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   Chapter 11 THE NEW SCHOOLING.

Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 13517

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Without a word, Mr. Simon opened a drawer, and taking from it about a score of leaves of paper, handed one of them to Cosmo. Upon it, in print, was a stanza-one, and no more.

"Read that," he said, with a glance that showed through his eyes the light burning inside him, "and tell me if you understand it. I don't want you to ponder over it, but to say at a reading whether you know what it means."

Cosmo obeyed and read.

"I dinna mak heid nor tail o' 't, sir," he answered, looking over the top of the paper like a prisoned sheep.

Mr. Simon took it from him, and handed him another.

"Try that," he said.

Cosmo read, put his hand to his head, and looked troubled. "Don't distress yourself," said Mr. Simon. "The thing is of no consequence for judgment; it is only for discovery."

The remark conveyed but little consolation to the pupil, who would gladly have stood well in his own eyes before his new master.

One after another Mr. Simon handed him the papers he held. About the fifth or sixth, Cosmo exclaimed,

"I do understand that, sir."

"Very well," returned Mr. Simon, without showing any special satisfaction, and immediately handed him another.

This was again a non-luminous body, and indeed cast a shadow over the face of the embryo student. One by one Mr. Simon handed him all he held. Out of the score there were three Cosmo said he understood, and four he thought he should understand if he were allowed to read them over two or three times. But Mr. Simon laid them all together again, and back into the drawer.

"Now I shall know what I am about," he said. "Tell me what you have been doing at school."

Were my book a treatise on education, it might be worth while to give some account of Peter Simon's ways of furthering human growth. But intellectual development is not my main business or interest, and I mean to say little more concerning Cosmo's than that, after about six weeks' work, the boy one day begged Mr. Simon to let him look at those papers again, and found to his delight that he understood all but three or four of them.

That first day, Mr. Simon gave him an ode of Horace, and a poem by Wordsworth to copy-telling him to put in every point as it was in the book exactly, but to note any improvement he thought might be made in the pointing. He told him also to look whether he could see any resemblance between the two poems.

As he sat surrounded by the many books, Cosmo felt as if he were in the heart of a cloud of witnesses.

That first day was sufficient to make the heart of the boy cleave to his new master. For one thing Mr. Simon always, in anything done, took note first of the things that pleased him, and only after that proceeded to remark on the faults-most of which he treated as imperfections, letting Cosmo see plainly that he understood how he had come to go wrong.

Such an education as Mr. Simon was thus attempting with Cosmo, is hardly to be given to more than one at a time; and indeed there are not a great many boys on whom it would be much better than lost labour. Cosmo, however, was now almost as eager to go to his lessons, as before to spend a holiday. Mr. Simon never gave him anything to do at home, heartily believing it the imperative duty of a teacher to leave room for the scholar to grow after the fashion in which he is made, and that what a boy does by himself is of greater import than what he does with any master. Such leisure may indeed be of comparatively small consequence with regard to the multitude of boys, but it is absolutely necessary wherever one is born with his individuality so far determined, as to be on the point of beginning to develop itself. When Cosmo therefore went home, he read or wrote what he pleased, wandered about at his will, and dreamed to his heart's content. Nor was it long before he discovered that his dreams themselves were becoming of greater import to him-that they also were being influenced by Mr. Simon. And there were other witnesses there, quite as silent as those around him in the library, and more unseen, who would not remain speechless or invisible always.

One day Cosmo came late, and to say there were traces of tears on his cheeks would hardly be correct, for his eyes were swollen with weeping. His master looked at him almost wistfully, but said nothing until he had settled for a while to his work, and was a little composed. He asked him then what was amiss, and the boy told him. To most boys it would have seemed small ground for such heart-breaking sorrow.

Amongst the horses on the farm, was a certain small mare, which, although she worked as hard as any, was yet an excellent one to ride, and Cosmo, as often as there was not much work doing, rode her where he would, and boy and mare were much attached to each other. Sometimes he would have her every day for several weeks, and that would be in the prime of the summer weather, when the harvest was drawing nigh, and the school had its long yearly holiday. Summer, the harvest-"play," and Linty!-oh, large bliss! my heart swells at the thought. They would be out for hours together, perhaps not far from home all the time-on the top of a hill it might be, whence Cosmo could see when he would the castle below. There, the whole sleepy afternoon, he would lie in the heather, with Linty, the mare, feeding amongst it, ready to come at his call, receive him on her back, and carry him where he would!

But alas! though supple and active, Linty was old, and the day could not be distant when they must part company: she was then nine and twenty. And now-the night before, she had been taken ill: there was a disease about amongst the horses. The men had been up with her all night, and Grizzie too: she had fetched her own pillow and put under her head, then sat by it for hours. When Cosmo left, she was a little better, but great fears were entertained as to the possibility of her recovery.

"She's sae terrible aul'! ye see, sir," said Cosmo, as he ended his tale of woe, and burst out crying afresh.

"Cosmo," said Mr. Simon,-and to a southern ear the issuing of such sweet solemn thoughts in such rough northern speech, might have seemed strange, though, to be sure, the vowels were finely sonorous if the consonants were harsh,-"Cosmo, your heart is faithful to your mare, but is it equally faithful to him that made your mare?"

"I ken it's his wull," answered Cosmo:-his master never took notice whether he spoke in broad Scotch or bastard English-"I ken mears maun dee, but eh! SHE was sic a guid ane!-Sir! I canna bide it."

"Ye ken wha sits by the deein' sparrow?" said Mr. Simon, himself taking to the dialect. "Cosmo there was a better nor Grizzie, an' nearer to Linty a' the lang nicht. Things warn

a gangin' sae ill wi' her as ye thoucht. Life's an awfu' mystery, Cosmo, but it's jist the ae thing the maker o' 't can haud nearest til, for it's nearest til himsel' i' the mak o' 't.-Fowk may tell me," he went on, more now as if he were talking to himself than to the boy, "'at I sud content mysel' wi' what I see an' hear, an' lat alane sic eeseless speculations! wi' deein' men an' mears a' aboot me, hoo can I! They're onything but eeseless to me, for gien I had naething but what I see an' hear, gran' an' bonny as a heap o' 't is, I wad jist smore for want o' room."

"But what's the guid o' 't a', whan I'll never see her again?" sobbed Cosmo.

"Wha says sic a thing, laddie?"

"A' body," answered Cosmo, a good deal astonished at the question.

"Maister A' body has a heap o' the gawk in him yet, Cosmo," replied his master. "Infac' he's scarce mair nor an infant yet, though he wull speyk as gien the haill universe o' wisdom an' knowledge war open til 'im! There's no a word o' the kin' i' the haill Bible, nor i' the hert o' man-nor i' the hert o' the Maker, do I, i' the hert o' me, believe Cosmo, can YE believe 'at that wee bit foal o' an ass 'at carriet the maister o' 's, a' alang yon hill-road frae Bethany to Jerus'lem, cam to sic an ill hin 'er en' as to be forgotten by him he cairriet? No more can I believe that jist 'cause it carriet him it was ae hair better luiket efter nor ony ither bit assie foalt i' the lan' o' Isr'el."

"The disciples micht hae min't it til the cratur, an' liukit efter him for't," suggested Cosmo. His master looked pleased.

"They could but work the will o' him that made the ass," he said, "an does the best for a' thing an' a' body. Na, na, my son! gien I hae ony pooer to read the trowth o' things, the life 'at's gien is no taen; an' whatever come o' the cratur, the love it waukent in a human breist,'ill no more be lost than the objec' o' the same. That a thing can love an' be loved-an' that's yer bonnie mearie, Cosmo-is jist a' ane to savin' 'at it's immortal, for God is love, an' whatever partakes o' the essence o' God canna dee, but maun gang on livin' till it please him to say haud, an' that he'll never say."

By this time the face of the man was glowing like an altar on which had descended the fire of the highest heaven. His confidence entered the heart of Cosmo, and when the master ceased, he turned, with a sigh of gladness and relief, to his work, and wept no more. The possible entrance of Linty to an enlarged existence, widened the whole heaven of his conscious being; the well-spring of personal life within him seemed to rush forth in mighty volume; and through that grief and its consolation, the boy made a great stride towards manhood.

One day in the first week of his new schooling, Cosmo took occasion to mention Aggie's difficulty with her algebra, and her anxiety to find whether it was true that a girl could do as well as a boy. Mr. Simon was much interested, and with the instinct of the true hunter, whose business it is to hunt death for the sake of life, began to think whether here might not be another prepared to receive. He knew her father well, but had made no acquaintance with Agnes yet, who indeed was not a little afraid of him, for he looked as if he were always thinking about things nobody else knew of, although, in common with every woman who saw it, she did find his smile reassuring. No doubt the peculiar feeling of the neighbours concerning him had caused her involuntarily to associate with him the idea of something "no canny." Not the less, when she heard from Cosmo what sort of man his new master was, would she have given all she possessed to learn of him. And before long, she had her chance. Old Dorothy, Mr. Simon's servant and housekeeper was one day taken ill, and Cosmo mentioning the fact in Aggie's hearing, she ran, with a mere word to her mother, and not a moments' cogitation, to offer her assistance till she was better.

It turned out that "auld Dorty," as the neighbours called her, not without some hint askance at the quality of her temper, was not very seriously ailing, yet sufficiently so to accept a little help for the rougher work of the house; and while Aggie was on her knees washing the slabs of the passage that led through to the back door, the master, as she always called him now that Cosmo was his pupil, happened to come from his room, and saw and addressed her. She rose in haste, mechanically drying her hands in her apron.

"How's the algebra getting on, Agnes?" he said.

"Naething's gettin' on verra weel sin' maister Cosmo gaed frae the schuil, sir. I dinna seem to hae the hert for the learnin' 'at I had sae lang as he was there, sae far aheid o' me, but no a'thegither oot 'o my sicht, like.-It soon's a conceitit kin' o' a thing to say, but I'm no meanin' onything o' that natur', sir."

"I understand you very well, Agnes," returned the master. "Would you like to have some lessons with me? I don't say along with Cosmo; you would hardly be able for that at present, I fancy-but at such times as you could manage to come-odd times, when you were not wanted."

"There's naething upo' the airth, sir," said Aggie, "'at I wad like half sae weel. Thae jist a kin' o' a hoonger upo' me forun'erstan'in' things. Its frae bein' sae muckle wi' Maister Cosmo, I'm thinkin'-ever sin' he was a bairn, ye ken, sir; for bein' twa year aul'er nor him, I was a kin' o' a wee nursie til him; an' ever sin' syne we hae had nae secrets frae ane anither; an' ye ken what he's like-aye wantin' to win at the boddom o' things, an' that's infeckit me, sae 'at I canna rist whan I see onybody un'erstan'in' a thing, till I set aboot gettin' a grip o' 't mysel'."

"A very good infection to take, Agnes," replied the master, with a smile of thorough pleasure, "and one that will do more for you than the cow-pox. Come to me as often as you can-and as you like. I think I shall be able to tell you some things to make you happier."

"'Deed, sir. I'm in no want o' happiness! O' that I hae full mair nor I deserve; but I want a heap for a' that. I canna say what it is, for the hoonger is for what I haena."

"Another of God's children!" said the master to himself, "and full of the groanings of the spirit! The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them."

He often quoted scripture as the people of the New Testament did-not much minding the original application of the words. Those that are filled with the spirit, have always taken liberties with the letter.

That very evening before she went home, they had a talk about algebra, and several other things. Agnes went no more to school, but almost every day to see the master, avoiding the hours when Cosmo would be there.

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