One summer a young student came to the farm for the harvest. He was apeasant lad, a penniless bursary student at Edinburgh University. In theLong Vacation, he worked at his native farming, reading voraciously allthe time and feeding sparingly, saving his wages against the comingbleak winter in his fireless attic in an Edinburgh wynd. He talked toMarcella, dogmatically, prodigiously, unanswerably. On her legends andfairy-tales and poetry he poured contempt. He read the "Riddle of theUniverse" and the "Kritic of Pure Reason," orating them to Marcella asthey worked together in the harvest field. She did not even understandtheir terminology. He had a quite unreasoning belief in the stolidlyutilitarian of German philosophers and laid siege to Marcella'smysticism, but after he went back one day she discovered a box of hermother's poetry books and so Tennyson, Shelley and Keats shone into herlife and, reading an ancient copy of "David and Bethsaibe," she gatheredthat the Bible Aunt Janet read sourly had quite human possibilities.This box of books was her first glimpse of a world that was not a longtale of stern fights; it was her first glimpse of something softlysensuous instead of austere and natural and passionate.
Marcella felt very small, very helpless. She had a sudden vision of aman dying in an agony of poisoning while she stood frantic in a doctor'slaboratory, antidotes all round her, but no knowledge in her brain ofwhich drug to use. And all the time his agony went on, and death drewnearer. She had not the least idea in the world what to do for LouisFame. He frightened her, he disgusted her, he made her feel hungrilyanxious to help, he made her feel responsible and yet helpless, but atthe same time it mattered and challenged her that he had appealed to herat all. She thought of her father, and remembered with a pang that sheknew nothing about him except superficially. She thought of his books,but nothing in them seemed helpful. She thought of the Bible, of herpoetry, her legends. They were a blur, a mist. Nothing in them held outa hand to hail her. There seemed nothing that she could do. 2b1af7f3a8