Part 12 out of 12
'Maybe I 'in a little out of spirits to-day.'
'I shouldn't wonder if you were. They tell me you sat over your wine, with
that tall man, last night, till nigh one o'clock, and it's not at your time
of life that you can do these sort of excesses with impunity; you had a
good constitution once, and there's not much left of it.'
'My patience, I'm grateful to see, has not quite deserted me.'
'I hope there's other of your virtues you can be more sure of,' said
she, rising, 'for if I was asked your worst failing, I'd say it was your
irritability.' And with a stern frown, as though to confirm the judicial
severity of her words, she nodded her head to him and walked away.
It was only then that Kearney discovered he was left alone, and that Dick
had stolen away, though when or how he could not say.
'I'm glad the boy was not listening to her, for I'm downright ashamed that
I bore it,' was his final reflection as he strolled out to take a walk in
A NEW ARRIVAL
Though the dinner-party that day at Kilgobbin Castle was deficient in the
persons of Lockwood and Walpole, the accession of Joe Atlee to the company
made up in a great measure for the loss. He arrived shortly before dinner
was announced, and even in the few minutes in the drawing-room, his gay and
lively manner, his pleasant flow of small talk, dashed with the lightest
of epigrams, and that marvellous variety he possessed, made every one
delighted with him.
'I met Walpole and Lockwood at the station, and did my utmost to make them
turn back with me. You may laugh, Lord Kilgobbin, but in doing the honours
of another man's house, as I was at that moment, I deem myself without a
'I wish with all my heart you had succeeded; there is nothing I like as
much as a well-filled table,' said Kearney.
'Not that their air and manner,' resumed Joe, 'impressed me strongly with
the exuberance of their spirits; a pair of drearier dogs I have not seen
for some time, and I believe I told them so.'
'Did they explain their gloom, or even excuse it?' asked Dick.
'Except on the general grounds of coming away from such fascinating
society. Lockwood played sulky, and scarcely vouchsafed a word, and as for
Walpole, he made some high-flown speeches about his regrets and his torn
sensibilities--so like what one reads in a French novel, that the very
sound of them betrays unreality.'
'But was it, then, so very impossible to be sorry for leaving this?' asked
'Certainly not for any man but Walpole.'
'And why not Walpole?'
'Can you ask me? You who know people so well, and read them so clearly; you
to whom the secret anatomy of the "heart" is no mystery, and who understand
how to trace the fibre of intense selfishness through every tissue of his
small nature. He might be miserable at being separated from himself--there
could be no other estrangement would affect _him_.'
'This was not always your estimate of your _friend_,' said Nina, with a
marked emphasis of the last word.
'Pardon me, it was my unspoken opinion from the first hour I met him. Since
then, some space of time has intervened, and though it has made no change
in him, I hope it has dealt otherwise with me. I have at least reached the
point in life where men not only have convictions but avow them.'
'Come, come; I can remember what precious good-luck you called it to make
his acquaintance,' cried Dick, half angrily.
'I don't deny it. I was very nigh drowning at the time, and it was the
first plank I caught hold of. I am very grateful to him for the rescue; but
I owe him more gratitude for the opportunity the incident gave me to see
these men in their intimacy--to know, and know thoroughly, what is the
range, what the stamp of those minds by which states are ruled and masses
are governed. Through Walpole I knew his master; and through the master I
have come to know the slipshod intelligences which, composed of official
detail, House of Commons' gossip, and _Times_' leaders, are accepted by us
as statesmen. And if--' A very supercilious smile on Nina's mouth arrested
him in the current of his speech, and he said, 'I know, of course, I know
the question you are too polite to ask, but which quivers on your lip: "Who
is the gifted creature that sees all this incompetence and insufficiency
around him?" And I am quite ready to tell you. It is Joseph Atlee--Joseph
Atlee, who knows that when he and others like him--for we are a strong
coterie--stop the supply of ammunition, these gentlemen must cease firing.
Let the _Debats_ and the _Times_, the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ and the
_Saturday_, and a few more that I need not stop to enumerate, strike work,
and let us see how much of original thought you will obtain from your
Cabinet sages! It is in the clash and collision of the thinkers outside of
responsibility that these world-revered leaders catch the fire that lights
up their policy. The _Times_ made the Crimean blunder. The _Siecle_ created
the Mexican fiasco. The _Kreuz Zeitung_ gave the first impulse to the
Schleswig-Holstein imbroglio; and if I mistake not, the "review" in the
last _Diplomatic Chronicle_ will bear results of which he who now speaks to
you will not disown the parentage.'
'The saints be praised! here's dinner,' exclaimed Kearney, 'or this fellow
would talk us into a brain-fever. Kate is dining with Miss Betty again--God
bless her for it,' muttered he as he gave his arm to Nina, and led the way.
'I've got you a commission as a "peeler," Dick,' said Joe, as they moved
along. 'You'll have to prove that you can read and write, which is more
than they would ask of you if you were going into the Cabinet; but we live
in an intellectual age, and we test all the cabin-boys, and it is only the
steersman we take on trust.'
Though Nina was eager to resent Atlee's impertinence on Walpole, she could
not help feeling interested and amused by his sketches of his travels.
If, in speaking of Greece, he only gave the substance of the article he had
written for the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, as the paper was yet unpublished
all the remarks were novel, and the anecdotes fresh and sparkling. The tone
of light banter and raillery in which he described public life in Greece
and Greek statesmen, might have lost some of its authority had any one
remembered to count the hours the speaker had spent in Athens; and Nina
was certainly indignant at the hazardous effrontery of the criticisms. It
was not, then, without intention that she arose to retire while Atlee was
relating an interesting story of brigandage, and he--determined to repay
the impertinence in kind--continued to recount his history as he arose to
open the door for her to pass out. Her insolent look as she swept by was
met by a smile of admiration on his part that actually made her cheek
tingle with anger.
Old Kearney dozed off gently, under the influence of names of places and
persons that did not interest him, and the two young men drew their chairs
to the fire, and grew confidential at once.
'I think you have sent my cousin away in bad humour,' said Dick.
'I see it,' said Joe, as he slowly puffed his cigar. 'That young lady's
head has been so cruelly turned by flattery of late, that the man who does
not swing incense before her affronts her.'
'Yes; but you went out of your way to provoke her. It is true she knows
little of Greece or Greeks, but it offends her to hear them slighted or
ridiculed; and you took pains to do both.'
'Contemptible little country! with a mock-army, a mock-treasury, and a
mock-chamber. The only thing real is the debt and the brigandage.'
'But why tell her so? You actually seemed bent on irritating her.'
'Quite true--so I was. My dear Dick, you have some lessons to learn in
life, and one of them is that, just as it is bad heraldry to put colour
on colour, it is an egregious blunder to follow flattery by flattery. The
woman who has been spoiled by over-admiration must be approached with
something else as unlike it as may be--pique--annoy--irritate--outrage,
but take care that you interest her Let her only come to feel what a very
tiresome thing mere adulation is, and she will one day value your two or
three civil speeches as gems of priceless worth. It is exactly because I
deeply desire to gain her affections, I have begun in this way.'
'You have come too late.'
'How do you mean too late--she is not engaged?'
'She is engaged--she is to be married to Walpole.'
'Yes; he came over a few days ago to ask her. There is some question
now--I don't well understand it--about some family consent, or an
invitation--something, I believe, that Nina insists on, to show the world
how his family welcome her amongst them; and it is for this he has gone to
London, but to be back in eight or nine days, the wedding to take place
towards the end of the month.'
'Is he very much in love?'
'I should say he is.'
'And she? Of course she could not possibly care for a fellow like Walpole?'
'I don't see why not. He is very much the stamp of man girls admire.'
'Not girls like Nina; not girls who aspire to a position in life, and who
know that the little talents of the salon no more make a man of the world
than the tricks of the circus will make a foxhunter. These ambitious
women--she is one of them--will marry a hopeless idiot if he can bring
wealth and rank and a great name; but they will not take a brainless
creature who has to work his way up in the world. If she has accepted
Walpole, there is pique in it, or ennui, or that uneasy desire of change
that girls suffer from like a malady.'
'I cannot tell you why, but I know she has accepted him.'
'Women are not insensible to the value of second thoughts.'
'You mean she might throw him over--might jilt him?'
'I'll not employ the ugly word that makes the wrong it is only meant to
indicate; but there are few of our resolves in life to which we might not
move amendment, and the changed opinion a woman forms of a man before
marriage would become a grievous injury if it happened after.'
'But must she of necessity change?'
'If she marry Walpole, I should say certainly. If a girl has fair abilities
and a strong temper--and Nina has a good share of each--she will endure
faults, actual vices, in a man, but she'll not stand littleness. Walpole
has nothing else; and so I hope to prove to her to-morrow and the day
after--in fact, during those eight or ten days you tell me he will be
'Will she let you? Will she listen to you?'
'Not at first--at least, not willingly, or very easily; but I will show
her, by numerous little illustrations and even fables, where these small
people not only spoil their fortunes in life, but spoil life itself; and
what an irreparable blunder it is to link companionship with one of them. I
will sometimes make her laugh, and I may have to make her cry--it will not
be easy, but I shall do it--I shall certainly make her thoughtful; and if
you can do this day by day, so that a woman will recur to the same theme
pretty much in the same spirit, you must be a sorry steersman, Master Dick,
but you will know how to guide these thoughts and trace the channel they
'And supposing, which I do not believe, that you could get her to break
with Walpole, what could _you_ offer her?'
'Inestimable boon, doubtless; but what of fortune--position or place in
'The first Napoleon used to say that the "power of the unknown number was
incommensurable"; and so I don't despair of showing her that a man like
myself may be anything.'
Dick shook his head doubtingly, and the other went on: 'In this round game
we call life it is all "brag." The fellow with the worst card in the pack,
if he'll only risk his head on it, keep a bold face to the world and his
own counsel, will be sure to win. Bear in mind, Dick, that for some time
back I have been keeping the company of these great swells who sit highest
in the Synagogue, and dictate to us small Publicans. I have listened
to their hesitating counsels and their uncertain resolves; I have seen
the blotted despatches and equivocal messages given, to be disavowed if
needful; I have assisted at those dress rehearsals where speech was to
follow speech, and what seemed an incautious avowal by one was to be
"improved" into a bold declaration by another "in another place"; in fact,
my good friend, I have been near enough to measure the mighty intelligences
that direct us, and if I were not a believer in Darwin, I should be very
much shocked for what humanity was coming to. It is no exaggeration that
I say, if you were to be in the Home Office, and I at the Foreign Office,
without our names being divulged, there is not a man or woman in England
would be the wiser or the worse; though if either of us were to take charge
of the engine of the Holyhead line, there would be a smash or an explosion
before we reached Rugby.'
'All that will not enable you to make a settlement on Nina Kostalergi.'
'No; but I'll marry her all the same.'
'I don't think so.'
'Will you have a bet on it, Dick? What will you wager?'
'A thousand--ten, if I had it; but I'll give you ten pounds on it, which is
about as much as either of us could pay.'
'Speak for yourself, Master Dick. As Robert Macaire says, "_Je viens de
toucher mes dividendes_," and I am in no want of money. The fact is, so
long as a man can pay for certain luxuries in life, he is well off: the
strictly necessary takes care of itself.'
'Does it? I should like to know how.'
'With your present limited knowledge of life, I doubt if I could explain it
to you, but I will try one of these mornings. Meanwhile, let us go into the
drawing-room and get mademoiselle to sing for us. She will sing, I take
'Of course--if asked by you.' And there was the very faintest tone of sneer
in the words.
And they did go, and mademoiselle did sing all that Atlee could ask her
for, and she was charming in every way that grace and beauty and the
wish to please could make her. Indeed, to such extent did she carry her
fascinations that Joe grew thoughtful at last, and muttered to himself,
'There is vendetta in this. It is only a woman knows how to make a
vengeance out of her attractions.'
'Why are you so serious, Mr. Atlee?' asked she at last.
'I was thinking--I mean, I was trying to think--yes, I remember it now,'
muttered he. 'I have had a letter for you all this time in my pocket.'
'A letter from Greece?' asked she impatiently.
'No--at least I suspect not. It was given me as I drove through the bog by
a barefooted boy, who had trotted after the car for miles, and at length
overtook us by the accident of the horse picking up a stone in his hoof.
He said it was for "some one at the castle," and I offered to take charge
of it--here it is,' and he produced a square-shaped envelope of common
coarse-looking paper, sealed with red wax, and a shamrock for impress.
'A begging-letter, I should say, from the outside,' said Dick.
'Except that there is not one so poor as to ask aid from me,' added Nina,
as she took the document, glanced at the writing, and placed it in her
As they separated for the night, and Dick trotted up the stairs at Atlee's
side, he said, 'I don't think, after all, my ten pounds is so safe as I
'Don't you?' replied Joe. 'My impressions are all the other way, Dick. It
is her courtesy that alarms me. The effort to captivate where there is no
stake to win, means mischief. She'll make me in love with her whether I
will or not.' The bitterness of his tone, and the impatient bang he gave
his door as he passed in, betrayed more of temper than was usual for him to
display, and as Dick sought his room, he muttered to himself, 'I'm glad to
see that these over-cunning fellows are sure to meet their match, and get
beaten even at the game of their own invention.'
AN UNLOOKED-FOR CORRESPONDENT
It was no uncommon thing for the tenants to address petitions and
complaints in writing to Kate, and it occurred to Nina as not impossible
that some one might have bethought him of entreating her intercession in
their favour. The look of the letter, and the coarse wax, and the writing,
all in a measure strengthened this impression, and it was in the most
careless of moods she broke the envelope, scarcely caring to look for the
name of the writer, whom she was convinced must be unknown to her.
She had just let her hair fall freely down on her neck and shoulders, and
was seated in a deep chair before her fire, as she opened the paper and
read, 'Mademoiselle Kostalergi.' This beginning, so unlikely for a peasant,
made her turn for the name, and she read, in a large full hand, the words
'DANIEL DONOGAN.' So complete was her surprise, that to satisfy herself
there was no trick or deception, she examined the envelope and the seal,
and reflected for some minutes over the mode in which the document had come
to her hands. Atlee's story was a very credible one: nothing more likely
than that the boy was charged to deliver the letter at the castle, and
simply sought to spare himself so many miles of way, or it might be that
he was enjoined to give it to the first traveller he met on his road to
Kilgobbin. Nina had little doubt that if Atlee guessed or had reason to
know the writer, he would have treated the letter as a secret missive which
would give him a certain power over her.
These thoughts did not take her long, and she turned once more to the
letter. 'Poor fellow,' said she aloud, 'why does he write to _me_?' And
her own voice sent back its surmises to her; and as she thought over him
standing on the lonely road, his clasped hands before him, and his hair
wafted wildly back from his uncovered head, two heavy tears rolled slowly
down her cheeks and dropped upon her neck. 'I am sure he loved me--I know
he loved me,' muttered she, half aloud. 'I have never seen in any eye the
same expression that his wore as he lay that morning in the grass. It was
not veneration, it was genuine adoration. Had I been a saint and wanted
worship, there was the very offering that I craved--a look of painful
meaning, made up of wonder and devotion, a something that said: take what
course you may, be wilful, be wayward, be even cruel, I am your slave.
You may not think me worthy of a thought, you may be so indifferent as to
forget me utterly, but my life from this hour has but one spell to charm,
one memory to sustain it. It needed not his last words to me to say that my
image would lay on his heart for ever. Poor fellow, _I_ need not have been
added to his sorrows, he has had his share of trouble without _me_!'
It was some time ere she could return to the letter, which ran thus:--
'MADEMOISELLE KOSTALERGI,--You once rendered me a great service--not alone
at some hazard to yourself, but by doing what must have cost you sorely. It
is now _my_ turn; and if the act of repayment is not equal to the original
debt, let me ask you to believe that it taxes _my_ strength even more than
_your_ generosity once taxed your own.
'I came here a few days since in the hope that I might see you before I
leave Ireland for ever; and while waiting for some fortunate chance, I
learned that you were betrothed and to be married to the young gentleman
who lies ill at Kilgobbin, and whose approaching trial at the assizes is
now the subject of so much discussion. I will not tell you--I have no right
to tell you--the deep misery with which these tidings filled me. It was no
use to teach my heart how vain and impossible were all my hopes with regard
to you. It was to no purpose that I could repeat over aloud to myself how
hopeless my pretensions must be. My love for you had become a religion, and
what I could deny to a hope, I could still believe. Take that hope away,
and I could not imagine how I should face my daily life, how interest
myself in its ambitions, and even care to live on.
'These sad confessions cannot offend you, coming from one even as humble as
I am. They are all that are left me for consolation--they will soon be all
I shall have for memory. The little lamp in the lowly shrine comforts the
kneeling worshipper far more than it honours the saint; and the love I
bear you is such as this. Forgive me if I have dared these utterances. To
save him with whose fortunes your own are to be bound up became at once
my object; and as I knew with what ingenuity and craft his ruin had been
compassed, it required all my efforts to baffle his enemies. The National
press and the National party have made a great cause of this trial, and
determined that tenant-right should be vindicated in the person of this man
'I have seen enough of what is intended here to be aware what mischief may
be worked by hard swearing, a violent press, and a jury not insensible to
public opinion--evils, if you like, but evils that are less of our own
growing than the curse ill-government has brought upon us. It has been
decided in certain councils--whose decrees are seldom gainsaid--that an
example shall be made of Captain Gorman O'Shea, and that no effort shall
be spared to make his case a terror and a warning to Irish landowners; how
they attempt by ancient process of law to subvert the concessions we have
wrung from our tyrants.
'A jury to find him guilty will be sworn; and let us see the judge--in
defiance of a verdict given from the jury-box, without a moment's
hesitation or the shadow of dissent--let us see the judge who will dare to
diminish the severity of the sentence. This is the language, these are the
very words of those who have more of the rule of Ireland in their hands
than the haughty gentlemen, honourable and right honourable, who sit at
'I have heard this opinion too often of late to doubt how much it is a
fixed determination of the party; and until now--until I came here, and
learned what interest his fate could have for me--I offered no opposition
to these reasonings. Since then I have bestirred myself actively. I have
addressed the committee here who have taken charge of the prosecution; I
have written to the editors of the chief newspapers; I have even made a
direct appeal to the leading counsel for the prosecution, and tried to
persuade them that a victory here might cost us more than a defeat, and
that the country at large, who submit with difficulty to the verdict of
absolving juries, will rise with indignation at this evidence of a jury
prepared to exercise a vindictive power, and actually make the law the
agent of reprisal. I have failed in all--utterly failed. Some reproach me
as faint-hearted and craven; some condescend to treat me as merely mistaken
and misguided; and some are bold enough to hint that, though as a military
authority I stand without rivalry, as a purely political adviser, my
counsels are open to dispute.
'I have still a power, however, through the organisation of which I am a
chief; and by this power I have ordered Gill to appear before me, and in
obedience to my commands, he will sail this night for America. With him
will also leave the two other important witnesses in this cause; so that
the only evidence against Captain O'Shea will be some of those against whom
he has himself instituted a cross charge for assault. That the prosecution
can be carried on with such testimony need not be feared. Our press will
denounce the infamous arts by which these witnesses have been tampered
with, and justice has been defeated. The insults they may hurl at our
oppressors--for once unjustly--will furnish matter for the Opposition
journals to inveigh against our present Government, and some good may come
even of this. At all events, I shall have accomplished what I sought. I
shall have saved from a prison the man I hate most on earth, the man who,
robbing me of what never could be mine, robs me of every hope, of every
ambition, making my love as worthless as my life! Have I not repaid you?
Ask your heart which of us has done more for the other?
'The contract on which Gill based his right as a tenant, and which would
have sustained his action, is now in my hands; and I will--if you permit
me--place it in yours. This may appear an ingenious device to secure a
meeting with you; but though I long to see you once more, were it but a
minute, I would not compass it by a fraud. If, then, you will not see me, I
shall address the packet to you through the post.
'I have finished. I have told you what it most concerns you to know,
and what chiefly regards your happiness. I have done this as coldly and
impassively, I hope, as though I had no other part in the narrative than
that of the friend whose friendship had a blessed office. I have not told
you of the beating heart that hangs over this paper, nor will I darken one
bright moment of your fortune by the gloom of mine. If you will write me
one line--a farewell if it must be--send it to the care of Adam Cobb,
"Cross Keys," Moate, where I shall find it up to Thursday next. If--and oh!
how shall I bless you for it--if you will consent to see me, to say one
word, to let me look on you once more, I shall go into my banishment with a
bolder heart, as men go into battle with an amulet. DANIEL DONOGAN.'
'Shall I show this to Kate?' was the first thought of Nina as she laid the
letter down. 'Is it a breach of confidence to let another than myself read
these lines? Assuredly they were meant for my eyes alone. Poor fellow!'
said she, once more aloud. 'It was very noble in him to do this for one he
could not but regard as a rival.' And then she asked herself how far it
might consist with honour to derive benefit from his mistake--since mistake
it was--in believing O'Shea was her lover, and to be her future husband.
'There can be little doubt Donogan would never have made the sacrifice had
he known that I am about to marry Walpole.' From this she rambled on to
speculate on how far might Donogan's conduct compromise or endanger him
with his own party, and if--which she thought well probable--there was a
distinct peril in what he was doing, whether he would have incurred that
peril if he really knew the truth, and that it was not herself he was
The more she canvassed these doubts, the more she found the difficulty of
resolving them, nor indeed was there any other way than one--distinctly to
ask Donogan if he would persist in his kind intentions when he knew that
the benefit was to revert to her cousin and not to herself. So far as the
evidence of Gill at the trial was concerned, the man's withdrawal was
already accomplished, but would Donogan be as ready to restore the lease,
and would he, in fact, be as ready to confront the danger of all this
interference, as at first? She could scarcely satisfy her mind how she
would wish him to act in the contingency! She was sincerely fond of Kate,
she knew all the traits of honesty and truth in that simple character, and
she valued the very qualities of straightforwardness and direct purpose
in which she knew she was herself deficient. She would have liked well to
secure that dear girl's happiness, and it would have been an exquisite
delight to her to feel that she had been an aid to her welfare; and yet,
with all this, there was a subtle jealousy that tortured her in thinking,
'What will this man have done to prove his love for _me_? Where am I, and
what are my interests in all this?' There was a poison in this doubt that
actually extended to a state of fever. 'I must see him,' she said at last,
speaking aloud to herself. 'I must let him know the truth. If what he
proposes shall lead him to break with his party or his friends, it is well
he should see for what and for whom he is doing it.'
And then she persuaded herself she would like to hear Donogan talk, as once
before she had heard him talk, of his hopes and his ambitions. There was
something in the high-sounding inspirations of the man, a lofty heroism in
all he said, that struck a chord in her Greek nature. The cause that was
so intensely associated with danger that life was always on the issue,
was exactly the thing to excite her heart, and, like the trumpet-blast to
the charger, she felt stirred to her inmost soul by whatever appealed to
reckless daring and peril. 'He shall tell me what he intends to do--his
plans, his projects, and his troubles. He shall tell me of his hopes, what
he desires in the future, and where he himself will stand when his efforts
have succeeded; and oh!' thought she, 'are not the wild extravagances of
these men better a thousand times than the well-turned nothings of the fine
gentlemen who surround us? Are not their very risks and vicissitudes more
manly teachings than the small casualties of the polished world? If life
were all "salon," taste perhaps might decide against them; but it is not
all "salon," or, if it were, it would be a poorer thing even than I think
it!' She turned to her desk as she said this, and wrote:--
'DEAR MR. DONOGAN,--I wish to thank you in person for the great kindness
you have shown me, though there is some mistake on your part in the matter.
I cannot suppose you are able to come here openly, but if you will be in
the garden on Saturday evening at 9 o'clock, I shall be there to meet you.
I am, very truly yours,
'Very imprudent--scarcely delicate--perhaps, all this, and for a girl who
is to be married to another man in some three weeks hence, but I will
tell Cecil Walpole all when he returns, and if he desires to be off his
engagement, he shall have the liberty. I have one-half at least of the
Bayard Legend, and if I cannot say I am "without reproach," I am certainly
The letter-bag lay in the hall, and Nina went down at once and deposited
her letter in it; this done, she lay down on her bed, not to sleep, but to
think over Donogan and his letter till daybreak.
'Strange house this,' said Joseph Atlee, as Nina entered the room the next
morning where he sat alone at breakfast. 'Lord Kilgobbin and Dick were here
a moment ago, and disappeared suddenly; Miss Kearney for an instant, and
also left as abruptly; and now you have come, I most earnestly hope not to
fly away in the same fashion.'
'No; I mean to eat my breakfast, and so far to keep you company.'
'I thank the tea-urn for my good fortune,' said he solemnly.
'A _tete-a-tete_ with Mr. Atlee is a piece of good-luck,' said Nina, as she
sat down. 'Has anything occurred to call our hosts away?'
'In a house like this,' said he jocularly, 'where people are marrying or
giving in marriage at every turn, what may not happen? It may be a question
of the settlement, or the bridecake, or white satin "slip"--if that's the
name for it--the orange-flowers, or the choice of the best man--who knows?'
'You seem to know the whole bead-roll of wedding incidents.'
'It is a dull _repertoire_ after all, for whether the piece be melodrama,
farce, genteel comedy, or harrowing tragedy, it has to be played by the
'What would you have--marriages cannot be all alike. There must be many
marriages for things besides love: for ambition, for interest, for money,
'Convenience is exactly the phrase I wanted and could not catch.'
'It is not the word _I_ wanted, nor do I think we mean the same thing by
'What I mean is this,' said Atlee, with a firm voice, 'that when a young
girl has decided in her own mind that she has had enough of that social
bondage of the daughter, and cannot marry the man she would like, she will
marry the man that she can.'
'And like him too,' added Nina, with a strange, dubious sort of smile.
'Yes, and like him too; for there is a curious feature in the woman's
nature that, without any falsehood or disloyalty, permits her to like
different people in different ways, so that the quiet, gentle, almost
impassive woman might, if differently mated, have been a being of fervid
temper, headstrong and passionate. If it were not for this species of
accommodation, marriage would be a worse thing than it is.'
'I never suspected you of having made a study of the subject. Since when
have you devoted your attention to the theme?'
'I could answer in the words of Wilkes--since I have had the honour to
know your Royal Highness; but perhaps you might be displeased with the
'I should think that very probable,' said she gravely.
'Don't look so serious. Remember that I did not commit myself after all.'
'I thought it was possible to discuss this problem without a personality.'
'Don't you know that, let one deal in abstractions as long as he will, he
is only skirmishing around special instances. It is out of what I glean
from individuals I make up my generalities.'
'Am I to understand by this that I have supplied you with the material of
one of these reflections?'
'You have given me the subject of many. If I were to tell you how often I
have thought of you, I could not answer for the words in which I might tell
'Do not tell it, then.'
'I know--I am aware--I have heard since I came here that there is a special
reason why you could not listen to me.'
'And being so, why do you propose that I should hear you?'
'I will tell you,' said he, with an earnestness that almost startled
her: 'I will tell you, because there are things on which a doubt or an
equivocation are actually maddening; and I will not, I cannot, believe that
you have accepted Cecil Walpole.'
'Will you please to say why it should seem so incredible?'
'Because I have seen you not merely in admiration, and that admiration
would be better conveyed by a stronger word; and because I have measured
you with others infinitely beneath you in every way, and who are yet
soaring into very high regions indeed; because I have learned enough of the
world to know that alongside of--often above--the influence that men are
wielding in life by their genius and their capacity, there is another power
exercised by women of marvellous beauty, of infinite attractions, and
exquisite grace, which sways and moulds the fate of mankind far more than
Cabinets and Councils. There are not above half a dozen of these in Europe,
and you might be one added to the number.'
'Even admitting all this--and I don't see that I should go so far--it is no
answer to my question.'
'Must I then say there can be no--not companionship, that's not the word;
no, I must take the French expression, and call it _solidarite_--there can
be no _solidarite_ of interests, of objects, of passions, or of hopes,
between people so widely dissevered as you and Walpole. I am so convinced
of this, that still I can dare to declare I cannot believe you could marry
'And if I were to tell you it were true?'
'I should still regard it as a passing caprice, that the mere mention of
to-morrow would offend you. It is no disparagement of Walpole to say he is
unworthy of you, for who would be worthy? but the presumption of his daring
is enough to excite indignation--at least, I feel it such. How he could
dare to link his supreme littleness with consummate perfection; to freight
the miserable barque of his fortunes with so precious a cargo; to encounter
the feeling--and there is no escape for it--"I must drag that woman down,
not alone into obscurity, but into all the sordid meanness of a small
condition, that never can emerge into anything better." He cannot disguise
from himself that it is not within his reach to attain power, or place,
or high consideration. Such men make no name in life; they leave no
mark on their time. They are heaven-born subordinates, and never refute
their destiny. Does a woman with ambition--does a woman conscious of
her own great merits--condescend to ally herself, not alone with small
fortune--that might be borne--but with the smaller associations that make
up these men's lives? with the peddling efforts to mount even one rung
higher of that crazy little ladder of their ambition--to be a clerk of
another grade--a creature of some fifty pounds more--a being in an upper
'And the prince--for he ought to be at least a prince who should make me
the offer of his name--whence is he to come, Mr. Atlee?'
'There are men who are not born to princely station, who by their genius
and their determination are just as sure to become famous, and who need but
the glorious prize of such a woman's love--No, no, don't treat what I say
as rant and rodomontade; these are words of sober sense and seriousness.'
'Indeed!' said she, with a faint sigh. 'So that it really amounts to
this--that I shall actually have missed my whole fortune in life--thrown
myself away--all because I would not wait for Mr. Atlee to propose to me.'
Nothing less than Atlee's marvellous assurance and self-possession could
have sustained this speech unabashed.
'You have only said what my heart has told me many a day since.'
'But you seem to forget,' added she, with a very faint curl of scorn on
her lip, 'that I had no more to guide me to the discovery of Mr. Atlee's
affection than that of his future greatness. Indeed, I could more readily
believe in the latter than the former.'
'Believe in both,' cried he warmly. 'If I have conquered difficulties in
life, if I have achieved some successes--now for a passing triumph, now
for a moment of gratified vanity, now for a mere caprice--try me by a mere
hope--I only plead for a hope--try me by hope of being one day worthy of
calling that hand my own.'
As he spoke, he tried to grasp her hand; but she withdrew it coldly and
slowly, saying, 'I have no fancy to make myself the prize of any success in
life, political or literary; nor can I believe that the man who reasons
in this fashion has any really high ambition. Mr. Atlee,' added she, more
gravely, 'your memory may not be as good as mine, and you will pardon me
if I remind you that, almost at our first meeting, we struck up a sort of
friendship, on the very equivocal ground of a common country. We agreed
that each of us claimed for their native land the mythical Bohemia, and we
agreed, besides, that the natives of that country are admirable colleagues,
but not good partners.'
'You are not quite fair in this,' he began; but before he could say more
Dick Kearney entered hurriedly, and cried out, 'It's all true. The people
are in wild excitement, and all declare that they will not let him be
taken. Oh! I forgot,' added he. 'You were not here when my father and I
were called away by the despatch from the police-station, to say that
Donogan has been seen at Moate, and is about to hold a meeting on the bog.
Of course, this is mere rumour; but the constabulary are determined to
capture him, and Curtis has written to inform my father that a party of
police will patrol the grounds here this evening.'
'And if they should take him, what would happen--to him, I mean?' asked
'An escaped convict is usually condemned to death; but I suppose they would
not hang him,' said Dick.
'Hang him!' cried Atlee; 'nothing of the kind. Mr. Gladstone would present
him with a suit of clothes, a ten-pound note, and a first-class passage to
America. He would make a "healing measure" of him.'
'I must say, gentlemen,' said Nina scornfully, 'you can discuss your
friend's fate with a marvellous equanimity.'
'So we do,' rejoined Atlee. 'He is another Bohemian.'
'Don't say so, sir,' said she passionately. 'The men who put their lives on
a venture--and that venture not a mere gain to themselves--are in nowise
the associates of those poor adventurers who are gambling for their daily
living. He is a rebel, if you like; but he believes in rebellion. How much
do you believe in, Mr. Atlee?'
'I say, Joe, you are getting the worst of this discussion. Seriously,
however, I hope they'll not catch poor Donogan; and my father has asked
Curtis to come over and dine here, and I trust to a good fire and some old
claret to keep him quiet for this evening, at least. We must not molest the
police; but there's no great harm done if we mislead them.'
'Once in the drawing-room, if Mademoiselle Kostalergi will only condescend
to aid us,' added Atlee, 'I think Curtis will be more than a chief
constable if he will bethink him of his duty.'
'You are a strange set of people, you Irish,' said Nina, as she walked
away. 'Even such of you as don't want to overthrow the Government are
always ready to impede its march and contribute to its difficulties.'
'She only meant that for an impertinence,' said Atlee, after she left
the room; 'but she was wonderfully near the truth, though not truthfully
THE GARDEN BY MOONLIGHT
There was but one heavy heart at the dinner-table that day; but Nina's
pride was proof against any disclosure of suffering, and though she was
tortured by anxiety and fevered with doubt, none--not even Kate--suspected
that any care weighed on her.
As for Kate herself, her happiness beamed in every line and lineament
of her handsome face. The captain--to give him the name by which he was
known--had been up that day, and partaken of an afternoon tea with his aunt
and Kate. Her spirits were excellent, and all the promise of the future was
rose-coloured and bright. The little cloud of what trouble the trial might
bring was not suffered to darken the cheerful meeting, and it was the one
only bitter in their cup.
To divert Curtis from this theme, on which, with the accustomed _mal a
propos_ of an awkward man, he wished to talk, the young men led him to the
subject of Donogan and his party.
'I believe we'll take him this time,' said Curtis. 'He must have some close
relations with some one about Moate or Kilbeggan, for it is remarked he
cannot keep away from the neighbourhood; but who are his friends, or what
they are meditating, we cannot guess.'
'If what Mademoiselle Kostalergi said this morning be correct,' remarked
Atlee, 'conjecture is unnecessary. She told Dick and myself that every
Irishman is at heart a rebel.'
'I said more or less of one, Mr. Atlee, since there are some who have not
the courage of their opinions.'
'I hope you are gratified by the emendation,' whispered Dick; and then
added aloud, 'Donogan is not one of these.'
'He's a consummate fool,' cried Curtis bluntly. 'He thinks the attack of
a police-barrack or the capture of a few firelocks will revolutionise
'He forgets that there are twelve thousand police, officered by such men as
yourself, captain,' said Nina gravely.
'Well, there might be worse,' rejoined Curtis doggedly, for he was not
quite sure of the sincerity of the speaker.
'What will you be the better of taking him?' said Kilgobbin. 'If the whole
tree be pernicious, where's the use of plucking one leaf off it?'
'The captain has nothing to do with that,' said Atlee, 'any more than
a hound has to discuss the morality of foxhunting--his business is the
'I don't like your simile, Mr. Atlee,' said Nina, while she whispered some
words to the captain, and drew him in this way into a confidential talk.
'I don't mind him at all, Miss Nina,' said Curtis; 'he's one of those
fellows on the press, and they are always saying impertinent things to keep
their talents in wind. I'll tell you, in confidence, how wrong he is. I
have just had a meeting with the Chief Secretary, who told me that the
popish bishops are not at all pleased with the leniency of the Government;
that whatever "healing measures" Mr. Gladstone contemplates, ought to be
for the Church and the Catholics; that the Fenians or the Nationalists
are the enemies of the Holy Father; and that the time has come for the
Government to hunt them down, and give over the rule of Ireland to the
Cardinal and his party.'
'That seems to me very reasonable, and very logical,' said Nina.
'Well, it is and it is not. If you want peace in the rabbit-warren, you
must banish either the rats or the rabbits; and I suppose either the
Protestants or the Papists must have it their own way here.'
'Then you mean to capture this man?'
'We do--we are determined on that. And, what's more, I'd hang him if I had
'Just because he isn't a bad fellow! There's no use in hanging a bad fellow
in Ireland--it frightens nobody; but if you hang a respectable man, a man
that has done generous and fine things, it produces a great effect on
society, and is a terrible example.'
'There may be a deep wisdom in what you say.'
'Not that they'll mind me for all that. It's the men like myself, Miss
Nina, who know Ireland well, who know every assize town in the country, and
what the juries will do in each, are never consulted in England. They say,
"Let Curtis catch him--that's his business."'
'And how will you do it?'
'I'll tell you. I haven't men enough to watch all the roads; but I'll take
care to have my people where he's least likely to go, that is, to the
north. He's a cunning fellow is Dan, and he'd make for the Shannon if he
could; but now that he knows we 're after him, he'll turn to Antrim or
Derry. He'll cut across Westmeath, and make north, if he gets away from
'That is a very acute calculation of yours; and where do you suspect he may
be now--I mean, at this moment we're talking?'
'He's not three miles from where we're sitting,' said he, in a low whisper,
and a cautious glance round the table. 'He's hid in the bog outside.
There's scores of places there a man could hide in, and never be tracked;
and there's few fellows would like to meet Donogan single-handed. He's as
active as a rope-dancer, and he's as courageous as the devil.'
'It would be a pity to hang such a fellow.'
'There's plenty more of the same sort--not exactly as good as him, perhaps,
for Dan was a gentleman once.'
'And is, probably, still?'
'It would be hard for him, with the rapscallions he has to live with, and
not five shillings in his pocket, besides.'
'I don't know, after all, if you'll be happier for giving him up to the
law. He may have a mother, a sister, a wife, or a sweetheart.'
'He may have a sweetheart, but I know he has none of the others. He said,
in the dock, that no man could quit life at less cost--that there wasn't
one to grieve after him.'
'Poor fellow! that was a sad confession.'
'We're not all to turn Fenians, Miss Nina, because we're only children and
'You are too clever for me to dispute with,' said she, in affected
humility; 'but I like greatly to hear you talk of Ireland. Now, what number
of people have you here?'
'I have my orderly, and two men to patrol the demesne; but to-morrow we'll
draw the net tighter. We'll call in all the party from Moate, and from
information I have got, we're sure to track him.'
'What confidences is Curtis making with Mademoiselle Nina?' said Atlee,
who, though affecting to join the general conversation, had never ceased to
'The captain is telling me how he put down the Fenians in the rising of
'61,' said Nina calmly.
'And did he? I say, Curtis, have you really suppressed rebellion in
'No; nor won't, Mr. Joe Atlee, till we put down the rascally press--the
unprincipled penny-a-liners, that write treason to pay for their dinner.'
'Poor fellows!' replied Atlee. 'Let us hope it does not interfere with
their digestion. But seriously, mademoiselle, does it not give you a great
notion of our insecurity here in Ireland when you see to what we trust, law
'Never mind him, Curtis,' said Kilgobbin. 'When these fellows are not
saying sharp things, they have to be silent.'
While the conversation went briskly on, Nina contrived to glance unnoticed
at her watch, and saw that it wanted only a quarter of an hour to nine.
Nine was the hour she had named to Donogan to be in the garden, and she
already trembled at the danger to which she had exposed him. She reasoned
thus: so reckless and fearless is this man, that, if he should have come
determined to see me, and I do not go to meet him, he is quite capable of
entering the house boldly, even at the cost of being captured. The very
price he would have to pay for his rashness would be its temptation.'
A sudden cast of seriousness overcame her as she thus thought, and Kate,
perceiving it, rose at once to retire.
'You were not ill, dearest Nina? I saw you grow pale, and I fancied for a
moment you seemed faint.'
'No; a mere passing weakness. I shall lie down and be better presently.'
'And then you'll come up to aunt's room--I call godmother aunt now--and
take tea with Gorman and us all.'
'Yes, I'll do that after a little rest. I'll take half an hour or so of
quiet,' said she, in broken utterances. 'I suppose the gentlemen will sit
over their wine; there's no fear of their breaking-up.'
'Very little _fear_, indeed,' said Kate, laughing at the word. 'Papa made
me give out some of his rare old '41 wine to-day, and they're not likely to
'Bye-bye, then, for a little while,' said Nina dreamily, for her thoughts
had gone off on another track. 'I shall join you later on.'
Kate tripped gaily up the stairs, singing pleasantly as she went, for hers
was a happy heart and a hopeful.
Nina lingered for a moment with her hand on the banister, and then hurried
to her room.
It was a still cold night of deep winter, a very faint crescent of a new
moon was low in the sky, and a thin snowfall, slightly crisped with frost,
covered the ground. Nina opened her window and looked out. All was still
and quiet without--not a twig moved. She bent her ear to listen, thinking
that on the frozen ground a step might perhaps be heard, and it was a
relief to her anxiety when she heard nothing. The chill cold air that came
in through the window warned her to muffle herself well, and she drew the
hood of her scarlet cloak over her head. Strong-booted, and with warm
gloves, she stood for a moment at her door to listen, and finding all
quiet, she slowly descended the stairs and gained the hall. She started
affrighted as she entered, thinking there was some one seated at the table,
but she rallied in an instant, as she saw it was only the loose horseman's
coat or cloak of the chief constable, which, lined with red, and with the
gold-laced cap beside it, made up the delusion that alarmed her.
It was not an easy task to withdraw the heavy bolts and bars that secured
the massive door, and even to turn the heavy key in the lock required an
effort; but she succeeded at length, and issued forth into the open.
'How I hope he has not come! how I pray he has not ventured!' said she to
herself as she walked along. 'Leave-takings are sad things, and why incur
one so full of peril and misery too? When I wrote to him, of course I knew
nothing of his danger, and it is exactly his danger will make him come!'
She knew of others to whom such reasonings would not have applied, and a
scornful shake of the head showed that she would not think of them at such
a moment. The sound of her own footsteps on the crisp ground made her once
or twice believe she heard some one coming, and as she stopped to listen,
the strong beating of her heart could be counted. It was not fear--at least
not fear in the sense of a personal danger--it was that high tension which
great anxiety lends to the nerves, exalting vitality to a state in which a
sensation is as powerful as a material influence.
She ascended the steps of the little terraced mound of the rendezvous one
by one, overwhelmed almost to fainting by some imagined analogy with the
scaffold, which might be the fate of him she was going to meet.
He was standing under a tree, his arms crossed on his breast, as she came
up. The moment she appeared, he rushed to meet her, and throwing himself on
one knee, he seized her hand and kissed it.
'Do you know your danger in being here?' she asked, as she surrendered her
hand to his grasp.
'I know it all, and this moment repays it tenfold.'
'You cannot know the full extent of the peril; you cannot know that Captain
Curtis and his people are in the castle at this moment, that they are in
full cry after you, and that every avenue to this spot is watched and
'What care I! Have I not this?' And he covered her hand with kisses.
'Every moment that you are here increases your danger, and if my absence
should become known, there will be a search after me. I shall never forgive
myself if my folly should lead to your being captured.'
'If I could but feel my fate was linked with yours, I'd give my life for it
'It was not to listen to such words as these I came here.'
'Remember, dearest, they are the last confessions of one you shall never
see more. They are the last cry of a heart that will soon be still for
'No, no, no!' cried she passionately. 'There is life enough left for you to
win a worthy name. Listen to me calmly now: I have heard from Curtis within
the last hour all his plans for your capture; I know where his patrols are
stationed, and the roads they are to watch.'
'And did you care to do this?' said he tenderly.
'I would do more than that to save you.'
'Oh, do not say so!' cried he wildly, 'or you will give me such a desire to
live as will make a coward of me.'
'Curtis suspects you will go northward; either he has had information, or
computes it from what you have done already.'
'He is wrong, then. When I go hence, it shall be to the court-house at
Tullamore, where I mean to give myself up.'
'As what I am--a rebel, convicted, sentenced, and escaped, and still a
'You do not, then, care for life?'
'Do I not, for such moments of life as this!' cried he, as, with a wild
rapture, he kissed her hand again and again.
'And were I to ask you, you would not try to save your life?'
'To share that life with you there is not anything I would not dare. To
live and know you were another's is more than I can face. Tell me, Nina, is
it true you are to be the wife of this soldier? I cannot utter his name.'
'I am to be married to Mr. Walpole.'
'What! to that contemptuous young man you have already told me so much of.
How have they brought you down to this?'
'There is no thought of bringing down; his rank and place are above my
own--he is by family and connection superior to us all.'
'And what is he, or how does he aspire to you? Is the vulgar security
of competence to live on--is that enough for one like you? is the
well-balanced good-breeding of common politeness enough to fill a heart
that should be fed on passionate devotion? You may link yourself to
mediocrity, but can you humble your nature to resemble it. Do you believe
you can plod on the dreary road of life without an impulse or an ambition,
or blend your thoughts with those of a man who has neither?'
She stood still and did not utter a word.
'There are some--I do not know if you are one of them--who have an almost
shrinking dread of poverty.'
'I am not afraid of poverty.'
'It has but one antidote, I know--intense love! The all-powerful sense of
living for another begets indifference to the little straits and trials of
narrow fortune, till the mind at last comes to feel how much there is to
live for beyond the indulgence of vulgar enjoyments; and if, to crown all,
a high ambition be present, there will be an ecstasy of bliss no words can
'Have you failed in Ireland?' asked she suddenly.
'Failed, so far as to know that a rebellion will only ratify the subjection
of the country to England; a reconquest would be slavery. The chronic
discontent that burns in every peasant heart will do more than the appeal
to arms. It is slow, but it is certain.'
'And where is your part?'
'My part is in another land; my fortune is linked with America--that is, if
I care to have a fortune.'
'Come, come, Donogan,' cried she, calling him inadvertently by his name,
'men like you do not give up the battle of life so easily. It is the very
essence of their natures to resist pressure and defy defeat.'
'So I could; so I am ready to show myself. Give me but hope. There are high
paths to be trodden in more than one region of the globe. There are great
prizes to be wrestled for, but it must be by him who would share them with
another. Tell me, Nina,' said he suddenly, lowering his voice to a tone
of exquisite tenderness, 'have you never, as a little child, played at
that game of what is called seeking your fortune, wandered out into some
thick wood or along a winding rivulet, to meet whatever little incident
imagination might dignify into adventure; and in the chance heroism of your
situation have you not found an intense delight? And if so in childhood,
why not see if adult years cannot renew the experience? Why not see if the
great world be not as dramatic as the small one? I should say it is still
more so. I know you have courage.'
'And what will courage do for me?' asked she, after a pause.
'For you, not much; for me, everything.'
'I do not understand you.'
'I mean this--that if that stout heart could dare the venture and trust its
fate to me--to me, poor, outlawed, and doomed--there would be a grander
heroism in a girl's nature than ever found home in a man's.'
'And what should I be?'
'My wife within an hour; my idol while I live.'
'There are some who would give this another name than courage,' said she
'Let them call it what they will, Nina. Is it not to the unbounded trust of
a nature that is above all others that I, poor, unknown, ignoble as I
am, appeal when I ask, Will you be mine? One word--only one--or, better
He clasped her in his arms as he spoke, and drawing her head towards his,
kissed her cheek rapturously.
With wild and fervent words, he now told her rapidly that he had come
prepared to make her the declaration, and had provided everything, in the
event of her compliance, for their flight. By an unused path through the
bog they could gain the main road to Maryborough, where a priest, well
known in the Fenian interest, would join them in marriage. The officials
of the railroad were largely imbued with the Nationalist sentiment, and
Donogan could be sure of safe crossing to Kilkenny, where the members of
the party were in great force.
In a very few words he told her how, by the mere utterance of his name, he
could secure the faithful services and the devotion of the people in every
town or village of the kingdom. 'The English have done this for us,' cried
he, 'and we thank them for it. They have popularised rebellion in a way
that all our attempts could never have accomplished. How could I, for
instance, gain access to those little gatherings at fair or market, in the
yard before the chapel, or the square before the court-house--how could
I be able to explain to those groups of country-people what we mean by a
rising in Ireland? what we purpose by a revolt against England? how it is
to be carried on, or for whose benefit? what the prizes of success, what
the cost of failure? Yet the English have contrived to embody all these in
one word, and that word _my_ name!'
There was a certain artifice, there is no doubt, in the way in which this
poorly-clad and not distinguished-looking man contrived to surround himself
with attributes of power and influence; and his self-reliance imparted to
his voice as he spoke a tone of confidence that was actually dignified. And
besides this, there was personal daring--for his life was on the hazard,
and it was the very contingency of which he seemed to take the least heed.
Not less adroit, too, was the way in which he showed what a shock
and amazement her conduct would occasion in that world of her
acquaintances--that world which had hitherto regarded her as essentially a
pleasure-seeker, self-indulgent and capricious. '"Which of us all," will
they say, "could have done what that girl has done? Which of us, having the
world at her feet, her destiny at her very bidding, would go off and brave
the storms of life out of the heroism of her own nature? How we all misread
her nature! how wrongfully and unfairly we judged her! In what utter
ignorance of her real character was every interpretation we made! How
scornfully has she, by one act, replied to all our misconstruction of her!
What a sarcasm on all our worldliness is her devotion!"'
He was eloquent, after a fashion, and he had, above most men, the charm of
a voice of singular sweetness and melody. It was clear as a bell, and he
could modulate its tones till, like the drip, drip of water on a rock, they
fell one by one upon the ear. Masses had often been moved by the power of
his words, and the mesmeric influence of persuasiveness was a gift to do
him good service now.
There was much in the man that she liked. She liked his rugged boldness and
determination; she liked his contempt for danger and his self-reliance;
and, essentially, she liked how totally different he was to all other men.
He had not their objects, their hopes, their fears, and their ways. To
share the destiny of such a man was to ensure a life that could not pass
unrecorded. There might be storm, and even shipwreck, but there was
notoriety--perhaps even fame!
And how mean and vulgar did all the others she had known seem by comparison
with him--how contemptible the polished insipidity of Walpole, how
artificial the neatly-turned epigrams of Atlee. How would either of these
have behaved in such a moment of danger as this man's? Every minute he
passed there was another peril to his life, and yet he had no thought for
himself--his whole anxiety was to gain time to appeal to her. He told her
she was more to him than his ambition--she saw herself she was more to
him than life. The whirlwind rapidity of his eloquence also moved her,
and the varied arguments he addressed--now to her heroism, now to her
self-sacrifice, now to the power of her beauty, now to the contempt she
felt for the inglorious lives of commonplace people--the ignoble herd who
passed unnoticed. All these swayed her; and after a long interval, in which
she heard him without a word, she said, in a low murmur to herself, 'I will
Donogan clasped her to his heart as she said it, and held her some seconds
in a fast embrace. 'At last I know what it is to love,' cried he, with
'Look there!' cried she, suddenly disengaging herself from his arm. 'They
are in the drawing-room already. I can see them as they pass the windows. I
must go back, if it be for a moment, as I should be missed.'
'Can I let you leave me now?' he said, and the tears were in his eyes as he
'I have given you my word, and you may trust me,' said she, as she held out
'I was forgetting this document: this is the lease or the agreement I told
you of.' She took it, and hurried away.
In less than five minutes afterwards she was among the company in the
'Here have I been singing a rebel ballad, Nina,' said Kate, 'and not
knowing the while it was Mr. Atlee who wrote it.'
'What, Mr. Atlee,' cried Nina, 'is the "Time to begin" yours?' And then,
without waiting for an answer, she seated herself at the piano, and
striking the chords of the accompaniment with a wild and vigorous hand, she
'If the moment is come and the hour to need us,
If we stand man to man, like kindred and kin;
If we know we have one who is ready to lead us,
What want we for more than the word to begin?'
The wild ring of defiance in which her clear, full voice gave out these
words, seemed to electrify all present, and to a second or two of perfect
silence a burst of applause followed, that even Curtis, with all his
loyalty, could not refrain from joining.
'Thank God, you're not a man, Miss Nina!' cried he fervently.
'I'm not sure she's not more dangerous as she is,' said Lord Kilgobbin.
'There's people out there in the bog, starving and half-naked, would face
the Queen's Guards if they only heard her voice to cheer them on. Take my
word for it, rebellion would have died out long ago in Ireland if there
wasn't the woman's heart to warm it.'
'If it were not too great a liberty, Mademoiselle Kostalergi,' said Joe,'
I should tell you that you have not caught the true expression of my song.
The brilliant bravura in which you gave the last line, immensely exciting
as it was, is not correct. The whole force consists in the concentrated
power of a fixed resolve--the passage should be subdued.'
An insolent toss of the head was all Nina's reply, and there was a
stillness in the room, as, exchanging looks with each other, the different
persons there expressed their amazement at Atlee's daring.
'Who's for a rubber of whist?' said Lord Kilgobbin, to relieve the awkward
pause. 'Are you, Curtis? Atlee, I know, is ready.'
'Here is all prepared,' said Dick. 'Captain Curtis told me before dinner
that he would not like to go to bed till he had his sergeant's report, and
so I have ordered a broiled bone to be ready at one o'clock, and we'll sit
up as late as he likes after.'
'Make the stake pounds and fives,' cried Joe, 'and I should pronounce your
'With this amendment,' interposed my lord, 'that nobody is expected to
'I say, Joe,' whispered Dick, as they drew nigh the table, 'my cousin is
angry with you; why have you not asked her to sing?'
'Because she expects it; because she's tossing over the music yonder to
provoke it; because she's in a furious rage with me: that will be nine
points of the game in my favour,' hissed he out between his teeth.
'You are utterly wrong--you mistake her altogether.'
'Mistake a woman! Dick, will you tell me what I _do_ know, if I do not read
every turn and trick of their tortuous nature? They are occasionally hard
to decipher when they're displeased. It's very big print indeed when
'You're off, are you?' asked Nina, as Kate was about to leave.
'Yes; I'm going to read to him.'
'To read to him!' said Nina, laughing. 'How nice it sounds, when one sums
up all existence in a pronoun. Good-night, dearest--good-night,' and she
kissed her twice. And then, as Kate reached the door, she ran towards her,
and said, 'Kiss me again, my dearest Kate!'
'I declare you have left a tear upon my cheek,' said Kate.
'It was about all I could give you as a wedding-present,' muttered Nina, as
she turned away.
'Are you come to study whist, Nina?' said Lord Kilgobbin, as she drew nigh
[Illustration: 'I declare you have left a tear upon my cheek,' said Kate]
'No, my lord; I have no talent for games, but I like to look at the
Joe touched Dick with his foot, and shot a cunning glance towards him, as
though to say, 'Was I not correct in all I said?'
'Couldn't you sing us something, my dear? we're not such infatuated
gamblers that we'll not like to hear you--eh, Atlee?'
'Well, my lord, I don't know, I'm not sure--that is, I don't see how a
memory for trumps is to be maintained through the fascinating charm of
mademoiselle's voice. And as for cards, it's enough for Miss Kostalergi to
be in the room to make one forget not only the cards, but the Fenians.'
'If it was only out of loyalty, then, I should leave you!' said she, and
walked proudly away.
The whist-party did not break up till nigh morning. The sergeant had once
appeared at the drawing-room to announce that all was quiet without. There
had been no sign of any rising of the people, nor any disposition to molest
the police. Indeed, so peaceful did everything look, and such an air of
easy indifference pervaded the country, the police were half disposed
to believe that the report of Donogan being in the neighbourhood was
unfounded, and not impossibly circulated to draw off attention from some
other part of the country.
This was also Lord Kilgobbin's belief. 'The man has no friends, or even
warm followers, down here. It was the merest accident first led him to this
part of the country, where, besides, we are all too poor to be rebels. It's
only down in Meath, where the people are well off, and rents are not too
high, that people can afford to be Fenians.'
While he was enunciating this fact to Curtis, they were walking up and down
the breakfast-room, waiting for the appearance of the ladies to make tea.
'I declare it's nigh eleven o'clock,' said Curtis, 'and I meant to have
been over two baronies before this hour.'
'Don't distress yourself, captain. The man was never within fifty miles of
where we are. And why would he? It is not the Bog of Allen is the place for
'It's always the way with the people at the Castle,' grumbled out Curtis.
'They know more of what's going on down the country than we that live here!
It's one despatch after another. Head-centre Such-a-one is at the "Three
Cripples." He slept there two nights; he swore in fifteen men last
Saturday, and they'll tell you where he bought a pair of corduroy breeches,
and what he ate for his breakfast--'
'I wish we had ours,' broke in Kilgobbin. 'Where's Kate all this time?'
'Papa, papa, I want you for a moment; come here to me quickly,' cried
Kate, whose head appeared for a moment at the door. 'Here's very terrible
tidings, papa dearest,' said she, as she drew him along towards his study.
'Nina is gone! Nina has run away!'
'Run away for what?'
'Run away to be married; and she is married. Read this, or I'll read it for
you. A country boy has just brought it from Maryborough.'
Like a man stunned almost to insensibility, Kearney crossed his hands
before him, and sat gazing out vacantly before him.
'Can you listen to me? can you attend to me, dear papa?'
'Go on,' said he, in a faint voice.
'It is written in a great hurry, and very hard to read. It runs thus:
"Dearest,--I have no time for explainings nor excuses, if I were disposed
to make either, and I will confine myself to a few facts. I was married
this morning to Donogan--the rebel: I know you have added the word, and I
write it to show how our sentiments are united. As people are prone to put
into the lottery the number they have dreamed of, I have taken my ticket
in this greatest of all lotteries on the same wise grounds. I have been
dreaming adventures ever since I was a little child, and it is but natural
that I marry an adventurer."'
A deep groan from the old man made her stop; but as she saw that he was not
changed in colour or feature, she went on--
'"He says he loves me very dearly, and that he will treat me well. I like
to believe both, and I do believe them. He says we shall be very poor for
the present, but that he means to become something or somebody later on. I
do not much care for the poverty, if there is hope; and he is a man to hope
with and to hope from.
'"You are, in a measure, the cause of all, since it was to tell me he would
send away all the witnesses against your husband, that is to be, that I
agreed to meet him, and to give me the lease which Miss O'Shea was so rash
as to place in Gill's hands. This I now send you."'
'And this she has sent you, Kate?' asked Kilgobbin.
'Yes, papa, it is here, and the master of the _Swallow's_ receipt for Gill
as a passenger to Quebec.'
'There is little more, papa, except what I am to say to you--to forgive
'I can't forgive her. It was deceit--cruel deceit.'
'It was not, papa. I could swear there was no forethought. If there had
been, she would have told me. She told me everything. She never loved
Walpole; she could not love him. She was marrying him with a broken heart.
It was not that she loved another, but she knew she could have loved
'Don't talk such muddle to _me_,' said he angrily. 'You fancy life is to
be all courting, but it isn't. It's house-rent, and butchers' bills, and
apothecaries, and the pipe water--it's shoes, and schooling, and arrears
of rent, and rheumatism, and flannel waistcoats, and toothache have a
considerable space in Paradise!' And there was a grim comicality in his
utterance of the word.
'She said no more than the truth of herself,' broke in Kate. 'With all her
queenly ways, she could face poverty bravely--I know it.'
'So you can--any of you, if a man's making love to you. You care little
enough what you eat, and not much more what you wear, if he tells you it
becomes you; but that's not the poverty that grinds and crushes. It's what
comes home in sickness; it's what meets you in insolent letters, in threats
of this or menaces of that. But what do you know about it, or why do I
speak of it? She's married a man that could be hanged if the law caught
him, and for no other reason, that I see, than because he's a felon.'
'I don't think you are fair to her, papa.'
'Of course I'm not. Is it likely that at sixty I can be as great a fool as
I was at sixteen?'
'So that means that you once thought in the same way that she does?'
'I didn't say any such thing, miss,' said he angrily. 'Did you tell Miss
Betty what's happened us?'
'I just broke it to her, papa, and she made me run away and read the note
to you. Perhaps you'll come and speak to her?'
'I will,' said he, rising and preparing to leave the room. 'I'd rather hear
I was a bankrupt this morning than that news!' And he mounted the stairs,
sighing heavily as he went.
'Isn't this fine news the morning has brought us, Miss Betty!' cried he, as
he entered the room with a haggard look, and hands clasped before him. 'Did
you ever dream there was such disgrace in store for us?'
'This marriage, you mean,' said the old lady dryly.
'Of course I do--if you call it a marriage at all.'
'I do call it a marriage--here's Father Tierney's certificate, a copy made
in his own handwriting: "Daniel Donogan, M.P., of Killamoyle and Innismul,
County Kilkenny, to Virginia Kostalergi, of no place in particular,
daughter of Prince Kostalergi, of the same localities, contracted in holy
matrimony this morning at six o'clock, and witnessed likewise by Morris
McCabe, vestry clerk--Mary Kestinogue, her mark." Do you want more than
'Do I want more? Do I want a respectable wedding? Do I want a decent man--a
gentleman--a man fit to maintain her? Is this the way she ought to have
behaved? Is this what we thought of her?'
'It is not, Mat Kearney--you say truth. I never believed so well of her
till now. I never believed before that she had anything in her head but to
catch one of those English puppies, with their soft voices and their sneers
about Ireland. I never saw her that she wasn't trying to flatter them, and
to please them, and to sing them down, as she called it herself--the very
name fit for it! And that she had the high heart to take a man not only
poor, but with a rope round his neck, shows me how I wronged her. I could
give her five thousand this morning to make her a dowry, and to prove how I
'Can any one tell who he is? What do we know of him?'
'All Ireland knows of him; and, after all, Mat Kearney, she has only done
what her mother did before her.'
'Poor Matty!' said Kearney, as he drew his hand across his eyes.
'Ay, ay! Poor Matty, if you like; but Matty was a beauty run to seed, and,
like the rest of them, she married the first good-looking vagabond she saw.
Now, this girl was in the very height and bloom of her beauty, and she took
a fellow for other qualities than his whiskers or his legs. They tell me he
isn't even well-looking--so that I have hopes of her.'
'Well, well,' said Kearney, 'he has done you a good turn, anyhow--he has
got Peter Gill out of the country.'
'And it's the one thing that I can't forgive him, Mat, just the one thing
that's fretting me now. I was living in hopes to see that scoundrel Peter
on the table, and Counsellor Holmes baiting him in a cross-examination. I
wanted to see how the lawyer wouldn't leave him a rag of character or a
strip of truth to cover himself with. How he'd tear off his evasions, and
confront him with his own lies, till he wouldn't know what he was saying or
where he was sitting! I wanted to hear the description he would give of him
to the jury; and I'd go home to my dinner after that, and not wait for the
'All the same, I'm glad we're rid of Peter.'
'Of course you are. You're a man, and well pleased when your enemy runs
away; but if you were a woman, Mat Kearney, you'd rather he'd stand out
boldly and meet you, and fight his battle to the end. But they haven't done
with me yet. I'll put that little blackguard attorney, that said my letter
was a lease, into Chancery; and it will go hard with me if I don't have him
struck off the rolls. There's a small legacy of five hundred pounds left me
the other day, and, with the blessing of Providence, the Common Pleas shall
have it. Don't shake your head, Mat Kearney. I'm not robbing any one. Your
daughter will have enough and to spare--'
'Oh, godmother,' cried Kate imploringly.
'It wasn't I, my darling, that said the five hundred would be better spent
on wedding-clothes or house-linen. That delicate and refined suggestion was
your father's. It was his lordship made the remark.'
It was a fortunate accident at that conjuncture that a servant should
announce the arrival of Mr. Flood, the Tory J.P., who, hearing of Donogan's
escape, had driven over to confer with his brother magistrate. Lord
Kilgobbin was not sorry to quit the field, where he'd certainly earned few
laurels, and hastened down to meet his colleague.
While the two justices and Curtis discussed the unhappy condition of
Ireland, and deplored the fact that the law-breaker never appealed in vain
to the sympathies of a people whose instincts were adverse to discipline,
Flood's estimate of Donogan went very far to reconcile Kilgobbin to Nina's
'Out of Ireland, you'll see that man has stuff in him to rise to eminence
and station. All the qualities of which home manufacture would only make
a rebel will combine to form a man of infinite resource and energy in
America. Have you never imagined, Mr. Kearney, that if a man were to employ
the muscular energy to make his way through a drawing-room that he would
use to force his passage through a mob, the effort would be misplaced, and
the man himself a nuisance? Our old institutions, with all their faults,
have certain ordinary characteristics that answer to good-breeding and
good manners--reverence for authority, respect for the gradations of rank,
dislike to civil convulsion, and such like. We do not sit tamely by when
all these are threatened with overthrow; but there are countries where
there are fewer of these traditions, and men like Donogan find their place
While they debated such points as these within-doors, Dick Kearney and
Atlee sat on the steps of the hall door and smoked their cigars.
'I must say, Joe,' said Dick, 'that your accustomed acuteness cuts but a
very poor figure in the present case. It was no later than last night you
told me that Nina was madly in love with you. Do you remember, as we went
upstairs to bed, what you said on the landing? "That girl is my own. I may
marry her to-morrow, or this day three months."'
'And I was right.'
'So right were you that she is at this moment the wife of another.'
'And cannot you see why?'
'I suppose I can: she preferred him to you, and I scarcely blame her.'
'No such thing; there was no thought of preference in the matter. If
you were not one of those fellows who mistake an illustration, and see
everything in a figure but the parallel, I should say that I had trained
too finely. Now had she been thoroughbred, I was all right; as a cocktail,
I was all wrong.'
'I own I cannot follow you.'
'Well, the woman was angry, and she married that fellow out of pique.'
'Out of pique?'
'I repeat it. It was a pure case of temper. I would not ask her to sing. I
even found fault with the way she gave the rebel ballad. I told her there
was an old lady--Americanly speaking--at the corner of College Green, who
enunciated the words better, and then I sat down to whist, and would not
even vouchsafe a glance in return for those looks of alternate rage or
languishment she threw across the table. She was frantic. I saw it. There
was nothing she wouldn't have done. I vow she'd have married even _you_
at that moment. And with all that, she'd not have done it if she'd been
"clean-bred." Come, come, don't flare up, and look as if you'd strike me.
On the mother's side she was a Kearney, and all the blood of loyalty in her
veins; but there must have been something wrong with the Prince of Delos.
Dido was very angry, but her breeding saved her; _she_ didn't take a
head-centre because she quarrelled with AEneas.'
'You are, without exception, the most conceited--'
'No, not ass--don't say ass, for I'm nothing of the kind. Conceited, if you
like, or rather if your natural politeness insists on saying it, and cannot
distinguish between the vanity of a puppy and the self-consciousness
of real power; but come, tell me of something pleasanter than all this
personal discussion--how did mademoiselle convey her tidings? have you seen
her note? was it "transport"? was it high-pitched, or apologetic?'
'Kate read it to me, and I thought it reasonable enough. She had done a
daring thing, and she knew it; she hoped the best, and in any case she was
'Any mention of me?'
'Not a word--your name does not occur.'
'I thought not; she had not pluck for that. Poor girl, the blow is heavier
than I meant it.'
'She speaks of Walpole; she incloses a few lines to him, and tells my
sister where she will find a small packet of trinkets and such like he had
'Natural enough all that. There was no earthly reason why she shouldn't be
able to talk of Walpole as easily as of Colenso or the cattle plague; but
you see she could not trust herself to approach _my_ name.'
'You'll provoke me to kick you, Atlee.'
'In that case I shall sit where I am. But I was going to remark that as I
shall start for town by the next train, and intend to meet Walpole, if your
sister desires it, I shall have much pleasure in taking charge of that note
to his address.'
'All right, I'll tell her. I see that she and Miss Betty are about to drive
over to O'Shea's Barn, and I'll give your message at once.'
While Dick hastened away on his errand, Joe Atlee sat alone, musing
and thoughtful. I have no reason to presume my reader cares for his
reflections, nor to know the meaning of a strange smile, half scornful and
half sad, that played upon his face. At last he rose slowly, and stood
looking up at the grim old castle, and its quaint blending of ancient
strength and modern deformity. 'Life here, I take it, will go on pretty
much as before. All the acts of this drama will resemble each other, but my
own little melodrama must open soon. I wonder what sort of house there will
be for Joe Atlee's benefit.'
Atlee was right. Kilgobbin Castle fell back to the ways in which our
first chapter found it, and other interests--especially those of Kate's
approaching marriage--soon effaced the memory of Nina's flight and runaway
match. By that happy law by which the waves of events follow and obliterate
each other, the present glided back into the past, and the past faded till
its colours grew uncertain.
On the second evening after Nina's departure, Atlee stood on the pier of
Kingstown as the packet drew up at the jetty. Walpole saw him, and waved
his hand in friendly greeting. 'What news from Kilgobbin?' cried he, as he
'Nothing very rose-coloured,' said Atlee, as he handed the note.
'Is this true?' said Walpole, as a slight tremor shook his voice.
'Isn't it Irish?--Irish the whole of it.'
'So they said down there, and, stranger than all, they seemed rather proud