But, as he had said, Brigson’s reign was over. Looks of the most unmitigated disgust and contempt were darted at him, as he sat alone and shunned at the end of the table; and the boys seemed now to loathe and nauseate the golden calf they had been worshipping. He had not done blubbering even yet, when the prayer-bell rang. No sooner had Mr. Rose left the room than Wildney, his dark eyes sparkling with rage, leaped on the table, and shouted—
“Three groans, hoots, and hisses, for a liar and a coward,” a sign of execration which he was the first to lead off, and which the boys echoed like a storm.
Astonished at the tumult, Mr. Rose re-appeared at the door. “Oh, we’re not hissing you, sir,” said Wildney excitedly; “we’re all hissing at lying and cowardice.”
Mr. Rose thought the revulsion of feeling might do good, and he was striding out again, without a word, when—
“Three times three for Mr. Rose,” sang out Wildney.
Never did a more hearty or spontaneous cheer burst from the lips and lungs of fifty boys than that. The news had spread like wildfire to the studies, and the other boys came flocking in during the uproar, to join in it heartily. Cheer after cheer rang out like a sound of silver clarions from the clear boy-voices; and in the midst of the excited throng stood Eric and Montagu, side by side, hurrahing more lustily than all the rest.
But Mr. Rose, in the library, was on his knees, with moving lips and lifted hands. He coveted the popular applause as little as he had dreaded the popular opposition; and the evening’s painful experiences had taught him anew the bitter lesson to expect no gratitude, and hope for no reward, but simply, and contentedly, and unmurmuringly, to work on in God’s vineyard so long as life and health should last.
Brigson’s brazen forehead bore him through the disgrace which would have crushed another. But still he felt that his position at Roslyn could never be what it had been before, and he therefore determined to leave at once. By grossly calumniating the school, he got his father to remove him, and announced, to every one’s great delight, that he was going in a fortnight. On his last day, by way of bravado, he smashed and damaged as much of the school property as he could, a proceeding which failed to gain him any admiration, and merely put his father to ruinous expense.
The day after his exposure Eric had cut him dead, without the least pretence of concealment; an example pretty generally followed throughout the school.
In the evening Brigson went up to Eric and hissed in his ear, “You cut me, curse you; but, never fear, I’ll be revenged on you yet.”
“Do your worst,” answered Eric, contemptuously, “and never speak to me again.”
“Our echoes roll
from soul to soul,
And live for ever and for ever.”—TENNYSON.