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his hand on the table to steady himself, “I can't do so, because I had.”
“ You had !” cried Mr. Wynne incredulously, squirted at Mr. Dobbs over the wall, and when he reprehended you, stood and jeered at him ?"
Yes, papa,” answered Will more steadily. “ I told you so," cried Mr. Dobbs, triumphantly, "I may be shortsighted, but I do know a Wynne when I see him, and shall remember him too, and he shall remember me before I've done with him," and he clenched his fist.
" Then you may have done something with a ladder ?” from Mr. Dobbs' excited, incoherent words whenever this part of the complaint had been touched upon, and from really thinking that his neighbour was labouring under an hallucination, Mr. Wynne had scarcely taken in this part of the disgraceful business.
“No, papa-but it was done for my sake," answered Will, unfalteringly this time.
Ab, hear your own son's account, and then perhaps you'll believe mine," cried poor Mr. Dobbs, who had been additionally aggravated by Mr. Wynne's cour. teous incredulity respecting the whole affair. “Tell it, Will !" said Mr. Wynne, shortly, folding
Poor Will stumbled through the long narration with the most scrupulous accuracy; Mr. Dobbs, though on the keenest watch, never once convicted him of any attempt at prevarication nor of bettering his cause.
“That is all P” asked Mr. Wynne, as he stopped. “Yes," answered poor Will.
Then,” said Mr. Wynne rapidly, "I own, Mr. Dobbs, that my son's conduct is worthy of every epithet you have applied to it. I could not believe it of any one of my sons, least of all of this," here poor Will could hold out no longer, and hiding his face in his hands, burst into a sudden storm of tears, " of course he shall apologise to you, apologise at once-I beg your pardon now for dismissing the case as I did
last Saturday. By the by, Will," he said sternly, “I asked about Mr. Dobbs' complaint, and you said that nothing of the kind had occurred."
“Harvey answered, he didn't know-but I was there, and I ought to have spoken out, I know I ought."
“ So now,” ended Mr. Wynne, turning back to Mr. Dobbs, his tone one of mingled displeasure and disgust, "I leave the matter in your hands. Any punishment you think adequate to the offence I will inflict.”
“In my opinion, sir, they deserve a good thrashing." Will writhed.
“For the greater delinquent I am happily in no way responsible-as regards my own son I will keep my word,” answered Mr. Wynne, not without an effort.
Will submitted without a word or tear. His whole soul seemed dead within him.
“Now," said Mr. Wynne coldly, “beg Mr. Dobbs' pardon, and let me never hear of any approach to such behaviour again."
Will raised his head, his face quite white, and obeyed. Something in the humbled, despairing expression of the young face which had been so full of spirit and happiness a few hours before, touched Mr. Dobbs' heart.
“Never mind, never mind !” he said, with blustering goodnature, "don't be so downcast, young fellow, or you'll make me repent I ever told of ye," and Mr. Dobbs burried out. " Mr. Wynne shut the door behind him, and went up
Well, old fellow !" he cried in a mockingly cheerful tone.
Only I wish I were dead !" “My dear fellow, you're hungry and tired, and as cracked as Dobbs himself. You want your tea-come along, I've been making you some famous buttered toast to comfort you.”
Will pushed him off.
“You're not really in trouble ?” and St. John, who was anything but a bad-hearted boy, looked at him anxiously. “I say, you weren't such a fool as to take the ladder part of the business upon yourself to save me. I hate such chivalrous humbug."
“No, I told the truth.”
“ Well then, what's the row ? if Paterfamilias has said nothing to me about that which was the only part of the business really bad (between ourselves, I think if we had toppled over we should have been both killed)—he can't have said anything to you worth caring about, about that stupid squirting. I do rather begin to wonder where the fun of it was myself.' “ He's only broken my heart,” escaped poor Will. Your heart ! my
dear fellow, don't be so spooney! boys have no hearts except hearts of oak! Now come in to tea, or my buttered toast will be all spoilt.”
Instead of doing any such thing, Will pushed St. John aside and dashed up stairs.
Amongst so large a party as that which gradually flocked into the drawing-room, his absence was not observed till after the elders' tea, when Mr. Wynne was settled into his newspaper, and Isabella, Hargrave, Elizabeth, and St. Jobn were gathered round the piano to sing a glee, wbich Isabella had made them practise manfully that morning. Then Mrs. Wynne, looking round, saw only Barbara, David, Laura and Gordon remaining.
“ Where's Will ?" she asked of David her next neighbour.
Reading in the schoolroom, mother.” “Go and—no, never mind, when this is over, I must go up stairs for more wool, so I'll see myself.'
The glee properly admired and another entered upon, which not being so well known was rather distressingly discordant to Mrs. Wynne, whilst her hus
band read happily through it, she slipped out of the room and just looked into the schoolroom. Her chil. dren's time was their own all through the day during the holidays, but she did not expect them to desert the drawing-room in the evening. Will was not there, so she went up stairs, a misgiving first seizing her something might be wrong with him, for Mr. Wynne had been unusually grave during dinner.
She knocked at his door.
But Mrs. Wynne opened the door, and found Will, his face buried in his hands, his head on his little deal table. He did not raise it, neither did he take
notice of her entrance. She leant over him, and, pushing back his thick brown hair, kissed the little triangle of forehead thus made visible.
He only groaned.
She let him be a few minutes, and then put her arm round him. “ You will tell your mother what ails you ?” she whispered.
Poor Will flung his arms round her. “Oh, mother, I can't, I can't !"
Well, then, I won't ask. Just tell me that papa has not sent you here, so that I may know if I ought to stay ?”
“No, he hasn't sent me-but-but you wouldn't stay if you, -if-"
"I know that I will stay with my boy in trouble,” she said fondly, laying his head with her soft hand upon her shoulder, and kissing his burning cheek. Then
poor Will burst into sobs without tears, whilst she soothed and caressed him till the shower of tears came too; and then, ashamed of his weakness, he looked up shy and depressed, but half his burden wept away. Alas! when boyhood grows too old for tears.
“Mother," he said presently," don't stay !-- papa will be wanting you—if you could make him believe how sorry I am."
“My dear boy, he will believe that without my making him do so; don't we both know you by this time ?"
So very fond and proud was the mother, with good reason, growing of this son.
No, mother, you don't know me, and—now you are well I
tell you, though Paul would not let me at the time," and he burst out into the history of the Sunday afternoon after Gordon's running away.
“ Now you must bate memand this is almost worse -I thought I should be happier when you knew, it has been such a weight upon me ever since.”
“ You will be happier, my poor boy.—There, don't look so wretched, it was very unkind, but it was only thoughtlessness—though, seeing it leads to so much that is wrong, I bardly like to say only."
“No,-it's only thoughtlessness," said Will, with a sneer at himself, “ that has brought me into this now. Paul said that having to feel a hypocrite to you and papa might help to cure me; I felt sure it would cure me at once, but it hasn't. And, just now, I felt sure this would, but I doubt now.”
“No, my boy, it will not cure you at once; no one can be cured at once, it is a cure which our whole lives cannot perfect, but none the less one which we must daily struggle to attain."
“ It seems so wicked, mother, to keep falling like this, and it makes it so hopeless."
“Your falls are further apart than they used to be, Will, but you must fall from time to time, strive as you will ; don't let the devil cheat you into believing you are not striving at all; ours is a life-long fightlet me read you wbat S. Paul says,
you will see that the greatest and holiest soldier of CHRIST, one who had forsaken all to follow Him, still felt within him the possibility of after all falling away,--we can only