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   Chapter 26 THE LONG WALK IN CHRISTCHURCH MEADOWS

Tom Brown at Oxford By Thomas Hughes Characters: 35127

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:05


"Do well unto thyself and men will speak good of thee," is a maxim as old as King David's time, and just as true now as it was then. Hardy had found it so since the publication of the class list. Within a few days of that event it was known that his was a very good first. His college tutor had made his own inquiries, and repeated on several occasions in a confidential way the statement that, "with the exception of a want of polish in his Latin and Greek verses, which we seldom get except in the most finished public school men-Etonians in particular-there has been no better examination in the schools for several years." The worthy tutor went on to take glory to the college, and in a lower degree to himself. He called attention, in more than one common room, to the fact that Hardy had never had any private tuition, but had attained his intellectual development solely in the curriculum provided by St. Ambrose's College for the training of the youth entrusted to her. "He himself, indeed," he would add, "had always taken much interest in Hardy, and had, perhaps, done more for him than would be possible in every case, but only with direct reference to, and in supplement of the college course."

The Principal had taken marked and somewhat pompous notice of him, and had graciously intimated his wish, or, perhaps I should say, his will (for he would have been much astonished to be told that a wish of his could count for less than a royal mandate to any man who had been one of his servitors) that Hardy should stand for a fellowship, which had lately fallen vacant. A few weeks, before, this excessive affability and condescension of the great man would have wounded Hardy; but, somehow, the sudden rush of sunshine and prosperity, though it had not thrown him off his balance, or changed his estimate of men and things had pulled a sort of comfortable sheath over his sensitiveness, and gave him a second skill, as it were, from which the Principal's shafts bounded off innocuous, instead of piercing and rankling. At first, the idea of standing for a fellowship at St Ambrose's was not pleasant to him. He felt inclined to open up entirely new ground for himself, and stand at some other college, where he had neither acquaintance nor association. But on second thoughts, he resolved to stick to his old college, moved thereto partly by the lamentations of Tom when he heard of his friends meditated emigration but chiefly by the unwillingness to quit a hard post for an easier one, which besets natures like his to their own discomfort, but, may one hope, to the single benefit of the world at large. Such men may see clearly enough all the advantages of a move of this kind-may quite appreciate the ease which it would bring them-may be impatient with themselves for not making it at once, but when it comes to the actual leaving the old post, even though it may be a march out with all the honours of war, drums beating and colors flying, as it would have been in Hardy's case, somehow or another, nine times out of ten, they throw up the chance at the last moment, if not earlier; pick up their old arms-growling perhaps at the price they are paying to keep their own self-respect-and shoulder back into the press to face their old work, muttering, "We are asses; we don't know what's good for us; but we must see this job through somehow, come what may."

So Hardy stayed on at St. Ambrose, waiting for the fellowship examination, and certainly, I am free to confess, not a little enjoying the change in his position and affairs.

He had given up his low dark back rooms to the new servitor, his successor, to whom he had presented all the rickety furniture, except his two Windsor chairs and Oxford reading-table. The intrinsic value of the gift was not great, certainly, but was of importance to the poor raw boy who was taking his place; and it was made with the delicacy of one who knew the situation. Hardy's good offices did not stop here. Having tried the bed himself for upwards of three long years, he knew all the hard places, and was resolved while he stayed up that they should never chafe another occupant as they had him. So he set himself to provide stuffing, and took the lad about with him, and cast a skirt of his newly-acquired mantle of respectability over him, and put him in the way of making himself as comfortable as circumstances would allow, never disguising from him all the while that the bed was not to be a bed of roses. In which pursuit, though not yet a fellow, perhaps he was qualifying himself better for a fellowship than he could have done by any amount of cramming for polish in his versification. Not that the electors of St. Ambrose would be likely to hear of or appreciate this kind of training. Polished versification would no doubt have told more in that quarter. But we who are behind the scenes may disagree with them, and hold that he who is thus acting out and learning to understand the meaning of the word "fellow-ship," is the man for our votes.

So Hardy had left his rooms and gone out of college into lodgings near at hand. The sword, epaulettes, and picture of his father's old ship-his tutelary divinities, as Tom called them-occupied their accustomed places in his new rooms, except that there was a looking-glass over the mantel-piece here, by the side of which the sword hung-instead of in the centre, as it had done while he had no such luxury. His Windsor chairs occupied each side of the pleasant window of his sitting-room, and already the taste for luxuries of which he had so often accused himself to Tom began to peep out in the shape of one or two fine engravings. Altogether fortune was smiling on Hardy, and he was making the most of her, like a wise man, having brought her round by proving that he could get on without her, and was not going out of the way to gain her smiles. Several men came at once, even before he had taken his B. A. degree, to read with him, and others applied to know whether he would take a reading party in the long vacation. In short, all things went well with Hardy, and the Oxford world recognized the fact, and tradesmen and college servants became obsequious, and began to bow before him, and recognize him as one of their lords and masters.

It was to Hardy's lodgings that Tom repaired straight-way, when he left his cousin by blood, and cousin by courtesy, at the end of the last chapter. For, running over in his mind all his acquaintance, he at once fixed upon Hardy as the man to accompany him in escorting the ladies to the Long Walk. Besides being his own most intimate friend, Hardy was the man whom he would prefer to all others to introduce to ladies now. "A month ago it might have been different," Tom thought; "he was such an old guy in his dress. But he has smartened up, and wears as good a coat as I do, and looks well enough for anybody, though he never will be much of a dresser. Then he will be in a bachelor's gown too, which will look respectable."

"Here you are; that's all right; I'm so glad you're in," he said as he entered the room. "Now I want you to come to the Long Walk with me to-night."

"Very well-will you call for me?"

"Yes, and mind you come in your best get-up, old fellow; we shall have two of the prettiest girls who are up, with us."

"You won't want me then; they will have plenty of escort."

"Not a bit of it. They are deserted by their natural guardian, my old uncle, who has gone out to dinner. Oh, it's all right; they are my cousins, more like sisters, and my uncle knows we are going. In fact it was he who settled that I should take them."

"Yes, but you see I don't know them."

"That doesn't matter, I can't take them both myself-I must have somebody with me, and I'm so glad to get the chance of introducing you to some of my people. You'll know them all, I hope, before long."

"Of course I should like it very much, if you are sure it's all right."

Tom was perfectly sure as usual, and so the matter was arranged. Hardy was very much pleased and gratified at this proof of his friend's confidence; and I am not going to say that he did not shave again, and pay most unwonted attention to his toilet before the hour fixed for Tom's return. The fame of Brown's lionesses had spread through St. Ambrose's already, and Hardy had heard of them as well as other men. There was something so unusual to him in be ing selected on such an occasion, when the smartest men in the college were wishing and plotting for that which came to him unasked, that he may be pardoned for feeling something a little like vanity, while he adjusted the coat which Tom had recently thought of with such complacency, and looked in the glass to see that his gown hung gracefully. The effect on the whole was so good, that Tom was above measure astonished when he came back, and could not help indulging in some gentle chaff as they walked towards the High-street arm in arm.

The young ladies were quite rested, and sitting dressed and ready for their walk, when Tom and Hardy were announced, and entered the room. Miss Winter rose up, surprised and a little embarrassed at the introduction of a total stranger in her father's absence. But she put a good face on the matter, as became a well-bred young woman, though she secretly resolved to lecture Tom in private, as he introduced "My great friend, Mr. Hardy, of our college. My cousins." Mary dropped a pretty little demure courtesy, lifting her eyes for one moment for a glance at Tom which said as plain as look could speak, "Well, I must say you are making the most of your new-found relationship." He was a little put out for a moment, but then recovered himself, and said apologetically,

"Mr. Hardy is a bachelor, Kate-I mean a Bachelor of Arts, and he knows all the people by sight up here. We couldn't have gone to the Walk without some one to show us the lions."

"Indeed, I'm afraid you give me too much credit," said Hardy. "I know most of our dons by sight, certainly, but scarcely any of the visitors."

The awkwardness of Tom's attempted explanation set everything wrong again.

Then came one of those awkward pauses which will occur so very provokingly at the most inopportune times. Miss Winter was seized with one of the uncontrollable fits of shyness, her bondage to which she had so lately been grieving over to Mary; and in self-defence, and without meaning in the least to do so, drew himself up, and looked as proud as you please.

Hardy, whose sensitiveness was almost as keen as a woman's, felt in a moment the awkwardness of the situation, and became as shy as Miss Winter herself. If the floor would have suddenly opened, and let him through into the dark shop, he would have been thankful; but, as it would not, there he stood, meditating a sudden retreat from the room and a tremendous onslaught on Tom, as soon as he could catch him alone, for getting him into such a scrape. Tom was provoked with them all for not at once feeling at ease with one another, and stood twirling his cap by the tassel, and looking fiercely at it, resolved not to break the silence. He had been at all the trouble of bringing about this charming situation, and now nobody seemed to like it, or to know what to say or do. They ought to get themselves out of it as they could, for anything he cared; he was not going to bother himself any more.

Mary looked in the glass, to see that her bonnet was quite right, and then from one to another of her companions, in a little wonder at their unaccountable behavior, and a little pique that two young men should be standing there like unpleasant images, and not availing themselves of the privilege of trying, at least, to make themselves agreeable to her. Luckily, however, for the party, the humorous side of the tableau struck her with great force, so that when Tom lifted his misanthropic eyes for a moment, and caught hers, they were so full of fun that he had nothing to do but to allow herself, not without a struggle, to break first into a smile and then into a laugh. This brought all eyes to bear on him, and the ice, being once broken, dissolved as quickly as it had gathered.

"I really can't see what there is to laugh at, Tom," said Miss Winter, smiling herself, nevertheless, and blushing a little, as she worked or pretended to work at buttoning one of her gloves.

"Can't you, Kate? Well, then, isn't it very ridiculous, and enough to make one laugh, that we four should be standing here in a sort of Quaker's meeting, when we ought to be half-way to the Long Walk by this time?"

"Oh do let us start," said Mary; "I know we shall be missing all the best of the sight.

"Come along, then," said Tom, leading the way down stairs, and Hardy and the ladies followed, and they descended into the High Street, walking all abreast, the two ladies together, with a gentleman on either flank. This formation answered well enough on High Street, the broad pavement of that celebrated thoroughfare being favourable to an advance in line. But when they had wheeled into Oriel Lane the narrow pavement at once threw the line into confusion, and after one or two fruitless attempts to take up the dressing, they settled down into the more natural formation of close column of couples, the leading couple consisting of Mary and Tom, and the remaining couple of Miss Winter and Hardy. It was a lovely midsummer evening, and Oxford was looking her best under the genial cloudless sky, so that, what with the usual congratulations on the weather, and explanatory remarks on the buildings as they passed along, Hardy managed to keep up a conversation with his companion without much difficulty. Miss Winter was pleased with his quiet, deferential manner, and soon lost her feeling of shyness; and, before Hardy had come to the end of such remarks as it occurred to him to make, she was taking her fair share in the talk. In describing their day's doings she spoke with enthusiasm of the beauty of Magdalen Chapel, and betrayed a little knowledge of traceries and mouldings, which gave an opening to her companion to travel out of the weather and the names of colleges. Church architecture was just one of the subjects which was sure at that time to take more or less hold on every man at Oxford whose mind was open to the influences of the place. Hardy had read the usual text-books, and kept his eyes open as he walked about the town and neighborhood. To Miss Winter he seemed so learned on the subject, that she began to doubt his tendencies, and was glad to be reassured by some remarks which fell from him as to the University sermon which she had heard. She was glad to find that her cousin's most intimate friend was not likely to lead him into the errors of Tractarianism.

Meantime the leading couple were getting on satisfactorily in their own way.

"Isn't it good of Uncle Robert? He says that he shall feel quite comfortable as long as you and Katie are with me. In fact, I feel quite responsible already, like an old dragon in a story-book watching a treasure."

"Yes, but what does Katie say to being made a treasure of? She has to think a good deal for herself; and I am afraid you are not quite certain of being our sole knight and guardian because Uncle Robert wants to get rid of us. Poor old uncle!"

"But you wouldn't object, then?"

"Oh, dear, no-at least, not unless you take to looking as cross as you did just now in our lodgings. Of course, I'm all for dragons who are mad about dancing, and never think of leaving a ball-room till the band packs up and the old man shuffles in to put out the lights."

"Then I shall be a model dragon," said Tom. Twenty-four hours earlier he had declared that nothing should induce him to go to the balls; but his views on the subject had been greatly modified, and he had been worrying all his acquaintance, not unsuccessfully, for the necessary tickets, ever since his talk with his cousins on the preceding evening.

The scene became more and more gay and lively as they passed out of Christchurch towards the Long Walk. The town turned out to take its share in the show; and citizens of all ranks, the poorer ones accompanied by children of all ages, trooped along cheek by jowl with members of the University, of all degrees, and their visitors, somewhat indeed to the disgust of certain of these latter, many of whom declared that the whole thing was spoilt by the miscellaneousness of the crowd, and that "those sort of people" ought not to be allowed to come to the Long Walk on Show Sunday. However, "those sort of people" abounded nevertheless, and seemed to enjoy very much, in sober fashion, the solemn march up and down beneath the grand avenue of elms in the midst of their betters.

The University was there in strength, from the Vice-Chancellor downwards. Somehow or another, though it might seem an unreasonable thing at first sight for grave and reverend persons to do, yet most of the gravest of them found some reason for taking a turn in the Long Walk. As for the undergraduates, they turned out almost to a man, and none of them more certainly than the young gentlemen, elaborately dressed, who had sneered at the whole ceremony as snobbish an hour or two before.

As for our hero, he sailed into the meadows thoroughly satisfied for the moment with himself and his convoy. He had every reason to be so, for though there were many gayer and more fashionably dressed ladies present than his cousin, and cousin by courtesy, there were none there whose faces, figur

es and dresses carried more unmistakably the marks of that thorough quiet high breeding, that refinement which is no mere surface polish, and that fearless unconsciousness which looks out from pure hearts, which are still, thank God, to be found in so many homes of the English gentry.

The Long Walk was filling rapidly, and at every half-dozen paces Tom was greeted by some of his friends or acquaintance, and exchanged a word or two with them. But he allowed them one after another to pass by without effecting any introduction.

"You seem to have a great many acquaintances," said his companion, upon whom none of these salutations were lost.

"Yes, of course; one gets to know a great many men up here."

"It must be very pleasant. But does it not interfere a great deal with your reading?"

"No; because one meets them at lectures, and in hall and chapel. Besides," he added in a sudden fit of honesty, "it is my first year. One doesn't read much in one's first year. It is a much harder thing than people think to take to reading, except just before an examination."

"But your great friend who is walking with Katie-what did you say his name is?"

"Hardy."

"Well, he is a great scholar, didn't you say?"

"Yes, he has just taken a first class. He is the best man of his year."

"How proud you must be of him! I suppose, now, he is a great reader?"

"Yes, he is great at everything. He is nearly the best oar in our boat. By the way, you will come to the procession of boats to-morrow night? We are the head boat on the river."

"Oh, I hope so. Is it a pretty sight? Let us ask Katie about it."

"It is the finest sight in the world," said Tom, who had never seen it; "twenty-four eight oars with their flags flying, and all the crews in uniform. You see the barges over there, moored along the side of the river? You will sit on one of them as we pass."

"Yes, I think I do," said Mary, looking across the meadow in the direction in which he pointed; "you mean those great gilded things. But I don't see the river."

"Shall we walk round there. It won't take up ten minutes."

"But we must not leave the Walk and all the people. It is so amusing here."

"Then you will wear our colors at the procession to-morrow?"

"Yes, if Katie doesn't mind. At least if they are pretty. What are your colors?"

"Blue and white. I will get you some ribbons to-morrow morning."

"Very well, and I will make them up into rosettes."

"Why, do you know them?" asked Tom, as she bowed to two gentlemen in masters' caps and gowns, whom they met in the crowd.

"Yes; at least we met them last night."

"But do you know who they are?"

"Oh, yes; they were introduced to us, and I talked a great deal to them. And Katie scolded me for it when we got home. No; I won't say scolded me, but looked very grave over it."

"They are two of the leaders of the Tractarians."

"Yes. That was the fun of it. Katie was so pleased and interested with them at first; much more than I was. But when she found out who they were, she fairly ran away, and I stayed and talked on. I don't think they said anything very dangerous. Perhaps one of them wrote No. 90. Do you know?"

"I dare say. But I don't know much about it. However, they must have a bad time of it, I should think, up here with the old dons."

"But don't you think one likes people who are persecuted? I declare I would listen to them for an hour, though I didn't understand a word, just to show them that I wasn't afraid of them, and sympathized with them. How can people be so ill-natured? I'm sure they only write what they believe and think will do good."

"That's just what most of us feel," said Tom; "we hate to see them put down because they don't agree with the swells up here. You'll see how they will be cheered in the Theatre."

"Then they are not unpopular and persecuted after all?"

"Oh yes, by the dons. And that's why we all like them. From fellow-feeling you see, because the dons bully them and us equally."

"But I thought they were dons too?"

"Well, so they are, but not regular dons, you know, like the proctors, and deans, and that sort."

His companion did not understand this delicate distinction, but was too much interested in watching the crowd to inquire further.

Presently they met two of the heads of houses walking with several strangers. Everyone was noticing them when they passed, and of course Tom was questioned as to who they were. Not being prepared with an answer, he appealed to Hardy, who was just behind them talking to Miss Winter. They were some of the celebrities on whom honorary degrees were to be conferred, Hardy said; a famous American author, a foreign ambassador, a well-known Indian soldier, and others. Then came some more M.A.'s, one of whom this time bowed to Miss Winter.

"Who was that, Katie?"

"One of the gentlemen we met last night. I did not catch his name, but he was very agreeable."

"Oh, I remember. You were talking to him for a long time after you ran away from me. I was very curious to know what you were saying, you seemed so interested."

"Well, you seem to have made the most of your time last night," said Tom; "I should have thought, Katie, you would hardly have approved of him either."

"But who is he?"

"Why, the most dangerous man in Oxford. What do they call him-a

Germanizer and a rationalist, isn't it, Hardy?"

"Yes, I believe so," said Hardy.

"Oh, think of that! There, Katie; you had much better have stayed by me after all. A Germanizer, didn't you say? What a hard word. It must be much worse than Tractarian, isn't it, now?"

"Mary dear, pray take care; everybody will hear you," said Miss

Winter.

"I wish I thought that everybody would listen to me," replied Miss Mary. "But I really will be quiet, Katie, only I must know which is the worst, my Tractarians or your Germanizer?"

"Oh, the Germanizer, of course," said Tom.

"But why?" said Hardy, who could do no less than break a lance for his companion. Moreover, he happened to have strong convictions on these subjects.

"Why? Because one knows the worst of where the Tractarians are going. They may go to Rome and there's an end of it. But the Germanizers are going into the abysses, or no one knows where."

"There, Katie, you hear, I hope," interrupted Miss Mary, coming to her companion's rescue before Hardy could bring his artillery to bear, "but what a terrible place Oxford must be. I declare it seems quite full of people whom it is unsafe to talk with."

"I wish it were, if they were all like Miss Winter's friend," said Hardy. And then the crowd thickened and they dropped behind again. Tom was getting to think more of his companion and less of himself every minute, when he was suddenly confronted in the walk by Benjamin, the Jew money-lender, smoking a cigar, and dressed in a gaudy figured satin waistcoat and waterfall of the same material, and resplendent with jewelry. He had business to attend to in Oxford at this time of the year. Nothing escaped the eyes of Tom's companion.

"Who was that?" she said; "what a dreadful-looking man! Surely he bowed as if he knew you?"

"I dare say. He is impudent enough for anything," said Tom.

"But who is he?"

"Oh, a rascally fellow who sells bad cigars and worse wine."

Tom's equanimity was much shaken by the apparition of the Jew. The remembrance of the bill scene at the Public house in the Corn-market, and the unsatisfactory prospect in that matter, with Blake plucked and Drysdale no longer a member of the University, and utterly careless as to his liabilities, came across him, and made him silent and absent.

He answered at hazard to his companion's remarks for the next minute or two, until after some particularly inappropriate reply, she turned her head and looked at him for a moment with steady wide open eyes, which brought him to himself, or rather drove him into himself, in no time.

"I really beg your pardon," he said; "I was very rude, I fear. It is so strange to me to be walking here with ladies. What were you saying?"

"Nothing of any consequence-I really forget. But it is a very strange thing for you to walk with ladies here?"

"Strange! I should think it was! I have never seen a lady that I knew up here, till you came."

"Indeed! but there must be plenty of ladies living in Oxford?"

"I don't believe there are. At least, we never see them,"

"Then you ought to be on your best behavior when we do come. I shall expect you now to listen to everything I say, and to answer my silliest questions."

"Oh, you ought not to be so hard on us."

"You mean that you find it hard to answer silly questions? How wise you must all grow, living up here together!"

"Perhaps. But the wisdom doesn't come down to the first-year men; and so-"

"Well, why do you stop?"

"Because I was going to say something you might not like."

"Then I insist on hearing it. Now, I shall not let you off. You were saying that wisdom does not come so low as first-year men; and so-what?"

"And so-and so, they are not wise."

"Yes, of course; but that was not what you were going to say; and so-"

"And so they are generally agreeable, for wise people are always dull; and so-ladies ought to avoid the dons."

"And not avoid first-year men?"

"Exactly so."

"Because they are foolish, and therefore fit company for ladies.

Now, really-"

"No, no; because they are foolish, and, therefore, they ought to be made wise; and ladies are wiser than dons."

"And therefore, duller, for all wise people, you said, were dull."

"Not all wise people; only people who are wise by cramming,-as dons; but ladies are wise by inspiration."

"And first-year men, are they foolish by inspiration and agreeable by cramming, or agreeable by inspiration and foolish by cramming?"

"They are agreeable by inspiration in the society of ladies."

"Then they can never be agreeable, for you say they never see ladies."

"Not with the bodily eye, but with the eye of fancy."

"Then their agreeableness must be all fancy."

"But it is better to be agreeable in fancy than dull in reality."

"That depends upon whose fancy it is. To be agreeable in your own fancy is compatible with being dull in reality as-"

"How you play with words! I see you won't leave me a shred either of fancy or agreeableness to stand on."

"Then I shall do you good service. I shall destroy your illusions; you cannot stand on illusions."

"But remember what my illusions were-fancy and agreeableness."

"But your agreeableness stood on fancy, and your fancy on nothing. You had better settle down at once on the solid basis of dullness like the dons."

"Then I am to found myself on fact, and try to be dull? What a conclusion! But perhaps dullness is no more a fact than fancy; what is dullness?"

"Oh, I do not undertake to define; you are the best judge."

"How severe you are! Now, see how generous I am. Dullness in society is the absence of ladies."

"Alas, poor Oxford! Who is that in the velvet sleeves? Why do you touch your cap?"

"That is the Proctor. He is our Cerberus; he has to keep all undergraduates in good order."

"What a task! He ought to have three heads."

"He has only one head, but it is a very long one. And he has a tail like any Basha, composed of pro-proctors, marshals and bull-dogs, and I don't know what all. But to go back to what we were saying-"

"No, don't let us go back. I'm tired of it; besides you were just beginning about dullness. How can you expect me to listen now?"

"Oh, but do listen, just for two minutes. Will you be serious? I do want to know what you really think when you hear the case."

"Well, I will try-for two minutes, mind."

Upon gaining which permission, Tom went off into an interesting discourse on the unnaturalness of men's lives at. Oxford, which it is by no means necessary to inflict on our readers.

As he was waxing eloquent and sentimental, he chanced to look from his companion's face for a moment in search of a simile, when his eyes alighted on that virtuous member of society, Dick, the factotum of "The Choughs," who was taking his turn in the Long Walk with his betters. Dick's face was twisted into an uncomfortable grin; his eyes were fixed on Tom and his companion; and he made a sort of half motion towards touching his hat, but couldn't quite carry it through, and so passed by.

"Ah! ain't he a going of it again," he muttered to himself; "jest like 'em all."

Tom didn't hear the words, but the look had been quite enough for him, and he broke off short in his speech, and turned his head away, and, after two or three flounderings which Mary seemed not to notice, stopped short, and let Miss Winter and Hardy join them.

"It's getting dark," he said, as they came up; "the Walk is thinning; ought we not to be going? Remember, I am in charge."

"Yes, I think it is time."

At this moment the great Christchurch bell-Tom by name-began to toll.

"Surely that can't be Tom?" Miss Winter said, who had heard the one hundred and one strokes on former occasions.

"Indeed it is, though."

"But how very light it is."

"It is almost the longest day in the year, and there hasn't been a cloud all day."

They started to walk home all together, and Tom gradually recovered himself, but left the labouring oar to Hardy, who did his work very well, and persuaded the ladies to go on and see the Ratcliffe by moonlight-the only time to see it, as he said, because of the shadows-and just to look in at the old quadrangle of St. Ambrose.

It was almost ten o'clock when they stopped at the lodgings in

High-street. While they were waiting for the door to be opened,

Hardy said-

"I really must apologize, Miss Winter, to you, for my intrusion to-night. I hope your father will allow me to call on him."

"Oh yes! pray do; he will be so glad to see any friend of my cousin's."

"And if I can be of any use to him; or to you, or your sister-"

"My sister! Oh, you mean Mary? She is not my sister."

"I beg your pardon. But I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you."

"Indeed we will. Now, Mary, papa will be worrying about us." And so the young ladies said their adieus and disappeared.

"Surely you told me they were sisters," said Hardy, as the two walked away towards college.

"No, did I? I don't remember."

"But they are your cousins?"

"Yes, at least Katie is. Don't you like her?"

"Of course, one can't help liking her. But she says you have not met for two years or more."

"No more we have."

"Then I suppose you have seen more of her companion lately?"

"Well, if you must know, I never saw her before yesterday."

"You don't mean to say that you took me in there tonight when you had never seen one of the young ladies before, and the other not for two years! Well, upon my word, Brown-"

"Now don't blow me up, old fellow, to-night-please don't. There, I give in. Don't hit a fellow when he's down. I'm so low." Tom spoke in such a depreciating tone that Hardy's wrath passed away.

"Why, what's the matter?" he said. "You seemed to be full of talk. I was envying your fluency I know, often."

"Talk! yes so I was. But didn't you see Dick in the Walk? You have never heard anything more?"

"No! but no news is good news."

"Heigho! I'm awfully down. I want to talk to you. Let me come up."

"Come along then." And so they disappeared into Hardy's lodgings.

The two young ladies, meanwhile, soothed old Mr. Winter, who had eaten and drank more than was good for him, and was naturally put out thereby. They soon managed to persuade him to retire, and then followed them-selves-first to Mary's room, where that young lady burst out at once, "What a charming place it is! Oh! didn't you enjoy your evening, Katie!"

"Yes, but I felt a little awkward without a chaperone. You seemed to get on very well with my cousin. You scarcely spoke to us in the Long Walk till just before we came away. What were you talking about?"

Mary burst into a gay laugh. "All sorts of nonsense," she said. "I don't think I ever talked so much nonsense in my life. I hope he isn't shocked. I don't think he is. But I said anything that came into my head. I couldn't help it. You don't think it wrong?"

"Wrong, dear? No, I'm sure you could say nothing wrong."

"I'm not so sure of that. But, Katie dear, I know there is something on his mind."

"Why do you think so?"

"Oh, because he stopped short twice, and became quite absent, and seemed not to hear anything I said."

"How odd! I never knew him do so. Did you see any reason for it?"

"No; unless it was two men we passed in the crowd. One was a vulgar-looking wretch, who was smoking-a fat black thing, with such a thick nose, covered with jewelry-"

"Not his nose, dear?"

"No, but his dress; and the other was a homely, dried-up little man, like one of your Englebourn troubles. I'm sure there is some mystery about them, and I shall find it out. But how did you like his friend, Katie?"

"Very much, indeed. I was rather uncomfortable at walking so long with a stranger. But he was very pleasant, and is so fond of Tom. I am sure he is a very good friend for him."

"He looks a good man; but how ugly!"

"Do you think so? We shall have a hard day to-morrow. Good night, dear."

"Good night, Katie. But I don't feel a bit sleepy." And so the cousins kissed one another, and Miss Winter went to her own room.

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