Spielender Unterricht heisst nicht, dem Kinde Anstrengungen ersparen und abnehmen, sondern eine Leidenschaft in ihm erwecken, welche ihm die stärksten aufnöthigt und erleichtert.
JEAN PAUL.--Die Unsichtbare Loge.
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 exertion.
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 face.
"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 reading."
"I could not help it. I was forced to say I would."
"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 everything."
"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 rabbits?"
"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 together.
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 over his 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 outside to 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."