The boy endured all the rage and scorn that a threat so contrary to all schoolboy codes of honour and friendship might deserve. I believe Alured struck him, but at any rate Trevor Lea gained his point, though at the cost of a desperate quarrel.
Alured held aloof and sulked at him for the remaining fortnight at home, and only vouchsafed the explanation to us that “Lea was a horrid little sneak, and he had done with him.”
They did not make it up till they met in the same house at Eton, and then, though Trevor was placed far above Alured, they became as friendly as ever. In fact, I believe, Alured, having imprudently denominated himself by his full title, was having it kicked out of him, when the fortunate possessor of the monosyllabic name came and stood by him and made common cause, to the entire renewing of love.
Poor Trevor! his was a dreary home. His mother loved him passionately, but she was an anxious, worn, disappointed woman, always craving, restless and expectant of something, and Perrault was always tormenting her for money. He was deeply in debt, and though he could not touch the bulk of her fortune—neither, indeed, could she, as it was conveyed to trustees—he was always demanding money of her, and bullying her; while matters grew worse and worse, and they were in danger of having to let Spinney Lawn and go to live abroad.
As to keeping Trevor at Eton that was becoming impossible. At Christmas the tutor consulted Fulk about how he should get Lea’s bills paid, and intimated that he must not return unless this were done.
And poor Trevor himself had little comfort except with us. We encouraged him to come to us, for we had all come to have a very real love for the dear lad himself, and we saw he was unhappy at home; besides that, it was the only way of keeping Alured contented.
Trevor had entirely left off inviting Alured to Spinney Lawn. Partly, he was too gentlemanly and good a boy not to be ashamed of the men who hung about the stables; and besides, we now perceive that the same awful impression that was on Emily Deerhurst was upon him, and that he had a sense that Trevorsham was regarded in a manner that made his presence there a peril.
He was but a boy, and it was an undefined horror, and he never breathed a word of it; but oh, there was a weight on that young brow, an anxious look about the face, and though now and then he would be all joy and fun, still there was the older, more sorrowful look about him.
We thought he was grieving at not going back to Eton, and Fulk was living in hopes of an answer to the letter he had written to Francis Dayman about it, but that was not all. One day—Christmas Eve it was—Mr. Cradock, on coming into the church to look at the holly wreaths, found Trevor kneeling on his father’s gravestone in the pavement, sobbing as if his heart was breaking, and heard between the sobs a broken prayer about “Forgive”—“don’t let them do it”—“turn mother’s heart.”