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confess that I loved Miss Oldcastle.

When young Tom and I entered the room, his grand-
father rose and tottered to meet him. His father made
one step towards him and then hesitated. Of all con-
ditions of the human mind, that of being ashamed of
himself must have been the strangest to Thomas Weir,
The man had never in his life, I believe, done anything
mean or dishonest, and therefore he had had less fre-
quent opportunities than most people of being ashamed
of himself. Hence his fall had been from another pin-
nacle that of pride. When a man thinks it such a fine
thing to have done right, he might almost as well have
done wrong, for it shows he considers right something
extra, not absolutely essential to human existence, not
the life of a man. I call it Thomas Weir's fall ; for
surely to behave in an unfatherly manner to both daugh

T



284 ANNALS OF A QUIET NKIGHBOU RHOOD.

ter and son the one sinful, and therefore needing the
more tenderness the other innocent, and therefore
claiming justification and to do so from pride, and
hurt pride, was fall enough in one history, worse a great
deal than many sins that go by harder names ; for the
world's judgment of wrong does not exactly correspond
with the reality. And now if he was humbled in the
one instance, there would be room to hope he might
become humble in the other. But I had soon to see
that, for a time, his pride, driven from its entrenchment
against his son, only retreated, with all its forces, into
the other against his daughter.

Before a moment had passed, justice overcame so far
that he held out his hand and said :

" Come, Tom, let by-gones be by-gones.' 7

But I stepped between.

" Thomas Weir," 1 said, " I have too great a regard
for you and you know I dare not flatter you to let
you off this way, or rather leave you to think you have
done your duty when you have not done the half of it.
You have done your son a wrong, a great wrong. How
can you claim to be a gentleman I say nothing of be-
ing a Christian, for therein you make no claim how, I
say, can you claim to act like a gentleman, if, having
done a man wrong his being your own son has nothing
to do with the matter one way or other, except that it
ought to make you see your duty more easily having
done him wrong, why don't you beg his pardon, I say,
like a man 1 "

He did not move a step. But young Tom stepped



YOUNO WEIR.



hurriedly forward, and catching his father's hand in both
of his, cried out :

" My father shan't beg my pardon. I beg yours,
father, for everything I ever did to displease you, but
I wasn't to blame in this. I wasn't, indeed."

" Tom, I beg your pardon," said the hard man, over'
come at last. " And now, sir," he added, turning to me,
" will you let by-gones be by-gones between my boy and
me?"

There was just a touch of bitterness in his tone.

" With all my heart," I replied. " But I want just a
word with you in the shop before I go."

" Certainly," he answered, stiffly ; and I bade the old
and the young man good night, and followed him down
stairs.

" Thomas, my friend," I said, when we got into the
shop, laying my hand on his shoulder, " will you after
this say that God has dealt hardly with you ? There 's
a son tor any man God ever made to give thanks for on
his knees ! Thomas, you have a strong sense of fair
play in your heart, and you gire fair play neither to your
own son nor yet to God himself. You close your doors
and brood over your own miseries, and the wrongs
people have done you; whereas, if you would but open
those doors, you might come out into the light of God's
truth, and see that His heart is as clear as sunlight to-
wards you. You won't believe this, and therefore natur-
ally you can't quite believe that there is a God at all :
for, indeed, a being that was not all light would be no
God at all. If you would but let Him teach you, you



286 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

would find your perplexities melt away like the snow in
spring, till you could hardly believe you had ever felt
them. No arguing will convince you of a God ; but let
Him once come in, and all argument will be tenfold
useless to convince you that there is no God. Give
God justice. Try Him as I have said. Good night."

He did not return my farewell with a single word.
But the grasp of his strong rough hand was more earnest
and loving even than usual. I could not see his face,
for it was almost dark ; but, indeed, I felt that it was
better I could not see it.

I went home as peaceful in my heart as the night
whose curtains God had drawn about the earth that it
might sleep till the morrow.




CHAPTER XIV.

MY PUPIL

[LTHOUGH I do happen to know how Miss
Oldcastle fared that night after I left her, the
painful record is not essential to my story.
Besides, I have hitherto recorded only those
things " quorum pars magna" or minima, as the case
may be " fui." There is one exception, old Weir's
story, for the introduction of which my reader cannot yet
see the artistic reason. For whether a story be real in
fact, or only real in meaning, there must always be an
idea, or artistic model in the brain, after which it is fash-
ioned : in the latter case one of invention, in the former
case one of choice.

In the middle of the following week I was returning
from a visit I had paid to Tomkins and his wife, when I
met, in the only street of the village, my good and hon-
oured friend Dr Duncan. Of course I saw him often
and I beg my reader to remember that this is no diary.



288 ANNALS OF A QUIKT NEIGHBOURHOOD.

but only a gathering together of some of the more re-
markable facts of my history, admitting of being ideally
grouped but this time I recall distinctly because the
interview bore upon many things.

" Well, Dr Duncan," I said, " busy as usual fighting
the devil."

" Ah, my dear Mr Walton," returned the doctor and
a kind word from him went a long way into my heait
" I know what you mean. You fight the devil from the
inside, and I fight him from the outside. My chance is
a poor one,"

" It would be, perhaps, if you were confined to outside
remedies. But what an opportunity your profession gives
you of attacking the enemy from the inside as well!
And you have this advantage over us, that no man can
say it belongs to your profession to say such things, and
therefore disregard them."

" Ah, Mr Walton, I have too great a respect for your
profession to dare to interfere with it. The doctor in
' Macbeth,' you know, could

' not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart.'"

" What a memory you have ! But you don't think I
can do that any more than you 1"

" You know the best medicine to give, anyhow. I
wish I always did. But you see we have no theriaca
now."



MY ruriu 289

M Well, we have. For the Lord says, ' Come unto me,
and I will give you rest.' "

" There ! I told you ! That will meet all diseases."
" Strangely now, there comes into my mind a line of
Chaucer, with which I will make a small return for your
quotation from Shakespeare ; you have mentioned the-
riaca ; and I, without thinking of this line, quoted our
Lord's words. Chaucer brings the two together, for the
word triade is merely a corruption of thcriaca, the unfail-
ing cure for every thing.

' Crist, which that is to every harm triacle.' "

" That is delightful : I thank you. And that is in
Chaucer?"

" Yes. In the Man-of-Law's Tale."

" Shall I tell you how I was able to quote so correctly
from Shakespeare? I have just come from referring to
the passage. And I mention that because I want to tell
you what made me think of the passage. I had been to
see poor Catherine Weir. I think she is not long for
this world. She has a bad cough, and I fear her lungs
are going."

" I am concerned to hear that I considered her very
delicate, and am not surprised. But I wish, I do wish,
I had got a little hold of her before, that I might be of
some use to her now. Is she in immediate danger, do
you think?"

" No. I do not think so. l?ut I have no expectation
of her recovery. Very likely she will just live through
the winter and die in the spring. Those patients so



2QO ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

often go as the flowers come ! All her coughing, poor
woman, will not cleanse her stuffed bosom. The perilous
stuff weighs on her heart, as Shakespeare says, as well as
on her lungs."

" Ah, dear ! What is it, doctor, that weighs upon her
heart? Is it shame, or what is it? for she is so uncom-
municative that I hardly know anything at all about her
yet."

" I cannot tell. She has the faculty of silence."

" But do not think I complain that she has not made
me her confessor. I only mean that if she would talk
at all, one would have a chance of knowing something
of the state of her mind, and so might give her some
help."

" Perhaps she will break down all at once, and open
her mind to you. I have not told her she is dying. I
think a medical man ought at least to be quite sure be-
fore he dares to say such a thing. I have known a long
life injured, to human view at least, by the medical ver-
dict in youth of ever imminent death."

" Certainly one has no right to say what God is going
to do with any one till he knows it beyond a doubt.
Illness has its own peculiar mission, independent of any
association with coming death, and may often work bet-
ter when mingled with the hope of life. I mean we must
take care of presumption when we measure God's plans
by our theories. But could you not suggest something,
Doctor Duncan, to guide me in trying to do my duty by
her?"

" I cannot. You see you don't know what she is



MY FUPIL. 391

thinking; and till you know that, I presume you will
agree with me that all is an aim in the dark. How can
I prescribe, without some diagnosis? It is just one of
those few cases in which one would like to have the
authority of the Catholic priests to urge confession with.
I do not think anything will save her life, as we say, but
you have taught some of us to think of the life that be-
longs to the spirit as the life ; and I do believe confes-
sion would do everything for that."

" Yes, if made to God. But I will grant that com-
munication of one's sorrows or even sins to a wise
brother of mankind may help to a deeper confession to
the Father in heaven. But I have no wish for authority
in the matter. Let us see whether the Spirit of God
working in her may not be quite as powerful for a final
illumination of her being as the Jiat confcssio of a priest.
I have no confidence in forcing in the moral or spiritual
garden. A hothouse development must necessarily be
a sickly one, rendering the plant unfit for the normal
life of the open air. Wait. We must not hurry things.
She will periiaps come to me of herself before long
But I will call and inquire after her."

We parted ; and I went at once to Catherine Weir's
shop. She received me much as usual, which was hardly
to be called receiving at all. Perhaps there was a doubt-
ful shadow, not of more cordiality, but of less repulsion
in it. Her eyes were full of a stony brilliance, and the
flame of the fire that was consuming her glowed upon
her cheeks more brightly, I thought, than ever \ but that
might be fancy, occasioned by what the doctor had said



2Q2 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

about her. Her hand trembled, but her demeanour was
perfectly calm.

" I am sorry to hear you are complaining, Miss Weir,"
I said.

" I suppose Dr Duncan told you so, sir. But I am
quite well. I did not send for him. He called of him-
self, and wanted to persuade me I was ill."

I understood that she felt injured by his interference.

" You should attend to his advice, though. He is a
prudent man, and not in the least given to alarming
people without cause."

She returned no answer. So I tried another subject.

" What a fine fellow your brother is ! "

" Yes; he grows very much."

" Has your father found another place for him yet ? "

k ' I don't know. My father never tells me about any
of his doings."

" But don't you go and talk to him, sometimes ? "

" No. He does not care to see me."

" I am going there now : will you come with me 1 "

" Thank you. I never go where I am not wanted."

" But it is not right that father and daughter should
live as you do. Suppose he may not have been so kind
to you as he ought, you should not cherish resentment
against him for it. That only makes matters worse, you
know."

" I never said to human being that he had been un-
kind to me."

" And yet you let every person in the village know it"

"Howl"



MY fUPTI, 9J

Her eye had no longer the stony glitter. It flashed
now.

" You are never seen together. You scarcely speak
when you meet. Neither of you crosses the other's
threshold."

" It is not my fault."

" It is not all your fault, I know. But do you think
you can go to a heaven at last where you will be able
to keep apart from each other, he in his house and you
in your house, without any sign that it was through this
father on earth that you were born into the world which
the Father in heaven redeemed by the gift of His own
Son?"

She was silent ; and, after a pause, I went on.

" I believe, in my heart, that you love your father. I
could not believe otherwise of you. And you will never
be happy till you have made it up with him. Have you
done him no wrong?"

At these words, her face turned white with anger, I
could see all but those spots on her cheek-bones, which
shone out in dreadful contrast to the deathly paleness of
the rest of her face. Then the returning blood surged
violently from her heart, and the red spots were lost in
one crimson glow She opened her lips to speak, but
apparently changing her mind, turned and walked
haughtily out of the shop and closed the door behind
her.

I waited, hoping she would recover herself and re-
turn ; but, after ten minutes had passed, I thought it
better to go away.



294 ANNALS OF A QUIRT NEIGHBOURHOOD.

As I had told her, I was going to her father's shop.
There I was received very differently. There was a cer-
tain softness in the manner of the carpenter which I had
not observed before, with the same heartiness in the
shake of his hand which had accompanied my last
leave-taking. I had purposely allowed ten days to
elapse before I called again, to give time for the un-
pleasant feelings associated with my interference to
vanish. And now I had something in my mind about
young Tom.

" Have you got anything for your boy yet, Thomas ? "

" Not yet, sir. There 's time enough. I don't want
to part with him just yet. There he is, taking his turn
at what 's going. Tom ! "

And from the farther end of the large shop, where I
had not observed him, now approached young Tom, in
a canvas jacket, looking quite like a workman.

" Well, Tom, I am glad to find you can turn your
hand to anything."

" I must be a stupid, sir, if I couldn't handle my
father's tools," returned the lad.

" I don't know that quite. I am not just prepared to
admit it for my own sake. My father is a lawyer, and I
never could read a chapter in one of his books his
tools, you know."

" Perhaps you never tried, sir."

" Indeed, I did ; and no doubt I could have done it
if I had made up my mind to it. But I never felt in-
clined to finish the page. And that reminds me why I
called to-day. Thomas, I know that lad of yours is fond



MY rupiu. 295



of reading. Can you spare him from his work for an
hour or so before breakfast 1"

" To-morrow, sir ?"

" To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow," I an-
swered ; " and there 's Shakespeare for you."

' Of course, sir, whatever you wish," said Thomas,
with a perplexed look, in which pleasure seemed to long
for confirmation, and to be, till that came, afraid to put
its " native semblance on."

" I want to give him some direction in his reading.
When a man is fond of any tools, and can use them, it
is worth while showing him how to use them better."

" Oh, thank you, sir !" exclaimed Tom, his face beam-
ing with delight.

" That is kind of you, sir ! Tom, you 're a made
man !" cried the father.

" So,' 1 I went on, " if you will let him come to me for
an hour every morning, till he gets another place, say
from eight to nine, I will see what I can do for him."

Tom's face was as red with delight as his sister's had
been with anger. And I left the shop somewhat con-
soled for the pain I had given Catherine, which grieved
me without making me sorry that I had occasioned it.

I had intended to try to do something from the
father's side towards a reconciliation with his daughter.
But no sooner had I made up my proposal for Tom
than I saw I had blocked up my own way towards my
more important end. For I could not bear to seem to
offer to bribe him even to allow me to do him good.
Nor would he see that it was for his good and his



296 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

daughter's not at first. The first impression would be
that I had a professional end to gain , that the recon-
ciling of father and daughter was a sort of parish busi-
ness of mine, and that I had smoothed the way to it by
offering a gift an intellectual one, true, but not, there-
fore, the less a gift in the eyes of Thomas, who had a
great respect for books. This was just what would
irritate such a man, and I resolved to say nothing about
it, but bide my time.

When Tom came, I asked him if he had read any of
Wordsworth. For I always give people what I like my-
self, because that must be wherein I can best help them.
I was anxious, too, to find out what he was capable of.
And for this, anything that has more than a surface
meaning will do. I had no doubt about the lad's in-
tellect, and now I wanted to see what there was deeper
than the intellect in him.

He said he had not.

I therefore chose one of Wordsworth's sonnets, not
one of his best by any means, but suitable for my pur-
pose the one entitled, " Composed during a Storm."
This I gave him to read, telling him to let me know
when he considered that he had mastered the meaning
of it, and sat down to my own studies. I remember I
was then reading the Anglo-Saxon Gospels. I think it
was fully half-an-hour before Tom rose and gently
approached my place. I had not been uneasy about
the experiment after ten minutes had passed, and after
that time was doubled, I felt certain of some measure of
success. This may possibly puzzle my reader , but I



MY PUPIL. 397

will explain. It was clear that Tom did not understand
the sonnet at first ; and I was not in the least certain
that he would come to understand it by any exertion of
his intellect, without further experience. But what I
was delighted to be made sure of was that Tom at least
knew that he did not know. For that is the very next
step to knowing. Indeed, it may be said to be a more
valuable gift than the other, being of general applica-
tion; for some quick people will understand many things
very easily, but when they come to a thing that is be-
yond tneir present reach, will fancy they see a mean-
ing in it, or invent one, or even which is far worse
pronounce it nonsense ; and, indeed, show themselves
capable of any device for getting out of the difficulty,
except seeing and confessing to themselves that they are
not able to understand it. Possibly this sonnet might
be beyond Tom now, but, at least, there was great hope
that he saw, or believed, that there must be something
beyond him in it I only hoped that he would not fall
upon some wrong interpretation, seeing he was brooding
over it so long.

"Well, Tom," I said, " have you made it out t"

" I can't say I have, sir. I 'm afraid I "m very stupid,

for I Ve tried hard. I must just ask you to tell me what

it means. But I must tell you one thing, sir : every

time I read it over twenty times, I daresay I thought

1 was lying on my mother's grave, as I lay that terrible

night ; and then at the end there you were standing

over me and saying, ' Can I do anything to help you?'"

1 was struck with astonishment For here, in a won-



298 ANNALS OF A QUIET NK1GHBOU RHOOD.

derful manner, I saw the imagination outrunning the
intellect, and manifesting to the heart what the brain
could not yet understand. It indicated undeveloped
gifts of a far higher nature than those belonging to the
mere power of understanding alone. For there was a
hidden sympathy of the deepest kind between the life
experience of the lad, and the embodiment of such life
experience on the part of the poet. But he went on :

" I am sure, sir, I ought to have been at my prayers,
then, but I wasn't; so I didn't deserve you to come.
But don't you think God is sometimes better to us than
we deserve?"

" He is just everything to us, Tom ; and we don't and
can't deserve anything. Now I will try to explain the
sonnet to you."

I had always had an impulse to teach; not for the
teaching's sake, for that, regarded as the attempt to fill
skulls with knowledge, had always been to me a desolate
dreariness ; but the moment I saw a sign of hunger, an
indication of readiness to receive, I was invariably seized
with a kind of passion for giving. I now proceeded to
explain the sonnet. Having done so. } nearly as well as
I could, Tom said :

" It is very strange, sir; but now that I have heard
you say what the poem means, I feel as if I had known
it all the time, though I could not say it."

Here at least was no common mind. The reader will
not be surprised to hear that the hour before breakfast
extended into two hours after breakfast as well. Nor
did this take up too much of my time, tor the lad was



MY POPIL, 999

capable of doing a great deal for himself under the sense
of help at hand. His father, so far from making any ob-
jection to the arrangement, was delighted with it. Nor
do I believe that the lad did less work in the shop for
it : I learned that he worked regularly till eight o'clock
every night.

Now the good of the arrangement was this : I had the
lad fresh in the morning, clear-headed, with no mists
from the valley of labour to cloud the heights of under-
standing. From the exercise of the mind it was a plea-
sant and relieving change to turn to bodily exertion. I
am certain that he both thought and worked better, be-
cause he both thought and worked. Every literary man
ought to be mechanical (to use a Shakespearean word) as
well. But it would have been quite a different matter,
if he had come to me after the labour of the day. He
would not then have been able to think nearly so well.
But labour, sleep, thought, labour again, seems to me to
be the right order with those who, earning their bread
by the sweat of the brow, would yet remember that man
shall not live by bread alone. Were it possible that our
mechanics could attend the institutions called by their
name in the morning instead of the evening, perhaps we
should not find them so ready to degenerate into places
of mere amusement. I am not objecting to the amuse-
ment ; only to cease to educate in order to amuse is to
degenerate. Amusement is a good and sacred thing ;
but it is not on a par with education ; and, indeed, if it
does not in any way further the growth of the higher
nature, it cannot be called good at all.



3<X> ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

Having exercised him in the analysis of some of the
best portions of our home literature, I mean helped
him to take them to pieces, that, putting them together
again, he might see what kind of things they were for
who could understand a new machine, or find out what
it was meant for, without either actually or in his mind
taking it to pieces ? (which pieces, however, let me re-
mind my reader, are utterly useless, except in their rela-
tion to the whole) I resolved to try something fresh
with him.

At this point I had intended to give my readers a
theory of mine about the teaching and learning of a
language ; and tell them how I had found the trial of
it succeed in the case of Tom Weir. But I think this
would be too much of a digression from the course of
my narrative, and would, besides, be interesting to those
only who had given a good deal of thought to subjects
belonging to education. I will only say, therefore, that,
by the end of three months, my pupil, without knowing
any other Latin author, was able to read any part of the
first book of the JEneid to read it tolerably in measure,
and to enjoy the poetry of it and this not without a
knowledge of the declensions and conjugations. As



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