As to work, Jock was developing the utmost faculties for leaving it undone, trusting to his native facility for putting on the steam at any crisis; and not believing in the warnings that he would fail in passing for the army.
What was to be done with him? Was he to be taken away and sent to a tutor? His mother consulted himself as he sat in his arm-chair.
“Like Rob!” he said, and made up a face.
“Rob is doing very well in the militia.”
“No; don’t do that, mother! Never fear, I’ll put on a spurt when the time comes!”
“I don’t believe a spurt will do. Now, seriously, Jock-”
“Don’t say, seriously, mother: it’s like H.S.H.”
“Perhaps if I had been like her, you would not be vexing me so much now.”
“Come, come, mother, it’s nothing to be vexed about. My tutor needn’t have bothered you. I’ve done nothing sneaking nor ungentlemanly.”
“There is plenty of wrong without that, Jock. While you never heed anything but fun and amusement I do not see how you are to come to anything worth having; and you will soon get betrayed into something unworthy. Don’t let me have to take you away in disgrace, my boy; it would break my heart.”
“You shan’t have to do that, mother.”
“But don’t you think it would be wiser to be somewhere with fewer inducements to idleness?”
“Leave Eton? O no, mother! I can’t do that till the last day possible. I shall be in the eight another year.”
“You will not be here another year unless you go on very differently. Your tutor will not allow it, if I would.”
“Has he said so?”
“Yes; and the next half is to be the trial.”
Jock applied himself to extracting a horsehair from the stuffing of the elbow of his chair; and there was a look over his face as near sullenness as ever came to his gay, careless nature.
Would he attend? or even could he?
When his bills came in Caroline feared, as before, that he was the one of all her children whom Belforest was most damaging. Allen was expensive, but in an elegant, exquisite kind of way; but Jock was simply reckless ; and his pleasures were questionable enough to be on the borders of vices, which might change the frank, sweet, merry face that now looked up to her into a countenance stained by dissipation and licence!
A flash of horror and dismay followed the thought! But what could she do for him, or for any of her children? Censure only alienated them and made them worse, and their love for her was at least one blessing. Why had this gold come to take away the wholesome necessity for industry?
Cold, cold, ’tis a chilly clime
That the youth in his journey hath reached;
And he is aweary now,
And faint for lack of food.
Cold! cold! there is no sun in heaven.