“Carlton, my dear fellow, you must really excuse me for thus keeping you waiting; I assure you I could not get away a moment sooner. You can easily imagine the sort of thing, leaving the companionship of those whom for years you have been associated with in many a frolic or academical scrape; but to the point; in what way can I serve you?”
Carlton drew forth a sealed packet from the pocket of his gown, which he handed to him, saying as he did so, “you will confer on me a great favor by calling at Vellenaux and giving this packet into the hand of Miss Effingham. I would rather she should receive it when alone, you will manage this for me, will you not?”
“Certainly, most certainly. I perfectly understand, ah you sly dog; after the pretty heiress are you? I admire your choice, and would I think take the field against you, but for my darling cousin Kate, she will not allow me to flirt with any but herself, so I will do my best for you.”
Arthur thanked him heartily, and after a few more words the friends parted, one for his home at the Willows, the other for his small room in the college.
Tom Barton kept his promise, and the packet was duly handed to Edith by him, he having met her walking in the home park the very day of his arrival.
The time for Arthur’s leaving College had now arrived. A few brief lines from Sir Jasper, informing him that he was to leave College at the end of this term for good, but in no way hinting what his future position through life might be, with a small note enclosed from Edith, was all that he had heard from Devonshire since his friend, Tom Barton, had left Oxford; but it was evident from the tone of the Baronet’s epistle that he expected him to make Vellenaux his home, at least for the present or until some arrangements could be made for his future.
He was now nineteen, nearly six feet in height and possessed an amount of strength and muscular power seldom met with at his age. These had been developed and matured by boat-racing, cricket and athletic exercises, in which he took great delight. He was likewise an ardent lover of field sports. From the old Lodge keeper, who had been a rough rider in Sir Jasper’s troop in the light Dragoons through the greater part of the Peninsular Campaign, he acquired the knowledge of how to sit the saddle and ride like a dragoon, likewise the complete management of his horse; nor was the sabre (the favorite weapon of the old soldier) forgotten, and many a clout and bruise did the youth receive before he could satisfy his instructor as to his efficiency. Being of an obliging disposition, the game keepers took a great deal of trouble to make him a first rate shot, and their exertions were not thrown away, and very proud they were at the way in which he brought down his birds.