'A little hand indeed,' said the poor schoolmaster. 'Far beyond all his companions, in his learning and his sports too, how did he ever come to be so fond of me!
'Not much, my dear,' returned the schoolmaster. 'I hoped to have seen him on the green to-night.
The schoolmaster lighted a candle, fastened the window-shutter, and closed the door.
'My favourite scholar!' said the poor schoolmaster, smoking a pipe he had forgotten to light, and looking mournfully round upon the walls.
The effect which this extraordinary reply produced on Miss Halcombe fully justified the anxiety which the schoolmaster had shown to prevent her from hearing it.
"I hope--indeed, I am sure, Miss Halcombe--that you are mistaken," said the schoolmaster. "The matter begins and ends with the boy's own perversity and folly.
Although Miss Halcombe did not seem to be convinced, she evidently felt that the schoolmaster's statement of the case was too sensible to be openly combated.
Not only the boy's own answers to your questions, but even a chance expression that dropped from the schoolmaster's lips in explaining his story, have forced the idea back into my mind.
"Aye, aye," muttered the schoolmaster
, as Adam disappeared, "there you go, stalking along--stalking along; but you wouldn't have been what you are if you hadn't had a bit of old lame Bartle inside you.
They looked at the little creature with a wonder that did not diminish, and the schoolmaster said: 'I am sorry your fine ladies are so inconsiderate.'
Her eyes met those of the schoolmaster, who had evidently expected to see a very different sort of person, and a murmured word or two of salutation passed between them.
She told him so, and they embraced, and walked on and came up with the schoolmaster.