IEŽ. 1-8] AT SCHOOL 37
the leader.'' 'He was very fond of fighting,' says his brother John, ' and would fight with me if he had nobody else.' But there was no malice in his com-bativeness. He liked fighting for fighting sake, and was quite good friends afterwards with the boy whom, he might have thrashed or who might have thrashed him. Insubordinate and headstrong in the hands of those for whom he did not care, he was obedient and docile with the people he loved. Even as a boy he had a keen sense of justice, and was ever ready to assist the weak and helpless. ' As a little boy/ writes his sister, Mrs. Dickinson, ' he showed that consideration for all things helpless and weak, whether human beings or animals, for which he was distinguished in after years.' 'One day,' says his mother, ' he thought the nurse was too severe with his sister Anna. Anna was placed in a room to be punished. Charles got into the room, put Anna on a table, rolled the table into a corner, and, standing in front of it with a big stick, kept the nurse at bay.'
In 1853, when Charlie was just six years, Mr. Parnell took him to England, and put him in charge of a lady who kept a boarding-school for girls near Yeovil, in Somersetshire. It was not the custom to take boys in the school, but an exception was made in the case of little Parnell. Mr. Parnell, so he told the mistress of the school, was anxious that Charlie should ' spend some of his earlier years in England, with someone who would mother him and cure his stammering.' After returning from the mid-summer holidays of 1854 the boy fell seriously ill with typhoid fever. * I nursed him/ says his schoolmistress, 'for six weeks, night and day, to an entire recovery/ and she adds: ' this formed a link between us which has made every event