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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 299 pages of information about My Young Alcides.

We went down to breakfast, where Eustace appeared in full hunting trim, but Harold in the rough coat and long gaiters that meant farming work; and to Eustace’s invitations to the run, he replied by saying he heard that Phil Ogden had been to ask him about some difficulty in the trenching work, and he was going to see to it.  So he spent the daylight hours in one of those digging and toiling tasks of his “that three day-labourers could not end.”  I saw him coming home at six o’clock, clay up to the eyes, and having achieved wholesome hunger and wholesome sleepiness.

Eustace had come in cross.  He had been chaffed about Harold’s shirking, and being a dutiful nephew, and he did not like it at all.  He thought Harold ought to have come out for his sake, and to show they did not care.  “I do care,” said Harold.  And when Eustace, with his usual taste, mentioned that they had laughed at the poor fellow led meekly home by his aunt, Harold laid a kind hand on mine, which spoke more than words.  I had reason to think that his struggle lasted some time longer, and that the enemy he had reawakened was slow of being laid to rest, so that he was for weeks undergoing the dire conflict; but he gave as little sign as possible, and he certainly conquered.

And from that time there certainly was a change.  He was not a man without God any longer.  He had learnt that he could not keep himself straight, and had enough of the childlike nature to believe there was One who could.  I don’t mean that he came at once to be all I could have wished or figured to myself as a religious man.  He went to church on Sunday morning now, chiefly, I do believe, for love of the Confession, which was the one voice for his needs; and partly, too, because I had pressed for that outward token, thinking that it would lead him on to more; but it generally seemed more weariness than profit, and he never could sit still five minutes without falling asleep, so that he missed even those sermons of Mr. Ben Yolland’s that I thought must do him good.

I tried once, when, feeling how small my powers were beside his, to get him to talk to this same Mr. Yolland, whose work among the pottery people he tried to second, but he recoiled with a tone half scorn, half reserve, which showed that he would bear no pressure in that direction.  Only he came to my sitting-room every morning, as if kneeling with me a few moments, and reading a few short verses, were to be his safeguard for the day, and sometimes he would ask me a question.  Much did I long for counsel in dealing with him, but I durst seek none, except once, when something Mr. Ben Yolland said about his having expressed strong affection for me, made me say, “If only I were fitter to deal with him,” the answer was, “Go on as you are doing; that is better for him as yet than anything else.”

CHAPTER IX.  THE CHAMPION’S BELT.

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