Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Magnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) online

. (page 15 of 18)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

" I knew you would say so, but the Colonel cannot
enter into his wish to have more physical science and
less classics, and will not hear of his going to Germany,
which is what he wishes, though I am sure he is too

" He ought not to go there till his character is much
more formed."

*' What do you think of his going on here ^ "

" That's a temptation I ought to resist. He will
soon have out-stripped the other boys so that I could
not give him the attention he needs, and besides the
being with other boys, more his equals, would be
invaluable to him."

*' Well, he is rather bumptious."

" Nothing is worse for a lad of that sort than being
cock of the walk. It spoils him often for life."

" I know exactly the sort of man you mean, always
liking to lay down the law and talking to women
instead of men, because they don't argue with him.
No, Bobus must not come to that, and he is too young
to begin special training. Will you talk to him, ]\Ir.
Ogilvie ? You know if my horse is not convinced I
may bring him to the water, but it will be all in vain."

They had reached the outside of the window of the
dining-room, where the school-boys were learning their


lessons for the morrow. Bobus was sitting at the table
with a small lamp so shaded as to concentrate the
light on him and to afford it to no one else. On the
floor was a servant's flat candlestick, mounted on a
pile of books, between one John sprawling at full
length preparing his Virgil, the other cross-legged,
working a sum with ink from a doll's tea-cup placed
in the candlestick, and all the time there was a
wonderful mumbling accompaniment, as there always
was between those two.

" I say, what does pidsuui come from 1 "

" What a brute this is of a fraction ! Skipjack, what
will go in 639 and 852 .^ "

" Piilsuin, a pulse — volaf, flies. Eh ! Three'll do it.
Or common measure it at once."

" Bother common measure. The threes in "

" Fama, fame ; iwlat, flies ; pulstiin, the pulse ;
cecisse, to have ceased ; paternis regnis, in the paternal
kingdom. I say, wouldn't that rile Perkins like
fun .? "

" The threes in seven — two — in eighteen "

" I say, Johnny, is pulstiin irom pulco f "

" Never heard of it."

" Bobus, is it ptilco, ptilxi, pulsinn ? "

" Ptilco — I make an ass of myself," muttered Bobus.

" O murder," groaned Johnny, " it has come
out 213."

" Not half so much murder as this pulsinn. Why it
will go in them both. I can see with half an eye."


" Isn't \t pello—pidsiim f "

" Pello, to drive out. Hurrah ! That fits it."

''Look out, Skipjack, there's a moth."

" Anything worth having } " demanded Bobus.

" Only a grass eggar. Fama, fame ; volat^ flies ;
Idomceea diicem, that Idomaeeus the leader ; ptdstcni,
expelled. Get out, I say, you foolish beggar " (to the

" Never mind catching him," said Bobus, " we've got

" Yes, but I don't want him frizzling alive in my

" Don't kick up such a shindy," broke out Johnny,
as a much stained handkerchief came flapping about.

" You've blotted my sum. Thunder and ages ! " as
the candlestick toppled over, ink and all. " That
is a go ! "

" I say, Bobus, lend us your Guy Fawkes to pick up
the pieces."

" Not if I know it," said Bobus. " You always
smash things."

" There's a specimen of the way we learn our
lessons," said Caroline, in a low voice, still unseen, as
Bobus wiped, sheathed, and pocketed his favourite pen,
then proceeded to turn down the lamp, but allowed the
others to relight their candle at the expiring wick.

" The results are fair," said Mr. Ogilvie.

" I think of your carpet," said Mary, quaintly.

" We always lay down an ancient floorcloth in the


bay window before the boys come home," said Carey,
laughing-. *' Here, Bobus."

And as he came out headforemost at the window,
the two ladies discreetly drew off to leave the
conversation free.

" So, Brownlow," said Mr. Ogilvie, " I hear you don't
want to try your luck elsewhere."

" No, sir."

" Do you object to telling me why ^ "

" I see no use in it," said Bobus, never shy, and
further aided by the twilight; ''I do quite well enough

" Should you not do better in a larger field among
a higher stamp of boys .'* "

" Public school boys are such fools ! "

" And what are the Kenites .? "

" Well, not much," said Bobus, with a twitch in the
corner of his mouth ; *' but I can keep out of their

" You mean that you have gained your footing,
and don't want to have to do it again."

" Not only that, sir," said the boy, " but at a public
school you're fagged, and forced to go in for cricket
and football."

" You would soon get above that."

"Yes, but even then you get no peace, and are
nobody unless you go in for all that stuff of athletics
and sports. I hate it all, and don't want to waste
my time."


"I don't think you are quite right as to there being
no distinction without athletics."

"Allen says it is so now."

"Allen may be a better judge of the present state of
things, but I should think there was always a studious
set who were respectable."

"Besides," proceeded Bobus, warming with his
subject, " I see no good in nothing but classics. I
don't care what ridiculous lies some old man who never
existed, or else was a dozen people at once, told about
a lot of ruffians who never lived, killing each other at
some place that never was. I like what you can lay
your finger on, and say it's here, it's true, and I can
prove it, and explain it, and improve on it."

" If you can," said Mr. Ogilvie, struck by the contrast
with the little brother.

" That's what I want to do," said Bobus ; " to deal
with real things, not words and empty fancies. I know
languages are necessarj^ ; but if one can read a Latin
book, and understand a Greek technical term, that's
all that is of use. If my uncle won't let me study
physical science in Germany, I had rather go on here,
where I can be let alone to study it for myself"

" I do not think you understand what you would
throw away. What is the difference between Higg,
the bone-setter, and Dr. Leslie .? "

" Higg can do that one thing just by instinct. He
is uneducated."

"And in a measure it is so with all who throw


themselves into some special pursuit without waiting
for the mind and character to have full training and
expansion. If you mean to be a great surgeon "

" I don't mean to be a surgeon."

"A physician then."

" No, sir. Please don't let my mother fancy I mean
to be in practice, at everyone's beck and call. I've
seen too much of that. I mean to get a professorship,
and have time and apparatus for researches, so as to
get to the bottom of everything," said the boy, with
the vast purposes of his age.

" Your chances will be much better if you go up from
a public school, trained in accuracy by the thorough
work of language, and made more powerful by the ver\'
fact of not having followed merely your own bent.
Your contempt for the classics shows how one-sided
}'0u are growing. Besides, I thought you knew that
the days are over of unmitigated classics. You would
have many more opportunities, and much better ones,
of studying physical science than I can provide for
you here."

This was a new light to Bobus, and when Mr. Ogilvie
proved its truth to him, and described the facilities he
would have for the study, he allowed that it made all
the difference.

Meantime the two ladies had gone in, Mary asking
where Janet was.

"Gone with Jessie and her mother to a birthday
party at Polesworth Lawn."


" Not a good day for it."

" It is the perplexing sort of day that no one knows
whether to call it fine or wet ; but Ellen decided on
going, as they were to dance in the hall if it rained.
I'm sure her kindness is great, for she takes infinite
trouble to make Janet producible ! Poor Janet, you
know dressing her is like hanging clothes on a wooden
peg, and a peg that won't stand still, and has curious
theories of the beautiful, carried out in a still more
curious way. So when, in terror of our aunt, the whole
female household have done their best to turn out
Miss Janet respectable, between this house and Ken-
croft, she contrives to give herself some twitch, or else is
seized with an idea of the picturesque, which sets every
one Avondering that I let her go about such a figure.
Then Ellen and Jessie put a tie here, and a pin there,
and reduce the chaotic mass to order."

It was not long before Janet appeared, and Jessie
Avith her, the latter having been set down to give a
message. The two girls were dressed in the same light
black-and-white checked silk of early youth, one with
pink ribbons and the other with blue ; but the contrast
Avas the more apparent, for one was fresh and crisp,
while the other was flattened and tumbled ; one said
everything had been delightful, the other that it had
all been very stupid, and the expression made even
more difference than the complexion, in one so fair,
fresh, and rosy, in the other so sallow and muddled.
Jessie looked so sweet and bright, that when she ha.d


gone Miss Ogilvie could not help exclaiming, " How-
pretty she is ! "

"Yes, and so good-tempered and pleasant. There
is something always restful to me in having her in
the room," said Caroline.

" Restful ^ " said Janet, with one of her unamiable
sneers. " Yes, she and H. S. H. sent me off to sleep
with their gossip on the way home ! O mother, there's
another item for the Belforest record. Mr. Barnes has
^ent off all his servants again, even the confidential
man is shipped off to America."

" You seem to have slept with one ear open," said
her mother. " And oh ! " as Janet took off her gloves,
"" I hope you did not show those hands ! "

" I could not eat cake without doing so, and Mr.
^alover supposed I had been photographing."

"And what had you been doing.?" inquired Mary,
at sight of the brown stains.

"Trying chemical experiments with Bobus," said
lier mother.

" Yes ! " cried Janet, " and I've found out why we
did not succeed. I thought it out during the dancing."

" Instead of cultivating the * light fantastic toe,' as
•the Courier calls it."

" I danced twice, and a great plague it was. Only
with Mr. Glover and with a stupid little middy. I was
thinking all the time how senseless it was."

" How agreeable you must have been ! "

" One can't be agreeable to people like that. Oh,



Bobus ! " as he came into the room with Mr. Ogilvie^
'' I've found out "

" I thought Jessie was here," he interrupted.

" She's gone home. I know what was wrong
yesterday. We ought to have isolated the hypo "

" Isolated the grandmother," said Bobus. " That
has nothing to do with it."

" I'm sure of it. I'll show you how it acts."

" I'll show you just the contrary."

" Not to-night," cried their mother, as Bobus began
to relight the lamp, " You two explosives are quite
perilous enough by day without lamps and candles."

" You endure a great deal," said Mr. Ogilvie.

" I'm not afraid of either of these two doing any-
thing dangerous singly, for they are both careful, but
when they are of different minds, I never know what
the collision may produce."

" Yes," said Bobus, " I'd much sooner have Jessie to
help me, for she does what she is bid, and never

" That's all you think women good for," said Janet.

" Quite true," said Bobus, coolly.

And Mr. Ogilvie was acknowledged by his sister to
have done a good deed that night, since the Folly
might be far more secure when Janet tried her
experiments alone.



The rude will scuffle through with ease enough ;
Great schools best suit the sturdy and the rough.
Soon see your wish fulfilled in either child,
The pert made perter, and the tame made wild.


Robert Otway Brownlow came out fourth on the
roll of newly-elected scholars of S. Mary, Winton, and
his master was, as his sister declared, unwholesomely
proud of it, even while he gave all credit to the Folly,
and none to himself

Still Mary had her way and took him to Brittany,
and though her present pupils were to leave the school-
room at Christmas, she would bind herself to no fresh
engagement, thinking that she had better be free to
make a home for him, whether at Kenminster or

When the half-year began again Bobus was a good
deal missed, Jock was in a severe idle fit, and Armine
did not come up to the expectations formed of him,
and was found, when "up to Mr. Perkins," to be as
bewildered and unready as other people.

S 2


All the work in the school seemed flat and poor,
except perhaps Johnny's, which steadily improved.
Robert, whose father wished him to be pushed on so
as to be fit for examination for Sandhurst, opposed,
to all pressure, the passive resistance of stolidity. He
was nearly sixteen, but seemed incapable of under-
standing that compulsory studies were for his good
and not a cruel exercise of tyranny. He disdainfully
rejected an offer from his aunt to help him in the
French and arithmetic which had become imminent,
while of the first he knew much less than Babie, and
of the latter only as much as would serve to prevent
his being daily " kept in."

One chilly autumn afternoon, Armine was seen,
even by the unobservant under-master, to be shivering
violently, and his teeth chattering so that he could
not speak plainly.

" You ought to be at home," said Mr. Perkins.
" Here, you, Brownlow maximus, just see him home,
and tell his mother that he should be seen to."

" I can go alone," Armine tried to say ; but Mr.
Perkins thought the head-master could not say he
neglected one who was felt to be a favoured scholar if
he sent his cousin with him.

So presently Armine was pushed in at the back
door, with these words from Rob to the cook — " Look
here, he's been and got cold, or something."

Rob then disappeared, and Armine struggled in
to the kitchen fire, white, sobbing and panting, and,


as the compassionate maids discovered, drenched
from head to foot, his hair soaked, his boots squishing
with water. His mother and sisters were out, and
as cook administered the hottest draught she could
compound, and Emma tugged at his jacket, they
indignantly demanded what he had been doing to

" Nothing," he said. " I'll go and take my things
off; only please don't tell mother."

" Yes," said old nurse, who had tottered in, but who
was past fully comprehending emergencies ; " go and
get into bed, my dear, and Emma shall come and
warm it for him."

" No," stoutly said the little boy ; " there's nothing
the matter, and mother must not know."

" Take my word for it," said cook, " that child have
a been treated shameful by those great nasty brutes
of big boys."

And when Armine, too cold to sit anywhere but by
the only fire in the house, returned with a book and
begged humbly for leave to warm himself, he was
installed on nurse's footstool, in front of a huge fire,
and hot tea and " lardy-cake" tendered for his refresh-
ment, while the maids by turns pitied and questioned

" Have you had a haccident, sir," asked cook.

" No," he wearily said,

"Have any one been doing anything to you,
then.?" And as he did not answer she continued:


" You need not think to blind me, sir ; I sees it as if
it was in print. Them big boys have been a-mis-
using of you."

" Now, cook, you ain't to say a word to my mother,"
cried Armine, vehemently. " Promise me."

"If you'll tell me all about it, sir," said cook,

" No," he answered, " I promised ! " And he buried
his head in nurse's lap.

" I calls that a shame," put in Emma ; " but you
could tell we, Master Armine. It ain't like telling
your ma nor your master."

" I said no one," said Armine.

The maids left off tormenting him after a time,
letting him fall asleep with his head on the lap of old
nurse, who went on dreamily stroking his damp hair,
not half understanding the matter, or she would have
sent him to bed.

Being bound by no promise of secrecy, Emma met
her mistress with a statement of the surmises of the
kitchen, and Caroline hurried thither to find him
waking to headache, fiery cheeks, and aching limbs,
which were not simply the consequence of the position
in which he had been sleeping before the fire. She saw
him safe in bed before she asked any questions, but
then she began her interrogations, as little successfully
as the maids.

" I can't, mother," he said, hiding his face on the


" My little boy used to have no secrets from me."

" Men must have secrets sometimes, though they
rack their hearts and — their backs," sighed poor
Armine, rolling over. " Oh, mother, my back is so
bad ! Please don't bother besides."

" My poor darling ! Let me rub it. There, you
might trust Mother Carey ! She would "not tell Tvlr.
Ogilvie, nor get any one into trouble."

" I promised, mother. Don't ! " And no persuasions
could draw anything from him but tears. Indeed he
was so feverish and in so much pain that she called in
Dr. Leslie before the evening was over, and rheumatic
fever was barely staved off by the most anxious vigi-
lance for the next day or two. It was further decreed
that he must be carefully tended all the winter, and
must not go to school again till he had quite got over
the shock, since he was of a delicate frame that would
not bear to be trifled with.

The boy gave a long sigh of content when he heard
that he was not to return to school at present ; but it
did not induce him to utter a word on the cause of the
wetting, either to his mother or to Mr. Ogilvie, who
came up in much distress, and examined him as soon
as he was well enough to bear it. Nor would any of
his schoolfellows tell. Jock said he had had an im-
position, and was kept in school when " it " happened ;
John said " he had nothing to do with it ; " and Rob
and Joe opposed surly negatives to all questions on
the subject, Rob adding that Armine was a disgusting


little idiot, an expression for which his father took him
severely to task.

However there were those in Kenminster who never
failed to know all about everything, and the first after-
noon after Armine's disaster that Caroline came to-
Kencroft she was received with such sympathetic
kindness that her prophetic soul misgave her, and she
dreaded hearing either that she was letting herself
be cheated by some tradesman, or that she was to
lose her pupils.

No. After inquiries for Armine, his aunt said she
was very sorry, but now he was better she thought his
mother ought to know the truth.

"What .'' " asked Caroline, startled ; and Jessie,

the only other person in the" room, put down her work,,
and listened with a strange air of determination.

" My dear, I am afraid it is very painful."

" Tell me at once, Ellen."

" I can't think how he learnt it. But they have
been about with all sorts of odd people."

" Who ? What, Ellen ^ Are you accusing my
boy } " said Caroline, her limbs beginning to tremble
and her eyes to flash, though she spoke as quietly as
she could.

" Now do compose yourself, my dear. I dare say
the poor little fellow knew no better, and he has had
a severe lesson."

" If you would only tell me, Ellen."

"It seems," said Ellen, with much regret and com-


miseration, " that all this was from poor little Armine
using such shocking language that Rob, as a senior
boy, you know, put him under the pump at last ta
put a stop to it."

Before Caroline's fierce, incredulous indignation had
found a word, Jessie had exclaimed " Mamma ! " in a
tone of strong remonstrance ; then, " Never mind.
Aunt Carey, I know it is only Mrs. Coffinkey, and
Johnny promised he would tell the whole story if any
one brought that horrid nonsense to you about poor
little Armine."

Kind, gentle Jessie seemed quite transported out of
herself, as she flew to the door and called Johnny,
leaving the two mothers looking at each other, and
Ellen, somewhat startled, saying " I'm sure, if it is not
true, I'm very sorry, Caroline, but it came from "

She broke off, for Johnny was scuffling across the
hall, calling out " Holloa, Jessie, what's up .'' "

" Johnny, she's done it ! " said Jessie. "You said if
the wrong one was accused you would tell the whole
story ! "

" And what do they say } " asked John, who was
by this time in the room.

" Mamma has been telling Aunt Carey that Rob
put poor little Armine under the pump for using bad

" I say! " exclaimed John ; " if that is not a cram ! "

" You said you knew nothing of it," said his mother.

" I said I didn't do it. No more I did," said John.


" No more did Rob, I am sure," said his mother.

But Johnny, though using no word of denial, made
it evident that she was mistaken, as he answered in an
odd tone of excuse, " Armie was cheeky."

" But he didn't use bad words ! " said Caroline, and
she met a look of comfortable response.

" Let us hear, John," said his mother, now the most
agitated. " I can't believe that Rob would so ill-treat
a little fellow like Armie, even if he did lose his
temper for a moment. Was Armine impertinent ? "

"Well, rather," said John. " He wouldn't do Rob's
French exercise." And then — as the ladies cried out,
he added — " O yes, he knows ever so much more
French than Rob, and now Bobus is gone Rob could
not get anyone else."

" Bobus .? "

" O yes, Bobus would do anybody's exercises at a
penny for Latin, two for French, and three for Greek,"
said John, not aware of the shock he gave.

" And Armine would not ? " said his mother. " Was
that it .? "

" Not only that," said John ; " but the little beggar
must needs up and say he would not help to act a
falsehood, and you know nobody could stand that."

Caroline understood the gravity of such an offence
better than Ellen did, for that good lady had never
had much in common with her boys after they outgrew
the nursery. She answered, "Armine was quite right."

" So much the worse for him, I fear," said Caroline.


" Yes," said John, " it would have been all very
Avell to give him a cuff and tell him to mind his own

"All very well ! " ejaculated his mother.

" But you know," continued Johnny to his aunt,
"the seniors are always mad at a junior being like
that ; and there was another fellow who dragged him
to the great school pump, and put him in the trough,
and they said they would duck him till he swore to
do w^hatever Rob ordered."

" Swore ! " exclaimed his mother. " You don't mean
that, Johnny ? "

"Yes, I do, mamma," said John. " I would tell you
the words, only you wouldn't like them. And Armine
said it would be breaking the Third Commandment,
which was the very way to aggravate them most. So
they pumped on his head, and tried if he would say
it. ' No,' he said. ' You may kill me like the forty
martyrs, but I won't,' and of course that set them on
to pump the more."

"But, Johnny, did you see it all .^ " cried Caroline.
" How could you ? "

" I couldn't help it. Aunt Carey."

" Yes, Aunt Carey," again broke in Jessie, " he was
held down. That horrid — well, I won't say whom,
Johnny — held him, and his arm was so twisted and
grazed that he was obliged to come to me to put some
lily-leaves on it, and if he would but show it, it is all
black and yellow still."


Carey, much moved, went over and kissed both her
boy's champions, while Ellen said, with tears in her
eyes, " Oh, Johnny, I'm glad you were at least not so
bad. What ended it ? "

*' The school-bell," said Johnny. " I say, please
don't let Rob know I told, or I shall catch it."

" Your father "

" Mamma ! You aren't going to tell him ! " cried
Jessie and Johnny, both in horror, interrupting her.

*'Yes, children, I certainly shall. Do you think
such wickedness as that ought to be kept from him .'*
Nearly killing a fatherless child like that, because he
was not as bad as they were, and telling falsehoods
about it too ! I never could have believed it of Rob.
Oh ! what school does to one's boys ! " She was
agitated and overcome to a degree that startled
Carey, who began to try to comfort her.

"Perhaps Rob did not understand what he was
about, and you see he was led on. Armine will soon

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 18)