A few days passed without anything occurring sufficiently marked for relation. Euphra and he seemed satisfied without meeting in private. Perhaps both were afraid of carrying it too far; at least, too far to keep clear of the risk of discovery, seeing that danger was at present greater than usual. Mr. Arnold continued to be thoroughly attentive to his guests, and became more and more devoted to Lady Emily. There was no saying where it might end; for he was not an old man yet, and Lady Emily appeared to have no special admirers. Arnstead was such an abode, and surrounded with such an estate, as few even of the nobility could call their own. And a reminiscence of his first wife seemed to haunt all Mr. Arnold’s contemplations of Lady Emily, and all his attentions to her. These were delicate in the extreme, evidently bringing out the best life that yet remained in a heart that was almost a fossil. Hugh made some fresh efforts to do his duty by Harry, and so far succeeded, that at least the boy made some progress — evident enough to the moderate expectations of his father. But what helped Harry as much as anything, was the motherly kindness, even tenderness, of good Mrs. Elton, who often had him to sit with her in her own room. To her he generally fled for refuge, when he felt deserted and lonely.
Materialism alias ghost-hunting.
Wie der Mond sich leuchtend dranget
Durch den dunkeln Wolkenflor,
Also taucht aus dunkeln Zeiten
Mir ein lichtes Bild hervor.
As the moon her face advances
Through the darkened cloudy veil;
So, from darkened times arising,
Dawns on me a vision pale.
In consequence of what Euphra had caused him to believe without saying it, Hugh felt more friendly towards his new acquaintance; and happening — on his side at least it did happen — to meet him a few days after, walking in the neighbourhood, he joined him in a stroll. Mr. Arnold met them on horseback, and invited Von Funkelstein to dine with them that evening, to which he willingly consented. It was noticeable that no sooner was the count within the doors of Arnstead House, than he behaved with cordiality to every one of the company except Hugh. With him he made no approach to familiarity of any kind, treating him, on the contrary, with studious politeness.
In the course of the dinner, Mr. Arnold said:
“It is curious, Herr von Funkelstein, how often, if you meet with something new to you, you fall in with it again almost immediately. I found an article on Biology in the newspaper, the very day after our conversation on the subject. But absurd as the whole thing is, it is quite surpassed by a letter in to-day’s Times about spirit-rapping and mediums, and what not!”
This observation of the host at once opened the whole question of those physico-psychological phenomena to which the name of spiritualism has been so absurdly applied. Mr. Arnold was profound in his contempt of the whole system, if not very profound in his arguments against it. Every one had something to remark in opposition to the notions which were so rapidly gaining ground in the country, except Funkelstein, who maintained a rigid silence.