Part 11 out of 12
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
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
"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
"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 away the 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 twenty-pound-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 accounting 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.
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.
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
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.
"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
"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
"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, 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 ankle 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
"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 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
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."
"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.
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.
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 his 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 grinding 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; there 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.
THE FIR-WOOD AGAIN.
Er stand vor der himmlischen Jungfrau. Da hob er den leichten,
glänzenden Schleir, und -- Rosenblüthchen sank in seine
Arme. -- Novalis. -- 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 pine-trees 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
"Ah, Margaret! I wish you would not praise one so little deserving
"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,
"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
"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 first-born.
"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
"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
"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-scones 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."
"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."
1 ch guttural. The land-rail is a corn-scraich.
2 Goldsmith; twice, in the Citizen of the World.
Note from John Bechard, creator of this Electronic text.
The following is a list of Scottish words which are found in George
MacDonald's "David Elginbrod". I have compiled this list myself and
worked out the definitions from context with the help of Margaret
West, from Leven in Fife, Scotland, and also by referring to a word
list found in a collection of poems by Robert Burns. There are
about 6 words which we could not work out definitions for and would
welcome any feedback on those words or any others in the list which
may be wrong (my e-mail address is JaBBechard@aol.com). This was
never meant to be a comprehensive list of the National Scottish
Language, but rather an aid to understanding some of Mr MacDonald's
conversations which are carried out in the Broad Scots. I do
apologise for any mistakes or omissions. I aimed for my list to be
very comprehensive, and it often repeats the same word in a plural
or diminutive form. As well, it includes words that are quite
obvious to native English speakers.
There is a web site under construction which will feature the
Scottish language; and the National Scottish Dictionary can be
consulted if you have access to one.
This list is a compressed form that consists of three columns for
'word', 'definition', and 'additional notes'. It is set up with
a comma between each item and a hard return at the end of each
definition. This means that this section could easily be cut and
pasted into its own text file and imported into a database or
spreadsheet as a comma separated variable file (.csv file). Failing
that, you could do a search and replace for commas in this section
(I have not used any commas in my words, definitions or notes) and
replace the commas with spaces or tabs.
a' thing,everything; anything,
aboon,above; up; over,
aboot and aboot,all about,
afore,before; in front of,
an aucht days,?,possibly an old reference to a week?
at ane mair,all agog,
ava,at all; of all,
bauchles,old pair of Sunday shoes,
bauks,supporting timbers; bulk heads,as in ship building
ben,room; indoors; into; within; inwards,
ben the hoose,inside; to the back of the house,
beuk,book,also the Bible
bide,endure; bear; remain; live,also stay for;
bield,protection; shelter; cover,
bien,cosy; comfortable; well-stocked,
bit,but; bit,also little-diminutive
bleck,black,also nonplus; perplex
bonnie,good; beautiful; pretty; handsome,
bonny,good; beautiful; pretty; handsome,
bossie,large wooden bowl,serving bowl
braw,beautiful; good; fine,also-lovely (girl); handsome (boy)
brawly,admirably; very; very much; well,
brods,boards; (book covers),
bud,intended; meant to,
bude,would prefer to,
burnside,along the side of a stream,
butt,main room in a croft; front room,includes kitchen and storage
butt the hoose,into the house; into the front room,
by ordinar',out of the ordinary; supernatural,
byke,hive; swarm; crowd,
calf-country,country or place where one grew up,
caller,fresh; refreshing; cool,
caup,small wooden bowl,
chaip,blow; stroke,also fellow; chap
chield,child; young person; lad,used when expressing sympathy
chields,children; lads; young people,used when expressing sympathy
chimla-lug,side wall of chimney recess,also chimney corner
clappit,clapped (on the shoulder); praised,
clavers,idle talk; chatter,smarmy compliments; buttering up
clean,quite; utterly,also comely; shapely; empty
Come butt the hoose.,'Come on in!',colloquial and familiar
Come yer wa's butt.,'Come on in!',colloquial and familiar
Come yer wa's.,'Come on in!',colloquial and familiar
corn-scraich,land-rail,type of bird
couples,joining pieces; cross beams,
couthy,loving; kind; buddy-buddy,
craig,throat; neck; gullet,
creepie,three legged stool,
croonin',crooning; moaning; whining,
daffin',dallying; fooling; frolic; flirtation,
dawtie,darling; pet,term of endearment
deed,died,also deed; indeed
Deil a bit!,Not at all! Not a bit!,
devallt,intermission; a break,
disjaskit,worn out; fatigued,
doitit,out of the mind; muddled,also in a whirl with worry
doo,dove,term of endearment
doonsittin',place to sit down or rest,
douce,sensible; sober; prudent,
dowie,sad; lonely; depressing; dismal,
downa,dare not; can not,
drappy,drop; a little (liquor),diminutive
driftin',drifting,snow driven by the wind
dung,beaten; overcome; worn out,
e'en,even; just; simply,also eyes
eesicht,eye sight; by all appearances,
ellwan',ell-wand; ruler; yardstick,1 ell = 37 inches or 94 cm
ends-errand,went on purpose; specifically to,
ettle,reach; try to climb; purpose; aim,
ettlin',seeking (to understand); aiming,
evenin',putting on the same level; comparing,
fell,very; potent; keen; harsh,more emphasis
fir-taps,tops of the fir trees,
fit,foot; base,also fit
flytin',telling off; scolding,flaying with the tongue
forby,as well; as well as; besides,
forbye,as well; as well as; besides,
forenichts,fore-nights; early evenings,
forfochten,overcome; done for,
fortnicht,fortnight; two weeks,
fowth,plenty; abundance; full measure,
frae the tae side to the tither,from one side to the other,
fu',full; very; quite,
gane up the stairs,gone to heaven,
gane wull,lost its way,
gang,go; goes; depart; walk,
gar,cause; make; compel,
garrin',making; causing; compelling,
gart,caused; made; compelled,
gie a lift,give a helping hand,
gin,if; as if; then; whether,
gin',if; as if; then; whether,
glamour,spell; charm; enchantment,
gleg,quick; lively; smart; quick-witted,
gleg 'ee,quick or sharp eye to notice things,
got grips,got a hold of; grasped; understood,
gowpenfu's,enough,enough (to cause one to stare)
gravestane,gravestone; tombstone; headstone,
hamely,homely; familiar; friendly; common,
hame-ower,homely; simple and straightforward,
hap,cover; wrap; shield,
hasna',has not; hasn't,
haud the hert in her,hold the heart in her,also keep her spirits up
haverin',blethering; talking rubbish,
havers,blether; (verbal) rubbish,
hearken,hear; have a listen,
hech!,Oh! strange!,a sighing exclamation
hill-moss,mountain-moor,'moss' is a swamp or peat bog
hit,it,'h' gives emphasis
hither-come,ancestry; past history,
hizzie,hussy; silly girl,
hizzy,hussy; silly girl,
I canna min',I can not think or remember,
I doot,I don't doubt it; I know,
I wat,I see; I declare; I know,
I wot,I see; I declare,
ill-min'ins,ill meanings; ill intent,
in sma',in short,
ingle-neuk,chimney corner or recess,
ither,other; another; further,
keepit his thoom...ellwan,to short change someone,a short measure
ken,know; be aware of,
kenna,do not know,
laird,landed proprietor; squire,
lammie,little lamb,diminutive; term of endearment
lave,rest; leave; remainder,
laverocks,larks (type of bird),
len',lend; give; grant,
leuk,look; watch; appearance,
lichtlyin',belittling; making light of,
lift,load; boost; helping hand,also sky; heavens
lippen,trust; depend on,
luckie-daddy,fondly regarded forefather,also a revered forefather
lug,ear,also shallow wooden dish
mak' shifts,making do with false things,
mak' ups,covering up (of truth),
makin't,making it; doing it,
maukin,hare,reference to a poem by Burns
maun,must; have to,
maunna,must not; may not,
mem,Mam; Miss; Madam,
mend,amend; cure; heal,as in 'mend your ways'
mengie,menagerie; lot; crowd,
min',mind; recollection,also recollect; remember
mint,aimed; intended to,
min't,mind it; remember it,
muckle,huge; enormous; big; great; much,
mutch,cap with protruding frill,worn under the bonnet
My certie!,?,My goodness!?
my lane,on my own,
na,not; by no means,
na',not; by no means,
naewise,nowise; in no way,
needna,do not need; need not,
ne'er-do-well,never do well; troublemaker,
nichtly,nightly; at night,
no that ill to win at,not that difficult to get at,
ohn,without,Scottish uses past participle not present prog.
or,before; ere; by,also or
our lanes,on our own,
presence-chaumer,presence chamber of a king,
quean,queen; young girl; hussy,
rax,overdo it; stretch,
respeck,respect; consider worthy,
respecks,respects; considers worthy,
roose,rouse; stir up; agitate,
rue't,rue it; feel sorry for it,
's,us; his; as; is,
sair,sore; sorely; sad; hard,also serve
scunner,disgust; disgusting; revolting,
siller,silver; money; wealth,
skelf,shelf,also splinter of wood
skelp-doup,lit. slap on the backside,derogatory term
sklet,(school) slate,also roofing slate
sma',small; little; slight; narrow,
sma'est,smallest; littlest; slightest; narrowest,
smoored,caught in; covered by; trapped in,also smothered
spier,ask; question; inquire,
spierin',asking; questioning; inquiring,
stane,stone; measure of weight,1 stone = 14 pounds
stappit,stopped; plugged,also stepped
steek,shut; close,also stitch (as in clothing)
steekit neives,clenched fists,
syne,time; since; then,in (good) time
tak' tent,look out; pay attention,
tee,'to ye' i.e. to you; also too,also tea
the noo,right now,
theroot,outside; out there,
this day week,in a week's time; a week from now,
thrang,full; well filled; busy; crowd,
till,to; till; until; about; towards,
till's,to his; to us,
toddlin',toddling; walking unsteadily,
toot-moot,loud mouthed bantering,
troth,truth; indeed,also used as an exclamation
'twere,it were; it was,
unco,odd; strange; very,
verra,very; true; real,
waggin' his heid,nodding his head (while preaching),
wan,reached; gained; got,
want,want; lack; without; be in want of,
wat,wet,see also 'I wat.'
we maun bide a wee,we need to wait a bit,
wee,small; little; bit,
well-ee,well; pit; deep shaft,
Wha's that o't?,Who is that?,
What for no?,Why not?,
wheen,baby; little (adj.),