SCOTS
CMSW

David Elginbrod

Author(s): Macdonald, George

Text

CHAPTER I.
THE FIR-WOOD.
… Of all the flowers in the mead,
Then love I most these flowers white and rede,
Such that men callen daisies in our town.
… I renne blithe
As soon as ever the sun ginneth west,
To see this flower, how it will go to rest,
For fear of night, so hateth she darkness;
Her cheer is plainly spread in the brightness
Of the sunne, for there it will unclose.
CHAUCER. — Prologue to the Legend of Good Women.
"MEG! whaur are ye gaein' that get, like a wull shuttle?
Come in to the beuk."
Meg's mother stood at the cottage door, with arms akimbo
and clouded brow, calling through the boles of a little forest of
fir-trees after her daughter. One would naturally presume that
the phrase she employed, comparing her daughter's motions to
those of a shuttle that had "gane wull," or lost its way, implied
that she was watching her as she threaded her way through the
trees. But although she could not see her, the fir-wood was
certainly the likeliest place for her daughter to be in; and the
figure she employed was not in the least inapplicable to Meg's
usual mode of wandering through the trees, that operation
being commonly performed in the most erratic manner possible.
It was the ordinary occupation of the first hour of almost every
day of Margaret's life. As soon as she woke in the morning,
the fir-wood drew her towards it, and she rose and went.
Through its crowd of slender pillars, she strayed hither and
thither, in an aimless manner, as if resignedly haunting the
neighbourhood of something she had lost, or, hopefully, that of
a treasure she expected one day to find.
It did not seem that she had heard her mother's call, for no
response followed; and Janet Elginbrod returned into the
cottage, where David of the same surname, who was already
seated at the white deal table with "the beuk," or large family
bible before him, straightway commenced reading a chapter in
the usual routine from the Old Testament, the New being
reserved for the evening devotions. The chapter was the fortieth
of the prophet Isaiah; and as the voice of the reader re-uttered
the words of old inspiration, one might have thought that it
was the voice of the ancient prophet himself, pouring forth the
expression of his own faith in his expostulations with the
unbelief of his brethren. The chapter finished — it is none of
the shortest, and Meg had not yet returned — the two knelt,
and David prayed thus:
"O Thou who holdest the waters in the hollow of ae han', and
carriest the lambs o' thy own making in thy bosom with the
other han', it would be altogether unworthy o' thee, and o' thy
Maijesty o' love, to require o' us that which thou knowest we
cannot bring unto thee, until thou enrich us with that same.
Therefore, like thine own bairns, we boo doon afore thee, an'
pray that thou wouldst tak' thy wull o' us, thy holy an' perfect
an' blessed wull o' us; for, O God, we are a' thine ain. An' for
oor lassie, wha's oot amo' thy trees, an' wha' we dinna think
forgets her Maker, though she may whiles forget her prayers,
Lord, keep her a bonnie lassie in thy sicht, as white and clean
in thy een as she is fair an' halesome in oors an oh! we
thank thee, Father in heaven, for giein' her to us. An' noo, for
a' oor wrang-duins an' ill-min'ins, for a' oor sins and trespasses
o' mony sorts, dinna forget them, O God, till thou pits them a'
richt, an' syne exerceese thy michty power e'en ower thine ain
sel, an' clean forget them a'thegither; cast them ahint thy
back, whaur e'en thine ain een shall ne'er see them again, that
we may walk bold an' upricht afore thee for evermore, an' see
the face o' Him wha was as muckle God in doin' thy biddin', as
gin he had been orderin' a' thing Himsel. For his sake, Ahmen."
I hope my readers will not suppose that I give this as a
specimen of Scotch prayers. I know better than that. David
was an unusual man, and his prayers were unusual prayers.
The present was a little more so in its style, from the fact that
one of the subjects of it was absent, a circumstance that rarely
happened. But the degree of difference was too small to be
detected by any but those who were quite accustomed to his
forms of thought and expression. How much of it Janet understood
or sympathized with, it is difficult to say; for anything
that could be called a thought rarely crossed the threshold of
her utterance. On this occasion, the moment the prayer was
ended, she rose from her knees, smoothed down her check apron,
and went to the door; where, shading her eyes from the sun
with her hand, she peered from under its penthouse into the
fir-wood, and said in a voice softened apparently by the exercise
in which she had taken a silent share,
"Whaur can the lassie be?"
And where was the lassie? In the fir-wood, to be sure, with
the thousand shadows, and the sunlight through it all; for at
this moment the light fell upon her far in its depths, and
revealed her hastening towards the cottage in as straight a line
as the trees would permit, now blotted out by a crossing shadow,
and anon radiant in the sunlight, appearing and vanishing as
she threaded the upright warp of the fir-wood. It was morning
all around her; and one might see that it was morning within
her too, as, emerging at last in the small open space around the
cottage, Margaret — I cannot call her Meg, although her mother
does — her father always called her "Maggy, my doo," Anglicé,
dove — Margaret approached her mother with a bright healthful
face, and the least possible expression of uneasiness on her fair
forehead. She carried a book in her hand.
"What gars ye gang stravaguin' that get, Meg, whan ye ken
weel eneuch ye sud a' been in to worship lang syne? An sae
we maun hae worship our lanes for want o' you, ye hizzy!"
"I didna ken it was sae late, mither," replied Margaret, in a
submissive tone, musical in spite of the rugged dialect into
which the sounds were fashioned.
"Nae dout! Ye had yer brakfast, an' ye warna that hungry
for the word. But here comes yer father, and ye'll no mend
for his flytin', I'se promise."
"Hoots! lat the bairn alane, Janet, my woman. The word'll
be mair to her afore lang."
"I wat she has a word o' her nain there. What beuk hae ye
gotten there, Meg? Whaur got ye 't?"
Had it not been for the handsome binding of the book in her
daughter's hand, it would neither have caught the eye, nor
roused the suspicions of Janet. David glanced at the book in
his turn, and a faint expression of surprise, embodied chiefly in
the opening of his eyelids a little wider than usual, crossed his
face. But he only said with a smile:
"I didna ken that the tree o' knowledge, wi' sic fair fruit,
grew in our wud, Maggy, my doo."
"Whaur gat ye the beuk?" reiterated Janet.
Margaret's face was by this time the colour of the crimson
boards of the volume in her hand, but she replied at once:
"I got it frae Maister Sutherlan', I reckon."
Janet's first response was an inverted whistle; her next,
another question:
"Maister Sutherlan'! wha's that o't?"
"Hoot, lass!" interposed David, "ye ken weel aneuch. It's
the new tutor lad, up at the hoose; a fine, douce, honest chield,
an' weel-faured, forby. Lat's see the bit beuky. lassie."
Margaret handed it to her father.
"Col-e-ridge's Poems," read David, with some difficulty.
"Tak' it hame direckly," said Janet.
"Na, na," said David; "a' the apples o' the tree o' knowledge
are no stappit wi sut an stew; an' gin this ane be, she'll sune
ken by the taste o't what's comin'. It's no muckle o' an ill
beuk 'at ye'll read, Maggy, my doo."
"Guid preserve's, man! I'm no sayin' it's an ill beuk. But
it's no richt to mak appintments wi' stranger lads i' the wud sae
ear' i' the mornin'. Is't noo, yersel, Meg?"
"Mither! mither!" said Margaret, and her eyes flashed
through the watery veil that tried to hide them, "hoo can ye?
Ye ken yersel I had nae appintment wi' him or ony man."
"Weel, weel!" said Janet; and, apparently either satisfied
with or overcome by the emotion she had excited, she turned
and went in to pursue her usual house-avocations; while David,
handing the book to his daughter, went away down the path
that led from the cottage door, in the direction of a road to be
seen at a little distance through the trees, which surrounded the
cottage on all sides. Margaret followed her mother into the
cottage, and was soon as busy as she with her share of the duties
of the household; but it was a good many minutes before the
cloud caused by her mother's hasty words entirely disappeared
from a forehead which might with especial justice be called the
sky of her face.
Meantime David emerged upon the more open road, and bent
his course, still through fir-trees, towards a house for whose sake
alone the road seemed to have been constructed.
CHAPTER II.
DAVID ELGINBROD AND THE NEW TUTOR.
… Concord between our wit and will
Where highest notes to godliness are raised,
And lowest sink not down to jot of ill.
What Languetus taught Sir Philip Sidney.
THE ARCADIA. — Third Eclogue.
THE House of Turriepuffit stood about a furlong from David's
cottage. It was the abode of the Laird, or landed proprietor,
in whose employment David filled several offices ordinarily
distinct. The estate was a small one, and almost entirely
farmed by the owner himself; who, with David's help, managed
to turn it to good account. Upon week-days, he appeared on
horseback in a costume more fitted for following the plough;
but he did not work with his own hands; and on Sundays was
at once recognizable as a country gentleman.
David was his bailiff or grieve, to overlook the labourers on
the estate; his steward to pay them, and keep the farm
accounts; his head gardener — for little labour was expended in
that direction, there being only one lady, the mistress of the
house, and she no patroness of useless flowers: David was in
fact the laird's general adviser and executor.
The laird's family, besides the lady already mentioned, consisted
only of two boys, of the ages of eleven and fourteen,
whom he wished to enjoy the same privileges he had himself
possessed, and to whom, therefore, he was giving a classical and
mathematical education, in view of the University, by means of
private tutors; the last of whom — for the changes were not
few, seeing the salary was of the smallest — was Hugh Sutherland,
the young man concerning whom David Elginbrod has
already given his opinion. But notwithstanding the freedom he
always granted his daughter, and his good opinion of Hugh as
well, David could not help feeling a little anxious, in his walk
along the road towards the house, as to what the apparent
acquaintance between her and the new tutor might evolve; but
he got rid of all the difficulty, as far as he was concerned, by
saying at last:
"What richt hae I to interfere? even supposin' I wanted to
interfere. But I can lippen weel to my bonny doo: an' for the
rest, she maun tak' her chance like the lave o 's. An' wha' kens
but it might jist be stan'in' afore Him, i' the very get that He
meant to gang. The Lord forgie me for speakin' o' chance, as
gin I believed in ony sic havers. There's no fear o' the lassie.
Gude mornin' t'ye, Maister Sutherlan'. That's a braw beuk o'
ballants ye gae the len' o' to my Maggy, this mornin', sir."
Sutherland was just entering a side-door of the house when
David accosted him. He was not old enough to keep from
blushing at David's words; but, having a good conscience, he
was ready with a good answer.
"It's a good book, Mr. Elginbrod. It will do her no harm,
though it be ballads."
"I'm in no dreed o' that, sir. Bairns maun hae ballants.
An', to tell the truth, sir, I'm no muckle mair nor a bairn in
that respeck mysel'. In fac, this verra mornin', at the beuk, I
jist thocht I was readin' a gran' godly ballant, an' it soundet
nane the waur for the notion o't."
"You should have been a poet yourself, Mr. Elginbrod."
"Na, na; I ken naething aboot yer poetry. I hae read auld
John Milton ower an' ower, though I dinna believe the half o't;
but, oh! weel I like some o' the bonny bitties at the en' o't."
"Il Penseroso, for instance?"
"Is that hoo ye ca't? I ken't weel by the sicht, but hardly
by the soun'. I aye missed the name o't, an' took to the thing
itsel'. Eh, man! — I beg yer pardon, sir — but its wonnerfu'
bonny!"
"I'll come in some evening, and we'll have a chat about it,"
replied Sutherland. "I must go to my work now."
"We'll a' be verra happy to see you, sir. Good mornin', sir."
"Good morning."
David went to the garden, where there was not much to be
done in the way of education at this season of the year; and
Sutherland to the school-room, where he was busy, all the rest
of the morning and part of the afternoon, with Cæsar and
Virgil, Algebra and Euclid; food upon which intellectual babes
are reared to the stature of college youths.
Sutherland was himself only a youth; for he had gone early
to college, and had not yet quite completed the curriculum.
He was now filling up with teaching, the recess between his
third and his fourth winter at one of the Aberdeen Universities.
He was the son of an officer, belonging to the younger branch of
a family of some historic distinction and considerable wealth.
This officer, though not far removed from the estate and title as
well, had nothing to live upon but his half-pay; for, to the
disgust of his family, he had married a Welsh girl of ancient
descent, in whose line the poverty must have been at least
coeval with the history, to judge from the perfection of its
development in the case of her father; and his relations made
this the excuse for quarrelling with him; so relieving themselves
from any obligations they might have been supposed to
lie under, of rendering him assistance of some sort or other.
This, however, rather suited the temperament of Major Robert
Sutherland, who was prouder in his poverty than they in their
riches. So he disowned them for ever, and accommodated himself,
with the best grace in the world, to his yet more straitened
circumstances. He resolved, however, cost what it might in
pinching and squeezing, to send his son to college before turning
him out to shift for himself. In this Mrs. Sutherland was
ready to support him to the utmost; and so they had managed
to keep their boy at college for three sessions; after the last of
which, instead of returning home, as he had done on previous
occasions, he had looked about him for a temporary engagement
as tutor, and soon found the situation he now occupied in the
family of William Glasford, Esq., of Turriepuffit, where he
intended to remain no longer than the commencement of the
session, which would be his fourth and last. To what he should
afterwards devote himself he had by no means made up his
mind, except that it must of necessity be hard work of some
kind or other. So he had at least the virtue of desiring to be
independent. His other goods and bads must come out in the
course of the story. His pupils were rather stupid and rather
good-natured; so that their temperament operated to confirm
their intellectual condition, and to render the labour of teaching
them considerably irksome. But he did his work tolerably well,
and was not so much interested in the result as to be pained at
the moderate degree of his success. At the time of which I
write, however, the probability as to his success was scarcely
ascertained, for he had been only a fortnight at the task.
It was the middle of the month of April, in a rather backward
season. The weather had been stormy, with frequent
showers of sleet and snow. Old winter was doing his best to
hold young Spring back by the skirts of her garment, and very
few of the wild flowers had yet ventured to look out of their
warm beds in the mould. Sutherland, therefore, had made but
few discoveries in the neighbourhood. Not that the weather
would have kept him to the house, had be had any particular
desire to go out; but, like many other students, he had no
predilection for objectless exertion, and preferred the choice of
his own weather indoors, namely, from books and his own
imaginings, to an encounter with the keen blasts of the North,
charged as they often were with sharp bullets of hail. When
the sun did shine out between the showers, his cold glitter upon
the pools of rain or melted snow, and on the wet evergreens
and gravel walks, always drove him back from the window with
a shiver. The house, which was of very moderate size and
comfort, stood in the midst of plantations, principally of Scotch
firs and larches, some of the former old and of great growth, so
that they had arrived at the true condition of the tree, which
seems to require old age for the perfection of its idea. There
was very little to be seen from the windows except this wood,
which, somewhat gloomy at almost any season, was at the
present cheerless enough; and Sutherland found it very dreary
indeed, as exchanged for the wide view from his own home on
the side of an open hill in the Highlands.
In the midst of circumstances so uninteresting, it is not to be
wondered at, that the glimpse of a pretty maiden should, one
morning, occasion him some welcome excitement. Passing
downstairs to breakfast, he observed the drawing-room door
ajar, and looked in to see what sort of a room it was; for so
seldom was it used that he had never yet entered it. There
stood a young girl, peeping, with mingled curiosity and reverence,
into a small gilt-leaved volume, which she had lifted
from the table by which she stood. He watched her for a
moment with some interest; when she, seeming to become
mesmerically aware that she was not alone, looked up, blushed
deeply, put down the book in confusion, and proceeded to dust
some of the furniture. It was his first sight of Margaret. Some
of the neighbours were expected to dinner, and her aid was in
requisition to get the grand room of the house prepared for the
occasion. He supposed her to belong to the household, till, one
day, feeling compelled to go out for a stroll, he caught sight of
her so occupied at the door of her father's cottage, that he perceived
at once that must be her home: she was, in fact, seated
upon a stool, paring potatoes. She saw him as well, and, apparently
ashamed at the recollection of having been discovered
idling in the drawing-room, rose and went in. He had met
David once or twice about the house, and, attracted by his appearance,
had had some conversation with him; but he did not
know where he lived, nor that he was the father of the girl
whom he had seen.
CHAPTER III.
THE DAISY AND THE PRIMROSE.
Dear secret Greenness, nursed below
Tempests and winds and winter nights!
Vex not that but one sees thee grow;
That One made all these lesser lights.
HENRY VAUGHAN.
IT was, of course, quite by accident that Sutherland had met
Margaret in the fir-wood. The wind had changed during the
night, and swept all the clouds from the face of the sky; and
when he looked out in the morning, he saw the fir-tops waving
in the sunlight, and heard the sound of a south-west wind
sweeping through them with the tune of running waters in its
course. It is a well-practised ear that can tell whether the
sound it hears be that of gently falling waters, or of wind
flowing through the branches of firs. Sutherland's heart, reviving
like a dormouse in its hole, began to be joyful at the
sight of the genial motions of Nature, telling of warmth and
blessedness at hand. Some goal of life, vague but sure, seemed
to glimmer through the appearances around him, and to stimulate
him to action. He dressed in haste, and went out to meet
the Spring. He wandered into the heart of the wood. The
sunlight shone like a sunset upon the red trunks and boughs
of the old fir-trees, but like the first sunrise of the world upon
the new green fringes that edged the young shoots of the
larches. High up, hung the memorials of past summers in the
rich brown tassels of the clustering cones; while the ground
under foot was dappled with sunshine on the fallen fir-needles,
and the great fallen cones which had opened to scatter their
autumnal seed, and now lay waiting for decay. Overhead, the
tops whence they had fallen, waved in the wind, as in welcome
of the Spring, with that peculiar swinging motion which made
the poets of the sixteenth century call them "sailing pines."
The wind blew cool, but not cold; and was filled with a
delicious odour from the earth, which Sutherland took as a sign
that she was coming alive at last. And the Spring he went out.
to meet, met him. For, first, at the foot of a tree, he spied a
tiny primrose, peeping out of its rough, careful leaves; and he
wondered how, by any metamorphosis, such leaves could pass
into such a flower. Had he seen the mother of the next spring--
messenger he was about to meet, the same thought would have
returned in another form. For, next, as he passed on with the
primrose in his hand, thinking it was almost cruel to pluck it,
the Spring met him, as if in her own shape, in the person of
Margaret, whom he spied a little way off, leaning against the
stem of a Scotch fir, and looking up to its top swaying overhead
in the first billows of the outburst ocean of life. He went up
to her with some shyness; for the presence of even a child--
maiden was enough to make Sutherland shy — partly from the
fear of startling her shyness, as one feels when drawing near a
couching fawn. But she, when she heard his footsteps, dropped
her eyes slowly from the tree-top, and, as if she were in her own
sanctuary, waited his approach. He said nothing at first, but
offered her, instead of speech, the primrose he had just plucked,
which she received with a smile of the eyes only, and the
sweetest "thank you, sir," he had ever heard. But while she
held the primrose in her hand, her eyes wandered to the book
which, according to his custom, Sutherland had caught up as
he left the house. It was the only well-bound book in his
possession; and the eyes of Margaret, not yet tutored by experience,
naturally expected an entrancing page within such beautiful
boards; for the gayest bindings she had seen, were those of
a few old annuals up at the house — and were they not fell of
the most lovely tales and pictures? In this case, however, her
expectation was not vain; for the volume was, as I have already
disclosed, Coleridge's Poems.
Seeing her eyes fixed upon the book — "Would you like to
read it?" said he.
"If you please, sir," answered Margaret, her eyes brightening
with the expectation of delight.
"Are you fond of poetry?"
Her face fell. The only poetry she knew was the Scotch
Psalms and Paraphrases, and such last-century verses as formed
the chief part of the selections in her school-books; for this was
it very retired parish, and the newer books had not yet reached
its school. She had hoped chiefly for tales.
"I dinna ken much about poetry," she answered, trying to
speak English. "There's an old book o't on my father's shelf;
but the letters o't are auld-fashioned, an' I dinna care aboot it."
"But this is quite easy to read, and very beautiful," said
Hugh.
The girl's eyes glistened for a moment, and this was all her
reply.
"Would you like to read it?" resumed Hugh, seeing no
further answer was on the road.
She held out her hand towards the volume. When he, in his
turn, held the volume towards her hand, she almost snatched it
from him, and ran towards the house, without a word of thanks
or leave-taking — whether from eagerness, or doubt of the propriety
of accepting the offer, Hugh could not conjecture. He
stood for some moments looking after her, and then retraced his
steps towards the house.
It would have been something, in the monotony of one of the
most trying of positions, to meet one who snatched at the offered
means of spiritual growth, even if that disciple had not been a
lovely girl, with the woman waking in her eyes. He commenced
the duties of the day with considerably more of energy
than he had yet brought to bear on his uninteresting pupils;
and this energy did not flag before its effects upon the boys
began to react in fresh impulse upon itself.
CHAPTER IV.
THE COTTAGE.
O little Bethlem! poor in walls,
But rich in furniture.
JOHN MASON'S Spiritual Songs.
THERE was one great alleviation to the various discomforts of
Sutherland's tutor-life. It was, that, except during school--
hours, he was expected to take no charge whatever of his
pupils. They ran wild all other times; which was far better,
in every way, both for them and for him. Consequently, he
was entirely his own master beyond the fixed margin of
scholastic duties; and he soon found that his absence, even
from the table, was a matter of no interest to the family. To
be sure, it involved his own fasting till the next meal-time came
round — for the lady was quite a household martinet; but that
was his own concern.
That very evening, he made his way to David's cottage, about
the country supper-time, when he thought he should most
likely find him at home. It was a clear, still, moonlit night
with just an air of frost. There was light enough for him to
see that the cottage was very neat and tidy, looking, in the
midst of its little forest, more like an English than a Scotch
habitation. He had had the advantage of a few months' residence
in a leafy region on the other side of the Tweed, and so
was able to make the comparison. But what a different leafage
that was from this! That was soft, floating, billowy; this
hard, stiff, and straight-lined, interfering so little with the
skeleton form, that it needed not to be put off in the wintry
season of death, to make the trees in harmony with the landscape.
A light was burning in the cottage, visible through the
inner curtain of muslin, and the outer one of frost. As he approached
the door, he heard the sound of a voice; and from the
even pitch of the tone, he concluded at once that its owner was
reading aloud. The measured cadence soon convinced him that
it was verse that was being read; and the voice was evidently
that of David, and not of Margaret. He knocked at the door.
The voice ceased, chairs were pushed back, and a heavy step
approached. David opened the door himself.
"Eh! Maister Sutherlan'," said he, "I thocht it micht aiblings
be yersel. Ye're welcome, sir. Come butt the hoose. Our
place is but sma'. but ye'll no min' sittin' doon wi' our ain sels
Janet, ooman, this is Maister Sutherlan'. Maggy, my doo, he's
a frien' o' yours, o' a day auld, already. Ye're kindly welcome,
Maister Sutherlan'. I'm sure it's verra kin' o' you to come an'
see the like o' huz."
As Hugh entered, he saw his own bright volume lying on
the table, evidently that from which David had just been
reading.
Margaret had already placed for him a cushioned arm-chair,
the only comfortable one in the house; and presently, the table
being drawn back, they were all seated round the peat-fire on
the hearth, the best sort for keeping feet warm at least. On
the crook, or hooked iron-chain suspended within the chimney,
hung a three-footed pot, in which potatoes were boiling away
merrily for supper. By the side of the wide chimney, or more
properly lum, hung an iron lamp, of an old classical form
common to the country, from the beak of which projected,
almost horizontally, the lighted wick — the pith of a rush. The
light perched upon it was small but clear, and by it David had
been reading. Margaret sat right under it, upon a creepie, or
small three-legged wooden stool. Sitting thus, with the light falling
on her from above, Hugh could not help thinking she looked
very pretty. Almost the only object in the distance from which
the feeble light was reflected, was the patch-work counterpane
of a little bed filling a recess in the wall, fitted with doors
which stood open. It was probably Margaret's refuge for the
night.
"Well," said the tutor, after they had been seated a few
minutes, and had had some talk about the weather — surely no
despicable subject after such a morning — the first of Spring —
"well, how do you like the English poet, Mr. Elginbrod?"
"Spier that at me this day week, Maister Sutherlan', an' I'll
aiblins answer ye; but no the nicht, no the nicht."
"What for no?" said Hugh, taking up the dialect.
"For ae thing, we're nae clean through wi' the auld sailor's
story yet; an' gin I hae learnt ae thing aboon anither, it's no
to pass jeedgment upo' halves. I hae seen ill weather half the
simmer, an' a thrang corn-yard after an' a', an' that o' the best.
No that I'm ill pleased wi' the bonny ballant aither."
"Weel, will ye jist lat me read the lave o't till ye?"
"Wi' muckle pleesur, sir, an' mony thanks."
He showed Hugh how far they had got in the reading of the
"Ancient Mariner"; whereupon he took up. the tale, and carried
it on to the end. He had some facility in reading with expression,
and his few affectations — for it must be confessed he was
not free of such faults — were not of a nature to strike uncritical
hearers. When he had finished, he looked up, and his eye
chancing to light upon Margaret first, he saw that her cheek
was quite pale, and her eyes overspread with the film, not of
coming tears, but of emotion notwithstanding.
"Well," said Hugh, again, willing to break the silence, and
turning towards David, "what do you think of it now you have
heard it all?"
Whether Janet interrupted her husband or not, I cannot
tell; but she certainly spoke first:
"Tshâvah!" — equivalent to pshaw — "it's a' lees. What for
are ye knittin' yer broos ower a leein' ballant — a' havers as weel
as lees?"
"I'm no jist prepared to say sae muckle, Janet," replied
David; "there's mony a thing 'at's lees, as ye ca't, 'at's no lees
a' through. Ye see, Maister Sutherlan', I'm no gleg at the
uptak, an' it jist taks me twise as lang as ither fowk to see to
the ootside o' a thing. Whiles a sentence 'ill leuk to me clean
nonsense a'thegither; an' maybe a haill ook efter, it'll come
upo' me a' at ance; an' fegs! it's the best thing in a' the
beuk."
Margaret's eyes were fixed on her father with a look which
can only call faithfulness, as if every word he spoke was truth,
whether she could understand it or not.
"But perhaps we may look too far for meanings sometimes,"
suggested Sutherland.
"Maybe, maybe; but when a body has a suspeecion o' a
trowth, he sud never lat sit till he's gotten eyther hit, or an assurance
that there's nōthing there. But there's jist ae thing in
the poem 'at I can pit my finger upo', an' say 'at it's no richt
clear to me whether it's a' straucht-foret or no?"
"What's that, Mr. Elginbrod?"
"It's jist this — what for a' thae sailor-men fell doon deid, an
the chield 'at shot the bonnie burdie, an' did a' the mischeef
cam' to little hurt i' the 'en — comparateevely."
"Well," said Hugh, "I confess I'm not prepared to answer
the question. If you get any light on the subject" —
"Ow, I daursay I may. A heap o' things comes to me as
I'm takin' a daunder by mysel' i' the gloamin'. I'll no say
thing's wrang till I hae tried it ower an' ower; for maybe I
haena a richt grip o' the thing ava."
"What can ye expec, Dawvid, o' a leevin' corp, an' a' that
— twa hunner corps — fower times fifty's twa hunner — an
angels turnin' sailors, an' sangs gaein fleein' aboot like laverocks
and tummelin' doon again, tired like? — Gude preserve's a'!"
"Janet, do ye believe 'at ever a serpent spak?"
"Hoot! Dawvid, the deil was in him, ye ken."
"The deil a word o' that's i' the word itsel, though," rejoined
David with a smile.
"Dawvid," said Janet, solemnly, and with some consternation,
"ye're no gaein' to tell me, sittin' there, 'at ye dinna believe
ilka word 'at's prentit atween the twa brods o' the Bible? What
will Maister Sutherlan' think o' ye?"
"Janet, my bonnie lass —" and here David's eyes beamed
upon his wife — "I believe as mony o' them as ye do, an' maybe
a wheen mair, my dawtie. Keep yer min' easy aboot that. But
ye jist see 'at fowk warna a'thegither saitisfeed aboot a sairpent
speikin', an' sae they leukit aboot and aboot till at last the
fand the deil in him. Gude kens whether he was there or no.
Noo, ye see hoo, gin we was to leuk weel aboot thae corps, an'
thae angels, an' a' that queer stuff — but oh! it's bonny stuff tee!
— we micht fa' in wi' something we didna awthegither expec,
though we was leukin' for't a' the time. Sae I maun jist think
aboot it, Mr. Sutherlan'; an' I wad fain read it ower again, afore
I lippen on giein' my opingan on the maitter. Ye cud lave the
bit beukie, sir? We'se tak' guid care o't."
"Ye're verra welcome to that or ony ither beuk I hae," replied
Hugh, who began to feel already as if he were in the hands of
superior.
"Mony thanks; but ye see, sir, we hae eneuch to chow upo'
for an aucht days or so."
By this time the potatoes were considered to be cooked, and
were accordingly lifted off the fire. The water was then poured
away, the lid put aside, and the pot hung once more upon the
crook, hooked a few rings further up in the chimney, in order
that the potatoes might be thoroughly dry before they were
served. Margaret was now very busy spreading the cloth and
laying spoon and plates on the table. Hugh rose to go.
"Will ye no bide," said Janet, in a most hospitable tone,
"an' tak' a het pitawta wi' us?"
"I'm afraid of being troublesome," answered he.
"Nae fear o' that, gin ye can jist pit up wi' oor hamely meat."
"Mak nae apologies, Janet, my woman," said David.
"het pitawta's aye guid fare, for gentle or semple. Sit ye doun
again, Maister Sutherlan'. Maggy, my doo, whaur's the milk?
"I thocht Hawkie wad hae a drappy o' het milk by this time,
said Margaret, "and sae I jist loot it be to the last; but
hae't drawn in twa minutes." And away she went with a jug,
commonly called a decanter in that part of the north, in her hand,
"That's hardly fair play to Hawkie," said David to Janet
with a smile.
"Hoot! Dawvid, ye see we haena a stranger ilka nicht."
"But really," said Hugh, "I hope this is the last time you
will consider me a stranger, for I shall be here a great many
times — that is, if you don't get tired of me."
"Gie us the chance at least, Maister Sutherlan'. It's no
sma' preevilege to fowk like us to hae a frien' wi' sae muckle
buik learnin' as ye hae, sir."
"I am afraid it looks more to you than it really is."
"Weel, ye see, we maun a' leuk at the starns free the hicht
o' oor ain een. An' ye seem nigher to them by a lang growth
than the lave o's. My man, ye ought to be thankfu'."
With the true humility that comes of worshipping the Truth,
David had not the smallest idea that he was immeasurably
nearer to the stars than Hugh Sutherland.
Maggie having returned with her jug full of frothy milk, and
the potatoes being already heaped up in a wooden bowl or
bossie in the middle of the table, sending the smoke of their
hospitality to the rafters, Janet placed a smaller wooden bowl,
called a caup, filled with deliciously yellow milk of Hawkie's latest
gathering, for each individual of the company, with an attendant
horn-spoon by its side. They all drew their chairs to the table,
and David, asking no blessing, as it was called, but nevertheless
giving thanks for the blessing already bestowed, namely, the
perfect gift of food, invited Hugh to make a supper. Each, in
primitive but not ungraceful fashion, took a potatoe from the
dish with the fingers, and ate it, "bite and sup," with the help
of the horn-spoon for the milk. Hugh thought he had never
supped more pleasantly, and could not help observing how far
real good-breeding is independent of the forms and refinements
of what has assumed to itself the name of society.
Soon after supper was over, it was time for him to go; so,
after kind hand-shakings and good nights, David accompanied
him to the road, where he left him to find his way home by the
star-light. As he went, he could not help pondering a little
over the fact that a labouring man had discovered a difficulty,
perhaps a fault, in one of his favourite poems, which had never
suggested itself to him. He soon satisfied himself, however, by
coming to the conclusion that the poet had not cared about the
matter at all, having had no further intention in the poem than
Hugh himself had found in it, namely, witchery and loveliness.
But it seemed to the young student a wonderful fact, that the
intercourse which was denied him in the laird's family, simply
from their utter incapacity of yielding it, should be afforded him
in the family of a man who had followed the plough himself
once, perhaps did so still, having risen only to be the overseer
and superior assistant of labourers. He certainly felt, on his
way home, much more reconciled to the prospect of his sojourn
at Turriepuffit, than he would have thought it possible he ever
should.
David lingered a few moments, looking up at the stars, before
he re-entered his cottage. When he rejoined his wife and child,
he found the Bible already open on the table for their evening
devotions. I will close this chapter, as I began the first, with
something like his prayer. David's prayers were characteristic
of the whole man; but they also partook, in far more than
ordinary, of the mood of the moment. His last occupation had
been star-gazing:
"O thou, wha keeps the stars alicht, an' our souls burnin' wi'
a licht aboon that o' the stars, grant that they may shine afore
thee as the stars for ever and ever. An' as thou hauds the
stars burnin' a' the nicht, whan there's no man to see, so haud
thou the licht burnin' in our souls, whan we see neither thee
nor it, but are buried in the grave o' sleep an' forgetfu'ness.
Be thou by us, even as a mother sits by the bedside o' her
ailin' wean a the lang nicht; only be thou nearer to us, even
in our verra souls, an' watch ower the warl' o' dreams that they
mak' for themsels. Grant that more an' more thochts o' thy
thinkin' may come into our herts day by day, till there shall be
at last an open road atween thee an' us, an' thy angels may
ascend and descend upon us, so that we may be in thy heaven,
e'en while we are upo' thy earth: Amen."
CHAPTER V.
THE STUDENTS.
In wood and stone, not the softest, but hardest, be always aptest for
portraiture, both fairest for pleasure, and most durable for profit. Hard
wits be hard to receive, but sure to keep; painful without weariness,
heedful without wavering, constant without new-fangleness; bearing
heavy things, though not lightly, yet willingly; entering hard things,
though not easily, yet deeply; and so come to that perfectness of learning
in the end, that quick wits seem in hope but do not in deed, or else very
seldom ever attain unto. — ROGER ASCHAM. — The Schoolmaster.
Two or three very simple causes united to prevent Hugh
from repeating his visit to David so soon as he would otherwise
have done. One was, that, the fine weather continuing, he was
seized with the desire of exploring the neighbourhood. The
spring, which sets some wild animals to the construction of new
dwellings, incites man to the enlarging of his, making, as it
were, by discovery, that which lies around him his own. So he
spent the greater parts of several evenings in wandering about the
neighbourhood; till at length the moonlight failed him. Another
cause was, that, in the act of searching for some books for
his boys, in an old garret of the house, which was at once
lumber room and library, he came upon some stray volumes of
the Waverley novels, with which he was as yet only partially
acquainted. These absorbed many of his spare hours. But
one evening, while reading the Heart of Midlothian, the thought
struck him — what a character David would have been for Sir
Walter. Whether he was right or not is a question; but the
notion brought David so vividly before him, that it roused the
desire to see him. He closed the book at once, and went to the
cottage.
"We're no lik'ly to ca' ye onything but a stranger yet,
Maister Sutherlan'," said David, as he entered.
"I've been busy since I saw you," was all the excuse Hugh
offered.
"Weel, ye'r welcome noo; and ye've jist come in time after
a', for it's no that mony hours sin' I fand it oot awthegither to
my ain settisfaction."
"Found out what?" said Hugh; for he had forgotten all
about the perplexity in which he had left David, and which had
been occupying his thoughts ever since their last interview.
"Aboot the cross-bow an' the birdie, ye ken," answered
David, in a tone of surprise.
"Yes, to be sure. How stupid of me!" said Hugh.
"Weel, ye see, the meanin' o' the haill ballant is no that ill
to win at, seein' the poet himsel' tells us that. It's jist no to
be proud or ill-natured to oor neebours, the beasts and birds,
for God made ane an' a' o's. But there's harder things in't nor
that, and yon's the hardest. But ye see it was jist an unlucky
thochtless deed o' the puir auld sailor's, an' I'm thinkin' he was
sair reprocht in's hert the minit he did it. His mates was fell
angry at him, no for killin' the puir innocent craytur, but for
fear o' ill luck in consequence. Syne when nane followed, they
turned richt roun', an' took awa' the character o' the puir
beastie efter 'twas deid. They appruved o' the verra thing 'at
he was nae Boot sorry for. — But onything to haud aff o' themsels!
Nae suner cam the calm, than roun' they gaed again like
the weathercock, an' naething wad content them bit hingin'
the deid craytur about the auld man's craig, an' abusin' him
forby. Sae ye see hoo they war a wheen selfish crayturs, an' a
hantle waur nor the man 'at was led astray into an ill deed.
But still he maun rue't. Sae Death got them, an' a kin' o'
leevin' Death, a she Death as 'twar, an' in some respecks may
be waur than the ither, got grips o' him, puir auld body! It's
a' fair and richt to the backbane o' the ballant, Maister Sutherlan',
an' that I'se uphaud."
Hugh could not help feeling considerably astonished to hear
this criticism from the lips of one whom he considered an
uneducated man. For he did not know that there are many
other educations besides a college one, some of them tending
far more than that to develope the common-sense, or faculty of
judging of things by their nature. Life intelligently met and
honestly passed, is the best education of all; except that higher
one to which it is intended to lead, and to which it had led
David. Both these educations, however, were nearly unknown
to the student of books. But he was still more astonished to
hear from the lips of Margaret, who was sitting by:
"That's it, father; that's it! I was jist ettlin' efter that
same thing mysel, or something like it, but ye put it in the
richt words exackly."
The sound of her voice drew Hugh's eyes upon her: he was
astonished at the alteration in her countenance. While she
spoke it was absolutely beautiful. As soon as she ceased
speaking, it settled back into its former shadowless calm. Her
father gave her one approving glance and nod, expressive of
no surprise at her having approached the same discovery as
himself, but testifying pleasure at the coincidence of their
opinions. Nothing was left for Hugh but to express his satisfaction
with the interpretation of the difficulty, and to add,
that the poem would henceforth possess fresh interest for him.
After this, his visits became more frequent; and at length
David made a request which led to their greater frequency still.
It was to this effect:
"Do ye think, Mr. Sutherlan', I could do onything at my
age at the mathematics? I unnerstan' weel eneuch hoo to
measur' lan', an' that kin' o' thing. I jist follow the rule. But
the rule itsel's a puzzler to me. I dinna understan' it by half.
Noo it seems to me that the best o' a rule is, no to mak ye able
to do a thing, but to lead ye to what maks the rule richt — to the
prenciple o' the thing. It's no 'at I'm misbelievin' the rule,
but I want to see the richts o't."
"I've no doubt you could learn fast enough," replied Hugh.
"I shall be very happy to help you with it."
"Na, na; I'm no gaein to trouble you. Ye hae eneuch to
do in that way. But if ye could jist spare me ane or twa o' yer
beuks whiles — ony o' them 'at ye think proper, I sud be muckle
obleeged to ye."
Hugh promised and fulfilled; but the result was, that, before
long, both the father and the daughter were seated at the
kitchen-table, every evening, busy with Euclid and Algebra;
and that, on most evenings, Hugh was present as their instructor.
It was quite a new pleasure to him. Few delights
surpass those of imparting knowledge to the eager recipient.
What made Hugh's tutor-life irksome, was partly the excess of
his desire to communicate, over the desire of his pupils to
partake. But here there was no labour. All the questions
were asked by the scholars. A single lesson had not passed,
however, before David put questions which Hugh was unable to
answer, and concerning which he was obliged to confess his
ignorance. Instead of being discouraged, as eager questioners
are very ready to be when they receive no answer, David merely
said, "Weel, weel, we maun bide a wee," and went on with
what he was able to master. Meantime Margaret, though
forced to lag a good way behind her father, and to apply much
more frequently to their tutor for help, yet secured all she got;
and that is great praise for any student. She was not by any
means remarkably quick, but she knew when she did not understand;
and that is a sure and indispensable step towards understanding.
It is indeed a rarer gift than the power of
understanding itself.
The gratitude of David was too deep to be expressed in any
formal thanks. It broke out at times in two or three simple
words when the conversation presented an opportunity, or in
the midst of their work, as by its own self-birth, ungenerated
by association.
During the lesson, which often lasted more than two hours,
Janet would be busy about the room, and in and out of it, with
a manifest care to suppress all unnecessary bustle. As soon
as Hugh made his appearance, she would put off the stout
shoes — man's shoes, as we should consider them — which she
always wore at other times, and put on a pair of bauchles; that
is, an old pair of her Sunday shoes, put down at heel, and so
converted into slippers, with which she could move about less
noisily. At times her remarks would seem to imply that she
considered it rather absurd in her husband to trouble himself
with book-learning; but evidently on the ground that he knew
everything already that was worthy of the honour of his
acquaintance; whereas, with regard to Margaret, her heart was
as evidently full of pride at the idea of the education her
daughter was getting from the laird's own tutor.
Now and then she would stand still for a moment, and gaze
at them, with her bright black eyes, from under the white frills
of her mutch, her bare brown arms akimbo, and a look of pride
upon her equally brown honest face.
Her dress consisted of a wrapper, or short loose jacket, of
printed calico, and a blue winsey petticoat, which she had a
habit of tucking between her knees, to keep it out of harm's
way, as often as she stooped to any wet work, or, more especially,
when doing anything by the fire. Margaret's dress was, in
ordinary, like her mother's, with the exception of the cap; but,
every evening, when their master was expected, she put off her
wrapper, and substituted a gown of the same material, a cotton
print; and so, with her plentiful dark hair gathered neatly
under a net of brown silk, the usual head-dress of girls in her
position, both in and out of doors, sat down dressed for the
sacrament of wisdom. David made no other preparation than
the usual evening washing of his large well-wrought hands, and
bathing of his head, covered with thick dark hair, plentifully
lined with grey, in a tub of cold water; from which his face,
which was "cremsin dyed ingrayne" by the weather, emerged
glowing. He sat down at the table in his usual rough blue
coat and plain brass buttons; with his breeches of broad-striped
corduroy, his blue-ribbed stockings, and leather gaiters, or
cuiticans, disposed under the table, and his shoes, with five rows
of broad-headed nails in the soles; projecting from beneath it on
the other side; for he was a tall man — six feet still, although
five-and-fifty, and considerably bent in the shoulders with hard
work. Sutherland's style was that of a gentleman who must
wear out his dress-coat.
Such was the group which, three or four evenings in the
week, might be seen in David Elginbrod's cottage, seated
around the white deal table, with their books and slates upon
it, and searching, by the light of a tallow candle, substituted
as more convenient, for the ordinary lamp, after the mysteries
of the universe.
The influences of reviving nature and of genial companionship
operated very favourably upon Hugh's spirits, and consequently
upon his whole powers. For some time he had, as I have
already hinted, succeeded in interesting his boy-pupils in their
studies; and now the progress they made began to be appreciable
to themselves as well as to their tutor. This of course
made them more happy and more diligent. There were no
attempts now to work upon their parents for a holiday; no real
or pretended head or tooth-aches, whose disability was urged
the greater torture of ill-conceded mental labour.
They began in fact to understand; and, in proportion to the
beauty and value of the thing understood, to understand is to
enjoy. Therefore the laird and his lady could not help seeing
that the boys were doing well, far better in fact than they had
ever done before; and consequently began not only to prize
Hugh's services, but to think more highly of his office than had
been their wont. The laird would now and then invite him to
join him in a tumbler of toddy after dinner, or in a ride round
the farm after school hours. But it must be confessed that
these approaches to friendliness were rather irksome to Hugh;
for whatever the laird might have been as a collegian, he was
certainly now nothing more than a farmer. Where David
Elginbrod would have described many a "bonny sicht," the
laird only saw the probable results of harvest, in the shape of
figures in his banking book. On one occasion, Hugh roused his
indignation by venturing to express his admiration of the
delightful mingling of colours in a field where a good many
scarlet poppies grew among the green blades of the corn, indicating,
to the agricultural eye, the poverty of the soil where
they were found. This fault in the soil, the laird, like a child,
resented upon the poppies themselves.
"Nasty, ugly weyds! We'll hae ye admirin' the smut neist,"
said he, contemptuously; "'cause the bairns can bleck ane
anither's faces wi't."
"But surely," said Hugh, "putting other considerations aside,
you must allow that the colour, especially when mingled with
that of the corn, is beautiful."
"Deil hae't! It's jist there 'at I canna bide the sicht o't.
Beauty ye may ca' 't! I see nane o't. I'd as sune hae a reid--
heedit bairn, as see thae reid-coatit rascals i' my corn. I houp
ye're no gaen to cram stuff like that into the heeds o' the twa
laddies. Faith! we'll hae them sawin' thae ill-faured weyds
among the wheyt neist. Poapies ca' ye them? Weel I wat
they're the Popp's ain bairns, an' the scarlet wumman to the
mither o' them. Ha! ha! ha!"
Having manifested both wit and Protestantism in the closing
sentence of his objurgation, the laird relapsed into good humour
and stupidity. Hugh would gladly have spent such hours in
David's cottage instead; but he was hardly prepared to refuse
his company to Mr. Glasford.
CHAPTER VI.
THE LAIRD'S LADY.
Ye archewyves, standith at defence,
Sin ye been strong, as is a great camayle;
Ne suffer not that men you don offence.
And slender wives, fell as in battaile,
Beth eager, as is a tiger, yond in Inde;
Aye clappith as a mill, I you counsaile.
CHAUCER. — The Clerk's Tale.
THE length and frequency of Hugh's absences, careless as she
was of his presence, had already attracted the attention of Mrs.
Glasford; and very little trouble had to be expended on the
discovery of his haunt. For the servants knew well enough
where he went, and of course had come to their own conclusions
as to the object of his visits. So the lady chose to think it her
duty to expostulate with Hugh on the subject. Accordingly,
one morning after breakfast, the laird having gone to mount
his horse, and the boys to have a few minutes' play before
lessons, Mrs. Glasford, who had kept her seat at the head of the
table, waiting for the opportunity, turned towards Hugh who
sat reading the week's news, folded her hands on the tablecloth,
drew herself up yet a little more stiffly in her chair, and thus
addressed him:
"It's my duty, Mr. Sutherland, seein' ye have no mother to
look after ye —"
Hugh, expected something matronly about his linen or his
socks, and put down his newspaper with a smile; but, to his
astonishment, she went on —
— "To remonstrate wi' ye, on the impropriety of going so
often to David Elginbrod's. They're not company for a young
gentleman like you, Mr. Sutherland."
"They're good enough company for a poor tutor, Mrs. Glasford,"
replied Hugh, foolishly enough.
"Not at all, not at all," insisted the lady. "With your connexions
—"
"Good gracious! who ever said anything about my connexions?
I never pretended to have any." Hugh was getting
angry already.
Mrs. Glasford nodded her head significantly, as much as to
say, "I know more about you than you imagine," and then
went on:
"Your mother will never forgive me if you get into a scrape
with that smooth-faced hussy; and if her father, honest man,
hasn't eyes enough in his head, other people have — ay, an'
tongues too, Mr. Sutherland."
Hugh was on the point of forgetting his manners, and consigning
all the above mentioned organs to perdition; but he
managed to restrain his wrath, and merely said that Margaret
was one of the best girls he had ever known, and that there
was no possible danger of any kind of scrape with her. This
mode of argument, however, was not calculated to satisfy Mrs.
Glasford. She returned to the charge.
"She's a sly puss, with her shy airs and graces. Her father's
jist daft wi' conceit o' her, an' it's no to be surprised if she cast
a glamour ower you. Mr. Sutherland, ye're but young yet."
Hugh's pride presented any alliance with a lassie who had
herded the laird's cows barefoot, and even now tended their own
cow, as an all but inconceivable absurdity; and he resented,
more than he could have thought possible, the entertainment
of such a degrading idea in the mind of Mrs. Glasford. Indignation
prevented him from replying; while she went on, getting
more vernacular as she proceeded.
"It's no for lack o' company 'at yer driven to seek theirs, I'm
sure. There's twa as fine lads an' gude scholars as ye'll fin' in
the haill kintra-side, no to mention the laird and mysel'."
But Hugh could bear it no longer; nor would he condescend
to excuse or explain his conduct.
"Madam, I beg you will not mention this subject again."
"But I will mention 't, Mr. Sutherlan'; an' if ye'll no listen
to rizzon, I'll go to them 'at maun do't."
"I am accountable to you, madam, for my conduct in your
house, and for the way in which I discharge my duty to your
children — no further."
"Do ye ca' that dischairgin' yer duty to my bairns, to set
them the example o' hingin' at a quean's âpron-strings, and
fillin' her lug wi' idle havers? Ca' ye that dischairgin' yer
duty? My certie! a bonny dischairgin'!"
"I never see the girl but in her father and mother's
presence."
"Weel weel, Mr. Sutherlan'," said Mrs. Glasford, in a final
tone, and trying to smother the anger which she felt she had
allowed to carry her further than was decorous, "we'll say nae
mair aboot it at present; but I maun jist speak to the laird
himsel', an' see what he says till 't."
And, with this threat, she walked out of the room in what
he considered a dignified manner.
Hugh was exceedingly annoyed at this treatment, and
thought, at first, of throwing up his situation at once; but he
got calmer by degrees, and saw that it would be to his own loss,
and perhaps to the injury of his friends at the cottage. So he
took his revenge by recalling the excited face of Mrs. Glasford,
whose nose had got as red with passion as the protuberance of
a turkey-cock when gobbling out its unutterable feelings of
disdain. He dwelt upon this soothing contemplation till a fit
of laughter relieved him, and he was able to go and join his
pupils as if nothing had happened.
Meanwhile the lady sent for David, who was at work in the
garden, into no less an audience-chamber than the drawing--
room, the revered abode of all the tutelar deities of the house;
chief amongst which were the portraits of the laird and herself:
he, plethoric and wrapped in voluminous folds of neckerchief —
she long-necked, and lean, and bare-shouldered. The original
of the latter work of art seated herself in the most important
chair in the room; and when David, after carefully wiping the
shoes he had already wiped three times on his way up, entered
with a respectful but no wise obsequious bow, she ordered him,
with the air of an empress, to shut the door. When he had
obeyed, she ordered him, in a similar tone, to be seated; for she.
sought to mingle condescension and conciliation with severity.
"David," she then began, "I am informed that ye keep open
door to our Mr. Sutherland, and that he spends most forenichts
in your company."
"Weel, mem, it's verra true," was all David's answer. He
sat in an expectant attitude.
"Dawvid, I wonner at ye!" returned Mrs. Glasford, forgetting
her dignity, and becoming confidentially remonstrative.
"Here's a young gentleman o' talans, wi' ilka prospeck o'
waggin' his heid in a poopit some day; an' ye aid an' abet him
in idlin' awa' his time at your chimla-lug, duin' waur nor
naething ava! I'm surprised at ye, Dawvid. I thocht ye had
mair sense."
David looked out of his clear, blue, untroubled eyes, upon
the ruffled countenance of his mistress, with an almost paternal
smile.
"Weel, mem, I maun say I dinna jist think the young man's
in the warst o' company, when he's at our ingle-neuk. An' for
idlin' o' his time awa', it's weel waurd for himsel', forby for us,
gin holy words binna lees."
"What do ye mean, Dawvid?" said the lady rather sharply,
for she loved no riddles.
"I mean this, mem: that the young man is jist actin' the
pairt o' Peter an' John at the bonny gate o' the temple, whan
they said: 'Such as I have, gie I thee;' an' gin' it be more
blessed to gie than to receive, as Sant Paul says 'at the Maister
himsel' said, the young man 'ill no be the waur aff in's ain
learnin', that he impairts o't to them that hunger for't."
"Ye mean by this, Dawvid, gin ye could express yersel' to the
pint, 'at the young man, wha's ower weel paid to instruck my
bairns, neglecks them, an' lays himsel' oot upo' ither fowk's
weans, wha hae no richt to ettle aboon the station in which
their Mâker pat them."
This was uttered with quite a religious fervour of expostulation;
for the lady's natural indignation at the thought of Meg
Elginbrod having lessons from her boys' tutor, was cowed
beneath the quiet steady gaze of the noble-minded peasant father.
"He lays himsel' oot mair upo' the ither fowk themsels' than
upo' their weans, mem; though, nae doubt, my Maggy comes
in for a gude share. But for negleckin' o' his duty to you,
mem, I'm sure I kenna hoo that can be; for it was only yestreen
'at the laird himsel' said to me, 'at hoo the bairns had
never gotten on naething like it wi' ony ither body."
"The laird's ower ready wi's clavers," quoth the laird's wife,
nettled to find herself in the wrong, and forgetful of her own
and her lord's dignity at once. "But," she pursued, "all I can
say is, that I consider it verra improper o' you, wi' a young
lass-bairn, to encourage the nichtly veesits o' a young gentleman,
wha's sae far aboon her in station, an' dootless will some
day be farther yet."
"Mem!" said David, with dignity, "I'm willin' no to understan'
what ye mean. My Maggy's no ane 'at needs luikin'
efter; an' a body had need to be carefu' an' no interfere wi' the
Lord's herdin', for he ca's himsel' the Shepherd o' the sheep;
an' weel as I loe her I maun lea' him to lead them wha follow
him wherever he goeth. She'll be no ill guidit, and I'm no
gaeing to kep her at ilka turn."
"Weel, weel! that's yer ain affair, Dawvid, my man,"
rejoined Mrs. Glasford, with rising voice and complexion. "A'
at I hae to add is jist this: 'at as lang as my tutor veesits
her" —
"He veesits her no more than me, mem," interposed David;
but his mistress went on with dignified disregard of the interruption

"Veesits her, I canna, for the sake o' my own bairns, an' the
morals o' my, hoosehold, employ her aboot the hoose, as I was in
the way o' doin' afore. Good mornin', Dawvid. I'll speak to
the laird himsel' sin' ye'll no heed me."
"It's more to my lassie, mem, excuse me, to learn to unnerstan'
the works o' her Maker, than it is to be employed in your
household. Mony thanks, mem, for what ye hev' done in that
way afore; an' good mornin' to ye, mem. I'm sorry we should
hae ony misunderstandin', but I canna help it for my pairt."
With these words David withdrew, rather anxious about the
consequences to Hugh of this unpleasant interference on the
part of Mrs. Glasford. That lady's wrath kept warm without
much nursing, till the laird came home; when she turned the
whole of her battery upon him, and kept up a steady fire until
he yielded, and promised to turn his upon David. But he had
more common-sense than his wife in some things, and saw at
once how ridiculous it would be to treat the affair as of importance.
So, the next time he saw David, he addressed him half
jocularly:
"Weel, Dawvid, you an' the mistress hae been haein' a bit o'
a dispute thegither, eh?"
"Weel, sir, we warna a'thegither o' ae min'," said David, with
a smile.
"Weel, weel, we maun humour her, ye ken, or it may be the
waur for us a', ye ken." And the laird nodded with humorous
significance.
"I'm sure I sud be glaid, sir; but this is no sma' maitter to
me an' my Maggie, for we're jist gettin' food for the verra sowl,
sir, frae him an' his beuks."
"Cudna ye be content wi' the beuks wi'out the man,
Dawvid?"
"We sud mak' but sma' progress, sir, that get."
The laird began to be a little nettled himself at David's
stiffness about such a small matter, and held his peace. David
resumed:
"Besides, sir, that's a maitter for the young man to sattle
an' no for me. It wad ill become me, efter a' he's dune for us
to steek the door in's face. Na, na; as lang's I hae a door
haud open, it's no to be steekit to him."
"Efter a', the door's mine, Dawvid," said the laird.
"As lang's I'm in your hoose an' in your service, sir, the
door's mine," retorted David, quietly.
The laird turned and rode away without another word. What
passed between him and his wife never transpired. Nothing
more was said to Hugh as long as he remained at Turriepuffit
But Margaret was never sent for to the House after this, upon
any occasion whatever. The laird gave her a nod as oft
as he saw her; but the lady, if they chanced to meet, too
no notice of her. Margaret, on her part, stood or passed with
her eyes on the ground, and no further change of countenance
than a slight flush of discomfort.
The lessons went on as usual, and happy hours they were for
all those concerned. Often, in after years, and in far different
circumstances, the thoughts of Hugh reverted, with a painful
yearning, to the dim-lighted cottage, with its clay floor and its
deal table; to the earnest pair seated with him at the labours
that unfold the motions of the stars; and even to the homely,
thickset, but active form of Janet, and that peculiar smile of
hers with which, after an apparently snappish speech, spoken
with her back to the person addressed, she would turn round her
honest face half-apologetically, and shine full upon some one or
other of the three, whom she honoured with her whole heart
and soul, and who, she feared, might be offended at what she
called her "hame-ower fashion of speaking." Indeed it was
wonderful what a share the motherhood of this woman, incapable
as she was of entering into the intellectual occupations of the
others, had in producing that sense of home-blessedness, which
inwrapt Hugh also in the folds of its hospitality, and drew him
towards its heart. Certain it is that not one of the three would
have worked so well without the sense of the presence of Janet,
here and there about the room, or in the immediate neighbourhood
of it — love watching over labour. Once a week, always on
Saturday nights, Hugh stayed to supper with them: and on
these occasions, Janet contrived to have something better than
ordinary in honour of their guest. Still it was of the homeliest
country fare, such as Hugh could partake of without the least
fear that his presence occasioned any inconvenience to his entertainers.
Nor was Hugh the only giver of spiritual food. Putting
aside the rich gifts of human affection and sympathy, which
grew more and more pleasant — I can hardly use a stronger word
yet — to Hugh every day, many things were spoken by the simple
wisdom of David, which would have enlightened Hugh far more
than they did, had he been sufficiently advanced to receive
them. But their very simplicity was often far beyond the grasp
of his thoughts; for the higher we rise, the simpler we become;
and David was one of those of whom is the kingdom of Heaven.
There is a childhood into which we have to grow, just as there
is a childhood which we must leave behind; a childlikeness
Which is the highest gain of humanity, and a childishness from
which but few of those who are counted the wisest among men,
have freed themselves in their imagined progress towards the
reality of things.
CHAPTER VII.
THE SECRET OF THE WOOD.
The unthrift sunne shot vitall gold,
A thousand pieces;
And heaven its azure did unfold,
Chequered with snowy fleeces.
The air was all in spice.
And every bush
A garland wore: Thus fed my Eyes,
But all the Eare lay hush.
HENRY VAUGHAN.
IT was not in mathematics alone that Hugh Sutherland was
serviceable to Margaret Elginbrod. That branch of study had
been chosen for her father, not for her; but her desire to learn
had led her to lay hold upon any mental provision with which
the table happened to be spread; and the more eagerly that
her father was a guest at the same feast. Before long, Hugh
bethought him that it might possibly be of service to her, in
the course of her reading, if he taught her English a little more
thoroughly than she had probably picked it up at the parish
school, to which she had been in the habit of going till within a
very short period of her acquaintance with the tutor. — The
English reader must not suppose the term parish school to mean
what the same term would mean if used in England. Boys and
girls of very different ranks go to the Scotch parish schools, and
the fees are so small as to place their education within the
reach of almost the humblest means. — To his proposal to this
effect Margaret responded thankfully; and it gave Hugh an
opportunity of directing her attention to many of the more
delicate distinctions in literature, for the appreciation of which
she manifested at once a remarkable aptitude.
Coleridge's poems had been read long ago; some of them,
indeed, almost committed to memory in the process of repeated
perusal. No doubt a good many of them must have been as
yet too abstruse for her; not in the least, however, from inaptitude
in her for such subjects as they treated of, but simply
because neither the terms nor the modes of thought could
possibly have been as yet presented to her in so many different
positions as to enable her to comprehend their scope. Hugh
lent her Sir Walter's poems next, but those she read at an eye
glance. She returned the volume in a week, saying merely
they were "verra bonnie stories." He saw at once that, to
have done them justice with the girl, he ought to have lent
them first. But that could not be helped now; and what
should come next? Upon this he took thought. His library
was too small to cause much perplexity of choice, but for a few
days he continued undecided.
Meantime the interest he felt in his girl-pupil deepened
greatly. She became a kind of study to him. The expression
of her countenance was far inferior to her intelligence and power
of thought. It was still to excess — almost dull in ordinary;
not from any fault in the mould of the features, except, perhaps,
in the upper lip, which seemed deficient in drawing, if I may be
allowed the expression; but from the absence of that light
which indicates the presence of active thought and feeling
within. In this respect her face was like the earthen pitcher of
Gideon: it concealed the light. She seemed to have, to a
peculiar degree, the faculty of retiring inside. But now and
then, while he was talking to her, and doubtful, from the lack
of expression, whether she was even listening with attention to
what he was saying, her face would lighten up with a radiant
smile of intelligence; not, however, throwing the light upon
him, and in a moment reverting to its former condition of still
twilight. Her person seemed not to be as yet thoroughly
possessed or informed by her spirit. It sat apart within her;
and there was no ready transit from her heart to her face.
This lack of presence in the face is quite common in pretty
school-girls and rustic beauties; but it was manifest to an unusual
degree in the case of Margaret. Yet most of the forms
and lines in her face were lovely; and when the light did shine
through them for a passing moment, her countenance seemed
absolutely beautiful. Hence it grew into an almost haunting
temptation with Hugh, to try to produce this expression, to unveil
the coy light of the beautiful soul. Often he tried; often
he failed, and sometimes he succeeded. Had they been alone
it might have become dangerous — I mean for Hugh; I cannot
tell for Margaret.
When they first met, she had just completed her seventeenth
year; but, at an age when a town-bred girl is all but a woman,
her manners were those of a child. This childishness, however,
soon began to disappear, and the peculiar stillness of her face,
of which I have already said so much, made her seem older
than she was.
It was now early summer, and all the other trees in the
wood — of which there were not many besides the firs of various
kinds — had put on their fresh leaves, heaped up in green clouds
between the wanderer and the heavens. In the morning the
sun shone so clear upon these, that, to the eyes of one standing
beneath, the light seemed to dissolve them away to the most
ethereal forms of glorified foliage. They were to be claimed for
earth only by the shadows that the one cast upon the other,
visible from below through the transparent leaf. This effect is
very lovely in the young season of the year, when the leaves are
more delicate and less crowded; and especially in the early
morning, when the light is most clear and penetrating. By the
way, I do not think any man is compelled to bid good-bye to
his childhood: every man may feel young in the morning,
middle-aged in the afternoon, and old at night. A day corresponds
to a life, and the portions of the one are "pictures in
little" of the seasons of the other. Thus far man may rule
even time, and gather up, in a perfect being, youth and age at
once.
One morning, about six o'clock, Hugh, who had never been
so early in the wood since the day he had met Margaret there,
was standing under a beech-tree, looking up through its multitudinous
leaves, illuminated, as I have attempted to describe,
with the sidelong rays of the brilliant sun. He was feeling
young, and observing the forms of nature with a keen discriminating
gaze: that was all. Fond of writing verses, he was
studying nature, not as a true lover, but as one who would
hereafter turn his discoveries to use. For it must be confessed
that nature affected him chiefly through the medium of poetry;
and that he was far more ambitious of writing beautiful things
about nature than of discovering and understanding, for their
own sakes, any of her hidden yet patent meanings. Changing
his attitude after a few moments, he descried, under another
beech-tree, not far from him, Margaret, standing and looking up
fixedly as he had been doing a moment before. He approached
her, and she, hearing his advance, looked, and saw him, but did
not move. He thought he saw the glimmer of tears in her
eyes. She was the first to speak, however.
"What were you seeing up there, Mr. Sutherland?"
"I was only looking at the bright leaves, and the shadows
upon them."
"Ah! I thocht maybe ye had seen something."
"What do you mean, Margaret?"
"I dinna richtly ken mysel'. But I aye expeck to see something
in this fir-wood. I'm here maist mornin's as the day
dawns, but I'm later the day."
"We were later than usual at our work last night. But
what kind of thing do you expect to see?"
"That's jist what I dinna ken. An' I canna min' whan I
began to come here first, luikin' for something. I've tried mony
a time, but I canna min', do what I like."
Margaret had never said so much about herself before. I
can account for it only on the supposition that Hugh had gradually
assumed in her mind a kind of pastoral superiority, which,
at a favourable moment, inclined her to impart her thoughts to
him. But he did not know what to say to this strange fact in
her history. She went on, however, as if, having broken the
ice, she must sweep it away as well.
"The only thing 'at helps me to account for't, is a picter in
our auld Bible, o' an angel sittin' aneth a tree, and haudin' up
his han' as gin he were speakin' to a woman 'at's stan'in' afore
him. Ilka time 'at I come across that picter, I feel direckly as
gin I war my lane in this fir-wood here; sae I suppose that
when I was a wee bairn, I maun hae come oot some mornin' my
lane, we the expectation o' seein' an angel here waitin' for me,
to speak to me like the ane i' the Bible. But never an angel
hae I seen. Yet I aye hae an expectation like o' seein' something,
I kenna what; for the whole place aye seems fu' o' a presence,
an' it's a hantle mair to me nor the kirk an' the sermon forby;
an' for the singin', the soun' i' the fir-taps is far mair solemn
and sweet at the same time, an' muckle mair like praisin' o'
God than a' the psalms thegither. But I aye think 'at gin I
could hear Milton playin' on's organ, it would be mair like that
soun' o' mony waters, than onything else 'at I can think o'."
Hugh stood and gazed at her in astonishment. To his more
refined ear, there was a strange incongruity between the somewhat
coarse dialect in which she spoke, and the things she
uttered in it. Not that he was capable of entering into her
feelings, much less of explaining them to her. He felt that
there was something remarkable in them, but attributed both
the thoughts themselves and their influence on him, to an uncommon
and weird imagination. As of such origin, however, he
was just the one to value them highly.
"Those are very strange ideas," he said.
"But what can there be about the wood? The very primroses
— ye brocht me the first this spring yersel', Mr. Sutherland
— come out at the fit o' the trees, and look at me as if they
said, 'We ken — we ken a' aboot it;' but never a word mair
they say. There's something by ordinar' in't."
"Do you like no other place besides?" said Hugh, for the
sake of saying something.
"Ou ay, mony ane; but nane like this."
"What kind of place do you like best?"
"I like places wi' green grass an' flowers amo't."
"You like flowers then?"
"Like them! whiles they gar me greet, an' whiles they gar
me lauch; but there's mair i' them than that, an' i' the wood
too. I canna richtly say my prayers in ony ither place."
The Scotch dialect, especially to one brought up in the Highlands,
was a considerable antidote to the effect of the beauty of
what Margaret said.
Suddenly it struck Hugh, that if Margaret were such an
admirer of nature, possibly she might enjoy Wordsworth. He
himself was as yet incapable of doing him anything like justice;
and, with the arrogance of youth, did not hesitate to smile at
the Excursion, picking out an awkward line here and there as
especial food for laughter even. But many of his smaller pieces
he enjoyed very heartily, although not thoroughly — the element
of Christian Pantheism, which is their soul, being beyond his
comprehension, almost perception, as yet. So he made up his
mind, after a moment's reflection, that this should be the next
author he recommended to his pupil. He hoped likewise so to
end an interview, in which he might otherwise be compelled to
confess that he could render Margaret no assistance in her
search after the something in the wood; and he was unwilling
to say he could not understand her; for a power of universal
sympathy was one of those mental gifts which Hugh was most
anxious to believe he possessed.
"I will bring you another book to-night," said he, "which I
think you will like, and which may perhaps help you to find out
what is in the wood."
He said this smiling, half in playful jest, and without any idea
of the degree of likelihood that there was notwithstanding in
what he said. For, certainly, Wordsworth, the high-priest of
nature, though perhaps hardly the apostle of nature, was more
likely than any other writer to contain something of the secret
after which Margaret was searching. Whether she can find it
there, may seem questionable.
"Thank you, sir," said Margaret, gratefully; but her whole
countenance looked troubled, as she turned towards her home.
Doubtless, however, the trouble vanished before she reached it,
for hers was not a nature to cherish disquietude. Hugh too
went home, rather thoughtful.
In the evening, he took a volume of Wordsworth, and repaired,
according to his wont, to David's cottage. It was
Saturday, and he would stay to supper. After they had given
the usual time to their studies, Hugh, setting Margaret some
exercises in English to write on her slate, while he helped David
with some of the elements of Trigonometry, and again going
over those elements with her, while David worked out a calculation
— after these were over, and while Janet was putting the
supper on the table, Hugh pulled out his volume, and, without
any preface, read them the Leech-Gatherer. All listened very
intently, Janet included, who delayed several of the operations,
that she might lose no word of the verses; David nodding assent
every now and then, and ejaculating ay! ay! or eh, man! or
producing that strange muffled sound at once common and
peculiar to Scotchmen, which cannot be expressed in letters by
a nearer approach than hm—hm, uttered, if that can be called
uttering, with closed lips and open nasal passage; and Margaret
sitting motionless on her creepie, with upturned pale face, and
eyes fixed upon the lips of the reader. When he had ceased, all
were silent for a moment, when Janet made some little sign of
anxiety about her supper, which certainly had suffered by the
delay. Then, without a word, David turned towards the table
and gave thanks. Turning again to Hugh, who had risen to
place his chair, he said,
"That maun be the wark o' a great poet, Mr. Sutherlan'."
"It's Wordsworth's," said Hugh.
"Ay! ay! That's Wordsworth's! Ay! Weel, I hae jist
heard him made mention o', but I never read word o' his afore.
An' he never repentit o' that same resolution, I'se warrant, 'at
he eynds aff wi'. Hoo does it gang, Mr. Sutherlan'?"
Sutherland read:—
"'God,' said I, 'be my help and stay secure!
I'll think of the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor;'"
and added, "It is said Wordsworth never knew what it was to
be in want of money all his life."
"Nae doubt, nae doubt: he trusted in Him."
It was for the sake of the minute notices of nature, and not
for the religious lesson, which he now seemed to see for the first
time, that Hugh had read the poem. He could not help being
greatly impressed by the confidence with which David received
the statement he had just made on the authority of De Quincey
in his unpleasant article about Wordsworth. David resumed:
"He maun hae had a gleg 'ee o' his ain, that Maister Wordsworth,
to notice a'thing that get. Weel he maun hae likit
leevin' things, puir maukin an' a' — jist like our Robbie Burns
for that. An' see hoo they a' ken ane anither, thae poets. What
says he aboot Burns? — ye needna tell me, Mr. Sutherlan'; I
min't weel aneuch. He says:—
'Him wha walked in glory an' in joy,
Followin' his ploo upo' the muntain-side,'
Puir Robbie! puir Robbie! But, man, he was a gran' chield,
efter a'; an' I trust in God he's won hame by this!"
Both Janet and Hugh, who had had a very orthodox education,
started, mentally, at this strange utterance; but they saw
the eye of David solemnly fixed, as if in deep contemplation,
and lighted in its blue depths with an ethereal brightness; and
neither of them ventured to speak. Margaret seemed absorbed
for the moment in gazing on her father's face; but not in the
least as if it perplexed her like the fir-wood. To the seeing eye,
the same kind of expression would have been evident in both
countenances, as if Margaret's reflected the meaning of her
father's; whether through the medium of intellectual sympathy,
or that of the heart only, it would have been hard to say.
Meantime supper had been rather neglected; but its operations
were now resumed more earnestly, and the conversation became
lighter; till at last it ended in hearty laughter, and Hugh rose
and took his leave.
CHAPTER VIII.
A SUNDAY MORNING.
It is the property of good and sound knowledge, to putrifie and dissolve
into a number of subtle, idle, unwholesome, and (as I may tearme them)
vermiculate questions; which have indeed a kinde of quicknesse, and life
of spirite, but no soundnesse of matter, or goodnesse of quality. — LORD
BACON. — Advancement of Learning.
THE following morning, the laird's family went to church as
usual, and Hugh went with them. Their walk was first across
fields, by pleasant footpaths; and then up the valley of a little
noisy stream, that obstinately refused to keep Scotch Sabbath,
praising the Lord after its own fashion. They emerged into
rather a bleak country before reaching the church, which was
quite new, and perched on a barren eminence, that it might be
as conspicuous by its position, as it was remarkable for its
ugliness. One grand aim of the reformers of the Scottish ecclesiastical
modes, appears to have been to keep the worship pure
and the worshippers sincere, by embodying the whole in the
ugliest forms that could be associated with the name of Christianity.
It might be wished, however, that some of their followers,
and amongst them the clergyman of the church in question, had
been content to stop there; and had left the object of worship,
as represented by them, in the possession of some lovable attribute;
so as not to require a man to love that which is unlovable,
or worship that which is not honourable — in a word, to
bow down before that which is not divine. The cause of this
degeneracy they share in common with the followers of all other
great men as well as of Calvin. They take up what their
leader, urged by the necessity of the time, spoke loudest, never
heeding what he loved most; and then work the former out to
a logical perdition of everything belonging to the latter.
Hugh, however, thought it was all right: for he had the
same good reasons, and no other, for receiving it all, that a Mohammedan
or a Buddhist has for holding his opinions; namely,
that he had heard those doctrines, and those alone, from his
earliest childhood. He was therefore a good deal startled when,
having, on his way home, strayed from the laird's party towards
David's, he heard the latter say to Margaret as he came up:
"Dinna ye believe, my bonny doo, 'at there's ony mak' ups or
mak' shifts wi' Him. He's aye bringin' things to the licht,
no coverin' them up and lattin them rot, an' the moth tak'
them. He sees us jist as we are, and ca's us jist what we are.
It wad be an ill day for a' o's, Maggy, my doo, gin he war to
close his een to oor sins, an' ca' us just in his sicht, whan we
cudna possibly be just in oor ain or in ony ither body's, no to
say his."
"The Lord preserve's, Dawvid Elginbrod! Dinna ye believe
i' the doctrine o' Justification by Faith, an' you a'maist made an
elder o'?"
Janet was the respondent, of course, Margaret listening in
silence.
"Ou ay, I believe in't, nae doot; but, troth! the minister,
honest man, near-han' gart me disbelieve in't a'thegither wi' his
gran' sermon this mornin', about imputit richteousness, an' a
clean robe hidin' a foul skin or a crookit back. Na, na. May
Him 'at woosh the feet o' his friens, wash us a'thegither, and
straucht oor crookit banes, till we're clean and weel-faured like
his ain bonny sel'."
"Weel, Dawvid — but that's sanctificaition, ye ken."
"Ca't ony name 'at you or the minister likes, Janet, my
woman. I daursay there's neither o' ye far wrang after a'; only
this is jist my opingan aboot it in sma' — that that man, and that
man only, is justifeed, wha pits himsel' into the Lord's han's to
sanctifee him. Noo! An' that'll no be dune by pittin' a robe
o' richteousness upo' him, afore he's gotten a clean skin aneath't.
As gin a father cudna bide to see the puir scabbit skin o' his
ain wee bit bairnie, ay, or o' his prodigal son either, but bude
to hap it a' up afore he cud lat it come near him! Ahva!"
Here Hugh ventured to interpose a remark.
"But you don't think, Mr. Elginbrod, that the minister
intended to say that justification left a man at liberty to sin, or
that the robe of Christ's righteousness would hide him from the
work of the Spirit?"
"Na; but there is a notion in't o' hidin' frae God himsel'.
I'll tell ye what it is, Mr. Sutherlan': the minister's a' richt in
himsel', an' sae's my Janet here, an' mony mair; an' aiblins
there's a kin' o' trowth in a' 'at they say; but this is my quarrel
wi' a' thae words an' words an' airguments, an' seemilies as they
ca' them, an' doctrines, an' a' that — they jist haud a puir body
at airm's lenth oot ower frae God himsel'. An' they raise a
mist an' a stour a' aboot him, 'at the puir bairn canna see the
Father himsel', stan'in' wi' his airms streekit oot as wide's the
heavens, to tak' the worn crater, — and the mair sinner, the
mair welcome, — hame to his verra hert. Gin a body wad lea'
a' that, and jist get fowk persuâdit to speyk a word or twa to
God him lane, the loss, in my opingan, wad be unco sma', and
the gain verra great."
Even Janet dared not reply to the solemnity of this speech;
for the seer-like look was upon David's face, and the tears had
gathered in his eyes and dimmed their blue. A kind of tremulous
pathetic smile flickered about his beautifully curved mouth,
like the glimmer of water in a valley, betwixt the lofty aquiline
nose and the powerful but finely modelled chin. It seemed as
if he dared not let the smile break out, lest it should be followed
instantly by a burst of tears.
Margaret went close up to her father and took his hand as if
she had been still a child, while Janet walked reverentially by
him on the other side. It must not be supposed that Janet
felt any uneasiness about her husband's opinions, although she
never hesitated to utter what she considered her common-sense
notions, in attempted modification of some of the more extreme
of them. The fact was that, if he was wrong, Janet did not
care to be right; and if he was right, Janet was sure to be;
"for," said she — and in spirit, if not in the letter, it was quite
true — "I never mint at contradickin' him. My man sall hae
his ain get, that sall he." But she had one especial grudge at
his opinions; which was, that it must have been in consequence
of them that he had declined, with a queer smile, the honourable
position of Elder of the Kirk; for which Janet considered him,
notwithstanding his opinions, immeasurably more fitted than
any other man "in the haill country-side — ye may add Scotlan'
forby." The fact of his having been requested to fill the vacant
place of Elder, is proof enough that David was not in the habit
of giving open expression to his opinions. Be was looked upon
as a douce man, long-headed enough, and somewhat precise in
the exaction of the laird's rights, but open-hearted and openhanded
with what was his own. Every one respected him, and
felt kindly towards him; some were a little afraid of him; but
few suspected him of being religious beyond the degree which is
commonly supposed to be the general inheritance of Scotchmen,
possibly in virtue of their being brought up upon oatmeal
porridge and the Shorter Catechism.
Hugh walked behind the party for a short way, contemplating
them in their Sunday clothes: David wore a suit of fine black
cloth. He then turned to rejoin the laird's company. Mrs.
Glasford was questioning her boys, in an intermittent and
desultory fashion, about the sermon.
"An' what was the fourth heid, can ye tell me, Willie?"
Willie, the eldest, who had carefully impressed the fourth
head upon his memory, and had been anxiously waiting for an
opportunity of bringing it out, replied at once:
"Fourthly: The various appellations by which those who
have indued the robe of righteousness are designated in Holy
Writ."
"Weel done, Willie!" cried the laird.
"That's richt, Willie," said his mother. Then turning to the
younger, whose attention was attracted by a strange bird in the
hedge in front. "An' what called he them, Johnnie, that put
on the robe?" she asked.
"Whited sepulchres," answered Johnnie, indebted for his wit
to his wool-gathering.
This put an end to the catechising. Mrs. Glasford glanced
round at Hugh, whose defection she had seen with indignation,
and who, waiting for them by the roadside, had heard the last
question and reply, with an expression that seemed to attribute
any defect in the answer, entirely to the carelessness of the
tutor, and the withdrawal of his energies from her boys to that
"saucy quean, Meg Elginbrod."
CHAPTER IX.
NATURE.
When the Soul is kindled or enlightened by the Holy Ghost, then it
beholds what God its Father does, as a Son beholds what his Father does
at Home in his own House. — JACOB BEHMEN'S Aurora — Law's Translation

MARGARET began to read Wordsworth, slowly at first, but
soon with greater facility. Ere long she perceived that she had
found a friend; for not only did he sympathize with her in her
love for nature, putting many vague feelings into thoughts, and
many thoughts into words for her, but he introduced her to
nature in many altogether new aspects, and taught her to regard
it in ways which had hitherto been unknown to her. Not only
was the pine wood now dearer to her than before, but its mystery
seemed more sacred, and, at the same time, more likely to be
one day solved. She felt far more assuredly the presence of a
spirit in nature,
"Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air;"
for he taught her to take wider views of nature, and to perceive
and feel the expressions of more extended aspects of the world
around her. The purple hill-side was almost as dear to her as
the fir-wood now; and the star that crowned its summit at eve,
sparkled an especial message to her, before it went on its way
up the blue. She extended her rambles in all directions, and
began to get with the neighbours the character of an idle girl.
Little they knew how early she rose, and how diligently she did
her share of the work, urged by desire to read the word of God
in his own handwriting; or rather, to pore upon that expression
of the face of God, which, however little a man may think of it,
yet sinks so deeply into his nature, and moulds it towards its
own likeness.
Nature was doing for Margaret what she had done before for
Wordsworth's Lucy: she was making of her "a lady of her
own." She grew taller and more graceful. The lasting quiet
of her face began to look as if it were ever upon the point of
blossoming into an expression of lovely feeling. The principal
change was in her mouth, which became delicate and tender in
its curves, the lips seeming to kiss each other for very sweetness.
But I am anticipating these changes, for it took a far longer
time to perfect them than has yet been occupied by my story.
But even her mother was not altogether proof against the
appearance of listlessness and idleness which Margaret's behaviour
sometimes wore to her eyes; nor could she quite understand
or excuse her long lonely walks; so that now and then
she could not help addressing her after this fashion:
"Meg! Meg! ye do try my patience, lass, idlin' awa' yer
time that get. It's an awfu' wastry o' time, what wi' beuks,
an' what wi' stravaguin', an' what wi' naething ava. Jist pit
yer han' to this kirn noo, like a gude bairn."
Margaret would obey her mother instantly, but with a look
of silent expostulation which her mother could not resist;
sometimes, perhaps, if the words were sharper than usual, with
symptoms of gathering tears; upon which Janet would say,
with her honest smile of sweet relenting,
"Hootoots, bairn! never heed me. My bark's aye waur
nor my bite; ye ken that."
Then Margaret's face would brighten at once, and she would
work hard at whatever her mother set her to do, till it was
finished; upon which her mother would be more glad than she,
and in no haste to impose any further labour out of the usual
routine.
In the course of reading Wordsworth, Margaret had frequent
occasion to apply to Hugh for help. These occasions, however,
generally involved no more than small external difficulties,
which prevented her from taking in the scope of a passage.
Hugh was always able to meet these, and Margaret supposed
that the whole of the light which flashed upon her mind when
they were removed, was poured upon the page by the wisdom
of her tutor; never dreaming — such was her humility with
regard to herself, and her reverence towards him — that it came
from the depths of her own lucent nature, ready to perceive
what the poet came prepared to show. Now and then, it is
true, she applied to him with difficulties in which he was
incapable of aiding her; but she put down her failure in discovering
the meaning, after all which it must be confessed he
sometimes tried to say, to her own stupidity or peculiarity —
never to his incapacity. She had been helped to so much by
his superior acquirements, and his real gift for communicating
what he thoroughly understood; he had been so entirely her
guide to knowledge, that she would at once have felt self--
condemned of impiety — in the old meaning of the word — if she
had doubted for a moment his ability to understand or explain
any difficulty which she could place clearly before him.
By-and-by he began to lend her harder, that is, more purely
intellectual books. He was himself preparing for the class of
Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics; and he chose for her some
of the simpler of his books on these subjects — of course all of the
Scotch school — beginning with Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers.
She took this eagerly, and evidently read it with great attention.
One evening in the end of summer, Hugh climbed a waste
heathery hill that lay behind the house of Turriepuffit, and
overlooked a great part of the neighbouring country, the peaks
of some of the greatest of the Scotch mountains being visible
from its top. Here he intended to wait for the sunset. He
threw himself on the heather, that most delightful and luxurious
of all couches, supporting the body with a kindly upholding
of every part; and there he lay in the great slumberous
sunlight of the late afternoon, with the blue heavens, into
which he was gazing full up, closing down upon him, as the
light descended the side of the sky. He fell fast asleep. If
ever there be an excuse for falling asleep out of bed, surely it is
when stretched at full length upon heather in bloom. When
he awoke, the last of the sunset was dying away; and between
him and the sunset sat Margaret, book in hand, waiting apparently
for his waking. He lay still for a few minutes, to come
to himself before she should see he was awake. But she rose at
the moment, and drawing near very quietly, looked down upon
him with her sweet sunset face, to see whether or not he was
beginning to rouse, for she feared to let him lie much longer
after sundown. Finding him awake, she drew back again without
a word, and sat down as before with her book. At length
he rose, and, approaching her, said —
"Well, Margaret, what book are you at now?"
"Dr. Abercrombie, sir," replied Margaret.
"How do you like it?"
"Verra weel for some things. It makes a body think; but
not a'thegither as I like to think either."
It will be observed that Margaret's speech had begun to
improve, that is, to be more like English.
"What is the matter with it?"
"Weel, ye see, sir, it taks a body a' to bits like, and never
pits them together again. An' it seems to me that a body's
min' or soul, or whatever it may be called — but it's jist a body's
ain sel' — can no more be ta'en to pieces like, than you could
tak' that red licht there oot o' the blue, or the haill sunset oot
o' the heavens an' earth. It may be a' versa weel, Mr. Sutherland,
but oh! it's no like this!"
And Margaret-looked around her from the hill-top, and then
up into the heavens, where the stars were beginning to crack
the blue with their thin, steely sparkle.
"It seems to me to tak' a' the poetry oot o' us, Mr. Sutherland."

"Well, well," said Hugh, with a smile, "you must just go to
Wordsworth to put it in again; or to set you again up after Dr.
Abercrombie has demolished you."
"Na, na, sir, he sanna demolish me: nor I winna trouble
Mr. Wordsworth to put the poetry into me again. A' the
power on earth shanna tak' that oot o' me, gin it be God's will;
for it's his ain gift, Mr. Sutherland, ye ken."
"Of course, of course," replied Hugh, who very likely
thought this too serious a way of speaking of poetry, and therefore,
perhaps, rather an irreverent way of speaking of God; for
he saw neither the divine in poetry, nor the human in God.
Could he be said to believe that God made man, when he did
not believe that God created poetry — and yet loved it as he
did? It was to him only a grand invention of humanity in its
loftiest development. In this development, then, he must have
considered humanity as farthest from its origin; and God as
the creator of savages, caring nothing for poets or their work.
They turned, as by common consent, to go down the hill
together.
"Shall I take charge of the offending volume? You will not
care to finish it, I fear," said Hugh.
"No, sir, if you please. I never like to leave onything
unfinished. I'll read ilka word in't. I fancy the thing 'at sets
me against it, is mostly this; that, readin' it alang wi' Euclid,
I canna help aye thinkin' o' my ain min' as gin it were in some
geometrical shape or ither, whiles ane an' whiles anither; and
syne I try to draw lines an' separate this power frae that power,
the memory frae the jeedgement, an' the imagination frae the
rizzon; an' syne I try to pit them a' thegither again in their
relations to ane anither. And this aye takes the shape o' some
proposition or ither, generally i' the second beuk. It near-han'
dazes me whiles. I fancy gin' I understood the pairts o' the
sphere, it would be mair to the purpose; but I wat I wish I
were clear o't a'thegither."
Hugh had had some experiences of a similar kind himself,
though not at all to the same extent. He could therefore
understand her.
"You must just try to keep the things altogether apart," said
he, "and not think of the two sciences at once."
"But I canna help it," she replied. "I suppose you can, sir,
because ye're a man. My father can understan' things ten
times better nor me an' my mother. But nae sooner do I begin
to read and think about it, than up comes ane o' thae parallelograms,
an' nothing will driv't oot o' my head again, but a
verse or twa o' Coleridge or Wordsworth."
Hugh immediately began to repeat the first poem of the
latter that occurred to him:
"I wandered lonely as a cloud."
She listened, walking along with her eyes fixed on the
ground; and when he had finished, gave a sigh of delight and
relief — all the comment she uttered. She seemed never to
find it necessary to say what she felt; least of all when the
feeling was a pleasant one; for then it was enough for itself.
This was only the second time since their acquaintance, that
she had spoken of her feelings at all; and in this case they
were of a purely intellectual origin. It is to be observed, however,
that in both cases she had taken pains to explain
thoroughly what she meant, as far as she was able.
It was dark before they reached home, at least as dark as it
ever is at this season of the year in the north. They found David
looking out with some slight anxiety for his daughter's return,
for she was seldom out so late as this. In nothing could the
true relation between them have been more evident than in the
entire absence from her manner of any embarrassment when
she met her father. She went up to him and told him all
about finding Mr. Sutherland asleep on the hill, and waiting
beside him till he woke, that she might walk home with him.
Her father seemed perfectly content with an explanation which
he had not sought, and, turning to Hugh, said, smiling:
"Weel, no to be troublesome, Mr. Sutherlan', ye maun gie
the auld man a turn as weel as the young lass. We didna
expec ye the nicht, but I'm sair puzzled wi' a sma' eneuch
matter on my sklet in there. Will you no come in and gie me a
lift?"
"With all my heart," said Sutherland. So there were five
lessons in that week.
When Hugh entered the cottage he had a fine sprig of
heather in his hand, which he laid on the table.
He had the weakness of being proud of small discoveries —
the tinier the better; and was always sharpening his senses, as
well as his intellect, to a fine point, in order to make them. I
fear that by these means he shut out some great ones, which
could not enter during such a concentration of the faculties.
He would stand listening to the sound of goose-feet upon the
road, and watch how those webs laid hold of the earth like a
hand. He would struggle to enter into their feelings in folding
their wings properly on their backs. He would calculate, on
chemical and arithmetical grounds, whether one might not hear
the nocturnal growth of plants in the tropics. He was quite
elated by the discovery, as he considered it, that Shakspeare
named his two officers of the watch, Dogberry and Verjuice;
the poisonous Dogberry, and the acid liquor of green fruits,
affording suitable names for the stupidly innocuous constables,
in a play the very essence of which is Much Ado About Nothing.
Another of his discoveries he had, during their last lesson, unfolded
to David, who had certainly contemplated it with interest.
It was, that the original forms of the Arabic numerals
were these:

the number for which each figure stands being indicated by the
number of straight lines employed in forming that numeral.
I fear the comparative anatomy of figures gives no countenance
to the discovery which Hugh flattered himself he had
made.
After he had helped David out of his difficulty, he took up
the heather, and stripping off the bells, shook them in his hand
at Margaret's ear. A half smile, like the moonlight of laughter,
dawned on her face; and she listened with something of the
same expression with which a child listens to the message from
the sea, inclosed in a twisted shell. He did the same at David's
ear next.
"Eh, man! that's a bonny wee soun'! It's jist like sma'
Sheep-bells — fairy-sheep, I reckon, Maggy, my doo."
"Lat me hearken as weel," said Janet.
Hugh obeyed. She laughed.
"It's naething but a reestlin'. I wad raither hear the sheep
baain', or the kye routin'."
"Eh, Mr. Sutherlan'! but ye hae a gleg ee an' a sharp lug.
Wed, the warld's fu' o' bonny sichts and souns, doon to the verra
sma'est. The Lord lats naething gang. I wadna wonner noo
but there micht be thousands sic like, ower sma' a'thegither for
human ears, jist as we ken there are creatures as perfect in
beowty as ony we see, but far ower sma' for our een wintin' the
glass. But for my pairt, I aye like to see a heap o' things at
ance, an' tak' them a' in thegither, an' see them playin' into
and anither's han' like. I was jist thinkin', as I came hame the
nicht in the sinset, hoo it wad hae been naewise sae complete,
we a' its red an' gowd an' green, gin it hadna been for the cauld
blue east ahint it, wi' the twa-three shiverin' starnies leukin'
through't. An' doubtless the warld to come 'ill be a' the
warmer to them 'at hadna ower muckle happin here. But I'm
jist haverin', clean haverin', Mr. Sutherlan'," concluded David,
with a smile of apologetic humour.
"I suppose you could easily believe with Plato, David, that
the planets make a grand choral music as they roll about the
heavens, only that as some sounds are too small, so that is too
loud for us to hear."
"I cud weel believe that," was David's unhesitating answer.
Margaret looked as if she not only could believe it, but would
be delighted to know that it was true. Neither Janet nor
Hugh gave any indication of feeling on the matter.
CHAPTER X.
HARVEST.
So a small seed that in the earth lies hid
And dies, reviving bursts her cloddy side,
Adorned with yellow locks, of new is born,
And doth become a mother great with corn,
Of grains brings hundreds with it, which when old
Enrich the furrows with a sea of gold.
SIR WILLIAM DRUMMOND; — Hymn of the Resurrection.
HUGH had watched the green corn grow, and ear, and turn
dim; then brighten to yellow, and ripen at last under the
declining autumn sun, and the low skirting moon of the
harvest, which seems too full and heavy with mellow and
bountiful light to rise high above the fields which it comes to
bless with perfection. The long threads, on each of which
hung an oat-grain — the harvest here was mostly of oats — had
got dry and brittle; and the grains began to spread out their
chaff-wings, as if ready to fly, and rustled with sweet sounds
against each other, as the wind, which used to billow the fields
like the waves of the sea, now swept gently and tenderly over it,
helping the sun and moon in the drying and ripening of the joy to
be laid up for the dreary winter. Most graceful of all hung those
delicate oats; next bowed the bearded barley; and stately and
wealthy and strong stood the few fields of wheat, of a rich,
ruddy, golden hue. Above the yellow harvest rose the purple
hills, and above the hills the pale-blue autumnal sky, full of
light and heat, but fading somewhat from the colour with
which it deepened above the vanished days of summer. For
the harvest here is much later than in England.
At length the day arrived when the sickle must be put into
the barley, soon to be followed by the scythe in the oats. And
now came the joy of labour. Everything else was abandoned
for the harvest field. Books were thrown utterly aside; for,
even when there was no fear of a change of weather to urge
to labour prolonged beyond the natural hours, there was
weariness enough in the work of the day to prevent even David
from reading, in the hours of bodily rest, anything that
necessitated mental labour.
Janet and Margaret betook themselves to the reaping-hook;
and the somewhat pale face of the latter needed but a single day
to change it to the real harvest hue — the brown livery of Ceres.
But when the oats were attacked, then came the tug of war.
The laird was in the fields from morning to night, and the
boys would not stay behind; but, with their father's permission,
much to the tutor's contentment, devoted what powers
they had to the gathering of the fruits of the earth. Hugh
himself, whose strength had grown amazingly during his stay
at Turriepuffit, and who, though he was quite helpless at the
sickle, thought he could wield the scythe, would not be behind.
Throwing off coat and waistcoat, and tying his handkerchief
tight round his loins, he laid hold on the emblematic weapon
of Time and Death, determined likewise to earn the name of
Reaper. He took the last scythe. It was desperate work for
a while, and he was far behind the first bout; but David, who
was the best scyther in the whole country side, and of course
had the leading scythe, seeing the tutor dropping behind, put
more power to his own arm, finished his own bout, and brought
up Hugh's before the others had done sharpening their scythes
for the next.
"Tak' care an' nae rax yersel' ower sair, Mr. Sutherlan'.
Ye'll be up wi' the best o' them in a day or twa; but gin ye
tyauve at it aboon yer strenth, ye'll be clean forfochten. Tak'
a guid sweep wi' the scythe, 'at ye may hae the weicht o't to ca'
through the strae, an' tak' nae shame at bein' hindmost. Here,
Maggy, my doo, come an' gather to Mr. Sutherlan'. Ane o'
the young gentlemen can tak' your place at the bin'in'."
The work of Janet and Margaret had been to form bands for
the sheaves, by folding together cunningly the heads of two
small handfuls of the corn, so as to make them long enough
together to go round the sheaf; then to lay this down for the
gatherer to place enough of the mown corn upon it; and last,
to bind the band tightly around by another skilful twist and an
insertion of the ends, and so form a sheaf. From this work
David called his daughter, desirous of giving Hugh a gatherer
who would not be disrespectful to his awkwardness. This arrangement,
however, was far from pleasing to some of the young
men in the field, and brought down upon Hugh, who was too
hard-wrought to hear them at first, many sly hits of country
wit and human contempt. There had been for some time great
jealousy of his visits at David's cottage; for Margaret, though
she had very little acquaintance with the young men of the
neighbourhood, was greatly admired amongst them, and not regarded
as so far above the station of many of them as to render
aspiration useless. Their remarks to each other got louder and
louder, till Hugh at last heard some of them, and could not
help being annoyed, not by their wit or personality, but by the
tone of contempt in which they were uttered.
"Tak' care o' yer legs, sir. It'll be ill cuttin' upo' stumps."
"Fegs! he's taen the wings aff o' a pairtrick."
"Gin he gang on that get, he'll cut twa bouts at ance."
"Ye'll hae the scythe ower the dyke, man. Tak' tent."
"Losh! sir; ye've taen aff my leg at the hip!"
"Ye're shavin' ower close: ye'll draw the bluid, sir."
"Hoot, man! lat alane. The gentleman's only mista'en
trade, an' imaigins he's howkin' a grave."
And so on. Hugh gave no further sign of hearing their remarks
than lay in increased exertion. Looking round, however,
he saw that Margaret was vexed, evidently not for her own
sake. He smiled to her, to console her for his annoyance; and
then, ambitious to remove the cause of it, made a fresh exertion,
recovered all his distance, and was in his own place with
the best of them at the end of the bout. But the smile that
had passed between them did not escape unobserved; and he
had aroused yet more the wrath of the youths, by threatening
soon to rival them in the excellencies to which they had an
especial claim. They had regarded him as an interloper, who
had no right to captivate one of their rank by arts beyond their
reach; but it was still less pardonable to dare them to a trial
of skill with their own weapons. To the fire of this jealousy,
the admiration of the laird added fuel; for he was delighted
with the spirit with which Hugh laid himself to the scythe.
But all the time, nothing was further from Hugh's thoughts
than the idea of rivalry with them. Whatever he might have
thought of Margaret in relation to himself, he never thought of
her, though labouring in the same field with them, as in the
least degree belonging to their class, or standing in any possible
relation to them, except that of a common work.
In ordinary, the labourers would have had sufficient respect
for Sutherland's superior position, to prevent them from giving
such decided and articulate utterance to their feelings. But
they were incited by the presence and example of a man of
doubtful character from the neighbouring village, a travelled and
clever ne'er-do-weel, whose reputation for wit was equalled by his
reputation for courage and skill, as well as profligacy. Roused
by the effervescence of his genius, they went on from one thing
to another, till Hugh saw it must be put a stop to somehow,
else he must abandon the field. They dared not have gone so
far if David had been present; but he had been called away to
superintend some operations in another part of the estate; and
they paid no heed to the expostulations of some of the other
older men. At the close of the day's work, therefore, Hugh
walked up to this fellow, and said:
"I hope you will be satisfied with insulting me all to-day,
and leave it alone to-morrow."
The man replied, with an oath and a gesture of rude contempt,

"I dinna care the black afore my nails for ony skelp-doup o'
the lot o' ye."
Hugh's highland blood flew to his brain, and before the rascal
finished his speech, he had measured his length on the stubble.
He sprang to his feet in a fury, threw off the coat which he had
just put on, and darted at Hugh, who had by this time recovered
his coolness, and was besides, notwithstanding his unusual
exertions, the more agile of the two. The other was
heavier and more powerful. Hugh sprang aside, as he would
have done from the rush of a bull, and again with a quick blow
felled his antagonist. Beginning rather to enjoy punishing him,
he now went in for it; and, before the other would yield, he
had rendered his next day's labour somewhat doubtful. He
withdrew, with no more injury to himself than a little water
would remove. Janet and Margaret had left the field before he
addressed the man.
He went home and to bed — more weary than he had ever
been in his life. Before he went to sleep, however, he made up
his mind to say nothing of his encounter to David, but to leave
him to hear of it from other sources. He could not help feeling
a little anxious as to his judgment upon it. That the laird
would approve, he hardly doubted; but for his opinion he cared
very little.
"Dawvid, I wonner at ye," said Janet to her husband, the
moment he came home, "to lat the young lad warstle himsel'
deid that get wi' a scythe. His banes is but saft yet. There
wasna a dry steek on him or he wan half the lenth o' the first
bout. He's sair disjaskit, I'se warran'."
"Nae fear o' him, Janet; it'll do him guid. Mr. Sutherland's
no feckless winlestrae o' a creater. Did he haud his ain at a'
wi' the lave?"
"Haud his ain! Gin he be fit for onything the day, he maun
be pitten neist yersel', or he'll cut the legs aff o' ony ither man
i' the corn."
A glow of pleasure mantled in Margaret's face at her mother's
praise of Hugh. Janet went on:
"But I was jist clean affronted wi' the way 'at the young
chields behaved themselves till him."
"I thocht I heard a toot-moot o' that kin' afore I left, but I
thocht it better to tak' nae notice o't. I'll be wi' ye a' day the
morn though, an' I'm thinkin' I'll clap a rouch han' on their
mou's 'at I hear ony mair o't frae."
But there was no occasion for interference on David's part.
Hugh made his appearance — not, it is true, with the earliest in
the hairst-rig, but after breakfast with the laird, who was delighted
with the way in which he had handled his scythe the
day before, and felt twice the respect for him in consequence.
It must be confessed he felt very stiff, but the best treatment
for stiffness being the homœpathic one of more work, he had
soon restored the elasticity of his muscles, and lubricated his
aching joints. His antagonist of the foregoing evening was nowhere
to be seen; and the rest of the young men were shamefaced
and respectful enough.
David, having learned from some of the spectators the facts
of the combat, suddenly, as they were walking home together,
held out his hand to Hugh, shook his hard, and said:
"Mr. Sutherlan', I'm sair obleeged to ye for giein' that
vratch, Jamie Ogg, a guid doonsettin'. He's a coorse crater;
but the warst maun hae meat, an' sae I didna like to refeese
him when he cam for wark. But it's a greater kin'ness to clout
him nor to cleed him. They say ye made an awfu' munsie o'
him. But it's to be houpit he'll live to thank ye. There's
some fowk 'at can respeck no airgument but frae steekit neives;
an' it's fell cruel to haud it frae them, gin ye hae't to gie them.
I hae had eneuch ado to haud my ain han's aff o' the ted, but it
comes a hantle better frae you, Mr. Sutherlan'."
Hugh wielded the scythe the whole of the harvest, and Margaret
gathered to him. By the time it was over, leading-home
and all, he measured an inch less about the waist, and two
inches more about the shoulders; and was as brown as a berry,
and as strong as an ox, or "owse," as David called it, when thus
describing Mr. Sutherland's progress in corporal development;
for he took a fatherly pride in the youth, to whom, at the same
time, he looked up with submission, as his master in learning.
CHAPTER XI.
A CHANGE AND NO CHANGE.
Affliction, when I know it, is but this —
A deep alloy, whereby man tougher is
To bear the hammer; and the deeper still,
We still arise more image of his will.
Sickness — an humorous cloud. 'twixt us and light;
And death, at longest, but another night.
Man is his own star; and that soul that can
Be honest, is the only perfect Man.
JOHN FLETCHER. — Upon an Honest Man's Fortune.
HAD Sutherland been in love with Margaret, those would have
been happy days; and that a yet more happy night, when,
under the mystery of a low moonlight and a gathering storm,
the crop was cast in haste into the carts, and hurried home to
be built up in safety; when a strange low wind crept sighing
across the stubble, as if it came wandering out of the past and
the land of dreams, lying far off and withered in the green west;
and when Margaret and he came and went in the moonlight like
creatures in a dream — for the vapours of sleep were floating in
Hugh's brain, although he was awake and working.
"Margaret," he said, as they stood waiting a moment for the
cart that was coming up to be filled with sheaves, "what does
that wind put you in mind of?"
"Ossian's Poems," replied Margaret, without a moment's
hesitation.
Hugh was struck by her answer. He had meant something
quite different. But it harmonized with his feeling about
Ossian; for the genuineness of whose poetry, Highlander as he
was, he had no better argument to give than the fact, that they
produced in himself an altogether peculiar mental condition;
that the spiritual sensations he had in reading them were quite
different from those produced by anything else, prose or verse;
in fact, that they created moods of their own in his mind. He
was unwilling to believe, apart from national prejudices (which
have not prevented the opinions on this question from being as
strong on the one side as on the other), that this individuality
of influence could belong to mere affectations of a style which had
never sprung from the sources of real feeling. "Could they,"
he thought, "possess the power to move us like remembered
dreams of our childhood, if all that they possessed of reality was
a pretended imitation of what never existed, and all that they
inherited from the past was the halo of its strangeness?"
But Hugh was not in love with Margaret, though he could
not help feeling the pleasure of her presence. Any youth must
have been the better for having her near him; but there was
nothing about her quiet, self-contained being, free from manifestation
of any sort, to rouse the feelings commonly called love,
in the mind of an inexperienced youth like Hugh Sutherland. —
I say commonly called, because I believe that within the whole
sphere of intelligence there are no two loves the same. — Not
that he was less easily influenced than other youths. A designing
girl might have caught him at once, if she had had no other
beauty than sparkling eyes; but the womanhood of the beautiful
Margaret kept so still in its pearly cave, that it rarely met
the glance of neighbouring eyes. How Margaret regarded him
I do not know; but I think it was with a love almost entirely
one with reverence and gratitude. Cause for gratitude she certainly
had, though less than she supposed; and very little cause
indeed for reverence. But how could she fail to revere one to
whom even her father looked up Of course David's feeling of
respect for Hugh must have sprung chiefly from intellectual
grounds; and he could hardly help seeing, if he thought at all
on the subject, which is doubtful, that Hugh was as far behind
Margaret in the higher gifts and graces, as he was before her in
intellectual acquirement. But whether David perceived this or
not, certainly Margaret did not even think in that direction.
She was pure of self-judgment — conscious of no comparing of
herself with others, least of all with those next her.
At length the harvest was finished; or, as the phrase of
the district was, clyack was gotten — a phrase with the derivation,
or even the exact meaning of which, I am unacquainted;
knowing only that it implies something in close
association with the feast of harvest-home, called the kirn in
other parts of Scotland. Thereafter, the fields lay bare to the
frosts of morning and evening, and to the wind that grew cooler
and cooler with the breath of Winter, who lay behind the
northern bills, and waited for his hour. But many lovely days
remained, of quiet and slow decay, of yellow and red leaves, of
warm noons and lovely sunsets, followed by skies — green from the
west horizon to the zenith, and walked by a moon that seemed
to draw up to her all the white mists from pond and river and
pool, to settle again in hoar-frost, during the colder hours that
precede the dawn. At length every leafless tree sparkled in the
morning sun, incrusted with fading gems; and the ground was
hard under foot; and the hedges were filled with frosted spider--
webs; and winter had laid the tips of his fingers on the land,
soon to cover it deep with the flickering snow-flakes, shaken
from the folds of his outspread mantle. But long ere this,
David and Margaret had returned with renewed diligence, and
powers strengthened by repose, or at least by intermission, to
their mental labours, and Hugh was as constant a visitor at the
cottage as before. The time, however, drew nigh when he must
return to his studies at Aberdeen; and David and Margaret
were looking forward with sorrow to the loss of their friend.
Janet, too, "cudna bide to think o't."
"He'll tak' the daylicht wi' him, I doot, my lass," she said, as
she made the porridge for breakfast one morning, and looked
down anxiously at her daughter, seated on the creepie by the
ingle-neuk.
"Na, na, mither," replied Margaret, looking up from her
book; "he'll lea' sic gifts ahin' him as'll mak' daylicht i' the
dark;" and then she bent her head and went on with her reading,
as if she had not spoken.
The mother looked away with a sigh and a slight, sad shake
of the head.
But matters were to turn out quite different from all anticipations.
Before the day arrived on which Hugh must leave for
the university, a letter from home informed him that his father
was dangerously ill. He hastened to him, but only to comfort
his last hours by all that a son could do, and to support his
mother by his presence during the first hours of her loneliness.
But anxious thoughts for the future, which so often force themselves
on the attention of those who would gladly prolong their
brooding over the past, compelled them to adopt an alteration
of their plans for the present.
The half-pay of Major Sutherland was gone, of course; and
all that remained for Mrs. Sutherland was a small annuity,
secured by her husband's payments to a certain fund for the use
of officers' widows. From this she could spare but a mere trifle
for the completion of Hugh's university-education; while the
salary he had received at Turriepuffit, almost the whole of which
he had saved, was so small as to be quite inadequate for the very
moderate outlay necessary. He therefore came to the resolution
to write to the laird, and offer, if they were not yet provided
with another tutor, to resume his relation to the young
gentlemen for the winter. It was next to impossible to spend
money there; and he judged that before the following winter,
he should be quite able to meet the expenses of his residence at
Aberdeen, during the last session of his course. He would
have preferred trying to find another situation, had it not been
that David and Janet and Margaret had made there a home
for him.
Whether Mrs. Glasford was altogether pleased at the proposal,
I cannot tell; but the laird wrote a very gentlemanlike
epistle, condoling with him and his mother upon their loss, and
urging the usual common-places of consolation. The letter
ended with a hearty acceptance of Hugh's offer, and, strange to
tell, the unsolicited promise of an increase of salary to the
amount of five pounds. This is another to be added to the
many proofs that verisimilitude is not in the least an essential
element of verity.
He left his mother as soon as circumstances would permit,
and returned to Turriepuffit; an abode for the winter very different
indeed from that in which he had expected to spend it.
He reached the place early in the afternoon; received from
Mrs. Glasford a cold "I hope you're well, Mr. Sutherland;"
found his pupils actually reading, and had from them awelcome
rather boisterously evidenced; told them to get their books;
and sat down with them at once to commence their winter
labours. He spent two hours thus; had a hearty shake of the
hand from the laird, when he came home; and, after a substantial
tea, walked down to David's cottage, where a welcome
awaited him worth returning for.
"Come yer wa's butt," said Janet, who met him as he opened
the door without any prefatory knock, and caught him with
both hands; "I'm blithe to see yer bonny face ance mair.
We're a' jist at ane mair wi' expeckin' o' ye."
David stood in the middle of the floor, waiting for him.
"Come awa', my bonny lad," was all his greeting, as he held
out a great fatherly hand to the youth, and, grasping his in the
one, clapped him on the shoulder with the other, the water
standing in his blue eyes the while. Hugh thought of his own
father, and could not restrain his tears. Margaret gave him a
still look full in the face, and, seeing his emotion, did not even
approach to offer him any welcome. She hastened, instead, to
place a chair for him as she had done when first he entered the
cottage, and when he had taken it sat down at his feet on her
creepie. With true delicacy, no one took any notice of him for
some time. David said at last,
"An' hoo's yer puir mother, Mr. Sutherlan'?"
"She's pretty well," was all Hugh could answer.
"It's a sair stroke to bide," said David; "but it's a gran' thing
whan a man's won weel throw't. Whan my father deit, I min'
weel, I was sae prood to see him lyin' there, in the could grandeur
o' deith, an' no man 'at daured say he ever did or spak the
thing 'at didna become him, 'at I jist gloried i' the mids o' my
greetin'. He was but a puir auld shepherd, Mr. Sutherlan', wi'
hair as white as the sheep 'at followed him; an' I wat as they
followed him, he followed the great Shepherd; an' followed an'
followed, till he jist followed Him hame, whaur we're a' boun',
an' some o' us far on the road, thanks to Him!"
And with that David rose, and got down the Bible, and, opening
it reverently, read with a solemn, slightly tremulous voice,
the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel. When he had
finished, they all rose, as by one accord, and knelt down, and
David prayed:
"O Thou in whase sicht oor deeth is precious, an' no licht
maitter; wha through darkness leads to licht, an' through deith
to the greater life! — we canna believe that thou wouldst gie us
ony guid thing, to tak' the same again; for that would be but
bairns' play. We believe that thou taks, that thou may gie
again the same thing better nor afore — mair o't and better nor
we could ha' received it itherwise; jist as the Lord took himsel'
fine the sicht o' them 'at lo'ed him weel, that instead o' bein'
veesible afore their een, he micht hide himsel' in their verra
herts. Come thou, an' abide in us, an' tak' us to bide in thee;
an' syne gin we be a' in thee, we canna be that far frae ane anither,
though some sud be in haven, an' some upo' earth. Lord
help us to do oor wark like thy men an' maidens doon the stair,
remin'in' oursel's, 'at them 'at we miss hae only gane up the
stair, as gin 'twar to haud things to thy han' i' thy ain presence--
chaumer, whaur we houp to be called or lang, an' to see thee
an' thy Son, wham we lo'e aboon a'; an' in his name we say,
Amen!"
Hugh rose from his knees with a sense of solemnity and
reality that he had never felt before. Little was said that
evening; supper was eaten, if not in silence, yet with nothing
that could be called conversation. And, almost in silence,
David walked home with Hugh. The spirit of his father seemed
to walk beside him. He felt as if he had been buried with him
and had found that the sepulchre was clothed with green things
and roofed with stars — was in truth the heavens and the earth
in which his soul walked abroad.
If Hugh looked a little more into his Bible, and tried a little
more to understand it, after his father's death, it is not to be
wondered at. It is but another instance of the fact that
whether from education or from the leading of some higher
instinct, we are ready, in every more profound trouble, to feel
as if a solution or a refuge lay somewhere — lay in sounds of
wisdom, perhaps, to be sought and found in the best of books,
the deepest of all the mysterious treasuries of words. But
David never sought to influence Hugh to this end. He read the
Bible in his family, but he never urged the reading of it on
others. Sometimes he seemed rather to avoid the subject of
religion altogether; and yet it was upon those very occasions
that, if he once began to speak, he would pour out, before he
ceased, some of his most impassioned utterances.
CHAPTER XII.
CHARITY.
Knowledge bloweth up, but charity buildeth up.
LORD BACON'S rendering of 1 Cor. viii. i.
THINGS went on as usual for a few days, when Hugh began to
encounter a source of suffering of a very material and unromantic
kind, but which, nevertheless, had been able before now,
namely, at the commencement of his tutorship, to cause him a
very sufficient degree of distress. It was this; that he had no
room in which he could pursue his studies in private, without
having to endure a most undesirable degree of cold. In summer
this was a matter of little moment, for the universe might then
be his secret chamber; but in a Scotch spring or autumn, not
to say winter, a bedroom without a fire-place, which, strange to
say, was the condition of his, was not a study in which thought
could operate to much satisfactory result. Indeed, pain is a far
less hurtful enemy to thinking than cold. And to have to fight
such suffering and its benumbing influences, as well as to follow
out a train of reasoning, difficult at any time, and requiring
close attention — is too much for any machine whose thinking
wheels are driven by nervous gear. Sometimes — for he must
make the attempt — he came down to his meals quite blue with
cold, as his pupils remarked to their mother; but their observation
never seemed to suggest to her mind the necessity of
making some better provision for the poor tutor. And Hugh,
after the way in which she had behaved to him, was far too
proud to ask her a favour, even if he had had hopes of receiving
his request. He knew, too, that, in the house, the laird, to
interfere in the smallest degree, must imperil far more than he
dared. The prospect, therefore, of the coming winter, in a
country where there was scarcely any afternoon, and where the
snow might lie feet deep for weeks, was not at all agreeable
He had, as I have said, begun to suffer already, for the mornings
and evenings were cold enough now, although it was a
bright, dry October. One evening Janet remarked that he had
caught cold, for he was 'hostin' sair;' and this led Hugh to
state the discomfort he was condemned to experience up at the
ha' house.
"Weel," said David, after some silent deliberation, "that
sattles't; we maun set aboot it immedantly."
Of course Hugh was quite at a loss to understand what he
meant, and begged him to explain.
"Ye see," replied David, "we hae verra little hoose-room
this bit cot; for, excep this kitchen, we hae but the ben whaur
Janet and me sleeps; and sae last year I spak' to the laird to
lat me hae as muckle timmer as I wad need to big a kin' o' a
lean-to to the house ahin', so 'at we micht hae a kin' o' a bit
parlour like, or rather a roomie 'at ony o' us micht retire till for
a bit, gin we wanted to be oor lanes. He had nae objections,
honest man. But somehoo or ither I never sat han' till't; but
noo the wa's maun be up afore the wat weather sets in. Sae
I'se be at it the morn, an' maybe ye'll len' me a han', Mr.
Sutherlan', and tak' oot yer wages in house-room an' firin' efter
it's dune."
"Thank you heartily!" said Hugh; "that would be delightful.
It seems too good to be possible. But will not wooden
walls be rather a poor protection against such winters as I
suppose you have in these parts?"
"Hootoot, Mr. Sutherlan', ye micht gie me credit for raither
mair rumgumption nor that comes till. Timmer was the only
thing I not (needed) to spier for; the lave lies to ony body's
han' — a few cart-fu's o' sods frae the hill ahint the hoose, an' a
han'fu' or twa o' stanes for the chimla oot o' the quarry — there's
eneuch there for oor turn ohn blastit mair; an' we'll saw the
wood oorsels; an' gin we had ance the wa's up, we can carry on
the inside at oor leisur'. That's the way 'at the Maker does
oorsels; he gie's us the wa's an' the material, an' a whole
lifetime, maybe mair, to furnish the house."
"Capital!" exclaimed Hugh. "I'll work like a horse, and
we'll be at it the morn."
"I'se be at it afore daylicht, an' ane or twa o' the lads'll len'
me a han' efter wark-hours; and there's yersel', Mr. Sutherlan',
worth ane an' a half o' ordinary workers; an' we'll hae truff
aneuch for the wa's in a jiffey. I'll mark a feow saplin's i' the
wud here at denner-time, an' we'll hae them for bauks, an'
couples, an' things; an' there's plenty dry eneuch for beurds i'
the shed, an' bein' but a lean-to, there'll be but half wark, ye
ken."
They went out directly, in the moonlight, to choose the spot;
and soon came to the resolution to build it so, that a certain
back door, which added more to the cold in winter than to the
convenience in summer, should be the entrance to the new
chamber. The chimney was the chief difficulty; but all the
materials being in the immediate neighbourhood, and David
capable of turning his hands to anything, no obstruction
was feared. Indeed, he set about that part first, as was necessary;
and had soon built a small chimney, chiefly of stones and
lime; while, under his directions, the walls were making progress
at the same time, by the labour of Hugh and two or three
of the young men from the farm, who were most ready to oblige
David with their help, although they were still rather unfriendly
to the colliginer, as they called him. But Hugh's frankness
soon won them over, and they all formed within a day or two
a very comfortable party of labourers. They worked very hard;
for if the rain should set in before the roof was on, their labour
would be almost lost from the soaking of the walls. They built
them of turf, very thick, with a slight slope on the outside
towards the roof; before commencing which, they partially cut
the windows out of the walls, putting wood across to support
the top. I should have explained that the turf used in building
was the upper and coarser part of the peat, which was plentiful
in the neighbourhood. The thatch-eaves of the cottage itself
projected over the joining of the new roof, so as to protect it
from the drip; and David soon put a thick thatch of new straw
upon the little building. Second-hand windows were procured
at the village, and the holes in the walls cut to their size. They
next proceeded to the saw-pit on the estate — for almost everything
necessary for keeping up the offices was done on the farm
itself — where they sawed thin planks of deal, to floor and line
the room, and make it more cosie. These David planed upon
one side; and when they were nailed against slight posts all
round the walls, and the joints filled in with putty, the room
began to look most enticingly habitable. The roof had not been
thatched two days before the rain set in; but now they could
work quite comfortably inside; and as the space was small, and
the forenights were long, they had it quite finished before the
end of November. David bought an old table in the village,
and one or two chairs; mended them up; made a kind of rustic
sofa or settle; put a few bookshelves against the wall; had a
peat fire lighted on the hearth every day; and at length, one
Saturday evening, they had supper in the room, and the place
was consecrated henceforth to friendship and learning. From
this time, every evening, as soon as lessons, and the meal which
immediately followed them, were over, Hugh betook himself to
the cottage, on the shelves of which all his books by degrees
collected themselves; and there spent the whole long evening,
generally till ten o'clock; the first part alone, reading or writing;
the last in company with his pupils, who, diligent as ever, now
of course made more rapid progress than before, inasmuch as
the lessons were both longer and more frequent. The only
drawback to their comfort was, that they seemed to have shut
Janet out; but she soon remedied this, by contriving to get
through with her house work earlier than she had ever done
before; and, taking her place on the settle behind them,
knitted away diligently at her stocking, which, to inexperienced
eyes, seemed always the same, and always in the same state of
progress, notwithstanding that she provided the hose of the
whole family, blue and grey, ribbed and plain. Her occasional
withdrawings, to observe the progress of the supper, were only
a cheerful break in the continuity of labour. Little would the
passer-by imagine that beneath that roof, which seemed worthy
only of the name of a shed, there sat, in a snug little homely
room, such a youth as Hugh, such a girl as Margaret, such a
grand peasant king as David, and such a true-hearted mother to
them all as Janet. There were no pictures and no music; for
Margaret kept her songs for solitary places; but the sound of
verse was often the living wind which set a-waving the tops of
the trees of knowledge, fast growing in the sunlight of Truth.
The thatch of that shed-roof was like the grizzled hair of David.
beneath which lay the temple not only of holy but of wise and
poetic thought. It was like the sylvan abode of the gods,
where the architecture and music are all of their own making;
in their kind the more beautiful, the more simple and rude;
and if more doubtful in their intent, and less precise in their
finish, yet therein the fuller of life and its grace, and the more
suggestive of deeper harmonies.
CHAPTER XIII.
HERALDRY.
And like his father of face and of stature,
And false of love — it came him of nature;
As doth the fox Renard, the fox's son;
Of kinde, he coud his old father's wone,
Without lore, as can a drake swim,
When it is caught, and carried to the brim.
CHAUCER. — Legend of Phillis.
OF course, the yet more lengthened absences of Hugh from
the house were subjects of remark as at the first; but Hugh
had made up his mind not to trouble himself the least about
that. For some time Mrs. Glasford took no notice of them to
himself; but one evening, just as tea was finished, and Hugh
was rising to go, her restraint gave way, and she uttered one
spiteful speech, thinking it, no doubt, so witty that it ought to
see the light.
"Ye're a day-labourer it seems, Mr. Sutherlan', and gang
hame at night."
"Exactly so, madam," rejoined Hugh. "There is no other
relation between you and me, than that of work and wages.
You have done your best to convince me of that, by making it
impossible for me to feel that this house is in any sense my
home."
With this grand speech he left the room, and from that time
till the day of his final departure from Turriepuffit, there was
not a single allusion made to the subject.
He soon reached the cottage. When he entered the new
room, which was always called Mr. Sutherland's study, the mute
welcome afforded him by the signs of expectation, in the glow
of the waiting fire, and the outspread arms of the elbow-chair,
which was now called his, as well as the room, made ample
amends to him for the unfriendliness of Mrs. Glasford. Going
to the shelves to find the books he wanted, he saw that they
had been carefully arranged on one shelf, and that the others
were occupied with books belonging to the house. He looked
at a few of them. They were almost all old books, and such as
may be found in many Scotch cottages; for instance, Boston's
Fourfold State, in which the ways of God and man may be seen
through a fourfold fog; Erskine's Divine Sonnets, which will
repay the reader in laughter for the pain it costs his reverence,
producing much the same effect that a Gothic cathedral might,
reproduced by the pencil and from the remembrance of a
Chinese artist, who had seen it once; Drelincourt on Death,
with the famous ghost-hoax of De Foe, to help the bookseller to
the sale of the unsaleable; the Scots Worthies, opening of itself
at the memoir of Mr. Alexander Peden; the Pilgrim's Progress,
that wonderful inspiration, failing never save when the theologian
would sometimes snatch the pen from the hand of the poet;
Theron and Aspasio; Village Dialogues; and others of a like
class. To these must be added a rare edition of Blind Harry.
It was clear to Hugh, unable as he was fully to appreciate the
wisdom of David, that it was not from such books as these that
he had gathered it; yet such books as these formed all his
store. He turned from them, found his own, and sat down to
read. By and by David came in.
"I'm ower sune, I doubt, Mr. Sutherlan'. I'm disturbin'
"Not at all," answered Hugh. "Besides, I am not much in
a reading mood this evening: Mrs. Glasford has been annoying
me again."
"Poor body! What's she been sayin' noo?"
Thinking to amuse David, Hugh recounted the short passage
between them recorded above. David, however, listened with a
very different expression of countenance from what Hugh had
anticipated; and, when he had finished, took up the conversation
in a kind of apologetic tone.
"Weel, but ye see," said he, folding his palms together, "she
hasna' jist had a'thegither fair play. She does na come o'
guid breed. Man, it's a fine thing to come o' a guid breed.
They hae a hantle to answer for 'at come o' decent forbears."

"I thought she brought the laird a good property," said
Hugh, not quite understanding David.
"Ow, ay, she brocht him gowpenfu's o' siller; but hoo was't
gotten? An' ye ken it's no riches 'at 'ill mak' a guid breed —
cep' it be o' maggots. The richer cheese the mair maggots, ye
ken. Ye maunna speyk o' this; but the mistress's father was
weel kent to hae made his siller by fardins and bawbees, in
creepin', crafty ways. He was a bit merchan' in Aberdeen, an'
aye keepit his thoom weel ahint the peint o' the ellwan', sae 'at
he made an inch or twa upo' ilka yard he sauld. Sae he took
frae his soul, and pat intill his siller-bag, an' had little to gie his
dochter but a guid tocher. Mr. Sutherlan', it's a fine thing to
come o' dacent fowk. Noo, to luik at yersel': I ken naething
aboot yer family; but ye seem at eesicht to come o' a guid
breed for the bodily part o' ye. That's a sma' matter; but frae
what I ha'e seen — an' I trust in God I'm no' mista'en — ye come
o' the richt breed for the min' as weel. I'm no flatterin' ye,
Mr. Sutherlan'; but jist layin' it upo' ye; 'at gin ye had an
honest father and gran'father, an' especially a guid mither, ye
hae a heap to answer for; an' ye ought never to be hard upo'
them 'at's sma' creepin' creatures, for they canna help it sae weel
as the like o' you and me can."
David was not given to boasting. Hugh had never heard
anything suggesting it from his lips before. He turned full
round and looked at him. On his face lay a solemn quiet, either
from a feeling of his own responsibility, or a sense of the excuse
that must be made for others. What he had said about the
signs of breed in Hugh's exterior, certainly applied to himself as
well. His carriage was full of dignity, and a certain rustic
refinement; his voice was wonderfully gentle, but deep; and
slowest when most impassioned. He seemed to have come of
some gigantic antediluvian breed: there was something of the
Titan slumbering about him. He would have been a stern man,
but for an unusual amount of reverence that seemed to over--
flood the sternness, and change it into strong love. No one had
ever seen him thoroughly angry; his simple displeasure with
any of the labourers, the quality of whose work was deficient,
would go further than the laird's oaths.
Hugh sat looking at David, who supported the look with that
perfect calmness that comes of unconscious simplicity. At
length Hugh's eye sank before David's, as he said:
"I wish I had known your father, then, David."
"My father was sic a ane as I tauld ye the ither day, Mr.
Sutherlan'. I'm a' richt there. A puir, semple, God-fearin'
shepherd, 'at never gae his dog an ill-deserved word, nor took
the skin o' ony puir lammie, wha's woo' he was clippie', atween
the shears. He was weel worthy o' the grave 'at he wan till at
last. An' my mither was jist sic like, wi' aiblins raither mair
heid nor my father. They're her beuks maistly upo' the skelf
there abune yer ain, Mr. Sutherlan'. I honour them for her
sake, though I seldom trouble them mysel'. She gae me a kin'
o' a scunner at them, honest woman, wi' garrin' me read at
them o' Sundays, till they near scomfisht a' the guid 'at was in
me by nater. There's doctrine for ye, Mr. Sutherlan'!" added
David, with a queer laugh.
"I thought they could hardly be your books," said Hugh.
"But I hae ae odd beuk, an' that brings me upo' my
pedigree, Mr. Sutherlan'; for the puirest man has as lang a
pedigree as the greatest, only he kens less aboot it, that's a'.
An' I wat, for yer lords and ladies, it's no a' to their credit 'at's
tauld o' their hither-come; an' that's a' against the breed, ye
ken. A wilfu' sin in the father may be a sinfu' weakness i' the
son; an' that's what I ca' no fair play."
So saying, David went to his bedroom, whence he returned
with a very old-looking book, which he laid on the table before
Hugh. He opened it, and saw that it was a volume of Jacob
Bœhmen, in the original language. He found out afterwards,
upon further inquiry, that it was in fact a copy of the first
edition of his first work, The Aurora, printed in 1612. On
the title-page was written a name, either in German or old
English character, he was not sure which; but he was able to
read it — Martin Elginbrodde. David, having given him time to
see all this, went on:
"That buik has been in oor family far langer nor I ken. I
needna say I canna read a word o't, nor I never heard o' ane 'at
could. But I canna help tellin' ye a curious thing, Mr.
Sutherlan', in connexion wi' the name on that buik: there's a
gravestane, a verra auld ane — hoo auld I canna weel mak' out,
though I gaed ends-errand to Aberdeen to see't — an' the name
upo' that gravestane is Martin Elginbrod, but made mention o'
in a strange fashion; an' I'm no sure a'thegither aboot hoo ye'll
tak' it, for it soun's rather fearsome at first hearin' o't. But
ye'se hae't as I read it:
"'Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde:
Hae mercy o' my soul, Lord. God;
As I wad do, were I Lord God,
And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.'"
Certainly Hugh could not help a slight shudder at what
seemed to him the irreverence of the epitaph, if indeed it was
not deserving of a worse epithet. But he made no remark;
and, after a moment's pause, David resumed:
"I was unco ill-pleased wi't at the first, as ye may suppose,
Mr. Sutherlan'; but, after a while, I begude (began) an' gaed
through twa or three bits o' reasonin's aboot it, in this way: By
the natur' o't, this maun be the man's ain makin', this epitaph;
for no ither body cud ha' dune't; and he had left it in's will
to be pitten upo' the deid-stane, nae doot: I' the contemplation
o' deith, a man wad no be lik'ly to desire the perpetuation
o' a blasphemy upo' a table o' stone, to stan' against him
for centuries i' the face o' God an' man: therefore it cudna ha'
borne the luik to him o' the presumptuous word o' a proud man
evenin' himself' wi' the Almichty. Sae what was't, then, 'at
made him mak' it? It seems to me — though I confess, Mr.
Sutherlan', I may be led astray by the nateral desire 'at a man
has to think weel o' his ain forbears — for 'at he was a forbear o'
my ain, I canna weel doot, the name bein' by no means a common
ane, in Scotland ony way — I'm sayin', it seems to me, that
it's jist a darin' way, maybe a childlike way, o' judgin', as Job
micht ha' dune, 'the Lord by himsel';' an' sayin', 'at gin he,
Martin Elginbrod, wad hae mercy, surely the Lord was not less
mercifu' than he was. The offspring o' the Most High was, as
it were, aware o' the same spirit i' the father o' him, as muved
in himsel'. He felt 'at the mercy in himsel' was ane o' the best
things; an' he cudna think 'at there wad be less o't i' the father
o' lichts, frae whom cometh ilka guid an' perfeck gift. An' may
be he remembered 'at the Saviour himsel' said: 'Be ye perfect
as your father in Heaven is perfect;' and that the perfection o'
God, as He had jist pinted oot afore, consisted in causin' his
bonny sun to shine on the evil an' the good, an' his caller rain
to fa' upo' the just an' the unjust."
It may well be doubted whether David's interpretation of the
epitaph was the correct one. It will appear to most of my
readers to breathe rather of doubt lighted up by hope, than of
that strong faith which David read in it. But whether from
family partiality, and consequent unwillingness to believe that
his ancestor had been a man who, having led a wild, erring, and
evil life, turned at last towards the mercy of God as his only
hope, which the words might imply; or simply that he saw
this meaning to be the best; this was the interpretation which
David had adopted.
"But," interposed Hugh, "supposing he thought all that,
why should he therefore have it carved on his tombstone?"
"I hae thocht aboot that too," answered David. "For ae
thing, a body has but feow ways o' sayin' his say to his brithermen.
Robbie Burns cud do't in sang efter sang; but maybe
this epitaph was a' that auld Martin was able to mak'. He
michtna hae had the gift o' utterance. But there may be mair
in't nor that. Gin the clergy o' thae times warna a gey hantle
mair enlichtened nor a fowth o' the clergy hereabouts, he wad
hae heard a heap aboot the glory o' God, as the thing 'at God
himsel' was maist anxious aboot uphaudin', jist like a prood
creater o' a king; an' that he wad mak' men, an' feed them, an'
deed them, an' gie them braw wives an' toddlin' bairnies, an'syne
damn them, a' for's ain glory. Maybe ye wadna get mony o'
them 'at wad speyk sae fair-oot noo-a-days, for they gang wi'
the tide jist like the lave; but i' my auld minny's buiks, I hae
read jist as muckle as that, an' waur too. Mony ane 'at spak
like that, had nae doot a guid meanin' in't; but, hech man!
it's an awsome deevilich way o' sayin' a holy thing. Noo, what
better could puir auld Martin do, seein' he had no ae word to
say i' the kirk a' his lifelang, nor jist say his ae word, as pithily
as might be, i' the kirkyard, efter he was deid; an' ower an'
ower again, wi' a tongue o' stare, let them tak' it or lat it alane
'at likit? That's a' my defence o' my auld luckie-daddy —
Heaven rest his brave auld soul!"
"But are we not in danger," said Hugh, "of thinking too
lightly and familiarly of the Maker, when we proceed to judge
him so by ourselves?"
"Mr. Sutherlan'," replied David, very solemnly, "I dinna
thenk I can be in muckle danger o' lichtlyin' him, whan I ken
in my ain sel', as weel as she 'at was healed o' her plague, 'at I
wad be a horse i' that pleuch, or a pig in that stye, not merely
if it was his will — for wha can stan' against that — but if it was
for his glory; ay, an' comfort mysel', a' the time the change
was passin' upo' me, wi' the thocht that, efter an' a', his blessed
han's made the pigs too."
"But, a moment ago, David, you seemed to me to be making
rather little of his glory."
"O' his glory, as they consider glory — ay; efter a warldly
fashion that's no better nor pride, an' in him would only be a
greater pride. But his glory! consistin' in his trowth an' lovin'
kindness — (man! that's a bonny word) — an' grand self-forgettin'
devotion to his creaters — lord! man, it's unspeakable. I care
little for his glory either, gin by that ye mean the praise o'
men. A heap o' the anxiety for the spread o' his glory, seems
to me to be but a desire for the sempathy o' ither fowk.
There's no fear but men 'll praise him, a' in guid time — that is,
whan they can. But, Mr. Sutherlan', for the glory o' God,
raither than, if it were possible, one jot or one tittle should fail
of his entire perfection of holy beauty, I call God to witness,
would gladly go to hell itsel'; for no evil worth the full name
can befall the earth or ony creater in't, as long as God is what
he is. For the glory o' God, Mr. Sutherlan', I wad die the
deith. For the will o' God, I'm ready for onything he likes.
I canna surely be in muckle danger o' lichtlyin' him. I glory
in my God."
The almost passionate earnestness with which David spoke,
would alone have made it impossible for Hugh to reply at once.
After a few moments, however, he ventured to ask the
question:
"Would you do nothing that other people should know God,
then, David?"
"Onything 'at he likes. But I would tak' tent o' interferin'.
He's at it himsel' frae mornin' to nicht, frae year's en' to year's
en'."
"But you seem to me to make out that God is nothing but
love!"
"Ay, naething but love. What for no?"
"Because we are told he is just."
"Would he be lang just if he didna lo'e us?"
"But does he not punish sin?"
"Would it be ony kin'ness no to punish sin? No to use
a' means to pit awa' the ae ill thing frae us? Whatever may
be meant by the place o' meesery, depen' upo't, Mr. Sutherlan',
it's only anither form o' love, love shinin' through the fogs o' ill,
an' sae gart leuk something verra different thereby. Man,
raither nor see my Maggy — an' ye'll no doot 'at I lo'e her —
raither nor see my Maggy do an ill thing, I'd see her lyin' deid
at my feet. But supposin' the ill thing ance dune, it's no at my
feet I wad lay her, but upo' my heart, wi' my auld arms aboot
her, to haud the further ill aff o' her. An' shall mortal man be
more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his
Maker? O my God! my God!"
The entrance of Margaret would have prevented the prosecution
of this conversation, even if it had not already drawn to a
natural close. Not that David would not have talked thus
before his daughter, but simply that minds, like instruments,
need to be brought up to the same pitch, before they can
"atone together," and that one feels this instinctively on the
entrance of another who has not gone through the same immediate
process of gradual elevation of tone.
Their books and slates were got out, and they sat down to
their work; but Hugh could not help observing that David, in
the midst of his lines and angles and algebraic computations,
would, every now and then, glance up at Margaret, with a look of
tenderness in his face yet deeper and more delicate in its
expression than ordinary. Margaret was, however, quite unconscious
of it, pursuing her work with her ordinary even diligence.
But Janet observed it.
"What ails the bairn, Dawvid, 'at ye leuk at her that get?"
said she.
"Naething ails her, woman. Do ye never leuk at a body but
when something ails them?"
"Ow, ay — but no that get."
"Weel, maybe I was thinkin' hoo I wad leuk at her gin onything
did ail her."
"Hoot! hoot! dinna further the ill hither by makin' a bien
doonsittin' an' a bed for't."
All David's answer to this was one of his own smiles.
At supper, for it happened to be Saturday, Hugh said:
"I've been busy, between whiles, inventing, or perhaps discovering,
an etymological pedigree for you, David!"
"Weel, lat's hear't," said David.
"First — do you know that that volume with your ancestor's
name on it, was written by an old German shoemaker, perhaps
only a cobbler, for anything I know?"
"I know nothing aboot it, more or less," answered David.
"He was a wonderful man. Some people think he was
almost inspired."
"Maybe, maybe," was all David's doubtful response.
"At all events, though I know nothing about it myself, he
must have written wonderfully for a cobbler."
"For my pairt," replied David, "if I see no wonder in the
man, I can see but little in the cobbler. What for shouldna
cobbler write wonderfully, as weel as anither? It's a trade 'at
furthers meditation. My grandfather was a cobbler, as ye ca't;
an' they say he was no fule in his ain way either."
"Then it does go in the family!" cried Hugh, triumphantly.
"I was in doubt at first whether your name referred to the
breadth of your shoulders, David, as transmitted from some
ancient sire, whose back was an Ellwand-broad; for the g might
come from a w or v, for anything I know to the contrary. But
it would have been braid in that case. And, now, I am quite
convinced that that Martin or his father was a German, a friend
of old Jacob Bœhmen, who gave him the book himself, and was
besides of the same craft; and he coming to this country with
a name hard to be pronounced, they found a resemblance in the
sound of it to his occupation; and so gradually corrupted his
name, to them uncouth, into Elsynbrod, Elshinbrod, thence Elginbrod,
with a soft g, and lastly Elginbrod, as you pronounce it
now, with a hard g. This name, turned from Scotch into
English, would then be simply Martin Awlbore. The cobbler is
in the family, David, descended from Jacob Bœhmen himself,
by the mother's side."
This heraldic blazon amused them all very much, and David
expressed his entire concurrence with it, declaring it to be incontrovertible.
Margaret laughed heartily.
Besides its own beauty, two things made Margaret's laugh of
some consequence; one was, that it was very rare; and the
other, that it revealed her two regular rows of dainty white
teeth, suiting well to the whole build of the maiden. She was
graceful and rather tall, with a head which, but for its smallness,
might have seemed too heavy for the neck that supported
it, so ready it always was to droop like a snowdrop. The only
parts about her which Hugh disliked, were her hands and feet.
The former certainly had been reddened and roughened by
household work: bat they were well formed notwithstanding.
The latter he had never seen, notwithstanding the bare-foot
habits of Scotch maidens; for he saw Margaret rarely except
in the evenings, and then she was dressed to receive him. Certainly,
however, they were very far from following the shape of
the clumsy country shoes, by which he misjudged their proportions.
Had he seen them, as he might have seen them some
part of any day during the summer, their form at least would
have satisfied him.
CHAPTER XIV.
WINTER.
Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who
hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the
deep is frozen.
He giveth snow like wool; he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.
JOB xxxviii. 29, 30; PSALM cxlvii. 16.
WINTER was fairly come at last. A black frost had bound
the earth for many days; and at length a peculiar sensation,
almost a smell of snow in the air, indicated an approaching
storm. The snow fell at first in a few large unwilling
flakes, that fluttered slowly and heavily to the earth, where,
they lay like the foundation of the superstructure that was
about to follow. Faster and faster they fell — wonderful multitudes
of delicate crystals, adhering in shapes of beauty which
outvied all that jeweller could invent or execute of ethereal,
starry forms, structures of evanescent yet prodigal loveliness —
till the whole air was obscured by them, and night came on,
hastened by an hour, from the gathering of their white darkness.
In the morning, all the landscape was transfigured.
The snow had ceased to fall; but the whole earth, houses,
fields, and fences, ponds and streams, were changed to whiteness.
But most wonderful looked the trees — every bough and
every twig thickened, and bent earthward with its own individual
load of the fairy ghost-birds. Each retained the semblance
of its own form, wonderfully, magically altered by its
thick garment of radiant whiteness, shining gloriously in the
sunlight. It was the shroud of dead nature; but a shroud
that seemed to prefigure a lovely resurrection; for the very
death-robe was unspeakably, witchingly beautiful. Again at
night the snow fell; and again and again, with intervening
days of bright sunshine. Every morning, the first fresh footprints
were a new wonder to the living creatures, the young--
hearted amongst them at least, who lived and moved in this
death-world, this sepulchral planet, buried in the shining air
before the eyes of its sister-stars in the blue, deathless heavens.
Paths had to be cleared in every direction towards the out-houses,
and again cleared every morning; till at last the walls of solid
rain stood higher than the head of little Johnnie, as he was still
called, though he was twelve years old. It was a great delight
to him to wander through the snow-avenues in every direction;
and great fun it was, both to him and his brother, when they
were tired of snowballing each other and every living thing
about the place except their parents and tutor, to hollow out
mysterious caves and vaulted passages. Sometimes they would
carry these passages on from one path to within an inch or two
of another, and there lie in wait till some passer-by, unweeting
of harm, was just opposite their lurking cave; when they would
dash through the solid wall of snow with a hideous yell, almost
endangering the wits of the maids, and causing a recoil and
startled ejaculation even of the strong man on whom they
chanced to try their powers of alarm. Hugh himself was once
glad to cover the confusion of his own fright with the hearty
fit of laughter into which the perturbation of the boys, upon
discovering whom they had startled, threw him. It was rare
fun to them; but not to the women about the house, who
moved from place to place in a state of chronic alarm, scared
by the fear of being scared; till one of them going into
hysterics, real or pretended, it was found necessary to put a
stop to the practice; not, however, before Margaret had had
her share of the jest. Hugh happened to be looking out of his
window at the moment — watching her, indeed, as she passed
towards the kitchen with some message from her mother; when
an indescribable monster, a chaotic mass of legs and snow,
burst, as if out of the earth, upon her. She turned pale as the
snow around her (and Hugh had never observed before how
dark her eyes were), as she sprang back with the grace of a
startled deer. She uttered no cry, however, perceiving in a
moment who it was, gave a troubled little smile, and passed on
her way as if nothing had happened. Hugh was not sorry
when maternal orders were issued against the practical joke.
The boys did not respect their mother very much, but they
dared not disobey her, when she spoke in a certain tone.
There was no pathway cut to David's cottage; and no track
trodden, except what David, coming to the house sometimes,
and Hugh going every afternoon to the cottage, made between
them. Hugh often went to the knees in snow, but was well
dried and warmed by Janet's care when he arrived. She had
always a pair of stockings and slippers ready for him at the
fire, to be put on the moment of his arrival; and exchanged
again for his own, dry and warm, before he footed once more
the ghostly waste. When neither moon was up nor stars were
out, there was a strange eerie glimmer from the snow that
lighted the way home; and he thought there must be more
light from it than could be accounted for merely by the reflection
of every particle of light that might fall upon it from
other sources.
Margaret was not kept to the house by the snow, even when
it was falling. She went out as usual — not of course wandering
far, for walking was difficult now. But she was in little
danger of losing her way, for she knew the country as well as
any one; and although its face was greatly altered by the
filling up of its features, and the uniformity of the colour, yet
those features were discernible to her experienced eye through
the sheet that covered them. It was only necessary to walk on
the tops of dykes, and other elevated ridges, to keep clear of
the deep snow.
There were many paths between the cottages and the farms
in the neighbourhood, in which she could walk with comparative
ease and comfort. But she preferred wandering away
through the fields and toward the hills. Sometimes she would
come home like a creature of the snow, born of it, and living
in it; so covered was she from head to foot with its flakes.
David used to smile at her with peculiar complacency on such
occasions. It was evident that it pleased him she should be
the playmate of Nature. Janet was not altogether indulgent
to these freaks, as she considered them, of Marget—she had
quite given up calling her Meg, "sin' she took to the beuk so
eident." But whatever her mother might think of it, Margaret
was in this way laying up a store not only of bodily and mental
health, but of resources for thought and feeling, of secret understandings
and communions with Nature, and everything
simple, and strong, and pure through Nature, than which she
could have accumulated nothing more precious.
This kind of weather continued for some time, till the people
declared they had never known a storm last so long "ohn ever
devallt," that is, without intermission. But the frost grew
harder; and then the snow, instead of falling in large adhesive
flakes, fell in small dry flakes, of which the boys could make no
snaw-ba's. All the time, however, there was no wind; and this
not being a sheep country, there was little uneasiness or suffering
occasioned by the severity of the weather, beyond what
must befall the poorer classes in every northern country during
the winter.
One day, David heard that a poor old man of his acquaintance
was dying, and immediately set out to visit him, at a
distance of two or three miles. He returned in the evening,
only in time for his studies; for there was of course little or
nothing to be done at present in the way of labour. As he sat
down to the table, he said:
"I hae seen a wonnerfu' sicht sin' I saw you, Mr. Sutherlan'.
I gaed to see an auld Christian, whase body an' brain are nigh
worn oot. He was never onything remarkable for intellec, and
jist took what the minister tellt him for true, an' keepit the
guid o't; for his hert was aye richt, an' his faith a hantle
stronger than maybe it had ony richt to be, accordin' to his ain
opingans; but, hech! there's something far better nor his
opingans i' the hert o' ilka God-fearin' body. Whan I gaed butt
the hoose, he was sittin' in's auld arm-chair by the side o' the
fire, an' his face luikit dazed like. There was no licht in't but
what cam' noo an' than frac a low i' the fire. The snaw was
driftin' a wee aboot the bit winnock, an' his auld eon was fixed
upo't; an' a' 'at he said, takin' no notice o' me, was jist, The
birdies, is flutterin'; the birdies is flutterin'.' I spak' till him,
an' tried to roose him, wi' ae thing after anither, bit I might as
weel hae spoken to the door-cheek, for a' the notice that he
took. Never a word he spak', but aye, 'The birdies is flutterin'.'
At last, it cam' to my min' 'at the body was aye fu' o'
ane o' the psalms in particler; an' sae I jist said till him at last:
'John, hae ye forgotten the twenty-third psalm?' 'Forgotten
the twenty-third psalm!' quo' he; an' his face lighted up in a
moment frac the inside: 'The Lord's my shepherd, — an' I hae
followed Him through a' the smorin' drift o' the warl', an' he'll
bring me to the green pastures an' the still waters o' His summer-kingdom
at the lang last. I shall not want. An' I hae
wanted for naething, naething.' He had been a shepherd himsel'
in's young days. And so on he gaed, wi' a kin' o' a personal
commentary on the haill psalm frae beginnin' to en', and syne
he jist fell back into the auld croonin' sang, 'The birdies is
flutterin'; the birdies is flutterin'.' The licht deed oot o' his
face, an' a' that I could say could na' bring back the licht to his
face, nor the sense to his tongue. He'll sune be in a better
warl'. Sae I was jist forced to leave him. But I promised his
dochter, puir body, that I would ca' again an' see him the
morn's afternoon. It's unco dowie wark for her; for they hae
scarce a neebor within reach o' them, in case o' a change; an'
there had hardly been a creatur' inside o' their door for a
week."
The following afternoon, David set out according to his
promise. Before his return, the wind, which had been threatening
to wake all day, had risen rapidly, and now blew a snowstorm
of its own. When Hugh opened the door to take his
usual walk to the cottage, just as darkness was beginning to
fall, the sight he saw made his young strong heart dance with
delight. The snow that fell made but a small part of the wild,
confused turmoil and uproar of the ten-fold storm. For the
wind, raving over the surface of the snow, which, as I have already
explained, lay nearly as loose as dry sand, swept it in
thick fierce clouds along with it, tearing it up and casting it
down again no one could tell where — for the whole air was filled
with drift, as they call the snow when thus driven. A few
hours of this would alter the face of the whole country, leaving
some parts bare, and others buried beneath heaps on heaps of
snow, called here snaw-wreaths. For the word snow-wreaths does
not mean the lovely garlands hung upon every tree and bush in
its feathery fall; but awful mounds of drifted snow, that may
be the smooth, soft, white sepulchres of dead men, smothered
in the lapping folds of the almost solid wind. Path or way was
none before him. He could see nothing but the surface of a sea
of froth and foam, as it appeared to him, with the spray torn
from it, whirled in all shapes and contortions, and driven in
every direction; but chiefly, in the main direction of the wind,
in long sloping spires of misty whiteness, swift as arrows, and as
keen upon the face of him who dared to oppose them.
Hugh plunged into it with a wild sense of life and joy. In
the course of his short walk, however, if walk it could be
called, which was one chain of plungings and emergings,
struggles with the snow, and wrestles with the wind, he felt
that it needed not a stout heart only, but sound lungs and
strong limbs as well, to battle with the storm, even for such a
distance. When he reached the cottage, he found Janet in considerable
anxiety, not only about David, who had not yet returned,
but about Margaret as well, whom she had not seen for
some time, and who must be out somewhere in the storm — "the
wull hizzie." Hugh suggested that she might have gone to
meet her father.
"The Lord forbid!" ejaculated Janet. "The road lies ower
the tap o' the Halshach, as eerie and bare a place as ever was
hill-moss, wi' never a scoug or bield in't, frae the tae side to the
tither. The win' there jist gangs clean wud a'thegither. An'
there's mony a well-ee forbye, that gin ye fell intill't, ye wud
never come at the boddom o't. The Lord preserve's! I wis'
Dawvid was hame."
"How could you let him go, Janet?"
"Lat him gang, laddie! It's a strang tow 'at wad haud or
bin' Dawvid, whan he considers he bud to gang, an' 'twere intill
a deil's byke. But I'm no that feared aboot him. I maist
believe he's under special protection, if ever man was or oucht
to be; an' he's no more feared at the storm, nor gin the snaw
was angels' feathers flauchterin' oot o' their wings a' aboot him.
But I'm no easy i' my min' about Maggy — the wull hizzie! Gin
she be meetin' her father, an' chance to miss him, the Lord
kens what may come o' her."
Hugh tried to comfort her, but all that could be done was to
wait David's return. The storm seemed to increase rather than
abate its force. The footprints Hugh had made, had all but
vanished already at the very door of the house; which stood
quite in the shelter of the fir-wood. As they looked out, a
dark figure appeared within a yard or two of the house.
"The Lord grant it be my bairn!" prayed poor Janet. But
it was David, and alone. Janet gave a shriek.
"Dawvid, whaur's Maggie?"
"I haena seen the bairn," replied David, in repressed perturbation.
"She's no theroot, is she, the nicht?"
"She's no at hame, Dawvid, that's a' 'at I ken."
"Whaur gaed she?"
"The Lord kens. She's smoored i' the snaw by this time."
"She's i' the Lord's han's, Janet, be she aneath a snaw--
vraith. Dinna forget that, woman. Hoo lang is't sin' ye
missed her?"
"An hour an' mair — I dinna ken hoo lang. I'm clean doitit
wi' dreid."
"I'll awa' an' leuk for her. Just haud the hert in her till I
come back, Mr. Sutherlan'."
"I won't be left behind, David. I'm going with you."
"Ye dinna ken what ye're sayin', Mr. Sutherlan'. I wad sune
hae twa o' ye to seek in place o' ane."
"Never heed me; I'm going on my own account, come what
may."
"Weel, weel; I downa bide to differ. I'm gaein up the burn--
side; haud ye ower to the farm, and spier gin onybody's seen
her; an' the lads 'll be out to leuk for her in a jiffey. My puir
lassie!"
The sigh that must have accompanied the last words, was
lost in the wind, as they vanished in the darkness. Janet fell
on her knees in the kitchen, with the door wide open, and
the wind drifting in the powdery snow, and scattering it with the
ashes from the hearth over the floor. A picture of more
thorough desolation can hardly be imagined. She soon came to
herself, however; and reflecting that, if the lost child was
found, there must be a warm bed to receive her, else she might
be a second time lost, she rose and shut the door, and mended
the fire. It was as if the dumb attitude of her prayer was answered;
for though she had never spoken or even thought a
word, strength was restored to her distracted brain. When she
had made every preparation she could think of, she went to the
door again, opened it, and looked out. It was a region of
howling darkness, tossed about by pale snowdrifts; out of
which it seemed scarce more hopeful that welcome faces would
emerge, than that they should return to our eyes from the vast
unknown in which they vanish at last. She closed the door
once more, and knowing nothing else to be done, sat down on a
chair, with her hands on her knees, and her eyes fixed on the
door. The clock went on with its slow swing, tic — tac, tic — tac,
an utterly inhuman time-measurer; but she heard the sound of
every second, through the midst of the uproar in the fir-trees,
which bent their tall heads hissing to the blast, and swinging
about in the agony of their strife. The minutes went by, till
an hour was gone, and there was neither sound nor hearing, but
of the storm and the clock. Still she sat and stared, her eyes
fixed on the door-latch. Suddenly, without warning, it was
lifted, and the door opened. Her heart bounded and fluttered
like a startled bird; but alas! the first words she heard were:
"Is she no come yet?" It was her husband, followed by several of
the farm servants. He had made a circuit to the farm, and finding
that Hugh had never been there, hoped, though with trembling,
that Margaret had already returned home. The question
fell upon Janet's heart like the sound of the earth on the
coffin-lid, and her silent stare was the only answer David
received.
But at that very moment, like a dead man burst from the
tomb, entered from behind the party at the open door, silent
and white, with rigid features and fixed eyes, Hugh. He
stumbled in, leaning forward with long strides, and dragging
something behind him. He pushed and staggered through them
as if he saw nothing before him; and as they parted horror--
stricken, they saw that it was Margaret, or her dead body, that
he dragged after him. He dropped her at her mother's feet,
and fell himself on the floor, before they were able to give him
any support. David, who was quite calm, got the whisky--
bottle out, and tried to administer some to Margaret first; but
her teeth were firmly set, and to all appearance she was dead.
One of the young men succeeded better with Hugh, whom at
David's direction they took into the study; while he and Janet
got Margaret undressed and put to bed, with hot bottles all
about her; for in warmth lay the only hope of restoring her.
After she had lain thus for a while, she gave a sigh; and when
they had succeeded in getting her to swallow some warm milk,
she began to breathe, and soon seemed to be only fast asleep.
After half an hour's rest and warming, Hugh was able to move
and speak. David would not allow him to say much, however,
but got him to bed, sending word to the house that he could
not go home that night. He and Janet sat by the fireside all
night, listening to the storm that still raved without, and thanking
God for both of the lives. Every few minutes a tip-toe
excursion was made to the bedside, and now and then to the
other room. Both the patients slept quietly. Towards morning
Margaret opened her eyes, and faintly called her mother;
but soon fell asleep once more, and did not awake again till
nearly noon. When sufficiently restored to be able to speak,
the account she gave was, that she had set out to meet her
father; but the storm increasing, she had thought it more
prudent to turn. It grew in violence, however, so rapidly, and
beat so directly in her face, that she was soon exhausted with
struggling, and benumbed with the cold. The last thing she remembered
was, dropping, as she thought, into a hole, and feeling
as if she were going to sleep in bed, yet knowing it was death;
and thinking how much sweeter it was than sleep. Hugh's
account was very strange and defective, but he was never able
to add anything to it. He said that, when he rushed out into
the dark, the storm seized him like a fury, beating him about
the head and face with icy wings, till he was almost stunned.
He took the road to the farm, which lay through the fir-wood;
but he soon became aware that he had lost his way. and might
tramp about in the fir-wood till daylight, if he lived as long.
Then, thinking of Margaret, he lost his presence of mind, and
rushed wildly along. He thought he must have knocked his
head against the trunk of a tree, but he could not tell; for he
remembered nothing more but that he found himself dragging
Margaret, with his arms round her, through the snow, and
nearing the light in the cottage-window. Where or how he
had found her, or what the light was that he was approaching,
he had not the least idea. He had only a vague notion
that he was rescuing Margaret from something dreadful. Margaret,
for her part, had no recollection of reaching the fir-wood;
and as, long before morning, all traces were obliterated, the facts
remained a mystery. Janet thought that David had some wonderful
persuasion about it; but he was never heard even to
speculate on the subject. Certain it was, that Hugh had saved
Margaret's life. He seemed quite well next day, for he was of
a very powerful and enduring frame for his years. She recovered
more slowly, and perhaps never altogether overcame the
effects of Death's embrace that night. From the moment when
Margaret was brought home, the storm gradually died away,
and by the morning all was still; but many starry and moonlit
nights glimmered and passed, before that snow was melted away
from the earth; and many a night Janet awoke from her sleep
with a cry, thinking she heard her daughter moaning, deep in
the smooth ocean of snow, and could not find where she lay.
The occurrences of this dreadful night could not lessen the
interest his cottage friends felt in Hugh; and a long winter
passed with daily and lengthening communion both in study
and in general conversation. I fear some of my younger readers
will think my story slow; and say: "What are they not
going to fall in love with each other yet? We have been expecting
it ever so long." I have two answers to make to this.
The first is: "I do not pretend to know so much about love as
you — excuse me — think you do; and must confess, I do not
know whether they were in love with each other or not." The
second is: "That I dare not pretend to understand thoroughly
such a sacred mystery as the heart of Margaret; and I should
feel it rather worse than presumptuous to talk as if I did. Even
Hugh's is known to me only by gleams of light thrown, now and
then, and here and there, upon it." Perhaps the two answers are
only the same answer in different shapes.
Mrs. Glasford, however, would easily answer the question, if
an answer is all that is wanted; for she, notwithstanding the
facts of the story, which she could not fail to have heard
correctly from the best authority, and notwithstanding, the
nature of the night, which might have seemed sufficient to overthrow
her conclusions, uniformly remarked, as often as their
escape was alluded to in her hearing,
"Lat them tak' it. They had no business to be oot aboot
thegither."
CHAPTER XV.
TRANSITION.
Tell me, bright boy, tell me, my golden lad,
Whither away so frolic? Why so glad?
What all thy wealth in council? all thy state?
Are husks so dear? troth, 'tis a mighty rate.
RICHARD CRASHAW.
THE long Scotch winter passed by without any interruption
to the growing friendship. But the spring brought a change;
and Hugh was separated from his friends sooner than he had
anticipated, by more than six months. For his mother wrote
to him in great distress, in consequence of a claim made upon
her for some debt which his father had contracted, very probably
for Hugh's own sake. Hugh could not bear that any such
should remain undischarged, or that his father's name should
not rest in peace as well as his body and soul. He requested,
therefore, from the laird, the amount due to him, and despatched
almost the whole of it for the liquidation of this debt, so that he
was now as unprovided as before for the expenses of the coming
winter at Aberdeen. But, about the same time, a fellow--
student wrote to him with news of a situation for the summer,
worth three times as much as his present one, and to be
procured through his friend's interest. Hugh having engaged
himself to the laird only for the winter, although he had
intended to stay till the commencement of the following
session, felt that, although he would much rather remain where
he was, he must not hesitate a moment to accept his friend's
offer; and therefore wrote at once.
I will not attempt to describe the parting. It was very quiet,
but very solemn and sad. Janet showed far more distress than
Margaret, for she wept outright. The tears stood in David's
eyes, as he grasped the youth's hand in silence. Margaret was
very pale; that was all. As soon as Hugh disappeared with
her father, who was going to walk with him to the village
through which the coach passed, she hurried away, and went to
the fir-wood for comfort.
Hugh found his new situation in Perthshire very different
from the last. The heads of the family being themselves a lady
and a gentleman, he found himself a gentleman too. He had
more to do, but his work left him plenty of leisure notwithstanding.
A good portion of his spare time he devoted to verse--
making, to which he felt a growing impulse; and whatever may
have been the merit of his compositions, they did him intellectual
good at least, if it were only through the process of their
construction. He wrote to David after his arrival, telling him
all about his new situation; and received in return a letter from
Margaret, written at her father's dictation. The mechanical
part of letter-writing was rather laborious to David; but
Margaret wrote well, in consequence of the number of papers, of
one sort and another, which she had written for Hugh. Three
or four letters more passed between them at lengthening
intervals. Then they ceased — on Hugh's side first; until, when
on the point of leaving for Aberdeen, feeling somewhat conscience-stricken
at not having written for so long, he scribbled a
note to inform them of his approaching departure, promising to
let them know his address as soon as he found himself settled.
Will it be believed that the session went by without the
redemption of this pledge? Surely he could not have felt, to
any approximate degree, the amount of obligation he was under
to his humble friends. Perhaps, indeed, he may have thought
that the obligation was principally on their side; as it would
have been, if intellectual assistance could outweigh heart-kindness,
and spiritual impulse and enlightenment; for, unconsciously
in a great measure to himself, he had learned from
David to regard in a new and more real aspect, many of those
truths which he had hitherto received as true, and which yet
had till then produced in him no other than a feeling of the
common-place and uninteresting at the best.
Besides this, and many cognate advantages, a thousand seeds
of truth must have surely remained in his mind, dropped there
from the same tongue of wisdom, and only waiting the friendly
aid of a hard winter, breaking up the cold, selfish clods of clay,
to share in the loveliness of a new spring, and be perfected in
the beauty of a new summer.
However this may have been, it is certain that he forgot his
old friends far more than he himself could have thought it possible
he should; for, to make the best of it, youth is easily
attracted and filled with the present show, and easily forgets that
which, from distance in time or space, has no show to show.
Spending his evenings in the midst of merry faces, and ready
tongues fluent with the tones of jollity, if not always of wit,
which glided sometimes into no too earnest discussion of the
difficult subjects occupying their student hours; surrounded by
the vapours of whisky-toddy, and the smoke of cutty pipes, till
far into the short hours; then hurrying home, and lapsing into
unrefreshing slumbers over intended study; or sitting up all
night to prepare the tasks which had been neglected for a ball
or an evening with Wilson, the great interpreter of Scottish
song — it is hardly to be wondered at that he should lose the
finer consciousness of higher powers and deeper feelings, not
from any behaviour in itself wrong, but from the hurry, noise,
and tumult in the streets of life, that, penetrating too deep into
the house of life, dazed and stupefied the silent and lonely
watcher in the chamber of conscience, far apart. He had no
time to think or feel.
The session drew to a close. He eschewed all idleness; shut
himself up, after class hours, with his books; ate little, studied
hard, slept irregularly, working always best between midnight
and two in the morning; carried the first honours in most of
his classes; and at length breathed freely, but with a dizzy
brain, and a face that revealed, in pale cheeks, and red, weary
eyes, the results of an excess of mental labour — an excess which
is as injurious as any other kind of intemperance, the moral
degradation alone kept out of view. Proud of his success, he sat
down and wrote a short note, with a simple statement of it, to
David; hoping, in his secret mind, that he would attribute his
previous silence to an absorption in study which had not existed
before the end of the session was quite at hand. Now that he
had more time for reflection, he could not bear the idea that
that noble rustic face should look disapprovingly or, still worse,
coldly upon him; and he could not help feeling as if the old
ploughman had taken the place of his father, as the only man
of whom he must stand in awe, and who had a right to reprove
him. He did reprove him now, though unintentionally. For
David was delighted at having such good news from him; and
the uneasiness which he had felt, but never quite expressed, was
almost swept away in the conclusion, that it was unreasonable
to expect the young man to give his time to them both absent
and present, especially when he had been occupied to such good
purpose as this letter signified. So he was nearly at peace
about him — though not quite. Hugh received from him the
following letter in reply to his; dictated, as usual, to his secretary,
Margaret: —
"MY DEAR SIR,
"Ye'll be a great man some day, gin ye haud at it.
But things maunna be gotten at the outlay o' mair than they're
worth. Ye'll ken what I mean. An' there's better things nor
bein' a great man, efter a'. Forgie the liberty I tak' in
remin'in' ye o' sic like. I'm only remin'in' ye o' what ye ken
weel aneuch. But ye're a brave lad, an' ye hae been an unco
frien' to me an' mine; an' I pray the Lord to thank ye for me,
for ye hae dune muckle guid to his bairns — meanin' me an'
mine. It's verra kin' o' ye to vrite till's in the verra moment
o' victory; but weel ye kent that amid a' yer frien's — an' ye
canna fail to hae mony a ane, wi' a head an' a face like yours
— there was na ane — na, no ane, that wad rejoice mair ower
your success than Janet, or my doo, Maggie, or yer ain
obleeged frien' an' servant,
"DAVID ELGINBROD.
"P.S. — We're a' weel, an' unco blythe at your letter.
Maggy —
"P.S. 2. — Dear Mr. Sutherland, — I wrote all the above at my
father's dictation, and just as he said it, for I thought you would
like his Scotch better than my English. My mother and I
myself are rejoiced at the good news. My mother fairly grat
outright. I gaed out to the tree where I met you first. I
wonder sair sometimes if you was the angel I was to meet in
the fir-wood. I am,
"Your obedient servant,
"MARGARET ELGINBROD."
This letter certainly touched Hugh. But he could not help
feeling rather offended that David should write to him in such
a warning tone. He had never addressed him in this fashion
when he saw him every day. Indeed, David could not very
easily have spoken to him thus. But writing is a different thing;
and men who are not much accustomed to use a pen, often
assume a more solemn tone in doing so, as if it were a ceremony
that required state. As for David, having been a little uneasy
about Hugh, and not much afraid of offending him — for he did
not know his weaknesses very thoroughly, and did not take into
account the effect of the very falling away which he dreaded, in
increasing in him pride, and that impatience of the gentlest
reproof natural to every man — he felt considerably relieved
after he had discharged his duty in this memento vivere. But one
of the results, and a very unexpected one, was, that a yet longer
period elapsed before Hugh wrote again to David. He meant
to do so, and meant to do so; but, as often as the thought
occurred to him, was checked both by consciousness and by
pride. So much contributes, not the evil alone that is in us,
but the good also sometimes, to hold us back from doing the
thing we ought to do.
It now remained for Hugh to look about for some occupation.
The state of his funds rendered immediate employment absolutely
necessary; and as there was only one way in which he
could earn money without yet further preparation, he must
betake himself to that way, as he had done before, in the hope
that it would lead to something better. At all events, it would
give him time to look about him, and make up his mind for the
future. Many a one, to whom the occupation of a tutor is far
more irksome than it was to Hugh, is compelled to turn his
acquirements to this immediate account; and, once going in
this groove, can never get out of it again. But Hugh was
hopeful enough to think, that his reputation at the university
would stand him in some stead; and, however much he would
have disliked the thought of being a tutor all his days, occupying
a kind of neutral territory between the position of a gentleman
and that of a menial, he had enough of strong Saxon good sense
to prevent him, despite his Highland pride, from seeing any
great hardship in labouring still for a little while, as he had
laboured hitherto. But he hoped to find a situation more
desirable than either of those he had occupied before; and,
with this expectation, looked towards the South, as most
Scotchmen do, indulging the national impulse to spoil the
Egyptians. Nor did he look long, sending his tentacles afloat
in every direction, before he heard, through means of a college
friend, of just such a situation as he wanted, in the family of a
gentleman of fortune in the county of Surrey, not much more
than twenty miles from London. This he was fortunate enough
to obtain without difficulty.
Margaret was likewise on the eve of a change. She stood
like a young fledged bird on the edge of the nest, ready to take
its first long flight. It was necessary that she should do something
for herself, not so much from the compulsion of immediate
circumstances, as in prospect of the future. Her father was not
an old man, but at best he could leave only a trifle at his death;
and if Janet outlived him, she would probably require all that,
and what labour she would then be capable of as well, to support
herself. Margaret was anxious, too, though not to be
independent, yet, not to be burdensome. Both David and Janet
saw that, by her peculiar tastes and habits, she had separated
herself so far from the circle around her, that she could never
hope to be quite comfortable in that neighbourhood. It was not
that by any means she despised or refused the labours common
to the young women of the country; but, all things considered,
they thought that something more suitable for her might be
procured.
The laird's lady continued to behave to her in the most
supercilious fashion. The very day of Hugh's departure, she
had chanced to meet Margaret walking alone with a book,
this time unopened, in her hand. Mrs. Glasford stopped.
Margaret stopped too, expecting to be addressed. The lady
looked at her, all over, from head to foot, as if critically
examining the appearance of an animal she thought of purchasing;
then, without a word, but with a contemptuous
toss of the head, passed on, leaving poor Margaret both angry
and ashamed.
But David was much respected by the gentry of the neighbourhood,
with whom his position, as the laird's steward, brought
him not unfrequently into contact; and to several of them he
mentioned his desire of finding some situation for Margaret.
Janet could not bear the idea of her lady-bairn leaving them, to
encounter the world alone; but David, though he could not
help sometimes feeling a similar pang, was able to take to himself
hearty comfort from the thought, that if there was any safety
for her in her father's house, there could not be less in her
heavenly Father's, in any nook of which she was as full in His
eye, and as near His heart, as in their own cottage. He felt
that anxiety in this case, as in every other, would just be a lack
of confidence in God, to suppose which justifiable would be
equivalent to saying that He had not fixed the foundations of
the earth that it should not be moved; that He was not the
Lord of Life, nor the Father of His children; in short, that a
sparrow could fall to the ground without Him, and that the hairs
of our head are not numbered. Janet admitted all this, but sighed
nevertheless. So did David too, at times; for he knew that the
sparrow must fall; that many a divine truth is hard to learn,
all-blessed as it is when learned; and that sorrow and suffering
must come to Margaret, ere she could be fashioned into the
perfection of a child of the kingdom. Still, she was as safe
abroad as at home.
An elderly lady of fortune was on a visit to one of the families
in the neighbourhood. She was in want of a lady's-maid, and
it occurred to the housekeeper that Margaret might suit her.
This was not quite what her parents would have chosen, but
they allowed her to go and see the lady. Margaret was delighted
with the benevolent-looking gentlewoman; and she, on her
part, was quite charmed with Margaret. It was true she knew
nothing of the duties of the office; but the present maid, who
was leaving on the best of terms, would soon initiate her into
its mysteries. And David and Janet were so much pleased
with Margaret's account of the interview, that David himself
went to see the lady. The sight of him only increased her
desire to have Margaret, whom she said she would treat like a
daughter, if only she were half as good as she looked. Before
David left her, the matter was arranged; and within a month,
Margaret was borne in her mistress's carriage, away from father
and mother and cottage-home.
END OF THE FIRST BOOK.
BOOK II.
ARNSTEAD.
The earth hath bubbles as the water has.
MACBETH. — I. 3.
CHAPTER I.
A NEW HOME.
A wise man's home is whereso'er he's wise.
JOHN MARSTON. — Antonio's Revenge.
HUGH left the North dead in the arms of grey winter, and
found his new abode already alive in the breath of the west
wind. As he walked up the avenue to the house, he felt that
the buds were breaking all about, though, the night being dark
and cloudy, the green shadows of the coming spring were
invisible.
He was received at the hall-door, and shown to his room, by
an old, apparently confidential, and certainly important butler;
whose importance, however, was inoffensive, as founded, to all
appearance, on a sense of family and not of personal dignity.
Refreshment was then brought him, with the message that, as
it was late, Mr. Arnold would defer the pleasure of meeting
him till the morning at breakfast.
Left to himself, Hugh began to look around him. Everything
suggested a contrast between his present position and
that which he had first occupied about the same time of the
year at Turriepuffit. He was in an old handsome room of dark
wainscot, furnished like a library, with book-cases about the
walls. One of them, with glass doors, had an ancient escritoire
underneath, which was open, and evidently left empty for his
use. A fire was burning cheerfully in an old high grate; but
its light, though assisted by that of two wax candles on the
table, failed to show the outlines of the room, it was so large
and dark. The ceiling was rather low in proportion, and a huge
beam crossed it. At one end, an open door revealed a room
beyond, likewise lighted with fire and candles. Entering, he
found this to be an equally old-fashioned bedroom, to which his
luggage had been already conveyed.
"As far as creature-comforts go," thought Hugh, "I have
fallen on my feet." He rang the bell, had the tray removed,
and then proceeded to examine the book-cases. He found them
to contain much of the literature with which he was most desirous
of making an acquaintance. A few books of the day were
interspersed. The sense of having good companions in the authors
around him, added greatly to his feeling of comfort; and he retired
for the night filled with pleasant anticipations of his
sojourn at Arnstead. All the night, however, his dreams were
of wind and snow, and Margaret out in them alone. Janet was
waiting in the cottage for him to bring her home. He had
found her, but could not move her; for the spirit of the storm
had frozen her to ice, and she was heavy as a marble statue.
When he awoke, the shadows of boughs and budding twigs
were waving in changeful network-tracery, across the bright
sunshine on his window-curtains. Before he was called he was
ready to go down; and to amuse himself till breakfast-time, he
proceeded to make another survey of the books. He concluded
that these must be a colony from the mother-library; and also
that the room must, notwithstanding, be intended for his especial
occupation, seeing his bedroom opened out of it. Next,
he looked from all the windows, to discover into what kind of
a furrow on the face of the old earth he had fallen. All he
could see was trees and trees. But oh! how different from the
sombre, dark, changeless fir-wood at Turriepuffit! whose trees
looked small and shrunken in his memory, beside this glory of
boughs, breaking out into their prophecy of an infinite greenery
at hand. His rooms seemed to occupy the end of a small wing
at the back of the house, as well as he could judge. His sitting-room
windows looked across a small space to another wing;
and the windows of his bedroom, which were at right-angles to
those of the former, looked full into what seemed an ordered
ancient forest of gracious trees of all kinds, coming almost
close to the very windows. They were the trees which had
been throwing their shadows on these windows for two or three
hours of the silent spring sunlight, at once so liquid and so
dazzling. Then he resolved to test his faculty for discovery, by
seeing whether he could find his way to the breakfast-room
without a guide. In this he would have succeeded without
much difficulty, for it opened from the main-entrance hall, to
which the huge square-turned oak staircase, by which he had
ascended, led; had it not been for the somewhat intricate
nature of the passages leading from the wing in which his rooms
were (evidently an older and more retired portion of the house)
to the main staircase itself. After opening many doors and
finding no thoroughfare, he became convinced that, in place of
finding a way on, he had lost the way back. At length he
came to a small stair, which led him down to a single door.
This he opened, and straightway found himself in the library, a
long, low, silent-looking room, every foot of the walls of which
was occupied with books in varied and rich bindings. The
lozenge-paned windows, with thick stone mullions, were much
overgrown with ivy, throwing a cool green shadowiness into the
room. One of them, however, had been altered to a more
modern taste, and opened with folding-doors upon a few steps,
descending into an old-fashioned, terraced garden. To approach
this window he had to pass a table, lying on which he saw a
paper with verses on it, evidently in a woman's hand, and apparently
just written, for the ink of the corrective scores still
glittered. Just as he reached the window, which stood open, a lady
had almost gained it from the other side, coming up the steps
from the garden. She gave a slight start when she saw him,
looked away, and as instantly glanced towards him again. Then
approaching him through the window, for he had retreated to
allow her to enter, she bowed with a kind of studied ease, and
a slight shade of something French in her manner. Her voice
was very pleasing, almost bewitching; yet had, at the same
time, something assumed, if not affected, in the tone. All this
was discoverable, or rather spiritually palpable, in the two words
she said — merely, "Mr. Sutherland?" interrogatively. Hugh
bowed, and said:
"I am very glad you have found me, for I had quite lost
myself. I doubt whether I should ever have reached the
breakfast-room."
"Come this way," she rejoined.
As they passed the table on which the verses lay, she stopped
and slipped them into a writing-ease. Leading him through a
succession of handsome, evidently modern passages, she brought.
him across the main hall to the breakfast-room, which looked in
the opposite direction to the library, namely, to the front of the
house. She rang the bell; the urn was brought in; and she
proceeded at once to make the tea; which she did well, rising
in Hugh's estimation thereby. Before he had time, however, to
make his private remarks on her exterior, or his conjectures on
her position in the family, Mr. Arnold entered the room, with
a slow, somewhat dignified step, and a dull outlook of grey eyes
from a grey head well-balanced on a tall, rather slender frame.
The lady rose, and, addressing him as uncle, bade him good
morning; a greeting which he returned cordially, with a kiss
on her forehead. Then accosting Hugh, with a manner which
seemed the more polite and cold after the tone in which he had
spoken to his niece, he bade him welcome to Arnstead.
"I trust you were properly attended to last night, Mr.
Sutherland? Your pupil wanted very much to sit up till you
arrived, but he is altogether too delicate, I am sorry to say, for
late hours, though he has an unfortunate preference for them
himself. Jacob," (to the man in waiting), "is not Master Harry
up yet?"
Master Harry's entrance at that moment rendered reply
unnecessary.
"Good morning, Euphra," he said to the lady, and kissed
her on the cheek.
"Good morning, dear," was the reply, accompanied by a pretence
of returning the kiss. But she smiled with a kind of confectionary
sweetness on him; and, dropping an additional lump
of sugar into his tea at the same moment, placed it for him
beside herself; while he went and shook hands with his father,
and then glancing shyly up at Hugh from a pair of large dark
eyes, put his hand in his, and smiled, revealing teeth of a pearly
whiteness. The lips, however, did not contrast them sufficiently,
being pale and thin, with indication of suffering in their tremulous
lines. Taking his place at table, he trifled with his breakfast;
and after making pretence of eating for a while, asked
Euphra if he might go. She giving him leave, he hastened
away.
Mr. Arnold took advantage of his retreat to explain to Hugh
what he expected of him with regard to the boy.
"How old would you take Harry to be, Mr. Sutherland?"
"I should say about twelve from his size," replied Hugh;
"but from his evident bad health, and intelligent expression
—"
"Ah! you perceive the state he is in," interrupted Mr.
Arnold, with some sadness in his voice. "You are right; he is
nearly fifteen.' He has not grown half-an-inch in the last
twelve months."
"Perhaps that is better than growing too fast," said Hugh.
"Perhaps — perhaps; we will hope so. But I cannot help
being uneasy about him. He reads too much, and I have not
yet been able to help it; for he seems miserable, and without
any object in life, if I compel him to leave his books."
"Perhaps we can manage to get over that in a little while."
"Besides," Mr. Arnold went on, paying no attention to what
Hugh said, "I can get him to take no exercise. He does
not even care for riding. I bought him a second pony a month
ago, and he has not been twice on its back yet."
Hugh could not help thinking that to increase the supply
was not always the best mode of increasing the demand; and
that one who would not ride the first pony, would hardly be
likely to ride the second. Mr. Arnold concluded with the
words:
"I don't want to stop the boy's reading, but I can't have
him a milksop."
"Will you let me manage him as I please, Mr. Arnold?"
Hugh ventured to say.
Mr. Arnold looked full at him, with a very slight but quite
manifest expression of surprise; and Hugh was aware that the
eyes of the lady, called by the boy Euphra, were likewise fixed
upon him penetratingly. As if he were then for the first time
struck by the manly development of Hugh's frame, Mr. Arnold
answered:
"I don't want you to overdo it, either. You cannot make a
muscular Christian of him." (The speaker smiled at his own
imagined wit.) "The boy has talents, and I want him to use
them."
"I will do my best for him both ways," answered Hugh, "if
you will trust me. For my part, I think the only way is
to make the operation of the intellectual tendency on the one
side, reveal to the boy himself his deficiency on the other. This
once done, all will be well."
As he said this, Hugh caught sight of a cloudy, inscrutable
dissatisfaction slightly contracting the eyebrows of the lady.
Mr. Arnold, however, seemed not to be altogether displeased.
"Well," he answered, "I have my plans; but let us see first
what you can do with yours. If they fail, perhaps you will
oblige me by trying mine."
This was said with the decisive politeness of one who is
accustomed to have his own way, and fully intends to have it —
every word as articulate and deliberate as organs of speech
could make it. But he seemed at the same time somewhat
impressed by Hugh, and not unwilling to yield.
Throughout the conversation, the lady had said nothing, but
had sat watching, or rather scrutinizing, Hugh's countenance, with
a far keener and more frequent glance than, I presume, he was at
all aware of. Whether or not she was satisfied with her conclusions,
she allowed no sign to disclose; but, breakfast being over,
rose and withdrew, turning, however, at the door, and saying:
"When you please, Mr. Sutherland, I shall be glad to show
you what Harry has been doing with me; for till now I have
been his only tutor."
"Thank you," replied Hugh; "but for some time we shall
be quite independent of school-books. Perhaps we may require
none at all. He can read, I presume, fairly well?"
"Reading is not only his forte but his fault," replied Mr.
Arnold; while Euphra, fixing one more piercing look upon him,
withdrew.
"Yes," responded Hugh; "but a boy may shuffle through
a book very quickly, and have no such accurate perceptions
of even the mere words, as to be able to read aloud
intelligibly."
How little this applied to Harry, Hugh was soon to learn.
"Well, you know best about these things, I daresay. I leave
it to you. With such testimonials as you have, Mr. Sutherland,
I can hardly be wrong in letting you try your own plans
with him. Now, I must bid you good morning. You will, in
all probability, find Harry in the library."
CHAPTER II.
HARRY'S NEW HORSE.
Spielender Unterricht heisst nicht, dem Kinde Anstrengungen ersparen
und abnehmen, sondern eine Leidenschaft in ihm erwecken, welche ihm
die stärksten aufnöthigt und erleichtert.
JEAN PAUL. —Die Unsichtbare Loge.
It is not the intention of sportive instruction that the child should be
spared effort, or delivered from it; but that thereby a passion should be
wakened in him, which shall both necessitate and facilitate the strongest
exertion.
HUGH made no haste to find his pupil in the library;
thinking it better, with such a boy, not to pounce upon him as
if he were going to educate him directly. He went to his own
rooms instead; got his books out and arranged them, — supplying
thus, in a very small degree, the scarcity of modern ones
in the book-cases; then arranged his small wardrobe, looked
about him a little, and finally went to seek his pupil.
He found him in the library, as he had been given to expect,
coiled up on the floor in a corner, with his back against the
book-shelves, and an old folio on his knees, which he was reading
in silence.
"Well, Harry," said Hugh, in a half-indifferent tone, as he
threw himself on a couch, "what are you reading?"
Harry had not heard him come in. He started, and almost
shuddered; then looked up, hesitated, rose, and, as if ashamed
to utter the name of the book, brought it to Hugh, opening it at
the title-page as he held it out to him. It was the old romance of
Polexander. Hugh knew nothing about it; but, glancing over
some of the pages, could not help wondering that the boy
shoud find it interesting.
"Do you like this very much?" said he.
"Well — no. Yes, rather."
"I think I could find you something more interesting in the
book-shelves."
"Oh! please, sir, mayn't I read this?" pleaded Harry, with
signs of distress in his pale face.
"Oh, yes, certainly, if you wish. But tell me why you want
to read it so very much."
"Because I have set myself to read it through."
Hugh saw that the child was in a diseased state of mind, as
well as of body.
"You should not set yourself to read anything, before you
know whether it is worth reading."
"I could not help it. I was forced to say I would."
"To whom?"
"To myself. Mayn't I read it?"
"Certainly," was all Hugh's answer; for he saw that he must
not pursue the subject at present: the boy was quite hypochondriacal.
His face was keen, with that clear definition of
feature which suggests superior intellect. He was, though very
small for his age, well proportioned, except that his head and
face were too large. His forehead indicated thought; and
Hugh could not doubt that, however uninteresting the books
which he read might be, they must have afforded him subjects
of mental activity. But he could not help seeing as well, that
this activity, if not altered in its direction and modified in its
degree, would soon destroy itself, either by ruining his feeble
constitution altogether, or, which was more to be feared, by
irremediably injuring the action of the brain. He resolved, however,
to let him satisfy his conscience by reading the book; hoping,
by the introduction of other objects of thought and feeling, to
render it so distasteful, that he would be in little danger of
yielding a similar pledge again, even should the temptation
return, which Hugh hoped to prevent.
"But you have read enough for the present, have you not?
said he, rising, and approaching the book-shelves.
"Yes; I have been reading since breakfast."
"Ah! there's a capital book. Have you ever read it — Gulliver's
Travels?"
"No. The outside looked always so uninteresting."
"So does Polexander's outside."
"Yes. But I couldn't help that one."
"Well, come along. I will read to you."
"Oh! thank you. That will be delightful. But must we
not go to our lessons?"
"I'm going to make a lesson of this. I have been talking to
your papa; and we're going to begin with a holiday, instead of
ending with one. I must get better acquainted with you first,
Harry, before I can teach you right. We must be friends, you
know."
The boy crept close up to him, laid one thin hand on his
knee, looked in his face for a moment, and then, without a
word, sat down on the couch close beside him. Before an hour
had passed, Harry was laughing heartily at Gulliver's adventures
amongst the Lilliputians. Having arrived at this point
of success, Hugh ceased reading, and began to talk to him.
"Is that lady your cousin?"
"Yes. Isn't she beautiful?"
"I hardly know yet. I have not got used to her enough yet.
What is her name?"
"Oh! such a pretty name — Euphrasia."
"Is she the only lady in the house?"
"Yes; my mamma is dead, you know. She was ill for a
long time, they say; and she died when I was born."
The tears came in the poor boy's eyes. Hugh thought of his
own father, and put his hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry laid
his head on Hugh's shoulder.
"But," he went on, "Euphra is so kind to me! And she is
so clever too! She knows everything."
"Have you no brothers or sisters?"
"No, none. I wish I had."
"Well, I'll be your big brother. Only you must mind
what I say to you; else I shall stop being him. Is it a
bargain?"
"Yes, to be sure!" cried Harry in delight; and, springing
from the couch, he began hopping feebly about the room on one
foot, to express his pleasure.
"Well, then, that's settled. Now, you must come and show
me the horses — your ponies, you know — and the pigs —"
"I don't like the pigs — I don't know where they are."
"Well, we must find out. Perhaps I shall make some discoveries
for you. Have you any rabbits?"
"No."
"A dog though, surely?"
"No. I had a canary, but the cat killed it, and I have never
had a pet since."
"Well, get your cap, and come out with me. I will wait for
you here."
Harry walked away — he seldom ran. He soon returned with
his cap, and they sallied out together.
Happening to look back at the house, when a few paces from
it, Hugh thought he saw Euphra standing at the window of a
back staircase. They made the round of the stables, and the
cow-house, and the poultry-yard; and even the pigs, as proposed,
came in for a share of their attention. As they approached
the stye, Harry turned away his head with a look of
disgust. They were eating out of the trough.
"They make such a nasty noise!" he said.
"Yes, but just look: don't they enjoy it?" said Hugh.
Harry looked at them. The notion of their enjoyment seemed
to dawn upon him as something quite new. He went nearer
and nearer to the stye. At last a smile broke out over his
countenance.
"How tight that one curls his tail!" said he, and burst out
laughing.
"How dreadfully this boy must have been mismanaged!"
thought Hugh to himself. "But there is no fear of him now,
I hope."
By this time they had been wandering about for more than
an hour; and Hugh saw, by Harry's increased paleness, that he
was getting tired.
"Here, Harry, get on my back, my boy, and have a ride.
You're tired."
And Hugh knelt down.
Harry shrunk back.
"I shall spoil your coat with my shoes."
"Nonsense! Rub them well on the grass there. And then
get on my back directly."
Harry did as he was bid, and found his tutor's broad back
and strong arms a very comfortable saddle. So away they went,
wandering about for a long time, in their new relation of horse
and his rider. At length they got into the middle of a long
narrow avenue, quite neglected, overgrown with weeds, and
obstructed with rubbish. But the trees were fine beeches, of
great growth and considerable age. One end led far into a
wood, and the other towards the house, a small portion of
which could be seen at the end, the avenue appearing to reach
close up to it.
"Don't go down this," said Harry.
"Well, it's not a very good road for a horse certainly, but I
think I can go it. What a beautiful avenue! Why is it so
neglected?"
"Don't go down there, please, dear horse."
Harry was getting wonderfully at home with Hugh already.
"Why?" asked Hugh.
"They call it the Ghost's Walk, and I don't much like it. It
has a strange distracted look."
"That's a long word, and a descriptive one too," thought
Hugh; but, considering that there would come many a better
opportunity of combating the boy's fears than now, he simply
said: "Very well, Harry," — and proceeded to leave the avenue
by the other side. But Harry was not yet satisfied.
"Please, Mr. Sutherland, don't go on that side, just now.
Ride me back, please. It is not safe, they say, to cross her
path. She always follows any one who crosses her path."
Hugh laughed; but again said, "Very well, my boy;"
and, returning, left the avenue by the side by which he had
entered it.
"Shall we go home to luncheon now?" said Harry.
"Yes," replied Hugh. "Could we not go by the front of the
house? I should like very much to see it."
"Oh, certainly," said Harry, and proceeded to direct Hugh
how to go; but evidently did not know quite to his own satisfaction.
There being, however, but little foliage yet, Hugh
could discover his way pretty well. He promised himself many
a delightful wander in the woody regions in the evenings.
They managed to get round to the front of the house, not
without some difficulty; and then Hugh saw to his surprise
that, although not imposing in appearance, it was in extent
more like a baronial residence than that of a simple gentleman.
The front was very long, apparently of all ages, and of all possible
styles of architecture, the result being somewhat mysterious
and eminently picturesque. All kinds of windows; all kinds of
projections and recesses; a house here, joined to a hall there;
here a pointed gable, the very bell on the top overgrown and
apparently choked with ivy; there a wide front with large bay
windows; and next a turret of old stone, with not a shred of
ivy upon it, but crowded over with grey-green lichens, which
looked as if the stone itself had taken to growing; multitudes
of roofs, of all shapes and materials, so that one might very
easily be lost amongst the chimneys and gutters and dormer
windows and pinnacles — made up the appearance of the house
on the outside to Hugh's first inquiring glance, as he paused at
a little distance with Harry on his back, and scanned the wonderful
pile before him. But as he looked at the house of Arnstead,
Euphra was looking at him with the boy on his back,
from one of the smaller windows. Was she making up her
mind?
"You are as kind to me as Euphra," said Harry, as Hugh set
him down in the hall. "I've enjoyed my ride very much, thank
you, Mr. Sutherland. I am sure Euphra will like you very
much — she likes everybody."
CHAPTER III
EUPHRASIA.
then purged with Euphrasy and Rue
The visual nerve, for he had much to see.
Paradise Lost, b. xi.
Soft music came to mine ear. It was like the rising breeze, that whirls,
at first, the thistle's beard; then flies, dark-shadowy, over the grass. It
was the maid of Fuärfed wild: she raised the nightly song; for she knew
that my soul was a stream, that flowed at pleasant sounds.
OSSIAN. — Oina-Morul.
HARRY led Hugh by the hand to the dining-room, a large oak
hall with Gothic windows, and an open roof supported by richly
carved woodwork, in the squares amidst winch were painted
many escutcheons parted by fanciful devices. Over the high
stone carving above the chimney hung an old piece of tapestry,
occupying the whole space between that and the roof. It represented
a hunting-party of ladies and gentlemen, just setting
out. The table looked very small in the centre of the room,
though it would have seated twelve or fourteen. It was already
covered for luncheon; and in a minute Euphra entered and took
her place without a word. Hugh sat on one side and Harry on
the other. Euphra, having helped both to soup, turned to
Harry and said, "Well, Harry, I hope you have enjoyed your
first lesson."
"Very much," answered Harry with a smile. "I have learned
pigs and horseback."
"The boy is positively clever," thought Hugh.
"Mr. Sutherland" — he continued, "has begun to teach me to
like creatures."
"But I thought you were very fond of your wild-beast book,
Harry."
"Oh! yes; but that was only in the book, you know. I like
the stories about them, of course. But to like pigs, you know,
is quite different. They are so ugly and ill-bred. I like them
though."
"You seem to have quite gained Harry already," said Euphra,
glancing at Hugh, and looking away as quickly.
"We are very good friends, and shall be, I think,"
replied he.
Harry looked at him affectionately, and said to him, not to
Euphra, "Oh! yes, that we shall, I am sure." Then turning to
the lady — "Do you know, Euphra, he is my big brother?"
"You must mind how you make new relations, though
Harry; for you know that would make him my cousin."
"Well, you will be a kind cousin to him, won't you?"
"I will try," replied Euphra, looking up at Hugh with a
naïve expression of shyness, and the slightest possible blush.
Hugh began to think her pretty, almost handsome. His next
thought was to wonder how old she was. But about this he
could not at once make up his mind. She might be four-andtwenty;
she might be two-and-thirty. She had black, lustreless
hair, and eyes to match, as far as colour was concerned — but
they could sparkle, and probably flash upon occasion; a low forehead,
but very finely developed in the faculties that dwell above
the eyes; slender but very dark eyebrows — just black arched
lines in her rather sallow complexion; nose straight, and nothing
remarkable — "an excellent thing in woman;" a mouth indifferent
when at rest, but capable of a beautiful laugh. She was
rather tall, and of a pretty enough figure; hands good; feet
invisible. Hugh came to these conclusions rapidly enough,
now that his attention was directed to her; for, though naturally
unobservant, his perception was very acute as soon as
his attention was roused.
"Thank you," he replied to her pretty speech. "I shall do
my best to deserve it."
"I hope you will, Mr. Sutherland," rejoined she, with another
arch look. "Take some wine, Harry."
She poured out a glass of sherry, and gave it to the boy, who
drank it with some eagerness. Hugh could not approve of this,
but thought it too early to interfere. Turning to Harry, he
said:
"Now, Harry, you have had rather a tiring morning. I
should like you to go and lie down a while."
"Very well, Mr. Sutherland," replied Harry, who seemed
rather deficient in combativeness, as well as other boyish virtues.
"Shall I lie down in the library?"
"No — have a change."
"In my bed-room?"
"No, I think not. Go to my room, and lie on the couch till
I come to you."
Harry went; and Hugh, partly for the sake of saying something,
and partly to justify his treatment of Harry, told Euphra,
whose surname he did not yet know, what they had been about
all the morning, ending with some remark on the view of the
house in front. She heard the account of their proceedings
with apparent indifference, replying only to the remark with
which he closed it:
"It is rather a large house, is it not, for three — I beg your
pardon, for four persons to live in, Mr. Sutherland?"
"It is, indeed; it quite bewilders me."
"To tell the truth, I don't quite know above the half of it
myself."
Hugh thought this rather a strange assertion, large as the
house was; but she went on:
"I lost myself between the housekeeper's room and my own,
no later than last week."
I suppose there was a particle of truth in this; and that she
had taken a wrong turning in an abstracted fit. Perhaps she
did not mean it to be taken as absolutely true.
"You have not lived here long, then?"
"Not long for such a great place. A few years. I am only
a poor relation."
She accompanied this statement with another swift uplifting
of the eyelids. But this time her eyes rested for a moment on
Hugh's, with something of a pleading expression; and when
they fell, a slight sigh followed. Hugh felt that he could not
quite understand her. A vague suspicion crossed his mind that
she was bewitching him, but vanished instantly. He replied to
her communication by a smile, and the remark:
"You have the more freedom, then. — Did you know Harry's
mother?" he added, after a pause.
"No. She died when Harry was born. She was very beautiful,
and, they say, very clever, but always in extremely delicate
health. Between ourselves, I doubt if there was much
sympathy — that is, if my uncle and she quite understood each
other. But that is an old story."
A pause followed. Euphra resumed:
"As to the freedom you speak of, Mr. Sutherland, I do not
quite know what to do with it. I live here as if the place were
my own, and give what orders I please. But Mr. Arnold shows
me little attention — he is so occupied with one thing and
another, I hardly know what; and if he did, perhaps I
should get tired of him. So, except when we have visitors,
which is not very often, the time hangs rather heavy on my
hands."
"But you are fond of reading — and writing, too, I suspect;"
Hugh ventured to say.
She gave him another of her glances, in which the apparent
shyness was mingled with something for which Hugh could not
find a name. Nor did he suspect, till long after, that it was in
reality slyness, so tempered with archness, that, if discovered, it
might easily pass for an expression playfully assumed.
"Oh! yes," she said; "one must read a book now and then;
and if a verse" — again a glance and a slight blush — "should
come up from nobody knows where, one may as well write it
down. But, please, do not take me for a literary lady. Indeed,
I make not the slightest pretensions. I don't know what I
should do without Harry; and indeed, indeed, you must not steal
him from me, Mr. Sutherland."
"I should be very sorry," replied Hugh. "Let me beg you,
as far as I have a right to do so, to join us as often and as long
as you please. I will go and see how he is. I am sure the
boy only wants thorough rousing, alternated with perfect
repose."
He went to is own room, where he found Harry, to his satisfaction,
fast asleep on the sofa. He took care not to wake him,
but sat down beside him to read till his sleep should be over.
But, a moment after, the boy opened his eyes with a start and
a shiver, and gave a slight cry. When he saw Hugh, he jumped
up, and with a smile which was pitiful to see upon a scared face,
said:
"Oh! I am so glad you are there."
"What is the matter, dear Harry?"
"I had a dreadful dream."
"What was it?"
"I don't know. It always comes. It is always the same. I
know that. And yet I can never remember what it is."
Hugh soothed him as well as he could; and he needed it, for
the cold drops were standing on his forehead. When he had
grown calmer, he went and fetched Gulliver, and, to the boy's
great delight, read to him till dinner-time. Before the first bell
rang, he had quite recovered, and indeed seemed rather interested
in the approach of dinner.
Dinner was an affair of some state at Arnstead. Almost immediately
after the second bell had rung, Mr. Arnold made his
appearance in the drawing-room, where the others were already
waiting for him. This room had nothing of the distinctive
character of the parts of the house which Hugh had already
seen. It was merely a handsome modern room, of no great
size. Mr. Arnold led Euphra to dinner, and Hugh followed with
Harry.
Mr. Arnold's manner to Hugh was the same as in the morning
— studiously polite, without the smallest approach to cordiality.
He addressed him as an equal, it is true; but an equal
who could never be in the smallest danger of thinking he meant
it. Hugh, who, without having seen a great deal of the world,
yet felt much the same wherever he was, took care to give him
all that he seemed to look for, as far at least as was consistent
with his own self-respect. He soon discovered that he was one
of those men, who, if you will only grant their position, and
acknowledge their authority, will allow you to have much your
own way in everything. His servants had found this out long
ago, and almost everything about the house was managed as
they pleased; but as the oldest of them were respectable family
servants, nothing went very far wrong. They all, however, waited
on Euphra with an assiduity that showed she was, or could be,
quite mistress when and where she pleased. Perhaps they had
found out that she had great influence with Mr. Arnold; and
certainly he seemed very fond of her indeed, after a stately
fashion. She spoke to the servants with peculiar gentleness;
never said, if you please; but always, thank you. Harry never
asked for anything, but always looked to Euphra, who gave the
necessary order. Hugh saw that the boy was quite dependent
upon her, seeming of himself scarcely capable of originating the
simplest action. Mr. Arnold, however, dull as he was, could
not help seeing that Harry's manner was livelier than usual, and
seemed pleased at the slight change already visible for the better.
Turning to Hugh, he said:
"Do you find Harry very much behind with his studies, Mr.
Sutherland?"
"I have not yet attempted to find out," replied Hugh.
"Not?" said Mr. Arnold, with surprise.
"No. If he be behind, I feel confident it will not be for
long."
"But," began Mr. Arnold, pompously; and then he paused.
"You were kind enough to say, Mr. Arnold, that I might
try my own plans with him first. I have been doing so."
"Yes — certainly. But —"
Here Harry broke in with some animation:
"Mr. Sutherland has been my horse, carrying me about on
his back all the morning — no, not all the morning — but an
hour, or an hour and a half — or was it two hours, Mr. Sutherland?"

"I really don't know, Harry," answered Hugh; "I don't
think it matters much."
Harry seemed relieved, and went on:
"He has been reading Gulliver's Travels to me — oh, such fun
And we have been to see the cows and the pigs; and Mr. Sutherland
has been teaching me to jump. Do you know, papa, he
jumped right over the pony's back without touching it."
Mr. Arnold stared at the boy with lustreless eyes and hanging
cheeks. These grew red, as if he were going to choke. Such
behaviour was quite inconsistent with the dignity of Arnstead
and its tutor, who had been recommended to him as a thorough
gentleman. But for the present he said nothing; probably
because he could think of nothing to say.
"Certainly Harry seems better already," interposed Euphra.
"I cannot help thinking Mr. Sutherland has made a good beginning."

Mr. Arnold did not reply, but the cloud wore away from his
face by degrees; and at length he asked Hugh to take a glass
of wine with him.
When Euphra rose from the table, and Harry followed her
example, Hugh thought it better to rise as well. Mr. Arnold
seemed to hesitate whether or not to ask him to resume his
seat and have a glass of claret. Had he been a little wizened
pedagogue, no doubt he would have insisted on his company,
sure of acquiescence from him in every sentiment he might
happen to utter. But Hugh really looked so very much like a
gentleman, and stated his own views, or adopted his own plans,
with so much independence, that Mr. Arnold judged it safer to
keep him at arm's length for a season at least, till he should
thoroughly understand his position — not that of a guest, but
that of his son's tutor, belonging to the household of Arnstead
only on approval.
On leaving the dining-room, Hugh hesitated, in his turn,
whether to betake himself to his own room, or to accompany
Euphra to the drawing-room, the door of which stood open on
the opposite side of the hall, revealing a brightness and warmth,
which the chill of the evening, and the lowness of the fire in the
dining-room, rendered quite enticing. But Euphra, who was
half-across the hall, seeming to divine his thoughts, turned, and
said, "Are you not going to favour us with your company, Mr.
Sutherland?"
"With pleasure," replied Hugh; but, to cover his hesitation,
added, "I will be with you presently;" and ran up stairs to
his own room. "The old gentleman sits on his dignity — can
hardly be said to stand on it," thought he, as he went. "The
poor relation, as she calls herself, treats me like a guest. She
is mistress here, however; that is clear enough."
As he descended the stairs to the drawing-room, a voice rose
through the house, like the voice of an angel. At least so
thought Hugh, hearing it for the first time. It seemed to take
his breath away, as he stood for a moment on the stairs, listening.
It was Only Euphra singing The Flowers of the Forest.
The drawing-room door was still open, and her voice rang
through the wide lofty hall. He entered almost on tip-toe, that
he might lose no thread of the fine tones. — Had she chosen the
song of Scotland out of compliment to him? — She saw him
enter, but went on without hesitating even. In the high notes,
her voice had that peculiar vibratory richness which belongs to
the nightingale's; but he could not help thinking that the low
tones were deficient both in quality and volume. The expression
and execution, however, would have made up for a thousand
defects. Her very soul seemed brooding over the dead upon
Flodden field, as she sang this most wailful of melodies — this
embodiment of a nation's grief. The song died away as if the
last breath had gone with it; failing as it failed, and ceasing
with its inspiration, as if the voice that sang lived only for and
in the song. A moment of intense silence followed. Then,
before Hugh had half recovered from the former, with an almost
grand dramatic recoil, as if the second sprang out of the first,
like an eagle of might out of an ocean of weeping, she burst into
Scots wha hae. She might have been a new Deborah, heralding
her nation to battle. Hugh was transfixed, turned icy cold,
with the excitement of his favourite song so sung. — Was that a
glance of satisfied triumph with which Euphra looked at him for
a single moment? — She sang the rest of the song as if the battle
were already gained; but looked no more at Hugh.
The excellence of her tones, and the lambent fluidity of her
transitions, if I may be allowed the phrase; were made by her art
quite subservient to the expression, and owed their chief value
to the share they bore in producing it. Possibly there was a
little too much of the dramatic in her singing, but it was all in
good taste; and, in a word, Hugh had never heard such singing
before. As soon as she had finished, she rose, and shut the piano.
"Do not, do not," faltered Hugh, seeking to arrest her hand,
as she closed the instrument.
"I can sing nothing after that," she said with emotion, or
perhaps excitement; for the trembling of her voice might be
attributed to either cause. "Do not ask me."
Hugh respectfully desisted; but after a few minutes' pause
ventured to remark:
"I cannot understand how you should be able to sing Scotch
songs so well. I never heard any but Scotch women sing
them, even endurably, before: your singing of them is perfect."

"It seems to me," said Euphra, speaking as if she would
rather have remained silent, "that a true musical penetration is
independent of styles and nationalities. It can perceive, or
rather feel, and reproduce, at the same moment. If the music
speaks Scotch, the musical nature hears Scotch. It can
take any shape, indeed cannot help taking any shape, presented
to it."
Hugh was yet further astonished by this criticism from one
whom he had been criticising with so much carelessness that
very day.
"You think, then," said he, modestly, not as if he would
bring her to book, but as really seeking to learn from her, "that
a true musical nature can pour itself into the mould of any song,
in entire independence of association and education?"
"Yes; in independence of any but what it may provide for
itself."
Euphrasia, however, had left one important element unrepresented
in the construction of her theory — namely, the
degree of capability which a mind may possess of sympathy
with any given class of feelings. The blossom of the mind,
whether it flower in poetry, music, or any other art, must be
the exponent of the nature and condition of that whose blossom
it is. No mind, therefore, incapable of sympathising with the
feelings whence it springs, can interpret the music of another.
And Euphra herself was rather a remarkable instance of this
forgotten fact.
Further conversation on the subject was interrupted by the
entrance of Mr. Arnold, who looked rather annoyed at finding
Hugh in the drawing-room, and ordered Harry off to bed, with
some little asperity of tone. The boy rose at once, rang the
bell, bade them all good night, and went. A servant met him
at the door with a candle, and accompanied him.
Thought Hugh: "Here are several things to be righted at
once. The boy must not have wine; and he must have only
one dinner a-day — especially if he is ordered to bed so early. I
must make a man of him if I can."
He made inquiries, and, with some difficulty, found out where
the boy slept. During the night he was several times in
Harry's room, and once in happy time to wake him from a
nightmare dream. The boy was so overcome with terror, that
Hugh got into bed beside him and comforted him to sleep in
his arms. Nor did he leave him till it was time to get up,
when he stole back to his own quarters, which, happily, were at
no very great distance.
I may mention here, that it was not long before Hugh succeeded
in stopping the wine, and reducing the dinner to a
mouthful of supper. Harry, as far as he was concerned,
yielded at once; and his father only held out long enough to
satisfy his own sense of dignity.
CHAPTER IV.
THE CAVE IN THE STRAW.
All knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an impression
of pleasure in itself.
LORD BACON. — Advancement of Learning.
THE following morning dawned in a cloud; which, swathed
about the trees, wetted them down to the roots, without having
time to become rain. They drank it in like sorrow, the only
material out of which true joy can be fashioned. This cloud of
mist would yet glimmer in a new heaven, namely, in the cloud
of blooms which would clothe the limes and the chestnuts and
the beeches along the ghost's walk. But there was gloomy
weather within doors as well; for poor Harry was especially
sensitive to variations of the barometer, without being in the
least aware of the fact himself. Again Hugh found him in the
library, seated in his usual corner, with Polexander on his knees.
He half dropped the book when Hugh entered, and murmured
with a sigh:
"It's no use; I can't read it."
"What's the matter, Harry?" said his tutor.
"I should like to tell you, but you will laugh at me."
"I shall never laugh at you, Harry."
"Never?"
"No, never."
"Then tell me how I can be sure that I have read this
book."
"I do not quite understand you."
"Ah! I was sure nobody could be so stupid as I am. Do
you know, Mr. Sutherland, I seem to have read a page from top
to bottom sometimes, and when I come to the bottom I know
nothing about it, and doubt whether I have read it at all; and
then I stare at it all over again, till I grow so queer, and sometimes
nearly scream. You see I must be able to say I have
read the book."
"Why? Nobody will ever ask you."
"Perhaps not; but you know that is nothing. I want to
know that I have read the book — really and truly read it."
Hugh thought for a moment, and seemed to see that the boy,
not being strong enough to be a law to himself, just needed a
benign law from without, to lift him from the chaos of feeble
and conflicting notions and impulses within, which generated a
false law of slavery. So he said:
"Harry, am I your big brother?"
"Yes, Mr. Sutherland."
"Then, ought you to do what I wish, or what you wish
yourself?"
"What you wish, sir."
"Then I want you to put away that book for a month at
least."
"Oh, Mr. Sutherland! I promised."
"To whom?"
"To myself."
"But I am above you; and I want you to do as I tell you.
Will you, Harry?"
"Yes."
"Put away the book, then."
Harry sprang to his feet, put the book on its shelf, and, going
up to Hugh, said,
"You have done it, not me."
"Certainly, Harry."
The notions of a hypochondriacal child will hardly be interesting
to the greater part of my readers; but Hugh learned
from this a little lesson about divine law which he never forgot.
"Now, Harry," added he, "you must not open a book till I
allow you."
"No poetry, either?" said poor Harry; and his face fell.
"I don't mind poetry so much; but of prose I will read as
much to you as will be good for you. Come, let us have a bit
of Gulliver again."
"Oh, how delightful!" cried Harry. "I am so glad you
made me put away that tiresome book. I wonder why it insisted
so on being read."
Hugh read for an hour, and then made Harry put on his
cloak, notwithstanding the rain, which fell in a slow thoughtful
spring shower. Taking the boy again on his back, he carried
him into the woods. There he told him how the drops of wet
sank into the ground, and then went running about through it
in every direction, looking for seeds: which were all thirsty little
things, that wanted to grow, and could not, till a drop came and
gave them drink. And he told him how the rain-drops were
made up in the skies, and then came down, like millions of
angels, to do what they were told in the dark earth. The good
drops went into all the cellars and dungeons of the earth, to let
out the imprisoned flowers. And he told him how the seeds,
when they had drunk the rain-drops, wanted another kind of
drink next, which was much thinner and much stronger, but
could not do them any good till they had drunk the rain first.
"What is that?" said Harry. "I feel as if you were reading
out of the Bible, Mr. Sutherland."
"It is the sunlight," answered his tutor. "When a seed has
drunk of the water, and is not thirsty any more, it wants to
breathe next; and then the sun sends a long, small finger of
fire down into the grave where the seed is lying; and it touches
the seed, and something inside the seed begins to move instantly
and to grow bigger and bigger, till it sends two green blades out
of it into the earth, and through the earth into the air; and
then it can breathe. And then it sends roots down into the
earth; and the roots keep drinking water, and the leaves keep
breathing the air, and the sun keeps them alive and busy; and
so a great tree grows up, and God looks at it, and says it is
good."
"Then they really are living things?" said Harry.
"Certainly."
"Thank you, Mr. Sutherland. I don't think I shall dislike
rain so much any more."
Hugh took him next into the barn, where they found a great
heap of straw. Recalling his own boyish amusements, he made
him put off his cloak, and help to make a tunnel into this heap.
Harry was delighted — the straw was so nice, and bright, and
dry, and clean. They drew it out by handfuls, and thus excavated
a round tunnel to the distance of six feet or so; when
Hugh proceeded to more extended operations. Before it was
time to go to lunch, they had cleared half of a hollow sphere,
six feet in diameter, out of the heart of the heap.
After lunch, for which Harry had been very unwilling to
relinquish the straw hut, Hugh sent him to lie down for a while;
when he fell fast asleep as before. After he had left the room,
Euphra said:
"How do you get on with Harry, Mr. Sutherland?"
"Perfectly to my satisfaction," answered Hugh.
"Do you not find him very slow?"
"Quite the contrary."
"You surprise me. But you have not given him any lessons
yet."
"I have given him a great many, and he is learning them
very fast."
"I fear he will have forgotten all my poor labours before you
take up the work where we left it. When will you give him
any book-lessons?"
"Not for a while yet."
Euphra did not reply. Her silence seemed intended to
express dissatisfaction; at least so Hugh interpreted it.
"I hope you do not think it is to indulge myself that I
manage Master Harry in this peculiar fashion," he said. "The
fact is, he is a very peculiar child, and may turn out a genius or
a weakling, just as he is managed, At least so it appears to
me at present. May I ask where you left the work you were
doing with him?"
"He was going through the Eton grammar for the third
time," answered Euphra, with a defiant glance, almost of dislike,
at Hugh. "But I need not enumerate his studies, for I daresay
you will not take them up at all after my fashion. I only
assure you I have been a very exact disciplinarian. What he
knows, I think you will find he knows thoroughly."
So saying, Euphra rose, and with a flush on her cheek, walked
out of the room in a more stately manner than usual.
Hugh felt that he had, somehow or other, offended her. But,
to tell the truth, he did not much care, for her manner had
rather irritated him. He retired to his own room, wrote to his
mother, and, when Harry awoke, carried him again to the barn
for an hour's work in the straw. Before it grew dusk, they had
finished a little, silent, dark chamber, as round as they could
make it, in the heart of the straw. All the excavated material
they had thrown on the top, reserving only a little to close up
the entrance when they pleased.
The next morning was still rainy; and when Hugh found
Harry in the library as usual, he saw that the clouds had again
gathered over the boy's spirit. He was pacing about the room
in a very odd manner. The carpet was divided diamond-wise in
a regular pattern. Harry's steps were, for the most part, planted
upon every third diamond, as he slowly crossed the floor in a
variety of directions; for, as on previous occasions, he had not
perceived the entrance of his tutor. But, every now and then,
the boy would make the most sudden and irregular change in
his mode of progression, setting his foot on the most unexpected
diamond, at one time the nearest to him, at another the farthest
within his reach. When he looked up, and saw his tutor watching
him, he neither started nor blushed: but, still retaining on
his countenance the perplexed, anxious expression which Hugh
had remarked, said to him:
"How can God know on which of those diamonds I am going
to set my foot next?"
"If you could understand how God knows, Harry, then you
would know yourself; but before you have made up your mind,
you don't know which you will choose; and even then you only
know on which you intend to set your foot; for you have often
changed your mind after making up."
Harry looked as puzzled as before.
Why, Harry, to understand how God understands, you
would need to be as wise as he is; so it is no use trying. You
see you can't quite understand me, though I have a real meaning
in what I say."
"Ah! I see it is no use; but I can't bear to be puzzled."
"But you need not be puzzled; you have no business to be
puzzled. You are trying to get into your little brain what is
far too grand and beautiful to get into it. Would you not think
it very stupid to puzzle yourself how to put a hundred horses
into a stable with twelve stalls?"
Harry laughed, and looked relieved.
"It is more unreasonable a thousand times to try to understand
such things. For my part, it would make me miserable
to think that there was nothing but what I could understand.
I should feel as if I had no room anywhere. Shall we go to
our cave again?"
"Oh! yes, please," cried Harry; and in a moment he
was on Hugh's back once more, cantering joyously to the
barn.
After various improvements, including some enlargement of
the interior, Hugh and Harry sat down together in the low
yellow twilight of their cave, to enjoy the result of their labours.
They could just see, by the light from the tunnel, the
glimmer of the golden hollow all about them. The rain was
falling heavily out-of-doors; and they could hear the sound of
the multitudinous drops of the broken cataract of the heavens
like the murmur of the insects in a summer wood. They knew
that everything outside was rained upon, and was again raining
on everything beneath it, while they were dry and warm.
"This is nice!" exclaimed Harry, after a few moments of
silent enjoyment.
"This is your first lesson in architecture," said Hugh.
"Am I to learn architecture?" asked Harry, in a rueful
tone.
"It is well to know how things came to be done, if you should
know nothing more about them, Harry. Men lived in the
cellars first of all, and next on the ground floor; but they could
get no further till they joined the two, and then they could
build higher."
"I don't quite understand you, sir."
"I did not mean you should, Harry."
"Then I don't mind, sir. But I thought architecture was
building."
"So it is; and this is one way of building. It is only
making an outside by pulling out an inside, instead of making
an inside by setting up an outside."
Harry thought for a while, and then said joyfully:
"I see it, sir! I see it. The inside is the chief thing — not
the outside."
"Yes, Harry; and not in architecture only. Never forget
that."
They lay for some time in silence, listening to the rain. At
length Harry spoke:
"I have been thinking of what you told me yesterday, Mr.
Sutherland, about the rain going to look for the seeds that were
thirsty for it. And now I feel just as if I were a seed, lying in
its little hole in the earth, and hearing the rain-drops pattering
down all about it, waiting — oh, so thirsty! — for some kind drop
to find me out, and give me itself to drink. I wonder what
kind of flower I should grow up," added he, laughing.
"There is more truth than you think, in your pretty fancy,
Harry," rejoined Hugh, and was silent — self-rebuked; for the
memory of David came back upon him, recalled by the words
of the boy; of David, whom he loved and honoured with the
best powers of his nature, and whom yet he had neglected and
seemed to forget; nay, whom he had partially — forgotten — he
could not deny. The old man, whose thoughts were just those
of a wise child, had said to him once:
"We ken no more, Maister Sutherlan', what we're growin'
till, than that neep-seed there kens what a neep is, though a
neep it will be. The only odds is that we ken that we dinna
ken, and the neep-seed kens nothing at all aboot it. But ae
thing, Maister Sutherlan', we may be sure o': that, whatever it
be, it will be worth God's makin' an' our growin'."
A solemn stillness fell upon Hugh's spirit, as he recalled
these words; out of which stillness, I presume, grew the little
parable which follows; though Hugh, after he had learned far
more about the things therein hinted at, could never understand
how it was, that he could have put so much more into
it, than he seemed to have- understood at that period of his
history.
For Harry said:
"Wouldn't this be a nice place for a story, Mr. Sutherland?
Do you ever tell stories, sir?"
"I was just thinking of one, Harry; but it is as much yours
as mine, for you sowed the seed of the story in my mind."
"Do you mean a story that never was in a book — a story out
of your own head? Oh! that will be grand!"
"Wait till we see what it will be, Harry; for I can't tell you
how it will turn out."
After a little further pause, Hugh began:
"Long, long ago, two seeds lay beside each other in the earth,
waiting. It was cold, and rather wearisome; and, to beguile
the time, the one found means to speak to the other.
"'What are you going to be?' said the one.
"'I don't know,' answered the other.
"'For me,' rejoined the first, 'I mean to be a rose. There
is nothing like a splendid rose. Everybody will love me
then!'
"'It's all right,' whispered the second; and that was all he
could say; for somehow when he had said that, he felt as if all
the words in the world were used up. So they were silent
again for a day or two.
"'Oh, dear!' cried the first, 'I have had some water. I
never knew till it was inside me. I'm growing! I'm growing!
Good-bye!'
"'Good-bye!' repeated the other, and lay still; and waited
more than ever.
"The first grew and grew, pushing itself straight up, till at
last it felt that it was in the open air, for it could breathe.
And what a delicious breath that was! It was rather cold, but
so refreshing. The flower could see nothing, for it was not
quite a flower yet, only a plant; and they never see till their
eyes come, that is, till they open their blossoms — then they are
flowers quite. So it grew and grew, and kept its head up very
steadily, meaning to see the sky the first thing, and leave the
earth quite behind as well as beneath it. But somehow or
other, though why it could not tell, it felt very much inclined
to cry. At length it opened its eye. It was morning, and the
sky was over its head; but, alas! itself was no rose — only a
tiny white flower. It felt yet more inclined to hang down its
head and to cry; but it still resisted, and tried hard to open its
eye wide, and to hold its head upright, and to look full at the
sky.
"'I will be a star of Bethlehem at least!' said the flower to
itself.
"But its head felt very heavy; and a cold wind rushed over
it, and bowed it down towards the earth. And the flower saw
that the time of the singing of birds was not come, that the
snow covered the whole land, and that there was not a single
flower in sight but itself. And it half-closed its leaves in
terror and the dismay of loneliness. But that instant it remembered
what the other flower used to say; and it said to
itself: 'It's all right; I will be what I can.' And thereon it
yielded to the wind, drooped its head to the earth, and looked
no more on the sky, but on the snow. And straightway the
wind stopped, and the cold died away, and the snow sparkled
like pearls and diamonds; and the flower knew that it was the
holding of its head up that had hurt it so; for that its body
came of the snow, and that its name was Snow-drop. And so it
said once more, 'It's all right!' and waited in perfect peace.
All the rest it needed was to hang its head after its nature."
"And what became of the other?" asked Harry.
"I haven't done with this one yet," answered Hugh. "I
only told you it was waiting. One day a pale, sad-looking girl,
with thin face, large eyes, and long white hands, came, hanging
her head like the snowdrop, along the snow where the flower
grew. She spied it, smiled joyously, and saying, 'Ah! my
little sister, are you come?' stooped and plucked the snowdrop.
It trembled and died in her hand; which was a heavenly death
for a snowdrop; for had it not cast a gleam of summer, pale as
it had been itself, upon the heart of a sick girl?"
"And the other?" repeated Harry.
"The other had a long time to wait; but it did grow one of
the loveliest roses ever seen. And at last it had the highest
honour ever granted to a flower: two lovers smelled it together,
and were content with it."
Harry was silent, and so was Hugh; for he could not understand
himself quite. He felt, all the time he was speaking,
as if he were listening to David, instead of talking himself.
The fact was, he was only expanding, in an imaginative soil, the
living seed which David had cast into it. There seemed to
himself to be more in his parable than he had any right to
invent. But is it not so with all stories that are rightly rooted
in the human?
"What a delightful story, Mr. Sutherland!" said Harry, at
last. "Euphra tells me stories sometimes; but I don't think
I ever heard one I liked so much. I wish we were meant to
grow into something, like the flower-seeds."
"So we are, Harry."
"Are we indeed? How delightful it would be to think that
I am only a seed, Mr. Sutherland! Do you think I might
think so?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then, please, let me begin to learn something directly. I
haven't had anything disagreeable to do since you came; and I
don't feel as if that was right."
Poor Harry, like so many thousands of good people, had not
yet learned that God is not a hard task-master.
"I don't intend that you should have anything disagreeable
to do, if I can help it. We must do such things when they
come to us; but we must not make them for ourselves, or for
each other."
"Then I'm not to learn any more Latin, am I?" said Harry,
in a doubtful kind of tone, as if there were after all a little
pleasure in doing what he did not like.
"Is Latin so disagreeable, Harry?"
"Yes; it is rule after rule, that has nothing in it I care
for. How can anybody care for Latin? But I am quite ready to
begin, if I am only a seed — really, you know."
"Not yet, Harry. Indeed, we shall not begin again — I won't
let you — till you ask me with your whole heart, to let you learn
Latin."
"I am afraid that will be a long time, and Euphra will not
like it."
"I will talk to her about it. But perhaps it will not be so
long as you think. Now, don't mention Latin to me again, till
you are ready to ask me, heartily, to teach you. And don't
give yourself any trouble about it either. You never can make
yourself like anything."
Harry was silent. They returned to the house, through the
pouring rain; Harry, as usual, mounted on his big brother.
As they crossed the hall, Mr. Arnold came in. He looked
surprised and annoyed. Hugh set Harry down, who ran upstairs
to get dressed for dinner; while he himself half-stopped,
and turned towards Mr. Arnold. But Mr. Arnold did not
speak, and so Hugh followed Harry.
Hugh spent all that evening, after Harry had gone to bed, in
correcting his impressions of some of the chief stories of early
Roman history; of which stories he intended commencing a
little course to Harry the next day
Meantime there was very little intercourse between Hugh
and Euphra, whose surname, somehow or other, Hugh had
never inquired after. He disliked asking questions about people
to an uncommon degree, and so preferred waiting for a natural
revelation. Her later behaviour had repelled him, impressing
him with the notion that she was proud, and that she had
made up her mind, notwithstanding her apparent frankness at
first, to keep him at a distance. That she was fitful, too, and
incapable of showing much tenderness even to poor Harry, he
had already concluded in his private judgment-hall. Nor could
he doubt that, whether from wrong theories, incapacity, or culpable
indifference, she must have taken very bad measures
indeed with her young pupil.
The next day resembled the two former; with this difference,
that the rain fell in torrents. Seated in their strawy
bower, they cared for no rain. They were safe from the whole
world, and all the tempers of nature.
Then Hugh told Harry about the slow beginnings and the
mighty birth of the great Roman people. He told him tales of
their battles and conquests; their strifes at home, and their
wars abroad. He told him stories of their grand men, great
with the individuality of their nation and their own. He told
him their characters, their peculiar opinions and grounds of
action, and the results of their various schemes for their various
ends. He told him about their love to their country, about
their poetry and their religion; their courage, and their hardihood;
their architecture, their clothes, and their armour; their
customs and their laws; but all in such language, or mostly in
such language, as one boy might use in telling another of the
same age; for Hugh possessed the gift of a general simplicity of
thought, one of the most valuable a man can have. It cost him
a good deal of labour (well-repaid in itself, not to speak of the
evident delight of Harry), to make himself perfectly competent
for this; but he had a good foundation of knowledge to work
upon.
This went on for a long time after the period to which I am
now more immediately confined. Every time they stopped to
rest from their rambles or games — as often, in fact, as they sat
down alone, Harry's constant request was;
"Now, Mr. Sutherland, mightn't we have something more
about the Romans?"
And Mr. Sutherland gave him something more. But all this
time he never uttered the word — Latin.
CHAPTER V.
LARCH AND OTHER HUNTING.
For there is neither buske nor hay
In May, that it n'ill shrouded bene,
And it with newé leavés wrene;
These woodés eke recoveren grene,
That drie in winter ben to sene,
And the erth waxeth proud withall,
For swoté dewes that on it fall,
And the poore estate forget,
In which that winter had it set:
And than becomes the ground so proude,
That it wol have a newé shroude,
And maketh so queint his robe and faire,
That it hath hewes an hundred paire,
Of grasse and floures, of Ind and Pers,
And many hewés full divers:
That is the robe I mean, ywis,
Through which the ground to praisen is.
CHAUCER'S translation of the Romaunt of the Rose.
So passed the three days of rain. After breakfast the following
morning, Hugh went to find Harry, according to custom,
in the library. He was reading.
"What are you reading, Harry?" asked he.
"A poem," said Harry; and, rising as before, he brought the
book to Hugh. It was Mrs. Hemans's Poems.
"You are fond of poetry, Harry."
"Yes, very."
"Whose poems do you like best?"
"Mrs. Hemans's, of course. Don't you think she is the best,
sir?"
"She writes very beautiful verses, Harry. Which poem are
you reading now?"
"Oh! one of my favourites — The Voice of Spring."
"Who taught you to like Mrs. Hemans?"
"Euphra, of course."
"Will you read the poem to me?
Harry began, and read the poem through, with much taste
and evident enjoyment; an enjoyment which seemed, however,
to spring more from the music of the thought and its embodiment
in sound, than from sympathy with the forms of nature
called up thereby. This was shown by his mode of reading, in
which the music was everything, and the sense little or nothing.
When he came to the line,
"And the larch has hung all his tassels forth,"
he smiled so delightedly, that Hugh said:
"Are you fond of the larch, Harry?"
"Yes, very."
"Are there any about here?"
"I don't know. What is it like?"
"You said you were fond of it."
"Oh, yes; it is a tree with beautiful tassels, you know. I
think I should like to see one. Isn't it a beautiful line?"
"When you have finished the poem, we will go and see if we
can find one anywhere in the woods. We must know where we
are in the world, Harry — what is all round about us, you
know."
"Oh, yes," said Harry; "let us go and hunt the larch."
"Perhaps we shall meet Spring, if we look for her — perhaps
hear her voice, too."
"That would be delightful," answered Harry, smiling. And
away they went.
I may just mention here that Mrs. Hemans was allowed to
retire gradually, till at last she was to be found only in the
more inaccessible recesses of the library-shelves; while by that
time Harry might be heard, not all over the house, certainly,
but as far off as outside the closed door of the library, reading
aloud to himself one or other of Macaulay's ballads, with an
evident enjoyment of the go in it. A story with drum and
trumpet accompaniment was quite enough, for the present, to
satisfy Harry; and Macaulay could give him that, if little
more.
As they went across the lawn towards the shrubbery, on their
way to look for larches and Spring, Euphra joined them in
walking dress. It was a lovely morning.
"I have taken you at your word, you see, Mr. Sutherland,"
said she. "I don't want to lose my Harry quite."
"You dear kind Euphra!" said Harry, going round to her
side and taking her hand. He did not stay long with her, however,
nor did Euphra seem particularly to want him.
"There was one thing I ought to have mentioned to you the
other night, Mr. Sutherland; and I daresay I should have
mentioned it, had not Mr. Arnold interrupted our tête-à-tête.
I feel now as if I had been guilty of claiming far more than I
have a right to, on the score of musical insight. I have Scotch
blood in me, and was indeed born in Scotland, though I left it
before I was a year old. My mother, Mr. Arnold's sister,
married a gentleman who was half Scotch; and I was born
while they were on a visit to his relatives, the Camerons of
Lochnie. His mother, my grandmother, was a Bohemian lady,
a countess with sixteen quarterings — not a gipsy, I beg to say."
Hugh thought she might have been, to judge from present
appearances.
But how was he to account for this torrent of genealogical
information, into which the ice of her late constraint had suddenly
thawed? It was odd that she should all at once volunteer so
much about herself. Perhaps she had made up one of those
minds which need making up, every now and then, like a
monthly magazine; and now was prepared to publish it. Hugh
responded with a question:
"Do I know your name, then, at last? You are Miss
Cameron?"
"Euphrasia Cameron; at your service, sir." And she
dropped a gay little courtesy to Hugh, looking up at him with a
flash of her black diamonds.
"Then you must sing to me to-night."
"With all the pleasure in gipsy-land," replied she, with a
second courtesy, lower than the first; taking for granted, no
doubt, his silent judgment on her person and complexion.
By this time they had reached the woods in a different
quarter from that which Hugh had gone through the other day
with Harry. And here, in very deed, the Spring met them,
with a profusion of richness to which Hugh was quite a
stranger. The ground was carpeted with primroses, and anemones,
and other spring flowers, which are the loveliest of all
flowers. They were drinking the sunlight, which fell upon
them through the budded boughs. By the time the light
should be hidden from them by the leaves, which are the clouds
of the lower firmament of the woods, their need of it would be
gone: exquisites in living, they cared only for the delicate
morning of the year.
"Do look at this darling, Mr. Sutherland!" exclaimed
Euphrasia suddenly, as she bent at the root of a great beech,
where grew a large bush of rough leaves, with one tiny but
perfectly-formed primrose peeping out between. "Is it not a
little pet? — all eyes — all one eye staring out of its curtained
bed to see what ever is going on in the world. — You had better
lie down again: it is not a nice place."
She spoke to it as if it had been a kitten or a baby. And as
she spoke, she pulled the leaves yet closer over the little starer,
so as to hide it quite.
As they went on, she almost obtrusively avoided stepping on
the flowers, saying she almost felt cruel, or at least rude, when
she did so. Yet she trailed her dress over them in quite a careless
way, not lifting it at all. This was a peculiarity of hers
which Hugh never understood till he understood herself.
All about in shady places, the ferns were busy untucking
themselves from their grave-clothes, unrolling their mysterious
coils of life, adding continually to the hidden growth as they
unfolded the visible. In this, they were like the other revelations
of God the Infinite. All the wild lovely things were coming
up for their month's life of joy. Orchis-harlequins, cuckoo-plants,
wild arums, more properly lords-and-ladies, were coming, and
coming — slowly; for had they not a long way to come, from
the valley of the shadow of death into the land of life? At last
the wanderers came upon a whole company of bluebells — not,
what Hugh would have called bluebells, for the bluebells of
Scotland are the single-poised harebells — but wild hyacinths,
growing in a damp and shady spot, in wonderful luxuriance.
They were quite three feet in height, with long, graceful, drooping
heads; hanging down from them, all along one side, the
largest and loveliest of bells — one lying close above the other,
on the lower part; while they parted thinner and thinner as
they rose towards the lonely one at the top. Miss Cameron went
into ecstasies over these; not saying much, but breaking up
what she did say with many prettily passionate pauses.
She had a very happy turn for seeing external resemblances,
either humorous or pathetic; for she had much of one element
that goes to the making of a poet — namely, surface impressibility.

"Look, Harry; they are all sad at having to go down there
again so soon. They are looking at their graves so ruefully."
Harry looked sad and rather sentimental immediately. When
Hugh glanced at Miss Cameron, he saw tears in her eyes.
"You have nothing like this in your country, have you, Mr.
Sutherland?" said she, with an apparent effort.
"No, indeed," answered Hugh.
And he said no more. For a vision rose before him of the
rugged pine-wood and the single primrose; and of the thoughtful
maiden, with unpolished speech and rough hands, and — but
this he did not see — a soul slowly refining itself to a crystalline
clearness. And he thought of the grand old grey-haired David,
and of Janet with her quaint motherhood, and of all the blessed
bareness of the ancient time — in sunlight and in snow; and he
felt again that he had forgotten and forsaken his friends.
"How the fairies will be ringing the bells in these airy steeples
in the moonlight!" said Miss Cameron to Harry, who was surprised
and delighted with it all. He could not help wondering,
however, after he went to bed that night, that Euphra had never
before taken him to see these beautiful things, and had never
before said anything half so pretty to him, as the least pretty
thing she had said about the flowers that morning when they
were out with Mr. Sutherland. Had Mr. Sutherland anything
to do with it? Was he giving Euphra a lesson in flowers, such
as he had given him in pigs?
Miss Cameron presently drew Hugh into conversation again,
and the old times were once more forgotten for a season. They
were worthy of distinguishing note — that trio in those spring
woods: the boy waking up to feel that flowers and buds were
lovelier in the woods than in verses; Euphra finding everything
about her sentimentally useful, and really delighting the
prettinesses they suggested to her; and Hugh regarding the whole
chiefly as a material and means for reproducing in verse such
impressions of delight as he had received and still received from
all (but the highest) poetry about nature. The presence of
Harry and his necessities was certainly a saving influence upon
Hugh; but, however much he sought to realize Harry's life, he
himself, at this period of his history, enjoyed everything artistically
far more than humanly.
Margaret would have walked through all this infant summer
without speaking at all, but with a deep light far back in her
quiet eyes. Perhaps she would not have had many thoughts
about the flowers. Rather she would have thought the very
flowers themselves; would have been at home with them, in a
delighted oneness with their life and expression. Certainly she
would have walked through then with reverence, and would not
have petted or patronised nature by saying pretty things about
her children. Their life would have entered into her, and she
would have hardly known it from her own. I daresay Miss
Cameron would have called a mountain a darling or a beauty.
But there are other ways of showing affection than by patting
and petting — though Margaret, for her part, would have needed
no art-expression, because she had the things themselves. It
is not always those who utter best who feel most; and the dumb
poets are sometimes dumb because it would need the "large
utterance of the early gods" to carry their thoughts through
the gates of speech.
But the fancy and skin-sympathy of Miss Cameron began
already to tell upon Hugh. He knew very little of women, and
had never heard a woman talk as she talked. He did not know
how cheap this accomplishment is, and took it for sensibility,
imaginativeness, and even originality. He thought she was far
more en rapport with nature than he was. It was much easier
to make this mistake after hearing the really delightful way in
which she sang. Certainly she could not have sung so, perhaps
not even have talked so, except she had been capable of more;
but to be capable of more, and to be able for more, are two very
distinct conditions.
Many walks followed this, extending themselves farther and
farther from home, as Harry's strength gradually improved. It
was quite remarkable how his interest in everything external
increased, in exact proportion as he learned to see into the inside
or life of it. With most children, the interest in the external
comes first, and with many ceases there. But it is in reality
only a shallower form of the deeper sympathy; and in those
cases where it does lead to a desire after the hidden nature of
things, it is perhaps the better beginning of the two. In such
exceptional cases as Harry's, it is of unspeakable importance
that both the difference and the identity should be recognized;
and in doing so, Hugh became to Harry his big brother indeed,
for he led him where he could not go alone.
As often as Mr. Arnold was from home, which happened not
unfrequently, Miss Cameron accompanied them in their rambles.
She gave as her reason for doing so only on such occasions, that
she never liked to be out of the way when her uncle might want
her. Traces of an inclination to quarrel with Hugh, or even to
stand upon her dignity, had all but vanished; and as her vivacity
never failed her, as her intellect was always active, and as by
the exercise of her will she could enter sympathetically, or appear
to enter, into everything, her presence was not in the least
a restraint upon them.
On one occasion, when Harry had actually run a little way
after a butterfly, Hugh said to her:
"What did you mean, Miss Cameron, by saying you were
only a poor relation? You are certainly mistress of the
house."
"On sufferance, yes. But I am only a poor relation. I have
no fortune of my own."
"But Mr. Arnold does not treat you as such."
"Oh! no. He likes me. He is very kind to me. — He gave
me this ring on my last birthday. Is it not a beauty?"
She pulled off her glove and showed a very fine diamond on a
finger worthy of the ornament.
"It is more like a gentleman's, is it not?" she added, drawing
it off. "Let me see how it would look on your hand."
She gave the ring to Hugh; who, laughing, got it with some
difficulty just over the first joint of his little finger, and held it
up for Euphra to see.
"Ah! I see I cannot ask you to wear it for me," said she.
"I don't like it myself. I am afraid, however," she added, with
an arch look, "my uncle would not like it either — on your
finger. Put it on mine again."
Holding her hand towards Hugh, she continued:
"It must not be promoted just yet. Besides, I see you have
a still better one of your own."
As Hugh did according to her request, the words sprang to
his lips, "There are other ways of wearing a ring than on the
finger." But they did not cross the threshold of speech. Was
it the repression of them that caused that strange flutter and
slight pain at the heart, which he could not quite understand?
CHAPTER VI.
FATIMA.
Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said, "I hate,"
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that, ever sweet,
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
"I hate" she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who, like a fiend,
From heaven to hell is flown away.
"I hate" from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying — "Not you."
SHAKSPERE.
MR. ARNOLD was busy at home for a few days after this, and
Hugh and Harry had to go out alone. One day, when the wind
was rather cold, they took refuge in the barn; for it was part
of Hugh's especial care that Harry should be rendered hardy,
by never being exposed to more than he could bear without a.
sense of suffering. As soon as the boy began to feel fatigue, or
cold, or any other discomfort, his tutor took measures accordingly.

Harry would have crept into the straw-house; but Hugh said,
pulling a book out of his pocket,
"I have a poem here for you, Harry. I want to read it to
you now; and we can't see in there."
They threw themselves down on the straw, and Hugh, opening
a volume of Robert Browning's Poems, read the famous ride
from Ghent to Aix. He knew the poem well, and read it well.
Harry was in raptures.
"I wish I could read that as you do," said he.
"Try," said Hugh.
Harry tried the first verse, and threw the book down in disgust
with himself.
"Why cannot I read it?" said he.
"Because you can't ride."
"I could ride, if I had such a horse as that to ride upon."
"But you could never have such a horse as that except you
could ride, and ride well, first. After that, there is no saying
but you might get one. You might, in fact, train one for yourself
— till from being a little foal it became your own wonderful
horse."
"Oh! that would be delightful! Will you teach me horses
as well, Mr. Sutherland?"
"Perhaps I will."
That evening, at dinner, Hugh said to Mr. Arnold:
"Could you let me have a horse to-morrow morning, Mr.
Arnold?"
Mr. Arnold stared a little, as he always did at anything new.
But Hugh went on:
"Harry and I want to have a ride to-morrow; and I expect
we shall like it so much, that we shall want to ride very
often."
"Yes, that we shall!" cried Harry.
"Could not Mr. Sutherland have your white mare, Euphra?"
said Mr. Arnold, reconciled at once to the proposal.
"I would rather not, if you don't mind, uncle. My Fatty is
not used to such a burden as I fear Mr. Sutherland would prove.
She drops a little now, on the hard road."
The fact was, Euphra would want Fatima.
"Well, Harry," said Mr. Arnold, graciously pleased to be
facetious, "don't you think your Welsh dray-horse could carry
Mr. Sutherland?"
"Ha! ha! ha! Papa, do you know, Mr. Sutherland set him
up on his hind legs yesterday, and made him walk on them like
a dancing-dog. He was going to lift him, but he kicked about
so when he felt himself leaving the ground, that he tumbled
Mr. Sutherland into the horse-trough."
Even the solemn face of the butler relaxed into a smile, but
Mr. Arnold's clouded instead. His boy's tutor ought to be a
gentleman.
"Wasn't it fun, Mr. Sutherland?"
"It was to you, you little rogue!" said Sutherland, laughing.
"And how you did run home, dripping like a water-cart! —
and all the dogs after you!"
Mr. Arnold's monotonous solemnity soon checked Harry's
prattle.
"I will see, Mr. Sutherland, what I can do to mount you."
"I don't care what it is," said Hugh; who though by no means
a thorough horseman, had been from boyhood in the habit of
mounting everything in the shape of a horse that he could
lay hands upon, from a cart-horse upwards and downwards.
"There's an old bay that would carry me very well."
"That is my own horse, Mr. Sutherland."
This stopped the conversation in that direction. But next
morning after breakfast, an excellent chestnut horse was waiting
at the door, along with Harry's new pony. Mr. Arnold would
see them go off. This did not exactly suit Miss Cameron, but
if she frowned, it was when nobody saw her. Hugh put Harry
up himself, told him to stick fast with his knees, and then
mounted his chestnut. As they trotted slowly down the avenue,
Euphrasia heard Mr. Arnold say to himself, "The fellow sits
well, at all events." She took care to make herself agreeable
to Hugh by reporting this, with the omission of the initiatory
epithet, however.
Harry returned from his ride rather tired, but in high spirits.
"Oh, Euphra!" he cried, "Mr. Sutherland is such a rider!
He jumps hedges and ditches and everything. And he has
promised to teach me and my pony to jump too. And if I am
not too tired, we are to begin to-morrow, out on the common.
Oh! jolly!"
The little fellow's heart was full of the sense of growing life
and strength, and Hugh was delighted with his own success.
He caught sight of a serpentine motion in Euphra's eyebrows,
as she bent her face again over the work from which she had
lifted it on their entrance. He addressed her.
"You will be glad to hear that Harry has ridden like a
man."
"I am glad to hear it, Harry."
Why did she reply to the subject of the remark, and not to
the speaker? Hugh perplexed himself in vain to answer this
question; but a very small amount of experience would have
made him able to understand at once as much of her behaviour
as was genuine. At luncheon she spoke only in reply; and
then so briefly, as not to afford the smallest peg on which to
hang a response.
"What can be the matter?" thought Hugh. "What a
peculiar creature she is! But after what has passed between
us, I can't stand this."
When dinner was over that evening, she rose as usual and
left the room, followed by Hugh and Harry; but as soon as
they were in the drawing-room, she left it; and, returning to
the dining-room, resumed her seat at the table.
"Take a glass of claret, Euphra, dear?" said Mr. Arnold.
"I will, if you please, uncle. I should like it. I have seldom
a minute with you alone now."
Evidently flattered, Mr. Arnold poured out a glass of claret,
rose and carried it to his niece himself, and then took a chair
beside her.
"Thank you, dear uncle," she said, with one of her bewitching
flashes of smile.
"Harry has been getting on bravely with his riding, has he
not?" she continued.
"So it would appear."
Harry had been full of the story of the day at the dinner--
table, where he still continued to present himself; for his father
would not be satisfied without him. It was certainly good
moral training for the boy, to sit there almost without eating;
and none the worse that he found it rather hard sometimes.
He talked much more freely now, and asked the servants for
anything he wanted without referring to Euphra. Now and
then he would glance at her, as if afraid of offending her; but
the cords which bound him to her were evidently relaxing; and
she saw it plainly enough, though she made no reference to the
unpleasing fact.
"I am only a little fearful, uncle, lest Mr. Sutherland should
urge the boy to do more than his strength will admit of. He is
exceedingly kind to him, but he has evidently never known
what weakness is himself."
"True, there is danger of that. But you see he has taken
him so entirely into his own hands. I don't seem to be allowed
a word in the matter of his education any more." Mr. Arnold
spoke with the peevishness of weak importance. "I wish you
would take care that he does not carry things too far, Euphra."
This was just what Euphra wanted.
"I think, if you do not disapprove, uncle, I will have Fatima
saddled to-morrow morning, and go with them myself."
"Thank you, my love; I shall be much obliged to you."
The glass of claret was soon finished after this. A little
more conversation about nothing followed, and Euphra rose the
second time, and returned to the drawing-room. She found it
unoccupied. She sat down to the piano, and sang song after
song — Scotch, Italian, and Bohemian. But Hugh did not make
his appearance. The fact was, he was busy writing to his
mother, whom he had rather neglected since he came. Writing
to her made him think of David, and he began a letter to him
too; but it was never finished, and never sent. He did not
return to the drawing-room that evening. Indeed, except for a
short time, while Mr. Arnold was drinking his claret, he seldom
showed himself there. Had Euphra repelled him too much —
hurt him? She would make up for it to-morrow.
Breakfast was scarcely over, when the chestnut and the pony
passed the window, accompanied by a lovely little Arab mare,
broad-chested and light-limbed, with a wonderfully small head.
She was white as snow, with keen, dark eyes. Her curb-rein
was red instead of white. Hearing their approach, and begging
her uncle to excuse her, Euphra rose from the table, and left
the room; but re-appeared in a wonderfully little while, in a well--
fitted riding-habit of black velvet, with a belt of dark red leather
clasping a waist of the roundest and smallest. Her little hat,
likewise black, had a single long, white feather, laid horizontally
within the upturned brim, and drooping over it at the back.
Her white mare would be just the right pedestal for the dusky
figure — black eyes, tawny skin, and all. As she stood ready to
mount, and Hugh was approaching to put her up, she called the
groom, seemed just to touch his hand, and was in the saddle in a
moment, foot in stirrup, and skirt falling over it. Hugh thought
she was carrying out the behaviour of yesterday, and was determined
to ask her what it meant. The little Arab began to rear
and plunge with pride, as soon as she felt her mistress on her
back; but she seemed as much at home as if she had been on
the music-stool, and patted her arching neck, talking to her in
the same tone almost in which she had addressed the flowers.
"Be quiet, Fatty dear; you're frightening Mr. Sutherland."
But Hugh, seeing the next moment that she was in no danger,
sprang into his saddle. Away they went, Fatima infusing life
and frolic into the equine as Euphra into the human portion of
the cavalcade. Having reached the common, out of sight of the
house, Miss Cameron, instead of looking after Harry, lest he
should have too much exercise, scampered about like a wild girl,
jumping everything that came in her way, and so exciting Harry's
pony, that it was almost more than he could do to manage it,
till at last Hugh had to beg her to go more quietly, for Harry's
sake. She drew up alongside of them at once, and made her
mare stand as still as she could, while Harry made his first
essay upon a little ditch. After crossing it two or three times,
he gathered courage; and setting his pony at a larger one
beyond, bounded across it beautifully.
"Bravo! Harry!" cried both Euphra and Hugh. Harry
galloped back, and over it again; then came up to them with a
glow of proud confidence on his pale face.
"You'll be a horseman yet, Harry," said Hugh.
"I hope so," said Harry, in an aspiring tone, which greatly
satisfied his tutor. The boy's spirit was evidently reviving.
Euphra must have managed him ill. Yet she was not in the
least effeminate herself. It puzzled Hugh a good deal. But
he did not think about it long; for Harry cantering away in
front, he had an opportunity of saying to Euphra:
"Are you offended with me, Miss Cameron?"
"Offended with you! What do you mean? A girl like me
offended with a man like you?"
She looked two and twenty as she spoke; but even at that
she was older than Hugh. He, however, certainly looked considerably
older than he really was.
"What makes you think so?" she added, turning her face
towards him.
"You would not speak to me when we came home
yesterday."
"Not speak to you? — I had a little headache — and perhaps
I was a little sullen, from having been in such bad company all
the morning."
"What company had you?" asked Hugh, gazing at her in
some surprise.
"My own," answered she, with a lovely laugh, thrown full in
his face. Then after a pause: "Let me advise you, if you want
to live in peace, not to embark on that ocean of discovery."
"What ocean? what discovery?" asked Hugh, bewildered,
and still gazing.
"The troubled ocean of ladies' looks," she replied. "You will
never be able to live in the same house with one of our kind, if
it be necessary to your peace to find out what every expression
that puzzles you may mean."
"I did not intend to be inquisitive — it really troubled
me."
"There it is. You must never mind us. We show so much
sooner than men — but, take warning, there is no making out
what it is we do show. Your faces are legible; ours are so
scratched and interlined, that you had best give up at once the
idea of deciphering them."
Hugh could not help looking once more at the smooth,
simple, naïve countenance shining upon him.
"There you are at it again," she said, blushing a little, and
turning her head away. "Well, to comfort you, I will confess
I was rather cross yesterday — because — because you seemed to
have been quite happy with only one of your pupils."
As she spoke the words, she gave Fatima the rein, and
bounded off, overtaking Harry's pony in a moment. Nor did
she leave her cousin during all the rest of their ride.
Most women in whom the soul has anything like a chance of
reaching the windows, are more or less beautiful in their best
moments. Euphra's best was when she was trying to fascinate.
Then she was — fascinating. During the first morning that
Hugh spent at Arnstead, she had probably been making up
her mind whether, between her and Hugh, it was to be war to
the knife, or fascination. The latter had carried the day, and
was now carrying him. But had she calculated that fascination
may re-act as well?
Hugh's heart bounded, like her Arab steed, as she uttered
the words last recorded. He gave his chestnut the rein in his
turn, to overtake her; but Fatima's canter quickened into a
gallop, and, inspirited by her companionship, and the fact that
their heads were turned stablewards, Harry's pony, one of the
quickest of its race, laid itself to the ground, and kept up,
taking three strides for Fatty's two, so that Hugh never got
within three lengths of them till they drew rein at the hall--
door, where the grooms were waiting them. Euphra was off
her mare in a moment, and had almost reached her own room
before Hugh and Harry had crossed the hall. She came down
to luncheon in a white muslin dress, with the smallest possible
red spot in it; and, taking her place at the table, seemed to
Hugh to have put off not only her riding habit, but the self
that was in it as well; for she chatted away in the most unconcerned
and easy manner possible, as if she had not been out of
her room all the morning. She had ridden so hard, that she
had left her last speech in the middle of the common, and its
mood with it; and there seemed now no likelihood of either
finding its way home.
CHAPTER VII.
THE PICTURE GALLERY.
the house is crencled to and fro,
And hath so queint waies for to go,
For it is shapen as the mase is wrought.
CHAUCER. — Legend of Ariadne.
LUNCHEON over, and Harry dismissed as usual to lie down,
Miss Cameron said to Hugh:
"You have never been over the old house yet, I believe, Mr.
Sutherland. Would you not like to see it?"
"I should indeed," said Hugh. "It is what I have long
hoped for, and have often been on the point of begging."
"Come, then; I will be your guide — if you will trust yourself
with a madcap like me, in the solitudes of the old hive."
"Lead on to the family vaults, if you will," said Hugh.
"That might be possible, too, from below. We are not so very
far from them. Even within the house there is an old chapel,
and some monuments worth looking at. Shall we take it
last?"
"As you think best," answered Hugh.
She rose and rang the bell. When it was answered,
"Jacob," she said, "get me the keys of the house from Mrs.
Horton."
Jacob vanished, and reappeared with a huge bunch of keys.
She took them.
"Thank you. They should not be allowed to get quite rusty,
Jacob."
"Please, Miss, Mrs. Horton desired me to say, she would have
seen to them, if she had known you wanted them."
"Oh! never mind. Just tell my maid to bring me an old
pair of gloves."
Jacob went; and the maid came with the required armour.
"Now, Mr. Sutherland. Jane, you will come with us. No,
you need not take the keys. I will find those I want as
we go."
She unlocked a door in the corner of the hall, which Hugh
had never seen open. Passing through a long low passage,
they came to a spiral staircase of stone, up which they went,
arriving at another wide hall, very dusty, but in perfect repair.
Hugh asked if there was not some communication between this
hall and the great oak staircase.
"Yes," answered Euphra; "but this is the more direct way."
As she said this, he felt somehow as if she cast on him one of
her keenest glances; but the place was very dusky, and he
stood in a spot where the light fell upon him from an opening
in a shutter, while she stood in deep shadow.
"Jane, open that shutter."
The girl obeyed; and the entering light revealed the walls
covered with paintings, many of them apparently of no value,
yet adding much to the effect of the place. Seeing that Hugh
was at once attracted by the pictures, Euphra said:
"Perhaps you would like to see the picture gallery first?"
Hugh assented. Euphra chose key after key, and opened
door after door, till they came into a long gallery, well lighted
from each end. The windows were soon opened.
"Mr. Arnold is very proud of his pictures, especially of his
family portraits; but he is content with knowing he has them,
and never visits them except to show them; or perhaps once or
twice a year, when something or other keeps him at home for a
day, without anything particular to do."
In glancing over the portraits, some of them by famous
masters, Hugh's eyes were arrested by a blonde beauty in the
dress of the time of Charles II. There was such a reality of
self-willed boldness as well as something worse in her face, that,
though arrested by the picture, Hugh felt ashamed of looking
at it in the presence of Euphra and her maid. The pictured
woman almost put him out of countenance, and yet at the same
time fascinated him. Dragging his eyes from it, he saw that
Jane had turned her back upon it, while Euphra regarded it
steadily.
"Open that opposite window, Jane," said she; "there is not
light enough on this portrait."
Jane obeyed. While she did so, Hugh caught a glimpse of
her face, and saw that the formerly rosy girl was deadly pale.
He said to Euphra
"Your maid seems ill, Miss Cameron."
"Jane, what is the matter with you?"
She did not reply, but, leaning against the wall, seemed ready
to faint.
"The place is close," said her mistress. "Go into the next
room there," — she pointed to a door — "and open the window.
You will soon be well."
"If you please, Miss, I would rather stay with you. This
place makes me feel that strange."
She had come but lately, and had never been over the house
before.
"Nonsense!" said Miss Cameron, looking at her sharply.
"What do you mean?"
"Please, don't be angry, Miss; but the first night e'er I
slept here, I saw that very lady —"
"Saw that lady!"
"Well, Miss, I mean, I dreamed that I saw her; and I remembered
her the minute I see her up there; and she give me
a turn like. I'm all right now, Miss."
Euphra fixed her eyes on her, and kept them fixed, till she
was very nearly all wrong again. She turned as pale as before,
and began to draw her breath hard.
"You silly goose!" said Euphra, and withdrew her eyes;
upon which the girl began to breathe more freely.
Hugh was making some wise remarks in his own mind on the
unsteady condition of a nature in which the imagination predominates
over the powers of reflection, when Euphra turned to
him, and began to tell him that that was the picture of her
three or four times great-grandmother, painted by Sir Peter
Lely, just after she was married.
"Isn't she fair?" said she. — "She turned nun at last, they
say."
"She is more fair than honest," thought Hugh. "It would
take a great deal of nun to make her into a saint." But he
only said, "She is more beautiful than lovely. What was her
name?"
"If you mean her maiden name, it was Halkar — Lady
Euphrasia Halkar — named after me, you see. She had foreign
blood in her, of course; and, to tell the truth, there were
strange stories told of her, of more sorts than one. I know
nothing of her family. It was never heard of in England, I
believe, till after the Restoration."
All the time Euphra was speaking, Hugh was being perplexed
with that most annoying of perplexities — the flitting phantom
of a resemblance, which he could not catch. He was forced to
dismiss it for the present, utterly baffled.
"Were you really named after her, Miss Cameron?"
"No, no. It is a family name with us. But, indeed, I may
be said to be named after her, for she was the first of us who
bore it. You don't seem to like the portrait."
"I do not; but I cannot help looking at it, for all that."
"I am so used to the lady's face," said Euphra, "that it
makes no impression on me of any sort. But it is said," she
added, glancing at the maid, who stood at some distance,
looking uneasily about her — and as she spoke she lowered her
voice to a whisper — "it is said, she cannot lie still."
"Cannot lie still! What do you mean?"
"I mean down there in the chapel," she answered, pointing.
The Celtic nerves of Hugh shuddered. Euphra laughed; and
her voice echoed in silvery billows, that broke on the faces of
the men and women of old time, that had owned the whole;
whose lives had flowed and ebbed in varied tides through
the ancient house; who had married and been given in
marriage; and gone down to the chapel below — below the
prayers and below the psalms — and made a Sunday of all the
week.
Ashamed of his feeling of passing dismay, Hugh said, just to
say something:
"What a strange ornament that is! Is it a brooch or a pin?
No, I declare it is a ring — large enough for three cardinals, and
worn on her thumb. It seems almost to sparkle. Is it ruby,
or carbuncle, or what?"
"I don't know: some clumsy old thing," answered Euphra,
carelessly.
"Oh! I see," said Hugh; "it is not a red stone. The glow
is only a reflection from part of her dress. It is as clear as a
diamond. But that is impossible — such a size. There seems to
me something curious about it; and the longer I look at it, the
more strange it appears."
Euphra stole another of her piercing glances at him, but said
nothing.
"Surely," Hugh went on, "a ring like that would hardly be
likely to be lost out of the family? Your uncle must have it
somewhere."
Euphra laughed; but this laugh was very different from the
last. It rattled rather than rang.
"You are wonderfully taken with a bauble — for a man of
letters, that is, Mr. Sutherland. The stone may have been
carried down any one of the hundred streams into which a family
river is always dividing."
"It is a very remarkable ornament for a lady's finger, notwithstanding,"
said Hugh, smiling in his turn.
"But we shall never get through the pictures at this rate,"
remarked Euphra; and going on, she directed Hugh's attention
now to this, now to that portrait, saying who each was, and
mentioning anything remarkable in the history of their originals.
She manifested a thorough acquaintance with the family story,
and made, in fact, an excellent show-woman. Having gone
nearly to the other end of the gallery,
"This door," said she, stopping at one, and turning over the
keys, "leads to one of the oldest portions of the house, the
principal room in which is said to have belonged especially to
the lady over there."
As she said this, she fixed her eyes once more on the
maid.
"Oh! don't ye now, Miss," interrupted Jane. "Hannah
du say as how a whitey-blue light shines in the window of a
dark night, sometimes — that lady's window, you know, Miss.
Don't ye open the door — pray, Miss."
Jane seemed on the point of falling into the same terror as
before.
"Really, Jane," said her mistress, "I am ashamed of you;
and of myself, for having such silly servants about me."
"I beg your pardon, Miss, but —"
"So Mr. Sutherland and I must give up our plan of going
over the house, because my maid's nerves are too delicate to
permit her to accompany us. For shame!"
"Oh, du ye now go without me!" cried the girl, clasping her
hands.
"And you will wait here till we come back?"
"Oh! don't ye leave me here. Just show me the way
out."
And once more she turned pale as death.
"Mr. Sutherland, I am very sorry, but we must put off the
rest of our ramble till another time. I am, like Hamlet, very
vilely attended, as you see. Come, then, you foolish girl," she
added, more mildly.
The poor maid, what with terror of Lady Euphrasia, and
respect for her mistress, was in a pitiable condition of moral
helplessness. She seemed almost too frightened to walk
behind them. But if she had been in front it would have been
no better; for, like other ghost-fearers, she seemed to feel very
painfully that she had no eyes in her back.
They returned as they came; and Jane receiving the keys to
take to the housekeeper, darted away. When she reached Mrs.
Horton's room, she sank on a chair in hysterics.
"I must get rid of that girl, I fear," said Miss Cameron,
leading the way to the library; "she will infect the whole
household with her foolish terrors. We shall not hear the last
of this for some time to come. We had a fit of it the same year
I came; and I suppose the time has come round for another
attack of the same epidemic."
"What is there about the room to terrify the poor thing?"
"Oh! they say it is haunted; that is all. Was there ever an
old house anywhere over Europe, especially an old family house,
but was said to be haunted? Here the story centres in that
room — or at least in that room and the avenue in front of its
windows."
"Is that the avenue called the Ghost's Walk?"
"Yes. Who told you?"
"Harry would not let me cross it."
"Poor boy! This is really too bad. He cannot stand anything
of that kind, I am sure. Those servants!"
"Oh! I hope we shall soon get him too well to be frightened
at anything. Are these places said to be haunted by any particular
ghost?"
"Yes. By Lady Euphrasia. — Rubbish!"
Had Hugh possessed a yet keener perception of resemblance,
he would have seen that the phantom-likeness which haunted
him in the portrait of Euphrasia Halkar, was that of Euphrasia
Cameron — by his side all the time. But the mere difference of
complexion was sufficient to throw him out — insignificant difference
as that is, beside the correspondence of features and their
relations. Euphra herself was perfectly aware of the likeness,
but had no wish that Hugh should discover it.
As if the likeness, however, had been dimly identified by the
unconscious part of his being, he sat in one corner of the library
sofa, with his eyes fixed on the face of Euphra, as she sat in the
other. Presently he was made aware of his unintentional rudeness,
by seeing her turn pale as death, and sink back in the sofa.
In a moment she started up, and began pacing about the room,
rubbing her eyes and temples. He was bewildered and alarmed.
"Miss Cameron, are you ill?" he exclaimed.
She gave a kind of half-hysterical laugh, and said:
"No — nothing worth speaking of. I felt a little faint, that
was all. I am better now."
She turned full towards him, and seemed to try to look all
right; but there was a kind of film over the clearness of her
black eyes.
"I fear you have headache."
"A little, but it is nothing. I will go and lie down."
"Do, pray; else you will not be well enough to appear at
dinner."
She retired, and Hugh joined Harry.
Euphra had another glass of claret with her uncle that
evening, in order to give her report of the morning's ride.
"Really, there is not much to be afraid of, uncle. He takes
very good care of Harry. To be sure, I had occasion several
times to check him a little; but he has this good quality in
addition to a considerable aptitude for teaching, that he perceives
a hint, and takes it at once."
Knowing her uncle's formality, and preference for precise and
judicial modes of expression, Euphra modelled her phrase to his
mind.
"I am glad he has your good opinion so far, Euphra; for I
confess there is something about the youth that pleases me. I
was afraid at first that I might be annoyed by his overstepping
the true boundaries of his position in my family: he seems to
have been in good society, too. But your assurance that he can
take a hint, lessens my apprehension considerably. To-morrow,
I will ask him to resume his seat after dessert."
This was not exactly the object of Euphra's qualified commendation
of Hugh. But she could not help it now.
"I think, however, if you approve, uncle, that it will be more
prudent to keep a little watch over the riding for a while. I
confess, too, I should be glad of a little more of that exercise
than I have had for some time: I found my seat not very secure
to-day."
"Very desirable on both considerations, my love."
And so the conference ended.
CHAPTER VIII.
NEST-BUILDING.
If you will have a tree bear more fruit than it hath used to do, it
is not anything you can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring of the
earth, and putting new mould about the roots, that must work it.
LORD BACON'S Advancement of Learning, b. ii.
IN a short time Harry's health was so much improved, and
consequently the strength and activity of his mind so much
increased, that Hugh began to give him more exact mental
operations to perform. But as if he had been a reader of Lord
Bacon, which as yet he was not, and had learned from him that
"wonder is the seed of knowledge," he came, by a kind of
sympathetic instinct, to the same conclusion practically, in the
case of Harry. He tried to wake a question in him, by showing
him something that would rouse his interest. The reply to this
question might be the whole rudiments of a science.
Things themselves should lead to the science of them. If
things are not interesting in themselves, how can any amount of
knowledge about them be? To be sure, there is such a thing as
a purely or abstractly intellectual interest — the pleasure of the
mere operation of the intellect upon the signs of things; but
this must spring from a highly exercised intellectual condition,
and is not to be expected before the pleasures of intellectual
motion have been experienced through the employment of its
means for other ends. Whether this is a higher condition or
not, is open to much disquisition.
One day Hugh was purposely engaged in taking the altitude
of the highest turret of the house, with an old quadrant he had
found in the library, when Harry came up.
"What are you doing, big brother?" said he; for now that
he was quite at home with Hugh, there was a wonderful
mixture of familiarity and respect in him, that was quite
bewitching.
"Finding out how high your house is, little brother,"
answered Hugh.
"How can you do it with that thing? Will it measure the
height of other things besides the house?"
"Yes, the height of a mountain, or anything you like."
"Do show me how."
Hugh showed him as much of it as he could.
"But I don't understand it."
"Oh! that is quite another thing. To do that, you must
learn a great many things — Euclid to begin with."
That very afternoon Harry began Euclid, and soon found
quite enough of interest on the road to the quadrant, to prevent
him from feeling any tediousness in its length.
Of an afternoon Hugh had taken to reading Shakspere to
Harry. Euphra was always a listener. On one occasion Harry
said:
"I am so sorry, Mr. Sutherland, but I don't understand the
half of it. Sometimes when Euphra and you are laughing, —
and sometimes when Euphra is crying," added he, looking at
her slyly, "I can't understand what it is all about. Am I so
very stupid, Mr. Sutherland?" And he almost cried himself.
"Not a bit of it, Harry, my boy; only you must learn a
great many other things first."
"How can I learn them? I am willing to learn anything.
I don't find it tire me now as it used."
"There are many things necessary to understand Shakspere
that I cannot teach you, and that some people never learn.
Most of them will come of themselves. But of one thing you
may be sure, Harry, that if you learn anything, whatever it be,
you are so far nearer to understanding Shakspere."
The same afternoon, when Harry had waked from his siesta,
upon which Hugh still insisted, they went out for a walk in the
fields. The sun was half way down the sky, but very hot and
sultry.
"I wish we had our cave of straw to creep into now," said
Harry. "I felt exactly like the little field-mouse you read to
me about in Burns's poems, when we went in that morning, and
found it all torn up, and half of it carried away. We have no
place to go to now for a peculiar own place; and the consequence
is, you have not told me any stories about the Romans
for a whole week."
"Well, Harry, is there any way of making another?"
"There's no more straw lying about that I know of,"
answered Harry; "and it won't do to pull the inside out of a
rick, I am afraid."
"But don't you think it would be pleasant to have a change
now; and as we have lived underground, or say in the snow
like the North people, try living in the air, like some of the
South people?"
"Delightful!" cried Harry. — "A balloon?"
"No, not quite that. Don't you think a nest would do?"
"Up in a tree?"
"Yes."
Harry darted off for a run, as the only means of expressing
his delight. When he came back, he said:
"When shall we begin, Mr. Sutherland?"
"We will go and look for a place at once; but I am not
quite sure when we shall begin yet. I shall find out to-night,
though."
They left the fields, and went into the woods in the neighbourhood
of the house, at the back. Here the trees had grown
to a great size, some of them being very old indeed. They
soon fixed upon a grotesque old oak as a proper tree in which
to build their nest; and Harry, who, as well as Hugh, had a
good deal of constructiveness in his nature, was so delighted,
that the heat seemed to have no more influence upon him; and
Hugh, fearful of the reaction, was compelled to restrain his
gambols.
Pursuing their way through the dark warp of the wood, with
its golden weft of crossing sunbeams, Hugh began to tell Harry
the story of the killing of Cæsar by Brutus and the rest, filling
up the account with portions from Shakspere. Fortunately, he
was able to give the orations of Brutus and Antony in full.
Harry was in ecstasy over the eloquence of the two men.
"Well, what language do you think they spoke, Harry?"
said Hugh.
"Why," said Harry, hesitating, "I suppose —" then, as if
a sudden light broke upon him — "Latin of course. How
strange!"
"Why strange?"
"That such men should talk such a dry, unpleasant language."

"I allow it is a difficult language, Harry; and very ponderous
and mechanical; but not necessarily dry or unpleasant. The
Romans, you know, were particularly fond of law in everything;
and so they made a great many laws for their language; or
rather, it grew so, because they were of that sort. It was like
their swords and armour generally, not very graceful, but very
strong; — like their architecture too, Harry. Nobody can ever
understand what a people is, without knowing its language. It
is not only that we find all these stories about them in their
language, but the language itself is more like them than anything
else can be. Besides, Harry, I don't believe you know
anything about Latin yet."
"I know all the declensions and conjugations."
"But don't you think it must have been a very different
thing to hear it spoken?"
"Yes, to be sure — and by such men. But how ever could
they speak it?"
"They spoke it just as you do English. It was as natural to
them. But you cannot say you know anything about it, till you
read what they wrote in it; till your ears delight in the sound
of their poetry;—"
"Poetry?"
"Yes; and beautiful letters; and wise lessons; and histories
and plays."
"Oh! I should like you to teach me. Will it be as hard to
learn always as it is now?"
"Certainly not. I am sure you will like it."
"When will you begin me?"
"To-morrow. And if you get on pretty well, we will begin
our nest, too, in the afternoon."
"Oh, how kind you are! I will try very hard."
"I am sure you will, Harry."
Next morning, accordingly, Hugh did begin him, after a
fashion of his own; namely, by giving him a short simple story
to read, finding out all the words with him in the dictionary,
and telling him what the terminations of the words signified;
for he found that he had already forgotten a very great deal of
what, according to Euphra, he had been thoroughly taught.
No one can remember what is entirely uninteresting to him. —
Hugh was as precise about the grammar of a language as any
Scotch Professor of Humanity, old Prosody not excepted; but
he thought it time enough to begin to that, when some interest
in the words themselves should have been awakened in the
mind of his pupil. He hated slovenliness as much as any one;
but the question was, how best to arrive at thoroughness in the
end, without losing the higher objects of study; and not how,
at all risks, to commence teaching the lesson of thoroughness at
once, and so waste on the shape of a pin-head the intellect
which, properly directed, might arrive at the far more minute
accuracies of a steam-engine. The fault of Euphra in teaching
Harry, had been that, with a certain kind of tyrannical accuracy,
she had determined to have the thing done — not merely
decently and in order, but prudishly and pedantically; so that
she deprived progress of the pleasure which ought naturally to
attend it. She spoiled the walk to the distant outlook, by
stopping at every step, not merely to pick flowers, but to
botanise on the weeds, and to calculate the distance advanced.
It is quite true that we ought to learn to do things irrespective
of the reward; but plenty of opportunities will be given in the
progress of life, and in much higher kinds of action, to exercise
our sense of duty in severe loneliness. We have no right to
turn intellectual exercises into pure operations of conscience:
these ought to involve essential duty; although no doubt there
is plenty of room for mingling duty with those; while, on the
other hand, the highest act of suffering self-denial is not without
its accompanying reward. Neither is there any exercise of the
higher intellectual powers in learning the mere grammar of a
language, necessary as it is for a means. And language having
been made before grammar, a language must be in some measure
understood, before its grammar can become intelligible.
Harry's weak (though true and keen) life could not force its
way into any channel. His was a nature essentially dependent
on sympathy. It could flow into truth through another
loving mind: left to itself, it could not find the way, and sank
in the dry sand of ennui and self-imposed obligations. Euphra
was utterly incapable of understanding him; and the boy had
been dying for lack of sympathy, though neither he nor any
one about him had suspected the fact.
There was a strange disproportion between his knowledge
and his capacity. He was able, when his attention was directed,
his gaze fixed, and his whole nature supported by Hugh, to see
deep into many things, and his remarks were often strikingly
original; but he was one of the most ignorant boys, for his
years, that Hugh had ever come across. A long and severe
illness, when he was just passing into boyhood, had thrown him
back far into his childhood; and he was only now beginning to
show that he had anything of the boy-life in him. Hence
arose that unequal development which has been sufficiently
evident in the story.
In the afternoon, they went to the wood, and found the tree
they had chosen for their nest. To Harry's intense admiration,
Hugh, as he said, went up the tree like a squirrel, only he was
too big for a bear even. Just one layer of foliage above the
lowest branches, he came to a place where he thought there was
a suitable foundation for the nest. From the ground Harry
could scarcely see him, as, with an axe which he had borrowed
for the purpose (for there was a carpenter's work-shop on the
premises), he cut away several small branches from three of the
principal ones; and so had these three as rafters, ready dressed
and placed, for the foundation of the nest. Having made some
measurements, he descended; and repairing with Harry to the
work-shop, procured some boarding and some tools, which Harry
assisted in carrying to the tree. Ascending again, and drawing
up his materials, by the help of Harry, with a piece of string,
Hugh in a very little while had a level floor, four feet square, in
the heart of the oak tree, quite invisible from below — buried in
a cloud of green leaves. For greater safety, he fastened ropes
as handrails all around it from one branch to another. And
now nothing remained but to construct a bench to sit on, and
such a stair as Harry could easily climb. The boy was quite
restless with anxiety to get up and see the nest; and kept
calling out constantly to know if he might not come up yet.
At length Hugh allowed him to try; but the poor boy was not
half strong enough to climb the tree without help. So Hugh
descended, and with his aid Harry was soon standing on the
new-built platform..
"I feel just like an eagle," he cried; but here his voice
faltered, and he was silent.
"What is the matter, Harry?" said his tutor.
"Oh, nothing," replied he; "only I didn't exactly know
whereabouts we were till I got up here."
"Whereabouts are we, then?"
"Close to the end of the Ghost's Walk."
"But you don't mind that now, surely, Harry?"
"No, sir; that is, not so much as I used."
"Shall I take all this down again, and build our nest somewhere
else?"
"Oh, no, if you don't think it matters. It would be a
great pity, after you have taken so much trouble with it.
Besides, I shall never be here without you; and I do not
think I should be afraid of the ghost herself, if you were
with me."
Yet Harry shuddered involuntarily at the thought of his own
daring speech
"Very well, Harry, my boy; we will finish it here. Now, if
you stand there, I will fasten a plank across here between these
two stumps — no, that won't do exactly. I must put a piece on
to this one, to raise it to a level with the other — then we shall
have a seat in a few minutes."
Hammer and nails were busy again; and in a few minutes
they sat down to enjoy the "soft pipling cold" which swung all
the leaves about like little trap-doors that opened into the Infinite.
Harry was highly contented. He drew a deep breath of satisfaction
as, looking above and beneath and all about him, he
saw that they were folded in an almost impenetrable net of
foliage, through which nothing could steal into their sanctuary,
save "the chartered libertine, the air," and a few stray beams
of the setting sun, filtering through the multitudinous leaves,
from which they caught a green tint as they passed.
"Fancy yourself a fish," said Hugh, "in the depth of a
cavern of sea weed, which floats about in the slow swinging
motion of the heavy waters."
"What a funny notion!"
"Not so absurd as you may think, Harry; for just as some
fishes crawl about on the bottom of the sea, so do we men at
the bottom of an ocean of air; which, if it be a thinner one, is
certainly a deeper one."
"Then the birds are the swimming fishes, are they not?"
"Yes, to be sure."
"And you and I are two mermen — doing what? Waiting
for mother mermaid to give us our dinner. I am getting
hungry. But it will be a long time before a mermaid gets up
here, I am afraid."
"That reminds me," said Hugh, "that I must build a stair
for you, Master Harry; for you are not merman enough to get
up with a stroke of your scaly tail. So here goes. You can sit
there till I fetch you."
Nailing a little rude bracket here and there on the stem of
the tree, just where Harry could avail himself of hand-hold as
well, Hugh had soon finished a strangely irregular staircase,
which it took Harry two or three times trying, to learn quite
off.
CHAPTER IX.
GEOGRAPHY POINT.
I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the farthest inch of Asia;
bring you the length of Prester John's foot; fetch you a hair off the great
Cham's beard; do you any embassage to the Pigmies.
Much Ado about Nothing.
THE next day, after dinner, Mr. Arnold said to the tutor;
"Well, Mr. Sutherland, how does Harry get on with his
geography?"
Mr. Arnold, be it understood, had a weakness for geography.
"We have not done anything at that yet, Mr. Arnold."
"Not done anything at geography! And the boy getting
quite robust now! I am astonished, Mr. Sutherland. Why,
when he was a mere child, he could repeat all the counties of
England."
"Perhaps that may be the reason for the decided distaste
he shows for it now, Mr. Arnold. But I will begin to teach
him at once, if you desire it."
"I do desire it, Mr. Sutherland. A thorough geographical
knowledge is essential to the education of a gentleman. Ask
me any question you please, Mr. Sutherland, on the map of the
world, or any of its divisions."
Hugh asked a few questions, which Mr. Arnold answered at
once.
"Pooh! pooh!" said he, "this is mere child's play. Let
me ask you some, Mr. Sutherland."
His very first question posed Hugh, whose knowledge in this
science was not by any means minute.
"I fear I am no gentleman," said he, laughing; "but I can at
least learn as well as teach. We shall begin to-morrow."
"What books have you?"
"Oh! no books, if you please, just yet. If you are satisfied
with Harry's progress so far, let me have my own way in this
too."
"But geography does not seem your strong point."
"No; but I may be able to teach it all the better from
feeling the difficulties of a learner myself."
"Well, you shall have a fair trial."
Next morning Hugh and Harry went out for a walk to the
top of a hill in the neighbourhood. When they reached it,
Hugh took a small compass from his pocket, and set it on the
ground, contemplating it and the horizon alternately.
"What are you doing, Mr. Sutherland?"
"I am trying to find the exact line that would go through
my home," said he.
"Is that funny little thing able to tell you?"
"Yes; this along with other things. Isn't it curious, Harry;
to have in my pocket a little thing with a kind of spirit in it,
that understands the spirit that is in the big world, and always
points to its North Pole?"
"Explain it to me."
"It is nearly as much a mystery to me as to you."
"Where is the North Pole?"
"Look, the little thing points to it."
"But I will turn it away. Oh! it won't go. It goes back
and back, do what I will."
"Yes, it will, if you turn it away all day long. Look, Harry,
if you were to go straight on in this direction, you would come
to a Laplander, harnessing his broad-horned reindeer to his
sledge. He's at it now, I daresay. If you were to go in this
line exactly, you would go through the smoke and fire of a
burning mountain in a land of ice. If you were to go this way,
straight on, you would find yourself in the middle of a forest
with a lion glaring at your feet, for it is dark night there now,
and so hot! And over there, straight on, there is such a lovely
sunset. The top of a snowy mountain is all pink with light,
though the sun is down — oh! such colours all about, like fairyland!
And there, there is a desert of sand, and a camel dying,
and all his companions just disappearing on the horizon. And
there, there is an awful sea, without a boat to be seen on it,
dark and dismal, with huge rocks all about it, and waste borders
of sand — so dreadful!"
"How do you know all this, Mr. Sutherland? You have
never walked along those lines, I know, for you couldn't."
"Geography has taught me."
"No, Mr. Sutherland!" said Harry, incredulously.
"Well, shall we travel along this line, just across that crown
of trees on the hill?"
"Yes, do let us."
"Then," said Hugh, drawing a telescope from his pocket, "this
hill is henceforth Geography Point, and all the world lies round
about it. Do you know we are in the very middle of the earth?"
"Are we, indeed?"
"Yes. Don't you know any point you like to choose on a
ball is the middle of it?"
"Oh! yes — of course."
"Very well. What lies at the bottom of the hill down
there?"
"Arnstead, to be sure."
"And what beyond there?"
"I don't know."
"Look through here."
"Oh! that must be the village we rode to yesterday — I forget
the name of it."
Hugh told him the name; and then made him look with the
telescope all along the receding line to the trees on the opposite
hill. Just as he caught them, a voice beside them said:
"What are you about, Harry?"
Hugh felt a glow of pleasure as the voice fell on his ear.
It was Euphra's.
"Oh!" replied Harry, "Mr. Sutherland is teaching me
geography with a telescope. It's such fun!"
"He's a wonderful tutor, that of yours, Harry."
"Yes, isn't he just? But," Harry went on, turning to Hugh,
"what are we to do now? We can't get farther for that hill."
"Ah! we must apply to your papa now, to lend us some of
his beautiful maps. They will teach us what lies beyond that
hill. And then we can read in some of his books about the
places; and so go on and on, till we reach the beautiful, wide,
restless sea; over which we must sail in spite of wind and tide
— straight on and on, till we come to land again. But we must
make a great many such journeys before we really know what
sort of a place we are living in; and we shall have ever so many
things to learn that will surprise us."
"Oh! it will be nice!" cried Harry.
After a little more geographical talk, they put up their instruments,
and began to descend the hill. Harry was in no need
of Hugh's back now, but Euphra was in need of his hand. In
fact, she spelled for its support.
"How awkward of me! I am stumbling over the heather
shamefully."
She was, in fact, stumbling over her own dress, which she
would not hold up. Hugh offered his hand; and her small one
seemed quite content to be swallowed up in his large one.
"Why do you never let me put you on your horse?" said
Hugh. "You always manage to prevent me somehow or other.
The last time, I just turned my head, and, behold! when I
looked, you were gathering your reins."
"It is only a trick of independence, Hugh — Mr. Sutherland —
I beg your pardon."
I can make no excuse for Euphra, for she had positively never
heard him called Hugh: there was no one to do so. But the
slip had not, therefore, the less effect; for it sounded as if she
had been saying his name over and over again to herself.
"I beg your pardon," repeated Euphra, hastily; for, as Hugh
did not reply, she feared her arrow had swerved from its mark.
"For a sweet fault, Euphra — I beg your pardon — Miss
Cameron."
"You punish me with forgiveness," returned she, with one of
her sweetest looks.
Hugh could not help pressing the little hand.
Was the pressure returned? So slight, so airy was the touch,
that it might have been only the throb of his own pulses, all
consciously vital about the wonderful woman-hand that rested
in his. If he had claimed it, she might easily have denied it,
so ethereal and uncertain was it. Yet he believed in it. He
never dreamed that she was exercising her skill upon him.
What could be her object in bewitching a poor tutor? Ah!
what indeed?
Meantime this much is certain, that she was drawing Hugh
closer and closer to her side; that a soothing dream of delight
had begun to steal over his spirit, soon to make it toss in
feverous unrest — as the first effects of some poisons are like a
dawn of tenfold strength. The mountain wind blew from her
to him, sometimes sweeping her garments about him, and bathing
him in their faint sweet odours — odours which somehow
seemed to belong to her whom they had only last visited;
sometimes, so kindly strong did it blow, compelling her, or at
least giving her excuse enough, to leave his hand and cling
closely to his arm. A fresh spring began to burst from the very
bosom of what had seemed before a perfect summer. A spring
to summer! What would the following summer be? Ah! and
what the autumn? And what the winter? For if the summer
be tenfold summer, then must the winter be tenfold winter.
But though knowledge is good for man, foreknowledge is not
so good.
And, though Love be good, a tempest of it in the brain will
not ripen the fruits like a soft steady wind, or waft the ships
home to their desired haven.
Perhaps, what enslaved Hugh most, was the feeling that the
damsel stooped to him, without knowing that she stooped. She
seemed to him in every way above him. She knew so many
things of which he was ignorant; could say such lovely things;
could, he did not doubt, write lovely verses; could sing like an
angel; (though Scotch songs are not of essentially angelic strain,
nor Italian songs either, in general; and they were all that
she could do); was mistress of a great rich wonderful house,
with a history; and, more than all, was, or appeared to him
to be — a beautiful woman. It was true that his family
was as good as hers; but he had disowned his family — so
his pride declared; and the same pride made him despise his
present position, and look upon a tutor's employment as
— as — well, as other people look upon it; as a rather contemptible
one in fact, especially for a young, powerful, six--
foot fellow.
The influence of Euphrasia was not of the best upon him from
the first; for it had greatly increased this feeling about his occupation.
It could not affect his feelings towards Harry; so
the boy did not suffer as yet. But it set him upon a very unprofitable
kind of castle-building: he would be a soldier like his
father; he would leave Arnstead, to revisit it with a sword by
his side, and a Sir before his name. Sir Hugh Sutherland would
be somebody even in the eyes of the master of Arnstead. Yes,
a six-foot fellow, though he may be sensible in the main, is not,
therefore, free from small vanities, especially if he be in love.
But how leave Euphra?
Again I outrun my story.
CHAPTER X.
ITALIAN.
Per me si va nella città dolente.
DANTE.
Through me thou goest into the city of grief.
OF necessity, with so many shafts opened into the mountain
of knowledge, a far greater amount of time must be devoted by
Harry and his tutor to the working of the mine, than they had
given hitherto. This made a considerable alteration in the intercourse
of the youth and the lady; for, although Euphra was
often present during school-hours, it must be said for Hugh that,
during those hours, he paid almost all his attention to Harry;
so much of it, indeed, that perhaps there was not enough left to
please the lady. But she did not say so. She sat beside them
in silence, occupied with her work, and saving up her glances for
use. Now and then she would read; taking an opportunity
sometimes, but not often, when a fitting pause occurred, to ask
him to explain some passage about which she was in doubt. It
must be conceded that such passages were well chosen for the
purpose; for she was too wise to do her own intellect discredit
by feigning a difficulty where she saw none; intellect being
the only gift in others for which she was conscious of any
reverence.
By-and-by she began to discontinue these visits to the schoolroom.
Perhaps she found them dull. Perhaps — but we shall
see.
One morning, in the course of their study — Euphra not present
— Hugh had occasion to go from his own room, where, for
the most part, they carried on the severer portion of their
labours, down to the library for a book, to enlighten them upon
some point on which they were in doubt. As he was passing an
open door, Euphra's voice called him. He entered, and found
himself in her private sitting-room. He had not known before
where it was.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Sutherland, for calling you, but I
am at this moment in a difficulty. I cannot manage this line in
the Inferno. Do help me."
She moved the book towards him, as he now stood by her
side, she remaining seated at her table. To his mortification,
he was compelled to confess his utter ignorance of the language.

"Oh! I am disappointed,' said Euphra.
"Not so much as I am," replied Hugh. "But could you
spare me one or two of your Italian books?"
"With pleasure," she answered, rising and going to her bookshelves.

"I want only a grammar, a dictionary, and a New Testament."

"There they are," she said, taking them down one after the
other, and bringing them to him. "I daresay you will soon get
up with poor stupid me."
"I shall do my best to get within hearing of your voice, at
least, in which Italian must be lovely."
No reply, but a sudden droop of the head.
"But," continued Hugh, "upon second thoughts, lest I should
be compelled to remain dumb, or else annoy your delicate ear
with discordant sounds, just give me one lesson in the pronunciation.
Let me hear you read a little first."
"With all my heart."
Euphra began, and read delightfully; for she was an excellent
Italian scholar. It was necessary that Hugh should look over
the book. This was difficult while he remained standing, as she
did not offer to lift it from the table. Gradually, therefore, and
hardly knowing how, he settled into a chair by her side. Half--
an-hour went by like a minute, as he listened to the silvery tones
of her voice, breaking into a bell-like sound upon the double
consonants of that sweet lady-tongue. Then it was his turn to
read and be corrected, and read again and be again corrected.
Another half-hour glided away, and yet another. But it must
be confessed he made good use of the time — if only it had been
his own to use; for at the end of it he could pronounce Italian
very tolerably — well enough, at least, to keep him from fixing
errors in his pronunciation, while studying the language alone.
Suddenly he came to himself, and looked up as from a dream.
Had she been bewitching him? He was in Euphra's room —
alone with her. And the door was shut — how or when? And
— he looked at his watch — poor little Harry had been waiting
his return from the library, for the last hour and a half. He
was conscience-stricken. He gathered up the books hastily,
thanked Euphra in the same hurried manner, and left the room
with considerable disquietude, closing the door very gently,
almost guiltily, behind him.
I am afraid Euphra had been perfectly aware that he knew
nothing about Italian. Did she see her own eyes shine in the
mirror before her, as he closed the door? Was she in love with
him, then?
When Hugh returned with the Italian books, instead of the
encyclopædia he had gone to seek, he found Harry sitting where
he had left him, with his arms and head on the table, fast
asleep.
"Poor boy!" said Hugh to himself; but he could not help
feeling glad he was asleep. He stole out of the room again,
passed the fatal door with a longing pain, found the volume of
his quest in the library, and, returning with it, sat down beside
Harry. There he sat till he awoke.
When he did awake at last, it was almost time for luncheon.
The shame-faced boy was exceedingly penitent for what was no
fault, while Hugh could not relieve him by confessing his. He
could only say:
"It was my fault, Harry dear. I stayed away too long. You
were so nicely asleep, I would not wake you. You will not need
a siesta, that is all."
He was ashamed of himself, as he uttered the false words to
the true-hearted child. But this, alas! was not the end of
it all.
Desirous of learning the language, but far more desirous of
commending himself to Euphra, Hugh began in downright-earnest.
That very evening, he felt that he had a little hold of
the language. Harry was left to his own resources. Nor was
there any harm in this in itself: Hugh had a right to part of
every day for his own uses. But then, he had been with Harry
almost every evening, or a great part of it, and the boy missed
him much; for he was not yet self-dependent. He would have
gone to Euphrasia, but somehow she happened to be engaged
that evening. So he took refuge in the library, where, in the
desolation of his spirit, Polexander began, almost immediately,
to exercise its old dreary fascination upon him. Although he
had not opened the book since Hugh had requested him to put
it away, yet he had not given up the intention of finishing it
some day; and now he took it down, and opened it listlessly,
with the intention of doing something towards the gradual redeeming
of the pledge he had given to himself. But he found
it more irksome than ever. Still he read on; till at length he
could discover no meaning at all in the sentences. Then he
began to doubt whether he had read the words. He fixed his
attention by main force on every individual word; but even
then he began to doubt whether he could say he had read the
words, for he might have missed seeing some of the letters
composing each word. He grew so nervous and miserable over
it, almost counting every letter, that at last he burst into tears,
and threw the book down.
His intellect, which in itself was excellent, was quite of the
parasitic order, requiring to wind itself about a stronger intellect,
to keep itself in the region of fresh air and possible growth.
Left to itself, its weak stem could not raise it above the ground:
it would grow and mass upon the earth, till it decayed and
corrupted, for lack of room, light, and air. But, of course, there
was no danger in the meantime. This was but the passing sadness
of an occasional loneliness.
He crept to Hugh's room, and received an invitation to enter,
in answer to his gentle knock; but Hugh was so absorbed in
his new study, that he hardly took any notice of him, and Harry
found it almost as dreary here as in the study. He would have
gone out, but a drizzling rain was falling; and he shrank into
himself at the thought of the Ghost's Walk. The dinner-bell
was a welcome summons.
Hugh, inspirited by the reaction from close attention, by the
presence of Euphra, and by the desire to make himself generally
agreeable, which sprung from the consciousness of having done
wrong, talked almost brilliantly, delighting Euphra, overcoming
Harry with reverent astonishment, and even interesting slow Mr.
Arnold. With the latter Hugh had been gradually becoming a
favourite; partly because he had discovered in him what he
considered high-minded sentiments; for, however stupid and
conventional Mr. Arnold might be, he had a foundation of sterling
worthiness of character. Euphra, instead of showing any
jealousy of this growing friendliness, favoured it in every way
in her power, and now and then alluded to it in her conversations
with Hugh, as affording her great satisfaction.
"I am so glad he likes you!" she would say.
"Why should she be glad?" thought Hugh.
This gentle claim of a kind of property in him, added considerably
to the strength of the attraction that drew him towards
her, as towards the centre of his spiritual gravitation; if indeed
that could be called spiritual which had so little of the element
of moral or spiritual admiration, or even approval, mingled with
it. He never felt that Euphra was good. He only felt that
she drew him with a vague force of feminine sovereignty — a
charm which he could no more resist or explain, than the iron
could the attraction of the loadstone. Neither could he have
said, had he really considered the matter, that she was beautiful
— only that she often, very often, looked beautiful. I suspect if
she had been rather ugly, it would have been all the same for
Hugh.
He pursued his Italian studies with a singleness of aim and
effort that carried him on rapidly. He asked no assistance from
Euphra, and said nothing to her about his progress. But he
was so absorbed in it, that it drew him still further from his
pupil. Of course he went out with him, walking or riding every
day that the weather would permit; and he had regular school
hours with him within doors. But during the latter, while
Harry was doing something on his slate, or writing, or learning
some lesson (which kind of work happened oftener now than he
could have approved of), he would take up his Italian; and,
notwithstanding Harry's quiet hints that he had finished what
had been set him, remain buried in it for a long time. When
he woke at last to the necessity of taking some notice of the
boy, he would only appoint him something else to occupy him
again, so as to leave himself free to follow his new bent. Now and
then he would become aware of his blameable neglect, and make
a feeble struggle to rectify what seemed to be growing into a
habit — and one of the worst for a tutor; but he gradually sank
back into the mire, for mire it was, comforting himself with the
resolution that as soon as he was able to read Italian without
absolutely spelling his way, he would let Euphra see what progress
he had made, and then return with renewed energy to
Harry's education, keeping up his own new accomplishment by
more moderate exercise therein. It must not be supposed, however,
that a long course of time passed in this way. At the end
of a fortnight, he thought he might venture to request Euphra
to show him the passage which had perplexed her. This time
he knew where she was — in her own room; for his mind had
begun to haunt her whereabouts. He knocked at her door,
heard the silvery, thrilling, happy sound, "Come in;" and
entered trembling.
"Would you show me the passage in Dante that perplexed
you the other day?"
Euphra looked a little surprised but got the book and
pointed it out at once.
Hugh glanced at it. His superior acquaintance with the
general forms of language enabled him, after finding two words
in Euphra's larger dictionary, to explain it, to her immediate
satisfaction.
"You astonish me," said Euphra.
"Latin gives me an advantage, you see," said Hugh modestly.

"It seems to be very wonderful, nevertheless."
These were sweet sounds to Hugh's ear. He had gained his
end. And she hers.
"Well," she said, "I have just come upon another passage
that perplexes me not a little. Will you try your powers upon
that for me?"
So saying, she proceeded to find it.
"It is school-time," said Hugh, "I fear I must not wait
now."
"Pooh! pooh! Don't make a pedagogue of yourself. You
know you are here more as a guardian — big brother, you
know — to the dear child. By the way, I am rather afraid
you are working him a little more than his constitution will
stand."
"Do you think so?" returned Hugh, quite willing to be convinced.
"I should be very sorry."
"This is the passage," said Euphra.
Hugh sat down once more at the table beside her. He found
this morsel considerably tougher than the last. But at length
he succeeded in pulling it to pieces and reconstructing it in a
simpler form for the lady. She was full of thanks and admiration.
Naturally enough, they went on to the next line, and the
next stanza, and the next and the next; till — shall I be believed?
— they had read a whole canto of the poem. Euphra
knew more words by a great many than Hugh; so that, what
with her knowledge of the words, and his insight into the construction,
they made rare progress.
"What a beautiful passage it is!" said Euphra.
"It is indeed," responded Hugh; "I never read anything
more beautiful."
"I wonder if it would be possible to turn that into English.
I should like to try."
"You mean verse, of course?"
"To be sure."
"Let us try, then. I will bring you mine when I have finished
it. I fear it will take some time, though, to do it well. Shall
it be in blank verse, or what?"
"Oh! don't you think we had better keep the Terza Rima of
the original?"
"As you please. It will add much to the difficulty."
"Recreant knight! will you shrink from following where your
lady leads?"
"Never! so help me, my good pen!" answered Hugh, and
took his departure, with burning cheeks and a trembling at the
heart. Alas! the morning was gone. Harry was not in his
study: he sought and found him in the library, apparently
buried in Polexander.
"I am so glad you are come," said Harry; "I am so tired."
"Why do you read that stupid book, then?"
"Oh! you know, I told you."
"Tut! tut! nonsense! Put it away," said Hugh, his dissatisfaction
with himself making him cross with Harry, who felt,
in consequence, ten times more desolate than before. He could
not understand the change.
If it went ill before with the hours devoted to common labour,
it went worse now. Hugh seized every gap of time, and
widened its margins shamefully, in order to work at his translation.
He found it very difficult to render the Italian in
classical and poetic English. The three rhyming words, and
the mode in which the stanzas are looped together, added
greatly to the difficulty. Blank verse he would have found quite
easy compared to this. But he would not blench. The thought
of her praise, and of the yet better favour he might gain, spurred
him on; and Harry was the sacrifice. But he would make it
all up to him, when this was once over. Indeed, he would.
Thus he baked cakes of clay to choke the barking of Cerberian
conscience. But it would growl notwithstanding.
The boy's spirit was sinking; but Hugh did not or would not
see it. His step grew less elastic. He became more listless,
more like his former self — sauntering about with his hands in
his pockets. And Hugh, of course, found himself caring less
about him; for the thought of him, rousing as it did the sense
of his own neglect, had become troublesome. Sometimes he
even passed poor Harry without speaking to him.
Gradually, however, he grew still further into the favour of
Mr. Arnold, until he seemed to have even acquired some influence
with him. Mr. Arnold would go out riding with them himself
sometimes, and express great satisfaction, not only with the way
Harry sat his pony, for which he accorded Hugh the credit due
to him, but with the way in which Hugh managed his own horse
as well. Mr. Arnold was a good horseman, and his praise was
especially grateful to Hugh, because Euphra was always near,
and always heard it. I fear, however, that his progress in the
good graces of Mr. Arnold, was, in a considerable degree, the
result of the greater anxiety to please, which sprung from the
consciousness of not deserving approbation. Pleasing was an
easy substitute for well-doing. Not acceptable to himself, he
had the greater desire to be acceptable to others; and so reflect
the side-beams of a false approbation on himself — who needed
true light and would be ill-provided for with any substitute.
For a man who is received as a millionaire can hardly help
feeling like one at times, even if he knows he has overdrawn his
banker's account. The necessity to Hugh's nature of feeling
right, drove him to this false mode of producing the false
impression. If one only wants to feel virtuous, there are several
royal roads to that end. But, fortunately, the end itself would
be unsatisfactory if gained; while not one of these roads does
more than pretend to lead even to that land of delusion.
The reaction in Hugh's mind was sometimes torturing enough.
But he had not strength to resist Euphra, and so reform.
Well or ill done, at length his translation was finished. So
was Euphra's. They exchanged papers for a private reading
first; and arranged to meet afterwards, in order to compare
criticisms.
CHAPTER XI.
THE FIRST MIDNIGHT.
Well, if anything be damned,
It will be twelve o'clock at night; that twelve
Will never scape.
CYRIL TOURNEUR. — The Revenger's Tragedy.
LETTERS arrived at Arnstead generally while the family was
seated at breakfast. One morning, the post-bag having been
brought in, Mr. Arnold opened it himself, according to his unvarying
custom; and found, amongst other letters, one in an old--
fashioned female hand, which, after reading it, he passed to Euphra.
"You remember Mrs. Elton, Euphra?"
"Quite well, uncle — a dear old lady!"
But the expression which passed across her face, rather belied
her words, and seemed to Hugh to mean: "I hope she is not
going to bore us again."
She took care, however, to show no sign with regard to the
contents of the letter; but, laying it beside her on the table,
waited to hear her uncle's mind first.
"Poor, dear girl!" said he at last. "You must try to make
her as comfortable as you can. There is consumption in the
family, you see," he added, with a meditative sigh.
"Of course I will, uncle. Poor girl! I hope there is not
much amiss though, after all."
But, as she spoke, an irrepressible flash of dislike, or displeasure
of some sort, broke from her eyes, and vanished. No
one but himself seemed to Hugh to have observed it; but he
was learned in the lady's eyes, and their weather-signs. Mr.
Arnold rose from the table and left the room, apparently to
write an answer to the letter. As soon as he was gone, Euphra
gave the letter to Hugh. He read as follows:—
"MY DEAR MR. ARNOLD,
"Will you extend the hospitality of your beautiful
house to me and my young friend, who has the honour of being
your relative, Lady Emily Lake? For some time her health
has seemed to be failing, and she is ordered to spend the winter
abroad, at Pau, or somewhere in the south of France. It is
considered highly desirable that in the meantime she should
have as much change as possible; and it occurred to me,
remembering the charming month I passed at your seat, and
recalling the fact that Lady Emily is cousin only once removed
to your late most lovely wife, that there would be no impropriety
in writing to ask you whether you could, without inconvenience,
receive us as your guests for a short time. I say us;
for the dear girl has taken such a fancy to unworthy old me,
that she almost refuses to set out without me. Not to be
cumbersome either to our friends or ourselves, we shall bring
only our two maids, and a steady old man-servant, who has been
in my family for many years. — I trust you will not hesitate to
refuse my request, should I happen to have made it at an unsuitable
season; assured, as you must be, that we cannot attribute
the refusal to any lack of hospitality or friendliness on your
part. At all events, I trust you will excuse;what seems — now
I have committed it to paper — a great liberty, I hope not presumption,
on mine. I am, my dear Mr. Arnold,
"Yours most sincerely,
"HANNAH ELTON."
Hugh refolded the letter, and laid it down without remark.
Harry had left the room.
"Isn't it a bore?" said Euphra.
Hugh answered only by a look. A pause followed.
"Who is Mrs. Elton?" he said at last.
"Oh, a good-hearted creature enough. Frightfully prosy."
"But that is a well-written letter?"
"Oh, yes. She is famed for her letter-writing; and, I believe,
practises every morning on a slate. It is the only thing that
redeems her from absolute stupidity."
Euphra, with her taper fore-finger, tapped the table-cloth
impatiently, and shifted back in her chair, as if struggling with
an inward annoyance.
"And what sort of person is Lady Emily?" asked Hugh.
"I have never seen her. Some blue-eyed milk-maid with a
title, I suppose. And in a consumption, too! I presume the
dear girl is as religious as the old one. — Good heavens! what
shall we do?" she burst out at length; and, rising from her
chair, she paced about the room hurriedly, but all the time with
a gliding kind of footfall, that would have shaken none but the
craziest floor.
"Dear Euphra!" Hugh ventured to say, "never mind. Let
us try to make the best of it."
She stopped in her walk, turned towards him, smiled as if
ashamed and delighted at the same moment, and slid out of the
room. Had Euphra been the same all through, she could
hardly have smiled so without being in love with Hugh.
That morning he sought her again in her room. They talked
over their versions of Dante. Hugh's was certainly the best,
for he was more practised in such things than Euphra. He
showed her many faults, which she at once perceived to be
faults, and so rose in his estimation. But at the same time
there were individual lines and passages of hers, which he considered
not merely better than the corresponding lines and
passages, but better than any part of his version. This he was
delighted to say; and she seemed as delighted that he should
think so. A great part of the morning was spent thus.
"I cannot stay longer," said Hugh.
"Let us read for an hour, then, after we come up stairs
to-night."
"With more pleasure than I dare to say."
"But you mean what you do say?"
"You can doubt it no more than myself."
Yet he did not like Euphra's making the proposal. No more
did he like the flippant, almost cruel way in which she referred
to Lady Emily's illness. But he put it down to annoyance and
haste — got over it somehow — anyhow; and began to feel that
if she were a devil he could not help loving her, and would not
help it if he could. The hope of meeting her alone that night,
gave him spirit and energy with Harry; and the poor boy was
more cheery and active than he had been for some time. He
thought his big brother was going to love him again as at the
first. Hugh's treatment of his pupil might still have seemed
kind from another, but Harry felt it a great change in him.
In the course of the day, Euphra took an opportunity of
whispering to him:
"Not in my room — in the library." I presume she thought
it would be more prudent, in the case of any interruption.
After dinner that evening, Hugh did not go to the drawing--
room with Mr. Arnold, but out into the woods about the house.
It was early in the twilight; for now the sun set late. The
month was June; and the even a rich, dreamful, rosy even —
the sleep of a gorgeous day. "It is like the soul of a gracious
woman," thought Hugh, charmed into a lucid interval of passion
by the loveliness of the nature around him. Strange to tell, at
that moment, instead of the hushed gloom of the library,
towards which he was hoping and leaning in his soul, there
arose before him the bare, stern, leafless pine-wood — for who
can call its foliage leaves? — with the chilly wind of a northern
spring morning blowing through it with a wailing noise of
waters; and beneath a weird fir-tree, lofty, gaunt, and huge,
with bare goblin arms, contorted sweepily, in a strange mingling
of the sublime and the grotesque — beneath this fir-tree, Margaret
sitting on one of its twisted roots, the very image of
peace, with a face that seemed stilled by the expected approach
of a sacred and unknown gladness; a face that would blossom
the more gloriously because its joy delayed its coming. And
above it, the tree shone a "still," almost "awful red," in the
level light of the morning.
The vision came and passed, for he did not invite its stay:
it rebuked him to the deepest soul. He strayed in troubled
pleasure, restless and dissatisfied. Woods of the richest growth
were around him; heaps on heaps of leaves floating above him
like clouds, a trackless wilderness of airy green, wherein one
might wish to dwell for ever, looking down into the vaults and
aisles of the long-ranging boles beneath. But no peace could
rest on his face; only, at best, a false mask, put on to hide the
trouble of the unresting heart. Had he been doing his duty to
Harry, his love for Euphra, however unworthy she might be,
would not have troubled him thus.
He came upon an avenue. At the further end the boughs of
the old trees, bare of leaves beneath, met in a perfect pointed
arch, across which were barred the lingering colours of the
sunset, transforming the whole into a rich window full of stained
glass and complex tracery, closing up a Gothic aisle in a temple
of everlasting worship. A kind of holy calm fell upon him as he
regarded the dim, dying colours; and the spirit of the night, a
something that is neither silence nor sound, and yet is like both,
sank into his soul, and made a moment of summer twilight
there. He walked along the avenue for some distance; and
then, leaving it, passed on through the woods. — Suddenly it
flashed upon him that he had crossed the Ghost's Walk. A
slight but cold shudder passed through the region of his heart.
Then he laughed at himself, and, as it were in despite of his
own tremor, turned, and crossed yet again the path of the
ghost.
A spiritual epicure in his pleasures, he would not spoil the
effect of the coming meeting, by seeing Euphra in the drawing--
room first: he went to his own study, where he remained till
the hour had nearly arrived. He tried to write some verses.
But he found that, although the lovely form of its own Naiad
lay on the brink of the Well of Song, its waters would not flow:
during the sirocco of passion, its springs withdraw into the cool
caves of the Life beneath. At length he rose, too much preoccupied
to mind his want of success; and, going down the back
stair, reached the library. There he seated himself, and tried
to read by the light of his chamber-candle. But it was scarcely
even an attempt, for every moment he was looking up to the
door by which he expected her to enter.
Suddenly an increase of light warned him that she was in. the
room. How she had entered he could not tell. One hand
carried her candle, the light of which fell on her pale face, with
its halo of blackness — her hair, which looked like a well of
darkness, that threatened to break from its bonds and overflood
the room with a second night, dark enough to blot out that
which was now looking in, treeful and deep, at the uncurtained
windows. The other hand was busy trying to incarcerate a
stray tress which had escaped from its net, and made her olive
shoulders look white beside it.
"Let it alone," said Hugh, "let it be beautiful."
But she gently repelled the hand he raised to hers, and,
though she was forced to put down her candle first, persisted in
confining the refractory tress; then seated herself at the table,
and taking from her pocket the manuscript which Hugh had
been criticising in the morning, unfolded it, and showed him, all
the passages he had objected to, neatly corrected or altered.
It was wonderfully done for the time she had had. He went
over it all with her again, seated close to her, their faces almost
meeting as they followed the lines. They had just finished it,
and were about to commence reading from the original, when
Hugh, who missed a sheet of Euphra's translation, stooped
under the table to look for it. A few moments were spent in
the search, before he discovered that Euphra's foot was upon
it. He begged her to move a little, but received no reply either
by word or act. Looking up in some alarm, he saw that she
was either asleep or in a faint. By an impulse inexplicable to
himself at the time, he went at once to the windows, and drew
down the green blinds. When he turned towards her again,
she was reviving or awaking, he could not tell which.
"How stupid of me to go to sleep!" she said. "Let us go
on with our reading."
They had read for about half an hour, when three taps upon
one of the windows, slight, but peculiar, and as if given with
the point of a finger, suddenly startled them. Hugh turned at
once towards the windows; but, of course, he could see nothing,
having just lowered the blinds. He turned again towards
Euphra. She had a strange wild look; her lips were slightly
parted, and her nostrils wide; her face was rigid, and glimmering
pale as death from the cloud of her black hair.
"What was it?" said Hugh, affected by her fear with the
horror of the unknown. But she made no answer, and continued
staring towards one of the windows. He rose and was
about to advance to it, when she caught him by the hand with
a grasp of which hers would have been incapable except under
the influence of terror. At that moment a clock in the room
began to strike. It was a slow clock, and went on deliberately,
striking one … two … three … till it had struck twelve.
Every stroke was a blow from the hammer of fear, and his heart
was the bell. He could not breathe for dread so long as the
awful clock was striking. When it had ended, they looked at
each other again, and Hugh breathed once.
"Euphra!" he sighed.
But she made no answer; she turned her eyes again to one
of the windows. They were both standing. He sought to
draw her to him, but she yielded no more than a marble
statue.
"I crossed the Ghost's Walk to-night," said he, in a hard
whisper, scarcely knowing that he uttered it, till he heard his
own words. They seemed to fall upon his ear as if spoken by
some one outside the room. She looked at him once more, and
kept looking with a fixed stare. Gradually her face became less
rigid, and her eyes less wild. She could move at last.
"Come, come," she said, in a hurried whisper. "Let us go —
no, no, not that way;" — as Hugh would have led her towards
the private stair — "let us go the front way, by the oak
staircase."
They went up together. When they reached the door of
her room, she said, "Good night," without even looking at him,
and passed in. Hugh went on, in a state of utter bewilderment,
to his own apartment; shut the door and locked it — a
thing he had never done before; lighted both the candles on
his table; and then walked up and down the room, trying, like
one aware that he is dreaming, to come to his real self.
"Pshaw!" he said at last. "It was only a little bird, or a
large moth. How odd it is that darkness can make a fool of
one! I am ashamed of myself. I wish I had gone out at the
window, if only to show Euphra I was not afraid, though of
course there was nothing to be seen."
As he said this in his mind, — he could not have spoken it
aloud, for fear of hearing his own voice in the solitude, — he
went to one of the windows of his sitting-room, which was nearly
over the library, and looked into the wood. — Could it be? —
Yes. — He did see something white, gliding through the wood,
away in the direction of the Ghost's Walk. It vanished; and
he saw it no more.
The morning was far advanced before he could go to bed.
When the first light of the aurora broke the sky, he looked out
again; — and the first glimmerings of the morning in the wood
were more dreadful than the deepest darkness of the past night.
Possessed by a new horror, he thought how awful it would be
to see a belated ghost, hurrying away in helpless haste. The
spectre would be yet more terrible in the grey light of the
coming day, and the azure breezes of the morning, which to it
would be like a new and more fearful death, than amidst its
own homely sepulchral darkness; while the silence all around
— silence in light — could befit only that dread season of loneliness
when men are lost in sleep, and ghosts, if they walk at all,
walk in dismay.
But at length fear yielded to sleep, though still he troubled
her short reign.
When he awoke, he found it so late, that it was all he could
do to get down in time for breakfast. But so anxious was he
not to be later than usual, that he was in the room before Mr.
Arnold made his appearance. Euphra, however, was there
before him. She greeted him in the usual way, quite circumspectly.
But she looked troubled. Her face was very pale,
and her eyes were red, as if from sleeplessness or weeping.
When her uncle entered, she addressed him with more gaiety
than usual, and he did not perceive that anything was amiss
with her. But the whole of that day she walked as in a reverie,
avoiding Hugh two or three times that they chanced to meet
without a third person in the neighbourhood. Once in the
forenoon — when she was generally to be found in her room — he
could not refrain from trying to see her. The change and the
mystery were insupportable to him. But when he tapped at
her door, no answer came; and he walked back to Harry,
feeling, as if, by an unknown door in his own soul, he had been
shut out of the half of his being. Or rather — a wall seemed to
have been built right before his eyes, which still was there
wherever he went.
As to the gliding phantom of the previous night, the day
denied it all, telling him it was but the coinage of his own over
wrought brain, weakened by prolonged tension of the intellect,
and excited by the presence of Euphra at an hour claimed by
phantoms when not yielded to sleep. This was the easiest and
most natural way of disposing of the difficulty. The cloud
around Euphra hid the ghost in its skirts.
Although fear in some measure returned with the returning
shadows, he yet resolved to try to get Euphra to meet him
again in the library that night. But she never gave him a
chance of even dropping a hint to that purpose. She had not
gone out with them in the morning; and when he followed her
into the drawing-room, she was already at the piano. He
thought he might convey his wish without interrupting the
music; but as often as he approached her, she broke, or rather
glided, out into song, as if she had been singing in an undertone
all the while. He could not help seeing she did not intend to
let him speak to her. But, all the time, whatever she sang was
something she knew he liked; and as often as she spoke to
him in the hearing of her uncle or cousin, it was in a manner
peculiarly graceful and simple.
He could not understand her; and was more bewitched, more
fascinated than ever, by seeing her through the folds of the
incomprehensible, in which element she had wrapped herself
from his nearer vision. She had always seemed above him —
now she seemed miles away as well; a region of Paradise, into
which he was forbidden to enter. Everything about her, to her
handkerchief and her gloves, was haunted by a vague mystery
of worshipfulness, and drew him towards it with wonder and
trembling. When they parted for the night, she shook hands
with him with a cool frankness, that put him nearly beside
himself with despair; and when he found himself in his
own room, it was some time before he could collect his
thoughts. Having succeeded, however, he resolved, in spite of
growing fears, to go to the library, and see whether it were not
possible she might be there. He took up a candle, and went
down the back stair. But when he opened the library door, a
gust of wind blew his candle out; all was darkness within; a
sudden horror seized him; and, afraid of yielding to the inclination
to bound up the stair, lest he should go wild with the
terror of pursuit, he crept slowly back, feeling his way to his
own room with a determined deliberateness. — Could the library
window have been left open? Else whence the gust of wind?
Next day, and the next, and the next, he fared no better:
her behaviour continued the same; and she allowed him no
opportunity of requesting an explanation.
CHAPTER XII.
A SUNDAY.
A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only
because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without
knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he
holds becomes his heresy. — MILTON. — Areopagitica.
AT length the expected visitors arrived. Hugh saw nothing
of them till they assembled for dinner. Mrs. Elton was a benevolent
old lady — not old enough to give in to being old — rather
tall, and rather stout, in rich widow-costume, whose depth had
been moderated by time. Her kindly grey eyes looked out from
a calm face, which seemed to have taken comfort from loving
everybody in a mild and moderate fashion. Lady Emily was a
slender girl, rather shy, with fair hair, and a pale innocent face.
She wore a violet dress, which put out her blue eyes. She
showed to no advantage beside the suppressed glow of life
which made Euphra look like a tropical twilight — I am aware
there is no such thing, but if there were, it would be just like
her.
Mrs. Elton seemed to have concentrated the motherhood of
her nature, which was her most prominent characteristic, notwithstanding
— or perhaps in virtue of — her childlessness, upon
Lady Emily. To her Mrs. Elton was solicitously attentive; and
she, on her part, received it all sweetly and gratefully, taking
no umbrage at being treated as more of an invalid than she
was.
Lady Emily ate nothing but chicken, and custard-pudding or
rice, all the time she was at Arnstead.
The richer and more seasoned any dish, the more grateful it
was to Euphra.
Mr. Arnold was a saddle-of-mutton man.
Hugh preferred roast-beef, but ate anything.
"What sort of a clergyman have you now, Mr. Arnold?"
asked Mrs. Elton, at the dinner-table.
"Oh! a very respectable young gentleman, brother to Sir
Richard, who has the gift, you know. A very moderate, excellent
clergyman he makes, too!"
"Ah! but you know, Lady Emily and I" — here she looked
at Lady Emily, who smiled and blushed faintly, "are very
dependent on our Sundays, and" —
"We all go to church regularly, I assure you, Mrs. Elton;
and of course my carriage shall be always at your disposal."
"I was in no doubt about either of those things, indeed,
Mr. Arnold. But what sort of a preacher is he?"
"Ah, well! let me see. — What was the subject of his sermon
last Sunday, Euphra, my dear?"
"The devil and all his angels," answered Euphra, with a
wicked flash in her eyes.
"Yes, yes; so it was. Oh! I assure you, Mrs. Elton, he is
quite a respectable preacher, as well as clergyman. He is an
honour to the cloth."
Hugh could not help thinking that the tailor should have his
due, and that Mr. Arnold gave it him.
"He is no Puseyite either," added Mr. Arnold, seeing but
not understanding Mrs. Elton's baffled expression, "though he
does preach once a month in his surplice."
"I am afraid you will not find him very original, though,"
said Hugh, wishing to help the old lady.
"Original!" interposed Mr. Arnold. "Really, I am bound to
say I don't know how the remark applies. How is a man to
be original on a subject that is all laid down in plain print — to
use a vulgar expression — and has been commented upon for
eighteen hundred years and more?"
"Very true, Mr. Arnold," responded Mrs. Elton. "We
don't want originality, do we? It is only the gospel we want.
Does he preach the gospel?"
"How can he preach anything else? His text is always out
of some part of the Bible."
"I am glad to see you hold by the Inspiration of the Scriptures,
Mr. Arnold," said Mrs. Elton, chaotically bewildered.
"Good heavens! Madam, what do you mean? Could you
for a moment suppose me to be an atheist? Surely you have
not become a student of German Neology?" And Mr. Arnold
smiled a grim smile.
"Not I, indeed!" protested poor Mrs. Elton, moving uneasily
in her seat; — "I quite agree with you, Mr. Arnold."
"Then you may take my word for it, that you will hear
nothing but what is highly orthodox, and perfectly worthy of a
gentleman and a clergyman, from the pulpit of Mr. Penfold.
He dined with us only last week."
This last assertion was made in an injured tone, just sufficient
to curl the tail of the sentence. After which, what was
to be said?
Several vain attempts followed, before a new subject was
started, sufficiently uninteresting to cause, neither from warmth
nor stupidity, any danger of dissension, and quite worthy of
being here omitted.
Dinner over, and the ceremony of tea — in Lady Emily's case,
milk and water — having been observed, the visitors withdrew.
The next day was Sunday. Lady Emily came down stairs in
black, which suited her better. She was a pretty, gentle creature,
interesting from her illness, and good, because she knew no
evil, except what she heard of from the pulpit. They walked
to church, which was at no great distance, along a meadow-path
paved with flags, some of them worn through by the heavy
shoes of country generations. The church was one of those
which are, in some measure, typical of the Church itself; for it
was very old, and would have been very beautiful, had it not
been all plastered over, and whitened to a smooth uniformity of
ugliness — the attempt having been more successful in the case
of the type. The open roof had had a French heaven added to
it — I mean a ceiling; and the pillars, which, even if they were
not carved — though it was impossible to come to a conclusion on
that point — must yet have been worn into the beauty of age,
had been filled up, and stained with yellow ochre. Even the
remnants of stained glass in some of the windows, were half
concealed by modern appliances for the partial exclusion of the
light. The church had fared as Chaucer in the hands of
Dryden. So had the truth, that flickered through the sermon,
fared in the hands of the clergyman, or of the sermon-wright
whose manuscript he had bought for eighteen pence — I am told
that sermons are to be procured at that price — on his last visit
to London. Having, although a Scotchman, had an episcopalian
education, Hugh could not help rejoicing that not merely
the Bible, but the Church-service as well, had been fixed beyond
the reach of such degenerating influences as those which had
operated on the more material embodiments of religion; for
otherwise such would certainly have been the first to operate,
and would have found the greatest scope in any alteration. We
may hope that nothing but a true growth in such religion as
needs and seeks new expression for new depth and breadth of
feeling, will ever be permitted to lay the hand of change upon
it — a hand, otherwise, of desecration and ruin.
The sermon was chiefly occupied with proving that God is no
respecter of persons; a mark of indubitable condescension in
the clergyman, the rank in society which he could claim for
himself duly considered. But, unfortunately, the church was
so constructed, that its area contained three platforms of position,
actually of differing level; the loftiest, in the chancel, on
the right hand of the pulpit, occupied by the gentry; the
middle, opposite the pulpit, occupied by the tulip-beds of their
servants; and the third, on the left of the pulpit, occupied by
the common parishioners. Unfortunately, too, by the perpetuation
of some old custom, whose significance was not worn out,
all on the left of the pulpit were expected, as often as they stood
up to sing — which was three times — to turn their backs to the
pulpit, and so face away from the chancel where the gentry
stood. But there was not much inconsistency, after all; the
sermon founding its argument chiefly on the antithetical facts,
that death, lowering the rich to the level of the poor, was a
dead leveller; and that, on the other hand, the life to come
would raise the poor to the level of the rich. It was a pity
that there was no phrase in the language to justify him in
carrying out the antithesis, and so balancing his sentence like a
rope-walker, by saying that life was a live leveller. The sermon
ended with a solemn warning: "Those who neglect the gospel--
scheme, and never think of death and judgment — be they
rich or poor, be they wise or ignorant — whether they dwell in
the palace or the hut — shall be damned. Glory be to the
Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," &c.
Lady Emily was forced to confess that she had not been
much interested in the sermon. Mrs. Elton thought he spoke
plainly, but there was not much of the gospel in it. Mr. Arnold
opined that people should not go to church to hear sermons, but
to make the responses; whoever read prayers, it made no difference,
for the prayers were the Church's, not the parson's;
and for the sermon, as long as it showed the uneducated how to
be saved, and taught them to do their duty in the station of life
to which God had called them, and so long as the parson
preached neither Puseyism nor Radicalism — (he frowned solemnly
and disgustedly as he repeated the word) — nor Radicalism,
it was of comparatively little moment whether he was a
man of intellect or not, for he could not go wrong.
Little was said in reply to this, except something not very
audible or definite, by Mrs. Elton, about the necessity of faith.
The conversation, which took place at luncheon, flagged, and the
visitors withdrew to their respective rooms, to comfort themselves
with their Daily Portions.
At dinner, Mr. Arnold, evidently believing he had made
an impression by his harangue of the morning, resumed
the subject. Hugh was a little surprised to find that he
had, even of a negative sort, strong opinions on the subject
of religion.
"What do you think, then, Mrs. Elton, my dear madam,
that a clergyman ought to preach?"
"I think, Mr. Arnold, that he ought to preach salvation by
faith in the merits of the Saviour."
"Oh! of course, of course. We shall not differ about that.
Everybody believes that."
"I doubt it very much. — He ought, in order that men may
believe, to explain the divine plan, by which the demands of
divine justice are satisfied, and the punishment due to sin
averted from the guilty, and laid upon the innocent; that, by
bearing our sins, he might make atonement to the wrath of a
justly offended God; and so
"Now, my dear madam, permit me to ask what right we, the
subjects of a Supreme Authority, have to inquire into the
reasons of his doings? It seems to me — I should be sorry to
offend any one, but it seems to me quite as presumptuous as
the present arrogance of the lower classes in interfering with
government, and demanding a right to give their opinion, forsooth,
as to the laws by which they shall be governed; as if
they were capable of understanding the principles by which
kings rule, and governors decree justice. — I believe I quote
Scripture."
"Are we, then, to remain in utter ignorance of the divine
character?"
"What business have we with the divine character? Or how
could we understand it? It seems to me we have enough to do
with our own. Do I inquire into the character of my sovereign?
All we have to do is, to listen to what we are told by
those who are educated for such studies, whom the Church
approves, and who are appointed to take care of the souls committed
to their charge; to teach them to respect their superiors,
and to lead honest, hard-working lives."
Much more of the same sort flowed from the oracular lips of
Mr. Arnold. When he ceased, he found that the conversation
had ceased also. As soon as the ladies withdrew, he said, without
looking at Hugh, as he filled his glass:
"Mr. Sutherland, I hate cant."
And so he canted against it.
But the next day, and during the whole week, he seemed to
lay himself out to make amends for the sharpness of his remarks
on the Sunday. He was afraid he had made his guests uncomfortable,
and so sinned against his own character as a host.
Everything that he could devise, was brought to bear for their
entertainment; daily rides in the open carriage, in which he
always accompanied them, to show his estate, and the improvements
he was making upon it; visits sometimes to the more
deserving, as he called them, of the poor upon his property — the
more deserving being the most submissive and obedient to the
wishes of their lord; inspections of the schools, &c., &.; in all
of which matters he took a stupid, benevolent interest. For if
people would be content to occupy the corner in which he chose
to place them, he would throw them morsel after morsel, as long
as ever they chose to pick it up. But woe to them if they left
this corner a single pace!
Euphra made one of the party always; and it was dreary
indeed for Hugh to be left in the desolate house without her,
though but for a few hours. And when she was at home, she
never yet permitted him to speak to her alone.
There might have been some hope for Harry in Hugh's separation
from Euphra; but the result was, that, although he
spent school-hours more regularly with him, Hugh was yet more
dull, and uninterested in the work, than he had been before.
Instead of caring that his pupil should understand this or that
particular, he would be speculating on Euphra's behaviour,
trying to account for this or that individual look or tone, or
seeking, perhaps, a special symbolic meaning in some general
remark that she had happened to let fall. Meanwhile, poor
Harry would be stupifying himself with work which he could
not understand for lack of some explanation or other that ought
to have been given him weeks ago. Still, however, he clung to
Hugh with a far-off, worshipping love, never suspecting that he
could be to blame, but thinking at one time that he must be
ill, at another that he himself was really too stupid, and that
his big brother could not help getting tired of him. When
Hugh would be wandering about the place, seeking to catch a
glimpse of the skirt of Euphra's dress, as she went about with
her guests, or devising how he could procure an interview with
her alone, Harry would be following him at a distance, like a
little terrier that had lost its master, and did not know whether
this man would be friendly or not; never spying on his actions,
but merely longing to be near him — for had not Hugh set him
going in the way of life, even if he had now left him to walk in
it alone? If Hugh could have once seen into that warm, true,
pining little heart, he would not have neglected it as he did.
He had no eyes, however, but for Euphra.
Still, it may be that even now Harry was able to gather,
though with tears, some advantage from Hugh's neglect. He
used to wander about alone; and it may be that the hints which
his tutor had already given him, enabled him now to find for
himself the interest belonging to many objects never before remarked.
Perhaps even now he began to take a few steps alone;
the waking independence of which was of more value for the
future growth of his nature, than a thousand miles accomplished
by the aid of the strong arm of his tutor. One certain
advantage was, that the constitutional trouble of the boy's
nature had now assumed a definite form, by gathering around
a definite object, and blending its own shadowy being with the
sorrow he experienced from the loss of his tutor's sympathy.
Should that sorrow ever be cleared away, much besides might be.
cleared away along with it.
Meantime, nature found some channels, worn by his grief,
through which her comforts, that, like waters, press on all sides,
and enter at every cranny and fissure in the house of life, might
gently flow into him with their sympathetic soothing. Often
he would creep away to the nest which Hugh had built and
then forsaken; and seated there in the solitude of the wide--
bourgeoned oak, he would sometimes feel for a moment as if
lifted up above the world and its sorrows, to be visited by an
all-healing wind from God, that came to him, through the
wilderness of leaves around him — gently, like all powerful
things.
But I am putting the boy's feelings into forms and words for
him. He had none of either for them.
CHAPTER XIII.
A STORM.
When the mind's free,
The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there.
King Lear.
WHILE Harry took to wandering abroad in the afternoon sun,
Hugh, on the contrary, found the bright weather so distasteful
to him, that he generally trifled away his afternoons with some
old romance in the dark library, or lay on the couch in his
study, listless and suffering. He could neither read nor write.
What he felt he must do he did; but nothing more.
One day, about noon, the weather began to change. In the
afternoon it grew dark; and Hugh, going to the window, perceived
with delight — the first he had experienced for many days
— that a great thunder-storm was at hand. Harry was rather
frightened; but under his fear, there evidently lay a deep
delight. The storm came nearer and nearer; till at length
a vivid flash broke from the mass of darkness over the woods,
lasted for one brilliant moment, and vanished. The thunder
followed, like a pursuing wild beast, close on the traces of the
vanishing light; as if the darkness were hunting the light from
the earth, and bellowing with rage that it could not overtake
and annihilate it. Without the usual prelude of a few great
drops, the rain poured at once, in continuous streams, from the
dense canopy overhead; and in a few moments there were six
inches of water all round the house, which the force of the
falling streams made to foam, and fume, and flash like a seething
torrent. Harry had crept close to Hugh, who stood looking out
of the window; and as if the convulsion of the elements had
begun to clear the spiritual and moral, as well as the physical
atmosphere, Hugh looked down on the boy kindly, and put his
arm round his shoulders. Harry nestled closer, and wished it
would thunder for ever. But longing to hear his tutor's voice,
he ventured to speak, looking up to his face:
"Euphra says it is only electricity, Mr. Sutherland. What is
that?"
A common tutor would have seized the opportunity of
explaining what he knew of the laws and operations of electricity.
But Hugh had been long enough a pupil of David to
feel that to talk at such a time of anything in nature but God,
would be to do the boy a serious wrong. One capable of so
doing would, in the presence of the Saviour himself, speculate
on the nature of his own faith; or upon the death of his child,
seize the opportunity of lecturing on anatomy. But before
Hugh could make any reply, a flash, almost invisible from excess
of light, was accompanied rather than followed by a roar that
made the house shake; and in a moment more the room was
filled with the terrified household, which, by an unreasoning
impulse, rushed to the neighbourhood of him who was considered
the strongest. — Mr. Arnold was not at home.
"Come from the window instantly, Mr. Sutherland. How
can you be so imprudent!" cried Mrs. Elton, her usually calm
voice elevated in command, but tremulous with fear.
"Why, Mrs. Elton," answered Hugh, on whose temper, as
well as conduct, recent events had had their operation, "do you
think the devil makes the thunder?"
Lady Emily gave a faint shriek, whether out of reverence for
the devil, or fear of God, I hesitate to decide; and flitting out
of the room, dived into her bed, and drew the clothes over her
head — at least so she was found at a later period of the day.
Euphra walked up to the window beside Hugh, as if to show her
approval of his rudeness; and stood looking out with eyes that
filled their own night with home-born flashes, though her lip was
pale, and quivered a little. Mrs. Elton, confounded at Hugh's
reply, and perhaps fearing the house might in consequence share
the fate of Sodom, notwithstanding the presence of a goodly
proportion of the righteous, fled, accompanied by the housekeeper,
to the wine-cellar. The rest of the household crept into
corners, except the coachman, who, retaining his composure, in
virtue of a greater degree of insensibility from his nearer
approximation to the inanimate creation, emptied the jug of ale
intended for the dinner of the company, and went out to look
after his horses.
But there was one in the house who, left alone, threw the
window wide open; and, with gently clasped hands and calm
countenance, looked up into the heavens; and the clearness of
whose eye seemed the prophetic symbol of the clearness that
rose all untroubled above the turmoil of the earthly storm.
Truly God was in the storm; but there was more of God in the
clear heaven beyond; and yet more of Him in the eye that
regarded the whole with a still joy, in which was mingled no
dismay.
Euphra, Hugh, and Harry were left together, looking out
upon the storm. Hugh could not speak in Harry's presence.
At length the boy sat down in a dark corner on the floor, concealed
from the others by a window-curtain. Hugh thought he
had left the room.
"Euphra," he began.
Euphra looked round for Harry, and not seeing him, thought
likewise that he had left the room: she glided away without
making any answer to Hugh's invocation.
He stood for a few moments in motionless despair; then
glancing round the room, and taking in all its desertedness,
caught up his hat, and rushed out into the storm. It was the
best relief his feelings could have had; for the sullen gloom,
alternated with bursts of flame, invasions of horrid uproar, and
long wailing blasts of tyrannous wind, gave him his own mood
to walk in; met his spirit with its own element; widened, as it
were, his microcosm to the expanse of the macrocosm around
him. All the walls of separation were thrown down, and he
lived, not in his own frame, but in the universal frame of nature.
The world was for the time, to the reality of his feeling, what
Sehleiermacher, in his Monologen, describes it as being to man,
an extension of the body in which he dwells. His spirit flashed
in the lightning, raved in the thunder, moaned in the wind, and
wept in the rain.
But this could not last long, either without or within him.
He came to himself in the woods. How far he had wandered,
or whereabout he was, he did not know. The storm had died
away, and all that remained was the wind and the rain. The
tree-tops swayed wildly in the irregular blasts, and shook new,
fitful, distracted, and momentary showers upon him. It was
evening, but what hour of the evening he could not tell. He
was wet to the skin; but that to a young Scotchman is a matter
of little moment.
Although he had no intention of returning home for some
time, and meant especially to avoid the dinner-table — for, in the
mood he was in, it seemed more than he could endure — he yet
felt the weakness to which we are subject as embodied beings,
in a common enough form; that, namely, of the necessity of
knowing the precise portion of space which at the moment we
fill; a conviction of our identity not being sufficient to make
us comfortable, without a knowledge of our locality. So, looking
all about him, and finding where the wood seemed thinnest,
he went in that direction; and soon, by forcing his way through
obstacles of all salvage kinds, found himself in the high road,
within a quarter of a mile of the country town next to Arnstead,
removed from it about three miles. This little town he knew
pretty well; and, beginning to feel exhausted, resolved to go to
an inn there, dry his clothes, and then walk back in the moonlight;
for he felt sure the storm would be quite over in an hour
or so. The fatigue he now felt was proof enough in itself, that
the inward storm had, for the time, raved itself off; and now —
must it be confessed? — he wished very much for something to
eat and drink.
He was soon seated by a blazing fire, with a chop and a jug of
ale before him.
CHAPTER XIV.
AN EVENING LECTURE.
The Nightmare
Shall call thee when it walks.
MIDDLETON. — Th Witch.
THE inn to which Hugh had betaken himself, though not the
first in the town, was yet what is called a respectable house,
and was possessed of a room of considerable size, in which the
farmers of the neighbourhood were accustomed to hold their
gatherings. While eating his dinner, Hugh learned from the
conversation around him — for he sat in the kitchen for the sake
of the fire — that this room was being got ready for a lecture on
Bilology, as the landlady called it. Bills in red and blue had
been posted all over the town; and before he had finished his
dinner, the audience had begun to arrive. Partly from curiosity
about a subject of which he knew nothing, and partly because it
still rained, and, having got nearly dry, he did not care about
a second wetting if he could help it, Hugh resolved to make one
of them. So he stood by the fire till he was informed that the
lecturer had made his appearance, when he went up-stairs, paid
his shilling, and was admitted to one of the front seats. The
room was tolerably lighted with gas; and a platform had been
constructed for the lecturer and his subjects. When the place
was about half-filled, he came from another room alone — a little,
thick-set, bull-necked man, with vulgar face and rusty black
clothes; and, mounting the platform, commenced his lecture;
if lecture it could be called, in which there seemed to be no
order, and scarcely any sequence. No attempt even at a
theory, showed itself in the mass of what he called facts and
scientific truths; and he perpeturated the most awful blunders
in his English. It will not be desired that I should give any
further account of such a lecture. The lecturer himself seemed
to depend chiefly for his success, upon the manifestations of his
art which he proceeded to bring forward. He called his familiar
by the name of Willi-am, and a stunted, pale-faced, dull-looking
youth started up from somewhere, and scrambled upon the platform
beside his master. Upon this tutored slave a number of
experiments was performed. He was first cast into whatever
abnormal condition is necessary for the operations of biology,
and then compelled to make a fool of himself by exhibiting
actions the most inconsistent with his real circumstances and
necessities. But, aware that all this was open to the most palpable
objection of collusion, the operator next invited any of
the company that pleased, to submit themselves to his influences.
After a pause of a few moments, a stout country fellow,
florid and healthy, got up and slouched to the platform. Certainly,
whatever might be the nature of the influence that was
brought to bear, its operative power could not, with the least
probability, be attributed to an over-activity of imagination in
either of the subjects submitted to its exercise. In the latter,
as well as in the former case, the operator was eminently successful;
and the clown returned to his seat, looking remarkably
foolish and conscious of disgrace — a sufficient voucher to
most present, that in this case at least there had been no collusion.
Several others volunteered their negative services; but
with no one of them did he succeed so well; and in one case the
failure was evident. The lecturer pretended to account for
this, in making some confused and unintelligible remarks about
the state of the weather, the thunder-storm, electricity, &c., of
which things he evidently did not understand the best known
laws.
"The blundering idiot!" growled, close to Hugh's ear, a voice
with a foreign accent.
He looked round sharply.
A tall, powerful, eminently handsome man, with a face as
foreign as his tone and accent, sat beside him.
"I beg your pardon," he said to Hugh; "I thought aloud."
"I should like to know, if you wouldn't mind telling me, what
you detect of the blunderer in him. I am quite ignorant of
these matters."
"I have had many opportunities of observing them; and I
see at once that this man, though he has the natural power, is
excessively ignorant of the whole subject."
This was all the answer, he vouchsafed to Hugh's modest inquiry.
Hugh had not yet learned that one will always fare
better by concealing than by acknowledging ignorance. The
man, whatever his capacity, who honestly confesses even a partial
ignorance, will instantly be treated as more or less incapable,
by the ordinary man who has already gained a partial knowledge,
or is capable of assuming a knowledge which he does not
possess. But, for God's sake! let the honest and modest man
stick to his honesty and modesty, cost what they may.
Hugh was silent, and fixed his attention once more on what
was going on. But presently he became aware that the foreigner
was scrutinizing him with the closest attention. He knew this,
somehow, without having looked round; and the knowledge
was accompanied with a feeling of discomfort that caused him
to make a restless movement on his seat. Presently he felt that
the annoyance had ceased; but not many minutes had passed,
before it again commenced. In order to relieve himself from a
feeling which he could only compare to that which might be
produced, by the presence of the dead, he turned towards his
neighbour so suddenly, that it seemed for a moment to embarrass
him, his eyes being caught in -the very act of devouring
the stolen indulgence. But the stranger recovered himself instantly
with the question:
"Will you permit me to ask of what country you are?"
Hugh thought he made the request only for the sake of covering
his rudeness; and so merely answered:
"Why, an Englishman, of course."
"Ah! yes; it is not necessary to be told that. But it seems
to me, from your accent, that you are a Scotchman."
"So I am."
"A Highlander?"
"I was born in the Highlands. But if you are very anxious
to know my pedigree, I have no reason for concealing the fact
that I am, by birth, half a Scotchman and half a Welchman."
The foreigner riveted his gaze, though but for the briefest
moment sufficient to justify its being called a gaze, once more
upon Hugh; and then, with a slight bow, as of acquiescence,
turned towards the lecturer.
When the lecture was over, and Hugh was walking away in
the midst of the withdrawing audience, the stranger touched him
on the shoulder.
"You said that you would like to know more of this science:
will you come to my lodging?" said he.
"With pleasure," Hugh answered; though the look with
which he accompanied the words, must have been one rather of
surprise.
"You are astonished that a stranger should invite you so.
Ah! you English always demand an introduction. There is
mine."
He handed Hugh a card: Herr von Funkelstein. Hugh happened
to be provided with one in exchange.
The two walked out of the inn, along the old High Street, full
of gables and all the delightful irregularities of an old country--
town, till they came to a court, down which Herr von Funkelstein
led the way.
He let himself in with a pass-key at a low door, and then
conducted Hugh, by a stair whose narrowness was equalled by
its steepness, to a room, which, though not many yards above
the level of the court, was yet next to the roof of the low house.
Hugh could see nothing till his conductor lighted a candle.
Then he found himself in a rather large room with a shaky floor
and a low roof. A chintz-curtained bed in one corner had the
skin of a tiger thrown over it; and a table in another had a
pair of foils lying upon it. The German — for such he seemed to
Hugh — offered him a chair in the politest manner; and Hugh
sat down.
"I am only in lodgings here," said the host; "so you will
forgive the poverty of my establishment."
"There is no occasion for forgiveness, I assure you," answered
Hugh.
"You wished to know something of the subject with which
that lecturer was befooling himself and the audience at the same
time."
"I shall be grateful for any enlightenment."
"Ah! it is a subject for the study of a benevolent scholar,
not for such a clown as that. He jumps at no conclusions; yet
he shares the fate of one who does: he flounders in the mire
between. No man will make anything of it who has not the
benefit of the human race at heart. Humanity is the only safe
guide in matters such as these. This is a dangerous study indeed
in unskilful hands."
Here a frightful caterwauling interrupted Herr von Funkelstein.
The room had a storm-window, of which the lattice stood
open. In front of it, on the roof, seen against a white house
opposite, stood a demon of a cat, arched to half its length, with
a tail expanded to double its natural thickness. Its antagonist
was invisible from where Hugh sat. Von Funkelstein started
up without making the slightest noise, trod as softly as a cat to
the table, took up one of the foils, removed the button, and,
creeping close to the window, made one rapid pass at the enemy,
which vanished with a shriek of hatred and fear. He then, replacing
the button, laid the foil down, and resumed his seat and
his discourse. This, after dealing with generalities and commonplaces
for some time, gave no sign of coming either to an
end or to the point. All the time he was watching Hugh — at
least so Hugh thought — as if speculating on him in general.
Then appearing to have come to some conclusion, he gave his
mind more to his talk, and encouraged Hugh to speak as well.
The conversation lasted for nearly half an hour. At its close,
Hugh felt that the stranger had touched upon a variety of interesting
subjects, as one possessed of a minute knowledge of
them. But he did not feel that he had gained any insight from
his conversation. It seemed rather as if he had been giving
him a number of psychological, social, literary, and scientific
receipts. During the course of the talk, his eye had appeared
to rest on Hugh by a kind of compulsion; as if by its own will
it would have retired from the scrutiny, but the will of its owner
was too strong for it. In seemed, in relation to him, to be only
a kind of tool, which he used for a particular purpose.
At length Fulkenstein rose, and, marching across the room to
a cupboard, brought out a bottle and glasses, saying, in the
most by-the-bye way, as he went:
"Have you the second-sight, Mr. Sutherland?"
"Certainly not, as far as I am aware."
"Ah! the Welch do have it, do they not?"
"Oh! yes, of course," answered Hugh, laughing. "I should
like to know, though," he added, "whether they inherit the gift
as Celts or as mountaineers."
"Will you take a glass of —?"
"Of nothing, thank you," answered and interrupted Hugh.
"It is time for me to be going. Indeed, I fear I have stayed
too long already. Good night, Herr von Fulkenstein."
"You will allow me the honour of returning your visit?"
Hugh felt he could do no less, although he had not the
smallest desire to keep up the acquaintance. He wrote
Arnstead on his card.
As he left the house, he stumbled over something in the
court. Looking down, he saw it was a cat, apparently dead.
"Can it be the cat Herr Funkelstein made the pass at?"
thought he. But presently he forgot all about it, in the visions
of Euphra which filled his mind during his moonlight walk
home. It just occurred to him, however, before those visions
had blotted everything else from his view, that he had learned
simply nothing whatever about biology from his late host.
When he reached home, he was admitted by the butler, and
retired to bed at once, where he slept soundly, for the first
time for many nights.
But, as he drew near his own room, he might have seen,
though he saw not, a little white figure gliding away in the far
distance of the long passage. It was only Harry, who could
not lie still in his bed, till he knew that his big brother was
safe at home
CHAPTER XV.
ANOTHER EVENING LECTURE.
This Eneas is come to Paradise
Out of the swolowe of Hell.
CHAUCER. — Legend of Dido.
THE next day, Hugh was determined to find or make an
opportunity of speaking to Euphra; and fortune seemed to
favour him. — Or was it Euphra herself, in one or other of her
inexplicable moods? At all events, she had that morning
allowed the ladies and her uncle to go without her; and Hugh
met her as he went to his study.
"May I speak to you for one moment?" said he, hurriedly,
and with trembling lips.
"Yes, certainly," she replied with a smile, and a glance in his
face as of wonder as to what could trouble him so much. Then
turning, and leading the way, she said:
"Come into my room."
He followed her. She turned and shut the door, which he
had left open behind him. He almost knelt to her; but something
held him back from that.
"Euphra," he said, "what have I done to offend you?
"Offend me! Nothing." — This was uttered in a perfect tone
of surprise.
"How is it that you avoid me as you do, and will not allow
me one moment's speech with you? You are driving me to
distraction."
"Why, you foolish man!" she answered, half playfully,
pressing the palms of her little hands together, and looking up
in his face, "how can I? Don't you see how those two dear old
ladies swallow me up in their faddles? Oh, dear? Oh, dear! I
wish they would go. Then it would be all right again — wouldn't
it?"
But Hugh was not to be so easily satisfied.
"Before they came, ever since that night —"
"Hush-sh!" she interrupted, putting her finger on his lips,
and looking hurriedly round her with an air of fright, of which
he could hardly judge whether it was real or assumed —
"hush!"
Comforted wondrously by the hushing finger, Hugh would
yet understand more.
"I am no baby, dear Euphra," he said, taking hold of the
hand to which the finger belonged, and laying it on his mouth;
"do not make one of me. There is some mystery in all this —
at least something I do not understand."
"I will tell you all about it one day. But, seriously, you
must be careful how you behave to me; for if my uncle should,
but for one moment, entertain a suspicion — good-bye to you —
perhaps good-bye to Arnstead. All my influence with him
comes from his thinking that I like him better than anybody
else. So you must not make the poor old man jealous. By
the bye," she went on — rapidly, as if she would turn the current
of the conversation aside — "what a favourite you have
grown with him! You should have heard him talk of you to
the old ladies. I might well be jealous of you. There never
was a tutor like his."
Hugh's heart smote him that the praise of even this
common man, proud of his own vanity, should be undeserved
by him. He was troubled, too, at the flippancy with which
Euphra spoke; yet not the less did he feel that he loved her
passionately.
"I daresay," he replied, "he praised me as he would anything
else that happened to be his. Isn't that old bay horse of
his the best hack in the county?"
"You naughty man! Are you going to be satirical?"
"You claim that as your privilege, do you?"
"Worse and worse! I will not talk to you. But, seriously,
for I must go — bring your Italian to — to —" She hesitated.
"To the library — why not?" suggested Hugh.
"No–o," she answered, shaking her head, and looking quite
solemn.
"Well, will you come to my study? Will that please you
better?"
"Yes, I will," she answered, with a definitive tone. "Goodbye,
now."
She opened the door, and having looked out to see that no
one was passing, told him to go. As he went, he felt as if the
oaken floor were elastic beneath his tread.
It was sometime after the household had retired, however,
before Euphra made her appearance at the door of his study.
She seemed rather shy of entering, and hesitated, as if she felt
she was doing something she ought not to do. But as soon as
she had entered, and the door was shut, she appeared to recover
herself quite; and they sat down at the table with their books.
They could not get on very well with their reading, however.
Hugh often forgot what he was about, in looking at her; and
she seemed nowise inclined to avert his gazes, or check the
growth of his admiration.
Rather abruptly, but apparently starting from some suggestion
in the book, she said to him:
"By the bye, has Mr. Arnold ever said anything to you
about the family jewels?"
"No," said Hugh. "Are there many?"
"Yes, a great many. Mr. Arnold is very proud of them, as
well as of the portraits; so he treats them in the same way —
keeps them locked up. Indeed he seldom allows them to see
daylight, except it be as a mark of especial favour to some
one."
"I should like much to see them. I have always been
curious about stones. They are wonderful, mysterious things
to me."
Euphra gave him a very peculiar, searching glance, as he spoke.
"Shall I," he continued, "give him a hint that I should
like to see them?"
"By no means," answered Euphra, emphatically, "except he
should refer to them himself. He is very jealous of his possessions
— his family possessions, I mean. Poor old man! he has
not much else to plume himself upon; has he?"
"He is kind to you, Euphra."
She looked at him as if she did not understand him.
"Yes. What then?"
"You ought not to be unkind to him."
"You odd creature! I am not unkind to him. I like him.
But we are not getting on with our reading. What could have
led me to talk about family jewels? Oh! I see. What a
strange thing the association of ideas is! There is not a very
obvious connexion here; is there?"
"No. One cannot account for such things. The links in the
chain of ideas are sometimes slender enough. Yet the slenderest
is sufficient to enable the electric flash of thought to
pass along the line."
She seemed pondering for a moment.
"That strikes me as a fine simile," she said. "You ought
to be a poet yourself."
Hugh made no reply.
"I daresay you have hundreds of poems in that old desk,
now?"
"I think they might be counted by tens."
"Do let me see them."
"You would not care for them."
"Wouldn't I, Hugh?"
"I will, on one condition — two conditions, I mean.'
"What are they?"
"One is, that you show me yours."
"Mine?"
"Yes."
"Who told you I wrote verses? That silly boy?"
"No. — I saw your verses before I saw you. You remember?"

"It was very dishonourable in you to read them."
"I only saw they were verses. I did not read a word."
"I forgive you, then. You must show me yours first, till I
see whether I could venture to let you see mine. If yours
were very bad indeed, then I might risk showing mine."
And much more of this sort, with which I will not weary my
readers. It ended in Hugh's taking from the old escritoire a
bundle of papers, and handing them to Euphra. But the
reader need not fear that I am going to print any of these
verses. I have more respect for my honest prose page than to
break it up so. Indeed, the whole of this interview might have
been omitted, but for two circumstances. One of them was,
that in getting these papers, Hugh had to open a concealed
portion of the escritoire, which his mathematical knowledge had
enabled him to discover. It had evidently not been opened for
many years before he found it. He had made use of it to hold
the only treasures he had — poor enough treasures, certainly!
Not a loving note, not a lock of hair even had he — nothing but
the few cobwebs spun from his own brain. It is true, we are rich
or poor according to what we are, not what we have. But what
a man has produced, is not what he is. He may even impoverish
his true self by production.
When Euphra saw him open this place, she uttered a suppressed
cry of astonishment.
"Ah!" said Hugh, "you did not know of this hidie-hole,
did you?"
"Indeed, I did not. I had used the desk myself, for this
was a favourite room of mine before you came, but I never
found that. Dear me! Let me look."
She put her hand on his shoulder and leaned over him, as he
pointed out the way of opening it.
"Did you find nothing in it?" she said, with a slight tremour
in her voice.
"Nothing whatever."
"There may be more places."
"No. I have accounted for the whole bulk, I believe."
"How strange!"
"But now you must give me my guerdon," said Hugh
timidly.
The fact was, the poor youth had bargained, in a playful
manner, and yet with an earnest, covetous heart, for one, the
first kiss, in return for the poems she begged to see.
She turned her face towards him.
The second circumstance which makes the interview worth
recording is, that, at this moment, three distinct knocks were
heard on the window. They sprang asunder, and saw each
other's face pale as death. In Euphra's, the expression of fright
was mingled with one of annoyance. Hugh, though his heart
trembled like a bird, leaped to the window. Nothing was to be
seen but the trees that "stretched their dark arms" within a
few feet of the oriel. Turning again towards Euphra, he found,
to his mortification, that she had vanished — and had left the
packet of poems behind her.
He replaced them in their old quarters in the escritoire; and
his vague dismay at the unaccountable noises, was drowned in
the bitter waters of miserable humiliation. He slept at last,
from the exhaustion of disappointment.
When he awoke, however, he tried to persuade himself that
he had made far too much of the trifling circumstance of her
leaving the verses behind. For was she not terrified? — Why,
then, did she leave him and go alone to her own room? — She
must have felt that she ought not to be in his, at that hour,
and therefore dared not stay. — Why dared not? Did she think
the house was haunted by a ghost of propriety? What rational
theory could he invent to account for the strange and repeated
sounds? — He puzzled himself over it to the verge of absolute
intellectual prostration.
He was generally the first in the breakfast-room; that is,
after Euphra, who was always the first. She went up to him as
he entered, and said, almost in a whisper:
"Have you got the poems for me? Quick!"
Hugh hesitated. She looked at him.
"No," he said at last. — "You never wanted them."
"That is very unkind; when you know I was frightened out
of my wits. Do give me them."
"They are not worth giving you. Besides, I have not got
them. I don't carry them in my pocket. They are in the escritoire.
I couldn't leave them lying about. Never mind
them."
"I have a right to them," she said, looking up at him slyly
and shyly.
"Well, I gave you them, and you did not think them worth
keeping. I kept my part of the bargain."
She looked annoyed.
"Never mind, dear Euphra; you shall have them, or anything
else I have; — the brain that made them, if you like."
"Was it only the brain that had to do with the making of
them?"
"Perhaps the heart too; but you have that already."
Her face flushed like a damask rose.
At that moment Mrs. Elton entered, and looked a little surprised.
Euphra instantly said:
"I think it is rather too bad of you, Mr. Sutherland, to keep
the poor boy so hard to his work, when you know he is not
strong. Mrs. Elton, I have been begging a holiday for poor
Harry, to let him go with us to Wotton House; but he has such
a hard task-master! He will not hear of it."
The flush, which she could not get rid of all at once, was thus
made to do duty as one of displeasure. Mrs. Elton was thoroughly
deceived, and united her entreaties to those of Miss Cameron.
Hugh was compelled to join in the deception, and pretend to
yield a slow consent. Thus a holiday was extemporised for
Harry, subject to the approbation of his father. This was
readily granted; and Mr. Arnold, turning to Hugh, said:
"You will have nothing to do, Mr. Sutherland: had you not
better join us?"
"With pleasure," replied he; "but the carriage will be full."
"You can take your horse."
"Thank you very much. I will."
The day was delightful; one of those grey summer-days, that
are far better for an excursion than bright ones. In the best of
spirits, mounted on a good horse, riding alongside of the carriage
in which was the lady who was all womankind to him, and who,
without taking much notice of him, yet contrived to throw him
a glance now and then, Hugh would have been overflowingly
happy, but for an unquiet, distressed feeling, which all the time
made him aware of the presence of a sick conscience somewhere
within. Mr. Arnold was exceedingly pleasant, for he was much
taken with the sweetness and modesty of Lady Emily, who,
having no strong opinions upon anything, received those of
Mr. Arnold with attentive submission. He saw, or fancied he
saw, in her, a great resemblance to his deceased wife, to whom
he had been as sincerely attached as his nature would allow. In
fact, Lady Emily advanced so rapidly in his good graces, that
either Euphra was, or thought fit to appear, rather jealous of her.
She paid her every attention, however, and seemed to gratify Mr.
Arnold by her care of the invalid. She even joined in the
entreaties which, on their way home, he made with evident
earnestness, for an extension of their visit to a month. Lady
Emily was already so much better for the change, that Mrs.
Elton made no objection to the proposal. Euphra gave Hugh
one look of misery, and, turning again, insisted with increased
warmth on their immediate consent. It was gained without
much difficulty before they reached home.
Harry, too, was captivated by the gentle kindness of Lady
Emily, and hardly took his eyes off her all the way; while, on
the other hand, his delicate little attentions had already gained
the heart of good Mrs. Elton, who from the first had remarked
and pitied the sad looks of the boy.
CHAPTER XVI.
A NEW VISITOR AND AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
He's enough
To bring a woman to confusion,
More than a wiser man, or a far greater.
MIDDLETON. — The Witch.
WHEN they reached the lodge, Lady Emily expressed a wish
to walk up the avenue to the house. To this Mr. Arnold gladly
consented. The carriage was sent round the back way; and
Hugh, dismounting, gave his horse to the footman in attendance.
As they drew near the house, the rest of the party having
stopped to look at an old tree which was a favourite with its
owner, Hugh and Harry were some yards in advance; when the
former spied, approaching them from the house, the distinguished
figure of Herr von Funkelstein. Saluting as they met, the
visitor informed Hugh that he had just been leaving his card
for him, and would call some other morning soon; for, as he was
rusticating, he had little to occupy him. Hugh turned with him
towards the rest of the party, who were now close at hand;
when Funkelstein exclaimed, in a tone of surprise,
"What! Miss Cameron here!" and advanced with a profound
obeisance, holding his hat in his hand.
Hugh thought he saw her look annoyed; but she held out
her hand to him, and, in a voice indicating — still as it appeared
to Hugh — some reluctance, introduced him to her uncle, with
the words:
"We met at Sir Edward Laston's, when I was visiting Mrs.
Elkingham, two years ago, uncle."
Mr. Arnold lifted his hat and bowed politely to the stranger.
Had Euphra informed him that, although a person of considerable
influence in Sir Edward's household, Herr von Funkelstein
had his standing there only as Sir Edward's private
secretary, Mr. Arnold's aversion to foreigners generally would
not have been so scrupulously banished into the background of
his behaviour. Ordinary civilities passed between them, marked
by an air of flattering deference on Funkelstein's part, which
might have been disagreeable to a man less uninterruptedly
conscious of his own importance than Mr. Arnold; and the new
visitor turned once more, as if forgetful of his previous direction,
and accompanied them towards the house. Before they reached
it he had, even in that short space, ingratiated himself so far
with Mr. Arnold, that he asked him to stay and dine with them
— an invitation which was accepted with manifest pleasure.
"Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold, "will you show your
friend anything worth note about the place? He has kindly
consented to dine with us; and in the meantime I have some
letters to write."
"With pleasure," answered Hugh.
But all this time he had been inwardly commenting on the
appearance of his friend, as Mr. Arnold called him, With the
jealousy of a youth in love; for was not Funkelstein an old
acquaintance of Miss Cameron? What might not have passed
between them in that old hidden time? — for love is jealous of
the past as well as of the future. Love, as well as metaphysics,
has a lasting quarrel with time and space: the lower love fears
them, while the higher defies them. — And he could not help
seeing that Funkelstein was one to win favour in ladies' eyes.
Very regular features and a dark complexion were lighted up by
eyes as black as Euphra's, and capable of a wonderful play of
light; while his form was remarkable for strength and symmetry.
Hugh felt that in any company he would attract immediate
attention. His long dark beard, of which just the centre
was removed to expose a finely-turned chin, blew over each
shoulder as often as they met the wind in going round the
house. From what I have heard of him from other deponents
besides Hugh, I should judge that he did well to conceal the
lines of his mouth in a long moustache, which flowed into his
bifurcated beard. He had just enough of the foreign in his
dress to add to the appearance of fashion which it bore.
As they walked, Hugh could not help observing an odd
peculiarity in the carriage of his companion. It was, that,
every few steps, he gave a backward and downward glance to
the right, with a sweeping bend of his body, as if he were trying
to get a view of the calf of his leg, or as if he fancied he felt
something trailing at his foot. So probable, from his motion,
did the latter supposition seem, that Hugh changed sides to
satisfy himself whether or not there was some dragging briar or
straw annoying him; but no follower was to be discovered.
"You are a happy man, Mr. Sutherland," said the guest, "to
live under the same roof with that beautiful Miss Cameron."
"Am I?" thought Hugh; but he only said, affecting some
surprise:
"Do you think her so beautiful?"
Funkelstein's eyes were fixed upon him, as if to see the effect
of his remark. Hugh felt them, and could not conform his
face to the indifference of his words. But his companion only
answered indifferently:
"Well, I should say so; but beauty is not, that is not beauty
for us."
Whether or not there was poison in the fork of this remark,
Hugh could only conjecture. He made no reply.
As they walked about the precincts of the house, Funkelstein
asked many questions of Hugh, which his entire ignorance of
domestic architecture made it impossible for him to answer.
This seemed only to excite the questioner's desire for information
to a higher pitch; and as if the very stones could reply
to his demands, he examined the whole range of the various
buildings constituting the house of Arnstead "as he would
draw it."
"Certainly," said he, "there is at least variety enough in
the style of this mass of material. There is enough for one
pyramid."
"That would be rather at the expense of the variety, would
it not?" said Hugh, in spiteful response to the inconsequence
of the second member of Funkelstein's remark. But the latter
was apparently too much absorbed in his continued inspection
of the house, from every attainable point of near view, to heed
the comment.
"This they call the Ghost's Walk," said Hugh.
"Ah! about these old houses there are always such tales."
"What sort of tales do you mean?"
"I mean of particular spots and their ghosts. You must
have heard many such?"
"No, not I."
"I think Germany is more prolific of such stories. I could
tell you plenty."
"But you don't mean you believe such things?"
"To me it is equal. I look at them entirely as objects of
art."
"That is a new view of a ghost to me. An object of art? I
should have thought them considerably more suitable objects
previous to their disembodiment."
"Ah! you do not understand. You call art painting, don't
you — or sculpture at most? I give up sculpture certainly —
and painting too. But don't you think a ghost a very effective
object in literature now? Confess: do you not like a ghost--
story very much?"
"Yes, if it is a very good one."
"Hamlet now?"
"Ah! we don't speak of Shakspere's plays as stories. His
characters are so real to us, that, in thinking of their development,
we go back even to their fathers and mothers — and sometimes
even speculate about their future."
"You islanders are always in earnest somehow. So are we
Germans. We are all one."
"I hope you can be in earnest about dinner, then, for I hear
the bell."
"We must render ourselves in the drawing-room, then?
Yes."
When they entered the drawing-room, they found Miss
Cameron alone. Funkelstein advanced, and addressed a few
words to her in German, which Hugh's limited acquaintance
with the language prevented him from catching. At the same
moment, Mr. Arnold entered, and Funkelstein, turning to him
immediately, proceeded, as if by way of apology for speaking in
an unknown tongue, to interpret for Mr. Arnold's benefit:
"I have just been telling Miss Cameron, in the language of
my country, how much better she looks than when I saw her at
Sir Edward Laston's."
"I know I was quite a scare-crow then," said Euphra, attempting
to laugh.
"And now you are quite a decoy-duck, eh, Euphra?" said
Mr. Arnold, laughing in reality at his own joke, which put
him in great good-humour for the whole time of dinner and
dessert.
"Thank you, uncle," said Euphra, with a prettily pretended
affectation of humility. Then she added gaily:
"When did you rise on our Sussex horizon, Herr von Funkelstein?"

"Oh! I have been in the neighbourhood for a few days; but
I owe my meeting with you to one of those coincidences which,
were they not so pleasant — to me in this case, at least — one
would think could only result from the blundering of old Dame
Nature over her knitting. If I had not had the good fortune
to meet Mr. Sutherland the other evening, I should have remained
in utter ignorance of your neighbourhood and my own
felicity, Miss Cameron. Indeed, I called now to see him, not
you."
Hugh saw Mr. Arnold looking rather doubtful of the
foreigner's fine speeches.
Dinner was announced. Funkelstein took Miss Cameron,
Hugh Mrs. Elton, and Mr. Arnold followed with Lady Emily,
who would never precede her older friend. Hugh tried to talk
to Mrs. Elton, but with meagre success. He was suddenly a
nobody, and felt more than he had felt for a long time what, in
his present deteriorated moral state, he considered the degradation
of his position. A gulf seemed to have suddenly yawned
between himself and Euphra, and the loudest voice of his
despairing agony could not reach across that gulf. An awful
conviction awoke within him, that the woman he worshipped
would scarcely receive his worship at the worth of incense now;
and yet in spirit he fell down grovelling before his idol. The
words "euphrasy and rue" kept ringing in his brain, coming
over and over with an awful mingling of chime and toll. When
he thought about it afterwards, he seemed to have been a year
in crossing the hall with Mrs. Elton on his arm. But as if
divining his thoughts — just as they passed through the dining--
room door, Euphra looked round at him, almost over Funkelstein's
shoulder, and, without putting into her face the least
expression discernible by either of the others following, contrived
to banish for the time all Hugh's despair, and to convince
him that he had nothing to fear from Funkelstein. How it
was done Hugh himself could not tell. He could not even
recall the look. He only knew that he had been as miserable
as one waking in his coffin, and that now he was out in the
sunny air.
During dinner, Funkelstein paid no very particular attention
to Euphrasia, but was remarkably polite to Lady Emily. She
seemed hardly to know how to receive his attentions, but to
regard him as a strange animal, which she did not know how to
treat, and of which she was a little afraid. Mrs. Elton, on the
contrary, appeared to be delighted with his behaviour and conversation;
for, without showing the least originality, he yet
had seen so much, and knew so well how to bring out what
he had seen, that he was a most interesting companion.
Hugh took little share in the conversation beyond listening
as well as he could, to prevent himself from gazing too much
at Euphra.
"Had Mr. Sutherland and you been old acquaintances then,
Herr von Funkelstein?" asked Mr. Arnold, reverting to the conversation
which had been interrupted by the announcement of
dinner.
"Not at all. We met quite accidentally, and introduced
ourselves. I believe a thunderstorm and a lecture on biology
were the mediating parties between us. Was it not so, Mr.
Sutherland? "
"I beg your pardon," stammered Hugh. But Mr. Arnold
interposed:
"A lecture on what, did you say?"
"On biology."
Mr. Arnold looked posed. He did not like to say he did
not know what the word meant; for, like many more ignorant
men, he thought such a confession humiliating. Von Funkelstein
hastened to his relief.
"It would be rather surprising if you were acquainted with
the subject, Mr. Arnold. I fear to explain it to you, lest both
Mr. Sutherland and myself should sink irrecoverably in your
estimation. But young men want to know all that is
going on."
Herr Funkelstein was not exactly what one would call a
young man; but, as he chose to do so himself, there was no
one to dispute the classification.
"Oh! of course," replied Mr. Arnold; "quite right. What,
then, pray, is biology?"
"A science, falsely so called," said Hugh, who, waking up a
little, wanted to join in the conversation.
"What does the word mean?" said Mr. Arnold.
Von Funkelstein answered at once:
"The science of life. But I must say, the name, as now applied,
is no indication of the thing signified."
"How, then, is a gentleman to know what it is?" said Mr.
Arnold, half pettishly, and forgetting that his knowledge had
not extended even to the interpretation of the name.
"It is one of the sciences, true or false, connected with
animal magnetism."
"Bah!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold, rather rudely.
"You would have said so, if you had heard the lecture," said
Funkelstein.
The conversation had not taken this turn till quite late in
the dining ceremony. Euphra rose to go; and Hugh remarked
that her face was dreadfully pale. But she walked
steadily out of the room.
This interrupted the course of the talk, and the subject was
not resumed. Immediately after tea, which was served very
soon, Funkelstein took his leave of the ladies.
"We shall be glad to see you often while in this neighbourhood,"
said Mr. Arnold, as he bade him good night.
"I shall, without fail, do myself the honour of calling again
soon," replied he, and bowed himself out.
Lady Emily, evidently relieved by his departure, rose, and,
approaching Euphra, said, in a sweet coaxing tone, which even
she could hardly have resisted:
"Dear Miss Cameron, you promised to sing, for me in particular,
some evening. May I claim the fulfilment of your
promise?"
Euphra had recovered her complexion, and she too seemed to
Hugh to be relieved by the departure of Funkelstein.
"Certainly," she answered, rising at once. "What shall I
sing?"
Hugh was all ear now.
"Something sacred, if you please."
Euphra hesitated, but not long.
"Shall I sing Mozart's Agnus Dei, then?"
Lady Emily hesitated in her turn.
"I should prefer something else. I don't approve of singing
popish music, however beautiful it may be."
"Well, what shall it be?"
"Something of Handel or Mendelssohn, please. Do you sing,
I know that my Redeemer liveth?'"
"I daresay I can sing it," replied Euphra, with some petulance;
and went to the piano.
This was a favourite air with Hugh; and he placed himself
so as to see the singer without being seen himself, and to lose
no slightest modulation of her voice. But what was his disappointment
to find that oratorio-music was just what Euphra
was incapable of! No doubt she sang it quite correctly; but
there was no religion in it. Not a single tone worshipped or
rejoiced. The quality of sound necessary to express the feeling
and thought of the composer was lacking: the palace of sound
was all right constructed, but of wrong material. Euphra,
however, was quite unconscious of failure. She did not care for
the music; but she attributed her lack of interest in it to the
music itself, never dreaming that, in fact, she had never really
heard it, having no inner ear for its deeper harmonies. As soon
as she had finished, Lady Emily thanked her, but did not praise
her more than by saying:
"I wish I had a voice like yours, Miss Cameron."
"I daresay you have a better of your own," said Euphra,
falsely.
Lady Emily laughed.
"It is the poorest little voice you ever heard; yet I confess
I am glad, for my own sake, that I have even that. What
should I do if I never heard Handel!"
Every simple mind has a little well of beauty somewhere in
its precincts, which flows and warbles, even when the owner is
unheedful. The religion of Lady Emily had led her into a
region far beyond the reach of her intellect, in which there
sprang a constant fountain of sacred song. To it she owed her
highest moods.
"Then Handel is your musician?" said Euphra. "You
should not have put me to such a test. It was very unfair of
you, Lady Emily."
Lady Emily laughed, as if quite amused at the idea of having
done Euphra any wrong. Euphra added:
"You must sing now, Lady Emily. You cannot refuse, after
the admission you have just made."
"I confess it is only fair; but I warn you to expect nothing."
She took her place at the piano, and sang — He shall feed his
flock. Her health had improved so much during her sojourn at
Arnstead, that, when she began to sing, the quantity of her
voice surprised herself; but after all, it was a poor voice; and
the execution, if clear of any great faults, made no other pretence
to merit. Yet she effected the end of the music, the
very result which every musician would most desire, wherein
Euphra had failed utterly. This was worthy of note, and Hugh
was not even yet too blind to perceive it. Lady Emily, with
very ordinary intellect, and paltry religious opinions, yet because
she was good herself, and religious — could, in the reproduction
of the highest kind of music, greatly surpass the spirited, intellectual
musician, whose voice was as superior to hers as a
nightingale's to a sparrow's, and whose knowledge of music and
musical power generally, surpassed hers beyond all comparison.
It must be allowed for Euphra, that she seemed to have
gained some perception of the fact. Perhaps she had seen signs
of emotion in Hugh's face, which he had shaded with his hand
as Lady Emily sang; or perhaps the singing produced in her a
feeling which she had not had when singing herself. All I know
is, that the same night — while Hugh was walking up and down
his room, meditating on this defect of Euphra's, and yet feeling
that if she could sing only devil's music, he must love her — a
tap came to the door which made him start with the suggestion
of the former mysterious noises of a similar kind; that he sprang
to the door; and that, instead of looking out on a vacant
corridor, as he all but anticipated, he saw Euphra standing
there in the dark — who said in a whisper:
"Ah! you do not love me any longer, because Lady Emily
can sing psalms better than I can!"
There was both pathos and spite in the speech.
"Come in, Euphra."
"No. I am afraid I have been very naughty in coming here
at all."
"Do come in. I want you to tell me something about
Funkelstein."
"What do you want to know about him? I suppose you are
jealous of him. Ah! you men can both be jealous and make
jealous at the same moment." A little broken sigh followed.
Hugh answered:
"I only want to know what he is."
"Oh! some twentieth cousin of mine."
"Mr. Arnold does not know that?"
"Oh dear! no. It is so far off I can't count it. In fact I
doubt it altogether. It must date centuries back."
"His intimacy, then, is not to be accounted for by his relationship?"

"Ah! ah! I thought so. Jealous of the poor count!"
"Count?"
"Oh dear! what does it matter? He doesn't like to be called
Count, because all foreigners are counts or barons, or something
equally distinguished. I oughtn't to have let it out."
"Never mind. Tell me something about him."
"He is a Bohemian. I met him first, some years ago, on the
continent."
"Then that was not your first meeting — at Sir Edward
Laston's?"
"No."
"How candid she is!" thought Hugh.
"He calls me his cousin; but if he be mine, he is yet more
Mr. Arnold's. But he does not want it mentioned yet. I am
sure I don't know why."
"Is he in love with you?"
"How can I tell?" she answered archly. "By his being
very jealous? Is that the way to know whether a man is in
love with one? But if he is in love with me, it does not follow
that I am in love with him — does it? Confess. Am I not very
good to answer all your impertinent downright questions?
They are as point blank as the church-catechism; — mind,
I don't say as rude. — How can I be in love with two at —
a —?"
She seemed to check herself. But Hugh had heard enough
— as she had intended he should. She turned instantly,
and sped — surrounded by the "low melodious thunder" of
her silken garments — to her own door, where she vanished
noiselessly.
"What care I for oratorios?" said Hugh to himself, as he put
the light out, towards morning.
Where was all this to end? What goal had Hugh set himself?
Could he not go away, and achieve renown in one of many
ways, and return fit, in the eyes of the world, to claim the hand
of Miss Cameron? But would he marry her if he could? He
would not answer the question. He closed the ears of his heart
to it, and tried to go to sleep. He slept, and dreamed of Margaret
in the storm.
A few days passed without anything occurring sufficiently
marked for relation. Euphra and he seemed satisfied without
meeting in private. Perhaps both were afraid of carrying it too
far; at least, too far to keep clear of the risk of discovery, seeing
that danger was at present greater than usual. Mr. Arnold
continued to be thoroughly attentive to his guests, and became
more and more devoted to Lady Emily. There was no saying
where it might end; for he was not an old man yet, and Lady
Emily appeared to have no special admirers. Arnstead was
such an abode, and surrounded with such an estate, as few even
of the nobility could call their own. And a reminiscence of his
first wife seemed to haunt all Mr. Arnold's contemplations of
Lady Emily, and all his attentions to her. These were delicate
in the extreme, evidently bringing out the best life that yet remained
in a heart that was almost a fossil. Hugh made some
fresh efforts to do his duty by Harry, and so far succeeded, that
at least the boy made some progress — evident enough to the
moderate expectations of his father. But what helped Harry as
much as anything, was the motherly kindness, even tenderness,
of good Mrs. Elton, who often had him to sit with her in her
own room. To her he generally fled for refuge, when he felt
deserted and lonely
CHAPTER XVII.
MATERIALISM alias GHOST-HUNTING.
Wie der Mond sich leuchtend dränget
Durch den dunkeln Wolkenflor,
Also taucht aus dunkeln Zeiten
Mir ein lichtes Bild hervor.
HEINRICH HEINE.
As the moon her face advances
Through the darkened cloudy veil;
So, from darkened times arising,
Dawns on me a vision pale.
IN consequence of what Euphra had caused him to believe
without saying it, Hugh felt more friendly towards his new
acquaintance; and happening — on his side at least it did happen
— to meet him a few days after, walking in the neighbourhood,
he joined him in a stroll. Mr. Arnold met them on horseback,
and invited Von Funkelstein to dine with them that evening,
to which he willingly consented. It was noticeable that no
sooner was the count within the doors of Arnstead House, than
he behaved with cordiality to every one of the company except
Hugh. With him he made no approach to familiarity of any
kind, treating him, on the contrary, with studious politeness.
In the course of the dinner, Mr. Arnold said:
"It is curious, Herr von Funkelstein, how often, if you meet
with something new to you, you fall in with it again almost immediately.
I found an article on Biology in the newspaper, the
very day after our conversation on the subject. But absurd as
the whole thing is, it is quite surpassed by a letter in to-day's
Times about spirit-rapping and mediums, and what not!"
This observation of the host at once opened the whole question
of those physico-psychological phenomena to which the name
of spiritualism has been so absurdly applied. Mr. Arnold was profound
in his contempt of the whole system, if not very profound
in his arguments against it. Every one had something to remark
in opposition to the notions which were so rapidly gaining
ground in the country, except Funkelstein, who maintained a
rigid silence.
This silence could not continue long without attracting the
attention of the rest of the party; upon which Mr. Arnold said:
"You have not given us your opinion on the subject, Herr von
Funkelstein."
"I have not, Mr. Arnold; — I should not like to encounter
the opposition of so many fair adversaries, as well as of my
host."
"We are in England, sir; and every man is at liberty to
say what he thinks. For my part, I think it all absurd, if not
improper."
"I would not willingly differ from you, Mr. Arnold. And I
confess that a great deal that finds its way into the public prints,
does seem very ridiculous indeed; but I am bound, for truth's
sake, to say, that I have seen more than I can account for, in
that kind of thing. There are strange stories connected with
my own family, which, perhaps, incline me to believe in the
supernatural; and, indeed, without making the smallest pretence
to the dignity of what they call a medium, I have myself
had some curious experiences. I fear I have some natural proclivity
towards what you despise. But I beg that my statement
of my own feelings on the subject, may not interfere in the least
with the prosecution of the present conversation; for I am quite
capable of drawing pleasure from listening to what I am unable
to agree with."
"But let us hear your arguments, strengthened by your facts,
in opposition to ours; for it will be impossible to talk with a
silent judge amongst us," Hugh ventured to say.
"I set up for no judge, Mr. Sutherland, I assure you; and
perhaps I shall do my opinions more justice by remaining silent,
seeing I am conscious of utter inability to answer the a priori
arguments which you in particular have brought against them.
All I would venture to say is, that an a priori argument may
owe its force to a mistaken hypothesis with regard to the matter
in question; and that the true Baconian method, which is the
glory of your English philosophy, would be to inquire first what
the thing is, by recording observations and experiments made in
its supposed direction."
"At least Herr von Funkelstein has the best of the argument
now, I am compelled to confess," said Hugh.
Funkelstein bowed stiffly, and was silent.
"You rouse our curiosity," said Mr. Arnold; "but I fear,
after the free utterance which we have already given to our own
judgments, in ignorance, of course, of your greater experience,
you will not be inclined to make us wiser by communicating
any of the said experience, however much we may desire to
hear it."
Had he been speaking to one of less evident social standing
than Funkelstein, Mr. Arnold, if dying with curiosity, would not
have expressed the least wish to be made acquainted with his
experiences. He would have sat in apparent indifference, but in
real anxiety that some one else would draw him out, and thus
gratify his curiosity without endangering his dignity.
"I do not think," replied Funkelstein, "that it is of any use
to bring testimony to bear on such a matter. I have seen — to
use the words of some one else, I forget whom, on a similar
subject — I have seen with my own eyes what I certainly should
never have believed on the testimony of another. Consequently,
I have no right to expect that my testimony should be received.
Besides, I do not wish it to be received, although I confess I
shrink from presenting it with a certainty of its being rejected.
I have no wish to make converts to my opinions."
"Really, Herr von Funkelstein, at the risk of your considering
me importunate, I would beg —"
"Excuse me, Mr. Arnold. The recital of some of the matters
to which you refer, would not only be painful to myself, but
would be agitating to the ladies present."
"In that case, I have only to beg your pardon for pressing the
matter — I hope no further than to the verge of incivility."
"In no degree approaching it, I assure you, Mr. Arnold. In
proof that I do not think so, I am ready, if you wish it —
although I rather dread the possible effects on the nerves of the
ladies, especially as this is an old house — to repeat, with the aid
of those present, certain experiments which I have sometimes
found perhaps only too successful."
"Oh! don't," said Euphra, faintly.
An expression of the opposite desire followed, however, from
the other ladies. Their curiosity seemed to strive with their
fears, and to overcome them.
"I hope we shall have nothing to do with it in any other way
than merely as spectators?" said Mrs. Elton.
"Nothing more than you please. It is doubtful if you can
even be spectators. That remains to be seen."
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Elton.
Lady Emily looked at her with surprise — almost reproof.
"I beg your pardon, my dear; but it sounds so dreadful.
What can it be?"
"Let me entreat you ladies, not to imagine that I am urging
you to anything," said Funkelstein.
"Not in the least," replied Mrs. Elton. "I was very
foolish." And the old lady looked ashamed, and was silent.
"Then if you will allow me, I will make one small preparation.
Have you a tool-chest anywhere, Mr. Arnold?"
"There must be tools enough about the place, I know. I
will ring for Atkins."
"I know where the tool chest is," said Hugh; "and, if you
will allow me a suggestion, would it not be better the servants
should know nothing about this? There are some foolish stories
afloat amongst them already."
"A very proper suggestion, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold,
graciously. "Will you find all that is wanted, then?"
"What tools do you want?" asked Hugh.
"Only a small drill. Could you get me an earthenware plate
— not china — too?"
"I will manage that," said Euphra.
Hugh soon returned with the drill, and Euphra with the
plate. The Bohemian, with some difficulty, and the remark
that the English ware was very hard, drilled a small hole in
the, rim of the plate — a dinner-plate; then begging an H B
drawing-pencil from Miss Cameron, cut off a small piece, and
fitted it into the hole, making it just long enough to touch
the table with its point when the plate lay in its ordinary
position.
"Now I am ready," said he. "But," he added, raising his
head, and looking all round the room, as if a sudden thought
had struck him — "I do not think this room will be quite
satisfactory."
They were now in the drawing-room.
"Choose the room in the house that will suit you," said Mr.
Arnold. "The dining-room?"
"Certainly not," answered Funkelstein, as he took from his
watch-chain a small compass and laid it on the table. "Not
the dining-room, nor the breakfast-room — I think. Let me see
— how is it situated?" He went to the hall, as if to refresh his
memory, and then looked again at the compass. "No, not the
breakfast-room."
Hugh could not help thinking there was more or less of the
charlatan about the man.
"The library?" suggested Lady Emily.
They adjourned to the library to see. The library would do.
After some further difficulty, they succeeded in procuring a
large sheet of paper and fastening it down to the table by
drawing-pins. Only two candles were in the great room, and it
was scarcely lighted at all by them; yet Funkelstein requested
that one of these should be extinguished, and the other removed
to a table near the door. He then said, solemnly:
"Let me request silence, absolute silence, and quiescence of
thought even."
After stillness had settled down with outspread wings of
intensity, he resumed:
"Will any one, or, better, two of you, touch the plate as
lightly as possible with your fingers?"
All hung back for a moment. Then Mr. Arnold came
forward.
"I will," said he, and laid his fingers on the plate.
"As lightly as possible, if you please. If the plate moves,
follow it with your fingers, but be sure not to push it in any
direction."
"I understand," said Mr. Arnold; and silence fell again.
The Bohemian, after a pause, spoke once more, but in a
foreign tongue. The words sounded first like entreaty, then like
command, and at last, almost like imprecation. The ladies
shuddered.
"Any movement of the vehicle?" said he to Mr. Arnold.
"If by the vehicle you mean the plate, certainly not," said
Mr. Arnold solemnly. But the ladies were very glad of the
pretext for attempting a laugh, in order to get rid of the
oppression which they had felt for some time.
"Hush!" said Funkelstein, solemnly. — "Will no one else
touch the plate, as well? It will seldom move with one. It
does with me. But I fear I might be suspected of treachery, if
I offered to join Mr. Arnold."
"Do not hint at such a thing. You are beyond suspicion."

What ground Mr. Arnold had for making such an assertion,
was no better known to himself than to any one else present.
Von Funkelstein, without another word, put the fingers of one
hand lightly on the plate beside Mr. Arnold's. The plate
instantly began to move upon the paper. The motion was a
succession of small jerks at first; but soon it tilted up a little,
and moved upon a changing point of support. Now it careered
rapidly in wavy lines, sweeping back towards the other side, as
often as it approached the extremity of the sheet, the men
keeping their fingers in contact with it, but not appearing to
influence its motion. Gradually the motion ceased. Von
Funkelstein withdrew his hand, and requested that the other
candle should be lighted. The paper was taken up and
examined. Nothing could be discovered upon it, but a labyrinth
of wavy and sweepy lines. Funkelstein pored over it for some
minutes, and then confessed his inability to make a single letter
out of it, still less words and sentences, as he had expected.
"But," said he, "we are at least so far successful: it moves.
Let us try again. Who will try next?"
"I will," said Hugh, who had refrained at first, partly from
dislike to the whole affair, partly because he shrank from putting
himself forward.
A new sheet of paper was fixed. The candle was extinguished.
Hugh put his fingers on the plate. In a second or
two, it began to move.
"A medium!" murmured Funkelstein. He then spoke
aloud some words unintelligible to the rest.
Whether from the peculiarity of his position and the consequent
excitement of his imagination, or from some other cause,
Hugh grew quite cold, and began to tremble. The plate,
which had been careering violently for a few moments, now
went more slowly, making regular short motions and returns,
at right angles to its chief direction, as if letters were being
formed by the pencil. Hugh shuddered, thinking he recognised
the letters as they grew. The writing ceased. The candles
were brought. Yes; there it was! — not plain, but easily decipherable
— David Elginbrod. Hugh felt sick.
Euphra, looking on beside him, whispered:
"What an odd name! Who can it mean?"
He made no reply.
Neither of the other ladies saw it; for Mrs. Elton had discovered,
the moment the second candle was lighted, that Lady
Emily was either asleep or in a faint. She was soon all but
satisfied that she was asleep.
Hugh's opinion, gathered from what followed, was, that the
Bohemian had not been so intent on the operations with the
plate, as he had appeared to be; and that he had been employing
part of his energy in mesmerising Lady Emily. Mrs.
Elton, remembering that she had had quite a long walk that
morning, was not much alarmed. Unwilling to make a disturbance,
she rang the bell very quietly, and, going to the door,
asked the servant who answered it, to send her maid with some
eau-de-cologne. Meantime, the gentlemen had been too much
absorbed to take any notice of her proceedings, and, after
removing the one and extinguishing the other candle, had
reverted to the plate. — Hugh was still the operator.
Von Funkelstein spoke again in an unknown tongue. The plate
began to move as before. After only a second or two of preparatory
gyration, Hugh felt that it was writing Turriepuffit, and
shook from head to foot.
Suddenly, in the middle of the word, the plate ceased its
motion, and lay perfectly still. Hugh felt a kind of surprise
come upon him, as if he waked from an unpleasant dream, and
saw the sun shining. The morbid excitement of his nervous
system had suddenly ceased, and a healthful sense of strength
and every-day life took its place.
Simultaneously with the stopping of the plate, and this new
feeling which I have tried to describe, Hugh involuntarily
raised his eyes towards the door of the room. In the all-but--
darkness between him and the door, he saw a pale beautiful
face — a face only. It was the face of Margaret Elginbrod; not,
however, such as he had used to see it — but glorified. That
was the only word by which he could describe its new aspect. A
mist of darkness fell upon his brain, and the room swam round
with him. But he was saved from falling, or attracting attention
to a weakness for which he could have made no excuse, by
a sudden cry from Lady Emily.
"See! see!" she cried wildly, pointing towards one of the
windows.
These looked across to another part of the house, one of the
oldest, at some distance. — One of its windows, apparently on
the first floor, shone with a faint bluish light.
All the company had hurried to the window at Lady Emily's
exclamation.
"Who can be in that part of the house?" said Mr. Arnold,
angrily.
"It is Lady Euphrasia's window," said Euphra, in a low
voice, the tone of which suggested, somehow, that the speaker
was very cold.
"What do you mean by speaking like that?" said Mr.
Arnold, forgetting his dignity. "Surely you are above being
superstitious. Is it possible the servants could be about any
mischief? I will discharge any one at once, that dares go there
without permission."
The light disappeared, fading slowly out.
"Indeed, the servants are all too much alarmed, after what
took place last year, to go near that wing — much less that
room," said Euphra. "Besides, Mrs. Horton has all the keys
in her own charge."
"Go yourself and get me them, Euphra. I will see at once
what this means. Don't say why you want them."
"Certainly not, uncle."
Hugh had recovered almost instantaneously. Though full of
amazement, he had yet his perceptive faculties sufficiently unimpaired
to recognise the real source of the light in the window.
It seemed to him more like moonlight than anything else; and he
thought the others would have seen it to be such, but for the effect
of Lady Emily's sudden exclamation. Perhaps she was under the
influence of the Bohemian at the moment. Certainly they were
all in a tolerable condition for seeing whatever might be required
of them. True, there was no moon to be seen; and if it was
the moon, why did the light go out? But he found afterwards
that he had been right. The house stood upon a rising ground;
and, every recurring cycle, the moon would shine, through
certain vista of trees and branches, upon Lady Euphrasia's
window; provided there had been no growth of twigs to stop
up the channel of the light, which was so narrow that in a few
moments the moon had crossed it. A gap in a hedge made by
a bull that morning, had removed the last screen. — Lady
Euphrasia's window was so neglected and dusty, that it could
reflect nothing more than a dim bluish shimmer.
"Will you all accompany me, ladies and gentlemen, that you
may see with your own eyes that there is nothing dangerous in
the house?" said Mr. Arnold.
Of course Funkelstein was quite ready, and Hugh as well,
although he felt at this moment ill-fitted for ghost-hunting.
The ladies hesitated; but at last, more afraid of being left
behind alone, than of going with the gentlemen, they consented.
Euphra brought the keys, and they commenced their march of
investigation. Up the grand staircase they went, Mr. Arnold
first with the keys, Hugh next with Mrs. Elton and Lady
Emily, and the Bohemian, considerably to Hugh's dissatisfaction,
bringing up the rear with Euphra. — This misarrangement
did more than anything else could have done, to deaden
for the time the distraction of feeling produced in Hugh's mind
by the events of the last few minutes. Yet even now he seemed
to be wandering through the old house in a dream, instead of
following Mr. Arnold, whose presence might well have been
sufficient to destroy any illusion, except such as a Chinese
screen might superinduce; for, possessed of far less imagination
than a horse, he was incapable of any terrors, but such as had
to do with robbers, or fire, or chartists — which latter fear
included both the former. He strode on securely, carrying a
candle in one hand, and the keys in the other. Each of the
other gentlemen likewise bore a light. They had to go through
doors, some locked, some open, following a different route from
that taken by Euphra on a former occasion.
But Mr. Arnold found the keys troublesome. He could not
easily distinguish those he wanted, and was compelled to apply
to Euphra. She left Funkelstein in consequence, and walked in
front with her uncle. Her former companion got beside Lady
Emily, and as they could not well walk four abreast, she fell
behind with him. So Hugh got next to Euphra, behind her,
and was comforted.
At length, by tortuous ways, across old rooms, and up
and down abrupt little stairs, they reached the door of Lady
Euphrasia's room. The key was found, and the door opened
with some perturbation — manifest on the part of the ladies, and
concealed on the part of the men. The place was quite dark.
They entered; and Hugh was greatly struck with its strange
antiquity. Lady Euphrasia's ghost had driven the last occupant
out of it nearly a hundred years ago; but most of the furniture
was much older than that, having probably belonged to Lady
Euphrasia herself. The room remained just as the said last
occupant had left it. Even the bed-clothes remained, folded
down, as if expecting their occupant for the last hundred years.
The fine linen had grown yellow; and the rich counterpane
lay like a churchyard after the resurrection, full of the open
graves of the liberated moths. On the wall hung the portrait
of a nun in convent-attire.
"Some have taken that for a second portrait of Lady Euphrasia,"
said Mr. Arnold, "but it cannot be. — Euphra, we will
go back through the picture gallery. — I suspect it of originating
the tradition that Lady Euphrasia became a nun at last. I do not
believe it myself. The picture is certainly old enough to stand
for her, but it does not seem to me in the least like the other."
It was a great room, with large recesses, and therefore irregular
in form. Old chairs, with remnants of enamel and
gilding, and seats of faded damask, stood all about. But the
beauty of the chamber was its tapestry. The walls were entirely
covered with it, and the rich colours had not yet receded
into the dull grey of the past, though their gorgeousness had
become sombre with age. The subject was the story of
Samson.
"Come and see this strange piece of furniture," said Euphra
to Hugh, who had kept by her side since they entered this
room.
She led him into one of the recesses, almost concealed by the
bed-hangings. In it stood a cabinet of ebony, reaching nearly
to the ceiling, curiously carved in high relief.
"I wish I could show you the inside of it," she went on,
"but I cannot now."
This was said almost in a whisper. Hugh replied with only
a look of thanks. He gazed at the carving, on whose black
surface his candle made little light, and threw no shadows.
"You have looked at this before, Euphra," said he. "Explain
it to me."
"I have often tried to find out what it is," she answered;
but I never could quite satisfy myself about it."
She proceeded, however, to tell him what she fancied it might
mean, speaking still in the low tone which seemed suitable to the
awe of the place. She got interested in showing him the relations
of the different figures; and he made several suggestions
as to the possible intention of the artist. More than one well--
known subject was proposed and rejected.
Suddenly becoming aware of the sensation of silence, they
looked up, and saw that theirs was the only light in the room.
They were left alone in the haunted chamber. — They looked
at each other for one moment; then said, with half-stifled
voices:
"Euphra!"
"Hugh!"
Euphra seemed half amused and half perplexed. Hugh
looked half perplexed and wholly pleased.
"Come, come," said Euphra, recovering herself, and leading
the way to the door.
When they reached it, they found it closed and locked.
Euphra raised her hand to beat on it. Hugh caught it.
"You will drive Lady Emily into fits. Did you not see how
awfully pale she was?"
Euphra instantly lifted her hand again, as if she would just
like to try that result. But Hugh, who was in no haste for any
result, held her back.
She struggled for a moment or two, but not very strenuously,
and, desisting all at once, let her arms drop by her sides.
"I fear it is too late. This is a double door, and Mr.
Arnold will have locked all the doors between this and the
picture-gallery. They are there now. What shall we do?"
She said this with an expression of comical despair, which
would have made Hugh burst into laughter, had he not been
too much pleased to laugh.
"Never mind," he said, "we will go on with our study of
the cabinet. They will soon find out that we are left behind,
and come back to look for us."
"Yes, but only fancy being found here!"
She laughed; but the laugh did not succeed. It could not
hide a real embarrassment. She pondered, and seemed irresolute.
Then with the words — "They will say we stayed behind
on purpose," she moved her hand to the door, but again withdrew
it, and stood irresolute.
"Let us put out the light." said Hugh, laughing, "and
make no answer."
"Can you starve well?"
"With you."
She murmured something to herself; then said aloud and
hastily, as if she had made up her mind by the compulsion of
circumstances:
"But this won't do. They are still looking at the portrait, I
daresay. Come."
So saying, she went into another recess, and, lifting a curtain
of tapestry, opened a door.
"Come quick," she said.
Hugh followed her down a short stair into a narrow passage,
nowhere lighted from the outside. The door went to behind
them, as if some one had banged it in anger at their intrusion.
The passage smelt very musty, and was as quiet as death.
"Not a word of this, Hugh, as you love me. It may be
useful yet."
"Not a word."
They came through a sliding panel into an empty room.
Euphra closed it behind them.
"Now shade your light."
He did so. She took him by the hand. A few more turns
brought them in sight of the lights of the rest of the party.
As Euphra had conjectured, they were looking at the picture of
Lady Euphrasia, Mr. Arnold prosing away to them, in proof
that the nun could not be she. They entered the gallery without
being heard; and parting a little way, one pretending to
look at one picture, the other at another, crept gradually round
till they joined the group. It was a piece of most successful
generalship. Euphra was, doubtless, quite prepared with her
story in case it should fail.
"Dear Lady Emily," said she, "how tired you look! Do
let us go, uncle."
"By all means. Take my arm, Lady Emily. Euphra, will
you take the keys again, and lock the doors?"
Mrs. Elton had already taken Hugh's arm, and was leading
him away after Mr. Arnold and Lady Emily.
"I will not leave you behind with the spectres, Miss Cameron,"
said Funkelstein.
"Thank you; they will not detain me long. They don't
mind being locked up."
It was some little time, however, before they presented themselves
in the drawing-room, to which, and not to the library,
the party had gone: they had had enough of horrors for that
night.
Lest my readers should think they have had too many
wonders at least, I will explain one of them. It was really
Margaret Elginbrod whom Hugh had seen. Mrs. Elton was the
lady in whose service she had left her home. It was nothing
strange that they had not met, for Margaret knew he was in
the same house, and had several times seen him, but had
avoided meeting him. Neither was it a wonderful coincidence
that they should be in such close proximity; for the college
friend from whom Hugh had first heard of Mr. Arnold, was the
son of the gentleman whom Mrs. Elton was visiting, when she
first saw Margaret.
Margaret had obeyed her mistress's summons to the drawing--
room, and had entered while Hugh was stooping over the plate.
As the room was nearly dark, and she was dressed in black, her
pale face alone caught the light and his eye as he looked up,
and the giddiness which followed had prevented him from seeing
more. She left the room the next moment, while they were all
looking out of the window. Nor was it any exercise of his excited
imagination that had presented her face as glorified. She
was now a woman; and, there being no divine law against saying
so, I say that she had grown a lady as well; as indeed any one
might have foreseen who was capable of foreseeing it. Her
whole nature had blossomed into a still, stately, lily-like beauty;
and the face that Hugh saw was indeed the realised idea of the
former face of Margaret.
But how did the plate move? and whence came the
writing of old David's name? I must, for the present, leave
the whole matter to the speculative power of each of my
readers.
But Margaret was in mourning: was David indeed dead?
He was dead. — Yet his name will stand as the name of my
story for pages to come; because, if he had not been in it, the
story would never have been worth writing; because the influence
of that ploughman is the salt of the whole; because a
man's life in the earth is not to be measured by the time he is,
visible upon it; and because, when the story is wound up, it.
will be in the presence of his spirit.
Do I then believe that David himself did write that name.
of his?
Heaven forbid that any friend of mine should be able to
believe it!
Long before she saw him, Margaret had known, from what
she heard among the servants, that Master Harry's tutor
could be no other than her own tutor of the old time. By
and by she learned a great deal about him from Harry's
talk with Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily. But she did not give
the least hint that she knew him, or betray the least desire to
see him.
Mrs. Elton was amusingly bewildered by the occurrences of
the evening. Her theories were something astounding; and
followed one another with such alarming rapidity, that had they
been in themselves such as to imply the smallest exercise of the
thinking faculty, she might well have been considered in danger
of an attack of brain-fever. As it was, none such supervened.
Lady Emily said nothing, but seemed unhappy. As for Hugh,
he simply could not tell what to make of the writing. But he
did not for a moment doubt that the vision he had seen was
only a vision — a home-made ghost, sent out from his own creative
brain. Still he felt that Margaret's face, come whence it
might, was a living reproof to him; for he was losing his life in
passion, sinking deeper in it day by day. His powers were deserting
him. Poetry, usually supposed to be the attendant of
love, had deserted him. Only by fits could he see anything
beautiful; and then it was but in closest association of thought
with the one image which was burning itself deeper and deeper
into his mental sensorium. Come what might, he could not tear
it away. It had become a part of himself — of his inner life —
even while it seemed to be working the death of life. Deeper
and deeper it would burn, till it reached the innermost chamber
of life. Let it burn.
Yet he felt that he could not trust her. Vague hopes he had
that, by trusting, she might be made trustworthy; but he feared
they were vain as well as vague. And yet he would not cast
them away for he could not cast her away.
CHAPTER XVIII.
MORE MATERIALISM AND SOME SPIRITUALISM.
God wisheth none should wreck on a strange shelf:
To Him man's dearer than to himself.
BEN JONSON. — The Forest: To Sir Robert Wroth.
AT breakfast the following morning, the influences of the past
day on the family were evident. There was a good deal of excitement,
alternated with listlessness. The moral atmosphere
seemed unhealthy; and Harry, although he had, fortunately for
him, had nothing to do with the manifestations of the previous
evening, was affected by the condition of those around him. Hugh
was still careful enough of him to try to divert the conversation
entirely from what he knew would have a very injurious effect
upon him; and Mr. Arnold, seeing the anxious way in which he
glanced now and then at his pupil, and divining the reason, by
the instinct of his affection, with far more than his usual acuteness,
tried likewise to turn it aside, as often as it inclined that
way. Still a few words were let fall by the visitors, which made
Harry stare. Hugh took him away as soon as breakfast was
over.
In the afternoon, Funkelstein called to inquire after the
ladies; and hoped he had no injury to their health to lay on
his conscience. Mr. Arnold, who had a full allowance of curiosity,
its amount being frequently in an inverse ratio to that
of higher intellectual gifts, begged him to spend the rest of the
day with them; but not to say a word of what had passed the
day before, till after Harry had retired for the night.
Renewed conversation led to renewed experiments in the
library. Hugh, however, refused to have anything more to do
with the plate-writing; for he dreaded its influence on his physical
nature, attributing, as I have said, the vision of Margaret
to a cerebral affection. And the plate did not seem to work
satisfactorily with any one else, except Funkelstein, who, for his
part, had no great wish to operate. Recourse was had to a more
vulgar method — that of expectant solicitation of those noises
whereby the prisoners in the aerial vaults are supposed capable
of communicating with those in this earthly cell. Certainly,
raps were heard from some quarter or another; and when the
lights were extinguished, and the crescent moon only allowed
to shine in the room, some commotion was discernible amongst
the furniture. Several light articles flew about. A pen-wiper
alighted on Euphra's lap, and a sofa-pillow gently disarranged
Mrs. Elton's cap. Most of the artillery, however, was directed
against Lady Emily; and she it was who saw, in a faint stream
of moonlight, a female arm uplifted towards her, from under a
table, with a threatening motion. It was bare to the elbow, and
draped above. It showed first a clenched fist, and next an open
hand, palm outwards, making a repellent gesture. Then the
back of the hand was turned, and it motioned her away, as if
she had been an importunate beggar. But at this moment, one
of the doors opened, and a dark figure passed through the room
towards the opposite door. Everything that could be called
ghostly, ceased instantaneously. The arm vanished. The company
breathed more freely.
Lady Emily, who had been on the point of going into hysterics,
recovered herself, and overcame the still lingering impulse:
she felt as if she had awaked from a momentary aberration of
the intellect. Mr. Arnold proceeded to light the candles, saying,
in a righteous tone:
"I think we have had enough of this nonsense."
When the candles were lighted, there was no one to be seen
in the room besides themselves. Several, Hugh amongst them,
had observed the figure; but all had taken it for part of the
illusive phantasmagoria. Hugh would have concluded it a
variety of his vision of the former night; but others had seen it
as well as he.
There was no renewal of the experiments that night. But
all were in a very unhealthy state of excitement. Vague fear,
vague wonder, and a certain indescribable oppression, had
dimmed for the time all the clearer vision, and benumbed all
the nobler faculties of the soul. Lady Emily was affected the
most. Her eyes looked scared; there was a bright spot on
one cheek amidst deathly paleness; and she seemed very unhappy.
Mrs. Elton became alarmed, and this brought her back
to a more rational condition. She persuaded Lady Emily to go
to bed.
But the contagion spread; and indistinct terrors were no
longer confined to the upper portions of the family. The bruit
revived, which had broken out a year before — that the house
was haunted. It was whispered that, the very night after the
occurrences, the Ghost's Walk had been in use as the name
signified: a figure in death-garments had been seen gliding
along the deserted avenue, by one of the maid-servants; the
truth of whose story was corroborated by the fact that, to support
it, she did not hesitate to confess that she had escaped from
the house, nearly at midnight, to meet one of the grooms in a
part of the wood contiguous to the avenue in question. Mr.
Arnold instantly dismissed her — not on the ground of the intrigue,
he took care to let her know, although that was bad
enough, but because she was a fool, and spread absurd and annoying
reports about the house. Mr. Arnold's usual hatred of
what he called superstition, was rendered yet more spiteful by
the fact, that the occurrences of the week had had such an
effect on his own mind, that he was mortally afraid lest he should
himself sink into the same limbo of vanity. The girl, however,
was, or pretended to be, quite satisfied with her discharge, protesting
she would not have staid for the world; and as the
groom, whose wages happened to have been paid the day before,
took himself off the same evening, it may be hoped her satisfaction
was not altogether counterfeit.
"If all tales be true," said Mrs. Elton, "Lady Euphrasia is
where she can't get out."
"But if she repented before she died?" said Euphra, with a
muffled scorn in her tone.
"My dear Miss Cameron, do you call becoming a nun — repentance?
We Protestants know very well what that means.
Besides, your uncle does not believe it."
"Haven't you found out yet, dear Mrs. Elton, what my uncle's
favourite phrase is?"
"No. What is it?"
"I don't believe it."
"You naughty girl!"
"I'm not naughty," answered Euphra, affecting to imitate the
simplicity of a chidden child. "My uncle is so fond of casting
doubt upon everything! If salvation goes by quantity, his faith
won't save him."
Euphra knew well enough that Mrs. Elton was no tell-tale.
The good lady had hopes of her from this moment, because she
all but quoted Scripture to condemn her uncle; the verdict corresponding
with her own judgment of Mr. Arnold, founded on
the clearest assertions of Scripture; strengthened somewhat, it
must be confessed, by the fact that the spirits, on the preceding
evening but one, had rapped out the sentence: "Without faith
it is impossible to please him."
Lady Emily was still in bed, but apparently more sick in mind
than in body. She said she had tossed about all the previous
night without once falling asleep; and her maid, who had slept in
the dressing-room without waking once, corroborated the assertion.
In the morning, Mrs. Elton, wishing to relieve the maid,
sent Margaret to Lady Emily. Margaret arranged the bed--
clothes and pillows, which were in a very uncomfortable condition,
sat down behind the curtain; and, knowing that it would
please Lady Emily, began to sing, in what the French call a
veiled voice, The Land o' the Leal. Now the air of this lovely
song is the same as that of Scots wha hae; but it is the pibroch
of onset changed into the coronach of repose, singing of the land
beyond the battle, of the entering in of those who have fought
the good fight, and fallen in the field. It is the silence after
the thunder. Before she had finished, Lady Emily was fast
asleep. A sweet peaceful half smile lighted her troubled face
graciously, like the sunshine that creeps out when it can, amidst
the rain of an autumn day, saying, "I am with you still, though
we are all troubled." Finding her thus at rest, Margaret left
the room for a minute, to fetch some work. When she returned,
she found her tossing, and moaning, and apparently on
the point of waking. As soon as she sat down by her, her
trouble diminished by degrees, till she lay in the same peaceful
sleep as before. In this state she continued for two or three
hours, and awoke much refreshed. She held out her little hand
to Margaret, and said:
"Thank you. Thank you. What a sweet creature you
are!"
And Lady Emily lay and gazed in loving admiration at the
face of the lady's-maid.
"Shall I send Sarah to you now, my lady?" said Margaret;
"or would you like me to stay with you?"
"Oh! you, you, please — if Mrs. Elton can spare you."
"She will only think of your comfort, I know, my lady."
"That recalls me to my duty, and makes me think of her."
"But your comfort will be more to her than anything else."
"In that case you must stay, Margaret."
"With pleasure, my lady."
Mrs. Elton entered, and quite confirmed what Margaret had
said.
"But," she added, "it is time Lady Emily had something to
eat. Go to the cook, Margaret, and see if the beef-tea Miss
Cameron ordered is ready."
Margaret went.
"What a comfort it is," said Mrs. Elton, wishing to interest
Lady Emily, "that now-a-days, when infidelity is so rampant,
such corroborations of Sacred Writ are springing up on all
sides! There are the discoveries at Nineveh; and now these
Spiritual Manifestations, which bear witness so clearly to another
world."
But Lady Emily made no reply. She began to toss about as
before, and show signs of inexplicable discomfort. Margaret
had hardly been gone two minutes, when the invalid moaned
out:
"What a time Margaret is gone! — when will she be back?"
"I am here, my love," said Mrs. Elton.
"Yes, yes; thank you. But I want Margaret."
"She will be here presently. Have patience, my dear."
"Please, don't let Miss Cameron come near me. I am
afraid I am very wicked, but I can't bear her to come near
me."
"No, no, dear; we will keep you to ourselves."
"Is Mr. — the foreign gentleman, I mean — below?"
"No. He is gone."
"Are you sure? I can hardly believe it."
"What do you mean, dear? I am sure he is gone."
Lady Emily did not answer. Margaret returned. She took
the beef-tea, and grew quiet again.
"You must not leave her ladyship, Margaret," whispered her
mistress. "She has taken it into her head to like no one but
you, and you must just stay with her."
"Very well, ma'am. I shall be most happy."
Mrs. Elton left the room. Lady Emily said:
"Read something to me, Margaret."
"What shall I read?"
"Anything you like."
Margaret got a Bible, and read to her one of her father's
favourite chapters, the fortieth of Isaiah.
"I have no right to trust in God, Margaret."
"Why, my lady?"
"Because I do not feel any faith in him; and you know we
cannot be accepted without faith."
"That is to make God as changeable as we are, my lady."
"But the Bible says so."
"I don't think it does; but if an angel from heaven said so,
I would not believe it."
"Margaret!"
"My lady, I love God with all my heart, and I cannot bear
you should think away of him. You might as well say that a
mother would go away from her little child, lying moaning in
the dark, because it could not see her, and was afraid to put its
hand out into the dark to feel for her."
"Then you think he does care for us, even when we are very
wicked. But he cannot bear wicked people."
"Who dares to say that?" cried Margaret. "Has he not
been making the world go on and on, with all the wickedness
that is in it; yes, making new babies to be born of thieves and
murderers and sad women and all, for hundreds of years? God
help us, Lady Emily! If he cannot bear wicked people, then
this world is hell itself, and the Bible is all a lie, and the Saviour
did never die for sinners. It is only the holy Pharisees that
can't bear wicked people."
"Oh! how happy I should be, if that were true! I should
not be afraid now."
"You are not wicked, dear Lady Emily; but if you were, God
would bend over you, trying to get you back, like a father over
his sick child. Will people never believe about the lost sheep?"
"Oh! yes; I believe that. But then —
"You can't trust it quite. Trust in God, then, the very
father of you — and never mind the words. You have been
taught to turn the very words of God against himself."
Lady Emily was weeping.
"Lady Emily," Margaret went on, "if I felt my heart as
hard as a stone; if I did not love God, or man, or woman, or
little child, I would yet say to God in my heart: 'O God, see
how I trust thee, because thou art perfect, and not changeable
like me. I do not love thee. I love nobody. I am not even
sorry for it. Thou seest how much I need thee to come close
to me, to put thy arm round me, to say to me, my child; for
the worse my state, the greater my need of my father who loves
me. Come to me, and my day will dawn. My beauty and my
love will come back; and oh! how I shall love thee, my God!
and know that my love is thy love, my blessedness thy being.'"
As Margaret spoke, she seemed to have forgotten Lady Emily's
presence, and to be actually praying. Those who cannot receive
such words from the lips of a lady's-maid, must be reminded
what her father was, and that she had lost him. She had had
advantages at least equal to those which David the Shepherd
had — and he wrote the Psalms.
She ended with:
"I do not even desire thee to come, yet come thou."
She seemed to pray entirely as Lady Emily, not as Margaret.
When she had ceased, Lady Emily said, sobbing:
"You will not leave me, Margaret? I will tell you why
another time."
"I will not leave you, my dear lady."
Margaret stooped and kissed her forehead. Lady Emily
threw her arms round her neck, and offered her mouth to be
kissed by the maid. In another minute she was fast asleep,
with Margaret seated by her side, every now and then glancing
up at her from her work, with a calm face, over which brooded
the mist of tears.
That night, as Hugh paced up and down the floor of his study
about midnight, he was awfully startled by the sudden opening
of the door and the apparition of Harry in his nightshirt, pale
as death, and scarcely able to articulate the words:
"The ghost! the ghost!"
He took the poor boy in his arms, held him fast, and comforted
him. When he was a little soothed,
"Oh, Harry!" he said, lightly, "you've been dreaming.
Where's the ghost?"
"In the Ghost's Walk," cried Harry, almost shrieking anew
with terror.
"How do you know it is there?"
"I saw it from my window. — I couldn't sleep. I got up and
looked out — I don't know why — and I saw it! I saw it!"
The words were followed by a long cry of terror.
"Come and show it to me," said Hugh, wanting to make light
of it.
"No, no, Mr. Sutherland — please not. I couldn't go back
into that room."
"Very well, dear Harry; you shan't go back. You shall
sleep with me, to-night."
"Oh! thank you, thank you, dear Mr. Sutherland. You will
love me again, won't you?"
This touched Hugh's heart. He could hardly refrain from
tears. His old love, buried before it was dead, revived. He
clasped the boy to his heart, and carried him to his own bed;
then, to comfort him, undressed and lay down beside him,
without even going to look if he too might not see the ghost.
She had brought about one good thing at least that night;
though, I fear, she had no merit in it.
Lady Emily's room likewise looked out upon the Ghost's
Walk. Margaret heard the cry as she sat by the sleeping
Emily; and, not knowing whence it came, went, naturally
enough, in her perplexity, to the window. From it she could
see distinctly, for it was clear moonlight: a white figure went
gliding away along the deserted avenue. She immediately
guessed what the cry had meant; but as she had heard a door
bang directly after (as Harry shut his behind him with a terrified
instinct, to keep the awful window in), she was not very
uneasy about him. She felt besides that she must remain where
she was, according to her promise to Lady Emily. But she
resolved to be prepared for the possible recurrence of the same
event, and accordingly revolved it in her mind. She was sure
that any report of it coining to Lady Emily's ears, would greatly
impede her recovery; for she instinctively felt that her illness
had something to do with the questionable occupations in the
library. She watched by her bedside all the night, slumbering
at times, but roused in a moment by any restlessness of the
patient; when she found that, simply by laying her hand on
hers, or kissing her forehead, she could restore her at once to
quiet sleep.
CHAPTER XIX.
THE GHOST'S WALE
Thierry. — 'Tis full of fearful shadows.
Ordella.— So is sleep, sir;
Or anything that's merely ours, and mortal;
We were begotten gods else. But those fears
Feeling but once the fires of nobler thoughts,
Fly, like the shapes of clouds we form, to nothing.
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. — Thierry and Theodoret.
MARGARET sat watching the waking of Lady Emily. Knowing
how much the first thought colours the feeling of the whole
day, she wished that Lady Emily should at once be aware that
she was by her side.
She opened her eyes, and a smile broke over her face when
she perceived her nurse. But Margaret did not yet speak to
her.
Every nurse should remember that waking ought always to
be a gradual operation; and, except in the most triumphant
health, is never complete on the opening of the eyes.
"Margaret, I am better," said Lady Emily, at last.
"I am very glad, my lady."
"I have been lying awake for some time, and I am sure I am,
better. I don't see strange-coloured figures floating about the
room as I did yesterday. Were you not out of the room a few
minutes ago?"
"Just for one moment, my lady."
"I knew it. But I did not mind it. Yesterday, when you
left me, those figures grew ten times as many, the moment you
were gone. But you will stay with me to-day, too, Margaret?"
she added, with some anxiety.
"I will, if you find you need me. But I may be forced to
leave you a little while this evening — you must try to allow me
this, dear Lady Emily."
"Of course I will. I will be quite patient, I promise you,
whatever comes to me."
When Harry woke, after a very troubled sleep, from which he
had often started with sudden cries of terror, Hugh made him
promise not to increase the confusion of the household, by
speaking of what he had seen. Harry promised at once, but
begged in his turn that Hugh would not leave him all day. It
did not need the pale scared face of his pupil to enforce that
request; for Hugh was already anxious lest the fright the boy
had had, should exercise a permanently deleterious effect on his
constitution. Therefore he hardly let him out of his sight.
But although Harry kept his word, the cloud of perturbation
gathered thicker in the kitchen and the servants' hall. Nothing
came to the ears of their master and mistress; but gloomy
looks, sudden starts, and sidelong glances of fear, indicated the
prevailing character of the feelings of the household.
And although Lady Emily was not so ill, she had not yet taken
a decided turn for the better, but appeared to suffer from some
kind of low fever. The medical man who was called in, confessed
to Mrs. Elton, that as yet he could say nothing very
decided about her condition, but recommended great quiet and
careful nursing. Margaret scarcely left her room, and the
invalid showed far more than the ordinary degree of dependence
upon her nurse. In her relation to her, she was more like
child than an invalid.
About noon she was better. She called Margaret and said to
her:
"Margaret, dear, I should like to tell you one thing that
annoys me very much."
"What is it, dear Lady Emily?"
"That man haunts me. I cannot bear the thought of him;
and yet I cannot get rid of him. I am sure he is a bad man.
Are you certain he is not here?"
"Yes, indeed, my lady. He has not been here since the day
before yesterday."
"And yet when you leave me for an instant, I always feel as
if he were sitting in the very seat where you were the moment
before, or just coming to the door and about to open it. That
is why I cannot bear you to leave me."
Margaret might have confessed to some slighter sensations of
the same kind; but they did not oppress her as they did Lady
Emily.
"God is nearer to you than any thought or feeling of yours,
Lady Emily. Do not be afraid. If all the evil things in the
universe were around us, they could not come inside the ring
that he makes about us. He always keeps a place for himself
and his child, into which no other being can enter."
"Oh! how you must love God, Margaret!"
"Indeed I do love him, my lady. If ever anything looks
beautiful or lovely to me, then I know at once that God is
that."
But, then, what right have we to take the good of that,
however true it is, when we are not beautiful ourselves?"
"That only makes God the more beautiful — in that he will
pour out the more of his beauty upon us to make us beautiful.
If we care for his glory, we shall be glad to believe all this
about him. But we are too anxious about feeling good ourselves,
to rejoice in perfect goodness. I think we should
find that enough, my lady. For, if he be good, are not we his
children, and sure of having it, not merely feeling it, some
day?"
Here Margaret repeated a little poem of George Herbert's.
She had found his poems amongst Mrs. Elton's books, who,
coming upon her absorbed in it one day, had made her a
present of the volume. Then indeed Margaret had found a
friend.
The poem is called Dialogue:
"Sweetest Saviour, if my soul
Were but worth the having —"
"Oh, what a comfort you are to me, Margaret!" Lady
Emily said, after a short silence. Where did you learn such
things?"
"From my father, and from Jesus Christ, and from God himself,
showing them to me in my heart."
"Ah! that is why, as often as you come into my room, even
if I am very troubled, I feel as if the sun shone, and the wind
blew, and the birds sang, and the tree-tops went waving in the
wind, as they used to do before I was taken ill — I mean before
they thought I must go abroad. You seem to make everything
clear, and right, and plain. I wish I were you, Margaret."
"If I were you, my lady, I would rather be what God chose
to make me, than the most glorious creature that I could think
of. For to have been thought about — born in God's thoughts
— and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, most precious
thing in all thinking. Is it not, my lady?"
"It is," said Lady Emily, and was silent.
The shadows of evening came on. As soon as it was dark,
Margaret took her place at one of the windows hidden from
Lady Emily by a bed-curtain. She raised the blind, and pulled
aside one curtain, to let her have a view of the trees outside.
She had placed the one candle so as not to shine either on thə
window or on her own eyes. Lady Emily was asleep. One
hour and another passed, and still she sat there — motionless,
watching.
Margaret did not know, that at another window — the one,
indeed, next to her own — stood a second watcher. It was
Hugh, in Harry's room: Harry was asleep in Hugh's. He had
no light. He stood with his face close against the window--
pane, on which the moon shone brightly. All below him the
woods were half dissolved away in the moonlight. The Ghost's
Walk lay full before him, like a tunnel through the trees. He
could see a great way down, by the light that fell into it, at
various intervals, from between the boughs overhead. He stood
thus for a long time, gazing somewhat listlessly. Suddenly he
became all eyes, as he caught the white glimmer of something
passing up the avenue. He stole out of the room, down to the
library by the back-stair, and so through the library window
into the wood. He reached the avenue sideways, at some distance
from the house, and peeped from behind a tree, up and
down. At first he saw nothing. But, a moment after, while
he was looking down the avenue, that is, away from the house,
a veiled figure in white passed him noiselessly from the other
direction. From the way in which he was looking at the
moment, it had passed him before he saw it. It made no
sound. Only some early-fallen leaves rustled as they hurried
away in uncertain eddies, startled by the sweep of its trailing
garments, which yet were held up by hands hidden within them.
On it went. Hugh's eyes were fixed on its course. He could
not move, and his heart laboured so frightfully that he could
hardly breathe. The figure had not advanced far, however,
before he heard a repressed cry of agony, and it sank to the
earth, and vanished; while from where it disappeared, down the
path, came, silently too, turning neither to the right nor the
left, a second figure, veiled in black from head to foot.
"It is the nun in Lady Euphrasia's room," said Hugh to
himself.
This passed him too, and, walking slowly towards the house,
disappeared somewhere, near the end of the avenue. Turning
once more, with reviving courage — for his blood had begun to
flow more equably — Hugh ventured to approach the spot where
the white figure had vanished. He found nothing there but the
shadow of a huge tree. He walked through the avenue to the
end, and then back to the house, but saw nothing; though he
often started at fancied appearances. Sorely bewildered, he
returned to his own room. After speculating till thought was
weary, he lay down beside Harry, whom he was thankful to
find in a still repose, and fell fast asleep.
Margaret lay on a couch in Lady Emily's room, and slept
likewise; but she started wide awake at every moan of the
invalid, who often moaned in her sleep.
CHAPTER XX.
THE BAD MAN.
She kent he was nae gentle knight,
That she had letten in;
For neither when he gaed nor cam',
Kissed he her cheek or chin.
He neither kissed her when he cam'
Nor clappit her when he gaed;
And in and out at her bower window,
The moon shone like the gleed.
Glenkindie. — Old Scotch Ballad.
WHEN Euphra recovered from the swoon into which she had
fallen — for I need hardly explain to my readers, that it was she
who walked the Ghost's Walk in white — on seeing Margaret,
whom, under the irresistible influences of the moonlight and a
bad conscience, she took for the very being whom Euphra herself
was personating — when she recovered, I say, she found
herself lying in the wood, with Funkelstein, whom she had gone
to meet, standing beside her. Her first words were of anger, as
she tried to rise, and found she could not.
"How long, Count Halkar, am I to be your slave?"
"Till you have learned to submit."
"Have I not done all I can?"
"You have not found it. You are free from the moment you
place that ring, belonging to me, in right of my family, into my
hands."
I do not believe that the man really was Count Halkar,
although he had evidently persuaded Euphra that such was his
name and title. I think it much more probable that, in the
course of picking up a mass of trifling information about various
families of distinction, for which his position of secretary in
several of their houses had afforded him special facilities, he had
learned something about the Halkar family, and this particular
ring, of which, for some reason or other, he wanted to possess
himself
"What more can I do?" moaned Euphra, succeeding at
length in raising herself to a sitting posture, and leaning thus
against a tree. "I shall be found out some day. I have been
already seen wandering through the house at midnight, with the
heart of a thief I hate you, Count Halkar!"
A low laugh was the count's only reply.
"And now Lady Euphrasia herself dogs my steps, to keep me
from the ring." She gave a low cry of agony at the remembrance.

"Miss Cameron — Euphra — are you going to give way to such
folly?"
"Folly! Is it not worse folly to torture a poor girl as you
do me — all for a worthless ring? What can you want with the
ring? I do not know that he has it even."
"You lie. You know he has. You need not think to take
me in."
You base man! You dare not give the lie to any but a
woman."
"Why?"
"Because you are a coward. You are afraid of Lady
Euphrasia yourself. See there!"
Von Funkelstein glanced round him uneasily. It was only
the moonlight on the bark of a silver birch. Conscious of
having betrayed weakness, he grew spiteful.
"If you do not behave to me better, I will compel you. Rise
up!"
After a moment's hesitation, she rose.
"Put your arms round me."
She seemed to grow to the earth, and to drag herself from it,
one foot after another. But she came close up to the Bohemian,
and put one arm half round him, looking to the earth all the
time.
"Kiss me."
"Count Halkar!" her voice sounded hollow and harsh, as if
from a dead throat — "I will do what you please. Only release
me."
"Go then; but mind you resist me no more. I do not care
for your kisses. You were ready enough once. But that idiot
of a tutor has taken my place, I see."
"Would to God I had never seen you! — never yielded to
your influence over me! Swear that I shall be free if I find
you the ring."
"You find the ring first. Why should I swear? I can
compel you. You know you laid yourself out to entrap me
first with your arts, and I only turned upon you with mine.
And you are in my power. But you shall be free, notwithstanding;
and I will torture you till you free yourself. Find the
ring."
"Cruel! cruel! You are doing all you can to ruin me."
"On the contrary, I am doing all I can to save myself. If
you had loved me as you allowed me to think once, I should
never have made you my tool."
"You would all the same."
"Take care. I am irritable to-night."
For a few moments Euphra made no reply.
"To what will you drive me?" she said at last.
"I will not go too far. I should lose my power over you if
I did. I prefer to keep it."
"Inexorable man!"
"Yes."
Another despairing pause.
"What am I to do?"
"Nothing. But keep yourself ready to carry out any plan
that I may propose. Something will turn up, now that I have
got into the house myself. Leave me to find out the means.
I can expect no invention from your brains. You can go
home."
Euphra turned without another word, and went; murmuring,
as if in excuse to herself:
"It is for my freedom. It is for my freedom."
Of course this account must have come originally from
Euphra herself, for there was no one else to tell it. She, at
least, believed herself compelled to do what the man pleased.
Some of my readers will put her down as insane. She may
have been; but, for my part, I believe there is such a power of
one being over another, though perhaps only in a rare contact
of psychologically peculiar natures. I have testimony enough
for that. She had yielded to his will once. Had she not done
so, he could not have compelled her; but, having once yielded,
she had not strength sufficient to free herself again. Whether
even he could free her, further than by merely abstaining from
the exercise of the power he had gained, I doubt much.
It is evident that he had come to the neighbourhood of
Arnstead for the sake of finding her, and exercising his power
over her for his own ends; that he had made her come to him
once, if not oftener, before he met Hugh, and by means of his
acquaintance, obtained admission into Arnstead. Once admitted,
he had easily succeeded, by his efforts to please, in so far
ingratiating himself with Mr. Arnold, that now the house-door
stood open to him, and he had even his recognised seat at the
dinner-table.
CHAPTER XXI.
SPIRIT VERSUS MATERIALISM.
Next this marble venomed seat,
Smeared with gums of glutinous heat,
I touch with chaste palms moist and cold —
Now the spell hath lost his hold.
MILTON. — Comus.
NEXT morning Lady Emily felt better, and wanted to get up:
but In eyes were still too bright, and her hands too hot; and
Margaret would not hear of it.
Fond as Lady Emily was in general of Mrs. Elton's society,
she did not care to have her with her now, and got tired of her
when Margaret was absent.
They had taken care not to allow Miss Cameron to enter the
room; but to-day there was not much likelihood of her making
the attempt, for she did not appear at breakfast, sending a
message to her uncle that she had a bad headache, but hoped
to take her place at the dinner-table.
During the day, Lady Emily was better, but restless by fits.
"Were you not out of the room for a little while last night,
Margaret?" she said, rather suddenly.
"Yes, my lady. I told you I should have to go, perhaps."
"I remember I thought you had gone, but I was not in the
least afraid, and that dreadful man never came near me. I do
not know when you returned. Perhaps I had fallen asleep;
but when I thought about you next, there you were by my
bedside."
"I shall not have to leave you to-night," was all Margaret's
answer.
As for Hugh, when first he woke, the extraordinary experiences
of the previous night appeared to him to belong only to
the night, and to have no real relation to the daylight world.
But a little reflection soon convinced him of the contrary; and
then he went through the duties of the day like one who had
nothing to do with them. The phantoms he had seen even
occupied some of the thinking space formerly appropriated
by the image of Euphra, though he knew to his concern that
she was ill, and confined to her room. He had heard the
message sent to Mr. Arnold; however, and so kept hoping for
the dinner-hour.
With it came Euphra, very pale. Her eyes had an unsettled
look, and there were dark hollows under them. She would start
and look sideways without any visible cause; and was thus
very different from her usual self — ordinarily remarkable for
self-possession, almost to coolness, of manner and speech. Hugh
saw it, and became both distressed and speculative in consequence.
It did not diminish his discomfort that, about the
middle of dinner, Funkelstein was announced. Was it then,
that Euphra had been tremulously expectant of him?
"This is an unforeseen pleasure, Herr von Funkelstein," said
Mr. Arnold.
"It is very good of you to call it a pleasure, Mr. Arnold,"
said he. "Miss Cameron — but, good heavens! how ill you
look!"
"Don't be alarmed. I have only caught the plague."
"Only?" was all Funkelstein said in reply; yet Hugh
thought he had no right to be so solicitous about Euphra's
health.
As the gentlemen sat at their wine, Mr. Arnold said:
"I am anxious to have one more trial of those strange things
you have brought to our knowledge. I have been thinking
about them ever since."
"Of course I am at your service, Mr. Arnold; but don't you
think, for the ladies' sakes, we have had enough of it?"
"You are very considerate, Herr von Funkelstein; but they
need not be present if they do not like it."
"Very well, Mr. Arnold."
They adjourned once more to the library instead of the
drawing-room. Hugh went and told Euphra, who was alone in
the drawing-room, what they were about. She declined going,
but insisted on his leaving her, and joining the other gentlemen.

Hugh left her with much reluctance.
"Margaret," said Lady Emily, "I am certain that man is in
the house."
"He is, my lady," answered Margaret.
"They are about some more of those horrid experiments, as
they call them."
"I do not know."
Mrs. Elton entering the room at the moment, Margaret said
"Do you know, ma'am, whether the gentlemen are — in
the library again?"
"I don't know, Margaret. I hope not. We have had
enough of that. I will go and find out, though."
"Will you take my place for a few minutes first, please,
ma'am?"
Margaret had felt a growing oppression for some time. She
had scarcely left the sick-room that day.
"Don't leave me, dear Margaret," said Lady Emily, imploringly.

"Only for a little while, my lady. I shall be back in less
than a quarter of an hour."
"Very well, Margaret," she answered dolefully.
Margaret went out into the moonlight, and walked for ten
minutes. She sought the more open parts, where the winds
were. She then returned to the sick-chamber, refreshed and
strong.
"Now I will go and see what the gentlemen are about," said
Mrs. Elton.
The good lady did not like these proceedings, but she was
irresistibly attracted by them notwithstanding. Having gone
to see for Lady Emily, she remained to see for herself.
After she had left, Lady Emily grew more uneasy. Not even
Margaret's presence could make her comfortable. Mrs. Elton
did not return. Many minutes elapsed. Lady Emily said at
last:
"Margaret, I am terrified at the idea of being left alone, I
confess; but not so terrified as at the idea of what is going on
in that library. Mrs. Elton will not come back. Would you
mind just running down to ask her to come to me?"
"I would go with pleasure," said Margaret; "but I don't
want to be seen."
Margaret did not want to be seen by Hugh. Lady Emily,
with her dislike to Funkelstein, thought Margaret did not want
to be seen by him.
"You will find a black veil of mine," she said, "in that
wardrobe — just throw it over your head, and hold a handkerchief
to your face. They will be so busy that they will never
see you."
Margaret yielded to the request of Lady Emily, who herself
arranged her head-dress for her.
Now I must go back a little. — When Mrs. Elton reached the
room, she found it darkened, and the gentlemen seated at the
table. A running fire of knocks was going on all around.
She sat down in a corner. In a minute or two, she fancied
she saw strange figures moving about, generally near the floor,
and very imperfectly developed. Sometimes only a hand,
sometimes only a foot, shadowed itself out of the dim obscurity.
She tried to persuade herself that it was all done, somehow
or other, by Funkelstein, yet she could not help watching
with a curious dread. She was not a very excitable woman,
and her nerves were safe enough.
In a minute or two more, the table at which they were seated,
began to move up and down with a kind of vertical oscillation,
and several things in the room began to slide about, by short,
apparently purposeless jerks. Everything threatened to assume
motion, and turn the library into a domestic chaos. Mrs. Elton
declared afterwards that several books were thrown about the
room. — But suddenly everything was as still as the moonlight.
Every chair and table was at rest, looking perfectly incapable of
motion. Mrs. Elton felt that she dared not say they had moved
at all, so utterly ordinary was their appearance. Not a sound
was to be heard from corner or ceiling. After a moment's
silence, Mrs. Elton was quite restored to her sound mind, as she
said, and left the room.
"Some adverse influence is at work," said Funkelstein, with
some vexation. "What is in that closet?"
So saying he approached the door of the private staircase,
and opened it. They saw him start aside, and a veiled dark
figure pass him, cross the library, and go out by another door.
"I have my suspicions," said Funkelstein, with a rather
tremulous voice.
"And your fears too, I think. Grant it now," said Mr.
Arnold.
"Granted, Mr. Arnold. Let us go to the drawing-room."
Just as Margaret had reached the library door at the bottom
of the private stair, either a puff of wind from an open loophole
window, or some other cause, destroyed the arrangement
of the veil, and made it fall quite over her face. She stopped
for a moment to readjust it. She had not quite succeeded,
when Funkelstein opened the door. Without an instant's
hesitation, she let the veil fall, and walked forward.
Mrs. Elton had gone to her own room, on her way to Lady
Emily's. When she reached the latter, she found Margaret
seated as she had left her, by the bedside. Lady Emily said:
"I did not miss you, Margaret, half so much as I expected.
But, indeed, you were not many moments gone. I do not care
for that man now. He can't hurt me, can he?"
"Certainly not. I hope he will give you no more trouble
either, dear Lady Emily. But if I might presume to advise
you, I would say — Get well as soon as you can, and leave this
place."
"Why should I? You frighten me. Mr. Arnold is very
kind to me."
"The place quite suits Lady Emily, I am sure, Margaret."
"But Lady Emily is not so well as when she came."
"No, but that is not the fault of the place," said Lady
Emily. "I am sure it is all that horrid man's doing."
"How else will you get rid of him, then? What if he wants
to get rid of you?"
"What harm can I be doing him — a poor girl like me?"
"I don't know. But I fear there is something not right
going on."
"We will tell Mr. Arnold at once," said Mrs. Elton.
"But what could you tell him, ma'am? Mr. Arnold is
hardly one to listen to your maid's suspicions. Dear Lady
Emily, you must get well and go."
"I will try," said Lady Emily, submissive as a child.
"I think you will be able to get up for a little while tomorrow."

A tap came to the door. It was Euphrasia, inquiring after
Lady Emily.
"Ask Miss Cameron to come in," said the invalid.
She entered. Her manner was much changed — was subdued
and suffering.
"Dear Miss Cameron, you and I ought to change places. I
am sorry to see you looking so ill," said Lady Emily.
"I have had a headache all day. I shall be quite well tomorrow,
thank you."
"I intend to be so too," said Lady Emily, cheerfully.
After some little talk, Euphra went, holding her hand to her
forehead. Margaret did not look up, all the time she was in
the room, but went on busily with her needle.
That night was a peaceful one.
CHAPTER XXII.
THE RING.
shining crystal, which
Out of her womb a thousand rayons threw.
BELLAY: translated by Spenser.
THE next day, Lady Emily was very nearly as well as she had
proposed being. She did not, however, make her appearance
below. Mr. Arnold, hearing at luncheon that she was out of
bed, immediately sent up his compliments, with the request that
he might be permitted to see her on his return from the neighbouring
village, where he had some business. To this Lady
Emily gladly consented.
He sat with her a long time, talking about various things;
for the presence of the girl, reminding him of his young wife,
brought out the best of the man, lying yet alive under the incrustation
of self-importance, and its inevitable stupidity. At
length, subject of further conversation failing,
"I wonder what we can do to amuse you, Lady Emily,"
said he.
"Thank you, Mr. Arnold; I am not at all dull. With my
kind friend, Mrs. Elton, and —"
She would have said Margaret, but became instinctively aware
that the mention of her would make Mr. Arnold open his eyes,
for he did not even know her name; and that he would stare
yet wider when he learned that the valued companion referred
to was Mrs. Elton's maid.
Mr. Arnold left the room, and presently returned with his
arms filled with all the drawing-room books he could find, with
grand bindings outside, and equally grand plates inside. These
he heaped on the table beside Lady Emily, who tried to look
interested, but scarcely succeeded to Mr. Arnold's satisfaction,
for he presently said:
"You don't seem to care much about these, dear Lady Emily.
I daresay you have looked at them all already, in this dull house
of ours."
This was a wonderful admission from Mr. Arnold. He pondered
— then exclaimed, as if he had just made a grand discovery:

"I have it! I know something that will interest you."
"Do not trouble yourself, pray, Mr. Arnold," said Lady Emily.
But he was already half way to the door.
He went to his own room, and his own strong closet
therein.
Returning towards the invalid's quarters with an ebony box
of considerable size, he found it rather heavy, and meeting
Euphra by the way, requested her to take one of the silver
handles, and help him to carry it to Lady Emily's room. She
started when she saw it, but merely said:
"With pleasure, uncle."
"Now, Lady Emily," said he, as, setting down the box, he
took out a curious antique enamelled key, "we shall be able to
amuse you for a little while."
He opened the box, and displayed such a glitter and show as
would have delighted the eyes of any lady. All kinds of strange
ornaments; ancient watches — one of them a death's head in
gold; cameo necklaces; pearls abundant; diamonds, rubies,
and all the colours of precious stones — every one of them having
some history, whether known to the owner or not; gems that
had flashed on many a fair finger and many a shining neck —
lay before Lady Emily's delighted eyes. But Euphrasia's eyes
shone, as she gazed on them, with a very different expression
from that which sparkled in Lady Emily's. They seemed to
search them with fingers of lightning. Mr. Arnold chose two
or three, and gave Lady Emily her choice of them.
"I could not think of depriving you."
"They are of no use to me," said Mr. Arnold, making light
of the handsome offer.
"You are too kind. — I should like this ring."
"Take it then, dear Lady Emily."
Euphrasia's eyes were not on the speakers, nor was any
envy to be seen in her face. She still gazed at the jewels in
the box.
The chosen gem was put aside; and then, one after another,
the various articles were taken out and examined. At length,
a large gold chain, set with emeralds, was lifted from where
lay coiled up in a corner. A low cry, like a muffled moan,
escaped from Euphrasia's lips, and she turned her head away
from the box.
"What is the matter, Euphra?" said Mr. Arnold.
"A sudden shoot of pain — I beg your pardon, dear uncle.
fear I am not quite so well yet as I thought I was. How stupid
of me!"
"Do sit down. I fear the weight of the box was too much
for you."
"Not in the least. I want to see the pretty things."
"But you have seen them before."
"No, uncle. You promised to show them to me, but you
never did."
"You see what I get by being ill," said Lady Emily.
The chain was examined, admired, and laid aside.
Where it had lain, they now observed, in the corner, a huge
stone like a diamond.
"What is this?" said Lady Emily, taking it up. "Oh! I
see. It is a ring. But such a ring for size, I never saw. Do
look, Miss Cameron."
For Miss Cameron was not looking. She was leaning her
head on her hand, and her face was ashy pale. Lady Emily
tried the ring on. Any two of her fingers would go into the
broad gold circlet, beyond which the stone projected far in every
direction. Indeed, the ring was attached to the stone, rather
than the stone set in the ring.
"That is a curious thing, is it not?" said Mr. Arnold. "It
is of no value in itself, I believe; it is nothing but a crystal.
But it seems to have been always thought something of in the
family; — I presume from its being evidently the very ring
painted by Sir Peter Lely in that portrait of Lady Euphrasia
which I showed you the other day. It is a clumsy affair, is it
not?"
It might have occurred to Mr. Arnold, that such a thing
must have been thought, something of, before its owner would
have chosen to wear it when sitting for her portrait.
Lady Emily was just going to lay it down, when she spied
something that made her look at it more closely.
"What curious engraving is this upon the gold?" she asked.
"I do not know, indeed," answered Mr. Arnold. "I have
never observed it."
"Look at it, then — all over the gold. What at first looks
only like chasing, is, I do believe, words. The character looks
to me like German. I wish I could read it. I am but a poor
German scholar. Do look at it, please, dear Miss Cameron."
Euphra glanced slightly at it without touching it, and said:
"I am sure I could make nothing of it. — But," she added, as
if struck by a sudden thought, "as Lady Emily seems interested
in it — suppose we send for Mr. Sutherland. I have no doubt
he will be able to decipher it."
She rose as if she would go for him herself; but, apparently
on second thoughts, went to the bell and rang it.
"Oh! do not trouble yourself," interposed Lady Emily, in a
tone that showed she would like it notwithstanding.
"No trouble at all," answered Euphra and her uncle in a
breath.
"Jacob," said Mr. Arnold, "take my compliments to Mr.
Sutherland, and ask him to step this way."
The man went, and Hugh came.
"There's a puzzle for you, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold,
as he entered. "Decipher that inscription, and gain the favour
of Lady Emily for ever."
As he spoke he put the ring in Hugh's hand. Hugh recognized
it at once.
"Ah! this is Lady Euphrasia's wonderful ring," said he.
Euphra cast on him one of her sudden glances.
"What do you know about it?" said Mr. Arnold, hastily.
Euphra flashed at him once more, covertly.
"I only know that this is the ring in her portrait. Any one
may see that it is a very wonderful ring indeed, by only looking
at it," answered Hugh, smiling.
"I hope it is not too wonderful for you to get at the mystery
of it, though, Mr. Sutherland?" said Lady Emily.
"Lady Emily is dying to understand the inscription," said
Euphrasia.
By this time Hugh was turning it round and round, trying to
get a beginning to the legend. But in this he met with a difficulty.
The fact was, that the initial letter of the inscription
could only be found by looking into the crystal held close to the
eye. The words seemed not altogether unknown to him, though
the characters were a little strange, and the words themselves
were undivided. The dinner bell rang.
"Dear me! how the time goes in your room, Lady Emily!"
said Mr. Arnold, who was never known to keep dinner waiting a
moment. "Will you venture to go down with us to-day?"
"I fear I must not to-day. To-morrow, I hope. But do put
up these beauties before you go. I dare not touch them without
you, and it is so much more pleasure seeing them, when I have
you to tell me about them."
"Well, throw them in," said Mr. Arnold, pretending an indifference
he did not feel. "The reality of dinner must not be
postponed to the fancy of jewels."
All this time Hugh had stood poring over the ring at the
window, whither he had taken it for better light, as the shadows
were falling. Euphra busied herself replacing everything in the
box. When all were in, she hastily shut the lid.
"Well, Mr. Sutherland?" said Mr. Arnold.
"I seem on the point of making it out, Mr. Arnold, but I certainly
have not succeeded yet."
"Confess yourself vanquished, then, and come to dinner."
"I am very unwilling to give in, for I feel convinced that if
I had leisure to copy the inscription as far as I can read it, I
should, with the help of my dictionary, soon supply the rest. I
am very unveiling, as well, to lose a chance of the favour of Lady
Emily."
"Yes, do read it, if you can. I too am dying to hear it," said
Euphra.
"Will you trust me with it, Mr. Arnold? I will take the
greatest care of it."
"Oh, certainly!" replied Mr. Arnold — with a little hesitation
in his tone, however, of which Hugh was too eager to take
any notice.
He carried it to his room immediately, and laid it beside his
manuscript verses, in the hiding-place of the old escritoire. He
was in the drawing-room a moment after.
There he found Euphra and the Bohemian alone. — Von
Funkelstein had, in an incredibly short space of time, established
himself as Hausfreund, and came and went as he pleased. — They
looked as if they had been interrupted in a hurried and earnest
conversation — their faces were so impassive. Yet Euphra's
wore a considerably heightened colour — a more articulate
indication. She could school her features, but not her complexion.

CHAPTER XXIII.
THE WAGER.
He … stakes this ring;
And would so, had it been a carbuncle
Of Phœbus' wheel; and might so safely, had it
Been all the worth of his car.
Cymbeline.
HUGH, of course, had an immediate attack of jealousy. Wishing
to show it in one quarter, and hide it in every other, he
carefully abstained from looking once in the direction of Euphra;
while, throughout the dinner, he spoke to every one else as
often as there was the smallest pretext for doing so. To enable
himself to keep this up, he drank wine freely. As he was in
general very moderate, by the time the ladies rose, it had begun
to affect his brain. It was not half so potent, however, in its
influences, as the parting glance which Euphra succeeded at
last, as she left the room, in sending through his eyes to his
heart.
Hugh sat down to the table again, with a quieter tongue, but
a busier brain. He drank still, without thinking of the consequences.
A strong will kept him from showing any signs of
intoxication, but he was certainly nearer to that state than he
had ever been in his life before.
The Bohemian started the new subject which generally follows
the ladies' departure.
"How long is it since Arnstead was first said to be haunted,
Mr. Arnold?"
"Haunted! Herr von Funkelstein? I am at a loss to understand
you," replied Mr. Arnold, who resented any such allusion,
being subversive of the honour of his house, almost as much as
if it had been depreciative of his own.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Arnold. I thought it was an open
subject of remark."
"So it is," said Hugh; "every one knows that."
Mr. Arnold was struck dumb with indignation. Before he
had recovered himself sufficiently to know what to say, the conversation
between the other two had assumed a form to which
his late experiences inclined him to listen with some degree of
interest. But, his pride sternly forbidding him to join in it, he
sat sipping his wine in careless sublimity.
"You have seen it yourself, then?" said the Bohemian.
"I did not say that," answered Hugh. "But I heard one of
the maids say once — when —"
He paused.
This hesitation of his witnessed against him afterwards, in
Mr. Arnold's judgment. But he took no notice now. — Hugh
ended tamely enough:
"Why, it is commonly reported amongst the servants."
"With a blue light? — Such as we saw that night from the
library window, I suppose."
"I did not say that," answered Hugh. "Besides, it was
nothing of the sort you saw from the library. It was only the
moon. But —
He paused again. Von Funkelstein saw the condition he was
in, and pressed him.
"You know something more, Mr. Sutherland."
Hugh hesitated again, but only for a moment.
"Well, then," he said, "I have seen the spectre myself,
walking in her white grave-clothes, in the Ghost's Avenue —
ha! ha!"
Funkelstein looked anxious.
"Were you frightened?" said he.
"Frightened!" repeated Hugh, in a tone of the greatest
contempt. "I am of Don Juan's opinion with regard to such
gentry."
"What is that?"
"'That soul and body, on the whole,
Are odds against a disembodied soul.'"
"Bravo!" cried the count. "You despise all these tales
about Lady Euphrasia, wandering about the house with a death--
candle in her hand, looking everywhere about as if she had lost
something, and couldn't find it?"
"Pooh! pooh! I wish I could meet her!"
"Then you don't believe a word of it?"
"I don't say that. There would be less of courage than
boasting in talking so, if I did not believe a word of it."
"Then you do believe it?"
But Hugh was too much of a Scotchman to give a hasty
opinion, or rather a direct answer — even when half-tipsy; especially
when such was evidently desired. He only shook and
nodded his head at the same moment.
"Do you really mean you would meet her if you could?"
"I do."
"Then, if all tales are true, you may, without much difficulty.
For the coachman told me only to-day, that you may see her
light in the window of that room almost any night, towards
midnight. He told me, too (for I made quite a friend of him
to-day, on purpose to hear his tales), that one of the maids, who
left the other day, told the groom — and he told the coachman —
that she had once heard talking; and, peeping through the
key-hole of a door that led into that part of the old house, saw
a figure, dressed exactly like the picture of Lady Euphrasia,
wandering up and down, wringing her hands and beating her
breast, as if she were in terrible trouble. She had a light in her
hand which burned awfully blue, and her face was the face of a
corpse, with pale-green spots."
"You think to frighten me, Funkelstein, and make me
tremble at what I said a minute ago. Instead of repeating that,
I say now: I will sleep in Lady Euphrasia's room this night, if
you like."
"I lay you a hundred guineas you won't!" cried the Bohemian.

"Done!" said Hugh, offering him his hand. Funkelstein took
it; and so the bet was committed to the decision of courage.
"Well, gentlemen," interposed Mr. Arnold at last, "you
might have left a corner for me somewhere. Without my
permission you will hardly settle your wager."
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Arnold," said Funkelstein. "We
got rather excited over it, and forgot our manners. But I am
quite willing to give it up, if Mr. Sutherland will."
"Not I," said Hugh; — "that is, of course, if Mr. Arnold has
no objection."
"Of course not. My house, ghost and all, is at your service,
gentlemen," responded Mr. Arnold, rising.
They went to the drawing-room. Mr. Arnold, strange to say,
was in a good humour. He walked up to Mrs. Elton, and
said:
"These wicked men have been betting, Mrs. Elton."
"I am surprised they should be so silly," said she, with a
smile, taking it as a joke.
"What have they been betting about?" said Euphra, coming
up to her uncle.
"Herr von Funkelstein has laid a hundred guineas that Mr.
Sutherland will not sleep in Lady Euphrasia's room to-night."
Euphra turned pale.
"By sleep I suppose you mean spend the night?" said Hugh
to Funkelstein. "I cannot be certain of sleeping, you know."
"Of course, I mean that," answered the other; and, turning
to Euphrasia, continued:
"I must say I consider it rather courageous of him to dare
the spectre as he does, for he cannot say he disbelieves in her.
But come and sing me one of the old songs," he added, in an
under tone.
Euphra allowed him to lead her to the piano; but instead of
singing a song to him, she played some noisy music, through
which he and she contrived to talk for some time, without being
overheard; after which he left the room. Euphra then looked
round to Hugh, and begged him with her eyes to come to her.
He could not resist, burning with jealousy as he was.
"Are you sure you have nerve enough for this, Hugh?" she
said, still playing.
"I have had nerve enough to sit still and look at you for the
last half hour," answered Hugh, rudely.
She turned pale, and glanced up at him with a troubled look
Then, without responding to his answer, said:
"I daresay the count is not over-anxious to hold you to your
bet."
"Pray intercede for me with the count, madam," answered
Hugh, sarcastically. "He would not wish the young fool to be
frightened, I daresay. But perhaps he wishes to have an interview
with the ghost himself, and grudges me the privilege."
She turned deadly pale this time, and gave him one terrifled
glance, but made no other reply to his words. Still she
played on.
"You will arm yourself?"
"Against a ghost? Yes, with a stout heart."
"But don't forget the secret door through which we came that
night, Hugh. I distrust the count."
The last words were spoken in a whisper, emphasized into
almost a hiss.
"Tell him I shall be armed. I tell you I shall meet him
bare-handed. Betray me if you like."
Hugh had taken his revenge, and now came the reaction.
He gazed at Euphra; but instead of the injured look, which
was the best he could hope to see, an expression of "pity and
ruth" grew slowly in her face, making it more lovely than ever
in his eyes. At last she seemed on the point of bursting into
tears; and, suddenly changing the music, she began playing a
dead-march. She kept her eyes on the keys. Once more,
only, she glanced round, to see whether Hugh was still by her
side; and he saw that her face was pale as death, and wet with
silent tears. He had never seen her weep before. Be would
have fallen at her feet, had he been alone with her. To hide
his feelings, he left the room, and then the house.
He wandered into the Ghost's Walk; and, finding himself
there, walked up and down in it. This was certainly throwing
the lady a bold challenge, seeing he was going to spend the
night in her room.
The excitement into which jealousy had thrown him, had been
suddenly checked by the sight of Euphra's tears. The reaction,
too, after his partial intoxication, had already begun to set in;
to be accounted for partly by the fact that its source had been
chiefly champagne, and partly by the other fact, that he had
bound himself in honour, to dare a spectre in her own favourite
haunt.
On the other hand, the sight of Euphra's emotion had given
him a far better courage than jealousy or wine could afford. Yet,
after ten minutes passed in the shadows of the Ghost's Walk, he
would not have taken the bet at ten times its amount.
But to lose it now would have been a serious affair for him,
the disgrace of failure unconsidered. If he could have lost a
hundred guineas, it would have been comparatively a slight
matter; but to lose a bet, and be utterly unable to pay it,
would be disgraceful — no better than positive cheating. He
had not thought of this at the time. Nor, even now, was it
more than a passing thought; for he had not the smallest desire
to recede. The ambition of proving his courage to Euphra,
and, far more, the strength just afforded him by the sight of her
tears, were quite sufficient to carry him on to the ordeal. Whether
they would carry him through it with dignity, he did not ask
himself.
And, after all, would the ghost appear? At the best, she
might not come; at the very worst, she would be but a ghost;
and he could say with Hamlet —
"for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing as immortal as itself?"
But then, his jealousy having for the moment intermitted,
Hugh was not able to say with Hamlet —
"I do not set my life at a pin's fee;"
and that had much to do with Hamlet's courage in the affair of
the ghost.
He walked up and down the avenue, till, beginning to feel the
night chilly, he began to feel the avenue eerie; for cold is very
antagonistic to physical courage. But what refuge would he
find in the ghost's room?
He returned to the drawing-room. Von Funkelstein and
Euphra were there alone, but in no proximity. Mr. Arnold soon
entered.
"Shall I have the bed prepared for you, Mr. Sutherland?"
said Euphra.
"Which of your maids will you persuade to that office?" said
Mr. Arnold, with a facetious expression.
"I must do it myself," answered Euphra, "if Mr. Sutherland
persists."
Hugh saw, or thought he saw, the Bohemian dart an angry
glance at Euphra, who shrank under it. But before he could
speak, Mr. Arnold rejoined:
"You can make a bed, then? That is the housemaid's phrase,
is it not?"
"I can do anything another can, uncle."
"Bravo! Can you see the ghost?"
"Yes," she answered, with a low lingering on the sibilant;
looking round, at the same time, with an expression that implied
a hope that Hugh had heard it; as indeed he had.
"What Euphra too?" said Mr. Arnold, in a tone of gentle
contempt.
"Do not disturb the ghost's bed for me," said Hugh. "It
would be a pity to disarrange it, after it has lain so for an age.
Besides, I need not rouse the wrath of the poor spectre more
than can't be helped. If I must sleep in her room, I need not
sleep in her bed. I will lie on the old couch. Herr von Funkelstein,
what proof shall I give you?"
"Your word, Mr. Sutherland," replied Funkelstein, with a
bow.
"Thank you. At what hour must I be there."
"Oh! I don't know. By eleven I should think. Oh! any
time before midnight. That's the ghost's own, is it not? It is
now — let me see — almost ten."
"Then I will go at once," said Hugh, thinking it better to
meet the gradual approach of the phantom-hour in the room
itself, than to walk there through the desolate house, and enter
the room just as the fear would be gathering thickest within it.
Besides, he was afraid that his courage might have broken down
a little by that time, and that he would not be able to conceal
entirely the anticipative dread, whose inroad he had reason to
apprehend.
"I have one good cup of tea yet, Mr. Sutherland," said
Euphra. "Will you not strengthen your nerves with that,
before we lead you to the tomb?"
"Then she will go with me," thought Hugh. "I will, thank
you, Miss Cameron."
He approached the table at which she stood pouring out the
cup of tea. She said, low and hurriedly, without raising her
head:
"Don't go, dear Hugh. You don't know what may happen."
"I will go, Euphra. Not even you shall prevent me."
"I will pay the wager for you — lend you the money."
"Euphra!" — The tone implied many things.
Mr. Arnold approached. Other conversation followed. As
half-past ten chimed from the clock on the chimney-piece, Hugh
rose to go.
"I will just get a book from my room," he said; "and then
perhaps Herr von Funkelstein will be kind enough to see me
make a beginning at least."
"Certainly I will. And I advise you to let the book be
Edgar Poe's Tales."
"No. I shall need all the courage I have, I assure you. I
shall find you here?"
"Yes."
Hugh went to his room, and washed his face and hands.
Before doing so, he pulled off his finger a ring of considerable
value, which had belonged to his father. As he was leaving the
room to return to the company, he remembered that he had left
the ring on the washhand-stand. He generally left it there at
night; but now he bethought himself that, as be was not going
to sleep in the room, it might be as well to place it in the escritoire.
He opened the secret place, and laid the diamond beside
his poems and the crystal ring belonging to Mr. Arnold. This
done, he took up his book again, and, returning to the drawing
room, found the whole party prepared to accompany him. Mr.
Arnold had the keys. Von Funkelstein and he went first, and
Hugh followed with Euphra.
"We will not contribute to your discomfiture by locking the
doors on the way, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold.
"That is, you will not compel me to win the wager in spite of
my fears," said Hugh.
"But you will let the ghost loose on the household," said the
Bohemian, laughing.
"I will be responsible for that," replied Mr. Arnold.
Euphra dropped a little behind with Hugh.
"Remember the secret passage," said she. "You can get out
when you will, whether they lock the door, or not. Don't carry
it too far, Hugh."
"The ghost you mean, Euphra. — I don't think I shall," said
Hugh, laughing. But as he laughed, an involuntary shudder
passed through him.
"Have I stepped over my own grave?" thought he.
They reached the room, and entered. Hugh would have
begged them to lock him in, had he not felt that his knowledge
of the secret door, would, although he intended no use of it,
render such a proposal dishonourable. They gave him the key
of the door, to lock it on the inside, and bade him good night.
They were just leaving him, when Hugh, on whom a new light
had broken at last, in the gradual restoration of his faculties,
said to the Bohemian:
"One word with you, Herr von Funkelstein, if you please."
Funkelstein followed him into the room; when Hugh, half--
closing the door, said:
"I trust to your sympathy, as a gentleman, not to misunderstand
me. I wagered a hundred guineas with you in the heat
of after-dinner talk. I am not at present worth a hundred
shillings."
"Oh!" began Funkelstein, with a sneer, "if you wish to get
off on that ground —"
"Herr von Funkelstein," interrupted Hugh, in a very decided
tone, "I pointed to your sympathy as a gentleman, as the
ground on which I had hoped to meet you now. If you have
difficulty in finding that ground, another may be found tomorrow
without much seeking."
Hugh paused for a moment after making this grand speech;
but Funkelstein did not seem to understand him: he stood in
a waiting attitude. Hugh therefore went on:
"Meantime, what I wanted to say is this: — I have just left
a ring in my room, which, though in value considerably below
the sum mentioned between us, may yet be a pledge of my
good faith, in as far as it is of infinitely more value to me than
can be reckoned in money. It was the property of one who by
birth, and perhaps by social position as well, was Herr von
Funkelstein's equal. The ring is a diamond, and belonged to
my father."
Von Funkelstein merely replied:
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Sutherland, for misunderstanding
you. The ring is quite an equivalent." And making him a
respectful bow, he turned and left him.
CHAPTER XXIV.
THE LADY EUPHRASIA.
The black jades of swart night trot foggy rings
'Bout heaven's brow. 'Tis now stark dead night.
JOHN MARSTON. — Second Part of Antonio and Mellida.
As soon as Hugh was alone, his first action was to lock the
door by which he had entered; his next to take the key from
the lock, and put it in his pocket. He then looked if there
were any other fastenings, and finding an old tarnished brass
bolt as well, succeeded in making it do its duty for the first time
that century, which required some persuasion, as may be supposed.
He then turned towards the other door. As he crossed
the room, he found four candles, a decanter of port, and some
biscuits, on a table — placed there, no doubt, by the kind hands
of Euphra. He vowed to himself that he would not touch the
wine. "I have had enough of that for one night," said he.
But he lighted the candles; and then saw that the couch was
provided with plenty of wraps for the night. One of them — he
recognised to his delight — was a Cameron tartan, often worn by
Euphra. He buried his face in it for a moment, and drew from
it fresh courage. He then went into the furthest recess, lifted
the tapestry, and proceeded to fasten the concealed door. But,
to his discomfiture, he could find no fastening upon it. "No
doubt," thought he, "it does fasten, in some secret way or
other." But he could discover none. There was no mark of
bolt or socket to show whence one had been removed, nor sign
of friction to indicate that the door had ever been made secure
in such fashion. It closed with a spring.
"Then," said Hugh, apostrophising the door, "I must watch
you."
As, however, it was not yet near the time when ghosts are to
be expected, and as he felt very tired, he drank one glass of the
wine, and throwing himself on the couch, drew Euphra's shawl
over him, opened his book, and began to read. But the word
soon vanished in a bewildering dance, and he slept.
He started awake in that agony of fear in which I suppose
most people have awaked in the night, once or twice in the
lives. He felt that he was not alone. But the feeling seemed,
when he recalled it, to have been altogether different from that
with which we recognise the presence of the most unwelcome
bodily visitor. The whole of his nervous skeleton seemed to
shudder and contract. Every sense was intensified to the acme
of its acuteness; while the powers of volition were inoperative.
He could not move a finger.
The moment in which he first saw the object I am about to
describe, he could not recall. The impression made seemed to
have been too strong for the object receiving it, destroying thus
its own traces, as an overheated brand-iron would in dry timber.
Or it may be that, after such a pre-sensation, the cause of
could not surprise him.
He saw, a few paces off, bending as if looking down upon him,
a face which, if described as he described it, would be pronounced
as far past the most liberal boundary-line of art, as
itself had passed beyond that degree of change at which a
human countenance is fit for the upper world no longer, and
must be hidden away out of sight. The lips were dark, and
drawn back from the closed teeth, which were white as those of
a skull. There were spots — in fact, the face corresponded exactly
to the description given by Funkelstein of the reported
ghost of Lady Euphrasia. The dress was point for point correspondent
to that in the picture. Had the portrait of Lady
Euphrasia been hanging on the wall above, instead of the
portrait of the unknown nun, Hugh would have thought, as far
as dress was concerned, that it had come alive, and stepped
from its frame — except for one thing: there was no ring on
the thumb.
It was wonderful to himself afterwards, that he should have
observed all these particulars; but the fact was, that they
rather burnt themselves in upon his brain, than were taken
notice of by him. They returned upon him afterwards by
degrees, as one becomes sensible of the pain of a wound.
But there was one sign of life. Though the eyes were closed,
tears flowed from them; and seemed to have worn channels for
their constant flow down this face of death, which ought to have
been lying still in the grave, returning to its dust, and was
weeping above ground instead. The figure stood for a moment,
as one who would gaze, could she but open her heavy, death--
rusted eyelids. Then, as if in hopeless defeat, she turned away.
And then, to crown the horror literally as well as figuratively,
Hugh saw that her hair sparkled and gleamed goldenly, as the
hair of a saint might, if the aureole were combed down into it.
She moved towards the door with a fettered pace, such as one
might attribute to the dead if they walked; — to the dead body,
I say, not to the living ghost; to that which has lain in the
prison-hold, till the joints are decayed with the grave-damps,
and the muscles are stiff with more than deathly cold. She
dragged one limb after the other slowly and, to appearance,
painfully, as she moved towards the door which Hugh had locked.
When she had gone half-way to the door, Hugh, lying as he
was on a couch, could see her feet, for her dress did not reach
the ground. They were bare, as the feet of the dead ought to
be, which are about to tread softly in the realm of Hades. But
how stained and mouldy and iron-spotted, as if the rain had
been soaking through the spongy coffin, did the dress show
beside the pure whiteness of those exquisite feet! Not a sign
of the tomb was upon them. Small, living, delicately formed,
Hugh, could he have forgot the face they bore above, might
have envied the floor which in their nakedness they seemed to
caress, so lingeringly did they move from it in their noiseless
prog ess.
She reached the door, put out her hand, and touched it.
Hugh saw it open outwards and let her through. Nor did this
strike him as in the smallest degree marvellous. It closed
again behind her, noiseless as her footfalls.
The moment she vanished, the power of motion returned to
him, and Hugh sprang to his feet. He leaped to the door. With
trembling hand he inserted the key, and the lock creaked as he
turned it.
In proof of his being in tolerable possession of his faculties
at the moment, and that what he was relating to me actually
occurred, he told me that he remembered at once that he had
heard that peculiar creak, a few moments before Euphra and he
discovered that they were left alone in this very chamber. He
had never thought of it before.
Still the door would not open: it was bolted as well, and
the bolt was very stiff to withdraw. But at length he succeeded.

When he reached the passage outside, he thought he saw the
glimmer of a light, perhaps in the picture-gallery beyond. Towards
this he groped his way. — He could never account for the
fact, that he left the candles burning in the room behind
him and went forward into the darkness, except by supposing
that his wits had gone astray, in consequence of the
shock the apparition had occasioned them. — When he reached
the gallery, there was no light there; but somewhere in the
distance he saw, or fancied, a faint shimmer.
The impulse to go towards it was too strong to be disputed
with. He advanced with outstretched arms, groping. After a
few steps, he had lost all idea of where he was, or how he ought
to proceed in order to reach any known quarter. The light had
vanished. He stood. — Was that a stealthy step he heard beside
him in the dark? He had no time to speculate, for the next
moment he fell senseless.
CHAPTER XXV.
NEXT MORNING.
Darkness is fled: look, infant morn hath drawn
Bright silver curtains 'bout the couch of night;
And now Aurora's horse trots azure rings,
Breathing fair light about the firmament.
Stand; what's that?
JOHN MARSTON. — Second Part of Antonio and Mellida.
WHEN he came to himself, it was with a slow flowing of the
tide of consciousness. His head ached. Had he fallen down
stairs? — or had he struck his head against some projection, and
so stunned himself? The last he remembered was — standing
quite still in the dark, and hearing something. Had he been
knocked down? He could not tell. — Where was he? Could
the ghost have been all a dream? and this headache be nature's
revenge upon last night's wine? — For he lay on the couch in
the haunted chamber, and on his bosom lay the book over
which he had dropped asleep.
Mingled with all this doubt, there was another. For he
remembered that, when consciousness first returned, he felt as
if he had seen Euphra's face bending down close over his. —
Could it be possible? Had Euphra herself come to see how he
had fared? — The room lay in the grey light of the dawn, but
Euphra was nowhere visible. Could she have vanished ashamed
through the secret door? Or had she been only a phantasy, a
projection outwards of the form that dwelt in his brain; a
phenomenon often occurring when the last of sleeping and the
first of waking are indistinguishably blended in a vague consciousness?

But if it was so, then the ghost? — what of it? Had not his
brain, by the events of the preceding evening, been similarly
prepared with regard to it? Was it not more likely, after all,
that she too was the offspring of his own imagination — the
power that makes images — especially when considered, that she
exactly corresponded to the description given by the Bohemian?
— But had he not observed many points at which the Count
had not even hinted? — Still, it was as natural to expect that an
excited imagination should supply the details of a wholly
imaginary spectacle, as that, given the idea of Euphra's presence,
it should present the detail of her countenance; for the
creation of that which is not, belongs as much to the realm
of the imagination, as the reproduction of that which is.
It seemed very strange to Hugh himself, that he should be
able thus to theorize, before even he had raised himself from
the couch on which, perhaps, after all, he had lain without
moving, throughout that terrible night, swarming with the
horrors of the dead that would not sleep. But the long unconsciousness,
in which he had himself visited the regions of death,
seemed to have restored him, in spite of his aching head, to
perfect mental equilibrium. Or, at least, his brain was quiet
enough to let his mind work. Still, he felt very ghastly within.
He raised himself on his elbow, and looked into the room.
Everything was the same as it had been the night before, only
with an altered aspect in the dawn-light. The dawn has a
peculiar terror of its own, sometimes perhaps even more real in
character, but very different from the terrors of the night and
of candle-light. The room looked as if no ghost could have
passed through its still old musty atmosphere, so perfectly reposeful
did it appear; and yet it seemed as if some umbra, some
temporary and now cast-off body of the ghost, must be lying
or lingering somewhere about it. He rose, and peeped into the
recess where the cabinet stood. Nothing was there but the
well remembered carving and blackness. Having once yielded
to the impulse, he could not keep from peering every moment;
now into one, and now into another of the many hidden corners.
The next suggesting itself for examination, was always one he
could not see from where he stood: — after all, even in the daylight,
there might be some dead thing there — who could tell?
But he remained manfully at his post till the sun rose; till
bell after bell rang from the turret; till, in short, Funkelstein
came to fetch him.
"Good morning, Mr. Sutherland," said he. "How have you
slept?"
"Like a — somnambulist," answered Hugh, choosing the
word for its intensity. "I slept so sound that I woke quite
early."
"I am glad to hear it. But it is nearly time for breakfast,
for which ceremony I am myself hardly in trim yet."
So saying, Funkelstein turned, and walked away with some
precipitation. What occasioned Hugh a little surprise, was,
that he did not ask him one question more as to how he had
passed the night. He had, of course, slept in the house, seeing
he presented himself in deshabille.
Hugh hastened to his own room, where, under the anti--
ghostial influences of the bath, he made up his mind not to say
a word about the apparition to any one.
"Well, Mr. Sutherland, how have you spent the night?"
said Mr. Arnold, greeting him.
"I slept with profound stupidity," answered Hugh; "a
stupidity, in fact, quite worthy of the folly of the preceding
wager."
This was true, as relating to the time during which he had
slept, but was, of course, false in the impression it gave.
"Bravo!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold, with an unwonted impulsiveness.
"The best mood, I consider, in which to meet such
creations of other people's brains! And you positively passed a
pleasant night in the awful chamber? That is something to
tell Euphra. But she is not down yet. You have restored the
character of my house, Mr. Sutherland; and next to his own
character, a man ought to care for that of his house. I am
greatly in your debt, sir."
At this moment, Euphra's maid brought the message, that
her mistress was sorry she was unable to appear at breakfast.
Mrs. Elton took her place.
"The day is so warm and still, Mr. Arnold, that I think
Lady Emily might have a drive to-day. Perhaps Miss Cameron
may be able to join us by that time."
"I cannot think what is the matter with Euphra," said Mr.
Arnold. "She never used to be affected in this way."
"Should you not seek some medical opinion?" said Mrs.
Elton. "These constant headaches must indicate something
wrong."
The constant headache had occurred just once before, since
Mrs. Elton had formed one of the family. After a pause, Mr.
Arnold reverted to the former subject.
"You are most welcome to the carriage, Mrs. Elton. I am
sorry I cannot accompany you myself; but I must go to town
to-day. You can take Mr. Sutherland with you, if you like.
He will take care of you."
"I shall be most happy," said Hugh.
"So shall we all," responded Mrs. Elton, kindly. "Thank
you, Mr. Arnold; though I am sorry you can't go with us."
"What hour shall I order the carriage?"
"About one, I think. Will Herr von Funkelstein favour us
with his company?"
"I am sorry," replied Funkelstein; "but I too must leave
for London to-day. Shall I have the pleasure of accompanying
you, Mr. Arnold?"
"With all my heart, if you can leave so early. I must go at
once to catch the express train."
"I shall be ready in ten minutes."
"Very well."
"Pray, Mrs. Elton, make my adieus to Miss Cameron. I am
concerned to hear of her indisposition."
"With pleasure. I am going to her now. Good-bye."
As soon as Mrs. Elton left the breakfast-room, Mr. Arnold
rose, saying:
"I will walk round to the stable, and order the carriage myself.
I shall then be able, through your means, Mr. Sutherland,
to put a stop to these absurd rumours in person. Not
that I mean to say anything direct, as if I placed any importance
upon it; but, the coachman being an old servant, I shall
be able through him, to send the report of your courage and
its result, all over the house."
This was a very gracious explanation of his measures. As he
concluded it, he left the room, without allowing time for a
reply.
Hugh had not expected such an immediate consequence of
his policy, and felt rather uncomfortable; but he soon consoled
himself by thinking, "At least it will do no harm."
While Mr. Arnold was speaking, Funkelstein had been
writing at a side-table. He now handed Hugh a cheque on a
London banking-house for a hundred guineas. Hugh, in his
innocence, could not help feeling ashamed of gaining such a
sum by such means; for betting, like tobacco-smoking, needs a
special training before it can be carried out quite comfortably,
especially by the winner, if he be at all of a generous nature.
But he felt that to show the least reluctance would place him
at great disadvantage with a man of the world like the count.
He therefore thanked him slightly, and thrust the cheque into
his trowsers-pocket, as if a greater sum of money than he had
ever handled before were nothing more for him to win, than the
count would choose it to be considered for him to lose. He
thought with himself: "Ah! well, I need not make use of it;"
and repaired to the school-room.
Here he found Harry waiting for him, looking tolerably well,
and tolerably happy. This was a great relief to Hugh, for he
had not seen him at the breakfast-table — Harry having risen
early and breakfasted before; and he had felt very uneasy lest
the boy should have missed him in the night (for they were
still bed-fellows), and should in consequence have had one of
his dreadful attacks of fear. — It was evident that this had not
taken place.
CHAPTER XXVI.
AN ACCIDENT.
There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
Hamlet.
WHEN Mrs. Elton left the breakfast table, she went straight
to Miss Cameron's room to inquire after her, expecting to find
her maid with her. But when she knocked at the door, there
was no reply.
She went therefore to her own room, and sent her maid to
find Euphra's maid.
She came.
"Is your mistress going to get up to-day, Jane?" asked Mrs.
Elton.
"I don't know, ma'am. She has not rung yet."
"Have you not been to see how she is?"
"No, ma'am."
"How was it you brought that message at breakfast, then?"
Jane looked confused, and did not reply.
"Jane!" said Mrs. Elton, in a tone of objurgation.
"Well, ma'am, she told me to say so," answered Jane.
"How did she tell you?"
Jane paused again.
"Through the door, ma'am," she answered at length; and
then muttered, that they would make her tell lies by asking
her questions she couldn't answer; and she wished she was out
of the house, that she did.
Mrs. Elton heard this, and, of course, felt considerably
puzzled.
"Will you go now, please, and inquire after your mistress,
with my compliments?"
"I daren't, ma'am."
"Daren't! What do you mean?"
"Well, ma'am, there is something about my mistress —"
Here she stopped abruptly; but as Mrs. Elton stood expectant,
she tried to go on. All she could add, however, was — "No,
ma'am; I daren't."
"But there is no harm in going to her room."
"Oh, no, ma'am. I go to her room, summer and winter, at
seven o'clock every morning," answered Jane, apparently glad to
be able to say something.
"Why won't you go now, then?"
"Why — why — because she told me " Here the girl
stammered and turned pale. At length she forced out the
words — "She won't let me tell you why," and burst into
tears.
"Won't let you tell me?" repeated Mrs. Elton, beginning to
think the girl must be out of her mind. Jane looked hurriedly
over her shoulder, as if she expected to see her mistress standing
behind her, and then said, almost defiantly:
"No, she won't; and I can't."
With these words, she hurried out of the room, while Mrs.
Elton turned with baffled bewilderment to seek counsel from the
face of Margaret. As to what all this meant, I am in doubt. I
have recorded it as Margaret told it to Hugh afterwards —
because it seems to indicate something. It shows evidently
enough, that if Euphra had more than a usual influence over
servants in general, she had a great deal more over this maid in
particular. Was this in virtue of a power similar to that of
Count Halkar over herself? And was this, or something very
different, or both combined, the art which he had accused her of
first exercising upon him? Might the fact that her defeat had
resulted in such absolute subjection, be connected with her
possession of a power similar to his, which she had matched
with his in vain? Of course I only suggest these questions. I
cannot answer them.
At one o'clock, the carriage came round to the door; and
Hugh, in the hope of seeing Euphra alone, was the first in the
hall. Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily presently came, and proceeded
to take their places, without seeming to expect Miss
Cameron. Hugh helped them into the carriage; but, instead
of getting in, lingered, hoping that Euphra was yet going to
make her appearance.
"I fear Miss Cameron is unable to join us," said Mrs. Elton,
divining his delay.
"Shall I run up-stairs, and knock at her door?" said
Hugh.
"Do," said Mrs. Elton, who, after the unsatisfactory conversation
she had held with her maid, had felt both uneasy and
curious, all the morning.
Hugh bounded up-stairs; but, just as he was going to knock,
the door opened, and Euphra appeared.
"Dear Euphra! how ill you look!" exclaimed Hugh.
She was pale as death, and dark under the eyes; and had
evidently been weeping.
"Hush! hush!" she answered. "Never mind. It is only
a bad headache. Don't take any notice of it."
"The carriage is at the door. Will you not come with
us?"
"With whom?"
"Lady Emily and Mrs. Elton."
"I am sick of them."
"I am going, Euphra."
"Stay with me."
"I must go. I promised to take care of them."
"Oh, nonsense! What should happen to them? Stay with
me."
"No. I am very sorry. I wish I could."
"Then I must go with you, I suppose." Yet her tone
expressed annoyance.
"Oh! thank you," cried Hugh in delight. "Make haste.
I will run down, and tell them to wait."
He bounded away, and told the ladies that Euphra would join
them in a few minutes.
But Euphra was cool enough to inflict on them quite twenty
minutes of waiting; by which time she was able to behave with
tolerable propriety. When she did appear at last, she was
closely veiled, and stepped into the carriage without once showing
her face. But she made a very pretty apology for the delay
she had occasioned; which was certainly due, seeing it had been
perfectly intentional. She made room for Hugh; he took his
place beside her; and away they drove.
Euphra scarcely spoke; but begged indulgence, on the ground
of her headache. Lady Emily enjoyed the drive very much,
and said a great many pleasant little nothings.
"Would you like a glass of milk?" said Mrs. Elton to her, as
they passed a farm-house on the estate.
"I should — very much," answered Lady Emily.
The carriage was stopped, and the servant sent to beg a glass
of milk. Euphra, who, from riding backward with a headache,
had been feeling very uncomfortable for some time, wished to
get out while the carriage was waiting. Hugh jumped out, and
assisted her. She walked a little way, leaning on his arm, up to
the house, where she had a glass of water; after which she said
she felt better, and returned with him to the carriage. In
getting in again, either from the carelessness or the weakness
occasioned by suffering, her foot slipped from the step, and she
fell with a cry of alarm. Hugh caught her as she fell; and she
would not have been much injured, had not the horses started
and sprung forward at the moment, so that the hind wheel of
the carriage passed over her ancle. Hugh, raising her in his
arms, found she was insensible.
He laid her down upon the grass by the roadside. Water
was procured, but she showed no sign of recovering. — What was
to be done? Mrs. Elton thought she had better be carried to
the farm-house. Hugh judged it better to take her home at
once. To this, after a little argument, Mrs. Elton agreed.
They lifted her into the carriage, and made what arrangements
they best could to allow her to recline. Blood was
flowing from her foot; and it was so much swollen that it was
impossible to guess at the amount of the injury. The foot was
already twice the size of the other, in which Hugh for the first
time recognised such a delicacy of form, as, to his fastidious eye
and already ensnared heart, would have been perfectly enchanting,
but for the agony he suffered from the injury to the other.
Yet he could not help the thought crossing his mind, that her
habit of never lifting her dress was a very strange one, and that
it must have had something to do with the present accident. I
cannot account for this habit, but on one of two suppositions;
that of an affected delicacy, or that of the desire that the beauty
of her feet should have its full power, from being rarely seen.
But it was dreadful to think how far the effects of this accident
might permanently injure the beauty of one of them.
Hugh would have walked home that she might have more
room, but he knew he could be useful when they arrived. He
seated himself so as to support the injured foot, and prevent,
in some measure, the torturing effects of the motion of the
carriage. When they had gone about half-way, she opened her
eyes feebly, glanced at him, and closed them again with a moan
of pain.
He carried her in his arms up to her own room, and laid her
on a couch. She thanked him by a pitiful attempt at a smile.
He mounted his horse, and galloped for a surgeon.
The injury was a serious one; but until the swelling could be
a little reduced, it was impossible to tell how serious. The surgeon,
however, feared that some of the bones of the ancle might
be crushed. The ancle seemed to be dislocated, and the suffering
was frightful. She endured it well, however — so far as
absolute silence constitutes endurance.
Hugh's misery was extreme. The surgeon had required his
assistance; but a suitable nurse soon arrived, and there was no
pretext for his further presence in the sick chamber. He wandered
about the grounds. Harry haunted his steps like a
spaniel. The poor boy felt it much; and the suffering abstraction
of Hugh sealed up his chief well of comfort. At
length he went to Mrs. Elton, who did her best to console
him.
By the surgeon's express orders, every one but the nurse was
excluded from Euphra's room.
CHAPTER XXVII.
MORE TROUBLES.
Come on and do your best
To fright me with your sprites: you're powerful at it.
You smell this business with a sense as cold
As is a dead man's nose.
A Winter's Tale.
WHEN Mr. Arnold came home to dinner, and heard of the
accident, his first feeling, as is the case with weak men, was one
of mingled annoyance and anger. Hugh was the chief object
of it; for had he not committed the ladies to his care? And
the economy of his house being partially disarranged by it, had
he not a good right to be angry? His second feeling was one of
concern for his niece, which was greatly increased when he
found that she was not in a state to see him. Still, nothing
must interfere with the order of things; and when Hugh went
into the drawing-room at the usual hour, he found Mr. Arnold
standing there in tail coat and white neck-cloth, looking as if he
had just arrived at a friend's house, to make one of a stupid
party. And the party which sat down to dinner was certainly
dreary enough, consisting only, besides the host himself, of
Mrs. Elton, Hugh, and Harry. Lady Emily had had exertion
enough for the day, and had besides shared in the shock of
Euphra's misfortune.
Mr. Arnold was considerably out of humour, and ready to
pounce upon any object of complaint. He would have attacked
Hugh with a pompous speech on the subject of his carelessness,
but he was rather afraid of his tutor now; — so certainly will the
stronger get the upper hand in time. He did not even refer to
the subject of the accident. Therefore, although it filled the
minds of all at table, it was scarcely more than alluded to.
But having nothing at hand to find fault with more suitable, he
laid hold of the first wise remark volunteered by good Mrs.
Elton; whereupon an amusing pas de deux immediately followed;
for it could not be called a duel, inasmuch as each
antagonist kept skipping harmlessly about the other, exploding
theological crackers, firmly believed by the discharger to be no
less than bomb-shells. At length Mrs. Elton withdrew.
"By the way, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold, "have you
succeeded in deciphering that curious inscription yet? I don't
like the ring to remain long out of my own keeping. It is
quite an heirloom, I assure you."
Hugh was forced to confess that he had never thought of it
again.
"Shall I fetch it at once?" added he.
"Oh! no," replied Mr. Arnold. "I should really like to
understand the inscription. To-morrow will do perfectly well."
They went to the drawing-room. Everything was wretched.
However many ghosts might be in the house, it seemed to Hugh
that there was no soul in it except in one room. The wind
sighed fitfully, and the rain fell in slow, soundless showers.
Mr. Arnold felt the vacant oppression as well as Hugh. Mrs.
Elton having gone to Lady Emily's room, he proposed backgammon;
and on that surpassing game, the gentlemen expended
the best part of two dreary hours. When Hugh reached
his room he was too tired and spiritless for any intellectual
effort; and, instead of trying to decipher the ring, went to
bed, and slept as if there were never a ghost or a woman in the
universe.
His first proceeding, after breakfast next day, was to get together
his German books; and his next to take out the ring,
which was to be subjected to their analytical influences. He went
to his desk, and opened the secret place. There he stood fixed.
— The ring was gone. His packet of papers was there, rather
crumpled: the ring was nowhere. What had become of it?
It was not long before a conclusion suggested itself. It flashed
upon him all at once.
"The ghost has got it," he said, half aloud. "It is shining
now on her dead finger. It was Lady Euphrasia. She was
going for it then. It wasn't on her thumb when she went. She
came back with it, shining through the dark — stepped over me,
perhaps, as I lay on the floor in her way."
He shivered, like one in an ague-fit.
Again and again, with that frenzied, mechanical motion,
which, like the eyes of a ghost, has "no speculation" in it, he
searched the receptacle, although it freely confessed its emptiness
to any asking eye. Then he stood gazing, and his heart
seemed to stand still likewise.
But a new thought stung him, turning him almost sick with
a sense of loss. Suddenly and frantically he dived his hand
into the place yet again, useless as he knew the search to be.
He took up his papers, and scattered them loose. It was all
unavailing: his father's ring was gone as well.
He sank on a chair for a moment; but, instantly recovering,
found himself, before he was quite aware of his own resolution,
halfway down stairs, on his way to Mr. Arnold's room. It was
empty. He rang for his servant. Mr. Arnold had gone away
on horseback, and would not be home till dinner-time. Counsel
from Mrs. Elton was hopeless. Help from Euphra he could not
ask. He returned to his own room. There he found Harry
waiting for him. His neglected pupil was now his only comforter.
Such are the revenges of divine goodness.
"Harry!" he said, "I have been robbed."
"Robbed!" cried Harry, starting up. "Never mind, Mr.
Sutherland; my papa's a justice of the peace. He'll catch the
thief for you."
"But it's your papa's ring that they've stolen. He lent it to
me, and what if he should not believe me?"
"Not believe you, Mr. Sutherland? But he must believe
you. I will tell him all about it; and he knows I never told
him a lie in my life."
"But you don't know anything about it, Harry."
"But you will tell me, won't you?"
Hugh could not help smiling with pleasure at the confidence
his pupil placed in him. He had not much fear about being
believed, but, at the best, it was an unpleasant occurrence.
The loss of his own ring not only added to his vexation, but
to his perplexity as well. What could she want with his ring?
Could she have carried with her such a passion for jewels, as to
come from the grave to appropriate those of others as well as
to reclaim her own? Was this her comfort in Hades, 'poor
ghost'
Would it be better to tell Mr. Arnold of the loss of both
rings, or should he mention the crystal only? He came to the
conclusion that it would only exasperate him the more, and perhaps
turn suspicion upon himself, if he communicated the fact
that he too was a loser, and to such an extent; for Hugh's ring
was worth twenty of the other, and was certainly as sacred as
Mr. Arnold's, if not so ancient. He would bear it in silence.
If the one could not be found, there could certainly be no hope
of the other.
Punctual as the clock, Mr. Arnold returned. It did not
prejudice him in favour of the reporter of bad tidings, that he
begged a word with him before dinner, when that was on the
point of being served. It was, indeed, exceeding impolitic; but
Hugh would have felt like an impostor, had he sat down to the
table before making his confession.
"Mr. Arnold, I am sorry to say I have been robbed, and in
your house, too.''
"In my house? Of what, pray, Mr. Sutherland?"
Mr. Arnold had taken the information as some weak men
take any kind of information referring to themselves or their
belongings — namely, as an insult. He drew himself up, and
lowered portentously.
"Of your ring, Mr. Arnold."
"Of — my — ring?"
And he looked at his ring-finger, as if he could not understand
the import of Hugh's words.
"Of the ring you lent me to decipher," explained Hugh.
"Do you suppose I do not understand you, Mr. Sutherland?
A ring which has been in the family for two hundred years at
least! Robbed of it? In my house? You must have been
disgracefully careless, Mr. Sutherland. You have lost it."
"Mr. Arnold," said Hugh, with dignity, "I am above using
such a subterfuge, even if it were not certain to throw suspicion
where it was undeserved."
Mr. Arnold was a gentleman, as far as his self-importance
allowed. He did not apologize for what he had said, but he
changed his manner at once.
"I am quite bewildered, Mr. Sutherland. It is a very
annoying piece of news — for many reasons."
"I can show you where I laid it — in the safest corner in my
room, I assure you."
"Of course, of course. It is enough you say so. We
must not keep the dinner waiting now. But after dinner I
shall have all the servants up, and investigate the matter
thoroughly."
"So," thought Hugh with himself, "some one will be made
a felon of, because the cursed dead go stalking about this
infernal house at midnight, gathering their own old baubles.
No, that will not do. I must at least tell Mr. Arnold what
know of the doings of the night."
So Mr. Arnold must still wait for his dinner; or rather,
which was really of more consequence in the eyes of Mr. Arnold,
the dinner must be kept waiting for him. For order and
custom were two of Mr. Arnold's divinities; and the economy
of his whole nature was apt to be disturbed by any interruption
of their laws, such as the postponement of dinner for ten
minutes. He was walking towards the door, and turned with
some additional annoyance when Hugh addressed him again:
"One moment, Mr. Arnold, if you please."
Mr. Arnold merely turned and waited.
"I fear I shall in some degree forfeit your good opinion by
what I am about to say, but I must run the risk."
Mr. Arnold still waited.
"There is more about the disappearance of the ring than I
can understand."
"Or I either, Mr. Sutherland."
"But I must tell you what happened to myself, the night
that I kept watch in Lady Euphrasia's room."
"You said you slept soundly."
"So I did, part of the time."
"Then you kept back part of the truth?"
"I did."
"Was that worthy of you?"
"I thought it best: I doubted myself."
"What has caused you to change your mind now?"
"This event about the ring."
"What has that to do with it? How do you even know
that it was taken on that night?"
"I do not know; for till this morning I had not opened the
place where it lay: I only suspect."
"I am a magistrate, Mr. Sutherland: I would rather not be
prejudiced by suspicions."
"The person to whom my suspicions refer, is beyond your
jurisdiction, Mr. Arnold."
"I do not understand you."
"I will explain myself."
Hugh gave Mr. Arnold a hurried yet circumstantial sketch of
the apparition he believed he had seen.
"What am I to judge from all this?" asked he, coldly,
almost contemptuously.
"I have told you the facts; of course I must leave the conclusions
to yourself, Mr. Arnold; but I confess, for my part,
that any disbelief I had in apparitions is almost entirely
removed since —
"Since you dreamed you saw one?"
"Since the disappearance of the ring," said Hugh.
"Bah!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold, with indignation. "Can a
ghost fetch and carry like a spaniel? Mr. Sutherland, I am
ashamed to have such a reasoner for tutor to my son. Come
to dinner, and do not let me hear another word of this folly. I
beg you will not mention it to any one."
"I have been silent hitherto, Mr. Arnold; but circumstances,
such as the commitment of any one on the charge of stealing
the ring, might compel me to mention the matter. It would
be for the jury to determine whether it was relevant or not."
It was evident that Mr. Arnold was more annoyed at the
imputation against the nocturnal habits of his house, than at
the loss of the ring, or even its possible theft by one of his
servants. He looked at Hugh for a moment as if he would
break into a furious rage; then his look gradually changed into
one of suspicion, and, turning without another word, he led the
way to the dining-room, followed by Hugh. To have a ghost
held in his face in this fashion, one bred in his own house, too,
when he had positively declared his absolute contempt for every
legend of the sort, was more than man could bear. He sat
down to dinner in gloomy silence, breaking it only as often as
he was compelled to do the duties of a host, which he performed
with a greater loftiness of ceremony than usual.
There was no summoning of the servants after dinner, however.
Hugh's warning had been effectual. Nor was the subject
once more alluded to in Hugh's hearing. No doubt Mr.
Arnold felt that something ought to be done; but I presume
he could never make up his mind what that something ought
to be. Whether any reasons for not prosecuting the inquiry
had occurred to him upon further reflection, I am unable to
tell. One thing is certain; that from this time he ceased to
behave to Hugh with that growing cordiality which he had
shown him for weeks past. It was no great loss to Hugh; but
he felt it; and all the more, because he could not help associating
it with that look of suspicion, the remains of which were
still discernible on Mr. Arnold's face. Although he could not
determine the exact direction of Mr. Arnold's suspicions, he felt
that they bore upon something associated with the crystal ring,
and the story of the phantom lady. Consequently, there was
little more of comfort for him at Arnstead.
Mr. Arnold, however, did not reveal his change of feeling so
much by neglect as by ceremony, which, sooner than anything
else, builds a wall of separation between those who meet every
day. For the oftener they meet, the thicker and the faster are
the bricks and mortar of cold politeness, evidently avoided
insults, and subjected manifestations of dislike, laid together.
CHAPTER XXVIII.
A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW.
O, cocks are crowing a merry midnight,
I wot the wild-fowls are boding day;
Give me my faith and troth again,
And let me fare me on my way.
Sae painfully she clam the wa',
She clam the wa' up after him;
Hosen nor shoon upon her feet,
She hadna time to put them on.
Scotch Ballad. — Clerk Saunders.
DREARY days passed. The reports of Euphra were as favourable
as the nature of the injury had left room to expect. Still
they were but reports: Hugh could not see her, and the days
passed drearily. He heard that the swelling was reduced, and
that the ankle was found not to be dislocated, but that the
bones were considerably injured, and that the final effect upon
the use of the parts was doubtful. The pretty foot lay aching in
Hugh's heart. When Harry went to bed, he used to walk out
and loiter about the grounds, full of anxious fears and no less
anxious hopes. If the night was at all obscure, he would pass,
as often as he dared, under Euphra's window; for all he could
have of her now was a few rays from the same light that lighted
her chamber. Then he would steal away down the main avenue,
and thence watch the same light, whose beams, in that strange
play which the intellect will keep up in spite of — yet in association
with — the heart, made a photo-materialist of him. For he
would now no longer believe in the pulsations of an ethereal
medium; but — that the very material rays which enlightened
Euphra's face, whether she waked or slept, stole and filtered
through the blind and the gathered shadows, and entered in
bodily essence into the mysterious convolutions of his brain,
where his soul and heart sought and found them.
When a week had passed, she was so far recovered as to be
able to see Mr. Arnold; from whom Hugh heard, in a somewhat
reproachful tone, that she was but the wreck of her former self.
It was all that Hugh could do to restrain the natural outbreak
of his feelings. A fortnight passed, and she saw Mrs. Elton
and Lady Emily for a few moments. They would have left
before, but had yielded to Mr. Arnold's entreaty, and were
staying till Euphra should be at least able to be carried from
her room.
One day, when the visitors were out with Mr. Arnold, Jane
brought a message to Hugh, requesting him to walk into Miss
Cameron's room, for she wanted to see him. Hugh felt his heart
flutter as if doubting whether to stop at once, or to dash through
its confining bars. He rose and followed the maid. He stood
over Euphra pale and speechless. She lay before him wasted
and wan; her eyes twice their former size, but with half their
former light; her fingers long and transparent; and her voice
low and feeble. She had just raised herself with difficulty to a
sitting posture, and the effort had left her more weary.
"Hugh!" she said, kindly.
"Dear Euphra!" he answered, kissing the little hand he
held in his.
She looked at him for a little while, and the tears rose in her
eyes.
"Hugh, I am a cripple for life."
"God forbid, Euphra!" was all he could reply.
She shook her head mournfully. Then a strange, wild look
came in her eyes, and grew till it seemed from them to overflow
and cover her whole face with a troubled expression, which
increased to a look of dull agony.
"What is the matter, dear Euphra?" said Hugh, in alarm.
"Is your foot very painful?"
She made no answer. She was looking fixedly at his hand.
"Shall I call Jane?"
She shook her head.
"Can I do nothing for you?"
"No," she answered, almost angrily.
"Shall I go, Euphra?"
"Yes — yes. Go."
He left the room instantly. But a sharp though stifled cry
of despair drew him back at a bound. Euphra had fainted.
He rang the bell for Jane; and lingered till he saw signs of
returning consciousness.
What could this mean? He was more perplexed with her
than ever he had been. Cunning love, however, soon found a
way of explaining it. — A way? — Twenty ways — not one of them
the way.
Next day, Lady Emily brought him a message from Euphra
— not to distress himself about her; it was not his fault.
This message the bearer of it understood to refer to the
original accident, as the sender of it intended she should: the
receiver interpreted it of the occurrence of the day before, as the
sender likewise intended. It comforted him.
It had become almost a habit with Hugh, to ascend the oak
tree in the evening, and sit alone, sometimes for hours, in the
nest he had built for Harry. One time he took a book with
him; another he went without; and now and then Harry
accompanied him. But I have already said, that often after
tea, when the house became oppressive to him from the longing
to see Euphra, he would wander out alone; when, even in the
shadows of the coming night, he would sometimes climb the
nest, and there sit, hearing all that the leaves whispered about
the sleeping birds, without listening to a word of it, or trying to
interpret it by the kindred sounds of his own inner world, and
the tree-talk that went on there in secret. For the divinity of
that inner world had abandoned it for the present, in pursuit of
an earthly maiden. So its birds were silent, and its trees trembled
not.
An aging moon was feeling her path somewhere through the
heavens; but a thin veil of cloud was spread like a tent under
the hyaline dome where she walked; so that, instead of a white
moon, there was a great white cloud to enlighten the earth, — a
cloud soaked full of her pale rays. Hugh sat in the oak-nest.
He knew not how long he had been there. Light after light
was extinguished in the house, and still he sat there brooding,
dreaming, in that state of mind in which to the good, good
things come of themselves, and to the evil, evil things. The
nearness of the Ghost's Walk did not trouble him, for he was
too much concerned about Euphra to fear ghost or demon. His
mind heeded them not, and so was beyond their influence.
But while he sat, he became aware of human voices. He
looked out from his leafy screen, and saw once more, at the end
of the Ghost's Walk, a form clothed in white. But there were
voices of two. He sent his soul into his ears to listen. A
horrible, incredible, impossible idea forced itself upon him —
that the tones were those of Euphra and Funkelstein. The
one voice was weak and complaining; the other firm and
strong.
"It must be some horrible ghost that imitates her," he said
to himself; for he was nearly crazy at the very suggestion.
He would see nearer, if only to get rid of that frightful insinuation
of the tempter. He descended the tree noiselessly.
He lost sight of the figure as he did so. He drew near the place
where he had seen it. But there was no sound of voices now to
guide him. As he came within sight of the spot, he saw the
white figure in the arms of another, a man. Her head was lying
on his shoulder. A moment after, she was lifted in those arms
and borne towards the house, — down the Ghost's Avenue.
A burning agony to be satisfied of his doubts seized on Hugh.
He fled like a deer to the house by another path; tried, in his
suspicion, the library window; found it open, and was at
Euphra's door in a moment. Here he hesitated. She must
he inside. How dare he knock or enter?
If she was there, she would be asleep. He would not wake
her. There was no time to lose. He would risk anything, to
be rid of this horrible doubt.
He gently opened the door. The night-light was burning.
He thought, at first, that Euphra was in the bed. He felt like a
thief, but he stole nearer. She was not there. She was not on
the couch. She was not in the room. Jane was fast asleep in
the dressing-room. It was enough.
He withdrew. He would watch at his door to see her return,
for she must pass his door to reach her own. He waited a time
that seemed hours. At length — horrible, far more horrible to
him than the vision of the ghost — Euphra crept past him,
appearing in the darkness to crawl along the wall against which
she supported herself, and scarcely suppressing her groans of
pain. She reached her own room, and entering, closed the
door.
Hugh was nearly mad. He rushed down the stair to the
library, and out into the wood. Why or whither he knew not.
Suddenly he received a blow on the head. It did not
stun him, but he staggered under it. Had he run against
a tree? No. There was the dim bulk of a man disappearing
through the boles. He darted after him. The man heard
his footsteps, stopped, and waited in silence. As Hugh came
up to him, he made a thrust at him with some weapon.
He missed his aim. The weapon passed through his coat
and under his arm. The next moment, Hugh had wrenched
the sword-stick from him, thrown it away, and grappled with —
Funkelstein. But strong as Hugh was, the Bohemian was as
strong, and the contest was doubtful. Strange as it may seem
— in the midst of it, while each held the other unable to move,
the conviction flashed upon Hugh's mind, that, whoever might
have taken Lady Euphrasia's ring, he was grappling with the
thief of his father's.
"Give me my ring," gasped he.
An imprecation of a sufficiently emphatic character was the
only reply. The Bohemian got one hand loose, and Hugh heard
a sound like the breaking of glass. Before he could gain any
advantage — for his antagonist seemed for the moment to have
concentrated all his force in the other hand — a wet handkerchief
was held firmly to his face. His fierceness died away; he was
lapt in the vapour of dreams; and his senses departed.
CHAPTER XXIX.
HUGH'S AWAKING.
But ah! believe me, there is more than so,
That works such wonders in the minds of men;
I, that have often proved, too well it know;
And whoso list the like assays to ken,
Shall find by trial, and confess it then,
That beauty is not, as fond men misdeem,
An outward show of things that only seem!
But ye, fair dames, the world's dear ornaments,
And lively images of heaven's light,
Let not your beams with such disparagements
Be dimmed, and your bright glory darkened quite;
But, mindful still of your first country's sight,
Do still preserve your first informed grace,
Whose shadow yet shines in your beauteous face.
SPENSER. — Hymn in Honour of Beauty.
WHEN Hugh came to himself, he was lying, in the first grey
of the dawn, amidst the dews and vapours of the morning
woods. He rose and looked around him. The Ghost's Walk
lay in long silence before him. Here and there a little bird
moved and peeped. The glory of a new day was climbing up
the eastern coast of heaven. It would be a day of late summer,
crowned with flame, and throbbing with ripening life. But for
him the spirit was gone out of the world, and it was nought
but a mass of blind, heartless forces.
Possibly, had he overheard the conversation, the motions
only of which he had overseen the preceding night, he would,
although equally perplexed, have thought more gently of
Euphra; but, in the mood into which even then he must have
been thrown, his deeper feelings towards her could hardly have
been different from what they were now. Although he had
often felt that Euphra was not very good, not a suspicion had
crossed his mind as to what he would have called the purity of
her nature. Like many youths, even of character inferior to
his own, he had the loftiest notions of feminine grace, and unspottedness
in thought and feeling, not to say action and aim.
Now he found that he had loved a woman who would creep
from her chamber, at the cost of great suffering, and almost at
the risk of her life, to meet, in the night and the woods, a man
no better than an assassin — probably a thief. Had he been
more versed in the ways of women, or in the probabilities of
things, he would have judged that the very extravagance of the
action demanded a deeper explanation than what seemed to lie
on the surface. Yet, although he judged Euphra very hardly
upon those grounds, would he have judged her differently had
he actually known all? About this I am left to conjecture
alone.
But the effect on Hugh was different from what the ordinary
reader of human nature might anticipate. Instead of being
torn in pieces by storms of jealousy, all the summer growths of
his love were chilled by an absolute frost of death. A kind of
annihilation sank upon the image of Euphra. There had been
no such Euphra. She had been but a creation of his own brain.
It was not so much that he ceased to love, as that the being
beloved — not died, but — ceased to exist. There were moments
in which he seemed to love her still with a wild outcry of passion;
but the frenzy soon vanished in the selfish feeling of his
own loss. His love was not a high one — not such as thine, my
Falconer. Thine was love indeed; though its tale is too good
to tell, simply because it is too good to be believed; and we
do men a wrong sometimes when we tell them more than they
can receive.
Thought, Speculation, Suggestion, crowded upon each other,
till at length his mind sank passive, and served only as the lists
in which the antagonist thoughts fought a confused battle
without herald or umpire.
But it is amazing to think how soon he began to look back
upon his former fascination with a kind of wondering unbelief.
This bespoke the strength of Hugh's ideal sense, as well as the
weakness of his actual love. He could hardly even recall the
feelings with which, on some well-remembered occasion, he had
regarded her, and which then it had seemed impossible he
should ever forget. Had he discovered the cloven foot of a
demon under those trailing garments — he could hardly have
ceased to love her more suddenly or entirely. But there is an
aching that is worse to bear than pain.
I trust my reader will not judge very hardly of Hugh,
because of the change which had thus suddenly passed
upon his feelings. He felt now just as he had felt on
waking in the morning and finding that he had been in
love with a dream-lady all the night: it had been very delightful,
and it was sad that it was all gone, and could come
back no more. But the wonder to me is, not that some loves
will not stand the test of absence, but that, their nature
being what it is, they should outlast one week of familiar
intercourse.
He mourned bitterly over the loss of those feelings, for they
had been precious to him. But could he help it? Indeed
he could not; for his love had been fascination; and the fascination
having ceased, the love was gone.
I believe some of my readers will not need this apology for
Hugh; but will rather admire the facility with which he rose
above a misplaced passion, and dismissed its object. So do not
I. It came of his having never loved. Had he really loved
Euphra, herself, her own self, the living woman who looked
at him out of those eyes, out of that face, such pity would
have blended with the love as would have made it greater,
and permitted no indignation to overwhelm it. As it was,
he was utterly passive and helpless in the matter. The
fault lay in the original weakness that submitted to be
so fascinated; that gave in to it, notwithstanding the vague
expostulations of his better nature, and the consciousness
that he was neglecting his duty to Harry, in order to please
Euphra and enjoy her society. Had he persisted in doing his
duty, it would at least have kept his mind more healthy, lessened
the absorption of his passion, and given him opportunities
of reflection, and moments of true perception as to what
he was about. But now the spell was broken at once, and the
poor girl had lost a worshipper. The golden image with the
feet of clay might arise in a prophet's dream, but it could never
abide in such a lover's. Her glance was powerless now. Alas,
for the withering of such a dream! Perhaps she deserved nothing
else; but our deserts, when we get them, are sad enough
sometimes.
All that day he walked as in a dream of loss. As for the
person whom he had used to call Euphra, she was removed to a
vast distance from him. An absolutely impassable gulf lay
between them.
She sent for him. He went to her filled with a sense of
insensibility. She was much worse, and suffering great pain.
Hugh saw at once that she knew that all was over between
them, and that he had seen her pass his door, or had been in
her room, for he had left her door a little open, and she had left
it shut. One pathetic, most pitiful glance of deprecating
entreaty she fixed upon him, as after a few moments of speechless
waiting, he turned to leave the room — which would have
remained deathless in his heart, but that he interpreted it to
mean: "Don't tell;" so he got rid of it at once by the grant
of its supposed request. She made no effort to detain him.
She turned her face away, and, hard-hearted, he heard her sob,
not as if her heart would break — that is little — but like an
immortal woman in immortal agony, and he did not turn to
comfort her. Perhaps it was better — how could he comfort
her? Some kinds of comfort — the only kinds which poor
mortals sometimes have to give — are like the food on which the
patient and the disease live together; and some griefs are
soonest got rid of by letting them burn out. All the fire--
engines in creation can only prolong the time, and increase the
sense of burning. There is but one cure: the fellow-feeling of
the human God, which converts the agony itself into the creative
fire of a higher life.
As for Von Funkelstein, Hugh comforted himself with the
conviction that they were destined to meet again.
The day went on, as days will go, unstayed, unhastened by
the human souls, through which they glide silent and awful.
After such lessons as he was able to get through with Harry, —
who, feeling that his tutor did not want him, left the room as
soon as they were over — he threw himself on the couch, and
tried to think. But think he could not. Thoughts passed
through him, but he did not think them. He was powerless in
regard to them. They came and went of their own will: he
could neither say come nor go. Tired at length of the couch, he
got up and paced about the room for hours. When he came to
himself a little, he found that the sun was nearly setting.
Through the top of a beech-tree taller than the rest, it sent a
golden light, full of the floating shadows of leaves and branches,
upon the wall of his room. But there was no beauty for him in
the going down of the sun ; no glory in the golden light; no
message from dream-land in the flitting and blending and
parting, the constantly dissolving yet ever remaining play of the
lovely and wonderful shadow-leaves. The sun sank below the
beech-top, and was hidden behind a cloud of green leaves, thick
as the wood was deep. A grey light instead of a golden filled
the room. The change had no interest for him. The pain of a
lost passion tormented him — the aching that came of the falling
together of the ethereal walls of his soul, about the space where
there had been and where there was no longer a world.
A young bird flew against the window, and fluttered its
wings two or three times, vainly seeking to overcome the unseen
obstacle which the glass presented to its flight. Hugh started
and shuddered. Then first he knew, in the influence of the
signs of the approaching darkness, how much his nerves had
suffered from the change that had passed. He took refuge with
Harry. His pupil was now to be his consoler; who in his turn
would fare henceforth the better, for the decay of Hugh's pleasures.
The poor boy was filled with delight at having his big
brother all to himself again; and worked harder than ever to
make the best of his privileges. For Hugh, it was wonderful
how soon his peace of mind began to return after he gave himself
to his duty, and how soon the clouds of disappointment
descended below the far horizon, leaving the air clear above and
around. Painful thoughts about Euphra would still present
themselves; but instead of becoming more gentle and sorrowful
as the days went on, they grew more and more severe and
unjust and angry. He even entertained doubts whether she did
not know all about the theft of both rings, for to her only had
he discovered the secret place in the old desk. If she was
capable of what he believed, why should she not be capable of
anything else? It seemed to him most simple and credible.
An impure woman might just as well be a thief too. — I am only
describing Hugh's feelings.
But along with these feelings and thoughts, of mingled good
and bad, came one feeling which he needed more than any —
repentance. Seated alone upon a fallen tree one day, the face of
poor Harry came back to him, as he saw it first, poring over
Polexander in the library; and, full of the joy -of life himself,
notwithstanding his past troubles, strong as a sunrise, and
hopeful as a Prometheus, the quivering perplexity of that sickly
little face smote him with a pang. "What might I not have
done for the boy! He, too, was in the hands of the enchantress,
and, instead of freeing him, I became her slave to enchain him
further." Yet, even in this, he did Euphra injustice; for he
had come to the conclusion that she had laid her plans with the
intention of keeping the boy a dwarf, by givig him only food
for babes, and not good food either, withholding from him every
stimulus to mental digestion and consequent hunger; and that
she had objects of her own in doing so — one perhaps, to keep
herself necessary to the boy as she was to the father, and so
secure the future. But poor Euphra's own nature and true
education had been sadly neglected. A fine knowledge of
music and Italian, and the development of a sensuous sympathy
with nature, could hardly be called education. It was not
certainly such a development of her own nature as would
enable her to sympathise with the necessities of a boy's nature.
Perhaps the worst that could justly be said of her behaviour to
Harry was, that, with a strong inclination to despotism, and
some feeling of loneliness, she had exercised the one upon him
in order to alleviate the other in herself. Upon him, therefore,
she expended a certain, or rather an uncertain kind of affection,
which, if it might have been more fittingly spent upon a lapdog,
and was worth but little, might yet have become worth everything,
had she been moderately good.
Hugh did not see Euphra again for more than a fortnight.
CHAPTER XXX.
CHANGES.
Hey, and the rue grows bonny wi' thyme!
And the thyme it is withered, and rue is in prime.
Refrain of an old Scotch song, altered by BURNS.
He hath wronged me; indeed he hath; — at a word, he hath; — believe
me; Robert Shallow, Esquire, saith he is wronged.
Merry Wives of Windsor.
AT length, one evening, entering the drawing-room before
dinner, Hugh found Euphra there alone. He bowed with embarrassment,
and uttered some commonplace congratulation on
her recovery. She answered him gently and coldly. Her whole
air and appearance were signs of acute suffering. She did not
make the slightest approach to their former familiarity, but she
spoke without any embarrassment, like one who had given herself
up, and was, therefore, indifferent. Hugh could not help
feeling as if she knew every thought that was passing in his
mind, and, having withdrawn herself from him, was watching
him with a cold, ghostly interest. She took his arm to go into
the dining-room, and actually leaned upon it, as, indeed, she
was compelled to do. Her uncle was delighted to see her once
more. Mrs. Elton addressed her with kindness, and Lady
Emily with sweet cordiality. She herself seemed to care for
nobody and nothing. As soon as dinner was over, she sent for
her maid, and withdrew to her own room. It was a great relief
to Hugh to feel that he was no longer in danger of encountering
her eyes.
Gradually she recovered strength, though it was again some
days before she appeared at the dinner-table. The distance
between Hugh and her seemed to increase instead of diminish,
till at length he scarcely dared to offer her the smallest civility,
lest she should despise him as a hypocrite. The further she
removed herself from him, the more he felt inclined to respect
her. By common consent they avoided, as much as before, any
behaviour that might attract attention; though the effort was
of a very different nature now. It was wretched enough, no
doubt, for both of them.
The time drew near for Lady Emily's departure.
"What are your plans for the winter, Mrs. Elton?" said Mr.
Arnold, one day.
"I intend spending the winter in London," she answered.
"Then you are not going with Lady Emily to Madeira?"
"No. Her father and one of her sisters are going with her."
"I have a great mind to spend the winter abroad myself;
but the difficulty is what to do with Harry."
"Could you not leave him with Mr. Sutherland?"
"No. I do not choose to do that."
"Then let him come to me. I shall have all my little establishment
up, and there will be plenty of room for Harry."
"A very kind offer. I may possibly avail myself of it."
"I fear we could hardly accommodate his tutor, though.
But that will be very easily arranged. He could sleep out of
the house, could he not?"
"Give yourself no trouble about that. I wish Harry to have
masters for the various branches he will study. It will teach
him more of men and the world generally, and prevent his
being too much influenced by one style of thinking."
"But Mr. Sutherland is a very good tutor."
"Yes. Very."
To this there could be no reply but a question; and Mr.
Arnold's manner not inviting one, the conversation was dropped.
Euphra gradually resumed her duties in the house, as far as
great lameness would permit. She continued to show a quiet
and dignified reserve towards Hugh. She made no attempts to
fascinate him, and never avoided his look when it chanced to
meet hers. But although there was no reproach any more
than fascination in her eyes, Hugh's always fell before hers.
She walked softly like Ahab, as if, now that Hugh knew, she,
too, was ever conscious.
Her behaviour to Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily was likewise
improved, but apparently only from an increase of indifference.
When the time came, and they departed, she did not even
appear to be much relieved.
Once she asked Hugh to help her with a passage of Dante,
but betrayed no memory of the past. His pleased haste to
assist her, showed that he at least, if fancy-free, was not
memory-clear. She thanked him very gently and truly, took
up her book like a school-girl, and limped away. Hugh was
smitten to the heart. "If I could but do something for her!"
thought he; but there was nothing to be done. Although she
had deserved it, somehow her behaviour made him feel as if he
had wronged her in ceasing to love her.
One day, in the end of September, Mr. Arnold and Hugh
were alone after breakfast. Mr. Arnold spoke:
"Mr. Sutherland, I have altered my plans with regard to
Harry. I wish him to spend the winter in London."
Hugh listened and waited. Mr. Arnold went on, after a
slight pause:
"There I wish him to reap such advantages as are to be
gained in the metropolis. He has improved wonderfully under
your instruction; and is now, I think, to be benefited principally
by a variety of teachers. I therefore intend that he shall
have masters for the different branches which it is desirable he
should study. Consequently I shall be compelled to deny him
your services, valuable as they have hitherto been."
"Very well, Mr. Arnold," said Mr. Sutherland, with the
indifference of one who feels himself ill-used. "When shall I
take my leave of him?"
"Not before the middle of the next month, at the earliest.
But I will write you a cheque for your salary at once."
So saying, Mr. Arnold left the room for a moment, and returning,
handed Hugh a cheque for a year's salary. Hugh
glanced at it, and offering it again to Mr. Arnold, said:
"No, Mr. Arnold; I can claim scarcely more than half a
year's salary."
"Mr. Sutherland, your engagement was at so much a year;
and if I prevent you from fulfilling your part of it, I am
bound to fulfil mine. Indeed, you might claim further
provision."
"You are very kind, Mr. Arnold."
"Only just," rejoined Mr. Arnold, with conscious dignity.
"I am under great obligation to you for the way in which you
have devoted yourself to Harry."
Hugh's conscience gave him a pang. Is anything more painful
than undeserved praise
"I have hardly done my duty by him," said he.
"I can only say that the boy is wonderfully altered for the
better, and I thank you. I am obliged to you: oblige me by
putting the cheque in your pocket."
Hugh persisted no longer in his refusal; and indeed it had
been far more a feeling of pride than of justice that made him
decline accepting it at first. Nor was there any generosity in
Mr. Arnold's cheque; for Hugh, as he admitted, might have
claimed board and lodging as well. But Mr. Arnold was one of
the ordinarily honourable, who, with perfect characters for uprightness,
always contrive to err on the safe side of the purse,
and the doubtful side of a severely interpreted obligation. Such
people, in so doing, not unfrequently secure for themselves, at
the same time, the reputation of generosity.
Hugh could not doubt that his dismissal was somehow or
other connected with the loss of the ring; but he would not
stoop to inquire into the matter. He hoped that time would
set all right; and, in fact, felt considerable indifference to the
opinion of Mr. Arnold, or of any one in the house, except
Harry.
The boy burst into tears when informed of his father's decision
with regard to his winter studies, and could only be consoled
by the hope which Hugh held out to him — certainly upon
a very slight foundation — that they might meet sometimes in
London. For the little time that remained, Hugh devoted
himself unceasingly to his pupil; not merely studying with
him, but walking, riding, reading stories, and going through all
sorts of exercises for the strengthening of his person and constitution.
The best results followed both for Harry and his
tutor.
CHAPTER XXXI.
EXPLANATIONS.
I have done nothing good to win belief,
My life hath been so faithless; all the creatures
Made for heaven's honours, have their ends, and good ones;
All but . . . false women . . . When they die, like tales
Ill-told, and unbelieved, they pass away.
I will redeem one minute of my age,
Or, like another Niobe, I'll weep
Till I am water.
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. — The Maid's Tragedy.
THE days passed quickly by; and the last evening that Hugh
was to spend at Arnstead arrived. He wandered out alone. He
had been with Harry all day, and now he wished for a few
moments of solitude. It was a lovely autumn evening. He
went into the woods behind the house. The leaves were still
thick upon the trees, but most of them had changed to gold,
and brown, and red; and the sweet faint odours of those that
had fallen, and lay thick underfoot, ascended like a voice from
the grave, saying: "Here dwelleth some sadness, but no
despair." As he strolled about among them, the whole history
of his past life arose before him. This often happens before any
change in our history, and is surest to take place at the approach
of the greatest change of all, when we are about to pass into the
unknown, whence we came.
In this mood, it was natural that his sins should rise before
him. They came as the shadows of his best pleasures. For
now, in looking back, he could fix on no period of his history,
around which the aureole, which glorifies the sacred things of
the past, had gathered in so golden a hue, as around the
memory of the holy cottage, the temple in which abode David,
and Janet, and Margaret. All the story glided past, as the
necromantic Will called up the sleeping dead in the mausoleum
of the brain. And that solemn, kingly, gracious old man, who
had been to him a father, he had forgotten; the homely tenderness
which, from fear of its own force, concealed itself behind a
humorous roughness of manner, he had — no, not despised —
but forgotten, too; and if the dim pearly loveliness of the trustful,
grateful maiden had not been quite forgotten, yet she too
had been neglected, had died, as it were, and been buried in the
churchyard of the past, where the grass grows long over the
graves, and the moss soon begins to fill up the chiselled records.
He was ungrateful. He dared not allow to himself that he was
unloving; but he must confess himself ungrateful.
Musing sorrowfully and self-reproachfully, he came to the
Ghost's Avenue. Up and down its aisle he walked, a fit place
for remembering the past, and the sins of the present. Yielding
himself to what thoughts might arise, the strange sight he had
seen here on that moonlit night, of two silent wandering figures
— or could it be that they were one and the same, suddenly
changed in hue? — returned upon him. This vision had been so
speedily followed by the second and more alarming apparition of
Lady Euphrasia, that he had hardly had time to speculate on
what the former could have been. He was meditating upon all
these strange events, and remarking to himself that, since his
midnight encounter with Lady Euphrasia, the house had been
as quiet as a church-yard at noon, when all suddenly, he saw
before him, at some little distance, a dark figure approaching
him. His heart seemed to bound into his throat and choke
him, as he said to himself: "It is the nun again!" But the
next moment he saw that it was Euphra. I do not know which
he would have preferred not meeting alone, and in the deepening
twilight: Euphra, too, had become like a ghost to him.
His first impulse was to turn aside into the wood, but she had
seen him, and was evidently going to address him. He therefore
advanced to meet her. She spoke first, approaching him
with painful steps.
"I have been looking for you, Mr. Sutherland. I wanted
very much to have a little conversation with you before you go.
Will you allow me?"
Hugh felt like a culprit directly. Euphra's manner was quite
collected and kind; yet through it all a consciousness showed
itself, that the relation which had once existed between them
had passed away for ever. In her voice there was something
like the tone of wind blowing through a ruin.
"I shall be most happy," said he.
She smiled sadly. A great change had passed upon her.
"I am going to be quite open with you," she said. "I am
perfectly aware, as well as you are, that the boyish fancy you
had for me is gone. Do not be offended. You are manly
enough, but your love for me was boyish. Most first loves are
childish, quite irrespective of age. I do not blame you in the
least."
This seemed to Hugh rather a strange style to assume, if all
was true that his own eyes had reported. She went on:
"Nor must you think it has cost me much to lose it."
Hugh felt hurt, at which no one who understands will be
surprised.
"But I cannot afford to lose you, the only friend I have,"
she added.
Hugh turned towards her with a face full of manhood and
truth.
"You shall not lose me, Euphra, if you will be honest to
yourself and to me."
"Thank you. I can trust you. I will be honest."
At that moment, without the revival of a trace of his former
feelings, Hugh felt nearer to her than he had ever felt before.
Now there seemed to be truth between them, the only medium
through which beings can unite.
"I fear I have wronged you much," she went on. "I do not
mean some time ago." Here she hesitated. — "I fear I am the
cause of your leaving Arnstead."
"You, Euphra? No. You must be mistaken."
"I think not. But I am compelled to make an unwilling
disclosure of a secret — a sad secret about myself. Do not hate
me quite — I am a somnambulist."
She hid her face in her hands, as if the night which had now
closed around them did not hide her enough. Hugh did not
reply. Absorbed in the interest which both herself and her
confession aroused in him, he could only listen eagerly. She
went on, after a moment's pause:
"I did not think at first that I had taken the ring. I
thought another had. But last night, and not till then, I discovered
that I was the culprit."
"How?"
"That requires explanation. I have no recollection of the
events of the previous night when I have been walking in my
sleep. Indeed, the utter absence of a sense of dreaming always
makes me suspect that I have been wandering. But sometimes
I have a vivid dream, which I know, though I can give no proof
of it, to be a reproduction of some previous somnambulic experience.
Do not ask me to recall the horrors I dreamed last
night. I am sure I took the ring."
"Then you dreamed what you did with it?"
"Yes, I gave it to —"
Here her voice sank and ceased. Hugh would not urge her.
"Have you mentioned this to Mr. Arnold?"
"No. I do not think it would do any good. But I will, if
you wish it," she added submissively.
"Not at all. Just as you think best."
"I could not tell him everything. I cannot tell you everything.
If I did, Mr. Arnold would turn me out of the house.
I am a very unhappy girl, Mr. Sutherland."
From the tone of these words, Hugh could not for a moment
suppose that Euphra had any remaining design of fascination
in them.
"Perhaps he might want to keep you, if I told him all; but
I do not think, after the way he has behaved to you, that you
could stay with him, for he would never apologize. It is very
selfish of me; but indeed I have not the courage to confess to
him."
"I assure you nothing could make me remain now. But
what can I do for you?"
"Only let me depend upon you, in case I should need your
help; or —"
Here Euphra stopped suddenly, and caught hold of Hugh's
left hand, which he had lifted to brush an insect from his face.
"Where is your ring?" she said, in a tone of suppressed
anxiety.
"Gone, Euphra. My father's ring! It was lying beside
Lady Euplirasia's."
Euphra's face was again hidden in her hands. She sobbed
and moaned like one in despair. When she grew a little calmer,
she said:
"I am sure I did not take your ring, dear Hugh — I am not a
thief. I had a kind of right to the other, and he said it ought
to have been his, for his real name was Count von Halkar — the
same name as Lady Euphrasia's before she was married. He
took it, I am sure."
"It was he that knocked me down in the dark that night
then, Euphra."
"Did he? Oh! I shall have to tell you all. — That wretch
has a terrible power over me. I loved him once. But I refused
to take the ring from your desk, because I knew it would get
you into trouble. He threw me into a somnambulic sleep, and
sent me for the ring. But I should have remembered if I had
taken yours. Even in my sleep, I don't think he could have
made me do that. You may know I speak the truth, when I
am telling my own disgrace. He promised to set me free if I
would get the ring; but he has not done it; and he will not."
Sobs again interrupted her.
"I was afraid your ring was gone. I don't know why I
thought so, except that you hadn't it on, when you came to see
me. Or perhaps it was because I am sometimes forced to think
what that wretch is thinking. He made me go to him that
night you saw me, Hugh. But I was so ill, I don't think I
should have been able, but that I could not rest till I had asked
him about your ring. He said he knew nothing about it."
"I am sure he has it," said Hugh. And he related to
Euphra the struggle he had had with Funkelstein and its result.
She shuddered.
"I have been a devil to you, Hugh; I have betrayed you to
him. You will never see your ring again. Here, take mine. It
is not so good as yours, but for the sake of the old way you
thought of me, take it."
"No, no, Euphra; Mr. Arnold would miss it. Besides, you
know it would not be my father's ring, and it was not for the
value of the diamond I cared most about it. And I am not
sure that I shall not find it again. I am going up to London,
where I shall fall in with him, I hope."
"But do take care of yourself. He has no conscience. God
knows, I have had little, but he has none."
"I know he has none; but a conscience is not a bad auxiliary,
and there I shall have some advantage of him. But
what could he want that ring of Lady Euphrasia's for?"
"I don't know. He never told me."
"It was not worth much."
"Next to nothing."
"I shall be surer to find that than my own. And I will find
it, if I can, that Mr. Arnold may believe I was not to blame."
"Do. But be careful."
"Don't fear. I will be careful."
She held out her hand, as if to take leave of him, but withdrew
it again with the sudden cry:
"What shall I do? I thought he had left me to myself, till
that night in the library."
She held down her head in silence. Then she said, slowly, in
a tone of agony:
"I am a slave, body and soul. — Hugh!" she added, passionately,
and looking up in his face, "do you think there is a
God?"
Her eyes glimmered with the faint reflex from gathered tears,
that silently overflowed.
And now Hugh's own poverty struck him with grief and
humiliation. Here was a soul seeking God, and he had no
right to say that there was a God, for he knew nothing about
him. He had been told so; but what could that far-off witness
do for the need of a desolate heart? She had been told so a
million of times. He could not say that he knew it. That
was what she wanted and needed.
He was honest, and so replied:
"I do not know. I hope so."
He felt that she was already beyond him; for she had begun
to cry into the vague, seemingly heartless void, and say:
"Is there a God somewhere to hear me when I cry?"
And with all the teaching he had had, he had no word of
comfort to give. Yes, he had: he had known David Elginbrod.

Before he had shaped his thought, she said:
"I think, if there were a God, he would help me; for I am
nothing but a poor slave now. I have hardly a will of my
own."
The sigh she heaved told of a hopeless oppression.
"The best man, and the wisest, and the noblest I ever
knew," said Hugh, "believed in God with his whole heart and
soul and strength and mind. In fact, he cared for nothing but
God; or rather, he cared for everything because it belonged to
God. He was never afraid of anything, never vexed at anything,
never troubled about anything. He was a good man."
Hugh was surprised at the light which broke upon the character
of David, as he held it before his mind's eye, in order to
describe it to Euphra. He seemed never to have understood
him before.
"Ah! I wish I knew him. I would go to that man, and ask
him to save me. Where does he live?"
"Alas! I do not know whether he is alive or dead — the more
to my shame. But he lives, if he lives, far away in the north
of Scotland."
She paused.
"No. I could not go there. I will write to him."
Hugh could not discourage her, though he doubted whether
a real communication could be established between them.
"I will write down his address for you, when I go in," said
he. "But what can he save you from?"
"From no God," she answered, solemnly. "If there is no
God, then I am sure that there is a devil, and that he has got
me in his power."
Hugh felt her shudder, for she was leaning on his arm, she
was still so lame. She continued:
"Oh! if I had a God, he would right me, I know."
Hugh could not reply. A pause followed.
"Good-bye. I feel pretty sure we shall meet again. My
presentiments are generally true," said Euphra, at length.
Hugh kissed her hand with far more real devotion than he
had ever kissed it with before.
She left him, and hastened to the house 'with feeble speed.'
He was sorry she was gone. He walked up and down for
some time, meditating on the strange girl and her strange
words; till, hearing the dinner bell, he too must hasten in to
dress.
Euphra met him at the dinner-table without any change of
her late manner. Mr. Arnold wished him good night more
kindly than usual. When he went up to his room, he found
that Harry had already cried himself to sleep.
CHAPTER XXXII.
DEPARTURE.
I fancy deemed fit guide to lead my way,
And as I deemed I did pursue her track;
Wit lost his aim, and will was fancy's prey;
The rebel won, the ruler went to wrack.
But now sith fancy did with folly end,
Wit, bought with loss — will, taught by wit, will mend.
SOUTHWELL. — David's Peccavi.
AFTER dinner, Hugh wandered over the well-known places,
to bid them good-bye. Then he went up to his room, and, with
the vanity of a young author, took his poems out of the fatal
old desk; wrote: "Take them, please, such as they are. Let
me be your friend;" inclosed them with the writing, and
addressed them to Euphra. By the time he saw them again,
they were so much waste paper in his eyes.
But what were his plans for the future?
First of all, he would go to London. There he would do
many things. He would try to find Funkelstein. He would
write. He would make acquaintance with London life; for had
he not plenty of money in his pocket? And who could live
more thriftily than he? — During his last session at Aberdeen,
he had given some private lessons, and so contrived to eke out
his small means. These were wretchedly paid for, namely, not
quite at the rate of sevenpence-halfpenny a lesson! but still
that was something, where more could not be had. — Now he
would try to do the same in London, where he would be much
better paid. Or perhaps he might get a situation in a school
for a short time, if he were driven to ultimate necessity. At
all events, he would see London, and look about him for a little
while, before he settled to anything definite.
With this hopeful prospect before him, he next morning bade
adieu to Arnstead. I will not describe the parting with poor
Harry. The boy seemed ready to break his heart, and Hugh
himself had enough to do to refrain from tears. One of the
grooms drove him to the railway in the dog-cart. As they came
near the station, Hugh gave him half-a-crown. Enlivened by
the gift, the man began to talk.
He's a rum customer, that ere gemman with the foring
name. The colour of his puss I couldn't swear to now. Never
saw sixpence o' his'n. My opinion is, master had better look
arter his spoons. And for missus — well, it's a pity! He's a
rum un, as I say, anyhow."
The man here nodded several times, half compassionately,
half importantly.
Hugh did not choose to inquire what he meant. They
reached the station, and in a few minutes he was shooting along
towards London, that social vortex, which draws everything
towards its central tumult.
But there is a central repose beyond the motions of the
world; and through the turmoil of London, Hugh was journeying
towards that wide stillness — that silence of the soul,
which is not desolate, but rich with unutterable harmonies.
END OF THE SECOND BOOK.
BOOK III.
LONDON.
Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers?
Oh, sweet content!
Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplexed?
Oh, punishment!
Dost thou laugh to see how fools are vexed
To add to golden numbers, golden numbers?
Oh, sweet content!
Work apace, apace, apace, apace;
Honest labour bears a lovely face.
Probably THOMAS DEKKER. — Comedy of Patient Grissell.
CHAPTER I.
LODGINGS.
Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Song in As You Like It.
HUGH felt rather dreary as, through Bermondsey, he drew
nigh to the London Bridge Station. Fog, and drizzle, and smoke,
and stench composed the atmosphere. He got out in a drift of
human atoms. Leaving his luggage at the office, he set out on
foot to explore — in fact, to go and look for his future, which,
even when he met it, he would not be able to recognise with
any certainty. The first form in which he was interested to
find it embodied, was that of lodgings; but where even to look,
he did not know. He had been in London for a few days in
the spring on his way to Arnstead, so he was not utterly ignorant
of the anatomy of the monster city; but his little knowledge
could not be of much service to him now. And how
different it was from the London of spring, which had lingered
in his memory and imagination; when, transformed by the
"heavenly alchemy" of the piercing sunbeams that slanted
across the streets from chimney-tops to opposite basements, the
dust and smoke showed great inclined planes of light, up whose
steep slopes one longed to climb to the fountain glory whence
they flowed! Now the streets, from garret to cellar, seemed
like huge kennels of muddy, moist, filthy air, down through
which settled the heavier particles of smoke and rain upon the
miserable human beings who crawled below in the deposit, like
shrimps in the tide, or whitebait at the bottom of the muddy
Thames. He had to wade through deep thin mud even on the
pavements. Everybody looked depressed, and hurried by with
a cowed look; as if conscious that the rain and general misery
were a plague drawn down on the city by his own individual
crime. Nobody seemed to care for anybody or anything.
"Good heavens!" thought Hugh; "what a place this must be
for one without money!" It looked like a chaos of human
monads. And yet, in reality, the whole mass was so bound
together, interwoven, and matted, by the crossing and inter--
twisting threads of interest, mutual help, and relationship of
every kind, that Hugh soon found how hard it was to get within
the mass at all, so as to be in any degree partaker of the
benefits it shared within itself.
He did not wish to get lodgings in the outskirts, for he
thought that would remove him from every centre of action or
employment. But he saw no lodgings anywhere. Growing
tired and hungry, he went at length into an eating-house, which
he thought looked cheap; and proceeded to dine upon a cinder,
which had been a steak. He tried to delude himself into the
idea that it was a steak still, by withdrawing his attention from
it, and fixing it upon a newspaper two days old. Finding
nothing of interest, he dallied with the advertisements. He
soon came upon a column from which single gentlemen appeared
to be in request as lodgers. Looking over these advertisements,
which had more interest for him at the moment
than all home and foreign news, battles and murders included,
he drew a map from his pocket, and began to try to find out
some of the localities indicated. Most of them were in or
towards the suburbs. At last he spied one in a certain square,
which, after long and diligent search, and with the assistance
of the girl who waited on him, he found on his map. It was in
the neighbourhood of Holborn, and, from the place it occupied
in the map, seemed central enough for his vague purposes.
Above all, the terms were said to be moderate. But no description
of the character of the lodgings was given, else Hugh
would not have ventured to look at them. What he wanted
was something of the same sort as he had had in Aberdeen — a
single room, or a room and bed-room, for which he should have
to pay only a few shillings a week.
Refreshed by his dinner, wretched as it was, he set out again.
To his great joy, the rain was over, and an afternoon sun was
trying, with some slight measure of success, to pierce the clouds
of the London atmosphere: it had already succeeded with the
clouds of the terrene. He soon found his way into Holborn,
and thence into the square in question. It looked to him very
attractive; for it was quietness itself, and had no thoroughfare,
except across one of its corners. True, it was invaded by the
universal roar — for what place in London is not? — but it contributed
little or nothing of its own manufacture to the general
production of sound in the metropolis. The centre was occupied
by grass and trees, inclosed within an iron railing. All the
leaves were withered, and many had dropped already on the
pavement below. In the middle stood the statue of a queen, of
days gone by. The tide of fashion had rolled away far to the
west, and yielded a free passage to the inroads of commerce,
and of the general struggle for ignoble existence, upon this once
favoured island in its fluctuating waters. Old windows, flush
with the external walls, whence had glanced fair eyes to which
fashion was even dearer than beauty, now displayed Lodgings to
Let between knitted curtains, from which all idea of drapery
had been expelled by severe starching. Amongst these he soon
found the house he sought, and shrunk from its important size
and bright equipments; but, summoning courage, thought it
better to ring the bell. A withered old lady, in just the same
stage of decay as the square, and adorned after the same fashion
as the house, came to the door, cast a doubtful look at Hugh,
and when he had stated his object, asked him, in a hard, keen,
unmodulated voice, to walk in. He followed her, and found
himself in a dining-room, which to him, judging by his purse,
and not by what he had been used to of late, seemed sumptuous.
He said at once:
"It is needless for me to trouble you further. I see your
rooms will not suit me."
The old lady looked annoyed.
"Will you see the drawing-room apartments, then?" she said,
crustily.
"No, thank you. It would be giving you quite unnecessary
trouble."
"My apartments have always given satisfaction, I assure
you, sir."
"Indeed, I have no reason to doubt it. I wish I could afford
to take them," said Hugh, thinking it better to be open than to
hurt her feelings. "I am sure I should be very comfortable.
But a poor —"
He did not know what to call himself.
"O-oh!" said the landlady. Then, after a pause — "Well?"
interrogatively.
"Well, I was a tutor last, but I don't know what I may be
next."
She kept looking at him. Once or twice she looked at him
from head to foot.
"You are respectable?"
"I hope so," said Hugh, laughing.
"Well!" — this time not interrogatively.
"How many rooms would you like?"
"The fewer the better. Half a one, if there were nobody
the other half."
"Well! — and you wouldn't give much trouble, I daresay."
"Only for coals and water to wash and drink."
"And you wouldn't dine at home?"
"No — nor anywhere else," said Hugh; but the second and
larger clause was sotto voce.
"And you wouldn't smoke in-doors?"
"No."
"And you would wipe your boots clean before you went
up-stairs?"
"Yes, certainly." Hugh was beginning to be exceedingly
amused, but he kept his gravity wonderfully.
"Have you any money?"
"Yes; plenty for the meantime. But when I shall get
more, I don't know, you see."
"Well, I've a room at the top of the house, which I'll make
comfortable for you; and you may stay as long as you like to
behave yourself."
"But what is the rent?"
"Four shillings a week — to you. Would you like to
see it?"
"Yes, if you please."
She conducted him up to the third floor, and showed him a
good-sized room, rather bare, but clean.
"This will do delightfully," said Hugh.
"I will make it a little more comfortable for you, you know."
"Thank you very much. Shall I pay you a month in
advance?"
"No, no," she answered, with a grim smile. "I might want
to get rid of you, you know. It must be a week's warning, no
more."
"Very well. I have no objection. I will go and fetch my
luggage. I suppose I may come in at once?"
"The sooner the better, young man, in a place like London.
The sooner you come home the better pleased I shall be.
There now!"
So saying, she walked solemnly down-stairs before him, and
let him out. Hugh hurried away to fetch his luggage, delighted
that he had so soon succeeded in finding just what he
wanted. As he went, he speculated on the nature of his landlady,
trying to account for her odd rough manner, and the real
kindness of her rude words. He came to the conclusion that
she was naturally kind to profusion, and that this kindness
had, some time or other, perhaps repeatedly, been taken
shameful advantage of; that at last she had come to the resolution
to defend herself by means of a general misanthropy,
and supposed that she had succeeded, when she had got no
further than to have so often imitated the tone of her own
behaviour when at its crossest, as to have made it habitual by
repetition.
In all probability some unknown sympathy had drawn her
to Hugh. She might have had a son about his age, who had
run away thirty years ago. Or rather, for she seemed an
old maid, she had been jilted some time by a youth about
the same size as Hugh; and therefore she loved him the
moment she saw him. Or, in short, a thousand things. Certainly
seldom have lodgings been let so oddly or so cheaply.
But some impulse or other of the whimsical old human heart,
which will have its way, was satisfied therein.
When he returned in a couple of hours, with his boxes on the
top of a cab, the door was opened, before he knocked, by a tidy
maid, who, without being the least like her mistress, yet resembled
her excessively. She helped him to carry his boxes
up-stairs; and when he reached his room, he found a fire burning
cheerily, a muffin down before it, a tea-kettle singing on the
hob, and the tea-tray set upon a nice white cloth on a table
right in front of the fire, with an old-fashioned high-backed
easy-chair by its side — the very chair to go to sleep in over a
novel. The old lady soon made her appearance, with the teapot
in one hand, and a plate of butter in the other.
"Oh! thank you," said Hugh. "This is comfortable!"
She answered only by compressing her lips till her mouth
vanished altogether, and nodding her head as much as to say:
"I know it is. I intended it should be." She then poured
water into the teapot, set it down by the fire, and vanished.
Hugh sat down in the easy-chair, and resolved to be comfortable,
at least till he had had his tea; after which he would think
what he was to do next. A knock at the door — and his landlady
entered, laid a penny newspaper on the table, and went
away. This was just what he wanted to complete his comfort.
He took it up, and read while he consumed his bread and
butter. When he had had enough of tea and newspaper, he
said to himself:
"Now, what am I to do next?"
It is a happy thing for us that this is really all we have to
concern ourselves about — what to do next. No man can do the
second thing. He can do the first. If he omits it, the wheels
of the social Juggernaut roll over him, and leave him more or
less crushed behind. If he does it, he keeps in front, and finds
room to do the next again; and so he is sure to arrive at something,
for the onward march will carry him with it. There is
no saying to what perfection of success a man may come, who
begins with what he can do, and uses the means at his hand.
He makes a vortex of action, however slight, towards which all
the means instantly begin to gravitate. Let a man but lay
hold of something — anything, and he is in the high road to
success — though it may be very long before he can walk comfortably
in it. — It is true the success may be measured out
according to a standard very different from his.
But in Hugh's case, the difficulty was to grasp anything — to
make a beginning anywhere. He knew nobody; and the globe
of society seemed like a mass of adamant, on which he could not
gain the slightest hold, or make the slightest impression. Who
would introduce him to pupils Nobody. He had the testimonials
of his professors; but who would ask to see them? —
His eye fell on the paper. He would advertise.
CHAPTER II.
LETTERS FOR THE POST.
Nothing but drought and dearth, but bush and brake,
Which way soe'er I look, I see.
Some may dream merrily, but when they wake,
They dress themselves, and come to thee.
GEORGE HERBERT. — Home.
HE got his writing materials, and wrote to the effect, that a
graduate of a Scotch university was prepared to give private
lessons in the classics and mathematics, or even in any of the
inferior branches of education, &c., &c. This he would take to
the Times next day.
As soon as he had done this, Duty lifted up her head, and
called him. He obeyed, and wrote to his mother. Duty called
again; and he wrote, though with much trepidation and humiliation,
to David Elginbrod.
It was a good beginning. He had commenced his London
life in doing what he knew he ought to do. His trepidation in
writing to David, arose in part, it must be confessed, from the
strange result of one of the experiments at Arnstead.
This was his letter. But he sat and meditated a long time
before he began it.
"MY DEAR FRIEND, — If I did not think you would forgive
me, I should feel, now that I have once allowed my mind to
rest upon my conduct to you, as if I could never hold up my
head again. After much occupation of thought and feeling
with other things, a season of silence has come, and my sins look
me in the face. First of them all is my neglect of you, to whom
I owe more than to any man else, except, perhaps, my father.
Forgive me, for forgiveness' sake. You know it takes a long
time for a child to know its mother. It takes everything as a
matter of course, till suddenly one day it lifts up its eyes, and
knows that a face is looking at it. I have been like the child
towards you; but I am beginning to feel what you have been
to me. I want to be good. I am very lonely now in great
noisy London. Write to me, if you please, and comfort me. I
wish I were as good as you. Then everything would go right
with me. Do not suppose that I am in great trouble of any kind.
As yet I am very comfortable, as far as external circumstances
go. But I have a kind of aching inside me. Something is not
right, and I want your help. You will know what I mean.
What am I to do? Please to remember me in the kindest,
most grateful manner to Mrs. Elginbrod and Margaret. It is
more than I deserve, but I hope they have not forgotten me as
I have seemed to forget them.
"I am, my dear Mr. Elginbrod,
"Your old friend,
"HUGH SUTHERLAND."
I may as well insert here another letter, which arrived at
Turriepuffit, likewise addressed to David, some six weeks after
the foregoing. They were both taken to Janet, of course:
"SIR, — I have heard from one who knows you, that you
believe — really believe in God. That is why I write to you.
It may seem very strange in me to do so, but how can I help
it? I am a very unhappy woman, for I am in the power of a
bad man. I cannot explain it all to you, and I will not attempt
it; for sometimes I almost think I am out of my mind, and
that it is all a delusion. But, alas! delusion or not, it is a
dreadful reality to me in all its consequences. It is of such a
nature that no one can help me — but God, if there be a God;
and if you can make me believe that there is a God, I shall not
need to be persuaded that he will help me; for I will besiege
him with prayers night and day to set me free. And even if I
am out of my mind, who can help me but him? Ah! is it not
when we are driven to despair, when there is no more help
anywhere, that we look around for some power of good that can
put right all that is wrong? Tell me, dear sir, what to do.
Tell me that there certainly is a God; else I shall die raving.
He said you knew about him better than anybody else.
"I am, honoured Sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"EUPHRASIA CAMERON.
"Arnstead, Surrey, &c., &c."
David's answer to this letter, would have been something
worth having. But I think it would have been all summed up
in one word: Try and see: call and listen.
But what could Janet do with such letters? She did the,
only thing she could: she sent them to Margaret.
Hugh found it no great hardship to go to bed in the same
room in which he sat. The bed looked peculiarly inviting; for,
strange to tell, it was actually hung with the same pattern of
old-fashioned chintz, as the bed which had been his from his
earliest recollection, till he left his father's house. How could
he mistake the trees, growing with tufts to the ground, or the
great birds which he used to think were crows, notwithstanding
their red and yellow plumage? It was all over red, brown, and
yellow. He could remember, and reconstruct the very faces,
distorted and awful, which, in the delirium of childish sicknesses,
he used to discover in the foliage and stems of the trees.
It made the whole place seem to him homely and kind. When
he got tired, he knelt by his bedside, which he had not done
for a long time, and then went to bed. Hardship! No. It
was very pleasant to see the dying fire, and his books about and
his papers; and to dream, half-asleep and half-awake, that the
house-fairies were stealing out to gambol for a little in the
fire-lighted silence of the room as he slept, and to vanish as the
embers turned black. He had not been so happy for a long
time as now. The writing of that letter had removed a load
from his heart. True, we can never be at peace till we have
performed the highest duty of all — till we have arisen, and gone
to our Father; but the performance of smaller duties, yes, even
of the smallest, will do more to give us temporary repose, will
act more as healthful anodynes, than the greatest joys that can
come to us from any other quarter. He soon fell asleep, and
dreamed that he was a little child lost in a snow-storm; and
that just as the snow had reached above his head, and he was
beginning to be smothered, a great hand caught hold of him by
the arm and lifted him out; and, lo! the storm had ceased,
and the stars were sparkling overhead like diamonds that had
been drinking the light of the sun all day; and he saw that it
was David, as strong as ever, who had rescued him, the little
child, and was leading him home to Janet. But he got sleepy
and faint upon the way, which was long and cold; and then
David lifted him up and carried him in his bosom, and he fell
asleep. When he woke, and, opening his eyes, looked up to
him who bore him, it was David no longer. The face was that
which was marred more than any man's, because the soul
within had loved more; it was the face of the Son of Man, and
he was carrying him like a lamb in his bosom. He gazed more
and more as they travelled through the cold night; and the
joy of lying in the embrace of that man, grew and grew, till it
became too strong for the bonds of sleep; and he awoke in the
fog of a London morning.
CHAPTER III.
ENDEAVOURS.
And, even should misfortunes come,
— I, here wha sit, hae met wi' some,
An's thankfu' for them yet.
They gie the wit of age to youth;
They let us ken oursel';
They mak' us see the naked truth,
The real guid and ill.
Tho' losses, and crosses,
Be lessons right severe,
There's wit there, ye'll get there,
Ye'll find nae other where.
BURNS.
HUGH took his advertisement to the Times office, and paid what
seemed to him an awful amount for its insertion. Then he
wandered about London till the middle of the day, when he
went into a baker's shop, and bought two penny loaves, which
he put in his pocket. Having found his way to the British
Museum, he devoured them at his leisure as he walked through
the Grecian and Roman saloons. "What is the use of good
health," he said to himself, "if a man cannot live upon bread?"
Porridge and oatmeal cakes would have pleased him as well;
but that food for horses is not so easily procured in London,
and costs more than the other. A cousin of his had lived in
Edinburgh for six months upon eighteen-pence a week in that
way, and had slept the greater part of the time upon the floor,
training himself for the hardships of a soldier's life. And he
could not forget the.college youth whom his comrades had considered
mean, till they learned that, out of his poor bursary of
fourteen pounds a session, and what he could make besides by
private teaching at the rate previously mentioned or even less,
he helped his parents to educate a younger brother; and, in
order to do so, lived himself upon oatmeal and potatoes. But
they did not find this out till after he was dead, poor fellow!
He could not stand it.
I ought at the same time to mention, that Hugh rarely made
use of a crossing on a muddy day, without finding a half-penny
somewhere about him for the sweeper. He would rather walk
through oceans of mud, than cross at the natural place when
he had no coppers — especially if he had patent leather
boots on.
After he had eaten his bread, he went home to get some water.
Then, as he had nothing else to do, he sat down in his room,
and began to manufacture a story, thinking it just possible it
might be accepted by one or other of the pseudo-literary publications
with which London is inundated in hebdomadal floods.
He found spinning almost as easy as if he had been a spider, for
he had a ready invention, and a natural gift of speech; so that,
in a few days, he had finished a story, quite as good as most of
those that appear in the better sort of weekly publications.
This, in his modesty, he sent to one of the inferior sort, and
heard nothing more of it than if he had flung it into the sea.
Possibly he flew too low. He tried again, but with no better
success. His ambition grew with his disappointments, or perhaps
rather with the exercise of his faculties. Before many days had
passed he made up his mind to try a novel. For three months
he worked at this six hours a day regularly. When material
failed him, from the exhaustion consequent upon uninterrupted
production, he would recreate himself by lying fallow for an
hour or two, or walking out in a mood for merely passive
observation. But this anticipates.
His advertisement did not produce a single inquiry, and he
shrunk from spending more money in such an apparently
unprofitable appliance. Day after day went by, and no voice
reached him from the unknown world of labour. He went at
last to several stationers' shops in the neighbourhood, bought
some necessary articles, and took these opportunities of asking
if they knew of any one in want of such assistance as he could
give. But unpleasant as he felt it to make such inquiries, he
soon found that to most people it was equally unpleasant to
reply to them. There seemed to be something disreputable in
having to answer such questions, to judge from the constrained,
indifferent, and sometimes, though not often, surly answers
which he received. "Can it be," thought Hugh, "as disgraceful
to ask for work as to ask for bread?" If he had had a thousand
a year, and had wanted a situation of another thousand, it
would have been quite commendable; but to try to elude cold
and hunger by inquiring after paltry shillings' worths of hard
labour, was despicable.
So he placed the more hope upon his novel, and worked at
that diligently. But he did not find it quite so easy as he had
at first expected. No one finds anything either so easy or so
difficult as, in opposite moods, he had expected to find it.
Everything is possible; but without labour and failure nothing
is achievable. The labour, however, comes naturally, and experience
grows without agonizing transitions; while the failure
generally points, in its detected cause, to the way of future
success. He worked on.
He did not, however, forget the ring. Frequent were his
meditations, in the pauses of his story, and when walking in the
streets, as to the best means of recovering it. I should rather
say any means than best; for it was not yet a question of choice
and degrees. The count could not but have known that the
ring was of no money value; therefore it was not likely that he
had stolen it in order to part with it again. Consequently it
would be of no use to advertise it, or to search for it in the
pawnbrokers' or second-hand jewellers' shops. To find the
crystal, it was clear as itself that he must first find the count.
But how? — He could think of no plan. Any alarm would
place the count on the defensive, and the jewel at once beyond
reach. Besides, he wished to keep the whole matter quiet, and
gain his object without his or any other name coming before the
public. Therefore he would not venture to apply to the police,
though doubtless they would be able to discover the man, if he
were anywhere in London. He surmised that in all probability
they knew him already. But he could not come to any conclusion
as to the object he must have had in view in securing
such a trifle.
Hugh had all but forgotten the count's cheque for a hundred
guineas; for, in the first place, he had never intended presenting
it — the repugnance which some minds feel to using money
which they have neither received by gift nor acquired by honest
earning, being at least equal to the pleasure other minds feel in
gaining it without the expense of either labour or obligation;
and in the second place, since he knew more about the drawer,
he had felt sure that it would be of no use to present it. To
make this latter conviction a certainty, he did present it, and
found that there were no effects.
CHAPTER IV.
A LETTER FROM THE POST.
Hipolito. Is your wife then departed?
Orlando. She's an old dweller in those high countries, yet not from
me: here, she's here; a good couple are seldom parted. — DERKER.
WHAT wonderful things letters are! In trembling and hope
the fingers unclasp, and the folded sheet drops into — no, not
the post-office letter-box — but into space.
I have read a story somewhere of a poor child that dropped a
letter into the post-office, addressed to Jesus Christ in Heaven.
And it reached him, and the child had her answer. For was it
not Christ present in the good man or woman — I forget the particulars
of the story — who sent the child the help she needed?
There was no necessity for him to answer in person, as in the
case of Abgarus, king of Edessa.
Out of space from somewhere comes the answer. Such
letters as those given in a previous chapter, are each a spirit-cry
sent out, like a Noah's dove, into the abyss; and the spirit
turns its ear, where its mouth had been turned before, and
leans listening for the spirit-echo — the echo with a soul in it —
the answering voice which out of the abyss will enter by the
gate now turned to receive it. Whose will be the voice? What
will be the sense? What chords on the harp of life have been
struck afar off by the arrow-words of the letter? What tones
will they send back to the longing, hungering ear? The mouth
hath spoken, that the fainting ear may be filled by the return
of its words through the alembic of another soul.
One cause of great uneasiness to Hugh was, that, for some
time after a reply might have been expected, he received no
answer from David Elginbrod. At length, however, a letter
arrived, upon the hand-writing of which he speculated in vain,
perplexed with a resemblance in it to some writing that he
knew; and when he opened it, he found the following answer
to his own:
"DEAR MR. SUTHERLAND, — Your letter to my father has
been sent to me by my mother, for what you will feel to be the
sad reason, that he is no more in this world. But I cannot say
it is so very sad to me to think that he is gone home, where my
mother and I will soon join him. True love can wait well.
Nor indeed, dear Mr. Sutherland, must you be too much troubled
that your letter never reached him. My father was like
God in this, that he always forgave anything the moment there
was anything to forgive; for when else could there be such a
good time? — although, of course, the person forgiven could not
know it till he asked for forgiveness. But, dear Mr. Sutherland,
if you could see me smiling as I write, and could yet see
how earnest my heart is in writing it, I would venture to say
that, in virtue of my knowing my father as I do — for I am sure
I know his very soul, as near as human love could know it — I
forgive you, in his name, for anything and everything with
which you reproach yourself in regard to him. Ah! how much
I owe you! And how much he used to say he owed you! We
shall thank you one day, when we all meet.
"I am, dear Mr. Sutherland,
"Your grateful scholar,
"MARGARET ELGINBROD."
Hugh burst into tears on reading this letter, — with no overpowering
sense of his own sin, for he felt that he was forgiven;
but with a sudden insight into the beauty and grandeur of the
man whom he had neglected, and the wondrous loveliness
which he had transmitted from the feminine part of his nature
to the wholly feminine and therefore delicately powerful nature
of Margaret. The vision he had beheld in the library at Arnstead,
about which, as well as about many other things that
had happened to him there, he could form no theory capable of
embracing all the facts — this vision returned to his mind's eye,
and he felt that the glorified face he had beheld must surely
have been Margaret's, whether he had seen it in the body or
out of the body: such a face alone seemed to him worthy of the
writer of this Metter. Purposely or not, there was no address
given in it; and to his surprise, when he examined the envelope
with the utmost care, he could discover no postmark but the
London one. The date-stamp likewise showed that it must
have been posted in London.
"So," said he to himself, "in my quest of a devil, I may
cross the track of an angel, who knows? But how can she be
here?"
To this of course he had no answer at hand.
CHAPTER V.
BEGINNINGS.
Since a man is bound no farther to himself than to do wisely, chance is
only to trouble them that stand upon chance. — SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. —
The Arcadia.
MEANTIME a feeble star, but sparkling some rays of comfort,
began to shine upon Hugh's wintry prospects. The star arose
in a grocer's shop. For one day his landlady, whose grim attentions
had been increasing rather than diminishing, addressed
him suddenly as she was removing his breakfast apparatus.
This was a very extraordinary event, for she seldom addressed
him at all; and replied, when he addressed her, only in the
briefest manner possible.
"Have you got any pupils yet, Mr. Sutherland?"
"No — I am sorry to say. But how did you come to know I
wanted any, Miss Talbot?"
"You shouldn't have secrets at home, Mr. Sutherland. I
like to know what concerns my own family, and I generally find
out."
"You saw my advertisement, perhaps?"
To this suggestion Miss Talbot made no other answer than
the usual compression of her lips.
"You wouldn't be above teaching a tradesman's son to begin
with?"
"Certainly not. I should be very happy. Do you know of
such a pupil?"
"Well, I can't exactly say do know or I don't know; but I
happened to mention to my grocer round the corner that you
wanted pupils. Don't suppose, Mr. Sutherland, that I'm in the
way of talking about any young men of mine; but —"
"Not for a moment," interrupted Hugh; and Miss Talbot
resumed, evidently gratified.
"Well, if you wouldn't mind stepping round the corner, I
shouldn't wonder if you might make an arrangement with Mr.
Appleditch. He said you might call upon him if you liked."
Hugh jumped up, and got his hat at once; received the few
necessary directions from Miss Talbot, and soon found the shop.
There were a good many poor people in it, buying sugar, and
soap, &c.; and one lady apparently giving a large order. A
young man came to Hugh, and bent over the counter in a recipient
position, like a live point of interrogation. Hugh answered

"Mr. Appleditch."
"Mr. Appleditch will be disengaged in a few minutes. Will
you take a seat?"
The grocer was occupied with the lady and her order; but as
soon as she departed, he approached Hugh behind the rampart,
and stood towards him in the usual retail attitude.
"My name is Sutherland."
"Sutherland?" said Mr. Appleditch; "I think I've 'eard
the name somewheres, but I don't know the face."
"Miss Talbot mentioned me to you, I understand, Mr.
Appleditch."
"Oh! ah! I remember. I beg your pardon. Will you step
this way, Mr. Sutherland?"
Hugh followed him through a sort of draw-bridge which he
lifted in the counter, into a little appendix at the back of the
shop. Mr. Appleditch was a meek-looking man, with large
eyes, plump pasty cheeks, and a thin little person.
"'Ow de do, Mr. Sutherland?" said he, holding out his hand,
as soon as they had reached this retreat.
"Thank you — quite well;" answered Sutherland, shaking
hands with him as well as he could, the contact not being altogether
pleasant.
"So you want pupils, do you, sir?"
"Yes."
"Ah! well you see, sir, pupils is scarce at this season. They
ain't to be bought in every shop — ha! ha!" (The laugh was
very mild.) "But I think Mrs. Appleditch could find you one,
if you could agree with her about the charge, you know, and all
that."
"How old is he? A boy, I suppose?"
"Well, you're right, sir. It is a boy. Not very old, though.
My Samuel is just ten, but a wonderful forward boy for his years
— bless him!"
"And what would you wish him to learn?"
"Oh! Latin and Greek, and all that. We intend bringing
him up for the ministry. — I hope your opinions are decided, sir?"
"On some points, they are. But I do not know to what you
refer, exactly."
"I mean theological opinions, sir."
"But I shall not have to teach your little boy theology."
"Certainly not, sir. That department belongs to his mother
and I. Unworthy vessels, sir; mere earthen vessels; but filled
with the grace of God, I hope, sir."
The grocer parted his hands, which he had been rubbing together
during this conversation, and lifted them upwards from
the wrists, like the fins of a seal; then, dropping them, fell to
rubbing them again.
"I hope so. Well — you know the best way will be for me —
not knowing your opinions — to avoid everything of a religious
kind."
"Ah! but it should be line upon line, you know; here a
little, and there a little, sir. As the bow is bent, you know —
the — hoop is made, you know, sir."
Here Mr. Appleditch stepped to the door suddenly, and
peeped out, as if he feared he was wanted; but presently returning,
he continued:
"But time's a precious gift, sir, and we must not waste it.
So, if you'll do us the honour, sir, to dine with us next Lord's
day — we may call it a work of necessity, you know — you will
see the little Samuel, and — and — Mrs. Appleditch."
"I shall be very happy. What is your address, Mr. Appleditch?"

"You had better come to Salem Chapel, Dervish town, and
we can go home together. Service commences at eleven. Mrs.
Appleditch will be glad to see you. Ask for Mr. Appleditch's
pew. Goo-ood morning, sir."
Hugh took his leave, half inclined to send an excuse before
the day arrived, and decline the connection. But his principle
was, to take whatever offered, and thus make way for the next
thing. Besides, he thus avoided the responsibility of choice,
from which he always shrunk.
He returned to his novel; but, alas! the inventive faculty
point-blank refused to work under the weight of such a Sunday
in prospect. He wandered out, quite dispirited; but, before
long, to take his revenge upon circumstances, resolved at least
to have a dinner out of them. So he went to a chop-house, had
a chop and a glass of ale, and was astonished to find how much
he enjoyed them. In fact, abstinence gave his very plain dinner
more than all the charms of a feast — a fact of which Hugh has
not been the only discoverer. He studied Punch all the time
he ate, and rose with his spirits perfectly restored.
"Now I am in for it," said he, "I will be extravagant for
once." So he went and bought a cigar, which he spun out
into three miles of smoke, as he wandered through Shoreditch,
and Houndsditch, and Petticoat-lane, gazing at the faces of his
brothers and sisters; which faces having been so many years
wrapt in a fog both moral and physical, now looked out of it as
if they were only the condensed nuclei of the same fog and filth.
As he was returning through Whitechapel, he passed a man
on the pavement, whose appearance was so remarkable that he
could not help looking back after him. When he reflected
about it, he thought that it must have been a certain indescribable
resemblance to David Elginbrod that had so attracted
him. The man was very tall. Six-foot Hugh felt dwarfed
beside him; for he had to look right up, as he passed, to see
his face. He was dressed in loose, shabby black. He had high
and otherwise very marked features, and a dark complexion. A
general carelessness of demeanour was strangely combined with
an expression of reposeful strength and quiet concentration of
will. At how much of this conclusion Hugh arrived after knowing
more of him, I cannot tell; but such was the description he
gave of him as he saw him first: and it was thoroughly correct.
His countenance always seemed to me (for I knew him
well) to represent a nature ever bent in one direction, but never
in haste, because never in doubt.
To carry his extravagance and dissipation still further, Hugh
now betook himself to the pit of the Olympic Theatre; and no
one could have laughed more heartily, or cried more helplessly,
that night, than he; for he gave himself wholly up to the influences
of the ruler of the hour, the admirable Robson. But
what was his surprise when, standing up at the close of the first
act, and looking around and above him, he saw, unmistakeably,
the same remarkable countenance looking down upon him from
the front row of the gallery. He continued his circuit of observation,
trying to discover the face of Funkelstein in the boxes
or circles; but involuntarily he turned his gaze back to the
strange countenance, which still seemed bent towards his. The
curtain rose, and during the second act he forgot all about
everything else. At its close he glanced up to the gallery
again, and there was the face still, and still looking at him. At
the close of the third act it had vanished, and he saw nothing
more of it that evening. When the after-piece was over, for he
sat it out, he walked quietly home, much refreshed. He had
needed some relaxation, after many days of close and continuous
labour.
But awfully solemn was the face of good Miss Talbot, as she
opened the door for him at midnight. Hugh took especial pains
with his boots and the door-mat, but it was of no use: the
austerity of her countenance would not relax in the least.
So he took his candle and walked up-stairs to his room,
saying only as he went — being unable to think of anything
else:
"Good night, Miss Talbot."
But no response proceeded from the offended divinity of the
place.
He went to bed, somewhat distressed at the behaviour of Miss
Talbot, for he had a weakness for being on good terms with
everybody. But he resolved to have it out with her next morning;
and so fell asleep and dreamed of the strange man who
had watched him at the theatre.
He rose next morning at the usual time. But his breakfast
was delayed half an hour; and when it came, the maid waited
upon him, and not her mistress, as usual. When he had
finished, and she returned to take away the ruins, he asked her
to say to her mistress that he wanted to speak to her. She
brought back a message, which she delivered with some difficulty,
and evidently under compulsion — that if Mr. Sutherland
wanted to speak to her, he would find her in the back parlour.
Hugh went down instantly, and found Miss Talbot in a doubly
frozen condition, her face absolutely blue with physical and
mental cold combined. She waited for him to speak. Hugh
began:
"Miss Talbot, it seems something is wrong between you and
me."
"Yes, Mr. Sutherland."
"Is it because I was rather late last night"
"Rather late, Mr. Sutherland?"
Miss Talbot showed no excitement. With her, the thermometer,
in place of rising under the influence of irritation,
steadily sank.
"I cannot make myself a prisoner on parole, you know, Miss
Talbot. You must leave me my liberty."
"Oh, yes, Mr. Sutherland. Take your liberty. You'll go the
way of all the rest. It's no use trying to save any of you."
"But I'm not aware that I am in any particular want of
saving, Miss Talbot."
"There it is! — Well, till a sinner is called and awakened, of
course it's no use. So I'll just do the best I can for you. Who
can tell when the Spirit may be poured from on high? But it's
very sad to me, Mr. Sutherland, to see an amiable young man
like you going the way of transgressors, which is hard. I am
sorry for you, Mr. Sutherland."
Though the ice was not gone yet, it had begun to melt under
the influences of Hugh's good-temper, and Miss Talbot's sympathy
with his threatening fate. Conscience, too, had something
to do with the change; for, much as one of her temperament
must have disliked making such a confession, she ended
by adding, after a pause:
"And very sorry, Mr. Sutherland, that I showed you any
bad temper last night."
Poor Miss Talbot! Hugh saw that she was genuinely
troubled about him, and resolved to offend but seldom, while
he was under her roof.
"Perhaps, when you know me longer, you will find I am
steadier than you think."
"Well, it may be. But steadiness won't make a Christian of
you."
"It may make a tolerable lodger of me, though," answered
Hugh; "and you wouldn't turn me into the street because I
am steady and nothing more, would you?"
"I said I was sorry, Mr. Sutherland. Do you wish me to
say more?"
"Bless your kind heart!" said Hugh. "I was only joking."
He held out his hand to Miss Talbot, and her eyes glistened
as she took it. She pressed it kindly, and abandoned it
instantly.
So all was right between them once more.
"Who knows," murmured Miss Talbot, "but the Lord may
save him? He's surely not far from the kingdom of heaven.
I'll do all I can to make him comfortable."
CHAPTER VI.
A SUNDAY'S DINNER.
Some books are lies frae end to end,
And some great lies were never penned:
Even ministers, they hae been kenned,
In holy rapture,
Great lies and nonsense baith to vend,
And nail't wi' Scripture.
BURNS.
To the great discomposure of Hugh, Sunday was inevitable,
and he had to set out for Salem Chapel. He found it a neat
little Noah's Ark of a place, built in the shape of a cathedral,
and consequently sharing in the general disadvantages to which
dwarfs of all kinds are subjected, absurdity included. He was
shown to Mr. Appleditch's pew. That worthy man received
him in sleek black clothes, with white neck-cloth, and Sunday
face composed of an absurd mixture of stupidity and sanctity.
He stood up, and Mrs. Appleditch stood up, and Master Appleditch
stood up, and Hugh saw that the ceremony of the place
required that he should force his way between the front of the
pew and the person of each of the human beings occupying it,
till he reached the top, where there was room for him to
sit down. No other recognition was taken till after service.

Meantime the minister ascended the pulpit stair, with all the
solemnity of one of the self-elect, and a priest besides. He was
just old enough for the intermittent attacks of self-importance
to which all youth is exposed, to have in his case become chronic.
He stood up and worshipped his creator aloud, after a manner
which seemed to say in every tone: "Behold I am he that worshippeth
Thee! How mighty art Thou!" Then he read the
Bible in a quarrelsome sort of way, as if he were a bantam, and
every verse were a crow of defiance to the sinner. Then they
sang a hymn in a fashion which brought dear old Scotland to
Hugh's mind, which has the sweetest songs in its cottages, and
the worst singing in its churches, of any country in the world.
But it was almost equalled here; the chief cause of its, badness
being the absence of a modest self-restraint, and consequent
tempering of the tones, on the part of the singers; so that the
result was what Hugh could describe only as scraichin. *
I was once present at the worship of some being who is supposed
by negroes to love drums and cymbals, and all dangorous
noises. The resemblance, according to Hugh's description,
could not have been a very distant one. And yet I doubt not
that some thoughts of worshipping love mingled with the
noise and perhaps the harmony of these with the spheric
melodies, sounded the sweeter to the angels, from the earthly
discord in which they were lapped.
Then came the sermon. The text was the story of the good
Samaritan. Some idea, if not of the sermon, yet of the value
of it, may be formed from the fact, that the first thing to be considered,
or, in other words, the first head was, "The culpable
imprudence of the man in going from Jerusalem to Jericho
without an escort."
It was in truth a strange, grotesque, and somewhat awful
medley — not unlike a dance of death, in which the painter has
given here a lovely face, and there a beautiful arm or an exquisite
foot, to the wild-prancing and exultant skeletons. But
the parts of the sermon corresponding to the beautiful face or
arm or foot, were but the fragments of Scripture, shining like
gold amidst the worthless ore of the man's own production —
* ch guttural. The land-rail is a corn-scraich.
worthless, save as gravel or chaff or husks have worth, in a
world where dilution, and not always concentration, is necessary
for healthfulness.
But there are Indians who eat clay, and thrive on it more or
less, I suppose. The power of assimilation which a growing
nature must possess is astonishing. It will find its food, its real
Sunday dinner, in the midst of a whole cartload of refuse; and
it will do the whole week's work on it. On no other supposition
would it be possible to account for the earnest face of Miss Talbot,
which Hugh espied turned up to the preacher, as if his face
were the very star in the east, shining to guide the chosen kings.
It was well for Hugh's power of endurance, that he had heard
much the same thing in Scotland, and the same thing better
dressed, and less grotesque, but more lifeless, and at heart as
ill-mannered, in the church of Arnstead.
Just before concluding the service, the pastor made an announcement
in the following terms: "After the close of the
present service, I shall be found in the adjoining vestry by all
persons desirous of communicating with me on the state of
their souls, or of being admitted to the privileges of church--
fellowship. Brethren, we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
and so long as this vessel lasts" — here he struck his chest so
that it resounded — "it shall be faithfully and liberally dispensed.
Let us pray."
After the prayer, he spread abroad his arms and hands as if
he would clasp the world in his embrace, and pronounced the
benediction in a style of arrogance that the pope himself would
have been ashamed of.
The service being thus concluded, the organ absolutely
blasted the congregation out of the chapel, so did it storm and
rave with a fervour anything but divine.
My readers must not suppose that I give this chapel as the
type of orthodox dissenting chapels. I give it only as an approximate
specimen of a large class of them. The religious
life which these communities once possessed, still lingers in
those of many country districts and small towns, but is, I fear,
all but gone from those of the cities and larger towns. What
of it remains in these, has its chief manifestation in the fungous
growth of such chapels as the one I have described, the congregations
themselves taking this for a sure indication of the prosperity
of the body. How much even of the kind of prosperity
which they ought to indicate, is in reality at the foundation of
these appearances, I would recommend those to judge who are
versed in the mysteries of chapel-building societies.
As to Hugh, whether it was that the whole affair was suggestive
of Egyptian bondage, or that his own mood was, at the
time, of the least comfortable sort, I will not pretend to determine;
but he assured me that he felt all the time, as if, instead
of being in a chapel built of bricks harmoniously arranged, as by
the lyre of Amphion, he were wandering in the waste, wretched
field whence these bricks had been dug, of all places on the
earth's surface the most miserable, assailed by the nauseous
odours, which have not character enough to be described, and
only remind one of the colours on a snake's back.
When they reached the open air, Mr. Appleditch introduced
Hugh to Mrs. Appleditch, on the steps in front of the chapel.
"This is Mr. Sutherland, Mrs. Appleditch."
Hugh lifted his hat, and Mrs. Appleditch made a courtesy.
She was a very tall woman — a head beyond her husband, extremely
thin, with sharp nose, hollow cheeks, and good eyes.
In fact, she was partly pretty, and might have been pleasant--
looking, but for a large, thin-lipped, vampire-like mouth, and a
general expression of greed and contempt. She was meant for
a lady, and had made herself a money-maggot. She was richly
and plainly dressed; and until she began to be at her ease,
might have passed for an unpleasant lady. Master Appleditch,
the future pastor, was a fat boy, dressed like a dwarf, in a frock
coat and man's hat, with a face in which the meanness and
keenness strove for mastery, and between them kept down the
appearance of stupidity consequent on fatness. They walked
home in silence, Mr. and Mrs. Appleditch apparently pondering
either upon the spiritual food they had just received, or the
corporeal food for which they were about to be thankful.
Their house was one of many in a crescent. Not content
with his sign in town, the grocer had a large brass plate on his
door, with Appleditch engraved upon it in capitals: it saved
them always looking at the numbers. The boy ran on before,
and assailed this door with a succession of explosive knocks.
As soon as it was opened, in he rushed, bawling:
"Peter, Peter, here's the new apprentice! Papa's brought
him home to dinner, because he was at chapel this morning."
Then in a lower tone — "I mean to have a ride on his back this
afternoon."
The father and mother laughed. A solemn priggish little
voice answered:
"Oh, no, Johnny. Don't you know what day this is? This
is the Sabbath-day."
"The dear boy!" sighed his mother.
"That boy is too good to live," responded the father.
Hugh was shown into the dining-room, where the table was
already laid for dinner. It was evident that the Appleditches
were well-to-do people. The room was full of what is called
handsome furniture, in a high state of polish. Over the chimney-piece
hung the portrait of a preacher in gown and bands,
the most prominent of whose features were his cheeks.
In a few minutes the host and hostess entered, followed by a
pale-faced little boy, the owner of the voice of reproof.
"Come here, Peetie," said his mother, "and tell Mr. Sutherland
what you have got." She referred to some toy — no, not
toy, for it was the Sabbath — to some book, probably.
Peetie answered in a solemn voice, mouthing every vowel:
"I've got five bags of gold in the Bank of England.
"Poor child!" said his mother, with a scornful giggle. "You
wouldn't have much to reckon on, if that were all."
Two or three gaily dressed riflemen passed the window. The
poor fellows, unable to bear the look of their Sunday clothes, if
they had any, after being used to their uniform, had come out
in all its magnificence.
"Ah!" said Mr. Appleditch, "that's all very well in a state
of nature; but when a man is once born into a state of grace,
Mr. Sutherland — ah!"
"Really," responded Mrs. Appleditch, "the worldliness of the
lower classes is quite awful. But they are spared for a day of
wrath, poor things! I am sure that accident on the railway last
Sabbath, might have been a warning to them all. After that
they can't say there is not a God that ruleth in the earth, and
taketh vengeance for his broken Sabbaths."
"Mr. —. I don't know your name," said Peter, whose age
Hugh had just been trying in vain to conjecture.
"Mr. Sutherland," said the mother.
"Mr. Slubberman, are you a converted character?" resumed
Peter.
"Why do you ask me that, Master Peter?" said Hugh,
trying to smile.
"I think you look good, but mamma says she don't think you
are, because you say Sunday instead of Sabbath, and she always
finds people who do are worldly."
Mrs. Appleditch turned red — not blushed, and said, quickly:
"Peter shouldn't repeat everything he hears."
"No more I do, ma. I haven't told what you said about —"
Here his mother caught him up, and carried him out of the
room, saying:
"You naughty boy! You shall go to bed."
"Oh, no, I shan't!"
"Yes, you shall. Here, Jane, take this naughty boy to bed."
"I'll scream."
"Will you?"
"Yes, I will!"
And such a yell was there
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if …
ten cats were being cooked alive.
"Well! well! well! my Peetie! He shan't go to bed, if
he'll be a good boy. Will he be good?"
"May I stay up to supper, then? May I?"
"Yes, yes; anything to stop such dreadful screaming. You
are very naughty — very naughty indeed."
"No. I'm not naughty. I'll scream again."
"No, no. Go and get your pinafore on, and come down to
dinner. Anything rather than a scream."
I am sick of all this, and doubt if it is worth printing; but it
amused me very much one night as Hugh related it over a
bottle of Chablis and a pipe.
He certainly did not represent Mrs. Appleditch in a very
favourable light on the whole; but he took care to say that
there was a certain liberality about the table, and a kind of
heartiness in her way of pressing him to have more than he
could possibly eat, which contrasted strangely with her behaviour
afterwards in money matters. There are many people who can
be liberal in almost anything but money. They seem to say,
"Take anything but my purse." Miss Talbot told him afterwards,
that this same lady was quite active amongst the poor of
her district. She made it a rule never to give money, or at
least never more than sixpence; but she turned scraps of
victuals and cast-off clothes to the best account; and, if she did
not make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, she yet
kept an eye on the eternal habitations in the distribution of the
crumbs that fell from her table. Poor Mr. Appleditch, on the
other hand, often embezzled a shilling or a half-crown from the
till, for the use of a poor member of the same church — meaning
by church, the individual community to which he belonged; but
of this, Mrs. Appleditch was carefully kept ignorant.
After dinner was over, and the children had been sent away,
which was effected without a greater amount of difficulty than,
from the anticipative precautions adopted, appeared to be lawful
and ordinary, Mr. Appleditch proceeded to business.
"Now, Mr. Sutherland, what do you think of Johnnie, sir?"
"It is impossible for me to say yet; but I am quite willing
to teach him if you like."
"He's a forward boy," said his mother.
"Not a doubt of it," responded Hugh; for he remembered
the boy asking him, across the table: "Isn't our Mr. Lixom" —
(the pastor) — "a oner?"
"And very eager and retentive," said his father.
Hugh had seen the little glutton paint both cheeks to the
eyes with damson tart, and render more than a quantity proportionate
to the colouring, invisible.
"Yes, he is eager, and retentive, too, I daresay," he said;
but much will depend on whether he has a turn for study."
"Well, you will find that out to-morrow. I think you will
be surprised, sir."
"At what hour would you like me to come?"
"Stop, Mr. Appleditch," interposed his wife. "You have
said nothing yet about terms; and that is of some importance,
considering the rent and taxes we pay."
"Well, my love, what do you feel inclined to give?"
"How much do you charge a lesson, Mr. Sutherland? Only
let me remind you, sir, that he is a very little boy, although
stout, and that you cannot expect to put much Greek and Latin
into him for some time yet. Besides, we want you to come
every day, which ought to be considered in the rate of charge."
"Of course it ought," said Hugh.
"How much do you say, then, sir?"
"I should be content with half-a-crown a lesson."
"I daresay you would!" replied the lady, with indignation.
"Halfa-crown! That's — six half-crowns is — fifteen shillings.
Fifteen shillings a week for that mite of a boy! Mr. Sutherland,
you ought to be ashamed of yourself, sir."
"You forget, Mrs. Appleditch, that it is as much trouble to
me to teach one little boy — yes, a great deal more than to teach
twenty grown men."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, sir. You a Christian
man, and talk of trouble in teaching such a little cherub as
that?"
"But do pray remember the distance I have to come, and that
it will take nearly four hours of my time every day."
"Then you can get lodgings nearer."
"But I could not get any so cheap."
"Then you can the better afford to do it."
And she threw herself back in her chair, as if she had struck
the decisive blow. Mr. Appleditch remarked, gently:
"It is good for your health to walk the distance, sir."
Mrs. Appleditch resumed:
"I won't give a farthing more than one shilling a lesson.
There, now!"
"Very well," said Hugh, rising; "then I must wish
you good day. We need not waste more time in talking
about it."
"Surely you are not going to make any use of your time on
a Sunday?" said the grocer, mildly. "Don't be in a hurry, Mr.
Sutherland. We tradespeople like to make the best bargain we
can."
"Mr. Appleditch, I am ashamed of you. You always will be
vulgar. You always smell of the shop."
"Well, my dear, how can I help it? The sugar and soft-soap
will smell, you know."
"Mr. Appleditch, you disgust me!"
"Dear! dear! I am sorry for that. — Suppose we say to Mr.
Sutherland —"
"Now, you leave that to me. I'll tell you what, Mr. Sutherland
— I'll give you eighteenpence a lesson, and your dinner or
the Sabbath; that is, if you sit under Mr. Lixom in our pew,
and walk home with us."
"That I must decline," said Hugh. "I must have my
Sundays for myself."
Mrs. Appleditch was disappointed. She had coveted the
additional importance which the visible possession of a live tutor
would secure her at "Salem."
"Ah! Mr. Sutherland," she said. "And I must trust my
child, with an immortal soul in his inside, to one who wants
the Lord's only day for himself! — for himself, Mr. Sutherland!"
Hugh made no answer, because he had none to make. Again
Mrs. Appleditch resumed:
"Shall it be a bargain, Mr. Sutherland? Eighteen-pence a
lesson — that's nine shillings a week — and begin to-morrow?"
Hugh's heart sunk within him, not so much with disappointment
as with disgust.
But to a man who is making nothing, the prospect of earning
ever so little, is irresistibly attractive. Even on a shilling a day,
he could keep hunger at arm's length. And a beginning is half
the battle. He resolved.
"Let it be a bargain, then, Mrs. Appleditch."
The lady immediately brightened up, and at once put on her
company-manners again, behaving to him with great politeness,
and a sneer that would not be hid away under it. From this
Hugh suspected that she had made a better bargain than she
had hoped; but the discovery was now too late, even if he could
have brought himself to take advantage of it. He hated bargain--
making as heartily as the grocer's wife loved it.
He very soon rose to take his leave.
"Oh!" said Mrs. Appleditch to her husband, "but Mr.
Sutherland has not seen the drawing-room!"
Hugh wondered what there could be remarkable about the
drawing-room; but he soon found that it was the pride of Mrs.
Appleditch's heart. She abstained from all use of it except
upon great occasions — when parties of her friends came to drink
tea with her. She made a point, however, of showing it to
everybody who entered the house for the first time. So Hugh
was led up-stairs, to undergo the operation of being shown the
drawing- room, and being expected to be astonished at it.
I asked him what it was like. He answered: "It was just
what it ought to be — rich and ugly. Mr. Appleditch, in his
deacon's uniform, hung over the fire, and Mrs. Appleditch, in
her wedding-dress, over the piano; for there was a piano, and
she could play psalm-tunes on it with one finger. The round
table in the middle of the room had books in gilded red and
blue covers symmetrically arranged all round it. This is all I
can recollect."
Having feasted his eyes on the magnificence thus discovered
to him, he walked home, more depressed at the prospect of his
new employment than he could have believed possible.
On his way he turned aside into the Regent's Park, where the
sight of the people enjoying themselves — for it was a fine day
for the season — partially dispelled the sense of living corruption
and premature burial which he had experienced all day long.
He kept as far off from the rank of open-air preachers as possible,
and really was able to thank God that all the world did
not keep Scotch Sabbath — a day neither Mosaic, nor Jewish, nor
Christian: not Mosaic, inasmuch as it kills the very essence of
the fourth commandment, which is Rest, transmuting it into
what the chemists would call a mechanical mixture of service and
inertia; not Jewish, inasmuch as it is ten times more severe,
and formal, and full of negations, than that of the Sabbatarian
Jews reproved by the Saviour for their idolatry of the day; and
unchristian, inasmuch as it insists, beyond appeal, on the
observance of times and seasons, abolished, as far as law is concerned,
by the word of the chief of the apostles; and elevates
into an especial test of piety a custom not even mentioned by
the founders of christianity at all — that, namely, of accounting
this day more holy than all the rest.
These last are but outside reasons for calling it unchristian.
There are far deeper and more important ones, which cannot
well be produced here.
It is not Hugh, however, who is to be considered accountable
for all this, but the historian of his fortunes, between whom and
the vision of a Lord's Day indeed, there arises too often the
nightmare-memory of a Scotch Sabbath — between which and its
cousin, the English Sunday, there is too much of a family likeness.
The grand men and women whom I have known in
Scotland, seem to me, as I look back, to move about in the mists
of a Scotch Sabbath, like a company of way-worn angels in the
Limbo of Vanity, in which there is no air whereupon to smite
their sounding wings, that they may rise into the sunlight of
God's presence.
CHAPTER VII.
SUNDAY EVENING.
Now resteth in my memory but this point, which indeed is the chief to
you of all others; which is the choice of what men you are to direct yourself
to; for it is certain no vessel can leave a worse taste in the liquor it
contains, than a wrong teacher infects an unskilful hearer with that which
hardly will ever out. … But you may say, "How
shall I get excellent men to take pains to speak with me?" Truly, in
few words, either by much expense or much humbleness.
Letter of Sir Philip Sidney to his brother Robert.
How many things which, at the first moment, strike us
as curious coincidences, afterwards become so operative on our
lives, and so interwoven with the whole web of their histories,
that instead of appearing any more as strange accidents, they
assume the shape of unavoidable necessities, of homely, ordinary,
lawful occurrences, as much in their own place as any shaft or
pinion of a great machine!
It was dusk before Hugh turned his steps homeward. He
wandered along, thinking of Euphra and the Count and the
stolen rings. He greatly desired to clear himself to Mr.
Arnold. He saw that the nature of the ring tended to justify
Mr. Arnold's suspicions; for a man who would not steal for
money's worth, might yet steal for value of another sort,
addressing itself to some peculiar weakness; and Mr. Arnold
might have met with instances of this nature in his position as
magistrate. He greatly desired, likewise, for Euphra's sake, to
have Funkelstein in his power. His own ring was beyond
recovery; but if, by its means, he could hold such a lash over
him as would terrify him from again exercising his villanous
influences on her, he would be satisfied.
While plunged in this contemplation, he came upon two
policemen talking together. He recognized one of them as a
Scotchman, from his speech. It occurred to him at once to ask
his advice, in a modified manner; and a moment's reflection
convinced him that it would at least do no harm. He would do
it. It was one of those resolutions at which one arrives by an
arrow flight of the intellect.
"You are a countryman of mine, I think," said he, as soon as
the two had parted.
"If ye're a Scotchman, sir — may be ay, may be no."
"Whaur come ye frae, man?"
"Ou, Aberdeen-awa."
"It's mine ain calf-country. An' what do they ca' ye?"
"They ca' me John MacPherson."
"My name's Sutherland."
"Eh, man! It's -my ain mither's name. Gie's a grup o' yer
han', Maister Sutherlan'. — Eh, man!" he repeated, shaking
Hugh's hand with vehemence.
"I have no doubt," said Hugh, relapsing into English, "that
we are some cousins or other. It's very lucky for me to find a
relative, for I wanted some — advice."
He took care to say advice, which a Scotchman is generally
prepared to bestow of his best. Had it been sixpence, the
cousinship would have required elaborate proof, before the
treaty could have made further progress.
"I'm fully at your service, sir."
"When will you be off duty?"
"At nine o'clock preceesely."
"Come to No. 13, — Square, and ask for me. It's not far."
"Wi' pleesir, sir, 'gin 'twar twise as far."
Hugh would not have ventured to ask him to his house on
Sunday night, when no refreshments could be procured, had he
not remembered a small pig (Anglicé stone bottle) of real mountain
dew, which he had carried with him when he went to
Arnstead, and which had lain unopened in one of his boxes.
Miss Talbot received her lodger with more show of pleasure
than usual, for he came lapped in the odour of the deacon's
sanctity. But she was considerably alarmed and beyond measure
shocked when the policeman called and requested to see him.
Sally had rushed in to her mistress in dismay.
"Please'm, there's a pleaceman wants Mr. Sutherland. Oh!
lor'm!"
"Well, go and let Mr. Sutherland know, you stupid girl,"
answered her mistress, trembling.
"Oh! lor'm!" was all Sally's reply, as she vanished to bear
the awful tidings to Hugh.
"He can't have been housebreaking already," said Miss Talbot
to herself, as she confessed afterwards. "But it may be forgery
or embezzlement. I told the poor deluded young man that the
way of transgressors was hard."
"Please, sir, you're wanted, sir," said Sally, out of breath, and
pale as her Sunday apron.
"Who wants me?" asked Hugh.
"Please, sir, the pleaceman, sir," answered Sally, and burst
into tears.
Hugh was perfectly bewildered by the girl's behaviour, and
said in a tone of surprise:
"Well, show him up, then."
"Ooh! sir," said Sally, with a Plutonic sigh, and began to undo
the hooks of her dress; "if you wouldn't mind, sir, just put on
my frock and apron, and take a jug in your hand, an' the
pleaceman'll never look at you. I'll take care of everything
till you come back, sir." And again she burst into tears.
Sally was a great reader of the Family Herald, and knew that
this was an orthodox plan of rescuing a prisoner. The kindness
of her anxiety moderated the expression of Hugh's amusement;
and having convinced her that he was in no danger, he easily
prevailed upon her to bring the policeman upstairs.
Over a tumbler of toddy, the weaker ingredients of which
were procured by Sally's glad connivance, with a lingering idea
of propitiation, and a gentle hint that Missus mustn't know —
the two Scotchmen, seated at opposite corners of the fire, had a
long chat. They began about the old country, and the places
and people they both knew, and both didn't know. If they had
met on the shores of the central lake of Africa, they could scarcely
have been more couthy together. At length Hugh referred to the
object of his application to MacPherson.
"What plan would you have me pursue, John, to get hold of
a man in London?"
"I could manage that for ye, sir. I ken maist the haill
mengie o' the detaictives."
"But you see, unfortunately, I don't wish, for particular
reasons, that the police should have anything to do with it."
"Ay! ay! Hm! Hm! I see brawly. Ye'll be efter a
stray sheep, nae doot?"
Hugh did not reply; so leaving him to form any conclusion
he pleased.
"Ye see," MacPherson continued, "it's no that easy to a body
that's no up to the trade. Hae ye ony clue like, to set ye
spierin' upo'?"
"Not the least."
The man pondered a while.
"I hae't," he exclaimed at last. "What a fule I was no to
think o' that afore! Gin't be a pair bit yow-lammie like, 'at
ye're efter, tell ye what: there's ae man, a countryman o'
our ain, an' a gentleman forbye, that'll do mair for ye in that
way, nor a' the detaictives thegither; an' that's Robert Falconer,
Esquire. — I ken him weel."
"But I don't," said Hugh.
"But I'll introduce ye till 'im. He bides close at han' here;
roun' twa corners jist. An' I'm thinkin' he'll be at hame the
noo; for I saw him gaein that get, afore ye cam' up to me.
An' the suner we gang, the better; for he's no aye to be gotten
haud o'. Fegs! he may be in Shoreditch or this."
"But will he not consider it an intrusion?"
"Na, na; there's no fear o' that. He's ony man's an' ilka
woman's freen — so be he can do them a guid turn; but he's no
for drinkin' and daffin' an' that. Come awa', Maister Sutherlan',
he's yer verra man."
Thus urged, Hugh rose and accompanied the policeman. He
took him round rather more than two corners; but within five
minutes they stood at Mr. Falconer's door. John rang. The
door opened without visible service, and they ascended to the
first floor, which was enclosed something after the Scotch fashion.
Here a respectable looking woman awaited their ascent.
"Is Mr. Falconer at hom', mem?" said Hugh's guide.
"He is; but I think he's just going out again."
"Will ye tell him, mem, 'at hoo John MacPherson, the policeman,
would like sair to see him?"
"I will," she answered; and went in, leaving them at the
door.
She returned in a moment, and, inviting them to enter,
ushered them into a large bare room, in which there was just
light enough for Hugh to recognize, to his astonishment, the
unmistakeable figure of the man whom he had met in Whitechapel,
and whom he had afterwards seen apparently watching
him from the gallery of the Olympic Theatre.
"How are you, MacPherson?" said a deep powerful voice,
out of the gloom.
"Verra weel, I thank ye, Mr. Falconer. Hoo are ye yersel',
sir?"
"Very well too, thank you. Who is with you?"
"It's a gentleman, sir, by the name o' Mr. Sutherlan', wha
wants your help, sir, about somebody or ither 'at he's enteresstit
in, wha's disappeared."
Falconer advanced, and, bowing to Hugh, said, very graciously:
"I shall be most happy to serve Mr. Sutherland, if in my
power. Our friend MacPherson has rather too exalted an idea
of my capabilities, however."
"Weel, Maister Falconer, I only jist spier at yersel', whether
or no ye was ever dung wi' onything ye took in han'."
Falconer made no reply to this. There was the story of a,
whole life in his silence — past and to come.
He merely said:
"You can leave the gentleman with me, then, John. I'll
take care of him."
"No fear o' that, sir. Deil a bit! though a' the policemen
i' Lonnon war efter 'im."
"I'm much obliged to you for bringing him."
"The obligation's mine, sir — an' the gentleman's. Good
nicht, sir. Good nicht, Mr. Sutherlan'. Ye'll ken whaur to fin'
me gin ye want me. Yon's my beat for anither fortnicht."
"And you know my quarters," said Hugh, shaking him by
the hand. "I am greatly obliged to you."
"Not a bit, sir. Or gin ye war, ye sud be hertily welcome."
"Bring candles, Mrs. Ashton," Falconer called from the door.
Then, turning to Hugh, "Sit down, Mr. Sutherland," he said,
"if you can find a chair that is not illegally occupied already.
Perhaps we had better wait for the candles. What a pleasant
day we have had!"
"Then you have been more pleasantly occupied than I
have," thought Hugh, to whose mind returned the images of
the Appleditch family and its drawing-room, followed by the
anticipation of the distasteful duties of the morrow. But he
only said:
"It has been a most pleasant day."
"I spent it strangely," said Falconer.
Here the candles were brought in.
The two men looked at each other full in the face. Hugh saw
that he had not been in error. The same remarkable countenance
was before him. Falconer smiled.
"We have met before," said he.
"We have," said Hugh.
"I had a conviction we should be better acquainted, but I
did not expect it so soon."
"Are you a clairvoyant, then?"
"Not in the least."
"Or, perhaps, being a Scotchman, you have the second
sight?"
"I am hardly Celt enough for that. But I am a sort of a
seer, after all — from an instinct of the spiritual relations of
things, I hope; not in the least from the nervo-material
side."
"I think I understand you."
"Are you at leisure?"
"Entirely."
"Had we not better walk, then? I have to go as far as
Somers Town — no great way; and we can talk as well walking
as sitting."
"With pleasure," answered Hugh, rising.
"Will you take anything before you go? A glass of port?
It is the only wine I happen to have."
"Not a drop, thank you. I seldom taste anything stronger
than water."
"I like that. But I like a glass of port too. Come then."
And Falconer rose — and a great rising it was; for, as I have
said, he was two or three inches taller than Hugh, and much
broader across the shoulders; and Hugh was no stripling now.
He could not help thinking again of his old friend, David
Elginbrod, to whom he had to look up to find the living eyes of
him, just as now he looked up to find Falconer's. But there
was a great difference between those organs in the two men.
David's had been of an ordinary size, pure keen blue, sparkling
out of cerulean depths of peace and hope, full of lambent gleams
when he was loving any one, and ever ready to be dimmed with
the mists of rising emotion. All that Hugh could yet discover of
Falconer's eyes was, that they were large, and black as night,
and set so far back in his head, that each gleamed out of its
caverned arch like the reversed torch of the Greek Genius of
Death, just before going out in night Either the frontal
sinus was very large, or his observant faculties were peculiarly
developed.
They went out, and walked for some distance in silence.
Hugh ventured to say at length:
"You said you had spent the day strangely: may I ask
how?"
"In a condemned cell in Newgate," answered Falconer. "I
am not in the habit of going to such places, but the man
wanted to see me, and I went."
As Falconer said no more, and as Hugh was afraid of showing
anything like vulgar curiosity, this thread of conversation
broke. Nothing worth recording passed until they entered a
narrow court in Somers Town.
"Are you afraid of infection?" Falconer said.
"Not in the least, if there be any reason for exposing myself
to it."
"That is right. — And I need not ask if you are in good
health."
"I am in perfect health."
"Then I need not mind asking you to wait for me till I come
out of this house. There is typhus in it."
"I will wait with pleasure. I will go with you if I can be of
any use."
"There is no occasion. It is not your business this time."
So saying, Falconer opened the door, and walked in.
Said Hugh to himself: "I must tell this man the whole
story; and with it all my own."
In a few minutes Falconer rejoined him, looking solemn, but
with a kind of relieved expression on his face.
"The poor fellow is gone," said he.
"Ah!"
"What a thing it must be, Mr. Sutherland, for a man to
break out of the choke-damp of a typhus fever into the clear air
of the life beyond!"
"Yes," said Hugh; adding, after a slight hesitation, "if he
be at all prepared for the change."
"Where a change belongs to the natural order of things,"
said Falconer, "and arrives inevitably at some hour, there must
always be more or less preparedness for it. Besides, I think a
man is generally prepared for a breath of fresh air."
Hugh did not reply, for he felt that he did not fully comprehend
his new acquaintance. But he had a strong suspicion
that it was because he moved in a higher region than himself.
"If you will still accompany me," resumed Falconer, who
had not yet adverted to Hugh's object in seeking his acquaintance,
"you will, I think, be soon compelled to believe that, at
whatever time death may arrive, or in whatever condition the
man may be at the time, it comes as the best and only good
that can at that moment reach him. We are, perhaps, too
much in the habit of thinking of death as the culmination of
disease, which, regarded only in itself, is an evil, and a terrible
evil. But I think rather of death as the first pulse of the new
strength, shaking itself free from the old mouldy remnants of
earth-garments, that it may begin in freedom the new life that
grows out of the old. The caterpillar dies into the butterfly.
Who knows but disease may be the coming, the keener life,
breaking into this, and beginning to destroy like fire the inferior
modes or garments of the present? And then disease
would be but the sign of the salvation of fire; of the agony of
the greater life to lift us to itself, out of that wherein we are
failing and sinning. And so we praise the consuming fire of life."
"But surely all cannot fare alike in the new life."
"Far from it. According to the condition. But what would
be hell to one, will be quietness, and hope, and progress to
another; because he has left worse behind him, and in this the
life asserts itself, and is. — But perhaps you are not interested
in such subjects, Mr. Sutherland, and I weary you."
"If I have not been interested in them hitherto, I am ready
to become so now. Let me go with you."
"With pleasure."
As I have attempted to tell a great deal about Robert Falconer
and his pursuits elsewhere, I will not here relate the particulars
of their walk through some of the most wretched parts
of London. Suffice it to say that, if Hugh, as he walked home,
was not yet prepared to receive and understand the half of what
Falconer had said about death, and had not yet that faith in
God that gives as perfect a peace for the future of our brothers
and sisters, who, alas! have as yet been fed with husks, as for
that of ourselves, who have eaten bread of the finest of the
wheat, and have been but a little thankful, — he yet felt at least
that it was a blessed thing that these men and women would all
die — must all die. That spectre from which men shrink, as if
it would take from them the last shivering remnant of existence,
he turned to for some consolation even for them. He was prepared
to believe that they could not be going to worse in the
end, though some of the rich and respectable and educated
might have to receive their evil things first in the other world;
and he was ready to understand that great saying of Schiller —
full of a faith evident enough to him who can look far enough
into the saying:
"Death cannot be an evil, for it is universal."
CHAPTER VIII.
EUPHRA.
Samson. O that torment should not be confined
To the body's wounds and sores,
But must secret passage find
To the inmost mind.
Dire inflammation, which no cooling herb
Or medicinal liquor can asswage,
Nor breath of vernal air from snowy Alp.
Sleep hath forsook and given me o'er
To death's benumming opium as my only cure,
Thence faintings, swoonings of despair,
And sense of heaven's desertion.
MILTON. — Samson Agonistes.
HITHERTO I have chiefly followed the history of my hero, if
hero in any sense he can yet be called. Now I must leave him
for a while, and take up the story of the rest of the few persons
concerned in my tale.
Lady Emily had gone to Madeira, and Mr. Arnold had followed.
Mrs. Elton and Harry, and Margaret, of course, had
gone to London. Euphra was left alone at Arnstead.
A great alteration had taken place in this strange girl. The
servants were positively afraid of her now, from the butler
down to the kitchen-maid. She used to go into violent fits of
passion, in which the mere flash of her eyes was overpowering.
These outbreaks would be followed almost instantaneously by
seasons of the deepest dejection, in which she would confine
herself to her room for hours, or, lame as she was, wander
about the house and the Ghost's Walk, herself pale as a ghost,
and looking meagre and wretched.
Also, she became subject to frequent fainting fits, the first of
which took place the night before Hugh's departure, after she
had returned to the house from her interview with him in the
Ghost's Walk. She was evidently miserable.
For this misery we know that there were very sufficient reasons,
without taking into account the fact that she had no one
to fascinate now. Her continued lameness, which her restlessness
aggravated, likewise gave her great cause for anxiety. But
I presume that, even during the early part of her confinement,
her mind had been thrown back upon itself, in that consciousness
which often arises in loneliness and suffering; and that
even then she had begun to feel that her own self was a worse
tyrant than the count, and made her a more wretched slave
than any exercise of his unlawful power could make her.
Some natures will endure an immense amount of misery before
they feel compelled- to look there for help, whence all help and
healing comes. They cannot believe that there is verily an
unseen mysterious power, till the world and all that is in it has
vanished in the smoke of despair; till cause and effect is nothing
to the intellect, and possible glories have faded from the
imagination; then, deprived of all that made life pleasant or
hopeful, the immortal essence, lonely and wretched and unable
to cease, looks up with its now unfettered and wakened instinct,
to the source of its own life — to the possible God who,
notwithstanding all the improbabilities of his existence, may yet
perhaps be, and may yet perhaps hear his wretched creature
that calls. In this loneliness of despair, life must find The
Life; for joy is gone, and life is all that is left: it is compelled
to seek its source, its root, its eternal life. This alone remains
as a possible thing. Strange condition of despair into which the
Spirit of God drives a man — a condition in which the Best alone
is the Possible!
Other simpler natures look up at once. Even before the first
pang has passed away, as by a holy instinct of celestial childhood,
they lift their eyes to the heavens whence cometh their
aid. Of this class Euphra was not. She belonged to the
former. And yet even she had begun to look upward, for the
waters had closed above her head. She betook herself to the
one man of whom she had heard as knowing about God. She
wrote, but no answer came. Days and days passed away, and
there was no reply.
"Ah! just so!" she said, in bitterness. "And if I cried to
God for ever, I should hear no word of reply. If he be, he sits
apart, and leaves the weak to be the prey of the bad. What
cares he?"
Yet, as she spoke, she rose, and, by a sudden impulse, threw
herself on the floor, and cried for the first time:
"O God, help me!"
Was there voice or hearing?
She rose at least with a little hope, and with the feeling that
if she could cry to him, it might be that he could listen to her.
It seemed natural to pray; it seemed to come of itself: that
could not be except it was first natural for God to hear. The
foundation of her own action must be in him who made her; for
her call could be only a response after all.
The time passed wearily by. Dim, slow November days came
on, with the fall of the last brown shred of those clouds of living
green that had floated betwixt earth and heaven. Through the
bare boughs of the overarching avenue of the Ghost's Walk,
themselves living skeletons, she could now look straight up to
the blue sky, which had been there all the time. And she had
begun to look up to a higher heaven, through the bare skeleton
shapes of life; for the foliage of joy had wholly vanished — shall
we say in order that the children of the spring might come? —
certainly in order first that the blue sky of a deeper peace
might reflect itself in the hitherto darkened waters of her
soul.
Perhaps some of my readers may think that she had enough
to repent of to keep her from weariness. She had plenty to
repent of, no doubt; but repentance, between the paroxysms of
its bitterness, is a very dreary and November-like state of the
spiritual weather. For its foggy mornings and cheerless noons
cannot believe in the sun of spring, soon to ripen into the sun
of summer; and its best time is the night, that shuts out the
world and weeps its fill of slow tears. But she was not altogether
so blameworthy as she may have appeared. Her affectations
had not been altogether false. She valued, and in a
measure possessed, the feelings for which she sought credit. She
had a genuine enjoyment of nature, though after a sensuous,
Keats-like fashion, not a Wordsworthian. It was the body,
rather than the soul, of nature that she loved — its beauty
rather than its truth. Had her love of nature been of the
deepest, she would have turned aside to conceal her emotions
rather than have held them up as allurements in the eyes of her
companion. But as no body and no beauty can exist without
soul and truth, she who loves the former must at least be
capable of loving the deeper essence to which they owe their
very existence.
This view of her character is borne out by her love of music
and her liking for Hugh. Both were genuine. Had the latter
been either more or less genuine than it was, the task of fascination
would have been more difficult, and its success less complete.
Whether her own feelings became further involved than
she had calculated upon, I cannot tell; but surely it says something
for her, in any case, that she desired to retain Hugh
as her friend, instead of hating him because he had been her
lover.
How glad she would have been of Harry now! The days
crawled one after the other like weary snakes. She tried to
read the New Testament: it was to her like a mouldy chamber
of worm-eaten parchments, whose windows had not been opened
to the sun or the wind for centuries; and in which the dust of
the decaying leaves choked the few beams that found their way
through the age-blinded panes.
This state of things could not have lasted long; for Euphra
would have died. It lasted, however, until she felt that she
had been leading a false, worthless life; that she had been casting
from her every day the few remaining fragments of truth
and reality that yet kept her nature from falling in a heap of
helpless ruin; that she had never been a true friend to any
one; that she was of no value — fit for no one's admiration, no
one's love. She must leave her former self, like a dead body,
behind her, and rise into a purer air of life and reality, else she
would perish with that everlasting death which is the disease
and corruption of the soul itself.
To those who know anything of such experiences, it will not
be surprising that such feelings as these should be alternated
with fierce bursts of passion. The old self then started up with
feverish energy, and writhed for life. Never any one tried to
be better, without, for a time, seeming to himself, perhaps to
others, to be worse. For the suffering of the spirit weakens the
brain itself, and the whole physical nature groans under it;
while the energy spent in the effort to awake, and arise from the
dust, leaves the regions previously guarded by prudence naked
to the wild inroads of the sudden destroying impulses born of
suffering, self-sickness, and hatred. As in the delirious patient,
they would dash to the earth whatever comes first within reach,
as if the thing first perceived, and so (by perception alone)
brought into contact with the suffering, were the cause of all the
distress.
One day a letter arrived for her. She had had no letter from
any one for weeks. Yet, when she saw the direction, she flung
it from her. It was from Mrs. Elton, whom she disliked, because
she found her utterly uninteresting and very stupid.
Poor Mrs. Elton laid no claim to the contraries of these
epithets. But in proportion as she abjured thought, she claimed
speech, both by word of mouth and by letter. Why not?
There was nothing in it. She considered reason as an awful
enemy to the soul, and obnoxious to God, especially when
applied to find out what he means when he addresses us as reasonable
creatures. But speech? There was no harm in that.
Perhaps it was some latent conviction that this power of speech
was the chief distinction between herself and the lower animals,
that made her use it so freely, and at the same time open her
purse so liberally to the Hospital for Orphan Dogs and Cats.
Had it not been for her own dire necessity, the fact
that Mrs. Elton was religious would have been enough to
convince Euphra that there could not possibly be anything
in religion.
The letter lay unopened till next day — a fact easy to account
for, improbable as it may seem; for besides writing as largely
as she talked, and less amusingly because more correctly, Mrs.
Elton wrote such an indistinct though punctiliously neat hand,
that the reading of a letter of hers involved no small amount of
labour. But the sun shining out next morning, Euphra took
courage to read it, while drinking her coffee, although she could
not expect to make that ceremony more pleasant thereby. It
contained an invitation to visit Mrs. Elton at her house in —
Street, Hyde Park, with the assurance that, now that everything
was arranged, they had plenty of room for her. Mrs.
Elton was sure she must be lonely at Arnstead; and Mrs. Horton
could, no doubt, be trusted — and so on.
Had this letter arrived a few weeks earlier, Euphra would
have infused into her answer a skilful concoction of delicate
contempt; not for the amusement of knowing Mrs. Elton
would never discover a trace of it, but simply for a relief to her
own dislike. Now she would have written a plain letter, containing
as brief and as true an excuse as she could find, had it
not been, that, inclosed in Mrs. Elton's note she found another,
which ran thus:
"DEAR EUPHRA, — Do come and see us. I do not like London
at all without you. There are no happy days here like
those we had at Arnstead with Mr. Sutherland. Mrs. Elton
and Margaret are very kind to me. But I wish you would come.
Do, do, do. Please do.
"Your affectionate cousin,
"HARRY ARNOLD."
"The dear boy!" said Euphra, with a gush of pure and
grateful affection; "I will go and see him."
Harry had begun to work with his masters, and was doing
his best, which was very good. If his heart was not so much
in it as when he was studying with his big brother, he gained a
great benefit from the increase of exercise to his will, in the
doing of what was less pleasant. Ever since Hugh had given
his faculties a right direction, and aided him by healthful manly
sympathy, he had been making up for the period during which
childhood had been protracted into boyhood; and now he was
making rapid progress.
When Euphra arrived, Harry rushed to the hall to meet her.
She took him in her arms, and burst into tears. Her tears drew
forth his. He stroked her pale face, and said:
"Dear Euphra, how ill you look!"
"I shall soon be better now, Harry."
"I was afraid you did not love me, Euphra; but now I am
sure you do."
"Indeed I do. I am very sorry for everything that made you
think I did not love you."
"No, no. It was all my fancy. Now we shall be very
happy."
And so Harry was. And Euphra, through means of Harry,
began to gain a little of what is better than most kinds of happiness,
because it is nearest to the best happiness — I mean
peace. This foretaste of rest came to her from the devotedness
with which she now applied herself to aid the intellect, which
she had unconsciously repressed and stunted before. She took
Harry's books when he had gone to bed; and read over all his
lessons, that she might be able to assist him in preparing them;
venturing thus into some regions of labour into which ladies
are too seldom conducted by those who instruct them. This
produced in her quite new experiences. One of these was,
that in proportion as she laboured for Harry, hope grew for
herself. It was likewise of the greatest immediate benefit that
the intervals of thought, instead of lying vacant to melancholy,
or the vapours that sprung from the foregoing strife
of the spiritual elements, should be occupied by healthy mental
exercise.
Still, however, she was subject to great vicissitudes of feeling.
A kind of peevishness, to which she had formerly been a
stranger, was but too ready to appear, even when she was
most anxious, in her converse with Harry, to behave well to
him. But the pure forgiveness of the boy was wonderful. Instead
of plaguing himself to find out the cause of her behaviour,
or resenting it in the least, he only laboured, by increased attention
and submission, to remove it; and seemed perfectly satisfied
when it was followed by a kind word, which to him was
repentance, apology, amends, and betterment, all in one. When
he had thus driven away the evil spirit, there was Euphra her
own self. So perfectly did she see, and so thoroughly appreciate
this kindness and love of Harry, that he began to look to
her like an angel of forgiveness come to live a boy's life, that he
might do an angel's work.
Her health continued very poor. She suffered constantly
from more or less headache, and at times from faintings. But
she had not for some time discovered any signs of somnambulism.

Of this peculiarity her friends were entirely ignorant. The
occasions, indeed, on which it had manifested itself to an excessive
degree, had been but few.
CHAPTER IX.
THE NEW PUPILS.
Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
And do you tell me of a woman's tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear,
As will a chestnut in a farmer's fire?
Tush! tush! fear boys with bugs.
Taming of the Shrew.
DURING the whole of his first interview with Falconer, which
lasted so long that he had been glad to make a bed of Falconer's
sofa, Hugh never once referred to the object for which he had
accepted MacPherson's proffered introduction; nor did Falconer
ask him any questions. Hugh was too much interested and
saddened by the scenes through which Falconer led him, not to
shrink from speaking of anything less important; and with
Falconer it was a rule, a principle almost, never to expedite
utterance of any sort.
In the morning, feeling a little good-natured anxiety as to
his landlady's reception of him, Hugh made some allusion to it,
as he sat at his new friend's breakfast-table.
Falconer said:
"What is your landlady's name?"
"Miss Talbot."
"Oh! little Miss Talbot? You are in good quarters — too
good to lose, I can tell you. Just say to Miss Talbot that you
were with me."
"You know her, then?"
"Oh, yes."
"You seem to know everybody."
"If I have spoken to a person once, I never forget him."
"That seems to me very strange."
"It is simple enough. The secret of it is, that, as far as I can
help it, I never have any merely business relations with any one.
I try always not to forget that there is a deeper relation between
us. I commonly succeed worst in a drawing-room; yet even
there, for the time we are together, I try to recognise the
present humanity, however much distorted or concealed. The
consequence is, I never forget anybody; and I generally find
that others remember me — at least those with whom I have had
any real relations, springing from my need or from theirs. The
man who mends a broken chair for you, or a rent in your coat,
renders you a human service; and, in virtue of that, comes
nearer to your inner self, than nine-tenths of the ladies and
gentlemen whom you meet only in what is called society, are
likely to do."
"But do you not find it awkward sometimes?"
"Not in the least. I am never ashamed of knowing any
one; and as I never assume a familiarity that does not exist. I
never find it assumed towards me."
Hugh found the advantage of Falconer's sociology when
he mentioned to Miss Talbot that he had been his guest that
night.
"You should have sent us word, Mr. Sutherland," was all
Miss Talbot's reply.
"I could not do so before you must have been all in bed. I
was sorry, but I could hardly help it."
Miss Talbot turned away into the kitchen. The only other
indication of her feeling in the matter was, that she sent him
up a cup of delicious chocolate for his lunch, before he set out
for Mr. Appleditch's, where she had heard at the shop that he
was going.
My reader must not be left to fear that I am about to give a
detailed account of Hugh's plans with these unpleasant little
immortals, whose earthly nature sprang from a pair whose
religion consisted chiefly in negations, and whose main duty
seemed to be to make money in small sums, and spend it in
smaller. When he arrived at Buccleuch Crescent, he was shown
into the dining-room, into which the boys were separately
dragged, to receive the first instalment of the mental legacy left
them by their ancestors. But the legacy-duty was so heavy
that they would gladly have declined paying it, even with the
loss of the legacy itself; and Hugh was dismayed at the impossibility
of interesting them in anything. He tried telling them
stories even, without success. They stared at him, it is true;
but whether there was more speculation in the open mouths, or
in the fishy, overfed eyes, he found it impossible to determine.
He could not help feeling the riddle of Providence in regard to
the birth of these, much harder to read than that involved in
the case of some of the little thieves whose acquaintance he had
made, when with Falconer, the evening before. But he did
best; and before the time had expired — two hours, namely, —
he had found out, to his satisfaction, that the elder had a turn
for sums, and the younger for drawing. So he made use of
these predilections to bribe them to the exercise of their
intellect upon less-favoured branches of human accomplishment.
He found the plan operate as well as it could have been
expected to operate upon such material.
But one or two little incidents, relating to his intercourse
with Mrs. Appleditch, I must not omit. Though a mother's
love is more ready to purify itself than most other loves — yet
there is a class of mothers, whose love is only an extended,
scarcely an expanded, selfishness. Mrs. Appleditch did not in
the least love her children because they were children, and
children committed to her care by the Father of all children;
but she loved them dearly because they were her children.
One day Hugh gave Master Appleditch a smart slap across
the fingers, as the ultimate resource. The child screamed as he
well knew how. His mother burst into the room.
"Johnny, hold your tongue!"
"Teacher's been and hurt me."
"Hold your tongue, I say. My head's like to split. Get out
of the room, you little ruffian!"
She seized him by the shoulders, and turned him out, administering
a box on his ear that made the room ring. Then
turning to Hugh,
"Mr. Sutherland, how dare you strike my child?" she demanded.

"He required it, Mrs. Appleditch. I did him no harm. He
will mind what I say another time."
"I will not have him touched. It's disgraceful. To strike
a child!"
She belonged to that class of humane parents who consider it
cruel to inflict any corporal suffering upon children, except they
do it themselves, and in a passion. Johnnie behaved better
after this, however; and the only revenge Mrs. Appleditch
took for this interference with the dignity of her eldest born,
and, consequently, with her own as his mother, was, that — with
the view, probably, of impressing upon Hugh a due sense of the
menial position he occupied in her family — she always paid
him his fee of one shilling and sixpence every day before he
left the house. Once or twice she contrived accidentally that
the sixpence should be in coppers. Hugh was too much of a
philosopher, however, to mind this from such a woman. I am afraid
he rather enjoyed her spite; for he felt it did not touch him,
seeing could not be less honourable to be paid by the day
than by the quarter or by the year. Certainly the coppers
were an annoyance; but if the coppers could be carried, the
annoyance could be borne. The real disgust in the affair was,
that he had to meet and speak with a woman every day, for
whom he could feel nothing but contempt and aversion. Hugh
was not yet able to mingle with these feelings any of the leaven
of that charity which they need most of all who are contemptible
in the eyes of their fellows. Contempt is murder committed
by the intellect, as hatred is murder committed by the heart.
Charity having life in itself, is the opposite and destroyer of
contempt as well as of hatred.
After this, nothing went amiss for some time. But it was
very dreary work to teach such boys — for the younger came in
for the odd sixpence. Slow, stupid resistance appeared to be
the only principle of their behaviour towards him. They scorned
the man whom their mother despised and valued for the selfsame
reason, namely, that he was cheap. They would have
defied him had they dared, but he managed to establish an
authority over them — and to increase it. Still, he could not
rouse them to any real interest in their studies. Indeed, they
were as near being little beasts as it was possible for children
to be. Their eyes grew dull at a story-book, but greedily
bright at the sight of bull's eyes or toffee. It was the same
day after day, till he was sick of it. No doubt they made
some progress, but it was scarcely perceptible to him. Through
fog and fair, through frost and snow, through wind and rain, he
trudged to that wretched house. No one minds the weather —
no young Scotchman, at least — where any pleasure waits the
close of the struggle: to fight his way to misery was more than
he could well endure. But his deliverance was nearer than he
expected. It was not to come just yet, however.
All went on with frightful sameness, till sundry doubtful
symptoms of an alteration in the personal appearance of Hugh
having accumulated at last into a mass of evidence, forced the
conviction upon the mind of the grocer's wife, that her tutor
was actually growing a beard. Could she believe her eyes?
She said she could not. But she acted on their testimony notwithstanding;
and one day suddenly addressing Hugh, said, in
her usual cold, thin, cutting fashion of speech:
"Mr. Sutherland, I am astonished and grieved that you, a
teacher of babes, who should set an example to them, should
disguise yourself in such an outlandish figure."
"What do you mean, Mrs. Appleditch?" asked Hugh, who,
though he had made up his mind to follow the example of
Falconer, yet felt uncomfortable enough, during the transition
period, to know quite well what she meant.
"What do I mean, sir? It is a shame for a man to let his
beard grow like a monkey."
"But a monkey hasn't a beard," retorted Hugh, laughing.
"Man is the only animal who has one."
This assertion, if not quite correct, was approximately so, and
went much nearer the truth than Mrs. Appleditch's argument.
"It's no joking matter, Mr. Sutherland, with my two darlings
growing up to be ministers of the gospel."
"What! both of them?" thought Hugh. "Good heavens!"
But he said:
"Well, but you know, Mrs. Appleditch, the Apostles themselves
wore beards."
"Yes, when they were Jews. But who would have believed
them if they had preached the gospel like old clothesmen?
No, no, Mr. Sutherland, I see through all that. My own uncle
was a preacher of the word. — As soon as the Apostles became
Christians, they shaved. It was the sign of Christianity. The
Apostle Paul himself says that cleanliness is next to godliness."
Hugh restrained his laughter, and shifted his ground.
"But there is nothing dirty about them," he said.
"Not dirty? Now really, Mr. Sutherland, you provoke me.
Nothing dirty in long hair all round your mouth, and going
into it every spoonful you take?"
"But it can be kept properly trimmed, you know."
"But who's to trust you to do that? No, no, Mr. Sutherland;
you must not make a guy of yourself."
Hugh laughed, and said nothing. Of course his beard would
go on growing, for he could not help it.
So did Mrs. Appleditch's wrath.
CHAPTER X.
CONSULTATIONS.
Wo keine Götter sind, walten Gespenster.
NOVALIS. — Die Christenheit.
Where gods are not, spectres rule.
Ein Charakter ist ein vollkommen gebildeter Wille.
NOVALIS. — Moralische Ansichten.
A character is a perfectly formed will.
IT was not long before Hugh repeated his visit to Falconer.
He was not at home. He went again and again, but still failed
in finding him. The day after the third failure, however, he
received a note from Falconer, mentioning an hour at which he
would be at home on the following evening. Hugh went.
Falconer was waiting for him.
"I am very sorry. I am out so much," said Falconer.
"I ought to have taken the opportunity when I had it,"
replied Hugh. "I want to ask your help. May I begin at
the beginning, and tell you all the story? or must I epitomize
and curtail it?"
"Be as diffuse as you please. I shall understand the thing
the better."
So Hugh began, and told the whole of his history, in as far
as it bore upon the story of the crystal. He ended with the
words:
"I trust, Mr. Falconer, you will not think that it is from a
love of talking that I have said so much about this affair."
"Certainly not. It is a remarkable story. I will think
what can be done. Meantime I will keep my eyes and ears
open. I may find the fellow. Tell me what he is like."
Hugh gave as minute a description of the count as he could.
"I think I see the man," said Falconer. "I am pretty sure
I shall recognise him."
"Have you any idea what he could want with the ring?"
"It is one of the curious coincidences which are always happening,"
answered Falconer, "that a newspaper of this very
day would have enabled me, without any previous knowledge of
similar facts, to give a probably correct suggestion as to his
object. But you can judge for yourself."
So saying, Falconer went to a side-table, heaped up with
books and papers, maps, and instruments of various kinds, apparently
in triumphant confusion. Without a moment's hesitation,
notwithstanding, he selected the paper he wanted, and
handed it to Hugh, who read in it a letter to the editor, of
which the following is a portion:—
"I have for over thirty years been in the habit of investigating
the question by means of crystals. And since 18—, I
have possessed the celebrated crystal, once belonging to Lady
Blessington, in which very many persons, both children and
adults, have seen visions of the spirits of the deceased, or of
beings claiming to be such, and of numerous angels and other
beings of the spiritual world. These have in all cases supported
the purest and most liberal Christianity. The faculty of seeing
in the crystal I have found to exist in about one person in ten
among adults, and in nearly nine in every ten among children;
many of whom appear to lose the faculty as they grow to adult
age, unless they practise it continually."
"Is it possible," said Hugh, pausing, "that this can be a
veritable paper of to-day? Are there people to believe such
things?"
"There are more fools in the world, Mr. Sutherland, than
there are crystals in its mountains."
Hugh resumed his reading. He came at length to this
passage:
The spirits — which I feel certain they are — which appear,
do not hesitate to inform us on all possible subjects which may
tend to improve our morals, and confirm our faith in the
Christian doctrines. … The character they give of the
class of spirits who are in the habit of communicating with
mortals by rapping and such proceedings, is such that it behoves
all Christian people to be on their guard against error and
delusion through their means."
Hugh had read this passage aloud.
"Is not that a comfort, now, Mr. Sutherland?" said Falconer.
"For in all the reports which I have seen of the religious
instruction communicated in that highly articulate
manner, Calvinism, high and low, has predominated. I strongly
suspect the crystal phantoms of Arminianism, though. Fancy
the old disputes of infant Christendom perpetuated amongst
the paltry ghosts of another realm!"
"But," said Hugh, "I do not quite see how this is to help
me, as to the count's object in securing the ring; for certainly,
however deficient he may be in such knowledge, he is not likely
to have committed the theft for the sake of instruction in the
doctrine's of the sects.''
"No. But such a crystal might be put to other, not to say
better, uses. Besides, Lady Blessington's crystal might be a
pious crystal; and the other which belonged to Lady —"
"Lady Euphrasia."
"To Lady Euphrasia, might be a worldly crystal altogether.
This might reveal demons and their counsels, while that was
haunted by theological angels and evangelical ghosts."
"Ah! I see. I should have thought, however, that the
count had been too much of a man of the world to believe such
things."
"He might find his account in it, notwithstanding. But no
amount of world-wisdom can set a man above the inroads of
superstition. In fact, there is but one thing that can free a man
from superstition, and that is belief. All history proves it. The
most sceptical have ever been the most credulous. This is one
of the best arguments for the existence of something to
believe."
"You remind me of a passage in my story which I omitted,
as irrelevant to the matter in hand."
"Do let me have it. It cannot fail to interest me."
Hugh gave a complete account of the experiments they had
made with the careering plate. Now the writing of the name
of David Elginbrod was the most remarkable phenomenon of the
whole, and Hugh was compelled, in responding to the natural
interest of Falconer, to give a description of David. This led
to a sketch of his own sojourn at Turriepuffit; in which the
character of David came out far more plainly than it could have
come out in any description. When he had finished, Falconer
broke out, as if he had been hitherto restraining his wrath with
difficulty:
"And that was the man the creatures dared to personate! I
hate the whole thing, Sutherland. It is full of impudence and
irreverence. Perhaps the wretched beings may want another
thousand years' damnation, because of the injury done to their
character by the homage of men who ought to know better."
"I do not quite understand you."
"I mean, that you ought to believe as easily that such a
man as you describe is laughing with the devil and his angels,
as that he wrote a copy at the order of a charlatan, or worse."
"But it could hardly be deception."
"Not deception? A man like him could not get through
them without being recognised."
"I don't understand you. By whom?"
"By swarms of low miserable creatures that so lament the
loss of their beggarly bodies that they would brood upon them
in the shape of flesh-flies, rather than forsake the putrifying
remnants. After that, chair or table or anything that they can
come into contact with, possesses quite sufficient organization for
such. Don't you remember that once, rather than have no
body to go into, they crept into the very swine? There was a
fine passion for self-embodiment and sympathy! But the swine
themselves could not stand it, and preferred drowning."
"Then you do think there was something supernatural in it?"
"Nothing in the least. It required no supernatural powers
to be aware that a great man was dead, and that you had known
him well. It annoys me, Sutherland, that able men, ay, and
good men too, should consult with ghosts whose only possible
superiority consists in their being out of the body. Why should
they be the wiser for that? I should as soon expect to gain
wisdom by taking off my clothes, and to lose it by getting into
bed; or to rise into the seventh heaven of spirituality by having
my hair cut. An impudent forgery of that good man's name! If
I were you, Sutherland, I would have nothing to do with such
a low set. They are the canaille of the other world. It's of no
use to lay hold on their skirts, for they can't fly. They're just
like the vultures — easy to catch, because they're full of garbage.
I doubt if they have more intellect left than just enough
to lie with. — I have been compelled to think a good deal about
these things of late."
Falconer put a good many questions to Hugh, about Euphra
and her relation to the count; and such was the confidence
with which he had inspired him, that Hugh felt at perfect liberty
to answer them all fully, not avoiding even the exposure of his
own feelings, where that was involved by the story.
"Now," said Falconer, "I have material out of which to
construct a theory. The count is at present like a law of nature
concerning which a prudent question is the first half of the
answer, as Lord Bacon says; and you can put no question
without having first formed a theory, however slight or temporary;
for otherwise no question will suggest itself. But, in the
meantime, as I said before, I will make inquiry upon the theory
that he is somewhere in London, although I doubt it."
"Then I will not occupy your time any longer at present,"
said Hugh. "Could you say, without fettering yourself in the
least, when I might be able to see you again?"
"Let me see. I will make an appointment with you. — Next
Sunday; here; at ten o'clock in the morning. Make a note
of it."
"There is no fear of my forgetting it. My consolations are
not so numerous that I can afford to forget my sole pleasure.
You, I should think, have more need to make a note of it than
I, though I am quite willing to be forgotten, if necessary."
"I never forget my engagements," said Falconer.
They parted, and Hugh went home to his novel.
CHAPTER XI.
QUESTIONS AND DREAMS.
On a certain time the Lady St. Mary had commanded the Lord Jesus
to fetch her some water out of the well. And when he had gone to fetch
the water, the pitcher, when it was brought up full, brake. But Jesus,
spreading his mantle, gathered up the water again, and brought it in that
to his mother. — The First (apocryphal) Gospel of the INFANCY of JESUS
CHRIST.
MRS. ELTON read prayers morning and evening; — very elaborate
compositions, which would have instructed the apostles
themselves in many things they had never anticipated. But,
unfortunately, Mrs. Elton must likewise read certain remarks,
in the form of a homily, intended to impress the scripture which
preceded it upon the minds of the listeners. Between the
mortar of the homilist's faith, and the dull blows of the pestle
of his arrogance, the fair form of truth was ground into the
powder of pious small talk. This result was not pleasant either
to Harry or to Euphra. Euphra, with her life threatening to
go to ruin about her, was crying out for him who made the soul
of man, "who loved us into being," * and who alone can renew
the life of his children; and in such words as those a scoffing
demon seemed to mock at her needs. Harry had the natural
dislike of all childlike natures to everything formal, exclusive,
and unjust. But, having received nothing of what is commonly
called a religious training, this advantage resulted from his new
experiences in Mrs. Elton's family, that a good direction was
given to his thoughts by the dislike which he felt to such utterances.
More than this: a horror fell upon him lest these
things should be true; lest the mighty All of nature should be
only a mechanism, without expression and without beauty; lest
the God who made us should be like us only in this, that he too
was selfish and mean and proud; lest his ideas should resemble
those that inhabit the brain of a retired money-maker, or of an
arbitrary monarch claiming a divine right — instead of towering,
* Goldsmith; twice, in the Citizen, of the World.
as the heavens over the earth, above the loftiest moods of highest
poet, most generous child, or most devoted mother. I do not
mean that these thoughts took these shapes in Harry's mind;
but that his feelings were such as might have been condensed
into such thoughts, had his intellect been more mature.
One morning, the passage of scripture which Mrs. Elton read
was the story of the young man who came to Jesus, and went
away sorrowful, because the Lord thought so well of him, and
loved him so heartily, that he wanted to set him free from his
riches. A great portion of the homily was occupied with proving
that the evangelist could not possibly mean that Jesus loved the
young man in any pregnant sense of the word; but merely
meant that Jesus "felt kindly disposed towards him" — felt a
poor little human interest in him, in fact, and did not love him
divinely at all.
Harry's face was in a flame all the time she was reading.
When the service was over — and a bond service it was for
Euphra and him — they left the room together. As soon as the
door was shut, he burst out:
"I say, Euphra! Wasn't that a shame? They would have
Jesus as bad as themselves. We shall have somebody writing a
book next to prove that after all Jesus was a Pharisee."
"Never mind," said the heart-sore, sceptical Euphra; "never
mind, Harry; it's all nonsense."
"No, it's not all nonsense. Jesus did love the young man.
I believe the story itself before all the Doctors of Divinity in the
world. He loves all of us, he does — with all his heart, too."
"I hope so," was all she could reply; but she was comforted
by Harry's vehement confession of faith.
Euphra was so far softened, or perhaps weakened, by suffering,
that she yielded many things which would have seemed impossible
before. One of these was that she went to church with
Mrs. Elton, where that lady hoped she would get good to her
soul. Harry of course was not left behind. The church she
frequented was a fashionable one, with a vicar more fashionable
still; for had he left that church, more than half his congregation,
which consisted mostly of ladies, would have left it also,
and followed him to the ends of London. He was a middle--
aged man, with a rubicund countenance, and a gentle familiarity
of manner, that was exceedingly pleasing to the fashionable
sheep who, conscious that they had wandered from the fold,
were waiting with exemplary patience for the barouches and
mail-phaetons of the skies to carry them back without the
trouble of walking. Alas for them! they have to learn that the
chariots of heaven are chariots of fire.
The Sunday morning following the conversation I have just
recorded, the clergyman's sermon was devoted to the illustration
of the greatness and condescension of the Saviour. After a
certain amount of tame excitement expended upon the consideration
of his power and kingdom, one passage was wound up in
this fashion:
"Yes, my friends, even her most gracious Majesty, Queen
Victoria, the ruler over millions diverse in speech and in hue, to
whom we all look up with humble submission, and whom we
acknowledge as our sovereign lady — even she, great as she is,
adds by her homage a jewel to his crown; and, hailing him as
her Lord, bows and renders him worship! Yet this is he who
comes down to visit, yea, dwells with his own elect, his chosen
ones, whom he has led back to the fold of his grace."
For some reason, known to himself, Falconer had taken Hugh,
who had gone to him according to appointment that morning,
to this same church. As they came out, Hugh said:
"Mr. — is quite proud of the honour done his master by
the queen."
"I do not think," answered Falconer, "that his master will
think so much of it; for he once had his feet washed by a
woman that was a sinner."
The homily which Mrs. Elton read at prayers that evening,
bore upon the same subject nominally as the chapter that preceded
it — that of election; a doctrine which in the Bible asserts
the fact of God's choosing certain persons for the specific purpose
of receiving first, and so communicating the gifts of his
grace to the whole world; but which, in the homily referred to,
was taken to mean the choice of certain persons for ultimate
salvation, to the exclusion of the rest. They were sitting in
silence after the close, when Harry started up suddenly, saying:
"I don't want God to love me, if he does not love everybody;"
and, bursting into tears, hurried out of the room. Mrs. Elton
was awfully shocked at his wickedness. Euphra hastened after
him; but he would not return, and went supperless to bed.
Euphra, however, carried him some supper. He sat up in bed
and ate it with the tears in his eyes. She kissed him, and bade
him good night; when, just as she was leaving the room, he
broke out with:
"But only think, Euphra, if it should be true! I would
rather not have been made."
"It is not true," Euphra, in whom a faint glimmer of
faith in God awoke for the sake of the boy whom she loved —
awoke to comfort him, when it would not open its eyes for herself.
"No, Harry dear, if there is a God at all, he is not like that."
"No, he can't be," said Harry, vehemently, and with the
brightness of a sudden thought; "for if he were like that, he
wouldn't be a God worth being; and that couldn't be, you know."
Euphra knelt by her bedside, and prayed more hopefully
than for many days before. She prayed that God would let her
know that he was not an idol of man's invention.
Till friendly sleep came, and untied the knot of care, both
Euphra and Harry lay troubled with things too great for them.
Even in their sleep, the care would gather again, and body itself
into dreams. The first thought that visited Harry when he
awoke, was the memory of his dream: that he died and went to
heaven; that heaven was a great church just like the one Mrs.
Elton went to, only larger; that the pews were filled with
angels, so crowded together that they had to tuck up their wings
very close indeed — and Harry could not help wondering what
they wanted them for; that they were all singing psalms; that
the pulpit by a little change had been converted into a throne,
on which sat God the Father, looking very solemn and severe;
that Jesus was seated in the reading-desk, looking very sad;
and that the Holy Ghost sat on the clerk's desk, in the shape of
a white dove; that a cherub, whose face reminded him very
much of a policeman he knew, took him by the shoulder for
trying to pluck a splendid green feather out of an archangel's
wing, and led him up to the throne, where God shook his head
at him in such a dreadful way, that he was terrified, and then
stretched out his hand to lay hold on him; that he shrieked
with fear; and that Jesus put out his hand and lifted him into
the reading-desk, and hid him down below. And there Harry
lay, feeling so safe, stroking and kissing the feet that had been
weary and wounded for him, till, in the growing delight of the
thought that he actually held those feet, he came awake and
remembered it all. Truly it was a childish dream, but not
without its own significance. For surely the only refuge from
heathenish representations of God under Christian forms, the
only refuge from man's blinding and paralysing theories, from
the dead wooden shapes substituted for the living forms of
human love and hope and aspiration, from the interpretations
which render scripture as dry as a speech in Chancery — surely
the one refuge from all these awful evils is the Son of man; for
no misrepresentation and no misconception can destroy the
beauty of that face which the marring of sorrow has elevated
into the region of reality, beyond the marring of irreverent
speculation and scholastic definition. From the God of man's
painting, we turn to the man of God's being, and he leads us to
the true God, the radiation of whose glory we first see in him.
Happy is that man who has a glimpse of this, even in a dream
such as Harry's! — a dream in other respects childish and incongruous,
but not more absurd than the instruction whence it
sprung.
But the troubles returned with the day. Prayers revived
them. He sought Euphra in her room.
"They say I must repent and be sorry for my sins," said he.
"I have been trying very hard; but I can't think of any,
except once that I gave Gog" (his Welsh pony) "such a beating
because he would go where I didn't want him. But he's forgotten
it long ago and I gave him two feeds of corn after it,
and so somehow I can't feel very sorry now. What shall I do?
— But that's not what I mind most. It always seems to me it
would be so much grander of God to say: 'Come along, never
mind. I'll make you good. I can't wait till you are good; I
love you so much.'"
His own words were too much for Harry, and he burst into
tears at the thought of God being so kind. Euphra, instead of
trying to comfort him, cried too. Thus they continued for some
time, Harry with his head on her knees, and she kindly fondling
it with her distressed hands. Harry was the first to recover;
for his was the April time, when rain clears the heavens. All
at once he sprung to his feet, and exclaimed:
"Only think, Euphra! What if, after all, I should find out
that God is as kind as you are!"
How Euphra's heart smote her!
"Dear Harry," answered she, "God must be a great deal
kinder than I am. I have not been kind to you at all."
"Don't say that, Euphra. I shall be quite content if God is
as kind as you."
"Oh, Harry! I hope God is like what I dreamed about my
mother last night."
"Tell me what you dreamed about her, dear Euphra."
"I dreamed that I was a little child —"
"Were you a little girl when your mother died?"
"Oh, yes; such a tiny! But I can just remember her."
"Tell me your dream, then."
"I dreamed that I was a little girl, out all alone on a wild
mountain-moor, tripping and stumbling on my night-gown.
And the wind was so cold! And, somehow or other, the wind
was an enemy to me, and it followed and caught me, and whirled
and tossed me about, and then ran away again. Then I hastened
on, and the thorns went into my feet, and the stones cut them.
And I heard the blood from them trickling down the hill-side as
I walked."
"Then they would be like the feet I saw in my dream last
night."
"Whose feet were they?"
"Jesus' feet."
"Tell me about it."
"You must finish yours first, please, Euphra."
So Euphra went on:
"I got dreadfully lame. And the wind ran after me, and
caught me again, and took me in his great blue ghostly
arms, and shook me about, and then dropped me again to
go on. But it was very hard to go on, and I couldn't stop; and
there was no use in stopping, for the wind was everywhere
in a moment. Then suddenly I saw before me a great cataract,
all in white, falling flash from a precipice; and I thought
with myself, 'I will go into the cataract, and it will beat
my life out, and then the wind will not get me any more.'
So I hastened towards it, but the wind caught me many times
before I got near it. At last I reached it, and threw myself
down into the basin it had hollowed out of the rocks. But as
I was falling, something caught me gently, and held me fast,
and it was not the wind. I opened my eyes, and behold! I was
in my mother's arms, and she was clasping me to her breast;
for what I had taken for a cataract falling into a gulf, was only
my mother, with her white grave-clothes floating all about her,
standing up in her grave, to look after me. 'It was time you
came home, my darling,' she said, and stooped down into her
grave with me in her arms. And oh! I was so happy; and her
bosom was not cold, or her arms hard, and she carried me just
like a baby. And when she stooped down, then a door opened,
somewhere in the grave, I could not find out where exactly — and
in a moment after, we were sitting together in a summer grove,
with the tree-tops steeped in sunshine, and waving about in a quiet
loving wind — oh, how different from the one that chased me
home! — and we underneath in the shadow of the trees. And
then I said, 'Mother, I've hurt my feet.'"
"Did you call her mother when you were a little girl?" interposed
Harry.
"No," answered Euphra. "I called her mamma, like other
children; but in my dreams I always call her mother."
"And what did she say?"
"She said — 'Poor child!' — and held my feet to her bosom;
and after that, when I looked at them, the bleeding was all
gone, and I was not lame any more."
Euphra paused with a sigh.
"Oh, Harry! I do not like to be lame."
"What more?" said Harry, intent only on the dream.
"Oh! then I was so happy, that I woke up directly."
"What a pity! But if it should come true?"
"How could it come true, dear Harry?"
"Why, this world is sometimes cold, and the road is hard —
you know what I mean, Euphra."
"Yes, I do."
"I wish I could dream dreams like that! How clever you
must be!"
"But you dream dreams, too, Harry. Tell me yours."
"Oh, no, I never dream dreams; the dreams dream me,"
answered Harry, with a smile.
Then he told his dream, to which Euphra listened with an
interest uninjured by the grotesqueness of its fancy. Each interpreted
the other's with reverence.
They ceased talking; and sat silent for a while. Then Harry,
putting his arms round Euphra's neck, and his lips close to her
ear, whispered:
"Perhaps God will say my darling to you some day, Euphra;
just as your mother did in your dream."
She was silent. Harry looked round into her face, and saw
that the tears were flowing fast.
At that instant, gentle gentle knock came to the door. Euphra
could not reply to it. It was repeated. After another moment's
delay, the door opened, and Margaret walked in.
CHAPTER XII.
A SUNDAY WITH FALCONER.
How happy is he born and taught,
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill.
This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise or fear to fall:
Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And, having nothing, yet hath all.
SIR HENRY WOTTON.
IT was not often that Falconer went to church; but he
seemed to have some design in going oftener than usual at
present. The Sunday after the one last mentioned, he went as
well, though not to the same church, and calling for Hugh took
him with him. What they found there, and the conversation
following thereupon, I will try to relate, because, although they
do not immediately affect my outward story, they greatly influenced
Hugh's real history.
They heard the Morning Service and the Litany read in an
ordinary manner, though somewhat more devoutly than usual.
Then, from the communion-table, rose a voice vibrating with
solemn emotion, like the voice of Abraham pleading for Sodom.
It thrilled through Hugh's heart. The sermon which followed
affected him no less, although, when he came out, he confessed
to Falconer that he had only caught flying glimpses of its meaning,
scope, and drift.
,"I seldom go to church," said Falconer; "but when I do, I
come here: and always feel that I am in the presence of one of
the holy servants of God's great temple not made with hands.
I heartily trust that man. He is what he seems to be."
"They say he is awfully heterodox."
"They do."
"How then can he remain in the church, if he is as honest as
you say?"
"In this way, as I humbly venture to think," Falconer answered.
"He looks upon the formulæ of the church as utterances
of living truth — vital embodiments — to be regarded as
one ought to regard human faces. In these human faces, others
may see this or that inferior expression, may find out the mean
and the small and the incomplete: he looks for and finds the
ideal; the grand, sacred, God-meant meaning; and by that he
holds as the meaning of the human countenances, for it is the
meaning of him who made them. So with the confession of the
Church of England: he believes that not man only, but God
also, and God first and chief, had to do with the making of it;
and therefore he looks in it for the Eternal and the Divine, and
he finds what he seeks. And as no words can avoid bearing in
them the possibility of a variety of interpretations, he would
exclude whatever the words might mean, or, regarded merely as
words, do mean, in a narrow exposition: he thinks it would be
dishonest to take the low meaning as the meaning. To return
to the faces: he passes by moods and tempers, and beholds the
main character — that on whose surface the temporal and transient
floats. Both in faces and in formulæ he loves the divine
substance, with his true, manly, brave heart; and as for the
faults in both — for man, too, has his share in both — I believe
he is ready to die by them, if only in so doing he might die for
them. — I had a vision of him this morning as I sat and listened
to his voice, which always seems to me to come immediately
from his heart, as if his heart spoke with lips of its own. Shall
I tell you my vision?—
"I saw a crowd — priests and laymen — speeding, hurrying,
darting away, up a steep, crumbling height. Mitres, hoods, and
hats rolled behind them to the bottom. Every one for himself,
with hands and feet they scramble and flee, to save their souls
from the fires of hell which come rolling in along the hollow
below with the forward 'pointing spires' of billowy flame. But
beneath, right in the course of the fire, stands one man upon a
little rock which goes down to the centre of the great world, and
faces the approaching flames. He stands bareheaded, his eyes
bright with faith in God, and the mighty mouth that utters his
truth, fixed in holy defiance. His denial comes from no fear, or
weak dislike to that which is painful. On neither side will he
tell lies for peace. He is ready to be lost for his fellow-men.
In the name of God he rebukes the flames of hell. The fugitives
pause on the top, look back, call him lying prophet, and
shout evil opprobrious names at the man who counts not his
own life dear to him, who has forgotten his own soul in his
sacred devotion to men, who fills up what is left behind of the
sufferings of Christ, for his body's sake — for the human race, of
which he is the head. Be sure that, come what may of the rest,
let the flames of hell ebb or flow, that man is safe, for he is
delivered already from the only devil that can make hell itself a
torture, the devil of selfishness — the only one that can possess a
man and make himself his own living hell. He is out of all
that region of things, and already dwelling in the secret place of
the Almighty."
"Go on, go on."
"He trusts in God so absolutely, that he leaves his salvation
to him — utterly, fearlessly; and, forgetting it, as being no concern
of his, sets himself to do the work that God has given him
to do, even as his Lord did before him, counting that alone
worthy of his care. Let God's will be done, and all is well.
If God's will be done, he cannot fare ill. To him, God is all in
all. If it be possible to separate such things, it is the glory of
God, even more than the salvation of men, that he seeks. He
will not have it that his Father in heaven is not perfect. He
believes entirely that God loves, yea, is love; and, therefore,
that hell itself must be subservient to that love, and but an
embodiment of it; that the grand work of Justice is to make
way for a Love which will give to every man that which is right
and ten times more, even if it should be by means of awful
suffering — a suffering which the Love of the Father will not
shun, either for himself or his children, but will eagerly meet
for their sakes, that he may give them all that is in his
heart."
"Surely you speak your own opinions in describing thus
warmly the faith of the preacher."
"I do. He is accountable for nothing I say. All I assert
is, that this how I seem to myself to succeed in understanding
him."
"How is it that so many good people call him heterodox?"
"I do not mind that. I am annoyed only when goodhearted
people, with small natures and cultivated intellects,
patronise him, and talk forgivingly of his warm heart and unsound
judgment. To these, theology must be like a map — with
plenty of lines in it. They cannot trust their house on the
high table-land of his theology, because they cannot see the
outlines bounding the said table-land. It is not small enough
for them. They cannot take it in. Such can hardly be satisfied
with the creation, one would think, seeing there is no line of
division anywhere in it. They would take care there should be
no mistake."
"Does God draw no lines, then?"
"When he does, they are pure lines, without breadth, and
consequently invisible to mortal eyes; not Chinese walls of
separation, such as these definers would construct. Such minds
are à priori incapable of theorising upon his theories. Or, to
alter the figure, they will discover a thousand faults in his
drawing, but they can never behold the figure constructed by
his lines, and containing the faults which they believe they
discover."
"But can those theories in religion be correct which are so
hard to see?"
"They are only hard to certain natures."
"But those natures are above the average."
"Yes, in intellect and its cultivation — nothing more."
"You have granted them heart."
"Not much; but what there is, good."
"That is allowing a great deal, though. Is it not hard then
to say that such cannot understand him?"
"Why? They will get to heaven, which is all they want.
And they will understand him one day, which is more than they
pray for. Till they have done being anxious about their own
salvation, we must forgive them that they can contemplate with
calmness the damnation of a universe, and believe that God is
yet more indifferent than they."
"But do they not bring the charge likewise against you, of
being unable to understand them?"
"Yes. And so it must remain, till the Spirit of God decide
the matter, which I presume must take place by slow degrees:
For this decision can only consist in the enlightenment of souls
to see the truth; and therefore has to do with individuals only.
There is no triumph for the Truth but that. She knows no
glorying over the vanquished, for in her victory the vanquished
is already of the vanquishers. Till then, the Right must be
content to be called the Wrong, and — which is far harder — to
seem the Wrong. There is no spiritual victory gained by a
verbal conquest; or by any kind of torture, even should the
rack employed be that of the purest logic. Nay more: so long
as the wicked themselves remain impenitent, there is mourning
in heaven; and when there is no longer any hope over one last
remaining sinner, heaven itself must confess its defeat, heap
upon that sinner what plagues you will."
Hugh pondered, and continued pondering till they reached
Falconer's chambers. At the door Hugh paused.
"Will you not come in?"
"I fear I shall become troublesome."
"No fear of that. I promise to get rid of you as soon as I
find you so."
"Thank you. Just let me know when you have had enough
of me."
They entered. Mrs. Ashton, who, unlike her class, was never
missing when wanted, got them some bread and cheese; and
Falconer's Fortunatus-purse of a cellar — the bottom of his cupboard
— supplied its usual bottle of port; to which fare the
friends sat down.
The conversation, like a bird descending in spirals, settled at
last upon the subject which had more or less occupied Hugh's
thoughts ever since his unsatisfactory conversation with Funkelstein
at their first meeting; and still more since he had learned
that this man himself exercised an unlawful influence over
Euphra. He begged Falconer, if he had any theory comprehending
such things, to let him know what kind of a relation it
was, in which Miss Cameron stood to Funkelstein, or Count von
Halkar.
"I have had occasion to think a good deal about those
things," said Falconer. "The first thing evident is, that Miss
Cameron is peculiarly constituted, belonging to a class which is,
however, larger than is commonly supposed, circumstances
rarely combining to bring out its peculiarities. In those who
constitute this class, the nervous element, either from preponderating,
or from not being. in healthy and harmonious combination
with the more material element, manifests itself beyond
its ordinary sphere of operation, and so occasions results unlike
the usual phenomena of life, though, of course, in accordance
with natural laws. To use a simile: it is, in such cases, as
all the nerves of the human body came crowding to the surface,
and there exposed themselves to a thousand influences, from
which they would otherwise be preserved. Of course I am not
attempting to explain, only to suggest a conceivable hypothesis.
Upon such constitutions, it would not be surprising that certain
other constitutions, similar, yet differing, should exercise a peculiar
influence. You are, I dare say, more or less familiar with
the main features of mesmerism and its allies, among which is
what is called biology. I presume it is on such constitutions as
I have supposed, that those powers are chiefly operative. Miss
Cameron has, at some time or other in her history, submitted
herself to the influences of this Count Halkar; and he has
thus gained a most dangerous authority over her, which he has
exercised for his own ends."
"She more than implied as much in the last conversation. I
had with her."
"So his will became her law. There is in the world of mind
a something corresponding to physical force in the material
world. — I cannot avoid just touching upon a higher analogy.
The kingdom of heaven is not come, even when God's will is
our law: it is come when God's will is our will. While God's
will is our law, we are but a kind of noble slaves; when his
will is our will, we are free children. Nothing in nature is free
enough to be a symbol for the state of those who act immediately
from the essence of their hidden life, and the recognition
of God's will as that essence. But, as I said, this belongs to a
far higher region. I only wanted to touch on the relation of
the freedoms — physical, mental, and spiritual. To return to
the point in hand: I recognise in the story a clear evidence of
strife and partial victory in the affair of the ring. The count —
we will call him by the name he gives himself — had evidently
been anxious for years to possess himself of this ring: the probable
reasons we have already talked of. He had laid his
injunctions on his slave to find it for him; and she, perhaps at
first nothing loath, perhaps loving the man as well as submitting
to him, had for a long time attempted to find it, but had
failed. The count, probably doubting her sincerity, and hoping,
at all events, to urge her search, followed her to Arnstead,
where it is very likely he had been before, although he had
avoided Mr. Arnold. Judging it advantageous to get into the
house, in order to make observations, he employed his chance
meeting with you to that result. But, before this, he had
watched Miss Cameron's familiarity with you — was jealous and
tyrannical. Hence the variations of her conduct to you; for
when his power was upon her, she could not do as she pleased,
But she must have had a real regard for you; for she evidently
refused to get you into trouble by taking the ring from your
custody. But my surprise is that the fellow limited himself to
that one jewel."
"You may soon be relieved from that surprise," answered
Hugh: "he took a valuable diamond of mine as well."
"The rascal! We may catch him, but you are not likely to
find your diamond again. Still, there is some possibility."
"How do you know she was not willing to take it from me?"
"Because, by her own account, he had to destroy her power
of volition entirely, before he could make her do it. He threw
her into a mesmeric sleep."
"I should like to understand his power over her a little
better. In such cases of biology — how they came to abuse the
word, I should like to know —"
"Just as they call table-rapping, &c., spiritualism."
"I suppose his relation to her must be classed amongst
phenomena of that sort?"
"Certainly."
"Well, tell me, does the influence outlast the mesmeric condition?"

"If by mesmeric condition you mean any state evidently
approaching to that of sleep — undoubtedly. It is, in many
cases, quite independent of such a condition. Perhaps the
degree of willing submission at first, may have something to do
with it. But mesmeric influence, whatever it may mean, is
entirely independent of sleep. That is an accident accompanying
it, perhaps sometimes indicating its culmination."
"Does the person so influenced act with or against his will?"
"That is a most difficult question, involving others equally
difficult. My own impression is, that the patient — for patient
in a very serious sense he is — acts with his inclination, and often
with his will; but in many cases with his inclination against his
will. This is a very important distinction in morals, but often
overlooked. When a man is acting with his inclination, his will
is in abeyance. In our present imperfect condition, it seems to
me that the absolute will has no opportunity of pure action, of
operating entirely as itself, except when working in opposition
to inclination. But to return: the power of the biologist
appears to me to lie in this — he is able, by some mysterious
sympathy, to produce in the mind of the patient such forceful
impulses to do whatever he wills, that they are in fact irresistible
to almost all who are obnoxious to his influence. The
will requires an especial training and a distinct development,
before it is capable of acting with any degree of freedom. The
men who have undergone this are very few indeed; and no one
whose will is not educated as will, can, if subjected to the influences
of biology, resist the impulses roused in his passive brain
by the active brain of the operator. This at least is my
impression.
"Other things no doubt combined to increase the influence
in the present case. She liked him, perhaps more than liked
him once. She was partially committed to his schemes; and
she was easily mesmerised. It would seem, besides, that she was
naturally disposed to somnambulism. This is a remarkable coexistence
of distinct developments of the same peculiarity. In
this latter condition, even if in others she were able to resist
him, she would be quite helpless; for all the thoughts that
passed through her brain would owe their origin to his. —
Imagine being forced to think another man's thoughts! That
would be possession indeed! And this is not far removed from
the old stories about the demons entering into a man. — He
would be ruler over the whole intellectual life that passed in
her during the time; and which to her, as far as the ideas
suggested belonged to the outward world, would appear an
outer life, passing all round her, not in her. She would, in
fact, be a creature of his imagination for the time, as much as
any character invented, and sent through varied circumstances,
feelings, and actions, by the mind of the poet or novelist.
Look at the facts. She warned you to beware of the count that
night before you went into the haunted bed-chamber. Even
when she entered it, by your own account —"
"Entered it? Then you do think it was Euphra who personated
the ghost?"
"I am sure of it. She was sleep-walking."
"But so different — such a death-like look!"
"All that was easy enough to manage. She refused to obey
him at first. He mesmerized her. It very likely went farther
than he expected; and he succeeded too well. Experienced, no
doubt, in disguises, he dressed her as like the dead Lady
Euphrasia as he could, following her picture. Perhaps she
possessed such a disguise, and had used it before. He thus
protected her from suspicion, and himself from implication. —
What was the colour of the hair in the picture?"
"Golden."
"Hence the sparkle of gold-dust in her hair. The count
managed it all. He willed that she should go, and she went.
Her disguise was certain safety, should she be seen. You
would suspect the ghost and no one else if she appeared to you,
and you lost the ring after. But even in this state she yielded
against her better inclination, for she was weeping when you
saw her. But she could not help it. While you lay on the
couch in the haunted chamber, where he carried you, the awful
death-ghost was busy in your room, was opening your desk,
fingering your papers, and stealing your ring. It is rather a
frightful idea."
"She did not take my ring, I am sure. He followed her,
and took it. — But she could not have come in at either
door
"Could not? Did she not go out at one of them? Besides,
I do not doubt that such a room as that had private communication
with the open air as well. I should much like to
examine the place."
"But how could she have gone through the bolted door
then?"
"That door may have been set in another, larger by half the
frame or so, and opening with a spring and concealed hinges.
There is no difficulty about that. There are such places to be
found now and then in old houses. But, indeed, if you will
excuse me, I do not consider your testimony, on every minute
particular, quite satisfactory."
"Why?" asked Hugh, rather offended.
"First, because of the state of excitement you must have
been in; and next, because I doubt the wine that was left in
your room. The count no doubt knew enough of drugs to put
a few ghostly horrors into the decanter. But poor Miss
Cameron! The horrors he has put into her mind and life! It
is a sad fate — all but a sentence of insanity."
Hugh sprang to his feet.
"By heaven!" he cried, "I will strangle the knave."
"Stop, stop!" said Falconer. "No revenge! Leave him to
the sleeping divinity within him, which will awake one day, and
complete the hell that he is now building for himself — for the
very fire of hell is the divine in it. Your work is to set Euphra.
free. If you did strangle him, how do you know if that would
free her from him?"
"Horrible! — Have you no news of him?"
"None whatever."
"What, then, can I do for her?"
"You must teach her to foil him."
"How am I to do that? Even if I knew how, I cannot see
her, I cannot speak to her."
"I have a great faith in opportunity."
"But how should she foil him?"
"She must pray to God to redeem her fettered will — to
strengthen her will to redeem herself. She must resist the
count, should he again claim her submission (as, for her sake, I
hope he will), as she would the devil himself. She must overcome.
Then she will be free — not before. This will be very
hard to do. His power has been excessive and peculiar, and her
submission long and complete. Even if he left her alone, she
would not therefore be free. She must defy him; break his
bonds; oppose his will; assert her freedom; and defeat him
utterly."
"Oh! who will help her? I have no power. Even if I were
with her, I could not help her in such a struggle. I wish David
were not dead. He was the man. — You could now, Mr.
Falconer."
"No. Except I knew her, had known her for some time,
and had a strong hold of all her nature, I could not, would not
try to help her. If Providence brought this about, I would do
my best; but otherwise I would not interfere. But if she pray
to God, he will give her whatever help she needs, and in the best
way, too."
"I think it would be some comfort to her if we could find the
ring — the crystal, I mean."
"It would be more, I think, if we could find the diamond."
"How can we find either?"
"We must find the count first. I have not given that up, of
course. I will tell you what I should like to do, if I knew the
lady."
"What?"
"Get her to come to London, and make herself as public as
possible: go to operas and balls, and theatres; be presented at
court; take a stall at every bazaar, and sell charity puff-balls —
get as much into the papers as possible. 'The lovely, accomplished,
fascinating Miss Cameron, &c., &c.'"
"What do you mean?"
"I will tell you what I mean. The count has forsaken her
now; but as soon as he heard that she was somebody, that she
was followed and admired, his vanity would be roused, his old
sense of property in her would revive, and he would begin once
more to draw her into his toils. What the result would be, it is
impossible to foretell; but it would at least give us a chance of
catching him, and her a chance of resisting him."
"I don't think, however, that she would venture on that
course herself. I should not dare to propose it to her."
"No, no. It was only an invention, to deceive myself with
the fancy that I was doing something. There would be many
objections to such a plan, even if it were practicable. I must
still try to find him, and if fresh endeavours should fail, devise
fresher still."
"Thank you a thousand times," said Hugh. "It is too good
of you to take so much trouble."
"It is my business," answered Falconer. "Is there not a soul
in trouble?"
Hugh went home, full of his new friend. With the clue he
had given him, he was able to follow all the windings of
Euphra's behaviour, and to account for almost everything that
had taken place. It was quite painful to him to feel that he
could be of no immediate service to her; but he could hardly
doubt that, before long, Falconer would, in his wisdom and
experience, excogitate some mode of procedure in which he
might be able to take a part.
He sat down to his novel, which had been making but little
progress for some time; for it is hard to write a novel when one
is living in the midst of a romance. But the romance, at this
time, was not very close to him. It had a past and a possible
future, but no present. That same future, however, might at
any moment dawn into the present.
In the meantime, teaching the Latin grammar and the
English alphabet to young aspirants after the honours of the
ministry, was not work inimical to invention, from either
the exhaustion of its excitement or the absorption of its
interest.
CHAPTER XIII.
THE LADY'S-MAID.
Her yellow hair, beyond compare,
Comes trinkling down her swan-white neck;
And her two eyes, like stars in skies,
Would keep a sinking ship frae wreck.
Oh! Mally's meek, Mally's sweet,
Mally's modest and discreet;
Mally's rare, Mally's fair,
Mally's every way complete.
BURNS.
What arms for innocence but innocence.
GILES FLETCHER.
MARGARET had sought Euphra's room, with the intention of
restoring to her the letter which she had written to David Elginbrod.
Janet had let it lie for some time before she sent it to
Margaret; and Euphra had given up all expectation of an
answer.
Hopes of ministration filled Margaret's heart; but she expected,
from what she knew of her, that anger would be Miss
Cameron's first feeling. Therefore, when she heard no answer
to her application for admission, and had concluded, in consequence,
that Euphra was not in the room, she resolved to leave
the letter where it would meet her eye, and thus prepare the
way for a future conversation. When she saw Euphra and
Harry, she would have retired immediately; but Euphra, annoyed
by her entrance, was now quite able to speak.
"What do you want?" she said angrily.
"This is your letter, Miss Cameron, is it not?" said Margaret,
advancing with it in her hand.
Euphra took it, glanced at the direction, pushed Harry away
from her, started up in a passion, and let loose the whole gathered
irritability of contempt, weariness, disappointment, and
suffering, upon Margaret. Her dark eyes flashed with rage, and
her sallow cheek glowed like a peach.
"What right have you, pray, to handle my letters? How
did you get this? It has never been posted! And open, too,
I declare! I suppose you have read it?"
Margaret was afraid of exciting more wrath before she had an
opportunity of explaining; but Euphra gave her no time to
think of a reply.
"You have read it, you shameless woman! Why don't you
lie, like the rest of your tribe, and keep me from dying with
indignation? Impudent prying! My maid never posted it,
and you have found it and read it! Pray, did you hope to find
a secret worth a bribe?"
She advanced on Margaret till within a foot of her.
"Why don't you answer, you hussy? I will go this instant
to your mistress. You or I leave the house."
Margaret had stood all this time quietly, waiting for an opportunity
to speak. Her face was very pale, but perfectly still,
and her eyes did not quail. She had not in the least lost her
self-possession. She would not say at once that she had read
the letter, because that would instantly rouse the tornado again.
"You do not know my name, Miss Cameron; of course you
could not."
"Your name! What is that to me?"
"That," said Margaret, pointing to the letter, "is my
father's name."
Euphra looked at her own direction again, and then looked
at Margaret. She was so bewildered, that if she had any
thoughts, she did not know them. Margaret went on:
"My father is dead. My mother sent the letter to me."
"Then you have had the impertinence to read it!"
"It was my duty to read it."
"Duty! What business had you with it?"
Euphra felt ashamed of the letter as soon as she found that
she had applied to a man whose daughter was a servant. Margaret
answered:
"I could at least reply to it so far, that the writer should not
think my father had neglected it. I did not know who it was
from till I came to the end."
Euphra turned her back on her, with the words:
"You may go."
Margaret walked out of the room with an unconscious
stately gentleness.
"Come back," cried Euphra.
Margaret obeyed.
"Of course you will tell all your fellow-servants the contents
of this foolish letter."
Margaret's face flushed, and her eye flashed, at the first words
of this speech; the last words made her forget the first,
and to them only she replied. Clasping her hands, she said:
"Dear Miss Cameron, do not call it foolish. For God's sake,
do not call it foolish."
"What is it to you? Do you think I am going to make a
confidante of you?"
Margaret again left the room. Notwithstanding that she
had made no answer to her insult, Euphra felt satisfied that her
letter was safe from profanation.
No sooner was Margaret out of sight, than, with the reaction
common to violent tempers, which in this case resulted the sooner,
from the exhaustion produced in a worn frame by the violence
of the outburst, Euphra sat down, in a hopeless, unresting way,
upon the chair from which she had just risen, and began weeping
more bitterly than before. She was not only exhausted, but
ashamed; and to these feelings was added a far greater sense of
disappointment than she could have believed possible, at the
frustration of the hope of help from David Elginbrod. True, this
hope had been small; but where there is only one hope, its death
is equally bitter, whether it be a great or a little hope. And
there is often no power of reaction, in a mind which has been
gradually reduced to one little faint hope, when that hope goes
out in darkness. There is a recoil which is very helpful, from the
blow that kills a great hope.
All this time Harry had been looking on, in a kind of paralysed
condition, pale with perplexity and distress. He now
came up to Euphra, and, trying to pull her hand gently from
her face, said:
"What is it all about, Euphra, dear?"
"Oh! I have been very naughty, Harry."
"But what is it all about? May I read the letter?"
"If you like," answered Euphra, listlessly.
Harry read the letter with quivering features. Then, laying
it down on the table with a reverential slowness, went to Euphra,
put his arms round her and kissed her.
"Dear, dear Euphra, I did not know you were so unhappy.
I will find God for you. But first I will — what shall I do to the
bad man? Who is it? I will —
Harry finished the sentence by setting his teeth hard.
"Oh! you can't do anything for me, Harry, dear. Only
mind you don't say anything about it to any one. Put the
letter in the fire there for me."
"No — that I won't," said Harry, taking up the letter, and
holding it tight. "It is a beautiful letter, and it does me good.
Don't you think, though it is not sent to God himself, he may
read it, and take it for a prayer?"
"I wish he would, Harry."
"But it was very wrong of you, Euphra, dear, to speak as you
did to the daughter of such a good man."
"Yes, it was."
"But then, you see, you got angry before you knew who she
was."
"But I shouldn't have got angry before I knew all about
it."
"Well, you have only to say you are sorry, and Margaret
won't think anything more about it. Oh, she is so good!"
Euphra recoiled from making confession of wrong to a lady's--
maid; and, perhaps, she was a little jealous of Harry's admiration
of Margaret. For Euphra had not yet cast off all her old
habits of mind, and one of them was the desire to be first with
every one whom she cared for. She had got rid of a worse,
which was, a necessity of being first in every company, whether
she cared for the persons composing it, or not. Mental suffering
had driven the latter far enough from her; though it would
return worse than ever, if her mind were not filled with truth
in the place of ambition. So she did not respond to what Harry
said. Indeed, she did not speak again, except to beg him to
leave her alone. She did not make her appearance again that
day.
But at night, when the household was retiring, she rose from
the bed on which she had been lying half-unconscious, and going
to the door, opened it a little way, that she might hear when
Margaret should pass from Mrs. Elton's room towards her own.
She waited for some time; but judging, at length, that she
must have passed without her knowledge, she went and knocked
at her door. Margaret opened it a little, after a moment's
delay, half-undressed.
"May I come in, Margaret?"
"Pray, do, Miss Cameron," answered Margaret.
And she opened the door quite. Her cap was off, and her
rich dark hair fell on her shoulders, and streamed thence to her
waist. Her under-clothing was white as snow.
"What a lovely skin she has!" thought Euphra, comparing
it with her own tawny complexion. She felt, for the first time,
that Margaret was beautiful — yes, more: that whatever her
gown might be, her form and her skin (give me a prettier word,
kind reader, for a beautiful fact, and I will gladly use it) were
those of one of nature's ladies. She was soon to find that her
intellect and spirit were those of one of God's ladies.
"I am very sorry, Margaret, that I spoke to you as I did today."

"Never mind it, Miss Cameron. We cannot help being angry
sometimes. And you had great provocation under the mistake
you made. I was only sorry because I knew it would trouble
you afterwards. Please don't think of it again."
"You are very kind, Margaret."
"I regretted my father's death, for the first time, after reading
your letter, for I knew he could have helped you. But it
was very foolish of me, for God is not dead."
Margaret smiled as she said this, looking full in Euphra's eyes.
It was a smile of meaning unfathomable, and it quite overcame
Euphra. She had never liked Margaret before; for, from not
very obscure psychological causes, she had never felt comfortable
in her presence, especially after she had encountered the nun in
the Ghost's Walk, though she had had no suspicion that the nun
was Margaret. A great many of our dislikes, both to persons
and things, arise from a feeling of discomfort associated with
them, perhaps only accidentally present in our minds the first
time we met them. But this vanished entirely now.
"Do you, then, know God too, Margaret?"
"Yes," answered Margaret, simply and solemnly.
"Will you tell me about him?"
"I can at least tell you about my father, and what he taught
me."
"Oh! thank you, thank you! Do tell me about him — now."
"Not now, dear Miss Cameron. It is late, and you are too
unwell to stay up longer. Let me help you to bed to-night. I
will be your maid."
As she spoke, Margaret proceeded to put on her dress again,
that she might go with Euphra, who had no attendant. She
had parted with Jane, and did not care, in her present mood, to
have a woman about her, especially a new one.
"No, Margaret. You have enough to do without adding me
to your troubles."
"Please, do let me, Miss Cameron. It will be a great pleasure
to me. I have hardly anything to call work. You should see
how I used to work when I was at home."
Euphra still objected, but Margaret's entreaty prevailed.
She followed Euphra to her room. There she served her
like a ministering angel; brushed her hair — oh, so gently!
smoothing it out as if she loved it. There was health in the
touch of her hands, because there was love. She undressed her;
covered her in bed as if she had been a child; made up the fire
to last as long as possible; bade her good night; and was
leaving the room, when Euphra called her. Margaret returned
to the bed-side.
"Kiss me, Margaret," she said.
Margaret stooped, kissed her forehead and her lips, and left
her.
Euphra cried herself to sleep. They were the first tears she
had ever shed that were not painful tears. She slept as she had
not slept for months.
In order to understand this change in Euphrasia's behaviour to
Margaret — in order, in fact, to represent it to our minds as at
all credible — we must remember that she had been trying to do
right for some time; that Margaret, as the daughter of David,
seemed the only attainable source of the knowledge she sought;
that long illness had greatly weakened her obstinacy; that
her soul hungered, without knowing it, for love; and that she
was naturally gifted with a strong will, the position in which
she stood in relation to the count proving only that it was
not strong enough, and not that it was weak. Such a
character must, for any good, be ruled by itself, and not by
circumstances. To have been overcome in the process of time
by the persistent goodness of Margaret, might have been the
blessed fate of a weaker and worse woman; but if Euphra did
not overcome herself, there was no hope of further victory. If
Margaret could even wither the power of her oppressor, it would
be but to transfer the lordship from a bad man to a good woman;
and that would not be enough. It would not be freedom.
And indeed, the aid that Margaret had to give her, could only
be bestowed on one who already had freedom enough to act in
some degree from duty. She knew she ought to go and apologize
to Margaret. She went.
In Margaret's presence, and in such a mood, she was subjected
at once to the holy enchantment of her loving-kindness. She had
never received any tenderness from a woman before. Perhaps
she had never been in the right mood to profit by it if she had.
Nor had she ever before seen what Margaret was. It was only
when service — divine service — flowed from her in full outgoing,
that she reached the height of her loveliness. Then her whole
form was beautiful. So was it interpenetrated by, and respondent
to, the uprising soul within, that it radiated thought
and feeling as if it had been all spirit. This beauty rose to its
best in her eyes. When she was ministering to any one in need,
her eyes seemed to worship the object of her faithfulness, as if
all the time she felt that she was doing it unto Him. Her deeds
were devotion. She was the receiver and not the giver. Before
this, Euphra had seen only the still waiting face; and, as I have
said, she had been repelled by it. Once within the sphere of
the radiation of her attraction, she was drawn towards her, as
towards the haven of her peace: she loved her.
To this, at length, had her struggle with herself in the silence
of her own room, and her meditations on her couch, conducted
her. Shall we say that these alone had been and were leading
her? Or that to all these there was a hidden root, and an informing
spirit? Who would not rather believe that his thoughts
come from an infinite, self-sphered, self-constituting thought,
than that they rise somehow out of a blank abyss of darkness,
and are only thought when he thinks them, which thinking he
cannot pre-determine or even foresee?
When Euphra woke, her first breath was like a deep draught
of spiritual water. She felt as if some sorrow had passed from
her, and some gladness come in its stead. She thought and
thought, and found that the gladness was Margaret. She had
scarcely made the discovery, when the door gently opened, and
Margaret peeped in to see if she were awake.
"May I come in?" she said.
"Yes, please, Margaret."
"How do you feel to-day?"
"Oh, so much better, dear Margaret! Your kindness will
make me well."
"I am so glad! Do lie still awhile, and I will bring you some
breakfast. Mrs. Elton will be so pleased to find you let me wait
on you!"
"She asked me, Margaret, if you should; but I was too
miserable — and too naughty, for I did not like you."
"I knew that; but I felt sure you would not dislike me
always."
"Why?"
"Because I could not help loving you."
"Why did you love me?"
"I will tell you half the reason. — Because you looked unhappy."

"What was the other half?"
"That I cannot — I mean I will not tell you."
"Never?"
"Perhaps never. But I don't know. — Not now."
"Then I must not ask you?"
"No — please."
"Very well, I won't."
"Thank you. I will go and get your breakfast."
"What can she mean?" said Euphra to herself.
But she would never have found out.
CHAPTER XIV.
DAVID ELGINBROD.
He being dead yet speaketh.
HEB., xi. 4.
In all 'he' did
Some figure of the golden times was hid.
DR. DONNE.
FROM this time, Margaret waited upon Euphra, as if she had
been her own maid. Nor had Mrs. Elton any cause of complaint,
for Margaret was always at hand when she was wanted.
Indeed, her mistress was full of her praises. Euphra said
little.
Many and long were the conversations between the two girls,
when all but themselves were asleep. Sometimes Harry made
one of the company; but they could always send him away
when they wished to be alone. And now the teaching for which
Euphra had longed, sprang in a fountain at her own door. It
had been nigh her long, and she had not known it, for its hour
had not come. Now she drank as only the thirsty drink, —
as they drink whose very souls are fainting within them for
drought.
But how did Margaret embody her lessons?
The second night, she came to Euphra's room, and said:
"Shall I tell you about my father to-night? Are you
able?"
Euphra was delighted. It was what she had been hoping for
all day.
"Do tell me. I long to hear about him."
So they sat down; and Margaret began to talk about her
childhood; the cottage she lived in; the fir-wood all around it;
the work she used to do; — her side, in short, of the story which,
in the commencement of this book, I have partly related from
Hugh's side. Summer and winter, spring-time and harvest,
storm and sunshine, all came into the tale. Her mother came
into it often; and often too, though not so often, the grand
form of her father appeared, remained for a little while, and then
passed away. Every time Euphra saw him thus in the mirror of
Margaret's memory, she saw him more clearly than before: she
felt as if soon, she should know him quite well. Sometimes
she asked a question or two; but generally she allowed Margaret's
words to flow unchecked; for she painted her pictures
better when the colours did not dry between. They talked on,
or rather, Margaret talked and Euphra listened, far into the
night. At length, Margaret stopped suddenly, for she became
aware that a long time had passed. Looking at the clock on the
chimney-piece, she said:
"I have done wrong to keep you up so late. Come — I must
get you to bed. You are an invalid, you know, and I am your
nurse as well as your maid."
"You will come to-morrow night, then?"
"Yes, I will."
"Then I will go to bed like a good child."
Margaret undressed her, and left her to the healing of
sleep.
The next night she spoke again of her father, and what he
taught her. Euphra had thought much about him; and at
every fresh touch which the story gave to the portrait, she
knew him better; till at last, even when circumstances not
mentioned before came up, she seemed to have known them from
the beginning.
"What was your father like, Margaret?"
Margaret described him very nearly as I have done, from
Hugh's account, in the former part of the story. Euphra
said:
"Ah! yes. That is almost exactly as I had fancied him. Is
it not strange?"
"It is very natural, I think," answered Margaret.
"I seem now to have known him for years."
But what is most worthy of record is, that ever as the picture
of David grew on the vision of Euphra, the idea of God was
growing unawares upon her inward sight. She was learning
more and more about God all the time. The sight of human
excellence awoke a faint Ideal of the divine perfection. Faith
came of itself, and abode, and grew; for it needs but a vision of
the Divine, and faith in God is straightway born in the soul
that beholds it. Thus, faith and sight are one. The being of
her father in heaven was no more strange and far off from her,
when she had seen such a father on earth as Margaret's was.
It was not alone David's faith that begot hers, but the man
himself was a faith-begetting presence. He was the evidence of
God with them. — Thus he, being dead, yet spoke, and the departed
man was a present power.
Euphra began to read the story of the Gospel. So did Harry.
They found much on which to desire enlightenment; and they
always applied to Margaret for the light they needed. It
was long before she ventured to say I think. She always
said:
"My father used to say —" or
"I think my father would have said —"
It was not until Euphra was in great trouble some time after
this, and required the immediate consolation of personal testimony,
that Margaret spoke as from herself; and then she spoke
with positive assurance of faith. She did not then even say I
think, but, I am sure; I know; I have seen.
Many interviews of this sort did not take place between them
before Euphra, in her turn, began to confide her history to
Margaret.
It was a strangely different one — full of outward event and
physical trouble; but, till it approached the last stages, wonderfully
barren as to inward production or development. It
was a history of Euphra's circumstances and peculiarities,
not of Euphra herself. Till of late, she had scarcely had any
history. Margaret's, on the contrary, was a true history; for,
with much of the monotonous in circumstance, it described
individual growth, and the change of progress. Where there is
no change there can be no history; and as all change is either
growth or decay, all history must describe progress or retrogression.
The former had now begun for Euphra as well; and
it was one proof of it that she told Margaret all I have already
recorded for my readers, at least as far as it bore against herself.
How much more she told her I am unable to say; but
after she had told it, Euphra was still more humble towards
Margaret, and Margaret more tender, more full of service, if
possible, and more devoted to Euphra.
CHAPTER XV.
MARGARET'S SECRET.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
SHAKSPERE. — Sonnet cxvi.
MARGARET could not proceed very far in the story of her life,
without making some reference to Hugh Sutherland. But she
carefully avoided mentioning his name. Perhaps no one less
calm, and free from the operation of excitement, could have
been so successful in suppressing it.
"Ah!" said Euphra, one day, "your history is a little like
mine there; a tutor comes into them both. Did you not fall
dreadfully in love with him?"
"I loved him very much."
"Where is he now?"
"In London, I believe."
"Do you never see him?"
"No."
"Have you never seen him since he left your home — with
the curious name?"
"Yes; but not spoken to him."
"Where?"
Margaret was silent. Euphra knew her well enough now not
to repeat the question.
"I should have been in love with him, I know."
Margaret only smiled.
Another day, Euphra said:
"What a good boy that Harry is! And so clever too. Ah!I
Margaret, I have behaved like the devil to that boy. I wanted
to have him all to myself, and so kept him a child. Need I
confess all my ugliest sins?"
"Not to me, certainly, dear Miss Cameron. Tell God to
look into your heart, and take them all out of it."
"I will. I do. — I even enticed Mr. Sutherland away from
him to me, when he was the only real friend he had, that I
might have them both."
"But you have done your best to make up for it since."
"I have tried a little. I cannot say I have done my best. I
have been so peevish and irritable."
"You could not quite help that."
"How kind you are to excuse me so! It makes me so much
stronger to try again."
"My father used to say that God was always finding every
excuse for us that could be found; every true one, you know;
not one false one."
"That does comfort one."
After a pause, Euphra resumed:
"Mr. Sutherland did me some good, Margaret."
"I do not wonder at that."
"He made me think less about Count Halkar; and that was
something, for he haunted me. I did not know then how very
wicked he was. I did love him once. Oh, how I hate him
now!"
And she started up and paced the room like a tigress in its
cage.
Margaret did not judge this the occasion to read her a
lecture on the duty of forgiveness. She had enough to do to
keep from hating the man herself, I suspect. But she tried to
turn her thoughts into another channel.
"Mr. Sutherland loved you very much, Miss Cameron."
"He loved me once," said poor Euphra, with a sigh.
"I saw he did. That was why I began to love you
too."
Margaret had at last unwittingly opened the door of her
secret. She had told the other reason for loving Euphra.
But, naturally enough, Euphra could not understand what she
meant. Perhaps some of my readers, understanding Margaret's
words perfectly, and their reference too, may be so
far from understanding Margaret herself, as to turn upon me
and say:
"Impossible! You cannot have understood her or any other
woman."
Well!
"What do you mean, Margaret?"
Margaret both blushed and laughed outright.
"I must confess it," said she, at once; "it cannot hurt him
now: my tutor and yours are the same."
"Impossible!"
"True."
"And you never spoke all the time you were both at
Arnstead?"
"Not once. He never knew I was in the house."
"How strange! And you saw he loved me?"
"Yes."
"And you were not jealous?"
"I did not say that. But I soon found that the only way to
escape from my jealousy, if the feeling I had was jealousy, was
to love you too. I did."
"You beautiful creature! But you could not have loved
him much."
"I loved him enough to love you for his sake. But why did
he stop loving you? I fear I shall not be able to love him so
much now."
"He could not help it, Margaret. I deserved it."
Euphra hid her face in her hands.
"He could not have really loved you, then?"
"Which is better to believe, Margaret," said Euphra, uncovering
her face, which two tears were lingering down, and
looking up at her — "that he never loved me, or that he
stopped loving me?"
"For his sake, the first."
"And for my sake, the second?"
"That depends."
"So it does. He must have found plenty of faults in me.
But I was not so bad as he thought me when he stopped loving
me."
Margaret's answer was one of her loving smiles, in which her
eyes had more share than her lips.
It would have been unendurable to Euphra, a little while
before, to find that she had a rival in a servant. Now she
scarcely regarded that aspect of her position. But she looked
doubtfully at Margaret, and then said:
"How is it that you take it so quietly? — for your love must
have been very different from mine. Indeed, I am not sure
that I loved him at all; and after I had made up my mind to
it quite, it did not hurt me so very much. But you must have
loved him dreadfully."
"Perhaps I did. But I had no anxiety about it."
"But that you could not leave to a father such as yours even
to settle."
"No. But I could to God. I could trust God with what I
could not speak to my father about. He is my father's father,
you know; and so, more to him and me than we could be to
each other. The more we love God, the more we love each
other; for we find he makes the very love which sometimes we
foolishly fear to do injustice to, by loving him most. I love
my father ten times more because he loves God, and because
God has secrets with him."
"I wish God were a father to me as he is to you, Margaret."
"But he is your father, whether you wish it or not. He
cannot be more your father than he is. You may be more his
child than you are, but not more than he meant you to be, nor
more than he made you for. You are infinitely more his child
than you have grown to yet. He made you altogether his child,
but you have not given in to it yet."
"Oh! yes; I know what you mean. I feel it is true."
"The Prodigal Son was his father's child. He knew it, and
gave in to it. He did not say: 'I wish my father loved me
enough to treat me like a child again.' He did not say that,
but — I will arise and go to my father."
Euphra made no answer, but wept. Margaret said no
more.
Euphra was the first to resume.
"Mr. Sutherland was very kind, Margaret. He promised
— and I know he will keep his promise — to do all he could
to help me. I hope he is finding out where that wicked
count is."
"Write to him, and ask him to come and see you. He does
not know where you are."
"But I don't know where he is."
"I do."
"Do you?" rejoined Euphra with some surprise.
"But he does not know where I am. I will give you his
address, if you like."
Euphra pondered a little. She would have liked very much
to see him, for she was anxious to know of his success. The
love she had felt for him was a very small obstacle to their
meeting now; for her thoughts had been occupied with affairs,
before the interest of which the poor love she had then been
capable of, had melted away and vanished — vanished, that is, in
all that was restrictive and engrossing in its character. But
now that she knew the relation that had existed between
Margaret and him, she shrunk from doing anything that might
seem to Margaret to give Euphra an opportunity of regaining
his preference. Not that she had herself the smallest hope,
even had she had the smallest desire of doing so; but she would
not even suggest the idea of being Margaret's rival. At length
she answered:
"No, thank you, Margaret. As soon as he has anything to
report, he will write to Arnstead, and Mrs. Horton will forward
me the letter. No — it is quite unnecessary."
Euphra's health was improving a little, though still she was
far from strong.
CHAPTER XVI.
FOREBODINGS.
Faust. If heaven was made for man, 'twas made for me.
Good Angel. Faustus, repent; yet heaven will pity thee.
Bad Angel. Thou art a spirit, God cannot pity thee.
Faust. Be I a devil, yet God may pity me.
Bad Angel. Too late.
Good Angel. Never too late if Faustus will repent.
Bad Angel. If thou repent, devils will tear thee in pieces.
Old Man. I see an angel hover o'er thy head,
And with a vial full of precious grace,
Offers to pour the same into thy soul.
MARLOWE. — Doctor Faustus.
MR. APPLEDITCH had had some business-misfortunes, not of a
heavy nature, but sufficient to cast a gloom over the house in
Dervish Town, and especially over the face of his spouse, who
had set her heart on a new carpet for her drawing-room, and
feared she ought not to procure it now. It is wonderful how
conscientious some people are towards their balance at the
banker's. How the drawing-room, however, could come to want
a new carpet is something mysterious, except there is a peculiar
power of decay inherent in things deprived of use. These
influences operating, however, she began to think that the two
scions of grocery were not drawing nine shillings' worth a week
of the sap of divinity. This she hinted to Mr. Appleditch. It
was resolved to give Hugh warning.
As it would involve some awkwardness to state reasons, Mrs.
Appleditch resolved to quarrel with him, as the easiest way of
prefacing his discharge. It was the way she took with her
maids-of-all-work; for it was grand in itself, and always left her
with a comfortable feeling of injured dignity.
As a preliminary course, she began to treat him with still less
politeness than before. Hugh was so careless of her behaviour,
that this made no impression upon him. But he came to understand
it all afterwards, from putting together the remarks of the
children, and the partial communications of Mr. Appleditch to
Miss Talbot, which that good lady innocently imparted to her
lodger.
At length, one day, she came into the room where Hugh was
more busy in teaching than his pupils were in learning, and
seated herself by the fire to watch for an opportunity. This
was soon found. For the boys, rendered still more inattentive
by the presence of their mother, could not be induced to fix the
least thought upon the matter in hand; so that Hugh was compelled
to go over the same thing again and again, without
success. At last he said:
"I am afraid, Mrs. Appleditch, I must ask you to interfere,
for I cannot get any attention from the boys to-day."
"And how could it be otherwise, Mr. Sutherland, when you
keep wearing them out with going over and over the same thing,
till they are sick of it? Why don't you go on?"
"How can I go on when they have not learned the thing
they are at? That would be to build the chimneys before the
walls."
"It is very easy to be witty, sir; but I beg you will behave
more respectfully to me in the presence of my children, innocent
lambs!"
Looking round at the moment, Hugh caught in his face what
the elder lamb had intended for his back, a grimace hideous
enough to have procured him instant promotion in the kingdom
of apes. The mother saw it too, and added:
You see you cannot make them respect you. Really, Mr.
Sutherland!"
Hugh was about to reply, to the effect that it was useless, in
such circumstances, to attempt teaching them at all, some utterance
of which sort was watched for as the occasion for his instant
dismission; but at that very moment a carriage and pair pulled
sharply up at the door, with more than the usual amount of
quadrupedation, and mother and sons darted simultaneously to
the window.
"My!" cried Johnnie, "what a rum go! Isn't that a jolly
carriage, Peetie?"
"Papa's bought a carriage!" shouted Peetie.
"Be quiet, children," said their mother, as she saw a footman
get down and approach the door.
"Look at that buffer," said Johnnie. "Do come and
see this grand footman, Mr. Sutherland. He's such a gentleman!"

A box on the ear from his mother silenced him. The servant
entering with some perturbation a moment after, addressed her
mistress, for she dared not address any one else while she was in
the room:
"Please 'm, the carriage is astin' after Mr. Sutherland."
"Mr. Sutherland?"
"Yes 'm."
The lady turned to Mr. Sutherland, who, although surprised
as well, was not inclined to show his surprise to Mrs.
Appleditch.
"I did not know you had carriage-friends, Mr. Sutherland,"
said she, with a toss of her head.
"Neither did I," answered Hugh. "But I will go and see
who it is."
When he reached the street, he found Harry on the pavement,
who having got out of the carriage, and not having been
asked into the house, was unable to stand still for impatience.
As soon as he saw his tutor, he bounded to him, and threw his
arms round his neck, standing as they were in the open street.
Tears of delight filled his eyes.
"Come, come, come," said Harry; "we all want you."
"Who wants me?"
"Mrs. Elton and Euphra and me. Come, get in."
And he pulled Hugh towards the carriage.
"I cannot go with you now. I have pupils here."
Harry's face fell.
"When will you come?"
"In half-an-hour."
"Hurrah! I shall be back exactly in half-an-hour then. Do
be ready, please, Mr. Sutherland."
"I will."
Harry jumped into the carriage, telling the coachman to drive
where he pleased, and be back at the same place in half-an-hour.
Hugh returned into the house.
As may be supposed, Margaret was the means of this happy
meeting. Although she saw plainly enough that Euphra would
like to see Hugh, she did not for some time make up her mind
to send for him. The circumstances which made her resolve to
do so were these.
For some days Euphra seemed to be gradually regaining her
health and composure of mind. One evening, after a longer
talk than usual, Margaret had left her in bed, and had gone to
her own room. She was just preparing to get into bed herself,
when a knock at her door startled her, and going to it, she saw
Euphra standing there, pale as death, with nothing on but her
nightgown, notwithstanding the bitter cold of an early and
severe frost. She thought at first she must be walking in her
sleep, but the scared intelligence of her open eyes, soon satisfied
her that it was not so.
"What is the matter, dear Miss Cameron?" she said, as
calmly as she could.
"He is coming. He wants me. If he calls me, I must go."
"No, you shall not go," rejoined Margaret, firmly.
"I must, I must," answered Euphra, wringing her hands.
"Do come in," said Margaret, "you must not stand there in
the cold."
"Let me get into your bed."
"Better let me go with you to yours. That will be more
comfortable for you."
"Oh! yes; please do."
Margaret threw a shawl round Euphra, and went back with
her to her room.
"He wants me. He wants me. He will call me soon," said
Euphra, in an agonised whisper, as soon as the door was shut.
"What shall I do!"
"Come to bed first, and we will talk about it there."
As soon as they were in bed, Margaret put her arm round
Euphra, who was trembling with cold and fear, and said:
"Has this man any right to call you?"
"No, no," answered Euphra, vehemently.
"Then don't go."
"But I am afraid of him."
"Defy him in God's name."
"But besides the fear, there is something that I can't describe,
that always keeps telling me — no, not telling me, pushing
me — no, drawing me, as if I could not rest a moment till I go.
I cannot describe it. I hate to go, and yet I feel that if I were
cold in my grave, I must rise and go if he called me. I wish I
could tell you what it is like. It is as if some demon were
shaking my soul till I yielded and went. Oh! don't despise
me. I can't help it."
"My darling, I don't, I can't despise you. You shall not go
to him."
"But I must," answered she, with a despairing faintness
more convincing than any vehemence; and then began to weep
with a slow, hopeless weeping, like the rain of a November
eve.
Margaret got out of bed. Euphra thought she was offended.
Starting up, she clasped her hands, and said:
"Oh Margaret! I won't cry. Don't leave me. Don't leave
me."
She entreated like a chidden child.
"No, no, I didn't mean to leave you for a moment. Lie
down again, dear, and cry as much as you like. I am going to
read a little bit out of the New Testament to you."
"I am afraid I can't listen to it."
"Never mind. Don't try. I want to read it."
Margaret got a New Testament, and read part of that chapter
of St. John's Gospel which speaks about human labour and the
bread of life. She stopped at these words:
"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but
the will of him that sent me."
Euphra's tears had ceased. The sound of Margaret's voice,
which, if it lost in sweetness by becoming more Scotch when
she read the Gospel, yet gained thereby in pathos, and the
power of the blessed words themselves, had soothed the troubled
spirit a little, and she lay quiet.
"The count is not a good man, Miss Cameron?"
"You know he is not, Margaret. He is the worst man
alive."
"Then it cannot be God's will that you should go to him."
"But one does many things that are not God's will."
"But it is God's will that you should not go to him."
Euphra lay silent for a few moments. Suddenly she exclaimed:

"Then I must not go to him," — got out of bed, threw herself
on her knees by the bedside, and holding up her clasped
hands, said, in low tones that sounded as if forced from her by
agony:
"I won't! I won't! O God, I will not. Help me, help
me!"
Margaret knelt beside her, and put her arm round her.
Euphra spoke no more, but remained kneeling, with her extended
arms and clasped hands lying on the bed, and her head
laid between them. At length Margaret grew alarmed, and
looked at her. But she found that she was in a sweet sleep.
She gently disengaged herself, and covering her up soft and
warm, left her to sleep out her God-sent sleep undisturbed,
while she sat beside, and watched for her waking.
She slept thus for an hour. Then lifting her head, and
seeing Margaret, she rose quietly, as if from her prayers, and
said with a smile:
"Margaret, I was dreaming that I had a mother."
"So you have, somewhere."
"Yes, so I have, somewhere," she repeated, and crept into
bed like a child, lay down, and was asleep again in a moment.
Margaret watched her for another hour, and then seeing no
signs of restlessness, but that on the contrary her sleep was
profound, lay down beside her, and soon shared in that repose
which to weary women and men is God's best gift.
She rose at her usual hour the next day, and was dressed
before Euphra awoke. It was a cold grey December morning,
with the hoar-frost lying thick on the roofs of the houses.
Euphra opened her eyes while Margaret was busy lighting the
fire. Seeing that she was there, she closed them again, and fell
once more fast asleep. Before she woke again, Margaret had
some tea ready for her; after taking which, she felt able to get
up. She rose looking more bright and hopeful than Margaret
had seen her before.
But Margaret, who watched her intently through the day,
saw a change come over her cheer. Her face grew pale and
troubled. Now and then her eyes were fixed on vacancy; and
again she would look at Margaret with a woebegone expression
of countenance; but presently, as if recollecting herself, would
smile and look cheerful for a moment. Margaret saw that the
conflict was coming on, if not already begun — that at least its
shadow was upon her; and thinking that if she could have a
talk with Hugh about what he had been doing, it would comfort
her a little, and divert her thoughts from herself, even if no
farther or more pleasantly than to the count, she let Harry
know Hugh's address, as given in the letter to her father. She
was certain that, if Harry succeeded in finding him, nothing
more was necessary to insure his being brought to Mrs. Elton's.
As we have seen, Harry had traced him to Buccleuch Terrace.
Hugh re-entered the house in the same mind in which he had
gone out; namely, that after Mrs. Appleditch's behaviour to
him before his pupils, he could not remain their tutor any
longer, however great his need might be of the pittance he received
for his services.
But although Mrs. Appleditch's first feeling had been jealousy
of Hugh's acquaintance with "carriage-people," the toadyism
which is so essential an element of such jealousy, had by this
time revived; and when Hugh was proceeding to finish the
lesson he had begun, intending it to be his last, she said:
"Why didn't you ask your friend into the drawing-room, Mr.
Sutherland?"
"Good gracious! The drawing-room!" thought Hugh — but
answered: "He will fetch me when the lesson is over."
"I am sure, sir, any friends of yours that like to call upon
you here, will be very welcome. It will be more agreeable to
you to receive them here, of course; for your accommodation at
poor Miss Talbot's is hardly suitable for such visitors."
"I am sorry to say, however," answered Hugh, "that after
the way you have spoken to me to-day, in the presence of my
pupils, I cannot continue my relation to them any longer."
"Ho! ho!" resnorted the lady, indignation and scorn mingling
with mortification; "our grand visitors have set our backs
up. Very well, Mr. Sutherland, you will oblige me by leaving
the house at once. Don't trouble yourself, pray, to finish the
lesson. I will pay you for it all the same. Anything to get rid
of a man who insults me before the very faces of my innocent
lambs! And please to remember," she added, as she pulled out
her purse, while Hugh was collecting some books he had lent
the boys, "that when you were starving, my husband and I
took you in and gave you employment out of charity — pure
charity, Mr. Sutherland. Here is your money."
"Good morning, Mrs. Appleditch," said Hugh; and walked
out with his books under his arm, leaving her with the money in
her hand.
He had to knock his feet on the pavement in front of the
house, to keep them from freezing, for half-an-hour, before the
carriage arrived to take him away. As soon as it came up, he
jumped into it, and was carried off in triumph by Harry.
Mrs. Elton received him kindly. Euphra held out her hand
with a slight blush, and the quiet familiarity of an old friend.
Hugh could almost have fallen in love with her again, from
compassion for her pale, worn face, and subdued expression.
Mrs. Elton went out in the carriage almost directly, and
Euphra begged Harry to leave them alone, as she had something
to talk to Mr. Sutherland about.
"Have you found any trace of Count Halkar, Hugh?" she
said, the moment they were by themselves.
"I am very sorry to say I have not. I have done my best."
"I am quite sure of that. — I just wanted to tell you, that,
from certain indications which no one could understand so well
as myself; I think you will have more chance of finding him
now."
"I am delighted to hear it," responded Hugh. "If I only
had him!"
Euphra sighed, paused, and then said:
"But I am not sure of it. I think he is in London; but he
may be in Bohemia, for anything I know. I shall, however, in
all probability, know more about him within a few days."
Hugh resolved to go at once to Falconer, and communicate to
him what Euphra had told him. But he said nothing to her as
to the means by which he had tried to discover the count; for
although he felt sure that he had done right in telling Falconer
all about it, he was afraid lest Euphra, not knowing what sort of
a man he was, might not like it. Euphra, on her part, did not
mention Margaret's name; for she had begged her not to do so.
"You will tell me when you know yourself?"
"Perhaps. — I will, if I can. I do wish you could get the
ring. I have a painful feeing that it gives him power over me."
"That can only be a nervous fancy, surely," Hugh ventured
to say.
"Perhaps it is. I don't know. But, still, without that, there
are plenty of reasons for wishing to recover it. He will put it
to a bad use, if he can. But for your sake, especially, I wish we
could get it."
"Thank you. You were always kind."
"No," she replied, without lifting her eyes; "I brought it all
upon you."
"But you could not help it."
"Not at the moment. But all that led to it was my fault."
She paused; then suddenly resumed:
"I will confess. — Do you know what gave rise to the reports
of the house being haunted?"
"No."
"It was me wandering about it at night, looking for that very
ring, to give to the count. It was shameful. But I did. Those
reports prevented me from being found out. But I hope not
many ghosts are so miserable as I was. — You remember my
speaking to you of Mr. Arnold's jewels?"
"Yes, perfectly."
"I wanted to find out, through you, where the ring was. But
I had no intention of involving you."
"I am sure you had not."
"Don't be too sure of anything about me. I don't know
what I might have been led to do. But I am very sorry. Do
forgive me."
"I cannot allow that I have anything to forgive. But tell
me, Euphra, were you the creature in white that I saw in the
Ghost's Walk one night? I don't mean the last time."
"Very likely," she answered, bending her head yet lower,
with a sigh.
"Then who was the creature in black that met you? And
what became of you then?"
"Did you see her?" rejoined Euphra, turning paler still.
"I fainted at sight of her. I took her for the nun that hangs
in that horrid room."
"So did I," said Hugh. "But you could not have lain long;
for I went up to the spot where you vanished, and found
nothing."
"I suppose I got into the shrubbery before I fell. Or the
count dragged me in. — But was that really a ghost? I feel now
as if it was a good messenger, whether ghost or not, come to
warn me, if I had had the courage to listen. I wish I had
taken the warning."
They talked about these and other things, till Mrs. Elton,
who had made Hugh promise to stay to lunch, returned. When
they were seated at table, the kind-hearted woman said:
"Now, Mr. Sutherland, when will you begin again with
Harry?"
"I do not quite understand you," answered Hugh.
"Of course you will come and give him lessons, poor boy.
He will be broken-hearted if you don't."
"I wish I could. But I cannot — at least yet; for I know
his father was dissatisfied with me. That was one of the reasons
that made him send Harry to London."
Harry looked wretchedly disappointed, but said nothing.
"I never heard him say anything of the sort."
"I am sure of it, though. I am very sorry he has mistaken
me; but he will know me better some day."
"I will take all the responsibility," persisted Mrs. Elton.
"But unfortunately the responsibility sticks too fast for you
to take it. I cannot get rid of my share if I would."
"You are too particular. I am sure Mr. Arnold never could
have meant that. This is my house too."
But Harry is his boy. If you will let me come and see
him sometimes, I shall be very thankful, though. I may be
useful to him without giving him lessons."
"Thank you," said Harry with delight.
"Well, well! I suppose you are so much in request in London
that you won't miss him for a pupil."
"On the contrary, I have not a single engagement. If
you could find me one, I should be exceedingly obliged to
you."
"Dear! dear! dear!" said Mrs. Elton. "Then you shall
have Harry."
"Oh! yes; please take me," said Harry, beseechingly.
"No, I cannot. I must not."
Mrs. Elton rang the bell.
"James, tell the coachman I want the carriage in an hour."
Mrs. Elton was as submissive to her coachman as ladies who
have carriages generally are, and would not have dreamed of
ordering the horses out so soon again for herself; but she forgot
everything else when a friend was in need of help, and became
perfectly pachydermatous to the offended looks or indignant
hints of that important functionary.
Within a few minutes after Hugh took his leave, Mrs. Elton
was on her way to repeat a visit she had already paid the same
morning, and to make several other calls, with the express
object of finding pupils for Hugh. But in this she was not so
successful as she had expected. In fact, no one whom she could
think of, wanted such services at present. She returned home
quite down-hearted, and all but convinced that nothing could
be done before the approach of the London season.
CHAPTER XVII.
STRIFE.
They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
An adder and a snake;
But hand me fast, let me not pass,
Gin ye would be my maik.
They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
An adder and an aske;
They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
A bale that burns fast.
They'll shape me in your arms, Janet,
A dove, but and a swan;
And last, they'll shape me in your arms
A mother-naked man:
Cast your green mantle over me —
And sae shall I be wan.
Scotch Ballad: Tamlane.
As soon as Hugh had left the house, Margaret hastened to
Euphra. She found her in her own room, a little more cheerful,
but still strangely depressed. This appearance increased towards
the evening, till her looks became quite haggard, revealing
an inward conflict of growing agony. Margaret remained
with her.
Just before dinner, the upstairs bell, whose summons Margaret
was accustomed to obey, rang, and she went down. Mrs. Elton
detained her for a few minutes. The moment she was at
liberty, she flew to Euphra's room by the back staircase. But,
as she ascended, she was horrified to meet Euphra, in a cloak
and thick veil, creeping down the stairs like a thief. Without
saying a word, the strong girl lifted her in her arms as if she
had been a child, and carried her back to her room. Euphra
neither struggled nor spoke. Margaret laid her on her couch,
and sat down beside her. She lay without moving, and, although
wide awake, gave no other sign of existence than an occasional
low moan, that seemed to come from a heart pressed almost to
death.
Having lain thus for an hour, she broke the silence.
"Margaret, do you despise me dreadfully?"
"No, not in the least."
"Yet you found me going to do what I knew was wrong."
"You had not made yourself strong by thinking about the will
of God. Had you, dear?"
"No. I will tell you how it was. I had been tormented
with the inclination to go to him, and had been resisting it till
I was worn out, and could hardly bear it more. Suddenly all
grew calm within me, and I seemed to hate Count Halkar no
longer. I thought with myself how easy it would be to put a
stop to this dreadful torment, just by yielding to it — only this
once. I thought I should then be stronger to resist the next
time; for this was wearing me out so, that I must yield the
next time, if I persisted now. But what seemed to justify me,
was the thought that so I should find out where he was, and be
able to tell Hugh; and then he would get the ring for me, and
perhaps that would deliver me. But it was very wrong of me.
I forgot all about the will of God. I will not go again, Margaret.
Do you think I may try again to fight him?"
"That is just what you must do. All that God requires of
you is, to try again. God's child must be free. Do try, dear
Miss Cameron."
"I think I could, if you would call me Euphra. You are so
strong, and pure, and good, Margaret! I wish I had never had
any thoughts but such as you have, you beautiful creature!
Oh, how glad I am that you found me! Do watch me
always."
"I will call you Euphra. I will be your sister-servant — anything
you like, if you will only try again."
"Thank you, with all my troubled heart, dear Margaret. I
will indeed try again."
She sprang from the couch in a sudden agony, and grasping
Margaret by the arm, looked at her with such a terror-stricken
face, that she began to fear she was losing her reason.
"Margaret," she said, as if with the voice as of one just raised
from the dead, speaking with all the charnel damps in her throat,
"could it be that I am in love with him still?"
Margaret shuddered, but did not lose her self-possession.
"No, no, Euphra, darling. You were haunted with him, and
so tired that you were not able to hate him any longer. Then
you began to give way to him. That was all. There was no
love in that."
Euphra's grasp relaxed.
"Do you think so?"
"Yes."
A pause followed.
"Do you think God cares to have me do his will? Is it anything
to him?"
"I am sure of it. Why did he make you else? But it is
not for the sake of being obeyed that he cares for it, but for the
sake of serving you and making you blessed with his blessedness.
He does not think about himself, but about you."
"Oh, dear! oh, dear! I must not go."
"Let me read to you again, Euphra."
"Yes, please do, Margaret."
She read the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, one of her father's
favourite chapters, where all the strength and knowledge of God
are urged to a height, that they may fall in overwhelming profusion
upon the wants and fears and unbelief of his children.
How should he that calleth the stars by their names forget his
people?
While she read, the cloud melted away from Euphra's face;
a sweet sleep followed; and the paroxysm was over for the
time.
Was Euphra insane? and were these the first accesses of daily
fits of madness, which had been growing and approaching for
who could tell how long?
Even if she were mad, or going mad, was not this the right
way to treat her? I wonder how often the spiritual cure of faith
in the Son of Man, the Great Healer, has been tried on those
possessed with our modern demons. Is it proved that insanity has
its origin in the physical disorder which, it is now said, can be
shown to accompany it invariably? Let it be so: it yet appears
to me that if the physician would, like the Son of Man himself,
descend as it were into the disorganized world in which the consciousness
of his patient exists, and receiving as fact all that he
reveals to him of its condition — for fact it is, of a very real sort
— introduce, by all the means that sympathy can suggest, the
one central cure for evil, spiritual and material, namely, the
truth of the Son of Man, the vision of the perfect friend and
helper, with the revelation of the promised liberty of obedience
— if he did this, it seems to me that cures might still be wrought
as marvellous as those of the ancient time.
It seems to me, too, that that can be but an imperfect religion,
as it would be a poor salvation, from which one corner of
darkness may hide us; from whose blessed health and freedom
a disordered brain may snatch us; making us hopeless outcasts,
till first the physician, the student of physical laws, shall interfere
and restore us to a sound mind, or the great God's-angel
Death crumble the soul-oppressing brain, with its thousand
phantoms of pain and fear and horror, into a film of dust in the
hollow of the deserted skull.
Hugh repaired immediately to Falconer's chambers, where he
was more likely to find him during the day than in the evening.
He was at home. He told him of his interview with Euphra,
and her feeling that the count was not far off.
"Do you think there can be anything in it?" asked he,
when be had finished his relation.
"I think very likely," answered his friend. "I will be more
on the outlook than ever. It may, after all, be through the
lady herself that we shall find the villain. If she were to fall
into one of her trances, now, I think it almost certain she
would go to him. She ought to be carefully watched and followed,
if that should take place. Let me know all that you
learn about her. Go and see her again to-morrow, that we may
be kept informed of her experiences, so far as she thinks proper
to tell them."
"I will," said Hugh, and took his leave.
But Margaret, who knew Euphra's condition, both spiritual
and physical, better than any other, had far different objects for
her, through means of the unholy attraction which the count
exercised over her, than the discovery of the stolen ring. She
was determined that neither sleeping nor waking should she
follow his call, or dance to his piping. She should resist to the
last, in the name of God, and so redeem her lost will from the
power of this devil, to whom she had foolishly sold it.
The next day, the struggle evidently continued; and it had
such an effect on Euphra, that Margaret could not help
feeling very anxious about the result as regarded her health,
even if she should be victorious in the contest. But not for
one moment did Margaret quail; for she felt convinced, come
of it what might, that the only hope for Euphra lay in resistance.
Death, to her mind, was simply nothing in the balance
with slavery of such a sort.
Once — but evidently in a fit of absence — Euphra rose, went
to the door, and opened it. But she instantly dashed it to
again, and walking slowly back, resumed her seat on the couch.
Margaret came to her from the other side of the bed, where she
had been working by the window, for the last quarter of an
hour, for the sake of the waning light.
"What is it, dear?" she said.
"Oh, Margaret! are you there? I did not know you were
in the room. I found myself at the door before I knew what I
was doing."
"But you came back of yourself this time."
"Yes I did. But I still feel inclined to go."
"There is no sin in that, so long as you do not encourage the
feeling, or yield to it."
"I hate it."
"You will soon be free from it. Keep on courageously, dear
sister. You will be in liberty and joy soon."
"God grant it."
"He will, Euphra. I am sure he will."
"I am sure you know, or you would not say it."
A knock came to the street door. Euphra started, and sat in
the attitude of a fearful listener. A message was presently
brought her, that Mr. Sutherland was in the drawing-room,
and wished to see her.
Euphra rose immediately, and went to him. Margaret, who
did not quite feel that she could be trusted yet, removed to a
room behind the drawing-room, whence she could see Euphra
if she passed to go down stairs.
Hugh asked her if she could tell him anything more about
Count Halkar.
"Only," she answered, "that I am still surer of his being
near me."
"How do you know it?"
"I need not mind telling you, for I have told you before that
he has a kind of supernatural power over me. I know it by his
drawing me towards him. It is true I might feel it just the
same whether he was in America or in London; but I do not
think he would care to do it, if he were so far off. I know him
well enough to know that he would not wish for me except for
some immediate advantage to himself."
"But what is the use of his doing so, when you don't know
where he is to be found."
"I should go straight to him, without knowing where I was
going."
Hugh rose in haste.
"Put on your bonnet and cloak, and come with me. I will
take care of you. Lead me to him, and the ring shall soon be
in your hands again."
Euphra hesitated, half rose, but sat down immediately.
"No, no! Not for worlds," she said. "Do not tempt me.
I must not — I dare not — I will not go."
"But I shall be with you. I will take care of you. Don't
you think I am able, Euphra?"
"Oh, yes! quite able. But I must not go anywhere at that
man's bidding."
"But it won't be at his bidding: it will be at mine."
"Ah! that alters the case rather, does it not? I wonder
what Margaret would say."
"Margaret! What Margaret?" said Hugh.
"Oh! my new maid," answered Euphra, recollecting herself.
"Not being well at present, she is my nurse."
"We shall take a cab as soon as we get to the corner."
"I don't think the count would be able to guide the horse,"
said Euphra, with a smile. "I must walk. But I should like to
go. I will. It would be such a victory to catch him in his
own toils."
She rose and ran up stairs. In a few minutes she came
down again, cloaked and veiled. But Margaret met her as
she descended, and leading her into the back drawing-room,
said:
"Are you going, Euphra?"
"Yes; but I am going with Mr. Sutherland," answered
Euphra, in a defensive tone. "It is to please him, and not to
obey the count."
"Are you sure it is all to please Mr. Sutherland? If it were,
I don't think you would be able to guide him right. Is it not
to get rid of your suffering by yielding to temptation, Euphra
At all events, if you go, even should Mr. Sutherland be successful
with him, you will never feel that you have overcome
him, or he, that he has lost you. He will still hold you fast.
Don't go. I am sure you are deceiving yourself."
Euphra stood for a moment, and pouted like a naughty child.
Then suddenly throwing her arms about Margaret's neck, she
kissed her, and said:
"I won't go, Margaret. Here, take my things up stairs for
me."
She threw off her bonnet and cloak, and rejoined Hugh in
the drawing-room.
"I can't go," she said. "I must not go. I should be yielding
to him, and it would make a slave of me all my life."
"It is our only chance for the ring," said Hugh.
Again Euphra hesitated and wavered; but again she conquered.

"I cannot help it," she said. "I would rather not have the
ring than go — if you will forgive me."
"Oh, Euphra!" replied Hugh. "You know it is not for
myself"
"I do know it. You won't mind then if I don't go?"
"Certainly not, if you have made up your mind. You must
have a good reason for it."
"Indeed I have." And even already she felt that resistance
brought its own reward.
Hugh went almost immediately, in order to make his report
to Falconer, with whom he had an appointment for the purpose.

"She is quite right," said Falconer. "I do not think, in the
relation in which she stands to him, that she could safely do
otherwise. But it seems to me very likely that this will turn
out well for our plans, too. Let her persist, and in all probability
he will not only have to resign her perforce, but will so
far make himself subject to her in turn, as to seek her who will
not go to him. He will pull upon his own rope till he is drawn
to the spot where he has fixed it. What remains for you and
me to do, is to keep a close watch on the house and neighbourhood.
Most likely we shall find the villain before long."
"Do you really think so?"
"The whole affair is mysterious, and has to do with laws with
which we are most imperfectly acquainted; but this seems to me
a presumption worth acting upon. Is there no one in the house
on whom you could depend for assistance — for information, at
least?"
"Yes. There is the same old servant that Mrs. Elton had
with her at Arnstead. He is a steady old fellow, and has been
very friendly with me."
"Well, what I would advise is, that you should find yourself
quarters as near the spot as possible; and, besides keeping as
much of a personal guard upon the house as you can, engage the
servant you mention to let you know, the moment the count
makes his appearance. It will probably be towards night when
he calls, for such a man may have reasons as well as instincts to
make him love the darkness rather than the light. You had
better go at once; and when you have found a place, leave or
send the address here to me, and towards night-fall I will join
you. But we may have to watch for several days. We must
not be too sanguine."
Almost without a word, Hugh went to do as Falconer said.
The only place he could find suitable, was a public-house at the
corner of a back street, where the men-servants of the neighbourhood
used to resort. He succeeded in securing a private room
in it, for a week, and immediately sent Falconer word of his
locality. He then called a second time at Mrs. Elton's, and
asked to see the butler. When he came:
"Irwan," said he, "has Herr von Funkelstein called here
to-day?"
"No, sir, he has not."
"You would know him, would you not?"
"Yes, sir; perfectly."
"Well, if he should call tonight, or to-morrow, or any time
within the next few days, let me know the moment he is in the
house. You will find me at the Golden Staff, round the corner.
It is of the utmost importance that I should see him at once. But
do not let him know that any one wants to see him. You shall
not repent helping me in this affair. I know I can trust
you."
Hugh had fixed him with his eyes, before he began to explain
his wishes. He had found out that this was the best way of
securing attention from inferior natures, and that it was especially
necessary with London servants; for their superciliousness
is cowed by it, and the superior will brought to bear upon
theirs. It is the only way a man without a carriage has to
command attention from such. Irwan was not one of this sort.
He was a country servant, for one difference. But Hugh made
his address as impressive as possible.
"I will with pleasure, sir," answered Irwan, and Hugh felt
tolerably sure of him.
Falconer came. They ordered some supper, and sat till
eleven o'clock. There being then no chance of a summons, they
went out together. Passing the house, they saw light in one
upper window only. That light would burn there all night, for
it was in Euphra's room. They went on, Hugh accompanying
Falconer in one of his midnight walks through London, as he
had done repeatedly before. From such companionship and the
scenes to which Falconer introduced him, he had gathered this
fruit, that he began to believe in God for the sake of the
wretched men and women he saw in the world. At first it was
his own pain at the sight of such misery that drove him, for
consolation, to hope in God; so, at first, it was for his own sake.
But as he saw more of them, and grew to love them more, he
felt that the only hope for them lay in the love of God; and he
hoped in God for them. He saw too that a God not both
humanly and absolutely divine, a God less than that God
shadowed forth in the Redeemer of men, would not do. But
thinking about God thus, and hoping in him for his brothers
and sisters, he began to love God. Then, last of all, that he
might see in him one to whom he could abandon everything,
that he might see him perfect and all in all and as he must be
— for the sake of God himself, he believed in him as the Saviour
of these his sinful and suffering kin.
As early as was at all excusable, the following morning, he
called on Euphra. The butler said that she had not come down
yet, but he would send up his name. A message was brought
back that Miss Cameron was sorry not to see him, but she had
had a bad night, and was quite unable to get up. Irwan replied
to his inquiry, that the count had not called. Hugh withdrew
to the Golden Staff.
A bad night it had been indeed. As Euphra slept well the
first part of it, and had no attack such as she had had upon
both the preceding nights, Margaret had hoped the worst was
over. Still she laid herself only within the threshold of sleep,
ready to wake at the least motion.
In the middle of the night she felt Euphra move. She lay
still to see what she would do. Euphra slipped out of bed, and
partly dressed herself; then went to her wardrobe, and put on a
cloak with a large hood, which she drew over her head. Margaret
lay with a dreadful aching at her heart. Euphra went
towards the door. Margaret called her, but she made no answer.
Margaret flew to the door, and reached it before her. Then, to
her intense delight, she saw that Euphra's eyes were closed.
Just as she laid her hand on the door, Margaret took her gently
in her arms.
"Let me go, let me go!" Euphra almost screamed. Then
suddenly opening her eyes, she stared at Margaret in a bewildered
fashion, like one waking from the dead.
"Euphra! dear Euphra!" said Margaret.
"Oh, Margaret! is it really you?" exclaimed Euphra, flinging
her arms about her. "Oh, I am glad. Ah! you see what
I must have been about. I suppose I knew when I was doing
it, but I don't know now. I have forgotten all about it. Oh
dear! oh dear! I thought it would come to this."
"Come to bed, dear. You couldn't help it. It was not
yourself. There is not more than half of you awake, when you
walk in your sleep."
They went to bed. Euphra crept close to Margaret, and
cried herself asleep again. The next day she had a bad headache.
This with her always followed somnambulation. She
did not get up all that day. When Hugh called again in the
evening, he heard she was better, but still in bed.
Falconer joined Hugh at the Golden Staff, at night; but they
had no better success than before. Falconer went out alone,
for Hugh wanted to keep himself fresh. Though very strong,
he was younger and less hardened than Falconer, who could
stand an incredible amount of labour and lack of sleep. Hugh
would have given way under the half.
CHAPTER XVIII.
VICTORY
O my admired mistress, quench not out
The holy fires within you, though temptations
Shower down upon you: clasp thine armour on;
Fight well, and thou shalt see, after these wars,
Thy head wear sunbeams, and thy feet touch stars.
MASSINGER. — The Virgin Martyr.
BUT Hugh could sleep no more than if he had been out with
Falconer. He was as restless as a wild beast in a cage. Something
would not let him be at peace. So he rose, dressed, and
went out. As soon as he turned the corner, he could see Mrs.
Elton's house. It was visible both by intermittent moonlight
above, and by flickering gaslight below, for the wind blew rather
strong. There was snow in the air, he knew. The light they
had observed last night, was burning now. A moment served
to make these observations; and then Hugh's eyes were arrested
by the sight of something else — a man walking up and down
the pavement in front of Mrs. Elton's house. He instantly
stepped into the shadow of a porch to watch him. The figure
might be the count's; it might not; he could not be sure.
Every now and then the man looked up to the windows. At
length he stopped right under the lighted one, and looked up.
Hugh was on the point of gliding out, that he might get as
near him as possible before rushing on him, when, at the moment,
to his great mortification, a policeman emerged from some
mysterious corner, and the figure instantly vanished in another.
Hugh did not pursue him; because it would be to set all on a
single chance, and that a poor one; for if the count, should it
be he, succeeded in escaping, he would not return to a spot
which he knew to be watched. Hugh, therefore, withdrew once
more under a porch, and waited. But, whatever might be the
cause, the man made his appearance no more. Hugh contrived
to keep watch for two hours, in spite of suspicious policemen.
He slept late into the following morning.
Calling at Mrs. Elton's, he learned that the count had not
been there; that Miss Cameron had been very ill all night; but
that she was rather better since the morning.
That night, as the preceding, Margaret had awaked suddenly.
Euphra was not in the bed beside her. She started up in an
agony of terror; but it was soon allayed, though not removed.
She saw Euphra on her knees at the foot of the bed, an old--
fashioned four-post one. She had her arms twined round one of
the bed-posts, and her head thrown back, as if some one were
pulling her backwards by her hair, which fell over her nightdress
to the floor in thick, black masses. Her eyes were closed;
her face was death-like, almost livid; and the cold dews of torture
were rolling down from brow to chin. Her lips were
moving convulsively, with now and then the appearance of an
attempt at articulation, as if they were set in motion by an
agony of inward prayer. Margaret, unable to move, watched
her with anxious sympathy and fearful expectation. How long
this lasted she could not tell, but it seemed a long time. At
length Margaret rose, and longing to have some share in the
struggle, however small, went softly, and stood behind her,
shadowing her from a feeble ray of moonlight which, through a
wind-rent cloud, had stolen into the room, and lay upon her
upturned face. There she lifted up her heart in prayer. In a
moment after the tension of Euphra's countenance relaxed a
little; composure slowly followed; her head gradually rose, so
that Margaret could see her face no longer; then, as gradually,
drooped forward. Next her arms untwined themselves from the
bed-post, and her hands clasped themselves together. She
looked like one praying in the intense silence of absorbing devotion.
Margaret stood still as a statue.
In speaking about it afterwards to Hugh, Margaret told him
that she distinctly remembered hearing, while she stood, the
measured steps of a policeman pass the house on the pavement
below.
In a few minutes Euphra bowed her head yet lower, and then
rose to her feet. She turned round towards Margaret, as if she
knew she was there. To Margaret's astonishment, her eyes were
wide open. She smiled a most child-like, peaceful, happy smile,
and said:
"It is over, Margaret, all over at last. Thank you, with my
whole heart. God has helped me."
At that moment, the moon shone out full, and her face
appeared in its light like the face of an angel. Margaret looked
on her with awe. Fear, distress, and doubt had vanished, and
she was already beautiful like the blessed. Margaret got a
handkerchief, and wiped the cold damps from her face. Then
she helped her into bed, where she fell asleep almost instantly,
and slept like a child. Now and then she moaned; but when
Margaret looked at her, she saw the smile still upon her countenance.

She woke weak and worn, but happy.
"I shall not trouble you to-day, Margaret, dear," said she.
"I shall not get up yet, but you will not need to watch me. A
great change has passed upon me. I am free. I have overcome
him. He may do as he pleases now. I do not care. I defy him.
I got up last night in my sleep, but I remember all about it; and,
although I was asleep, and felt powerless like a corpse, I resisted
him, even when I thought he was dragging me away by bodily
force. And I resisted him, till he left me alone. Thank God!"
It had been a terrible struggle, but she had overcome. Nor
was this all: she would no more lead two lives, the waking and
the sleeping. Her waking will and conscience had asserted
themselves in her sleeping acts; and the memory of the somnambulist
lived still in the waking woman. Hence her two
lives were blended into one life; and she was no more two, but'
one. This indicated a mighty growth of individual being.
"I woke without terror," she went on to say. "I always
used to wake from such a sleep in an agony of unknown fear.
I do not think I shall ever walk in my sleep again."
Is not salvation the uniting of all our nature into one harmonious
whole — God first in us, ourselves last, and all in due
order between? Something very much analogous to the change
in Euphra takes place in a man when he first learns that his
beliefs must become acts; that his religious life and his human
life are one; that he must do the thing that he admires. The
Ideal is the only absolute Real; and it must become the Real
in the individual life as well, however impossible they may count
it who never try it, or who do not trust in God to effect it, when
they find themselves baffled in the attempt.
In the afternoon. Euphra fell asleep, and when she woke,
seemed better. She said to Margaret:
"Can it be that it was all a dream, Margaret? I mean my
association with that dreadful man. I feel as if it were only
some horrid dream, and that I could never have had anything
to do with him. I may have been out of my mind, you know,
and have told you things which I believed firmly enough then,
but which never really took place. It could not have been me,
Margaret, could it?"
"Not your real, true, best self, dear."
"I have been a dreadful creature, Margaret. But I feel that
all that has melted away from me, and gone behind the sunset,
which will for ever stand, in all its glory and loveliness, between
me and it, an impassable rampart of defence."
Her words sounded strange and excited, but her eye and her
pulse were calm.
"How could he ever have had that hateful power over me?"
"Don't think any more about him, dear, but enjoy the rest
God has given you."
"I will, I will."
At that moment, a maid came to the door, with Funkelstein's
card for Miss Cameron.
"Very well," said Margaret; "ask him to wait. I will tell
Miss Cameron. She may wish to send him a message. You
may go."
She told Euphra that the count was in the house. Euphra
showed no surprise, no fear, no annoyance.
"Will you see him for me, Margaret, if you don't mind; and
tell him from me, that I defy him; that I do not hate him,
only because I despise and forget him; that I challenge him to
do his worst."
She had forgotten all about the ring. But Margaret had
not.
"I will," said she, and left the room.
On her way down, she went into the drawing-room, and rang
the bell.
"Send Mr. Irwan to me here, please. It is for Miss Cameron."
The man went, but presently returned, saying that the butler
had just stepped out.
"Very well. You will do just as well. When the gentleman
leaves who is calling now, you must follow him. Take a cab, if
necessary, and follow him everywhere, till you find where he
stops for the night. Watch the place, and send me word where
you are. But don't let him know. Put on plain clothes, please,
as fast as you can."
"Yes, Miss, directly."
The servants all called Margaret, Miss.
She lingered yet a little, to give the man time. She was not
at all satisfied with her plan, but she could think of nothing
better. Happily, it was not necessary. Irwan had run as fast
as his old legs would carry him to the Golden Staff. Hugh
received the news with delight. His heart seemed to leap into
his throat, and he felt just as he did, when, deer-stalking for the
first time, he tried to take aim at a great red stag.
"I shall wait for him outside the door. We must have no
noise in the house. He is a thief, or worse, Irwan."
"Good gracious! And there's the plate all laid out for
dinner on the sideboard!" exclaimed Irwan, and hurried off
faster than he had come.
But Hugh was standing at the door long before Irwan got up
to it. Had Margaret known who was watching outside, it would
have been a wonderful relief to her.
She entered the dining-room, where the count stood impatient.
He advanced quickly, acting on his expectation of Euphra, but
seeing his mistake, stopped, and bowed politely. Margaret told
him that Miss Cameron was ill, and gave him her message,
word for word. The count turned pale with mortification and
rage. He bit his lip, made no reply, and walked out into the
hall, where Irwan stood with the handle of the door in his hand,
impatient to open it. No sooner was he out of the house, than
Hugh sprang upon him; but the count, who had been perfectly
upon his guard, eluded him, and darted off down the street.
Hugh pursued at full speed, mortified at his escape. He had
no fear at first of overtaking him, for he had found few men his
equals in speed and endurance; but he soon saw, to his dismay,
that the count was increasing the distance between them, and
feared that, by a sudden turn into some labyrinth, he might
escape him altogether. They passed the Golden Staff at full
speed, and at the next corner Hugh discovered what gave the
count the advantage: it was his agility and recklessness in
turning corners. But, like the sorcerer's impunity, they failed
him at last; for, at the next turn, he ran full upon Falconer,
who staggered back, while the count reeled and fell. Hugh was
upon him in a moment. "Help!" roared the count, for a last
chance from the sympathies of a gathering crowd.
"I've got him!" cried Hugh.
"Let the man alone," growled a burly fellow in the crowd,
with his fists clenched in his trowser-pockets.
"Let me have a look at him," said Falconer, stooping over
him. "Ah! I don't know him. That's as well for him. Let
him up, Sutherland."
The bystanders took Falconer for a detective, and did not
seem inclined to interfere, all except the carman before mentioned.
He came up, pushing the crowd right and left.
"Let the man alone," said he, in a very offensive tone.
"I assure you," said Falconer, "he's not worth your trouble;
for —"
"None o' your cursed jaw!" said the fellow, in a louder
and deeper growl, approaching Falconer with a threatening
mien.
"Well, I can't help it," said Falconer, as if to himself.
"Sutherland, look after the count."
"That I will," said Hugh, confidently.
Falconer turned on the carman, who was just on the point of
closing with him, preferring that mode of fighting; and saying
only: "Defend yourself," retreated a step. The man was good
at his fists too, and, having failed in his first attempt, made the
best use of them he could. But he had no chance with Falconer,
whose coolness equalled his skill.
Meantime, the Bohemian had been watching his chance; and
although the contest certainly did not last longer than one
minute, found opportunity, in the middle of it, to wrench himself
free from Hugh, trip him up, and dart off. The crowd gave
way before him. He vanished so suddenly and completely, that
it was evident he must have studied the neighbourhood from
the retreat side of the question. With rat-like instinct, he had
consulted the holes and corners in anticipation of the necessity
of applying to them. Hugh got up, and, directed, or possibly
misdirected by the bystanders, sped away in pursuit; but he
could hear or see nothing of the fugitive.
At the end of the minute, the carman lay in the road.
"Look after him, somebody," said Falconer.
"No fear of him, sir; he's used to it," answered one of the
bystanders, with the respect which Falconer's prowess claimed.
Falconer walked after Hugh, who soon returned, looking
excessively mortified, and feeling very small indeed.
"Never mind, Sutherland," said he. "The fellow is up to a
trick or two; but we shall catch him yet. If it hadn't been for
that big fool there — but he's punished enough."
"But what can we do next? He will not come here again."
"Very likely not. Still he may not give up his attempts upon
Miss Cameron. I almost wonder, seeing she is so impressible,
that she can give no account of his whereabouts. But I presume
clairvoyance depends on the presence of other qualifications
as well. I should like to mesmerize her myself, and see whether
she could not help us then."
"Well, why not, if you have the power?"
"Because I have made up my mind not to superinduce any
condition of whose laws I am so very partially informed. Besides,
I consider it a condition of disease in which, as by sleeplessness
for instance, the senses of the soul, if you will allow the
expression, are, for its present state, rendered unnaturally acute.
To induce such a condition, I dare not exercise a power which
itself I do not understand."
CHAPTER XIX.
MARGARET.
For though that ever virtuous was she,
She was increased in such excellence,
Of thewes good, yset in high bounté,
And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
So benign, and so digne of reverence,
And couthé so the poeple's hert embrace,
That each her loveth that looketh in her face.
CHAUCER. — The Clerk's Tale.
HUGH returned to Mrs. Elton's, and, in the dining-room, wrote
a note to Euphra, to express his disappointment, and shame
that, after all, the count had foiled him; but, at the same time,
his determination not to abandon the quest, till there was no
room for hope left. He sent this up to her, and waited, thinking
that she might be on the sofa, and might send for him. A
little weary from the reaction of the excitement he had just gone
through, he sat down in the corner farthest from the door. The
large room was dimly lighted by one untrimmed lamp.
He sat for some time, thinking that Euphra was writing him
a note, or perhaps preparing herself to see him in her room.
Involuntarily he looked up, and a sudden pang, as at the vision
of the disembodied, shot through his heart. A dim form stood
in the middle of the room, gazing earnestly at him. He saw
the same face which he had seen for a moment in the library at
Arnstead — the glorified face of Margaret Elginbrod,
faintly in the dull light. Instinctively he pressed his hands
together, palm to palm, as if he had been about to kneel before
Madonna herself. Delight, mingled with hope, and tempered
by shame, flushed his face. Ghost or none, she brought no fear
with her, only awe.
She stood still.
"Margaret!" he said, with trembling voice.
"Mr. Sutherland!" she responded, sweetly.
"Are you a ghost, Margaret?"
She smiled as if she were all spirit, and, advancing slowly,
took his joined hands in both of hers.
"Forgive me, Margaret," sighed he, as if with his last
breath, and burst into an agony of tears.
She waited motionless, till his passion should subside, still
holding his hands. He felt that her hands were so good.
"He is dead!" said Hugh, at last, with an effort, followed by
a fresh outburst of weeping.
"Yes, he is dead," rejoined Margaret, calmly. "You would
not weep so if you had seen him die as I did — die with a smile
like a summer sunset. Indeed, it was the sunset to me; but
the moon has been up for a long time now."
She sighed a gentle, painless sigh, and smiled again like a
saint. She spoke nearly as Scotch as ever in tone, though the
words and pronunciation were almost pure English. — This lapse
into so much of the old form, or rather garment, of speech,
constantly recurred, as often as her feelings were moved, and
especially when she talked to children.
"Forgive me," said Hugh, once more.
"We are the same as in the old days," answered Margaret;
and Hugh was satisfied.
"How do you come to be here?" said Hugh, at last, after a
silence.
"I will tell you all about that another time. Now I must
give you Miss Cameron's message. She is very sorry she cannot
see you, but she is quite unable. Indeed, she is not out of
bed. But if you could call to-morrow morning, she hopes to be
better and to be able to see you. She says she can never thank
you enough."
The lamp burned yet fainter. Margaret went, and proceeded
to trim it. The virgins that arose must have looked very
lovely, trimming their lamps. It is a deed very fair and
womanly — the best for a woman — to make the lamp burn.
The light shone up in her face, and the hands removing the
globe handled it delicately. He saw that the good hands. were
very beautiful hands; not small, but admirably shaped, and
very pure. As she replaced the globe, —
"That man," she said, "will not trouble her any more."
"I hope not," said Hugh; "but you speak confidently:
why?"
"Because she has behaved gloriously. She has fought and
conquered him on his own ground; and she is a free, beautiful,
and good creature of God for ever."
"You delight me," rejoined Hugh. "Another time, perhaps,
you will be able to tell me all about it."
"I hope so. I think she will not mind my telling you."
They bade each other good night; and Hugh went away
with a strange feeling, which he had never experienced before.
To compare great things with small, it was something like what
he had once felt in a dream, in which, digging in his father's
garden, he had found a perfect marble statue, young as life, and
yet old as the hills. To think of the girl he had first seen in
the drawing-room at Turriepuffit, idealizing herself into such a
creature as that, so grand, and yet so womanly! so lofty, and
yet so lovely; so strong, and yet so graceful!
Would that every woman believed in the ideal of herself,
and hoped for it as the will of God, not merely as the goal of
her own purest ambition! But even if the lower development
of the hope were all she possessed, it would yet be well; for
its inevitable failure would soon develope the higher and
triumphant hope.
He thought about her till he fell asleep, and dreamed about
her till he woke. Not for a moment, however, did he fancy he
was in love with her: the feeling was different from any he had
hitherto recognized as embodying that passion. It was the
recognition and consequent admiration of a beauty which everyone
who beheld it must recognize and admire; but mingled, in
his case, with old and precious memories, doubly dear now in
the increased earnestness of his nature and aspirations, and
with a deep personal interest from the fact that, however little,
he had yet contributed a portion of the vital food whereby the
gracious creature had become what she was.
In the so-called morning he went to Mrs. Elton's. Euphra
was expecting his visit, and he was shown up into her room,
where she was lying on a couch by the fire. She received him
with the warmth of gratitude added to that of friendship. Her
face was pale and thin, but her eyes were brilliant. She did
not appear at first sight to be very ill: but the depth and
reality of her sickness grew upon him. Behind her couch stood
Margaret, like a guardian angel. Margaret could bear the day,
for she belonged to it; and therefore she looked more beautiful
still than by the lamp-light. Euphra held out a pale little hand to
Hugh, and before she withdrew it, led Hugh's towards Margaret.
Their hands joined. How different to Hugh was the touch of
the two hands! Life, strength, persistency in the one: languor,
feebleness, and fading in the other.
"I can never thank you enough," said Euphra; "therefore I
will not try. It is no bondage to remain your debtor."
"That would be thanks indeed, if I had done anything."
"I have found out another mystery," Euphra resumed, after
a pause.
"I am sorry to hear it," answered he. "I fear there will be
no mysteries left by-and-by."
"No fear of that," she rejoined, "so long as the angels come
down to men." And she turned towards Margaret as she
spoke.
Margaret smiled. In the compliment she felt only the
kindness.
Hugh looked at her. She turned away, and found something
to do at the other side of the room.
"What mystery, then, have you destroyed?"
"Not destroyed it; for the mystery of courage remains. I
was the wicked ghost that night in the Ghost's Walk, you know
— the white one: there is the good ghost, the nun, the black
one."
"Who? Margaret?"
"Yes, indeed. She has just been confessing it to me. I had
my two angels, as one whose fate was undetermined; my evil
angel in the count — my good angel in Margaret. Little did I
think then that the holy powers were watching me in her. I
knew the evil one; I knew nothing of the good. I suppose it
is so with a great many people."
Hugh sat silent in astonishment. Margaret, then, had been
at Arnstead with Mrs. Elton all the time. It was herself he
had seen in the study.
"Did you suspect me, Margaret?" resumed Euphra, turning
towards her where she sat at the window.
"Not in the least. I only knew that something was wrong
about the house; that some being was terrifying the servants,
and poor Harry; and I resolved to do my best to meet it,
especially if it should be anything of a ghostly kind."
"Then you do believe in such appearances?" said Hugh.
"I have never met anything of the sort yet. I don't
know."
"And you were not afraid?"
"Not much. I am never really afraid of anything. Why
should I be?"
No justification of fear was suggested either by Hugh or by
Euphra. They felt the dignity of nature that lifted Margaret
above the region of fear.
"Come and see me again soon," said Euphra, as Hugh rose
to go.
He promised.
Next day he dined by invitation with Mrs. Elton and Harry.
Euphra was unable to see him, but sent a kind message by
Margaret as he was taking his leave. He had been fearing that
he should not see Margaret; and when she did appear he was
the more delighted; but the interview was necessarily short.
He called the next day, and saw neither Euphra nor Margaret.
She was no better. Mrs. Elton said the physicians could
discover no definite disease either of the lungs or of any other
organ. Yet life seemed sinking. Margaret thought that the
conflict which she had passed through, had exhausted her
vitality; that, had she yielded, she might have lived a slave;
but that now, perhaps, she must die a free woman.
Her continued illness made Hugh still more anxious to find
the ring, for he knew it would please her much. Falconer
would have applied to the police, but he feared that the man
would vanish from London, upon the least suspicion that he was
watched. They held many consultations on the subject.
CHAPTER XX.
A NEW GUIDE.
Das Denken ist nur ein Traum des Fühlens, ein erstorbenes Fühlen, ein
blass-graues, schwaches Leben.
Thinking is only a dream of feeling; a dead feeling; a pale-grey, feeble
life.
NOVALIS. — Die Lehrlinge zu Sais.
For where's no courage, there's no ruth nor mone.
Faerie Queene: vi. 7, 18.
ONE morning, as soon as she waked, Euphra said:
"Have I been still all the night, Margaret?"
"Quite still. Why do you ask?"
"Because I have had such a strange and vivid dream, that
feel as if I must have been to the place. It was a foolish
question, though; because, of course, you would not have let me
go."
"I hope it did not trouble you much."
"No, not much; for though I was with the count, I did not
seem to be there in the body at all, only somehow near him, and
seeing him. I can recall the place perfectly."
"Do you think it really was the place he was in at the
time?"
"I should not wonder. But now I feel so free, so far beyond
him and all his power, that I don't mind where or when I see
him. He cannot hurt me now."
"Could you describe the place to Mr. Sutherland? It might
help him to find the count."
"That's a good idea. Will you send for him?"
"Yes, certainly. May I tell him for what?"
"By all means."
Margaret wrote to Hugh at once, and sent the note by hand.
He was at home when it arrived. He hurriedly answered it,
and went to find Falconer. To his delight he was at home —
not out of bed, in fact.
"Read that."
"Who is it from?"
"Miss Cameron's maid."
"It does not look like a maid's production."
"It is though. Will you come with me? You know London
ten thousand times better than I do. I don't think we ought
to lose a chance."
"Certainly not. I will go with you. But perhaps she will
not see me."
"Oh! yes, she will, when I have told her about you."
"It will be rather a trial to see a stranger."
"A man cannot be a stranger with you ten minutes, if he
only looks at you; — still less a woman."
Falconer looked pleased, and smiled.
"I am glad you think so. Let us go."
When they arrived, Margaret came to them. Hugh told her
that Falconer was his best friend, and one who knew London
perhaps better than any other man in it. Margaret looked at
him full in the face for a moment. Falconer smiled at the
intensity of her still gaze. Margaret returned the smile, and said:
"I will ask Miss Cameron to see you."
"Thank you," was all Falconer's reply; but the tone was
more than speech.
After a little while, they were shown up to Euphra's room.
She had wanted to sit up, but Margaret would not let her; so
she was lying on her couch. When Falconer was presented to
her, he took her hand, and held it for a moment. A kind of
indescribable beam broke over his face, as if his spirit smiled
and the smile shone through without moving one of his features
as it passed. The tears stood in his eyes. To understand all
this look, one would need to know his history as I do. He
laid her hand gently on her bosom, and said: "God bless you!"
Euphra felt that God did bless her in the very words. She
had been looking at Falconer all the time. It was only fifteen
seconds or so; looking the outcome of a life was crowded into
Falconer's side of it; and the confidence of Euphra rose to meet
the faithfulness of a man of God. — What words those are! — A
man of God! Have I not written a revelation? Yes — to him
who can read it — yes.
"I know enough of your story, Miss Cameron," he said,
"to understand without any preface what you choose to
tell me."
Euphra began at once:
"I dreamed last night that I found myself outside the street
door. I did not know where I was going; but my feet seemed
to know. They carried me, round two or three corners, into a
wide, long street, which I think was Oxford-street. They carried
me on into London, far beyond any quarter I knew. All I can
tell further is, that I turned to the left beside a church, on the
steeple of which stood what I took for a wandering ghost just
lighted there; — only I ought to tell you, that frequently in my
dreams — always in my peculiar dreams — the more material and
solid and ordinary things are, the more thin and ghostly they
appear to me. Then I went on and on, turning left and
right too many times for me to remember, till at last I came
to a little, old-fashioned court, with two or three trees in it.
I had to go up a few steps to enter it. I was not afraid,
because I knew I was dreaming, and that my body was not there.
It is a great relief to feel that sometimes; for it is often very
much in the way. I opened a door, upon which the moon shone
very bright, and walked up two flights of stairs into a back
room. And there I found him, doing something at a table by
candlelight. He had a sheet of paper before him; but what he
was doing with it, I could not see. I tried hard; but it was of
no use. The dream suddenly faded, and I awoke, and found
Margaret — Then I knew I was safe," she added, with a loving
glance at her maid.
Falconer rose.
"I know the place you mean perfectly," he said. "It is too
peculiar to be mistaken. Last night, let me see, how did the
moon shine? — Yes. I shall be able to tell the very door, I
think, or almost."
"How kind of you not to laugh at me!"
"I might make a fool of myself if I laughed at any one. So
I generally avoid it. We may as well get the good out of what
we do not understand — or at least try if there be any in it.
Will you come, Sutherland?"
Hugh rose, and took his leave with Falconer.
"How pleased she seemed with you, Falconer!" said he, as
they left the house.
"Yes, she touched me."
"Won't you go and see her again?"
"No; there is no need, except she sends for me."
"It would please her — comfort her, I am sure."
"She has got one of God's angels beside her, Sutherland.
She doesn't want me."
What do you mean?"
"I mean that maid of hers."
A pang — of jealousy, was it? — shot through Hugh's heart.
How could he see — what right had he to see anything in
Margaret?
Hugh might have kept himself at peace, even if he had
loved Margaret as much as she deserved, which would have
been about ten times as much as he did. Is a man not to recognize
an angel when he sees her, and to call her by her name?
Had Hugh seen into the core of that grand heart — what form
sat there, and how — he would have been at peace — would
almost have fallen down to do the man homage. He was
silent.
"My dear fellow!" said Falconer, as if he divined his feeling
— for Falconer's power over men and women came all from
sympathy with their spirits, and not their nerves — "if you
have any hold of that woman, do not lose it; for as sure as
there's a sun in heaven, she is one of the winged ones. Don't I
know a woman when I see her!"
He sighed with a kind of involuntary sigh, which yet did not
seek to hide itself from Hugh.
"My dear boy," he added, laying a stress on the word, "— I
am nearly twice, your age — don't be jealous of me."
"Mr. Falconer," said Hugh, humbly, "forgive me. The
feeling was involuntary; and if you have detected in it more
than I was aware of, you are at least as likely to be right as I
am. But you cannot think more highly of Margaret than
I do."
And yet Hugh did not know half the good of her then, that
the reader does now.
"Well, we had better part now, and meet again at
night."
"What time shall I come to you?"
"Oh! about nine I think will do."
So Hugh went home, and tried to turn his thoughts to his
story; but Euphra, Falconer, Funkelstein, and Margaret persisted
in sitting to him, the one after the other, instead of the
heroes and heroines of his tale. He was compelled to lay it
aside, and betake himself to a stroll and a pipe.
As he went down stairs, he met Miss Talbot.
"You're soon tired of home, Mr. Sutherland. You haven't
been in above half an hour, and you're out again already."
"Why, you see, Miss Talbot, I want a pipe very much."
"Well, you ain't going to the public house to smoke it, are
you?"
"No," answered Hugh, laughing. "But you know, Miss
Talbot, you made it part of the agreement that I shouldn't
smoke indoors. So I'm going to smoke in the street."
"Now, think of being taken that way!" retorted Miss Talbot,
with an injured air. "Why, that was before I knew anything
about you. Go up stairs directly, and smoke your pipe;
and when the room can't hold any more, you can open the
windows. Your smoke won't do any harm, Mr. Sutherland.
But I'm very sorry you quarrelled with Mrs. Appleditch. She's
a hard woman, and over fond of her money and her drawing--
room; and for those boys of hers — the Lord have mercy on
them, for she has none! But she's a true Christian for all that,
and does a power of good among the poor people."
"What does she give them, Miss Talbot?"
"Oh! — she gives them — hm–m — tracts and things. You
know," she added, perceiving the weakness of her position,
"people's souls should come first. And poor Mrs. Appleditch —
you see — some folks is made stickier than others, and their
money sticks to them, somehow, that they can't part with it —
poor woman!"
To this Hugh had no answer at hand; for though Miss Talbot's
logic was more than questionable, her charity was perfectly
sound; and Hugh felt that he had not been forbearing enough
with the mother of the future pastors. So he went back to his
room, lighted his pipe, and smoked till he fell asleep over a
small volume of morbid modern divinity, which Miss Talbot
had lent him. I do not mention the name of the book, lest
some of my acquaintance should abuse me, and others it, more
than either deserves. Hugh, however, found the best refuge
from the diseased self-consciousness which it endeavoured to
rouse, and which is a kind of spiritual somnambulism, in an
hour of God's good sleep, into a means of which the book was
temporarily elevated. When he woke he found himself greatly
refreshed by the influence it had exercised upon him.
It was now the hour for the daily pretence of going to dine.
So he went out. But all he had was some bread, which he ate
as he walked about. Loitering here, and trifling there, passing
five minutes over a volume on every bookstall in Holborn, and
comparing the shapes of the meerschaums in every tobacconist's
window, time ambled gently along with him; and it struck nine
just as he found himself at Falconer's door.
"You are ready, then?" said Falconer.
"Quite."
"Will you take anything before you go? I think we had
better have some supper first. It is early for our project."
This was a welcome proposal to Hugh. Cold meat and ale
were excellent preparatives for what might be required of him;
for a tendency to collapse in a certain region, called by courtesy
the chest, is not favourable to deeds of valour. By the time he
had spent ten minutes in the discharge of the agreeable duty
suggested, he felt himself ready for anything that might fall to
his lot.
The friends set out together; and, under the guidance of the
two foremost bumps upon Falconer's forehead, soon arrived at the
place he judged to be that indicated by Euphra. It was very
different from the place Hugh had pictured to himself. Yet in
everything it corresponded to her description.
"Are we not great fools, Sutherland, to set out on such a
chase, with the dream of a sick girl for our only guide?"
"I am sure you don't think so, else you would not have
gone."
"I think we can afford the small risk to our reputation involved
in the chase of this same wild-goose. There is enough
of strange testimony about things of the sort to justify us in
attending to the hint. Besides, if we neglected it, it would be
mortifying to find out some day, perhaps a hundred years after
this, that it was a true hint. It is altogether different from
giving ourselves up to the pursuit of such things. — But this
ought to be the house," he added, going up to one that had a
rather more respectable look than the rest.
He knocked at the door. An elderly woman half opened it,
and looked at them suspiciously.
"Will you take my card to the foreign gentleman who is
lodging with you, and say I am happy to wait upon him?" said
Falconer.
She glanced at him again, and turned inwards, hesitating
whether to leave the door half-open or not. Falconer stood
so close to it, however, that she was afraid to shut it in his
face.
"Now, Sutherland, follow me," whispered Falconer, as soon
as the woman had disappeared on the stair.
Hugh followed behind the moving tower of his friend, who
strode with long, noiseless strides till he reached the stair. That
he took three steps at a time. They went up two flights, and
reached the top just as the woman was laying her hand on the
lock of the back-room door. She turned and faced them.
"Speak one word," said Falconer, in a hissing whisper,
"and —"
He completed the sentence by an awfully threatening gesture.
She drew back in terror, and yielded her place at the
door.
"Come in," bawled some one, in second answer to the knock
she had already given.
"It is he!" said Hugh, trembling with excitement.
"Hush!" said Falconer, and went in.
Hugh followed. He knew the back of the count at once. He
was seated at a table, apparently writing; but, going nearer,
they saw that he was drawing. A single closer glance showed
them the portrait of Euphra growing under his hand. In order
to intensify his will and concentrate it upon her, he was drawing
her portrait from memory. But at the moment they caught
sight of it, the wretch, aware of a hostile presence, sprang to his
feet, and reached the chimney-piece at one bound, whence he
caught up a sword.
"Take care, Falconer," cried Hugh; "that weapon is poisoned.
He is no every-day villain you have to deal with."
He remembered the cat.
Funkelstein made a sudden lunge at Hugh, his face pale with
hatred and anger. But a blow from Falconer's huge fist,
travelling faster than the point of his weapon, stretched him on
the floor. Such was Falconer's impetus, that it hurled both
him and the table across the fallen villain. Falconer was up in
a moment. Not so Funkelstein. There was plenty of time
for Hugh to secure the rapier, and for Falconer to secure its
owner, before he came to himself.
"Where's my ring?" said Hugh, the moment he opened his
eyes.
"Gentlemen, I protest," began Funkelstein, in a voice
upon which the cord that bound his wrists had an evident
influence.
"No chaff!" said Falconer. "We've got all our feathers.
Hand over the two rings, or be the security for them yourself."

"What witness have you against me?"
"The best of witnesses — Miss Cameron."
"And me," added Hugh.
"Gentlemen, I am very sorry. I yielded to temptation. I
meant to restore the diamond after the joke had been played
out, but I was forced to part with it."
"The joke is played out, you see," said Falconer. "So you
had better produce the other bauble you stole at the same
time."
"I have not got it."
"Come, come, that's too much. Nobody would give you
more than five shillings for it. And you knew what it was
worth when you took it. Sutherland, you stand over him while.
I search the room. This portrait may as well be put out of the
way first."
As he spoke, Falconer tore the portrait and threw it into the
fire. He then turned to a cupboard in the room. Whether it
was that Funkelstein feared further revelations, I do not know,
but he quailed.
"I have not got it," he repeated, however.
"You lie," answered Falconer.
"I would give it you if I could."
"You shall."
The Bohemian looked contemptible enough now, despite the
handsomeness of his features. It needed freedom, and the
absence of any urgency, to enable him to personate a gentleman.
Given those conditions, he succeeded. But as soon as he
was disturbed, the gloss vanished, and the true nature came out,
that of a ruffian and a sneak. He quite quivered at the look
with which Falconer turned again to the cupboard.
"Stop," he cried; "here it is."
And muttering what sounded like curses, he pulled out of his
bosom the ring, suspended from his neck.
"Sutherland," said Falconer, taking the ring, "secure that
rapier, and be careful with it. We will have its point tested.
Meantime," — here he turned again to his prisoner — "I give you
warning that the moment I leave this house, I go to Scotland
Yard. — Do you know the place? I there recommend the police
to look after you, and they will mind what I say. If you leave
London, a message will be sent, wherever you go, that you had
better be watched. My advice to you is, to stay where you are
as long as you can. I shall meet you again."
They left him on the floor, to the care of his landlady, whom
they found outside the room, speechless with terror.
As soon as they were in the square, on which the moon was
now shining, as it had shone in Euphra's dream the night before,
Falconer gave the ring to Hugh.
"Take it to a jeweller's, Sutherland, and get it cleaned, before
you give it to Miss Cameron."
"I will," answered Hugh, and added, "I don't know how to
thank you."
"Then don't," said Falconer, with a smile.
When they reached the end of the street, he turned, and bade
Hugh good night.
"Take care of that cowardly thing. It may be as you
say."
Hugh turned towards home. Falconer dived into a court,
and was out of sight in a moment.
CHAPTER XXI.
THE LAST GROAT.
Thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please.
Hamlet.
Most friends befriend themselves with friendship's show.
SOUTHWELL.
HUGH took the ring to Mrs. Elton's, and gave it into
Margaret's hand. She brought him back a message of warmest
thanks from Euphra. She had asked for writing materials at
once, and was now communicating the good news to Mr. Arnold,
in Madeira.
"I have never seen her look so happy," added Margaret.
"She hopes to be able to see you in the evening, if you would
not mind calling again."
Hugh did call, and saw her. She received him most kindly.
He was distressed to see how altered she was. The fire of one
life seemed dying out — flowing away and spending from her
eyes, which it illuminated with too much light as it passed out.
But the fire of another life, the immortal life, which lies in
thought and feeling, in truth and love divine, which death
cannot touch, because it is not of his kind, was growing as fast.
He sat with her for an hour, and then went.
This chapter of his own history concluded, Hugh returned
with fresh energy to his novel, and worked at it as his invention
gave him scope. There was the more necessity that he should
make progress, from the fact that, having sent his mother the
greater part of the salary he had received from Mr. Arnold, he
was now reduced to his last sovereign. Poverty looks rather
ugly when she comes so close as this. But she had not yet
accosted him; and with a sovereign in his pocket, and last
week's rent paid, a bachelor is certainly not poverty-stricken, at
least when he is as independent, not only of other people, but of
himself, as Hugh was. Still, without more money than that a
man walks in fetters, and is ready to forget that the various
restraints he is under are not incompatible with most honourable
freedom. So Hugh worked as hard as he could to finish his
novel, and succeeded within a week. Then the real anxiety
began. He carried it, with much doubtful hope, to one of the
principal publishing houses. Had he been more selfishly wise,
he would have put it into the hands of Falconer to negotiate
for him. But he thought he had given him quite trouble
enough already. So he went without an introduction even.
The manuscript was received politely, and attention was promised.
But a week passed, and another, and another. A
human soul was in commotion about the meat that perisheth —
and the manuscript lay all the time unread, — forgotten in a
drawer.
At length he reached his last coin. He had had no meat for
several days, except once that he dined at Mrs. Elton's. But
he would not borrow till absolutely compelled, and sixpence
would keep him alive another day. In the morning he had
some breakfast (for he knew his books were worth enough to
pay all he owed Miss Talbot), and then he wandered out.
Through the streets he paced and paced, looking in at all the
silversmiths' and printsellers' windows, and solacing his poverty
with a favourite amusement of his in uneasy circumstances, an
amusement cheap enough for a Scotchman reduced to his last
sixpence — castle-building. This is not altogether a bad employment
where hope has laid the foundation; but it is rather a
heartless one where the imagination has to draw the ground
plan as well as the elevations. The latter, however, was not
quite Hugh's condition yet. — He returned at night, carefully
avoiding the cook-shops and their kindred snares, with a silver
groat in his pocket still. But he crawled up stairs rather feebly,
it must be confessed, for a youth with limbs moulded in the
fashion of his.
He found a letter waiting him, from a friend of his mother,
informing him that she was dangerously ill, and urging him to
set off immediately for home. This was like the blast of fiery
breath from the dragon's maw, which overthrew the Red-cross
knight — but into the well of life, where all his wounds were
healed, and — and — well — board and lodging provided him
gratis.
When he had read the letter, he fell on his knees, and said
to his father in heaven: "What am I to do?"
There was no lake with golden pieces in its bottom, whence a
fish might bring him a coin. Nor in all the wide London lay
there one he could claim as his, but the groat in his pocket.
He rose with the simple resolution to go and tell Falconer.
He went. He was not at home. Emboldened by necessity,
Hugh left his card, with the words on it "Come to me; I
need you." He then returned, packed a few necessaries, and
sat down to wait. But he had not sat five minutes before Falconer
entered.
"What's the matter, Sutherland, my dear fellow? You
haven't pricked yourself with that skewer, have you?"
Hugh handed him the letter with one hand; and when he
had read it, held out the fourpenny piece in the other hand, to
be read likewise. Falconer understood at once.
"Sutherland," he said, in a tone of reproof, "it is a shame of
you to forget that men are brothers. Are not two who come
out of the heart of God, as closely related as if they had lain in
the womb of one mother? Why did you not tell me? You
have suffered — I am sure you have."
"I have — a little," Hugh confessed. "I am getting rather
low in fact. I haven't had quite enough to eat."
He said this to excuse the tears which Falconer's kindness —
not hunger — compelled from their cells.
"But," he added, "I would have come to you as soon as the
fourpence was gone; or at least, if I hadn't got another before
I was very hungry again."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed Falconer, half angrily. Then
pulling out his watch, "We have two hours," said he, "before a
train starts for the north. Come to my place."
Hugh rose and obeyed. Falconer's attendant soon brought
them a plentiful supper from a neighbouring shop; after which
Falconer got out one of his bottles of port, well known to his
more intimate friends; and Hugh thought no more about money
than if he had had his purse full. If it had not been for anxiety
about his mother, he would have been happier than he had ever
been in his life before. For, crossing in the night the wavering,
heaving morass of the world, had he not set his foot upon one
spot which did not shake; the summit, indeed, of a mighty
Plutonic rock, that went down widening away to the very centre
of the earth? As he sped along in the railway that night, the
prophecy of thousands of years came back: "A man shall be a
hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, the
shadow of a great rock in a weary land." And he thought it
would be a blessed time indeed, when this was just what a man
was. And then he thought of the Son of Man, who, by being
such first, was enabling all his friends to be such too. Of him
Falconer had already learned this "truth in the inward parts"
and had found, in the process of learning it, that this was the
true nature which God had made his from the first, no new
thing superinduced upon it. He had had but to clear awa they
rubbish of worldliness, which more or less buries the best natures
for a time, and so to find himself.
After Hugh had eaten and drunk, and thus once more experienced
the divinity that lay in food and wine, he went to take
leave of his friends at Mrs. Elton's. Like most invalids, Euphra
was better in the evening: she requested to see him. He found
her in bed, and much wasted since he saw her last. He could
not keep the tears from filling his eyes, for all the events of that
day had brought them near the surface.
"Do not cry, dear friend," she said sweetly. "There is no
room for me here any more, and I am sent for."
Hugh could not reply. She went on:
"I have written to Mr. Arnold about the ring, and all you
did to get it. Do you know he is going to marry Lady
Emily?"
Still Hugh could not answer.
Margaret stood on the other side of the bed, the graceful
embodiment of holy health, and in his sorrow, he could not help
feeling the beauty of her presence. Her lovely hands were the
servants of Euphra, and her light, firm feet moved only in ministration.
He felt that Euphra had room in the world while
Margaret waited on her. It is not house, and fire, and plenty
of servants, and all the things that money can procure, that
make a home — not father or mother or friends; but one heart
which will not be weary of helping, will not be offended with the
petulance of sickness, nor the ministrations needful to weakness:
this "entire affection hating nicer hands" will make a home of
a cave in a rock, or a gipsy's tent. This Euphra had in Margaret,
and Hugh saw it.
"I trust you will find your mother better, Hugh," said
Euphra.
"I fear not," answered he.
"Well, Margaret has been teaching me, and I think I have
learned it, that death is not at all such a dreadful thing as it
looks. I said to her: 'It is easy for you, Margaret, who are so
far from death's door.' But she told me that she had been all
but dead once, and that you had saved her life almost with your
own. Oh, Hugh! she is such a dear!"
Euphra smiled with ten times the fascination of any of her
old smiles; for the soul of the smile was love.
"I shall never see you again, I daresay," she went on. "My
heart thanks you, from its very depths, for your goodness to me.
It has been a thousand times more than I deserve."
Hugh kissed in silence the wasted hand held out to him in
adieu, and departed. And the world itself was a sad wandering star.
Falconer had called for him. They drove to Miss Talbot's
where Hugh got his 'bag of needments,' and bade his landlady
good-bye for a time. Falconer then accompanied him to the
railway.
Having left him for a moment, Falconer rejoined him, saying:
"I have your ticket;" and put him into a first-class carriage.
Hugh remonstrated. Falconer replied:
"I find this hulk of mine worth taking care of. You will be
twice the good to your mother, if you reach her tolerably
fresh."
He stood by the carriage door talking to him, till the train
started; walked alongside till it was fairly in motion; then,
bidding him good-bye, left in his hand a little packet, which
Hugh, opening it by the light of the lamp, found to consist
of a few sovereigns and a few shillings folded up in a twentypound-note.

I ought to tell one other little fact, however. Just before the
engine whistled, Falconer said to Hugh:
"Give me that fourpenny piece, you brave old fellow!"
"There it is," said Hugh. "What do you want it for?"
"I am going to make a wedding-present of it to your wife,
whoever she may happen to be. I hope she will be worthy of
it."
Hugh instantly thought within himself:
"What a wife Margaret would make to Falconer!"
The thought was followed by a pang, keen and clear.
Those who are in the habit of regarding the real and the
ideal as essentially and therefore irreconcileably opposed, will
remark that I cannot have drawn the representation of Falconer
faithfully. Perhaps the difficulty they will experience in recognizing
its truthfulness, may spring from the fact that they
themselves are un-ideal enough to belong to the not small class
of strong-minded friends whose chief care, in performing the
part of the rock in the weary land, is — not to shelter you imprudently.
They are afraid of weakening your constitution by
it, especially if it is not strong to begin with; so if they do just
take off the edge of the tempest with the sharp corners of their
sheltering rock for a moment, the next, they will thrust you
out into the rain, to get hardy and self-denying, by being wet
to the skin and well blown about.
The rich easily learn the wisdom of Solomon, but are unapt
scholars of him who is greater than Solomon. It is, on the
other hand, so easy for the poor to help each other, that they
have little merit in it: it is no virtue — only a beauty. But
there are a few rich, who, rivalling the poor in their own peculiar
excellences, enter into the kingdom of heaven in spite of
their riches; and then find that by means of their riches they
are made rulers over many cities. She to whose memory this
book is dedicated, is — I will not say was — one of the noblest of
such.
There are two ways of acconnting for the difficulty which a
reader may find in believing in such a character: either that,
not being poor, he has never needed such a friend; or that,
being rich, he has never been such a friend.
Or if it be that, being poor, he has never found such a friend;
his difficulty is easy to remove: — I have.
CHAPTER XXII.
DEATH.
Think then, my soul, that death is but a groom
Which brings a taper to the outward room,
Whence thou spy'st first a little glimmering light;
And after brings it nearer to thy sight:
For such approaches doth heaven make in death.
DR. DONNE.
HUGH found his mother even worse than he had expected;
but she rallied a little after his arrival.
In the evening, he wandered out in the bright moonlit snow.
How strange it was to see all the old forms with his heart so
full of new things! The same hills rose about him, with all
the lines of their shapes unchanged in seeming. Yet they were
changing as surely as himself; nay, he continued more the
same than they; for in him the old forms were folded up in the
new. In the eyes of Him who creates time, there is no rest, but
a living sacred change, a journeying towards rest. He alone
rests; and he alone, in virtue of his rest, creates change.
He thought with sadness, how all the haunts of his childhood
would pass to others, who would feel no love or reverence for
them; that the house would be the same, but sounding with
new steps, and ringing with new laughter. A little further
thought, however, soon satisfied him that places die as well as
their dwellers; that, by slow degrees, their forms are wiped
out; that the new tastes obliterate the old fashions; and that
ere long the very shape of the house and farm would be lapped,
as it were, about the tomb of him who had been the soul of the
shape, and would vanish from the face of the earth.
All the old things at home looked sad. The look came from
this, that, though he could sympathize with them and their story,
they could not sympathize with him, and he suffused them with
his own sadness. He could find no refuge in the past; he must
go on into the future.
His mother lingered for some time without any evident
change. He sat by her bedside the most of the day. All she
wanted was to have him within reach of her feeble voice, that
she might, when she pleased, draw him within touch of her
feeble hand. Once she said:
"My boy, I am going to your father."
"Yes, mother, I think you are," Hugh replied. "How glad
he will be to see you!"
"But I shall leave you alone."
"Mother, I love God."
The mother looked at him, as only a mother can look, smiled
sweetly, closed her eyes as with the weight of her contentment,
fell asleep holding his hand, and slept for hours.
Meanwhile, in London, Margaret was watching Euphra. She
was dying, and Margaret was the angel of life watching over
her.
"I shall get rid of my lameness there, Margaret, shall I
not?" said Euphra, one day, half playfully.
"Yes, dear."
"It will be delightful to walk again without pain."
"Perhaps you will not get rid of it all at once, though."
"Why do you think so?" asked Euphra, with some appearance
of uneasiness.
"Because, if it is taken from you before you are quite willing
to have it as long as God pleases, by and by you will not be
able to rest, till you have asked for it back again, that you may
bear it for his sake."
"I am willing, Margaret, I am willing. Only one can't like
it, you know."
"I know that," answered Margaret.
She spoke no more, and Margaret heard her weeping gently.
Half an hour had passed away, when she looked up, and said:
"Margaret, dear, I begin to like my lameness, I think."
"Why, dear?"
"Why, just because God made it, and bade me bear it. May
I not think it is a mark on me from his hand?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Why do you think it came on me?"
"To walk back to Him with, dear."
"Yes, yes; I see it all."
Until now, Margaret had not known to what a degree the
lameness of Euphra had troubled her. That her pretty ancle
should be deformed, and her light foot able only to limp, had
been a source of real distress to her, even in the midst of far
deeper.
The days passed on, and every day she grew weaker. She
did not suffer much, but nothing seemed to do her good. Mrs.
Elton was kindness itself. Harry was in dreadful distress. He
haunted her room, creeping in whenever he had a chance, and
sitting in corners out of the way. Euphra liked to have him
near her. She seldom spoke to him, or to any one but Margaret,
for Margaret alone could hear with ease what she said.
But now and then she would motion him to her bedside, and
say — it was always the same —
"Harry, dear, be good."
"I will; indeed I will, dear Euphra," was still Harry's
reply.
Once, expressing to Margaret her regret that she should be
such a trouble to her, she said:
"You have to do so much for me, that I am ashamed."
"Do let me wash the feet of one of his disciples;" Margaret
replied, gently expostulating; after which, Euphra never
grumbled at her own demands upon her.
Again, one day, she said:
"I am not right at all to-day, Margaret. God can't love me,
I am so hateful."
"Don't measure God's mind by your own, Euphra. It would
be a poor love that depended not on itself, but on the feelings of
the person loved. A crying baby turns away from its mother's
breast, but she does not put it away till it stops crying. She
holds it closer. For my part, in the worst mood I am ever in,
when I don't feel I love God at all, I just look up to his love.
I say to him: 'Look at me. See what state I am in. Help
me!' Ah! you would wonder how that makes peace. And
the love comes of itself; sometimes so strong, it nearly breaks
my heart."
"But there is a text I don't like."
"Take another, then."
"But it will keep coming."
"Give it back to God, and never mind it."
"But would that be right?"
"One day, when I was a little girl, so high, I couldn't eat my
porridge, and sat looking at it. 'Eat your porridge,' said my
mother. 'I don't want it,' I answered. 'There's nothing else
for you,' said my mother — for she had not learned so much
from my father then, as she did before he died. 'Hoots!'
said my father — I cannot, dear Euphra, make his words into
English."
"No, no, don't," said Euphra; "I shall understand them
perfectly."
"'Hoots! Janet, my woman!' said my father. 'Gie the
bairn a dish o' tay. Wadna ye like some tay, Maggy, my doo?'
'Ay wad I,' said I. 'The parritch is guid eneuch," said my
mother. 'Nae doot aboot the parritch, woman; it's the bairn's
stamack, it's no the parritch.' My mother said no more, but
made me a cup of such nice tea; for whenever she gave in, she I
gave in quite. I drank it; and, half from anxiety to please my
mother, half from reviving hunger, attacked the porridge next,
and ate it up. 'Leuk at that!' said my father. 'Janet, my
woman, gie a body the guid that they can tak', an' they'll sune
tak' the guid that they canna. Ye're better noo, Maggy, my
doo?' I never told him that I had taken the porridge too soon
after all, and had to creep into the wood, and be sick. But it
is all the same for the story."
Euphra laughed a feeble but delighted laugh, and applied the
story for herself.
So the winter days passed on.
"I wish I could live till the spring," said Euphra. "I should
like to see a snowdrop and a primrose again."
"Perhaps you will, dear; but you are going into a better
spring. I could almost envy you, Euphra."
"But shall we have spring there?"
"I think so."
"And spring-flowers?"
"I think we shall — better than here."
"But they will not mean so much."
"Then they won't be so good. But I should think they
would mean ever so much more, and be ever so much more
spring-like. They will be the spring-flowers to all winters in
one, I think."
Folded in the love of this woman, anointed for her death by
her wisdom, baptized for the new life by her sympathy and its
tears, Euphra died in the arms of Margaret.
Margaret wept, fell on her knees, and gave God thanks.
Mrs. Elton was so distressed, that, as soon as the funeral was
over, she broke up her London household, sending some of the
servants home to the country, and taking some to her favourite
watering place, to which Harry also accompanied her.
She hoped that, now the affair of the ring was cleared up, she
might, as soon as Hugh returned, succeed in persuading him to
follow them to Devonshire, and resume his tutorship. This
would satisfy her anxiety about Hugh and Harry both.
Hugh's mother died too, and was buried. When he returned
from the grave which now held both father and mother, he
found a short note from Margaret, telling him that Euphra was
gone. Sorrow is easier to bear when it comes upon sorrow;
but he could not help feeling a keen additional pang, when he
learned that she was dead whom he had loved once, and now
loved better. Margaret's note informed him likewise that
Euphra had left a written request, that her diamond ring should
be given to him to wear for her sake.
He prepared to leave the home whence all the homeness had
now vanished, except what indeed lingered in the presence of an
old nurse, who had remained faithful to his mother to the last.
The body itself is of little value after the spirit, the love, is out
of it: so the house and all the old things are little enough,
after the loved ones are gone who kept it alive and made it
home.
All that Hugh could do for this old nurse was to furnish a
cottage for her out of his mother's furniture, giving her everything
she liked best. Then he gathered the little household
treasures, the few books, the few portraits and ornaments, his
father's sword, and his mother's wedding-ring; destroyed with
sacred fire all written papers; sold the remainder of the furniture,
which he would gladly have burnt too, and so proceeded
to take his last departure from the home of his childhood.
CHAPTER XXIII.
NATURE AND HER LADY.
Die Frauen sind ein liebliches Geheimniss, nur verhüllt, nicht verschlossen.
— NOVALIS. — Moralische Ansichten.
Women are a lovely mystery — veiled, however, not shut up.
Her twilights were more clear than our mid-day;
She dreamt devoutlier than most used to pray.
DR. DONNE.
PERHAPS the greatest benefit that resulted to Hugh from
being thus made a pilgrim and a stranger in the earth, was,
that Nature herself saw him, and took him in. Hitherto, as I
have already said, Hugh's acquaintance with Nature had been
chiefly a second-hand one — he knew friends of hers. Nature in
poetry — not in the form of Thomsonian or Cowperian descriptions,
good as they are, but closely interwoven with and expository
of human thought and feeling — had long been dear to
him. In this form he had believed that he knew her so well,
as to be able to reproduce the lineaments of her beloved face.
But now she herself appeared to him — the grand, pure, tender
mother, ancient in years, yet ever young; appeared to him, not
in the mirror of a man's words, but bending over him from the
fathomless bosom of the sky, from the outspread arms of the
forest-trees, from the silent judgment of the everlasting hills.
She spoke to him from the depths of air, from the winds that harp
upon the boughs, and trumpet upon the great caverns, and from
the streams that sing as they go to be lost in rest. She would
have shone upon him out of the eyes of her infants, the flowers,
but they had their faces turned to her breast now, hiding from
the pale blue eyes and the freezing breath of old Winter, who
was looking for them with his face bent close to their refuge.
And he felt that she had a power to heal and to instruct; yea,
that she was a power of life, and could speak to the heart and
conscience mighty words about God and Truth and Love.
For he did not forsake his dead home in haste. He lingered
over it, and roamed about its neighbourhood. Regarding all
about him with quiet, almost passive spirit, he was astonished
to find how his eyes opened to see nature in the mass. Before,
he had beheld only portions and beauties. When or how the
change passed upon him he could not tell. But he no longer
looked for a pretty eyebrow or a lovely lip on the face of nature:
the soul of nature looked out upon him from the harmony of
all, guiding him unsought to the discovery of a thousand
separate delights; while from the expanded vision new meanings
flashed upon him every day. He beheld in the great All
the expression of the thoughts and feelings of the maker of the
heavens and the earth and the sea and the fountains of water.
The powers of the world to come, that is, the world of unseen
truth and ideal reality, were upon him in the presence of the
world that now is. For the first time in his life, he felt at home
with nature; and while he could moan with the wintry wind,
he no longer sighed in the wintry sunshine, that foretold, like
the far-off flutter of a herald's banner, the approach of victorious
lady-spring.
With the sorrow and loneliness of loss within him, and Nature
around him seeming to sigh for a fuller expression of the
thought that throbbed within her, it is no wonder that the form
of Margaret, the gathering of the thousand forms of nature into
one intensity and harmony of loveliness, should rise again upon
the world of his imagination, to set no more. Father and
mother were gone. Margaret remained behind. Nature lay
around him like a shining disk, that needed a visible centre of
intensest light — a shield of silver, that needed but a diamond
boss: Margaret alone could be that centre — that diamond light--
giver; for she alone, of all the women he knew, seemed so to
drink of the sun-rays of God, as to radiate them forth, for very
fulness, upon the clouded world.
She had dawned on him like a sweet crescent moon, hanging
far-off in a cold and low horizon: now, lifting his eyes, he saw
that same moon nearly at the full, and high overhead, yet
leaning down towards him through the deep blue air, that overflowed
with her calm triumph of light. He knew that he loved
her now. He knew that every place he went through, caught a
glimmer of romance the moment he thought of her; that every
most trifling event that happened to himself, looked like a piece
of a story-book the moment he thought of telling it to her. But
the growth of these feelings had been gradual — so slow and
gradual, that when he recognized them, it seemed to him as if
he had felt them from the first. The fact was, that as soon as
he began to be capable of loving Margaret, he had begun to love
her. He had never been able to understand her till he was
driven into the desert. But now that Nature revealed herself
to him full of Life, yea, of the Life of Life, namely, of God himself,
it was natural that he should honour and love that 'lady of
her own' that he should recognize Margaret as greater than
himself, as nearer to the heart of Nature — yea, of God the
father of all. She had been one with Nature from childhood,
and when he began to be one with nature too, he must become
one with her.
And now, in absence, he began to study the character of her
whom, in presence, he had thought he knew perfectly. He soon
found that it was a Manoa, a golden city in a land of Paradise
— too good to be believed in, except by him who was blessed
with the beholding of it. He knew now that she had always
understood what he was only just waking to recognize. And he
felt that the scholar had been very patient with the stupidity of
the master, and had drawn from his lessons a nourishment of
which he had known nothing himself.
But dared he think of marrying her, a creature inspired with
a presence of the Spirit of God which none but the saints enjoy,
and thence clothed with a garment of beauty, which her spirit
wove out of its own loveliness? She was a being to glorify any
man merely by granting him her habitual presence: what, then,
if she gave her love! She would bring with her the presence of
God himself, for she walked ever in bring light, and that light
clung to her and radiated from her. True, many young maidens
must be walking in the sunshine of God, else whence the light
and loveliness and bloom, the smile and the laugh of their
youth? But Margaret not only walked in this light: she knew
it and whence it came. She looked up to its source, and it
illuminated her face.
The silent girl of old days, whose countenance wore the stillness
of an unsunned pool, as she listened with reverence to his
lessons, had blossomed into the calm, stately woman, before
whose presence he felt rebuked he knew not why, upon whose face
lay slumbering thought, ever ready to wake into life and motion.
Dared he love her? Dared he tell her that he loved her?
Dared he, so poor, so worthless, seek for himself such a world's
treasure? — He might have known that worth does not need
honour; that its lowliness is content with ascribing it.
Some of my readers may be inclined to think that I hide, for
the sake of my hero — poor little hero, one of God's children,
learning to walk — an inevitable struggle between his love and
his pride; inasmuch as, being but a tutor, he might be expected
to think the more of his good family, and the possibility of his
one day coming to honour without the drawback of having done
anything to merit it, a title being almost within his grasp;
while Margaret was a ploughman's daughter, and a lady's maid.
But, although I know more of Hugh's faults than I have thought
it at all necessary to bring out in my story, I protest that, had
he been capable of giving the name of love to a feeling in whose
presence pride dared to speak, I should have considered him
unworthy of my poor pen. In plain language, I doubt if I
should have cared to write his story at all.
He gathered together, as I have said, the few memorials of
the old ship gone down in the quiet ocean of time; paid one
visit of sorrowful gladness to his parent's grave, over which he
raised no futile stone — leaving it, like the forms within it, in
the hands of holy decay; and took his road — whither? To
Margaret's home — to see old Janet; and to go once to the
grave of his second father. Then he would return to the toil
and hunger and hope of London.
What made Hugh go to Turriepuffit? His love to Margaret?
No. A better motive even than that: — Repentance. Better I
mean for Hugh as to the individual occasion; not in itself; for
love is deeper than repentance, seeing that without love there
can be no repentance. He had repented before; but now that
he haunted in silence the regions of the past, the whole of his
history in connection with David returned on him clear and vivid,
as if passing once again before his eyes and through his heart;
and he repented more deeply still. Perhaps he was not quite
so much to blame as he thought himself. Perhaps only now
was it possible for the seeds of truth, which David had sown in
his heart, to show themselves above the soil of lower, yet
ministering cares. They had needed to lie a winter long in the
earth. Now the keen blasts and griding frosts had done their
work, and they began to grow in the tearful prime. Sorrow
for loss brought in her train sorrow for wrong — a sister more
solemn still, and with a deeper blessing in the voice of her
loving farewell. — It is a great mistake to suppose that sorrow
is a part of repentance. It is far too good a grace to come so
easily. A man may repent, that is, think better of it, and change
his way, and be very much of a Pharisee — I do not say a hypocrite
— for a long time after: it needs a saint to be sorrowful.
Yet repentance is generally the road to this sorrow. — And now
that in the gracious time of grief, his eyesight purified by tears,
he entered one after another all the chambers of the past, he
humbly renewed once more his friendship with the noble dead,
and with the homely, heartful living. The grey-headed man
who walked with God like a child, and with his fellow-men like
an elder brother who was always forgetting his birthright and
serving the younger; the woman who believed where she could
not see, and loved where she could not understand; and the
maiden who was still and lustreless, because she ever absorbed
and seldom reflected the light — all came to him, as if to comfort
him once more in his loneliness, when his heart had room
for them, and need of them yet again. David now became,
after his departure, yet more of a father to him than before,
for that spirit, which is the true soul of all this body of things,
had begun to recall to his mind the words of David, and so
teach him the things that David knew, the everlasting realities
of God. And it seemed to him the while, that he heard David
himself uttering, in his homely, kingly voice, whatever truth
returned to him from the echo-cave of the past. Even when a
quite new thought arose within him, it came to him in the
voice of David, or at least with the solemn music of his tones
clinging about it as the murmur about the river's course.
Experience had now brought him up to the point where he
could begin to profit by David's communion; he needed the
things which David could teach him; and David began forthwith
to give them to him.
That birth of nature in his soul, which enabled him to
understand and love Margaret, helped him likewise to contemplate
with admiration and awe, the towering peaks of David's
hopes, trusts, and aspirations. He had taught the ploughman
mathematics, but that ploughman had possessed in himself all
the essential elements of the grandeur of the old prophets,
glorified by the faith which the Son of Man did not find in the
earth, but left behind him to grow in it, and which had grown
to a noble growth of beauty and strength in this peasant,
simple and patriarchal in the midst of a self-conceited age.
And, oh! how good he had been to him! He had built a
house that he might take him in from the cold, and make life
pleasant to him, as in the presence of God. He had given him
his heart every time he gave him his great manly hand. And
this man, this friend, this presence of Christ, Hugh had forsaken,
neglected, all but forgotten. He could not go, and, like
the prodigal, fall down before him, and say, "Father, I have
sinned against heaven and thee," for that heaven had taken him
up out of his sight. He could only weep instead, and bitterly
repent. Yes; was one thing more he could do. Janet
still lived. He would go to her, and confess his sin, and beg
her forgiveness. Receiving it, he would be at peace. He
knew David forgave him, whether he confessed or not; and
that, if he were alive, David would seek his confession only as
the casting away of the separation from his heart, as the banishment
of the worldly spirit, and as the natural sign by which he
might know that Hugh was one with him yet.
Janet was David's representative on earth: he would go
to her.
So he returned, rich and great; rich in knowing that he was
the child of Him to whom all the gold mines belong; and great
in that humility which alone recognizes greatness, and in the
beginnings of that meekness which shall inherit the earth. No
more would he stunt his spiritual growth by self-satisfaction.
No more would he lay aside, in the cellars of his mind, poor
withered bulbs of opinions, which, but for the evil ministrations
of that self-satisfaction, seeking to preserve them by drying and
salting, might have been already bursting into blossoms of
truth, of infinite loveliness.
He knew that Margaret thought far too well of him —
honoured him greatly beyond his deserts. He would not
allow her to be any longer thus deceived. He would tell her
what a poor creature he was. But he would say, too, that he
hoped one day to be worthy of her praise, that he hoped to
grow to what she thought him. If he should fail in convincing
her, he would receive all the honour she gave him humbly, as
paid, not to him, but to what he ought to be. God grant it
might be as to his future self!
In this mood he went to Janet.
CHAPTER XXIV.
THE FIR-WOOD AGAIN.
Er stand vor der himmlischen Jungfrau. Da hob er den leichten, glänzenden
Schleier, und — Rosenblüthchen sank in seine Arme. — NOVLIS. —
Die Lehrlinge zu Sais.
He stood before the heavenly Virgin (Isis, the Goddess of Nature). Then
lifted he the light, shining veil, and — Rosebud (his old love) sank into
his arms.
So womanly, so benigne, and so meek.
CHAUCER. — Prol to Leg. of Good Women.
IT was with a mingling of strange emotions, that Hugh
approached the scene of those not very old, and yet, to his
feeling, quite early memories. The dusk was beginning to
gather. The hoar-frost lay thick on the ground. The pinetrees
stood up in the cold, looking, in their garment of spikes,
as if the frost had made them. The rime on the gate was
unfriendly, and chilled his hand. He turned into the footpath.
He saw the room David had built for him. Its thatch was one
mass of mosses, whose colours were hidden now in the cuckoo--
fruit of the frost. Alas! how Death had cast his deeper frost
over all; for the man was gone from the hearth! But neither
old Winter nor skeleton Death can withhold the feet of the
little child Spring. She is stronger than both. Love shall
conquer hate; and God will overcome sin.
He drew nigh to the door, trembling. It seemed strange to
him that his nerves only, and not his mind, should feel. — In
moments of unusual excitement, it sometimes happens that the
only consciousness a strong man has of emotion, lies in an
unwonted physical vibration, the mind itself refusing to be
disturbed. It is, however, but a seeming: the emotion is so
deep, that consciousness can lay hold of its physical result only.
— The cottage looked the same as ever, only the peat-stack outside
was smaller. In the shadowiness of the firs, the glimmer
of a fire was just discernible on the kitchen window. He trembled
so much that he could not enter. He would go into the
fir-wood first, and see Margaret's tree, as he always called it in
his thoughts and dreams.
Very poor and stunted and meagre looked the fir-trees of
Turriepuffit, after the beeches and elms of Arnstead. The
evening wind whistled keen and cold through their dry needles,
and made them moan, as if because they were fettered, and
must endure the winter in helpless patience. Here and there
amongst them, rose the Titans of the little forest — the huge,
old, contorted, wizard-like, yet benevolent beings — the Scotch
firs. Towards one of these he bent his way. It was the one
under which he had seen Margaret, when he met her first in
the wood, with her whole soul lost in the waving of its wind--
swung, sun-lighted top, floating about in the sea of air like a
golden nest for some silvery bird of heaven. To think that the
young girl to whom he had given the primrose he had just
found, the then first-born of the Spring, should now be the
queen of his heart! Her childish dream of the angel haunting
the wood had been true, only she was the angel herself. He
drew near the place. How well he knew it! He seated
himself, cold as it was in the February of Scotland, at
the foot of the blessed tree. He did not know that it was
cold.
While he sat with his eyes fixed on the ground, a light rustle
in the fallen leaves made him raise them suddenly. It was all
winter and fallen leaves about him; but he lifted his eyes, and
in his soul it was summer: Margaret stood before him. He
was not in the least surprised. For how can one wonder to see
before his eyes, the form of which his soul is full? — there is no
shock. She stood a little way off, looking — as if she wanted to
be sure before she moved a step. She was dressed in a grey
winsey gown, close to her throat and wrists. She had neither
shawl nor bonnet. Her fine health kept her warm, even in a
winter wood at sun-down. She looked just the same; — at home
everywhere; most at home in Nature's secret chamber. Like
the genius of the place, she made the winter-wood look homely.
What were the oaks and beeches of Arnstead now? Homeliness
and glory are Heaven.
She came nearer.
"Margaret!" he murmured, and would have risen.
"No, no; sit still," she rejoined, in a pleading tone. "I
thought it was the angel in the picture. Now I know it. Sit
still, dear Mr. Sutherland, one moment more."
Humbled by his sense of unworthiness, and a little distressed
that she could so quietly reveal the depth of her feeling towards
him, he said:
"Ah, Margaret! I wish you would not praise one so little
deserving it."
"Praise?" she repeated, with an accent of wonder. "I
praise you! No, Mr. Sutherland; that I am not guilty of. Next
to my father, you made me know and feel. And as I walked
here, I was thinking of the old times, and older times still; and
all at once I saw the very picture out of the old Bible."
She came close to him now. He rose, trembling, but held
out no hand, uttered no greeting.
"Margaret, dare I love you?" he faltered.
She looked at him with wide-open eyes.
"Me?" she said; and her eyes did not move from his. A
slight rose-flush bloomed out on her motionless face.
"Will you be my wife?" he said, trembling yet more.
She made no answer, but looked at him still, with parted lips,
motionless.
"I am very poor, Margaret. I could not marry now."
It was a stupid speech, but he made it.
"I don't care," she answered, with a voice like thinking, "if
you never marry me."
He misunderstood her, and turned cold to the very heart.
He misunderstood her stillness. Her heart lay so deep, that it
took a long time for its feelings to reach and agitate the surface.
He said no more, but turned away with a sigh.
"Come home to my mother," she said.
He obeyed mechanically, and walked in silence by her side.
They reached the cottage and entered. Margaret said: "Here
he is, mother;" and disappeared.
Janet was seated — in her widow's mutch, with the plain black
ribbon down both sides, and round the back — in the arm-chair
by the fire, pondering on the past, or gently dreaming of him
that was gone. She turned her head. Sorrow had baptized
her face with a new gentleness. The tender expression which
had been but occasional while her husband lived, was almost
constant now. She did not recognize Hugh. He saw it, and it
added weight to his despair. He was left outside.
"Mother!" he said, involuntarily.
She started to her feet, cried: "My bairn! my bairn!"
threw her arms around him, and laid her head on his bosom.
Hugh sobbed as if his heart would break. Janet wept, but her
weeping was quiet as a summer rain. He led her to her chair,
knelt by her side, and hiding his face in her lap like a child,
faltered out, interrupted by convulsive sobs:
"Forgive me; forgive me. I don't deserve it, but forgive
me."
"Hoot awa! my bairn! my bonny man! Dinna greet that
gait. The Lord preserve's! what are ye greetin' for? Are na
ye come hame to yer ain? Didna Dawvid aye say — 'Gie
the lad time, woman. It's unco chaip, for the Lord's aye
makin't. The best things is aye the maist plentifu'. Gie the
lad time, my bonny woman!' — didna he say that? Ay, he
ca'd me his bonny woman, ill as I deserved it at his han'. An'
it's no for me to say ae word agen you, Maister Sutherlan', gin
ye had been a hantle waur nor a young thochtless lad cudna
weel help bein'. An' noo ye're come hame, an' nothing cud
glaidden my heart mair, 'cep', maybe, the Maister himsel' was to
say to my man: 'Dawvid! come furth.'"
Hugh could make no reply. He got hold of Margaret's
creepie, which stood in its usual place, and sat down upon it,
at the old woman's feet. She gazed in his face for a while, and
then, putting her arm round his neck, drew his head to her
bosom, and fondled him as if he had been her own firstborn.

"But eh! yer bonnie face is sharp an' sma' to what it used
to be, Maister Sutherlan'. I doot ye hae come through a heap
o' trouble."
"I'll tell you all about it," said Hugh.
"Na, na; bide still a wee. I ken a' aboot it frae Maggy.
An' guid preserve's! ye're clean perished wi' cauld. Lat me up,
my bairn."
Janet rose, and made up the fire, which soon cast a joyful
glow throughout the room. The peat-fire in the little cottage
was a good symbol of the heart of its mistress: it gave far
more heat than light. And for my part, dear as light is, I like
heat better. She then put on the kettle, — or the boiler I think
she called it — saying:
"I'm jist gaein' to mak' ye a cup o' tay, Mr. Sutherlan'. It's
the handiest thing, ye ken. An' I doot ye're muckle in want o'
something. Wad ye no tak' a drappy oot o' the bottle, i' the
mane time?"
"No, thank you," said Hugh, who longed to be alone,
for his heart was cold as ice; "I would rather wait for
the tea; but I should be glad to have a good wash, after
my journey."
"Come yer wa's, than, ben the hoose. I'll jist gang an'
get a drappy o' het water in a decanter. Bide ye still by
the fire."
Hugh stood, and gazed into the peat-fire. But he saw
nothing in it. A light step passed him several times, but he
did not heed it. The loveliest eyes looked earnestly towards
him as they passed, but his were not lifted to meet their
gaze.
"Noo, Maister Sutherlan', come this way."
Hugh was left alone at length, in the room where David had
slept, where David had used to pray. He fell on his knees,
and rose comforted by the will of God. A few things of Margaret's
were about the room. The dress he had seen her in at
Mrs. Elton's, was hanging by the bed. He kissed the folds of
the garment, and said: "God's will be done." He had just
finished a hasty ablution when Janet called him.
"Come awa', Maister Sutherlan'; come ben to yer ain
chaumer," said she, leading the way to the room she still called
the study. Margaret was there. The room was just as he had
left it. A bright fire was on the hearth. Tea was on the table,
with eggs, and oatcakes, and flour-scons in abundance; for Janet
had the best she could get for Margaret, who was only her guest
for a little while. But Hugh could not eat. Janet looked distressed,
and Margaret glanced at him uneasily.
"Do eat something, Mr. Sutherland," said Margaret.
Hugh looked at her involuntarily. She did not understand
his look, and it alarmed her. His countenance was
changed.
"What is the matter, dear — Hugh?" she said, rising,
and laying her hand on his shoulder.
"Hoots! lassie," broke in her mother; "are ye makin' love
till a man, a gentleman, afore my verra een?"
"He did it first, mother," answered Margaret, with a
smile.
A pang of hope shot through Hugh's heart.
"Ow! that's the gait o't, is't? The bairn's gane dementit!
Ye're no efter merryin' a gentleman, Maggy? Na,
na, lass!"
So saying, the old lady, rather crossly, and very imprudently,
left the room to fill the teapot in the kitchen.
"Do you remember this?" said Margaret, — who felt that
Hugh must have misunderstood something or other, — taking
from her pocket a little book, and from the book a withered
flower.
Hugh saw that it was like a primrose, and hoped against
hope that it was the one which he had given to her, on the
spring morning in the fir-wood. Still, a feeling very different
from his might have made her preserve it. He must know all
about it.
"Why did you keep that?" he said.
"Because I loved you."
"Loved me?"
"Yes. Didn't you know?"
"Why did you say, then, that you didn't care if — if —?'
"Because love is enough, Hugh. — That was why."
THE END.
BRADBURY, EVANS, AND CO., PRINTERS. WHITEFRIARS.

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APA Style:

David Elginbrod. 2019. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved March 2019, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=129.

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The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. 2019. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/.

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David Elginbrod

Document Information

Document ID 129
Title David Elginbrod
Year group 1850-1900
Genre Imaginative prose
Year of publication 1871
Wordcount 173827

Author information: Macdonald, George

Author ID 238
Forenames George
Surname Macdonald
Gender Male
Year of birth 1824
Place of birth Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Occupation Author
Locations where resident Manchester
Other languages spoken Latin
Religious affiliation Congregational Church