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the desk, and the little drawers, which seemed to invite the accumulation of string and nails, broken knife-blades, and other curiosities. Lady Harefel glanced round upon her friends, as who would say, “Am I not a blessed woman? Was ever any other boy so sensible, so affectionate, so good ?” After a pause, in which, perhaps, she gave thanks silently for the great blessing of her life, she remembered her nephew, and said, “ We must see Irvie's room, too." Dale blushed.
“You come alone, aunt Ellen,” he whispered.
Mrs Adare and her daughter, guided by Sir Joseph, who was proud of his knowledge of the houses, and brimful with local anecdote, had gone in quest of other boys who “knew them at home.” Miss Harefel, who was pensively regarding the passing youth, began to question her nephew Ned, and to ignore his answers. So Dale was able to hurry off his aunt Ellen unobserved. In the dark wooden passage he confided to her that he had meant to tidy his room, but had forgotten, and that he could not bear to show it to anybody but her. She began a motherly lecture, while he drew her along, and got her safely into his den.
“You must not try the Windsor-chair,” he said, “it has got something the matter with it."
He looked guiltily from his aunt to his bureau. The door of the bookcase had swung open, and the lock was gone. Across the sloping lid of the desk were the four letters of his name, marked boldly with a red-hot poker. There was another name written across the leaves of the “short” Ovid, which lay coverless on the table. A lonely picture hung crooked above the fireplace, and the lookingglass had been adorned with an unfading face by the clever manipulation of the quicksilver at its back. Amid the general confusion of grammars, dictionaries, and classic poets, were a few books which were more kindly treated, — Campbell's poems, a volume of Rousseau, a first manual of logic-strange works for the library of an Eton lower boy.
“Aunt Ellen,” said Irvine, presently, standing very close to her, and moving uneasily, “are you iny people ?"
“What, dear?” asked the lady.
"My people. I mean, when other fellows talk about their people, they mean their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters ; and I thought- ” .
“Of course we are your people, dear," said his aunt, smoothing his hair with her soft motherly
hand; "you know you are like a son to us, Irvie."
“Really?” cried he.
She kissed him gently for answer. She was sitting in his wooden chair, more strong than comfortable. The boy threw himself down by her feet, and leaned against her. The air stealing through the open window seemed a caress. He closed his eyes, that the tears might not fall, and felt that the whole world was full of love and tenderness for him. Meanwhile his good aunt, with hand resting on his shoulder, wondered why he was not more like other boys. She was so glad that her own Teddie was not so fanciful. She thought of her poor dead brother, and sighed over his imprudent marriage. How lucky it was that she was left to be a mother to his only child! How like he was to his own mother, that nervous, excitable woman, who had died when he was born! Poor boy! Perhaps he was not so strong as he seemed. She would speak to his tutor's wife about a tonic, or soine port wine. Sir Joseph had some excellent old port. Thus peacefully musing, aunt and nephew sat together in the untidy little room, until the worthy baronet burst in upon them, somewhat flurried and alarmed about the train. Irvine suffered at the station. He did not like being kissed before the porters, nor being tipped before the guard, who was respectfully interested in the operation. He said good-bye shyly to Miss Katharine, who was shy too; he heard his aunt Susan murmur something about a pretty picture, and was full of resentment. Finally, after alternate warnings and embraces of Lady Harefel, many shiftings of windows and rugs to suit the precise state of Mrs Adare's constitution, and some hindrance caused by Miss Susan's assistance, the party were packed into a carriage, and the train started. Irvine felt a load of responsibility lifted from his young shoulders, even while he secretly brushed away a tear. His cousin Ned, regardless of bystanders, was waving his handkerchief to Miss Katharine, whose hair of ruffled gold could still be seen at the window.
“Isn't she awfully pretty ?” asked he, with warmth.
“Is she?” said Irvine, absently. He was thinking that if aunt Ellen was to be a mother to him, he might look on the bright, popular Harefel as a brother, and the thought was very pleasant. He did not extend the argument to his uncle, for he was sure that he could not regard him as a father. Yet he feared that it was very wrong not to be fonder of Sir Joseph. He had been taught from the cradle that it was his duty to love his relations, but it seemed very hard to love anybody because he ought. This was one of the difficulties which often puzzled the young person.
"Come away,” he said, impatiently; and Harefel walked down town beside him, recalling the events of the day with eagerness and laughter.
The summer half seems endless to young boys. The days grow longer, and are full of important events. Now and again one is distinguished by a great race or good match. On one delightful afternoon Harefel lay on his rug in the playing-fields, eating cherries, which he had purchased from a stout and kindly dame. Dale was kneeling beside him, to get a better look at the batsman, who was at their tutor's.
“Do you think he will get into the eleven ?” he asked, not for the first time.
"Not this year. He is too young," said Harefel, with authority.
"I hope he will."
"I don't think he cares much. He is a cool fellow." This was said with much admiration.
As Dale was kneeling, came a friend, stepping softly, and pushed him suddenly forward on to his