Part 9 out of 12
impossibility of interesting them in anything. He tried telling
them stories even, without success. They stared at him, it is true;
but whether there was more speculation in the open mouths, or in the
fishy, overfed eyes, he found it impossible to determine. He could
not help feeling the riddle of Providence in regard to the birth of
these, much harder to read than that involved in the case of some of
the little thieves whose acquaintance he had made, when with
Falconer, the evening before. But he did his best; and before the
time had expired -- two hours, namely, -- he had found out, to his
satisfaction, that the elder had a turn for sums, and the younger
for drawing. So he made use of these predilections to bribe them to
the exercise of their intellect upon less-favoured branches of human
accomplishment. He found the plan operate as well as it could have
been expected to operate upon such material.
But one or two little incidents, relating to his intercourse with
Mrs. Appleditch, I must not omit. Though a mother's love is more
ready to purify itself than most other loves -- yet there is a class
of mothers, whose love is only an extended, scarcely an expanded,
selfishness. Mrs. Appleditch did not in the least love her children
because they were children, and children committed to her care by
the Father of all children; but she loved them dearly because they
were her children.
One day Hugh gave Master Appleditch a smart slap across the fingers,
as the ultimate resource. The child screamed as he well knew how.
His mother burst into the room.
"Johnny, hold your tongue!"
"Teacher's been and hurt me."
"Hold your tongue, I say. My head's like to split. Get out of the
room, you little ruffian!"
She seized him by the shoulders, and turned him out, administering a
box on his ear that made the room ring. Then turning to Hugh,
"Mr. Sutherland, how dare you strike my child?" she demanded.
"He required it, Mrs. Appleditch. I did him no harm. He will mind
what I say another time."
"I will not have him touched. It's disgraceful. To strike a
She belonged to that class of humane parents who consider it cruel
to inflict any corporal suffering upon children, except they do it
themselves, and in a passion. Johnnie behaved better after this,
however; and the only revenge Mrs. Appleditch took for this
interference with the dignity of her eldest born, and, consequently,
with her own as his mother, was, that -- with the view, probably, of
impressing upon Hugh a due sense of the menial position he occupied
in her family -- she always paid him his fee of one shilling and
sixpence every day before he left the house. Once or twice she
contrived accidentally that the sixpence should be in coppers. Hugh
was too much of a philosopher, however, to mind this from such a
woman. I am afraid he rather enjoyed her spite; for he felt it did
not touch him, seeing it could not be less honourable to be paid by
the day than by the quarter or by the year. Certainly the coppers
were an annoyance; but if the coppers could be carried, the
annoyance could be borne. The real disgust in the affair was, that
he had to meet and speak with a woman every day, for whom he could
feel nothing but contempt and aversion. Hugh was not yet able to
mingle with these feelings any of the leaven of that charity which
they need most of all who are contemptible in the eye of their
fellows. Contempt is murder committed by the intellect, as hatred
is murder committed by the heart. Charity having life in itself, is
the opposite and destroyer of contempt as well as of hatred.
After this, nothing went amiss for some time. But it was very
dreary work to teach such boys -- for the younger came in for the odd
sixpence. Slow, stupid, resistance appeared to be the only
principle of their behaviour towards him. They scorned the man whom
their mother despised and valued for the self-same reason, namely,
that he was cheap. They would have defied him had they dared, but
he managed to establish an authority over them -- and to increase it.
Still, he could not rouse them to any real interest in their
studies. Indeed, they were as near being little beasts as it was
possible for children to be. Their eyes grew dull at a story-book,
but greedily bright at the sight of bull's eyes or toffee. It was
the same day after day, till he was sick of it. No doubt they made
some progress, but it was scarcely perceptible to him. Through fog
and fair, through frost and snow, through wind and rain, he trudged
to that wretched house. No one minds the weather -- no young
Scotchman, at least -- where any pleasure waits the close of the
struggle: to fight his way to misery was more than he could well
endure. But his deliverance was nearer than he expected. It was
not to come just yet, however.
All went on with frightful sameness, till sundry doubtful symptoms
of an alteration in the personal appearance of Hugh having
accumulated at last into a mass of evidence, forced the conviction
upon the mind of the grocer's wife, that her tutor was actually
growing a beard. Could she believe her eyes? She said she could
not. But she acted on their testimony notwithstanding; and one day
suddenly addressing Hugh, said, in her usual cold, thin, cutting
fashion of speech:
"Mr. Sutherland, I am astonished and grieved that you, a teacher of
babes, who should set an example to them, should disguise yourself
in such an outlandish figure."
"What do you mean, Mrs. Appleditch?" asked Hugh, who, though he had
made up his mind to follow the example of Falconer, yet felt
uncomfortable enough, during the transition period, to know quite
well what she meant.
"What do I mean, sir? It is a shame for a man to let his beard grow
like a monkey."
"But a monkey hasn't a beard," retorted Hugh, laughing. "Man is the
only animal who has one."
This assertion, if not quite correct, was approximately so, and went
much nearer the truth than Mrs. Appleditch's argument.
"It's no joking matter, Mr. Sutherland, with my two darlings growing
up to be ministers of the gospel."
"What! both of them?" thought Hugh. "Good heavens!" But he said:
"Well, but you know, Mrs. Appleditch, the Apostles themselves wore
"Yes, when they were Jews. But who would have believed them if they
had preached the gospel like old clothesmen? No, no, Mr.
Sutherland, I see through all that. My own uncle was a preacher of
the word. -- As soon as the Apostles became Christians, they shaved.
It was the sign of Christianity. The Apostle Paul himself says
that cleanliness is next to godliness."
Hugh restrained his laughter, and shifted his ground.
"But there is nothing dirty about them," he said.
"Not dirty? Now really, Mr. Sutherland, you provoke me. Nothing
dirty in long hair all round your mouth, and going into it every
spoonful you take?"
"But it can be kept properly trimmed, you know."
"But who's to trust you to do that? No, no, Mr. Sutherland; you
must not make a guy of yourself."
Hugh laughed, and said nothing. Of course his beard would go on
growing, for he could not help it.
So did Mrs. Appleditch's wrath.
Wo keine Götter sind, walten Gespenster.
NOVALIS. -- Christenheit.
Where gods are not, spectres rule.
Ein Charakter ist ein vollkommen gebildeter Wille.
NOVALIS. -- Moralische Ansichten.
A character is a perfectly formed will.
It was not long before Hugh repeated his visit to Falconer. He was
not at home. He went again and again, but still failed in finding
him. The day after the third failure, however, he received a note
from Falconer, mentioning an hour at which he would be at home on
the following evening. Hugh went. Falconer was waiting for him.
"I am very sorry. I am out so much," said Falconer.
"I ought to have taken the opportunity when I had it," replied Hugh.
"I want to ask your help. May I begin at the beginning, and tell
you all the story? or must I epitomize and curtail it?"
"Be as diffuse as you please. I shall understand the thing the
So Hugh began, and told the whole of his history, in as far as it
bore upon the story of the crystal. He ended with the words:
"I trust, Mr. Falconer, you will not think that it is from a love of
talking that I have said so much about this affair."
"Certainly not. It is a remarkable story. I will think what can be
done. Meantime I will keep my eyes and ears open. I may find the
fellow. Tell me what he is like."
Hugh gave as minute a description of the count as he could.
"I think I see the man," said Falconer. "I am pretty sure I shall
"Have you any idea what he could want with the ring?"
"It is one of the curious coincidences which are always happening,"
answered Falconer, "that a newspaper of this very day would have
enabled me, without any previous knowledge of similar facts, to give
a probably correct suggestion as to his object. But you can judge
So saying, Falconer went to a side-table, heaped up with books and
papers, maps, and instruments of various kinds, apparently in
triumphant confusion. Without a moment's hesitation,
notwithstanding, he selected the paper he wanted, and handed it to
Hugh, who read in it a letter to the editor, of which the following
is a portion: --
"I have for over thirty years been in the habit of investigating the
question by means of crystals. And since 18--, I have possessed the
celebrated crystal, once belonging to Lady Blessington, in which
very many persons, both children and adults, have seen visions of
the spirits of the deceased, or of beings claiming to be such, and
of numerous angels and other beings of the spiritual world. These
have in all cases supported the purest and most liberal
Christianity. The faculty of seeing in the crystal I have found to
exist in about one person in ten among adults, and in nearly nine in
every ten among children; many of whom appear to lose the faculty as
they grow to adult age, unless they practise it continually."
"Is it possible," said Hugh, pausing, "that this can be a veritable
paper of to-day? Are there people to believe such things?"
"There are more fools in the world, Mr. Sutherland, than there are
crystals in its mountains."
Hugh resumed his reading. He came at length to this passage:
"The spirits -- which I feel certain they are -- which appear, do not
hesitate to inform us on all possible subjects which may tend to
improve our morals, and confirm our faith in the Christian
doctrines... The character they give of the class of spirits who are
in the habit of communicating with mortals by rapping and such
proceedings, is such that it behoves all Christian people to be on
their guard against error and delusion through their means."
Hugh had read this passage aloud.
"Is not that a comfort, now, Mr. Sutherland?" said Falconer. "For in
all the reports which I have seen of the religious instruction
communicated in that highly articulate manner, Calvinism, high and
low, has predominated. I strongly suspect the crystal phantoms of
Arminianism, though. Fancy the old disputes of infant Christendom
perpetuated amongst the paltry ghosts of another realm!"
"But," said Hugh, "I do not quite see how this is to help me, as to
the count's object in securing the ring; for certainly, however
deficient he may be in such knowledge, he is not likely to have
committed the theft for the sake of instruction in the doctrines of
"No. But such a crystal might be put to other, not to say better,
uses. Besides, Lady Blessington's crystal might be a pious crystal;
and the other which belonged to Lady -- "
"To Lady Euphrasia, might be a worldly crystal altogether. This
might reveal demons and their counsels, while that was haunted by
theological angels and evangelical ghosts."
"Ah! I see. I should have thought, however, that the count had
been too much of a man of the world to believe such things."
"He might find his account in it, notwithstanding. But no amount of
world-wisdom can set a man above the inroads of superstition. In
fact, there is but one thing that can free a man from superstition,
and that is belief. All history proves it. The most sceptical have
ever been the most credulous. This is one of the best arguments for
the existence of something to believe."
"You remind me of a passage in my story which I omitted, as
irrelevant to the matter in hand."
"Do let me have it. It cannot fail to interest me."
Hugh gave a complete account of the experiments they had made with
the careering plate. Now the writing of the name of David Elginbrod
was the most remarkable phenomenon of the whole, and Hugh was
compelled, in responding to the natural interest of Falconer, to
give a description of David. This led to a sketch of his own
sojourn at Turriepuffit; in which the character of David came out
far more plainly than it could have come out in any description.
When he had finished, Falconer broke out, as if he had been
hitherto restraining his wrath with difficulty:
"And that was the man the creatures dared to personate! I hate the
whole thing, Sutherland. It is full of impudence and irreverence.
Perhaps the wretched beings may want another thousand years'
damnation, because of the injury done to their character by the
homage of men who ought to know better."
"I do not quite understand you."
"I mean, that you ought to believe as easily that such a man as you
describe is laughing with the devil and his angels, as that he wrote
a copy at the order of a charlatan, or worse."
"But it could hardly be deception."
"Not deception? A man like him could not get through them without
"I don't understand you. By whom?"
"By swarms of low miserable creatures that so lament the loss of
their beggarly bodies that they would brood upon them in the shape
of flesh-flies, rather than forsake the putrifying remnants. After
that, chair or table or anything that they can come into contact
with, possesses quite sufficient organization for such. Don't you
remember that once, rather than have no body to go into, they crept
into the very swine? There was a fine passion for self-embodiment
and sympathy! But the swine themselves could not stand it, and
"Then you do think there was something supernatural in it?"
"Nothing in the least. It required no supernatural powers to be
aware that a great man was dead, and that you had known him well.
It annoys me, Sutherland, that able men, ay, and good men too,
should consult with ghosts whose only possible superiority consists
in their being out of the body. Why should they be the wiser for
that? I should as soon expect to gain wisdom by taking off my
clothes, and to lose it by getting into bed; or to rise into the
seventh heaven of spirituality by having my hair cut. An impudent
forgery of that good man's name! If I were you, Sutherland, I would
have nothing to do with such a low set. They are the canaille of
the other world. It's of no use to lay hold on their skirts, for
they can't fly. They're just like the vultures -- easy to catch,
because they're full of garbage. I doubt if they have more
intellect left than just enough to lie with. -- I have been compelled
to think a good deal about these things of late."
Falconer put a good many questions to Hugh, about Euphra and her
relation to the count; and such was the confidence with which he had
inspired him, that Hugh felt at perfect liberty to answer them all
fully, not avoiding even the exposure of his own feelings, where
that was involved by the story.
"Now," said Falconer, "I have material out of which to construct a
theory. The count is at present like a law of nature concerning
which a prudent question is the first half of the answer, as Lord
Bacon says; and you can put no question without having first formed
a theory, however slight or temporary; for otherwise no question
will suggest itself. But, in the meantime, as I said before, I will
make inquiry upon the theory that he is somewhere in London,
although I doubt it."
"Then I will not occupy your time any longer at present," said Hugh.
"Could you say, without fettering yourself in the least, when I
might be able to see you again?"
"Let me see. I will make an appointment with you. -- Next Sunday;
here; at ten o'clock in the morning. Make a note of it."
"There is no fear of my forgetting it. My consolations are not so
numerous that I can afford to forget my sole pleasure. You, I
should think, have more need to make a note of it than I, though I
am quite willing to be forgotten, if necessary."
"I never forget my engagements," said Falconer.
They parted, and Hugh went home to his novel.
QUESTIONS AND DREAMS.
On a certain time the Lady St. Mary had commanded the Lord Jesus to
fetch her some water out of the well. And when he had gone to fetch
the water, the pitcher, when it was brought up full, brake. But
Jesus, spreading his mantle, gathered up the water again, and
brought it in that to his mother. -- The First (apocryphal) Gospel of
the INFANCY of JESUS CHRIST.
Mrs. Elton read prayers morning and evening; -- very elaborate
compositions, which would have instructed the apostles themselves in
many things they had never anticipated. But, unfortunately, Mrs.
Elton must likewise read certain remarks, in the form of a homily,
intended to impress the scripture which preceded it upon the minds
of the listeners. Between the mortar of the homilist's faith, and
the dull blows of the pestle of his arrogance, the fair form of
truth was ground into the powder of pious small talk. This result
was not pleasant either to Harry or to Euphra. Euphra, with her
life threatening to go to ruin about her, was crying out for him who
made the soul of man, "who loved us into being,"2 and who alone can
renew the life of his children; and in such words as those a
scoffing demon seemed to mock at her needs. Harry had the natural
dislike of all childlike natures to everything formal, exclusive,
and unjust. But, having received nothing of what is commonly called
a religious training, this advantage resulted from his new
experiences in Mrs. Elton's family, that a good direction was given
to his thoughts by the dislike which he felt to such utterances.
More than this: a horror fell upon him lest these things should be
true; lest the mighty All of nature should be only a mechanism,
without expression and without beauty; lest the God who made us
should be like us only in this, that he too was selfish and mean and
proud; lest his ideas should resemble those that inhabit the brain
of a retired money-maker, or of an arbitrary monarch claiming a
divine right -- instead of towering as the heavens over the earth,
above the loftiest moods of highest poet, most generous child, or
most devoted mother. I do not mean that these thoughts took these
shapes in Harry's mind; but that his feelings were such as might
have been condensed into such thoughts, had his intellect been more
One morning, the passage of scripture which Mrs. Elton read was the
story of the young man who came to Jesus, and went away sorrowful,
because the Lord thought so well of him, and loved him so heartily,
that he wanted to set him free from his riches. A great portion of
the homily was occupied with proving that the evangelist could not
possibly mean that Jesus loved the young man in any pregnant sense
of the word; but merely meant that Jesus "felt kindly disposed
towards him" -- felt a poor little human interest in him, in fact, and
did not love him divinely at all.
Harry's face was in a flame all the time she was reading. When the
service was over -- and a bond service it was for Euphra and him -- they
left the room together. As soon as the door was shut, he burst out:
"I say, Euphra! Wasn't that a shame? They would have Jesus as bad
as themselves. We shall have somebody writing a book next to prove
that after all Jesus was a Pharisee."
"Never mind," said the heart-sore, sceptical Euphra; "never mind,
Harry; it's all nonsense."
"No, it's not all nonsense. Jesus did love the young man. I
believe the story itself before all the Doctors of Divinity in the
world. He loves all of us, he does -- with all his heart, too."
"I hope so," was all she could reply; but she was comforted by
Harry's vehement confession of faith.
Euphra was so far softened, or perhaps weakened, by suffering, that
she yielded many things which would have seemed impossible before.
One of these was that she went to church with Mrs. Elton, where
that lady hoped she would get good to her soul. Harry of course was
not left behind. The church she frequented was a fashionable one,
with a vicar more fashionable still; for had he left that church,
more than half his congregation, which consisted mostly of ladies,
would have left it also, and followed him to the ends of London. He
was a middle-aged man, with a rubicund countenance, and a gentle
familiarity of manner, that was exceedingly pleasing to the
fashionable sheep who, conscious that they had wandered from the
fold, were waiting with exemplary patience for the barouches and
mail-phaetons of the skies to carry them back without the trouble of
walking. Alas for them! they have to learn that the chariots of
heaven are chariots of fire.
The Sunday morning following the conversation I have just recorded,
the clergyman's sermon was devoted to the illustration of the
greatness and condescension of the Saviour. After a certain amount
of tame excitement expended upon the consideration of his power and
kingdom, one passage was wound up in this fashion:
"Yes, my friends, even her most gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria,
the ruler over millions diverse in speech and in hue, to whom we all
look up with humble submission, and whom we acknowledge as our
sovereign lady -- even she, great as she is, adds by her homage a
jewel to his crown; and, hailing him as her Lord, bows and renders
him worship! Yet this is he who comes down to visit, yea, dwells
with his own elect, his chosen ones, whom he has led back to the
fold of his grace."
For some reason, known to himself, Falconer had taken Hugh, who had
gone to him according to appointment that morning, to this same
church. As they came out, Hugh said:
"Mr. --- is quite proud of the honour done his master by the queen."
"I do not think," answered Falconer, "that his master will think so
much of it; for he once had his feet washed by a woman that was a
The homily which Mrs. Elton read at prayers that evening, bore upon
the same subject nominally as the chapter that preceded it -- that of
election; a doctrine which in the Bible asserts the fact of God's
choosing certain persons for the specific purpose of receiving
first, and so communicating the gifts of his grace to the whole
world; but which, in the homily referred to, was taken to mean the
choice of certain persons for ultimate salvation, to the exclusion
of the rest. They were sitting in silence after the close, when
Harry started up suddenly, saying: "I don't want God to love me, if
he does not love everybody;" and, bursting into tears, hurried out
of the room. Mrs. Elton was awfully shocked at his wickedness.
Euphra, hastened after him; but he would not return, and went
supperless to bed. Euphra, however, carried him some supper. He
sat up in bed and ate it with the tears in his eyes. She kissed
him, and bade him good night; when, just as she was leaving the
room, he broke out with:
"But only think, Euphra, if it should be true! I would rather not
have been made."
"It is not true," said Euphra, in whom a faint glimmer of faith in
God awoke for the sake of the boy whom she loved -- awoke to comfort
him, when it would not open its eyes for herself. "No, Harry dear,
if there is a God at all, he is not like that."
"No, he can't be," said Harry, vehemently, and with the brightness
of a sudden thought; "for if he were like that, he wouldn't be a God
worth being; and that couldn't be, you know."
Euphra knelt by her bedside, and prayed more hopefully than for many
days before. She prayed that God would let her know that he was not
an idol of man's invention.
Till friendly sleep came, and untied the knot of care, both Euphra
and Harry lay troubled with things too great for them. Even in
their sleep, the care would gather again, and body itself into
dreams. The first thought that visited Harry when he awoke, was the
memory of his dream: that he died and went to heaven; that heaven
was a great church just like the one Mrs. Elton went to, only
larger; that the pews were filled with angels, so crowded together
that they had to tuck up their wings very close indeed -- and Harry
could not help wondering what they wanted them for; that they were
all singing psalms; that the pulpit by a little change had been
converted into a throne, on which sat God the Father, looking very
solemn and severe; that Jesus was seated in the reading-desk,
looking very sad; and that the Holy Ghost sat on the clerk's desk,
in the shape of a white dove; that a cherub, whose face reminded him
very much of a policeman he knew, took him by the shoulder for
trying to pluck a splendid green feather out of an archangel's wing,
and led him up to the throne, where God shook his head at him in
such a dreadful way, that he was terrified, and then stretched out
his hand to lay hold on him; that he shrieked with fear; and that
Jesus put out his hand and lifted him into the reading-desk, and hid
him down below. And there Harry lay, feeling so safe, stroking and
kissing the feet that had been weary and wounded for him, till, in
the growing delight of the thought that he actually held those feet,
he came awake and remembered it all. Truly it was a childish dream,
but not without its own significance. For surely the only refuge
from heathenish representations of God under Christian forms, the
only refuge from man's blinding and paralysing theories, from the
dead wooden shapes substituted for the living forms of human love
and hope and aspiration, from the interpretations which render
scripture as dry as a speech in Chancery -- surely the one refuge from
all these awful evils is the Son of man; for no misrepresentation
and no misconception can destroy the beauty of that face which the
marring of sorrow has elevated into the region of reality, beyond
the marring of irreverent speculation and scholastic definition.
From the God of man's painting, we turn to the man of God's being,
and he leads us to the true God, the radiation of whose glory we
first see in him. Happy is that man who has a glimpse of this, even
in a dream such as Harry's! -- a dream in other respects childish and
incongruous, but not more absurd than the instruction whence it
But the troubles returned with the day. Prayers revived them. He
sought Euphra in her room.
"They say I must repent and be sorry for my sins," said he. "I have
been trying very hard; but I can't think of any, except once that I
gave Gog" (his Welsh pony) "such a beating because he would go where
I didn't want him. But he's forgotten it long ago; and I gave him
two feeds of corn after it, and so somehow I can't feel very sorry
now. What shall I do? -- But that's not what I mind most. It always
seems to me it would be so much grander of God to say: 'Come along,
never mind. I'll make you good. I can't wait till you are good; I
love you so much.'"
His own words were too much for Harry, and he burst into tears at
the thought of God being so kind. Euphra, instead of trying to
comfort him, cried too. Thus they continued for some time, Harry
with his head on her knees, and she kindly fondling it with her
distressed hands. Harry was the first to recover; for his was the
April time, when rain clears the heavens. All at once he sprung to
his feet, and exclaimed:
"Only think, Euphra! What if, after all, I should find out that God
is as kind as you are!"
How Euphra's heart smote her!
"Dear Harry," answered she, "God must be a great deal kinder than I
am. I have not been kind to you at all."
"Don't say that, Euphra. I shall be quite content if God is as kind
"Oh, Harry! I hope God is like what I dreamed about my mother last
"Tell me what you dreamed about her, dear Euphra."
"I dreamed that I was a little child -- "
"Were you a little girl when your mother died?"
"Oh, yes; such a tiny! But I can just remember her."
"Tell me your dream, then."
"I dreamed that I was a little girl, out all alone on a wild
mountain-moor, tripping and stumbling on my night-gown. And the
wind was so cold! And, somehow or other, the wind was an enemy to
me, and it followed and caught me, and whirled and tossed me about,
and then ran away again. Then I hastened on, and the thorns went
into my feet, and the stones cut them. And I heard the blood from
them trickling down the hill-side as I walked."
"Then they would be like the feet I saw in my dream last night."
"Whose feet were they?"
"Tell me about it."
"You must finish yours first, please, Euphra."
So Euphra went on:
"I got dreadfully lame. And the wind ran after me, and caught me
again, and took me in his great blue ghostly arms, and shook me
about, and then dropped me again to go on. But it was very hard to
go on, and I couldn't stop; and there was no use in stopping, for
the wind was everywhere in a moment. Then suddenly I saw before me
a great cataract, all in white, falling flash from a precipice; and
I thought with myself, 'I will go into the cataract, and it will
beat my life out, and then the wind will not get me any more.' So I
hastened towards it, but the wind caught me many times before I got
near it. At last I reached it, and threw myself down into the basin
it had hollowed out of the rocks. But as I was falling, something
caught me gently, and held me fast, and it was not the wind. I
opened my eyes, and behold! I was in my mother's arms, and she was
clasping me to her breast; for what I had taken for a cataract
falling into a gulf, was only my mother, with her white
grave-clothes floating all about her, standing up in her grave, to
look after me. 'It was time you came home, my darling,' she said,
and stooped down into her grave with me in her arms. And oh! I was
so happy; and her bosom was not cold, or her arms hard, and she
carried me just like a baby. And when she stooped down, then a door
opened somewhere in the grave, I could not find out where
exactly -- and in a moment after, we were sitting together in a summer
grove, with the tree-tops steeped in sunshine, and waving about in a
quiet loving wind -- oh, how different from the one that chased me
home! -- and we underneath in the shadow of the trees. And then I
said, 'Mother, I've hurt my feet.'"
"Did you call her mother when you were a little girl?" interposed
"No," answered Euphra. "I called her mamma, like other children; but
in my dreams I always call her mother."
"And what did she say?"
"She said -- 'Poor child!' -- and held my feet to her bosom; and after
that, when I looked at them, the bleeding was all gone, and I was
not lame any more."
Euphra, paused with a sigh.
"Oh, Harry! I do not like to be lame."
"What more?" said Harry, intent only on the dream.
"Oh! then I was so happy, that I woke up directly."
"What a pity! But if it should come true?"
"How could it come true, dear Harry?"
"Why, this world is sometimes cold, and the road is hard -- you know
what I mean, Euphra."
"Yes, I do."
"I wish I could dream dreams like that! How clever you must be!"
"But you dream dreams, too, Harry. Tell me yours."
"Oh, no, I never dream dreams; the dreams dream me," answered Harry,
with a smile.
Then he told his dream, to which Euphra listened with an interest
uninjured by the grotesqueness of its fancy. Each interpreted the
other's with reverence.
They ceased talking; and sat silent for a while. Then Harry,
putting his arms round Euphra's neck, and his lips close to her ear,
"Perhaps God will say my darling to you some day, Euphra; just as
your mother did in your dream."
She was silent. Harry looked round into her face, and saw that the
tears were flowing fast.
At that instant, a gentle knock came to the door. Euphra could not
reply to it. It was repeated. After another moment's delay, the
door opened, and Margaret walked in.
A SUNDAY WITH FALCONER.
How happy is he born and taught,
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill.
This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise or fear to fall:
Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And, having nothing, yet hath all.
SIR HENRY WOTTON.
It was not often that Falconer went to church; but he seemed to have
some design in going oftener than usual at present. The Sunday
after the one last mentioned, he went as well, though not to the
same church, and calling for Hugh took him with him. What they
found there, and the conversation following thereupon, I will try to
relate, because, although they do not immediately affect my outward
story, they greatly influenced Hugh's real history.
They heard the Morning Service and the Litany read in an ordinary
manner, though somewhat more devoutly than usual. Then, from the
communion-table, rose a voice vibrating with solemn emotion, like
the voice of Abraham pleading for Sodom. It thrilled through Hugh's
heart. The sermon which followed affected him no less, although,
when he came out, he confessed to Falconer that he had only caught
flying glimpses of its meaning, scope, and drift.
"I seldom go to church," said Falconer; "but when I do, I come here:
and always feel that I am in the presence of one of the holy
servants of God's great temple not made with hands. I heartily
trust that man. He is what he seems to be."
"They say he is awfully heterodox."
"How then can he remain in the church, if he is as honest as you
"In this way, as I humbly venture to think," Falconer answered. "He
looks upon the formulę of the church as utterances of living
truth -- vital embodiments -- to be regarded as one ought to regard
human faces. In these human faces, others may see this or that
inferior expression, may find out the mean and the small and the
incomplete: he looks for and finds the ideal; the grand, sacred,
God-meant meaning; and by that he holds as the meaning of the human
countenances, for it is the meaning of him who made them. So with
the confession of the Church of England: he believes that not man
only, but God also, and God first and chief, had to do with the
making of it; and therefore he looks in it for the Eternal and the
Divine, and he finds what he seeks. And as no words can avoid
bearing in them the possibility of a variety of interpretations, he
would exclude whatever the words might mean, or, regarded merely as
words, do mean, in a narrow exposition: he thinks it would be
dishonest to take the low meaning as the meaning. To return to the
faces: he passes by moods and tempers, and beholds the main
character -- that on whose surface the temporal and transient floats.
Both in faces and in formulę he loves the divine substance, with
his true, manly, brave heart; and as for the faults in both -- for
man, too, has his share in both -- I believe he is ready to die by
them, if only in so doing he might die for them. -- I had a vision of
him this morning as I sat and listened to his voice, which always
seems to me to come immediately from his heart, as if his heart
spoke with lips of its own. Shall I tell you my vision? --
"I saw a crowd -- priests and laymen -- speeding, hurrying, darting
away, up a steep, crumbling height. Mitres, hoods, and hats rolled
behind them to the bottom. Every one for himself, with hands and
feet they scramble and flee, to save their souls from the fires of
hell which come rolling in along the hollow below with the forward
'pointing spires' of billowy flame. But beneath, right in the
course of the fire, stands one man upon a little rock which goes
down to the centre of the great world, and faces the approaching
flames. He stands bareheaded, his eyes bright with faith in God,
and the mighty mouth that utters his truth, fixed in holy defiance.
His denial comes from no fear, or weak dislike to that which is
painful. On neither side will he tell lies for peace. He is ready
to be lost for his fellow-men. In the name of God he rebukes the
flames of hell. The fugitives pause on the top, look back, call him
lying prophet, and shout evil opprobrious names at the man who
counts not his own life dear to him, who has forgotten his own soul
in his sacred devotion to men, who fills up what is left behind of
the sufferings of Christ, for his body's sake -- for the human race,
of which he is the head. Be sure that, come what may of the rest,
let the flames of hell ebb or flow, that man is safe, for he is
delivered already from the only devil that can make hell itself a
torture, the devil of selfishness -- the only one that can possess a
man and make himself his own living hell. He is out of all that
region of things, and already dwelling in the secret place of the
"Go on, go on."
"He trusts in God so absolutely, that he leaves his salvation to
him -- utterly, fearlessly; and, forgetting it, as being no concern of
his, sets himself to do the work that God has given him to do, even
as his Lord did before him, counting that alone worthy of his care.
Let God's will be done, and all is well. If God's will be done, he
cannot fare ill. To him, God is all in all. If it be possible to
separate such things, it is the glory of God, even more than the
salvation of men, that he seeks. He will not have it that his
Father in heaven is not perfect. He believes entirely that God
loves, yea, is love; and, therefore, that hell itself must be
subservient to that love, and but an embodiment of it; that the
grand work of Justice is to make way for a Love which will give to
every man that which is right and ten times more, even if it should
be by means of awful suffering -- a suffering which the Love of the
Father will not shun, either for himself or his children, but will
eagerly meet for their sakes, that he may give them all that is in
"Surely you speak your own opinions in describing thus warmly the
faith of the preacher."
"I do. He is accountable for nothing I say. All I assert is, that
this is how I seem to myself to succeed in understanding him."
"How is it that so many good people call him heterodox?"
"I do not mind that. I am annoyed only when good-hearted people,
with small natures and cultivated intellects, patronise him, and
talk forgivingly of his warm heart and unsound judgment. To these,
theology must be like a map -- with plenty of lines in it. They
cannot trust their house on the high table-land of his theology,
because they cannot see the outlines bounding the said table-land.
It is not small enough for them. They cannot take it in. Such can
hardly be satisfied with the creation, one would think, seeing there
is no line of division anywhere in it. They would take care there
should be no mistake."
"Does God draw no lines, then?"
"When he does, they are pure lines, without breadth, and
consequently invisible to mortal eyes; not Chinese walls of
separation, such as these definers would construct. Such minds are
ą priori incapable of theorising upon his theories. Or, to alter
the figure, they will discover a thousand faults in his drawing, but
they can never behold the figure constructed by his lines, and
containing the faults which they believe they discover."
"But can those theories in religion be correct which are so hard to
"They are only hard to certain natures."
"But those natures are above the average."
"Yes, in intellect and its cultivation -- nothing more."
"You have granted them heart."
"Not much; but what there is, good."
"That is allowing a great deal, though. Is it not hard then to say
that such cannot understand him?"
"Why? They will get to heaven, which is all they want. And they
will understand him one day, which is more than they pray for. Till
they have done being anxious about their own salvation, we must
forgive them that they can contemplate with calmness the damnation
of a universe, and believe that God is yet more indifferent than
"But do they not bring the charges likewise against you, of being
unable to understand them?"
"Yes. And so it must remain, till the Spirit of God decide the
matter, which I presume must take place by slow degrees. For this
decision can only consist in the enlightenment of souls to see the
truth; and therefore has to do with individuals only. There is no
triumph for the Truth but that. She knows no glorying over the
vanquished, for in her victory the vanquished is already of the
vanquishers. Till then, the Right must be content to be called the
Wrong, and -- which is far harder -- to seem the Wrong. There is no
spiritual victory gained by a verbal conquest; or by any kind of
torture, even should the rack employed be that of the purest logic.
Nay more: so long as the wicked themselves remain impenitent, there
is mourning in heaven; and when there is no longer any hope over one
last remaining sinner, heaven itself must confess its defeat, heap
upon that sinner what plagues you will."
Hugh pondered, and continued pondering till they reached Falconer's
chambers. At the door Hugh paused.
"Will you not come in?"
"I fear I shall become troublesome."
"No fear of that. I promise to get rid of you as soon as I find you
"Thank you. Just let me know when you have had enough of me."
They entered. Mrs. Ashton, who, unlike her class, was never missing
when wanted, got them some bread and cheese; and Falconer's
Fortunatus-purse of a cellar -- the bottom of his cupboard -- supplied
its usual bottle of port; to which fare the friends sat down.
The conversation, like a bird descending in spirals, settled at last
upon the subject which had more or less occupied Hugh's thoughts
ever since his unsatisfactory conversation with Funkelstein, at
their first meeting; and still more since he had learned that this
man himself exercised an unlawful influence over Euphra. He begged
Falconer, if he had any theory comprehending such things, to let him
know what kind of a relation it was, in which Miss Cameron stood to
Funkelstein, or Count von Halkar.
"I have had occasion to think a good deal about those things," said
Falconer. "The first thing evident is, that Miss Cameron is
peculiarly constituted, belonging to a class which is, however,
larger than is commonly supposed, circumstances rarely combining to
bring out its peculiarities. In those who constitute this class,
the nervous element, either from preponderating, or from not being
in healthy and harmonious combination with the more material
element, manifests itself beyond its ordinary sphere of operation,
and so occasions results unlike the usual phenomena of life, though,
of course, in accordance with natural laws. To use a simile: it is,
in such cases, as if all the nerves of the human body came crowding
to the surface, and there exposed themselves to a thousand
influences, from which they would otherwise be preserved. Of course
I am not attempting to explain, only to suggest a conceivable
hypothesis. Upon such constitutions, it would not be surprising
that certain other constitutions, similar, yet differing, should
exercise a peculiar influence. You are, I dare say, more or less
familiar with the main features of mesmerism and its allies, among
which is what is called biology. I presume it is on such
constitutions as I have supposed, that those powers are chiefly
operative. Miss Cameron has, at some time or other in her history,
submitted herself to the influences of this Count Halkar; and he has
thus gained a most dangerous authority over her, which he has
exercised for his own ends."
"She more than implied as much in the last conversation I had with
"So his will became her law. There is in the world of mind a
something corresponding to physical force in the material world. -- I
cannot avoid just touching upon a higher analogy. The kingdom of
heaven is not come, even when God's will is our law: it is come when
God's will is our will. While God's will is our law, we are but a
kind of noble slaves; when his will is our will, we are free
children. Nothing in nature is free enough to be a symbol for the
state of those who act immediately from the essence of their hidden
life, and the recognition of God's will as that essence. But, as I
said, this belongs to a far higher region. I only wanted to touch
on the relation of the freedoms -- physical, mental, and spiritual.
To return to the point in hand: I recognise in the story a clear
evidence of strife and partial victory in the affair of the ring.
The count -- we will call him by the name he gives himself -- had
evidently been anxious for years to possess himself of this ring:
the probable reasons we have already talked of. He had laid his
injunctions on his slave to find it for him; and she, perhaps at
first nothing loath, perhaps loving the man as well as submitting to
him, had for a long time attempted to find it, but had failed. The
count, probably doubting her sincerity, and hoping, at all events,
to urge her search, followed her to Arnstead, where it is very
likely he had been before, although he had avoided Mr. Arnold.
Judging it advantageous to get into the house, in order to make
observations, he employed his chance meeting with you to that
result. But, before this, he had watched Miss Cameron's familiarity
with you -- was jealous and tyrannical. Hence the variations of her
conduct to you; for when his power was upon her, she could not do as
she pleased. But she must have had a real regard for you; for she
evidently refused to get you into trouble by taking the ring from
your custody. But my surprise is that the fellow limited himself to
that one jewel."
"You may soon be relieved from that surprise," answered Hugh: "he
took a valuable diamond of mine as well."
"The rascal! We may catch him, but you are not likely to find your
diamond again. Still, there is some possibility."
"How do you know she was not willing to take it from me?"
"Because, by her own account, he had to destroy her power of
volition entirely, before he could make her do it. He threw her
into a mesmeric sleep."
"I should like to understand his power over her a little better. In
such cases of biology -- how they came to abuse the word, I should
like to know -- "
"Just as they call table-rapping, &c., spiritualism."
"I suppose his relation to her must be classed amongst phenomena of
"Well, tell me, does the influence outlast the mesmeric condition?"
"If by mesmeric condition you mean any state evidently approaching
to that of sleep -- undoubtedly. It is, in many cases, quite
independent of such a condition. Perhaps the degree of willing
submission at first, may have something to do with it. But mesmeric
influence, whatever it may mean, is entirely independent of sleep.
That is an accident accompanying it, perhaps sometimes indicating
"Does the person so influenced act with or against his will?"
"That is a most difficult question, involving others equally
difficult. My own impression is, that the patient -- for patient in a
very serious sense he is -- acts with his inclination, and often with
his will; but in many cases with his inclination against his will.
This is a very important distinction in morals, but often
overlooked. When a man is acting with his inclination, his will is
in abeyance. In our present imperfect condition, it seems to me
that the absolute will has no opportunity of pure action, of
operating entirely as itself, except when working in opposition to
inclination. But to return: the power of the biologist appears to
me to lie in this -- he is able, by some mysterious sympathy, to
produce in the mind of the patient such forceful impulses to do
whatever he wills, that they are in fact irresistible to almost all
who are obnoxious to his influence. The will requires an especial
training and a distinct development, before it is capable of acting
with any degree of freedom. The men who have undergone this are
very few indeed; and no one whose will is not educated as well, can,
if subjected to the influences of biology, resist the impulses
roused in his passive brain by the active brain of the operator.
This at least is my impression.
"Other things no doubt combined to increase the influence in the
present case. She liked him, perhaps more than liked him once. She
was partially committed to his schemes; and she was easily
mesmerised. It would seem, besides, that she was naturally disposed
to somnambulism. This is a remarkable co-existence of distinct
developments of the same peculiarity. In this latter condition,
even if in others she were able to resist him, she would be quite
helpless; for all the thoughts that passed through her brain would
owe their origin to his. -- Imagine being forced to think another
man's thoughts! That would be possession indeed! And this is not
far removed from the old stories about the demons entering into a
man. -- He would be ruler over the whole intellectual life that passed
in her during the time; and which to her, as far as the ideas
suggested belonged to the outward world, would appear an outer life,
passing all round her, not in her. She would, in fact, be a
creature of his imagination for the time, as much as any character
invented, and sent through varied circumstances, feelings, and
actions, by the mind of the poet or novelist. Look at the facts.
She warned you to beware of the count that night before you went
into the haunted bed-chamber. Even when she entered it, by your own
account -- "
"Entered it? Then you do think it was Euphra who personated the
"I am sure of it. She was sleep-walking."
"But so different -- such a death-like look!"
"All that was easy enough to manage. She refused to obey him at
first. He mesmerized her. It very likely went farther than he
expected; and he succeeded too well. Experienced, no doubt, in
disguises, he dressed her as like the dead Lady Euphrasia as he
could, following her picture. Perhaps she possessed such a
disguise, and had used it before. He thus protected her from
suspicion, and himself from implication. -- What was the colour of the
hair in the picture?"
"Hence the sparkle of gold-dust in her hair. The count managed it
all. He willed that she should go, and she went. Her disguise was
certain safety, should she be seen. You would suspect the ghost and
no one else if she appeared to you, and you lost the ring after.
But even in this state she yielded against her better inclination,
for she was weeping when you saw her. But she could not help it.
While you lay on the couch in the haunted chamber, where he carried
you, the awful death-ghost was busy in your room, was opening your
desk, fingering your papers, and stealing your ring. It is rather a
"She did not take my ring, I am sure. He followed her, and took
it. -- But she could not have come in at either door -- "
"Could not? Did she not go out at one of them? Besides, I do not
doubt that such a room as that had private communication with the
open air as well. I should much like to examine the place."
"But how could she have gone through the bolted door then?"
"That door may have been set in another, larger by half the frame or
so, and opening with a spring and concealed hinges. There is no
difficulty about that. There are such places to be found now and
then in old houses. But, indeed, if you will excuse me, I do not
consider your testimony, on every minute particular, quite
"Why?" asked Hugh, rather offended.
"First, because of the state of excitement you must have been in;
and next, because I doubt the wine that was left in your room. The
count no doubt knew enough of drugs to put a few ghostly horrors
into the decanter. But poor Miss Cameron! The horrors he has put
into her mind and life! It is a sad fate -- all but a sentence of
Hugh sprang to his feet.
"By heaven!" he cried, "I will strangle the knave."
"Stop, stop!" said Falconer. "No revenge! Leave him to the sleeping
divinity within him, which will awake one day, and complete the hell
that he is now building for himself -- for the very fire of hell is
the divine in it. Your work is to set Euphra free. If you did
strangle him, how do you know if that would free her from him?"
"Horrible! -- Have you no news of him?"
"What, then, can I do for her?"
"You must teach her to foil him."
"How am I to do that? Even if I knew how, I cannot see her, I
cannot speak to her."
"I have a great faith in opportunity."
"But how should she foil him?"
"She must pray to God to redeem her fettered will -- to strengthen her
will to redeem herself. She must resist the count, should he again
claim her submission (as, for her sake, I hope he will), as she
would the devil himself. She must overcome. Then she will be
free -- not before. This will be very hard to do. His power has been
excessive and peculiar, and her submission long and complete. Even
if he left her alone, she would not therefore be free. She must
defy him; break his bonds; oppose his will; assert her freedom; and
defeat him utterly."
"Oh! who will help her? I have no power. Even if I were with her,
I could not help her in such a struggle. I wish David were not
dead. He was the man. -- You could now, Mr. Falconer."
"No. Except I knew her, had known her for some time, and had a
strong hold of all her nature, I could not, would not try to help
her. If Providence brought this about, I would do my best; but
otherwise I would not interfere. But if she pray to God, he will
give her whatever help she needs, and in the best way, too."
"I think it would be some comfort to her if we could find the
ring -- the crystal, I mean."
"It would be more, I think, if we could find the diamond."
"How can we find either?"
"We must find the count first. I have not given that up, of course.
I will tell you what I should like to do, if I knew the lady."
"Get her to come to London, and make herself as public as possible:
go to operas and balls, and theatres; be presented at court; take a
stall at every bazaar, and sell charity puff-balls -- get as much into
the papers as possible. 'The lovely, accomplished, fascinating Miss
Cameron, &c., &c.'"
"What do you mean?"
"I will tell you what I mean. The count has forsaken her now; but
as soon as he heard that she was somebody, that she was followed and
admired, his vanity would be roused, his old sense of property in
her would revive, and he would begin once more to draw her into his
toils. What the result would be, it is impossible to foretell; but
it would at least give us a chance of catching him, and her a chance
of resisting him."
"I don't think, however, that she would venture on that course
herself. I should not dare to propose it to her."
"No, no. It was only an invention, to deceive myself with the fancy
that I was doing something. There would be many objections to such
a plan, even if it were practicable. I must still try to find him,
and if fresh endeavours should fail, devise fresher still."
"Thank you a thousand times," said Hugh. "It is too good of you to
take so much trouble."
"It is my business," answered Falconer. "Is there not a soul in
Hugh went home, full of his new friend. With the clue he had given
him, he was able to follow all the windings of Euphra's behaviour,
and to account for almost everything that had taken place. It was
quite painful to him to feel that he could be of no immediate
service to her; but he could hardly doubt that, before long,
Falconer would, in his wisdom and experience, excogitate some mode
of procedure in which he might be able to take a part.
He sat down to his novel, which had been making but little progress
for some time; for it is hard to write a novel when one is living in
the midst of a romance. But the romance, at this time, was not very
close to him. It had a past and a possible future, but no present.
That same future, however, might at any moment dawn into the
In the meantime, teaching the Latin grammar and the English alphabet
to young aspirants after the honours of the ministry, was not work
inimical to invention, from either the exhaustion of its excitement
or the absorption of its interest.
Her yellow hair, beyond compare,
Comes trinkling down her swan-white neck;
And her two eyes, like stars in skies,
Would keep a sinking ship frae wreck.
Oh! Mally's meek, Mally's sweet,
Mally's modest and discreet;
Mally's rare, Mally's fair,
Mally's every way complete.
What arms for innocence but innocence.
Margaret had sought Euphra's room, with the intention of restoring
to her the letter which she had written to David Elginbrod. Janet
had let it lie for some time before she sent it to Margaret; and
Euphra had given up all expectation of an answer.
Hopes of ministration filled Margaret's heart; but she expected,
from what she knew of her, that anger would be Miss Cameron's first
feeling. Therefore, when she heard no answer to her application for
admission, and had concluded, in consequence, that Euphra was not in
the room, she resolved to leave the letter where it would meet her
eye, and thus prepare the way for a future conversation. When she
saw Euphra and Harry, she would have retired immediately; but
Euphra, annoyed by her entrance, was now quite able to speak.
"What do you want?" she said angrily.
"This is your letter, Miss Cameron, is it not?" said Margaret,
advancing with it in her hand.
Euphra took it, glanced at the direction, pushed Harry away from
her, started up in a passion, and let loose the whole gathered
irritability of contempt, weariness, disappointment, and suffering,
upon Margaret. Her dark eyes flashed with rage, and her sallow
cheek glowed like a peach.
"What right have you, pray, to handle my letters? How did you get
this? It has never been posted! And open, too. I declare! I
suppose you have read it?"
Margaret was afraid of exciting more wrath before she had an
opportunity of explaining; but Euphra gave her no time to think of a
"You have read it, you shameless woman! Why don't you lie, like the
rest of your tribe, and keep me from dying with indignation?
Impudent prying! My maid never posted it, and you have found it
and read it! Pray, did you hope to find a secret worth a bribe?"
She advanced on Margaret till within a foot of her.
"Why don't you answer, you hussy? I will go this instant to your
mistress. You or I leave the house."
Margaret had stood all this time quietly, waiting for an opportunity
to speak. Her face was very pale, but perfectly still, and her eyes
did not quail. She had not in the least lost her self-possession.
She would not say at once that she had read the letter, because
that would instantly rouse the tornado again.
"You do not know my name, Miss Cameron; of course you could not."
"Your name! What is that to me?"
"That," said Margaret, pointing to the letter, "is my father's
Euphra looked at her own direction again, and then looked at
Margaret. She was so bewildered, that if she had any thoughts, she
did not know them. Margaret went on:
"My father is dead. My mother sent the letter to me."
"Then you have had the impertinence to read it!"
"It was my duty to read it."
"Duty! What business had you with it?"
Euphra felt ashamed of the letter as soon as she found that she had
applied to a man whose daughter was a servant. Margaret answered:
"I could at least reply to it so far, that the writer should not
think my father had neglected it. I did not know who it was from
till I came to the end."
Euphra turned her back on her, with the words:
"You may go."
Margaret walked out of the room with an unconscious stately
"Come back," cried Euphra.
"Of course you will tell all your fellow-servants the contents of
this foolish letter."
Margaret's face flushed, and her eye flashed, at the first words of
this speech; but the last words made her forget the first, and to
them only she replied. Clasping. her hands, she said:
"Dear Miss Cameron, do not call it foolish. For God's sake, do not
call it foolish."
"What is it to you? Do you think I am going to make a confidante of
Margaret again left the room. Notwithstanding that she had made no
answer to her insult, Euphra felt satisfied that her letter was safe
No sooner was Margaret out of sight, than, with the reaction common
to violent tempers, which in this case resulted the sooner, from the
exhaustion produced in a worn frame by the violence of the outburst,
Euphra sat down, in a hopeless, unresting way, upon the chair from
which she had just risen, and began weeping more bitterly than
before. She was not only exhausted, but ashamed; and to these
feelings was added a far greater sense of disappointment than she
could have believed possible, at the frustration of the hope of help
from David Elginbrod. True, this hope had been small; but where
there is only one hope, its death is equally bitter, whether it be a
great or a little hope. And there is often no power of reaction, in
a mind which has been gradually reduced to one little faint hope,
when that hope goes out in darkness. There is a recoil which is
very helpful, from the blow that kills a great hope.
All this time Harry had been looking on, in a kind of paralysed
condition, pale with perplexity and distress. He now came up to
Euphra, and, trying to pull her hand gently from her face, said:
"What is it all about, Euphra, dear?"
"Oh! I have been very naughty, Harry."
"But what is it all about? May I read the letter?"
"If you like," answered Euphra, listlessly.
Harry read the letter with quivering features. Then, laying it down
on the table with a reverential slowness, went to Euphra, put his
arms round her and kissed her.
"Dear, dear Euphra, I did not know you were so unhappy. I will find
God for you. But first I will -- what shall I do to the bad man? Who
is it? I will --"
Harry finished the sentence by setting his teeth hard.
"Oh! you can't do anything for me, Harry, dear. Only mind you don't
say anything about it to any one. Put the letter in the fire there
"No -- that I won't," said Harry, taking up the letter, and holding it
tight. "It is a beautiful letter, and it does me good. Don't you
think, though it is not sent to God himself, he may read it, and
take it for a prayer?"
"I wish he would, Harry."
"But it was very wrong of you, Euphra, dear, to speak as you did to
the daughter of such a good man."
"Yes, it was."
"But then, you see, you got angry before you knew who she was."
"But I shouldn't have got angry before I knew all about it."
"Well, you have only to say you are sorry, and Margaret won't think
anything more about it. Oh, she is so good!"
Euphra recoiled from making confession of wrong to a lady's maid;
and, perhaps, she was a little jealous of Harry's admiration of
Margaret. For Euphra had not yet cast off all her old habits of
mind, and one of them was the desire to be first with every one whom
she cared for. She had got rid of a worse, which was, a necessity
of being first in every company, whether she cared for the persons
composing it, or not. Mental suffering had driven the latter far
enough from her; though it would return worse than ever, if her mind
were not filled with truth in the place of ambition. So she did not
respond to what Harry said. Indeed, she did not speak again, except
to beg him to leave her alone. She did not make her appearance
again that day.
But at night, when the household was retiring, she rose from the bed
on which she had been lying half-unconscious, and going to the door,
opened it a little way, that she might hear when Margaret should
pass from Mrs. Elton's room towards her own. She waited for some
time; but judging, at length, that she must have passed without her
knowledge, she went and knocked at her door. Margaret opened it a
little, after a moment's delay, half-undressed.
"May I come in, Margaret?"
"Pray, do, Miss Cameron," answered Margaret.
And she opened the door quite. Her cap was off, and her rich dark
hair fell on her shoulders, and streamed thence to her waist. Her
under-clothing was white as snow.
"What a lovely skin she has!" thought Euphra, comparing it with her
own tawny complexion. She felt, for the first time, that Margaret
was beautiful -- yes, more: that whatever her gown might be, her form
and her skin (give me a prettier word, kind reader, for a beautiful
fact, and I will gladly use it) were those of one of nature's
ladies. She was soon to find that her intellect and spirit were
those of one of God's ladies.
"I am very sorry, Margaret, that I spoke to you as I did today."
"Never mind it, Miss Cameron. We cannot help being angry sometimes.
And you had great provocation under the mistake you made. I was
only sorry because I knew it would trouble you afterwards. Please
don't think of it again."
"You are very kind, Margaret."
"I regretted my father's death, for the first time, after reading
your letter, for I knew he could have helped you. But it was very
foolish of me, for God is not dead."
Margaret smiled as she said this, looking full in Euphra's eyes. It
was a smile of meaning unfathomable, and it quite overcame Euphra.
She had never liked Margaret before; for, from not very obscure
psychological causes, she had never felt comfortable in her
presence, especially after she had encountered the nun in the
Ghost's Walk, though she had had no suspicion that the nun was
Margaret. A great many of our dislikes, both to persons and things,
arise from a feeling of discomfort associated with them, perhaps
only accidentally present in our minds the first time we met them.
But this vanished entirely now.
"Do you, then, know God too, Margaret?"
"Yes," answered Margaret, simply and solemnly.
"Will you tell me about him?"
"I can at least tell you about my father, and what he taught me."
"Oh! thank you, thank you! Do tell me about him -- now."
"Not now, dear Miss Cameron. It is late, and you are too unwell to
stay up longer. Let me help you to bed to-night. I will be your
As she spoke, Margaret proceeded to put on her dress again, that she
might go with Euphra, who had no attendant. She had parted with
Jane, and did not care, in her present mood, to have a woman about
her, especially a new one.
"No, Margaret. You have enough to do without adding me to your
"Please, do let me, Miss Cameron. It will be a great pleasure to
me. I have hardly anything to call work. You should see how I used
to work when I was at home."
Euphra still objected, but Margaret's entreaty prevailed. She
followed Euphra to her room. There she served her like a
ministering angel; brushed her hair -- oh, so gently! smoothing it out
as if she loved it. There was health in the touch of her hands,
because there was love. She undressed her; covered her in bed as if
she had been a child; made up the fire to last as long as possible;
bade her good night; and was leaving the room, when Euphra called
her. Margaret returned to the bed-side.
"Kiss me, Margaret," she said.
Margaret stooped, kissed her forehead and her lips, and left her.
Euphra cried herself to sleep. They were the first tears she had
ever shed that were not painful tears. She slept as she had not
slept for months.
In order to understand this change in Euphrasia's behaviour to
Margaret -- in order, in fact, to represent it to our minds as at all
credible -- we must remember that she had been trying to do right for
some time; that Margaret, as the daughter of David, seemed the only
attainable source of the knowledge she sought; that long illness had
greatly weakened her obstinacy; that her soul hungered, without
knowing it, for love; and that she was naturally gifted with a
strong will, the position in which she stood in relation to the
count proving only that it was not strong enough, and not that it
was weak. Such a character must, for any good, be ruled by itself,
and not by circumstances. To have been overcome in the process of
time by the persistent goodness of Margaret, might have been the
blessed fate of a weaker and worse woman; but if Euphra did not
overcome herself, there was no hope of further victory. If Margaret
could even wither the power of her oppressor, it would be but to
transfer the lordship from a bad man to a good woman; and that would
not be enough. It would not be freedom. And indeed, the aid that
Margaret had to give her, could only be bestowed on one who already
had freedom enough to act in some degree from duty. She knew she
ought to go and apologize to Margaret. She went.
In Margaret's presence, and in such a mood, she was subjected at
once to the holy enchantment of her loving-kindness. She had never
received any tenderness from a woman before. Perhaps she had never
been in the right mood to profit by it if she had. Nor had she ever
before seen what Margaret was. It was only when service -- divine
service -- flowed from her in full outgoing, that she reached the
height of her loveliness. Then her whole form was beautiful. So
was it interpenetrated by, and respondent to, the uprising soul
within, that it radiated thought and feeling as if it had been all
spirit. This beauty rose to its best in her eyes. When she was
ministering to any one in need, her eyes seemed to worship the
object of her faithfulness, as if all the time she felt that she was
doing it unto Him. Her deeds were devotion. She was the receiver
and not the giver. Before this, Euphra had seen only the still
waiting face; and, as I have said, she had been repelled by it.
Once within the sphere of the radiation of her attraction, she was
drawn towards her, as towards the haven of her peace: she loved her.
To this, at length, had her struggle with herself in the silence of
her own room, and her meditations on her couch, conducted her.
Shall we say that these alone had been and were leading her? Or
that to all these there was a hidden root, and an informing spirit?
Who would not rather believe that his thoughts come from an
infinite, self-sphered, self-constituting thought, than that they
rise somehow out of a blank abyss of darkness, and are only thought
when he thinks them, which thinking he cannot pre-determine or even
When Euphra woke, her first breath was like a deep draught of
spiritual water. She felt as if some sorrow had passed from her,
and some gladness come in its stead. She thought and thought, and
found that the gladness was Margaret. She had scarcely made the
discovery, when the door gently opened, and Margaret peeped in to
see if she were awake.
"May I come in?" she said.
"Yes, please, Margaret."
"How do you feel to-day?"
"Oh, so much better, dear Margaret! Your kindness will make me
"I am so glad! Do lie still awhile, and I will bring you some
breakfast. Mrs. Elton will be so pleased to find you let me wait on
"She asked me, Margaret, if you should; but I was too miserable -- and
too naughty, for I did not like you."
"I knew that; but I felt sure you would not dislike me always."
"Because I could not help loving you."
"Why did you love me?"
"I will tell you half the reason. -- Because you looked unhappy."
"What was the other half?"
"That I cannot -- I mean I will not tell you."
"Perhaps never. But I don't know. -- Not now."
"Then I must not ask you?"
"No -- please."
"Very well, I won't."
"Thank you. I will go and get your breakfast."
"What can she mean?" said Euphra to herself.
But she would never have found out.
He being dead yet speaketh.
HEB., xi. 4.
In all 'he' did
Some figure of the golden times was hid.
From this time, Margaret waited upon Euphra, as if she had been her
own maid. Nor had Mrs. Elton any cause of complaint, for Margaret
was always at hand when she was wanted. Indeed, her mistress was
full of her praises. Euphra said little.
Many and long were the conversations between the two girls, when all
but themselves were asleep. Sometimes Harry made one of the
company; but they could always send him away when they wished to be
alone. And now the teaching for which Euphra had longed, sprang in
a fountain at her own door. It had been nigh her long, and she had
not known it, for its hour had not come. Now she drank as only the
thirsty drink, -- as they drink whose very souls are fainting within
them for drought.
But how did Margaret embody her lessons?
The second night, she came to Euphra's room, and said:
"Shall I tell you about my father to-night? Are, you able?"
Euphra was delighted. It was what she had been hoping for all day.
"Do tell me. I long to hear about him."
So they sat down; and Margaret began to talk about her childhood;
the cottage she lived in; the fir-wood all around it; the work she
used to do; -- her side, in short, of the story which, in the
commencement of this book, I have partly related from Hugh's side.
Summer and winter, spring-time and harvest, storm and sunshine, all
came into the tale. Her mother came into it often; and often too,
though not so often, the grand form of her father appeared, remained
for a little while, and then passed away. Every time Euphra saw him
thus in the mirror of Margaret's memory, she saw him more clearly
than before: she felt as if, soon, she should know him quite well.
Sometimes she asked a question or two; but generally she allowed
Margaret's words to flow unchecked; for she painted her pictures
better when the colours did not dry between. They talked on, or
rather, Margaret talked and Euphra listened, far into the night. At
length, Margaret stopped suddenly, for she became aware that a long
time had passed. Looking at the clock on the chimney-piece, she
"I have done wrong to keep you up so late. Come -- I must get you to
bed. You are an invalid, you know, and I am your nurse as well as
"You will come to-morrow night, then?"
"Yes, I will."
"Then I will go to bed like a good child."
Margaret undressed her, and left her to the healing of sleep.
The next night she spoke again of her father, and what he taught
her. Euphra had thought much about him; and at every fresh touch
which the story gave to the portrait, she knew him better; till at
last, even when circumstances not mentioned before came up, she
seemed to have known them from the beginning.
"What was your father like, Margaret?"
Margaret described him very nearly as I have done, from Hugh's
account, in the former part of the story. Euphra said:
"Ah! yes. That is almost exactly as I had fancied him. Is it not
"It is very natural, I think," answered Margaret.
"I seem now to have known him for years."
But what is most worthy of record is, that ever as the picture of
David grew on the vision of Euphra, the idea of God was growing
unawares upon her inward sight. She was learning more and more
about God all the time. The sight of human excellence awoke a faint
Ideal of the divine perfection. Faith came of itself, and abode,
and grew; for it needs but a vision of the Divine, and faith in God
is straightway born in the soul that beholds it. Thus, faith and
sight are one. The being of her father in heaven was no more
strange and far off from her, when she had seen such a father on
earth as Margaret's was. It was not alone David's faith that begot
hers, but the man himself was a faith-begetting presence. He was
the evidence of God with them. -- Thus he, being dead, yet spoke, and
the departed man was a present power.
Euphra began to read the story of the Gospel. So did Harry. They
found much on which to desire enlightenment; and they always applied
to Margaret for the light they needed. It was long before she
ventured to say I think. She always said:
"My father used to say -- " or
"I think my father would have said -- "
It was not until Euphra was in great trouble some time after this,
and required the immediate consolation of personal testimony, that
Margaret spoke as from herself; and then she spoke with positive
assurance of faith. She did not then even say I think, but, I am
sure; I know; I have seen.
Many interviews of this sort did not take place between them before
Euphra, in her turn, began to confide her history to Margaret.
It was a strangely different one -- full of outward event and physical
trouble; but, till it approached the last stages, wonderfully barren
as to inward production or development. It was a history of
Euphra's circumstances and peculiarities, not of Euphra herself.
Till of late, she had scarcely had any history. Margaret's, on the
contrary, was a true history; for, with much of the monotonous in
circumstance, it described individual growth, and the change of
progress. Where there is no change there can be no history; and as
all change is either growth or decay, all history must describe
progress or retrogression. The former had now begun for Euphra as
well; and it was one proof of it that she told Margaret all I have
already recorded for my readers, at least as far as it bore against
herself. How much more she told her I am unable to say; but after
she had told it, Euphra was still more humble towards Margaret, and
Margaret more tender, more full of service, if possible, and more
devoted to Euphra.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
SHAKSPERE. -- Sonnet cxvi.
Margaret could not proceed very far in the story of her life,
without making some reference to Hugh Sutherland. But she carefully
avoided mentioning his name. Perhaps no one less calm, and free
from the operation of excitement, could have been so successful in
"Ah!" said Euphra, one day, "your history is a little like mine
there; a tutor comes into them both. Did you not fall dreadfully in
love with him?"
"I loved him very much."
"Where is he now?"
"In London, I believe."
"Do you never see him?"
"Have you never seen him since he left your home -- with the curious
"Yes; but not spoken to him."
Margaret was silent. Euphra knew her well enough now not to repeat
"I should have been in love with him, I know."
Margaret only smiled.
Another day, Euphra said:
"What a good boy that Harry is! And so clever too. Ah! Margaret,
I have behaved like the devil to that boy. I wanted to have him all
to myself, and so kept him a child. Need I confess all my ugliest
"Not to me, certainly, dear Miss Cameron. Tell God to look into
your heart, and take them all out of it."
"I will. I do. -- I even enticed Mr. Sutherland away from him to me,
when he was the only real friend he had, that I might have them
"But you have done your best to make up for it since."
"I have tried a little. I cannot say I have done my best. I have
been so peevish and irritable."
"You could not quite help that."
"How kind you are to excuse me so! It makes me so much stronger to
"My father used to say that God was always finding every excuse for
us that could be found; every true one, you know; not one false
"That does comfort one."
After a pause, Euphra resumed:
"Mr. Sutherland did me some good, Margaret."
"I do not wonder at that."
"He made me think less about Count Halkar; and that was something,
for he haunted me. I did not know then how very wicked he was. I
did love him once. Oh, how I hate him now!"
And she started up and paced the room like a tigress in its cage.
Margaret did not judge this the occasion to read her a lecture on
the duty of forgiveness. She had enough to do to keep from hating
the man herself, I suspect. But she tried to turn her thoughts into
"Mr. Sutherland loved you very much, Miss Cameron."
"He loved me once," said poor Euphra, with a sigh.
"I saw he did. That was why I began to love you too."
Margaret had at last unwittingly opened the door of her secret. She
had told the other reason for loving Euphra. But, naturally enough,
Euphra could not understand what she meant. Perhaps some of my
readers, understanding Margaret's words perfectly, and their
reference too, may be so far from understanding Margaret herself, as
to turn upon me and say:
"Impossible! You cannot have understood her or any other woman."
"What do you mean, Margaret?"
Margaret both blushed and laughed outright.
"I must confess it," said she, at once; "it cannot hurt him now: my
tutor and yours are the same."
"And you never spoke all the time you were both at Arnstead?"
"Not once. He never knew I was in the house."
"How strange! And you saw he loved me?"
"And you were not jealous?"
"I did not say that. But I soon found that the only way to escape
from my jealousy, if the feeling I had was jealousy, was to love you
too. I did."
"You beautiful creature! But you could not have loved him much."
"I loved him enough to love you for his sake. But why did he stop
loving you? I fear I shall not be able to love him so much now."
"He could not help it, Margaret. I deserved it."
Euphra hid her face in her hands.
"He could not have really loved you, then?"
"Which is better to believe, Margaret," said Euphra, uncovering her
face, which two tears were lingering down, and looking up at
her -- "that he never loved me, or that he stopped loving me?"
"For his sake, the first."
"And for my sake, the second?"
"So it does. He must have found plenty of faults in me. But I was
not so bad as he thought me when he stopped loving me."
Margaret's answer was one of her loving smiles, in which her eyes
had more share than her lips.
It would have been unendurable to Euphra, a little while before, to
find that she had a rival in a servant. Now she scarcely regarded
that aspect of her position. But she looked doubtfully at Margaret,
and then said:
"How is it that you take it so quietly? -- for your love must have
been very different from mine. Indeed, I am not sure that I loved
him at all; and after I had made up my mind to it quite, it did not
hurt me so very much. But you must have loved him dreadfully."
"Perhaps I did. But I had no anxiety about it."
"But that you could not leave to a father such as yours even to
"No. But I could to God. I could trust God with what I could not
speak to my father about. He is my father's father, you know; and
so, more to him and me than we could be to each other. The more we
love God, the more we love each other; for we find he makes the very
love which sometimes we foolishly fear to do injustice to, by loving
him most. I love my father ten times more because he loves God, and
because God has secrets with him."
"I wish God were a father to me as he is to you, Margaret."
"But he is your father, whether you wish it or not. He cannot be
more your father than he is. You may be more his child than you
are, but not more than he meant you to be, nor more than he made you
for. You are infinitely more his child than you have grown to yet.
He made you altogether his child, but you have not given in to it
"Oh! yes; I know what you mean. I feel it is true."
"The Prodigal Son was his father's child. He knew it, and gave in
to it. He did not say: 'I wish my father loved me enough to treat
me like a child again.' He did not say that, but -- I will arise and
go to my father."
Euphra made no answer, but wept, Margaret said no more.
Euphra was the first to resume.
"Mr. Sutherland was very kind, Margaret. He promised -- and I know he
will keep his promise--to do all he could to help me. I hope he is
finding out where that wicked count is."
"Write to him, and ask him to come and see you. He does not know
where you are."
"But I don't know where he is."
"Do you?" rejoined Euphra with some surprise.
"But he does not know where I am. I will give you his address, if
Euphra pondered a little. She would have liked very much to see
him, for she was anxious to know of his success. The love she had
felt for him was a very small obstacle to their meeting now; for her
thoughts had been occupied with affairs, before the interest of
which the poor love she had then been capable of, had melted away
and vanished -- vanished, that is, in all that was restrictive and
engrossing in its character. But now that she knew the relation
that had existed between Margaret and him, she shrunk from doing
anything that might seem to Margaret to give Euphra an opportunity
of regaining his preference. Not that she had herself the smallest
hope, even had she had the smallest desire of doing so; but she
would not even suggest the idea of being Margaret's rival. At
length she answered:
"No, thank you, Margaret. As soon as he has anything to report, he
will write to Arnstead, and Mrs. Horton will forward me the letter.
No -- it is quite unnecessary."
Euphra's health was improving a little, though still she was far