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Oh, here's the bully!' Horace's face flushed; but he was passing on, when Newton seized him by the arm.
Leave me alone, Newton. You thrashed me quite enough yesterday, and I assure you I didn't deserve it. These fellows forced me to join them.'
I suppose they forced you into half-murdering Silli"
son, too ?'
No; what's the matter?' said Horace, alarmed. • Why, he's been absent from school for two or three days, and when some fellows called yesterday to see what was the row with him, they were told that a boy had been bumping his head against a stone wall to make him buy a knife, and his head was so much hurt that he has been obliged to have the doctor twice a day.'
'I don't believe it,' said Horace; but his heart sark, for he did believe it.
Don't you? Well, you'll have to believe it soon enough. Sillison's father is going to come down and
. speak to Mr Gray about it. So, as you're pretty sure to be expelled, or to be thrashed within an inch of your life, I sha'n't trouble myself to lick you just now. You may take yourself off.'
Horace slunk off in a terrible state of mind. Newton's reproaches did not trouble him so much as the reproaches of his own conscience. Sillison very ill-perhaps he might die ! Horace was wild with shame and regret. He rushed down to the west gate of the Academy, hoping to meet Rawlett, for Rawlett was the only person to whom he could venture to speak on the matter.
But Rawlett did not come. Horace waited till the bell had rung, and till the last of the masters had come out of the lodge; but there was no sign of him, and he had to run to his classroom to be in time for prayers. After prayers he expected to find Rawlett in the classroom, as that worthy youth very often was late. But no;
Rawlett did not come to school at all that day, and Horace had to keep his troubles to himself till three o'clock came; and oh, how long it seemed of coming! Never did he spend such a miserable and anxious day. His troubles, too, made him inattentive and confused in his class, so that he got punishments from every master who taught him that day,-a thrashing and a page of Cæsar to translate from Mr Gray, fifty lines to write from the English master, two French verbs from the French master, and several sums to work at home from Mr Whitson. These would have been troubles enough ; but Horace scarcely minded them, so occupied was he by thinking of the injury he had done Sillison.
The moment school was over he rushed off to Maitland Street, where he knew Sillison lived, to hear if Newton's story were true. He found the house easily enough, for 'Mr Sillison' was on the door-plate in large plain letters; but it was some time before Horace could summon up courage to ring, having a vague fear that somebody might come to the door who, somehow or other, might recognise him as the cause of Sillison's illness, and drag him off to summary punishment.
At length he ventured to give the bell a gentle pull ; but he was quite frightened at the loud ring it seemed to give, and still more so when the door was abruptly opened by a cross-looking old woman, who sharply asked him—
What are ye making sich a din for, when there's a sick body in the house?'
'I didn't intend to ring so loud,' stammered Horace. 'I called to ask how Sillison was.'
'If it's Maister Willoughby ye mean, he's just about as bad as a laddie weel can be. There was a bump on his head as big as my fist.'
' But-but-do you think he'll get better?'
“There's nae saying. But if he doesna, thae laddies that bumped his head against the wa'-Rawlett and Hazelwood he says their names are—will be hung for it,
if there's law in the land. Ye
may tell them that;' and with this message she abruptly shut the door in his face.
Horace ran away as hard as he could, more frightened than before. He would not have been so alarmed if he had known that Willy Sillison, being an only son, was the idol of his father and his old nurse, who petted and spoiled him, and made as much work about every little headache or bruise as if he had been dying. The effects of this foolish treatment were not lost on Master Willy, who, finding that he had a slight headache and a small bump on his head after the rough treatment which he had met from Horace and Rawlett, thought this a good opportunity of having a few days' holidays, and so alarmed his father and his nurse by a terrible account of his ailments, that a doctor was sent for instantly, the invalid was put to bed, and the whole household was made uncomfortable for his sake. The doctor came, looked wise, and prescribed a little vinegar and water to bathe the bump with, and then went away, promising, at Mr Sillison's urgent request, to come back again next day. However, though the doctor assured them that there was not the slightest danger, (indeed it was as much as he could do to keep from laughing at the interesting invalid,) they would not believe it; and not only did they persuade themselves for some days that Willy was very ill, but old Maggie the nurse took a pleasure in circulating the news, thinking to frighten the boys who had so ill-used her darling.
Now our friend the doctor had a large family of boys of his own; and when he went home to dinner he found that one of them had fallen and skinned his knees, that another had cut his thumb with a knife, while a third had managed to get his face scratched by a fall in the gravelled yards of the Academy. So, when the doctor told them that he had been sent for in a hurry to see a little boy who had a little knock on the head, they all laughed, and felt glad that they were not like that poor boy; and so I hope will all the boys who read this story, for, remember, God wishes us just as much to be brave and hardy as to be truthful and kind ; and fathers and
. mothers who teach their children to whine and complain about trifles, do them almost as much harm as if they did not punish them for lying or bad temper.
But the doctor could not persuade Mr Sillison that his son was well enough to go back to school for some days. And when Horace called, Willy was at that moment lying on the hearthrug in the back parlour, spending his time in playing with marbles and eating sweets; though, to listen to his nurse's account, you would have believed that he was lying in bed in a most dangerous condition.
Old Maggie little thought what would be the result of her foolish affection, or she would have been sorry; for she was a good, kind body at heart, though rough outside to every one except her darling Willy.
But Horace did not know all this, and ran home in a terrible state of mind. He was just in time for dinner, and, indeed, had to sit down without washing his hands, which, on other days, Mr Dunning would have observed and rebuked him for. But Mr Dunning that day had something else to think of.
Horace looked round the table for Rawlett, but his place was empty. Then he suddenly noticed, from the unusual silence and restraint, that something was wrong, and a suspicion came into his mind, which was confirmed by Charley Miller, who presently whispered to him
• Rawlett has got into a dreadful row.'
What the row was, Horace guessed. And soon he could have no doubt, for when the boys rose to leave the table, Mr Dunning stopped them, saying
'I want to tell you about something which has given me very great pain. I caught Rawlett to-day stealing in the cupboard ; and as I am afraid that this is not the first time he has done so, he is to leave my house this evening.'
This was all Mr Dunning said ; but he said it in such a way that quite an impression was made on the boys, who
went up-stairs talking in whispers. None of them were
. very sorry about Rawlett's going away, for he was no great favourite. Horace did not know whether to be sorry or not. A day or two ago he would have been glad if Rawlett had been sent away; but now in his trouble he felt the need even of such a counsellor. Could he see Rawlett before he left ? The other boys all were playing in the schoolroom. Rawlett was in his bedroom, the key being turned on the outside. Dunning had gone out immediately after dinner. So, as Horace was very anxious to tell him about Sillison's illness, he hastily ran up to Rawlett's room, turned the key and went in.
Well, I'm in a nice mess,' said Rawlett gloomily; 'my father will be terribly angry.'
‘Oh, but, Rawlett, you don't know what I have heard about Sillison ! We hurt his head so much that day, bumping it against the wall, that he has not been able to come to school since; and, do you know, his father is going to tell Mr Gray about it, and there will be a terrible row !'
'I should think so. Why on earth did you bump his head so hard ?'
Oh, Rawlett, it was you did it, I only held him!' 'No, it wasn't me; or, at all events, it was you put me
But any way I needn't care, for I am going home; and I don't suppose I shall be sent back to the Academy ' But Sillison is very ill. Perhaps he-'
Perhaps what?' "Perhaps he will die,' said Horace, looking quite frightened.
Die !' said Rawlett with a start. 'Oh, surely not. He can't be so bad as all that.'
“Oh, but he is very ill; and his nurse told me that we would both be hung, or something like that.'
‘Oh, stuff!' said Rawlett, feeling very uncomfortable, nevertheless,-vague visions of policemen, and a judge in
up to it.