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divided. The princess's talents commanded their respect and admiration, and there was, besides, the novelty of the situation to excite their interest. Some, however, and among them, Harry Maitland, were considerably mortified by the bearing she assumed. They had expected that, since it was evident the masters possessed little influence, she would have established a friendly understanding with the older boys, and relied upon their authority and example for the preservation of order; whereas she appeared determined to make not the slightest distinction! Now the question was, was this to be borne ?
After much discussion, it was decided to try the event of another day.
“ Give her every chance," said Harry, indulgently.
School, on the morrow, proceeded quietly enough; but, at dinnertime, a new test had to be endured. Up came, as usual, the abominable hearts; this time, however, hot and nicely dressed, with stuffing, and an alluring gravy. The princess sat on the right of Queen Mob; was, of course, helped first, and seemed to swallow her portion with considerable relish. So did the G. P. B.'s. Ashamed to refuse, we followed the example of our betters, and were in some sort rewarded by the appearance of two magnificent plum-puddings, such as had never, in the memory of the oldest boy, graced those boards.
All this increased the good humour of the general body; and not only for that, but the succeeding day, business was allowed to proceed without disorder.
On the fourth morning, however, the impatience of some of the older fellows under Queen Stork's lofty bearing and exacting rule began by degrees to evince itself. Maitland openly declared he would stand it no longer-threw off the mask of obedience, and assumed an entirely new demeanour. He strolled into school ten minutes after time. He conversed aloud. He ilung a book across the room to Boss Twigge, and committed other indiscretions too numerous to mention. Sometimes these demonstrations evoked corresponding ones from other seniors, always a titter from the juniors. Now and then a fellow of gentler mood would put in:
“Quiet, Harry. Don't, old boy. Bother! It's a shame."
But this style of opposition only irritated Maitland more. He could not bring himself to believe that the school generally were such spoons as to yield placid obedience to a girl of twenty-though she did know something of Greek.
Strange was it that Queen Stork never took open notice of the growing disaffection, though only the previous day she had delivered over a chap to the tender attentions of her gentleman usher of the black rod for a mere act of carelessness — dropping an inkstaud. That she observed what passed, nobody could doubt; for we saw her strange, terrible eyes steadily fixed upon Maitland-never upon any other offender—as though she at once recognised in him the core of the rebellion. We knew that Harry's shots were telling. She called up a junior class, and, after looking at them for more than a minute with an air of the most profound depression, dismissed them unheard, and resumed her former attitude, gazing, as though fascinated, at the destroyer of her peace, and of the power she had so nearly established.
Some fellows-Hall and Lindsay among them—were rather touched by the strange prineess's evident distress, and begged Harry to desist. But he angrily bade them mind their own business; and the day concluded in a very uncomfortable manner — no lessons heard, and the princess retiring, on Queen Mob's arm, her head stooped, and she herself with all the appearance of a person suffering both mental and physical pain.
Sunday intervened ; and, on Monday, the struggle, if it might be called so, recommenced. Maitland, backed by one or two other malcontents, especially Boss Twigge, his great admirer, renewed his annoyances—the declared object being to compel the princess to what they termed a “capitulation.
“Let her," said Harry, “make friends of us, or see if we don't lead her a danee !"
“She's ill," said good-natured Ambo Hall. “Look, she's leaning her face on her hands."
“Sulking, sir,” rejoined Harry. “A little more, and we'll bring her regularly to. Hi, you Pounsett, lend us that.”
He snatched a small popgun from the boy's hand, and took aim at the princess's screen. I don't think he intended at first to shoot, but, excited by the laugh around him, he did. The pellet struck the glazed portion directly in front of the princess's face.
She started to her feet, her eyes literally flashing through the mask, and the terrible smile plainly visible.
“I thank you,” she said. “A direct insult is all I needed. Mr. Weekes." Looby shuffled
up to his post. She threw him the whip. “Henry Maitland.” Harry laughed scornfully.
“Flog me !" he exclaimed, and looked round the school as though for support. But, to his astonishment, the popular voice was mute.
Boss Twigge did indeed mutter his persuasion that if a senior cock were punished, the lord mayor himself might be the next victim.
With this exception, an almost profound silence succeeded.
“I waste no words upon you,” said the princess. “ Either submit to your punishment, less degrading than the cowardice that has provoked it, or rid my benefactor's house of
Maitland's eye once more glanced over the expectant crowd. He had
gone just a step too far—that one step which has ruined so many clever conceptions." There was a littleness in the insult he had offered, that awoke the better feelings of the boys. Opinion was against him. Not a voice, not a look, encouraged him. But-the humiliation! His heart swelled-he moved towards the door.
What sound is that at the lower desks? A murmur a hiss-increasing with every step he takes. They deem him coward, too-the boys—the little boys! 'Harry stopped short, and threw up his head. The hiss stopped, then a low example of applause from the upper sehool was re-echoed heartily below. In that second, Harry's resolution was taken.
He walked calmly up to the platform, and knelt. The princess closed the door.
Poor Harry could not refrain from bestowing a warning glance on Looby, which said distinctly:
“ Strike gingerly, old fellow, or look out for your own skin!"
This, and the unexampled duty of whopping a senior cock, had their natural effect upon Looby, who consequently delivered the first stroke with a tenderness approaching the ludicrous. But the princess was not to be trifled with. With her graceful panther step she was at his side, caught the whip from his hand, and, with a force in which all the resentment of her proud nature seemed concentred, administered one of those short, sharp cuts that hurt worse than a sweeping stroke.
We saw the blood rush to Harry's forehead; but, though the whip must have cut like a knife, he gave no other sign of pain, and even bent forward, as though courting a repetition from the menaeing white hand, already lifted for the purpose. She changed her mind, however, flung the rod disdainfully back to Looby, and signed to him to continue the punishment.
Harry took it like a hero, prolonged as it was, until another sign from the victorious princess bade the executioner desist. Then, with a dignity scarcely less than her own, he rose and retired to his place.
After twelve o'clock, just as we were assembling in the playground, a message summoned Harry to the study. He went. Queen Stork was there, alone. She was pacing the room in her favourite attitude, with her hands clasped, and her head bent down. “I sent for you, sir,” she began, calmly, “ to—to —”
(Here her voice faltered, and she broke into a sudden passion that made Harry start.) “Boy, or man, whichever you pretend to be, what had I done to you, that
you should have forced me to this? What was your hostility ? If you knew nothing of the deep debt of gratitude I owe my generous friend, some portion of which I sought to repay by taking upon me this unfitting charge, at least you might have honoured the apparent motive, and recognised, in my dismissal of all other support, an appeal to your forbearance few English natures, of any age, would have resisted.”
Harry made an involuntary step forward.
presume to address me but in your class-a need I cannot escape. But go, rather. Oh! do as I proposed to you. Leave us.
Let me work out my It is to restore the school to my protector's hands better than I found it. The power, the gift, the opportunity--all are mine. Nothing but your childish malice could have obstructed me, and your own act has made that harmless. Yet you
for your open enmity. I can deal with such opponents. I sent for you to say so, and to add one word—Beware!"
She made one step towards him, and the strange meaning in her eyes almost made Harry recoil.
The boy came back from that interview looking as though he had seen a ghost. We did not for a long time afterwards learn what had passed. Harry was mysterious. We did, however, find out that an utter change had taken place in the feelings of our schoolfellow, and that all rebellion, on his part, was at an end.
task in peace.
'Twas not ours thy life to save,
BROODING OVER DEATH :-AN ILLUSTRATION FROM " Aspen COURT"_EXCERPTS
TO THE PURPOSE (MORE OR LESS) PROM Bacon, VAUVENARGUES, FR. SCHLEGEL, THOMAS HOOD - SHAKSPEARE CRITICISED BY MASSON -Swift's WAKING THOUGHTS-YOUNG'S DARKENED STUDY-DONNE'S MEMENTO MORI PORTRAIT
- AN AVOWAL FROM MONTAIGNE - A PENSÉE FROM CHARLES NODIER EPISTOLARY COMMUNICATIONS FROM LORD BOLINGBROKE, DEAN SWIFT, AND DR. SOUTHEY.
If I must die, I'll snatch at everything
That may remind me of my latest breath;
That this sable king of fears
QUARLES: Midnight Meditations. From those who systematically avoid the contemplation of death, in any of its forms, indeed in all its associations, turn we to another and opposed class,—to those, namely, who, from whatever motive or impulse (morbid or otherwise), habitually cherish the thought of the inevitable hour, brood over it with a sort of fascinated constancy, or seek with methodical determination to familiarise themselves with its possibilities and its certainty.
A striking picture of one over whom his sense of mortality broods like the night, is to be found in the character of Eustace Trevelyan, in “ Aspen Court.” A sudden and violent death has bereaved him of the lady of his love. Ever since that shock, the fear of Death has literally overcome him. To this terror, we read, he yielded himself with a species of involuntary readiness. “ He spoke of it, he read of it, he surrounded himself with all that might remind him of it, and yet it would throw him into
paroxysms like those which shake the frame of the victim to hydrophobia when the plash of water is heard, or its surging seen. It was the fear of the death itself, and not of what might be beyond, that tortured him. He would sit for hours, reciting passages with which his religious avocation had stored his memory, and in which the tomb is spoken of as a prison-house, as a pit, as a place of darkness and forgetfulness. And these he would vary with verses, sung in a moaning key, and culled from all those grim hymns with which unauthorised expounders have, through years, terrified young and sensitive minds, by a cruel mingling of the material and the spiritual; those lyrics, too coarse for the Greek mythology, too grovelling for the worshipper of Odin, but accepted as Christian interpretations of the most refined and the most exalted mysteries.”
“İt seemeth to me," writes Bacon, in the De Augmentis Scientiarum, “that most of the doctrines of the philosophers are more fearful and cautionary than the nature of things requireth. So have they increased the fear of death in offering to cure it: for when they would have a man's whole life to be but a discipline or preparation to die, they must needs make men think that it is a terrible enemy, against whom there is no