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"It wasn't a pleasant affair at all," said Cresswell, "but thunderstorms do clear the air sometimes, and I think Templeton understands itself better now."
"Of course we shall have Pledge still," said Freckleton, "but, as long as fellows know what he is, he's not dangerous. It's when he gets hold of young greenhorns like Heathcote and Coote he does mischief."
"He never got hold of me," said Coote.
"I was an a.s.s to let him make a cad of me," said Heathcote. "I had warning, you know; the Ghost wrote to me before I'd been here a fortnight."
"What Ghost?" asked Mr Richardson.
"n.o.body knows," said he, "though some of us guess."
"Who? Was it you?" asked d.i.c.k. "I got a letter too, you know."
"No; it wasn't I."
"Then, by Jove! it must have been Freckleton," exclaimed d.i.c.k, interpreting the guilty look on the Hermit's face. "Was it, I say?"
"'_Dominat qui in se dominatur_'!" said the Hermit in a sepulchral tone.
"Yes, my boy; but keep it mum. I shan't waste my Latin over you again in a hurry."
"Your letter really made me sit up," said d.i.c.k, gravely.
"Well, I expect," said Cresswell, "if Templeton goes on as she's doing now, the poor Ghost will be hard up for a job. Mansfield is the right man in the right place, and he's more right than ever now."
"That he is," said Freckleton, warmly. "I can tell you fellows that, in spite of his iron hand, he's one of the humblest fellows that ever lived. I believe he prays for Templeton night and morning, and that's more than a lot of us do, I fear."
"After all," said Mr Richardson, "that's the best sort of Christian. A man who lives up to what he believes will lead fifty, where a man who believes more than he acts up to will barely lead one."
"It strikes me," said Freckleton, "it's no joke to be a leader of men, or boys either; is it, d.i.c.k?"
"Oh, I don't know," said d.i.c.k. "It's no good as long as you don't go quite straight yourself. You've got to go square yourself, I suppose, before any one else will back you up."
"Yes," said Coote; "we couldn't back you up, you know, while you were going on as you were, could we, d.i.c.k?"
"Didn't look like it," said d.i.c.k, with a grin.
"But I expect d.i.c.k thinks it was worth his while to have to go steady,"
said Cresswell. "It's done your 'Firm' no harm, has it?"
"Rather not!" said the "Firm," returning to their supper.