Jock presently brought back tidings that his namesake was all right, except for a black eye, and was growling like ten bears at having been sent to bed.
“Uncle Robert was more angry than ever, in a white heat, quiet and terrible,” said Jock, in an awe-struck voice. “He has locked Rob up in his study, and here’s Joe, for Aunt Ellen is quite knocked up, and they want the house to be very quiet.”
No tragical consequences, however, ensued. Mother and sons both appeared the next morning, and were reported as “all right” by the first inquirer from the Folly; but Jessie came to her lessons with swollen eyelids as if she had cried half the night; and when her aunt thanked her for defending Armine, she began to cry again, and Essie imparted to Barbara that Rob was “just like a downright savage with her.”
“No; hush, Essie, it is not that,” said Jessie; “but papa is so dreadfully angry with him, and he is to be sent away, and it is all my fault.”
“But Jessie, dear, surely it is better for Rob to be stopped from those deceitful ways.”
“O yes, I know. But that I should have turned against him!” And Jessie was so thoroughly unhappy that none of her lessons prospered and her German exercise had three great tear blots on it.
Rob’s second misdemeanour had simplified matters by deciding his father on sending him from home at once into the hands of a professed coach, who would not let him elude study, and whose pupils were too big to be bullied. To the last he maintained his sullen dogged air of indifference, though there might be more truth than the Folly was disposed to allow in his sister’s allegations that it was because he did feel it so very much, especially mamma’s looking so ill and worried.
Ellen did in truth look thoroughly unhinged, though no one saw her give way. She felt her boy’s conduct sorely, and grieved at the first parting in her family. Besides, there was anxiety for the future. Rob’s manner of conducting his studies was no hopeful augury of his success, and the expenses of sending him to a tutor fell the more heavily because unexpectedly. A horse and man were given up, and Jessie had to resign the hope of her music lessons. These were the first retrenchments, and the diminution of dignity was felt.
The Colonel showed his trouble and anxiety by speaking and tramping louder than ever, ruling his gardener with severe precision, and thundering at his boys whenever he saw them idle. Both he and his wife were so elaborately kind and polite that Caroline believed that it was an act of magnanimous forgiveness for the ill luck that she and her boys had brought them. At last the Colonel had the threatened fit of the gout, which restored his equilibrium, and brought him back to his usual condition of kindly, if somewhat ponderous, good sense.
He had not long recovered before Number Nine made his appearance at Kencroft, and thus his mother had unusual facilities for inquiries of Dr. Leslie respecting the master of Belforest.