The Friends; or, The Triumph of Innocence over False Charges / A Tale, Founded on Facts

The Friends; or, The Triumph of Innocence over False Charges / A Tale, Founded on Facts

Author:
Unknown
Author:
Unknown
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Unknown
Boarding schools — England — Juvenile fiction
Theft — Juvenile fiction
The Friends; or, The Triumph of Innocence over False Charges
A Tale, Founded on Facts


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I   4
Chap. II   17
Chap. III   30
Chap. IV   48
Chap. V   74

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

–‘may Heaven bless & direct you’! 3
Henry & George visiting the poor Cottager 56
–its all found out!–the thief is found out. 75
‘What shall I do? I will leave the School’ 91

page 11.
—”may Heaven bless & direct you”!

London, Published by Harvey & Darton, 56 Gracechurch Street,
10th Dec. 1822.


THE FRIENDS;

OR,

THE TRIUMPH OF INNOCENCE

OVER

FALSE CHARGES.


A Tale,
FOUNDED ON FACTS.


“TIME AT LAST SETS ALL THINGS EVEN.”

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR HARVEY AND DARTON,
GRACECHURCH-STREET.


1822.

THE FRIENDS, &c.

CHAPTER I.


In one of the pleasant villages in the beautiful county of Kent, was situated a boarding-school of considerable celebrity. It had, for many years, been distinguished for possessing an excellent master, in the person of the Rev. Dr. Harris, who, by his amiable manners and sound knowledge, had obtained the friendship of the surrounding gentry; while his fatherly interest in behalf of the affairs of the poor, caused him to be universally beloved. He was curate of the parish, as well as school-master; and his parishioners and scholars were alike the objects of his tender regard and anxious solicitude.
His family consisted of a wife and two daughters, who were equally respected by all who had the pleasure of their acquaintance. Mrs. Harris was, indeed, every way worthy of her amiable partner; and her greatest pleasure consisted in doing good. Although frequently herself in a very weak state of health; yet, neither the inclemency of the weather, nor the distance, deterred her from going, in person, to visit, to comfort, and to assist those of her fellow-creatures who were in distress. It was quite enough for her to know that any of her poorer neighbours were in want, to command her immediate aid; and, by thus setting them a good Christian example, she was better enabled to assist her amiable husband in enforcing the mild and wholesome doctrines of religion.
Her lovely daughters, too, Juliana and Eliza, were of sufficient ages to be her companions in these charitable visits; and their hearts panted for the power to do good, and longed to receive and to deserve such blessings as were bestowed, with grateful lips, upon their beloved mother, whenever she passed the cottages of the poor. They pitied their wants and sufferings, and participated and rejoiced in their happiness; and frequently expressed a desire for riches, to enable them to relieve their misfortunes. Upon such occasions, Mrs. Harris never failed to impress upon their young minds this valuable truth: that wealth does not always afford the best means of doing good. She used to say, that those children who sincerely wish to do an act of charity, seldom want the means of doing something to relieve the necessities and soothe the afflictions of those who are pining in wretchedness; for even a kind consoling word, with a very little personal attention, was often esteemed more valuable, and even proved to be more useful, than money, to those whose spirits as well as bodies were pressed down by distress. Added to this advice, this excellent lady seldom let an opportunity pass of enforcing the most strict and pious attention to their religious duties. Her motto was:

“Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see:
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”

The school was at the extremity of the village, and attached to the parsonage-house. The situation was retired and beautiful. At a little distance stood the village church, in all its ancient simplicity, except that it had, for some years, been nearly covered with ivy; the most pleasing decoration that it is possible for Nature to bestow upon a country place of worship. Its green and glossy leaf, whether viewed by the soft glow of moon-light, or by the broad glare of sun-shine, is always an object of admiration.
The number of scholars was about forty; and in this, as in other schools, boys of various dispositions were to be found. Some possessed all the good temper and vivacity that could be wished; and their faults were seldom of so serious a nature as to demand more than a slight reproof: while others were morose, passionate, envious, and disobliging; imposing upon their younger school-fellows at every opportunity, and perplexing those of their own age by frequent interruptions in their sports and lessons.
Amongst the number of those who were generally beloved by their school-fellows, were Henry Wardour and George Harrington, the sons of two respectable tradesmen, who were partners in a very lucrative business in London. George had been so unfortunate as to lose his mamma when he was scarcely five years of age; and as he was the only child, Mrs. Wardour, who had always entertained great esteem for his parents, requested of his papa to allow her the pleasure of instructing him with her son Henry. To an offer so kind and advantageous, Mr. Harrington could have no objection; but fearing that the task would become irksome, and be too great an exertion for his friend, he endeavoured to persuade her from her purpose; when she replied: “The trouble, Sir, I beg you will not think about: it will be nothing. While teaching my own son, I shall feel a pleasure in imparting the same instruction to yours. Besides, I promised my dear friend Mrs. H. when on her death-bed, that I would be a parent to her son; therefore, Sir, I beg you will grant my request.” Mr. Harrington consented, and deferred his plan of sending George to a preparatory school; and he was admitted at once into the house of Mrs. Wardour.
Henry, who was about eight months older than his friend, looked upon this arrangement with unusual joy. As he had no brother, George had hitherto been his frequent play-fellow; and the knowledge that he was now about to live in the same house, to eat, drink, sleep, and play with him, gave him a pleasure which he had never before felt.
Thus, from so early an association, their friendship became deeply rooted; and as Mrs. Wardour was a lady well qualified for the task she had imposed upon herself, the lads made considerable progress in their education, and continued to do so until they were eleven or twelve years of age, when their kind preceptress was attacked with a severe sickness. In this state she had continued upwards of a month, when her husband, seeing no immediate prospect of her recovery, and fearing the lads might lose all the learning they had received while under her care, prevailed upon her to let them be sent to school. To this she at length consented; and the school of Dr. Harris having been strongly recommended, they were put under the superintendence of that gentleman.
Before leaving home, however, their parents gave them their parting blessing; and Mr. Wardour, pressing them affectionately by the hand, told them they were now about to begin a little world for themselves: “therefore,” said he, in an earnest and impressive manner, “may Heaven bless and direct all your actions, so that you may grow up to be honest, brave, and good men. And remember well what I now say: if ever I hear that you are quarrelsome, you will displease me much; but if I find that you are unjust in your dealings towards your school-fellows, I shall punish you severely. Above all, be friends to one another.” With this advice, and a determination to attend to it, our little friends bid their parents farewell.

The dispositions of Henry and George were somewhat different, and yet they continued to be sincere friends. Henry was mild, good-natured, and patient. George was good-natured, but hasty and passionate; and though Mrs. Wardour took great pains to impress upon his youthful mind the danger he was continually in, from not being able to control his temper, she never succeeded in teaching him that mildness so much admired in her own son. But in every other respect he was truly amiable; and if, in his passion, he was ever led into any serious error, he never failed to beg pardon of those whom he had offended, and always made every amends in his power.
By this failing in George’s temper, Henry was too frequently a sufferer; for he was always obliged to give up whatever play-things the other wished for, which he generally did with readiness and good temper, although he was oldest of the two. But this was only the case when they were very young; for, from the time that they had left home, and had been put under the care of Dr. Harris, they were, if possible, greater friends than ever; and George had so far succeeded in mastering his temper, as seldom to be in a passion, and never with his friend Henry. He still, however, possessed that nobleness and high spirit, which mostly checked him in doing a wrong action, and always prompted him to interfere in behalf of any of his school-fellows whom he thought were unjustly treated; in which he was ably seconded by his friend Henry.
In personal appearance there was little similarity. Henry was weak, pale, and delicate: George, strong, fresh-coloured, and vigorous. Many a time had Mrs. Wardour watched over her weakly but truly beautiful boy, with an anxious eye, fearing that she should never be able to rear him to manhood. But since he had been with Dr. Harris, his health had much improved. His face, which had before been pale, was now tanned with the heat of the sun; and the fresh country air had given an additional brightness to his fine dark eyes: while the healthy round face, and plump appearance of George, seemed to improve in a like degree.
In short, these boys, by their politeness and good-nature, rather than by their appearance, were beloved by all their school-fellows, except a few of the malicious, envious dispositions, who only disliked them because they sometimes resisted their impositions, and detected their falsehoods.
With their master’s family they were also more intimate; and though Dr. Harris never made any distinction, or showed any partiality to one boy more than to another, yet it was not so with his two daughters, Juliana and Eliza. They had their favourites; and though Henry and George were nearly the last comers, and had not been more than three months in the school, they had so won upon the young ladies, (who were nearly of the same age as themselves,) by their cheerfulness, and polite attention in gathering pretty flowers, cleaning their bird-cages, &c. as to be their decided favourites.
Mrs. Harris had also entertained a regard for Henry, from the moment she first saw him, as he strongly resembled a late son of hers, who was unfortunately drowned when about his age.
And it was well for Henry that he possessed so many friends; for in the difficulties he afterwards had to contend with, he stood in great need of them; and as my little readers are now pretty well acquainted with their characters, they shall hear in what those difficulties consisted. But before entering upon the principal circumstances in this little history, it will be necessary to acquaint my young friends with a trifling affair that took place about a month or six weeks after the arrival of Henry and George. By their interference upon this occasion, they put an end to an evil, a species of fagging, which had been practised unknown to the master; while they at the same time roused the bad dispositions of some of the elder boys, as will be seen in the sequel.


CHAP. II.


It had been a custom in Dr. Harris’s school to admit an aged woman, once a week, to call with cakes, lozenges, and other sweetmeats; and as she was very poor, each lad was allowed, and indeed expected, to lay out a penny with her. This they did very willingly, not merely because she generally had a good assortment of those things which little boys are fond of, but because she was cheerful, civil, and obliging; and frequently took in good part, the tricks they so often played upon her. She used also to bring her grand-daughter Emma with her, for the purpose of taking the money, and carrying her basket, which was a pleasing duty to this little girl, for she dearly loved her grandmother.
This well-intended plan of compelling the boys to spend their money in the school-room, though of benefit to Dame Higgins, (for that was her name,) at length caused a violent irruption, by giving the elder boys an opportunity of imposing upon the younger ones; when, if they had been allowed to have spent their half-pence in the village, they might have evaded the impost which was laid upon them. The old woman used to arrive regularly every Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, which were half-holidays; and Dr. Harris, fearing that if all were admitted at one time, she might be confused, had ordered that they should proceed by rotation, but only six at a time; consequently, the biggest boys always entered first, and then waited at the other door till the rest came out with their cakes, fruit, or sweetmeats. Now, so much power had the elder boys, (particularly Brown, Greene, and Walker,) over the rest, that they regularly exacted from them either a plum, a cake, a pear, or something of what they had purchased.
Soon after Henry and George had arrived at the school, and they were passing through the door which led into the play-ground, with their cakes, they were stopped, amongst the rest, and asked by Walker for a bit of something; and as they saw most of the boys gave one thing or other, and being themselves good-natured, they readily bestowed their portion; and this was repeated for three or four weeks.

About this time little Ned Hooper, a lad much liked by most of the boys for his mirth and good humour, came up to George, with a tear in his eye, and said, “Look here! see what these fellows have left me, out of what I bought: they have taken above half,” added he, showing a few lozenges, “and all because I said they ought to be ashamed of themselves for so doing.”
“Ashamed, indeed!” cried George, with indignation; “and are those all they have left you?”
“Yes; and they had as many from me last week, but I did not say any thing about it,” said Ned.
“Why did you give them any this week, if they had so many from you the week before?” asked Henry.

“Because I am not strong enough to prevent them, or they should not have one from me. But it is so with all us little boys. They take some of our gingerbread or fruit from us every week.” And he then walked away crying.
Some of the other boys who stood round, confirmed what little Ned had said, and told George and Henry that they would be obliged to submit to the same, as long as those tyrants were in the school; for they had taken from them ever since they had been there. They then went and fetched little Ned, who had just finished the lozenges they had left him, and then cheerfully joined in the play as though nothing had happened.
Not so our two young friends, who were much hurt to see their little school-fellows imposed upon; and endeavoured to find out some plan by which they might put an end to so shameful a practice. They at first thought of offering them a certain quantity from amongst all the boys; but afterwards determined upon stopping it altogether, by a combination amongst their school-fellows. “For why,” said George, in an animated tone, “should one boy be allowed to act unjustly towards another, merely because he is older or stronger? It is ‘might overcoming right;’ and therefore I think we should be justified in resisting these tyrants, as they are properly called, by every means in our power.”
They then joined the rest at play, having resolved to make them acquainted with their determination before the next arrival of Dame Higgins.
This opportunity soon offered; for about four o’clock the same afternoon, Greene, Walker, Brown, and those with whom they generally associated, left the school to take a walk through the town. Henry observed all the boys whom he had seen at the door, when they passed with their cakes, leave the play-ground; and mentioned to his friend George, that it would be a good time to ask their school-fellows whether they would join in their resistance. Henry, therefore, collected them together; and George informed them that he had a plan to submit, how they might preserve their cakes from the tyrants; which occasioned an expression of great joy among the little boys, who thought they saw in their two new school-fellows, worthy and trusty champions.
“What is it?” “How shall we do it?” was asked by many an anxious and eager boy, who had long wished to have some one whom they might look up to as their leader.
“Why, we were thinking,” said George, “that it is a shameful thing for so many of us to submit to be robbed by so small a number of boys, merely because they are a little bigger than ourselves; and therefore Henry and I have determined to refuse giving another cake or sweetmeat, provided you will support us.”
“We will, we will,” they cried. “And they shall soon find out they are not to rob us when they please,” cried little Ned. “But how do you intend to do it,” he asked, laying hold of George’s hand.
“Why to-morrow,” said he, “Dame Higgins will be here again; and I have no doubt but that the same demand will be made of us as heretofore; but Henry and myself, with some others, will immediately follow them, and when they make their request, we will refuse to comply, and hold them at bay till the rest arrive, when we will boldly resist, and force our way into the play-ground.”
To this plan their school-fellows readily assented, and promised not to say a word about it, for fear they should make the tyrants acquainted with their intention. They then went to their sports, which were not unfrequently interrupted in their progress by the consideration of their forthcoming resistance.
At length the important day arrived, which, as usual, brought Dame Higgins to the school. The morning had passed in rather a confused manner; and a constant buzzing and whispering was heard throughout the little assembly. “I don’t mind a thrashing,” said little Ned, in a whisper to George, “if I can preserve my cakes, and disappoint those greedy fellows.” He had no sooner uttered the words, than the well-known voice of Dame Higgins was heard, and his determination was put to the test; for the elder boys hastened, as usual, to her basket, purchased what they wanted, and took their stations at the next door. Henry, George, and Ned, accompanied by three of the most resolute boys, immediately followed, and, as was agreed upon, refused to give a single sweetmeat; they were therefore stopped in their passage through the room, when they were happily joined by their comrades. They now determined to force their way through, and had just made a grand rush, when, to their surprise and mortification, Dr. Harris appeared before them. They shrunk back with amazement: Greene and his companions through shame, and Henry and his friends from fear.
The Doctor seeing their confusion, called upon Greene, who was the eldest boy, to explain the cause of it; but Greene was silent. “What is the reason of this disturbance?” he again asked. “I insist upon knowing. Some

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