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his face, while the tear glistened in his eye; "Oh, that

thought will comfort me. much as He does love you.' I, can I think it is so ?"

What blessed words! 'inas-
Do say them again. May

"I will-I do say them again," answered his friend, smiling with sincere affection on his young companion. "Because He hath set His love upon you, therefore will He deliver you.' But, dearest Eustace, LET Him refine you; LET Him check you in His own way, and all will be right at last."

"Let Him!" said Eustace. "Let Him! Oh, Evelyn!" "Yes, dear fellow; yes, I know what you feel, and how anxious and sincere you are; but it is not impossible that nevertheless you may resist unknowingly His chastisement by seeking for a more interesting or romantic mode of denial or sacrifice than He may Himself give you. And now to the point. Bear patiently the suffering which Mr. Cleffain's words have inflicted on you, but try and get to the bottom of it, and, if you are able, clear it all up. See Raymond or Stapleton, or get some one to put Mr. Cleffain right so far as the real truth is concerned. Do your best for this object, and if you fail, take it patiently, as being plainly God's will.”

"I will, I will," said Eustace; "that I will. I thank you so much, Evelyn; you always do me good."

By this time the friends had reached the end of the lane which brought Mr. Cleffain's house full in view. Raymond was standing in the garden, which formed a sort of crescent on one side of the old house.

"I will go to Raymond directly," said Eustace.

99

CHAPTER XII.

IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS.

WHILE the two friends had been walking together, a conversation of a very different kind had been passing between Raymond and Stapleton. The latter had thoroughly enjoyed himself at the home of his young friend. Everything was done which could be to make him happy. He was known to stand in a high position in society, and his father was anxious to secure his influence for Raymond. Raymond's mother tooa woman devoted to the world and its vain interests, had set her heart on the cultivation of his friendship. To win the approbation of the youth, and to secure his personal interest in her boy, was her one object. Stapleton, young as he was, was cunning, far-seeing, and deceitful in plan to an astonishing degree. He saw quickly through Raymond's more open and unsuspecting character. He had ulterior views of his own, and the wealth which would in all probability accrue to Raymond, was an object of no small importance to his scheming friend. If Stapleton's position could help Raymond, Raymond, as a very rich man, could more still benefit Stapleton. To secure the wealth (as we have already seen) for the former, had been the great design of the intriguer. He found Mr. Cleffain apparently easily persuaded. He also quickly discovered in the old gentleman a strong inclination to think much of a good position in the world, and a desire that the boys connected with him should make what he called useful friends. On this feeling Stapleton worked. He knew he should play a losing game if he attempted to as

Eustace's character directly. The force of truth and the counter influences of Evelyn and others would be too much for him, especially with so eccentric a person as Mr. Cleffain. To misrepresent Eustace on little points; to place him before the old gentleman as a boy lacking the energy and spirit which gets a boy or a man on in the world; to try to undermine his views of his moral courage, and things of that kind, were the weapons which he used in the first instance, and he was making way fast.

Mr. Cleffain was charmed with Stapleton's manner and address-with his social position-with his easy, agreeable, and attentive conduct to himself. Stapleton, for one so young, had a wonderful knowledge of human character, and knew well how much old people are pleased with the attentions of the young. There was just that shyness and peculiarity about Eustace's manner and appearance which gave Stapleton all the more advantage over him. The boy's very conscientiousness and scrupulosity often made him backward and silent when, had he spoken more out, he would have pleased the old gentleman far more. Mr. Cleffain did not understand Eustace; but Stapleton had a more formidable difficulty in Raymond. Raymond was a boy who was easily impressed and easily moved; but he had still many high and generous sentiments, and was peculiarly open to a horror of anything like taking a mean advantage or unfairness. We have seen already the reaction which was produced by Stapleton's too apparent effort to traduce Eustace.

"Well, and what of the old gentleman ?" said Stapleton, as the two lads were walking together up the lane; and as he knocked off the tops of the flowers with his stick, "Do you think you're making way ?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Raymond, carelessly; "I don't know, and I don't care."

"But you must care," said Stapleton. "I am working hard for you, and getting on well, and it's very hard if you won't back me, and all because of that stupid fool, Eustace, and some romantic view which you have got about him."

"Eustace is a very good fellow," said Raymond, climbing on to a gate, and sitting down, as he pulled down a briar rose which was clambering above his head. "A very good fellow, and you'll never get me to go dead against him, or to believe one thing against his character either."

There was a pause. Stapleton saw he was losing ground, and he must try another tack.

"Well," said he, "if you are determined, I can't help it; but I must open your eyes by another process-that of telling you the whole truth-what I had not meant to have done, and do not wish to do now."

"What?" said Raymond, again putting on the manner of a person determined not to be persuaded against his will and his convictions.

"What? Why Eustace isn't so good a fellow to you as you are to him. That's what I mean.'

"I don't understand," said Raymond, with a perplexed air.

"Well, I didn't mean to say it, but he has been taking away your character shamefully to Mr. Cleffain, doing all he can to injure you in his estimation,-and that, no doubt, all to secure the fortune. Everything which was true against you he said. He told the story about your cheating Entwistle, and your being sent up for a lie by Evans, how you did not work at school, and got into scrapes; and he just stuck so to the truth, that he could

prove his story if reference were made. I heard it from Burton, the footman-him who, you know, always hated Eustace, because he says he's so mean, that he never gave him anything when he took trouble and brought round the ponies, and that sort of thing, and that you always tipped him, and-"

"Yes, but," said Raymond, suddenly and eagerly, "how could he, for Eustace is so poor, and I, you know, have lots more money. It's unfair, it's grossly unfair to take away his character so. Cruelly unfair. Eustace is not mean he's the most generous fellow;" and Raymond's face coloured crimson with the eagerness with which he spoke.

"All

"Be quiet, be quiet," said his companion. right; hear me out, can't you? Burton, the other day, was in the anteroom, you know, just outside the octagon, and the curtains were drawn, so no one saw him, and he overheard Eustace slandering you most shamefully."

"But it's a vile thing of him to stand and overhear," said Raymond; "and it's worse of you to go and talk to such a fellow. I wonder-"

"Now be still," said Stapleton, "and just hear a fellow out. The old gentleman listens to it all, and winds up with begging Eustace when he gets home, to send him some particulars on paper, and Eustace said he would. It was, you know, that the old man might write to verify the statements. Well, but look here; here are these Clutterbucks coming. I'll go on byand-by."

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No, no, go on now," said Raymond, who was gradually getting into the toils which his wily companion was so skilfully entangling him in, and whose interest was waxing warmer in the matter, and his credulity getting stronger. "Go on now."

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