THE VISITOR AT THE LODGE

THAT spring, like other springs, passed away. The London season was
longer than usual, for Parliament had weighty and important matters
to discuss, and families longing to be in the country were obliged to
remain in hot, dusty London till August. Amongst the number of these
was that of Sir John Tralaway, who was an active member of the House
of Commons. But at length the House broke up, and without loss of
time the great world fled from the heated atmosphere to go and enjoy
either the mountain breezes of Switzerland or the refreshing shades
of English country houses.

Sir John’s domestics went off as usual a day or two before the rest
of the family, to make all ready for their arrival. No one was better
pleased than Dick that the season was over. He liked to see the
ladies walking or riding about the grounds, and to have their kind
smile and almost daily greeting. Also he loved to have the
encouraging word which was sure to be given by Sir John when he had
questioned Naylor and the schoolmaster about him, and heard a good
report.

On the day when the servants were to arrive, Mrs Naylor told Dick
that she had a friend coming to visit them, and she should be glad if
he would give up his room for the time. She proposed making him up a
bed in her boys’ room, at which arrangement the two youngsters
expressed their warm approbation, for Dick was as great a favourite
with them as ever. When evening came he took care to be in the way to
open the gate, and so be the first to give a welcome.

The carriage came and turned in, but instead of driving on, it
stopped at the lodge. The door behind was opened, and the footman
assisted out an old gentleman, who wore a great-coat, notwithstanding
its being a warm evening, and a well-brushed beaver hat. Mrs Naylor
hastened out to receive him, but before she could speak Dick had
flown into Walters’ arms.

It had been kind Sir John’s contrivance to give him a surprise. He
had asked the Naylors to receive him as their guest, and when he
found their willingness to do so, he proposed to him to go down into
the country with his servants, and spend several weeks under the same
roof as Dick.

[Illustration: THE MEETING OF MR WALTERS AND DICK.]

He knew the pleasure it would give to both to be together again. He
had desired that Dick should not be told who was Mrs Naylor’s
expected guest.

Dick was more altered than Walters. He had grown taller and stouter,
and his cheeks were rounder and more rosy than they had been when he
lived in Roan’s Court.

“Now come in, Mr Walters,” said Mrs Naylor, when the first surprise
and greeting was over. “Come in, we’ll do our best to make you
comfortable, and I’m sure I hope you’ll spend a pleasant time here.
It shan’t be our fault if you don’t. As for Dick, I expect he won’t
sleep a wink to-night for joy.”

It was a pleasant reception, and when the old man went to bed in
Dick’s little chamber, he kneeled and thanked God for this new and
unexpected mercy that had been vouchsafed him. As for Dick, far from
fulfilling Mrs Naylor’s prognostication that he would not sleep a
wink, he was in so profound a slumber, at the hour when the other two
lads awoke in the morning, that they had a delightful excuse for
jumping on his bed and playing off a variety of tricks in order, as
they said, to “arouse him thoroughly.”

Very pleased and proud was Dick to take his old friend over the
gardens and numerous glass-houses, containing such fruits and flowers
as he had never seen even in former days, when he had visited with
his master at gentlemen’s houses. Dick had an entire holiday given
him the day after Walters’ arrival, both from school and from
gardening, and Mr Naylor told him to take his friend where he liked.
Such a permission made him feel of almost as much importance as if he
were master of the estate himself. He found it difficult to limit his
own pace to that of Walters’, so eager was he to go from one place to
another, always assuring him the next thing he had to show was far
better than any he had yet seen. Walters’ admiration quite satisfied
him, for it was unbounded.