Chapter Ten.


“And here was Labour his own bond slave; Hope
That never set the pains against the prize;
Idleness halting with his weary clog,
And poor misguided Shame and witless Fear
And simple Pleasure foraging for Death.”
        Wordsworth. The Prelude.

Although Julian did not immediately feel, and had not particular reason to dread, the results of Brogten’s displeasure, yet it was very annoying to be on the same stair-case with him. It was a constant reminder that there was one person, and he near at hand, who regarded him as an enemy. For a time, indeed, Brogten tried a few practical jokes on his neighbour and quondam school-fellow, which gratified for the moment his desire for revenge. Thus he would empty the little jug of milk which stood every day before Julian’s door into the great earthenware pitcher of water which was usually to be found in the same position or he would make a surreptitious entry into his rooms, and amuse himself by upturning chairs and tables, turning pictures with their faces to the wall, and doing sometimes considerable damage and mischief. Once Julian, on preparing to get into bed, found a neat little garden laid out for his reception, between the sheets—flower-beds and gravel walks, all complete. This course of petty annoyance he bore, though not without a great struggle, in dignified and contemptuous silence. He looked Brogten firmly in the face, whenever they chanced to meet, and never gave him the triumph of perceiving that his small arts of vexation had taken the slightest effect. He merely smiled when the hot-headed Kennedy suggested retaliation, and would not allow Lillyston to try the effect of remonstrance. It was not long before Brogten became thoroughly ashamed that his malice should be tried and despised, and he would have proceeded to more overt acts of hatred had he not been one day informed by Lillyston that the Hartonians generally had heard of his proceedings, and that if he continued them he would be universally cut. For, indeed, such practical jokes as Brogten attempted are now almost unknown at Camford, and every man’s room is considered sacred in his absence. But although he desisted from this kind of malice, it was not long before Brogten was generally shunned by his former schoolfellows. He developed into such a thorough blackguard that, had it not been for his merits as an oarsman and a cricketer, even the countenance of Bruce and Lord Fitzurse would have been insufficient to prevent him from being deserted by all the undergraduates of Saint Werner’s, except that small and wretched class who take refuge from vacuity in the society of cads, dog-fanciers, and grooms.

Yet Brogten’s Harton education, idle as he had been, sufficed to make him see that he was sinking lower and lower, not only in the world’s estimation, but in his own. Unable to make the mental effort which the least approach to study would have required, he suffered his few intellectual faculties to grow more and more gross and stolid, and spent his mornings in smoking, drinking beer, or lounging in the rooms of some one as idle and discontented as himself. It was sad to see the change which even in his first term came over his face; it was not the change from boyhood to youth which gave a manlier beauty to the almost feminine delicacy of Julian’s features, but it was a look in which effrontery supplied the place of self-dependence, and coarseness was the substitute for strength. Beer in the morning, and brandy in the evening, cards, and low company, and vice, made him sink into a degradation from which he was only redeemed by the still lingering ambition to excel in athletic sports, and by the manly exercises which rescued him for a time from such dissipation as would have incapacitated him from shining in the boat or in the field.

Lillyston was a singular contrast with Brogten; originally they were about equal in ability, position, and strength. They had entered school in the same form, and, until Julian came, they had generally been placed near each other in the quarterly examinations. Both of them were strong and active, and without being clever or brilliant they were both possessed of respectable powers of mind. Both of them had been in the Harton eleven, and now each of them was already in the second boat of their respective clubs; but with all these similarities Lillyston was beginning to be one of the men most liked and respected among all the best sets of his own year, and was reading for honours with a fair chance of ultimate success, while Brogten was looked on as a low and stupid fellow, whose company was discreditable, and whose doings were a disgrace to his old school.

The two presented much the same contrast as was also visible between Julian and Bruce. While Julian and Lillyston had mutually influenced each other for good, while they had been growing up together in warm and honourable friendship, thinking whatsoever things are pure and true and of good report, the other two had only fostered each other’s vanity, and rather encouraged than checked each other’s failings. At school they were always exchanging the grossest flattery, and the lessons and tendencies which each had derived from the other’s society were lessons of weakness and sin alone. And now Bruce was looked on at Saint Werner’s as a vain, empty fellow, living on a reputation for cleverness which he had never justified,—low, dressy, and extravagant, despised by the reading men, (whose society he affected to avoid), for his weakness and want of resolution; by the real athletes for his deficiency in strength and pluck, and by the aristocrats, (whose rooms he most frequented), for the ill-concealed obscurity of his father’s origin, and the ill-understood source of his wealth. Since he first astonished the men of his year by the brilliancy of his entertainments and the gorgeousness of his rooms, he had steadily declined in general estimation among all whose regard was most really valuable, and he would have found few among his immense acquaintance who cared as much for him as they did for his good dinners and recherché wines. Julian, on the other hand, who knew far fewer men, could count among his new and old companions some real friends—friends who would cling to him in adversity as well as in prosperity, and who loved him for his own sake, whether his fortunes were in sunshine or in cloud. First among these newly-acquired friends he counted the names of Owen and Kennedy, among the old ones of Lillyston and De Vayne. But, besides these, he had been sought out by all the most distinguished men among the Saint Werner’s undergraduates, while Mr Admer, who improved immensely on acquaintance, had introduced him to some of the most genial and least exclusive dons. Even Mr Grayson used to address him with something approaching to warmth, and so high was his general reputation, that he had no difficulty in making the acquaintance of every man of his college, whom he in the least cared to see or know.

Brogten was one of those who perceived these contrasts, and the bitter intense malice with which they filled him was one of the evil feelings which helped to drag him down from following out his occasional resolutions for better things.

Strange that a few weeks could produce such differences but so it was. At the end of those few weeks Bruce went back to take part in his mother’s splendid theatricals and routs, with a consciousness of neglected opportunities and wasted times even if his conscience laid no worse sins to his charge. Brogten went back, cursing himself and all around him, with the violent self-accusations of a reprobate obstinacy, a man in vice, though hardly more than a boy in years. Kennedy went back happy on the whole, happy above all in the certainty that he had made in Julian one noble friend. Lillyston went back happy, well-pleased with the sense of duty done, and the prime of life well and innocently enjoyed. And Julian went back in the same train with De Vayne, happy too, with a mind strengthened and expanded, with knowledge deepened and widened, with an honourable ambition opening before him, and friends and a fair position already won. All these results had sprung from those few and swiftly-gliding weeks.

The Christmas time passed very pleasantly for the Homes. They had few relations, and Lady Vinsear had dropped all intercourse with them, but they were happy in themselves. Violet, too, had the pleasure of forming an acquaintance with Kennedy’s sister Eva, who, with her aunt, happened to be paying a short visit to a family in the neighbourhood. Frank and Cyril were at home for their holidays, and the house and garden at Ildown rang all day long with their merry voices and incessant games. Old Christmas observances were not yet obsolete in Ildown, and Yule logs and royal feasts were the order of the day. The bright, clear, frosty air—the sparkling sea and freshening wind—a lovely country, a united and cheerful family, and the delights of moderate study, made the weeks speed by in pure enjoyment. With his mother, his brothers, and Violet, Julian felt the need of no other society, but he corresponded with Kennedy and other college friends, and saw a great deal of Lord De Vayne, who continually rode over to pass the Sunday with them at Ildown, and sometimes persuaded all the Homes to come and spend the day with him and his mother in the beautiful but lonely grounds of Other Hall.

Whenever they accepted the invitation, the young and pensive viscount seemed another man. He would join in the boys’ mirth with the most joyous alacrity, and talked to Violet with such vivacity that none who saw him would believe what a shade of melancholy usually hung over his mind. His life had been spent in seclusion, and he had never yet seen any to whom his heart turned with such affection as he felt for Julian and Violet. His mother observed it, and often thought that if she saw in Violet Home the future Lady De Vayne, a source of happiness was laid up for her only son, which would fulfil, and more than fulfil, her fondest prayers. It never occurred to her to think that he would do better to choose a bride among the noblest and wealthiest houses of England, rather than in the orphan family of a poor and unknown clergyman. What she sought for him was goodness and usefulness, not grandeur or riches; a lonely and sorrowful life had taught her at how slight a value rank and wealth are to be reckoned in any high or true estimate of the meaning of human life; nor did it add greatly to her desire for such a match that Violet, with her bright hair, and soft eyes, and graceful figure—with her sweet musical voice, and the rippling silver of her laugh, and the rich imagery which filled her fancy—might well have fulfilled the ideal of a poet’s dream. But Violet was still very young, and none of Lady De Vayne’s hopes had ever for an instant crossed her mind.

Julian was at this time, and had been for some months, intensely occupied with the thought and desire of winning the Clerkland scholarship, a university scholarship of 60 pounds a year, open to general competition among all the undergraduates of less than one year’s standing. This scholarship was the favourite success of Camford life. It stamped at once a man’s position as one of the most prominent scholars of his year, and as the names of many remarkable men were found in the list of those who had already obtained it, it gave a strong prestige of future distinction and success. Julian had a peculiar reason for longing to gain it, because, with his Harton scholarship, it would not only enable him at once to enter his name as a pensioner, instead of a sizar, at Saint Werner’s, but even make him independent of all help from his family and guardians. There would have been reasons sufficient to account for his passionate desire for this particular distinction, even independently of his natural wish to justify the general opinion of his abilities, and the eager ambition caused by the formidable numbers of the other competitors. In short, at this time, to obtain the Clerkland scholarship was the most prominent personal desire in Julian’s heart, and could some genius have suddenly offered him the fulfilment of any one wish, this would undoubtedly have been the first to spring to his lips. He looked with emulation, almost with envy, on those who had won it before him; he almost knew by heart the list of Clerkland scholars; and when he returned to Camford, constantly discussed the chances of success in favour of the different candidates. Do not blame him; his motives were all high and blameless, although he at length turned over this thought so often in his mind as to recur to it with almost selfish iteration, and to regard success in this particular struggle as the one thing wanting to complete, or even to create his happiness.

He could not refrain from mentioning it at home, although, for the sake of preventing disappointment, he generally avoided dwelling on any of his school or college struggles. Deprecating his own abilities, it made him doubly anxious to find that not only did his Saint Werner’s contemporaries regard him as the favourite candidate, and bet upon him in the sporting circles, (although Brogten furiously took the largest odds against him), but, what was worse, his own family, always proud of him, seemed to regard his triumph as certain. Thus circumstanced, and most fondly avoiding every possibility of causing pain or disappointment to that thrice-loved circle, of which he regarded himself as the natural protector and head, he was more than ever determined to do his very utmost to prevent failure, and give them the lasting pride and pleasure which they would all receive by seeing his name in the public papers as Clerkland scholar.

“Come, Julian, and let’s have a row or a sail,” said Cyril one morning to him, as he sat at work. “Frank and I have nothing to do to-day.”

“Not to-day, Cyril, my boy. I really must do some work; you know De Vayne made me ride with him yesterday, and I’ve done very little the last day or two.”

“I wish I liked work as you do, Julian.”

“It isn’t only that I like work, (though I do),” said Julian; “but you know a good deal depends on it.”

“Oh! I know!” said Cyril; “you mean the Clerkland scholarship; but never mind, Julian, Lord De Vayne told me you were sure of that.”

“Did he?” said Julian, a little anxiously; “then for goodness’ sake, don’t believe him. It’s very kind of him to say so—but he’s quite mistaken.”

“Ah, you always say so beforehand, you know. You used to say that about the Harton scholarship, Julian, and yet you see? Do come.”

“Well, I’ll come,” said Julian, smiling a little sadly. “But, Cyril, don’t, pray, say anything of that kind to mother or to Violet, for if I should fail it would make me doubly sad.”

Cyril, thanking Julian, and still laughingly prophesying success, ran out to tell Frank; and, when he had gone, Julian stamped his foot passionately on the ground, and said half-aloud, “I will get this Clerkland, I will get it, I must get it.”

He paused a moment, and then, raising his eyes and hands to heaven, prayed that “God would do for him that which was best for his highest welfare;” but even as he prayed, he secretly determined that obtaining the Clerkland scholarship was, and must necessarily be, the best piece of worldly prosperity that could possibly happen to him.

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