“Please, sir, I think we’ll find your aralia next spring-tide.”
Whereupon General Mohun told him he was a good little chap, and presented him with a half-crown, the largest sum he had ever possessed in his life.
Fergus did not come off quite so well, for when the story had been told, though his mother had trembled and shed tears of thankfulness as she kissed him, and his sisters sprang at him and devoured him, while all the time he bemoaned his piece of the stump of an aralia, and a bit of cone of a pinus, and other treasures to which imaginative regret lent such an aid, that no doubt he would believe the lost contents of his bag to have been the most precious articles that he had ever collected; his father, however, took him into his study.
“Fergus,” he said gravely, “this is the second time your ardour upon your pursuits has caused danger and inconvenience to other people, this time to yourself too.”
Fergus hung his head, and faltered something about-"Never saw.”
“No, that is the point. Now I say nothing about your pursuits. I am very glad you should have them, and be an intelligent lad; but they must not be taken up exclusively, so as to drive out all heed to anything else. Remember, there is a great difference between courage and foolhardiness, and that you are especially warned to be careful if your venturesomeness endangers other people’s lives.”
So Fergus went off under a sense of his father’s displeasure, while Adrian lay in his bed, kicking about, admired and petted by his sister, who thought every one very unkind and indifferent to him; and when he went to sleep, began a letter to her eldest sister describing the adventure and his heroism in naming terms, such as on second thoughts she suppressed, as likely to frighten her mother, and lead to his immediate recall.
CHAPTER XI. HEROES AND HERO-WORSHIP
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.-Tempest.
Sunday morning found Anna in a different frame of mind from that of the evening before. Uncle Clement had been very ill all night, and the house was to be kept as quiet as possible. When Anna came in from early Celebration, Aunt Cherry came out looking like a ghost, and very anxious, and gave a sigh of relief on Adrian being reported still sound asleep. Gerald presently came down, pale and languid, but calling himself all right, and loitering over his breakfast till after the boy appeared, so rosy and ravenous as to cause no apprehension, except that he should devour too much apricot jam, and use his new boots too noisily on the stairs.
Anna devised walking him to Beechcroft to hear if there were any news of Fergus, and though he observed, with a certain sound of contemptuous rivalship, that there was no need, for “Merrifield was as right as a trivet,” he was glad enough to get out of doors a little sooner, and though he affected to be bored by the kind inquiries of the people they met, he carried his head all the higher for them.