At length it was over. The last sound of wheels had died away; and during those hours the hearts of parents and children felt the bitterness of death. Mrs. Trevor and Fanny, themselves filled with grief, still used all their unselfish endeavors to comfort their dear boys. Vernon, weary of crying, soon sank to sleep; but not so Eric. He sat on a low stool, his face buried in his hands, breaking the stillness every now and then with his convulsive sobs.
“O Aunty,” he cried, “do you think I shall ever see them again? I have been so wicked, and so little grateful for all their love. O, I wish I had thought at Roslyn how soon I was to lose them.”
“Yes, dearest,” said Mrs. Trevor, “I have no doubt we shall all meet again soon. Your father is only going for five years, you know, and that will not seem very long. And then they will be writing continually to us, and we to them. Think, Eric, how gladdened their hearts will be to hear that you and Vernon are good boys, and getting on well.”
“O, I will be a better boy, I will indeed,” said Eric; “I mean to do great things, and they shall have nothing but good reports of me.”
“God helping you, dear,” said his aunt, pushing back his hair from his forehead, and kissing it softly; “without his help, Eric, we are all weak indeed.”
She sighed. But how far deeper her sigh would have been had she known the future. Merciful is the darkness that shrouds it from human eyes!
ERIC A BOARDER
“We were, fair
Two lads that thought there was no more behind,
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.”—WINTER’S TALE, i. 2.
The holidays were over. Vernon was to have a tutor at Fairholm, and Eric was to return alone, and be received into Dr. Rowlands’ house.
As he went on board the steam-packet, he saw numbers of the well-known faces on deck, and merry voices greeted him.
“Hallo, Williams! here you are at last,” said Duncan, seizing his hand. “How have you enjoyed the holidays? It’s so jolly to see you again.”
“So you’re coming as a boarder,” said Montagu, “and to our noble house, too. Mind you stick up for it, old fellow. Come along, and let’s watch whether the boats are bringing any more fellows; we shall be starting in a few minutes.”
“Ha! there’s Russell,” said Eric, springing to the gangway, and warmly shaking his friend’s hand as he came on board.
“Have your father and mother gone, Eric?” said Russell, after a few minutes’ talk.
“Yes,” said Eric, turning away his head, and hastily brushing his eyes. “They are on their way back to India.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Russell; “I don’t think anyone has ever been so kind to me as they were.”
“And they loved you, Edwin, dearly, and told me, almost the last thing, that they hoped we should always be friends. Stop! they gave me something for you.” Eric opened his carpet-bag, and took out a little box carefully wrapped up, which he gave to Russell. It contained a pretty silver watch, and inside the case was engraved—“Edwin Russell, from the mother of his friend Eric.”