Yet, with what a sweet, remonstrating, expostulating call the music came after him, with its plaining at his desertion! Fainter and sweeter it came, and died out with a wailing sob, as the night, with its storm and darkness, blotted him out!
Mrs. Ford, who may have anticipated his attendance at the supper-table, missed him. His late partner in the dance cast her eyes inquiringly through the thronged rooms. She remarked to Julia that she believed Mr. Ridgeley had left, and thought it very strange. Julia said she presumed he had, and did not say what she thought.
Most of the elders left early; the young people danced the music and themselves away, and the gray, belated dawn of the next day looked coldly into the windows of a sacked, soiled, and silent house.
Bart devoted himself unselfishly and unsparingly to his school, to all its duties and to all his scholars, and especially to the children of the poor, and the backward pupils. He went early to the house, and remained late. He was the tender, considerate, elder brother of the scholars, and was astonished at his power to win regard, and maintain order. Order maintained itself after one memorable occasion—one to which he never referred, and of which he did not like to hear. It made his school famous, and drew to it many visitors, and to himself no little curiosity and attention.
He endeavored to carry on his law-reading; but beyond reviewing—and not very thoroughly—Blackstone, he could do little. As usual, he was homesick; and whenever a week was ended he left the school-house for his mother’s, and never returned until the following Monday morning.
His kind patrons noticed with surprise that he seemed sad and depressed after the expulsion of Grid, and that this gloominess was deepened about the time of Snow’s ball.
Barton came to take a real pleasure in his school. Formed to love everything, and without the power of hating, or of long retaining a resentment, he became attached to his little flock, especially the younger ones, and was loved in return by them, without reserve or doubt. He did much to improve, not alone the minds of the older pupils, but to soften and refine the manners of the young men under his charge; while the young women, always inclined to idealize, found how pleasant it was to receive little acts of gentlemanly attention from him.
In the afternoon of a long, bright, March day—one of those wondrous days, glorious above with sky and sun, and joyous with the first note of the blue-bird—the little red school-house by the margin of the maple-woods was filled with the pupils and their parents, assembled for the last time. Bart, in a low voice, tremulous with emotion, bade them all good-by, and most of them forever, and taking his little valise, walked with a saddened heart back to his mother. This time he had not failed, and he never was to fail again.