“O, I couldn’t be guilty, sir,” said Eric, gaily.
“Not of such a fault, perhaps. But,” he added solemnly, “there are many kinds of temptation, Eric many kinds. And they are easy to fall into. You will find it no light battle to resist them.”
“Believe me, sir, I will try,” he answered with humility.
“Jehovah-Nissi!” said Mr. Rose. “Let the Lord be your banner, Eric, and you will win the victory. God bless you.”
And as the boy’s graceful figure disappeared through the door, Mr. Rose drew his arm-chair to the fire, and sat and meditated long. He was imagining for Eric a sunny future—a future of splendid usefulness, of reciprocated love, of brilliant fame.
THE ADVENTURE AT THE STACK
“Ten cables from where green
And quiet homes could be seen,
No greater space
From peril to peace,
But the savage sea between!”—EDWIN ARNOLD.
The Easter holidays at Roslyn lasted about ten days, and as most of the boys came from a distance, they usually spent them at school. Many of the usual rules were suspended during this time, and the boys were supplied every day with pocket-money; consequently the Easter holidays passed very pleasantly, and there was plenty of fun.
It was the great time for excursions all over the island, and the boys would often be out the whole day long among the hills, or about the coast. Eric enjoyed the time particularly, and was in great request among all the boys. He was now more gay and popular than ever, and felt as if nothing were wanting to his happiness. But this brilliant prosperity was not good for him, and he felt continually that he cared far less for the reproaches of conscience than he had done in the hours of his trial; sought far less for help from God than he had done when he was lonely and neglected.
He always knew that his great safeguard was the affection of Russell. For Edwin’s sake, and for shame at the thought of Edwin’s disapproval, he abstained from many things into which he would otherwise have insensibly glided in conformation to the general looseness of the school morality. But Russell’s influence worked on him powerfully, and tended to counteract a multitude of temptations.
Among other dangerous lessons, Upton had taught Eric to smoke; and he was now one of those who often spent a part of his holidays in lurking about with pipes in their mouths at places where they were unlikely to be disturbed, instead of joining in some hearty and healthy game. When he began to “learn” smoking, he found it anything but pleasant; but a little practice had made him an adept, and he found a certain amount of enjoyable excitement in finding out cozy places by the river, where he and Upton might go and lounge for an hour to enjoy the forbidden luxury.