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line and flies went all tangling round and round his rod; you might have knocked him over with a feather. Neither of his companions took any notice of him luckily; and with a violent effort he set to work mechanically to disentangle his line. He felt completely carried off his moral and intellectual legs, as if he had lost his standing point in the invisible world. Besides which the deep loving loyalty which he felt for his old leader made the shock intensely painful. It was the first great wrench of his life, the first gap which the angel Death had made in his circle, and he felt numbed, and beaten down, and spiritless. Well, well! I believe it was good for him and for many others in like case; who had to learn by that loss, that the soul of man cannot stand or lean upon any human prop, however strong, and wise, and good; but that He upon whom alone it can stand and lean will knock away all such props in His own wise and merciful way, until there is no ground or stay left but Himself, the Rock of Ages, upon whom alone a sure foundation for every soul of man is laid.
As he wearily laboured at his line, the thought struck him, “ it may all be false, a mere newspaper lie," and he strode up to the recumbent smoker.
“ Let me look at the paper,” said he.
“ Nothing else in it,” answered the other, handing it up to him listlessly. — Hullo, Brown! what's the matter, old fellow - ain't you well ?"
“ Where is it?" said Tom, turning over the leaves, his hands trembling, and his eyes swimming, so that he could not read.
6 What? What are you looking for ? ” said his friend, jumping up and looking over his shoulder.
66 That - about Arnold," said Tom.
“ Oh here," said the other, putting his finger on the paragraph. Tom read it over and over again; there could be no mistake of identity, though the account was short enough.
“ Thank you,” said he at last, dropping the paper, 6 I shall go for a walk : don't you and Herbert wait supper for me." And away he strode, up over the moor at the back of the house, to be alone, and master his grief if possible.
His friend looked after him, sympathizing and wondering, and knocking the ashes out of his pipe, walked over to Herbert. After a short parley they walked together up to the house.
“ I'm afraid that confounded newspaper has spoiled Brown's fun for this trip."
“ How odd that he should be so fond of his old master,” said Herbert. Yet they also were both public-school nen.
The two, however, notwithstanding Tom's prohibition, waited supper for him, and had everything ready when he came back some half-anhour afterwards. But he could not join in their cheerful talk, and the party was soon silent, notwithstanding the efforts of all three. One thing only had Tom resolved, and that was that he couldn't stay in Scotland any longer; he felt an irresistible longing to get to Rugby, and then home, and soon broke it to the others, who had too much tact to oppose.
So by daylight the next morning he was marching through Rosshire, and in the evening hit the Caledonian canal, took the next steamer, and travelled as fast as boat and railway could carry him to the Rugby station.
As he walked up to the town he felt shy and afraid of being seen, and took the back streets; why, he didn't know, but he followed his instinct. At the school-gates he made a dead pause; there was not a soul in the quadrangle — all was lonely, and silent, and sad. So with another effort he strode through the quadrangle, and into the school-house offices.
He found the little matron in her room, in deep mourning; shook her hand, tried to talk, and moved nervously about: she was evidently thinking of the same subject as he, but he couldn't begin talking.
“ Where shall I find Thomas ?” said he at last, getting desperate.
“ In the servants' hall, I think, sir. "But won't you take any thing?" said the matron, looking rather disappointed.
“ No, thank you,” said he, and strode off again to find the old verger, who was sitting in his little den as of old, puzzling over hieroglyphics.
He looked up through his spectacles, as Tøm seized his hand and wrung it.
Ah! you've heard all about it, sir, I see," said he.
Tom nodded, and then sat down on the shoeboard, while the old man told his tale, and wiped
his spectacles, and fairly flowed over with quaint, homely, honest sorrow.
By the time he had done, Tom felt much better.
66 Where is he buried, Thomas ?" said he at last.
56 Under the altar in the chapel, sir,” answered Thomas. “ You'd like to have the key, I dare say."
6 Thank you, Thomas-yes, I should, very much." And the old man fumbled among his bunch, and then got up, as though he would go with him; but after a few steps stopped short and said, “ Perhaps you'd like to go by yourself, sir?”
Tom nodded, and the bunch of keys were handed to him with an injunction to be sure and lock the door after him, and bring them back before eight o'clock.
He walked quickly through the quadrangle and out into the close. The longing which had been upon him and driven him thus far, like the gad-fly in the Greek legends, giving him no rest in mind or body, seemed all of a sudden not to be satisfied, but to shrivel up, and pall." Why should I go on? It's no use," he thought, and threw himself at full length on the turf, and looked vaguely and listlessly at all the well-known objects. There were a few of the town boys playing cricket, their wicket pitched on the best piece in the middle of the big-side ground, a sin about equal to sacrilege in the eyes of a captain of the eleven. He was very nearly getting up to go and send them off. “ Pshaw! they won't remember me. They've more right there than 1,” he muttered. And the thought that his
sceptre had departed, and his mark was wearing out, came home to him for the first time, and bitterly enough. He was lying on the very spot where the fights came off; where he himself had fought six years ago his first and last battle. He. conjured up the scene till he could almost hear the shouts of the ring, and East's whisper in his ear; and looking across the close to the Doctor's private door, half expected to see it open, and the tall figure in cap and gown come striding under the elm-trees towards him.
No, no! that sight could never be seen again. There was no flag flying on the round tower; the school-house windows were all shuttered up ; and when the flag went up again, and the shutters came down, it would be to welcome a stranger. All that was left on earth of him whom he had honoured, was lying cold and still under the chapel floor. He would go in and see the place once more, and then leave it once for all. New men and new methods might do for other people ; let those who would worship the rising star, he at least would be faithful to the sun which had set. And so he got up, and walked to the chapel door and unlocked it, fancying himself the only mourner in all the broad land, and feeding on his own selfish sorrow.
He passed through the vestibule, and then paused for a moment to glance over the empty benches. His heart was still proud and high, and he walked up to the seat which he had last occupied as a sixthform boy, and sat himself down there to collect his thoughts.