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morning. After a while he went higher “Mother,” said Dick, “did you never up the stream and bathed more than his think as you'd like to try staying still in soul - his body too, which was much the one place and getting a little bit of a better for the bath; and then came back home?" again along the Brocas, having crossed in “ No, Dick," said the woman, hastily ; the punt by which some early workmen “don't ask me — I couldn't do it. It went to their occupation, pondering many would kill me if I were made to try." things in his mind, If a fellow could get “No one ain't a-going to make you," settled work now here - a fellow who was said Dick, soothingly; “but look here, not so fortunate as to have a mother who mother - now tell me, didn't you ever could take in washing ! Dick extended try ?" his arms as he walked, and stretched him- "Oh yes, I've tried - tried hard self, and felt able for a man's work, though enough — till I was nigh dead of it - " he was only sixteen - hard work, not “I can't remember, mother." light - a good long day, from six in the “It was before your time," she said, morning till six at night; what did he with a sigh and uneasy movement care how hard the work was, so long as “before you were born.” he was off the road, and had some little Dick did not put any further questions. nook or corner of his own – he did not He had never asked anything about his even mind how tiny - to creep into, and father. A tramp's life has its lessons as identify as his, absolutely his, and not well as a lord's, and Dick was aware that another's ? The cottages facing to the it was not always expedient to inquire Brocas were too fine and too grand for into the life, either public or private, of his aspirations. Short of the ambitious your predecessors. He had not the least way of taking in washing, he saw no royal notion that there had been anything parroad to such comfort and splendour; but ticular about his father, but took it for homelier places no doubt might be had. granted that he must have been such a What schemes were buzzing in his young one as Joe or Jack, in rough coat and head as he walked back towards Coffin knotted handkerchief, a wanderer like the Lane! He had brought out a hunch of rest. He accepted the facts of existence bread with him, which his mother had as they stood without making any diffiput aside last night, and which served for culties, and therefore he did not attempt breakfast, and satisfied him fully. He to “ worrit” his mother by further referwanted no delicacies of a spread table, ence to the past, which evidently did and dreams of hot coffee did not enter“ worrit” her. “Well, never mind that," his mind. On winter mornings, doubt- he said ; "you shan't never be forced to less, it was tempting when it was to be anything if I can help it. But if so be as had in the street, and pennies were forth-|I got work, and it was for my good to coming ; but it would have been sheer stay in a place - supposing it might be extravagance on such a day as this. The here?” bread was quite enough for all Dick's “Here's different,” said his mother, need; but his mind was busy with pro-dreamily. jects ambitious and fanciful. He went “That's just what I think," cried Dick, back to the lodging-house to find his too wise to ask why; “it's a kind of a mother taking the cup of weak tea with place where a body feels free like, where out milk which was her breakfast; and, you can be gone tó-morrow if you please as it was still too early to go to his ap- - the forest handy and Ascot handy, and pointment to Val, begged her to come barges as will give you a lift the moment out with him that he might talk with her; as you feel it the right thing to go. there was no accommodation for private That's just what I wanted to ask you, talk in the tramps' lodging-house, al- mother. If I got a spell of work along of though most of the inmates by this time that young swell as I'm going to see, or were gone upon their vagrant course. anything steady, mightn't we try? If Dick took his mother out by the river- you felt on the go any day, you might side again, and led her to a grassy bank just take the road again and no harm above the gravel-heap and the workmen, done ; or if you felt as you could sit still where the white houses on the Brocas, and make yourself comfortable in the and the waving lines of clean linen put house out to dry, were full in sight. He began “I could never sit still and make mythe conversation cunningly, with this self comfortable,” she said ; "I can't be practical illustration of his discourse be- happy out of the air, Dick -I can't fore his eyes.
I breathe ; and sitting still was never my way - nor you couldn't do it neither,” , only a dame's, not a master's house. she added, looking in his face.
The elegant young Grinder, who was “Oh, couldn't I though !” said Dick, Val's tutor, was but a younger branch of with a laugh. “Mother, you don't know his exalted family, and had no immediate much about me. I am not one to grum- share in the grandeurs of the establishble, I hope — but if you'll believe me, ment, which was managed by a dominie the thing I'd be proudest of would be to or dame, a lay member of the Eton combe bound prentis and learn a trade." munity, who taught nothing, but only “ Dick!"
superintended the meals and morals of “I thought you'd be surprised. I his great houseful of boys. Such perknow I'm too old now, and I know it's sonages have no place in Eton proper no good wishing," said the boy. “Many the Eton of the Reformation period, so to and many's the time I've lain awake of speak — but they were very important in nights thinking of it; but I saw as it Val's time. Young Brown went to a side wasn't to be done nohow, and never door, and asked for Mr. Ross with a little spoke. I've give up that free and full, i timidity. He was deeply conscious of mother, and never bothered you about the fact that he was nothing but “a cad” what couldn't be; so you won't mind if I -- not a kind of visitor whom either dame 'bother a bit now. If I could get a long or tutor would permit “one of the genspell of work, mother dear! There's tlemen” to receive ; and, indeed, I think them men at the gravel, and there's a Dick would have been sent ignominiousdeal of lads like me employed about the ly away but for his frank and open counrafts; and down at Eton they're wanted tenance, and the careful washing, both in in every corner, for the fives-courts and the river and out of it, which he had that the rackets, and all them things. Now morning given himself. He was told to supposing as this young swell has took a wait; and he waited, noting, with curious fancy to me, like I have to him - and eyes, the work of the great house which supposing as I get work — let's say sup- went on under his eyes, and asking himposing, for it may never come to nothing, self how he would like to be in the place -- wouldn't you stay with me a bit, of the young curly-headed footman who mother, and try and make a home ?”. was flying about through the passages,
“I'd like to see the gentleman, Dick," up-stairs and down, on a hundred ersaid his mother, ignoring his appeal. rands ; or the other aproned functionary
“ The gentleman !” said the boy, a lit- who was visible in a dark closet at a disa tle disappointed. And then he added, tance, cleaning knives with serious percheerily — “Well, mother dear, you shall sistence, as if life depended on it. Dick see the gentleman, partickler if you'll decided that he would not like this mode stay here a bit, and I have regular work, of making his livelihood. He shrank and we get a bit of an 'ome.”
even from the thought - I cannot tell “He would never come to your home, why, for he had no sense of pride, and lad - not the likes of him.”
knew no reason why he should not have “You think a deal of him, mother. taken service in Grinder's, where the serHe mightn't come to Coffin Lane ; Ivants, as well as the other inmates, lived daresav as the gentlemen in college don't on the fat of the land, and wanted for let young swells go a-visiting there. But nothing ; but somehow his fancy was not you take my word, you'll see him ; for attracted by such a prospect. He watched he's taken a fancy to me, I tell you. the cleaner of knives, and the curlyThere's the quarter afore ten chiming. I headed footman in his livery, with intermust be off now, mother; and if any-est; but not as he watched the lads on thing comes in the way you'll not go the river, whose life was spent in launchagainst me ? not when I've set my heart ling boats and withdrawing them from on it, like this?”
the water in continual succession. He “I'll stay - a bit - to please you, I had no pride ; and the livery and the live Dick," said the woman. And the lad ing were infinitely more comfortable than sprang up and hastened away with a liglit anything he had ever known. “ His heart. This was so much gained. He mind did not go with it," he said to himwent quickly down, walking on through self; and that was all it was necessary to the narrow High Street of Eton to say. the great red house in which his new While he was thus meditating, Valenfriend was. Grinder's was an institu- tine Ross, in correct Eton costume tion in the place, the most important - black cont, high hat, and white necktie of all the Eton boarding houses, though'- fresh from his tutor, with books under
LIVING AGE. VOL. VI. 314 .
his arm, came in, and spied him where he wrote a hasty answer, for such important stood waiting. Val's face lightened up business cannot wait. Dick, waiching into pleased recognition, - more readily his movements, felt with genuine gratifithan Dick's did, who was slow to recog- cation that here was another commission nize in this solemn garb the figure which for him. But his patron's next step made he had seen in undress dripping from his countenance fall, and filled his soul the waters. “Hollo, Brown !” said Val; / with wonder. Val opened his door, and “I am glad you have kept your time. with stentorian voice shouted “ Lower Come up-stairs and I'll give you what I boy!” into the long passage. There was promised you.” Dick followed his patron a momentary pause, and then steps were up-stairs, and through a long passage to heard in all directions up and down, ratVal's room. “Come in,” said Val, rum- tling over the bare boards, and about maging in a drawer of his bureau for the balf-a-dozen young gentlemen in a lump half-crown with which he meant to pre- came tumbling into the room. Val insent his assistant of last night. Dick en-spected them with lofty calm, and held tered timidly, withdrawing his cap from out his note to the last comer, over the his head. The room was quite small, the heads of the others. “Take this to bed folded up, as is usual at Eton. The Benton at Guerre's,” he said, with admibureau, or writing-desk with drawers, rable brevity ; and immediately the mesadorned by a red-velvet shelf on the top, senger departed, the little crowd melted stood in one corner, and a set of book-away, and the two boys were again alone. shelves similarly decorated in another; al “I say, I mustn't keep you here,” said heterogeneous collection of pictures, hung í Val; “my dame mightn't like it. Here's as closely as possible, the accumulation your half-crown. Have you got anything of two years, covered the walls ; some to do yet? I think you're a handy fellow, little carved brackets of stained wood and I shouldn't mind saying a word for held little plaster figures, not badly you if I had the chance. What kind of modelled, in which an Italian image-seller place do you want ?" drove a brisk trade among the boys. A “I don't mind what it is,” said Dick. blue and black coat, in bright stripes “ I'd like a place at the rafts awful, if I (need I add that Val — august distinction was good enough ; or anything, sir. I - was in the Twenty-Two ?), topped by don't mind, as long as I can make enough a cap of utterly different but equally to keep me – and mother; that's all I 'bright hues — the colours of the house - care." hung on the door ; a fine piece of colour, “Was that your mother?” said Val. if perhaps somewhat violent in contrast. “Do you work for her too?" The window was full of bright geraniums, “Well, sir, you see she can make a deal which grew in a box outside, and gar- in our old way. She is a great one with 'landed with the yellow canariensis and the cards when she likes, but she won't wreaths of sweet-peas. Dick looked never do it except when we're hard up round upon all these treasures, his heart and she's forced ; for she says she has to throbbing with admiration, and some tell the things she sees, and they always thing that would have been envy had it comes true : but what I want is to stay 'been possible to hope or wish for any in one place, and get a bit of an 'ome to'thing so beautiful and delightful for him-gether — and she ain't good for gentleself; but as this was not possible, the inen's washing or that sort, worse luck," boy's heart swelled with pleasure that said Dick, regretfully. “So you see, sir, his young patron should possess it, which if she stays still to please me, I'll bave to was next best. “Wait a moment," cried | work for her, and good reason. She's Val, finding, as he pursued his search, a been a good mother to me, never going note laid upon his bureau, which had on the loose, nor that, like other women been brought in in his absence; and Dick do. I don't grudge my work.” stood breathless, gazing round him, glad! Val did not understand the curious of the delay which gave him time to take tingling that ran through his veins. He in every detail of this school-boy palace was not consciously thinking of his own into his inind. The note was about some mother, but yet it was something like momentous piece of business, — the do-sympathy that penetrated his sensitive mestic economy of that one of “the mind. “I wish I could help you," he boats" in which Val rowed number said, doubtfully. “I'd speak to the peoseven, with hopes of being stroke when ple at the rafts, but I don't know if they'd Jones left next Election. He bent his mind me. I'll tell you what, though," he brows over it, and seizing paper and pen, I added, with sudden excitement. “I can do better than that — I'll get Lichen to approaching no nearer to completion. speak to them! They might not care for Dick surveyed it with glowing eyes. me - but they'll mind what Lichen says.” “I saw some like it in a shop as I came
Dick received reverentially and grate-down. Oh, how I should like to try! fully, but without understanding the full I've cut things myself out of a bit of grandeur of the idea, this splendid prom- wood with an old knife, and sold them at ise — for how should the young tramp the fair.” have known, what I am sure the reader “And you think you could do this must divine, that Lichen was that Olym- without any lessons ?" said Val, laughpian demigod and king among men, the ing; “ just take and try it. I wonder Captain of the Boats? If Lichen had what old Fullady would say! there are asked the Queen for anything, I wonder the saws and things. But look here, if her Majesty would have had the cour you'll have to go, for it's time for eleven age to refuse him ? but at all events no- o'clock school. Take the whole concern body about the river dared to deny him. with you, quick, and I'll give you five To be spoken to by Lichen was, to an bob if you can finish it. Remember after ordinary mortal, distinction enough to six at the rafts to-night.” last him half his (Eton) days. Dick did: Thus saying, the young patron pushed not see the magnificence of the prospect his protégé before him out of the room, that thus opened to him, but Val knew all laden with the wood-carving, and rushed that was implied in it, and his counte- off himself with a pile of books under his nance brightened all over. “I don't arm. All the boys in the house seemed think they can refuse Lichen anything,” | flooding out, and all the boys in Eton to he said. “ Look here, Brown ; meet us be pouring in different directions, one at the rafts after six, and I'll tell you stream intersecting another, as Dick iswhat is done. I wish your mother would sued forth, filled with delight and hope. tell me my fortune. Lots of fellows He had not a corner to which he could would go to her if they knew; but then take the precious bit of work he had the masters wouldn't like it, and there been intrusted with — nothing but the might be a row.”
common room of the tramps' lodging* Bless you, sir, mother wouldn't — not house. Oh for a “home," not so grand for the Bank of England,” cried Dick.as Val's little palace, but anything that “ She might tell you yours, if I was to would afford protection and quiet - a ask her. Thank you kindly, sir ; I'll be place to decorate and pet like a child ! there as sure as life. It's what I should This feeling grew tenfold stronger in like most."
Dick's heart as he sat wistfully on the “If Lichen speaks for you, you'll get river's bank, and looked across at the rafts it," said Val; “ and I know Harry wants in which were sublime possibilities of boys. You're a good boy, ain't you ?” work and wages. How he longed for the he added, looking at him closely — you evening! How he counted the moments look it. And mind, if we recommend you, as the day glowed through its mid hours, and you're found out to be rowdy or bad and the sun descended the western sky, after, and disgrace us, Lichen will give and the hour known in these regions as you such a licking! Or for that matter, after six” began to come down softly I'll do it myself.”
on Eton and the world ! “ I'm not afraid,” said Dick. “I ain't rowdy ; and if I get a fixed place and a
CHAPTER XVII. chance of making a home, you just try Dick's mother sat upon the bank me, and see if I'll lose my work for the where he had left her, with her hands sake of pleasure. I ain't that sort.” i clasping her knees, and her abstract eyes
“I don't believe you are," said Val ; gazing across the river into the distance, “ only it's right I should warn you; for seeing scarcely anything before her, but Lichen ain't a fellow to stand any non-seeing much which was not before her sense, and no more am 1. Do you nor could be. A tramp has no room to think that's pretty ? I'm doing it, but I sit in, no domestic duties to do, even haven't the time.”
were she disposed to do them; and to This was said in respect to a piece of sit thus in a silent musing, or without wood-carving, which Valentine had be even musing at all, in mere empty leisure, gun in the beginning of the year, and beaten upon by wind and sun, was as which lay there, like many another en- characteristic of her wandering life as terprise commenced, gathering dust but were the long fatigues of the road along which at other times she would plod for the most rigid conventional life, and hours, or the noisy tumult of race-course bound, had she known it, by as unyieldor fair through which she often carried | ing a lacework of custom as any that lier serious face and abstract eyes -- a could have affected the life of the Hon. figure always remarkable and never hav- ourable Mrs. Richard Ross, the wife of ing any visible connection with the scene the Secretary of Legation. But she did in which she was. But this day she was not know this, poor soul; and besides, as she had not been for years. The all possibility of that other existence, all heart which fulfilled its ordinary pulsa- hold upon it or thought of it, had disaptions in her breast calmly and dully on peared out of her horizon for sixteen most occasions, like something far off years. and scarcely belonging to her, was now Sixteen years! a large slice out of a throbbing high with an emotion which woman's life who had not yet done more influenced every nerve and fibre of her than pass the half-way milestone of huframe. It had never stilled since last man existence. She had never possessed night when she heard Val's name sound- so much even of the merest rudimentary ing clear through the sunny air, and saw education as to know what the position the tall well-formed boy, with his wet of Richard Ross's wife meant, except jersey clinging to his shoulders, moving that it involved living in a house, wearing swiftly away from her, a vision, but more good clothes, and being surrounded by substantial than any other vision. Her people of whom she was frightened, who old heart, the heart of her youth, had did not understand her, and whom she leaped back into life at that moment; could not understand. Since her flight and instead of the muffled beating of the back into her natural condition, the slow familiar machine which had simply kept years had brought to her maturing mind her alive all these years, a something full thoughts which she understood as little. of independent life, full of passion, and she was not more educated, more clever, eagerness, and quick-coming fancies, and nor indeed more clear in her confused hope, and fear, had suddenly come to fancies, than when she gave back one of life within her bosom. I don't know if her boys, driven thereto by a wild sense her thoughts were very articulate. They of justice, into his father's keeping; but could scarcely have been so, uneducated, many strange things had seemed to pass untrained, undisciplined soul as she was before her dreamy eyes since then,
- a creature ruled by impulses, and with things she could not fathom, vague no hand to control her ; but as she sat visions of what might have been right, there, and saw her placid Dick go hap- of what was wrong. These had come to pily off, to meet the other lad who was to little practical result, except in so far that him “a young swell," able to advance she had carefully preserved her boy Dick and help him, one to whom he had taken from contact with the evil around - had a sudden fancy, he could not tell why,-trained him in her way to truth and the strangeness of the situation roused goodness and some strange sense of her to an excitement which she was in honour - had got him even a little educapable of subduing. “It mayn't be him cation, the faculties of reading and writafter all - it mayn't be him after all," ing, which were to herself a huge disshe said to herself, watching Dick till he tinction among her tribe ; and, by keepdisappeared into the distance. She ing him in her own dreamy and silent would have given all she had (it was not but pure companionship, had preserved much) to go with him, and look face to face the lad from moral barm. She had, howupon the other. It seemed to her that ever, a material to work upon which had she must know at the first glance whether saved her much trouble. The boy was, it was him or not. But, indeed, she had to begin with, of a character as incomno doubt that it was him. For I do not prehensible to her as were the other attempt to make any pretence at deceiv- vague and strange influences which had ing the well-informed and quick-sighted shaped her shipwrecked life. He was reader, who knows as well as I do who good, gentle, more advanced than herthis woman was. She had carried on her self, his teacher, in the higher things wandering life, the life which she had which she tried to teach him, getting by chosen, for the last eight years, exposed instinct to conclusions which only pinto all the vicissitudes of people in her fully and dimly bad forced themselves condition, sometimes in want, often mis- upon her, not subject to the temptations erable, pursuing in her wild freedom a which she expected to move him, not routine as mechanically fixed as that of 'lawless, nor violent, nor hard to control,