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thought, probably be in this "college"
some one fit to take the place of old Dr.
Munch, who must be got rid of, come what
might. At first, the resident "governors"—
the tradesmen of Helminghamthought it
best to write to two of their colleagues,
who were non-resident, and not by any
manner of means tradesmen, being, in fact,
two distinguished peers of the realm, who,
holding property in the neighbourhood,
had, for political reasons, thought fit to
cause themselves to be elected governors of
old Sir Ranulph Clinton's foundation. The
letters explaining the state of affairs, and
asking for advice, were duly written; but
matters political were at a standstill just
then; there was not the remotest chance of
an election for years; and so the two
private secretaries of the two noble lords
pitched their respective letters into their
respective waste-baskets, with mutual grins
of pity and contempt for the writers.
Thrown back on their own resources, the
resident governors determined on applying
to the rector; acting under the feeling that
he, as a clergyman, must have been to this
"college," and would doubtless be able to
put them in the way of securing such a
man as they required. And they were
right. The then rector, though an old
man, still kept up occasional epistolary intercourse
with such of his coevals as remained
at the university in the enjoyment
of dignities and fellowships; and, being himself
both literate and conscientious, was by
no means sorry to lend a hand towards the
removal of Dr. Munch, whom he looked
upon as a scandal to the cloth. A correspondence
entered into between the Rector
of Helmingham and the Principal of St.
Beowulph's College, Oxford, resulted in
the enforced resignation of Dr. Munch as
the head master of Helmingham Grammar
School, and the appointment of the
Reverend James Ashurst as his successor.
The old Doctor took his fate very calmly;
he knew that for a long time he had been
doing nothing, and had been sufficiently well
paid for it. He settled down in a pleasant
village in Kent, where an old crony of his
held the position of warden to a City Company's
charity, and this history knows him
no more.

When James Ashurst received his appointment
he was about eight-and-twenty,
had taken a double second class, had been
scholar and tutor of his college, and stood
well for a fellowship. By nature silent and
reserved, and having found it necessary for
the achievement of his position to renounce
nearly all societyfor he was by no means
a brilliant man, and his successes had been
gained by plodding industry, and constant
application rather than by the exercise of
any natural talentJames Ashurst had
but few acquaintances, and to them he
never talked of his private affairs. They
wondered when they heard that he had
renounced certain prospects, notably those
of a fellowship, for so poor a preferment as
two hundred pounds a year and a free
house: for they did not know that the odd,
shy, silent man had found time in the intervals
of his reading to win the heart of a
pretty, trusting girl, and that the great
hope of his life, that of being able to marry
her and take her to a decent home of
which she would be mistress, was about to
be accomplished.

On a dreary, dull day, in the beginning
of a bitter January, Mr. Ashurst arrived at
Helmingham. He found the schoolhouse
dirty, dingy, and uncomfortable, bearing
traces everywhere of the negligence and
squalor of its previous occupant; but the
chairman of the governors, who met him
on his arrival, told him that it should be
thoroughly cleaned and renovated during
the Easter holidays, and the mention of
those holidays caused James Ashurst' s
heart to leap and throb with an intensity
with which house-painting could not possibly
have anything to do. In the Easter
holidays he was to make Mary Bridger his
wife, and that thought sustained him splendidly
during the three dreary intervening
months, and helped him to make head
against a sea of troubles raging round him.
For the task on which he had entered was
no easy one. Such boys as had remained
in the school under the easy rule of Dr.
Munch were of a class much lower than
that for which the benefits of the foundation
had been contemplated by the benevolent
old knight, and having been unaccustomed
to any discipline, had arrived
at a pitch of lawlessness which required all
the new master's energy to combat. This
necessary strictness made him unpopular
with the boys, and, at first, with their
parents, who made loud complaints of their
children being "put upon," and in some cases
where bodily punishment had been inflicted
retribution had been threatened. Then,
the chief tradespeople and the farmers,
among whom Dr. Munch had been a daily
and nightly guest, drinking his mug of
ale or his tumbler of brandy-and-water,
smoking his long clay pipe, taking his hand
at whist, and listening, if not with pleasure,