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Mrs. Owen came to see us, in our own rooms
(for we had not the same room this half-year).
We did not want to tell her anything, or to
seem to make a party. But she somehow found
out that I felt very lonely, and was very
unhappy. I am sure it was her doing that the
dear, considerate, wise Doctor was so kind to
me when I went into the school again,— being
very kind to Charley too. He asked me,
one afternoon, to go for a drive with him in his
gig. The reason he gave was, that his
business took him near the place where my father
and he used to go to school together; but I
believe it was more that we might have a
long talk, all by ourselves.

We talked a good deal about some of the
fine old heroes, and then about some of the
martyrs; and he said, what to be sure is true,
that it is an advantage for any one to know
clearly, from beginning to end, what his
heroism is to be about, that he may arm himself
with courage and patience, and be secure
against surprises. I began thinking of
myself; but I did not suppose he did, till it
came out by degrees. He thought that deafness
and blindness were harder to bear than almost
anything. He called them calamities. I
can't tell you all he said: he never meant
that I should: but he told me the very worst;
and he said that he did it on purpose. He
told me what a hopeless case he believed mine
to be, and what it would cut me off from;
but, he said that nothing of the sort could cut a
person off from being a hero, and here was the
way wide open for me: not for the fame of it,
but for the thing itself. I wondered that I
had never thought of all that before; but I
don't think I shall ever forget it.

Well! When we came back, there was
Charley loitering about,— looking for us,
clearly. He asked me whether we should be
friends. I was very willing, of course: and
it was still an hour to supper; so we went
and sat on the wall under the apple-tree, and
talked over everything. There, we found how
much we had both been mistaken, and that
we did not really hate one another at all.
Ever since that, I have liked him better than
ever I did before, and that is saying a great
deal. He never triumphs over me now; and
he tells me fifty things a-day that he never
used to think of. He says I used to look as
if I did not like to be spoken to; but that I
have chipped up wonderfully. And I know
that he has given up his credit and his pleasure,
many a time, to help me, and to stay by
me. He will not have that trouble at school
again, as I am not going back; but I know
how it will be at Charley's home, this time. I
know it, by his saying that Kate will never
laugh at me again. I believe she might, for
that matter. At least, I think I could stand
most people's laughing, now. Father and
mother, and everybody, know that the whole
thing is quite altered now, and that Charley
and I shall never quarrel again. I shall not
run away from that house again,— nor from
any other house. It is so much better to look
things in the face! How you all nod, and
agree with me!


ABOUT twenty years ago, I was articled
clerk in the small seaport town of Muddleborough,
half rural, half fishing, with a small
remains of once profitable smuggling, and a
few reminiscences of successful privateering, to
which one street and several public-houses
owed their foundation. The rector, the
banker, the lawyermy master, who had the
tin cases of half the county, in the dusty
dining-room that formed his officethe
doctor, and the owner of the two brigs and a
schooner which composed the mercantile navy,
were the acknowledged heads of our town.

It was a moot point whether the banker or
my master, the lawyer, were the greater man.
The banker, Isaac Scrawby, was supposed to
be of boundless wealth; it was before the
time of Joint-stock Banks, and there was not
a farmer or a fisherman who did not prefer
Scrawby's torn, dingy notes, to the newest
Bank of England. His paper was the stock
of canvas bags, and was hoarded away in old
women's worsted stockings; as was plainly
shown when he stopped payment in the first
crisis after Peel's Bill, and paid three shillings
in the pound. But then, Lawyer Closeleigh,
my master, besides being able to lend
everybody money, knew all the secrets of the
county, and had a hand in everything
except the births, which he left to the doctor.

There were three or four clerks who jogtrotted
through the business. Old Closeleigh
generally wore a green coat with gilt basket
buttons: breeches, and top-boots; seldom sat
down or took up a pen except to write a
letter to a great client; but held audiences
on market days, and gave advice, and took
instructions at coverside in the hunting

As a large premium had been paid with
me, of course I did nothing; an attempt was
made while I was yet green, by old Foumart,
the common law clerk, to induce me to
serve writs; but, that having failed, I was
left to take care of one of the rooms of the
deserted mansion which formed our offices,
and to entertain the clients who were shown
in to wait their turn.

Dulness and respectability were the charteristics
of our town. We had few poor, or
if we had, we never heard much about them.
The same people went through the same duties
and the same serious amusements, all the year
round. The commencement of the fishing
season, and the annual fair, were our only events.
There were no fortunes made or lost. Smuggling,
under the modern arrangements, had become
come too hazardous and low for respectable
people to venture on, although there were
strange stories afloat, as to the adventures of
the fathers of the present generation.