The Complete Novels of George MacDonald
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The Complete Novels of George MacDonald


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6671 pages

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Here you will find the complete novels of George MacDonald in the chronological order of their original publication.
- Phantastes
- David Elginbrod
- The Portent
- Alec Forbes of Howglen
- Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood
- Robert Falconer
- The Seaboard Parish
- At the Back of the North Wind
- Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood
- The Princess and the Goblin
- The Vicar's Daughter
- Wilfred Cumbermede
- Gutta Percha Willie
- The Lost Princess
- Malcolm
- Thomas Wingfold, Curate
- St. George and St. Michael
- The Marquis of Lossie
- Sir Gibbie
- Paul Faber, Surgeon
- Mary Marston
- Castle Warlock
- Weighed and Wanting
- Donal Grant
- The Princess and Curdie
- What's Mine's Mine
- Home Again
- The Elect Lady
- A Rough Shaking
- There and Back
- The Flight of the Shadow
- Lilith
- Salted with Fire



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Date de parution 03 décembre 2019
Nombre de lectures 5
EAN13 9789897782916
Langue English
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George MacDonald

First published : 1858

Chapter 1

A spirit…

The undulating and silent well,
And rippling rivulet, and evening gloom,
Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming,
Held commune with him; as if he and it
Were all that was.
—Shelley’s Alastor.

I awoke one morning with the usual perplexity of mind which accompanies the return of
consciousness. As I lay and looked through the eastern window of my room, a faint streak of
peach-colour, dividing a cloud that just rose above the low swell of the horizon, announced the
approach of the sun. As my thoughts, which a deep and apparently dreamless sleep had
dissolved, began again to assume crystalline forms, the strange events of the foregoing night
presented themselves anew to my wondering consciousness. The day before had been my
one-and-twentieth birthday. Among other ceremonies investing me with my legal rights, the
keys of an old secretary, in which my father had kept his private papers, had been delivered
up to me. As soon as I was left alone, I ordered lights in the chamber where the secretary
stood, the first lights that had been there for many a year; for, since my father’s death, the
room had been left undisturbed. But, as if the darkness had been too long an inmate to be
easily expelled, and had dyed with blackness the walls to which, bat-like, it had clung, these
tapers served but ill to light up the gloomy hangings, and seemed to throw yet darker shadows
into the hollows of the deep-wrought cornice. All the further portions of the room lay shrouded
in a mystery whose deepest folds were gathered around the dark oak cabinet which I now
approached with a strange mingling of reverence and curiosity. Perhaps, like a geologist, I
was about to turn up to the light some of the buried strata of the human world, with its fossil
remains charred by passion and petrified by tears. Perhaps I was to learn how my father,
whose personal history was unknown to me, had woven his web of story; how he had found
the world, and how the world had left him. Perhaps I was to find only the records of lands and
moneys, how gotten and how secured; coming down from strange men, and through
troublous times, to me, who knew little or nothing of them all. To solve my speculations, and
to dispel the awe which was fast gathering around me as if the dead were drawing near, I
approached the secretary; and having found the key that fitted the upper portion, I opened it
with some difficulty, drew near it a heavy high-backed chair, and sat down before a multitude
of little drawers and slides and pigeon-holes. But the door of a little cupboard in the centre
especially attracted my interest, as if there lay the secret of this long-hidden world. Its key I
One of the rusty hinges cracked and broke as I opened the door: it revealed a number of
small pigeon-holes. These, however, being but shallow compared with the depth of those
around the little cupboard, the outer ones reaching to the back of the desk, I concluded that
there must be some accessible space behind; and found, indeed, that they were formed in a
separate framework, which admitted of the whole being pulled out in one piece. Behind, I
found a sort of flexible portcullis of small bars of wood laid close together horizontally. After
long search, and trying many ways to move it, I discovered at last a scarcely projecting point
of steel on one side. I pressed this repeatedly and hard with the point of an old tool that was
lying near, till at length it yielded inwards; and the little slide, flying up suddenly, disclosed a
chamber — empty, except that in one corner lay a little heap of withered rose-leaves, whose
long-lived scent had long since departed; and, in another, a small packet of papers, tied with abit of ribbon, whose colour had gone with the rose-scent. Almost fearing to touch them, they
witnessed so mutely to the law of oblivion, I leaned back in my chair, and regarded them for a
moment; when suddenly there stood on the threshold of the little chamber, as though she had
just emerged from its depth, a tiny woman-form, as perfect in shape as if she had been a
small Greek statuette roused to life and motion. Her dress was of a kind that could never grow
old-fashioned, because it was simply natural: a robe plaited in a band around the neck, and
confined by a belt about the waist, descended to her feet. It was only afterwards, however,
that I took notice of her dress, although my surprise was by no means of so overpowering a
degree as such an apparition might naturally be expected to excite. Seeing, however, as I
suppose, some astonishment in my countenance, she came forward within a yard of me, and
said, in a voice that strangely recalled a sensation of twilight, and reedy river banks, and a low
wind, even in this deathly room: —
“Anodos, you never saw such a little creature before, did you?”
“No,” said I; “and indeed I hardly believe I do now.”
“Ah! that is always the way with you men; you believe nothing the first time; and it is
foolish enough to let mere repetition convince you of what you consider in itself unbelievable. I
am not going to argue with you, however, but to grant you a wish.”
Here I could not help interrupting her with the foolish speech, of which, however, I had no
cause to repent —
“How can such a very little creature as you grant or refuse anything?”
“Is that all the philosophy you have gained in one-and-twenty years?” said she. “Form is
much, but size is nothing. It is a mere matter of relation. I suppose your six-foot lordship does
not feel altogether insignificant, though to others you do look small beside your old Uncle
Ralph, who rises above you a great half-foot at least. But size is of so little consequence with
old me, that I may as well accommodate myself to your foolish prejudices.”
So saying, she leapt from the desk upon the floor, where she stood a tall, gracious lady,
with pale face and large blue eyes. Her dark hair flowed behind, wavy but uncurled, down to
her waist, and against it her form stood clear in its robe of white.
“Now,” said she, “you will believe me.”
Overcome with the presence of a beauty which I could now perceive, and drawn towards
her by an attraction irresistible as incomprehensible, I suppose I stretched out my arms
towards her, for she drew back a step or two, and said —
“Foolish boy, if you could touch me, I should hurt you. Besides, I was two hundred and
thirty-seven years old, last Midsummer eve; and a man must not fall in love with his
grandmother, you know.”
“But you are not my grandmother,” said I.
“How do you know that?” she retorted. “I dare say you know something of your
greatgrandfathers a good deal further back than that; but you know very little about your
greatgrandmothers on either side. Now, to the point. Your little sister was reading a fairy-tale to you
last night.”
“She was.”
“When she had finished, she said, as she closed the book, ‘Is there a fairy-country,
brother?’ You replied with a sigh, ‘I suppose there is, if one could find the way into it.’”
“I did; but I meant something quite different from what you seem to think.”
“Never mind what I seem to think. You shall find the way into Fairy Land to-morrow. Now
look in my eyes.”
Eagerly I did so. They filled me with an unknown longing. I remembered somehow that
my mother died when I was a baby. I looked deeper and deeper, till they spread around me
like seas, and I sank in their waters. I forgot all the rest, till I found myself at the window,
whose gloomy curtains were withdrawn, and where I stood gazing on a whole heaven of stars,
small and sparkling in the moonlight. Below lay a sea, still as death and hoary in the moon,sweeping into bays and around capes and islands, away, away, I knew not whither. Alas! it
was no sea, but a low bog burnished by the moon. “Surely there is such a sea somewhere!”
said I to myself. A low sweet voice beside me replied —
“In Fairy Land, Anodos.”
I turned, but saw no one. I closed the secretary, and went to my own room, and to bed.
All this I recalled as I lay with half-closed eyes. I was soon to find the truth of the lady’s
promise, that this day I should discover the road into Fairy Land.
Chapter 2

‘Where is the stream?’ cried he, with tears. ‘Seest thou
its not in blue waves above us?’ He looked up, and lo! the
blue stream was flowing gently over their heads.
—Novalis, Heinrich von Ofterdingen.

While these strange events were passing through my mind, I suddenly, as one awakes to
the consciousness that the sea has been moaning by him for hours, or that the storm has
been howling about his window all night, became aware of the sound of running water near
me; and, looking out of bed, I saw that a large green marble basin, in which I was wont to
wash, and which stood on a low pedestal of the same material in a corner of my room, was
overflowing like a spring; and that a stream of clear water was running over the carpet, all the
length of the room, finding its outlet I knew not where. And, stranger still, where this carpet,
which I had myself designed to imitate a field of grass and daisies, bordered the course of the
little stream, the grass-blades and daisies seemed to wave in a tiny breeze that followed the
water’s flow; while under the rivulet they bent and swayed with every motion of the changeful
current, as if they were about to dissolve with it, and, forsaking their fixed form, become fluent
as the waters.
My dressing-table was an old-fashioned piece of furniture of black oak, with drawers all
down the front. These were elaborately carved in foliage, of which ivy formed the chief part.
The nearer end of this table remained just as it had been, but on the further end a singular
change had commenced. I happened to fix my eye on a little cluster of ivy-leaves. The first of
these was evidently the work of the carver; the next looked curious; the third was
unmistakable ivy; and just beyond it a tendril of clematis had twined itself about the gilt handle
of one of the drawers. Hearing next a slight motion above me, I looked up, and saw that the
branches and leaves designed upon the curtains of my bed were slightly in motion. Not
knowing what change might follow next, I thought it high time to get up; and, springing from
the bed, my bare feet alighted upon a cool green sward; and although I dressed in all haste, I
found myself completing my toilet under the boughs of a great tree, whose top waved in the
golden stream of the sunrise with many interchanging lights, and with shadows of leaf and
branch gliding over leaf and branch, as the cool morning wind swung it to and fro, like a
sinking sea-wave.
After washing as well as I could in the clear stream, I rose and looked around me. The
tree under which I seemed to have lain all night was one of the advanced guard of a dense
forest, towards which the rivulet ran. Faint traces of a footpath, much overgrown with grass
and moss, and with here and there a pimpernel even, were discernible along the right bank.
“This,” thought I, “must surely be the path into Fairy Land, which the lady of last night
promised I should so soon find.” I crossed the rivulet, and accompanied it, keeping the
footpath on its right bank, until it led me, as I expected, into the wood. Here I left it, without
any good reason: and with a vague feeling that I ought to have followed its course, I took a
more southerly direction.
Chapter 3

Man doth usurp all space,
Stares thee, in rock, bush, river, in the face.
Never thine eyes behold a tree;
‘Tis no sea thou seest in the sea,
‘Tis but a disguised humanity.
To avoid thy fellow, vain thy plan;
All that interests a man, is man.
—Henry Sutton.

The trees, which were far apart where I entered, giving free passage to the level rays of
the sun, closed rapidly as I advanced, so that ere long their crowded stems barred the
sunlight out, forming as it were a thick grating between me and the East. I seemed to be
advancing towards a second midnight. In the midst of the intervening twilight, however, before
I entered what appeared to be the darkest portion of the forest, I saw a country maiden
coming towards me from its very depths. She did not seem to observe me, for she was
apparently intent upon a bunch of wild flowers which she carried in her hand. I could hardly
see her face; for, though she came direct towards me, she never looked up. But when we
met, instead of passing, she turned and walked alongside of me for a few yards, still keeping
her face downwards, and busied with her flowers. She spoke rapidly, however, all the time, in
a low tone, as if talking to herself, but evidently addressing the purport of her words to me.
She seemed afraid of being observed by some lurking foe. “Trust the Oak,” said she;
“trust the Oak, and the Elm, and the great Beech. Take care of the Birch, for though she is
honest, she is too young not to be changeable. But shun the Ash and the Alder; for the Ash is
an ogre, — you will know him by his thick fingers; and the Alder will smother you with her web
of hair, if you let her near you at night.” All this was uttered without pause or alteration of tone.
Then she turned suddenly and left me, walking still with the same unchanging gait. I could not
conjecture what she meant, but satisfied myself with thinking that it would be time enough to
find out her meaning when there was need to make use of her warning, and that the occasion
would reveal the admonition. I concluded from the flowers that she carried, that the forest
could not be everywhere so dense as it appeared from where I was now walking; and I was
right in this conclusion. For soon I came to a more open part, and by-and-by crossed a wide
grassy glade, on which were several circles of brighter green. But even here I was struck with
the utter stillness. No bird sang. No insect hummed. Not a living creature crossed my way. Yet
somehow the whole environment seemed only asleep, and to wear even in sleep an air of
expectation. The trees seemed all to have an expression of conscious mystery, as if they said
to themselves, “we could, an’ if we would.” They had all a meaning look about them. Then I
remembered that night is the fairies’ day, and the moon their sun; and I thought — Everything
sleeps and dreams now: when the night comes, it will be different. At the same time I, being a
man and a child of the day, felt some anxiety as to how I should fare among the elves and
other children of the night who wake when mortals dream, and find their common life in those
wondrous hours that flow noiselessly over the moveless death-like forms of men and women
and children, lying strewn and parted beneath the weight of the heavy waves of night, which
flow on and beat them down, and hold them drowned and senseless, until the ebbtide comes,
and the waves sink away, back into the ocean of the dark. But I took courage and went on.
Soon, however, I became again anxious, though from another cause. I had eaten nothing that
day, and for an hour past had been feeling the want of food. So I grew afraid lest I should find
nothing to meet my human necessities in this strange place; but once more I comforted
myself with hope and went on.Before noon, I fancied I saw a thin blue smoke rising amongst the stems of larger trees
in front of me; and soon I came to an open spot of ground in which stood a little cottage, so
built that the stems of four great trees formed its corners, while their branches met and
intertwined over its roof, heaping a great cloud of leaves over it, up towards the heavens. I
wondered at finding a human dwelling in this neighbourhood; and yet it did not look altogether
human, though sufficiently so to encourage me to expect to find some sort of food. Seeing no
door, I went round to the other side, and there I found one, wide open. A woman sat beside it,
preparing some vegetables for dinner. This was homely and comforting. As I came near, she
looked up, and seeing me, showed no surprise, but bent her head again over her work, and
said in a low tone:
“Did you see my daughter?”
“I believe I did,” said I. “Can you give me something to eat, for I am very hungry?” “With
pleasure,” she replied, in the same tone; “but do not say anything more, till you come into the
house, for the Ash is watching us.”
Having said this, she rose and led the way into the cottage; which, I now saw, was built
of the stems of small trees set closely together, and was furnished with rough chairs and
tables, from which even the bark had not been removed. As soon as she had shut the door
and set a chair —
“You have fairy blood in you,” said she, looking hard at me.
“How do you know that?”
“You could not have got so far into this wood if it were not so; and I am trying to find out
some trace of it in your countenance. I think I see it.”
“What do you see?”
“Oh, never mind: I may be mistaken in that.”
“But how then do you come to live here?”
“Because I too have fairy blood in me.”
Here I, in my turn, looked hard at her, and thought I could perceive, notwithstanding the
coarseness of her features, and especially the heaviness of her eyebrows, a something
unusual — I could hardly call it grace, and yet it was an expression that strangely contrasted
with the form of her features. I noticed too that her hands were delicately formed, though
brown with work and exposure.
“I should be ill,” she continued, “if I did not live on the borders of the fairies’ country, and
now and then eat of their food. And I see by your eyes that you are not quite free of the same
need; though, from your education and the activity of your mind, you have felt it less than I.
You may be further removed too from the fairy race.”
I remembered what the lady had said about my grandmothers.
Here she placed some bread and some milk before me, with a kindly apology for the
homeliness of the fare, with which, however, I was in no humour to quarrel. I now thought it
time to try to get some explanation of the strange words both of her daughter and herself.
“What did you mean by speaking so about the Ash?”
She rose and looked out of the little window. My eyes followed her; but as the window
was too small to allow anything to be seen from where I was sitting, I rose and looked over
her shoulder. I had just time to see, across the open space, on the edge of the denser forest,
a single large ash-tree, whose foliage showed bluish, amidst the truer green of the other trees
around it; when she pushed me back with an expression of impatience and terror, and then
almost shut out the light from the window by setting up a large old book in it.
“In general,” said she, recovering her composure, “there is no danger in the daytime, for
then he is sound asleep; but there is something unusual going on in the woods; there must be
some solemnity among the fairies to-night, for all the trees are restless, and although they
cannot come awake, they see and hear in their sleep.”
“But what danger is to be dreaded from him?”Instead of answering the question, she went again to the window and looked out, saying
she feared the fairies would be interrupted by foul weather, for a storm was brewing in the
“And the sooner it grows dark, the sooner the Ash will be awake,” added she.
I asked her how she knew that there was any unusual excitement in the woods. She
replied —
“Besides the look of the trees, the dog there is unhappy; and the eyes and ears of the
white rabbit are redder than usual, and he frisks about as if he expected some fun. If the cat
were at home, she would have her back up; for the young fairies pull the sparks out of her tail
with bramble thorns, and she knows when they are coming. So do I, in another way.”
At this instant, a grey cat rushed in like a demon, and disappeared in a hole in the wall.
“There, I told you!” said the woman.
“But what of the ash-tree?” said I, returning once more to the subject. Here, however,
the young woman, whom I had met in the morning, entered. A smile passed between the
mother and daughter; and then the latter began to help her mother in little household duties.
“I should like to stay here till the evening,” I said; “and then go on my journey, if you will
allow me.”
“You are welcome to do as you please; only it might be better to stay all night, than risk
the dangers of the wood then. Where are you going?”
“Nay, that I do not know,” I replied, “but I wish to see all that is to be seen, and therefore
I should like to start just at sundown.” “You are a bold youth, if you have any idea of what you
are daring; but a rash one, if you know nothing about it; and, excuse me, you do not seem
very well informed about the country and its manners. However, no one comes here but for
some reason, either known to himself or to those who have charge of him; so you shall do just
as you wish.”
Accordingly I sat down, and feeling rather tired, and disinclined for further talk, I asked
leave to look at the old book which still screened the window. The woman brought it to me
directly, but not before taking another look towards the forest, and then drawing a white blind
over the window. I sat down opposite to it by the table, on which I laid the great old volume,
and read. It contained many wondrous tales of Fairy Land, and olden times, and the Knights
of King Arthur’s table. I read on and on, till the shades of the afternoon began to deepen; for
in the midst of the forest it gloomed earlier than in the open country. At length I came to this
passage —
“Here it chanced, that upon their quest, Sir Galahad and Sir Percivale rencountered in
the depths of a great forest. Now, Sir Galahad was dight all in harness of silver, clear and
shining; the which is a delight to look upon, but full hasty to tarnish, and withouten the labour
of a ready squire, uneath to be kept fair and clean. And yet withouten squire or page, Sir
Galahad’s armour shone like the moon. And he rode a great white mare, whose bases and
other housings were black, but all besprent with fair lilys of silver sheen. Whereas Sir
Percivale bestrode a red horse, with a tawny mane and tail; whose trappings were all
tosmirched with mud and mire; and his armour was wondrous rosty to behold, ne could he by
any art furbish it again; so that as the sun in his going down shone twixt the bare trunks of the
trees, full upon the knights twain, the one did seem all shining with light, and the other all to
glow with ruddy fire. Now it came about in this wise. For Sir Percivale, after his escape from
the demon lady, whenas the cross on the handle of his sword smote him to the heart, and he
rove himself through the thigh, and escaped away, he came to a great wood; and, in nowise
cured of his fault, yet bemoaning the same, the damosel of the alder tree encountered him,
right fair to see; and with her fair words and false countenance she comforted him and
beguiled him, until he followed her where she led him to a —”
Here a low hurried cry from my hostess caused me to look up from the book, and I read
no more.“Look there!” she said; “look at his fingers!”
Just as I had been reading in the book, the setting sun was shining through a cleft in the
clouds piled up in the west; and a shadow as of a large distorted hand, with thick knobs and
humps on the fingers, so that it was much wider across the fingers than across the undivided
part of the hand, passed slowly over the little blind, and then as slowly returned in the opposite
“He is almost awake, mother; and greedier than usual to-night.”
“Hush, child; you need not make him more angry with us than he is; for you do not know
how soon something may happen to oblige us to be in the forest after nightfall.”
“But you are in the forest,” said I; “how is it that you are safe here?”
“He dares not come nearer than he is now,” she replied; “for any of those four oaks, at
the corners of our cottage, would tear him to pieces; they are our friends. But he stands there
and makes awful faces at us sometimes, and stretches out his long arms and fingers, and
tries to kill us with fright; for, indeed, that is his favourite way of doing. Pray, keep out of his
way to-night.”
“Shall I be able to see these things?” said I.
“That I cannot tell yet, not knowing how much of the fairy nature there is in you. But we
shall soon see whether you can discern the fairies in my little garden, and that will be some
guide to us.”
“Are the trees fairies too, as well as the flowers?” I asked.
“They are of the same race,” she replied; “though those you call fairies in your country
are chiefly the young children of the flower fairies. They are very fond of having fun with the
thick people, as they call you; for, like most children, they like fun better than anything else.”
“Why do you have flowers so near you then? Do they not annoy you?”
“Oh, no, they are very amusing, with their mimicries of grown people, and mock
solemnities. Sometimes they will act a whole play through before my eyes, with perfect
composure and assurance, for they are not afraid of me. Only, as soon as they have done,
they burst into peals of tiny laughter, as if it was such a joke to have been serious over
anything. These I speak of, however, are the fairies of the garden. They are more staid and
educated than those of the fields and woods. Of course they have near relations amongst the
wild flowers, but they patronise them, and treat them as country cousins, who know nothing of
life, and very little of manners. Now and then, however, they are compelled to envy the grace
and simplicity of the natural flowers.”
“Do they live in the flowers?” I said.
“I cannot tell,” she replied. “There is something in it I do not understand. Sometimes they
disappear altogether, even from me, though I know they are near. They seem to die always
with the flowers they resemble, and by whose names they are called; but whether they return
to life with the fresh flowers, or, whether it be new flowers, new fairies, I cannot tell. They
have as many sorts of dispositions as men and women, while their moods are yet more
variable; twenty different expressions will cross their little faces in half a minute. I often amuse
myself with watching them, but I have never been able to make personal acquaintance with
any of them. If I speak to one, he or she looks up in my face, as if I were not worth heeding,
gives a little laugh, and runs away.” Here the woman started, as if suddenly recollecting
herself, and said in a low voice to her daughter, “Make haste — go and watch him, and see in
what direction he goes.”
I may as well mention here, that the conclusion I arrived at from the observations I was
afterwards able to make, was, that the flowers die because the fairies go away; not that the
fairies disappear because the flowers die. The flowers seem a sort of houses for them, or
outer bodies, which they can put on or off when they please. Just as you could form some
idea of the nature of a man from the kind of house he built, if he followed his own taste, so
you could, without seeing the fairies, tell what any one of them is like, by looking at the flowertill you feel that you understand it. For just what the flower says to you, would the face and
form of the fairy say; only so much more plainly as a face and human figure can express
more than a flower. For the house or the clothes, though like the inhabitant or the wearer,
cannot be wrought into an equal power of utterance. Yet you would see a strange
resemblance, almost oneness, between the flower and the fairy, which you could not describe,
but which described itself to you. Whether all the flowers have fairies, I cannot determine, any
more than I can be sure whether all men and women have souls.
The woman and I continued the conversation for a few minutes longer. I was much
interested by the information she gave me, and astonished at the language in which she was
able to convey it. It seemed that intercourse with the fairies was no bad education in itself. But
now the daughter returned with the news, that the Ash had just gone away in a south-westerly
direction; and, as my course seemed to lie eastward, she hoped I should be in no danger of
meeting him if I departed at once. I looked out of the little window, and there stood the
ashtree, to my eyes the same as before; but I believed that they knew better than I did, and
prepared to go. I pulled out my purse, but to my dismay there was nothing in it. The woman
with a smile begged me not to trouble myself, for money was not of the slightest use there;
and as I might meet with people in my journeys whom I could not recognise to be fairies, it
was well I had no money to offer, for nothing offended them so much.
“They would think,” she added, “that you were making game of them; and that is their
peculiar privilege with regard to us.” So we went together into the little garden which sloped
down towards a lower part of the wood.
Here, to my great pleasure, all was life and bustle. There was still light enough from the
day to see a little; and the pale half-moon, halfway to the zenith, was reviving every moment.
The whole garden was like a carnival, with tiny, gaily decorated forms, in groups, assemblies,
processions, pairs or trios, moving stately on, running about wildly, or sauntering hither or
thither. From the cups or bells of tall flowers, as from balconies, some looked down on the
masses below, now bursting with laughter, now grave as owls; but even in their deepest
solemnity, seeming only to be waiting for the arrival of the next laugh. Some were launched on
a little marshy stream at the bottom, in boats chosen from the heaps of last year’s leaves that
lay about, curled and withered. These soon sank with them; whereupon they swam ashore
and got others. Those who took fresh rose-leaves for their boats floated the longest; but for
these they had to fight; for the fairy of the rose-tree complained bitterly that they were stealing
her clothes, and defended her property bravely.
“You can’t wear half you’ve got,” said some.
“Never you mind; I don’t choose you to have them: they are my property.”
“All for the good of the community!” said one, and ran off with a great hollow leaf. But the
rose-fairy sprang after him (what a beauty she was! only too like a drawing-room young lady),
knocked him heels-over-head as he ran, and recovered her great red leaf. But in the
meantime twenty had hurried off in different directions with others just as good; and the little
creature sat down and cried, and then, in a pet, sent a perfect pink snowstorm of petals from
her tree, leaping from branch to branch, and stamping and shaking and pulling. At last, after
another good cry, she chose the biggest she could find, and ran away laughing, to launch her
boat amongst the rest.
But my attention was first and chiefly attracted by a group of fairies near the cottage,
who were talking together around what seemed a last dying primrose. They talked singing,
and their talk made a song, something like this:

“Sister Snowdrop died
Before we were born.”
“She came like a bride
In a snowy morn.”“What’s a bride?”
“What is snow?
“Never tried.”
“Do not know.”
“Who told you about her?”
“Little Primrose there
Cannot do without her.”
“Oh, so sweetly fair!”
“Never fear,
She will come,
Primrose dear.”
“Is she dumb?”
“She’ll come by-and-by.”
“You will never see her.”
“She went home to dies,
“Till the new year.”
“Snowdrop!” “‘Tis no good
To invite her.”
“Primrose is very rude,
“I will bite her.”
“Oh, you naughty Pocket!
“Look, she drops her head.”
“She deserved it, Rocket,
“And she was nearly dead.”
“To your hammock — off with you!”
“And swing alone.”
“No one will laugh with you.”
“No, not one.”
“Now let us moan.”
“And cover her o’er.”
“Primrose is gone.”
“All but the flower.”
“Here is a leaf.”
“Lay her upon it.”
“Follow in grief.”
“Pocket has done it.”

“Deeper, poor creature!
Winter may come.”
“He cannot reach her —
That is a hum.”
“She is buried, the beauty!”
“Now she is done.”
“That was the duty.”
“Now for the fun.”
And with a wild laugh they sprang away, most of them towards the cottage. During the
latter part of the song-talk, they had formed themselves into a funeral procession, two of them
bearing poor Primrose, whose death Pocket had hastened by biting her stalk, upon one of her
own great leaves. They bore her solemnly along some distance, and then buried her under a
tree. Although I say her I saw nothing but the withered primrose-flower on its long stalk.
Pocket, who had been expelled from the company by common consent, went sulkily awaytowards her hammock, for she was the fairy of the calceolaria, and looked rather wicked.
When she reached its stem, she stopped and looked round. I could not help speaking to her,
for I stood near her. I said, “Pocket, how could you be so naughty?”
“I am never naughty,” she said, half-crossly, half-defiantly; “only if you come near my
hammock, I will bite you, and then you will go away.”
“Why did you bite poor Primrose?”
“Because she said we should never see Snowdrop; as if we were not good enough to
look at her, and she was, the proud thing! — served her right!”
“Oh, Pocket, Pocket,” said I; but by this time the party which had gone towards the
house, rushed out again, shouting and screaming with laughter. Half of them were on the cat’s
back, and half held on by her fur and tail, or ran beside her; till, more coming to their help, the
furious cat was held fast; and they proceeded to pick the sparks out of her with thorns and
pins, which they handled like harpoons. Indeed, there were more instruments at work about
her than there could have been sparks in her. One little fellow who held on hard by the tip of
the tail, with his feet planted on the ground at an angle of forty-five degrees, helping to keep
her fast, administered a continuous flow of admonitions to Pussy.
“Now, Pussy, be patient. You know quite well it is all for your good. You cannot be
comfortable with all those sparks in you; and, indeed, I am charitably disposed to believe”
(here he became very pompous) “that they are the cause of all your bad temper; so we must
have them all out, every one; else we shall be reduced to the painful necessity of cutting your
claws, and pulling out your eye-teeth. Quiet! Pussy, quiet!”
But with a perfect hurricane of feline curses, the poor animal broke loose, and dashed
across the garden and through the hedge, faster than even the fairies could follow. “Never
mind, never mind, we shall find her again; and by that time she will have laid in a fresh stock
of sparks. Hooray!” And off they set, after some new mischief.
But I will not linger to enlarge on the amusing display of these frolicsome creatures. Their
manners and habits are now so well known to the world, having been so often described by
eyewitnesses, that it would be only indulging self-conceit, to add my account in full to the rest.
I cannot help wishing, however, that my readers could see them for themselves. Especially do
I desire that they should see the fairy of the daisy; a little, chubby, round-eyed child, with such
innocent trust in his look! Even the most mischievous of the fairies would not tease him,
although he did not belong to their set at all, but was quite a little country bumpkin. He
wandered about alone, and looked at everything, with his hands in his little pockets, and a
white night-cap on, the darling! He was not so beautiful as many other wild flowers I saw
afterwards, but so dear and loving in his looks and little confident ways.
Chapter 4

When bale is att hyest, boote is nyest.
—Ballad of Sir Aldingar.

By this time, my hostess was quite anxious that I should be gone. So, with warm thanks
for their hospitality, I took my leave, and went my way through the little garden towards the
forest. Some of the garden flowers had wandered into the wood, and were growing here and
there along the path, but the trees soon became too thick and shadowy for them. I particularly
noticed some tall lilies, which grew on both sides of the way, with large dazzlingly white
flowers, set off by the universal green. It was now dark enough for me to see that every flower
was shining with a light of its own. Indeed it was by this light that I saw them, an internal,
peculiar light, proceeding from each, and not reflected from a common source of light as in
the daytime. This light sufficed only for the plant itself, and was not strong enough to cast any
but the faintest shadows around it, or to illuminate any of the neighbouring objects with other
than the faintest tinge of its own individual hue. From the lilies above mentioned, from the
campanulas, from the foxgloves, and every bell-shaped flower, curious little figures shot up
their heads, peeped at me, and drew back. They seemed to inhabit them, as snails their shells
but I was sure some of them were intruders, and belonged to the gnomes or goblin-fairies,
who inhabit the ground and earthy creeping plants. From the cups of Arum lilies, creatures
with great heads and grotesque faces shot up like Jack-in-the-box, and made grimaces at me;
or rose slowly and slily over the edge of the cup, and spouted water at me, slipping suddenly
back, like those little soldier-crabs that inhabit the shells of sea-snails. Passing a row of tall
thistles, I saw them crowded with little faces, which peeped every one from behind its flower,
and drew back as quickly; and I heard them saying to each other, evidently intending me to
hear, but the speaker always hiding behind his tuft, when I looked in his direction, “Look at
him! Look at him! He has begun a story without a beginning, and it will never have any end.
He! he! he! Look at him!”
But as I went further into the wood, these sights and sounds became fewer, giving way
to others of a different character. A little forest of wild hyacinths was alive with exquisite
creatures, who stood nearly motionless, with drooping necks, holding each by the stem of her
flower, and swaying gently with it, whenever a low breath of wind swung the crowded floral
belfry. In like manner, though differing of course in form and meaning, stood a group of
harebells, like little angels waiting, ready, till they were wanted to go on some yet unknown
message. In darker nooks, by the mossy roots of the trees, or in little tufts of grass, each
dwelling in a globe of its own green light, weaving a network of grass and its shadows, glowed
the glowworms.
They were just like the glowworms of our own land, for they are fairies everywhere;
worms in the day, and glowworms at night, when their own can appear, and they can be
themselves to others as well as themselves. But they had their enemies here. For I saw great
strong-armed beetles, hurrying about with most unwieldy haste, awkward as elephant-calves,
looking apparently for glowworms; for the moment a beetle espied one, through what to it was
a forest of grass, or an underwood of moss, it pounced upon it, and bore it away, in spite of
its feeble resistance. Wondering what their object could be, I watched one of the beetles, and
then I discovered a thing I could not account for. But it is no use trying to account for things in
Fairy Land; and one who travels there soon learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and
takes everything as it comes; like a child, who, being in a chronic condition of wonder, is
surprised at nothing. What I saw was this. Everywhere, here and there over the ground, lay
little, dark-looking lumps of something more like earth than anything else, and about the size
of a chestnut. The beetles hunted in couples for these; and having found one, one of themstayed to watch it, while the other hurried to find a glowworm. By signals, I presume, between
them, the latter soon found his companion again: they then took the glowworm and held its
luminous tail to the dark earthly pellet; when lo, it shot up into the air like a sky-rocket, seldom,
however, reaching the height of the highest tree. Just like a rocket too, it burst in the air, and
fell in a shower of the most gorgeously coloured sparks of every variety of hue; golden and
red, and purple and green, and blue and rosy fires crossed and inter-crossed each other,
beneath the shadowy heads, and between the columnar stems of the forest trees. They never
used the same glowworm twice, I observed; but let him go, apparently uninjured by the use
they had made of him.
In other parts, the whole of the immediately surrounding foliage was illuminated by the
interwoven dances in the air of splendidly coloured fire-flies, which sped hither and thither,
turned, twisted, crossed, and recrossed, entwining every complexity of intervolved motion.
Here and there, whole mighty trees glowed with an emitted phosphorescent light. You could
trace the very course of the great roots in the earth by the faint light that came through; and
every twig, and every vein on every leaf was a streak of pale fire.
All this time, as I went through the wood, I was haunted with the feeling that other
shapes, more like my own size and mien, were moving about at a little distance on all sides of
me. But as yet I could discern none of them, although the moon was high enough to send a
great many of her rays down between the trees, and these rays were unusually bright, and
sight-giving, notwithstanding she was only a half-moon. I constantly imagined, however, that
forms were visible in all directions except that to which my gaze was turned; and that they
only became invisible, or resolved themselves into other woodland shapes, the moment my
looks were directed towards them. However this may have been, except for this feeling of
presence, the woods seemed utterly bare of anything like human companionship, although my
glance often fell on some object which I fancied to be a human form; for I soon found that I
was quite deceived; as, the moment I fixed my regard on it, it showed plainly that it was a
bush, or a tree, or a rock.
Soon a vague sense of discomfort possessed me. With variations of relief, this gradually
increased; as if some evil thing were wandering about in my neighbourhood, sometimes
nearer and sometimes further off, but still approaching. The feeling continued and deepened,
until all my pleasure in the shows of various kinds that everywhere betokened the presence of
the merry fairies vanished by degrees, and left me full of anxiety and fear, which I was unable
to associate with any definite object whatever. At length the thought crossed my mind with
horror: “Can it be possible that the Ash is looking for me? or that, in his nightly wanderings, his
path is gradually verging towards mine?” I comforted myself, however, by remembering that
he had started quite in another direction; one that would lead him, if he kept it, far apart from
me; especially as, for the last two or three hours, I had been diligently journeying eastward. I
kept on my way, therefore, striving by direct effort of the will against the encroaching fear; and
to this end occupying my mind, as much as I could, with other thoughts. I was so far
successful that, although I was conscious, if I yielded for a moment, I should be almost
overwhelmed with horror, I was yet able to walk right on for an hour or more. What I feared I
could not tell. Indeed, I was left in a state of the vaguest uncertainty as regarded the nature of
my enemy, and knew not the mode or object of his attacks; for, somehow or other, none of
my questions had succeeded in drawing a definite answer from the dame in the cottage. How
then to defend myself I knew not; nor even by what sign I might with certainty recognise the
presence of my foe; for as yet this vague though powerful fear was all the indication of danger
I had. To add to my distress, the clouds in the west had risen nearly to the top of the skies,
and they and the moon were travelling slowly towards each other. Indeed, some of their
advanced guard had already met her, and she had begun to wade through a filmy vapour that
gradually deepened.
At length she was for a moment almost entirely obscured. When she shone out again,with a brilliancy increased by the contrast, I saw plainly on the path before me — from around
which at this spot the trees receded, leaving a small space of green sward — the shadow of a
large hand, with knotty joints and protuberances here and there. Especially I remarked, even
in the midst of my fear, the bulbous points of the fingers. I looked hurriedly all around, but
could see nothing from which such a shadow should fall. Now, however, that I had a direction,
however undetermined, in which to project my apprehension, the very sense of danger and
need of action overcame that stifling which is the worst property of fear. I reflected in a
moment, that if this were indeed a shadow, it was useless to look for the object that cast it in
any other direction than between the shadow and the moon. I looked, and peered, and
intensified my vision, all to no purpose. I could see nothing of that kind, not even an ash-tree
in the neighbourhood. Still the shadow remained; not steady, but moving to and fro, and once
I saw the fingers close, and grind themselves close, like the claws of a wild animal, as if in
uncontrollable longing for some anticipated prey. There seemed but one mode left of
discovering the substance of this shadow. I went forward boldly, though with an inward
shudder which I would not heed, to the spot where the shadow lay, threw myself on the
ground, laid my head within the form of the hand, and turned my eyes towards the moon
Good heavens! what did I see? I wonder that ever I arose, and that the very shadow of the
hand did not hold me where I lay until fear had frozen my brain. I saw the strangest figure;
vague, shadowy, almost transparent, in the central parts, and gradually deepening in
substance towards the outside, until it ended in extremities capable of casting such a shadow
as fell from the hand, through the awful fingers of which I now saw the moon. The hand was
uplifted in the attitude of a paw about to strike its prey. But the face, which throbbed with
fluctuating and pulsatory visibility — not from changes in the light it reflected, but from
changes in its own conditions of reflecting power, the alterations being from within, not from
without — it was horrible. I do not know how to describe it. It caused a new sensation. Just as
one cannot translate a horrible odour, or a ghastly pain, or a fearful sound, into words, so I
cannot describe this new form of awful hideousness. I can only try to describe something that
is not it, but seems somewhat parallel to it; or at least is suggested by it. It reminded me of
what I had heard of vampires; for the face resembled that of a corpse more than anything
else I can think of; especially when I can conceive such a face in motion, but not suggesting
any life as the source of the motion. The features were rather handsome than otherwise,
except the mouth, which had scarcely a curve in it. The lips were of equal thickness; but the
thickness was not at all remarkable, even although they looked slightly swollen. They seemed
fixedly open, but were not wide apart. Of course I did not remark these lineaments at the
time: I was too horrified for that. I noted them afterwards, when the form returned on my
inward sight with a vividness too intense to admit of my doubting the accuracy of the reflex.
But the most awful of the features were the eyes. These were alive, yet not with life.
They seemed lighted up with an infinite greed. A gnawing voracity, which devoured the
devourer, seemed to be the indwelling and propelling power of the whole ghostly apparition. I
lay for a few moments simply imbruted with terror; when another cloud, obscuring the moon,
delivered me from the immediately paralysing effects of the presence to the vision of the
object of horror, while it added the force of imagination to the power of fear within me;
inasmuch as, knowing far worse cause for apprehension than before, I remained equally
ignorant from what I had to defend myself, or how to take any precautions: he might be upon
me in the darkness any moment. I sprang to my feet, and sped I knew not whither, only away
from the spectre. I thought no longer of the path, and often narrowly escaped dashing myself
against a tree, in my headlong flight of fear.
Great drops of rain began to patter on the leaves. Thunder began to mutter, then growl
in the distance. I ran on. The rain fell heavier. At length the thick leaves could hold it up no
longer; and, like a second firmament, they poured their torrents on the earth. I was soon
drenched, but that was nothing. I came to a small swollen stream that rushed through thewoods. I had a vague hope that if I crossed this stream, I should be in safety from my
pursuer; but I soon found that my hope was as false as it was vague. I dashed across the
stream, ascended a rising ground, and reached a more open space, where stood only great
trees. Through them I directed my way, holding eastward as nearly as I could guess, but not
at all certain that I was not moving in an opposite direction. My mind was just reviving a little
from its extreme terror, when, suddenly, a flash of lightning, or rather a cataract of successive
flashes, behind me, seemed to throw on the ground in front of me, but far more faintly than
before, from the extent of the source of the light, the shadow of the same horrible hand. I
sprang forward, stung to yet wilder speed; but had not run many steps before my foot slipped,
and, vainly attempting to recover myself, I fell at the foot of one of the large trees.
Halfstunned, I yet raised myself, and almost involuntarily looked back. All I saw was the hand
within three feet of my face. But, at the same moment, I felt two large soft arms thrown round
me from behind; and a voice like a woman’s said: “Do not fear the goblin; he dares not hurt
you now.” With that, the hand was suddenly withdrawn as from a fire, and disappeared in the
darkness and the rain. Overcome with the mingling of terror and joy, I lay for some time
almost insensible. The first thing I remember is the sound of a voice above me, full and low,
and strangely reminding me of the sound of a gentle wind amidst the leaves of a great tree. It
murmured over and over again: “I may love him, I may love him; for he is a man, and I am
only a beech-tree.” I found I was seated on the ground, leaning against a human form, and
supported still by the arms around me, which I knew to be those of a woman who must be
rather above the human size, and largely proportioned. I turned my head, but without moving
otherwise, for I feared lest the arms should untwine themselves; and clear, somewhat
mournful eyes met mine. At least that is how they impressed me; but I could see very little of
colour or outline as we sat in the dark and rainy shadow of the tree. The face seemed very
lovely, and solemn from its stillness; with the aspect of one who is quite content, but waiting
for something. I saw my conjecture from her arms was correct: she was above the human
scale throughout, but not greatly.
“Why do you call yourself a beech-tree?” I said.
“Because I am one,” she replied, in the same low, musical, murmuring voice.
“You are a woman,” I returned.
“Do you think so? Am I very like a woman then?”
“You are a very beautiful woman. Is it possible you should not know it?”
“I am very glad you think so. I fancy I feel like a woman sometimes. I do so to-night —
and always when the rain drips from my hair. For there is an old prophecy in our woods that
one day we shall all be men and women like you. Do you know anything about it in your
region? Shall I be very happy when I am a woman? I fear not, for it is always in nights like
these that I feel like one. But I long to be a woman for all that.”
I had let her talk on, for her voice was like a solution of all musical sounds. I now told her
that I could hardly say whether women were happy or not. I knew one who had not been
happy; and for my part, I had often longed for Fairy Land, as she now longed for the world of
men. But then neither of us had lived long, and perhaps people grew happier as they grew
older. Only I doubted it.
I could not help sighing. She felt the sigh, for her arms were still round me. She asked
me how old I was.
“Twenty-one,” said I.
“Why, you baby!” said she, and kissed me with the sweetest kiss of winds and odours.
There was a cool faithfulness in the kiss that revived my heart wonderfully. I felt that I feared
the dreadful Ash no more.
“What did the horrible Ash want with me?” I said.
“I am not quite sure, but I think he wants to bury you at the foot of his tree. But he shall
not touch you, my child.”“Are all the ash-trees as dreadful as he?”
“Oh, no. They are all disagreeable selfish creatures — (what horrid men they will make, if
it be true!) — but this one has a hole in his heart that nobody knows of but one or two; and he
is always trying to fill it up, but he cannot. That must be what he wanted you for. I wonder if he
will ever be a man. If he is, I hope they will kill him.”
“How kind of you to save me from him!”
“I will take care that he shall not come near you again. But there are some in the wood
more like me, from whom, alas! I cannot protect you. Only if you see any of them very
beautiful, try to walk round them.”
“What then?”
“I cannot tell you more. But now I must tie some of my hair about you, and then the Ash
will not touch you. Here, cut some off. You men have strange cutting things about you.”
She shook her long hair loose over me, never moving her arms.
“I cannot cut your beautiful hair. It would be a shame.”
“Not cut my hair! It will have grown long enough before any is wanted again in this wild
forest. Perhaps it may never be of any use again — not till I am a woman.” And she sighed.
As gently as I could, I cut with a knife a long tress of flowing, dark hair, she hanging her
beautiful head over me. When I had finished, she shuddered and breathed deep, as one does
when an acute pain, steadfastly endured without sign of suffering, is at length relaxed. She
then took the hair and tied it round me, singing a strange, sweet song, which I could not
understand, but which left in me a feeling like this —

I saw thee ne’er before;
I see thee never more;
But love, and help, and pain, beautiful one,
Have made thee mine, till all my years are done.
I cannot put more of it into words. She closed her arms about me again, and went on
singing. The rain in the leaves, and a light wind that had arisen, kept her song company. I was
wrapt in a trance of still delight. It told me the secret of the woods, and the flowers, and the
birds. At one time I felt as if I was wandering in childhood through sunny spring forests, over
carpets of primroses, anemones, and little white starry things — I had almost said creatures,
and finding new wonderful flowers at every turn. At another, I lay half dreaming in the hot
summer noon, with a book of old tales beside me, beneath a great beech; or, in autumn, grew
sad because I trod on the leaves that had sheltered me, and received their last blessing in the
sweet odours of decay; or, in a winter evening, frozen still, looked up, as I went home to a
warm fireside, through the netted boughs and twigs to the cold, snowy moon, with her opal
zone around her. At last I had fallen asleep; for I know nothing more that passed till I found
myself lying under a superb beech-tree, in the clear light of the morning, just before sunrise.
Around me was a girdle of fresh beech-leaves. Alas! I brought nothing with me out of Fairy
Land, but memories — memories. The great boughs of the beech hung drooping around me.
At my head rose its smooth stem, with its great sweeps of curving surface that swelled like
undeveloped limbs. The leaves and branches above kept on the song which had sung me
asleep; only now, to my mind, it sounded like a farewell and a speedwell. I sat a long time,
unwilling to go; but my unfinished story urged me on. I must act and wander. With the sun well
risen, I rose, and put my arms as far as they would reach around the beech-tree, and kissed
it, and said good-bye. A trembling went through the leaves; a few of the last drops of the
night’s rain fell from off them at my feet; and as I walked slowly away, I seemed to hear in a
whisper once more the words: “I may love him, I may love him; for he is a man, and I am only
a beech-tree.”
Chapter 5

And she was smooth and full, as if one gush
Of life had washed her, or as if a sleep
Lay on her eyelid, easier to sweep
Than bee from daisy.
—Beddois’ Pygmalion.

Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May,
Or snow that sneweth yn wynterys day.
—Romance of Sir Launfal.

I walked on, in the fresh morning air, as if new-born. The only thing that damped my
pleasure was a cloud of something between sorrow and delight that crossed my mind with the
frequently returning thought of my last night’s hostess. “But then,” thought I, “if she is sorry, I
could not help it; and she has all the pleasures she ever had. Such a day as this is surely a joy
to her, as much at least as to me. And her life will perhaps be the richer, for holding now
within it the memory of what came, but could not stay. And if ever she is a woman, who
knows but we may meet somewhere? there is plenty of room for meeting in the universe.”
Comforting myself thus, yet with a vague compunction, as if I ought not to have left her, I
went on. There was little to distinguish the woods to-day from those of my own land; except
that all the wild things, rabbits, birds, squirrels, mice, and the numberless other inhabitants,
were very tame; that is, they did not run away from me, but gazed at me as I passed,
frequently coming nearer, as if to examine me more closely. Whether this came from utter
ignorance, or from familiarity with the human appearance of beings who never hurt them, I
could not tell. As I stood once, looking up to the splendid flower of a parasite, which hung from
the branch of a tree over my head, a large white rabbit cantered slowly up, put one of its little
feet on one of mine, and looked up at me with its red eyes, just as I had been looking up at
the flower above me. I stooped and stroked it; but when I attempted to lift it, it banged the
ground with its hind feet and scampered off at a great rate, turning, however, to look at me
several times before I lost sight of it. Now and then, too, a dim human figure would appear
and disappear, at some distance, amongst the trees, moving like a sleep-walker. But no one
ever came near me.
This day I found plenty of food in the forest — strange nuts and fruits I had never seen
before. I hesitated to eat them; but argued that, if I could live on the air of Fairy Land, I could
live on its food also. I found my reasoning correct, and the result was better than I had hoped;
for it not only satisfied my hunger, but operated in such a way upon my senses that I was
brought into far more complete relationship with the things around me. The human forms
appeared much more dense and defined; more tangibly visible, if I may say so. I seemed to
know better which direction to choose when any doubt arose. I began to feel in some degree
what the birds meant in their songs, though I could not express it in words, any more than you
can some landscapes. At times, to my surprise, I found myself listening attentively, and as if it
were no unusual thing with me, to a conversation between two squirrels or monkeys. The
subjects were not very interesting, except as associated with the individual life and necessities
of the little creatures: where the best nuts were to be found in the neighbourhood, and who
could crack them best, or who had most laid up for the winter, and such like; only they never
said where the store was. There was no great difference in kind between their talk and our
ordinary human conversation. Some of the creatures I never heard speak at all, and believe
they never do so, except under the impulse of some great excitement. The mice talked; but
the hedgehogs seemed very phlegmatic; and though I met a couple of moles above groundseveral times, they never said a word to each other in my hearing. There were no wild beasts
in the forest; at least, I did not see one larger than a wild cat. There were plenty of snakes,
however, and I do not think they were all harmless; but none ever bit me.
Soon after mid-day I arrived at a bare rocky hill, of no great size, but very steep; and
having no trees — scarcely even a bush — upon it, entirely exposed to the heat of the sun.
Over this my way seemed to lie, and I immediately began the ascent. On reaching the top,
hot and weary, I looked around me, and saw that the forest still stretched as far as the sight
could reach on every side of me. I observed that the trees, in the direction in which I was
about to descend, did not come so near the foot of the hill as on the other side, and was
especially regretting the unexpected postponement of shelter, because this side of the hill
seemed more difficult to descend than the other had been to climb, when my eye caught the
appearance of a natural path, winding down through broken rocks and along the course of a
tiny stream, which I hoped would lead me more easily to the foot. I tried it, and found the
descent not at all laborious; nevertheless, when I reached the bottom, I was very tired and
exhausted with the heat. But just where the path seemed to end, rose a great rock, quite
overgrown with shrubs and creeping plants, some of them in full and splendid blossom: these
almost concealed an opening in the rock, into which the path appeared to lead. I entered,
thirsting for the shade which it promised. What was my delight to find a rocky cell, all the
angles rounded away with rich moss, and every ledge and projection crowded with lovely
ferns, the variety of whose forms, and groupings, and shades wrought in me like a poem; for
such a harmony could not exist, except they all consented to some one end! A little well of the
clearest water filled a mossy hollow in one corner. I drank, and felt as if I knew what the elixir
of life must be; then threw myself on a mossy mound that lay like a couch along the inner end.
Here I lay in a delicious reverie for some time; during which all lovely forms, and colours, and
sounds seemed to use my brain as a common hall, where they could come and go, unbidden
and unexcused. I had never imagined that such capacity for simple happiness lay in me, as
was now awakened by this assembly of forms and spiritual sensations, which yet were far too
vague to admit of being translated into any shape common to my own and another mind. I
had lain for an hour, I should suppose, though it may have been far longer, when, the
harmonious tumult in my mind having somewhat relaxed, I became aware that my eyes were
fixed on a strange, time-worn bas-relief on the rock opposite to me. This, after some
pondering, I concluded to represent Pygmalion, as he awaited the quickening of his statue.
The sculptor sat more rigid than the figure to which his eyes were turned. That seemed about
to step from its pedestal and embrace the man, who waited rather than expected.
“A lovely story,” I said to myself. “This cave, now, with the bushes cut away from the
entrance to let the light in, might be such a place as he would choose, withdrawn from the
notice of men, to set up his block of marble, and mould into a visible body the thought already
clothed with form in the unseen hall of the sculptor’s brain. And, indeed, if I mistake not,” I
said, starting up, as a sudden ray of light arrived at that moment through a crevice in the roof,
and lighted up a small portion of the rock, bare of vegetation, “this very rock is marble, white
enough and delicate enough for any statue, even if destined to become an ideal woman in the
arms of the sculptor.”
I took my knife and removed the moss from a part of the block on which I had been
lying; when, to my surprise, I found it more like alabaster than ordinary marble, and soft to the
edge of the knife. In fact, it was alabaster. By an inexplicable, though by no means unusual
kind of impulse, I went on removing the moss from the surface of the stone; and soon saw
that it was polished, or at least smooth, throughout. I continued my labour; and after clearing
a space of about a couple of square feet, I observed what caused me to prosecute the work
with more interest and care than before. For the ray of sunlight had now reached the spot I
had cleared, and under its lustre the alabaster revealed its usual slight transparency when
polished, except where my knife had scratched the surface; and I observed that thetransparency seemed to have a definite limit, and to end upon an opaque body like the more
solid, white marble. I was careful to scratch no more. And first, a vague anticipation gave way
to a startling sense of possibility; then, as I proceeded, one revelation after another produced
the entrancing conviction, that under the crust of alabaster lay a dimly visible form in marble,
but whether of man or woman I could not yet tell. I worked on as rapidly as the necessary
care would permit; and when I had uncovered the whole mass, and rising from my knees, had
retreated a little way, so that the effect of the whole might fall on me, I saw before me with
sufficient plainness — though at the same time with considerable indistinctness, arising from
the limited amount of light the place admitted, as well as from the nature of the object itself —
a block of pure alabaster enclosing the form, apparently in marble, of a reposing woman. She
lay on one side, with her hand under her cheek, and her face towards me; but her hair had
fallen partly over her face, so that I could not see the expression of the whole. What I did see
appeared to me perfectly lovely; more near the face that had been born with me in my soul,
than anything I had seen before in nature or art. The actual outlines of the rest of the form
were so indistinct, that the more than semi-opacity of the alabaster seemed insufficient to
account for the fact; and I conjectured that a light robe added its obscurity. Numberless
histories passed through my mind of change of substance from enchantment and other
causes, and of imprisonments such as this before me. I thought of the Prince of the
Enchanted City, half marble and half a man; of Ariel; of Niobe; of the Sleeping Beauty in the
Wood; of the bleeding trees; and many other histories. Even my adventure of the preceding
evening with the lady of the beech-tree contributed to arouse the wild hope, that by some
means life might be given to this form also, and that, breaking from her alabaster tomb, she
might glorify my eyes with her presence. “For,” I argued, “who can tell but this cave may be
the home of Marble, and this, essential Marble — that spirit of marble which, present
throughout, makes it capable of being moulded into any form? Then if she should awake! But
how to awake her? A kiss awoke the Sleeping Beauty! a kiss cannot reach her through the
incrusting alabaster.” I kneeled, however, and kissed the pale coffin; but she slept on. I
bethought me of Orpheus, and the following stones — that trees should follow his music
seemed nothing surprising now. Might not a song awake this form, that the glory of motion
might for a time displace the loveliness of rest? Sweet sounds can go where kisses may not
enter. I sat and thought. Now, although always delighting in music, I had never been gifted
with the power of song, until I entered the fairy forest. I had a voice, and I had a true sense of
sound; but when I tried to sing, the one would not content the other, and so I remained silent.
This morning, however, I had found myself, ere I was aware, rejoicing in a song; but whether
it was before or after I had eaten of the fruits of the forest, I could not satisfy myself. I
concluded it was after, however; and that the increased impulse to sing I now felt, was in part
owing to having drunk of the little well, which shone like a brilliant eye in a corner of the cave. I
sat down on the ground by the “antenatal tomb,” leaned upon it with my face towards the
head of the figure within, and sang — the words and tones coming together, and inseparably
connected, as if word and tone formed one thing; or, as if each word could be uttered only in
that tone, and was incapable of distinction from it, except in idea, by an acute analysis. I sang
something like this: but the words are only a dull representation of a state whose very
elevation precluded the possibility of remembrance; and in which I presume the words really
employed were as far above these, as that state transcended this wherein I recall it:
Marble woman, vainly sleeping
In the very death of dreams!
Wilt thou — slumber from thee sweeping,
All but what with vision teems —
Hear my voice come through the golden
Mist of memory and hope;
And with shadowy smile emboldenMe with primal Death to cope?

Thee the sculptors all pursuing,
Have embodied but their own;
Round their visions, form enduring,
Marble vestments thou hast thrown;
But thyself, in silence winding,
Thou hast kept eternally;
Thee they found not, many finding —
I have found thee: wake for me.
As I sang, I looked earnestly at the face so vaguely revealed before me. I fancied, yet
believed it to be but fancy, that through the dim veil of the alabaster, I saw a motion of the
head as if caused by a sinking sigh. I gazed more earnestly, and concluded that it was but
fancy. Neverthless I could not help singing again —

Rest is now filled full of beauty,
And can give thee up, I ween;
Come thou forth, for other duty
Motion pineth for her queen.

Or, if needing years to wake thee
From thy slumbrous solitudes,
Come, sleep-walking, and betake thee
To the friendly, sleeping woods.

Sweeter dreams are in the forest,
Round thee storms would never rave;
And when need of rest is sorest,
Glide thou then into thy cave.

Or, if still thou choosest rather
Marble, be its spell on me;
Let thy slumber round me gather,
Let another dream with thee!
Again I paused, and gazed through the stony shroud, as if, by very force of penetrative
sight, I would clear every lineament of the lovely face. And now I thought the hand that had
lain under the cheek, had slipped a little downward. But then I could not be sure that I had at
first observed its position accurately. So I sang again; for the longing had grown into a
passionate need of seeing her alive —
Or art thou Death, O woman? for since I
Have set me singing by thy side,
Life hath forsook the upper sky,
And all the outer world hath died.

Yea, I am dead; for thou hast drawn
My life all downward unto thee.
Dead moon of love! let twilight dawn:
Awake! and let the darkness flee.

Cold lady of the lovely stone!
Awake! or I shall perish here;And thou be never more alone,
My form and I for ages near.

But words are vain; reject them all —
They utter but a feeble part:
Hear thou the depths from which they call,
The voiceless longing of my heart.
There arose a slightly crashing sound. Like a sudden apparition that comes and is gone,
a white form, veiled in a light robe of whiteness, burst upwards from the stone, stood, glided
forth, and gleamed away towards the woods. For I followed to the mouth of the cave, as soon
as the amazement and concentration of delight permitted the nerves of motion again to act;
and saw the white form amidst the trees, as it crossed a little glade on the edge of the forest
where the sunlight fell full, seeming to gather with intenser radiance on the one object that
floated rather than flitted through its lake of beams. I gazed after her in a kind of despair;
found, freed, lost! It seemed useless to follow, yet follow I must. I marked the direction she
took; and without once looking round to the forsaken cave, I hastened towards the forest.
Chapter 6

Ah, let a man beware, when his wishes, fulfilled, rain down
upon him, and his happiness is unbounded.
—Fouqué, Der Zauberring.

Thy red lips, like worms,
Travel over my cheek.

But as I crossed the space between the foot of the hill and the forest, a vision of another
kind delayed my steps. Through an opening to the westward flowed, like a stream, the rays of
the setting sun, and overflowed with a ruddy splendour the open space where I was. And
riding as it were down this stream towards me, came a horseman in what appeared red
armour. From frontlet to tail, the horse likewise shone red in the sunset. I felt as if I must have
seen the knight before; but as he drew near, I could recall no feature of his countenance. Ere
he came up to me, however, I remembered the legend of Sir Percival in the rusty armour,
which I had left unfinished in the old book in the cottage: it was of Sir Percival that he
reminded me. And no wonder; for when he came close up to me, I saw that, from crest to
heel, the whole surface of his armour was covered with a light rust. The golden spurs shone,
but the iron greaves glowed in the sunlight. The morning star, which hung from his wrist,
glittered and glowed with its silver and bronze. His whole appearance was terrible; but his face
did not answer to this appearance. It was sad, even to gloominess; and something of shame
seemed to cover it. Yet it was noble and high, though thus beclouded; and the form looked
lofty, although the head drooped, and the whole frame was bowed as with an inward grief.
The horse seemed to share in his master’s dejection, and walked spiritless and slow. I
noticed, too, that the white plume on his helmet was discoloured and drooping. “He has fallen
in a joust with spears,” I said to myself; “yet it becomes not a noble knight to be conquered in
spirit because his body hath fallen.” He appeared not to observe me, for he was riding past
without looking up, and started into a warlike attitude the moment the first sound of my voice
reached him. Then a flush, as of shame, covered all of his face that the lifted beaver
disclosed. He returned my greeting with distant courtesy, and passed on. But suddenly, he
reined up, sat a moment still, and then turning his horse, rode back to where I stood looking
after him.
“I am ashamed,” he said, “to appear a knight, and in such a guise; but it behoves me to
tell you to take warning from me, lest the same evil, in his kind, overtake the singer that has
befallen the knight. Hast thou ever read the story of Sir Percival and the” — (here he
shuddered, that his armour rang) — “Maiden of the Alder-tree?”
“In part, I have,” said I; “for yesterday, at the entrance of this forest, I found in a cottage
the volume wherein it is recorded.” “Then take heed,” he rejoined; “for, see my armour — I
put it off; and as it befell to him, so has it befallen to me. I that was proud am humble now.
Yet is she terribly beautiful — beware. Never,” he added, raising his head, “shall this armour
be furbished, but by the blows of knightly encounter, until the last speck has disappeared from
every spot where the battle-axe and sword of evil-doers, or noble foes, might fall; when I shall
again lift my head, and say to my squire, ‘Do thy duty once more, and make this armour
Before I could inquire further, he had struck spurs into his horse and galloped away,
shrouded from my voice in the noise of his armour. For I called after him, anxious to know
more about this fearful enchantress; but in vain — he heard me not. “Yet,” I said to myself, “I
have now been often warned; surely I shall be well on my guard; and I am fully resolved I shallnot be ensnared by any beauty, however beautiful. Doubtless, some one man may escape,
and I shall be he.” So I went on into the wood, still hoping to find, in some one of its
mysterious recesses, my lost lady of the marble. The sunny afternoon died into the loveliest
twilight. Great bats began to flit about with their own noiseless flight, seemingly purposeless,
because its objects are unseen. The monotonous music of the owl issued from all unexpected
quarters in the half-darkness around me. The glow-worm was alight here and there, burning
out into the great universe. The night-hawk heightened all the harmony and stillness with his
oft-recurring, discordant jar. Numberless unknown sounds came out of the unknown dusk; but
all were of twilight-kind, oppressing the heart as with a condensed atmosphere of dreamy
undefined love and longing. The odours of night arose, and bathed me in that luxurious
mournfulness peculiar to them, as if the plants whence they floated had been watered with
bygone tears. Earth drew me towards her bosom; I felt as if I could fall down and kiss her. I
forgot I was in Fairy Land, and seemed to be walking in a perfect night of our own old nursing
earth. Great stems rose about me, uplifting a thick multitudinous roof above me of branches,
and twigs, and leaves — the bird and insect world uplifted over mine, with its own landscapes,
its own thickets, and paths, and glades, and dwellings; its own bird-ways and insect-delights.
Great boughs crossed my path; great roots based the tree-columns, and mightily clasped the
earth, strong to lift and strong to uphold. It seemed an old, old forest, perfect in forest ways
and pleasures. And when, in the midst of this ecstacy, I remembered that under some close
canopy of leaves, by some giant stem, or in some mossy cave, or beside some leafy well, sat
the lady of the marble, whom my songs had called forth into the outer world, waiting (might it
not be?) to meet and thank her deliverer in a twilight which would veil her confusion, the whole
night became one dream-realm of joy, the central form of which was everywhere present,
although unbeheld. Then, remembering how my songs seemed to have called her from the
marble, piercing through the pearly shroud of alabaster — “Why,” thought I, “should not my
voice reach her now, through the ebon night that inwraps her.” My voice burst into song so
spontaneously that it seemed involuntarily.

Not a sound
But, echoing in me,
Vibrates all around
With a blind delight,
Till it breaks on Thee,
Queen of Night!

Every tree,
O’ershadowing with gloom,
Seems to cover thee
Secret, dark, love-still’d,
In a holy room

Let no moon
Creep up the heaven to-night;
I in darksome noon
Walking hopefully,
Seek my shrouded light —
Grope for thee!

Darker grow
The borders of the dark!Through the branches glow,
From the roof above,
Star and diamond-sparks
Light for love.
Scarcely had the last sounds floated away from the hearing of my own ears, when I
heard instead a low delicious laugh near me. It was not the laugh of one who would not be
heard, but the laugh of one who has just received something long and patiently desired — a
laugh that ends in a low musical moan. I started, and, turning sideways, saw a dim white
figure seated beside an intertwining thicket of smaller trees and underwood.
“It is my white lady!” I said, and flung myself on the ground beside her; striving, through
the gathering darkness, to get a glimpse of the form which had broken its marble prison at my
“It is your white lady!” said the sweetest voice, in reply, sending a thrill of speechless
delight through a heart which all the love-charms of the preceding day and evening had been
tempering for this culminating hour. Yet, if I would have confessed it, there was something
either in the sound of the voice, although it seemed sweetness itself, or else in this yielding
which awaited no gradation of gentle approaches, that did not vibrate harmoniously with the
beat of my inward music. And likewise, when, taking her hand in mine, I drew closer to her,
looking for the beauty of her face, which, indeed, I found too plenteously, a cold shiver ran
through me; but “it is the marble,” I said to myself, and heeded it not.
She withdrew her hand from mine, and after that would scarce allow me to touch her. It
seemed strange, after the fulness of her first greeting, that she could not trust me to come
close to her. Though her words were those of a lover, she kept herself withdrawn as if a mile
of space interposed between us.
“Why did you run away from me when you woke in the cave?” I said.
“Did I?” she returned. “That was very unkind of me; but I did not know better.”
“I wish I could see you. The night is very dark.”
“So it is. Come to my grotto. There is light there.”
“Have you another cave, then?”
“Come and see.”
But she did not move until I rose first, and then she was on her feet before I could offer
my hand to help her. She came close to my side, and conducted me through the wood. But
once or twice, when, involuntarily almost, I was about to put my arm around her as we walked
on through the warm gloom, she sprang away several paces, always keeping her face full
towards me, and then stood looking at me, slightly stooping, in the attitude of one who fears
some half-seen enemy. It was too dark to discern the expression of her face. Then she would
return and walk close beside me again, as if nothing had happened. I thought this strange;
but, besides that I had almost, as I said before, given up the attempt to account for
appearances in Fairy Land, I judged that it would be very unfair to expect from one who had
slept so long and had been so suddenly awakened, a behaviour correspondent to what I might
unreflectingly look for. I knew not what she might have been dreaming about. Besides, it was
possible that, while her words were free, her sense of touch might be exquisitely delicate.
At length, after walking a long way in the woods, we arrived at another thicket, through
the intertexture of which was glimmering a pale rosy light.
“Push aside the branches,” she said, “and make room for us to enter.”
I did as she told me.
“Go in,” she said; “I will follow you.”
I did as she desired, and found myself in a little cave, not very unlike the marble cave. It
was festooned and draperied with all kinds of green that cling to shady rocks. In the furthest
corner, half-hidden in leaves, through which it glowed, mingling lovely shadows between them,
burned a bright rosy flame on a little earthen lamp. The lady glided round by the wall frombehind me, still keeping her face towards me, and seated herself in the furthest corner, with
her back to the lamp, which she hid completely from my view. I then saw indeed a form of
perfect loveliness before me. Almost it seemed as if the light of the rose-lamp shone through
her (for it could not be reflected from her); such a delicate shade of pink seemed to shadow
what in itself must be a marbly whiteness of hue. I discovered afterwards, however, that there
was one thing in it I did not like; which was, that the white part of the eye was tinged with the
same slight roseate hue as the rest of the form. It is strange that I cannot recall her features;
but they, as well as her somewhat girlish figure, left on me simply and only the impression of
intense loveliness. I lay down at her feet, and gazed up into her face as I lay. She began, and
told me a strange tale, which, likewise, I cannot recollect; but which, at every turn and every
pause, somehow or other fixed my eyes and thoughts upon her extreme beauty; seeming
always to culminate in something that had a relation, revealed or hidden, but always operative,
with her own loveliness. I lay entranced. It was a tale which brings back a feeling as of snows
and tempests; torrents and water-sprites; lovers parted for long, and meeting at last; with a
gorgeous summer night to close up the whole. I listened till she and I were blended with the
tale; till she and I were the whole history. And we had met at last in this same cave of
greenery, while the summer night hung round us heavy with love, and the odours that crept
through the silence from the sleeping woods were the only signs of an outer world that
invaded our solitude. What followed I cannot clearly remember. The succeeding horror almost
obliterated it. I woke as a grey dawn stole into the cave. The damsel had disappeared; but in
the shrubbery, at the mouth of the cave, stood a strange horrible object. It looked like an open
coffin set up on one end; only that the part for the head and neck was defined from the
shoulder-part. In fact, it was a rough representation of the human frame, only hollow, as if
made of decaying bark torn from a tree.
It had arms, which were only slightly seamed, down from the shoulder-blade by the
elbow, as if the bark had healed again from the cut of a knife. But the arms moved, and the
hand and the fingers were tearing asunder a long silky tress of hair. The thing turned round —
it had for a face and front those of my enchantress, but now of a pale greenish hue in the light
of the morning, and with dead lustreless eyes. In the horror of the moment, another fear
invaded me. I put my hand to my waist, and found indeed that my girdle of beech-leaves was
gone. Hair again in her hands, she was tearing it fiercely. Once more, as she turned, she
laughed a low laugh, but now full of scorn and derision; and then she said, as if to a
companion with whom she had been talking while I slept, “There he is; you can take him now.”
I lay still, petrified with dismay and fear; for I now saw another figure beside her, which,
although vague and indistinct, I yet recognised but too well. It was the Ash-tree. My beauty
was the Maid of the Alder! and she was giving me, spoiled of my only availing defence, into
the hands of my awful foe. The Ash bent his Gorgon-head, and entered the cave. I could not
stir. He drew near me. His ghoul-eyes and his ghastly face fascinated me. He came stooping,
with the hideous hand outstretched, like a beast of prey. I had given myself up to a death of
unfathomable horror, when, suddenly, and just as he was on the point of seizing me, the dull,
heavy blow of an axe echoed through the wood, followed by others in quick repetition. The
Ash shuddered and groaned, withdrew the outstretched hand, retreated backwards to the
mouth of the cave, then turned and disappeared amongst the trees. The other walking Death
looked at me once, with a careless dislike on her beautifully moulded features; then, heedless
any more to conceal her hollow deformity, turned her frightful back and likewise vanished amid
the green obscurity without. I lay and wept. The Maid of the Alder-tree had befooled me —
nearly slain me — in spite of all the warnings I had received from those who knew my danger.
Chapter 7

Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew sayes,
A little I am hurt, but yett not slaine;
I’le but lye downe and bleede awhile,
And then I’le rise and fight againe.
—Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton.

But I could not remain where I was any longer, though the daylight was hateful to me,
and the thought of the great, innocent, bold sunrise unendurable. Here there was no well to
cool my face, smarting with the bitterness of my own tears. Nor would I have washed in the
well of that grotto, had it flowed clear as the rivers of Paradise. I rose, and feebly left the
sepulchral cave. I took my way I knew not whither, but still towards the sunrise. The birds
were singing; but not for me. All the creatures spoke a language of their own, with which I had
nothing to do, and to which I cared not to find the key any more.
I walked listlessly along. What distressed me most — more even than my own folly —
was the perplexing question, How can beauty and ugliness dwell so near? Even with her
altered complexion and her face of dislike; disenchanted of the belief that clung around her;
known for a living, walking sepulchre, faithless, deluding, traitorous; I felt notwithstanding all
this, that she was beautiful. Upon this I pondered with undiminished perplexity, though not
without some gain. Then I began to make surmises as to the mode of my deliverance; and
concluded that some hero, wandering in search of adventure, had heard how the forest was
infested; and, knowing it was useless to attack the evil thing in person, had assailed with his
battle-axe the body in which he dwelt, and on which he was dependent for his power of
mischief in the wood. “Very likely,” I thought, “the repentant-knight, who warned me of the evil
which has befallen me, was busy retrieving his lost honour, while I was sinking into the same
sorrow with himself; and, hearing of the dangerous and mysterious being, arrived at his tree in
time to save me from being dragged to its roots, and buried like carrion, to nourish him for yet
deeper insatiableness.” I found afterwards that my conjecture was correct. I wondered how he
had fared when his blows recalled the Ash himself, and that too I learned afterwards.
I walked on the whole day, with intervals of rest, but without food; for I could not have
eaten, had any been offered me; till, in the afternoon, I seemed to approach the outskirts of
the forest, and at length arrived at a farm-house. An unspeakable joy arose in my heart at
beholding an abode of human beings once more, and I hastened up to the door, and knocked.
A kind-looking, matronly woman, still handsome, made her appearance; who, as soon as she
saw me, said kindly, “Ah, my poor boy, you have come from the wood! Were you in it last
I should have ill endured, the day before, to be called boy; but now the motherly kindness
of the word went to my heart; and, like a boy indeed, I burst into tears. She soothed me right
gently; and, leading me into a room, made me lie down on a settle, while she went to find me
some refreshment. She soon returned with food, but I could not eat. She almost compelled
me to swallow some wine, when I revived sufficiently to be able to answer some of her
questions. I told her the whole story.
“It is just as I feared,” she said; “but you are now for the night beyond the reach of any of
these dreadful creatures. It is no wonder they could delude a child like you. But I must beg
you, when my husband comes in, not to say a word about these things; for he thinks me even
half crazy for believing anything of the sort. But I must believe my senses, as he cannot
believe beyond his, which give him no intimations of this kind. I think he could spend the whole
of Midsummer-eve in the wood and come back with the report that he saw nothing worse than
himself. Indeed, good man, he would hardly find anything better than himself, if he had sevenmore senses given him.”
“But tell me how it is that she could be so beautiful without any heart at all — without any
place even for a heart to live in.”
“I cannot quite tell,” she said; “but I am sure she would not look so beautiful if she did not
take means to make herself look more beautiful than she is. And then, you know, you began
by being in love with her before you saw her beauty, mistaking her for the lady of the marble
— another kind altogether, I should think. But the chief thing that makes her beautiful is this:
that, although she loves no man, she loves the love of any man; and when she finds one in
her power, her desire to bewitch him and gain his love (not for the sake of his love either, but
that she may be conscious anew of her own beauty, through the admiration he manifests),
makes her very lovely — with a self-destructive beauty, though; for it is that which is
constantly wearing her away within, till, at last, the decay will reach her face, and her whole
front, when all the lovely mask of nothing will fall to pieces, and she be vanished for ever. So a
wise man, whom she met in the wood some years ago, and who, I think, for all his wisdom,
fared no better than you, told me, when, like you, he spent the next night here, and recounted
to me his adventures.”
I thanked her very warmly for her solution, though it was but partial; wondering much that
in her, as in woman I met on my first entering the forest, there should be such superiority to
her apparent condition. Here she left me to take some rest; though, indeed, I was too much
agitated to rest in any other way than by simply ceasing to move.
In half an hour, I heard a heavy step approach and enter the house. A jolly voice, whose
slight huskiness appeared to proceed from overmuch laughter, called out “Betsy, the pigs’
trough is quite empty, and that is a pity. Let them swill, lass! They’re of no use but to get fat.
Ha! ha! ha! Gluttony is not forbidden in their commandments. Ha! ha! ha!” The very voice,
kind and jovial, seemed to disrobe the room of the strange look which all new places wear —
to disenchant it out of the realm of the ideal into that of the actual. It began to look as if I had
known every corner of it for twenty years; and when, soon after, the dame came and fetched
me to partake of their early supper, the grasp of his great hand, and the harvest-moon of his
benevolent face, which was needed to light up the rotundity of the globe beneath it, produced
such a reaction in me, that, for a moment, I could hardly believe that there was a Fairy Land;
and that all I had passed through since I left home, had not been the wandering dream of a
diseased imagination, operating on a too mobile frame, not merely causing me indeed to
travel, but peopling for me with vague phantoms the regions through which my actual steps
had led me. But the next moment my eye fell upon a little girl who was sitting in the
chimneycorner, with a little book open on her knee, from which she had apparently just looked up to fix
great inquiring eyes upon me. I believed in Fairy Land again. She went on with her reading, as
soon as she saw that I observed her looking at me. I went near, and peeping over her
shoulder, saw that she was reading The History of Graciosa and Percinet.
“Very improving book, sir,” remarked the old farmer, with a good-humoured laugh. “We
are in the very hottest corner of Fairy Land here. Ha! ha! Stormy night, last night, sir.”
“Was it, indeed?” I rejoined. “It was not so with me. A lovelier night I never saw.” “Indeed!
Where were you last night?”
“I spent it in the forest. I had lost my way.”
“Ah! then, perhaps, you will be able to convince my good woman, that there is nothing
very remarkable about the forest; for, to tell the truth, it bears but a bad name in these parts. I
dare say you saw nothing worse than yourself there?”
“I hope I did,” was my inward reply; but, for an audible one, I contented myself with
saying, “Why, I certainly did see some appearances I could hardly account for; but that is
nothing to be wondered at in an unknown wild forest, and with the uncertain light of the moon
alone to go by.”
“Very true! you speak like a sensible man, sir. We have but few sensible folks roundabout us. Now, you would hardly credit it, but my wife believes every fairy-tale that ever was
written. I cannot account for it. She is a most sensible woman in everything else.”
“But should not that make you treat her belief with something of respect, though you
cannot share in it yourself?”
“Yes, that is all very well in theory; but when you come to live every day in the midst of
absurdity, it is far less easy to behave respectfully to it. Why, my wife actually believes the
story of the ‘White Cat.’ You know it, I dare say.”
“I read all these tales when a child, and know that one especially well.”
“But, father,” interposed the little girl in the chimney-corner, “you know quite well that
mother is descended from that very princess who was changed by the wicked fairy into a
white cat. Mother has told me so a many times, and you ought to believe everything she
“I can easily believe that,” rejoined the farmer, with another fit of laughter; “for, the other
night, a mouse came gnawing and scratching beneath the floor, and would not let us go to
sleep. Your mother sprang out of bed, and going as near it as she could, mewed so infernally
like a great cat, that the noise ceased instantly. I believe the poor mouse died of the fright, for
we have never heard it again. Ha! ha! ha!”
The son, an ill-looking youth, who had entered during the conversation, joined in his
father’s laugh; but his laugh was very different from the old man’s: it was polluted with a
sneer. I watched him, and saw that, as soon as it was over, he looked scared, as if he
dreaded some evil consequences to follow his presumption. The woman stood near, waiting till
we should seat ourselves at the table, and listening to it all with an amused air, which had
something in it of the look with which one listens to the sententious remarks of a pompous
child. We sat down to supper, and I ate heartily. My bygone distresses began already to look
far off.
“In what direction are you going?” asked the old man.
“Eastward,” I replied; nor could I have given a more definite answer. “Does the forest
extend much further in that direction?”
“Oh! for miles and miles; I do not know how far. For although I have lived on the borders
of it all my life, I have been too busy to make journeys of discovery into it. Nor do I see what I
could discover. It is only trees and trees, till one is sick of them. By the way, if you follow the
eastward track from here, you will pass close to what the children say is the very house of the
ogre that Hop-o’-my-Thumb visited, and ate his little daughters with the crowns of gold.”
“Oh, father! ate his little daughters! No; he only changed their gold crowns for nightcaps;
and the great long-toothed ogre killed them in mistake; but I do not think even he ate them,
for you know they were his own little ogresses.”
“Well, well, child; you know all about it a great deal better than I do. However, the house
has, of course, in such a foolish neighbourhood as this, a bad enough name; and I must
confess there is a woman living in it, with teeth long enough, and white enough too, for the
lineal descendant of the greatest ogre that ever was made. I think you had better not go near
In such talk as this the night wore on. When supper was finished, which lasted some
time, my hostess conducted me to my chamber.
“If you had not had enough of it already,” she said, “I would have put you in another
room, which looks towards the forest; and where you would most likely have seen something
more of its inhabitants. For they frequently pass the window, and even enter the room
sometimes. Strange creatures spend whole nights in it, at certain seasons of the year. I am
used to it, and do not mind it. No more does my little girl, who sleeps in it always. But this
room looks southward towards the open country, and they never show themselves here; at
least I never saw any.”
I was somewhat sorry not to gather any experience that I might have, of the inhabitantsof Fairy Land; but the effect of the farmer’s company, and of my own later adventures, was
such, that I chose rather an undisturbed night in my more human quarters; which, with their
clean white curtains and white linen, were very inviting to my weariness.
In the morning I awoke refreshed, after a profound and dreamless sleep. The sun was
high, when I looked out of the window, shining over a wide, undulating, cultivated country.
Various garden-vegetables were growing beneath my window. Everything was radiant with
clear sunlight. The dew-drops were sparkling their busiest; the cows in a near-by field were
eating as if they had not been at it all day yesterday; the maids were singing at their work as
they passed to and fro between the out-houses: I did not believe in Fairy Land. I went down,
and found the family already at breakfast. But before I entered the room where they sat, the
little girl came to me, and looked up in my face, as though she wanted to say something to
me. I stooped towards her; she put her arms round my neck, and her mouth to my ear, and
whispered —
“A white lady has been flitting about the house all night.”
“No whispering behind doors!” cried the farmer; and we entered together. “Well, how
have you slept? No bogies, eh?”
“Not one, thank you; I slept uncommonly well.”
“I am glad to hear it. Come and breakfast.”
After breakfast, the farmer and his son went out; and I was left alone with the mother
and daughter.
“When I looked out of the window this morning,” I said, “I felt almost certain that Fairy
Land was all a delusion of my brain; but whenever I come near you or your little daughter, I
feel differently. Yet I could persuade myself, after my last adventures, to go back, and have
nothing more to do with such strange beings.”
“How will you go back?” said the woman.
“Nay, that I do not know.”
“Because I have heard, that, for those who enter Fairy Land, there is no way of going
back. They must go on, and go through it. How, I do not in the least know.”
“That is quite the impression on my own mind. Something compels me to go on, as if my
only path was onward, but I feel less inclined this morning to continue my adventures.”
“Will you come and see my little child’s room? She sleeps in the one I told you of, looking
towards the forest.”
“Willingly,” I said.
So we went together, the little girl running before to open the door for us. It was a large
room, full of old-fashioned furniture, that seemed to have once belonged to some great
The window was built with a low arch, and filled with lozenge-shaped panes. The wall was
very thick, and built of solid stone. I could see that part of the house had been erected against
the remains of some old castle or abbey, or other great building; the fallen stones of which
had probably served to complete it. But as soon as I looked out of the window, a gush of
wonderment and longing flowed over my soul like the tide of a great sea. Fairy Land lay
before me, and drew me towards it with an irresistible attraction. The trees bathed their great
heads in the waves of the morning, while their roots were planted deep in gloom; save where
on the borders the sunshine broke against their stems, or swept in long streams through their
avenues, washing with brighter hue all the leaves over which it flowed; revealing the rich
brown of the decayed leaves and fallen pine-cones, and the delicate greens of the long
grasses and tiny forests of moss that covered the channel over which it passed in motionless
rivers of light. I turned hurriedly to bid my hostess farewell without further delay. She smiled at
my haste, but with an anxious look.
“You had better not go near the house of the ogre, I think. My son will show you into
another path, which will join the first beyond it.”Not wishing to be headstrong or too confident any more, I agreed; and having taken
leave of my kind entertainers, went into the wood, accompanied by the youth. He scarcely
spoke as we went along; but he led me through the trees till we struck upon a path. He told
me to follow it, and, with a muttered “good morning” left me.
Chapter 8

I am a part of the part, which at first was the whole.
—Goethe, Mephistopheles in Faust.

My spirits rose as I went deeper; into the forest; but I could not regain my former
elasticity of mind. I found cheerfulness to be like life itself — not to be created by any
argument. Afterwards I learned, that the best way to manage some kinds of pain filled
thoughts, is to dare them to do their worst; to let them lie and gnaw at your heart till they are
tired; and you find you still have a residue of life they cannot kill. So, better and worse, I went
on, till I came to a little clearing in the forest. In the middle of this clearing stood a long, low
hut, built with one end against a single tall cypress, which rose like a spire to the building. A
vague misgiving crossed my mind when I saw it; but I must needs go closer, and look through
a little half-open door, near the opposite end from the cypress. Window I saw none. On
peeping in, and looking towards the further end, I saw a lamp burning, with a dim, reddish
flame, and the head of a woman, bent downwards, as if reading by its light. I could see
nothing more for a few moments. At length, as my eyes got used to the dimness of the place,
I saw that the part of the rude building near me was used for household purposes; for several
rough utensils lay here and there, and a bed stood in the corner.
An irresistible attraction caused me to enter. The woman never raised her face, the
upper part of which alone I could see distinctly; but, as soon as I stepped within the threshold,
she began to read aloud, in a low and not altogether unpleasing voice, from an ancient little
volume which she held open with one hand on the table upon which stood the lamp. What she
read was something like this:
“So, then, as darkness had no beginning, neither will it ever have an end. So, then, is it
eternal. The negation of aught else, is its affirmation. Where the light cannot come, there
abideth the darkness. The light doth but hollow a mine out of the infinite extension of the
darkness. And ever upon the steps of the light treadeth the darkness; yea, springeth in
fountains and wells amidst it, from the secret channels of its mighty sea. Truly, man is but a
passing flame, moving unquietly amid the surrounding rest of night; without which he yet could
not be, and whereof he is in part compounded.”
As I drew nearer, and she read on, she moved a little to turn a leaf of the dark old
volume, and I saw that her face was sallow and slightly forbidding. Her forehead was high,
and her black eyes repressedly quiet. But she took no notice of me. This end of the cottage, if
cottage it could be called, was destitute of furniture, except the table with the lamp, and the
chair on which the woman sat. In one corner was a door, apparently of a cupboard in the wall,
but which might lead to a room beyond. Still the irresistible desire which had made me enter
the building urged me: I must open that door, and see what was beyond it. I approached, and
laid my hand on the rude latch. Then the woman spoke, but without lifting her head or looking
at me: “You had better not open that door.” This was uttered quite quietly; and she went on
with her reading, partly in silence, partly aloud; but both modes seemed equally intended for
herself alone. The prohibition, however, only increased my desire to see; and as she took no
further notice, I gently opened the door to its full width, and looked in. At first, I saw nothing
worthy of attention. It seemed a common closet, with shelves on each hand, on which stood
various little necessaries for the humble uses of a cottage. In one corner stood one or two
brooms, in another a hatchet and other common tools; showing that it was in use every hour
of the day for household purposes. But, as I looked, I saw that there were no shelves at the
back, and that an empty space went in further; its termination appearing to be a faintly
glimmering wall or curtain, somewhat less, however, than the width and height of the doorway
where I stood. But, as I continued looking, for a few seconds, towards this faintly luminouslimit, my eyes came into true relation with their object. All at once, with such a shiver as when
one is suddenly conscious of the presence of another in a room where he has, for hours,
considered himself alone, I saw that the seemingly luminous extremity was a sky, as of night,
beheld through the long perspective of a narrow, dark passage, through what, or built of what,
I could not tell. As I gazed, I clearly discerned two or three stars glimmering faintly in the
distant blue. But, suddenly, and as if it had been running fast from a far distance for this very
point, and had turned the corner without abating its swiftness, a dark figure sped into and
along the passage from the blue opening at the remote end. I started back and shuddered,
but kept looking, for I could not help it. On and on it came, with a speedy approach but
delayed arrival; till, at last, through the many gradations of approach, it seemed to come
within the sphere of myself, rushed up to me, and passed me into the cottage. All I could tell
of its appearance was, that it seemed to be a dark human figure. Its motion was entirely
noiseless, and might be called a gliding, were it not that it appeared that of a runner, but with
ghostly feet. I had moved back yet a little to let him pass me, and looked round after him
instantly. I could not see him.
“Where is he?” I said, in some alarm, to the woman, who still sat reading.
“There, on the floor, behind you,” she said, pointing with her arm half-outstretched, but
not lifting her eyes. I turned and looked, but saw nothing. Then with a feeling that there was
yet something behind me, I looked round over my shoulder; and there, on the ground, lay a
black shadow, the size of a man. It was so dark, that I could see it in the dim light of the lamp,
which shone full upon it, apparently without thinning at all the intensity of its hue.
“I told you,” said the woman, “you had better not look into that closet.”
“What is it?” I said, with a growing sense of horror.
“It is only your shadow that has found you,” she replied. “Everybody’s shadow is ranging
up and down looking for him. I believe you call it by a different name in your world: yours has
found you, as every person’s is almost certain to do who looks into that closet, especially after
meeting one in the forest, whom I dare say you have met.”
Here, for the first time, she lifted her head, and looked full at me: her mouth was full of
long, white, shining teeth; and I knew that I was in the house of the ogre. I could not speak,
but turned and left the house, with the shadow at my heels. “A nice sort of valet to have,” I
said to myself bitterly, as I stepped into the sunshine, and, looking over my shoulder, saw that
it lay yet blacker in the full blaze of the sunlight. Indeed, only when I stood between it and the
sun, was the blackness at all diminished. I was so bewildered — stunned — both by the event
itself and its suddenness, that I could not at all realise to myself what it would be to have such
a constant and strange attendance; but with a dim conviction that my present dislike would
soon grow to loathing, I took my dreary way through the wood.
Chapter 9

O lady! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does nature live:
Ours is her wedding garments ours her shrorwd!

Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth,
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud,
Enveloping the Earth —
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!

From this time, until I arrived at the palace of Fairy Land, I can attempt no consecutive
account of my wanderings and adventures. Everything, henceforward, existed for me in its
relation to my attendant. What influence he exercised upon everything into contact with which
I was brought, may be understood from a few detached instances. To begin with this very day
on which he first joined me: after I had walked heartlessly along for two or three hours, I was
very weary, and lay down to rest in a most delightful part of the forest, carpeted with wild
flowers. I lay for half an hour in a dull repose, and then got up to pursue my way. The flowers
on the spot where I had lain were crushed to the earth: but I saw that they would soon lift their
heads and rejoice again in the sun and air. Not so those on which my shadow had lain. The
very outline of it could be traced in the withered lifeless grass, and the scorched and shrivelled
flowers which stood there, dead, and hopeless of any resurrection. I shuddered, and hastened
away with sad forebodings.
In a few days, I had reason to dread an extension of its baleful influences from the fact,
that it was no longer confined to one position in regard to myself. Hitherto, when seized with
an irresistible desire to look on my evil demon (which longing would unaccountably seize me at
any moment, returning at longer or shorter intervals, sometimes every minute), I had to turn
my head backwards, and look over my shoulder; in which position, as long as I could retain it,
I was fascinated. But one day, having come out on a clear grassy hill, which commanded a
glorious prospect, though of what I cannot now tell, my shadow moved round, and came in
front of me. And, presently, a new manifestation increased my distress. For it began to
coruscate, and shoot out on all sides a radiation of dim shadow. These rays of gloom issued
from the central shadow as from a black sun, lengthening and shortening with continual
change. But wherever a ray struck, that part of earth, or sea, or sky, became void, and
desert, and sad to my heart. On this, the first development of its new power, one ray shot out
beyond the rest, seeming to lengthen infinitely, until it smote the great sun on the face, which
withered and darkened beneath the blow. I turned away and went on. The shadow retreated
to its former position; and when I looked again, it had drawn in all its spears of darkness, and
followed like a dog at my heels.
Once, as I passed by a cottage, there came out a lovely fairy child, with two wondrous
toys, one in each hand. The one was the tube through which the fairy-gifted poet looks when
he beholds the same thing everywhere; the other that through which he looks when he
combines into new forms of loveliness those images of beauty which his own choice has
gathered from all regions wherein he has travelled. Round the child’s head was an aureole of
emanating rays. As I looked at him in wonder and delight, round crept from behind me the
something dark, and the child stood in my shadow. Straightway he was a commonplace boy,
with a rough broad-brimmed straw hat, through which brim the sun shone from behind. Thetoys he carried were a multiplying-glass and a kaleidoscope. I sighed and departed.
One evening, as a great silent flood of western gold flowed through an avenue in the
woods, down the stream, just as when I saw him first, came the sad knight, riding on his
chestnut steed.
But his armour did not shine half so red as when I saw him first.
Many a blow of mighty sword and axe, turned aside by the strength of his mail, and
glancing adown the surface, had swept from its path the fretted rust, and the glorious steel
had answered the kindly blow with the thanks of returning light. These streaks and spots
made his armour look like the floor of a forest in the sunlight. His forehead was higher than
before, for the contracting wrinkles were nearly gone; and the sadness that remained on his
face was the sadness of a dewy summer twilight, not that of a frosty autumn morn. He, too,
had met the Alder-maiden as I, but he had plunged into the torrent of mighty deeds, and the
stain was nearly washed away. No shadow followed him. He had not entered the dark house;
he had not had time to open the closet door. “Will he ever look in?” I said to myself. “Must his
shadow find him some day?” But I could not answer my own questions.
We travelled together for two days, and I began to love him. It was plain that he
suspected my story in some degree; and I saw him once or twice looking curiously and
anxiously at my attendant gloom, which all this time had remained very obsequiously behind
me; but I offered no explanation, and he asked none. Shame at my neglect of his warning,
and a horror which shrunk from even alluding to its cause, kept me silent; till, on the evening
of the second day, some noble words from my companion roused all my heart; and I was at
the point of falling on his neck, and telling him the whole story; seeking, if not for helpful
advice, for of that I was hopeless, yet for the comfort of sympathy — when round slid the
shadow and inwrapt my friend; and I could not trust him.
The glory of his brow vanished; the light of his eye grew cold; and I held my peace. The
next morning we parted.
But the most dreadful thing of all was, that I now began to feel something like satisfaction
in the presence of the shadow. I began to be rather vain of my attendant, saying to myself, “In
a land like this, with so many illusions everywhere, I need his aid to disenchant the things
around me. He does away with all appearances, and shows me things in their true colour and
form. And I am not one to be fooled with the vanities of the common crowd. I will not see
beauty where there is none. I will dare to behold things as they are. And if I live in a waste
instead of a paradise, I will live knowing where I live.” But of this a certain exercise of his
power which soon followed quite cured me, turning my feelings towards him once more into
loathing and distrust. It was thus:
One bright noon, a little maiden joined me, coming through the wood in a direction at
right angles to my path. She came along singing and dancing, happy as a child, though she
seemed almost a woman. In her hands — now in one, now in another — she carried a small
globe, bright and clear as the purest crystal. This seemed at once her plaything and her
greatest treasure. At one moment, you would have thought her utterly careless of it, and at
another, overwhelmed with anxiety for its safety. But I believe she was taking care of it all the
time, perhaps not least when least occupied about it. She stopped by me with a smile, and
bade me good day with the sweetest voice. I felt a wonderful liking to the child — for she
produced on me more the impression of a child, though my understanding told me differently.
We talked a little, and then walked on together in the direction I had been pursuing. I asked
her about the globe she carried, but getting no definite answer, I held out my hand to take it.
She drew back, and said, but smiling almost invitingly the while, “You must not touch it;” —
then, after a moment’s pause — “Or if you do, it must be very gently.” I touched it with a
finger. A slight vibratory motion arose in it, accompanied, or perhaps manifested, by a faint
sweet sound. I touched it again, and the sound increased. I touched it the third time: a tiny
torrent of harmony rolled out of the little globe. She would not let me touch it any more.We travelled on together all that day. She left me when twilight came on; but next day, at
noon, she met me as before, and again we travelled till evening. The third day she came once
more at noon, and we walked on together. Now, though we had talked about a great many
things connected with Fairy Land, and the life she had led hitherto, I had never been able to
learn anything about the globe. This day, however, as we went on, the shadow glided round
and inwrapt the maiden. It could not change her. But my desire to know about the globe,
which in his gloom began to waver as with an inward light, and to shoot out flashes of
manycoloured flame, grew irresistible. I put out both my hands and laid hold of it. It began to sound
as before. The sound rapidly increased, till it grew a low tempest of harmony, and the globe
trembled, and quivered, and throbbed between my hands. I had not the heart to pull it away
from the maiden, though I held it in spite of her attempts to take it from me; yes, I shame to
say, in spite of her prayers, and, at last, her tears. The music went on growing in, intensity
and complication of tones, and the globe vibrated and heaved; till at last it burst in our hands,
and a black vapour broke upwards from out of it; then turned, as if blown sideways, and
enveloped the maiden, hiding even the shadow in its blackness. She held fast the fragments,
which I abandoned, and fled from me into the forest in the direction whence she had come,
wailing like a child, and crying, “You have broken my globe; my globe is broken — my globe is
broken!” I followed her, in the hope of comforting her; but had not pursued her far, before a
sudden cold gust of wind bowed the tree-tops above us, and swept through their stems
around us; a great cloud overspread the day, and a fierce tempest came on, in which I lost
sight of her. It lies heavy on my heart to this hour. At night, ere I fall asleep, often, whatever I
may be thinking about, I suddenly hear her voice, crying out, “You have broken my globe; my
globe is broken; ah, my globe!”
Here I will mention one more strange thing; but whether this peculiarity was owing to my
shadow at all, I am not able to assure myself. I came to a village, the inhabitants of which
could not at first sight be distinguished from the dwellers in our land. They rather avoided than
sought my company, though they were very pleasant when I addressed them. But at last I
observed, that whenever I came within a certain distance of any one of them, which distance,
however, varied with different individuals, the whole appearance of the person began to
change; and this change increased in degree as I approached. When I receded to the former
distance, the former appearance was restored. The nature of the change was grotesque,
following no fixed rule. The nearest resemblance to it that I know, is the distortion produced in
your countenance when you look at it as reflected in a concave or convex surface — say,
either side of a bright spoon. Of this phenomenon I first became aware in rather a ludicrous
way. My host’s daughter was a very pleasant pretty girl, who made herself more agreeable to
me than most of those about me. For some days my companion-shadow had been less
obtrusive than usual; and such was the reaction of spirits occasioned by the simple mitigation
of torment, that, although I had cause enough besides to be gloomy, I felt light and
comparatively happy. My impression is, that she was quite aware of the law of appearances
that existed between the people of the place and myself, and had resolved to amuse herself
at my expense; for one evening, after some jesting and raillery, she, somehow or other,
provoked me to attempt to kiss her. But she was well defended from any assault of the kind.
Her countenance became, of a sudden, absurdly hideous; the pretty mouth was elongated
and otherwise amplified sufficiently to have allowed of six simultaneous kisses. I started back
in bewildered dismay; she burst into the merriest fit of laughter, and ran from the room. I soon
found that the same undefinable law of change operated between me and all the other
villagers; and that, to feel I was in pleasant company, it was absolutely necessary for me to
discover and observe the right focal distance between myself and each one with whom I had
to do. This done, all went pleasantly enough. Whether, when I happened to neglect this
precaution, I presented to them an equally ridiculous appearance, I did not ascertain; but I
presume that the alteration was common to the approximating parties. I was likewise unableto determine whether I was a necessary party to the production of this strange transformation,
or whether it took place as well, under the given circumstances, between the inhabitants
Chapter 10

From Eden’s bowers the full-fed rivers flow,
To guide the outcasts to the land of woe:
Our Earth one little toiling streamlet yields.
To guide the wanderers to the happy fields.
After leaving this village, where I had rested for nearly a week, I travelled through a
desert region of dry sand and glittering rocks, peopled principally by goblin-fairies. When I first
entered their domains, and, indeed, whenever I fell in with another tribe of them, they began
mocking me with offered handfuls of gold and jewels, making hideous grimaces at me, and
performing the most antic homage, as if they thought I expected reverence, and meant to
humour me like a maniac. But ever, as soon as one cast his eyes on the shadow behind me,
he made a wry face, partly of pity, partly of contempt, and looked ashamed, as if he had been
caught doing something inhuman; then, throwing down his handful of gold, and ceasing all his
grimaces, he stood aside to let me pass in peace, and made signs to his companions to do
the like. I had no inclination to observe them much, for the shadow was in my heart as well as
at my heels. I walked listlessly and almost hopelessly along, till I arrived one day at a small
spring; which, bursting cool from the heart of a sun-heated rock, flowed somewhat
southwards from the direction I had been taking. I drank of this spring, and found myself
wonderfully refreshed. A kind of love to the cheerful little stream arose in my heart. It was
born in a desert; but it seemed to say to itself, “I will flow, and sing, and lave my banks, till I
make my desert a paradise.” I thought I could not do better than follow it, and see what it
made of it. So down with the stream I went, over rocky lands, burning with sunbeams. But the
rivulet flowed not far, before a few blades of grass appeared on its banks, and then, here and
there, a stunted bush. Sometimes it disappeared altogether under ground; and after I had
wandered some distance, as near as I could guess, in the direction it seemed to take, I would
suddenly hear it again, singing, sometimes far away to my right or left, amongst new rocks,
over which it made new cataracts of watery melodies. The verdure on its banks increased as
it flowed; other streams joined it; and at last, after many days’ travel, I found myself, one
gorgeous summer evening, resting by the side of a broad river, with a glorious horse-chestnut
tree towering above me, and dropping its blossoms, milk-white and rosy-red, all about me. As
I sat, a gush of joy sprang forth in my heart, and over flowed at my eyes.
Through my tears, the whole landscape glimmered in such bewildering loveliness, that I
felt as if I were entering Fairy Land for the first time, and some loving hand were waiting to
cool my head, and a loving word to warm my heart. Roses, wild roses, everywhere! So
plentiful were they, they not only perfumed the air, they seemed to dye it a faint rose-hue. The
colour floated abroad with the scent, and clomb, and spread, until the whole west blushed and
glowed with the gathered incense of roses. And my heart fainted with longing in my bosom.
Could I but see the Spirit of the Earth, as I saw once the in dwelling woman of the
beechtree, and my beauty of the pale marble, I should be content. Content! — Oh, how gladly would
I die of the light of her eyes! Yea, I would cease to be, if that would bring me one word of love
from the one mouth. The twilight sank around, and infolded me with sleep. I slept as I had not
slept for months. I did not awake till late in the morning; when, refreshed in body and mind, I
rose as from the death that wipes out the sadness of life, and then dies itself in the new
morrow. Again I followed the stream; now climbing a steep rocky bank that hemmed it in; now
wading through long grasses and wild flowers in its path; now through meadows; and anon
through woods that crowded down to the very lip of the water.
At length, in a nook of the river, gloomy with the weight of overhanging foliage, and still
and deep as a soul in which the torrent eddies of pain have hollowed a great gulf, and then,
subsiding in violence, have left it full of a motionless, fathomless sorrow — I saw a little boatlying. So still was the water here, that the boat needed no fastening. It lay as if some one had
just stepped ashore, and would in a moment return. But as there were no signs of presence,
and no track through the thick bushes; and, moreover, as I was in Fairy Land where one does
very much as he pleases, I forced my way to the brink, stepped into the boat, pushed it, with
the help of the tree-branches, out into the stream, lay down in the bottom, and let my boat
and me float whither the stream would carry us. I seemed to lose myself in the great flow of
sky above me unbroken in its infinitude, except when now and then, coming nearer the shore
at a bend in the river, a tree would sweep its mighty head silently above mine, and glide away
back into the past, never more to fling its shadow over me. I fell asleep in this cradle, in which
mother Nature was rocking her weary child; and while I slept, the sun slept not, but went
round his arched way. When I awoke, he slept in the waters, and I went on my silent path
beneath a round silvery moon. And a pale moon looked up from the floor of the great blue
cave that lay in the abysmal silence beneath.
Why are all reflections lovelier than what we call the reality? — not so grand or so strong,
it may be, but always lovelier? Fair as is the gliding sloop on the shining sea, the wavering,
trembling, unresting sail below is fairer still. Yea, the reflecting ocean itself, reflected in the
mirror, has a wondrousness about its waters that somewhat vanishes when I turn towards
itself. All mirrors are magic mirrors. The commonest room is a room in a poem when I turn to
the glass. (And this reminds me, while I write, of a strange story which I read in the fairy
palace, and of which I will try to make a feeble memorial in its place.) In whatever way it may
be accounted for, of one thing we may be sure, that this feeling is no cheat; for there is no
cheating in nature and the simple unsought feelings of the soul. There must be a truth
involved in it, though we may but in part lay hold of the meaning. Even the memories of past
pain are beautiful; and past delights, though beheld only through clefts in the grey clouds of
sorrow, are lovely as Fairy Land. But how have I wandered into the deeper fairyland of the
soul, while as yet I only float towards the fairy palace of Fairy Land! The moon, which is the
lovelier memory or reflex of the down-gone sun, the joyous day seen in the faint mirror of the
brooding night, had rapt me away.
I sat up in the boat. Gigantic forest trees were about me; through which, like a silver
snake, twisted and twined the great river. The little waves, when I moved in the boat, heaved
and fell with a plash as of molten silver, breaking the image of the moon into a thousand
morsels, fusing again into one, as the ripples of laughter die into the still face of joy. The
sleeping woods, in undefined massiveness; the water that flowed in its sleep; and, above all,
the enchantress moon, which had cast them all, with her pale eye, into the charmed slumber,
sank into my soul, and I felt as if I had died in a dream, and should never more awake.
From this I was partly aroused by a glimmering of white, that, through the trees on the
left, vaguely crossed my vision, as I gazed upwards. But the trees again hid the object; and at
the moment, some strange melodious bird took up its song, and sang, not an ordinary
birdsong, with constant repetitions of the same melody, but what sounded like a continuous strain,
in which one thought was expressed, deepening in intensity as evolved in progress. It
sounded like a welcome already overshadowed with the coming farewell. As in all sweetest
music, a tinge of sadness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of the pleasures
even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows. Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths,
although deepest truth must be deepest joy. Cometh white-robed Sorrow, stooping and wan,
and flingeth wide the doors she may not enter. Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love.
As the song concluded the stream bore my little boat with a gentle sweep round a bend
of the river; and lo! on a broad lawn, which rose from the water’s edge with a long green slope
to a clear elevation from which the trees receded on all sides, stood a stately palace
glimmering ghostly in the moonshine: it seemed to be built throughout of the whitest marble.
There was no reflection of moonlight from windows — there seemed to be none; so there was
no cold glitter; only, as I said, a ghostly shimmer. Numberless shadows tempered the shine,from column and balcony and tower. For everywhere galleries ran along the face of the
buildings; wings were extended in many directions; and numberless openings, through which
the moonbeams vanished into the interior, and which served both for doors and windows, had
their separate balconies in front, communicating with a common gallery that rose on its own
pillars. Of course, I did not discover all this from the river, and in the moonlight. But, though I
was there for many days, I did not succeed in mastering the inner topography of the building,
so extensive and complicated was it.
Here I wished to land, but the boat had no oars on board. However, I found that a plank,
serving for a seat, was unfastened, and with that I brought the boat to the bank and
scrambled on shore. Deep soft turf sank beneath my feet, as I went up the ascent towards
the palace.
When I reached it, I saw that it stood on a great platform of marble, with an ascent, by
broad stairs of the same, all round it. Arrived on the platform, I found there was an extensive
outlook over the forest, which, however, was rather veiled than revealed by the moonlight.
Entering by a wide gateway, but without gates, into an inner court, surrounded on all
sides by great marble pillars supporting galleries above, I saw a large fountain of porphyry in
the middle, throwing up a lofty column of water, which fell, with a noise as of the fusion of all
sweet sounds, into a basin beneath; overflowing which, it ran into a single channel towards the
interior of the building. Although the moon was by this time so low in the west, that not a ray
of her light fell into the court, over the height of the surrounding buildings; yet was the court
lighted by a second reflex from the sun of other lands. For the top of the column of water, just
as it spread to fall, caught the moonbeams, and like a great pale lamp, hung high in the night
air, threw a dim memory of light (as it were) over the court below. This court was paved in
diamonds of white and red marble. According to my custom since I entered Fairy Land, of
taking for a guide whatever I first found moving in any direction, I followed the stream from the
basin of the fountain. It led me to a great open door, beneath the ascending steps of which it
ran through a low arch and disappeared. Entering here, I found myself in a great hall,
surrounded with white pillars, and paved with black and white. This I could see by the
moonlight, which, from the other side, streamed through open windows into the hall.
Its height I could not distinctly see. As soon as I entered, I had the feeling so common to
me in the woods, that there were others there besides myself, though I could see no one, and
heard no sound to indicate a presence. Since my visit to the Church of Darkness, my power of
seeing the fairies of the higher orders had gradually diminished, until it had almost ceased. But
I could frequently believe in their presence while unable to see them. Still, although I had
company, and doubtless of a safe kind, it seemed rather dreary to spend the night in an
empty marble hall, however beautiful, especially as the moon was near the going down, and it
would soon be dark. So I began at the place where I entered, and walked round the hall,
looking for some door or passage that might lead me to a more hospitable chamber. As I
walked, I was deliciously haunted with the feeling that behind some one of the seemingly
innumerable pillars, one who loved me was waiting for me. Then I thought she was following
me from pillar to pillar as I went along; but no arms came out of the faint moonlight, and no
sigh assured me of her presence.
At length I came to an open corridor, into which I turned; notwithstanding that, in doing
so, I left the light behind. Along this I walked with outstretched hands, groping my way, till,
arriving at another corridor, which seemed to strike off at right angles to that in which I was, I
saw at the end a faintly glimmering light, too pale even for moonshine, resembling rather a
stray phosphorescence. However, where everything was white, a little light went a great way.
So I walked on to the end, and a long corridor it was. When I came up to the light, I found that
it proceeded from what looked like silver letters upon a door of ebony; and, to my surprise
even in the home of wonder itself, the letters formed the words, The Chamber of Sir Anodos.
Although I had as yet no right to the honours of a knight, I ventured to conclude that thechamber was indeed intended for me; and, opening the door without hesitation, I entered. Any
doubt as to whether I was right in so doing, was soon dispelled. What to my dark eyes
seemed a blaze of light, burst upon me. A fire of large pieces of some sweet-scented wood,
supported by dogs of silver, was burning on the hearth, and a bright lamp stood on a table, in
the midst of a plentiful meal, apparently awaiting my arrival. But what surprised me more than
all, was, that the room was in every respect a copy of my own room, the room whence the
little stream from my basin had led me into Fairy Land. There was the very carpet of grass
and moss and daisies, which I had myself designed; the curtains of pale blue silk, that fell like
a cataract over the windows; the old-fashioned bed, with the chintz furniture, on which I had
slept from boyhood. “Now I shall sleep,” I said to myself. “My shadow dares not come here.”
I sat down to the table, and began to help myself to the good things before me with
confidence. And now I found, as in many instances before, how true the fairy tales are; for I
was waited on, all the time of my meal, by invisible hands. I had scarcely to do more than look
towards anything I wanted, when it was brought me, just as if it had come to me of itself. My
glass was kept filled with the wine I had chosen, until I looked towards another bottle or
decanter; when a fresh glass was substituted, and the other wine supplied. When I had eaten
and drank more heartily and joyfully than ever since I entered Fairy Land, the whole was
removed by several attendants, of whom some were male and some female, as I thought I
could distinguish from the way the dishes were lifted from the table, and the motion with which
they were carried out of the room. As soon as they were all taken away, I heard a sound as of
the shutting of a door, and knew that I was left alone. I sat long by the fire, meditating, and
wondering how it would all end; and when at length, wearied with thinking, I betook myself to
my own bed, it was half with a hope that, when I awoke in the morning, I should awake not
only in my own room, but in my own castle also; and that I should walk, out upon my own
native soil, and find that Fairy Land was, after all, only a vision of the night. The sound of the
falling waters of the fountain floated me into oblivion.
Chapter 11

A wilderness of building, sinking far
And self-withdrawn into a wondrous depth,
Far sinking into splendour — without end:
Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold,
With alabaster domes, and silver spires,
And blazing terrace upon terrace, high

But when, after a sleep, which, although dreamless, yet left behind it a sense of past
blessedness, I awoke in the full morning, I found, indeed, that the room was still my own; but
that it looked abroad upon an unknown landscape of forest and hill and dale on the one side
— and on the other, upon the marble court, with the great fountain, the crest of which now
flashed glorious in the sun, and cast on the pavement beneath a shower of faint shadows
from the waters that fell from it into the marble basin below.
Agreeably to all authentic accounts of the treatment of travellers in Fairy Land, I found by
my bedside a complete suit of fresh clothing, just such as I was in the habit of wearing; for,
though varied sufficiently from the one removed, it was yet in complete accordance with my
tastes. I dressed myself in this, and went out. The whole palace shone like silver in the sun.
The marble was partly dull and partly polished; and every pinnacle, dome, and turret ended in
a ball, or cone, or cusp of silver. It was like frost-work, and too dazzling, in the sun, for earthly
eyes like mine.
I will not attempt to describe the environs, save by saying, that all the pleasures to be
found in the most varied and artistic arrangement of wood and river, lawn and wild forest,
garden and shrubbery, rocky hill and luxurious vale; in living creatures wild and tame, in
gorgeous birds, scattered fountains, little streams, and reedy lakes — all were here. Some
parts of the palace itself I shall have occasion to describe more minutely.
For this whole morning I never thought of my demon shadow; and not till the weariness
which supervened on delight brought it again to my memory, did I look round to see if it was
behind me: it was scarcely discernible. But its presence, however faintly revealed, sent a pang
to my heart, for the pain of which, not all the beauties around me could compensate. It was
followed, however, by the comforting reflection that, peradventure, I might here find the magic
word of power to banish the demon and set me free, so that I should no longer be a man
beside myself. The Queen of Fairy Land, thought I, must dwell here: surely she will put forth
her power to deliver me, and send me singing through the further gates of her country back to
my own land. “Shadow of me!” I said; “which art not me, but which representest thyself to me
as me; here I may find a shadow of light which will devour thee, the shadow of darkness! Here
I may find a blessing which will fall on thee as a curse, and damn thee to the blackness
whence thou hast emerged unbidden.” I said this, stretched at length on the slope of the lawn
above the river; and as the hope arose within me, the sun came forth from a light fleecy cloud
that swept across his face; and hill and dale, and the great river winding on through the still
mysterious forest, flashed back his rays as with a silent shout of joy; all nature lived and
glowed; the very earth grew warm beneath me; a magnificent dragon-fly went past me like an
arrow from a bow, and a whole concert of birds burst into choral song.
The heat of the sun soon became too intense even for passive support. I therefore rose,
and sought the shelter of one of the arcades. Wandering along from one to another of these,
wherever my heedless steps led me, and wondering everywhere at the simple magnificence of
the building, I arrived at another hall, the roof of which was of a pale blue, spangled withconstellations of silver stars, and supported by porphyry pillars of a paler red than ordinary. —
In this house (I may remark in passing), silver seemed everywhere preferred to gold; and
such was the purity of the air, that it showed nowhere signs of tarnishing. — The whole of the
floor of this hall, except a narrow path behind the pillars, paved with black, was hollowed into a
huge basin, many feet deep, and filled with the purest, most liquid and radiant water. The
sides of the basin were white marble, and the bottom was paved with all kinds of refulgent
stones, of every shape and hue.
In their arrangement, you would have supposed, at first sight, that there was no design,
for they seemed to lie as if cast there from careless and playful hands; but it was a most
harmonious confusion; and as I looked at the play of their colours, especially when the waters
were in motion, I came at last to feel as if not one little pebble could be displaced, without
injuring the effect of the whole. Beneath this floor of the water, lay the reflection of the blue
inverted roof, fretted with its silver stars, like a second deeper sea, clasping and upholding the
first. The fairy bath was probably fed from the fountain in the court. Led by an irresistible
desire, I undressed, and plunged into the water. It clothed me as with a new sense and its
object both in one. The waters lay so close to me, they seemed to enter and revive my heart.
I rose to the surface, shook the water from my hair, and swam as in a rainbow, amid the
coruscations of the gems below seen through the agitation caused by my motion. Then, with
open eyes, I dived, and swam beneath the surface. And here was a new wonder. For the
basin, thus beheld, appeared to extend on all sides like a sea, with here and there groups as
of ocean rocks, hollowed by ceaseless billows into wondrous caves and grotesque pinnacles.
Around the caves grew sea-weeds of all hues, and the corals glowed between; while far off, I
saw the glimmer of what seemed to be creatures of human form at home in the waters. I
thought I had been enchanted; and that when I rose to the surface, I should find myself miles
from land, swimming alone upon a heaving sea; but when my eyes emerged from the waters,
I saw above me the blue spangled vault, and the red pillars around. I dived again, and found
myself once more in the heart of a great sea. I then arose, and swam to the edge, where I got
out easily, for the water reached the very brim, and, as I drew near washed in tiny waves over
the black marble border. I dressed, and went out, deeply refreshed.
And now I began to discern faint, gracious forms, here and there throughout the building.
Some walked together in earnest conversation. Others strayed alone. Some stood in groups,
as if looking at and talking about a picture or a statue. None of them heeded me. Nor were
they plainly visible to my eyes. Sometimes a group, or single individual, would fade entirely out
of the realm of my vision as I gazed. When evening came, and the moon arose, clear as a
round of a horizon-sea when the sun hangs over it in the west, I began to see them all more
plainly; especially when they came between me and the moon; and yet more especially, when
I myself was in the shade. But, even then, I sometimes saw only the passing wave of a white
robe; or a lovely arm or neck gleamed by in the moonshine; or white feet went walking alone
over the moony sward. Nor, I grieve to say, did I ever come much nearer to these glorious
beings, or ever look upon the Queen of the Fairies herself. My destiny ordered otherwise.
In this palace of marble and silver, and fountains and moonshine, I spent many days;
waited upon constantly in my room with everything desirable, and bathing daily in the fairy
bath. All this time I was little troubled with my demon shadow I had a vague feeling that he
was somewhere about the palace; but it seemed as if the hope that I should in this place be
finally freed from his hated presence, had sufficed to banish him for a time. How and where I
found him, I shall soon have to relate.
The third day after my arrival, I found the library of the palace; and here, all the time I
remained, I spent most of the middle of the day. For it was, not to mention far greater
attractions, a luxurious retreat from the noontide sun. During the mornings and afternoons, I
wandered about the lovely neighbourhood, or lay, lost in delicious day-dreams, beneath some
mighty tree on the open lawn. My evenings were by-and-by spent in a part of the palace, theaccount of which, and of my adventures in connection with it, I must yet postpone for a little.
The library was a mighty hall, lighted from the roof, which was formed of something like
glass, vaulted over in a single piece, and stained throughout with a great mysterious picture in
gorgeous colouring.
The walls were lined from floor to roof with books and books: most of them in ancient
bindings, but some in strange new fashions which I had never seen, and which, were I to
make the attempt, I could ill describe. All around the walls, in front of the books, ran galleries
in rows, communicating by stairs. These galleries were built of all kinds of coloured stones; all
sorts of marble and granite, with porphyry, jasper, lapis lazuli, agate, and various others, were
ranged in wonderful melody of successive colours. Although the material, then, of which these
galleries and stairs were built, rendered necessary a certain degree of massiveness in the
construction, yet such was the size of the place, that they seemed to run along the walls like
Over some parts of the library, descended curtains of silk of various dyes, none of which
I ever saw lifted while I was there; and I felt somehow that it would be presumptuous in me to
venture to look within them. But the use of the other books seemed free; and day after day I
came to the library, threw myself on one of the many sumptuous eastern carpets, which lay
here and there on the floor, and read, and read, until weary; if that can be designated as
weariness, which was rather the faintness of rapturous delight; or until, sometimes, the failing
of the light invited me to go abroad, in the hope that a cool gentle breeze might have arisen to
bathe, with an airy invigorating bath, the limbs which the glow of the burning spirit within had
withered no less than the glow of the blazing sun without.
One peculiarity of these books, or at least most of those I looked into, I must make a
somewhat vain attempt to describe.
If, for instance, it was a book of metaphysics I opened, I had scarcely read two pages
before I seemed to myself to be pondering over discovered truth, and constructing the
intellectual machine whereby to communicate the discovery to my fellow men. With some
books, however, of this nature, it seemed rather as if the process was removed yet a great
way further back; and I was trying to find the root of a manifestation, the spiritual truth whence
a material vision sprang; or to combine two propositions, both apparently true, either at once
or in different remembered moods, and to find the point in which their invisibly converging
lines would unite in one, revealing a truth higher than either and differing from both; though so
far from being opposed to either, that it was that whence each derived its life and power. Or if
the book was one of travels, I found myself the traveller. New lands, fresh experiences, novel
customs, rose around me. I walked, I discovered, I fought, I suffered, I rejoiced in my
success. Was it a history? I was the chief actor therein. I suffered my own blame; I was glad
in my own praise. With a fiction it was the same. Mine was the whole story. For I took the
place of the character who was most like myself, and his story was mine; until, grown weary
with the life of years condensed in an hour, or arrived at my deathbed, or the end of the
volume, I would awake, with a sudden bewilderment, to the consciousness of my present life,
recognising the walls and roof around me, and finding I joyed or sorrowed only in a book. If
the book was a poem, the words disappeared, or took the subordinate position of an
accompaniment to the succession of forms and images that rose and vanished with a
soundless rhythm, and a hidden rime.
In one, with a mystical title, which I cannot recall, I read of a world that is not like ours.
The wondrous account, in such a feeble, fragmentary way as is possible to me, I would
willingly impart. Whether or not it was all a poem, I cannot tell; but, from the impulse I felt,
when I first contemplated writing it, to break into rime, to which impulse I shall give way if it
comes upon me again, I think it must have been, partly at least, in verse.
Chapter 12

Chained is the Spring. The night-wind bold
Blows over the hard earth;
Time is not more confused and cold,
Nor keeps more wintry mirth.

Yet blow, and roll the world about;
Blow, Time — blow, winter’s Wind!
Through chinks of Time, heaven peepeth out,
And Spring the frost behind.
—G. E. M.

They who believe in the influences of the stars over the fates of men, are, in feeling at
least, nearer the truth than they who regard the heavenly bodies as related to them merely by
a common obedience to an external law. All that man sees has to do with man. Worlds cannot
be without an intermundane relationship. The community of the centre of all creation suggests
an interradiating connection and dependence of the parts. Else a grander idea is conceivable
than that which is already imbodied. The blank, which is only a forgotten life, lying behind the
consciousness, and the misty splendour, which is an undeveloped life, lying before it, may be
full of mysterious revelations of other connexions with the worlds around us, than those of
science and poetry. No shining belt or gleaming moon, no red and green glory in a
selfencircling twin-star, but has a relation with the hidden things of a man’s soul, and, it may be,
with the secret history of his body as well. They are portions of the living house wherein he

Through the realms of the monarch Sun
Creeps a world, whose course had begun,
On a weary path with a weary pace,
Before the Earth sprang forth on her race:
But many a time the Earth had sped
Around the path she still must tread,
Ere the elder planet, on leaden wing,
Once circled the court of the planet’s king.

There, in that lonely and distant star,
The seasons are not as our seasons are;
But many a year hath Autumn to dress
The trees in their matron loveliness;
As long hath old Winter in triumph to go
O’er beauties dead in his vaults below;
And many a year the Spring doth wear
Combing the icicles from her hair;
And Summer, dear Summer, hath years of June,
With large white clouds, and cool showers at noon:
And a beauty that grows to a weight like grief,
Till a burst of tears is the heart’s relief.

Children, born when Winter is king,
May never rejoice in the hoping Spring;Though their own heart-buds are bursting with joy,
And the child hath grown to the girl or boy;
But may die with cold and icy hours
Watching them ever in place of flowers.
And some who awake from their primal sleep,
When the sighs of Summer through forests creep,
Live, and love, and are loved again;
Seek for pleasure, and find its pain;
Sink to their last, their forsaken sleeping,
With the same sweet odours around them creeping.

Now the children, there, are not born as the children are born in worlds nearer to the
sun. For they arrive no one knows how. A maiden, walking alone, hears a cry: for even there
a cry is the first utterance; and searching about, she findeth, under an overhanging rock, or
within a clump of bushes, or, it may be, betwixt gray stones on the side of a hill, or in any
other sheltered and unexpected spot, a little child. This she taketh tenderly, and beareth home
with joy, calling out, “Mother, mother” — if so be that her mother lives — “I have got a baby —
I have found a child!” All the household gathers round to see; — “Where is it? What is it like?
Where did you find it?” and such-like questions, abounding. And thereupon she relates the
whole story of the discovery; for by the circumstances, such as season of the year, time of
the day, condition of the air, and such like, and, especially, the peculiar and never-repeated
aspect of the heavens and earth at the time, and the nature of the place of shelter wherein it
is found, is determined, or at least indicated, the nature of the child thus discovered.
Therefore, at certain seasons, and in certain states of the weather, according, in part, to their
own fancy, the young women go out to look for children. They generally avoid seeking them,
though they cannot help sometimes finding them, in places and with circumstances
uncongenial to their peculiar likings. But no sooner is a child found, than its claim for
protection and nurture obliterates all feeling of choice in the matter. Chiefly, however, in the
season of summer, which lasts so long, coming as it does after such long intervals; and
mostly in the warm evenings, about the middle of twilight; and principally in the woods and
along the river banks, do the maidens go looking for children just as children look for flowers.
And ever as the child grows, yea, more and more as he advances in years, will his face
indicate to those who understand the spirit of Nature, and her utterances in the face of the
world, the nature of the place of his birth, and the other circumstances thereof; whether a
clear morning sun guided his mother to the nook whence issued the boy’s low cry; or at eve
the lonely maiden (for the same woman never finds a second, at least while the first lives)
discovers the girl by the glimmer of her white skin, lying in a nest like that of the lark, amid
long encircling grasses, and the upward-gazing eyes of the lowly daisies; whether the storm
bowed the forest trees around, or the still frost fixed in silence the else flowing and babbling
After they grow up, the men and women are but little together. There is this peculiar
difference between them, which likewise distinguishes the women from those of the earth. The
men alone have arms; the women have only wings. Resplendent wings are they, wherein they
can shroud themselves from head to foot in a panoply of glistering glory. By these wings
alone, it may frequently be judged in what seasons, and under what aspects, they were born.
From those that came in winter, go great white wings, white as snow; the edge of every
feather shining like the sheen of silver, so that they flash and glitter like frost in the sun. But
underneath, they are tinged with a faint pink or rose-colour. Those born in spring have wings
of a brilliant green, green as grass; and towards the edges the feathers are enamelled like the
surface of the grass-blades. These again are white within. Those that are born in summer
have wings of a deep rose-colour, lined with pale gold. And those born in autumn have purplewings, with a rich brown on the inside. But these colours are modified and altered in all
varieties, corresponding to the mood of the day and hour, as well as the season of the year;
and sometimes I found the various colours so intermingled, that I could not determine even
the season, though doubtless the hieroglyphic could be deciphered by more experienced
eyes. One splendour, in particular, I remember — wings of deep carmine, with an inner down
of warm gray, around a form of brilliant whiteness.
She had been found as the sun went down through a low sea-fog, casting crimson along
a broad sea-path into a little cave on the shore, where a bathing maiden saw her lying.
But though I speak of sun and fog, and sea and shore, the world there is in some
respects very different from the earth whereon men live. For instance, the waters reflect no
forms. To the unaccustomed eye they appear, if undisturbed, like the surface of a dark metal,
only that the latter would reflect indistinctly, whereas they reflect not at all, except light which
falls immediately upon them. This has a great effect in causing the landscapes to differ from
those on the earth. On the stillest evening, no tall ship on the sea sends a long wavering
reflection almost to the feet of him on shore; the face of no maiden brightens at its own
beauty in a still forest-well. The sun and moon alone make a glitter on the surface. The sea is
like a sea of death, ready to ingulf and never to reveal: a visible shadow of oblivion. Yet the
women sport in its waters like gorgeous sea-birds. The men more rarely enter them. But, on
the contrary, the sky reflects everything beneath it, as if it were built of water like ours. Of
course, from its concavity there is some distortion of the reflected objects; yet wondrous
combinations of form are often to be seen in the overhanging depth. And then it is not shaped
so much like a round dome as the sky of the earth, but, more of an egg-shape, rises to a
great towering height in the middle, appearing far more lofty than the other. When the stars
come out at night, it shows a mighty cupola, “fretted with golden fires,” wherein there is room
for all tempests to rush and rave.
One evening in early summer, I stood with a group of men and women on a steep rock
that overhung the sea. They were all questioning me about my world and the ways thereof. In
making reply to one of their questions, I was compelled to say that children are not born in the
Earth as with them. Upon this I was assailed with a whole battery of inquiries, which at first I
tried to avoid; but, at last, I was compelled, in the vaguest manner I could invent, to make
some approach to the subject in question. Immediately a dim notion of what I meant, seemed
to dawn in the minds of most of the women. Some of them folded their great wings all around
them, as they generally do when in the least offended, and stood erect and motionless. One
spread out her rosy pinions, and flashed from the promontory into the gulf at its foot. A great
light shone in the eyes of one maiden, who turned and walked slowly away, with her purple
and white wings half dispread behind her. She was found, the next morning, dead beneath a
withered tree on a bare hill-side, some miles inland. They buried her where she lay, as is their
custom; for, before they die, they instinctively search for a spot like the place of their birth,
and having found one that satisfies them, they lie down, fold their wings around them, if they
be women, or cross their arms over their breasts, if they are men, just as if they were going to
sleep; and so sleep indeed. The sign or cause of coming death is an indescribable longing for
something, they know not what, which seizes them, and drives them into solitude, consuming
them within, till the body fails. When a youth and a maiden look too deep into each other’s
eyes, this longing seizes and possesses them; but instead of drawing nearer to each other,
they wander away, each alone, into solitary places, and die of their desire. But it seems to me,
that thereafter they are born babes upon our earth: where, if, when grown, they find each
other, it goes well with them; if not, it will seem to go ill. But of this I know nothing. When I told
them that the women on the Earth had not wings like them, but arms, they stared, and said
how bold and masculine they must look; not knowing that their wings, glorious as they are, are
but undeveloped arms.
But see the power of this book, that, while recounting what I can recall of its contents, Iwrite as if myself had visited the far-off planet, learned its ways and appearances, and
conversed with its men and women. And so, while writing, it seemed to me that I had.
The book goes on with the story of a maiden, who, born at the close of autumn, and
living in a long, to her endless winter, set out at last to find the regions of spring; for, as in our
earth, the seasons are divided over the globe. It begins something like this:

She watched them dying for many a day,
Dropping from off the old trees away,
One by one; or else in a shower
Crowding over the withered flower
For as if they had done some grievous wrong,
The sun, that had nursed them and loved them so long,
Grew weary of loving, and, turning back,
Hastened away on his southern track;
And helplessly hung each shrivelled leaf,
Faded away with an idle grief.
And the gusts of wind, sad Autumn’s sighs,
Mournfully swept through their families;
Casting away with a helpless moan
All that he yet might call his own,
As the child, when his bird is gone for ever,
Flingeth the cage on the wandering river.
And the giant trees, as bare as Death,
Slowly bowed to the great Wind’s breath;
And groaned with trying to keep from groaning
Amidst the young trees bending and moaning.
And the ancient planet’s mighty sea
Was heaving and falling most restlessly,
And the tops of the waves were broken and white,
Tossing about to ease their might;
And the river was striving to reach the main,
And the ripple was hurrying back again.
Nature lived in sadness now;
Sadness lived on the maiden’s brow,
As she watched, with a fixed, half-conscious eye,
One lonely leaf that trembled on high,
Till it dropped at last from the desolate bough —
Sorrow, oh, sorrow! ‘tis winter now.
And her tears gushed forth, though it was but a leaf,
For little will loose the swollen fountain of grief:
When up to the lip the water goes,
It needs but a drop, and it overflows.

Oh! many and many a dreary year
Must pass away ere the buds appear:
Many a night of darksome sorrow
Yield to the light of a joyless morrow,
Ere birds again, on the clothed trees,
Shall fill the branches with melodies.
She will dream of meadows with wakeful streams;
Of wavy grass in the sunny beams;Of hidden wells that soundless spring,
Hoarding their joy as a holy thing;
Of founts that tell it all day long
To the listening woods, with exultant song;
She will dream of evenings that die into nights,
Where each sense is filled with its own delights,
And the soul is still as the vaulted sky,
Lulled with an inner harmony;

And the flowers give out to the dewy night,
Changed into perfume, the gathered light;
And the darkness sinks upon all their host,
Till the sun sail up on the eastern coast —
She will wake and see the branches bare,
Weaving a net in the frozen air.

The story goes on to tell how, at last, weary with wintriness, she travelled towards the
southern regions of her globe, to meet the spring on its slow way northwards; and how, after
many sad adventures, many disappointed hopes, and many tears, bitter and fruitless, she
found at last, one stormy afternoon, in a leafless forest, a single snowdrop growing betwixt the
borders of the winter and spring. She lay down beside it and died. I almost believe that a child,
pale and peaceful as a snowdrop, was born in the Earth within a fixed season from that
stormy afternoon.
Chapter 13

I saw a ship sailing upon the sea
Deeply laden as ship could be;
But not so deep as in love I am
For I care not whether I sink or swim.
—Old Ballad.

But Love is such a Mystery
I cannot find it out:
For when I think I’m best resolv’d,
I then am in most doubt.
—Sir John Suckling.

One story I will try to reproduce. But, alas! it is like trying to reconstruct a forest out of
broken branches and withered leaves. In the fairy book, everything was just as it should be,
though whether in words or something else, I cannot tell. It glowed and flashed the thoughts
upon the soul, with such a power that the medium disappeared from the consciousness, and it
was occupied only with the things themselves. My representation of it must resemble a
translation from a rich and powerful language, capable of embodying the thoughts of a
splendidly developed people, into the meagre and half-articulate speech of a savage tribe. Of
course, while I read it, I was Cosmo, and his history was mine. Yet, all the time, I seemed to
have a kind of double consciousness, and the story a double meaning. Sometimes it seemed
only to represent a simple story of ordinary life, perhaps almost of universal life; wherein two
souls, loving each other and longing to come nearer, do, after all, but behold each other as in
a glass darkly.
As through the hard rock go the branching silver veins; as into the solid land run the
creeks and gulfs from the unresting sea; as the lights and influences of the upper worlds sink
silently through the earth’s atmosphere; so doth Faerie invade the world of men, and
sometimes startle the common eye with an association as of cause and effect, when between
the two no connecting links can be traced.
Cosmo von Wehrstahl was a student at the University of Prague. Though of a noble
family, he was poor, and prided himself upon the independence that poverty gives; for what
will not a man pride himself upon, when he cannot get rid of it? A favourite with his fellow
students, he yet had no companions; and none of them had ever crossed the threshold of his
lodging in the top of one of the highest houses in the old town. Indeed, the secret of much of
that complaisance which recommended him to his fellows, was the thought of his unknown
retreat, whither in the evening he could betake himself and indulge undisturbed in his own
studies and reveries. These studies, besides those subjects necessary to his course at the
University, embraced some less commonly known and approved; for in a secret drawer lay
the works of Albertus Magnus and Cornelius Agrippa, along with others less read and more
abstruse. As yet, however, he had followed these researches only from curiosity, and had
turned them to no practical purpose.
His lodging consisted of one large low-ceiled room, singularly bare of furniture; for
besides a couple of wooden chairs, a couch which served for dreaming on both by day and
night, and a great press of black oak, there was very little in the room that could be called
But curious instruments were heaped in the corners; and in one stood a skeleton,
halfleaning against the wall, half-supported by a string about its neck. One of its hands, all of
fingers, rested on the heavy pommel of a great sword that stood beside it.Various weapons were scattered about over the floor. The walls were utterly bare of
adornment; for the few strange things, such as a large dried bat with wings dispread, the skin
of a porcupine, and a stuffed sea-mouse, could hardly be reckoned as such. But although his
fancy delighted in vagaries like these, he indulged his imagination with far different fare. His
mind had never yet been filled with an absorbing passion; but it lay like a still twilight open to
any wind, whether the low breath that wafts but odours, or the storm that bows the great trees
till they strain and creak. He saw everything as through a rose-coloured glass. When he
looked from his window on the street below, not a maiden passed but she moved as in a
story, and drew his thoughts after her till she disappeared in the vista. When he walked in the
streets, he always felt as if reading a tale, into which he sought to weave every face of
interest that went by; and every sweet voice swept his soul as with the wing of a passing
angel. He was in fact a poet without words; the more absorbed and endangered, that the
springing-waters were dammed back into his soul, where, finding no utterance, they grew, and
swelled, and undermined. He used to lie on his hard couch, and read a tale or a poem, till the
book dropped from his hand; but he dreamed on, he knew not whether awake or asleep, until
the opposite roof grew upon his sense, and turned golden in the sunrise. Then he arose too;
and the impulses of vigorous youth kept him ever active, either in study or in sport, until again
the close of the day left him free; and the world of night, which had lain drowned in the
cataract of the day, rose up in his soul, with all its stars, and dim-seen phantom shapes. But
this could hardly last long. Some one form must sooner or later step within the charmed circle,
enter the house of life, and compel the bewildered magician to kneel and worship.
One afternoon, towards dusk, he was wandering dreamily in one of the principal streets,
when a fellow student roused him by a slap on the shoulder, and asked him to accompany
him into a little back alley to look at some old armour which he had taken a fancy to possess.
Cosmo was considered an authority in every matter pertaining to arms, ancient or modern. In
the use of weapons, none of the students could come near him; and his practical
acquaintance with some had principally contributed to establish his authority in reference to
all. He accompanied him willingly.
They entered a narrow alley, and thence a dirty little court, where a low arched door
admitted them into a heterogeneous assemblage of everything musty, and dusty, and old,
that could well be imagined. His verdict on the armour was satisfactory, and his companion at
once concluded the purchase. As they were leaving the place, Cosmo’s eye was attracted by
an old mirror of an elliptical shape, which leaned against the wall, covered with dust. Around it
was some curious carving, which he could see but very indistinctly by the glimmering light
which the owner of the shop carried in his hand. It was this carving that attracted his attention;
at least so it appeared to him. He left the place, however, with his friend, taking no further
notice of it. They walked together to the main street, where they parted and took opposite
No sooner was Cosmo left alone, than the thought of the curious old mirror returned to
him. A strong desire to see it more plainly arose within him, and he directed his steps once
more towards the shop. The owner opened the door when he knocked, as if he had expected
him. He was a little, old, withered man, with a hooked nose, and burning eyes constantly in a
slow restless motion, and looking here and there as if after something that eluded them.
Pretending to examine several other articles, Cosmo at last approached the mirror, and
requested to have it taken down.
“Take it down yourself, master; I cannot reach it,” said the old man.
Cosmo took it down carefully, when he saw that the carving was indeed delicate and
costly, being both of admirable design and execution; containing withal many devices which
seemed to embody some meaning to which he had no clue. This, naturally, in one of his
tastes and temperament, increased the interest he felt in the old mirror; so much, indeed, that
he now longed to possess it, in order to study its frame at his leisure. He pretended, however,to want it only for use; and saying he feared the plate could be of little service, as it was rather
old, he brushed away a little of the dust from its face, expecting to see a dull reflection within.
His surprise was great when he found the reflection brilliant, revealing a glass not only
uninjured by age, but wondrously clear and perfect (should the whole correspond to this part)
even for one newly from the hands of the maker. He asked carelessly what the owner wanted
for the thing. The old man replied by mentioning a sum of money far beyond the reach of poor
Cosmo, who proceeded to replace the mirror where it had stood before.
“You think the price too high?” said the old man.
“I do not know that it is too much for you to ask,” replied Cosmo; “but it is far too much
for me to give.”
The old man held up his light towards Cosmo’s face. “I like your look,” said he.
Cosmo could not return the compliment. In fact, now he looked closely at him for the first
time, he felt a kind of repugnance to him, mingled with a strange feeling of doubt whether a
man or a woman stood before him.
“What is your name?” he continued.
“Cosmo von Wehrstahl.”
“Ah, ah! I thought as much. I see your father in you. I knew your father very well, young
sir. I dare say in some odd corners of my house, you might find some old things with his crest
and cipher upon them still. Well, I like you: you shall have the mirror at the fourth part of what
I asked for it; but upon one condition.”
“What is that?” said Cosmo; for, although the price was still a great deal for him to give,
he could just manage it; and the desire to possess the mirror had increased to an altogether
unaccountable degree, since it had seemed beyond his reach.
“That if you should ever want to get rid of it again, you will let me have the first offer.”
“Certainly,” replied Cosmo, with a smile; adding, “a moderate condition indeed.”
“On your honour?” insisted the seller.
“On my honour,” said the buyer; and the bargain was concluded.
“I will carry it home for you,” said the old man, as Cosmo took it in his hands.
“No, no; I will carry it myself,” said he; for he had a peculiar dislike to revealing his
residence to any one, and more especially to this person, to whom he felt every moment a
greater antipathy. “Just as you please,” said the old creature, and muttered to himself as he
held his light at the door to show him out of the court: “Sold for the sixth time! I wonder what
will be the upshot of it this time. I should think my lady had enough of it by now!”
Cosmo carried his prize carefully home. But all the way he had an uncomfortable feeling
that he was watched and dogged. Repeatedly he looked about, but saw nothing to justify his
suspicions. Indeed, the streets were too crowded and too ill lighted to expose very readily a
careful spy, if such there should be at his heels. He reached his lodging in safety, and leaned
his purchase against the wall, rather relieved, strong as he was, to be rid of its weight; then,
lighting his pipe, threw himself on the couch, and was soon lapt in the folds of one of his
haunting dreams.
He returned home earlier than usual the next day, and fixed the mirror to the wall, over
the hearth, at one end of his long room.
He then carefully wiped away the dust from its face, and, clear as the water of a sunny
spring, the mirror shone out from beneath the envious covering. But his interest was chiefly
occupied with the curious carving of the frame. This he cleaned as well as he could with a
brush; and then he proceeded to a minute examination of its various parts, in the hope of
discovering some index to the intention of the carver. In this, however, he was unsuccessful;
and, at length, pausing with some weariness and disappointment, he gazed vacantly for a few
moments into the depth of the reflected room. But ere long he said, half aloud: “What a
strange thing a mirror is! and what a wondrous affinity exists between it and a man’s
imagination! For this room of mine, as I behold it in the glass, is the same, and yet not thesame. It is not the mere representation of the room I live in, but it looks just as if I were
reading about it in a story I like. All its commonness has disappeared. The mirror has lifted it
out of the region of fact into the realm of art; and the very representing of it to me has clothed
with interest that which was otherwise hard and bare; just as one sees with delight upon the
stage the representation of a character from which one would escape in life as from
something unendurably wearisome. But is it not rather that art rescues nature from the weary
and sated regards of our senses, and the degrading injustice of our anxious everyday life,
and, appealing to the imagination, which dwells apart, reveals Nature in some degree as she
really is, and as she represents herself to the eye of the child, whose every-day life, fearless
and unambitious, meets the true import of the wonder-teeming world around him, and rejoices
therein without questioning? That skeleton, now — I almost fear it, standing there so still, with
eyes only for the unseen, like a watch-tower looking across all the waste of this busy world
into the quiet regions of rest beyond. And yet I know every bone and every joint in it as well as
my own fist. And that old battle-axe looks as if any moment it might be caught up by a mailed
hand, and, borne forth by the mighty arm, go crashing through casque, and skull, and brain,
invading the Unknown with yet another bewildered ghost. I should like to live in that room if I
could only get into it.”
Scarcely had the half-moulded words floated from him, as he stood gazing into the
mirror, when, striking him as with a flash of amazement that fixed him in his posture, noiseless
and unannounced, glided suddenly through the door into the reflected room, with stately
motion, yet reluctant and faltering step, the graceful form of a woman, clothed all in white. Her
back only was visible as she walked slowly up to the couch in the further end of the room, on
which she laid herself wearily, turning towards him a face of unutterable loveliness, in which
suffering, and dislike, and a sense of compulsion, strangely mingled with the beauty. He stood
without the power of motion for some moments, with his eyes irrecoverably fixed upon her;
and even after he was conscious of the ability to move, he could not summon up courage to
turn and look on her, face to face, in the veritable chamber in which he stood. At length, with a
sudden effort, in which the exercise of the will was so pure, that it seemed involuntary, he
turned his face to the couch. It was vacant. In bewilderment, mingled with terror, he turned
again to the mirror: there, on the reflected couch, lay the exquisite lady-form. She lay with
closed eyes, whence two large tears were just welling from beneath the veiling lids; still as
death, save for the convulsive motion of her bosom.
Cosmo himself could not have described what he felt. His emotions were of a kind that
destroyed consciousness, and could never be clearly recalled. He could not help standing yet
by the mirror, and keeping his eyes fixed on the lady, though he was painfully aware of his
rudeness, and feared every moment that she would open hers, and meet his fixed regard. But
he was, ere long, a little relieved; for, after a while, her eyelids slowly rose, and her eyes
remained uncovered, but unemployed for a time; and when, at length, they began to wander
about the room, as if languidly seeking to make some acquaintance with her environment,
they were never directed towards him: it seemed nothing but what was in the mirror could
affect her vision; and, therefore, if she saw him at all, it could only be his back, which, of
necessity, was turned towards her in the glass. The two figures in the mirror could not meet
face to face, except he turned and looked at her, present in his room; and, as she was not
there, he concluded that if he were to turn towards the part in his room corresponding to that
in which she lay, his reflection would either be invisible to her altogether, or at least it must
appear to her to gaze vacantly towards her, and no meeting of the eyes would produce the
impression of spiritual proximity. By-and-by her eyes fell upon the skeleton, and he saw her
shudder and close them. She did not open them again, but signs of repugnance continued
evident on her countenance. Cosmo would have removed the obnoxious thing at once, but he
feared to discompose her yet more by the assertion of his presence which the act would
involve. So he stood and watched her. The eyelids yet shrouded the eyes, as a costly casethe jewels within; the troubled expression gradually faded from the countenance, leaving only
a faint sorrow behind; the features settled into an unchanging expression of rest; and by these
signs, and the slow regular motion of her breathing, Cosmo knew that she slept. He could now
gaze on her without embarrassment. He saw that her figure, dressed in the simplest robe of
white, was worthy of her face; and so harmonious, that either the delicately moulded foot, or
any finger of the equally delicate hand, was an index to the whole. As she lay, her whole form
manifested the relaxation of perfect repose. He gazed till he was weary, and at last seated
himself near the new-found shrine, and mechanically took up a book, like one who watches by
a sick-bed. But his eyes gathered no thoughts from the page before him. His intellect had
been stunned by the bold contradiction, to its face, of all its experience, and now lay passive,
without assertion, or speculation, or even conscious astonishment; while his imagination sent
one wild dream of blessedness after another coursing through his soul. How long he sat he
knew not; but at length he roused himself, rose, and, trembling in every portion of his frame,
looked again into the mirror. She was gone. The mirror reflected faithfully what his room
presented, and nothing more. It stood there like a golden setting whence the central jewel has
been stolen away — like a night-sky without the glory of its stars. She had carried with her all
the strangeness of the reflected room. It had sunk to the level of the one without.
But when the first pangs of his disappointment had passed, Cosmo began to comfort
himself with the hope that she might return, perhaps the next evening, at the same hour.
Resolving that if she did, she should not at least be scared by the hateful skeleton, he
removed that and several other articles of questionable appearance into a recess by the side
of the hearth, whence they could not possibly cast any reflection into the mirror; and having
made his poor room as tidy as he could, sought the solace of the open sky and of a night wind
that had begun to blow, for he could not rest where he was. When he returned, somewhat
composed, he could hardly prevail with himself to lie down on his bed; for he could not help
feeling as if she had lain upon it; and for him to lie there now would be something like
sacrilege. However, weariness prevailed; and laying himself on the couch, dressed as he was,
he slept till day.
With a beating heart, beating till he could hardly breathe, he stood in dumb hope before
the mirror, on the following evening. Again the reflected room shone as through a purple
vapour in the gathering twilight. Everything seemed waiting like himself for a coming splendour
to glorify its poor earthliness with the presence of a heavenly joy. And just as the room
vibrated with the strokes of the neighbouring church bell, announcing the hour of six, in glided
the pale beauty, and again laid herself on the couch. Poor Cosmo nearly lost his senses with
delight. She was there once more! Her eyes sought the corner where the skeleton had stood,
and a faint gleam of satisfaction crossed her face, apparently at seeing it empty. She looked
suffering still, but there was less of discomfort expressed in her countenance than there had
been the night before. She took more notice of the things about her, and seemed to gaze with
some curiosity on the strange apparatus standing here and there in her room. At length,
however, drowsiness seemed to overtake her, and again she fell asleep. Resolved not to lose
sight of her this time, Cosmo watched the sleeping form. Her slumber was so deep and
absorbing that a fascinating repose seemed to pass contagiously from her to him as he gazed
upon her; and he started as if from a dream, when the lady moved, and, without opening her
eyes, rose, and passed from the room with the gait of a somnambulist.
Cosmo was now in a state of extravagant delight. Most men have a secret treasure
somewhere. The miser has his golden hoard; the virtuoso his pet ring; the student his rare
book; the poet his favourite haunt; the lover his secret drawer; but Cosmo had a mirror with a
lovely lady in it. And now that he knew by the skeleton, that she was affected by the things
around her, he had a new object in life: he would turn the bare chamber in the mirror into a
room such as no lady need disdain to call her own. This he could effect only by furnishing and
adorning his. And Cosmo was poor. Yet he possessed accomplishments that could be turnedto account; although, hitherto, he had preferred living on his slender allowance, to increasing
his means by what his pride considered unworthy of his rank. He was the best swordsman in
the University; and now he offered to give lessons in fencing and similar exercises, to such as
chose to pay him well for the trouble. His proposal was heard with surprise by the students;
but it was eagerly accepted by many; and soon his instructions were not confined to the richer
students, but were anxiously sought by many of the young nobility of Prague and its
neighbourhood. So that very soon he had a good deal of money at his command. The first
thing he did was to remove his apparatus and oddities into a closet in the room. Then he
placed his bed and a few other necessaries on each side of the hearth, and parted them from
the rest of the room by two screens of Indian fabric. Then he put an elegant couch for the
lady to lie upon, in the corner where his bed had formerly stood; and, by degrees, every day
adding some article of luxury, converted it, at length, into a rich boudoir.
Every night, about the same time, the lady entered. The first time she saw the new
couch, she started with a half-smile; then her face grew very sad, the tears came to her eyes,
and she laid herself upon the couch, and pressed her face into the silken cushions, as if to
hide from everything. She took notice of each addition and each change as the work
proceeded; and a look of acknowledgment, as if she knew that some one was ministering to
her, and was grateful for it, mingled with the constant look of suffering. At length, after she
had lain down as usual one evening, her eyes fell upon some paintings with which Cosmo had
just finished adorning the walls. She rose, and to his great delight, walked across the room,
and proceeded to examine them carefully, testifying much pleasure in her looks as she did so.
But again the sorrowful, tearful expression returned, and again she buried her face in the
pillows of her couch. Gradually, however, her countenance had grown more composed; much
of the suffering manifest on her first appearance had vanished, and a kind of quiet, hopeful
expression had taken its place; which, however, frequently gave way to an anxious, troubled
look, mingled with something of sympathetic pity.
Meantime, how fared Cosmo? As might be expected in one of his temperament, his
interest had blossomed into love, and his love — shall I call it ripened, or — withered into
passion. But, alas! he loved a shadow. He could not come near her, could not speak to her,
could not hear a sound from those sweet lips, to which his longing eyes would cling like bees
to their honey-founts. Ever and anon he sang to himself:

I shall die for love of the maiden;
and ever he looked again, and died not, though his heart seemed ready to break with intensity
of life and longing. And the more he did for her, the more he loved her; and he hoped that,
although she never appeared to see him, yet she was pleased to think that one unknown
would give his life to her. He tried to comfort himself over his separation from her, by thinking
that perhaps some day she would see him and make signs to him, and that would satisfy him;
“for,” thought he, “is not this all that a loving soul can do to enter into communion with
another? Nay, how many who love never come nearer than to behold each other as in a
mirror; seem to know and yet never know the inward life; never enter the other soul; and part
at last, with but the vaguest notion of the universe on the borders of which they have been
hovering for years? If I could but speak to her, and knew that she heard me, I should be
satisfied.” Once he contemplated painting a picture on the wall, which should, of necessity,
convey to the lady a thought of himself; but, though he had some skill with the pencil, he
found his hand tremble so much when he began the attempt, that he was forced to give it
up.... .
“Who lives, he dies; who dies, he is alive.”
One evening, as he stood gazing on his treasure, he thought he saw a faint expression
of self-consciousness on her countenance, as if she surmised that passionate eyes were fixed
upon her. This grew; till at last the red blood rose over her neck, and cheek, and brow.Cosmo’s longing to approach her became almost delirious. This night she was dressed in an
evening costume, resplendent with diamonds. This could add nothing to her beauty, but it
presented it in a new aspect; enabled her loveliness to make a new manifestation of itself in a
new embodiment. For essential beauty is infinite; and, as the soul of Nature needs an endless
succession of varied forms to embody her loveliness, countless faces of beauty springing
forth, not any two the same, at any one of her heart-throbs; so the individual form needs an
infinite change of its environments, to enable it to uncover all the phases of its loveliness.
Diamonds glittered from amidst her hair, half hidden in its luxuriance, like stars through dark
rain-clouds; and the bracelets on her white arms flashed all the colours of a rainbow of
lightnings, as she lifted her snowy hands to cover her burning face. But her beauty shone
down all its adornment. “If I might have but one of her feet to kiss,” thought Cosmo, “I should
be content.” Alas! he deceived himself, for passion is never content. Nor did he know that
there are two ways out of her enchanted house. But, suddenly, as if the pang had been driven
into his heart from without, revealing itself first in pain, and afterwards in definite form, the
thought darted into his mind, “She has a lover somewhere. Remembered words of his bring
the colour on her face now. I am nowhere to her. She lives in another world all day, and all
night, after she leaves me. Why does she come and make me love her, till I, a strong man,
am too faint to look upon her more?” He looked again, and her face was pale as a lily. A
sorrowful compassion seemed to rebuke the glitter of the restless jewels, and the slow tears
rose in her eyes. She left her room sooner this evening than was her wont. Cosmo remained
alone, with a feeling as if his bosom had been suddenly left empty and hollow, and the weight
of the whole world was crushing in its walls. The next evening, for the first time since she
began to come, she came not.
And now Cosmo was in wretched plight. Since the thought of a rival had occurred to him,
he could not rest for a moment. More than ever he longed to see the lady face to face. He
persuaded himself that if he but knew the worst he would be satisfied; for then he could
abandon Prague, and find that relief in constant motion, which is the hope of all active minds
when invaded by distress. Meantime he waited with unspeakable anxiety for the next night,
hoping she would return: but she did not appear. And now he fell really ill. Rallied by his fellow
students on his wretched looks, he ceased to attend the lectures. His engagements were
neglected. He cared for nothing. The sky, with the great sun in it, was to him a heartless,
burning desert. The men and women in the streets were mere puppets, without motives in
themselves, or interest to him. He saw them all as on the ever-changing field of a camera
obscura. She — she alone and altogether — was his universe, his well of life, his incarnate
good. For six evenings she came not. Let his absorbing passion, and the slow fever that was
consuming his brain, be his excuse for the resolution which he had taken and begun to
execute, before that time had expired.
Reasoning with himself, that it must be by some enchantment connected with the mirror,
that the form of the lady was to be seen in it, he determined to attempt to turn to account
what he had hitherto studied principally from curiosity. “For,” said he to himself, “if a spell can
force her presence in that glass (and she came unwillingly at first), may not a stronger spell,
such as I know, especially with the aid of her half-presence in the mirror, if ever she appears
again, compel her living form to come to me here? If I do her wrong, let love be my excuse. I
want only to know my doom from her own lips.” He never doubted, all the time, that she was a
real earthly woman; or, rather, that there was a woman, who, somehow or other, threw this
reflection of her form into the magic mirror.
He opened his secret drawer, took out his books of magic, lighted his lamp, and read and
made notes from midnight till three in the morning, for three successive nights. Then he
replaced his books; and the next night went out in quest of the materials necessary for the
conjuration. These were not easy to find; for, in love-charms and all incantations of this
nature, ingredients are employed scarcely fit to be mentioned, and for the thought even ofwhich, in connexion with her, he could only excuse himself on the score of his bitter need. At
length he succeeded in procuring all he required; and on the seventh evening from that on
which she had last appeared, he found himself prepared for the exercise of unlawful and
tyrannical power.
He cleared the centre of the room; stooped and drew a circle of red on the floor, around
the spot where he stood; wrote in the four quarters mystical signs, and numbers which were
all powers of seven or nine; examined the whole ring carefully, to see that no smallest break
had occurred in the circumference; and then rose from his bending posture. As he rose, the
church clock struck seven; and, just as she had appeared the first time, reluctant, slow, and
stately, glided in the lady. Cosmo trembled; and when, turning, she revealed a countenance
worn and wan, as with sickness or inward trouble, he grew faint, and felt as if he dared not
proceed. But as he gazed on the face and form, which now possessed his whole soul, to the
exclusion of all other joys and griefs, the longing to speak to her, to know that she heard him,
to hear from her one word in return, became so unendurable, that he suddenly and hastily
resumed his preparations. Stepping carefully from the circle, he put a small brazier into its
centre. He then set fire to its contents of charcoal, and while it burned up, opened his window
and seated himself, waiting, beside it.
It was a sultry evening. The air was full of thunder. A sense of luxurious depression filled
the brain. The sky seemed to have grown heavy, and to compress the air beneath it. A kind of
purplish tinge pervaded the atmosphere, and through the open window came the scents of the
distant fields, which all the vapours of the city could not quench. Soon the charcoal glowed.
Cosmo sprinkled upon it the incense and other substances which he had compounded, and,
stepping within the circle, turned his face from the brazier and towards the mirror. Then, fixing
his eyes upon the face of the lady, he began with a trembling voice to repeat a powerful
incantation. He had not gone far, before the lady grew pale; and then, like a returning wave,
the blood washed all its banks with its crimson tide, and she hid her face in her hands. Then
he passed to a conjuration stronger yet.
The lady rose and walked uneasily to and fro in her room. Another spell; and she
seemed seeking with her eyes for some object on which they wished to rest. At length it
seemed as if she suddenly espied him; for her eyes fixed themselves full and wide upon his,
and she drew gradually, and somewhat unwillingly, close to her side of the mirror, just as if his
eyes had fascinated her. Cosmo had never seen her so near before. Now at least, eyes met
eyes; but he could not quite understand the expression of hers. They were full of tender
entreaty, but there was something more that he could not interpret. Though his heart seemed
to labour in his throat, he would allow no delight or agitation to turn him from his task. Looking
still in her face, he passed on to the mightiest charm he knew. Suddenly the lady turned and
walked out of the door of her reflected chamber. A moment after she entered his room with
veritable presence; and, forgetting all his precautions, he sprang from the charmed circle, and
knelt before her. There she stood, the living lady of his passionate visions, alone beside him,
in a thundery twilight, and the glow of a magic fire.
“Why,” said the lady, with a trembling voice, “didst thou bring a poor maiden through the
rainy streets alone?”
“Because I am dying for love of thee; but I only brought thee from the mirror there.”
“Ah, the mirror!” and she looked up at it, and shuddered. “Alas! I am but a slave, while
that mirror exists. But do not think it was the power of thy spells that drew me; it was thy
longing desire to see me, that beat at the door of my heart, till I was forced to yield.”
“Canst thou love me then?” said Cosmo, in a voice calm as death, but almost inarticulate
with emotion.
“I do not know,” she replied sadly; “that I cannot tell, so long as I am bewildered with
enchantments. It were indeed a joy too great, to lay my head on thy bosom and weep to
death; for I think thou lovest me, though I do not know; — but —”Cosmo rose from his knees.
“I love thee as — nay, I know not what — for since I have loved thee, there is nothing
He seized her hand: she withdrew it.
“No, better not; I am in thy power, and therefore I may not.”
She burst into tears, and kneeling before him in her turn, said —
“Cosmo, if thou lovest me, set me free, even from thyself; break the mirror.”
“And shall I see thyself instead?”
“That I cannot tell, I will not deceive thee; we may never meet again.”
A fierce struggle arose in Cosmo’s bosom. Now she was in his power. She did not dislike
him at least; and he could see her when he would. To break the mirror would be to destroy his
very life to banish out of his universe the only glory it possessed. The whole world would be
but a prison, if he annihilated the one window that looked into the paradise of love. Not yet
pure in love, he hesitated.
With a wail of sorrow the lady rose to her feet. “Ah! he loves me not; he loves me not
even as I love him; and alas! I care more for his love than even for the freedom I ask.”
“I will not wait to be willing,” cried Cosmo; and sprang to the corner where the great
sword stood.
Meantime it had grown very dark; only the embers cast a red glow through the room. He
seized the sword by the steel scabbard, and stood before the mirror; but as he heaved a
great blow at it with the heavy pommel, the blade slipped half-way out of the scabbard, and
the pommel struck the wall above the mirror. At that moment, a terrible clap of thunder
seemed to burst in the very room beside them; and ere Cosmo could repeat the blow, he fell
senseless on the hearth. When he came to himself, he found that the lady and the mirror had
both disappeared. He was seized with a brain fever, which kept him to his couch for weeks.
When he recovered his reason, he began to think what could have become of the mirror.
For the lady, he hoped she had found her way back as she came; but as the mirror involved
her fate with its own, he was more immediately anxious about that. He could not think she had
carried it away. It was much too heavy, even if it had not been too firmly fixed in the wall, for
her to remove it. Then again, he remembered the thunder; which made him believe that it was
not the lightning, but some other blow that had struck him down. He concluded that, either by
supernatural agency, he having exposed himself to the vengeance of the demons in leaving
the circle of safety, or in some other mode, the mirror had probably found its way back to its
former owner; and, horrible to think of, might have been by this time once more disposed of,
delivering up the lady into the power of another man; who, if he used his power no worse than
he himself had done, might yet give Cosmo abundant cause to curse the selfish indecision
which prevented him from shattering the mirror at once. Indeed, to think that she whom he
loved, and who had prayed to him for freedom, should be still at the mercy, in some degree,
of the possessor of the mirror, and was at least exposed to his constant observation, was in
itself enough to madden a chary lover.
Anxiety to be well retarded his recovery; but at length he was able to creep abroad. He
first made his way to the old broker’s, pretending to be in search of something else. A
laughing sneer on the creature’s face convinced him that he knew all about it; but he could not
see it amongst his furniture, or get any information out of him as to what had become of it. He
expressed the utmost surprise at hearing it had been stolen, a surprise which Cosmo saw at
once to be counterfeited; while, at the same time, he fancied that the old wretch was not at all
anxious to have it mistaken for genuine. Full of distress, which he concealed as well as he
could, he made many searches, but with no avail. Of course he could ask no questions; but
he kept his ears awake for any remotest hint that might set him in a direction of search. He
never went out without a short heavy hammer of steel about him, that he might shatter the
mirror the moment he was made happy by the sight of his lost treasure, if ever that blessedmoment should arrive. Whether he should see the lady again, was now a thought altogether
secondary, and postponed to the achievement of her freedom. He wandered here and there,
like an anxious ghost, pale and haggard; gnawed ever at the heart, by the thought of what she
might be suffering — all from his fault.
One night, he mingled with a crowd that filled the rooms of one of the most distinguished
mansions in the city; for he accepted every invitation, that he might lose no chance, however
poor, of obtaining some information that might expedite his discovery. Here he wandered
about, listening to every stray word that he could catch, in the hope of a revelation. As he
approached some ladies who were talking quietly in a corner, one said to another:
“Have you heard of the strange illness of the Princess von Hohenweiss?”
“Yes; she has been ill for more than a year now. It is very sad for so fine a creature to
have such a terrible malady. She was better for some weeks lately, but within the last few
days the same attacks have returned, apparently accompanied with more suffering than ever.
It is altogether an inexplicable story.”
“Is there a story connected with her illness?”
“I have only heard imperfect reports of it; but it is said that she gave offence some
eighteen months ago to an old woman who had held an office of trust in the family, and who,
after some incoherent threats, disappeared. This peculiar affection followed soon after. But
the strangest part of the story is its association with the loss of an antique mirror, which stood
in her dressing-room, and of which she constantly made use.”
Here the speaker’s voice sank to a whisper; and Cosmo, although his very soul sat
listening in his ears, could hear no more. He trembled too much to dare to address the ladies,
even if it had been advisable to expose himself to their curiosity. The name of the Princess
was well known to him, but he had never seen her; except indeed it was she, which now he
hardly doubted, who had knelt before him on that dreadful night. Fearful of attracting
attention, for, from the weak state of his health, he could not recover an appearance of
calmness, he made his way to the open air, and reached his lodgings; glad in this, that he at
least knew where she lived, although he never dreamed of approaching her openly, even if he
should be happy enough to free her from her hateful bondage. He hoped, too, that as he had
unexpectedly learned so much, the other and far more important part might be revealed to
him ere long.


“Have you seen Steinwald lately?”
“No, I have not seen him for some time. He is almost a match for me at the rapier, and I
suppose he thinks he needs no more lessons.”
“I wonder what has become of him. I want to see him very much. Let me see; the last
time I saw him he was coming out of that old broker’s den, to which, if you remember, you
accompanied me once, to look at some armour. That is fully three weeks ago.”
This hint was enough for Cosmo. Von Steinwald was a man of influence in the court, well
known for his reckless habits and fierce passions. The very possibility that the mirror should
be in his possession was hell itself to Cosmo. But violent or hasty measures of any sort were
most unlikely to succeed. All that he wanted was an opportunity of breaking the fatal glass;
and to obtain this he must bide his time. He revolved many plans in his mind, but without
being able to fix upon any.
At length, one evening, as he was passing the house of Von Steinwald, he saw the
windows more than usually brilliant. He watched for a while, and seeing that company began
to arrive, hastened home, and dressed as richly as he could, in the hope of mingling with the
guests unquestioned: in effecting which, there could be no difficulty for a man of his carriage.

In a lofty, silent chamber, in another part of the city, lay a form more like marble than a
living woman. The loveliness of death seemed frozen upon her face, for her lips were rigid,
and her eyelids closed. Her long white hands were crossed over her breast, and no breathing
disturbed their repose. Beside the dead, men speak in whispers, as if the deepest rest of all
could be broken by the sound of a living voice. Just so, though the soul was evidently beyond
the reach of all intimations from the senses, the two ladies, who sat beside her, spoke in the
gentlest tones of subdued sorrow. “She has lain so for an hour.”
“This cannot last long, I fear.”
“How much thinner she has grown within the last few weeks! If she would only speak,
and explain what she suffers, it would be better for her. I think she has visions in her trances,
but nothing can induce her to refer to them when she is awake.”
“Does she ever speak in these trances?”
“I have never heard her; but they say she walks sometimes, and once put the whole
household in a terrible fright by disappearing for a whole hour, and returning drenched with
rain, and almost dead with exhaustion and fright. But even then she would give no account of
what had happened.”
A scarce audible murmur from the yet motionless lips of the lady here startled her
attendants. After several ineffectual attempts at articulation, the word “Cosmo!” burst from
her. Then she lay still as before; but only for a moment. With a wild cry, she sprang from the
couch erect on the floor, flung her arms above her head, with clasped and straining hands,
and, her wide eyes flashing with light, called aloud, with a voice exultant as that of a spirit
bursting from a sepulchre, “I am free! I am free! I thank thee!” Then she flung herself on the
couch, and sobbed; then rose, and paced wildly up and down the room, with gestures of
mingled delight and anxiety. Then turning to her motionless attendants — “Quick, Lisa, my
cloak and hood!” Then lower — “I must go to him. Make haste, Lisa! You may come with me,
if you will.”
In another moment they were in the street, hurrying along towards one of the bridges
over the Moldau. The moon was near the zenith, and the streets were almost empty. The
Princess soon outstripped her attendant, and was half-way over the bridge, before the other
reached it.
“Are you free, lady? The mirror is broken: are you free?”
The words were spoken close beside her, as she hurried on. She turned; and there,
leaning on the parapet in a recess of the bridge, stood Cosmo, in a splendid dress, but with a
white and quivering face.
“Cosmo! — I am free — and thy servant for ever. I was coming to you now.”
“And I to you, for Death made me bold; but I could get no further. Have I atoned at all?
Do I love you a little — truly?”
“Ah, I know now that you love me, my Cosmo; but what do you say about death?”
He did not reply. His hand was pressed against his side. She looked more closely: the
blood was welling from between the fingers. She flung her arms around him with a faint bitter
When Lisa came up, she found her mistress kneeling above a wan dead face, which
smiled on in the spectral moonbeams.
And now I will say no more about these wondrous volumes; though I could tell many a
tale out of them, and could, perhaps, vaguely represent some entrancing thoughts of a
deeper kind which I found within them. From many a sultry noon till twilight, did I sit in that
grand hall, buried and risen again in these old books. And I trust I have carried away in my
soul some of the exhalations of their undying leaves. In after hours of deserved or needful
sorrow, portions of what I read there have often come to me again, with an unexpectedcomforting; which was not fruitless, even though the comfort might seem in itself groundless
and vain.
Chapter 14

Your gallery
Ha we pass’d through, not without much content
In many singularities; but we saw not
That which my daughter came to look upon,
The state of her mother.
—Winter’s Tale.

It seemed to me strange, that all this time I had heard no music in the fairy palace. I was
convinced there must be music in it, but that my sense was as yet too gross to receive the
influence of those mysterious motions that beget sound. Sometimes I felt sure, from the way
the few figures of which I got such transitory glimpses passed me, or glided into vacancy
before me, that they were moving to the law of music; and, in fact, several times I fancied for
a moment that I heard a few wondrous tones coming I knew not whence. But they did not last
long enough to convince me that I had heard them with the bodily sense. Such as they were,
however, they took strange liberties with me, causing me to burst suddenly into tears, of
which there was no presence to make me ashamed, or casting me into a kind of trance of
speechless delight, which, passing as suddenly, left me faint and longing for more.
Now, on an evening, before I had been a week in the palace, I was wandering through
one lighted arcade and corridor after another. At length I arrived, through a door that closed
behind me, in another vast hall of the palace. It was filled with a subdued crimson light; by
which I saw that slender pillars of black, built close to walls of white marble, rose to a great
height, and then, dividing into innumerable divergent arches, supported a roof, like the walls,
of white marble, upon which the arches intersected intricately, forming a fretting of black upon
the white, like the network of a skeleton-leaf. The floor was black.
Between several pairs of the pillars upon every side, the place of the wall behind was
occupied by a crimson curtain of thick silk, hanging in heavy and rich folds. Behind each of
these curtains burned a powerful light, and these were the sources of the glow that filled the
hall. A peculiar delicious odour pervaded the place. As soon as I entered, the old inspiration
seemed to return to me, for I felt a strong impulse to sing; or rather, it seemed as if some one
else was singing a song in my soul, which wanted to come forth at my lips, imbodied in my
breath. But I kept silence; and feeling somewhat overcome by the red light and the perfume,
as well as by the emotion within me, and seeing at one end of the hall a great crimson chair,
more like a throne than a chair, beside a table of white marble, I went to it, and, throwing
myself in it, gave myself up to a succession of images of bewildering beauty, which passed
before my inward eye, in a long and occasionally crowded train. Here I sat for hours, I
suppose; till, returning somewhat to myself, I saw that the red light had paled away, and felt a
cool gentle breath gliding over my forehead. I rose and left the hall with unsteady steps,
finding my way with some difficulty to my own chamber, and faintly remembering, as I went,
that only in the marble cave, before I found the sleeping statue, had I ever had a similar
After this, I repaired every morning to the same hall; where I sometimes sat in the chair
and dreamed deliciously, and sometimes walked up and down over the black floor. Sometimes
I acted within myself a whole drama, during one of these perambulations; sometimes walked
deliberately through the whole epic of a tale; sometimes ventured to sing a song, though with
a shrinking fear of I knew not what. I was astonished at the beauty of my own voice as it rang
through the place, or rather crept undulating, like a serpent of sound, along the walls and roof
of this superb music-hall. Entrancing verses arose within me as of their own accord, chanting
themselves to their own melodies, and requiring no addition of music to satisfy the inwardsense. But, ever in the pauses of these, when the singing mood was upon me, I seemed to
hear something like the distant sound of multitudes of dancers, and felt as if it was the
unheard music, moving their rhythmic motion, that within me blossomed in verse and song. I
felt, too, that could I but see the dance, I should, from the harmony of complicated
movements, not of the dancers in relation to each other merely, but of each dancer
individually in the manifested plastic power that moved the consenting harmonious form,
understand the whole of the music on the billows of which they floated and swung.
At length, one night, suddenly, when this feeling of dancing came upon me, I bethought
me of lifting one of the crimson curtains, and looking if, perchance, behind it there might not
be hid some other mystery, which might at least remove a step further the bewilderment of
the present one. Nor was I altogether disappointed. I walked to one of the magnificent
draperies, lifted a corner, and peeped in. There, burned a great, crimson, globe-shaped light,
high in the cubical centre of another hall, which might be larger or less than that in which I
stood, for its dimensions were not easily perceived, seeing that floor and roof and walls were
entirely of black marble.
The roof was supported by the same arrangement of pillars radiating in arches, as that of
the first hall; only, here, the pillars and arches were of dark red. But what absorbed my
delighted gaze, was an innumerable assembly of white marble statues, of every form, and in
multitudinous posture, filling the hall throughout. These stood, in the ruddy glow of the great
lamp, upon pedestals of jet black. Around the lamp shone in golden letters, plainly legible from
where I stood, the two words —

Touch not!

There was in all this, however, no solution to the sound of dancing; and now I was aware
that the influence on my mind had ceased. I did not go in that evening, for I was weary and
faint, but I hoarded up the expectation of entering, as of a great coming joy.
Next night I walked, as on the preceding, through the hall. My mind was filled with
pictures and songs, and therewith so much absorbed, that I did not for some time think of
looking within the curtain I had last night lifted. When the thought of doing so occurred to me
first, I happened to be within a few yards of it. I became conscious, at the same moment, that
the sound of dancing had been for some time in my ears. I approached the curtain quickly,
and, lifting it, entered the black hall. Everything was still as death. I should have concluded
that the sound must have proceeded from some other more distant quarter, which conclusion
its faintness would, in ordinary circumstances, have necessitated from the first; but there was
a something about the statues that caused me still to remain in doubt. As I said, each stood
perfectly still upon its black pedestal: but there was about every one a certain air, not of
motion, but as if it had just ceased from movement; as if the rest were not altogether of the
marbly stillness of thousands of years. It was as if the peculiar atmosphere of each had yet a
kind of invisible tremulousness; as if its agitated wavelets had not yet subsided into a perfect
calm. I had the suspicion that they had anticipated my appearance, and had sprung, each,
from the living joy of the dance, to the death-silence and blackness of its isolated pedestal,
just before I entered. I walked across the central hall to the curtain opposite the one I had
lifted, and, entering there, found all the appearances similar; only that the statues were
different, and differently grouped. Neither did they produce on my mind that impression — of
motion just expired, which I had experienced from the others. I found that behind every one of
the crimson curtains was a similar hall, similarly lighted, and similarly occupied.
The next night, I did not allow my thoughts to be absorbed as before with inward images,
but crept stealthily along to the furthest curtain in the hall, from behind which, likewise, I had
formerly seemed to hear the sound of dancing. I drew aside its edge as suddenly as I could,
and, looking in, saw that the utmost stillness pervaded the vast place. I walked in, and passedthrough it to the other end.
There I found that it communicated with a circular corridor, divided from it only by two
rows of red columns. This corridor, which was black, with red niches holding statues, ran
entirely about the statue-halls, forming a communication between the further ends of them all;
further, that is, as regards the central hall of white whence they all diverged like radii, finding
their circumference in the corridor.
Round this corridor I now went, entering all the halls, of which there were twelve, and
finding them all similarly constructed, but filled with quite various statues, of what seemed both
ancient and modern sculpture. After I had simply walked through them, I found myself
sufficiently tired to long for rest, and went to my own room.
In the night I dreamed that, walking close by one of the curtains, I was suddenly seized
with the desire to enter, and darted in. This time I was too quick for them. All the statues were
in motion, statues no longer, but men and women — all shapes of beauty that ever sprang
from the brain of the sculptor, mingled in the convolutions of a complicated dance. Passing
through them to the further end, I almost started from my sleep on beholding, not taking part
in the dance with the others, nor seemingly endued with life like them, but standing in marble
coldness and rigidity upon a black pedestal in the extreme left corner — my lady of the cave;
the marble beauty who sprang from her tomb or her cradle at the call of my songs. While I
gazed in speechless astonishment and admiration, a dark shadow, descending from above
like the curtain of a stage, gradually hid her entirely from my view. I felt with a shudder that
this shadow was perchance my missing demon, whom I had not seen for days. I awoke with a
stifled cry.
Of course, the next evening I began my journey through the halls (for I knew not to which
my dream had carried me), in the hope of proving the dream to be a true one, by discovering
my marble beauty upon her black pedestal. At length, on reaching the tenth hall, I thought I
recognised some of the forms I had seen dancing in my dream; and to my bewilderment,
when I arrived at the extreme corner on the left, there stood, the only one I had yet seen, a
vacant pedestal. It was exactly in the position occupied, in my dream, by the pedestal on
which the white lady stood. Hope beat violently in my heart.
“Now,” said I to myself, “if yet another part of the dream would but come true, and I
should succeed in surprising these forms in their nightly dance; it might be the rest would
follow, and I should see on the pedestal my marble queen. Then surely if my songs sufficed to
give her life before, when she lay in the bonds of alabaster, much more would they be
sufficient then to give her volition and motion, when she alone of assembled crowds of marble
forms, would be standing rigid and cold.”
But the difficulty was, to surprise the dancers. I had found that a premeditated attempt at
surprise, though executed with the utmost care and rapidity, was of no avail. And, in my
dream, it was effected by a sudden thought suddenly executed. I saw, therefore, that there
was no plan of operation offering any probability of success, but this: to allow my mind to be
occupied with other thoughts, as I wandered around the great centre-hall; and so wait till the
impulse to enter one of the others should happen to arise in me just at the moment when I
was close to one of the crimson curtains. For I hoped that if I entered any one of the twelve
halls at the right moment, that would as it were give me the right of entrance to all the others,
seeing they all had communication behind. I would not diminish the hope of the right chance,
by supposing it necessary that a desire to enter should awake within me, precisely when I was
close to the curtains of the tenth hall.
At first the impulses to see recurred so continually, in spite of the crowded imagery that
kept passing through my mind, that they formed too nearly a continuous chain, for the hope
that any one of them would succeed as a surprise. But as I persisted in banishing them, they
recurred less and less often; and after two or three, at considerable intervals, had come when
the spot where I happened to be was unsuitable, the hope strengthened, that soon one mightarise just at the right moment; namely, when, in walking round the hall, I should be close to
one of the curtains.
At length the right moment and the impulse coincided. I darted into the ninth hall. It was
full of the most exquisite moving forms. The whole space wavered and swam with the
involutions of an intricate dance. It seemed to break suddenly as I entered, and all made one
or two bounds towards their pedestals; but, apparently on finding that they were thoroughly
overtaken, they returned to their employment (for it seemed with them earnest enough to be
called such) without further heeding me. Somewhat impeded by the floating crowd, I made
what haste I could towards the bottom of the hall; whence, entering the corridor, I turned
towards the tenth. I soon arrived at the corner I wanted to reach, for the corridor was
comparatively empty; but, although the dancers here, after a little confusion, altogether
disregarded my presence, I was dismayed at beholding, even yet, a vacant pedestal. But I
had a conviction that she was near me. And as I looked at the pedestal, I thought I saw upon
it, vaguely revealed as if through overlapping folds of drapery, the indistinct outlines of white
feet. Yet there was no sign of drapery or concealing shadow whatever. But I remembered the
descending shadow in my dream. And I hoped still in the power of my songs; thinking that
what could dispel alabaster, might likewise be capable of dispelling what concealed my beauty
now, even if it were the demon whose darkness had overshadowed all my life.
Chapter 15

Alexander. ‘When will you finish Campaspe?’
Apelles. ‘Never finish: for always in absolute beauty there is
somewhat above art.’
—Lyly’s Campaspe.

And now, what song should I sing to unveil my Isis, if indeed she was present unseen? I
hurried away to the white hall of Phantasy, heedless of the innumerable forms of beauty that
crowded my way: these might cross my eyes, but the unseen filled my brain. I wandered long,
up and down the silent space: no songs came. My soul was not still enough for songs. Only in
the silence and darkness of the soul’s night, do those stars of the inward firmament sink to its
lower surface from the singing realms beyond, and shine upon the conscious spirit. Here all
effort was unavailing. If they came not, they could not be found.
Next night, it was just the same. I walked through the red glimmer of the silent hall; but
lonely as there I walked, as lonely trod my soul up and down the halls of the brain. At last I
entered one of the statue-halls. The dance had just commenced, and I was delighted to find
that I was free of their assembly. I walked on till I came to the sacred corner. There I found
the pedestal just as I had left it, with the faint glimmer as of white feet still resting on the dead
black. As soon as I saw it, I seemed to feel a presence which longed to become visible; and,
as it were, called to me to gift it with self-manifestation, that it might shine on me. The power
of song came to me. But the moment my voice, though I sang low and soft, stirred the air of
the hall, the dancers started; the quick interweaving crowd shook, lost its form, divided; each
figure sprang to its pedestal, and stood, a self-evolving life no more, but a rigid, life-like,
marble shape, with the whole form composed into the expression of a single state or act.
Silence rolled like a spiritual thunder through the grand space. My song had ceased, scared at
its own influences. But I saw in the hand of one of the statues close by me, a harp whose
chords yet quivered. I remembered that as she bounded past me, her harp had brushed
against my arm; so the spell of the marble had not infolded it. I sprang to her, and with a
gesture of entreaty, laid my hand on the harp. The marble hand, probably from its contact
with the uncharmed harp, had strength enough to relax its hold, and yield the harp to me. No
other motion indicated life. Instinctively I struck the chords and sang. And not to break upon
the record of my song, I mention here, that as I sang the first four lines, the loveliest feet
became clear upon the black pedestal; and ever as I sang, it was as if a veil were being lifted
up from before the form, but an invisible veil, so that the statue appeared to grow before me,
not so much by evolution, as by infinitesimal degrees of added height. And, while I sang, I did
not feel that I stood by a statue, as indeed it appeared to be, but that a real woman-soul was
revealing itself by successive stages of imbodiment, and consequent manifestatlon and

Feet of beauty, firmly planting
Arches white on rosy heel!
Whence the life-spring, throbbing, panting,
Pulses upward to reveal!
Fairest things know least despising;
Foot and earth meet tenderly:
‘Tis the woman, resting, rising
Upward to sublimity,
Rise the limbs, sedately sloping,
Strong and gentle, full and free;Soft and slow, like certain hoping,
Drawing nigh the broad firm knee.
Up to speech! As up to roses
Pants the life from leaf to flower,
So each blending change discloses,
Nearer still, expression’s power.

Lo! fair sweeps, white surges, twining
Up and outward fearlessly!
Temple columns, close combining,
Lift a holy mystery.
Heart of mine! what strange surprises
Mount aloft on such a stair!
Some great vision upward rises,
Curving, bending, floating fair.

Bands and sweeps, and hill and hollow
Lead my fascinated eye;
Some apocalypse will follow,
Some new world of deity.
Zoned unseen, and outward swelling,
With new thoughts and wonders rife,
Queenly majesty foretelling,
See the expanding house of life!

Sudden heaving, unforbidden
Sighs eternal, still the same —
Mounts of snow have summits hidden
In the mists of uttered flame.
But the spirit, dawning nearly
Finds no speech for earnest pain;
Finds a soundless sighing merely —
Builds its stairs, and mounts again.

Heart, the queen, with secret hoping,
Sendeth out her waiting pair;
Hands, blind hands, half blindly groping,
Half inclasping visions rare;
And the great arms, heartways bending;
Might of Beauty, drawing home
There returning, and re-blending,
Where from roots of love they roam.

Build thy slopes of radiance beamy
Spirit, fair with womanhood!
Tower thy precipice, white-gleamy,
Climb unto the hour of good.
Dumb space will be rent asunder,
Now the shining column stands
Ready to be crowned with wonder
By the builder’s joyous hands.
All the lines abroad are spreading,
Like a fountain’s falling race.
Lo, the chin, first feature, treading,
Airy foot to rest the face!
Speech is nigh; oh, see the blushing,
Sweet approach of lip and breath!
Round the mouth dim silence, hushing,
Waits to die ecstatic death.

Span across in treble curving,
Bow of promise, upper lip!
Set them free, with gracious swerving;
Let the wing-words float and dip.
Dumb art thou? O Love immortal,
More than words thy speech must be;
Childless yet the tender portal
Of the home of melody.

Now the nostrils open fearless,
Proud in calm unconsciousness,
Sure it must be something peerless
That the great Pan would express!
Deepens, crowds some meaning tender,
In the pure, dear lady-face.
Lo, a blinding burst of splendour! —
‘Tis the free soul’s issuing grace.

Two calm lakes of molten glory
Circling round unfathomed deeps!
Lightning-flashes, transitory,
Cross the gulfs where darkness sleeps.
This the gate, at last, of gladness,
To the outward striving me:
In a rain of light and sadness,
Out its loves and longings flee!

With a presence I am smitten
Dumb, with a foreknown surprise;
Presence greater yet than written
Even in the glorious eyes.
Through the gulfs, with inward gazes,
I may look till I am lost;
Wandering deep in spirit-mazes,
In a sea without a coast.

Windows open to the glorious!
Time and space, oh, far beyond!
Woman, ah! thou art victorious,
And I perish, overfond.
Springs aloft the yet UnspokenIn the forehead’s endless grace,
Full of silences unbroken;
Infinite, unfeatured face.

Domes above, the mount of wonder;
Height and hollow wrapt in night;
Hiding in its caverns under
Woman-nations in their might.
Passing forms, the highest Human
Faints away to the Divine
Features none, of man or woman,
Can unveil the holiest shine.

Sideways, grooved porches only
Visible to passing eye,
Stand the silent, doorless, lonely
Entrance-gates of melody.
But all sounds fly in as boldly,
Groan and song, and kiss and cry
At their galleries, lifted coldly,
Darkly, ‘twixt the earth and sky.

Beauty, thou art spent, thou knowest
So, in faint, half-glad despair,
From the summit thou o’erflowest
In a fall of torrent hair;
Hiding what thou hast created
In a half-transparent shroud:
Thus, with glory soft-abated,
Shines the moon through vapoury cloud.
Chapter 16

Ev’n the Styx, which ninefold her infoldeth
Hems not Ceres’ daughter in its flow;
But she grasps the apple — ever holdeth
Her, sad Orcus, down below.
—Schiller, Das Ideal und das Leben.

Ever as I sang, the veil was uplifted; ever as I sang, the signs of life grew; till, when the
eyes dawned upon me, it was with that sunrise of splendour which my feeble song attempted
to re-imbody.
The wonder is, that I was not altogether overcome, but was able to complete my song as
the unseen veil continued to rise. This ability came solely from the state of mental elevation in
which I found myself. Only because uplifted in song, was I able to endure the blaze of the
dawn. But I cannot tell whether she looked more of statue or more of woman; she seemed
removed into that region of phantasy where all is intensely vivid, but nothing clearly defined. At
last, as I sang of her descending hair, the glow of soul faded away, like a dying sunset. A
lamp within had been extinguished, and the house of life shone blank in a winter morn. She
was a statue once more — but visible, and that was much gained. Yet the revulsion from
hope and fruition was such, that, unable to restrain myself, I sprang to her, and, in defiance of
the law of the place, flung my arms around her, as if I would tear her from the grasp of a
visible Death, and lifted her from the pedestal down to my heart. But no sooner had her feet
ceased to be in contact with the black pedestal, than she shuddered and trembled all over;
then, writhing from my arms, before I could tighten their hold, she sprang into the corridor,
with the reproachful cry, “You should not have touched me!” darted behind one of the exterior
pillars of the circle, and disappeared. I followed almost as fast; but ere I could reach the pillar,
the sound of a closing door, the saddest of all sounds sometimes, fell on my ear; and, arriving
at the spot where she had vanished, I saw, lighted by a pale yellow lamp which hung above it,
a heavy, rough door, altogether unlike any others I had seen in the palace; for they were all of
ebony, or ivory, or covered with silver-plates, or of some odorous wood, and very ornate;
whereas this seemed of old oak, with heavy nails and iron studs. Notwithstanding the
precipitation of my pursuit, I could not help reading, in silver letters beneath the lamp: “No one
enters here without the leave of the Queen.” But what was the Queen to me, when I followed
my white lady? I dashed the door to the wall and sprang through. Lo! I stood on a waste windy
hill. Great stones like tombstones stood all about me. No door, no palace was to be seen. A
white figure gleamed past me, wringing her hands, and crying, “Ah! you should have sung to
me; you should have sung to me!” and disappeared behind one of the stones. I followed. A
cold gust of wind met me from behind the stone; and when I looked, I saw nothing but a great
hole in the earth, into which I could find no way of entering. Had she fallen in? I could not tell. I
must wait for the daylight. I sat down and wept, for there was no help.
Chapter 17

First, I thought, almost despairing,
This must crush my spirit now;
Yet I bore it, and am bearing —
Only do not ask me how.

When the daylight came, it brought the possibility of action, but with it little of consolation.
With the first visible increase of light, I gazed into the chasm, but could not, for more than an
hour, see sufficiently well to discover its nature. At last I saw it was almost a perpendicular
opening, like a roughly excavated well, only very large. I could perceive no bottom; and it was
not till the sun actually rose, that I discovered a sort of natural staircase, in many parts little
more than suggested, which led round and round the gulf, descending spirally into its abyss. I
saw at once that this was my path; and without a moment’s hesitation, glad to quit the
sunlight, which stared at me most heartlessly, I commenced my tortuous descent. It was very
difficult. In some parts I had to cling to the rocks like a bat. In one place, I dropped from the
track down upon the next returning spire of the stair; which being broad in this particular
portion, and standing out from the wall at right angles, received me upon my feet safe, though
somewhat stupefied by the shock. After descending a great way, I found the stair ended at a
narrow opening which entered the rock horizontally. Into this I crept, and, having entered, had
just room to turn round. I put my head out into the shaft by which I had come down, and
surveyed the course of my descent. Looking up, I saw the stars; although the sun must by
this time have been high in the heavens. Looking below, I saw that the sides of the shaft went
sheer down, smooth as glass; and far beneath me, I saw the reflection of the same stars I
had seen in the heavens when I looked up. I turned again, and crept inwards some distance,
when the passage widened, and I was at length able to stand and walk upright. Wider and
loftier grew the way; new paths branched off on every side; great open halls appeared; till at
last I found myself wandering on through an underground country, in which the sky was of
rock, and instead of trees and flowers, there were only fantastic rocks and stones. And ever
as I went, darker grew my thoughts, till at last I had no hope whatever of finding the white
lady: I no longer called her to myself my white lady. Whenever a choice was necessary, I
always chose the path which seemed to lead downwards.
At length I began to find that these regions were inhabited. From behind a rock a peal of
harsh grating laughter, full of evil humour, rang through my ears, and, looking round, I saw a
queer, goblin creature, with a great head and ridiculous features, just such as those
described, in German histories and travels, as Kobolds. “What do you want with me?” I said.
He pointed at me with a long forefinger, very thick at the root, and sharpened to a point, and
answered, “He! he! he! what do you want here?” Then, changing his tone, he continued, with
mock humility — “Honoured sir, vouchsafe to withdraw from thy slaves the lustre of thy august
presence, for thy slaves cannot support its brightness.” A second appeared, and struck in:
“You are so big, you keep the sun from us. We can’t see for you, and we’re so cold.”
Thereupon arose, on all sides, the most terrific uproar of laughter, from voices like those of
children in volume, but scrannel and harsh as those of decrepit age, though, unfortunately,
without its weakness. The whole pandemonium of fairy devils, of all varieties of fantastic
ugliness, both in form and feature, and of all sizes from one to four feet, seemed to have
suddenly assembled about me. At length, after a great babble of talk among themselves, in a
language unknown to me, and after seemingly endless gesticulation, consultation,
elbownudging, and unmitigated peals of laughter, they formed into a circle about one of their
number, who scrambled upon a stone, and, much to my surprise, and somewhat to mydismay, began to sing, in a voice corresponding in its nature to his talking one, from beginning
to end, the song with which I had brought the light into the eyes of the white lady. He sang the
same air too; and, all the time, maintained a face of mock entreaty and worship;
accompanying the song with the travestied gestures of one playing on the lute. The whole
assembly kept silence, except at the close of every verse, when they roared, and danced, and
shouted with laughter, and flung themselves on the ground, in real or pretended convulsions
of delight. When he had finished, the singer threw himself from the top of the stone, turning
heels over head several times in his descent; and when he did alight, it was on the top of his
head, on which he hopped about, making the most grotesque gesticulations with his legs in
the air. Inexpressible laughter followed, which broke up in a shower of tiny stones from
innumerable hands. They could not materially injure me, although they cut me on the head
and face. I attempted to run away, but they all rushed upon me, and, laying hold of every part
that afforded a grasp, held me tight. Crowding about me like bees, they shouted an
insectswarm of exasperating speeches up into my face, among which the most frequently recurring
were — “You shan’t have her; you shan’t have her; he! he! he! She’s for a better man; how
he’ll kiss her! how he’ll kiss her!”
The galvanic torrent of this battery of malevolence stung to life within me a spark of
nobleness, and I said aloud, “Well, if he is a better man, let him have her.”
They instantly let go their hold of me, and fell back a step or two, with a whole broadside
of grunts and humphs, as of unexpected and disappointed approbation. I made a step or two
forward, and a lane was instantly opened for me through the midst of the grinning little antics,
who bowed most politely to me on every side as I passed. After I had gone a few yards, I
looked back, and saw them all standing quite still, looking after me, like a great school of boys;
till suddenly one turned round, and with a loud whoop, rushed into the midst of the others. In
an instant, the whole was one writhing and tumbling heap of contortion, reminding me of the
live pyramids of intertwined snakes of which travellers make report. As soon as one was
worked out of the mass, he bounded off a few paces, and then, with a somersault and a run,
threw himself gyrating into the air, and descended with all his weight on the summit of the
heaving and struggling chaos of fantastic figures. I left them still busy at this fierce and
apparently aimless amusement. And as I went, I sang —

If a nobler waits for thee,
I will weep aside;
It is well that thou should’st be,
Of the nobler, bride.

For if love builds up the home,
Where the heart is free,
Homeless yet the heart must roam,
That has not found thee.

One must suffer: I, for her
Yield in her my part
Take her, thou art worthier —
Still I be still, my heart!

Gift ungotten! largess high
Of a frustrate will!
But to yield it lovingly
Is a something still.
Then a little song arose of itself in my soul; and I felt for the moment, while it sank sadly
within me, as if I was once more walking up and down the white hall of Phantasy in the Fairy
Palace. But this lasted no longer than the song; as will be seen.

Do not vex thy violet
Perfume to afford:
Else no odour thou wilt get
From its little hoard.

In thy lady’s gracious eyes
Look not thou too long;
Else from them the glory flies,
And thou dost her wrong.

Come not thou too near the maid,
Clasp her not too wild;
Else the splendour is allayed,
And thy heart beguiled.

A crash of laughter, more discordant and deriding than any I had yet heard, invaded my
ears. Looking on in the direction of the sound, I saw a little elderly woman, much taller,
however, than the goblins I had just left, seated upon a stone by the side of the path. She
rose, as I drew near, and came forward to meet me.
She was very plain and commonplace in appearance, without being hideously ugly.
Looking up in my face with a stupid sneer, she said: “Isn’t it a pity you haven’t a pretty girl to
walk all alone with you through this sweet country? How different everything would look?
wouldn’t it? Strange that one can never have what one would like best! How the roses would
bloom and all that, even in this infernal hole! wouldn’t they, Anodos? Her eyes would light up
the old cave, wouldn’t they?”
“That depends on who the pretty girl should be,” replied I.
“Not so very much matter that,” she answered; “look here.”
I had turned to go away as I gave my reply, but now I stopped and looked at her. As a
rough unsightly bud might suddenly blossom into the most lovely flower; or rather, as a
sunbeam bursts through a shapeless cloud, and transfigures the earth; so burst a face of
resplendent beauty, as it were through the unsightly visage of the woman, destroying it with
light as it dawned through it. A summer sky rose above me, gray with heat; across a shining
slumberous landscape, looked from afar the peaks of snow-capped mountains; and down
from a great rock beside me fell a sheet of water mad with its own delight.
“Stay with me,” she said, lifting up her exquisite face, and looking full in mine.
I drew back. Again the infernal laugh grated upon my ears; again the rocks closed in
around me, and the ugly woman looked at me with wicked, mocking hazel eyes.
“You shall have your reward,” said she. “You shall see your white lady again.”
“That lies not with you,” I replied, and turned and left her.
She followed me with shriek upon shriek of laughter, as I went on my way.
I may mention here, that although there was always light enough to see my path and a
few yards on every side of me, I never could find out the source of this sad sepulchral
Chapter 18

In the wind’s uproar, the sea’s raging grim,
And the sighs that are born in him.

From dreams of bliss shall men awake
One day, but not to weep:
The dreams remain; they only break
The mirror of the sleep.
—Jean Paul, Hesperus.

How I got through this dreary part of my travels, I do not know. I do not think I was
upheld by the hope that any moment the light might break in upon me; for I scarcely thought
about that. I went on with a dull endurance, varied by moments of uncontrollable sadness; for
more and more the conviction grew upon me that I should never see the white lady again. It
may seem strange that one with whom I had held so little communion should have so
engrossed my thoughts; but benefits conferred awaken love in some minds, as surely as
benefits received in others. Besides being delighted and proud that my songs had called the
beautiful creature to life, the same fact caused me to feel a tenderness unspeakable for her,
accompanied with a kind of feeling of property in her; for so the goblin Selfishness would
reward the angel Love. When to all this is added, an overpowering sense of her beauty, and
an unquestioning conviction that this was a true index to inward loveliness, it may be
understood how it came to pass that my imagination filled my whole soul with the play of its
own multitudinous colours and harmonies around the form which yet stood, a gracious marble
radiance, in the midst of its white hall of phantasy. The time passed by unheeded; for my
thoughts were busy. Perhaps this was also in part the cause of my needing no food, and
never thinking how I should find any, during this subterraneous part of my travels. How long
they endured I could not tell, for I had no means of measuring time; and when I looked back,
there was such a discrepancy between the decisions of my imagination and my judgment, as
to the length of time that had passed, that I was bewildered, and gave up all attempts to arrive
at any conclusion on the point.
A gray mist continually gathered behind me. When I looked back towards the past, this
mist was the medium through which my eyes had to strain for a vision of what had gone by;
and the form of the white lady had receded into an unknown region. At length the country of
rock began to close again around me, gradually and slowly narrowing, till I found myself
walking in a gallery of rock once more, both sides of which I could touch with my outstretched
hands. It narrowed yet, until I was forced to move carefully, in order to avoid striking against
the projecting pieces of rock. The roof sank lower and lower, until I was compelled, first to
stoop, and then to creep on my hands and knees. It recalled terrible dreams of childhood; but
I was not much afraid, because I felt sure that this was my path, and my only hope of leaving
Fairy Land, of which I was now almost weary.
At length, on getting past an abrupt turn in the passage, through which I had to force
myself, I saw, a few yards ahead of me, the long-forgotten daylight shining through a small
opening, to which the path, if path it could now be called, led me. With great difficulty I
accomplished these last few yards, and came forth to the day. I stood on the shore of a wintry
sea, with a wintry sun just a few feet above its horizon-edge. It was bare, and waste, and
gray. Hundreds of hopeless waves rushed constantly shorewards, falling exhausted upon a
beach of great loose stones, that seemed to stretch miles and miles in both directions. There
was nothing for the eye but mingling shades of gray; nothing for the ear but the rush of thecoming, the roar of the breaking, and the moan of the retreating wave. No rock lifted up a
sheltering severity above the dreariness around; even that from which I had myself emerged
rose scarcely a foot above the opening by which I had reached the dismal day, more dismal
even than the tomb I had left. A cold, death-like wind swept across the shore, seeming to
issue from a pale mouth of cloud upon the horizon. Sign of life was nowhere visible. I
wandered over the stones, up and down the beach, a human imbodiment of the nature
around me. The wind increased; its keen waves flowed through my soul; the foam rushed
higher up the stones; a few dead stars began to gleam in the east; the sound of the waves
grew louder and yet more despairing. A dark curtain of cloud was lifted up, and a pale blue
rent shone between its foot and the edge of the sea, out from which rushed an icy storm of
frozen wind, that tore the waters into spray as it passed, and flung the billows in raving heaps
upon the desolate shore. I could bear it no longer.
“I will not be tortured to death,” I cried; “I will meet it half-way. The life within me is yet
enough to bear me up to the face of Death, and then I die unconquered.”
Before it had grown so dark, I had observed, though without any particular interest, that
on one part of the shore a low platform of rock seemed to run out far into the midst of the
breaking waters.
Towards this I now went, scrambling over smooth stones, to which scarce even a particle
of sea-weed clung; and having found it, I got on it, and followed its direction, as near as I
could guess, out into the tumbling chaos. I could hardly keep my feet against the wind and
sea. The waves repeatedly all but swept me off my path; but I kept on my way, till I reached
the end of the low promontory, which, in the fall of the waves, rose a good many feet above
the surface, and, in their rise, was covered with their waters. I stood one moment and gazed
into the heaving abyss beneath me; then plunged headlong into the mounting wave below. A
blessing, like the kiss of a mother, seemed to alight on my soul; a calm, deeper than that
which accompanies a hope deferred, bathed my spirit. I sank far into the waters, and sought
not to return. I felt as if once more the great arms of the beech-tree were around me,
soothing me after the miseries I had passed through, and telling me, like a little sick child, that
I should be better to-morrow. The waters of themselves lifted me, as with loving arms, to the
surface. I breathed again, but did not unclose my eyes. I would not look on the wintry sea,
and the pitiless gray sky. Thus I floated, till something gently touched me. It was a little boat
floating beside me. How it came there I could not tell; but it rose and sank on the waters, and
kept touching me in its fall, as if with a human will to let me know that help was by me. It was
a little gay-coloured boat, seemingly covered with glistering scales like those of a fish, all of
brilliant rainbow hues. I scrambled into it, and lay down in the bottom, with a sense of
exquisite repose.
Then I drew over me a rich, heavy, purple cloth that was beside me; and, lying still,
knew, by the sound of the waters, that my little bark was fleeting rapidly onwards. Finding,
however, none of that stormy motion which the sea had manifested when I beheld it from the
shore, I opened my eyes; and, looking first up, saw above me the deep violet sky of a warm
southern night; and then, lifting my head, saw that I was sailing fast upon a summer sea, in
the last border of a southern twilight. The aureole of the sun yet shot the extreme faint tips of
its longest rays above the horizon-waves, and withdrew them not. It was a perpetual twilight.
The stars, great and earnest, like children’s eyes, bent down lovingly towards the waters; and
the reflected stars within seemed to float up, as if longing to meet their embraces. But when I
looked down, a new wonder met my view. For, vaguely revealed beneath the wave, I floated
above my whole Past. The fields of my childhood flitted by; the halls of my youthful labours;
the streets of great cities where I had dwelt; and the assemblies of men and women wherein I
had wearied myself seeking for rest. But so indistinct were the visions, that sometimes I
thought I was sailing on a shallow sea, and that strange rocks and forests of sea-plants
beguiled my eye, sufficiently to be transformed, by the magic of the phantasy, into well-knownobjects and regions. Yet, at times, a beloved form seemed to lie close beneath me in sleep;
and the eyelids would tremble as if about to forsake the conscious eye; and the arms would
heave upwards, as if in dreams they sought for a satisfying presence. But these motions
might come only from the heaving of the waters between those forms and me. Soon I fell
asleep, overcome with fatigue and delight. In dreams of unspeakable joy — of restored
friendships; of revived embraces; of love which said it had never died; of faces that had
vanished long ago, yet said with smiling lips that they knew nothing of the grave; of pardons
implored, and granted with such bursting floods of love, that I was almost glad I had sinned —
thus I passed through this wondrous twilight. I awoke with the feeling that I had been kissed
and loved to my heart’s content; and found that my boat was floating motionless by the grassy
shore of a little island.
Chapter 19

In still rest, in changeless simplicity, I bear,
uninterrupted, the consciousness of the whole of Humanity
within me.
—Schleiermachers, Monologen.

...such a sweetness, such a grace,
In all thy speech appear,
That what to th’eye a beauteous face,
That thy tongue is to the ear.

The water was deep to the very edge; and I sprang from the little boat upon a soft
grassy turf. The island seemed rich with a profusion of all grasses and low flowers. All delicate
lowly things were most plentiful; but no trees rose skywards, not even a bush overtopped the
tall grasses, except in one place near the cottage I am about to describe, where a few plants
of the gum-cistus, which drops every night all the blossoms that the day brings forth, formed a
kind of natural arbour. The whole island lay open to the sky and sea. It rose nowhere more
than a few feet above the level of the waters, which flowed deep all around its border. Here
there seemed to be neither tide nor storm. A sense of persistent calm and fulness arose in
the mind at the sight of the slow, pulse-like rise and fall of the deep, clear, unrippled waters
against the bank of the island, for shore it could hardly be called, being so much more like the
edge of a full, solemn river. As I walked over the grass towards the cottage, which stood at a
little distance from the bank, all the flowers of childhood looked at me with perfect child-eyes
out of the grass. My heart, softened by the dreams through which it had passed, overflowed
in a sad, tender love towards them. They looked to me like children impregnably fortified in a
helpless confidence. The sun stood half-way down the western sky, shining very soft and
golden; and there grew a second world of shadows amidst the world of grasses and wild
The cottage was square, with low walls, and a high pyramidal roof thatched with long
reeds, of which the withered blossoms hung over all the eaves. It is noticeable that most of
the buildings I saw in Fairy Land were cottages. There was no path to a door, nor, indeed,
was there any track worn by footsteps in the island.
The cottage rose right out of the smooth turf. It had no windows that I could see; but
there was a door in the centre of the side facing me, up to which I went. I knocked, and the
sweetest voice I had ever heard said, “Come in.” I entered. A bright fire was burning on a
hearth in the centre of the earthern floor, and the smoke found its way out at an opening in
the centre of the pyramidal roof. Over the fire hung a little pot, and over the pot bent a
woman-face, the most wonderful, I thought, that I had ever beheld. For it was older than any
countenance I had ever looked upon. There was not a spot in which a wrinkle could lie, where
a wrinkle lay not. And the skin was ancient and brown, like old parchment. The woman’s form
was tall and spare: and when she stood up to welcome me, I saw that she was straight as an
arrow. Could that voice of sweetness have issued from those lips of age? Mild as they were,
could they be the portals whence flowed such melody? But the moment I saw her eyes, I no
longer wondered at her voice: they were absolutely young — those of a woman of
five-andtwenty, large, and of a clear gray. Wrinkles had beset them all about; the eyelids themselves
were old, and heavy, and worn; but the eyes were very incarnations of soft light. She held out
her hand to me, and the voice of sweetness again greeted me, with the single word,
“Welcome.” She set an old wooden chair for me, near the fire, and went on with her cooking.A wondrous sense of refuge and repose came upon me. I felt like a boy who has got home
from school, miles across the hills, through a heavy storm of wind and snow. Almost, as I
gazed on her, I sprang from my seat to kiss those old lips. And when, having finished her
cooking, she brought some of the dish she had prepared, and set it on a little table by me,
covered with a snow-white cloth, I could not help laying my head on her bosom, and bursting
into happy tears. She put her arms round me, saying, “Poor child; poor child!”
As I continued to weep, she gently disengaged herself, and, taking a spoon, put some of
the food (I did not know what it was) to my lips, entreating me most endearingly to swallow it.
To please her, I made an effort, and succeeded. She went on feeding me like a baby, with
one arm round me, till I looked up in her face and smiled: then she gave me the spoon and
told me to eat, for it would do me good. I obeyed her, and found myself wonderfully refreshed.
Then she drew near the fire an old-fashioned couch that was in the cottage, and making me
lie down upon it, sat at my feet, and began to sing. Amazing store of old ballads rippled from
her lips, over the pebbles of ancient tunes; and the voice that sang was sweet as the voice of
a tuneful maiden that singeth ever from very fulness of song. The songs were almost all sad,
but with a sound of comfort. One I can faintly recall. It was something like this:

Sir Aglovaile through the churchyard rode;
Sing, All alone I lie:
Little recked he where’er he yode,
All alone, up in the sky.

Swerved his courser, and plunged with fear
All alone i lie:
His cry might have wakened the dead men near,
All alone, up in the sky.

The very dead that lay at his feet,
Lapt in the mouldy winding-sheet.

But he curbed him and spurred him, until he stood
Still in his place, like a horse of wood,

With nostrils uplift, and eyes wide and wan;
But the sweat in streams from his fetlocks ran.

A ghost grew out of the shadowy air,
And sat in the midst of her moony hair.

In her gleamy hair she sat and wept;
In the dreamful moon they lay and slept;

The shadows above, and the bodies below,
Lay and slept in the moonbeams slow.

And she sang, like the moan of an autumn wind
Over the stubble left behind:

Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,And life is never the same again.

Alas, how hardly things go right!
‘Tis hard to watch on a summer night,
For the sigh will come and the kiss will stay,
And the summer night is a winter day.

“Oh, lovely ghosts my heart is woes
To see thee weeping and wailing so.

Oh, lovely ghost,” said the fearless knight,
“Can the sword of a warrior set it right?

Or prayer of bedesman, praying mild,
As a cup of water a feverish child,

Sooth thee at last, in dreamless mood
To sleep the sleep a dead lady should?

Thine eyes they fill me with longing sore,
As if I had known thee for evermore.

Oh, lovely ghost, I could leave the day
To sit with thee in the moon away

If thou wouldst trust me, and lay thy head
To rest on a bosom that is not dead.”
The lady sprang up with a strange ghost-cry,
And she flung her white ghost-arms on high:

And she laughed a laugh that was not gay,
And it lengthened out till it died away;

And the dead beneath turned and moaned,
And the yew-trees above they shuddered and groaned.

“Will he love me twice with a love that is vain?
Will he kill the poor ghost yet again?

I thought thou wert good; but I said, and wept:
‘Can I have dreamed who have not slept?’

And I knew, alas! or ever I would,
Whether I dreamed, or thou wert good.

When my baby died, my brain grew wild.
I awoke, and found I was with my child.”
“If thou art the ghost of my Adelaide,
How is it? Thou wert but a village maid,

And thou seemest an angel lady white,Though thin, and wan, and past delight.”
The lady smiled a flickering smile,
And she pressed her temples hard the while.

“Thou seest that Death for a woman can
Do more than knighthood for a man.”
“But show me the child thou callest mine,
Is she out to-night in the ghost’s sunshine?”
“In St. Peter’s Church she is playing on,
At hide-and-seek, with Apostle John.

When the moonbeams right through the window go,
Where the twelve are standing in glorious show,

She says the rest of them do not stir,
But one comes down to play with her.

Then I can go where I list, and weep,
For good St. John my child will keep.”
“Thy beauty filleth the very air,
Never saw I a woman so fair.”
“Come, if thou darest, and sit by my side;
But do not touch me, or woe will betide.

Alas, I am weak: I might well know
This gladness betokens some further woe.

Yet come. It will come. I will bear it. I can.
For thou lovest me yet — though but as a man.”
The knight dismounted in earnest speed;
Away through the tombstones thundered the steed,

And fell by the outer wall, and died.
But the knight he kneeled by the lady’s side;

Kneeled beside her in wondrous bliss,
Rapt in an everlasting kiss:

Though never his lips come the lady nigh,
And his eyes alone on her beauty lie.

All the night long, till the cock crew loud,
He kneeled by the lady, lapt in her shroud.

And what they said, I may not say:
Dead night was sweeter than living day.

How she made him so blissful glad
Who made her and found her so ghostly sad,

I may not tell; but it needs no touchTo make them blessed who love so much.

“Come every night, my ghost, to me;
And one night I will come to thee.

‘Tis good to have a ghostly wife:
She will not tremble at clang of strife;

She will only hearken, amid the din,
Behind the door, if he cometh in.”
And this is how Sir Aglovaile
Often walked in the moonlight pale.

And oft when the crescent but thinned the gloom,
Full orbed moonlight filled his room;

And through beneath his chamber door,
Fell a ghostly gleam on the outer floor;

And they that passed, in fear averred
That murmured words they often heard.

‘Twas then that the eastern crescent shone
Through the chancel window, and good St. John

Played with the ghost-child all the night,
And the mother was free till the morning light,

And sped through the dawning night, to stay
With Aglovaile till the break of day.

And their love was a rapture, lone and high,
And dumb as the moon in the topmost sky.

One night Sir Aglovaile, weary, slept
And dreamed a dream wherein he wept.

A warrior he was, not often wept he,
But this night he wept full bitterly.

He woke — beside him the ghost-girl shone
Out of the dark: ‘twas the eve of St. John.

He had dreamed a dream of a still, dark wood,
Where the maiden of old beside him stood;

But a mist came down, and caught her away,
And he sought her in vain through the pathless day,

Till he wept with the grief that can do no more,
And thought he had dreamt the dream before.
From bursting heart the weeping flowed on;
And lo! beside him the ghost-girl shone;

Shone like the light on a harbour’s breast,
Over the sea of his dream’s unrest;

Shone like the wondrous, nameless boon,
That the heart seeks ever, night or noon:

Warnings forgotten, when needed most,
He clasped to his bosom the radiant ghost.

She wailed aloud, and faded, and sank.
With upturn’d white face, cold and blank,

In his arms lay the corpse of the maiden pale,
And she came no more to Sir Aglovaile.

Only a voice, when winds were wild,
Sobbed and wailed like a chidden child.

Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.

This was one of the simplest of her songs, which, perhaps, is the cause of my being able
to remember it better than most of the others. While she sung, I was in Elysium, with the
sense of a rich soul upholding, embracing, and overhanging mine, full of all plenty and bounty.
I felt as if she could give me everything I wanted; as if I should never wish to leave her, but
would be content to be sung to and fed by her, day after day, as years rolled by. At last I fell
asleep while she sang.
When I awoke, I knew not whether it was night or day. The fire had sunk to a few red
embers, which just gave light enough to show me the woman standing a few feet from me,
with her back towards me, facing the door by which I had entered. She was weeping, but very
gently and plentifully. The tears seemed to come freely from her heart. Thus she stood for a
few minutes; then, slowly turning at right angles to her former position, she faced another of
the four sides of the cottage. I now observed, for the first time, that here was a door likewise;
and that, indeed, there was one in the centre of every side of the cottage.
When she looked towards the second door, her tears ceased to flow, but sighs took their
place. She often closed her eyes as she stood; and every time she closed her eyes, a gentle
sigh seemed to be born in her heart, and to escape at her lips. But when her eyes were open,
her sighs were deep and very sad, and shook her whole frame. Then she turned towards the
third door, and a cry as of fear or suppressed pain broke from her; but she seemed to hearten
herself against the dismay, and to front it steadily; for, although I often heard a slight cry, and
sometimes a moan, yet she never moved or bent her head, and I felt sure that her eyes never
closed. Then she turned to the fourth door, and I saw her shudder, and then stand still as a
statue; till at last she turned towards me and approached the fire. I saw that her face was
white as death. But she gave one look upwards, and smiled the sweetest, most child-innocent
smile; then heaped fresh wood on the fire, and, sitting down by the blaze, drew her wheelnear her, and began to spin. While she spun, she murmured a low strange song, to which the
hum of the wheel made a kind of infinite symphony. At length she paused in her spinning and
singing, and glanced towards me, like a mother who looks whether or not her child gives signs
of waking. She smiled when she saw that my eyes were open. I asked her whether it was day
yet. She answered, “It is always day here, so long as I keep my fire burning.”
I felt wonderfully refreshed; and a great desire to see more of the island awoke within
me. I rose, and saying that I wished to look about me, went towards the door by which I had
“Stay a moment,” said my hostess, with some trepidation in her voice. “Listen to me. You
will not see what you expect when you go out of that door. Only remember this: whenever you
wish to come back to me, enter wherever you see this mark.”
She held up her left hand between me and the fire. Upon the palm, which appeared
almost transparent, I saw, in dark red, a mark like this — > which I took care to fix in my
She then kissed me, and bade me good-bye with a solemnity that awed me; and
bewildered me too, seeing I was only going out for a little ramble in an island, which I did not
believe larger than could easily be compassed in a few hours’ walk at most. As I went she
resumed her spinning.
I opened the door, and stepped out. The moment my foot touched the smooth sward, I
seemed to issue from the door of an old barn on my father’s estate, where, in the hot
afternoons, I used to go and lie amongst the straw, and read. It seemed to me now that I had
been asleep there. At a little distance in the field, I saw two of my brothers at play. The
moment they caught sight of me, they called out to me to come and join them, which I did;
and we played together as we had done years ago, till the red sun went down in the west, and
the gray fog began to rise from the river. Then we went home together with a strange
happiness. As we went, we heard the continually renewed larum of a landrail in the long grass.
One of my brothers and I separated to a little distance, and each commenced running
towards the part whence the sound appeared to come, in the hope of approaching the spot
where the bird was, and so getting at least a sight of it, if we should not be able to capture the
little creature. My father’s voice recalled us from trampling down the rich long grass, soon to
be cut down and laid aside for the winter. I had quite forgotten all about Fairy Land, and the
wonderful old woman, and the curious red mark.
My favourite brother and I shared the same bed. Some childish dispute arose between
us; and our last words, ere we fell asleep, were not of kindness, notwithstanding the pleasures
of the day. When I woke in the morning, I missed him. He had risen early, and had gone to
bathe in the river. In another hour, he was brought home drowned. Alas! alas! if we had only
gone to sleep as usual, the one with his arm about the other! Amidst the horror of the
moment, a strange conviction flashed across my mind, that I had gone through the very same
once before.
I rushed out of the house, I knew not why, sobbing and crying bitterly. I ran through the
fields in aimless distress, till, passing the old barn, I caught sight of a red mark on the door.
The merest trifles sometimes rivet the attention in the deepest misery; the intellect has so little
to do with grief. I went up to look at this mark, which I did not remember ever to have seen
before. As I looked at it, I thought I would go in and lie down amongst the straw, for I was very
weary with running about and weeping. I opened the door; and there in the cottage sat the old
woman as I had left her, at her spinning-wheel.
“I did not expect you quite so soon,” she said, as I shut the door behind me. I went up to
the couch, and threw myself on it with that fatigue wherewith one awakes from a feverish
dream of hopeless grief.
The old woman sang:
The great sun, benighted,
May faint from the sky;
But love, once uplighted,
Will never more die.

Form, with its brightness,
From eyes will depart:
It walketh, in whiteness,
The halls of the heart.

Ere she had ceased singing, my courage had returned. I started from the couch, and,
without taking leave of the old woman, opened the door of Sighs, and sprang into what should
I stood in a lordly hall, where, by a blazing fire on the hearth, sat a lady, waiting, I knew,
for some one long desired. A mirror was near me, but I saw that my form had no place within
its depths, so I feared not that I should be seen. The lady wonderfully resembled my marble
lady, but was altogether of the daughters of men, and I could not tell whether or not it was
It was not for me she waited. The tramp of a great horse rang through the court without.
It ceased, and the clang of armour told that his rider alighted, and the sound of his ringing
heels approached the hall. The door opened; but the lady waited, for she would meet her lord
alone. He strode in: she flew like a home-bound dove into his arms, and nestled on the hard
steel. It was the knight of the soiled armour. But now the armour shone like polished glass;
and strange to tell, though the mirror reflected not my form, I saw a dim shadow of myself in
the shining steel.
“O my beloved, thou art come, and I am blessed.”
Her soft fingers speedily overcame the hard clasp of his helmet; one by one she undid
the buckles of his armour; and she toiled under the weight of the mail, as she would carry it
aside. Then she unclasped his greaves, and unbuckled his spurs; and once more she sprang
into his arms, and laid her head where she could now feel the beating of his heart. Then she
disengaged herself from his embrace, and, moving back a step or two, gazed at him. He
stood there a mighty form, crowned with a noble head, where all sadness had disappeared, or
had been absorbed in solemn purpose. Yet I suppose that he looked more thoughtful than the
lady had expected to see him, for she did not renew her caresses, although his face glowed
with love, and the few words he spoke were as mighty deeds for strength; but she led him
towards the hearth, and seated him in an ancient chair, and set wine before him, and sat at
his feet.
“I am sad,” he said, “when I think of the youth whom I met twice in the forests of Fairy
Land; and who, you say, twice, with his songs, roused you from the death-sleep of an evil
enchantment. There was something noble in him, but it was a nobleness of thought, and not
of deed. He may yet perish of vile fear.”
“Ah!” returned the lady, “you saved him once, and for that I thank you; for may I not say
that I somewhat loved him? But tell me how you fared, when you struck your battle-axe into
the ash-tree, and he came and found you; for so much of the story you had told me, when the
beggar-child came and took you away.”
“As soon as I saw him,” rejoined the knight, “I knew that earthly arms availed not against
such as he; and that my soul must meet him in its naked strength. So I unclasped my helm,
and flung it on the ground; and, holding my good axe yet in my hand, gazed at him with
steady eyes. On he came, a horror indeed, but I did not flinch. Endurance must conquer,
where force could not reach. He came nearer and nearer, till the ghastly face was close to
mine. A shudder as of death ran through me; but I think I did not move, for he seemed toquail, and retreated. As soon as he gave back, I struck one more sturdy blow on the stem of
his tree, that the forest rang; and then looked at him again. He writhed and grinned with rage
and apparent pain, and again approached me, but retreated sooner than before. I heeded him
no more, but hewed with a will at the tree, till the trunk creaked, and the head bowed, and with
a crash it fell to the earth. Then I looked up from my labour, and lo! the spectre had vanished,
and I saw him no more; nor ever in my wanderings have I heard of him again.”
“Well struck! well withstood! my hero,” said the lady.
“But,” said the knight, somewhat troubled, “dost thou love the youth still?”
“Ah!” she replied, “how can I help it? He woke me from worse than death; he loved me. I
had never been for thee, if he had not sought me first. But I love him not as I love thee. He
was but the moon of my night; thou art the sun of my day, O beloved.”
“Thou art right,” returned the noble man. “It were hard, indeed, not to have some love in
return for such a gift as he hath given thee. I, too, owe him more than words can speak.”
Humbled before them, with an aching and desolate heart, I yet could not restrain my
“Let me, then, be the moon of thy night still, O woman! And when thy day is beclouded,
as the fairest days will be, let some song of mine comfort thee, as an old, withered,
halfforgotten thing, that belongs to an ancient mournful hour of uncompleted birth, which yet was
beautiful in its time.”
They sat silent, and I almost thought they were listening. The colour of the lady’s eyes
grew deeper and deeper; the slow tears grew, and filled them, and overflowed. They rose,
and passed, hand in hand, close to where I stood; and each looked towards me in passing.
Then they disappeared through a door which closed behind them; but, ere it closed, I saw that
the room into which it opened was a rich chamber, hung with gorgeous arras. I stood with an
ocean of sighs frozen in my bosom. I could remain no longer. She was near me, and I could
not see her; near me in the arms of one loved better than I, and I would not see her, and I
would not be by her. But how to escape from the nearness of the best beloved? I had not this
time forgotten the mark; for the fact that I could not enter the sphere of these living beings
kept me aware that, for me, I moved in a vision, while they moved in life. I looked all about for
the mark, but could see it nowhere; for I avoided looking just where it was. There the dull red
cipher glowed, on the very door of their secret chamber. Struck with agony, I dashed it open,
and fell at the feet of the ancient woman, who still spun on, the whole dissolved ocean of my
sighs bursting from me in a storm of tearless sobs. Whether I fainted or slept, I do not know;
but, as I returned to consciousness, before I seemed to have power to move, I heard the
woman singing, and could distinguish the words:

O light of dead and of dying days!
O Love! in thy glory go,
In a rosy mist and a moony maze,
O’er the pathless peaks of snow.

But what is left for the cold gray soul,
That moans like a wounded dove?
One wine is left in the broken bowl! —
‘Tis — To love, and love and love.

Now I could weep. When she saw me weeping, she sang:

Better to sit at the waters’ birth,
Than a sea of waves to win;
To live in the love that floweth forth,Than the love that cometh in.

Be thy heart a well of love, my child,
Flowing, and free, and sure;
For a cistern of love, though undefiled,
Keeps not the spirit pure.

I rose from the earth, loving the white lady as I had never loved her before.
Then I walked up to the door of Dismay, and opened it, and went out. And lo! I came
forth upon a crowded street, where men and women went to and fro in multitudes. I knew it
well; and, turning to one hand, walked sadly along the pavement. Suddenly I saw approaching
me, a little way off, a form well known to me (well-known! — alas, how weak the word!) in the
years when I thought my boyhood was left behind, and shortly before I entered the realm of
Fairy Land. Wrong and Sorrow had gone together, hand-in-hand as it is well they do.
Unchangeably dear was that face. It lay in my heart as a child lies in its own white bed;
but I could not meet her.
“Anything but that,” I said, and, turning aside, sprang up the steps to a door, on which I
fancied I saw the mystic sign. I entered — not the mysterious cottage, but her home. I rushed
wildly on, and stood by the door of her room.
“She is out,” I said, “I will see the old room once more.”
I opened the door gently, and stood in a great solemn church. A deep-toned bell, whose
sounds throbbed and echoed and swam through the empty building, struck the hour of
midnight. The moon shone through the windows of the clerestory, and enough of the ghostly
radiance was diffused through the church to let me see, walking with a stately, yet somewhat
trailing and stumbling step, down the opposite aisle, for I stood in one of the transepts, a
figure dressed in a white robe, whether for the night, or for that longer night which lies too
deep for the day, I could not tell. Was it she? and was this her chamber? I crossed the
church, and followed. The figure stopped, seemed to ascend as it were a high bed, and lay
down. I reached the place where it lay, glimmering white. The bed was a tomb. The light was
too ghostly to see clearly, but I passed my hand over the face and the hands and the feet,
which were all bare. They were cold — they were marble, but I knew them. It grew dark. I
turned to retrace my steps, but found, ere long, that I had wandered into what seemed a little
chapel. I groped about, seeking the door. Everything I touched belonged to the dead. My
hands fell on the cold effigy of a knight who lay with his legs crossed and his sword broken
beside him. He lay in his noble rest, and I lived on in ignoble strife. I felt for the left hand and a
certain finger; I found there the ring I knew: he was one of my own ancestors. I was in the
chapel over the burial-vault of my race. I called aloud: “If any of the dead are moving here, let
them take pity upon me, for I, alas! am still alive; and let some dead woman comfort me, for I
am a stranger in the land of the dead, and see no light.” A warm kiss alighted on my lips
through the dark. And I said, “The dead kiss well; I will not be afraid.” And a great hand was
reached out of the dark, and grasped mine for a moment, mightily and tenderly. I said to
myself: “The veil between, though very dark, is very thin.”
Groping my way further, I stumbled over the heavy stone that covered the entrance of
the vault: and, in stumbling, descried upon the stone the mark, glowing in red fire. I caught the
great ring. All my effort could not have moved the huge slab; but it opened the door of the
cottage, and I threw myself once more, pale and speechless, on the couch beside the ancient
dame. She sang once more:

Thou dreamest: on a rock thou art,
High o’er the broken wave;
Thou fallest with a fearful startBut not into thy grave;
For, waking in the morning’s light,
Thou smilest at the vanished night

So wilt thou sink, all pale and dumb,
Into the fainting gloom;
But ere the coming terrors come,
Thou wak’st — where is the tomb?
Thou wak’st — the dead ones smile above,
With hovering arms of sleepless love.

She paused; then sang again:

We weep for gladness, weep for grief;
The tears they are the same;
We sigh for longing, and relief;
The sighs have but one name,

And mingled in the dying strife,
Are moans that are not sad
The pangs of death are throbs of life,
Its sighs are sometimes glad.

The face is very strange and white:
It is Earth’s only spot
That feebly flickers back the light
The living seeth not.

I fell asleep, and slept a dreamless sleep, for I know not how long. When I awoke, I
found that my hostess had moved from where she had been sitting, and now sat between me
and the fourth door.
I guessed that her design was to prevent my entering there. I sprang from the couch,
and darted past her to the door. I opened it at once and went out. All I remember is a cry of
distress from the woman: “Don’t go there, my child! Don’t go there!” But I was gone.
I knew nothing more; or, if I did, I had forgot it all when I awoke to consciousness, lying
on the floor of the cottage, with my head in the lap of the woman, who was weeping over me,
and stroking my hair with both hands, talking to me as a mother might talk to a sick and
sleeping, or a dead child. As soon as I looked up and saw her, she smiled through her tears;
smiled with withered face and young eyes, till her countenance was irradiated with the light of
the smile. Then she bathed my head and face and hands in an icy cold, colourless liquid,
which smelt a little of damp earth. Immediately I was able to sit up. She rose and put some
food before me. When I had eaten, she said: “Listen to me, my child. You must leave me
“Leave you!” I said. “I am so happy with you. I never was so happy in my life.”
“But you must go,” she rejoined sadly. “Listen! What do you hear?”
“I hear the sound as of a great throbbing of water.”
“Ah! you do hear it? Well, I had to go through that door — the door of the Timeless” (and
she shuddered as she pointed to the fourth door) — “to find you; for if I had not gone, you
would never have entered again; and because I went, the waters around my cottage will rise
and rise, and flow and come, till they build a great firmament of waters over my dwelling. But
as long as I keep my fire burning, they cannot enter. I have fuel enough for years; and afterone year they will sink away again, and be just as they were before you came. I have not
been buried for a hundred years now.” And she smiled and wept.
“Alas! alas!” I cried. “I have brought this evil on the best and kindest of friends, who has
filled my heart with great gifts.”
“Do not think of that,” she rejoined. “I can bear it very well. You will come back to me
some day, I know. But I beg you, for my sake, my dear child, to do one thing. In whatever
sorrow you may be, however inconsolable and irremediable it may appear, believe me that the
old woman in the cottage, with the young eyes” (and she smiled), “knows something, though
she must not always tell it, that would quite satisfy you about it, even in the worst moments of
your distress. Now you must go.”
“But how can I go, if the waters are all about, and if the doors all lead into other regions
and other worlds?”
“This is not an island,” she replied; “but is joined to the land by a narrow neck; and for the
door, I will lead you myself through the right one.”
She took my hand, and led me through the third door; whereupon I found myself
standing in the deep grassy turf on which I had landed from the little boat, but upon the
opposite side of the cottage. She pointed out the direction I must take, to find the isthmus and
escape the rising waters.
Then putting her arms around me, she held me to her bosom; and as I kissed her, I felt
as if I were leaving my mother for the first time, and could not help weeping bitterly. At length
she gently pushed me away, and with the words, “Go, my son, and do something worth
doing,” turned back, and, entering the cottage, closed the door behind her. I felt very desolate
as I went.
Chapter 20

Thou hadst no fame; that which thou didst like good
Was but thy appetite that swayed thy blood
For that time to the best; for as a blast
That through a house comes, usually doth cast
Things out of order, yet by chance may come
And blow some one thing to his proper room,
So did thy appetite, and not thy zeal,
Sway thee by chance to do some one thing well.
—Fletcher’s Faithful Shepherdess.

The noble hart that harbours vertuous thought
And is with childe of glorious great intent,
Can never rest, until it forth have brought
Th’ eternall brood of glorie excellent.
—Spenser, The Faerie Queene.

I had not gone very far before I felt that the turf beneath my feet was soaked with the
rising waters. But I reached the isthmus in safety. It was rocky, and so much higher than the
level of the peninsula, that I had plenty of time to cross. I saw on each side of me the water
rising rapidly, altogether without wind, or violent motion, or broken waves, but as if a slow
strong fire were glowing beneath it. Ascending a steep acclivity, I found myself at last in an
open, rocky country. After travelling for some hours, as nearly in a straight line as I could, I
arrived at a lonely tower, built on the top of a little hill, which overlooked the whole
neighbouring country. As I approached, I heard the clang of an anvil; and so rapid were the
blows, that I despaired of making myself heard till a pause in the work should ensue. It was
some minutes before a cessation took place; but when it did, I knocked loudly, and had not
long to wait; for, a moment after, the door was partly opened by a noble-looking youth,
halfundressed, glowing with heat, and begrimed with the blackness of the forge. In one hand he
held a sword, so lately from the furnace that it yet shone with a dull fire. As soon as he saw
me, he threw the door wide open, and standing aside, invited me very cordially to enter. I did
so; when he shut and bolted the door most carefully, and then led the way inwards. He
brought me into a rude hall, which seemed to occupy almost the whole of the ground floor of
the little tower, and which I saw was now being used as a workshop. A huge fire roared on the
hearth, beside which was an anvil. By the anvil stood, in similar undress, and in a waiting
attitude, hammer in hand, a second youth, tall as the former, but far more slightly built.
Reversing the usual course of perception in such meetings, I thought them, at first sight, very
unlike; and at the second glance, knew that they were brothers. The former, and apparently
the elder, was muscular and dark, with curling hair, and large hazel eyes, which sometimes
grew wondrously soft. The second was slender and fair, yet with a countenance like an eagle,
and an eye which, though pale blue, shone with an almost fierce expression. He stood erect,
as if looking from a lofty mountain crag, over a vast plain outstretched below. As soon as we
entered the hall, the elder turned to me, and I saw that a glow of satisfaction shone on both
their faces. To my surprise and great pleasure, he addressed me thus:
“Brother, will you sit by the fire and rest, till we finish this part of our work?”
I signified my assent; and, resolved to await any disclosure they might be inclined to
make, seated myself in silence near the hearth.
The elder brother then laid the sword in the fire, covered it well over, and when it had
attained a sufficient degree of heat, drew it out and laid it on the anvil, moving it carefullyabout, while the younger, with a succession of quick smart blows, appeared either to be
welding it, or hammering one part of it to a consenting shape with the rest. Having finished,
they laid it carefully in the fire; and, when it was very hot indeed, plunged it into a vessel full of
some liquid, whence a blue flame sprang upwards, as the glowing steel entered.
There they left it; and drawing two stools to the fire, sat down, one on each side of me.
“We are very glad to see you, brother. We have been expecting you for some days,” said
the dark-haired youth.
“I am proud to be called your brother,” I rejoined; “and you will not think I refuse the
name, if I desire to know why you honour me with it?”
“Ah! then he does not know about it,” said the younger. “We thought you had known of
the bond betwixt us, and the work we have to do together. You must tell him, brother, from
the first.”
So the elder began:
“Our father is king of this country. Before we were born, three giant brothers had
appeared in the land. No one knew exactly when, and no one had the least idea whence they
came. They took possession of a ruined castle that had stood unchanged and unoccupied
within the memory of any of the country people. The vaults of this castle had remained
uninjured by time, and these, I presume, they made use of at first. They were rarely seen,
and never offered the least injury to any one; so that they were regarded in the
neighbourhood as at least perfectly harmless, if not rather benevolent beings. But it began to
be observed, that the old castle had assumed somehow or other, no one knew when or how,
a somewhat different look from what it used to have. Not only were several breaches in the
lower part of the walls built up, but actually some of the battlements which yet stood, had
been repaired, apparently to prevent them from falling into worse decay, while the more
important parts were being restored. Of course, every one supposed the giants must have a
hand in the work, but no one ever saw them engaged in it. The peasants became yet more
uneasy, after one, who had concealed himself, and watched all night, in the neighbourhood of
the castle, reported that he had seen, in full moonlight, the three huge giants working with
might and main, all night long, restoring to their former position some massive stones,
formerly steps of a grand turnpike stair, a great portion of which had long since fallen, along
with part of the wall of the round tower in which it had been built. This wall they were
completing, foot by foot, along with the stair. But the people said they had no just pretext for
interfering: although the real reason for letting the giants alone was, that everybody was far
too much afraid of them to interrupt them.
“At length, with the help of a neighbouring quarry, the whole of the external wall of the
castle was finished. And now the country folks were in greater fear than before. But for
several years the giants remained very peaceful. The reason of this was afterwards supposed
to be the fact, that they were distantly related to several good people in the country; for, as
long as these lived, they remained quiet; but as soon as they were all dead the real nature of
the giants broke out. Having completed the outside of their castle, they proceeded, by spoiling
the country houses around them, to make a quiet luxurious provision for their comfort within.
Affairs reached such a pass, that the news of their robberies came to my father’s ears; but
he, alas! was so crippled in his resources, by a war he was carrying on with a neighbouring
prince, that he could only spare a very few men, to attempt the capture of their stronghold.
Upon these the giants issued in the night, and slew every man of them. And now, grown
bolder by success and impunity, they no longer confined their depredations to property, but
began to seize the persons of their distinguished neighbours, knights and ladies, and hold
them in durance, the misery of which was heightened by all manner of indignity, until they
were redeemed by their friends, at an exorbitant ransom. Many knights have adventured their
overthrow, but to their own instead; for they have all been slain, or captured, or forced to
make a hasty retreat. To crown their enormities, if any man now attempts their destruction,they, immediately upon his defeat, put one or more of their captives to a shameful death, on a
turret in sight of all passers-by; so that they have been much less molested of late; and we,
although we have burned, for years, to attack these demons and destroy them, dared not, for
the sake of their captives, risk the adventure, before we should have reached at least our
earliest manhood. Now, however, we are preparing for the attempt; and the grounds of this
preparation are these. Having only the resolution, and not the experience necessary for the
undertaking, we went and consulted a lonely woman of wisdom, who lives not very far from
here, in the direction of the quarter from which you have come. She received us most kindly,
and gave us what seems to us the best of advice. She first inquired what experience we had
had in arms. We told her we had been well exercised from our boyhood, and for some years
had kept ourselves in constant practice, with a view to this necessity.
“‘But you have not actually fought for life and death?’ said she.
“We were forced to confess we had not.
“‘So much the better in some respects,’ she replied. ‘Now listen to me. Go first and work
with an armourer, for as long time as you find needful to obtain a knowledge of his craft; which
will not be long, seeing your hearts will be all in the work. Then go to some lonely tower, you
two alone. Receive no visits from man or woman. There forge for yourselves every piece of
armour that you wish to wear, or to use, in your coming encounter. And keep up your
exercises. As, however, two of you can be no match for the three giants, I will find you, if I
can, a third brother, who will take on himself the third share of the fight, and the preparation.
Indeed, I have already seen one who will, I think, be the very man for your fellowship, but it
will be some time before he comes to me. He is wandering now without an aim. I will show him
to you in a glass, and, when he comes, you will know him at once. If he will share your
endeavours, you must teach him all you know, and he will repay you well, in present song,
and in future deeds.’
“She opened the door of a curious old cabinet that stood in the room. On the inside of
this door was an oval convex mirror. Looking in it for some time, we at length saw reflected
the place where we stood, and the old dame seated in her chair. Our forms were not
reflected. But at the feet of the dame lay a young man, yourself, weeping.
“‘Surely this youth will not serve our ends,’ said I, ‘for he weeps.’
“The old woman smiled. ‘Past tears are present strength,’ said she.
“‘Oh!’ said my brother, ‘I saw you weep once over an eagle you shot.’
“‘That was because it was so like you, brother,’ I replied; ‘but indeed, this youth may
have better cause for tears than that — I was wrong.’
“‘Wait a while,’ said the woman; ‘if I mistake not, he will make you weep till your tears are
dry for ever. Tears are the only cure for weeping. And you may have need of the cure, before
you go forth to fight the giants. You must wait for him, in your tower, till he comes.’
“Now if you will join us, we will soon teach you to make your armour; and we will fight
together, and work together, and love each other as never three loved before. And you will
sing to us, will you not?”
“That I will, when I can,” I answered; “but it is only at times that the power of song comes
upon me. For that I must wait; but I have a feeling that if I work well, song will not be far off to
enliven the labour.”
This was all the compact made: the brothers required nothing more, and I did not think of
giving anything more. I rose, and threw off my upper garments.
“I know the uses of the sword,” I said. “I am ashamed of my white hands beside yours so
nobly soiled and hard; but that shame will soon be wiped away.”
“No, no; we will not work to-day. Rest is as needful as toil. Bring the wine, brother; it is
your turn to serve to-day.”
The younger brother soon covered a table with rough viands, but good wine; and we ate
and drank heartily, beside our work. Before the meal was over, I had learned all their story.Each had something in his heart which made the conviction, that he would victoriously perish
in the coming conflict, a real sorrow to him. Otherwise they thought they would have lived
enough. The causes of their trouble were respectively these:
While they wrought with an armourer, in a city famed for workmanship in steel and silver,
the elder had fallen in love with a lady as far beneath him in real rank, as she was above the
station he had as apprentice to an armourer. Nor did he seek to further his suit by discovering
himself; but there was simply so much manhood about him, that no one ever thought of rank
when in his company. This is what his brother said about it. The lady could not help loving him
in return. He told her when he left her, that he had a perilous adventure before him, and that
when it was achieved, she would either see him return to claim her, or hear that he had died
with honour. The younger brother’s grief arose from the fact, that, if they were both slain, his
old father, the king, would be childless. His love for his father was so exceeding, that to one
unable to sympathise with it, it would have appeared extravagant. Both loved him equally at
heart; but the love of the younger had been more developed, because his thoughts and
anxieties had not been otherwise occupied. When at home, he had been his constant
companion; and, of late, had ministered to the infirmities of his growing age. The youth was
never weary of listening to the tales of his sire’s youthful adventures; and had not yet in the
smallest degree lost the conviction, that his father was the greatest man in the world. The
grandest triumph possible to his conception was, to return to his father, laden with the spoils
of one of the hated giants. But they both were in some dread, lest the thought of the
loneliness of these two might occur to them, in the moment when decision was most
necessary, and disturb, in some degree, the self-possession requisite for the success of their
attempt. For, as I have said, they were yet untried in actual conflict. “Now,” thought I, “I see to
what the powers of my gift must minister.” For my own part, I did not dread death, for I had
nothing to care to live for; but I dreaded the encounter because of the responsibility connected
with it. I resolved however to work hard, and thus grow cool, and quick, and forceful.
The time passed away in work and song, in talk and ramble, in friendly fight and brotherly
aid. I would not forge for myself armour of heavy mail like theirs, for I was not so powerful as
they, and depended more for any success I might secure, upon nimbleness of motion,
certainty of eye, and ready response of hand. Therefore I began to make for myself a shirt of
steel plates and rings; which work, while more troublesome, was better suited to me than the
heavier labour. Much assistance did the brothers give me, even after, by their instructions, I
was able to make some progress alone. Their work was in a moment abandoned, to render
any required aid to mine. As the old woman had promised, I tried to repay them with song;
and many were the tears they both shed over my ballads and dirges. The songs they liked
best to hear were two which I made for them. They were not half so good as many others I
knew, especially some I had learned from the wise woman in the cottage; but what comes
nearest to our needs we like the best.

The king sat on his throne
Glowing in gold and red;
The crown in his right hand shone,
And the gray hairs crowned his head.

His only son walks in,
And in walls of steel he stands:
“Make me, O father, strong to win,
With the blessing of holy hands.”
He knelt before his sire,
Who blessed him with feeble smileHis eyes shone out with a kingly fire,
But his old lips quivered the while.

“Go to the fight, my son,
Bring back the giant’s head;
And the crown with which my brows have done,
Shall glitter on thine instead.”
“My father, I seek no crowns,
But unspoken praise from thee;
For thy people’s good, and thy renown,
I will die to set them free.”
The king sat down and waited there,
And rose not, night nor day;
Till a sound of shouting filled the air,
And cries of a sore dismay.

Then like a king he sat once more,
With the crown upon his head;
And up to the throne the people bore
A mighty giant dead.

And up to the throne the people bore
A pale and lifeless boy.
The king rose up like a prophet of yore,
In a lofty, deathlike joy.

He put the crown on the chilly brow:
“Thou should’st have reigned with me
But Death is the king of both, and now
I go to obey with thee.

“Surely some good in me there lay,
To beget the noble one.”
The old man smiled like a winter day,
And fell beside his son.

“O lady, thy lover is dead,” they cried;
“He is dead, but hath slain the foe;
He hath left his name to be magnified
In a song of wonder and woe.”
“Alas! I am well repaid,” said she,
“With a pain that stings like joy:
For I feared, from his tenderness to me,
That he was but a feeble boy.

“Now I shall hold my head on high,
The queen among my kind;
If ye hear a sound, ‘tis only a sigh
For a glory left behind.”
The first three times I sang these songs they both wept passionately. But after the thirdtime, they wept no more. Their eyes shone, and their faces grew pale, but they never wept at
any of my songs again.
Chapter 21

I put my life in my hands.
—The Book of Judges.

At length, with much toil and equal delight, our armour was finished. We armed each
other, and tested the strength of the defence, with many blows of loving force. I was inferior in
strength to both my brothers, but a little more agile than either; and upon this agility, joined to
precision in hitting with the point of my weapon, I grounded my hopes of success in the
ensuing combat. I likewise laboured to develop yet more the keenness of sight with which I
was naturally gifted; and, from the remarks of my companions, I soon learned that my
endeavours were not in vain.
The morning arrived on which we had determined to make the attempt, and succeed or
perish — perhaps both. We had resolved to fight on foot; knowing that the mishap of many of
the knights who had made the attempt, had resulted from the fright of their horses at the
appearance of the giants; and believing with Sir Gawain, that, though mare’s sons might be
false to us, the earth would never prove a traitor. But most of our preparations were, in their
immediate aim at least, frustrated.
We rose, that fatal morning, by daybreak. We had rested from all labour the day before,
and now were fresh as the lark. We bathed in cold spring water, and dressed ourselves in
clean garments, with a sense of preparation, as for a solemn festivity. When we had broken
our fast, I took an old lyre, which I had found in the tower and had myself repaired, and sung
for the last time the two ballads of which I have said so much already. I followed them with
this, for a closing song:

Oh, well for him who breaks his dream
With the blow that ends the strife
And, waking, knows the peace that flows
Around the pain of life!

We are dead, my brothers! Our bodies clasp,
As an armour, our souls about;
This hand is the battle-axe I grasp,
And this my hammer stout.

Fear not, my brothers, for we are dead;
No noise can break our rest;
The calm of the grave is about the head,
And the heart heaves not the breast.

And our life we throw to our people back,
To live with, a further store;
We leave it them, that there be no lack
In the land where we live no more.

Oh, well for him who breaks his dream
With the blow that ends the strife
And, waking, knows the peace that flows
Around the noise of life!
As the last few tones of the instrument were following, like a dirge, the death of the song,
we all sprang to our feet. For, through one of the little windows of the tower, towards which I
had looked as I sang, I saw, suddenly rising over the edge of the slope on which our tower
stood, three enormous heads. The brothers knew at once, by my looks, what caused my
sudden movement. We were utterly unarmed, and there was no time to arm.
But we seemed to adopt the same resolution simultaneously; for each caught up his
favourite weapon, and, leaving his defence behind, sprang to the door. I snatched up a long
rapier, abruptly, but very finely pointed, in my sword-hand, and in the other a sabre; the elder
brother seized his heavy battle-axe; and the younger, a great, two-handed sword, which he
wielded in one hand like a feather. We had just time to get clear of the tower, embrace and
say good-bye, and part to some little distance, that we might not encumber each other’s
motions, ere the triple giant-brotherhood drew near to attack us. They were about twice our
height, and armed to the teeth. Through the visors of their helmets their monstrous eyes
shone with a horrible ferocity. I was in the middle position, and the middle giant approached
me. My eyes were busy with his armour, and I was not a moment in settling my mode of
attack. I saw that his body-armour was somewhat clumsily made, and that the overlappings in
the lower part had more play than necessary; and I hoped that, in a fortunate moment, some
joint would open a little, in a visible and accessible part. I stood till he came near enough to
aim a blow at me with the mace, which has been, in all ages, the favourite weapon of giants,
when, of course, I leaped aside, and let the blow fall upon the spot where I had been standing.
I expected this would strain the joints of his armour yet more. Full of fury, he made at me
again; but I kept him busy, constantly eluding his blows, and hoping thus to fatigue him. He
did not seem to fear any assault from me, and I attempted none as yet; but while I watched
his motions in order to avoid his blows, I, at the same time, kept equal watch upon those joints
of his armour, through some one of which I hoped to reach his life. At length, as if somewhat
fatigued, he paused a moment, and drew himself slightly up; I bounded forward, foot and
hand, ran my rapier right through to the armour of his back, let go the hilt, and passing under
his right arm, turned as he fell, and flew at him with my sabre. At one happy blow I divided the
band of his helmet, which fell off, and allowed me, with a second cut across the eyes, to blind
him quite; after which I clove his head, and turned, uninjured, to see how my brothers had
fared. Both the giants were down, but so were my brothers. I flew first to the one and then to
the other couple. Both pairs of combatants were dead, and yet locked together, as in the
death-struggle. The elder had buried his battle-axe in the body of his foe, and had fallen
beneath him as he fell. The giant had strangled him in his own death-agonies. The younger
had nearly hewn off the left leg of his enemy; and, grappled with in the act, had, while they
rolled together on the earth, found for his dagger a passage betwixt the gorget and cuirass of
the giant, and stabbed him mortally in the throat. The blood from the giant’s throat was yet
pouring over the hand of his foe, which still grasped the hilt of the dagger sheathed in the
wound. They lay silent. I, the least worthy, remained the sole survivor in the lists.
As I stood exhausted amidst the dead, after the first worthy deed of my life, I suddenly
looked behind me, and there lay the Shadow, black in the sunshine. I went into the lonely
tower, and there lay the useless armour of the noble youths — supine as they.
Ah, how sad it looked! It was a glorious death, but it was death. My songs could not
comfort me now. I was almost ashamed that I was alive, when they, the true-hearted, were no
more. And yet I breathed freer to think that I had gone through the trial, and had not failed.
And perhaps I may be forgiven, if some feelings of pride arose in my bosom, when I looked
down on the mighty form that lay dead by my hand.
“After all, however,” I said to myself, and my heart sank, “it was only skill. Your giant was
but a blunderer.”
I left the bodies of friends and foes, peaceful enough when the death-fight was over,
and, hastening to the country below, roused the peasants. They came with shouting andgladness, bringing waggons to carry the bodies. I resolved to take the princes home to their
father, each as he lay, in the arms of his country’s foe. But first I searched the giants, and
found the keys of their castle, to which I repaired, followed by a great company of the people.
It was a place of wonderful strength. I released the prisoners, knights and ladies, all in a sad
condition, from the cruelties and neglects of the giants. It humbled me to see them crowding
round me with thanks, when in truth the glorious brothers, lying dead by their lonely tower,
were those to whom the thanks belonged. I had but aided in carrying out the thought born in
their brain, and uttered in visible form before ever I laid hold thereupon. Yet I did count myself
happy to have been chosen for their brother in this great deed.
After a few hours spent in refreshing and clothing the prisoners, we all commenced our
journey towards the capital. This was slow at first; but, as the strength and spirits of the
prisoners returned, it became more rapid; and in three days we reached the palace of the
king. As we entered the city gates, with the huge bulks lying each on a waggon drawn by
horses, and two of them inextricably intertwined with the dead bodies of their princes, the
people raised a shout and then a cry, and followed in multitudes the solemn procession.
I will not attempt to describe the behaviour of the grand old king. Joy and pride in his
sons overcame his sorrow at their loss. On me he heaped every kindness that heart could
devise or hand execute. He used to sit and question me, night after night, about everything
that was in any way connected with them and their preparations. Our mode of life, and
relation to each other, during the time we spent together, was a constant theme. He entered
into the minutest details of the construction of the armour, even to a peculiar mode of riveting
some of the plates, with unwearying interest. This armour I had intended to beg of the king, as
my sole memorials of the contest; but, when I saw the delight he took in contemplating it, and
the consolation it appeared to afford him in his sorrow, I could not ask for it; but, at his
request, left my own, weapons and all, to be joined with theirs in a trophy, erected in the
grand square of the palace. The king, with gorgeous ceremony, dubbed me knight with his
own old hand, in which trembled the sword of his youth.
During the short time I remained, my company was, naturally, much courted by the
young nobles. I was in a constant round of gaiety and diversion, notwithstanding that the court
was in mourning. For the country was so rejoiced at the death of the giants, and so many of
their lost friends had been restored to the nobility and men of wealth, that the gladness
surpassed the grief. “Ye have indeed left your lives to your people, my great brothers!” I said.
But I was ever and ever haunted by the old shadow, which I had not seen all the time
that I was at work in the tower. Even in the society of the ladies of the court, who seemed to
think it only their duty to make my stay there as pleasant to me as possible, I could not help
being conscious of its presence, although it might not be annoying me at the time. At length,
somewhat weary of uninterrupted pleasure, and nowise strengthened thereby, either in body
or mind, I put on a splendid suit of armour of steel inlaid with silver, which the old king had
given me, and, mounting the horse on which it had been brought to me, took my leave of the
palace, to visit the distant city in which the lady dwelt, whom the elder prince had loved. I
anticipated a sore task, in conveying to her the news of his glorious fate: but this trial was
spared me, in a manner as strange as anything that had happened to me in Fairy Land.
Chapter 22

No one has my form but the I.
—Schoppe, in Jean Paul’s Titan.

Joy’s a subtil elf.
I think man’s happiest when he forgets himself.
—Cyril Tourneur, The Revenger’s Tragedy.

On the third day of my journey, I was riding gently along a road, apparently little
frequented, to judge from the grass that grew upon it. I was approaching a forest. Everywhere
in Fairy Land forests are the places where one may most certainly expect adventures. As I
drew near, a youth, unarmed, gentle, and beautiful, who had just cut a branch from a yew
growing on the skirts of the wood, evidently to make himself a bow, met me, and thus
accosted me:
“Sir knight, be careful as thou ridest through this forest; for it is said to be strangely
enchanted, in a sort which even those who have been witnesses of its enchantment can
hardly describe.”
I thanked him for his advice, which I promised to follow, and rode on. But the moment I
entered the wood, it seemed to me that, if enchantment there was, it must be of a good kind;
for the Shadow, which had been more than usually dark and distressing, since I had set out
on this journey, suddenly disappeared. I felt a wonderful elevation of spirits, and began to
reflect on my past life, and especially on my combat with the giants, with such satisfaction,
that I had actually to remind myself, that I had only killed one of them; and that, but for the
brothers, I should never have had the idea of attacking them, not to mention the smallest
power of standing to it. Still I rejoiced, and counted myself amongst the glorious knights of old;
having even the unspeakable presumption — my shame and self-condemnation at the
memory of it are such, that I write it as the only and sorest penance I can perform — to think
of myself (will the world believe it?) as side by side with Sir Galahad! Scarcely had the thought
been born in my mind, when, approaching me from the left, through the trees, I espied a
resplendent knight, of mighty size, whose armour seemed to shine of itself, without the sun.
When he drew near, I was astonished to see that this armour was like my own; nay, I could
trace, line for line, the correspondence of the inlaid silver to the device on my own. His horse,
too, was like mine in colour, form, and motion; save that, like his rider, he was greater and
fiercer than his counterpart. The knight rode with beaver up. As he halted right opposite to me
in the narrow path, barring my way, I saw the reflection of my countenance in the centre plate
of shining steel on his breastplate. Above it rose the same face — his face — only, as I have
said, larger and fiercer. I was bewildered. I could not help feeling some admiration of him, but
it was mingled with a dim conviction that he was evil, and that I ought to fight with him.
“Let me pass,” I said.
“When I will,” he replied.
Something within me said: “Spear in rest, and ride at him! else thou art for ever a slave.”
I tried, but my arm trembled so much, that I could not couch my lance. To tell the truth, I,
who had overcome the giant, shook like a coward before this knight. He gave a scornful laugh,
that echoed through the wood, turned his horse, and said, without looking round, “Follow me.”
I obeyed, abashed and stupefied. How long he led, and how long I followed, I cannot tell.
“I never knew misery before,” I said to myself. “Would that I had at least struck him, and had
had my death-blow in return! Why, then, do I not call to him to wheel and defend himself?
Alas! I know not why, but I cannot. One look from him would cow me like a beaten hound.” I
followed, and was silent.At length we came to a dreary square tower, in the middle of a dense forest. It looked as
if scarce a tree had been cut down to make room for it. Across the very door, diagonally, grew
the stem of a tree, so large that there was just room to squeeze past it in order to enter. One
miserable square hole in the roof was the only visible suggestion of a window. Turret or
battlement, or projecting masonry of any kind, it had none. Clear and smooth and massy, it
rose from its base, and ended with a line straight and unbroken. The roof, carried to a centre
from each of the four walls, rose slightly to the point where the rafters met. Round the base
lay several little heaps of either bits of broken branches, withered and peeled, or half-whitened
bones; I could not distinguish which. As I approached, the ground sounded hollow beneath my
horse’s hoofs. The knight took a great key from his pocket, and reaching past the stem of the
tree, with some difficulty opened the door. “Dismount,” he commanded. I obeyed. He turned
my horse’s head away from the tower, gave him a terrible blow with the flat side of his sword,
and sent him madly tearing through the forest.
“Now,” said he, “enter, and take your companion with you.”
I looked round: knight and horse had vanished, and behind me lay the horrible shadow. I
entered, for I could not help myself; and the shadow followed me. I had a terrible conviction
that the knight and he were one. The door closed behind me.
Now I was indeed in pitiful plight. There was literally nothing in the tower but my shadow
and me. The walls rose right up to the roof; in which, as I had seen from without, there was
one little square opening. This I now knew to be the only window the tower possessed. I sat
down on the floor, in listless wretchedness. I think I must have fallen asleep, and have slept
for hours; for I suddenly became aware of existence, in observing that the moon was shining
through the hole in the roof. As she rose higher and higher, her light crept down the wall over
me, till at last it shone right upon my head. Instantaneously the walls of the tower seemed to
vanish away like a mist. I sat beneath a beech, on the edge of a forest, and the open country
lay, in the moonlight, for miles and miles around me, spotted with glimmering houses and
spires and towers. I thought with myself, “Oh, joy! it was only a dream; the horrible narrow
waste is gone, and I wake beneath a beech-tree, perhaps one that loves me, and I can go
where I will.” I rose, as I thought, and walked about, and did what I would, but ever kept near
the tree; for always, and, of course, since my meeting with the woman of the beech-tree far
more than ever, I loved that tree. So the night wore on. I waited for the sun to rise, before I
could venture to renew my journey. But as soon as the first faint light of the dawn appeared,
instead of shining upon me from the eye of the morning, it stole like a fainting ghost through
the little square hole above my head; and the walls came out as the light grew, and the
glorious night was swallowed up of the hateful day. The long dreary day passed. My shadow
lay black on the floor. I felt no hunger, no need of food. The night came. The moon shone. I
watched her light slowly descending the wall, as I might have watched, adown the sky, the
long, swift approach of a helping angel. Her rays touched me, and I was free. Thus night after
night passed away. I should have died but for this. Every night the conviction returned, that I
was free. Every morning I sat wretchedly disconsolate. At length, when the course of the
moon no longer permitted her beams to touch me, the night was dreary as the day.
When I slept, I was somewhat consoled by my dreams; but all the time I dreamed, I
knew that I was only dreaming. But one night, at length, the moon, a mere shred of pallor,
scattered a few thin ghostly rays upon me; and I think I fell asleep and dreamed. I sat in an
autumn night before the vintage, on a hill overlooking my own castle. My heart sprang with
joy. Oh, to be a child again, innocent, fearless, without shame or desire! I walked down to the
castle. All were in consternation at my absence. My sisters were weeping for my loss. They
sprang up and clung to me, with incoherent cries, as I entered. My old friends came flocking
round me. A gray light shone on the roof of the hall. It was the light of the dawn shining
through the square window of my tower. More earnestly than ever, I longed for freedom after
this dream; more drearily than ever, crept on the next wretched day. I measured by thesunbeams, caught through the little window in the trap of my tower, how it went by, waiting
only for the dreams of the night.
About noon, I started as if something foreign to all my senses and all my experience, had
suddenly invaded me; yet it was only the voice of a woman singing. My whole frame quivered
with joy, surprise, and the sensation of the unforeseen. Like a living soul, like an incarnation of
Nature, the song entered my prison-house. Each tone folded its wings, and laid itself, like a
caressing bird, upon my heart. It bathed me like a sea; inwrapt me like an odorous vapour;
entered my soul like a long draught of clear spring-water; shone upon me like essential
sunlight; soothed me like a mother’s voice and hand. Yet, as the clearest forest-well tastes
sometimes of the bitterness of decayed leaves, so to my weary, prisoned heart, its
cheerfulness had a sting of cold, and its tenderness unmanned me with the faintness of
longdeparted joys. I wept half-bitterly, half-luxuriously; but not long. I dashed away the tears,
ashamed of a weakness which I thought I had abandoned. Ere I knew, I had walked to the
door, and seated myself with my ears against it, in order to catch every syllable of the
revelation from the unseen outer world. And now I heard each word distinctly. The singer
seemed to be standing or sitting near the tower, for the sounds indicated no change of place.
The song was something like this:

The sun, like a golden knot on high,
Gathers the glories of the sky,
And binds them into a shining tent,
Roofing the world with the firmament.
And through the pavilion the rich winds blow,
And through the pavilion the waters go.
And the birds for joy, and the trees for prayer,
Bowing their heads in the sunny air,
And for thoughts, the gently talking springs,
That come from the centre with secret things —
All make a music, gentle and strong,
Bound by the heart into one sweet song.
And amidst them all, the mother Earth
Sits with the children of her birth;
She tendeth them all, as a mother hen
Her little ones round her, twelve or ten:
Oft she sitteth, with hands on knee,
Idle with love for her family.
Go forth to her from the dark and the dust,
And weep beside her, if weep thou must;
If she may not hold thee to her breast,
Like a weary infant, that cries for rest
At least she will press thee to her knee,
And tell a low, sweet tale to thee,
Till the hue to thy cheeky and the light to thine eye,
Strength to thy limbs, and courage high
To thy fainting heart, return amain,
And away to work thou goest again.
From the narrow desert, O man of pride,
Come into the house, so high and wide.

Hardly knowing what I did, I opened the door. Why had I not done so before? I do not
know.At first I could see no one; but when I had forced myself past the tree which grew across
the entrance, I saw, seated on the ground, and leaning against the tree, with her back to my
prison, a beautiful woman. Her countenance seemed known to me, and yet unknown. She
looked at me and smiled, when I made my appearance.
“Ah! were you the prisoner there? I am very glad I have wiled you out.”
“Do you know me then?” “Do you not know me? But you hurt me, and that, I suppose,
makes it easy for a man to forget. You broke my globe. Yet I thank you. Perhaps I owe you
many thanks for breaking it. I took the pieces, all black, and wet with crying over them, to the
Fairy Queen. There was no music and no light in them now. But she took them from me, and
laid them aside; and made me go to sleep in a great hall of white, with black pillars, and many
red curtains. When I woke in the morning, I went to her, hoping to have my globe again, whole
and sound; but she sent me away without it, and I have not seen it since. Nor do I care for it
now. I have something so much better. I do not need the globe to play to me; for I can sing. I
could not sing at all before. Now I go about everywhere through Fairy Land, singing till my
heart is like to break, just like my globe, for very joy at my own songs. And wherever I go, my
songs do good, and deliver people. And now I have delivered you, and I am so happy.”
She ceased, and the tears came into her eyes.
All this time, I had been gazing at her; and now fully recognised the face of the child,
glorified in the countenance of the woman.
I was ashamed and humbled before her; but a great weight was lifted from my thoughts.
I knelt before her, and thanked her, and begged her to forgive me.
“Rise, rise,” she said; “I have nothing to forgive; I thank you. But now I must be gone, for
I do not know how many may be waiting for me, here and there, through the dark forests; and
they cannot come out till I come.”
She rose, and with a smile and a farewell, turned and left me. I dared not ask her to
stay; in fact, I could hardly speak to her. Between her and me, there was a great gulf. She
was uplifted, by sorrow and well-doing, into a region I could hardly hope ever to enter. I
watched her departure, as one watches a sunset. She went like a radiance through the dark
wood, which was henceforth bright to me, from simply knowing that such a creature was in it.
She was bearing the sun to the unsunned spots. The light and the music of her broken
globe were now in her heart and her brain. As she went, she sang; and I caught these few
words of her song; and the tones seemed to linger and wind about the trees after she had

Thou goest thine, and I go mine —
Many ways we wend;
Many days, and many ways,
Ending in one end.

Many a wrong, and its curing song;
Many a road, and many an inn;
Room to roam, but only one home
For all the world to win.

And so she vanished. With a sad heart, soothed by humility, and the knowledge of her
peace and gladness, I bethought me what now I should do. First, I must leave the tower far
behind me, lest, in some evil moment, I might be once more caged within its horrible walls.
But it was ill walking in my heavy armour; and besides I had now no right to the golden spurs
and the resplendent mail, fitly dulled with long neglect. I might do for a squire; but I honoured
knighthood too highly, to call myself any longer one of the noble brotherhood. I stripped off all
my armour, piled it under the tree, just where the lady had been seated, and took myunknown way, eastward through the woods. Of all my weapons, I carried only a short axe in
my hand.
Then first I knew the delight of being lowly; of saying to myself, “I am what I am, nothing
more.” “I have failed,” I said, “I have lost myself — would it had been my shadow.” I looked
round: the shadow was nowhere to be seen. Ere long, I learned that it was not myself, but
only my shadow, that I had lost. I learned that it is better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to
fall and be humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied innocence. I learned that
he that will be a hero, will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work,
is sure of his manhood. In nothing was my ideal lowered, or dimmed, or grown less precious; I
only saw it too plainly, to set myself for a moment beside it. Indeed, my ideal soon became
my life; whereas, formerly, my life had consisted in a vain attempt to behold, if not my ideal in
myself, at least myself in my ideal. Now, however, I took, at first, what perhaps was a
mistaken pleasure, in despising and degrading myself. Another self seemed to arise, like a
white spirit from a dead man, from the dumb and trampled self of the past. Doubtless, this self
must again die and be buried, and again, from its tomb, spring a winged child; but of this my
history as yet bears not the record.
Self will come to life even in the slaying of self; but there is ever something deeper and
stronger than it, which will emerge at last from the unknown abysses of the soul: will it be as a
solemn gloom, burning with eyes? or a clear morning after the rain? or a smiling child, that
finds itself nowhere, and everywhere?
Chapter 23

High erected thought, seated in a heart of courtesy.
—Sir Philip Sidney.

A sweet attractive kinde of grace,
A full assurance given by lookes,
Continuall comfort in a face,
The lineaments of Gospel bookes.
—Matthew Roydon, on Sir Philip Sidney.

I had not gone far, for I had but just lost sight of the hated tower, when a voice of
another sort, sounding near or far, as the trees permitted or intercepted its passage, reached
me. It was a full, deep, manly voice, but withal clear and melodious. Now it burst on the ear
with a sudden swell, and anon, dying away as suddenly, seemed to come to me across a
great space. Nevertheless, it drew nearer; till, at last, I could distinguish the words of the
song, and get transient glimpses of the singer, between the columns of the trees. He came
nearer, dawning upon me like a growing thought. He was a knight, armed from head to heel,
mounted upon a strange-looking beast, whose form I could not understand. The words which I
heard him sing were like these:

Heart be stout,
And eye be true;
Good blade out!
And ill shall rue.

Courage, horse!
Thou lackst no skill;
Well thy force
Hath matched my will.

For the foe
With fiery breath,
At a blow,
Is still in death.

Gently, horse!
Tread fearlessly;
‘Tis his corse
That burdens thee.

The sun’s eye
Is fierce at noon;
Thou and I
Will rest full soon.

And new strength
New work will meet;
Till, at length,
Long rest is sweet.
And now horse and rider had arrived near enough for me to see, fastened by the long
neck to the hinder part of the saddle, and trailing its hideous length on the ground behind, the
body of a great dragon. It was no wonder that, with such a drag at his heels, the horse could
make but slow progress, notwithstanding his evident dismay. The horrid, serpent-like head,
with its black tongue, forked with red, hanging out of its jaws, dangled against the horse’s
side. Its neck was covered with long blue hair, its sides with scales of green and gold. Its back
was of corrugated skin, of a purple hue. Its belly was similar in nature, but its colour was
leaden, dashed with blotches of livid blue. Its skinny, bat-like wings and its tail were of a dull
gray. It was strange to see how so many gorgeous colours, so many curving lines, and such
beautiful things as wings and hair and scales, combined to form the horrible creature, intense
in ugliness.
The knight was passing me with a salutation; but, as I walked towards him, he reined up,
and I stood by his stirrup. When I came near him, I saw to my surprise and pleasure likewise,
although a sudden pain, like a birth of fire, sprang up in my heart, that it was the knight of the
soiled armour, whom I knew before, and whom I had seen in the vision, with the lady of the
marble. But I could have thrown my arms around him, because she loved him. This discovery
only strengthened the resolution I had formed, before I recognised him, of offering myself to
the knight, to wait upon him as a squire, for he seemed to be unattended. I made my request
in as few words as possible. He hesitated for a moment, and looked at me thoughtfully. I saw
that he suspected who I was, but that he continued uncertain of his suspicion. No doubt he
was soon convinced of its truth; but all the time I was with him, not a word crossed his lips
with reference to what he evidently concluded I wished to leave unnoticed, if not to keep
“Squire and knight should be friends,” said he: “can you take me by the hand?” And he
held out the great gauntleted right hand. I grasped it willingly and strongly. Not a word more
was said. The knight gave the sign to his horse, which again began his slow march, and I
walked beside and a little behind.
We had not gone very far before we arrived at a little cottage; from which, as we drew
near, a woman rushed out with the cry:
“My child! my child! have you found my child?”
“I have found her,” replied the knight, “but she is sorely hurt. I was forced to leave her
with the hermit, as I returned. You will find her there, and I think she will get better. You see I
have brought you a present. This wretch will not hurt you again.” And he undid the creature’s
neck, and flung the frightful burden down by the cottage door.
The woman was now almost out of sight in the wood; but the husband stood at the door,
with speechless thanks in his face.
“You must bury the monster,” said the knight. “If I had arrived a moment later, I should
have been too late. But now you need not fear, for such a creature as this very rarely
appears, in the same part, twice during a lifetime.”
“Will you not dismount and rest you, Sir Knight?” said the peasant, who had, by this time,
recovered himself a little.
“That I will, thankfully,” said he; and, dismounting, he gave the reins to me, and told me
to unbridle the horse, and lead him into the shade. “You need not tie him up,” he added; “he
will not run away.”
When I returned, after obeying his orders, and entered the cottage, I saw the knight
seated, without his helmet, and talking most familiarly with the simple host. I stood at the open
door for a moment, and, gazing at him, inwardly justified the white lady in preferring him to
me. A nobler countenance I never saw. Loving-kindness beamed from every line of his face. It
seemed as if he would repay himself for the late arduous combat, by indulging in all the
gentleness of a womanly heart. But when the talk ceased for a moment, he seemed to fall intoa reverie. Then the exquisite curves of the upper lip vanished. The lip was lengthened and
compressed at the same moment. You could have told that, within the lips, the teeth were
firmly closed. The whole face grew stern and determined, all but fierce; only the eyes burned
on like a holy sacrifice, uplift on a granite rock.
The woman entered, with her mangled child in her arms. She was pale as her little
burden. She gazed, with a wild love and despairing tenderness, on the still, all but dead face,
white and clear from loss of blood and terror.
The knight rose. The light that had been confined to his eyes, now shone from his whole
countenance. He took the little thing in his arms, and, with the mother’s help, undressed her,
and looked to her wounds. The tears flowed down his face as he did so. With tender hands he
bound them up, kissed the pale cheek, and gave her back to her mother. When he went
home, all his tale would be of the grief and joy of the parents; while to me, who had looked on,
the gracious countenance of the armed man, beaming from the panoply of steel, over the
seemingly dead child, while the powerful hands turned it and shifted it, and bound it, if possible
even more gently than the mother’s, formed the centre of the story.
After we had partaken of the best they could give us, the knight took his leave, with a few
parting instructions to the mother as to how she should treat the child.
I brought the knight his steed, held the stirrup while he mounted, and then followed him
through the wood. The horse, delighted to be free of his hideous load, bounded beneath the
weight of man and armour, and could hardly be restrained from galloping on. But the knight
made him time his powers to mine, and so we went on for an hour or two. Then the knight
dismounted, and compelled me to get into the saddle, saying: “Knight and squire must share
the labour.”
Holding by the stirrup, he walked along by my side, heavily clad as he was, with apparent
ease. As we went, he led a conversation, in which I took what humble part my sense of my
condition would permit me.
“Somehow or other,” said he, “notwithstanding the beauty of this country of Faerie, in
which we are, there is much that is wrong in it. If there are great splendours, there are
corresponding horrors; heights and depths; beautiful women and awful fiends; noble men and
weaklings. All a man has to do, is to better what he can. And if he will settle it with himself,
that even renown and success are in themselves of no great value, and be content to be
defeated, if so be that the fault is not his; and so go to his work with a cool brain and a strong
will, he will get it done; and fare none the worse in the end, that he was not burdened with
provision and precaution.”
“But he will not always come off well,” I ventured to say.
“Perhaps not,” rejoined the knight, “in the individual act; but the result of his lifetime will
content him.”
“So it will fare with you, doubtless,” thought I; “but for me —”
Venturing to resume the conversation after a pause, I said, hesitatingly:
“May I ask for what the little beggar-girl wanted your aid, when she came to your castle
to find you?”
He looked at me for a moment in silence, and then said —
“I cannot help wondering how you know of that; but there is something about you quite
strange enough to entitle you to the privilege of the country; namely, to go unquestioned. I,
however, being only a man, such as you see me, am ready to tell you anything you like to ask
me, as far as I can. The little beggar-girl came into the hall where I was sitting, and told me a
very curious story, which I can only recollect very vaguely, it was so peculiar. What I can recall
is, that she was sent to gather wings. As soon as she had gathered a pair of wings for herself,
she was to fly away, she said, to the country she came from; but where that was, she could
give no information.
“She said she had to beg her wings from the butterflies and moths; and wherever shebegged, no one refused her. But she needed a great many of the wings of butterflies and
moths to make a pair for her; and so she had to wander about day after day, looking for
butterflies, and night after night, looking for moths; and then she begged for their wings. But
the day before, she had come into a part of the forest, she said, where there were multitudes
of splendid butterflies flitting about, with wings which were just fit to make the eyes in the
shoulders of hers; and she knew she could have as many of them as she liked for the asking;
but as soon as she began to beg, there came a great creature right up to her, and threw her
down, and walked over her. When she got up, she saw the wood was full of these beings
stalking about, and seeming to have nothing to do with each other. As soon as ever she
began to beg, one of them walked over her; till at last in dismay, and in growing horror of the
senseless creatures, she had run away to look for somebody to help her. I asked her what
they were like. She said, like great men, made of wood, without knee-or elbow-joints, and
without any noses or mouths or eyes in their faces. I laughed at the little maiden, thinking she
was making child’s game of me; but, although she burst out laughing too, she persisted in
asserting the truth of her story.”
“‘Only come, knight, come and see; I will lead you.’
“So I armed myself, to be ready for anything that might happen, and followed the child;
for, though I could make nothing of her story, I could see she was a little human being in need
of some help or other. As she walked before me, I looked attentively at her. Whether or not it
was from being so often knocked down and walked over, I could not tell, but her clothes were
very much torn, and in several places her white skin was peeping through. I thought she was
hump-backed; but on looking more closely, I saw, through the tatters of her frock — do not
laugh at me — a bunch on each shoulder, of the most gorgeous colours. Looking yet more
closely, I saw that they were of the shape of folded wings, and were made of all kinds of
butterfly-wings and moth-wings, crowded together like the feathers on the individual butterfly
pinion; but, like them, most beautifully arranged, and producing a perfect harmony of colour
and shade. I could now more easily believe the rest of her story; especially as I saw, every
now and then, a certain heaving motion in the wings, as if they longed to be uplifted and
outspread. But beneath her scanty garments complete wings could not be concealed, and
indeed, from her own story, they were yet unfinished.
“After walking for two or three hours (how the little girl found her way, I could not
imagine), we came to a part of the forest, the very air of which was quivering with the motions
of multitudes of resplendent butterflies; as gorgeous in colour, as if the eyes of peacocks’
feathers had taken to flight, but of infinite variety of hue and form, only that the appearance of
some kind of eye on each wing predominated. ‘There they are, there they are!’ cried the child,
in a tone of victory mingled with terror. Except for this tone, I should have thought she
referred to the butterflies, for I could see nothing else. But at that moment an enormous
butterfly, whose wings had great eyes of blue surrounded by confused cloudy heaps of more
dingy colouring, just like a break in the clouds on a stormy day towards evening, settled near
us. The child instantly began murmuring: ‘Butterfly, butterfly, give me your wings’; when, the
moment after, she fell to the ground, and began crying as if hurt. I drew my sword and
heaved a great blow in the direction in which the child had fallen. It struck something, and
instantly the most grotesque imitation of a man became visible. You see this Fairy Land is full
of oddities and all sorts of incredibly ridiculous things, which a man is compelled to meet and
treat as real existences, although all the time he feels foolish for doing so. This being, if being
it could be called, was like a block of wood roughly hewn into the mere outlines of a man; and
hardly so, for it had but head, body, legs, and arms — the head without a face, and the limbs
utterly formless. I had hewn off one of its legs, but the two portions moved on as best they
could, quite independent of each other; so that I had done no good. I ran after it, and clove it
in twain from the head downwards; but it could not be convinced that its vocation was not to
walk over people; for, as soon as the little girl began her begging again, all three parts camebustling up; and if I had not interposed my weight between her and them, she would have
been trampled again under them. I saw that something else must be done. If the wood was
full of the creatures, it would be an endless work to chop them so small that they could do no
injury; and then, besides, the parts would be so numerous, that the butterflies would be in
danger from the drift of flying chips. I served this one so, however; and then told the girl to
beg again, and point out the direction in which one was coming. I was glad to find, however,
that I could now see him myself, and wondered how they could have been invisible before. I
would not allow him to walk over the child; but while I kept him off, and she began begging
again, another appeared; and it was all I could do, from the weight of my armour, to protect
her from the stupid, persevering efforts of the two. But suddenly the right plan occurred to
me. I tripped one of them up, and, taking him by the legs, set him up on his head, with his
heels against a tree. I was delighted to find he could not move. Meantime the poor child was
walked over by the other, but it was for the last time. Whenever one appeared, I followed the
same plan — tripped him up and set him on his head; and so the little beggar was able to
gather her wings without any trouble, which occupation she continued for several hours in my
“What became of her?” I asked.
“I took her home with me to my castle, and she told me all her story; but it seemed to
me, all the time, as if I were hearing a child talk in its sleep. I could not arrange her story in
my mind at all, although it seemed to leave hers in some certain order of its own. My wife —”
Here the knight checked himself, and said no more. Neither did I urge the conversation
Thus we journeyed for several days, resting at night in such shelter as we could get; and
when no better was to be had, lying in the forest under some tree, on a couch of old leaves.
I loved the knight more and more. I believe never squire served his master with more
care and joyfulness than I. I tended his horse; I cleaned his armour; my skill in the craft
enabled me to repair it when necessary; I watched his needs; and was well repaid for all by
the love itself which I bore him.
“This,” I said to myself, “is a true man. I will serve him, and give him all worship, seeing in
him the imbodiment of what I would fain become. If I cannot be noble myself, I will yet be
servant to his nobleness.” He, in return, soon showed me such signs of friendship and
respect, as made my heart glad; and I felt that, after all, mine would be no lost life, if I might
wait on him to the world’s end, although no smile but his should greet me, and no one but him
should say, “Well done! he was a good servant!” at last. But I burned to do something more
for him than the ordinary routine of a squire’s duty permitted.
One afternoon, we began to observe an appearance of roads in the wood. Branches had
been cut down, and openings made, where footsteps had worn no path below. These
indications increased as we passed on, till, at length, we came into a long, narrow avenue,
formed by felling the trees in its line, as the remaining roots evidenced. At some little distance,
on both hands, we observed signs of similar avenues, which appeared to converge with ours,
towards one spot. Along these we indistinctly saw several forms moving, which seemed, with
ourselves, to approach the common centre. Our path brought us, at last, up to a wall of
yewtrees, growing close together, and intertwining their branches so, that nothing could be seen
beyond it. An opening was cut in it like a door, and all the wall was trimmed smooth and
perpendicular. The knight dismounted, and waited till I had provided for his horse’s comfort;
upon which we entered the place together.
It was a great space, bare of trees, and enclosed by four walls of yew, similar to that
through which we had entered. These trees grew to a very great height, and did not divide
from each other till close to the top, where their summits formed a row of conical battlements
all around the walls. The space contained was a parallelogram of great length. Along each of
the two longer sides of the interior, were ranged three ranks of men, in white robes, standingsilent and solemn, each with a sword by his side, although the rest of his costume and bearing
was more priestly than soldierly. For some distance inwards, the space between these
opposite rows was filled with a company of men and women and children, in holiday attire.
The looks of all were directed inwards, towards the further end. Far beyond the crowd, in a
long avenue, seeming to narrow in the distance, went the long rows of the white-robed men.
On what the attention of the multitude was fixed, we could not tell, for the sun had set before
we arrived, and it was growing dark within. It grew darker and darker. The multitude waited in
silence. The stars began to shine down into the enclosure, and they grew brighter and larger
every moment. A wind arose, and swayed the pinnacles of the tree-tops; and made a strange
sound, half like music, half like moaning, through the close branches and leaves of the
treewalls. A young girl who stood beside me, clothed in the same dress as the priests, bowed her
head, and grew pale with awe.
The knight whispered to me, “How solemn it is! Surely they wait to hear the voice of a
prophet. There is something good near!”
But I, though somewhat shaken by the feeling expressed by my master, yet had an
unaccountable conviction that here was something bad. So I resolved to be keenly on the
watch for what should follow.
Suddenly a great star, like a sun, appeared high in the air over the temple, illuminating it
throughout; and a great song arose from the men in white, which went rolling round and round
the building, now receding to the end, and now approaching, down the other side, the place
where we stood. For some of the singers were regularly ceasing, and the next to them as
regularly taking up the song, so that it crept onwards with gradations produced by changes
which could not themselves be detected, for only a few of those who were singing ceased at
the same moment. The song paused; and I saw a company of six of the white-robed men
walk up the centre of the human avenue, surrounding a youth gorgeously attired beneath his
robe of white, and wearing a chaplet of flowers on his head. I followed them closely, with my
keenest observation; and, by accompanying their slow progress with my eyes, I was able to
perceive more clearly what took place when they arrived at the other end. I knew that my
sight was so much more keen than that of most people, that I had good reason to suppose I
should see more than the rest could, at such a distance. At the farther end a throne stood
upon a platform, high above the heads of the surrounding priests. To this platform I saw the
company begin to ascend, apparently by an inclined plane or gentle slope. The throne itself
was elevated again, on a kind of square pedestal, to the top of which led a flight of steps. On
the throne sat a majestic-looking figure, whose posture seemed to indicate a mixture of pride
and benignity, as he looked down on the multitude below. The company ascended to the foot
of the throne, where they all kneeled for some minutes; then they rose and passed round to
the side of the pedestal upon which the throne stood. Here they crowded close behind the
youth, putting him in the foremost place, and one of them opened a door in the pedestal, for
the youth to enter. I was sure I saw him shrink back, and those crowding behind pushed him
in. Then, again, arose a burst of song from the multitude in white, which lasted some time.
When it ceased, a new company of seven commenced its march up the centre. As they
advanced, I looked up at my master: his noble countenance was full of reverence and awe.
Incapable of evil himself, he could scarcely suspect it in another, much less in a multitude
such as this, and surrounded with such appearances of solemnity. I was certain it was the
really grand accompaniments that overcame him; that the stars overhead, the dark towering
tops of the yew-trees, and the wind that, like an unseen spirit, sighed through their branches,
bowed his spirit to the belief, that in all these ceremonies lay some great mystical meaning
which, his humility told him, his ignorance prevented him from understanding.
More convinced than before, that there was evil here, I could not endure that my master
should be deceived; that one like him, so pure and noble, should respect what, if my
suspicions were true, was worse than the ordinary deceptions of priestcraft. I could not tellhow far he might be led to countenance, and otherwise support their doings, before he should
find cause to repent bitterly of his error. I watched the new procession yet more keenly, if
possible, than the former. This time, the central figure was a girl; and, at the close, I
observed, yet more indubitably, the shrinking back, and the crowding push. What happened to
the victims, I never learned; but I had learned enough, and I could bear it no longer. I
stooped, and whispered to the young girl who stood by me, to lend me her white garment. I
wanted it, that I might not be entirely out of keeping with the solemnity, but might have at least
this help to passing unquestioned. She looked up, half-amused and half-bewildered, as if
doubting whether I was in earnest or not. But in her perplexity, she permitted me to unfasten
it, and slip it down from her shoulders.
I easily got possession of it; and, sinking down on my knees in the crowd, I rose
apparently in the habit of one of the worshippers.
Giving my battle-axe to the girl, to hold in pledge for the return of her stole, for I wished
to test the matter unarmed, and, if it was a man that sat upon the throne, to attack him with
hands bare, as I supposed his must be, I made my way through the crowd to the front, while
the singing yet continued, desirous of reaching the platform while it was unoccupied by any of
the priests. I was permitted to walk up the long avenue of white robes unmolested, though I
saw questioning looks in many of the faces as I passed. I presume my coolness aided my
passage; for I felt quite indifferent as to my own fate; not feeling, after the late events of my
history, that I was at all worth taking care of; and enjoying, perhaps, something of an evil
satisfaction, in the revenge I was thus taking upon the self which had fooled me so long.
When I arrived on the platform, the song had just ceased, and I felt as if all were looking
towards me. But instead of kneeling at its foot, I walked right up the stairs to the throne, laid
hold of a great wooden image that seemed to sit upon it, and tried to hurl it from its seat. In
this I failed at first, for I found it firmly fixed. But in dread lest, the first shock of amazement
passing away, the guards would rush upon me before I had effected my purpose, I strained
with all my might; and, with a noise as of the cracking, and breaking, and tearing of rotten
wood, something gave way, and I hurled the image down the steps. Its displacement revealed
a great hole in the throne, like the hollow of a decayed tree, going down apparently a great
way. But I had no time to examine it, for, as I looked into it, up out of it rushed a great brute,
like a wolf, but twice the size, and tumbled me headlong with itself, down the steps of the
throne. As we fell, however, I caught it by the throat, and the moment we reached the
platform, a struggle commenced, in which I soon got uppermost, with my hand upon its throat,
and knee upon its heart. But now arose a wild cry of wrath and revenge and rescue. A
universal hiss of steel, as every sword was swept from its scabbard, seemed to tear the very
air in shreds. I heard the rush of hundreds towards the platform on which I knelt. I only
tightened my grasp of the brute’s throat. His eyes were already starting from his head, and his
tongue was hanging out. My anxious hope was, that, even after they had killed me, they
would be unable to undo my gripe of his throat, before the monster was past breathing. I
therefore threw all my will, and force, and purpose, into the grasping hand. I remember no
blow. A faintness came over me, and my consciousness departed.
Chapter 24

We are ne’er like angels till our passions die.

This wretched Inn, where we scarce stay to bait,
We call our Dwelling-Place:
We call one Step a Race:
But angels in their full enlightened state,
Angels, who Live, and know what ‘tis to Be,
Who all the nonsense of our language see,
Who speak things, and our words, their ill-drawn pictures, scorn,
When we, by a foolish figure, say,
Behold an old man dead! then they
Speak properly, and cry, Behold a man-child born!

I was dead, and right content. I lay in my coffin, with my hands folded in peace. The
knight, and the lady I loved, wept over me.
Her tears fell on my face.
“Ah!” said the knight, “I rushed amongst them like a madman. I hewed them down like
brushwood. Their swords battered on me like hail, but hurt me not. I cut a lane through to my
friend. He was dead. But he had throttled the monster, and I had to cut the handful out of its
throat, before I could disengage and carry off his body. They dared not molest me as I
brought him back.”
“He has died well,” said the lady.
My spirit rejoiced. They left me to my repose. I felt as if a cool hand had been laid upon
my heart, and had stilled it. My soul was like a summer evening, after a heavy fall of rain,
when the drops are yet glistening on the trees in the last rays of the down-going sun, and the
wind of the twilight has begun to blow. The hot fever of life had gone by, and I breathed the
clear mountain-air of the land of Death. I had never dreamed of such blessedness. It was not
that I had in any way ceased to be what I had been. The very fact that anything can die,
implies the existence of something that cannot die; which must either take to itself another
form, as when the seed that is sown dies, and arises again; or, in conscious existence, may,
perhaps, continue to lead a purely spiritual life. If my passions were dead, the souls of the
passions, those essential mysteries of the spirit which had imbodied themselves in the
passions, and had given to them all their glory and wonderment, yet lived, yet glowed, with a
pure, undying fire. They rose above their vanishing earthly garments, and disclosed
themselves angels of light. But oh, how beautiful beyond the old form! I lay thus for a time,
and lived as it were an unradiating existence; my soul a motionless lake, that received all
things and gave nothing back; satisfied in still contemplation, and spiritual consciousness.
Ere long, they bore me to my grave. Never tired child lay down in his white bed, and
heard the sound of his playthings being laid aside for the night, with a more luxurious
satisfaction of repose than I knew, when I felt the coffin settle on the firm earth, and heard the
sound of the falling mould upon its lid. It has not the same hollow rattle within the coffin, that it
sends up to the edge of the grave. They buried me in no graveyard. They loved me too much
for that, I thank them; but they laid me in the grounds of their own castle, amid many trees;
where, as it was spring-time, were growing primroses, and blue-bells, and all the families of
the woods
Now that I lay in her bosom, the whole earth, and each of her many births, was as abody to me, at my will. I seemed to feel the great heart of the mother beating into mine, and
feeding me with her own life, her own essential being and nature. I heard the footsteps of my
friends above, and they sent a thrill through my heart. I knew that the helpers had gone, and
that the knight and the lady remained, and spoke low, gentle, tearful words of him who lay
beneath the yet wounded sod. I rose into a single large primrose that grew by the edge of the
grave, and from the window of its humble, trusting face, looked full in the countenance of the
lady. I felt that I could manifest myself in the primrose; that it said a part of what I wanted to
say; just as in the old time, I had used to betake myself to a song for the same end. The
flower caught her eye. She stooped and plucked it, saying, “Oh, you beautiful creature!” and,
lightly kissing it, put it in her bosom. It was the first kiss she had ever given me. But the flower
soon began to wither, and I forsook it.
It was evening. The sun was below the horizon; but his rosy beams yet illuminated a
feathery cloud, that floated high above the world. I arose, I reached the cloud; and, throwing
myself upon it, floated with it in sight of the sinking sun. He sank, and the cloud grew gray; but
the grayness touched not my heart. It carried its rose-hue within; for now I could love without
needing to be loved again. The moon came gliding up with all the past in her wan face. She
changed my couch into a ghostly pallor, and threw all the earth below as to the bottom of a
pale sea of dreams. But she could not make me sad. I knew now, that it is by loving, and not
by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is
the loving of each other, and not the being loved by each other, that originates and perfects
and assures their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that loveth, power over any soul
beloved, even if that soul know him not, bringing him inwardly close to that spirit; a power that
cannot be but for good; for in proportion as selfishness intrudes, the love ceases, and the
power which springs therefrom dies. Yet all love will, one day, meet with its return. All true
love will, one day, behold its own image in the eyes of the beloved, and be humbly glad. This
is possible in the realms of lofty Death. “Ah! my friends,” thought I, “how I will tend you, and
wait upon you, and haunt you with my love.”
“My floating chariot bore me over a great city. Its faint dull sound steamed up into the air
— a sound — how composed?” How many hopeless cries,” thought I, “and how many mad
shouts go to make up the tumult, here so faint where I float in eternal peace, knowing that
they will one day be stilled in the surrounding calm, and that despair dies into infinite hope,
and the seeming impossible there, is the law here!
“But, O pale-faced women, and gloomy-browed men, and forgotten children, how I will
wait on you, and minister to you, and, putting my arms about you in the dark, think hope into
your hearts, when you fancy no one is near! Soon as my senses have all come back, and
have grown accustomed to this new blessed life, I will be among you with the love that
With this, a pang and a terrible shudder went through me; a writhing as of death
convulsed me; and I became once again conscious of a more limited, even a bodily and
earthly life.
Chapter 25

Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will.

And on the ground, which is my modres gate,
I knocke with my staf; erlich and late,
And say to hire, Leve mother, let me in.
—Chaucer, The Pardoneres Tale.

Sinking from such a state of ideal bliss, into the world of shadows which again closed
around and infolded me, my first dread was, not unnaturally, that my own shadow had found
me again, and that my torture had commenced anew. It was a sad revulsion of feeling. This,
indeed, seemed to correspond to what we think death is, before we die. Yet I felt within me a
power of calm endurance to which I had hitherto been a stranger. For, in truth, that I should
be able if only to think such things as I had been thinking, was an unspeakable delight. An
hour of such peace made the turmoil of a lifetime worth striving through.
I found myself lying in the open air, in the early morning, before sunrise. Over me rose
the summer heaven, expectant of the sun. The clouds already saw him, coming from afar;
and soon every dewdrop would rejoice in his individual presence within it.
I lay motionless for a few minutes; and then slowly rose and looked about me. I was on
the summit of a little hill; a valley lay beneath, and a range of mountains closed up the view
upon that side. But, to my horror, across the valley, and up the height of the opposing
mountains, stretched, from my very feet, a hugely expanding shade. There it lay, long and
large, dark and mighty. I turned away with a sick despair; when lo! I beheld the sun just lifting
his head above the eastern hill, and the shadow that fell from me, lay only where his beams
fell not. I danced for joy. It was only the natural shadow, that goes with every man who walks
in the sun. As he arose, higher and higher, the shadow-head sank down the side of the
opposite hill, and crept in across the valley towards my feet.
Now that I was so joyously delivered from this fear, I saw and recognised the country
around me. In the valley below, lay my own castle, and the haunts of my childhood were all
about me hastened home. My sisters received me with unspeakable joy; but I suppose they
observed some change in me, for a kind of respect, with a slight touch of awe in it, mingled
with their joy, and made me ashamed. They had been in great distress about me. On the
morning of my disappearance, they had found the floor of my room flooded; and, all that day,
a wondrous and nearly impervious mist had hung about the castle and grounds. I had been
gone, they told me, twenty-one days. To me it seemed twenty-one years. Nor could I yet feel
quite secure in my new experiences. When, at night, I lay down once more in my own bed, I
did not feel at all sure that when I awoke, I should not find myself in some mysterious region
of Fairy Land. My dreams were incessant and perturbed; but when I did awake, I saw clearly
that I was in my own home.
My mind soon grew calm; and I began the duties of my new position, somewhat
instructed, I hoped, by the adventures that had befallen me in Fairy Land. Could I translate
the experience of my travels there, into common life? This was the question. Or must I live it
all over again, and learn it all over again, in the other forms that belong to the world of men,
whose experience yet runs parallel to that of Fairy Land? These questions I cannot answer
yet. But I fear.
Even yet, I find myself looking round sometimes with anxiety, to see whether my shadow
falls right away from the sun or no. I have never yet discovered any inclination to either side.
And if I am not unfrequently sad, I yet cast no more of a shade on the earth, than most menwho have lived in it as long as I. I have a strange feeling sometimes, that I am a ghost, sent
into the world to minister to my fellow men, or, rather, to repair the wrongs I have already
May the world be brighter for me, at least in those portions of it, where my darkness falls
Thus I, who set out to find my Ideal, came back rejoicing that I had lost my Shadow.
When the thought of the blessedness I experienced, after my death in Fairy Land, is too
high for me to lay hold upon it and hope in it, I often think of the wise woman in the cottage,
and of her solemn assurance that she knew something too good to be told. When I am
oppressed by any sorrow or real perplexity, I often feel as if I had only left her cottage for a
time, and would soon return out of the vision, into it again. Sometimes, on such occasions, I
find myself, unconsciously almost, looking about for the mystic mark of red, with the vague
hope of entering her door, and being comforted by her wise tenderness. I then console myself
by saying: “I have come through the door of Dismay; and the way back from the world into
which that has led me, is through my tomb. Upon that the red sign lies, and I shall find it one
day, and be glad.”
I will end my story with the relation of an incident which befell me a few days ago. I had
been with my reapers, and, when they ceased their work at noon, I had lain down under the
shadow of a great, ancient beech-tree, that stood on the edge of the field. As I lay, with my
eyes closed, I began to listen to the sound of the leaves overhead. At first, they made sweet
inarticulate music alone; but, by-and-by, the sound seemed to begin to take shape, and to be
gradually moulding itself into words; till, at last, I seemed able to distinguish these,
halfdissolved in a little ocean of circumfluent tones: “A great good is coming — is coming — is
coming to thee, Anodos;” and so over and over again. I fancied that the sound reminded me
of the voice of the ancient woman, in the cottage that was four-square. I opened my eyes,
and, for a moment, almost believed that I saw her face, with its many wrinkles and its young
eyes, looking at me from between two hoary branches of the beech overhead. But when I
looked more keenly, I saw only twigs and leaves, and the infinite sky, in tiny spots, gazing
through between. Yet I know that good is coming to me — that good is always coming; though
few have at all times the simplicity and the courage to believe it. What we call evil, is the only
and best shape, which, for the person and his condition at the time, could be assumed by the
best good. And so, Farewell.
David Elginbrod
First published: 1863

Chapter 1 — The Fir-Wood
Chapter 2 — David Elginbrod and the New Tutor
Chapter 3 — The Daisy and the Primrose
Chapter 4 — The Cottage
Chapter 5 — The Students
Chapter 6 — The Laird’s Lady
Chapter 7 — The Secret of the Wood
Chapter 8 — A Sunday Morning
Chapter 9 — Nature
Chapter 10 — Harvest
Chapter 11 — A Change and No Change
Chapter 12 — Charity
Chapter 13 — Heraldry
Chapter 14 — Winter
Chapter 15 — Transition
Chapter 1 — A New Home
Chapter 2 — Harry’s New Horse
Chapter 3 — Euphrasia
Chapter 4 — The Cave in the Straw
Chapter 5— Larch and Other Hunting
Chapter 6 — Fatima
Chapter 7 — The Picture Gallery
Chapter 8 — Nest-Building
Chapter 9 — Geography Point
Chapter 10 — Italian
Chapter 11 — The First Midnight
Chapter 12 — A Sunday
Chapter 13 — A Storm
Chapter 14 — An Evening Lecture
Chapter 15 — Another Evening Lecture
Chapter 16 — A New Visitor and an Old Acquaintance
Chapter 17 — Materialism Alias Ghost-Hunting
Chapter 18 — More Materialism and Some Spiritualism
Chapter 19 — The Ghost’s Walk
Chapter 20 — The Bad Man
Chapter 21 — Spirit Versus Materialism
Chapter 22 — The Ring
Chapter 23 — The Wager
Chapter 24 — The Lady Euphrasia
Chapter 25 — Next Morning
Chapter 26 — An Accident
Chapter 27 — More Troubles
Chapter 28 — A Bird’s-Eye View Chapter 29 — Hugh’s Awaking
Chapter 30 — Changes
Chapter 31 — Explanations
Chapter 32 — Departure
Chapter 1 — Lodgings
Chapter 2 — Letters for the Post
Chapter 3 — Endeavours
Chapter 4 — A Letter from the Post
Chapter 5 — Beginnings
Chapter 6 — A Sunday’s Dinner
Chapter 7 — Sunday Evening
Chapter 8 — Euphra
Chapter 9 — The New Pupils
Chapter 10 — Consultations
Chapter 11 — Questions and Dreams
Chapter 12 — A Sunday with Falconer
Chapter 13 — The Lady’s-Maid
Chapter 14 — David Elginbrod
Chapter 15 — Margaret’s Secret
Chapter 16 — Forebodings
Chapter 17 — Strife
Chapter 18 — Victory
Chapter 19 — Margaret
Chapter 20 — A New Guide
Chapter 21 — The Last Groat
Chapter 22 — Death
Chapter 23 — Nature and Her Lady
Chapter 24 — The Fir-Wood Again
Book 1 — Turriepuffit

With him there was a Ploughman, was his brother.
A trewé swinker, and a good was he,
Living in peace and perfect charity.
God loved he best with all his trewé heart,
At allé timés, were it gain or smart,
And then his neighébour right as himselve.
—Chaucer, Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.
Chapter 1 — The Fir-Wood

Of all the flowers in the mead,
Then love I roost these flowers white and rede,
Such that men callen daisies in our town.

I renne blithe
As soon as ever the sun ginneth west,
To see this flower, how it will go to rest,
For fear of night, so hateth she darkness;
Her cheer is plainly spread in the brightness
Of the sunne, for there it will unclose.
—Chaucer, Prologue to the Legend of Good Women.

“Meg! whaur are ye gaein’ that get, like a wull shuttle? Come in to the beuk.”
Meg’s mother stood at the cottage door, with arms akimbo and clouded brow, calling
through the boles of a little forest of fir-trees after her daughter. One would naturally presume
that the phrase she employed, comparing her daughter’s motions to those of a shuttle that
had “gane wull,” or lost its way, implied that she was watching her as she threaded her way
through the trees. But although she could not see her, the fir-wood was certainly the likeliest
place for her daughter to be in; and the figure she employed was not in the least inapplicable
to Meg’s usual mode of wandering through the trees, that operation being commonly
performed in the most erratic manner possible. It was the ordinary occupation of the first hour
of almost every day of Margaret’s life. As soon as she woke in the morning, the fir-wood drew
her towards it, and she rose and went. Through its crowd of slender pillars, she strayed hither
and thither, in an aimless manner, as if resignedly haunting the neighbourhood of something
she had lost, or, hopefully, that of a treasure she expected one day to find.
It did not seem that she had heard her mother’s call, for no response followed; and Janet
Elginbrod returned into the cottage, where David of the same surname, who was already
seated at the white deal table with “the beuk,” or large family bible before him, straightway
commenced reading a chapter in the usual routine from the Old Testament, the New being
reserved for the evening devotions. The chapter was the fortieth of the prophet Isaiah; and as
the voice of the reader re-uttered the words of old inspiration, one might have thought that it
was the voice of the ancient prophet himself, pouring forth the expression of his own faith in
his expostulations with the unbelief of his brethren. The chapter finished — it is none of the
shortest, and Meg had not yet returned — the two knelt, and David prayed thus:
“O Thou who holdest the waters in the hollow of ae han’, and carriest the lambs o’ thy
own making in thy bosom with the other han’, it would be altogether unworthy o’ thee, and o’
thy Maijesty o’ love, to require o’ us that which thou knowest we cannot bring unto thee, until
thou enrich us with that same. Therefore, like thine own bairns, we boo doon afore thee, an’
pray that thou wouldst tak’ thy wull o’ us, thy holy an’ perfect an’ blessed wull o’ us; for, O
God, we are a’ thine ain. An’ for oor lassie, wha’s oot amo’ thy trees, an’ wha’ we dinna think
forgets her Maker, though she may whiles forget her prayers, Lord, keep her a bonnie lassie
in thy sicht, as white and clean in thy een as she is fair an’ halesome in oors; an’ oh! we thank
thee, Father in heaven, for giein’ her to us. An’ noo, for a’ oor wrang-duins an’ ill-min’ins, for a’
oor sins and trespasses o’ mony sorts, dinna forget them, O God, till thou pits them a’ richt,
an’ syne exerceese thy michty power e’en ower thine ain sel, an’ clean forget them
a’thegither; cast them ahint thy back, whaur e’en thine ain een shall ne’er see them again, that
we may walk bold an’ upricht afore thee for evermore, an’ see the face o’ Him wha was as
muckle God in doin’ thy biddin’, as gin he had been ordering’ a’ thing Himsel. For his sake,Ahmen.”
I hope my readers will not suppose that I give this as a specimen of Scotch prayers. I
know better than that. David was an unusual man, and his prayers were unusual prayers. The
present was a little more so in its style, from the fact that one of the subjects of it was absent,
a circumstance that rarely happened. But the degree of difference was too small to be
detected by any but those who were quite accustomed to his forms of thought and
expression. How much of it Janet understood or sympathized with, it is difficult to say; for
anything that could be called a thought rarely crossed the threshold of her utterance. On this
occasion, the moment the prayer was ended, she rose from her knees, smoothed down her
check apron, and went to the door; where, shading her eyes from the sun with her hand, she
peered from under its penthouse into the fir-wood, and said in a voice softened apparently by
the exercise in which she had taken a silent share.
“Whaur can the lassie be?”
And where was the lassie? In the fir-wood, to be sure, with the thousand shadows, and
the sunlight through it all; for at this moment the light fell upon her far in its depths, and
revealed her hastening towards the cottage in as straight a line as the trees would permit, now
blotted out by a crossing shadow, and anon radiant in the sunlight, appearing and vanishing
as she threaded the upright warp of the fir-wood. It was morning all around her; and one
might see that it was morning within her too, as, emerging at last in the small open space
around the cottage, Margaret — I cannot call her Meg, although her mother does — her
father always called her “Maggy, my doo,” Anglicé, dove — Margaret approached her mother
with a bright healthful face, and the least possible expression of uneasiness on her fair
forehead. She carried a book in her hand.
“What gars ye gang stravaguin’ that get, Meg, whan ye ken weel eneuch ye sud a’ been
in to worship lang syne? An sae we maun hae worship our lanes for want o’ you, ye hizzy!”
“I didna ken it was sae late, mither,” replied Margaret, in a submissive tone, musical in
spite of the rugged dialect into which the sounds were fashioned.
“Nae dout! Ye had yer brakfast, an’ ye warna that hungry for the word. But here comes
yer father, and ye’ll no mend for his flytin’, I’se promise.”
“Hoots! lat the bairn alane, Janet, my woman. The word’ll be mair to her afore lang.”
“I wat she has a word o’ her nain there. What beuk hae ye gotten there, Meg? Whaur got
Had it not been for the handsome binding of the book in her daughter’s hand, it would
neither have caught the eye, nor roused the suspicions of Janet. David glanced at the book in
his turn, and a faint expression of surprise, embodied chiefly in the opening of his eyelids a
little wider than usual, crossed his face. But he only said with a smile:
“I didna ken that the tree o’ knowledge, wi’ sic fair fruit, grew in our wud, Maggy, my
“Whaur gat ye the beuk?” reiterated Janet.
Margaret’s face was by this time the colour of the crimson boards of the volume in her
hand, but she replied at once:
“I got it frae Maister Sutherlan’, I reckon.”
Janet’s first response was an inverted whistle; her next, another question:
“Maister Sutherlan’! wha’s that o’t?”
“Hoot, lass!” interposed David, “ye ken weel aneuch. It’s the new tutor lad, up at the
hoose; a fine, douce, honest chield, an’ weel-faured, forby. Lat’s see the bit beuky, lassie.”
Margaret handed it to her father.
“Col-e-ridge’s Poems,” read David, with some difficulty.
“Tak’ it hame direckly,” said Janet.
“Na, na,” said David; “a’ the apples o’ the tree o’ knowledge are no stappit wi sut an stew;
an’ gin this ane be, she’ll sune ken by the taste o’t what’s comin’. It’s no muckle o’ an ill beuk‘at ye’ll read, Maggy, my doo.”
“Guid preserve’s, man! I’m no sayin’ it’s an ill beuk. But it’s no richt to mak appintments
wi’ stranger lads i’ the wud sae ear’ i’ the mornin’. Is’t noo, yersel, Meg?”
“Mither! mither!” said Margaret, and her eyes flashed through the watery veil that tried to
hide them, “hoo can ye? Ye ken yersel I had nae appintment wi’ him or ony man.”
“Weel, weel!” said Janet; and, apparently either satisfied with or overcome by the
emotion she had excited, she turned and went in to pursue her usual house-avocations; while
David, handing the book to his daughter, went away down the path that led from the cottage
door, in the direction of a road to be seen at a little distance through the trees, which
surrounded the cottage on all sides. Margaret followed her mother into the cottage, and was
soon as busy as she with her share of the duties of the household; but it was a good many
minutes before the cloud caused by her mother’s hasty words entirely disappeared from a
forehead which might with especial justice be called the sky of her face.
Meantime David emerged upon the more open road, and bent his course, still through
firtrees, towards a house for whose sake alone the road seemed to have been constructed.
Chapter 2 — David Elginbrod and the New Tutor

Concord between our wit and will
Where highest notes to godliness are raised,
And lowest sink not down to jot of ill.
What Languetus taught Sir Philip Sidney.
—The Arcadia, Third Eclogue.

The House of Turriepuffit stood about a furlong from David’s cottage. It was the abode of
the Laird, or landed proprietor, in whose employment David filled several offices ordinarily
distinct. The estate was a small one, and almost entirely farmed by the owner himself; who,
with David’s help, managed to turn it to good account. Upon week-days, he appeared on
horseback in a costume more fitted for following the plough; but he did not work with his own
hands; and on Sundays was at once recognizable as a country gentleman.
David was his bailiff or grieve, to overlook the labourers on the estate; his steward to pay
them, and keep the farm accounts; his head gardener — for little labour was expended in that
direction, there being only one lady, the mistress of the house, and she no patroness of
useless flowers: David was in fact the laird’s general adviser and executor.
The laird’s family, besides the lady already mentioned, consisted only of two boys, of the
ages of eleven and fourteen, whom he wished to enjoy the same privileges he had himself
possessed, and to whom, therefore, he was giving a classical and mathematical education, in
view of the University, by means of private tutors; the last of whom — for the changes were
not few, seeing the salary was of the smallest — was Hugh Sutherland, the young man
concerning whom David Elginbrod has already given his opinion. But notwithstanding the
freedom he always granted his daughter, and his good opinion of Hugh as well, David could
not help feeling a little anxious, in his walk along the road towards the house, as to what the
apparent acquaintance between her and the new tutor might evolve; but he got rid of all the
difficulty, as far as he was concerned, by saying at last:
“What richt hae I to interfere? even supposin’ I wanted to interfere. But I can lippen weel
to my bonny doo; an’ for the rest, she maun tak’ her chance like the lave o’s. An’ wha’ kens
but it micht jist be stan’in’ afore Him, i’ the very get that He meant to gang. The Lord forgie me
for speakin’ o’ chance, as gin I believed in ony sic havers. There’s no fear o’ the lassie. Gude
mornin’ t’ye, Maister Sutherlan’. That’s a braw beuk o’ ballants ye gae the len’ o’ to my Maggy,
this mornin’, sir.”
Sutherland was just entering a side-door of the house when David accosted him. He was
not old enough to keep from blushing at David’s words; but, having a good conscience, he
was ready with a good answer.
“It’s a good book, Mr. Elginbrod. It will do her no harm, though it be ballads.”
“I’m in no dreed o’ that, sir. Bairns maun hae ballants. An’, to tell the truth, sir, I’m no
muckle mair nor a bairn in that respeck mysel’. In fac, this verra mornin’, at the beuk, I jist
thocht I was readin’ a gran’ godly ballant, an’ it soundet nane the waur for the notion o’t.”
“You should have been a poet yourself, Mr. Elginbrod.”
“Na, na; I ken naething aboot yer poetry. I hae read auld John Milton ower an’ ower,
though I dinna believe the half o’t; but, oh! weel I like some o’ the bonny bitties at the en’ o’t.”
“Il Penseroso, for instance?”
“Is that hoo ye ca’t? I ken’t weel by the sicht, but hardly by the soun’. I aye missed the
name o’t, an’ took to the thing itsel’. Eh, man! — I beg yer pardon, sir — but its wonnerfu’
“I’ll come in some evening, and we’ll have a chat about it,” replied Sutherland. “I must go
to my work now.”“We’ll a’ be verra happy to see you, sir. Good mornin’, sir.”
“Good morning.”
David went to the garden, where there was not much to be done in the way of education
at this season of the year; and Sutherland to the school-room, where he was busy, all the rest
of the morning and part of the afternoon, with Caesar and Virgil, Algebra and Euclid; food
upon which intellectual babes are reared to the stature of college youths.
Sutherland was himself only a youth; for he had gone early to college, and had not yet
quite completed the curriculum. He was now filling up with teaching, the recess between his
third and his fourth winter at one of the Aberdeen Universities. He was the son of an officer,
belonging to the younger branch of a family of some historic distinction and considerable
wealth. This officer, though not far removed from the estate and title as well, had nothing to
live upon but his half-pay; for, to the disgust of his family, he had married a Welsh girl of
ancient descent, in whose line the poverty must have been at least coeval with the history, to
judge from the perfection of its development in the case of her father; and his relations made
this the excuse for quarrelling with him; so relieving themselves from any obligations they
might have been supposed to lie under, of rendering him assistance of some sort or other.
This, however, rather suited the temperament of Major Robert Sutherland, who was prouder
in his poverty than they in their riches. So he disowned them for ever, and accommodated
himself, with the best grace in the world, to his yet more straitened circumstances. He
resolved, however, cost what it might in pinching and squeezing, to send his son to college
before turning him out to shift for himself. In this Mrs. Sutherland was ready to support him to
the utmost; and so they had managed to keep their boy at college for three sessions; after the
last of which, instead of returning home, as he had done on previous occasions, he had
looked about him for a temporary engagement as tutor, and soon found the situation he now
occupied in the family of William Glasford, Esq., of Turriepuffit, where he intended to remain
no longer than the commencement of the session, which would be his fourth and last. To what
he should afterwards devote himself he had by no means made up his mind, except that it
must of necessity be hard work of some kind or other. So he had at least the virtue of desiring
to be independent. His other goods and bads must come out in the course of the story. His
pupils were rather stupid and rather good-natured; so that their temperament operated to
confirm their intellectual condition, and to render the labour of teaching them considerably
irksome. But he did his work tolerably well, and was not so much interested in the result as to
be pained at the moderate degree of his success. At the time of which I write, however, the
probability as to his success was scarcely ascertained, for he had been only a fortnight at the
It was the middle of the month of April, in a rather backward season. The weather had
been stormy, with frequent showers of sleet and snow. Old winter was doing his best to hold
young Spring back by the skirts of her garment, and very few of the wild flowers had yet
ventured to look out of their warm beds in the mould. Sutherland, therefore, had made but few
discoveries in the neighbourhood. Not that the weather would have kept him to the house, had
he had any particular desire to go out; but, like many other students, he had no predilection
for objectless exertion, and preferred the choice of his own weather indoors, namely, from
books and his own imaginings, to an encounter with the keen blasts of the North, charged as
they often were with sharp bullets of hail. When the sun did shine out between the showers,
his cold glitter upon the pools of rain or melted snow, and on the wet evergreens and gravel
walks, always drove him back from the window with a shiver. The house, which was of very
moderate size and comfort, stood in the midst of plantations, principally of Scotch firs and
larches, some of the former old and of great growth, so that they had arrived at the true
condition of the tree, which seems to require old age for the perfection of its idea. There was
very little to be seen from the windows except this wood, which, somewhat gloomy at almost
any season, was at the present cheerless enough; and Sutherland found it very drearyindeed, as exchanged for the wide view from his own home on the side of an open hill in the
In the midst of circumstances so uninteresting, it is not to be wondered at, that the
glimpse of a pretty maiden should, one morning, occasion him some welcome excitement.
Passing downstairs to breakfast, he observed the drawing-room door ajar, and looked in to
see what sort of a room it was; for so seldom was it used that he had never yet entered it.
There stood a young girl, peeping, with mingled curiosity and reverence, into a small
giltleaved volume, which she had lifted from the table by which she stood. He watched her for a
moment with some interest; when she, seeming to become mesmerically aware that she was
not alone, looked up, blushed deeply, put down the book in confusion, and proceeded to dust
some of the furniture. It was his first sight of Margaret. Some of the neighbours were
expected to dinner, and her aid was in requisition to get the grand room of the house
prepared for the occasion. He supposed her to belong to the household, till, one day, feeling
compelled to go out for a stroll, he caught sight of her so occupied at the door of her father’s
cottage, that he perceived at once that must be her home: she was, in fact, seated upon a
stool, paring potatoes. She saw him as well, and, apparently ashamed at the recollection of
having been discovered idling in the drawing-room, rose and went in. He had met David once
or twice about the house, and, attracted by his appearance, had had some conversation with
him; but he did not know where he lived, nor that he was the father of the girl whom he had
Chapter 3 — The Daisy and the Primrose

Dear secret Greenness, nursed below
Tempests and winds and winter nights!
Vex not that but one sees thee grow;
That One made all these lesser lights.
—Henry Vaughan.

It was, of course, quite by accident that Sutherland had met Margaret in the fir-wood.
The wind had changed during the night, and swept all the clouds from the face of the sky; and
when he looked out in the morning, he saw the fir-tops waving in the sunlight, and heard the
sound of a south-west wind sweeping through them with the tune of running waters in its
course. It is a well-practised ear that can tell whether the sound it hears be that of gently
falling waters, or of wind flowing through the branches of firs. Sutherland’s heart, reviving like
a dormouse in its hole, began to be joyful at the sight of the genial motions of Nature, telling of
warmth and blessedness at hand. Some goal of life, vague but sure, seemed to glimmer
through the appearances around him, and to stimulate him to action. Be dressed in haste, and
went out to meet the Spring. He wandered into the heart of the wood. The sunlight shone like
a sunset upon the red trunks and boughs of the old fir-trees, but like the first sunrise of the
world upon the new green fringes that edged the young shoots of the larches. High up, hung
the memorials of past summers in the rich brown tassels of the clustering cones; while the
ground under foot was dappled with sunshine on the fallen fir-needles, and the great fallen
cones which had opened to scatter their autumnal seed, and now lay waiting for decay.
Overhead, the tops whence they had fallen, waved in the wind, as in welcome of the Spring,
with that peculiar swinging motion which made the poets of the sixteenth century call them
“sailing pines.” The wind blew cool, but not cold; and was filled with a delicious odour from the
earth, which Sutherland took as a sign that she was coming alive at last. And the Spring he
went out to meet, met him. For, first, at the foot of a tree, he spied a tiny primrose, peeping
out of its rough, careful leaves; and he wondered how, by any metamorphosis, such leaves
could pass into such a flower. Had he seen the mother of the next spring-messenger he was
about to meet, the same thought would have returned in another form. For, next, as he
passed on with the primrose in his hand, thinking it was almost cruel to pluck it, the Spring
met him, as if in her own shape, in the person of Margaret, whom he spied a little way off,
leaning against the stem of a Scotch fir, and looking up to its top swaying overhead in the first
billows of the outburst ocean of life. He went up to her with some shyness; for the presence of
even a child-maiden was enough to make Sutherland shy — partly from the fear of startling
her shyness, as one feels when drawing near a couching fawn. But she, when she heard his
footsteps, dropped her eyes slowly from the tree-top, and, as if she were in her own
sanctuary, waited his approach. He said nothing at first, but offered her, instead of speech,
the primrose he had just plucked, which she received with a smile of the eyes only, and the
sweetest “thank you, sir,” he had ever heard. But while she held the primrose in her hand, her
eyes wandered to the book which, according to his custom, Sutherland had caught up as he
left the house. It was the only well-bound book in his possession; and the eyes of Margaret,
not yet tutored by experience, naturally expected an entrancing page within such beautiful
boards; for the gayest bindings she had seen, were those of a few old annuals up at the
house — and were they not full of the most lovely tales and pictures? In this case, however,
her expectation was not vain; for the volume was, as I have already disclosed, Coleridge’s
Seeing her eyes fixed upon the book — “Would you like to read it?” said he.
“If you please, sir,” answered Margaret, her eyes brightening with the expectation ofdeliglit.
“Are you fond of poetry?”
Her face fell. The only poetry she knew was the Scotch Psalms and Paraphrases, and
such last-century verses as formed the chief part of the selections in her school-books; for
this was a very retired parish, and the newer books had not yet reached its school. She had
hoped chiefly for tales.
“I dinna ken much about poetry,” she answered, trying to speak English. “There’s an old
book o’t on my father’s shelf; but the letters o’t are auld-fashioned, an’ I dinna care aboot it.”
“But this is quite easy to read, and very beautiful,” said Hugh.
The girl’s eyes glistened for a moment, and this was all her reply.
“Would you like to read it?” resumed Hugh, seeing no further answer was on the road.
She held out her hand towards the volume. When he, in his turn, held the volume
towards her hand, she almost snatched it from him, and ran towards the house, without a
word of thanks or leave-taking — whether from eagerness, or doubt of the propriety of
accepting the offer, Hugh could not conjecture. He stood for some moments looking after her,
and then retraced his steps towards the house.
It would have been something, in the monotony of one of the most trying of positions, to
meet one who snatched at the offered means of spiritual growth, even if that disciple had not
been a lovely girl, with the woman waking in her eyes. He commenced the duties of the day
with considerably more of energy than he had yet brought to bear on his uninteresting pupils;
and this energy did not flag before its effects upon the boys began to react in fresh impulse
upon itself.
Chapter 4 — The Cottage

O little Bethlem! poor in walls,
But rich in furniture.
—John Mason’s Spiritual Songs.

There was one great alleviation to the various discomforts of Sutherland’s tutor-life. It
was, that, except during school-hours, he was expected to take no charge whatever of his
pupils. They ran wild all other times; which was far better, in every way, both for them and for
him. Consequently, he was entirely his own master beyond the fixed margin of scholastic
duties; and he soon found that his absence, even from the table, was a matter of no interest
to the family. To be sure, it involved his own fasting till the next meal-time came round — for
the lady was quite a household martinet; but that was his own concern.
That very evening, he made his way to David’s cottage, about the country supper-time,
when he thought he should most likely find him at home. It was a clear, still, moonlit night, with
just an air of frost. There was light enough for him to see that the cottage was very neat and
tidy, looking, in the midst of its little forest, more like an English than a Scotch habitation. He
had had the advantage of a few months’ residence in a leafy region on the other side of the
Tweed, and so was able to make the comparison. But what a different leafage that was from
this! That was soft, floating, billowy; this hard, stiff, and straight-lined, interfering so little with
the skeleton form, that it needed not to be put off in the wintry season of death, to make the
trees in harmony with the landscape. A light was burning in the cottage, visible through the
inner curtain of muslin, and the outer one of frost. As he approached the door, he heard the
sound of a voice; and from the even pitch of the tone, he concluded at once that its owner
was reading aloud. The measured cadence soon convinced him that it was verse that was
being read; and the voice was evidently that of David, and not of Margaret. He knocked at the
door. The voice ceased, chairs were pushed back, and a heavy step approached. David
opened the door himself.
“Eh! Maister Sutherlan’,” said he, “I thocht it micht aiblins be yersel. Ye’re welcome, sir.
Come butt the hoose. Our place is but sma’, but ye’ll no min’ sitttin’ doon wi’ our ain sels.
Janet, ooman, this is Maister Sutherlan’. Maggy, my doo, he’s a frien’ o’ yours, o’ a day auld,
already. Ye’re kindly welcome, Maister Sutherlan’. I’m sure it’s verra kin’ o’ you to come an’
see the like o’ huz.”
As Hugh entered, he saw his own bright volume lying on the table, evidently that from
which David had just been reading.
Margaret had already placed for him a cushioned arm-chair, the only comfortable one in
the house; and presently, the table being drawn back, they were all seated round the peat-fire
on the hearth, the best sort for keeping feet warm at least. On the crook, or hooked iron-chain
suspended within the chimney, hung a three-footed pot, in which potatoes were boiling away
merrily for supper. By the side of the wide chimney, or more properly lum, hung an iron lamp,
of an old classical form common to the country, from the beak of which projected, almost
horizontally, the lighted wick — the pith of a rush. The light perched upon it was small but
clear, and by it David had been reading. Margaret sat right under it, upon a creepie, or small
three-legged wooden stool. Sitting thus, with the light falling on her from above, Hugh could
not help thinking she looked very pretty. Almost the only object in the distance from which the
feeble light was reflected, was the patch-work counterpane of a little bed filling a recess in the
wall, fitted with doors which stood open. It was probably Margaret’s refuge for the night.
“Well,” said the tutor, after they had been seated a few minutes, and had had some talk
about the weather — surely no despicable subject after such a morning — the first of Spring
— “well, how do you like the English poet, Mr. Elginbrod?”“Spier that at me this day week, Maister Sutherlan’, an’ I’ll aiblins answer ye; but no the
nicht, no the nicht.”
“What for no?” said Hugh, taking up the dialect.
“For ae thing, we’re nae clean through wi’ the auld sailor’s story yet; an’ gin I hae learnt
ae thing aboon anither, its no to pass jeedgment upo’ halves. I hae seen ill weather half the
simmer, an’ a thrang corn-yard after an’ a’, an’ that o’ the best. No that I’m ill pleased wi’ the
bonny ballant aither.”
“Weel, will ye jist lat me read the lave o’t till ye?”
“Wi’ muckle pleesur, sir, an’ mony thanks.”
He showed Hugh how far they had got in the reading of the “Ancient Mariner”;
whereupon he took up the tale, and carried it on to the end. He had some facility in reading
with expression, and his few affectations — for it must be confessed he was not free of such
faults — were not of a nature to strike uncritical hearers. When he had finished, he looked up,
and his eye chancing to light upon Margaret first, he saw that her cheek was quite pale, and
her eyes overspread with the film, not of coming tears, but of emotion notwithstanding.
“Well,” said Hugh, again, willing to break the silence, and turning towards David, “what do
you think of it now you have heard it all?”
Whether Janet interrupted her husband or not, I cannot tell; but she certainly spoke first:
“Tshâvah!” — equivalent to pshaw — “it’s a’ lees. What for are ye knittin’ yer broos ower
a leein’ ballant — a’ havers as weel as lees?”
“I’m no jist prepared to say sae muckle, Janet,” replied David; “there’s mony a thing ‘at’s
lees, as ye ca’t, ‘at’s no lees a’ through. Ye see, Maister Sutherlan’, I’m no gleg at the uptak,
an’ it jist taks me twise as lang as ither fowk to see to the ootside o’ a thing. Whiles a
sentence ‘ill leuk to me clean nonsense a’thegither; an’ maybe a haill ook efter, it’ll come upo’
me a’ at ance; an’ fegs! it’s the best thing in a’ the beuk.”
Margaret’s eyes were fixed on her father with a look which I can only call faithfulness, as
if every word he spoke was truth, whether she could understand it or not.
“But perhaps we may look too far for meanings sometimes,” suggested Sutherland.
“Maybe, maybe; but when a body has a suspeecion o’ a trowth, he sud never lat sit till
he’s gotten eyther hit, or an assurance that there’s nothing there. But there’s jist ae thing, in
the poem ‘at I can pit my finger upo’, an’ say ‘at it’s no richt clear to me whether it’s a’
straucht-foret or no?”
“What’s that, Mr. Elginbrod?”
“It’s jist this — what for a’ thae sailor-men fell doon deid, an’ the chield ‘at shot the bonnie
burdie, an’ did a’ the mischeef, cam’ to little hurt i’ the ‘en — comparateevely.”
“Well,” said Hugh, “I confess I’m not prepared to answer the question. If you get any light
on the subject” —
“Ow, I daursay I may. A heap o’ things comes to me as I’m takin’ a daunder by mysel’ i’
the gloamin’. I’ll no say a thing’s wrang till I hae tried it ower an’ ower; for maybe I haena a
richt grip o’ the thing ava.”
“What can ye expec, Dawvid, o’ a leevin’ corp, an’ a’ that? — ay, twa hunner corps —
fower times fifty’s twa hunner — an’ angels turnin’ sailors, an’ sangs gaein fleein’ aboot like
laverocks, and tummelin’ doon again, tired like? — Gude preserve’s a’!”
“Janet, do ye believe ‘at ever a serpent spak?”
“Hoot! Dawvid, the deil was in him, ye ken.”
“The deil a word o’ that’s i’ the word itsel, though,” rejoined David with a smile.
“Dawvid,” said Janet, solemnly, and with some consternation, “ye’re no gaein’ to tell me,
sittin’ there, at ye dinna believe ilka word ‘at’s prentit atween the twa brods o’ the Bible? What
will Maister Sutherlan’ think o’ ye?”
“Janet, my bonnie lass —” and here David’s eyes beamed upon his wife — “I believe as
mony o’ them as ye do, an’ maybe a wheen mair, my dawtie. Keep yer min’ easy aboot that.But ye jist see ‘at fowk warna a’thegither saitisfeed aboot a sairpent speikin’, an’ sae they
leukit aboot and aboot till at last they fand the deil in him. Gude kens whether he was there or
no. Noo, ye see hoo, gin we was to leuk weel aboot thae corps, an’ thae angels, an’ a’ that
queer stuff — but oh! it’s bonny stuff tee! — we micht fa’ in wi’ something we didna
awthegither expec, though we was leukin’ for’t a’ the time. Sae I maun jist think aboot it, Mr.
Sutherlan’; an’ I wad fain read it ower again, afore I lippen on giein’ my opingan on the maitter.
Ye cud lave the bit beukie, sir? We’se tak’ guid care o’t.”
“Ye’re verra welcome to that or ony ither beuk I hae,” replied Hugh, who began to feel
already as if he were in the hands of a superior.
“Mony thanks; but ye see, sir, we hae eneuch to chow upo’ for an aucht days or so.”
By this time the potatoes wore considered to be cooked, and were accordingly lifted off
the fire. The water was then poured away, the lid put aside, and the pot hung once more upon
the crook, hooked a few rings further up in the chimney, in order that the potatoes might be
thoroughly dry before they were served. Margaret was now very busy spreading the cloth and
laying spoon and plates on the table. Hugh rose to go.
“Will ye no bide,” said Janet, in a most hospitable tone, “an’ tak’ a het pitawta wi’ us?”
“I’m afraid of being troublesome,” answered he.
“Nae fear o’ that, gin ye can jist pit up wi’ oor hamely meat.”
“Mak nae apologies, Janet, my woman,” said David. “A het pitawta’s aye guid fare, for
gentle or semple. Sit ye doun again, Maister Sutherlan’. Maggy, my doo, whaur’s the milk?”
“I thocht Hawkie wad hae a drappy o’ het milk by this time,” said Margaret, “and sae I jist
loot it be to the last; but I’ll hae’t drawn in twa minutes.” And away she went with a jug,
commonly called a decanter in that part of the north, in her hand.
“That’s hardly fair play to Hawkie,” said David to Janet with a smile.
“Hoot! Dawvid, ye see we haena a stranger ilka nicht.”
“But really,” said Hugh, “I hope this is the last time you will consider me a stranger, for I
shall be here a great many times — that is, if you don’t get tired of me.”
“Gie us the chance at least, Maister Sutherlan’. It’s no sma’ preevilege to fowk like us to
hae a frien’ wi’ sae muckle buik learnin’ as ye hae, sir.”
“I am afraid it looks more to you than it really is.”
“Weel, ye see, we maun a’ leuk at the starns frae the hicht o’ oor ain een. An’ ye seem
nigher to them by a lang growth than the lave o’s. My man, ye ought to be thankfu’.”
With the true humility that comes of worshipping the Truth, David had not the smallest
idea that he was immeasurably nearer to the stars than Hugh Sutherland.
Maggie having returned with her jug full of frothy milk, and the potatoes being already
heaped up in a wooden bowl or bossie in the middle of the table, sending the smoke of their
hospitality to the rafters, Janet placed a smaller wooden bowl, called a caup, filled with
deliciously yellow milk of Hawkie’s latest gathering, for each individual of the company, with an
attendant horn-spoon by its side. They all drew their chairs to the table, and David, asking no
blessing, as it was called, but nevertheless giving thanks for the blessing already bestowed,
namely, the perfect gift of food, invited Hugh to make a supper. Each, in primitive but not
ungraceful fashion, took a potatoe from the dish with the fingers, and ate it, “bite and sup,”
with the help of the horn-spoon for the milk. Hugh thought he had never supped more
pleasantly, and could not help observing how far real good-breeding is independent of the
forms and refinements of what has assumed to itself the name of society.
Soon after supper was over, it was time for him to go; so, after kind hand-shakings and
good nights, David accompanied him to the road, where he left him to find his way home by
the star-light. As he went, he could not help pondering a little over the fact that a labouring
man had discovered a difficulty, perhaps a fault, in one of his favourite poems, which had
never suggested itself to him. He soon satisfied himself, however, by coming to the conclusion
that the poet had not cared about the matter at all, having had no further intention in thepoem than Hugh himself had found in it, namely, witchery and loveliness. But it seemed to the
young student a wonderful fact, that the intercourse which was denied him in the laird’s family,
simply from their utter incapacity of yielding it, should be afforded him in the family of a man
who had followed the plough himself once, perhaps did so still, having risen only to be the
overseer and superior assistant of labourers. He certainly felt, on his way home, much more
reconciled to the prospect of his sojourn at Turriepuffit, than he would have thought it possible
he ever should.
David lingered a few moments, looking up at the stars, before he re-entered his cottage.
When he rejoined his wife and child, he found the Bible already open on the table for their
evening devotions. I will close this chapter, as I began the first, with something like his prayer.
David’s prayers were characteristic of the whole man; but they also partook, in far more than
ordinary, of the mood of the moment. His last occupation had been star-gazing:
“O thou, wha keeps the stars alicht, an’ our souls burnin’ wi’ a licht aboon that o’ the
stars, grant that they may shine afore thee as the stars for ever and ever. An’ as thou hauds
the stars burnin’ a’ the nicht, whan there’s no man to see, so haud thou the licht burnin’ in our
souls, whan we see neither thee nor it, but are buried in the grave o’ sleep an’ forgetfu’ness.
Be thou by us, even as a mother sits by the bedside o’ her ailin’ wean a’ the lang nicht; only
be thou nearer to us, even in our verra souls, an’ watch ower the warl’ o’ dreams that they
mak’ for themsels. Grant that more an’ more thochts o’ thy thinkin’ may come into our herts
day by day, till there shall be at last an open road atween thee an’ us, an’ thy angels may
ascend and descend upon us, so that we may be in thy heaven, e’en while we are upo’ thy
earth: Amen.”
Chapter 5 — The Students

In wood and stone, not the softest, but hardest, be always aptest for
portraiture, both fairest for pleasure, and most durable for profit. Hard
wits be hard to receive, but sure to keep; painful without weariness,
heedful without wavering, constant without new-fangleness; bearing
heavy things, though not lightly, yet willingly; entering hard things, though
not easily, yet deeply; and so come to that perfectness of learning in the
end, that quick wits seem in hope but do not in deed, or else very seldom
ever attain unto.
—Roger Ascham, The Schoolmaster.

Two or three very simple causes united to prevent Hugh from repeating his visit to David
so soon as he would otherwise have done. One was, that, the fine weather continuing, he was
seized with the desire of exploring the neighbourhood. The spring, which sets some wild
animals to the construction of new dwellings, incites man to the enlarging of his, making, as it
were, by discovery, that which lies around him his own. So he spent the greater parts of
several evenings in wandering about the neighbourhood; till at length the moonlight failed him.
Another cause was, that, in the act of searching for some books for his boys, in an old garret
of the house, which was at once lumber room and library, he came upon some stray volumes
of the Waverley novels, with which he was as yet only partially acquainted. These absorbed
many of his spare hours. But one evening, while reading the Heart of Midlothian, the thought
struck him — what a character David would have been for Sir Walter. Whether he was right or
not is a question; but the notion brought David so vividly before him, that it roused the desire
to see him. He closed the book at once, and went to the cottage.
“We’re no lik’ly to ca’ ye onything but a stranger yet, Maister Sutherlan’,” said David, as
he entered.
“I’ve been busy since I saw you,” was all the excuse Hugh offered.
“Weel, ye’r welcome noo; and ye’ve jist come in time after a’, for it’s no that mony hours
sin’ I fand it oot awthegither to my ain settisfaction.”
“Found out what?” said Hugh; for he had forgotten all about the perplexity in which he
had left David, and which had been occupying his thoughts ever since their last interview.
“Aboot the cross-bow an’ the birdie, ye ken,” answered David, in a tone of surprise.
“Yes, to be sure. How stupid of me!” said Hugh.
“Weel, ye see, the meanin’ o’ the haill ballant is no that ill to win at, seein’ the poet
himsel’ tells us that. It’s jist no to be proud or ill-natured to oor neebours, the beasts and birds,
for God made ane an’ a’ o’s. But there’s harder things in’t nor that, and yon’s the hardest. But
ye see it was jist an unlucky thochtless deed o’ the puir auld sailor’s, an’ I’m thinkin’ he was
sair reprocht in’s hert the minit he did it. His mates was fell angry at him, no for killin’ the puir
innocent craytur, but for fear o’ ill luck in consequence. Syne when nane followed, they turned
richt roun’, an’ took awa’ the character o’ the puir beastie efter ‘twas deid. They appruved o’
the verra thing ‘at he was nae doot sorry for. — But onything to haud aff o’ themsels! Nae
suner cam the calm, than roun’ they gaed again like the weathercock, an’ naething wad
content them bit hingin’ the deid craytur about the auld man’s craig, an’ abusin’ him forby. Sae
ye see hoo they war a wheen selfish crayturs, an’ a hantle waur nor the man ‘at was led
astray into an ill deed. But still he maun rue’t. Sae Death got them, an’ a kin’ o’ leevin’ Death,
a she Death as ‘twar, an’ in some respecks may be waur than the ither, got grips o’ him, puir
auld body! It’s a’ fair and richt to the backbane o’ the ballant, Maister Sutherlan’, an’ that I’se
Hugh could not help feeling considerably astonished to hear this criticism from the lips ofone whom he considered an uneducated man. For he did not know that there are many other
educations besides a college one, some of them tending far more than that to develope the
common-sense, or faculty of judging of things by their nature. Life intelligently met and
honestly passed, is the best education of all; except that higher one to which it is intended to
lead, and to which it had led David. Both these educations, however, were nearly unknown to
the student of books. But he was still more astonished to hear from the lips of Margaret, who
was sitting by:
“That’s it, father; that’s it! I was jist ettlin’ efter that same thing mysel, or something like it,
but ye put it in the richt words exackly.”
The sound of her voice drew Hugh’s eyes upon her: he was astonished at the alteration
in her countenance. While she spoke it was absolutely beautiful. As soon as she ceased
speaking, it settled back into its former shadowless calm. Her father gave her one approving
glance and nod, expressive of no surprise at her having approached the same discovery as
himself, but testifying pleasure at the coincidence of their opinions. Nothing was left for Hugh
but to express his satisfaction with the interpretation of the difficulty, and to add, that the
poem would henceforth possess fresh interest for him.
After this, his visits became more frequent; and at length David made a request which
led to their greater frequency still. It was to this effect:
“Do ye think, Mr. Sutherlan’, I could do onything at my age at the mathematics? I
unnerstan’ weel eneuch hoo to measur’ lan’, an’ that kin’ o’ thing. I jist follow the rule. But the
rule itsel’s a puzzler to me. I dinna understan’ it by half. Noo it seems to me that the best o’ a
rule is, no to mak ye able to do a thing, but to lead ye to what maks the rule richt — to the
prenciple o’ the thing. It’s no ‘at I’m misbelievin’ the rule, but I want to see the richts o’t.”
“I’ve no doubt you could learn fast enough,” replied Hugh. “I shall be very happy to help
you with it.”
“Na, na; I’m no gaein to trouble you. Ye hae eneuch to do in that way. But if ye could jist
spare me ane or twa o’ yer beuks whiles — ony o’ them ‘at ye think proper, I sud be muckle
obleeged te ye.”
Hugh promised and fulfilled; but the result was, that, before long, both the father and the
daughter were seated at the kitchen-table, every evening, busy with Euclid and Algebra; and
that, on most evenings, Hugh was present as their instructor. It was quite a new pleasure to
him. Few delights surpass those of imparting knowledge to the eager recipient. What made
Hugh’s tutor-life irksome, was partly the excess of his desire to communicate, over the desire
of his pupils to partake. But here there was no labour. All the questions were asked by the
scholars. A single lesson had not passed, however, before David put questions which Hugh
was unable to answer, and concerning which he was obliged to confess his ignorance. Instead
of being discouraged, as eager questioners are very ready to be when they receive no
answer, David merely said, “Weel, weel, we maun bide a wee,” and went on with what he was
able to master. Meantime Margaret, though forced to lag a good way behind her father, and
to apply much more frequently to their tutor for help, yet secured all she got; and that is great
praise for any student. She was not by any means remarkably quick, but she knew when she
did not understand; and that is a sure and indispensable step towards understanding. It is
indeed a rarer gift than the power of understanding itself.
The gratitude of David was too deep to be expressed in any formal thanks. It broke out
at times in two or three simple words when the conversation presented an opportunity, or in
the midst of their work, as by its own self-birth, ungenerated by association.
During the lesson, which often lasted more than two hours, Janet would be busy about
the room, and in and out of it, with a manifest care to suppress all unnecessary bustle. As
soon as Hugh made his appearance, she would put off the stout shoes — man’s shoes, as we
should consider them — which she always wore at other times, and put on a pair of bauchles;
that is, an old pair of her Sunday shoes, put down at heel, and so converted into slippers, withwhich she could move about less noisily. At times her remarks would seem to imply that she
considered it rather absurd in her husband to trouble himself with book-learning; but evidently
on the ground that he knew everything already that was worthy of the honour of his
acquaintance; whereas, with regard to Margaret, her heart was as evidently full of pride at the
idea of the education her daughter was getting from the laird’s own tutor.
Now and then she would stand still for a moment, and gaze at them, with her bright black
eyes, from under the white frills of her mutch, her bare brown arms akimbo, and a look of
pride upon her equally brown honest face.
Her dress consisted of a wrapper, or short loose jacket, of printed calico, and a blue
winsey petticoat, which she had a habit of tucking between her knees, to keep it out of harm’s
way, as often as she stooped to any wet work, or, more especially, when doing anything by
the fire. Margaret’s dress was, in ordinary, like her mother’s, with the exception of the cap;
but, every evening, when their master was expected, she put off her wrapper, and substituted
a gown of the same material, a cotton print; and so, with her plentiful dark hair gathered
neatly under a net of brown silk, the usual head-dress of girls in her position, both in and out
of doors, sat down dressed for the sacrament of wisdom. David made no other preparation
than the usual evening washing of his large well-wrought hands, and bathing of his head,
covered with thick dark hair, plentifully lined with grey, in a tub of cold water; from which his
face, which was “cremsin dyed ingrayne” by the weather, emerged glowing. He sat down at
the table in his usual rough blue coat and plain brass buttons; with his breeches of
broadstriped corduroy, his blue-ribbed stockings, and leather gaiters, or cuiticans, disposed under
the table, and his shoes, with five rows of broad-headed nails in the soles, projecting from
beneath it on the other side; for he was a tall man — six feet still, although five-and-fifty, and
considerably bent in the shoulders with hard work. Sutherland’s style was that of a gentleman
who must wear out his dress-coat.
Such was the group which, three or four evenings in the week, might be seen in David
Elginbrod’s cottage, seated around the white deal table, with their books and slates upon it,
and searching, by the light of a tallow candle, substituted as more convenient, for the ordinary
lamp, after the mysteries of the universe.
The influences of reviving nature and of genial companionship operated very favourably
upon Hugh’s spirits, and consequently upon his whole powers. For some time he had, as I
have already hinted, succeeded in interesting his boy-pupils in their studies; and now the
progress they made began to be appreciable to themselves as well as to their tutor. This of
course made them more happy and more diligent. There were no attempts now to work upon
their parents for a holiday; no real or pretended head or tooth-aches, whose disability was
urged against the greater torture of ill-conceded mental labour. They began in fact to
understand; and, in proportion to the beauty and value of the thing understood, to understand
is to enjoy. Therefore the laird and his lady could not help seeing that the boys were doing
well, far better in fact than they had ever done before; and consequently began not only to
prize Hugh’s services, but to think more highly of his office than had been their wont. The laird
would now and then invite him to join him in a tumbler of toddy after dinner, or in a ride round
the farm after school hours. But it must be confessed that these approaches to friendliness
were rather irksome to Hugh; for whatever the laird might have been as a collegian, he was
certainly now nothing more than a farmer. Where David Elginbrod would have described many
a “bonny sicht,” the laird only saw the probable results of harvest, in the shape of figures in his
banking book. On one occasion, Hugh roused his indignation by venturing to express his
admiration of the delightful mingling of colours in a field where a good many scarlet poppies
grew among the green blades of the corn, indicating, to the agricultural eye, the poverty of the
soil where they were found. This fault in the soil, the laird, like a child, resented upon the
poppies themselves.
“Nasty, ugly weyds! We’ll hae ye admirin’ the smut neist,” said he, contemptuously;“‘cause the bairns can bleck ane anither’s faces wi’t.”
“But surely,” said Hugh, “putting other considerations aside, you must allow that the
colour, especially when mingled with that of the corn, is beautiful.”
“Deil hae’t! It’s jist there ‘at I canna bide the sicht o’t. Beauty ye may ca’ ‘t! I see nane o’t.
I’d as sune hae a reid-heedit bairn, as see thae reid-coatit rascals i’ my corn. I houp ye’re no
gaen to cram stuff like that into the heeds o’ the twa laddies. Faith! we’ll hae them sawin’ thae
ill-faured weyds amang the wheyt neist. Poapies ca’ ye them? Weel I wat they’re the Popp’s
ain bairns, an’ the scarlet wumman to the mither o’ them. Ha! ha! ha!”
Having manifested both wit and Protestantism in the closing sentence of his objurgation,
the laird relapsed into good humour and stupidity. Hugh would gladly have spent such hours in
David’s cottage instead; but he was hardly prepared to refuse his company to Mr. Glasford.
Chapter 6 — The Laird’s Lady

Ye archewyves, standith at defence,
Sin ye been strong, as is a great camayle;
Ne suffer not that men you don offence.
And slender wives, fell as in battaile,
Beth eager, as is a tiger, yond in Inde;
Aye clappith as a mill, I you counsaile.
—Chaucer, The Clerk’s Tale.

The length and frequency of Hugh’s absences, careless as she was of his presence, had
already attracted the attention of Mrs. Glasford; and very little trouble had to be expended on
the discovery of his haunt. For the servants knew well enough where he went, and of course
had come to their own conclusions as to the object of his visits. So the lady chose to think it
her duty to expostulate with Hugh on the subject. Accordingly, one morning after breakfast,
the laird having gone to mount his horse, and the boys to have a few minutes’ play before
lessons, Mrs. Glasford, who had kept her seat at the head of the table, waiting for the
opportunity, turned towards Hugh who sat reading the week’s news, folded her hands on the
tablecloth, drew herself up yet a little more stiffly in her chair, and thus addressed him:
“It’s my duty, Mr. Sutherland, seein’ ye have no mother to look after ye —”
Hugh expected something matronly about his linen or his socks, and put down his
newspaper with a smile; but, to his astonishment, she went on —
— “To remonstrate wi’ ye, on the impropriety of going so often to David Elginbrod’s.
They’re not company for a young gentleman like you, Mr. Sutherland.”
“They’re good enough company for a poor tutor, Mrs. Glasford,” replied Hugh, foolishly
“Not at all, not at all,” insisted the lady. “With your connexions —”
“Good gracious! who ever said anything about my connexions? I never pretended to
have any.” Hugh was getting angry already.
Mrs. Glasford nodded her head significantly, as much as to say, “I know more about you
than you imagine,” and then went on:
“Your mother will never forgive me if you get into a scrape with that smooth-faced hussy;
and if her father, honest man hasn’t eyes enough in his head, other people have — ay, an’
tongues too, Mr. Sutherland.”
Hugh was on the point of forgetting his manners, and consigning all the above mentioned
organs to perdition; but he managed to restrain his wrath, and merely said that Margaret was
one of the best girls he had ever known, and that there was no possible danger of any kind of
scrape with her. This mode of argument, however, was not calculated to satisfy Mrs.
Glasford. She returned to the charge.
“She’s a sly puss, with her shy airs and graces. Her father’s jist daft wi’ conceit o’ her, an’
it’s no to be surprised if she cast a glamour ower you. Mr. Sutherland, ye’re but young yet.”
Hugh’s pride presented any alliance with a lassie who had herded the laird’s cows
barefoot, and even now tended their own cow, as an all but inconceivable absurdity; and he
resented, more than he could have thought possible, the entertainment of such a degrading
idea in the mind of Mrs. Glasford. Indignation prevented him from replying; while she went on,
getting more vernacular as she proceeded.
“It’s no for lack o’ company ‘at yer driven to seek theirs, I’m sure. There’s twa as fine
lads an’ gude scholars as ye’ll fin’ in the haill kintra-side, no to mention the laird and mysel’.”
But Hugh could bear it no longer; nor would he condescend to excuse or explain his
conduct.“Madam, I beg you will not mention this subject again.”
“But I will mention ‘t, Mr. Sutherlan’; an’ if ye’ll no listen to rizzon, I’ll go to them ‘at maun
“I am accountable to you, madam, for my conduct in your house, and for the way in
which I discharge my duty to your children — no further.”
“Do ye ca’ that dischairgin’ yer duty to my bairns, to set them the example o’ hingin’ at a
quean’s âpron-strings, and fillin’ her lug wi’ idle havers? Ca’ ye that dischairgin’ yer duty? My
certie! a bonny dischairgin’!”
“I never see the girl but in her father and mother’s presence.”
“Weel, weel, Mr. Sutherlan’,” said Mrs. Glasford, in a final tone, and trying to smother the
anger which she felt she had allowed to carry her further than was decorous, “we’ll say nae
mair aboot it at present; but I maun jist speak to the laird himsel’, an’ see what he says till ‘t.”
And, with this threat, she walked out of the room in what she considered a dignified
Hugh was exceedingly annoyed at this treatment, and thought, at first, of throwing up his
situation at once; but he got calmer by degrees, and saw that it would be to his own loss, and
perhaps to the injury of his friends at the cottage. So he took his revenge by recalling the
excited face of Mrs. Glasford, whose nose had got as red with passion as the protuberance of
a turkey-cock when gobbling out its unutterable feelings of disdain. He dwelt upon this
soothing contemplation till a fit of laughter relieved him, and he was able to go and join his
pupils as if nothing had happened.
Meanwhile the lady sent for David, who was at work in the garden, into no less an
audience-chamber than the drawing-room, the revered abode of all the tutelar deities of the
house; chief amongst which were the portraits of the laird and herself: he, plethoric and
wrapped in voluminous folds of neckerchief — she long-necked, and lean, and
bareshouldered. The original of the latter work of art seated herself in the most important chair in
the room; and when David, after carefully wiping the shoes he had already wiped three times
on his way up, entered with a respectful but no wise obsequious bow, she ordered him, with
the air of an empress, to shut the door. When he had obeyed, she ordered him, in a similar
tone, to be seated; for she sought to mingle condescension and conciliation with severity.
“David,” she then began, “I am informed that ye keep open door to our Mr. Sutherland,
and that he spends most forenichts in your company.”
“Weel, mem, it’s verra true,” was all David’s answer. He sat in an expectant attitude.
“Dawvid, I wonner at ye!” returned Mrs. Glasford, forgetting her dignity, and becoming
confidentially remonstrative. “Here’s a young gentleman o’ talans, wi’ ilka prospeck o’ waggin’
his heid in a poopit some day; an’ ye aid an’ abet him in idlin’ awa’ his time at your chimla-lug,
duin’ waur nor naething ava! I’m surprised at ye, Dawvid. I thocht ye had mair sense.”
David looked out of his clear, blue, untroubled eyes, upon the ruffled countenance of his
mistress, with an almost paternal smile.
“Weel, mem, I maun say I dinna jist think the young man’s in the warst o’ company,
when he’s at our ingle-neuk. An’ for idlin’ o’ his time awa’, it’s weel waurd for himsel’, forby for
us, gin holy words binna lees.”
“What do ye mean, Dawvid?” said the lady rather sharply, for she loved no riddles.
“I mean this, mem: that the young man is jist actin’ the pairt o’ Peter an’ John at the
bonny gate o’ the temple, whan they said: ‘Such as I have, gie I thee;’ an’ gin’ it be more
blessed to gie than to receive, as Sant Paul says ‘at the Maister himsel’ said, the young man
‘ill no be the waur aff in’s ain learnin’, that he impairts o’t to them that hunger for’t.”
“Ye mean by this, Dawvid, gin ye could express yersel’ to the pint, ‘at the young man,
wha’s ower weel paid to instruck my bairns, neglecks them, an’ lays himsel’ oot upo’ ither
fowk’s weans, wha hae no richt to ettle aboon the station in which their Maker pat them.”
This was uttered with quite a religious fervour of expostulation; for the lady’s naturalindignation at the thought of Meg Elginbrod having lessons from her boys’ tutor, was cowed
beneath the quiet steady gaze of the noble-minded peasant father.
“He lays himsel’ oot mair upo’ the ither fowk themsels’ than upo’ their weans, mem;
though, nae doubt, my Maggy comes in for a gude share. But for negleckin’ o’ his duty to you,
mem, I’m sure I kenna hoo that can be; for it was only yestreen ‘at the laird himsel’ said to
me, ‘at hoo the bairns had never gotten on naething like it wi’ ony ither body.”
“The laird’s ower ready wi’s clavers,” quoth the laird’s wife, nettled to find herself in the
wrong, and forgetful of her own and her lord’s dignity at once. “But,” she pursued, “all I can
say is, that I consider it verra improper o’ you, wi’ a young lass-bairn, to encourage the nichtly
veesits o’ a young gentleman, wha’s sae far aboon her in station, an’ dootless will some day
be farther yet.”
“Mem!” said David, with dignity, “I’m willin’ no to understan’ what ye mean. My Maggy’s
no ane ‘at needs luikin’ efter; an’ a body had need to be carefu’ an’ no interfere wi’ the Lord’s
herdin’, for he ca’s himsel’ the Shepherd o’ the sheep, an’ wee! as I loe her I maun lea’ him to
lead them wha follow him wherever he goeth. She’ll be no ill guidit, and I’m no gaeing to kep
her at ilka turn.”
“Weel, weel! that’s yer ain affair, Dawvid, my man,” rejoined Mrs. Glasford, with rising
voice and complexion. “A’ ‘at I hae to add is jist this: ‘at as lang as my tutor veesits her” —
“He veesits her no more than me, mem,” interposed David; but his mistress went on with
dignified disregard of the interruption —
“Veesits her, I canna, for the sake o’ my own bairns, an’ the morals o’ my hoosehold,
employ her aboot the hoose, as I was in the way o’ doin’ afore. Good mornin’, Dawvid. I’ll
speak to the laird himsel’, sin’ ye’ll no heed me.”
“It’s more to my lassie, mem, excuse me, to learn to unnerstan’ the works o’ her Maker,
than it is to be employed in your household. Mony thanks, mem, for what ye hev’ done in that
way afore; an’ good mornin’ to ye, mem. I’m sorry we should hae ony misunderstandin’, but I
canna help it for my pairt.”
With these words David withdrew, rather anxious about the consequences to Hugh of
this unpleasant interference on the part of Mrs. Glasford. That lady’s wrath kept warm without
much nursing, till the laird came home; when she turned the whole of her battery upon him,
and kept up a steady fire until he yielded, and promised to turn his upon David. But he had
more common-sense than his wife in some things, and saw at once how ridiculous it would be
to treat the affair as of importance. So, the next time he saw David, he addressed him half
“Weel, Dawvid, you an’ the mistress hae been haein’ a bit o’ a dispute thegither, eh?”
“Weel, sir, we warna a’thegither o’ ae min’,” said David, with a smile.
“Weel, weel, we maun humour her, ye ken, or it may be the waur for us a’, ye ken.” And
the laird nodded with humorous significance.
“I’m sure I sud be glaid, sir; but this is no sma’ maitter to me an’ my Maggie, for we’re jist
gettin’ food for the verra sowl, sir, frae him an’ his beuks.”
“Cudna ye be content wi the beuks wi’out the man, Dawvid?”
“We sud mak’ but sma’ progress, sir, that get.”
The laird began to be a little nettled himself at David’s stiffness about such a small
matter, and held his peace. David resumed:
“Besides, sir, that’s a maitter for the young man to sattle, an’ no for me. It wad ill become
me, efter a’ he’s dune for us, to steek the door in’s face. Na, na; as lang’s I hae a door to
haud open, it’s no to be steekit to him.”
“Efter a’, the door’s mine, Dawvid,” said the laird.
“As lang’s I’m in your hoose an’ in your service, sir, the door’s mine,” retorted David,
The laird turned and rode away without another word. What passed between him and hiswife never transpired. Nothing more was said to Hugh as long as he remained at Turriepuffit.
But Margaret was never sent for to the House after this, upon any occasion whatever. The
laird gave her a nod as often as he saw her; but the lady, if they chanced to meet, took no
notice of her. Margaret, on her part, stood or passed with her eyes on the ground, and no
further change of countenance than a slight flush of discomfort.
The lessons went on as usual, and happy hours they were for all those concerned.
Often, in after years, and in far different circumstances, the thoughts of Hugh reverted, with a
painful yearning, to the dim-lighted cottage, with its clay floor and its deal table; to the earnest
pair seated with him at the labours that unfold the motions of the stars; and even to the
homely, thickset, but active form of Janet, and that peculiar smile of hers with which, after an
apparently snappish speech, spoken with her back to the person addressed, she would turn
round her honest face half-apologetically, and shine full upon some one or other of the three,
whom she honoured with her whole heart and soul, and who, she feared, might be offended at
what she called her “hame-ower fashion of speaking.” Indeed it was wonderful what a share
the motherhood of this woman, incapable as she was of entering into the intellectual
occupations of the others, had in producing that sense of home-blessedness, which inwrapt
Hugh also in the folds of its hospitality, and drew him towards its heart. Certain it is that not
one of the three would have worked so well without the sense of the presence of Janet, here
and there about the room, or in the immediate neighbourhood of it — love watching over
labour. Once a week, always on Saturday nights, Hugh stayed to supper with them: and on
these occasions, Janet contrived to have something better than ordinary in honour of their
guest. Still it was of the homeliest country fare, such as Hugh could partake of without the
least fear that his presence occasioned any inconvenience to his entertainers. Nor was Hugh
the only giver of spiritual food. Putting aside the rich gifts of human affection and sympathy,
which grew more and more pleasant — I can hardly use a stronger word yet — to Hugh every
day, many things were spoken by the simple wisdom of David, which would have enlightened
Hugh far more than they did, had he been sufficiently advanced to receive them. But their
very simplicity was often far beyond the grasp of his thoughts; for the higher we rise, the
simpler we become; and David was one of those of whom is the kingdom of Heaven. There is
a childhood into which we have to grow, just as there is a childhood which we must leave
behind; a childlikeness which is the highest gain of humanity, and a childishness from which
but few of those who are counted the wisest among men, have freed themselves in their
imagined progress towards the reality of things.
Chapter 7 — The Secret of the Wood

The unthrift sunne shot vitall gold,
A thousand pieces;
And heaven its azure did unfold,
Chequered with snowy fleeces.
The air was all in spice,
And every bush
A garland wore: Thus fed my Eyes,
But all the Eare lay hush.
—Henry Vaughan.

It was not in mathematics alone that Hugh Sutherland was serviceable to Margaret
Elginbrod. That branch of study had been chosen for her father, not for her; but her desire to
learn had led her to lay hold upon any mental provision with which the table happened to be
spread; and the more eagerly that her father was a guest at the same feast. Before long,
Hugh bethought him that it might possibly be of service to her, in the course of her reading, if
he taught her English a little more thoroughly than she had probably picked it up at the parish
school, to which she had been in the habit of going till within a very short period of her
acquaintance with the tutor. — The English reader must not suppose the term parish school
to mean what the same term would mean if used in England. Boys and girls of very different
ranks go to the Scotch parish schools, and the fees are so small as to place their education
within the reach of almost the humblest means. — To his proposal to this effect Margaret
responded thankfully; and it gave Hugh an opportunity of directing her attention to many of the
more delicate distinctions in literature, for the appreciation of which she manifested at once a
remarkable aptitude.
Coleridge’s poems had been read long ago; some of them, indeed, almost committed to
memory in the process of repeated perusal. No doubt a good many of them must have been
as yet too abstruse for her; not in the least, however, from inaptitude in her for such subjects
as they treated of, but simply because neither the terms nor the modes of thought could
possibly have been as yet presented to her in so many different positions as to enable her to
comprehend their scope. Hugh lent her Sir Walter’s poems next, but those she read at an
eye-glance. She returned the volume in a week, saying merely, they were “verra bonnie
stories.” He saw at once that, to have done them justice with the girl, he ought to have lent
them first. But that could not be helped now; and what should come next? Upon this he took
thought. His library was too small to cause much perplexity of choice, but for a few days he
continued undecided.
Meantime the interest he felt in his girl-pupil deepened greatly. She became a kind of
study to him. The expression of her countenance was far inferior to her intelligence and power
of thought. It was still to excess — almost dull in ordinary; not from any fault in the mould of
the features, except, perhaps, in the upper lip, which seemed deficient in drawing, if I may be
allowed the expression; but from the absence of that light which indicates the presence of
active thought and feeling within. In this respect her face was like the earthen pitcher of
Gideon: it concealed the light. She seemed to have, to a peculiar degree, the faculty of retiring
inside. But now and then, while he was talking to her, and doubtful, from the lack of
expression, whether she was even listening with attention to what he was saying, her face
would lighten up with a radiant smile of intelligence; not, however, throwing the light upon him,
and in a moment reverting to its former condition of still twilight. Her person seemed not to be
as yet thoroughly possessed or informed by her spirit. It sat apart within her; and there was
no ready transit from her heart to her face. This lack of presence in the face is quite commonin pretty school-girls and rustic beauties; but it was manifest to an unusual degree in the case
of Margaret. Yet most of the forms and lines in her face were lovely; and when the light did
shine through them for a passing moment, her countenance seemed absolutely beautiful.
Hence it grew into an almost haunting temptation with Hugh, to try to produce this expression,
to unveil the coy light of the beautiful soul. Often he tried; often he failed, and sometimes he
succeeded. Had they been alone it might have become dangerous — I mean for Hugh; I
cannot tell for Margaret.
When they first met, she had just completed her seventeenth year; but, at an age when
a town-bred girl is all but a woman, her manners were those of a child. This childishness,
however, soon began to disappear, and the peculiar stillness of her face, of which I have
already said so much, made her seem older than she was.
It was now early summer, and all the other trees in the wood — of which there were not
many besides the firs of various kinds — had put on their fresh leaves, heaped up in green
clouds between the wanderer and the heavens. In the morning the sun shone so clear upon
these, that, to the eyes of one standing beneath, the light seemed to dissolve them away to
the most ethereal forms of glorified foliage. They were to be claimed for earth only by the
shadows that the one cast upon the other, visible from below through the transparent leaf.
This effect is very lovely in the young season of the year, when the leaves are more delicate
and less crowded; and especially in the early morning, when the light is most clear and
penetrating. By the way, I do not think any man is compelled to bid good-bye to his childhood:
every man may feel young in the morning, middle-aged in the afternoon, and old at night. A
day corresponds to a life, and the portions of the one are “pictures in little” of the seasons of
the other. Thus far man may rule even time, and gather up, in a perfect being, youth and age
at once.
One morning, about six o’clock, Hugh, who had never been so early in the wood since
the day he had met Margaret there, was standing under a beech-tree, looking up through its
multitudinous leaves, illuminated, as I have attempted to describe, with the sidelong rays of
the brilliant sun. He was feeling young, and observing the forms of nature with a keen
discriminating gaze: that was all. Fond of writing verses, he was studying nature, not as a true
lover, but as one who would hereafter turn his discoveries to use. For it must be confessed
that nature affected him chiefly through the medium of poetry; and that he was far more
ambitious of writing beautiful things about nature than of discovering and understanding, for
their own sakes, any of her hidden yet patent meanings. Changing his attitude after a few
moments, he descried, under another beech-tree, not far from him, Margaret, standing and
looking up fixedly as he had been doing a moment before. He approached her, and she,
hearing his advance, looked, and saw him, but did not move. He thought he saw the glimmer
of tears in her eyes. She was the first to speak, however.
“What were you seeing up there, Mr. Sutherland?”
“I was only looking at the bright leaves, and the shadows upon them.”
“Ah! I thocht maybe ye had seen something.”
“What do you mean, Margaret?”
“I dinna richtly ken mysel’. But I aye expeck to see something in this fir-wood. I’m here
maist mornin’s as the day dawns, but I’m later the day.”
“We were later than usual at our work last night. But what kind of thing do you expect to
“That’s jist what I dinna ken. An’ I canna min’ whan I began to come here first, luikin’ for
something. I’ve tried mony a time, but I canna min’, do what I like.”
Margaret had never said so much about herself before. I can account for it only on the
supposition that Hugh had gradually assumed in her mind a kind of pastoral superiority, which,
at a favourable moment, inclined her to impart her thoughts to him. But he did not know what
to say to this strange fact in her history. She went on, however, as if, having broken the ice,she must sweep it away as well.
“The only thing ‘at helps me to account for’t, is a picter in our auld Bible, o’ an angel sittin’
aneth a tree, and haudin’ up his han’ as gin he were speakin’ to a woman ‘at’s stan’in’ afore
him. Ilka time ‘at I come across that picter, I feel direckly as gin I war my lane in this fir-wood
here; sae I suppose that when I was a wee bairn, I maun hae come oot some mornin’ my
lane, wi’ the expectation o’ seein’ an angel here waitin’ for me, to speak to me like the ane i’
the Bible. But never an angel hae I seen. Yet I aye hae an expectation like o’ seein’
something, I kenna what; for the whole place aye seems fu’ o’ a presence, an’ it’s a hantle
mair to me nor the kirk an’ the sermon forby; an’ for the singin’, the soun’ i’ the fir-taps is far
mair solemn and sweet at the same time, an’ muckle mair like praisin’ o’ God than a’ the
psalms thegither. But I aye think ‘at gin I could hear Milton playin’ on’s organ, it would be mair
like that soun’ o’ mony waters, than onything else ‘at I can think o’.”
Hugh stood and gazed at her in astonishment. To his more refined ear, there was a
strange incongruity between the somewhat coarse dialect in which she spoke, and the things
she uttered in it. Not that he was capable of entering into her feelings, much less of explaining
them to her. He felt that there was something remarkable in them, but attributed both the
thoughts themselves and their influence on him, to an uncommon and weird imagination. As
of such origin, however, he was just the one to value them highly.
“Those are very strange ideas,” he said.
“But what can there be about the wood? The very primroses — ye brocht me the first
this spring yersel’, Mr. Sutherland — come out at the fit o’ the trees, and look at me as if they
said, ‘We ken — we ken a’ aboot it;’ but never a word mair they say. There’s something by
ordinar’ in’t.”
“Do you like no other place besides?” said Hugh, for the sake of saying something.
“Ou ay, mony ane; but nane like this.”
“What kind of place do you like best?”
“I like places wi’ green grass an’ flowers amo’t.”
“You like flowers then?”
“Like them! whiles they gar me greet an’ whiles they gar me lauch; but there’s mair i’
them than that, an’ i’ the wood too. I canna richtly say my prayers in ony ither place.”
The Scotch dialect, especially to one brought up in the Highlands, was a considerable
antidote to the effect of the beauty of what Margaret said.
Suddenly it struck Hugh, that if Margaret were such an admirer of nature, possibly she
might enjoy Wordsworth. He himself was as yet incapable of doing him anything like justice;
and, with the arrogance of youth, did not hesitate to smile at the Excursion, picking out an
awkward line here and there as especial food for laughter even. But many of his smaller
pieces he enjoyed very heartily, although not thoroughly — the element of Christian
Pantheism, which is their soul, being beyond his comprehension, almost perception, as yet.
So he made up his mind, after a moment’s reflection, that this should be the next author he
recommended to his pupil. He hoped likewise so to end an interview, in which he might
otherwise be compelled to confess that he could render Margaret no assistance in her search
after the something in the wood; and he was unwilling to say he could not understand her; for
a power of universal sympathy was one of those mental gifts which Hugh was most anxious to
believe he possessed.
“I will bring you another book to-night,” said he “which I think you will like, and which may
perhaps help you to find out what is in the wood.”
He said this smiling, half in playful jest, and without any idea of the degree of likelihood
that there was notwithstanding in what he said. For, certainly, Wordsworth, the high-priest of
nature, though perhaps hardly the apostle of nature, was more likely than any other writer to
contain something of the secret after which Margaret was searching. Whether she can find it
there, may seem questionable.“Thank you, sir,” said Margaret, gratefully; but her whole countenance looked troubled,
as she turned towards her home. Doubtless, however, the trouble vanished before she
reached it, for hers was not a nature to cherish disquietude. Hugh too went home, rather
In the evening, he took a volume of Wordsworth, and repaired, according to his wont, to
David’s cottage. It was Saturday, and he would stay to supper. After they had given the usual
time to their studies, Hugh, setting Margaret some exercises in English to write on her slate,
while he helped David with some of the elements of Trigonometry, and again going over those
elements with her, while David worked out a calculation — after these were over, and while
Janet was putting the supper on the table, Hugh pulled out his volume, and, without any
preface, read them the Leech-Gatherer. All listened very intently, Janet included, who delayed
several of the operations, that she might lose no word of the verses; David nodding assent
every now and then, and ejaculating ay! ay! or eh, man! or producing that strange muffled
sound at once common and peculiar to Scotchmen, which cannot be expressed in letters by a
nearer approach than hm — hm, uttered, if that can be called uttering, with closed lips and
open nasal passage; and Margaret sitting motionless on her creepie, with upturned pale face,
and eyes fixed upon the lips of the reader. When he had ceased, all were silent for a moment,
when Janet made some little sign of anxiety about her supper, which certainly had suffered by
the delay. Then, without a word, David turned towards the table and gave thanks. Turning
again to Hugh, who had risen to place his chair, he said,
“That maun be the wark o’ a great poet, Mr. Sutherlan’.”
“It’s Wordsworth’s,” said Hugh.
“Ay! ay! That’s Wordsworth’s! Ay! Weel, I hae jist heard him made mention o’, but I never
read word o’ his afore. An’ he never repentit o’ that same resolution, I’se warrant, ‘at he eynds
aff wi’. Hoo does it gang, Mr. Sutherlan’?”
Sutherland read: —

‘God,’ said I, ‘be my help and stay secure!
I’ll think of the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor;’
and added, “It is said Wordsworth never knew what it was to be in want of money all his life.”
“Nae doubt, nae doubt: he trusted in Him.”
It was for the sake of the minute notices of nature, and not for the religious lesson, which
he now seemed to see for the first time, that Hugh had read the poem. He could not help
being greatly impressed by the confidence with which David received the statement he had
just made on the authority of De Quincey in his unpleasant article about Wordsworth. David
“He maun hae had a gleg ‘ee o’ his ain, that Maister Wordsworth, to notice a’thing that
get. Weel he maun hae likit leevin’ things, puir maukin an’ a’ — jist like our Robbie Burns for
that. An’ see hoo they a’ ken ane anither, thae poets. What says he aboot Burns? — ye
needna tell me, Mr. Sutherlan’; I min’t weel aneuch. He says: —

Him wha walked in glory an’ in joy,
Followin’ his ploo upo’ the muntain-side.

Puir Robbie! puir Robbie! But, man, he was a gran’ chield efter a’; an’ I trust in God he’s
won hame by this!”
Both Janet and Hugh, who had had a very orthodox education, started, mentally, at this
strange utterance; but they saw the eye of David solemnly fixed, as if in deep contemplation,
and lighted in its blue depths with an ethereal brightness; and neither of them ventured to
speak. Margaret seemed absorbed for the moment in gazing on her father’s face; but not in
the least as if it perplexed her like the fir-wood. To the seeing eye, the same kind ofexpression would have been evident in both countenances, as if Margaret’s reflected the
meaning of her father’s; whether through the medium of intellectual sympathy, or that of the
heart only, it would have been hard to say. Meantime supper had been rather neglected; but
its operations were now resumed more earnestly, and the conversation became lighter; till at
last it ended in hearty laughter, and Hugh rose and took his leave.
Chapter 8 — A Sunday Morning

It is the property of good and sound knowledge, to putrifie and
dissolve into a number of subtle, idle, unwholesome, and (as I may
tearme them) vermiculate questions; which have indeed a kinde of
quicknesse, and life of spirite, but no soundnesse of matter, or
goodnesse of quality.
—Lord Bacon, Advancement of Learning.

The following morning, the laird’s family went to church as usual, and Hugh went with
them. Their walk was first across fields, by pleasant footpaths; and then up the valley of a little
noisy stream, that obstinately refused to keep Scotch Sabbath, praising the Lord after its own
fashion. They emerged into rather a bleak country before reaching the church, which was
quite new, and perched on a barren eminence, that it might be as conspicuous by its position,
as it was remarkable for its ugliness. One grand aim of the reformers of the Scottish
ecclesiastical modes, appears to have been to keep the worship pure and the worshippers
sincere, by embodying the whole in the ugliest forms that could be associated with the name
of Christianity. It might be wished, however, that some of their followers, and amongst them
the clergyman of the church in question, had been content to stop there; and had left the
object of worship, as represented by them, in the possession of some lovable attribute; so as
not to require a man to love that which is unlovable, or worship that which is not honourable —
in a word, to bow down before that which is not divine. The cause of this degeneracy they
share in common with the followers of all other great men as well as of Calvin. They take up
what their leader, urged by the necessity of the time, spoke loudest, never heeding what he
loved most; and then work the former out to a logical perdition of everything belonging to the
Hugh, however, thought it was all right: for he had the same good reasons, and no other,
for receiving it all, that a Mohammedan or a Buddhist has for holding his opinions; namely,
that he had heard those doctrines, and those alone, from his earliest childhood. He was
therefore a good deal startled when, having, on his way home, strayed from the laird’s party
towards David’s, he heard the latter say to Margaret as he came up:
“Dinna ye believe, my bonny doo, ‘at there’s ony mak’ ups or mak’ shifts wi’ Him. He’s
aye bringin’ things to the licht, no covenin’ them up and lattin them rot, an’ the moth tak’ them.
He sees us jist as we are, and ca’s us jist what we are. It wad be an ill day for a’ o’s, Maggy,
my doo, gin he war to close his een to oor sins, an’ ca’ us just in his sicht, whan we cudna
possibly be just in oor ain or in ony ither body’s, no to say his.”
“The Lord preserve’s, Dawvid Elginbrod! Dinna ye believe i’ the doctrine o’ Justification by
Faith, an’ you a’maist made an elder o’?”
Janet was the respondent, of course, Margaret listening in silence.
“Ou ay, I believe in’t, nae doot; but, troth! the minister, honest man, near-han’ gart me
disbelieve in’t a’thegither wi’ his gran’ sermon this mornin’, about imputit richteousness, an’ a
clean robe hidin’ a foul skin or a crookit back. Na, na. May Him ‘at woosh the feet o’ his friens,
wash us a’thegither, and straucht oor crookit banes, till we’re clean and weel-faured like his
ain bonny sel’.”
“Weel, Dawvid — but that’s sanctificaition, ye ken.”
“Ca’t ony name ‘at you or the minister likes, Janet, my woman. I daursay there’s neither
o’ ye far wrang after a’; only this is jist my opingan aboot it in sma’ — that that man, and that
man only, is justifeed, wha pits himsel’ into the Lord’s han’s to sanctifee him. Noo! An’ that’ll
no be dune by pittin’ a robe o’ richteousness upo’ him, afore he’s gotten a clean skin aneath’t.
As gin a father cudna bide to see the puir scabbit skin o’ his ain wee bit bairnie, ay, or o’ hisprodigal son either, but bude to hap it a’ up afore he cud lat it come near him! Ahva!”
Here Hugh ventured to interpose a remark.
“But you don’t think, Mr. Elginbrod, that the minister intended to say that justification left
a man at liberty to sin, or that the robe of Christ’s righteousness would hide him from the work
of the Spirit?”
“Na; but there is a notion in’t o’ hidin’ frae God himsel’. I’ll tell ye what it is Mr. Sutherlan’:
the minister’s a’ richt in himsel’, an’ sae’s my Janet here, an’ mony mair; an’ aiblins there’s a
kin’ o’ trowth in a’ ‘at they say; but this is my quarrel wi’ a’ thae words an’ words an’
airguments, an’ seemilies as they ca’ them, an’ doctrines, an’ a’ that — they jist haud a puir
body at airm’s lenth oot ower frae God himsel’. An’ they raise a mist an’ a stour a’ aboot him,
‘at the puir bairn canna see the Father himsel’, stan’in’ wi’ his airms streekit oot as wide’s the
heavens, to tak’ the worn crater, — and the mair sinner, the mair welcome, — hame to his
verra hert. Gin a body wad lea’ a’ that, and jist get fowk persuâdit to speyk a word or twa to
God him lane, the loss, in my opingan, wad be unco sma’, and the gain verra great.”
Even Janet dared not reply to the solemnity of this speech; for the seer-like look was
upon David’s face, and the tears had gathered in his eyes and dimmed their blue. A kind of
tremulous pathetic smile flickered about his beautifully curved mouth, like the glimmer of water
in a valley, betwixt the lofty aquiline nose and the powerful but finely modelled chin. It seemed
as if he dared not let the smile break out, lest it should be followed instantly by a burst of
Margaret went close up to her father and took his hand as if she had been still a child,
while Janet walked reverentially by him on the other side. It must not be supposed that Janet
felt any uneasiness about her husband’s opinions, although she never hesitated to utter what
she considered her common-sense notions, in attempted modification of some of the more
extreme of them. The fact was that, if he was wrong, Janet did not care to be right; and if he
was right, Janet was sure to be; “for,” said she — and in spirit, if not in the letter, it was quite
true — “I never mint at contradickin’ him. My man sall hae his ain get, that sall he.” But she
had one especial grudge at his opinions; which was, that it must have been in consequence of
them that he had declined, with a queer smile, the honourable position of Elder of the Kirk; for
which Janet considered him, notwithstanding his opinions, immeasurably more fitted than any
other man “in the haill country-side — ye may add Scotlan’ forby.” The fact of his having been
requested to fill the vacant place of Elder, is proof enough that David was not in the habit of
giving open expression to his opinions. He was looked upon as a douce man, long-headed
enough, and somewhat precise in the exaction of the laird’s rights, but open-hearted and
open-handed with what was his own. Every one respected him, and felt kindly towards him;
some were a little afraid of him; but few suspected him of being religious beyond the degree
which is commonly supposed to be the general inheritance of Scotchmen, possibly in virtue of
their being brought up upon oatmeal porridge and the Shorter Catechism.
Hugh walked behind the party for a short way, contemplating them in their Sunday
clothes: David wore a suit of fine black cloth. He then turned to rejoin the laird’s company.
Mrs. Glasford was questioning her boys, in an intermittent and desultory fashion, about the
“An’ what was the fourth heid, can ye tell me, Willie?”
Willie, the eldest, who had carefully impressed the fourth head upon his memory, and
had been anxiously waiting for an opportunity of bringing it out, replied at once:
“Fourthly: The various appellations by which those who have indued the robe of
righteousness are designated in Holy Writ.”
“Weel done, Willie!” cried the laird.
“That’s richt, Willie,” said his mother. Then turning to the younger, whose attention was
attracted by a strange bird in the hedge in front. “An’ what called he them, Johnnie, that put
on the robe?” she asked.“Whited sepulchres,” answered Johnnie, indebted for his wit to his wool-gathering.
This put an end to the catechising. Mrs. Glasford glanced round at Hugh, whose
defection she had seen with indignation, and who, waiting for them by the roadside, had heard
the last question and reply, with an expression that seemed to attribute any defect in the
answer, entirely to the carelessness of the tutor, and the withdrawal of his energies from her
boys to that “saucy quean, Meg Elginbrod.”
Chapter 9 — Nature

When the Soul is kindled or enlightened by the Holy Ghost, then it
beholds what God its Father does, as a Son beholds what his Father
does at Home in his own House.
—Jacob Behmen’s Aurora [Law’s Translation].

Margaret began to read Wordsworth, slowly at first, but soon with greater facility. Ere
long she perceived that she had found a friend; for not only did he sympathize with her in her
love for nature, putting many vague feelings into thoughts, and many thoughts into words for
her, but he introduced her to nature in many altogether new aspects, and taught her to regard
it in ways which had hitherto been unknown to her. Not only was the pine wood now dearer to
her than before, but its mystery seemed more sacred, and, at the same time, more likely to
be one day solved. She felt far more assuredly the presence of a spirit in nature,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air;
for he taught her to take wider views of nature, and to perceive and feel the expressions of
more extended aspects of the world around her. The purple hill-side was almost as dear to
her as the fir-wood now; and the star that crowned its summit at eve, sparkled an especial
message to her, before it went on its way up the blue. She extended her rambles in all
directions, and began to get with the neighbours the character of an idle girl. Little they knew
how early she rose, and how diligently she did her share of the work, urged by desire to read
the word of God in his own handwriting; or rather, to pore upon that expression of the face of
God, which, however little a man may think of it, yet sinks so deeply into his nature, and
moulds it towards its own likeness.
Nature was doing for Margaret what she had done before for Wordsworth’s Lucy: she
was making of her “a lady of her own.” She grew taller and more graceful. The lasting quiet of
her face began to look as if it were ever upon the point of blossoming into an expression of
lovely feeling. The principal change was in her mouth, which became delicate and tender in its
curves, the lips seeming to kiss each other for very sweetness. But I am anticipating these
changes, for it took a far longer time to perfect them than has yet been occupied by my story.
But even her mother was not altogether proof against the appearance of listlessness and
idleness which Margaret’s behaviour sometimes wore to her eyes; nor could she quite
understand or excuse her long lonely walks; so that now and then she could not help
addressing her after this fashion:
“Meg! Meg! ye do try my patience, lass, idlin’ awa’ yer time that get. It’s an awfu’ wastery
o’ time, what wi’ beuks, an’ what wi’ stravaguin’, an’ what wi’ naething ava. Jist pit yer han’ to
this kirn noo, like a gude bairn.”
Margaret would obey her mother instantly, but with a look of silent expostulation which
her mother could not resist; sometimes, perhaps, if the words were sharper than usual, with
symptoms of gathering tears; upon which Janet would say, with her honest smile of sweet
“Hootoots, bairn! never heed me. My bark’s aye waur nor my bite; ye ken that.”
Then Margaret’s face would brighten at once, and she would work hard at whatever her
mother set her to do, till it was finished; upon which her mother would be more glad than she,
and in no haste to impose any further labour out of the usual routine.
In the course of reading Wordsworth, Margaret had frequent occasion to apply to Hugh
for help. These occasions, however, generally involved no more than small external
difficulties, which prevented her from taking in the scope of a passage. Hugh was always ableto meet these, and Margaret supposed that the whole of the light which flashed upon her mind
when they were removed, was poured upon the page by the wisdom of her tutor; never
dreaming — such was her humility with regard to herself, and her reverence towards him —
that it came from the depths of her own lucent nature, ready to perceive what the poet came
prepared to show. Now and then, it is true, she applied to him with difficulties in which he was
incapable of aiding her; but she put down her failure in discovering the meaning, after all which
it must be confessed he sometimes tried to say, to her own stupidity or peculiarity — never to
his incapacity. She had been helped to so much by his superior acquirements, and his real gift
for communicating what he thoroughly understood; he had been so entirely her guide to
knowledge, that she would at once have felt self-condemned of impiety — in the old meaning
of the word — if she had doubted for a moment his ability to understand or explain any
difficulty which she could place clearly before him.
By-and-by he began to lend her harder, that is, more purely intellectual books. He was
himself preparing for the class of Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics; and he chose for her
some of the simpler of his books on these subjects — of course all of the Scotch school —
beginning with Abercrombie’s Intellectual Powers. She took this eagerly, and evidently read it
with great attention.
One evening in the end of summer, Hugh climbed a waste heathery hill that lay behind
the house of Turriepuffit, and overlooked a great part of the neighbouring country, the peaks
of some of the greatest of the Scotch mountains being visible from its top. Here he intended
to wait for the sunset. He threw himself on the heather, that most delightful and luxurious of all
couches, supporting the body with a kindly upholding of every part; and there he lay in the
great slumberous sunlight of the late afternoon, with the blue heavens, into which he was
gazing full up, closing down upon him, as the light descended the side of the sky. He fell fast
asleep. If ever there be an excuse for falling asleep out of bed, surely it is when stretched at
full length upon heather in bloom. When he awoke, the last of the sunset was dying away; and
between him and the sunset sat Margaret, book in hand, waiting apparently for his waking. He
lay still for a few minutes, to come to himself before she should see he was awake. But she
rose at the moment, and drawing near very quietly, looked down upon him with her sweet
sunset face, to see whether or not he was beginning to rouse, for she feared to let him lie
much longer after sundown. Finding him awake, she drew back again without a word, and sat
down as before with her book. At length he rose, and, approaching her, said —
“Well, Margaret, what book are you at now?”
“Dr. Abercrombie, sir,” replied Margaret.
“How do you like it?”
“Verra weel for some things. It makes a body think; but not a’thegither as I like to think
It will be observed that Margaret’s speech had begun to improve, that is, to be more like
“What is the matter with it?”
“Weel, ye see, sir, it taks a body a’ to bits like, and never pits them together again. An’ it
seems to me that a body’s min’ or soul, or whatever it may be called — but it’s jist a body’s
ain sel’ — can no more be ta’en to pieces like, than you could tak’ that red licht there oot o’
the blue, or the haill sunset oot o’ the heavens an’ earth. It may be a’ verra weel, Mr.
Sutherland, but oh! it’s no like this!”
And Margaret looked around her from the hill-top, and then up into the heavens, where
the stars were beginning to crack the blue with their thin, steely sparkle.
“It seems to me to tak’ a’ the poetry oot o’ us, Mr. Sutherland.”
“Well, well,” said Hugh, with a smile, “you must just go to Wordsworth to put it in again;
or to set you again up after Dr. Abercrombie has demolished you.”
“Na, na, sir, he sanna demolish me: nor I winna trouble Mr. Wordsworth to put the poetryinto me again. A’ the power on earth shanna tak’ that oot o’ me, gin it be God’s will; for it’s his
ain gift, Mr. Sutherland, ye ken.”
“Of course, of course,” replied Hugh, who very likely thought this too serious a way of
speaking of poetry, and therefore, perhaps, rather an irreverent way of speaking of God; for
he saw neither the divine in poetry, nor the human in God. Could he be said to believe that
God made man, when he did not believe that God created poetry — and yet loved it as he
did? It was to him only a grand invention of humanity in its loftiest development. In this
development, then, he must have considered humanity as farthest from its origin; and God as
the creator of savages, caring nothing for poets or their work.
They turned, as by common consent, to go down the hill together.
“Shall I take charge of the offending volume? You will not care to finish it, I fear,” said
“No, sir, if you please. I never like to leave onything unfinished. I’ll read ilka word in’t. I
fancy the thing ‘at sets me against it, is mostly this; that, readin’ it alang wi’ Euclid, I canna
help aye thinkin’ o’ my ain min’ as gin it were in some geometrical shape or ither, whiles ane
an’ whiles anither; and syne I try to draw lines an’ separate this power frae that power, the
memory frae the jeedgement, an’ the imagination frae the rizzon; an’ syne I try to pit them a’
thegither again in their relations to ane anither. And this aye takes the shape o’ some
proposition or ither, generally i’ the second beuk. It near-han’ dazes me whiles. I fancy gin’ I
understood the pairts o’ the sphere, it would be mair to the purpose; but I wat I wish I were
clear o’t a’thegither.”
Hugh had had some experiences of a similar kind himself, though not at all to the same
extent. He could therefore understand her.
“You must just try to keep the things altogether apart,” said he, “and not think of the two
sciences at once.”
“But I canna help it,” she replied. “I suppose you can, sir, because ye’re a man. My
father can understan’ things ten times better nor me an’ my mother. But nae sooner do I
begin to read and think about it, than up comes ane o’ thae parallelograms, an’ nothing will
driv’t oot o’ my head again, but a verse or twa o’ Coleridge or Wordsworth.”
Hugh immediately began to repeat the first poem of the latter that occurred to him:

I wandered lonely as a cloud.
She listened, walking along with her eyes fixed on the ground; and when he had finished,
gave a sigh of delight and relief — all the comment she uttered. She seemed never to find it
necessary to say what she felt; least of all when the feeling was a pleasant one; for then it
was enough for itself. This was only the second time since their acquaintance, that she had
spoken of her feelings at all; and in this case they were of a purely intellectual origin. It is to be
observed, however, that in both cases she had taken pains to explain thoroughly what she
meant, as far as she was able.
It was dark before they reached home, at least as dark as it ever is at this season of the
year in the north. They found David looking out with some slight anxiety for his daughter’s
return, for she was seldom out so late as this. In nothing could the true relation between them
have been more evident than in the entire absence from her manner of any embarrassment
when she met her father. She went up to him and told him all about finding Mr. Sutherland
asleep on the hill, and waiting beside him till he woke, that she might walk home with him. Her
father seemed perfectly content with an explanation which he had not sought, and, turning to
Hugh, said, smiling:
“Weel, no to be troublesome, Mr. Sutherlan’, ye maun gie the auld man a turn as weel as
the young lass. We didna expec ye the nicht, but I’m sair puzzled wi’ a sma’ eneuch matter on
my sklet in there. Will you no come in and gie me a lift?”
“With all my heart,” said Sutherland. So there were five lessons in that week.When Hugh entered the cottage he had a fine sprig of heather in his hand, which he laid
on the table.
He had the weakness of being proud of small discoveries — the tinier the better; and
was always sharpening his senses, as well as his intellect, to a fine point, in order to make
them. I fear that by these means he shut out some great ones, which could not enter during
such a concentration of the faculties. He would stand listening to the sound of goose-feet
upon the road, and watch how those webs laid hold of the earth like a hand. He would struggle
to enter into their feelings in folding their wings properly on their backs. He would calculate, on
chemical and arithmetical grounds, whether one might not hear the nocturnal growth of plants
in the tropics. He was quite elated by the discovery, as he considered it, that Shakspeare
named his two officers of the watch, Dogberry and Verjuice; the poisonous Dogberry, and the
acid liquor of green fruits, affording suitable names for the stupidly innocuous constables, in a
play the very essence of which is Much Ado About Nothing. Another of his discoveries he had,
during their last lesson, unfolded to David, who had certainly contemplated it with interest. It
was, that the original forms of the Arabic numerals were these:

the number for which each figure stands being indicated by the number of straight lines
employed in forming that numeral. I fear the comparative anatomy of figures gives no
countenance to the discovery which Hugh flattered himself he had made.
After he had helped David out of his difficulty, he took up the heather, and stripping off
the bells, shook them in his hand at Margaret’s ear. A half smile, like the moonlight of
laughter, dawned on her face; and she listened with something of the same expression with
which a child listens to the message from the sea, inclosed in a twisted shell. He did the same
at David’s ear next.
“Eh, man! that’s a bonny wee soun’! It’s jist like sma’ sheep-bells — fairy-sheep, I
reckon, Maggy, my doo.”
“Lat me hearken as weel,” said Janet.
Hugh obeyed. She laughed.
“It’s naething but a reestlin’. I wad raither hear the sheep baain’, or the kye routin’.”
“Eh, Mr. Sutherlan’! but, ye hae a gleg ee an’ a sharp lug. Weel, the warld’s fu’ o’ bonny
sichts and souns, doon to the verra sma’est. The Lord lats naething gang. I wadna wonner
noo but there micht be thousands sic like, ower sma’ a’thegither for human ears, jist as we
ken there are creatures as perfect in beowty as ony we see, but far ower sma’ for our een
wintin’ the glass. But for my pairt, I aye like to see a heap o’ things at ance, an’ tak’ them a’ in
thegither, an’ see them playin’ into ane anither’s han’ like. I was jist thinkin’, as I came hame
the nicht in the sinset, hoo it wad hae been naewise sae complete, wi’ a’ its red an’ gowd an’
green, gin it hadna been for the cauld blue east ahint it, wi’ the twa-three shiverin’ starnies
leukin’ through’t. An’ doubtless the warld to come ‘ill be a’ the warmer to them ‘at hadna ower
muckle happin here. But I’m jist haverin’, clean haverin’, Mr. Sutherlan’,” concluded David, with
a smile of apologetic humour.
“I suppose you could easily believe with Plato, David, that the planets make a grand
choral music as they roll about the heavens, only that as some sounds are too small, so that
is too loud for us to hear.”
“I cud weel believe that,” was David’s unhesitating answer. Margaret looked as if she not
only could believe it, but would be delighted to know that it was true. Neither Janet nor Hugh
gave any indication of feeling on the matter.
Chapter 10 — Harvest

So a small seed that in the earth lies hid
And dies, reviving bursts her cloddy side,
Adorned with yellow locks, of new is born,
And doth become a mother great with corn,
Of grains brings hundreds with it, which when old
Enrich the furrows with a sea of gold.
—Sir William Drummond, Hymn of the Resurrection.

Hugh had watched the green corn grow, and ear, and turn dim; then brighten to yellow,
and ripen at last under the declining autumn sun, and the low skirting moon of the harvest,
which seems too full and heavy with mellow and bountiful light to rise high above the fields
which it comes to bless with perfection. The long threads, on each of which hung an oat-grain
— the harvest here was mostly of oats — had got dry and brittle; and the grains began to
spread out their chaff-wings, as if ready to fly, and rustled with sweet sounds against each
other, as the wind, which used to billow the fields like the waves of the sea, now swept gently
and tenderly over it, helping the sun and moon in the drying and ripening of the joy to be laid
up for the dreary winter. Most graceful of all hung those delicate oats; next bowed the
bearded barley; and stately and wealthy and strong stood the few fields of wheat, of a rich,
ruddy, golden hue. Above the yellow harvest rose the purple hills, and above the hills the
paleblue autumnal sky, full of light and heat, but fading somewhat from the colour with which it
deepened above the vanished days of summer. For the harvest here is much later than in
At length the day arrived when the sickle must be put into the barley, soon to be followed
by the scythe in the oats. And now came the joy of labour. Everything else was abandoned for
the harvest field. Books were thrown utterly aside; for, even when there was no fear of a
change of weather to urge to labour prolonged beyond the natural hours, there was weariness
enough in the work of the day to prevent even David from reading, in the hours of bodily rest,
anything that necessitated mental labour.
Janet and Margaret betook themselves to the reaping-hook; and the somewhat pale face
of the latter needed but a single day to change it to the real harvest hue — the brown livery of
Ceres. But when the oats were attacked, then came the tug of war. The laird was in the fields
from morning to night, and the boys would not stay behind; but, with their father’s permission,
much to the tutor’s contentment, devoted what powers they had to the gathering of the fruits
of the earth. Hugh himself, whose strength had grown amazingly during his stay at
Turriepuffit, and who, though he was quite helpless at the sickle, thought he could wield the
scythe, would not be behind. Throwing off coat and waistcoat, and tying his handkerchief tight
round his loins, he laid hold on the emblematic weapon of Time and Death, determined
likewise to earn the name of Reaper. He took the last scythe. It was desperate work for a
while, and he was far behind the first bout; but David, who was the best scyther in the whole
country side, and of course had the leading scythe, seeing the tutor dropping behind, put
more power to his own arm, finished his own bout, and brought up Hugh’s before the others
had done sharpening their scythes for the next.
“Tak’ care an’ nae rax yersel’ ower sair, Mr. Sutherlan’. Ye’ll be up wi’ the best o’ them in
a day or twa; but gin ye tyauve at it aboon yer strenth, ye’ll be clean forfochten. Tak’ a guid
sweep wi’ the scythe, ‘at ye may hae the weicht o’t to ca’ through the strae, an’ tak’ nae
shame at bein’ hindmost. Here, Maggy, my doo, come an’ gather to Mr. Sutherlan’. Ane o’ the
young gentlemen can tak’ your place at the binin’.”
The work of Janet and Margaret had been to form bands for the sheaves, by foldingtogether cunningly the heads of two small handfuls of the corn, so as to make them long
enough together to go round the sheaf; then to lay this down for the gatherer to place enough
of the mown corn upon it; and last, to bind the band tightly around by another skilful twist and
an insertion of the ends, and so form a sheaf. From this work David called his daughter,
desirous of giving Hugh a gatherer who would not be disrespectful to his awkwardness. This
arrangement, however, was far from pleasing to some of the young men in the field, and
brought down upon Hugh, who was too hard-wrought to hear them at first, many sly hits of
country wit and human contempt. There had been for some time great jealousy of his visits at
David’s cottage; for Margaret, though she had very little acquaintance with the young men of
the neighbourhood, was greatly admired amongst them, and not regarded as so far above the
station of many of them as to render aspiration useless. Their remarks to each other got
louder and louder, till Hugh at last heard some of them, and could not help being annoyed, not
by their wit or personality, but by the tone of contempt in which they were uttered.
“Tak’ care o’ yer legs, sir. It’ll be ill cuttin’ upo’ stumps.”
“Fegs! he’s taen the wings aff o’ a pairtrick.”
“Gin he gang on that get, he’ll cut twa bouts at ance.”
“Ye’ll hae the scythe ower the dyke, man. Tak’ tent.”
“Losh! sir; ye’ve taen aff my leg at the hip!”
“Ye’re shavin’ ower close: ye’ll draw the bluid, sir.”
“Hoot, man! lat alane. The gentleman’s only mista’en his trade, an’ imaigins he’s howkin’
a grave.”
And so on. Hugh gave no further sign of hearing their remarks than lay in increased
exertion. Looking round, however, he saw that Margaret was vexed, evidently not for her own
sake. He smiled to her, to console her for his annoyance; and then, ambitious to remove the
cause of it, made a fresh exertion, recovered all his distance, and was in his own place with
the best of them at the end of the bout. But the smile that had passed between them did not
escape unobserved; and he had aroused yet more the wrath of the youths, by threatening
soon to rival them in the excellencies to which they had an especial claim. They had regarded
him as an interloper, who had no right to captivate one of their rank by arts beyond their
reach; but it was still less pardonable to dare them to a trial of skill with their own weapons. To
the fire of this jealousy, the admiration of the laird added fuel; for he was delighted with the
spirit with which Hugh laid himself to the scythe. But all the time, nothing was further from
Hugh’s thoughts than the idea of rivalry with them. Whatever he might have thought of
Margaret in relation to himself, he never thought of her, though labouring in the same field
with them, as in the least degree belonging to their class, or standing in any possible relation
to them, except that of a common work.
In ordinary, the labourers would have had sufficient respect for Sutherland’s superior
position, to prevent them from giving such decided and articulate utterance to their feelings.
But they were incited by the presence and example of a man of doubtful character from the
neighbouring village, a travelled and clever ne’er-do-weel, whose reputation for wit was
equalled by his reputation for courage and skill, as well as profligacy. Roused by the
effervescence of his genius, they went on from one thing to another, till Hugh saw it must be
put a stop to somehow, else he must abandon the field. They dared not have gone so far if
David had been present; but he had been called away to superintend some operations in
another part of the estate; and they paid no heed to the expostulations of some of the other
older men. At the close of the day’s work, therefore, Hugh walked up to this fellow, and said:
“I hope you will be satisfied with insulting me all to-day, and leave it alone to-morrow.”
The man replied, with an oath and a gesture of rude contempt,
“I dinna care the black afore my nails for ony skelp-doup o’ the lot o’ ye.”
Hugh’s highland blood flew to his brain, and before the rascal finished his speech, he had
measured his length on the stubble. He sprang to his feet in a fury, threw off the coat whichhe had just put on, and darted at Hugh, who had by this time recovered his coolness, and was
besides, notwithstanding his unusual exertions, the more agile of the two. The other was
heavier and more powerful. Hugh sprang aside, as he would have done from the rush of a
bull, and again with a quick blow felled his antagonist. Beginning rather to enjoy punishing him,
he now went in for it; and, before the other would yield, he had rendered his next day’s labour
somewhat doubtful. He withdrew, with no more injury to himself than a little water would
remove. Janet and Margaret had left the field before he addressed the man.
He went borne and to bed — more weary than he had ever been in his life. Before he
went to sleep, however, he made up his mind to say nothing of his encounter to David, but to
leave him to hear of it from other sources. He could not help feeling a little anxious as to his
judgment upon it. That the laird would approve, he hardly doubted; but for his opinion he
cared very little.
“Dawvid, I wonner at ye,” said Janet to her husband, the moment he came home, “to lat
the young lad warstle himsel’ deid that get wi’ a scythe. His banes is but saft yet, There wasna
a dry steek on him or he wan half the lenth o’ the first bout. He’s sair disjaskit, I’se warran’.”
“Nae fear o’ him, Janet; it’ll do him guid. Mr. Sutherland’s no feckless winlestrae o’ a
creater. Did he haud his ain at a’ wi’ the lave?”
“Haud his ain! Gin he be fit for onything the day, he maun be pitten neist yersel’, or he’ll
cut the legs aff o’ ony ither man i’ the corn.”
A glow of pleasure mantled in Margaret’s face at her mother’s praise of Hugh. Janet
went on:
“But I was jist clean affronted wi’ the way ‘at the young chields behaved themselves till
“I thocht I heard a toot-moot o’ that kin’ afore I left, but I thocht it better to tak’ nae notice
o’t. I’ll be wi’ ye a’ day the morn though, an’ I’m thinkin’ I’ll clap a rouch han’ on their mou’s ‘at I
hear ony mair o’t frae.”
But there was no occasion for interference on David’s part. Hugh made his appearance
— not, it is true, with the earliest in the hairst-rig, but after breakfast with the laird, who was
delighted with the way in which he had handled his scythe the day before, and felt twice the
respect for him in consequence. It must be confessed he felt very stiff, but the best treatment
for stiffness being the homoeopathic one of more work, he had soon restored the elasticity of
his muscles, and lubricated his aching joints. His antagonist of the foregoing evening was
nowhere to be seen; and the rest of the young men were shame-faced and respectful
David, having learned from some of the spectators the facts of the combat, suddenly, as
they were walking home together, held out his hand to Hugh, shook his hard, and said:
“Mr. Sutherlan’, I’m sair obleeged to ye for giein’ that vratch, Jamie Ogg, a guid
doonsettin’. He’s a coorse crater; but the warst maun hae meat, an’ sae I didna like to refeese
him when he cam for wark. But its a greater kin’ness to clout him nor to cleed him. They say
ye made an awfu’ munsie o’ him. But it’s to be houpit he’ll live to thank ye. There’s some fowk
‘at can respeck no airgument but frae steekit neives; an’ it’s fell cruel to haud it frae them, gin
ye hae’t to gie them. I hae had eneuch ado to haud my ain han’s aff o’ the ted, but it comes a
hantle better frae you, Mr. Sutherlan’.”
Hugh wielded the scythe the whole of the harvest, and Margaret gathered to him. By the
time it was over, leading-home and all, he measured an inch less about the waist, and two
inches more about the shoulders; and was as brown as a berry, and as strong as an ox, or
“owse,” as David called it, when thus describing Mr. Sutherland’s progress in corporal
development; for he took a fatherly pride in the youth, to whom, at the same time, he looked
up with submission, as his master in learning.
Chapter 11 — A Change and No Change

Affliction, when I know it, is but this —
A deep alloy, whereby man tougher is
To bear the hammer; and the deeper still,
We still arise more image of his will.
Sickness — an humorous cloud ‘twist us and light;
And death, at longest, but another night.
Man is his own star; and that soul that can
Be honest, is the only perfect Man.
—John Fletcher, Upon an Honest Man’s Fortune.

Had Sutherland been in love with Margaret, those would have been happy days; and that
a yet more happy night, when, under the mystery of a low moonlight and a gathering storm,
the crop was cast in haste into the carts, and hurried home to be built up in safety; when a
strange low wind crept sighing across the stubble, as if it came wandering out of the past and
the land of dreams, lying far off and withered in the green west; and when Margaret and he
came and went in the moonlight like creatures in a dream — for the vapours of sleep were
floating in Hugh’s brain, although he was awake and working.
“Margaret,” he said, as they stood waiting a moment for the cart that was coming up to
be filled with sheaves, “what does that wind put you in mind of?”
“Ossian’s Poems,” replied Margaret, without a moment’s hesitation.
Hugh was struck by her answer. He had meant something quite different. But it
harmonized with his feeling about Ossian; for the genuineness of whose poetry, Highlander as
he was, he had no better argument to give than the fact, that they produced in himself an
altogether peculiar mental condition; that the spiritual sensations he had in reading them were
quite different from those produced by anything else, prose or verse; in fact, that they created
moods of their own in his mind. He was unwilling to believe, apart from national prejudices
(which have not prevented the opinions on this question from being as strong on the one side
as on the other), that this individuality of influence could belong to mere affectations of a style
which had never sprung from the sources of real feeling. “Could they,” he thought, “possess
the power to move us like remembered dreams of our childhood, if all that they possessed of
reality was a pretended imitation of what never existed, and all that they inherited from the
past was the halo of its strangeness?”
But Hugh was not in love with Margaret, though he could not help feeling the pleasure of
her presence. Any youth must have been the better for having her near him; but there was
nothing about her quiet, self-contained being, free from manifestation of any sort, to rouse the
feelings commonly called love, in the mind of an inexperienced youth like Hugh Sutherland. —
I say commonly called, because I believe that within the whole sphere of intelligence there are
no two loves the same. — Not that he was less easily influenced than other youths. A
designing girl might have caught him at once, if she had had no other beauty than sparkling
eyes; but the womanhood of the beautiful Margaret kept so still in its pearly cave, that it rarely
met the glance of neighbouring eyes. How Margaret regarded him I do not know; but I think it
was with a love almost entirely one with reverence and gratitude. Cause for gratitude she
certainly had, though less than she supposed; and very little cause indeed for reverence. But
how could she fail to revere one to whom even her father looked up? Of course David’s
feeling of respect for Hugh must have sprung chiefly from intellectual grounds; and he could
hardly help seeing, if he thought at all on the subject, which is doubtful, that Hugh was as far
behind Margaret in the higher gifts and graces, as he was before her in intellectual
acquirement. But whether David perceived this or not, certainly Margaret did not even think inthat direction. She was pure of self-judgment — conscious of no comparing of herself with
others, least of all with those next her.
At length the harvest was finished; or, as the phrase of the district was, clyack was
gotten — a phrase with the derivation, or even the exact meaning of which, I am
unacquainted; knowing only that it implies something in close association with the feast of
harvest-home, called the kirn in other parts of Scotland. Thereafter, the fields lay bare to the
frosts of morning and evening, and to the wind that grew cooler and cooler with the breath of
Winter, who lay behind the northern hills, and waited for his hour. But many lovely days
remained, of quiet and slow decay, of yellow and red leaves, of warm noons and lovely
sunsets, followed by skies — green from the west horizon to the zenith, and walked by a
moon that seemed to draw up to her all the white mists from pond and river and pool, to settle
again in hoar-frost, during the colder hours that precede the dawn. At length every leafless
tree sparkled in the morning sun, incrusted with fading gems; and the ground was hard under
foot; and the hedges were filled with frosted spider-webs; and winter had laid the tips of his
fingers on the land, soon to cover it deep with the flickering snow-flakes, shaken from the
folds of his outspread mantle. But long ere this, David and Margaret had returned with
renewed diligence, and powers strengthened by repose, or at least by intermission, to their
mental labours, and Hugh was as constant a visitor at the cottage as before. The time,
however, drew nigh when he must return to his studies at Aberdeen; and David and Margaret
were looking forward with sorrow to the loss of their friend. Janet, too, “cudna bide to think
“He’ll tak’ the daylicht wi’ him, I doot, my lass,” she said, as she made the porridge for
breakfast one morning, and looked down anxiously at her daughter, seated on the creepie by
the ingle-neuk.
“Na, na, mither,” replied Margaret, looking up from her book; “he’ll lea’ sic gifts ahin’ him
as’ll mak’ daylicht i’ the dark;” and then she bent her head and went on with her reading, as if
she had not spoken.
The mother looked away with a sigh and a slight, sad shake of the head.
But matters were to turn out quite different from all anticipations. Before the day arrived
on which Hugh must leave for the university, a letter from home informed him that his father
was dangerously ill. He hastened to him, but only to comfort his last hours by all that a son
could do, and to support his mother by his presence during the first hours of her loneliness.
But anxious thoughts for the future, which so often force themselves on the attention of those
who would gladly prolong their brooding over the past, compelled them to adopt an alteration
of their plans for the present.
The half-pay of Major Sutherland was gone, of course; and all that remained for Mrs.
Sutherland was a small annuity, secured by her husband’s payments to a certain fund for the
use of officers’ widows. From this she could spare but a mere trifle for the completion of
Hugh’s university-education; while the salary he had received at Turriepuffit, almost the whole
of which he had saved, was so small as to be quite inadequate for the very moderate outlay
necessary. He therefore came to the resolution to write to the laird, and offer, if they were not
yet provided with another tutor, to resume his relation to the young gentlemen for the winter.
It was next to impossible to spend money there; and he judged that before the following
winter, he should be quite able to meet the expenses of his residence at Aberdeen, during the
last session of his course. He would have preferred trying to find another situation, had it not
been that David and Janet and Margaret had made there a home for him.
Whether Mrs. Glasford was altogether pleased at the proposal, I cannot tell; but the laird
wrote a very gentlemanlike epistle, condoling with him and his mother upon their loss, and
urging the usual common-places of consolation. The letter ended with a hearty acceptance of
Hugh’s offer, and, strange to tell, the unsolicited promise of an increase of salary to the
amount of five pounds. This is another to be added to the many proofs that verisimilitude isnot in the least an essential element of verity.
He left his mother as soon as circumstances would permit, and returned to Turriepuffit;
an abode for the winter very different indeed from that in which he had expected to spend it.
He reached the place early in the afternoon; received from Mrs. Glasford a cold “I hope
you’re well, Mr. Sutherland;” found his pupils actually reading, and had from them a welcome
rather boisterously evidenced; told them to get their books; and sat down with them at once to
commence their winter labours. He spent two hours thus; had a hearty shake of the hand
from the laird, when he came home; and, after a substantial tea, walked down to David’s
cottage, where a welcome awaited him worth returning for.
“Come yer wa’s butt,” said Janet, who met him as he opened the door without any
prefatory knock, and caught him with both hands; “I’m blithe to see yer bonny face ance mair.
We’re a’ jist at ane mair wi’ expeckin’ o’ ye.”
David stood in the middle of the floor, waiting for him.
“Come awa’, my bonny lad,” was all his greeting, as he held out a great fatherly hand to
the youth, and, grasping his in the one, clapped him on the shoulder with the other, the water
standing in his blue eyes the while. Hugh thought of his own father, and could not restrain his
tears. Margaret gave him a still look full in the face, and, seeing his emotion, did not even
approach to offer him any welcome. She hastened, instead, to place a chair for him as she
had done when first he entered the cottage, and when he had taken it sat down at his feet on
her creepie. With true delicacy, no one took any notice of him for some time. David said at
“An’ hoo’s yer puir mother, Mr. Sutherlan’?”
“She’s pretty well,” was all Hugh could answer.
“It’s a sair stroke to bide,” said David; “but it’s a gran’ thing whan a man’s won weel
throw’t. Whan my father deit, I min’ weel, I was sae prood to see him lyin’ there, in the cauld
grandeur o’ deith, an’ no man ‘at daured say he ever did or spak the thing ‘at didna become
him, ‘at I jist gloried i’ the mids o’ my greetin’. He was but a puir auld shepherd, Mr. Sutherlan’,
wi’ hair as white as the sheep ‘at followed him; an’ I wat as they followed him, he followed the
great Shepherd; an’ followed an’ followed, till he jist followed Him hame, whaur we’re a’ boun’,
an’ some o’ us far on the road, thanks to Him!”
And with that David rose, and got down the Bible, and, opening it reverently, read with a
solemn, slightly tremulous voice, the fourteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. When he had
finished, they all rose, as by one accord, and knelt down, and David prayed:
“O Thou in whase sicht oor deeth is precious, an’ no licht maitter; wha through darkness
leads to licht, an’ through deith to the greater life! — we canna believe that thou wouldst gie
us ony guid thing, to tak’ the same again; for that would be but bairns’ play. We believe that
thou taks, that thou may gie again the same thing better nor afore — mair o’t and better nor
we could ha’ received it itherwise; jist as the Lord took himsel’ frae the sicht o’ them ‘at lo’ed
him weel, that instead o’ bein’ veesible afore their een, he micht hide himsel’ in their verra
herts. Come thou, an’ abide in us, an’ tak’ us to bide in thee; an’ syne gin we be a’ in thee, we
canna be that far frae ane anither, though some sud be in haven, an’ some upo’ earth. Lord
help us to do oor wark like thy men an’ maidens doon the stair, remin’in’ oursel’s, ‘at them ‘at
we miss hae only gane up the stair, as gin ‘twar to haud things to thy han’ i’ thy ain
presencechamber, whaur we houp to be called or lang, an’ to see thee an’ thy Son, wham we lo’e
aboon a’; an’ in his name we say, Amen!”
Hugh rose from his knees with a sense of solemnity and reality that he had never felt
before. Little was said that evening; supper was eaten, if not in silence, yet with nothing that
could be called conversation. And, almost in silence, David walked home with Hugh. The spirit
of his father seemed to walk beside him. He felt as if he had been buried with him; and had
found that the sepulchre was clothed with green things and roofed with stars — was in truth
the heavens and the earth in which his soul walked abroad.If Hugh looked a little more into his Bible, and tried a little more to understand it, after his
father’s death, it is not to be wondered at. It is but another instance of the fact that, whether
from education or from the leading of some higher instinct, we are ready, in every more
profound trouble, to feel as if a solution or a refuge lay somewhere — lay in sounds of
wisdom, perhaps, to be sought and found in the best of books, the deepest of all the
mysterious treasuries of words. But David never sought to influence Hugh to this end. He read
the Bible in his family, but he never urged the reading of it on others. Sometimes he seemed
rather to avoid the subject of religion altogether; and yet it was upon those very occasions
that, if he once began to speak, he would pour out, before he ceased, some of his most
impassioned utterances.
Chapter 12 — Charity

Knowledge bloweth up, but charity buildeth up.
—Lord Bacon’s rendering of 1 Cor. viii. I.

Things went on as usual for a few days, when Hugh began to encounter a source of
suffering of a very material and unromantic kind, but which, nevertheless, had been able
before now, namely, at the commencement of his tutorship, to cause him a very sufficient
degree of distress. It was this; that he had no room in which he could pursue his studies in
private, without having to endure a most undesirable degree of cold. In summer this was a
matter of little moment, for the universe might then be his secret chamber; but in a Scotch
spring or autumn, not to say winter, a bedroom without a fire-place, which, strange to say,
was the condition of his, was not a study in which thought could operate to much satisfactory
result. Indeed, pain is a far less hurtful enemy to thinking than cold. And to have to fight such
suffering and its benumbing influences, as well as to follow out a train of reasoning, difficult at
any time, and requiring close attention — is too much for any machine whose thinking wheels
are driven by nervous gear. Sometimes — for he must make the attempt — he came down to
his meals quite blue with cold, as his pupils remarked to their mother; but their observation
never seemed to suggest to her mind the necessity of making some better provision for the
poor tutor. And Hugh, after the way in which she had behaved to him, was far too proud to
ask her a favour, even if he had had hopes of receiving his request. He knew, too, that, in the
house, the laird, to interfere in the smallest degree, must imperil far more than he dared. The
prospect, therefore, of the coming winter, in a country where there was scarcely any
afternoon, and where the snow might lie feet deep for weeks, was not at all agreeable. He
had, as I have said, begun to suffer already, for the mornings and evenings were cold enough
now, although it was a bright, dry October. One evening Janet remarked that he had caught
cold, for he was ‘hostin’ sair;’ and this led Hugh to state the discomfort he was condemned to
experience up at the ha’ house.
“Weel,” said David, after some silent deliberation, “that sattles’t; we maun set aboot it
Of course Hugh was quite at a loss to understand what he meant, and begged him to
“Ye see,” replied David, “we hae verra little hoose-room i’ this bit cot; for, excep this
kitchen, we hae but the ben whaur Janet and me sleeps; and sae last year I spak’ to the laird
to lat me hae muckle timmer as I wad need to big a kin’ o’ a lean-to to the house ahin’, so ‘at
we micht hae a kin’ o’ a bit parlour like, or rather a roomie ‘at ony o’ us micht retire till for a bit,
gin we wanted to be oor lanes. He had nae objections, honest man. But somehoo or ither I
never sat han’ till’t; but noo the wa’s maun be up afore the wat weather sets in. Sae I’se be at
it the morn, an’ maybe ye’ll len’ me a han’, Mr. Sutherlan’, and tak’ oot yer wages in
houseroom an’ firin’ efter it’s dune.”
“Thank you heartily!” said Hugh; “that would be delightful. It seems too good to be
possible. But will not wooden walls be rather a poor protection against such winters as I
suppose you have in these parts?”
“Hootoot, Mr. Sutherlan’, ye micht gie me credit for raither mair rumgumption nor that
comes till. Timmer was the only thing I not (needed) to spier for; the lave lies to ony body’s
han’ — a few cart-fu’s o’ sods frae the hill ahint the hoose, an’ a han’fu’ or twa o’ stanes for
the chimla oot o’ the quarry — there’s eneuch there for oor turn ohn blastit mair; an’ we’ll saw
the wood oorsels; an’ gin we had ance the wa’s up, we can carry on the inside at oor leisur’.
That’s the way ‘at the Maker does wi’ oorsels; he gie’s us the wa’s an’ the material, an’ a
whole lifetime, maybe mair, to furnish the house.”“Capital!” exclaimed Hugh. “I’ll work like a horse, and we’ll be at it the morn.”
“I’se be at it afore daylicht, an’ ane or twa o’ the lads’ll len’ me a han’ efter wark-hours;
and there’s yersel’, Mr. Sutherlan’, worth ane an’ a half o’ ordinary workers; an’ we’ll hae truff
aneuch for the wa’s in a jiffey. I’ll mark a feow saplin’s i’ the wud here at denner-time, an’ we’ll
hae them for bauks, an’ couples, an’ things; an’ there’s plenty dry eneuch for beurds i’ the
shed, an’ bein’ but a lean-to, there’ll be but half wark, ye ken.”
They went out directly, in the moonlight, to choose the spot; and soon came to the
resolution to build it so, that a certain back door, which added more to the cold in winter than
to the convenience in summer, should be the entrance to the new chamber. The chimney was
the chief difficulty; but all the materials being in the immediate neighbourhood, and David
capable of turning his hands to anything, no obstruction was feared. Indeed, he set about that
part first, as was necessary; and had soon built a small chimney, chiefly of stones and lime;
while, under his directions, the walls were making progress at the same time, by the labour of
Hugh and two or three of the young men from the farm, who were most ready to oblige David
with their help, although they were still rather unfriendly to the colliginer, as they called him.
But Hugh’s frankness soon won them over, and they all formed within a day or two a very
comfortable party of labourers. They worked very hard; for if the rain should set in before the
roof was on, their labour would be almost lost from the soaking of the walls. They built them of
turf, very thick, with a slight slope on the outside towards the roof; before commencing which,
they partially cut the windows out of the walls, putting wood across to support the top. I should
have explained that the turf used in building was the upper and coarser part of the peat, which
was plentiful in the neighbourhood. The thatch-eaves of the cottage itself projected over the
joining of the new roof, so as to protect it from the drip; and David soon put a thick thatch of
new straw upon the little building. Second-hand windows were procured at the village, and the
holes in the walls cut to their size. They next proceeded to the saw-pit on the estate — for
almost everything necessary for keeping up the offices was done on the farm itself — where
they sawed thin planks of deal, to floor and line the room, and make it more cosie. These
David planed upon one side; and when they were nailed against slight posts all round the
walls, and the joints filled in with putty, the room began to look most enticingly habitable. The
roof had not been thatched two days before the rain set in; but now they could work quite
comfortably inside; and as the space was small, and the forenights were long, they had it
quite finished before the end of November. David bought an old table in the village, and one or
two chairs; mended them up; made a kind of rustic sofa or settle; put a few bookshelves
against the wall; had a peat fire lighted on the hearth every day; and at length, one Saturday
evening, they had supper in the room, and the place was consecrated henceforth to friendship
and learning. From this time, every evening, as soon as lessons, and the meal which
immediately followed them, were over, Hugh betook himself to the cottage, on the shelves of
which all his books by degrees collected themselves; and there spent the whole long evening,
generally till ten o’clock; the first part alone reading or writing; the last in company with his
pupils, who, diligent as ever, now of course made more rapid progress than before, inasmuch
as the lessons were both longer and more frequent. The only drawback to their comfort was,
that they seemed to have shut Janet out; but she soon remedied this, by contriving to get
through with her house work earlier than she had ever done before; and, taking her place on
the settle behind them, knitted away diligently at her stocking, which, to inexperienced eyes,
seemed always the same, and always in the same state of progress, notwithstanding that she
provided the hose of the whole family, blue and grey, ribbed and plain. Her occasional
withdrawings, to observe the progress of the supper, were only a cheerful break in the
continuity of labour. Little would the passer-by imagine that beneath that roof, which seemed
worthy only of the name of a shed, there sat, in a snug little homely room, such a youth as
Hugh, such a girl as Margaret, such a grand peasant king as David, and such a true-hearted
mother to them all as Janet. There were no pictures and no music; for Margaret kept hersongs for solitary places; but the sound of verse was often the living wind which set a-waving
the tops of the trees of knowledge, fast growing in the sunlight of Truth. The thatch of that
shed-roof was like the grizzled hair of David, beneath which lay the temple not only of holy but
of wise and poetic thought. It was like the sylvan abode of the gods, where the architecture
and music are all of their own making, in their kind the more beautiful, the more simple and
rude; and if more doubtful in their intent, and less precise in their finish, yet therein the fuller of
life and its grace, and the more suggestive of deeper harmonies.
Chapter 13 — Heraldry

And like his father of face and of stature,
And false of love — it came him of nature;
As doth the fox Renard, the fox’s son;
Of kinde, he coud his old father’s wone,
Without lore, as can a drake swim,
When it is caught, and carried to the brim.
—Chaucer, Legend of Phillis.

Of course, the yet more lengthened absences of Hugh from the house were subjects of
remark as at the first; but Hugh had made up his mind not to trouble himself the least about
that. For some time Mrs. Glasford took no notice of them to himself; but one evening, just as
tea was finished, and Hugh was rising to go, her restraint gave way, and she uttered one
spiteful speech, thinking it, no doubt, so witty that it ought to see the light.
“Ye’re a day-labourer it seems, Mr. Sutherlan’, and gang hame at night.”
“Exactly so, madam,” rejoined Hugh. “There is no other relation between you and me,
than that of work and wages. You have done your best to convince me of that, by making it
impossible for me to feel that this house is in any sense my home.”
With this grand speech he left the room, and from that time till the day of his final
departure from Turriepuffit, there was not a single allusion made to the subject.
He soon reached the cottage. When he entered the new room, which was always called
Mr. Sutherland’s study, the mute welcome afforded him by the signs of expectation, in the
glow of the waiting fire, and the outspread arms of the elbow-chair, which was now called his,
as well as the room, made ample amends to him for the unfriendliness of Mrs. Glasford.
Going to the shelves to find the books he wanted, he saw that they had been carefully
arranged on one shelf, and that the others were occupied with books belonging to the house.
He looked at a few of them. They were almost all old books, and such as may be found in
many Scotch cottages; for instance, Boston’s Fourfold State, in which the ways of God and
man may be seen through a fourfold fog; Erskine’s Divine Sonnets, which will repay the reader
in laughter for the pain it costs his reverence, producing much the same effect that a Gothic
cathedral might, reproduced by the pencil and from the remembrance of a Chinese artist, who
had seen it once; Drelincourt on Death, with the famous ghost-hoax of De Foe, to help the
bookseller to the sale of the unsaleable; the Scots Worthies, opening of itself at the memoir of
Mr. Alexander Peden; the Pilgrim’s Progress, that wonderful inspiration, failing never save
when the theologian would sometimes snatch the pen from the hand of the poet; Theron and
Aspasio; Village Dialogues; and others of a like class. To these must be added a rare edition
of Blind Harry. It was clear to Hugh, unable as he was fully to appreciate the wisdom of David,
that it was not from such books as these that he had gathered it; yet such books as these
formed all his store. He turned from them, found his own, and sat down to read. By and by
David came in.
“I’m ower sune, I doubt, Mr. Sutherlan’. I’m disturbin’ ye.”
“Not at all,” answered Hugh. “Besides, I am not much in a reading mood this evening:
Mrs. Glasford has been annoying me again.”
“Poor body! What’s she been sayin’ noo?”
Thinking to amuse David, Hugh recounted the short passage between them recorded
above. David, however, listened with a very different expression of countenance from what
Hugh had anticipated; and, when he had finished, took up the conversation in a kind of
apologetic tone.
“Weel, but ye see,” said he, folding his palms together, “she hasna’ jist had a’thegitherfair play. She does na come o’ a guid breed. Man, it’s a fine thing to come o’ a guid breed.
They hae a hantle to answer for ‘at come o’ decent forbears.”
“I thought she brought the laird a good property,” said Hugh, not quite understanding
“Ow, ay, she brocht him gowpenfu’s o’ siller; but hoo was’t gotten? An’ ye ken it’s no
riches ‘at ‘ill mak’ a guid breed — ‘cep’ it be o’ maggots. The richer cheese the mair maggots,
ye ken. Ye maunna speyk o’ this; but the mistress’s father was weel kent to hae made his
siller by fardins and bawbees, in creepin’, crafty ways. He was a bit merchan’ in Aberdeen, an’
aye keepit his thoom weel ahint the peint o’ the ellwan’, sae ‘at he made an inch or twa upo’
ilka yard he sauld. Sae he took frae his soul, and pat intill his siller-bag, an’ had little to gie his
dochter but a guid tocher. Mr. Sutherlan’, it’s a fine thing to come o’ dacent fowk. Noo, to luik
at yersel’: I ken naething aboot yer family; but ye seem at eesicht to come o’ a guid breed for
the bodily part o’ ye. That’s a sma’ matter; but frae what I ha’e seen — an’ I trust in God I’m
no’ mista’en — ye come o’ the richt breed for the min’ as weel. I’m no flatterin’ ye, Mr.
Sutherlan’; but jist layin’ it upo’ ye, ‘at gin ye had an honest father and gran’father, an’
especially a guid mither, ye hae a heap to answer for; an’ ye ought never to be hard upo’
them ‘at’s sma’ creepin’ creatures, for they canna help it sae weel as the like o’ you and me
David was not given to boasting. Hugh had never heard anything suggesting it from his
lips before. He turned full round and looked at him. On his face lay a solemn quiet, either from
a feeling of his own responsibility, or a sense of the excuse that must be made for others.
What he had said about the signs of breed in Hugh’s exterior, certainly applied to himself as
well. His carriage was full of dignity, and a certain rustic refinement; his voice was wonderfully
gentle, but deep; and slowest when most impassioned. He seemed to have come of some
gigantic antediluvian breed: there was something of the Titan slumbering about him. He would
have been a stern man, but for an unusual amount of reverence that seemed to overflood the
sternness, and change it into strong love. No one had ever seen him thoroughly angry; his
simple displeasure with any of the labourers, the quality of whose work was deficient, would
go further than the laird’s oaths.
Hugh sat looking at David, who supported the look with that perfect calmness that comes
of unconscious simplicity. At length Hugh’s eye sank before David’s, as he said:
“I wish I had known your father, then, David.”
“My father was sic a ane as I tauld ye the ither day, Mr. Sutherlan’. I’m a’ richt there. A
puir, semple, God-fearin’ shepherd, ‘at never gae his dog an ill-deserved word, nor took the
skin o’ ony puir lammie, wha’s woo’ he was clippin’, atween the shears. He was weel worthy o’
the grave ‘at he wan till at last. An’ my mither was jist sic like, wi’ aiblins raither mair heid nor
my father. They’re her beuks maistly upo’ the skelf there abune yer ain, Mr. Sutherlan’. I
honour them for her sake, though I seldom trouble them mysel’. She gae me a kin’ o’ a
scunner at them, honest woman, wi’ garrin’ me read at them o’ Sundays, till they near
scomfisht a’ the guid ‘at was in me by nater. There’s doctrine for ye, Mr. Sutherlan’!” added
David, with a queer laugh.
“I thought they could hardly be your books,” said Hugh.
“But I hae ae odd beuk, an’ that brings me upo’ my pedigree, Mr. Sutherlan’; for the
puirest man has as lang a pedigree as the greatest, only he kens less aboot it, that’s a’. An’ I
wat, for yer lords and ladies, it’s no a’ to their credit ‘at’s tauld o’ their hither-come; an’ that’s a’
against the breed, ye ken. A wilfu’ sin in the father may be a sinfu’ weakness i’ the son; an’
that’s what I ca’ no fair play.”
So saying, David went to his bedroom, whence he returned with a very old-looking book,
which he laid on the table before Hugh. He opened it, and saw that it was a volume of Jacob
Boehmen, in the original language. He found out afterwards, upon further inquiry, that it was
in fact a copy of the first edition of his first work, The Aurora, printed in 1612. On the title-pagewas written a name, either in German or old English character, he was not sure which; but he
was able to read it — Martin Elginbrodde. David, having given him time to see all this, went
“That buik has been in oor family far langer nor I ken. I needna say I canna read a word
o’t, nor I never heard o’ ane ‘at could. But I canna help tellin’ ye a curious thing, Mr.
Sutherlan’, in connexion wi’ the name on that buik: there’s a gravestane, a verra auld ane —
hoo auld I canna weel mak’ out, though I gaed ends-errand to Aberdeen to see’t — an’ the
name upo’ that gravestane is Martin Elginbrod, but made mention o’ in a strange fashion; an’
I’m no sure a’thegither aboot hoo ye’ll tak’ it, for it soun’s rather fearsome at first hearin’ o’t.
But ye’se hae’t as I read it:

‘Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde:
Hae mercy o’ my soul, Lord God;
As I wad do, were I Lord God,
And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.’
Certainly Hugh could not help a slight shudder at what seemed to him the irreverence of
the epitaph, if indeed it was not deserving of a worse epithet. But he made no remark; and,
after a moment’s pause, David resumed:
“I was unco ill-pleased wi’t at the first, as ye may suppose, Mr. Sutherlan’; but, after a
while, I begude (began) an’ gaed through twa or three bits o’ reasonin’s aboot it, in this way:
By the natur’ o’t, this maun be the man’s ain makin’, this epitaph; for no ither body cud ha’
dune’t; and he had left it in’s will to be pitten upo’ the deid-stane, nae doot: I’ the
contemplation o’ deith, a man wad no be lik’ly to desire the perpetuation o’ a blasphemy upo’ a
table o’ stone, to stan’ against him for centuries i’ the face o’ God an’ man: therefore it cudna
ha’ borne the luik to him o’ the presumptuous word o’ a proud man evenin’ himsel’ wi’ the
Almichty. Sae what was’t, then, ‘at made him mak’ it? It seems to me — though I confess, Mr.
Sutherlan’, I may be led astray by the nateral desire ‘at a man has to think weel o’ his ain
forbears — for ‘at he was a forbear o’ my ain, I canna weel doot, the name bein’ by no means
a common ane, in Scotland ony way — I’m sayin’, it seems to me, that it’s jist a darin’ way,
maybe a childlike way, o’ judgin’, as Job micht ha’ dune, ‘the Lord by himsel’;’ an’ sayin’, ‘at gin
he, Martin Elginbrod, wad hae mercy, surely the Lord was not less mercifu’ than he was. The
offspring o’ the Most High was, as it were, aware o’ the same spirit i’ the father o’ him, as
muved in himsel’. He felt ‘at the mercy in himsel’ was ane o’ the best things; an’ he cudna
think ‘at there wad be less o’t i’ the father o’ lichts, frae whom cometh ilka guid an’ perfeck gift.
An’ may be he remembered ‘at the Saviour himsel’ said: ‘Be ye perfect as your father in
Heaven is perfect;’ and that the perfection o’ God, as He had jist pinted oot afore, consisted in
causin’ his bonny sun to shine on the evil an’ the good, an’ his caller rain to fa’ upo’ the just an’
the unjust.”
It may well be doubted whether David’s interpretation of the epitaph was the correct one.
It will appear to most of my readers to breathe rather of doubt lighted up by hope, than of that
strong faith which David read in it. But whether from family partiality, and consequent
unwillingness to believe that his ancestor had been a man who, having led a wild, erring, and
evil life, turned at last towards the mercy of God as his only hope, which the words might
imply; or simply that he saw this meaning to be the best; this was the interpretation which
David had adopted.
“But,” interposed Hugh, “supposing he thought all that, why should he therefore have it
carved on his tombstone?”
“I hae thocht aboot that too,” answered David. “For ae thing, a body has but feow ways
o’ sayin’ his say to his brithermen. Robbie Burns cud do’t in sang efter sang; but maybe this
epitaph was a’ that auld Martin was able to mak’. He michtna hae had the gift o’ utterance.
But there may be mair in’t nor that. Gin the clergy o’ thae times warna a gey hantle mairenlichtened nor a fowth o’ the clergy hereabouts, he wad hae heard a heap aboot the glory o’
God, as the thing ‘at God himsel’ was maist anxious aboot uphaudin’, jist like a prood creater
o’ a king; an’ that he wad mak’ men, an’ feed them, an’ cleed them, an’ gie them braw wives
an’ toddlin’ bairnies, an’ syne damn them, a’ for’s ain glory. Maybe ye wadna get mony o’
them ‘at wad speyk sae fair-oot noo-a-days, for they gang wi’ the tide jist like the lave; but i’
my auld minny’s buiks, I hae read jilt as muckle as that, an’ waur too. Mony ane ‘at spak like
that, had nae doot a guid meanin’ in’t; but, hech man! it’s an awesome deevilich way o’ sayin’
a holy thing. Noo, what better could puir auld Martin do, seein’ he had no ae word to say i’ the
kirk a’ his lifelang, nor jist say his ae word, as pithily as might be, i’ the kirkyard, efter he was
deid; an’ ower an’ ower again, wi’ a tongue o’ stane, let them tak’ it or lat it alane ‘at likit?
That’s a’ my defence o’ my auld luckie-daddy — Heaven rest his brave auld soul!”
“But are we not in danger,” said Hugh, “of thinking too lightly and familiarly of the Maker,
when we proceed to judge him so by ourselves?”
“Mr. Sutherlan’,” replied David, very solemnly, “I dinna thenk I can be in muckle danger o’
lichtlyin’ him, whan I ken in my ain sel’, as weel as she ‘at was healed o’ her plague, ‘at I wad
be a horse i’ that pleuch, or a pig in that stye, not merely if it was his will — for wha can stan’
against that — but if it was for his glory; ay, an’ comfort mysel’, a’ the time the change was
passin’ upo’ me, wi’ the thocht that, efter an’ a’, his blessed han’s made the pigs too.”
“But, a moment ago, David, you seemed to me to be making rather little of his glory.”
“O’ his glory, as they consider glory — ay; efter a warldly fashion that’s no better nor
pride, an’ in him would only be a greater pride. But his glory! consistin’ in his trowth an’
lovin’kindness — (man! that’s a bonny word) — an’ grand self-forgettin’ devotion to his
creaters — lord! man, it’s unspeakable. I care little for his glory either, gin by that ye mean the
praise o’ men. A heap o’ the anxiety for the spread o’ his glory, seems to me to be but a
desire for the sempathy o’ ither fowk. There’s no fear but men ‘ll praise him, a’ in guid time —
that is, whan they can. But, Mr. Sutherlan’, for the glory o’ God, raither than, if it were
possible, one jot or one tittle should fail of his entire perfection of holy beauty, I call God to
witness, I would gladly go to hell itsel’; for no evil worth the full name can befall the earth or
ony creater in’t, as long as God is what he is. For the glory o’ God, Mr. Sutherlan’, I wad die
the deith. For the will o’ God, I’m ready for onything he likes. I canna surely be in muckle
danger o’ lichtlyin’ him. I glory in my God.”
The almost passionate earnestness with which David spoke, would alone have made it
impossible for Hugh to reply at once. After a few moments, however, he ventured to ask the
“Would you do nothing that other people should know God, then, David?”
“Onything ‘at he likes. But I would tak’ tent o’ interferin’. He’s at it himsel’ frae mornin’ to
nicht, frae year’s en’ to year’s en’.”
“But you seem to me to make out that God is nothing but love!”
“Ay, naething but love. What for no?”
“Because we are told he is just.”
“Would he be lang just if he didna lo’e us?”
“But does he not punish sin?”
“Would it be ony kin’ness no to punish sin? No to us a’ means to pit awa’ the ae ill thing
frae us? Whatever may be meant by the place o’ meesery, depen’ upo’t, Mr. Sutherlan’, it’s
only anither form o’ love, love shinin’ through the fogs o’ ill, an’ sae gart leuk something verra
different thereby. Man, raither nor see my Maggy — an’ ye’ll no doot ‘at I lo’e her — raither
nor see my Maggy do an ill thing, I’d see her lyin’ deid at my feet. But supposin’ the ill thing
ance dune, it’s no at my feet I wad lay her, but upo’ my heart, wi’ my auld arms aboot her, to
hand the further ill aff o’ her. An’ shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be
more pure than his Maker? O my God! my God!”
The entrance of Margaret would have prevented the prosecution of this conversation,even if it had not already drawn to a natural close. Not that David would not have talked thus
before his daughter, but simply that minds, like instruments, need to be brought up to the
same pitch, before they can “atone together,” and that one feels this instinctively on the
entrance of another who has not gone through the same immediate process of gradual
elevation of tone.
Their books and slates were got out, and they sat down to their work; but Hugh could not
help observing that David, in the midst of his lines and angles and algebraic computations,
would, every now and then, glance up at Margaret, with a look of tenderness in his face yet
deeper and more delicate in its expression than ordinary. Margaret was, however, quite
unconscious of it, pursuing her work with her ordinary even diligence. But Janet observed it.
“What ails the bairn, Dawvid, ‘at ye leuk at her that get? said she.
“Naething ails her, woman. Do ye never leuk at a body but when something ails them?”
“Ow, ay — but no that get.”
“Weel, maybe I was thinkin’ hoo I wad leuk at her gin onything did ail her.”
“Hoot! hoot! dinna further the ill hither by makin’ a bien doonsittin’ an’ a bed for’t.”
All David’s answer to this was one of his own smiles.
At supper, for it happened to be Saturday, Hugh said:
“I’ve been busy, between whiles, inventing, or perhaps discovering, an etymological
pedigree for you, David!”
“Weel, lat’s hear’t,” said David.
“First — do you know that that volume with your ancestor’s name on it, was written by an
old German shoemaker, perhaps only a cobbler, for anything I know?”
“I know nothing aboot it, more or less,” answered David.
“He was a wonderful man. Some people think he was almost inspired.”
“Maybe, maybe,” was all David’s doubtful response.
“At all events, though I know nothing about it myself, he must have written wonderfully
for a cobbler.”
“For my pairt,” replied David, “if I see no wonder in the man, I can see but little in the
cobbler. What for shouldna a cobbler write wonnerfully, as weel as anither? It’s a trade ‘at
furthers meditation. My grandfather was a cobbler, as ye ca’t; an’ they say he was no fule in
his ain way either.”
“Then it does go in the family!” cried Hugh, triumphantly. “I was in doubt at first whether
your name referred to the breadth of your shoulders, David, as transmitted from some ancient
sire, whose back was an Ellwand-broad; for the g might come from a w or v, for anything I
know to the contrary. But it would have been braid in that case. And, now, I am quite
convinced that that Martin or his father was a German, a friend of old Jacob Boehmen, who
gave him the book himself, and was besides of the same craft; and he coming to this country
with a name hard to be pronounced, they found a resemblance in the sound of it to his
occupation; and so gradually corrupted his name, to them uncouth, into Elsynbrod,
Elshinbrod, thence Elginbrod, with a soft g, and lastly Elginbrod, as you pronounce it now, with
a hard g. This name, turned from Scotch into English, would then be simply Martin Awlbore.
The cobbler is in the family, David, descended from Jacob Boehmen himself, by the mother’s
This heraldic blazon amused them all very much, and David expressed his entire
concurrence with it, declaring it to be incontrovertible. Margaret laughed heartily.
Besides its own beauty, two things made Margaret’s laugh of some consequence; one
was, that it was very rare; and the other, that it revealed her two regular rows of dainty white
teeth, suiting well to the whole build of the maiden. She was graceful and rather tall, with a
head which, but for its smallness, might have seemed too heavy for the neck that supported
it, so ready it always was to droop like a snowdrop. The only parts about her which Hugh
disliked, were her hands and feet. The former certainly had been reddened and roughened byhousehold work: but they were well formed notwithstanding. The latter he had never seen,
notwithstanding the bare-foot habits of Scotch maidens; for he saw Margaret rarely except in
the evenings, and then she was dressed to receive him. Certainly, however, they were very
far from following the shape of the clumsy country shoes, by which he misjudged their
proportions. Had he seen them, as he might have seen them some part of any day during the
summer, their form at least would have satisfied him.
Chapter 14 — Winter

Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven,
who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of
the deep is frozen.
He giveth snow like wool; he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.
Job xxxviii. 29, 30; Psalm cxlvii. 16.

Winter was fairly come at last. A black frost had bound the earth for many days; and at
length a peculiar sensation, almost a smell of snow in the air, indicated an approaching storm.
The snow fell at first in a few large unwilling flakes, that fluttered slowly and heavily to the
earth, where they lay like the foundation of the superstructure that was about to follow. Faster
and faster they fell — wonderful multitudes of delicate crystals, adhering in shapes of beauty
which outvied all that jeweller could invent or execute of ethereal, starry forms, structures of
evanescent yet prodigal loveliness — till the whole air was obscured by them, and night came
on, hastened by an hour, from the gathering of their white darkness. In the morning, all the
landscape was transfigured. The snow had ceased to fall; but the whole earth, houses, fields,
and fences, ponds and streams, were changed to whiteness. But most wonderful looked the
trees — every bough and every twig thickened, and bent earthward with its own individual load
of the fairy ghost-birds. Each retained the semblance of its own form, wonderfully, magically
altered by its thick garment of radiant whiteness, shining gloriously in the sunlight. It was the
shroud of dead nature; but a shroud that seemed to prefigure a lovely resurrection; for the
very death-robe was unspeakably, witchingly beautiful. Again at night the snow fell; and again
and again, with intervening days of bright sunshine. Every morning, the first fresh footprints
were a new wonder to the living creatures, the young-hearted amongst them at least, who
lived and moved in this death-world, this sepulchral planet, buried in the shining air before the
eyes of its sister-stars in the blue, deathless heavens. Paths had to be cleared in every
direction towards the out-houses, and again cleared every morning; till at last the walls of solid
rain stood higher than the head of little Johnnie, as he was still called, though he was twelve
years old. It was a great delight to him to wander through the snow-avenues in every
direction; and great fun it was, both to him and his brother, when they were tired of
snowballing each other and every living thing about the place except their parents and tutor, to
hollow out mysterious caves and vaulted passages. Sometimes they would carry these
passages on from one path to within an inch or two of another, and there lie in wait till some
passer-by, unweeting of harm, was just opposite their lurking cave; when they would dash
through the solid wall of snow with a hideous yell, almost endangering the wits of the maids,
and causing a recoil and startled ejaculation even of the strong man on whom they chanced to
try their powers of alarm. Hugh himself was once glad to cover the confusion of his own fright
with the hearty fit of laughter into which the perturbation of the boys, upon discovering whom
they had startled, threw him. It was rare fun to them; but not to the women about the house,
who moved from place to place in a state of chronic alarm, scared by the fear of being
scared; till one of them going into hysterics, real or pretended, it was found necessary to put a
stop to the practice; not, however, before Margaret had had her share of the jest. Hugh
happened to be looking out of his window at the moment — watching her, indeed, as she
passed towards the kitchen with some message from her mother; when an indescribable
monster, a chaotic mass of legs and snow, burst, as if out of the earth, upon her. She turned
pale as the snow around her (and Hugh had never observed before how dark her eyes were),
as she sprang back with the grace of a startled deer. She uttered no cry, however, perceiving
in a moment who it was, gave a troubled little smile, and passed on her way as if nothing had
happened. Hugh was not sorry when maternal orders were issued against the practical joke.The boys did not respect their mother very much, but they dared not disobey her, when she
spoke in a certain tone.
There was no pathway cut to David’s cottage; and no track trodden, except what David,
coming to the house sometimes, and Hugh going every afternoon to the cottage, made
between them. Hugh often went to the knees in snow, but was well dried and warmed by
Janet’s care when he arrived. She had always a pair of stockings and slippers ready for him at
the fire, to be put on the moment of his arrival; and exchanged again for his own, dry and
warm, before he footed once more the ghostly waste. When neither moon was up nor stars
were out, there was a strange eerie glimmer from the snow that lighted the way home; and he
thought there must be more light from it than could be accounted for merely by the reflection
of every particle of light that might fall upon it from other sources.
Margaret was not kept to the house by the snow, even when it was falling. She went out
as usual — not of course wandering far, for walking was difficult now. But she was in little
danger of losing her way, for she knew the country as well as any one; and although its face
was greatly altered by the filling up of its features, and the uniformity of the colour, yet those
features were discernible to her experienced eye through the sheet that covered them. It was
only necessary to walk on the tops of dykes, and other elevated ridges, to keep clear of the
deep snow.
There were many paths between the cottages and the farms in the neighbourhood, in
which she could walk with comparative ease and comfort. But she preferred wandering away
through the fields and toward the hills. Sometimes she would come home like a creature of
the snow, born of it, and living in it; so covered was she from head to foot with its flakes.
David used to smile at her with peculiar complacency on such occasions. It was evident that it
pleased him she should be the playmate of Nature. Janet was not altogether indulgent to
these freaks, as she considered them, of Marget — she had quite given up calling her Meg,
“sin’ she took to the beuk so eident.” But whatever her mother might think of it, Margaret was
in this way laying up a store not only of bodily and mental health, but of resources for thought
and feeling, of secret understandings and communions with Nature, and everything simple,
and strong, and pure through Nature, than which she could have accumulated nothing more
This kind of weather continued for some time, till the people declared they had never
known a storm last so long “ohn ever devallt,” that is, without intermission. But the frost grew
harder; and then the snow, instead of falling in large adhesive flakes, fell in small dry flakes, of
which the boys could make no snaw-ba’s. All the time, however, there was no wind; and this
not being a sheep country, there was little uneasiness or suffering occasioned by the severity
of the weather, beyond what must befall the poorer classes in every northern country during
the winter.
One day, David heard that a poor old man of his acquaintance was dying, and
immediately set out to visit him, at a distance of two or three miles. He returned in the
evening, only in time for his studies; for there was of course little or nothing to be done at
present in the way of labour. As he sat down to the table, he said:
“I hae seen a wonnerfu’ sicht sin’ I saw you, Mr. Sutherlan’. I gaed to see an auld
Christian, whase body an’ brain are nigh worn oot. He was never onything remarkable for
intellec, and jist took what the minister tellt him for true, an’ keepit the guid o’t; for his hert was
aye richt, an’ his faith a hantle stronger than maybe it had ony richt to be, accordin’ to his ain
opingans; but, hech! there’s something far better nor his opingans i’ the hert o’ ilka God-fearin’
body. Whan I gaed butt the hoose, he was sittin’ in’s auld arm-chair by the side o’ the fire, an’
his face luikit dazed like. There was no licht in’t but what cam’ noo an’ than frae a low i’ the
fire. The snaw was driftin’ a wee aboot the bit winnock, an’ his auld een was fixed upo’t; an’ a’
‘at he said, takin’ no notice o’ me, was jist, ‘The birdies is flutterin’; the birdies is flutterin’.’ I
spak’ till him, an’ tried to roose him, wi’ ae thing after anither, bit I micht as weel hae spoken tothe door-cheek, for a’ the notice that he took. Never a word he spak’, but aye ‘The birdies is
flutterin’.’ At last, it cam’ to my min’ ‘at the body was aye fu’ o’ ane o’ the psalms in particler;
an’ sae I jist said till him at last: ‘John, hae ye forgotten the twenty-third psalm?’ ‘Forgotten the
twenty-third psalm!’ quo’ he; an’ his face lighted up in a moment frae the inside: ‘The Lord’s
my shepherd, — an’ I hae followed Him through a’ the smorin’ drift o’ the warl’, an’ he’ll bring
me to the green pastures an’ the still waters o’ His summer-kingdom at the lang last. I shall
not want. An’ I hae wanted for naething, naething.’ He had been a shepherd himsel’ in’s young
days. And so on he gaed, wi’ a kin’ o’ a personal commentary on the haill psalm frae beginnin’
to en’, and syne he jist fell back into the auld croonin’ sang, ‘The birdies is flutterin’; the birdies
is flutterin’.’ The licht deed oot o’ his face, an’ a’ that I could say could na’ bring back the licht
to his face, nor the sense to his tongue. He’ll sune be in a better warl’. Sae I was jist forced to
leave him. But I promised his dochter, puir body, that I would ca’ again an’ see him the morn’s
afternoon. It’s unco dowie wark for her; for they hae scarce a neebor within reach o’ them, in
case o’ a change; an’ there had hardly been a creatur’ inside o’ their door for a week.”
The following afternoon, David set out according to his promise. Before his return, the
wind, which had been threatening to wake all day, had risen rapidly, and now blew a
snowstorm of its own. When Hugh opened the door to take his usual walk to the cottage, just
as darkness was beginning to fall, the sight he saw made his young strong heart dance with
delight. The snow that fell made but a small part of the wild, confused turmoil and uproar of
the ten-fold storm. For the wind, raving over the surface of the snow, which, as I have already
explained, lay nearly as loose as dry sand, swept it in thick fierce clouds along with it, tearing it
up and casting it down again no one could tell where — for the whole air was filled with drift,
as they call the snow when thus driven. A few hours of this would alter the face of the whole
country, leaving some parts bare, and others buried beneath heaps on heaps of snow, called
here snaw-wreaths. For the word snow-wreaths does not mean the lovely garlands hung upon
every tree and bush in its feathery fall; but awful mounds of drifted snow, that may be the
smooth, soft, white sepulchres of dead men, smothered in the lapping folds of the almost solid
wind. Path or way was none before him. He could see nothing but the surface of a sea of froth
and foam, as it appeared to him, with the spray torn from it, whirled in all shapes and
contortions, and driven in every direction; but chiefly, in the main direction of the wind, in long
sloping spires of misty whiteness, swift as arrows, and as keen upon the face of him who
dared to oppose them.
Hugh plunged into it with a wild sense of life and joy. In the course of his short walk,
however, if walk it could be called, which was one chain of plungings and emergings, struggles
with the snow, and wrestles with the wind, he felt that it needed not a stout heart only, but
sound lungs and strong limbs as well, to battle with the storm, even for such a distance. When
he reached the cottage, he found Janet in considerable anxiety, not only about David, who
had not yet returned, but about Margaret as well, whom she had not seen for some time, and
who must be out somewhere in the storm — “the wull hizzie.” Hugh suggested that she might
have gone to meet her father.
“The Lord forbid!” ejaculated Janet. “The road lies ower the tap o’ the Halshach, as eerie
and bare a place as ever was hill-moss, wi’ never a scoug or bield in’t, frae the tae side to the
tither. The win’ there jist gangs clean wud a’thegither. An’ there’s mony a well-ee forbye, that
gin ye fell intill’t, ye wud never come at the boddom o’t. The Lord preserve’s! I wis’ Dawvid
was hame.”
“How could you let him go, Janet?”
“Lat him gang, laddie! It’s a strang tow ‘at wad haud or bin’ Dawvid, whan he considers
he bud to gang, an’ ‘twere intill a deil’s byke. But I’m no that feared aboot him. I maist believe
he’s under special protection, if ever man was or oucht to be; an’ he’s no more feared at the
storm, nor gin the snaw was angels’ feathers flauchterin’ oot o’ their wings a’ aboot him. But
I’m no easy i’ my min’ aboot Maggy — the wull hizzie! Gin she be meetin’ her father, an’chance to miss him, the Lord kens what may come o’ her.”
Hugh tried to comfort her, but all that could be done was to wait David’s return. The
storm seemed to increase rather than abate its force. The footprints Hugh had made, had all
but vanished already at the very door of the house, which stood quite in the shelter of the
firwood. As they looked out, a dark figure appeared within a yard or two of the house.
“The Lord grant it be my bairn!” prayed poor Janet. But it was David, and alone. Janet
gave a shriek.
“Dawvid, whaur’s Maggie?”
“I haena seen the bairn,” replied David, in repressed perturbation. “She’s no theroot, is
she, the nicht?”
“She’s no at hame, Dawvid, that’s a’ ‘at I ken.”
“Whaur gaed she?”
“The Lord kens. She’s smoored i’ the snaw by this time.”
“She’s i’ the Lord’s han’s, Janet, be she aneath a snaw-vraith. Dinna forget that, wuman.
Hoo lang is’t sin’ ye missed her?”
“An hour an’ mair — I dinna ken hoo lang. I’m clean doitit wi’ dreid.”
“I’ll awa’ an’ leuk for her. Just haud the hert in her till I come back, Mr. Sutherlan’.”
“I won’t be left behind, David. I’m going with you.”
“Ye dinna ken what ye’re sayin’, Mr. Sutherlan’. I wad sune hae twa o’ ye to seek in place
o’ ane.”
“Never heed me; I’m going on my own account, come what may.”
“Weel, weel; I downa bide to differ. I’m gaein up the burn-side; baud ye ower to the farm,
and spier gin onybody’s seen her; an’ the lads ‘ll be out to leuk for her in a jiffey. My puir
The sigh that must have accompanied the last words, was lost in the wind, as they
vanished in the darkness. Janet fell on her knees in the kitchen, with the door wide open, and
the wind drifting in the powdery snow, and scattering it with the ashes from the hearth over
the floor. A picture of more thorough desolation can hardly be imagined. She soon came to
herself, however; and reflecting that, if the lost child was found, there must be a warm bed to
receive her, else she might be a second time lost, she rose and shut the door, and mended
the fire. It was as if the dumb attitude of her prayer was answered; for though she had never
spoken or even thought a word, strength was restored to her distracted brain. When she had
made every preparation she could think of, she went to the door again, opened it, and looked
out. It was a region of howling darkness, tossed about by pale snow-drifts; out of which it
seemed scarce more hopeful that welcome faces would emerge, than that they should return
to our eyes from the vast unknown in which they vanish at last. She closed the door once
more, and knowing nothing else to be done, sat down on a chair, with her hands on her
knees, and her eyes fixed on the door. The clock went on with its slow swing, tic — tac, tic —
tac, an utterly inhuman time-measurer; but she heard the sound of every second, through the
midst of the uproar in the fir-trees, which bent their tall heads hissing to the blast, and
swinging about in the agony of their strife. The minutes went by, till an hour was gone, and
there was neither sound nor hearing, but of the storm and the clock. Still she sat and stared,
her eyes fixed on the door-latch. Suddenly, without warning it was lifted, and the door opened.
Her heart bounded and fluttered like a startled bird; but alas! the first words she heard were:
“Is she no come yet?” It was her husband, followed by several of the farm servants. He had
made a circuit to the farm, and finding that Hugh had never been there, hoped, though with
trembling, that Margaret had already returned home. The question fell upon Janet’s heart like
the sound of the earth on the coffin-lid, and her silent stare was the only answer David
But at that very moment, like a dead man burst from the tomb, entered from behind the
party at the open door, silent and white, with rigid features and fixed eyes, Hugh. He stumbledin, leaning forward with long strides, and dragging something behind him. He pushed and
staggered through them as if he saw nothing before him; and as they parted horror-stricken,
they saw that it was Margaret, or her dead body, that he dragged after him. He dropped her
at her mother’s feet, and fell himself on the floor, before they were able to give him any
support. David, who was quite calm, got the whisky bottle out, and tried to administer some to
Margaret first; but her teeth were firmly set, and to all appearance she was dead. One of the
young men succeeded better with Hugh, whom at David’s direction they took into the study;
while he and Janet got Margaret undressed and put to bed, with hot bottles all about her; for
in warmth lay the only hope of restoring her. After she had lain thus for a while, she gave a
sigh; and when they had succeeded in getting her to swallow some warm milk, she began to
breathe, and soon seemed to be only fast asleep. After half an hour’s rest and warming, Hugh
was able to move and speak. David would not allow him to say much, however, but got him to
bed, sending word to the house that he could not go home that night. He and Janet sat by the
fireside all night, listening to the storm that still raved without, and thanking God for both of the
lives. Every few minutes a tip-toe excursion was made to the bedside, and now and then to
the other room. Both the patients slept quietly. Towards morning Margaret opened her eyes,
and faintly called her mother; but soon fell asleep once more, and did not awake again till
nearly noon. When sufficiently restored to be able to speak, the account she gave was, that
she had set out to meet her father; but the storm increasing, she had thought it more prudent
to turn. It grew in violence, however, so rapidly, and beat so directly in her face, that she was
soon exhausted with struggling, and benumbed with the cold. The last thing she remembered
was, dropping, as she thought, into a hole, and feeling as if she were going to sleep in bed,
yet knowing it was death; and thinking how much sweeter it was than sleep. Hugh’s account
was very strange and defective, but he was never able to add anything to it. He said that,
when he rushed out into the dark, the storm seized him like a fury, beating him about the
head and face with icy wings, till he was almost stunned. He took the road to the farm, which
lay through the fir-wood; but he soon became aware that he had lost his way and might tramp
about in the fir-wood till daylight, if he lived as long. Then, thinking of Margaret, he lost his
presence of mind, and rushed wildly along. He thought he must have knocked his head
against the trunk of a tree, but he could not tell; for he remembered nothing more but that he
found himself dragging Margaret, with his arms round her, through the snow, and nearing the
light in the cottage-window. Where or how he had found her, or what the light was that he was
approaching, he had not the least idea. He had only a vague notion that he was rescuing
Margaret from something dreadful. Margaret, for her part, had no recollection of reaching the
fir-wood, and as, long before morning, all traces were obliterated, the facts remained a
mystery. Janet thought that David had some wonderful persuasion about it; but he was never
heard even to speculate on the subject. Certain it was, that Hugh had saved Margaret’s life.
He seemed quite well next day, for he was of a very powerful and enduring frame for his
years. She recovered more slowly, and perhaps never altogether overcame the effects of
Death’s embrace that night. From the moment when Margaret was brought home, the storm
gradually died away, and by the morning all was still; but many starry and moonlit nights
glimmered and passed, before that snow was melted away from the earth; and many a night
Janet awoke from her sleep with a cry, thinking she heard her daughter moaning, deep in the
smooth ocean of snow, and could not find where she lay.
The occurrences of this dreadful night could not lessen the interest his cottage friends
felt in Hugh; and a long winter passed with daily and lengthening communion both in study and
in general conversation. I fear some of my younger readers will think my story slow; and say:
“What! are they not going to fall in love with each other yet? We have been expecting it ever
so long.” I have two answers to make to this. The first is: “I do not pretend to know so much
about love as you — excuse me — think you do; and must confess, I do not know whether
they were in love with each other or not.” The second is: “That I dare not pretend tounderstand thoroughly such a sacred mystery as the heart of Margaret; and I should feel it
rather worse than presumptuous to talk as if I did. Even Hugh’s is known to me only by
gleams of light thrown, now and then, and here and there, upon it.” Perhaps the two answers
are only the same answer in different shapes.
Mrs. Glasford, however, would easily answer the question, if an answer is all that is
wanted; for she, notwithstanding the facts of the story, which she could not fail to have heard
correctly from the best authority, and notwithstanding the nature of the night, which might
have seemed sufficient to overthrow her conclusions, uniformly remarked, as often as their
escape was alluded to in her hearing,
“Lat them tak’ it They had no business to be oot aboot thegither.”
Chapter 15 — Transition

Tell me, bright boy, tell me, my golden lad,
Whither away so frolic? Why so glad?
What all thy wealth in council? all thy state?
Are husks so dear? troth, ‘tis a mighty rate.
—Richard Crashaw.

The long Scotch winter passed by without any interruption to the growing friendship. But
the spring brought a change; and Hugh was separated from his friends sooner than he had
anticipated, by more than six months. For his mother wrote to him in great distress, in
consequence of a claim made upon her for some debt which his father had contracted, very
probably for Hugh’s own sake. Hugh could not bear that any such should remain
undischarged, or that his father’s name should not rest in peace as well as his body and soul.
He requested, therefore, from the laird, the amount due to him, and despatched almost the
whole of it for the liquidation of this debt, so that he was now as unprovided as before for the
expenses of the coming winter at Aberdeen. But, about the same time, a fellow-student wrote
to him with news of a situation for the summer, worth three times as much as his present one,
and to be procured through his friend’s interest. Hugh having engaged himself to the laird only
for the winter, although he had intended to stay till the commencement of the following
session, felt that, although he would much rather remain where he was, he must not hesitate
a moment to accept his friend’s offer; and therefore wrote at once.
I will not attempt to describe the parting. It was very quiet, but very solemn and sad.
Janet showed far more distress than Margaret, for she wept outright. The tears stood in
David’s eyes, as he grasped the youth’s hand in silence. Margaret was very pale; that was all.
As soon as Hugh disappeared with her father, who was going to walk with him to the village
through which the coach passed, she hurried away, and went to the fir-wood for comfort.
Hugh found his new situation in Perthshire very different from the last. The heads of the
family being themselves a lady and a gentleman, he found himself a gentleman too. He had
more to do, but his work left him plenty of leisure notwithstanding. A good portion of his spare
time he devoted to verse-making, to which he felt a growing impulse; and whatever may have
been the merit of his compositions, they did him intellectual good at least, if it were only
through the process of their construction. He wrote to David after his arrival, telling him all
about his new situation; and received in return a letter from Margaret, written at her father’s
dictation. The mechanical part of letter-writing was rather laborious to David; but Margaret
wrote well, in consequence of the number of papers, of one sort and another, which she had
written for Hugh. Three or four letters more passed between them at lengthening intervals.
Then they ceased — on Hugh’s side first; until, when on the point of leaving for Aberdeen,
feeling somewhat conscience-stricken at not having written for so long, he scribbled a note to
inform them of his approaching departure, promising to let them know his address as soon as
he found himself settled. Will it be believed that the session went by without the redemption of
this pledge? Surely he could not have felt, to any approximate degree, the amount of
obligation he was under to his humble friends. Perhaps, indeed, he may have thought that the
obligation was principally on their side; as it would have been, if intellectual assistance could
outweigh heart-kindness, and spiritual impulse and enlightenment; for, unconsciously in a
great measure to himself, he had learned from David to regard in a new and more real
aspect, many of those truths which he had hitherto received as true, and which yet had till
then produced in him no other than a feeling of the common-place and uninteresting at the
Besides this, and many cognate advantages, a thousand seeds of truth must have surelyremained in his mind, dropped there from the same tongue of wisdom, and only waiting the
friendly aid of a hard winter, breaking up the cold, selfish clods of clay, to share in the
loveliness of a new spring, and be perfected in the beauty of a new summer.
However this may have been, it is certain that he forgot his old friends far more than he
himself could have thought it possible he should; for, to make the best of it, youth is easily
attracted and filled with the present show, and easily forgets that which, from distance in time
or space, has no show to show. Spending his evenings in the midst of merry faces, and ready
tongues fluent with the tones of jollity, if not always of wit, which glided sometimes into no too
earnest discussion of the difficult subjects occupying their student hours; surrounded by the
vapours of whisky-toddy, and the smoke of cutty pipes, till far into the short hours; then
hurrying home, and lapsing into unrefreshing slumbers over intended study; or sitting up all
night to prepare the tasks which had been neglected for a ball or an evening with Wilson, the
great interpreter of Scottish song — it is hardly to be wondered at that he should lose the finer
consciousness of higher powers and deeper feelings, not from any behaviour in itself wrong,
but from the hurry, noise, and tumult in the streets of life, that, penetrating too deep into the
house of life, dazed and stupefied the silent and lonely watcher in the chamber of conscience,
far apart. He had no time to think or feel.
The session drew to a close. He eschewed all idleness; shut himself up, after class
hours, with his books; ate little, studied hard, slept irregularly, working always best between
midnight and two in the morning; carried the first honours in most of his classes; and at length
breathed freely, but with a dizzy brain, and a face that revealed, in pale cheeks, and red,
weary eyes, the results of an excess of mental labour — an excess which is as injurious as
any other kind of intemperance, the moral degradation alone kept out of view. Proud of his
success, he sat down and wrote a short note, with a simple statement of it, to David; hoping,
in his secret mind, that he would attribute his previous silence to an absorption in study which
had not existed before the end of the session was quite at hand. Now that he had more time
for reflection, he could not bear the idea that that noble rustic face should look disapprovingly
or, still worse, coldly upon him; and he could not help feeling as if the old ploughman had
taken the place of his father, as the only man of whom he must stand in awe, and who had a
right to reprove him. He did reprove him now, though unintentionally. For David was delighted
at having such good news from him; and the uneasiness which he had felt, but never quite
expressed, was almost swept away in the conclusion, that it was unreasonable to expect the
young man to give his time to them both absent and present, especially when he had been
occupied to such good purpose as this letter signified. So he was nearly at peace about him
— though not quite. Hugh received from him the following letter in reply to his; dictated, as
usual, to his secretary, Margaret: —

My dear Sir,
Ye’ll be a great man some day, gin ye haud at it. But things maunna be gotten
at the outlay o’ mair than they’re worth. Ye’ll ken what I mean. An’ there’s better
things nor bein’ a great man, efter a’. Forgie the liberty I tak’ in remin’in’ ye o’ sic
like. I’m only remin’in’ ye o’ what ye ken weel aneuch. But ye’re a brave lad, an’ ye
hae been an unco frien’ to me an’ mine; an’ I pray the Lord to thank ye for me, for
ye hae dune muckle guid to his bairns — meanin’ me an’ mine. It’s verra kin’ o’ ye
to vrite till’s in the verra moment o’ victory; but weel ye kent that amid a’ yer frien’s
— an’ ye canna fail to hae mony a ane, wi’ a head an’ a face like yours — there was
na ane — na, no ane, that wad rejoice mair ower your success than Janet, or my
doo, Maggie, or yer ain auld obleeged frien’ an’ servant,
David Elginbrod.
P.S. — We’re a’ weel, an’ unco blythe at your letter.
Maggy —
P.S. 2. — Dear Mr. Sutherland, — I wrote all the above at my father’s
dictation, and just as he said it, for I thought you would like his Scotch better than
my English. My mother and I myself are rejoiced at the good news. My mother fairly
grat outright. I gaed out to the tree where I met you first. I wonder sair sometimes if
you was the angel I was to meet in the fir-wood. I am,
Your obedient servant,
Margaret Elginbrod.

This letter certainly touched Hugh. But he could not help feeling rather offended that
David should write to him in such a warning tone. He had never addressed him in this fashion
when he saw him every day. Indeed, David could not very easily have spoken to him thus. But
writing is a different thing; and men who are not much accustomed to use a pen, often
assume a more solemn tone in doing so, as if it were a ceremony that required state. As for
David, having been a little uneasy about Hugh, and not much afraid of offending him — for he
did not know his weaknesses very thoroughly, and did not take into account the effect of the
very falling away which he dreaded, in increasing in him pride, and that impatience of the
gentlest reproof natural to every man — he felt considerably relieved after he had discharged
his duty in this memento vivere. But one of the results, and a very unexpected one, was, that
a yet longer period elapsed before Hugh wrote again to David. He meant to do so, and meant
to do so; but, as often as the thought occurred to him, was checked both by consciousness
and by pride. So much contributes, not the evil alone that is in us, but the good also
sometimes, to hold us back from doing the thing we ought to do.
It now remained for Hugh to look about for some occupation. The state of his funds
rendered immediate employment absolutely necessary; and as there was only one way in
which he could earn money without yet further preparation, he must betake himself to that
way, as he had done before, in the hope that it would lead to something better. At all events, it
would give him time to look about him, and make up his mind for the future. Many a one, to
whom the occupation of a tutor is far more irksome than it was to Hugh, is compelled to turn
his acquirements to this immediate account; and, once going in this groove, can never get out
of it again. But Hugh was hopeful enough to think, that his reputation at the university would
stand him in some stead; and, however much he would have disliked the thought of being a
tutor all his days, occupying a kind of neutral territory between the position of a gentleman and
that of a menial, he had enough of strong Saxon good sense to prevent him, despite his
Highland pride, from seeing any great hardship in labouring still for a little while, as he had
laboured hitherto. But he hoped to find a situation more desirable than either of those he had
occupied before; and, with this expectation, looked towards the South, as most Scotchmen
do, indulging the national impulse to spoil the Egyptians. Nor did he look long, sending his
tentacles afloat in every direction, before he heard, through means of a college friend, of just
such a situation as he wanted, in the family of a gentleman of fortune in the county of Surrey,
not much more than twenty miles from London. This he was fortunate enough to obtain
without difficulty.
Margaret was likewise on the eve of a change. She stood like a young fledged bird on
the edge of the nest, ready to take its first long flight. It was necessary that she should do
something for herself, not so much from the compulsion of immediate circumstances, as in
prospect of the future. Her father was not an old man, but at best he could leave only a trifle
at his death; and if Janet outlived him, she would probably require all that, and what labour
she would then be capable of as well, to support herself. Margaret was anxious, too, though
not to be independent, yet, not to be burdensome. Both David and Janet saw that, by her
peculiar tastes and habits, she had separated herself so far from the circle around her, that
she could never hope to be quite comfortable in that neighbourhood. It was not that by anymeans she despised or refused the labours common to the young women of the country; but,
all things considered, they thought that something more suitable for her might be procured.
The laird’s lady continued to behave to her in the most supercilious fashion. The very day
of Hugh’s departure, she had chanced to meet Margaret walking alone with a book, this time
unopened, in her hand. Mrs. Glasford stopped. Margaret stopped too, expecting to be
addressed. The lady looked at her, all over, from head to foot, as if critically examining the
appearance of an animal she thought of purchasing; then, without a word, but with a
contemptuous toss of the head, passed on, leaving poor Margaret both angry and ashamed.
But David was much respected by the gentry of the neighbourhood, with whom his
position, as the laird’s steward, brought him not unfrequently into contact; and to several of
them he mentioned his desire of finding some situation for Margaret. Janet could not bear the
idea of her lady-bairn leaving them, to encounter the world alone; but David, though he could
not help sometimes feeling a similar pang, was able to take to himself hearty comfort from the
thought, that if there was any safety for her in her father’s house, there could not be less in
her heavenly Father’s, in any nook of which she was as full in His eye, and as near His heart,
as in their own cottage. He felt that anxiety in this case, as in every other, would just be a lack
of confidence in God, to suppose which justifiable would be equivalent to saying that He had
not fixed the foundations of the earth that it should not be moved; that He was not the Lord of
Life, nor the Father of His children; in short, that a sparrow could fall to the ground without
Him, and that the hairs of our head are not numbered. Janet admitted all this, but sighed
nevertheless. So did David too, at times; for he knew that the sparrow must fall; that many a
divine truth is hard to learn, all-blessed as it is when learned; and that sorrow and suffering
must come to Margaret, ere she could be fashioned into the perfection of a child of the
kingdom. Still, she was as safe abroad as at home.
An elderly lady of fortune was on a visit to one of the families in the neighbourhood. She
was in want of a lady’s-maid, and it occurred to the housekeeper that Margaret might suit her.
This was not quite what her parents would have chosen, but they allowed her to go and see
the lady. Margaret was delighted with the benevolent-looking gentlewoman; and she, on her
part, was quite charmed with Margaret. It was true she knew nothing of the duties of the
office; but the present maid, who was leaving on the best of terms, would soon initiate her into
its mysteries. And David and Janet were so much pleased with Margaret’s account of the
interview, that David himself went to see the lady. The sight of him only increased her desire
to have Margaret, whom she said she would treat like a daughter, if only she were half as
good as she looked. Before David left her, the matter was arranged; and within a month,
Margaret was borne in her mistress’s carriage, away from father and mother and
Book 2 — Arnstead

The earth hath bubbles as the water has.
—Macbeth, I.3
Chapter 1 — A New Home

A wise man’s home is whereso’er he’s wise.
—John Marston, Antonio’s Revenge.

Hugh left the North dead in the arms of grey winter, and found his new abode already
alive in the breath of the west wind. As he walked up the avenue to the house, he felt that the
buds were breaking all about, though, the night being dark and cloudy, the green shadows of
the coming spring were invisible.
He was received at the hall-door, and shown to his room, by an old, apparently
confidential, and certainly important butler; whose importance, however, was inoffensive, as
founded, to all appearance, on a sense of family and not of personal dignity. Refreshment was
then brought him, with the message that, as it was late, Mr. Arnold would defer the pleasure
of meeting him till the morning at breakfast.
Left to himself, Hugh began to look around him. Everything suggested a contrast
between his present position and that which he had first occupied about the same time of the
year at Turriepuffit. He was in an old handsome room of dark wainscot, furnished like a library,
with book-cases about the walls. One of them, with glass doors, had an ancient escritoire
underneath, which was open, and evidently left empty for his use. A fire was burning
cheerfully in an old high grate; but its light, though assisted by that of two wax candles on the
table, failed to show the outlines of the room, it was so large and dark. The ceiling was rather
low in proportion, and a huge beam crossed it. At one end, an open door revealed a room
beyond, likewise lighted with fire and candles. Entering, he found this to be an equally
oldfashioned bedroom, to which his luggage had been already conveyed.
“As far as creature comforts go,” thought Hugh, “I have fallen on my feet.” He rang the
bell, had the tray removed, and then proceeded to examine the book-cases. He found them to
contain much of the literature with which he was most desirous of making an acquaintance. A
few books of the day were interspersed. The sense of having good companions in the authors
around him, added greatly to his feeling of comfort; and he retired for the night filled with
pleasant anticipations of his sojourn at Arnstead. All the night, however, his dreams were of
wind and snow, and Margaret out in them alone. Janet was waiting in the cottage for him to
bring her home. He had found her, but could not move her; for the spirit of the storm had
frozen her to ice, and she was heavy as a marble statue.
When he awoke, the shadows of boughs and budding twigs were waving in changeful
network-tracery, across the bright sunshine on his window-curtains. Before he was called he
was ready to go down; and to amuse himself till breakfast-time, he proceeded to make
another survey of the books. He concluded that these must be a colony from the
motherlibrary; and also that the room must, notwithstanding, be intended for his especial occupation,
seeing his bedroom opened out of it. Next, he looked from all the windows, to discover into
what kind of a furrow on the face of the old earth he had fallen. All he could see was trees and
trees. But oh! how different from the sombre, dark, changeless fir-wood at Turriepuffit! whose
trees looked small and shrunken in his memory, beside this glory of boughs, breaking out into
their prophecy of an infinite greenery at hand. His rooms seemed to occupy the end of a small
wing at the back of the house, as well as he could judge. His sitting-room windows looked
across a small space to another wing; and the windows of his bedroom, which were at
rightangles to those of the former, looked full into what seemed an ordered ancient forest of
gracious trees of all kinds, coming almost close to the very windows. They were the trees
which had been throwing their shadows on these windows for two or three hours of the silent
spring sunlight, at once so liquid and so dazzling. Then he resolved to test his faculty for
discovery, by seeing whether he could find his way to the breakfast-room without a guide. Inthis he would have succeeded without much difficulty, for it opened from the main-entrance
hall, to which the huge square-turned oak staircase, by which he had ascended, led; had it not
been for the somewhat intricate nature of the passages leading from the wing in which his
rooms were (evidently an older and more retired portion of the house) to the main staircase
itself. After opening many doors and finding no thoroughfare, he became convinced that, in
place of finding a way on, he had lost the way back. At length he came to a small stair, which
led him down to a single door. This he opened, and straightway found himself in the library, a
long, low, silent-looking room, every foot of the walls of which was occupied with books in
varied and rich bindings. The lozenge-paned windows, with thick stone mullions, were much
overgrown with ivy, throwing a cool green shadowiness into the room. One of them, however,
had been altered to a more modern taste, and opened with folding-doors upon a few steps,
descending into an old-fashioned, terraced garden. To approach this window he had to pass a
table, lying on which he saw a paper with verses on it, evidently in a woman’s hand, and
apparently just written, for the ink of the corrective scores still glittered. Just as he reached
the window, which stood open, a lady had almost gained it from the other side, coming up the
steps from the garden. She gave a slight start when she saw him, looked away, and as
instantly glanced towards him again. Then approaching him through the window, for he had
retreated to allow her to enter, she bowed with a kind of studied ease, and a slight shade of
something French in her manner. Her voice was very pleasing, almost bewitching; yet had, at
the same time, something assumed, if not affected, in the tone. All this was discoverable, or
rather spiritually palpable, in the two words she said — merely, “Mr. Sutherland?”
interrogatively. Hugh bowed, and said:
“I am very glad you have found me, for I had quite lost myself. I doubt whether I should
ever have reached the breakfast-room.”
“Come this way,” she rejoined.
As they passed the table on which the verses lay, she stopped and slipped them into a
writing-case. Leading him through a succession of handsome, evidently modern passages,
she brought him across the main hall to the breakfast-room, which looked in the opposite
direction to the library, namely, to the front of the house. She rang the bell; the urn was
brought in; and she proceeded at once to make the tea; which she did well, rising in Hugh’s
estimation thereby. Before he had time, however, to make his private remarks on her exterior,
or his conjectures on her position in the family, Mr. Arnold entered the room, with a slow,
somewhat dignified step, and a dull outlook of grey eyes from a grey head well-balanced on a
tall, rather slender frame. The lady rose, and, addressing him as uncle, bade him good
morning; a greeting which he returned cordially, with a kiss on her forehead. Then accosting
Hugh, with a manner which seemed the more polite and cold after the tone in which he had
spoken to his niece, he bade him welcome to Arnstead.
“I trust you were properly attended to last night, Mr. Sutherland? Your pupil wanted very
much to sit up till you arrived, but he is altogether too delicate, I am sorry to say, for late
hours, though he has an unfortunate preference for them himself. Jacob,” (to the man in
waiting), “is not Master Harry up yet?”
Master Harry’s entrance at that moment rendered reply unnecessary.
“Good morning, Euphra,” he said to the lady, and kissed her on the cheek.
“Good morning, dear,” was the reply, accompanied by a pretence of returning the kiss.
But she smiled with a kind of confectionary sweetness on him; and, dropping an additional
lump of sugar into his tea at the same moment, placed it for him beside herself; while he went
and shook hands with his father, and then glancing shyly up at Hugh from a pair of large dark
eyes, put his hand in his, and smiled, revealing teeth of a pearly whiteness. The lips, however,
did not contrast them sufficiently, being pale and thin, with indication of suffering in their
tremulous lines. Taking his place at table, he trifled with his breakfast; and after making
pretence of eating for a while, asked Euphra if he might go. She giving him leave, he hastenedaway.
Mr. Arnold took advantage of his retreat to explain to Hugh what he expected of him with
regard to the boy.
“How old would you take Harry to be, Mr. Sutherland?”
“I should say about twelve from his size,” replied Hugh; “but from his evident bad health,
and intelligent expression —”
“Ah! you perceive the state he is in,” interrupted Mr. Arnold, with some sadness in his
voice. “You are right; he is nearly fifteen. He has not grown half-an-inch in the last twelve
“Perhaps that is better than growing too fast,” said Hugh.
“Perhaps — perhaps; we will hope so. But I cannot help being uneasy about him. He
reads too much, and I have not yet been able to help it; for he seems miserable, and without
any object in life, if I compel him to leave his books.”
“Perhaps we can manage to get over that in a little while.”
“Besides,” Mr. Arnold went on, paying no attention to what Hugh said, “I can get him to
take no exercise. He does not even care for riding. I bought him a second pony a month ago,
and he has not been twice on its back yet.”
Hugh could not help thinking that to increase the supply was not always the best mode of
increasing the demand; and that one who would not ride the first pony, would hardly be likely
to ride the second. Mr. Arnold concluded with the words:
“I don’t want to stop the boy’s reading, but I can’t have him a milksop.”
“Will you let me manage him as I please, Mr. Arnold?” Hugh ventured to say.
Mr. Arnold looked full at him, with a very slight but quite manifest expression of surprise;
and Hugh was aware that the eyes of the lady, called by the boy Euphra, were likewise fixed
upon him penetratingly. As if he were then for the first time struck by the manly development
of Hugh’s frame, Mr. Arnold answered:
“I don’t want you to overdo it, either. You cannot make a muscular Christian of him.”
(The speaker smiled at his own imagined wit.) “The boy has talents, and I want him to use
“I will do my best for him both ways,” answered Hugh, “if you will trust me. For my part, I
think the only way is to make the operation of the intellectual tendency on the one side, reveal
to the boy himself his deficiency on the other. This once done, all will be well.”
As he said this, Hugh caught sight of a cloudy, inscrutable dissatisfaction slightly
contracting the eyebrows of the lady. Mr. Arnold, however, seemed not to be altogether
“Well,” he answered, “I have my plans; but let us see first what you can do with yours. If
they fail, perhaps you will oblige me by trying mine.”
This was said with the decisive politeness of one who is accustomed to have his own
way, and fully intends to have it — every word as articulate and deliberate as organs of
speech could make it. But he seemed at the same time somewhat impressed by Hugh, and
not unwilling to yield.
Throughout the conversation, the lady had said nothing, but had sat watching, or rather
scrutinizing, Hugh’s countenance, with a far keener and more frequent glance than, I
presume, he was at all aware of. Whether or not she was satisfied with her conclusions, she
allowed no sign to disclose; but, breakfast being over, rose and withdrew, turning, however, at
the door, and saying:
“When you please, Mr. Sutherland, I shall be glad to show you what Harry has been
doing with me; for till now I have been his only tutor.”
“Thank you,” replied Hugh; “but for some time we shall be quite independent of
schoolbooks. Perhaps we may require none at all. He can read, I presume, fairly well?”
“Reading is not only his forte but his fault,” replied Mr. Arnold; while Euphra, fixing onemore piercing look upon him, withdrew.
“Yes,” responded Hugh; “but a boy may shuffle through a book very quickly, and have no
such accurate perceptions of even the mere words, as to be able to read aloud intelligibly.”
How little this applied to Harry, Hugh was soon to learn.
“Well, you know best about these things, I daresay. I leave it to you. With such
testimonials as you have, Mr. Sutherland, I can hardly be wrong in letting you try your own
plans with him. Now, I must bid you good morning. You will, in all probability, find Harry in the
Chapter 2 — Harry’s New Horse

It is not the intention of sportive instruction that the child should be
spared effort, or delivered from it; but that thereby a passion should be
wakened in him, which shall both necessitate and facilitate the strongest
—Jean Paul, Die Unsichtbare Loge.

Hugh made no haste to find his pupil in the library; thinking it better, with such a boy, not
to pounce upon him as if he were going to educate him directly. He went to his own rooms
instead; got his books out and arranged them, — supplying thus, in a very small degree, the
scarcity of modern ones in the book-cases; then arranged his small wardrobe, looked about
him a little, and finally went to seek his pupil.
He found him in the library, as he had been given to expect, coiled up on the floor in a
corner, with his back against the book-shelves, and an old folio on his knees, which he was
reading in silence.
“Well, Harry,” said Hugh, in a half-indifferent tone, as he threw himself on a couch, “what
are you reading?”
Harry had not heard him come in. He started, and almost shuddered; then looked up,
hesitated, rose, and, as if ashamed to utter the name of the book, brought it to Hugh, opening
it at the title-page as he held it out to him. It was the old romance of Polexander. Hugh knew
nothing about it; but, glancing over some of the pages, could not help wondering that the boy
should find it interesting.
“Do you like this very much?” said he.
“Well — no. Yes, rather.”
“I think I could find you something more interesting in the book-shelves.”
“Oh! please, sir, mayn’t I read this?” pleaded Harry, with signs of distress in his pale
“Oh, yes, certainly, if you wish. But tell me why you want to read it so very much.”
“Because I have set myself to read it through.”
Hugh saw that the child was in a diseased state of mind, as well as of body.
“You should not set yourself to read anything, before you know whether it is worth
“I could not help it. I was forced to say I would.”
“To whom?”
“To myself. Mayn’t I read it?”
“Certainly,” was all Hugh’s answer; for he saw that he must not pursue the subject at
present: the boy was quite hypochondriacal. His face was keen, with that clear definition of
feature which suggests superior intellect. He was, though very small for his age, well
proportioned, except that his head and face were too large. His forehead indicated thought;
and Hugh could not doubt that, however uninteresting the books which he read might be, they
must have afforded him subjects of mental activity. But he could not help seeing as well, that
this activity, if not altered in its direction and modified in its degree, would soon destroy itself,
either by ruining his feeble constitution altogether, or, which was more to be feared, by
irremediably injuring the action of the brain. He resolved, however, to let him satisfy his
conscience by reading the book; hoping, by the introduction of other objects of thought and
feeling, to render it so distasteful, that he would be in little danger of yielding a similar pledge
again, even should the temptation return, which Hugh hoped to prevent.
“But you have read enough for the present, have you not?” said he, rising, and
approaching the book-shelves.“Yes; I have been reading since breakfast.”
“Ah! there’s a capital book. Have you ever read it — Gulliver’s Travels?”
“No. The outside looked always so uninteresting.”
“So does Polexander’s outside.”
“Yes. But I couldn’t help that one.”
“Well, come along. I will read to you.”
“Oh! thank you. That will be delightful. But must we not go to our lessons?”
“I’m going to make a lesson of this. I have been talking to your papa; and we’re going to
begin with a holiday, instead of ending with one. I must get better acquainted with you first,
Harry, before I can teach you right. We must be friends, you know.”
The boy crept close up to him, laid one thin hand on his knee, looked in his face for a
moment, and then, without a word, sat down on the couch close beside him. Before an hour
had passed, Harry was laughing heartily at Gulliver’s adventures amongst the Lilliputians.
Having arrived at this point of success, Hugh ceased reading, and began to talk to him.
“Is that lady your cousin?”
“Yes. Isn’t she beautiful?”
“I hardly know yet. I have not got used to her enough yet. What is her name?”
“Oh! such a pretty name — Euphrasia.”
“Is she the only lady in the house?”
“Yes; my mamma is dead, you know. She was ill for a long time, they say; and she died
when I was born.”
The tears came in the poor boy’s eyes. Hugh thought of his own father, and put his hand
on Harry’s shoulder. Harry laid his head on Hugh’s shoulder.
“But,” he went on, “Euphra is so kind to me! And she is so clever too! She knows
“Have you no brothers or sisters?”
“No, none. I wish I had.”
“Well, I’ll be your big brother. Only you must mind what I say to you; else I shall stop
being him. Is it a bargain?”
“Yes, to be sure!” cried Harry in delight; and, springing from the couch, he began
hopping feebly about the room on one foot, to express his pleasure.
“Well, then, that’s settled. Now, you must come and show me the horses — your ponies,
you know — and the pigs —”
“I don’t like the pigs — I don’t know where they are.”
“Well, we must find out. Perhaps I shall make some discoveries for you. Have you any
“A dog though, surely?”
“No. I had a canary, but the cat killed it, and I have never had a pet since.”
“Well, get your cap, and come out with me. I will wait for you here.”
Harry walked away — he seldom ran. He soon returned with his cap, and they sallied out
Happening to look back at the house, when a few paces from it, Hugh thought he saw
Euphra standing at the window of a back staircase. They made the round of the stables, and
the cow-house, and the poultry-yard; and even the pigs, as proposed, came in for a share of
their attention. As they approached the stye, Harry turned away his head with a look of
disgust. They were eating out of the trough.
“They make such a nasty noise!” he said.
“Yes, but just look: don’t they enjoy it?” said Hugh.
Harry looked at them. The notion of their enjoyment seemed to dawn upon him as
something quite new. He went nearer and nearer to the stye. At last a smile broke out overhis countenance.
“How tight that one curls his tail!” said he, and burst out laughing.
“How dreadfully this boy must have been mismanaged!” thought Hugh to himself. “But
there is no fear of him now, I hope.”
By this time they had been wandering about for more than an hour; and Hugh saw, by
Harry’s increased paleness, that he was getting tired.
“Here, Harry, get on my back, my boy, and have a ride. You’re tired.”
And Hugh knelt down.
Harry shrunk back.
“I shall spoil your coat with my shoes.”
“Nonsense! Rub them well on the grass there. And then get on my back directly.”
Harry did as he was bid, and found his tutor’s broad back and strong arms a very
comfortable saddle. So away they went, wandering about for a long time, in their new relation
of horse and his rider. At length they got into the middle of a long narrow avenue, quite
neglected, overgrown with weeds, and obstructed with rubbish. But the trees were fine
beeches, of great growth and considerable age. One end led far into a wood, and the other
towards the house, a small portion of which could be seen at the end, the avenue appearing
to reach close up to it.
“Don’t go down this,” said Harry.
“Well, it’s not a very good road for a horse certainly, but I think I can go it. What a
beautiful avenue! Why is it so neglected?”
“Don’t go down there, please, dear horse.”
Harry was getting wonderfully at home with Hugh already.
“Why?” asked Hugh.
“They call it the Ghost’s Walk, and I don’t much like it. It has a strange distracted look!”
“That’s a long word, and a descriptive one too,” thought Hugh; but, considering that there
would come many a better opportunity of combating the boy’s fears than now, he simply said:
“Very well, Harry,” — and proceeded to leave the avenue by the other side. But Harry was not
yet satisfied.
“Please, Mr. Sutherland, don’t go on that side, just now. Ride me back, please. It is not
safe, they say, to cross her path. She always follows any one who crosses her path.”
Hugh laughed; but again said, “Very well, my boy;” and, returning, left the avenue by the
side by which he had entered it.
“Shall we go home to luncheon now?” said Harry.
“Yes,” replied Hugh. “Could we not go by the front of the house? I should like very much
to see it.”
“Oh, certainly,” said Harry, and proceeded to direct Hugh how to go; but evidently did not
know quite to his own satisfaction. There being, however, but little foliage yet, Hugh could
discover his way pretty well. He promised himself many a delightful wander in the woody
regions in the evenings.
They managed to get round to the front of the house, not without some difficulty; and
then Hugh saw to his surprise that, although not imposing in appearance, it was in extent
more like a baronial residence than that of a simple gentleman. The front was very long,
apparently of all ages, and of all possible styles of architecture, the result being somewhat
mysterious and eminently picturesque. All kinds of windows; all kinds of projections and
recesses; a house here, joined to a hall there; here a pointed gable, the very bell on the top
overgrown and apparently choked with ivy; there a wide front with large bay windows; and
next a turret of old stone, with not a shred of ivy upon it, but crowded over with grey-green
lichens, which looked as if the stone itself had taken to growing; multitudes of roofs, of all
shapes and materials, so that one might very easily be lost amongst the chimneys and gutters
and dormer windows and pinnacles — made up the appearance of the house on the outsideto Hugh’s first inquiring glance, as he paused at a little distance with Harry on his back, and
scanned the wonderful pile before him. But as he looked at the house of Arnstead, Euphra
was looking at him with the boy on his back, from one of the smaller windows. Was she
making up her mind?
“You are as kind to me as Euphra,” said Harry, as Hugh set him down in the hall. “I’ve
enjoyed my ride very much, thank you, Mr. Sutherland. I am sure Euphra will like you very
much — she likes everybody.”
Chapter 3 — Euphrasia

…then purged with Euphrasy and Rue
The visual nerve, for he had much to see.
—Paradise Lost, b. xi.

Soft music came to mine ear. It was like the rising breeze, that
whirls, at first, the thistle’s beard; then flies, dark-shadowy, over the
grass. It was the maid of Fuärfed wild: she raised the nightly song; for
she knew that my soul was a stream, that flowed at pleasant sounds.
—Ossian, Oina-Morul.

Harry led Hugh by the hand to the dining-room, a large oak hall with Gothic windows, and
an open roof supported by richly carved woodwork, in the squares amidst which were painted
many escutcheons parted by fanciful devices. Over the high stone carving above the chimney
hung an old piece of tapestry, occupying the whole space between that and the roof. It
represented a hunting-party of ladies and gentlemen, just setting out. The table looked very
small in the centre of the room, though it would have seated twelve or fourteen. It was already
covered for luncheon; and in a minute Euphra entered and took her place without a word.
Hugh sat on one side and Harry on the other. Euphra, having helped both to soup, turned to
Harry and said, “Well, Harry, I hope you have enjoyed your first lesson.”
“Very much,” answered Harry with a smile. “I have learned pigs and horseback.”
“The boy is positively clever,” thought Hugh.
“Mr. Sutherland” — he continued, “has begun to teach me to like creatures.”
“But I thought you were very fond of your wild-beast book, Harry.”
“Oh! yes; but that was only in the book, you know. I like the stories about them, of
course. But to like pigs, you know, is quite different. They are so ugly and ill-bred. I like them
“You seem to have quite gained Harry already,” said Euphra, glancing at Hugh, and
looking away as quickly.
“We are very good friends, and shall be, I think,” replied he.
Harry looked at him affectionately, and said to him, not to Euphra, “Oh! yes, that we
shall, I am sure.” Then turning to the lady — “Do you know, Euphra, he is my big brother?”
“You must mind how you make new relations, though, Harry; for you know that would
make him my cousin.”
“Well, you will be a kind cousin to him, won’t you?”
“I will try,” replied Euphra, looking up at Hugh with a naïve expression of shyness, and
the slightest possible blush.
Hugh began to think her pretty, almost handsome. His next thought was to wonder how
old she was. But about this he could not at once make up his mind. She might be
four-andtwenty; she might be two-and-thirty. She had black, lustreless hair, and eyes to match, as far
as colour was concerned — but they could sparkle, and probably flash upon occasion; a low
forehead, but very finely developed in the faculties that dwell above the eyes; slender but very
dark eyebrows — just black arched lines in her rather sallow complexion; nose straight, and
nothing remarkable — “an excellent thing in woman,” a mouth indifferent when at rest, but
capable of a beautiful laugh. She was rather tall, and of a pretty enough figure; hands good;
feet invisible. Hugh came to these conclusions rapidly enough, now that his attention was
directed to her; for, though naturally unobservant, his perception was very acute as soon as
his attention was roused.
“Thank you,” he replied to her pretty speech. “I shall do my best to deserve it.”“I hope you will, Mr. Sutherland,” rejoined she, with another arch look. “Take some wine,
She poured out a glass of sherry, and gave it to the boy, who drank it with some
eagerness. Hugh could not approve of this, but thought it too early to interfere. Turning to
Harry, he said:
“Now, Harry, you have had rather a tiring morning. I should like you to go and lie down a
“Very well, Mr. Sutherland,” replied Harry, who seemed rather deficient in
combativeness, as well as other boyish virtues. “Shall I lie down in the library?”
“No — have a change.”
“In my bed-room?”
“No, I think not. Go to my room, and lie on the couch till I come to you.”
Harry went; and Hugh, partly for the sake of saying something, and partly to justify his
treatment of Harry, told Euphra, whose surname he did not yet know, what they had been
about all the morning, ending with some remark on the view of the house in front. She heard
the account of their proceedings with apparent indifference, replying only to the remark with
which he closed it:
“It is rather a large house, is it not, for three — I beg your pardon, for four persons to live
in, Mr. Sutherland?”
“It is, indeed; it quite bewilders me.”
“To tell the truth, I don’t quite know above the half of it myself.”
Hugh thought this rather a strange assertion, large as the house was; but she went on:
“I lost myself between the housekeeper’s room and my own, no later than last week.”
I suppose there was a particle of truth in this; and that she had taken a wrong turning in
an abstracted fit. Perhaps she did not mean it to be taken as absolutely true.
“You have not lived here long, then?”
“Not long for such a great place. A few years. I am only a poor relation.”
She accompanied this statement with another swift uplifting of the eyelids. But this time
her eyes rested for a moment on Hugh’s, with something of a pleading expression; and when
they fell, a slight sigh followed. Hugh felt that he could not quite understand her. A vague
suspicion crossed his mind that she was bewitching him, but vanished instantly. He replied to
her communication by a smile, and the remark:
“You have the more freedom, then. — Did you know Harry’s mother?” he added, after a
“No. She died when Harry was born. She was very beautiful, and, they say, very clever,
but always in extremely delicate health. Between ourselves, I doubt if there was much
sympathy — that is, if my uncle and she quite understood each other. But that is an old
A pause followed. Euphra resumed:
“As to the freedom you speak of, Mr. Sutherland, I do not quite know what to do with it. I
live here as if the place were my own, and give what orders I please. But Mr. Arnold shows
me little attention — he is so occupied with one thing and another, I hardly know what; and if
he did, perhaps I should get tired of him. So, except when we have visitors, which is not very
often, the time hangs rather heavy on my hands.”
“But you are fond of reading — and writing, too, I suspect;” Hugh ventured to say.
She gave him another of her glances, in which the apparent shyness was mingled with
something for which Hugh could not find a name. Nor did he suspect, till long after, that it was
in reality slyness, so tempered with archness, that, if discovered, it might easily pass for an
expression playfully assumed.
“Oh! yes,” she said; “one must read a book now and then; and if a verse” — again a
glance and a slight blush — “should come up from nobody knows where, one may as wellwrite it down. But, please, do not take me for a literary lady. Indeed, I make not the slightest
pretensions. I don’t know what I should do without Harry; and indeed, indeed, you must not
steal him from me, Mr. Sutherland.”
“I should be very sorry,” replied Hugh. “Let me beg you, as far as I have a right to do so,
to join us as often and as long as you please. I will go and see how he is. I am sure the boy
only wants thorough rousing, alternated with perfect repose.”
He went to his own room, where he found Harry, to his satisfaction, fast asleep on the
sofa. He took care not to wake him, but sat down beside him to read till his sleep should be
over. But, a moment after, the boy opened his eyes with a start and a shiver, and gave a
slight cry. When he saw Hugh he jumped up, and with a smile which was pitiful to see upon a
scared face, said:
“Oh! I am so glad you are there.”
“What is the matter, dear Harry?”
“I had a dreadful dream.”
“What was it?”
“I don’t know. It always comes. It is always the same. I know that. And yet I can never
remember what it is.”
Hugh soothed him as well as he could; and he needed it, for the cold drops were
standing on his forehead. When he had grown calmer, he went and fetched Gulliver, and, to
the boy’s great delight, read to him till dinner-time. Before the first bell rang, he had quite
recovered, and indeed seemed rather interested in the approach of dinner.
Dinner was an affair of some state at Arnstead. Almost immediately after the second bell
had rung, Mr. Arnold made his appearance in the drawing-room, where the others were
already waiting for him. This room had nothing of the distinctive character of the parts of the
house which Hugh had already seen. It was merely a handsome modern room, of no great
size. Mr. Arnold led Euphra to dinner, and Hugh followed with Harry.
Mr. Arnold’s manner to Hugh was the same as in the morning — studiously polite,
without the smallest approach to cordiality. He addressed him as an equal, it is true; but an
equal who could never be in the smallest danger of thinking he meant it. Hugh, who, without
having seen a great deal of the world, yet felt much the same wherever he was, took care to
give him all that he seemed to look for, as far at least as was consistent with his own
selfrespect. He soon discovered that he was one of those men, who, if you will only grant their
position, and acknowledge their authority, will allow you to have much your own way in
everything. His servants had found this out long ago, and almost everything about the house
was managed as they pleased; but as the oldest of them were respectable family servants,
nothing went very far wrong. They all, however, waited on Euphra with an assiduity that
showed she was, or could be, quite mistress when and where she pleased. Perhaps they had
found out that she had great influence with Mr. Arnold; and certainly he seemed very fond of
her indeed, after a stately fashion. She spoke to the servants with peculiar gentleness; never
said, if you please; but always, thank you. Harry never asked for anything, but always looked
to Euphra, who gave the necessary order. Hugh saw that the boy was quite dependent upon
her, seeming of himself scarcely capable of originating the simplest action. Mr. Arnold,
however, dull as he was, could not help seeing that Harry’s manner was livelier than usual,
and seemed pleased at the slight change already visible for the better. Turning to Hugh he
“Do you find Harry very much behind with his studies, Mr. Sutherland?”
“I have not yet attempted to find out,” replied Hugh.
“Not?” said Mr. Arnold, with surprise.
“No. If he be behind, I feel confident it will not be for long.”
“But,” began Mr. Arnold, pompously; and then he paused.
“You were kind enough to say, Mr. Arnold, that I might try my own plans with him first. Ihave been doing so.”
“Yes — certainly. But —”
Here Harry broke in with some animation:
“Mr. Sutherland has been my horse, carrying me about on his back all the morning —
no, not all the morning — but an hour, or an hour and a half — or was it two hours, Mr.
“I really don’t know, Harry,” answered Hugh; “I don’t think it matters much.”
Harry seemed relieved, and went on:
“He has been reading Gulliver’s Travels to me — oh, such fall! And we have been to see
the cows and the pigs; and Mr. Sutherland has been teaching me to jump. Do you know,
papa, he jumped right over the pony’s back without touching it.”
Mr. Arnold stared at the boy with lustreless eyes and hanging checks. These grew red,
as if he were going to choke. Such behaviour was quite inconsistent with the dignity of
Arnstead and its tutor, who had been recommended to him as a thorough gentleman. But for
the present he said nothing; probably because he could think of nothing to say.
“Certainly Harry seems better already,” interposed Euphra.
“I cannot help thinking Mr. Sutherland has made a good beginning.”
Mr. Arnold did not reply, but the cloud wore away from his face by degrees; and at length
he asked Hugh to take a glass of wine with him.
When Euphra rose from the table, and Harry followed her example, Hugh thought it
better to rise as well. Mr. Arnold seemed to hesitate whether or not to ask him to resume his
seat and have a glass of claret. Had he been a little wizened pedagogue, no doubt he would
have insisted on his company, sure of acquiescence from him in every sentiment he might
happen to utter. But Hugh really looked so very much like a gentleman, and stated his own
views, or adopted his own plans, with so much independence, that Mr. Arnold judged it safer
to keep him at arm’s length for a season at least, till he should thoroughly understand his
position — not that of a guest, but that of his son’s tutor, belonging to the household of
Arnstead only on approval.
On leaving the dining-room, Hugh hesitated, in his turn, whether to betake himself to his
own room, or to accompany Euphra to the drawing-room, the door of which stood open on the
opposite side of the hall, revealing a brightness and warmth, which the chill of the evening,
and the lowness of the fire in the dining-room, rendered quite enticing. But Euphra, who was
half-across the hall, seeming to divine his thoughts, turned, and said, “Are you not going to
favour us with your company, Mr. Sutherland?”
“With pleasure,” replied Hugh; but, to cover his hesitation, added, “I will be with you
presently;” and ran up stairs to his own room. “The old gentleman sits on his dignity — can
hardly be said to stand on it,” thought he, as he went. “The poor relation, as she calls herself,
treats me like a guest. She is mistress here, however; that is clear enough.”
As he descended the stairs to the drawing-room, a voice rose through the house, like the
voice of an angel. At least so thought Hugh, hearing it for the first time. It seemed to take his
breath away, as he stood for a moment on the stairs, listening. It was only Euphra singing The
Flowers of the Forest. The drawing-room door was still open, and her voice rang through the
wide lofty hall. He entered almost on tip-toe, that he might lose no thread of the fine tones. —
Had she chosen the song of Scotland out of compliment to him? — She saw him enter, but
went on without hesitating even. In the high notes, her voice had that peculiar vibratory
richness which belongs to the nightingale’s; but he could not help thinking that the low tones
were deficient both in quality and volume. The expression and execution, however, would
have made up for a thousand defects. Her very soul seemed brooding over the dead upon
Flodden field, as she sang this most wailful of melodies — this embodiment of a nation’s grief.
The song died away as if the last breath had gone with it; failing as it failed, and ceasing with
its inspiration, as if the voice that sang lived only for and in the song. A moment of intensesilence followed. Then, before Hugh had half recovered from the former, with an almost grand
dramatic recoil, as if the second sprang out of the first, like an eagle of might out of an ocean
of weeping, she burst into Scots wha hae. She might have been a new Deborah, heralding her
nation to battle. Hugh was transfixed, turned icy cold, with the excitement of his favourite song
so sung. — Was that a glance of satisfied triumph with which Euphra looked at him for a
single moment? — She sang the rest of the song as if the battle were already gained; but
looked no more at Hugh.
The excellence of her tones, and the lambent fluidity of her transitions, if I may be
allowed the phrase, were made by her art quite subservient to the expression, and owed their
chief value to the share they bore in producing it. Possibly there was a little too much of the
dramatic in her singing, but it was all in good taste; and, in a word, Hugh had never heard
such singing before. As soon as she had finished, she rose, and shut the piano.
“Do not, do not,” faltered Hugh, seeking to arrest her hand, as she closed the
“I can sing nothing after that,” she said with emotion, or perhaps excitement; for the
trembling of her voice might be attributed to either cause. “Do not ask me.”
Hugh respectfully desisted; but after a few minutes’ pause ventured to remark:
“I cannot understand how you should be able to sing Scotch songs so well. I never heard
any but Scotch women sing them, even endurably, before: your singing of them is perfect.”
“It seems to me,” said Euphra, speaking as if she would rather have remained silent,
“that a true musical penetration is independent of styles and nationalities. It can perceive, or
rather feel, and reproduce, at the same moment. If the music speaks Scotch, the musical
nature hears Scotch. It can take any shape, indeed cannot help taking any shape, presented
to it.”
Hugh was yet further astonished by this criticism from one whom he had been criticising
with so much carelessness that very day.
“You think, then,” said he, modestly, not as if he would bring her to book, but as really
seeking to learn from her, “that a true musical nature can pour itself into the mould of any
song, in entire independence of association and education?”
“Yes; in independence of any but what it may provide for itself.”
Euphrasia, however, had left one important element unrepresented in the construction of
her theory — namely, the degree of capability which a mind may possess of sympathy with
any given class of feelings. The blossom of the mind, whether it flower in poetry, music, or
any other art, must be the exponent of the nature and condition of that whose blossom it is.
No mind, therefore, incapable of sympathising with the feelings whence it springs, can
interpret the music of another. And Euphra herself was rather a remarkable instance of this
forgotten fact.
Further conversation on the subject was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Arnold, who
looked rather annoyed at finding Hugh in the drawing-room, and ordered Harry off to bed, with
some little asperity of tone. The boy rose at once, rang the bell, bade them all good night, and
went. A servant met him at the door with a candle, and accompanied him.
Thought Hugh: “Here are several things to be righted at once. The boy must not have
wine; and he must have only one dinner a-day — especially if he is ordered to bed so early. I
must make a man of him if I can.”
He made inquiries, and, with some difficulty, found out where the boy slept. During the
night he was several times in Harry’s room, and once in happy time to wake him from a
nightmare dream. The boy was so overcome with terror, that Hugh got into bed beside him
and comforted him to sleep in his arms. Nor did he leave him till it was time to get up, when
he stole back to his own quarters, which, happily, were at no very great distance.
I may mention here, that it was not long before Hugh succeeded in stopping the wine,
and reducing the dinner to a mouthful of supper. Harry, as far as he was concerned, yieldedat once; and his father only held out long enough to satisfy his own sense of dignity.
Chapter 4 — The Cave in the Straw

All knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an
impression of pleasure in itself.
—Lord Bacon, Advancement of Learning.

The following morning dawned in a cloud; which, swathed about the trees, wetted them
down to the roots, without having time to become rain. They drank it in like sorrow, the only
material out of which true joy can be fashioned. This cloud of mist would yet glimmer in a new
heaven, namely, in the cloud of blooms which would clothe the limes and the chestnuts and
the beeches along the ghost’s walk. But there was gloomy weather within doors as well; for
poor Harry was especially sensitive to variations of the barometer, without being in the least
aware of the fact himself. Again Hugh found him in the library, seated in his usual corner, with
Polexander on his knees. He half dropped the book when Hugh entered, and murmured with a
“It’s no use; I can’t read it.”
“What’s the matter, Harry?” said his tutor.
“I should like to tell you, but you will laugh at me.”
“I shall never laugh at you, Harry.”
“No, never.”
“Then tell me how I can be sure that I have read this book.”
“I do not quite understand you.”
“All! I was sure nobody could be so stupid as I am. Do you know, Mr. Sutherland, I seem
to have read a page from top to bottom sometimes, and when I come to the bottom I know
nothing about it, and doubt whether I have read it at all; and then I stare at it all over again, till
I grow so queer, and sometimes nearly scream. You see I must be able to say I have read
the book.”
“Why? Nobody will ever ask you.”
“Perhaps not; but you know that is nothing. I want to know that I have read the book —
really and truly read it.”
Hugh thought for a moment, and seemed to see that the boy, not being strong enough to
be a law to himself, just needed a benign law from without, to lift him from the chaos of feeble
and conflicting notions and impulses within, which generated a false law of slavery. So he
“Harry, am I your big brother?”
“Yes, Mr. Sutherland.”
“Then, ought you to do what I wish, or what you wish yourself?”
“What you wish, sir.”
“Then I want you to put away that book for a month at least.”
“Oh, Mr. Sutherland! I promised.”
“To whom?”
“To myself.” “But I am above you; and I want you to do as I tell you. Will you, Harry?”
“Put away the book, then.”
Harry sprang to his feet, put the book on its shelf, and, going up to Hugh, said,
“You have done it, not me.”
“Certainly, Harry.”
The notions of a hypochondriacal child will hardly be interesting to the greater part of my
readers; but Hugh learned from this a little lesson about divine law which he never forgot.“Now, Harry,” added he, “you must not open a book till I allow you.”
“No poetry, either?” said poor Harry; and his face fell.
“I don’t mind poetry so much; but of prose I will read as much to you as will be good for
you. Come, let us have a bit of Gulliver again.”
“Oh, how delightful!” cried Harry. “I am so glad you made me put away that tiresome
book. I wonder why it insisted so on being read.”
Hugh read for an hour, and then made Harry put on his cloak, notwithstanding the rain,
which fell in a slow thoughtful spring shower. Taking the boy again on his back, he carried him
into the woods. There he told him how the drops of wet sank into the ground, and then went
running about through it in every direction, looking for seeds: which were all thirsty little things,
that wanted to grow, and could not, till a drop came and gave them drink. And he told him how
the rain-drops were made up in the skies, and then came down, like millions of angels, to do
what they were told in the dark earth. The good drops went into all the cellars and dungeons
of the earth, to let out the imprisoned flowers. And he told him how the seeds, when they had
drunk the rain-drops, wanted another kind of drink next, which was much thinner and much
stronger, but could not do them any good till they had drunk the rain first.
“What is that?” said Harry. “I feel as if you were reading out of the Bible, Mr. Sutherland.”
“It is the sunlight,” answered his tutor. “When a seed has drunk of the water, and is not
thirsty any more, it wants to breathe next; and then the sun sends a long, small finger of fire
down into the grave where the seed is lying; and it touches the seed, and something inside
the seed begins to move instantly and to grow bigger and bigger, till it sends two green blades
out of it into the earth, and through the earth into the air; and then it can breathe. And then it
sends roots down into the earth; and the roots keep drinking water, and the leaves keep
breathing the air, and the sun keeps them alive and busy; and so a great tree grows up, and
God looks at it, and says it is good.”
“Then they really are living things?” said Harry.
“Thank you, Mr. Sutherland. I don’t think I shall dislike rain so much any more.”
Hugh took him next into the barn, where they found a great heap of straw. Recalling his
own boyish amusements, he made him put off his cloak, and help to make a tunnel into this
heap. Harry was delighted — the straw was so nice, and bright, and dry, and clean. They
drew it out by handfuls, and thus excavated a round tunnel to the distance of six feet or so;
when Hugh proceeded to more extended operations. Before it was time to go to lunch, they
had cleared half of a hollow sphere, six feet in diameter, out of the heart of the heap.
After lunch, for which Harry had been very unwilling to relinquish the straw hut, Hugh
sent him to lie down for a while; when he fell fast asleep as before. After he had left the room,
Euphra said:
“How do you get on with Harry, Mr. Sutherland?”
“Perfectly to my satisfaction,” answered Hugh.
“Do you not find him very slow?”
“Quite the contrary.”
“You surprise me. But you have not given him any lessons yet.”
“I have given him a great many, and he is learning them very fast.”
“I fear he will have forgotten all my poor labours before you take up the work where we
left it. When will you give him any book-lessons?”
“Not for a while yet.”
Euphra did not reply. Her silence seemed intended to express dissatisfaction; at least so
Hugh interpreted it.
“I hope you do not think it is to indulge myself that I manage Master Harry in this peculiar
fashion,” he said. “The fact is, he is a very peculiar child, and may turn out a genius or a
weakling, just as he is managed. At least so it appears to me at present. May I ask where youleft the work you were doing with him?”
“He was going through the Eton grammar for the third time,” answered Euphra, with a
defiant glance, almost of dislike, at Hugh. “But I need not enumerate his studies, for I daresay
you will not take them up at all after my fashion. I only assure you I have been a very exact
disciplinarian. What he knows, I think you will find he knows thoroughly.”
So saying, Euphra rose, and with a flush on her cheek, walked out of the room in a more
stately manner than usual.
Hugh felt that he had, somehow or other, offended her. But, to tell the truth, he did not
much care, for her manner had rather irritated him. He retired to his own room, wrote to his
mother, and, when Harry awoke, carried him again to the barn for an hour’s work in the straw.
Before it grew dusk, they had finished a little, silent, dark chamber, as round as they could
make it, in the heart of the straw. All the excavated material they had thrown on the top,
reserving only a little to close up the entrance when they pleased.
The next morning was still rainy; and when Hugh found Harry in the library as usual, he
saw that the clouds had again gathered over the boy’s spirit. He was pacing about the room in
a very odd manner. The carpet was divided diamond-wise in a regular pattern. Harry’s steps
were, for the most part, planted upon every third diamond, as he slowly crossed the floor in a
variety of directions; for, as on previous occasions, he had not perceived the entrance of his
tutor. But, every now and then, the boy would make the most sudden and irregular change in
his mode of progression, setting his foot on the most unexpected diamond, at one time the
nearest to him, at another the farthest within his reach. When he looked up, and saw his tutor
watching him, he neither started nor blushed: but, still retaining on his countenance the
perplexed, anxious expression which Hugh had remarked, said to him:
“How can God know on which of those diamonds I am going to set my foot next?”
“If you could understand how God knows, Harry, then you would know yourself; but
before you have made up your mind, you don’t know which you will choose; and even then
you only know on which you intend to set your foot; for you have often changed your mind
after making it up.”
Harry looked as puzzled as before.
“Why, Harry, to understand how God understands, you would need to be as wise as he
is; so it is no use trying. You see you can’t quite understand me, though I have a real meaning
in what I say.”
“Ah! I see it is no use; but I can’t bear to be puzzled.”
“But you need not be puzzled; you have no business to be puzzled. You are trying to get
into your little brain what is far too grand and beautiful to get into it. Would you not think it very
stupid to puzzle yourself how to put a hundred horses into a stable with twelve stalls?”
Harry laughed, and looked relieved.
“It is more unreasonable a thousand times to try to understand such things. For my part,
it would make me miserable to think that there was nothing but what I could understand. I
should feel as if I had no room anywhere. Shall we go to our cave again?”
“Oh! yes, please,” cried Harry; and in a moment he was on Hugh’s back once more,
cantering joyously to the barn.
After various improvements, including some enlargement of the interior, Hugh and Harry
sat down together in the low yellow twilight of their cave, to enjoy the result of their labours.
They could just see, by the light from the tunnel, the glimmer of the golden hollow all about
them. The rain was falling heavily out-of-doors; and they could hear the sound of the
multitudinous drops of the broken cataract of the heavens like the murmur of the insects in a
summer wood. They knew that everything outside was rained upon, and was again raining on
everything beneath it, while they were dry and warm.
“This is nice!” exclaimed Harry, after a few moments of silent enjoyment.
“This is your first lesson in architecture,” said Hugh.“Am I to learn architecture?” asked Harry, in a rueful tone.
“It is well to know how things came to be done, if you should know nothing more about
them, Harry. Men lived in the cellars first of all, and next on the ground floor; but they could
get no further till they joined the two, and then they could build higher.”
“I don’t quite understand you, sir.”
“I did not mean you should, Harry.”
“Then I don’t mind, sir. But I thought architecture was building.”
“So it is; and this is one way of building. It is only making an outside by pulling out an
inside, instead of making an inside by setting up an outside.”
Harry thought for a while, and then said joyfully:
“I see it, sir! I see it. The inside is the chief thing — not the outside.”
“Yes, Harry; and not in architecture only. Never forget that.”
They lay for some time in silence, listening to the rain. At length Harry spoke:
“I have been thinking of what you told me yesterday, Mr. Sutherland, about the rain
going to look for the seeds that were thirsty for it. And now I feel just as if I were a seed, lying
in its little hole in the earth, and hearing the rain-drops pattering down all about it, waiting —
oh, so thirsty! — for some kind drop to find me out, and give me itself to drink. I wonder what
kind of flower I should grow up,” added he, laughing.
“There is more truth than you think, in your pretty fancy, Harry,” rejoined Hugh, and was
silent — self-rebuked; for the memory of David came back upon him, recalled by the words of
the boy; of David, whom he loved and honoured with the best powers of his nature, and whom
yet he had neglected and seemed to forget; nay, whom he had partially forgotten — he could
not deny. The old man, whose thoughts were just those of a wise child, had said to him once:
“We ken no more, Maister Sutherlan’, what we’re growin’ till, than that neep-seed there
kens what a neep is, though a neep it will be. The only odds is, that we ken that we dinna ken,
and the neep-seed kens nothing at all aboot it. But ae thing, Maister Sutherlan’, we may be
sure o’: that, whatever it be, it will be worth God’s makin’ an’ our growin’.”
A solemn stillness fell upon Hugh’s spirit, as he recalled these words; out of which
stillness, I presume, grew the little parable which follows; though Hugh, after he had learned
far more about the things therein hinted at, could never understand how it was, that he could
have put so much more into it, than he seemed to have understood at that period of his
For Harry said:
“Wouldn’t this be a nice place for a story, Mr. Sutherland? Do you ever tell stories, sir?”
“I was just thinking of one, Harry; but it is as much yours as mine, for you sowed the
seed of the story in my mind.”
“Do you mean a story that never was in a book — a story out of your own head? Oh!
that will be grand!”
“Wait till we see what it will be, Harry; for I can’t tell you how it will turn out.”
After a little further pause, Hugh began:
“Long, long ago, two seeds lay beside each other in the earth, waiting. It was cold, and
rather wearisome; and, to beguile the time, the one found means to speak to the other.
“‘What are you going to be?’ said the one.
“‘I don’t know,’ answered the other.
“‘For me,’ rejoined the first, ‘I mean to be a rose. There is nothing like a splendid rose.
Everybody will love me then!’
“‘It’s all right,’ whispered the second; and that was all he could say; for somehow when
he had said that, he felt as if all the words in the world were used up. So they were silent
again for a day or two.
“‘Oh, dear!’ cried the first, ‘I have had some water. I never knew till it was inside me. I’m
growing! I’m growing! Good-bye!’“‘Good-bye!’ repeated the other, and lay still; and waited more than ever.
“The first grew and grew, pushing itself straight up, till at last it felt that it was in the open
air, for it could breathe. And what a delicious breath that was! It was rather cold, but so
refreshing. The flower could see nothing, for it was not quite a flower yet, only a plant; and
they never see till their eyes come, that is, till they open their blossoms — then they are
flowers quite. So it grew and grew, and kept its head up very steadily, meaning to see the sky
the first thing, and leave the earth quite behind as well as beneath it. But somehow or other,
though why it could not tell, it felt very much inclined to cry. At length it opened its eye. It was
morning, and the sky was over its head; but, alas! itself was no rose — only a tiny white
flower. It felt yet more inclined to hang down its head and to cry; but it still resisted, and tried
hard to open its eye wide, and to hold its head upright, and to look full at the sky.
“‘I will be a star of Bethlehem at least!’ said the flower to itself.
“But its head felt very heavy; and a cold wind rushed over it, and bowed it down towards
the earth. And the flower saw that the time of the singing of birds was not come, that the
snow covered the whole land, and that there was not a single flower in sight but itself. And it
half-closed its leaves in terror and the dismay of loneliness. But that instant it remembered
what the other flower used to say; and it said to itself: ‘It’s all right; I will be what I can.’ And
thereon it yielded to the wind, drooped its head to the earth, and looked no more on the sky,
but on the snow. And straightway the wind stopped, and the cold died away, and the snow
sparkled like pearls and diamonds; and the flower knew that it was the holding of its head up
that had hurt it so; for that its body came of the snow, and that its name was Snow-drop. And
so it said once more, ‘It’s all right!’ and waited in perfect peace. All the rest it needed was to
hang its head after its nature.”
“And what became of the other?” asked Harry.
“I haven’t done with this one yet,” answered Hugh. “I only told you it was waiting. One
day a pale, sad-looking girl, with thin face, large eyes, and long white hands, came, hanging
her head like the snowdrop, along the snow where the flower grew. She spied it, smiled
joyously, and saying, ‘Ah! my little sister, are you come?’ stooped and plucked the snowdrop.
It trembled and died in her hand; which was a heavenly death for a snowdrop; for had it not
cast a gleam of summer, pale as it had been itself, upon the heart of a sick girl?”
“And the other?” repeated Harry.
“The other had a long time to wait; but it did grow one of the loveliest roses ever seen.
And at last it had the highest honour ever granted to a flower: two lovers smelled it together,
and were content with it.”
Harry was silent, and so was Hugh; for he could not understand himself quite. He felt, all
the time he was speaking, is if he were listening to David, instead of talking himself. The fact
was, he was only expanding, in an imaginative soil, the living seed which David had cast into
it. There seemed to himself to be more in his parable than he had any right to invent. But is it
not so with all stories that are rightly rooted in the human?
“What a delightful story, Mr. Sutherland!” said Harry, at last. “Euphra tells me stories
sometimes; but I don’t think I ever heard one I liked so much. I wish we were meant to grow
into something, like the flower-seeds.”
“So we are, Harry.”
“Are we indeed? How delightful it would be to think that I am only a seed, Mr. Sutherland!
Do you think I might think so?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then, please, let me begin to learn something directly. I haven’t had anything
disagreeable to do since you came; and I don’t feel as if that was right.”
Poor Harry, like so many thousands of good people, had not yet learned that God is not
a hard task-master.
“I don’t intend that you should have anything disagreeable to do, if I can help it. We mustdo such things when they come to us; but we must not make them for ourselves, or for each
“Then I’m not to learn any more Latin, am I?” said Harry, in a doubtful kind of tone, as if
there were after all a little pleasure in doing what he did not like.
“Is Latin so disagreeable, Harry?”
“Yes; it is rule after rule, that has nothing in it I care for. How can anybody care for Latin?
But I am quite ready to begin, if I am only a seed — really, you know.”
“Not yet, Harry. Indeed, we shall not begin again — I won’t let you — till you ask me with
your whole heart, to let you learn Latin.”
“I am afraid that will be a long time, and Euphra will not like it.”
“I will talk to her about it. But perhaps it will not be so long as you think. Now, don’t
mention Latin to me again, till you are ready to ask me, heartily, to teach you. And don’t give
yourself any trouble about it either. You never can make yourself like anything.”
Harry was silent. They returned to the house, through the pouring rain; Harry, as usual,
mounted on his big brother.
As they crossed the hall, Mr. Arnold came in. He looked surprised and annoyed. Hugh
set Harry down, who ran upstairs to get dressed for dinner; while he himself half-stopped, and
turned towards Mr. Arnold. But Mr. Arnold did not speak, and so Hugh followed Harry.
Hugh spent all that evening, after Harry had gone to bed, in correcting his impressions of
some of the chief stories of early Roman history; of which stories he intended commencing a
little course to Harry the next day.
Meantime there was very little intercourse between Hugh and Euphra, whose surname,
somehow or other, Hugh had never inquired after. He disliked asking questions about people
to an uncommon degree, and so preferred waiting for a natural revelation. Her later behaviour
had repelled him, impressing him with the notion that she was proud, and that she had made
up her mind, notwithstanding her apparent frankness at first, to keep him at a distance. That
she was fitful, too, and incapable of showing much tenderness even to poor Harry, he had
already concluded in his private judgment-hall. Nor could he doubt that, whether from wrong
theories, incapacity, or culpable indifference, she must have taken very bad measures indeed
with her young pupil.
The next day resembled the two former; with this difference, that the rain fell in torrents.
Seated in their strawy bower, they cared for no rain. They were safe from the whole world,
and all the tempers of nature.
Then Hugh told Harry about the slow beginnings and the mighty birth of the great Roman
people. He told him tales of their battles and conquests; their strifes at home, and their wars
abroad. He told him stories of their grand men, great with the individuality of their nation and
their own. He told him their characters, their peculiar opinions and grounds of action, and the
results of their various schemes for their various ends. He told him about their love to their
country, about their poetry and their religion; their courage, and their hardihood; their
architecture, their clothes, and their armour; their customs and their laws; but all in such
language, or mostly in such language, as one boy might use in telling another of the same
age; for Hugh possessed the gift of a general simplicity of thought, one of the most valuable a
man can have. It cost him a good deal of labour (well-repaid in itself, not to speak of the
evident delight of Harry), to make himself perfectly competent for this; but he had a good
foundation of knowledge to work upon.
This went on for a long time after the period to which I am now more immediately
confined. Every time they stopped to rest from their rambles or games — as often, in fact, as
they sat down alone, Harry’s constant request was:
“Now, Mr. Sutherland, mightn’t we have something more about the Romans?”
And Mr. Sutherland gave him something more. But all this time he never uttered the
word — Latin. Chapter 5— Larch and Other Hunting

For there is neither buske nor hay
In May, that it n’ill shrouded bene,
And it with newé leavés wrene;
These woodés eke recoveren grene,
That drie in winter ben to sene,
And the erth waxeth proud withall,
For swoté dewes that on it fall,
And the poore estate forget,
In which that winter had it set:
And than becomes the ground so proude,
That it wol have a newé shroude,
And maketh so queint his robe and faire,
That it hath hewes an hundred paire,
Of grasse and floures, of Ind and Pers,
And many hewés full divers:
That is the robe I mean, ywis,
Through which the ground to praisen is.
—Chaucer’s translation of The Romaunt of the Rose.

So passed the three days of rain. After breakfast the following morning, Hugh went to
find Harry, according to custom, in the library. He was reading.
“What are you reading, Harry?” asked he.
“A poem,” said Harry; and, rising as before, he brought the book to Hugh. It was Mrs.
Hemans’s Poems.
“You are fond of poetry, Harry.”
“Yes, very.”
“Whose poems do you like best?”
“Mrs. Hemans’s, of course. Don’t you think she is the best, sir?”
“She writes very beautiful verses, Harry. Which poem are you reading now?”
“Oh! one of my favourites — The Voice of Spring.”
“Who taught you to like Mrs. Hemans?”
“Euphra, of course.”
“Will you read the poem to me?”
Harry began, and read the poem through, with much taste and evident enjoyment; an
enjoyment which seemed, however, to spring more from the music of the thought and its
embodiment in sound, than from sympathy with the forms of nature called up thereby. This
was shown by his mode of reading, in which the music was everything, and the sense little or
nothing. When he came to the line,

And the larch has hung all his tassels forth,
he smiled so delightedly, that Hugh said:
“Are you fond of the larch, Harry?”
“Yes, very.”
“Are there any about here?”
“I don’t know. What is it like?”
“You said you were fond of it.”
“Oh, yes; it is a tree with beautiful tassels, you know. I think I should like to see one. Isn’t
it a beautiful line?”“When you have finished the poem, we will go and see if we can find one anywhere in
the woods. We must know where we are in the world, Harry — what is all round about us, you
“Oh, yes,” said Harry; “let us go and hunt the larch.”
“Perhaps we shall meet Spring, if we look for her — perhaps hear her voice, too.”
“That would be delightful,” answered Harry, smiling. And away they went.
I may just mention here that Mrs. Hemans was allowed to retire gradually, till at last she
was to be found only in the more inaccessible recesses of the library-shelves; while by that
time Harry might be heard, not all over the house, certainly, but as far off as outside the
closed door of the library, reading aloud to himself one or other of Macaulay’s ballads, with an
evident enjoyment of the go in it. A story with drum and trumpet accompaniment was quite
enough, for the present, to satisfy Harry; and Macaulay could give him that, if little more.
As they went across the lawn towards the shrubbery, on their way to look for larches and
Spring, Euphra joined them in walking dress. It was a lovely morning.
“I have taken you at your word, you see, Mr. Sutherland,” said she. “I don’t want to lose
my Harry quite.”
“You dear kind Euphra!” said Harry, going round to her side and taking her hand. He did
not stay long with her, however, nor did Euphra seem particularly to want him.
“There was one thing I ought to have mentioned to you the other night, Mr. Sutherland;
and I daresay I should have mentioned it, had not Mr. Arnold interrupted our tête-à-tête. I feel
now as if I had been guilty of claiming far more than I have a right to, on the score of musical
insight. I have Scotch blood in me, and was indeed born in Scotland, though I left it before I
was a year old. My mother, Mr. Arnold’s sister, married a gentleman who was half Sootch;
and I was born while they were on a visit to his relatives, the Camerons of Lochnie. His
mother, my grandmother, was a Bohemian lady, a countess with sixteen quarterings — not a
gipsy, I beg to say.”
Hugh thought she might have been, to judge from present appearances.
But how was he to account for this torrent of genealogical information, into which the ice
of her late constraint had suddenly thawed? It was odd that she should all at once volunteer
so much about herself. Perhaps she had made up one of those minds which need making up,
every now and then, like a monthly magazine; and now was prepared to publish it. Hugh
responded with a question:
“Do I know your name, then, at last? You are Miss Cameron?”
“Euphrasia Cameron; at your service, sir.” And she dropped a gay little courtesy to Hugh,
looking up at him with a flash of her black diamonds.
“Then you must sing to me to-night.”
“With all the pleasure in gipsy-land,” replied she, with a second courtesy, lower than the
first; taking for granted, no doubt, his silent judgment on her person and complexion.
By this time they had reached the woods in a different quarter from that which Hugh had
gone through the other day with Harry. And here, in very deed, the Spring met them, with a
profusion of richness to which Hugh was quite a stranger. The ground was carpeted with
primroses, and anemones, and other spring flowers, which are the loveliest of all flowers.
They were drinking the sunlight, which fell upon them through the budded boughs. By the time
the light should be hidden from them by the leaves, which are the clouds of the lower
firmament of the woods, their need of it would be gone: exquisites in living, they cared only for
the delicate morning of the year.
“Do look at this darling, Mr. Sutherland!” exclaimed Euphrasia suddenly, as she bent at
the root of a great beech, where grew a large bush of rough leaves, with one tiny but
perfectly-formed primrose peeping out between. “Is it not a little pet? — all eyes — all one eye
staring out of its curtained bed to see what ever is going on in the world. — You had better lie
down again: it is not a nice place.”She spoke to it as if it had been a kitten or a baby. And as she spoke, she pulled the
leaves yet closer over the little starer so as to hide it quite.
As they went on, she almost obtrusively avoided stepping on the flowers, saying she
almost felt cruel, or at least rude, when she did so. Yet she trailed her dress over them in
quite a careless way, not lifting it at all. This was a peculiarity of hers, which Hugh never
understood till he understood herself.
All about in shady places, the ferns were busy untucking themselves from their
graveclothes, unrolling their mysterious coils of life, adding continually to the hidden growth as they
unfolded the visible. In this, they were like the other revelations of God the Infinite. All the wild
lovely things were coming up for their month’s life of joy. Orchis-harlequins, cuckoo-plants,
wild arums, more properly lords-and-ladies, were coming, and coming — slowly; for had they
not a long way to come, from the valley of the shadow of death into the land of life? At last the
wanderers came upon a whole company of bluebells — not what Hugh would have called
bluebells, for the bluebells of Scotland are the single-poised harebells — but wild hyacinths,
growing in a damp and shady spot, in wonderful luxuriance. They were quite three feet in
height, with long, graceful, drooping heads; hanging down from them, all along one side, the
largest and loveliest of bells — one lying close above the other, on the lower part; while they
parted thinner and thinner as they rose towards the lonely one at the top. Miss Cameron went
into ecstasies over these; not saying much, but breaking up what she did say with many
prettily passionate pauses.
She had a very happy turn for seeing external resemblances, either humorous or
pathetic; for she had much of one element that goes to the making of a poet — namely,
surface impressibility.
“Look, Harry; they are all sad at having to go down there again so soon. They are looking
at their graves so ruefully.”
Harry looked sad and rather sentimental immediately. When Hugh glanced at Miss
Cameron, he saw tears in her eyes.
“You have nothing like this in your country, have you, Mr. Sutherland?” said she, with an
apparent effort.
“No, indeed,” answered Hugh.
And he said no more. For a vision rose before him of the rugged pine-wood and the
single primrose; and of the thoughtful maiden, with unpolished speech and rough hands, and
— but this he did not see — a soul slowly refining itself to a crystalline clearness. And he
thought of the grand old grey-haired David, and of Janet with her quaint motherhood, and of
all the blessed bareness of the ancient time — in sunlight and in snow; and he felt again that
he had forgotten and forsaken his friends.
“How the fairies will be ringing the bells in these airy steeples in the moonlight!” said Miss
Cameron to Harry, who was surprised and delighted with it all. He could not help wondering,
however, after he went to bed that night, that Euphra had never before taken him to see
these beautiful things, and had never before said anything half so pretty to him, as the least
pretty thing she had said about the flowers that morning when they were out with Mr.
Sutherland. Had Mr. Sutherland anything to do with it? Was he giving Euphra a lesson in
flowers such as he had given him in pigs?
Miss Cameron presently drew Hugh into conversation again, and the old times were once
more forgotten for a season. They were worthy of distinguishing note — that trio in those
spring woods: the boy waking up to feel that flowers and buds were lovelier in the woods than
in verses; Euphra finding everything about her sentimentally useful, and really delighting in the
prettinesses they suggested to her; and Hugh regarding the whole chiefly as a material and
means for reproducing in verse such impressions of delight as he had received and still
received from all (but the highest) poetry about nature. The presence of Harry and his
necessities was certainly a saving influence upon Hugh; but, however much he sought torealize Harry’s life, he himself, at this period of his history, enjoyed everything artistically far
more than humanly.
Margaret would have walked through all this infant summer without speaking at all, but
with a deep light far back in her quiet eyes. Perhaps she would not have had many thoughts
about the flowers. Rather she would have thought the very flowers themselves; would have
been at home with them, in a delighted oneness with their life and expression. Certainly she
would have walked through them with reverence, and would not have petted or patronised
nature by saying pretty things about her children. Their life would have entered into her, and
she would have hardly known it from her own. I daresay Miss Cameron would have called a
mountain a darling or a beauty. But there are other ways of showing affection than by patting
and petting — though Margaret, for her part, would have needed no art-expression, because
she had the things themselves. It is not always those who utter best who feel most; and the
dumb poets are sometimes dumb because it would need the “large utterance of the early
gods” to carry their thoughts through the gates of speech.
But the fancy and skin-sympathy of Miss Cameron began already to tell upon Hugh. He
knew very little of women, and had never heard a woman talk as she talked. He did not know
how cheap this accomplishment is, and took it for sensibility, imaginativeness, and even
originality. He thought she was far more en rapport with nature than he was. It was much
easier to make this mistake after hearing the really delightful way in which she sang. Certainly
she could not have sung so, perhaps not even have talked so, except she had been capable
of more; but to be capable of more, and to be able for more, are two very distinct conditions.
Many walks followed this, extending themselves farther and farther from home, as
Harry’s strength gradually improved. It was quite remarkable how his interest in everything
external increased, in exact proportion as he learned to see into the inside or life of it. With
most children, the interest in the external comes first, and with many ceases there. But it is in
reality only a shallower form of the deeper sympathy; and in those cases where it does lead to
a desire after the hidden nature of things, it is perhaps the better beginning of the two. In such
exceptional cases as Harry’s, it is of unspeakable importance that both the difference and the
identity should be recognized; and in doing so, Hugh became to Harry his big brother indeed,
for he led him where he could not go alone.
As often as Mr. Arnold was from home, which happened not unfrequently, Miss Cameron
accompanied them in their rambles. She gave as her reason for doing so only on such
occasions, that she never liked to be out of the way when her uncle might want her. Traces of
an inclination to quarrel with Hugh, or even to stand upon her dignity, had all but vanished;
and as her vivacity never failed her, as her intellect was always active, and as by the exercise
of her will she could enter sympathetically, or appear to enter, into everything, her presence
was not in the least a restraint upon them.
On one occasion, when Harry had actually run a little way after a butterfly, Hugh said to
“What did you mean, Miss Cameron, by saying you were only a poor relation? You are
certainly mistress of the house.”
“On sufferance, yes. But I am only a poor relation. I have no fortune of my own.”
“But Mr. Arnold does not treat you as such.”
“Oh! no. He likes me. He is very kind to me. — He gave me this ring on my last birthday.
Is it not a beauty?”
She pulled off her glove and showed a very fine diamond on a finger worthy of the
“It is more like a gentleman’s, is it not?” she added, drawing it off. “Let me see how it
would look on your hand.”
She gave the ring to Hugh; who, laughing, got it with some difficulty just over the first
joint of his little finger, and held it up for Euphra to see.“Ah! I see I cannot ask you to wear it for me,” said she. “I don’t like it myself. I am afraid,
however,” she added, with an arch look, “my uncle would not like it either — on your finger.
Put it on mine again.”
Holding her hand towards Hugh, she continued:
“It must not be promoted just yet. Besides, I see you have a still better one of your own.”
As Hugh did according to her request, the words sprang to his lips, “There are other
ways of wearing a ring than on the finger.” But they did not cross the threshold of speech.
Was it the repression of them that caused that strange flutter and slight pain at the heart,
which he could not quite understand?
Chapter 6 — Fatima

Those lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said, “I hate,”
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that, ever sweet,
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
“I hate” she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who, like a fiend,
From heaven to hell is flown away.
“I hate” from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying — “Not you.”

Mr. Arnold was busy at home for a few days after this, and Hugh and Harry had to go
out alone. One day, when the wind was rather cold, they took refuge in the barn; for it was
part of Hugh’s especial care that Harry should be rendered hardy, by never being exposed to
more than he could bear without a sense of suffering. As soon as the boy began to feel
fatigue, or cold, or any other discomfort, his tutor took measures accordingly.
Harry would have crept into the straw-house; but Hugh said, pulling a book out of his
“I have a poem here for you, Harry. I want to read it to you now; and we can’t see in
They threw themselves down on the straw, and Hugh, opening a volume of Robert
Browning’s Poems, read the famous ride from Ghent to Aix. He knew the poem well, and read
it well. Harry was in raptures.
“I wish I could read that as you do,” said he.
“Try,” said Hugh.
Harry tried the first verse, and threw the book down in disgust with himself.
“Why cannot I read it?” said he.
“Because you can’t ride.”
“I could ride, if I had such a horse as that to ride upon.”
“But you could never have such a horse as that except you could ride, and ride well, first.
After that, there is no saying but you might get one. You might, in fact, train one for yourself
— till from being a little foal it became your own wonderful horse.”
“Oh! that would be delightful! Will you teach me horses as well, Mr. Sutherland?”
“Perhaps I will.”
That evening, at dinner, Hugh said to Mr. Arnold:
“Could you let me have a horse to-morrow morning, Mr. Arnold?”
Mr. Arnold stared a little, as he always did at anything new. But Hugh went on:
“Harry and I want to have a ride to-morrow; and I expect we shall like it so much, that we
shall want to ride very often.”
“Yes, that we shall!” cried Harry.
“Could not Mr. Sutherland have your white mare, Euphra?” said Mr. Arnold, reconciled at
once to the proposal.
“I would rather not, if you don’t mind, uncle. My Fatty is not used to such a burden as Ifear Mr. Sutherland would prove. She drops a little now, on the hard road.”
The fact was, Euphra would want Fatima.
“Well, Harry,” said Mr. Arnold, graciously pleased to be facetious, “don’t you think your
Welsh dray-horse could carry Mr. Sutherland?”
“Ha! ha! ha! Papa, do you know, Mr. Sutherland set him up on his hind legs yesterday,
and made him walk on them like a dancing-dog. He was going to lift him, but he kicked about
so when he felt himself leaving the ground, that he tumbled Mr. Sutherland into the
Even the solemn face of the butler relaxed into a smile, but Mr. Arnold’s clouded instead.
His boy’s tutor ought to be a gentleman.
“Wasn’t it fun, Mr. Sutherland?”
“It was to you, you little rogue!” said Sutherland, laughing.
“And how you did run home, dripping like a water-cart! — and all the dogs after you!”
Mr. Arnold’s monotonous solemnity soon checked Harry’s prattle.
“I will see, Mr. Sutherland, what I can do to mount you.”
“I don’t care what it is,” said Hugh; who though by no means a thorough horseman, had
been from boyhood in the habit of mounting everything in the shape of a horse that he could
lay hands upon, from a cart-horse upwards and downwards.
“There’s an old bay that would carry me very well.”
“That is my own horse, Mr. Sutherland.”
This stopped the conversation in that direction. But next morning after breakfast, an
excellent chestnut horse was waiting at the door, along with Harry’s new pony. Mr. Arnold
would see them go off. This did not exactly suit Miss Cameron, but if she frowned, it was
when nobody saw her. Hugh put Harry up himself, told him to stick fast with his knees, and
then mounted his chestnut. As they trotted slowly down the avenue, Euphrasia heard Mr.
Arnold say to himself, “The fellow sits well, at all events.” She took care to make herself
agreeable to Hugh by reporting this, with the omission of the initiatory epithet, however.
Harry returned from his ride rather tired, but in high spirits.
“Oh, Euphra!” he cried, “Mr. Sutherland is such a rider! He jumps hedges and ditches
and everything. And he has promised to teach me and my pony to jump too. And if I am not
too tired, we are to begin to-morrow, out on the common. Oh! jolly!”
The little fellow’s heart was full of the sense of growing life and strength, and Hugh was
delighted with his own success. He caught sight of a serpentine motion in Euphra’s eyebrows,
as she bent her face again over the work from which she had lifted it on their entrance. He
addressed her.
“You will be glad to hear that Harry has ridden like a man.”
“I am glad to hear it, Harry.”
Why did she reply to the subject of the remark, and not to the speaker? Hugh perplexed
himself in vain to answer this question; but a very small amount of experience would have
made him able to understand at once as much of her behaviour as was genuine. At luncheon
she spoke only in reply; and then so briefly, as not to afford the smallest peg on which to hang
a response.
“What can be the matter?” thought Hugh. “What a peculiar creature she is! But after
what has passed between us, I can’t stand this.”
When dinner was over that evening, she rose as usual and left the room, followed by
Hugh and Harry; but as soon as they were in the drawing-room, she left it; and, returning to
the dining-room, resumed her seat at the table.
“Take a glass of claret, Euphra, dear?” said Mr. Arnold.
“I will, if you please, uncle. I should like it. I have seldom a minute with you alone now.”
Evidently flattered, Mr. Arnold poured out a glass of claret, rose and carried it to his
niece himself, and then took a chair beside her.“Thank you, dear uncle,” she said, with one of her bewitching flashes of smile.
“Harry has been getting on bravely with his riding, has he not?” she continued.
“So it would appear.”
Harry had been full of the story of the day at the dinner-table, where he still continued to
present himself; for his father would not be satisfied without hint. It was certainly good moral
training for the boy, to sit there almost without eating; and none the worse that he found it
rather hard sometimes. He talked much more freely now, and asked the servants for anything
he wanted without referring to Euphra. Now and then he would glance at her, as if afraid of
offending her; but the cords which bound him to her were evidently relaxing; and she saw it
plainly enough, though she made no reference to the unpleasing fact.
“I am only a little fearful, uncle, lest Mr. Sutherland should urge the boy to do more than
his strength will admit of. He is exceedingly kind to him, but he has evidently never known
what weakness is himself.”
“True, there is danger of that. But you see he has taken him so entirely into his own
hands. I don’t seem to be allowed a word in the matter of his education any more.” Mr. Arnold
spoke with the peevishness of weak importance. “I wish you would take care that he does not
carry things too far, Euphra.”
This was just what Euphra wanted.
“I think, if you do not disapprove, uncle, I will have Fatima saddled to-morrow morning,
and go with them myself.”
“Thank you, my love; I shall be much obliged to you.” The glass of claret was soon
finished after this. A little more conversation about nothing followed, and Euphra rose the
second time, and returned to the drawing-room. She found it unoccupied. She sat down to the
piano, and sang song after song — Scotch, Italian, and Bohemian. But Hugh did not make his
appearance. The fact was, he was busy writing to his mother, whom he had rather neglected
since he came. Writing to her made him think of David, and he began a letter to him too; but it
was never finished, and never sent. He did not return to the drawing-room that evening.
Indeed, except for a short time, while Mr. Arnold was drinking his claret, he seldom showed
himself there. Had Euphra repelled him too much — hurt him? She would make up for it
Breakfast was scarcely over, when the chestnut and the pony passed the window,
accompanied by a lovely little Arab mare, broad-chested and light-limbed, with a wonderfully
small head. She was white as snow, with keen, dark eyes. Her curb-rein was red instead of
white. Hearing their approach, and begging her uncle to excuse her, Euphra rose from the
table, and left the room; but re-appeared in a wonderfully little while, in a well-fitted riding-habit
of black velvet, with a belt of dark red leather clasping a waist of the roundest and smallest.
Her little hat, likewise black, had a single long, white feather, laid horizontally within the
upturned brim, and drooping over it at the back. Her white mare would be just the right
pedestal for the dusky figure — black eyes, tawny skin, and all. As she stood ready to mount,
and Hugh was approaching to put her up, she called the groom, seemed just to touch his
hand, and was in the saddle in a moment, foot in stirrup, and skirt falling over it. Hugh thought
she was carrying out the behaviour of yesterday, and was determined to ask her what it
meant. The little Arab began to rear and plunge with pride, as soon as she felt her mistress on
her back; but she seemed as much at home as if she had been on the music-stool, and
patted her arching neck, talking to her in the same tone almost in which she had addressed
the flowers.
“Be quiet, Fatty dear; you’re frightening Mr. Sutherland.”
But Hugh, seeing the next moment that she was in no danger, sprang into his saddle.
Away they went, Fatima infusing life and frolic into the equine as Euphra into the human
portion of the cavalcade. Having reached the common, out of sight of the house, Miss
Cameron, instead of looking after Harry, lest he should have too much exercise, scamperedabout like a wild girl, jumping everything that came in her way, and so exciting Harry’s pony,
that it was almost more than he could do to manage it, till at last Hugh had to beg her to go
more quietly, for Harry’s sake. She drew up alongside of them at once, and made her mare
stand as still as she could, while Harry made his first essay upon a little ditch. After crossing it
two or three times, he gathered courage; and setting his pony at a larger one beyond,
bounded across it beautifully.
“Bravo! Harry!” cried both Euphra and Hugh. Harry galloped back, and over it again; then
came up to them with a glow of proud confidence on his pale face.
“You’ll be a horseman yet, Harry,” said Hugh.
“I hope so,” said Harry, in an aspiring tone, which greatly satisfied his tutor. The boy’s
spirit was evidently reviving. Euphra must have managed him ill. Yet she was not in the least
effeminate herself. It puzzled Hugh a good deal. But he did not think about it long; for Harry
cantering away in front, he had an opportunity of saying to Euphra:
“Are you offended with me, Miss Cameron?”
“Offended with you! What do you mean? A girl like me offended with a man like you?”
She looked two and twenty as she spoke; but even at that she was older than Hugh. He,
however, certainly looked considerably older than he really was.
“What makes you think so?” she added, turning her face towards him.
“You would not speak to me when we came home yesterday.”
“Not speak to you? — I had a little headache — and perhaps I was a little sullen, from
having been in such bad company all the morning.”
“What company had you?” asked Hugh, gazing at her in some surprise.
“My own,” answered she, with a lovely laugh, thrown full in his face. Then after a pause:
“Let me advise you, if you want to live in peace, not to embark on that ocean of discovery.”
“What ocean? what discovery?” asked Hugh, bewildered, and still gazing.
“The troubled ocean of ladies’ looks,” she replied. “You will never be able to live in the
same house with one of our kind, if it be necessary to your peace to find out what every
expression that puzzles you may mean.”
“I did not intend to be inquisitive — it really troubled me.”
“There it is. You must never mind us. We show so much sooner than men — but, take
warning, there is no making out what it is we do show. Your faces are legible; ours are so
scratched and interlined, that you had best give up at once the idea of deciphering them.”
Hugh could not help looking once more at the smooth, simple, naïve countenance
shining upon him.
“There you are at it again,” she said, blushing a little, and turning her head away. “Well,
to comfort you, I will confess I was rather cross yesterday — because — because you
seemed to have been quite happy with only one of your pupils.”
As she spoke the words, she gave Fatima the rein, and bounded off, overtaking Harry’s
pony in a moment. Nor did she leave her cousin during all the rest of their ride.
Most women in whom the soul has anything like a chance of reaching the windows, are
more or less beautiful in their best moments. Euphra’s best was when she was trying to
fascinate. Then she was — fascinating. During the first morning that Hugh spent at Arnstead,
she had probably been making up her mind whether, between her and Hugh, it was to be war
to the knife, or fascination. The latter had carried the day, and was now carrying him. But had
she calculated that fascination may re-act as well?
Hugh’s heart bounded, like her Arab steed, as she uttered the words last recorded. He
gave his chestnut the rein in his turn, to overtake her; but Fatima’s canter quickened into a
gallop, and, inspirited by her companionship, and the fact that their heads were turned
stablewards, Harry’s pony, one of the quickest of its race, laid itself to the ground, and kept
up, taking three strides for Fatty’s two, so that Hugh never got within three lengths of them till
they drew rein at the hall-door, where the grooms were waiting them. Euphra was off hermare in a moment, and had almost reached her own room before Hugh and Harry had
crossed the hall. She came down to luncheon in a white muslin dress, with the smallest
possible red spot in it; and, taking her place at the table, seemed to Hugh to have put off not
only her riding habit, but the self that was in it as well; for she chatted away in the most
unconcerned and easy manner possible, as if she had not been out of her room all the
morning. She had ridden so hard, that she had left her last speech in the middle of the
common, and its mood with it; and there seemed now no likelihood of either finding its way
Chapter 7 — The Picture Gallery

…the house is crencled to and fro,
And hath so queint waies for to go,
For it is shapen as the mase is wrought.
—Chaucer, Legend of Ariadne.

Luncheon over, and Harry dismissed as usual to lie down, Miss Cameron said to Hugh:
“You have never been over the old house yet, I believe, Mr. Sutherland. Would you not
like to see it?”
“I should indeed,” said Hugh. “It is what I have long hoped for, and have often been on
the point of begging.”
“Come, then; I will be your guide — if you will trust yourself with a madcap like me, in the
solitudes of the old hive.”
“Lead on to the family vaults, if you will,” said Hugh.
“That might be possible, too, from below. We are not so very far from them. Even within
the house there is an old chapel, and some monuments worth looking at. Shall we take it
“As you think best,” answered Hugh.
She rose and rang the bell. When it was answered,
“Jacob,” she said, “get me the keys of the house from Mrs. Horton.”
Jacob vanished, and reappeared with a huge bunch of keys. She took them.
“Thank you. They should not be allowed to get quite rusty, Jacob.”
“Please, Miss, Mrs. Horton desired me to say, she would have seen to them, if she had
known you wanted them.”
“Oh! never mind. Just tell my maid to bring me an old pair of gloves.”
Jacob went; and the maid came with the required armour.
“Now, Mr. Sutherland. Jane, you will come with us. No, you need not take the keys. I will
find those I want as we go.”
She unlocked a door in the corner of the hall, which Hugh had never seen open. Passing
through a long low passage, they came to a spiral staircase of stone, up which they went,
arriving at another wide hall, very dusty, but in perfect repair. Hugh asked if there was not
some communication between this hall and the great oak staircase.
“Yes,” answered Euphra; “but this is the more direct way.”
As she said this, he felt somehow as if she cast on him one of her keenest glances; but
the place was very dusky, and he stood in a spot where the light fell upon him from an
opening in a shutter, while she stood in deep shadow.
“Jane, open that shutter.”
The girl obeyed; and the entering light revealed the walls covered with paintings, many of
them apparently of no value, yet adding much to the effect of the place. Seeing that Hugh was
at once attracted by the pictures, Euphra said:
“Perhaps you would like to see the picture gallery first?”
Hugh assented. Euphra chose key after key, and opened door after door, till they came
into a long gallery, well lighted from each end. The windows were soon opened.
“Mr. Arnold is very proud of his pictures, especially of his family portraits; but he is
content with knowing he has them, and never visits them except to show them; or perhaps
once or twice a year, when something or other keeps him at home for a day, without anything
particular to do.”
In glancing over the portraits, some of them by famous masters, Hugh’s eyes were
arrested by a blonde beauty in the dress of the time of Charles II. There was such a reality ofself-willed boldness as well as something worse in her face, that, though arrested by the
picture, Hugh felt ashamed of looking at it in the presence of Euphra and her maid. The
pictured woman almost put him out of countenance, and yet at the same time fascinated him.
Dragging his eyes from it, he saw that Jane had turned her back upon it, while Euphra
regarded it steadily.
“Open that opposite window, Jane,” said she; “there is not light enough on this portrait.”
Jane obeyed. While she did so, Hugh caught a glimpse of her face, and saw that the
formerly rosy girl was deadly pale. He said to Euphra:
“Your maid seems ill, Miss Cameron.”
“Jane, what is the matter with you?”
She did not reply, but, leaning against the wall, seemed ready to faint.
“The place is close,” said her mistress. “Go into the next room there,” — she pointed to a
door — “and open the window. You will soon be well.”
“If you please, Miss, I would rather stay with you. This place makes me feel that
She had come but lately, and had never been over the house before.
“Nonsense!” said Miss Cameron, looking at her sharply. “What do you mean?”
“Please, don’t be angry, Miss; but the first night e’er I slept here, I saw that very lady —”
“Saw that lady!”
“Well, Miss, I mean, I dreamed that I saw her; and I remembered her the minute I see
her up there; and she give me a turn like. I’m all right now, Miss.”
Euphra fixed her eyes on her, and kept them fixed, till she was very nearly all wrong
again. She turned as pale as before, and began to draw her breath hard.
“You silly goose!” said Euphra, and withdrew her eyes; upon which the girl began to
breathe more freely.
Hugh was making some wise remarks in his own mind on the unsteady condition of a
nature in which the imagination predominates over the powers of reflection, when Euphra
turned to him, and began to tell him that that was the picture of her three or four times
greatgrandmother, painted by Sir Peter Lely, just after she was married.
“Isn’t she fair?” said she. — “She turned nun at last, they say.”
“She is more fair than honest,” thought Hugh. “It would take a great deal of nun to make
her into a saint.” But he only said, “She is more beautiful than lovely. What was her name?”
“If you mean her maiden name, it was Halkar — Lady Euphrasia Halkar — named after
me, you see. She had foreign blood in her, of course; and, to tell the truth, there were strange
stories told of her, of more sorts than one. I know nothing of her family. It was never heard of
in England, I believe, till after the Restoration.”
All the time Euphra was speaking, Hugh was being perplexed with that most annoying of
perplexities — the flitting phantom of a resemblance, which he could not catch. He was forced
to dismiss it for the present, utterly baffled.
“Were you really named after her, Miss Cameron?”
“No, no. It is a family name with us. But, indeed, I may be said to be named after her, for
she was the first of us who bore it. You don’t seem to like the portrait.”
“I do not; but I cannot help looking at it, for all that.”
“I am so used to the lady’s face,” said Euphra, “that it makes no impression on me of any
sort. But it is said,” she added, glancing at the maid, who stood at some distance, looking
uneasily about her — and as she spoke she lowered her voice to a whisper — “it is said, she
cannot lie still.”
“Cannot lie still! What do you mean?”
“I mean down there in the chapel,” she answered, pointing.
The Celtic nerves of Hugh shuddered. Euphra laughed; and her voice echoed in silvery
billows, that broke on the faces of the men and women of old time, that had owned the whole;whose lives had flowed and ebbed in varied tides through the ancient house; who had married
and been given in marriage; and gone down to the chapel below — below the prayers and
below the psalms — and made a Sunday of all the week.
Ashamed of his feeling of passing dismay, Hugh said, just to say something:
“What a strange ornament that is! Is it a brooch or a pin? No, I declare it is a ring —
large enough for three cardinals, and worn on her thumb. It seems almost to sparkle. Is it
ruby, or carbuncle, or what?”
“I don’t know: some clumsy old thing,” answered Euphra, carelessly.
“Oh! I see,” said Hugh; “it is not a red stone. The glow is only a reflection from part of her
dress. It is as clear as a diamond. But that is impossible — such a size. There seems to me
something curious about it; and the longer I look at it, the more strange it appears.”
Euphra stole another of her piercing glances at him, but said nothing.
“Surely,” Hugh went on, “a ring like that would hardly be likely to be lost out of the family?
Your uncle must have it somewhere.”
Euphra laughed; but this laugh was very different from the last. It rattled rather than
“You are wonderfully taken with a bauble — for a man of letters, that is, Mr. Sutherland.
The stone may have been carried down any one of the hundred streams into which a family
river is always dividing.”
“It is a very remarkable ornament for a lady’s finger, notwithstanding,” said Hugh, smiling
in his turn.
“But we shall never get through the pictures at this rate,” remarked Euphra; and going
on, she directed Hugh’s attention now to this, now to that portrait, saying who each was, and
mentioning anything remarkable in the history of their originals. She manifested a thorough
acquaintance with the family story, and made, in fact, an excellent show-woman. Having gone
nearly to the other end of the gallery,
“This door,” said she, stopping at one, and turning over the keys, “leads to one of the
oldest portions of the house, the principal room in which is said to have belonged especially to
the lady over there.”
As she said this, she fixed her eyes once more on the maid.
“Oh! don’t ye now, Miss,” interrupted Jane. “Hannah du say as how a whitey-blue light
shines in the window of a dark night, sometimes — that lady’s window, you know, Miss. Don’t
ye open the door — pray, Miss.”
Jane seemed on the point of falling into the same terror as before.
“Really, Jane,” said her mistress, “I am ashamed of you; and of myself, for having such
silly servants about me.”
“I beg your pardon, Miss, but —”
“So Mr. Sutherland and I must give up our plan of going over the house, because my
maid’s nerves are too delicate to permit her to accompany us. For shame!”
“Oh, du ye now go without me!” cried the girl, clasping her hands.
“And you will wait here till we come back?”
“Oh! don’t ye leave me here. Just show me the way out.”
And once more she turned pale as death.
“Mr. Sutherland, I am very sorry, but we must put off the rest of our ramble till another
time. I am, like Hamlet, very vilely attended, as you see. Come, then, you foolish girl,” she
added, more mildly.
The poor maid, what with terror of Lady Euphrasia, and respect for her mistress, was in
a pitiable condition of moral helplessness. She seemed almost too frightened to walk behind
them. But if she had been in front it would have been no better; for, like other ghost-fearers,
she seemed to feel very painfully that she had no eyes in her back.
They returned as they came; and Jane receiving the keys to take to the housekeeper,darted away. When she reached Mrs. Horton’s room, she sank on a chair in hysterics.
“I must get rid of that girl, I fear,” said Miss Cameron, leading the way to the library; “she
will infect the whole household with her foolish terrors. We shall not hear the last of this for
some time to come. We had a fit of it the same year I came; and I suppose the time has
come round for another attack of the same epidemic.”
“What is there about the room to terrify the poor thing?”
“Oh! they say it is haunted; that is all. Was there ever an old house anywhere over
Europe, especially an old family house, but was said to be haunted? Here the story centres in
that room — or at least in that room and the avenue in front of its windows.”
“Is that the avenue called the Ghost’s Walk?”
“Yes. Who told you?”
“Harry would not let me cross it.”
“Poor boy! This is really too bad. He cannot stand anything of that kind, I am sure. Those
“Oh! I hope we shall soon get him too well to be frightened at anything. Are these places
said to be haunted by any particular ghost?”
“Yes. By Lady Euphrasia — Rubbish!”
Had Hugh possessed a yet keener perception of resemblance, he would have seen that
the phantom-likeness which haunted him in the portrait of Euphrasia Halkar, was that of
Euphrasia Cameron — by his side all the time. But the mere difference of complexion was
sufficient to throw him out — insignificant difference as that is, beside the correspondence of
features and their relations. Euphra herself was perfectly aware of the likeness, but had no
wish that Hugh should discover it.
As if the likeness, however, had been dimly identified by the unconscious part of his
being, he sat in one corner of the library sofa, with his eyes fixed on the face of Euphra, as
she sat in the other. Presently he was made aware of his unintentional rudeness, by seeing
her turn pale as death, and sink back in the sofa. In a moment she started up, and began
pacing about the room, rubbing her eyes and temples. He was bewildered and alarmed.
“Miss Cameron, are you ill?” he exclaimed.
She gave a kind of half-hysterical laugh, and said:
“No — nothing worth speaking of. I felt a little faint, that was all. I am better now.”
She turned full towards him, and seemed to try to look all right; but there was a kind of
film over the clearness of her black eyes.
“I fear you have headache.”
“A little, but it is nothing. I will go and lie down.”
“Do, pray; else you will not be well enough to appear at dinner.”
She retired, and Hugh joined Hairy.
Euphra had another glass of claret with her uncle that evening, in order to give her report
of the morning’s ride.
“Really, there is not much to be afraid of, uncle. He takes very good care of Harry. To be
sure, I had occasion several times to check him a little; but he has this good quality in addition
to a considerable aptitude for teaching, that he perceives a hint, and takes it at once.”
Knowing her uncle’s formality, and preference for precise and judicial modes of
expression, Euphra modelled her phrase to his mind.
“I am glad he has your good opinion so far, Euphra; for I confess there is something
about the youth that pleases me. I was afraid at first that I might be annoyed by his
overstepping the true boundaries of his position in my family: he seems to have been in good
society, too. But your assurance that he can take a hint, lessens my apprehension
considerably. To-morrow, I will ask him to resume his seat after dessert.”
This was not exactly the object of Euphra’s qualified commendation of Hugh. But she
could not help it now.“I think, however, if you approve, uncle, that it will be more prudent to keep a little watch
over the riding for a while. I confess, too, I should be glad of a little more of that exercise than
I have had for some time: I found my seat not very secure to-day.”
“Very desirable on both considerations, my love.”
And so the conference ended.
Chapter 8 — Nest-Building

If you will have a tree bear more fruit than it hath used to do, it is not
anything you can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring of the earth, and
putting new mould about the roots, that must work it.
—Lord Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, b. ii.

In a short time Harry’s health was so much improved, and consequently the strength and
activity of his mind so much increased, that Hugh began to give him more exact mental
operations to perform. But as if he had been a reader of Lord Bacon, which as yet he was not,
and had learned from him that “wonder is the seed of knowledge,” he came, by a kind of
sympathetic instinct, to the same conclusion practically, in the case of Harry. He tried to wake
a question in him, by showing him something that would rouse his interest. The reply to this
question might be the whole rudiments of a science.
Things themselves should lead to the science of them. If things are not interesting in
themselves, how can any amount of knowledge about them be? To be sure, there is such a
thing as a purely or abstractly intellectual interest — the pleasure of the mere operation of the
intellect upon the signs of things; but this must spring from a highly exercised intellectual
condition, and is not to be expected before the pleasures of intellectual motion have been
experienced through the employment of its means for other ends. Whether this is a higher
condition or not, is open to much disquisition.
One day Hugh was purposely engaged in taking the altitude of the highest turret of the
house, with an old quadrant he had found in the library, when Harry came up.
“What are you doing, big brother?” said he; for now that he was quite at home with Hugh,
there was a wonderful mixture of familiarity and respect in him, that was quite bewitching.
“Finding out how high your house is, little brother,” answered Hugh.
“How can you do it with that thing? Will it measure the height of other things besides the
“Yes, the height of a mountain, or anything you like.”
“Do show me how.”
Hugh showed him as much of it as he could.
“But I don’t understand it.”
“Oh! that is quite another thing. To do that, you must learn a great many things — Euclid
to begin with.”
That very afternoon Harry began Euclid, and soon found quite enough of interest on the
road to the quadrant, to prevent him from feeling any tediousness in its length.
Of an afternoon Hugh had taken to reading Shakspere to Harry. Euphra was always a
listener. On one occasion Harry said:
“I am so sorry, Mr. Sutherland, but I don’t understand the half of it. Sometimes when
Euphra and you are laughing, — and sometimes when Euphra is crying,” added he, looking at
her slyly, “I can’t understand what it is all about. Am I so very stupid, Mr. Sutherland?” And he
almost cried himself.
“Not a bit of it, Harry, my boy; only you must learn a great many other things first.”
“How can I learn them? I am willing to learn anything. I don’t find it tire me now as it
“There are many things necessary to understand Shakspere that I cannot teach you, and
that some people never learn. Most of them will come of themselves. But of one thing you
may be sure, Harry, that if you learn anything, whatever it be, you are so far nearer to
understanding Shakspere.”
The same afternoon, when Harry had waked from his siesta, upon which Hugh stillinsisted, they went out for a walk in the fields. The sun was half way down the sky, but very
hot and sultry.
“I wish we had our cave of straw to creep into now,” said Harry. “I felt exactly like the
little field-mouse you read to me about in Burns’s poems, when we went in that morning, and
found it all torn up, and half of it carried away. We have no place to go to now for a peculiar
own place; and the consequence is, you have not told me any stories about the Romans for a
whole week.”
“Well, Harry, is there any way of making another?”
“There’s no more straw lying about that I know of,” answered Harry; “and it won’t do to
pull the inside out of a rick, I am afraid.”
“But don’t you think it would be pleasant to have a change now; and as we have lived
underground, or say in the snow like the North people, try living in the air, like some of the
South people?”
“Delightful!” cried Harry. — “A balloon?”
“No, not quite that. Don’t you think a nest would do?”
“Up in a tree?”
Harry darted off for a run, as the only means of expressing his delight. When he came
back, he said:
“When shall we begin, Mr. Sutherland?”
“We will go and look for a place at once; but I am not quite sure when we shall begin yet.
I shall find out to-night, though.”
They left the fields, and went into the woods in the neighbourhood of the house, at the
back. Here the trees had grown to a great size, some of them being very old indeed. They
soon fixed upon a grotesque old oak as a proper tree in which to build their nest; and Harry,
who, as well as Hugh, had a good deal of constructiveness in his nature, was so delighted,
that the heat seemed to have no more influence upon him; and Hugh, fearful of the reaction,
was compelled to restrain his gambols.
Pursuing their way through the dark warp of the wood, with its golden weft of crossing
sunbeams, Hugh began to tell Harry the story of the killing of Cæsar by Brutus and the rest,
filling up the account with portions from Shakspere. Fortunately, he was able to give the
orations of Brutus and Antony in full. Harry was in ecstasy over the eloquence of the two men.
“Well, what language do you think they spoke, Harry?” said Hugh.
“Why,” said Harry, hesitating, “I suppose —” then, as if a sudden light broke upon him —
“Latin of course. How strange!”
“Why strange?”
“That such men should talk such a dry, unpleasant language.”
“I allow it is a difficult language, Harry; and very ponderous and mechanical; but not
necessarily dry or unpleasant. The Romans, you know, were particularly fond of law in
everything; and so they made a great many laws for their language; or rather, it grew so,
because they were of that sort. It was like their swords and armour generally, not very
graceful, but very strong; — like their architecture too, Harry. Nobody can ever understand
what a people is, without knowing its language. It is not only that we find all these stories
about them in their language, but the language itself is more like them than anything else can
be. Besides, Harry, I don’t believe you know anything about Latin yet.”
“I know all the declensions and conjugations.”
“But don’t you think it must have been a very different thing to hear it spoken?”
“Yes, to be sure — and by such men. But how ever could they speak it?”
“They spoke it just as you do English. It was as natural to them. But you cannot say you
know anything about it, till you read what they wrote in it; till your ears delight in the sound of
their poetry; —”“Poetry?”
“Yes; and beautiful letters; and wise lessons; and histories and plays.”
“Oh! I should like you to teach me. Will it be as hard to learn always as it is now?”
“Certainly not. I am sure you will like it.”
“When will you begin me?”
“To-morrow. And if you get on pretty well, we will begin our nest, too, in the afternoon.”
“Oh, how kind you are! I will try very hard.”
“I am sure you will, Harry.”
Next morning, accordingly, Hugh did begin him, after a fashion of his own; namely, by
giving him a short simple story to read, finding out all the words with him in the dictionary, and
telling him what the terminations of the words signified; for he found that he had already
forgotten a very great deal of what, according to Euphra, he had been thoroughly taught. No
one can remember what is entirely uninteresting to him.
Hugh was as precise about the grammar of a language as any Scotch Professor of
Humanity, old Prosody not excepted; but he thought it time enough to begin to that, when
some interest in the words themselves should have been awakened in the mind of his pupil.
He hated slovenliness as much as any one; but the question was, how best to arrive at
thoroughness in the end, without losing the higher objects of study; and not how, at all risks,
to commence teaching the lesson of thoroughness at once, and so waste on the shape of a
pin-head the intellect which, properly directed, might arrive at the far more minute accuracies
of a steam-engine. The fault of Euphra in teaching Harry, had been that, with a certain kind of
tyrannical accuracy, she had determined to have the thing done — not merely decently and in
order, but prudishly and pedantically; so that she deprived progress of the pleasure which
ought naturally to attend it. She spoiled the walk to the distant outlook, by stopping at every
step, not merely to pick flowers, but to botanise on the weeds, and to calculate the distance
advanced. It is quite true that we ought to learn to do things irrespective of the reward; but
plenty of opportunities will be given in the progress of life, and in much higher kinds of action,
to exercise our sense of duty in severe loneliness. We have no right to turn intellectual
exercises into pure operations of conscience: these ought to involve essential duty; although
no doubt there is plenty of room for mingling duty with those; while, on the other hand, the
highest act of suffering self-denial is not without its accompanying reward. Neither is there any
exercise of the higher intellectual powers in learning the mere grammar of a language,
necessary as it is for a means. And language having been made before grammar, a language
must be in some measure understood, before its grammar can become intelligible.
Harry’s weak (though true and keen) life could not force its way into any channel. His
was a nature essentially dependent on sympathy. It could flow into truth through another
loving mind: left to itself, it could not find the way, and sank in the dry sand of ennui and
selfimposed obligations. Euphra was utterly incapable of understanding him; and the boy had
been dying for lack of sympathy, though neither he nor any one about him had suspected the
There was a strange disproportion between his knowledge and his capacity. He was able,
when his attention was directed, his gaze fixed, and his whole nature supported by Hugh, to
see deep into many things, and his remarks were often strikingly original; but he was one of
the most ignorant boys, for his years, that Hugh had ever come across. A long and severe
illness, when he was just passing into boyhood, had thrown him back far into his childhood;
and he was only now beginning to show that he had anything of the boy-life in him. Hence
arose that unequal development which has been sufficiently evident in the story.
In the afternoon, they went to the wood, and found the tree they had chosen for their
nest. To Harry’s intense admiration, Hugh, as he said, went up the tree like a squirrel, only he
was too big for a bear even. Just one layer of foliage above the lowest branches, he came to
a place where he thought there was a suitable foundation for the nest. From the ground Harrycould scarcely see him, as, with an axe which he had borrowed for the purpose (for there was
a carpenter’s work-shop on the premises), he cut away several small branches from three of
the principal ones; and so had these three as rafters, ready dressed and placed, for the
foundation of the nest. Having made some measurements, he descended; and repairing with
Harry to the work-shop, procured some boarding and some tools, which Harry assisted in
carrying to the tree. Ascending again, and drawing up his materials, by the help of Harry, with
a piece of string, Hugh in a very little while had a level floor, four feet square, in the heart of
the oak tree, quite invisible from below — buried in a cloud of green leaves. For greater
safety, he fastened ropes as handrails all around it from one branch to another. And now
nothing remained but to construct a bench to sit on, and such a stair as Harry could easily
climb. The boy was quite restless with anxiety to get up and see the nest; and kept calling out
constantly to know if he might not come up yet. At length Hugh allowed him to try; but the
poor boy was not half strong enough to climb the tree without help. So Hugh descended, and
with his aid Harry was soon standing on the new-built platform.
“I feel just like an eagle,” he cried; but here his voice faltered, and he was silent.
“What is the matter, Harry?” said his tutor.
“Oh, nothing,” replied he; “only I didn’t exactly know whereabouts we were till I got up
“Whereabouts are we, then?”
“Close to the end of the Ghost’s Walk.”
“But you don’t mind that now, surely, Harry?”
“No, sir; that is, not so much as I used.”
“Shall I take all this down again, and build our nest somewhere else?”
“Oh, no, if you don’t think it matters. It would be a great pity, after you have taken so
much trouble with it. Besides, I shall never be here without you; and I do not think I should be
afraid of the ghost herself, if you were with me.”
Yet Harry shuddered involuntarily at the thought of his own daring speech.
“Very well, Harry, my boy; we will finish it here. Now, if you stand there, I will fasten a
plank across here between these two stumps — no, that won’t do exactly. I must put a piece
on to this one, to raise it to a level with the other — then we shall have a seat in a few
Hammer and nails were busy again; and in a few minutes they sat down to enjoy the
“soft pipling cold” which swung all the leaves about like little trap-doors that opened into the
Infinite. Harry was highly contented. He drew a deep breath of satisfaction as, looking above
and beneath and all about him, he saw that they were folded in an almost impenetrable net of
foliage, through which nothing could steal into their sanctuary, save “the chartered libertine,
the air,” and a few stray beams of the setting sun, filtering through the multitudinous leaves,
from which they caught a green tint as they passed.
“Fancy yourself a fish,” said Hugh, “in the depth of a cavern of sea weed, which floats
about in the slow swinging motion of the heavy waters.”
“What a funny notion!”
“Not so absurd as you may think, Harry; for just as some fishes crawl about on the
bottom of the sea, so do we men at the bottom of an ocean of air; which, if it be a thinner
one, is certainly a deeper one.”
“Then the birds are the swimming fishes, are they not?”
“Yes, to be sure.”
“And you and I are two mermen — doing what? Waiting for mother mermaid to give us
our dinner. I am getting hungry. But it will be a long time before a mermaid gets up here, I am
“That reminds me,” said Hugh, “that I must build a stair for you, Master Harry; for you
are not merman enough to get up with a stroke of your scaly tail. So here goes. You can sitthere till I fetch you.”
Nailing a little rude bracket here and there on the stem of the tree, just where Harry
could avail himself of hand-hold as well, Hugh had soon finished a strangely irregular
staircase, which it took Harry two or three times trying, to learn quite off.
Chapter 9 — Geography Point

I will fetch you a tooth-picker now from the farthest inch of Asia;
bring you the length of Prester John’s foot; fetch you a hair off the great
Cham’s beard; do you any embassage to the Pigmies.
—Much Ado about Nothing.

The next day, after dinner, Mr. Arnold said to the tutor:
“Well, Mr. Sutherland, how does Harry get on with his geography?”
Mr. Arnold, be it understood, had a weakness for geography.
“We have not done anything at that yet, Mr. Arnold.”
“Not done anything at geography! And the boy getting quite robust now! I am astonished,
Mr. Sutherland. Why, when he was a mere child, he could repeat all the counties of England.”
“Perhaps that may be the reason for the decided distaste he shows for it now, Mr.
Arnold. But I will begin to teach him at once, if you desire it.”
“I do desire it, Mr. Sutherland. A thorough geographical knowledge is essential to the
education of a gentleman. Ask me any question you please, Mr. Sutherland, on the map of
the world, or any of its divisions.”
Hugh asked a few questions, which Mr. Arnold answered at once.
“Pooh! pooh!” said he, “this is mere child’s play. Let me ask you some, Mr. Sutherland.”
His very first question posed Hugh, whose knowledge in this science was not by any
means minute.
“I fear I am no gentleman,” said he, laughing; “but I can at least learn as well as teach.
We shall begin to-morrow.”
“What books have you?”
“Oh! no books, if you please, just yet. If you are satisfied with Harry’s progress so far, let
me have my own way in this too.”
“But geography does not seem your strong point.”
“No; but I may be able to teach it all the better from feeling the difficulties of a learner
“Well, you shall have a fair trial.”
Next morning Hugh and Harry went out for a walk to the top of a hill in the
neighbourhood. When they reached it, Hugh took a small compass from his pocket, and set it
on the ground, contemplating it and the horizon alternately.
“What are you doing, Mr. Sutherland?”
“I am trying to find the exact line that would go through my home,” said he.
“Is that funny little thing able to tell you?”
“Yes; this along with other things. Isn’t it curious, Harry, to have in my pocket a little thing
with a kind of spirit in it, that understands the spirit that is in the big world, and always points
to its North Pole?”
“Explain it to me.”
“It is nearly as much a mystery to me as to you.”
“Where is the North Pole?”
“Look, the little thing points to it.”
“But I will turn it away. Oh! it won’t go. It goes back and back, do what I will.”
“Yes, it will, if you turn it away all day long. Look, Harry, if you were to go straight on in
this direction, you would come to a Laplander, harnessing his broad-horned reindeer to his
sledge. He’s at it now, I daresay. If you were to go in this line exactly, you would go through
the smoke and fire of a burning mountain in a land of ice. If you were to go this way, straight
on, you would find yourself in the middle of a forest with a lion glaring at your feet, for it is darknight there now, and so hot! And over there, straight on, there is such a lovely sunset. The top
of a snowy mountain is all pink with light, though the sun is down — oh! such colours all about,
like fairyland! And there, there is a desert of sand, and a camel dying, and all his companions
just disappearing on the horizon. And there, there is an awful sea, without a boat to be seen
on it, dark and dismal, with huge rocks all about it, and waste borders of sand — so dreadful!”
“How do you know all this, Mr. Sutherland? You have never walked along those lines, I
know, for you couldn’t.”
“Geography has taught me.”
“No, Mr. Sutherland!” said Harry, incredulously. “Well, shall we travel along this line, just
across that crown of trees on the hill?”
“Yes, do let us.”
“Then,” said Hugh, drawing a telescope from his pocket, “this hill is henceforth
Geography Point, and all the world lies round about it. Do you know we are in the very middle
of the earth?”
“Are we, indeed?”
“Yes. Don’t you know any point you like to choose on a ball is the middle of it?”
“Oh! yes — of course.”
“Very well. What lies at the bottom of the hill down there?”
“Arnstead, to be sure.”
“And what beyond there?”
“I don’t know.”
“Look through here.”
“Oh! that must be the village we rode to yesterday — I forget the name of it.”
Hugh told him the name; and then made him look with the telescope all along the
receding line to the trees on the opposite hill. Just as he caught them, a voice beside them
“What are you about, Harry?”
Hugh felt a glow of pleasure as the voice fell on his ear.
It was Euphra’s.
“Oh!” replied Harry, “Mr. Sutherland is teaching me geography with a telescope. It’s such
“He’s a wonderful tutor, that of yours, Harry!”
“Yes, isn’t he just? But,” Harry went on, turning to Hugh, “what are we to do now? We
can’t get farther for that hill.”
“Ah! we must apply to your papa now, to lend us some of his beautiful maps. They will
teach us what lies beyond that hill. And then we can read in some of his books about the
places; and so go on and on, till we reach the beautiful, wide, restless sea; over which we
must sail in spite of wind and tide — straight on and on, till we come to land again. But we
must make a great many such journeys before we really know what sort of a place we are
living in; and we shall have ever so many things to learn that will surprise us.”
“Oh! it will be nice!” cried Harry.
After a little more geographical talk, they put up their instruments, and began to descend
the hill. Harry was in no need of Hugh’s back now, but Euphra was in need of his hand. In
fact, she spelled for its support.
“How awkward of me! I am stumbling over the heather shamefully!”
She was, in fact, stumbling over her own dress, which she would not hold up. Hugh
offered his hand; and her small one seemed quite content to be swallowed up in his large one.
“Why do you never let me put you on your horse?” said Hugh. “You always manage to
prevent me somehow or other. The last time, I just turned my head, and, behold! when I
looked, you were gathering your reins.”
“It is only a trick of independence, Hugh — Mr. Sutherland — I beg your pardon.”I can make no excuse for Euphra, for she had positively never heard him called Hugh:
there was no one to do so. But, the slip had not, therefore, the less effect; for it sounded as if
she had been saying his name over and over again to herself.
“I beg your pardon,” repeated Euphra, hastily; for, as Hugh did not reply, she feared her
arrow had swerved from its mark.
“For a sweet fault, Euphra — I beg your pardon — Miss Cameron.”
“You punish me with forgiveness,” returned she, with one of her sweetest looks.
Hugh could not help pressing the little hand.
Was the pressure returned? So slight, so airy was the touch, that it might have been only
the throb of his own pulses, all consciously vital about the wonderful woman-hand that rested
in his. If he had claimed it, she might easily have denied it, so ethereal and uncertain was it.
Yet he believed in it. He never dreamed that she was exercising her skill upon him. What
could be her object in bewitching a poor tutor? Ah! what indeed?
Meantime this much is certain, that she was drawing Hugh closer and closer to her side;
that a soothing dream of delight had begun to steal over his spirit, soon to make it toss in
feverous unrest — as the first effects of some poisons are like a dawn of tenfold strength. The
mountain wind blew from her to him, sometimes sweeping her garments about him, and
bathing him in their faint sweet odours — odours which somehow seemed to belong to her
whom they had only last visited; sometimes, so kindly strong did it blow, compelling her, or at
least giving her excuse enough, to leave his hand and cling closely to his arm. A fresh spring
began to burst from the very bosom of what had seemed before a perfect summer. A spring
to summer! What would the following summer be? Ah! and what the autumn? And what the
winter? For if the summer be tenfold summer, then must the winter be tenfold winter.
But though knowledge is good for man, foreknowledge is not so good.
And, though Love be good, a tempest of it in the brain will not ripen the fruits like a soft
steady wind, or waft the ships home to their desired haven.
Perhaps, what enslaved Hugh most, was the feeling that the damsel stooped to him,
without knowing that she stooped. She seemed to him in every way above him. She knew so
many things of which he was ignorant; could say such lovely things; could, he did not doubt,
write lovely verses; could sing like an angel; (though Scotch songs are not of essentially
angelic strain, nor Italian songs either, in general; and they were all that she could do); was
mistress of a great rich wonderful house, with a history; and, more than all, was, or appeared
to him to be — a beautiful woman. It was true that his family was as good as hers; but he had
disowned his family — so his pride declared; and the same pride made him despise his
present position, and look upon a tutor’s employment as — as — well, as other people look
upon it; as a rather contemptible one in fact, especially for a young, powerful, six-foot fellow.
The influence of Euphrasia was not of the best upon him from the first; for it had greatly
increased this feeling about his occupation. It could not affect his feelings towards Harry; so
the boy did not suffer as yet. But it set him upon a very unprofitable kind of castle-building: he
would be a soldier like his father; he would leave Arnstead, to revisit it with a sword by his
side, and a Sir before his name. Sir Hugh Sutherland would be somebody even in the eyes of
the master of Arnstead. Yes, a six-foot fellow, though he may be sensible in the main, is not,
therefore, free from small vanities, especially if he be in love. But how leave Euphra?
Again I outrun my story.
Chapter 10 — Italian

Per me si va nella città dolente.

Of necessity, with so many shafts opened into the mountain of knowledge, a far greater
amount of time must be devoted by Harry and his tutor to the working of the mine, than they
had given hitherto. This made a considerable alteration in the intercourse of the youth and the
lady; for, although Euphra was often present during school-hours, it must be said for Hugh
that, during those hours, he paid almost all his attention to Harry; so much of it, indeed, that
perhaps there was not enough left to please the lady. But she did not say so. She sat beside
them in silence, occupied with her work, and saving up her glances for use. Now and then she
would read; taking an opportunity sometimes, but not often, when a fitting pause occurred, to
ask him to explain some passage about which she was in doubt. It must be conceded that
such passages were well chosen for the purpose; for she was too wise to do her own intellect
discredit by feigning a difficulty where she saw none; intellect being the only gift in others for
which she was conscious of any reverence.
By-and-by she began to discontinue these visits to the schoolroom. Perhaps she found
them dull. Perhaps — but we shall see.
One morning, in the course of their study — Euphra not present — Hugh had occasion
to go from his own room, where, for the most part, they carried on the severer portion of their
labours, down to the library for a book, to enlighten them upon some point on which they were
in doubt. As he was passing an open door, Euphra’s voice called him. He entered, and found
himself in her private sitting-room. He had not known before where it was.
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Sutherland, for calling you, but I am at this moment in a difficulty.
I cannot manage this line in the Inferno. Do help me.”
She moved the book towards him, as he now stood by her side, she remaining seated at
her table. To his mortification, he was compelled to confess his utter ignorance of the
“Oh! I am disappointed,” said Euphra.
“Not so much as I am,” replied Hugh. “But could you spare me one or two of your Italian
“With pleasure,” she answered, rising and going to her bookshelves.
“I want only a grammar, a dictionary, and a New Testament.”
“There they are,” she said, taking them down one after the other, and bringing them to
him. “I daresay you will soon get up with poor stupid me.”
“I shall do my best to get within hearing of your voice, at least, in which Italian must be
No reply, but a sudden droop of the head.
“But,” continued Hugh, “upon second thoughts, lest I should be compelled to remain
dumb, or else annoy your delicate ear with discordant sounds, just give me one lesson in the
pronunciation. Let me hear you read a little first.”
“With all my heart.”
Euphra began, and read delightfully; for she was an excellent Italian scholar. It was
necessary that Hugh should look over the book. This was difficult while he remained standing,
as she did not offer to lift it from the table. Gradually, therefore, and hardly knowing how, he
settled into a chair by her side. Half-an-hour went by like a minute, as he listened to the silvery
tones of her voice, breaking into a bell-like sound upon the double consonants of that sweet
lady-tongue. Then it was his turn to read and be corrected, and read again and be again
corrected. Another half-hour glided away, and yet another. But it must be confessed he madegood use of the time — if only it had been his own to use; for at the end of it he could
pronounce Italian very tolerably — well enough, at least, to keep him from fixing errors in his
pronunciation, while studying the language alone. Suddenly he came to himself, and looked up
as from a dream. Had she been bewitching him? He was in Euphra’s room — alone with her.
And the door was shut — how or when? And — he looked at his watch — poor little Harry had
been waiting his return from the library, for the last hour and a half. He was
consciencestricken. He gathered up the books hastily, thanked Euphra in the same hurried manner, and
left the room with considerable disquietude, closing the door very gently, almost guiltily, behind
I am afraid Euphra had been perfectly aware that he knew nothing about Italian. Did she
see her own eyes shine in the mirror before her, as he closed the door? Was she in love with
him, then?
When Hugh returned with the Italian books, instead of the encyclopædia he had gone to
seek, he found Harry sitting where he had left him, with his arms and head on the table, fast
“Poor boy!” said Hugh to himself; but he could not help feeling glad he was asleep. He
stole out of the room again, passed the fatal door with a longing pain, found the volume of his
quest in the library, and, returning with it, sat down beside Harry. There he sat till he awoke.
When he did awake at last, it was almost time for luncheon. The shame-faced boy was
exceedingly penitent for what was no fault, while Hugh could not relieve him by confessing his.
He could only say:
“It was my fault, Harry dear. I stayed away too long. You were so nicely asleep, I would
not wake you. You will not need a siesta, that is all.”
He was ashamed of himself, as he uttered the false words to the true-hearted child. But
this, alas! was not the end of it all.
Desirous of learning the language, but far more desirous of commending himself to
Euphra, Hugh began in downright earnest. That very evening, he felt that he had a little hold
of the language. Harry was left to his own resources. Nor was there any harm in this in itself:
Hugh had a right to part of every day for his own uses. But then, he had been with Harry
almost every evening, or a great part of it, and the boy missed him much; for he was not yet
self-dependent. He would have gone to Euphrasia, but somehow she happened to be
engaged that evening. So he took refuge in the library, where, in the desolation of his spirit,
Polexander began, almost immediately, to exercise its old dreary fascination upon him.
Although he had not opened the book since Hugh had requested him to put it away, yet he
had not given up the intention of finishing it some day; and now he took it down, and opened it
listlessly, with the intention of doing something towards the gradual redeeming of the pledge
he had given to himself. But he found it more irksome than ever. Still he read on; till at length
he could discover no meaning at all in the sentences. Then he began to doubt whether he had
read the words. He fixed his attention by main force on every individual word; but even then
he began to doubt whether he could say he had read the words, for he might have missed
seeing some of the letters composing each word. He grew so nervous and miserable over it,
almost counting every letter, that at last he burst into tears, and threw the book down.
His intellect, which in itself was excellent, was quite of the parasitic order, requiring to
wind itself about a stronger intellect, to keep itself in the region of fresh air and possible
growth. Left to itself, its weak stem could not raise it above the ground: it would grow and
mass upon the earth, till it decayed and corrupted, for lack of room, light, and air. But, of
course, there was no danger in the meantime. This was but the passing sadness of an
occasional loneliness.
He crept to Hugh’s room, and received an invitation to enter, in answer to his gentle
knock; but Hugh was so absorbed in his new study, that he hardly took any notice of him, and
Harry found it almost as dreary here as in the study. He would have gone out, but a drizzlingrain was falling; and he shrank into himself at the thought of the Ghost’s Walk. The dinner-bell
was a welcome summons.
Hugh, inspirited by the reaction from close attention, by the presence of Euphra, and by
the desire to make himself generally agreeable, which sprung from the consciousness of
having done wrong, talked almost brilliantly, delighting Euphra, overcoming Harry with reverent
astonishment, and even interesting slow Mr. Arnold. With the latter Hugh had been gradually
becoming a favourite; partly because he had discovered in him what he considered
highminded sentiments; for, however stupid and conventional Mr. Arnold might be, he had a
foundation of sterling worthiness of character. Euphra, instead of showing any jealousy of this
growing friendliness, favoured it in every way in her power, and now and then alluded to it in
her conversations with Hugh, as affording her great satisfaction.
“I am so glad he likes you!” she would say.
“Why should she be glad?” thought Hugh.
This gentle claim of a kind of property in him, added considerably to the strength of the
attraction that drew him towards her, as towards the centre of his spiritual gravitation; if
indeed that could be called spiritual which had so little of the element of moral or spiritual
admiration, or even approval, mingled with it. He never felt that Euphra was good. He only felt
that she drew him with a vague force of feminine sovereignty — a charm which he could no
more resist or explain, than the iron could the attraction of the loadstone. Neither could he
have said, had he really considered the matter, that she was beautiful — only that she often,
very often, looked beautiful. I suspect if she had been rather ugly, it would have been all the
same for Hugh.
He pursued his Italian studies with a singleness of aim and effort that carried him on
rapidly. He asked no assistance from Euphra, and said nothing to her about his progress. But
he was so absorbed in it, that it drew him still further from his pupil. Of course he went out
with him, walking or riding every day that the weather would permit; and he had regular school
hours with him within doors. But during the latter, while Harry was doing something on his
slate, or writing, or learning some lesson (which kind of work happened oftener now than he
could have approved of), he would take up his Italian; and, notwithstanding Harry’s quiet hints
that he had finished what had been set him, remain buried in it for a long time. When he woke
at last to the necessity of taking some notice of the boy, he would only appoint him something
else to occupy him again, so as to leave himself free to follow his new bent. Now and then he
would become aware of his blameable neglect, and make a feeble struggle to rectify what
seemed to be growing into a habit — and one of the worst for a tutor; but he gradually sank
back into the mire, for mire it was, comforting himself with the resolution that as soon as he
was able to read Italian without absolutely spelling his way, he would let Euphra see what
progress he had made, and then return with renewed energy to Harry’s education, keeping up
his own new accomplishment by more moderate exercise therein. It must not be supposed,
however, that a long course of time passed in this way. At the end of a fortnight, he thought
he might venture to request Euphra to show him the passage which had perplexed her. This
time he knew where she was — in her own room; for his mind had begun to haunt her
whereabouts. He knocked at her door, heard the silvery, thrilling, happy sound, “Come in;”
and entered trembling.
“Would you show me the passage in Dante that perplexed you the other day?”
Euphra looked a little surprised; but got the book and pointed it out at once.
Hugh glanced at it. His superior acquaintance with the general forms of language
enabled him, after finding two words in Euphra’s larger dictionary, to explain it, to her
immediate satisfaction.
“You astonish me,” said Euphra.
“Latin gives me an advantage, you see,” said Hugh modestly.
“It seems to be very wonderful, nevertheless.”These were sweet sounds to Hugh’s ear. He had gained his end. And she hers.
“Well,” she said, “I have just come upon another passage that perplexes me not a little.
Will you try your powers upon that for me?”
So saying, she proceeded to find it.
“It is school-time,” said Hugh “I fear I must not wait now.”
“Pooh! pooh! Don’t make a pedagogue of yourself. You know you are here more as a
guardian — big brother, you know — to the dear child. By the way, I am rather afraid you are
working him a little more than his constitution will stand.”
“Do you think so?” returned Hugh quite willing to be convinced. “I should be very sorry.”
“This is the passage,” said Euphra.
Hugh sat down once more at the table beside her. He found this morsel considerably
tougher than the last. But at length he succeeded in pulling it to pieces and reconstructing it in
a simpler form for the lady. She was full of thanks and admiration. Naturally enough, they
went on to the next line, and the next stanza, and the next and the next; till — shall I be
believed? — they had read a whole canto of the poem. Euphra knew more words by a great
many than Hugh; so that, what with her knowledge of the words, and his insight into the
construction, they made rare progress.
“What a beautiful passage it is!” said Euphra.
“It is indeed,” responded Hugh; “I never read anything more beautiful.”
“I wonder if it would be possible to turn that into English. I should like to try.”
“You mean verse, of course?”
“To be sure.”
“Let us try, then. I will bring you mine when I have finished it. I fear it will take some time,
though, to do it well. Shall it be in blank verse, or what?”
“Oh! don’t you think we had better keep the Terza Rima of the original?”
“As you please. It will add much to the difficulty.”
“Recreant knight! will you shrink from following where your lady leads?”
“Never! so help me, my good pen!” answered Hugh, and took his departure, with burning
cheeks and a trembling at the heart. Alas! the morning was gone. Harry was not in his study:
he sought and found him in the library, apparently buried in Polexander.
“I am so glad you are come,” said Harry; “I am so tired.”
“Why do you read that stupid book, then?”
“Oh! you know, I told you.”
“Tut! tut! nonsense! Put it away,” said Hugh, his dissatisfaction with himself making him
cross with Harry, who felt, in consequence, ten times more desolate than before. He could not
understand the change.
If it went ill before with the hours devoted to common labour, it went worse now. Hugh
seized every gap of time, and widened its margins shamefully, in order to work at his
translation. He found it very difficult to render the Italian in classical and poetic English. The
three rhyming words, and the mode in which the stanzas are looped together, added greatly
to the difficulty. Blank verse he would have found quite easy compared to this. But he would
not blench. The thought of her praise, and of the yet better favour he might gain, spurred him
on; and Harry was the sacrifice. But he would make it all up to him, when this was once over.
Indeed, he would.
Thus he baked cakes of clay to choke the barking of Cerberian conscience. But it would
growl notwithstanding.
The boy’s spirit was sinking; but Hugh did not or would not see it. His step grew less
elastic. He became more listless, more like his former self — sauntering about with his hands
in his pockets. And Hugh, of course, found himself caring less about him; for the thought of
him, rousing as it did the sense of his own neglect, had become troublesome. Sometimes he
even passed poor Harry without speaking to him.Gradually, however, he grew still further into the favour of Mr. Arnold, until he seemed to
have even acquired some influence with him. Mr. Arnold would go out riding with them himself
sometimes, and express great satisfaction, not only with the way Harry sat his pony, for which
he accorded Hugh the credit due to him, but with the way in which Hugh managed his own
horse as well. Mr. Arnold was a good horseman, and his praise was especially grateful to
Hugh, because Euphra was always near, and always heard it. I fear, however, that his
progress in the good graces of Mr. Arnold, was, in a considerable degree, the result of the
greater anxiety to please, which sprung from the consciousness of not deserving approbation.
Pleasing was an easy substitute for well-doing. Not acceptable to himself, he had the greater
desire to be acceptable to others; and so reflect the side-beams of a false approbation on
himself — who needed true light and would be ill-provided for with any substitute. For a man
who is received as a millionaire can hardly help feeling like one at times, even if he knows he
has overdrawn his banker’s account. The necessity to Hugh’s nature of feeling right, drove
him to this false mode of producing the false impression. If one only wants to feel virtuous,
there are several royal roads to that end. But, fortunately, the end itself would be
unsatisfactory if gained; while not one of these roads does more than pretend to lead even to
that land of delusion.
The reaction in Hugh’s mind was sometimes torturing enough. But he had not strength to
resist Euphra, and so reform.
Well or ill done, at length his translation was finished. So was Euphra’s. They exchanged
papers for a private reading first; and arranged to meet afterwards, in order to compare
Chapter 11 — The First Midnight

Well, if anything be damned,
It will be twelve o’clock at night; that twelve
Will never scape.
—Cyril Tourneur, The Revenger’s Tragedy.

Letters arrived at Arnstead generally while the family was seated at breakfast. One
morning, the post-bag having been brought in, Mr. Arnold opened it himself, according to his
unvarying custom; and found, amongst other letters, one in an old-fashioned female hand,
which, after reading it, he passed to Euphra.
“You remember Mrs. Elton, Euphra?”
“Quite well, uncle — a dear old lady!”
But the expression which passed across her face, rather belied her words, and seemed
to Hugh to mean: “I hope she is not going to bore us again.”
She took care, however, to show no sign with regard to the contents of the letter; but,
laying it beside her on the table, waited to hear her uncle’s mind first.
“Poor, dear girl!” said he at last. “You must try to make her as comfortable as you can.
There is consumption in the family, you see,” he added, with a meditative sigh.
“Of course I will, uncle. Poor girl! I hope there is not much amiss though, after all.”
But, as she spoke, an irrepressible flash of dislike, or displeasure of some sort, broke
from her eyes, and vanished. No one but himself seemed to Hugh to have observed it; but he
was learned in the lady’s eyes, and their weather-signs. Mr. Arnold rose from the table and
left the room, apparently to write an answer to the letter. As soon as he was gone, Euphra
gave the letter to Hugh. He read as follows: —

My Dear Mr. Arnold,
Will you extend the hospitality of your beautiful house to me and my young
friend, who has the honour of being your relative, Lady Emily Lake? For some time
her health has seemed to be failing, and she is ordered to spend the winter abroad,
at Pau, or somewhere in the south of France. It is considered highly desirable that
in the meantime she should have as much change as possible; and it occurred to
me, remembering the charming month I passed at your seat, and recalling the fact
that Lady Emily is cousin only once removed to your late most lovely wife, that there
would be no impropriety in writing to ask you whether you could, without
inconvenience, receive us as your guests for a short time. I say us; for the dear girl
has taken such a fancy to unworthy old me, that she almost refuses to set out
without me. Not to be cumbersome either to our friends or ourselves, we shall bring
only our two maids, and a steady old man-servant, who has been in my family for
many years. — I trust you will not hesitate to refuse my request, should I happen to
have made it at an unsuitable season; assured, as you must be, that we cannot
attribute the refusal to any lack of hospitality or friendliness on your part. At all
events, I trust you will excuse what seems — now I have committed it to paper — a
great liberty, I hope not presumption, on mine. I am, my dear Mr. Arnold,
Yours most sincerely,
Hannah Elton.

Hugh refolded the letter, and laid it down without remark. Harry had left the room.
“Isn’t it a bore?” said Euphra.
Hugh answered only by a look. A pause followed.“Who is Mrs. Elton?” he said at last.
“Oh, a good-hearted creature enough. Frightfully prosy.”
“But that is a well-written letter?”
“Oh, yes. She is famed for her letter-writing; and, I believe, practises every morning on a
slate. It is the only thing that redeems her from absolute stupidity.”
Euphra, with her taper fore-finger, tapped the table-cloth impatiently, and shifted back in
her chair, as if struggling with an inward annoyance.
“And what sort of person is Lady Emily?” asked Hugh.
“I have never seen her. Some blue-eyed milk-maid with a title, I suppose. And in a
consumption, too! I presume the dear girl is as religious as the old one. — Good heavens!
what shall we do?” she burst out at length; and, rising from her chair, she paced about the
room hurriedly, but all the time with a gliding kind of footfall, that would have shaken none but
the craziest floor.
“Dear Euphra!” Hugh ventured to say, “never mind. Let us try to make the best of it.”
She stopped in her walk, turned towards him, smiled as if ashamed and delighted at the
same moment, and slid out of the room. Had Euphra been the same all through, she could
hardly have smiled so without being in love with Hugh.
That morning he sought her again in her room. They talked over their versions of Dante.
Hugh’s was certainly the best, for he was more practised in such things than Euphra. He
showed her many faults, which she at once perceived to be faults, and so rose in his
estimation. But at the same time there were individual lines and passages of hers, which he
considered not merely better than the corresponding lines and passages, but better than any
part of his version. This he was delighted to say; and she seemed as delighted that he should
think so. A great part of the morning was spent thus.
“I cannot stay longer,” said Hugh.
“Let us read for an hour, then, after we come up stairs to-night.”
“With more pleasure than I dare to say.”
“But you mean what you do say?”
“You can doubt it no more than myself.”
Yet he did not like Euphra’s making the proposal. No more did he like the flippant, almost
cruel way in which she referred to Lady Emily’s illness. But he put it down to annoyance and
haste — got over it somehow — anyhow; and began to feel that if she were a devil he could
not help loving her, and would not help it if he could. The hope of meeting her alone that night,
gave him spirit and energy with Harry; and the poor boy was more cheery and active than he
had been for some time. He thought his big brother was going to love him again as at the first.
Hugh’s treatment of his pupil might still have seemed kind from another, but Harry felt it a
great change in him.
In the course of the day, Euphra took an opportunity of whispering to him:
“Not in my room — in the library.” I presume she thought it would be more prudent, in
the case of any interruption.
After dinner that evening, Hugh did not go to the drawingroom with Mr. Arnold, but out
into the woods about the house. It was early in the twilight; for now the sun set late. The
month was June; and the even a rich, dreamful, rosy even — the sleep of a gorgeous day. “It
is like the soul of a gracious woman,” thought Hugh, charmed into a lucid interval of passion
by the loveliness of the nature around him. Strange to tell, at that moment, instead of the
hushed gloom of the library, towards which he was hoping and leaning in his soul, there arose
before him the bare, stern, leafless pine-wood — for who can call its foliage leaves? — with
the chilly wind of a northern spring morning blowing through it with a wailing noise of waters;
and beneath a weird fir-tree, lofty, gaunt, and huge, with bare goblin arms, contorted sweepily,
in a strange mingling of the sublime and the grotesque — beneath this fir-tree, Margaret
sitting on one of its twisted roots, the very image of peace, with a face that seemed stilled bythe expected approach of a sacred and unknown gladness; a face that would blossom the
more gloriously because its joy delayed its coming. And above it, the tree shone a “still,”
almost “awful red,” in the level light of the morning.
The vision came and passed, for he did not invite its stay: it rebuked him to the deepest
soul. He strayed in troubled pleasure, restless and dissatisfied. Woods of the richest growth
were around him; heaps on heaps of leaves floating above him like clouds, a trackless
wilderness of airy green, wherein one might wish to dwell for ever, looking down into the vaults
and aisles of the long-ranging boles beneath. But no peace could rest on his face; only, at
best, a false mask, put on to hide the trouble of the unresting heart. Had he been doing his
duty to Harry, his love for Euphra, however unworthy she might be, would not have troubled
him thus.
He came upon an avenue. At the further end the boughs of the old trees, bare of leaves
beneath, met in a perfect pointed arch, across which were barred the lingering colours of the
sunset, transforming the whole into a rich window full of stained glass and complex tracery,
closing up a Gothic aisle in a temple of everlasting worship. A kind of holy calm fell upon him
as he regarded the dim, dying colours; and the spirit of the night, a something that is neither
silence nor sound, and yet is like both, sank into his soul, and made a moment of summer
twilight there. He walked along the avenue for some distance; and then, leaving it, passed on
through the woods. — Suddenly it flashed upon him that he had crossed the Ghost’s Walk. A
slight but cold shudder passed through the region of his heart. Then he laughed at himself,
and, as it were in despite of his own tremor, turned, and crossed yet again the path of the
A spiritual epicure in his pleasures, he would not spoil the effect of the coming meeting,
by seeing Euphra in the drawingroom first: he went to his own study, where he remained till
the hour had nearly arrived. He tried to write some verses. But he found that, although the
lovely form of its own Naiad lay on the brink of the Well of Song, its waters would not flow:
during the sirocco of passion, its springs withdraw into the cool caves of the Life beneath. At
length he rose, too much preoccupied to mind his want of success; and, going down the back
stair, reached the library. There he seated himself, and tried to read by the light of his
chamber-candle. But it was scarcely even an attempt, for every moment he was looking up to
the door by which he expected her to enter.
Suddenly an increase of light warned him that she was in the room. How she had
entered he could not tell. One hand carried her candle, the light of which fell on her pale face,
with its halo of blackness — her hair, which looked like a well of darkness, that threatened to
break from its bonds and overflood the room with a second night, dark enough to blot out that
which was now looking in, treeful and deep, at the uncurtained windows. The other hand was
busy trying to incarcerate a stray tress which had escaped from its net, and made her olive
shoulders look white beside it.
“Let it alone,” said Hugh, “let it be beautiful.”
But she gently repelled the hand he raised to hers, and, though she was forced to put
down her candle first, persisted in confining the refractory tress; then seated herself at the
table, and taking from her pocket the manuscript which Hugh had been criticising in the
morning, unfolded it, and showed him all the passages he had objected to, neatly corrected or
altered. It was wonderfully done for the time she had had. He went over it all with her again,
seated close to her, their faces almost meeting as they followed the lines. They had just
finished it, and were about to commence reading from the original, when Hugh, who missed a
sheet of Euphra’s translation, stooped under the table to look for it. A few moments were
spent in the search, before he discovered that Euphra’s foot was upon it. He begged her to
move a little, but received no reply either by word or act. Looking up in some alarm, he saw
that she was either asleep or in a faint. By an impulse inexplicable to himself at the time, he
went at once to the windows, and drew down the green blinds. When he turned towards heragain, she was reviving or awaking, he could not tell which.
“How stupid of me to go to sleep!” she said. “Let us go on with our reading.”
They had read for about half an hour, when three taps upon one of the windows, slight,
but peculiar, and as if given with the point of a finger, suddenly startled them. Hugh turned at
once towards the windows; but, of course, he could see nothing, having just lowered the
blinds. He turned again towards Euphra. She had a strange wild look; her lips were slightly
parted, and her nostrils wide; her face was rigid, and glimmering pale as death from the cloud
of her black hair.
“What was it?” said Hugh, affected by her fear with the horror of the unknown. But she
made no answer, and continued staring towards one of the windows. He rose and was about
to advance to it, when she caught him by the hand with a grasp of which hers would have
been incapable except under the influence of terror. At that moment a clock in the room
began to strike. It was a slow clock, and went on deliberately, striking one...two...three...till it
had struck twelve. Every stroke was a blow from the hammer of fear, and his heart was the
bell. He could not breathe for dread so long as the awful clock was striking. When it had
ended, they looked at each other again, and Hugh breathed once.
“Euphra!” he sighed.
But she made no answer; she turned her eyes again to one of the windows. They were
both standing. He sought to draw her to him, but she yielded no more than a marble statue.
“I crossed the Ghost’s Walk to-night,” said he, in a hard whisper, scarcely knowing that
he uttered it, till he heard his own words. They seemed to fall upon his ear as if spoken by
some one outside the room. She looked at him once more, and kept looking with a fixed stare.
Gradually her face became less rigid, and her eyes less wild. She could move at last.
“Come, come,” she said, in a hurried whisper. “Let us go — no, no, not that way;” — as
Hugh would have led her towards the private stair — “let us go the front way, by the oak
They went up together. When they reached the door of her room, she said, “Good night,”
without even looking at him, and passed in. Hugh went on, in a state of utter bewilderment, to
his own apartment; shut the door and locked it — a thing he had never done before; lighted
both the candles on his table; and then walked up and down the room, trying, like one aware
that he is dreaming, to come to his real self.
“Pshaw!” he said at last. “It was only a little bird, or a large moth. How odd it is that
darkness can make a fool of one! I am ashamed of myself. I wish I had gone out at the
window, if only to show Euphra I was not afraid, though of course there was nothing to be
As he said this in his mind, — he could not have spoken it aloud, for fear of hearing his
own voice in the solitude, — he went to one of the windows of his sitting-room, which was
nearly over the library, and looked into the wood. — Could it be? — Yes. — He did see
something white, gliding through the wood, away in the direction of the Ghost’s Walk. It
vanished; and he saw it no more.
The morning was far advanced before he could go to bed. When the first light of the
aurora broke the sky, he looked out again; — and the first glimmerings of the morning in the
wood were more dreadful than the deepest darkness of the past night. Possessed by a new
horror, he thought how awful it would be to see a belated ghost, hurrying away in helpless
haste. The spectre would be yet more terrible in the grey light of the coming day, and the
azure breezes of the morning, which to it would be like a new and more fearful death, than
amidst its own homely sepulchral darkness; while the silence all around — silence in light —
could befit only that dread season of loneliness when men are lost in sleep, and ghosts, if they
walk at all, walk in dismay.
But at length fear yielded to sleep, though still he troubled her short reign.
When he awoke, he found it so late, that it was all he could do to get down in time forbreakfast. But so anxious was he not to be later than usual, that he was in the room before
Mr. Arnold made his appearance. Euphra, however, was there before him. She greeted him in
the usual way, quite circumspectly. But she looked troubled. Her face was very pale, and her
eyes were red, as if from sleeplessness or weeping. When her uncle entered, she addressed
him with more gaiety than usual, and he did not perceive that anything was amiss with her.
But the whole of that day she walked as in a reverie, avoiding Hugh two or three times that
they chanced to meet without a third person in the neighbourhood. Once in the forenoon —
when she was generally to be found in her room — he could not refrain from trying to see her.
The change and the mystery were insupportable to him. But when he tapped at her door, no
answer came; and he walked back to Harry, feeling, as if, by an unknown door in his own
soul, he had been shut out of the half of his being. Or rather — a wall seemed to have been
built right before his eyes, which still was there wherever he went.
As to the gliding phantom of the previous night, the day denied it all, telling him it was but
the coinage of his own over-wrought brain, weakened by prolonged tension of the intellect,
and excited by the presence of Euphra at an hour claimed by phantoms when not yielded to
sleep. This was the easiest and most natural way of disposing of the difficulty. The cloud
around Euphra hid the ghost in its skirts.
Although fear in some measure returned with the returning shadows, he yet resolved to
try to get Euphra to meet him again in the library that night. But she never gave him a chance
of even dropping a hint to that purpose. She had not gone out with them in the morning; and
when he followed her into the drawing-room, she was already at the piano. He thought he
might convey his wish without interrupting the music; but as often as he approached her, she
broke, or rather glided, out into song, as if she had been singing in an undertone all the while.
He could not help seeing she did not intend to let him speak to her. But, all the time, whatever
she sang was something she knew he liked; and as often as she spoke to him in the hearing
of her uncle or cousin, it was in a manner peculiarly graceful and simple.
He could not understand her; and was more bewitched, more fascinated than ever, by
seeing her through the folds of the incomprehensible, in which element she had wrapped
herself from his nearer vision. She had always seemed above him — now she seemed miles
away as well; a region of Paradise, into which he was forbidden to enter. Everything about
her, to her handkerchief and her gloves, was haunted by a vague mystery of worshipfulness,
and drew him towards it with wonder and trembling. When they parted for the night, she
shook hands with him with a cool frankness, that put him nearly beside himself with despair;
and when he found himself in his own room, it was some time before he could collect his
thoughts. Having succeeded, however, he resolved, in spite of growing fears, to go to the
library, and see whether it were not possible she might be there. He took up a candle, and
went down the back stair. But when he opened the library door, a gust of wind blew his candle
out; all was darkness within; a sudden horror seized him; and, afraid of yielding to the
inclination to bound up the stair, lest he should go wild with the terror of pursuit, he crept
slowly back, feeling his way to his own room with a determined deliberateness. — Could the
library window have been left open? Else whence the gust of wind?
Next day, and the next, and the next, he fared no better: her behaviour continued the
same; and she allowed him no opportunity of requesting an explanation.
Chapter 12 — A Sunday

A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only
because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without
knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he
holds becomes his heresy.
—Milton, Areopagitica.

At length the expected visitors arrived. Hugh saw nothing of them till they assembled for
dinner. Mrs. Elton was a benevolent old lady — not old enough to give in to being old — rather
tall, and rather stout, in rich widow-costume, whose depth had been moderated by time. Her
kindly grey eyes looked out from a calm face, which seemed to have taken comfort from
loving everybody in a mild and moderate fashion. Lady Emily was a slender girl, rather shy,
with fair hair, and a pale innocent face. She wore a violet dress, which put out her blue eyes.
She showed to no advantage beside the suppressed glow of life which made Euphra look like
a tropical twilight — I am aware there is no such thing, but if there were, it would be just like
Mrs. Elton seemed to have concentrated the motherhood of her nature, which was her
most prominent characteristic, notwithstanding — or perhaps in virtue of — her childlessness,
upon Lady Emily. To her Mrs. Elton was solicitously attentive; and she, on her part, received it
all sweetly and gratefully, taking no umbrage at being treated as more of an invalid than she
Lady Emily ate nothing but chicken, and custard-pudding or rice, all the time she was at
The richer and more seasoned any dish, the more grateful it was to Euphra.
Mr. Arnold was a saddle-of-mutton man.
Hugh preferred roast-beef, but ate anything.
“What sort of a clergyman have you now, Mr. Arnold?” asked Mrs. Elton, at the
“Oh! a very respectable young gentleman, brother to Sir Richard, who has the gift, you
know. A very moderate, excellent clergyman he makes, too!”
“All! but you know, Lady Emily and I” — here she looked at Lady Emily, who smiled and
blushed faintly, “are very dependent on our Sundays, and” —
“We all go to church regularly, I assure you, Mrs. Elton; and of course my carriage shall
be always at your disposal.”
“I was in no doubt about either of those things, indeed, Mr. Arnold. But what sort of a
preacher is he?”
“Ah, well! let me see. — What was the subject of his sermon last Sunday, Euphra, my
“The devil and all his angels,” answered Euphra, with a wicked flash in her eyes.
“Yes, yes; so it was. Oh! I assure you, Mrs. Elton, he is quite a respectable preacher, as
well as clergyman. He is an honour to the cloth.”
Hugh could not help thinking that the tailor should have his due, and that Mr. Arnold gave
it him.
“He is no Puseyite either,” added Mr. Arnold, seeing but not understanding Mrs. Elton’s
baffled expression, “though he does preach once a month in his surplice.”
“I am afraid you will not find him very original, though,” said Hugh, wishing to help the old
“Original!” interposed Mr. Arnold. “Really, I am bound to say I don’t know how the remark
applies. How is a man to be original on a subject that is all laid down in plain print — to use avulgar expression — and has been commented upon for eighteen hundred years and more?”
“Very true, Mr. Arnold,” responded Mrs. Elton. “We don’t want originality, do we? It is
only the gospel we want. Does he preach the gospel?”
“How can he preach anything else? His text is always out of some part of the Bible.”
“I am glad to see you hold by the Inspiration of the Scriptures, Mr. Arnold,” said Mrs.
Elton, chaotically bewildered.
“Good heavens! Madam, what do you mean? Could you for a moment suppose me to be
an atheist? Surely you have not become a student of German Neology?” And Mr. Arnold
smiled a grim smile.
“Not I, indeed!” protested poor Mrs. Elton, moving uneasily in her seat; — “I quite agree
with you, Mr. Arnold.”
“Then you may take my word for it, that you will hear nothing but what is highly orthodox,
and perfectly worthy of a gentleman and a clergyman, from the pulpit of Mr. Penfold. He dined
with us only last week.”
This last assertion was made in an injured tone, just sufficient to curl the tail of the
sentence. After which, what was to be said?
Several vain attempts followed, before a new subject was started, sufficiently
uninteresting to cause, neither from warmth nor stupidity, any danger of dissension, and quite
worthy of being here omitted.
Dinner over, and the ceremony of tea — in Lady Emily’s case, milk and water — having
been observed, the visitors withdrew.
The next day was Sunday. Lady Emily came down stairs in black, which suited her
better. She was a pretty, gentle creature, interesting from her illness, and good, because she
knew no evil, except what she heard of from the pulpit. They walked to church, which was at
no great distance, along a meadow-path paved with flags, some of them worn through by the
heavy shoes of country generations. The church was one of those which are, in some
measure, typical of the Church itself; for it was very old, and would have been very beautiful,
had it not been all plastered over, and whitened to a smooth uniformity of ugliness — the
attempt having been more successful in the case of the type. The open roof had had a French
heaven added to it — I mean a ceiling; and the pillars, which, even if they were not carved —
though it was impossible to come to a conclusion on that point — must yet have been worn
into the beauty of age, had been filled up, and stained with yellow ochre. Even the remnants
of stained glass in some of the windows, were half concealed by modern appliances for the
partial exclusion of the light. The church had fared as Chaucer in the hands of Dryden. So had
the truth, that flickered through the sermon, fared in the hands of the clergyman, or of the
sermon-wright whose manuscript he had bought for eighteen pence — I am told that sermons
are to be procured at that price — on his last visit to London. Having, although a Scotchman,
had an episcopalian education, Hugh could not help rejoicing that not merely the Bible, but the