’You are not bitten with the nonsense about personal dignity and corporal punishment?’ said James.
’By no means. I have an infinite respect for the great institution of flogging; but a solemn execution is one thing, a random stroke another.’
’Theories are very good things till you come to manage two score dunces without sense or honour. There is only one sort of appeal to their feelings that tells.’
‘Maybe so, but I have my doubts whether you are the man to make it.’
Louis was sorry he had so spoken, for a flush of pain came up in James’s face at the remembrance of what Fitzjocelyn had long ago forgotten—a passionate blow given to deter him from a piece of wilful mischief, in which he was persisting for the mere amusement of provoking. It stood out among all other varieties of cuff, stroke, and knock, by the traces it had left, by Mrs. Frost’s grief at it, and the forgiveness from the Earl, and it had been the most humiliating distress of James’s childhood. It humbled him even now, and he answered—
’You may be right, Louis; I may be not sufficiently altered since I was a boy. I have struck harder than I intended more than once, and I have told the boys so.’
’I am sure, if they had any generosity, they would have been touched with your amends,’ cried Isabel.
‘After all, a schoolmaster’s life does not tend to mend the temper,’ concluded James, sighing, and passing his hand over his forehead.
‘No,’ thought Louis, ‘nor does Isabel’s mutton!’
THE CONWAY HOUSEHOLD.
And ye shall walk in silk attire,
And siller hae to spare,
Gin ye’ll consent to be his bride,
Nor think of Donald mair.
What makes you so lame to-day?’ asked Lord Ormersfield, as Louis crossed the library, on returning from an interview to which he had been summoned in another room.
’I only stumbled over an obstruction on the Frost staircase yesterday,’ aaid Louis. ’Poor Jem chose to have me up to the nursery; and to see him in the paternal character is the funniest as well as the pleasantest spectacle the house affords.’
‘Ah! it is not what it was,’ said the Earl. ’I suppose I must call there before the holidays, though,’ he added, reluctantly. ’But what did that man, Ramsbotham, want with you?’
‘To ask our interest for that appointment for his friend Grant.’
‘Indeed! what could bring him here?’
’Why, unluckily, he fancied he had some claim on me, on the score of Jem Frost’s election. I was too innocent then to know what those things go for.’
‘You may say so!’ ejaculated the Earl. ’So he was insolent enough to bring that up, was he?’
‘Worse,’ said Fitzjocelyn; ’he wanted to threaten that, unless I would oblige him now, there were matters which it was his duty to lay before the trustees. I told him he would do, of course, whatever was his duty; whereupon he thought my Lordship was interested in Mr. Frost.’