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brightened my convalescence with her sunny presence.
One day, as she rose to leave, and extended her hand to me, her eyes met mine, and then, unable to control her emotions, she burst into tears.
What is the matter, dear Miss Maud?" I asked. My heart sank. I dreaded what would follow, and yet I felt a secret, a wicked joy at the explanation.
I am so sorry for you; and it seems so ungrateful in us, after your noble self-devotion to my darling brother. I know that he owes his life to you; and I am ready to sink into the ground for shame when I think how little care we have taken of you in return. Papa does not see it; but I can think of nothing else. He says that the keeper's wife is a worthy body, and attends to you very kindly; but then-she has seven children to look after also, and she cannot devote her undivided attention to you. Oh, Mr. Flopjohn !—it ought not to be; and you so good-so generous-so honorable I feel I feel that my whole life would be too little repayment for all you have done for us.
I was overcome also. For a moment I forgot Tommy, everything, and clasped beautiful Maud to my heart.
Noble, generous, heroic soul!" I
Robert," she whispered, "you have loved me. I knew it, though you did everything to conceal your passion. I also have loved you, as I revere your principles. I can do no better than intrust my future to one so upright.'
But, your father?" I stammered.
My father will not consent," she said. But I have eight thousand pounds of my own, which at four and a half per cent amounts to three hundred and sixty pounds per annum. Surely we can live and love and be happy on that! We will run away together and get married, and then return and throw ourselves on papa's generosity. He is proud, but kind and forgiving. He would not give consent, but he will accept the fait accompli.'
I held her hands and looked into her eyes. I could not speak. She said, "I will return to-morrow, and we will make our plans together." We kissed, and she departed.
I could not sleep that night. was the sweetest, most charming girl in the world—a girl with three hundred and sixty pounds per annum, with a Norman name, and the bluest of blue blood in her veins-ready to throw herself into my arms. Eight thousand pounds offered to me, without any marriage settlements. I tossed on my bed. Towards morning. I became calmer. I thought of Tommy. Then I rose from my bed, dressed, put my poor traps together in a bundle, and at early daybreak, before any one stirring, I left the house. I fled the temptation to do what I knew Tommy would have scorned to do. As in the cold morning air I walked away, I thought how Harry would have acted if placed in my position. He would not have nursed the sick boy, called thereto by no obligation. Then the boy would have died, and Maud have been an heiress of fourteen thousand a-year. Harry would not have run away alone, but run away with the heiress, and changed his name from Flopjohn to De Vaudville, and reconciled himself with the father-in-law, and succeeded to the estate and the park, and become J. P., and D. L., and sheriff of the county, and put his son into the Guards, and got a baronetcy. I sighed, and felt in my pocket, and found only one pound four shillings and threepence threefarthings there. I had left without drawing my quarter's salary. But if light in purse, I was also light in conscience. I was treading the paths of virtue under the guidance of Tommy.
The next place where I found a tutorship was in the family of a well-to-do farmer, who had amassed sufficient money to think of bringing up his boys to be gentlemen.
I had considerable trouble with these urchins. They were wayward, undisciplined, and overflowing with animal spirits. Indeed I doubt much whether they had in them any other spirit than animal spirit. At least I never lit on the symptoms. They were very full of blood; their lips, and cheeks swollen, and looking ready to burst. They hated books, and loved and smelt of dogs. They had no power of concentrating their thoughts; I should have almost said they had not the faculty of think
ing. They were wholly destitute of the moral sense. I tried to appeal to their consciences-they had none; to the sense of dignity and decency imbued in man--they were without it. I did my best to humanize them, but found my labor thrown away. I did get them to learn rosa, rose, but that was only by threatening not to allow them to see a pig killed unless the first declension were repeated.
They made booby-traps for me. They sewed up the legs and sleeves of my pantaloons and coat. They made me apple-pie beds. They put the soap into the toe of my boot. They gummed together the pages of the grammar. They put gunpowder into the candle. They cut up hair very fine and strewed my night-dress with it. Lastly, they mimicked me. Their parents, so far from reprimanding them, laughed at these frolics, and regarded them as exhibitions of daring originality: I have always held that moral suasion is a far better vehicle of education than the cane; but I doubt whether moral suasion is of any avail where the moral sense is dormant or non-existent. I believe that, just as nature has provided the auditory sense with an organ, the ear, and the olfactory sense with an organ, the nose, and the sense of sight with an organ, the eye, so she has fashioned an organ for the reception of moral impressions, connected by a nerve with the brain. She has developed this organ into some prominence, no doubt to show how primary and important the moral sense is. She has withdrawn from it all arteries, and has invested it in a delicate network of highly sensitive nerves, to make it serve much as the drum to the ear. The waves of sound beat on this latter and resolve themselves into ideas in the brain; so precisely the pulsations of the cane on this other organ is rapidly transformed into a moral idea, and as such impresses itself on the mind.
I tried very hard to do my duty. tried to get these boys to study. I tried to lead them to look to higher things than pig-killing and rat-hunting. I tried to infuse into them a sense of honor. But I found in them none of the material of which the Tommies are made.
I was drawing my salary, and doing nothing for it. I had not got these boys to say horse instead of oss, or to use pocket-handkerchiefs instead of the back of their hands. At length the climax arrived. On the 5th of November these urchins made a Guy Fawkes, which was intended to bear, and did bear, a striking likeness to myself. It could hardly do other, as it was invested in my new suit of clothes, not yet paid for. What with the fireworks and the mud with which Guy was pelted, and the general rough usage it received, my best Sunday suit of clothes was utterly ruined. I told Mr. Clodd plainly that I would no longer teach such unruly cubs as his sons, and I left the situation. a man of honor I first paid the tailor for the spoilt suit, and then found myself with four shillings and threepence three-farthings in my pocket.
I received no thanks for my pains, no recognition that I had done my utmost. The blame was thrown on my head. did not understand the temperament of the boys; I made no allowances for their exuberant vitality; I was exacting, stiff, and ungenial. I felt that these wretched louts must come to bad ends; they were the raw clay out of which the villainous Harries are moulded. I have lived to see them grow up. My predictions have not been realized. They are now rough sporting young men, with good incomes, farming good estates, and farming them well; and the gallows to which I had consigned them does not seem destined to suspend them.
When I left Mr. Clodd's I reviewed my conduct; and then I felt that I had acted throughout in the conscientious spirit of Tommy. I had striven to do good to these wretches, and I had striven to do my duty, and to do it thoroughly. The result was my dismissal, with four / shillings and threepence three-farthings in my pocket. Now, had I been Harry, how different would have been my conduct, how different my situation! I would have winked at the boys' misconduct, excused their mischievous pranks, allowed them to shirk lessons, praised their gallant spirits to the father and mother, assured them that genius lurked behind all their exuberant play of spirit, allowed them to go on in their brutal pursuits unreproved, without an effort to
elevate them, have reported their sallies of wit to their parents; and I would have had my salary raised, my position in the house secured, and a future opened to me among the married yeomen's daughters who frequented the place.
On leaving Mr. Clodd's I was appointed master to the parochial school, which was managed by a board or committee, and supported by a voluntary rate. Some of the farmers on the board took my part against the Clodds, of whom they were envious; and so, out of spite to the Clodds, and because I could be secured cheap, gave me the vacant situation.
When offered the school, I hesitated about accepting it. It was not that my pride suffered; it was that I misdoubted my powers. My self-confidence had received a rude shock in the house of the Clodds. I had believed firmly hitherto in moral suasion, and had disapproved of corporal punishment. My views on this point were disturbed. You can make a racer run with a word of praise and a pat, but not a donkey. I had had to do with a well-bred youth-young De Vaudville-and had managed him with perfect success. I had tried the Clodds, and had failed. Should I succeed with children of a still lower class? My diffidence, and my strong Tommeian sense of honor, forced me to accept the mastership conditionally. My tenure of the post was to be terminable at the end of the quarter, without notice on either side. I felt that, should I fail, I would be unable to continue in the situation for three months more with justice to the children, the committee, and myself. I found the school in a neglected and utterly unsatisfactory condition. The pupil-teacher and the late master had played into each other's hands, giving each other half-holidays alternately on market-days, coming unpunctually in the mornings, and cutting the hours short in the afternoons, spending their time together gossiping in the classroom, leaving the classes under the charge of scholars. This I stopped. The result was, that I made an enemy of the pupil-teacher, and he went about among his friends and acquaintances making complaints, and stirring up a party against me.
I discovered that several of the children did more scratching than scribbling. Thereupon I laid in a supply of carbolic soap, at my own expense, and a fine-tooth comb, and began operations with vigor. What a storm this raised! The parents of the urchins I had combed and carbolized came to me, livid with fury, and dared me to touch their children's heads again. Those with the dirtiest brats were the most indignant. Never before had it been insinuated that their little ones were not so clean that you might have made a meal off them. Why were they to be combed and carbolized, while the sons and daughters of farmers were left unmolested? They were as good as others, and as clean as those who stuck themselves up to be their betters. Several children were withdrawn from the school because of my efforts to make their heads clean. Cleanliness, says the proverb, is next to godliness. At all events, if I might not make the children clean, I might make them godly, I thought. So I turned my attention in that direction.
I was pained to hear the ribald language used in the playground by the boys. Nor was the ribaldry confined to words. I caught some of the worst offenders, and gave them a solemn lecture before the entire school on the use of unseemly language, and the obligations they lay under of refraining their tongues from the use of words improper and profane. Several parents took this up. They complained to the board that I gave religious instruction out of the half-hour limited to such teaching by the rules hung up in the schoolroom, and I was rather sharply taken to task by the farmers for what I had done, as the school was strictly unsectarian in its teaching. So I was not allowed to make the pupils committed to me either cleanly or godly. I would try to teach them the strictly secular learning thoroughly.
I soon found that there was a rotten system of copy-book writing in vogue. Each child was required to make a copy of his best writing every week, and show it to the parents; but these copies were in reality done for them by the master, assisted by the pupil-teacher and monitors. I insisted on the children writing their own copies; whether bad or good,
the example of penmanship should be genuine. Soon after, I heard from members of the board that a general complaint had been made of the falling off in the writing of the scholars. It was evident that in this respect the standard of excellence was deteriorating, and it was conjectured that in other respects the pupils were likewise going back. I was requested to devote myself particularly to the improvement of the writing of the school.
It is well known that the scale of the Government grant to a school is determined to a large extent by attendances. I was therefore most scrupulous to mark these and the absences in accordance with fact. Indeed one or two of the board were detailed to call occasionally and check my entries. I found that my scrupulousness gave dissatisfaction. If a child attended half a day, I might surely stretch a point and make it a whole attendance. When the weather was bad, some allowance must be made for that, and the children not be deprived of a mark when it was practically impossible for them to attend; besides -and here lay the sting-I was adding a penny to the rates by my nicety in this matter, and was not considering either the pockets of the ratepayers or my own, as half the grant would be allowed to the master.
I now resolved to devote myself to the fulfilment of the educational department requisitions with all my earnestness. I soon found that to do so was to commit the greatest injustice of all, for I would force on the clever and neglect the stupid; I would cultivate the few at the expense of the many. I found, however, that this was likely to gratify the inspector and obtain the largest grant, and that the greater the wrong done to the bulk of the scholars, the greater the satisfaction given at Whitehall. I was too conscientious to do this, which would have gained me the approval of the inspector and the support of the board.
There was a poor old widow who lived near the school, half blind, nearly wholly deaf, crippled with rheumatism, living only on the parish half-crown and a loaf, and the sale of a few eggs and poultry she reared. She had nearly white hair; the cataract in her eyes
made them blear, and gave a vacant expression to her face. How the unfortunate creature managed to live through the winter was a wonder to me, as she was too poor to be able to afford fuel, and too blind to collect sticks. This unfortunate creature was the object of mockery to the ill-conditioned boys of the school, who played on her numerous practical jokes. At one time they stole her eggs and sucked them, at another they pelted and killed her goslings. They carried away her little winter store of firewood to make their Guy Fawkes bonfire. They pelted her with snowballs. One day they laid a noose on the ground before her, and when she unwittingly put her stick into the loop, they pulled it, tightened the noose about the staff and whipped it out of her hand, so that she fell on her face in the road, which was newly metalled. The aged woman was unable to rise without assistance, and then it was found that her forehead was cut and bleeding, and that she had broken her remaining teeth.
I discovered the authors of this wanton piece of wickedness, and gave them a good hiding. My blood boiled with indignation. There were five boys concerned in the matter-the same who had killed her goslings in the spring and had stolen her firewood in November. That settled matters.
The offence had been committed out of school hours and of out school bounds. I had no jurisdiction over the boys when they left the precincts of the school. I was summoned by all the parents of the boys I had chastised, and had to appear before the magistrates in the petty sessions. I was unable to obtain an advocate, being without the means of paying for one. The plaintiffs were ably represented by local solicitors. A harrowing picture was painted of my ferocity, and of the tortures to which I had subjected the boys. The condition of the parts of their person operated upon was described graphically, and very highly charged with color.
I defended myself to the best of my ability. The magistrates then pronounced sentence. The chairman said that the cases were proved against me; that there was no doubt I had exceeded my powers, and had acted with injudicious and intemperate violence.
laws of England were not framed for the protection of the weak and helpless. The old woman, if aggrieved, was able to prosecute those who had wronged her. (As if she was capable of doing so! As if in her blindness she could find out the culprits!) The laws of England did not encourage Quixotic interference in behalf of the old, infirm, and poor; they discouraged it in every way. There could be no doubt that I had acted in a manner wholly unjusifiable and illegal. The Bench, therefore, on mature deliberation, had resolved to fine me £2 for each assault, and costs; that amounted to £10, 75. 6d. I paid the money. I had that morning received my discharge from the school committee, and my salary for the quarter. I paid the fine, and found that I was left with 3d. in my pocket.
As I walked away, I reviewed my conduct. In all I had done, I had followed the dictates of conscience. I had tried to be honorable, truthful, and to do good. I had been a Tommy in that situation. Would Harry have tried to make the dirty children clean and the ribald children godly? Would he have eschewed tricks, savoring of dishonesty, towards parents and board? Would he have interfered to protect the old widow? Would he not rather have shut his eyes and passed by on the other side? I was sure of it; and I was sure also that he would have been a favorite with the parents, would have ingratiated himself into the good will of the committee, would have obtained a glowing report from the inspector, and a large grant from Whitehall. I was quite sure
also that he would never have been had up before the magistrates for the protection of the feeble and helpless, and would not have been dismissed his post with ignominy. No! he would never have taken the post with the stipulation that it should be on trial"; and if he had been required to leave it, would have walked away with a quarter's unearned salary in his pocket, and not, like me, with threepence three-farthings'
No! Harry, on resigning his sphere of usefulness, where he had discharged his duties with such exemplary faithfulness as to win the admiration of all," would have been presented with an electro-plate cruet-stand by the
rector, a timepiece by the committee, and half-a-dozen spoons and forks by the parents.
The only person who at all favored me was the rector, and only in a timid and vacillating manner. The rector was one of those typical parsons who either have no opinions of their own, or who, having opinions, have not the courage to stand by them. He was admirable at hedging. He never made a statement without hedging it; never offered an opinion without saddling it with a doubt; never tendered a suggestion without knocking away its legs. even ventured to address the school board in my favor. "He believed I was a high-principled and excellent young man, but rash and injudicious; that I always strove to do my duty, but mistook the direction in which it ran; that I must have learned experience by the past, but that it had been at the cost. of the school; that it would be hard to find another to take my place so painstaking and so conscientious, but that the attempt must be made," etc., etc., etc., pro and con so exactly balanced as to leave the matter exactly where he had found it.
The rector was about to publish two volumes of his sermons, and he asked of me to make clean copies of them for the press, as his own writing resembled the scrawl of a spider that had tumbled into an inkpot, and was drying his legs. on the paper. He undertook to pay me a shilling a sermon for my transcript. There were a hundred in all; that would bring me just five pounds.
Flushed with the prospect of making so much money, and gaining simultaneously so much spiritual profit, I set vigorously to work on the manuscript.
I soon found that it was impossible for me to transcribe the discourses verbatim. They were full of inanities, exaggerations, confusion of metaphors, non sequiturs, and grammatical errors. I made my copy I cut out the inanities, toned down the exaggerations, reduced the metaphors, supplied the deficiencies in the arguments, and corrected the grammar. After I had treated four of the sermons in this manner, I received a call from the rector. He looked flushed and moist. His voice and hand shook. His manner was abrupt. He told me