“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 afraid.”
“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 sit there 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.
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.