Part 5 out of 6
set apart and pointed out most particularly to our hero, lest he should
make a mistake and perchance ice the port instead.
After Edward and Dick had gone, Andy commenced operations according to
orders. He brought a large tub up-stairs containing rough ice, which
excited Andy's wonder, for he never had known till now that ice was
preserved for and applied to such a use, for an ice-house did not happen
to be attached to any establishment in which he had served.
"Well, this is the quarest thing I ever heerd of," said Andy. "Musha! what
outlandish inventions the quolity has among them! They're not contint
with wine, but they must have ice along with it--and in a tub, too!
--just like pigs!--throth it's a dirty thrick, I think. Well, here
goes!" said he; and Andy opened a bottle of champagne, and poured
it into the tub with the ice. "How it fizzes!" said Andy, "Faix,
it's almost as lively as the soda-wather that bothered me long ago.
Well, I know more about things now; sure it's wondherful how a man
improves with practice!"--and another bottle of champagne was emptied
into the tub as he spoke. Thus, with several other complacent comments
upon his own proficiency, Andy poured half-a-dozen of champagne into
the tub of ice, and remarked, when he had finished his work, that he
thought it would be "mighty cowld on their stomachs."
Dick and Edward all this time were on their way to the relief of Tom
Durfy, who, though he had cooled down from the boiling-pitch to which the
misadventure of the morning had raised him, was still _simmering_,
with his elbows planted on the rickety table in Mr. Goggins' "bower," and
his chin resting on his clenched hands. It was the very state of mind in
which Tom was most dangerous.
At the other side of the table sat James Reddy, intently employed in
writing; his pursed mouth and knitted brows bespoke a labouring state of
thought, and the various crossings, interlinings, and blottings gave
additional evidence of the same, while now and then a rush at a line which
was knocked off in a hurry, with slashing dashes of the pen, and fierce
after-crossings of _t's_, and determined dottings of _i's_,
declared some thought suddenly seized, and executed with bitter triumph.
"You seem very _happy in yourself_ in what you are writing," said
Tom. "What is it? Is it another epithalamium?"
"It is a caustic article against the successful men of the day,"
said Reddy; "they have no merit, sir--none. 'T is nothing but luck
has placed them where they are, and they ought to be exposed." He
then threw down his pen as he spoke, and, after a silence of some minutes,
suddenly put this question to Tom:
"What do you think of the world?"
"'Faith, I think it so pleasant a place," said Tom, "that I'm confoundedly
vexed at being kept out of it by being locked up here; and that cursed
bailiff is so provokingly free-and-easy--coming in here every ten minutes,
and making himself at home."
"Why, as for that matter, it is his home, you must remember."
"But while a gentleman is here for a period," said Tom, "this room ought
to be considered his, and that fellow has no business here--and then his
bows and scrapes, and talking about the feelings of a gentleman, and all
that--'t is enough to make a dog beat his father. Curse him! I'd like to
"Oh! that's merely his manner," said James.
"Want of manners, you mean," said Tom. "Hang me, if he comes up to me with
his rascally familiarity again, but I'll kick him down stairs."
"My dear fellow, you are excited," said Reddy; "don't let these sublunary
trifles ruffle your temper--you see how I bear it; and to recall you to
yourself, I will remind you of the question we started from, 'What do you
think of the world?' There's a general question--a broad question, upon
which one may talk with temper and soar above the petty grievances of life
in the grand consideration of so ample a subject. You see me here, a
prisoner like yourself, but I can talk of _the world_. Come, be a
calm philosopher, like me! Answer, what do you think of the world?"
"I've told you already," said Tom; "it's a capital place, only for the
"I can't agree with you," said James. "I think it one vast pool of
stagnant wretchedness, where the _malaria_ of injustice holds
her scales suspended, to poison rising talent by giving an undue
weight to existing prejudices."
To this lucid and good-tempered piece of philosophy, Tom could only
answer, "You know I am no poet, and I cannot argue with you but, 'pon my
soul, I _have_ known, and _do_ know, some uncommon good fellows
in the world."
"You're wrong, you're wrong, my unsuspecting friend. 'T is a bad world,
and no place for susceptible minds. Jealousy pursues talent like its
shadow--superiority alone wins for you the hatred of inferior men. For
instance, why am _I_ here? The editor of _my_ paper will not
allow _my_ articles always to appear;--prevents their insertion, lest
the effect they would make would cause inquiry, and tend to _my_
distinction; and the consequence is, that the paper _I_ came to
_uphold_ in Dublin is deprived of _my_ articles, and _I_ don't get paid;
while _I_ see _inferior_ men, without asking for it, loaded with favour;
_they_ are abroad in affluence, and _I_ in captivity and poverty. But
one comfort is, even in disgrace I can write, and they shall get a
Thus spoke the calm philosopher, who gave Tom a lecture on patience.
Tom was no great conjuror; but at that moment, like Audrey, "he thanked
the gods he was not poetical." If there be any one thing more than another
to make an "every-day man" content with his average lot, it is the
exhibition of ambitious inferiority, striving for distinction it can never
attain; just given sufficient perception to desire the glory of success,
without power to measure the strength that can achieve it; like some poor
fly, which beats its head against a pane of glass, seeing the sunshine
beyond, but incapable of perceiving the subtle medium which intervenes--
too delicate for its limited sense to comprehend, but too strong for its
limited power to pass. But though Tom felt satisfaction at that moment, he
had too good feeling to wound the self-love of the vain creature before
him; so, instead of speaking what he thought, viz., "What business have
you to attempt literature, you conceited fool?" he tried to wean him
civilly from his folly by saying, "Then come back to the country, James;
if you find jealous rivals _here_, you know you were always admired
"No, sir," said James; "even there my merit was unacknowledged."
"No! no!" said Tom.
"Well, underrated, at least. Even there, _that_ Edward O'Connor,
somehow or other, I never could tell why--I never saw his great talents--
but somehow or other, people got it into their heads that he was clever."
"I tell you what it is," said Tom, earnestly, "Ned-of-the-Hill has got
into a better place than people's _heads_--he has got into their
"There it is!" exclaimed James, indignantly. "You have caught up the
cuckoo-cry--the heart! Why, sir, what merit is there in writing about
feelings which any common labourer can comprehend? There's no poetry in
that; true poetry lies in a higher sphere, where you have difficulty in
following the flight of the poet, and possibly may not be fortunate enough
to understand him--that's poetry, sir."
"I told you I am no poet," said Tom; "but all I know is, I have felt my
heart warm to some of Edward's songs, and, by jingo, I have seen the
women's eyes glisten, and their cheeks flush or grow pale, as they have
heard them--and that's poetry enough for me."
"Well, let Mister O'Connor enjoy his popularity, sir, if popularity it may
be called, in a small country circle--let him enjoy it--I don't envy him
_his_, though I think he was rather jealous about mine."
"Ned jealous!" exclaimed Tom, in surprise.
"Yes, jealous; I never heard him say a kind word of any verses I
ever wrote in my life; and I am certain he has most unkind feelings
"I tell you what it is," said Tom, "getting up" a bit; "I told you I don't
understand poetry, but I _do_ understand what's an infinitely better
thing, and that's fine, generous, manly feeling; and if there's a human
being in the world incapable of wronging another in his mind or heart, or
readier to help his fellow-man, it is Edward O'Connor: so say no more,
James, if you please."
Tom had scarcely uttered the last word, when the key was turned in the
"Here's that infernal bailiff again!" said Tom, whose irritability,
increased by Reddy's paltry egotism and injustice, was at its boiling-
pitch once more. He planted himself firmly in his chair, and putting on
his fiercest frown, was determined to confront Mister Goggins with an
aspect that should astonish him.
The door opened, and Mister Goggins made his appearance, presenting to the
gentlemen in the room the hinder portion of his person, which made several
indications of courtesy performed by the other half of his body, while he
uttered the words, "Don't be astonished, gentlemen; you'll be used to it
by-and-by." And with these words he kept backing towards Tom, making these
nether demonstrations of civility, till Tom could plainly see the seams in
the back of Mr. Goggins's pantaloons.
Tom thought this was some new touch of the "free-and-easy" on Mister
Goggins's part, and, losing all command of himself, he jumped from his
chair, and with a vigorous kick gave Mister Goggins such a lively
impression of his desire that he should leave the room, that Mister
Goggins went head foremost down the stairs, pitching his whole weight upon
Dick Dawson and Edward O'Connor, who were ascending the dark stairs, and
to whom all his bows had been addressed. Overwhelmed with astonishment
and twelve stone of bailiff, they were thrown back into the hall, and
an immense uproar in the passage ensued.
Edward and Dick were near coming in for some hard usage from Goggins,
conceiving it might be a preconcerted attempt on the part of his prisoners
and their newly arrived friends to achieve a rescue; and while he was
rolling about on the ground, he roared to his evil-visaged janitor to look
to the door first, and keep him from being "murthered" after.
Fortunately no evil consequences ensued, until matters could be explained
in the hall, and Edward and Dick were introduced to the upper room, from
which Goggins had been so suddenly ejected.
There the bailiff demanded in a very angry tone the cause of Tom's
conduct; and when it was found to be _only_ a mutual misunderstanding
--that Goggins wouldn't take a liberty with a gentleman "in defficulties"
for the world, and that Tom wouldn't hurt a fly, "only under a mistake"
--matters were cleared up to the satisfaction of all parties, and
the real business of the meeting commenced:--that was to pay Tom's
debt out of hand; and when the bailiff saw all demands, fees included,
cleared off, the clouds from his brow cleared off also, he was the
most amiable of sheriff's officers, and all his sentimentality returned.
Edward did not seem quite to sympathise with his amiability, so Goggins
returned to the charge, while Tom and Dick were exchanging a few words
with James Reddy.
"You see, sir," said Goggins, "in the first place, it is quite beautiful
to see the mind in adversity bearing up against the little antediluvian
afflictions that will happen occasionally, and then how fine it is to
remark the spark of generosity that kindles in the noble heart and rushes
to the assistance of the destitute! I do assure you, sir, it is a most
beautiful sight to see the gentlemen in defficulties waitin' here
for their friends to come to their relief, like the last scene in
Blue Beard, where sister Ann waves her han'kerchief from the tower
--the tyrant is slain--and virtue rewarded!
"Ah, sir!" said he to Edward O'Connor, whose look of disgust at the
wretched den caught the bailiff's attention, "don't entertain an antifassy
from first imprissions, which is often desaivin'. I do pledge you my
honour, sir, there is no place in the 'varsal world where human nature is
visible in more attractive colours than in this humble retrait."
Edward could not conceal a smile at the fellow's absurdity, though his
sense of the ridiculous could not overcome the disgust with which the
place inspired him. He gave an admonitory touch to the elbow of Dick
Dawson, who, with his friend Tom Durfy, followed Edward from the room, the
bailiff bringing up the rear, and relocking the door on the unfortunate
James Reddy, who was left "alone in his glory," to finish his slashing
article against the successful men of the day. Nothing more than words of
recognition had passed between Reddy and Edward. In the first place,
Edward's appearance at the very moment the other was indulging in
illiberal observations upon him rendered the ill-tempered poetaster dumb;
and Edward attributed this distance of manner to a feeling of shyness
which Reddy might entertain at being seen in such a place, and therefore
had too much good breeding to thrust his civility on a man who seemed to
shrink from it; but when he left the house he expressed his regret to his
companions at the poor fellow's unfortunate situation.
It touched Tom Durfy's heart to hear these expressions of compassion
coming from the lips of the man he had heard maligned a few minutes before
by the very person commiserated, and it raised his opinion higher of
Edward, whose hand he now shook with warm expressions of thankfulness on
his own account, for the prompt service rendered to him. Edward made
as light of his own kindness as he could, and begged Tom to think
nothing of such a trifle.
"One word I will say to you, Durfy, and I'm sure you'll pardon me for it."
"Could you say a thing to offend me?" was the answer.
"You are to be married soon, I understand?"
"To-morrow," said Tom.
"Well, my dear Durfy, if you owe any more money, take a real friend's
advice, and tell your pretty good-hearted widow the whole amount of your
debts before you marry her."
"My dear O'Connor," said Tom, "the money you've lent me now is all I owe
in the world; 't was a tailor's bill, and I quite forgot it. You know, no
one ever thinks of a tailor's bill. Debts, indeed!" added Tom, with
surprise; "my dear fellow, I never could be much in debt, for the devil a
one would trust me."
"An excellent reason for your unencumbered state," said Edward, "and I
hope you pardon me."
"Pardon!" exclaimed Tom, "I esteem you for your kind and manly frankness."
In the course of their progress towards Dick's lodgings, Edward reverted
to James Reddy's wretched condition, and found it was but some petty debt
for which he was arrested. He lamented, in common with Dick and Tom, the
infatuation which made him desert a duty he could profitably perform by
assisting his father in his farming concerns, to pursue a literary path,
which could never be any other to him than one of thorns.
As Edward had engaged to meet Gusty in an hour, he parted from his
companions and pursued his course alone. But, instead of proceeding
immediately homeward, he retraced his steps to the den of the bailiff and
gave a quiet tap at the door. Mister Goggins himself answered to the
knock, and began a loud and florid welcome to Edward, who stopped
his career of eloquence by laying a finger on his lip in token of
silence. A few words sufficed to explain the motive of his visit.
He wished to ascertain the sum for which the gentleman up-stairs
was detained. The bailiff informed him; and the money necessary to
procure the captive's liberty was placed in his hand.
The bailiff cast one of his melodramatic glances at Edward, and said,
"Didn't I tell you, sir, this was the place for calling out the noblest
feelings of human nature?"
"Can you oblige me with writing materials?" said Edward.
"I can, sir," said Goggins, proudly, "and with other _materials_ too,
if you like--and 'pon my honour, I'll be proud to drink your health, for
you're a raal gintleman." [Footnote: The name given in Ireland to the
necessary materials for the compounding of whisky-punch.]
Edward, in the civilest manner, declined the offer, and wrote, or rather
tried to write, the following note, with a pen like a skewer, ink
something thicker than mud, and on whity-brown paper:--
"DEAR SIR,--I hope you will pardon the liberty I have taken in your
temporary want of money. You can repay me at your convenience. Yours,
Edward left the den, and so did James Reddy soon after--a better man.
Though weak, his heart was not shut to the humanities of life--and
Edward's kindness, in opening his eyes to the wrong he had done _one_
man, induced in his heart a kinder feeling towards all. He tore up his
slashing article against successful men. Would that every disappointed man
would do the same.
The bailiff was right: even so low a den as his becomes ennobled by the
presence of active benevolence and prejudice reclaimed.
Edward, on returning to his hotel, found Gusty there before him, in great
delight at having seen a "splendid" horse, as he said, which had been
brought for Edward's inspection, he having written a note on his arrival
in town to a dealer stating his want of a first-rate hunter.
"He's in the stable now," said Gusty; "for I desired the man to wait,
knowing you would be here soon."
"I cannot see him now, Gusty," said Edward: "will you have the kindness to
tell the groom I can look at the horse in his own stables when I wish to
Gusty departed to do the message, somewhat in wonder, for Edward loved a
fine horse. But the truth was, Edward's disposable money, which he had
intended for the purchase of a hunter, had a serious inroad made upon it
by the debts he had discharged for other men, and he was forced to forego
the pleasure he had proposed to himself in the next hunting season; and he
did not like to consume any one's time, or raise false expectations, by
affecting to look at disposable property with the eye of a purchaser, when
he knew it was beyond his reach; and the flimsy common-places of "I'll
think of it," or "If I don't see something better," or any other of the
twenty hackneyed excuses which idle people make, after consuming busy
men's time, Edward held to be unworthy. He could ride a hack and deny
himself hunting for a whole season, but he would not unnecessarily
consume the useful time of any man for ten minutes.
This may be sneered at by the idle and thoughtless; nevertheless, it is a
part of the minor morality which is ever present in the conduct of a true
Edward had promised to join Dick's dinner-party on an impromptu
invitation, and the clock striking the appointed hour warned Edward it was
time to be off; so, jumping up on a jaunting car, he rattled off to Dick's
lodgings, where a jolly party was assembled ripe for fun.
Amongst the guests was a rather remarkable man, a Colonel Crammer, who had
seen a monstrous deal of service--one of Tom Durfy's friends whom he had
asked leave to bring with him to dinner. Of course, Dick's card and a note
of invitation for the gallant colonel were immediately despatched; and he
had but just arrived before Edward, who found a bustling sensation in the
room as the colonel was presented to those already assembled, and Tom
Durfy giving whispers, aside, to each person touching his friend; such as
--"Very remarkable man"--"Seen great service"--"A little odd or so"--"A
fund of most extraordinary anecdote," &c., &c.
Now this Colonel Crammer was no other than Tom Loftus, whose acquaintance
Dick wished to make, and who had been invited to the dinner after a
preliminary visit; but Tom sent an excuse in his own name, and preferred
being present under a fictitious one--this being one of the odd ways in
which his humour broke out, desirous of giving people a "touch of his
quality" before they knew him. He was in the habit of assuming various
characters; a methodist missionary--the patentee of some unheard-of
invention--the director of some new joint-stock company--in short,
anything which would give him an opportunity of telling tremendous
bouncers was equally good for Tom. His reason for assuming a military
guise on this occasion was to bother Moriarty, whom he knew he should
meet, and held a special reason for tormenting; and he knew he could
achieve this, by throwing all the stories Moriarty was fond of telling
about his own service into the shade, by extravagant inventions of
"hair-breadth 'scapes" and feats by "flood and field." Indeed, the dinner
would not be worth mentioning but for the extraordinary capers Tom cut on
the occasion, and the unheard-of lies he squandered.
Dinner was announced by Andy, and with good appetite soup and fish were
soon despatched; sherry followed as a matter of necessity. The second
course appeared, and was not long under discussion when Dick called for
Andy began to drag the tub towards the table, and Dick, impatient of
delay, again called "champagne."
"I'm bringin' it to you, sir," said Andy, tugging at the tub.
"Hand it round the table," said Dick.
Andy tried to lift the tub, "to hand it round the table;" but, finding he
could not manage it, he whispered to Dick, "I can't get it up, sir."
Dick, fancying Andy meant he had got a flask not in a sufficient state of
effervescence to expel its own cork, whispered in return, "Draw it, then."
"I was dhrawin' it to you, sir, when you stopped me."
"Well, make haste with it," said Dick.
"Mister Dawson, I'll trouble you for a small slice of the turkey," said
"With pleasure, colonel; but first do me the honour to take champagne.
"Here it is, sir!" said Andy, who had drawn the tub close to Dick's chair.
"Where's the wine, sir?" said Dick, looking first at the tub and then at
Andy. "There, sir," said Andy, pointing down to the ice. "I put the wine
into it, as you towld me."
Dick looked again at the tub, and said, "There is not a single bottle
there--what do you mean, you stupid rascal?"
"To be sure, there's no bottle there, sir. The bottles is all on the
sideboord, but every dhrop o' the wine is in the ice, as you towld me,
sir; if you put your hand down into it, you'll feel it, sir."
The conversation between master and man growing louder as it proceeded
attracted the attention of the whole company, and those near the head of
the table became acquainted as soon as Dick with the mistake Andy had
made, and could not resist laughter; and as the cause of their merriment
was told from man to man, and passed round the board, a roar of laughter
uprose, not a little increased by Dick's look of vexation, which at length
was forced to yield to the infectious merriment around him, and he laughed
with the rest, and making a joke of the disappointment, which is the very
best way of passing one off, he said that he had the honour of originating
at his table a magnificent scale of hospitality; for though he had heard
of company being entertained with a whole hogshead of claret, he was not
aware of champagne being ever served in a tub before. The company were too
determined to be merry to have their pleasantry put out of tune by so
trifling a mishap, and it was generally voted that the joke was worth
twice as much as the wine. Nevertheless, Dick could not help casting a
reproachful look now and then at Andy, who had to run the gauntlet of many
a joke cut at his expense, while he waited upon the wags at dinner, and
caught a lowly muttered anathema whenever he passed near Dick's chair. In
short, master and man were both glad when the cloth was drawn, and the
party could be left to themselves.
Then, as a matter of course, Dick called on the gentlemen to charge
their glasses and fill high to a toast he had to propose--they would
anticipate to whom he referred--a gentleman who was going to change
his state of freedom for one of a happier bondage, &c., &c. Dick
dashed off his speech with several mirth-moving allusions to the
change that was coming over his friend Tom, and, having festooned his
composition with the proper quantity of "rosy wreaths," &c., &c., &c.,
naturally belonging to such speeches, he wound up with some hearty words--
free from _badinage_, and meaning all they conveyed, and finished
with the rhyming benediction of a "long life and a good wife" to him.
Tom having returned thanks in the same laughing style that Dick proposed
his health, and bade farewell to the lighter follies of bachelorship for
the more serious ones of wedlock, the road was now open for any one who
was vocally inclined. Dick asked one or two, who said they were not within
a bottle of their singing-point yet, but Tom Durfy was sure his friend the
colonel would favour them.
"With pleasure," said the colonel; "and I'll sing something appropriate to
the blissful situation of philandering in which you have been indulging of
late, my friend. I wish I could give you any idea of the song as I heard
it warbled by the voice of an Indian princess, who was attached to me
once, and for whom I ran enormous risks--but no matter--that's past and
gone, but the soft tones of Zulima's voice will ever haunt my heart! The
song is a favourite where I heard it--on the borders of Cashmere, and is
supposed to be sung by a fond woman in the valley of the nightingales--
'tis so in the original, but as we have no nightingales in Ireland, I have
substituted the dove in the little translation I have made, which, if you
will allow me, I'll attempt."
Loud cries of "Hear, hear!" and tapping of applauding hands on the table
followed, while the colonel gave a few preliminary hems; and after some
little pilot tones from his throat, to show the way, his voice ascended
in all the glory of song.
"_Coo! Coo! Coo! Coo!_
Thus did I hear the turtle-dove,
_Coo! Coo! Coo!_
Murmuring forth her love;
And as she flew from tree to tree,
How melting seemed the notes to me--
_Coo! Coo! Coo!_
So like the voice of lovers,
'T was passing sweet to hear
The birds within the covers,
In the spring-time of the year.
"_Coo! Coo! Coo! Coo!_
Thus the song's returned again--
_Coo! Coo! Coo!_
Through the shady glen;
But there I wandered lone and sad,
While every bird around was glad.
_Coo! Coo! Coo!_
Thus so fondly murmured they,
_Coo! Coo! Coo!_
While _my_ love was away.
And yet the song to lovers,
Though sad, is sweet to hear,
From birds within the covers,
In the spring-time of the year."
The colonel's song, given with Tom Loftus' good voice, was received with
great applause, and the fellows all voted it catching, and began "cooing"
round the table like a parcel of pigeons.
"A translation from an eastern poet, you say?"
"Yes," said Tom.
"'T is not very eastern in its character," said Moriarty. "I mean a
_free_ translation, of course," added the mock colonel.
"Would you favour us with the song again, in the original?" added
Tom Loftus did not know one syllable of any other language than his own,
and it would not have been convenient to talk gibberish to Moriarty, who
had a smattering of some of the eastern tongues; so he declined giving his
Cashmerian song in its native purity, because, as he said, he never could
manage to speak their dialect, though he understood it reasonably well.
"But _there's_ a gentleman, I am sure, will sing some other song--and
a better one, I have no doubt," said Tom, with a very humble prostration
of his head on the table, and anxious by a fresh song to get out of the
dilemma in which Moriarty's question was near placing him.
"Not a better, colonel," said the gentleman who was addressed, "but I
cannot refuse your call, and I will do my best; hand me the port wine,
pray; I always take a glass of port before I sing--I think 't is good for
the throat--what do you say, colonel?"
"When I want to sing particularly well," said Tom, "I drink
The gentleman smiled at the whimsical answer, tossed off his glass of
port, and began.
"Lady mine! lady mine!
Take the rosy wreath I twine,
All its sweets are less than thine,
Lady, lady mine!
The blush that on thy cheek is found
Bloometh fresh the _whole_ year round;
_Thy_ sweet _breath_ as sweet gives _sound_,
Lady, lady mine!
"Lady mine! lady mine!
How I love the graceful vine,
Whose tendrils mock thy ringlets' twine,
Lady, lady mine!
How I love that generous tree,
Whose ripe clusters promise me
Bumpers bright,--to pledge to _thee_,
Lady, lady mine!
"Lady mine! lady mine!
Like the stars that nightly shine,
Thy sweet eyes shed light divine,
Lady, lady mine!
And as sages wise, of old,
From the stars could fate unfold,
Thy bright eyes _my_ fortune told,
Lady, lady mine!"
The song was just in the style to catch gentlemen after dinner--the second
verse particularly, and many a glass was emptied of a "bumper bright," and
pledged to the particular "_thee_," which each individual had
selected for his devotion. Edward, at that moment, certainly thought of
Let teetotallers say what they please, there is a genial influence
inspired by wine and song--not in excess, but in that wholesome degree
which stirs the blood and warms the fancy; and as one raises the glass to
the lip, over which some sweet name is just breathed from the depth of the
heart, what libation so fit to pour to absent friends as wine? What
_is_ wine? It is the grape present in another form; its essence is
there, though the fruit which produced it grew thousands of miles away,
and perished years ago. So the object of many a tender thought may be
spiritually present, in defiance of space--and fond recollections
cherished in defiance of time.
As the party became more convivial, the mirth began to assume a broader
form. Tom Durfy drew out Moriarty on the subject of his services,
that the mock colonel might throw every new achievement into the
shade; and this he did in the most barefaced manner, but mixing so
much of probability with his audacious fiction, that those who were
not up to the joke only supposed him to be _a very great romancer_;
while those friends who were in Loftus' confidence exhibited a most
capacious stomach for the marvellous, and backed up his lies with
a ready credence. If Moriarty told some fearful incident of a tiger
hunt, the colonel capped it with something more wonderful, of slaughtering
lions in a wholesale way, like rabbits. When Moriarty expatiated on the
intensity of tropical heat, the colonel would upset him with something
"Now, sir," said Loftus, "let me ask you what is the greatest amount of
heat you have ever experienced--I say _experienced_, not _heard_ of--for
that goes for nothing. I always speak from experience."
"Well, sir," said Moriarty, "I have known it to be so hot in India, that I
have had a hole dug in the ground under my tent, and sat in it, and put a
table standing over the hole, to try and guard me from the intolerable
fervour of the eastern sun, and even _then_ I was hot. What do you
say to that, colonel?" asked Moriarty, triumphantly.
"Have you ever been in the West Indies?" inquired Loftus.
"Never," said Moriarty, who, once entrapped into this admission, was
directly at the colonel's mercy,--and the colonel launched out
"Then, my good sir, you know nothing of heat. I have seen in the West
Indies an umbrella burned over a man's head."
"Wonderful!" cried Loftus' backers.
"'T is strange, sir," said Moriarty, "that we have never seen that
mentioned by any writer."
"Easily accounted for, sir," said Loftus. "'T is so common a circumstance,
that it ceases to be worthy of observation. An author writing of this
country might as well remark that the apple-women are to be seen sitting
at the corners of the streets. That's nothing, sir; but there are two
things of which I have personal knowledge, _rather_ remarkable.
One day of intense heat (even for that climate) I was on a visit at the
plantation of a friend of mine, and it was so out-o'-the-way scorching,
that our lips were like cinders, and we were obliged to have black
slaves pouring sangaree down our throats by gallons--I don't hesitate
to say gallons--and we thought we could not have survived through
the day; but what could _we_ think of _our_ sufferings, when we
heard that several negroes, who had gone to sleep under the shade of some
cocoa-nut trees, had been scalded to death?"
"Scalded?" said his friends; "burnt, you mean."
"No, scalded; and _how_ do you think? The intensity of the heat had
cracked the cocoa-nuts, and the boiling milk inside dropped down and
produced the fatal result. The same day a remarkable accident occurred at
the battery; the French were hovering round the island at the time, and
the governor, being a timid man, ordered the guns to be always kept
"I never heard of such a thing in a battery in my life, sir," said
"Nor I either," said Loftus, "till then."
"What was the governor's name, sir?" inquired Moriarty, pursuing his train
"You must excuse me, captain, from naming him," said Loftus, with
readiness, "after _incautiously_ saying he was _timid_."
"Hear, hear!" said all the friends.
"But to pursue my story, sir:--the guns were loaded, and with the
intensity of the heat went off, one after another, and quite riddled one
of his Majesty's frigates that was lying in the harbour."
"That's one of the most difficult riddles to comprehend I ever heard,"
"The frigate answered the riddle with her guns, sir, I promise you."
"What!" exclaimed Moriarty, "fire on the fort of her own king?"
"There is an honest principle exists among sailors, sir, to return fire
under all circumstances, wherever it comes from, friend or foe. Fire, of
which they know the value so well, they won't take from anybody."
"And what was the consequence?" said Moriarty.
"Sir, it was the most harmless broadside ever delivered from the ports of
a British frigate; not a single house or human being was injured--the day
was so hot that every sentinel had sunk on the ground in utter exhaustion
--the whole population were asleep; the only loss of life which occurred
was that of a blue macaw, which belonged to the commandant's daughter."
"Where was the macaw, may I beg to know?" said Moriarty, cross-questioning
the colonel in the spirit of a counsel for the defence on a capital
"In the drawing-room window, sir."
"Then surely the ball must have done some damage in the house?"
"Not the least, sir," said Loftus, sipping his wine.
"Surely, colonel!" returned Moriarty, warming, "the ball could not have
killed the macaw without injuring the house?"
"My dear sir," said Tom, "I did not say the _ball_ killed the macaw,
I said the macaw was killed; but _that_ was in consequence of a
splinter from an _epaulement_ of the south-east angle of the fort
which the shot struck and glanced off harmlessly--except for the casualty
of the macaw."
Moriarty returned a kind of grunt, which implied that, though he could not
further _question_, he did not _believe_. Under such circumstances, taking
snuff is a great relief to a man; and, as it happened, Moriarty, in taking
snuff, could gratify his nose and his vanity at the same time, for he
sported a silver-gilt snuff-box which was presented to him in some
extraordinary way, and bore a grand inscription.
On this "piece of plate" being produced, of course it went round the
table, and Moriarty could scarcely conceal the satisfaction he felt as
each person read the engraven testimonial of his worth. When it had gone
the circuit of the board, Tom Loftus put his hand into his pocket and
pulled out the butt-end of a rifle, which is always furnished with a small
box, cut out of the solid part of the wood and covered with a plate of
brass acting on a hinge. This box, intended to carry small implements for
the use of the rifleman, to keep his piece in order, was filled with
snuff, and Tom said, as he laid it down on the table, "This is _my_
snuff-box, gentlemen; not as handsome as my gallant friend's at the
opposite side of the table, but extremely interesting to me. It was
previous to one of our dashing affairs in Spain that our riflemen were
thrown out in front and on the flanks. The rifles were supported by the
light companies of the regiments in advance, and it was in the latter duty
I was engaged. We had to feel our way through a wood, and had cleared it
of the enemy, when, as we debouched from the wood on the opposite side, we
were charged by an overwhelming force of Polish lancers and cuirassiers.
Retreat was impossible--resistance almost hopeless. 'My lads,' said I, 'we
must do something _novel_ here, or we are lost--startle them by fresh
practice--the bayonet will no longer avail you--club your muskets, and hit
the horses over the noses, and they'll smell danger.' They took my advice;
of course we first delivered a withering volley, and then to it we went in
flail-fashion, thrashing away with the butt-ends of our muskets; and sure
enough the French were astonished and driven back in amazement. So
tremendous, sir, was the hitting on our side, that in many instances
the butt-ends of the muskets snapped off like tobacco-pipes, and
the field was quite strewn with them after the affair: I picked one
of them up as a little memento of the day, and have used it ever
since as a snuff-box."
Every one was amused by the outrageous romancing of the colonel but
Moriarty, who looked rather disgusted, because he could not edge in a word
of his own at all; he gave up the thing now in despair, for the colonel
had it all his own way, like the bull in a china-shop; the more startling
the bouncers he told, the more successful were his anecdotes, and he kept
pouring them out with the most astounding rapidity; and though all voted
him the greatest liar they ever met, none suspected he was not a military
Dick wanted Edward O'Connor, who sat beside him, to sing; but Edward
whispered, "For Heaven's sake don't stop the flow of the lava from that
mighty eruption of lies!--he's a perfect Vesuvius of mendacity. You'll
never meet his like again, so make the most of him while you have him.
Pray, sir," said Edward to the colonel, "have you ever been in any of the
cold climates? I am induced to ask you, from the very wonderful anecdotes
you have told of the hot ones."
"Bless you, sir, I know every corner about the north pole."
"In which of the expeditions, may I ask, were you engaged?" inquired
"In none of them, sir. We knocked up a _little amateur party_, I and
a few curious friends, and certainly we witnessed wonders. You talk here
of a sharp wind; but the wind is so sharp there that it cut off our beard
and whiskers. Boreas is a great barber, sir, with his north pole for a
sign. Then as for frost!--I could tell you such incredible things of its
intensity; our butter, for instance, was as hard as a rock; we were
obliged to knock it off with a chisel and hammer, like a mason at a piece
of granite, and it was necessary to be careful of your eyes at breakfast,
the splinters used to fly about so; indeed, one of the party _did_
lose the use of his eye from a butter-splinter. But the oddest thing of
all was to watch two men talking to each other: you could observe the
words, as they came out of their mouths, suddenly frozen and dropping down
in little pellets of ice at their feet, so that, after a long
conversation, you might see a man standing up to his knees in his own
They all roared with laughter at this last touch of the marvellous, but
Loftus preserved his gravity.
"I don't wonder, gentlemen, at your not receiving that as truth--I told
you it was incredible--in short, that is the reason I have resisted all
temptations to publish. Murray, Longmans, Colburn, Bentley, ALL the
publishers have offered me unlimited terms, but I have always refused--not
that I am a rich man, which makes the temptation of the thousands I might
realise the harder to withstand; 't is not that the gold is not precious
to me, but there is something dearer to me than gold--_it is my
character for veracity!_ and therefore, as I am convinced the public
would not believe the wonders I have witnessed, I confine the recital of
my adventures to the social circle. But what profession affords such scope
for varied incident as that of the soldier? Change of clime, danger,
vicissitude, love, war, privation one day, profusion the next, darkling
dangers, and sparkling joys! Zounds! there's nothing like the life of a
soldier! and, by the powers! I'll give you a song in its praise."
The proposition was received with cheers, and Tom rattled away these
THE BOWLD SOJER BOY
"Oh there's not a trade that's going
Like that from glory growing,
For a bowld sojer boy;
Where right or left we go,
Sure you know,
Friend or foe
Will have the hand or toe
From a bowld sojer boy!
There's not a town we march thro',
But the ladies, looking arch thro'
The window-panes, will search thro'
The ranks to find their joy;
While up the street,
Each girl you meet,
Will look so sly,
Oh, isn't he a darling, the bowld sojer boy!'
"But when we get the route,
How they pout
And they shout
While to the right about
Goes the bowld sojer boy.
Oh, 'tis then that ladies fair
Tear their hair,
But 'the divil-a-one I care,'
Says the bowld sojer boy.
For the world is all before us,
Where the landladies adore us,
And ne'er refuse to score us,
But chalk us up with joy;
We taste her tap,
We tear her cap'--
'Oh, that's the chap
'Oh, isn't he a darling, the bowld sojer boy.'
"'Then come along with me,
And you'll see
How happy you will be
With your bowld sojer boy;
'Faith! if you're up to fun,
With me run;
'T will be done
In the snapping of a gun,'
Says the bowld sojer boy;
'And 't is then that, without scandal,
Myself will proudly dandle
The little farthing candle
Of our mutual flame, my joy!
May his light shine
As bright as mine,
Till in the line
The glory of his corps, like a bowld sojer boy!'"
Andy entered the room while the song was in progress, and handed a letter
to Dick, which, after the song was over, and he had asked pardon of his
guests, he opened.
"By Jove! you sing right well, colonel," said one of the party.
"I think the gallant colonel's songs nothing in comparison with his
_wonderful_ stories," said Moriarty.
"Gentlemen," said Dick, "wonderful as the colonel's recitals have been,
this letter conveys a piece of information more surprising than anything
we have heard this day. That stupid fellow who spoiled our champagne has
come in for the inheritance of a large property."
"What!--Handy Andy?" exclaimed those who knew his name.
"Handy Andy," said Dick, "is now a man of fortune!"
It was a note from Squire Egan which conveyed the news to Dick that caused
so much surprise; the details of the case were not even hinted at; the
bare fact alone was mentioned, with a caution to preserve it still a
secret from Andy, and appointing an hour for dinner at "Morrison's" next
day, at which hotel the Squire expected to arrive from the country, with
his lady and Fanny Dawson, _en route_ for London. Till dinner-time,
then, the day following, Dick was obliged to lay by his impatience as to
the "why and wherefore" of Andy's sudden advancement; but, as the morning
was to be occupied with Tom Durfy's wedding, Dick had enough to keep him
engaged in the meantime.
At the appointed hour a few of Tom's particular friends were in attendance
to witness the ceremony, or, to use their own phrase, "to see him turned
off," and among them was Tom Loftus. Dick was holding out his hand to "the
colonel," when Tom Durfy stepped between, and introduced him under his
real name. The masquerading trick of the night before was laughed at, with
an assurance from Dick that it only fulfilled all he had ever heard of the
Protean powers of a gentleman whom he so much wished to know. A few
minutes' conversation in the recess of a window put Tom Loftus and Dick
the Devil on perfectly good terms, and Loftus proposed to Dick that they
should execute the old-established trick on a bridegroom, of snatching the
first kiss from the bride.
"You must get in Tom's way," said Loftus, "and I'll kiss her."
"Why, the fact is," said Dick, "I had proposed that pleasure to myself;
and, if it's all the same to you, _you_ can jostle Tom, and
_I'll_ do the remainder in good style, I promise you."
"That I can't agree to," said Loftus; "but as it appears we both have set
our heart on cheating the bridegroom, let us both start fair, and 't is
odd if between us Tom Durfy is not _done_"
This was agreed upon, and many minutes did not elapse till the bride made
her appearance, and "hostilities were about to commence." The mutual enemy
of the "high contracting parties" first opened his book, and then his
mouth, and in such solemn tones, that it was enough to frighten _even_
a widow, much less a bachelor. As the ceremony verged to a conclusion,
Tom Loftus and Dick the Devil edged up towards their 'vantage-ground
on either side of the blooming widow, now nearly finished into a wife,
and stood like greyhounds in the slip, ready to start after puss
(only puss ought to be spelt here with a B). The widow, having been
married before, was less nervous than Durfy, and, suspecting the intended
game, determined to foil both the brigands, who intended to rob the
bridegroom of his right; so, when the last word of the ceremony was
spoken, and Loftus and Dick made a simultaneous dart upon her, she very
adroitly ducked, and allowed the two "ruggers and rievers" to rush into
each other's arms, and rub their noses together, while Tom Durfy and his
blooming bride sealed their contract very agreeably without their noses
getting in each other's way.
Loftus and Dick had only a laugh at _their own_ expense, instead of a
kiss at _Tom's_, upon the failure of their plot; but Loftus, in a
whisper to Dick, vowed he would execute a trick upon the "pair of them"
before the day was over.
There was a breakfast as usual, and chicken and tongue and wine,
which, taken in the morning, are provocative of eloquence; and, of
course, the proper quantity of healths and toasts were executed _selon
la règlei,_ it was time for the bride and bridegroom to bow and
blush and curtsey out of the room, and make themselves food for a
paragraph in the morning papers, under the title of the "happy pair,"
who set off in a handsome chariot, &c., &c.
* * * * *
Tom Durfy had engaged a pretty cottage in the neighbourhood of Clontarf to
pass the honeymoon. Tom Loftus knew this, and knew, moreover, that the
sitting-room looked out on a small lawn which lay before the house,
screened by a hedge from the road, but with a circular sweep leading up to
the house, and a gate of ingress and egress at either end of the hedge. In
this sitting-room Tom, after lunch, was pressing his lady fair to take a
glass of champagne, when the entrance-gate was thrown open, and a hackney
jaunting-car with Tom Loftus and a friend or two upon it, driven by a
special ragamuffin blowing a tin horn, rolled up the skimping avenue, and
as it scoured past the windows of the sitting-room, Tom Loftus and the
other passengers kissed hands to the astonished bride and bridegroom, and
shouted, "Wish you joy!"
The thing was so sudden that Durfy and the widow, not seeing Loftus, could
hardly comprehend what it meant, and both ran to the window; but just as
they reached it, up drove another car, freighted with two or three more
wild rascals who followed the lead which had been given them; and as a
long train of cars were seen in the distance all driving up to the avenue,
the widow, with a timid little scream, threw her handkerchief over her
face and ran into a corner. Tom did not know whether to laugh or be angry,
but, being a good-humoured fellow, he satisfied himself with a few oaths
against the incorrigible Loftus, and when the _cortège_ had passed,
endeavoured to restore the startled fair one to her serenity.
* * * * *
Squire Egan and party arrived at the appointed hour at their hotel, where
Dick was waiting to receive them, and, of course, his inquiries were
immediately directed to the extraordinary circumstance of Andy's
elevation, the details of which he desired to know. These we shall not
give in the expanded form in which Dick heard them, but endeavour to
condense, as much as possible, within the limits to which we are
The title of Scatterbrain had never been inherited directly from father to
son; it had descended in a zigzag fashion, most appropriate to the name,
nephews and cousins having come in for the coronet and the property for
some generations. The late lord had led a _roué_ bachelor life up to
the age of sixty, and then thought it not worth while to marry, though
many mammas and daughters spread their nets and arrayed their charms to
entrap the sexagenarian.
The truth was, he had quaffed the cup of licentious pleasure all his life,
after which he thought matrimony would prove insipid. The mere novelty
induces some men, under similar circumstances, to try the holy estate; but
matrimony could not offer to Lord Scatterbrain the charms of novelty, for
_he had been_ once married, though no one but himself was cognisant
of the fact.
The reader will certainly say, "Here's an Irish bull; how could a man be
married, without, at least, a woman and a priest being joint possessors of
Listen, gentle reader, and you shall hear how none but Lord Scatterbrain
knew Lord Scatterbrain was married.
There was nothing at which he ever stopped for the gratification of his
passions--no wealth he would not squander, no deceit he would not
practise, no disguise he would not assume. Therefore, gold, and falsehood,
and masquerading were extensively employed by this reckless _roué_
in the service of Venus, in which service, combined with that of Bacchus,
his life was entirely passed.
Often he assumed the guise of a man in humble life, to approximate some
object of his desire, whom fine clothes and bribery would have instantly
warned and in too many cases his artifices were successful. It was in one
of these adventures he cast his eyes upon the woman hitherto known in this
story under the name of the Widow Rooney; but all his practices against
her virtue were unavailing, and nothing but a marriage could accomplish
what he had set his fancy upon but even _this_ would not stop him,
_for he married her_.
The Widow Rooney has appeared no very inviting personage through these
pages, and the reader may wonder that a man of rank could proceed to such
desperate lengths upon such slight temptation; but, gentle reader, she was
young and attractive when she was married--never to say _handsome_,
but good-looking decidedly, and with that sort of figure which is
comprehended in the phrase "a fine girl."
And has that fine girl altered into the Widow Rooney? Ah! poverty and
hardship are sore trials to the body as well as to the mind. Too little is
it considered, while we gaze on aristocratic beauty, how much good food,
soft lying, warm wrapping, ease of mind, have to do with the attractions
which command our admiration. Many a hand moulded by nature to give
elegance of form to a kid glove, is "stinted of its fair proportion" by
grubbing toil. The foot which might have excited the admiration of a
ball-room, peeping under a flounce of lace in a satin shoe, and treading
the mazy dance, _will_ grow coarse and broad by tramping in its native
state over toilsome miles, bearing perchance to a market town some few
eggs, whose whole produce would not purchase the sandal-tie of my lady's
slipper; will grow red and rough by standing in wet trenches, and feeling
the winter's frost. The neck on which diamonds might have worthily
sparkled, will look less tempting when the biting winter has hung
icicles there for gems. Cheeks formed as fresh for dimpling blushes,
eyes as well to sparkle, and lips to smile, as those which shed their
brightness and their witchery in the tapestried saloon, will grow
pale with want, and forget their dimples, when smiles are not there
to wake them; lips become compressed and drawn with anxious thought,
and eyes the brightest are quenched of their fires by many tears.
Of all these trials poor Widow Rooney had enough. Her husband, after
living with her a month, in the character of a steward to some great man
in a distant part of the country, left her one day for the purpose of
transacting business at a fair, which, he said, would require his absence
for some time. At the end of a week, a letter was sent to her, stating
that the make-believe steward had robbed his master extensively, and had
fled to America, whence he promised to write to her, and send her means to
follow him, requesting, in the meantime, her silence, in case any inquiry
should be made about him. This villanous trick was played off the more
readily, from the fact that a steward had absconded at the time, and the
difference in the name the cruel profligate accounted for by saying that,
as he was hiding at the moment he married her, he had assumed another
The poor deserted girl, fully believing this trumped-up tale, obeyed with
unflinching fidelity the injunctions of her betrayer; and while reports
were flying abroad of the absconded steward, she never breathed a word of,
what had been confided to her, and accounted for the absence of "Rooney"
in various ways of her own; so that all trace of the profligate was lost,
by her remaining inactive in making the smallest inquiry about him, and
her very fidelity to her betrayer became the means of her losing all power
of procuring his discovery. For months she trusted all was right;
but when moon followed moon, and she gave birth to a boy without
hearing one word of his father, misgiving came upon her, and the
only consolation left her was, that, though she was deserted, and
a child left on her hands, still she was _an honest woman_. That
child was the hero of our tale. The neighbours passed some ill-natured
remarks about her, when it began to be suspected that her husband
would never let her know more about him; for she had been rather a
saucy lady, holding up her nose at poor men, and triumphing in her
catching of the "steward," a man well to do in the world; and it may be
remembered, that this same spirit existed in her when Andy's rumoured
marriage with Matty gave the prospect of her affairs being retrieved, for
she displayed her love of pre-eminence to the very first person who gave
her the good news. The ill-nature of her neighbours, however, after the
birth of her child and the desertion of her husband, inducing her to leave
the scene of her unmerited wrongs and annoyances, she suddenly decamped,
and, removing to another part of Ireland, the poor woman began a life of
hardship, to support herself and rear the offspring of her unfortunate
marriage. In this task she was worthily assisted by one of her brothers,
who pitied her condition, and joined her in her retreat. He married in
course of time, and his wife died in giving birth to Oonah, who was soon
deprived of her other parent by typhus fever, that terrible scourge of the
poor; so that the praiseworthy desire of the brother to befriend his
sister only involved her, as it happened, in the deeper difficulty of
supporting two children instead of one. This she did heroically, and the
orphan girl rewarded her, by proving a greater comfort than her own child;
for Andy had inherited in all its raciness the blood of the Scatterbrains,
and his deeds, as recorded in this history, prove he was no unworthy
representative of that illustrious title. To return to his father--who had
done the grievous wrong to the poor peasant girl: he lived his life of
profligacy through, and in a foreign country died at last; but on his
death-bed the scourge of conscience rendered every helpless hour an age of
woe. Bitterest of all was the thought of the wife deceived, deserted, and
unacknowledged. To face his last account with such fearful crime upon his
head he dared not, and made all the reparation now in his power, by
avowing his marriage in his last will and testament, and giving all the
information in his power to trace his wife, if living, or his heir, if
such existed. He enjoined, by the most sacred injunctions upon him to whom
the charge was committed, that neither cost nor trouble should be spared
in the search, leaving a large sum in ready money besides, to establish
the right, in case his nephew disputed the will. By his own order, his
death was kept secret, and secretly his agent set to work to discover any
trace of the heir. This, in consequence of the woman changing her place of
abode, became more difficult and it was not until after very minute
inquiry that some trace was picked up, and a letter written to the parish
priest of the district to which she had removed, making certain general
inquiries. It was found, on comparing dates some time after, that it was
this very letter to Father Blake which Andy had purloined from the
post-office, and the Squire had thrown into the fire; so that our hero was
very near, by his blundering, destroying his own fortune. Luckily for him,
however, an untiring and intelligent agent was engaged in his cause, and a
subsequent inquiry, and finally a personal visit to Father Blake, cleared
the matter up satisfactorily, and the widow was enabled to produce such
proof of her identity, and that of her son, that Handy Andy was
indisputably Lord Scatterbrain; and the whole affair was managed so
secretly, that the death of the late lord, and the claim of title and
estates in the name of the rightful heir, were announced at the same
moment; and the "Honourable Sackville," instead of coming into possession
of the peerage and property, and fighting his adversary at the great
advantage of possession, could only commence a suit to drive him out,
if he sued at all.
Our limits compel us to this brief sketch of the circumstances through
which Handy Andy was entitled to and became possessed of a property and a
title, and we must now say something of the effects produced by the
intelligence on the parties most concerned.
The Honourable Sackville Scatterbrain, on the advice of high legal
authority, did not attempt to dispute a succession of which such
satisfactory proofs existed, and, fortunately for himself, had knocked up
a watering-place match, while he was yet in the bloom of heirship
_presumptive_ to a peerage, with the daughter of an English
When the Widow Rooney heard the extraordinary turn affairs had taken, her
emotions, after the first few hours of pleasurable surprise, partook of
regret rather than satisfaction. She looked upon her past life of
suffering, and felt as if Fate had cheated her. She, a peeress, had passed
her life in poverty and suffering, with contempt from those over whom she
had superior rights; and the few years of the prosperous future before her
offered her poor compensation for the pinching past. But after such
selfish considerations, the maternal feeling came to her relief, and she
rejoiced that _her son_ was a lord. But then came the terrible
thought of his marriage to dash her joy and triumph.
This was a source of grief to Oonah as well. "If he wasn't married," she
would say to herself, "I might be _Lady_ Scatterbrain;" and the tears
would burst through poor Oonah's fingers as she held them up to her eyes
and sobbed heavily, till the poor girl would try to gather consolation
from the thought that, maybe, Andy's altered circumstances would make
_her_ disregarded. "There would be plenty to have him now," thought
she, "and he wouldn't think of me, maybe--so 't is well as it is."
When Andy heard that he was a lord--a real lord--and, after the first
shock of astonishment, could comprehend that wealth and power were in his
possession, he, though the most interested person, never thought, as the
two women had done, of the desperate strait in which his marriage placed
him, but broke out into short peals of laughter, and exclaimed in the
intervals, "that it was mighty quare;" and when, after much questioning,
any intelligible desire he had could be understood, the first one he
clearly expressed was _"to have a goold watch."_
He was made, however, to understand that other things than "goold watches"
were of more importance; and the Squire, with his characteristic good
nature, endeavoured to open Andy's comprehension to the nature of his
altered situation. This, it may be supposed, was rather a complicated
piece of work, and too difficult to be set down in black and white; the
most intelligible portions to Andy were his immediate removal from
servitude, and a ready-made suit of gentlemanly apparel, which made Andy
pay several visits to the looking-glass. Good-natured as the Squire was,
it would have been equally awkward to him as to Andy for the newly fledged
lord, though a lord, to have a seat at his table, neither could he remain
in an inferior position in his house; so Dick, who loved fun, volunteered
to take Andy under his especial care to London, and let him share his
lodgings, as a bachelor may do many things which a man surrounded by his
family cannot. Besides, in a place distant from such extraordinary chances
and changes as those which befell our hero, the sudden and startling
difference of position of the parties not being known renders it possible
for a gentleman to do the good-natured thing which Dick undertook, without
compromising himself. In Dublin it would not have done for Dick Dawson
to allow the man who would have held his horse the day before, to
share the same board with him merely because Fortune had played one
of her frolics and made Andy a lord; but in London the case was different.
To London therefore they proceeded. The incidents of the journey, sea-
sickness included, which so astonished the new traveller, we pass over, as
well as the numberless mistakes in the great metropolis, which afforded
Dick plentiful amusement, though, in truth, Dick had better objects in
view than laughing at Andy's embarrassments in his new position. He really
wished to help him in the difficult path into which the new lord had been
thrust, and did this in a merry sort of way more successfully than by
serious drilling. It was hard to break Andy of the habit of saying
"Misther Dick," when addressing him, but, at last, "Misther Dawson" was
established. Eating with his knife, drinking as loudly as a horse, and
other like accomplishments, were not so easily got under, yet it was
wonderful how much he improved, as his shyness grew less, and his
consciousness of being a lord grew stronger.
But, if the good nature of Dick had not prompted him to take Andy into
training, the newly discovered nobleman would not have long been in want
of society. It was wonderful how many persons were eager to show civility
to his lordship, and some amongst them even went so far as to discover
relationship. Plenty were soon ready to take Lord Scatterbrain here, and
escort him there, accompany him to exhibitions and other public places,
and charmed all the time with his lordship's remarks--"they were so
original"--"quite delightful to meet something so fresh"--"how remarkably
clever the Irish were!" Such were among the observations his ignorant
blunders produced; and he who, as Handy Andy, had been anathematised all
his life as a "stupid rascal," "a blundering thief," "a thick-headed
brute," &c., under the title of Lord Scatterbrain all of a sudden
was voted "vastly amusing--a little eccentric, perhaps, but _so_
droll--in fact, so witty!" This was all very delightful for Andy
--so delightful that he quite forgot Bridget _rhua_. But that
lady did not leave him long in his happy obliviousness. One day,
while Dick was absent, and Andy rocking on a chair before the fire,
twirling the massive gold chain of his gold watch round his forefinger,
and uncoiling it again, his repose was suddenly disturbed by the
appearance of Bridget herself, accompanied by _Shan More_ and
a shrimp of a man in rusty black, who turned out to be a shabby attorney
who advanced money to convey his lady client and her brother to London,
for the purpose of making a dash at the lord at once, and securing a
handsome sum by a _coup de main_.
Andy, though taken by surprise, was resolute. Bitter words were exchanged;
and as they seemed likely to lead to blows, Andy prudently laid hold of
the poker, and, in language not quite suited to a noble lord, swore he
would see what the inside of _Shan More's_ head was made of, if he
attempted to advance upon him. Bridget screamed and scolded, while the
attorney endeavoured to keep the peace, and, beyond everything, urged Lord
Scatterbrain to enter at once into written engagements for a handsome
settlement upon his "lady."
"Lady!" exclaimed Andy; "oh!--a pretty _lady_ she is!"
"I'm as good a lady as you are a lord, anyhow," cried Bridget.
"Altercation will do no good, my lord and my lady," said the attorney;
"let me suggest the propriety of your writing an engagement at once;" and
the little man pushed pen, ink, and paper towards Andy.
"I can't, I tell you!" cried Andy.
"You must!" roared _Shan More_.
"Bad luck to you, how can I when I never larned?"
"Your lordship can make your mark," said the attorney.
"'Faith I can--with a poker," cried Andy; "and you'd better take care,
master parchment. Make my mark, indeed!--do you think I'd disgrace the
House o' Peers by lettin' on that a lord couldn't write?--Quit the
buildin', I tell you!"
In the midst of the row, which now rose to a tremendous pitch, Dick
returned; and after a severe reprimand to the pettifogger for his sinister
attempt on Andy, referred him to Lord Scatterbrain's solicitor. It was not
such an easy matter to silence Bridget, who extended her claws towards her
lord and master in a very menacing manner, calling down bitter
imprecations on her own head if she wouldn't have her rights.
Every now and then between the bursts of the storm Andy would exclaim,
"My lord," said Dick, "remember your dignity."
"Av coorse!" said Andy; "but still she must get out!"
The house was at last cleared of the uproarious party; but though Andy got
rid of their presence, they left their sting behind. Lord Scatterbrain
felt, for the first time, that a lord can be very unhappy.
Dick hurried him away at once to the chambers of the law agent, but he,
being closeted on some very important business with another client on
their arrival, returned an answer to their application for a conference,
which they forwarded through the double doors of this sanctum by a hard-
looking man with a pen behind his ear, that he could not have the pleasure
of seeing them till the next morning. Lord Scatterbrain passed a more
unhappy night than he had ever done in his life--even than that when he
was tied up to the old tree--croaked at by ravens, and the despised of
Negotiations were opened the next day between the pettifogger on
Bridget's side and the law agent of the noble lord, and the arguments,
_pro and con.,_ lay thus:
In the first place, the opening declaration was--Lord Scatterbrain never
would live with the aforesaid Bridget.
Answered--that nevertheless, as she was his lawful wife, a provision
suitable to her rank must be made.
They (the claimants) were asked to name a sum.
The sum was considered exorbitant; it being argued that when her husband
had determined never to live with her, he was in a far different
condition, therefore it was unfair to seek so large a separate maintenance
The pettifogger threatened that Lady Scatterbrain would run in debt, which
Lord Scatterbrain must discharge. My Lord's agent suggested that my Lady
would be advertised in the public papers, and the public cautioned against
giving her credit.
A sum could not be agreed upon, though a fair one was offered on Andy's
part; for the greediness of the pettifogger, who was to have a share of
the plunder, made him hold out for more, and negotiations were broken off
for some days.
Poor Andy was in a wretched state of vexation. It was bad enough that he
was married to this abominable woman, without an additional plague of
being persecuted by her. To such an amount this rose at last, that she and
her big brother dodged him every time he left the house, so that in self-
defence he was obliged to become a close prisoner in his own lodgings. All
this at last became so intolerable to the captive, that he urged a speedy
settlement of the vexatious question, and a larger separate maintenance
was granted to the detestable woman than would otherwise have been ceded,
the only stipulation of a stringent nature made being, that Lord
Scatterbrain should be free from the persecutions of his hateful wife for
Squire Egan, with his lady and Fanny Dawson, had now arrived in London;
Murtough Murphy, too, had joined them, his services being requisite in
working the petition against the return of the sitting member for the
county. This had so much promise of success about it, that the opposite
party, who had the sheriff for the county in their interest, bethought of
a novel expedient to frustrate the petition when a reference to the poll
They declared the principal poll-book was lost.
This seemed not very satisfactory to one side of the committee, and the
question was asked, "how could it be lost?" The answer was one which Irish
contrivance alone could have invented: _"It fell into a pot of broth,
and the dog ate it."_ [Footnote: If not this identical answer, something
like it was given on a disputed Irish election, before a Committee of the
House of Commons.]
This protracted the contest for some time; but eventually, in spite of the
dog's devouring knowledge so greedily, the Squire was declared duly
elected and took the oaths and his seat for the county.
It was hard on Sackville Scatterbrain to lose his seat in the house and a
peerage, nearly at once; but the latter loss threw the former so far into
the shade, that he scarcely felt it. Besides, he could console himself
with having buttered his crumbs pretty well in the marriage-market; and,
with a rich wife, retired from senatorial drudgery to private repose,
which was much more congenial to his easy temper.
But while the Squire's happy family circle was rejoicing in his triumph--
while he was invited to the Speaker's dinners, and the ladies were looking
forward to tickets for "the lantern," their pleasure was suddenly dashed
by fatal news from Ireland.
A serious accident had befallen Major Dawson--so serious, that his life
was despaired of; and an immediate return to Ireland by all who were
interested in his life was the consequence.
Though the suddenness of this painful event shocked his family, the act
which caused it did not surprise them; for it was one against which Major
Dawson had been repeatedly cautioned, involving a danger he had been
affectionately requested not to tempt; but the habitual obstinacy of his
nature prevailed, and he persisted in doing that which his son--and his
daughters--and friends--prophesied _would_ kill him some time or
other, and _did_, at last. The Major had three little iron guns,
mounted on carriages, on a terrace in front of his house; and it was his
wont to fire a salute on certain festival days from these guns, which,
from age and exposure to the weather, became dangerous to use. It was in
vain that this danger was represented to him. He would reply, with his
accustomed "Pooh, pooh! I have been firing these guns for forty years, and
they won't do me any harm now."
This was the prime fault of the Major's character. Time and circumstances
were never taken into account by him; what was done once, might be done
_always_--_ought_ to be done always. The bare thought of change
of any sort, to him, was unbearable; and whether it was a rotten old law
or a rotten old gun, he would charge both up to the muzzle and fire away,
regardless of consequences. The result was, that on a certain festival his
_favourite_ gun burst in discharging; and the last mortal act
of which the Major was conscious, was that of putting the port-fire
to the touchhole, for a heavy splinter of iron struck him on the head, and
though he lived for some days afterwards, he was insensible. Before his
children arrived he was no more; and the only duty left them to perform
was the melancholy one of ordering his funeral.
The obsequies of the old Major were honoured by a large and distinguished
attendance from all parts of the country; and amongst those who bore the
pall was Edward O'Connor, who had the melancholy gratification of
testifying his respect beside the grave of Fanny's father, though the
severe old man had banished him from his presence during his lifetime.
But now all obstacle to the union of Edward and Fanny was removed; and
after the lapse of a few days had softened the bitter grief which this
sudden bereavement of her father had produced, Edward received a note from
Dick, inviting him to the manor-house, where _all_ would be glad to
In a few minutes after the receipt of that note Edward was in his saddle,
and swiftly leaving the miles behind him till, from the top of a rising
ground, the roof of the manor-house appeared above the trees in which it
was embosomed. He had not till then slackened his speed; but now drawing
rein, he proceeded at a slower pace towards the house he had not entered
for some years, and the sight of which awakened such varied emotions.
To return after long years of painful absence to some place which has been
the scene of our former joys, and whence the force of circumstance, and
not choice, has driven us, is oppressive to the heart. There is a mixed
sense of regret and rejoicing, which struggle for predominance; we rejoice
that our term of exile has expired, but we regret the years which that
exile has deducted from the brief amount of human life, never to
be recalled, and therefore as so much _lost_ to us. We think of the
wrong or the caprice of which we have been the victims, and thoughts will
stray across the most confiding heart, if friends shall meet as fondly as
they parted; or if time, while impressing deeper marks upon the
_outward_ form, may have obliterated some impressions _within_.
Who has returned after years of absence, however assured of the
unflinching fidelity of the love he left behind, without saying to
himself, in the pardonable yearning of affection, "Shall I meet smiles as
bright as those that used to welcome me? Shall I be pressed as fondly
within the arms whose encompassment were to me the pale of all earthly
Such thoughts crowded on Edward as he approached the house. There was not
a lane, or tree, or hedge, by the way, that had not for him its
association. He reached the avenue gate; as he flung it open he remembered
the last time he passed it; Fanny had then leaned on his arm. He felt
himself so much excited, that, instead of riding up to the house, he took
the private path to the stables, and throwing down the reins to a boy, he
turned into a shrubbery and endeavoured to recover his self-command before
he should present himself. As he emerged from the sheltered path and
turned into a walk which led to the garden, a small conservatory was
opened to his view, awaking fresh sensations. It was in that very place he
had first ventured to declare his love to Fanny. There she heard and
frowned not; there, where nature's choicest sweets were exhaling, he had
first pressed her to his heart, and thought the balmy sweetness of her
lips beyond them all. He hurried forward in the enthusiasm the
recollection recalled, to enter that spot consecrated in his memory; but
on arriving at the door, he suddenly stopped, for he saw Fanny within. She
was plucking a geranium--the flower she had been plucking some years
before, when Edward said he loved her. She, all that morning, had
been under the influence of feelings similar to Edward's; had felt
the same yearnings--the same tender doubts--the same fond solicitude
that he should be the same Edward from whom she parted. But she thought
of _more_ than this; with the exquisitely delicate contrivance
belonging to woman's nature, she wished to give him a signal of her
fond recollection, and was plucking the flower she gathered when he
declared his love, to place on her bosom when they should meet. Edward
felt the meaning of her action, as the graceful hand broke the flower from
its stem. He would have rushed towards her at once, but that the deep
mourning in which she was arrayed seemed to command a gentler approach;
for grief commands respect. He advanced softly--she heard a gentle step
behind her--turned--uttered a faint exclamation of joy, and sank into his
arms! In a few moments she recovered her consciousness, and opening her
sweet eyes upon him, breathed softly, "dear Edward!"--and the lips which,
in two words, had expressed so much, were impressed with a fervent kiss in
the blessed consciousness of possession, on that very spot where the first
timid and doubting word of love had been spoken.
In that moment he was rewarded for all his years of absence and anxiety.
His heart was satisfied; he felt he was dear as ever to the woman he
idolised, and the short and hurried beating of _both_ their hearts
told more than words could express. Words!--what were words to them?--
thought was too swift for their use, and feeling too strong for their
utterance; but they drank from each other's eyes large draughts of
delight, and, in the silent pressure of each other's welcoming embrace,
felt how truly they loved each other.
He led her gently from the conservatory, and they exchanged words of
affection "soft and low," as they sauntered through the wooded path which
surrounded the house. That live-long day they wandered up and down
together, repeating again and again the anxious yearnings which occupied
their years of separation, yet asking each other was not all more
than repaid by the gladness of the present--
"Yet _how_ painful has been the past!" exclaimed Edward.
"But _now!_" said Fanny, with a gentle pressure of her tiny hand on
Edward's arm, and looking up to him with her bright eyes--"but
"True, darling!" he cried; "'tis ungrateful to think of the past while
enjoying such a present and with such a future before me. Bless that
cheerful heart, and those hope-inspiring glances! Oh, Fanny! in the
wilderness of life there are springs and palm-trees--you are both to me!
and heaven has set its own mark upon you in those laughing blue eyes which
might set despair at defiance."
"Poetical as ever, Edward!" said Fanny, laughing.
"Sit down, dearest, for a moment, on this old tree, beside me; 'tis not
the first time I have strung rhymes in your presence and your praise." He
took a small note-book from his pocket, and Fanny looked on smilingly as
Edward's pencil rapidly ran over the leaf and traced the lover's tribute
to his mistress.
THE SUNSHINE IN YOU
"It is sweet when we look round the wide world's waste
To know that the desert bestows
The palms where the weary heart may rest,
The spring that in purity flows.
And where have I found
In this wilderness round
That spring and that shelter so true;
Unfailing in need,
And my own, indeed?--
Oh! dearest, I've found it in you!
"And, oh when the cloud of some darkening hour
O'ershadows the soul with its gloom,
Then where is the light of the vestal pow'r,
The lamp of pale Hope to illume?
Oh! the light ever lies
In those bright fond eyes,
Where Heaven has impressed its own blue
As a seal from the skies
As my heart relies
On that gift of its sunshine in you!"
Fanny liked the lines, of course. "Dearest," she said, "may I always prove
sunshine to you! Is it not a strange coincidence that these lines exactly
fit a little air which occurred to me some time ago?"
"'Tis odd," said Edward; "sing it to me, darling."
Fanny took the verses from his hand, and sung them to her own measure. Oh,
happy triumph of the poet!--to hear his verses wedded to sweet sounds, and
warbled by the woman he loves! Edward caught up the strain, adding his
voice to hers in harmony, and thus they sauntered homewards, trolling
their ready-made duet together. There were not two happier hearts in the
world that day than those of Fanny Dawson and Edward O'Connor.
Respect for the memory of Major Dawson of course prevented the immediate
marriage of Edward and Fanny; but the winter months passed cheerfully away
in looking forward to the following autumn which should witness the
completion of their happiness. Though Edward was thus tempted by the
society of the one he loved best in the world, it did not make him neglect
the duties he had undertaken in behalf of Gustavus. Not only did he
prosecute his reading with him regularly, but he took no small pains in
looking after the involved affairs of the family, and strove to make
satisfactory arrangements with those whose claims were gnawing away the
estate to nothing. Though the years of Gusty's minority were but few,
still they would give the estate some breathing-time; and creditors,
seeing the minor backed by a man of character, and convinced a sincere
desire existed to relieve the estate of its encumbrances and pay all just
claims, presented a less threatening front than hitherto, and listened
readily to such terms of accommodation as were proposed to them. Uncle
Robert (for the breaking of whose neck Ratty's pious aspirations had been
raised) behaved very well on the occasion. A loan from him, and a partial
sale of some of the acres, stopped the mouths of the greedy wolves who
fatten on men's ruin, and time and economy were looked forward to for the
discharge of all other debts. Uncle Robert, having so far acted the
friend, was considered entitled to have a partial voice in the ordering of
things at the Hall; and having a notion that an English accent was
genteel, he desired that Gusty and Ratty should pass a year under
the roof of a clergyman in England, who received a limited number
of young gentlemen for the completion of their education. Gustavus
would much rather have remained near Edward O'Connor, who had already
done so much for him; but Edward, though he regretted parting with
Gustavus, recommended him to accede to his uncle's wishes, though
he did not see the necessity of an Irish gentleman being ashamed of
The visit to England, however, was postponed till the spring, and the
winter months were used by Gustavus in availing himself as much as he
could of Edward's assistance in putting him through his classics, his
pride prompting him to present himself creditably to the English
It was in vain to plead _such_ pride to Ratty, who paid more attention
to shooting than his lessons. His mother strove to persuade--Ratty was
deaf. His "gran" strove to bribe--Ratty was incorruptible. Gusty
argued--Ratty answered after his own fashion.
"Why won't you learn even a little?"
"I'm to go to that 'English fellow' in spring, and I shall have no fun
then, so I'm making good use of my time now."
"Do you call it 'good use' to be so dreadfully idle and shamefully
"Bother!--the less I know, the more the English fellow will have to teach
me, and Uncle Bob will have more worth for his money;" and then Ratty
would whistle a jig, fling a fowling-piece over his shoulder, and shout
"Ponto! Ponto! Ponto!" as he traversed the stable-yard; the delighted
pointer would come bounding at the call, and, after circling round his
young master with agile grace and yelps of glee at the sight of the gun,
dash forward to the well-known "bottoms" in eager expectancy of ducks and
snipe. How fared it all this time with the lord of Scatterbrain? He became
established, for the present, in a house that had been a long time to let
in the neighbourhood, and his mother was placed at the head of it, and
Oonah still remained under his protection, though the daily sight of the
girl added to Andy's grief at the desperate plight in which his ill-
starred marriage placed him, to say nothing of the constant annoyance of
his mother's growling at him for his making "such a Judy of himself;" for
the dowager Lady Scatterbrain could not get rid of her vocabulary at once.
Andy's only resource under these circumstances was to mount his horse and
As for the dowager Lady Scatterbrain, she had a carriage with "a picture"
on it, as she called the coat of arms, and was fond of driving past the
houses of people who had been uncivil to her. Against Mrs. Casey (the
renowned Matty Dwyer) she entertained an especial spite, in consideration
of her treatment of her beautiful boy and her own pair of black eyes; so
she determined to "pay her off" in her own way, and stopping one day at
the hole in the hedge which served for entrance to the estate of the
"three-cornered field," she sent the footman in to say the _dowjer_
Lady Scatter_breen_ wanted to speak with "Casey's wife."
When the servant, according to instructions, delivered this message, he
was sent back with the answer, "that if any lady wanted to see Casey's
wife, 'Casey's wife,' was at home."
"Oh, go back, and tell the poor woman I don't want to bring her to the
door of my carriage, if it's inconvaynient. I only wished to give her a
little help; and tell her if she sends up eggs to the big house, Lady
Scatterbreen will pay her for them."
When the servant delivered this message, Matty grew outrageous at the
means "my lady" took of crowing over her, and rushing to the door, with
her face flushed with rage, roared out, "Tell the old baggage I want none
of her custom; let her lay eggs for herself."
The servant staggered back in amaze; and Matty, feeling he would not
deliver her message, ran to the hole in the hedge and repeated her answer
to my lady herself, with a great deal more which need not be recorded.
Suffice it to say, my lady thought it necessary to pull up the glass,
against which Matty threw a handful of mud; the servant jumped up on his
perch behind the carriage, which was rapidly driven away by the coachman,
but not so fast that Matty could not, by dint of running, keep it "within
range" for some seconds, during which time she contrived to pelt both
coachman and footman with mud, and leave her mark on their new livery.
This was a salutary warning to the old woman, who was more cautious in her
demonstrations of grandeur for the future. If she was stinted in the
enjoyment of her new-born dignity abroad, she could indulge it at home
without let or hindrance, and to this end asked Andy to let her have a
hundred pounds, in one-pound notes, for a particular purpose. What this
purpose was no one was told or could guess, but for a good while after she
used to be closeted by herself for several hours during the day.
Andy had his hours of retirement also, for with praiseworthy industry he
strove hard, poor fellow, to lift himself above the state of ignorance,
and had daily attendance from the parish schoolmaster. The mysteries of
"pothooks and hangers" and ABC weighed heavily on the nobleman's mind,
which must have sunk under the burden of scholarship and penmanship, but
for the other "ship"--the horsemanship--which was Andy's daily self-
established reward for his perseverance in his lessons. Besides he really
_could_ ride; and as it was the only accomplishment of which he was
master, it was no wonder he enjoyed the display of it; and, to say the
truth, he did, and that on a first-rate horse too. Having appointed
Murtough Murphy his law-agent, he often rode over to the town to talk with
him, and as Murtough could have some fun and thirteen and fourpence also
per visit, he was always glad to see his "noble friend." The high road did
not suit Andy's notion of things; he preferred the variety, shortness, and
diversion of going across the country on these occasions; and in one of
these excursions, in the most secluded portion of his ride, which
unavoidably lay through some quarries and deep broken ground, he met
"Ragged Nance," who held up her finger as he approached the gorge of this
lonely dell, in token that she would speak with him. Andy pulled up.
"Long life to you, my lord," said Nance, dropping a deep curtsey, "and
sure I always liked you since the night you was so bowld for the sake of
the poor girl--the young lady, I mane, now, God bless her--and I just
wish to tell you, my lord, that I think you might as well not be going
these lonely ways, for I see _them_ hanging about here betimes, that
maybe it would not be good for your health to meet; and sure, my lord, it
would be a hard case if you were killed now, havin' the luck of the sick
calf that lived all the winther and died in the summer."
"Is it that big blackguard, _Shan More_, you mane?" said Andy.
"No less," said Nance--growing deadly pale as she cast a piercing glance
into the dell, and cried, in a low, hurried tone--"Talk of the divil--and
there he is--I see him peep out from behind a rock."
"He's running this way," said Andy.
"Then you run the other way," said Nance; "look there--I see him strive to
hide a blunderbuss under his coat--gallop off, for the love o' God! or
there'll be murther."
"Maybe there will be that same," said Andy, "if I leave you here, and he
suspects you gave me the hard word." [Footnote: "Hard word" implies a
"Never mind me," said Nance, "save yourself--see, he's moving fast, he'll
be near enough to you soon to fire."
"Get up behind me," said Andy; "I won't leave you here."
"Run, I tell you."
"God bless you, then," said the woman, as Andy held out his hand and
gripped hers firmly.
"Put your foot on mine," said Andy.
The woman obeyed, and was soon seated behind our hero, gripping him fast
by the waist, while he pushed his horse to a fast canter.
"Hold hard now," said Andy, "for there's a stiff jump here." As he
approached the ditch of which he spoke, two men sprang up from it, and one
fired, as Andy cleared the leap in good style, Nance holding on gallantly.
The horse was not many strokes on the opposite side, when another shot was
fired in their rear, followed by a scream from the woman. To Andy's
inquiry, if she was "kilt," she replied in the negative, but said "they
hurt her sore," and she was "bleeding a power;" but that she could still
hold on, however, and urged him to speed. The clearance of one or two more
leaps gave her grievous pain; but a large common soon opened before them,
which was skirted by a road leading directly to a farm-house, where Andy
left the wounded woman, and then galloped off for medical aid; this soon
arrived, and the wound was found not to be dangerous, though painful. The
bullet had struck and pierced a tin vessel of a bottle form, in which
Nance carried the liquid gratuities of the charitable, and this not only
deadened the force of the ball, but glanced it also; and the escapement of
the butter-milk, which the vessel contained, Nance had mistaken for
the effusion of her own blood. It was a clear case, however, that
if Nance had not been sitting behind Andy, Lord Scatterbrain would
have been a dead man, so that his gratitude and gallantry towards the
poor beggar woman proved the means of preserving his own life.
The news of the attack on Lord Scatterbrain ran over the country like
wildfire, and his conduct throughout the affair raised his character
wonderfully in the opinion of all classes. Many who had hitherto held
aloof from the mushroom lord, came forward to recognise the manly fellow,
and cards were left at "the big house," which were never seen there
before. The magistrates were active in the affair, and a reward was
immediately offered for the apprehension of the offenders; but before any
active steps could be taken by the authorities, Andy, immediately after
the attack, collected a few stout fellows himself, and knowing where the
den of Shan and his miscreants lay, he set off at the head of his party to
try if he could not secure them himself; but before he did this, he
despatched a vehicle to the farmhouse, where poor Nance lay wounded, with
orders that she should be removed to his own house, the doctor having said
that the transit would not be injurious.
A short time served to bring Andy and his followers to the private still,
where a little looking about enabled them to discover the entrance, which
was covered by some large stones, and a bunch of furze placed as a mask to
the opening. It was clear that it was impossible for any persons inside to
have thus covered the entrance, and it suggested the possibility that some
of its usual inmates were then absent. Nevertheless, having such desperate
characters to deal with, it was a service of danger to be leader in the
descent to the cavern when the opening was cleared; but Andy was the first
to enter, which he did boldly, only desiring his attendants to follow
him quickly, and give him support in case of resistance. A lantern
had been provided, Andy knowing the darkness of the den; and the
party was thereby enabled to explore with celerity and certainty
the hidden haunt of the desperadoes. The ashes of the fire were yet
warm, but no one was to be seen, till Andy, drawing the screen of
the bed, discovered a man lying in a seemingly helpless state, breathing
with difficulty, and the straw about him dabbled with blood. On attempting
to lift him, the wretch groaned heavily and muttered, "D--n you,
let me alone--you've done for me--I'm dying."
The man was gently carried from the cave to the open air, which seemed
slightly to revive him. His eyes opened heavily, but closed again; yet
still he breathed. His wounds were staunched as well as the limited means
and knowledge of the parties present allowed; and the ladder, drawn up
from the cave and overlaid with tufts of heather, served to bear the
sufferer to the nearest house, whence Andy ordered a mounted messenger to
hurry for a doctor. The man seemed to hear what was going forward, for he
faintly muttered, "the priest--the priest."
Andy, anxious to procure this most essential comfort to the dying man,
went himself in search of Father Blake, whom he found at home, and who
suggested that a magistrate might be also useful upon the occasion; and as
Merryvale lay not much out of the way, Andy made a detour to obtain the
presence of Squire Egan, while Father Blake pushed directly onward upon
his ghostly mission.
Andy and the Squire arrived soon after the priest had administered
spiritual comfort to the sufferer, who still retained sufficient strength
to make his depositions before the Squire, the purport of which turned out
to be of the utmost importance to Andy.
This man, it appeared, _was the husband of Bridget_, who had
returned from transportation, and sought his wife and her dear brother,
and his former lawless associates, on reaching Ireland. On finding
Bridget had married again, his anger at her infidelity was endeavoured
to be appeased by the representations made to him that it was a "good
job," inasmuch as "the lord" had been screwed out of a good sum of
money by way of separate maintenance, and that he would share the
advantage of that. When matters were more explained, however, and the
convict found this money was divided among so many, who all claimed right
of share in the plunder, his discontent returned. In the first place, the
pettifogger made a large haul for his services. Shan More swore it was
hard if a woman's own brother was not to be the better for her luck; and
Larry Hogan claimed hush-money, for he could prove Bridget's marriage, and
so upset their scheme of plunder. The convict maintained his claim as
husband was stronger than any; but this, all the others declared, was an
outlandish notion he brought back with him from foreign parts, and did not
prevail in their code of laws by any manner o' means, and even went so far
as to say they thought it hard, after they had "done the job," that he was
to come in and lessen their profit, which he would, as they were willing
to give an even share of the spoil; and after that, he must be the most
discontented villain in the world if he was not pleased.
The convict feigned contentment, but meditated at once revenge against his
wife and the gang, and separate profit for himself. He thought he might
stipulate for a good round sum from Lord Scatterbrain, as he could prove
him free of his supposed matrimonial engagement, and inwardly resolved he
would soon pay a visit to his lordship. But his intentions were suspected
by the gang, and a strict watch kept upon him; and though his
dissimulation and contrivance were of no inferior order, Larry Hogan was
his overmatch, and the convict was detected in having been so near
Lord Scatterbrain's dwelling, that they feared their secret, if not
already revealed, was no longer to be trusted to their new confederate's
keeping; and it was deemed advisable to knock him on the head, and
shoot my lord, which they thought would prevent all chance of the
invalidity of the marriage being discovered, and secure the future
payment of the maintenance.
How promptly the murderous determination was acted upon, the preceding
events prove. Andy's courage in the first part of the affair saved his
life; his promptness in afterwards seeking to secure the offenders led to
the important discovery he had just made; and as the convict's depositions
could be satisfactorily backed by proofs which he showed the means of
obtaining, Andy was congratulated heartily by the Squire and Father Blake,
and rode home in almost delirious delight at the prospect of making Oonah
his wife. On reaching the stables, he threw himself from his saddle, let
the horse make his own way to his stall, dashed through the back hall, and
nearly broke his neck in tumbling up-stairs, burst open the drawing-room
door, and made a rush upon Oonah, whom he hugged and kissed most
outrageously, amidst exclamations of the wildest affection.
Oonah, half strangled and struggling for breath, at last freed herself
from his embraces, and asked him, angrily, what he was about--in which
inquiry she was backed by his mother.
Andy answered by capering round the room, shouting, "Hurroo! I'm not
married at all--hurroo!" He turned over the chairs, upset the tables,
threw the mantelpiece ornaments into the fire, seized the poker and tongs,
and banged them together as he continued dancing and shouting.
Oonah and his mother stood gazing at his antics in trembling amazement,
till at last the old woman exclaimed, "Holy Vargin! he's gone mad!"
whereupon she and her niece set up a violent screaming, which called
Andy back to his propriety, and, as well as his excitement would
permit, he told them the cause of his extravagant joy. His wonder
and delight were shared by his mother and the blushing Oonah, who
did not struggle so hard in Andy's embrace on his making a second
vehement demonstration of his love for her.
"Let me send for Father Blake, my jewel," said Andy, "and I'll marry you
His mother reminded him he must first have his present marriage proved
invalid. Andy uttered several pieces of _original_ eloquence on "the
"Well, anyhow," said he, "I'll drink your health, my darling girl, this
day, as Lady Scatterbrain--for you must consider yourself as sitch."
"Behave yourself, my lord," said Oonah, archly.
"Bother!" cried Andy, snatching another kiss.
"Hillo!" cried Dick Dawson, entering at the moment, and seeing the
romping-match. "You're losing no time, I see, Andy."
Oonah was running from the room, laughing and blushing, when Dick
interposed, and cried, "Ah, don't go, 'my lady,' that _is to be_."
Oonah slapped down the hand that barred her progress, exclaiming, "You're
just as bad as he is, Mister Dawson!" and ran away.
Dick had ridden over, on hearing the news, to congratulate Andy, and
consented to remain and dine with him. Oonah had rather, after what had
taken place, he had not been there, for Dick backed Andy in his tormenting
the girl and joined heartily in drinking to Andy's toast, which, according
to promise, he gave to the health of the future Lady Scatterbrain.
It was impossible to repress Andy's wild delight; and in the excitement of
the hour he tossed off bumper after bumper to all sorts of love-making
toasts, till he was quite overcome by his potations, and fit for no place
but bed. To this last retreat of "the glorious" he was requested to
retire, and, after much coaxing, consented. He staggered over to the
window-curtain, which he mistook for that of the bed; in vain they wanted
to lead him elsewhere--he would sleep in no other bed but _that_
--and, backing out at the window-pane, he made a smash, of which he seemed
sensible, for he said it wasn't a fair trick to put pins in the bed. "I
know it was Oonah did that!--hip!--ha! ha! Lady Scatterbrain!--never mind
--hip!--I'll have my revenge on you yet!"
They could not get him up-stairs, so his mother suggested he should sleep
in her room, which was on the same floor, for that night, and at last he
was got into the apartment. There he was assisted to disrobe, as he stood
swaying about at a dressing-table. Chancing to lay his hands on a
pill-box, he mistook it for his watch.
"Stop--stop!" he stammered forth--"I must wind my watch;" and, suiting the
action to the word, he began twisting about the pill-box, the lid of which
came off and the pills fell about the floor. "Oh, murder!" said Lord
Scatterbrain, "the works of my watch are fallin' about the flure--pick
them up--pick them up--pick them up--" He could speak no more, and
becoming quite incapable of all voluntary action, was undressed and put to
bed, the last sound which escaped him being a faint muttering--"pick them
CHAPTER THE LAST
The day following the eventful one just recorded, the miserable convict
breathed his last. A printed notice was posted in all the adjacent
villages, offering a reward for the apprehension of _Shan More_ and
"other persons unknown," for their murderous assault; and a small reward
was promised for such "private information as might lead to the
apprehension of the aforesaid," &c., &c. Larry Hogan at once came forward
and put the authorities on the scent, but still Shan and his accomplices
remained undiscovered. Larry's information on another subject, however,
was more effective. He gave his own testimony to the previous marriage of
Bridget, and pointed out the means of obtaining more, so that, ere long,
Lord Scatterbrain was a "free man." Though the depositions of the murdered
man did not directly implicate Larry in the murderous attack, still it
showed that he had participated in much of their villany; but, as in
difficult cases, we must put up with bad instruments to reach the ends of
justice, so this rascal was useful for his evidence and private
information, and got his reward.
But he got his reward in more ways than one. He knew that he dare not
longer remain in the country after what had taken place, and set off
directly for Dublin by the mail, intending to proceed to England; but
England he never reached. As he was proceeding down the Custom-house quay
in the dusk of the evening, to get on ship-board, his arms were suddenly
seized and drawn behind him by a powerful grasp, while a woman in front
drew a handkerchief across his mouth, and stifled his attempted cries.
His bundle was dragged from him, and the woman ransacked his pockets
but they contained but a few shillings, Larry having hidden the wages
of his treachery to his confederates in the folds of his neck-cloth.
To pluck this from his throat, many a fierce wrench was made by the
woman, when her attempts on the pockets proved worthless; but the