WITH the waning of
summer came the time for Mrs. Lloyd to return to the city. Both she and
Bert felt very sorry to leave Maplebank, and the family there was
unanimous in seeking to persuade her to allow Bert to remain for the
winter. But this was not practicable, because, in the first place, Mr.
Lloyd had been writing to say that he was quite tired of being without
his boy, and would like to have him back again as soon as was
convenient; and, in the second place, Bert had reached the age when he
ought to begin his schooling, and must return home for that purpose.
So at length, after more than one postponement, the day of departure
arrived. Grandmother and Aunt Martha, and Aunt Sarah, could not restrain
their tears, and big, kind Kitty, was among the mourners too, as Bert
and his mother took their seats in the carriage beside the Squire and
Uncle Alec, to drive in to the village where the coach would be met.
With many a promise to come back ere very long, and many a fond
“Good-bye! God bless you, my darling!” the travellers started on their
homeward journey. The village was reached in good time, the coach found
awaiting its passengers, the trunks safely stowed behind, the last
good-bye to grandfather and Uncle Alec said, and then, amid cracking of
whips and waving of handkerchiefs, the big coach rolled grandly off, and
Bert had really parted with dear, delightful Maplebank, where he had
spent such a happy summer.
The homeward journey was a very pleasant one, and marked by no exciting
incidents. Jack Davis was in his place on the box, and, recognising Bert
when the passengers got out at the first change of horses, hailed him
with a hearty: “Holloa, youngster! Are you on board? Would you like to
come up on top with me again?”
It need hardly be said that Bert jumped at the invitation, and, his
mother giving her consent, he rode on the box seat beside Davis the
greater part of the day as happy as a bird. The weather was perfect, it
being a cool, bright day in early September, and Bert enjoyed very much
recognising and recalling the different things that had particularly
interested him on the way down. “Black Rory” was as lively as ever, and
seemed determined to run away and dash everything to pieces as they
started out from his stable, but calmed down again after a mile or two,
as usual, and trotted along amiably enough the rest of his distance.
It happened that Davis had no one on the outside with whom he cared to
talk, so he gave a good deal of attention to Bert, telling him about the
horses and their peculiarities, and how they were in so many ways just
like people, and had to be humoured sometimes, and sometimes punished,
and how it was, upon the whole, so much better to be kind than cruel to
“If your father ever lets you have a pony, Bert,” said Davis, “take my
word for it it it'll pay you to treat that ere pony like a brother. Just
let him know you are fond of him from the start; give him a lump of
sugar or a crust of bread now and then—it’s wonderful how fond horses
are of such things—and he’ll follow you about just like a dog. Horses
have got a good deal more human nature in ’em than folks generally give
’em credit for, I can tell you, and I think I know what I am talking
about, for I’ve had to do with them ever since I’ve been as big as you.”
Bert listened to this lecture with very lively interest, for his father
had more than once hinted at getting him a pony some day if he were a
good boy, and showed he could be trusted with one. He confided his hopes
to his friend, and received in return for the confidence a lot more of
good advice, which need not be repeated here.
The sun was setting as the coach drove up to the hotel at Thurso, where
Mrs. Lloyd and Bert were to remain for the night, taking the train for
Halifax the next morning. Bert felt quite sorry at parting with his big
friend, the driver, and very gladly promised him that the next time he
was going to Maplebank he would try to manage so as to be going down on
Jack Davis’ day that their friendship might be renewed.
Both Bert and his mother were very glad to get to bed that night.
Coaching is fine fun in fine weather, but it is fatiguing, nevertheless.
You cannot ride all day in a coach without more or less backache, and
Bert was so sleepy that, but for his mother preventing him, he would
have flung himself upon his bed without so much as taking off his boots.
He managed to undress all right enough, however, and then slept like a
top until next morning.
Bright and early they took the train, and by midday were at Halifax,
where Mr. Lloyd and Mary received them with open arms and many a glad
After allowing him a few days to settle down to home life again, the
question of Bert’s going to school was raised. He was now full eight
years of age, and quite old enough to make a beginning. His mother and
sister had between them given him a good start in the “three R’s” at
home, for he was an apt pupil, and he was quite ready to enter a larger
At first his parents were somewhat undecided as to whether they would
send him to a school presided over by a woman or a man. It was usual in
Halifax for those who preferred the private to the public schools to
send their boys for a year or two to a dame’s school as a sort of easy
introduction to school life; and in the very same street as that in
which the Lloyds lived there was such a school where two rather gaunt
and grim old-maid sisters aided one another in the application of primer
and taws. To this institution Mrs. Lloyd thought it would be well for
Bert to go. His father had no very decided views to the contrary, but on
Bert himself being consulted, it became very clear that his mind was
quite made up.
“Please don’t send me to 'Old Goggles’ school, father,” pleaded he,
“‘Old Goggles!’ Why, Bert, what do you mean by calling Miss Poster by
such a name as that?”
“It’s most disrespectful,” interrupted his mother, with a very much
shocked expression, while Mr. Lloyd tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to
conceal a smile beneath his moustache.
“Well, mother, that’s what they all call her,” explained Bert.
“Even though they do, Bert, you should not. Miss Poster is a lady, and
you must act the gentleman toward her,” replied Mrs. Lloyd. “But why
don’t you want to go to school there? Several boys about your own age
“Oh, because a lot of girls go there, and I don’t want to go to school
with girls,” was Master Bert’s ungallant reply.
Mr. Lloyd, who had evidently been much amused at the conversation, now
joined in it by drawing Bert toward him and asking, in a half-serious,
“Is my boy Bert afraid of little girls?”
Bert’s face flushed till it was crimson, and dropping his head upon his
breast, he muttered:
“I’m not afraid of them, but I don’t like ’em, and I don’t want to go to
school with ’em.”
The fact of the matter was that Bert not only had his full share of the
repugnance to the other, sex common to all boys of his age, but he had
besides a strong notion that it was not a manly thing to go to school
with girls, and if there was one thing more than another that he aspired
after, it was manliness.
Mr. Lloyd thoroughly understood his son’s feelings, and felt disposed to
humour them. Accordingly, lifting up his head, he gave him a kiss on the
“Very well, Bert; we’ll see about it. Since you have such decided
objections to Miss Goggles’—I beg her pardon, Miss Poster’s—excellent
establishment, I will make inquiry, and see if I cannot find something
that will suit you better. I want you to like your school, and to take
an interest in it.”
Bert’s face fairly beamed at these words, and he heaved a huge sigh of
relief which brought another smile out on his father’s countenance.
“You’re such a good father,” said Bert, hugging his knees, and there the
matter dropped for a few days.
When it came up again, Mr. Lloyd had a new proposition to make. In the
interval he had been making some inquiries, and had been recommended to
send his boy to a school just lately established by an accomplished
young lawyer, who had adopted that method of earning an honest penny
while waiting for his practice to become more lucrative. It was a good
deal of an experiment, Mr. Lloyd thought but possibly worth trying.
Accordingly, one fine morning in October, behold Master Bert in a rather
perturbed frame of mind trotting along beside his father, who pretended
not to be aware of his son’s feelings, although at the same time seeking
in every way to divert him. But it was not with much success. Bert felt
thoroughly nervous over the new experience that awaited him. He had
never seen Mr. Garrison, who was to be his teacher, and imagined him as
a tall, thin man with a long beard, a stern face, a harsh voice, and an
ever-ready “cat-o’-nine tails.” As for his future schoolmates, they were
no doubt a lot of rough, noisy chaps, that would be certain to “put him
through a course of sprouts ” before they would make friends with him.
If, then, such thoughts as these filled Bert’s mind, it must not be
wondered at that he lagged a good deal both as to his talking and
walking, although he was always spry enough with both when out with his
father. Much sooner than he wished they reached the building, a large
rambling stone structure, only one room of which was occupied by the
school; they climbed the broad free-stone staircase to the upper storey,
knocked at a door from behind which came a confused hum of voices, and
being bidden “Come in,” entered a big room that at first seemed to Bert
to be completely filled by a misty sea of faces with every eye turned
right upon him. He cowered before this curious scrutiny, and but for his
father’s restraining grasp would probably have attempted a wild dash for
the still unclosed door, when he heard his father saying:
“Good-morning, Mr. Garrison; I have brought my boy to place him in your
care for a while, if you will have him as a pupil.” Looking up, Bert
beheld a person approaching very different from the schoolmaster of his
Mr. Garrison was indeed tall, but there the similarity ended. He was
youthful, slight, and very attractive in appearance, his manner being
exceedingly graceful and easy, as he came forward with a winning smile
upon his countenance, and extending his right hand to Mr. Lloyd, placed
the other upon Bert’s shoulder, and said, in a mellow, pleasant voice:
“Good-morning, Mr. Lloyd. I shall be very glad indeed to have your boy
in my school, and if he is anything like as good a man as his father, he
will make one of my very best pupils.”
Mr. Lloyd laughed heartily at this flattering remark. “Listen to that,
Bert,” said he. “When you are in any doubt just how to behave, you have
only to ask yourself what I would do under the same circumstances, and
act accordingly.” Then, turning to Mr. Garrison, he said: “Perhaps you
would like me to join your school, too, so as to set a good example to
the other boys.”
“Right glad would I be to have you, Mr. Lloyd,” answered Mr. Garrison,
with a cordial smile. “Many a time I find my boys almost too much for
one man to handle.”
Bert, clinging fast to his father’s hand, and half-hoping he was in
earnest, felt a pang of disappointment when he replied:
“I’m afraid it’s too late, Mr. Garrison. My schooldays are past; except
so far as I may be able to live them over with this little chap here. I
will leave him with you now; do your best with him. He can learn well
enough when he likes, but he is just as fond of fun as any youngster of
his age.” Then giving Bert an affectionate pat on the shoulder, and
whispering in his ear, “Now, be a man, Bert,” Mr. Lloyd went away, and
Bert followed Mr. Garrison up to the desk, where his name, age, and
address were duly entered in the register book.
The next business was to assign him a seat. A few questions as to what
he knew showed that his proper place was in the junior class of all, and
there accordingly Mr. Garrison led him. A vacancy was found for him in a
long range of seats, extending from the door almost up to the desk, and
he was bidden sit down beside a boy who had been eyeing him with lively
curiosity from the moment of his entrance into the room. So soon as Mr.
Garrison went away, this boy opened fire upon the new-comer.
“Say, sonny, what’s yer name?” he asked, with unhesitating abruptness.
Bert looked the questioner all over before replying. He was a short,
stout, stubble-haired chap, evidently a year or two older than himself,
with a broad, good-humoured face, and the inspection being, upon the
whole, satisfactory, Bert replied, very pleasantly:
“Bert Lloyd—and what’s yours?”
Ignoring the question put to him, the other boy gave a sort of grunt
that might be taken as an expression of approval of his new schoolmate’s
name, and then said:
“Guess you don’t live down our way; never seen you before, that I know
“I live in Fort Street. Where do you live?” replied Bert, giving
question for question.
“I’m a West-ender,” said the other, meaning that his home was in the
western part of the city.
“But what’s your name?” asked Bert again.
“Oh, my name’s Frank Bowser,” was the careless reply. “But everybody
calls me ‘Shorty,’ and you may as well, too.”
“All right,” said Bert. And the two began to feel quite good friends at
As the morning passed, and Bert came to feel more at home, he took in
the details of his surroundings. Mr. Garrison’s school consisted of some
fifty boys, ranging in age from sixteen downward, Bert being about the
youngest of them all. They all belonged to the better class, and were,
upon the whole, a very presentable lot of pupils. Scanning their
countenances curiously as they sat at their desks or stood up in rows
before the teacher to recite, Bert noticed more than one face that he
instinctively liked, and, being charmed with Mr. Garrison, and well
pleased with his new friend “Shorty,” his first impressions were
He had, of course, nothing to do that morning, save to look about him,
but Mr. Garrison gave him a list of books to be procured, and lessons to
be learned in them before the school broke up for the day; and with this
in his pocket he went home in excellent spirits, to tell them all there,
how well he had got on his first day in school.