1. Black Monday
2. A Grand Transformation Scene
3. In the Toils
4. A Minnow amongst Tritons
6. Learning and Accomplishments
7. Cutting the Knot
8. Unbending the Bow
9. A Letter from Home
10. The Complete Letter-Writer
11. A Day of Rest
12. Against Time
13. A Respite
14. An Error of Judgment
15. The Rubicon
16. Hard Pressed
17. A Perfidious Ally
18. Run to Earth
19. The Reckoning
There is an old story of a punctiliously polite Greek, who, while
performing the funeral of an infant daughter, felt bound to make his
excuses to the spectators for bringing out such a ridiculously small
corpse to so large a crowd.
The Author, although he trusts that the present production has more
vitality than the Greek gentleman's child, still feels that in these
days of philosophical fiction, metaphysical romance, and novels with a
purpose, some apology may perhaps be needed for a tale which has the
unambitious and frivolous aim of mere amusement.
However, he ventures to leave the tale to be its own apology, merely
contenting himself with the entreaty that his little fish may be spared
the rebuke that it is not a whale.
In submitting it with all possible respect to the Public, he
conceives that no form of words he could devise would appeal so simply
and powerfully to their feelings as that which he has ventured to adopt
from a certain Anglo-Portuguese Phrase-Book of deserved popularity.
Like the compilers of that work, heexpects then who the little
book, for the care what he wrote him and her typographical corrections,
will commend itself to theBritish Paterfamiliasat which he
dedicates him particularly.
In England, where boys go to boarding schools, if the holidays
were not long there would be no opportunity for cultivating
domestic affections.Letter of Lord Campbell's, 1835.
On a certain Monday evening late in January, 1881, Paul Bultitude,
Esq. (of Mincing Lane, Colonial Produce Merchant), was sitting alone in
his dining-room at Westbourne Terrace after dinner.
The room was a long and lofty one, furnished in the stern
uncompromising style of the Mahogany Age, now supplanted by the later
fashions of decoration which, in their outset original and artistic,
seem fairly on the way to become as meaningless and conventional.
Here were no skilfully contrasted shades of grey or green, no dado,
no distemper on the walls; the woodwork was grained and varnished after
the manner of the Philistines, the walls papered in dark crimson, with
heavy curtains of the same colour, and the sideboard, dinner-waggon,
and row of stiff chairs were all carved in the same massive and
expensive style of ugliness. The pictures were those familiar
presentments of dirty rabbis, fat white horses, bloated goddesses, and
misshapen boors, by masters who, if younger than they assume to be,
must have been quite old enough to know better.
Mr. Bultitude was a tall and portly person, of a somewhat pompous
and overbearing demeanour; not much over fifty, but looking
considerably older. He had a high shining head, from which the hair had
mostly departed, what little still remained being of a grizzled auburn,
prominent pale blue eyes with heavy eyelids and fierce, bushy
whitey-brown eyebrows. His general expression suggested a conviction of
his own extreme importance, but, in spite of this, his big underlip
drooped rather weakly and his double chin slightly receded, giving a
judge of character reason for suspecting that a certain obstinate
positiveness observable in Mr. Bultitude's manner might possibly be due
less to the possession of an unusually strong will than to the
circumstance that, by some fortunate chance, that will had hitherto
never met with serious opposition.
The room, with all its æsthetic shortcomings, was comfortable
enough, and Mr. Bultitude's attitudehe was lying back in a
well-wadded leather arm-chair, with a glass of claret at his elbow and
his feet stretched out towards the ruddy blaze of the fireseemed at
first sight to imply that happy after-dinner condition of perfect
satisfaction with oneself and things in general, which is the natural
outcome of a good cook, a good conscience, and a good digestion.
At first sight; because his face did not confirm the
impressionthere was a latent uneasiness in it, an air of suppressed
irritation, as if he expected and even dreaded to be disturbed at any
moment, and yet was powerless to resent the intrusion as he would like
At the slightest sound in the hall outside he would half rise in his
chair and glance at the door with a mixture of alarm and resignation,
and as often as the steps died away and the door remained closed, he
would sink back and resettle himself with a shrug of evident relief.
Habitual novel readers on reading thus far will, I am afraid,
prepare themselves for the arrival of a faithful cashier with news of
irretrievable ruin, or a mysterious and cynical stranger threatening
disclosures of a disgraceful nature.
But all such anticipations must at once be ruthlessly dispelled. Mr.
Bultitude, although he was certainly a merchant, was a fairly
successful onein direct defiance of the laws of fiction, where any
connection with commerce seems to lead naturally to failure in one of
the three volumes.
He was an elderly gentleman, too, of irreproachable character and
antecedents; no Damocles' sword of exposure was swinging over his bald
but blameless head; he had no disasters to fear and no indiscretions to
conceal. He had not been intended for melodrama, with which, indeed, he
would not have considered it a respectable thing to be connected.
In fact, the secret of his uneasiness was so absurdly simple and
commonplace that I am rather ashamed to have made even a temporary
mystery of it.
His son Dick was about to return to school that evening, and Mr.
Bultitude was expecting every moment to be called upon to go through a
parting scene with him; that was really all that was troubling him.
This sounds very creditable to the tenderness of his feelings as a
fatherfor there are some parents who bear such a bereavement at the
close of the holidays with extraordinary fortitude, if they do not
actually betray an unnatural satisfaction at the event.
But it was not exactly from softness of heart that he was restless
and impatient, nor did he dread any severe strain upon his emotions. He
was not much given to sentiment, and was the author of more than one of
those pathetically indignant letters to the papers, in which the
British parent denounces the expenses of education and the
unconscionable length and frequency of vacations.
He was one of those nervous and fidgety persons who cannot
understand their own children, looking on them as objectionable
monsters whose next movements are uncertainmuch as Frankenstein must
have felt towards his monster.
He hated to have a boy about the house, and positively writhed under
the irrelevant and irrepressible questions, the unnecessary noises and
boisterous high spirits which nothing would subdue; his son's society
was to him simply an abominable nuisance, and he pined for a release
from it from the day the holidays began.
He had been a widower for nearly three years, and no doubt the loss
of a mother's loving tact, which can check the heedless merriment
before it becomes intolerable, and interpret and soften the most
peevish and unreasonable of rebukes, had done much to make the
relations between parent and children more strained than they might
otherwise have been.
As it was, Dick's fear of his father was just great enough to
prevent any cordiality between them, and not sufficient to make him
careful to avoid offence, and it is not surprising if, when the time
came for him to return to his house of bondage at Dr. Grimstone's,
Crichton House, Market Rodwell, he left his father anything but
Just now, although Mr. Bultitude was so near the hour of his
deliverance, he still had a bad quarter of an hour before him, in which
the last farewells must be said, and he found it impossible under these
circumstances to compose himself for a quiet half-hour's nap, or retire
to the billiard-room for a cup of coffee and a mild cigar, as he would
otherwise have donesince he was certain to be disturbed.
And there was another thing which harassed him, and that was a
haunting dread lest at the last moment some unforeseen accident should
prevent the boy's departure after all. He had some grounds for this,
for only a week before, a sudden and unprecedented snowstorm had dashed
his hopes, on the eve of their fulfilment, by forcing the Doctor to
postpone the day on which his school was to re-assemble, and now Mr.
Bultitude sat on brambles until he had seen the house definitely rid of
his son's presence.
All this time, while the father was fretting and fuming in his
arm-chair, the son, the unlucky cause of all this discomfort, had been
standing on the mat outside the door, trying to screw up enough courage
to go in as if nothing was the matter with him.
He was not looking particularly boisterous just then. On the
contrary, his face was pale, and his eyelids rather redder than he
would quite care for them to be seen by any of the fellows at
Crichton House. All the life and spirit had gone out of him for the
time; he had a troublesome dryness in his throat, and a general
sensation of chill heaviness, which he himself would have
describedexpressively enough, if not with academical eleganceas
The stoutest hearted boy, returning to the most perfect of schools,
cannot always escape something of this at that dark hour when the sands
of the holidays have run out to their last golden grain, when the boxes
are standing corded and labelled in the hall, and some one is going to
fetch the fatal cab.
Dick had just gone the round of the house, bidding dreary farewells
to all the servants; an unpleasant ordeal which he would gladly have
dispensed with, if possible, and which did not serve to raise his
Upstairs, in the bright nursery, he had found his old nurse sitting
sewing by the high wire fender. She was a stern, hard-featured old
lady, who had systematically slapped him through infancy into boyhood,
and he had had some stormy passages with her during the past few weeks;
but she softened now in the most unexpected manner as she said
good-bye, and told him he was a pleasant, good-hearted young
gentleman, after all, though that aggravating and contrairy sometimes.
And then she predicted, with some of the rashness attaching to
irresponsibility, that he would be the best boy this next term as ever
was, and work hard at all his lessons, and bring home a prizebut all
this unusual gentleness only made the interview more difficult to come
out of with any credit for self-control.
Then downstairs, the cook had come up in her evening brown print and
clean collar, from her warm spice-scented kitchen, to remark cheerily
that Lor bless his heart, what with all these telegrafts and things,
time flew so fast nowadays that they'd be having him back again before
they all knew where they were! which had a certain spurious
consolation about it, until one saw that, after all, it put the case
entirely from her own standpoint.
After this Dick had parted from his elder sister Barbara and his
young brother Roly, and had arrived where we found him first, at the
mat outside the dining-room door, where he still lingered shivering in
the cold foggy hall.
Somehow, he could not bring himself to take the next step at once;
he knew pretty well what his father's feelings would be, and a parting
is a very unpleasant ceremony to one who feels that the regret is all
on his own side.
But it was no use putting it off any longer; he resolved at last to
go in and get it over, and opened the door accordingly. How warm and
comfortable the room lookedmore comfortable than it had ever seemed
to him before, even on the first day of the holidays!
And his father would be sitting there in a quarter of an hour's
time, just as he was now, while he himself would be lumbering along to
the station through the dismal raw fog!
How unspeakably delightful it must be, thought Dick enviously, to be
grown up and never worried by the thoughts of school and lesson-books;
to be able to look forward to returning to the same comfortable house,
and living the same easy life, day after day, week after week, with no
fear of a swiftly advancing Black Monday.
Gloomy moralists might have informed him that we cannot escape
school by simply growing up, and that, even for those who contrive this
and make a long holiday of their lives, there comes a time when the
days are grudgingly counted to a blacker Monday than ever made a
school-boy's heart quake within him.
But then Dick would never have believed them, and the moralists
would only have wasted much excellent common sense upon him.
Paul Bultitude's face cleared as he saw his son come in. There you
are, eh? he said, with evident satisfaction, as he turned In his
chair, intending to cut the scene as short as possible. So you're off
at last? Well, holidays can't last for everby a merciful decree of
Providence, they don't last quite for ever! There, good-bye, good-bye,
be a good boy this term, no more scrapes, mind. And now you'd better
run away, and put on your coatyou're keeping the cab waiting all this
No, I'm not, said Dick, Boaler hasn't gone to fetch one yet.
Not gone to fetch a cab yet! cried Paul, with evident alarm, why,
God bless my soul, what's the man thinking about? You'll lose your
train! I know you'll lose the train, and there will be another day
lost, after the extra week gone already through that snow! I must see
to this myself. Ring the bell, tell Boaler to start this instantI
insist on his fetching a cab this instant!
Well, it's not my fault, you know, grumbled Dick, not considering
so much anxiety at all flattering, but Boaler has gone now. I just
heard the gate shut.
Ah! said his father, with more composure, and now, he suggested,
you'd better shake hands, and then go up and say good-bye to your
sisteryou've no time to spare.
I've said good-bye to them, said Dick. Mayn't I stay here
tilltill Boaler comes?
This request was due, less to filial affection than a faint desire
for dessert, which even his feelings could not altogether stifle. Mr.
Bultitude granted it with a very bad grace.
I suppose you can if you want to, he said impatiently, only do
one thing or the otherstay outside, or shut the door and come in and
sit down quietly. I cannot sit in a thorough draught!
Dick obeyed, and applied himself to the dessert with rather an
His father felt a greater sense of constraint and worry than ever;
the interview, as he had feared, seemed likely to last some time, and
he felt that he ought to improve the occasion in some way, or, at all
events, make some observation. But, for all that, he had not the
remotest idea what to say to this red-haired, solemn boy, who sat
staring gloomily at him in the intervals of filling his mouth. The
situation grew more embarrassing every moment.
At last, as he felt himself likely to have more to say in reproof
than on any other subject, he began with that.
There's one thing I want to talk to you about before you go, he
began, and that's this. I had a most unsatisfactory report of you this
last term; don't let me have that again. Dr. Grimstone tells meah, I
have his letter hereyes, he says (and just attend, instead of making
yourself ill with preserved ginger)he says, 'Your son has great
natural capacity, and excellent abilities; but I regret to say that,
instead of applying himself as he might do, he misuses his advantages,
and succeeds in setting a mischievous example toif not actually
misleadinghis companions.' That's a pleasant account for a father to
read! Here am I, sending you to an expensive school, furnishing you
with great natural capacity and excellent abilities, andandevery
other school requisite, and all you do is to misuse them! It's
disgraceful! And misleading your companions, too! Why, at your age,
they ought to mislead youNo, I don't mean thatbut what I may
tell you is that I've written a very strong letter to Dr. Grimstone,
saying what pain it gave me to hear you misbehaved yourself, and
telling him, if he ever caught you setting an example of any sort, mind
that, any sort, in the futurehe was to, ah, to remember some
of Solomon's very sensible remarks on the subject. So I should strongly
advise you to take care what you're about in future, for your own
This was not a very encouraging address, perhaps, but it did not
seem to distress Dick to any extent; he had heard very much the same
sort of thing several times before, and had been fully prepared for it
He had been seeking distraction in almonds and raisins, but now they
only choked instead of consoling him, and he gave them up and sat
brooding silently over his hard lot instead, with a dull, blank
dejection which those only who have gone through the same thing in
their boyhood will understand. To others, whose school life has been
one unchequered course of excitement and success, it will be
incomprehensible enoughand so much the better for them.
He sat listening to the grim sphinx clock on the black marble
chimneypiece, as it remorselessly ticked away his last few moments of
home-life, and he ingeniously set himself to crown his sorrow by
reviving recollections of happier days.
In one of the corners of the overmantel there was still a sprig of
withered laurel left forgotten, and his eye fell on it now with grim
satisfaction. He made his thoughts travel back to that delightful
afternoon on Christmas Eve, when they had all come home riotous through
the brilliant streets, laden with purchases from the Baker Street
Bazaar, and then had decorated the rooms with such free and careless
And the Christmas dinner too! He had sat just where he was sitting
now, with, ah, such a difference in every other respectthe time had
not come then when the thought of only so many more weeks and days
left had begun to intrude its grisly shape, like the skull at an
And yet he could distinctly recollect now, and with bitter remorse,
that he had not enjoyed himself then as much as he ought to have done;
he even remembered an impious opinion of his that the proceedings were
slow. Slow! with plenty to eat, and three (four, if he had only known
it) more weeks of holiday before him; with Boxing Day and the brisk
exhilarating drive to the Crystal Palace immediately following, with
all the rest of a season of licence and varied joys to come, which he
could hardly trust himself to look back upon now! He must have been mad
to think such a thing.
Overhead his sister Barbara was playing softly one of the airs from
The Pirates (it was Frederic's appeal to the Major-General's
daughters), and the music, freed from the serio-comic situation which
it illustrates, had a tenderness and pathos of its own which went to
Dick's heart and intensified his melancholy.
He had gone (in secret, for Mr. Bultitude disapproved of such
dissipations) to hear the Opera in the holidays, and now the piano
conjured the whole scene up for him againthere would be no more
theatre-going for him for a very long time!
By this time Mr. Bultitude began to feel the silence becoming once
more oppressive, and roused himself with a yawn. Heigho! he said,
Boaler's an uncommonly long time fetching that cab!
Dick felt more injured than ever, and showed it by drawing what he
intended for a moving sigh.
Unfortunately it was misunderstood.
I do wish, sir, said his parent testily, you would try to break
yourself of that habit of breathing hard. The society of a grampus (for
it's no less) delights no one and offends manyincluding meand for
Heaven's sake, Dick, don't kick the leg of the table in that way; you
know it simply maddens me. What do you do it for? Why can't you learn
to sit at table like a gentleman?
Dick mumbled some apology, and then, having found his tongue and
remembered his necessities, said, with a nervous catch in his voice,
Oh, I say, father, will youcan you let me have some pocket-money,
please, to go back with?
Mr. Bultitude looked as if his son had petitioned for a latch-key.
Pocket-money! he repeated, why, you can't want money. Didn't your
grandmother give you a sovereign as a Christmas-box? And I gave you ten
I do want it, though, said Dick; that's all spent. And you know
you always have given me money to take back.
If I do give you some, you'll only go and spend it, grumbled Mr.
Bultitude, as if he considered money an object of art.
I shan't spend it all at once, and I shall want some to put in the
plate on Sundays. We always have to put in the plate when it's a
collection. And there's the cab to pay.
Boaler has orders to pay your cabas you know well enough, said
his father, but I suppose you must have some, though you cost me
enough, Heaven knows, without this additional expense.
And at this he brought up a fistful of loose silver and gold from
one of his trouser-pockets, and spread it deliberately out on the table
in front of him in shining rows.
Dick's eyes sparkled at the sight of so much wealth; for a moment or
two he almost forgot the pangs of approaching exile in the thought of
the dignity and credit which a single one of those bright new
sovereigns would procure for him.
It would ensure him surreptitious luxuries and open friendships as
long as it lasted. Even Tipping, the head boy of the school, who had
gone into tails, brought back no more, and besides, the money would
bring him handsomely out of certain pecuniary difficulties to which an
unexpected act of parental authority had exposed him; he could easily
dispose of all claims with such a sum at command, and then his father
could so easily spare it out of so much!
Meanwhile Mr. Bultitude, with great care and precision, selected
from the coins before him a florin, two shillings, and two sixpences,
which he pushed across to his son, who looked at them with a
disappointment he did not care to conceal.
An uncommonly liberal allowance for a young fellow like you, he
observed. Don't buy any foolishness with it, and if, towards the end
of the term you want a little more, and write an intelligible letter
asking for it, and I think proper to let you have itwhy, you'll get
it, you know.
Dick had not the courage to ask for more, much as he longed to do
so, so he put the money in his purse with very qualified expressions of
In his purse he seemed to find something which had escaped his
memory, for he took out a small parcel and unfolded it with some
I nearly forgot, he said, speaking with more animation than he had
yet done, I didn't like to take it without asking you, but is this any
use? May I have it?
Eh? said Mr. Bultitude, sharply, what's that? Something
elsewhat is it you want now?
It's only that stone Uncle Duke brought mamma from India; the
thing, he said, they called a 'Pagoda stone,' or something, out there.
Pagoda stone? The boy means Garudâ Stone. I should like to know how
you got hold of that; you've been meddling in my drawers, now, a thing
I will not put up with, as I've told you over and over again.
No, I haven't, then, said Dick, I found it in a tray in the
drawing-room, and Barbara said, perhaps, if I asked you, you might let
me have it, as she didn't think it was any use to you.
Then Barbara had no right to say anything of the sort.
But may I have it? I may, mayn't I? persisted Dick.
Have it? certainly not. What could you possibly want with a thing
like that? It's ridiculous. Give it to me.
Dick handed it over reluctantly enough. It was not much to look at,
quite an insignificant-looking little square tablet of greyish green
stone, pierced at one angle, and having on two of its faces faint
traces of mysterious letters or symbols, which time had made very
difficult to distinguish.
It looked harmless enough as Mr. Bultitude took it in his hand;
there was no kindly hand to hold him back, no warning voice to hint
that there might possibly be sleeping within that small marble block
the pent-up energy of long-forgotten Eastern necromancy, just as ready
as ever to awake into action at the first words which had power to
There was no one; but even if there had been such a person, Paul
Bultitude was a sober prosaic individual, who would probably have
treated the warning as a piece of ridiculous superstition.
As it was, no man could have put himself in a position of extreme
peril with a more perfect unconsciousness of his danger.
Magnaque numinibus vota exaudita malignis.
Paul Bultitude put on his glasses to examine the stone more
carefully, for it was some time since he had last seen or thought about
it. Then he looked up and said once more, What use would a thing like
this be to you?
Dick would have considered it a very valuable prize indeed; he could
have exhibited it to admiring friendsduring lessons, of course, when
it would prove a most agreeable distraction; he could have played with
and fingered it incessantly, invented astonishing legends of its powers
and virtues; and, at last, when he had grown tired of it, have bartered
it for any more desirable article that might take his fancy. All these
advantages were present to his mind in a vague shifting form, but he
could not find either courage or words to explain them.
Consequently he only said awkwardly, Oh, I don't know, I should
Well, any way, said Paul, you certainly won't have it. It's worth
keeping, whatever it is, as the only thing your uncle Marmaduke was
ever known to give to anybody.
Marmaduke Paradine, his brother-in-law, was not a connection of whom
he had much reason to feel particularly proud. One of those persons
endowed with what are known as insinuating manners and address, he
had, after some futile attempts to enter the army, been sent out to
Bombay as agent for a Manchester firm, and in that capacity had
contrived to be mixed up in some more than shady transactions with
rival exporters and native dealers up the country, which led to an
unceremonious dismissal by his employers.
He had brought home the stone from India as a propitiatory token of
remembrance, more portable and less expensive than the lacquered
cabinets, brasses, stuffs and carved work which are expected from
friends at such a distance, and he had been received with pardon and
started once more, until certain other proceedings of his, shadier
still, had obliged Paul to forbid him the house at Westbourne Terrace.
Since then little had been heard of him, and the reports which
reached Mr. Bultitude of his disreputable relative's connection with
the promotion of a series of companies of the kind affected by the
widow and curate, and exposed in money articles and law courts, gave
him no desire to renew his acquaintance.
Isn't it a talisman, though? said Dick, rather unfortunately for
any hopes he might have of persuading his father to entrust him with
the coveted treasure.
I'm sure I can't tell you, yawned Paul, how do you mean?
I don't know, only Uncle Duke once said something about it. Barbara
heard him tell mamma. I say, perhaps it's like the one in Scott, and
cures people of things, though I don't think it's that sort of talisman
either, because I tried it once on my chilblains, and it wasn't a bit
of good. If you would only let me have it, perhaps I might find out,
You might, said his father drily, apparently not much influenced
by this inducement, but you won't have the chance. If it has a secret,
I will find it out for myself (he little knew how literally he was to
be taken at his word), and, by the way, there's your cabat last.
There was a sound of wheels outside, and, as Dick heard them, he
grew desperate in his extremity; a wish he had long secretly cherished
unspoken, without ever hoping for courage to give it words, rose to his
lips now; he got up and moved timidly towards his father.
Father, he said, there's something I want to say to you so much
before I go. Do let me ask you now.
Well, what is it? said Paul. Make haste, you haven't much time.
It's this. I want you toto let me leave Grimstone's at the end of
Paul stared at him, angry and incredulous, Let you leave Dr.
Grimstone's (oblige me by giving him his full title when you speak of
him), he said slowly. Why, what do you mean? It's an excellent
schoolnever saw a better expressed prospectus in my life. And my old
friend Bangle, Sir Benjamin Bangle, who's a member of the School Board,
and ought to know something about schools, strongly recommended
itwould have sent his own son there, if he hadn't entered him at
Eton. And when I pay for most of the extras for you too. Dancing, by
Gad, and meat for breakfast. I'm sure I don't know what you would
I'd like to go to Marlborough, or Harrow, or somewhere, whimpered
Dick. Jolland's going to Harrow at Easter. (Jolland's one of the
fellows at Grimstone'sDr. Grimstone's I mean.) And what does old
Bangle know about it? He hasn't got to go there himself! Andand
Grimstone's jolly enough to fellows he likes, but he doesn't like me
he's always sitting on me for somethingand I hate some of the
fellows there, and altogether it's beastly. Do let me leave! If you
don't want me to go to a public school, II could stop at home and
have a private tutorlike Joe Twitterley!
It's all ridiculous nonsense, I tell you, said Paul angrily,
ridiculous nonsense! And, once for all, I'll put a stop to it. I don't
approve of public schools for boys like you, and, what's more, I can't
afford it. As for private tutors, that's absurd! So you will just make
up your mind to stay at Crichton House as long as I think proper to
keep you there, and there's an end of that!
At this final blow to all his hopes, Dick began to sob in a subdued
hopeless kind of way, which was more than his father could bear. To do
Paul justice, he had not meant to be quite so harsh when the boy was
about to set out for school, and, a little ashamed of his irritation,
he sought to justify his decision.
He chose to do this by delivering a short homily on the advantages
of school, by which he might lead Dick to look on the matter in the
calm light of reason and common sense, and commonplaces on the subject
began to rise to the surface of his mind, from the rather muddy depths
to which they had long since sunk.
He began to give Dick the benefit of all this stagnant wisdom, with
a feeling of surprise as he went on, at his own powerful and original
way of putting things.
Now, you know, it's no use to cry like that, he began.
It'sahthe usual thing for boys at school, I'm quite aware, to go
about fancying they're very ill-used, and miserable, and all the rest
of it, just as if people in my position had their sons educated out of
spite! It's one of those petty troubles all boys have to go through.
And you mark my words, my boy, when they go out into the world and have
real trials to put up with, and grow middle-aged men, like me, why,
they see what fools they've been, Dick; they see what fools they've
been. All thehum, the innocent games and delights of boyhood, and
that sort of thing, you knowcome back to themand then they look
back to those hours passed at school as the happiest, aye, the very
happiest time of their life!
Well, said Dick, then I hope it won't be the happiest time in
mine, that's all! And you may have been happy at the school you went
to, perhaps, but I don't believe you would very much care about being a
boy again like me, and going back to Grimstone's, you know you
This put Paul on his mettle; he had warmed well to his subject, and
could not let this open challenge pass unnoticedit gave him such an
opening for a cheap and easy effect.
He still had the stone in his hand as he sank back into his chair,
smiling with a tolerant superiority.
Perhaps you will believe me, he said, impressively, when I tell
you, old as I am and much as you envy me, I only wish, at this very
moment, I could be a boy again, like you. Going back to school wouldn't
make me unhappy, I can tell you.
It is so fatally easy to say more than we mean in the desire to make
as strong an impression as possible. Well for most of us thatmore
fortunate than Mr. Bultitudewe can generally do so without fear of
being taken too strictly at our word.
As he spoke these unlucky words, he felt a slight shiver, followed
by a curious shrinking sensation all over him. It was odd, too, but the
arm-chair in which he sat seemed to have grown so much bigger all at
once. He felt a passing surprise, but concluded it must be fancy, and
went on as comfortably as before.
I should like it, my boy, but what's the good of wishing? I only
mention it to prove that I was not speaking at random. I'm an old man
and you're a young boy, and, that being so, why, of courseWhat the
dooce are you giggling about?
For Dick, after some seconds of half-frightened open-mouthed
staring, had suddenly burst into a violent fit of almost hysterical
giggling, which he seemed trying vainly to suppress.
This naturally annoyed Mr. Bultitude, and he went on with immense
dignity, IahI'm not aware that I've been saying anything
particularly ridiculous. You seem to be amused?
Don't! gasped Dick. It, it isn't anything you're sayingit's,
it'soh, can't you feel any difference?
The sooner you go back to school the better! said Paul angrily. I
wash my hands of you. When I do take the trouble to give you any
advice, it's received with ridicule. You always were an ill-mannered
little cub. I've had quite enough of this. Leave the room, sir!
The wheels must have belonged to some other cab, for none had
stopped at the pavement as yet; but Mr. Bultitude was justly indignant,
and could stand the interview no longer. Dick, however, made no attempt
to move; he remained there, choking and shaking with laughter, while
his father sat stiffly on his chair, trying to ignore his son's
unmannerly conduct, but only partially succeeding.
No one can calmly endure watching other people laughing at him like
idiots, while he is left perfectly incapable of guessing what he has
said or done to amuse them. Even when this is known, it requires a
peculiarly keen sense of humour to see the point of a joke against
At last his patience gave out, and he said coldly, Now, perhaps, if
you are quite yourself again, you will be good enough to let me know
what the joke is?
Dick, looking flushed and half-ashamed, tried again and again to
speak, but each time the attempt was too much for him. After a time he
did succeed, but his voice was hoarse and shaken with laughter as he
spoke. Haven't you found it out yet? Go and look at yourself in the
glassit will make you roar!
There was the usual narrow sheet of plate glass at the back of the
sideboard, and to this Mr. Bultitude walked, almost under protest, and
with a cold dignity. It occurred to him that he might have a smudge on
his face or something wrong with his collar and tiesomething to
account to some extent for his son's frivolous and insulting behaviour.
No suspicion of the terrible truth crossed his mind as yet.
Meanwhile Dick was looking on eagerly with a chuckle of
anticipation, as one who watches the dawning appreciation of an
But no sooner had Paul met the reflection in the glass than he
started back in incredulous horrorthen returned and stared again and
Surely, surely, this could not be he!
He had expected to see his own familiar portly bow-windowed presence
therebut somehow, look as he would, the mirror insisted upon
reflecting the figure of his son Dick. Could he possibly have become
invisible and have lost the power of casting a reflectionor how was
it that Dick, and only Dick, was to be seen there?
How was it, too, when he looked round, there was the boy still
sitting there? It could not be Dick, evidently, that he saw in the
glass. Besides, the reflection opposite him moved when he moved,
returned when he returned, copied his every gesture!
He turned round upon his son with angry and yet hopeful suspicion.
You, you've been playing some of your infernal tricks with this
mirror, sir, he cried fiercely. What have you done to it?
Done! how could I do anything to it? As if you didn't know that!
Then, stammered Paul, determined to know the worst, then do you,
do you mean to tell me you can see anyalteration in me? Tell me the
I should just think I could! said Dick emphatically. It's very
queer, but just look here, and he came up to the sideboard and placed
himself by the side of his horrified father. Why, he said, with
another giggle, we'rehe-heas like as two peas!
They were indeed; the glass reflected now two small boys, each with
chubby cheeks and auburn hair, both dressed, too, exactly alike, in
Eton jackets and broad white collars; the only difference to be seen
between them was that, while one face wore an expression of intense
glee and satisfaction, the otherthe one which Mr. Bultitude was
beginning to fear must belong to himwas lengthened and drawn with
dismay and bewilderment.
Dick, said Paul faintly, what is all this? Who has been, been
taking these liberties with me?
I'm sure I don't know, protested Dick. It wasn't me. I believe
you did it all yourself.
Did it all myself! repeated Paul indignantly. Is it likely I
should? It's some trickery, I tell you, some villainous plot. The worst
of it is, he added plaintively, I don't understand who I'm supposed
to be now. Dick, who am I?
You can't be me, said Dick, because here I am, you know. And
you're not yourself, that's very plain. You must be somebody, I
suppose, he added dubiously.
Of course I am. What do you mean? said Paul angrily. Never mind
who I am. I feel just the same as I always did. Tell me when you first
began to notice any change. Could you see it coming on at all, eh?
It was all at once, just as you were talking about school and all
that. You said you only wishedWhy of course; look here, it must be
the stone that did it!
Stone! what stone? said Paul. I don't know what you're talking
Yes, you dothe Garudâ Stone! You've got it in your hand still.
Don't you see? It's a real talisman after all! How jolly!
I didn't do anything to set it off; and besides, oh, it's perfectly
absurd! How can there be such things as talismans nowadays, eh? Tell me
Well, something's happened to you, hasn't it? And it must have been
done somehow, argued Dick.
I was holding the confounded thing, certainly, said Paul, here it
is. But what could I have said to start it? What has it done this to me
I know! cried Dick. Don't you remember? You said you wished you
were a boy again, like me. So you are, you see, exactly like me! What a
lark it is, isn't it? But, I say, you can't go up to business like
that, you know, can you? I tell you what, you'd better come to
Grimstone's with me now, and see how you like it. I shouldn't mind so
much if you came too. Grimstone's face would be splendid when he saw
two of us. Do come!
That's ridiculous nonsense you're talking, said Paul, and you
know it. What should I do at school at my age? I tell you I'm the same
as ever inside, though I may have shrunk into a little rascally boy to
look at. And it's simply an abominable nuisance, Dick, that's what it
is! Why on earth couldn't you let the stone alone? Just see what
mischief you've done by meddling nowput me to all this
You shouldn't have wished, said Dick.
Wished! echoed Mr. Bultitude. Why, to be sure, he said, with a
gleam of returning hopefulness, of courseI never thought of that.
The thing's a wishing stone; it must be! You have to hold it, I
suppose, and then say what you wish aloud, and there you are. If that's
the case, I can soon put it all right by simply wishing myself back
again. II shall have a good laugh at all this by and byI know I
He took the stone, and got into a corner by himself where he began
repeating the words, I wish I was back again, I wish I was the man I
was five minutes ago, I wish all this had not happened, and so on,
until he was very exhausted and red in the face. He tried with the
stone held in his left hand, as well as his right, sitting and
standing, under all the various conditions he could think of, but
absolutely nothing came of it; he was just as exasperatingly boyish and
youthful as ever at the end of it.
I don't like this, he said at last, giving it up with a rather
crestfallen air. It seems to me that this diabolical invention has got
out of order somehow; I can't make it work any more!
Perhaps, suggested Dick, who had shown throughout the most
unsympathetic cheerfulness, perhaps it's one of those talismans that
only give you one wish, and you've had it, you know?
Then it's all over! groaned Paul. What the dooce am I to do? What
shall I do? Suggest something, for Heaven's sake; don't stand cackling
there in that unfeeling manner. Can't you see what a terrible, mess
I've got into? Supposeonly suppose your sister or one of the servants
were to come in, and see me like this!
This suggestion simply enchanted Dick. Let's have 'em all up, he
laughed; it would be such fun! How they will laugh when we tell them!
And he rushed to the bell.
Touch that bell if you dare! screamed Paul. I won't be seen in
this condition by anybody! What on earth could have induced that
scoundrelly uncle of yours to bring such a horrible thing as this over
I can't imagine! I never heard of such a situation as this in my life.
I can't stay like this, you knowit's not to be thought of! II
wonder whether it would be any use to send over to Dr. Bustard and ask
him to step in; he might give me something to bring me round. But then
the whole neighbourhood would hear about it! If I don't see my way out
of this soon, I shall go raving mad!
And he paced restlessly up and down the room with his brain on fire.
All at once, as he became able to think more coherently, there
occurred to him a chance, slender and desperate enough, but still a
chance, of escaping even yet the consequences of his folly.
He was forced to conclude that, however improbable and fantastic it
might appear in this rationalistic age, there must be some hidden power
in this Garudâ Stone which had put him in his present very unpleasant
position. It was plain too that the virtues of the talisman refused to
exert themselves any more at his bidding.
But it did not follow that in another's hands the spell would remain
as powerless. At all events, it was an experiment well worth the trial,
and he lost no time in explaining the notion to Dick, who, by the
sparkle in his eyes and suppressed excitement in his manner, seemed to
think there might be something in it.
I may as well try, he said, give it to me.
Take it, my dear boy, said Paul, with a paternal air that sorely
tried Dick's recovered gravity, it contrasted so absurdly with his
altered appearance. Take it, and wish your poor old father himself
Dick took it, and held it thoughtfully for some moments, while Paul
waited in nervous impatience. Isn't it any use? he said dolefully at
last, as nothing happened.
I don't know, said Dick calmly, I haven't wished yet.
Then do so at once, said Paul fussily, do so at once. There's no
time to waste, every moment is of importanceyour cab will be here
directly. Although, although I'm altered in this ridiculous way, I hope
I still retain my authority as a father, and as a father, by Gad, I
expect you to obey me, sir!
Oh, all right, said Dick indifferently, you may keep the
authority if you like.
Then do what I tell you. Can't you see how urgent it is that a
scandal like this shouldn't get about? I should be the laughing-stock
of the city. Not a soul must ever guess that such a thing has happened.
You must see that yourself.
Yes, said Dick, who all this time was sitting on a corner of the
table, swinging his legs, I see that. It will be all right. I'm going
to wish in a minute, and no one will guess there has been anything the
That's a good boy! said Paul, much relieved, I know your heart is
in the right placeonly do make haste.
I suppose, Dick asked, when you are yourself again, things would
go on just as usual?
II hope so.
I mean you will go on sitting here, and I shall go off to
Of course, of course, said Paul; don't ask so many questions. I'm
sure you quite understand what has to be done, so get on. We might be
found like this any minute.
That settles it, said Dick, any fellow would do it after that.
Yes, yes, but you're so slow about it!
Don't be in a hurry, said Dick, you mayn't like it after all when
I've done it.
Done what? asked Mr. Bultitude sharply, struck by something
sinister and peculiar in the boy's manner.
Well, I don't mind telling you, said Dick, it's fairer. You see,
you wished to be a boy just like me, didn't you?
I didn't mean it, protested Paul.
Ah, you couldn't expect a stone to know that; at any rate, it made
you into a boy like me directly. Now, if I wish myself a man just like
you were ten minutes ago, before you took the stone, that will put
things all right again, won't it?
Is the boy mad? cried Paul, horrified at this proposal. Why, why,
that would be worse than ever!
I don't see that, objected Dick, stubbornly. No one would know
anything about it then.
But, you little blockhead, can't I make you understand? It wouldn't
do at all. We should both of us be wrong theneach with the other's
Well, said Dick blandly, I shouldn't mind that.
But I shouldI mind very much. I object strongly to such asuch a
preposterous arrangement. And what's more, I won't have it. Do you
hear, I forbid you to think of any such thing. Give me back that stone.
I can't trust you with it after this.
I can't help it, said Dick doggedly. You've had your wish, and I
don't see why I shouldn't have mine. I mean to have it, too.
Why, you unnatural little rascal! cried the justly-enraged father,
do you mean to defy me? I tell you I will have that stone! Give it up
this instant! and he made a movement towards his son, as if he meant
to recover the talisman by main force.
But Dick was too quick for him. Slipping off the table with great
agility, he planted himself firmly on the hearth-rug, with the hand
that held the stone clenched behind his back, and the other raised in
I'd much rather you wouldn't make me hit you, you know, he said,
because, in spite of what's happened, you're still my father, I
suppose. But if you interfere with me before I've done with this stone,
I'm afraid I shall have to punch your head.
Mr. Bultitude retreated a few steps apprehensively, feeling himself
no match for his son, except in size and general appearance; and for
some moments of really frightful intensity they stood panting on the
hearth-rug, each cautiously watching the other, on his guard against
stratagem and surprise.
It was one of those painful domestic scenes which are fortunately
rare between father and son.
Overhead, the latest rollicking French polka was being rattled out,
with a savage irony of which pianos, even by the best makers, can at
times be capable.
Suddenly Dick drew himself up. Stand out of my way! he cried
excitedly, I am going to do it. I wish I was a man like you were just
And as he spoke, Mr. Bultitude had the bitterness of seeing his
unscrupulous son swell out like the frog in the fable, till he stood
there before him the exact duplicate of what Paul had so lately been!
The transformed Dick began to skip and dance round the room in high
glee, with as much agility as his increased bulk would allow. It's all
right, you see, he said. The old stone's as good as ever. You can't
say anyone would ever know, to look at us.
And then he threw himself panting into a chair, and began to laugh
excitedly at the success of his unprincipled manoeuvres.
As for Paul, he was perfectly furious at having been so outwitted
and overreached. It was a long time before he could command his voice
sufficiently to say, savagely: Well, you've had your way, and a pretty
mess you've made of it. We're both of us in false positions now. I hope
you're satisfied, I'm sure. Do you think you'll care about going back
to Crichton House in that state?
No, said Dick, very decidedly: I'm quite sure I shouldn't.
Well, I can't help it. You've brought it on yourself; and, provided
the Doctor sees no objection to take you back as you are and receive
you as one of his pupils, I shall most certainly send you there.
Paul did not really mean this, he only meant to frighten him; for he
still trusted that, by letting Boaler into the secret, the charm might
be set in motion once more, and the difficulty comfortably overcome.
But his threat had a most unfortunate effect upon Dick; it hardened him
to take a course he might otherwise have shrunk from.
Oh, he said, you're going to do that? But doesn't it strike you
that things are rather altered with us now?
They are, to a certain extent, of course, said Paul, through my
folly and your wicked cunning; but a word or two of explanation from
You'll find it will take more explanation than you think, said
Dick; but, of course, you can try, if you think it worth whilewhen
you get to Grimstone's.
When I,I don't understand. When I,what did you say? gasped
Why, you see, exclaimed Dick, it would never have done for us
both to go back; the chaps would have humbugged us so, and as I hate
the place and you seem so fond of being a boy and going back to school
and that, I thought perhaps it would be best for you to go and see how
you liked it!
I never will! I'll not stir from this room! I dare you to try to
move me! cried Paul. And just then there was the sound of wheels
outside once more. They stopped before the house, the bell rang
sharplythe long-expected cab had come at last.
You've no time to lose, said Dick, get your coat on.
Mr. Bultitude tried to treat the affair as a joke. He laughed a
ghastly little laugh.
Ha! ha! you've fairly caught your poor father this time; you've
proved him in the wrong. I admit I said more than I exactly meant. But
that's enough. Don't drive a good joke too far; shake hands, and let us
see if we can't find a way out of this!
But Dick only warmed his coat tails at the fire as he said, with a
very ungenerous reminiscence of his father's manner: You are going
back to an excellent establishment, where you will enjoy all the
comforts of homeI can specially recommend the stickjaw; look out for
it on Tuesdays and Fridays. You will once more take part in the games
and lessons of happy boyhood. (Did you ever play 'chevy' when you were
a boy before? You'll enjoy chevy.) And you will find your companions
easy enough to get on with, if you don't go giving yourself airs; they
won't stand airs. Now good-bye, my boy, and bless you!
Paul stood staring stupidly at this outrageous assumption; he could
scarcely believe yet that it was meant in cruel earnest. Before he
could answer, the door opened and Boaler appeared.
Had a deal of trouble to find a keb, sir, on a night like this, he
said to the false Dick, but the luggage is all on top, and the man
says there's plenty of time still.
Good-bye then, my boy, said Dick, with well-assumed tenderness,
but a rather dangerous light in his eye. My compliments to the Doctor,
Paul turned indignantly from him to the butler; he, at least, would
stand by him. Boaler would not see a master who had always been fair,
if not indulgent, to him driven from his home in this cold-blooded
He made two or three attempts to speak, for his brain whirled so
with scathing, burning things to say. He would expose the fraud then
and there, and defy the impudent usurper; he would warn every one
against this spurious pinchbeck imitation of himself. The whole
household should be summoned and called upon to judge between the two!
No doubt, if he had had enough self-command to do all this
effectually, while Dick had as yet not had the time thoroughly to adapt
himself to his altered circumstances, he might have turned the
situation at the outset, and spared himself some very painful
But it is very often precisely those words which are the most
vitally important to be said that refuse to pass our lips on a sudden
emergency. We feel all the necessity of saying something at once, but
the necessary words unaccountably desert us at the critical moment.
Mr. Bultitude felt himself in this unfortunate position. He made
more wild efforts to explain, but the sense of his danger only
petrified his mind instead of stimulating it. Then he was spared
further conflict. A dark mist rose before his eyes; the walls of the
room receded into infinite space; and, with a loud singing in his ears,
he fell, and seemed to himself to be sinking down, down, through the
earth to the very crust of the antipodes. Then the blackness closed
over himand he knew no more.
I beseech you let his lack of years be no impediment to let
lack a reverend estimation, for I never knew so young a body
so old a head.Merchant of Venice, Act iv.
When Mr. Bultitude recovered his senses, which was not for a
considerable time, he found that he was being jolted along through a
broad well-lit thoroughfare, in a musty four-wheeler.
His head was by no means clear yet, and for some minutes he could
hardly be said to think at all; he merely lay back dreamily listening
to the hard grinding jar of the cab windows vibrating in their grooves.
His first distinct sensation was a vague wonder what Barbara might
be intending to give him for dinner, for, oddly enough, he felt far
from hungry, and was conscious that his palate would require the
With the thought of dinner his dining-room was almost inseparably
associated, and then, with an instant rush of recollection, the whole
scene there with the Garudâ Stone surged into his brain. He shuddered
as he did so; it had all been so real, so hideously vivid and coherent
throughout. But all unpleasant impressions soon yielded to the
delicious luxury of his present security.
As his last conscious moment had been passed in his own dining-room,
the fact that he opened his eyes in a cab, instead of confirming his
worst fears, actually helped to restore the unfortunate gentleman's
serenity; for he frequently drove home from the city in this manner,
and believed himself now, instead of being, as was actually the case,
in that marvellous region of cheap photography, rocking-horses, mild
stone lions, and wheels and laddersthe Euston Roadto be bowling
Now that he was thoroughly awake he found positive amusement in
going over each successive incident of his nightmare experience with
the talisman, and smiling at the tricks his imagination had played him.
I wonder now how the dickens I came to dream such outrageous
nonsense! he said to himself, for even his dreams were, as a rule,
within the bounds of probability. But he was not long in tracing it to
the devilled kidneys he had had at the club for lunch, and some curious
old brown sherry Robinson had given him afterwards at his office.
Gad, what a shock the thing has given me! he thought. I can
hardly shake off the feeling even now.
As a rule, after waking up on the verge of a fearful crisis, the
effect of the horror fades swiftly away, as one detail after another
evades a memory which is never too anxious to retain them, and each
moment brings a deeper sense of relief and self-congratulation.
But in Paul's case, curiously enough, as he could not help thinking,
the more completely roused he became, the greater grew his uneasiness.
Perhaps the first indication of the truth was suggested to him by a
lurking suspicionwhich he tried to dismiss as mere fancythat he
filled rather less of the cab than he had always been accustomed to do.
To reassure himself he set his thoughts to review all the
proceedings of that day, feeling that if he could satisfactorily
account for the time up to his taking the cab, that would be conclusive
as to the unreality of any thing that appeared to have happened later
in his own house. He got on well enough till he came to the hour at
which he had left the office, and then, search his memory as he would,
he could not remember hailing any cab!
Could it be another delusion, too, or was it the fact that he had
found himself much pressed for time and had come home by the
Underground to Praed Street? It must have been the day before, but that
was Sunday. Saturday, then? But the recollection seemed too recent and
fresh; and besides, on Saturday, he had left at two, and had taken
Barbara to see Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke's performance.
Slowly, insidiously, but with irresistible force, the conviction
crept upon him that he had dined, and dined well.
If I have dined already, he told himself, I can't be going home
to dinner; and if I am not going home to dinner, whatwhat am I doing
in this cab?
The bare idea that something might be wrong with him after all made
him impatient to put an end to all suspense. He must knock this
scotched nightmare once for all on the head by a deliberate appeal to
The cab had passed the lighted shops now, and was driving between
squares and private houses, so that Mr. Bultitude had to wait until the
sickly rays of a street lamp glanced into the cab for a moment, and, as
they did so, he put his feet up on the opposite seat and examined his
boots and trousers with breathless eagerness.
It was not to be denied; they were not his ordinary boots, nor did
he ever wear such trousers as he saw above them! Always a careful and
punctiliously neat person, he was more than commonly exacting
concerning the make and polish of his boots and the set of his
These boots were clumsy, square-toed, and thick-soled; one was even
patched on the side. The trousers were heavy and rough, of the kind
advertised as wear-resisting fabrics, suitable for youths at school,
frayed at the ends, and shinyshamefully shinyabout the knees!
In hot despair he rapidly passed his hands over his body. It felt
unusually small and slim, Mr. Bultitude being endowed with what is
euphemistically termed a presence, and it was with an agony rarely
felt at such a discovery that he realised that, for the first time for
more than twenty years, he actually had a waist.
Then, as a last resource, he took off his hat and felt for the
broad, smooth, egg-like surface, garnished by scanty side patches of
thin hair, which he knew he ought to find.
It was gonehidden under a crop of thick close curling locks!
This last disappointment completely overcame him; he had a kind of
short fit in the cab as the bitter truth was brought home to him
Yes, this was no dream of a distempered digestion, but sober
reality. The whole of that horrible scene in the dining-room had really
taken place; and now he, Paul Bultitude, the widely-respected merchant
of Mincing Lane, a man of means and position, was being ignominiously
packed off to school as if he were actually the schoolboy some hideous
juggle had made him appear!
It was only with a violent effort that he could succeed in
commanding his thoughts sufficiently to decide on some immediate
action. I must be cool, he kept muttering to himself, with shaking
lips, quite cool and collected. Everything will depend on that now!
It was some comfort to him in this extremity to recognise on the box
the well-known broad back of Clegg, a cabman who stabled his two horses
in some mews near Praed Street, and whom he had been accustomed to
patronise in bad weather for several years.
Clegg would know him, in spite of his ridiculous transformation.
His idea was to stop the cab, and turn round and drive home again,
when they would find that he was not to be got rid of again quite so
easily. If Dick imagined he meant to put up tamely with this kind of
treatment, he was vastly mistaken; he would return home boldly and
claim his rights!
No reasonable person could be perverse enough to doubt his identity
when once matters came to the proof; though at first, of course, he
might find a difficulty in establishing it. His children, his clerks,
and his servants would soon get used to his appearance, and would learn
to look below the mere surface, and then there was always the
possibility of putting everything right by means of the magic stone.
I won't lose a minute! he said aloud; and letting down the window,
leaned out and shouted Stop! till he was hoarse.
But Clegg either could not or would not hear; he drove on at full
speed, a faster rate of progress than that adopted by most drivers of
four-wheeled cabs being one of his chief recommendations.
They were now passing Euston. It was a muggy, slushy night, with a
thin brown fog wreathing the houses and fading away above their tops
into a dull, slate-blue sky. The wet street looked like a black canal;
the blurred forms, less like vehicles than nondescript boats, moving
over its inky surface, were indistinctly reflected therein; the
gas-lights flared redly through the murky haze. It was not a pleasant
evening in which to be out-of-doors.
Paul would have opened the cab-door and jumped out had he dared, but
his nerve failed him, and, indeed, considering the speed of the cab,
the leap would have been dangerous to a far more active person. So he
was forced to wait resignedly until the station should be reached, when
he determined to make Clegg understand his purpose with as little loss
of time as possible.
I must pay him something extra, he thought; I'll give him a
sovereign to take me back. And he searched his pockets for the loose
coin he usually carried about with him in such abundance; there was no
gold in any of them.
He found, however, a variety of minor and less negotiable articles,
which he fished out one by one from unknown depthsa curious
collection. There was a stumpy German-silver pencil case, a broken
prism from a crystal chandelier, a gilded Jew's harp, a little book in
which the leaves on being turned briskly, gave a semblance of motion to
the sails of a black windmill drawn therein, a broken tin soldier, some
Hong-Kong coppers with holes in them, and a quantity of little cogged
wheels from the inside of a watch; while a further search was rewarded
by an irregular lump of toffee imperfectly enfolded in sticky brown
He threw the whole of these treasures out of the window with
indescribable disgust, and, feeling something like a purse in a side
pocket, opened it eagerly.
It held five shillings exactly, the coins corresponding to those he
had pushed across to his son such a little while ago! It did not seem
to him quite such a magnificent sum now as it had done then; he had
shifted his point of view.
It was too clear that the stone must have carried out his
thoughtless wish with scrupulous and conscientious exactness in every
detail. He had wanted, or said he wanted, to be a boy again like Dick,
and accordingly he had become a perfect duplicate, even to the contents
of the pockets. Evidently nothing on the face of things showed the
slightest difference. Yetand here lay the sting of the
metamorphosishe was conscious under it all of being his old original
self, in utter discordance with the youthful form in which he was an
By this time the cab had driven up the sharp incline, and under the
high pointed archway of St. Pancras terminus, and now drew up with a
jerk against the steps leading to the booking office.
Paul sprang out at once in a violent passion. Here, you, Clegg! he
said, why the devil didn't you pull up when I told you? eh?
Clegg was a burly, red-faced man, with a husky voice and a general
manner which conveyed the impression that he regarded teetotalism, as a
principle, with something more than disapproval.
Why didn't I pull up? he said, bending stiffly down from his box.
'Cause I didn't want to lose a good customer, that's why I didn't pull
Do you mean to say you don't know me?
Know yer? said Clegg, with an approach to sentiment: I've knowed
yer when you was a babby in frocks. I've knowed yer fust nuss (and a
fine young woman she were till she took to drinking, as has been the
ruin of many). I've knowed yer in Infancy's hour and in yer byhood's
bloom! I've druv yer to this 'ere werry station twice afore. Know yer!
Paul saw the uselessness of arguing with him. Then, ahdrive me
back at once. Let those boxes alone. II've important business at home
which I'd forgotten.
Clegg gave a vinous wink. Lor, yer at it agin, he said with
admiration. What a artful young limb it is! But it ain't what yer may
call good enough, so to speak, it ain't. Clegg don't do that no more!
Don't do what? asked Paul.
Don't drive no young gents as is a-bein' sent to school back agin
into their family's bosims, said Clegg sententiously. You was took
ill sudden in my cab the larst time. Offal bad you was, to be sureto
hear ye, and I druv' yer back; and I never got no return fare, I
didn't, and yer par he made hisself downright nasty over it, said as if
it occurred agin he shouldn't employ me no more. I durstn't go and
offend yer par; he's a good customer to me, he is.
I'll give you a sovereign to do it, said Paul.
If yer wouldn't tell no tales, I might put yer down at the corner
p'raps, said Clegg, hesitating, to Paul's joy; not as it ain't cheap
at that, but let's see yer suffering fust. Why, he cried with lofty
contempt as he saw from Paul's face that the coin was not producible,
y'ain't got no suffering! Garn away, and don't try to tempt a pore
cabby as has his livin' to make. What d'ye think of this, porter, now?
'Ere's a young gent a tryin' to back out o' going to school when he
ought to be glad and thankful as he's receivin' the blessin's of a good
eddication. Look at me. I'm a 'ard-workin' man. I am. I ain't 'ad no
eddication. The kids, they're a learnin' French, and free'and drorin,
and the bones on a skellington at the Board School, and I pays my
coppers down every week cheerful. And why, porter? Why, young master?
'Cause I knows the vally on it! But when I sees a real young gent a
despisin' of the oppertoonities as a bountiful Providence and a
excellent par has 'eaped on his 'ed, itit makes me sick, it inspires
Clegg with a pity and a contemp' for such ingratitood, which he cares
not for to 'ide from public voo!
Clegg delivered this harangue with much gesture and in a loud tone,
which greatly edified the porters and disgusted Mr. Bultitude.
Go away, said the latter, that's enough. You're drunk!
Drunk! bellowed the outraged Clegg, rising on the box in his
wrath. 'Ear that. 'Ark at this 'ere young cock sparrer as tells a
fam'ly man like Clegg as he's drunk! Drunk, after drivin' his par in
this 'ere werry cab through frost and fine fifteen year and more! I
wonder yer don't say the old 'orse is drunk; you'll be sayin' that
next! Drunk! oh, cert'nly, by all means. Never you darken my cab doors
no more. I shall take and tell your par, I shall. Drunk, indeed! A
ill-conditioned young wiper as ever I see. Drunk! yah!
And with much cursing and growling, Clegg gathered up his reins and
drove off into the fog, Boaler having apparently pre-paid the fare.
Where for, sir, please? said a porter, who had been putting the
playbox and portmanteau on a truck during the altercation.
Nowhere, said Mr. Bultitude. II'm not going by this train; find
me a cab with a sober driver.
The porter looked round. A moment before there had been several cabs
discharging their loads at the steps; now the last had rolled away
You might find one inside the station by the arrival platform, he
suggested; but there'll be sure to be one comin' up here in another
minute, sir, if you like to wait.
Paul thought the other course might be the longer one, and decided
to stay where he was. So he walked into the lofty hall in which the
booking offices are placed and waited there by the huge fire that
blazed in the stove until he should hear the cab arrive which could
take him back to Westbourne Terrace.
One or two trains were about to start, and the place was full. There
were several Cambridge men going up after the Christmas vacation, in
every variety of ulster; some tugging at refractory white terriers, one
or two entrusting bicycles to dubious porters with many cautions and
directions. There were burly old farmers going back to their quiet
countryside, flushed with the prestige of a successful stand under
cross-examination in some witness-box at the Law Courts; to tell and
retell the story over hill and dale, in the market-place and
bar-parlour, every week for the rest of their honest lives. There was
the usual pantomime rally on a mild scale, with real frantic
passengers, and porters, and trucks, and trays of lighted lamps.
Presently, out of the crowd and confusion, a small boy in a thick
pilot jacket and an immensely tall hat, whom Paul had observed looking
at him intently for some time, walked up to the stove and greeted him
Hallo, Bultitude! he said, I thought it was you. Here we are
again, eh? Ugh! and he giggled dismally.
He was a pale-faced boy with freckles, very light green eyes, long,
rather ragged black hair, a slouching walk, and a smile half-simpering,
Mr. Bultitude was greatly staggered by the presumption of so small a
boy venturing to address him in this way. He could only stare
You might find a word to say to a fellow! said the boy in an
aggrieved tone. Look here; come and get your luggage labelled.
I don't want it labelled, said Paul stiffly, feeling bound to say
something. I'm waiting for a cab to take me home again.
The other gave a loud whistle. That'll make it rather a short term,
won't it, if you're going home for the holidays already? You're a cool
chap, Bultitude! If I were to go back to my governor now, he wouldn't
see it. It would put him in no end of a bait. But you're chaffing
Paul walked away from him with marked coolness. He was not going to
trouble himself to talk to his son's schoolfellows.
Aren't you well? said the boy, not at all discouraged by his
reception, following him and taking his arm. Down in the mouth? It is
beastly, isn't it, having to go back to old Grimstone's! The snow gave
us an extra week, thoughwe've that much to be thankful for. I wish it
was the first day of the holidays again, don't you? What's the matter
with you? What have I done to put you in a wax?
Nothing at present, said Paul. I don't speak to you merely
because I don't happen to have theahpleasure of your acquaintance.
Oh, very well, then; I daresay you know best, said the other
huffily. Only I thoughtconsidering we came the same half, and have
been chums, and always sat next one another ever sinceyou might
perhaps just recollect having met me before, you know.
Well, I don't, said Mr. Bultitude. I tell you I haven't the least
idea what your name is. The fact is there has been a slight mistake,
which I can't stop to talk about now. There's a cab just driven up
outside now. You must excuse me, really, my boy, I want to go.
He tried to work his arm free from the close and affectionate grip
of his unwelcome companion, who was regarding him with a sort of
What a fellow you are, Bultitude! he said; always up to something
or other. You know me well enough. What is the use of keeping it up any
longer? Let's talk, and stop humbugging. How much grub have you brought
back this time?
To be advised to stop humbugging, and be persecuted with such idle
questions as these, maddened the poor gentleman. A hansom really had
rolled up to the steps outside. He must put an end to this waste of
precious time, and escape from this highly inconvenient small boy.
He forced his way to the door, the boy still keeping fast hold of
his arm. Fortunately the cab was still there, and its late occupant, a
tall, broad man, was standing with his back to them paying the driver.
Paul was only just in time.
Porter! he cried. Where's that porter? I want my box put on that
cab. No, I don't care about the luggage; engage the cab. Now, you
little ruffian, are you going to let me go? Can't you see I'm anxious
to get away?
Jolland giggled more impishly than ever. Well, you have got
cheek! he said. Go on, I wish you may get that cab, I'm sure!
Paul, thus released, was just hurrying towards the cab, when the
stranger who had got out of it settled the fare with satisfaction to
himself and turned sharply round.
The gas-light fell full on his face, and Mr. Bultitude recognised
that the form and features were those of no strangerhe had stumbled
upon the very last person he had expected or desired to meet just
thenhis flight was intercepted by his son's schoolmaster, Dr.
The suddenness of the shock threw him completely off his balance. In
an ordinary way the encounter would not of course have discomposed him,
but now he would have given worlds for presence of mind enough either
to rush past to the cab and secure his only chance of freedom before
the Doctor had fully realised his intention, or else greet him affably
and calmly, and, taking him quietly aside, explain his awkward position
with an easy man-of-the-world air, which would ensure instant
But both courses were equally impossible. He stood there, right in
Dr. Grimstone's path, with terrified starting eyes and quivering limbs,
more like an unhappy guinea-pig expecting the advances of a boa, than a
British merchant in the presence of his son's schoolmaster! He was sick
and faint with alarm, and the consciousness that appearances were all
There was nothing in the least extraordinary in the fact of the
Doctor's presence at the station. Mr. Bultitude might easily have taken
this into account as a very likely contingency and have provided
accordingly, had he troubled to think, for it was Dr. Grimstone's
custom, upon the first day of the term, to come up to town and meet as
many of his pupils upon the platform as intended to return by a train
previously specified at the foot of the school-bills; and Paul had even
expressly insisted upon Dick's travelling under surveillance in this
manner, thinking it necessary to keep him out of premature mischief.
It makes a calamity doubly hard to bear when one looks back and sees
by what a trivial chance it has come upon us, and how slight an effort
would have averted it altogether; and Mr. Bultitude cursed his own
stupidity as he stood there, rooted to the ground, and saw the hansom
(a patent safety to him in sober earnest) drive off and abandon him
to his fate.
Dr. Grimstone bore down heavily upon him and Jolland, who had by
this time come up. He was a tall and imposing personage, with a strong
black beard and small angry grey eyes, slightly blood-tinged; he wore
garments of a semi-clerical cut and colour, though he was not in
orders. He held out a hand to each with elaborate geniality.
Ha, Bultitude, my boy, how are you? How are you, Jolland? Come back
braced in body and mind by your vacation, eh? That's as it should be.
Have you tickets? No? follow me then. You're both over age, I believe.
There you are; take care of them.
And before Paul could protest, he had purchased tickets for all
three, after which he laid an authoritative hand upon Mr. Bultitude's
shoulder and walked him out through the booking hall upon the platform.
This is awful, thought Paul, shrinking involuntarily; simply
awful. He evidently has no idea who I really am. Unless I'm very
careful I shall be dragged off to Crichton House before I can put him
right. If I could only get him away alone somewhere.
As if in answer to the wish, the Doctor guided him by a slight
pressure straight along by the end of the station, saying to Jolland as
he did so, I wish to have a little serious conversation with Richard
in private. Suppose you go to the bookstall and see if you can find out
any of our young friends. Tell them to wait for me there.
When they were alone the Doctor paced solemnly along in silence for
some moments, while Paul, who had always been used to consider himself
a fairly prominent object, whatever might be his surroundings, began to
feel an altogether novel sensation of utter insignificance upon that
immense brown plain of platform and under the huge span of the arches
whose girders were lost in wreaths of mingled fog and smoke.
Still he had some hope. Was it not possible, after all, that the
Doctor had divined his secret and was searching for words delicate
enough to convey his condolences?
I wished to tell you, Bultitude, said the Doctor presently, and
his first words dashed all Paul's rising hopes, that I hope you are
returning this term with the resolve to do better things. You have
caused your excellent father much pain in the past. You little know the
grief a wilful boy can inflict on his parent.
I think I have a very fair idea of it, thought Paul, but he said
I hope you left him in good health? Such a devoted parent,
Richardsuch a noble heart!
At any other time Mr. Bultitude might have felt gratified by these
eulogies, but just then he was conscious that he could lay no claim to
them. It was Dick who had the noble heart now, and he himself felt even
less of a devoted parent than he looked.
I had a letter from him during the vacation, continued Dr.
Grimstone, a sweet letter, Richard, breathing in every line a father's
anxiety and concern for your welfare.
Paul was a little staggered. He remembered having written, but he
would scarcely perhaps have described his letter as sweet, as he had
not done much more than enclose a cheque for his son's account and
object to the items for pew-rent and scientific lectures with the
diorama as excessive.
Butand this is what I wanted to say to you, Bultitudehis is no
blind doting affection. He has implored me, for your own sake, if I see
you diverging ever so slightly from the path of duty, not to stay my
hand. And I shall not forget his injunctions.
A few minutes ago, and it would have seemed to Paul so simple and
easy a matter to point out to the Doctor the very excusable error into
which he had fallen. It was no more than he would have to do repeatedly
upon his return, and here was an excellent opportunity for an
But, somehow the words would not come. The schoolmaster's form
seemed so tremendous and towering, and he so feeble and powerless
before him, that he soon persuaded himself that a public place, like a
station platform, was no scene for domestic revelations of so painful a
He gave up all idea of resistance at present. Perhaps I had better
leave him in his error till we get into the train, he thought; then
we will get rid of that other boy, and I can break it to him gradually
in the railway carriage as I get more accustomed to him.
But in spite of his determination to unbosom himself without further
delay, he knew that a kind of fascinated resignation was growing upon
him and gaining firmer hold each minute.
Something must be done to break the spell and burst the toils which
were being woven round him before all effort became impossible.
And now, said the Doctor, glancing up at the great clock-face on
which a reflector cast a patch of dim yellow light, we must be
thinking of starting. But don't forget what I have said.
And they walked back towards the book-stalls with their cheery
warmth of colour, past the glittering buffet, and on up the platform,
to a part where six boys of various sizes were standing huddled
forlornly together under a gaslight.
Aha! said Dr. Grimstone, with a slight touch of the ogre in his
tone, more of my fellows, eh? We shall be quite a party. How do you
do, boys? Welcome back to your studies.
And the six boys came forward, all evidently in the lowest spirits,
and raised their tall hats with a studied politeness.
Some old friends here, Bultitude, said the Doctor, impelling the
unwilling Paul towards the group. You know Tipping, of course; Coker,
too, you've met beforeand Coggs. How are you, Siggers? You're looking
well. Ah, by the way, I see a new faceKiffin, I think? Kiffin, this
is Bultitude, who will make himself your mentor, I hope, and initiate
you into our various manners and customs.
And, with a horrible dream-like sense of unreality, Mr. Bultitude
found himself being greeted by several entire strangers with a degree
of warmth embarrassing in the extreme.
He would have liked to protest and declare himself there and then in
his true colours, but if this had been difficult alone with the Doctor
under the clock, it was impossible now, and he submitted ruefully
enough to their unwelcome advances.
Tipping, a tall, red-haired, raw-boned boy, with sleeves and
trousers he had outgrown, and immense boots, wrung Paul's hand with
misdirected energy, saying how-de-do? with a gruff superiority,
mercifully tempered by a touch of sheepishness.
Coggs and Coker welcomed him with open arms as an equal, while
Siggers, a short, slight, sharp-featured boy, with a very fashionable
hat and shirt-collars, and a horse-shoe pin, drawled, How are you, old
boy? with the languor of a confirmed man about town.
The other two were Biddlecomb, a boy with a blooming complexion and
a singularly sweet voice, and the new-comer, Kiffin, who did not seem
much more at home in the society of other boys than Mr. Bultitude
himself, for he kept nervously away from them, shivering with the
piteous self-abandonment of an Italian greyhound.
Paul was now convinced that unless he exerted himself considerably,
his identity with his son would never even be questioned, and the
danger roused him to a sudden determination.
However his face and figure might belie him, nothing in his speech
or conduct should encourage the mistake. Whatever it might cost him to
overcome his fear of the Doctor, he would force himself to act and talk
ostentatiously, as much like his own ordinary self as possible, during
the journey down to Market Rodwell, so as to prepare the Doctor's mind
for the disclosures he meant to make at the earliest opportunity. He
was beginning to see that the railway carriage, with all those boys
sitting by and staring, would be an inconvenient place for so delicate
and difficult a confession.
The guard having warned intending passengers to take their seats,
and Jolland, who had been unaccountably missing all this time, having
appeared from the direction of the refreshment buffet, furtively
brushing away some suspicious-looking flakes and crumbs from his coat,
and contrived to join the party unperceived, they all got into a
first-class compartmentPaul with the rest.
He longed for moral courage to stand out boldly and refuse to leave
town, but, as we have seen, it was beyond his powers, and he
temporised. Very soon the whistle had sounded and the train had begun
to glide slowly out beyond the platform and arch, past the signal boxes
and long low sheds and offices which are the suburbs of a large
terminusand then it was too late.
Boys are capital fellows in their own way among their mates;
they are unwholesome companions for grown people.Essays
For some time after they were fairly started the Doctor read his
evening paper with an air of impartial but severe criticism, and Mr.
Bultitude as he sat opposite him next to the window, found himself
overwhelmed with a new and very unpleasant timidity.
He knew that, if he would free himself, this utterly unreasonable
feeling must be wrestled with and overcome; that now, if ever, was the
time to assert himself, and prove that he was anything but the raw
youth he was conscious of appearing. He had merely to speak and act,
too, in his ordinary everyday manner; to forget as far as possible the
change that had affected his outer man, which was not so very difficult
to do after alland yet his heart sank lower and lower as each fresh
telegraph post flitted past.
I will let him speak first, he thought; then I shall be able to
feel my way. But there was more fear than caution in the resolve.
At last, however, the Doctor laid down his paper, and, looking round
with the glance of proprietorship on his pupils, who had relapsed into
a decorous and gloomy silence, observed: Well, boys, you have had an
unusually protracted vacation this timeowing to the unprecedented
severity of the weather. We must try to make up for it by the zest and
ardour with which we pursue our studies during the term. I intend to
reduce the Easter holidays by a week by way of compensation.
This announcement (which by no means relieved the general
depressionthe boys receiving it with a sickly interest) was good news
to Paul, and even had the effect of making him forget his position for
I'm uncommonly glad to hear it, Dr. Grimstone, he said heartily,
an excellent arrangement. Boys have too many holidays as it is.
There's no reason, to my mind, why parents should be the sufferers by
every snowstorm. It's no joke, I can assure you, to have a great idle
boy hanging about the place eating his empty head off!
A burglar enlarging upon the sanctity of the law of property, or a
sheep exposing the fallacies of vegetarianism, could hardly have
produced a greater sensation.
Every boy was roused from his languor to stare and wonder at these
traitorous sentiments, which, from the mouth of any but a known and
tried companion, would have roused bitter hostility and contempt. As it
was, their wonder became a rapturous admiration, and they waited for
the situation to develop with a fearful and secret joy.
It was some time before the Doctor quite recovered himself; then he
said with a grim smile, This is indeed finding Saul amongst the
prophets; your sentiments, if sincere, BultitudeI repeat, if
sincereare very creditable. But I am obliged to look upon them with
suspicion! Then, as if to dismiss a doubtful subject, he inquired
generally, And how have you all been spending your holidays, eh!
There was no attempt to answer this question, it being felt probably
that it was, like the conventional How do you do? one to which an
answer is neither desired nor expected, especially as he continued
almost immediately, I took my boy Tom up to town the week before
Christmas to see the representation of the 'Agamemnon' at St. George's
Hall. The 'Agamemnon,' as most of you are doubtless aware, is a drama
by Æschylus, a Greek poet of established reputation. I was much pleased
by the intelligent appreciation Tom showed during the performance. He
distinctly recognised several words from his Greek Grammar in the
course of the dialogue.
No one seemed capable of responding except Mr. Bultitude, who dashed
into the breach with an almost pathetic effort to maintain his
I may be old-fashioned, he said, very likely I am; but
Iahdecidedly disapprove of taking children to dramatic exhibitions
of any kind. It unsettles them, sirunsettles them!
Dr. Grimstone made no answer, but he put a hand on each knee, and
glared with pursed lips and a leonine bristle of the beard at his
youthful critic for some moments, after which he returned to his
Globe with a short ominous cough.
I've offended him now, thought Paul. I must be more careful what
I say. But I'll get him into conversation again presently.
So he began at the first opportunity: You have this evening's
paper, I see. No telegrams of importance, I suppose?
No, sir, said the Doctor shortly.
I saw a report in to-day's Times, said poor Mr. Bultitude,
with a desperate attempt at his most conversational and instructive
manner, I saw a report that the camphor crop was likely to be a
failure this season. Now, it's a very singular thing about camphor,
that the Japanese (he hoped to lead the conversation round to
colonial produce, and thus open the Doctor's eyes by the extent of his
acquaintance with the subject).
I am already acquainted with the method of obtaining camphor, thank
you, Bultitude, said the Doctor, with dangerous politeness.
I was about to observe, when you interrupted me, said Paul, (and
this is really a fact that I doubt if you are aware of), that the
Well, well, said the Doctor, with some impatience, probably they
never do, sir, but I shall have other opportunities of finding out what
you have read about the Japanese.
But he glanced over the top of the paper at the indignant Paul, who
was not accustomed to have his information received in this manner,
with less suspicion and a growing conviction that some influence during
the holidays had changed the boy from a graceless young scapegrace into
a prig of the first water.
He's most uncivilMr. Bultitude told himselfalmost insulting,
but I'll go on. I'm rousing his curiosity. I'm making way with him; he
sees a difference already. And so he applied himself once more.
You're a smoker, of course, Dr. Grimstone? he began. We don't
stop anywhere, I think, on the way, and I must confess myself, after
dinner, a whiff or twoI think I can give you a cigar you'll
And he felt for his cigar-case, really forgetting that it was gone,
like all other incidents of his old self; while Jolland giggled with
unrestrained delight at such charming effrontery.
If I did not know, sir, said the Doctor, now effectually roused,
that this was ill-timed buffoonery, and not an intentional insult, I
should be seriously angry. As it is, I can overlook any exuberance of
mirth which is, perhaps, pardonable when the mind is elated by the
return to the cheerful bustle and activity of school-life. But be very
He needn't be so angry, thought Paul, how could I know he doesn't
smoke? But I'm afraid he doesn't quite know me, even now.
So he began again: Did I hear you mention the name of Kiffin
amongst those of your pupils here, Doctor? I thought so. Not the son of
Jordan Kiffin, of College Hill, surely? Yes? Why, bless my soul, your
father and I, my little fellow, were old friends in days before you
were born or thought ofborn or thought of. He was in a very small way
then, a very smallEh, Dr. Grimstone, don't you feel well?
I see what you're aiming at, sir. You wish to prove to me that I'm
making a mistake in my treatment of you.
That was my idea, certainly, said Paul, much pleased. I'm very
glad you take me, Doctor.
I shall take you in a way you won't appreciate soon, if this goes
on, said the Doctor under his breath.
When the time comes I shall know how to deal with you. Till then
you'll have the goodness to hold your tongue, he said aloud.
It's not a very polite way of putting it, Paul said to himself,
but, at any rate, he sees how the case stands now, and after all,
perhaps, he only speaks like that to put the boys off the scent. If so,
it's uncommonly considerate and thoughtful of him, by Gad. I won't say
But by-and-by, the open window made him break his resolution. I'm
sorry to inconvenience you, Dr. Grimstone, he said, with the air of
one used to having his way in these matters, but I positively must ask
you either to allow me to have this window up or to change places with
you. The night air, sir, at this time of the year is fatal, my doctor
tells me, simply fatal to a man of my constitution.
The Doctor pulled up the window with a frown, and yet a somewhat
puzzled expression. I warn you, Bultitude, he said, you are acting
So I am, thought Paul, so I am. Good of him to remind me. I must
keep it up before all these boys. This unpleasant business mustn't get
about. I'll hold my tongue till we get in. Then, I daresay, Grimstone
will see me off by the next train up, if there is one, and lend me
enough for a bed at an hotel for the night. I couldn't get to St.
Pancras till very late, of course. Or he might offer to put me up at
the school. If he does, I think I shall very possibly accept. It might
And he leant back in his seat in a much easier frame of mind; it was
annoying, of course, to have been turned out of his warm dining-room,
and sent all the way down to Market Rodwell on a fool's errand like
this; but still, if nothing worse came of it, he could put up with the
temporary inconvenience, and it was a great relief to be spared the
necessity of an explanation.
The other boys watched him furtively with growing admiration, which
expressed itself in subdued whispers, varied by little gurgles and
squirks of laughter; they tried to catch his eye and stimulate him to
further feats of audacity, but Mr. Bultitude, of course, repulsed all
such overtures with a coldness and severity which at once baffled and
At last his eccentricity took a shape which considerably lessened
their enthusiasm. Kiffin, the new boy, occupied the seat next to Paul;
he was a nervous-looking little fellow, with a pale face and big
pathetic brown eyes like a seal's, and his dress bore plain evidence of
a mother's careful supervision, having all the uncreased trimness and
specklessness rarely to be observed except in the toilettes of the
waxen prodigies in a shop-window.
It happened that, as he lay back in the padded seat between the
sheltering partitions, watching the sickly yellow dregs of oil surging
dismally to and fro with the motion in the lamp overhead, or the black
indistinct forms flitting past through the misty blue outside, the
pathos of his situation became all at once too much for him.
He was a home-bred boy, without any of that taste for the
companionship and pursuits of his fellows, or capacity for adapting
himself to their prejudices and requirements, which give some home-bred
boys a ready passport into the roughest communities.
His heart throbbed with no excited curiosity, no conscious pride, at
this his first important step in life; he was a forlorn little
stranger, in an unsympathetic strange land, and was only too well aware
of his position.
So that it is not surprising that as he thought of the home he had
left an hour or two ago which now seemed so shadowy, so inaccessible
and remote, his eyes began to smart and sting, and his chest to heave
ominously, until he felt it necessary to do something to give a partial
vent to his emotions and prevent a public and disgraceful exhibition of
Unhappily for him he found this safety-valve in a series of
suppressed but distinctly audible sniffs.
Mr. Bultitude bore this for some time with no other protest than an
occasional indignant bounce or a lowering frown in the offender's
direction, but at last his nerves, strung already to a high pitch by
all he had undergone, could stand it no longer.
Dr. Grimstone, he said with polite determination, I'm not a man
to complain without good reason, but really I must ask you to
interfere. Will you tell this boy here, on my right, either to control
his feelings or to cry into his pocket-handkerchief, like an ordinary
human being? A good honest bellow I can understand, but this infernal
whiffling and sniffing, sir, I will not put up with. It's nothing less
than unnatural in a boy of that size.
Kiffin, said the Doctor, are you crying?
Nno, sir, faltered Kiffin; II think I must have caught cold,
I hope you are telling me the truth, because I should be sorry to
believe you were beginning your new life in a spirit of captiousness
and rebellion. I'll have no mutineers in my camp. I'll establish a
spirit of trustful happiness and unmurmuring content in this school, if
I have to flog every boy in it as long as I can stand over him! As for
you, Richard Bultitude, I have no words to express my pain and disgust
at the heartless irreverence with which you persist in mimicking and
burlesquing a fond and excellent parent. Unless I perceive, sir, in a
very short time a due sense of your error and a lively repentance, my
disapproval will take a very practical form.
Mr. Bultitude fell back into his seat with a gasp. It was hard to be
accused of caricaturing one's own self, particularly when conscious of
entire innocence in that respect, but even this was slight in
comparison with the discovery that he had been so blindly deceiving
The Doctor evidently had failed to penetrate his disguise, and the
dreaded scene of elaborate explanation must be gone through after all.
The boys (with the exception of Kiffin) still found exquisite
enjoyment in this extraordinary and original exhibition, and waited
eagerly for further experiment on the Doctor's patience.
They were soon gratified. If there was one thing Paul detested more
than another, it was the smell of peppermintno less than three office
boys had been discharged by him because, as he alleged, they made the
clerks' room reek with it,and now the subtle searching odour of the
hated confection was gradually stealing into the compartment and
influencing its atmosphere.
He looked at Coggs, who sat on the seat opposite to him, and saw his
cheeks and lips moving in slow and appreciative absorption of
something. Coggs was clearly the culprit.
Do you encourage your boys to make common nuisances of themselves
in a public place, may I ask, Dr. Grimstone? he inquired, fuming.
Some scarcely seem to require encouragement, Bultitude, said the
Doctor pointedly: what is the matter now?
If he takes it medicinally, said Paul, he should choose some
other time and place to treat his complaint. If he has a depraved
liking for the abominable stuff, for Heaven's sake make him refrain
from it on occasions when it is a serious annoyance to others!
Will you explain? Who and what are you talking about?
That boy opposite, said Paul, pointing the finger of denunciation
at the astonished Coggs; he's sucking an infernal peppermint lozenge
strong enough to throw the train off the rails!
Is what Bultitude tells me true, Coggs? demanded the Doctor in an
Coggs, after making several attempts to bolt the offending lozenge,
and turning scarlet meanwhile with confusion and coughing, stammered
huskily something to the effect that he had bought the lozenges at a
chemist's, which he seemed to consider, for some reason, a mitigating
Have you any more of this pernicious stuff about you? said the
Very slowly and reluctantly Coggs brought out of one pocket after
another three or four neat little white packets, make up with that
lavish expenditure of time, string, and sealing-wax, by which the
struggling chemist seeks to reconcile the public mind to a charge of
two hundred and fifty per cent. on cost price, and handed them to Dr.
Grimstone, who solemnly unfastened them one by one, glanced at their
contents with infinite disgust, and flung them out of window.
Then he turned to Paul with a look of more favour than he had yet
shown him. Bultitude, he said, I am obliged to you. A severe cold in
the head has rendered me incapable of detecting this insidious act of
insubordination and self-indulgence, on which I shall have more to say
on another occasion. Your moral courage and promptness in denouncing
the evil thing are much to your credit.
Not at all, said Paul, not at all, my dear sir. I mentioned it
because Iahhappen to be peculiarly sensitive on the subject
and Here he broke off with a sharp yell, and began to rub his
ankle. One of these young savages has just given me a severe kick;
it's that fellow over there, with the blue necktie. I have given him no
provocation, and he attacks me in this brutal manner, sir; I appeal to
you for protection!
So, Coker (Coker wore a blue necktie), said the Doctor, you
emulate the wild ass in more qualities than those of stupidity and
stubbornness, do you? You lash out with your hind legs at an
inoffensive school-fellow, with all the viciousness of a kangaroo, eh?
Write out all you find in Buffon's Natural History upon those two
animals a dozen times, and bring it to me by to-morrow evening. If I am
to stable wild asses, sir, they shall be broken in!
Six pairs of sulky glowering eyes were fixed upon the unconscious
Paul for the rest of the journey; indignant protests and dark vows of
vengeance were muttered under cover of the friendly roar and rattle of
tunnels. But the object of them heard nothing; his composure was
returning once more in the sunshine of Dr. Grimstone's approbation, and
he almost decided on declaring himself in the station fly.
And now at last the train was grinding along discordantly with the
brakes on, and, after a little preliminary jolting and banging over the
points, drew up at a long lighted platform, where melancholy porters
paced up and down, croaking Market Rodwell! like so many Solomon
Eagles predicting woe.
Paul got out with the others, and walked forward to the guard's van,
where he stood shivering in the raw night air by a small heap of
portmanteaux and white clamped boxes.
I should like to tell him all about it now, he thought, if he
wasn't so busy. I'll get him to go in a cab alone with me, and get it
over before we reach the house.
Dr. Grimstone certainly did not seem in a very receptive mood for
confidences just then. No flys were to be seen, which he took as a
personal outrage, and visited upon the station-master in hot
It's scandalous, I tell you, he was saying: scandalous! No cabs
to meet the train. My school reassembles to-day, and here I find no
arrangements made for their accommodation! Not even an omnibus! I shall
write to the manager and report this. Let some one go for a fly
immediately. Boys, go into the waiting room till I come to you.
Staythere are too many for one fly. Coker, Coggs, and, let me see,
yes, Bultitude, you all know your way. Walk on and tell Mrs. Grimstone
we are coming.
Paul Bultitude was perhaps more relieved than disappointed by this
postponement of a disagreeable interview, though, if he had seen Coker
dig Coggs in the side with a chuckle of exultant triumph, he might have
had misgivings as to the prudence of trusting himself alone with them.
As it was he almost determined to trust the pair with his secret.
They will be valuable witnesses, he said to himself, that, whoever
else I may be, I am not Dick.
So he went on briskly ahead over a covered bridge and down some
break-neck wooden steps, and passed through the wicket out upon the
railed-in space, where the cabs and omnibuses should have been, but
which was now a blank spectral waste with a white ground-fog lurking
round its borders.
Here he was joined by his companions, who, after a little
whispering, came up one on either side and put an arm through each of
Well, said Paul, thinking to banter them agreeably; here you are,
young men, eh? Holidays all over now! Work while you're young, and
thenGad, you're walking me off my legs. Stop; I'm not as young as I
used to be
Grim can't see us here, can he, Coker? said Coggs when they had
cleared the gates and palings.
Not he! said Coker.
Very well, then. Now then, young Bultitude, you used to be a decent
fellow enough last term, though you were coxy. So, before we go
any furtherwhat do you mean by this sort of thing?
Because, put in Coker, if you aren't quite right in your head,
through your old governor acting like a brute all the holidays, as you
said he does, just say so, and we won't be hard on you.
Ihealways an excellent father, stammered Paul. What am I to
Why, what did you go and sneak of him for bringing tuck back
to school for, eh? demanded Coker.
Yes, and sing out when he hacked your shin? added Coggs; and tell
Grimstone that new fellow was blubbing? Where's the joke in all that,
eh? Where's the joke?
You don't suppose I was bound to sit calmly down and allow you to
suck your villainous peppermints under my very nose, do you? said Mr.
Bultitude. Why shouldn't I complain if a boy annoys me by sniffing, or
kicks me on the ankle? Just tell me that? Suppose my neighbour has a
noisy dog or a smoky chimney, am I not to venture to tell him of it? Is
But his arguments, convincing as they promised to be, were brought
to a sudden and premature close by Coker, who slipped behind him and
administered a sharp jog below his back, which jarred his spine and
caused him infinite agony.
You little brute! cried Paul, I could have you up for assault for
But upon this Coggs did the very same thing only harder. Last term
you'd have shown fight for much less, Bultitude, they both observed
severely, as some justification for repeating the process.
Now, perhaps, you'll drop it for the future, said Coker. Look
here! we'll give you one more chance. This sneaking dodge is all very
well for Chawner. Chawner could do that sort of thing without getting
sat upon, because he's a big fellow; but we're not going to stand it
from you. Will you promise on your sacred word of honour, now, to be a
decent sort of chap again, as you were last term?
But Mr. Bultitude, though he longed for peace and quietness, dreaded
doing or saying anything to favour the impression that he was the
schoolboy he unluckily appeared to be, and he had not skill and tact
enough to dissemble and assume a familiar genial tone of equality with
these rough boys.
You don't understand, he protested feebly. If I could only tell
We don't want any fine language, you know, said the relentless
Coggs. Yes or no. Will you promise to be your old self again?
I only wish I could, said poor Mr. Bultitudebut I can't!
Very well, then, said Coggs firmly, we must try the torture.
Coker, will you screw the back of his hand, while I show him how they
And he gave Paul an interesting illustration of the latter branch of
industry by twisting his right arm round and round till he nearly
wrenched it out of the socket, while Coker seized his left hand and
pounded it vigorously with the first joint of his forefinger, causing
the unfortunate Paul to yell for mercy.
At last he could bear no more, and breaking away from his tormentors
with a violent effort, he ran frantically down the silent road towards
a house which he knew from former visits to be Dr. Grimstone's.
He was but languidly pursued, and, as the distance was short, he
soon gained a gate on the stuccoed posts of which he could read
Crichton House by the light of a neighbouring gas-lamp.
This is a nice way, he thought, as he reached it breathless and
trembling, for a father to visit his son's school!
He had hoped to reach sanctuary before the other two could overtake
him; but he soon discovered that the gate was shut fast, and all his
efforts would not bring him within reach of the bell-handlehe was too
So he sat down on the doorstep in resigned despair, and waited for
his enemies. Behind the gate was a large many-windowed house, with
steps leading up to a portico. In the playground to his right the
school gymnasium, a great gallows-like erection, loomed black and grim
through the mist, the night wind favouring the ghastliness of its
appearance by swaying the ropes till they creaked and moaned weirdly on
the hooks, and the metal stirrups clinked and clashed against one
another in irregular cadence.
He had no time to observe more, as Coker and Coggs joined him, and,
on finding he had not rung the bell, seized the occasion to pummel him
at their leisure before announcing their arrival.
Then the gate was opened, and the threethe revengeful pair
assuming an air of lamb-like inoffensivenessentered the hall and were
met by Mrs. Grimstone.
Why, here you are! she said, with an air of surprise, and kissing
them with real kindness. How cold you look! So you actually had to
walk. No cabs as usual. You poor boys! come in and warm yourselves.
You'll find all your old friends in the schoolroom.
Mr. Bultitude submitted to be kissed with some reluctance, inwardly
hoping that Dr. Grimstone might never hear of it.
Mrs. Grimstone, it may be said here, was a stout, fair woman, not in
the least intellectual or imposing, but with a warm heart, and a way of
talking to and about boys that secured her the confidence of mothers
more effectually, perhaps, than the most polished conversation and
irreproachable deportment could have done.
She did not reserve her motherliness for the reception room either,
as some schoolmasters' wives have a tendency to do, and the smallest
boy felt less homesick when he saw her.
She opened a green baize outer door, and the door beyond it, and led
them into a long high room, with desks and forms placed against the
walls, and a writing table, and line of brown-stained tables down the
middle. Opposite the windows there was a curious structure of shelves
partitioned into lockers, and filled with rows of shabby schoolbooks.
The room had been originally intended for a drawing-room, as was
evident from the inevitable white and gold wall-paper and the tarnished
gilt beading round the doors and window shutters; the mantelpiece, too,
was of white marble, and the gaselier fitted with dingy crystal
But sad-coloured maps hung on the ink-splashed walls, and a clock
with a blank idiotic face (it is not every clock that possesses a
decently intelligent expression) ticked over the gilt pier-glass. The
boards were uncarpeted, and stained with patches of ink of all sizes
and ages; while the atmosphere, in spite of the blazing fire, had a
scholastic blending of soap and water, ink and slate-pencil in its
composition, which produced a chill and depressing effect.
On the forms opposite the fire some ten or twelve boys were sitting,
a few comparing notes as to their holiday experiences with some
approach to vivacity. The rest, with hands in pockets and feet
stretched towards the blaze, seemed lost in melancholy abstraction.
There! said Mrs. Grimstone cheerfully, you'll have plenty to talk
to one another about. I'll send Tom in to see you presently! And she
left them with a reassuring nod, though the prospect of Tom's company
did not perhaps elate them as much as it was intended to do.
Mr. Bultitude felt much as if he had suddenly been dropped down a
bear-pit, and, avoiding welcome and observation as well as he could,
got away into a corner, from which he observed his new companions with
I say, said one boy, resuming the interrupted conversation, did
you go to Drury Lane? Wasn't it stunning! That goose, you know, and the
lion in the forest, and all the wooden animals lumbering in out of the
toy Noah's Ark!
Why couldn't you come to our party on Twelfth-night? asked
another. We had great larks. I wish you'd been there!
I had to go to young Skidmore's instead, said a pale,
spiteful-looking boy, with fair hair carefully parted in the middle.
It was like his cheek to ask me, but I thought I'd go, you know, just
to see what it was like.
What was it like? asked one or two near him languidly.
Oh, awfully slow! They've a poky little house in Brompton
somewhere, and there was no dancing, only boshy games and a conjurer,
without any presents. And, oh! I say, at supper there was a big cake on
the table, and no one was allowed to cut it, because it was hired.
They're so poor, you know. Skidmore's pater is only a clerk, and you
should see his sisters!
Why, are they pretty?
Pretty! they're just like young Skidmoreonly uglier; and just
fancy, his mother asked me 'if I was Skidmore's favourite companion,
and if he helped me in my studies?'
The unfortunate Skidmore, when he returned, soon found reason to
regret his rash hospitality, for he never heard the last of the cake
(which had, as it happened, been paid for in the usual manner) during
the rest of the term.
There was a slight laugh at the enormity of Mrs. Skidmore's
presumption, and then a long pause, after which some one asked
suddenly, Does any one know whether Chawner really has left this
I hope so, said a big, heavy boy, and his hope seemed echoed with
a general fervour. He's been going to leave every term for the last
year, but I believe he really has done it this time. He wrote and told
me he wasn't coming back.
Thank goodness! said several, with an evident relief, and some one
was just observing that they had had enough of the sneaking business,
when a fly was heard to drive up, and the bell rang, whereupon everyone
abandoned his easy attitude, and seemed to brace himself up for a
Look outhere's Grimstone! they whispered under their breaths, as
voices and footsteps were heard in the hall outside.
Presently the door of the schoolroom opened, and another boy entered
the room. Dr. Grimstone, it appeared, had not been the occupant of the
fly, after all. The new-comer was a tall, narrow-shouldered, stooping
fellow, with a sallow, unwholesome complexion, thin lips, and small
sunken brown eyes. His cheeks were creased with a dimpling subsmile,
half uneasy, half malicious, and his tread was mincing and catlike.
Well, you fellows? he said.
All rose at once, and shook hands effusively. Why, Chawner! they
cried, how are you, old fellow? We thought you weren't coming back!
There was a heartiness in their manner somewhat at variance with
their recent expressions of opinion; but they had doubtless excellent
reasons for any inconsistency.
Well, said Chawner, in a low, soft voice, which had a suggestion
of feminine spitefulness, I was going to leave, but I thought you'd be
getting into mischief here without me to watch over you. Appleton, and
Lench, and Coker want looking after badly, I know. So, you see, I've
come back after all.
He laughed with a little malevolent cackle as he spoke, and the
three boys named laughed too, though with no great heartiness, and
shifting the while uneasily on their seats.
After this sally the conversation languished until Tom Grimstone's
appearance. He strolled in with a semi-professional air, and shook
hands with affability.
Tom was a short, flabby, sandy-haired youth, not particularly
beloved of his comrades, and his first remark was, I say, you chaps,
have you done your holiday task? Pa says he shall keep everyone in who
hasn't. I've done mine; which, as a contribution to the general
liveliness, was a distinct failure.
Needless to say, the work imposed as a holiday occupation had been
first deferred, then forgotten, then remembered too late, and
recklessly defied with the confidence begotten in a home atmosphere.
Amidst a general silence Chawner happened to see Mr. Bultitude in
his corner, and crossed over to him. Why, there's Dicky Bultitude
there all the time, and he never came to shake hands! Aren't you going
to speak to me?
Paul growled something indistinctly, feeling strangely uncomfortable
What's the matter with him? asked Chawner. Does anyone know? Has
he lost his tongue?
He hadn't lost it coming down in the train, said Coker: I wish he
had. I tell you what, you fellowsHehere's Grim at last! I'll tell
you all about it up in the bedroom.
And Dr. Grimstone really did arrive at this point, much to Paul's
relief, and looked in to give a grip of the hand and a few words to
those of the boys he had not seen.
Biddlecomb, Tipping, and the rest, came in with him, and the
schoolroom soon filled with others arriving by later trains, amongst
the later comers being the two house-masters, Mr. Blinkhorn and Mr.
Tinkler; and there followed a season of bustle and conversation, which
lasted until the Doctor touched a small hand-bell, and ordered them to
sit down round the tables while supper was brought in.
Mr. Bultitude was not sorry to hear the word supper. He was faint
and dispirited, and although he had dined not very long since, thought
that perhaps a little cold beef and beer, or some warmed-up trifle,
might give him courage to tell his misfortunes before bedtime.
Of one thing he felt certain. Nothing should induce him to trust his
person in a bedroom with any of those violent and vindictive boys;
whether he succeeded in declaring himself that night or not, he would
at least insist on a separate bedroom. Meantime he looked forward to
supper as likely to restore geniality and confidence.
But the supper announced so imposingly proved to consist of nothing
more than two plates piled with small pieces of thinly-buttered bread,
which a page handed round together with tumblers of water; and Paul, in
his disappointment, refused this refreshment with more firmness than
politeness, as Dr. Grimstone observed.
You got into trouble last term, Bultitude, he said sternly, on
account of this same fastidious daintiness. Your excellent father has
informed me of your waste and gluttony at his own bountifully spread
table. Don't let me have occasion to reprove you for this again.
Mr. Bultitude, feeling the necessity of propitiating him, hastened
to take the two largest squares of bread and butter on the plate. They
were moist and thick, and he had considerable difficulty in disposing
of them, besides the gratification of hearing himself described as a
pig by his neighbours, who reproved him with a refreshing candour.
I must get away from here, he thought, ruefully. Dick seems very
unpopular. I wish I didn't feel so low-spirited and unwell. Why can't I
carry it off easily asas a kind of joke? How hard these forms are,
and how those infernal boys did jog my back!
Bedtime came at length. The boys filed, one by one, out of the room,
and the Doctor stood by the door to shake hands with them as they
Mr. Bultitude lingered until the others had gone, for he had made up
his mind to seize this opportunity to open the Doctor's eyes to the
mistake he was making. But he felt unaccountably nervous; the
diplomatic and well-chosen introduction he had carefully prepared had
left him at the critical moment; all power of thought was gone with it,
and he went tremblingly up to the schoolmaster, feeling hopelessly at
the mercy of anything that chose to come out of his mouth.
Dr. Grimstone, he began; before retiring II must insistI mean
I must requestWhat I wish to say is
I see, said the Doctor, catching him up sharply. You wish to
apologise for your extraordinary behaviour in the railway carriage?
Well, though you made some amends afterwards, an apology is very right
and proper. Say no more about it.
It's not that, said Paul hopelessly; I wanted to explain
Your conduct with regard to the bread and butter? If it was simply
want of appetite, of course there is no more to be said. But I have an
Quite right, said Paul, recovering himself; I hate waste myself,
but there is something I must tell you before
If it concerns that disgraceful conduct of Coker's, said the
Doctor, you may speak on. I shall have to consider his case to-morrow.
Has any similar case of disobedience come to your knowledge? If so, I
expect you to disclose it to me. You have found some other boy with
sweetmeats in his possession?
Good Heavens, sir! said Mr. Bultitude, losing his temper; I
haven't been searching the whole school for sweetmeats! I have other
things to occupy my mind, sir. And, once for all, I demand to be heard!
Dr. Grimstone, there are, ahem, domestic secrets that can only be
alluded to in the strictest privacy. I see that one of your assistants
is writing at his table there. Cannot we go where there will be less
risk of interruption? You have a study, I suppose?
Yes, sir, said the Doctor with terrible grimness, I have a
studyand I have a cane. I can convince you of both facts, if you wish
it. If you insult me again by this brazen buffoonery, I will! Be off to
your dormitory, sir, before you provoke me to punish you. Not another
And, incredible as it may appear to all who have never been in his
position, Mr. Bultitude went. It was almost an abdication, it was
treachery to his true self; he knew the vital importance of firmness at
this crisis. But nevertheless his courage gave way all at once, and he
crawled up the bare, uncarpeted stairs without any further protest!
Good night, Master Bultitude, said a housemaid, meeting him on the
staircase: you know your bedroom. No. 6, with Master Coker, and Master
Biddlecomb, and the others.
Paul dragged himself up to the highest landing-stage, and, with a
sick foreboding, opened the door on which the figure 6 was painted.
It was a large bare plainly papered room, with several curtainless
windows, the blinds of which were drawn, a long deal stand of wash-hand
basins, and eight little white beds against the walls.
A fire was lighted in consideration of its being the first night,
and several boys were talking excitedly round it. Here he is! He's
stayed behind to tell more tales! they cried, as Paul entered
nervously. Now then, Bultitude, what have you got to say for
Mr. Bultitude felt powerless among all these young wolves. He had no
knowledge of boys, nor any notion of acquiring an influence over them,
having hitherto regarded them as necessary nuisances, to be rather
repressed than studied. He could only stare hopelessly at them in
You see he hasn't a word to say for himself! said Tipping. Look
here, what shall we do to him? Shall we try tossing in a blanket? I've
never tried tossing a fellow in one myself, but as long as you don't
jerk him too high, or out on the floor, you can't hurt him
No, I say, don't toss him in a blanket, pleaded Biddlecomb, and
Paul felt gratefully towards him at the words; anyone coming up would
see what was going on. I vote we flick at him with towels.
Now just you understand this clearly, said Paul, thinking, not
without reason, that this course of treatment was likely to prove
painful; I refuse to allow myself to be flicked at with towels. No one
has ever offered me such an indignity in my life! Oh, do you think I've
not enough on my mind as it is without the barbarities of a set of
young brutes like you!
As this appeal was not of a very conciliatory nature they at once
proceeded to form a circle round him and, judging their distance with
great accuracy, jerked towels at his person with such diabolical
dexterity that the wet corners cut him at all points like so many fine
thongs, and he span round like a top, dancing, and, I regret to add,
swearing violently, at the pain.
When he was worked up almost to frenzy pitch Biddlecomb's sweet low
voice cried, Cave, you fellows! I hear Grim. Let him undress
now, and we can lam it into him afterwards with slippers!
At this they all cast off such of their clothes as they still wore,
and slipped modestly and peacefully into bed, just as Dr. Grimstone's
large form appeared at the doorway. Mr. Bultitude made as much haste as
he could, but did not escape a reprimand from the Doctor as he turned
the gas out; and as soon as he had made the round of the bedrooms and
his heavy tread had died away down the staircase, the light-hearted
occupants of No. 6 lammed it into the unhappy Paul until they were
tired of the exercise and left him to creep sore and trembling with
rage and fright into his cold hard bed.
Then, after a little desultory conversation, one by one sank from
incoherence into silence, and rose from silence to snores, while Paul
alone lay sleepless, listening to the creeping tinkle of the dying
fire, drearily wondering at the marvellous change that had come over
his life and fortunes in the last few hours, and feverishly composing
impassioned appeals which were to touch the Doctor's heart and convince
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disasters in his morning's face.
Sleep came at last, and brought too brief forgetfulness. It was not
till the dull grey light of morning was glimmering through the blinds
that Mr. Bultitude awoke to his troubles.
The room was bitterly cold, and he remained shivering in bed for
some time, trying to realise and prepare for his altered condition.
He was the only one awake. Now and then from one of the beds around
a boy would be heard talking in his sleep, or laughing with holiday
gleeat the drolleries possibly of some pantomime performed for his
amusement in the Theatre Royal, Dreamlanda theatre mercifully open to
all boys free of charge, long after the holidays have come to an end,
the only drawbacks being a certain want of definiteness in the plot and
scenery, and a liability to premature termination of the vaguely
Once Kiffin, the new boy, awoke with a start and a heavy sigh, but
he cried himself to sleep again almost immediately.
Mr. Bultitude could bear being inactive no longer. He thought, if he
got up, he might perhaps see his misfortunes shrink to a more bearable,
less hopeless scale, and besides, he judged it prudent, for many
reasons, to finish his toilet before the sleepers began theirs.
Very stealthily, dreading to rouse anyone and attract attention in
the form of slippers, he broke the clinking crust of ice in one of the
basins and, shuddering from the shock, bathed face and hands in the
biting water. He parted his hair, which from natural causes he had been
unable to accomplish for some years, and now found an awkwardness in
accomplishing neatly, and then stole down the dark creaking staircase
just as the butler in the hall began to swing the big railway bell
which was to din stern reality into the sleepy ears above.
In the schoolroom a yawning maid had just lighted the fire, from
which turbid yellow clouds of sulphurous smoke were pouring into the
room, making it necessary to open the windows and lower a temperature
that was far from high originally.
Paul stood shaking by the mantelpiece in a very bad temper for some
minutes. If the Doctor had come in then, he might have been spurred by
indignation to utter his woes, and even claim and obtain his freedom.
But that was not to be.
The door did open presently, however, and a little girl appeared; a
very charming little maiden indeed, in a neat dark costume relieved by
a fresh white pinafore. She had deep grey eyes and glossy brown hair
falling over her forehead and down her back in soft straight masses,
her face was oval rather than round, and slightly serious, though her
smile was pretty and gay.
She ran towards Mr. Bultitude with a glad little cry, stretching out
Dick! dear Dick! she said, I am so glad! I thought you'd be down
early; as you used to be. I wanted to sit up last night so very much,
but mamma wouldn't let me.
Some might have been very glad to be welcomed in this way, even
vicariously. As for boys, it must have been a very bad school indeed
which Dulcie Grimstone could not have robbed of much of its terrors.
Mr. Bultitude, however, as has been explained, did not appreciate
childrenbeing a family man himself. When one sees their petty
squabbles and jealousies, hears their cruel din, and pays for their
monkeyish mischief, perhaps the daintiest children seem but an earthly
order of cherubim. He was only annoyed and embarrassed by the
interruption, though he endured it.
Ah, he said with condescension, and so you're Dr. Grimstone's
little girl, are you? How d'ye do, my dear?
Dulcie stopped and looked at him, with drawn eyebrows and her soft
mouth quivering. What makes you talk like that? she asked.
How ought I to talk? said Paul.
You didn't talk like that before, said Dulcie plaintively. II
thought perhaps you'd be glad to see me. You were once. Andandwhen
you went away last you asked me totokiss you, and I did, and I wish
I hadn't. And you gave me a ginger lozenge with your name written on it
in lead pencil, and I gave you a cough-lozenge with mine; and you said
it was to show that you were my sweetheart and I was yours. But I
suppose you've eaten the one I gave you?
This is dreadful! thought Mr. Bultitude. What shall I do now? The
child evidently takes me for that little scoundrel Dick. Tut-tut, he
said aloud, little girls like you are too young for such nonsense. You
ought to think aboutabout your dolls, andah, your needleworknot
You say that now! cried Dulcie indignantly. You know I'm not a
little girl, and I've left off playing with dollsalmost. Oh, Dick,
don't be unkind! You haven't changed your mind, have you?
No, said Paul dismally, I've changed my body. But thereyou
wouldn't understand. Run away and play somewhere, like a good little
I know what it is! said Dulcie. You've been out to parties, or
somewhere, and seen some horrid girl ... you like ... better than me!
This is absurd, you know, said Mr. Bultitude. You can't think how
absurd it is! Now, you'll be a very foolish little girl if you cry.
You're making a mistake. I'm not the Dick you used to know!
I know you're not! sobbed Dulcie. But oh, Dick, you will be.
Promise me you will be! And, to Paul's horror and alarm, she put her
arms round his neck, and cried piteously on his shoulder.
Good gracious! he cried, let me go. Don't do that, for Heaven's
sake! I can hear some one coming. If it's your father, it will ruin
But it was too late. Over her head he saw Tipping enter the room,
and stand glaring at them menacingly. Dulcie saw him too, and sprang
away to the window, where she tried to dry her eyes unperceived, and
then ran past him with a hurried good morning, and escaped, leaving
Paul alone with the formidable Tipping.
There was an awkward silence at first, which Tipping broke by
saying, What have you been saying to make her cry, eh?
What's that to you, sir? said Paul, trying to keep his voice firm.
Why, it's just this to me, said Tipping, that I've been spoons on
Dulcie myself ever since I came, and she never would have a word to say
to me. I never could think why, and now it turns out to be you! What do
you mean by cutting me out like this? I heard her call you 'dear
Don't be an ass, sir! said Paul angrily.
Now, none of your cheek, you know! said Tipping, edging up against
him with a dangerous inclination first to jostle aggressively, and then
maul his unconscious rival. You just mind what I say. I'm not going to
have Dulcie bothered by a young beggar in the second form; she deserves
something better than that, anyway, and I tell you that if I once catch
you talking to her in the way you did just now, or if I hear of her
favouring you more than any other fellows, I'll give you the very
juiciest licking you ever had in your life. So look out!
At this point the other boys began to straggle down and cluster
round the fire, and Paul withdrew from the aggrieved Tipping, and
looked drearily out of the window on the hard road and bare black trees
I must tell the Doctor how I'm situated! he thought; and
yet directly I open my mouth, he threatens to flog me. If I stay here,
that little girl will be always trying to speak to me, and I shall be
thrashed by the red-haired boy. If I could only manage to speak out
It was not without satisfaction that he remembered that he paid
extra for meat for breakfast in his son's school-bills, for he was
beginning to look forward to meal-time with the natural desire of a
young and healthy frame for nourishment.
At eight o'clock the Doctor came in and announced breakfast, leading
the way himself to what was known in the school as the Dining Hall.
It scarcely deserved so high-sounding a name perhaps, being a long low
room on the basement floor, with a big fireplace, fitted with taps, and
baking ovens, which provoked the suspicion that it had begun existence
as a back kitchen.
The Doctor took his seat alone at a cross table forming the top of
one of the two rows of tables, set with white cups and saucers, and
plates well heaped with the square pieces of bread and butter, while
Mrs. Grimstone with Dulcie and Tom, sat at the foot of the same row,
behind two ugly urns of dull block-tin.
But when Mr. Bultitude, more hungry than he had felt for years,
found his place at one of the tables, he was disgusted to find upon his
platenot, as he had confidently expected, a couple of plump poached
eggs, with their appetising contrast of ruddy gold and silvery white,
not a crisp and crackling sausage or a mottled omelette, not even the
homely but luscious rasher, but a brace of chill forbidding sardines,
lying grim and headless in bilious green oil!
It was a fish he positively loathed, nor could it be reasonably
expected that the confidence necessary for a declaration was to be
forgotten by so sepulchral a form of nutriment.
He roused himself, however, to swallow them, together with some of
the thin and tin-flavoured coffee. But the meal as a whole was so
different from the plentiful well-cooked breakfasts he had sat down
before for years as a matter of course, that it made him feel extremely
No talking was allowed during the meal. The Doctor now and then
looked up from his dish of kidneys on toast (at which envious glances
were occasionally cast) to address a casual remark to his wife across
the long row of plates and cups, but, as a rule, the dull champing
sound of boys solemnly and steadily munching was all that broke the
Towards the end, when the plates had been generally cleared, and the
boys sat staring with the stolidity of repletion at one another across
the tables, the junior house-master, Mr. Tinkler, made his appearance.
He had lately left a small and little-known college at Cambridge, where
he had contrived, contrary to expectation, to evade the uncoveted
wooden spoon by just two places, which enabled the Doctor to announce
himself as being assisted by a graduate of the University of Cambridge
who has taken honours in the Mathematical Tripos.
For the rest, he was a small insignificant-looking person, who
evidently disliked the notice his late appearance drew upon himself.
Mr. Tinkler, said the Doctor in his most awful voice, if it were
my custom to rebuke my assistants before the school (which it is not),
I should feel forced to remind you that this tardiness in rising is a
bad beginning of the day's work, and sets a bad example to those under
Mr. Tinkler made no articulate reply, but sat down with a crushed
expression, and set himself to devour bread and butter with an energy
which he hoped would divert attention from his blushes; and almost
immediately the Doctor looked at his watch and said, Now, boys, you
have half-an-hour for 'chevy'make the most of it. When you come in I
shall have something to say to you all. Don't rise, Mr. Tinkler, unless
you have quite finished.
Mr. Tinkler preferred leaving his breakfast to continuing it under
the trying ordeal of his principal's inspection. So, hastily murmuring
that he had made an excellent breakfastwhich he had nothe
followed the others, who clattered upstairs to put on their boots and
go out into the playground.
It was noticeable that they did so without much of the enthusiasm
which might be looked for from boys dismissed to their sports. But the
fact was that this particular sport, chevy, commonly known as
prisoners' base, was by no means a popular amusement, being of a
somewhat monotonous nature, and calling for no special skill on the
part of the performers. Besides this, moreover, it had the additional
disadvantage (which would have been fatal to a far more fascinating
diversion) of being in a great measure compulsory.
Football and cricket were of course reserved for half-holidays, and
played in a neighbouring field rented by the Doctor, and in the
playground he restricted them to chevy, which he considered, rightly
enough, both gave them abundant exercise and kept them out of mischief.
Accordingly, if any adventurous spirit started a rival game, it was
usually abandoned sooner or later in deference to suggestions from
headquarters which were not intended to be disregarded.
This, though undoubtedly well meant, did not serve to stimulate
their affection for the game, an excellent one in moderation, but one
which, if played by special desire two or three hours a day for weeks
in succession is apt to lose its freshness and pall upon the youthful
It was a bright morning. There had been a hard frost during the
night, and the ground was hard, sparkling with rime and ringing to the
foot. The air was keen and invigorating, and the bare black branches of
the trees were outlined clear and sharp against the pale pure blue of
the morning sky.
Just the weather for a long day's skating over the dark green glassy
ice, or a bracing tramp on country roads into cheery red-roofed market
towns. But now it had lost all power to charm. It was almost depressing
by the contrast between the boundless liberty suggested, and the dull
reality of a round of uninteresting work which was all it heralded.
So they lounged listlessly about, gravitating finally towards the
end of the playground, where a deep furrow marked the line of the base.
There was no attempt to play. They stood gossiping in knots, grumbling
and stamping their feet to keep warm. By-and-by the day-boarders began
to drop in one by one, several of them, from a want of tact in adapting
themselves to the general tone, earning decided unpopularity at once by
a cheerful briskness and an undisguised satisfaction at having
something definite to do once more.
If Mr. Tinkler, who had joined one of the groups, had not
particularly distinguished himself at breakfast, he made ample amends
now, and by the grandeur and manliness of his conversation succeeded in
producing a decided impression upon some of the smaller boys.
The bore of a place like this, you know, he was saying with
magnificent disdain, is that a fellow can't have his pipe of a
morning. I've been used to it, and so, of course, I miss it. If I chose
to insist on it Grimstone couldn't say anything; but with a lot of
young fellows like you, you see, it wouldn't look well!
It could hardly have looked worse than little Mr. Tinkler himself
would have done, if he had ventured upon more than the mildest of
cigarettes, for he was a poor but pertinacious smoker, and his love for
the weed was chastened by wholesome fear. There, however, he was in no
danger of betraying this, and indeed it would have been injudicious to
Talking of smoking, he went on, with a soft chuckle, as at
recollections of unspeakable devilry, did I ever tell you chaps of a
tremendous scrape I very nearly got into up at the 'Varsity? Well, you
must know there's a foolish rule there against smoking in the streets.
Not that that made any difference to some of us! Well, one night about
nine, I was strolling down Petty Cury with two other men, smoking
(Bosher of Pothouse, and Peebles of Cats, both pretty well known up
there for general rowdiness, you knowgreat pals of mine!) and, just
as we turned the corner, who should we see coming straight down on us
but a Proctor with his bull-dogs (not dogs, you know, but the strongest
'gyps' in college). Bosher said, 'Let's cut it!' and he and Peebles
bolted. (They were neither of them funks, of course, but they lost
their heads.) I went calmly on, smoking my cigar as if nothing was the
matter. That put the Proctor in a bait, I can tell you! He came fuming
up to me. 'What do you mean, sir,' says he, quite pale with anger (he
was a great bull-headed fellow, one of the strongest dons of his year,
that's why they made him a Proctor)'what do you mean by breaking the
University Statutes in this way?' 'It is a fine evening,' said I
(I was determined to keep cool). 'Do you mean to insult me?' said he.
'No, old boy,' said I, 'I don't; have a cigar?' He couldn't stand that,
so he called up his bull-dogs. 'I give him in charge!' he screamed out.
'I'll have him sent down!' 'I'll send you down first,' said I, and I
just gave him a pushI never meant to hurt the fellowand over he
went. I rolled over a bull-dog to keep him company, and, as the other
fellow didn't want any more and stood aside to let me pass, I finished
my stroll and my cigar.
Was the Proctor hurt, sir? inquired a small boy with great
More frightened than hurt, I always said, said Mr. Tinkler
lightly, but somehow he never would proctorise any moreit spoilt his
nerve. He was a good deal chaffed about it, but of course no one ever
knew I'd had anything to do with it!
With such tales of Homeric exploit did Mr. Tinkler inculcate a
spirit of discipline and respect for authority. But although he had
indeed once encountered a Proctor, and at night, he did himself great
injustice by this version of the proceedings, which were, as a matter
of fact, of a most peaceable and law-abiding character, and though
followed by a pecuniary transaction the next day in which
six-and-eightpence changed pockets, the Proctors continued their duties
much as before, while Mr. Tinkler's feelings towards them, which had
ever been reverential in the extreme, were, if anything, intensified by
Upon this incident, however, he had gradually embroidered the above
exciting episode, until he grew to believe at intervals that he really
had been a devil of a fellow in his time, which, to do him justice, was
far from the case.
He might have gone on still further to calumniate himself, and
excite general envy and admiration thereby, if at that moment Dr.
Grimstone had not happened to appear at the head of the cast-iron
staircase that led down into the playground; whereupon Mr. Tinkler
affected to be intensely interested in the game, which, as a kind of
involuntary compliment to the principal, about this time was galvanised
into a sort of vigour.
But the Doctor, after frowning gloomily down upon them for a minute
or so, suddenly called All in!
He had several ways of saying this. Sometimes he would do so in a
half-regretful tone, as one himself obeying the call of duty; sometimes
he would appear for some minutes, a benignant spectator, upon the
balcony, and summon them to work at length with a lenient pityfor he
was by no means a hard-hearted man; but at other times he would step
sharply and suddenly out and shout the word of command with a grim and
ominous expression. On these last occasions the school generally
prepared itself for a rather formidable quarter of an hour.
This was the case now and, as a further portent, Mr. Blinkhorn was
observed to come down and, after a few words with Mr. Tinkler, withdrew
with him through the school gate.
He's sent them out for a walk, said Siggers, who was skilled in
omens. It's a row!
Rows at Crichton House, although periodical, and therefore things to
be forearmed against in some degree, were serious matters. Dr.
Grimstone was a quick-tempered man, with a copious flow of words and a
taste for indulging it. He was also strongly prejudiced against many
breaches of discipline which others might have considered trifling, and
whenever he had discovered any such breach he could not rest until by
all the means in his power he had ascertained exactly how many were
implicated in the offence, and to what extent.
His usual method of doing this was to summon the school formally
together and deliver an elaborate harangue, during which he worked
himself by degrees into such a state of indignation that his hearers
were most of them terrified out of their senses, and very often
conscience-stricken offenders would give themselves up as hopelessly
detected and reveal transgressions altogether unsuspected by himmuch
as a net brings up fish of all degrees of merit, or as heavy firing
will raise drowned corpses to the surface.
Paul naturally knew nothing of this peculiarity; he had kept himself
as usual apart from the others, and was now trying to compel himself to
brave the terrors of an avowal at the first opportunity. He followed
the others up the steps with an uneasy wonder whether, after all, he
would not find himself ignominiously set down to learn lessons.
The boys filed into the schoolroom in solemn silence, and took their
seats at the desks and along the brown tables. The Doctor was there
before them, standing up with one elbow resting upon a reading-stand,
and with a suggestion of coming thunder in his look and attitude that,
combined with the oppressive silence, made some of the boys feel
Presently he began. He said that, since they had come together
again, he had made a discovery concerning one among them which,
astounding as it was to him, and painful as he felt it to be compelled
to make it known, concerned them all to be aware of.
Mr. Bultitude could scarcely believe his ears. His secret was
discovered, then; the injury done him by Dick about to be repaired, and
open restitution and apology offered him! It was not perhaps precisely
delicate on the Doctor's part to make so public an affair of it, but so
long as it ended well, he could afford to overlook that.
So he settled himself comfortably on a form with his back against a
desk and his legs crossed, his expression indicating plainly that he
knew what was coming and, on the whole, approved of it.
Ever since I have devoted myself to the cause of tuition,
continued the Doctor, I have made it my object to provide boys under
my roof with fare so abundant and so palatable that they should have no
excuse for obtaining extraneous luxuries. I have presided myself at
their meals, I have superintended their very sports with a fatherly
Here he paused, and fixed one or two of those nearest him with the
fatherly eye in such a manner that they writhed with confusion.
He's wandering from the point, thought Paul, a little puzzled.
I have done all this on one understandingthat the robustness of
your constitutions, acquired by the plain, simple, but abundant regimen
of my table, shall not be tampered with by the indulgence in any of the
pampering products of confectionery. They are absolutely and
unconditionally prohibitedas every boy who hears me now knows
And yet (here he began gradually to relax his self-restraint and
lash himself into a frenzy of indignation), what do I find? There are
some natures so essentially base, so incapable of being affected by
kindness, so dead to honour and generosity, that they will not scruple
to conspire or set themselves individually to escape and baffle the
wise precautions undertaken for their benefit. I will not name the
dastards at presentthey themselves can look into their hearts and see
their guilt reflected there
At this every boy, beginning to see the tendency of his
denunciations, tried hard to assume an air of conscious innocence and
grieved interest, the majority achieving conspicuous failure.
I do not like to think, said Dr. Grimstone, that the evil has a
wider existence than I yet know of. It may be so; nothing will surprise
me now. There may be some before me trembling with the consciousness of
secret guilt. If so, let those boys make the only reparation in their
power, and give themselves up in an honourable and straightforward
To this invitation, which indeed resembled that of the
duck-destroying Mrs. Bond, no one made any response. They had grown too
wary, and now preferred to play a waiting game.
Then let the beingfor I will not call him boywho is known to
me, step forth and confess his fault publicly, and sue for pardon!
thundered the Doctor, now warmed to his theme.
But the being declined from a feeling of modesty, and a faint hope
that somebody else might, after all, be the person aimed at.
Then I name him! stormed Dr. Grimstone; Cornelius Coggsstand
Coggs half rose in a limp manner, whimpering feebly, Me, sir? Oh,
please sirno, not me, sir!
Yes, you, sir, and let your companions regard you with the contempt
and abhorrence you so richly merit! Here, needless to say, the whole
school glared at poor Coggs with as much virtuous indignation as they
could summon up at such short notice; for contempt is very infectious
when communicated from high quarters.
So, Coggs, said the Doctor, with a slow and withering scorn, so
you thought to defy me; to smuggle compressed illness and concentrated
unhealthiness into this school with impunity? You flattered yourself
that after I had once confiscated your contraband poisons, you would
hear no more of it! You deceived yourself, sir! I tell you, once for
all, that I will not allow you to contaminate your innocent schoolmates
with your gifts of surreptitious sweetmeats; they shall not be
perverted with your pernicious peppermints, sir; you shall not deprave
them by jujubes, or enervate them with Turkish Delight! I will not
expose myself or them to the inroads of disease invited here by a
hypocritical inmate of my walls. The traitor shall have his reward!
All of which simply meant that the Doctor, having once had a small
boy taken seriously ill from the effects of overeating himself, was
naturally anxious to avoid such an inconvenience for the future.
Thanks to the fearless honesty of a youth, continued the Doctor,
who, in an eccentric manner, certainly, but with, I do not doubt, the
best of motives, opened my eyes to the fell evil, I am enabled to cope
with it at its birth. Richard Bultitude, I take this occasion of
publicly thanking and commending you; your conduct was noble!
Mr. Bultitude was too angry and disappointed to speak. He had
thought his path was going to be made smooth, and now all this
ridiculous fuss was being made about a few peppermint lozenges. He
wished he had never mentioned them. It was not the last time he
breathed that wish. As for you, Coggs, said the Doctor, suddenly
producing a lithe brown cane, I shall make a public example of you.
Coggs stared idiotically and protested, but after a short and
painful scene, was sent off up to his bedroom, yelping like a kicked
One word more, said the Doctor, now almost calm again. I know
that you all think with me in your horror of the treachery I have just
exposed. I know that you would scorn to participate in it. (A thrill
and murmur, expressive of intense horror and scorn, went round the
benches.) You are anxious to prove that you do so beyond a doubt.
(Again a murmur of assent.) I give you all that opportunity. I have
implicit trust and confidence in youlet every boarder go down into
the box-room and fetch up his playbox, just as it is, and open it here
There was a general fall of jaws at this very unexpected conclusion;
but contriving to overcome their dismay, they went outside and down
through the playground into the box-room, Paul amongst the rest, and
amidst universal confusion, everyone opened his box, and, with a
consideration especially laudable in heedless boyhood, thoughtfully and
carefully removed from it all such dainties as might be calculated to
shock or pain their preceptor.
Mr. Bultitude found a key which was labelled playbox, and began to
open a box which bore Dick's initials cut upon the lid; without any
apprehensions, however, for he had given too strict orders to his
daughter, to fear that any luxuries would be concealed there.
But no sooner had he raised the lid than he staggered back with
disgust. It was crammed with cakes, butterscotch, hardbake, pots of
jam, and even a bottle of ginger wineenough to compromise a
He set himself to pitch them all out as soon as possible with
feverish haste, but Tipping was too quick for him. Hallo! he cried:
oh, I say, you fellows, come here! Just look at this! Here's this
impudent young beggar, who sneaked of poor old Coggs for sucking
jujubes, and very nearly got us all into a jolly good row, with his own
box full all the time; butterscotch, if you please, and jam, and ginger
wine! You'll just put 'em all back again, will you, you young humbug!
Do you use those words to me, sir? said Paul angrily, for he did
not like to be called a humbug.
Yes, sir, please, sir, jeered Tipping; I did venture to take such
a liberty, sir.
Then it was like your infernal impudence, growled Paul. You be
kind enough to leave my affairs alone. Upon my word, what boys are
coming to nowadays!
Are you going to put that tuck back? said Tipping impatiently.
No, sir, I'm not. Don't interfere with what you're not expected to
Well, if you won't, said Tipping easily, I suppose we must.
Biddlecomb, kindly knock him down, and sit on his head while I fill his
playbox for him.
This was neatly and quickly done. Biddlecomb tripped Mr. Bultitude
up, and sat firmly on him, while Tipping carefully replaced the good
things in Dick's box, after which he locked it, and courteously
returned the key. As the box is heavy, he said, with a wicked wink,
I'll carry it up for you myself, which he did, Paul following, more
dead than alive, and too shaken even to expostulate.
Bultitude's box was rather too heavy for him, sir, he explained as
he came in; and Dr. Grimstone, who had quite recovered his equanimity,
smiled indulgently, and remarked that he liked to see the strong
assisting the weak.
All the boxes had by this time been brought up, and were ranged upon
the tables, while the Doctor went round, making an almost formal
inspection, like a Custom House officer searching compatriots, and
becoming milder and milder as box after box opened to reveal a fair and
Paul's turn was coming very near, and his heart seemed to shrivel
like a burst bladder. He fumbled with his key, and tried hard to lose
it. It was terrible to have oneself to apply the match which is to blow
one to the winds. Ififthe idea was almost too horriblebut if he,
a blameless and respectable city merchant, were actually to find
himself served like the miserable Coggs!
At last the Doctor actually stood by him. Well, my boy, he said,
not unkindly, I'm not afraid of anything wrong here, at any rate.
Mr. Bultitude, who had the best reasons for not sharing his
confidence, made some inarticulate sounds, and pretended to have a
difficulty in turning the key.
Eh? Come, open the box, said the Doctor with an altered manner.
What are you fumbling at it for in thisthis highly suspicious
manner? I'll open it myself.
He took the key and opened the lid, when the cakes and wine stood
revealed in all their damning profusion. The Doctor stepped back
dramatically. Hardbake! he gasped; wine, pots of strawberry jam! Oh,
Bultitude, this is a revelation indeed! So I have nourished one more
viper in my bosom, have I? A crawling reptile which curries favour by
denouncing the very crime it conceals in its playbox! Bultitude, I was
not prepared for such duplicity as this!
II swear I never put them in! protested the unhappy Paul. II
never touch such things: they would bring on my gout in half-an-hour.
It's ridiculous to punish me. I never knew they were there!
Then why were you so anxious to avoid opening the box? rejoined
the Doctor. No, sir, you're too ingenious; your guilt is clear. Go to
your dormitory, and wait there till I come to you!
Paul went upstairs, feeling utterly abandoned and helpless. Though a
word as to his real character might have saved him, he could not have
said it, and, worse still, knew now that he could not.
I shall be caned, he told himself, and the thought nearly drove
him mad. I know I shall be caned! What on earth shall I do?
He opened the door of his bedroom. Coggs was rocking and moaning on
his bed in one corner of the room, but looked up with red furious eyes
as Paul came in.
What do you want up here? he said savagely. Go away, can't you!
I wish I could go away, said Paul dolefully; but
I'mhumI'm sent up here too, he explained, with some natural
What! cried Coggs, slipping off his bed and staring wildly: you
don't mean to say you're going to catch it too?
I'veahevery reason to fear, said Mr. Bultitude stiffly, that
I am indeed going to 'catch it,' as you call it.
Hooray! shouted Coggs hysterically: I don't care now. And I'll
have some revenge on my own account as well. I don't mind an extra
licking, and you're in for one as it is. Will you stand up to me or
I don't understand you, said Paul. Don't come so near. Keep off,
you young demon, will you! he cried presently, as Coggs, exasperated
by all his wrongs, was rushing at him with an evidently hostile intent.
There, don't be annoyed, my good boy, he pleaded, catching up a chair
as a bulwark. It was a misunderstanding. I wish you no harm. There, my
dear young friend! Don't!
The dear young friend was grappling with him and attempting to
wrest the chair away by brute force. When I get at you, he said, his
hot breath hissing through the chair rungs, I'll jolly well teach you
to sneak of me!
Murder! Paul gasped, feeling his hold on the chair relaxing.
Unless help comes this young fiend will have my blood!
They were revolving slowly round the chair, watching each other's
eyes like gladiators, when Paul noticed a sudden blankness and fixity
in his antagonist's expression, and, looking round, saw Dr. Grimstone's
awful form framed in the doorway, and gave himself up for lost.
I subscribe to Lucian: 'tis an elegant thing which cheareth up
mind, exerciseth the body, delights the spectators, which
many comely gestures, equally affecting the ears, eyes and
itself.BURTON, on Dancing.
What is this? asked Dr. Grimstone in his most blood-curdling tone,
after a most impressive pause at the dormitory door.
Mr. Bultitude held his tongue, but kept fast hold of his chair,
which he held before him as a defence against either party, while Coggs
remained motionless in the centre of the room, with crooked knees and
hands dangling impotently.
Will one of you be good enough to explain how you come to be found
struggling in this unseemly manner? I sent you up here to meditate on
your past behaviour.
I should be most happy to meditate, sir, protested Paul, lowering
his chair on discovering that there was no immediate danger, if
thatthat bloodthirsty young ruffian there would allow me to do so. I
am going about in bodily fear of him, Dr. Grimstone. I want him bound
over to keep the peace. I decline to be left alone with himhe's not
Is that so, Coggs? Are you mean and base enough to take this
cowardly revenge on a boy who has had the moral courage to expose your
deceitfor your ultimate gooda boy who is unable to defend himself
He can fight when he chooses, sir, said Coggs; he blacked my eye
last term, sir!
I assure you, said Paul, with the convincing earnestness of truth,
that I never blacked anybody's eye in the whole course of my life. I
am notaha pugnacious man. My age, andhummy position, ought to
protect me from these scandals
You've come back this year, sir, said Dr. Grimstone, with a very
odd way of talking of yourselfan exceedingly odd way. Unless I see
you abandoning it, and behaving like a reasonable boy again, I shall be
forced to conclude you intend some disrespect and open defiance by it.
If you would allow me an opportunity of explaining my position,
sir, said Paul, I would undertake to clear your mind directly of such
a monstrous idea. I am trying to assert my rights, Dr. Grimstonemy
rights as a citizen, as a householder! This is no place for me, and I
appeal to you to set me free. If you only knew one tenth
Let us understand one another, Bultitude, interrupted the Doctor.
You may think it an excellent joke to talk nonsense to me like this.
But let me tell you there is a point where a jest becomes an insult.
I've spared you hitherto out of consideration for the feelings of your
excellent father, who is so anxious that you should become an object of
pride and credit to him; but if you dare to treat me to any more of
this bombast about 'explaining your rights,' you will force me to
exercise one of minethe right to inflict corporal punishment,
sirwhich you have just seen in operation upon another.
Oh! said Mr. Bultitude faintly, feeling utterly crestfallenand
he could say nothing more.
As for those illicit luxuries in your playbox, continued the
Doctor, the fact that you brought the box up as it was is in your
favour; and I am inclined on reflection to overlook the affair, if you
can assure me that you were no party to their being put there?
On the contrary, said Paul, I gave the strictest orders that
there was to be no such useless extravagance. I objected to have the
kitchen and housekeeper's room ransacked to make a set of rascally boys
ill for a fortnight at my expense!
The Doctor stared slightly at this creditable but unnatural view of
the subject. However, as he could not quarrel with the sentiment, he
let the manner of expressing it pass unrebuked for the present, and,
after sentencing Coggs to two days' detention and the copying of
innumerable French verbs, he sent the ill-matched pair down to the
schoolroom to join their respective classes.
Paul went resignedly downstairs and into the room, where he found
Mr. Blinkhorn at the head of one of the long tables, taking a class of
about a dozen boys.
Take your Livy and Latin Primer, Bultitude, said Mr. Blinkhorn
mildly, and sit down.
Mr. Blinkhorn was a tall angular man, with a long neck and slightly
drooping head. He had thin wiry brown hair, and a plain face, with
shortsighted kind brown eyes. In character he was mild and reserved,
too conscientious to allow himself the luxury of either favourites or
aversions among the boys, all of whom in his secret soul he probably
disliked about equally, though he neither said nor did anything to show
Paul took a bookany book, for he did not know or care to know one
from anotherand sat down at the end furthest from the master,
inwardly rebelling at having education thus forced upon him at his
advanced years, but seeing no escape.
At dinner time, he resolved desperately, I will insist on
speaking out, but just now it is simply prudent to humour them.
The rest of the class drew away from him with marked coldness and
occasionally saluted him (when Mr. Blinkhorn's attention was called
away) with terms and grimaces which Paul, although he failed thoroughly
to understand them, felt instinctively were not intended as
Mr. Blinkhorn's notions of discipline were qualified by a
sportsmanlike instinct which forbade him to harass a boy already in
trouble, as he understood young Bultitude had been, and so he forbore
from pressing him to take any share in the class work.
Mr. Bultitude therefore was saved from any necessity of betraying
his total ignorance of his author, and sat gloomily on the hard form,
impatiently watching the minute-hand skulk round the mean dull face of
the clock above the chimney-piece, while around him one boy after
another droned out a listless translation of the work before him,
interrupted by mild corrections and comments from the master.
What a preposterous change from all his ordinary habits! At this
very time, only twenty-four hours since, he was stepping slowly and
majestically towards his accustomed omnibus, which was waiting with
deference for him to overtake it; he was taking his seat, saluted
respectfully by the conductor and cheerily by his fellow-passengers, as
a man of recognised mark and position.
Now that omnibus would halt at the corner of Westbourne Terrace in
vain, and go on its way Bankwards without him. He was many miles
awayin the very last place where anyone would be likely to look for
him, occupying the post of whipping-boy to his miserable son!
Was ever an inoffensive and respectable gentleman placed in a more
false and ridiculous position?
If he had only kept his drawer locked, and hidden the abominable
Garudâ Stone away from Dick's prying eyes; if he had let the moralising
alone; if Boaler had not been so long fetching that cab, or if he had
not happened to faint at the critical momentwhat an immense
difference any one of these apparent trifles would have made.
And now what was he to do to get out of this incongruous and
distasteful place? It was all very well to say that he had only to
insist upon a hearing from the Doctor, but what if, as he had very
grave reason to fear, the Doctor should absolutely refuse to listen,
should even proceed to carry out his horrible threat? Must he remain
there till the holidays came to release him? Suppose Dickas he
certainly would unless he was quite a fooldeclined to receive him
during the holidays? It was absolutely necessary to return home at
once; every additional hour he passed in imprisonment made it harder to
regain his lost self.
Now and then he roused himself from all these gloomy thoughts to
observe his companions. The boys at the upper end, near Mr. Blinkhorn,
were fairly attentive, and he noticed one small smug-faced boy about
half-way up, who, while a class-mate was faltering and blundering over
some question, would cry I know, sir. Let me tell him. Ask me, sir!
in a restless agony of superior information.
Down by Paul, however, the discipline was relaxed enough, as perhaps
could only be expected on the first day of term. One wild-eyed
long-haired boy had brought out a small china figure with which, and
the assistance of his right hand draped in a pocket handkerchief, and
wielding a penholder, he was busy enacting a drama based on the lines
of Punch and Judy, to the breathless amusement of his neighbours.
Mr. Bultitude might have hoped to escape notice by a policy of
judicious self-effacement, but unhappily his long, blank, uninterested
face was held by his companions to bear an implied reproach; and being
delicately sensitive on this point, they kicked his legs viciously,
which made him extremely glad when dinnertime came, although he felt
too faint and bilious to be tempted by anything but the lightest and
But at dinner he found, with a shudder, that he was expected to
swallow a thick ragged section of boiled mutton which had been carved
and helped so long before he sat down to it, that the stagnant gravy
was chilled and congealed into patches of greasy white. He managed to
swallow it with many pauses of invincible disgustonly to find it
replaced by a solid slab of pale brown suet pudding, sparsely bedewed
with unctuous black treacle.
This, though a plentiful, and by no means unwholesome fare for
growing boys, was not what he had been accustomed to, and feeling far
too heavy and unwell after it to venture upon an encounter with the
Doctor, he wandered slow and melancholy round the bare gravelled
playground during the half-hour after dinner devoted to the inevitable
chevy, until the Doctor appeared at the head of the staircase.
It is always sad for the historian to have to record a departure
from principle, and I have to confess with shame on Mr. Bultitude's
account that, feeling the Doctor's eye upon him, and striving to
propitiate him, he humiliated himself so far as to run about with an
elaborate affection of zest, and his exertions were rewarded by hearing
himself cordially encouraged to further efforts.
It cheered and emboldened him. I've put him in a good temper, he
told himself; if I can only keep him in one till the evening, I really
think I might be able to go up and tell him what a ridiculous mess I've
got into. Why should I care, after all? At least I've done nothing to
be ashamed of. It's an accident that might have happened to any man!
It is a curious and unpleasant thing that, however reassuring and
convincing the arguments may be with which we succeed in bracing
ourselves to meet or disregard unpleasantness, the force of those
arguments seldom or never outlasts the frame of mind in which they are
composed, and when the unpleasantness is at hand, there we are, just as
unreasonably alarmed at it as ever.
Mr. Bultitude's confidence faded away almost as soon as he found
himself in the schoolroom again. He found himself assigned to a class
at one end of the room, where Mr. Tinkler presently introduced a new
rule in Algebra to them, in such a manner as to procure for it a
lasting unpopularity with all those who were not too much engaged in
drawing duels and railway trains upon their slates to attend.
Although Paul did not draw upon his slate, his utter ignorance of
Algebra prevented him from being much edified by the cabalistic signs
on the blackboard, which Mr. Tinkler seemed to chalk up dubiously, and
rub out again as soon as possible, with an air of being ashamed of
them. So he tried to nerve himself for the coming ordeal by furtively
watching and studying the Doctor, who was taking a Xenophon class at
the upper end of the room, and, being in fairly good humour, was
combining instruction with amusement in a manner peculiarly his own.
He stopped the construing occasionally to illustrate some word or
passage by an anecdote; he condescended to enliven the translation here
and there by a familiar and colloquial paraphrase; he magnanimously
refrained from pressing any obviously inconvenient questions; and his
manner generally was marked by a geniality which was additionally
piquant from its extreme uncertainty.
Mr. Bultitude could not help thinking it a rather ghastly form of
gaiety, but he hoped it might last.
Presently, however, some one brought him a blue envelope on a tray.
He read it, and a frown gathered on his face. The boy who was
translating at the time went on again in his former slipshod manner
(which had hitherto provoked only jovial criticism and correction) with
complete self-complacency, but found himself sternly brought to book,
and burdened by a heavy imposition, before he quite realised that his
blunders had ceased to amuse.
Then began a season of sore trial and tribulation for the class. The
Doctor suddenly withdrew the light of his countenance from them, and
sunshine was succeeded by blackest thunderclouds. The wind was no
longer tempered to the more closely shorn of the flock; the weakest
vessels were put on unexpectedly at crucial passages, and, coming
hopelessly to grief, were denounced as impostors and idlers, till half
the class was dissolved in tears.
A few of the better grounded stood the fire, like a remnant of the
Old Guard. With faces pale from alarm, and trembling voices, but
perfect accuracy, they answered all the Doctor's searching inquiries
after the paradigms of Greek verbs that seemed irregular to the verge
Paul saw it all with renewed misgiving. If I were there, he
thought, I should have been run out and flogged long ago! How angry
those stupid young idiots are making him! How can I go up and speak to
him when he's like that? And yet I must. I'm sitting on dynamite as it
is. The very first time they want me to answer any questions from some
of their books, I shall be ruined! Why wasn't I better educated when I
was a boy, or why didn't I make a better use of my opportunities! It
will be a bitter thing if they thrash me for not knowing as much as
Dick. Grimstone's coming this way now; it's all over with me!
The Greek class had managed to repel the enemy, with some loss to
themselves, and the Doctor now left his place for a moment, and came
down towards the bench on which Paul sat trembling.
The storm, however, had passed over for the present, and he only
said with restored calmness, Who were the boys who learnt dancing last
One or two of them said they had done so, and Dr. Grimstone
continued: Mr. Burdekin was unable to give you the last lesson of his
course last term, and has arranged to take you to-day, as he will be in
the neighbourhood. So be off at once to Mrs. Grimstone and change your
shoes. Bultitude, you learnt last term, too. Go with the others.
Mr. Bultitude was too overcome by this unexpected attack to
contradict it, though of course he was quite able to do so; but then,
if he had, he must have explained all, and he felt strongly that just
then was neither the time nor the place for particulars.
It would have been wiser perhaps, it would certainly have brought
matters to a crisis, if he could have forced himself to tell
everythingthe whole truth in all its outrageous improbabilitybut he
Let those who feel inclined to blame him for lack of firmness
consider how difficult and delicate a business it must almost of
necessity be for anyone to declare openly, in the teeth of common sense
and plain facts, that there has been a mistake, and, in point of fact,
he is not his own son, but his own father.
I suppose I must go, he thought. I needn't dance. Haven't danced
since I was a young man. But I can't afford to offend him just now.
And so he followed the rest into a sort of cloak-room, where the
tall hats which the boys wore on Sundays were all kept on shelves in
white bandboxes; and there his hair was brushed, his feet were thrust
into very shiny patent leather shoes, and a pair of kid gloves was
given out to him to put on.
The dancing lesson was to be held in the Dining Hall, from which
the savour of mutton had not altogether departed. When Paul came in he
found the floor cleared and the tables and forms piled up on one side
of the room.
Biddlecomb and Tipping and some of the smaller boys were there
already, their gloves and shiny shoes giving them a feeling of ceremony
and constraint which they tried to carry off by an uncouth parody of
Siggers was telling stories of the dances he had been to in town,
and the fine girls whose step had exactly suited his own, and Tipping
was leaning gloomily against the wall listening to something Chawner
was whispering in his ear.
There was a rustle of dresses down the stairs outside, and two thin
little girls, looking excessively proper and prim, came in with an
elderly gentlewoman who was their governess and wore a pince-nez
to impart the necessary suggestion of a superior intellect. They were
the Miss Mutlows, sisters of one of the day-boarders, and attended the
course by special favour as friends of Dulcie's, who followed them in
with a little gleam of shy anticipation in her eyes.
The Miss Mutlows sat stiffly down on a form, one on each side of her
governess, and all three stared solemnly at the boys, who began to
blush vividly under the inspection, to unbutton and rebutton their
gloves with great care, and to shift from leg to leg in an embarrassed
Dulcie soon singled out poor Mr. Bultitude, who, mindful of
Tipping's warning, was doing his very best to avoid her.
She ran straight to him, laid her hand on his arm and looked into
his face pleadingly. Dick, she said, you're not sulky still, are
Mr. Bultitude had borne a good deal already, and, not being
remarkably sweet-natured, he shook the little hand away, half petulant
and half alarmed. I do wish you wouldn't do this sort of thing in
public. You'll compromise me, you know! he said nervously.
Dulcie opened her grey eyes wide, and then a flush came into her
cheeks, and she made a little disdainful upward movement of her chin.
You didn't mind it once, she said. I thought you might want to
dance with me. You liked to last term. But I'm sure I don't care if you
choose to be disagreeable. Go and dance with Mary Mutlow if you want
to, though you did say she danced like a pair of compasses, and I shall
tell her you said so, too. And you know you're not a good dancer
yourself. Are you going to dance with Mary?
Paul stamped. I tell you I never dance, he said. I can't dance
any more than a lamp-post. You don't seem an ill-natured little girl,
but why on earth can't you let me alone?
Dulcie's eyes flashed. You're a nasty sulky boy, she said in an
angry undertone (all the conversation had, of course, been carried on
in whispers). I'll never speak to you or look at you again. You're the
most horrid boy in the schooland the ugliest!
And she turned proudly away, though anyone who looked might have
seen the fire in her eyes extinguished as she did so. Perhaps Tipping
did see it, for he scowled at them from his corner.
There was another sound outside, as of fiddlestrings being twanged
by the finger, and, as the boys hastily formed up in two lines down the
centre of the room and the Miss Mutlows and Dulcie prepared themselves
for the curtsey of state, there came in a little fat man, with
mutton-chop whiskers and a white face, upon which was written an
unalterable conviction that his manner and deportment were perfection
The two rows of boys bent themselves stiffly from the back, and Mr.
Burdekin returned the compliment by an inclusive and stately
Good afternoon, madam. Young ladies, I trust I find you well. (The
curtsey just a leetle lower, Miss Mutlowthe right foot less drawn
back. Beautiful! Feet closer at the recovery. Perfect!) Young
gentlemen, good evening. Take your usual places, please, all of you,
for our preliminary exercises. Now, the chassée round the room.
Will you lead off, please, Dummer; the hands just lightly touching the
shoulders, the head thrown negligently back to balance the figure; the
whole deportment easy, but not careless. Now, please!
And, talking all the time with a metrical fluency, he scraped a
little jig on the violin, while Dummer led off a procession which
solemnly capered round the room in sundry stages of conscious
awkwardness. Mr. Bultitude shuffled along somehow after the rest, with
rebellion at his heart and a deep sense of degradation. If my clerks
were to see me now! he thought.
After some minutes of this, Mr. Burdekin stopped them and directed
sets to be formed for The Lancers.
Bultitude, said Mr. Burdekin, you will take Miss Mutlow, please.
Thank you, said Paul, butahI don't dance.
Nonsense, nonsense, sir, you are one of my most promising pupils.
You mustn't tell me that. Not another word! Come, select your
Paul had no option. He was paired off with the tall and rather
angular young lady mentioned, while Dulcie looked on pouting, and
snubbed Tipping, who humbly asked for the pleasure of dancing with her,
by declaring that she meant to dance with Tom.
The dance began to a sort of rhythmical accompaniment by Mr.
Burdekin, who intoned Tops advance, retire and cross. Balance at
corners. (Very nice, Miss Grimstone!) More 'abandon,' Chawner!
Lift the feet more from the floor. Not so high as that! Oh, dear me!
that last figure over again. And slide the feet, oh, slide the feet!
(Bultitude, you're leaving out all the steps!)
Paul was dragged, unwilling but unresisting, through it all by his
partner, who jerked and pushed him into his place without a word, being
apparently under strict orders from the governess not on any account to
speak to the boys.
After the dance the couples promenaded in a stiff but stately manner
round the room to a dirge-like march scraped upon the violin, the boys
taking the parts of ladies jibbing away from their partners in a highly
unlady-like fashion, and the boy burdened with the companionship of the
younger Miss Mutlow walking along in a very agony of bashfulness.
I suppose, thought Paul, as he led the way with Miss Mary Mutlow,
if Dick were ever to hear of this, he'd think it funny. Oh, if
I ever get the upper hand of him again. How much longer, I wonder,
shall I have to play the fool to this infernal fiddle!
But, if this was bad, worse was to come.
There was another pause, in which Mr. Burdekin said blandly, I
wonder now if we have forgotten our sailor's hornpipe. Perhaps
Bultitude will prove the contrary. If I remember right, he used to
perform it with singular correctness. And, let me tell you, there are a
great number of spurious hornpipe steps in circulation. Come, sir,
oblige me by dancing it alone!
This was the final straw. It was not to be supposed for one moment
that Mr. Bultitude would lower his dignity in such a preposterous
manner. Besides, he did not know how to dance the hornpipe.
So he said, I shall do nothing of the sort. I've had quite enough
That is a very impolite manner of declining, Bultitude; highly
discourteous and unpolished. I must insist nowreally, as a personal
matterupon your going through the sailor's hornpipe. Come, you won't
make a scene, I'm sure. You'll oblige me, as a gentleman?
I tell you I can't! said Mr. Bultitude sullenly. I never did such
a thing in my life; it would be enough to kill me at my age!
This is untrue, sir. Do you mean to say you will not dance the
No, said Paul, I'll be damned if I do!
There was unfortunately no possible doubt about the nature of the
word usedhe said it so very distinctly. The governess screamed and
called her charges to her. Dulcie hid her face, and some of the boys
Mr. Burdekin turned pink. After that disgraceful language, sir, in
the presence of the fairer sex, I have no more to do with you. You will
have the goodness to stand in the centre of that form. Gentlemen,
select your partners for the Highland schottische!
Mr. Bultitude, by no means sorry to be freed from the irksome
necessity of dancing with a heart ill-attuned for enjoyment, got up on
the form and stood looking, sullenly enough, upon the proceedings. The
governess glowered at him now and then as a monster of youthful
depravity; the Miss Mutlows glanced up at him as they tripped past,
with curiosity not unmixed with admiration, but Dulcie steadily avoided
looking in his direction.
Paul was just congratulating himself upon his escape when the door
opened wide, and the Doctor marched slowly and imposingly into the
He did this occasionally, partly to superintend matters, and partly
as an encouraging mark of approbation. He looked round the class at
first with benignant toleration, until his glance took in the bench
upon which Mr. Bultitude was set up. Then his eye slowly travelled up
to the level of Paul's head, his expression changing meanwhile to a
It was not, as Paul instinctively felt, exactly the position in
which a gentleman who wished to stand well with those in authority over
him would prefer to be found. He felt his heart turn to water within
him, and stared limp and helpless at the Doctor.
There was an awful silence (Dr. Grimstone was addicted to awful
silences; and, indeed, if seldom strictly golden, silence may often
be called iron"), but at last he inquired, And pray what may you be
doing up there, sir?
Upon my soul I can't say, said Mr. Bultitude feebly. Ask that
gentleman there with the fiddlehe knows.
Mr. Burdekin was a good-natured, easy-tempered little man, and had
already forgotten the affront to his dignity. He was anxious not to get
the boy into more trouble.
Bultitude was a little inattentive and, I may say, wanting in
respect, Dr. Grimstone, he said, putting it as mildly as he could with
any accuracy; so I ventured to place him there as a punishment.
Quite right, Mr. Burdekin, said the Doctor: quite right. I am
sorry that any boy of mine should have caused you to do so. You are
again beginning your career of disorder and rebellion, are you, sir? Go
up into the schoolroom at once, and write a dozen copies before
tea-time! A very little more eccentricity and insubordination from you,
Bultitude, and you will reap a full rewarda full reward, sir!
So Mr. Bultitude was driven out of the dancing class in dire
disgracewhich would not have distressed him particularly, being only
one more drop in his bitter cupbut that he recognised that now his
hopes of approaching the Doctor with his burden of woe were fallen like
a card castle. They were fiddled and danced away for at least
twenty-four hoursperhaps for ever!
Bitterly did he brood over this as he slowly and laboriously copied
out sundry vain repetitions of such axioms as, Cultivate Habits of
Courtesy and Self-control, and True Happiness is to be sought in
Contentment. He saw the prospect of a tolerably severe flogging
growing more and more distinct, and felt that he could not present
himself to his family with the consciousness of having suffered such an
indelible disgrace. His family! What would become of them in his
absence? Would he ever see his comfortable home in Bayswater again?
Tea-time came, and after it evening preparation, when Mr. Tinkler
presided in a feeble and ineffective manner, perpetually suspecting
that the faint sniggers he heard were indulged in at his own expense,
and calling perfectly innocent victims to account for them.
Paul sat next to Jolland and, in his desperate anxiety to avoid
further unpleasantness, found himself, as he could not for his life
have written a Latin or a German composition, reduced to copy down his
neighbour's exercises. This Jolland (who had looked forward to an
arrangement of a very opposite kind) nevertheless cheerfully allowed
him to do, though he expressed doubts as to the wisdom of a servile
imitationmore, perhaps, from prudence than conscientiousness.
Jolland, in the intervals of study, was deeply engaged in the
production of a small illustrated work of fiction, which he was pleased
to call The Adventures of Ben Buterkin at Scool. It was in a
great measure an autobiography, and the cuts depicting the hero's
flagellationswhich were frequent in the course of the narrativewere
executed with much vigour and feeling.
He turned out a great number of these works in the course of the
term, as well as faces in pen and ink with moving tongues and rolling
eyes, and these he would present to a few favoured friends with a
secretive and self-depreciatory giggle.
Amidst scenes and companions like these, Paul sat out the evening
hours on his hard seat, which was just at the junction of two formsan
exquisitely uncomfortable position, as all who have tried it will
acknowledgeuntil the time for going to bed came round again. He
dreaded the hours of darkness, but there was no help for itto protest
would have been madness just then, and, once more, he was forced to
pass a night under the roof of Crichton House.
It was even worse than the first, though this was greatly owing to
his own obstinacy.
The boys, if less subdued, were in better temper than the evening
before, and found it troublesome to keep up a feud when the first flush
of resentment had died out. There was a general disposition to forget
his departure from the code of schoolboy honour, and give him an
opportunity of retrieving the past.
But he would not meet them half-way; his repeated repulses by the
Doctor and all the difficulties that beset his return to freedom had
made him very sulky and snappish. He had not patience or adaptability
enough to respond to their advances, and only shrank from their rough
good naturewhich naturally checked the current of good feeling.
Then, when the lights were put out, some one demanded a story. Most
of the bedrooms possessed a professional story-teller, and in one there
was a young romancist who began a stirring history the very first night
of the term, which always ran on until the night before the holidays,
and, if his hearers were apt to yawn at the sixth week of it, he
himself enjoyed and believed in it keenly from beginning to end.
Dick Bultitude had been a valued raconteur, it appeared, and
his father found accordingly, to his disgust, that he was expected to
amuse them with a story. When he clearly understood the idea, he
rejected it with so savage a snarl, that he soon found it necessary to
retire under the bedclothes to escape the general indignation that
Finding that he did not actively resent it (the real Dick would have
had the occupant of the nearest bed out by the ears in a minute!), they
profited by his prudence to come to his bedside, where they pillowed
his weary head (with their own pillows) till the slight offered them
was more than avenged.
After that, Mr. Bultitude, with the breath half beaten out of his
body, lay writhing and spluttering on his hard, rough bed till long
after silence had fallen over the adjoining beds, and the sleepy hum of
talk in the other bedrooms had died away.
Then he, too, drifted off into wild and troubled dreams, which, at
their maddest, were scattered into blankness by a sudden and violent
shock, which jerked him, clutching and grasping at nothing, on to the
cold, bare boards, where he rolled, shivering.
An earthquake! he thought, an explosion ... gasor dynamite! He
must go and call the children ... Boaler ... the plate!
But the reality to which he woke was worse still. Tipping and Coker
had been patiently pinching themselves to keep awake until their enemy
should be soundly asleep, in order to enjoy the exquisite pleasure of
letting down the mattress; and, too dazed and frightened even to swear,
Paul gathered up his bedclothes and tried to draw them about him as
well as he might, and seek sleep, which had lost its security.
The Garudâ Stone had done one grim and cruel piece of work at least
in its time.
A Crowd is not Company; And Faces are but a Gallery of Pictures;
And Talke but a Tinckling Cymball, where there is no Love.
Once more Mr. Bultitude rose betimes, dressed noiselessly, and stole
down to the cold schoolroom, where one gas-jet was burning palelyfor
the morning was raw and foggy.
This time, however, he was not alone. Mr. Blinkhorn was sitting at
his little table in the corner, correcting exercises, with his chilly
hands cased in worsted mittens. He looked up as Paul came in, and
Paul went straight to the fire, and stood staring into it with
lack-lustre eye, too apathetic even to be hopeless, for the work of
enlightening the Doctor seemed more terrible and impossible than ever,
and he began to see that, if the only way of escape lay there, he had
better make up his mind with what philosophy he could to adapt himself
to his altered circumstances, and stay on for the rest of the term.
But the prospect was so doleful and so blank, that he drew a heavy
sigh as he thought of it. Mr. Blinkhorn heard it, and rose awkwardly
from the rickety little writing-table, knocking over a pile of
marble-covered copy-books as he did so.
Then he crossed over to Paul and laid a hand gently on his shoulder.
Look here, he said: why don't you confide in me? Do you think I'm
blind to what has happened to you? I can see the change in youif
others cannot. Why not trust me?
Mr. Bultitude looked up into his face, which had an honest interest
and kindliness in it, and his heart warmed with a faint hope. If this
young man had been shrewd enough to guess at his unhappy secret, might
he not be willing to intercede with the Doctor for him? He looked
good-naturedhe would trust him.
Do you mean to say really, he asked, with more cordiality than he
had spoken for a long time, that youseetheathe difference?
I saw it almost directly, said Mr. Blinkhorn, with mild triumph.
That's the most extraordinary thing, said Paul, and yet it ought
to be evident enough, to be sure. But no, you can't have guessed the
real state of things!
Listen, and stop me if I'm wrong. Within the last few days a great
change has been at work within you. You are not the idle, thoughtless,
mischievous boy who left here for his holidays
No, said Paul, I'll swear I'm not!
There is no occasion for such strong expressions. But, at all
events, you come back here an altogether different being. Am I right in
Perfectly, said Paul, overjoyed at being so thoroughly understood,
perfectly. You're a very intelligent young man, sir. Shake hands. Why,
I shouldn't be surprised, after that, if you knew how it all happened?
That too, said Mr. Blinkhorn smiling, I can guess. It arose, I
doubt not, in a wish?
Yes, cried Paul, you've hit it again. You're a conjurer, sir, by
Gad you are!
Don't say 'by Gad,' Bultitude; it's inconsistent. It began, I was
saying, in a wish, half unconscious perhaps, to be something other than
what you had been
I was a fool, groaned Mr. Bultitude, yes, that was the way it
Then insensibly the wish worked a gradual transformation in your
nature (you are old enough to follow me?).
Old enough for him to follow me! thought Paul; but he was
too pleased to be annoyed. Hardly gradual I should say, he said
aloud. But go on, sir, pray go on. I see you know all about it.
At first the other part of you struggled against the new feelings.
You strove to forget themyou even tried to resume your old habits,
your former way of lifebut to no purpose; and when you came here, you
found no fellowship amongst your companions
Quite out of the question! said Paul.
Their pleasures give you no delight
Not a bit!
They, on their side, perhaps misunderstand your lack of interest in
their pursuits. They cannot seehow should they?that you have
altered your mode of life, and when they catch the difference between
you and the Richard Bultitude they knew, why, they are apt to resent
They are, agreed Mr. Bultitude: they resent it in a confounded
disagreeable way, you know. Why, I assure you, that only last night I
Hush, said Mr. Blinkhorn, holding up one hand, complaints are
unmanly. But I see you wonder at my knowing all this?
Well, said Paul, I am rather surprised.
What would you say if I told you I had undergone it myself in my
You don't mean to tell me there are two Garudâ Stones in
this miserable world! cried Paul, thoroughly astonished.
I don't know what you mean now, but I can say with truth that I too
have had my experiencesmy trials. Months ago, from certain signs, I
noticed, I foresaw that this was coming upon you.
Then, said Mr. Bultitude, I think, in common decency, you might
have warned me. A post-card would have done it. I should have been
better prepared to meet this, then!
It would have been worse than fruitless to attempt to hurry on the
crisis. It might have even prevented what I fondly hoped would come to
Fondly hoped! said Paul, upon my word you speak plainly, sir.
Yes, said Mr. Blinkhorn. You see I knew the Dick Bultitude that
was, so well; he was frolicksome, impulsive, mischievous even, but
under it all there lay a nature of sterling worth.
Sterling worth! cried Paul. A scoundrel, I tell you, a heartless,
selfish young scoundrel. Call things by their right names, if you
No, no, said Mr. Blinkhorn, this extreme self-depreciation is
morbid, very morbid. There was no actual vice.
No actual vice! Why, God bless my soul, do you call
ingratitudethe basest, most unfilial, most treacherous
ingratitudeno vice, sir? You may be a very excellent young man, but
if you gloss over things in that fashion, your moral sense must be
perverted, sirstrangely perverted.
There were faults on both sides, I fear, said Mr. Blinkhorn,
growing a little scandalised by the boy's odd warmth of expression. I
have heard something of what you had to bear with. On the one hand, a
father, undemonstrative, stern, easily provoked; on the other, a son,
thoughtless, forgetful, and at times it may be even wilful. But you are
too sensitive; you think too much of what seems to me a not unnatural
(although of course improper) protest against coldness and injustice. I
should be the last to encourage a child against a parent, but, to
comfort your self-reproach, I think it right to assure you that, in my
judgment, the outburst you refer to was very excusable.
Oh, said Paul, you do? You call that comfort? Excusable! Why,
what the dooce do you mean, sir? You're taking the other side now!
This is not the language of penitence, Bultitude, said poor Mr.
Blinkhorn, disheartened and bewildered. Remember, you have put off the
Old Man now!
I'm not likely to forget that, said Paul; I only wish I
could see my way to putting him on again!
You want to be your old self again? gasped Mr. Blinkhorn.
Why, of course I do, said Paul angrily; I'm not an idiot!
You are weary of the struggle so soon? said the other with
Weary? I tell you I'm sick of it! If I had only known what was in
store for me before I had made such a fool of myself!
This is horrible! said Mr. BlinkhornI ought not to listen to
But you must, urged Paul; I tell you I can't stand it any longer.
I'm not fit for it at my age. You must see that yourself, and you must
make Grimstone see it too!
Never! said Mr. Blinkhorn firmly. Nor do I see how that would
help you. I will not let you go back in this deplorable way. You must
nerve yourself to go on now in the path you have chosen; you must force
your schoolfellows to love and respect you in your new character. Come,
take courage! After all, in spite of your altered life, there is no
reason why you should not be a frank and happy-hearted boy, you know.
A frank and happy-hearted fiddlestick! cried Paul rudely (he was
so disgusted at the suggestion); don't talk rubbish, sir! I thought
you were going to show me some way out of all this, and instead of
that, knowing the shameful way I've been treated, you can stand there
and calmly recommend me to stay on here and be happy-hearted and
You must be calm, Bultitude, or I shall leave you. Listen to
reason. You are here for your good. Youth, it has been beautifully
said, is the springtime of life. Though you may not believe it, you
will never be happier than you are now. Our schooldays are
But Mr. Bultitude could not tamely be mocked with the very
platitudes that had brought him all his miseryhe cut the master short
in a violent passion. This is too much! he criedyou shall not palm
off that miserable rubbish on me. I see through it. It's a plot to keep
me here, and you're in it. It's false imprisonment, and I'll write to
the Times. I'll expose the whole thing!
This violence is only ridiculous, said Mr. Blinkhorn. If I were
not too pained by it, I should feel it my duty to report your language
to the Doctor. As it is, you have bitterly disappointed me; I can't
understand it at all. You seemed so subdued, so softened lately. But
until you come to me and say you regret this, I must decline to have
anything more to say to you. Take your book and sit down in your
And he went back to his exercises, looking puzzled and pained. The
fact was, he was an ardent believer in the Good Boy of a certain order
of school talesthe boy who is seized with a sudden conviction of the
intrinsic baseness of boyhood, and does all in his power to get rid of
the harmful taint; the boy who renounces his old comrades and his
natural tastes (which after all seldom have any serious harm in them),
to don a panoply of priggishness which is too often kick-proof.
This kind of boy is rare enough at most English schools, but Mr.
Blinkhorn had been educated at a large Nonconformist College, where
Revivals and Awakenings were periodical, and undoubtedly did
produce changes of character violent enough, but sadly short in
He was always waiting for some such boy to come to him with his
confession of moral worthlessness and vows of unnatural perfection, and
was too simple and earnest and good himself to realise that such states
of the youthful mind are not unfrequently merely morbid and hysterical,
and too often degenerate into Pharisaism, or worse still, hypocrisy.
So when he noticed Mr. Bultitude's silence and depression, his
studied withdrawal from the others and his evident want of sympathy
with them, he believed he saw the symptoms of a conscience at work, and
that he had found his reformed boy at last.
It was a very unfortunate misunderstanding, for it separated Paul
from, perhaps, the only person who would have had the guilelessness to
believe his incredible story, and the good nature to help him to find
escape from his misfortunes.
Mr. Bultitude on his part was more angry and disgusted than ever. He
began to see that there was a muddle somewhere, and that his identity
was unsuspected still. This young man, for all his fair speaking and
pretended shrewdness, was no conjurer after all. He was left to rely on
his own resources, and he had begun to lose all confidence in their
power to extricate him.
As he brooded over this, the boys straggled down as before, and
looked over their lessons for the day in a dull, lifeless manner. The
cold, unsatisfying breakfast, and the half-hour assigned to chevy,
followed in due course, and after that Paul found himself set down with
a class to await the German master, Herr Stohwasser.
He had again tried to pull himself together and approach the Doctor
with his protest, but no sooner did he find himself near his presence
than his heart began to leap wildly and then retired down towards his
boots, leaving him hoarse, palpitating, and utterly blank of ideas.
It was no useand he resigned himself for yet another day of
The class was in a little room on the basement floor, with a
linen-press taking up one side, some bare white deal tables and forms,
and, on the walls, a few coloured German prints. They sat there talking
and laughing, taking no notice of Mr. Bultitude, until the German
master made his appearance.
He was by no means a formidable person, though stout and tall. He
wore big round owlish spectacles, and his pale broad face and long
nose, combined with a wild crop of light hair and a fierce beard, gave
him the incongruous appearance of a sheep looking out of a gun-port.
He took his place with an air of tremendous determination to enforce
a hard morning's work on the book they were readinga play of
Schiller's, of the plot of which, it is needless to say, no one of his
pupils had or cared to have the vaguest notion, having long since
condemned the whole subject, with insular prejudice, as rot.
Now, please, said Herr Stohwasser, where we left off last term.
Third act, first sceneCourt before Tell's house. Tell is vid the
carpenter axe, Hedwig vid a domestig labour occupied. Walter and
Wilhelm in the depth sport with a liddle gross-bow. Biddlegom, you
begin. Walter (sings).
But Biddlecomb was in a conversational mood, and willing to postpone
the task of translation, so he merely inquired, with an air of extreme
interest, how Herr Stohwasser's German Grammar was getting on.
This was a subject on which (as he perhaps knew) the German never
could resist enlarging, for in common with most German masters, he was
giving birth to a new Grammar, which, from the daring originality of
its plan, and its extreme simplicity, was destined to supersede all
other similar works.
Ach, he said, it is brogressing. I haf just gompleted a
gomprehensive table of ze irregular virps, vith ze eggserzizes upon
zem. And zere is further an appendeeks which in itself gontains a
goncise view of all ze vort-blays possible in the Charman tong. But,
come, let us gontinue vith our Tell!
What are vort-blays? persisted Biddlecomb insidiously, having no
idea of continuing with his Tell just yet.
A vort-blay, exclaimed Herr Stohwasser; it is English, nicht so?
A sporting vid vortsa 'galembour'aGott pless me, vat you call a
Like the one you made when you were a young man? Jolland called
out from the lower end of the table.
Yes; tell us the one you made when you were a young man, the class
entreated, with flattering eagerness.
Herr Stohwasser began to laugh with slow, deep satisfaction; the
satisfaction of a successful achievement. Hah, you remember dat! he
said, ah, yes, I make him when a yong man; but, mind you, he was not a
ponhe was a 'choke.' I haf told you all about him before.
We've forgotten it, said Biddlecomb: tell it us again.
As a matter of fact this joke, in all its lights, was tolerably
familiar to most of them by this time, but, either on its individual
merits, or perhaps because it compared favourably with the sterner
alternative of translating, it was periodically in request, and always
met with evergreen appreciation.
Herr Stohwasser beamed with the pride of authorship. Like the
celebrated Scotchman, he jocked wi' deeficulty, and the outcome of so
much labour was dear to him.
I zent him into ze Charman Kladderadatch (it is a paper like
your Ponch). Itmein chokewas upon ze Schleswig-Holstein
gomplication; ze beginning was in this way
And he proceeded to set out in great length all the circumstances
which had given materials for his choke, with the successive
processes by which he had shaped and perfected it, passing on to a
recital of the masterpiece itself, and ending up by a philosophical
analysis of the same, which must have placed his pupils in full
possession of the point, for they laughed consumedly.
I dell you zis, he said, not to aggustom your minds vid frivolity
and lightness, but as a lesson in ze gonstruction of ze langwitch. If
you can choke in Charman, you will be able also to gonverse in
Did the German what's-its-name print your joke? inquired Coggs.
It has not appeared yet, Herr Stohwasser confessed; it takes a
long time to get an imbortant choke like that out in brint. But I
vaitI write to ze editor every weekand I vait.
Why don't you put it in your Grammar? suggested Tipping.
I hafze greater part of it(it vas a long choke, but I
gompressed him). If I haf time, some day I will make anozer liddle
choke to aggompany, begause I vant my Crammar to be a goot Crammar, you
understandt. And now to our Tell. Really you beople do noding but
All this, of course, had no interest for Mr. Bultitude, but it left
him free to pursue his own thoughts in peace, and indeed this lesson
would never have been recorded here, but for two circumstances which
will presently appear, both of which had no small effect on his
He sat nearest the window, and looked out on the pinched and
drooping laurels in the enclosure, which were damp with frost melting
in the sunshine. Over the wall he could see the tops of passing
vehicles, the country carrier's cart, the railway parcels van, the fly
from the station. He envied even the drivers; their lot was happier
His thoughts were busy with Dick. Oddly enough, it had scarcely
occurred to him before to speculate on what he might be doing in his
absence; he had thought chiefly about himself. But now he gave his
attention to the subject, what new horrors it opened up! What might not
become of his well-conducted household under the rash rule of a foolish
schoolboy! The office, toowho could say what mischief Dick might not
be doing there, under the cover of his own respectable form?
Then it might seem good to him any day to smash the Garudâ Stone,
and after that there would be no hope of matters being ever set right
And yet, miserable coward and fool that he was, with everything
depending upon his losing no time to escape, he could not screw up his
courage, and say the words that were to set him free.
All at onceand this is one of the circumstances that make the
German lesson an important stage in this storyan idea suggested
itself to him quite dazzling by its daring and brilliancy.
Some may wonder, when they hear what it was, why he never thought of
it before, and it is somewhat surprising, but by no means without
precedent. Artemus Ward has told us somewhere of a ferocious bandit who
was confined for sixteen years in solitary captivity, before the notion
of escape ever occurred to him. When it did, he opened the window and
Perhaps a similar passiveness on Mr. Bultitude's part was due to a
very natural and proper desire to do everything without scandal, and in
a legitimate manner; to march out, as it were, with the honours of war.
Perhaps it was simple dullness. The fact remains that it was not till
then that he saw a way of recovering his lost position, without the
disagreeable necessity of disclosing his position to anyone at Crichton
He had stillthank Heaventhe five shillings he had given Dick. He
had not thrown them away with the other articles in his mad passion.
Five shillings was not much, but it was more than enough to pay for a
third-class fare to town. He had only to watch his opportunity, slip
away to the station, and be at home again, defying the usurper, before
anyone at Crichton House had discovered his absence.
He might go that very day, and the delight of this thoughtthe
complete reaction from blank despair to hopewas so intense that he
could not help rubbing his hands stealthily under the table, and
chuckling with glee at his own readiness of resource.
When we are most elated, however, there is always a counteracting
agent at hand to bring us down again to our proper level, or below it.
The Roman general in the triumph never really needed the slave in the
chariot to dash his spiritshe had his friends there already; the
guests at an Egyptian dinner must have brought their own skeletons.
There was a small flaxen-haired little boy sitting next to Mr.
Bultitude, seemingly a quite inoffensive being, who at this stage
served to sober him by furnishing another complication.
Oh, I say, Bultitude, he piped shrilly in Paul's ear, I forgot
all about it. Where's my rabbit?
The unreasonable absurdity of such a question annoyed him
excessively. Is this a time, he said reprovingly, to talk of
rabbits? Mind your book, sir.
Oh, I daresay, grumbled little Porter, the boy in question: it's
all very well, but I want my rabbit.
Hang it, sir, said Paul angrily, do you suppose I'm sitting on
You promised to bring me back a rabbit, persisted Porter doggedly;
you know you did, and it's a beastly shame. I mean to have that
rabbit, or know the reason why.
At the other end of the table Biddlecomb had again dexterously
allured Herr Stohwasser into the meshes of conversation; this time upon
the question (à propos de bottes) of street performances. I
vill tell you a gurious thing, he was saying, vat happened to me de
oder day ven I vas valking down de Strandt. I saw a leedle gommon dirty
boy with a tall round hat on him, and he stand in a side street right
out in de road, and he take off his tall round hat, and he put it on de
ground, and he stand still and look zo at it. So I shtop too, to see
vat he vould do next. And bresently he take out a large sheet of baper
and tear it in four pieces very garefully, and stick zem round de tall
round hat, and put it on his head again, and zen he set it down on de
grount and look at it vonce more, and all de time he never speak von
vort. And I look and look and vonder vat he would do next. And a great
growd of beoples com, and zey look and vonder too. And zen all at once
de leedle dirty boy he take out all de paper and put on de hat, and he
valk avay, laughing altogetter foolishly at zomzing I did not
understand at all. I haf been thinking efer since vat in the vorldt he
do all zat nonsence for. And zere is von ozer gurious thing I see in
your London streets zat very same day. Zere vas a poor house cat dat
had been by a cab overrun as I passed by, and von man vith a kind varm
heart valk up and stamp it on de head for to end its pain. And anozer
man vith anozer kind heart, he gom up directly and had not seen de cat
overrun, but he see de first man stamping and he knock him down for
ill-treating animals; it was quite gurious to see; till de policeman
arrest dem both for fighting. Goggs, degline 'Katze,' and gif me ze
berfect and bast barticiple of 'kampfen,' to fight. This last relapse
into duty was caused by the sudden entrance of the Doctor, who stood at
the door looking on for some time with a general air of being
intimately acquainted with Schiller as an author, before suggesting
graciously that it was time to dismiss the class.
Wednesday was a half-holiday at Crichton House, and so, soon after
dinner, Paul found himself marshalled with the rest in a procession
bound for the football field. They marched two and two, Chawner and
three of the other elder boys leading with the ball and four goal-posts
ornamented with coloured calico flags, and Mr. Blinkhorn and Mr.
Tinkler bringing up the rear.
Mr. Bultitude was paired with Tom Grimstone, who, after eyeing him
askance for some time, could control his curiosity no longer.
I say, Dick, he began, what's the matter with you this term?
My name is not Dick, said Paul stiffly.
Oh, if you're so particular then, said Tom: but, without humbug,
what is the matter?
You see a change then, said Paul, you do see a difference, eh?
Rather! said Tom expressively. You've come back what I call a
beastly sneak, you know, this term. The other fellows don't like it;
they'll send you to Coventry unless you take care.
I wish they would, said Paul.
You don't talk like the same fellow either, continued Tom; you
use such fine language, and you're always in a bait, and yet you don't
stick up for yourself as you used to. Look here, tell me (we were
always chums), is it one of your larks?
Larks! said Paul. I'm in a fine mood for larks. No, it's not one
of my larks.
Perhaps your old governor has been making a cad of himself then,
and you're out of sorts about it.
I'll thank you not to speak about him in that way, said Paul, in
Why, grumbled Tom, I'm sure you said enough about him yourself
last term. It's my belief you're imitating him now.
Ah, said Paul, and what makes you think that?
Why, you go about strutting and swelling just like he did when he
came about sending you here. I say, do you know what Mums said about
him after he went away?
No, said Paul, your mother struck me as a very, sensible and
agreeable womanif I may say so to her son.
Well, Mums said your governor seemed to leave you here just like
they leave umbrellas at picture galleries, and she believed he had a
large-sized money-bag inside him instead of a heart.
Oh! said Paul, with great disgust, for he had thought Mrs.
Grimstone a woman of better taste; your mother said that, did she?
Vastly entertaining to be sureha, ha! He would be pleased to know she
thought that, I'm sure.
Tell him, and see what he says, suggested Tom; he is an awful
brute to you though, isn't he?
If, growled Mr. Bultitude, slaving from morning till night to
provide education and luxury for a thankless brood of unprofitable
young vipers is 'being a brute,' I suppose he is.
Why, you're sticking up for him now! said Tom. I thought he was
so strict with you. Wouldn't let you have any fun at home, and never
took you to pantomimes?
And why should he, sir, why should he? Tell me that. Tell me why a
man is to be hunted out of his comfortable chair after a well-earned
dinner, to go and sit in a hot theatre and a thorough draught, yawning
at the miserable drivel managers choose to call a pantomime? Now in my
young days there were pantomimes. I tell you, sir, I've
Oh, if you're satisfied, I don't care! said Tom, astonished at
this apparent change of front. If you choose to come back and play the
corker like this, it's your look-out. Only, if you knew what Sproule
major said about you just now
I don't want to know, said Paul; it doesn't concern me.
Perhaps it doesn't concern you what pa thinks either? Dad told Mums
last night that he was altogether at a loss to know how to deal with
you, you had come back so queer and unruly. And he said, let me see,
oh, he said that 'if he didn't see an alteration very soon he should
resort to more drastic measures'drastic measures is Latin for a
Good gracious! thought Paul, I haven't a moment to lose! he might
'resort to drastic measures' this very evening. I can't change my
nature at my time of life. I must run for it, and soon.
Then he said aloud to Tom, Can you tell me, mymy young friend,
if, supposing a boy were to ask to leave the fieldsaying for instance
that he was not well and thought he should be better at homewhether
he would be allowed to go?
Of course he would, said Tom, you ought to know that by this
time. You've only to ask Blinkhorn or Tinkler; they'll let you go right
Paul saw his course quite clearly now, and was overcome with relief
and gratitude. He wrung the astonished Tom's hand warmly; Thank you,
he said, briskly and cheerfully, thank you. I'm really uncommonly
obliged to you. You're a very intelligent boy. I should like to give
But although Tom used no arguments to dissuade him, Mr. Bultitude
remembered his position in time, and prudently refrained from such
ill-judged generosity. Sixpences were of vital importance now, when he
expected to be starting so soon on his perilous journey.
And so they reached the field where the game was to be played, and
where Paul was resolved to have one desperate throw for liberty and
home. He was more excited than anxious as he thought of it, and it
certainly did seem as if all the chances were in his favour, and that
fortune must have forsaken him indeed, if anything were allowed to
prevent his escape.
I pray you, give me leave to go from hence,
I am not well;
Merchant of Venice.
He will not blush, that has a father's heart,
To take in childish plays a childish part;
But bends his sturdy back to any toy
That youth takes pleasure in,to please his boy.
The football field was a large one, bounded on two sides by tall
wooden palings, and on the other two by a hedge and a new shingled
road, separated from the field by a post and rails.
Two of the younger boys, proud of their office, raced down to the
further end to set up the goal-posts. The rest lounged idly about
without attempting to begin operations, except the new boy Kiffin, who
was seen walking apart from the rest, diligently studying the rules of
the game of football, as laid down in a small Boy's Own Pocket Book
and Manual of Outdoor Sports, with which he had been careful to
At last Tipping suggested that they had better begin, and proposed
that Mr. Blinkhorn and himself should toss up for the choice of sides,
and this being done, Mr. Bultitude presently, to his great dismay,
heard his name mentioned. I'll have young Bultitude, said Tipping;
he used to play up decently. Look here, you young beggar, you're on my
side, and if you don't play up it will be the worse for you!
It was not worth while, however, to protest, since he would so soon
be rid of the whole crew for ever, and so Paul followed Tipping and his
train with dutiful submission, and the game began.
It was not a spirited performance. Mr. Tinkler, who was not an
athlete, retired at once to the post and rails, on which he settled
himself to enjoy a railway novel with a highly stimulating cover. Mr.
Blinkhorn, who had more conscientious views of his office, charged
about vigorously, performing all kinds of wonders with the ball, though
evidently more from a sense of duty than with any idea of enjoyment.
Tipping occasionally took the trouble to oppose him, but as a
concession merely, and with a parade of being under no necessity to do
so; and these two, with a very small following of enthusiasts on either
side, waged a private and confidential kind of warfare in different
parts of the field, while the others made no pretence of playing for
the present, but strolled about in knots, exchanging and bartering the
treasures valuable in the sight of schoolboys, and gossiping generally.
As for Paul, he did not clearly understand what playing up might
mean. He had not indulged in football since he was a genuine boy, and
then only in a rudimentary and primitive form, and without any
particular fondness for the exercise. But being now, in spirit at all
events, a precise elderly person, with a decided notion of taking care
of himself, he was resolved that not even Tipping should compel him to
trust his person within range of that dirty brown globe, which whistled
past his ear or seemed spinning towards his stomach with such a hideous
suggestion of a cannon-ball about it.
All the ghastly instances, too, of accidents to life and limb in the
football field came unpleasantly into his memory, and he saw the
inadvisability of mingling with the crowd and allowing himself to be
kicked violently on the shins.
So he trotted industriously about at a safe distance in order to
allay suspicion, while waiting for a good opportunity to put his scheme
of escape into execution.
At last he could wait no longer, for the fearful thought occurred to
him, that if he remained there much longer, the Doctorwho, as he knew
from Dick, always came to superintend, if not to share the sports of
his pupilsmight make his appearance, and then his chance would be
lost for the present, for he knew too well that he should never find
courage to ask permission from him.
With a beating heart he went up to Mr. Tinkler, who was still on the
fence with his novel, and asked as humbly as he could bring himself to
If you please, sir, will you allow me to go home? I'mI'm not
feeling at all well.
Not well! What's the matter with you? said Mr. Tinkler, without
Paul had not prepared himself for details, and the sudden question
rather threw him off his guard.
A slight touch of liver, he said at length. It takes me after
Liver! said Mr. Tinkler, you've no right to such a thing at your
age; it's all nonsense, you know. Run in and play, that'll set you up
It's fatal, sir, said Paul. My doctor expressly warned me against
taking any violent exercise soon after luncheon. If you knew what liver
is, you wouldn't say so!
Mr. Tinkler stared, as well he might, but making nothing of it, and
being chiefly anxious not to be interrupted any longer, only said, Oh,
well, don't bother me; I daresay it's all right. Cut along!
So Mr. Bultitude was free; the path lay open to him now. He knew he
would have little difficulty in finding his way to the station, and,
once there, he would have the whole afternoon in which to wait for a
train to town.
I've managed that excellently, he thought, as he ran blithely off,
almost like the boy he seemed. Not the slightest hitch. I defy the
fates themselves to stop me now!
But the fates are ladies, andnot of course that it
followsoccasionally spiteful. It is very rash indeed to be ungallant
enough to defy themthey have such an unpleasant habit of accepting
Mr. Bultitude had hardly got clear of the groups scattered about the
field, when he met a small flaxen-haired boy, who was just coming down
to join the game. It was Porter, his neighbour of the German lesson.
There you are, Bultitude, then, he said in his squeaky voice: I
I can't stop, said Paul, I'm in a hurryanother time.
Another time won't do, said little Porter, laying hold of him by
his jacket. I want that rabbit.
This outrageous demand took Mr. Bultitude's breath away. He had no
idea what rabbit was referred to, or why he should be required to
produce such an animal at a moment's notice. This was the second time
an inconvenient small boy had interfered between him and liberty. He
would not be baffled twice. He tried to shake off his persecutor.
I tell you, my good boy, I haven't such a thing about me. I haven't
indeed. I don't even know what you're talking about.
This denial enraged Porter.
I say, you fellows, he called out, come here! Do make Bultitude
give me my rabbit. He says he doesn't know anything about it now!
At this several of the loungers came up, glad of a distraction.
What's the matter? some of them asked.
Why, whined Porter, he promised to bring me back a rabbit this
term, and now he pretends he does not know anything about it. Make him
say what he's done with it!
Mr. Bultitude was not usually ready of resource, but now he had what
seemed a happy thought.
Gad! he cried, pretending to recollect it, so I didto be sure,
a rabbit, of course, how could I forget it? It'sit's a splendid
rabbit. I'll go and fetch it!
Will you? cried Porter, half relieved. Where is it, then?
Where? said Paul sharply (he was growing positively brilliant).
Why, in my playbox to be sure; where should it be?
It isn't in your playbox, I know, put in Siggers: because I saw
it turned out yesterday and there was no rabbit then. Besides, how
could a rabbit live in a playbox? He's telling lies. I can see it by
his face. He hasn't any rabbit!
Of course I haven't! said Mr. Bultitude. How should I? I'm not a
conjurer. It's not a habit of mine to go about with rabbits concealed
on my person. What's the use of coming to me like this? It's absurd,
you know; perfectly absurd!
The crowd increased until there was quite a ring formed round Mr.
Bultitude and the indignant claimant, and presently Tipping came
What's the row here, you fellows? he said. Bultitude again, of
course. What's he been doing now?
He had a rabbit he said he was keeping for me, explained little
Porter: and now he won't give it up or tell me what he's done with
He has some mice he ought to give us, too, said one or two
new-comers, edging their way to the front.
Mr. Bultitude was of course exceedingly annoyed by this unlooked-for
interruption, and still more by such utterly preposterous claims on him
for animals; however, it was easy to explain that he had no such things
in his possession, and after that of course no more could be said. He
was beginning to disclaim all liability, when Siggers stopped him.
Keep that for the present, he said. I say, we ought to have a
regular trial over this, and get at the truth of it properly. Let's
fetch him along to the goal-posts and judge him!
He fixed upon the goal-posts as being somehow more formal, and, as
his proposal was well received, two of them grasped Mr. Bultitude by
the collar and dragged him along in procession to the appointed spot
between the two flags, while Siggers followed in what he conceived to
be a highly judicial manner, and evidently enjoying himself
Paul, though highly indignant, allowed himself to be led along
without resistance. It was safest to humour them, for after all it
would not last long, and when they were tired of baiting him he could
watch his time and slip quietly away.
When they reached the goal-posts Siggers arranged them in a circle,
placing himself, the hapless Paul, and his accusers in the centre. You
chaps had better all be jurymen, he said. I'll be judge, and unless
he makes a clean breast of it, he added with judicial impartiality,
the court will jolly well punch his ugly young head off.
Siggers' father was an Old Bailey barrister in good and rather sharp
practice, so that it was clearly the son's mission to preside on this
occasion. But unfortunately his hour of office was doomed to be a brief
one, for Mr. Blinkhorn, becoming aware that the game was being still
more scantily supported, and noticing the crowd at the goal, came up to
know the reason of it at a long camel-like trot, his hat on the back of
his head, his mild face flushed with exertion, and his pebble glasses
gleaming in the winter sunshine.
What are you all doing here? Why don't you join the game? I've come
here to play football with you, and how can I do it if you all slink
off and leave me to play by myself? he asked with pathos.
Please, sir, said Siggers, alarmed at the threatened loss of his
dignity, it's a trial, and I'm judge.
Yes, sir, the whole ring shouted together. We're trying
On the whole, perhaps, Mr. Bultitude was glad of this interference.
At least justice would be done now, although this usher had blundered
so unpardonably that morning.
This is childish, you know, said Mr. Blinkhorn, and it's not
football. The Doctor will be seriously angry if he comes and sees you
trifling here. Let the boy go.
But he's cheated some of the fellows, sir, grumbled Tipping and
Well, you've no right to punish him if he has. Leave him to
Will you see fair play between them, sir? He oughtn't to be let off
without being made to keep his word.
If there is any dispute between you and Bultitude, said Mr.
Blinkhorn, I have no objection to settle itprovided it is within my
Settle it without me, said Paul hurriedly. I've leave to go home.
Who gave you leave to go home? asked the master.
That young man over there on the rails, said Paul.
I am the proper person to apply to for leave; you know that well
enough, said Mr. Blinkhorn, with a certain coldness in his tone. Now
then, Porter, what is all this business about?
Please, sir, said Porter, he told me last term he had a lot of
rabbits at home, and if I liked he would bring me back a lop-eared one
and let me have it cheap, and I gave him two shillings, sir, and
sixpence for a hutch to keep it in; and now he pretends he doesn't know
anything about it!
To Paul's horror two or three other boys came forward with much the
same tale. He remembered now that during the holidays he had discovered
that Dick was maintaining a sort of amateur menagerie in his bedroom,
and that he had ordered the whole of the livestock to be got rid of or
Now it seemed that the wretched Dick had already disposed of it to
these clamorous boys, and, what was worse, had stipulated with
considerable forethought for payment in advance. For the first time he
repented his paternal harshness. Like the netted lion, a paltry white
mouse or two would have set him free; but, less happy than the beast in
the fable, he had not one!
He tried to stammer out excuses. It's extremely unfortunate, he
said, but the fact is I'm not in a position to meet thisthis sudden
call upon me. Some other day, perhaps
None of your long words, now, growled Tipping. (Boys hate long
words as much as even a Saturday Reviewer.) Why haven't you brought
Yes, said Mr. Blinkhorn. Why, having promised to bring the
rabbits with you, haven't you kept your word? You must be able to give
Because, said Mr. Bultitude, wriggling with embarrassment,
Ithat is my fatherfound out that my young rascal of a sonI mean
his young rascal of a son (me, you know) was, contrary to my
express orders, keeping a couple of abominable rabbits in his bedroom,
and a quantity of filthy little white mice which he tried to train to
climb up the banisters. And I kept finding the brutes running about my
bath-room, andwell, of course, I put a stop to it; andno, what am I
saying?my father, of course, he put a stop to it; and, in point of
fact, had them all drowned in a pail of water.
It might be thought that he had an excellent opportunity here of
avowing himself, but there was the risk that Mr. Blinkhorn would
disbelieve him, and, with the boys, he felt that the truth would do
anything but increase his popularity. But dissembling fails sometimes
outside the copy-books, and Mr. Bultitude's rather blundering attempt
at it only landed him in worse difficulties.
There was a yell of rage and disappointment from the defrauded ones,
who had cherished a lingering hope that young Bultitude had those
rabbits somewhere, but (like Mr. Barkis and his wooden lemon) found
himself unable to part with them when the time came to fulfil his
contract. And as contempt is a frame of mind highly stimulating to
one's self-esteem, even those who had no personal interest in the
matter joined in the execrations with hearty goodwill and sympathy.
Why did you let him do it? They were ours, not his. What right had
your governor to go and drown our rabbits, eh? they cried wrathfully.
What right? said Paul. Mustn't a man do as he pleases in his own
house, then? Ihe was not obliged to see the house overrun with
vermin, I suppose?
But this only made them angrier, and they resented his defence with
hoots, and groans, and hisses.
Mr. Blinkhorn meanwhile was pondering the affair conscientiously. At
last he said, But you know the Doctor would never allow animals to be
kept in the school, if Bultitude had brought them. The whole thing is
against the rules, and I shall not interfere.
Ah, but, said Chawner, he promised them all to day-boarders. The
Doctor couldn't object to that, could he, sir?
True, said Mr. Blinkhorn, true. I was not aware of that. Well
then, Bultitude, since you are prevented from performing what you
promised to do, I'm sure you won't object to do what is fair and right
in the matter?
I don't think I quite follow you, said Mr. Bultitude. But he
dreaded what was coming next.
It's very simple. You have taken money from these boys, and if you
can't give them value for it, you ought to return all you took from
them. I'm sure you see that yourself.
I don't admit that I owe them anything, said Paul; and at all
events it is highly inconvenient to pay them now.
If your own sense of honour isn't enough, said Mr. Blinkhorn, I
must take the matter into my own hands. Let every boy who has any claim
upon him tell me exactly what it is.
One boy after another brought forward his claim. One had entrusted
Dick, it appeared, with a shilling, for which he was to receive a mouse
with a plum saddle, and two others had invested ninepence each in
white mice. With Porter's half-crown, the total came to precisely five
shillingsall Paul had in the world, the one rope by which he could
ever hope to haul himself up to his lost pinnacle!
Mr. Blinkhorn, naturally enough, saw no reason why the money, being
clearly due, should not be paid at once. Give me any money you have
about you, Bultitude, he said, and I'll satisfy your debts with it,
as far as it goes.
Paul clasped his arm convulsively. No! he cried hoarsely, not
that! Don't make me do that! II can't pay themnot now. They don't
understand. If they only give me time they shall have double their
money backwaggon-loads of rabbits, the best rabbits money can buyif
they'll wait. Tell them to wait. My dear sir, don't see me wronged! I
won't pay now!
They have waited long enough, said Mr. Blinkhorn; you must pay
I tell you I won't! cried Paul; do you hear? Not one sixpence.
Oh, if you knew! That infernal Garudâ Stone! What fools people are!
Then in his despair he did the most fatal thing possible. He tried
to save himself by flight, and with a violent plunge broke through the
circle and made for the road which led towards the station.
Instantly the whole school, only too glad of the excitement, was at
his heels. The unhappy Colonial Produce merchant ran as he had not run
for a quarter of a century, faster even than he had on his first
experience of Coggs' and Coker's society on that memorable Monday
night. But in spite of his efforts the chase was a short one. Chawner
and Tipping very soon had him by the collar, and brought him back,
struggling and kicking out viciously, to Mr. Blinkhorn, whose good
opinion he had now lost for ever.
Please, sir, said Chawner, I can feel something like a purse in
his pocket. Shall I take it out, sir?
As he refuses to act with common honestyyes, said Mr. Blinkhorn.
It was Dick's purse, of course; and in spite of Paul's frantic
efforts to retain it, it was taken from him, its contents equitably
divided amongst the claimants, and the purse itself returned to
Now, Bultitude, said Mr. Blinkhorn, if you really wish to leave
the field, you may.
Mr. Bultitude lost what little temper he had yet to lose; he flung
the useless purse from him and broke away from them all in a condition
little removed from insanity.
Leave the field! What a mockery the permission was now. How was he
to get home, a distance of more than fifty miles, without a penny in
his pocket? Ten minutes before, and freedom was within his grasp, and
now it had eluded him and was as hopelessly out of reach as ever!
No one pitied him; no one understood the real extent of his loss.
Mr. Blinkhorn and the few enthusiasts went back to their unobtrusive
game, while the rest of the school discussed the affair in groups, the
popular indignation against young Bultitude's hitherto unsuspected
meanness growing more marked every instant.
It might have even taken some decided and objectionable form before
long, but when it was at its height there was a sudden cry of alarm.
Cave, you fellows, here's Grim! and indeed in the far distance the
Doctor's portly and imposing figure could be seen just turning the
corner into the field.
Mr. Bultitude felt almost cheered. This coming to join his pupils'
sports showed a good heart; the Doctor would almost certainly be in a
good humour, and he cheated himself into believing that, at some
interval in the game, he might perhaps find courage to draw near and
seek to interest him in his incredible woes.
It was quite extraordinary to see how the game, which had hitherto
decidedly languished and hung fire, now quickened into briskness and
became positively spirited. Everyone developed a hearty interest in it,
and it would almost seem as if the boys, with more delicacy than they
are generally credited with, were unwilling to let their master guess
how little his indulgence was really appreciated. Even Mr. Tinkler,
whose novel had kept him spell-bound on his rail all through the recent
excitement, now slipped it hurriedly into his pocket and rushed
energetically into the fray, shouting encouragement rather
indiscriminately to either side, till he had an opportunity of finding
out privately to which leader he had been assigned.
Dr. Grimstone came down the field at a majestic slow trot, calling
out to the players as he came onWell done, Mutlow! Finely played,
sir! Dribble it along now. Ah, you're afraid of it! Run into it, sir,
run into it! No running with the ball now, Siggers; play without those
petty meannesses, or leave the game! There, leave the ball to me, will
youleave it to me!
And, as the ball had rolled in his direction, he punted it up in an
exceedingly dignified manner, the whole school keeping respectfully
apart, until he had brought it to a reasonable distance from the goal,
when he kicked it through with great solemnity, amidst faint, and it is
to be feared somewhat sycophantic applause, and turned away with the
air of a man surfeited of success.
For which side did I win that? he asked presently, whereupon
Tipping explained that his side had been the favoured one. Well then,
he said, you fellows must all back me up, or I shall not play for you
any more; and he kicked off the ball for the next game.
It was noticeable that the party thus distinguished did not seem
precisely overwhelmed with pleasure at the compliment, which, as they
knew from experience, implied considerable exertion on their part, and
even disgrace if they were unsuccessful.
The other side too looked unhappy, feeling themselves in a position
of extreme delicacy and embarrassment. For if they played their best,
they ran some risk of offending the Doctor, or, what was worse, drawing
him over into their ranks; while if, on the other hand, they allowed
themselves to be too easily worsted, they might be suspected of
sulkiness and temperoffences which he was very ready to discover and
Dr. Grimstone for his part enjoyed the exercise, and had no idea
that he was not a thoroughly welcome and valued playmate. But though it
was pleasant to outsiders to see a schoolmaster permitting himself to
share in the recreation of his pupils, it must be owned that to the
latter the advantages of the arrangement seemed something more than
Mr. Bultitude, being on the side adopted by the Doctor, found too
soon that he was expected to bestir himself. More than ever anxious now
to conciliate, he did his very best to conquer his natural repugnance
and appear more interested than alarmed as the ball came in his way;
but although (in boating slang) he sugared with some adroitness, he
was promptly found out, for his son had been a dashing and plucky
It was bitter for him to run meekly about while scathing sarcasms
and comments on his want of courage were being hurled at his head. It
shattered the scanty remnants of his self-respect, but he dared not
protest or say a single word to open the Doctor's eyes to the injustice
he was doing him.
He was unpleasantly reminded, too, of the disfavour he had acquired
amongst his companions, by some one or other of them running up to him
every moment when the Doctor's attention was called elsewhere, and
startling his nerves by a sly jog or pinch, or an abusive epithet
hissed viciously into his earsChawner being especially industrious in
And in this unsatisfactory way the afternoon dragged along until the
dusk gathered and the lamps were lighted, and it became too dark to see
goal-posts or ball.
By the time play was stopped and the school reformed for the march
home, Mr. Bultitude felt that he was glad even to get back to labour as
a relief from such a form of enjoyment. It was perhaps the most
miserable afternoon he had ever spent in his whole easy-going life. In
the course of it he had passed from brightest hope to utter despair;
and now nothing remained to him but to convince the Doctor, which he
felt quite unequal to do, or to make his escape without moneywhich
would inevitably end in a recapture.
May no one who reads this ever be placed upon the horns of such a
Here are a few of the unpleasantest words
That ever blotted paper....
And every word in it a gaping wound.
Merchant of Venice.
If it were not that it was so absolutely essential to the interest
of this story, I think I should almost prefer to draw a veil over the
sufferings of Mr. Bultitude during the rest of that unhappy week at
Crichton House; but it would only be false delicacy to do so.
Things went worse and worse with him. The real Dick in his most
objectionable moods could never have contrived to render himself one
quarter so disliked and suspected as his substitute was by the whole
schoolmasters and boys.
It was in a great measure his own fault, too; for to an ordinary boy
the life there would not have had any intolerable hardships, if it held
out no exceptional attractions. But he would not accommodate himself to
circumstances, and try, during his enforced stay, to get as much
instruction and enjoyment as possible out of his new life.
Perhaps, in his position, it would be too much to expect such a
thing and, at all events, it never even occurred to him to attempt it.
He consumed himself instead with inward raging and chafing at his hard
lot, and his utter powerlessness to break the spell which bound him.
Sometimes, indeed, he would resolve to bear it no longer, and would
start up impulsively to impart his misfortunes to some one in minor
authoritynot the Doctor, he had given that up in resigned despair
long since. But as surely as ever he found himself coming to the point,
the words would stick fast in his throat, and he was only too thankful
to get away, with his tale untold, on any frivolous pretext that first
This, of course, brought him into suspicion, for such conduct had
the appearance of a systematic course of practical joking, and even the
most impartial teachers will sometimes form an unfavourable opinion of
a particular boy on rather slender grounds, and then find fresh
confirmation of it in his most insignificant actions.
As for the school generally, his scowls and his sullenness, his
deficiency in the daring and impudence that had warmed their hearts
towards Dick, and, above all, his strange knack of getting them into
troublefor he seldom received what he considered an indignity without
making a formal complaintall this brought him as much hearty dislike
and contempt as, perhaps, the most unsympathetic boy ever earned since
boarding-schools were first invented.
The only boy who still seemed to retain a secret tenderness for him,
as the Dick he had once looked up to and admired, was Jolland, who
persisted in believing, and in stating his belief, that this apparent
change of demeanour was a perverted kind of joke on Bultitude's part,
which he would condescend to explain some day when it had gone far
enough, and he wearied and annoyed Paul beyond endurance by perpetually
urging him to abandon his ill-judged experiment and discover the point
of the jest.
But for Jolland's help, which he persevered in giving in spite of
the opposition and unpopularity it brought upon himself, Mr. Bultitude
would have found it impossible to make any pretence of performing the
tasks required of him.
He found himself expected, as a matter of course, to have a certain
familiarity with Greek paradigms and German conversation scraps,
propositions in Euclid and Latin gerunds, of all of which, having had a
strict commercial education in his young days, he had not so much as
heard before his metamorphosis. But by carefully copying Jolland's
exercises, and introducing enough mistakes of his own to supply the
necessary local colour, he was able to escape to a great degree the
discovery of his blank ignorance on all these subjectsan ignorance
which would certainly have been put down as mere idleness and
But it will be readily believed that he lived in constant fear of
such discovery, and as it was, his dependence on a little scamp like
his son's friend was a sore humiliation to one who had naturally
supposed hitherto that any knowledge he had not happened to acquire
could only be meretricious and useless.
He led a nightmare sort of existence for some days, until something
happened which roused him from his state of passive misery into one
more attempt at protest.
It was Saturday morning, and he had come down to breakfast, after
being knocked about as usual in the dormitory over night, with a dull
wonder how long this horrible state of things could possibly be going
to last, when he saw on his plate a letter with the Paddington
post-mark, addressed in a familiar handhis daughter Barbara's.
For an instant his hopes rose high. Surely the impostor had been
found out at last, and the envelope would contain an urgent invitation
to him to come back and resume his rightsan invitation which he might
show to the Doctor as his best apology.
But when he looked at the address, which was Master Richard
Bultitude, he felt a misgiving. It was unlikely that Barbara would
address him thus if she knew the truth; he hesitated before tearing it
Then he tried to persuade himself that of course she would have the
sense to keep up appearances for his own sake on the outside of the
letter, and he compelled himself to open the envelope with fingers that
The very first sentences scattered his faint expectations to the
winds. He read on with staring eyes, till the room seemed to rock with
him like a packet-boat and the sprawling school-girl handwriting,
crossed and recrossed on the thin paper, changed to letters of
scorching flame. But perhaps it will be better to give the letter in
full, so that the reader may judge for himself whether it was
calculated or not to soothe and encourage the exiled one.
Here it is:
MY DEAREST DARLING DICK,I hope you have not been expecting a
letter from me before this, but I had such lots to tell you
waited till I had time to tell it all at once. For I have such
for you! You can't think how pleased you will be when you hear
Where shall I begin? I hardly know, for it still seems so
strangealmost like a dreamonly I hope we shall never wake
I think I must tell you anyhow, just as it comes. Well, ever
you went away, dear Father has been completely changed; you
hardly believe it unless you saw him. He is quite jolly and
boyishonly fancy! and we are always telling him he is the
baby of us all, but it only makes him laugh. Once, you know,
would have been awfully angry if we had even hinted at it.
Do you know, I really think that the real reason he was so
and sharp with us that last week was because you were going
for now the wrench of parting is over, he is quite
again. You know how he always hates showing his feelings.
He is so altered now, you can't think. He has actually only
been up to the city since you left, and then he came home at
o'clock, and he seems to quite like to have us all about him.
Generally he stays at home all the morning and plays at
with baby in the dining-room. You would laugh to see him
the cannons with real powder and shot, and he didn't care a
when some of it made holes in the sideboard and smashed the
We had such fun the other afternoon; we played at
and all of us. Papa had the upper conservatory for a
and stood there keeping guard with your pop-gun; and he
let the servants go by without a kiss, unless they showed a
pass from us! Miss McFadden called in the middle of it, but
said she wouldn't come in, as papa seemed to be enjoying
so. Boaler has given warning, but we can't think why. We have
out nearly every eveningonce to Hengler's and once to the
Minstrels, and last night to the Pantomime, where papa was so
pleased with the clown that he sent round afterwards and asked
to dine here on Sunday, when Sir Benjamin and Lady Bangle and
Alderman Fishwick are coming. Won't it be jolly to see a clown
close to? Should you think he'd come in his evening
Mangnall has been given a month's holiday, because papa didn't
to see us always at lessons. Think of that!
We are going to have the whole house done up and refurnished
last. Papa chose the furniture for the drawing-room yesterday.
is all in yellow satin, which is rather bright, I think. I
seen the carpet yet, but it is to match the furniture; and
a lovely hearthrug, with a lion-hunt worked on it.
But that isn't the best of it; we are going to have the big
children's party after all! No one but children invited, and
everyone to do exactly what they like. I wanted so much to
home for it, but papa says it would only unsettle you and take
away from your work.
Had Dulcie forgotten you? I should like to see her so much.
really must leave off, as I am going to the Aquarium with
Mind you write me as good a letter as this is, if that old
lets you. Minnie and Roly send love and kisses, and papa sends
kind regards, and I am to say he hopes you are settling down
steadily to work.
With best love, your affectionate sister,
P.S.I nearly forgot to say that Uncle Duke came the other
and has stayed here ever since. He is going to make papa's
I believe by a gold mine he knows about somewhere, and a steam
tramway in Lapland. But I don't like him very muchhe is so
It would be nothing short of an insult to the reader's
comprehension, if I were to enter into an elaborate explanation of the
effect this letter had upon Mr. Bultitude. He took it in by degrees,
trying to steady his nerves at each additional item of poor Barbara's
well-meant intelligence by a sip at his tin-flavoured coffee. But when
he came to the postscript, in spite of its purport being mercifully
broken to him gradually by the extreme difficulty of making it out from
two undercurrents of manuscript, he choked convulsively and spilt his
Dr. Grimstone visited this breach of etiquette with stern
promptness. This conduct at table is disgraceful, sirperfectly
disgracefulunworthy of a civilised being. I have been a teacher of
youth for many years, and never till now did I have the pain of seeing
a pupil of mine choke in his breakfast-cup with such deplorable
ill-breeding. It's pure greediness, sir, and you will have the goodness
to curb your indecent haste in consuming your food for the future. Your
excellent father has frequently complained to me, with tears in his
eyes, of the impossibility of teaching you to behave at meals with
There was a faint chuckle along the tables, and several drank coffee
with studied elegance and self-repression either as a valuable example
to Dick, or as a personal advertisement. But Paul was in no mood for
reproof and instruction. He stood up in his excitement, flourishing his
Dr. Grimstone! he said; never mind my behaviour now. I've
something to tell you. I can't bear it any longer. I must go home at
onceat once, sir!
There was a general sensation at this, for his manner was peremptory
and almost dictatorial. Some thought he would get a licking on the
strength of it, and most hoped so. But the Doctor dismissed them to the
playground, keeping Paul back to be dealt with in privacy.
Mrs. Grimstone played nervously with her dry toast at the end of the
table, for she could not endure to see the boys in trouble and dreaded
a scene, while Dulcie looked on with wide bright eyes.
Now, sir, said the Doctor, looking up from his marmalade, why
must you go home at once?
I've just had a letter, stammered Paul.
No one ill at home, I hope?
No, no, said Paul. It's not that; it's worse! She doesn't know
what horrible things she tells me!
Who is 'she'? said the Doctorand Dulcie's eyes were larger still
and her face paled.
I decline to say, said Mr. Bultitude. It would have been absurd to
say 'my daughter,' and he had not presence of mind just then to
transpose the relationships with neatness and success. But indeed I am
wanted most badly!
What are you wanted for, pray?
Everything! declared Paul; it's all going to rack and ruin
That's absurd, said the Doctor; you're not such an important
individual as all that, Bultitude. But let me see the letter.
Show him the letterlay bare all those follies of Dick's, the
burden of which he might have to bear himself very shortlynever!
Besides, what would be the use of it? It would be no argument in favour
of sending him homerather the reverseso Paul was obliged to say,
Excuse me, Dr. Grimstone, it isahof a private nature. I don't feel
at liberty to show it to anyone.
Then, sir, said the Doctor, with some reason, if you can't tell
me who or what it is that requires your presence at home, and decline
to show me the letter which would presumably give me some idea on the
subject, how do you expect that I am to listen to such a preposterous
demandeh? Just tell me that!
Once more would Paul have given worlds for the firmness and presence
of mind to state his case clearly and effectively; and he could hardly
have had a better opportunity, for schoolmasters cannot always be
playing the tyrant, and the Doctor was, in spite of his attempts to be
stern, secretly more amused than angry at what seemed a peculiarly
precocious piece of effrontery.
But Paul felt the dismal absurdity of his position. Nothing he had
said, nothing he could say, short of the truth, would avail him, and
the truth was precisely what he felt most unable to tell. He hung his
head resignedly, and held his tongue in confusion.
Pooh! said the Doctor at last; let me have no more of this
tomfoolery, Bultitude. It's getting to be a positive nuisance. Don't
come to me with any more of these ridiculous stories, or some day I
shall be annoyed. There, go away, and be contented where you are, and
try to behave like other people.
'Contented!' muttered Paul, when out of hearing, as he went
upstairs and through the empty schoolroom into the playground. 'Behave
like other people!' Ah, yes, I suppose I shall have to come to that in
time. But that letterEverything upside downBangle asked to meet
a common clown! That fellow Duke letting me in for gold-mines and
tramways! It's all worse than I ever dreamed of; and I must stay here
and be 'contented!' It'sit's perfectly damnable!
All through that morning his thoughts ran in the same doleful
groove, until the time for work came to an end, and he found himself in
the playground, and free to indulge his melancholy for a few minutes in
solitude; for the others were still loitering about in the schoolroom,
and a glass outhouse originally intended for a conservatory, but now
devoted to boots and slates, and the books liberally besmeared with
gilt, and telling of the exploits of boy-heroes so beloved of boys.
Mr. Bultitude, only too delighted to get away from them for a little
while, was leaning against the parallel bars in dull despondency, when
he heard a rustling in the laurel hedge which cut off the house garden
from the gravelled playground, and looking up, saw Dulcie slip through
the shrubs and come towards him with an air of determination in her
proud little face.
She looked prettier and daintier than ever in her grey hat and warm
fur tippet; but of course Paul was not of the age or in the mood to be
much affected by such thingshe turned his head pettishly away.
It's no use doing that, Dick, she said: I'm tired of sulking. I
shan't sulk any more till I have an explanation.
Paul made the sound generally written Pshaw!
You ought to tell me everything. I will know it. Oh, Dick, you
might tell me! I always told you anything you wanted to know; and I let
mamma think it was I broke the clock-shade last term, and you know you
did it. And I want to know something so very badly!
It's no use coming to me, you know, said Paul. I can't do
anything for you.
Yes, you can; you know you can! said Dulcie impulsively. You can
tell me what was in that letter you had at breakfastand you shall
What an inquisitive little girl you are, said Paul sententiously.
It's not nice for little girls to be so inquisitiveit doesn't look
I knew it! cried Dulcie; you don't want to tell
mebecausebecause it's from that other horrid girl you like better
than me. And you promised to belong to me for ever and ever, and now
it's all over! Say it isn't! Oh, Dick, promise to give the other girl
up. I'm sure she's not a nice girl. She's written you an unkind letter;
now hasn't she?
Upon my word, said Paul, this is very forward; at your age too.
Why, my Barbara
Your Barbara! you dare to call her that? Oh, I knew I was right; I
will see that letter now. Give it me this instant! said Dulcie
imperiously; and Paul really felt almost afraid of her.
No, no, he said, retreating a step or two, it's all a mistake;
there's nothing to get into such a passion aboutthere isn't indeed!
Anddon't cryyou're really a pretty little girl. I only wish I could
tell you everything; but you'd never believe me!
Oh, yes, I would, Dick! protested Dulcie, only too willing to be
convinced of her boy-lover's constancy; I'll believe anything, if
you'll only tell me. And I'm sorry I was so angry. Sit down by me and
tell me from the very beginning. I promise not to interrupt.
Paul thought for a moment. After all, why shouldn't he? It was much
pleasanter to tell his sorrows to her little ear and hear her childish
wonder and pity than face her terrible fatherhe had tried that. And
then she might tell her mother; and so his story might reach the
Doctor's ears after all, without further effort on his part.
Well, he said at last, I think you're a good-natured little girl;
you won't laugh. Perhaps I will tell you!
So he sat down on the bench by the wall, and Dulcie, quite happy
again now at this proof of good faith, nestled up against him
confidingly, waiting for his first words with parted lips and eager
Not many days ago, began Paul, I was somebody very different
Oh, indeed, said a jarring, sneering voice close by; was you?
And he looked up and saw Tipping standing over him with a plainly
Go away, Tipping, said Dulcie; we don't want you. Dick is telling
me a secret.
He's very fond of telling, I know, retorted Tipping. If you knew
what a sneak he was you'd have nothing to do with him, Dulcie. I could
tell you things about him that
He's not a sneak, said Dulcie. Are you, Dick? Why don't you go,
Tipping. Never mind what he says, Dick; go on as if he wasn't there. I
don't care what he says!
It was a most unpleasant situation for Mr. Bultitude, but he did not
like to offend Tipping. II thinksome other time, perhaps, he said
nervously. Not now.
Ah, you're afraid to say what you were going to say now I'm here,
said the amiable Tipping, nettled by Dulcie's little air of haughty
disdain. You're a coward; you know you are. You pretend to think such
a lot of Dulcie here, but you daren't fight!
Fight! said Mr. Bultitude. Eh, what for?
Why, for her, of course. You can't care much about her if you
daren't fight for her. I want to show her who's the best man of the
I don't want to be shown, wailed poor Dulcie piteously, clinging
to the reluctant Paul; I know. Don't fight with him, Dick. I say
you're not to.
Certainly not! said Mr. Bultitude with great decision. I
shouldn't think of such a thing! and he rose from the bench and was
about to walk away, when Tipping suddenly pulled off his coat and began
to make sundry demonstrations of a martial nature, such as dancing
aggressively towards his rival and clenching his fists.
By this time most of the other boys had come down into the
playground, and were looking on with great interest. There was an
element of romance in this promised combat which gave it additional
attractions. It was like one of the struggles between knightly
champions in the Waverley novels. Several of them would have fought
till they couldn't see out of their eyes if it would have given them
the least chance of obtaining favour in Dulcie's sight, and they all
envied Dick, who was the only boy that was not unmercifully snubbed by
their capricious little princess.
Paul alone was blind to the splendour of his privileges. He examined
Tipping carefully, as the latter was still assuming a hostile attitude
and chanting a sort of war-cry supposed to be an infallible incentive
Yah, you're afraid! he sang very offensively. I wouldn't be a
Pooh! said Paul at last; go away, sir, go away!
Go away, eh? jeered Tipping. Who are you to tell me to go away?
Go away yourself!
Certainly, said Paul, only too happy to oblige. But he found
himself prevented by a ring of excited backers.
Don't funk it, Dick! cried some, forgetting recent ill-feeling in
the necessity for partisanship. Go in and settle him as you did that
last time. I'll second you. You can do it!
Don't hit each other in the face, pleaded Dulcie, who had got upon
a bench and was looking down into the ringnot, if the truth must be
told, without a certain pleasurable excitement in the feeling that it
was all about her.
And now Mr. Bultitude discovered that he was seriously expected to
fight this great hulking boy, and that the sole reason for any
disagreement was an utterly unfounded jealousy respecting this little
girl Dulcie. He had not a grain of chivalry in his
dispositionchivalry being an eminently unpractical virtueand
naturally he saw no advantage in letting himself be mauled for the sake
of a child younger than his own daughter.
Dulcie's appeal enraged Tipping, who took it as addressed solely to
himself. You ought to be glad to stick up for her, he said between
his teeth. I'll mash you for thissee if I don't!
Paul thought he saw his way clear to disabuse Tipping of his
mistaken idea. Are you proposing, he asked politely, toto 'mash'
me on account of that little girl there on the seat?
You'll soon see, growled Tipping. Shut your head, and come on!
No, but I want to know, persisted Mr. Bultitude. Because, he
said with a sickly attempt at jocularity which delighted none, you
see, I don't want to be mashed. I'm not a potato. If I understand you
aright, you want to fight me because you think me likely to interfere
with your claim to that little girl'sahaffections?
That's it, said Tipping gruffly; so you'd better waste no more
words about it, and come on.
But I don't care about coming on, protested Paul earnestly. It's
all a mistake. I've no doubt she's a very nice little girl, but I
assure you, my good boy, I've no desire to stand in your way for one
instant. She's nothing to menothing at all! I give her up to you.
Take her, young fellow, with my blessing! There, now, that's all
He was just looking round with a self-satisfied and relieved air,
when he began to be aware that his act of frank unselfishness was not
as much appreciated as it deserved. Tipping, indeed, looked baffled and
irresolute for one moment, but a low murmur of disgust arose from the
bystanders, and even Jolland declared that it was too beastly mean.
As for Dulcie, she had been looking on incredulously at her
champion's unaccountable tardiness in coming to the point. But this
public repudiation was too much for her. She gave a little low wail as
she heard the shameless words of recantation, and then, without a word,
jumped lightly down from her bench and ran away to hide herself
somewhere and cry.
Even Paul, though he knew that he had done nothing but what was
strictly right, and had acted purely in self-protection, felt
unaccountably ashamed of himself as he saw this effect of his speech.
But it was too late now.
Accelerated by ignominious shovingsnay, as it is written, by
smitings, twitchings, spurnings à posteriori not to be
named. French Revolution.
This letter being so excellently ignorant will breed no terror
the youth.Twelfth Night.
Mr. Bultitude had meant to achieve a double stroke of diplomacyto
undeceive Dulcie and conciliate the lovesick Tipping. But whatever his
success may have been in the former respect, the latter object failed
You shan't get off by a shabby trick like that, said Tipping,
exasperated by the sight of Dulcie's emotion; you've made her cry now,
and you shall smart for it. So, now, are you going to stand up to me
like a man, or will you take a licking?
I'm not going to help you to commit a breach of the peace, said
Paul with great dignity. Go away, you quarrelsome young ruffian! Get
one of your schoolfellows to fight you, if you must fight. I don't want
to be mixed up with you in any way.
But at this Tipping, whose blood was evidently at boiling point,
came prancing down on him in a Zulu-like fashion, swinging his long
arms like a windmill, and finding that his enemy made no attempt at
receiving him, but only moved away apprehensively, he seized him by the
collar as a prelude to dealing him a series of kicks behind.
Although Mr. Bultitude, as we have seen, was opposed to fighting as
a system he could not submit to this sort of thing without at least
some attempt to defend himself; and judging it of the highest
importance to disable his adversary in the most effectual manner before
the latter had time to carry out his offensive designs, he turned
sharply round and hit him a very severe blow in the lower part of his
The result fulfilled his highest expectations. Tipping collapsed
like a pocket-rule, and staggered away speechless, and purple with
pain, while Paul stood calm and triumphant. He had shown these fellows
that he wasn't going to stand any nonsense. They would leave him alone
after this, perhaps.
But once more there were cries and murmurs of Shame! No hitting
below the belt! Cadcoward!
It appeared that, somehow, he had managed to offend their prejudices
even in this. It's very odd, he thought; when I didn't fight they
called me a coward, and now, when I do, I don't seem to have pleased
them much. I don't care, though. I've settled him.
But after a season of protracted writhing by the parallel bars,
Tipping came out, still gasping and deadly pale, leaning on
Biddlecomb's shoulder, and was met with universal sympathy and
Thanks! he said with considerable effort. Of courseI'm not
goingto fight him after a low trick like that; but perhaps you
fellows will see that he doesn't escape quite as easily as he fancies?
There was a general shout. No; he shall pay for it! We'll teach him
to fight fair! We'll see if he tries that on again!
Paul heard it with much uneasiness. What new devilry were they about
to practise upon him? He was not left long in doubt.
I vote, suggested Biddlecomb, as if he were proposing a
testimonial, we make him run the gauntlet. Grim won't come out and
catch us. I saw him go out for a drive an hour ago. And the idea was
very favourably entertained.
Paul had heard of running the gauntlet, and dimly suspected that
it was not an experience he was likely to enjoy, particularly when he
saw everyone busying himself with tying the end of his
pocket-handkerchief into a hard knot. He tried in vain to excuse
himself, declaring again and again that he had never meant to injure
the boy. He had only defended himself, and was under the impression
that he was at perfect liberty to hit him wherever he could, and so on.
But they were in no mood for excuses.
With a stern magisterial formality worthy of a Vehm-Gericht, they
formed in two long lines down the centre of the playground; and while
Paul was still staring in wonder at what this strange manoeuvre might
mean, somebody pounced upon him and carried him up to one end of the
ranks, where Tipping had by this time sufficiently recovered to be able
to set him going, as he chose to call it, with a fairly effective
After that he had a confused sense of flying madly along the double
line of avengers under a hail of blows which caught him on every part
of his head, shoulders, and back till he reached the end, where he was
dexterously turned and sent spinning up to Tipping again, who in his
turn headed him back on his arrival, and forced him to brave the
terrible lane once more.
Never before had Mr. Bultitude felt so sore and insulted. But they
kept it up long after the thing had lost its first freshnessuntil at
last exhaustion made them lean to mercy, and they cuffed him
ignominiously into a corner, and left him to lament his ill-treatment
there till the bell rang for dinner, for which, contrary to precedent,
his recent violent exercise had excited little appetite.
I shall be killed soon if I stay here, he moaned; I know I shall.
These young brigands would murder me cheerfully, if they were not
afraid of being caned for it. I'm a miserable man, and I wish I was
Although that afternoon, being Saturday, was a half-holiday, Mr.
Bultitude was spared the ordeal of another game at football; for a
smart storm of rain and sleet coming on about three o'clock kept the
schoolnot altogether unwilling prisonerswithin doors for the day.
The boys sat in their places in their schoolroom, amusing themselves
after their several fashionssome reading, some making libellous
copies of drawings that took their fancy in the illustrated papers,
some playing games; others, too listless to play and too dull to find
pleasure in the simplest books, filled up the time as well as they
could by quarrelling and getting into various depths of hot water. Paul
sat in a corner pretending to read a story relating the experiences of
certain infants of phenomenal courage and coolness in the Arctic
regions. They killed bears and tamed walruses all through the book; but
for the first time, perhaps, since their appearance in print their
exploits fell flat. Not, however, that this reflected any discredit
upon the author's powers, which are justly admired by all
healthy-minded boys; but it was beyond the power of literature just
then to charm Mr. Bultitude's thoughts from the recollection of his
As he took in all the details of his surroundingsthe warm close
room; the raw-toned desks and tables at which a rabble of unsympathetic
boys were noisily whispering and chattering, with occasional glances in
his direction, from which, taught by experience, he augured no good;
the high uncurtained windows, blurred with little stars of half-frozen
rain, and the bare, bleak branches of the trees outside tossing
drearily against a low leaden skyhe tried in vain to cheat himself
into a dreamy persuasion that all this misery could not be real, but
would fade away as suddenly and mysteriously as it had stolen upon him.
Towards the close of the afternoon the Doctor came in and took his
place at the writing-table, where he was apparently very busy with the
composition of some sort of document, which he finished at last with
evident satisfaction at the result of his labour. Then he observed
that, according to their custom of a Saturday afternoon, the hour
before tea-time should be devoted to writing home.
So the books, chess-boards, and dominoes were all put away, and a
new steel pen and a sheet of notepaper, neatly embossed with the
heading Crichton House School in old English letters, having been
served out to everyone, each boy prepared himself to write down such
things as filial affection, strict truthfulness, and the desire of
imparting information might inspire between them.
Paul felt, as he clutched his writing materials, much as a
shipwrecked mariner might be expected to do at finding on his desolate
island a good-sized flag and a case of rockets. His hopes revived once
more; he forgot the smarts left by the knots in the handkerchiefs, he
had a whole hour before himit was possible to set several wires in
motion for his release in an hour.
Yes, he must write several letters. First, one to his solicitor
detailing, as calmly and concisely as his feelings would allow, the
shameful way in which he had been treated, and imploring him to take
measures of some sort for getting him out of his false and awkward
position; one to his head clerk, to press upon him the necessity of
prudence and caution in dealing with the impostor; notes to Bangle and
Fishwick putting them offthey should not be outraged by an
introduction to a vulgar pantomime clown under his roof; and lastly
(this was an outburst he could not deny himself), a solemn impressive
appeal to the common humanity, if not to the ordinary filial instincts,
of his undutiful son.
His fingers tingled to begin. Sentences of burning, indignant
eloquence crowded confusedly into his headhe would write such letters
as would carry instant conviction to the most practical and
matter-of-fact minds. The pathos and dignity of his remonstrances
should melt even Dick's selfish, callous heart.
Perhaps he overrated the power of his penperhaps it would have
required more than mere ink to persuade his friends to disbelieve their
own senses, and see a portly citizen of over fifty packed into the
frame of a chubby urchin of fourteen. But, at all events, no one's
faith was put to so hard a testthose letters were never written.
Don't begin to write yet, any of you, said the Doctor; I have a
few words to say to you first. In most cases, and as a general rule, I
think it wisest to let every boy commit to paper whatever his feelings
may dictate to him. I wish to claim no censorship over the style and
diction of your letters. But there have been so many complaints lately
from the parents of some of the less advanced of you, that I find
myself obliged to make a change. Your father particularly, Richard
Bultitude, he added, turning suddenly upon the unlucky Paul, has
complained bitterly of the slovenly tone and phrasing of your
correspondence; he said very justly that they would disgrace a
stable-boy, and unless I could induce you to improve them, he begged he
might not be annoyed by them in future.
It was by no means the least galling part of Mr. Bultitude's trials,
that former forgotten words and deeds of his in his original condition
were constantly turning up at critical seasons, and plunging him deeper
into the morass just when he saw some prospect of gaining firm ground.
So, on this occasion, he did remember that, being in a more than
usually bad temper one day last year, he had, on receiving a sprawling,
ill-spelt application from Dick for more pocket-money, to buy fireworks
for the 5th of November, written to make some such complaint to the
schoolmaster. He waited anxiously for the Doctor's next words; he might
want to read the letters before they were sent off, in which case Paul
would not be displeased, for it would be an easier and less dangerous
way of putting the Doctor in possession of the facts.
But his complaints were to be honoured by a much more effectual
remedy, for it naturally piqued the Doctor to be told that boys
instructed under his auspices wrote like stable-boys. However, he
went on, I wish your people at home to be assured from time to time of
your welfare, and to prevent them from being shocked and distressed in
future by the crudity of your communications, I have drawn up a short
form of letter for the use of the lower boys in the second formwhich
I shall now proceed to dictate. Of course all boys in the first form,
and all in the second above Bultitude and Jolland, will write as they
please, as usual. Richard, I expect you to take particular pains to
write this out neatly. Are you all ready? Very well then, ... now; and
he read out the following letter, slowly
My dear Parents (or parent according to circumstances) comma (all
of which several took down most industriously)You will be rejoiced
to hear that, having arrived with safety at our destination, we have by
this time fully resumed our customary regular round of earnest work
relieved and sweetened by hearty play. ('Have you all got hearty play
down?' inquired the Doctor rather suspiciously, while Jolland observed
in an undertone that it would take some time to get that down.)
I hope, I trust I may say without undue conceit, to have made
considerable progress in my school-tasks before I rejoin the family
circle for the Easter vacation, as I think you will admit when I inform
you of the programme we intend ('D.V. in brackets and capital
letters'as before, this was taken down verbatim by Jolland, who
probably knew very much better), intend to work out during the term.
In Latin, the class of which I am a member propose to thoroughly
master the first book of Virgil's magnificent Epic, need I say I refer
to the soul-moving story of the Pious Æneas? (Jolland was understood
by his near neighbours to remark that he thought the explanation
distinctly advisable), whilst, in Greek, we have already commenced the
thrilling account of the 'Anabasis' of Xenophon, that master of
strategy! nor shall we, of course, neglect in either branch of study
the syntax and construction of those two noble languages(noble
languages, echoed the writers mechanically, contriving to insinuate a
touch of irony into the words).
In German under the able tutelage of Herr Stohwasser, who, as I may
possibly have mentioned to you in casual conversation, is a graduate of
the University of Heidelberg (and a silly old hass, added Jolland
parenthetically), we have resigned ourselves to the spell of the
Teutonian Shakespeare (there was much difference of opinion as to the
manner of spelling the Teutonian Shakespeare"), as, in my opinion,
Schiller may be not inaptly termed, and our French studies comprise
such exercises, and short poems and tales, as are best calculated to
afford an insight into the intricacies of the Gallic tongue.
But I would not have you imagine, my dear parents (or parent, as
before), that, because the claims of the intellect have been thus amply
provided for, the requirements of the body are necessarily overlooked!
I have no intention of becoming a mere bookworm, and, on the
contrary, we have had one excessively brisk and pleasant game at
football already this season, and should, but for the unfortunate
inclemency of the weather, have engaged again this afternoon in the
In the playground our favourite diversion is the game of 'chevy,'
so called from the engagement famed in ballad and history (I allude to
the battle of Chevy Chase), and indeed, my dear parents, in the rapid
alternations of its fortunes and the diversity of its incident, the
game (to my mind) bears a striking resemblance to the accounts of that
I fear I must now relinquish my pen, as the time allotted for
correspondence is fast waning to its close, and tea-time is
approaching. Pray give my kindest remembrance to all my numerous
friends and relatives, and accept my fondest love and affection for
yourselves, and the various other members of the family circle.
I am, I am rejoiced to say, in the enjoyment of excellent health,
and surrounded as I am by congenial companions, and employed in
interesting and agreeable pursuits, it is superfluous to add that I am
And now, my dear parents, believe me, your dutiful and affectionate
son, so and so.
The Doctor finished his dictation with a roll in his voice, as much
as to say, I think that will strike your respective parents as a
chaste and classical composition; I think so!
But unexceptionable as its tone and sentiments undoubtedly were, it
was far from expressing the feelings of Mr. Bultitude. The rest
accepted it not unwillingly as an escape from the fatigue of original
composition, but to him the neat, well-balanced sentences seemed a
hollow mockery. As he wrote down each successive phrase, he wondered
what Dick would think of it, and when at last it was finished, the
precious hour had gone for another week!
In speechless disgust but without protest, for his spirit was too
broken by this last cruel disappointment, he had to fold, put into an
envelope and direct this most misleading letter under the Doctor's
superintending eye, which of course allowed him no chance of
introducing a line or even a word to counteract the tone of
self-satisfaction and contentment which breathed in every sentence of
He saw it stamped, and put into the postbag, and then his last gleam
of hope flickered out; he must give up struggling against the
Inevitable; he must resign himself to be educated, and perhaps flogged
here, while Dick was filling his house with clowns and pantaloons,
destroying his reputation and damaging his credit at home. Perhaps, in
course of time, he would grow accustomed to it, and, meanwhile, he
would be as careful as possible to do and say nothing to make himself
remarkable in any way, by which means he trusted, at least, to avoid
any fresh calamity.
And with this resolution he went to bed on Saturday night, feeling
that this was a dreary finish to a most unpleasant week.
There was a letter indeed to be intercepted by a man's father
do him good with him!Every Man in his Humour.
I cannot lose the thought yet of this letter,
Sent to my son; nor leave t' admire the change
Of manners, and the breeding of our youth
Within the kingdom, since myself was one.Ibid.
Sunday camea day which was to begin a new week for Mr. Bultitude,
and, of course, for the rest of the Christian world as well. Whether
that week would be better or worse than the one which had just passed
away he naturally could not tellit could hardly be much worse.
But the Sunday itself, he anticipated, without, however, any very
firm grounds for such an assumption, would be a day of brief but
grateful respite; a day on which he might venture to claim much the
same immunity as was enjoyed in former days by the insolvent; a day, in
short, which would glide slowly by with the rather drowsy solemnity
peculiar to the British sabbath as observed by all truly respectable
And yet that very Sunday, could he have foreseen it, was destined to
be the most eventful day he had yet spent at Crichton House, where none
had proved wanting in incident. During the next twelve hours he was to
pass through every variety of unpleasant sensation. Embarrassment,
suspense, fear, anxiety, dismay, and terror were to follow each other
in rapid succession, and to wind up, strangely enough, with a delicious
ecstasy of pure relief and happinessa fatiguing programme for any
middle-aged gentleman who had never cultivated his emotional faculties.
Let me try to tell how this came about. The getting-up bell rang an
hour later than on week-days, but the boys were expected to prepare
certain tasks suitable for the day before they rose. Mr. Bultitude
found that he was required to learn by heart a hymn in which the rhymes
join and divine, throne and crown, were so happily wedded that
either might conform to the othera graceful concession to individual
taste which is not infrequent in this class of poetry. Trivial as such
a task may seem in these days of School Boards, it gave him infinite
trouble and mental exertion, for he had not been called upon to commit
anything of the kind to memory for many years, and after mastering
that, there still remained a long chronological list (the dates
approximately computed) of the leading events before and immediately
after the Deluge, which was to be repeated without looking at the
While he was wrestling desperately with these, for he was
determined, as I have said before, to do all in his power to keep
himself out of trouble, Mrs. Grimstone, in her morning wrapper, paid a
visit to the dormitories and, in spite of all Paul's attempts to excuse
himself, insisted upon pomatuming his hairan indignity which he felt
When she knows who I really am, he thought, she'll be sorry she
made such a point of it. If there's one thing upon earth I loathe more
than another, it's marrow-oil pomade!
Then there was breakfast, at which Dr. Grimstone appeared,
resplendent in glossy broadcloth, and dazzling shirt-front and
semi-clerical white tie, and after breakfast, an hour in the
schoolroom, during which the boys (by the aid of repeated references to
the text) wrote out from memory the hymn they had learnt, while Paul
managed somehow to stumble through his dates and events to the
satisfaction of Mr. Tinkler, who, to increase his popularity, made a
point of being as easily satisfied with such repetitions as he decently
After that came the order to prepare for church. There was a general
rush to the little room with the shelves and bandboxes, where church
books were procured, and great-coats and tight kid gloves put on.
When they were almost ready the Doctor came in, wearing his blandest
and most paternal expression.
Ait's a collection Sunday to-day, boys, he said. Have you all
got your threepenny-bits ready? I like to see my boys give cheerfully
and liberally of their abundance. If any boy does not happen to have
any small change, I can accommodate him if he comes to me.
And this he proceeded to do from a store he had with him of that
most convenient cointhe chosen expression of a congregation's
gratitudethe common silver threepence, for the school occupied a
prominent position in the church, and had acquired a great reputation
amongst the churchwardens for the admirable uniformity with which one
young gentleman after another put into the plate; and this reputation
the Doctor was naturally anxious that they should maintain.
I am sorry to say that Mr. Bultitude, fearing lest he should be
asked if he had the required sum about him, and thus his penniless
condition might be discovered and bring him trouble, got behind the
door at the beginning of the money-changing transactions and remained
there till it was overit seemed to him that it would be too paltry to
be disgraced for want of threepence.
Now, being thus completely furnished for their devotions, the school
formed in couples in the hall and filed solemnly out for the march to
Mr. Bultitude walked nearly last with Jolland, whose facile nature
had almost forgotten his friend's shortcomings on the previous day. He
kept up a perpetual flow of chatter which, as he never stopped for an
answer, permitted Paul to indulge his own thoughts unrestrained.
Are you going to put your threepenny-bit in? said Jolland; I
won't if you don't. Sometimes, you know, when the plate comes round,
old Grim squints down the pews to see we don't shirk. Then I put in
sixpence. Have you done your hymn? I do hate a hymn. What's the use of
learning hymns? They won't mark you for them, you know, in any exam. I
ever heard of, and it can't save you the expense of a hymnbook unless
you learnt all the hymns in it, and that would take you years. Oh, I
say, look! there's young Mutlow and his governor and mater. I wonder
what Mutlow's governor does? Mutlow says he's a 'gentleman' if you ask
him, but I believe he lies. See that fly driving past? Mother Grim
(the irreverent youth always spoke of Mrs. Grimstone in this way) and
Dulcie are in it. I saw Dulcie look at you, Dick. It's a shame to treat
her as you did yesterday. There's young Tom on the box; don't his ears
stick out rummily? I wonder if the 'ugly family' will be at church
to-day? You know the ugly family; all with their mouths open and their
eyes goggling, like a jolly old row of pantomime heads. And oh, Dick,
suppose Connie Davenant's people have changed their pewthat'll be a
sell for you rather, won't it?
I don't understand you, said Mr. Bultitude stiffly; and, if you
don't object, I prefer not to be called upon to talk just now.
Oh, all right! said Jolland, there aren't so many fellows who
will talk to you; but just as you pleaseI don't want to talk.
And so the pair walked on in silence; Jolland with his nose in the
air, determined that after this he really must cut his former friend as
the other fellows had done, since his devotion was appreciated so
little, and Paul watching the ascending double line of tall chimney-pot
hats as they surged before him in regular movement, and feeling a dull
wonder at finding himself setting out to church in such ill-assorted
They entered the church, and Paul was sent down to the extreme end
of a pew next to the one reserved for the Doctor and his family. Dulcie
was sitting there already on the other side of the partition; but she
gave no sign of having noticed his arrival, being apparently absorbed
in studying the rose-window over the altar.
He sat down in his corner with a sense of rest and almost comfort,
though the seat was not a cushioned one. He had the inoffensive Kiffin
for a neighbour, his chief tormentors were far away from him in one of
the back pews, and here at least he thought no harm could come to him.
He could allow himself safely to do what I am afraid he generally did
do under the circumstancessnatch a few intermittent but sweet periods
of dreamless slumber.
But, while the service was proceeding, Mr. Bultitude was suddenly
horrified to observe that a young lady, who occupied a pew at right
angles to and touching that in which he sat, was deliberately making
furtive signals to him in a most unmistakable manner.
She was a decidedly pretty girl of about fifteen, with merry and
daring blue eyes and curling golden hair, and was accompanied by two
small brothers (who shared the same book and dealt each other stealthy
and vicious kicks throughout the service), and by her father, a stout,
short-sighted old gentleman in gold spectacles, who was perpetually
making the wrong responses in a loud and confident tone.
To be signalled to in a marked manner by a strange young lady of
great personal attractions might be a coveted distinction to other
schoolboys, but it simply gave Mr. Bultitude cold thrills.
I suppose that's 'Connie Davenant,' he thought, shocked
beyond measure as she caught his eye and coughed demurely for about the
fourth time. A very forward young person! I think somebody ought to
speak seriously to her father.
Good gracious! she's writing something on the flyleaf of her
prayer-book, he said to himself presently. I hope she's not going to
send it to me. I won't take it. She ought to be ashamed of
Miss Davenant was indeed busily engaged in pencilling something on a
blank sheet of paper; and, having finished, she folded it deftly into a
cocked-hat, wrote a few words on the outside, and placed it between the
leaves of her book.
Then, as the congregation rose for the Psalms, she gave a meaning
glance at the blushing and scandalised Mr. Bultitude and by dexterous
management of her prayer-book shot the little cocked-hat, as if
unconsciously, into the next pew.
By a very unfortunate miscalculation, however, the note missed its
proper object, and, clearing the partition, fluttered deliberately down
on the floor by Dulcie's feet.
Paul saw this with alarm; he knew that at all hazards he must get
that miserable note into his own possession and destroy it. It might
have his name somewhere about it; it might seriously compromise him.
So he took advantage of the noise the congregation made in repeating
a verse aloud (it was not a high church) to whisper to Dulcie: Little
Miss Grimstone, excuse me, but there's aa note in the pew down by
your feet. I believe it's intended for me.
Dulcie had seen the whole affair and had been not a little puzzled
by it, a clandestine correspondence being a new thing in her short
experience; but she understood that in this golden-haired girl, her
elder by several years, she saw her rival, for whom Dick had so basely
abandoned her yesterday, and she was old enough to feel the slight and
the sweetness of revenge.
So she held her head rather higher than usual, with her firm little
chin projecting wilfully, and waited for the next verse but one before
retorting, Little Master Bultitude, I know it is.
Could youcan you manage to reach it? whispered Paul
Yes, said Dulcie, I could.
Then will youwhen they sit down?
No, said Dulcie firmly, I shan't.
The other girl, she noticed with satisfaction, had become aware of
the situation and was evidently uneasy. She looked as imploringly as
she dared at remorseless little Dulcie, as if appealing to her not to
get her into trouble; but Dulcie bent her eyes obstinately on her book
and would not see her.
If the letter had been addressed to any other boy in the school, she
would have done her best to shield the culprits; but this she could not
bring herself to do here. She found a malicious pleasure in remaining
absolutely neutral, which of course was very wrong and ill-natured of
Mr. Bultitude began now to be seriously alarmed. The fatal paper
must be seen by some one in the Doctor's pew as soon as the
congregation sat down again; and, if it reached the Doctor's hands, it
was impossible to say what misconstruction he might put upon it or what
terrible consequences might not follow.
He was innocent, perfectly innocent; but though the consciousness of
innocence is frequently a great consolation, he felt that unless he
could imbue the Doctor with it as well, it would not save him from a
So he made one more desperate attempt to soften Dulcie's resolution:
Don't be a naughty little girl, he said, very injudiciously for his
purpose, I tell you I must have it. You'll get me into a terrible mess
if you're not careful!
But although Dulcie had been extremely well brought up, I regret to
say that the only answer she chose to make to this appeal was that
slight contortion of the features, which with a pretty girl is
euphemised as a moue, and with a plain one is called making a
face. When he saw it he knew that all hope of changing her purpose
must be abandoned.
Then they all sat down, and, as Paul had foreseen, there the white
cocked-hat lay on the dark pew-carpet, hideously distinct, with
billet doux in every fold of it!
It could only be a question of time now. The curate was reading the
first lesson for the day, but Mr. Bultitude heard not a verse of it. He
was waiting with bated breath for the blow to fall.
It fell at last. Dulcie, either with the malevolent idea of
hastening the crisis, or (which I prefer to believe for my own part)
finding that her ex-lover's visible torments were too much for her
desire of vengeance, was softly moving a heavy hassock towards the
guilty note. The movement caught her mother's eye, and in an instant
the compromising paper was in her watchful hands.
She read it with incredulous horror, and handed it at once to the
The golden-haired one saw it all without betraying herself by any
outward confusion. She had probably had some experience in such
matters, and felt tolerably certain of being able, at the worst, to
manage the old gentleman in the gold spectacles. But she took an early
opportunity of secretly conveying her contempt for the traitress
Dulcie, who continued to meet her angry glances with the blandest
Dr. Grimstone examined the cocked-hat through his double eyeglasses,
with a heavy thunder-cloud gathering on his brows. When he had mastered
it thoroughly, he bent forward and glared indignantly past his wife and
daughter for at least half a minute into the pew where Mr. Bultitude
was cowering, until he felt that he was coming all to pieces under the
The service passed all too quickly after that. Paul sat down and
stood up almost unconsciously with the rest; but for the first time in
his life he could have wished the sermon many times longer.
The horror of his position quite petrified him. After all his
prudent resolutions to keep out of mischief and to win the regard and
confidence of his gaoler by his good conduct, like the innocent convict
in a melodrama, this came as nothing less than a catastrophe. He walked
home in a truly dismal state of limp terror.
Fortunately for him none of the others seemed to have noticed his
misfortune, and Jolland made no further advances. But even the weather
tended to increase his depression, for it was a bleak, cheerless day,
with a bitter and searching wind sweeping the gritty roads where
yesterday's rain was turned to black ice in the ruts, and the sun shone
with a dull coppery glitter that had no warmth or geniality about it.
The nearer they came to Crichton House the more abjectly miserable
became Mr. Bultitude's state of mind. It was as much as he could do to
crawl up the steps to the front door, and his knees positively clapped
together when the Doctor, who had driven home, met them in the hall and
said in a still grave voice, Bultitude, when you have taken off your
coat, I want you in the study.
He was as long about taking off his coat as he dared, but at last he
went trembling into the study, which he found empty. He remembered the
room well, with its ebony-framed etchings on the walls, bookcases and
blue china over the draped mantelpiece, even to a large case of
elaborately carved Indian chessmen in bullock-carts and palanquins, on
horses and elephants, which stood in the window-recess. It was the very
room to which he had been shown when he first called about sending his
son to the school. He had little thought then that the time would come
when he would attend there for the purpose of being flogged; few things
would have seemed less probable. Yet here he was.
But his train of thought was abruptly broken by the entrance of the
Doctor. He marched solemnly in, holding out the offending missive.
Look at this, sir! he said, shaking it angrily before Paul's eyes.
Look at this! what do you mean by receiving a flippant communication
like this in a sacred edifice? What do you mean by it?
II didn't receive it, said Paul, at his wits' end.
Don't prevaricate with me, sir; you know well enough it was
intended for you. Have the goodness to read it now, and tell me what
you have to say for yourself!
Paul read it. It was a silly little school-girl note, half slang and
half sentiment, signed only with the initials C.D. Well, sir? said
It's very forward and impropervery, said Paul; but it's not my
faultI can't help it. I gave the girl no encouragement. I never saw
her before in all my life!
To my own knowledge, Bultitude, she has sat in that pew regularly
for a year.
Very probably, said Paul, but I don't notice these matters. I'm
past that sort of thing, my dear sir.
What is her name? Come, sir, you know that.
Connie Davenant, said Paul, taken unawares by the suddenness of
the question. At least, II heard so to-day. He felt the imprudence
of such an admission as soon as he had made it.
Very odd that you know her name if you never noticed her before,
said the Doctor.
That young fellowwhat's-his-nameJolland told me, said Paul.
Ah, but it's odder still that she knows yours, for I perceive it is
directed to you by name.
It's easily explained, my dear sir, said Paul; easily explained.
I've no doubt she's heard it somewhere. At least, I never told her; it
is not likely. I do assure you I'm as much distressed and shocked by
this affair as you can be yourself. I am indeed. I don't know what
girls are coming to nowadays.
Do you expect me to believe that you are perfectly innocent? said
Yes, I do, said Mr. Bultitude. I can't prevent fast young ladies
from sending me notes. Why, she might have sent you one!
We won't go into hypothetical cases, said the Doctor, not
relishing the war being carried into his own country; she happened to
prefer you. But, although your virtuous indignation seems to me a
trifle overdone, sir, I don't see my way clear to punishing you on the
facts, especially as you tell me you never encouraged thesethese
overtures, and my Dulcie, I am bound to say, confirms your statement
that it was all the other young lady's doing. But if I had had any
proof that you had begun or responded to herhemadvances, nothing
could have saved you from a severe flogging at the very leastso be
careful for the future.
Ah! said Paul rather feebly, quite overwhelmed by the narrowness
of his escape. Then with a desperate effort he found courage to add,
May Iahtake advantage of thisthis restored cordiality totoin
fact to make a brief personal explanation? Itit's what I've been
trying to tell you for a long time, ever since I first came, only you
never will hear me out. It's highly important. You've no notion how
serious it is!
There's something about you this term, Richard Bultitude, said the
Doctor slowly, that I confess I don't understand. This obstinacy is
unusual in a boy of your age, and if you really have a mystery it may
be as well to have it out and have done with it. But I can't be annoyed
with it now. Come to me after supper to-night, and I shall be willing
to hear anything you may have to say.
Paul was too overcome at this unexpected favour to speak his thanks.
He got away as soon as he could. His path was smoothed at last!
That afternoon the boys, or all of them who had disposed of the work
set them for the day, were sitting in the schoolroom, after a somewhat
chilly dinner of cold beef, cold tarts, and cold water, passing the
time with that description of literature known as Sunday reading.
And here, at the risk of being guilty of a digression, I must pause
to record my admiration for this exceedingly happy form of compromise,
which is, I think, peculiar to the British and, to a certain extent,
the American nations.
It has many developments; ranging from the mild Transatlantic
compound of cookery and camp-meetings, to the semi-novel, redeemed and
chastened by an arrangement which sandwiches a sermon or a biblical
lecture between each chapter of the storya great convenience for the
race of skippers.
Then there are one or two illustrated magazines which it is always
allowable to read on the Sabbath without fear of rebuke from the
strictestthough it is not quite easy to see why.
Open any one of the monthly numbers, and the chances are that you
may possibly find at one part a neat little doctrinal essay by a
literary bishop; the rest of the contents will consist of nothing more
serious than a paper upon cockroaches and their habits by an eminent
savant; a description of foreign travel, done in a brilliant and wholly
secular vein; and, further on again, an article on æsthetic
furniturewhile the balance of the number will be devoted to
instalments of two thrilling novels by popular authors, whose theology
is seldom their strongest point.
Oddly enough, too, when these very novels come out later in
three-volume form, with the mark of the beast in the shape of a
circulating library ticket upon them, they will be fortunate if they
are not interdicted altogether by some of the serious families who take
in the magazines as being so suitable for Sundays.
Mr. Bultitude, at all events, had reason to be grateful for this
toleration, for in one of the bound volumes supplied to him he found a
most interesting and delightfully unsectarian novel, which appealed to
his tastes as a business man, for it was all about commerce and making
fortunes by blockade-running; and though he was no novel reader as a
rule, his mind was so relieved and set at rest by the prospect of
seeing the end of his trouble at last, that he was able to occupy his
mind with the fortunes of the hero.
He naturally detected technical errors here and there. But that
pleased him, and he was becoming so deeply absorbed in the tale that he
felt seriously annoyed when Chawner came softly up to the desk at which
he was sitting, and sat down close to him, crossing his arms before
him, and leaning forward upon them with his sallow face towards Paul.
Dickie, he began, in a cautious, oily tone, did I hear the Doctor
say before dinner that he would hear anything you have to tell him
after supper? Did I?
I really can't say, sir, said Paul; if you were near the keyhole
at the time, very likely you did.
The door was open, said Chawner, and I was in the cloak-room, so
I heard, and I want to know. What is it you're going to tell the
Mind your own business, sir, said Paul sharply.
It is my own business, said Chawner; but I don't want to be told
what you're going to tell him. I know.
Good heavens! said Mr. Bultitude, annoyed to find his secret in
possession of this boy of all others.
Yes, repeated Chawner. I know, and I tell you whatI won't have
Won't have it! and why?
Never mind why. Perhaps I don't choose that the Doctor shall be
told just yet; perhaps I mean to go up and tell him myself some other
day. I want to have a little more fun out of it before I've done.
Butbut, said Paul, you young ghoul, do you mean to say that all
you care for is to see other people's sufferings?
Chawner grinned maliciously. Yes, he said suavely; it amuses me.
And so, said Paul, you want to hold me back a little
longerbecause it's so funny; and then, when you're quite tired of
your sport, you'll go up and tell the Doctor mymy unhappy story
yourself, eh? No, my friend; I'd rather not tell him myselfbut I'll
be shot if I let you have a finger in it. I know my own
interests better than that!
Don't get in a passion, Dickie, said Chawner; it's Sunday. You'll
have to let me go up instead of youwhen I've frightened them a little
Who do you mean by them, sir? said Paul, growing puzzled.
As if you didn't know! Oh, you're too clever for me, Dickie, I can
see, sniggered Chawner.
I tell you I don't know! said Mr. Bultitude. Look here,
Chawneryour confounded name is Chawner, isn't it?there's a mistake
somewhere, I'm sure of it. Listen to me. I'm not going to tell the
Doctor what you think I am!
What do I think you are going to tell him?
I haven't the slightest idea; but, whatever it is, you're wrong.
Ah, you're too clever, Dickie; you won't betray yourself; but other
people want to pay Coker and Tipping out as well as you, and I say you
I shan't say anything to affect anyone but myself, said Paul; if
you know all about it, you must know thatit won't interfere with your
amusement that I can see.
Yes, it will, said Chawner irritably, it willyou mayn't mean to
tell of anyone but yourself; but directly Grimstone asks you questions,
it all comes out. I know all about it. And, anyway, I forbid you to go
up till I give you leave.
And who the dooce are you? said Mr. Bultitude, nettled at this
assumption of authority. How are you going to prevent me, may I ask?
S'sh! here's the Doctor, whispered Chawner hurriedly. I'll tell
you after tea. What am I doing out of my place, sir? Oh, I was only
asking Bultitude what was the collect for to-day, sir. Fourth Sunday
after the Epiphany? thank you, Bultitude.
And he glided back to his seat, leaving Paul in a state of vague
uneasiness. Why did this fellow, with the infernal sly face and glib
tongue, want to prevent him from righting himself with the world, and
how could he possibly prevent him? It was absurd; he would take no
notice of the young scoundrelhe would defy him.
But he could not banish the uneasy feeling; the cup had slipped so
many times before at the critical moment that he could not be sure
whose hand would be the next to jog his elbow. And so he went down to
tea with renewed misgivings.
There is a kind of Followers likewise, which are dangerous,
indeed Espials; which enquire the Secrets of the House and
Tales of them.BACON.
Then give me leave that I may turn the key,
That no man enter till my tale be done.
Very possibly Chawner's interference in Mr. Bultitude's private
affairs has surprised others besides the victim of it; but the fact is
that there was a most unfortunate misunderstanding between them from
the very first, which prevented the one from seeing, the other from
explaining, the real state of the case.
Chawner, of course, no more guessed Paul's true name and nature than
anyone else who had come in contact with him in his impenetrable
disguise, and his motive for attempting to prevent an interview with
the Doctor can only, I fear, be explained by another slight digression.
The Doctor, from a deep sense of his responsibility for the morals
of those under his care, was perhaps a trifle over-anxious to clear his
moral garden of every noxious weed, and too constant in his vigilant
efforts to detect the growing shoot of evil from the moment it showed
above the surface.
As he could not be everywhere, however, it is evident that many
offences, trivial or otherwise, must have remained unsuspected and
unpunished, but for a theory which he had originated and took great
pains to propagate amongst his pupils.
The theory was that every right-minded boy ought to feel himself in
such a fiduciary position towards his master, that it became a positive
duty to acquaint him with any delinquencies he might happen to observe
among his fellows; and if, at the same time, he was oppressed by a
secret burden on his own conscience, it was understood that he might
hope that the joint revelation would go far to mitigate his own
It is doubtful whether this system, though I believe it is found
successful in Continental colleges, can be usefully applied to English
boys; whether it may not produce a habit of mutual distrust and
suspicion, and a tone the reverse of healthy.
For myself, I am inclined to think that a schoolmaster will find it
better in the long run, for both the character and morals of his
school, if he is not too anxious to play the detective, and refrains
from encouraging the more weak-minded or cowardly boys to save
themselves by turning schoolmaster's evidence.
Dr. Grimstone thought otherwise; but it must be allowed that the
system, as in vogue at Crichton House, did not work well.
There were boys, of course, who took a sturdier view of their own
rights and duties, and despised the talebearers as they deserved; there
were others, also, too timid and too dependent on the good opinion of
others to risk the loss of it by becoming informers; but there were
always one or two whose consciences were unequal to the burden of their
neighbour's sin, and could only be relieved by frank and full
Unhappily they had, as a general rule, contributed largely to the
sum of guilt themselves, and did not resort to disclosure until
detection seemed reasonably imminent.
Chawner was the leader of this conscientious band; he revelled in
the system. It gave him the means at once of gratifying the almost
universal love of power and of indulging a catlike passion for playing
with the feelings of others, which, it is to be hoped, is more
He knew he was not popular, but he could procure most of the
incidents of popularity; he could have his little court of cringing
toadies; he could levy his tribute of conciliatory presents, and vent
many private spites and hatreds into the bargainand he generally did.
Having himself a tendency to acts of sly disobedience, he found it a
congenial pastime to set the fashion from time to time in some one of
the peccadilloes to which boyhood is prone, and to which the Doctor's
somewhat restrictive code added a large number, and as soon as he saw a
sufficient number of his companions satisfactorily implicated, his
He would take the chief culprits aside, and profess, in strict
confidence, certain qualms of conscience which he feared could only be
appeased by unburdening his guilt-laden soul.
To this none would have had any right to objecthad it not
necessarily, or at least from Chawner's point of view, involved a full,
true, and particular account of the misdoings of each and every one;
and consequently, for some time after these professions of misgivings,
Chawner would be surrounded by a little crowd of anxiously obsequious
friends, all trying hard to overcome his scruples or persuade him at
least to omit their names from his revelations.
Sometimes he would affect to be convinced by their arguments and
send them away reassured; at others his scruples would return in an
aggravated form; and so he would keep them on tenterhooks of suspense
for days and weeks, until he was tired of the amusementfor this
practising on the fears of weaker natures is a horribly keen delight to
someor until some desperate little dog, unable to bear his torture
any longer, would threaten to give himself up and make an end of it.
Then Chawner, to do him justice, always relieved him from so
disagreeable a necessity, and would go softly into the Doctor's study,
and, in a subdued and repentant tone, pour out his general confession
for the public good.
Probably the Doctor did not altogether respect the instruments he
saw fit to use in this way; some would have declined to hear the
informer out, flogged him well, and forgotten it; but Dr.
Grimstonethough he was hardly likely to be impressed by these
exhibitions of noble candour, and did not fail to see that the prospect
of obtaining better terms for the penitent himself had something to do
with themyet encouraged the system as a matter of policy, went
thoroughly into the whole affair, and made it the cause of an explosion
which he considered would clear the moral atmosphere for some time to
I hope that, after this explanation, Chawner's opposition to Mr.
Bultitude's plans will be better understood.
After tea, he made Paul a little sign to follow him, and the two
went out together into the little glass-house beyond the schoolroom; it
was dark, but there was light enough from the room inside for them to
see each other's face.
Now, sir, began Paul, with dignity, when he had closed the glass
door behind him, perhaps you'll be good enough to tell me how you mean
to prevent me from seeing Dr. Grimstone, and telling himtelling him
what I have to tell him?
I'll tell you, Dickie, said Chawner, with an evil smirk. You
shall know soon enough.
Don't stand grinning at me like that, sir, said the angry Mr.
Bultitude; say it out at once; it will make no difference to me, I
give you warning!
Oh, yes it will, though. I think it will. Wait. I heard all you
said to Grimstone in the study to-day about that girlConnie Davenant,
I don't care; I am innocent. I have nothing to reproach myself
What a liar you are! said Chawner, more in admiration than rebuke.
You told him you never gave her any encouragement, didn't you? And he
said if he ever found you had, nothing could save you from a licking,
He did, said Paul, he was quite right from his point of
Why, this, said Chawner: Do you remember giving Jolland, the last
Sunday of last term, a note for that very girl?
I never did! said poor Mr. Bultitude, I never saw the wretched
Ah! said Chawner, but I've got the note in my pocket! Jolland was
seedy and asked me to take it for you, and I read it, and it was so
nicely written that I thought I should like to keep it myself, and so I
didand here it is!
And he drew out with great caution a piece of crumpled paper and
showed it to the horrified old gentleman. Don't snatch ... it's rude;
there it is, you see: 'My dear Connie' ... 'yours ever, Dick
Bultitude.' No, you don't come any nearer ... there, now it's safe....
Now what do you mean to do?
II don't know, said Paul, feeling absolutely checkmated. Give
I tell you what I mean to do; I shall keep my eye on you, and
directly I see you making ready to go to Grimstone, I shall get up
first and take him this ... then you'll be done for. You'd better give
in, really, Dickie!
The note was too evidently genuine; Dick must have written it (as a
matter of fact he had; in a moment of pique, no doubt, at some caprice
of his real enslaver Dulcie'sbut his fickleness brought fatal results
on his poor father's undeserving head)if this diabolical Chawner
carried out his threats he would indeed be done for; he did not yet
fully understand the other's motive, but he thought that he feared lest
Paul, in declaring his own sorrows, might also accuse Tipping and Coker
of acts of cruelty and oppression, which Chawner proposed to denounce
himself at some more convenient opportunity; he hesitated painfully.
Well? said Chawner, make up your mind; are you going to tell him,
I must! said Paul hoarsely. I promise you I shall not bring any
other names in ... I don't want to ... I only want to save myselfand
I can't stand it any longer. Why should you stand between me and my
rights in this currish way? I didn't know there were boys like you in
the world, sir; you're a young monster!
I don't mean you to tell the Doctor anything at all, said Chawner.
I shall do what I said.
Then do your worst! said Paul, stung to defiance.
Very well, then, returned Chawner meekly, I willand we'll see
And they went back to the schoolroom again, where Mr. Bultitude,
boiling with rage and seriously alarmed as well, tried to sit down and
appear as if nothing had happened.
Chawner sat down too, in a place from which he could see all Paul's
movements, and they both watched one another anxiously from the corners
of their eyes till the Doctor came in.
It's a foggy evening, he said as he entered: the younger boys had
better stay in. Chawner, you and the rest of the first form can go to
church; get ready at once.
Paul's heart leaped with triumph; with his enemy out of the way, he
could carry out his purpose unhindered. The same thing apparently
occurred to Chawner, for he said mildly, Please, sir, may Richard
Bultitude come too?
Can't Bultitude ask leave for himself? said the Doctor.
I, sir! said the horrified Paul, it's a mistakeI don't want to
go. II don't feel very well this evening!
Then you see, Chawner, you misunderstood him. By the way,
Bultitude, there was something you were to tell me, I think?
Chawner's small glittering eyes were fixed on Paul menacingly as he
managed to stammer that he did want to say something in private.
Very well, I am going out to see a friend for an hour or sowhen I
come back I will hear you, and he left the room abruptly.
Chawner would very probably have petitioned to stay in that evening
as well, had he had time and presence of mind to do so; as it was, he
was obliged to go away and get ready for church, but when his
preparations were made he came back to Paul, and leaning over him said
with an unpleasant scowl, If I get back in time, Bultitude, we'll see
whether you baulk me quite so easily. If I come back and find you've
done itI shall take in that letter!
You may do what you please then, said Paul, in a high state of
irritation, I shall be well out of your reach by that time. Now have
the goodness to take yourself off.
As he went, Mr. Bultitude thought, I never in all my life saw such
a fellow as that, never! It would give me real pleasure to hire someone
to kick him.
The evening passed quietly; the boys left at home sat in their
places, reading or pretending to read. Mr. Blinkhorn, left in charge of
them, was at his table in the corner noting up his diary. Paul was free
for a time to think over his position.
At first he was calm and triumphant; his dearest hopes, his
long-wished-for opportunity of a fair and unprejudiced hearing, were at
last to be fulfilledChawner was well out of the way for the best part
of two hoursthe Doctor was very unlikely to be detained nearly so
long over one call; his one anxiety was lest he might not be able,
after all, to explain himself in a thoroughly effective mannerhe
planned out a little scheme for doing this.
He must begin gradually of course, so as not to alarm the
schoolmaster or raise doubts of his sincerity or, worse still, his
sanity. Perhaps a slight glance at instances of extraordinary
interventions of the supernatural from the earliest times, tending to
show the extreme probability of their survival on rare occasions even
to the present day, might be a prudent and cautious introduction to the
subjectonly he could not think of any, and, after all, it might weary
He would start somewhat in this manner: You cannot, my dear sir,
have failed to observe since our meeting this year, a certain
difference in my manner and bearingone's projected speeches are
somehow generally couched in finer language than, when it comes to the
point, the tongue can be prevailed upon to utter. Mr. Bultitude learned
this opening sentence by heart, he thought it taking and neat, the sort
of thing to fix his hearer's attention from the first.
After that he found it difficult to get any further; he knew himself
that all he was about to describe was plain, unvarnished factbut how
would it strike a stranger's ear? He found himself seeking ways in
which to tone down the glaring improbability of the thing as much as
possible, but in vain; I don't know how I shall ever get it all out,
he told himself at last; if I think about it much longer I shall begin
to disbelieve in it myself.
Here Biddlecomb came up in a confidential manner and sat down by
Paul; Dick, he began, in rather a trembling voice, did I hear the
Doctor say something about your having something to tell him?
Oh Lord, here's another of them now! thought Paul. You are right,
young sir, he said: have you any objection? mention it, you know, if
you have, pray mention it. It's a matter of life and death to me, but
if you at all disapprove, of course that ought to be final!
No, but, protested Biddlecomb, I, I daresay I've not treated you
very well lately, I
You were kind enough to suggest several very uncommonly unpleasant
ways of annoying me, sir, said Paul resentfully, if you mean that.
You've kicked me more than once, and your handkerchief, unless I am
very much mistaken, had the biggest and the hardest knot in it
yesterday. If that gives you the right to interfere and dictate to me
now, like your amiable friend, Master Chawner, I suppose you have it.
Now you're angry, said Biddlecomb humbly; I don't wonder at it.
I've behaved like a cad, I know, but, and this is what I wanted to say,
I was sorry for you all the time.
That's very comforting, said Paul drily; thank you. I'm vastly
obliged to you.
I was, though, said Biddlecomb. I, I was led away by the other
fellowsI always liked you, you know, Bultitude.
You've a very odd way of showing your affection, remarked Mr.
Bultitude; but go on, let me hear all you have to say.
It isn't much, said Biddlecomb, quite broken down; only don't
sneak of me this time, Dick, let me off, there's a good fellow. I'll
stick up for you after this, I will really. You used not to be a fellow
for sneaking once. It's caddish to sneak!
Don't be alarmed, my good friend, said Paul; I won't poach on
that excellent young man Chawner's preserves. What I am going to tell
the Doctor has nothing to do with you.
On your honour? said Biddlecomb eagerly.
Yes, said Paul testily, on my honour. Now, perhaps, you'll let me
alone. No, I won't shake hands, sir. I've had to accept your kicks, but
I don't want your friendship.
Biddlecomb went off, looking slightly ashamed of himself but visibly
relieved from a haunting fear. Thank goodness! thought Paul, he
wasn't as obstinate as the other fellow. What a set they are! I knew
it, there's another boy coming up now!
And indeed one boy after another came up in the same way as
Biddlecomb had done, some cringing more than others, but all vowing
that they had never intended to do any harm, and entreating him to
change his mind about complaining of his ill-treatment. They brought
little offerings to propitiate him and prove the depth of their
unaltered regardpencil-cases and pocket-knives, and so forth, until
they drove Paul nearly to desperation. However, he succeeded in
dispelling their fears after some hot arguments, and had just sent away
the last suppliant, when he saw Jolland too rise and come towards him.
Jolland leaned across Paul's desk with folded arms and looked him
full in the face with his shallow light green eyes. I don't know what
you've said to all those chaps, he began; they've come back looking
precious glum, but they won't tell me what you said, (Mr. Bultitude
had in satisfying their alarm taken care to let them know his private
opinion of them, which was not flattering), but I've got something to
say to you, and it's this. I never thought you would quite come down to
this sort of thing!
What sort of thing? said Paul, who was beginning to have enough of
Why, going up and letting on against all of usit's mean, you
know. If you have got bashed about pretty well since you came back,
it's been all your own fault, and you know it. Last term you got on
well enoughthis time you began to be queer and nasty the very first
day you came. I thought it was one of your larks at first, but I don't
know what it is now, and I don't care. I stood up for you as long as I
could, till you acted like a funk yesterday. Then I took my share in
lamming you, and I'd do it again. But if you are cad enough to pay us
all out in this way, I'll have no more to do with youmind that.
That's all I came to say.
This was an unpalatable way of putting things, but Paul could not
help seeing that there was some truth in it. Jolland had been kind to
him, too, in a careless sort of way, and at some cost to himself; so it
was with more mildness than temper that he answered him.
You're on the wrong tack, my boy, the wrong tack. I've no wish to
tell tales of anyone, as I've been trying to explain to your friends.
There's something the matter with me which you wouldn't understand if I
Oh, I didn't know, said Jolland, mollified; if it's only physic
Whatever it is, said Paul, not caring to undeceive him, it won't
affect you or anyone here, but myself. You're not a bad young fellow, I
believe. I don't want to get you into trouble, sir; you don't want much
assistance, I'm afraid, in that department. So be off, like a good
fellow, and leave me in peace.
All these interviews had taken time. He was alarmed on looking at
the clock to see that it was nearly eight; the Doctor was a long time
over that callfor the first time he began to feel uneasyhe made
hurried mental calculations as to the probability of the Doctor or
Chawner being the first to return.
The walk to church took about twenty minutes; say the service took
an hour, allowing for the return, he might expect Chawner by about
half-past eight; it was striking the hour nowhalf an hour only in
which he could hope for any favourable result from the interview!
For he saw this plainly, that if Chawner were once permitted to get
the Doctor's ear first and show him that infamous love-note, no
explanation of his (even if he had nerve to make it then, which he
doubted) could possibly seem anything more than a desperate and
far-fetched excuse; if he could anticipate Chawner, on the other hand,
and once convince the Doctor of the truth of his story, the informer's
malice would fall flat.
And still the long hand went rapidly on, as Mr. Bultitude sat
staring stupidly at it with a faint sick feelingit had passed the
quarter nowwhy did the Doctor delay in this unwarrantable manner?
What a farce social civilities wereif he had allowed himself to be
prevailed on to stay to supper! Twenty minutes past; Chawner and the
others might return at any momenta ring at the bell; they were there!
all was over nowno, he was saved, that was Dr. Grimstone's voice in
the hallwhat an unconscionable time he was taking off his greatcoat
But all comes to the man who waits. In another moment the Doctor
looked in, singled out Mr. Bultitude with a sharp glance, and a, Now,
Bultitude, I will hear you! and led the way to his study.
Paul staggered rather than walked after him: as usual at the
critical moment his carefully prepared opening had deserted himhis
head felt heavy and crowdedhe wanted to run away, but forced himself
to overcome such a suicidal proceeding and follow to the study.
There was a lighted reading-lamp with a green glass shade upon the
table. The Doctor sat down by it in an armchair by the fire, crossed
his legs, and joined the tops of his fingers together. Now,
Bultitude, he said again.
Might Imight I sit down? said poor Mr. Bultitude in a thick
voice; it was all that occurred to him to say.
Sit by all means, said the Doctor blandly.
So Paul drew a chair opposite the Doctor and sat down. He tried
desperately to clear his head and throat and begin; but the only
distinct thought in his mind just then was that the green lamp-shade
lent a particularly ghastly hue to the Doctor's face.
Take your time, Bultitude, said the latter, after a long minute,
in which a little skeleton clock on the mantelpiece ticked
loudlythere's no hurry, my boy.
But this only reminded Paul that there was every need for
hurryChawner might come in, and follow him here, unless he made
Still, he could only say, You see me in a very agitated state, Dr.
Grimstonea very agitated state, sir.
The Doctor gave a short, dry cough. Well, Bultitude, he said.
The fact is, sir, I'm in a most unfortunate position, andand the
worst of it is, I don't know how to begin. Here he made another dead
stop, while the Doctor raised his heavy eyebrows, and looked at the
Do you see any prospect of your finding yourself able to begin
soon? he inquired at last, with rather suspicious suavity. Perhaps if
you came to me later on
Not for the world! said Paul, in a highly nervous condition. I
shall begin very soon, Doctor, I shall begin directly. Mine is such a
very singular case; it's difficult, as you see, to, to open it!
Have you anything on your mind? asked the Doctor suddenly.
Paul could hear steps and voices in the adjoining cloakroomthe
churchgoers had returned. Yesno! he answered, losing his head
That's a somewhat extraordinary, not to say an ambiguous, reply,
said the Doctor; what am I to understand by
There was a tap at the door. Paul started to his feet in a panic.
Don't let him in! he shrieked, finding his voice at last. Hear me
firstyou shall hear me first! Say that other rascal is not to come
in. He wants to ruin me!
I was going to say I was engaged, said the Doctor; but there's
something under this I must understand. Come in, whoever you are.
And the door opened softly, and Chawner stepped meekly in; he was
rather pale and breathed hard, but was otherwise quite composed.
Now, then, Chawner, said the Doctor impatiently, what is it? Have
you something on your mind, too?
Please, sir, said Chawner, has Bultitude told you anything yet?
No, why? Hold your tongue, Bultitude. I shall hear Chawner nownot
Because, sir, explained Chawner, he knew I had made up my mind to
tell you something I thought you ought to know about him, and so he
threatened to come first and tell some falsehood (I'm sure I don't know
what) about me, sir. I think I ought to be here too.
It's a lie! shouted Paul, What a villain that boy is! Don't
believe a word he says, Dr. Grimstone; it's all falseall!
This is very suspicious, said the Doctor; if your conscience were
good, Bultitude, you could have no object in preventing me from hearing
Chawner. Chawner, in spite of some obvious defects in his character,
he went on, with a gulp (he never could quite overcome a repulsion to
the boy), is, on the whole, a right-minded and, ah, conscientious boy.
I hear Chawner first.
Then, sir, if you please, said Chawner, with an odious side smirk
of triumph at Paul, who, quite crushed by the horror of the situation,
had collapsed feebly on his chair again, I thought it was my duty to
let you see this. I found it to-day in Bultitude's prayerbook, sir.
And he handed Dick's unlucky scrawl to the Doctor, who took it to the
lamp and read it hurriedly through.
After that there was a terrible moment of dead silence; then the
Doctor looked up and said shortly, You did well to tell me of this,
Chawner; you may go now.
When they were alone once more he turned upon the speechless Paul
with furious scorn and indignation. Contemptible liar and hypocrite,
he thundered, pacing restlessly up and down the room in his excitement,
till Paul felt very like Daniel, without his sense of security, you
are unmaskedunmasked, sir! You led me to believe that you were as
much shocked and pained at this girl's venturing to write to you as I
could be myself. You called it, quite correctly, 'forward and
improper'; you pretended you had never given her the least
encouragementhad not heard her name eventill to-day. And here is a
note, written, as I should imagine, some time since, in which you
address her as 'Connie Davenant,' and have the impudence to admire the
hat she wore the Sunday before! I shudder, sir, to think of such
duplicity, such precocious and shameless depravity. It astounds me. It
deprives me of all power to think!
Paul made some faint and inarticulate remark about being a family
manalways most particular, and so forthluckily it passed unheard.
What shall I do with you? continued the Doctor; how shall I
punish such monstrous misconduct?
Don't ask me, sir, said Paul, desperatelyonly, for
heaven's sake, get it over as soon as possible.
If I linger, sir, retorted the Doctor, it is because I have grave
doubts whether your offence can be expiated by a mere floggingwhether
that is not altogether too light a retribution.
He can't want to torture me, thought Paul.
Yes, said the Doctor again, the doubt has prevailed. On a mind so
hardened the cane would leave no lasting impression. I cannot allow
your innocent companions to run the risk of contamination from your
society. I must not permit this serpent to glide uncrushed, this
cockatrice to practise his epistolary wiles, within my peaceful fold.
My mind is made upat whatever cost to myselfhowever it may distress
and grieve your good father, who is so pathetically anxious for you to
do him credit, sir. I must do my duty to the parents of the boys
entrusted to my care. I shall not flog you, sir, for I feel it would be
useless. I shall expel you.
What! Paul leaped up incredulous. Expel me? Do I hear you aright,
Dr. Grimstone? Say it againyou will expel me?
I have said it, the Doctor said sternly; no expostulations can
move me now (as if Mr. Bultitude was likely to expostulate!) Mrs.
Grimstone will see that your boxes are packed the first thing to-morrow
morning, and I shall take you myself to the station and consign you to
the home you have covered with blushes and shame, by the 9.15 train,
and I shall write a letter to-night explaining the causes for your
Mr. Bultitude covered his face with his hands, to hide, not his
shame and distress, but his indecent rapture. It seemed almost too good
to be true! He saw himself about to be provided with every means of
reaching home in comfort and safety. He need dread no pursuit now.
There was no chance, either, of his being forced to return to the
prison-housethe Doctor's letter would convince even Dick of the
impossibility of that. And, best of all, this magnificent stroke of
good luck had been obtained without the ignominy and pain of a
flogging, without even the unpleasant necessity of telling his strange
But (having gained some experience during his short stay at the
school) he had the duplicity to pretend to sob bitterly.
But one night more, sir, continued the Doctor, shall you pass
beneath this roof, and that apart from your fellows. You will occupy
the spare bedroom until the morning, when you quit the school in
I said in another chapter that this Sunday would find Paul, at its
close, after a trying course of emotions, in a state of delicious
ecstasy of pure relief and happinessand really that scarcely seems
too strong an expression for his feelings.
When he found himself locked securely into a comfortable, warm
bedroom, with curtains and a carpet in it, safe from the persecutions
of all those terrible boys, and when he remembered that this was
actually the last night of his stay herethat he would certainly see
his own home before noon next day, the reaction was so powerful that he
could not refrain from skipping and leaping about the room in a kind of
And as he laid his head down on a yielding lavender-scented pillow,
his thoughts went back without a pang to the varied events of the day;
they had been painful, very painful, but it was well worth while to
have gone through them to appreciate fully the delightful intensity of
the contrast. He freely forgave all his tormentors, even Chawnerfor
had not Chawner procured his release?and he closed his eyes at last
with a smile of Sybaritic satisfaction and gentle longing for the
Monday's dawn to break.
And yet some, after his experiences, would have had their
Discipulorum inter jubeo plorare cathedras.
Blithe and gay was Mr. Bultitude when he opened his eyes on Monday
morning and realised his incredible good fortune; in a few hours he
would be travelling safely and comfortably home, with every facility
for regaining his rights. He chuckledthough his sense of humour was
not largehe chuckled, as he lay snugly in bed, to think of Dick's
discomfiture on seeing him return so unexpectedly; he began to put it
down, quite unwarrantably, to his own cleverness, as having conceived
and executed such a stroke of genius as procuring his own expulsion.
He remained in bed until long after the getting-up bell had rung,
feeling that his position ensured him perfect impunity in this, and
when he rose at length it was in high spirits, and he dressed himself
with a growing toleration for things in general, very unlike his
ordinary frame of mind. When he had finished his toilet, the Doctor
entered the room.
Bultitude, he said gravely, before sending you from us, I should
like to hear from your own lips that you are not altogether without
contrition for your conduct.
Mr. Bultitude considered that such an acknowledgment could not
possibly do any harm, so he saidas, indeed, he might with perfect
truththat he very much regretted what had passed.
I am glad to hear that, said the Doctor, more briskly, very glad;
it relieves me from a very painful responsibility. It may not
impossibly induce me to take a more lenient view of your case.
Oh! gasped Mr. Bultitude, feeling very uncomfortable all at once.
Yes; it is a serious step to ruin a boy's career at its outset by
unnecessary harshness. Nothing, of course, can palliate the extreme
baseness of your behaviour. Still from certain faint indications in
your character of better things, I do not despair even yet (after you
have received a public lesson at my hands, which you will never forget)
of rearing you to become in time an ornament to the society in which it
will be your lot to move. I will not give up in despairI will
persevere a little longer.
Thank you! Paul faltered, with a sudden sinking sensation.
Mrs. Grimstone, too, said the Doctor, has been interceding for
you; she has represented to me that a public expression of my view of
your conduct, together with a sharp, severe dose of physical pain,
would be more likely to effect a radical improvement in your character,
and to soften your perverted heart, than if I sent you away in hopeless
disgrace, without giving you an opportunity of showing a desire to
It'svery kind of Mrs. Grimstone, said Paul faintly.
Then I hope you will show your appreciation of her kindness. Yes, I
will not expel you. I will give you one more chance to retrieve your
lost reputation. But, for your own sake, and as a public warning, I
shall take notice of your offence in public. I shall visit it upon you
by a sound flogging before the whole school at eleven o'clock. You need
not come down till thenyour breakfast will be sent up to you.
Paul made a frantic attempt to dissuade him from his terrible
determination. Dr. Grimstone, he said, II should much prefer being
expelled, if it is all the same to you.
It is not all the same to me, said the Doctor. This is mere pride
and obstinacy, Bultitude; I should do wrong to take any notice of it.
II tell you I have great objection toto being flogged, said
Paul eagerly; it wouldn't improve me at all; it would harden me,
sir,harden me. II cannot allow you to flog me, Dr. Grimstone. I
have strong prejudices against the system of corporal punishment. I
object to it on principle. Expulsion would make me quite a different
being, I assure you; it would reform mesave meit would indeed.
So, to escape a little personal inconvenience, you would be content
to bring sorrow upon your worthy father's grey head, would you, sir?
said the Doctor. I shall not oblige you in this. Nor, I may add, will
your cowardice induce me to spare you in your coming chastisement. I
leave you, sirwe shall meet again at eleven!
And he stalked out of the room. Perhaps, though he did not admit
this even to himself, there were more considerations for commuting the
sentence of expulsion than those he had mentioned. Boys are not often
expelled from private schools, except for especially heinous offences,
and in this case there was no real reason why the Doctor should be
Quixotic enough to throw up a portion of his incomeparticularly if he
could produce as great a moral effect by other means.
But his clemency was too much for Mr. Bultitude; he threw himself on
the bed and raved at the hideous fate in store for him; ten short
minutes ago, and he had been so happyso certain of releaseand now,
not only was he as far from all hope of escape as ever, but he had the
certainty before him of a sound flogging in less than two hours!
Just after something has befallen us which, for good or ill, will
make a great change in our lives, what a totally new aspect the common
everyday things about us are apt to wearthe book we were reading, the
letter we had begun, the picture we knewwhat a new and tender
attraction they may have for us, or what a grim and terrible irony!
Something of this Paul felt dimly, as he finished dressing, in a
dazed, unconscious manner. The comfortable bedroom, with its
delicately-toned wall-paper and flowery cretonnes, had become
altogether hateful in his eyes now. Instead of feeling grateful (as he
surely ought to have been) for the one night of perfect security and
comfort he had passed there, he only loathed it for the delusive peace
it had brought him.
There was a gentle tap at the door, and Dulcie came in, bearing a
tray with his breakfast, and looking like a little Royalist bearing
food to a fugitive Cavalier; though Paul did not quite carry out his
share of the simile.
There! she said, almost cheerfully; I got Mummy to let me take up
your breakfast; and there's an egg for you, and muffins.
Mr. Bultitude sat on a chair and groaned.
You might say 'thank you,' said Dulcie, pouting. That other girl
wouldn't have brought you up much breakfast if she'd been in my place.
I was going to tell you that I'd forgiven you, because very likely you
never meant her to write to you (Dulcie had not been told the sequel
to the Davenant episode, which was quite as well for Paul). But you
don't seem to care whether I do or not.
I feel so miserable! sighed Paul.
Then you must drink some coffee, prescribed Dulcie decidedly; and
you must eat some breakfast. I brought an egg on purpose; it's so
strengthening, you know.
Don't! cried Paul, with a short howl of distress at this
suggestion. Don't talk about thethe flogging, I can't bear it.
But it's not papa's new cane, you know, Dick, said Dulcie
consolingly. I've hidden that; it's only the old one, and you always
said that didn't hurt so very much, after a little while. It isn't as
if it was the horsewhip, either. Daddy lost that out riding in the
Oh, the horsewhip's worse, is it? said Paul, with a sickly smile.
Tom says so, said Dulcie. After all, Dick, it will be all over in
five minutes, or, perhaps, a little longer, and I do think you oughtn't
to mind that so much, now, after mamma and I have begged you off from
being expelled. We might never have seen one another again, Dick!
You begged me off! cried Paul.
Yes, said Dulcie; Daddy wouldn't change his mind for ever so
longtill I coaxed him. I couldn't bear to let you go.
You've done a very cruel thing, said Paul. For such a little girl
as you are, you've done an immense amount of mischief. But for you,
that letter would not have been found out. You need not have spoilt my
only chance of getting out of this horrible place!
Dulcie set down the tray, and, putting her hands behind her, leaned
against a corner of a wardrobe.
And is that all you say to me! she said, with a little tremble in
That is all, said Paul. I've no doubt you meant well, but you
shouldn't have interfered. All this has come upon me through that. Take
away the breakfast. It makes me ill even to look at it.
Dulcie shook out her long brown hair, and clenched her small fist in
an undeniable passion, for she had something of her father's hot temper
when roused. Very well, then, she said, moving with great dignity
towards the door. I'm very sorry I ever did interfere. I wish I'd let
you be sent home to your papa, and see what he'd do to you. But I'll
never, never interfere one bit with you again. I won't say one single
word to you any more.... I'll never even look at you if you want me to
ever so much.... I shall tell Tipping he can hit you as much as ever he
likes, and I shall show Tom where I put the new caneand I only hope
it will hurt! And with this parting shot she was gone.
Mr. Bultitude wandered disconsolately about the upper part of the
house after this, not daring to go down, and not able to remain in any
one place. The maids who came up to make the beds looked at him with
pitiful interest, but he was too proud to implore help from them. To
hide would only make matters worse, for, as he had not a penny in his
pocket, and no probability of being able to borrow one, he must remain
in the house till hunger forced him from his hiding-placesupposing
they did not hunt him out long before that time.
The shouts of the boys in the playground during their half-hour's
play had long since died away; he heard the clock in the hall strike
eleventime for him to seek his awful rendezvous. The Doctor had not
forgotten him, he found, for presently the butler came up and
ceremoniously announced that the Doctor would see him now, if he
He stumbled downstairs in a half-unconscious condition, the butler
threw open the two doors which led to the schoolroom, and Paul tottered
in, more dead than alive with shame and fear.
The whole school were at their places, with no books before them,
and arranged as if to hear a lecture. Mr. Blinkhorn alone was absent,
for, not liking these exhibitions, he had taken an opportunity of
slipping out into the playground, round which he was now solemnly
trotting at the double with elbows squared and head up; an exercise
which he said was an excellent thing for the back and lungs. He had a
habit of suddenly leaving the class he was taking to indulge in it for
a few minutes, returning breathless but refreshed.
Mr. Tinkler was at his seat, wearing that faint grin on his face
with which he might have prepared to see a pig killed or a bull-fight,
and all the boys fixed their eyes expectantly on Mr. Bultitude as he
appeared at the doorway.
Stand there, sir, said the Doctor, who was standing at his
writing-table in an attitude; out there in the middle, where your
schoolfellows can see you. Paul obeyed and stood where he was told,
looking, as he felt, absolutely boneless.
Some of those here, began the Doctor in an impressive bass, may
wonder why I have called you all together on this, the first day of the
week; most of those who reside under my roof are acquainted with, and I
trust execrate, the miserable cause of my doing so.
If there is one virtue which I have striven to implant more than
any other in your breasts, he continued, it is the cultivation of a
modest and becoming reserve in your intercourse with those of the
With the majority I have, I hope, been successful, and it is as
painful for me to tell as for you to hear, that there exists in your
midst a youthful reprobate, trained in all the arts of ensnaring the
vagrant fancies of innocent but giddy girlhood.
See him as he cowers there before your gaze, in all the bared
hideousness of his moral depravity (the Doctor on occasions like these
never spared his best epithets, and Paul soon began to feel himself a
very villain); a libertine, young in years, but old inin everything
else, who has not scrupled to indite an amatory note, so appalling in
its familiarity, and so outrageous in the warmth of its sentiments,
that I cannot bring myself to shock your ears with its contents.
You do well to shun him as a moral leper; but how shall I tell you
that, not satisfied with pressing his effusions upon the shrinking
object of his precocious affections, the impious wretch has availed
himself of the shelter of a church to cloak his insidious advances, and
even force a response to them from a heedless and imprudent girl!
If, continued the Doctor, now allowing his powerful voice to boom
to its full compassif I can succeed in bringing this coward, this
unmanly dallier in a sentiment which the healthy mind of boyhood
rejects as premature, to a sense of his detestable conduct; if I can
score the lesson upon his flesh so that some faint notion of its force
and purport may be conveyed to what has been supplied to him as a
heart, then I shall not have lifted this hand in vain!
He shall see whether he will be allowed to trail the fair name of
the school for propriety and correctness of deportment in the dust of a
pew-floor, and spurn my reputation as a preceptor like a church hassock
beneath his feet!
I shall say no more; I will not prolong these strictures, deserved
though they be, beyond their proper limits.... I shall now proceed to
act. Richard Bultitude, remain there till I return to mete out to you
with no sparing hand the punishment you have so richly merited.
With these awful words the Doctor left the room, leaving Paul in a
state of abject horror and dread which need not be described. Never,
never again would he joke, as he had been wont to do with Dick in
lighter moods, on the subject of corporal punishment under any
circumstancesit was no fit theme for levity; if thisthis outrage
were really done to him, he could never be able to hold up his head
again. What if it were to get about in the city!
The boys, who had sunk, as they always did, into a state of torpid
awe under the Doctor's eloquence, now recovered spirits enough to rally
Paul with much sprightly humour.
He's gone to fetch his cane, said some, and imitated for Paul's
instruction the action of caning by slapping a ruler upon a copy-book
with a dreadful fidelity and resonance; others sought to cross-examine
him upon the love-letter, it appearing from their casual remarks that
not a few had been also honoured by communications from the artless
It is astonishing how unfeeling even ordinary good-natured boys can
be at times.
Chawner sat at his desk with raised shoulders, rubbing his hands,
and grinning like some malevolent ape: I told you, Dickie, you know,
he murmured, that it was better not to cross me.
And still the Doctor lingered. Some kindly suggested that he was
waxing the cane. But the more general opinion was that he had been
detained by some visitor; for it appeared that (though Paul had not
noticed it) several had heard a ring at the bell. The suspense was
growing more and more unbearable.
At last the door opened in a slow ominous manner, and the Doctor
appeared. There was a visible change in his manner, however. The white
heat of his indignation had died out: his expression was grave but
distinctly softenedand he had nothing in his hand.
I want you outside, Bultitude, he said; and Paul, still uncertain
whether the scene of his disgrace was only about to be shifted, or what
else this might mean, followed him into the hall.
If anything can strike shame and confusion into your soul,
Richard, said the Doctor, when they were outside, it will be what I
have to tell you now. Your unhappy father is here, in the dining-room.
Paul staggered. Had Dick the brazen effrontery to come here to taunt
him in his slavery? What was the meaning of it? What should he say to
him? He could not answer the Doctor but by a vacant stare.
I have not seen him yet, said the Doctor. He has come at a most
inopportune moment (here Mr. Bultitude could not agree with
him). I shall allow you to meet him first, and give you the
opportunity of breaking your conduct to him. I know how it will wring
his paternal heart! and the Doctor shook his head sadly, and turned
With a curious mixture of shame, anger, and impatience, Paul turned
the handle of the dining-room door. He was to meet Dick face to face
once more. The final duel must be fought out between them here. Who
would be the victor?
It was a strange sensation on entering to see the image of what he
had so lately been standing by the mantelpiece. It gave a shock to his
sense of his own identity. It seemed so impossible that that stout
substantial frame could really contain Dick. For an instant he was
totally at a loss for words, and stood pale and speechless in the
presence of his unprincipled son.
Dick on his side seemed at least as much embarrassed. He giggled
uneasily, and made a sheepish offer to shake hands, which was
As Paul looked he saw distinctly that his son's fraudulent imitation
of his father's personal appearance had become deteriorated in many
respects since that unhappy night when he had last seen it. It was then
a copy, faultlessly accurate in every detail. It was now almost a
caricature, a libel!
The complexion was nearly sallow, with the exception of the nose,
which had rather deepened in colour. The skin was loose and flabby, and
the eyes dull and a little bloodshot. But perhaps the greatest
alteration was in the dress. Dick wore an old light tweed shooting-coat
of his, and a pair of loose trousers of blue serge; while, instead of
the formally tied black neckcloth his father had worn for a quarter of
a century, he had a large scarf round his neck of some crude and gaudy
colour; and the conventional chimney-pot hat had been discarded for a
shabby old wide-brimmed felt wideawake.
Altogether, it was by no means the costume which a British merchant,
with any self-respect whatever, would select, even for a country visit.
And thus they met, as perhaps never, since this world was first set
spinning down the ringing grooves of change, met father and son before!
The Survivorship of a worthy Man in his Son is a Pleasure
inferior to the Hopes of the Continuance of his own Life.
Du bist ein Knabesei es immerhin
Und fahre fort, den Fröhlichen zu spielen.
SCHILLER, Don Carlos.
Paul was the first to break a very awkward silence. You young
scoundrel! he said, with suppressed rage. What the devil do you mean
by laughing like that? It's no laughing matter, let me tell you, sir,
for one of us!
I can't help laughing, said Dick; you do look so queer!
Queer! I may well look queer. I tell you that I have never, never
in my whole life, spent such a perfectly infernal week as this last!
Ah! observed Dick, I thought you wouldn't find it all jam!
And yet you seemed to be enjoying yourself, too, he said with a grin,
from that letter you wrote.
What made you come here? Couldn't you be content with your
miserable victory, without coming down to crow and jeer at me?
It isn't that, said Dick. II thought I should like to see the
fellows, and find out how you were getting on, you know. These,
however, were not his only and his principal motives. He had come down
to get a sight of Dulcie.
Well, sir, said Mr. Bultitude, with ponderous sarcasm, you'll be
delighted to hear that I'm getting on uncommonly welloh, uncommonly!
Your high-spirited young friends batter me to sleep with slippers on
most nights, and, as a general thing, kick me about during the day like
a confounded football! And last night, sir, I was going to be expelled;
and this morning I'm forgiven, and sentenced to be soundly flogged
before the whole school! It was just about to take place as you came
in; and I've every reason to believe it is merely postponed!
I say, though, said Dick, you must have been going it rather, you
know. I've never been expelled. Has Chawner been sneaking again? What
have you been up to?
Nothing. I solemnly swearnothing! They're finding out things
you've done, and thrashing me.
Well, said Dick soothingly, you'll work them all off during the
term, I daresay. There aren't many really bad ones. I suppose he's seen
my name cut on his writing-table?
No; not that I'm aware of, said Paul.
Oh, he'd let you hear of it if he had! said Dick. It's good for a
swishing, that is. But, after all, what's a swishing? I never cared for
But I do care, sir. I care very much, and, I tell you, I won't
stand it. I can't! Dick, he said abruptly as a sudden hope seized him.
You, you haven't come down here to say you're tired of your folly,
have you? Do you want to give it up?
Rather not, said Dick. Why should I? No school, no lessons,
nothing to do but amuse myself, eat and drink what I like, and lots of
money. It's not likely, you know.
Have you ever thought that you're bringing yourself within reach of
the law, sir? said Paul, trying to frighten him. Perhaps you don't
know that there's an offence known as 'false personation with intent to
defraud,' and that it's a felony. That's what you're doing at this
Not any more than you are! retorted Dick. I never began it. I had
as much right to wish to be you as you had to wish to be me. You're
just what you said you wanted to be, so you can't complain.
It's useless to argue with you, I see, said Paul. And you've no
feelings. But I'll warn you of one thing. Whether that is my body or
not you've fraudulently taken possession of, I don't know; if it is
not, it is very like mine, and I tell you this about it. The sort of
life you're leading it, sir, will very soon make an end of you, if you
don't take care. Do you think that a constitution at my age can stand
sweet wines and pastry, and late hours? Why, you'll be laid up with
gout in another day or two. Don't tell me, sir. I know you're suffering
from indigestion at this very minute. I can see your liver (it may be
my liver for anything I know) is out of order. I can see it in your
Dick was a little alarmed at this, but he soon said: Well, and if I
am seedy, I can get Barbara to take the stone and wish me all right
again, can't I? That's easy enough, I suppose.
Oh, easy enough! said Paul, with a suppressed groan. But, Dick,
you don't go up to Mincing Lane in that suit and that hat? Don't tell
me you do that!
When I do go up, I wear them, said Dick composedly. Why not? It's
a roomy suit, and I hate a great topper on my head; I've had enough of
that here on Sundays. But it's slow up at your office. The chaps there
aren't half up to any larks. I made a first-rate booby-trap, though,
one day for an old yellow buffer who came in to see you. He was
in a bait when he found the waste-paper basket on his head!
What was his name? said Paul, with forced calm.
Something like 'Shells.' He said he was a very old friend of mine,
and I told him he lied.
Shellackmy Canton correspondenta man I was anxious to be of use
to when he came over! moaned Mr. Bultitude. Miserable young cub, you
don't know what mischief you've done!
Well, it won't matter much to you now, said Dick; you're out of
Do youdo you mean to keep me out of it for ever, then? asked
As long as ever I can! returned Dick frankly. It will be rather
interesting to see what sort of a fellow you'll grow intoif you ever
do grow. Perhaps you will always be like that, you know. This magic is
a rum thing to meddle with.
This suggestion almost maddened Paul. He made one stride forward,
and faced his son with blazing eyes. Do you think I will put up with
it? he said, between his teeth. Do you suppose I shall stand calmly
by and see you degrading and ruining me? I may never be my old self
again, but I don't mean to play into your hands for all that. You can't
always keep me here, and wherever I go I'll tell my tale. I know you,
you clumsy rogue, you haven't the sense to play your part with common
intelligence now. You would betray yourself directly I challenged you
to deny my story.... You know you would.... You couldn't face me for
five minutes. By Gad! I'll do it now. I'll expose you before the
Doctorbefore the whole school. You shall see if you can dispose of me
quite so easily as you imagine!
Dick had started back at first in unmistakable alarm at this
unexpected defiance, probably feeling his self-possession unequal to
such a test; but, when Paul had finished, he said doggedly: Well, you
can do it if you choose, I suppose. I can't stop you. But I don't see
what good it would do.
It would show people you were an impudent impostor, sir, said Paul
sternly, going to the door as if to call the Doctor, though he shrank
secretly from so extreme and dangerous a measure.
There was a hesitation in his manner, in spite of the firmness of
his words, which Dick was not likely to miss. Stop! he said. Before
you call them in, just listen to me for a minute. Do you see this?
And, opening his coat, he pulled out from his waistcoat pocket one end
of his watch-chain. Hanging to it, attached by a cheap gilt fastening
of some sort, was a small grey tablet. Paul knew it at onceit was the
Garudâ Stone. You know it, I see, said Dick, as Paul was about to
move towards himwith what object he scarcely knew himself. Don't
trouble to come any closer. Well, I give you fair warning. You can make
things very nasty for me if you like. I can't help thatbut, if you
doif you try to score off me in any way, now or at any timeif you
don't keep it up when the Doctor comes inI tell you what I shall do.
I shall go straight home and find young Roly. I shall give him this
stone, and just tell him to say some wish after me. I don't believe
there are many things it can't do, and all I can say isif you find
yourself and all this jolly old school (except Dulcie) taken off
somewhere and stuck down all at once thousands of miles away on a
desolate island, or see yourself turned into a Red Indian, or, or a
cabhorse, you'll have yourself to thank for itthat's all. Now you can
have them all up and fire away.
No, said Paul, in a broken voice, for, wild as the threat was, he
could not afford to despise it after his experiences of the stone's
power, II was joking, Dick; at least I didn't mean it. I know of
course I'm helpless. It's a sad thing for a father to say, but you've
got the best of it.... I give in ... I won't interfere with you.
There's only one thing I ask. You won't try any more experiments with
that miserable stone.... You'll promise me that, at least?
Yes, said Dick: it's all right. I'll play fair. As long as you
behave yourself and back me up I won't touch it. I only want to stay as
I am. I don't want to hurt you.
You won't lose it? said Paul anxiously. Couldn't you lock it up?
that fastening doesn't look very safe.
It will do well enough, said Dick. I got it done at the
watchmaker's round the corner, for sixpence. But I'll have a stronger
ring put in somewhere, if I think of it.
There was a pause, in which the conversation seemed about to flag
hopelessly, but at last Dick said, almost as if he felt some
compunction for his present unfilial attitude: Now, you know, it's
much better to take things quietly. It can't be altered now, can it?
And it's not such bad fun being a boy after allfor some things.
You'll get into it by-and-by, you see if you don't, and be as jolly as
a sandboy. We shall get along all right together, too. I shan't be hard
on you. It isn't my fault that you happen to be at this particular
schoolyou chose it! And after this term you can go to any other
school you likeEton or Rugby, or anywhere. I don't mind the expense.
Of, if you'd rather, you can have a private tutor. And I'll buy you a
pony, and you can ride in the Row. You shall have a much better time of
it than I ever had, as long as you let me go on my own way.
But these dazzling bribes had no influence upon Mr. Bultitude;
nothing short of complete restitution would ever satisfy him, and he
was too proud and too angry at his crushing defeat to even pretend to
be in the least pacified.
I don't want your pony, he said bitterly; I might as well have a
white elephant, and I don't suppose I should enjoy myself much more at
a public school than I do here. Let's have no humbug, sir. You're up
and I'm downthere's no more to be saidI shall tell the Doctor
nothing, but I warn you, if ever the time comes
Oh, of course, said Dick, feeling tolerably secure, now he had
disposed of the main difficulty. If you can turn me out, I suppose you
willthat's only fair. I shall take care not to give you the chance.
And, oh, I say, do you want any tin? How much have you got left?
Paul turned away his head, lest Dick should see the sudden
exultation he knew it must betray, as he said, with an effort to appear
unconcerned, I came away with exactly five shillings, and I haven't a
I say, said Dick, you are a fellow; you must have been going it.
How did you get rid of it all in a week?
It went, as far as I can understand, said Mr. Bultitude, in
rabbits and mice. Some boys claimed it as money they paid you to get
them, I believe.
All your own fault, said Dick, you would have them drowned. But
you'd better have some tin to get along with. How much do you want?
Will half-a-crown do?
Half-a-crown is not much, Dick, said his father, almost humbly.
It'sahema handsome allowance for a young fellow like you, said
Dick, rather unkindly; but I haven't any half-crowns left. I must give
you this, I suppose.
And he held out a sovereign, never dreaming what it signified to
Paul, who clutched it with feelings too great for words, though
gratitude was not a part of them, for was it not his own money?
And now look out, said Dick, I hear Grim. Remember what I told
you; keep it up.
Dr. Grimstone came in with the air of a man who has a painful duty
to perform; he started slightly as his eye noted the change in his
visitor's dress and appearance. I hope, he began gravely, that your
son has spared me the pain of going into the details of his
misbehaviour; I wish I could give you a better report of him.
Dick was plainly, in spite of his altered circumstances, by no means
at ease in the schoolmaster's presence; he stood, shifting from foot to
foot on the hearth-rug, turning extremely red and obstinately declining
to raise his eyes from the ground.
Oh, ah, he stammered at last, you were just going to swish him,
weren't you, when I turned up, sir?
I found myself forced, said the Doctor, slightly shocked at this
coarse way of putting things, forced to contemplate administering to
him (for his ultimate benefit) a sharp corrective in the presence of
his schoolfellows. I distress you, I see, but the truth must be told.
He has no doubt confessed his fault to you?
No, said Dick, he hasn't though. What's he been up to now?
I had hoped he would have been more open, more straightforward,
when confronted with the father who has proved himself so often
indulgent and anxious for his improvement; it would have been a more
favourable symptom, I think. Well, I must tell you myself. I know too
well what a shock it will be to your scrupulously sensitive moral code,
my dear Mr. Bultitude (Dick showed a painful inclination to giggle
here); but I have to break to you the melancholy truth that I detected
this unhappy boy in the act of conducting a secret and amorous
correspondence with a young lady in a sacred edifice!
Dick whistled sharply: Oh, I say! he cried, that's bad (and he
wagged his head reprovingly at his disgusted father, who longed to
denounce his hypocrisy, but dared not); that's bad ... he shouldn't do
that sort of thing you know, should he? At his age too ... the young
This horror is what I should have expected from you, said the
Doctor (though he was in truth more than scandalised by the composure
with which his announcement was received). Such boldness is indeed
characteristic of the dog, an animal which, as you are aware, was with
the ancients a synonym for shamelessness. No boy, however abandoned,
should hear such words of unequivocal condemnation from a father's lips
without a pang of shame!
Paul was only just able to control his rage by a great effort.
You're right there, sir, said Dick; he ought to be well ragged
for it ... he'll break my heart, if he goes on like this, the young
beggar. But we mustn't be too hard on him, eh? After all, it's nature,
you know, isn't it?
I beg your pardon? said Dr. Grimstone very stiffly.
I mean, explained Dick, with a perilous approach to digging the
other in the ribs, we did much the same sort of thing in our time, eh?
I'm sure I didlots of times!
I can't reproach myself on that head, Mr. Bultitude; and permit me
to say, that such a tone of treating the affair is apt to destroy the
effect, the excellent moral effect, of your most impressively conveyed
indignation just now. I merely give you a hint, you understand!
Oh, ah, said Dick, feeling that he had made a mistake, yes, I
didn't mean that. But I say, you haven't given him aa whopping yet,
I had just stepped out to procure a cane for that purpose, said
the Doctor, when your name was announced.
Well, look here, you won't want to start again when I'm gone, will
An ancient philosopher, my dear sir, was accustomed to postpone the
correction of his slaves until the first glow of his indignation had
passed away. He found that he could
Lay it on with more science, suggested Dick, while Paul writhed
where he stood. Perhaps so, but you might forgive him now, don't you
think? he won't do it again. If he goes writing any more love-letters,
tell me, and I'll come and talk to him; but he's had a lesson, you
know. Let him off this time.
I have no right to resist such an entreaty, said the Doctor,
though I may be inclined myself to think that a few strokes would
render the lesson more permanent. I must ask you to reconsider your
plea for his pardon.
Paul heard this with indescribable anxiety; he had begun to feel
tolerably sure that his evil hour was postponed sine die, but
might not Dick be cruel and selfish enough to remain neutral, or even
side with the enemy, in support of his assumed character?
Luckily he was not. I'd rather let him off, he said awkwardly; I
don't approve of caning fellows myself. It never did me any good, I
know, and I got enough of it to tell.
Well, well, I yield. Richard, your father has interceded for you;
and I cannot disregard his wishes, though I have my own view in the
matter. You will hear no more of this disgraceful conduct, sir, unless
you do something to recall it to my memory. Thank your father for his
kindness, which you so little deserved, and take your leave of him.
Oh, there, it's all right! said Dick; he'll behave himself after
this, I know. And oh! I say, sir, he added hastily, isis Dulcie
My daughter? asked the Doctor. Would you like to see her?
I shouldn't mind, said Dick, blushing furiously.
I'm sorry to say she has gone out for a walk with her mother, said
the Doctor. I'm afraid she cannot be back for some time. It's
Dick's face fell. It doesn't matter, he muttered awkwardly. She's
all right, I hope?
She is very seldom ailing, I'm happy to say; just now she is
particularly well, thank you.
Oh, is she? said Dick gloomily, probably disappointed to find that
he was so little missed, and not suspecting that his father had been
accepted as a substitute.
Well, do you mindcould I see the fellows again for a minute or
twoI mean I should rather like to inspect the school, you know.
See my boys? Certainly, my dear sir, by all means; this way, and
he took Dick out to the schoolroomPaul following out of curiosity.
You'll find us at our studies, you see, said the Doctor, as he opened
the first baize door. There was a suspicious hubbub and hum of voices
from within; but as they entered every boy was bent over his books with
the rapt absorption of the devoted studentan absorption that was the
direct effect of the sound the door-handle made in turning.
Our workshop, said the Doctor airily, looking round. My first
form, Mr. Bultitude. Some good workers here, and some idle ones.
Dick stood in the doorway, looking (if the truth must be told)
uncommonly foolish. He had wanted, in coming there, to enjoy the
contrast between the past and presentwhich accounts for a good many
visits of old boys to the scene of their education. But, confronted
with his former schoolfellows, he was seized at first with an utterly
unreasonable fear of detection.
The class behaved as classes usually do on such occasions. The good
boys smirked and the bad ones staredthe general expression being one
of uneasy curiosity. Dick said never a word, feeling strangely bashful
This is Tipping, my head boy, touching that young gentleman on the
shoulder, and making him several degrees more uncomfortable. I expect
solid results from Tipping some day.
He looks as if his head was pretty solid, said Dick, who had once
cut his knuckles against it.
My second boy, Biddlecomb. If he applies himself, he too will do me
credit in the world.
How do, Biddlecomb? said Dick. I owe you ninepenceI meanoh
hang it, here's a shilling for you! Hallo, Chawner! he went on,
gradually overcoming his first nervousness, how are you getting on,
eh? Doing much in the sneaking way lately?
You know him! exclaimed the Doctor with naive surprise.
No, no; I don't know him. I've heard of him, you knowheard of
him! Chawner looked down his nose with a feeble attempt at a gratified
simper, while his neighbours giggled with furtive relish.
Well, said Dick at last, after a long look at all the old familiar
objects, I must be off, you know. Got some important business at home
this evening to look after. The fellows look very jolly and contented,
and all that sort of thing. Enough to make one want to be a boy again
almost, eh? Good-bye, you chapsahem, young gentlemen, I wish you good
And he went out, leaving behind him the impression that young
Bultitude's governor wasn't half such a bad old buffer.
He paused at the open front door, to which Paul and the Doctor had
accompanied him. Good-bye, he said; I wish I'd seen Dulcie. I should
like to see your daughter, sir; but it can't be helped. Good-bye; and
you, he added in a lower tone to his father, who was standing by,
inexpressibly pained and disgusted by his utter want of dignity, you
mind what I told you. Don't try any games with me!
And, as he skipped jauntily down the steps to the gateway, the
Doctor followed his unwieldy, oddly-dressed form with his eyes, and,
inclining his head gravely to Dick's sweeping wave of the hand, asked
with a compassionate tone in his voice. You don't happen to know,
Richard, my boy, if your father has had any business troubles
latelyanything to disturb him?
And Mr. Bultitude's feelings prevented him from making any
My three schoolfellows,
Whom I will trustas I will adders fanged;
They bear the mandate.
Paul never quite knew how the remainder of that day passed at
Crichton House. He was ordered to join a class which was more or less
engaged with some kind of work: he had a hazy idea that it was Latin,
though it may have been Greek; but he was spared the necessity of
taking any active part in the proceedings, as Mr. Blinkhorn was not
disposed to be too exacting with a boy who in one short morning had
endured a sentence of expulsion, a lecture, the immediate prospect of a
flogging, and a paternal visit, and, as before, mercifully left him
His classmates, however, did not show the same chivalrous delicacy;
and Paul had to suffer many unmannerly jests and gibes at his expense,
frequent and anxious inquiries as to the exact nature of his treatment
in the dining-room, with sundry highly imaginative versions of the
same, while there was much candid and unbiassed comment on the
appearance and conduct of himself and his son.
But he bore it unprotestingor, rather, he scarcely noticed it; for
all his thoughts were now entirely taken up by one important
subjectthe time and manner of his escape.
Thanks to Dick's thoughtless liberality, he had now ample funds to
carry him safely home. It was hardly likely that any more unexpected
claims could be brought against him now, particularly as he had no
intention of publishing his return to solvency. He might reasonably
consider himself in a position to make his escape at the very first
When would that opportunity present itself? It must come soon. He
could not wait long for it. Any hour might yet see him pounced upon and
flogged heartily for some utterly unknown and unsuspected
transgression; or the golden key which would unlock his prison bars
might be lost in some unlucky moment; for his long series of reverses
had made him loth to trust to Fortune, even when she seemed to look
smilingly once more upon him.
Fortune's countenance is apt to be so alarmingly mobile with some
But in spite of the new facilities given him for escape, and his
strong motives for taking advantage of them, he soon found to his utter
dismay that he shrank from committing himself to so daring and
dangerous a course, just as much as when he had tried to make a
confidant of the Doctor.
For, after all, could he be sure of himself? Would his ill-luck
suffer him to seize the one propitious moment, or would that fatal
self-distrust and doubt that had paralysed him for the past week seize
him again just at the crisis?
Suppose he did venture to take the first irrevocable step, could he
rely on himself to go through the rest of his hazardous enterprise? Was
he cool and wary enough? He dared not expect an uninterrupted run. Had
he ruses and expedients at command on any sudden check?
If he could not answer all these doubts favourably, was it not sheer
madness to take to flight at all?
He felt a dismal conviction that his success would have to depend,
not on his own cunning, but on the forbearance or blindness of others.
The slightest contretemps must infallibly upset him altogether.
The fact was, he had all his life been engaged in the less eventful
and contentious branches of commerce. His will had seldom had to come
in contact with others, and when it did so, he had found means, being
of a prudent and cautious temperament, of avoiding disagreeable
personal consequences by timely compromises or judicious employment of
delegates. He had generally found his fellow-men ready to meet him
reasonably as an equal or a superior.
But now he must be prepared to see in everyone he met a possible
enemy, who would hand him over to the tyrant on the faintest suspicion.
They were spies to be baffled or disarmed, pursuers to be eluded. The
smallest slip in his account of himself would be enough to undo him.
No wonder that, as he thought over all this, his heart quailed
They saythe paradox-mongers saythat it requires a far higher
degree of moral courage for a soldier in action to leave the ranks
under fire and seek a less distinguished position towards the rear,
than would carry him on with the rest to charge a battery.
This may be true, though it might not prove a very valuable defence
at a court-martial; but, at all events, Mr. Bultitude found, when it
came to the point, that it was almost impossible for him to screw up
his courage to run away.
It is not a pleasant state, this indecision whether to stay
passively and risk the worst or avoid it by flight, and the worst of it
is that, whatever course is eventually forced upon us, it finds us
equally unprepared, and more liable from such indecision to bungle
miserably in the sequel.
Paul might never have gained heart to venture, but for an unpleasant
incident that took place during dinner and a discovery he made after
They happened to have a particularly unpopular pudding that day; a
pallid preparation of suet, with an infrequent currant or two embalmed
in it, and Paul was staring at his portion of this delicacy
disconsolately enough, wondering how he should contrive to consume and,
worse still, digest it, when his attention was caught by Jolland, who
sat directly opposite him.
That young gentleman, who evidently shared the general prejudice
against the currant pudding, was inviting Mr. Bultitude's attention to
a little contrivance of his own for getting rid of it, which consisted
in delicately shovelling the greater part of what was on his plate into
a large envelope held below the table to receive it.
This struck Paul as a heaven-sent method of avoiding the difficulty,
and he had just got the envelope which had held Barbara's letter out of
his pocket, intending to follow Jolland's example, when the Doctor's
voice made him start guiltily and replace the envelope in his pocket.
Jolland, said the Doctor, what have you got there?
An envelope, sir, explained Jolland, who had now got the remains
of his pudding safely bestowed.
What is in that envelope? said the Doctor, who happened to have
been watching him.
In the envelope, sir? Pudding, sir, said Jolland, as if it were
the most natural thing in the world to send bulky portions of pudding
And why did you place pudding in the envelope? inquired the Doctor
in his deepest tone.
Jolland felt a difficulty in explaining that he had done so because
he wished to avoid eating it, and with a view to interring it later on
in the playground: he preferred silence.
Shall I tell you why you did it, sir? thundered the Doctor. You
did it, because you were scheming to obtain a second portionbecause
you did not feel yourself able to eat both portions at your leisure
here, and thought to put by a part to devour in secret at a future
time. It's a most painful exhibition of pure piggishness. There shall
be no pocketing at this table, sir. You will eat that pudding under my
eye at once, and you will stay in and write out French verbs for two
days. That will put an end to any more gorging in the garden for a
time, at least.
Jolland seemed stupefied, though relieved, by the unexpected
construction put upon his conduct, as he gulped down the intercepted
fragments of pudding, while the rest diligently cleared their plates
with as much show of appreciation as they could muster.
Mr. Bultitude shuddered at this one more narrow escape. If he had
been detectedas he must have been in another instantin smuggling
pudding in an envelope he might have incautiously betrayed his real
motives, and then, as the Doctor was morbidly sensitive concerning all
complaints of the fare he provided, he would have got into worse
trouble than the unfortunate Jolland, to say nothing of the humiliation
of being detected in such an act.
It was a solemn warning to him of the dangers he was exposed to
hourly, while he lingered within those walls; but his position was
still more strongly brought home to him by the terrible discovery he
made shortly afterwards.
He was alone in the schoolroom, for the others had all gone down
into the playground, except Jolland, who was confined in one of the
class-rooms below, when the thought came over him to test the truth of
Dick's hint about a name cut on the Doctor's writing-table.
He stole up to it guiltily, and, lifting the slanting desk which
stood there, examined the surface below. Dick had been perfectly
correct. There it was, glaringly fresh and distinct, not large but very
deeply cut and fearfully legible. R. Bultitude. It might have been
done that day. Dick had probably performed it out of bravado, or under
the impression that he was not going to return after the holidays.
Paul dropped the desk over the fatal letters with a shudder. The
slightest accidental shifting of it must disclose themnothing but a
miracle could have kept them concealed so long. When they did come to
light, he knew from what he had seen of the Doctor, that the act would
be considered as an outrage of the blackest and most desperate kind. He
would most unquestionably get a flogging for it!
He fetched a large pewter ink-pot, and tried nervously to blacken
the letters with the tip of a quill, to make them, if possible, rather
less obtrusive than they were. All in vain; they only stood out with
more startling vividness when picked out in black upon the
brown-stained deal. He felt very like a conscience-stricken murderer
trying to hide a corpse that wouldn't be buried. He gave it up
at last, having only made a terrible mess with the ink.
That settled it. He must fly. The flogging must be avoided at all
hazards. If an opportunity delayed its coming, why, he must do without
the opportunityhe must make one. For good or ill, his mind was made
up now for immediate flight.
All that afternoon, while he sat trying to keep his mind upon long
sums in Bills of Parcels, which disgusted him as a business man, by the
glaring improbability of their details, his eye wandered furtively down
the long tables to where the Doctor sat at the head of the class. Every
chance movement of the principal's elbow filled him with a sickening
dread. A hundred times did those rudely carved letters seem about to
start forth and denounce him.
It was a disquieting afternoon for Paul.
But the time dragged wearily on, and still the desk loyally kept its
secret. The dusk drew on and the gas-burners were lit. The younger boys
came up from the lower class-room and were sent out to play; the Doctor
shortly afterwards dismissed his own class to follow them, and Paul and
his companions had the room to themselves.
He sat there on the rough form with his slate before him, hearing
half-unconsciously the shouts, laughter, and ring of feet coming up
from the darkness outside, and the faint notes of a piano, which
filtered through the double doors from one of the rooms, where a boy
was practising Haydn's Surprise, from Hamilton's exercise book, a
surprise which he rendered as a mildly interjectional form of
All the time Paul was racked with an intense burning desire to get
up and run for it then, before it became too late; but cold fits of
doubt and fear preserved him from such lunacyhe would wait, his
chance might come before long.
His patience was rewarded; the Doctor came in, looking at his watch,
and said, I think these boys have had enough of it, Mr. Tinkler, eh?
You can send them out now till tea-time.
Mr. Tinkler, who had been entangling himself frightfully in
intricate calculations upon the blackboard, without making a single
convert, was only too glad to take advantage of the suggestion, and
Paul followed the rest into the playground with a sense of relief.
The usual chevy was going on there, with more spirit than usual,
perhaps, because the darkness allowed of practical jokes and surprises,
and offered great facilities for paying off old grudges with secrecy
and despatch, and as the Doctor had come to the door of the greenhouse,
and was looking on, the players exerted themselves still more, till the
prison to which most of one side had been consigned by being run down
and touched by their fleeter enemies was filled with a long line of
captives holding hands and calling out to be released.
Paul, who had run out vaguely from his base, was promptly pursued
and made prisoner by an unnecessarily vigorous thump in the back, after
which he took his place at the bottom of the line of imprisoned ones.
But the enemy's spirit began to slacken; one after another of the
players still left to the opposite side succeeded in outrunning pursuit
and touching the foremost prisoner for the time being, so as to set him
free by the rules of the game. The Doctor went in again, and the enemy
relapsed as usual into total indifference, so that Paul, without
exactly knowing how, soon found himself the only one left in gaol,
unnoticed and apparently forgotten.
He could not see anything through the darkness, but he heard the
voices of the boys disputing at the other side of the playground; he
looked round; at his right was the indistinct form of a large laurel
bush, behind that he knew was the playground gate. Could it be that his
chance had come at last?
He slipped behind the laurel and waited, holding his breath; the
dispute still went on; no one seemed to have noticed him, probably the
darkness prevented all chance of that; he went on tip-toe to the
gateit was not locked.
He opened it very carefully a little way; it was forbearing enough
not to creak, and the next moment he was outside, free to go where he
Escape, after all, was simple enough when he came to try it; he
could hardly believe at first that he really was free at last; free
with money enough in his pocket to take him home, with the friendly
darkness to cover his retreat; free to go back and confront Dick on his
own ground, and, by force, or fraud, get the Garudâ Stone into his own
hands once more.
As yet he never doubted that it would be easy enough to convince his
household, if necessary, of the truth of his story, and enlist them one
and all on his side; all that he required, he thought, was caution; he
must reach the house unobserved, and wait and watch, and the deuce
would be in it if the stone were not safe in his pocket again before
twelve hours had gone by.
All this time he was still within a hundred yards or so of the
playground wall; he must decide upon some particular route, some
definite method of ordering his flight; to stay where he was any longer
would clearly be unwise, yet, where should he go first?
If he went to the station at once, how could he tell that he should
be lucky enough to catch a train without having to wait long for it,
and unless he did that, he would almost certainly be sought for first
on the station platform, and might be caught before a train was due?
At last, with an astuteness he had not suspected himself of
possessing, which was probably the result of the harrowing experiences
he had lately undergone, he hit upon a plan of action. I'll go to a
shop, he thought, and change this sovereign, and ask to look at a
timetablethen, if I find I can catch a train at once, I'll run for
it; if one is not due for some time, I can hang about near the station
till it comes in.
With this intention he walked on towards the town till he came to a
small terrace of shops, when he went into the first, which was a
stationer's and toy-dealer's, with a stock in trade of cheap wooden
toys and incomprehensible games, drawing slates, penny packets of
stationery and cards of pen and pencil-holders, and a particularly
stuffy atmosphere; the proprietor, a short man with a fat white face
with a rich glaze all over it and a fringe of ragged brown whisker
meeting under his chin, was sitting behind the counter posting up his
Paul looked round the shop in search of something to purchase, and
at last said, more nervously than he expected to do, I want a
pencil-case, one which screws up and down. He thought a pencil-case
would be an innocent, unsuspicious thing to ask for. The man set rows
of cards containing pencil-cases of every imaginable shape on the
counter before him, and when Mr. Bultitude had chosen and paid for one,
the stationer asked if there would be anything else, and if he might
send it for him. You're one of Dr. Grimstone's young gentlemen up at
Crichton House, aren't you, sir? he added.
A guilty dread of discovery made Paul anxious to deny this at once.
No, he said; oh no; no connection with the place. Ah, could you
allow me to look at a time-table?
Certainly, sir; expectin' some one to-night or to-morrow p'raps.
Let me see, he said, consulting a table which hung behind him.
There's a train from Pancras comes in in half an hour from now, 6.5
that is; there's another doo at 8.15, and one at 9.30. Then from
Liverpool Street they run
Thank you, said Mr. Bultitude, butbut I want the up-trains.
Ah, said the man, with a rather peculiar intonation, I thought
maybe your par or mar was comin' down. Ain't Dr. Grimstone got the
times the trains go?
Yes, said Paul desperately, without very well knowing what he
said, yes, he has, but ah, not for this month; hehe sent me to
Did he though? said the stationer. I thought you wasn't one of
his young gentlemen?
Mr. Bultitude saw what a fearful trap he had fallen into and stood
Go along with you! said the little stationer at last, with a not
unkindly grin. Lor bless you, I knew your face the minnit you come in.
To go and tell me a brazen story like that! You're a young pickle, you
Mr. Bultitude began to shuffle feebly towards the door. Pickle,
eh? he protested in great discomposure. No, no. Heaven knows I'm no
pickle. It's of no consequence about those trains. Don't trouble. Good
evening to you.
Stop, said the man, don't be in such a nurry now. You tell me
what you want to know straightforward, and I don't mean to say as I
won't help you so far as I can. Don't be afraid of my telling no tales.
I've bin a schoolboy myself in my time, bless your 'art. I shouldn't
wonder now if I couldn't make a pretty good guess without telling at
what you're after. You've bin a catchin' of it hot, and you want to
make a clean bolt of it. I ain't very far off, now, am I?
No, said Paul; for something in the man's manner inspired
confidence. I do want to make a bolt of it. I've been most abominably
Well, look here, I ain't got no right to interfere; and if you're
caught, I look to you not to bring my name in. I don't want to get into
trouble up at Crichton House and lose good customers, you see. But I
like the looks of you, and you've always dealt 'ere pretty regular. I
don't mind if I give you a lift. Just see here. You want to get off to
London, don't you? What for is your business, not mine. Well, there's a
train, express, stops at only one station on the way, in at 5.50. It's
twenty minnits to six now. If you take that road just oppersite, it'll
bring you out at the end of the Station Road; you can do it easy in ten
minnits and have time to spare. So cut away, and good luck to you?
I'm vastly obliged to you, said Paul, and he meant it. It was a
new experience to find anyone offering him assistance. He left the
close little shop, crossed the road, and started off in the direction
indicated to him at a brisk trot.
His steps rang out cheerfully on the path ironbound with frost. He
was almost happy again under the exhilarating glow of unusual exercise
and the excitement of escape and regained freedom.
He ran on, past a series of villa residences enclosed in varnished
palings and adorned with that mediæval abundance of turrets, balconies,
and cheap stained-glass, which is accepted nowadays as a guarantee of
the tenant's culture, and a satisfactory substitute for effective
drainage. After the villas came a church, and a few yards farther on
the road turned with a sharp curve into the main thoroughfare leading
to the station.
He was so near it that he could hear the shrill engine whistles, and
the banging of trucks on the railway sidings echoed sharply from the
neighbouring houses. He was saved, in sight of haven at last!
Full of delight at the thought, he put on a still greater pace, and
turning the corner without looking, ran into a little party of three,
which was coming in the opposite direction.
Fate's vein of irony was by no means worked out yet. As he was
recovering from the collision, and preparing to offer or accept an
apology, as the case might be, he discovered to his horror that he had
fallen amongst no strangers.
The three were his old acquaintances, Coker, Coggs, and the virtuous
Chawnerof whom he had fondly hoped to have seen the last for ever!
The moral and physical shock of such an encounter took all Mr.
Bultitude's remaining breath away. He stood panting under the sickly
rays of a street-lamp, the very incarnation of helpless, hopeless
Hallo! said Coker, it's young Bultitude!
What do you mean by cannoning into a fellow like this? said Coggs.
What are you up to out here, eh?
If it comes to that, said Paul, casting about for some explanation
of his appearance, what are you up to here?
Why, said Chawner, if you want to know, Dick, we've been to fetch
the St. James' Gazette for the Doctor. He said I might go if I
liked, and I asked for Coker and Coggs to come too; because there was
something I wanted to tell them, very important, and I have told them,
haven't I, Corny?
Coggs growled sulkily; Coker gave a tragic groan, and said: I don't
care when you tell, Chawner. Do it to-night if you like. Let's talk
about something else. Bultitude hasn't told us yet how he came out here
His last words suggested a pretext to Paul, of which he hastened to
make use. Oh, he said, I? I came out here, after you, to say that
Dr. Grimstone will not require the St. James' Gazette. He wants
the Globe and, ah, the Star instead.
It did not sound a very probable combination; but Paul used the
first names that occurred to him, and, as it happened, aroused no
suspicions, for the boys read no newspapers.
Well, we've got the other now, said Coker. We shall have to go
back and get the fellow at the bookstall to change it, I suppose. Come
on, you fellows!
This was at least a move in the right direction; for the three began
at once to retrace their steps. But, unfortunately, all these
explanations had taken time, and before they had gone many yards, Mr.
Bultitude was horrified to hear the station-bell ring loudly, and
immediately after a cloud of white steam rose above the station roof as
the London train clanked cumbrously in, and was brought to with a
prolonged screeching of brakes.
The others were walking very slowly. At the present pace it would be
almost impossible to reach the train in time. He looked round at them
anxiously. H-hadn't we better run, don't you think? he asked.
Run! said Coker scornfully. What for? I'm not going to run. You
can, if you like.
Why, ah, really, said Paul briskly, very grateful for the
permission; do you know, I think I will!
And run he did, with all his might, rushing headlong through the
gates, threading his way between the omnibuses and under the Roman
noses of the mild fly-horses in the enclosure, until at length he found
himself inside the little booking-office.
He was not too late; the train was still at the platform, the engine
getting up steam with a dull roar. But he dared not risk detection by
travelling without a ticket. There was time for that, too. No one was
at the pigeon-hole but one old lady.
But, unhappily, the old lady considered taking a ticket as a solemn
rite to be performed with all due caution and deliberation. She had
already catechised the clerk upon the number of stoppages during her
proposed journey, and exacted earnest assurances from him that she
would not be called upon to change anywhere in the course of it; and as
Paul came up she was laying out the purchase-money for her ticket upon
the ledge and counting it, which, the fare being high and the coins
mostly halfpence, seemed likely to take some time.
One moment, ma'am, if you please, cried Mr. Bultitude, panting and
desperate. I'm pressed for time.
Now you've gone and put me out, little boy, said the old lady
fussily. I shall have to begin all over again. Young man, will you
take and count the other end and see if it adds up right? There's a
halfpenny wrong somewhere; I know there is.
Now then, shouted the guard from the platform. Any more going
I'm going on! said Paul. Wait for me. First single to St.
Drat the boy! said the old lady angrily. Do you think the world's
to give way for you? Such impidence! Mind your manners, little boy,
can't you? You've made me drop a threepenny bit with your scrouging!
First single, five shillings, said the clerk, jerking out the
Right! cried the guard at the same instant. Stand back there,
Paul dashed towards the door of the booking-office which led to the
platform; but just as he reached it a gate slammed in his face with a
sharp click, through the bars of it he saw, with hot eyes, the tall,
heavy carriages which had shelter and safety in them jolt heavily past,
till even the red lamp on the last van was quenched in the darkness.
That miserable old woman had shattered his hopes at the very moment
of their fulfilment. It was fate again!
As he stood, fiercely gripping the bars of the gate, he heard Coggs'
hateful voice again.
Hallo! so you haven't got the Globe and the other thing
after all, then; they've shut you out?
Yes, said Mr. Bultitude in a hollow voice; they've shut me out!
Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles,
How he outruns the wind, and with what care
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles:
The many musets through the which he goes
Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.
As soon as the gate was opened, Paul went through mechanically with
the others on to the platform, and waited at the bookstall while they
changed the paper. He knew well enough that what had seemed at the time
a stroke of supreme cunning would now only land him in fresh
difficulties, if indeed it did not lead to the detection of his scheme.
But he dared not interfere and prevent them from making the unlucky
exchange. Something seemed to tie his tongue, and in sullen leaden
apathy he resigned himself to whatever might be in store for him.
They passed out again by the booking-office. There was the old lady
still at the pigeon-hole, trying to persuade the much-enduring clerk to
restore a lucky sixpence she had given him by mistake, and was quite
unable to describe. Mr. Bultitude would have given much just then to go
up and shake her into hysterics, or curse her bitterly for the mischief
she had done; but he refrained, either from an innate chivalry, or from
a feeling that such an outburst would be ill-judged.
So, silent and miserable, with slow step and hanging head, he set
out with his gaolers to render himself up once more at his house of
bondagea sort of involuntary Regulus, without the oath.
Dickie, you were very anxious to run just now, observed Chawner,
after they had gone some distance on their homeward way.
We were late for tealate for tea, explained Paul hastily.
If you think the tea worth racing like that for, I don't, said
Coggs viciously; it's muck.
You don't catch me racing, except for something worth having, said
One more flash of distinct inspiration came to Paul's aid in the
very depths of his gloom. It was, in fact, a hazy recollection from
English history of the ruse by which Edward I., when a prince,
contrived to escape from his captors at Hereford Castle.
Whywhy, he said excitedly, would you race if you had something
worth racing for, hey? would you now?
Try us! said Coker emphatically.
What do you call 'something'? inquired Chawner suspiciously.
Well, said Mr. Bultitude; what do you say to a shilling?
You haven't got a shilling, objected Coggs.
Here's a shilling, see, said Paul, producing one. Now then, I'll
give this to any boy I see get into tea first!
Bultitude thinks he can run, said Coker, with an amiable unbelief
in any disinterestedness. He means to get in first and keep the
shilling himself, I know.
I'll back myself to run him any day, put in Coggs.
So will I, added Chawner.
Well, is it agreed? Paul asked anxiously. Will you try?
All right, said Chawner. You must give us a start to the next
lamp-post, though. You stay here, and when we're ready we'll say
They drew a line on the path with their feet to mark Paul's starting
point, and went on to the next lamp. After a moment or two of anxious
waiting he heard Coggs shout, all in one breath, One-two-three-off!
and the sound of scampering feet followed immediately.
It was a most exciting and hotly contested race. Paul saw them for
one brief moment in the lamplight. He saw Chawner scudding down the
path like some great camel, and Coker squaring his arms and working
them as if they were wings. Coggs seemed to be last.
He ran a little way himself just to encourage them, but, as the
sound of their feet grew fainter and fainter, he felt that his last
desperate ruse had taken effect, and with a chuckle at his own
cleverness, turned round and ran his fastest in the opposite direction.
He felt little or no interest in the result of the race.
Once more he entered the booking-office and, kneeling on a chair,
consulted the time-board that hung on the wall over the sheaf of texts
and the missionary box.
The next train was not until 7.25. A whole hour and twenty-five
minutes to wait! What was he to do? Where was he to pass the weary time
till then? If he lingered on the platform he would assuredly be
recaptured. His absence could not remain long undiscovered and the
station would be the first place they would search for him.
And yet he dared not wander away from the neighbourhood of the
station. If he kept to the shops and lighted thoroughfares he might be
recognised or traced. If, on the other hand, he went out farther into
the country (which was utterly unknown to him), he had no watch, and it
would be only too easy to lose his way, or miscalculate time and
distance in the darkness.
To miss the next train would be absolutely fatal.
He walked out upon the platform, and on past the refreshment and
waiting rooms, past the weighing machine, the stacked trucks and the
lamp-room, meeting and seen by noneeven the boy at the bookstall was
busy with bread and butter and a mug of tea in a dark corner, and never
He went on to the end of the platform where the planks sloped gently
down to a wilderness of sheds, coaling stages and sidings; he could
just make out the bulky forms of some tarpaulined cattle-vans and open
coal-trucks standing on the lines of metals which gleamed in the scanty
It struck him that one of these vans or trucks would serve his
purpose admirably, if he could only get into it, and very cautiously he
picked his way over the clogging ballast and rails, till he came to a
low narrow strip of platform between two sidings.
He mounted it and went on till he came to the line of trucks and
vans drawn up alongside; the vans seemed all locked, but at the end he
found an empty coal-waggon in which he thought he could manage to
conceal himself and escape pursuit till the longed-for 7.25 train
should arrive to relieve him.
He stepped in and lay down in one corner of it, listening anxiously
for any sound of search, but hearing nothing more than the dismal dirge
of the telegraph wires overhead; he soon grew cold and stiff, for his
enforced attitude was far from comfortable, and there was more
coal-dust in his chosen retreat than he could have wished. Still it was
secluded enough; it was not likely that it would occur to anyone to
look for him there. Ten days ago Mr. Paul Bultitude would have found it
hard to conceive himself lying down in a hard and grimy coal-truck to
escape his son's schoolmaster, but since then he had gone through too
much that was unprecedented and abnormal to see much incongruity in his
situationit was all too hideously real to be a nightmare.
But even here he was not allowed to remain undisturbed; after about
half an hour, when he was beginning to feel almost secure, there came a
sharp twanging of wires beneath, and two short strokes of a bell in the
signal-box hard by.
He heard some one from the platform, probably the station-master,
shout, Look alive, there, Ing, Pickstones, some of you. There's those
three trucks on the A siding to go to Slopsbury by the 6.30
luggageshe'll be in in another five minutes.
There were steps as if some persons were coming out of a cabin
oppositethey came nearer and nearer: These three, ain't it, Tommy?
said a gruff voice, close to Paul's ear.
That's it, mate, said another, evidently Tommy'sget 'em along
up to the points there. Can't have the 6.30 standing about on this 'ere
line all night, 'cos of the Limited. Now then, all together, shove!
they've got the old 'orse on at the other end.
And to Paul's alarm he felt the truck in which he was begin to move
ponderously on the greasy metals, and strike the next with its buffers
with a jarring shock and a jangling of coupling chains.
He could not stand this; unless he revealed himself at once, or
managed to get out of this delusive waggon, the six-whatever-it-was
train would be up and carry him off to Slopsbury, a hundred miles or so
farther from home; they would have time to warn Dickhe would be
expectedambushes laid for him, and his one chance would be gone for
There was a whistle far away on the down line, and that humming
vibration which announces an approaching train: not a moment to
losehe was afraid to attempt a leap from the moving waggons, and
resolved to risk all and show himself.
With this intention he got upon his knees, and putting his head
above the dirty bulwark, looked over and said softly, Tommy, I say,
A porter, who had been laboriously employed below, looked up with a
white and scared face, and staggered back several feet; Mr. Bultitude
in a sudden panic ducked again.
Bill! Paul heard the porter say hoarsely, I'll take my Bible oath
I've never touched a drop this week, not to speak ofbut I've got 'em
again, Bill, I've got 'em again!
Got what agin? growled Bill. What's the matter now?
It's the jumps, Bill, gasped the other, the 'orrorsthey've got
me and no mistake. As I'm a livin' man, as I was a shovin' of that
there truck, I saw a impa gashly imp, Bill, stick its hugly 'ed over
the side and say, 'Tommy,' it ses, jest like thatit ses, 'Tommy, I
wants you!' I dursn't go near it, Bill. I'll get leave, and go 'ome and
lay upit glared at me so 'orrid, Bill, and grinnedugh! I'll take
the pledge after this 'ere, I willI'll go to chapel Sundays reg'lar!
Let's see if there ain't something there first, said the practical
Bill. Easy with the 'oss up there. Now then, here he stepped on the
box of the wheel and looked in. Shin out of this, whatever y'are, we
don't contrack to carry no imps on this lineWell, if ever ITommy,
old man, it's all right, y'ain't got 'em this time'ere's yer imp!
And, reaching over, he hauled out the wretched Paul by the scruff of
his neck in a state of utter collapse, and deposited him on the ground
That ain't your private kerridge, yer know, that ain'tthere
wasn't no bed made up there for you, that I know on. You ain't arter no
good, now; you're a wagabone! that's about your size, I can seewhat
d'yer mean by it, eh?
Shet yer 'ed, Bill, will yer? said Tommy, whose relief probably
softened his temper, this here's a young gent.
Young gent, or no young gent, replied Bill sententiously, he's no
call to go 'idin' in our waggins and givin' 'ard-workin' men a turn.
'Old 'im tight, Tommyhere's the luggage down on us.
Tommy held him fast with a grip of iron, while the other porters
coupled the trucks, and the luggage train lumbered away with its load.
After this the men slouched up and stood round their captive,
staring at him curiously.
Look here, my men, said Paul, I've run away from school, I want
to go on to town by the next train, and I took the liberty of hiding in
the truck, because the schoolmaster will be up here very soon to look
for meyou understand?
I understand, said Bill, and a nice young party you are.
II don't want to be caught, said Paul.
Naterally, assented Tommy sympathetically.
Well, can't you hide me somewhere where he won't see me? Come, you
can do that?
What do you say, Bill? asked Tommy.
What'll the Guv'nor say? said Bill dubiously.
I've got a little money, urged Paul. I'll make it worth your
Why didn't you say that afore? said Bill; the Guv'nor needn't
Here's half-a-sovereign between you, said Paul, holding it out.
That's something like a imp, said Tommy warmly; if all bogeys
acted as 'andsome as this 'ere, I don't care how often they shows
theirselves. We'll have a supper on this, mates, and drink young
Delirium Trimminses' jolly good 'ealth. You come along o' me, young
shaver, I'll stow you away right enough, and let you out when yer train
He led Paul on to the platform again and opened a sort of cupboard
or closet. That's where we keeps the brooms and lamp-rags, and them,
he said; it ain't what you may call tidy, but if I lock you in no one
won't trouble you.
It was perfectly dark and the rags smelt unpleasantly, but Mr.
Bultitude was very glad of this second ark of refuge, even though he
did bruise his legs over the broom-handles; he was gladder still
by-and-by, when he heard a rapid heavy footfall outside, and a voice he
knew only too well, saying, I want to see the station-master. Ha,
there he is. Good evening, station-master, you know meDr. Grimstone,
of Crichton House. I want you to assist me in a very unpleasant
affairthe fact is, one of my pupils has had the folly and wickedness
to run away.
You don't say so! said the station-master.
It's only too true, I'm sorry to say; he seemed happy and contented
enough, too; it's a black ungrateful business. But I must catch him,
you know; he must be about here somewhere, I feel sure. You don't
happen to have noticed a boy who looked as if he belonged to me? They
can't tell me at the booking-office.
How glad Paul was now he had made no inquiries of the
No, said the latter, I can't say I have, sir, but some of my men
may have come across him. I'll inquirehere, Ing, I want you; this
gentleman here has lost one of his boys, have you seen him?
What sort of a young gentleman was he to look at? Paul heard
Tommy's voice ask.
A bright intelligent-looking boy, said the Doctor, medium height,
about thirteen, with auburn hair.
No, I ain't seen no intelligent boys with median 'eight, said
Tommy slowly, not leastways, to speak to positive. What might he 'ave
on, now, besides his oburn 'air?
Black cloth jacket, with a wide collar, was the answer; grey
trousers, and a cloth cap with a leather peak.
Oh, said Tommy, then I see 'im.
'Bout arf an 'our since.
Do you know where he is now?
Well, said Tommy, to Paul's intense horror, for he was listening,
quaking, to every word of this conversation, which was held just
outside his cupboard door.
I dessay I could give a guess if I give my mind to it.
Out with it, Ing, now, if you know; no tricks, said the
station-master, who had apparently just turned to go away. Excuse me,
sir, but I've some matters in there to see after.
When he had gone, the Doctor said rather heatedly, Come, you're
keeping something from me, I will have it out of you. If I find
you have deceived me, I'll write to the manager and get you sent about
your businessyou'd better tell me the truth.
You see, said Tommy, very slowly, and reluctantly, that young
gent o' yourn was a gent.
I tried my very best to render him so, said the Doctor stiffly,
here is the resulthow did you discover he was one, pray?
'Cos he acted like a gent, said Tommy; he took and give me a
Well, I'll give you another, said the Doctor, if you can tell me
where he is.
Thankee, sir, don't you be afraidyou're a gent right enough, too,
though you do 'appen to be a schoolmaster.
Where is the unhappy boy? interrupted the Doctor.
Seems as if I was a roundin' on 'im, like, don't it a'most, sir?
said Tommy, with too evident symptoms of yielding in his voice. Paul
shook so in his terror that he knocked down a broom or two with a
clatter which froze his blood.
Not at all, said the Doctor, not at all, my good fellow;
you'reahemadvancing the cause of moral order.
Oh, ah, said Tommy, obviously open to conviction. Well, if I'm a
doin' all that, I can't go fur wrong, can I? And arter all, we mayn't
like schools or schoolmasters, not over above, but we can't get on
without 'em, I s'pose. But, look ye here, sirif I goes and tells you
where you can get hold of this here boy, you won't go and wallop him
now, will ye?
I can make no bargains, said the Doctor; I shall act on my own
That's it, said Tommy, unaccountably relieved, spoke like a
merciful Christian gen'leman; if you don't go actin' on nothing more
nor your discretion, you can't hurt him much, I take it. Well then,
since you've spoke out fair, I don't mind putting you on his track
If the door of the cupboard had not been locked, Paul would
undoubtedly have burst out and yielded himself up, to escape the
humiliation of being sold like this by a mercenary and treacherous
porter. As it was, he had to wait till the inevitable words should be
Well, you see, went on Tommy, very slowly, as if struggling with
the remnants of a conscience, it was like this herehe comes up to
me, and saysyour young gen'leman, I meansays he, 'Porter, I wants
to 'ide, I've run away.' And I says to him, says I, 'It's no use your
'anging about 'ere,' I says, ''cause, if you do, your guv'nor (meanin'
no offence to you, sir) 'll be comin' up and ketchin' of you on the
'op.' 'Right you are, porter,' says he to me, 'what do you advise?' he
says. 'Well,' I says, 'I don't know as I'm right in givin' you no
advice at all, havin' run away from them as has the care on you,' I
says; 'but if I was a young gen'leman as didn't want to be
ketched, I should just walk on to Dufferton; it ain't on'y three mile
or so, and you'll 'ave time for to do it before the up-train comes
along there.' 'Thankee, porter,' he says, 'I'll do that,' and away he
bolts, and for anything I know, he's 'arf way there by this time.
A fly! shouted the Doctor excitedly, when Tommy had come to the
end of his veracious account. I'll catch the young rascal nowwho has
a good horse? Davis, I'll take you. Five shillings if you reach
Dufferton before the up-train. Take the
The rest was lost in the banging of the fly door and the rumble of
wheels; the terrible man had been got safely off on a wrong scent, and
Paul fell back amongst the lumber in his closet, faint with the
suspense and relief.
Presently he heard Tommy's chuckling whisper through the keyhole:
Are you all right in there, sir? he's safe enough noworf on a pretty
dance. You didn't think I was goin' to tell on ye, did ye now? I ain't
quite sech a cur as that comes to, particular when a young gent saves
me from the 'orrors, and gives me a 'arf-suffering. I'll see you
through, you make yourself easy about that.
Half an hour went slowly by for Mr. Bultitude in his darkness and
solitude. The platform gradually filled, as he could tell by the tread
of feet, the voices, and the scent of cigars, and at last, welcome
sound, he heard the station bell ringing for the up-train.
It ran in the next minute, shaking the cupboard in which Paul
crouched, till the brushes rattled. There was the usual blind hurry and
confusion outside as it stopped. Paul waited impatiently inside. The
time passed, and still no one came to let him out. He began to grow
alarmed. Could Tommy have forgotten him? Had he been sent away by some
evil chance at the critical moment? Two or three times his excited
fancy heard the fatal whistle sound for departure. Would he be left
behind after all?
But the next instant the door was noiselessly unlocked. Couldn't do
it afore, said honest Tommy. Our guv'nor would have seen me. Now's
your time. Here's a empty first-class coach I've kept for ye. In with
He hoisted Paul up the high footboard to an empty compartment, and
shut the door, leaving him to sink down on the luxurious cushions in
speechless and measureless content. But Tommy had hardly done so before
he reappeared and looked in. I say, he suggested, if I was you, I'd
get under the seat before you gets to Dufferton, otherways your
guv'nor'll be spottin' you. I'll lock you in.
I'll get under now; some one might see me here, said Paul; and,
too anxious for safety to thank his preserver, he crawled under the
low, blue-cushioned seat, which left just room enough for him to lie
there in a very cramped and uncomfortable position. Still he need not
stay there after the train had once started, except for five minutes or
so at Dufferton.
Unfortunately he had not been long under the seat before he heard
two loud imperious voices just outside the carriage door.
Porter! guard! Hi, somebody! open this door, will you; it's
This way, sir, he heard Tommy's voice say outside. Plenty of room
I don't want to go higher up. I'll go here. Just open it at once, I
The door was opened reluctantly, and two middle-aged men came in.
Always take the middle carriage of a train, said the first. Safest
in any accident, y'know. Never heard of a middle carriage of a train
getting smashed up, to speak of.
The other sat heavily down just over Paul, with a comfortable grunt,
and the train started, Paul feeling naturally annoyed by this
intrusion, as it compelled him to remain in seclusion for the whole of
the journey. Still, he thought, it is lucky that I had time to get
under here before they came in; it would have seemed odd if I had done
it afterwards. And he resigned himself to listen to the conversation
What was it we were talking about just now? began the first. Let
me see. Ah! I remember. Yes; it was a very painful thingvery, indeed,
I assure you.
There is a certain peculiar and uncomfortable suspicion that attacks
most of us at times, which cannot fairly be set down wholly to
self-consciousness or an exaggerated idea of our own importance. I mean
the suspicion that a partly-heard conversation must have ourselves for
its subject. More often than not, of course, it proves utterly
unfounded, but once in a way, like most presentiments, it finds itself
Mr. Bultitude, though he failed to recognise either of the voices,
was somehow persuaded that the conversation had something to do with
himself, and listened with eager attention.
Yes, the speaker continued; he was never, according to what I
hear, a man of any extraordinary capacity, but he was always spoken of
as a man of standing in the City, doing a safe business, not a risky
one, and so on, you know. So, of course, his manner, when I called,
shocked me all the more.
Ah! said the other. Was he violent or insulting, then?
No, no! I can only describe his conduct as eccentricwhat one
might call reprehensibly eccentric and extravagant. I didn't call
exactly in the way of business, but about a poor young fellow in my
house, who is, I fear, rather far gone in consumption, and, knowing he
was a Life Governor, y'know, I thought he might give me a letter for
the hospital. Well, when I got up to Mincing Lane
Paul started. It was as he had feared, then; they were
speaking of him!
When I got there, I sent in my card with a message that, if he was
engaged or anything, I would take the liberty of calling at his private
house, and so on. But they said he would see me. The clerk who showed
me in said: 'You'll find him a good deal changed, if you knew him, sir.
We're very uneasy about him here,' which prepared me for something out
of the common. Well, I went into a sort of inner room, and there he
was, in his shirt-sleeves, busy over some abomination he was cooking at
the stove, with the office-boy helping him! I never was so taken aback
in my life. I said something about calling another time, but
Paul groaned. The blow had fallen. Well, it was better to be
prepared and know the worst.
Bultitude says, just like a great awkward schoolboy, y'know,
'What's your name? How d'ye do? Have some hardbake, it's just done?'
Fancy finding a man in his position cooking toffee in the middle of the
day, and offering it to a perfect stranger!
Softening of the brainmust be, said the other.
I fear so. Well, he asked what I wanted, and I told him, and he
actually said he never did any business now, except sign his name where
his clerks told him. He'd worked hard all his life, he said, and he was
tired of it. Business was, I understood him to say, 'all rot!'
Then he wouldn't promise me votes or give me a letter or anything,
without consulting his head clerk; he seemed to know nothing whatever
about it himself, and when that was over, he asked me a quantity of
frivolous questions which appeared to have a sort of catch in them, as
far as I could gather, and he was exceedingly angry when I wouldn't
What kind of questions?
Well, really I hardly know. I believe he wanted to know whether I
would rather be a bigger fool than I looked or look a bigger fool than
I was, and he pressed me quite earnestly to repeat some foolishness
after him, about 'being a gold key,' when he said 'he was a gold lock,'
I was very glad to get away from him, it was so distressing.
They tell me he has begun to speculate, too, lately, said the
other. You see his name about in some very queer things. It's a
pitiful affair altogether.
Paul writhed under his seat with shame. How could he, even if he
succeeded in ousting Dick and getting back his old self, how could he
ever hold up his head again after this?
Why, Dick must be mad. Even a schoolboy would have had more caution
when so much depended on it. But none would suspect the real cause of
the change. These horrible tales were no doubt being circulated
The conversation fell back into a less personal channel again after
this; they talked of risks, of some one who had only been writing a
year and was doing seven thousand a week, of losses they had been on,
and of the uselessness of writing five hundred on everything, and
while at this point the train slackened and stoppedthey had reached
There was an opening of doors all along the train, and sounds of
some inquiry and answer at each. The voices became audible at length,
and, as he had expected, Paul found that the Doctor, not having
discovered him on the platform, was making a systematic search of the
train, evidently believing that he had managed to slip in somewhere
It was a horrible moment when the door of his compartment was flung
open and a stream of ice-cold air rushed under the blue cloth which,
fortunately for Paul, hung down almost to the floor.
Some one held a lantern up outside, and by its rays Paul saw from
behind the hanging the upper half of Dr. Grimstone appear, very pale
and polite, at the doorway. He remained there for some moments without
speaking, carefully examining every corner of the compartment.
The two men on the seats drew their wraps about them and shivered,
until at length one said rather testilyGet in, sir; kindly get in if
you're coming on, please. This draught is most unpleasant!
I do not propose to travel by this train, sir, said the Doctor;
but, as a person entrusted with the care of youth, permit me to
inquire whether you have seen (or, it may be assisted to conceal) a
small boy of intelligent appearance
Why should we conceal small boys of intelligent appearance about
us, pray? demanded the man who had described his visit to Mincing
Lane. And may we ask you to shut that door, and make any
communications you wish to make through the window, or else come in and
That's not an answer to my question, sir, retorted the Doctor. I
notice you carefully decline to say whether you have seen a boy. I
consider your manner suspicious, sir; and I shall insist on searching
this carriage through and through till I find that boy!
Mr. Bultitude rolled himself up close against the partition at these
Guard, guard! shouted the first gentleman. Come here. Here's a
violent person who will search this carriage for something he has lost.
I won't be inconvenienced in this way without any reason whatever! He
says we're hiding a boy in here!
Guard! said the Doctor, quite as angrily, I insist upon looking
under these seats before you start the train. I've looked through every
other carriage and he must be in here. Gentlemen, let me pass, I'll get
him if I have to travel in this compartment to town with you!
For peace and quietness sake, gentlemen, said the guard, let him
look round, just to ease his mind. Lend me your stick a minute, sir,
please. I'll turn him out if he's anywhere about this here
And with this he pulled Dr. Grimstone down from the footboard and
mounted it himself; after which he began to rummage about under the
seats with the Doctor's heavy stick.
Every lunge found out some tender part in Mr. Bultitude's person and
caused him exquisite torture; but he clenched his teeth hard to prevent
a sound, while he thought each fresh dig must betray his whereabouts.
There, said the guard at last; there really ain't no one there,
sir, you see. I've felt everywhere andHello, I certainly did feel
something just then, gentlemen! he added, in an undertone, after a
lunge which took all the breath out of Paul's body. All was lost now!
You touch that again with that confounded stick if you dare! said
one of the passengers. That's a parcel of mine. I won't have you
poking holes through it in that way. Don't tell that lunatic behind
you, he'll be wanting it opened to see if his boy's inside! Now perhaps
you'll let us alone!
Well, sir, said the guard at last to the Doctor, as he withdrew,
he ain't in there. There's nothing under any of the seats. Your boy'll
be comin' on by the next train, most likelythe 8.40. We're all
Good night, sir, said the first passenger as he leant out of the
window, to the baffled schoolmaster on the platform. You've put us to
all this inconvenience for nothing, and in the most offensive way too.
I hope you won't find your boy till you're in a better temper, for his
If I had you out on this platform, sir, shouted the angry Doctor,
I'd horsewhip you for that insult. I believe the boy's there and you
know it. I
But the train swept off and, to Paul's joy and thankfulness, soon
left the Doctor, gesticulating and threatening, miles behind it.
What a violent fellow for a schoolmaster, eh? said one of Paul's
companions, when they were fairly off again. I wasn't going to have
him turning the cushions inside out here; we shouldn't have settled
down again before we got in!
No; and if the guard hasn't, as it is, injured that Indian shawl in
my parcel, I shall beWhy, bless my soul, that parcel's not under
the seat after all! It's up in the rack. I remember putting it there
The guard must have fancied he felt something; and yetLook
here, Goldicutt; just feel under here with your feet. It certainly does
seem as if something soft waseh?
Mr. Goldicutt accordingly explored Paul's ribs with his boot for
some moments, which was very painful.
Upon my word, he said at last, it really does seem very like it.
It's not hard enough for a bag or a hat-box. It yields distinctly when
you kick it. Can you fetch it out with your umbrella, do you think?
Shall we tell the guard at the next? Lord, it's coming out of its
own accord. It's a dog! No, my starsit's the boy, after all!
For Paul, alarmed at the suggestion about the guard, once more felt
inclined to risk the worst and reveal himself. Begrimed with coal,
smeared with whitewash, and covered with dust and flue, he crawled
slowly out and gazed imploringly up at his fellow-passengers.
After the first shock of surprise they lay back in their seats and
laughed till they cried.
Why, you young rascal! they said, when they recovered breath, you
don't mean to say you've been under there the whole time?
I have indeed, said Paul. II didn't like to come out before.
And are you the boy all this fuss was about? Yes? And we kept the
schoolmaster off without knowing it! Why, this is splendid, capital!
You're something like a boy, you little dog, you! This is the best joke
I've heard for many a day!
I hope, said Paul, I haven't inconvenienced you. I could not help
Inconvenienced us? Gad, your schoolmaster came very near
inconveniencing us and you too. But there, he won't trouble any of us
now. To think of our swearing by all our gods there was no boy in here,
and vowing he shouldn't come in, while you were lying down there under
the seat all the time! Why, it's lovely! The boy's got pluck and
manners too. Shake hands, young gentleman, you owe us no apologies. I
haven't had such a laugh for many a day!
Then youyou won't give me up? faltered poor Paul.
Well, said the one who was called Goldicutt, and who was a jovial
old gentleman with a pink face and white whiskers, we're not exactly
going to take the trouble of getting out at the next station, and
bringing you back to Dufferton, just to oblige that hot-tempered master
of yours, you know; he hasn't been so particularly civil as to deserve
But if he were to telegraph and get some one to stop me at St.
Pancras? said Paul nervously.
Ah, he might do that, to be suresharp boy thiswell, as we've
gone so far, I suppose we must go through with the business now and
smuggle the young scamp past the detectives, eh, Travers?
The younger man addressed assented readily enough, for the Doctor
had been so unfortunate as to prejudice them both from the first by his
unjustifiable suspicions, and it is to be feared they had no scruples
in helping to outwit him.
Then they noticed the pitiable state Mr. Bultitude was in, and he
had to give them a fair account of his escape and subsequent
adventures, at which even their sympathy could not restrain delighted
shouts of laughterthough Paul himself saw little enough in it all to
laugh at; they asked his name, which he thought more prudent, for
various reasons, to give as Jones, and other details, which I am
afraid he invented as he went on, and altogether they reached Kentish
Town in a state of high satisfaction with themselves and their protégé.
At Kentish Town there was one more danger to be encountered, for
with the ticket collector there appeared one of the station inspectors.
Beg pardon, gentlemen, said the latter, peering curiously in, but
does that young gent in the corner happen to belong to either of you?
The white-whiskered gentleman seemed a little flustered at this
downright inquiry, but the other was more equal to the occasion. Do
you hear that, Johnny, my boy, he said, to Paul (whom they had managed
during the journey to brush and scrape into something approaching
respectability), they want to know if you belong to me. I suppose
you'll allow a son to belong to his father to a certain extent, eh? he
asked the inspector.
The man apologised for what he conceived to be a mistake. We've
orders to look out for a young gent about the size of yours, sir, he
explained; no offence meant, I'm sure, and he went away satisfied.
A very few minutes more and the train rolled in to the terminus,
under the same wide arch beneath which Paul had stood, helpless and
bewildered, a week ago.
Now my advice to you, young man, said Mr. Goldicutt, as he put
Paul into a cab, and pressed half-a-sovereign into his unwilling hand,
is to go straight home to Papa and tell him all about it. I daresay he
won't be very hard on youhere's my card, refer him to me if you like.
Good-night, my boy, good-night, and good luck to you. Gad, the best
joke I've had for years!
And the cab rolled away, leaving them standing chuckling on the
platform, and, as Paul found himself plunging once more into the
welcome roar and rattle of London streets, he forgot the difficulties
and dangers that might yet lie before him in the thought that at last
he was beyond the frontier, and, for the first time since he had
slipped through the playground gate, he breathed freely.
But homewardhomewhat home? had he a home?
His homehe walk'd;
Then down the long street having slowly stolen,
His heart foreshadowing all calamity,
His eyes upon the stones, he reached his home.
Paul had been careful, whilst in the hearing of his friends, to give
the cabman a fictitious address, but as soon as he reached the Euston
Road, he stopped the man and ordered him to put him down at the church
near the south end of Westbourne Terrace, for he dared not drive up
openly to his own door.
At last he found himself standing safely on the pavement, looking
down the long line of yellow lamps of his own terrace, only a few
hundred yards from home.
But though his purpose was now within easy reach, his spirits were
far from high; his anxiety had returned with tenfold power; he felt no
eagerness or exultation; on the contrary, the task he had set himself
had never before seemed so hopeless, so insurmountable.
He stood for some time by the railing of the church, which was
lighted up for evening service, listening blankly to the solemn drone
of the organ within, unable to summon up resolution to move from the
spot and present himself to his unsuspecting family.
It was a cold night, with a howling wind, and high in the blue black
sky fleecy clouds were coursing swiftly along; he obliged himself to
set out at last, and walked down the flags towards his house, shivering
as much from nervousness as cold.
There was a dance somewhere in the terrace that evening, a large
one; as far as he could see there were close ranks of carriages with
blazing lamps, and he even fancied he could hear the shouts of the
link-boys and the whistles summoning cabs.
As he came nearer, he had a hideous suspicion, which soon became a
certainty, that the entertainment was at his own house; worse still, it
was of a kind and on a scale calculated to shock and horrify any
prudent householder and father of a family.
The balcony above the portico was positively hung with gaudy Chinese
lanterns, and there were even some strange sticks and shapes up in one
corner that looked suspiciously like fireworks. Fireworks in Westbourne
Terrace! What would the neighbours think or do?
Between the wall which separates the main road from the terrace and
the street front there were no less than four piano-organs, playing, it
is to be feared, by express invitation; and there was the usual crowd
of idlers and loungers standing about by the awning stretched over the
portico, listening to the music and loud laughter which came from the
brilliantly lighted upper rooms.
Paul remembered then, too late, that Barbara in that memorable
letter of hers had mentioned a grand children's party as being in
contemplation. Dick had held his tongue about it that morning; and he
himself had not thought it was to be so soon.
For an instant he felt almost inclined to turn away and give the
whole thing up in sick despaireven to return to Market Rodwell and
brave the Doctor's anger; for how could he hope to explain matters to
his family and servants, or get the Garudâ Stone safely into his hands
again before all these guests, in the whirl and tumult of an evening
And yet he dared not, after all, go back to Crichton Housethat was
too terrible an alternative, and he obviously could not roam the world
to any extent, a runaway schoolboy to all appearance, and with less
than a sovereign in his pocket!
After a short struggle, he felt he must make his way in, watch and
wait, and leave the rest to chance. It was his evil fate, after all,
that had led him on to make his escape on this night of all others, and
had allowed him to come through so much, only to be met with these
unforeseen complications just when he might have imagined the worst was
He forced his way through the staring crowd, and went down the steps
into the area; for he naturally shrank from braving the front door,
with its crowd of footmen and hired waiters.
He found the door in the basement open, which was fortunate, and
slipped quietly through the pantry, intending to reach the hall by the
kitchen stairs. But here another check met him. The glass door which
led to the stairs happened to be shut, and he heard voices in the
kitchen, which convinced him that if he wished to escape notice he must
wait quietly in the darkness until the door was opened for him,
whenever that might be.
The door from the pantry to the kitchen was partly open, however,
and Mr. Bultitude could not avoid hearing everything that passed there,
although every fresh word added to his uneasiness, until at last he
would have given worlds to escape from his involuntary position of
There were only two persons just then in the kitchen: his cook, who,
still in her working dress, was refreshing herself after her labours
over the supper with a journal of some sort, and the housemaid, who, in
neat gala costume, was engaged in fastening a pin more securely in her
They haven't give me a answer yet, Eliza, said the cook, looking
up from her paper.
Lor, cook! said Eliza, you couldn't hardly expect it, seeing you
only wrote on Friday.
No more I did, Eliza. You see it on'y began to come into my mind
sudden like this last week. I'm sure I no more dreamt. But they've
answered a lady who's bin in much the same situation as me aperiently.
You just 'ark to this a minute. And she proceeded to read from her
paper: 'Lady Bird.You ask us (1) what are the signs by which
you may recognise the first dawnings of your lover's affection. On so
delicate a matter we are naturally averse from advising you; your own
heart must be your best guide. But perhaps we may mention a few of the
most usual and infallible symptoms'What sort of a thing is a symptim,
A symptim, cook, explained Eliza, is somethink wrong with the
inside. Her at my last place in Cadogan Square had them uncommon bad.
She was what they call æsthetical, pore young thing. Them infallible
ones are always the worst.
It don't seem to make sense though, Eliza, objected cook
doubtfully. Hear how it goes on: 'Infallible symptoms. If you have
truly inspired him with a genuine and lasting passion' (don't he write
beautiful?) 'passion, he will continually haunt those places in which
you are most likely to be found' (I couldn't tell you the times
master's bin down in my kitching this last week); 'he will appear
awkward and constrained in your presence' (anything more awkward than
master I never set eyes on. He's knocked down one of the best
porcelain vegetables this very afternoon!); 'he will beg for any little
favours, some trifle, it may be, made by your own hand' (master's
always a-asking if I've got any of those doughnuts to give away); 'and,
if granted, he will treasure them in secret with pride and rapture' (I
don't think master kep' any of them doughnuts though, Eliza. I saw him
swaller five; but you couldn't treasure a doughnut, not to
mentionI'll make him a pincushion when I've time, and see what he
does with it). 'If you detect all these indications of liking in the
person you suspect of paying his addresses to you, you may safely
reckon upon bringing him to your feet in a very short space of time.
(2) Yes, fuller's earth will make them exquisitely white.'
There, Eliza! said cook, with some pride, when she had finished;
if it had been meant for me it couldn't have been clearer. Ain't it
written nice? And on'y to think of my bringing master to my feet! It
seems almost too much for a cook to expect!
I wouldn't say so, cook; I wouldn't. Have some proper pride. Don't
let him think he's only to ask and have! Why, in the London Journal
last week there was a dook as married a governess; and I should 'ope as
a cook ranked above a governess. Nor yet master ain't a dook; he's only
in the City! But are you sure he's not only a-trifling with your
affections, cook? He's bin very affable and pleasant with all of us
It ain't for me to speak too positive, Eliza, said cook almost
bashfully, nor to lay bare the feelings of a bosom, beyond what's
right and proper. You're young yet, Eliza, and don't understand these
thingsleastways, it's to be hoped not (Eliza having apparently
tossed her head); but do you remember that afternoon last week as
master stayed at home a-playin' games with the children? I was a-goin'
upstairs to fetch my thimble, and there, on the bedroom landin', was
master all alone, with one of Master Dick's toy-guns in his 'and, and a
old slouch 'at on his head.
'Have you got a pass, cook?' he says, and my 'art came right up
into my mouth, he looked that severe and lofty at me. I thought he was
put out about something.
I said I didn't know as it was required, but I could get one, I
says, not knowing what he was alludin' to all the same.
But he says, quite soft and tender-like, (here Paul shivered with
shame), 'No, you needn't do that, cook, there ain't any occasion for
it; only,' he says, 'if you haven't got no pass, you'll have to give me
a kiss, you know, cook!' I thought I should have sunk through the
stairs, I was that overcome. I saw through his rouge with half an eye.
Why, he said the same to me, said Eliza, only I had a pass, as
luck had it, which Miss Barbara give me. I'd ha' boxed his ears if he'd
tried it, too, master or no master!
You talk light, Eliza, said the cook sentimentally, but you
weren't there to see. It wasn't only the words, it was the way he said
it, and the 'ug he gave me at the time. It was as good as a proposial.
And, I tell you, whatever you may sayand mark my wordsI 'ave
Then, if I was you, cook, said Eliza, I'd try if I could get him
to speak out plain in writing; then, whatever came of it, there'd be as
good as five hundred pounds in your pockets.
Love-letters! cried the cook, why, Lord love you, ElizaWhy,
William, how you made me jump! I thought you was up seein' to the
The pastrycook's man is looking after all that, Jane, said
Boaler's voice. I've been up outside the droring-room all this time,
lookin' at the games goin' on in there. It's as good as a play to see
the way as master is a unbendin' of himself, and such a out and out
stiff-un as he used to be, too! But it ain't what I like to see in a
respectable house. I'm glad I give warning. It doesn't do for a man in
my position to compromise his character by such goings on. I never see
anything like it in any families I lived with before. Just come up and
see for yourself. You needn't mind about cleanin' of yourselfthey
won't see you.
So the cook allowed herself to be persuaded by Boaler, and the two
went up to the hall, and, to Mr. Bultitude's intense relief, forgot to
close the glazed door which cut him off from the staircase.
As he followed them upstairs at a cautious interval, and thought
over what he had just so unwillingly overheard, he felt as one who had
just been subjected to a moral showerbath. That dreadful woman! he
groaned. Who would have dreamed that she would get such horrible ideas
into her head? I shall never be able to look either of those women in
the face again: they will both have to goand she made such excellent
soup, too. I do hope that miserable Dick has not been fool enough to
write to herbut no, that's too absurd.
But more than ever he began to wish that he had stayed in the
When he reached the hall he stood there for some moments in anxious
deliberation over his best course of proceeding. His main idea was to
lie in wait somewhere for Dick, and try the result of an appeal to his
better feelings to acknowledge his outcast parent and abdicate
If that failed, and there was every reason to expect that it would
fail, he must threaten to denounce him before the whole party. It would
cause a considerable scandal no doubt, and be extremely repugnant to
his own feelings, but still he must do it, or frighten Dick by
threatening to do it, and at all hazards he must contrive during the
interview to snatch or purloin the magic stone; without that he was
He looked round him: the study was piled up with small boys' hats
and coats, and in one corner was a kind of refined bar, where till
lately a trim housemaid had been dispensing coffee and weak lemonade;
she might return at any moment, he would not be safe there.
Nor would the dining-room be more secluded, for in it there was an
elaborate supper being laid out by the waiters which, as far as he
could see through the crack in the door, consisted chiefly of lobsters,
trifle, and pink champagne. He felt a grim joy at the sight, more than
he would suffer for this night's festivities.
As he stole about, with a dismal sense of the unfitness of his
sneaking about his own house in this guilty fashion, he became
gradually aware of the scent of a fine cigar, one of his own special
Cabañas. He wondered who had the impudence to trespass on his
cigar-chest; it could hardly be one of the children.
He traced the scent to a billiard room which he had built out at the
side of the house, which was a corner one, and going down to the door
opened it sharply and walked in.
Comfortably imbedded in the depths of a long well-padded lounging
chair, with a spirit case and two or three bottles of soda water at his
elbow, sat a man who was lazily glancing through the Field with
his feet resting on the mantelpiece, one on each side of the blazing
fire. He was a man of about the middle size, with a face rather bronzed
and reddened by climate, a nose slightly aquiline and higher in colour,
quick black eyes with an uneasy glance in them, bushy black whiskers,
more like the antiquated Dundreary type than modern fashion permits,
and a wide flexible mouth.
Paul knew him at once, though he had not seen him for some years; it
was Paradine, his disreputable brother-in-lawthe Uncle Marmaduke
who, by importing the mysterious Garudâ Stone, had brought all these
woes upon him; he noticed at once that his appearance was unusually
prosperous, and that the braided smoking coat he wore over his evening
clothes was new and handsome. No wonder, he thought bitterly, the
fellow has been living on me for a week! He stood by the cue-rack
looking at him for some time, and then he said with a cold ironic
dignity that (if he had known it) came oddly from his boyish lips: I
hope you are making yourself quite comfortable?
Marmaduke put down his cigar and stared: Uncommonly attentive and
polite of you to inquire, he said at last, with a dubious smile, which
showed a row of very white teeth, whoever you are. If it will relieve
your mind at all to know, young man, I'm happy to say I am tolerably
II concluded as much, said Paul, nearly choked with rage.
You've been very nicely brought up, said Uncle Marmaduke, I can
see that at a glance. So you've come in here, like me, eh? because the
children bore you, and you want a quiet gossip over the world in
general? Sit down then, take a cigar, if you don't think it will make
you very unwell. I shouldn't recommend it myself, you know, before
supperbut you're a man of the world and know what's good for you.
Come along, enjoy yourself till you find yourself getting queerthen
Mr. Bultitude had always detested the manthere was an underbred
swagger and familiarity in his manner that made him indescribably
offensive; just now he seemed doubly detestable, and yet Paul by a
strong effort succeeded in controlling his temper.
He could not afford to make enemies just then, and objectionable as
the man was, his astuteness made him a valuable ally; he determined,
without considering the risk of making such a confident, to tell him
all and ask his advice and help.
Don't you know me, Paradine?
I don't think I have the privilegeyou're one of Miss Barbara's
numerous young friends, I suppose? and yet, now I look at you, you
don't seem to be exactly got up for an evening party; there's something
in your voice, too, I ought to know.
You ought, said Paul, with a gulp. My name is Paul Bultitude!
To be sure! cried Marmaduke. By Jove, then, you're my young
nephew, don't you know; I'm your long-lost uncle, my boy, I am indeed
(I'll excuse you from coming to my arms, however; I never was good at
family embraces). But, I say, you little rascal, you've never been
asked to these festivities, you ought to be miles away, fast asleep in
your bed at school. What in the name of wonder are you doing here?
I'veleft school, said Paul.
So I perceive. Sulky because they left you out of all this, eh?
Thought you'd turn up in the middle of the banquet, like the spectre
bridegroom'the worms they crawled in, and the worms they crawled
out,' eh? Well, I like your pluck, but, ahemI'm afraid you'll find
they've rather an unpleasant way of laying your kind of apparitions.
Never mind about that, said Paul hurriedly; I have something I
must tell youI've no time to lose. I'm a desperate man!
You are, Paradine assented with a loud laugh, oh, you are indeed!
'a desperate man.' Capital! a stern chase, eh? the schoolmaster close
behind with the birch! It's quite exciting, you know, but, seriously,
I'm very much afraid you'll catch it!
If, began Mr. Bultitude in great embarrassment, if I was to tell
you that I was not myself at allbut somebody else, ain fact, an
entirely different person from what I seem to you to beI suppose you
I beg your pardon, said his brother-in-law politely, I don't
think I quite catch the idea.
When I assure you now, solemnly, as I stand here before you, that I
am not the miserable boy whose form I am condemned toto wear, you'll
say it is incredible?
Not at allby no means, I quite believe you. Only (really it's a
mere detail), but I should rather like to know, if you're not that
particular boy, what other boy you may happen to be. You'll forgive my
I'm not a boy at allI'm your own unhappy brother-in-law, Paul!
You don't believe me, I see.
Oh, pardon me, it's perfectly clear! you're not your own son, but
your own fatherit's a little confusing at first, but no doubt common
enough. I'm glad you mentioned it, though.
Go on, said Paul bitterly, make light of ityou fancy you are
being very clever, but you will find out the truth in time!
Not without external assistance, I'm afraid, said Paradine calmly.
A more awful little liar for your age I never saw!
I'm tired of this, said Paul. Only listen to reason and common
Only give me a chance.
I tell you, protested Paul earnestly, it's the sober awful
truthI'm not a boy, it's years since I was a boyI'm a middle-aged
man, thrust into this, this humiliating form.
Don't say that, murmured the other; it's an excellent fitvery
becoming, I assure you.
Do you want to drive me mad with your clumsy jeers? cried Paul.
Look at me. Do I speak, do I behave, like an ordinary schoolboy?
I really hope notfor the sake of the rising generation, said
Uncle Marmaduke, chuckling at his own powers of repartee.
You are very jaunty to-dayyou look as if you were well off, said
Paul slowly. I remember a time when a certain bill was presented to
me, drawn by you, and appearing to be accepted (long before I ever saw
it) by me. I consented to meet it for my poor Maria's sake, and because
to disown my signature would have ruined you for life. Do you remember
how you went down on your knees in my private room and swore you would
reform and be a credit to your family yet? You weren't quite so well
off, or so jaunty then, unless I am very much mistaken.
These words had an extraordinary effect upon Uncle Marmaduke; he
turned ashy white, and his quick eyes shifted restlessly as he half
rose from his chair and threw away his unfinished cigar.
You young hound! he said, breathing hard and speaking under his
breath. How did you get hold of thatthat lying story? Your father
must have let it out! Why do you bring up bygones like this?
Youyou're a confounded, disagreeable little prig! Who told you to
play an ill-natured trick of this sort on an uncle, who may have been
wild and reckless in his youthwas in factbut who never, never
misused his relation towards you asas an uncle?
How did I get hold of the story? said Paul, observing the
impression he had made. Do you think if I were really a boy of
thirteen I should know as much about you as I do? Do you want to know
more? Ask, if you dare! Shall I tell you how it was you left your army
coach without going up for examination? Will you have the story of your
career in my old friend Parkinson's counting-house, or the real reason
of your trip to New York, or what it was that made your father add that
codicil, cutting you off with a set of engravings of the 'Rake's
Progress,' and a guinea to pay for framing them? I can tell you all
about it, if you care to hear.
No! shrieked Paradine, I won't listen. When you grow up, ask your
father to buy you a cheap Society journal. You're cut out for an editor
of one. It doesn't interest me.
Do you believe my story or not? asked Paul.
I don't know. Who could believe it? said the other sullenly. How
can you possibly account for it?
Do you remember giving Maria a little sandal-wood box with a small
stone in it? said Paul.
I have some recollection of giving her something of that kind. A
curiosity, wasn't it?
I wish I had never seen it. That infernal stone, Paradine, has done
all this to me. Did no one tell you it was supposed to have any magic
Why, now I think of it, that old black rascal, Bindabun Doss, did
try to humbug me with some such story; said it was believed to be a
talisman, but the secret was lost. I thought it was just his stingy way
of trying to make the rubbish out as something priceless, as it ought
to have been, considering all I did for the old ruffian.
You told Maria it was a talisman. Bindabun what's-his-name was
right. It is a talisman of the deadliest sort. I'll soon convince you,
if you will only hear me out.
And then, in white-hot wrath and indignation, Mr. Bultitude began to
tell the story I have already attempted to sketch here, dwelling
bitterly on Dick's heartless selfishness and cruelty, and piteously on
his own incredible sufferings, while Uncle Marmaduke, lolling back in
his armchair with an attempt (which was soon abandoned) to retain a
smile of amused scepticism on his face, heard him out in complete
silence and with all due gravity.
Indeed, Paul's manner left him no room for further unbelief. His
tale, wild and improbable as it was, was too consistent and elaborate
for any schoolboy to have invented, and, besides, the imposture would
have been so entirely purposeless.
When his brother-in-law had come to the end of his sad history,
Paradine was silent for some time. It was some relief to know that the
darkest secrets of his life had not been ferreted out by a phenomenally
sharp nephew; but the change in the situation was not without its
drawbacksit remained to be seen how it might affect himself. He
already saw his reign in Westbourne Terrace threatened with a speedy
determination unless he played his cards well.
Well, he said at last, with a swift, keen glance at Paul, who sat
anxiously waiting for his next words; suppose I were to say that I
think there may be something in this story of yours, what then? What is
it you want me to do for you?
Why, said Paul, with all you owe to me, now you know the horrible
injustice I have had to bear, you surely don't mean to say that you
won't help me to right myself?
And if I did help you, what then?
Why, I should be able to recover all I have lost, of course, said
Mr. Bultitude. He thought his brother-in-law had grown very dull.
Ah, but I mean, what's to become of me?
You? repeated Paul (he had not thought of that). Well, hum, from
what I know and what you know that I know about your past life, you
can't expect me to encourage you to remain here?
No, said Uncle Marmaduke. Of course not; very right and proper.
But, said Paul, willing to make all reasonable concessions,
anything I can do to advance your prospectssuch as paying your
passage out to New York, you know, and so onI should be very ready to
Thank you! said the other.
And even, if necessary, provide you with a small fund to start
afresh uponhonestly, said Paul; you will not find me difficult to
It's a dazzling proposition, remarked Paradine drily. You have
such an alluring way of putting things. But the fact, is, you'll hardly
believe it, but I'm remarkably well off here. I am indeed. Your son,
you know, though not you (except as a mere matter of form), really
makes, as they say of the marmalade in the advertisements, an admirable
substitute. I doubt, I do assure you, whether you yourself would have
received me with quite the same warmth and hospitality I have met with
So do I, said Paul; very much.
Just so; for, without your admirable business capacity and
extraordinary firmness of character, you know, he has, if you'll excuse
my saying so, a more open guileless nature, a more entire and touching
faith in his fellow-man and brother-in-law, than were ever yours.
To say that to me, said Paul hotly, is nothing less than sheer
My dear Paul (it does seem deuced odd to be talking to a little
shrimp like you as a grown-up brother-in-law. I shall get used to it
presently, I daresay). I flatter myself I am a man of the world. We're
dealing with one another now, as the lawyers have it, at arm's length.
Just put yourself in my place (you're so remarkably good at putting
yourself in other people's places, you know). Look at the thing from my
point of view. Accidentally dropping in at your offices to negotiate
(if I could) a small temporary loan from anyone I chanced to meet on
the premises, I find myself, to my surprise, welcomed with effusion
into what I then imagined to be your arms. More than that, I was
invited here for an indefinite time, all my little eccentricities
unmentioned, overlooked. I was deeply touched (it struck me, I confess,
at one time that you must be touched too), but I made the best use of
my opportunities. I made hay while the sun shone.
Do you mean to make me lose my temper? interrupted Paul. It will
not take much more.
I have no objection. I find men as a rule easier to deal with when
they have once lost their temper, their heads so often go too. But to
return: a man with nerve and his fair share of brains, like myself,
only wants a capitalist (he need not be a millionaire) at his back to
conquer the world. It's not by any means my first campaign, and I've
had my reverses, but I see victory in my grasp, sir, in my grasp at
Now youit's not your fault, I know, a mere defect of
constitution; but you, as a speculator, were, if I may venture to put
it so, not worth your salt; no boldness, no dash, all caution. But your
promising son is a regular whale on speculation, and I may tell you
that we stand in together in some little ventures that would very
probably make your hair stand on endyou wouldn't have touched
them. And yet there's money in every one of them.
My money! said Paul savagely; and it won't come out
You don't know much about these things, you see, said Marmaduke;
I tell you I have my eye on some fine openings for capital.
Your pockets always were very fine openings for capital, retorted
Ha, ha, deuced sharp that! But, to come to the point, you were
always a sensible practical kind of a fellow, and you must see, that,
for me to back you up and upset this young rascal who has stepped into
your slippers, might be morally meritorious enough, but, treating it
from a purely pecuniary point of view, it's not business.
I see, said Mr. Bultitude heavily; then you side against me?
Did I ever say I would side against you? Let us hear first what you
propose to do.
Paul, upon this, explained that, as he believed the Stone still
retained its power of granting one wish to any other person who
happened to get hold of it, his idea was to get possession of it
somehow from Dick, who probably would have it about him somewhere, and
then pass it on to some one whom he could trust not to misuse it so
A good idea that, Paul, my boy, said Paradine, smiling; but you
don't imagine our young friend would be quite such an idiot as not to
see your game! Why, he would pitch the Stone in the gutter or stamp it
to powder, rather than let you get hold of it.
He's quite capable of it, said Paul; in fact, he threatened to do
worse than that. I doubt if I shall ever be able to manage it myself;
but what am I to do? I must try, and I've no time to lose about it
I tell you this, said Marmaduke, if you let him see you here,
it's all up with you. What you want is some friend to manage this for
you, some one he won't suspect. Now, suppose I were willing to risk it
You! cried Paul, with involuntary distrust.
Why not? said Marmaduke, with a touch of feeling. Ah, I see, you
can't trust me. You've got an idea into your head that I'm a
thorough-paced rascal, without a trace of human feeling about me. I
daresay I deserve it, I daresay I do; but it's not generous, my boy,
for all that. I hope to show you your mistake yet, if you give me the
chance. You allow yourself to be prejudiced by the past, that's where
you make your mistake. I only put before you clearly and plainly what
it was I was giving up in helping you. A fellow may have a hard cynical
kind of way of putting things, and yet, take my word for it, Paul, have
a heart as tender as a spring chicken underneath. I believe I'm
something like that myself. I tell you I'm sorry for you. I don't like
to see a family man of your position in such a regular deuce of a hole.
I feel bound to give you a lift out of it, and let my prospects take
their own chance. I leave the gratitude to you. When I've done, kick me
down the doorsteps if you like. I shall go out into the world with the
glow of self-approval (and rapid motion) warming my system. Take my
advice, don't attempt to tackle Master Dick yourself. Leave him to me.
If I could only make up my mind to trust you! muttered Paul.
The old distrust! cried Marmaduke; you can't forget. You won't
believe a poor devil like me can have any gratitude, any
disinterestedness left in him. Never mind, I'll go. I'll leave it to
you. I'll send Dick in here, and we shall see whether he's such a fool
as you think him.
No, said Paul, no; I feel you're right; that would never do.
It would be for my advantage, I think, said the other, but you
had better take me while I am in a magnanimous mood, the opportunity
may never occur again. Come, am I to help you or not? Yes or no?
I must accept, said Paul reluctantly; I can't find Boaler now,
and it might take hours to make him see what I wanted. I'll trust to
your honour. What shall I do?
Do? Get away from this, he'll be coming in here very soon to see
me. Run away and play with the children or hide in the china
closetanything but stay here.
II must be here while you are managing him, objected Paul.
Nonsense! said Paradine angrily. I tell you it will spoil all,
unless youwho's that? it's his steptoo late nowdash it all!
Behind that screen, quickdon't move for your life till I tell you you
may come out!
Mr. Bultitude had no choice; there was just time to set up an old
folding screen which stood in a corner of the room and slip behind it
before the door opened.
It might not be the highest wisdom to trust everything to his new
ally in this manner; but what else could he do, except stand by in
forced inactivity while the momentous duel was being fought out? Just
then, at all events, he saw no other course.
The is noon in this hous schuld bynde me this night.
The Coke's Tale of Gamelyn.
Dick burst open the door of the billiard-room rather suddenly, and
then stood holding on to the handle and smiling down upon his relative
in a happy and affectionate but rather weak manner.
So here you are! he said. Been lookin' for you everywhere. What's
good of shutting 'self in here? Come up and play gamesh. No? Come in
and have shupper. I've had shupper.
So I perceive, observed Uncle Marmaduke; and the fact was
certainly obvious enough.
Tell y'what I did, giggled the wretched Dick. You know I never
did get what I call regular good blow outalways some one to shay 'had
quite 'nough' 'fore I'd begun. So I thought this time I would have a
tuck-in tilltill I felt tired, and Ihe-he-heI got down 'fore
anybody elsh and helped myshelf. Had first go-in. No one to help to
thingsh. No girlsh to bother. It was prime! When they've all gone up
again you and me'll go in and have shome more, eh?
You're a model host, said his uncle.
It's a good shupper, Dick went on. I ought to know. I've had some
of everything. It'sh almost too good for kids. But it'sh a good thing I
went in first. After I'd been in a little time I saw a sponge-cake on
the table, and when I tried it, what d'ye think I found? It was as full
inside of brandy-an'-sherry as it could be. All it could do to shtand!
I saw d'rectly it washn't in condition come to table, and I said, 'Take
it away! take it away! It'sh drunk; it'sh a dishgraceful sight for
children!' But they wouldn't take it away; sho I had to take it away.
But you can't take away a whole tipshy-cake!
I am quite sure you did your best, murmured Paradine.
Been having such gamesh upstairs! said Dick, with another giggle.
That lil' Dolly Merridew's jolly girl. Not sho nice as Dulcie, though.
Here, you, let'sh go up and let off fireworksh on balcony, eh? Letsh
have jolly lark!
No, no, said his uncle. You and I are too old for that sort of
thing. You should leave the larks to the young fellows.
How do you know I'm too old for sorterthing? said Dick, with an
Well, you're not a young man any longer, you know. You ought to
behave like the steady old buffer you look.
Why? demanded Dick; why should I behave like shteady ole buffer,
when I don't feel shteady ole buffer? What do you want shpoil fun for?
Tell you I shall do jus' zackly wharriplease. And, if you shay any
more, I'll punch y' head!
No, no, said his uncle, slightly alarmed at this intimation.
Come, you're not going to quarrel with me, I'm sure!
All ri', said Dick. No; I won' quarrel. Don' wanter quarrel
That's right, said Paradine. I knew you were a noble fellow!
Sho I am, said Dick, shaking hands with effusion. Sho are you.
Nearly ash noble 'sh me. There, you're jolly good fellow. I say, I've
goo' mind tell you something. Make you laugh. But I won't; not now.
Oh, you can tell me, said Marmaduke. No secrets between friends,
Shan't tell you now, said Dick. Keep shecret little longer.
Do you know, my friend, that there's something very odd about you
I've noticed lately? Something that makes me almost fancy sometimes
you're not what you pretend to be.
Dick sat down heavily on one of the leather benches placed against
Eh, what d'you shay? he gasped. Shay tharragain.
You look to me, said Marmaduke slowly, like some one excellently
made up for the part of heavy father, without a notion how to play it.
Dick, you young dog, you see I know you! You can't take me in with all
this. You'd better tell me all about it.
Dick seemed almost sobered by this shock.
You've found me out, he repeated dully. Then it's all up. If
you've found me out, everybody elsh can find me out!
No, no; it's not so bad as that, my boy. I've better eyes than most
people, and then I had the privilege of knowing your excellent father
rather well once upon a time. You haven't studied his little
peculiarities closely enough; but you'll improve. By the way, where
is your excellent father all this time?
He's all right, said Dick, beginning to chuckle. He-he. He's at
school, he is!
At school. You mean to say you've put him to school at his time of
life! He's rather old for that sort of thing, isn't he? They don't take
him on the ordinary terms, do they?
Ah, said Dick, that'sh where it is. He isn't old, you see, now,
to look at.
Not old to look at! Then how on earthI should like to know how
you managed all that. What have you been doing to the poor gentleman?
That'sh my affair, said Dick. An' if I don' tell you you won'
find that out anyway!
There's only one way you could have done it, said Paradine,
pretending to hesitate. It must have been done by some meddling with
magic. Now whatLet me seeyesSurely the Stone I brought your
poor mother from India was given to me as a talisman of some sort? You
can't have been sharp enough to get hold of that!
How did you know? cried Dick sharply. Who told you?
I am right, then? Well, you are a clever fellow. I should like to
know how you did it, now?
Did it with the Shtone, said Dick, evidently discomposed by such
unexpected penetration, but unable to prevent a little natural
complacency. All my own idea. No one helped me. Itit washn't sho bad
for me, wash it?
Bad! it was capital! cried Marmaduke enthusiastically. It was a
stroke of genius! And so my Indian Stone has done all this for you.
Sounds like an Arabian Night, by Jove! By-the-by, you don't happen to
have it about you, do you? I should rather like to look at it again.
It's a real curiosity after this.
Paul trembled with anxiety. Would Dick be induced to part with it?
If so, he was saved! But Dick looked at his uncle's outstretched hand,
and wagged his head with tipsy cunning.
I dareshay you would, he said, but I'm not sho green as all that.
Don't let that Stone out of my hands for anyone.
Why, I only wanted to look at it for a minute or two, said
Marmaduke; I wouldn't hurt it or lose it.
You won' get chance, said Dick.
Oh, very well, said Paradine carelessly, just as you please, it
doesn't matter; though when we come to talk things over a little, you
may find it better to trust me more than that.
Wha' do you mean? said Dick uneasily.
Well, I'll try to explain as well as I can, my boy (drink a little
of this soda water first, it's an excellent thing after supper); there,
you're better now, aren't you? Now, I've found you out, as you see; but
only because I knew something of the powers of this Stone of yours, and
guessed the rest. It doesn't at all follow that other people, who know
nothing at all, will be as sharp; if you're more careful about your
behaviour in futureunless, unless, young fellow and here he
Unless what? asked Dick suspiciously.
Unless I chose to tell them what I've found out.
What would you tell them? said Dick.
What? Why, what I know of this talisman; tell them to use their
eyes; they wouldn't be very long before they found out that something
was wrong. And when one or two of your father's friends once get hold
of the idea, your game will be very soon overyou know that as well as
But, stammered Dick, you wouldn't go and do beastly mean thing
like that? I've not been bad fellow to you.
The meanness, my dear boy, depends entirely upon the view you take
of it. Now, the question with me, as a man of honour (and I may tell
you an over-nice sense of honour has been a drawback I've had to
struggle against all my life), the question with me is this: Is it not
my plain duty to step in and put a stop to this topsy-turvy state of
things, to show you up as the barefaced young impostor you are, and
restore my unhappy brother-in-law to his proper position?
Very well expressed, thought Paul, who had been getting
uncomfortable; he has a heart, as he said, after all!
How does that seem to strike you? added Paradine.
It shtrikes me as awful rot, said Dick, with refreshing candour.
It's the language of conscience, but I don't expect you to see it
in the same light. I don't mind confessing to you, either, that I'm a
poor devil to whom money and a safe and respectable position (all of
which I have here) are great considerations. But whenever I see the
finger of duty and honour and family affection all beckoning me along a
particular road, I make a point of obeying their
monitionsoccasionally. I don't mean to say that I never have bolted
down a back way, instead, when it was made worth my while, or that I
I wonder what he's driving at now, thought Paul.
I don't know about duty and honour, and all that, said Dick; my
head aches, it's the noise they're making upstairs. Are you goin' to
The fact is, my dear boy, that when one has had a keen sense of
honour in constant use for several years, it's like most other
articles, apt to become a little the worse for wear. Mine is not what
it used to be, Dicky (that's your name, isn't it?). Our powers fail as
we grow old.
I don' know what you're talking about! said Dick helplessly. Do
tell me what you mean to do.
Well then, your head's clear enough to understand this much, I
hope, said Paradine a little impatiently, that, if I did my duty and
exposed you, you wouldn't be able to keep up the farce for a single
hour, in spite of all your personal advantagesyou know that, don't
I shpose I know that, said Dick feebly.
You know too, that if I could be inducedmind, I don't say I
canto hold my tongue and stay on here and look after you and keep you
from betraying yourself by any more of these schoolboy follies, there's
not much fear that anyone else will ever find out the secret
Which are you going to do, then? said Dick.
Suppose I say that I like you, that you have shown me more kindness
in a single week than ever your respectable father has since I first
made his acquaintance? Suppose I say that I am willing to let the sense
of honour and duty, and all the rest of it, go overboard together; that
we two together are a match for Papa, wherever he may be and whatever
he chooses to say and do?
There was a veiled defiance in his voice that seemed meant for more
than Dick, and alarmed Mr. Bultitude; however, he tried to calm his
uneasiness and persuade himself that it was part of the plot.
Will you say that? cried Dick excitedly.
On one condition, which I'll tell you by-and-by. Yes, I'll stand by
you, my boy, I'll coach you till I make you a man of business every bit
as good as your father, and a much better man of the world. I'll show
you how to realise a colossal fortune if you only take my advice. And
we'll pack Papa off to some place abroad where he'll have no holidays
and give no trouble!
No, said Dick firmly; I won't have that. After all, he's my
Do what you like with him then, he can't do much harm. I tell you,
I'll do all this, on one conditionit's a very simple one
What is it? asked Dick.
This. You have, somewhere or other, the Stone that has done all
this for youyou may have it about you at this very momentah! (as
Dick made a sudden movement towards his white waistcoat) I thought so!
Well, I want that Stone. You were afraid to leave it in my hands for a
minute or two just now; you must trust me with it altogether.
Paul was relieved; of course this was merely an artifice to recover
the Garudâ Stone, and Marmaduke was not playing him false after allhe
waited breathlessly for Dick's answer.
No, said Dick, I can't do that; I want it too.
Why, man, what use is it to you? it only gives you one wish, you
can't use it again.
Dick mumbled something about his being ill, and Barbara wishing him
I suppose I can do that as well as Barbara, said his uncle. Come,
don't be obstinate, give me the Stone; it's very important that it
should be in safe hands.
No, said Dick obstinately; he was fumbling all the time
irresolutely in his pockets; I mean to keep it myself.
Very well then, I have done with you. To-morrow morning I shall
step up to Mincing Lane, and then to your father's solicitor. I think
his offices are in Bedford Row, but I can easily find out at your
father's place. After that, young man, you'll have a very short time to
amuse yourself in, so make the best of it.
No, don't leave me, let me alone for a minute, pleaded Dick, still
At this a sudden suspicion of his brother-in-law's motives for
wishing to get the Stone into his own hands overcame all Paul's
prudence. If he was so clever in deceiving Dick, might he not be
cheating him, too, just as completely? He could wait no longer,
but burst from behind the screen and rushed in between the pair.
Go back! screamed Paradine. You infernal old idiot, you've ruined
I won't go back, said Paul, I don't believe in you. I'll hide no
longer. Dick, I forbid you to trust that man.
Dick had risen in horror at the sudden apparition, and staggered
back against the wall, where he stood staring stupidly at his
unfortunate father with fixed and vacant eyes.
Badly as you've treated me, I'd rather trust you than that shifty
plausible fellow there. Just look at me, Dick, and then say if you can
let this cruelty go on. If you knew all I've suffered since I have been
among those infernal boys, you would pity me, you would indeed.... If
you send me back there again, it will kill me.... You know as well as I
do that it is worse for me than ever it could be for you.... You can't
really justify yourself because of a thoughtless wish of mine, spoken
without the least intention of being taken at my word. Dick, I may not
have shown as much affection for you as I might have done, but I don't
think I deserve all this. Be generous with me now, and I swear you will
never regret it.
Dick's lips moved; there really was something like pity and
repentance in his face, muddled and dazed as his general expression was
by his recent over-indulgence, but he said nothing.
Give papa the Stone by all means, sneered Paradine. If you do, he
will find some one to wish the pair of you back again, and then, back
you go to school again, the laughing-stock of everybody, you silly
Don't listen to him, Dick, urged Paul. Give it to me, for
Heaven's sake; if you let him have it, he'll use it to ruin us all.
But Dick turned his white face to the rival claimants and said,
getting the words out with difficulty: Papa, I'm shorry. It is a
shame. If I had the Shtone, I really would give it you, upon my
word-an'-honour I would. Butbut, now I can't ever give it up to you.
It'sh gone. Losht!
Lost! cried Marmaduke. When, where? When do you last recollect
seeing it? you must know!
In the morning, said Dick, twirling his chain, where part of the
cheap gilt fastening still hung.
No; afternoon. I don't know, he added helplessly.
Paul sank down on a chair with a heartbroken groan; a moment ago he
had felt himself very near his goal, he had regained something of his
old influence over Dick, he had actually managed to touch his
heartand now it was all in vain!
Paradine's jaw fell; he, too, had had his dreams of doing wonderful
things with the talisman after he had cajoled Dick to part with it.
Whether the restoration of his brother-in-law formed any part of his
programme, it is better, perhaps, not to inquire. His dreams were
scattered now; the Stone might be anywhere, buried in London mud, lying
on railway ballast, or ground to powder by cartwheels. There was little
chance, indeed, that even the most liberal rewards would lead to
discovery. He swore long and comprehensively.
As for Mr. Bultitude, he sat motionless in his chair, staring in
dull, speechless reproach at the conscience-stricken Dick, who stood in
the corner blinking and whimpering with an abject penitence, odd and
painful to see in one of his portly form. The children had now
apparently finished supper, for there were sounds above as of dancing,
and Sir Roger de Coverley, with its rollicking, never-wearying
repetition, was distinctly audible above the din and laughter. Once
before, a week ago that very day, had that heartless piano mocked him
with its untimely gaiety.
But things were not at their worst even yet, for, while they sat
like this, there was a sharp, short peal at the house-bell, followed by
loud and rather angry knocking, for carriages being no longer expected,
the servants and waiters had now closed the front-door, and left the
passage for the supper-room.
The visitors' bell! cried Paul, roused from his apathy; and he
rushed to the window which commanded a side-view of the portico; it
might be only a servant calling for one of the children, but he feared
the worst, and could not rest till he knew it.
It was a rash thing to do, for as he drew the blind, he saw a large
person in a heavy Inverness cloak standing on the steps, and (which was
worse) the person both saw and recognised him!
With fascinated horror, Mr. Bultitude saw the Doctor's small grey
eyes fixed angrily on him, and knew that he was hunted down at last.
He turned to the other two with a sort of ghastly composure: It's
all over now, he said. I've just seen Dr. Grimstone standing on my
doorstep; he has come after me.
Uncle Marmaduke gave a malicious little laugh: I'm sorry for you,
my friend, he said, but I really can't help it.
You can, said Paul; you can tell him what you know. You can save
Very poor economy that, said Marmaduke airily. I prefer spending
to saving, always did. I have my own interests to consider, my dear
Dick, said poor Mr. Bultitude, disgusted at this exhibition of
selfishness, you said you were sorry just now. Will you tell him the
But Dick was quite unnerved, he cowered away, almost crying; I
daren't, I daren't, he stammered; II can't go back to the fellows
like this. I'm afraid to tell him. II want to hide somewhere.
And certainly he was in no condition to convince an angry
schoolmaster of anything whatever, except that he was in a state very
unbecoming to the head of a family.
It was all over; Paul saw that too well, he dashed frantically from
the fatal billiard-room, and in the hall met Boaler preparing to admit
Don't open the door! he screamed. Keep him out, you mustn't let
him in. It's Dr. Grimstone.
Boaler, surprised as he naturally was at his young master's
unaccountable appearance and evident panic, nevertheless never moved a
muscle of his face; he was one of those perfectly bred servants, who,
if they chanced to open the door to a ghoul or a skeleton, would merely
inquire, What name, if you please?
I must go and ask your Par, then, Master Dick; there's time to 'ook
it upstairs while I'm gone. I won't say nothing, he added
Paul lost no time in following this suggestion, but rushed upstairs,
two or three steps at the time, stumbling at every flight, with a
hideous nightmare feeling that some invisible thing behind was trying
to trip up his heels.
He rushed blindly past the conservatory, which was lit up by Chinese
lanterns and crowded with little Kate Greenaway maidens crowned with
fantastic headdresses out of the crackers, and comparing presents with
boy-lovers; he upset perspiring waiters with glasses and trays, and
scattered the children sitting on the stairs, as he bounded on in his
reckless flight, leaving crashes of glass behind him.
He had no clear idea of what he meant to do; he thought of
barricading himself in his bedroom and hiding in the wardrobe; he had
desperate notions of getting on to the housetop by means of a
step-ladder and the sky-light above the nursery landing; on one point
he was resolvedhe would not be retaken alive!
Never before in this commonplace London world of ours was an
unfortunate householder hunted up his own staircase in this distressing
manner; even his terror did not blind him to the extreme ignominy and
injustice of his position.
And below he heard the bell ringing more and more impatiently, as
the Doctor still remained on the wrong side of the door. In another
minute he must be admittedand then!
Who will not sympathise with Mr. Bultitude as he approaches the
crisis of his misfortunes? I protest, for my own part, that as I am
compelled to describe him springing from step to step in wild terror,
like a highly respectable chamois before some Alpine marksman, my own
heart bleeds for him, and I hasten to end my distressing tale, and make
the rest of it as little painful as I may with honesty.
MONTR. The father is victorious.
BELF. Let us haste
To gratulate his conquest.
1ST CAPT. We to mourn
The fortune of the son.
MASSINGER. The Unnatural Combat.
Poor Mr. Bultitude, springing wildly upstairs in a last desperate
effort to avoid capture, had now almost reached his goal. Just above
him was the nursery landing, with its little wooden gate, and near it,
leaning against the wall, was a pair of kitchen steps, with which he
had hopes of reaching the roof, or the cistern loft, or some other safe
and inaccessible place. Better a night spent on the slates amongst the
chimney-pots than a bed in that terrible No. 6 Dormitory!
But here, too, fate was against him. He was not more than
half-a-dozen steps from the top, when, to his unspeakable horror, he
saw a small form in a white frock and cardinal-red sash come running
out of the nursery, and begin to descend slowly and cautiously,
clinging to the banisters with one chubby little hand.
It was his youngest son, Roly, and as soon as he saw this, he lost
hope once and for all; he could not escape being recognised, the child
would probably refuse to leave him, and even if he did contrive to get
away from him, it would be hopeless to make Roly understand that he was
not to betray his hiding-place.
So he stopped on the stairs, aghast at this new misfortune, and
feeling himself at the end of all his resources. Roly knew him at once,
and began to dance delightedly up and down on the stair in his little
bronze shoes. Buzzer Dicky, he cried, dear buzzer Dicky, tum 'ome to
It's not brother Dicky, said Paul miserably; it's all a mistake.
Oh, but it is though, said Roly; and you don't know what Roly's
No, no, said Paul, trying to pass (which, as Roly persisted in
leaping joyously from side to side of the narrow stair, was difficult);
you shall show me another time. I'm in a hurry, my boy, I've got an
Roly's got something better than that, observed the child.
Mr. Bultitude, in spite of his terror, was too much afraid of
hurting him by brushing roughly past to attempt such a thing, so he
tried diplomacy. Well, what has Roly founda cracker?
No, no, better than a cwackeryou guess.
I can't guess, said Paul; never mind, I don't want to know.
Well then, said Roly, there. And he slowly unclosed a fat little
fist, and in it Paul saw, with a revulsion of feeling that turned him
dizzy and faint, the priceless talisman itself, the identical Garudâ
Stone, with part of the frail gilt ring still attached to it.
The fastening had probably given way during Master Dick's uproarious
revels in the drawing-room, and Roly must have picked it up on the
carpet shortly afterwards.
Isn't it a pitty sing? said Roly, insisting that his treasure
should be duly admired.
A very pretty thing, said his father, hoarse and panting; but
it's mine, Roly, it's mine!
And he tried to snatch it, but Roly closed his fist over it and
pouted, It isn't yours, he said, it's Roly's. Roly found it.
Paul's fears rose again; would he be wrecked in port after all? His
ear, unnaturally strained, caught the sound of the front door being
opened, he heard the Doctor's deep voice booming faintly below, then
the noise of persons ascending.
Roly shall have it, then, he said perfidiously, if he will say
after me what I tell him. Say, 'I wish Papa and Brother Dick back as
they were before,' Roly.
Ith it a game? asked Roly, his face clearing and evidently
delighted with his eccentric brother Dick, who had run all the way home
from school to play games with him on the staircase.
Noyes! cried Paul, it's a very funny game; only do what I tell
you. Now say, 'I wish Papa and Brother Dick back again as they were
before.' I'll give you a sugar-plum if you say it nicely.
What sort of sugar-plum? demanded Roly, who inherited business
Any sort you like best! almost shrieked Paul; oh, do get on!
Lots of sugar-plums, then. 'I with'I forget what you told meoh,
'I with Papa and' there'th thomebody tummin' upsthairs! he broke
off suddenly; it'h nurth tummin' to put me to bed. I don't want to go
to bed yet.
And you shan't go to bed! cried Paul, for he too thought he heard
some one. Never mind nurse, finish thethe game.
'Papa and Buzzy Dicky back again asas they were before,'
repeated Roly at last. What a funnyow, ow, it'h Papa! it'h Papa! and
he told me it wath Dicky. I'm afwaid! Whereth Dicky gone to? I want
Bab, take me to Bab!
For the Stone had done its work once more, and this time with
happier results; with a supreme relief and joy, which no one who has
read this book can fail to understand, Mr. Bultitude felt that he
actually was his old self again.
Just when all hope seemed cut off and relief was most unlikely, the
magic spell that had caused him such intolerable misery for one hideous
week was reversed by the hand of his innocent child.
He caught Roly up in his arms and kissed him as he had never been
kissed in his whole life before, at least by his father, and comforting
him as well as he could, for the poor child had naturally received
rather a severe shock, he stepped airily down the staircase, which he
had mounted with such different emotions five minutes before.
On his way he could not resist going into his dressing-room and
assuring himself by a prolonged examination before the cheval-glass
that the Stone had not played him some last piece of jugglery; but he
found everything quite correct; he was the same formal, precise and
portly person, wearing the same morning dress even as on that other
Monday evening, and he went on with greater confidence.
He took care, however, to stop at the first window, when he managed,
after some coaxing, to persuade Roly to give up the Garudâ Stone. As
soon as he had it in his hands again, he opened the window wide and
flung the dangerous talisman far out into the darkness. Not till then
did he feel perfectly secure.
He passed the groups of little guests gathered about the
conservatory, and lower down he met Boaler, the nurse, and one or two
servants and waiters, rushing up in a state of great anxiety and
flurry; even Boaler's usual composure seemed shaken. Please, sir, he
asked, the schoolmaster gentleman, Master Dickhe've run upstairs,
haven't you seen him?
Paul had almost forgotten Dick in his new happiness; there would be
a heavy score to settle with him; he had the upper hand once more, and
yet, somehow, he did not feel as much righteous wrath and desire for
revenge as he expected to do.
Don't be alarmed, he said, waving them back with more benignity
than he thought he had in him. Master Dick is safe enough. I know all
about it. Where is Dr. Grimstone? In the library, eh? Very well, I will
see him there.
And leaving Roly with the nurse, he went down to the library; not,
if the truth must be told, without a slight degree of nervousness,
unreasonable and unaccountable enough now, but quite beyond his power
He entered the room, and there, surrounded by piles of ticketed hats
and coats, under the pale light of one gas-burner, he saw the terrible
man before whom he had trembled for the last seven horrible days.
A feeling of self-defence made Paul assume rather more than his old
stiffness as he shook hands. I am very glad to see you, Dr.
Grimstone, he said, but your coming at this time forces me to ask if
there is any unusual reason for, for my having theapleasure of
seeing you here?
I am exceedingly distressed to have to say that there is, said the
Doctor solemnly, or I should not have troubled you at this hour. Try
to compose yourself, my dear sir, to bear this blow.
I will, said Paul, I will try.
The fact is then, and I know how sad a story it must be for a
parent's ear, but the fact is, that your unhappy boy has had the
inconceivable rashness to quit my roof. And the Doctor paused to watch
the effect of his announcement.
God bless my soul! cried Paul. You don't say, so!
I do indeed; he has, in short, run away. But don't be alarmed, my
dear Mr. Bultitude, I think I can assure you he is quite safe at the
present moment (Thank Heaven, he is! thought Paul, thinking of his
own marvellous escape). I should certainly have recaptured him before
he could have left the railway station, where he seems to have gone at
once, only, acting on information (which I strongly suspect now was
intentionally misleading), I drove on to the station on the up-line,
thinking to find him there. He was not there, sir, I believe he never
went there at all; but, guessing how matters were, I searched the
train, carriage by carriage, compartment by compartment, when it came
I am very sorry you should have had so much trouble, said Paul,
with a vivid recollection of the exploring stick; and so you found
No, sir, said the Doctor passionately, I did not find him, but he
was there; he must have been there! but the shameless connivance of two
excessively ill-bred persons, who positively refused to allow me access
to their compartment, caused him to slip through my fingers.
Mr. Bultitude observed, rather ungratefully, that, if this was so,
it was a most improper thing for them to do.
It was, indeed, but it is of no consequence fortunately. I was
forced to wait for the next train, but that was not a very slow one,
and so I was able to come on here before a very late hour and acquaint
you with what had taken place.
Thank you very much, said Paul.
It's a painful thing to occur in a school, observed the Doctor
after a pause.
Most unfortunate, agreed Paul, coughing.
So apt to lead persons who are not acquainted with the facts to
imagine that the boy was unhappy under my care, continued the Doctor.
In this case, I assure you, I have no doubts, protested Paul with
politeness and (seldom a possible combination) perfect truth.
Very kind of you to say so; really, it's a great mystery to me. I
certainly, as I felt it my duty to inform you at the time, came very
near inflicting corporal punishment upon him this morningvery near.
But then he was pardoned on your intercession; and, besides, the boy
would never have run away for fear of a flogging.
Oh, no, perfectly absurd! agreed Paul again.
Such a merry, high-spirited lad, too, said the Doctor, sincerely
enough; popular with his schoolfellows; a favourite (in spite of his
faults) with his teachers.
No, was he though? said Paul with more surprise, for he had not
been fortunate enough to reap much vicarious benefit from his son's
popularity, as he could not help remembering.
All this, added to the comforts (or, may I say, the luxuries?) he
enjoyed under my supervision, does make it seem very strange and
ungrateful in the boy to take this sudden and ill-considered step.
Very, indeed; but do you know, Dr. Grimstone, I can't help
thinkingand pray do not misunderstand me if I speak plainlythat,
perhaps, he had reasons for being unhappy you can have no idea of?
He would have found me ready to hear any complaints and prompt to
redress them, sir, said the Doctor. But, now I think of it, he
certainly did appear to have something on his mind which he wished to
tell me; but his manner was so strange and he so persistently refused
to come to the point, that I was forced to discourage him at last.
You did discourage him, indeed! said Paul inwardly, thinking of
those attempted confidences with a shudder. Perhaps some of his
schoolfellows may haveeh? he said aloud.
My dear sir, exclaimed the Doctor, quite out of the question!
Do you think so? said Paul, not being able to resist the
suggestion. And yet, do you know, some of them did not appear to me to
look veryvery good-natured, now.
A more manly, pleasant, and gentlemanly set of youths never
breathed! said the Doctor, taking up the cudgels for his boys, and, to
do him justice, probably with full measure of belief in his statement.
Curious now that they should have struck you so differently!
They certainly did strike me very differently, said Paul. But I
may be mistaken.
You are, my dear sir. And, pardon me, but you had no opportunity of
testing your opinion.
Oh, pardon me, retorted Paul grimly, I had indeed!
A cursory visit, said the Doctor, a formal inspectionyou cannot
fairly judge boys by that. They will naturally be reserved and
constrained in the presence of an elder. But you should observe them
without their knowledgeyou want to know them, my dear Mr. Bultitude,
you want to go among them!
It was the very last thing Paul did wanthe knew them quite well
enough, but it was of no use to say so, and he merely assented
And now, said the Doctor, with regard to your misguided boy. I
have to tell you that he is here, in this very house. I tracked him
here, and, ten minutes ago, saw him with my own eyes at one of your
Here! cried Paul, with a well-executed start; you astonish me!
It has occurred to me within the last minute, said the Doctor,
that there may be a very simple explanation of his flight. I observe
you are giving aa juvenile entertainment on a large scale.
I suppose I am, Paul admitted. And so you think?
I think that your son, who doubtless knew of your intention, was
hurt at being excluded from the festivities and, in a fit of mad wilful
folly, resolved to be present at them in spite of you.
My dear Doctor, cried Paul, who saw the conveniences of this
theory, that must be it, of coursethat explains it all!
So grave an act of insubordination, said the Doctor, an act of
double disobedienceto your authority and minedeserves the fullest
punishment. You agree with me, I trust?
The memory of his wrongs overcame Mr. Bultitude for the moment:
Nothing can be too bad for the little scoundrel! he said, between his
He shall have it, sir, I swear to you; he shall be made to repent
this as long as he lives. This insult to me (and of course to you also)
shall be amply atoned for. If you will have the goodness to deliver him
over to my hands, I will carry him back at once to Market Rodwell, and
to-morrow, sir, to-morrow, I will endeavour to awaken his conscience in
a way he will remember!
The Doctor was more angry than an impartial lover of justice might
perhaps approve of, but then it must be remembered that he had seen
himself completely outwitted and his authority set at nought in a very
However, his excessive wrath cooled Paul's own resentment instead of
inflaming it; it made him reflect that, after all, it was he who had
the best right to be angry.
Well, he said, rather coldly, we must find him first, and then
consider what shall be done to him. If you will allow me I will ring
But before he could lay his hand upon the bell the library door
opened, and Uncle Marmaduke made his appearance, dragging with him the
unwilling Dick: the unfortunate boy was effectually sobered now, pale
and trembling and besmirched with coal-dustin fact, in very much the
same plight as his ill-used father had been in only three hours ago.
There was a brazen smile of triumph on Mr. Paradine's face as he met
Paul's eyes with a knowing wink, which the latter did not at all
Such audacity astonished him, for he could hardly believe that
Paradine, after his perfidious conduct in the billiard-room, could have
the clumsy impudence to try to propitiate him now.
Here he is, my boy, shouted Paradine; here's the scamp who has
given us all this trouble! He came into the billiard-room just now and
told me who he was, but I would have nothing to do with him of course.
Not my business, as I told him at the time. Then(I think I have the
pleasure of seeing Dr. Grimstone? just so) well, then you, sir,
arrivedand he made himself scarce. But when I saw him in the act of
making a bolt up the area, where he had been taking shelter apparently
in the coal-cellar, I thought it was time to interfere, and so I
collared him. I have much pleasure in handing him over now to the
And, letting Dick go, he advanced towards his brother-in-law, still
with the same odd expression of having a secret understanding with him,
which made Paul's blood boil.
Stand where you are, sir, said Paul to his son. No, Dr.
Grimstone, allow meleave him to me for the present, please.
That's much better, whispered Paradine approvingly; capital. Keep
it up, my boy; keep it up! Papa's as quiet as a lamb now. Go on.
Then Paul understood; his worthy brother-in-law had not been present
at the last transformation and was under a slight misapprehension: he
evidently imagined that he had by this last stroke made himself and
Dick masters of the situationit was time to undeceive him.
Have the goodness to leave my house at once, will you! he said
You young fool! said Marmaduke, under his breath, after all I
have done for you, too! Is this your gratitude? You know you can't get
on without me. Take care what you're about!
If you can't see that the tables are turned at last, said Paul
slowly, you're a duller knave than I take you to be.
Marmaduke started back with an oath: It's a trick, he said
savagely; you want to get rid of me.
I certainly intend to, said Paul. Are you satisfied? Do you want
proofsshall I give themI did just now in the billiard-room?
Paradine went to Dick and shook him angrily: You young idiot! he
said, in a furious aside, why didn't you tell me? What did you let me
make a fool of myself like this for, eh?
I did tell you, muttered Dick, only you wouldn't listen. It just
serves you right!
Marmaduke soon collected himself after this unexpected shock; he
tried to shake Paul's hands with an airy geniality. Only my little
joke, he said, laughing; ha, ha, I thought I should take you in!...
Why, I knew it directly.... I've been working for you all the timebut
it wouldn't have done to let you see my line.
No, said Paul; it was not a very straight one, as usual.
Well, said Marmaduke, I shouldn't have stopped Master Dick there
if I hadn't been on your side, should I now? I knew you'd come out of
it all right, but I had a difficult game to play, don't you know? I
don't wonder that you didn't follow me just at first.
You've lost your game, said Paul; it's no use to say any more. So
now, perhaps, you'll go?
Go, eh? said Paradine, without showing much surprise at the
failure of so very forlorn a hope, oh, very well, just as you please,
of course. Let your poor wife's only brother go from your doors without
a penny in the world!but I warn you that a trifle or so laid out in
stopping my mouth would not be thrown away. Some editors would be glad
enough of a sensation from real life just now, and I could tell some
very odd tales about this little affair!
Tell them, if a character for sanity is of no further use to you,
said Paul. Tell them to anyone you can get to believe youtell the
crossing-sweeper and the policemen, tell your grandmother, tell the
horse-marinesit will amuse them. Only, you shall tell them on the
other side of my front door. Shall I call anyone to show you out?
Paradine saw his game was really played out, and swaggered
insolently to the door: Not on my account, I beg, he said. Good-bye,
Paul, my boy, no more dissolving views. Good-bye, my young friend
Richard, it was good fun while it lasted, eh? like the Servian
crownalways a pleasant reminiscence! Good evening to you, Doctor. By
the way, for educational purposes let me recommend a 'Penang
lawyer'buy one as you go back for the boysjust to show them you
haven't forgotten them!
And, having little luggage to impede him, the front door closed upon
him shortly afterwardsthis time for ever.
When he had gone, Dick looked imploringly at his father and then at
the Doctor, who, until Paradine's parting words had lashed him into
fury again, had been examining the engravings on the walls with a
studied delicacy during the recent painful scene, and was now leaning
against the chimney-piece with his arms folded and a sepulchral gloom
on his brow.
Richard, said Mr. Bultitude, in answer to the look, you have not
done much to deserve consideration at my hands.
Or at mine! added the Doctor ominously.
No, said Dick, I know I haven't. I've been a brute. I deserve a
jolly good licking.
You do, said his father, but in spite of his indignation, the
broken-down look of the boy, and the memory of his own sensations when
waiting to be caned that morning, moved him to pity. And then Dick had
shown some compunction in the billiard-room: he was not entirely lost
Well, he said at last, you've acted very wrongly. Because I
thought it best that you should notahem, leave your studies for this
party, you chose to disobey me and alarm your master by defying my
orders and coming home by stealththat was your object, I presume?
Yyes, said Dick, looking rather puzzled, but seeing that he was
expected to agree; that was it.
You know as well as I do what good cause I have to be angry; but,
if I consent to overlook your conduct this time, if I ask Dr. Grimstone
to overlook it too (the Doctor made an inarticulate protest, while
Dick stared, incredulous), will you undertake to behave better for the
Dick's voice broke at this, and his eyes swamhe was effectually
conquered. Oh, I will! he cried, I will, really. I never meant to go
so far when I began.
Then, Dr. Grimstone, said Paul, you will do me a great favour if
you will take no further notice of this. You see the boy is sorry, and
I am sure he will apologise to you amply for the grave slight he has
done you. And by the wayI should have mentioned it beforebut he
will have to leave your care at the end of the term for a public
schoolI intend to send him to Harrow, so he will require some
additional preparation, perhaps: I may leave that in your hands?
Dr. Grimstone looked deeply offended, but he only said, I will see
to that myself, my dear sir. I am sorry you did not tell me this
earlier. But, may I suggest that a large public school has its pitfalls
for a boy of your son's disposition? And I trust this leniency may not
have evil consequences, but I doubt itI greatly doubt it.
As for Dick, he ran to his father, and hung gratefully on to his arm
with a remorseful hug, a thing he had never dared to do, or thought of
attempting, in his life till then.
Dad, he said in a choked voice, you're a brick! I don't deserve
any of it, but I'll never forget this as long as I live.
Mr. Bultitude too, felt something spring up in his heart which drew
him towards the boy in an altogether novel manner, but no one will say
that either was the worse for it.
Well, he said mildly, prove to me that I have made no mistake. Go
back to Crichton House now, work and play well, and try to keep out of
mischief for the rest of the term. I trust to you, he added, in a
lower tone, while you remain at Market Rodwell, to keep mymy
connection with it a secret; you owe that at least to me. You may
probably haveahem, some inconveniences to put up withinconveniences
you are not prepared for. You must bear them as your punishment.
And soon afterwards a cab was called, and Dr. Grimstone prepared to
return to Market Rodwell, with the deserter, by the last train.
As Paul shook hands through the cab window with his prodigal son, he
repeated his warning. Mind, he said, you have been at school
all this past week; you have run away to attend this party, you
understand? Good-bye, my boy, and here's something to put in your
pocket, and another for Jolland; but he need not know it comes from
me. And when Dick opened his hand afterwards, he found two
half-sovereigns in it.
So the cab rolled away, and Paul went up to the drawing-room, where,
although he certainly allowed the fireworks on the balcony and in the
garden to languish forgotten on their sticks, he led all the other
revels up to an advanced hour with jovial abandon quite worthy
of Dick, and none of his little guests ever suspected the change of
When it was all over, and the sleepy children had driven off, Paul
sat down in an easy chair by the bright fire which sparkled frostily in
his bedroom, to think gratefully over all the events of the dayevents
which were beginning already to take an unreal and fantastic shape.
Bitterly as he had suffered, and in spite of the just anger and
thirst for revenge with which he had returned, I am glad to say he did
not regret the spirit of mildness that had stayed his hand when his
hour of triumph came.
His experiences, unpleasant as they had been, had had their
advantages: they had drawn him and his family closer together.
In his daughter Barbara, as she wished him good-night (knowing
nothing, of course, of the escape), he had suddenly become aware of a
girlish freshness and grace he had never looked for or cared to see
before. Roly after this, too, had a claim upon him he could never wish
to forget, and even with the graceless Dick there was a warmer and more
natural feeling on both sidesa strange result, no doubt, of such
unfilial behaviour, but so it was.
Mr. Bultitude would never after this consider his family as a set of
troublesome and thankless incumbrances; thanks to Dick's offices during
the interregnum, they would henceforth throw off their reserve and
constraint in their father's presence, and in so doing, open his eyes
to qualities of which he had hitherto been in contented ignorance.
* * * * *
It would be pleasanter perhaps to take leave of Mr. Bultitude thus,
as he sits by his bedroom fire in the first flush of supreme and
But I feel almost bound to point out a fact which few will find any
difficulty in accepting, namely, that, although the wrong had been
retrieved without scandal or exposure, for which Paul could not be too
thankful, there were many consequences which could not but survive it.
Neither father nor son found himself exactly in the same position as
before their exchange of characters.
It took Mr. Bultitude considerable time and trouble to repair all
the damage his son's boyish excesses had wrought both at Westbourne
Terrace and in the City. He found the discipline of his clerks' room
and counting-house sorely relaxed, and his office-boy in particular
attempted a tone towards him of such atrocious familiarity that he was
indignantly dismissed, much to his astonishment, the very first day.
And probably Paul will never quite clear himself of the cloud that
hangs over a man of business who, in the course of however well
regulated a career, is known to have been at least once a little odd.
And his home, too, was distinctly demoralised: his cook was an
artist, unrivalled at soups and entrées; but he had to get rid of her
It was only too evident that she looked upon herself as the
prospective mistress of his household, and he did not feel called upon
as a parent to fulfil any expectations which Dick's youthful cupboard
love had unintentionally excited.
For some time, as fresh proof of Dick's extravagances came home to
him, Paul found it cost him no little effort to restrain a tendency to
his former bitterness and resentment, but he valued the new
understanding between himself and his son too highly to risk losing it
again by any open reproach, and so with each succeeding discovery the
victory over his feelings became easier.
As for Dick, he found the inconveniences at which his father had
hinted anything but imaginary, as will perhaps be easily understood.
It was an unpleasant shock to discover that in one short week his
father had contrived somehow to procure him a lasting unpopularity. He
was obviously looked upon by all, masters and boys, as a confirmed
coward and sneak. And although some of his companions could not fairly
reproach him on the latter score, the imputation was particularly
galling to Dick, who had always treated such practices with sturdy
He was sorely tempted at times to right himself by declaring the
real state of the case; but he remembered his promise and his father's
unexpected clemency and his gratitude always kept him silent.
He never quite understood how it was that the whole school seemed to
have an impression that they could kick and assault him generally with
perfect impunity; but a few very unsuccessful experiments convinced
them that this was a popular error on their part.
Although, however, in everything else he did gradually succeed in
recovering all the ground his father had lost him, yet there was one
respect in which, I am sorry to say, he found all his efforts to
retrieve himself hopeless.
His little sweetheart, with the grey eyes and soft brown hair,
cruelly refused to have anything more to do with him. For Dulcie's
pride had been wounded by what she considered his shameless perfidy on
that memorable Saturday by the parallel bars; the last lingering traces
of affection had vanished before Paul's ingratitude on the following
Monday, and she never forgave him.
She did not even give him an opportunity of explaining himself,
never by word or sign up to the last day of the term showing that she
was even aware of his return. What was worse, in her resentment she
transferred her favour to Tipping, who became her humble slave for a
too brief period; after which he was found wanting in polish, and was
ignominiously thrown over for the shy new boy Kiffin, whose head Dick
found a certain melancholy pleasure in punching in consequence.
This was Dick's punishment, and a very real and heavy one he found
it. He is at Harrow now, where he is doing fairly well; but I think
there are moments even yet when Dulcie's charming little face, her
pretty confidences, and her chilling disdain, are remembered with
something as nearly resembling a heartache as a healthy unsentimental
boy can allow himself.
Perhaps, if some day he goes back once more to Crichton House to
see the fellows, this time with the mysterious glamour of a great
public school about him, he may yet obtain forgiveness, for she is
getting horribly tired of Kiffin, who, to tell the truth, is something
of a milksop.
As for the Garudâ Stone, I really cannot say what has become of it.
Perhaps it was dashed to pieces on the cobble-stones of the stables
behind the terrace, and a good thing too. Perhaps it was not, and is
still in existence, with all its dangerous powers as ready for use as
ever it was; and in that case the best I can wish my readers is, that
they may be mercifully preserved from finding it anywhere, or if they
are unfortunate enough to come upon it, that they may at least be more
careful with it than Mr. Paul Bultitude, by whose melancholy example I
trust they will take timely warning.
And with these very sincere wishes I beg to bid them a reluctant
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