Part 4 out of 12
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
"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
"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, naļve
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.
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,
"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
Euphra stole another of her piercing glances at him, but said
"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
"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
As she said this, she fixed her eyes once more on the maid.
"Oh! don't ye now, Miss," interrupted Jane. "Hannah do 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, do 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,
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
"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
"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
"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
"Very desirable on both considerations, my love."
And so the conference ended.
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
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?"
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 Cęsar 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!"
"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
"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
"Yes; and beautiful letters; and wise lessons; and histories and
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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.
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
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,"
"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
appealed 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
"It is only a trick of independence, Hugh -- Mr. Sutherland -- I beg
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
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.
Per me si va nella cittą dolente.
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
"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
encyclopędia 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
"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
"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
lodestone. 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
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
"Well," she said, "I have just come upon another passage that
perplexes me not a little. Will you try your powers upon that for
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
"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
"As you please. It will add much to the difficulty."
"Recreant knight! will you shrink from following where your lady
"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
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
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.
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
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
"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,
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
"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
"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
"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 drawingroom 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
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
A spiritual epicure in his pleasures, he would not spoil the effect
of the coming meeting, by seeing Euphra in the drawingroom 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 withdrew 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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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
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
"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
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
"Very true, Mr. Arnold," responded Mrs. Elton. "We don't want
originality, do we? It is only the gospel we want. Does he preach
"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
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
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