China S" askedDixon. " I remember he went out, just after therow with the half-breeds.' That was more thanthree years ago, if I don't mistake.""Three years this summer. He was two yearsat Hong Kong, and has now been a year atChusan. He writes me word that he thinks hemay have one change more, before coming home.""Fred Seymour hasn't been there so long, Ithink," observed Hawkins." Not by two years," said Walter. " He joinedHarry when he went to Chusan, and Harry wasuncommon glad to see him. It has made a greatdifference to him."" Walter," said Evans, who at that momententered the playground, " Mr. White has justadded up the score, and finds that you and Philipare even as regards numbers."" What's to be done, then 7" asked Brook. " Isthe prize to be determined by the highest scoreaccording to value I""Well no, it is not," said Everett, who hadaccompanied Evans. "I must say, I think it isvery hard on Philip, but Mr. White insists ondisregarding value altogether. It is to be reckonedas a tie; and the tie is to be shot out on the nextD2
36 WALTER'S FRIEND.half-holiday, that is to say, Thursday. The Doctorcame back some time in the afternoon, and heagrees to what Mr. White has arranged. I believehe means to come out and see the match shothimself.""All right about Mr. White's hat," said Dixonto Brook, as they met in the playground on thefollowing morning. " I flatter myself I made afirst-rate job of the lining. At all events hehasn't found out that there is anything wrong.He has been wearing the hat since. Burke sayshe saw him coming into the house last night withthe hat on, and he made no remark about it. Sowe may be easy on that score.""Glad of it," said Brook. "I make no doubtit would have put a stop to the tie match onThursday, if it had been found out. Most pro-bably all the school would have been punished intothe bargain. And really if the damage to the hatis so slight, that Mr. White himself can't find itout, there can be no need to tell him."So reasoned Brook; so has many a schoolboybefore him reasoned; and so, I suppose, will manyschoolboys continue to reason to the end of time.The deceit here practised only slightly concernsthis present story, as the reader will learn in theensuing chapter; but it should not be passed overwithout grave notice, nevertheless. The reasoning
MR. WHITE'S HAT. 37comes from the Father of Lies, and is as false as itsparent. In after life, grave and thoughtful menare able to trace many a failure in their own ca-reers, as well as in those of others, many a grievoussin, nay, many a course of deadly crime, to earlyfalsehoods like these. But only in the great Dayof Account, when the true history of all men'slives is laid bare, will it be known how fearful anamount of evil has arisen from that maxim-unhappily so widely believed in by boys, that it is" all fair to deceive their masters, provided that noharm is done."
38CHAPTER III.CUMBROOK MEADOWS."WEDNESDAY passed away without any unusualoccurrence, except that rain fell almost withoutintermission the whole day. The boys, who werefull of eagerness to witness the final encounter forthe chessmen, looked anxiously at the sky, as theygot up to dress on the following morning; andwere much relieved to see that it was bright andclear, not even a speck of cloud being anywherevisible. Morning school had never appeared sotedious as it did that morning; and the sound ofthe school clock striking twelve was welcomed withuniversal satisfaction. Books and slates were putaway; and the boys were rising to leave theschoolroom, when they were stopped by the HeadMaster, who desired them to stand up in front ofhis desk, as there was something he wished to sayto them.The boys soon arranged themselves in schoolorder, and then the Doctor began,-
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 39"This morning was appointed for the archerymatch between Walter Mertoun and PhilipHawkins, who, as I learn, were equal at the trialon Tuesday last. I meant to have gone out my-self to see the match, but I am sorry to say that Icannot suffer it to take place. It came to myknowledge almost immediately after the arrange-ment had been made, that one of the senior boyshad been guilty of a wanton piece of mischief anddisrespect; which it is impossible for me to passover. It was done, it appears, some time onTuesday afternoon; and I have been silent up tothis time, hoping that its author would have theright feeling to come forward, and say at least thathe was sorry for it."He paused, as if expecting some reply. No onespoke, and the Doctor resumed in a sterner tonethan before,-"All the first class are here, are they not No;I see Philip Hawkins is absent.""He is with Mrs. Young, sir," said Mr. White."But his absence is of no consequence.""So I understand," said the Doctor. "Well,boys, since no one has the manliness to speak, Imust further say that the mischief in question con-sisted in shooting an arrow through Mr. White'shat, during his accidental absence from the mead.It was a great piece of impertinence; and I should
40 WALTER'S FRIEND.have thought you, Walter Mertoun, one of thehead boys of the school, would not have allowedsuch a thing to be done-still less that you wouldhave been guilty of it yourself. Above all, itastonishes and disappoints me to find thatyou have not come forward and acknowledgedit. You do not, I presume, deny that you diddo it ?""I did shoot an arrow through a hat," saidWalter, who was confused and embarrassed bythe unexpected information that the hat had be-longed to the usher. "But I did not know-I did not intend-there was a mistake- ""Mistake! did not know! did not intend!"repeated the Doctor, angrily. " This only makesmatters worse. I have learnt, from the informationof one who was present at the time, that Mr.White's hat was actually fixed on the target as amark to shoot at. I am shocked that you shouldbe guilty of such untruth !"" I meant that I did not know the hat to beMr. White's," said Walter, more collectedly, andin a somewhat haughty tone; for his spirit wasroused by the charge of falsehood imputed to him."Whose hat did you think it was ?" inquiredthe Head Master.Mertoun hesitated. He did not like to say thathe had supposed it to be Edward Thomas's, as that
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 41would of course lead to an immediate questioningof his schoolfellow, who would be involved in thescrape." I thought it was one of the boy's hats," he saidat last. "And so I believe did every one else. IfI had found out that it was Mr. White's hat, Ishould have told him about it at once.""I am sorry to hear you say so," said Dr.Young; "for it is quite clear that whoever didthis, knew he had done it. A great deal of painshas been taken to hide the mischief. The holesmade by the arrow have been carefully covered up,and even a fresh lining paper pasted inside thehat. If Mr. White had not been told what hadbeen done, almost immediately after the occurrence,by some one who actually witnessed it, he mightnot have found it out for a long time. I cannottell you how this vexes me to find you capable ofsuch deceit.""I beg your pardon, sir," said Edward Thomas,stepping forward, while Mertoun stood proudlysilent; "but what Walter says is quite true. Itwas I who fixed Mr. White's hat on the target:but neither I nor any one else knew at the timewhose the hat was.""At the time " repeated the Doctor. "Well,any way, you discovered whose it was after-wards."
42 WALTER'S FRIEND." Yes, sir; but not until after Walter had leftus. He was sent for by Mrs. Young into thehouse, before we made the discovery."" But you told him of it afterwards, I suppose?"suggested the Doctor."No, sir; we did not.""Indeed," said the Doctor, dubiously. "Whynot ?"Thomas made no answer."And why did not you yourselves tell Mr."White what had happened 1" pursued Dr. Young." I know we ought to have done so, sir; but-but we thought we should get--" He pausedagain." That you would get punished, I suppose," saidthe Head Master. " You were very wrong, aswell as very foolish; and I am seriously displeased.Granting that you did not know the hat to beMr. White's, as I am willing to believe, still youhad no business to take, nor Mertoun any businessto shoot his arrows at, any one's hat. Mertounknew too that he had done somebody, at all events,an injury, and he was bound to make it good.I am glad to fnd that the thing is not quite sobad as I had supposed. Still it is bad enough;and I must take serious notice of it. I shall notallow the chessmen to be shot for at all until nextseason, and there will be no half-holiday on Satur-
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 43day next. If anything of the kind occurs again,the archery practice will be altogether forbiddenfor the season."" I am really very sorry, Walter," said Brook, aquarter of an hour afterwards, when the boys hadsat down under Morley's Elm, to discuss the matteramong themselves. "We ought to have told you,as Philip wanted us to do. But you see, Mr.White would have been dead sure to insist onyour forfeiting the chessmen, if he had heard of it.And the hat wasn't so much the worse after all.We all thought he would never find it out; at allevents not until the chessmen had been givenaway."" No, and he never would have found it out,"said Smith, " if some one had not told him."" I should like to know who the some one was,"observed Everett. "It ought to be known.""I have no doubt in my own mind who it was,"said Dixon. " It was that wretched little booby,young Cave."" What, 'Walter's Pet,'" exclaimed Thomas."Tell of his own nurse Never ""Keep that nonsense to yourself," said Mertoun,angrily. "Why do you say that, Dixon ""It would be just like him, at all events," saidSmith."Perhaps," said Mertoun. "But there ought
44 WALTER'S FRIEND.to be some better grounds than that for fasteningsuch a charge on him."" Well," said Dixon, "you heard the Doctor saythat Mr. White was told by some one who saw itdone, didn't you ""Of course I did. We all heard that. Butplenty of fellows,-all the school in fact--saw itdone.""I daresay; but the Doctor said that Mr. Whitewas told 'immediately' afterwards. Now, if youremember, young Cave and Walter were sent forinto the house, just after the arrow had been shot.""That is true, so they were," said Brook. "Ihad forgotten that. And no one else saw MrWhite till after supper; for I recollect now thathe did not come back into the mead all the after-noon. Yes, if he was told almost 'immediatelyafterwards,' by any one who was present at thetime, it must have been either by this young Cave,or else by Walter himself; and I suppose youdidn't tell him, Walter 1" he added with a laugh." No," said Walter, gravely. " I did not knowthe rights of the matter, and therefore could nottell Mr. White. I must say I wish I had. Butit's no use talking of that now. I really think,"he added, turning to Dixon, "I really think youmust be right about this. I left little Cave withhis father and Mr. White when I went away. I
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 45rather think they all three went to the RailwayStation together; and I heard Sally say, Dr. Youngreturned not above half-an-hour after they had leftthe house."" Yes, and Mr. White spoke to the Doctor aboutit that same evening," added Dixon. "It's a clearcase. That young Cave must have done it."" I don't think you have any business to makesure of that," said Hawkins. " You ought at leastto question him about it first."" Question him," said Mertoun, " I am tired todeath with questioning him as it is, and answeringhim too.""What, you find 'the pet' a great bother, doyou I " asked Smith."I find him a great bother," said Mertoun,"and his friend Mr. White a still greater. Theyoung ass is continually getting into some scrapeor other, and I am continually being called upand lectured about it. Yesterday morning someone had hidden away his books, and I lost half-an-hour at least in helping him to find them.Yesterday afternoon he was terrified out of hiswits, because the boys persuaded him he wasdangerously ill, and I was fetched in out of theplayground to prevent him from going to Mrs.Young, as he was on the point of doing. Lastnight Sally came to tell me that Tommy Anderson
46 WALTER'S FRIEND.and Thompson were going to tell ghost stories intheir room, in order to frighten him; and I had todress again and go to the other end of the house toput a stop to it. This morning he couldn't say hislesson; and Mr. White lectured me, I don't knowhow long, about it. It appeared that somebody (noone could make out who) had told him the wronglesson. The juniors are for ever playing tricks offupon him.""And so they will continue to do," said Everett,"so long as he continues to be such a youngnincompoop as he is now.""Just so," said Walter; "but the nuisance ismore than I can put up with. I had half madeup my mind that I would have no more to do withhim, as it was. But if he is going to sneak andtell tales to the masters, I shall have done with himat once.""Of course you have a right to do that," saidHawkins. "But I must say again I think youought to ask him about it, before you settle thathe has been telling tales.""Well, I have no objection to ask him," saidMertoun. "Here, Teddy, I want you. Did Dr.Young, or did Mr. White, ask you any questionsabout the business of his hat 1""Dr. Young didn't ask me anything," said Teddy."Well, did Mr. White I"
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 47" He put some questions to me about it, two orthree days ago," faltered the little fellow, who wasabashed by the unfriendly looks which the first-class boys turned on him."And what did you tell him ?""I told him nothing-that wasn't true. I onlytold him what I had seen," gasped Teddy, morealarmed than ever. " He asked me-"" You did, did you !" said Mertoun, interruptinghim. " Well, you have not been here very long,but I think you might have known better thanthat. I advise you not to do it again.""And I advise you to take yourself off now,"added Dixon, "we can get on quite well withoutyou. Well, Walter, what do you mean to do thisafternoon ? We can't have the match, but wecan amuse ourselves some other way.""I vote we go down to Rob's meadow," sug-gested Brook. " There are some capital nests inthe trees close to the brook, and it is not too latein the year to take them."" Done with you," said Mertoun. "But it is along way round now to Cumbrook Mill. There isno bridge for two miles, is there ?""We can cross the stream about twenty orthirty yards above the mill," said Dixon. " Someposts have beerf driven in, and planks laidacross. They will bear our weight well enough.
48 WALTER'S FRIEND.I have seen the mill boy go across several timeslately."The whole party proceeded to the spot, andfound that Dixon was right, though the posts werevery shaky, and the stream unusually strong at thepoint described. But boys are seldom troubledwith nervous fears. One after another all scram-bled lightly across, even Teddy,-who, notwith-standing his rebuff, continued to attend on Walter'ssteps-reaching the other side in safety, though inmanifest alarm. Mertoun gave him some help,though somewhat ungraciously, being plainly enoughtired of the chaperonage he had assumed."There are the nests," cried Dixon, pointing tosome trees on the further side of the meadow."Come along, let us see who can get there first."The boys ran off at full speed, and had almostreached the trees, when a cry was heard in thedistance. Looking back, they saw little Cave stillstanding on the bank of the stream, evidently in astate of great alarm." What's the matter now, I wonder!" exclaimedMertoun." He has hurt himself, I suppose," suggestedHawkins."You must go back and see after your 'Pet,'said Smith.Walter hesitated before complying. He was
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 49weary of the boy, and the name "Walter's Pet"was beginning to irritate him a good deal. Besides,Dixon and Brook were already halfway up one ofthe trees, and it seemed not unlikely that all thespoil would fall into their clutches, before he couldreturn from the brook."Well, what is it'" inquired Mertoun, as hecame up. "Are you hurt I" added Hawkins, whohad accompanied him."No," said Teddy, "I am not hurt. Only Iam afraid. I aren't pass the dog there." As hespoke, he pointed to a large sheepdog, which waslying apparently sound asleep, stretched on a heapof straw at a short distance."The dog-what old Mop there!" exclaimedMertoun. "Why he's the most harmless creaturealive Come along, you needn't mind him." Andas he spoke, he again set off at a sharp run torejoin his companions; who had by this timeagain reached terra firm, bearing with them thefirst fruits of the spoil."Oh, but, Mertoun, do come back. Take mewith you. Please do! I really aren't go by thedog, I aren't indeed." Walter paused, irresolutefor a moment, and fearing to miss altogether hisshare of the spoil. His good nature, however pre-vailed for the time, and he turned back. " Come,then," he said, "give me your hand. But youE
50 WALTER'S FRIEND.must really learn not to be such a coward. Why,my little brother, who is three years youngerthan you at the least, wouldn't have been half asmuch frightened. Well, Brook," he continued, ashe again reached the group assembled under theelms, " what success have you had 1"" Oh, pretty good. Dixon has found a missel-thrush's nest with four eggs in it, and I've found achaffinch's with five. But there's the nest up there,just in the fork of that high elm. It is a magpie'sI expect, and that will be worth taking. Andthere are some nests out there too in that clump.Rob told me that some hawks build there some-times, and Philip here says he knows where somewater-hens are sitting, two or three hundred yardsdown the brook."" Very well," said Mertoun. " We had betterdivide our forces. Let me go after the magpie'snest, and you are welcome to the rest."The party accordingly divided; Brook andHawkins setting forth to explore the banks insearch of the water-hens; Dixon and Smith goingin quest of the hawk's nest, while Mertoun himselfproceeded to climb the tree under which theyhad been standing. He soon found that he hadundertaken a very difficult task. The stem wasin some places perfectly straight, and withoutbranches for ten or twelve feet together. It wasextremely difficult to swarm it; and a less bold
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 51boy would have desisted from the attempt. ButWalter was not to be beaten. He climbed steadilyand cautiously on until he had reached the fork ofhe branch, on the further end of which the nestwas built. He was near enough to see that it wascertainly a magpie's nest, and that it containedseveral eggs. It was, however, difficult to reach iteven now. The bough was much too slender tomake it safe for him to climb along it; and therewas no other branch within his reach by whichhe could hold. He took out his knife, and cut offa small stick some two or three feet long, with ahook at the end. By the help of this he hoped topull the end of the bough back so as to bring thenest within reach. He was vainly endeavouringto secure a hold on the twigs to which it wasattached, when there came a loud scream fromTeddy Cave, whom he had left seated on the bankof the stream below. Mertoun started, and almostfell out of the tree. " What's the matter now "he shouted.Teddy made no answer in words, but continuedto scream louder than before."Hold your tongue, will you, you young idiot !"continued Mertoun, angrily. "The people in theroad will hear the noise you are making, andperhaps run off to tell the Doctor, and there willbe a row about it."Finding that Teddy paid no heed to his remon-E 2
52 WALTER'S FRIEND.strances, Mertoun was obliged to throw away hisstick and descend from the tree. He reached theground just as Brook, who had caught the alarm,came up out of breath, to know what was thematter.The little boy for some time could make noanswer to their inquiries. He sat pale and trem-bling, and could only point to a spot on the bank afew feet distant."What has frightened you " said Mertoun."Was it the dog again, or what 1""No, it was a snake-a venomous snake," almostscreamed the little boy;-" it passed almost closeto me. I thought it would have bitten me. Andif it had, I should have been dead before I couldget home.""Bosh !" exclaimed Brook; "it was nothingbut a blue snake. I know there are some of themabout here. I saw one last summer."" Oh, but they bite," said Teddy; " and no onethat is bitten ever recovers."" They don't do anything of the sort," said Mer-toun. "Look here; we can't be bothered withthis kind of thing any more. At least, I won't.You had best go straight home and stay there tillyou are fit to go about like other people. Do youhear ? You know the way by which we came, Isuppose, and you had better go straight backby it."
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 53"Hadn't some one better go back with him 1"suggested Brook, who had noticed the blank lookwhich overspread the little boy's face as he heardthis suggestion." There is no need for that," said Mertoun, some-what impatiently. "There can't be the least dangerin his walking along a straight road, I suppose, andeven Mop is not there now: I saw him go offwith one of Rob's men while I was up in the elm.I want you to help me, George, in getting themagpie's nest. It is in such an awkward place thatit is almost impossible to take it alone; but withyour help I think I can manage it. Now, be off,young one; we can't have you here any longer,or you will be setting up another scream as soon aswe are well up in the tree."Teddy obeyed meekly. He set off slowly in thedirection indicated, stopping every now and then tolook back, and then loitering on as though he hopedthat he might still be allowed to rejoin his com-panions. They paid but little heed to him."You see, George," said Mertoun, "it's amagpie's nest, and I am pretty sure there areseveral eggs in it, though I can't see very clearlythrough the hole. The bough on which it is builtsticks straight out from the tree. There is nobranch above or below which one could climbalong to get at it, and it is too weak itself tosupport one's weight. I have been trying to bend
54 WALTER'S FRIEND.it by the help of a hooked stick, but I am afraid itis too tough for that. The only way will be to cutthe bough off. If you have got your knife-sawwith you, I think we can manage it.""All right," said Brook, producing the well-remembered knife from his pocket. " It's in verygood order. I had it reset only last week."" That's all right then," said Mertoun. "Nowthen, if you and I both get up into the tree, thelarge fork there just below the branch will bear usboth. One of us can hold the end ot the boughwhile the other saws.""I am ready," said Brook. "I don't knowwhat's become of Philip. He must be further off-in the willow clump, I suppose. But we cango and look after him, when we have got the nest."They set to work accordingly,-Mertoun, whowas the better climber, going first, and loweringhis handkerchief tied to Brook's, to help his com-panion in the more difficult points of ascent. Inthis manner they reached at last the fork of theelm, and began sawing the bough at the furthestpart which they could conveniently reach. It wasthicker than they had expected, and the wood wastough. They had got about halfway through it,when Brook suddenly stopped." Hallo," said he-" did you hear a shout 1""I think I did," said Mertoun." Listen There it is again," said Brook. They
CUMBROOK MEADOWS. 55both listened, and could distinctly hear the voiceof some one at a distance calling out for help." It's only that young booby Cave," said Mer-toun; "he's frightened again at something, Isuppose-another dog, or a cow, or a cat perhaps.I really can't bother myself about him anymore.""We can go and look after him when we havegot the nest," suggested Brook."Yes, if you like it," said Mertoun. "Only letus work away now."They resumed their task, and presently suc-ceeded in severing the bough. Mertoun drew theend towards them and disengaged the nest. "Letus get out of the tree," he said, "and we willexamine it below."They soon reached terra firma again. It wasfound that their prize contained five eggs, of agreenish-white striped with brown; and the nestitself was found to be no way injured. They werestill engaged in admiring its curious construction-the smooth coating of mud inside, and the thornydome which surmounted it-when they were againstartled by a scream louder and more prolongedthan before. Looking round, they saw Dixon andSmith hurrying along the bank of the brooktowards the mill at the top of their speed; whileHawkins, emerging from the opposite side, alsoset off running in the same direction.
56 WALTER'S FRIEND." Something has happened to that young Cave,"exclaimed Brook.Mertoun made no answer. He dropped the nestand tore after his companions, at a pace which leftBrook far behind. He reached the gate just intime to see Dixon and Smith stop on the edge ofthe mill-pool with horror-stricken faces as theycaught sight of some object in the stream below."What is it ?-what is it " shouted Mertoun,as loud as his exhaustion would allow." It is that poor little Cave," gasped Dixon."Here, Rob, Mrs. Warren, Stephen. Help, help,for heaven's sake! He will be drawn into themill-wheel and killed as sure as fate, if some onedoesn't get him out! Make haste, make haste, orit will be too late."
57CHAPTER IV.THE MILL-WHEEL.MEANWHILE the little boy had moved on along thebank, looking cautiously round him at every step.He was in terror lest another snake should makeits appearance, from among the dense rushes whichbordered the brook, and spring suddenly upon him.His ideas on the subject of snakes were very dif-ferent from those of his companions. While theywere passing a few months in the island of Ceylon,about two years before, he remembered well one ofthe native servants being bitten by a cobra. Herecollected watching the poor man's terror and agony,his writhing limbs and distorted features; until hispresence in the room had been discovered, whenhe had been forcibly carried away by his nurse.He had seen and heard enough, however, to pro-duce an impression, which it would be difficult toshake off. He knew also that the servant haddied not more than a quarter of an hour after hehad left the room, and had been buried the same
58 WALTER'S FRIEND.evening. He knew nothing of the distinctionbetween venomous and harmless snakes, and wasconvinced that if he should chance to be bitten bya monster like the one he had just seen, he woulddie in the same dreadful manner as poor Alee haddone. His present life was indeed a great trial tothe poor little fellow. Up to his fifth year he hadnever been a day absent from his mother, whohad had no other object on which to bestow heraffection; for her husband was often absent formonths together, and, even when at home, wascontinually occupied by the calls of business. Whenshe died, the Cingalese nurse, to whose care shecommitted him, had cherished him with an affectionwhich was scarcely less than that of a parent. Allthe servants, English and native, vied with eachother in ministering to his fancies. His father too,who since his mother's death had been muchoftener at home, had been kind and indulgent toan unusual extent. The sudden removal to astrange land, and the companionship of personswho regarded him with surprise and dislike, wasindeed hard to bear. There was no one, so hethought, who cared for him in the least in this newlife. Every one treated him, as if his very presencewas a grievance to them. He was not only deniedwhat he wanted, but was teased and laughed at forwanting it. Whatever trouble or danger mightbeset him, he got no help or sympathy, but was
THE MILL-WHEEL. 59even scolded as though it had been his fault. Howhe wished his father would come back again, as hehad promised; and then no doubt he could be per-suaded to take him away from this place, and livewith him again. He could write as soon as hegot back to Dr. Young's, and tell him all histroubles-that was his only comfort.Wrapt in these sad thoughts he reached at lastthe mill-stream, into which the brook flowed. Hisfurther progress was now stopped by the dam, inthat place about twenty feet broad, but narrowingrapidly to a width of not more than four feet atthe point where it entered the mill-wheel. Forsome distance before reaching this latter, it wasenclosed on either side by stone walls, which roseto the height of three or four feet above the levelof the water. The stream had once been crossedby a hand-bridge; but this had been carried awaya few weeks before; and there were now only twoor three strong posts driven into the bed of theriver with a plank secured to them by nails, and ahandrail attached; affording a somewhat precariouspassage. Teddy did not notice that the boys inrushing hastily over the plank had broken thefastenings which secured it to the central post.Nevertheless the whole structure appeared to himso frail, that he could not venture to trust himselfto it. He again stood still perplexed and irresolute.He had always been accustomed to obedience; and|Wk
60 WALTER'S FRIEND.he had a vague idea that Walter Mertoun hadbeen in some measure placed in authority over him.He felt therefore that he ought to go home; butevery time he set his foot upon the plank, his heartfailed him, and he drew back. As he looked help-lessly round, his eye caught sight of some men twoor three fields off, and he shouted to them, as loudas he was able, to come to his help. They did notappear to hear him; and after one or two attemptshe desisted. His uneasiness grew greater withevery minute that passed. Presently there was arustling in the hedge close by; the next minute amonster with two large horns issued from it, andwith a loud bellow rushed straight at him. For-getting everything in his terror, Teddy darted on tothe bridge. The plank gave way as he reached themiddle, and with a shrill scream he fell into thewater, still clinging to the hand-rail, which he hadgrasped in his fall. This for a while supportedhim, the boy continuing to utter shriek after shriekfor help. Unfortunately there was no one toanswer them. Rob, the miller, and two of his men,were out with the cart at Knowlton; the man leftin charge of the mill was stone deaf; and Mrs.Warrenwas at the further end of her garden. Slowlythe boy felt the rail give way under his hold; thelast nail yielded, and he was swept down the currentdirectly towards the wheel. As he neared it, theeddy carried him against the wall, and his eye
THE MILL-WHEEL 61lighted on an iron ring and a few links of chain, towhich the punt was sometimes fastened. He caughtconvulsively at it, and once more succeeded inarresting his career.Just at this moment Dixon and Smith rushed up,and caught sight of the mortal peril in which theirschoolfellow stood. They were almost paralysed withterror: it seemed impossible to render him any help.The wall was too high for them to reach him withtheir hands; and there was neither rope, boat, norladder anywhere in sight. They could do nothingbut shout for assistance. A minute afterwardsMertoun appeared upon the scene, and had no soonerunderstood the state of affairs, than, running to theedge of the wall, regardless of his companions'remonstrances, he plunged straight into the stream.He was a strong and bold swimmer; but his utmostexertions only just enabled him to reach the spotwhere the little boy was still clinging to the chainwith the tenacity of despair."Don't be afraid, Teddy," he shouted, "I'll takecare of you." As he spoke, he passed his left armround the boy's waist, and seized the iron linkswith the other. "Now Dixon, George, Smith,knot your handkerchiefs together and you maydraw us both out."The boys complied, and, tearing off their bracesand handkerchiefs, they knotted them together aswell as they were able, and soon formed a rude
62 WALTER'S FRIEND.sort of rope four or five feet long, which theydropped over the edge of the wall." Now, Teddy, catch hold of that, and they willdraw you up all right."Teddy tried to obey, but he was too much ex-hausted to hold the rope."Thank you, dear Walter," he muttered feebly;"but I really can't. You had better let me go, oryou may be drowned yourself.""I will never do that," said Mertoun; "wewill be saved or drowned together. Here, try ifyou can make the rope a little longer, so that wemay tie it under his armpits.""Can't you push him up a little, Walter," saidBrook, who was lying upon the edge of the stonewall, reaching over as far as he could, with Dixonand Smith holding on to his legs. "If you couldlift him a foot or so higher, I think I couldcatch hold of his collar."Walter made the attempt. Thrusting one ofhis feet into a hole in the wall, and graspingfirmly the top link of the chain with one hand, hetried to lift his companion with the other. Butthe boy was now wholly insensible, and lay a deadweight on his arm. His utmost exertions couldonly lift him a few inches. His own strength toowas evidently giving way."Catch hold of my hand, Walter, pray, pray do,"cried Brook, frantically, as he saw the look of ex-
THE MILL-WHEEL. 63haustion passing over Mertoun's features. "Youcannot save him. You will be drowned yourself."Walter shook his head feebly. The boys, para-lysed with horror, stood with their eyes fixed onthe two figures, which were lying but a few feetbeneath them, in the very jaws, as it seemed, of afrightful death. A shriek burst from them as theysaw Mertoun's hold at last give way, and the bodiesswept helplessly down the stream. But at thesame moment there came a sudden cessation ofthe noise of the wheel; and Philip Hawkins camerushing out of the mill followed by old deaf StephenKirby, who had at last been made to understandwhat was passing, and had turned the water off justin time. With his help, and that of one or two ofthe neighbours, who had now been attracted tothe spot, both boys were drawn out-Teddy quiteunconscious of what was passing; Walter veryfeeble and exhausted. Neither boy however hadbeen long enough in the water to be in any seriousdanger. In the course of an hour, little Cave wassufficiently recovered to put on the dry clotheswhich had been fetched from the school-house, andwalk home with Walter's assistance. Mrs. Youngjudged it advisable that he should go immediatelyto bed; and Mertoun, at his own express request,went upstairs to keep him company.The little fellow's eyes brightened as he saw theelder boy enter. " I am so glad you are come," he
64 WALTER'S FRIEND.said; " I want to thank you-to thank you everso many times, for saving my life. If it had notbeen for you, I should have been broken up in thatdreadful wheel.""You owe your life more to Philip than to me,"said Walter, smiling. "If he had not had thepresence of mind to do, what I stupidly neverthought of, all I did would have been of verylittle avail.""Ah, but he did not risk his life as you did,"resumed Teddy, clasping his schoolfellow's handsmore tightly than before. "I shall love you always,dear Walter, if you will let me-love you betterthan anybody, except Papa. I did not think any-body was ever going to be so kind to me again."Walter was greatly touched by the simpleearnestness of the child. He bent over him andsmoothed his hair. " I am afraid you have not beenvery kindly used since you have been here," hesaid; "I have not used you well myself, Teddy.I ought to have thought more of your beingstrange to the ways of the place. How came youto tumble into the water? I saw that the plankof the bridge was broken down, but no one knowshow it was done.""I will tell you if you won't be angry," saidTeddy, with a timid glance in his companion's face.Then, reassured by Walter's look, he proceeded:-"I was afraid to step on the plank. It looked as if it
THE MILL-WHEEL. 65would not bear my weight; and then a strange-looking creature, that seemed to me something likea buffalo, only it was rather larger, burst out of thehedge, and ran at me with its horns.""That must have been one of Rob's cows," saidWalter, smiling; "it has got a calf, and thatmakes it attack people. But if you had stood yourground, Teddy, it would have run away from you.""I did not know that," said the boy; "I knowit is a very dangerous thing to be gored by a stagor a buffalo. I ran on to the bridge to get out ofits way. Then somehow or other I found myselfplunged into the water, and I hardly rememberanything distinctly after that, till I found myselflying on Mrs. Warren's bed."" Well, it has been a most happy escape," saidMertoun; " and I am as glad, as can be, of it. Ithink if you had been badly hurt, or drowned,I should never have been happy again. You mustalways go about with me for the future, until youget used to things in England. It is quite differenthere from what it is in India and China, and whereyou have been living. There are very few wildanimals here, and even those are almost all harm-less. I have seen some of the snakes, that comefrom those hot countries, in the Zoological Gardens;and I know that if they bite any one, he is pretty sureto die almost immediately afterwards. But no snakehere is venomous, except an adder, and even the biteF
60 WALTER'S FRIEND.of that is not dangerous, if proper remedies are used.The cows and oxen in the fields hardly ever meddlewith any one, and will run away if they are boldlyfaced. I wonder your father did not tell you so."" I have no doubt he would," said Cave, " onlyhe has been with me very little since we havebeen in England. If I could only see him everynow and then, I should not mind it so much."Mertoun felt he was growing more and moreinterested in his companion. "Is he very kind toyou, Teddy i" he said softly." Oh, so kind !" said the child ; " I don't thinkany one ever was so kind as he is. Until mammadied, I hardly ever saw him. I was with her, youknow, and he was almost always away on businesssomewhere or other. But the night after she wasburied, he had my cot moved into his bedroom,and told me he would try to be both father andmother to me, as I had lost mamma. And sincethat time I have always gone about with him,wherever he went. He used to teach me my les-sons, and take me out for walks and rides, and tellme stories. I have never been away from himfrom that time, until we came to England."" And why did he part with you now 1 ""The doctors told him that I should get veryweak and ill if I stayed out there, and that I mustgo to England until I was grown up. Papa saidit very nearly broke his heart to part with me,
THE MILL-WHEEL. 67and he meant to try and see if he could not manageto live in this country himself. He brought me toEngland the very week after Dr. Cooper told himabout me. He said he would not run the risk of mygetting ill; but as soon as he had arranged every-thing about my staying here, he would go out againand settle his business matters as qtick as he could.""I suppose it will not take very long to do that,"suggested Walter."He said it might be one, or nearly two years.But he will write to me by every mail. And Iwas to write to him always once a fortnight, andkeep a journal of what passed here for him to see.""And have you kept it since you have beenhere 1" asked Walter." Oh, yes, of course !" said the boy, somewhatsurprised. "Papa told me to do so, you know. Ishowed it to him, when he was here last week.Would you like to look at it before it goes out tohim ?" he added simply. "I think I would rathershow it to you than to any one.""No, Teddy, I don't think you ought to showit to any one, but your father. You see there is noharm in your telling him anything, of course; butone of the things you will have to learn here, is notto be too ready to talk about what goes on in theschool, particularly to the masters. The boys won'tmake any allowances, you see, for your not under-standing their ways. They were angry with youF2
68 WALTER'S FRIEND.this morning for telling Mr. White who shot thearrow through his hat the other day. Not that Iminded its being known; and if I had been awarethat I had done it, I should have told him aboutit myself. But it is a different thing telling ofoneself, and of another person.""Mr. White's hat !" exclaimed Teddy in sur-prise. " It wasn't I who told him about that; itwas Waters. You remember I stopped behind totalk to papa after you were gone."" Oh, yes. You were with him an hour or more,I believe," said Mertoun." Well, when he went away Mr. White said hewould walk up to the station, and sent Waters forhis hat. Waters was a long time finding it, andwhen he brought it, he had a sort of smile on hisface. I suppose that made Mr. White look at it,and he found some one had been meddling withthe lining. He insisted upon Waters telling himwhat he knew about it, and Mrs. Young threatenedto complain to the Doctor if he did not, and thenWaters was obliged to tell."Mertoun was silent. He felt fully assured thatthe little boy had spoken the truth, and he againblamed himself for his hasty judgment. He hadbeen in every way unjust and unkind to thispoor little fellow, whom he had promised to be-friend; and felt now, more than ever, how greatwould have been his self-reproach, if the terrible
THE MILL-WHEEL. 69catastrophe, which he had so narrowly escaped, hadbefallen him. He resolved that he would do hisbest to atone for his fault, and during the remainderof the half-year he kept manfully to his deter-mination. He began by telling the first class,that he had discovered it was all a mistake as toTeddy's having told Mr. White about the hat;Teddy had nothing whatever to do with it. He alsosaid that he thought neither he nor the others hadmade sufficient allowance for the boy's ignorance ofEnglish habits, and he hoped that any one who hadany regard for him, would show it by being verykind for the future to Teddy. It was surprisingwhat a difference this speech, and the occurrenceof the morning, made in the demeanour of theboys generally. From being the butt of the school,Teddy became a prime favourite with every one; andif he had not been unusually sweet-tempered andsimple-hearted, he would have run a considerablerisk of being spoilt. The boy who had the nextdesk to Walter Mertoun, volunteered to give it upto Teddy. He was thus enabled to refer any dif-ficulty in his lessons, or in the routine of the school,to his patron. He soon learned to take part in thegames and amusements of his schoolfellows. Evenbefore the end of the first half-year the strangenessof the place had quite worn off; and if it had notbeen for his anxiety respecting his father-who hadnot returned to bid him good-bye, in accordance
70 WALTER'S FRIEND.with his promise, or once written to him since thelast day of their meeting-he would have been per-fectly happy. He still retained the sobriquet ofWalter's Pet; but it was no longer a taunt, andneither he nor Mertoun was annoyed at its use.But there was one boy in Charlton who did notshare the general liking for Teddy Cave. This wasWilliam Dixon. The reader has heard how, andwith what motives, he had attached himself toWalter Mertoun. His great object was to secure,if possible, an invitation to Winterbourne Parkduring the summer holidays. There was a gooddeal to be said for him on this subject. Indeed, itwould have been hard to blame him, if he had notendeavoured to compass his purpose by underhandmeans. His father was poor, and could not afforda jaunt during the holidays to the seaside, or anycountry place. He had no relatives out of London,with whom he could pass his holidays. These werespent in a narrow poky house, in the very dullestpart of dreary London, without companions andwithout amusements. The reports that had cometo his ears of Mr. Mertoun's beautiful park nearSt. Albans, with its gardens and hothouses full ofthe most splendid fruit; its stretches of emeraldturf, where cricket and croquet might be playedin perfection; its small but picturesque lake,with the islands and pleasure-boats, and all theother delights of Walter Mertoun's home, filled
THE MILL-WHEEL. 71him with a longing which he could not repress.Moreover, it was known that Mr. Mertoun hadgiven his son leave to bring one of his schoolfellowsto pass the summer with him. He had played hisgame skilfully and persistently, and for a long time,as he was fully persuaded, successfully. Amongother means of ingratiating himself with Mertoun,he had shown especial kindness to little EdwardCave. Teddy, who had not forgotten Dixon's usageof him at the beginning of the half-year, at firstreceived his advances rather doubtfully. But hisdistrust gradually gave way; and before the end ofthe half-year, Dixon's name had been entered in hisjournal as that of one of his best friends. But oneday a chance speech of Walter's entirely changedDixon's demeanour towards the little boy.They had just been speaking about the archeryparties at Winterbourne, which took place once amonth, Walter said, during the summer. The nextwas fixed for Thursday, July 1st, the day after thebreaking up of Dr. Young's school. Mertoun askedDixon whether he would like to be present, be-cause, if so, his father had authorised him to invitehim to it.The latter, it needs not to say, caught eagerlyat the invitation. " Oh, I should like so muchto go," he said; "there is nothing I should likebetter. How very kind of you, Walter. May Ireally go with you to Winterbourne 2"
73 WALTER'S FRIEND." Oh yes, of course we should all go together,"was the reply; " that is, if the Doctor and yourfather agree.""My father would agree, I can answer forthat," said Dixon, "and I'll write at once to makesure. But I don't know what the Doctor wouldhave to do with it. He has no concern withwhere the boys go during the holidays, youknow."" He has no concern with where you go," saidMertoun, smiling, " but he has with where TeddyCave goes.""Teddy Cave !" exclaimed Dixon, in surprise,"what has he to do with the matter I"" Only this," said Mertoun, " that my father haswritten to Dr. Young, and asked Teddy to pass hissummer holidays at our house. I don't supposethe Doctor will make any difficulty about it."" No, I should think not," said Dixon bitterly,for his vexation was for the moment too much forhis self-command; "he'd be only too glad to bewell rid of him during the holidays, I expect."" If he consents," said Mertoun, not noticingthis speech, " we can all three travel to St. Albanstogether. The carriage will meet us at the St.Albans station, and take us to Winterbourne.My father goes to London every Saturday morning:so you had better stay till then; and he will beable to take you back with him."
THE MILL-WHEEL. 73Dixon was not wrong in supposing that Dr.Young would willingly consent to little Cave'saccompanying his friend to Winterbourne. Inde-pendently of his liking for the poor little boy,and his compassion for his lonely position, he wasanxious to secure for him the notice of a manlike Mr. Mertoun. The boy's presence in Charltonwas daily becoming a more serious difficulty. He hadbegun to fear-what, as yet, no one else suspected-that the boy had been left on his hands by aclever impostor; who wished to secure for his sonan education, for which he had neither the meansnor the inclination to pay. The reader has alreadybeen told that Dr. Young had recently sustainedsome heavy losses, which obliged him to practise themost rigid economy. It was impossible for him tokeep Teddy, and give him a gratuitous education.But what was he to do with him ? He could notbring himself to send the boy to the workhouse;yet that seemed the only place open to him. Inthis perplexity, he had thought of asking Mr.Mertoun's advice and assistance. The latter, as aleading member of one of the great London Com-panies, had sometimes the opportunity of givingaway nominations to charitable schools; andperhaps he might be induced to bestow one onthe luckless little wight, who had made his entreeafter so strange a fashion at Charlton. Nothingwould be so likely to interest Mr. Mertoun in his
74 WALTER'S FRIEND.favour, as the circumstance of the boy's being hisown guest and protigi. It was therefore withgreat satisfaction that he beheld him depart, incompany with Walter and Dixon, at the beginningof the summer holidays.His satisfaction was shared by two of the party,but not by the third. Dixon regarded the littleboy, on whom he had latterly bestowed a kindof ostentatious patronage, as being now a dan-gerous rival, who might altogether oust him fromWalter's favour. He left Winterbourne two daysafter the Archery fete, in high though concealeddudgeon; and this feeling was increased when, onthe return of the boys to Charlton for the winterhalf-year, he found that Teddy had come, to allappearance, to be regarded almost as one of themembers of Mr. Mertoun's family; every onehaving taken an extraordinary fancy to him.Dixon however was not the boy to throw up hisgame in despair, the moment that he felt it wasgoing against him. He resolved, more fixedlythan ever, to obtain the long-coveted invitation topass his holidays at Mr. Mertoun's house. As anecessary preliminary to this, he set himself tobreak off the intimacy between Walter and littleCave. The reader will learn in the followingchapters how far he succeeded.
75CHAPTER V.HARRY'S LETTER.IT was about the middle of September. WalterMertoun was seated in a kind of arbour which hehad constructed at the end of Lobb's mead, underthe high laurels of the Hermitage shrubbery.Teddy Cave had just left him, and was walking,book in hand, towards the house. Walter lookedcuriously and somewhat anxiously after him.Nearly four months had now passed since the affairof Cumbrook Mill, and during all that time, thekindly feeling between him and his little protegehad never been interrupted. But he was sensiblethat this was not the case as regarded his school-fellows. For some reason or other, Cave had lostthe general goodwill, so strongly evinced towardshim in the latter part of the last half-year. Theboys of his own class shrank from him; the seniorsseldom spoke to him, with the exception, that is,of Dixon, whose demeanour appeared to be un-changed. Before the holidays, he had been often seenmarking at cricket or archery for the first class-an occupation in which he took particular delight
76 WALTER'S FRIEND.-or engaged in a game of prisoners'-base, or hare-and-hounds, his voice the loudest and merriest ofthe players. But now, when not in Walter's com-pany, he would sit alone under Morley's elm, orwalk in the Hermitage shrubbery. Mertoun hadendeavoured once or twice to discover the secret ofthis change; but the boys were awkward and con-strained when he approached the subject. Dixon,in particular, stammered and hesitated, in a mannervery unusual with him. Once or twice he had ap-peared to be on the point of saying something, buthad changed his mind, before he gave it utterance.While he was pondering thus, he was joined bythe last-named boy, accompanied by Brook."Oh, here you are, Walter," said Dixon. " Weare collecting the money for Mrs. Young's picture;"which we have agreed, you know, to give theDoctor on his birthday.""Yes," said Mertoun; "but it wants six weeksor so to that yet.""I know," said Dixon; "but Mrs. Young isgoing to London on Monday next, and probablywill not go again before the end of October. Soshe must be photographed at once. They say too,that the artist who is to colour it, often takesseveral weeks in finishing his pictures. Thereforewe are getting in the money at once.""All right," said his schoolfellow. " How muchis it i "
HARRY'S LETTER. 77"We reckon it will be two shillings apiece forthe first class; eighteenpence for the second andthird; and the others a shilling.""Two shillings for me, that is," said Mertoun,producing his purse, " and a shilling for Cave.""No, that's just what we want to talk to youabout, Walter," said Brook, after glancing atDixon, as if expecting him to speak. "We really -think you ought not to pay any more for thisyoung Cave, if that really is his name.""If that is really his name, George," repeatedMertoun. " What do you mean I What else doyou suppose his name to be I""Well, George means that there's a differentname from Cave written in his books, and adifferent name marked on his linen, and he can'tgive any reason for it," said, Dixon."Has any one asked him 1" inquired Mertoun."Oh yes," said Dixon. " We all know yourinterest in him, and how kind you have been tohim. Indeed, I am interested in him myself, forthe matter of that. You may be sure that none ofus would take up anything against him if wecould help it. I, in particular, wouldn't. We haveall asked him once or twice about it.""About what ?" said Mertoun." About the name of Hammond being found inhis books, and on his stockings and shirts," saidDixon. " He said at first that his name was Ham-
78 WALTER'S FRIEND.mond, and he liked to be called Hammond; andafterwards that his father had chosen to call himCave. And when we asked him why, in that case,he liked to be called Hammond, he began to cry,and wouldn't say any more.""I think he would tell me," said Walter. "Butanyhow, what has this to do with the subscriptionfor Mrs. Young's photograph 1 I suppose his sub-scription would be the same, whatever his namemight be."" Yes," said Brook; " but the question is whetheryou ought to pay it for him I You see, we don'tlike taking your money, Walter. It isn't absolutelynecessary that every boy in the school should sub-scribe. The list had better be sent in to Dr.Young without his name.""I don't see why you should assume that I amgoing to pay for him," remarked Mertoun."Oh, that's nonsense, Walter," said Brook;"everybody knows you paid the cricket moneyfor him last summer; and the money for foot-ball and the Castle, at the beginning of this half;and even his bill for books at Darrell's."" Everybody is mistaken," said Mertoun. "Ididn't pay his subscription for foot-ball or theCastle, or the bookseller's bill either-that is tosay, I didn't pay it, as you seem to suppose, out ofmy own pocket. My father gave me some moneyfor him after the holidays, if you must know. I
HARRY'S LETTER. 79really wish you would tell me at once, what all thisto-do about Teddy means. Why can't the fellowsleave him alone "" You mustn't be angry with us, Walter," saidDixon; " we only don't like to see you taken in."" Taken in," repeated Mertoun. " How, I shouldlike to know? I don't see that it makes anydifference in him, whether his name is Hammondor Cave ; and that appears to be the only thingagainst him.""No, indeed it isn't," said Brook. "But, tospeak plainly, if you don't think this youngster tobe an impostor, you are the only person in Charltonwho doesn't.""An impostor !" exclaimed Mertoun. "I cannotunderstand what you mean by that! There maybe something wrong about Teddy-I suppose theremust be, as everybody, except myself, appears tothink so. But how can he possibly be an impostor ?"" What I mean is," said Brook, " that he pro-fesses himself to be a gentleman's son, as all theother boys here are; and that his schooling and allthe rest of it will be paid for, as ours are: whereashis father never has paid, and never means to pay,a sixpence, as is well known.""Well known," repeated Mertoun-" well knownto whom t"" Well known to the Doctor, and to Mrs. Young,and to Mr. White," returned Brook. " Dick Waters
80 WALTER'S FRIEND.was telling us what he had overheard the Doctorsaying about it, only last night.""Dick Waters is a regular gossip," said Mertoun," and is oftener wrong than right in what he says.Nothing ought to be believed against Cave on hisevidence only."" Ah; but it- isn't his evidence only," said Dixon."I am really sorry to vex you, Walter. .I knowhow great your interest in Cave is; and I havebeen unwilling to believe anything against him aslong as I could, for your sake. But Smith askedMr. White about it last night, and he said hewas afraid it was only too true. He told us Dr.Young had had a letter from the Bank yesterday,which left no further doubt upon the subject."" Did he really ?" said Walter, a good deal stag-gered at this evidence. "Well, any way, it is thispoor little fellow's father who is the impostor, andnot himself. He can have nothing to do with it."" I don't see that," said Dixon. " He mightconfess the truth. It isn't possible but what heknows it. Indeed it's clear he does. He needn'tpersist in saying his father is a rich man, and acaptainof a ship, and a merchant, when he knowshe's nothing of the kind."" And he needn't keep up the hoax of writinglong letters to his father every fortnight, andsending them out to Fow Chow, or some such out-landish place, though he has never had an answer to
HARRY'S LETTER. 81any one of them," added Brook. " Mr. White toldus that Dr. Young had twice written to the sameaddress, and had had no answer. And the banker,to whom Mr. Cave had referred the Doctor (asWilliam said just now) has written word that hehas never heard of such a person as Captain or Mr.Cave. Everybody is dead sure that he's a rogue,and I can't see how the boy can help knowing it."Mertoun did not know how to answer. He wasa good deal relieved when Hawkins at this momentjoined them, bow in hand, prepared to shoot amatch with him. He got up immediately to ac-company him."Well," he said, " I will think over what youhave said, and tell you to-morrow what I mean todo about Cave's subscription. I shan't uphold him,of course, if it is proved that his father is a cheat,and he has anything to do with it; but I reallycan't think that can be so after all."Four-and-twenty hours' consideration of the sub-ject confirmed him in this view. Ever since Junelast, as has already been said, had he and Teddybeen friends; and through all those months hehad never seen anything but what was honest andstraightforward in his little companion. He wouldnot distrust him-not, at all events, until he hadsome proof that he was unworthy of his trust. Hepaid the shilling to Dixon without a word ofremark, and resolved that there should be noG
82 WALTER'S FRIEND.difference observable in his demeanour towardsTeddy. But there was a difference, nevertheless,and one which the little boy was quick to perceive.There was a constraint in his manner, an expressionof doubt occasionally on his face, or a sudden stopin their conversation, which told Teddy only tooplainly what was passing in Walter's mind. Hegrew in consequence more shy and awkward him-self; and the distance between them insensiblywidened, as week after week went by, and therewas no explanation of the suspicious circumstanceswhich -as Dixon took frequent opportunities oftelling him-everybody but Walter regarded asdecisive; and about which he also was learning tothink everybody must be right.It was towards the end of October. The weatherwas unusually mild for the time of year, and theboys had been confined to the house for two orthree days by incessant rain. Walter was seatedat his desk, thinking how he was to answer a letterwhich he had received that morning from his father-asking him whether he wished to bring any of hisschoolfellows to stay with him at Winterbournethat Christmas, because there would only be roomfor one of them. He had all along intended to askTeddy Cave again; but of late he had begun todoubt whether he ought to do so. Doubtless theboy was to be pitied; but still, if his father wasdeliberately cheating Dr. Young, and Teddy knewit, he was not the fellow to be asked to Winter-
nARRY'S LETTER. 83bourne. And really it was impossible to deny thatthere were strong reasons for believing this Mr.Cave to be all that had been said of him. Itwas not only that everybody distrusted him-ushers, boys, servants, even Dr. Young-but theboy himself would give no kind of explanation ofthe strange circumstances of his case-shrankhabitually, indeed, from any reference to them; andsome of these it must be in his power to explain,if he chose. And how long was this to go onTeddy had now been at Charlton for five months;he might be there for five years, for anything thatany one knew, and all this time a regular cheatwas being practised-or, at all events, might be.No, the time must come sooner or later, when themystery would be cleared up, and the boy regardedas a partaker in his father's fraud.He was roused from his reverie at this momentby Waters, who put into his hand a letter whichhad just arrived." From Harry, I declare," he exclaimed joyfully,as his eye lighted on the envelope. "I did notexpect to hear again for a month at least."He broke the seal and read:-CHUSAN, Sept. 13, 18-.MY DEAR WALTER,-I was very glad indeed to get your nicelong letter. Living as you do in England, whereS2
84 WALTER'S FRIEND.you see and hear about friends every day, you canhardly imagine how anxious one gets to learn allthat is going on. Mind you write to me as oftenas you can. Everything you tell me will be sureto be interesting.I am glad to hear that the Doctor and Mrs.Young are well. I knew of their losses from myfather, and am glad he has been able to helpthem. He writes me word that the Doctor wasmost shamefully taken in.Talking of that, I hope he is not going tobe taken in again. This boy-this Edward Caveabout whom you write-I am afraid he must be ahumbug, and his father too. I should be prettysure to know the name of any considerable Englishmerchant, who carries on business in these parts,and I never heard the name of Cave in my life;nor is it known to any of the British residents inChusan. I took the trouble to ascertain the fact,when Mrs. Young's letter reached me several weeksago. It took some time to make the necessaryinquiries; but I am now quite satisfied that nosuch person is known here, and I have written toto tell her so. Nor was there any one of thatname in the list of the Terpsichore's passengers.Captain Symonds invited me to dine in the cabin,when the ship was here, and I met all the principalpassengers. I never even heard the name of Cavementioned. If I were Dr. Young, I should put
HARRY'S LETTER. 85the affair into the hands of a London detective;but in any case, I would have no more to do withthe boy.That's enough about him however. I dare sayyou would like some account of this strangecountry, which is as different from our own as itis possible to fancy anything. First of all the sea,which used to be green at Brighton, or blue atShanklin, is here as yellow as the yolk of an egg.The country, unlike our Hertfordshire hills, iseverywhere almost flat-everywhere, that is, asfar as I have travelled,-and instead of the grassmeadows and the woods and the orchards, is coveredwith rice-fields, or sometimes crops of tobacco orcotton. Then in some districts there are the tea-gardens, all as regular and formal as Londonsquares, the funniest-looking places imaginable.The whole country is intersected by enormouscanals, with locks of massive stone-a curiouscontrast to those on the Stort, by-the-by,-andcrossed by endless bridges, most picturesque tolook at, but unlike anything one ever saw before.The inhabitants are quite as different to theEnglish, as the face of their country is to ours.For a long time I could not get over the notionthat I was talking to the two Mandarins over thelarge cabinet at Winterbourne. They are wonder-fully clever, and can do almost anything. I dare sayyou have heard the story of the English chaplain
86 WALTER'S FRIEND.whose gown had been patched again and again,until it would hardly hold together; and who nothaving time to get another from England, sentin despair for a Chinese tailor, and asked himwhether he could make him one. The tailor said hecould, if he had the old one for a pattern. In abouta week's time he brought the new gown home.Every hole and patch and darn, had been soexactly imitated, that the chaplain could not tellone from the other. I can quite believe the storyto be true. You remember, too, I dare say, thepicture of Charlton School, with Morley's Elm inthe foreground, which Charles Warbeck's sisterdid for me just before I sailed. Fred Seymour,who, you know, is an old Charltonian, when hewas going to leave for Hoang Fou, so beset mewith entreaties to give it to him, that I hardlyknew how to refuse; though, of course, I couldnot really part with it. Bob Arnold suggestedthat I should set a Chinese artist to copy it. Idid so, and the man produced such a perfectduplicate of it, that Fred and I positively quar-relled over the two, as to which was the original;and the artist himself had to decide the question !But the man was at least as clever a rogue, as hewas an artist. Not having cash enough by me topay him, I sent him with a money order, to getchanged at our house. He brought me the moneynext day-the exact sum he had received, to all
HARRY'S LETTER. 87appearance; but I afterwards found that he hadcontrived to extract the whole of the silver out ofthe coins, leaving only a very thin crust; and thishe had filled up with lead I didn't discover thetrick that had been played until I came to changeone of the crown pieces, and by that time myfriend had disappeared from Chusan. I could tellyou twenty stories of the same kind if I had time,and I will some day. I shall have plenty of leisure atHoang Fou, which I expect I shall find dull enough.Have I told you about Hoang Fou, by-the-by ?It is a station about three hundred miles from here,on the seacoast to the south. Charlie Fuller, whois our chief agent there, caught one of the feversto which the natives are occasionally subject, and.has been sent to the Cape to recover his health.Seymour has written to say that some one mustcome to help him, the work being too heavy forhim to do alone. Our chief here has settled thatI am to go. Fred is such a good fellow, that I don'tmind it so much as I otherwise should; and Ibelieve Fuller will be back again in six months orso. I am going in the Indus, an eighteen-gunbrig, Captain Bradby, who is to sail in a few days.He is rather a stiff old gentleman-the captain; buthis lieutenant is a capital fellow, and we shall geton famously together. They both know these partswell, and confirm what Fred says about the loneli-ness of Hoang Fou. Captain Bradby has had
88 WALTER'S FRIEND.several brushes with the pirates, who infest theseseas; and the stories he tells of their daring andcruelty to the natives, are almost beyond belief.It is a good job that they seldom meddle withEuropeans, and especially with the English flag, ofwhich our blue jackets have given them a whole-some fear; otherwise I should not so much fancygoing into their neighbourhood. The crews consistchiefly of native Chinese; but there are ruffians ofall countries to be found among them-" Colluviogentiurn," as Dr. Young would say-Lascars andMalays, and Sooloos, and Europeans too; theselatter chiefly Portuguese, mixed, it is said, withsome few English. Most of the captains, indeed,are of European race; but the most celebrated roverof the present time is one Rigau, a Spanish mulatto,who for a long time was the terror of the Carribbeanseas; until our cruisers hunted him so hotly, thathe was obliged to fly to another part of the world.He does not hesitate, it seems, to attack even anEnglish vessel, if unable to resist him. News hasjust been received of his having captured two Englishmerchantmen, and murdered every soul on board;except the black cook, who afterwards made hisescape. Representations have been made to theGovernment; and Captain Bradby is going outmainly for the purpose of capturing or sending himto the bottom. I wish I thought there was anychance of our falling in with him on the voyage to
HARRY'S LETTER. 89Hoang Fou; I should like nothing better than tosee some of these wretches, and Rigau at the headof them, knocked on the head, or run up to theyard-arm. But I fear there is little chance of that.He will be tolerably sure to give us a wide berth;and his vessel, the Vendetta, as she is called, is saidto be the fastest sailer in these seas.But I have to get ready for my voyage, so Imust bring this letter to a close. Remember memost kindly to Dick Waters and Sally, and suchof my old schoolfellows as are still at Charlton;though I suppose almost all of them must haveleft before this. I write by this post to Mrs.Young, so I need send no remembrances to her orthe Doctor. Ever your affectionate brother,HARRY MERTOUN.As Walter laid down his letter, little EdwardCave came running up with a face full of trouble."Oh, Walter," he said, "the Indian mail has comein again, they tell me, and there is no letter for me.Waters says he thinks you have heard from youibrother. Does he say anything about papa 1""No, Teddy," said Mertoun, gravely; "mybrother has not seen him. Tell me," he added,fixing his eye keenly on the little boy's face, "areyou sure the Terpsichore was the ship in whichhe was to sail, and Chusan the place he wasgoing to I"
90 WALTER'S FRIEND."He told me so," said Teddy, somewhat dis-turbed by his companion's scrutiny."Harry says not only was there no passengerin the Terpsichore, of the name of Cave, whocalled at the Consul's office, or whom he met whenhe dined on board the ship-but he happened tosee the list of those who had engaged cabins, andthe name of Cave did not occur on it.""Ah,. perhaps Papa's name was down as' Hammond,'" said Teddy, hastily; and then colour-ing crimson, he suddenly stopped."Hammond !" said Mertoun, remembering whathe had been told a few weeks before. "Is yourfather's name Hammond then, or if it is not, whyshould he call himself so "Teddy hung his head, and the tears came intohis eyes; but he made no answer." Look here, Teddy," said Mertoun kindly,putting his hands on the little boy's shouldersand drawing him towards him; " some people aresaying very unkind things of you, and of yourfather too. I don't believe them myself-that is,I don't believe anything against you. But youmust be open with me, if you want to put a stopto these stories. Tell me plainly-I can't imagineany reason why you shouldn't-were you evercalled Hammond I""Yes," said Teddy, the tears running down hischeeks as he spoke, " I was- I was called so for
HARRY'S LETTER. 91a long time, and I have never been happy sincethen."" Never been happy since then ?" repeated Mer-toun, his suspicions growing upon him in spite ofhimself; "and why do you call yourself 'Cave'now, and why does the change of name make youunhappy 1"" Don't ask me, please, Walter," said the child,hardly able to speak for sobbing; " I would tell youall about it,-I would rather tell you than any oneelse-indeed I would-only I mustn't. Papa told menot to say anything about it, and therefore I can't.""He told you that, did he " said Walter."Very well then, of course there is no more to besaid; you had better go out into the playground.I have a letter to write."Teddy took up his cap, and walked slowly'andsadly away; while Mertoun, taking out his blotting-book, resolved to write at once to his father."I am glad," he thought, "that I hadn't alreadyasked Cave. This quite settles the matter. I don'tthink he ought to be allowed to stay here at all-certainly I shall henceforward have as little to dewith him as possible; but asking him home is out ofthe question. Well then, there is no reason now,I suppose, why I shouldn't ask Dixon. I ought,for I almost promised him, that if Cave didn't go,he should. Hallo, Dixon," he shouted to his school-fellow, who at that moment entered the schoolroom,
S 2WALTER'S FRIEND." "do you think your father would allow you topass the Christmas holidays at Winterbourne, andwould you like it yourself ""Oh, Walter, how very kind !" exclaimed Dixon-" like it! I just think I should like it !-I can'ttell you how much! and as for my father, whyyou know he will make no objection.""Very well," said Mertoun, "then I will writehome now, and ask my father's leave to invite you.If he says yes, you can write to Mr. Dixon aboutit.""That's all right at last, then," thought Dixon,as he went to his own desk. "I have got thebetter of that young Cave after all! and now thatI have got my foot fairly in at Winterbourne, itwill be my own fault if I am obliged to take it outagain. My father says Mr. Mertoun could doalmost anything for me, if he liked it. Why, there,is that Seymour-he has been taken into the houseand will be a partner before very long, mostprobably, and all because Harry Mertoun used toinvite him to Winterbourne. I'll take care andmake friends with every one there in the firstplace, and to keep Cave from being asked again inthe second. And now I'll sit down and writestraight to my father, who'll be as glad of it as Iam. Mertoun may change his mind about this,but I'll take care, come what may, to secure theinvitation."