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A Hero of Romance by Richard Marsh

The front gate of Mecklemburg House stood wide open


"We--weren't

running--away!" wept Griffin. "We've lost our way."

"Lost your way! Well, I never! That's a good one!" The carter seemed to doubt the statement.

"We have lost our way," said Ellis.

"Look here! for a couple of pins I'll take you by the scruff of your necks and walk you back myself, if you come any of your games on me."

From his tone and manner the carter seemed to be indignant. Griffin stared--as well as he could through his tears and the slime--and Ellis stared, being both at a loss to understand his indignation.

"Coming with your tales to me, telling me you've lost your way, with the school just across the road."

His hearers stared still more.

"You don't mean it?" Ellis said. "Why, if--I don't believe--why, if this isn't old Palmer's field, which he was only ploughing yesterday, and if you haven't tumbled into old Palmer's pond! Well, if we aren't a couple of beauties!"

Griffin stared at Ellis, and the carter stared at both of them. The fact was beginning to dawn upon these young gentlemen, the startling fact, that they had been all the time in a country with every inch of which they were acquainted, and that it was only the darkness which had confused them. As the carter had said, Palmer's field--which

was the name by which it was known to the boys--was right in front of Mecklemburg House, and, in consequence, the school, instead of being, as they supposed, a mile or so away, was just across the road. When they had fully realized this fact, the young gentlemen gave a simultaneous yell of satisfaction, and without wasting any time in compliments and thanks, dashed through the open gate, and out of sight, leaving the carter to the enjoyment of his own society.

"Well," was the comment of that worthy, when he perceived the full measure of ingratitude which was entailed by this unlooked-for flight, "if I ever helps another being out of a ditch I'll let him know. Not even the price of half a pint!" Then he shouted after them, "I hope the schoolmeaster'll tan the hide from off you. I would if I were him."

Possibly the expression of this pious wish in some degree relieved his feelings, for he followed the boys, though at a much more decorous pace, through the gate. When he reached the road, he stopped for a moment and looked around him, but there were no signs of any one in sight--the birds had flown. So, muttering beneath his breath what were probably not blessings, he returned to his charge, a huge vehicle, drawn by four perspiring horses, and which was loaded with market produce. Climbing up to his seat, he started his horses and continued his journey through the night. But though he was not aware of it, the young gentlemen who had treated him with such ingratitude had not come to the end of their adventure.

The front gate of Mecklemburg House stood wide open, and they unhesitatingly dashed inside. But no sooner were they in the grass-grown courtyard than a thought struck Griffin.

"I wonder if Bailey and Wheeler have come back?"

"I don't know, and I don't care," said Ellis.

But the interchange of speech brought them back to the sense of their situation.


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