xt7k6d5p8x7n https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7k6d5p8x7n/data/mets.xml Wood, Henry, Mrs., 1814-1887. 1906  books b92-211-30910117 English J.M. Dent : E.P. Dutton, : London : New York : This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Channings  / by Mrs. Henry Wood. text Channings  / by Mrs. Henry Wood. 1906 2002 true xt7k6d5p8x7n section xt7k6d5p8x7n 








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IN TWO SL1YLES OF BINDING, CLOTH,
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 This page in the original text is blank.

 



















X1  





   SIR PHILIP DNEY

 



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CHANNINGS
6YMrsHENRY
WOOD (' r


IANDLL I NE   NEED

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  IEiHY L ffTHY
  mi SID

wLONDON PUBLISHEDt
IyJ'M DENT. e COa
AND IN NEYORJ
W YEP DUTTON rCOV

 




Viii                Editor's      Note
Yorke, 1869; George Canterbury's Will, 1870 (from "Tinsley's
Magazine"); Bessy Rane, 1870; Dene Hollow, 1871; Within the
Maze, 1872; The Master of Greylands, 1873; Told in the TIwilight,
1875; Bessy Wellcb, 1875; Adam Grainger, 1876: Our Children,
1876; Parkwater, 1876; Edina, 1876; Pomeroy Abbey, i878; Court
Netherleiglh, 188X; About Ourselves, 1883; Lady Grace, 1887
("Argosy"); The Story of Charles Strange, i888; The House of
Halliwell, 18go; Summer Stories from the "Argosy," 189o; The
Unholy Wish, 1890; Ashley, and other Stories, 1897.
The " Johnny Ludlow " stories appeared first in the " Argosy," and
were published in successive series in I874, i88o, x888, etc.


 







           THE CHANNINGS


                   CHAPTER I
                 THE INKED SURPLICE
 THE sweet bells of Helstonleigh Cathedral were ringing
 out in the summer's afternoon. Groups of people lined
the streets, more than the customary business of the day
would have brought forth; some pacing with idle steps,
some halting to talk with one another, some looking in
silence towards a certain point, as far as the eye could
reach; all waiting in expectation.
  It was the first day of Helstonleigh Assizes; that is,
the day on which the courts of law began their sittings.
Generally speaking, the commission was opened at
Helstonleigh on a Saturday; but for some convenience
in the arrangements of the circuit, it was fixed this
time for Wednesday; and when those cathedral bells
burst forth, they gave signal that the judges had
arrived and were entering the sheriff's carriage, which
had gone out to meet them.
  A fine sight, carrying in it much of majesty, was the
procession, as it passed through the streets with its
slow and stately steps; and although Helstonleigh saw
it twice a year, it looked at it with gratified eyes still,
and made the day into a sort of holiday.     The
trumpeters rode first, blowing the proud note of
advance; and the long line of well-mounted javelin
men came next, two abreast, their attire being that
of the livery of the high sheriff's family, and their jave-
lins held in rest. Sundry officials followed, and the
governor of the county gaol sat in an open carriage,
his long white wand raised in the air. Then appeared
the handsome, closed equipage of the sheriff, its four
horses, caparisoned with silver, pawingthe ground, for
they chafed at the slow pace to which they were re-
strained. In it, in their scarlet robes and flowing wigs,

 



The Channings



carrying awe to many a young spectator, sat the
judges; the high sheriff sat opposite to them, his
chaplain by his side, in his gown and bands.   A
crowd of gentlemen, friends of the sheriff, followed on
horseback; and a mob of ragamuffins brought up the
rear.
  To the assize courts the procession took its way,
and there the short business of opening the commission
was gone through, when the judges re-entered the
carriage to proceed to the cathedral, having been joined
by the mayor and corporation. The sweet bells of
Helstonleigh were still ringing out, not to welcome the
judges to the city now, but as an invitation to them
to come and worship God. Within the grand entrance
of the cathedral, waiting to receive the judges, stood
the Dean of Helstonleigh, two or three of the chapter,
two of the minor canons, and the king's scholars and
choristers, all in their white robes. The bells ceased;
the fine organ pealed out-and there are few finer
organs in England than that of Helstonleigh-the
vergers with their silver maces, and the decrepit old
bedesmen in their black gowns, led the way to the
choir, the long scarlet trains of the judges held up
behind: and places were found for all.
  The Rev. John Pye began the service; it was his
week for chanting. He was one of the senior minor
canons, and head-master of the college school. At the
desk opposite to him sat the Rev. William Yorke, a
young man who had only just gained his minor
canonry.
  The service went on smoothly until the commence-
ment of the anthem. In one sense it went on smoothly
to the end, for no person present, not even the judges
themselves, could see that anything was wrong. Mr.
Pye was what was called ' chanter ' to the cathedral,
which meant that it was he who had the privilege of
selecting the music for the chants and other portions
of the service, when the dean did not do so himself.
Now the anthem he had put up for this occasion was
a very good one, taken from the Psalms of David.
It commenced with a treble solo; it was, moreover, an
especial favourite of Mr. Pye's, and he disposed himself
complacently to listen.



2

 


The Inked Surplice



3



  But, no sooner was the symphony over, no sooner
had the first notes of the chorister sounded on Mr.
Pye's ear, than his face slightly flushed, and he lifted
his head with a sharp, quick gesture. That was not
the voice which ought to have sung this fine anthem;
that was a cracked, passee voice, belonging to the senior
chorister, a young gentleman of seventeen, who was
going out of the choir at Michaelmas. He had done good
service for the choir in his day, but his voice was break-
ing now; and the last time he had attempted a solo,
the bishop (who interfered most rarely with the execu-
tive of the cathedral; and, indeed, it was not his
province to do so) had spoken himself to Mr. Pye on
the conclusion of the service, and said the boy ought
not to be allowed to sing alone again.
  Mr. Pye bent his head forward to catch a glimpse
of the choristers, five of whom sat on his side of the
choir, the decani: five on the opposite, or cantori side.
So far as he could see, the boy, Stephen Bywater, who
ought to have taken the anthem, was not in his place.
There appeared to be only four of them; but the
senior bov with his clean, starched-out surplice, par-
tiallv hid those below him. Mr. PNve wondered where
his eves could have been, not to have noticed the bov's
absence, when they had all been gathered round the
entrance, waiting for the judges.
  Had Mr. Pye's attention not been fully engrossed
with his book, as the service had gone on, he might
have seen the boy opposite to him; for there sat
Bywater, before the bench of king's scholars, and
right in front of Mr. Pye. Mr. Pye's glance fell upon
him now, and he could scarcely believe it. He rubbed
his eyes, and looked, and rubbed again.  Bywvater
there ! and without his surplice ! braving, as it were,
the head-master ! What could he possibly mean by
this act of insubordination Why was he not in his
place in the school WNhy was he mixing with the con-
gregation  But Mr. Pye could as yet obtain no solution
to the mystery.
  The anthem came to an end; the dean had bent his
brow sternly at the solo, but it did no good; and, the
pravers over, the sheriff's chaplain ascended to the
pulpit to preach the sermon. He selected his text from

 


4



The Channings



St. John's Gospel: " That which is born of the flesh
is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
In the course of his sermon he pointed out that the
unhappy prisoners in the gaol, awaiting the summons
to answer before an earthly tribunal for the evil deeds
they had committed, had been led into their present
miserable condition by the seductions of the flesh.
They had fallen into sin, he went on, by the indulgence
of their passions; they had placed no restraint upon
their animal appetites and guilty pleasures; they had
sunk gradually into crime, and had now to meet the
penalty of the law. But did no blame, he asked, attach
to those who had remained indifferent to their down-
ward course; who had never stretched forth a friendly
hand to rescue them from destruction; who had made
no effort to teach and guide in the ways of truth and
righteousness these outcasts of society were we, he
demanded, at liberty to evade our responsibility by
asking in the words of earth's first criminal, " Am I
my brother's keeper"  No; it was at once our duty
and our privilege to engage in the noble work of man's
reformation-to raise the fallen, to seek out the lost,
and to restore the outcast; and this, he argued, could
only be accomplished by a widely-disseminated know-
ledge of God's truth, by patient, self-denying labour
in God's work, and by a devout dependence on God's
Holy Spirit.
  At the conclusion of the service the head-master
proceeded to the vestry, where the minor canons,
choristers, and lay-clerks kept their surplices. Not the
dean and chapter; they robed in the chapter-house:
and the king's scholars put on their surplices in the
school-room. The choristers followed Mr. Pye to the
vestry, Bywater entering  with them.  The boys
grouped themselves together: they were expecting-
to use their own expression-a row.
  " Bywater, what is the meaning of this conduct"
was the master's stern demand.
  " I had no surplice, sir," was Bywater's answer-
a saucy-looking boy with a red face, who had a pro
pensity for getting into ' rows,' and, consequently,
into punishment.
  " No surplice !" repeated Mr. Pye-for the like

 

             The Inked      Surplice             5
excuse had never been offered by a college boy before.
What do you mean"
  " We were ordered to wear clean surplices this
afternoon. I brought mine to college this morning;
I left it here in the vestry, and took the dirty one
home. Well, sir, when I came to put it on this after-
noon, it was gone."
  " How could it have gone  Nonsense, sir ! Who
would touch your surplice"
  " But I could not find it, sir," repeated Bywater.
"The choristers know I couldn't; and they left me
hunting for it when they went into the hall to receive
the judges. I could not go into my stall, sir, and sing
the anthem without my surplice."
  " Hurst had no business to sing it," was the vexed
rejoinder of the master. " You know your voice is
gone, Hurst. You should have gone up to the organist,
stated the case, and had another anthem put up."
  " But, sir, I was expecting Bywater in every minute.
I thought he'd be sure to find his surplice somewhere,"
was Hurst's defence. " And when he did not come,
and it grew too late to do anything, I thought it better
to take the anthem myself than to give it to a junior,
who would be safe to have made a mull of it. Better
for the judges and other strangers to hear a faded
voice in Helstonleigh Cathedral, than to hear bad
singing. "
  The master did not speak. So far, Hurst's argu-
ment had reason in it.
  " And-I beg your pardon for what I am about to
say, sir," Hurst went on: " but I hope you will allow
me to assure you beforehand, that neither I, nor my
juniors under me, have had a hand in this affair.
Bywater has just told me that the surplice is found.
and how; and blame is sure to be cast to us; but I
declare that not one of us has been in the mischief."
  Mr. Pye opened his eyes.    " What now" he
asked. " What is the mischief"
  " I found the surplice afterwards, sir," Bywater said.
  This is it.'"
  He spoke meaningly, as if preparing them for a sur-
prise, and pointed to a corner of the vestry. There
lay a clean, but tumbled surplice, half soaked in ink.

 

6



The Channings



the head-master and Mr. Yorke, lay-clerks and
choristers, all gathered round, and stared in amaze-
ment.
  " They shall pay me the worth of the surplice,"
spoke Bywater, an angry shade crossing his usually
good-tempered face.
  " And have a double flogging into the bargain,"
exclaimed the master. " Who has done this"
   ' It looks as though it had been rabbled up for the
purpose," cried Hurst, in schoolboy phraseology, bend-
ing down and touching it gingerly with his finger.
"The ink has been poured on it."
  " Where did you find it" sharply demanded the
master-not that he was angry with the boys before
him, but he felt angry that the thing should have
taken place.
  " I found it behind the screen, sir," replied Bywater.
  I thought I'd look there, as a last resource, and
there it was. I should think nobody has been behind
that screen for a twelvemonth past, for it's over ankles
in dust there."
  " And you know nothing of it, Hurst"
  " Nothing whatever, sir," was the reply of the senior
chorister, spoken earnestly. " When Bywater whis-
pered to me what had occurred, I set it down as the
work of one of the choristers, and I taxed them with
it. But they all denied it strenuously, and I believe
they spoke the truth. I put them on their honour. "
  The head-master peered at the choristers. Innocence
was in every face-not guilt; and he, with Hurst, be-
lieved he must look elsewhere for the culprit. That
it had been done by a college boy, there could be no
doubt whatever; either out of spite to Bywater, or from
pure love of mischief. The king's scholars had no busi-
ness in the vestry; but just at this period the cathedral
was undergoing repairs, and they could get in if so
minded, at any time of the day, the doors being left
open for the convenience of the workmen.
  The master turned out of the vestry. The cathedral
was emptied of its crowd, leaving nothing but the dust
to tell of what had been, and the bells once more went
pealing forth over the city. Mr. Pye crossed the nave,
and quitted the cathedral by the cloister door, followed

 

The Inked Surplice



7



by the choristers. The school-room, once the large
refectory of the monks in monkish days, was on the
opposite side of the cloisters; a large, large room,
which you gained by steps, and whose high windows
were many feet from the ground. Could you have
climbed to those windows and looked from them, you
would have beheld a fair scene. A clear river wound
under the cathedral walls; beyond its green banks
were greener meadows, stretching out in the dis-
tance; far-famed hills, beautiful to look at, bounded
the horizon.  Close by were the prebendal houses:
some built of red stone, some covered with ivy,
all venerable with age; pleasant gardens surrounded
most of them, and dark old elms towered aloft,
sheltering the rooks, which seemed as old as the trees.
  The king's scholars were in the school-room, cram-
ming their surplices into bags, or preparing to walk
home with them thrown upon their arms, and making
enough hubbub to alarm the rooks. It dropped to a
dead calm at sight of the master. On holidays-and
this was one-it was not usual for the masters to
enter the school after service. The school was founded
by royal charter-its number limited to forty boys,
who were called king's scholars, ten of whom, those
whose voices were the best, were chosen choristers.
The master marched to his desk, and made a sign
for the boys to approach, addressing himself to the
senior boy.
  " Gaunt, some mischief has been done in the vestry,
touching Bywater's surplice. Do you know anything
of it"
  " No, sir," was the prompt answer. And Gaunt
was one who scorned to tell a lie.
  The master ranged his eyes round the circle. " Who
does"
  There was no reply. The boys looked at one another,
a sort of stolid surprise for the most part predominat-
ing. Mr. Pye resumed:-
  " Bywater tells me that he left his clean surplice in
the vestry this morning. This afternoon it was found
thrown behind the screen, tumbled together, beyond
all doubt purposely, and partially covered with ink. I
ask, who has done this"

 

8



The Channings



  " I have not, sir," burst forth from most of the boys
simultaneously.  The seniors, of whom there were
three besides Gaunt, remained silent; but this was
nothing unusual, for the seniors, unless expressly
questioned or taxed with a fault, did not accustom
themselves to a voluntary denial.
  " I can only think this has been the result of acci-
dent," continued the head-master. " It is incredible
to suppose any one of you would wantonly destroy a
surplice. If so, let that boy, whoever he may have
been, speak up honourably, and I will forgive him. I
conclude that the ink must have been spilt upon it,
I say accidentally, and that he then, in his consterna-
tion, tumbled the surplice together, and threw it out
of sight behind the screen. It had been more straight-
forward, more in accordance with what I wish you
all to be-boys of thorough truth and honour-had he
candidly confessed it. But the fear of the moment may
have frightened his better judgment away. Let him
acknowledge it now, and I will forgive him; though of
course he must pay Bywater for another surplice."
  A dead silence.
  " Do you hear, boys" the master sternly asked.
  No answer from any one; nothing but the continued
silence. The master rose, and his countenance assumed
its most severe expression.
  " Hear further, boys. That it is one of you, I am
convinced; and your refusing to speak compels me to
fear that it was not an accident, but a premeditated,
wicked act. I now warn you, whoever did it, that if
I can discover the author or authors, he or they shall
he punished with the utmost severity, short of expul-
sion, that is allowed by the rules of the school. Seniors,
I call for your aid in this. Look to it."
  The master left the school-room, and Babel broke
loose-questioning, denying, protesting, one of another.
Bywater was surrounded.
    X" on't there be a stunning flogging  Bywater,
who did it Do you know"
  Bywater sat himself astride over the end of a bench,
and nodded. The senior bov turned to him, some slight
surprise in his look and tone.
  " Do you know, Bywater"

 

The Inked Surplice



9



  " Pretty well, Gaunt. There are two fellows in this
school, one's at your desk, one's at the second desk,
and I believe they'd either of them do me a nasty turn
if they could. It was one of them. "
  " Who d'ye mean" asked Gaunt eagerly.
  Bywater laughed.   "Thank you. If I tell now,
it may defeat the ends of justice, as the newspapers
say. I'll wait till I am sure-and then, let him look
to himself. I won't spare him, and I don't fancy
Pye will."
  " You'll never find out, if you don't find out at once,
Bywater," cried Hurst.
  " Shan't I You'll see," was the significant answer.
"It's some distance from here to the vestry of the
cathedral, and a fellow could scarcely steal there and
steal back without being seen by somebody. It was
done stealthily, mark you; and when folks go on
stealthy errands they are safe to be met."
  Before he had finished speaking, a gentlemanly-
looking boy of about twelve, with delicate features,
a damask flush on his face, and wavy auburn hair,
sprang up with a start. "Why I" he exclaimed, "I
saw " And there he came to a sudden halt, and the
flush on his cheek grew deeper, and then faded again.
It was a face of exceeding beauty, refined almost as
a girl's, and it had gained for him in the school the
sobriquet of ' Miss.'
  " What's the matter with you, Miss Charley"
  "Oh, nothing, Bywater."
  " Charley Channing," exclaimed Gaunt, " do you
know who did it"
  " If I did, Gaunt, I should not tell," was the fear-
less answer.
  " Do you know, Charley" cried Tom Channing,
who was one of the seniors of the school.
  " Where's the good of asking that wretched little
muff" burst forth Gerald Yorke. " He's only a
girl. How do you know it was not one of the lay-
clerks, Bywater  They carry ink in their pockets,
I'll lay. Or any of the masons might have gone into
the -vestry, for the matter of that."
  " It wasn't a lay-clerk, and it wasn't a mason,"
stoically nodded Bywater.  " It was a college boy.
                                          13

 


IO



The Channings



And I shall lay my finger upon him as soon as I am
a little bit surer than I am. I am three parts sure
now. "
  " If Charley Channing does not suspect somebody,
I'm not here, " exclaimed Hurst, who had closely
watched the movement alluded to; and he brought
his hand down fiercely on the desk as he spoke.
" Come, Miss Channing, just shell out what you know;
it's a shame the choristers should lie under such a
ban: and of course we shall do so, with LPye. "
  " You be quiet, Hurst, and let Miss Charley alone,"
drawled Bywater. " I don't want him, or anybody
else, to get pummelled to powder; I'll find it out for
myself, I say. Won't my old aunt be in a way
though, when she sees the surplice, and finds she has
another to make! I say, Hurst, didn't you croak out
that solo ! Their lordships in the wigs will be soliciting
your photograph as a keepsake."
  " I hope they'll set it in diamonds," retorted Hurst.
  The boys began to file out, putting on their trenchers,
as they clattered down the steps. Charley Channing
sat himself down in the cloisters on a pile of books,
as if willing that the rest should pass out before him.
His brother saw him sitting there, and came up to
him, speaking in an undertone.
  " Charley, you know the rules of the school: one
boy must not tell of another. As Bywater says, you'd
get pummelled to powder."
  " Look here, Tom. I tell you-"
  " Hold your tongue, boy !" sharply cried Tom Chan-
ning. " Do you forget that I am a senior You heard
the master's words. We know no brothers in school
life, you must remember."
  Charley laughed. " Tom, you think I am a child.
I believe. I didn't enter the school yesterday. All I
was going to tell you was this: I don't know, any
more than you, who inked the surplice; and suspicion
goes for nothing."
  " All right," said Tom Channing, as he flew after
the rest; and Charley sat on, and fell into a reverie.
  The senior boy of the school, you have heard, was
Gaunt. The other three seniors, Tom Channing, Harry
Huntley, and Gerald Yorke, possessed a considerable

 

             The Inked       Surplice             II
amount of power; but nothing equal to that vested
in Gaunt. '[hey had all three entered the school on
the same day, and had kept pace with each other as
they worked their way up in it, consequently not one
could be said to hold priority; and when Gaunt should
quit the school at the following Michaelmas, one of the
three would become senior. Which you may wish to
ask. Ah, we don't know that, yet.
  Charley Channing-a truthful, good boy, full of
integrity, kind and loving by nature, and a universal
favourite-sat tilted on the books. He was wishing
with all his heart that he had not seen something
which he had seen that day.   He had been going
through the cloisters in the afternoon, about the time
that all Helstonleigh, college boys included, were in
the streets watching for the sheriff's procession, when
he saw one of the seniors steal (Bywater had been
happy in the epithet) out of the cathedral into the quiet
cloisters, peer about him, and then throw a broken
ink-bottle into the graveyard which the cloisters in-
closed.  The boy stole away    without perceiving
Charley; and there sat Charley now, trying to persuade
himself by some ingenious sophistry-which, however,
he knew was sophistry-that the senior might not have
been the one in the mischief; that the ink-bottle might
have been on legitimate duty, and that he threw it
from him because it was broken. Charles Channing
did not like these unpleasant secrets. There was in
the school a code of honour-the boys called it so-
that one should not tell of another; and if the head-
master ever wvent the length of calling the seniors
to his aid, those seniors deemed themselves compelled
to declare it, if the fault became known to them. Hence
Tom Channing's hasty arrest of his brother's words.
  " I wonder if I could see the ink-bottle there"
quoth Charles to himself. Rising from the books he
ran through the cloisters to a certain part, and there,
by a dexterous spring, perched himself on to the frame
of the open mullioned windows. The gravestones lay
pretty thick in the square, inclosed yard, the long,
dank grass growing around them; but there appeared
to be no trace of an ink-bottle.
  "XWhat on earth are you mounted up there for

 


12



The Channings



Come down instantly. You know the row there has
been about the walls getting defaced."
  The speaker was Gerald Yorke, who had come up
silently. Openly disobey him, young Channing dared
not, for the seniors exacted obedience in school and
out of it. " I'll get down directly, sir. I am not
hurting the wall."
  " What are you looking at What is there to see"
demanded Yorke.
  " Nothing particular. I was looking for what I
can't see," pointedly returned Charley.
  " Look here, Miss Channing; I don't quite under-
stand you to-day. You were excessively mysterious in
school, just now, over that surplice affair. Who's to
know you were not in the mess yourself"
  "I think you might know it," returned Charley, as
he jumped down. " It was more likely to have been you
than I."
  Yorke laid hold of him, clutching his jacket with a
firm grasp. " You insolent ape on two legs! Now!
what do you mean You don't stir from here till you
tell me."
  " I'll tell you, Mr. Yorke; I'd rather tell," cried the
boy, sinking his voice to a whisper. " I was here when
you came peeping out of the college doors this after-
noon, and I saw you come up to this niche, and fling
away an ink-bottle."
  Yorke's face flushed scarlet. He was a tall, strong
fellow, with a pale complexion, thick, projecting lips,
and black hair, promising fair to make a Hercules-but
all the Yorkes were finely framed. He gave young
Channing a taste of his strength; the boy, when shaken,
was in his hands as a very reed. " You miserable imp!
Do you know who is said to be the father of lies"
  " Let me alone, sir. It's no lie, and you know it's
not. But I promise you on my honour that I won't
split. I'll keep it in close; always, if I can. The worst
of me is, I bring things out sometimes without
thought," he added ingenuously. " I know I do; but
I'll try and keep in this. You needn't be in a passion,
Yorke; I couldn't help seeing what I did. It wasn't
my fault. "
  Yorke's face had grown purple with anger. " Charles


 

Bad News



'3



Channing, if you don't unsay what you have said, I'll
beat you to within an inch of your life."
    I can't unsay it," was the answer.
  "You can't !" reiterated Yorke, grasping him as a
hawk would a pigeon. " How dare you brave me to
my presence Unsay the lie you have told."
  " I am in God's presence, Yorke, as well as in
yours," cried the boy reverently; "'and I will not tell
a lie."
  " Then take your whacking! I'll teach you what it
is to invent fabrications ! I'll put you up for-"
  Yorke's tongue and hands stopped. Turning out of
the private cloister-entrance of the deanery, right upon
them, had come Dr. Gardner, one of the prebendaries.
He cast a displeased glance at Yorke, not speaking;
and little Channing, touching his trencher to the doc-
tor, flew to the place where he had left his books, caught
them up, and ran out of the cloisters towards home.



                   CHAPTER II
                     BAD NEWS
  THE ground near the cathedral, occupied by the
deanery and the prebendal residences, was called the
'Boundaries.' There were a few other houses in it,
mostly of a moderate size, inhabited by private families.
Across the open gravel promenade, in front of the
south cloister entrance, was the house appropriated to
the head-master; and the Channings lived in a smaller
one, nearly on the confines of the Boundaries.  A
portico led into it, and there was a sitting-room on
either side the hall. Charley entered; and was going,
full dash, across the hall to a small room where the
boys studied, singing at the top of his voice, when the
old servant of the family, Judith, an antiquated body,
in a snow-white mob-cap and check apron, met him
and seized his arm.
  " Hush, child! There's ill news in the house."
  Charley dropped his voice to an awe-struck whisper.
"What is it, Judith  Is papa worse"
  "Child ! there's illness of mind as well as of body.
                                           B 2

 


The Channings



14



I didn't say sickness; I said ill news. I don't rightly
understand it; the mistress said a word to me, and I
guessed the rest. And it was me that took in the letter!
Me! I wish I had put it in my kitchen fire first !"
  " Is it-Judith, is it news of the-the cause Is it
over  "
  " It's over, as I gathered. 'Twas a London letter,
and it came by the afternoon post. All the poor master's
hopes and dependencies for years have been wrested
from him. And if they'd give me my way, I'd prosecute
them postmen for bringing such ill luck to a body's
door. "
  Charles stood, something like a statue, the bright,
sensitive colour deserting his cheek.  One of those
causes, Might versus Right, of which there are so many
in the world, had been pending in the Channing family
for years and years. It involved a considerable amount
of money, which ought, long ago, to have passed peace-
ably to Mr. Channing; but Might was against him,
and Might threw it into Chancery. The decision of the
Vice-Chancellor had been given for Mr. Channing, upon
which Might, in his overbearing power, carried it to a
higher tribunal. Possibly the final decision, from which
there could be no appeal, had now come.
  " Judith," Charles asked, after a pause, " did you
hear whether-whether the letter-I mean the news-
had anything to do with the Lord Chancellor"
  " Oh, bother the Lord Chancellor !" was Judith's
response.  " It had to do with somebody that's an
enemy to your poor papa. I know that much. Who's
this"
  The hall door had opened, and Judith and Charles
turned towards it. A gay, brizht-featured young man
of three-and-twenty entered, tall and handsome, as it
was in the nature of the Channings to be. He was the
eldest son of the family, Tames; or, as he was invari-
ably styled, Hamish.  He rose six foot two in his
stockings, was well made, and upright. In grace and
strength of frame the Yorkes and the Channings stood
Ai in Helstonleigh.
  " Now, then ! what are you two concocting Is he
coming over you again to let him make more toffy.
Judy, and burn out the bottom of another saucepan"

 


                   Bad News                     15
    Hlamish, Judy says there's bad news come in by
the London post. I am afraid the Lord Chancellor has
given judgment-given it against us."
  The careless smile, the half-mocking expression left
the lips of Hamish. He glanced from Judith to Charles,
from Charles to Judith. " Is it sure" he breathed.
  " It's sure that it's awful news of some sort," re-
turned Judith; " and the mistress said to me that all
was over now. They be all in there, but you two, "
pointing with her finger to the parlour on the left of the
hall; "and you had better go in to them.  Master
Hamish     "
  " Well" returned Hamish, in a tone of abstraction.
  " You must every one of you just make the best of
it, and comfort the poor master. You be young and
strong; while he-you know what lie is.   You in
special, Master Hamish, for you're the eldest born, and
were the first of 'em as ever I nursed upon my knee."
  " Of course-of course," he hastily replied. " But,
oh, Judith ! you don't know half the ill this must bring
upon us ! Come along, Charley; let us hear the worst."
  Laying his arm with an affectionate gesture round the
boy's neck, Hamish drew him towards the parlour. It
was a square, light, cheerful room. Not the best room:
that was on the other side of the hall. On a sofa, under-
neath the window, reclined Mr. Channing, his hea