Miss Matty could not speak for crying, after she had read this note. She gave it to me in silence, and then got up and took it to her sacred recesses in her own room, for fear, by any chance, it might get burnt. “Poor Peter!” she said; “he was always in scrapes; he was too easy. They led him wrong, and then left him in the lurch. But he was too fond of mischief. He could never resist a joke. Poor Peter!”
Poor Peter’s career lay before him rather pleasantly mapped out by kind friends, but Bonus Bernardus non videt omnia, in this map too. He was to win honours at the Shrewsbury School, and carry them thick to Cambridge, and after that, a living awaited him, the gift of his godfather, Sir Peter Arley. Poor Peter! his lot in life was very different to what his friends had hoped and planned. Miss Matty told me all about it, and I think it was a relief when she had done so.
He was the darling of his mother, who seemed to dote on all her children, though she was, perhaps, a little afraid of Deborah’s superior acquirements. Deborah was the favourite of her father, and when Peter disappointed him, she became his pride. The sole honour Peter brought away from Shrewsbury was the reputation of being the best good fellow that ever was, and of being the captain of the school in the art of practical joking. His father was disappointed, but set about remedying the matter in a manly way. He could not afford to send Peter to read with any tutor, but he could read with him himself; and Miss Matty told me much of the awful preparations in the way of dictionaries and lexicons that were made in her father’s study the morning Peter began.
“My poor mother!” said she. “I remember how she used to stand in the hall, just near enough the study-door, to catch the tone of my father’s voice. I could tell in a moment if all was going right, by her face. And it did go right for a long time.”