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Horace used the first opportunity which he could find to mention the child to his master, and to say he feared that the little fellow suffered very much from the system of fagging which prevailed in the school, having fallen to the lot of a hard master.
“ Jocelyn Barwell,' repeated the doctor, as if it required some time for him to recollect which boy Horace meant. “Aye! Jocelyn Barwell! -his father, a' most respectable gentleman, resides at Barwell Hall, which you may see from the common where you often ride. He has an elder daughter by a former wife, a score of years older than her brother at least, married to a Mr. Rokeby, of the Rokebys of Yorkshire : they live with her father. She was the person who brought the boy to me; and most sensibly did she speak about him, lamenting that the property (and a fine one it is) would have to descend to one really wanting common sense-a very serious family evil, Langford, as Mrs. Rokeby says.” “Then the poor boy is really deficient ?" asked Horace.
Hopelessly!" uttered the doctor solemnly—“ little short of idiotism."
“Then why should he be subjected to such tyranny?" cried Horace.
“Tyranny! discipline you mean, my boy-proper discipline; regular and strict management," exclaimed the doctor : “it is his only chance, Langford. If the boy's brains are in the wrong place they must be whipped into the right one. He has been mother-spoiled, and nurse-spoiled, and housekeeper-spoiled, and spoiled by every woman that ever came near him, except that very superior female his sister, who had the sense to see his danger, and the influence to persuade her father to try what proper discipline at a superior school would do.”
Horace ventured to say that he much feared that the discipline exercised by Buller might undo all the good which was hoped from other sources ; but finding that he could not prevail even to soften any of the rigours of the poor child's tyrants, he set himself for the present to show every little kindness in his own power to the helpless boy, often taking him to his closet, and whilst trying to recall the simplest lessons of religion which his nurse, his Bible, and his various reading, had taught him, and to use them for the benefit of the little one, he added the attraction
of many small gifts, and still more valued little tokens of love. Once or twice he ventured too to remonstrate with Buller, when he witnessed any violence to the poor fag, but succeeded only in making the youth detest him more than ever; and he had hated him enough before, for having a horse, and a watch, not quite as large, by the way, as the disk of the moon at the full.
And thus time went on, the summer passed, and the autumn had already begun to change the leaves, when on one half holiday, the ushers, two young men of a very ordinary sort, with all the boys, excepting Horace, walked out to a heath about two miles out of the town in which the school was located, where the youths found inexhaustible amusement in throwing stones at the rabbits which burrowed in that warren, and which they dared to do, although the mansion of the owner, Mr. Barwell, the father of Jocelyn, overlooked it from the windows in the roof at no great distance. Horace had ridden forward on the same road a short time before, and had turned, and was coming back at one end of the warren, when the ushers, followed by the boys, came on at the other. The two masters walked first, on the principle no doubt of being able to say that if any mischief was perpetrated, they had not seen it; and the boys were very soon scattered, as Horace saw, over the tussocks and sand heaps on each side of the road, and their voices, first in mirth, and afterwards in mixed anger, cries of distress, and riotous laughter, came louder and louder on the ear of the young horseman as he trotted forward.
Presently, having passed the ushers, he saw several of the bigger boys gathered in a knot, from the midst of which proceeded the shrill cries of a little boy, and the rough loud threats of a big boy, which last was evidently in a towering passion. Horace could hear the younger one cry, "Oh, you hurt me! Oh, you do hurt me! Please to forgive me, Oh! forgive me;" and the other, shout “I'll teach you to stand still another time, when I bid you run; I will, young fool.”
“ Holla! Ho! Ho!” cried Horace, “Holla! here I am; and if it is Joss, he sha'nt be beat, nor any other little boy."
On hearing the voice of the person he hated, Buller, who was ill-using Jocelyn for some offence given by the poor little fag, let his victim go, and at the same instant the elder and the younger
both rushed from the midst of the crowd gathered round them, and ran towards Horace, Buller bearing in his hand a large stake or branch which he had picked up on the way, as it had fallen from a waggon carrying wood. He had judged that this club might be shaped into a “cricket bandy,” and to do him justice he had not struck his fag with it; but he had done little better when he assailed him with his foot after having knocked him down, and continued to do so after one or two of the great boys had cried “Shame !" though none had ventured to interfere, for there was not one who did not know Buller to be his master.
Horace was off his horse in a moment, and a moment afterwards had presented his person between little Jocelyn and his enemy. No one present could give any clear account as to how the war was carried on for the few next seconds, but the battle was soon terminated, and that in a way which terrified even the hardened Buller, who himself could hardly recollect how it had been done, when he saw Horace stretched on the ground, pale as a corpse, with eyes closed and without motion, and heard himself fearlessly reproached by his late timid fag as a murderer, the murderer of his dearest friend Horace.
Such indeed was the general alarm of the boys, that not one of them was aware that a coach and four, with an outrider, had come rolling noiselessly by, over the sand to the very spot where they were standing, until this carriage stopped, and the head of an old gentleman in a full bottomed perriwig was protruded from it; the person anxiously enquiring what was the matter. But though the equipage and voice were those of his father, poor little Jocelyn was aware of neither; he was on the ground by Horace, weeping so very, very bitterly, that no one could have doubted that he possessed a heart, if not a head.
On the gentleman's repeated call, several of the boys ran under the carriage window ; and if Mr. Barwell had failed of getting one answer a little before, he was then almost utterly confounded by the many voices which, all at once, volunteered their information, in as many keys as there were boys. But as these broken accounts of the affair were all that could ever be obtained, it is needful to repeat them here:-“Buller, sir, was kicking little Barwell ; Barwell would not run when Buller told him."-" He answered, and fags must not answer.”—“Langford
was coming”—“Langford has a horse kept for him”—“ Langford is so kind to Barwell”-“ Langford came in between Buller and Barwell”-“ Buller threw the club at Langford, and it came plump against him, and it killed him"_“No, he is not dead though, he has only fallen down without breathing.”
“Open the door!” shouted Mr. Barwell to his servants; and the old gentleman got out of his carriage, and when he had looked at Horace, and felt his pulse, and seen how his little son wept over his friend, he ordered his servants to take up poor Horace; and himself leading his boy to the coach, he ordered that they should be driven home as quickly as possible, directing the outrider to gallop to the town and send a doctor with all baste to the Hall. And as he raised the still fainting Horace on his arm, he added, “And see the justices, Thomas; and give my compliments, and say I cannot attend the meeting to-day.”
M. M. S. (To be continued.)
THE THREE WORDS.
I had not been an indifferent listener to this conversation, though I had declined taking any part in it, under the impression that neither the place nor the company was exactly fitted for such a discussion.
The violence of the storm having considerably abated, I paid the reckoning of my new acquaintance, and told him he had better make the best of his way back to his father-that I was going the same road, and that I should like to talk with him a little, if he were inclined to accompany me.
He seemed pleased with the offer, and followed me out of the house.
“Well, my lad,” said I, “you feel all the better for your dinner, I hope?"
“I should think so," he replied, with more smartness than I had supposed him to possess, for he had scarcely shewn any symptoms of intelligence hitherto. He then thanked me in his own way for my attention to him, and exhibited altogether so much real feeling, that I began to fancy I had considerably misunderstood his character. I found, too, that he had learned to read a little, and that he had often been to church. His organ
of devotion, to speak phrenologically, appeared to be largely developed. He was, in fact, a Puseyite in embryo, bewitched by the false glare of outward ordinances and ceremonies. On these matters he spoke fast enough, evidently supposing that I should think as he did, that they savoured of religion, and be thus, perhaps, put upon better terms with him. I endeavored, in as plain a way as possible, to remove these impressions-to teach him that Christianity had nothing to do with shew and pomp, and the pretence and glitter of such rites and forms as he had spoken of, but that it taught men to be real, to be good, kind, honest, and straightforward ; that it did not require them to act a part, or step out of their proper calling; “to disfigure their faces," or to do violence in any way to their feelings. It made men, men, in short, and neither monkeys nor mountebanks. From the way in which he listened, I think he understood me, though I failed, (as who does not in such cases ?) in using that plainness of speech so desirable in interviews like the present. The Real, however, is seldom unintelligible to mere children, or even infants : if the words overshoot them, they will catch the mind, the spirit, and the temper of a colloquy of this kind; and so it seemed to be with our little tramper. Finding, as I have said, that he could read, I gave him a small New Testament, which he promised to take care of; and having by this time reached the old lane where I had first met with him, we parted without any assurance of again meeting, and with very little probability of doing so, as the boy had told me he expected his father would be off again in a few days.
Our acquaintance had not been of long standing, and it was one, perhaps, that most persons would have thought little of. But I was weak enough (if weakness it may be called) to feel that I had lost a friend. A friend, in that poor outcast-a homeless, shoeless, abject little tramper, who had nothing but a common humanity to recommend him? Yes; I looked after him as he turned the corner. The thrush, startled from the redberried hedge, shook the snow in feathery flakes into the stream below, and as it melted in the now liberated waters, I thought of fading friendships and the disruption of earthly ties. I could not help it. I had no wish to be romantic-far from it; I am no dreamer generally, but in that case I could do nothing else. And