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sooner than anything <else, builds a wall of separation
between those who meet every day. For the oftener
they meet, the thicker and the faster are the bricks
and mortar of cold politeness, evidently avoided insults,
and subjected manifestations of dislike, laid together.


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A bird's-eye view.

O, cocks are crowing a merry midnight,

I wot the wild-fowls are boding day ;
Give me my faith and troth again,

And let me fare me on my way.

Sae painfully she clam the wa\

She clam the wa^ up after him ;
Hosen nor shoon upon her feet,

Sl^e hadna time to put them on.

Scotch BdUad.— Clerk Saunders.

Dreary days passed. The reports of Euphra were
as favourable as the nature of the injury had left room
to expect. Still they were but reports: Hugh co'uld
not see her, and the days passed drearily. He heard
that the swelling was reduced, and that the ankle was
found not to be dislocated, but that the bones were
considerably injured, and that the final effect upon
the use of the parts was doubtful. The pretty foot lay
aching in Hugh's heart. When Harry went to bed, he
used to walk out and loiter about the grounds, full of
anxious fears and no less anxious hopes. If the night
was at all obiscure, he would pass, as often as he dared,
under Euphra's window; for all he could have of her
now was a few rays from the same light that lighted
her chamber. Then he would steal away down the
main avenue, and thence watch the same light, whose
beams, in that strange play which the intellect will
keep up in spite of — yet in association with — ^the heart,
made a photo-materialist of him. For he would now
no longer believe in the pulsations of an ethereal me-
dium; but — that the very material rays which enlightened

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Euphra's face, whether she waked or slept, stole and
filtered through the blind and the gathered shadows,
and entered in bodily essence into the mysterious con-
volutions of his brain, where his soul and heart sought
and found them.

When a week had passed, she was so far recovered
as to be able to see Mr. Arnold; from whom Hugh
heard, in a somewhat reproachful tone, that she was
but the wreck of her former self. It was all that Hugh
could do to restrain the natural outbreak of his feelings.
A fortnight passed, and she saw Mrs. Elton and Lady
Emily for a few moments. They would have left
before, but had yielded to Mr. Arnold's entreaty, and
were staying till Euphra should be at least able to be
carried from her room.

One day, when the visitors were out with Mr. Arnold,
Jane brought a message to Hugh, requesting him to
walk into Miss Cameron's room, for she wanted to see
him. Hugh felt his heart flutter as if doubting whether
to stop at once, or to dash through its confining bars.
He rose and followed the maid. He stood over Euphra
pale and speechless. She lay before him wasted and
wan; her eyes twice their former size, but with half
their former light; her fingers long and transparent;
and her voice low and feeble. She had just raised
herself with difficulty to a sitting posture, and the effort
had left her more weary.

"Hugh!" she said, kindly.

"Dear Euphra!" he answered, kissing the little
hand he held in his.

She looked at him for a little while, and the tears
rose in her eyes.

"Hugh, I am a cripple for life."

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"God forbid, Euphra!" was all he could reply.

She shook her head mournfully. Then a strange,
wild look came in her eyes, and grew till it seemed
from them to overflow and cover her whole face with
a troubled expression, which increased to a look of
dull agony.

"What is the matter, dear Euphra?" said Hugh, in
alarm. "Is your foot very painM?"

She made no answer. She was looking fixedly at
his hand.

"Shall I call Jane?"

She shook her head.

"Can I do nothing for you?"

"No," she answered, almost angrily.

"Shall I go, Euphra?"

"Yes— yes. Go."

He left the room instantly. But a sharp though
stifled cry of despair drew him back at a bound.
Euphra had fainted.

He rang the bell for Jane; and lingered till he saw
signs of returning consciousness.

What could this mean? He was more perplexed
with her than ever he had been. Cunning love, how-
ever, soon found a way of explaining it. — A way? —
Twenty ways — not one of them the way.

Next day. Lady Emily brought him a message from
Euphra — not to distress himself about her; it was not
his fault.

This message the bearer of it understood to refer
to the original accident, as the sender of it intended
she should: the receiver interpreted it of the occurrence
of the day before, as the sender likewise intended. It
comforted him.

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A bird's-eye view. 71

It had become almost a habit with Hugh, to ascend
the oak tree in the evening, and sit alone, sometimes
for hours, in the nest he had built for Harry. One
time he took a book with him; another he went with-
out; and now and then Harry accompanied him. But
I have already said, that often after tea, when the house
became oppressive to him from the longing to see
Euphra, he would wander out alone; when, even in
the shadows of the coming night, he would sometimes
climb the nest, and there sit, hearing all that the leaves
whispered about the sleeping birds, without listening
to a word of it, or trying to interpret it by the kindred
sounds of his own inner world, and the tree-talk that
went on there in secret. For the divinity of that inner
world had abandoned it for the present, in pursuit of
an earthly maiden. So its birds were silent, and its
trees trembled not.

An aging moon was feeling her path somewhere
through the heavens; but a thin veil of cloud was
spread like a tent under the hyaline dome where she
walked; so that, instead of a white moon, there was a
great white cloud to enlighten the earth, — a cloud
soaked full of her pale rays. Hugh sat in the oak-nest.
He knew not how long he had been there. Light after
light was extinguished in the house, and still he sat
there brooding, dreaming, in that state of mind in
which to the good, good things come of themselves,
and to the evil, evil things. The nearness of the
Ghost's Walk did not trouble him, for he was too much
concerned about Euphra to fear ^host or demon. His
mind heeded them not, and so was beyond their in-

But while he sat, he became aware of human voices.

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He looked out from his leafy screen, and saw once
more, at the end of the Ghost's Walk, a form clothed
in white. But there were voices of two. He sent his
soul into his ears to listen. A horrible, incredible, im-
possible idea forced itself upon him — ^that the tones
were those of Euphra and Funkelstein. The one
voice was weak and complaining; the other firm and

"It must be some horrible ghost that imitates her,"
he said to himself; for he was nearly crazy at the very

He would see nearer, if only to get rid of that
frightful insinuation of the tempter. He descended
the tree noiselessly. He lost sight of the figure as he
did so. He drew near the place where Jie had seen
it. But there was no sound of voices now to guide
him. As he came within sight of the spot, he saw the
white figure in the arms of another, a man. Her head
was lying on his shoulder. A moment after, she was
lifted in those arms and borne towards the house, —
down the Ghost's Avenue.

A burning agony to be satisfied of his doubts seized
on Hugh. He fled like a deer to the house by another
path; tried, in his suspicion, the library window; found
it open, and was at Euphra's door in a moment. Here
he hesitated. She mtist be inside. * How dare he knock
or enter?

If she was there, she would be asleep. He would
not wake her. There was no time to lose. He would
risk anything, to be rid of this horrible doubt.

He gently opened the door. The night-light was
burning. He thought, at first, that Euphra was in the
bed. He felt like a thief, but he stole nearer. She

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A bird's-eye view. 73

was not there. She was not on the couch. She was
not in the room. Jane was fast asleep in the dressing-
room. It was enough.

He withdrew. He would watch at his door to see
her return, for she must pass his door to reach her
own. He waited a time that seemed hours. At length
— horrible, far more horrible to him than the vision of
the ghost — Euphra crept past him, appearing in the
darkness to crawl along the wall against which she
supported herself, and scarcely suppressing her groans
of pain. She reached her own room, and entering,
closed the door.

Hugh was nearly mad. He rushed down the stair
to the library, and out into the wood. Why or whither
he knew not.

Suddenly he received a blow on the head. It did
not stun him, but he staggered under it. Had he run
against a tree? No. There was the dim bulk of a man
disappearing through the boles. He darted after him.
The man heard his footsteps, stopped, and waited in
silence. As Hugh came up to him, he made a thrust
at him with some weapon. He missed his aim. The
weapon passed through his coat and under his arm.
The next moment, Hugh had wrenched the sword-stick
from him, thrown it away, and grappled with — Funkel-
stein. But strong as Hugh was, the Bohemian was as
strong, and the contest was doubtful. Strange as it .
may seem — in the midst of it, while each held the other
unable to move, the conviction flashed upon Hugh's
mind, that, whoever might have taken Lady Euphrasia's
ring, he was grappling with the thief of his father's.

"Give me my ring," gasped he.

An imprecation of a sufficiently emphatic character

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was the only reply. The Bohemian got one hand loose,
and Hugh heard a sound like the breaking of glass.
Before he could gain any advantage — for his antagonist
seemed for the moment to have concentrated all his
force in the other hand — a wet handkerchief was held
firmly to his face. His fierceness died away; he was
lapt in the vapour of dreams; and his senses de-


But ah I believe me, there is more than so,
That svorks such wondbers in the minds of men ;
I, that have often proved, too well it know ;
And whoso list the like assays to ken,
Shall find by trial, and confess it then,
That beauty is not, as fond men misdeem,
An outward show of things that only s^eml

But ye,. fair dames, the world's dear ornaments.
And lively images of heaven's light,
Lot not your beams with such disparagements]
Be dimmed, and your bright glory darkened quite ;
But, mindful still of your first country's sight.
Do still preserve your first informed grace.
Whose shadow yet shines in your beauteous face.

Spenser. — Symn in Honour of Beauty.

When Hugh came to himself, he was lying, in the
first grey of the dawn, amidst the dews and vapours of
the morning woods. He rose and looked around him.
The Ghost's Walk lay in long silence before him.
Here and there a little bird move and peeped.' The
glory of a new day was climbing up the eastern coast
of heaven. It would be a day of late summer, crowned
with flame, and throbbing with ripening life. But for

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him the spirit was gone out of the world, and it was
nought but a mass of blind, heartless forces.

Possibly, had he overheard the conversation, the
motions only of which he had overseen the preceding
night, he would, although equally perplexed, have
thought more gently of Euphra; but, in the mood into
which even then he must have been thrown, his deeper
feelings towards her could hardly have been different
from what they were now. Although he had often felt
that Euphra was not very good, not a suspicion had
crossed his mind as to what he would have called the
purity of her nature. Like many youths, even of
character inferior to his own, he had the loftiest notions
of feminine grace, and unspottedness in thought and
feeling, not to say action and aim. Now he found that
he h^d loved a woman who would creep from her
chamber, at the cost of great suffering, and almost at
the risk of her life, to meet, in the night and the woods,
a man no better than an assassin — probably a thief.
Had he been more versed in the ways of women, or
in the probabilities of things, he would have judged
that the very extravagance of the action demanded a
deeper explanation than what seemed to lie on the
surface. Yet, although he judged Euphra very hardly
upon those grounds, would he have judged her dif-
ferently had he actually known all? About this I am
left to conjecture alone.

But the effect on Hugh was different from what
the ordinary reader of human nature might anticipate.
Instead of being torn in pieces by storms of jealousy,
all the summer growths of his love were chilled by an
absolute frost of death. A kind of annihilation sank
upon the image of Euphra. There had been no such

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Euphra. She had been but a creation of his own
brain. It was not so much that he ceased to love, as
that the being beloved — not died, but — ceased to exist.
There were moments in which he seemed to love her
still with a wild outcry of passion; but the frenzy soon
vanished in the selfish feeling of his own loss. His
love was not a high one — not such as thine, my Fal-
coner. Thine was love indeed; though its tale is too
good to tell, simply because it is too good to be be-
lieved; and we do men^a wrong sometimes when we
tell them more than they can receive.

Thought, Speculation, Suggestion, crowded upon
each other, till at length his mind sank passive, and
served only as the lists in which the antagonist thoughts
fought a confused battle without herald or umpire*

But it is amazing to think how soon he began to
look back upon his former fascination with a kind of
wondering unbelief. This bespoke the strength of
Hugh's ideal sense, as well as the weakness of his
actual love. He could hardly even recall the feelings
with which, on some well-remembered occasion, he
had regarded her, and which then it had seemed im-
possible he should ever forget. Had he discovered
the cloven foot of a demon under those trailing gar-
ments — he could hardly have ceased to love her more
suddenly or entirely. But there is an aching that is
worse to bear than pain.

I trust my reader will not judge very hardly of
Hugh, because of the change which had thus suddenly
passed upon his feelings. He felt now just as he had
felt on waking in the morning and finding that he had
been in love with a dream-lady all the night: it had
been very delightful, and it was sad that it was all

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Hugh's awaking. 77

gone, and could come back no more. But the won-
der to me is, not that some loves will not stand the
test of absence, but that, their nature being what it is,
they should outlast one week of familiar intercourse.

He mourned bitterly over the loss of those feelings,
for they had been precious to him. But could he help
it? Indeed he could not; for his love had been fasci-
nation; and the fascination having ceased, the love
was gone.

I believe some . of my readers will not need this
apology for Hugh; but will rather admire the facility
with which he rose above a misplaced passion, and
dismissed its object. So do not I. It came of his
having never loved. Had he really loved Euphra, her-
•self, her own self, the living woman who looked at
him out of those eyes, out of that face, such pity would
have blended with the love as would have made it
greater, and permitted no indignation to overwhelm it.
As it was, he was utterly passive and helpless in the
matter. The fault lay in the original weakness that
submitted to be so fascinated; that gave in to it, not-
withstanding the vague expostulations of his better
nature, and the consciousness that he was neglecting
his duty to Harry, in order to please Euphra and enjoy
her society. Had he persisted in doing his duty, it
would at least have kept his mind more healthy, les-
sened the absorption of his passion, and given him
opportunities of reflection, and moments of true per-
ception as to what he was about. But now the spell
was broken at once, and the poor girl had lost a
worshipper. The golden image with the feet of clay
might arise in a prophet's dream, but it could never
abide in such a lover's. Her glance was powerless

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now. Alas, for the withering of such a dream! Per-
haps she deserved nothing else; but our deserts, when
we get them, are sad enough sometimes.

All that day he walked as in a dream of loss. As
for the person whom he had used to call Euphra, she
was removed to a vast distance from him. An ab-
solutely impassable gulf lay between them.

She sent for him. He went to her filled with a
sense of insensibility. She was much worse, and suffer-
ing great pain. Hugh saw at once that she knew that
all was over between them, and that he had seen her
pass his door, or had been in her room, for he had
left her door a little open, and she had left it shut.
One pathetic, most pitiful glance of deprecating entreaty
she fixed upon him, as after a few moments of speech-
less waiting, he turned to leave the room — which would
have remained deathless in his heart, but that he in-
terpreted it to mean: "Don't tell;" so he got rid of it
at once by the grant of its supposed request. She
made no effort to detain him. She turned her face
away, and, hard-hearted, he heard her sob, not as if
her heart would break — that is little — but like an im-
mortal wo;nan in immortal agony, and he did not turn
to comfort her. Perhaps it was better — how could he
comfort her? Some kinds of comfort-r-the only kinds
which poor mortals sometimes have to give — are like
the food on which the patient and the disease live to-
gether; and some griefs are soonest got rid of by
letting them burn out. All the fire-engines in creation
can only prolong the time, and increase the sense of
burning. There is but one cure: the fellow-feeling of
the human God, which converts the agony itself into
the creative fire of a higher life.

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Hugh's awaking. 79

As for von Funkelstein, Hugh comforted himself
with the conviction that they were destined to meet

The day went on, as days will go, unstayed, un-
hastened by the human souls, through which they glide
silent and awful. After such lessons as he was able
to get through with Harry, — who, feeling that his tutor
did not want him, left the room as soon as they were
over — he -threw himself on the couch, and tried to
think. But think he could not. Thoughts passed
through him, but he did not think them. He was
powerless in regard to them. They came and went
of their own will: he could neither say come nor go.
Tired at length of the couch, he got up and paced
about the room for hours. When he came to himself
a little, he found that the sun was nearly setting.
Through the top of a beech-tree taller than the rest, it
sent a golden light, full of the floating shadows of
leaves and branches , upon the wall of his room. But
there was no beauty for him in the going down of the
sun; no glory in the golden light; no message from
dream-land in the flitting and blending and parting,
the constantly dissolving yet ever remaining play of
the lovely and wonderful shadow-leaves. The sun
sank below the beech-top, and was hidden behind a
cloud of green leaves, thick as the wood was deep. A
grey light instead of a golden filled the room. The
change had no interest for him. The pain of a lost
passion tormented him — the aching that came of the
falling together of the ethereal walls of his soul, about
the space where there had been and where there was
no longer a world.
, A young bird flew against the window, and fluttered

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its wings two or three times, vainly seeking to over-
come the unseen obstacle which the glass presented to
its flight. Hugh started and shuddered. Then first
he knew, in the influence of the signs of the approach-
ing darkness, how much his nerves had suffered from
the change that had passed. He took refuge with
Harry. His pupil was now to be his consoler; who in
his turn would fare henceforth the better, for the decay
of Hugh's pleasures. The poor boy was filled with
delight at having his big brother all to himself again;
and worked harder than ever to make the best of his
privileges. For Hugh, it was wonderful how soon his
peace of mind began to return after he gave himself
to his duty, and how soon the clouds of disappoint-
ment descended below the far horizon, leaving the
air clear above and around. Painful thoughts about
Euphra would still present themselves; but instead of
becoming more gentle and sorrowful as the days went
on, they grew more and more severe and unjust and
angry. He even entertained doubts whether she did
not know all about the theft of both rings, for to her
only had he discovered the secret place in the old
desk. If she was capable of what he believed, why
should she not be capable of anything else? It seemed
to him most simple and credible. An impure woman
might just as well be a thief too. — I am only describing
Hugh's feelings.

But along with these feelings and thoughts, of
mingled good zmd bad, came- one feeling which he
needed more than any — repentance* Seated silone upon
a fallen tree one day, the face of poor Harry came
back to him, as he saw it first, poring over Polexander
in the library; and, full of the joy of life himself, not-

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withstanding his past troubles, strong as a sunrise, and
hopeful as a Prometheus, the quivering perplexity of
that sickly little face smote him with a pang. *'What
might I not have done for the boy! He, too, was in
the hands of the enchantress, and, instead of frying
him, I became her slave to enchain him further." Yet,
even in this, he did Euphra injustice; for he had come
to the conclusion that she had laid her plans with the
intention of keeping the boy a dwarf, by giving him
only food for babes, and not good food either, with-
holding from him every stimulus to mental digestion
and consequent hunger; and that she had objects of
her own in doing so — one perhaps, to keep herself
necessary to the boy as she was to the fkther, and so
secure the future. But poor Euphra's own nature and
true education had been sadly neglected. A fine
knowledge of music and Italian , and the development
of a sensuous sympathy with nature, could hardly be
called education. It was not certainly such a develop-
ment of her own nature as would enable her to sym-
pathise with the necessities of a boy's nature. Perhaps
the worst that could justly be said of her behaviour to
Harry was, that, with a strong inclination to despotism,
and some feeling of loneliness, she had exercised the
one upon him in order to alleviate the other in her-
self. Upon him, therefore, shQ expended a certain, or
rather an uncertain kind of affection, which, if it might
have been more fittingly spent upon a lapdog, and was
worth but little, might yet have become worth every-
thing, had she been moderately good.

Hugh did not see Euphra again for more than a

Dmvid Elginhvd, //. 6

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Hey, and the rue grows bonny wi' thyme!

And the thyme it is withered, and rue is in prime.

Be/rain of an old Scotch song, altered by BURirs.

He hath wronged me; indeed he hath ;— at a word, he hath; — beUeve
me ; Robert Shallow, Esquire, saith he is wronged.

Merry Wives of Windsor.

At length, one evening, entering the drawing-
room before dinner, Hugh found Euphra there alotie.
He bowed with embarrassment, and uttered some com-
monplace congratulation on .her recovery. She answered
him gently and coldly. Her whole air and appearance
were signs of acute suffering. She did not make the
slightest approach to their former familiarity, but she
spoke without any embarrassment, like one who had
given herself up, and was, therefore, indifferent. Hugh
could not help feeling as if she knew every thought
that was passing in his mind, and, having withdrawn
herself from him, was watching him with a cold, ghostly
interest. She took his arm to go into the dining-room,
and actually leaned upon it, as, indeed j she was com-

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Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldDavid Elginbrod, Volume 2 → online text (page 5 of 20)