When Irving introduced Lawrence to them, Westby said,—
“We hoped we were going to see you here, but we were afraid you might have to eat outside with your team.”
“Oh, I got special permission from the captain for this occasion,” said Lawrence. “I’m afraid I’m depriving somebody of his seat,” he added to Irving.
“It’s Caldwell—I arranged with him about it. He’s gone to Mr. Randolph’s table.”
“Besides, he’s only a Fourth Former,” said Westby.
Lawrence laughed. “You’re Sixth, I suppose?” Westby nodded. “Going to Harvard next year?”
“Good for you. I’ll tell you one thing; you couldn’t have a better man to get you in than this brother of mine—if I do say it. He tutored me for Harvard—and I guess you’ve never had a worse blockhead, have you, Irv?”
“Oh, you were all right in some things, Lawrence.”
“I’d like to know what. How I used to try your patience, though!” Lawrence chuckled, then turned and addressed the boys, especially Westby and Carroll, as they were the oldest. “Did any of you ever see him mad?”
“Oh, surely never that,” said Westby urbanely. “Irritated perhaps, but not mad—never lacking in self-control.”
Westby, thinking himself safe, ventured upon his humorous wink to Blake and the others who were grinning; Lawrence intercepted it and at once fixed Westby with a penetrating gaze.
Westby colored and looked down; Lawrence held his eyes on him until Westby looked up and then, in even greater embarrassment under this prolonged scrutiny, down again. Then Lawrence turned to his brother.
“Tell me, Irv,” he said in a tone that simply brushed aside as non-existent everybody else at the table—just as if he and his brother were talking together alone, “what sort of kids do you have to look after in your dormitory, anyhow?”
Irving’s lip twitched with amusement; Westby, still scarlet, was looking at his plate. “Oh, a pretty good sort—but they’re Sixth Formers, you know—not kids.”
“Pretty fresh, are they—trying to show off a good deal and be funny?”
“Oh, one or two only; still, even they aren’t bad.”
Lawrence paid no further attention to Westby. Now and then he spoke to Carroll and to Blake, but most of his conversation—and it dealt with the sort of college life about which boys liked to hear, and about which Irving had never been able to enlighten them—he addressed directly to his brother.
Westby listened to it gloomily; there were many questions that he wanted to ask, but now he did not dare. Evidently Mr. Upton had warned his brother against him, had imparted to his brother his own dislike; that was why Lawrence had nipped so brutally his harmless, humorous allusion to the master’s temper.
As a matter of fact, Lawrence had had no previous knowledge whatever of Westby; Irving had always withstood his impulse to confide his troubles. He made now an effort to draw Westby forward and reinstate him in the conversation; he said,—