‘Some one must be sitting up for you—are we safe?’ she said.
Heriot laughed, and pressed for the portrait.
’It is all I have. Why should you not have it? I want to be remembered.’
She sobbed as she said this and disappeared. Heriot still talked into her room. I thought I heard a noise of the garden-door opening. A man came out rushing at the ladder. I called in terror: ’Mr. Boddy, stop, sir.’ He pushed me savagely aside, pitching his whole force against the ladder. Heriot pulled down Julia’s window; he fell with a heavy thump on the ground, and I heard a shriek above. He tried to spring to his feet, but dropped, supported himself on one of his hands, and cried:
’All right; no harm done; how do you do, Mr. Boddy? I thought I’d try one of the attics, as we were late, not to disturb the house. I ’m not hurt, I tell you,’ he cried as loud as he could.
The usher’s words were in a confusion of rage and inquiries. He commanded Heriot to stand on his legs, abused him, asked him what he meant by it, accused him of depravity, of crime, of disgraceful conduct, and attempted to pluck him from the spot.
‘Hands off me,’ said Heriot; ’I can help myself. The youngster ’ll help me, and we’ll go round to the front door. I hope, sir, you will behave like a gentleman; make no row here, Mr. Boddy, if you’ve any respect for people inside. We were upset by Mr. Salter’s carriage; it’s damaged my leg, I believe. Have the goodness, sir, to go in by your road, and we’ll go round and knock at the front door in the proper way. We shall have to disturb the house after all.’
Heriot insisted. I was astonished to see Boddy obey him and leave us, after my dear Heriot had hopped with his hand on my shoulder to the corner of the house fronting the road. While we were standing alone a light cart drove by. Heriot hailed it, and hopped up to the driver.
‘Take me to London, there’s a good fellow,’ he said; ’I’m a gentleman; you needn’t look fixed. I’ll pay you well and thank you. But quick. Haul me up, up; here’s my hand. By jingo! this is pain.’
The man said, ‘Scamped it out of school, sir?’
Heriot replied: ‘Mum. Rely on me when I tell you I’m a gentleman.’
‘Well, if I pick up a gentleman, I can’t be doing a bad business,’ said the man, hauling him in tenderly.
Heriot sung to me in his sweet manner, ’Good-bye, little Richie. Knock when five minutes are over. God bless you, dear little lad! Leg ’ll get well by morning, never fear for me; and we’ll meet somehow; we’ll drink the Burgundy. No crying. Kiss your hand to me.’
I kissed my hand to him. I had no tears to shed; my chest kept heaving enormously. My friend was gone. I stood in the road straining to hear the last of the wheels after they had long been silent.