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Why, my dear, that is the very thing,” said her husband; “of course it is. School is the thing to take the nonsense out of a fellow.” Sir Joseph felt as if he had solved the hardest of problems. He repeated with gusto the sentence about taking the nonsense out of a fellow, and shut up his books.
Miss Harefel only sighed. She felt that another object of interest was about to be taken from her life. She had a keen sense of her neighbours' duty to herself, but had been long resigned to the selfishness of the world..
Thus it became an accepted fact in the family that Irvine Dale should go to school; and the president dismissed the conference with the consoling remark that, “after all, boys will be boys.'
"We boys are all growing up together.
MORNING after morning awoke in freshness and beauty. There was rain enough to keep the grass green and to quicken the ancient elms. There was enough water in the river, which spread itself in the new light. Wayward it runs beside the Eton playing-fields; wayward but charming, sweeping against the bank, laughing over the shallows, hurrying, pausing, curling back with countless dimples and eddies, but still running swiftly away. It has caught something of the boys' nature-impulsive and wilful, idle and keen, with quick succession of sun and shadow passing over the surface, tender and ashamed of tenderness, loving and mocking, quick to feel and quick to forget, full of little weaknesses but slowly growing in strength.
The summer days, so much alike in beauty, were all unlike to Irvine Dale. Some seemed fresh from Paradise, others not. He fancied himself the sport of a capricious fortune, which his tutor called want of method. One day he was late for everything, mainly occupied with punishments—listless, if not defiant. The next he was brisk and lively, answering many questions, playing with delight, chattering about everything and laughing about nothing. From such agreeable moods a word, almost a look, would hurl him to the depths. He took heedless speeches seriously, saw unkindness where there was but want of thought; and, indeed, was to some extent the earthen pot among the brazen vessels. Boys snub each other with engaging frankness, and forget in a moment. But Dale, even when a small boy, was apt to brood over snubs if given by a friend; and young friends are undeniably quick in rebuking a comrade's conceit. Yet, when Dale had been a year at Eton, after many rubs and buffets, after bruising himself more or less against several unimaginative companions, after days of routine and days of disorder, he was fairly well adapted to his position, and found much enjoyment in a summer of unusual beauty.
One fine morning Sir Joseph came from town to see his son and nephew, Sir Joseph with wellbrushed hat, and frock-coat neatly buttoned across his ample waistcoat; wearing, moreover, an expression of overflowing kindliness, which was becoming in one who revisited the haunts of his childhood, and which caused hungry little boys to finger their empty waistcoat-pockets. He was followed by a bevy of ladies : Lady Harefel in a motherly mood; Miss Susan recalling the touching lines about “the little victims regardless of their doom;” Mrs Adare, languid, gentle, beautifully dressed; and by her side, subdued for once into a strange quiet by the neighbourhood of so many boys, the bright-eyed Katharine. Sir Joseph, relieved from many commissions and legislative duties, expanded like a rose. He nodded into shops, where he had been long forgotten; hailed an ancient wheeler of tarts, who pretended to remember his father; remarked on passing boys in a genial tone, which inspired those young gentlemen with contempt, and made his nephew Irvine quiver. The boy was much excited, and only happy by fits and starts. To submit so many female friends to the criticism of school-fellows was embarrassing, and it was difficult to prevent his uncle from outspoken admiration even of the greatest swells. If his comments on the captain of the boats should reach the ears of that official, what might not happen? When the party were at last gathered safely in Harefel's room, which was filled in every corner, Dale breathed more freely. They admired everything: the ingenious bed, which disguised itself by day; the “sock” cupboard, which held the battered teapot, the cups and saucers, the knives not dangerously sharp, some jam-pots, half a stale cake, an odd skate, and a hammer; the engravings of dogs, each bearing in its mouth an appropriate bird; the small square looking-glass, with which its nail would rise higher and higher with its master's growth; the almanac for the half, enlivened by red-lettered holidays; the deal-table carved by successive amateurs ambitious of preserving their names, but modestly covered with a cloth of gay colours subdued by ink. The chief ornament of the room, as of every other boy's room, was the bureau, which was kept studiously neat by Harefel, and displayed with pride. He explained to his admiring mother the advantage of having a chest of drawers, a desk, and a bookcase all in one. He regretted that the upper or book-portion, however carefully locked, was not proof against a skilfullyinserted knife. He pointed out the pigeon-holes in