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Dr. Wortle’s School

London, Chapman and Hall, 1881. 2v. Originally published in Blackwood's Magazine, May-Dec. 1880.

The Rev. Mr. Peacocke, after a brilliant record at Trinity, became vicepresident of a college in St. Louis, Missouri. While there he befriended the deserted wife of Ferdinand Lefroy and after having verified, as he thought, a report of the man’s death, married the widow. Soon after Lefroy returned, made himself known to them, but immediately disappeared again. Unable to trace him, the Peacockes left St. Louis and went to England. There they obtained positions in Dr. Wortle’s school where they became very popular, Mrs. Peacocke as house-mother for the smaller boys, and Mr. Peacocke as an inspiring teacher.

Stimulated by Mrs. Stantiloup, a woman who had been worsted by Dr. Wortle in a suit involving school fees, rumors arose that the past of the Peacockes would not bear investigation. The Bishop interfered and Dr. Wortle made inquiry of his teacher, whose story was sympathetically received. The same day Robert Lefroy, Ferdinand’s brother, appeared at the school in an attempt at blackmail, but, finding that the story he had to tell was already known, admitted that his brother had since died. To obtain proof of this statement Mr. Peacocke induced Lefroy to accompany him to San Francisco, where he located Ferdinand’s grave. On his return, Dr. Wortle performed another marriage ceremony, and the gossip gradually died down.

The love story of Mary Wortle and the young Lord Carstairs is incidental to the main theme.


"...contains a last addition to the long portrait gallery - a pedagogue in holy orders, in whom, to judge by his temperament, the artist must have taken an autobiographical interest.' - Escott