The Heir of Redclyffe HTML version

Chapter 5
A cloud was o'er my childhood's dream,
I sat in solitude;
I know not how--I know not why,
But round my soul all drearily
There was a silent shroud.
Mrs. Edmonstone was anxious to hear Mr. Lascelle's opinion of his pupil, and in time she
learnt that he thought Sir Guy had very good abilities, and a fair amount of general
information; but that his classical knowledge was far from accurate, and mathematics had
been greatly neglected. He had been encouraged to think his work done when he had
gathered the general meaning of a passage, or translated it into English verse, spirited and
flowing, but often further from the original than he or his tutor could perceive. He had
never been taught to work, at least as other boys study, and great application would be
requisite to bring his attainments to a level with those of far less clever boys educated at a
public school.
Mr. Lascelles told him so at first; but as there were no reflections on his grandfather, or
on Mr. Potts, Guy's lip did not suffer, and he only asked how many hours a day he ought
to read. 'Three,' said Mr. Lascelles, with a due regard to a probable want of habits of
application; but then, remembering how much was undone, he added, that 'it ought to be
four or more, if possible.'
'Four it _shall_ be,' said Guy; 'five if I can.'
His whole strength of will was set to accomplish these four hours, taking them before and
after breakfast, working hard all the morning till the last hour before luncheon, when he
came to read the lectures on poetry with Charles. Here, for the first time, it appeared that
Charles had so entirely ceased to consider him as company, as to domineer over him like
his own family.
Used as Guy had been to an active out-of-doors life, and now turned back to authors he
had read long ago, to fight his way through the construction of their language, not
excusing himself one jot of the difficulty, nor turning aside from one mountain over
which his own efforts could carry him, he found his work as tough and tedious as he
could wish or fear, and by the end of the morning was thoroughly fagged. Then would
have been the refreshing time for recreation in that pleasant idling-place, the Hollywell
drawing-room. Any other time of day would have suited Charles as well for the reading,
but he liked to take the hour at noon, and never perceived that this made all the difference
to his friend of a toil or a pleasure. Now and then Guy gave tremendous yawns; and once
when Charles told him he was very stupid, proposed a different time; but as Charles
objected, he yielded as submissively as the rest of the household were accustomed to do.