’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.
A TALE OF A GOOSE
From that hour till the day Heriot’s aunt came to see me, I lived systematically out of myself in extreme flights of imagination, locking my doors up, as it were, all the faster for the extremest strokes of Mr. Rippenger’s rod. He remarked justly that I grew an impenetrably sullen boy, a constitutional rebel, a callous lump: and assured me that if my father would not pay for me, I at least should not escape my debts. The title of little impostor, transmitted from the master’s mouth to the school in designation of one who had come to him as a young prince, and for whom he had not received one penny’s indemnification, naturally caused me to have fights with several of the boys. Whereupon I was reported: