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"'We do not any of us love Professor Bcntley over-much, but we all re-spect him as a teacher. There is my vote for the best skater in ourschool, Professor Bentley.' "-Page 423.
DRAYTON HALL ;OR,LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY,AND OTHER TALES,ILL USTIATING THE BEATITUDES.BY THE AUTHOR OF"NETTIE'S MISSION," "LITTLE KATY AND JOLLY IM,"ETC.A1LONDON:JAMES NISBET & CO., 21 BERNERS STREET.S\ MDOCCCLXIV.
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANYEDINBURGH AND LONDONi
TOUCte i'LJmoarg of mg jatjr,WHOSE BRAVE, SWEET LIFE AND BEAUTIFUL DEATH HAVETAUGHT HIS CHILDREN WITH WHAT FULNESS OFBLESSING OUR MASTER WILL REWARDHIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS,I DEDICATE THESE LITTLE BOOKS.<t.; j
"CONTENTS.LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.CHAP. PAGEI. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 3II. THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE 13III. UNCLE ETHAN 21IV. THE DECISION 33V. PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY 44VI. VICTORY 53VII. OLD CHRISTY .. 59VIII. AUSTIN'S VISIT 65IX. THE BRIDGE 73X. MR SEMMONS .. 83CHRISTY'S GRANDSON.I. JEMMY FORD 9 5 95II. A NEW FRIEND 106III. MR B4RNES' WOOD-SHED 116IV. TRYING TO DO RIGHT 125V. JEM S PARTY 136VI. CHRISTY'S HOME 150--_
vi CONTENTS.CHAP. PAGEVII. "JESUS ONLY" 159VIII. JEM'S DONKEY 167IX. OLD MATTY 178X. JEM'S HOME-COMING .. 188ALLAN HAYWOOD.I. DRAYTON BOYS .. 199II. CHURCHILL MANOR-HOUSE 206III. EAGLE CRAG 217IV. AS MEEK AS MOSES 227V. THE PARODY 236VI. TRUST AND SUSPICION 247VII. PATIENT WAITING 259VIII. BEN THOMPSON 270IX. REPARATION 280X. THE ''STARRY NIGHT 286FRANK AUSTIN'S DIAMOND.I. THEPICNIC 293II. MOUNTAIN LAKE 303III. THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH 313IV. MILWARD'S CORNER 324V. MARY ALLEN 336VI. IN THE OLD BARN. 345VII. JOE MILWARD'S VISIT 357VIII. A FLA SH OF THE DIAMOND 364IX, HIDDEN MANNA 373
CONTENTS. viiEAGLE CRAG.CHAP. PAGRI. UNCLE HENRY 387II. NED'S FRIENDS .. 395III. A FRUITLESS SEARCH .. 404IV. THE SKATING CLUB 416V. ARTHUR BENTLEY 424VI. ON THE CRAG 433VII. A PERILOUS WALK 440VIII. IN THE CABIN 450IX. MAKING FOR PEACE 460X. BRIGHTENED PATHS 469TRUE TO HIS FLAG.I. THE WAGER 483II. FATHER AND SON 492III. WILL SEATON 501IV. WILL'S C FIRST AND BEST 509V. "HE THAT LOVETH FATHER OR MOTHER MORE THAN ME ISNOT WORTHY OF ME " 520VI. THE DECISION 5 29VII. OFF FOR ST WILFRID'S 539VTII. SEEKING FOR REFUGE 551IX. THE THANK-OFFERING *562~
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LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.CHAPTER I.HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS."WELL, Stevens, how are you, and how are they all athome ?" asked Laurence Bronson, springing into the sleighwhich had just drawn up before the main gate of DraytonHall, and proceeding to enwrap himself in the heavy robeswith which it was well-nigh filled."I 'm well, sir, thank you:; and the family's the same.All right and comfortable now, Mr Laurence,?""Yes: I'll take the reins. Good-bye, boys;" and henodded merrily to a group of his schoolfellows who stoodnear. " I hope you'll all have a jolly good time. MerryChristmas !"" Good-bye! Merry Christmas !" shouted- back a dozenhappy voices; and Laurence drove away over the hard,smooth road toward home." Has my father returned, Stevens ?" he asked, after theyhad left the Hall behind them. " Mrs Bronson wrote methat he had gone to New York on business.""Yes sir; he's back again. He's not looking quitewell either, I think, since his journey."" Perhaps he tired himself too much.""That may be, sir, for he doesn't complain. He only
4 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.looks heavy and quiet like. I dare say he '11 be more likehimself when he's rested.""Oh, yes; he always does come home from New Yorktired out. He rushes through with his business so, in orderto be home the sooner."There was no room in his glad, joyous heart for a thoughtof apprehension or anxiety. The sun threw such a flood oflight over the snow-covered fields and roads, and sparkledwith such beauty in the diamond particles of ice whichcovered every tree and shrub, that it was no wonder thathis heart should catch its reflection, and be so filled withlight and joy that it could not harbour a dark thought.And the fresh, cold wind came singing through the leaflessbranches, not in wild, sharp notes, but softly and caress-ingly, yet with a bracing strength in its touch whichbrought a glow to his cheek, and kindled his eye with abrighter light."It seems like spring to-day," ne said, after enjoying insilence for a while the perfect loveliness of the day. " Byafternoon those old oaks will have lost some of the dia-monds with which they have bedizened themselves."" I think it'll not be so mild for long, Mr Laurence.The wind is turning to the north, and it is colder nowthan when I left Glencoe.""All the better," replied Laurence, who seemed deter-mined to be pleased, whatever happened. "We couldn'tquarrel with such a glorious day as this, but I was a littleafraid the skating would be spoiled. There's the churchspire. How pretty the village looks, all covered withsnow !He was so full of enjoyment, this light-hearted, happyschoolboy, that everything looked lovely in his eyes thatbeautiful morning; and when he reached his home, throw-ing the reins to Stevens, and springing out of the sleigh togreet the five little sisters who stood at the lodge-gates
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. 5waiting for him. he did not see that the eldest of the. group,despite her joy in meeting him, had a troubled look whichmight have warned him that the hearts at home were notas light as his." Now bundle into the sleigh, every mother's child ofyou, and we will drive up to the house in gay style," hesaid, keeping in his arms the last one who had claimed akiss, a little blue-eyed, fair-haired maiden, who clung abouthis neck and called him " Lally," with a musical littletongue which refused to give him his rightful name.So they all sprang in, crowding together like the childrenof the unfortunate " old woman who lived in a shoe;" andeven Jessie's sober face lost its serious look, and was radiantwith laughter and fun, when the mother came out upon thepiazza to welcome her boy."1 Merry Christmas, mother darling I shall have to waitone minute for my kiss, for my family cares are very heavyjust now," he said, glancing merrily up at her, as he jumpedone little sister after another out of the crowded sleigh."1 Come, Minnie, you're the last;;" and he lifted theyoungest in his arms again, and turned to place her on thepiazza steps.But the little one stoutly resisted her dethronement, andinsisted upon being carried into the house. The piazzareached, however, her claims were ignored; for there stoodthe mother; and less than two clasping arms could not tellher how glad he was to be with her again."But, mother," and he held her off from him after thefirst long kiss, and looked anxiously into her face, "youlook so tired and pale.""No; I am not tired," she answered, smiling; for shecould not bear that his gladness should be dimmed so soon." I am often pale, you know. But how well and bright andhappy you seem, my boy;" and she pushed back the curlsfrom his forehead, looking fondly into his handsome face.4
6 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY."I am well and happy, and I try to be bright," heanswered. But somehow I generally manage to proverather stupid than bright as far as study is concerned,"he added, with a laugh. "Never mind though, mother;I'11 battle through, and come out a student yet; you shallsee if I don't."Again that pained expression, which he had noticed be.fore, flitted over his mother's face; but the next moment itwas gone; and, turning to Jessie, she said-" Now, order luncheon, dear. Laurence must be famishedafter his cold drive."" Where is father ? " asked Laurence, as he followed hismother into the house, the children all hanging about him,as if determined not to lose sight of him for a moment." He had to drive over to Mr Cuyler's on business. Heexpected to be back before you reached howe, but chargedme if he were detained to tell you how sorry he was to becalled away just at this time. He will be back soon."" Here he is now," said little Minnie, who had run to thewindow at the sound of sleigh-bells. " But only just lookat him," she said, in a troubled little voice. " He feelsreal bad about something. See, Lally, doesn't he ?"Laurence sprang up quickly, but his mother was beforehim."Father is very tired," she said, drawing Laurence's armwithin her own. "He has had too much to do lately.Come, we will go out to meet him. Here's your boy homeagain, father," she called -in a pleasant voice, as they wentout upon the piazza again.The weary, spiritless look in Mr Bronson's face changedto one of pleasure, and he came quickly forward."'Welcome home, my son," he said, grasping bothLaurence's outstretched hands. " I need not ask if you arewell with such a face as that beaming before me."Laurence wished that he could say as much for him, for
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. 7all his father's attempted cheerfulness could not hide thefurrows in his face, nor the gray lines scattered throughhis dark hair; but he fell in at once with his assumedhappiness."I should answer the question just as you would expectit to be answered. Isn't it a grand morning for a sleigh-ride, father ?""Yes, it is indeed a perfect day. How did you leaveall your schoolfellows at the Hall ?"And so half a dozen indifferent questions and answerspassed between them, until lunch was announced. ButLaurence went into the dining-room with the full deter-mination to find out, as soon as the meal was over, whatwas the cloud whose shadow had been so carefully keptfrom his own path, only, as it seemed, to darken the moreheavily upon those whom he most loved.Luncheon was scarcely over when Mr Bronson rose fromhis seat, and saying that he had some writing which it wasnecessary for him to attend to immediately, went out ofthe room." Can I help you, father ? " Laurence had asked." No," had been the answer; and the boy could not failto notice the heavy tone in which the words were spoken."No; I have only to affix my signature to two or threepapers. But they must be sent to Mr Cuyler at once.Stevens is waiting for them. I will be back directly."The papers had been signed and sent to the lawyer, MrCuyler; and now Mr Bronson pushed back his chair fromhis writing-table, and leaned his head upon his hand in deepthought. But the next moment there came to him thesound of a quick, elastic step in the hall, then a knockupon the door; and he lifted his head and smiled asLaurence came in." Well, my boy ?" he said, as if to ask what had broughthim there. Laurence crossed the room; and, tall, manly-
8 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.looking fellow as he was, sat down upon his father's knee,and put his two strong arms about his father's neck."Now, father ?""What will you have, my son ?"He knew what he would have; but he asked the questionto gain a moment's time, in which he might try to measurehis son's power of endurance, and also to seek for tenderwords in which to break the truth to him." You know what I want," said Laurence. "There is aheavy load on your heart and on mother's. I want to knowwhat it is, that I may lift it, if such a thing is possible : ifnot, that I may share it, and so at least ease the burden."His father took the earnest face between his hands, andlooked long into the depths of the clear hazel eyes. Atlength, he said-"Can you bear a sore trial patiently and bravely,Laurence ?"" I can," said the boy."It is a very heavy burden; so heavy, that it must pressupon every joy and pleasure of your life,-so heavy, that itmay crush out all your hopes and glad anticipations. Canyou bear it ?""1 I can.""c Then you shall know it, and we will try to strengthenone another. Laurence, I am a ruined man.""Your property is all gone ?""Everything. I have just signed the last paper yieldingall to my creditors.""How came it about, father ? May I know ?"The question was asked in a low, almost whispering voice;he was awe-struck with the weight of this great calamity."Partly through my own fault, Laurence; for I shouldhave been more cautious; and yet I was only doihg for afriend.in need what he had once done for me. I indorsedheavily-heavily, at least, for a man in my circumstances--
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. 9for Henry Lee. You know him, and you know what afriend he was to me in my younger days, when I was astranger in a strange city. His partner has proved himselfa villain. Lee is bankrupt, and I am--" Still a young man, with a strong right arm of yourown, and another which can at least do something to aidyou;" and the boy held up his hand before his father's face,as if to show him how broad and sinewy it was. "Keepup a good heart, father-we'll do well yet.""My brave boy," said his father, fondly, "you havelifted a great load from my heart, for I dreaded to tell youof this trial, lest it should overwhelm you. It has come sosuddenly upon us, that I scarcely knew how to prepare youfor it by letter. But, Laurence, do you know that it entailsupon you a great disappointment ? I cannot afford to sendyou back to school."It was a terrible disappointment, and one of which; in hisdesire to comfort his father, he had not thought. He wasnot a quick nor a showy student; but he loved study for itsown sake, and would plod for hours over a problem uponwhich many of his classmates would spend but half thetime, and yet rise from the laborious task as fresh andvigorous as if it had been but recreation to him. Thedream of his life had been to become a scholar; to spendhis years in researches and discoveries; and now it mustall end just here. "A great disappointment !" It wassomething more than that: it was a blow which almoststaggered him; and, for the moment, his own sorrow blottedout the thought of his father's grief. His sudden start andlook of blank dismay told Mr Bronson how sharply thestroke had fallen upon him; and his voice was very tremu-lous as he tried in his turn to be the comforter."I told you, my boy," he said, laying'his hand tenderlyupon Laurence's bowed head-bowed lest his father shouldsee the pain which he knew must be manifest in his face,-
10 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY." I told you that we would need to strengthen one another,for I knew how bitter this change would be to you. ButDr Drayton's charges are very heavy; and, although I havebeen most fortunate in obtaining a position which will beopen to me next week, my salary will not be sufficient tomaintain us all. I must try to find a place for you as well,and we shall have to work together for the mother and thelittle sisters."He could not have drawn the dark picture in bettercolours. "The mother and the little sisters " were the joyof Laurence's life; and the thought of his father, cheerfullydescending from the high position he had held, and thank-fully accepting a situation which might at least keep hiswife and children from want, brought a glow of enthusiasmin the work to his own heart. The bowed head was lifted;and the boy stood up manfully to accept the burden whichhad been laid upon his young shoulders." Well, father," he said, "we will do our best. Withtwo of us to shield them, they ought not to suffer. Assoon as I can find a clerkship, I am ready to do my share."" God bless you, Laurence! you have borne this nobly,"said Mr Bronson. " If you knew how much easier youhave made my share of the cross, you would feel that youcould thank Him also for having given you strength to takeup your portion so courageously."For a long while they sat together, talking over thechange in their prospects; and then Laurence went to seekhis mother. He was glad to think that she would be sparedthe recital of the sad story; and he lost no time in tellingher that he knew all, and was ready cheerfully to do hispart in the new life which awaited him. They had scarcelyhad time to say more than half of what was in their hearts,when the children came in to plead for a sleigh-ride. Jessie,guessing rightly that Laurence wanted to be alone with hismother, had done her best to keep the little ones in the
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. 11nursery; but all her wiles were of no avail. Laurencemust come,-he had talked long enough with father andmother; and, finally, they all rushed in, pell-mell, to carryhim off a prisoner. He yielded, and went with them; forhe had promised them this ride on their way up from thelodge-gates, and he was not sorry that he had done so whenonce they had started.The children were wild with delight, and their merrylaughter echoed gaily in the clear frosty air,-excited byanything or by nothing, as the case might be,-that madebut little difference; for their hearts were so light that theyoverflowed with joy at their own sweet will,-it needednothing to call it forth. And, by and by, he began to enterinto the spirit of the frolic himself. His counterfeitedmirth changed to enjoyment almost as hearty and unre-strained as that of his little sisters, who knew nothing ofthe cloud which hung over their home.And when they had returned, there was the long winterevening to be gone through with somehow, and ChristmasEve too. So he set them at a game of romps, which lastedtill they went to bed; and then rhe began to look forwardto the hour when he might shut himself up in his ownroom, and think it all over. By and by it came; and whenprayers were over, he went up-stairs for a quiet time beforehe should go to rest. Even here, however, an interruptioncame between him and his wishes. The door was scarcelyclosed behind him, when he heard a gentle knock; and,opening it, saw Jessie standing there."May I come in, just for a minute or two, Larry? Iwant you to talk to me."She had always been his pet sister-this gentle, matronlylittle Jessie; and now, when he met those glistening eyes,heavy with the weight of tears which she had so struggledto keep out of sight, he could not resist her, mich as hewished to be alone.
P12 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY."Come in," he said, drawing her to him, and keeping hisarm still around her as he led her to a chair, and lifted heron his knee. "You are full of this trouble, aren't you,little woman ?"For answer she laid her head down upon his shoulder,and cried as if her heart would break."I've wanted you so, Larry," she sobbed, as soon as shecould speak. "The children don't know about it, and Icouldn't talk to mother because I couldn't keep back thetears when I said anything, and I didn't want her to see mecry. You won't mind very much, will you ?""No, indeed, I won't;" and the tender hand, passingcaressingly over her hair, soothed and calmed her, while itleft her free to cry herself into quiet.By and by he began to talk in his bright, pleasant way ofthe change before them; and while he did not attempt todisguise from her that he thought it hard to bear, he foundso many sunny spots in the dark road, and showed them toher so clearly, that she began to wonder that she had notseen them herself." Why, it won't be so very bad after all, Larry, will it ? "she said, at length; " except for you~and father. I am sovery sorry that you cannot go back to school."" Oh, don't worry yourself about that," he said, cheerily."I shall manage to have some time for study at home.And now don't you think you had better go to bed ? It isafter eleven o'clock."So she kissed him good-night and went away, thinkingthat in all the wide world there was not a dearer, more. loving brother than her own Laurence.When she was gone, he sat down before the fire again, andgave himself up to his thoughts. Sad enough they were.SThe crushing of all his hopes of a life of study was but onegrief among many. The dear old home in which he hadlived from his babyhood must be sold! It was not a splen-
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE. 13did home, but it was one of perfect comfort and ease; andhe could scarcely bear to think of the sad change for hismother and the girls, from the entire immunity from, allunwelcome care to the drudgery and toil which must betheirs so soon.There was another thing, too, which weighed heavily uponhim. He was a proud boy,-a very proud boy; and heshrank from the thought of all the slights which fall uponthe poor. His cheek burned when he thought of the re-marks of his schoolmates when they should hear that hecould no longer afford to take his place among them, but. must earn his own living. With some he knew this wouldmake no difference, many of them would love him as welland respect him quite as much as before; but, with others,he knew that his poverty would be the signal for sneers and-if they dared so far-insults. Poor fellow! It was nota happy face which looked into the dying fire for hours afterJessie left him, and when at last he threw himself upon hisbed, his sleep was broken with dark, troubled dreams, fromwhich he woke restless and uneasy, until, at length fairlytired out, he fell into a slumber too deep to be disturbed bydreams.CHAPTER II.THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE.THE bright morning sun did a great deal toward drivingaway dark thoughts and anticipations; and by the timeLaurence was dressed and ready to go down-stairs, his browwas as unruffled and his eye as clear as ever. Besides, itwas Christmas morning, and Laurence was a Christian. Tohim the sweet Christmas morning dawned with a brighter
14 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.light than that which shone on common days; and his heartwas full of the warm, soft glow, which it had caught as hestood at his window, singing an old Christmas carol. A"Merry Christmas " it could scarcely be to the elder mem-bers of the family, but a " happy " one it should be so faras he could render it so.The day was not to be spent as every other Christmas ofhis life had been spent. Even the younger children under-stood that the time-honoured tree was not to delight theireyes this year, and that presents were to be dispensed with,Laurence himself, although he had known nothing of thestate of affairs, was unprepared with gifts; for his fatherhad written him, telling him that his month's allowancewould have to lie over until the last of the month, as it wasnot convenient to send it to him at that time, and he hadexpected to receive it on his return home for the holidays.But before the last of the month, the blow which had threat-ened Mr Bronson at the time he wrote had fallen, and poorLaurence's allowance was among the things of the past.But still the day was not to be permitted to pass un-noticed. The little children were to have a tea-party, towhich all the family were to be invited; and no one, noteven the father or mother, was to be excused from attendance. The time was fixed for three o'clock in the afternoon,but in the morning Mr Bronson said that it would be neces-sary for him to drive to Glencoe in the afternoon; and sothe preparations were hurried, and the tea-party took placeat eleven o'clock.." You can play we had early tea," said Lily, who was thehostess on the occasion. So the order of the meals was alittle transposed, and tea was announced a short time beforelunch ; but the merry party enjoyed it none the less. EvenMr Bronson's careworn face lightened into pleasure as heheard the peals of laughter that rang around the table, andwatched the delight of his little children in their play.*A
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE. 15Laurence and Jessie threw themselves into the frolic withtheir whole souls, having determined, after a long talk onthe subject, not to let the day pass gloomily ; and the tender,grateful love which shone upon them from their mother'seyes was quite reward enough for the effort which they hadmade.There was no small amount of objection raised when itwas found that Laurence intended to drive his father overto Glencoe; but a well-timed proposal from Jessie, that thechildren should occupy the time of their absence in makinga gay pen-wiper for each of them, so took their fancy, that,instead of attempting to detain them further, their onlyconcern seemed to be that they should start as soon as pos-sible, in order that the work might be done in secret." The little ones don't seem inclined to give you muchrest, Laurence," said his father, as they drove off, with apromise to return as quickly as they could." Oh, the novelty will wear off when I have been at homea day or two," said Laurence. "I am always a lion at thefirst of my vacations. They will not hang about me sowhen they grow more accustomed to see me going in andout every day."His father glanced quickly toward him, but the face intowhich he looked returned his gaze with a smile which toldnothing of the boy's disappointment.Their drive was not a pleasant one, the bright morninghaving darkened into a dull, gray afternoon; and beforethey reached Glencoe a drizzling, sleety rain began to fall,freezing as it touched the ground, and making the roadsvery dangerous for travelling."Kitty is sharp-shod of course, father, is she not ?" askedLaurence, as, for the third time, the horse slipped on theicy road."Yes; she will hardly fall, I think; but hold her in well.I want to stop a moment at Dr Wells's, so we will drive
16 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.right over there. I shall be more sure to find him than onany other day.""I shall not be here more than a moment or two," saidMr Bronson, as he stepped out of the sleigh; " but I haveanother errand to attend to; and you might drive up to MrCuyler's with these papers, which I promised to let him havethis afternoon, and then meet me at the foot of Gray's Hill."Laurence drove off quite pleased with his errand. MrCuyler, his father's lawyer, was a great favourite with allthe family, and the boy was always glad to be sent to himwith any message. The old gentleman received him verykindly, greeting him even more cordially than was hiswont, and talked so pleasantly and encouragingly of hisfather's affairs, that Laurence left him. at last almost per-suaded that things were not so bad with them, after all;and that, with industry and effort on his own part, he mightyet, though it would perhaps be retarded for a year or two,pass through the course of study which he had mapped outfor himself."Well, good-bye, and success to you," said Mr Cuyler, asLaurence bundled himself up in the robes once more." Good-bye, sir, and thank you for your encouragement,"said Laurence; and he drove off with a lighter heart thanhe had carried in his breast for the last twenty-four hours.At the foot of Gray's Hill there stood. a small well-kepthotel, where Mr Bronson always stopped to water his horseswhen he had been out for a long drive; and it was herethat he had appointed to meet his son. As Laurence nearedthe hotel, he noticed a group of men moving slowly up towardthe house; and as his eye fell upon them, one figure separateditself from the rest and came running swiftly up the road."What is wrong ?" asked Laurence, as the man nearedhim, for it was easy to perceive that something unusual hadoccurred."There's a man killed. He fell on the ice coming down
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE. 17the hill, and they think he's broke his neck. I'm off forthe doctor;" and he rushed on toward Dr Wells's house,which was close at hand. What was it that made the boyseize the whip and strike Kitty such a cutting blow thatshe reared until she stood almost erect on her hind feet-thenspringing forward, dashed furiously up the road, until Laur-ence drew her suddenly up at the door of the hotel, intowhich the crowd of men were bearing some heavy burden ?Something within him, he knew not what, had told himthat the burden they bore was his father." Killed killed! killed !"The word seemed to be burning itself into his soul; andflinging the reins upon Kitty's neck, he sprang out of thesleigh and rushed into the house, his white, terrified facestartling all who met him as he fiercely elbowed his waythrough the throng which had followed the bearers into theparlour."Let me pass," he said, roughly grasping the shoulder ofa large man who stood in his path, and putting him asideas if he had been a child. The man turned round sharply,with a threat on his lips; but one glance at that blanchedface stilled him, and the crowd fell silently apart to let theboy pass. On and on, up through the long room, at thevery end of which, stretched on a sofa, lay the object of hissearch. Two men stood leaning over it, hiding the facefrom his sight. In a moment a hand was upon each ofthem; they were thrust aside; and Laurence was kneelingbeside the pallid face upon the pillow."1My father Oh, my father " The cry rang throughthe room, bringing tears to eyes which had been long unusedto weep; but the leaden lips did not move in response tothe appeal."Is he dead ? Tell me, is he dead ?" cried Laurence,springing to his feet again, and facing suddenly round uponthe two men whom he had just pushed aside."4
18 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY." Hist, lad, hist," said the elder of the two, laying hishand gently upon the boy's shoulder. " He's not dead, I 'mthinking ; but terrible stunned, just. Mike's run for thedoctor, and Mike's very fleet of foot. He 'll not be long gone.""They are coming now," said a voice which Laurenceseemed to know, and looking up, he saw that the other per-son who had been watching his father so closely was MrBraisted, the hotel-keeper." I think that there is life," he said, in response to Laur-ence's look. "But here is the doctor; he can tell us."Dr Wells passed through the crowd, bidding them tostand back and give the injured man air; hurriedly graspedLaurence's hand; and bent over the unconscious figureupon the couch."1 I would like to have this room cleared."The words seemed a suggestion, but they were obeyed asa command; for there was a power in Dr Wells's gentlenessthat no one ever thought of resisting." He- is not dead, my son," he said, in answer to thehungry eyes which were watching his every movement withsuch terrible interest; " he is in a deep faint-we can bringhim to."Even as he spoke, Mr Bronson's head stirred upon thepillow, his eyes opened and met Laurence's frightened face.He tried to smile, but a spasm of pain crossed his lips, andhe sank back into unconsciousness."Is he very badly hurt ?" asked Laurence, when, after along and thorough examination of his patient, the doctorlifted his head, and turned a very serious face on the boy."Yes, he is badly hurt. I think you had better driveover for your mother and bring her here."" Then I cannot take him home ?""No; the long drive would kill him in his present state.I will remain with him until you return; you had bettergo at once. Make as light of it as you can to your mother."
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE. 19Make as light of it as he would, his face bore too muchof the impress of the fright and suffering through which hehad passed for Mrs Bronson to be greatly deceived; andalthough she said but little at home before the children,they had not passed over a quarter of the road to Glencoebefore she had drawn from her son all that he knew. Thatwas little enough. He had heard from a man who had seenthe accident that his father, in descending the hill, hadslipped and pitched violently backward; but that was allthat the bystanders could tell; for when they ran to hisaid he was unconscious, and had so remained up to themoment of Laurence's departure, except for that one gleamof recognition. The doctor had purposely told him butlittle, fully expecting that his mother would win from himall that he could tell.When they reached the hotel, Mr Braisted came out tomeet them, stopping Laurence as he was about to help hismother from the sleigh." Your father is not here," he said. "Dr Wells has hadhim carried to his own house. He told me to tell you to goover there, as he thought it best to remove him before hebecame conscious,"He was watching for them, the good old man, when theydrove up to his door, and came out to welcome them." You have made good speed," he said, cheerily, " and Iam glad to say that my patient seems a little easier, and isquite himself. I had him brought here lest he might notlike being in that noisy hotel; and, besides, I can watch himmore closely when he is under my own roof.""Then he is seriously injured ?" Mrs Bronson asked, herhand trembling in the doctor's firm grasp."Yes; I will tell you the truth, he is seriously hurt;you must keep a brave heart and a cheerful face. Nowcome up-stairs, for he has asked for you."Her own loving hand could not have arranged him more
20 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.easily in the white bed on which he lay; but the heavyeyes were turned to the door as she entered, with a lookwhich showed that, after all said and done, he needed her,and could not rest content without her. Mrs Wells, who hadbeen sitting beside him, left them together ; but Mrs Bronsonsoon followed her, leaving Laurence with his father."Is the doctor in his office ?" she asked, when she hadthanked Mrs Wells most warmly for her kindness." Yes ; he is coming right up."" But I would like to see him before he comes up. MayI go down to him ?"" Certainly; you will find him alone. You know theways of the house, I believe.""I ought to know them," said Mrs Bronson, looking intothe pleasant face with a world of gratitude in her own." This is not the first time that I have tasted of its hospi-tality."The doctor opened the office-door before- she reached it,and met her in the hall."I was on my way to your room;" he said; am Ineeded ?" and he looked anxiously at her." No; my husband seems to be falling asleep, but Iwanted to speak to you. Doctor, I want you to tell methe whole truth. Is he fatally injured ?""I will tell you the whole truth. No; he is not."" What, then ?" she asked, with a sudden, quick breath ofdeep relief." His spine is badly injured. There, my child, try to becalm ;" and he drew her to a chair. " The tender nursingwhich your love will give him will bring him through. Inthe meantime, he is in a good home, with friends who willdo their best for him.""But, doctor"-her lips faltered; the words were hard,so very hard, to say."Wait one moment, if you please. I want to tell you a
UNCLE ETHAN. 21little story. Twenty years ago, a physician settled in thisplace. For five years his practice was insufficient to main-tain his family; and, at the end of that time, on the verybrink of insolvency, he sold his house and prepared to leaveGlencoe. Did you ever hear who bought that house andgave it for two years, rent free, to the almost bankruptdoctor ? I am not a rich man, Mrs Bronson, or I would dofor him what he has done for me;. but while my little roof-tree covers my head, there is a home in Glencoe for GeorgeBronson."" But that debt was paid long since, Dr Wells."" In bank-notes, yes; but not in that more precious cur-rency in which your husband loves to deal. Not anotherword, my child. I know just how things stand with you,for George told me all; and I thank God that now, whenyou are in trouble, He has put it in my power to returnsome of the kindness which I have received at your hus-band's hands. Now let us go up to him."CHAPTER III.UNCLE ETHAN,ALL night long the snow had been falling silently uponthe sleeping city, waking no one among the thousands ofslumbering people, but softly covering everything with asheet of spotless white. The dusty streets had, during thosefew quiet hours, been paved with pure marble, the churchspires had been wreathed with orange blossoms, and theleafless trees hung with garlands of white chrysanthemums.Even the very heaps of ashes in the poorer streets had been
22 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.transformed into fair little hillocks, which, for all that anyone could now see, might have been brought by some lovingfairy from the snow-covered fields on the farther side of theriver, to blossom into greenness when their pretty mantlesshould slip from their shoulders.But in the early morning the wind changed suddenly tothe south-east-a fine mist, which speedily resolved itselfinto a heavy rain, took the place of the beautiful snow-flakes; and before the great world had fairly taken up theburdens of the day, almost every trace of beauty had fadedfrom the scene. The pure marble changed to a grayish hue,slipping from beneath the feet of the vexed pedestrians witha treacherous slide that betrayed many a trusting foot;orange-blossoms and chrysanthemums melted away intoheavy drops of moisture, which dripped, dripped upon thepassers-by in merciless showers. The little hillocks losttheir beautiful cloaks, and stood revealed, not as grassymounds, but as heaps of rubbish and filth, reeking in theall-prevailing damp and wet. Oh, how quickly that un-sparing rain did take the romance out of the thing Laur-ence Bronson, stepping from the train as it whistled andscreamed into the depot, certainly saw nothing to admirein it.Turning up his coat collar to protect his throat-for anumbrella served but half its purpose in the saturated atmo-sphere-he set out courageously for his destination. Toreach it, he must cross the city, for he was on his way tothe house of his uncle, Mr Ethan Bronson. It was a longwalk and a hard one, but it was accomplished in good time;and, taking an omnibus at the avenue, he was soon depo-sited at his uncle's door.His errand there was not an enviable one, his uncle neverhaving been much of a favourite in the family; for Etha4Bronson was strangely unlike his brother George, hard andcold as he was gentle and warm-hearted, and wholly want-
UNCLE ETHAN. 23 .ing in that sympathetic kindliness which made his brothera welcome visitor even where he was a stranger."Good morning, Laurence," he said, turning from hisseat by the glowing fire, as the servant opened the door forhis nephew's entrance. "Rather a wet day, isn't it ? Howis your father?"" I have come to see you on father's account, Uncle Ethan.He has had a terrible fall."" He has !" exclaimed Mr Bronson. "Is he much hurt.?"""Yes, sir, very badly hurt; he has injured his spine.The doctor says it will be months before he can move."The alarm expressed in Mr Bronson's face was not alloccasioned by the thought of his brother's suffering. Notthat he was regardless of that; but at the same momentthere came to his mind the thought of a family of eightpersons, one of them a helpless invalid, to be provided for;and from whence was the provision to come ?"Of course, he will have to resign his post with MrEnglis ?""Yes, sir. I am to go to Mr Englis when I leave here,and tell him that father is not able to fulfil his engagement."" Then you have absolutely nothing to depend upon.What are you going to do ?"Not one question had he asked as to whether his brother'slife were endangered, or whether he were likely to becrippled by his injury. That last inquiry had struggled tohis lips as if he were so overwhelmed by the idea of theirpoverty that he had no thought to give to any other viewof the case. Laurence's spirit rose. He had feared this;and now he lifted his head as he answered proudly-"I do not know, as yet. God will open some path tome.""To you," said his uncle, laying great stress upon thepronoun. "Do you expect to be able to maintain, thefamily ?"4
24 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY." I expect to do all I can toward it," said Laurence,quietly." But to do anything in that way you will have to leaveyour studies; and Dr Drayton, whom I. met in the streetthe other day, told me you would make a first-rate engineerin the course of three years, young as you are. He saysthat your talent for mathematics and engineering is some-thing quite wonderful."Laurence's cheek flushed with pleasure, but the nextmoment it paled again as he said,-"I know that Dr Draytoil thinks me a good mathe-matician, for he has told me so, and it is a great disappoint-ment to me to have to give up my studies; but as my fatheris helpless, the care of my mother and sisters, as well as ofhimself, devolves upon me."No wonder that this hard, close man, grudging a fewhundreds out of his many thousands, looked away from thatgenerous young face, glowing with the light of an earnest,self-sacrificing purpose. For a few moments Mr Bronsonsat gazing into the fire; then he rose to his feet, saying,-" I suppose some of the rest of us must see what can bedone. Some of the rest of us I say, but I don't see butthat it must all come upon me. There is no one else towhom you can apply."" Uncle Ethan,"-Laurence wondered at the sound ofhis own voice, it was so cold and hard; and yet such a tem-pest of outraged pride, of grief and shame, was raging withinhim,-" Uncle Ethan, I certainly had no intention of 'apply-ing,' as you term it, to you. My only business here thismorning was to obey my father's request that I should askyou to go up to Glencoe to-morrow, if it is possible for youto do so. If it should turn out that he thinks it best toask you for a loan, you may rest assured that the moneyshall be returned to the uttermost farthing, if I have to givaup every moment of my life to the task of earning it."
------c .--,-- ---.,I--.r---- I :...L-'^".. : L -.. 8' -.. I-" ..--'1 -:u'... .IL."I,: x .--sz'' :-'''L :r ''''i.P:?'i1.." T( ....I ;1.1.1jr.I\ r," !Ic I yy ?, ,r:":'"''.\r;ura I ---- -- n.:Y:ir; c L .I-sar?,1."'mC CI---.. .I -..h "S.--' t:.- E:I-e -'- -:: jl;:2:fi __. -_ _((The face looking down upon Laurence was not al together an attractiveone, and yet its expression was not unkindly. ,,--Pnge 25
UNCLE ETHAN. 25" Stop there, boy," said his uncle, gruffly; "you havesaid enough. You are too proud, too proud by half, for apoor man's son. You may tell your father I will be up bythe ten o'clock train."Laurence took up his hat, and rose at once."Very well, sir," was his response." But you had better wait for lunch," said Mr Bronson,as he laid his hand upon the door."Thank you, I cannot wait," he answered.. Goodmorning;" and with a bitter sense of shame and degra-dation, he went out into the storm, feeling as if he wouldrather face it for a week, than remain for another moment inhis uncle's house.Hailing an omnibus, he seated himself ina a corner, think-ing sadly enough of the difficulties of his position. If therewere only some means by which he might see his way clearto reject all aid from his uncle Deeply and seriously hepondered the question, but no light came to him; and hesat looking out on the pitiless storm in a mood which ac-corded well with the dreary prospect. If he had not beenso buried in his disagreeable thoughts, he might have noticedthat a gentleman, at whose side he had seated himself, wasregarding him with close attention. The face looking downupon him was not altogether an attractive one, and yet itsexpression was not unkindly. The smile on the lips wassomewhat grim, hovering uncertainly there as if it werenot quite-sure that it was well to appear at all; and thedeep-set eyes .looked out from beneath their bushy browswith a keen and piercing glance which seemed to be readingone through and through. But there was a something in that .face which told you that you might trust the man; that, how-ever stern and uncompromising he might prove, he would betrue and faithful, even at the expense of his own interests." How long are we to sit side by side without speakingto one another ?"4
26 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.Laurence, looking up with a start as the slow, measuredtones fell on his ear, saw Dr Drayton, the principal of theschool which he had attended for the past five years."Dr Drayton I beg your pardon, sir. Have you beensitting here ever since I came in ?"" Yes. You do not seem to enjoy the storm. You lookas if you were engrossed in meditating upon this evil world.""I have some reason to look grave," said Laurence."You have not heard, I suppose, of my father's accident ?""' No, indeed! what has befallen him ?"The passionless face was not wholly unmoved by the boy'sstory; and when it was ended, Dr Drayton said kindly-" I am grieved, deeply grieved, to hear this. I am afraid,from what I hear," he added, lowering his voice, " that it isespecially trying to him to be laid aside just now."" Yes, sir; that is true. As long as you have spoken ofit, doctor, I may as well tell you at once that, through thefailure of another house, my father's affairs are greatly em-barrassed; and it will be necessary for me to leave schoolat once."Dr Drayton looked at him in blank dismay."Leave school !" he repeated, slowly. "Bronson, thatwould be a shame. The loss to yourself would be incal-culable."" I know that, sir; but it must be done. My father isutterly helpless, and likely to be so for the rest of his life;and I have a mother and five little sisters. What can I doexcept obtain a situation, and earn what I can for theirsupport I cannot look .at my own wishes or interest inthis case.""But it is their interest as well as yours," insisted thedoctor. " You know very well, Bronson, that I am not inthe habit of complimenting my pupils; and you will there-fore understand that I am in thorough earnest when I tellyou that I never met with another boy of your age, and
UNCLE ETHAN. 27have seen but few men, who could compete with you inmathematics and engineering. Your talents in that line arewonderful; and it will be throwing away the greatest giftwhich God has given you if you lay your studies aside.Three years of steady application will fit you for some highand lucrative position. If you could be spared from homefor that time, you would then be able to do more for yourfamily in six months than you could do as a clerk in amercantile house in years. You were never meant for abusiness man, Laurence; but you will make one of the firstengineers of the age."Never had Laurence heard that measured voice quickeninto so much life and animation. It was no wonder thathis own eyes kindled, and his heart beat quick. But it wasof no use to listen to the doctor's unusual enthusiasm. Itcould not be: he must work, and work at once. Even ifthose at home could be provided for in any other way,where was the money to pay for his education ? UncleEthan's heavy purse could easily bear the drain; but noearthly power could compel him to ask a favour at hishands."You are very kind to say so," he answered slowly, aftera little pause; " and I can never tell you what a trial it is tome to give up all my hopes, and devote myself to an entirelydifferent life. But it must be, Dr Drayton; I can only. takethings as they stand. And now I must say good-bye, forI leave the omnibus here.""So do I; I want to stop at number seventy.""Laurence,"--they had reached the sidewalk, andLaurence had shaken hands with him and was turningaway, when the doctor's voice recalled him,-" if you findthat any arrangement can be made, either with your uncleor any one else, by which the family can be taken care ofwithout your aid, the question with regard to funds for yourown use need not embarrass you : your studies shall be no
28 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.expense to you. No, don't say a word," he added, liftinghis hands in deprecation of the thanks which he saw werebreaking from Laurence's lips. You can aid me in manylittle ways in the school, if you prefer to do so; andI should be so sorry to lose you, that the proposition is quitea selfish one on my part. Tell your father all that I havesaid before you decide on your future course, and then let meknow your final determination. I advise you most earnestlyto consider the matter with an eye to the future as well asthe present need. Good-morning;" and before Laurencehad time for a single word in response, he was gone.The errand to Mr Englis was soon accomplished; andthen Laurence gladly turned his face toward home. Thelong ride would have been tedious enough with nothing tolook at but " water, water everywhere," if he had not hadso much to think of; but for some time his brain wastoo busy with plans and contrivances for any loneliness orennui. Nothing could have done more to convince him ofthe magnitude of the sacrifice which it seemed necessary forhim to make, than the fact that its announcement had soroused this constrained, immovable man. If every profes-sor and teacher in the school had thrown their influence intothe scale, urging him to continue his course, their combinedvoices would not have affected him so much as those fewwords from Dr Drayton, coupled with a demeanour so dif-ferent from his usual manner. He had known him for solong, and seen him maintain that cold indifference undersuch a variety of circumstances, both in school and out ofit, that the feeling he had manifested had astonished himbeyond measure; and had doubled and trebled his own painand disappointment.Plan after plan, expedient after expedient, all equallyfruitless and impracticable, floated through his mind, andwere impatiently thrown out again; until at last, fairlywearied out, he laid his head against the back of the seat,
UNCLE ETHAN. 29and tried to forget his perplexity in sleep. That alsoproved a futile attempt, and finally he gave it up, andbegan to count the passengers in the car; then the dropsof blackish water which dripped in through the roof, fallingon the seat before him, and forming a little dark pool onthe shabby cushion; but by and by, with a shrill whistle ofdefiance, the engine dashed up to the depot, and there hewas at Glencoe, with only a few rapid steps between himand his mother. There was comfort in that thought atleast; and with a lightened brow he jumped from the car,and walked swiftly up the village street.She was there to open the door for him as he ran up thepiazza steps, having seen him from the window." What a terrific day it has been," she said. "I amafraid that you are worn out, my boy."" Oh no," he answered, cheered already by the sight ofher dear face. " I shall do very well. How is father ?""He has been suffering very much all day, but now he hasfallen asleep. What did Uncle Ethan say ? "It was not of the slightest use for him to try to answerlightly, for she read his face as if it had been an open book." Was he unkind, Laurence ? Tell me all the truth. Idid' not expect any great amount of sympathy from him."" Nor did I, and I received even less than I expected. Idid not mean to tell you, mother; but since you haveguessed it, I need not try to hide it. Uncle Ethan's onlyconcern seemed to be in the question of our support. Iffather does as I would wish, he will not accept the firstpenny from him. But I do not want to pain you, mother,'he added, seeing the troubled look which came into herface. "I did not mean to say one word about it, but itslipped out. He is to be here to-morrow, and father willdo as he thinks best. But, mother dear, if we must havehelp from Uncle Ethan, let it be as a loan; don't let himgive us anything."4
30 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.He spoke impetuously and earnestly; but his motheronly smiled; a sad, patient smile it was, and said quietly--" I would rather have asked any one for aid than youruncle; but we have no claim on any one else, and the trialmust be borne. Let us try submissively to take up thecross which our Master has seen it best for us to carry, re-membering that He has promised the 'kingdom of heaven'to the 'poor in spirit.' We must try to bear our burdenhumbly, Laurence, that so the promised blessing may begiven to us by our wise and tender Father. I know thatis hard, very hard for you. It will be a struggle forall of us, but perhaps you will find the battle most difficultto win; yet your Captain is ever in the advance, and surelyyou need not fear defeat while fighting beneath Hisbanner."But Laurence's proud heart could not submit patientlyjust then. The recollection of his uncle's cold reception ofhis sad story was still fresh upon him; and his spiritchafed at the thought of taking any favours from thatgrudging hand. He would not, however, tell his mother allhe felt; he could not add this to what she already bore;and her long anxious day in the sick-room had left its tracesso plainly written on her face, that he felt that he must doall he could to strengthen her. So he looked up at her,trying to throw into his face something of its usual brightexpression, and said-"Well, we'll see how things turn out for us, mother.Perhaps Uncle Ethan was in a gruff humour this morning;he may be very pleasant to-morrow. Now, will you see iffather is awake ? If he is, I will run up and speak to himfor a moment before I go back to the children."But Mr Bronson was still sleeping when his wife stoleup to his room and peeped in at the door.; so Laurenceprepared to start at once on his homeward journey. Thehorse which he had driven down in the morning was stand-
UNCLE ETHAN. 31ing in the doctor's stable, waiting for him ; and he was bid-ding his mother good-bye, and receiving all kinds of lovingmessages for the little girls, when Dr Wells's voice stopped him." Laurence Bronson, is that you out there in the hall "he called from the office."Yes sir, it is I ;" and the boy stepped toward the officedoor, but the doctor met him half way."Just go back, and take off your overcoat. Do youmean to say that you have come up from the city, and arestarting off for that long ride home without taking any-thing to eat ? Come into the dining-room, and have yourdinner with me. I was not home at dinner time, and theyare bringing something up for me now.""But I cannot wait, doctor. The girls have been aloneall day, and they must be very anxious to hear from fatheragain."" They heard from him this morning, and at noon also:Stevens came over to ask how he was. But if they had notheard since daybreak, you should not go out in this stormwithout your dinner. How many meals have you eatento-day ? Nothing since breakfast, unless I am greatly mis-taken.""I have not felt hungry, sir; and indeed, I think that Ihad better return home at once."The doctor wasted no more words, but, taking him bythe shoulders, turned him face about, marched him beforehim into the dining-room, and seated him at the table, be-fore he released his grasp. Laurence had not felt in theleast hungry; but the hot dishes looked very tempting, and-in fact, his dinner did him good. When he rose from thetable, though the storm was beating as pitilessly as ever, hehad more courage and strength to meet it; and the worldin general appeared far less black and hard than it had donewhen he had looked out at it two hours before."Did you meet any one you knew in the city, to-day "
32 tAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.asked the doctor, as Laurence once more buttoned his over-coat and muffled his throat, preparatory to starting on hiswet drive."Only Dr Drayton, sir. It was not a very good day formeeting friends out of doors."" No, not very. What had the doctor to say?"" More than I know how to thank him for," replied Laur-ence, quickly. " Of course you will let the story travel nofarther, doctor; but Dr Drayton has offered me the rest ofmy course free of charge. I cannot accept his offer, but thatmakes it none the less noble.""And why can you not accept it ? It is not possible,Laurence, that you will throw away such an opportunity.You surely are not so proud that you will not take the goodgift which God offers you?"" No, sir, indeed I am not. But, Dr Wells, if I return tomy studies who will take care of my family ?"The doctor could scarcely help smiling, but his companionlooked most seriously in earnest."Your Uncle Ethan must do that," he answered: "he isperfectly able.""Never," said Laurence, quickly; but the next momenthe checked himself. "I beg your pardon: I should nothave said that. It must all be left until I can talk withfather. Now I must go home to the children.""Well, well, don't fret about Uncle Ethan, or anythingelse; for it will all work out right in time. Only Laurence,my boy," and the old man laid his hand gently on the boy'sshoulder, " don't let angry pride blind your eyes to the bless-ings with which God would lighten a dark path. I wouldthink deeply and prayerfully over your friend's kind offerbefore refusing it. Present submission to what seems analmost insupportable cross, may bring you to see by and bythat 'all things work together for good to them that loveGod.'
THE DECISION. 33"We certainly have one true friend, at ary rate;" saidLaurence, clasping the old wrinkled hand. "You havedone me real good, doctor. I feel ever so much better thanwhen I came in."" That is well. There is your mother's step on the stairsagain; and as I suppose she has some last messages for you,I will let you go."But he remembered after the boy had left him, in think-;ing over his answer to his appeal, that he had in truth givenno answer at all.CHAPTER IV.THE DECISION.THE Christmas holidays were over, the day had come for areturn to school, and Laurence Bronson stood in the door-way of the little cottage to which the family had removed,ready for his drive to Drayton Hall. The hard fight hadbeen fought, the victory won; and he was starting out uponhis new life as half scholar, half teacher in the school inwhich hitherto he had ranked with the foremost. He knewfull well what lay before him. He had seen enough of thelife of one who had for the past two years filled that sameposition at the Hall, to know that vexations and annoyancesawaited him at every turn; but these seemed but secondaryconsiderations, as he looked back to the struggle throughwhich he had passed before he had been able to accept hisuncle's assistance. If there had been one voice to encouragehim, he would have refused Dr Drayton's offer, for he re-belled, heart and soul, against receiving at his uncle's handa single dollar which his own labour might earn; but al,0
34 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.though the final decision was left to himself, every onesteadily counselled his return to school. Dr Drayton wasalmost peremptory; Dr Wells had something to add tohis persuasion every time he saw him; and his father andmother, although they said but little, were plainly on the sameside. Finally, as a forlorn hope, he went over to Mill Creek,a little village adjoining Glencoe, to see Frank Austin, hisschoolfellow and most intimate friend, to ask his advice."Austin," he said, as they sat together over an impromptulunch, "tell me honestly what you would do in this case,""and he proceeded to give him his story."Well," exclaimed Frank, our old Professor is a jollyfellow after all, if he is pretty stiff sometimes. We '11 set himUp two or three pegs higher for that, Larry.""That's so, Frank; but now comes the question, whatam I to do ? You know my uncle almost as well as I do.Put yourself in my place, and decide for me. Honestly now,Austin."Frank Austin rose from his seat and took two or threeturns up and down the room with his hands thrust into hispockets, and his head bent forward as if he were very deepin thought over this hard problem. By and by he stoppedbeside Laurence, and, leaning on his chair, said-" Bronson, I know you won't want to hear what I haveto say but you've put me on my honour, old fellow, and-I think you ought to go back."'So Laurence came home; and shutting himself into hiscoom, he fought the battle which every soul must fight inthe course of its Christian warfare. His proud spirit hadrefused to bear the yoke with which the Master's wise handsaw best to curb it; and now the conflict was hard and long.But he was thoroughly in earnest; and little by little thestrong will yielded to the still, small voice, which had beenstriving with it ever since that weary day which followedhis father's accident; until ht last he left his room, and with
THE DECISION. 35a firm step went to find his uncle, who was then in thehouse." Uncle Ethan," he said, walking directly up to him, andtaking his stand before him, "I think that I have been inthe wrong, and I have concluded to go back to school. Ifyou will consent to take care of the family in the meantime,I promise to spare no study and no pains to fit myself asspeedily as possible to relieve you of the charge; and Ipledge myself also to return to you, at as early a day asmay be, all that you find it necessary to advance to myfather."Mr Ethan Bronson looked up with a grim smile into theglowing young face." Humph !" he said, dryly. "You have come down fromyour high pedestal, have you ? I am glad to hear it; forDrayton tells me that, if you live, you are sure to make asplendid engineer, and that the investment will certainlypay. I am glad that you bind yourself to return the fundswhich I must advance; it will give you a sense of responsi-bility, which will be an additional spur to study."Laurence had not expected anything better than thidcold, mean response to his acknowledgment of his error;and yet his cheeks fairly tingled with anger and mortification.He was almost tempted to recall his words; and he stood,for an instant, irresolute, his eyes flashing and his lipstrembling with the feelings which were burning within him.But the next moment he had conquered himself again, and,turning abruptly away, he left the room.The dear old home had been sold., with its familiar furni-ture, excepting a few articles which had been given to MrsBronson by her mother. The purchaser had wished to haveimmediate possession; but, fortunately, Mr Bronson hadarranged to take a little cottage in the village of Glencoe,as part of the purchase money, and so they were not lefthouseless and homeless in this great emergency. Happily,d
36 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.too, their new abode was but a stone's throw from Dr Wells'shouse.Laurence was greatly disappointed in his hope of beingable to see his father and mother settled in their new homebefore he left, the doctor having peremptorily refused toallow his patient to be removed, even that short distance,at least, for some days to come ; but Janet, the nurse, whohad lived in the family for the last five years, and who hadbeen retained as the one servant when the others were dis-missed, was fully competent for the care of the five littlegirls, especially with their mother so close at hand, and thedoctor dropping in for a moment, two or three times a day,for a merry word or two with his young friends.What a busy, strange time it had been to Laurence, thesetwo weeks, in which, as it seemed, the whole current of hislife had been changed He had come from school, a care-less, happy boy; fond of study, but equally fond of playand fun : he was returning to it, almost a man, and a grave,anxious man at that. He was bearing his first heavy cross;and he had yet to learn that only they who, with childliketrust, lay their burthen in the strong Hand which is stretchedout for their help, find the true joy of dependence upon theMaster. Well might He, who knew what joy He could pourinto a humble heart, which, doubting its own strength,comes to Him for help, liken that joy to the kingdom ofheaven.Frank Austin, standing at the foot of the steps waitingfor him, having stopped, according to a previous arrange-ment, to take him up to school in his sleigh, noticed thechange in him at once; and when, having waved his lastgood-bye to the group on the piazza, Laurence turned hisface toward him, he broke out in abrupt, school-boy fashion-" Don't try to get up any of those smiles for my benefit,Bronson. Why, what is the matter with you ? You lookfifty years old."-
THE DECISION. 37"Hardly that yet, Frank," said Laurence, smiling in ear-nest now, at his friend's startled manner."But you look blue," said Frank. "Your mother saysyour father is better. Is anything else wrong "The question gave Laurence a feeling of shame. Surely'he had no right to look " blue," when the doctor had assuredhim that his father's life was no longer in danger ; and thecolour mounted to his cheeks, as he answered-" No, Frank, nothing but what you already know of. Butnever mind all that. Let us talk of something else. Doyou know that Dr Drayton means to give us more liberty ?He says that those of us whose parents or friends choose tosend for us, may spend Saturday at home."That piece of information changed the course of the con-versation at once; and it ran upon school, schoolfellows,and holidays, until they had nearly reached the Hall, whenFrank suddenly broke out with- ." Look here, Larry !" and stopped as abruptly as he hadcommenced." Well, what am I to look at ?" asked Laurence, in surprise." I don't exactly know how to begin what I wanted tosay," Frank went on, after a moment's pause, "for I'm notmuch used to preaching, as you know; but the fact is,Larry, I don't quite understand you fellows-you Christians,I mean. You profess to believe that God is your Father,and that He is able and ready to carry you through any sortof trouble, and that everything will come out all right foryou, don't you ?""Yes," said Laurence, slowly and thoughtfully."Well, then, what bothers me is, that you should letthings worry you, just as other people, who don't look toanybody stronger than themselves for help, l.et troublesworry them. That's a queer sort of sermon for me topreach, isn't it ?" he added, with a somewhat embarrassedlaugh " but it was in my mind, so I just spoke it out."
.38 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.It was a curious sermon for him to preach, but the mosttalented sermoniser could not have done better. Sharp,concise, and to the point, it went right home to Laurence'sheart."I am ashamed of myself, Frank," he said, as they sprangfrom the sleigh at the Hall gates. " I have thought toomuch of myself, and too little of my Master. But-FrankAustin "-" Well ? " said Austin, turning toward him."Why are you not a Christian ? You ought to be.""I know that, but there's something wanting: I don't knowwhat. Come along; there's a lot of the boys coming down tomeet us ;" and, slipping his arm through Laurence's, he drewhim on up the hill on whose summit Drayton Hall stoodsentinel over the surrounding country.The Hall was an old institution, and had been governedby Draytons-father, son, and grandson-until now itseemed as if the right of succession to the office of in-structor to the young minds of the rising generation, wasvested in that family, beyond all dispute. For sixty yearsthe Hall had overlooked the village from its high point ofobservation. Not that it had from the beginning boasted thelofty title of " Drayton Hall." There were some white headsin the little village of Graydon that could remember the daywhen the time-honoured institution went by the simplename of " Master Drayton's school-house;" when, a roughbuilding of unhewn logs, its one apartment had answered allthe needs of its twenty or thirty inmates. But, year byyear, the scholars had increased in numbers; the log-cabin,for it was no more,' had been replaced by a small brickbuilding, capable of accommodating some five or six boarders,boys from the surrounding villages, whom the fame of MasterDrayton's success as a teacher, had drawn from the schoolsof their own districts.Mr Drayton, the second, on his accession to office, as his
THE DECISION. 39father's successor, had torn down the brick edifice, to makeroom for one much larger and more commodious; and thishad, in its turn, been enlarged by Dr Drayton, the presentincumbent, until it now presented quite an imposing front,and was capable of accommodating some three hundredscholars." Here are Austin and Bronson," shouted a stentorianvoice, as the boys entered the gates; and the cry was re-echoed with welcomes and huzzas, which told very plainlythat the two friends were favourites among their comrades.A troop of boys came rushing down the hill to meet them,foremost of all, Will Seaton, the owner of the voice whichhad rung out so gladly the news of the arrival; the rough-est, loudest, rudest boy in the school, and yet the boy whomevery one liked, whom every one trusted, whom every onereally loved,-an honest, true heart, untutored and un-governed, but faithful unto death, if need were.Dashing down upon Frank and Laurence, he thrust him-self between them; and, seizing each by the arm, exclaimed-" Hurry up, you slow coaches. You need a tug to towyou up the hill;" and forthwith he began to puff and pantafter the manner of a small steam-tug, enlivening the per-formance with an occasional shrill scream, in such exactimitation of those apparently unhappy and exhausted craft,that his captives fairly shouted with laughter."There, let go now, Seaton, till we speak to the rest ofthe fellows," said Austin, as the other boys gatheredround them, attempting to release them from Seaton'sgrasp.But his captor had no such idea. He tightened his gripat once, and still steamed on as remorselessly as an actualtug, apparently unmoved by the fact that the two boys,entering into the frolic, neither resisted nor aided him, butsimply allowed themselves to be towed on, letting theirwhole weight fall upon his arms. But Seaton was not to
40 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.be overcome: on he puffed and panted, until at last, reach-ing the top of the hill, he suddenly released his hold, ex-pecting to see his two prizes slip as suddenly backward.They knew him too well for that, however, and were quiteprepared for his quick movement. The useless limbs, whichhad dragged so helplessly over the snow, were instantlyendued with strength;. and the two boys, after a retrogradestep or two, stood triumphantly beside their propeller." There's nothing like letting a fellow have his own way,Will," said Frank, as Seaton, feigning utter exhaustion,threw himself back upon the snow. "Would you like totry it over again ? "" Not this term, thank you," said Seaton; I had noidea that you were so heavy. I thought your bodiesmatched your heads."Laurence made a grasp at him, but he was too quick tobe caught; and springing nimbly aside, he burst into a roarof laughter, in which none joined more merrily than the twovictims of his jokes.There was no time for any serious thought during theremainder of the afternoon, for the boys all seemed deter-mined to make the most of the little time which intervenedbetween their reunion and the sound of the five o'clock study-bell which would call them in to resume the labours whichhad been laid aside for a full fortnight. But even in themidst of all the fun and frolic which were going on aroundhim, and in which he joined very heartily, the remembranceof Frank's little sermon would thrust itself in upon Laur-ence's mind now and then; and when bedtime came, andthe long dormitory was silent except for the heavy breath-ing of the many sleepers, that same troublesome sermonkept him wakeful and uneasy.Had Frank spoken truly ? He knew that he had, yet hecould not bear to admit to himself that he had so dis-honoured his Master; that professing to love and trust Him
THE DECISION. 41completely, he had yet shown himself so wanting in submis-sion and faith, that his dearest friend could see no differencebetween his conduct and that of those who, to use Frank'sown words, " don't look to any one stronger than themselvesfor help." And there lay all the difficulty. He had notlooked up to Him who is so ready with strength wherewithto uphold His children. Determining in the pride of hisspirit to force his way through all the difficulties whichsurrounded him, he had forgotten that we not only can butmust " do all things through Christ which strengtheneth"us; and he had begun this new and trying life, asking per-haps in his morning and evening prayers for help, yet utterlyfailing to lay his burden upon Him who was so able andwilling to bear it. And so he had found no peace and resteven in giving up his own will to the advice of his fatherand mother; for that too had been done as a necessity, notbecause it was his heavenly Father's will.As he lay there, thinking it all over, there came to himthe memory of his mother's words on the day of his visit tohis uncle. " We must try to bear our burden humbly, thatso the promised blessing may be given to us." How farfrom humble and lowly had been his bearing of his heavycross; no wonder that he had failed of the promised comfortand blessing. The soft light which shone in his mother'seyes as she bade him good-bye, the gentle, restful face whichhad watched him from the window, told him that the pro-mised peace from Heaven had come to her.By and by he rose quietly from the side of his companion,and knelt down by the bed. For a long, long while heknelt there, his face hidden in the bedclothes, forgetting thecold, forgetting his weariness, forgetting all save that he hadby his own pride and folly dishonoured his Lord, andbrought a heavy weight of pain and anxious care on hisown heart. But even then and there the blessing came tohim. He had only to whisper his repentance and his sor-a
42 AURENCE BRONSONI'S VICTORY.row, and the mighty God " bowed the heavens and camedown" to dwell with a contrite and humble spirit." Who is that ? " asked the usher, who was sleeping inthe dormitory, waking suddenly as Laurence threw himselfupon the bed again."It is I, Mr Upton," he answered. "I am sorry Iaroused you.""Are you ill ? What makes you toss about so ?"" I shall not toss any more," said Laurence, with a smilewhich the darkness hid from his questioner; " I shall go tosleep now."" I am done with tossing and fretting," he said to himself,as he laid his head upon the pillow, " thank God for that !"And in a few moments he was sleeping quietly beside Frank,who had lain all this while close to him, but perfectly igno-rant of the good which his few wondering words had donehis friend." Phew, this is as cold as Greenland !" exclaimed CuthbertGrey, as he hurried on his clothes the next morning, shiver-ing and shaking in the cold atmosphere of the dormitory."You have to make something of a jump from your cosyroom at home into this cold barn; don't you, Bertie ? Butnever mind : we'll have time for a coast down hill beforebreakfast, and that will warm us up."Frank Austin looked round to see whether his ears haddeceived him; but the bright face he saw matched the plea-sant voice which had spoken to the petted, spoiled boy,whose life at home in the holidays always seemed to unfithim for the sterner routine of school."Holloa, old chum, it seems to me you are waked upsince last night. That sounds like old times. What hascome to you?""It was your voice that waked me," said Laurence, draw-ing closer to him, and speaking in a low voice, " and youdon't know how much I thank you."*^ a
THE DECISION. 43"Thank you for nothing, I should say," said Austin, inthe same tone. "But at anyrate, I am glad the shadowhas gone off your face.""I have lost one shadow in finding another, the shadowof a great Rock," said Laurence, with a smile. "Frank, Ionly wish that you knew what it is to sit down under thisshadow with great delight."" Look here, you fellows, what mischief are you brewingover there ? " broke in Will Seaton's voice. " They 'replanning some sort of a dodge, boys, I'll be bound. Whatnow, Larry ? ""Nothing in the dodge line, Will. Are you all ready ?Come, Bertie, we 'll warm you up into a fine glow beforebreakfast time; " and the boys all sallied out together intothe clear frosty air of the winter's morning.It was a glorious day for a snow frolic, whether it werecoasting, snow-balling, or fort-building; into all of which theboys threw themselves with the energy and enjoyment withwhich such a sparkling morning always inspires a healthful,active, frame. Even Cuthbert, poor, shivering, little mortal,fresh from the home in which an over-careful love shielded himfrom every cold breath of wind, glowed with the active workat which Laurence set him ; and shouted with the loudest,as he toiled up the steep ascent with his sled, or packed ahard snowball with which to return some of the heavy mis-siles which were flying hither and thither in such quicksuccession that no one escaped the crystal shower.The fun was at its height when the breakfast-bell rang outits summons; and there were none who resisted that callafter their morning's hungry work. Then followed an hourfor study; and after that, another clang, clang, clang, thistime from the deep-toned bell in the western turret, calledall the young fort-builders and coasters into the long school-rooms for the serious, earnest work of the day. Andserious work study was at Drayton Hall. Not that the boys'
4 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.brains were strained beyond their power,-Dr Drayton wasfar too wise a teacher for that, and play and work werewell balanced in the old Hall; but school was school, andstudy was study in his eyes, and woe to the boy whodared to look at it in any other light. Even Will Seaton,wild, ungovernable spirit as he was, sat quietly conning, orpretending to con, his books when the doctor's-tall formstood in the master's desk, .or when he marched through theschoolroom, seeming to pierce through every face, and toread the very thoughts of one's heart with that eagle eye ofhis.There was perhaps not one of those young hearts whichloved the man, and yet there was not one which did nottrust him, not indeed with their joys and sorrows,-ofthese they never spoke to the head master; but they knewhim to be strictly just and true, and even though theymight rebel against what they considered a severe sentence,no Drayton boy had ever had occasion to charge the doctorwith partiality or unfair dealing.CHAPTER V.PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY.IT was no easy matter for a boy like Laurence Bronsonto take up in all its details the new position which hehad assumed. Many of his companions, with ready sym-pathy for his trial, did all that they could to render his postas little disagreeable as possible; but some of the smallerboys, over whom he had been placed as assistant teacher,rebelled against his authority, took advantage of his youthand inexperience, and led on by two or three of the older
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY. 45scholars who disliked Laurence, vented their displeasurewhen he was forced to give them less than their full quotaof marks, by taunting him with " earning his schooling," asthey termed it. But with all these difficulties Laurencebattled bravely; and although he often left the class-roomwith flushed face and aching head, he went steadily on inhis work, striving to throw his whole burden upon Himwho was able to bear it. He had had enough of fighting thebattle in his own strength; his proud self reliance hadbeen rebuked; and he was astonished at himself when hefound how easily he could bear the annoyances of his lot,now that he had taken hold upon a higher power.There was one boy in his own class who seemed con-stantly on the watch for opportunities to vex and mortifyhim. Albert Semmons had never liked Laurence Bronson;for more than once the latter had found him out in acts ofmeanness and roguery which he had supposed too well con-ceived and carried out to be detected by any one, but whichproved unable to stand the test of Laurence's straight-forward and clear-sighted manner of looking into things.It had so happened that they had come into collision quiteoften, both in the schoolroom and on the playground, forLaurence never would overlook any underhand or treacherousdealing, even in a game; and his scathing scorn had sooften fallen upon Albert's devoted head, that the boy bothhated and feared him. Now he seemed to think that thehour of his vengeance had come; and every petty annoy-ance and slight which he could invent was used to its ut-most capacity for Bronson's discomfiture. As he was farfrom being a dull or stupid boy, his fertile imagination wasat no loss for material for his work; and many an arrow shotfrom his bow struck deep down into the wound which was sooften touched that it had no chance to heal. For in determin-ing to throw aside all self-trust and confidence, Laurencehad by no means conquered entirely his natural pride,-it4
46 4 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.was only in abeyance; and although it was held down andkept under by his resolute will, it lay like a chained lion,ready to seize upon the first opportunity for a spring.But as week after week passed on, the quiet force ofLaurence's firmness and determination made itself felt inhis classes. There was less and less of insubordination and* disorder as the little fellows began to learn that resistancewas useless, and to find out also that, however decided andinexorable their young teacher might show himself as to theobedience which they owed him in the class-room, in play-hours he was quite as decided in his resolve that theyshould not be tyrannised over by the older and stronger boys.And so by and by this source of trouble almost ceased toyield him any vexation; for as his scholars learned to look"up to him as their champion, they also began to discoverthat those who incited them to rebellion against his authe-rity were the very ones who, when opportunity offered,were the most ready to abuse and victimise them.With the older classes the case was different; and astime went on, he felt a greater and greater shrinking fromthe performance of any duty which brought him in con-tact, in any position of authority, with those nearer his ownage." Bronson," said Dr Drayton, meeting him in the Hallone morning as he was on his way to a recitation, "youwill have to take Mr Vpton's place at your table to-day,He is unwell, and cannot come down."He was passing on, without waiting for any reply, whenLaurence's voice checked him."Dr Drayton, would you object to my asking one of theolder teachers to change places with me ? I think our fel-lows would like it better," he said, colouring deeply as hespoke." I. should decidedly object," said the doctor, somewhatcurtly. "I am perfectly aware, Bronson, that some of the
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY. s 47young gentlemen do not see fit to acknowledge those whomI choose to set over them; but as I consider myself quali-fied to select my assistants, I intend to show all malcontentsthat their resistance is quite useless. You will please toreport all cases of insubordination."Off went the doctor, leaving Laurence no chance for areply, and the dinner-bell would ring fifteen minutes afterthe close of the lesson. There was no remedy; and so, withhis heart sinking within him, he joined his class."What's up now, Larry ?' asked Frank Austin, as Laur-ence took a vacant seat beside him : "more trouble withthose youngsters ?""No, but I'm in a royal fix, I can tell you. The doc-tor"-" Silence, young gentlemen! The hour has alreadystruck."So the story was deferred while the lesson went on; andLaurence construed Greek verbs with his lips, but all thewhile was sitting at the head of the long dining-table, thebutt of all the jokes of over forty laughing schoolfellows,some of them good-natured jokes, perhaps, but others sharpand cutting as malice and ill-feeling could make them." Well, Larry, let's -have it," said Austin, as soon as theywere released."Mr Upton is unwell, and the doctor has ordered me totake his seat at the table."" Phew !" The whistle was prolonged until Frank nearlychoked for breath. Then he said laconically, " That'sbad."" Isn't it ? Some of the fellows are cross enough already,and I don't know that I can blame them if they do cut upwhen they see me at the head of the table. I'd rather thedoctor would have given me a hundred lines.""I'll settle it," said Frank. " Some of them will bemadder than hornets, I suppose, but the rest of us will put
48 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.you through. You just stay where you are a few mo-ments."The boys had all gone out upon the hill for the fifteenminutes' recess which preceded dinner; and Frank rushedout to join them, swinging his cap into the air with a loudhurrah."Come on, Austin: we want you," shouted two or threevoices in concert. "Let's have a game of ball.""Wait a moment," said Frank. "I 've something to tellyou. Bronson is as mad as can be. What do you think theProfessor's been up to?""I don't know"-" Hurry up"-" Let's have it"-weresome of the responses from an eager crowd of listeners; andAustin, finding their curiosity quite sufficiently excited, toldhis story."Upton is unwell, and the doctor has ordered Larry totake his seat. He hates to do it, and I don't wonder. Iwould not be in his place for a kingdom. We'll have tostand by him, boys, and help him through by behaving de-cently."" Why couldn't some one else come to our table ?" askeda voice in the crowd, in a somewhat surly tone." The doctor wouldn't allow it. Larry asked him to makesome other arrangement; but we all know that when he'smade up his mind to a thing, he '11 walk through fire andwater but he '11 carry it- out, and he wouldn't listen to Bron-son."There was much laughing, many jokes, and some sulkyremarks passing through the crowd as the boys stood about,waiting for the dinner-bell. Austin looked on for a momentor two; then, calling a few of his own and Laurence's friendsabout him, he prevailed on the little group to pledge them-selves to sustain Bronson in his disagreeable position.More than one pair of eyes were turned even from theother tables toward that of the senior class, where the young
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY. 49teacher stood at the head, erect and firm, but rather palerthan usual, waiting for the entrance of his class. Austin'sclique led the way. They took their seats quietly, with aslight bow to the Master, as was customary, one or two ofthem congratulating him half-laughingly on his promotion;then came Will Seaton. He walked straight up to the headof the table, bowed until his forehead almost touched thecarpet; and, raising himself, said with mock deference-" Please, sir, shall I wait behind your chair ?"" No, I had rather have you under my eye," said Laur-ence, good-humouredly returning his deep inclination." You may take your usual seat, if you please."But far different from teasing but good-natured WillSeaton's entry was that of Albert Semmons. Without aglance at Bronson, he walked to his seat; and looking care-lessly around, said-"Are we to have no teacher at our table ?"" Mr Upton is unwell," replied Laurence, quietly, " andI am to fill his place for the day. Will you please to takeyour seats ?"Two or three boys who had come in with Semmons, andhad agreed with him in his plan of resistance, sat down;they were not quite prepared for Laurence's air of command.But Semmons stood his ground." I believe it is against the rules for us to take our seatsbefore the Master appears," he answered, with a sneer."I1 fill that post, Mr Semmons, for the present," repliedLaurence, with such an evident effort at self-restraint thateven Semmons's promised supporters went over in heart tothe enemy at once. "As I have been ordered to report allcases of insubordination, it will perhaps be for your owninterest to take your place as usual."Manifestly it would be so; for that Laurence was fullydetermined to maintain his delegated authority, disagree-able as it was to himself, no one who looked into hisD4
50 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.face could doubt. But Semmons had no idea of owninghis defeat." Well, if no one is coming, I suppose we need not letour dinner grow cold, waiting," he said, throwing himselfinto his chair.No notice was taken of these words, and the flow of talkwent on much as usual; until suddenly Bronson, who wasanswering some banter of Will Seaton's, was interrupted byAlbert Semmons." By the way, Bronson, I should think that might do foryou," he said, with a disagreeable laugh."' What is that ?" asked Laurence, who had not heard theconversation going on at the lower end of the table." I was saying that my uncle, who is an architect, wantssomething new in the way of plans for bridges, gateways,&c.; you are a pretty fair draughtsman, I believe, and youseem so anxious to make a penny when a chance comes inyour path, that I thought, maybe, you would like to earnyour bread in that way."A low murmur ran round the table but it was hushedin the next moment by Laurence's voice."I should think it might be quite a pleasant way ofmaking money," he said, very coolly. "I will think of it."Semmons's eye fell before his steady gaze : if it had not,he might have seen that Laurence was less calm than heseemed. His lips were far. more firmly compressed thanwas consistent with an easy frame of temper; and his eyeswere lit with a flame which told that a fire of indignantfeeling was burning within him. But Semmons did notsee all this; and, totally ignorant of the depth to which hiswords had cut into that proud young heart, felt himselffoiled, and tried to hide his confusion by turning to hisneighbour with another sneering allusion to Bronson. Buthe received only a rough reply; for even his own clique offriends were delighted with Laurence's cool response to his
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY. 51insolence, and were somewhat ashamed to appear on hisside. Glad enough he was when the head-master gave thesignal to rise, and he could escape from the table, and thesmiles and jokes which were passing around it at his expense."Well, Larry," said Frank Austin, slipping his handthrough his friend's arm, as they left the dining-room,"how soon do you expect to commence operations asdraughtsman for the house of Semmons & Driggs ?" andhe looked into Laurence's face with a roguish twinkle in hiseyes."I don't know. Perhaps as soon as I have proved myability to satisfy their wants."Austin faced round upon him with such a look of utterbewilderment that Laurence laughed outright."You don't mean to say," exclaimed Austin, "that youintend to do anything toward accepting that impudentoffer of Semmons. Why, Bronson, what are you madeof ? "" Of something which fights like a Trojan against all suchwork, and especially against taking it from Semmons or anyone belonging to him. But, Frank," and he threw his armcaressingly over Austin's shoulder, "it was whispered in myear the other day that all this fighting was wrong; that 1was doing battle in my own strength, and in my own way,when I was at the same time professing to follow my chosenCaptain. I have determined to do'so no longer, but to fol-low His guidance, and leave the end in His hands; and itseems to me that IIe has opened this way for me. It mayresult in nothing, for I do not know how such things pay,but"-he hesitated for a moment; then went on, speakingrapidly, but resolutely-"If I have manhood and courage enough to win thisbattle against myself, I shall write to Mr Semmons.""When ?" asked Austin."To-morrow. I don't want to decide too quickly; but4
52 LAURtENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.when once my mind is made up, the sooner it is done thebetter.""Do you know how to direct a letter to him ?""No, I shall have to ask Albert.""You needn't do that, Larry. I'll see to it for you.You can write confidentially to Mr Semmons, and Albertneed know nothing about it."Laurence laughed. " And so escape a little chaffing, eh ?"he said. No, no, Austin, that wouldn't do. If I do it atall, I shall be open and above-board about it. You shouldn'tbe the one to discourage me, old fellow, when it was yourown words which set me thinking what an addle-brainedstupid I had been, to worry and vex myself so about thingsthat were beyond my control. I have determined now toleave all in God's hands, and to walk right on in the patbwhere He seems to lead. If I know His hand, it is point-ing out this way of aiding my father; and I think I shalluse it. If I do, I shall speak to Semmons first. I can't doany underhand work, Frank; and you wouldn't be the oneto advise it if you thought a minute, would you ? "" Perhaps not," said Austin, slowly. " I can't tell whatto say about the matter, for I never thought of such a thingas your accepting any such task. When will you find timefor it ?"" In play-hours. Drawing is no labour for me, I enjoyit so much. It will be as good recreation as anything else."" Then all the school will find it out, and you would sohate that.""( I must learn not to hate it," returned Laurence. "Come,come, Frank, it won't do for you to spoil your own work inthis fashion."" I don't know why you will persist in calling this mywork," replied Frank, in a somewhat vexed tone : " I hadnothing to do with it."" Nothing except to show me the folly of leaning on per-
VICTORY. 53feet weakness when perfect strength was offered me. Thatwas all you did, Austin; but wasn't that something ?"Austin made no answer. He sauntered slowly along byLaurence's side for a few moments, then, turning away withan abrupt " I want to find Seaton," left his friend to hismeditations.But if Laurence had followed him, he would have.foundthat he did not seek Seaton's company. On the contrary,he betook himself to the empty schoolroom, where he wan-dered up and down in no apparently easy frame of mind, ifhis impatient kicking aside of every scrap of paper or otherbit of rubbish in his path, and the contraction of his usuallysmooth forehead, were any indication of his mood.CHAPTER VLVICTORY.DURING the next two days but little was seen either ofLaurence Bronson or Frank Austin,. outside of the school-room. Every spare moment was occupied by Laurence indrawing small models for the inspection of Messrs Semmons& Driggs; and as to Austin, he seemed to prefer wanderingoff by himself in solitary places to taking part in the generalround of games and frolics. Once in a while, however, hewould join his comrades, and then he was the wildest andthe loudest of them all. The boys wondered at his alter-nate fits of moodiness and gaiety; and even Laurence,absorbed as he was in his new occupation, noticed a restless-ness of manner and a sort of instability which was strangelydifferent from Frank's ordinary demeanour. But when hespoke of it, Austin laughed it off, and would give him noreason for the change which every one noticed.
5% LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.Since the day of Albert Semmons's proposition, Laurencehad been steadily busying himself in his preparations for itsacceptance; but he had not yet obtained from Semmons hisuncle's address. The asking for it seemed now the hardestpart of his self-imposed task, and he had put it off from timeto time on one excuse or another, until finally the day came,when-his models drawn and the letter itself written-hehad no further pretext for delay. Then came the struggle,and it was both hard and long; but the proud spirit, onceso unbroken, had been humbled before, and again the hard-fought battle was won. He had been writing his letter inone of the study halls; and, having finished it, and growingrestless and uneasy with the thought of the disagreeable taskwhich lay before him, was walking slowly up and downthrough the long room, when from the window he saw Sem-mons leaning against a tree on the lawn, talking with WillSeaton." There's a good chance, and I won't lose it this time," hesaid; and without giving himself an opportunity for secondthought, he sprang out of the window upon the hard, crispsnow. The two boys had not noticed him, and as hereached the ground, they turned from the house and walkedquite briskly down the hill, keeping for a few moments incompany; but before Laurence reached them, some newobject had caught the attention of volatile Will, and, with awhoop, he had rushed off in an opposite direction from thatwhich they had at first taken, while Semmons walked on to-ward a group of boys who had gathered at the foot of thehill.At the sound of a quick, brisk footstep crackling the snowbehind him, Semmons turned his head; but seeing that thenew comer was Laurence, to whom he had not spoken sincethe day of the difficulty at the dinner-table, he resumed hiswalk, without waiting for him to come up with him. ButBronson's voice checked him again.I.
VICTORY. 55"Hallo, Semmons, wait a minute. You're the veryfellow I'm looking for.""What now ?" asked Albert, ungraciously enough tohave deterred any one less bent on his purpose."I want to ask you for your uncle's address."" You don't mean to say," said Semmons, drawing back,and looking at his companion with the most unmistakableamazement written on every feature of his face,-" youdon't mean to say that you have been attempting thosedesigns ?""I have attempted them," said Laurence, smiling; "andnow I would like to know where I am to send them."" And is it possible that you expect your drawings to suitmy uncle ?" asked Semmons, with the faintest imaginablesneer in his tone."I hope they will answer, of course, else I should nothave spent my time on them. As for my expectations, Ican scarcely answer that question, having very little idea ofwhat Mr Semmons requires. They will at least give him aspecimen of my work. Will you tell me how to direct myletter ? "" 71 Romer Street. But I'd no idea of your having theface to take me in earnest, Bronson. If you expect to getup anything that such architects as Semmons & Driggshave never seen, you must have an amazing amount of self-conceit."" Perhaps I have," replied Laurence; " bit as that isn'tto the point, we won't discuss it. Thank you for yourinformation. I shall send my letter off at once.""That's pretty plucky," said a voice just behind them;and turning towards it, the boys met Will Seaton's merryface. " So you've been and gone and done it, have you ?That's the tallest joke this term, any way. To think of theDuke of Glencoe descending to the ranks of the labouringclasses. Fellow-citizens, attention !"
56 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.At the shout, a crowd of schoolboys came rushing pell-mell up the hill, all ready for any fun into which mischievousWill might see fit to lead them. " Duke of Glencoe" wasa sobriquet with which Will had long ago nicknamed Bronson.Laurence had borne it good-humouredly enough, comfortinghimself perhaps with the reflection that if his manner weresomewhat too restrained and "stately," as- Will termed it,for his years, it did not suffer by comparison with that of histeasing schoolfellow. But this morning the blood mountedangrily to his face. He had been chafed and fretted alreadyby Semmons's contemptuous manner, and he felt in nohumour to stand one of Will's mocking tirades. For Will'sfun was apt to be more personal than pleasant, when he setout to make a stump speech, as he evidently intended to doat present.An eager, laughing crowd had gathered around the three,cheering Seaton on to do his best, with cries of " Let's haveit " " Go it, Will " &c., his orations being bits of fun that allwere loath to lose. But mischievous as Seaton was, he hada good heart and a quick eye; and that same quick eye hadcaught the expression of Bronson's face as he turned itslightly aside, and had sent a telegram down to the merry,kindly heart. He cast a roguish glance at Bronson, whichLaurence met with a shrug of his shoulders, and a lifting ofthe head, which seemed to say,-" Go on: you may do your worst without harming me."But Will had changed his mind; he did not mean to dohis worst. Looking from Laurence back to his enthusiasticaudience with an expression of comical despair, he claspedboth hands across his breast, and gasped out, as if pantingfor breath,-" Gentlemen and friends,-I rose to my feet with theintention of electrifying this audience with such a speech asyou have never heard, even from the eloquent lips of W. B.Seaton, Esq. The subject of my oration was the Duke of
VICTORY. 57Glencoe But-but-the Duke is here! iHe gave me onelook, and it was done. I had soared to the seventh heavenof eloquence, when lo !-one piercing glance from his eagleeye, and-I was knocked as flat as a pumpkin seed."The orator's arms fluttered wildly for a moment; then,staggering backward, he fell at full length upon the snow,and lay motionless, with closed eyes and parted lips. Ap-parently tender nursing was not considered the proper treat-ment for his exhausted state, for a dozen strong arms seizedthe prostrate form, and swung it up upon six or eight pairsof broad shoulders, upon which it was borne, amid shoutsand laughter, up the hill and around the Hall. But just asthe noisy crowd turned an angle of the great house, thebearers came full upon Dr Drayton; and dropping theirload, rushed away, one and all, leaving the fallen hero to hisfate."Why, Seaton, what is this ?" asked the doctor. "Ithought that you had been hurt."" I was riding, sir, 'and met with an accident. Perhapsthe horses saw something which startled them;" and touch-ing his cap with the gravest of salutes, Seaton leisurelyfollowed his comrades. The doctor looked after him witha grim smile." Always ready with an answer except in his class," hesaid to himself; " what can be made of him ?" And witheven a graver look than usual on his brow, Dr Draytonpassed on.What could be made of him ? That was a questionwhich more than one anxious heart had asked itself as itwatched this wild, ungovernable boy. There was so muchto make or to mar in him, such a wealth of force and energyand will, with no fixed principles to serve as ballast for therich freight; with nothing indeed to steady it but an affec-tionate, loving heart, of which, strange as it may seem, hewas ashamed, striving to cover it with a rough and boister-
58 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.ous manner, which served to veil it sometimes, but onlyfrom those who did not know him well. It would peepout, as it had done to-day, in spite of all his efforts tohide it." You're a right good fellow, Will," said Laurence, asSeaton rejoined the boys after his encounter with Dr Dray-ton; " and I am more than half ashamed of myself for beingso vexed at a trifle."" What's up now ?" asked Will. "You aren't going intothe humble-pie business, are you, Bronson ?""No, not yet," said Laurence, with a smile; "at leastnot into the buying and selling department. It is as muchas I can do to make what I need for my own use just now.But you did turn that off splendidly.""I turned what off? What are you talking about ?"asked Seaton, with affected surprise." You needn't pretend to misunderstand, Will. I knowwhat you were up to, and why you did not carry out yourjoke; and I will thank you, and love you for it too, oldfellow, in spite of you.""I was up to fun, and I had it," replied Seaton, care-lessly. "If that is anything to thank me for, I'm willing.And as to love, why in that you only reciprocrate myabounding attachment to yourself, Duke. Why, my dearfriend, you have no conception of the ecstatic, the perfectlyfrantic affection with which I regard your Highness. Cometo my bosom, friend of my heart;" and, flinging his armsaround Laurence's neck, he proceeded to express his affec-tion in such bear-like hugs and embraces, that Bronson,crying out for mercy, flung him off, telling him that he wouldtake his love in smaller doses at less rare intervals.The two boys had been standing slightly apart, unnoticedat first by the rest of the party; but Will's attack had drawnall eyes toward them." Oh! stop your tomfoolery and come along, Will," calledb
OLD CHRISTY. 59a voice from the group below. "We're going down toChristy's, Bronson. Will you come ?2"" Yes. Where is Austin ? Is he with you ?"" No; he went off by himself a while ago.""Anything wrong, Tom ? " asked Laurence, as he reachedthe side of the boy who had spoken."No ; unless he is in another fit of the dumps. Whatails him; do you know ? ""I did not know anything ailed him," said Laurence,"It has not struck me that he was mopy.""Well, perhaps not so very mopy as quiet and sober.He acts as if his mind were all the time full of somethingdifferent from what he is doing. Haven't you seen it ?"" Yes, I have; but I did not think of it when you spoke.He is rather unlike himself lately. By the way, I wishthat he. were with us. He always likes to go down toChristy's. Holloa, Austin Frank!"There was no answer to the loud call, though it wastwice repeated." Come, Bronson, come," said Tom Morrison, impatiently." The fellows are half-way down there already. He's awayoff somewhere; and if he comes back soon, some of thoselittle chaps will tell him where we are."CHAPTER VII.OLD CHRISTY.CHRISTOPHER DUNN was a fisherman, whose little cabinon the shore had been a favourite resort for all the Draytonboys for twoscore years and more. I he genial, quaint oldman was always ready with a hearty welcome for his young4
60 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.visitors, even when they came down upon him, as they haddone to-day, in numbers entirely disproportioned to the sizeof his small domicile."1 Well, well, and here you are again, young gentlemen,"he said, turning his wrinkled face, with its crown of snow-white hair, toward the opening door. " Come in, come in.There's always room for one more, you know, in Christy'slittle place. I was just reading a verse or two to comfortme a bit when one of your mates came in; and I laid myglasses within the good book while I talked with him, soyou 'll not shut it up quite tight, sir, if- Well, now, if itisn 't Master Laurence !"He interrupted himself in the midst of his flow of talkto grasp the hand which had been extended to lift the Biblefrom the chair on which he had placed it; and the fine oldface flushed with pleasure as he greeted his favourite."Ay, but it's a long while since you came to see me.Not since Christmas, boy."Now it was Laurence's turn to colour, but not with plea-sure, for the secret of his long absence lay in the fact thatthe Christmas gift which Christy had for years receivedfrom him on his return to school had not been his to bestow ;and it was a foolish pride-he felt it so now-which hadkept him away from the cabin for so many weeks."But it's full glad I am to see you anyways; for whenMaster Austin came in and you wasn't with him, thinks Ithere's some reason why the boy doesn't come, for the oneof you has never been here without the other before. Butwhen I asked Mr Frank for you, he didn't know yourwhereabouts at all."" Where is he now ? " asked Laurence, looking round insearch of his friend."6 Over there by the Why the boy's gone Well, he'llbe back, no doubt;" and Old Christy nodded his head atLaurence, with a knowing look which the latter failed to
OLD CHRISTY. 61comprehend. "No matter," he added, seeing that Laur-ence had not understood him. "It will all come right intime. The Lord can do his own work : we needn't fear."" And now if there's a pair of legs here that's youngerthan mine," said Christy, turning to his visitors, who filledthe tiny room to overflowing, " they must just run up theladder and fetch a bag of nuts that lies up in the loft, andwe '11 have a chat over them."Half a dozen sprang up to fulfil the welcome commis-sion; and in a twinkling the bag was in the midst of thecircle, and a score of busy hands were diving into its depths." Give us a yarn, Christy," said Tom Morrison. " Aregular sea-talk.""Oh yes, a yarn-a yarn!" was repeated from all sides."Well, I was just thinking of a bit of a yarn, and wonder-ing in my mind if you would like to hear it. I don'tknow whether you'd like it or no; but I can tell it toyou, and then you can say if it pleases you."He was standing with his back to the fire, his handsclasped behind him, looking from one to another of thebright young faces about him, with a tender lingering lookwhich rested on each as if with an unspoken blessing." Is it about yourself, Christy ?" asked Will Seaton." Those are the stories we like best.""No, it's not about myself, Master Seaton.""About some of your mates, then ? "" No, nor my mates, sir. But the men were in a mannerfriends, by hearsay at least, for I knew a good deal of them,and loved them for what I knew. And then, though we'venever set eyes on one another in this world, there's a strongrope to bring us together, for they've sailed under my Cap-tain, and served Him true and faithful. A good CaptainHe is; and if ever any of us meet, as I hope we may oneday, it's a long story we 'll have to tell one another aforewe '11 tire talking of Him."4
6-2 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.", Who was He ?" asked Morrison; for the old face hadso brightened and glowed that his interest was excited inthis unknown Commander whom Christy evidently lookedup to with love and admiration." I'll tell you the tale, and then you can see if youknow aught of Him.""Is it a shipwreck, Christy?" asked a voice from theouter edge of the circle, which had closed around the chairin which the fisherman had seated himself." And is that you, Charles, away off there ? Let him in,boys. He's such a small little chap that he can scarce seeor hear back there. No, sonny," he went on, as, the boysmaking way for him, little Charlie Grant came forwardand was placed between the old man's knees. "No, sonny,it wasn't a shipwreck; but that's what it would have beenmost likely but for the Captain. It was in a small shipthey were, on a sea far away on the other side of the world.It had been a fair day and a bright; but it was a treacherouswater, that you could never count on, for the squalls wouldfly up just in a flash like, and, almost afore you knew, thesun was darkened, the wind would break upon you in atempest, and if every man wasn't at his post and mindinghis work, the craft would never see shore again." Well, they were sailing along placid enough, when, ofa sudden, a huge black cloud swept up over the sky; thewind came rushing across the sea, beating it into foam; andthe big waves rose higher and higher, dashing like thunderagainst the side of the ship, until she quivered and moanedlike some poor dumb beast in agony. The crew sprang tothe ropes, and the helmsman clung for dear life to the helm;but what could they do when the masts bent and groanedin the tempest, which howled and shrieked through themlike some monster determined to dash them into eternity,and the fierce waves rushed over the deck, sweeping it clearat every burst ?
OLD CHRISTY. 63" And all this while, when the crew ere struggling andbattling for their lives, the Captain was not at His post.For days past He had been that pressed and overborne withwork that He was clear exhausted and worn out, and awhile back He had thrown Himself down for a little rest."Charlie Grant raised his eyes with a quick, intelligentlook, and putting his lips close to Christy's face, whis-pered-" Was He 'in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on apillow ''The sailor answered him by a nod, and a closer clasp ofthe arm which encircled him."And that wearied was He that all the fury of the storm,the cries of the sailors, and the beating of the waves, eventhe very starting and cracking of the timbers beneath Him,had failed to waken Him. The crew, knowing all He hadgone through, had hoped to weather the storm without Hishelp; and the brave, loving hearts fought it hard afore theycalled Him to their aid. But the breakers rolled higher andhigher, the wind screamed madder and madder, beatingagainst them until they could scarce hold on even by themasts; and the poor ship pitched and tossed about like atoy in the wild waters. I said they were brave hearts, thatlittle crew, and so they were, but human strength couldstand it no longer; and brave though- they were, it was withtheir rough faces pale with fear that they shouted to theCaptain, waking Him in a moment with their cry of fright.He had lain sleeping through all the fury of the storm; butthe voices of His men roused Him in a moment. He sprangup to meet a dozen white faces, wild with fear; to hear thecries of the mariners mingling with the howling of the blast;and to see His craft, water-soaked, with bending masts anduseless helm, rolling helplessly in the trough of the sea."" What did He do 7" asked one of the eager listeners, asChristy paused.4
64 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY."What did He do ? He stood up and looked out on theawful scene before Him, then stretched out His hand, andsaid, 'Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there wasa great calm.' "A great calm had fallen also on that little room; a quiet,broken, after a moment, by Christy's voice." He's the very best Captain we can sail under-w-as strongand as faithful and as true now as He was then. Godgrant that you may all take your orders from Him; andthat in every storm which threatens you, you may hear Hisvoice, saying, 'Peace, be still.' Never fear, my boys, evenif He does seem to be in the 'hinder part of the ship, asleep.'You've only to speak His name, and you will see the stormsink in a moment before the arm which He will stretch outto save you."" One, two, three, four, five, six," spoke out the tall clockon the mantel-shelf, with a sharp ring which brought everyboy in the room to his feet."That's the supper-gong, I see," said Christy. "Well,good-night, and come again soon. So you knew my Cap-tain, eh, Charlie ?" and he laid his hand lovingly on thechild's head."Yes, I was sure you meant the Lord Jesus," whisperedthe boy. "You made a beautiful story out of it, Christy."" The beauty was ready to my hand, little one. Good-night. Good-night, and God bless you, one and all.""Good-night, Christy. Thank you for your story.We 'll come again soon," came back to him on the clear,frosty air, as he stood in his doorway, looking after hisdeparting guests.And after they had passed beyond his sight, he still stoodthere, but looking upward now toward the starlit sky; andon the head of every one who had listened to his storythere came a blessing, called down upon it by that yearn-ing look.
AUSTIN'S VISIT.CHAPTER VIII.AUSTIN'S VISIT.CHRISTY paused in the doorway as he re-entered his cot-tage, and, with a puzzled look on his face, stood listening.Surely he had heard a sound like a step in the loft, hethought. Who could it be ?"Any one up-stairs ?" he called, going to the foot of theladder, which served as a stairway to the upper regions."Yes, I'm here, Christy;" and, to the old man's utteramazement, Frank Austin sprang lightly down the ladder."Your penny has come back, you see. Haven't you heardthat it is very hard to get rid of a bad coin ?"He asked the question with a short laugh; and, passingChristy, seated himself before the fire, leaning his headdown upon his hand." But how came you here, Mr Austin ? I thought youhad gone to the Hall long ago."" No ; I have been up there all the time. I didn't feellike seeing all those fellows when they came in, so I justran up the ladder and sat down in the garret. When theycame up after the nuts, I went behind that old sea-chest,and they never saw me; but I've been sitting there all thiswhile. When you were telling that story, I was lying atthe stair-head listening to you."" But it 's long past six, sir, and the young gentlemen areall gone up to supper.""Never mind, I don't want any supper.""But won't you be called up for not being on hand?"" Oh, maybe I'll have some lines set me, but I don't carefor that. I don't want my supper, and I don't feel likeseeing any one, or speaking to any one. Fact is, Christy,I'd like to get miles away from everybody, and most of allfrom myself;" and with an impatient thrust of his foot, hem4
66 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.dislodged a huge log which was burning in the great fire-place, whose fall sent thousands of sparks flying up thebroad chimney." You need to follow them sparks, Mr Austin," said theold. man, quietly pointing as he Spoke to the brilliantshower."Up into the dark, eh?" said Frank, almost roughly,and concluding with the same sharp laugh which had beforegrated on Christy's ear."Not into the dark, sir; through it, it may be, but intothe light. The sparks will lose themselves in that brightmoonlight, Mr Austin; and you need to lose yourself in thebrighter light of the Sun of Righteousness. You'll get awayfrom yourself, sure enough, when you find that, for you'll beall overshadowed and enwrapped in its glory. May you findit full soon, my son, for you're wearying for it, I know, poorboy."He might have borne the gentle words without flinching;he might even have withstood, in his irritable, impatientmood, the pathos of the tremulous, pitying voice; but thetouch of the hand which was laid on his bent head un-manned him; and in another moment the flood-gates hadburst, and he was sobbing like a little child, with his facehidden on Christy's arm.But it was only for a moment. Christy had not evenhad time to choose the words in which to strive to answerthis speechless cry for help, when Austin raised his head;and, dashing off the tears, said, with attempted carelessness-"There, Christy, you have seen what no one else in Gray-don ever saw-Frank Austin fairly crying like a two-year-old baby. The very king of the Blues has had me in hisgrasp for the last week. I suppose he'll let me go now,after putting me through that performance." And risingfrom his seat, he took up his hat as if to leave; but Christy,rising also, laid a detaining hand upon his shoulder.
AUSTIN'S VISIT. 67" It's no such king as him you spoke of, boy," he said,solemnly, " but the very King of kings, and Lord of lordsthat has had you in the grasp of His hand this past week,and I warn you not to fling aside that mighty Hand. 'Tispressing you hard, I know, and in the pride of your youngheart you are striving to escape it-but you cannot. It isoutstretched for your help; only clasp it, and it will leadyou into eternal life."They stood together for a moment in silence ; the old,wrinkled, weather-beaten face almost touching that of theboy, so fresh and fair, yet working now in every featurewith his determined effort at self-control." Believe, only believe."The words broke the silence so softly that it seemed toAustin as if he felt rather than heard them; and in thesame low, whispered tone, he answered-" I would, Christy, if I could; but I cannot."" And do you not know why you cannot ? " asked Christy,drawing him toward a low settle, and seating himself closebeside him there. " I can just tell you in a minute what itis. You're trying in your poor, forlorn human weakness todo the work which only God can do. It takes the powerand might of a God to save one human soul, and you'restriving to save yours without His help.""No, no," said Austin ; "that isn't so, Christy. I knowI need His help.""Aye, aye you know it well enough in your mind, per-haps, but-you don't feel it in your heart. Or if the feelingis in your heart at all, there's a big mountain of pride there'that's crushing it to bits. But you'll never do it, never.You may try your very best; but you'll never weather thestorm and bring your vessel into port, unless you take theLord Christ aboard as both Captain and Pilot. There'shope for you now, for you see the breakers ahead, andyou're wanting to steer clear of them if you can; but did
68 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.you ever hear of a skipper so mad as to try to steer his ownvessel into a strange harbour, which he knew was full ofrocks and reefs ? That's what you're doing; and I tell yousolemnly, my boy, as one should speak who himself has beennigh shipwreck, that your vessel will be dashed to splintersin the doing of it." But we needn't talk of shipwreck," he went on, moregently. "For the craft is sound in all her timbers yet; andthough the breakers are just ahead, there's the lighthouseon the point, and the Pilot stands ready, waiting for ourcall. O Mr Austin! you'll not rush on the reefs, with thePilot close at hand-for sure you'll not?"" But I cannot see either Pilot or lighthouse," saidAustin. " It is all as dark as night, Christy. There isn'teven a glimmer of light that I can find.""Because you don't look in the right place, MasterFrank. You're looking straight down into your own darkheart, when you should be lifting your eyes to the clearshining of His face who has said, Look unto me, and be yesaved.' There's no need at all for you to be wandering inthe shadow of the night; for the Lord Christ has called youto the brightness of His rising. Turn your face to thelight, Mr Austin, turn your face to the light."Frank rose slowly from his seat and moved toward thedoor."I can't stay any longer," he said. "It will be study-hour in fifteen minutes, so I must go. I know it's all" asyou say, Christy. I know the light is shining somewhere;but that is just the trouble,-that it should shine, and thatI should not be able to find it.""1' Seek and ye shall find.' That is a promise of theGod of truth," said Christy." Oh! I know all that," replied Austin, impatiently;"but I've been seeking and seeking, and I haven't foundwhat I need. I'm sorry to be so snappish, Christy," he
AUSTIN'S VISIT. 69added, in a quieter tone, "but the truth is, I don't feel asif I could stand it any longer. I've always, as long as Ican remember, thought I would be a Christian' some time;but lately it has seemed as if I must do something at once;and for the last week, especially, I haven't had a minute'srest. It seems as if I could not possibly stand anothernight like the last three or four that I've spent, tumblingand tossing, with the fellows around me all snoring likemad, or else sleeping as quietly as babies with nothing tovex them, while I couldn't get a moment's rest for thismiserable worrying and fussing. Now don't go and quote,' Come unto me, and I will give you rest.' I know it'sthere as well as you do; but it don't seem to come home tome. It's better for a hungry man not to see food at all,than to have it lying right before his eyes, and not be ableto stretch out his hand to take it.""But if one stands ready to reach it to him, Mr Austin.If a gracious Hand is willing to lift the Bread of Life to hisfamished lips, will he not take it ? Don't try even to putout your own weak hand, dear boy. Just open those poor,hungering lips, and let the Master fill them."" Perhaps He may some day, when I am a different fellowfrom what I am now," said Austin, with a sigh. " But Ithank you, Christy, with all my heart; for you have triedyour best with me, I know. Good-bye."" Good-bye. Don't grope in the dark, Mr Austin, tryingto be a 'different fellow,' as you say, before you take theLord at His word. Just believe what He says, and sit youright down in the light of His love, and let Him work thechange in you."Austin smiled-a sad, tired smile it was, to be seen onsuch a youthful face; and, giving the old man's hand aparting grasp, went out, without attempting to answer hislast words.To " sit down in the light of His love." That was just
70 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.what he longed to do; but then it was just what he couldnot do. If there had only been some great act of self-denialor hard duty to be performed, he would have thrown hiswhole soul into the performance of it; but this simple sit-ting at Jesus' feet to learn of Him was quite another thing,He had gone down to Christy's cabin that afternoon,hoping that something that he might say would bring himpeace and comfort. He had scarcely begun his talk withthe old man, when they had been interrupted by the suddenirruption of the noisy crowd who had followed him therebut even when the boys were gone, and they were alonetogether once more, Christy had done nothing to help him." I can't go on in this way any longer," he said to himselfpausing suddenly in his rapid walk up the hill, and sittingdown on the trunk of a huge tree, which, struck by light-ning the summer previous, had fallen by the road-side, andnow lay there, covered with snow.As he sat with his head bent, and his eyes wanderingrestlessly to and fro, the glimmer of something bright caughthis attention. A little beyond where he had placed himself,there was a cleft in the side of the tree, riven perhaps in itsfall; and the rays of the moon struck on something brightwhich lay within the aperture. Scarcely thinking what hedid, he left his seat, and bent down over the cleft. There,in that little spot, surrounded on every side by cold and windand darkness, yet sheltered in perfect safety beneath the hugeold trunk, a tiny dandelion lifted its bright head.For a moment Frank stood and gazed at it in silent won-der; then he knelt down on the ground and looked andlooked at the little child of summer, as if his eyes wouldnever weary of the sight. Gradually, the hard, strainedexpression of his face changed. It grew softer and morelender, and a tremulous quiver passed over his lips. Aftera while, he put his hand into the cleft,-how warm it was !The little flower was quite safe in its strange abiding-place 9
AUSTIN'S VISIT. 71He touched it very tenderly, put his fingers beneath it, andturned its golden face more fully to the moonlight; and then,very suddenly and quickly, he bent his own face closely down,and kissed it.What if it were but a simple field-flower, and he almosta man! It had taught him a lesson of lowly trust and con-fidence; and even as his lips touched the tiny blossom whichthe mighty hand of God had planted in that strange spot,that the finding of it might lead that troubled soul to Him,even then the humbled heart yielded, and "sat down underHis shadow with great delight," to find that "His bannerover him was love.""What is the meaning of this, Austin ?" asked the sharpvoice of Mr Acton, one of the masters, as Frank entered theHall. " Absent from supper, absent from study-hall, and outuntil nine o'clock !"" Nine o'clock !" repeated Austin, in astonishment. "Isit so late ? I suppose it must be, though," he added, as ifto himself. "The moon is so high, and it rose about six.I have been reported to the Doctor, Mr Acton ?""Yes: I have just given in the day's report. I am sorry,Austin. How did it happen ? This is something very un-usual for you.""Yes," replied Frank, "it is. Perhaps I had better goto Dr Drayton at once with my apology;" and he turnedaway, leaving Mr Acton to look after him wonderingly fora moment, and then to go on his way with the feelingthat the delinquent would probably be able to satisfy theprincipal." He certainly does not look as if he had been in mis-chief," he said to himself, as he returned to the study-hall.He certainly did not. Mischief in any form never broughtthat quiet, restful look on any human face.Entering, in answer to the short " Come in," which hadbeen the response to his knock at the door of Dr Drayton's
72 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.study, he saw at once that the report of his misdoing hadbeen read; and scarcely needed the question which wassternly addressed to him-" How do you account for this, sir ? Three hours' absencewithout permission.""My absence was quite unintentional, sir; at least myabsence from the study-hall. I must confess that I had notintended to be at home for supper," replied Austin, respect-fully."Where have you been ?" and the searching eyes scannedhis face narrowly, but saw no signs of guilt there."At old Christy's cabin."" Until this time of night ?"" No, sir; I left there at a quarter before seven, but-Ithink I must have been lost in thought," he went on, aftera moment's hesitation; "for I suddenly found myself quitea distance beyond the Hall, upon the precipice road, and themoon was so high that I think I must have been walkingfor some time."The gray eyes bent themselves even more sharply thanbefore on the boy's face; but it neither flushed nor paledbeneath their scrutiny." Of what were you thinking so deeply, may I ask ?"Then indeed his face glowed with a sudden, quick colour,which dyed it crimson; but he answered, steadily-" Of myself, sir."A suspicion of the truth flashed across Dr Drayton's mind;but absence from the Hall at such an hour was a grave offence,and he was determined so sift the matter thoroughly."You say that you were intentionally away from supper,and that you spent the time at Christopher Dunn's cabin.What led you there at that time ?"Austin hesitated. Was he ready to confess Christ beforeall men ; to " stand up for Jesus " so soon ? Yes, he was.Like the little dandelion, he had found a hiding-place from
THE BRIDGE. 73the wind and cold and storm; and now he was ready tobear testimony to the love which had so blessed him." I wanted to talk with him," he said, looking straightinto Dr Drayton's face with fearless eyes, yet with a strangegentleness of expression; and I did not wish to be inter-rupted by any of the other boys. The truth is, Dr Drayton,"and the strong young voice trembled slightly, "I wantedChrist, and Christy seems to me more Christ-like than anyone I know. I did not know when I went to him that thatwas what led me there, but I know it now."" And you have found what you sought ? " The Doctor'svoice was husky. He rose and came toward Frank, andlaid his hand upon his shoulder."Yes, I found Him," said Austin, quietly, looking upinto the master's face with a smile. "I have been veryproud and self-willed, determined to fight my own way toheaven; but, after all, a flower led me into the kingdom,and somehow I feel like a little child to-night."" Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdomof heaven," said Dr Drayton. " May God keep you alearner at the Saviour's feet for ever. Good-night, my son,and God bless you."And Austin left the study with a glow at his heart suchas he had never felt before, in thinking of the grave, sternmaster,CHAPTER IX.THE BRIDGE,." AusTIN, I want you to come down to Daisy Creek withme this afternoon. Don't make any plans with the otherfellows, will you ?"
74 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY." What now ?" asked Frank. "Have you some newnotion in your head, Larry ?""Not quite a new one. Keep my counsel, and I willshow you my last effort in the bridge line," said Bronson."' I want your .opinion of it.""I '11 be quiet as a mouse. I wish it were time for theshow now; for you look as if it were a great success."" I think it is a success. If it had been a failure, I don'tmuch believe that even you would have seen it."" I'd trust you for that, you proud old mastiff. You'dbury every failure in the bottom of your kennel, and standgrowling before the door if even your best friend tried totouch it. Isn't that so ?."" Yes, more so than it ought to be. I confess that mymistakes and blunders are a terrible cross to me, especiallyif they are seen. But I'm trying to keep that old spiritunder, Frank: I really am."" I know that. I can see that you are trying for it, andit is hard work, too;" and Austin threw his arm around hisfriend's neck with almost girlish tenderness. " Don't thinkI meant to twit you unkindly; I think you are doingbravely. But then the old fellow will show his colours oncein a while, you know, and I was only chaffing."" I know, I know," said Laurence. " Now we must goin. Don't forget to keep yourself for me this afternoon."It was a month since the day on which Bronson had senthis designs to Messrs Semmons & Driggs, and he had asyet heard nothing from them. In the meantime, no one, noteven Austin, had seen anything of him out of " Hall hours,"as the Drayton boys denominated the time given to recita-tion and study. More than once Frank had asked himwhere he had hidden himself, but the question was alwaysparried; and he was as much in the dark as any of Laurence'sless intimate companions.But little as they had seen of one another, the two friends
THE BRIDGE. 75had drawn more closely together than ever in these f.ew'weeks. On the night of Austin's visit to Christy, Laurencehad gone to bed, worried and anxious. No suspicion of the6 'truth had entered his mind, and he began to fear that Frankwould bring himself into serious trouble : first by the neglectof his studies, a fault very unusual with him; and now bythis apparently wilful breaking of a most strenuous rule.But spite of his uneasiness, being very thoroughly tired, hefell asleep before Austin came up into the dormitory. Hewas wakened by hearing his name very softly spoken, androused himself to find Frank's head lying on the pillow closeto his own."Quiet, old fellow don't wake the rest," whisperedFrank's warning voice, as he started up." But what is the matter, Austin? Are you in trouble?"" No, not now."It broke upon Laurence all at once; and, rising quicklyin the bed, he caught Austin's hands in both his own, andlooked into his face. The room was almost as light as if itwere day. The bright moonbeams falling in at the windowstruck on Frank's calm, happy face; and Laurence did notneed to ask him any questions." 0 Frank !" he said. And then Frank caught him close,and hid his face on his neck, and clung to him like a child." Don't think me a baby," he said at length, lifting him-self up with a little joyous laugh. " But I have been awfullywretched, and now I am so happy."And then they lay down again with their heads on thesame pillow, and Laurence heard the whole story." Frank," he said, after they had lain still a while, "theboys are all wild to hear about your scrape,' as they call it.I'm afraid that you'll be set upon the very first thing in themorning. What shall you do ?""Tell them the truth," replied Austin, unhesitatingly."" Will you have the strength ?"L *^ d
76 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY."No; but Christ will. You don't need to be told thatLarry.""No, Frank; I do believe you took Him at His wordmore than I did, even before you were a Christian. Haveyou lost yourself in Him already ? ""I don't know; but somehow I don't seem to thinkmuch about myself to-night. That boy, Frank Austin, withwhom I was so well satisfied, has slipped away and left noone behind him but a poor, despairing fellow, whom Christhas lifted into peace and joy. That's all I know about it,Larry."Laurence had not been mistaken in his estimate of thestorm of questions which would beset Frank the next morn-ing. Scarcely had the gong struck the hour for rising, whena score of heads were lifted from their pillows, and as manyvoices began eager inquiries for him." Hallo, Frank " " Is Austin there ? " Did he comein last night ?" &c., were some of the questions, which heanswered with a cheery-" All right. I'm on hand," as he sprang up, and beganto dress somewhat hastily.And then a host of new queries rushed in upon him."Where have you been?" "What did the Professorsay?" "Were you reported ?" and a multitude more,which he at first attempted to parry or laugh off; untilfinally some one asked the direct question, in a moment'slull,-"But really, Austin, let's have it. What were youdoing ?"The room was still, for all were interested in the answer.Laurence watched him closely. It was no slight ordeal fora boy of sixteen to stand up before twenty-five merry school-fellows, and tell them that he had chosen Christ Jesus ashis Lord. But Laurence saw that he would do as he hadsaid, "tell them the truth;" for though his face was as
THE BRIDGE. 77white as the linen which his nervous fingers were unsuccess-fully trying to button at his throat, it was set and deter-mined. The silence had lasted but a moment, when Frankbroke it, speaking very deliberately-" I don't want to make any secret of it," he said. " Ifyou wish to know what I was doing last night, it was justthis : I was looking for a hiding-place, and I found it in theRock of Ages."What a small thing it seemed, after all, when it was done.Perhaps the simple, natural way in which the words werespoken; Frank's unconstrained manner; and, above all, thechange in his expression from the worried, troubled look hisface had worn for some days,-had their effect. At anyrate, the sneers and laughter which Laurence had feared forhim were not heard. Every one of the expectant faceswatching Frank expressed utter astonishment and wonder;but the only word spoken was a prolonged " Holloa !" fromWill Seaton.The room was unusually quiet during the few momentswhich passed before the second bell rang; but no one spoketo Austin, until just as they left the room, when NedChurchill, a frank, open-hearted, but very careless youngfellow of about his own age, stretched out his hand as Frankwas passing him, and said-"I don't think much about these things myself, Austin;but I respect you for showing your colours at once."Even if Frank had not at the outset " shown his colours,"as Ned had termed it, the change in him would very soonhave been noticed by all his companions, even the leastobservant among them; for it had struck with the greatestforce one of the most prominent points in his character-his self-esteem. He was not a foolishly vain or conceitedboy, but he was talented, quick, and very well read for oneof his years; and he had been so much praised and flatteredthat he had come to think that Frank Austin's opinions and
78 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.decisions were quite equal to those of any man he knew,and far superior to those of his own friends. And the placehe had chosen for himself as umpire of the school was yieldedto him with scarce a murmur. To be sure, the boys some-times called him "The great Mogul," and other nicknamesof the same signification; but they all consulted with anddeferred to him, and he held his position with the air of aman who knew his own worth. The little boys looked upto him as a prince among their elders; and even those of hisown clique, although they joked among themselves some-times over his self-confidence, always ended their little rail-leries with-" Well, if he does think Frank Austin is a pretty goodfellow, he don't stand alone in his opinion."And just here it was that the change in him showed itselfmost plainly. Those wretched days when he had so vainlysought to help himself out of his misery had shown himhow little after all he knew, and how little strength he pos-sessed; and the knowledge gave him a humility and gentle-ness of manner which no one had ever seen before in him.Not that he was the less able or ready to speak his mind onany point; but the thing was done in a way so differentfrom his former dictatorial manner, that no one could fail tonotice it." That is what I think, but perhaps you all know as muchabout it as I do," or some such disclaimer, was now alwaysthe conclusion to any expression of opinion in a discussion;and the alteration in his manner and whole bearing was asmarked as in his speech.Laurence gave Austin no chance to forget his engagementwith him " after hours;" for no sooner were they set atliberty, than Frank found him at his side." Are you ready ? " he asked, eagerly, linking his arm inthat of his friend."Yes, more than ready; for I 'm wild to know what has
THE BRIDGE. 79set my cool old iceberg on fire. Why, Laurence, I neversaw you look so much excited in my life. What is it allabout ?" Come, and I will show you. We must go throughMerriman's Woods;" and he turned out of the road inwhich they were standing, into a narrow footpath, which,after ten minutes' fast walking, brought them into a denseforest of trees--dense, at least, when in leaf; even now,when just budding out, they grew so close that two couldscarcely walk abreast between them.No pleasanter place could be chosen for a ramble, on abright afternoon in the early spring, than Merriman's Woods.The air was laden with the sweet, fresh smell of the burstingbuds : the busy birds, nest-building in the branches, pausedevery little while in their work to pour out a gush of happysong; and the ground was covered with a carpet of purpleviolets and delicate white anemones, with here and there agolden crocus scattered through them.But the boys had no time for more than a passing glanceat all this loveliness. They hurried on; for they had quitea long walk before them, and their time was short. Onthrough the woods they walked for three miles and more,until they came at length to a break,-an open clearing,-beyond which the woods grew up again thicker and closerthan on the other side. But they were now almost at theirjourney's end; for just within this second forest, a littlebrook crept out from beneath a huge rock, and ran its merry,rippling course over a bed of stones and moss. A. pretty,tiny thing it was,-so tiny that it seemed almost as if it hadbeen made to show how perfect so small a stream could bein its beauty. Its edges, fringed with feathery ferns anddrooping grasses, were hollowed here and there by miniaturebays, where the water ran in with a soft little gurgle, to runout again the next moment, and a little farther on dashitself down over some obstructing stone in a mimic water-
80 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.fall. Beyond, again, the water lay in a still pool, clear ascrystal; and still farther, rippled and danced over small,white pebbles, running in and out among them, seemingfairly to laugh aloud in very glee.It was to this brook that Laurence led his companion.Just beyond the spot where the laughing little waveletsstopped to kiss the pure white pebbles, the stream suddenlynarrowed, and ran quietly beneath the shade of an over-hanging willow, whose branches fell almost into the water,and reached quite to the farther side. It was perhaps ayard across at this point; and here, to his utter astonish-ment, as Bronson sprang before him, and threw aside theboughs, Frank saw that a miniature bridge had been thrownacross the brook. And such a bridge Light, graceful, per-fect in all its tiny proportions It looked to him like a bitof work which the fairies, who were reported to haunt thesewoods, might have performed with their own deft littlefingers.No words that he could have spoken would have so grati-fied Bronson as the perfect silence in which he stood gazingat the pretty thing. For full five minutes he stood andlooked at it. Then he turned to Laurence, and, holdingout both his hands, said heartily-" Bronson, I give you joy; with all my heart, I do !"And Bronson-well, who could blame him for it ? Hejust threw himself down upon the grass and hid his face onhis arms, for he did not want even Frank to see it just then.That bridge had been the one thought of his mind, and ofhis heart as well, for a full month. Every spare momenthad been given to it. Through wind and storm and rainhe had traversed those four weary miles every day, to workwith all his strength for its completion. He had given uprest, recreation, companionship,-every enjoyment,-to de-vote himself to it; and now, when his reward came in thatlong gaze of delight and admiration given to his work by his
THE BRIDGE. 81dearest friend, the lips with which he strove to answer hiscongratulations would quiver and tremble, in spite of him.When at length he raised his head, it was to find Franksitting at his side, with his eyes still intently fixed on hisbridge." Bronson," he said, turning towards him, " that thing isperfectly beautiful. The more I look at it, the more perfectit seems to me. I can't imagine how you ever made time todo so much. Did Morgan help you ?""No: I could not pay him for his work. He promisedto keep my secret, and wanted to give me all his time afterwork-hours; but I would not hear of it, of course, for theman's time is his money. It is only lightly thrown together,and one can do a good deal in a month, Austin, when one is'trying to make a penny,' as Semmons says. Looking thewhole thing over, can you suggest any alterations ?"" Not one. If I had made it, I should have liked somedarker wood; but that is a mere matter of taste.""Not with me. It was a matter of dollars and cents, andI had not the dollars."" And you did not come to me ?" said Frank, reproach-fully. "You would not ask me to help you in such a way?You might at least have borrowed what you needed."" With no present prospect of paying my debts ? No, no,Frank: I cannot ask such help, even from you. I had ratherten thousand times build my poor little bridge of commonpine, as I have done. Do you call that false pride ?"" No, Larry. I think you are right to do just as you likebest in the matter. Only, I should have been glad to havehad a hand in it." And as Austin watched his friend'sflushed face, he could not but feel how tremendous must havebeen the effort which this boy, who was too proud to takesuch a favour from his bosom friend, must have been makingthrough the past three months.And yet he knew, for Laurence had told him as much,
82 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.that those very months had been the happiest of his life. Afew weeks ago, he would not have understood it; but nowhe knew the secret. He had learned what it was to " humblehimself as a little child;" and he had learned, also, that tosuch "little children" God gives a peace and strength andjoy which those who trust in their own strength can neverknow." I wish," said Frank, after they had been sitting silentfor some moments, " I wish that Mr Semmons could seethat bridge. It is strange that you don't hear from him,Laurence.""Yes, it is. I should think that he would write me aline, even if he does not fancy my designs. He would at leastreturn them."" Oh! of course he would do that; but perhaps there hasbeen some delay in the post. Wait another week, and thenwrite again, asking if he received them. How does Albertbehave ? ""About as usual. He asks me every day regularly if Ihave heard from Messrs Semmons & Driggs. I don't troublemyself on his account much; though, I confess, I shouldhave been glad if those designs had been accepted, and h1had known of it. No matter: it would not have done eitherof us any good, perhaps;" and Laurence heaved a sigh,which said very plainly that he would have liked to try it,at any rate." But come," he went on, more cheerily, " I must takemy precious baby home : it has never been out so long be-fore. Mrs Morgan gives it house-room for me, until L wantto take it up to the Hall. Wait a moment until I go overto the other side. There now; " and he sprang across thebrook. "Take out that tie beneath there, Frank, and takeyour end down as she parts in the middle. There she is,all safe;" and he sprang back again, with one half of thebridge held fast in his arms, as tenderly as if it had been a
MR SEMMONS. 83veritable baby, and he its young mother, while Frank car-ried the other portion almost as lovingly.Their errand to the carpenter's house was soon accom-plished, the treasure hidden securely away, and then theyStarted off on their walk back to the Hall.CHAPTER X.MR SEMMONS." THAT gentleman is in the parlour, waiting to see you, MrBronson," said Briggs, the head-waiter at the Hall, laying acard on the table before Bronson, as he sat in one of thestudy-halls, busily engaged at his books. Laurence took upthe card, and after studying it a moment, threw it acrossthe table to Austin, who sat opposite."Mr Semmons !" was all he said."So he is one of the ceremonious sort, eh ? " said Austin."It looks encouraging, any way, his coming here, doesn'tit ? I wish you success, old fellow. Good-bye ;" and hegave Bronson's hand a hearty grip, as he passed out of theroom to go down to meet his visitor.When he entered the parlour, he found no one there but anelderly gentleman, who looked up as he entered the room,and merely returning his bow with a slight nod, turned againtoward the window at which he was sitting. Laurenceglanced round the room to see if there were any one elsethere; but finding no one, stepped toward the window, andasked-"Is this Mr Semmons ?""It is," said the gentleman. " I called to see Mr Bronson.The man has gone to tell him."
84 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY." He told me that you were here. My name is Bron-son."" I beg your pardon," said the gentleman, rising. " I amsorry that you were disturbed; but it is Mr LaurenceBronson whom I wished to see. There has been some mis-take.""There is no mistake, sir. I am Laurence Bronson. Isuppose that you have called to answer in person a letter Isent you some weeks ago.""This is very curious," said Mr Semmons, looking muchperplexed. " I had supposed that my correspondent was oneof the teachers in this establishment. What I want, younggentleman, is to see the originator of the designs which thatletter enclosed. Perhaps you acted as his scribe.""The designs were my own, sir, as well as the letter. Iheard that you wanted something of the sort, and so sentthem to you. Did they suit your purpose ? "" And you mean to tell me," exclaimed the astonished oldgentleman, " that those designs were the work of your ownbrain, and your own unaided hand ? ""I do, sir," said Laurence, smiling."Then I have only to say that you are a very smart fel-low," was the somewhat abrupt response." For which I thank you, sir," said Laurence, lookingexceedingly pleased." Well, then, we may as well sit down and settle the thingat once, since we understand one another now," said MrSemmons, who was evidently accustomed to doing things ina very business-like manner. " What did you expect toreceive for those drawings ?""(I had no expectations whatever, sir; for I have no ideawhat they are worth. In fact, I did not even know that itwas customary for architects to buy designs. I supposedthat they did all that part of their business themselves.""We do, as a general thing; but just now we happen to
MR SEMMONS. 85have an immense number of orders to fill, and our houseprides itself on the variety of the patterns it sends out. SoI determined to call in some outside aid, if I could find whatpleased me. Your designs are peculiarly graceful andpretty. If you conclude to let us have them, I shall usethem in a new park which is being laid out by private enter-prise, not many miles from here. Suppose I offer you --for them ? I want to do the fair thing by you, especiallysince I find that you are beginning so young to try to makeyour own way; and I think that is what they are worth.Does that satisfy you ? "" Yes, sir: I had not supposed them worth so much," saidLaurence, frankly. "I am very glad.""So am I," said Mr Semmons, -heartily. "But I mustsay I was never so surprised in my life as when I found thatthey were the work of a mere boy. Are you as smart at allyour studies as you are at drawing ?""No, sir; I am not smart at anything else. The truthis, Mr Semmons, that I am exceedingly stupid," said Bron-son, with such honest earnestness that his visitor laughedoutright." It is so," persisted Laurence. " I love study, but I amvery dull; and I am often three hours in learning a lessonwhich almost every fellow in the class will master in anhour."" But I warrant that what once goes into your head neverstrays out again," said Mr Semmons."No, it generally stays there. It has such hard work tofind its way in, that I suppose it never attempts any fartherjourneys;" and the boy laughed merrily.He hardly knew what to make of himself, chatting sogaily and unreservedly with a perfect stranger : it wasquite a new experience for him; but even, while wonderingat his own freedom, he found himself telling Mr Semmonswhy he had spent all his leisure moments in steady work,