Chapter Fourteen.

Mr Carden.

“Pol pudere quam pigere proestat totidem literis.”
Plautus Trinum, Two, 2.

Who has not felt, who does not know, that one sin yielded to, that one passion uncontrolled, too often brings with it a train of other sins, and betrays the drawbridge of the citadel to a thousand enemies beside?

It had been so with Julian Home, and in proportion to the true strength and beauty of his character, was the poignancy of his bitterness when he awoke the next morning, and calmly reviewed the few last excited, prayerless, and unworthy days. Surely after so many proofs of weakness, surely after emotions and acts so violently inadequate to the circumstances which had caused them, his best friends must despise him as utterly as he despised himself.

He arose that morning strong out of weakness. He determined that he would be checked no longer by unavailing regrets, and that his repentance should be open and manly, as his prostration had been conspicuous. Fortified by the humiliating experience of his own want of strength he sought for help in resolute determination and earnest prayer. After breakfast, his first step was to call on Owen, and congratulate him with hearty and unaffected simplicity on his success—a success which Owen generously acknowledged to be due solely to Julian’s misfortune. It was much more difficult to call on Hazlet, but this, too, Julian felt to be his duty; and distasteful as it was, he would not shrink from performing it. Hazlet received him with a ludicrous air of offended dignity, and was barely overcome into a tone of magnanimous forgiveness by Julian’s frank apology. On the whole, Julian decided that it would be best not to call on Brogten, lest, by so doing, he should seem to be reminding him of the consequences of his enmity under the appearance of expressing a regret. It only remained therefore to see Lillyston, and to this visit Julian looked with unmitigated joy.

“Forgive me, Hugh,” he said, as he entered the room; “from this time forward I shall owe you a new debt of gratitude; you have saved me from I know not what disgrace.”

Lillyston was delighted to see him look like his old self once more. The thunder-cloud which had been hanging on his brow was dissipated, and the sullen expression had wholly passed.

“Don’t talk of debt, Julian,” he said; “between friends, you know, there are no obligations—they are merged in the friendship itself.”

“I am amazed at my own intolerable folly, Hugh. I hope this is the last time that I shall yield to such storms of passion. I have much to be ashamed of.”

“Well, Julian,” said Lillyston, changing the subject, “you mustn’t think any more of this Clerkland, for potentially you got it, as everybody acknowledges; dynamei you were successful, if not ezgo.”

“I don’t mean to let it discourage me,” said Julian, “though the potential is mightily different from the actual.” Nor did he suffer it to discourage him, or weaken his endeavours. His life soon began to flow once more in its usual, even, and quiet course. It did not take him long to discover that it was possible to live happily without the Clerkland, and he wondered in himself at the intensity of the desire to obtain it, which he had suffered to overpower him. He felt no touch of envy towards Owen, whose friendship he began to value more and more, and who voluntarily told him, from information that he had derived from the examiners themselves, that the decision had long hung in a doubtful scale. In fact, the scholarship would have been divided between both of them but for one of the examiners, who hardly appreciated Julian’s merits. It was so well understood that Julian must have been the successful candidate but for the one fatal paper on Monday morning, that he rather gained than lost in reputation from the result of the competition.

It was a few days after these events that Julian received from Mr Carden a pressing invitation to spend a Sunday with him at Harton. Glad of a change, he easily obtained an exeat, and went down on the Saturday morning. Even the half-year since he had left had made a perceptible change in the old place. There were many new faces, and many old ones had disappeared, so that, already, he began to feel himself half a stranger among the familiar scenes. But alike from boys and masters he received a kindly greeting, and Mr Carden entertained him with a pleasant and genial hospitality. The only thing which pained him was the obvious change for the worse in Mr Carden’s health. He wore a sadder expression than of old, and though he made no remark about his health, yet every now and then his face seemed to be suddenly contracted by a throb of pain.

On the Monday morning, when it was necessary for Julian to return to Camford, Mr Carden called him into his study after breakfast, and asked him to choose any book he liked, as a farewell present, from the shelves.

“But why a farewell present, Mr Carden?” asked Julian, laughing. “Aren’t you ever going to ask me to Harton again?”

“No,” said Mr Carden with a sad smile, “never again.

“I resign my mastership at the end of this term,” he continued, in answer to Julian’s inquiring look; “my health is so uncertain that I feel unequal any longer to these most arduous, most responsible duties. Perhaps, too,” he added, “I may be a little disappointed in the result of my labours; but, at any rate, though as yet few are aware of it, this is my last month at Harton—so choose one of my books, Julian, as a farewell present.”

Julian expressed his real sorrow at Mr Carden’s failing health. “If you go away,” he said, “it will seem as if the chief tie which bound me to dear old Harton was suddenly snapped.” He chose as his memento a small volume of sermons which Mr Carden had published in former days, and asked him to write his name on the title-page.

“Yes,” said the master, “you shall have that book if you like; but I mean you to have also a more substantial memorial of my library. Here, Julian, this book I always destined to be yours some day; you may as well have it now.”

He took down from the shelves a richly bound copy of Coleridge’s works, in ten volumes, which Julian knew to be the one book of his library which he most deeply prized. His marginal comments enriched almost every page, and Julian was ashamed to take what he knew that the owner so highly valued.

“But I thought you told me once that you were thinking of publishing a biography of Coleridge, and an edition of his writings,” said Julian. “Surely, sir, you will want these manuscript notes, won’t you?”

“Ah, Julian! that is one of the many plans which have floated through my mind unfulfilled. My life, I fear, will have been an incomplete one. Thank God that there is no such thing as a necessary man—il n’y a point d’hommes nécessaires; others will be found to do a thousandfold better the work which I had purposed to do.” And then he murmured half to himself—

“Till, in due time, one by one,
Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone,
Death came suddenly, and took them where men never see the sun.”

His eyes filled with tears. “No,” he said, “take the book, Julian. If it does you all the good it has done me, it will have been more useful than I could ever have made it. And when you hang on the eloquent and earnest words of the great poet philosopher, mingle his teachings with some few memories of me; it will be like a drop of myrrh, perhaps, in the cup, but I should like,” he added, with faltering voice, “to leave at least one to think of me with affection.”

He turned away as his old pupil grasped his hand; and Julian, as he went back in the train to Camford, could not help a feeling of real pity that one so generous and upright in heart and life should be destined to so lonely and sorrowful a lot.

As he had said, he resigned his Harton mastership at the end of the term, and sailed to Madeira for his health. He begged Julian to continue his correspondence with him, and to tell him all about his old Harton and Camford friends.

During Easter week, while Julian was at Ildown, he received from him a letter to the following effect:—

“Dear Julian—I was not mistaken in hinting, while you were at Harton, that we should never meet again. I am on my death-bed; and, in all probability, the rapid decline which is now wasting my powers, and which, while I write, shakes me with painful fits of coughing, will have terminated my life before this letter reaches your hands.

“I leave life, I hope, with simple resignation; and although I have left undone much which I hoped to have accomplished, yet I die trusting in God. My friends in this world have been few, and my fortune have not been bright, yet happiness has largely preponderated even in my destiny, and I look on the death which is approaching as the commencement, not as the end, of true existence.

“But I did not write to you, dear Julian, to tell you of the frame of mind in which death finds me. I wrote to bid you farewell, and to tell you of something which concerns you—I mean my intention, recently adopted, of leaving you my small private fortune, and the added earnings which my labours have procured. Together, they amount only to ten thousand pounds, but I hope that they may be of real service to you. Had you still been the heir to your aunt’s property, perhaps even if you had got the Clerkland, I should have disposed of this money in some other way; but as these events have been ordered otherwise, and as I have no relations of my own who need the legacy, nor any friend in whose welfare I take deeper interest than in yours, it gives me a gleam of real satisfaction to be able to place at your disposal this little sum.

“Good-bye, my dear Julian. When these words meet your eye, I expect to be in that state where even your prayers can benefit me no more. But I know your affectionate and grateful heart, and I know that you will sometimes recur with a thought of kindness to the memory of your affectionate friend, Henry Carden.”

The next mail brought the news of Mr Carden’s death. It caused many a sorrowing heart both at Harton and at Camford. Mr Carden was a man whose impetuous and enthusiastic disposition had caused him to commit many serious errors in life, and these had been a barrier to the success which must otherwise have rewarded his energy and talent. But even among those who were envious of his ability, and offended by his eccentricities, they were few who did not do justice to the rectitude of his motives, and none who did not admit the warmth of his affections. There were more to mourn over his untimely death than there had been to forgive the mistakes he made, and by wise and friendly counsel to raise him to that height which he might easily have obtained. And among the crowd who had known him, and the many who honoured him, there were some who loved him with no ordinary love, and who were not too proud to admit the obligation of a permanent gratitude. It was one of the great happinesses of Mr Carden’s life that of this number was Julian Home.

With a clear 300 pounds a year of his own, it was of course unnecessary for Julian to return to Saint Werner’s as a sizar, and he at once wrote to his tutor to beg that his name might be removed from the list. There was one respect in which he found this a very material addition to his comfort and happiness. As the sizars dined an hour later than the other men, and at a separate table, he had been by this means cut off from the society of many of his friends in hall, where men have more opportunities of meeting and becoming intimate than anywhere else. It was no slight addition to his happiness to sit perpetually with the group of friends he valued most.

“I’ve got a magnificent plan for the Long, Julian,” said Kennedy to him one day, as they left the hall. “My father is going to Switzerland for three months, with my sister Eva and me. Eva goes under the wing of an aunt of mine, Mrs Dudley, whom I think you met at Ildown once. Won’t, you come with us?”

The proposal was very tempting, the more so as Julian had never been abroad. He mentioned it in his next letter home, and asked if it would be possible for any of them to accompany him, without which he gave up all intention of making the tour. In reply, Mrs Home proposed that Violet should go, (if Mrs Dudley would kindly chaperon her), because the trip would be of great advantage to her in many ways; and that Cyril should go, as a reward for his industry and success at Marlby. “As for Frankie and me,” she continued, “we will stay at home to take care of Ildown in your absence. Frank is too young to enjoy travelling, and I have but little desire for it; we two will stay behind, and I daresay we shall be very happy, especially if you write us long accounts of all your proceedings.”

So this most delightful plan was definitely adopted, and all concerned were full of the happiest anticipations. Kennedy and Julian looked forward to it with the utmost eagerness; Violet, who had already grown fond of Mrs Dudley and Eva, was charmed at the prospect, and Cyril, with all a boy’s eagerness for novelty, was well-nigh wild with joy.

But as yet six weeks were to elapse before the Long commenced.

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