Part 6 out of 6
handkerchief was knotted so tightly that she could not disengage it. The
approach of some passengers along the quay alarmed the assailants of
Larry, who, ere the iron grip released him, heard a deep curse in his ear
growled by a voice he well knew, and then he felt himself hurled with
gigantic force from the quay wall. Before the base, cheating, faithless
scoundrel could make one exclamation, he was plunged into the Liffey--even
before one mental aspiration for mercy, he was in the throes of
suffocation! The heavy splash in the water caught the attention of those
whose approach had alarmed the murderers, and seeing a man and woman
running, a pursuit commenced, which ended by Newgate having two fresh
tenants the next day.
And so farewell to the entire of the abominable crew, whose evil doings
and merited fates have only been recorded when it became necessary to our
story. It is better to leave the debased and the profligate in oblivion
than drag their doings before the day; and it is with happy consciousness
an Irishman may assert, that there is plenty of subject afforded by Irish
character and Irish life honourable to the land, pleasing to the narrator,
and sufficiently attractive to the reader, without the unwholesome
exaggerations of crime which too often disfigure the fictions which pass
under the title of "Irish," alike offensive to truth as to taste--alike
injurious both for private and public considerations.
* * * * *
It was in the following autumn that a particular chariot drove up to the
door of the Victoria Hotel, on the shore of Killarney lake. A young man
of elegant bearing handed a very charming young lady from the chariot;
aand that kindest and mos accommodating of hostesses, Mrs. F----, welcomed
the fresh arrival with her good-humoured and smiling face.
Why, amidst the crowd of arrivals at the Victoria, one chariot should be
remarkable beyond another, arose from its quiet elegance, which might
strike even a casual observer; but the intelligent Mrs. F---- saw with
half an eye the owners must be high-bred people. To the apartments already
engaged for them they were shown; but few minutes were lost within doors
where such matchless natural beauty tempted them without. A boat was
immediately ordered, and then the newly arrived visitors were soon on the
lake. The boatmen had already worked hard that day, having pulled one
party completely round the lakes--no trifling task; but the hardy fellows
again bent to their oars, and made the sleeping waters wake in golden
flashes to the sunset, till told they need not pull so hard.
"Faith, then, we'll _plaze_ you, sir," said the stroke-oarsman, with
a grin, "for we have had quite enough of it to-day."
"Do you not think, Fanny," said Edward O'Connor, for it was he who spoke
to his bride, "Do you not think 'tis more in unison with the tranquil hour
and the coming shadows, to glide softly over the lulled waters?"
"Yes," she replied, "it seems almost sacrilege to disturb this heavenly
repose by the slightest dip of the oar--see how perfectly that lovely
island is reflected."
"That is Innisfallin, my lady," said the boatman, hearing her allude to
the island, "where the hermitage is." As he spoke, a gleam of light
sparkled on the island, which was reflected on the water.
"One might think the hermit was there too," said Fanny, "and had just
lighted a lamp for his vigils."
"That's the light of the guide that shows the place to the quality, my
lady, and lives on the island always in a corner of the ould ruin. And,
indeed, if you'd like to see the island this evening, there's time enough,
and 'twould be so much saved out of to-morrow."
The boatman's advice was acted upon, and as they glided towards the
island, Fanny and Edward gazed delightedly on the towering summits of
Magillicuddy's reeks, whose spiral pinnacles and graceful declivities told
out sharply against the golden sky behind them, which, being perfectly
reflected in the calm lake, gave a grand chain of mountain the appearance
of being suspended in glowing heather, for the lake was one bright amber
sheet of light below, and the mountains one massive barrier of shade, till
they cut against the light above. The boat touched the shore of
Innisfallin, and the delighted pair of visitants hurried to its western
point to catch the sunset, lighting with its glory the matchless foliage
of this enchanting spot, where every form of grace exhaustless nature can
display is lavished on the arborial richness of the scene, which, in its
unequalled luxuriance, gives to a fanciful beholder the idea that the
_trees themselves have a conscious pleasure in growing there._ Oh!
what a witching spot is Innisfallin!
Edward had never seen anything so beautiful in his life; and with the
woman he adored resting on his arm, he quoted the lines which Moore has
applied to the Vale of Cashmere, as he asked Fanny would she not like to
"Would you?" said Fanny.
"If woman can make the worst wilderness dear,
Think--think what a heaven she must make of Cashmere."
They lingered on the island till the moon arose, and then re-embarked. The
silvery light exhibited the lake under another aspect, and the dimly
discovered forms of the lofty hills rose one above another, tier upon
tier, circling the waters in their shadowy frame, the beauty of the scene
reached a point of sublimity which might be called holy. As they returned
towards the shelving strand, a long row of peeled branches, standing
upright in the water, attracted Fanny's attention, and she asked their
"All the use in life, my lady," said the boatman, "for without the same
branches, maybe it's not home to-night you'd get."
On Fanny inquiring further the meaning of the boatman's answer, she
learned that the sticks were placed there to indicate the only channel
which permitted a boat to approach the shore on that side of the lake,
where the water was shoal, while in other parts the depth had never been
An early excursion on the water was planned for the morning, and Edward
and Fanny were wakened from their slumbers by the tones of the bugle; a
soft Irish melody being breathed by Spillan, followed by a more sportive
one from the other minstrel of the lake, Ganzy.
The lake now appeared under another aspect--the morning sun and morning
breeze were upon it, and the sublimity with which the shades of evening
had invested the mountains was changed to that of the most varied
richness; for Autumn hung out its gaudy banner on the lofty hills, crowned
to their summits with all variety of wood, which, though tinged by the
declining year, had scarcely shed one leafy honour. The day was glorious,
and the favouring breeze enabled the boat to career across the sparkling
lake under canvas, till the overhanging hills of the opposite side robbed
them of their aerial wings, and the sail being struck, the boatmen bent to
their oars. As they passed under a promontory, clothed from the water's
edge to its topmost ridge with the most luxuriant vegetation, it was
pointed out to the lady as "the minister's back."
"'T is a strange name," said Fanny. "Do you know why it is called so?"
"Faix, I dunna, my lady--barrin' that it is the best covered back in the
country. But here we come to the _aichos_," said he, resting on his
oars. The example was followed by his fellows, and the bugler, lifting his
instrument to his lips, gave one long well-sustained blast. It rang across
the waters gallantly. It returned in a few seconds with such unearthly
sweetness, as though the spirit of the departed sound had become heavenly,
and revisited the place where it had expired.
Fanny and Edward listened breathlessly.
The bugle gave out its notes again in the well-known "call," and as
sweetly as before the notes were returned distinctly.
And now a soft and slow and simple melody stole from the exquisitely
played bugle, and phrase after phrase was echoed from the responding
hills. How many an emotion stirred within Edward's breast, as the melting
music fell upon his ear! In the midst of matchless beauties he heard the
matchless strains of his native land, and the echoes of her old hills
responding to the triumphs of her old bards. The air, too, bore with it
historic associations;--it told a tale of wrong and of suffering. The
wrong has ceased, the suffering is past, but the air which records them
"Oh! triumph of the minstrel!" exclaimed Edward in delight. "The tyrant
crumbles in his coffin, while the song of the bard survives! The memory of
a sceptred ruffian is endlessly branded by a simple strain, while many of
the elaborate chronicles of his evil life have passed away and are
mouldering like himself."
Scarcely had the echoes of this exquisite air died away, when the
entrancement it carried was rudely broken by one of the vulgarest tunes
being brayed from a bugle in a boat which was seen rounding the headland
of the wooded promontory. Edward and Fanny writhed, and put their hands to
their ears. "Give way, boys!" said Edward; "for pity's sake get away from
these barbarians. Give way!"
Away sprang the boat. To the boatman's inquiry whether they should stop at
"Lady Kenmare's Cottage," Fanny said "no," when she found on inquiry it
was a particularly "show-place," being certain the vulgar party following
_would_ stop there, and therefore time might be gained in getting
away from such disagreeable followers.
Dinas Island, fringed with its lovely woods, excited their admiration, as
they passed underneath its shadows, and turned into Turk Lake; here the
labyrinthine nature of the channels through which they had been winding
was changed for a circular expanse of water, over which the lofty
mountain, whence it takes its name, towers in all its wild beauty of wood,
and rock, and heath.
At a certain part of the lake, the boatmen, without any visible cause,
rested on their oars. On Edward asking them why they did not pull, he
received this touching answer:--
"Sure, your honour would not have us disturb Ned Macarthy's grave!"
"Then a boatman was drowned here, I suppose?" said Edward.
"Yes, your honour." The boatman then told how the accident occurred "one
day when there was a stag-hunt on the lake;" but as the anecdote struck
Edward so forcibly that he afterwards recorded it in verse, we will give
the story after his fashion.
The breeze was fresh, the morn was fair,
The stag had left his dewy lair;
To cheering horn and baying tongue,
Killarney's echoes sweetly rung.
With sweeping oar and bending mast,
The eager chase was following fast;
When one light skiff a maiden steer'd
Beneath the deep wave disappeared:
Wild shouts of terror wildly ring,
A boatman brave, with gallant spring
And dauntless arm, the lady bore;
But he who saved--was seen no more!
Where weeping birches wildly wave,
There boatmen show their brother's grave;
And while they tell the name he bore,
Suspended hangs the lifted oar;
The silent drops they idly shed
Seem like tears to gallant Ned;
And while gently gliding by,
The tale is told with moistened eye.
No ripple on the slumbering lake
Unhallow'd oar doth ever make;
All undisturb'd, the placid wave
Flows gently o'er Macarthy's grave.
Winding backwards through the channels which lead the explorers of this
scene of nature's enchantment from the lower to the upper lake, the
surpassing beauty of the "Eagle's nest" burst on their view; and as they
hovered under its stupendous crags, clustering with all variety of
verdure, the bugle and the cannon awoke the almost endless reverberation
of sound which is engendered here. Passing onward, a sudden change is
wrought; the soft beauty melts gradually away, and the scene hardens into
frowning rocks and steep acclivities, making a befitting vestibule to the
bold and bleak precipices of "The Reeks," which form the western barrier
of this upper lake, whose savage grandeur is rendered more striking by the
scenes of fairy-like beauty left behind. But even here, in the midst of
the mightiest desolation, the vegetative vigour of the numerous islands
proves the wondrous productiveness of the soil in these regions.
On their return, a great commotion was observable as they approached the
rapids formed by the descending waters of the upper lake to the lower, and
they were hailed and warned by some of the peasants from the shore that
they must not attempt the rapids at present, as a boat, which had just
been upset, lay athwart the passage. On hearing this, Edward and Fanny
landed upon the falls, and walked towards the old bridge, where all
was bustle and confusion, as the dripping passengers were dragged
safely to shore from the capsized boat, which had been upset by the
principal gentleman of the party, whose vulgar trumpetings had so
disturbed the delight of Edward and Fanny, who soon recognised the
renowned Andy as the instigator of the bad music and the cause of the
accident. Yes, Lord Scatterbrain, true to his original practice, was
author of all.
Nevertheless, he and his party, soused over head and ears as they were,
took the thing in good humour, which was unbroken even by the
irrepressible laughter which escaped from Edward and Fanny, as they
approached and kindly offered assistance. An immediate removal to the
neighbouring cottage on Dinas Island was recommended, particularly as Lady
Scatterbrain was in a delicate situation, as well, indeed, as Mrs. Durfy,
who, with her dear Tom, had joined Lord Scatterbrain's party of pleasure.
On reaching the cottage, sufficient change of clothes was obtained to
prevent evil consequences from the ducking. This, under ordinary
circumstances, might not have been easy for so many; but, fortunately,
Lord Scatterbrain had ordered a complete dinner from the hotel to be
served in the cottage, and some of the assistants from the Victoria, who
were necessarily present, helped to dress more than the dinner. What
between cookmaids and waiters, the care-taker of the cottage and the
boatmen, bodies, and skirts, jackets and other conveniences, enabled the
party to sit down to dinner in company, until fire could mend the mistake
of his lordship. Edward and Fanny courteously joined the party; and the
honour of their company was sensibly felt by Andy and Oonah, who would
have borne a ducking a day for the honour of having Fanny and Edward as
their guests. Oonah was by nature a nice creature, and adapted herself to
her elevated position with a modest ease that was surprising. Even Andy
was by this time able to conduct himself tolerably well at table--only on
that particular day he did make a mistake; for when salmon (which is
served at Killarney in all sorts of variety) made its appearance for the
first time in the novel form "_en papillote_," Andy ate paper and
all. He refused a second cutlet, however, saying he "_thought the skin
tough_." The party, however, passed off mirthfully, the very accident
helping the fun; for, instead of any one being called by name, the "lady
in the jacket," or the "gentleman in the bedgown," were the terms of
address; and, after a merrily spent evening, the beds of the Victoria gave
sleep and pleasing dreams to the sojourners of Killarney.
[Illustration: The Party at Killarney]
Kind reader! the shortening space we have prescribed to our volume warns
us we must draw our story to an end. Nine months after this Killarney
excursion, Lord Scatterbrain met Dick Dawson near Mount Eskar, where Lord
Scatterbrain had ridden to make certain inquiries about Mrs. O'Connor's
health. Dick wore a smiling countenance, and to Andy's inquiry answered,
"All right, and doing as well as can be expected."
Lord Scatterbrain, wishing to know whether it was a boy or a girl, made
the inquiry in the true spirit of Andyism--"Tell me, Misther Dawson,
_are you an uncle or an aunt?_"
Andy's mother died soon after of the cold caught by her ducking. On her
death-bed she called Oonah to her, and said, "I leave you this quilt,
_alanna_--'t is worth more than it appears. The hundred-pound notes
Andy gave me I quilted into the lining, so that if I lived poor all my
life till lately, I died under a quilt of banknotes, anyhow."
Uncle Bob was gathered to his fathers also, and left the bulk of his
property to Augusta, so that Furlong had to regret his contemptible
conduct in rejecting her hand. Augusta indulged in a spite to all mankind
for the future, enjoying her dogs and her independence, and defying Hymen
and hydrophobia for the rest of her life.
Gusty went on profiting by the early care of Edward O'Connor, whose
friendship was ever his dearest possession; and Ratty, always wild,
expressed a desire for leading a life of enterprise. As they are both
"Irish heirs," as well as Lord Scatterbrain, and heirs under very
different circumstances, it is not improbable that in our future
"accounts" something may yet be heard of them, and the grateful author
once more meet his kind readers.