Frederic William Farrar.

St. Winifred's : or, The world of school online

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31 West Twenty-third Street


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I. — Walter's Home 1

II St. Winifred's 13

III.— New Boys 16

IV. — Friends and Foes 26

V. — ScnooL Troubles S5

VI. — A Burst of Wilfulness . . . Si

VII. — Vogue la Galere 50

VIII. — The Burnt Manuscript 66

IX.— Penitence 76

X. — Uphillwards 86

XI. — Happier Hours 10'2

XII.— My Brother's Keeper 110

XIII.— Daubeny 118

XIV. — Appenfell 127

XV.— In the Clouds 13G

XVL— On the Razor 144

XVII — TnE Good Resolve 155

XVIII. -The Martyr-Student 161

XIX —The School Bell 169

XX. —Farewell 178

XXI -Kenriok's Home 182

XXII. -Birds of a Feather 194

XXIII.— A Broken Friendship 207

XXrV.— Eden's Troubles . . . . , . 21ti


XXV To the Rescue ...

XXVI.— A Turbulent School Meeting

XXVII The Monitors .

XXVIII.— Falling Away .

XXIX.— Walter's Holidays .



XXX.— Old and New Faces 270

XXXI — Among the Noelites 278

XXXII — Disenchantment 201

XXXIII Martyrdom 304

XXXIV A Conspiracy Foiled . ... 317

XXXV The Final Fracas ,328

XXXVI In the Depths . 344

XXXVII. — The Reconciliation and the Loss . . . .364

IXXV1II The Stupor Broken 378

XXXLX On the Dark Sea 396

XL. — What the Sea gave dp .404




Walter's home.

GOOD-BYE, Walter ; good-bye, Walter dear ! good
bye ;" and the last note of this chorus was " Dood
bye," from a blue-eyed, fair-haired girl of two years,
as Walter disengaged his arms from his mother's neck, and
sprang into the carriage which had already been waiting a
quarter of an hour to convey him and his luggage to the

It is the old old story: Mr. Evson was taking his son tc
a large public school, and this was the first time that WaL
ter had left home. Nearly every father who deigns to
open this little book has gone through the scene himself;
and he and his sons will know from personal experience the
thoughts, and sensations, and memories, which occupied the
minds of Walter Evson and his father, as the carriage
drove through the garden gate and the village street, bear-
ing the eldest boy of the young family from the sacred and
quiet shelter of a loving home, to a noisy and independent
life among a number of strange and young companions.
If you have ever stood on the hill from which Wa'tei


caught a last glimpse of the home he was leaving, and

waved his final farewell to his mother, you are not likely to

have forgotten the scene which was then spread before your

eyes. On the right hand side, the low hills, covered with

urs, rise in gentle slopes one over the other, till they reach

rite huge green shoulder of the mountain, around whose

summits the clouds are generally weaving their awful and

ever changing diadem. To the left, between the road and

a lower range of wooded undulations, is a deep and retired

glen, through which a mountain stream babbles along its

hurried course, tumbling sometimes in a noisy cataract and

rushing wildly through the rough boulder stones which it

has carried from the heights, or deepening into some quiet

pool, bright and smooth as glass, on the margin of which

the great purple loosestrife and the long fern leaves bend

down as though to gaze at their own reflected beauty. In

front, and at your feet, opens a rich valley, which is almost

filled as far as the roots of the mountains by a lovely lake,

Beside this lake the white houses of a little village cluster

around the elevation on which the church and churchyard

stand ; while on either shore rising among the fir groves

that overshadow the first swellings of the hills, are a few

sequestered villas, commanding a prospect of rare beauty,

and giving a last touch of interest to the surrounding view.

In one of these houses — that one with the crowded gables

not a hundred feet above the lake, opposite to which you

see the swans pluming their wings in the sunlight, and the

green boat in its little boat-house — lived the hero of our

story; and no boy could have had a dearer or lovelier home.

His father, Mr. Evson, was a man in easy, and almost in

affluent circumstances, who having no regular occupation,

had chosen for himself this quiet retreat, and devoted all

his time and care to the education of his family, and the

ordinary duties of a country gentleman.


Walter was the eldest child, a graceful, active, bright-
eyed boy. Up to this time — and he was now thirteen
years old — he had had no other teaching but that of his
father, and of a tutor, who for the last year had lived in
the house. His education, therefore, differed considerably
from that of many boys of his own age, and the amount of
book knowledge which he had acquired was small as yet ;
but he was full of that intelligent interest iu things most
worth knowing, which is the best and surest guarantee for
future progress.

Let me pause for a moment to relate how a refined and
simple-hearted gentleman had hitherto brought up his young
buys. I do not pronounce whether the method was right
or wrong ; I only describe it as it was ; and its success or
failure must be inferred from the following pages.

The positive teaching of the young Evsons did not begin
too early. Till they were ten or twelve years old neaily all
they did know had come to them either intuitively or with-
out any conscious labor. They were allowed almost to
live in the open air, and nature was their wise and tender
teacher. Some object was invented, if possible, for every
walk. Now it was to find the shy recesses of the wood where
the wild strawberries were thickest, or where the white vio-
lets and the rarest orchis flowers were hid; or to climb along
the rocky sides of the glen to seek the best spot for a
rustic meal, and find mossy stones and flower-banks for
seats and tables near some waterfall or pool.

When they were a little older their father would amuse
and encourage them until they had toiled up even to the
very summit of all the nearest hills, and there they would
catch the fresh breeze which blew from the far off sea, or
pazc wonderingly at the summer lightuing flashing behind
the chain of hills, or watch, with mauy playful fancies, the
long; o-on-'eous conflagration of the summer sunset. And


in such excursions their father or mother would teach them
without seeming to teach them, until they were thoroughl
familiar with the names and properties of all the commonest
plants, and eagerly interested to secure for their little col-
lections, or to plant in their gardens, the different varieties
of all the wild flowers that were found about their home.
Or, again, when they sate out in the garden, or wandered
back in the autumn twilight from some gipsy party, they
were taught to recognize the stars and planets, until Mars
and Jupiter, Orion and Cassiopeia, the Pleiads and the
Northern Crown, seemed to look down upou them like old
and beloved friends.

It was easy, too, and pleasant, to teach them to love
and to treat tenderly all living things — to observe the
little black-eyed squirrel without disturbing him wiiile he
cracked his nuts ; to watch the thistle-thrush's nest till the
timid bird had learned to sit there fearlessly, and not scurry
away at their approach ; and to visit the haunts of the
moor-hen without causing any consternation to her or her
little black velvet progeny. Visitors who stayed at the
house were always delighted to see how all creatures seemed
to trust the children ; how the canary would carol ill its
cage when they came into the room ; how the ponies would
come trotting to the boys across the field, and the swans
float up and plume their mantling wings, expecting food
and caresses, whenever they came in sight.

The lake was a source of endless amusement to them ;
summer and winter they might have been seen bathing in
its waters till they were bold swimmers, or lying to read
their books in the boat under the shade of the trees, or
rowing about till the little boy of six years was allowed to
paddle himself alone to the other side, and even when the
waves were rough, and the winds high, the elder ones were
not afraid to venture out. In short, they were healthy and


jianly mountain-boys, with all their senses admirably exer
sised, and their powers of observation so well trained, that
they sometimes amazed their London cousins by pointing
to some falcon poised far off above its prey, which was but
a speck to less practised eyes, or calling attention to the
sweetness of some wood-bird's note, indistinguishable to
less practised ears.

Even in such lessons as these they would have made but
little progress if they had not been trained in the nursery
to be hardy, modest, truthful, unselfish, and obedient.
This work had effectually been done when alone it can be
effectually done, in the earliest childhood, when the sweet
and plastic nature may acquire for all that is right and
good the powerful aid of habit, before the will and the pas-
sions are fully conscious of their dangerous and stubborn

Let no one say that I have been describing some youth-
ful prodigies. There are thousands such as I describe in
all happy and well-ordered English homes; there might be
thousands more if parents spent a more thoughtful care
upon the growth of their children ; there will be many,
many thousands more as the world, " in the rich dawn of
an ampler day," in the gradual yet noble progress of social
and moral improvement, becomes purer and holier, and
more like Him who came to be the ideal of the loftiest,
yet the lowliest, of the most clear-sighted yet the mosl
loving, of the most happy, and yet the most humble man


st. winifked's.

WA LTER'S destination was the school of St. Wini
fred. St. Winifred's school stands by the sea-side,
on the shores of a little bay embraced and closed i r
by a range of hills, whose sweeping semicircle is only termi-
nated on either side by the lofty cliffs which, in some places, are
fringed at the base by a margin of sand and shingle, and in
others descend with sheer precipices into the ever-boiling surf.
Owing to the mountainous nature of the country, the railroad
cannot approach within a distance of five miles, and to reach
the school you must drive through the dark groves which
cover the lower shoulder of one of the surrounding mountains.
When you reach the summit, of this ascent, the bay of St.
Winifred lies before you; that line of white houses a quar-
ter of a mile from the shore is the village, and the large
picturesque building of old grey stone, standing in the angle
where the little river reaches the sea, is St. Winifred's

The carriage stopped at the grand Norman archway of
the court. The school porter — the Famulus as they classi-
cally called him — a fine-looking man, whose honest English
face showed an amount of thought and refinement above his
station, opened the gate, and, consigning Walter's play-box
and portmanteau to one of the school servants, directed
Mr. Evson across the court and along some cloisters to the
house of Dr. Lane, the head master. The entering ot
Walter's name on the school books was soon accomplished,
and he was aasigned as private pupil to Mr. Robertson, oufl



oi the tutors. Dr. Lane then spoke a word of encourage
ment to the young stranger, and he walked back with hia
father across the court to the gate, where the carriage was
still waiting to take Mr. Evson to meet the next train.

"Please let us walk up to the top of the hill, papa," said
Walter ; " I shan't be wanted till tea-time, and I needn't
bid good-bye to you here."

Mr. Evson was as little anxious as Walter to hasten the
parting. They had never been separated before. Mr.
Evson could look back for the rare period of thirteen years,
during which they had enjoyed, by God's blessing, an al-
most uninterrupted happiness. lie had begun life again
with his young children; he could thoroughly sympathize
alike with their thoughts and with their thoughtlessness, and
by training them in a manner at once wise and linn, he had
been spared the greater part of that anxiety and disap-
pointment which generally spring from our own mismanage-
ment. He deeply loved, and was heartily proud of his
eldest boy. There is no exaggeration in saying that Wal-
ter had all the best gifts which a parent could desire. There
was something very interesting in his appearance, and very
winning in his modest and graceful manners. It was im-
possible to see him and not be struck with his fine open
face, and the look of fearless and noble innocence in his
deep blue eyes.

It was no time for moral lectures or formal advice. Mr.
Evson spoke to Walter chiefly about home, about writing
letters, about his pocket money, his amusements, and his
studies, and Walter knew well beforehand, without any re-
petitions then, what his father wished him to be, and the
principles iu accordance with which he had endeavored tc
mould his thoughts and actions.

The time passed too quickly for thein both ; they were
soou at the top of the hill where the carriage awaited them.


" Good-bye, Walter. God bless you," said Mr. Evson
shaking hands for the last time, and throwing deep mean-
ing- into those simple words.

" Good-bye, papa. My best love to all at home," said
Walter, trying to speak cheerfully, and struggling manfully
to repress his rising tears.

The carriage drove on, Walter watched it out of sight,
and, turning round, felt that a new phase of his life had
begun, and that he was miserably alone. It was natural
that he should shed a few quiet tears as he thought of the
dear friends with whom he had parted, and the four hun-
dred strangers into whose society he was about to enter.
Yet, being brave and innocent, he feared nothing, and, with-
out any very definite religious consciousness, he had a clear
and vivid sense that One friend was ever with him.

The emotions of a boy are as transient as they are keen,
and Walter's tears were soon dried. As he looked round,
the old familiar voice of the mountains was in his ears.
He gazed with the delight of friendship on their towering
summits, and promised himself many an exhilarating climb
up their steep sides. And now too for the first time — for
hitherto he had not much noticed the scenery around him —
a, new voice, the great voice of the sea, broke with its grand
but awful monotony upon his listening ear. As he gazed
upon the waves, glowing and flashing with the golden net-
work of autumnal sunbeams, it seemed to dawn upon him
Like the discovery of a new sense, and he determined to
stroll down to the beach before re-entering the gates of St.

He wandered there not only with a boy's delight, but
with the delight of a boy whose eyes and ears have always
been open to the beauty and wonder of the outer world.
He longed to have his brother with him there. He picked
:ip haudfuls of the hard and sparkling sand ; he sent the

THE SEA. lfi

Droad flat pebbles flying over the surface, and skimming
through the crests of the waves ; he half filled his pockets
with green and yellow shells, and crimson fragments of De-
lessaria Sanguinea for his little sisters ; and he was full of
pleasurable excitement when the great clock of St. Wini-
fred's, striking five, reminded him that he had better go in,
and learn soniethiug, if possible, about the order of his
future life.



THE Famulus — "familiar" — as the boys called hinr
directed Walter across the court to the rooms of his
Housekeeper, who informed him about the places
where his clothes and his play-boxes would be kept, and
the dormitory where he was to sleep. She also gave him
a key of the desk in the great school-room, in which he
might, if he chose, keep his portable property. She more-
over announced, with some significance, that she should be
glad to do anything for him which lay in her humble
power, and that the day after to-morrow was her birthday.
Walter was a little puzzled as to the relevancy of the
latter piece of information. He learnt it at a subsequent
period, when he also discovered that Mrs. Higgins found
it to her interest to have periodical birthdays, recurring
two or three times at least every half year. The years
which must have passed over that good lady's head during
Walter's stay at St. Winifred's — the premature rapidity
with which old age must have subsequently overtaken
her, and the vigor which she displayed at so advanced a
period of life — were something quite extraordinary of their

Towards the great school-room Walter accordingly di-
rected his steps. The key turned out to be quite superflu-
ous, for the hasp of the lock had been broken by Walter's
predecessor, who had also left the trace of his name, his
likeness, and many interesting though inexplicable designs
and hieroglyphics, with a red-hot poker, on the lid. Th«


same gentleman, to judge by appearances, must have had a
curious entomological collection of spiders and earwiga
under his protection, and had bequeathed to Walter a
highly miscellaneous legacy of rubbish. Walter contem-
plated his bequest with some dismay, and began busily to
dust the interior of the desk, and make it as fit a receptacle
as he could for his writing-materials and other personal

While thus engaged he could not help being secretly
tickled by the proceedings of a group of boys standing
round the large unlightcd stove, and amusing themselves,
harmlessly for the most part, with the inexperience and
idiosyncrasies of various new comers. After tiring them-
selves with the freaks of a mad Irish boy who had entered
into the spirit of his own cross-examination with a high
sense of buffoonery which refused to grow ill-tempered, they
were now playing on the extreme gullibility of a heavy,
open-mouthed, bullet-headed fellow, named Plumber, from
whom the most astounding information could extract no
greater evidence of sensation than a little wider stare of
the eyes, and an unexcited drawl of " Really though ?"
One of the group, named Henderson, a merry-looking boy
with a ceaseless pleasant twinkle of the eyes, had been
taxing his own invention to the uttermost without in the
least exciting Plumber's credulity.

" You saw the fellow who let you in at the school gates,
Plumber ?" said Henderson.

" Yes ; I saw some one or other."

" But did you notice him particularly ?"

" No ; I didn't notice him."

" Well, you should have done. That man's called ' the
Familiar.' Ask any one if he isn't. But do you know


" No ;" said Plumber.

" It's because he's got a familiar spirit which waits OB
him," said Henderson, mysteriously.

" Really though," said Plumber, and this time he looked
so frightened that it was impossible for the rest to avoid
bursting into a lit of laughter, during which Plumber,
vaguely comprehending that he was considered a very good
joke, retired with discomfiture.

"You fools," said Henderson ; " if you'd only given nit
a little more time I'd have made him believe that Lane
had a tail, and wore his gown to conceal it, except when
he used it to flog with ; and that before being entered he
would have to sing a song standing on his head."

" There's another new fellow," said Kenrick, one of the
group. " Come here, you new fellow," called two or three
of them.

Walter looked up, thinking that h-e was addressed, but
found that the summons was meant for a boy, rather good-
looking but very slender, whose self-important attitude and
supercilious look betrayed no slight amount of vanity, and
who, to the apparent astonishment of the rest, was survey-
ing the room and its appurtenances with a look of great
affectation and disdain.

" So you don't much seem to Hke the look of St. Wini-
fred's," said Kenrick to him, as the boy walked up with a
delicate air.

" Not much," lisped the new boy ; " everything looks so
very common."

" Common and unclean to the last degree," said Hender-
son, imitating his manner.

" And is this the only place you have to sit in ?"

" Oh, by no means," said Henderson ; " each of us haj
i private apartment furnished in crimson and gold, accord


tug to the simple yet elegant taste of the owner. Onl
meals are there served to us by kneeling domestics on little
dishes of silver."

" I suppose you intend that for wit," said the r.evv boy,

" Yes ; to do you, to wit," answered Henderson ; " but
seriously though, that would be a great deal more like
what you have been accustomed to ; wouldn't it, my
fi Send ?"

" Very much more," said the boy.

" And would you politely favor this company," said
Henderson, with obsequious courtesy, " by revealing to us
your name ?''

" My name is Howard Tracy."

" Oh, indeed !" said Henderson, with an air of great
satisfaction, and making a low bow.

" I am called Howard Tracy because I am descended
lineally from both those noble families."

" My goodness ! are you really !" said Henderson, clasp-
ing his hand in mock transport. " My dear sir, you are
an honor to your race and country ! you are an honor to
this school. By Jove, we are proud, sir, to have you
among us !"

" Perhaps you may not know that my uncle is the Vis-
count St. George," said Tracy, patronisingly.

" Is he, though, by George !" said Henderson, yawning
" Is that St. George who

' Swinged the dragon, and e'er since
Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door?'"

But finding that the boy's vanity was too obtuse to b*
amusing any longer, he was about to leave him to the rest,
when Jones caught sight of Walter, and called out :
" Halloa, here's a new fellow grinniug at the lollies of


his kind. Conic here, you dark-haired chap. What's
your name ?"

" Evson," said Walter, quietly approaching them.

Before getting any fun out of him it was necessary to see
what kind of a boy he was ; and as Jones hardly knew
what line to take, he began on the commonest and most
vulgar tack of catechising him about his family auc.

" What's your father ?"

" My father is a gentleman," said Walter, rather sur-
prised at the rudeness of the question.

" And where do you live ?"

" At Semlyn."

" And how old are you ?"

" Just thirteen."

" And how many sisters have you ?"

Walter rather thought of asking, " What's that to you ?"
but as he saw no particular harm in answering the ques-
tion, and did not want to seem too stiff-backed, he answered
— " Three."

'' And are they very beautiful ?"

" I don't know ; I never asked them. Are yours ?"

This last question was so perfectly quiet and unexpected,
and Jones was so evidently discomfited by it, that the rest
burst into a roar of laughter, and Henderson said, " You've
caught a tartar, Jones. You can't drop salt on this bird's
tail. You had better return to Plumber, or St. George
aud the dragon. Here, my noble Viscount, what do you
think of your coeval ? Is he as common as the rest of us V

" I don't think anything about him, if you mean me by
Viscount," said Tracy, peevishly, beginning at last to up.
derstand that they had been making a fool of him.

" Quite right, St. George, he's beneath your notice."

Tracy ran his hand through his scented hair, as if he


^dier implied that he was ; and being mortified at th<
contrast between his own credulous vanity and Walter's
manly simplicity, and anxious if possible to regain his posi-
tion, he said angrily to Walter — " What are you looking
at me for ?"

Not wishing to bo rude, Walter turned away, while
some one observed, " A cat may look at a king."

" Ay, a cat at a king, I grant you," answered Hender-

Online LibraryFrederic William FarrarSt. Winifred's : or, The world of school → online text (page 1 of 28)