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earnestly and resolutely, with no reserve of thought or wish, but “straight to the mark,” having only one object in view and hastening towards it. If he could not command success he must at least deserve it, and that would entail a great deal of hard work, and probably in the end a serious mortification.
Wearied with these thoughts, tossing from side to side upon his pillow, the night wore on, and already the dawn began to show itself before he fell asleep. He was up in good time, however, the next morning, and when Mrs. Howard came downstairs she found him already looking over some books which he had taken from his school-box. They exchanged glances, the boy colouring a little, and turning away his eyes from her for a moment. His resolution was taken, and she knew it; and when he felt the warm, lingering pressure of his mother's lips upon his cheek, he had already begun to reap the reward of the labour and self-denial which were to follow.
DOING HIS BEST.
That dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood.-Charles Lamb.
north, south, east, and west at Abbotscliff. Most of them came by late trains, the latest that were practicable; taking good care, however, to be punctual, and to use the proper Bradshaw. Some of them were a little of out of spirits at leaving their friends, but they made the best of it, and knew by past experience that the home-sickness would soon pass away, and that they should be all right again in two or three
, days. Little Martin, who was obliged to leave home at an early hour, arrived at his destination in the afternoon, and went down to the station in the evening, to look out for his friend Howard, and to exchange congratulations or condolences.
“I have a message for you,” said Martin, as soon as they were together. “Guess who sent it.”
“ Your mother?”
“ Yes; Mr Strafford. He has got a new housekeeper, and there has been quite a row at his house. Mrs. Daunt kept on saying that she would not stay-until the new one came, and then she changed her tone, and said she would not go. And she told every one Mr. Strafford had promised to marry her; and she has been to a lawyer about it; and there is to be an action, and damages, and everything."
“Nonsense!” said Tom.
“He says he did not, and never thought of such a thing. That is what the message is about. You are not to believe anything of the kind, and not to listen to any of the tales you may have heard about him, but to think of him as a friend, and to go and see him whenever you can. He says he shall not forget you, and he hopes you will not forget him; and you are to write to him, and tell him how you are getting on. We can't make out what you have done to Mr. Strafford. He is quite a different man from what he used to be. Hares, the keeper, says so; and so does Mrs. Hares, and every body. And you remember that old cottage of Pollard's, where the rain came in upon Pollard's wife? Well, he has had the roof repaired, and everything put in order, and he sent the doctor to see her, and gave her whatever the doctor ordered; and they say he is going to lower his rents and to repair his cottages all round. And he has been to church, and has called on my father about the schools, and has given ever so much money for people who were in want; and when he meets any one, instead of looking away from them as he used to do, he 'passes the time of day, as the people call it. It is the talk of the neighbourhood, I can tell you. Some say it's only a freak of the moment; others that he had a 'stroke’ and fell down in the yard, and got frightened about himself, and wants to get a way made for him to go to heaven; others think that it's the new housekeeper's doing. She is a very different woman from Mrs. Daunt—more of a lady, and keeps two or three servants; but Hares, the keeper, says it's your doing, and so does Mrs. Hares. Oh, and by the bye, they sent a message, too, ‘respect and dooty. You are quite in favour with them all. You will have to come and see us again next holidays; my father says so.”
No," Tom answered; “I am afraid I shall not be able to do that. My mother will be at home, you know.”
“At Easter, then ?”
Tom sighed. “A great deal was to be done before Easter," he said. “He did not know how things might turn out.”
“What sort of things ?” Martin asked.
“I am going to work hard this term and next,” he said; " and then we shall see.”
“You always do work hard."
“Not as I mean to, though. I don't intend to lose a minute if I can help it."
"I am sorry for that; but you won't give up the field club, I hope ?”
This was not a cheerful way of beginning the new term, and Martin dropped the subject. The evening was closing in, and the weather was overcast, and when they arrived at the college, and Tom found himself again in the common room, with its naked walls, its long tables, and its bare boards, and the murmur