But I am putting the boy’s feelings into forms and words for him. He had none of either for them.
When the mind’s free,
The body’s delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there.
While Harry took to wandering abroad in the afternoon sun, Hugh, on the contrary, found the bright weather so distasteful to him, that he generally trifled away his afternoons with some old romance in the dark library, or lay on the couch in his study, listless and suffering. He could neither read nor write. What he felt he must do he did; but nothing more.
One day, about noon, the weather began to change. In the afternoon it grew dark; and Hugh, going to the window, perceived with delight — the first he had experienced for many days — that a great thunder-storm was at hand. Harry was rather frightened; but under his fear, there evidently lay a deep delight. The storm came nearer and nearer; till at length a vivid flash broke from the mass of darkness over the woods, lasted for one brilliant moment, and vanished. The thunder followed, like a pursuing wild beast, close on the traces of the vanishing light; as if the darkness were hunting the light from the earth, and bellowing with rage that it could not overtake and annihilate it. Without the usual prelude of a few great drops, the rain poured at once, in continuous streams, from the dense canopy overhead; and in a few moments there were six inches of water all round the house, which the force of the falling streams made to foam, and fume, and flash like a seething torrent. Harry had crept close to Hugh, who stood looking out of the window; and as if the convulsion of the elements had begun to clear the spiritual and moral, as well as the physical atmosphere, Hugh looked down on the boy kindly, and put his arm round his shoulders. Harry nestled closer, and wished it would thunder for ever. But longing to hear his tutor’s voice, he ventured to speak, looking up to his face:
“Euphra says it is only electricity, Mr. Sutherland. What is that?”
A common tutor would have seized the opportunity of explaining what he knew of the laws and operations of electricity. But Hugh had been long enough a pupil of David to feel that to talk at such a time of anything in nature but God, would be to do the boy a serious wrong. One capable of so doing would, in the presence of the Saviour himself, speculate on the nature of his own faith; or upon the death of his child, seize the opportunity of lecturing on anatomy. But before Hugh could make any reply, a flash, almost invisible from excess of light, was accompanied rather than followed by a roar that made the house shake; and in a moment more the room was filled with the terrified household, which, by an unreasoning impulse, rushed to the neighbourhood of him who was considered the strongest. — Mr. Arnold was not at home.