Part 11 out of 12
silence in the half-darkened room.
The stern immobility of his pale features, the glassy and meaningless stare
of his large blue eyes, the unvarying rhythm of a long-drawn respiration,
were signs that at length became more painful to contemplate than evidences
of actual suffering; and as day by day went on, and interest grew more and
more eager about the trial, which was fixed for the coming assize, it
was pitiable to see him, whose fate was so deeply pledged on the issue,
unconscious of all that went on around him, and not caring to know any of
those details the very least of which might determine his future lot.
The instructions drawn up for the defence were sadly in need of the sort of
information which the sick man alone could supply; and Nina and Kate had
both been entreated to watch for the first favourable moment that should
present itself, and ask certain questions, the answers to which would be of
the last importance.
Though Gill's affidavit gave many evidences of unscrupulous falsehood,
there was no counter-evidence to set against it, and O'Shea's counsel
complained strongly of the meagre instructions which were briefed to him in
the case, and his utter inability to construct a defence upon them.
'He said he would tell me something this evening, Kate,' said Nina; 'so, if
you will let me, I will go in your place and remind him of his promise.'
This hopeful sign of returning intelligence was so gratifying to Kate that
she readily consented to the proposition of her cousin taking her 'watch,'
and, if possible, learning something of his wishes.
'He said it,' continued Nina, 'like one talking to himself, and it was not
easy to follow him. The words, as well as I could make out, were, "I will
say it to-day--this evening, if I can. When it is said"--here he muttered
something, but I cannot say whether the words were, "My mind will be at
rest," or "I shall be at rest for evermore."'
Kate did not utter a word, but her eyes swam, and two large tears stole
slowly down her face.
'His own conviction is that he is dying,' said Nina; but Kate never spoke.
'The doctors persist,' continued Nina, 'in declaring that this depression
is only a well-known symptom of the attack, and that all affections of the
brain are marked by a certain tone of despondency. They even say more, and
that the cases where this symptom predominates are more frequently followed
by recovery. Are you listening to me, child?'
'No; I was following some thoughts of my own.'
'I was merely telling you why I think he is getting better.'
Kate leaned her head on her cousin's shoulder, and she did not speak. The
heaving motion of her shoulders and her chest betrayed the agitation she
could not subdue.
'I wish his aunt were here; I see how her absence frets him. Is she too ill
for the journey?' asked Nina.
'She says not, and she seems in some way to be coerced by others; but a
telegram this morning announces she would try and reach Kilgobbin this
'What could coercion mean? Surely this is mere fancy?'
'I am not so certain of that. The convent has great hopes of inheriting her
fortune. She is rich, and she is a devout Catholic; and we have heard of
cases where zeal for the Church has pushed discretion very far.'
'What a worldly creature it is!' cried Nina; 'and who would have suspected
'I do not see the worldliness of my believing that people will do much to
serve the cause they follow. When chemists tell us that there is no
finding such a thing as a glass of pure water, where are we to go for pure
'To one's heart, of course,' said Nina; but the curl of her perfectly-cut
lip as she said it, scarcely vouched for the sincerity.
On that same evening, just as the last flickerings of twilight were dying
away, Nina stole into the sick-room, and took her place noiselessly beside
Slowly moving his arm without turning his head, or by any gesture whatever
acknowledging her presence, he took her hand and pressed it to his burning
lips, and then laid it upon his cheek. She made no effort to withdraw her
hand, and sat perfectly still and motionless.
'Are we alone?' whispered he, in a voice hardly audible.
'Yes, quite alone.'
'If I should say what--displease you,' faltered he, his agitation making
speech even more difficult; 'how shall I tell?' And once more he pressed
her hand to his lips.
'No, no; have no fears of displeasing me. Say what you would like to tell
'It is this, then,' said he, with an effort. 'I am dying with my secret in
my heart. I am dying, to carry away with me the love I am not to tell--my
love for you, Kate.'
'I am _not_ Kate,' was almost on her lips; but her struggle to keep silent
was aided by that desire so strong in her nature--to follow out a situation
of difficulty to the end. She did not love him, nor did she desire his
love; but a strange sense of injury at hearing his profession of love for
another shot a pang of intense suffering through her heart, and she lay
back in her chair with a cold feeling of sickness like fainting. The
overpowering passion of her nature was jealousy; and to share even the
admiration of a salon, the 'passing homage,' as such deference is called,
with another, was a something no effort of her generosity could compass.
Though she did not speak, she suffered her hand to remain unresistingly
within his own. After a short pause he went on: 'I thought yesterday that I
was dying; and in my rambling intellect I thought I took leave of you; and
do you know my last words--my last words, Kate?'
'No; what were they?'
'My last words were these: "Beware of the Greek; have no friendship with
'And why that warning?' said she, in a low, faint voice.
'She is not of us, Kate; none of her ways or thoughts are ours, nor would
they suit us. She is subtle, and clever, and sly; and these only mislead
those who lead simple lives.'
'May it not be that you wrong her?'
'I have tried to learn her nature.'
'Not to love it?'
'I believe I was beginning to love her--just when you were cold to me. You
'I do; and it was this coldness was the cause? Was it the only cause?'
'No, no. She has wiles and ways which, with her beauty, make her nigh
'And now you are cured of this passion? There is no trace of it in your
'Not a vestige. But why speak of her?'
'Perhaps I am jealous.'
Once more he pressed his lips to her hand, and kissed it rapturously.
'No, Kate,' cried he, 'none but you have the place in my heart. Whenever I
have tried a treason, it has turned against me. Is there light enough in
the room to find a small portfolio of red-brown leather? It is on that
Had the darkness been not almost complete, Nina would scarcely have
ventured to rise and cross the room, so fearful was she of being
'It is locked,' said she, as she laid it beside him on the bed; but
touching a secret spring, he opened it, and passed his fingers hurriedly
through the papers within.
'I believe it must be this,' said he. 'I think I know the feel of the
paper. It is a telegram from my aunt; the doctor gave it to me last night.
We read it over together four or five times. This is it, and these are the
words: "If Kate will be your wife, the estate of O'Shea's Barn is your own
'Is she to have no time to think over this offer?' asked she.
'Would you like candles, miss?' asked a maid-servant, of whose presence
there neither of the others had been aware.
'No, nor are you wanted,' said Nina haughtily, as she arose; while it was
not without some difficulty she withdrew her hand from the sick man's
'I know,' said he falteringly, 'you would not leave me if you had not left
hope to keep me company in your absence. Is not that so, Kate?'
'Bye-bye,' said she softly, and stole away.
AN ANGRY COLLOQUY
It was with passionate eagerness Nina set off in search of Kate. Why she
should have felt herself wronged, outraged, insulted even, is not so easy
to say, nor shall I attempt any analysis of the complex web of sentiments
which, so to say, spread itself over her faculties. The man who had so
wounded her self-love had been at her feet, he had followed her in her
walks, hung over the piano as she sang--shown by a thousand signs that sort
of devotion by which men intimate that their lives have but one solace, one
ecstasy, one joy. By what treachery had he been moved to all this, if he
really loved another? That he was simply amusing himself with the sort
of flirtation she herself could take up as a mere pastime was not to be
believed. That the worshipper should be insincere in his worship was too
dreadful to think of. And yet it was to this very man she had once turned
to avenge herself on Walpole's treatment of her; she had even said, 'Could
you not make a quarrel with him?' Now, no woman of foreign breeding puts
such a question without the perfect consciousness that, in accepting a
man's championship, she has virtually admitted his devotion. Her own levity
of character, the thoughtless indifference with which she would sport with
any man's affections, so far from inducing her to palliate such caprices,
made her more severe and unforgiving. 'How shall I punish him for this? How
shall I make him remember whom it is he has insulted?' repeated she over
and over to herself as she went.
The servants passed her on the stairs with trunks and luggage of various
kinds; but she was too much engrossed with her own thoughts to notice them.
Suddenly the words, 'Mr. Walpole's room,' caught her ear, and she asked,
'Has any one come?'
Yes, two gentlemen had just arrived. A third was to come that night, and
Miss O'Shea might be expected at any moment.
'Where was Miss Kate?' she inquired.
'In her own room at the top of the house.'
Thither she hastened at once.
'Be a dear good girl,' cried Kate as Nina entered, 'and help me in my many
embarrassments. Here are a flood of visitors all coming unexpectedly. Major
Lockwood and Mr. Walpole have come. Miss Betty will be here for dinner, and
Mr. Atlee, whom we all believed to be in Asia, may arrive to-night. I shall
be able to feed them; but how to lodge them with any pretension to comfort
is more than I can see.'
'I am in little humour to aid any one. I have my own troubles--worse ones,
perhaps, than playing hostess to disconsolate travellers.'
'And what are your troubles, dear Nina?'
'I have half a mind not to tell you. You ask me with that supercilious air
that seems to say, "How can a creature like you be of interest enough to
any one or anything to have a difficulty?"'
'I force no confidences,' said the other coldly.
'For that reason you shall have them--at least this one. What will you
say when I tell you that young O'Shea has made me a declaration, a formal
declaration of love?'
'I should say that you need not speak of it as an insult or an offence.'
'Indeed! and if so, you would say what was perfectly wrong. It was both
insult and offence--yes, both. Do you know that the man mistook me for
_you_, and called me _Kate_?'
'How could this be possible?'
'In a darkened room, with a sick man slowly rallying from a long attack
of stupor; nothing of me to be seen but my hand, which he devoured with
kisses--raptures, indeed, Kate, of which I had no conception till I
experienced them by counterfeit!'
'Oh! Nina, this is not fair!'
'It is true, child. The man caught my hand and declared he would never quit
it till I promised it should be his own. Nor was he content with this; but,
anticipating his right to be lord and master, he bade you to beware of
_me_! "Beware of that Greek girl!" were his words--words strengthened by
what he said of my character and my temperament. I shall spare you, and I
shall spare myself, his acute comments on the nature he dreaded to see in
companionship with his wife. I have had good training in learning these
unbiassed judgments--my early life abounded in such experiences--but this
young gentleman's cautions were candour itself.'
'I am sincerely sorry for what has pained you.'
'I did not say it was this boy's foolish words had wounded me so acutely. I
could bear sterner critics than he is--his very blundering misconception of
me would always plead his pardon. How could he, or how could they with whom
he lived and talked, and smoked and swaggered, know of me, or such as me?
What could there be in the monotonous vulgarity of their tiresome lives
that should teach them what we are, or what we wish to be? By what
presumption did he dare to condemn all that he could not understand?'
'You are angry, Nina; and I will not say without some cause.'
'What ineffable generosity! You can really constrain yourself to believe
that I have been insulted!'
'I should not say insulted.'
'You cannot be an honest judge in such a cause. Every outrage offered to
_me_ was an act of homage to _yourself_! If you but knew how I burned to
tell him who it was whose hand he held in his, and to whose ears he had
poured out his raptures! To tell him, too, how the Greek girl would have
resented his presumption, had he but dared to indulge it! One of the
women-servants, it would seem, was a witness to this boy's declaration.
I think it was Mary was in the room, I do not know for how long, but she
announced her presence by asking some question about candles. In fact, I
shall have become a servants'-hall scandal by this time.'
'There need not be any fear of that, Nina: there are no bad tongues amongst
'I know all that. I know we live amidst human perfectabilities--all of
Irish manufacture, and warranted to be genuine.'
'I would hope that some of your impressions of Ireland are not
'I scarcely know. I suppose you understand each other, and are tolerant
about capricious moods and ways, which, to strangers, might seem to have a
deeper significance. I believe you are not as hasty, or as violent, or
as rash as you seem, and I am sure you are not as impulsive in your
generosity, or as headlong in your affections. Not exactly that you mean to
be false, but you are hypocrites to yourselves.'
'A very flattering picture of us.'
'I do not mean to flatter you; and it is to this end I say, you are
Italians without the subtlety of the Italian, and Greeks without their
genius.--You need not curtsy so profoundly.--I could say worse than this,
Kate, if I were minded to do so.'
'Pray do not be so minded, then. Pray remember that, even when you wound
me, I cannot return the thrust.'
'I know what you mean,' cried Nina rapidly. 'You are veritable Arabs in
your estimate of hospitality, and he who has eaten your salt is sacred.'
'You remind me of what I had nigh forgotten, Nina--of our coming guests.'
'Do you know why Walpole and his friend are coming?'
'They are already come, Nina--they are out walking with papa; but what has
brought them here I cannot guess, and, since I have heard your description
of Ireland, I cannot imagine.'
'Nor can I,' said she indolently, and moved away.
MATHEW KEARNEY'S REFLECTIONS
To have his house full of company, to see his table crowded with guests,
was nearer perfect happiness than anything Kearney knew; and when he set
out, the morning after the arrival of the strangers, to show Major Lockwood
where he would find a brace of woodcocks, the old man was in such spirits
as he had not known for years.
'Why don't your friend Walpole come with us?' asked he of his companion, as
they trudged across the bog.
'I believe I can guess,' mumbled out the other; 'but I'm not quite sure I
ought to tell.'
'I see,' said Kearney, with a knowing leer; 'he's afraid I'll roast him
about that unlucky despatch he wrote. He thinks I'll give him no peace
about that bit of stupidity; for you see, major, it _was_ stupid, and
nothing less. Of all the things we despise in Ireland, take my word for
it, there is nothing we think so little of as a weak Government. We can
stand up strong and bold against hard usage, and we gain self-respect by
resistance; but when you come down to conciliations and what you call
healing measures, we feel as if you were going to humbug us, and there
is not a devilment comes into our heads we would not do, just to see how
you'll bear it; and it's then your London newspapers cry out: "What's the
use of doing anything for Ireland? We pulled down the Church, and we robbed
the landlords, and we're now going to back Cardinal Cullen for them, and
there they are murthering away as bad as ever."'
'Is it not true?' asked the major.
'And whose fault if it _is_ true? Who has broke down the laws in Ireland
but yourselves? We Irish never said that many things _you_ called crimes
were bad in morals, and when it occurs to you now to doubt if they are
crimes, I'd like to ask you, why wouldn't _we_ do them? You won't give us
our independence, and so we'll fight for it; and though, maybe, we can't
lick you, we'll make your life so uncomfortable to you, keeping us down,
that you'll beg a compromise--a healing measure, you'll call it--just as
when I won't give Tim Sullivan a lease, he takes a shot at me; and as I
reckon the holes in my hat, I think better of it, and take a pound or two
off his rent.'
'So that, in fact, you court the policy of conciliation?'
'Only because I'm weak, major--because I'm weak, and that I must live
in the neighbourhood. If I could pass my days out of the range of Tim's
carbine, I wouldn't reduce him a shilling.'
'I can make nothing of Ireland or Irishmen either.'
'Why would you? God help us! we are poor enough and wretched enough; but
we're not come down to that yet that a major of dragoons can read us like
'So far as I see you wish for a strong despotism.'
'In one way it would suit us well. Do you see, major, what a weak
administration and uncertain laws do? They set every man in Ireland about
righting himself by his own hand. If I know I shall be starved when I am
turned out of my holding, I'm not at all so sure I'll be hanged if I shoot
my landlord. Make me as certain of the one as the other, and I'll not shoot
'I believe I understand you.'
'No, you don't, nor any Cockney among you.'
'I'm not a Cockney.'
'I don't care, you're the same: you're not one of us; nor if you spent
fifty years among us, would you understand us.'
'Come over and see me in Berkshire, Kearney, and let me see if you can read
our people much better.'
'From all I hear, there's not much to read. Your chawbacon isn't as cute a
fellow as Pat.'
'He's easier to live with.'
'Maybe so; but I wouldn't care for a life with such people about me. I like
human nature, and human feelings--ay, human passions, if you must call them
so. I want to know--I can make some people love me, though I well know
there must be others will hate me. You're all for tranquillity all over in
England--a quiet life you call it. I like to live without knowing what's
coming, and to feel all the time that I know enough of the game to be able
to play it as well as my neighbours. Do you follow me now, major?'
'I'm not quite certain I do.'
'No--but I'm quite certain you don't; and, indeed, I wonder at myself
talking to you about these things at all.'
'I'm much gratified that you do so. In fact, Kearney, you give me courage
to speak a little about myself and my own affairs; and, if you will allow
me, to ask your advice.'
This was an unusually long speech for the major, and he actually seemed
fatigued when he concluded. He was, however, consoled for his exertions by
seeing what pleasure his words had conferred on Kearney; and with what
racy self-satisfaction, that gentleman heard himself mentioned as a 'wise
'I believe I do know a little of life, major,' said he sententiously. 'As
old Giles Dackson used to say, "Get Mathew Kearney to tell you what he
thinks of it." You knew Giles?'
'Well, you've heard of him? No! not even that. There's another proof of
what I was saying--we're two people, the English and the Irish. If it
wasn't so, you'd be no stranger to the sayings and doings of one of the
cutest men that ever lived.'
'We have witty fellows too.'
'No, you haven't! Do you call your House of Commons' jokes wit? Are
the stories you tell at your hustings' speeches wit? Is there one over
there'--and he pointed in the direction of England--'that ever made a smart
repartee or a brilliant answer to any one about anything? You now and then
tell an Irish story, and you forget the point; or you quote a French _mot_,
and leave out the epigram. Don't be angry--it's truth I'm telling you.'
'I'm not angry, though I must say I don't think you are fair to us.'
The last bit of brilliancy you had in the House was Brinsley Sheridan, and
there wasn't much English about _him_.'
'I've never heard that the famous O'Connell used to convulse the House with
'Why should he? Didn't he know where he was? Do you imagine that O'Connell
was going to do like poor Lord Killeen, who shipped a cargo of coalscuttles
'Will you explain to me then how, if you are so much shrewder and wittier
and cleverer than us, it does not make you richer, more prosperous, and
'I could do that too--but I'm losing the birds. There's a cock now. Well
done! I see you can shoot a bit.--Look here, major, there's a deal in
race--in the blood of a people. It's very hard to make a light-hearted,
joyous people thrifty. It's your sullen fellow, that never cuts a joke, nor
wants any one to laugh at it, that's the man who saves. If you're a wit,
you want an audience, and the best audience is round a dinner-table; and
we know what that costs. Now, Ireland has been very pleasant for the last
hundred and fifty years in that fashion, and you, and scores of other
low-spirited, depressed fellows, come over here to pluck up and rouse
yourselves, and you go home, and you wonder why the people who amused you
were not always as jolly as you saw them. I've known this country now nigh
sixty years, and I never knew a turn of prosperity that didn't make us
stupid; and, upon my conscience, I believe, if we ever begin to grow rich,
we'll not be a bit better than yourselves.'
'That would be very dreadful,' said the other, in mock-horror.
'So it would, whether you mean it or not.--There's a hare missed this
'I was thinking of something I wanted to ask you. The fact is, Kearney, I
have a thing on my mind now.'
'Is it a duel? It's many a day since I was out, but I used to know every
step of the way as well as most men.'
'No, it's not a duel!'
'It's money, then! Bother it for money! What a deal of bad blood it leads
to. Tell me all about it, and I'll see if I can't deal with it.'
'No, it's not money; it has nothing to do with money. I'm not hard up. I
was never less so.'
'Indeed!' cried Kearney, staring at him.
'Why, what do you mean by that?'
'I was curious to see how a man looks, and I'd like to know how he feels,
that didn't want money. I can no more understand it than if a man told me
he didn't want air.'
'If he had enough to breathe freely, could he need more?'
'That would depend on the size of his lungs, and I believe mine are pretty
big. But come now, if there's nobody you want to shoot, and you have a good
balance at the banker's, what can ail you, except it's a girl you want to
marry, and she won't have you?'
'Well, there is a lady in the case.'
'Ay, ay! she's a married woman,' cried Kearney, closing one eye, and
looking intensely cunning. 'Then I may tell you at once, major, I'm no use
to you whatever. If it was a young girl that liked you against the wish
of her family, or that you were in love with though she was below you in
condition, or that was promised to another man but wanted to get out of her
bargain, I'm good for any of these, or scores more of the same kind; but if
it's mischief, and misery, and lifelong sorrow you have in your head, you
must look out for another adviser.'
'It's nothing of the kind,' said the other bluntly. 'It's marriage I was
thinking of. I want to settle down and have a wife.'
'Then why couldn't you, if you think it would be any comfort to you?'
The last words were rather uttered than spoken, and sounded like a sad
reflection uttered aloud.
'I am not a rich man,' said the major, with that strain it always cost
him to speak of himself, 'but I have got enough to live on. A goodish
old house, and a small estate, underlet as it is, bringing me about two
thousand a year, and some expectations, as they call them, from an old
'You have enough, if you marry a prudent girl,' muttered Kearney, who was
never happier than when advocating moderation and discretion.
'Enough, at least, not to look for money with a wife.'
'I'm with you there, heart and soul,' cried Kearney. 'Of all the shabby
inventions of our civilisation, I don't know one as mean as that custom
of giving a marriage-portion with a girl. Is it to induce a man to take
her? Is it to pay for her board and lodging? Is it because marriage is a
partnership, and she must bring her share into the "concern"? or is it to
provide for the day when they are to part company, and each go his own
road? Take it how you like, it's bad and it's shabby. If you're rich enough
to give your daughter twenty or thirty thousand pounds, wait for some
little family festival--her birthday, or her husband's birthday, or a
Christmas gathering, or maybe a christening--and put the notes in her
hand. Oh, major dear,' cried he aloud, 'if you knew how much of life you
lose with lawyers, and what a deal of bad blood comes into the world by
parchments, you'd see the wisdom of trusting more to human kindness and
good feeling, and above all, to the honour of gentlemen--things that
nowadays we always hope to secure by Act of Parliament.'
'I go with a great deal of what you say.'
'Why not with all of it? What do we gain by trying to overreach each other?
What advantage in a system where it's always the rogue that wins? If I was
a king to-morrow, I'd rather fine a fellow for quoting Blackstone than
for blasphemy, and I'd distribute all the law libraries in the kingdom as
cheap fuel for the poor. We pray for peace and quietness, and we educate a
special class of people to keep us always wrangling. Where's the sense of
While Kearney poured out these words in a flow of fervid conviction, they
had arrived at a little open space in the wood, from which various alleys
led off in different directions. Along one of these, two figures were
slowly moving side by side, whom Lockwood quickly recognised as Walpole and
Nina Kostalergi. Kearney did not see them, for his attention was suddenly
called off by a shout from a distance, and his son Dick rode hastily up to
'I have been in search of you all through the plantation,' cried he. 'I
have brought back Holmes the lawyer from Tullamore, who wants to talk to
you about this affair of Gorman's. It's going to be a bad business, I
'Isn't that more of what I was saying?' said the old man, turning to the
major. 'There's law for you!'
'They're making what they call a "National" event of it,' continued Dick.
'The _Pike_ has opened a column of subscriptions to defray the cost of
proceedings, and they've engaged Battersby with a hundred-guinea retainer
It appeared from what tidings Dick brought back from the town, that the
Nationalists--to give them the much unmerited name by which they called
themselves--were determined to show how they could dictate to a jury.
'There's law for you!' cried the old man again.
'You'll have to take to vigilance committees, like the Yankees,' said the
'We've had them for years; but they only shoot their political opponents.'
'They say, too,' broke in the young man, 'that Donogan is in the town, and
that it is he who has organised the whole prosecution. In fact, he intends
to make Battersby's speech for the plaintiff a great declaration of the
wrongs of Ireland; and as Battersby hates the Chief Baron, who will try
the cause, he is determined to insult the Bench, even at the cost of a
'What will he gain by that?' asked Lockwood.
'Every one cannot have a father that was hanged in '98; but any one can go
to gaol for blackguarding a Chief-Justice,' said Kearney.
For a moment or two the old man seemed ashamed at having been led to make
these confessions to 'the Saxon,' and telling Lockwood where he would
be likely to find a brace of cocks, he took his son's arm and returned
VERY CONFIDENTIAL CONVERSATION
When Lockwood returned, only in time to dress for dinner, Walpole, whose
room adjoined his, threw open the door between them and entered. He had
just accomplished a most careful 'tie,' and came in with the air of one
fairly self-satisfied and happy.
'You look quite triumphant this evening,' said the major, half sulkily.
'So I am, old fellow; and so I have a right to be. It's all done and
'Ay, already. I asked her to take a stroll with me in the garden; but we
sauntered off into the plantation. A woman always understands the exact
amount of meaning a man has in a request of this kind, and her instinct
reveals to her at once whether he is eager to tell her some bit of fatal
scandal of one of her own friends, or to make her a declaration.'
A sort of sulky grunt was Lockwood's acknowledgment of this piece of
abstract wisdom--a sort of knowledge he never listened to with much
'I am aware,' said Walpole flippantly, 'the female nature was an omitted
part in your education, Lockwood, and you take small interest in those nice
distinctive traits which, to a man of the world, are exactly what the stars
are to the mariner.'
'Finding out what a woman means by the stars does seem very poor fun.'
'Perhaps you prefer the moon for your observation,' replied Walpole; and
the easy impertinence of his manner was almost too much for the other's
'I don't care for your speculations--I want to hear what passed between you
and the Greek girl.'
'The Greek girl will in a very few days be Mrs. Walpole, and I shall crave
a little more deference for the mention of her.'
'I forgot her name, or I should not have called her with such freedom! What
'Kostalergi. Her father is Kostalergi, Prince of Delos.'
'All right; it will read well in the _Post_.'
'My dear friend, there is that amount of sarcasm in your conversation this
evening, that to a plain man like myself, never ready to reply, and easily
subdued by ridicule, is positively overwhelming. Has any disaster befallen
you that you are become so satirical and severe?'
'Never mind _me_--tell me about yourself,' was the blunt reply.
'I have not the slightest objection. When we had walked a little way
together, and I felt that we were beyond the risk of interruption, I led
her to the subject of my sudden reappearance here, and implied that she,
at least, could not have felt much surprise. "You remember," said I, "I
promised to return?"
'"There is something so conventional," said she, "in these pledges, that
one comes to read them like the 'yours sincerely' at the foot of a letter."
'"I ask for nothing better," said I, taking her up on her own words, "than
to be 'yours sincerely.' It is to ratify that pledge by making you 'mine
sincerely' that I am here."
'"Indeed!" said she slowly, and looking down.
'"I swear it!" said I, kissing her hand, which, however, had a glove on.'
'Why not her cheek?'
'That is not done, major mine, at such times.'
'Well, go on.'
'I can't recall the exact words, for I spoke rapidly; but I told her I was
named Minister at a foreign Court, that my future career was assured, and
that I was able to offer her a station, not, indeed, equal to her deserts,
but that, occupied by her, would be only less than royal.'
'At Guatemala!' exclaimed the other derisively.
'Have the kindness to keep your geography to yourself,' said Walpole. 'I
merely said in South America, and she had too much delicacy to ask more.'
'But she said Yes? She consented?'
'Yes, sir, she said she would venture to commit her future to my charge.'
'Didn't she ask you what means you had? what was your income?'
'Not exactly in the categorical way you put it, but she alluded to the
possible style we should live in.'
'I'll swear she did. That girl asked you, in plain words, how many hundreds
or thousands you had a year?'
'And I told her. I said, "It sounds humbly, dearest, to tell you we shall
not have fully two thousand a year; but the place we are going to is the
cheapest in the universe, and we shall have a small establishment of not
more than forty black and about a dozen white servants, and at first only
keep twenty horses, taking our carriages on job."'
'What about pin-money?'
'There is not much extravagance in toilet, and so I said she must manage
with a thousand a year.'
'And she didn't laugh in your face?'
'No, sir! nor was there any strain upon her good-breeding to induce her to
laugh in my face.'
'At all events, you discussed the matter in a fine practical spirit. Did
you go into groceries? I hope you did not forget groceries?'
'My dear Lockwood, let me warn you against being droll. You ask me for a
correct narrative, and when I give it, you will not restrain that subtle
sarcasm the mastery of which makes you unassailable.'
'When is it to be? When is it to come off? Has she to write to His Serene
Highness the Prince of What's-his-name?'
'No, the Prince of What's-his-name need not be consulted; Lord Kilgobbin
will stand in the position of father to her.'
Lockwood muttered something, in which 'Give her away!' were the only words
audible. 'I must say,' added he aloud, 'the wooing did not take long.'
'You forget that there was an actual engagement between us when I left this
for London. My circumstances at that time did not permit me to ask her at
once to be my wife; but our affections were pledged, and--even if more
tender sentiments did not determine--my feeling, as a man of honour,
required I should come back here to make her this offer.'
'All right; I suppose it will do--I hope it will do; and after all, I take
it, you are likely to understand each other better than others would.'
'Such is our impression and belief.'
'How will your own people--how will Danesbury like it?'
'For their sakes I trust they will like it very much; for mine, it is less
than a matter of indifference to me.'
'She, however--she will expect to be properly received amongst them?'
'Yes,' cried Walpole, speaking for the first time in a perfectly natural
tone, divested of all pomposity. 'Yes, she stickles for that, Lockwood. It
was the one point she seemed to stand out for. Of course I told her she
would be received with open arms by my relatives--that my family would be
overjoyed to receive her as one of them. I only hinted that my lord's gout
might prevent him from being at the wedding. I'm not sure Uncle Danesbury
would not come over. "And the charming Lady Maude," asked she, "would she
honour me so far as to be a bridesmaid?"'
'She didn't say that?'
'She did. She actually pushed me to promise I should ask her.'
'Which you never would.'
'Of that I will not affirm I am quite positive; but I certainly intend to
press my uncle for some sort of recognition of the marriage--a civil note;
better still, if it could be managed, an invitation to his house in town.'
'You are a bold fellow to think of it.'
'Not so bold as you imagine. Have you not often remarked that when a man of
good connections is about to exile himself by accepting a far-away post,
whether it be out of pure compassion or a feeling that it need never
be done again, and that they are about to see the last of him; but,
somehow--whatever the reason--his friends are marvellously civil and polite
to him, just as some benevolent but eccentric folk send a partridge to the
condemned felon for his last dinner.'
'They do that in France.'
'Here it would be a rumpsteak; but the sentiment is the same. At all
events, the thing is as I told you, and I do not despair of Danesbury.'
'For the letter, perhaps not; but he'll never ask you to Bruton Street,
nor, if he did, could you accept.'
'You are thinking of Lady Maude.'
'There would be no difficulty in that quarter. When a Whig becomes Tory, or
a Tory Whig, the gentlemen of the party he has deserted never take umbrage
in the same way as the vulgar dogs below the gangway; so it is in the
world. The people who must meet, must dine together, sit side by side
at flower-shows and garden-parties, always manage to do their hatreds
decorously, and only pay off their dislikes by instalments. If Lady Maude
were to receive my wife at all, it would be with a most winning politeness.
All her malevolence would limit itself to making the supposed underbred
woman commit a _gaucherie_, to do or say something that ought not to have
been done or said; and, as I know Nina can stand the test, I have no fears
for the experiment.'
A knock at the door apprised them that the dinner was waiting, neither
having heard the bell which had summoned them a quarter of an hour before.
'And I wanted to hear all about your progress,' cried Walpole, as they
descended the staircase together.
'I have none to report,' was the gruff reply.
'Why, surely you have not passed the whole day in Kearney's company without
some hint of what you came here for?'
But at the same moment they were in the dining-room.
'We are a man party to-day, I am sorry to say,' cried old Kearney, as
they entered. 'My niece and my daughter are keeping Miss O'Shea company
upstairs. She is not well enough to come down to dinner, and they have
scruples about leaving her in solitude.'
'At least we'll have a cigar after dinner,' was Dick's ungallant reflection
as they moved away.
TWO YOUNG LADIES ON MATRIMONY
'I hope they had a pleasanter dinner downstairs than we have had here,'
said Nina, as, after wishing Miss O'Shea a good-night, the young girls
slowly mounted the stairs.
'Poor old godmother was too sad and too depressed to be cheerful company;
but did she not talk well and sensibly on the condition of the country? was
it not well said, when she showed the danger of all that legislation which,
assuming to establish right, only engenders disunion and class jealousy?'
'I never followed her; I was thinking of something else.'
'She was worth listening to, then. She knows the people well, and she sees
all the mischief of tampering with natures so imbued with distrust. The
Irishman is a gambler, and English law-makers are always exciting him to
'It seems to me there is very little on the game.'
'There is everything--home, family, subsistence, life itself--all that a
man can care for.'
'Never mind these tiresome themes; come into my room; or I'll go to yours,
for I'm sure you've a better fire; besides, I can walk away if you offend
me: I mean offend beyond endurance, for you are sure to say something
'I hope you wrong me, Nina.'
'Perhaps I do. Indeed, I half suspect I do; but the fact is, it is not your
words that reproach me, it is your whole life of usefulness is my reproach,
and the least syllable you utter comes charged with all the responsibility
of one who has a duty and does it, to a mere good-for-nothing. There, is
not that humility enough?'
'More than enough, for it goes to flattery.'
'I'm not a bit sure all the time that I'm not the more lovable creature of
the two. If you like, I'll put it to the vote at breakfast.'
'Very shocking, that's the phrase for it, very shocking! Oh dear, what a
nice fire, and what a nice little snug room; how is it, will you tell me,
that though my room is much larger and better furnished in every way, your
room is always brighter and neater, and more like a little home? They fetch
you drier firewood, and they bring you flowers, wherever they get them. I
know well what devices of roguery they practise.'
'Shall I give you tea?'
'Of course I'll have tea. I expect to be treated like a favoured guest in
all things, and I mean to take this arm-chair, and the nice soft cushion
for my feet, for I warn you, Kate, I'm here for two hours. I've an immense
deal to tell you, and I'll not go till it's told.'
'I'll not turn you out.'
'I'll take care of that; I have not lived in Ireland for nothing. I have
a proper sense of what is meant by possession, and I defy what your great
Minister calls a heartless eviction. Even your tea is nicer, it is more
fragrant than any one else's. I begin to hate you out of sheer jealousy.'
'That is about the last feeling I ought to inspire.'
'More humility; but I'll drop rudeness and tell you my story, for I have a
story to tell. Are you listening? Are you attentive? Well, my Mr. Walpole,
as you called him once, is about to become so in real earnest. I could have
made a long narrative of it and held you in weary suspense, but I prefer
to dash at once into the thick of the fray, and tell you that he has this
morning made me a formal proposal, and I have accepted him. Be pleased to
bear in mind that this is no case of a misconception or a mistake. No young
gentleman has been petting and kissing my hand for another's; no tender
speeches have been uttered to the ears they were not meant for. I have been
wooed this time for myself, and on my own part I have said Yes.'
'You told me you had accepted him already. I mean when he was here last.'
'Yes, after a fashion. Don't you know, child, that though lawyers maintain
that a promise to do a certain thing, to make a lease or some contract, has
in itself a binding significance, that in Cupid's Court this is not law?
and the man knew perfectly that all passed between us hitherto had no
serious meaning, and bore no more real relation to marriage than an outpost
encounter to a battle. For all that has taken place up to this, we might
never fight--I mean marry--after all. The sages say that a girl should
never believe a man means marriage till he talks money to her. Now, Kate,
he talked money; and I believed him.'
'I wish you would tell me of these things seriously, and without banter.'
'So I do. Heaven knows I am in no jesting humour. It is in no outburst of
high spirits or gaiety a girl confesses she is going to marry a man who has
neither wealth nor station to offer, and whose fine connections are just
fine enough to be ashamed of him.'
'Are you in love with him?'
'If you mean, do I imagine that this man's affection and this man's
companionship are more to me than all the comforts and luxuries of life
with another, I am not in love with him; but if you ask me, am I satisfied
to risk my future with so much as I know of his temper, his tastes, his
breeding, his habits, and his abilities, I incline to say Yes. Married
life, Kate, is a sort of dietary, and one should remember that what he has
to eat of every day ought not to be too appetising.'
'I abhor your theory.'
'Of course you do, child; and you fancy, naturally enough, that you would
like ortolans every day for dinner; but my poor cold Greek temperament has
none of the romantic warmth of your Celtic nature. I am very moderate in my
hopes, very humble in all my ambitions.'
'It is not thus I read you.'
'Very probably. At all events, I have consented to be Mr. Walpole's wife,
and we are to be Minister Plenipotentiary and Special Envoy somewhere. It
is not Bolivia, nor the Argentine Republic, but some other fabulous region,
where the only fact is yellow fever.'
'And you really like him?'
'I hope so, for evidently it must be on love we shall have to live, one
half of our income being devoted to saddle-horses and the other to my
'How absurd you are!'
'No, not I. It is Mr. Walpole himself, who, not trusting much to my skill
at arithmetic, sketched out this schedule of expenditure; and then I
bethought me how simple this man must deem me. It was a flattery that won
me at once. Oh! Kate dearest, if you could understand the ecstasy of being
thought, not a fool, but one easily duped, easily deceived!'
'I don't know what you mean.'
'It is this, then, that to have a man's whole heart--whether it be worth
the having is another and a different question--you must impress him with
his immense superiority in everything--that he is not merely physically
stronger than you, and bolder and more courageous, but that he is mentally
more vigorous and more able, judges better, decides quicker, resolves more
fully than you; and that, struggle how you will, you pass your life in
eternally looking up to this wonderful god, who vouchsafes now and then to
caress you, and even say tender things to you.'
'Is it, Nina, that you have made a study of these things, or is all this
'Most innocent young lady! I no more dreamed of these things to apply
to such men as your country furnishes--good, homely, commonplace
creatures--than I should have thought of asking you to adopt French cookery
to feed them. I spoke of such men as one meets in what I may call the real
world: as for the others, if they feel life to be a stage, they are always
going about in slipshod fashion, as if at rehearsal. Men like your brother
and young O'Shea, for instance--tossed here and there by accidents, made
one thing by a chance, and something else by a misfortune. Take my word for
it, the events of life are very vulgar things; the passions and emotions
they evoke, _these_ constitute the high stimulants of existence, they make
the _gross jeu_, which it is so exciting to play.'
'I follow you with some difficulty; but I am rude enough to own I scarcely
'I know, I know all about that sweet innocence that fancies to ignore
anything is to obliterate it; but it's a fool's paradise, after all, Kate.
We are in the world, and we must accept it as it is made for us.'
'I'll not ask, does your theory make you better, but does it make you
'If being duped were an element of bliss, I should say certainly not
happier, but I doubt the blissful ignorance of your great moralist. I
incline to believe that the better you play any game--life amongst the
rest--the higher the pleasure it yields. I can afford to marry, without
believing my husband to be a paragon--could _you_ do as much?'
'I should like to know that I preferred him to any one else.'
'So should I, and I would only desire to add "to every one else that asked
me." Tell the truth, Kate dearest, we are here all alone, and can afford
sincerity. How many of us girls marry the man we should like to marry,
and if the game were reversed, and it were to be _we_ who should make the
choice--the slave pick out his master--how many, think you, would be wedded
to their present mates?'
'So long as we can refuse him we do not like, I cannot think our case a
'Neither should I if I could stand fast at three-and-twenty. The dread
of that change of heart and feeling that will come, must come, ten years
later, drives one to compromise with happiness, and take a part of what you
once aspired to the whole.'
'You used to think very highly of Mr. Walpole; admired, and I suspect you
'All true--my opinion is the same still. He will stand the great test that
one can go into the world with him and not be ashamed of him. I know,
dearest, even without that shake of the head, the small value you attach
to this, but it is a great element in that droll contract, by which one
person agrees to pit his temper against another's, and which we are told
is made in heaven, with angels as sponsors. Mr. Walpole is sufficiently
good-looking to be prepossessing, he is well bred, very courteous,
converses extremely well, knows his exact place in life, and takes it
quietly but firmly. All these are of value to his wife, and it is not easy
to over-rate them.'
'Is that enough?'
'Enough for what? If you mean for romantic love, for the infatuation that
defies all change of sentiment, all growth of feeling, that revels in the
thought, experience will not make us wiser, nor daily associations less
admiring, it is not enough. I, however, am content to bid for a much
humbler lot. I want a husband who, if he cannot give me a brilliant
station, will at least secure me a good position in life, a reasonable
share of vulgar comforts, some luxuries, and the ordinary routine of what
are called pleasures. If, in affording me these, he will vouchsafe to add
good temper, and not high spirits--which are detestable--but fair spirits,
I think I can promise him, not that I shall make him happy, but that he
will make himself so, and it will afford me much gratification to see it.'
'Is this real, or--'
'Or what? Say what was on your lips.'
'Or are you utterly heartless?' cried Kate, with an effort that covered her
face with blushes.
'I don't think I am,' said she oddly and calmly; 'but all I have seen of
life teaches me that every betrayal of a feeling or a sentiment is like
what gamblers call showing your hand, and is sure to be taken advantage of
by the other players. It's an ugly illustration, dear Kate, but in the same
round game we call life there is so much cheating that if you cannot afford
to be pillaged, you must be prudent.'
'I am glad to feel that I can believe you to be much better than you make
'Do so, and as long as you can.'
There was a pause of several moments after this, each apparently following
out her own thoughts.
'By the way,' cried Nina suddenly, 'did I tell you that Mary wished me joy
this morning. She had overheard Mr. Gorman's declaration, and believed he
had asked me to be his wife.'
'How absurd!' said Kate, and there was anger as well as shame in her look
as she said it.
'Of course it was absurd. She evidently never suspected to whom she was
speaking, and then--' She stopped, for a quick glance at Kate's face warned
her of the peril she was grazing. 'I told the girl she was a fool, and
forbade her to speak of the matter to any one.'
'It is a servants'-hall story already,' said Kate quietly.
'Do you care for that?'
'Not much; three days will see the end of it.'
'I declare, in your own homely way, I believe you are the wiser of the two
'My common sense is of the very commonest,' said Kate, laughing; 'there is
nothing subtle nor even neat about it.'
'Let us see that! Give me a counsel or, rather, say if you agree with me. I
have asked Mr. Walpole to show me how his family accept my entrance amongst
them; with what grace they receive me as a relative. One of his cousins
called me the Greek girl, and in my own hearing. It is not, then,
over-caution on my part to inquire how they mean to regard me. Tell me,
however, Kate, how far you concur with me in this. I should like much to
hear how your good sense regards the question. Should you have done as I
'Answer me first one question. If you should learn that these great folks
would not welcome you amongst them, would you still consent to marry Mr.
'I'm not sure, I am not quite certain, but I almost believe I should.'
'I have, then, no counsel to give you,' said Kate firmly. 'Two people who
see the same object differently cannot discuss its proportions.'
'I see my blunder,' cried Nina impetuously. 'I put my question stupidly. I
should have said, "If a girl has won a man's affections and given him her
own--if she feels her heart has no other home than in his keeping--that she
lives for him and by him--should she be deterred from joining her fortunes
to his because he has some fine connections who would like to see him marry
more advantageously?"' It needed not the saucy curl of her lip as she spoke
to declare how every word was uttered in sarcasm. 'Why will you not answer
me?' cried she at length; and her eyes shot glances of fiery impatience as
she said it.
'Our distinguished friend Mr. Atlee is to arrive to-morrow, Dick tells me,'
said Kate, with the calm tone of one who would not permit herself to be
'Indeed! If your remark has any _apropos_ at all, it must mean that in
marrying such a man as he is, one might escape all the difficulties of
family coldness, and I protest, as I think of it, the matter has its
A faint smile was all Kate's answer.
'I cannot make you angry; I have done my best, and it has failed. I am
utterly discomfited, and I'll go to bed.'
'Good-night,' said Kate, as she held out her hand.
'I wonder is it nice to have this angelic temperament---to be always right
in one's judgments, and never carried away by passion? I half suspect
perfection does not mean perfect happiness.'
'You shall tell me when you are married,' said Kate, with a laugh; and Nina
darted a flashing glance towards her, and swept out of the room.
A MISERABLE MORNING
It was not without considerable heart-sinking and misgiving that old
Kearney heard it was Miss Betty O'Shea's desire to have some conversation
with him after breakfast. He was, indeed, reassured, to a certain extent,
by his daughter telling him that the old lady was excessively weak, and
that her cough was almost incessant, and that she spoke with extreme
difficulty. All the comfort that these assurances gave him was dashed by a
settled conviction of Miss Betty's subtlety. 'She's like one of the wild
foxes they have in Crim Tartary; and when you think they are dead, they're
up and at you before you can look round.' He affirmed no more than the
truth when he said that 'he'd rather walk barefoot to Kilbeggan than go up
that stair to see her.'
There was a strange conflict in his mind all this time between these
ignoble fears and the efforts he was making to seem considerate and gentle
by Kate's assurance that a cruel word, or even a harsh tone, would be sure
to kill her. 'You'll have to be very careful, papa dearest,' she said. 'Her
nerves are completely shattered, and every respiration seems as if it would
be the last.'
Mistrust was, however, so strong in him, that he would have employed any
subterfuge to avoid the interview; but the Rev. Luke Delany, who had
arrived to give her 'the consolations,' as he briefly phrased it, insisted
on Kearney's attending to receive the old lady's forgiveness before she
'Upon my conscience,' muttered Kearney, 'I was always under the belief it
was I was injured; but, as the priest says, "it's only on one's death-bed
he sees things clearly."'
As Kearney groped his way through the darkened room, shocked at his own
creaking shoes, and painfully convinced that he was somehow deficient in
delicacy, a low, faint cough guided him to the sofa where Miss O'Shea lay.
'Is that Mathew Kearney?' said she feebly. 'I think I know his foot.'
'Yes indeed, bad luck to them for shoes. Wherever Davy Morris gets the
leather I don't know, but it's as loud as a barrel-organ.'
'Maybe they re cheap, Mathew. One puts up with many a thing for a little
'That's the first shot!' muttered Kearney to himself, while he gave a
little cough to avoid reply.
'Father Luke has been telling me, Mathew, that before I go this long
journey I ought to take care to settle any little matter here that's on my
mind. "If there's anybody you bear an ill will to," says he; "if there's
any one has wronged you," says he, "told lies of you, or done you any
bodily harm, send for him," says he, "and let him hear your forgiveness
out of your own mouth. I'll take care afterwards," says Father Luke, "that
he'll have to settle the account with _me_; but _you_ mustn't mind that.
You must be able to tell St. Joseph that you come with a clean breast and a
good conscience ": and that's'--here she sighed heavily several times--'and
that's the reason I sent for you, Mathew Kearney!'
Poor Kearney sighed heavily over that category of misdoers with whom he
found himself classed, but he said nothing.
'I don't want to say anything harsh to you, Mathew, nor have I strength to
listen, if you'd try to defend yourself; time is short with me now, but
this I must say, if I'm here now sick and sore, and if the poor boy in the
other room is lying down with his fractured head, it is you, and you alone,
have the blame.'
'May the blessed Virgin give me patience!' muttered he, as he wrung his
'I hope she will; and give you more, Mathew Kearney. I hope she'll give you
a hearty repentance. I hope she'll teach you that the few days that remain
to you in this life are short enough for contrition--ay--contrition and
'Ain't I getting it now,' muttered he; but low as he spoke the words her
quick hearing had caught them.
'I hope you are; it is the last bit of friendship I can do you. You have
a hard, worldly, selfish nature, Mathew; you had it as a boy, and it grew
worse as you grew older. What many believed high spirits in you was nothing
else than the reckless devilment of a man that only thought of himself.
You could afford to be--at least to look--light-hearted, for you cared
for nobody. You squandered your little property, and you'd have made away
with the few acres that belonged to your ancestors, if the law would
have let you. As for the way you brought up your children, that lazy boy
below-stairs, that never did a hand's turn, is proof enough, and poor
Kitty, just because she wasn't like the rest of you, how she's treated!'
'How is that: what is my cruelty there?' cried he.
'Don't try to make yourself out worse than you are,' said she sternly, 'and
pretend that you don't know the wrong you done her.'
'May I never--if I understand what you mean.'
'Maybe you thought it was no business of yours to provide for your own
child. Maybe you had a notion that it was enough that she had her food and
a roof over her while you were here, and that somehow--anyhow--she'd get
on, as they call it, when you were in the other place. Mathew Kearney, I'll
say nothing so cruel to you as your own conscience is saying this minute;
or maybe, with that light heart that makes your friends so fond of you,
you never bothered yourself about her at all, and that's the way it come
'What came about? I want to know _that_.'
'First and foremost, I don't think the law will let you. I don't believe
you can charge your estate against the entail. I have a note there to ask
McKeown's opinion, and if I'm right, I'll set apart a sum in my will to
contest it in the Queen's Bench. I tell you this to your face, Mathew
Kearney, and I'm going where I can tell it to somebody better than a
hard-hearted, cruel old man.'
'What is it that I want to do, and that the law won't let me?' asked he, in
the most imploring accents.
'At least twelve honest men will decide it.'
'Decide what! in the name of the saints?' cried he.
'Don't be profane; don't parade your unbelieving notions to a poor old
woman on her death-bed. You may want to leave your daughter a beggar, and
your son little better, but you have no right to disturb my last moments
with your terrible blasphemies.'
'I'm fairly bothered now,' cried he, as his two arms dropped powerlessly to
his sides. 'So help me, if I know whether I'm awake or in a dream.'
'It's an excuse won't serve you where you'll be soon going, and I warn you,
don't trust it.'
'Have a little pity on me, Miss Betty, darling,' said he, in his most
coaxing tone; 'and tell me what it is I have done?'
'You mean what you are trying to do; but what, please the Virgin, we'll not
'What is _that_?'
'And what, weak and ill, and dying as I am, I've strength enough left in me
to prevent, Mathew Kearney--and if you'll give me that Bible there, I'll
kiss it, and take my oath that, if he marries her, he'll never put foot in
a house of mine, nor inherit an acre that belongs to me; and all that I'll
leave in my will shall be my--well, I won't say what, only it's something
he'll not have to pay a legacy duty on. Do you understand me now, or ain't
I plain enough yet?'
'No, not yet. You'll have to make it clearer still.'
'Faith, I must say you did not pick up much cuteness from your adopted
'Who is she?'
'The Greek hussy that you want to marry my nephew, and give a dowry to out
of the estate that belongs to your son. I know it all, Mathew. I wasn't two
hours in the house before my old woman brought me the story from Mary. Ay,
stare if you like, but they all know it below-stairs, and a nice way you
are discussed in your own house! Getting a promise out of a poor boy in a
brain fever, making him give a pledge in his ravings! Won't it tell well
in a court of justice, of a magistrate, a county gentleman, a Kearney of
Kilgobbin? Oh! Mathew, Mathew, I'm ashamed of you!'
'Upon my oath, you're making me ashamed of myself that I sit here and
listen to you,' cried he, carried beyond all endurance. 'Abusing, ay,
blackguarding me this last hour about a lying story that came from the
kitchen. It's you that ought to be ashamed, old lady. Not, indeed, for
believing ill of an old friend--for that's nature in you--but for not
having common sense, just common sense to guide you, and a little common
decency to warn you. Look now, there is not a word--there is not a syllable
of truth in the whole story. Nobody ever thought of your nephew asking
my niece to marry him; and if _he_ did, she wouldn't have him. She looks
higher, and she has a right to look higher than to be the wife of an Irish
'Go on, Mathew, go on. You waited for me to be as I am now before you had
courage for words like these.'
'Well, I ask your pardon, and ask it in all humiliation and sorrow. My
temper--bad luck to it!--gets the better, or, maybe, it's the worse, of me
at times, and I say fifty things that I know I don't feel--just the way
sailors load a gun with anything in the heat of an action.'
'I'm not in a condition to talk of sea-fights, Mr. Kearney, though I'm
obliged to you all the same for trying to amuse me. You'll not think me
rude if I ask you to send Kate to me? And please to tell Father Luke that
I'll not see him this morning. My nerves have been sorely tried. One word
before you go, Mathew Kearney; and have compassion enough not to answer me.
You may be a just man and an honest man, you may be fair in your dealings,
and all that your tenants say of you may be lies and calumnies, but to
insult a poor old woman on her death-bed is cruel and unfeeling; and I'll
tell you more, Mathew, it's cowardly and it's--'
Kearney did not wait to hear what more it might be, for he was already at
the door, and rushed out as if he was escaping from a fire.
'I'm glad he's better than they made him out,' said Miss Betty to herself,
in a tone of calm soliloquy; 'and he'll not be worse for some of the
home truths I told him.' And with this she drew on her silk mittens, and
arranged her cap composedly, while she waited for Kate's arrival.
As for poor Kearney, other troubles were awaiting him in his study, where
he found his son and Mr. Holmes, the lawyer, sitting before a table covered
with papers. 'I have no head for business now,' cried Kearney. 'I don't
feel over well to-day, and if you want to talk to me, you'll have to put it
off till to-morrow.'
'Mr. Holmes must leave for town, my lord,' interposed Dick, in his most
insinuating tone, 'and he only wants a few minutes with you before he
'And it's just what he won't get. I would not see the Lord-Lieutenant if he
was here now.'
'The trial is fixed for Tuesday the 19th, my lord,' cried Holmes,' and
the National press has taken it up in such a way that we have no chance
whatever. The verdict will be "Guilty," without leaving the box; and the
whole voice of public opinion will demand the very heaviest sentence the
law can pronounce.'
'Think of that poor fellow O'Shea, just rising from a sick-bed,' said Dick,
as his voice shook with agitation.
'They can't hang him.'
'No, for the scoundrel Gill is alive, and will be the chief witness on the
trial; but they may give him two years with prison labour, and if they do,
it will kill him.'
'I don't know that. I've seen more than one fellow come out fresh and
hearty after a spell. In fact, the plain diet, and the regular work, and
the steady habits, are wonderful things for a young man that has been
knocking about in a town life.'
'Oh, father, don't speak that way. I know Gorman well, and I can swear he'd
not survive it.'
Kearney shook his head doubtingly, and muttered, 'There's a great deal said
about wounded pride and injured feelings, but the truth is, these things
are like a bad colic, mighty hard to bear, if you like, but nobody ever
dies of it.'
'From all I hear about young Mr. O'Shea,' said Holmes, 'I am led to believe
he will scarcely live through an imprisonment.'
'To be sure! Why not? At three or four-and-twenty we're all of us
high-spirited and sensitive and noble-hearted, and we die on the spot if
there's a word against our honour. It is only after we cross the line in
life, wherever that be, that we become thick-skinned and hardened, and mind
nothing that does not touch our account at the bank. Sure I know the theory
well! Ay, and the only bit of truth in it all is, that we cry out louder
when we're young, for we are not so well used to bad treatment.'
'Right or wrong, no man likes to have the whole press of a nation assailing
him and all the sympathies of a people against him,' said Holmes.
'And what can you and your brothers in wigs do against that? Will all your
little beguiling ways and insinuating tricks turn the _Pike_ and the _Irish
Cry_ from what sells their papers? Here it is now, Mr. Holmes, and I can't
put it shorter. Every man that lives in Ireland knows in his heart he must
live in hot water; but somehow, though he may not like it, he gets used to
it, and he finds it does him no harm in the end. There was an uncle of my
own was in a passion for forty years, and he died at eighty-six.'
'I wish I could only secure your attention, my lord, for ten minutes.'
'And what would you do, counsellor, if you had it?'
'You see, my lord, there are some very grave questions here. First of all,
you and your brother magistrates had no right to accept bail. The injury
was too grave: Gill's life, as the doctor's certificate will prove, was
in danger. It was for a judge in Chambers to decide whether bail could be
taken. They will move, therefore, in the Queen's Bench, for a mandamus--'
'May I never, if you won't drive me mad!' cried Kearney passionately; 'and
I'd rather be picking oakum this minute than listening to all the possible
misfortunes briefs and lawyers could bring on me.'
'Just listen to Holmes, father,' whispered Dick. 'He thinks that Gill might
be got over--that if done by _you_ with three or four hundred pounds, he'd
either make his evidence so light, or he'd contradict himself, or, better
than all, he'd not make an appearance at the trial--'
'Compounding a felony! Catch me at it!' cried the old man, with a yell.
'Well, Joe Atlee will be here to-night,' continued Dick. 'He's a clever
fellow at all rogueries. Will you let him see if it can't be arranged.'
'I don't care who does it, so it isn't Mathew Kearney,' said he angrily,
for his patience could endure no more. 'If you won't leave me alone now, I
won't say but that I'll go out and throw myself into a bog-hole!'
There was a tone of such perfect sincerity in his speech, that, without
another word, Dick took the lawyer's arm, and led him from the room.
A third voice was heard outside as they issued forth, and Kearney could
just make out that it was Major Lockwood, who was asking Dick if he might
have a few minutes' conversation with his father.
'I don't suspect you'll find my father much disposed for conversation just
now. I think if you would not mind making your visit to him at another
'Just so!' broke in the old man, 'if you're not coming with a
strait-waistcoat, or a coil of rope to hold me down, I'd say it's better to
leave me to myself.'
Whether it was that the major was undeterred by these forbidding evidences,
or that what he deemed the importance of his communication warranted some
risk, certain it is he lingered at the door, and stood there where Dick and
the lawyer had gone and left him.
A faint tap at the door at last apprised Kearney that some one was without,
and he hastily, half angrily, cried, 'Come in!' Old Kearney almost started
with surprise as the major walked in.
'I'm not going to make any apology for intruding on you,' cried he. 'What I
want to say shall be said in three words, and I cannot endure the suspense
of not having them said and answered. I've had a whole night of feverish
anxiety, and a worse morning, thinking and turning over the thing in my
mind, and settled it must be at once, one way or other, for my head will
not stand it.'
'My own is tried pretty hard, and I can feel for you,' said Kearney, with a
'I've come to ask if you'll give me your daughter?' said Lockwood, and his
face became blood-red with the effort the words had cost him.
'Give you my daughter?' cried Kearney.
'I want to make her my wife, and as I know little about courtship, and have
nobody here that could settle this affair for me--for Walpole is thinking
of his own concerns--I've thought the best way, as it was the shortest, was
to come at once to yourself: I have got a few documents here that will show
you I have enough to live on, and to make a tidy settlement, and do all
that ought to be done.'
'I'm sure you are an excellent fellow, and I like you myself; but you see,
major, a man doesn't dispose of his daughter like his horse, and I'd like
to hear what she would say to the bargain.'
'I suppose you could ask her?'
'Well, indeed, that's true, I could ask her; but on the whole, major, don't
you think the question would come better from yourself?'
'That means courtship?'
'Yes, I admit it is liable to that objection, but somehow it's the usual
'No, no,' said the other slowly, 'I could not manage that. I'm sick of
bachelor life, and I'm ready to send in my papers and have done with it,
but I don't know how to go about the other. Not to say, Kearney,' added he,
more boldly, 'that I think there is something confoundedly mean in that
daily pursuit of a woman, till by dint of importunity, and one thing or
another, you get her to like you! What can she know of her own mind after
three or four months of what these snobs call attentions? How is she to say
how much is mere habit, how much is gratified vanity of having a fellow
dangling after her, how much the necessity of showing the world she is not
compromised by the cad's solicitations? Take my word for it, Kearney, my
way is the best. Be able to go up like a man and tell the girl, "It's all
arranged. I've shown the old cove that I can take care of you, he has seen
that I've no debts or mortgages; I'm ready to behave handsomely, what do
you say yourself?"'
'She might say, "I know nothing about you. I may possibly not see much to
dislike, but how do I know I should like you."'
'And I'd say, "I'm one of those fellows that are the same all through,
to-day as I was yesterday, and to-morrow the same. When I'm in a bad temper
I go out on the moors and walk it off, and I'm not hard to live with."'
'There's many a bad fellow a woman might like better.'
'All the luckier for me, then, that I don't get her.'
'I might say, too,' said Kearney, with a smile, 'how much do you know of
my daughter--of her temper, her tastes, her habits, and her likings? What
assurance have you that you would suit each other, and that you are not as
wide apart in character as in country?'
'I'll answer for that. She's always good-tempered, cheerful, and
light-hearted. She's always nicely dressed and polite to every one. She
manages this old house, and these stupid bog-trotters, till one fancies it
a fine establishment and a first-rate household. She rides like a lion, and
I'd rather hear her laugh than I'd listen to Patti.'
'I'll call all that mighty like being in love.'
'Do if you like--but answer me my question.'
'That is more than I'm able; but I'll consult my daughter. I'll tell her
pretty much in your own words all you have said to me, and she shall
herself give the answer.'
'All right, and how soon?'
'Well, in the course of the day. Should she say that she does not
understand being wooed in this manner, that she would like more time to
learn something more about yourself, that, in fact, there is something too
peremptory in this mode of proceeding, I would not say she was wrong.'
'But if she says Yes frankly, you'll let me know at once.'
'I will--on the spot.'
The news of Nina's engagement to Walpole soon spread through the castle at
Kilgobbin, and gave great satisfaction; even the humbler members of the
household were delighted to think there would be a wedding and all its
When the tidings at length arrived at Miss O'Shea's room, so reviving were
the effects upon her spirits, that the old lady insisted she should be
dressed and carried down to the drawing-room that the bridegroom might be
presented to her in all form.
Though Nina herself chafed at such a proceeding, and called it a most
'insufferable pretension,' she was perhaps not sorry secretly at the
opportunity afforded herself to let the tiresome old woman guess how she
regarded her, and what might be their future relations towards each other.
'Not indeed,' added she, 'that we are likely ever to meet again, or that I
should recognise her beyond a bow if we should.'
As for Kearney, the announcement that Miss Betty was about to appear in
public filled him with unmixed terror, and he muttered drearily as he went,
'There'll be wigs on the green for this.' Nor was Walpole himself pleased
at the arrangement. Like most men in his position, he could not be brought
to see the delicacy or the propriety of being paraded as an object of
public inspection, nor did he perceive the fitness of that display of
trinkets which he had brought with him as presents, and the sight of which
had become a sort of public necessity.
Not the least strange part of the whole procedure was that no one could
tell where or how or with whom it originated. It was like one of those
movements which are occasionally seen in political life, where, without the
direct intervention of any precise agent, a sort of diffused atmosphere of
public opinion suffices to produce results and effect changes that all are
ready to disavow but to accept.
The mere fact of the pleasure the prospect afforded to Miss Betty prevented
Kate from offering opposition to what she felt to be both bad in taste and
'That old lady imagines, I believe, that I am to come down like a
_pretendu_ in a French vaudeville--dressed in a tail-coat, with a white
tie and white gloves, and perhaps receive her benediction. She mistakes
herself, she mistakes us. If there was a casket of uncouth old diamonds,
or some marvellous old point lace to grace the occasion, we might play our
parts with a certain decorous hypocrisy; but to be stared at through a
double eye-glass by a snuffy old woman in black mittens, is more than one
is called on to endure--eh, Lockwood?'
'I don't know. I think I'd go through it all gladly to have the occasion.'
'Have a little patience, old fellow, it will all come right. My worthy
relatives--for I suppose I can call them so now--are too shrewd people to
refuse the offer of such a fellow as you. They have that native pride that
demands a certain amount of etiquette and deference. They must not seem
to rise too eagerly to the fly; but only give them time--give them time,
'Ay, but the waiting in this uncertainty is terrible to me.'
'Let it be certainty, then, and for very little I'll ensure you! Bear
this in mind, my dear fellow, and you'll see how little need there is for
apprehension. You--and the men like you--snug fellows with comfortable
estates and no mortgages, unhampered by ties and uninfluenced by
connections, are a species of plant that is rare everywhere, but actually
never grew at all in Ireland, where every one spent double his income, and
seldom dared to move a step without a committee of relations. Old Kearney
has gone through that fat volume of the gentry and squirearchy of England
last night, and from Sir Simon de Lockwood, who was killed at Crecy, down
to a certain major in the Carbineers, he knows you all.'
'I'll bet you a thousand they say No.'
'I've not got a thousand to pay if I should lose, but I'll lay a pony--two,
if you like--that you are an accepted man this day--ay, before dinner.'
'If I only thought so!'
'Confound it--you don't pretend you are in love!'
'I don't know whether I am or not, but I do know how I should like to bring
that nice girl back to Hampshire, and install her at the Dingle. I've a
tidy stable, some nice shooting, a good trout-stream, and then I should
have the prettiest wife in the county.'
'Happy dog! Yours is the real philosophy of life. The fellows who are
realistic enough to reckon up the material elements of their happiness--who
have little to speculate on and less to unbelieve--they are right.'
'If you mean that I'll never break my heart because I don't get in for the
county, that's true--I don't deny it. But come, tell me, is it all settled
about your business? Has the uncle been asked?--has he spoken?'
'He has been asked and given his consent. My distinguished father-in-law,
the prince, has been telegraphed to this morning, and his reply may be here
to-night or to-morrow. At all events, we are determined that even should he
prove adverse, we shall not be deterred from our wishes by the caprice of a
parent who has abandoned us.'
'It's what people would call a love-match.'
'I sincerely trust it is. If her affections were not inextricably engaged,
it is not possible that such a girl could pledge her future to a man as
humble as myself?'
'That is, she is very much in love with _you_?'
'I hope the astonishment of your question does not arise from its seeming
difficulty of belief?'
'No, not so much that, but I thought there might have been a little
heroics, or whatever it is, on your side.'
'Most dull dragoon, do you not know that, so long as a man spoons, he can
talk of his affection for a woman; but that, once she is about to be his
wife, or is actually his wife, he limits his avowals to _her_ love for
'I never heard that before. I say, what a swell you are this morning. The
cock-pheasants will mistake you for one of them.'
'Nothing can be simpler, nothing quieter, I trust, than a suit of dark
purple knickerbockers; and you may see that my thread stockings and my
coarse shoes presuppose a stroll in the plantations, where, indeed, I mean
to smoke my morning cigar.'
'She'll make you give up tobacco, I suppose?'
'Nothing of the kind--a thorough woman of the world enforces no such
penalties as these. True free-trade is the great matrimonial maxim, and
for people of small means it is inestimable. The formula may be stated
thus--'Dine at the best houses, and give tea at your own.'
What other precepts of equal wisdom Walpole was prepared to enunciate were
lost to the world by a message informing him that Miss Betty was in the
drawing-room, and the family assembled, to see him.
Cecil Walpole possessed a very fair stock of that useful quality called
assurance; but he had no more than he needed to enter that large room,
where the assembled family sat in a half-circle, and stand to be surveyed
by Miss O'Shea's eye-glass, unabashed. Nor was the ordeal the less trying
as he overheard the old lady ask her neighbour, 'if he wasn't the image of
the Knave of Diamonds.'
'I thought you were the other man!' said she curtly, as he made his bow.
'I deplore the disappointment, madam--even though I do not comprehend it.'
'It was the picture, the photograph, of the other man I saw--a fine, tall,
dark man, with long moustaches.'
'The fine, tall, dark man, with the long moustaches, is in the house, and
will be charmed to be presented to you.'
'Ay, ay! presented is all very fine; but that won't make him the
bridegroom,' said she, with a laugh.
'I sincerely trust it will not, madam.'
'And it is you, then, are Major Walpole?'
'Mr. Walpole, madam--my friend Lockwood is the major.'
'To be sure. I have it right now. You are the young man that got into that
unhappy scrape, and got the Lord-Lieutenant turned away--'
'I wonder how you endure this,' burst out Nina, as she arose and walked
angrily towards a window.
'I don't think I caught what the young lady said; but if it was, that what
cannot be cured must be endured, it is true enough; and I suppose that
they'll get over your blunder as they have done many another.'
'I live in that hope, madam.'
'Not but it's a bad beginning in public life; and a stupid mistake hangs
long on a man's memory. You're young, however, and people are generous
enough to believe it might be a youthful indiscretion.'
'You give me great comfort, madam.'
'And now you are going to risk another venture?'
'I sincerely trust on safer grounds.'
'That's what they all think. I never knew a man that didn't believe he drew
the prize in matrimony. Ask him, however, six months after he's tied. Say,
"What do you think of your ticket now?" Eh, Mat Kearney? It doesn't take
twenty or thirty years quarrelling and disputing to show one that a lottery
with so many blanks is just a swindle.'
A loud bang of the door, as Nina flounced out in indignation, almost shook
'There's a temper you'll know more of yet, young gentleman; and, take my
word for it, it's only in stage-plays that a shrew is ever tamed.'
'I declare,' cried Dick, losing all patience, 'I think Miss O'Shea is too
unsparing of us all. We have our faults, I'm sure; but public correction
will not make us more comfortable.'
'It wasn't _your_ comfort I was thinking of, young man; and if I thought
of your poor father's, I'd have advised him to put you out an apprentice.
There's many a light business--like stationery, or figs, or children's
toys--and they want just as little capital as capacity.'
'Miss Betty,' said Kearney stiffly, 'this is not the time nor the place for
these discussions. Mr. Walpole was polite enough to present himself here
to-day to have the honour of making your acquaintance, and to announce his
'A great event for us all--and we're proud of it! It's what the newspapers
will call a great day for the Bog of Allen. Eh, Mat? The princess--God
forgive me, but I'm always calling her Costigan--but the princess will
be set down niece to Lord Kilgobbin; and if you'--and she addressed
Walpole--'haven't a mock-title and a mock-estate, you'll be the only one
'I don't think any one will deny us our tempers,' cried Kearney.
'Here's Lockwood,' cried Walpole, delighted to see his friend enter, though
he as quickly endeavoured to retreat.
'Come in, major,' said Kearney. 'We're all friends here. Miss O'Shea, this
is Major Lockwood, of the Carbineers--Miss O'Shea.'
Lockwood bowed stiffly, but did not speak.
'Be attentive to the old woman,' whispered Walpole. 'A word from her will
make your affair all right.'
'I have been very desirous to have had the honour of this introduction,
madam,' said Lockwood, as he seated himself at her side.
'Was not that a clever diversion I accomplished with "the Heavy "?' said
Walpole, as he drew away Kearney and his son into a window.
'I never heard her much worse than to-day,' said Dick.
'I don't know,' hesitated Kilgobbin. 'I suspect she is breaking. There is
none of the sustained virulence I used to remember of old. She lapses into
half-mildness at moments.'
'I own I did not catch them, nor, I'm afraid, did Nina,' said Dick. 'Look
there! I'll be shot if she's not giving your friend the major a lesson!
When she performs in that way with her hands, you may swear she is
'I think I'll go to his relief,' said Walpole; 'but I own it's a case for
As Walpole drew nigh, he heard her saying: 'Marry one of your own race, and
you will jog on well enough. Marry a Frenchwoman or a Spaniard, and she'll
lead her own life, and be very well satisfied; but a poor Irish girl, with
a fresh heart and a joyous temper--what is to become of her, with your dull
habits and your dreary intercourse, your county society and your Chinese
'Miss O'Shea is telling me that I must not look for a wife among her
countrywomen,' said Lockwood, with a touching attempt to smile.
'What I overheard was not encouraging,' said Walpole; 'but I think Miss
O'Shea takes a low estimate of our social temperament.'
'Nothing of the kind! All I say is, you'll do mighty well for each other,
or, for aught I know, you might intermarry with the Dutch or the Germans;
but it's a downright shame to unite your slow sluggish spirits with the
sparkling brilliancy and impetuous joy of an Irish girl. That's a union I'd
never consent to.'
'I hope this is no settled resolution,' said Walpole, speaking in a low
whisper; 'for I want to bespeak your especial influence in my friend's
behalf. Major Lockwood is a most impassioned admirer of Miss Kearney, and
has already declared as much to her father.'
'Come over here, Mat Kearney! come over here this moment!' cried she, half
wild with excitement. 'What new piece of roguery, what fresh intrigue is
this? Will you dare to tell me you had a proposal for Kate, for my own
god-daughter, without even so much as telling me?'
'My dear Miss Betty, be calm, be cool for one minute, and I'll tell you
'Ay, when I've found it out, Mat!'
'I profess I don't think my friend's pretensions are discussed with much
delicacy, time and place considered,' said Walpole.
'We have something to think of as well as delicacy, young man: there's a
woman's happiness to be remembered.'
'Here it is, now, the whole business,' said Kearney. 'The major there asked
me yesterday to get my daughter's consent to his addresses.'
'And you never told me,' cried Miss Betty.
'No, indeed, nor herself neither; for after I turned it over in my mind, I
began to see it wouldn't do--'
'How do you mean not do?' asked Lockwood.
'Just let me finish. What I mean is this--if a man wants to marry an Irish
girl, he mustn't begin by asking leave to make love to her--'
'Mat's right!' cried the old lady stoutly.
'And above all, he oughtn't to think that the short cut to her heart is
through his broad acres.'
'Mat's right--quite right!'
'And besides this, that the more a man dwells on his belongings, and the
settlements, and such like, the more he seems to say, "I may not catch your
fancy in everything, I may not ride as boldly or dance as well as somebody
else, but never mind--you're making a very prudent match, and there is a
deal of pure affection in the Three per Cents."'
'And I'll give you another reason,' said Miss Betty resolutely. 'Kate
Kearney cannot have two husbands, and I've made her promise to marry my
nephew this morning.'
'What, without any leave of mine?' exclaimed Kearney.
'Just so, Mat. She'll marry him if you give your consent; but whether you
will or not, she'll never marry another.'
'Is there, then, a real engagement?' whispered Walpole to Kearney. 'Has my
friend here got his answer?'
'He'll not wait for another,' said Lockwood haughtily, as he arose. 'I'm
for town, Cecil,' whispered he.
'So shall I be this evening,' replied Walpole, in the same tone. 'I must
hurry over to London and see Lord Danesbury. I've my troubles too.' And so
saying, he drew his arm within the major's, and led him away; while Miss
Betty, with Kearney on one side of her and Dick on the other, proceeded to
recount the arrangement she had made to make over the Barn and the estate
to Gorman, it being her own intention to retire altogether from the world
and finish her days in the 'Retreat.'
'And a very good thing to do, too,' said Kearney, who was too much
impressed with the advantages of the project to remember his politeness.
'I have had enough of it, Mat,' added she, in a lugubrious tone; 'and it's
all backbiting, and lying, and mischief-making, and what's worse, by the
people who might live quietly and let others do the same!'
'What you say is true as the Bible.'
'It may be hard to do it, Mat Kearney, but I'll pray for them in my hours
of solitude, and in that blessed Retreat I'll ask for a blessing on
yourself, and that your heart, hard and cruel and worldly as it is now, may
be changed; and that in your last days--maybe on the bed of sickness--when
you are writhing and twisting with pain, with a bad heart and a worse
conscience--when you'll have nobody but hirelings near you--hirelings that
will be robbing you before your eyes, and not waiting till the breath
leaves you--when even the drop of drink to cool your lips--'
'Don't--don't go on that way, Miss Betty. I've a cold shivering down the
spine of my back this minute, and a sickness creeping all over me.'
'I'm glad of it. I'm glad that my words have power over your wicked old
nature--if it's not too late.'
'If it's miserable and wretched you wanted to make me, don't fret about
your want of success; though whether it all comes too late, I cannot tell
'We'll leave that to St. Joseph.'
'Do so! do so!' cried he eagerly, for he had a shrewd suspicion he would
have better chances of mercy at any hands than her own.
'As for Gorman, if I find that he has any notions about claiming an acre
of the property, I'll put it all into Chancery, and the suit will outlive
_him_; but if he owns he is entirely dependent on my bounty, I'll settle
the Barn and the land on him, and the deed shall be signed the day he
marries your daughter. People tell you that you can't take your money with
you into the next world, Mat Kearney, and a greater lie was never uttered.
Thanks to the laws of England, and the Court of Equity in particular, it's
the very thing you can do! Ay, and you can provide, besides, that everybody
but the people that had a right to it shall have a share. So I say to
Gorman O'Shea, beware what you are at, and don't go on repeating that
stupid falsehood about not carrying your debentures into the next world.'
'You are a wise woman, and you know life well,' said he solemnly.
'And if I am, it's nothing to sigh over, Mr. Kearney. One is grateful for
mercies, but does not groan over them like rheumatism or the lumbago.'