Julian Home
by Dean Frederic W. Farrar
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

As the time drew near, Julian became more and more feverish with eagerness, and his friends feared that he would hinder, by over reading, his real probability of success. Kennedy felt this most strongly, but being himself engaged in the competition, was afraid that any attempt to divert Julian's thoughts would not have a disinterested look. Lillyston and De Vayne, unrestrained by such motives, did all they could to take him from his books, and amuse him by turning his attention to other subjects; but with such strong reasons for exertion, and so much depending on success or failure, the Clerkland scholarship continued ever the prominent subject of Julian's thoughts.

At last the long looked for week arrived. After chapel, on the Sunday morning, De Vayne invited himself to breakfast with Julian, and continued in his company the greater part of the day, going with him to the University sermon. He entirely forbade Julian even to allude more than once to the coming examination, and managed in the evening to get him to come to his rooms, where, with some other Hartonians and Kennedy, they spent a very pleasant evening.

"Good-night," he said to Julian, as he strolled with him to his stair-case across the starlight court; "don't stay up to-night. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

The examination was to last a week, and Julian rose for it refreshed and cheerful on Monday morning. The papers suited him excellently, and his hopes rose higher and higher as he felt that in each paper he had done to the utmost of his knowledge and ability. He had not been able to afford a private tutor during the term, with whom he might have discussed the papers, but he sent his Iambics and Latin verse to Mr Carden at Harton, who wrote back a most favourable and encouraging judgment of them, and seemed to regard Julian's success as certain. Julian had implicit confidence in his opinion, for Mr Carden entered very warmly into all his hopes and wishes, and kept up with him an affectionate correspondence, which had helped him out of many intellectual difficulties, and lessened the force of many a temptation.

The papers usually lasted from nine till twelve in the morning, and from two to four in the afternoon. It was on the Friday morning, when only three more papers remained, that Julian found Mr Carden's kind and hopeful letter lying on his breakfast-table at eight o'clock; he read it with a glow of pleasure, because he knew that he could rely thoroughly on the accuracy and truth of his old tutor's judgment, and as he read and re-read it, his hopes rose higher and higher. Finishing breakfast, he began to build castles in the air, and to imagine to himself the delight it would be to write and tell the Doctor and Mr Carden of this new leaf to the Harton laurels. Never before had he a more reasonable ground for favourable expectation, and he began almost to run over in his mind the sort of letter he would write, and the kind of things he would say. Leaning over his window-sill, he enjoyed the cool feeling of the early spring breeze on his brow and hair, and then, finding by his watch that it was time to start, he took his cap and gown, and prepared to sally out to the senate-house.

It was the custom of the gyp, when he had laid breakfast, and put the kettle on the fire, to go away and "sport the oak," (i e, shut the outer door), so as to prevent any one from coming into the rooms until their owner was awake and dressed. Julian therefore was not surprised to see his door "sported," but was surprised to find that, when he lifted the latch, the door did not open to his touch. He pushed it with some force, and then kicked it with his foot to see if some stone or coal had not caught against it, but the door still remained obstinately closed; he put his shoulder against it, fancying that some heavy weight like the coal-box or water-pitcher might have been placed outside,—but all in vain; the thick door did not even stir, and then there flashed upon Julian the bitter truth that he had been screwed in. He understood now the stifled titter which he fancied he had heard after one of his most violent efforts to get out.

In one instant, before he had time to think, a fit of blind, passionate, uncontrollable fury had clouded and overpowered Julian's whole mind. Almost unconscious of what he was doing, he kicked the door with all his might, and beat on it savagely with his clenched fists until his knuckles streamed with blood; he forgot everything but the one burning determination to get out at all hazards, and to wreak on Brogten, whom he felt to be the author of his calamity, some desperate and terrible revenge. But the thick oak door, screwed evidently with much care; and in many places, resisted all his efforts, and no one came to help him from outside. The gyp, who was usually about, happened to have gone on an errand; the stair-case was one of the most secluded in the college; the Fellow who was Julian's nearest neighbour had "gone down" for a few days, and it was improbable that any one ever heard him except Brogten, to whom, he thought, every sound of his angry violence would be perfect music.

All was useless, and Julian, as he strode up and down the room, clenched his hands, and bit his lips in passionate excitement. Suddenly it struck him that he would escape by the window; but looking out for the purpose, he found that, when he had jumped on the sloping roof below him, he was still thirty feet above the ground, which, in that place, was not the turf of the bowling-green, but a hard gravel road. Giving up the attempt in despair he sat down, and covered his face with his hands; but instantly the picture of the senate-house, with the sixty candidates who were trying for the scholarship, all writing at some new paper—while he was thus cut off, (as he thought), from the long-desired accomplishment of all his hopes—rose before his eyes, and springing up once more he seized the poker, and raising it over his shoulder like a hammer, brought down the heavy iron knob with a crash on the oaken panels. He struck again and again, but, by a shower of fierce blows, could only succeed in covering the door with deep round dents. Finally he seized the heaviest chair in the room, and dashed it savagely with one heavy drive against the unyielding oak; a second blow shivered the chair to splinters, and Julian, a compulsory prisoner at that excited moment, flung himself on the sofa, furious and weary, with something that sounded like a fierce imprecation.

Full twenty minutes had been occupied by his futile and frantic efforts, and for a few moments longer he sat still in a stupor of grief and rage. Meanwhile, several of the other competitors for the Clerkland had noticed his absence in the senate-house, and Owen and Kennedy kept directing anxious glances to the door, and dreading that he was ill. At last half an hour had elapsed, and Kennedy, unable any longer to endure the suspense, went up to the examiner and said—

"One of the candidates is absent, sir. Would you allow me to go and inquire the reason?"

"Who is it?" asked the examiner.

"Home, sir."

"Indeed. But I am afraid I cannot allow you to leave the senate-house; the rules, you know, on this subject are necessarily very strict."

"Then, sir, I will merely show up what I have written, for I am sure there must be some unusual reason for Home's absence."

"Oh, no, Mr Kennedy, pray don't do so," said the examiner, who knew how well Kennedy had been doing; "I will send the University marshal to inquire for Mr Home; it is a very unusual compliment to pay him, but I think it may be as well to do so."

It so happened that, as the marshal crossed the court to Julian's rooms, Lillyston and De Vayne, who were strolling towards the grounds, caught sight of him, and went with much curiosity to inquire the object of his errand.

"Home not in the senate-house," said Lillyston, on hearing the marshal's answer. "Good heavens, what can be the matter?" and without waiting to hear more, he darted to Julian's door, and called his name.

"What do you want?" said Julian in a fretful and angry voice.

"Why are you sported? And why aren't you in for the Clerkland?"

"Can't you see, then?"

"What! So you are screwed in," said Lillyston in deep surprise; "wait three minutes, Julian, three minutes, and I will let you out."

He sprang down-stairs, four steps at a time, borrowed a screwdriver at the porter's lodge, was back in a moment, and then with quick and skilful hand he drew out, one after another, the screws which had been driven deep into the door.

Julian lifted the latch inside, and Lillyston saw with surprise and pain his scared and wild glance. Julian said not a word, but rushed past his friend, and burst furiously into Brogten's room. Fortunately Brogten was not in, for the moment he heard steps approaching, he had purposely gone out; but Lillyston followed Julian, and said—

"Come, this is folly, Julian; you have not a moment to lose. You will be already nearly an hour late, and remember that the Clerkland may depend upon it."

He suffered himself to be led, but as he walked he was still silent, and seemed as though he were trying to gulp down some hard knot that rose in his throat. His expression was something totally different from anything that Lillyston had ever observed in him, even from a boy, and his feet seemed to waver under him as he walked.

De Vayne joined them in the court, and was quite startled to see Julian looking so ill. He saw that it was no time to trouble him with idle inquiries, and merely pressed him to come into his rooms and take some wine before going to do the paper. Julian silently complied. The kind-hearted young viscount took out a bottle of wine, of which Julian swallowed off a tumblerful, and then, without speaking a word, strode off to the senate-house, which he reached pale and agitated, attracting, as he entered, the notice and commiseration of all present.

The examiner, with a kind word of encouragement, and an inquiry as to the cause of his delay, which Julian left unanswered, promised to allow him in the evening as much additional time for doing the paper as he had already lost. Julian bowed, and walked to his place.

And now that he was seated, with the paper before him, he found himself in a condition to do nothing. His mind was in a tumult of wrath and sorrow. Bitter sorrow that his hopes should be shattered; fiery wrath that any one should have treated him with such malignant cruelty. His brain swam giddily, and his head throbbed with violent pain. His hands were still raw and bleeding with his efforts to burst open the door; and the consciousness that his whole appearance was wild, and that several eyes were upon him, unnerved him so completely, that he was quite unable to collect or control his scattered senses. He made but little progress. The clock of Saint Mary's told the passing hours, and at twelve Julian found himself with nothing written except a few half-finished and incoherent sentences which he was ashamed to show up. Dashing the nib of his pen on the desk, he split it to pieces; and then, tearing up his papers, was hurrying out, when the voice of the examiner suddenly recalled him.

"You have not shown me up any papers, Mr Home."

"No, sir," he answered sullenly.

"Indeed! But why?"

"I have not done any, sir."

"Really. I am sorry for that. It is a serious matter, for you have been doing remarkably well, and—Are you not feeling well?"

"No, sir, not exactly."

"Hum! Well, it is a great pity; a great pity; a very great pity. However—"

There seemed to be no more to say, and as Julian's mind was in too turbulent a state to allow of his being communicative, he did not trust himself to make any remark, and left the room.

Kennedy, who came up with him as he went out, asked what was the matter; but as he only answered with an impatient gesture, and evidently seemed to wish to be alone, Kennedy left him and went to inquire of Lillyston what had happened, while Julian hastened to the solitude of his own room, and breaking with his poker one of the outer hinges of his door, to secure himself from a second imprisonment, flung himself on a chair, and pressed his hands to his burning forehead. In his bitterness of soul he half determined to abandon all further attempt to gain the Clerkland, and dwelt, with galling recurrence, on the anguish of defeated aims. But the sound of the clock striking the hour of examination started him into sudden effort, and almost mechanically he seized his cap and gown, and went out without food and unrefreshed.

Although he endeavoured, with all his might, to shake off all thought of the morning's insult and misfortune, he only partially succeeded, and when he folded up his papers, he felt that the fire and energy which had shone so conspicuously during the earlier days of the examination, and had imparted such strength and brilliancy to his efforts, were utterly extinguished, and had left him wandering and weak. When the time was over, he went to De Vayne's rooms, and said abruptly—

"De Vayne, will you lend me your riding-whip?"

"Certainly," said De Vayne, starting up to meet him.

"Are you going to have a ride? I wish you would ride my horse; I'll hire another, and come with you."

"No; I don't want a ride."

"What do you want the whip for, then?" said De Vayne uneasily.

"Nothing. Let me go; it must be time for you to go to hall."

"I'm not going to dine in hall to-day," said De Vayne. "Dining at the high table, with none but dons to talk to, is dull work for an undergraduate. Stop! you shall dine with me here, Julian. I know you won't care to go to hall to-day. Nay, you shall," he said, putting his back against the door; "I shall be as dull as night without you."

He made Julian stay, for it happened that at that moment his gyp brought up dinner, and Julian, hungry and weary, was tempted to sit down. De Vayne, who only too well divined his reason for borrowing the whip, was delighted at having succeeded in detaining him, for he knew that the only time when Julian would be likely to meet Brogten was immediately after hall.

Wiling away the time with exquisite tact—talking to him without pressing him to talk much in reply—turning his thoughts to indifferent subjects, until he had succeeded in arousing his interest—the young viscount detained his guest till evening, and then persuaded him to have tea. Lord De Vayne played well on the piano, and knowing Julian's passion for music, was rewarded for his unselfish efforts by complete success in rousing his attention. He played some of the finest passages of a recent and beautiful oratorio, until Julian almost forgot his troubles, and was ready to talk with more freedom and in a kindlier mood.

"You surely won't want the whip now," said De Vayne in some dismay, as Julian picked it up on saying good-night.

"Yes, I shall," answered Julian. "Good-night!"



"Once more will the wronger, at this last of all. Dare to say 'I did wrong,' rising in his fall?" Browning.

The story of Brogten's practical joke, and the circumstances which made it so unusually disgraceful, spread with lightning-like rapidity through Saint Werner's College; and when he swaggered into hall with his usual self-confident air, he was surprised to find himself met with cold and even with frowning looks. Snatches of conversation which went on around him soon showed him the reason of the general disapprobation; and when he learnt how violently the current of popular opinion was beginning to set against him, and how unfavourable a view was taken of his conduct, he began seriously to regret that he had given the reins to his malice.

"I shouldn't wonder now if Home were to lose the Clerkland; he was sure of it before this morning," said one.

"What a cursed shame!" echoed another. "I never in my life heard a more blackguard trick. That fellow Brogten has lost the Hartonians the scholarship; lucky if he hasn't lost it to Saint Werner's too. Perhaps that Benedict man will get it."

"I say, Kennedy," said a third, "if I were you or Lillyston, or any other of Home's particular friends, I'd duck Brogten."

"Let's wait till we see whether Home does lose the scholarship first," said Lillyston. "If he does, Brogten deserves anything; but I have strong hopes yet."

"I know Home," said Kennedy, "and he would never forgive such an interference, or I declare I should be inclined to do it."

"I should like to see you do it," thundered Brogten, from a farther end of the table.

"I have just given my reasons for not seeing fit to do it," said Kennedy, with a curl of the lip. "By the bye, Mr Brogten," he continued sarcastically, "I hope that you don't, after this, expect to be paid any of the bets you have made against Home's getting the Clerkland?"

"There's my betting-book," replied Brogten, flinging it at Kennedy, whom it struck in the face, and who took no further notice of the insult than to pick up the book, and throw it into the great brazier, full of glowing charcoal, which stands in the centre of Saint Werner's hall.

"Don't do that, confound you!" cried Brogten, springing up. "Do you think there are no bets in it but those about the Clerkland?"

"Keep your missiles to yourself, then," said Kennedy, while Brogten burnt his fingers in the vain attempt to rescue his book.

"I hope you've at least hedged, or behaved as judiciously in the case of your other bets as in those about the Clerkland," suggested one of his sporting friends.

This last sneer and insinuation was too much, and it galled the proud man to the quick to hear the laugh of scorn which followed it. He turned round, seized his cap, and flinging at Kennedy a look of intense and concentrated hatred, left the hall, and rushed up to his rooms.

To do Brogten justice, he had never intended for a moment to affect Julian's chance of ultimate success, when he enjoyed the mean satisfaction of screwing up his door. He had regarded him with indeed dislike, which received a tinge of deeper intensity from the envy, and even admiration, with which it was largely mingled. But although he had calculated that his trick might be more telling and offensive if done at this particular opportunity, and although he had quite sufficient grudge against his former school-fellow to wish him a deep annoyance, yet he would never have dreamed of wilfully thwarting his most cherished aims, or materially affecting his prospects and position. So vile a malice would have been intolerable to any one, and the thought of it was thoroughly intolerable to Brogten, in whom all gleams of honourable feeling were by no means extinguished, however dormant they might seem. It had never entered into his thoughts to anticipate the violent consequences which his act had produced; and when told of Julian's passion and suffering, he had felt such real remorse that he had even half intended to wait for him as he went to hall, and there, (in a quasi-public manner, since some men were sure to be standing about on the hall steps), to endure the mortification of expressing his regret to the man whom he had chosen to treat as his enemy. But when he found himself cut and jeered at—when he was even met by the suggestion that he had intended basely to serve his own pecuniary interests at Julian's expense—a method of swindling which he had never for one instant contemplated—all his softer and better feelings vanished at once, and created a brutal hardness in his heart, which now once more he was striving in solitude to mollify or remove.

And he succeeded so far that, while brooding savagely over the venomous shafts of sarcasm and ridicule with which Kennedy had wounded him, he gradually softened his feelings towards Julian, by transferring them in tenfold virulence against Julian's nearest friend. Home and he had been school-fellows after all, and Julian had never done him any wrong; on the contrary, he liked the boy; he remembered distinctly how the first seeds of ill-will against him had been sown, by the reserve with which Julian, as a school-fellow, had received his advances. Without being rude and uncivil, he had yet managed to hold aloof from him, and as Brogten was in some repute at Harton, when Home came, and was moreover an Hartonian of much longer standing, his sensitive pride had been stung by the fact that the "new fellow," whose pleasant face and manners had attracted his notice, did not at once and gratefully embrace his proffered friendship. Circumstances had tended to widen the breach between them, but secretly he liked Home still, and would have gladly been his friend. "And, after all," he thought, "Home has never once retaliated any injury which I have undoubtedly done him; he has never done me any harm. Even in the affair at the boats, he only did what was quite justifiable, and I was far more in the wrong than he was when I struck him. And now they all say I shall have prevented him from getting this confounded Clerkland. And I know how he longed for it, and how much all his hopes and wishes were fixed upon it. Upon my word, when I come to think of it, it was a very blackguard thing of me to do, and I wish I had been at the bottom of the sea before I did it. I think—yes—I think I'll go and see Home, and ask his pardon; yes, upon my word I need his forgiveness, and would give a good deal to get it. He's a grand fellow after all. I wish he'd take me as a friend. I should be infinitely better for it; and I will be better, too." And as he thus reasoned with himself, Brogten began to yearn for better things, and for Julian's friendship as a means of helping him to higher aims; and he remembered the lines—

"I would we were boys as of old, In the field, by the fold; His outrage. God's patience, man's scorn, Were so easily borne."

So his thoughts ran on, but when it occurred to him that no such humiliation on his part would perhaps go very far to mend the general disgust with which he had been greeted, he began to waver again. "What business had they to assume that I meant the worst? I may be a bad fellow, but," (and a mental oath followed), "I'm not a black-leg after all. That fellow Kennedy—curse him!—I'll be even with him yet. I swear that he shall rue it. I'll be a very fiend in the vengeance I take—curse him, curse him!" And stamping his heel furiously on the floor, he swallowed some raw brandy, and began to pace up and down his room.

The conflict of his thoughts lasted, almost without intermission, till evening. Finally, however, his heart softened towards Julian, as he ran over in his mind all the circumstances of the day. Cheating his conscience with the fancy that he was conquering his feelings of revenge and hate, while he was only displacing them with others of a deeper dye, he at last determined to go up at once to Julian's room, ask his pardon openly, honestly, and unreservedly, confess his past unworthy malice, and obtain, if possible, at least, Julian's forgiveness, perhaps even his friendship, in return for so great a victory over himself.

It was a victory over himself, and no slight one. For at least five years he had been nursing into dislike an inward feeling of respect for his enemy, and now to humble himself so completely before him, required a struggle of which he had hardly supposed himself capable, and of which he was secretly a little proud. It inspired him with better hopes for the future, and gave him a pledge of combating successfully other vicious propensities which had gained an ascendency over him.

Hesitatingly he went up to Julian's rooms; he saw the broken door, and it made him waver. All was silence inside, but still he hoped that Julian was in, because he felt sure that he should never persuade his natural pride to consent to such a sacrifice again. But yet, what should he say? He had been thinking of a thousand set forms of apology, but they all vanished, as, with beating heart, he knocked, a little loudly, at the door.

Julian, too, had been brooding on the events of the day, and fanning every now and then into fierce bursts of flame the dying embers of his morning's indignation. He took the worst view, and had every reason to take the worst view, of Brogten's intentions. He had received at his hands many wrongs, and an incivility as unvarying as it was undeserved. Of course he could not tell that this rudeness was but the cover of a real desire for cordiality between them, and now he fully believed that Brogten had intentionally, deliberately, and with malice prepense, formed a deep laid scheme to dash from his lips the cup of happiness as he was in the very act of tasting it. The success which had seemed in his very grasp would have removed the poverty, which had been one of the severest trials, not to himself only, but to those whom he most dearly loved; it was the thing—the one thing—of which he had thought, and for which he had prayed. "And now it was wrenched from him," so he thought, "by this mean and dastardly villain."

He had determined to horse-whip Brogten, at all hazards, though he knew that Brogten was far stronger than himself. De Vayne's manoeuvre had disconcerted his intention, for he could not carry it out in cold blood; but even now he felt by no means sure that he was right to take passively an insult which, if unresented, might, he thought, be repeated, some other time, and which, if frequently repeated would render college life wholly intolerable. All this was floating through his mind, when there came a loud—he took it for an insolent—knock at the door, and his enemy stood before him.

His enemy stood before him, humbled and remorseful, with the words of apology on his lips, and his heart full of such emotions as might have enabled Julian to convert him from an enemy into a lasting and grateful friend. But when he saw him, in one instant furious, unreasoning, headlong anger had again seized Julian's mind—the more easily because he had already yielded to it once. Without stopping to hear a word— without catching the gentler tone of Brogten's rough voice—without noticing his downcast expression of countenance—Julian sprang up, assumed that Brogten had come to ridicule or even insult him, glared at him, clenched his teeth, and then seizing De Vayne's riding-whip, laid it without mercy about Brogten's shoulders.

During the first few blows, Brogten was disarmed by intense surprise. Of all receptions, this was the only one which it had never occurred to him to contemplate. He had imagined Julian bitter, sarcastic, cold; he had prepared himself for a torrent of passionate and overwhelming invective; he had thought how to behave if Julian remained silent, or rejected with simple contempt his stammered apology; but to be horse-whipped by one so much weaker than himself—by one whom he remembered to have pitied and patronised when he came to Harton, a delicate rosy-cheeked boy—this he had certainly never thought of. Julian had almost expended his rage in half a dozen wild blows before Brogten was startled from his surprise into a consciousness of his position.

But when he did realise it all the demon took possession of his heart. He seized Julian by the collar, wrenched the whip out of his hand, and raised the silver knob at the end of the handle. What fearful hurt Julian might have received from so heavy a weapon in so powerful a hand, or how far Brogten's fury might have transported him, none can tell; but at that very moment he heard a step on the stairs, which arrested his violence, and the moment after Lillyston entered.

"What!" said Lillyston indignantly, as he caught the almost diabolical expression of Brogten's face. "Not content with doing your best to ruin Home, you are using personal violence to one not so strong as yourself. Come, sir, you have felt what I can do before. Drop that whip, or take the consequences."

"Stop, Hugh," said Julian sullenly; "I horse-whipped him first."

"You!" said Lillyston.

"Yes," answered Brogten slowly, while his voice shook with passion; "yes, he did horse-whip me, and I took it. Note that, you Lillyston, and don't think I'm afraid of you. And as for you, Home, listen to me. I came here solely to tell you that though I screwed you in, I never dreamt that such results would follow. I never dreamt—so help me, God!—of doing more than causing you ten minutes' annoyance; and now, when I was told how it had hindered you in the examination, I was heartily sorry and ashamed of what I had done, and,"—he began to speak lower and faster, as the remembrance of a better mood came over him—"and I came here, Home, to ask your forgiveness. Yes; I to beg pardon of you, and humbly and honestly too. And now you see how you have received me. Yes," he continued fiercely; "no word between us from henceforth. You have horse-whipped me, sir, and I, who never took a blow from man yet without returning it, have taken your horse-whipping. Take your whip," he said, flinging it to the end of the room; "and after that never dare to say that all accounts are not squared between us."

Lillyston made room for him to pass. With a lowering countenance he turned from them, and they continued silent till they had heard his last heavy footfall as he went down the echoing stairs.

Lillyston sat on the sofa, and Julian kept his eyes fixed on the floor. There seemed nothing to talk about, so Lillyston merely said, "Good-night, Julian. I came to advise you to go to bed early, and so get a good night's rest, that you may be yourself to-morrow. You have not been yourself to-day. Good-night."

But a worse evil had happened to Julian that day than hindrance in his career of ambition and hope. He had lost a golden opportunity for an act of Christian forgiveness which might have had the noblest influence on the life of an erring human soul. He had lost a golden opportunity of doing lasting good, and that, too, to one who hated him. Alas, it is too seldom that we have power in life to raise up them that fall! Julian felt bitterly, he felt even with poignancy, Brogten's closing words; but it was too late now to offer the forgiveness which would have been invaluable to his persecutor, and would have had a healing effect on his own troubled thoughts so short a time before. All this gave deeper vexation to Julian's heart as he went moodily to bed.

And Brogten? He sat sullenly over his fire till the last spark died from its ashes, and his lamp flickered out, and he shivered with cold. "It is of no use to conquer myself," he thought; "it is of no use to do better or be better if this comes of it. Horse-whipped, and by him!" But, as he had said, he no longer grieved over Julian's injury. That was wiped off by the horse-whipping, and he had now made himself understand that his inward respect for Home was deeper than the long superficial quarrel that had existed between them. It was against Kennedy that the current of his anger now swept this ever-growing temptation for revenge. His craving, often yielded to, became terrible in its virulence, and from this day forward there was in Brogten's character a marked change for the worse. He ever watched for his opportunity, certain that it would come in time; and this encouragement of one bad passion opened the floodgates for a hundred more. And so on this evening he went on selling himself more and more completely to the devil, till the anger within him burned with a red heat, and as he went to bed the last words he muttered to himself were, "That fellow Kennedy shall rue it; curse him, he shall rue it to his dying day."



How different our smaller trials look, when they are seen from the distance of a quiet and refreshful rest. Utterly wearied, Julian slept deeply, and when the servant awoke him next morning, he determined that as the errors of yesterday were irreparable, he would at least save the chances of to-day.

He rose at once, and read during breakfast the letter from home, which came to him from one of his family nearly every day. This morning it was from Violet, and he could see well how anxiously they were awaiting the result of his present examination, and yet how sure they were that he would succeed. Unwilling to trouble them by the painful circumstances of the day before, he determined not to write home again until the decision was made known.

This morning's paper was to be the last, and Julian applied to it the utmost vigour of his powers. After the first few moments, he had utterly banished every sorrowful reflection, and when the clock struck twelve, he felt that once more he had done himself justice. He answered with a smiling assent, the examiner's expressed hope, that his health was better than it had been the day before, and joining Owen as he left the senate-house, found, on comparing notes, that he had done the paper at least as well as his dreaded but friendly rival.

His spirits rose, and his hopes revived in full. Shaking off examination reminiscences, he proposed to De Vayne, Kennedy, and Lillyston a bathe in the Iscam, and then a long run across the country. They started at once, laughing and talking incessantly on every subject, except the Clerkland, which was tabooed. Ten minutes' run brought them to a green bend of the Iscam, where a bathing-shed had been built, and after enjoying the bathe as only the first bathe in a season can be enjoyed, they struck off over the fields towards some neighbouring villages, which De Vayne had often wanted to visit, because their old churches contained some quaint specimens of early architecture. On the way they passed through Barton Wood, and there found some fine specimens of herb Paris, with large bright purple berries resting on its topmost trifoliations, one of which Julian eagerly seized, saying that his sister had long wanted one for her collection of dried plants.

"I suppose you want the one you have gathered, De Vayne, for some botanist," said Lillyston.

"No—yes—at least I meant it for a lady, too; but it's of no use now," he said stammering.

"For a lady—of no use now," said Kennedy laughing; "what do you mean?"

"Oh, never mind," said Julian, as he noticed De Vayne's blush, and divined that he had meant the plant for Violet, but without knowing how much he was vexed by losing the opportunity of doing something for her.

They had a beautiful walk; De Vayne made little sketches of the windows and gargoyles of the village churches, and they all returned in the evening to a dinner which Lillyston had ordered in his own rooms, and which gave the rest an agreeable surprise when they got in.

"Julian," whispered De Vayne as they went away, "would you mind my sending that herb Paris to Vi—I beg pardon, to Miss Home, to your sister."

"Oh dear, yes, if you like," said Julian carelessly, surprised at the earnestness of his manner about such a trifle.

"It's only, you know, because Miss Home had heard that they were to be found near Camford, and asked me to get her one for her herbarium."

"Oh, very well, send it by all means. I shouldn't like you to break a promise."

"Thank you," said De Vayne; "and I suppose that Miss Home wouldn't mind my sending it in a letter."

"Certainly not," said Julian, laughing; "I've no doubt she'll be highly flattered. Here's the plant. Good-night."

"What could he have meant," thought he, "by making such a fuss about the trifolium, and by blushing so when Kennedy chaffed him? He surely can't have fallen in love with my dear little Vi." Now he thought of it, many indications seemed to show that such was really the case, and Julian contemplated the thought with singular pleasure. It did him good by diverting his attention from all harassing topics, and knowing that Violet was well worthy of Lord De Vayne, and could make him truly happy, while his high character and cultivated intellect rendered him well suited for her, he hoped in his secret heart that some day might see them united.

But Lord De Vayne, full of delight, took the plant, dressed it carefully, cut it to the size of an envelope, and then with a thrill of exquisite emotion sat down to write his letter to Violet Home.

"Dear Violet," he wrote, after having chosen a good sheet of note-paper and a first-rate pen, "you remember that I promised to find you a—"

"Dear Violet—no, that won't quite do," he said, as he read over what he had written, "at least not yet. How pretty it looks! What a charming name it is! I wish I might leave it, it does look so happy. I wonder whether it would do to call her Violet? No, I suppose not; at least not yet—not yet!" and the young viscount let his fancy wander away to Other Hall, and there by the grand old fireplace in the drawing-room he placed in imagination a slight graceful figure with soft fair hair, and a smile that lighted up an angel face,—and by her side he sat down, and let his thoughts wander through a vista of golden years.

Waking from his reverie, he found that his letter would be too late for the post, so he deferred it till Monday, and then wrote—

"Dear Miss Home—I enclose you a specimen of the herb Paris, which I promised to procure for you, if I could find one in Barton Wood. Julian was the actual discoverer, but has kindly allowed me to send it in fulfilment of my promise; he is quite well, and we are all hoping that you may hear in a day or two that he has got the Clerkland scholarship. With kindest remembrances to Mrs Home and your brothers, I remain, dear Miss Home, very truly yours, De Vayne."

Little did Violet dream that this commonplace note had given its author such deep pleasure, and that before he despatched it he had kissed it a thousand times for her sake, and because it was destined for her hand.

De Vayne would not have added the allusion to the Clerkland, but that rumours were already gaining ground in Julian's favour. The universal brilliancy of his earlier papers had already attracted considerable attention, and from mysterious hints at the high table, De Vayne began to gather almost with certainty that Julian was the successful candidate. Similar reports from various quarters were rife among the undergraduates, and were supposed to be traceable to competent authorities.

Wednesday evening came, and next morning the result was to be made known. As certainty approached, and suspense was nearly terminated, Julian awaited his fate with sickening, almost with trembling anxiety. At nine o'clock he knew that the paper on which was written the name of the Clerkland scholar would be affixed to the senate-house door, but he did not venture to go and read it. He knew that, if he were successful, a hundred men would be eager to rush up to his rooms with the joyful intelligence; if unsuccessful, he still trusted that he had one or two friends sufficiently sincere to put an end to his painful anxiety by telling him the news.

Nine o'clock struck. Oh, for the sound of some footstep on the stairs! Many must know the result by this time. Julian's hopes were still high, and he could not fail to hear of the numerous and seemingly authoritative reports which had ascribed success to him. He pressed his hands hard together, as he prayed that what was most for his welfare might be granted to him, and thought what boundless delight success would bring with it. What a joy it would be, above all, to write home, and gladden their hearts by the news of his triumph.

Every moment his suspense made him more feverish, and now the clock struck a quarter past nine, and he feared that in this case no news must be bad news. He leaned out of the window, and at this moment Mr Grayson strolled across the bowling-green. Then he heard another don, who was following him, call out—

"I say, do you know that the Clerkland is out?"

"Is it?" said Mr Grayson, with unusual show of interest.

"Yes. Who do you think has got it?"

"A Saint Werner's man, I hope."


"Well, who is it?"

What was the answer—Owen or Home?—at that distance the names sounded exactly alike.

"Oh, then, I am very sorry for—" Again Julian could not, with his utmost effort, catch the name with certainty; and, unable any longer to endure this state of doubt, he seized his cap and gown, when the sound of a slow footstep stopped him.

But it was Brogten's step, and Julian heard him pass into his own room.

A moment of breathless silence, and then another step, or rather the steps of two men; he detected by the sound that they were Lillyston and De Vayne. In one moment he would know the—Was it the best or the worst? He stood with his hand on the handle of the door; but it seemed as if they would never get to the top of the stairs. Why on earth were they so slow?

"Well," said Julian, as they came in sight, "is the Clerkland out?" He knew it was, but would not ask them the result.

"Yes," they both said; and Lillyston added, in a sorrowful tone of voice, "I am sorry for you, Julian, but Owen has got it."

Julian grew very pale, and for one second reeled as if he would faint. Lord De Vayne caught him as he staggered, and added eagerly, "But you are most honourably mentioned, Julian, 'proxime accessit,' and an allusion to your illness during one paper."

"Nothing, nothing," muttered Julian; "please leave me by myself." They were unwilling to leave him, and both lingered, but he entreated them to go, and respecting his desire for solitude they left him alone.

Julian found relief in a burst of passionate tears. He flung himself on the ground and cursed his birth, and his hard fate, and above all he cursed Brogten, who, as was clear, had been the cause, the sole cause, as Julian obstinately said, of his heavy misfortune. "Here I am," he murmured, "a sizar, an orphan, poor, without relations, with others depending on me, with my own way to make in the world, and now he has lost me the one thing I longed for, the one thing which would have made me happy," and as Julian kept brooding on this, on the loss of reputation, of help, of hope, his eyes grew red and swollen, and his temples throbbed with pain. He was far from strong, and the shock of news that shattered all his hopes, and dashed rudely to the ground his long, long cherished desires, came more heavily upon him, because his constitution, naturally delicate, had suffered much during the last week from study and over anxiety. The necessity of writing home haunted him,—to his mother and sister, whose pride in him was so great, and who hoped so much for the honours which they thought him so sure to win,—to his brothers who had seen his diligence, and who would be deeply sorry to know that it had been in vain; to them at least he would be forced to announce the humiliating intelligence of defeat. He might leave his other friends to learn it from accidental sources, but oh, the bitterness of being obliged to announce it for himself, to those to whose disappointment he was most painfully alive, and oh, the intolerable plague of receiving letters of commiseration.

He could not do anything, he could not read, or write, or even think, except of the one blow which had thus laid him prostrate. He leaned over his window-sill, and stared stupidly at the great stone bears carved on the portals of Saint Margaret's; his eyes wandered listlessly over the smooth turf of the Fellows' bowling-green, and the trim parterres full of crocus and anemone and violet which fringed it; he watched the boats skim past him on the winding gleams of the Iscam, and shoot among the water-lilies by the bridge and then he stared upwards at the sun, trying to think of nothing until his eyes watered, and then the sight of a don in the garden below made him shrink back, to avoid observation, into his own room.

Some of the Saint Werner's men would be coming soon to condole with him. What a nuisance it would be! He got up and sported the door. This action recalled in all their intensity his bitterest and angriest feelings, and he flung the door open again, and threw himself full length on the sofa, until a sort of painful stupor came over him, and he became unconscious of how the time went by.

At length a slight sound awoke him, and he saw De Vayne standing by him. De Vayne was so gentle in heart and manner, so full of sympathy and kindness, that of all others he was the one whom at that moment Julian could best endure to see.

"I am afraid," he said, "that you will think me very foolish, De Vayne. But to me everything almost depended on this scholarship, and you can hardly tell how absolutely it had engrossed my hopes."

"It is very natural that you should feel it, Julian. But I came to ask if you would like me to save you the trouble of writing home to-day. I could say more, you know, than you could," he added with a pleasant smile, "of the splendid manner in which you acquitted yourself, of which I have heard a great deal that I will tell you some day."

"Thanks, De Vayne. I should be really and truly grateful if you would. They will expect to hear by to-morrow, and I know that if I write now, I shall be saying something bitter and hasty."

"Very well, I will. Are you inclined for a stroll now?"

"No, thank you," said Julian, unwilling to encounter the many eyes which he knew would look on him with curiosity to see how he bore his loss.

"Good morning then; I shall come again soon."

"Do, I shall like to see you," said Julian; and De Vayne went away, thinking with some happiness, that if he had won Julian's affection, that would be something towards helping him to win Violet's too.

Julian had no intention that any strange eye should see how much he had felt his disappointment, so when Mr Admer came to see him, he gave no sign of vexation, and they talked indifferently for a few minutes, till Mr Admer said—

"Well, Home, I'm sorry you haven't got this scholarship. Not that it makes the least difference, you know, really. No sensible man would have thought one atom the better of you for getting it, and even your reputation stands just as high as before.

"Ah, I see you take it to heart rather; all very natural, but when you're my age you'll think less of these things. There are higher successes in the world than these small University affairs."

"But they aren't small to me," said Julian. "Not to men up here," said Mr Admer.

"'They think the rustic cackle of their body The murmur of the world.'"

"Perhaps, after all, if you had got it, it would only have helped to make you as fussy, as foolish, and as self-important as Jones, and Brown, and Robinson, who, because they are dons, think themselves the most important people in England, when really they are only conspicuous for empty-headedness and conceit; or as the senior Wrangler, who entering the theatre at the same moment as the queen, bowed graciously on all sides in acknowledgment of the acclamations. As it is, Home, you are a man who ought to do something in the world."

Julian could not help smiling at Mr Admer's usual style, and would have found some relief in arguing with him, had not Hazlet entered, whose very appearance put Mr Admer to a precipitate flight. There could not have been any human being less likely to give Julian any effectual consolation at such a moment, and he could not help sighing as Mr Admer left him to his persecutor.

"Fugit improbus ac me sub cultro linquit," he said appealingly, secure in Hazlet's ignorance of the Latin tongue; but Mr Admer only shook his head significantly, and disappeared.

With his black shining hair brushed down in unusual lankiness over his receding forehead, and with an expression of sleek resignation unusually sanctimonious, Hazlet sat down, and gave a half groan.

"I am sorry," he said, "dear Julian—"

"Home, if you please, Hazlet," interrupted Julian.

Hazlet was a little taken aback, but he said—

"Well, dear Home—"

"Home only, if you please," said Julian still more abruptly.

"Ah! I see you are in a rebellious—excuse me, dear—I mean Home,—a rebellious spirit. I feared it would be so when I saw that godless young clergyman with you."

Julian relieved his disgust by an expression of impatience.

"I have no doubt, dear Ju—, I mean Home—I have no doubt," he continued, with a gusto infinitely annoying, "that you needed this rod. I am afraid that you are as yet unconverted; that you have as yet no saving, no vital sense of Christianity. Some sin, perhaps, needs correction; some—"

"Confound your intolerable impudence and cant!" said Julian, starting from his seat, aroused by his hypocritical prate into unwonted intolerance; and he suddenly observed, by the cowering attitude which Hazlet assumed, that the worthy youth was afraid of receiving at his head the water-bottle, on which Julian's hand was resting. Julian thought it best to avoid the temptation, and hoping Hazlet would take the hint, he said, "Forgive my rudeness, Hazlet, but I am very tired and annoyed just now; in fact, I am hardly in a condition to talk with, as you see, and you are really quite incapable of saying anything to help me."

But Hazlet had come prepared to say his say, and did not attempt to move.

"Ah," he said, with a sigh which seemed to express satisfaction—(some people always sigh when they thank God)—"I am afraid you are unprepared for the consolations of religion."

"Of such a religion as yours, most certainly," interrupted Julian, with haughty vehemence.

"The natural man, you see—" He stopped as he saw Julian's hand fidgeting towards the water-bottle. "Ah! well, you will have still to sit at the sizars' table, and dine on the Fellows' leavings; perhaps it might inscrutably be good for you to bear the yoke—"

Had the fellow come to insult him? Was he there on purpose to gratify his malice at another's misfortune, under the pretext of pious reflections? Half-a-dozen times Julian had thought so, and thought so correctly. Hazlet's very little and very ignorant mind had been fed into self-complacency by the cheering belief that he and his friends formed a select party whose future welfare was secure, while "the world" was very wicked, and destined to everlasting burning; and in proportion to his gross conceit, was he nettled with the evident manner in which Julian, though without any rudeness, avoided his company even at Ildown, where he reigned with undisputed sway among his own admiring circle of gynaikazia. (Excuse the word, gentle reader; it is Saint Paul's—not mine.) Hazlet had come there, though in the depth of his hypocrisy he hardly knew it himself, to enjoy a little triumph over Julian's pride, and to pour a little vinegar, in the guise of a good Samaritan, on wounds which he knew to be bleeding still.

In saying the last sentence, in which he cut Julian to the very quick, Hazlet had seemed to his victim's excited imagination to be actually smacking his lips with undisguised delight. "Ah, you will have still to dine at the sizars' table on the Fellows' leavings." Julian knew that the form of the sentence made it most maliciously and odiously false;— and that this hypocritical son of Belial should address him at such a moment in such a way was so revolting to his own generous spirit, that he could endure it no longer.

"What did you say?" he asked sharply.

"Of course, my dear Ju—, Home, I mean—poverty is no disgrace to you, you know. Some of the sizars are pious men, I have no doubt, and I dare say the Fellows leave—"

"I swear this is too much," said Julian, using the only oath that ever in all his life-time crossed his lips. "You canting and mean—Pshaw! you are beneath my abuse. Sizar indeed! there, take that, and begone." He had meant to empty the tumbler in his face, but his hand shook with passion, and the glass flew out of it, and after cutting the top of Hazlet's head, fell broken on the floor.

With a howl of dismay Hazlet fled to his own rooms, where, having satisfied himself that the cut had done little other harm than leaving some red streaks upon his damp and lanky hair, he put over it some strips of plaster as large as he conveniently could, and then with a lugubrious expression went to hall, and gratified his malice by buzzing and babbling among his fellows all sorts of lies and exaggerations about Julian's conduct and state of mind. When Kennedy came in, however, he put an abrupt end to Hazlet's calumnies by handling his own tumbler with so significant a glance, that Hazlet assumed a look of terror, and, amid shouts of laughter, retired with all speed out of reach of the danger.

Lillyston, always a firm and faithful friend, was grieved to the soul to hear of Julian's condition; for, without believing half that Hazlet said, it was at least clear that Julian had shown some violence, and, if Hazlet was to be trusted, "had sworn at him in a manner perfectly awful." What had come over Julian of late? Since that fit of uncontrollable and lasting passion which had overpowered him when he was screwed in, he did not seem to have recovered that noble moral strength and equilibrium which was usually conspicuous in his character. The restlessness which had prevented him from doing the paper, the half sullen silence through the day, the horse-whipping of Brogten, the second outburst of unchecked feeling at the loss of the scholarship, and finally, this treatment of Hazlet, caused Lillyston a deep regret that his friend should have strayed so widely from his usual calm and manly course. It was as if one staggering blow had loosened all the joints of his moral armour, and left room for successive wounds. He determined to go and see him before chapel, and, if possible, get him to come and spend the evening quietly with him; he was only prevented from going at once by supposing that Julian would be dining by himself to avoid meeting any one in hall, and he did not wish to disturb him at his lonely meal.

Julian's head was aching with mortification, passion, and fatigue; it seemed as if he had but one thought to which he could turn, and that this was a thought of weariness and pain. He dwelt much less on his own defeat than on the disappointment which he knew it would cause to Violet and his young brothers. He knew well that Mrs Home would bear it with equanimity, because she regarded all the events of life, however painful, with the same quiet resignation, and trusted ever in the gentle dealing and loving purposes of His hand who guides them all. Poor Julian longed to be able to regard it in this light too, but he had suffered the angry part of his nature to gain the victory, and his human reason was now being torn by his lion heart.

Unable to endure the notion of going to hall, which would be a painful reminder that the opportunity to which he had long looked for emancipation from his sizarship had passed by, he determined to take some wine, in the hope that it would support him till the evening. He could not of course afford to give wine parties, but he always kept a few bottles in his rooms for medicinal purposes, or to offer to any stranger who might come to visit him. Taking out a decanter, he sat down in his armchair, and drank a glass or two. The wine exhilarated him; as he had scarcely tasted anything all day, it got rapidly into his head, and in a few minutes his thoughts seemed in a tumult of delirious emotion. Pride and passion triumphed over every other feeling; after all, what was the scholarship to him? Tush! he looked for better things in life than scholarships. He would discard the petty successes of pedantry, and would seek a loftier greatness. He had been a fool to trouble himself about such trifles. And as these arrogant mists clouded his fancy, he broke out into irregular snatches of unmeaning song.

It was a saint's-day evening, and consequently chapel was at a quarter past six instead of six, and the undergraduates wore surplices in chapel instead of their ordinary gowns. On saints'-days there is always a choral service at Saint Werner's College, and the excellence of the choir generally attracted a large congregation. To Julian, who was fond of music, these saint's-day services had a peculiar interest; and now while his brain was swimming with the fumes of wine, he determined to go to chapel, and imagined to himself the pleasure he should feel in striding haughtily through the throng of men up the long aisle to the sizar's seat, to show by his look and manner that his courage was undaunted, and that his self-confidence rose superior to defeat. Although the chapel-bell had not yet begun to ring, he put out his cap and surplice, and sat down to drink more wine.

Just as the clock struck six, Lillyston knocked at Julian's door.

"Aha! old fellow," said Julian, "you are just in time to have a glass of wine before chapel."

"No, thank you," said Lillyston coldly, sick at heart to see a fresh proof of his friend's unworthy excitement, but without realising as yet his true condition.

"Tush! you think I care about that trumpery Clerkland? Not I! Won't you have some wine?—no? well, I shall, and then I'm going to chapel."

His flushed countenance, and excited manner, joined to the harsh tones of his generally pleasant and musical voice, produced on Lillyston's mind a feeling of deep pain and shame, and when with unsteady hand, Julian endeavoured to pour out for himself a fresh glass, and in doing so spilt the wine in great streams over the table, Lillyston saw that he was in an utterly unfit state to go to chapel, and that the attempt to do so would certainly draw upon him exposure and disgrace.

"Julian," he said gently; "you are not in a condition to go to chapel; you must not think of it."

"What do you mean?" said Julian with a stupid stare.

"I mean," he replied slowly, "that the wine has got into your head."

A laugh, half hysterical, half defiant, was the only answer, and Julian began to put on his surplice, wrong side out.

"Julian, I beg of you to stay here as you would avoid ruin."

"Pooh! I am not a child, as you seem to think. You are—Yes, you are a fool, Lillyston."

Pained to the very heart, Lillyston wavered for a moment, but a glance at Julian decided him. Five years of happy uninterrupted friendship, five years during which he had regarded his friend's stainless character with ever-growing pride and affection, determined him at all hazards to save him from the effects of this temporary possession. Firmly, but quietly, he planted his back against the door, and said—

"Dear Julian, I beseech you not to go."

The tone of voice, the mention of his own name recalled Julian for a moment, but the sound of the chapel-bell renewed his determination, and he answered, "Nonsense. Come, make room."

"You shall not go, Julian."

"But I will," shouted he angrily; "how dare you prevent me; stand aside."

Lillyston did not stir, and rendered furious by opposition, Julian grappled with him. It required all Lillyston's strength to retain his position against this wild assault, but he managed to do so without inflicting any hurt; and when Julian paused, Lillyston noticed with a sense of relief that the chapel-bell had ceased to ring.

"I WILL go," said Julian, madly renewing the struggle. But with all his efforts he could not stir Lillyston from the door, and only succeeded in tearing his surplice from the neck downwards. He paused, and, baffled of his intention, glared at his opponent.

"The clock has now struck," said Lillyston calmly, "and the doors will be shut. You are too late to get in." Julian stamped impatiently on the floor, and prepared to close with Lillyston again, but now Lillyston stepped from the door, and as he slowly went out, turned round and said—

"Julian, do you call this being brave or strong? Can you let one disappointment unman you so utterly?"

"Be brave, and honest, and pure, and God will be with you." The words flashed into light from the folded pages of Julian's memory, and with them the dim image of a dead face, and the dying echo of a father's voice.



"Pol pudere quam pigere proestat totidem literis." Plautus Trinum, Two, 2.

Who has not felt, who does not know, that one sin yielded to, that one passion uncontrolled, too often brings with it a train of other sins, and betrays the drawbridge of the citadel to a thousand enemies beside?

It had been so with Julian Home, and in proportion to the true strength and beauty of his character, was the poignancy of his bitterness when he awoke the next morning, and calmly reviewed the few last excited, prayerless, and unworthy days. Surely after so many proofs of weakness, surely after emotions and acts so violently inadequate to the circumstances which had caused them, his best friends must despise him as utterly as he despised himself.

He arose that morning strong out of weakness. He determined that he would be checked no longer by unavailing regrets, and that his repentance should be open and manly, as his prostration had been conspicuous. Fortified by the humiliating experience of his own want of strength he sought for help in resolute determination and earnest prayer. After breakfast, his first step was to call on Owen, and congratulate him with hearty and unaffected simplicity on his success—a success which Owen generously acknowledged to be due solely to Julian's misfortune. It was much more difficult to call on Hazlet, but this, too, Julian felt to be his duty; and distasteful as it was, he would not shrink from performing it. Hazlet received him with a ludicrous air of offended dignity, and was barely overcome into a tone of magnanimous forgiveness by Julian's frank apology. On the whole, Julian decided that it would be best not to call on Brogten, lest, by so doing, he should seem to be reminding him of the consequences of his enmity under the appearance of expressing a regret. It only remained therefore to see Lillyston, and to this visit Julian looked with unmitigated joy.

"Forgive me, Hugh," he said, as he entered the room; "from this time forward I shall owe you a new debt of gratitude; you have saved me from I know not what disgrace."

Lillyston was delighted to see him look like his old self once more. The thunder-cloud which had been hanging on his brow was dissipated, and the sullen expression had wholly passed.

"Don't talk of debt, Julian," he said; "between friends, you know, there are no obligations—they are merged in the friendship itself."

"I am amazed at my own intolerable folly, Hugh. I hope this is the last time that I shall yield to such storms of passion. I have much to be ashamed of."

"Well, Julian," said Lillyston, changing the subject, "you mustn't think any more of this Clerkland, for potentially you got it, as everybody acknowledges; dynamei you were successful, if not ezgo."

"I don't mean to let it discourage me," said Julian, "though the potential is mightily different from the actual." Nor did he suffer it to discourage him, or weaken his endeavours. His life soon began to flow once more in its usual, even, and quiet course. It did not take him long to discover that it was possible to live happily without the Clerkland, and he wondered in himself at the intensity of the desire to obtain it, which he had suffered to overpower him. He felt no touch of envy towards Owen, whose friendship he began to value more and more, and who voluntarily told him, from information that he had derived from the examiners themselves, that the decision had long hung in a doubtful scale. In fact, the scholarship would have been divided between both of them but for one of the examiners, who hardly appreciated Julian's merits. It was so well understood that Julian must have been the successful candidate but for the one fatal paper on Monday morning, that he rather gained than lost in reputation from the result of the competition.

It was a few days after these events that Julian received from Mr Carden a pressing invitation to spend a Sunday with him at Harton. Glad of a change, he easily obtained an exeat, and went down on the Saturday morning. Even the half-year since he had left had made a perceptible change in the old place. There were many new faces, and many old ones had disappeared, so that, already, he began to feel himself half a stranger among the familiar scenes. But alike from boys and masters he received a kindly greeting, and Mr Carden entertained him with a pleasant and genial hospitality. The only thing which pained him was the obvious change for the worse in Mr Carden's health. He wore a sadder expression than of old, and though he made no remark about his health, yet every now and then his face seemed to be suddenly contracted by a throb of pain.

On the Monday morning, when it was necessary for Julian to return to Camford, Mr Carden called him into his study after breakfast, and asked him to choose any book he liked, as a farewell present, from the shelves.

"But why a farewell present, Mr Carden?" asked Julian, laughing. "Aren't you ever going to ask me to Harton again?"

"No," said Mr Carden with a sad smile, "never again.

"I resign my mastership at the end of this term," he continued, in answer to Julian's inquiring look; "my health is so uncertain that I feel unequal any longer to these most arduous, most responsible duties. Perhaps, too," he added, "I may be a little disappointed in the result of my labours; but, at any rate, though as yet few are aware of it, this is my last month at Harton—so choose one of my books, Julian, as a farewell present."

Julian expressed his real sorrow at Mr Carden's failing health. "If you go away," he said, "it will seem as if the chief tie which bound me to dear old Harton was suddenly snapped." He chose as his memento a small volume of sermons which Mr Carden had published in former days, and asked him to write his name on the title-page.

"Yes," said the master, "you shall have that book if you like; but I mean you to have also a more substantial memorial of my library. Here, Julian, this book I always destined to be yours some day; you may as well have it now."

He took down from the shelves a richly bound copy of Coleridge's works, in ten volumes, which Julian knew to be the one book of his library which he most deeply prized. His marginal comments enriched almost every page, and Julian was ashamed to take what he knew that the owner so highly valued.

"But I thought you told me once that you were thinking of publishing a biography of Coleridge, and an edition of his writings," said Julian. "Surely, sir, you will want these manuscript notes, won't you?"

"Ah, Julian! that is one of the many plans which have floated through my mind unfulfilled. My life, I fear, will have been an incomplete one. Thank God that there is no such thing as a necessary man—il n'y a point d'hommes necessaires; others will be found to do a thousandfold better the work which I had purposed to do." And then he murmured half to himself—

"Till, in due time, one by one, Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone, Death came suddenly, and took them where men never see the sun."

His eyes filled with tears. "No," he said, "take the book, Julian. If it does you all the good it has done me, it will have been more useful than I could ever have made it. And when you hang on the eloquent and earnest words of the great poet philosopher, mingle his teachings with some few memories of me; it will be like a drop of myrrh, perhaps, in the cup, but I should like," he added, with faltering voice, "to leave at least one to think of me with affection."

He turned away as his old pupil grasped his hand; and Julian, as he went back in the train to Camford, could not help a feeling of real pity that one so generous and upright in heart and life should be destined to so lonely and sorrowful a lot.

As he had said, he resigned his Harton mastership at the end of the term, and sailed to Madeira for his health. He begged Julian to continue his correspondence with him, and to tell him all about his old Harton and Camford friends.

During Easter week, while Julian was at Ildown, he received from him a letter to the following effect:—

"Dear Julian—I was not mistaken in hinting, while you were at Harton, that we should never meet again. I am on my death-bed; and, in all probability, the rapid decline which is now wasting my powers, and which, while I write, shakes me with painful fits of coughing, will have terminated my life before this letter reaches your hands.

"I leave life, I hope, with simple resignation; and although I have left undone much which I hoped to have accomplished, yet I die trusting in God. My friends in this world have been few, and my fortune have not been bright, yet happiness has largely preponderated even in my destiny, and I look on the death which is approaching as the commencement, not as the end, of true existence.

"But I did not write to you, dear Julian, to tell you of the frame of mind in which death finds me. I wrote to bid you farewell, and to tell you of something which concerns you—I mean my intention, recently adopted, of leaving you my small private fortune, and the added earnings which my labours have procured. Together, they amount only to ten thousand pounds, but I hope that they may be of real service to you. Had you still been the heir to your aunt's property, perhaps even if you had got the Clerkland, I should have disposed of this money in some other way; but as these events have been ordered otherwise, and as I have no relations of my own who need the legacy, nor any friend in whose welfare I take deeper interest than in yours, it gives me a gleam of real satisfaction to be able to place at your disposal this little sum.

"Good-bye, my dear Julian. When these words meet your eye, I expect to be in that state where even your prayers can benefit me no more. But I know your affectionate and grateful heart, and I know that you will sometimes recur with a thought of kindness to the memory of your affectionate friend, Henry Carden."

The next mail brought the news of Mr Carden's death. It caused many a sorrowing heart both at Harton and at Camford. Mr Carden was a man whose impetuous and enthusiastic disposition had caused him to commit many serious errors in life, and these had been a barrier to the success which must otherwise have rewarded his energy and talent. But even among those who were envious of his ability, and offended by his eccentricities, they were few who did not do justice to the rectitude of his motives, and none who did not admit the warmth of his affections. There were more to mourn over his untimely death than there had been to forgive the mistakes he made, and by wise and friendly counsel to raise him to that height which he might easily have obtained. And among the crowd who had known him, and the many who honoured him, there were some who loved him with no ordinary love, and who were not too proud to admit the obligation of a permanent gratitude. It was one of the great happinesses of Mr Carden's life that of this number was Julian Home.

With a clear 300 pounds a year of his own, it was of course unnecessary for Julian to return to Saint Werner's as a sizar, and he at once wrote to his tutor to beg that his name might be removed from the list. There was one respect in which he found this a very material addition to his comfort and happiness. As the sizars dined an hour later than the other men, and at a separate table, he had been by this means cut off from the society of many of his friends in hall, where men have more opportunities of meeting and becoming intimate than anywhere else. It was no slight addition to his happiness to sit perpetually with the group of friends he valued most.

"I've got a magnificent plan for the Long, Julian," said Kennedy to him one day, as they left the hall. "My father is going to Switzerland for three months, with my sister Eva and me. Eva goes under the wing of an aunt of mine, Mrs Dudley, whom I think you met at Ildown once. Won't, you come with us?"

The proposal was very tempting, the more so as Julian had never been abroad. He mentioned it in his next letter home, and asked if it would be possible for any of them to accompany him, without which he gave up all intention of making the tour. In reply, Mrs Home proposed that Violet should go, (if Mrs Dudley would kindly chaperon her), because the trip would be of great advantage to her in many ways; and that Cyril should go, as a reward for his industry and success at Marlby. "As for Frankie and me," she continued, "we will stay at home to take care of Ildown in your absence. Frank is too young to enjoy travelling, and I have but little desire for it; we two will stay behind, and I daresay we shall be very happy, especially if you write us long accounts of all your proceedings."

So this most delightful plan was definitely adopted, and all concerned were full of the happiest anticipations. Kennedy and Julian looked forward to it with the utmost eagerness; Violet, who had already grown fond of Mrs Dudley and Eva, was charmed at the prospect, and Cyril, with all a boy's eagerness for novelty, was well-nigh wild with joy.

But as yet six weeks were to elapse before the Long commenced.



"I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face Beneath its garniture of curly gold, Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold An arm in mine, to fix me to the place. That way he used, ... Alas! one hour's disgrace!" Robert Browning. Childe Roland.

"I am very doubtful, after all, Julian, whether I shall be one of the Switzerland party," said Kennedy, with a sigh, as he and Julian were walking round the Saint Werner's gardens one bright evening of the May term. The limes and chestnuts were unfolding their tender sprays of spring-tide emerald, the willows shivered as their green buds made ripples in the water, and the soft light of sunset streamed over towers and colleges, giving a rich glow to the broad windows of the library, and bathing in its rosy tinge the white plumage of the swans upon the river. The friends were returning from a walk, during which they had thoroughly enjoyed the blue and golden weather. Up to this time Kennedy had seemed to be in the highest spirits, and Julian was astonished at the melancholy tone in which the words were spoken.

"Doubtful? Why?" said Julian, quickly.

"Because my father has made it conditional on my getting a first class in the May examination."

"But, my dear fellow, there is not the ghost of a doubt of your doing that."

"I don't feel so sure."

"Why, there are often thirty in the first class in the freshman's year; and just as if you wouldn't be among them!"

"All very well; I know that anybody can do it who works, but I am ashamed to say that I haven't read one of the books yet."

"Haven't you, really? Well then, for goodness' sake, lose no more time."

"But there's only a fortnight to the examination."

"My dear Kennedy, what have you been doing to be so idle?"

"Somehow or other the time manages to slip away. Heigh ho!" said Kennedy, "my first year at college nearly over, and nothing done— nothing done! How quickly the time has gone!"

"Yes," said Julian;

"ptezugas gaz epoomaduas phezai Kampes bzadutezoi ta poteemena syllabein,

"as Theocritus prettily observes."

Seized with the strong determination not only to pass the examination, but even to excel in it, Kennedy devoted the next fortnight to unremitted study for the first time since he had been an undergraduate. But the more he read the more painfully he became aware of his own deficiencies, and the more bitterly he deplored the waste of time. He seemed to be toiling in vain after the opportunities he had lost. He knew that the examination, though limited in subjects, was searching in character, and he found it impossible to acquire, by a sudden impulse, what he should have learned by continuous diligence. As the time drew nearer, he grew more and more nervous. He had set his heart on the Swiss tour, and it now seemed to him painfully probable that he would fail in fulfilling the condition which his father had exacted, and without which he well knew that Mr Kennedy would insist on his spending the vacation either at Camford or at home.

Of the three main subjects for examination he had succeeded by desperate effort, aided by natural ability, in very quickly mastering two sufficiently well to secure a creditable result; but the third subject, the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, remained nearly untouched, and Kennedy was too good and accurate a scholar not to be aware that the most careful and elaborate study was indispensable to an even tolerable understanding of that masterpiece of Grecian tragedy. Besides this, he had a hatred of slovenly and superficial work, and he therefore determined to leave the Aeschylus untouched, while, at the same time, he was quite conscious that if he did so, all chance of distinction, and even all chance of a first class were out of the question. With some shame he reflected over this proof, that, for all purposes of study, a third of his academical life had been utterly and wholly lost.

As he had decided on giving up the Aeschylus, it became more imperative to make sure of the Tacitus and Demosthenes, and he therefore went to Mr Grayson's rooms to get a library order which should entitle him to take from the Saint Werner's library any books that would be most likely to give him effectual help.

At the moment of his arrival, Mr Grayson was engaged, and he was shown into another room until he should be ready. This room was the tutor's library, and like many of the rooms in Camford, it opened into an inner and smaller study, the door of which was partly open.

Kennedy sat down, and after a few minutes, as there seemed to be no signs that he would be summoned immediately, he began to grow very restless. He tried some of the books on the table, but they were all unspeakably dull; he looked at the pictures on the wall, but they were most of them the likenesses of Camford celebrities which he already knew by heart; he looked out of the window, but the court was empty, and there was nothing to see. Reflecting that the only thing which can really induce ennui in a sensible man, is to be kept waiting when he is very busy for an indefinite period, which may terminate at any moment, and may last for almost any length of time, Kennedy, vexed at the interruption of his work, chose the most comfortable armchair in the room, and settled himself in it with a yawn.

At this moment, as ill fate would have it, his eye caught sight of a book lying on Mr Grayson's reading-desk. Lazily rising to see what it was, he found it to be an Aeschylus, and turned over the leaves with a feeling of listless indifference. Between two of the leaves lay a written paper, and suddenly, after reading two or three lines, he observed it to be a manuscript copy of the much-dreaded Agamemnon paper for the May examination.

Temptation had surprised him with sudden and unexpected violence. He little knew that on this idle weary moment rested the destiny of many years.

As when in a hostile country one has laid aside his armour, and from unregarded ambush the enemy leaps on him, and, though he be strong and noble, stabs him with a festering wound, so this temptation to a base act sprang on poor Kennedy when he was unarmed and unprepared. In the gaieties of life, and the brightnesses of hope, and the securities of unbroken enjoyment, he had long been trusting in himself only, in his own high principle, his own generous impulses, his own unstained honour. But these were never sufficient for any human being yet, and they snapped in an instant under this unhappy boy.

The only honourable thing to do, the thing which at another moment Kennedy might have done, and which any man would have done, whose right instincts and high character had the reliable support of higher principles than mere personal self-confidence and pride, would have been to shut the book instantly, inform Mr Grayson that he had accidentally read one of the questions, and beg him to change it before the examination. This Kennedy knew well; it flashed before him in an instant as the only proper course but at the same instant he passionately obliterated the suggestion from his mind, fiercely stifled the impulse to do right, choked the rebukes of honour and principle, and blindly willed to save his reputation as a scholar, and his chance of enjoyment for the vacation by reading through the entire number of the questions. This mental struggle did not last an instant, for the emotions of the spirit belong only to eternity, and the guilt of human actions is not commensurate with the length of time they occupy. But in the intense wish to see what the examination would be like, and to secure his first class, Kennedy repressed altogether by one blow the moral element of his being, and concentrated his whole intellect on the paper before him. To read it through was the work of a minute; when it was read through, it was too late to wish the act undone, and without suffering himself to dwell, or even to recur in thought to the nature of his proceedings, Kennedy deliberately read through the whole paper a second time.

But this imperious effort of the will was not exercised without visible effects. Absorbed as he was in seizing every prominent subject in the questions, his forehead contracted, his hand shook, his knees trembled, and his heart palpitated with violence. He observed nothing; he did not notice the shadow that chequered the sunlight streaming from the door of the inner room; he did not hear the light step which passed over the carpet; he did not feel the breath of a man who stood behind him, looked over his shoulder, watched his eager determination to secure the unfair advantage, smiled at his agitation, and then slipped back again into the inner room, unnoticed as before.

It was done. Not a question but was printed indelibly on Kennedy's memory. Quickly, fearfully, he shut the book, and glided back to the armchair, in the vain attempt to look and feel at ease.

At ease! No, now the tumult broke. Now Kennedy hated himself; called himself mean, vile, contemptible, a reptile, a cheat. Now his insulted honour began to vindicate its rights, and his trampled sense of truth to spring up with a menacing bound, and his conscience to speak out calmly and clearly the language of self-condemnation and contempt. Good heavens! how could he have sunk so low; fancy if Julian had seen him, or could know his meanness. Fancy if anybody had seen him. Hazlet, or Fitzurse, or Brogten himself, could hardly have been guilty of a more dishonourable act.

You miserable souls, that do not know what honour is, or what torments rend a truly noble heart, if ever it be led to commit an act which to your seared consciences and muddy intelligence appears a trivial sin, or even no sin at all; you, the mean men to whom an offence like this is so common, that, unless it were discovered, it would not trouble your recollections with a feather's weight of remorse,—for you, I scorn to write, and I scorn from my inmost being the sneer with which you will regard the agony that Kennedy suffered from his fall. But to the high and the generous, who have erred and have bewailed their error in secret,—to them I appeal to imagine the anguish of self-reproach, the bitterness of humiliation, which stung him in those few moments after his first dishonour. It is the lofty tower that falls with the heaviest crash; it is the stately soul that suffers the deepest abasement; it is the white scutcheon on which the dark stain seems to wear its darkest hue.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse