« AnteriorContinuar »
BY ROBERT HOPE MONCRIEFF,
THE LYCEE BOYS,' ETC.
CHAPTER III. -GOING TO SCHOOL.
ONDAY morning dawned, a bright,
beautiful morning, with just the least taste of frost in the air to make it sharp, and clear, and inspiriting. The boys were up early, of course. They could not lie in
bed; and once up, they could do nothing but roam about the house and garden in a restless frame of mind. Horace felt as if he would have burst out crying if he sat still; and indeed, when he had taken a last look at the rabbits, and
the swing, and the river, he sat down and had a cry after all. Harry was crying at the same time in the boat. But soon both the boys dried their tears, and went indoors, resolving to be as cheerful as they could.
But here another trial awaited them ; for Aggy, who had only that morning realized the fact that her brothers were going away, began to give forth a series of howls of anguish at intervals of about five minutes, refusing to be comforted, and only restrained by her nurse from rushing out half-dressed to tell Donald not to put the horse into the phaeton.
This outburst of grief set poor Horace and Harry off again, and made them rush out hastily into the garden, where this time they cried in company. It was Horace who recovered first; and, putting his arm round Harry's neck, he said,
Come, Hal, we mustn't make fools of ourselves ! Mamma and papa are terribly troubled about our going away, and we must try to look as happy as we can for their sake.'
'I won't cry any more,' said Harry; and to do him justice, he didn't till the last moment came, and then nobody could help crying.
It was a great trial for them; though I think everybody, except Aggy-and Aggy had had to be removed to the nursery in a state of inconsolable grief some time before —was glad when breakfast was over, and the phaeton came round to the door.
Who can blame them if the parting was a bitter one on both sides? This was the first time that the boys had ever been separated from their home, unless it were for a day or two only, and the first time that Briarbrae had wanted their bright, happy faces.
Horace and Harry hung round their mother's neck, and could scarcely bear to tear themselves away and follow their papa into the phaeton. But it was over at length, and they were rolling along the road with tear
Sorrow does not last long with boys. When the familiar glen was left behind, and the steep, rough road up the mountain once entered upon, they had all to get out and walk, and then the exercise, and the fresh, sharp mountain breeze soon brought back the boys' spirits, and put them into a happier frame of mind, which their father did his best to encourage by cheery conversation. They were at the top of the mountain in what seemed no time, and then it was all downhill work. Charley,' sagest of old grey horses, although in general very slow and deliberative in his movements, understood that on this occasion he was expected to put his best foot foremost, and, in spite of the very heavy weight behind him, stepped out to such good purpose, that in less than two hours they were on the black wooden pier at Inverarnan, waiting for the good steamer St Kilda, which in the distance they could already see puffing towards them.
Up she came at the rate of fifteen miles an hour. Captain Hazelwood and his boys scarcely waited for the gangway to be laid down to jump in, the luggage was bundled on board, the whistle sounded, and off went the St Kilda again so sharply, that you would scarcely have known that she stopped.
Our party soon found a seat on the deck, where they stationed themselves, that is to say, Captain Hazelwood sat down, and so did his sons for about two minutes ; after which, of course, they were too restless to sit, and set forth upon exploring expeditions to the paddle-boxes, the saloon, the forecastle, and other parts of the boat, returning every few minutes in a great state of excitement, to tell their papa something strange which they had seen.
You must remember that they were not accustomed to travelling, and many things were strange to them, which are quite familiar to my young friends who pass no year of their lives without a visit to Brighton, or Scarbro', or St Andrews, or the Clyde.
At length, the boys got tired of roaming about, and settled down beside their papa. There was an old lady opposite, who caused them much wonder. She seemed terribly nervous, and unused to travelling, and was every moment expressing a fear that the boat would sink, or blow up, or run against something; her imagination of such catastrophes at length becoming so vivid, that she had to be led below to the ladies' cabin by her daughters, who had tried in vain every mode of reassuring her while on deck! As she rose to go, protesting that she knew she would never get home alive, Horace was ill-mannered enough to titter, but was instantly checked by a frown from his father.
'Horace !' Well, papa, I really couldn't help it. It seems so ridiculous to be afraid of nothing.'
* It is very wrong of you to hurt the feelings of any one, especially a lady, by such rudeness.'
Horace hung his head.
'I have faced many dangers myself, and have learned, 'I hope, from them never to be afraid myself, but never to laugh at the fears of others. You have been accustomed to boats and the sea all your life, ever since you were a little child at least; but most likely this old lady has never been off land before. And when we come to think of it, there are many things to be afraid of about the shortest sea voyage. A very little leak would sink this boat, and a little flaw in the boiler would cause it to burst, and make terrible destruction among us. Little things are very dangerous, Horace. Do you understand me?'
• Oh, papa, you mean the little things mamma was speaking to me about the other day!'
'I did mean to remind you of that. Remember, too, little acts of kindness and courtesy make us liked, and little pieces of rudeness and thoughtlessness make us disliked by others.'
'Papa, tell us something about some of the dangers you have been in, put in Harry.
Well, my boy, I have been a long voyage to India. Some people—that old lady, for instance—would think that a very great danger of itself.'
Oh, that would be jolly fun!' “Well, but to be driven for three days in a furious storm, without masts or boats, working night and day at the pumps, and the ship expected every moment to go to pieces: would you call that jolly fun, Master Harry? You may well shake your head. And now, would
you like to be cooped up in a little fort with a hundred Europeans, defending it against a host of fierce enemies, or to charge up a hill into a battery bristling with cannons and bayonets? That is what soldiers have to do often, what I have done more than once, though I hope it will never be my duty to do so again.