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A Hero of Romance by Richard Marsh

Bertie positively scowled at the lady


do you think it was? Do you think I stole it?"

Under the influence of the peppermint, or harassed by the memory of his loss, Bertie positively scowled at the lady.

"Dear no, young gentlemen never steals. Five pounds! and all his own; and lost it too! What thieves this world has got! Dear, dear, now."

The lady paused, possibly overcome by her sympathy with the lad's misfortune. Behind his back she interchanged a glance with Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, apparently wishing to say something, but not being able to find the words to say it with, put his hand to his mouth and coughed. Sam Slater stared at Bertie with a look of undisguised contempt.

"You must be a green hand to let 'em turn you inside out like that. If I had five pounds--which I ain't never likely to have! more's the pity--I'd look 'em up and down just once or twice before I'd let 'em walk off with it like that. I wonder if your mother knows you're out."

"My mother doesn't know anything at all about it; I've run away from school."

Under ordinary circumstances Bertie would have confined that fact within his own bosom; now, with some vague idea of impressing his dignity upon the contemptuous Sam, he blurted it out. Directly the words were spoken a significant look passed from each of his hearers to the other.

justify;">"Dear, now," said the lady. "Run away from school, have you now? There's a brave young gentleman; and that there Sam knows nothing at all about it. It's more than he dare do."

"Never had a school to run away from," murmured Sam.

"Did they use you very bad, my dear?"

"It wasn't because of that; I wouldn't have minded how they used me. I ran away because I wanted to find the Land of Golden Dreams."

Mr. Jenkins put his hand to his mouth as if to choke what sounded very like a laugh; Sam stared with a look of the most profound amazement on his face; a faint smile even flitted across the lady's face.

"The Land of Golden Dreams," said Sam. "Never heard tell of such a place."

"You never heard tell of nothing," declared the lady. "You ain't a scholar like this young gentleman. And what's the name of the school, my dear?"

"Mecklemburg House Collegiate School."

Bertie informed them of the name and title of Mr. Fletcher's educational establishment with what he intended to be his grandest air, with a possible intention of impressing them with its splendour.

"There's a mouthful," commented Sam. "Oh my eye!"

The lady's reception of Bertie's information was more courteous.

"There's a beautiful name for a school. And where might it be?"

"It's not very far from Cobham. But I don't live there."

"No, my dear. And where do you live, my lovey?"

The lady became more affectionate in her titles of endearment as she went on. Mr. Jenkins, leaning over the head of the bed, listened with all his ears; but on his countenance was a delighted grin.

"I live at Upton."

"Upton," said the lady, and glanced at Mr. Jenkins behind the bed. Mr. Jenkins winked at her.

"My father's a doctor; he keeps two horses and a carriage; everybody knows him there; he's the best doctor in the place."

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