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“You, Paul ? Just run up, and tell Will and Gordon to come down to supper; your mother must not suffer for their sakes."
“Very well, sir." Up went Paul; first to Gordon, who, poor little fellow, did indeed hail him, as far as brightening of eyes went, as a friend.
“Mamma is downstairs again,” began Paul, "SO papa has sent me for you and Will.”
Will? but if he knew it was Will's fault, why did he keep me up here ?"
“ He does not know it was Will's fault; but poor Will got into trouble in trying to explain it all to him. Now run down, and if you say nothing about it no one else will, I'm sure.
“Let me come with you,” cried Gordon after him.
“Here, take my light, and make yourself tidy then. I will come back;" and Paul went on to the other prisoner. This was a more difficult task.
“ Mamma is downstairs,” he began once more. • Oh!"
has sent me for you.” “ Well, come along." “No thank you. “Come, Will, don't be silly."
“ It isn't silly. I was sent here for trying to speak the truth; and I'll stay here till I have spoken it."
Nonsense, Will! you came here to please yourself, and you must know that it was a very impertinent thing to do.”
“I know he was very unjust."
“Nonsense, Will! Now don't vex mother by staying away.”
"If he'd sent for me because I was innocent, I'd come at once."
Very likely ; so you think a father is to submit to his son's terms.”
So, papa " Thank you.”
“It seems so.
“I think when he has been punished unjustly he ought to release him because he's innocent; not because—because—"answered poor ill, becoming very involved.
“Because be loves his wife better than her own sons do."
“No, not better,” said Will, his eyes full: “he can't do that.”
You know how troubled she will be if she finds you have got into any
such trouble as this." "I can't help that." “ You can and will if you have any right feeling." “But he must hear me out.”
“He will not; and it is of greater consequence that you should be obedient than anything else."
“To be punished for the wrong thing,”. groaned Will. A little pause, during which a choking gulp, then a submissive—“If you'll lend me your light, I'll make myself decent and come down.”
Paul went across to Gordon, and sent him with the candle.
“ Thank you," said Will, glumly; "I'm sorry you got pitched into for my fault, very. I've tried to clear you,
but he won't hear." Why not ?" asked the boy, amazed. “ Because I don't know why-he says we always making excuses for you. I did my best to tell him; and I'll do it again."
Gordon loitered a minute, fidgeting with the candle. “Never mind, Will," he began presently; "don't get into any more trouble for me.
“But I must clear you; I can't be happy first."
“I wish you could ; but I don't so much mind, as Paul knows I didn't deserve it."
Here Paul, who was beginning to think he had already been longer on his errand than he ought to have been, called to his little brother, and down they went. Perhaps it was as well for him that he never knew that the first spark of generosity in Gordon's breast had
been kindled by his kindness. Paul was but human, and the influence he could but be conscious of wielding around him was a snare to conceit, to which it required all his straightforwardness and earnestness to keep him from yielding.
Will soon followed them down : sad and quiet enough; but amongst so large a party, many of whom were already showing their joy in rather too noisy a manner for their mother's nerves, this was not noticed. Supper passed off merrily. Hargrave made bad jokes, at which everyone was ready to laugh. Mr. Wynne sat beaming and content now that his wife's face was once more opposite bis; and Gordon, nestled close into his mother's side, was quite bright and happy again.
He and Laura stayed up till ten, when after prayers all went to bed; all but poor Will running up stairs with light steps and merry good-nights.
Will lingered by Paul, who was last in the hall.
“Paul, may I try again ?” he began with awkward piteousness.
“I cannot but think no," answered Paul kindly.
“Oh! Paul! how am I to get to sleep with that on my mind. Let me tell mother, then.”
' No, not for the world,” said Paul, decidedly. Friday's work shows she must not be tried as she has been.”
“ Then I must try papa. I won't be impertinent, indeed, I won't; don't say no."
Paul did not say it, he only looked another way. There was something in Will's rough, honest nature, that often gave him a choking feeling in his throat. Paul went up stairs; Will into the parlour.
“Papa," he began, timidly.
“William,” said Mr. Wynne, turning round, “I will not hear you.” Will stood a moment, his face working.
Then, papa, I won't try again; but-only beg your pardon for going up stairs as I did.”
“Oh-good-night;" and Mr. Wynne held out his hand friendlily. Will took it, longing, how much no one can tell, to try again ; but he refrained.
He went, however, into Paul's room on his way to bed, and sat down despairingly.
“No good !"
“I feared so. But you may make yourself happy; you have done your very best.”.
“ Yes I think I have,” Will was forced to own. “ But, oh! to think I've always got that to be upon “You are exaggerating there a little, Will."
“I don't think I am. I am very sorry that Gordon should be thought so much worse of than he deserves, and-that I should not be punished at all. And to think it all comes from that stupid thoughtlessness for which mamma has been at me ever since I can remember. Perhaps, if I had got into a regular row with papa about it, and caught it well, it might have cured me.
Paul hesitated. “Don't you think, Will,” he began at last honestly, “it may be, that just to help you to cure yourself God has allowed this misunderstanding; that He is punishing you Himself, by making you bear a burden, which is a great deal more irksome to you than anything a fellow-man can inflict.”
“If so, I'm sure my punishment is heavier than I can bear. I don't mean to be irreverent-I mean it. To know mamma is thinking I have been kind to Gordon when I've been so unkind, and papa having this to make him so much the more angry with the poor little fellow. I must always feel like a hypocrite now.'
Will sank down his head, sat in thought a few minutes, then started up—“Good-night, Paul : I'll think over what you've said, and if-if it does really seem to be as you say, try to bear it bravely. Goodnight, and thank you,- I'm sure it ought to cure me."
“Help you to cure yourself,” corrected Paul, “I'm sure it will;" and the clerk wrung the schoolboy's hand so heartily that Will looked up
in But let no one imagine that such a Sunday had ever before been known at Ford House. Even Barbara had far from foreseen all the evils to which a mother's favouritism would give birth.