Part 7 out of 12
look she gave him did not lessen his embarrassment.
'Well, sir,' asked she, 'go on: is this another reminiscence?'
'No, Miss Kearney; I was only thinking of asking you who this Mr. Walpole
'Mr. Cecil Walpole is a nephew or a something to the Lord-Lieutenant, whose
private secretary he is. He is very clever, very amusing--sings, draws,
rides, and laughs at the Irish to perfection. I hope you mean to like him.'
'Of course, or I should not have bespoken your sympathy. My cousin used to
like him, but somehow he has fallen out of favour with her.'
'Was he absent some time?' asked he, with a half-cunning manner.
'Yes, I believe there was something of that in it. He was not here for
a considerable time, and when we saw him again, we almost owned we were
disappointed. Papa is calling me from the window, pray excuse me for a
moment.' She left him as she spoke, and ran rapidly back to the house,
whence she returned almost immediately. 'It was to ask you to stop and dine
here, Mr. O'Shea,' said she. 'There will be ample time to send back to Miss
O'Shea, and if you care to have your dinner-dress, they can send it.'
'This is Mr. Kearney's invitation?' asked he.
'Of course; papa is the master at Kilgobbin.'
'But will Miss Kearney condescend to say that it is hers also.'
'Certainly, though I'm not aware what solemnity the engagement gains by my
'I accept at once, and if you allow me, I'll go back and send a line to my
aunt to say so.'
'Don't you remember Mr. O'Shea, Dick?' asked she, as her brother lounged
up, making his first appearance that day.
'I'd never have known you,' said he, surveying him from head to foot,
without, however, any mark of cordiality in the recognition.
'All find me a good deal changed!' said the young fellow, drawing himself
to his full height, and with an air that seemed to say--'and none the worse
'I used to fancy I was more than your match,' rejoined Dick, smiling; 'I
suspect it's a mistake I am little likely to incur again.'
'Don't, Dick, for he has got a very ugly way of ridding people of their
illusions,' said Kate, as she turned once more and walked rapidly towards
TWO FAMILIAR EPISTLES
There were a number of bolder achievements Gorman O'Shea would have dared
rather than write a note; nor were the cares of the composition the
only difficulties of the undertaking. He knew of but one style of
correspondence--the report to his commanding officer, and in this he was
aided by a formula to be filled up. It was not, then, till after several
efforts, he succeeded in the following familiar epistle:--
'DEAR AUNT,--Don't blow up or make a rumpus, but if I had not taken the
mare and come over here this morning, the rascally police with their
search-warrant might have been down upon Mr. Kearney without a warning.
They were all stiff and cold enough at first: they are nothing to brag of
in the way of cordiality even yet--Dick especially--but they have asked me
to stay and dine, and, I take it, it is the right thing to do. Send me over
some things to dress with--and believe me your affectionate nephew,
'I send the mare back, and shall walk home to-morrow morning.
'There's a great Castle swell here, a Mr. Walpole, but I have not made his
acquaintance yet, and can tell nothing about him.'
* * * * *
Towards a late hour of the afternoon a messenger arrived with an ass-cart
and several trunks from O'Shea's Barn, and with the following note:--
'DEAR NEPHEW GORMAN,--O'Shea's Barn is not an inn, nor are the horses
there at public livery. So much for your information. As you seem fond of
"warnings," let me give you one, which is, To mind your own affairs in
preference to the interests of other people. The family at Kilgobbin are
perfectly welcome--so far as I am concerned--to the fascinations of your
society at dinner to-day, at breakfast to-morrow, and so on, with such
regularity and order as the meals succeed. To which end, I have now sent
you all the luggage belonging to you here.--I am, very respectfully, your
aunt, ELIZABETH O'SHEA.'
The quaint, old-fashioned, rugged writing was marked throughout by a
certain distinctness and accuracy that betoken care and attention--there
was no evidence whatever of haste or passion--and this expression of a
serious determination, duly weighed and resolved on, made itself very
painfully felt by the young man as he read.
'I am turned out--in plain words, turned out!' said he aloud, as he sat
with the letter spread out before him. 'It must have been no common
quarrel--not a mere coldness between the families--when she resents my
coming here in this fashion.' That innumerable differences could separate
neighbours in Ireland, even persons with the same interests and the same
religion, he well knew, and he solaced himself to think how he could get
at the source of this disagreement, and what chance there might be of a
Of one thing he felt certain. Whether his aunt were right or wrong, whether
tyrant or victim, he knew in his heart all the submission must come from
the others. He had only to remember a few of the occasions in life in which
he had to entreat his aunt's forgiveness for the injustice she had herself
inflicted, to anticipate what humble pie Mathew Kearney must partake of in
order to conciliate Miss Betty's favour.
'Meanwhile,' he thought, and not only thought, but said too--'Meanwhile, I
am on the world.'
Up to this, she had allowed him a small yearly income. Father Luke, whose
judgment on all things relating to continental life was unimpeachable, had
told her that anything like the reputation of being well off or connected
with wealthy people would lead a young man into ruin in the Austrian
service; that with a sum of 3000 francs per annum--about L120--he would be
in possession of something like the double of his pay, or rather more, and
that with this he would be enabled to have all the necessaries and many of
the comforts of his station, and still not be a mark for that high play and
reckless style of living that certain young Hungarians of family and large
fortune affected; and so far the priest was correct, for the young Gorman
was wasteful and extravagant from disposition, and his quarter's allowance
disappeared almost when it came. His money out, he fell back at once to
the penurious habits of the poorest subaltern about him, and lived on his
florin-and-half per diem till his resources came round again. He hoped--of
course he hoped--that this momentary fit of temper would not extend to
stopping his allowance.
'She knows as well as any one,' muttered he, 'that though the baker's son
from Prague, or the Amtmann's nephew from a Bavarian Dorf, may manage to
"come through" with his pay, the young Englishman cannot. I can neither
piece my own overalls, nor forswear stockings, nor can I persuade my
stomach that it has had a full meal by tightening my girth-strap three or
'I'd go down to the ranks to-morrow rather than live that life of struggle
and contrivance that reduces a man to playing a dreary game with himself,
by which, while he feels like a pauper, he has to fancy he felt like a
gentleman. No, no, I'll none of this. Scores of better men have served in
the ranks. I'll just change my regiment. By a lucky chance, I don't know a
man in the Walmoden Cuirassiers. I'll join them, and nobody will ever be
There is a class of men who go through life building very small castles,
and are no more discouraged by the frailty of the architecture than is a
child with his toy-house. This was Gorman's case; and now that he had found
a solution of his difficulties in the Walmoden Cuirassiers, he really
dressed for dinner in very tolerable spirits. 'It's droll enough,' thought
he, 'to go down to dine amongst all these "swells," and to think that the
fellow behind my chair is better off than myself.' The very uncertainty
of his fate supplied excitement to his spirits, for it is amongst the
privileges of the young that mere flurry can be pleasurable.
When Gorman reached the drawing-room, he found only one person. This was
a young man in a shooting-coat, who, deep in the recess of a comfortable
arm-chair, sat with the _Times_ at his feet, and to all appearance as if
He looked around, however, as young O'Shea came forward, and said
carelessly, 'I suppose it's time to go and dress--if I could.'
O'Shea making no reply, the other added, 'That is, if I have not overslept
'I hope not, sincerely,' rejoined the other, 'or I shall be a partner in
'Ah, you 're the Austrian,' said Walpole, as he stuck his glass in his eye
and surveyed him.
'Yes; and you are the private secretary of the Governor.'
'Only we don't call him Governor. We say Viceroy here.'
'With all my heart, Viceroy be it.'
There was a pause now--each, as it were, standing on his guard to resent
any liberty of the other. At last Walpole said, 'I don't think you were in
the house when that stupid stipendiary fellow called here this morning?'
'No; I was strolling across the fields. He came with the police, I
'Yes, he came on the track of some Fenian leader--a droll thought enough
anywhere out of Ireland, to search for a rebel under a magistrate's roof;
not but there was something still more Irish in the incident.'
'How was that?' asked O'Shea eagerly.
'I chanced to be out walking with the ladies when the escort came, and
as they failed to find the man they were after, they proceeded to make
diligent search for his papers and letters. That taste for practical
joking, that seems an instinct in this country, suggested to Mr. Kearney
to direct the fellows to my room, and what do you think they have done?
Carried off bodily all my baggage, and left me with nothing but the clothes
'What a lark!' cried O'Shea, laughing.
'Yes, I take it that is the national way to look at these things; but that
passion for absurdity and for ludicrous situations has not the same hold on
'I know that. You are too well off to be droll.'
'Not exactly that; but when we want to laugh we go to the Adelphi.'
'Heaven help you if you have to pay people to make fun for you!'
Before Walpole could make rejoinder, the door opened to admit the ladies,
closely followed by Mr. Kearney and Dick.
'Not mine the fault if I disgrace your dinner-table by such a costume as
this,' cried Walpole.
'I'd have given twenty pounds if they'd have carried off yourself as the
rebel!' said the old man, shaking with laughter. 'But there's the soup
on the table. Take my niece, Mr. Walpole; Gorman, give your arm to my
daughter. Dick and I will bring up the rear.'
AN EVENING IN THE DRAWING-ROOM
The fatalism of youth, unlike that of age, is all rose-coloured. That which
is coming, and is decreed to come, cannot be very disagreeable. This is
the theory of the young, and differs terribly from the experiences of
after-life. Gorman O'Shea had gone to dinner with about as heavy a
misfortune as could well befall him, so far as his future in life was
concerned. All he looked forward to and hoped for was lost to him: the
aunt who, for so many years, had stood to him in place of all family, had
suddenly thrown him off, and declared that she would see him no more; the
allowance she had hitherto given him withdrawn, it was impossible he could
continue to hold his place in his regiment. Should he determine not to
return, it was desertion--should he go back, it must be to declare that
he was a ruined man, and could only serve in the ranks. These were the
thoughts he revolved while he dressed for dinner, and dressed, let it be
owned, with peculiar care; but when the task had been accomplished, and
he descended to the drawing-room, such was the elasticity of his young
temperament, every thought of coming evil was merged in the sense of
present enjoyment, and the merry laughter which he overheard as he opened
the door, obliterated all notion that life had anything before him except
what was agreeable and pleasant.
'We want to know if you play croquet, Mr. O'Shea?' said Nina as he entered.
'And we want also to know, are you a captain, or a Rittmeister, or a major?
You can scarcely be a colonel.'
'Your last guess I answer first. I am only a lieutenant, and even that
very lately. As to croquet, if it be not your foreign mode of pronouncing
cricket, I never even saw it.'
'It is not my foreign mode of pronouncing cricket, Herr Lieutenant,' said
she pertly, 'but I guessed already you had never heard of it.'
'It is an out-of-door affair,' said Dick indolently, 'made for the
diffusion of worked petticoats and Balmoral boots.'
'I should say it is the game of billiards brought down to universal
suffrage and the million,' lisped out Walpole.
'Faith,' cried old Kearney, 'I'd say it was just football with a stick.'
'At all events,' said Kate, 'we purpose to have a grand match to-morrow.
Mr. Walpole and I are against Nina and Dick, and we are to draw lots for
you, Mr. O'Shea.'
'My position, if I understand it aright, is not a flattering one,' said he,
'We'll take him,' cried Nina at once. 'I'll give him a private lesson in
the morning, and I'll answer for his performance. These creatures,'
added she, in a whisper, 'are so drilled in Austria, you can teach them
Now, as the words were spoken O'Shea caught them, and drawing close to
her, said, 'I do hope I'll justify that flattering opinion.' But her only
recognition was a look of half-defiant astonishment at his boldness.
A very noisy discussion now ensued as to whether croquet was worthy to be
called a game or not, and what were its laws and rules--points which Gorman
followed with due attention, but very little profit; all Kate's good sense
and clearness being cruelly dashed by Nina's ingenious interruptions and
Walpole's attempts to be smart and witty, even where opportunity scarcely
offered the chance.
'Next to looking on at the game,' cried old Kearney at last, 'the most
tiresome thing I know of is to hear it talked over. Come, Nina, and give me
'What shall it be, uncle?' said she, as she opened the piano.
'Something Irish, I'd say, if I were to choose for myself. We've plenty of
old tunes, Mr. Walpole,' said Kearney, turning to that gentleman, 'that
rebellion, as you call it, has never got hold of. There's _"Cushla Macree"_
and the _"Cailan deas cruidhte na Mbo."_'
'Very like hard swearing that,' said Walpole to Nina; but his simper and
his soft accent were only met by a cold blank look, as though she had not
understood his liberty in addressing her. Indeed, in her distant manner,
and even repelling coldness, there was what might have disconcerted
any composure less consummate than his own. It was, however, evidently
Walpole's aim to assume that she felt her relation towards him, and not
altogether without some cause; while she, on her part, desired to repel the
insinuation by a show of utter indifference. She would willingly, in this
contingency, have encouraged her cousin, Dick Kearney, and even led him on
to little displays of attention; but Dick held aloof, as though not knowing
the meaning of this favourable turn towards him. He would not be cheated by
coquetry. How many men are of this temper, and who never understand that it
is by surrendering ourselves to numberless little voluntary deceptions of
this sort, we arrive at intimacies the most real and most truthful.
She next tried Gorman, and here her success was complete. All those womanly
prettinesses, which are so many modes of displaying graceful attraction of
voice, look, gesture, or attitude, were especially dear to him. Not only
they gave beauty its chief charm, but they constituted a sort of game,
whose address was quickness of eye, readiness of perception, prompt reply,
and that refined tact that can follow out one thought in a conversation
just as you follow a melody through a mass of variations.
Perhaps the young soldier did not yield himself the less readily to these
captivations that Kate Kearney's manner towards him was studiously cold and
'The other girl is more like the old friend,' muttered he, as he chatted on
with her about Rome, and Florence, and Venice, imperceptibly gliding into
the language which the names of places suggested.
'If any had told me that I ever could have talked thus freely and openly
with an Austrian soldier, I'd not have believed him,' said she at length,
'for all my sympathies in Italy were with the National party.'
[Illustration: He knelt down on one knee before her]
'But we were not the "Barbari" in your recollection, mademoiselle,' said
he. 'We were out of Italy before you could have any feeling for either
'The tradition of all your cruelties has survived you, and I am sure, if
you were wearing your white coat still, I'd hate you.'
'You are giving me another reason to ask for a longer leave of absence,'
said he, bowing courteously.
'And this leave of yours--how long does it last?'
'I am afraid to own to myself. Wednesday fortnight is the end of it; that
is, it gives me four days after that to reach Vienna.'
'And presenting yourself in humble guise before your colonel, to say, "_Ich
melde mich gehorsamst_."'
'Not exactly that--but something like it.'
'I'll be the Herr Oberst Lieutenant,' said she, laughing; 'so come forward
now and clap your heels together, and let us hear how you utter your few
syllables in true abject fashion. I'll sit here, and receive you.' As she
spoke, she threw herself into an arm-chair, and assuming a look of intense
hauteur and defiance, affected to stroke an imaginary moustache with one
hand, while with the other she waved a haughty gesture of welcome.
'I have outstayed my leave,' muttered Gorman, in a tremulous tone. 'I hope
my colonel, with that bland mercy which characterises him, will forgive my
fault, and let me ask his pardon.' And with this, he knelt down on one knee
before her, and kissed her hand.
'What liberties are these, sir?' cried she, so angrily, that it was not
easy to say whether the anger was not real.
'It is the latest rule introduced into our service,' said he, with mock
'Is that a comedy they are acting yonder,' said Walpole, 'or is it a
'Whatever the drama,' replied Kate coldly, 'I don't think they want a
'You may go back to your duty, Herr Lieutenant,' said Nina proudly, and
with a significant glance towards Kate. 'Indeed, I suspect you have been
rather neglecting it of late.' And with this she sailed majestically away
towards the end of the room.
'I wish I could provoke even that much of jealousy from the other,'
muttered Gorman to himself, as he bit his lip in passion. And certainly, if
a look and manner of calm unconcern meant anything, there was little that
seemed less likely.
'I am glad you are going to the piano, Nina,' said Kate. 'Mr. Walpole has
been asking me by what artifice you could be induced to sing something of
'I am going to sing an Irish ballad for that Austrian patriot, who, like
his national poet, thinks "Ireland a beautiful country to live out of."'
Though a haughty toss of her head accompanied these words, there was a
glance in her eye towards Gorman that plainly invited a renewal of their
'When I left it, _you_ had not been here,' said he, with an obsequious
tone, and an air of deference only too marked in its courtesy.
A slight, very faint blush on her cheek showed that she rather resented
than accepted the flattery, but she appeared to be occupied in looking
through the music-books, and made no rejoinder.
'We want Mendelssohn, Nina,' said Kate.
'Or at least Spohr,' added Walpole.
'I never accept dictation about what I sing,' muttered Nina, only loud
enough to be overheard by Gorman. 'People don't tell you what theme you are
to talk on; they don't presume to say, "Be serious or be witty." They don't
tell you to come to the aid of their sluggish natures by passion, or to
dispel their dreariness by flights of fancy; and why are they to dare all
this to _us_ who speak through song?'
'Just because you alone can do these things,' said Gorman, in the same low
voice as she had spoken in.
'Can I help you in your search, dearest?' said Kate, coming over to the
'Might I hope to be of use?' asked Walpole.
'Mr. O'Shea wants me to sing something for _him_,' said Nina coldly. 'What
is it to be?' asked she of Gorman. With the readiness of one who could
respond to any sudden call upon his tact, Gorman at once took up a piece
of music from the mass before him, and said, 'Here is what I have been
searching for.' It was a little Neapolitan ballad, of no peculiar beauty,
but one of those simple melodies in which the rapid transition from deep
feeling to a wild, almost reckless, gaiety imparts all the character.
'Yes, I'll sing that,' said Nina; and almost in the same breath the notes
came floating through the air, slow and sad at first, as though labouring
under some heavy sorrow; the very syllables faltered on her lips like a
grief struggling for utterance--when, just as a thrilling cadence died
slowly away, she burst forth into the wildest and merriest strain,
something so impetuous in gaiety, that the singer seemed to lose all
control of expression, and floated away in sound with every caprice of
enraptured imagination. When in the very whirlwind of this impetuous
gladness, as though a memory of a terrible sorrow had suddenly crossed her,
she ceased; then, in tones of actual agony, her voice rose to a cry of such
utter misery as despair alone could utter. The sounds died slowly away as
though lingeringly. Two bold chords followed, and she was silent.
None spoke in the room. Was this real passion, or was it the mere
exhibition of an accomplished artist, who could call up expression at
will, as easily as a painter could heighten colour? Kate Kearney evidently
believed the former, as her heaving chest and her tremulous lip betrayed,
while the cold, simpering smile on Walpole's face, and the 'brava,
bravissima' in which he broke the silence, vouched how he had interpreted
that show of emotion.
'If that is singing, I wonder what is crying,' cried old Kearney, while he
wiped his eyes, very angry at his own weakness.' And now will any one tell
me what it was all about?'
'A young girl, sir,' replied Gorman, 'who, by a great effort, has rallied
herself to dispel her sorrow and be merry, suddenly remembers that her
sweetheart may not love her, and the more she dwells on the thought, the
more firmly she believes it. That was the cry, "He never loved me," that
went to all our hearts.'
'Faith, then, if Nina has to say that,' said the old man, 'Heaven help the
'Indeed, uncle, you are more gallant than all these young gentlemen,' said
Nina, rising and approaching him.
'Why they are not all at your feet this moment is more than I can tell.
They're always telling me the world is changed, and I begin to see it now.'
'I suspect, sir, it's pretty much what it used to be,' lisped out Walpole.
'We are only less demonstrative than our fathers.'
'Just as I am less extravagant than mine,' cried Kilgobbin, 'because I have
not got it to spend.'
'I hope Mademoiselle Nina judges us more mercifully,' said Walpole.
'Is that song a favourite of yours?' asked she of Gorman, without noticing
Walpole's remark in any way.
'No,' said he bluntly; 'it makes me feel like a fool, and, I am afraid,
look like one too, when I hear it.'
'I'm glad there's even that much blood in you,' cried old Kearney, who had
caught the words. 'Oh dear! oh dear! England need never be afraid of the
'That seems to be a very painful thought to you, sir,' said Walpole.
'And so it is,' replied he. 'The lower we bend, the more you'll lay on us.
It was your language, and what you call your civilisation, broke us down
first, and the little spirit that fought against either is fast dying out
'Do you want Mr. Walpole to become a Fenian, papa?' asked Kate.
'You see, they took him for one to-day,' broke in Dick, 'when they came and
carried off all his luggage.'
'By the way,' interposed Walpole, 'we must take care that that stupid
blunder does not get into the local papers, or we shall have it circulated
by the London press.'
'I have already thought of that,' said Dick, 'and I shall go into Moate
to-morrow and see about it.'
'Does that mean to say that you desert croquet?' said Nina imperiously.
'You have got Lieutenant O'Shea in my place, and a better player than me
'I fear I must take my leave to-morrow,' said Gorman, with a touch of real
sorrow, for in secret he knew not whither he was going.
'Would your aunt not spare you to us for a few days?' said the old man. 'I
am in no favour with her just now, but she would scarcely refuse what we
would all deem a great favour.'
'My aunt would not think the sacrifice too much for her,' said Gorman,
trying to laugh at the conceit.
'You shall stay,' murmured Nina, in a tone only audible to him; and by a
slight bow he acknowledged the words as a command.
'I believe my best way,' said Gorman gaily, 'will be to outstay my leave,
and take my punishment, whatever it be, when I go back again.'
'That is military morality,' said Walpole, in a half-whisper to Kate, but
to be overheard by Nina. 'We poor civilians don't understand how to keep a
debtor and creditor account with conscience.'
'Could you manage to provoke that man to quarrel with you?' said Nina
secretly to Gorman, while her eyes glanced towards Walpole.
'I think I might; but what then? _He_ wouldn't fight, and the rest of
England would shun me.'
'That is true,' said she slowly. 'When any is injured here, he tries to
make money out of it. I don't suppose you want money?'
'Not earned in that fashion, certainly. But I think they are saying
'They're always boasting about the man that found out the safety-lamp,'
said old Kearney, as he moved away; 'but give me the fellow that invented a
When Gorman reached his room, into which a rich flood of moonlight was
streaming, he extinguished his candle, and, seating himself at the open
window, lighted his cigar, seriously believing he was going to reflect on
his present condition, and forecast something of the future. Though he
had spoken so cavalierly of outstaying his time, and accepting arrest
afterwards, the jest was by no means so palatable now that he was alone,
and could own to himself that the leave he possessed was the unlimited
liberty to be houseless and a vagabond, to have none to claim, no roof to
His aunt's law-agent, the same Mr. McKeown who acted for Lord Kilgobbin,
had once told Gorman that all the King's County property of the O'Sheas was
entailed upon him, and that his aunt had no power to alienate it. It is
true the old lady disputed this position, and so strongly resented even
allusion to it, that, for the sake of inheriting that twelve thousand
pounds she possessed in Dutch stock, McKeown warned Gorman to avoid
anything that might imply his being aware of this fact.
Whether a general distrust of all legal people and their assertions was the
reason, or whether mere abstention from the topic had impaired the force of
its truth, or whether--more likely than either--he would not suffer himself
to question the intentions of one to whom he owed so much, certain is it
young O'Shea almost felt as much averse to the belief as the old lady
herself, and resented the thought of its being true, as of something that
would detract from the spirit of the affection she had always borne him,
and that he repaid by a love as faithful.
'No, no. Confound it!' he would say to himself. 'Aunt Betty loves me, and
money has no share in the affection I bear her. If she knew I must be her
heir, she'd say so frankly and freely. She'd scorn the notion of doling out
to me as benevolence what one day would be my own by right. She is proud
and intolerant enough, but she is seldom unjust--never so willingly and
consciously. If, then, she has not said O'Shea's Barn must be mine some
time, it is because she knows well it cannot be true. Besides, this very
last step of hers, this haughty dismissal of me from her house, implies the
possession of a power which she would not dare to exercise if she were but
a life-tenant of the property. Last of all, had she speculated ever so
remotely on my being the proprietor of Irish landed property, it was most
unlikely she would so strenuously have encouraged me to pursue my career
as an Austrian soldier, and turn all my thoughts to my prospects under the
In fact, she never lost the opportunity of reminding him how unfit he was
to live in Ireland or amongst Irishmen.
Such reflections as I have briefly hinted at here took him some time to
arrive at, for his thoughts did not come freely, or rapidly make place for
others. The sum of them, however, was that he was thrown upon the world,
and just at the very threshold of life, and when it held out its more
There is something peculiarly galling to the man who is wincing under the
pang of poverty to find that the world regards him as rich and well off,
and totally beyond the accidents of fortune. It is not simply that he feels
how his every action will be misinterpreted and mistaken, and a spirit of
thrift, if not actual shabbiness, ascribed to all that he does, but he also
regards himself as a sort of imposition or sham, who has gained access to a
place he has no right to occupy, and to associate on terms of equality with
men of tastes and habits and ambitions totally above his own. It was in
this spirit he remembered Nina's chance expression, 'I don't suppose _you_
want money!' There could be no other meaning in the phrase than some
foregone conclusion about his being a man of fortune. Of course she
acquired this notion from those around her. As a stranger to Ireland,
all she knew, or thought she knew, had been conveyed by others. 'I don't
suppose _you_ want money' was another way of saying, 'You are your aunt's
heir. You are the future owner of the O'Shea estates. No vast property, it
is true; but quite enough to maintain the position of a gentleman.'
'Who knows how much of this Lord Kilgobbin or his son Dick believed?'
thought he. 'But certainly my old playfellow Kate has no faith in the
matter, or if she have, it has little weight with her in her estimate of
'It was in this very room I was lodged something like five years ago. It
was at this very window I used to sit at night, weaving Heaven knows what
dreams of a future. I was very much in love in those days, and a very
honest and loyal love it was. I wanted to be very great, and very gallant,
and distinguished, and above all, very rich; but only for _her_, only that
_she_ might be surrounded with every taste and luxury that became her,
and that she should share them with me. I knew well she was better than
me--better in every way: not only purer, and simpler, and more gentle, but
more patient, more enduring, more tenacious of what was true, and more
decidedly the enemy of what was merely expedient. Then, was she not
proud? not with the pride of birth or station, or of an old name and a
time-honoured house, but proud that whatever she did or said amongst the
tenantry or the neighbours, none ever ventured to question or even qualify
the intention that suggested it. The utter impossibility of ascribing a
double motive to her, or of imagining any object in what she counselled but
the avowed one, gave her a pride that accompanied her through every hour of
'Last of all, she believed in _me_--believed I was going to be one day
something very famous and distinguished: a gallant soldier, whose very
presence gave courage to the men who followed him, and with a name repeated
in honour over Europe. The day was too short for these fancies, for they
grew actually as we fed them, and the wildest flight of imagination led us
on to the end of the time when there would be but one hope, one ambition,
and one heart between us.
'I am convinced that had any one at that time hinted to her that I was to
inherit the O'Shea estates, he would have dealt a most dangerous blow to
her affection for me. The romance of that unknown future had a great share
in our compact. And then we were so serious about it all--the very gravity
it impressed being an ecstasy to our young hearts in the thought of
self-importance and responsibility. Nor were we without our little
tiffs--those lovers' quarrels that reveal what a terrible civil war can
rage within the heart that rebels against itself. I know the very spot
where we quarrelled; I could point to the miles of way we walked side by
side without a word; and oh! was it not on that very bed I have passed the
night sobbing till I thought my heart would break, all because I had not
fallen at her feet and begged her forgiveness ere we parted? Not that she
was without her self-accusings too; for I remember one way in which she
expressed sorrow for having done me wrong was to send me a shower of
rose-leaves from her little terraced garden; and as they fell in shoals
across my window, what a balm and bliss they shed over my heart! Would I
not give every hope I have to bring it all back again? to live it over once
more--to lie at her feet in the grass, affecting to read to her, but
really watching her long black lashes as they rested on her cheek, or that
quivering lip as it trembled with emotion. How I used to detest that work
which employed the blue-veined hand I loved to hold within my own, kissing
it at every pause in the reading, or whenever I could pretext a reason to
question her! And now, here I am in the self-same place, amidst the same
scenes and objects. Nothing changed but _herself_! She, however, will
remember nothing of the past, or if she does, it is with repugnance and
regret; her manner to me is a sort of cold defiance, not to dare to revive
our old intimacy, nor to fancy that I can take up our acquaintanceship from
the past. I almost fancied she looked resentfully at the Greek girl for the
freedom to which she admitted me--not but there was in the other's coquetry
the very stamp of that levity other women are so ready to take offence at;
in fact, it constitutes amongst women exactly the same sort of outrage, the
same breach of honour and loyalty, as cheating at play does amongst men,
and the offenders are as much socially outlawed in one case as in the
other. I wonder, am I what is called falling in love with the Greek--that
is, I wonder, have the charms of her astonishing beauty and the grace of
her manner, and the thousand seductions of her voice, her gestures, and
her walk, above all, so captivated me that I do not want to go back on the
past, and may hope soon to repay Miss Kate Kearney by an indifference the
equal of her own? I don't think so. Indeed, I feel that even when Nina
was interesting me most, I was stealing secret glances towards Kate, and
cursing that fellow Walpole for the way he was engaging her attention.
Little the Greek suspected, when she asked if "I could not fix a quarrel on
him," with what a motive it was that my heart jumped at the suggestion! He
is so studiously ceremonious and distant with me; he seems to think I am
not one of those to be admitted to closer intimacy. I know that English
theory of "the unsafe man," by which people of unquestionable courage avoid
contact with all schooled to other ways and habits than their own. I hate
it. "I am unsafe," to his thinking. Well, if having no reason to care for
safety be sufficient, he is not far wrong. Dick Kearney, too, is not very
cordial. He scarcely seconded his father's invitation to me, and what he
did say was merely what courtesy obliged. So that in reality, though the
old lord was hearty and good-natured, I believe I am here now because
Mademoiselle Nina commanded me, rather than from any other reason. If
this be true, it is, to say the least, a sorry compliment to my sense
of delicacy. Her words were, "You shall stay," and it is upon this I am
As though the air of the room grew more hard to breathe with this thought
before him, he arose and leaned half-way out of the window.
As he did so, his ear caught the sound of voices. It was Kate and Nina, who
were talking on the terrace above his head.
'I declare, Nina,' said Kate, 'you have stripped every leaf off my poor
ivy-geranium; there's nothing left of it but bare branches.'
'There goes the last handful,' said the other, as she threw them over the
parapet, some falling on Gorman as he leaned out. 'It was a bad habit I
learned from yourself, child. I remember when I came here, you used to do
this each night, like a religious rite.'
'I suppose they were the dried or withered leaves that I threw away,' said
Kate, with a half-irritation in her voice.
'No, they were not. They were oftentimes from your prettiest roses, and
as I watched you, I saw it was in no distraction or inadvertence you were
doing this, for you were generally silent and thoughtful some time before,
and there was even an air of sadness about you, as though a painful thought
was bringing its gloomy memories.'
'What an object of interest I have been to you without suspecting it,' said
'It is true,' said the other, in the same tone; 'they who make few
confidences suggest much ingenuity. If you had a meaning in this act and
told me what it was, it is more than likely I had forgotten all about it
ere now. You preferred secrecy, and you made me curious.'
'There was nothing to reward curiosity,' said she, in the same measured
tone; then, after a moment, she added, 'I'm sure I never sought to ascribe
some hidden motive to _you_. When _you_ left my plants leafless, I was
quite content to believe that you were mischievous without knowing it.'
'I read you differently,' said Nina. 'When _you_ do mischief you mean
mischief. Now I became so--so--what shall I call it, _intriguee_ about this
little "fetish" of yours, that I remember well the night you first left off
and never resumed it.'
'And when was that?' asked Kate carelessly.
'On a certain Friday, the night Miss O'Shea dined here last; was it not a
'Fridays, we fancy, are unlucky days,' said Kate, in a voice of easy
'I wonder which are the lucky ones?' said Nina, sighing. 'They are
certainly not put down in the Irish almanac. By the way, is not this a
'Mr. O'Shea will not call it amongst his unlucky days,' said Kate
'I almost think I like your Austrian,' said the other.
'Only don't call him _my_ Austrian.'
'Well, he was yours till you threw him off. No, don't be angry: I am only
talking in that careless slang we all use when we mean nothing, just as
people employ counters instead of money at cards; but I like him: he has
that easy flippancy in talk that asks for no effort to follow, and he says
his little nothings nicely, and he is not too eager as to great ones, or
too energetic, which you all are here. I like him.'
'I fancied you liked the eager and enthusiastic people, and that you felt a
warm interest in Donogan's fate.'
'Yes, I do hope they'll not catch him. It would be too horrid to think of
any one we had known being hanged! And then, poor fellow, he was very much
'Poor fellow!' sighed out Kate.
'Not but it was the only gleam of sunlight in his existence; he could go
away and fancy that, with Heaven knows what chances of fortune, he might
have won me.'
'Poor fellow!' cried Kate, more sorrowfully than before.
'No, far from it, but very "happy fellow" if he could feed his heart with
such a delusion.'
'And you think it fair to let him have this delusion?'
'Of course I do. I'd no more rob him of it than I'd snatch a life-buoy from
a drowning man. Do you fancy, child, that the swimmer will always go about
with the corks that have saved his life?'
'These mock analogies are sorry arguments,' said Kate.
'Tell me, does your Austrian sing? I see he understands music, but I hope
he can sing.'
'I can tell you next to nothing of my Austrian--if he must be called so. It
is five years since we met, and all I know is how little like he seems to
what he once was.'
'I'm sure he is vastly improved: a hundred times better mannered; with more
ease, more quickness, and more readiness in conversation. I like him.'
'I trust he'll find out his great good-fortune--that is, if it be not a
For a few seconds there was a silence--a silence so complete that Gorman
could hear the rustle of a dress as Nina moved from her place, and seated
herself on the battlement of the terrace. He then could catch the low
murmuring sounds of her voice, as she hummed an air to herself, and at
length traced it to be the song she had sung that same evening in the
drawing-room. The notes came gradually more and more distinct, the tones
swelled out into greater fulness, and at last, with one long-sustained
cadence of thrilling passion, she cried, '_Non mi amava--non mi amava!_'
with an expression of heart-breaking sorrow, the last syllables seeming to
linger on the lips as if a hope was deserting them for ever. '_Oh, non mi
amava!_' cried she, and her voice trembled as though the avowal of her
despair was the last effort of her strength. Slowly and faintly the sounds
died away, while Gorman, leaning out to the utmost to catch the dying
notes, strained his hearing to drink them in. All was still, and then
suddenly, with a wild roulade that sounded at first like the passage of
a musical scale, she burst out into a fit of laughter, crying '_Non mi
amava,_' through the sounds, in a half-frantic mockery. '_No, no, non mi
amava,_' laughed she out, as she walked back into the room. The window was
now closed with a heavy bang, and all was silent in the house.
'And these are the affections we break our hearts for!' cried Gorman, as he
threw himself on his bed, and covered his face with both his hands.
THE HEAD CONSTABLE
The Inspector, or, to use the irreverent designation of the neighbourhood,
the Head Peeler, who had carried away Walpole's luggage and papers, no
sooner discovered the grave mistake he had committed, than he hastened to
restore them, and was waiting personally at Kilgobbin Castle to apologise
for the blunder, long before any of the family had come downstairs. His
indiscretion might cost him his place, and Captain Curtis, who had to
maintain a wife and family, three saddle-horses, and a green uniform with
more gold on it than a field-marshal's, felt duly anxious and uneasy for
what he had done.
'Who is that gone down the road?' asked he, as he stood at the window,
while a woman was setting the room in order.
'Sure it's Miss Kate taking the dogs out. Isn't she always the first up of
a morning?' Though the captain had little personal acquaintance with Miss
Kearney, he knew her well by reputation, and knew therefore that he might
safely approach her to ask a favour. He overtook her at once, and in a few
words made known the difficulty in which he found himself.
'Is it not after all a mere passing mistake, which once apologised for is
forgotten altogether?' asked she. 'Mr. Walpole is surely not a person to
bear any malice for such an incident?'
'I don't know that, Miss Kearney,' said he doubtingly. 'His papers have
been thoroughly ransacked, and old Mr. Flood, the Tory magistrate, has
taken copies of several letters and documents, all of course under the
impression that they formed part of a treasonable correspondence.'
'Was it not very evident that the papers could not have belonged to a
Fenian leader? Was not any mistake in the matter easily avoided?'
[Illustration: Nina came forward at that moment]
'Not at once, because there was first of all a sort of account of the
insurrectionary movement here, with a number of queries, such as, "Who is
M----?" "Are F. Y---- and McCausland the same person?" "What connection
exists between the Meath outrages and the late events in Tipperary?"
"How is B---- to explain his conduct sufficiently to be retained in the
Commission of the Peace?" In a word, Miss Kearney, all the troublesome
details by which a Ministry have to keep their own supporters in decent
order, are here hinted at, if not more, and it lies with a batch of red-hot
Tories to make a terrible scandal out of this affair.'
'It is graver than I suspected,' said she thoughtfully.
'And I may lose my place,' muttered Curtis, 'unless, indeed, you would
condescend to say a word for me to Mr. Walpole.'
'Willingly, if it were of any use, but I think my cousin, Mademoiselle
Kostalergi, would be likelier of success, and here she comes.'
Nina came forward at that moment, with that indolent grace of movement with
which she swept the greensward of the lawn as though it were the carpet of
a saloon. With a brief introduction of Mr. Curtis, her cousin Kate, in a
few words, conveyed the embarrassment of his present position, and his hope
that a kindly intercession might avert his danger.
'What droll people you must be not to find out that the letters of a
Viceroy's secretary could not be the correspondence of a rebel leader,'
said Nina superciliously.
'I have already told Miss Kearney how that fell out,' said he; 'and I
assure you there was enough in those papers to mystify better and clearer
'But you read the addresses, and saw how the letters began, "My dear Mr.
Walpole," or "Dear Walpole"?'
'And thought they had been purloined. Have I not found "Dear Clarendon"
often enough in the same packet with cross-bones and a coffin.'
'What a country!' said Nina, with a sigh.
'Very like Greece, I suppose,' said Kate tartly; then, suddenly, 'Will you
undertake to make this gentleman's peace with Mr. Walpole, and show how the
whole was a piece of ill-directed zeal?'
'Well, indiscreet, if you like it better.'
'And you fancied, then, that all the fine linen and purple you carried away
were the properties of a head-centre?'
'We thought so.'
'And the silver objects of the dressing-table, and the ivory inlaid with
gold, and the trifles studded with turquoise?'
'They might have been Donogan's. Do you know, mademoiselle, that this same
Donogan was a man of fortune, and in all the society of the first men at
Oxford when--a mere boy at the time--he became a rebel?'
'How nice of him! What a fine fellow!'
'I'd say what a fool!' continued Curtis. 'He had no need to risk his neck
to achieve a station, the thing was done for him. He had a good house and a
good estate in Kilkenny; I have caught salmon in the river that washes the
foot of his lawn.'
'And what has become of it; does he still own it?'
'Not an acre--not a rood of it; sold every square yard of it to throw
the money into the Fenian treasury. Rifled artillery, Colt's revolvers,
Remington's, and Parrot guns have walked off with the broad acres.'
'Fine fellow--a fine fellow!' cried Nina enthusiastically.
'That fine fellow has done a deal of mischief,' said Kate thoughtfully.
'He has escaped, has he not?' asked Nina.
'We hope not--that is, we know that he is about to sail for St. John's by
a clipper now in Belfast, and we shall have a fast steam-corvette ready to
catch her in the Channel. He'll be under Yankee colours, it is true, and
claim an American citizenship; but we must run risks sometimes, and this is
one of those times.'
'But you know where he is now? Why not apprehend him on shore?'
'The very thing we do not know, mademoiselle. I'd rather be sure of it
than have five thousand pounds in my hand. Some say he is here, in the
neighbourhood; some that he is gone south; others declare that he has
reached Liverpool. All we really do know is about the ship that he means to
sail in, and on which the second mate has informed us.'
'And all your boasted activity is at fault,' said she insolently, 'when you
have to own you cannot track him.'
'Nor is it so easy, mademoiselle, where a whole population befriend and
feel for him.'
'And if they do, with what face can you persecute what has the entire
sympathy of a nation?'
'Don't provoke answers which are sure not to satisfy you, and which you
could but half comprehend; but tell Mr. Curtis you will use your influence
to make Mr. Walpole forget this mishap.'
'But I do want to go to the bottom of this question. I will insist on
learning why people rebel here.'
'In that case, I'll go home to breakfast, and I'll be quite satisfied if I
see you at luncheon,' said Kate.
'Do, pray, Mr. Curtis, tell me all about it. Why do some people shoot the
others who are just as much Irish as themselves? Why do hungry people kill
the cattle and never eat them? And why don't the English go away and leave
a country where nobody likes them? If there be a reason for these things,
let me hear it.'
'Bye-bye,' said Kate, waving her hand, as she turned away.
'You are so ungenerous,' cried Nina, hurrying after her; 'I am a stranger,
and would naturally like to learn all that I could of the country and the
people; here is a gentleman full of the very knowledge I am seeking. He
knows all about these terrible Fenians. What will they do with Donogan if
they take him?'
'Transport him for life; they'll not hang him, I think.'
'That's worse than hanging. I mean--that is--Miss Kearney would rather
they'd hang him.'
'I have not said so,' replied Kate, 'and I don't suspect I think so,
'Well,' said Nina, after a pause, 'let us go back to breakfast. You'll see
Mr. Walpole--he's sure to be down by that time; and I'll tell him what you
wish is, that he must not think any more of the incident; that it was a
piece of official stupidity, done, of course, out of the best motives; and
that if he should cut a ridiculous figure at the end, he has only himself
to blame for the worse than ambiguity of his private papers.'
'I do not know that I 'd exactly say that,' said Kate, who felt some
difficulty in not laughing at the horror-struck expression of Mr. Curtis's
'Well, then, I'll say--this was what I wished to tell you, but my cousin
Kate interposed and suggested that a little adroit flattery of you, and
some small coquetries that might make you believe you were charming, would
be the readiest mode to make you forget anything disagreeable, and she
would charge herself with the task.'
'Do so,' said Kate calmly; 'and let us now go back to breakfast.'
That which the English irreverently call 'chaff' enters largely as an
element into Irish life; and when Walpole stigmatised the habit to Joe
Atlee as essentially that of the smaller island, he was not far wrong. I
will not say that it is a high order of wit--very elegant, or very refined;
but it is a strong incentive to good-humour--a vent to good spirits; and
being a weapon which every Irishman can wield in some fashion or other,
establishes that sort of joust which prevailed in the melee tournaments,
and where each tilted with whom he pleased.
Any one who has witnessed the progress of an Irish trial, even when the
crime was of the very gravest, cannot fail to have been struck by the
continual clash of smart remark and smarter rejoinder between the Bench
and the Bar; showing how men feel the necessity of ready-wittedness, and a
promptitude to repel attack, in which even the prisoner in the dock takes
his share, and cuts his joke at the most critical moment of his existence.
The Irish theatre always exhibits traits of this national taste; but a
dinner-party, with its due infusion of barristers, is the best possible
exemplification of this give and take, which, even if it had no higher
merit, is a powerful ally of good-humour, and the sworn foe to everything
like over-irritability or morbid self-esteem. Indeed, I could not wish a
very conceited man, of a somewhat grave temperament and distant demeanour,
a much heavier punishment than a course of Irish dinner-parties; for even
though he should come out scathless himself, the outrages to his sense
of propriety, and the insults to his ideas of taste, would be a severe
That breakfast-table at Kilgobbin had some heavy hearts around the board.
There was not, with the exception of Walpole, one there who had not, in the
doubts that beset his future, grave cause for anxiety; and yet to look at,
still more to listen to them, you would have said that Walpole alone had
any load of care upon his heart, and that the others were a light-hearted,
happy set of people, with whom the world went always well. No cloud!--not
even a shadow to darken the road before them. Of this levity, for I suppose
I must give it a hard name--the source of much that is best and worst
amongst us--our English rulers take no account, and are often as ready to
charge us with a conviction, which was no more than a caprice, as they are
to nail us down to some determination, which was simply a drollery; and
until some intelligent traveller does for us what I lately perceived a
clever tourist did for the Japanese, in explaining their modes of thought,
impulses, and passions to the English, I despair of our being better known
in Downing Street than we now are.
Captain Curtis--for it is right to give him his rank--was fearfully nervous
and uneasy, and though he tried to eat his breakfast with an air of
unconcern and carelessness, he broke his egg with a tremulous hand, and
listened with painful eagerness every time Walpole spoke.
'I wish somebody would send us the _Standard_; when it is known that the
Lord-Lieutenant's secretary has turned Fenian,' said Kilgobbin, 'won't
there be a grand Tory out-cry over the unprincipled Whigs?'
'The papers need know nothing whatever of the incident,' interposed Curtis
anxiously, 'if old Flood is not busy enough to inform them.'
'Who is old Flood?' asked Walpole.
'A Tory J.P., who has copied out a considerable share of your
correspondence,' said Kilgobbin.
'And four letters in a lady's hand,' added Dick, 'that he imagines to be a
treasonable correspondence by symbol.'
'I hope Mr. Walpole,' said Kate, 'will rather accept felony to the law than
falsehood to the lady.'
'You don't mean to say--' began Walpole angrily; then correcting his
irritable manner, he added, 'Am I to suppose my letters have been read?'
'Well, roughly looked through,' said Curtis. 'Just a glance here and there
to catch what they meant.'
'Which I must say was quite unnecessary,' said Walpole haughtily.
'It was a sort of journal of yours,' blundered out Curtis, who had a most
unhappy knack of committing himself, 'that they opened first, and they saw
an entry with Kilgobbin Castle at the top of it, and the date last July.'
'There was nothing political in that, I'm sure,' said Walpole.
'No, not exactly, but a trifle rebellious, all the same; the words, "We
this evening learned a Fenian song, 'The time to begin,' and rather suspect
it is time to leave off; the Greek better-looking than ever, and more
Curtis's last words were drowned in the laugh that now shook the table;
indeed, except Walpole and Nina herself, they actually roared with
laughter, which burst out afresh, as Curtis, in his innocence, said, 'We
could not make out about the Greek, but we hoped we'd find out later on.'
'And I fervently trust you did,' said Kilgobbin.
'I'm afraid not; there was something about somebody called Joe, that the
Greek wouldn't have him, or disliked him, or snubbed him--indeed, I forget
'You are quite right, sir, to distrust your memory,' said Walpole; 'it has
betrayed you most egregiously already.'
'On the contrary,' burst in Kilgobbin, 'I am delighted with this proof of
the captain's acuteness; tell us something more, Curtis.'
'There was then, "From the upper castle yard, Maude," whoever Maude is,
"says, 'Deny it all, and say you never were there,' not so easy as she
thinks, with a broken right arm, and a heart not quite so whole as it ought
'There, sir--with the permission of my friends here--I will ask you to
conclude your reminiscences of my private papers, which can have no
possible interest for any one but myself.'
'Quite wrong in that,' cried Kilgobbin, wiping his eyes, which had run over
with laughter. 'There's nothing I'd like so much as to hear more of them.'
'What was that about his heart?' whispered Curtis to Kate; 'was he wounded
in the side also?'
'I believe so,' said she dryly; 'but I believe he has got quite over it by
'Will you say a word or two about me, Miss Kearney?' whispered he again;
'I'm not sure I improved my case by talking so freely; but as I saw you all
so outspoken, I thought I'd fall into your ways.'
'Captain Curtis is much concerned for any fault he may have committed in
this unhappy business,' said Kate, 'and he trusts that the agitation and
excitement of the Donogan escape will excuse him.'
'That's your policy now,' interposed Kilgobbin. 'Catch the Fenian fellow,
and nobody will remember the other incident.'
'We mean to give out that we know he has got clear away to America,' said
Curtis, with an air of intense cunning. 'And to lull his suspicions, we
have notices in print to say that no further rewards are to be given for
his apprehension; so that he'll get a false confidence, and move about as
'With such acuteness as yours on his trail, his arrest is certain,' said
'Well, I hope so, too,' said Curtis, in good faith for the compliment.'
Didn't I take up nine men for the search of arms here, though there were
only five? One of them turned evidence,' added he gravely;' he was the
fellow that swore Miss Kearney stood between you and the fire after they
'You are determined to make Mr. Walpole your friend,' whispered Nina in his
ear; 'don't you see, sir, that you are ruining yourself?'
'I have often been puzzled to explain how it was that crime went unpunished
in Ireland,' said Walpole sententiously.
'And you know now?' asked Curtis.
'Yes; in a great measure, you have supplied me with the information.'
'I believe it's all right now,' muttered the captain to Kate. 'If the swell
owns that I have put him up to a thing or two, he'll not throw me over.'
'Would you give me three minutes of your time?' whispered Gorman O'Shea to
Lord Kilgobbin, as they arose from table.
'Half an hour, my boy, or more if you want it. Come along with me now into
my study, and we'll be safe there from all interruption.'
'So then you're in a hobble with your aunt,' said Mr. Kearney, as he
believed he had summed up the meaning of a very blundering explanation by
Gorman O'Shea; 'isn't that it?'
'Yes, sir; I suppose it comes to that.'
'The old story, I've no doubt, if we only knew it--as old as the
Patriarchs: the young ones go into debt, and think it very hard that the
elders dislike the paying it.'
'No, no; I have no debts--at least, none to speak of.'
'It's a woman, then? Have you gone and married some good-looking girl, with
no fortune and less family? Who is she?'
'Not even that, sir,' said he, half impatient at seeing how little
attention had been bestowed on his narrative.
''Tis bad enough, no doubt,' continued the old man, still in pursuit of his
own reflections; 'not but there's scores of things worse; for if a man is a
good fellow at heart, he'll treat the woman all the better for what she has
cost him. That is one of the good sides of selfishness; and when you have
lived as long as me, Gorman, you'll find out how often there's something
good to be squeezed out of a bad quality, just as though it were a bit of
our nature that was depraved, but not gone to the devil entirely.'
'There is no woman in the case here, sir,' said O'Shea bluntly, for these
speculations only irritated him.
'Ho, ho! I have it, then,' cried the old man. 'You've been burning your
fingers with rebellion. It's the Fenians have got a hold of you.'
'Nothing of the kind, sir. If you'll just read these two letters. The one
is mine, written on the morning I came here: here is my aunt's. The first
is not word for word as I sent it, but as well as I can remember. At all
events, it will show how little I had provoked the answer. There, that's
the document that came along with my trunks, and I have never heard from
'"Dear Nephew,"' read out the old man, after patiently adjusting his
spectacles--'"O'Shea's Barn is not an inn,"--And more's the pity,' added
he; 'for it would be a model house of entertainment. You'd say any one
could have a sirloin of beef or a saddle of mutton; but where Miss Betty
gets hers is quite beyond me. "Nor are the horses at public livery,"' read
he out. 'I think I may say, if they were, that Kattoo won't be hired out
again to the young man that took her over the fences. "As you seem fond of
warnings,"' continued he, aloud--'Ho, ho! that's at _you_ for coming over
here to tell me about the search-warrant; and she tells you to mind your
own business; and droll enough it is. We always fancy we're saying an
impertinence to a man when we tell him to attend to what concerns him most.
It shows, at least, that we think meddling a luxury. And then she adds,
"Kilgobbin is welcome to you," and I can only say you are welcome to
Kilgobbin--ay, and in her own words--"with such regularity and order as the
meals succeed."--"All the luggage belonging to you," etc., and "I am, very
respectfully, your Aunt." By my conscience, there was no need to sign it!
That was old Miss Betty all the world over!' and he laughed till his eyes
ran over, though the rueful face of young O'Shea was staring at him all the
time. 'Don't look so gloomy, O'Shea,' cried Kearney: 'I have not so good a
cook, nor, I'm sorry to say, so good a cellar, as at the Barn; but there
are young faces, and young voices, and young laughter, and a light step
on the stairs; and if I know anything, or rather, if I remember anything,
these will warm a heart at your age better than '44 claret or the crustiest
port that ever stained a decanter.'
'I am turned out, sir--sent adrift on the world,' said the young man
'And it is not so bad a thing after all, take my word for it, boy. It's a
great advantage now and then to begin life as a vagabond. It takes a deal
of snobbery out of a fellow to lie under a haystack, and there's no better
cure for pretension than a dinner of cold potatoes. Not that I say you
need the treatment--far from it--but our distinguished friend Mr. Walpole
wouldn't be a bit the worse of such an alterative.'
'If I am left without a shilling in the world?'
'Then you must try what you can do on sixpence--the whole thing is how you
begin. I used not to be able to eat my dinner when I did not see the fellow
in a white tie standing before the sideboard, and the two flunkeys in plush
and silk stockings at either side of the table; and when I perceived that
the decanters had taken their departure, and that it was beer I was given
to drink, I felt as if I had dined, and was ready to go out and have a
smoke in the open air; but a little time, even without any patience, but
just time, does it all.'
'Time won't teach a man to live upon nothing.'
'It would be very hard for him if it did; let him begin by having few
wants, and work hard to supply means for them.'
'Work hard! why, sir, if I laboured from daylight to dark, I'd not earn the
wages of the humblest peasant, and I'd not know how to live on it.'
'Well, I have given you all the philosophy in my budget, and to tell you
the truth, Gorman, except so far as coming down in the world in spite of
myself, I know mighty little about the fine precepts I have been giving
you; but this I know, you have a roof over your head here, and you're
heartily welcome to it; and who knows but your aunt may come to terms all
the sooner, because she sees you here?'
'You are very generous to me, and I feel it deeply,' said the young man;
but he was almost choked with the words.
'You have told me already, Gorman, that your aunt gave you no other reason
against coming here than that I had not been to call on you; and I believe
you--believe you thoroughly; but tell me now, with the same frankness, was
there nothing passing in your mind--had you no suspicions or misgivings, or
something of the same kind, to keep you away? Be candid with me now, and
speak it out freely.'
'None, on my honour; I was sorely grieved to be told I must not come, and
thought very often of rebelling, so that indeed, when I did rebel, I was in
a measure prepared for the penalty, though scarcely so heavy as this.'
'Don't take it to heart. It will come right yet--everything comes right
if we give it time--and there's plenty of time to the fellow who is not
five-and-twenty. It's only the old dogs, like myself, who are always doing
their match against time, are in a hobble. To feel that every minute of the
clock is something very like three weeks of the almanac, flurries a man,
when he wants to be cool and collected. Put your hat on a peg, and make
your home here. If you want to be of use, Kitty will show you scores of
things to do about the garden, and we never object to see a brace of snipe
at the end of dinner, though there's nobody cares to shoot them; and the
bog trout--for all their dark colour--are excellent catch, and I know you
can throw a line. All I say is, do something, and something that takes you
into the open air. Don't get to lying about in easy-chairs and reading
novels; don't get to singing duets and philandering about with the girls.
May I never, if I'd not rather find a brandy-flask in your pocket than
'Say it out frankly, Kate,' cried Nina, as with flashing eyes and
heightened colour she paced the drawing-room from end to end, with that
bold sweeping stride which in moments of passion betrayed her. 'Say it out.
I know perfectly what you are hinting at.'
'I never hint,' said the other gravely; 'least of all with those I love.'
'So much the better. I detest an equivoque. If I am to be shot, let me look
the fire in the face.'
'There is no question of shooting at all. I think you are very angry for
'Angry for nothing! Do you call that studied coldness you have
observed towards me all day yesterday nothing? Is your ceremonious
manner--exquisitely polite, I will not deny--is that nothing? Is your
chilling salute when we met--I half believe you curtsied--nothing? That you
shun me, that you take pains not to keep my company, never to be with me
alone is past denial.'
'And I do not deny it,' said Kate, with a voice of calm and quiet meaning.
'At last, then, I have the avowal. You own that you love me no longer.'
'No, I own nothing of the kind: I love you very dearly; but I see that
our ideas of life are so totally unlike, that unless one should bend and
conform to the other, we cannot blend our thoughts in that harmony which
perfect confidence requires. You are so much above me in many things,
so much more cultivated and gifted--I was going to say civilised, and I
believe I might--'
'Ta--ta--ta,' cried Nina impatiently. 'These flatteries are very
'So they would be, if they were flatteries; but if you had patience to hear
me out, you'd have learned that I meant a higher flattery for myself.'
'Don't I know it? don't I guess?' cried the Greek. 'Have not your downcast
eyes told it? and that look of sweet humility that says, "At least I am not
'Nor am I,' said Kate coldly.
'And I am! Come now, do confess. You want to say it.'
'With all my heart I wish you were not!' And Kate's eyes swam as she spoke.
'And what if I tell you that I know it--that in the very employment of
the arts of what you call coquetry, I am but exercising those powers of
pleasing by which men are led to frequent the salon instead of the cafe,
and like the society of the cultivated and refined better than--'
'No, no, no!' burst in Kate. 'There is no such mock principle in the case.
You are a flirt because you like the homage it secures you, and because,
as you do not believe in such a thing as an honest affection, you have no
scruple about trifling with a man's heart.'
'So much for captivating that bold hussar,' cried Nina.
'For the moment I was not thinking of him.'
'Of whom, then?'
'Of that poor Captain Curtis, who has just ridden away.'
'Yes. He has a pretty wife and three nice little girls, and they are
the happiest people in the world. They love each other, and love their
home--so, at least, I am told, for I scarcely know them myself.'
'And what have I done with _him_?'
'Sent him away sad and doubtful--very doubtful if the happiness he believed
in was the real article after all, and disposed to ask himself how it was
that his heart was beating in a new fashion, and that some new sense had
been added to his nature, of which he had no inkling before. Sent him away
with the notes of a melody floating through his brain, so that the merry
laugh of his children will be a discord, and such a memory of a soft
glance, that his wife's bright look will be meaningless.'
'And I have done all this? Poor me!'
'Yes, and done it so often, that it leaves no remorse behind it.'
'And the same, I suppose, with the others?'
'With Mr. Walpole, and Dick, and Mr. O'Shea, and Mr. Atlee too, when he was
here, in their several ways.'
'Oh, in theirs, not in mine, then?'
'I am but a bungler in my explanation. I wished to say that you adapted
your fascinations to the tastes of each.'
'What a siren!'
'Well, yes--what a siren; for they're all in love in some fashion or other;
but I could have forgiven you these, had you spared the married man.'
'So you actually envy that poor prisoner the gleam of light and the breath
of cold air that comes between his prison bars--that one moment of ecstasy
that reminds him how he once was free and at large, and no manacles to
weigh him down? You will not let him even touch bliss in imagination? Are
_you_ not more cruel than _me_?'
'This is mere nonsense,' said Kate boldly. 'You either believe that man was
fooling _you_, or that you have sent him away unhappy? Take which of these
'Can't your rustic nature see that there is a third case, quite different
from both, and that Harry Curtis went off believing--'
'Was he Harry Curtis?' broke in Kate.
'He was dear Harry when I said good-bye,' said Nina calmly.
'Oh, then, I give up everything--I throw up my brief.'
'So you ought, for you have lost your cause long ago.'
'Even that poor Donogan was not spared, and Heaven knows he had troubles
enough on his head to have pleaded some pity for him.'
'And is there no kind word to say of _me_, Kate?'
'O Nina, how ashamed you make me of my violence, when I dare to blame you!
but if I did not love you so dearly, I could better bear you should have a
'I have only one, then?'
'I know of no great one but this. I mean, I know of none that endangers
good-nature and right feeling.'
'And are you so sure that this does? Are you so sure that what you are
faulting is not the manner and the way of a world you have not seen? that
all these levities, as you would call them, are not the ordinary wear of
people whose lives are passed where there is more tolerance and less pain?'
'Be serious, Nina, for a moment, and own that it was by intention you were
in the approach when Captain Curtis rode away: that you said something to
him, or looked something--perhaps both--on which he got down from his horse
and walked beside you for full a mile?'
'All true,' said Nina calmly. 'I confess to every part of it.'
'I'd far rather that you said you were sorry for it.'
'But I am not; I'm very glad--I'm very proud of it.
Yes, look as reproachfully as you like, Kate! "very proud" was what I
'Then I am indeed sorry,' said Kate, growing pale as she spoke.
'I don't think, after all this sharp lecturing of me, that you deserve
much of my confidence, and if I make you any, Kate, it is not by way
of exculpation; for I do not accept your blame; it is simply out of
caprice--mind that, and that I am not thinking of defending myself.'
'I can easily believe that,' said Kate dryly.
And the other continued: 'When Captain Curtis was talking to your father,
and discussing the chances of capturing Donogan, he twice or thrice
mentioned Harper and Fry--names which somehow seemed familiar to me; and
on thinking the matter over when I went to my room, I opened Donogan's
pocket-book and there found how these names had become known to me. Harper
and Fry were tanners, in Cork Street, and theirs was one of the addresses
by which, if I had occasion to warn Donogan, I could write to him. On
hearing these names from Curtis, it struck me that there might be treachery
somewhere. Was it that these men themselves had turned traitors to the
cause? or had another betrayed them? Whichever way the matter went, Donogan
was evidently in great danger; for this was one of the places he regarded
as perfectly safe.
'What was to be done? I dared not ask advice on any side. To reveal the
suspicions which were tormenting me required that I should produce this
pocket-book, and to whom could I impart this man's secret? I thought of
your brother Dick, but he was from home, and even if he had not been, I
doubt if I should have told him. I should have come to you, Kate, but that
grand rebukeful tone you had taken up this last twenty-four hours repelled
me; and finally, I took counsel with myself. I set off just before Captain
Curtis started, to what you have called waylay him in the avenue.
'Just below the beech-copse he came up; and then that small flirtation of
the drawing-room, which has caused you so much anger and me such a sharp
lesson, stood me in good stead, and enabled me to arrest his progress by
some chance word or two, and at last so far to interest him that he got
down and walked along at my side. I shall not shock you by recalling the
little tender "nothings" that passed between us, nor dwell on the small
mockeries of sentiment which we exchanged--I hope very harmlessly--but
proceed at once to what I felt my object. He was profuse of his gratitude
for what I had done for him with Walpole, and firmly believed that my
intercession alone had saved him; and so I went on to say that the best
reparation he could make for his blunder would be some exercise of
well-directed activity when occasion should offer. "Suppose, for instance,"
said I, "you could capture this man Donogan?"
'"The very thing I hope to do," cried he. "The train is laid already. One
of my constables has a brother in a well-known house in Dublin, the members
of which, men of large wealth and good position, have long been suspected
of holding intercourse with the rebels. Through his brother, himself a
Fenian, this man has heard that a secret committee will meet at this place
on Monday evening next, at which Donogan will be present. Molloy,
another head-centre, will also be there, and Cummings, who escaped from
Carrickfergus." I took down all the names, Kate, the moment we parted, and
while they were fresh in my memory. "We'll draw the net on them all," said
he; "and such a haul has not been made since '98. The rewards alone will
amount to some thousands." It was then I said, "And is there no danger,
'Yes, darling, it was very dreadful, and I felt it so; but somehow one is
carried away by a burst of feeling at certain moments, and the shame only
comes too late. Of course it was wrong of me to call him Harry, and he,
too, with a wife at home, and five little girls--or three, I forget
which--should never have sworn that he loved me, nor said all that mad
nonsense about what he felt in that region where chief constables have
their hearts; but I own to great tenderness and a very touching sensibility
on either side. Indeed, I may add here, that the really sensitive
natures amongst men are never found under forty-five; but for genuine,
uncalculating affection, for the sort of devotion that flings consequences
to the winds, I say, give me fifty-eight or sixty.'
'Nina, do not make me hate you,' said Kate gravely.
'Certainly not, dearest, if a little hypocrisy will avert such a
misfortune. And so to return to my narrative, I learned, as accurately as a
gentleman so much in love could condescend to inform me, of all the steps
taken to secure Donogan at this meeting, or to capture him later on if he
should try to make his escape by sea.'
'You mean, then, to write to Donogan and apprise him of his danger?'
'It is done. I wrote the moment I got back here. I addressed him as Mr.
James Bredin, care of Jonas Mullory, Esq., 41 New Street, which was the
first address in the list he gave me. I told him of the peril he ran,
and what his friends were also threatened by, and I recounted the absurd
seizure of Mr. Walpole's effects here; and, last of all, what a dangerous
rival he had in this Captain Curtis, who was ready to desert wife,
children, and the constabulary to-morrow for me; and assuring him
confidentially that I was well worth greater sacrifices of better men, I
signed my initials in Greek letters.'
'Marvellous caution and great discretion,' said Kate solemnly.
'And now come over to the drawing-room, where I have promised to sing for
Mr. O'Shea some little ballad that he dreamed over all the night through;
and then there's something else--what is it? what is it?'
'How should I know, Nina? I was not present at your arrangement.'
'Never mind; I'll remember it presently. It will come to my recollection
while I'm singing that song.'
'If emotion is not too much for you.'
'Just so, Kate--sensibilities permitting; and, indeed,' she said,' I
remember it already. It was luncheon.'
HOW MEN IN OFFICE MAKE LOVE
'Is it true they have captured Donogan?' said Nina, coming hurriedly into
the library, where Walpole was busily engaged with his correspondence, and
sat before a table covered not only with official documents, but a number
of printed placards and handbills.
He looked up, surprised at her presence, and by the tone of familiarity in
her question, for which he was in no way prepared, and for a second or two
actually stared at without answering her.
'Can't you tell me? Are they correct in saying he has been caught?' cried
'Very far from it. There are the police returns up to last night from
Meath, Kildare, and Dublin; and though he was seen at Naas, passed some
hours in Dublin, and actually attended a night meeting at Kells, all trace
of him has been since lost, and he has completely baffled us. By the
Viceroy's orders, I am now doubling the reward for his apprehension, and
am prepared to offer a free pardon to any who shall give information about
him, who may not actually have committed a felony.'
'Is he so very dangerous, then?'
'Every man who is so daring is dangerous here. The people have a sort of
idolatry for reckless courage. It is not only that he has ventured to
come back to the country where his life is sacrificed to the law, but he
declares openly he is ready to offer himself as a representative for an
Irish county, and to test in his own person whether the English will have
the temerity to touch the man--the choice of the Irish people.'
'He is bold,' said she resolutely.
'And I trust he will pay for his boldness! Our law-officers are prepared
to treat him as a felon, irrespective of all claim to his character as a
Member of Parliament.'
'The danger will not deter him.'
'You think so?'
'I know it,' was the calm reply.
'Indeed,' said he, bending a steady look at her. 'What opportunities, might
I ask, have you had to form this same opinion?'
'Are not the public papers full of him? Have we not an almost daily record
of his exploits? Do not your own rewards for his capture impart an almost
fabulous value to his life?'
'His portrait, too, may lend some interest to his story,' said he, with
a half-sneering smile. 'They say this is very like him.' And he handed a
photograph as he spoke.
'This was done in New York,' said she, turning to the back of the card, the
better to hide an emotion she could not entirely repress.
'Yes, done by a brother Fenian, long since in our pay.'
'How base all that sounds! how I detest such treachery!'
'How deal with treason without it? Is it like him?' asked he artlessly.
'How should I know?' said she, in a slightly hurried tone. 'It is not like
the portrait in the _Illustrated News_.'
'I wonder which is the more like,' added he thoughtfully, 'and I fervently
hope we shall soon know. There is not a man he confides in who has not
engaged to betray him.'
'I trust you feel proud of your achievement.'
'No, not proud, but very anxious for its success. The perils of this
country are too great for mere sensibilities. He who would extirpate a
terrible disease must not fear the knife.'
'Not if he even kill the patient?' asked she.
'That might happen, and would be to be deplored,' said he, in the same
unmoved tone. 'But might I ask, whence has come all this interest for this
cause, and how have you learned so much sympathy with these people?'
'I read the newspapers,' said she dryly.
'You must read those of only one colour, then,' said he slyly; 'or perhaps
it is the tone of comment you hear about you. Are your sentiments such as
you daily listen to from Lord Kilgobbin and his family?'
'I don't know that they are. I suspect I'm more of a rebel than he is; but
I'll ask him if you wish it.'
'On no account, I entreat you. It would compromise me seriously to hear
such a discussion even in jest. Remember who I am, mademoiselle, and the
office I hold.'
'Your great frankness, Mr. Walpole, makes me sometimes forget both,' said
she, with well-acted humility.
'I wish it would do something more,' said he eagerly. 'I wish it would
inspire a little emulation, and make you deal as openly with _me_ as I long
to do with _you_.'
'It might embarrass you very much, perhaps.'
'As how?' asked he, with a touch of tenderness in his voice.
For a second or two she made no answer, and then, faltering at each word,
she said, 'What if some rebel leader--this man Donogan, for instance--drawn
towards you b some secret magic of trustfulness, moved by I know not what
need of your sympathy--for there is such a craving void now and then felt
in the heart--should tell you some secret thought of his nature--something
that he could utter alone to himself--would you bring yourself to use it
against him? Could you turn round and say, "I have your inmost soul in my
keeping. You are mine now--mine--mine?"'
'Do I understand you aright?' said he earnestly. 'Is it just possible, even
possible, that you have that to confide to me which would show that you
regard me as a dear friend?'
'Oh! Mr. Walpole,' burst she out passionately, 'do not by the greater power
of _your_ intellect seek the mastery over _mine_. Let the loneliness and
isolation of my life here rather appeal to you to pity than suggest the
thought of influencing and dominating me.'
'Would that I might. What would I not give or do to have that power that
you speak of.'
'Is this true?' said she.
'Will you swear it?'
She paused for a moment, and a slight tremor shook her mouth; but whether
the motion expressed a sentiment of acute pain or a movement of repressed
sarcasm, it was very difficult to determine.
'What is it, then, that you would swear?' asked she calmly and even coldly.
'Swear that I have no hope so high, no ambition so great, as to win your
'Indeed! And that other heart that you have won--what is to become of it?'
'Its owner has recalled it. In fact, it was never in _my_ keeping but as a
'How strange! At least, how strange to me this sounds. I, in my ignorance,
thought that people pledged their very lives in these bargains.'
'So it ought to be, and so it would be, if this world were not a web of
petty interests and mean ambitions; and these, I grieve to say, will find
their way into hearts that should be the home of very different sentiments.
It was of this order was that compact with my cousin--for I will speak
openly to you, knowing it is her to whom you allude. We were to have been
married. It was an old engagement. Our friends--that is, I believe, the
way to call them--liked it. They thought it a good thing for each of us.
Indeed, making the dependants of a good family intermarry is an economy of
patronage--the same plank rescues two from drowning. I believe--that is, I
fear--we accepted all this in the same spirit. We were to love each other
as much as we could, and our relations were to do their best for us.'
'And now it is all over?'
'All--and for ever.'
'How came this about?'
'At first by a jealousy about _you_.'
'A jealousy about _me_! You surely never dared--' and here her voice
trembled with real passion, while her eyes flashed angrily.
'No, no. I am guiltless in the matter. It was that cur Atlee made the
mischief. In a moment of weak trustfulness, I sent him over to Wales to
assist my uncle in his correspondence. He, of course, got to know
Lady Maude Bickerstaffe--by what arts he ingratiated himself into her
confidence, I cannot say. Indeed, I had trusted that the fellow's vulgarity
would form an impassable barrier between them, and prevent all intimacy;
but, apparently, I was wrong. He seems to have been the companion of her
rides and drives, and under the pretext of doing some commissions for her
in the bazaars of Constantinople, he got to correspond with her. So artful
a fellow would well know what to make of such a privilege.'
'And is he your successor now?' asked she, with a look of almost
'Scarcely that,' said he, with a supercilious smile. 'I think, if you had
ever seen my cousin, you would scarcely have asked the question.'
'But I have seen her. I saw her at the Odescalchi Palace at Rome. I
remember the stare she was pleased to bestow on me as she swept past me.
I remember more, her words as she asked, "Is this your Titian Girl I have
heard so much of?"'
'And may hear more of,' muttered he, almost unconsciously.
'Yes--even that too; but not, perhaps, in the sense you mean.' Then, as if
correcting herself, she went on, 'It was a bold ambition of Mr. Atlee. I
must say I like the very daring of it.'
'_He_ never dared it--take my word for it.'
An insolent laugh was her first reply. 'How little you men know of each
other, and how less than little you know of us! You sneer at the people who
are moved by sudden impulse, but you forget it is the squall upsets the
'I believe I can follow what you mean. You would imply that my cousin's
breach with _me_ might have impelled her to listen to Atlee?'
'Not so much that as, by establishing himself as her confidant, he got the
key of her heart, and let himself in as he pleased.'
'I suspect he found little to interest him there.'
'The insufferable insolence of that speech! Can you men never be brought to
see that we are not all alike to each of you; that our natures have their
separate watchwords, and that the soul which would vibrate with tenderness
to this, is to that a dead and senseless thing, with no trace or touch of
feeling about it?'
'I only believe this in part.'
'Believe it wholly, then, or own that you know nothing of love--no more
than do those countless thousands who go through life and never taste its
real ecstasy, nor its real sorrow; who accept convenience, or caprice, or
flattered vanity as its counterfeit, and live out the delusion in lives of
discontent. You have done wrong to break with your cousin. It is clear to
me you suited each other.'
'This is sarcasm.'
'If it is, I am sorry for it. I meant it for sincerity. In _your_ career,
ambition is everything. The woman that could aid you on your road would be
the real helpmate. She who would simply cross your path by her sympathies,
or her affections, would be a mere embarrassment. Take the very case before
us. Would not Lady Maude point out to you how, by the capture of this
rebel, you might so aid your friends as to establish a claim for
recompense? Would she not impress you with the necessity of showing how
your activity redounded to the credit of your party? She would neither
interpose with ill-timed appeals to your pity or a misplaced sympathy.
_She_ would help the politician, while another might hamper the man.'
'All that might be true, if the game of political life were played as it
seems to be on the surface, and my cousin was exactly the sort of woman to
use ordinary faculties with ability and acuteness; but there are scores of
things in which her interference would have been hurtful, and her secrecy
dubious. I will give you an instance, and it will serve to show my implicit
confidence in yourself. Now with respect to this man, Donogan, there is
nothing we wish less than to take him. To capture means to try--to try
means to hang him--and how much better, or safer, or stronger are we when
it is done? These fellows, right or wrong, represent opinions that are
never controverted by the scaffold, and every man who dies for his
convictions leaves a thousand disciples who never believed in him before.
It is only because he braves us that we pursue him, and in the face of our
opponents and Parliament we cannot do less. So that while we are offering
large rewards for his apprehension, we would willingly give double the sum
to know he had escaped. Talk of the supremacy of the Law--the more you
assert that here, the more ungovernable is this country by a Party. An
active Attorney-General is another word for three more regiments in
'I follow you with some difficulty; but I see that you would like this man
to get away, and how is that to be done?'
'Easily enough, when once he knows that it will be safe for him to go
north. He naturally fears the Orangemen of the northern counties. They
will, however, do nothing without the police, and the police have got their
orders throughout Antrim and Derry. Here--on this strip of paper--here are
the secret instructions:--"To George Dargan, Chief Constable, Letterkenny
District. Private and confidential.--It is, for many reasons, expedient
that the convict Donogan, on a proper understanding that he will not return
to Ireland, should be suffered to escape. If you are, therefore, in a
position to extort a pledge from him to this extent--and it should be
explicit and beyond all cavil--you will, taking due care not to compromise
your authority in your office, aid him to leave the country, even to the
extent of moneyed assistance." To this are appended directions how he is to
proceed to carry out these instructions: what he may, and what he may not
do, with whom he may seek for co-operation, and where he is to maintain a
guarded and careful secrecy. Now, in telling you all this, Mademoiselle
Kostalergi, I have given you the strongest assurance in my power of the
unlimited trust I have in you. I see how the questions that agitate this
country interest you. I read the eagerness with which you watch them, but
I want you to see more. I want you to see that the men who purpose to
themselves the great task of extricating Ireland from her difficulties must
be politicians in the highest sense of the word, and that you should see
in us statesmen of an order that can weigh human passions and human
emotions--and see that hope and fear, and terror and gratitude, sway the
hearts of men who, to less observant eyes, seem to have no place in their
natures but for rebellion. That this mode of governing Ireland is the one
charm to the Celtic heart, all the Tory rule of the last fifty years,
with its hangings and banishments and other terrible blunders, will soon
convince you. The Priest alone has felt the pulse of this people, and
we are the only Ministers of England who have taken the Priest into our
confidence. I own to you I claim some credit for myself in this discovery.
It was in long reflecting over the ills of Ireland that I came to see
that where the malady has so much in its nature that is sensational and
emotional, so must the remedy be sensational too. The Tories were ever bent
on extirpating--_we_ devote ourselves to "healing measures." Do you follow
'I do,' said she thoughtfully.
'Do I interest you?' asked he, more tenderly.
'Intensely,' was the reply.
'Oh, if I could but think _that_. If I could bring myself to believe that
the day would come, not only to secure your interest, but your aid and your
assistance in this great task! I have long sought the opportunity to tell
you that we, who hold the destinies of a people in our keeping, are not
inferior to our great trust, that we are not mere creatures of a state
department, small deities of the Olympus of office, but actual statesmen
and rulers. Fortune has given me the wished-for moment, let it complete
my happiness, let it tell me that you see in this noble work one worthy
of your genius and your generosity, and that you would accept me as a
fellow-labourer in the cause.'
The fervour which he threw into the utterance of these words contrasted
strongly and strangely with the words themselves; so unlike the declaration
of a lover's passion.
'I do--not--know,' said she falteringly.
'What is that you do not know?' asked he, with tender eagerness.
'I do not know if I understand you aright, and I do not know what answer I
should give you.'
'Will not your heart tell you?'
She shook her head.
'You will not crush me with the thought that there is no pleading for me
'If you had desired in honesty my regard, you should not have prejudiced
me: you began here by enlisting my sympathies in your Task; you told me of
your ambitions. I like these ambitions.'
'Why not share them?' cried he passionately.
'You seem to forget what you ask. A woman does not give her heart as a
man joins a party or an administration. It is no question of an advantage
based upon a compromise. There is no sentiment of gratitude, or recompense,
or reward in the gift. She simply gives that which is no longer hers to
retain! She trusts to what her mind will not stop to question--she goes
where she cannot help but follow.'
'How immeasurably greater your every word makes the prize of your love.'
'It is in no vanity that I say I know it,' said she calmly. 'Let us speak
no more on this now.'