ons were resisted, might reveal the whole plot, and this, again, would be destruction. If not,
he might be emboldened, by the possession of a damaging secret, to the most exorbitant demands.
These thoughts worried Mr. Kenyon, and robbed him of sleep.
What should he, or could he do?
Two things seemed desirable—to get rid of Oliver, and to leave Brentville for some place where neither Dr. Fox nor his injured wife could seek him out.
The more he thought of thi
s way out of the difficulty the better he liked it. There was nothing to bind him to Brentville except the possession of a handsome place. But this comprised in value not more than a tenth part of his—
that is, his wife's—possessions. Why should he not let or, st
t, and at once and forever leave Brentville? There were no friendly ties to sunder. He was not
popular in the village, and he knew it. He was popularly regarded as an interloper, who had no business with the property of which he had usurped the charge. Neither was Roland liked, as much on his own account as on his father's, for he strutted about
the village, turning up his nose at boys who would have been better off than himself in a worldly point of view but for his father's lucky marriage, and declining to engage in any game in which the first place was not accorded to him.
It was very different with Oliver. He was born to be popular. Though he possessed his share of pride, doubtless, he never showed it in an offensive manner. No poor boy ever felt ill at ease in his company. He was the life and soul of the playground, though he obtained an easy pre-eminence in the schoolroom.
"Oliver is worth a dozen of Roland!" was the common remark. "W
hat a pity he was left dependent on his step-father!"
en made to Oliver himself, but it was a subject which he was not willing to discuss. It seemed
to him that he would be reproaching his mother, to find fault with the provision she had made for his future.
It did seem to him, however, in his secret heart, that his mother had been misled by too blind a confidence in his step-father.
"I wish s
he had left me only one-quarter of the property, and left it independent of him," he thought more than once. "She couldn't know how disagreeable it would be to me to be dependent upon him."
Oliver thought this, but he did not say it.
The thought came to him again as he walked home from the house of Frank Dudley, twenty minutes after Roland had travelled over the same road.
"I wonder whether Mr. Kenyon will be up," he asked himself, as he rang the bell. "If he is, I suppose I must make up my mind for another volley. How different it was when my poor mother was alive!"
The door was opened by Mag
gie, the servant.
"Has Roland come home?" he asked.