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The Amoung

I have thought myself justified in printing the following narrative, found

among the papers of my dead friend, Douglas Cameron, who left me

discretion to deal with them as I saw fit. It was written indeed, as its

opening words imply, rather for his own solace and relief than with the

expectation that it would be read by any other. But, painful and intimate

as it is in parts, I cannot think that any harm will be done by printing it

now, with some necessary alterations in the names of the characters

chiefly concerned.

Before, however, leaving the story to speak for itself, I should like to

state, in justice to my friend, that during the whole of my acquaintance

with him, which began in our college days, I never saw anything to

indicate the morbid timidity and weakness of character that seem to have

marked him as a boy. Reserved he undoubtedly was, with a taste for

solitude that made him shrink from the society of all but a small circle,

and with a sensitive and shy nature which prevented him from doing

himself complete justice; but he was very capable of holding his own on

occasion, and in his disposition, as I knew it, there was no want of moral

courage, nor any trace of effeminacy.

How far he may have unconsciously exaggerated such failings in the

revelation of his earlier self, or what the influence of such an experience

as he relates may have done to strengthen the moral fibre, are points on

which I can express no opinion, any more than I can pledge myself to the

credibility of the supernatural element of his story.

It may be that only in the boy's overwrought imagination, the innocent

Child-spirit came back to complete the work of love and pity she had

begun in life; but I know that he himself believed otherwise, and, truly, if

those who leave us are permitted to return at all, it must be on some

such errand as Marjory's.

Douglas Cameron's life was short, and in it, so far as I am aware, he met

no one who at all replaced his lost ideal. Of this I cannot be absolutely

certain, for he was a reticent man in such matters; but I think, had it

been so, I should have known of it, for we were very close friends. Onewould hardly expect, perhaps, that an ordinary man would remain faithful

all his days to the far-off memory of a child-love; but then Cameron was

not quite as other men, nor were his days long in the land.

And if this ideal of his was never dimmed for him by some grosser, and

less spiritual, passion, who shall say that he may not have been a better

and even a happier man in consequence.

* * * * *

It is not without an effort that I have resolved to break, in the course of

this narrative, the reserve maintained for nearly twenty years. But the

chief reason for silence is removed now that all those are gone who might

have been pained or harmed by what I have to tell, and, though I shrink

still from reviving certain memories that are fraught with pain, there are

others associated therewith which will surely bring consolation and relief.

I must have been about eleven at the time I am speaking of, and the

change which--for good or ill--comes over most boys' lives had not yet

threatened mine. I had not left home for school, nor did it seem at all

probable then that I should ever do so.

When I read (I was a great reader) of Dotheboys Hall and Salem House--

a combination of which establishments formed my notion of school-life--it

was with no more personal interest than a cripple might feel in perusing

the notice of an impending conscription; for from the battles of school-life

I was fortunately exempted.

I was the only son of a widow, and we led a secluded life in a London

suburb. My mother took charge of my education herself, and, as far as

mere acquirements went, I was certainly not behind other boys of my

age. I owe too much to that loving and careful training, Heaven knows, to

think of casting any reflection upon it here, but my surroundings were

such as almost necessar

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