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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWarlock O' Glenwarlock: A Homely Romance - Chapter 24. A Tutorship
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Warlock O' Glenwarlock: A Homely Romance - Chapter 24. A Tutorship Post by :AdrianMansilla Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :1281

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Warlock O' Glenwarlock: A Homely Romance - Chapter 24. A Tutorship

CHAPTER XXIV. A TUTORSHIP

It cannot but be an unpleasant change for a youth, to pass from a house and lands where he is son--ah, how much better than master! and take a subordinate position in another; but the discipline is invaluable. To meet what but for dignity would be humiliation, to do one's work in spite of misunderstanding, and accept one's position thoroughly, entrenching it with recognized duty, is no easy matter. As to how Cosmo stood this ordeal of honesty, I will only say that he never gave up trying to do better.

His great delight and consolation were his father's letters, which he treasured as if they had been a lover's, as indeed they were in a much deeper and truer sense than most love-letters. The two wrote regularly, and shared their best and deepest with each other. The letters also of Mr. Simon did much to uplift him, and enable him to endure and strive.

Nobody knows what the relation of father and son may yet come to. Those who accept the Christian revelation are bound to recognize that there must be in it depths infinite, ages off being fathomed yet. For is it not a reproduction in small of the loftiest mystery in human ken--that of the infinite Father and infinite Son? If man be made in the image of God, then is the human fatherhood and sonship the image of the eternal relation between God and Jesus.

One happy thing was that he had a good deal of time to himself. He set his face against being with the children beyond school hours, telling their parents it would be impossible for him otherwise to do his work with that freshness which was as desirable for them as for him.

The situation his friends of the university had succeeded in finding for him, was in the south of Scotland, almost on the borders. His employers were neither pleasant nor interesting--but more from stupidity than anything worse. Had they had some knowledge of Cosmo's history, they would have taken pains to be agreeable to him, for, having themselves nothing else, they made much of birth and family. But Cosmo had no desire to come nearer where it was impossible to be near, and was content with what they accorded him as a poor student and careful teacher. They lived in the quietest way; for the heir of the house, by a former marriage, was a bad subject, and kept them drained of more than the superfluous money about the place.

Cosmo remained with them two years, and during that time did not go home, for so there was the more money to send; but as he entered his third year, he began to feel life growing heavy upon him, and longed unspeakably after his father.

One day, the last of the first quarter, Mr. Baird sent a message, desiring his presence, and with some hesitation and difficulty informed him that, because of certain circumstances over which unhappily he had no control, he was compelled to dispense with his services. He regretted the necessity much, he said, for the children were doing well with him. He would always be glad to hear from him, and know that he was getting on. A little indignant, for his father's sake more than his own, Cosmo remarked that it was customary, he believed, to give a tutor a quarter's notice, which brought the reply, that nothing would please Mr. Baird better than that he should remain another quarter--if it was any convenience to him; but he had had great misfortunes within the last month, and had no choice but beg him to excuse some delay in the payment of his quarter's salary now due. In these circumstances he had thought it the kindest thing to let him look out for another situation.

Hearing this, Cosmo was sorry, and said what he could to make the trouble, so far as he was concerned, weigh lightly. He did not know that what he had fairly earned went to save a rascal from the punishment he deserved--the best thing man could give him. Mr. Baird judged it more for the honour of his family to come betweenthe wicked and his deserts, than to pay the workman his wages. Of that money Cosmo never received a farthing. The worst of it to to him was, that he had almost come to the bottom of his purse--had not nearly enough to take him home.

(Illustration)

He went to his room in no small perplexity. He could not, would not trouble his father. There are not a few sons, I think, who would be more considerate, were they trusted like Cosmo from the first, and allowed to know thoroughly the circumstances of their parents. The sooner mutual confidence is initiated the better. A servant knocked at the door, and, true to the day, came the expected letter from his father--this time enclosing one from Lady Joan.

The Warlocks and she had never had sight of each other since the dreary day she left them, but they had never lost hearing of each other. Lady Joan retained a lively remembrance of her visit, and to both father and son the occasional letter from her was a rare pleasure. Some impression of the dignity and end of life had been left with Joan from their influences, old man as was the one, and child as was the other; and to the imagination of Cosmo she was still the type of all beauty--such as his boyish eyes had seen her, and his boyish heart received her. But from her letters seemed to issue to the inner ear of the laird a tone of oppression for which they gave him no means of accounting; while she said so little concerning her outward circumstances, hardly ever even alluding to her brother, that he could not but fear things did not go well with her at home. The one he had now sent was even sad, and had so touched his heart, that in his own he suggested the idea of Cosmo's paying her a visit in his coming holidays. It might comfort her a little, he said, to see one who cared so much, though he could do so little for her.

Cosmo jumped up, and paced about the room. What better could he do than go at once! He had not known what to do next, and here was direction! He was much more likely to find a situation in England than in Scotland! And for his travelling expenses, he knew well how to make a little go a great way! He wrote therefore to his father telling him what had occurred, and saying he would go at once. The moment he had dispatched his letter, he set about his preparations. Like a bird the door of whose cage had been opened, he could hardly endure his captivity one instant longer. To write and wait a reply from Joan was simply impossible. He must start the very next morning. Alas, he had no wings either real or symbolic, and must foot it! It would take him days to reach Yorkshire, on the northern border of which she lived, but the idea of such a journey, with such a goal before him, not to mention absolute release from books and boys, was entrancing. To set out free, to walk on and on for days, not knowing what next would appear at any turn of the road--it was like reading a story that came to life as you read it! And then in the last chapter of it to arrive at the loveliest lady in the world, the same whose form and face mingled with his every day-dream--it was a chain of gold with a sapphire at the end of it--a flowery path to the gate of heaven!

That night he took his leave of the family, to start early in the morning. The father and mother were plainly sorry; the children looked grave, and one of them cried. He wrote to Mr. Baird once after, but had no answer--nor ever heard anything of them but that they had to part with everything, and retire into poverty. It was a lovely spring morning when with his stick and his knapsack he set out, his heart as light as that of the sky-lark that seemed for a long way to accompany him. It was one after another of them that took up the song of his heart and made it audible to his ears. Better convoy in such mood no man could desire. He walked twenty miles that day for a beginning, and slept in a little village, whose cocks that woke him in the morning seemed all to have throats of silver, and hearts of golden light. He increased his distance walked every day, and felt as if he could go on so for years.

But before he reached his destination, what people call a misfortune befell him. I do not myself believe there is any misfortune; what men call such is merely the shadow-side of a good.

He had one day passed through a lovely country, and in the evening found himself upon a dreary moorland. As night overtook him, it came on to rain, and grew very cold. He resolved therefore to seek shelter at the first house he came to; and just ere it was quite dark, arrived at some not very inviting abodes on the brow of the descent from the moor, the first of which was an inn. The landlady received him, and made him as comfortable as she could, but as he did not find his quarters to his taste, he rose even earlier than he had intended, and started in a pouring rain. He had paid his bill the night before, intending to break his fast at the first shop where he could buy a loaf.

The clouds were sweeping along in great gray masses, with yellow lights between, and every now and then they would let the sun look out for a moment, and the valley would send up the loveliest smile from sweetest grass or growing corn, all wet with the rain that made it strong for the sun. He saw a river, and bridges, and houses, and in the distance the ugly chimneys of a manufacturing town. Still it rained and still the sun would shine out. He had grown very hungry before at length he reached a tiny hamlet, and in it a cottage with a window that displayed loaves. He went in, took the largest he saw, and was on the point of tearing a great piece out of it, when he thought, it would be but polite to pay for it first, and put his hand in his pocket. It was well he did so, for in his pocket was no purse! Either it had been stolen at the inn, or he had lost it on the way. He put down the loaf.

"I am very sorry," he said, "but I find I have lost my purse."

The woman looked him in the face with keen enquiring eyes; then apparently satisfied with her scrutiny, smiled, and said,

"Ne'er trouble yoursel', sir. Yo can pey mo as yo coom back. Awhope you 'n lost noan so mich?"

"Not much, but all I had," answered Cosmo. "I am much obliged to you, but I'm not likely ever to be this way again, so I can't accept your kindness. I am sorry to have troubled you, but after all, I have the worst of it," he added, smiling, "for I am very hungry."

(Illustration: COSMO PROPOSES TO WORK FOR HIS DINNER.)

As he spoke, he turned away, and had laid his hand on the latch of the door, when the woman spoke again.

"Tak th' loaf," she said; "it'll be aw the same in less than a hunder year."

She spoke crossly, almost angrily. Cosmo seemed to himself to understand her entirely. Had she looked well-to-do, he would have taken the loaf, promising to send the money; but he could not bring himself to trouble the thoughts of a poor woman, possibly with a large family, to whom the price of such a loaf must be of no small consequence. He thanked her again, but shook his head. The woman looked more angry than before: having constrained herself to give, it was hard to be refused.

"Yo micht tak what's offered yo!" she said.

Cosmo stood thinking: was there any way out of the difficulty? Almost mechanically he began searching his pockets: he had very few THINGS either in his pockets or anywhere else. All his fingers encountered was a penknife too old and worn to represent any value, a stump of cedar-pencil, and an ancient family-seal his father had given him when he left home. This last he took out, glanced at it, felt that only the duty of saving his life could make him part with it, put it back, turned once more, said "Good morning," and left the shop.

He had not gone many steps when he heard the shop-bell ring; the woman came running after him. Her eyes were full of tears. What fountain had been opened, I cannot tell; perhaps only that of sympathy with the hungry youth.

"Tak th' loaf," she said again, but in a very different voice this time, and held it out to him. "Dunnot be vexed with a poor woman. Sometimes hoo dunnot knaw wheer to get the bread for her own."

"That's why I wouldn't take it," rejoined Cosmo. "If I had thought you were well off, I would not have hesitated."

"Oh! aw'm noan so pinched at present," she answered with a smile. "Tak th' loaf, an' welcome, an' pey mo when yo' can."

Cosmo put down her name and address in his pocket-book, and as he took the loaf, kissed the toil-worn hand that gave it him. She uttered a little cry of remonstrance, threw her apron over her head, and went back to the house, sobbing.

The tide rose in Cosmo's heart too, but he left the hamlet eating almost ravenously. Another might have asked himself where dinner was to come from, and spared a portion; but that was not Cosmo's way. He would have given half his loaf to any hungry man he met, but he would not save the half of it in view of a possible need that might never come. Every minute is a to-morrow to the minute that goes before it, and is bound to it by the same duty-roots that make every moment one with eternity; but there is no more occasion to bind minute to minute with the knot-grass of anxiety, than to ruin both to-day and the grand future with the cares of a poor imaginary tomorrow. To-day's duty is the only true provision for to-morrow; and those who are careful about the morrow are but the more likely to bring its troubles upon them by the neglect of duty which care brings. Some say that care for the morrow is what distinguishes the man from the beast; certainly it is one of the many things that distinguish the slave of Nature from the child of God.

Cosmo ate his loaf with as hearty a relish as ever Grizzle's porridge, and that is saying as much for his appetite, if not necessarily for the bread, as words can. He had swallowed it almost before he knew, and felt at first as if he could eat another, but after a drink of water from a well by the road-side, found that he had had enough, and strode on his way, as strong and able as if he had had coffee and eggs and a cutlet, and a dozen things besides.

He was passing the outskirts of the large manufacturing town he had seen in the distance, leaving it on one hand, when he became again aware of the approach of hunger. One of the distinguishing features of Cosmo's character, was a sort of childlike boldness towards his fellow-men; and coming presently to a villa with a smooth-shaven lawn, and seeing a man leaning over the gate that opened from the road, he went up to him and said,

"Do you happen to have anything you want done about the place, sir? I want my dinner and have no money."

The man, one with whom the world seemed to have gone to his wish, looked him all over.

"A fellow like you ought to be ashamed to beg," he said.

"That is precisely what I was not doing," returned Cosmo, "--except as everybody more or less must be a beggar. It is one thing to beg for work, and another to beg for food. I didn't ask you to make a job for me; I asked if there was any work about the place you wanted done. Good morning, sir."

He turned, and the second time that day was stopped as he went.

"I say!--if you can be as sharp with your work min' as you are with your tongue, I don't care if I give you a job. Look here: my coachman left me in a huff this morning, and it was time too, as I find now he is gone. The stable is in a shocking mess: if you clean it out, and set things to rights--but I don't believe you can--I will give you your dinner."

"Very well, sir," returned Cosmo. "I give you warning I'm very hungry; only on the other hand, I don't care what I have to eat."

"Look here," said the man: "your hands look a precious sight more like loafing than work! I don't believe your work will be worth your dinner."

"Then don't give me any," rejoined Cosmo, laughing. "If the proof of the pudding be in the eating, the proof of the stable must be in the cleaning. Let me see the place."

Much pondering what a fellow scouring the country with a decent coat and no money could be, the dweller in the villa led the way to his stable.

In a mess that stable certainly was.

"The new man is coming this evening," said the man, "and I would rather he didn't see things in such a state. He might think anything good enough after this! The rascal took to drink--and that, young man," he added in a monitory tone, "is the end of all things."

"I'll soon set the place to rights," said Cosmo. "Let's see--where shall I find a graip?"

"A grape? what the deuce do you want with grapes in a stable?"

"I forgot where I was, sir," answered Cosmo, laughing. "I am a Scotchman, and so I call things by old-fashioned names. That is what we call a three or four-pronged fork in my country. The word comes from the same root as the German greifen, and our own grip, and gripe, and grope, and grab--and grub too!" he added, "which in the present case is significant."

"Oh, you are a scholar--are you? Then you are either a Scotch gardener on the tramp after a situation, or a young gentleman who has made a bad use of his privileges!"

"Do you found that conclusion on my having no money, or on my readiness to do the first honest piece of work that comes to my hand?" asked Cosmo, who having lighted on a tool to serve his purpose, was already at work. "--But never mind! here goes for a clean stable and a good dinner."

"How do you know your dinner will be good?"

"Because I am so ready for it."

"If you're so sharp set, I don't mind letting you have a snack before you go further," said his employer.

"No, thank you, sir," replied Cosmo; "I am too self-indulgent to enjoy my food before I have finished my work."

"Not a bad way of being self-indulgent, that!" said the man. "--But what puzzles me is, that a young fellow with such good principles should be going about the country like--"

"Like a tinker--would you say, sir--or like Abraham of old when he had no abiding city?"

"You seem to know your Bible too!--Come now, there must be some reason for your being adrift like this!"

"Of course there is, sir; and if I were sure you would believe me, I would tell you enough to make you understand it."

"A cautious Scotchman!"

"Yes. Whatever I told you, you would doubt; therefore I tell you nothing."

"You have been doing something wrong!" said the man.

"You are rude," returned Cosmo quietly, without stopping his work. --"But," he resumed, "were YOU never in any difficulty? Have you always had your pockets full when you were doing right? It is not just to suspect a man because he is poor. The best men have rarely been rich."

Receiving no reply, Cosmo raised his head. The man was gone.

"Somebody has been telling him about me!" he said to himself, and went. For the stable Cosmo was then cleaning out, the horses that lived in it, and the house to which it belonged, were the proceeds of a late judicious failure.

He finished his job, set everything right as far as he could, and going to the kitchen door, requested the master might be invited to inspect his work. But the master only sent orders to the cook to give the young man his dinner, and let him go about his business.

Cosmo ate none the less heartily, for it was his own; and cook and maid were more polite than their master. He thanked them and went his way, and in the strength of that food walked many miles into the night--for now he set no goal before him but the last.

It was a clear, moonless, starry night, cold after the rain, but the easier to walk in. The wind now and then breathed a single breath and ceased; but that breath was piercing. He buttoned his coat, and trudged on. The hours went and went. He could not be far from Cairncarque, and hoped by break of day to be, if not within sight of it, at least within accurate hearing of it.

Midnight was not long past when a pale old moon came up, and looked drearily at him. For some time he had been as if walking in a dream; and now the moon mingled with the dream right strangely. Scarce was she above the hill when an odd-shaped cloud came upon her; and Cosmo's sleep-bewildered eyes saw in the cloud the body and legs of James Gracie's cow, straddling across the poor, withered heel-rind of the moon. Then another cloud, high among the stars, began to drop large drops of rain upon his head. "That's the reid gowd rainin'," he said to himself. He was gradually sinking under the power of invading sleep. Every now and then he would come to himself for the briefest instant, and say he must seek some shelter. The next moment he was asleep again. He had often wondered that horses could get over the road and sleep: here he was doing it himself and not wondering at all! The wind rose, and blew sharp stings of rain in his face, which woke him up a little. He looked about him. Had he been going through a town, who would have taken him in at that time of the midnight-morning? and here he was in a long lane without sign of turning! To him it had neither beginning nor end, like a lane in a dream. It might be a lane in a dream! He could remember feeling overwhelmed with sleep in a dream! Still he did not think he was dreaming: for one thing, he had never been so uncomfortable in a dream!

The lane at last opened on a triangular piece of sward, looking like a village green. In the middle of it stood a great old tree, with a bench round it. He dropped on the bench and was asleep in a moment.

The wind blew, and the rain fell. Cold and discomfort ruled his dim consciousness, but he slept like one of the dead. When the sun rose, it found him at full length on the bare-worn earth at the foot of the tree. But, shining full upon him, it did not for a long time break his sleep. When at last it yielded and he came to himself, it was to the consciousness of a body that was a burden, of a tabernacle that ached as if all its cords were strained, yet all its stakes loosened. With nightmare difficulty he compelled his limbs to raise him, and then was so ill able to govern them, that he staggered like a drunken man, and again and again all but dropped. Such a night's-rest after such a day's-weariness had all but mastered him.

(Illustration: "He dropped on the bench.")

Seeing a pond in the green, he made for it, and having washed his face, felt a little revived. On the other side of the green, he saw a little shop, in the unshuttered window of which was bread. Mechanically he put his hand in his pocket. To his surprise, he found there sixpence: the maid that waited on him at dinner had dropped it in. Rejoiced by the gift, he tried to run, to get some warmth into his limbs, but had no great success. The moment the shop was opened, he spent his sixpence, and learned that he was but about three miles off the end of his journey. He set out again therefore with good courage; but alas! the moment he tried to eat, mouth and throat and all refused their office. He had no recollection of any illness, but this was so unlike his usual self, that he could not help some apprehension. As he walked he got a little better, however, and trudged manfully on. By and by he was able to eat a bit of bread, and felt better still. But as he recovered, he became aware that with fatigue and dirt his appearance must be disreputable in the extreme. How was he to approach Lady Joan in such a plight? If she recognized him at once, he would but be the more ashamed! What could she take him for but a ne'er-do-weel, whose character had given way the moment he left the guardianship of home, and who now came to sponge upon her! And if he should be ill! He would rather lie down and die on the roadside than present himself dirty and ill at Cairncarque!--rather go to the workhouse, than encounter even the momentary danger of such a misunderstanding! These reflections were hardly worthy of the faith he had hitherto shown, but he was not yet perfect, and unproved illness had clouded his judgment.

Coming to a watering-place for horses on the roadside, he sat down by it, and opening his bag, was about to make what little of a toilet was possible to him--was thinking whether he might venture, as it seemed such a lonely road, to change his shirt, when round a near corner came a lady, walking slowly, and reading as she came. It was she! And there he stood without coat or waistcoat! To speak to her thus would be to alarm her! He turned his back, and began to wash in the pool, nor once dared look round. He heard her slowly pass, fancied he heard her stop one step, felt her presence from head to foot, and washed the harder. When he thought she was far enough off, he put on the garments he had removed, and hastened away, drying himself as he went.

At the turn of the road, all at once rose the towers of Cairncarque. There was a castle indeed!--something to call a castle!--with its huge square tower at every corner, and its still huger two towers in the middle of its front, its moat, and the causeway where once had been its drawbridge!--Yes! there were the spikes of the portcullis, sticking down from the top of the gateway, like the long upper teeth of a giant or ogre! That was a real castle--such as he had read of in books, such as he had seen in pictures!

Castle Warlock would go bodily into half a quarter of it--would be swallowed up like a mouthful, and never seen again! Castle Warlock was twice as old--that was something! but why had not Lady Joan told him hundreds of stories about Cairncarque, instead of letting him gabble on about their little place? But she could not love her castle as he did his, for she had no such father in it! That must be what made the difference! That was why she did not care to talk about it! Was he actually going to see her again? and would she be to him the same as before? For him, the years between had vanished; the entrancing shadows of years far away folded him round, and he was no more a man, but the boy who had climbed the wintry hills with her, and run down them again over the snow hand in hand with her. But as he drew nigh the great pile, which grew as he approached it, his heart sank within him. His head began to ache: a strange diffidence seized him; he could not go up to the door. He would not mind, he said to himself, if Joan would be there the moment the door opened. But would any servant in England admit a fellow like him to the presence of a grand lady? How could he walk up to the great door in the guise of one who had all night had his lodging on the cold ground! He would reconnoitre a little, find some quiet way of approaching the house, perhaps discover some shelter where he might rectify what was worst in his personal appearance! He turned away therefore from the front of the castle, and following the road that skirted the dilapidated remnants of fortification, passed several farmlike sheds, and arrived at a door in a brick wall, apparently that of a garden--ancient, and green and gray with lichens. Looking through it with the eyes of his imagination, he saw on the other side the loveliest picture of warmth, order, care, and ancient peace,--regions stately with yews and cedars, fruit-trees and fountains, clean-swept walks and shady alleys. The red wall, mottled and clouded with its lichens, and ruffed with many a thready weed, looked like the reverse of some bit of gorgeous brocade, on the sunny side of which must hang blossoming peaches and pears, nectarines and apricots and apples, on net-like trees, that spread out great obedient arms and multitudinous twigs against it, holding on by it, and drinking in the hot sunshine it gathered behind them. Ah, what it would be to have such a garden at Glenwarlock!

He turned to the door, with difficulty opened it, and the vision vanished. Not a few visions vanish when one takes them for fact, and not for the vision of fact that has to be wrought out with the energy of a God-born life.

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