Mr. Arnold, however, did not reveal his change of feeling so much by neglect as by ceremony, which, sooner than anything else, builds a wall of separation between those who meet every day. For the oftener they meet, the thicker and the faster are the bricks and mortar of cold politeness, evidently avoided insults, and subjected manifestations of dislike, laid together.
A bird’s-eye view.
O, cocks are crowing a merry midnight,
I wot the wild-fowls are boding day;
Give me my faith and troth again,
And let me fare me on my way.
Sae painfully she clam the wa’,
She clam the wa’ up after him;
Hosen nor shoon upon her feet,
She hadna time to put them on.
Scotch Ballad. — Clerk Saunders.
Dreary days passed. The reports of Euphra were as favourable as the nature of the injury had left room to expect. Still they were but reports: Hugh could not see her, and the days passed drearily. He heard that the swelling was reduced, and that the ankle was found not to be dislocated, but that the bones were considerably injured, and that the final effect upon the use of the parts was doubtful. The pretty foot lay aching in Hugh’s heart. When Harry went to bed, he used to walk out and loiter about the grounds, full of anxious fears and no less anxious hopes. If the night was at all obscure, he would pass, as often as he dared, under Euphra’s window; for all he could have of her now was a few rays from the same light that lighted her chamber. Then he would steal away down the main avenue, and thence watch the same light, whose beams, in that strange play which the intellect will keep up in spite of — yet in association with — the heart, made a photo-materialist of him. For he would now no longer believe in the pulsations of an ethereal medium; but — that the very material rays which enlightened Euphra’s face, whether she waked or slept, stole and filtered through the blind and the gathered shadows, and entered in bodily essence into the mysterious convolutions of his brain, where his soul and heart sought and found them.
When a week had passed, she was so far recovered as to be able to see Mr. Arnold; from whom Hugh heard, in a somewhat reproachful tone, that she was but the wreck of her former self. It was all that Hugh could do to restrain the natural outbreak of his feelings. A fortnight passed, and she saw Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily for a few moments. They would have left before, but had yielded to Mr. Arnold’s entreaty, and were staying till Euphra should be at least able to be carried from her room.
One day, when the visitors were out with Mr. Arnold, Jane brought a message to Hugh, requesting him to walk into Miss Cameron’s room, for she wanted to see him. Hugh felt his heart flutter as if doubting whether to stop at once, or to dash through its confining bars. He rose and followed the maid. He stood over Euphra pale and speechless. She lay before him wasted and wan; her eyes twice their former size, but with half their former light; her fingers long and transparent; and her voice low and feeble. She had just raised herself with difficulty to a sitting posture, and the effort had left her more weary.