Part 7 out of 12
by the events of the preceding evening, been similarly prepared with
regard to it? Was it not more likely, after all, that she too was
the offspring of his own imagination -- the power that makes
images -- especially when considered, that she exactly corresponded to
the description given by the Bohemian? -- But had he not observed many
points at which the Count had not even hinted? -- Still, it was as
natural to expect that an excited imagination should supply the
details of a wholly imaginary spectacle, as that, given the idea of
Euphra's presence, it should present the detail of her countenance;
for the creation of that which is not, belongs as much to the realm
of the imagination, as the reproduction of that which is.
It seemed very strange to Hugh himself, that he should be able thus
to theorize, before even he had raised himself from the couch on
which, perhaps, after all, he had lain without moving, throughout
that terrible night, swarming with the horrors of the dead that
would not sleep. But the long unconsciousness, in which he had
himself visited the regions of death, seemed to have restored him,
in spite of his aching head, to perfect mental equilibrium. Or, at
least, his brain was quiet enough to let his mind work. Still, he
felt very ghastly within. He raised himself on his elbow, and
looked into the room. Everything was the same as it had been the
night before, only with an altered aspect in the dawn-light. The
dawn has a peculiar terror of its own, sometimes perhaps even more
real in character, but very different from the terrors of the night
and of candle-light. The room looked as if no ghost could have
passed through its still old musty atmosphere, so perfectly
reposeful did it appear; and yet it seemed as if some umbra, some
temporary and now cast-off body of the ghost, must be lying or
lingering somewhere about it. He rose, and peeped into the recess
where the cabinet stood. Nothing was there but the well remembered
carving and blackness. Having once yielded to the impulse, he could
not keep from peering every moment, now into one, and now into
another of the many hidden corners. The next suggesting itself for
examination, was always one he could not see from where he
stood: -- after all, even in the daylight, there might be some dead
thing there -- who could tell? But he remained manfully at his post
till the sun rose; till bell after bell rang from the turret; till,
in short, Funkelstein came to fetch him.
"Good morning, Mr. Sutherland," said he. "How have you slept?"
"Like a -- somnambulist," answered Hugh, choosing the word for its
intensity. "I slept so sound that I woke quite early."
"I am glad to hear it. But it is nearly time for breakfast, for
which ceremony I am myself hardly in trim yet."
So saying, Funkelstein turned, and walked away with some
precipitation. What occasioned Hugh a little surprise; was, that he
did not ask him one question more as to how he had passed the night.
He had, of course, slept in the house, seeing he presented himself
Hugh hastened to his own room, where, under the anti-ghostial
influences of the bath, he made up his mind not to say a word about
the apparition to any one.
"Well, Mr. Sutherland, how have you spent the night?" said Mr.
Arnold, greeting him.
"I slept with profound stupidity," answered Hugh; "a stupidity, in
fact, quite worthy of the folly of the preceding wager."
This was true, as relating to the time during which he had slept,
but was, of course, false in the impression it gave.
"Bravo!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold, with an unwonted impulsiveness. "The
best mood, I consider, in which to meet such creations of other
people's brains! And you positively passed a pleasant night in the
awful chamber? That is something to tell Euphra. But she is not
down yet. You have restored the character of my house, Mr.
Sutherland; and next to his own character, a man ought to care for
that of his house. I am greatly in your debt, sir."
At this moment, Euphra's maid brought the message, that her mistress
was sorry she was unable to appear at breakfast.
Mrs. Elton took her place.
"The day is so warm and still, Mr. Arnold, that I think Lady Emily
might have a drive to-day. Perhaps Miss Cameron may be able to join
us by that time."
"I cannot think what is the matter with Euphra," said Mr. Arnold.
"She never used to be affected in this way."
"Should you not seek some medical opinion?" said Mrs. Elton. "These
constant headaches must indicate something wrong."
The constant headache had occurred just once before, since Mrs.
Elton had formed one of the family. After a pause, Mr. Arnold
reverted to the former subject.
"You are most welcome to the carriage, Mrs. Elton. I am sorry I
cannot accompany you myself; but I must go to town to-day. You can
take Mr. Sutherland with you, if you like. He will take care of
"I shall be most happy," said Hugh.
"So shall we all," responded Mrs. Elton kindly. "Thank you, Mr.
Arnold; though I am sorry you can't go with us."
"What hour shall I order the carriage?"
"About one, I think. Will Herr von Funkelstein favour us with his
"I am sorry," replied Funkelstein; "but I too must leave for London
to-day. Shall I have the pleasure of accompanying you, Mr. Arnold?"
"With all my heart, if you can leave so early. I must go at once to
catch the express train."
"I shall be ready in ten minutes."
"Pray, Mrs. Elton, make my adieus to Miss Cameron. I am concerned
to hear of her indisposition."
"With pleasure. I am going to her now. Good-bye."
As soon as Mrs. Elton left the breakfast-room, Mr. Arnold rose,
"I will walk round to the stable, and order the carriage myself. I
shall then be able, through your means, Mr. Sutherland, to put a
stop to these absurd rumours in person. Not that I mean to say
anything direct, as if I placed any importance upon it; but, the
coachman being an old servant, I shall be able through him, to send
the report of your courage and its result, all over the house."
This was a very gracious explanation of his measures. As he
concluded it, he left the room, without allowing time for a reply.
Hugh had not expected such an immediate consequence of his policy,
and felt rather uncomfortable; but he soon consoled himself by
thinking, "At least it will do no harm."
While Mr. Arnold was speaking, Funkelstein had been writing at a
side-table. He now handed Hugh a cheque on a London banking-house
for a hundred guineas. Hugh, in his innocence, could not help
feeling ashamed of gaining such a sum by such means; for betting,
like tobacco-smoking, needs a special training before it can be
carried out quite comfortably, especially by the winner, if he be at
all of a generous nature. But he felt that to show the least
reluctance would place him at great disadvantage with a man of the
world like the count. He therefore thanked him slightly, and thrust
the cheque into his trowsers-pocket, as if a greater sum of money
than he had ever handled before were nothing more for him to win,
than the count would choose it to be considered for him to lose. He
thought with himself: "Ah! well, I need not make use of it;" and
repaired to the school-room.
Here he found Harry waiting for him, looking tolerably well, and
tolerably happy. This was a great relief to Hugh, for he had not
seen him at the breakfast-table -- Harry having risen early and
breakfasted before; and he had felt very uneasy lest the boy should
have missed him in the night (for they were still bed-fellows), and
should in consequence have had one of his dreadful attacks of
fear. -- It was evident that this had not taken place.
There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
When Mrs. Elton left the breakfast table, she went straight to Miss
Cameron's room to inquire after her, expecting to find her maid with
her. But when she knocked at the door, there was no reply.
She went therefore to her own room, and sent her maid to find
"Is your mistress going to get up to-day, Jane?" asked Mrs. Elton.
"I don't know, ma'am. She has not rung yet."
"Have you not been to see how she is?"
"How was it you brought that message at breakfast, then?"
Jane looked confused, and did not reply.
"Jane!" said Mrs. Elton, in a tone of objurgation.
"Well, ma'am, she told me to say so," answered Jane.
"How did she tell you?"
Jane paused again.
"Through the door, ma'am," she answered at length; and then
muttered, that they would make her tell lies by asking her questions
she couldn't answer; and she wished she was out of the house, that
Mrs. Elton heard this, and, of course, felt considerably puzzled.
"Will you go now, please, and inquire after your mistress, with my
"I daren't, ma'am."
"Daren't! What do you mean?"
"Well, ma'am, there is something about my mistress -- " Here she
stopped abruptly; but as Mrs. Elton stood expectant, she tried to go
on. All she could add, however, was -- "No, ma'am; I daren't."
"But there is no harm in going to her room."
"Oh, no, ma'am. I go to her room, summer and winter, at seven
o'clock every morning," answered Jane, apparently glad to be able to
"Why won't you go now, then?"
"Why -- why -- because she told me -- " Here the girl stammered and turned
pale. At length she forced out the words -- "She won't let me tell
you why," and burst into tears.
"Won't let you tell me?" repeated Mrs. Elton, beginning to think the
girl must be out of her mind. Jane looked hurriedly over her
shoulder, as if she expected to see her mistress standing behind
her, and then said, almost defiantly:
"No, she won't; and I can't."
With these words, she hurried out of the room, while Mrs. Elton
turned with baffled bewilderment to seek counsel from the face of
Margaret. As to what all this meant, I am in doubt. I have
recorded it as Margaret told it to Hugh afterwards -- because it seems
to indicate something. It shows evidently enough, that if Euphra
had more than a usual influence over servants in general, she had a
great deal more over this maid in particular. Was this in virtue of
a power similar to that of Count Halkar over herself? And was this,
or something very different, or both combined, the art which he had
accused her of first exercising upon him? Might the fact that her
defeat had resulted in such absolute subjection, be connected with
her possession of a power similar to his, which she had matched with
his in vain? Of course I only suggest these questions. I cannot
At one o'clock, the carriage came round to the door; and Hugh, in
the hope of seeing Euphra alone, was the first in the hall. Mrs.
Elton and Lady Emily presently came, and proceeded to take their
places, without seeming to expect Miss Cameron. Hugh helped them
into the carriage; but, instead of getting in, lingered, hoping that
Euphra was yet going to make her appearance.
"I fear Miss Cameron is unable to join us," said Mrs. Elton,
divining his delay.
"Shall I run up-stairs, and knock at her door?" said Hugh.
"Do," said Mrs. Elton, who, after the unsatisfactory conversation
she had held with her maid, had felt both uneasy and curious, all
Hugh bounded up-stairs; but, just as he was going to knock, the door
opened, and Euphra appeared.
"Dear Euphra! how ill you look!" exclaimed Hugh.
She was pale as death, and dark under the eyes; and had evidently
"Hush! hush!" she answered. "Never mind. It is only a bad headache.
Don't take any notice of it."
"The carriage is at the door. Will you not come with us?"
"Lady Emily and Mrs. Elton."
"I am sick of them."
"I am going, Euphra."
"Stay with me."
"I must go. I promised to take care of them."
"Oh, nonsense! What should happen to them? Stay with me."
"No. I am very sorry. I wish I could."
"Then I must go with you, I suppose." Yet her tone expressed
"Oh! thank you," cried Hugh in delight. "Make haste. I will run
down, and tell them to wait."
He bounded away, and told the ladies that Euphra would join them in
a few minutes.
But Euphra was cool enough to inflict on them quite twenty minutes
of waiting; by which time she was able to behave with tolerable
propriety. When she did appear at last, she was closely veiled, and
stepped into the carriage without once showing her face. But she
made a very pretty apology for the delay she had occasioned; which
was certainly due, seeing it had been perfectly intentional. She
made room for Hugh; he took his place beside her; and away they
Euphra scarcely spoke; but begged indulgence, on the ground of her
headache. Lady Emily enjoyed the drive very much, and said a great
many pleasant little nothings.
"Would you like a glass of milk?" said Mrs. Elton to her, as they
passed a farm-house on the estate.
"I should -- very much," answered Lady Emily.
The carriage was stopped, and the servant sent to beg a glass of
milk. Euphra, who, from riding backward with a headache, had been
feeling very uncomfortable for some time, wished to get out while
the carriage was waiting. Hugh jumped out, and assisted her. She
walked a little way, leaning on his arm, up to the house, where she
had a glass of water; after which she said she felt better, and
returned with him to the carriage. In getting in again, either from
the carelessness or the weakness occasioned by suffering, her foot
slipped from the step, and she fell with a cry of alarm. Hugh
caught her as she fell; and she would not have been much injured,
had not the horses started and sprung forward at the moment, so that
the hind wheel of the carriage passed over her ankle. Hugh, raising
her in his arms, found she was insensible.
He laid her down upon the grass by the roadside. Water was
procured, but she showed no sign of recovering. -- What was to be
done? Mrs. Elton thought she had better be carried to the
farm-house. Hugh judged it better to take her home at once. To
this, after a little argument, Mrs. Elton agreed.
They lifted her into the carriage, and made what arrangements they
best could to allow her to recline. Blood was flowing from her
foot; and it was so much swollen that it was impossible to guess at
the amount of the injury. The foot was already twice the size of
the other, in which Hugh for the first time recognised such a
delicacy of form, as, to his fastidious eye and already ensnared
heart, would have been perfectly enchanting, but for the agony he
suffered from the injury to the other. Yet he could not help the
thought crossing his mind, that her habit of never lifting her dress
was a very strange one, and that it must have had something to do
with the present accident. I cannot account for this habit, but on
one of two suppositions; that of an affected delicacy, or that of
the desire that the beauty of her feet should have its full power,
from being rarely seen. But it was dreadful to think how far the
effects of this accident might permanently injure the beauty of one
Hugh would have walked home that she might have more room, but he
knew he could be useful when they arrived. He seated himself so as
to support the injured foot, and prevent, in some measure, the
torturing effects of the motion of the carriage. When they had gone
about half-way, she opened her eyes feebly, glanced at him, and
closed them again with a moan of pain.
He carried her in his arms up to her own room, and laid her on a
couch. She thanked him by a pitiful attempt at a smile. He mounted
his horse, and galloped for a surgeon.
The injury was a serious one; but until the swelling could be a
little reduced, it was impossible to tell how serious. The surgeon,
however, feared that some of the bones of the ankle might be
crushed. The ankle seemed to be dislocated, and the suffering was
frightful. She endured it well, however -- so far as absolute silence
Hugh's misery was extreme. The surgeon had required his assistance;
but a suitable nurse soon arrived, and there was no pretext for his
further presence in the sick chamber. He wandered about the
grounds. Harry haunted his steps like a spaniel. The poor boy felt
it much; and the suffering abstraction of Hugh sealed up his chief
well of comfort. At length he went to Mrs. Elton, who did her best
to console him.
By the surgeon's express orders, every one but the nurse was
excluded from Euphra's room.
Come on and do your best
To fright me with your sprites: you're powerful at it.
You smell this business with a sense as cold
As is a dead man's nose.
A Winter's Tale.
When Mr. Arnold came home to dinner, and heard of the accident, his
first feeling, as is the case with weak men, was one of mingled
annoyance and anger. Hugh was the chief object of it; for had he
not committed the ladies to his care? And the economy of his house
being partially disarranged by it, had he not a good right to be
angry? His second feeling was one of concern for his niece, which
was greatly increased when he found that she was not in a state to
see him. Still, nothing must interfere with the order of things;
and when Hugh went into the drawing-room at the usual hour, he found
Mr. Arnold standing there in tail coat and white neck-cloth, looking
as if he had just arrived at a friend's house, to make one of a
stupid party. And the party which sat down to dinner was certainly
dreary enough, consisting only, besides the host himself, of Mrs.
Elton, Hugh, and Harry. Lady Emily had had exertion enough for the
day, and had besides shared in the shock of Euphra's misfortune.
Mr. Arnold was considerably out of humour, and ready to pounce upon
any object of complaint. He would have attacked Hugh with a pompous
speech on the subject of his carelessness, but he was rather afraid
of his tutor now; -- so certainly will the stronger get the upper hand
in time. He did not even refer to the subject of the accident.
Therefore, although it filled the minds of all at table, it was
scarcely more than alluded to. But having nothing at hand to find
fault with more suitable, he laid hold of the first wise remark
volunteered by good Mrs. Elton; whereupon an amusing pas de deux
immediately followed; for it could not be called a duel, inasmuch as
each antagonist kept skipping harmlessly about the other, exploding
theological crackers, firmly believed by the discharger to be no
less than bomb-shells. At length Mrs. Elton withdrew.
"By the way, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold, "have you succeeded
in deciphering that curious inscription yet? I don't like the ring
to remain long out of my own keeping. It is quite an heirloom, I
Hugh was forced to confess that he had never thought of it again.
"Shall I fetch it at once?" added he.
"Oh! no," replied Mr. Arnold. "I should really like to understand
the inscription. To-morrow will do perfectly well."
They went to the drawing-room. Everything was wretched. However
many ghosts might be in the house, it seemed to Hugh that there was
no soul in it except in one room. The wind sighed fitfully, and the
rain fell in slow, soundless showers. Mr. Arnold felt the vacant
oppression as well as Hugh. Mrs Elton having gone to Lady Emily's
room, he proposed back gammon; and on that surpassing game, the
gentlemen expended the best part of two dreary hours. When Hugh
reached his room he was too tired and spiritless for any
intellectual effort; and, instead of trying to decipher the ring,
went to bed, and slept as if there were never a ghost or a woman in
His first proceeding, after breakfast next day, was to get together
his German books; and his next to take out the ring, which was to be
subjected to their analytical influences. He went to his desk, and
opened the secret place. There he stood fixed. -- The ring was gone.
His packet of papers was there, rather crumpled: the ring was
nowhere. What had become of it? It was not long before a
conclusion suggested itself. It flashed upon him all at once.
"The ghost has got it," he said, half aloud. "It is shining now on
her dead finger. It was Lady Euphrasia. She was going for it then.
It wasn't on her thumb when she went. She came back with it,
shining through the dark -- stepped over me, perhaps, as I lay on the
floor in her way."
He shivered, like one in an ague-fit.
Again and again, with that frenzied, mechanical motion, which, like
the eyes of a ghost, has "no speculation" in it, he searched the
receptacle, although it freely confessed its emptiness to any asking
eye. Then he stood gazing, and his heart seemed to stand still
But a new thought stung him, turning him almost sick with a sense of
loss. Suddenly and frantically he dived his hand into the place yet
again, useless as he knew the search to be. He took up his papers,
and scattered them loose. It was all unavailing: his father's ring
was gone as well.
He sank on a chair for a moment; but, instantly recovering, found
himself, before he was quite aware of his own resolution, halfway
down stairs, on his way to Mr. Arnold's room. It was empty. He
rang for his servant. Mr. Arnold had gone away on horseback, and
would not be home till dinner-time. Counsel from Mrs. Elton was
hopeless. Help from Euphra he could not ask. He returned to his
own room. There he found Harry waiting for him. His neglected
pupil was now his only comforter. Such are the revenges of divine
"Harry!" he said, "I have been robbed."
"Robbed!" cried Harry, starting up. "Never mind, Mr. Sutherland; my
papa's a justice of the peace. He'll catch the thief for you."
"But it's your papa's ring that they've stolen. He lent it to me,
and what if he should not believe me?"
"Not believe you, Mr. Sutherland? But he must believe you. I will
tell him all about it; and he knows I never told him a lie in my
"But you don't know anything about it, Harry."
"But you will tell me, won't you?"
Hugh could not help smiling with pleasure at the confidence his
pupil placed in him. He had not much fear about being believed,
but, at the best, it was an unpleasant occurrence.
The loss of his own ring not only added to his vexation, but to his
perplexity as well. What could she want with his ring? Could she
have carried with her such a passion for jewels, as to come from the
grave to appropriate those of others as well as to reclaim her own?
Was this her comfort in Hades, 'poor ghost'?
Would it be better to tell Mr. Arnold of the loss of both rings, or
should he mention the crystal only? He came to the conclusion that
it would only exasperate him the more, and perhaps turn suspicion
upon himself, if he communicated the fact that he too was a loser,
and to such an extent; for Hugh's ring was worth twenty of the
other, and was certainly as sacred as Mr. Arnold's, if not so
ancient. He would bear it in silence. If the one could not be
found, there could certainly be no hope of the other.
Punctual as the clock, Mr. Arnold returned. It did not prejudice
him in favour of the reporter of bad tidings, that he begged a word
with him before dinner, when that was on the point of being served.
It was, indeed, exceeding impolitic; but Hugh would have felt like
an impostor, had he sat down to the table before making his
"Mr. Arnold, I am sorry to say I have been robbed, and in your
"In my house? Of what, pray, Mr. Sutherland?"
Mr. Arnold had taken the information as some weak men take any kind
of information referring to themselves or their belongings -- namely,
as an insult. He drew himself up, and lowered portentously.
"Of your ring, Mr. Arnold."
"Of -- my -- ring?"
And he looked at his ring-finger, as if he could not understand the
import of Hugh's words.
"Of the ring you lent me to decipher," explained Hugh.
"Do you suppose I do not understand you, Mr. Sutherland? A ring
which has been in the family for two hundred years at least! Robbed
of it? In my house? You must have been disgracefully careless, Mr.
Sutherland. You have lost it."
"Mr. Arnold," said Hugh, with dignity, "I am above using such a
subterfuge, even if it were not certain to throw suspicion where it
Mr. Arnold was a gentleman, as far as his self-importance allowed.
He did not apologize for what he had said, but he changed his
manner at once.
"I am quite bewildered, Mr. Sutherland. It is a very annoying piece
of news -- for many reasons."
"I can show you where I laid it -- in the safest corner in my room, I
"Of course, of course. It is enough you say so. We must not keep
the dinner waiting now. But after dinner I shall have all the
servants up, and investigate the matter thoroughly."
"So," thought Hugh with himself, "some one will be made a felon of,
because the cursed dead go stalking about this infernal house at
midnight, gathering their own old baubles. No, that will not do. I
must at least tell Mr. Arnold what I know of the doings of the
So Mr. Arnold must still wait for his dinner; or rather, which was
really of more consequence in the eyes of Mr. Arnold, the dinner
must be kept waiting for him. For order and custom were two of Mr.
Arnold's divinities; and the economy of his whole nature was apt to
be disturbed by any interruption of their laws, such as the
postponement of dinner for ten minutes. He was walking towards the
door, and turned with some additional annoyance when Hugh addressed
"One moment, Mr. Arnold, if you please."
Mr. Arnold merely turned and waited.
"I fear I shall in some degree forfeit your good opinion by what I
am about to say, but I must run the risk."
Mr. Arnold still waited.
"There is more about the disappearance of the ring than I can
"Or I either, Mr. Sutherland."
"But I must tell you what happened to myself, the night that I kept
watch in Lady Euphrasia's room."
"You said you slept soundly."
"So I did, part of the time."
"Then you kept back part of the truth?"
"Was that worthy of you?"
"I thought it best: I doubted myself."
"What has caused you to change your mind now?"
"This event about the ring."
"What has that to do with it? How do you even know that it was
taken on that night?"
"I do not know; for till this morning I had not opened the place
where it lay: I only suspect."
"I am a magistrate, Mr. Sutherland: I would rather not be prejudiced
"The person to whom my suspicions refer, is beyond your
jurisdiction, Mr. Arnold."
"I do not understand you."
"I will explain myself."
Hugh gave Mr. Arnold a hurried yet circumstantial sketch of the
apparition he believed he had seen.
"What am I to judge from all this?" asked he, coldly, almost
"I have told you the facts; of course I must leave the conclusions
to yourself, Mr. Arnold; but I confess, for my part, that any
disbelief I had in apparitions is almost entirely removed since --"
"Since you dreamed you saw one?"
"Since the disappearance of the ring," said Hugh.
"Bah!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold, with indignation. "Can a ghost fetch
and carry like a spaniel? Mr. Sutherland, I am ashamed to have such
a reasoner for tutor to my son. Come to dinner, and do not let me
hear another word of this folly. I beg you will not mention it to
"I have been silent hitherto, Mr. Arnold; but circumstances, such as
the commitment of any one on the charge of stealing the ring, might
compel me to mention the matter. It would be for the jury to
determine whether it was relevant or not."
It was evident that Mr. Arnold was more annoyed at the imputation
against the nocturnal habits of his house, than at the loss of the
ring, or even its possible theft by one of his servants. He looked
at Hugh for a moment as if he would break into a furious rage; then
his look gradually changed into one of suspicion, and, turning
without another word, he led the way to the dining-room, followed by
Hugh. To have a ghost held in his face in this fashion, one bred in
his own house, too, when he had positively declared his absolute
contempt for every legend of the sort, was more than man could bear.
He sat down to dinner in gloomy silence, breaking it only as often
as he was compelled to do the duties of a host, which he performed
with a greater loftiness of ceremony than usual.
There was no summoning of the servants after dinner, however.
Hugh's warning had been effectual. Nor was the subject once more
alluded to in Hugh's hearing. No doubt Mr. Arnold felt that
something ought to be done; but I presume he could never make up his
mind what that something ought to be. Whether any reasons for not
prosecuting the inquiry had occurred to him upon further reflection,
I am unable to tell. One thing is certain; that from this time he
ceased to behave to Hugh with that growing cordiality which he had
shown him for weeks past. It was no great loss to Hugh; but he felt
it; and all the more, because he could not help associating it with
that look of suspicion, the remains of which were still discernible
on Mr. Arnold's face. Although he could not determine the exact
direction of Mr. Arnold's suspicions, he felt that they bore upon
something associated with the crystal ring, and the story of the
phantom lady. Consequently, there was little more of comfort for
him at Arnstead.
Mr. Arnold, however, did not reveal his change of feeling so much by
neglect as by ceremony, which, sooner than anything else, builds a
wall of separation between those who meet every day. For the
oftener they meet, the thicker and the faster are the bricks and
mortar of cold politeness, evidently avoided insults, and subjected
manifestations of dislike, laid together.
A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW.
O, cocks are crowing a merry midnight,
I wot the wild-fowls are boding day;
Give me my faith and troth again,
And let me fare me on my way.
Sae painfully she clam the wa',
She clam the wa' up after him;
Hosen nor shoon upon her feet,
She hadna time to put them on.
Scotch Ballad. -- Clerk Saunders.
Dreary days passed. The reports of Euphra were as favourable as the
nature of the injury had left room to expect. Still they were but
reports: Hugh could not see her, and the days passed drearily. He
heard that the swelling was reduced, and that the ankle was found
not to be dislocated, but that the bones were considerably injured,
and that the final effect upon the use of the parts was doubtful.
The pretty foot lay aching in Hugh's heart. When Harry went to
bed, he used to walk out and loiter about the grounds, full of
anxious fears and no less anxious hopes. If the night was at all
obscure, he would pass, as often as he dared, under Euphra's window;
for all he could have of her now was a few rays from the same light
that lighted her chamber. Then he would steal away down the main
avenue, and thence watch the same light, whose beams, in that
strange play which the intellect will keep up in spite of -- yet in
association with -- the heart, made a photo-materialist of him. For
he would now no longer believe in the pulsations of an ethereal
medium; but -- that the very material rays which enlightened Euphra's
face, whether she waked or slept, stole and filtered through the
blind and the gathered shadows, and entered in bodily essence into
the mysterious convolutions of his brain, where his soul and heart
sought and found them.
When a week had passed, she was so far recovered as to be able to
see Mr. Arnold; from whom Hugh heard, in a somewhat reproachful
tone, that she was but the wreck of her former self. It was all
that Hugh could do to restrain the natural outbreak of his feelings.
A fortnight passed, and she saw Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily for a few
moments. They would have left before, but had yielded to Mr.
Arnold's entreaty, and were staying till Euphra should be at least
able to be carried from her room.
One day, when the visitors were out with Mr. Arnold, Jane brought a
message to Hugh, requesting him to walk into Miss Cameron's room,
for she wanted to see him. Hugh felt his heart flutter as if
doubting whether to stop at once, or to dash through its confining
bars. He rose and followed the maid. He stood over Euphra pale and
speechless. She lay before him wasted and wan; her eyes twice their
former size, but with half their former light; her fingers long and
transparent; and her voice low and feeble. She had just raised
herself with difficulty to a sitting posture, and the effort had
left her more weary.
"Hugh!" she said, kindly.
"Dear Euphra!" he answered, kissing the little hand he held in his.
She looked at him for a little while, and the tears rose in her
"Hugh, I am a cripple for life."
"God forbid, Euphra!" was all he could reply.
She shook her head mournfully. Then a strange, wild look came in
her eyes, and grew till it seemed from them to overflow and cover
her whole face with a troubled expression, which increased to a look
of dull agony.
"What is the matter, dear Euphra?" said Hugh, in alarm. "Is your
foot very painful?"
She made no answer. She was looking fixedly at his hand.
"Shall I call Jane?"
She shook her head.
"Can I do nothing for you?"
"No," she answered, almost angrily.
"Shall I go, Euphra?"
"Yes -- yes. Go."
He left the room instantly. But a sharp though stifled cry of
despair drew him back at a bound. Euphra had fainted.
He rang the bell for Jane; and lingered till he saw signs of
What could this mean? He was more perplexed with her than ever he
had been. Cunning love, however, soon found a way of explaining
it -- A way? -- Twenty ways -- not one of them the way.
Next day, Lady Emily brought him a message from Euphra -- not to
distress himself about her; it was not his fault.
This message the bearer of it understood to refer to the original
accident, as the sender of it intended she should: the receiver
interpreted it of the occurrence of the day before, as the sender
likewise intended. It comforted him.
It had become almost a habit with Hugh, to ascend the oak tree in
the evening, and sit alone, sometimes for hours, in the nest he had
built for Harry. One time he took a book with him; another he went
without; and now and then Harry accompanied him. But I have already
said, that often after tea, when the house became oppressive to him
from the longing to see Euphra, he would wander out alone; when,
even in the shadows of the coming night, he would sometimes climb
the nest, and there sit, hearing all that the leaves whispered about
the sleeping birds, without listening to a word of it, or trying to
interpret it by the kindred sounds of his own inner world, and the
tree-talk that went on there in secret. For the divinity of that
inner world had abandoned it for the present, in pursuit of an
earthly maiden. So its birds were silent, and its trees trembled
An aging moon was feeling her path somewhere through the heavens;
but a thin veil of cloud was spread like a tent under the hyaline
dome where she walked; so that, instead of a white moon, there was a
great white cloud to enlighten the earth, -- a cloud soaked full of
her pale rays. Hugh sat in the oak-nest. He knew not how long he
had been there. Light after light was extinguished in the house,
and still he sat there brooding, dreaming, in that state of mind in
which to the good, good things come of themselves, and to the evil,
evil things. The nearness of the Ghost's Walk did not trouble him,
for he was too much concerned about Euphra to fear ghost or demon.
His mind heeded them not, and so was beyond their influence.
But while he sat, he became aware of human voices. He looked out
from his leafy screen, and saw once more, at the end of the Ghost's
Walk, a form clothed in white. But there were voices of two. He
sent his soul into his ears to listen. A horrible, incredible,
impossible idea forced itself upon him -- that the tones were those of
Euphra and Funkelstein. The one voice was weak and complaining; the
other firm and strong.
"It must be some horrible ghost that imitates her," he said to
himself; for he was nearly crazy at the very suggestion.
He would see nearer, if only to get rid of that frightful
insinuation of the tempter. He descended the tree noiselessly. He
lost sight of the figure as he did so. He drew near the place where
he had seen it. But there was no sound of voices now to guide him.
As he came within sight of the spot, he saw the white figure in the
arms of another, a man. Her head was lying on his shoulder. A
moment after, she was lifted in those arms and borne towards the
house, -- down the Ghost's Avenue.
A burning agony to be satisfied of his doubts seized on Hugh. He
fled like a deer to the house by another path; tried, in his
suspicion, the library window; found it open, and was at Euphra's
door in a moment. Here he hesitated. She must be inside. How dare
he knock or enter?
If she was there, she would be asleep. He would not wake her.
There was no time to lose. He would risk anything, to be rid of
this horrible doubt.
He gently opened the door. The night-light was burning. He
thought, at first, that Euphra was in the bed. He felt like a
thief, but he stole nearer. She was not there. She was not on the
couch. She was not in the room. Jane was fast asleep in the
dressing-room. It was enough.
He withdrew. He would watch at his door to see her return, for she
must pass his door to reach her own. He waited a time that seemed
hours. At length -- horrible, far more horrible to him than the
vision of the ghost -- Euphra crept past him, appearing in the
darkness to crawl along the wall against which she supported
herself, and scarcely suppressing her groans of pain. She reached
her own room, and entering, closed the door.
Hugh was nearly mad. He rushed down the stair to the library, and
out into the wood. Why or whither he knew not.
Suddenly he received a blow on the head. It did not stun him, but
he staggered under it. Had he run against a tree? No. There was
the dim bulk of a man disappearing through the boles. He darted
after him. The man heard his footsteps, stopped, and waited in
silence. As Hugh came up to him, he made a thrust at him with some
weapon. He missed his aim. The weapon passed through his coat and
under his arm. The next moment, Hugh had wrenched the sword-stick
from him, thrown it away, and grappled with -- Funkelstein. But
strong as Hugh was, the Bohemian was as strong, and the contest was
doubtful. Strange as it may seem -- in the midst of it, while each
held the other unable to move, the conviction flashed upon Hugh's
mind, that, whoever might have taken Lady Euphrasia's ring, he was
grappling with the thief of his father's.
"Give me my ring," gasped he.
An imprecation of a sufficiently emphatic character was the only
reply. The Bohemian got one hand loose, and Hugh heard a sound like
the breaking of glass. Before he could gain any advantage -- for his
antagonist seemed for the moment to have concentrated all his force
in the other hand -- a wet handkerchief was held firmly to his face.
His fierceness died away; he was lapt in the vapour of dreams; and
his senses departed.
But ah! believe me, there is more than so,
That works such wonders in the minds of men;
I, that have often proved, too well it know;
And whoso list the like assays to ken,
Shall find by trial, and confess it then,
That beauty is not, as fond men misdeem,
An outward show of things that only seem!
But ye, fair dames, the world's dear ornaments,
And lively images of heaven's light,
Let not your beams with such disparagements
Be dimmed, and your bright glory darkened quite;
But, mindful still of your first country's sight,
Do still preserve your first informed grace,
Whose shadow yet shines in your beauteous face.
SPENSER. -- Hymn in Honour of Beauty.
When Hugh came to himself, he was lying, in the first grey of the
dawn, amidst the dews and vapours of the morning woods. He rose and
looked around him. The Ghost's Walk lay in long silence before him.
Here and there a little bird moved and peeped. The glory of a new
day was climbing up the eastern coast of heaven. It would be a day
of late summer, crowned with flame, and throbbing with ripening
life. But for him the spirit was gone out of the world, and it was
nought but a mass of blind, heartless forces.
Possibly, had he overheard the conversation, the motions only of
which he had overseen the preceding night, he would, although
equally perplexed, have thought more gently of Euphra; but, in the
mood into which even then he must have been thrown, his deeper
feelings towards her could hardly have been different from what they
were now. Although he had often felt that Euphra was not very good,
not a suspicion had crossed his mind as to what he would have called
the purity of her nature. Like many youths, even of character
inferior to his own, he had the loftiest notions of feminine grace,
and unspottedness in thought and feeling, not to say action and aim.
Now he found that he had loved a woman who would creep from her
chamber, at the cost of great suffering, and almost at the risk of
her life, to meet, in the night and the woods, a man no better than
an assassin -- probably a thief. Had he been more versed in the ways
of women, or in the probabilities of things, he would have judged
that the very extravagance of the action demanded a deeper
explanation than what seemed to lie on the surface. Yet, although
he judged Euphra very hardly upon those grounds, would he have
judged her differently had he actually known all? About this I am
left to conjecture alone.
But the effect on Hugh was different from what the ordinary reader
of human nature might anticipate. Instead of being torn in pieces
by storms of jealousy, all the summer growths of his love were
chilled by an absolute frost of death. A kind of annihilation sank
upon the image of Euphra. There had been no such Euphra. She had
been but a creation of his own brain. It was not so much that he
ceased to love, as that the being beloved -- not died, but -- ceased to
exist. There were moments in which he seemed to love her still with
a wild outcry of passion; but the frenzy soon vanished in the
selfish feeling of his own loss. His love was not a high one -- not
such as thine, my Falconer. Thine was love indeed; though its tale
is too good to tell, simply because it is too good to be believed;
and we do men a wrong sometimes when we tell them more than they can
Thought, Speculation, Suggestion, crowded upon each other, till at
length his mind sank passive, and served only as the lists in which
the antagonist thoughts fought a confused battle without herald or
But it is amazing to think how soon he began to look back upon his
former fascination with a kind of wondering unbelief. This bespoke
the strength of Hugh's ideal sense, as well as the weakness of his
actual love. He could hardly even recall the feelings with which,
on some well-remembered occasion, he had regarded her, and which
then it had seemed impossible he should ever forget. Had he
discovered the cloven foot of a demon under those trailing
garments -- he could hardly have ceased to love her more suddenly or
entirely. But there is an aching that is worse to bear than pain.
I trust my reader will not judge very hardly of Hugh, because of the
change which had thus suddenly passed upon his feelings. He felt
now just as he had felt on waking in the morning and finding that he
had been in love with a dream-lady all the night: it had been very
delightful, and it was sad that it was all gone, and could come back
no more. But the wonder to me is, not that some loves will not
stand the test of absence, but that, their nature being what it is,
they should outlast one week of familiar intercourse.
He mourned bitterly over the loss of those feelings, for they had
been precious to him. But could he help it? Indeed he could not;
for his love had been fascination; and the fascination having
ceased, the love was gone.
I believe some of my readers will not need this apology for Hugh;
but will rather admire the facility with which he rose above a
misplaced passion, and dismissed its object. So do not I. It came
of his having never loved. Had he really loved Euphra, herself, her
own self, the living woman who looked at him out of those eyes, out
of that face, such pity would have blended with the love as would
have made it greater, and permitted no indignation to overwhelm it.
As it was, he was utterly passive and helpless in the matter. The
fault lay in the original weakness that submitted to be so
fascinated; that gave in to it, notwithstanding the vague
expostulations of his better nature, and the consciousness that he
was neglecting his duty to Harry, in order to please Euphra and
enjoy her society. Had he persisted in doing his duty, it would at
least have kept his mind more healthy, lessened the absorption of
his passion, and given him opportunities of reflection, and moments
of true perception as to what he was about. But now the spell was
broken at once, and the poor girl had lost a worshipper. The golden
image with the feet of clay might arise in a prophet's dream, but it
could never abide in such a lover's. Her glance was powerless now.
Alas, for the withering of such a dream! Perhaps she deserved
nothing else; but our deserts, when we get them, are sad enough
All that day he walked as in a dream of loss. As for the person
whom he had used to call Euphra, she was removed to a vast distance
from him. An absolutely impassable gulf lay between them.
She sent for him. He went to her filled with a sense of
insensibility. She was much worse, and suffering great pain. Hugh
saw at once that she knew that all was over between them, and that
he had seen her pass his door, or had been in her room, for he had
left her door a little open, and she had left it shut. One
pathetic, most pitiful glance of deprecating entreaty she fixed upon
him, as after a few moments of speechless waiting, he turned to
leave the room -- which would have remained deathless in his heart,
but that he interpreted it to mean: "Don't tell;" so he got rid of
it at once by the grant of its supposed request. She made no effort
to detain him. She turned her face away, and, hard-hearted, he
heard her sob, not as if her heart would break -- that is little -- but
like an immortal woman in immortal agony, and he did not turn to
comfort her. Perhaps it was better -- how could he comfort her? Some
kinds of comfort -- the only kinds which poor mortals sometimes have
to give -- are like the food on which the patient and the disease live
together; and some griefs are soonest got rid of by letting them
burn out. All the fire-engines in creation can only prolong the
time, and increase the sense of burning. There is but one cure: the
fellow-feeling of the human God, which converts the agony itself
into the creative fire of a higher life.
As for Von Funkelstein, Hugh comforted himself with the conviction
that they were destined to meet again.
The day went on, as days will go, unstayed, unhastened by the human
souls, through which they glide silent and awful. After such
lessons as he was able to get through with Harry, -- who, feeling that
his tutor did not want him, left the room as soon as they were
over -- he threw himself on the couch, and tried to think. But think
he could not. Thoughts passed through him, but he did not think
them. He was powerless in regard to them. They came and went of
their own will: he could neither say come nor go. Tired at length
of the couch, he got up and paced about the room for hours. When he
came to himself a little, he found that the sun was nearly setting.
Through the top of a beech-tree taller than the rest, it sent a
golden light, full of the floating shadows of leaves and branches,
upon the wall of his room. But there was no beauty for him in the
going down of the sun; no glory in the golden light; no message from
dream-land in the flitting and blending and parting, the constantly
dissolving yet ever remaining play of the lovely and wonderful
shadow-leaves. The sun sank below the beech-top, and was hidden
behind a cloud of green leaves, thick as the wood was deep. A grey
light instead of a golden filled the room. The change had no
interest for him. The pain of a lost passion tormented him -- the
aching that came of the falling together of the ethereal walls of
his soul, about the space where there had been and where there was
no longer a world.
A young bird flew against the window, and fluttered its wings two or
three times, vainly seeking to overcome the unseen obstacle which
the glass presented to its flight. Hugh started and shuddered.
Then first he knew, in the influence of the signs of the
approaching darkness, how much his nerves had suffered from the
change that had passed. He took refuge with Harry. His pupil was
now to be his consoler; who in his turn would fare henceforth the
better, for the decay of Hugh's pleasures. The poor boy was filled
with delight at having his big brother all to himself again; and
worked harder than ever to make the best of his privileges. For
Hugh, it was wonderful how soon his peace of mind began to return
after he gave himself to his duty, and how soon the clouds of
disappointment descended below the far horizon, leaving the air
clear above and around. Painful thoughts about Euphra would still
present themselves; but instead of becoming more gentle and
sorrowful as the days went on, they grew more and more severe and
unjust and angry. He even entertained doubts whether she did not
know all about the theft of both rings, for to her only had he
discovered the secret place in the old desk. If she was capable of
what he believed, why should she not be capable of anything else?
It seemed to him most simple and credible. An impure woman might
just as well be a thief too. -- I am only describing Hugh's feelings.
But along with these feelings and thoughts, of mingled good and bad,
came one feeling which he needed more than any -- repentance. Seated
alone upon a fallen tree one day, the face of poor Harry came back
to him, as he saw it first, poring over Polexander in the library;
and, full of the joy of life himself, notwithstanding his past
troubles, strong as a sunrise, and hopeful as a Prometheus, the
quivering perplexity of that sickly little face smote him with a
pang. "What might I not have done for the boy! He, too, was in the
hands of the enchantress, and, instead of freeing him, I became her
slave to enchain him further." Yet, even in this, he did Euphra
injustice; for he had come to the conclusion that she had laid her
plans with the intention of keeping the boy a dwarf, by giving him
only food for babes, and not good food either, withholding from him
every stimulus to mental digestion and consequent hunger; and that
she had objects of her own in doing so -- one perhaps, to keep herself
necessary to the boy as she was to the father, and so secure the
future. But poor Euphra's own nature and true education had been
sadly neglected. A fine knowledge of music and Italian, and the
development of a sensuous sympathy with nature, could hardly be
called education. It was not certainly such a development of her
own nature as would enable her to sympathise with the necessities of
a boy's nature. Perhaps the worst that could justly be said of her
behaviour to Harry was, that, with a strong inclination to
despotism, and some feeling of loneliness, she had exercised the one
upon him in order to alleviate the other in herself. Upon him,
therefore, she expended a certain, or rather an uncertain kind of
affection, which, if it might have been more fittingly spent upon a
lapdog, and was worth but little, might yet have become worth
everything, had she been moderately good.
Hugh did not see Euphra again for more than a fortnight.
Hey, and the rue grows bonny wi' thyme!
And the thyme it is withered, and rue is in prime.
Refrain of an old Scotch song, altered by BURNS.
He hath wronged me; indeed he hath; -- at a word, he hath; -- believe
me; Robert Shallow, Esquire, saith he is wronged.
Merry Wives of Windsor.
At length, one evening, entering the drawing-room before dinner,
Hugh found Euphra there alone. He bowed with embarrassment, and
uttered some commonplace congratulation on her recovery. She
answered him gently and coldly. Her whole air and appearance were
signs of acute suffering. She did not make the slightest approach
to their former familiarity, but she spoke without any
embarrassment, like one who had given herself up, and was,
therefore, indifferent. Hugh could not help feeling as if she knew
every thought that was passing in his mind, and, having withdrawn
herself from him, was watching him with a cold, ghostly interest.
She took his arm to go into the dining-room, and actually leaned
upon it, as, indeed, she was compelled to do. Her uncle was
delighted to see her once more. Mrs. Elton addressed her with
kindness, and Lady Emily with sweet cordiality. She herself seemed
to care for nobody and nothing. As soon as dinner was over, she
sent for her maid, and withdrew to her own room. It was a great
relief to Hugh to feel that he was no longer in danger of
encountering her eyes.
Gradually she recovered strength, though it was again some days
before she appeared at the dinner-table. The distance between Hugh
and her seemed to increase instead of diminish, till at length he
scarcely dared to offer her the smallest civility, lest she should
despise him as a hypocrite. The further she removed herself from
him, the more he felt inclined to respect her. By common consent
they avoided, as much as before, any behaviour that might attract
attention; though the effort was of a very different nature now. It
was wretched enough, no doubt, for both of them.
The time drew near for Lady Emily's departure.
"What are your plans for the winter, Mrs. Elton?" said Mr. Arnold,
"I intend spending the winter in London," she answered.
"Then you are not going with Lady Emily to Madeira?"
"No. Her father and one of her sisters are going with her."
"I have a great mind to spend the winter abroad myself; but the
difficulty is what to do with Harry."
"Could you not leave him with Mr. Sutherland?"
"No. I do not choose to do that."
"Then let him come to me. I shall have all my little establishment
up, and there will be plenty of room for Harry."
"A very kind offer. I may possibly avail myself of it."
"I fear we could hardly accommodate his tutor, though. But that
will be very easily arranged. He could sleep out of the house,
could he not?"
"Give yourself no trouble about that. I wish Harry to have masters
for the various branches he will study. It will teach him more of
men and the world generally, and prevent his being too much
influenced by one style of thinking."
"But Mr. Sutherland is a very good tutor."
To this there could be no reply but a question; and Mr. Arnold's
manner not inviting one, the conversation was dropped.
Euphra gradually resumed her duties in the house, as far as great
lameness would permit. She continued to show a quiet and dignified
reserve towards Hugh. She made no attempts to fascinate him, and
never avoided his look when it chanced to meet hers. But although
there was no reproach any more than fascination in her eyes, Hugh's
always fell before hers. She walked softly like Ahab, as if, now
that Hugh knew, she, too, was ever conscious.
Her behaviour to Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily was likewise improved,
but apparently only from an increase of indifference. When the time
came, and they departed, she did not even appear to be much
Once she asked Hugh to help her with a passage of Dante, but
betrayed no memory of the past. His pleased haste to assist her,
showed that he at least, if fancy-free, was not memory-clear. She
thanked him very gently and truly, took up her book like a
school-girl, and limped away. Hugh was smitten to the heart. "If I
could but do something for her!" thought he; but there was nothing
to be done. Although she had deserved it, somehow her behaviour
made him feel as if he had wronged her in ceasing to love her.
One day, in the end of September, Mr. Arnold and Hugh were alone
after breakfast. Mr. Arnold spoke:
"Mr. Sutherland, I have altered my plans with regard to Harry. I
wish him to spend the winter in London."
Hugh listened and waited. Mr. Arnold went on, after a slight pause:
"There I wish him to reap such advantages as are to be gained in the
metropolis. He has improved wonderfully under your instruction; and
is now, I think, to be benefited principally by a variety of
teachers. I therefore intend that he shall have masters for the
different branches which it is desirable he should study.
Consequently I shall be compelled to deny him your services,
valuable as they have hitherto been."
"Very well, Mr. Arnold," said Mr. Sutherland, with the indifference
of one who feels himself ill-used. "When shall I take my leave of
"Not before the middle of the next month, at the earliest. But I
will write you a cheque for your salary at once."
So saying, Mr. Arnold left the room for a moment, and returning,
handed Hugh a cheque for a year's salary. Hugh glanced at it, and
offering it again to Mr. Arnold, said:
"No, Mr. Arnold; I can claim scarcely more than half a year's
"Mr. Sutherland, your engagement was at so much a year; and if I
prevent you from fulfilling your part of it, I am bound to fulfil
mine. Indeed, you might claim further provision."
"You are very kind, Mr. Arnold."
"Only just," rejoined Mr. Arnold, with conscious dignity. "I am
under great obligation to you for the way in which you have devoted
yourself to Harry."
Hugh's conscience gave him a pang. Is anything more painful than
"I have hardly done my duty by him," said he.
"I can only say that the boy is wonderfully altered for the better,
and I thank you. I am obliged to you: oblige me by putting the
cheque in your pocket."
Hugh persisted no longer in his refusal; and indeed it had been far
more a feeling of pride than of justice that made him decline
accepting it at first. Nor was there any generosity in Mr. Arnold's
cheque; for Hugh, as he admitted, might have claimed board and
lodging as well. But Mr. Arnold was one of the ordinarily
honourable, who, with perfect characters for uprightness, always
contrive to err on the safe side of the purse, and the doubtful side
of a severely interpreted obligation. Such people, in so doing, not
unfrequently secure for themselves, at the same time, the reputation
Hugh could not doubt that his dismissal was somehow or other
connected with the loss of the ring; but he would not stoop to
inquire into the matter. He hoped that time would set all right;
and, in fact, felt considerable indifference to the opinion of Mr.
Arnold, or of any one in the house, except Harry.
The boy burst into tears when informed of his father's decision with
regard to his winter studies, and could only be consoled by the hope
which Hugh held out to him -- certainly upon a very slight
foundation -- that they might meet sometimes in London. For the
little time that remained, Hugh devoted himself unceasingly to his
pupil; not merely studying with him, but walking, riding, reading
stories, and going through all sorts of exercises for the
strengthening of his person and constitution. The best results
followed both for Harry and his tutor.
I have done nothing good to win belief,
My life hath been so faithless; all the creatures
Made for heaven's honours, have their ends, and good ones;
All but...false women...When they die, like tales
Ill-told, and unbelieved, they pass away.
I will redeem one minute of my age,
Or, like another Niobe, I'll weep
Till I am water.
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. -- The Maid's Tragedy.
The days passed quickly by; and the last evening that Hugh was to
spend at Arnstead arrived. He wandered out alone. He had been with
Harry all day, and now he wished for a few moments of solitude. It
was a lovely autumn evening. He went into the woods behind the
house. The leaves were still thick upon the trees, but most of them
had changed to gold, and brown, and red; and the sweet faint odours
of those that had fallen, and lay thick underfoot, ascended like a
voice from the grave, saying: "Here dwelleth some sadness, but no
despair." As he strolled about among them, the whole history of his
past life arose before him. This often happens before any change in
our history, and is surest to take place at the approach of the
greatest change of all, when we are about to pass into the unknown,
whence we came.
In this mood, it was natural that his sins should rise before him.
They came as the shadows of his best pleasures. For now, in
looking back, he could fix on no period of his history, around which
the aureole, which glorifies the sacred things of the past, had
gathered in so golden a hue, as around the memory of the holy
cottage, the temple in which abode David, and Janet, and Margaret.
All the story glided past, as the necromantic Will called up the
sleeping dead in the mausoleum of the brain. And that solemn,
kingly, gracious old man, who had been to him a father, he had
forgotten; the homely tenderness which, from fear of its own force,
concealed itself behind a humorous roughness of manner, he had -- no,
not despised -- but forgotten, too; and if the dim pearly loveliness
of the trustful, grateful maiden had not been quite forgotten, yet
she too had been neglected, had died, as it were, and been buried in
the churchyard of the past, where the grass grows long over the
graves, and the moss soon begins to fill up the chiselled records.
He was ungrateful. He dared not allow to himself that he was
unloving; but he must confess himself ungrateful.
Musing sorrowfully and self-reproachfully, he came to the Ghost's
Avenue. Up and down its aisle he walked, a fit place for
remembering the past, and the sins of the present. Yielding himself
to what thoughts might arise, the strange sight he had seen here on
that moonlit night, of two silent wandering figures -- or could it be
that they were one and the same, suddenly changed in hue? -- returned
upon him. This vision had been so speedily followed by the second
and more alarming apparition of Lady Euphrasia, that he had hardly
had time to speculate on what the former could have been. He was
meditating upon all these strange events, and remarking to himself
that, since his midnight encounter with Lady Euphrasia, the house
had been as quiet as a church-yard at noon, when all suddenly, he
saw before him, at some little distance, a dark figure approaching
him. His heart seemed to bound into his throat and choke him, as he
said to himself: "It is the nun again!" But the next moment he saw
that it was Euphra. I do not know which he would have preferred not
meeting alone, and in the deepening twilight: Euphra, too, had
become like a ghost to him. His first impulse was to turn aside
into the wood, but she had seen him, and was evidently going to
address him. He therefore advanced to meet her. She spoke first,
approaching him with painful steps.
"I have been looking for you, Mr. Sutherland. I wanted very much to
have a little conversation with you before you go. Will you allow
Hugh felt like a culprit directly. Euphra's manner was quite
collected and kind; yet through it all a consciousness showed
itself, that the relation which had once existed between them had
passed away for ever. In her voice there was something like the
tone of wind blowing through a ruin.
"I shall be most happy," said he.
She smiled sadly. A great change had passed upon her.
"I am going to be quite open with you," she said. "I am perfectly
aware, as well as you are, that the boyish fancy you had for me is
gone. Do not be offended. You are manly enough, but your love for
me was boyish. Most first loves are childish, quite irrespective of
age. I do not blame you in the least."
This seemed to Hugh rather a strange style to assume, if all was
true that his own eyes had reported. She went on:
"Nor must you think it has cost me much to lose it."
Hugh felt hurt, at which no one who understands will be surprised.
"But I cannot afford to lose you, the only friend I have," she
Hugh turned towards her with a face full of manhood and truth.
"You shall not lose me, Euphra, if you will be honest to yourself
and to me."
"Thank you. I can trust you. I will be honest."
At that moment, without the revival of a trace of his former
feelings, Hugh felt nearer to her than he had ever felt before. Now
there seemed to be truth between them, the only medium through which
beings can unite.
"I fear I have wronged you much," she went on. "I do not mean some
time ago." Here she hesitated. -- "I fear I am the cause of your
"You, Euphra? No. You must be mistaken."
"I think not. But I am compelled to make an unwilling disclosure of
a secret -- a sad secret about myself. Do not hate me quite -- I am a
She hid her face in her hands, as if the night which had now closed
around them did not hide her enough. Hugh did not reply. Absorbed
in the interest which both herself and her confession aroused in
him, he could only listen eagerly. She went on, after a moment's
"I did not think at first that I had taken the ring. I thought
another had. But last night, and not till then, I discovered that I
was the culprit."
"That requires explanation. I have no recollection of the events of
the previous night when I have been walking in my sleep. Indeed,
the utter absence of a sense of dreaming always makes me suspect
that I have been wandering. But sometimes I have a vivid dream,
which I know, though I can give no proof of it, to be a reproduction
of some previous somnambulic experience. Do not ask me to recall
the horrors I dreamed last night. I am sure I took the ring."
"Then you dreamed what you did with it?"
"Yes, I gave it to --"
Here her voice sank and ceased. Hugh would not urge her.
"Have you mentioned this to Mr. Arnold?"
"No. I do not think it would do any good. But I will, if you wish
it," she added submissively.
"Not at all. Just as you think best."
"I could not tell him everything. I cannot tell you everything. If
I did, Mr. Arnold would turn me out of the house. I am a very
unhappy girl, Mr. Sutherland."
From the tone of these words, Hugh could not for a moment suppose
that Euphra had any remaining design of fascination in them.
"Perhaps he might want to keep you, if I told him all; but I do not
think, after the way he has behaved to you, that you could stay with
him, for he would never apologize. It is very selfish of me; but
indeed I have not the courage to confess to him."
"I assure you nothing could make me remain now. But what can I do
"Only let me depend upon you, in case I should need your help; or --"
Here Euphra stopped suddenly, and caught hold of Hugh's left hand,
which he had lifted to brush an insect from his face.
"Where is your ring?" she said, in a tone of suppressed anxiety.
"Gone, Euphra. My father's ring! It was lying beside Lady
Euphra's face was again hidden in her hands. She sobbed and moaned
like one in despair. When she grew a little calmer, she said:
"I am sure I did not take your ring, dear Hugh -- I am not a thief. I
had a kind of right to the other, and he said it ought to have been
his, for his real name was Count von Halkar -- the same name as Lady
Euphrasia's before she was married. He took it, I am sure."
"It was he that knocked me down in the dark that night then,
"Did he? Oh! I shall have to tell you all. -- That wretch has a
terrible power over me. I loved him once. But I refused to take
the ring from your desk, because I knew it would get you into
trouble. He threw me into a somnambulic sleep, and sent me for the
ring. But I should have remembered if I had taken yours. Even in
my sleep, I don't think he could have made me do that. You may know
I speak the truth, when I am telling my own disgrace. He promised
to set me free if I would get the ring; but he has not done it; and
he will not."
Sobs again interrupted her.
"I was afraid your ring was gone. I don't know why I thought so,
except that you hadn't it on, when you came to see me. Or perhaps
it was because I am sometimes forced to think what that wretch is
thinking. He made me go to him that night you saw me, Hugh. But I
was so ill, I don't think I should have been able, but that I could
not rest till I had asked him about your ring. He said he knew
nothing about it."
"I am sure be has it," said Hugh. And he related to Euphra the
struggle he had had with Funkelstein and its result. She shuddered.
"I have been a devil to you, Hugh; I have betrayed you to him. You
will never see your ring again. Here, take mine. It is not so good
as yours, but for the sake of the old way you thought of me, take
"No, no, Euphra; Mr. Arnold would miss it. Besides, you know it
would not be my father's ring, and it was not for the value of the
diamond I cared most about it. And I am not sure that I shall not
find it again. I am going up to London, where I shall fall in with
him, I hope."
"But do take care of yourself. He has no conscience. God knows, I
have had little, but he has none."
"I know he has none; but a conscience is not a bad auxiliary, and
there I shall have some advantage of him. But what could he want
that ring of Lady Euphrasia's for?"
"I don't know. He never told me."
"It was not worth much."
"Next to nothing."
"I shall be surer to find that than my own. And I will find it, if
I can, that Mr. Arnold may believe I was not to blame."
"Do. But be careful."
"Don't fear. I will be careful."
She held out her hand, as if to take leave of him, but withdrew it
again with the sudden cry:
"What shall I do? I thought he had left me to myself, till that
night in the library."
She held down her head in silence. Then she said, slowly, in a tone
"I am a slave, body and soul. -- Hugh!" she added, passionately, and
looking up in his face, "do you think there is a God?"
Her eyes glimmered with the faint reflex from gathered tears, that
And now Hugh's own poverty struck him with grief and humiliation.
Here was a soul seeking God, and he had no right to say that there
was a God, for he knew nothing about him. He had been told so; but
what could that far-off witness do for the need of a desolate heart?
She had been told so a million of times. He could not say that he
knew it. That was what she wanted and needed.
He was honest, and so replied:
"I do not know. I hope so."
He felt that she was already beyond him; for she had begun to cry
into the vague, seemingly heartless void, and say:
"Is there a God somewhere to hear me when I cry?"
And with all the teaching he had had, he had no word of comfort to
give. Yes, he had: he had known David Elginbrod.
Before he had shaped his thought, she said:
"I think, if there were a God, he would help me; for I am nothing
but a poor slave now. I have hardly a will of my own."
The sigh she heaved told of a hopeless oppression.
"The best man, and the wisest, and the noblest I ever knew," said
Hugh, "believed in God with his whole heart and soul and strength
and mind. In fact, he cared for nothing but God; or rather, he
cared for everything because it belonged to God. He was never afraid
of anything, never vexed at anything, never troubled about anything.
He was a good man."
Hugh was surprised at the light which broke upon the character of
David, as he held it before his mind's eye, in order to describe it
to Euphra. He seemed never to have understood him before.
"Ah! I wish I knew him. I would go to that man, and ask him to
save me. Where does he live?"
"Alas! I do not know whether he is alive or dead -- the more to my
shame. But he lives, if he lives, far away in the north of
"No. I could not go there. I will write to him."
Hugh could not discourage her, though he doubted whether a real
communication could be established between them.
"I will write down his address for you, when I go in," said he. "But
what can he save you from?"
"From no God," she answered, solemnly. "If there is no God, then I
am sure that there is a devil, and that he has got me in his power."
Hugh felt her shudder, for she was leaning on his arm, she was
still so lame. She continued:
"Oh! if I had a God, he would right me, I know."
Hugh could not reply. A pause followed.
"Good-bye. I feel pretty sure we shall meet again. My
presentiments are generally true," said Euphra, at length.
Hugh kissed her hand with far more real devotion than he had ever
kissed it with before.
She left him, and hastened to the house 'with feeble speed.' He was
sorry she was gone. He walked up and down for some time, meditating
on the strange girl and her strange words; till, hearing the dinner
bell, he too must hasten in to dress.
Euphra met him at the dinner-table without any change of her late
manner. Mr. Arnold wished him good night more kindly than usual.
When he went up to his room, he found that Harry had already cried
himself to sleep.
I fancy deemed fit guide to lead my way,
And as I deemed I did pursue her track;
Wit lost his aim, and will was fancy's prey;
The rebel won, the ruler went to wrack.
But now sith fancy did with folly end,
Wit, bought with loss -- will, taught by wit, will mend.
After dinner, Hugh wandered over the well-known places, to bid them
good-bye. Then he went up to his room, and, with the vanity of a
young author, took his poems out of the fatal old desk; wrote: "Take
them, please, such as they are. Let me be your friend;" inclosed
them with the writing, and addressed them to Euphra. By the time he
saw them again, they were so much waste paper in his eyes.
But what were his plans for the future?
First of all, he would go to London. There he would do many things.
He would try to find Funkelstein. He would write. He would make
acquaintance with London life; for had he not plenty of money in his
pocket? And who could live more thriftily than he? -- During his last
session at Aberdeen, he had given some private lessons, and so
contrived to eke out his small means. These were wretchedly paid
for, namely, not quite at the rate of sevenpence-halfpenny a lesson!
but still that was something, where more could not be had. -- Now he
would try to do the same in London, where he would be much better
paid. Or perhaps he might get a situation in a school for a short
time, if he were driven to ultimate necessity. At all events, he
would see London, and look about him for a little while, before he
settled to anything definite.
With this hopeful prospect before him, he next morning bade adieu to
Arnstead. I will not describe the parting with poor Harry. The boy
seemed ready to break his heart, and Hugh himself had enough to do
to refrain from tears. One of the grooms drove him to the railway
in the dog-cart. As they came near the station, Hugh gave him
half-a-crown. Enlivened by the gift, the man began to talk.
"He's a rum customer, that ere gemman with the foring name. The
colour of his puss I couldn't swear to now. Never saw sixpence o'
his'n. My opinion is, master had better look arter his spoons. And
for missus -- well, it's a pity! He's a rum un, as I say, anyhow."
The man here nodded several times, half compassionately, half
Hugh did not choose to inquire what he meant. They reached the
station, and in a few minutes he was shooting along towards London,
that social vortex, which draws everything towards its central
But there is a central repose beyond the motions of the world; and
through the turmoil of London, Hugh was journeying towards that wide
stillness -- that silence of the soul, which is not desolate, but rich
with unutterable harmonies.
END OF THE SECOND BOOK.
Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers?
Oh, sweet content!
Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplexed?
Dost thou laugh to see how fools are vexed
To add to golden numbers, golden numbers?
Oh, sweet content!
Work apace, apace, apace, apace;
Honest labour bears a lovely face.
Probably THOMAS DEKKER. -- Comedy of Patient Grissell.
Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Song in As You Like It.
Hugh felt rather dreary as, through Bermondsey, he drew nigh to the
London Bridge Station. Fog, and drizzle, and smoke, and stench
composed the atmosphere. He got out in a drift of human atoms.
Leaving his luggage at the office, he set out on foot to
explore -- in fact, to go and look for his future, which, even when he
met it, he would not be able to recognise with any certainty. The
first form in which he was interested to find it embodied, was that
of lodgings; but where even to look, he did not know. He had been
in London for a few days in the spring on his way to Arnstead, so he
was not utterly ignorant of the anatomy of the monster city; but his
little knowledge could not be of much service to him now. And how
different it was from the London of spring, which had lingered in
his memory and imagination; when, transformed by the "heavenly
alchemy" of the piercing sunbeams that slanted across the streets
from chimney-tops to opposite basements, the dust and smoke showed
great inclined planes of light, up whose steep slopes one longed to
climb to the fountain glory whence they flowed! Now the streets,
from garret to cellar, seemed like huge kennels of muddy, moist,
filthy air, down through which settled the heavier particles of
smoke and rain upon the miserable human beings who crawled below in
the deposit, like shrimps in the tide, or whitebait at the bottom of
the muddy Thames. He had to wade through deep thin mud even on the
pavements. Everybody looked depressed, and hurried by with a cowed
look; as if conscious that the rain and general misery were a plague
drawn down on the city by his own individual crime. Nobody seemed
to care for anybody or anything. "Good heavens!" thought Hugh; "what
a place this must be for one without money!" It looked like a chaos
of human nomads. And yet, in reality, the whole mass was so bound
together, interwoven, and matted, by the crossing and inter-twisting
threads of interest, mutual help, and relationship of every kind,
that Hugh soon found how hard it was to get within the mass at all,
so as to be in any degree partaker of the benefits it shared within
He did not wish to get lodgings in the outskirts, for he thought
that would remove him from every centre of action or employment.
But he saw no lodgings anywhere. Growing tired and hungry, he went
at length into an eating-house, which he thought looked cheap; and
proceeded to dine upon a cinder, which had been a steak. He tried
to delude himself into the idea that it was a steak still, by
withdrawing his attention from it, and fixing it upon a newspaper
two days old. Finding nothing of interest, he dallied with the
advertisements. He soon came upon a column from which single
gentlemen appeared to be in request as lodgers. Looking over these
advertisements, which had more interest for him at the moment than
all home and foreign news, battles and murders included, he drew a
map from his pocket, and began to try to find out some of the
localities indicated. Most of them were in or towards the suburbs.
At last he spied one in a certain square, which, after long and
diligent search, and with the assistance of the girl who waited on
him, he found on his map. It was in the neighbourhood of Holborn,
and, from the place it occupied in the map, seemed central enough
for his vague purposes. Above all, the terms were said to be
moderate. But no description of the character of the lodgings was
given, else Hugh would not have ventured to look at them. What he
wanted was something of the same sort as he had had in Aberdeen -- a
single room, or a room and bed-room, for which he should have to pay
only a few shillings a week.
Refreshed by his dinner, wretched as it was, he set out again. To
his great joy, the rain was over, and an afternoon sun was trying,
with some slight measure of success, to pierce the clouds of the
London atmosphere: it had already succeeded with the clouds of the
terrene. He soon found his way into Holborn, and thence into the
square in question. It looked to him very attractive; for it was
quietness itself, and had no thoroughfare, except across one of its
corners. True, it was invaded by the universal roar -- for what place
in London is not? -- but it contributed little or nothing of its own
manufacture to the general production of sound in the metropolis.
The centre was occupied by grass and trees, inclosed within an iron
railing. All the leaves were withered, and many had dropped already
on the pavement below. In the middle stood the statue of a queen,
of days gone by. The tide of fashion had rolled away far to the
west, and yielded a free passage to the inroads of commerce, and of
the general struggle for ignoble existence, upon this once favoured
island in its fluctuating waters. Old windows, flush with the
external walls, whence had glanced fair eyes to which fashion was
even dearer than beauty, now displayed Lodgings to Let between
knitted curtains, from which all idea of drapery had been expelled
by severe starching. Amongst these he soon found the house he sought,
and shrunk from its important size and bright equipments; but,
summoning courage, thought it better to ring the bell. A withered
old lady, in just the same stage of decay as the square, and adorned
after the same fashion as the house, came to the door, cast a
doubtful look at Hugh, and when he had stated his object, asked him,
in a hard, keen, unmodulated voice, to walk in. He followed her,
and found himself in a dining-room, which to him, judging by his
purse, and not by what he had been used to of late, seemed
sumptuous. He said at once:
"It is needless for me to trouble you further. I see your rooms
will not suit me."
The old lady looked annoyed.
"Will you see the drawing-room apartments, then?" she said,
"No, thank you. It would be giving you quite unnecessary trouble."
"My apartments have always given satisfaction, I assure you, sir."
"Indeed, I have no reason to doubt it. I wish I could afford to
take them," said Hugh, thinking it better to be open than to hurt
her feelings. "I am sure I should be very comfortable. But a
poor -- "
He did not know what to call himself.
"O-oh!" said the landlady. Then, after a pause -- "Well?"
"Well, I was a tutor last, but I don't know what I may be next."
She kept looking at him. Once or twice she looked at him from head
"You are respectable?"
"I hope so," said Hugh, laughing.
"Well!" -- this time not interrogatively.
"How many rooms would you like?"
"The fewer the better. Half a one, if there were nobody in the
"Well! --and you wouldn't give much trouble, I daresay."
"Only for coals and water to wash and drink."
"And you wouldn't dine at home?"
"No -- nor anywhere else," said Hugh; but the second and larger clause
was sotto voce.
"And you wouldn't smoke in-doors?"
"And you would wipe your boots clean before you went up-stairs?"
"Yes, certainly." Hugh was beginning to be exceedingly amused, but
he kept his gravity wonderfully.
"Have you any money?"
"Yes; plenty for the meantime. But when I shall get more, I don't
know, you see."
"Well, I've a room at the top of the house, which I'll make
comfortable for you; and you may stay as long as you like to behave
"But what is the rent?"
"Four shillings a week -- to you. Would you like to see it?"
"Yes, if you please."
She conducted him up to the third floor, and showed him a good-sized
room, rather bare, but clean.
"This will do delightfully," said Hugh.
"I will make it a little more comfortable for you, you know."
"Thank you very much. Shall I pay you a month in advance?"
"No, no," she answered, with a grim smile. "I might want to get rid
of you, you know. It must be a week's warning, no more."
"Very well. I have no objection. I will go and fetch my luggage.
I suppose I may come in at once?"
"The sooner the better, young man, in a place like London. The
sooner you come home the better pleased I shall be. There now!"
So saying, she walked solemnly down-stairs before him, and let him
out. Hugh hurried away to fetch his luggage, delighted that he had
so soon succeeded in finding just what he wanted. As he went, he
speculated on the nature of his landlady, trying to account for her
odd rough manner, and the real kindness of her rude words. He came
to the conclusion that she was naturally kind to profusion, and that
this kindness had, some time or other, perhaps repeatedly, been
taken shameful advantage of; that at last she had come to the
resolution to defend herself by means of a general misanthropy, and
supposed that she had succeeded, when she had got no further than to
have so often imitated the tone of her own behaviour when at its
crossest, as to have made it habitual by repetition.
In all probability some unknown sympathy had drawn her to Hugh. She
might have had a son about his age, who had run away thirty years
ago. Or rather, for she seemed an old maid, she had been jilted
some time by a youth about the same size as Hugh; and therefore she
loved him the moment she saw him. Or, in short, a thousand things.
Certainly seldom have lodgings been let so oddly or so cheaply.
But some impulse or other of the whimsical old human heart, which
will have its way, was satisfied therein.
When he returned in a couple of hours, with his boxes on the top of
a cab, the door was opened, before he knocked, by a tidy maid, who,
without being the least like her mistress, yet resembled her
excessively. She helped him to carry his boxes up-stairs; and when
he reached his room, he found a fire burning cheerily, a muffin down
before it, a tea-kettle singing on the hob, and the tea-tray set
upon a nice white cloth on a table right in front of the fire, with
an old-fashioned high-backed easy-chair by its side -- the very chair