Orville College A Story
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MRS. HENRY WOOD,
AUTHOR OF "EAST LYNNE," "THE CHANNINGS," ETC.
The Right of Translation is reserved.
|I.||In the Plantation.|
|II.||The New Boy.|
|III.||Hard and Obstinate as Nails.|
|IV.||Sir Simon Orville's Offered Reward.|
|V.||Mother Butter's Lodgings.|
|VI.||Mr. Gall abroad.|
|VII.||Mr. Lamb improves his Mind in Private.|
|X.||A Man in a Blaze.|
|XI.||Only the Heat!|
|XII.||In the Shop in Oxford Street.|
|XIII.||If the Boys had but seen!|
|XIV.||Over the Water.|
|XVII.||Mr. Leek in Convulsions.|
|XVIII.||Told at Last.|
|XIX.||A Visitor for Sir Simon.|
|XX.||As if Ill Luck followed him.|
|XXII.||Before the Examiners.|
|XXIII.||Falling from a Pinnacle.|
|XXIV.||In the Quadrangle.|
In the Plantation.
The glowing sunset of a September evening was shining on the fairgrounds around Orville College, lighting up the scene of stir andbustle invariably presented on the return of the boys to their studiesafter the periodical holidays. A large, comfortable-looking, and veryirregular building was this college. But a moderate-sized houseoriginally, it had been added to here, and enlarged there, and raisedyonder, at different times as necessity required, and with regard toconvenience only, not to uniformity of architecture. The whole was ofred brick, save the little chapel jutting out at one end; that wasof white brick, with black divisional strokes, as if the architect hada mind to make some distinction by way of reverence. The Head Master'shouse faced the lawn and the wide gravel carriage-drive that encircledit; the school apartments, ending in the chapel, were built on thehouse's left; the sleeping-rooms and domestic offices were on itsright. It was only a private college--in fact, a school--founded manyyears ago by a Dr. Orville, and called after him; but it graduallybecame renowned in the world, and was now of the very first order ofprivate colleges.
Situated near London, in the large and unoccupied tracts of land lyingbetween the north and the west districts, when the college was firsterected, nothing could be seen near it but green fields. It was in adegree isolated still, but time had wrought its natural changes; a fewgentlemen's houses had grown up around, and a colony of small shopscame with them. The latest improvement, or innovation, whichever youlike to call it, had been a little brick railway station, and therushing, thundering trains, which seemed to be always passing, wouldoccasionally condescend to halt, and pick up or set down the Orvilletravellers. In want of a name, when the houses spoken of began tospring up, it had called itself Orville Green--which was as good aname for the little suburb as any other.
Dr. Brabazon, the head master, stood at the door to receive his comingguests. It had been more consistent possibly with the reserve anddignity of a head master, to have ensconced himself in a state-chairwithin the walls of his drawing-room or library, and given the boys agracious bow as each introduced himself. Not so the doctor. He was themost simple-mannered man in the world--as these large-hearted andlarge-minded men are apt to be,--and he stood at the hall door, orwent to it perpetually, with a hearty smile and outstretched hands foreach fresh arrival. A portly, genial man he, of near sixty years, withan upright line of secret care on his brow that sat ill upon it, as ifit had no business there.
The boys on this occasion came up, as was usual, to the front, ordoctor's entrance; not to their own entrance near the chapel. Thenumber of students altogether did not exceed a hundred. About forty ofthese were resident at the head master's; the rest--or nearly therest--were accommodated at the houses of other of the masters, and avery few--eight or ten at the most--attended as outdoor pupils, theirfriends living near. No difference whatever was made in the education,but these last were somewhat looked down upon by the rest of the boys.They arrived variously; some driven from town in their fathers'handsome carriages, some in cabs, some used the new rail and walkedfrom thence, some had come by omnibus. Dr. Brabazon received allalike, with the same genial smile, the same cordial grasp of the hand.He liked all to make their appearance on the eve of school, that theroll might be written and called: the actual business beginning on themorrow.
A pair of beautiful long-tailed ponies, drawing a low four-wheeledopen carriage, came round the gravel sweep with a quiet dash. Thedriver was a well-grown youth, who had entered his eighteenth year. Hehad high, prominent features of an aquiline cast, and large sleepyblue eyes: a handsome face, certainly, but spoilt by its look ofpride. His attention during his short drive--for they had not comefar--had been absorbed by his ponies and by his own self-importance ashe drove them. It was one of the senior boys, Albert Loftus. By hisside sat another of the seniors, a cousin, Raymond Trace, aquiet-looking youth of no particular complexion, and his light eyesrather sunk in his head; eyes that he had a habit of screwing togetherwhen at his studies. He had been reading a book all the way, neveronce looking up at his cousin, or the road, or the ponies, andanswering in civil monosyllables when spoken to. Behind sat anothercollege boy, younger, Master Dick Loftus. Master Dick possessed verylittle pride indeed, and was a contrast to his brother. He had amusedhimself, coming along, with a pea-shooter, and hung out a flagbehind--all to the happy ignorance of the driver and Mr. Trace. Agroom in plain livery, nearly bursting with suppressed laughter, madethe fourth in the pretty carriage.
"Well, Loftus, I'm very glad to see you: you're rather late, though,considering you are so close," was the doctor's greeting. "How areyou, Trace? Dick, you rebel, I hope we shall have no trouble thisterm."
The doctor laughed as he said it. Dick, a red-faced good-humoured boy,met the hand and laugh readily. He knew he was a favourite, with allhis faults.
"Sir Simon's compliments to you, sir, and he will do himself thepleasure of calling shortly," said Mr. Loftus. "Dick, take thosethings away."
Mr. Loftus had slightly altered the phraseology of the message: "Myrespects to Dr. Brabazon, and I'll give him a look in soon," was theone sent. The groom had been depositing a few things on the ground,and Dick was loading himself, when a close carriage drove in. A ladysat inside it in solitary state, and a young gentleman sat on the roofbackwards.
"Halloa! It's Onions!"
The remark came from Mr. Dick Loftus. He dropped the things summarily,went out, and began a dance in honour of the new arrival. Loftus theelder seized on a square parcel done up in brown paper, anddisappeared, leaving the other things to their fate. "Onions" got downby the chariot wheel, and shook hands with Dick.
They called him Onions as a sort of parody on his name, "Leek." Thecollege was in the habit of bestowing these nicknames. Joseph Leek, atany rate, did not mind it, whatever others, thus distinguished, mightdo; he would as soon be called Onions as Leek, at any time. Nothingupset his temper or his equanimity. He was one of the coolest boysthat ever entered a school, and was a universal favourite. His father,General Leek, was in India; his mother, Lady Sophia, whom Dr. Brabazonwas now assisting from the carriage, was an invalid in the matter ofnerves, and always thankful to get her son to school again the firstday of term.
The pony carriage drove off; Lady Sophia Leek's carriage was not longin following; other carriages, and cabs, and flies came up and went;and there was a lull in the arrivals. Dr. Brabazon was standing at hisdrawing-room window (a light pretty room on the right of the hall) andwas trying to call to mind how many were still absent, when he sawsome one else approaching, a small black travelling-bag in one hand,and dressed from head to foot in a suit of grey.
"Who's this?" cried he to himself. "It looks too tall for Gall."
Too tall certainly for Mr. Gall, who, though the senior boy of thecollege, was undersized. And too old also. This gentleman looked twoor three-and-twenty; a slender man of middle height, with pale,delicate features, and a sad sort of look in his pleasant dark eyes.
"It must be the new German master," thought Dr. Brabazon: and hehurried out to meet him.
The new German master it was, Mr. Henry. There was a peculiar kind oftimid reticence in his manner which seemed foreign to himself, for hisface was a candid, open face, his voice frank. Dr. Brabazon put itdown to the natural shyness of one who has resided abroad. Mr. Henry,of English birth, had been chiefly educated in Germany. He spokeGerman as a native, French also: for some few years he had been aprofessor at the University of Heidelberg, and had come thence now,strongly recommended to Dr. Brabazon.
"I am very glad to see you," said the doctor, taking his hand in hissimple, cordial manner. "Welcome to England! I have been expecting yousince the morning."
"We had a bad passage, sir; the boat was late by many hours. It wasdue at ten this morning, but we only got in an hour or two ago."
The words were spoken without any foreign accent. Not only that: thetone was that of a refined Englishman. The fact gave satisfaction toDr. Brabazon, who liked his pupils to be surrounded by goodassociations in all ways.
"Will you kindly tell me where I am to lodge?"
"Here, for a few days," said Dr. Brabazon. "As you were so complete astranger, we thought you might like best to fix, yourself, uponlodgings. It is some years since you were in England, I think?"
"Nine years, sir."
"Nine years! Dear me! You have not many friends, then, I conclude, inyour own country?"
Mr. Henry shook his head. "Few men are much more friendless than Iam."
And the accent sounded friendless. There was something singularlyattractive about this young man, in his gentle manner, his sensitive,shrinking shyness (for so it seemed), his sad, earnest brown eyes: andDr. Brabazon's heart went out to him.
"You shall be shown your room, Mr. Henry," he said, "and then mydaughter will give you some tea."
Later, Dr. Brabazon took him through the passages, on either side ofwhich were rooms appropriated to particular studies, to the loftyhall, which was the chief schoolroom. A long room, with high windowson one side of it; the masters' desks in the angles of the room, andthe long desks of the boys ranged against the sides. Dr. Brabazon'splace was at the upper end, in the centre, facing the door, so that hecommanded full view of all. Three masters lived in the house: theReverend Mr. Jebb; Mr. Baker, the mathematical master, and Mr. Long,who took English generally, some of the natural sciences, and wassupposed to superintend the boys out of hours. Mr. Jebb assisted Dr.Brabazon with the classics, and the latter took divinity. The othermasters lived out. Dr. Brabazon introduced Mr. Henry to the clergymanand Mr. Long, and left him. Mr. Baker was not there.
The boys were renewing private friendships, telling tales of theirholidays, hatching mischief for the coming term, criticising a fewnew-comers, and making a continuous hum. Their ages varied from ten toeighteen. On the whole, they seemed a rather superior set; for onething, the terms were high, and that tended to keep the school select.
A sudden "Hiss-is-s," from the lips of Master Richard Loftus--or, ashe was called in the school, Loftus minor--suppressed almost before itwas heard, caused the group, of whom he was the centre, to look round.
"What is it, Dick?"
"Don't you see?" whispered Dick. "A nice amount of brass he musthave, to show himself here again! Look at him, Onions; he looks moreof a sneak than ever."
Onions lifted his eyebrows in his cool, but not ill-natured manner, ashe surveyed the boy coming in. It was Edwin Lamb. His hair was of aglowing red, and his eyes had a kind of look as if they were not quitestraight. Not for that did