As often as Mr. Arnold was from home, which happened not unfrequently, Miss Cameron accompanied them in their rambles. She gave as her reason for doing so only on such occasions, that she never liked to be out of the way when her uncle might want her. Traces of an inclination to quarrel with Hugh, or even to stand upon her dignity, had all but vanished; and as her vivacity never failed her, as her intellect was always active, and as by the exercise of her will she could enter sympathetically, or appear to enter, into everything, her presence was not in the least a restraint upon them.
On one occasion, when Harry had actually run a little way after a butterfly, Hugh said to her:
“What did you mean, Miss Cameron, by saying you were only a poor relation? You are certainly mistress of the house.”
“On sufferance, yes. But I am only a poor relation. I have no fortune of my own.”
“But Mr. Arnold does not treat you as such.”
“Oh! no. He likes me. He is very kind to me.—He gave me this ring on my last birthday. Is it not a beauty?”
She pulled off her glove and showed a very fine diamond on a finger worthy of the ornament.
“It is more like a gentleman’s, is it not?” she added, drawing it off. “Let me see how it would look on your hand.”
She gave the ring to Hugh; who, laughing, got it with some difficulty just over the first joint of his little finger, and held it up for Euphra to see.
“Ah! I see I cannot ask you to wear it for me,” said she. “I don’t like it myself. I am afraid, however,” she added, with an arch look, “my uncle would not like it either—on your finger. Put it on mine again.”
Holding her hand towards Hugh, she continued:
“It must not be promoted just yet. Besides, I see you have a still better one of your own.”
As Hugh did according to her request, the words sprang to his lips, “There are other ways of wearing a ring than on the finger.” But they did not cross the threshold of speech. Was it the repression of them that caused that strange flutter and slight pain at the heart, which he could not quite understand?
Those lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said, “I hate,”
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that, ever sweet,
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
“I hate” she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who, like a fiend,
From heaven to hell is flown away.
“I hate” from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying—“Not you.”
Mr. Arnold was busy at home for a few days after this, and Hugh and Harry had to go out alone. One day, when the wind was rather cold, they took refuge in the barn; for it was part of Hugh’s especial care that Harry should be rendered hardy, by never being exposed to more than he could bear without a sense of suffering. As soon as the boy began to feel fatigue, or cold, or any other discomfort, his tutor took measures accordingly.