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but set about remedying the matter in a manly way. He could not afford to send Peter to read with any tutor, but he could read with him himself; and Miss Matty told me much of the awful preparations in the way of dictionaries and lexicons that were made in her father's study the morning Peter began.
"My poor mother!” said she. “I remember how she used to stand in the hall, just near enough to the study-door to catch the tone of my father's voice. I could tell in a moment if all was going right, by her face. And it did go right for a long time.”
“ What went wrong at last ?" said I. - That tiresome Latin, I dare say."
“No! it was not the Latin. Peter was in high favor with my father, for he worked up well for him. But he seemed to think that the Cranford people might be joked about, and made fun of, and they did not like it; nobody does. He was always hoaxing them ; • hoaxing' is not a pretty word, my dear, and I hope you won't tell your father I used it, for I should not like him to think that I was not choice in my language, after living with such a woman as Deborah. And be sure you never use it yourself. I don't know how it slipped out of my mouth, except it was that I was thinking of poor Peter, and it was always his expression. But he was a very gentlemanly boy in many things. He was like dear Captain Brown in always being ready to help any old person or a child. Still, he did like joking and making fun; and he seemed to think the old ladies in Cranford would believe any thing. There were many old ladies living here then; we are principally ladies now, I know; but we are not so old as the ladies used to be when I was a girl. I cruld laugh to think of some of Peter's jokes. No! my dear, I won't tell you of them, because they might not shock you as they ought to do; and they were very shocking. He even took in my father once, by dressing himself up as a lady that was passing through the town and wished to see the Rector of Cranford, who had published that admirable Assize Sermon.' Peter said he was awfully frightened himself when he saw how my father took it all in, and even offered to copy out all his Napoleon Bonaparte sermons for her-him, I mean—no, her, for Peter was a lady then. He told me he was more terrified than he ever was before, all the time my father was speaking. He did not think my father would have believed him; and yet if he had not, it would have been a sad thing for Pe. ter. As it was, he was none so glad of it, for
bonnet; just the things she used to wear in Cranford, and was known by every where; and he made the pillow into a little-you are sure you locked the door, my dear, for I should not like any one to hear-into-into-a little baby, with white long clothes. It was only, as he told me afterward, to make something to talk about in the town; he never thought of it as affecting Deborah. And he went and walked up and down in the Filbert walk-just half hidden by the rails, and half seen; and he cuddled his pillow, just like a baby; and talked to it all the nonsense people do. Oh dear! and my father came stepping stately up the street, as he always did; and what should he see but a little black crowd of people—I. dare say as many as twenty-all peeping through his garden rails. So he thought, at first, they were only looking at a new rhododendron that was in full bloom, and that he was very proud of; and he walked slower, that they might have more time to admire. And he wondered if he could make out a sermon from the occasion, and thought, perhaps, there was some relation between the rhododendrons and the lilies of the field. My poor father! When he came nearer, he began to wonder that they did not see him; but their heads were all so close together, neeping and peeping: My father was among them, meaning, he said, to ask them to walk into the garden with him, and admire the beautiful veg. etable production, when-oh, my dear! I tremble to think of it—he looked through the rails himself, and saw—I don't know what he thought he saw, but old Clare told me his face went quite gray-white with anger, and his eyes blazed out under his frowning black brows; and he spoke out-oh, so terribly and bade them all stop where they were—not one of them to go, not one to stir a step; and, swift as light, he was in at the garden door, and down the Filbert walk, and seized hold of poor Peter, and tore his clothes off his back — bonnet, shawl, gown, and all — and threw the pillow among the people over the railings; and then he was very, very angry indeed ; and before all the people he lifted up his cane, and flogged Peter!
“My dear! that boy's trick, on that sunny day, when all seemed going straight and well, bruke my mother's heart, and changed my father for life. It did, indeed. Old Clare said, Peter looked as white as my father; and stood as still as a statue to be flogged; and my father struck hard! When my father stopped to take breath, Peter said, “Have you done enough, sir ? quite hoarsely, and still standing quite quiet. I don't know what my father said, or if he said any thing. But old Clare said, Peter turned to where the people outside were, and made them a low bow, as grand and as grave as any gentleman; and then walked slowly into the house. I was in the store-room helping my mother to make cowslip-wine. I can not abide the wine now, nor the scent of the flowers; they turn me sick and faint, as they did that day, when Peter came in, looking as haughty as any man-indeed, looking like a man, not like a boy. “Mother!' he said, “I am come to say, God bless you forever.' I saw his lips quiver as he spoke ; and I think he durs not say any thing more loving, for the purpose that was in his heart. She looked at him rather frightened, and wondering, and asked him what was to do? He did not smile or speak, but put his arms round her, and kissed her as if he did not know how to leave off; and before she could speak again, he was gone We talked it over, and could not understand it, and she bade me go and seek my father, and ask what it was all about. I found him walk. : ing up and down, looking very highly displeased.