I never could get Fulk to share my alarms about Alured, but he did not think Perrault’s society fit for the boy, told Alured so, and forbade him to go to Spinney Lawn. But though Alured was much improved as to obedience, it was almost impossible to enforce this command. Hester had some strange fascination for him. She would fiercely caress him at times, and he knew she was his sister, and could not see why, when she was often alone, he should not be with her. The passion for Trevor was in full force, too, and the boys could not be content only to meet at the farm. We tried sending Alured to make visits from home in the holidays, but he did not like it, and he was not happy; his heart was with his home, and with Trevor. We tried having a tutor for the spring holidays before he went to Eton, but it did not answer. He was not a sensible man, did not like dining in the keeping-room with the household, and though he did it, he showed that he thought it a condescension.
Moreover, instead of attending to Alured, he was always trying to flirt with Jaquetta, infinitely disturbing Arthur Cradock’s peace; and the end of it was, that Alured was a great deal more left to his own devices than ever he had been before, and exasperated besides.
He was in that mood, when one day, as he was riding along the lanes, he met Perrault and Trevor coming in from hunting.
Alured had a very pretty pony, but he was growing rather large for it, and Fulk had promised that, if he worked well at Eton, he should have a lovely little Arab, that was being trained by a dealer he knew; and that another year, Fulk himself would go out hunting with him.
Perrault began to pity him for having missed the run. Why did not his brother take him out? Fulk’s old mare was a sort of elephant, and it was not convenient to get another horse just then. That Alured knew and explained, but he was pitied the more for being kept back, and Perrault ended by saying that if on the next hunting day he could meet them at the corner of the park, a capital mount should be there for him.
The hour was attainable if Alured made haste with his studies, and he accepted gladly, and without compunction. Fulk had never in so many words forbidden him, and besides, Fulk had delegated his authority to the hateful tutor.
But the next morning, before Alured was up Trevor was in his bedroom. “You won’t go, Trevorsham?”
“Yes, I shall; I’m not such a muff as to stay for that fellow.”
But I need not try to tell what passed, as of course I did not hear it; I never so much as knew of it till long after, only Trevorsham was determined, and Trevor tried all round the due arguments of principle, honour, and duty; but Alured had worked up a schoolboy self-justification on all points, and besides had the stronghold of “I will,” and “I don’t care.”
Then Trevor told him, under his breath, he was sure it was not a safe horse. But my high-spirited boy laughed this to scorn. “And perhaps he’ll play you some trick,” added Trevor. But Trevorsham was still undaunted in his self-will, till Trevor resolutely announced his determination, if nothing else would stop it, of going at once to Fulk, and informing him.