“I know you will, my boy. Is your money all safe?”

“Yes,” said Tom, diving into one pocket to make sure.

“And your keys?” said the Squire.

“All right,” said Tom, diving into the other pocket.

“Well then, good night. God bless you! I’ll tell Boots to call you, and be up to see you off.”

Tom was carried off by the chambermaid in a brown study, from which he was roused in a clean little attic, by that buxom person calling him a little darling and kissing him as she left the room; which indignity he was too much surprised to resent. And still thinking of his father’s last words, and the look with which they were spoken, he knelt down and prayed, that, come what might, he might never bring shame or sorrow on the dear folk at home.

Indeed, the Squire’s last words deserved to have their effect, for they had been the result of much anxious thought. All the way up to London he had pondered what he should say to Tom by way of parting advice; something that the boy could keep in his head ready for use. By way of assisting meditation, he had even gone the length of taking out his flint and steel and tinder, and hammering away for a quarter of an hour till he had manufactured a light for a long Trichinopoli cheroot, which he silently puffed; to the no small wonder of Coachee, who was an old friend, and an institution on the Bath road, and who always expected a talk on the prospects and doings, agricultural and social, of the whole county when he carried the Squire.

To condense the Squire’s meditation, it was somewhat as follows: “I won’t tell him to read his Bible, and love and serve God; if he don’t do that for his mother’s sake and teaching, he won’t for mine. Shall I go into the sort of temptations he’ll meet with? No, I can’t do that. Never do for an old fellow to go into such things with a boy. He won’t understand me. Do him more harm than good, ten to one. Shall I tell him to mind his work, and say he’s sent to school to make himself a good scholar? Well, but he isn’t sent to school for that—at any rate, not for that mainly. I don’t care a straw for Greek particles, or the digamma; no more does his mother. What is he sent to school for? Well, partly because he wanted so to go. If he’ll only turn out a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a gentleman, and a Christian, that’s all I want,” thought the Squire; and upon this view of the case he framed his last words of advice to Tom, which were well enough suited to his purpose.

For they were Tom’s first thoughts as he tumbled out of bed at the summons of Boots, and proceeded rapidly to wash and dress himself. At ten minutes to three he was down in the coffee-room in his stockings, carrying his hat-box, coat, and comforter in his hand; and there he found his father nursing a bright fire, and a cup of hot coffee and a hard biscuit on the table.

“Now then, Tom, give us your things here, and drink this; there’s nothing like starting warm, old fellow.”

Tom addressed himself to the coffee, and prattled away while he worked himself into his shoes and his great coat, well warmed through; a Petersham coat with velvet collar, made tight after the abominable fashion of those days. And just as he is swallowing his last mouthful, winding his comforter round his throat, and tucking the ends into the breast of his coat, the horn sounds, Boots looks in and says, “Tally- ho, sir”; and they hear the ring and the rattle of the four fast trotters and the town-made drag, as it dashes up to the Peacock.

“Anything for us, Bob?” says the burly guard, dropping down from behind, and slapping himself across the chest.

“Young genl’m’n, Rugby; three parcels, Leicester; hamper o’ game, Rugby,” answers Ostler.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.