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 myself.|
|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 dark night 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 said:
|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 fun!|
|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.