Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Lord Kilgobbin by Charles Lever

Part 2 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

for his cattle. He was not--few hunting men are--an ardent fisherman; and
as for the vexed question of Irish politics, he did not see why he was
to trouble his head to unravel the puzzles that were too much for Mr.
Gladstone; not to say, that he felt to meddle with these matters was like
interfering with another man's department. 'I don't suspect,' he would
say, 'I should fancy John Bright coming down to "stables" and dictating
to me how my Irish horses should be shod, or what was the best bit for
a "borer."' He saw, besides, that the game of politics was a game of
compromises: something was deemed admirable now that had been hitherto
almost execrable; and that which was utterly impossible to-day, if done
last year would have been a triumphant success, and consequently he
pronounced the whole thing an 'imposition and a humbug.' 'I can understand
a right and a wrong as well as any man,' he would say, 'but I know nothing
about things that are neither or both, according to who's in or who's out
of the Cabinet. Give me the command of twelve thousand men, let me divide
them into three flying columns, and if I don't keep Ireland quiet, draft
me into a West Indian regiment, that's all.' And as to the idea of issuing
special commissions, passing new Acts of Parliament, or suspending old
ones, to do what he or any other intelligent soldier could do without any
knavery or any corruption, 'John Bright might tell us,' but he couldn't.
And here it may be well to observe that it was a favourite form of speech
with him to refer to this illustrious public man in this familiar manner;
but always to show what a condition of muddle and confusion must ensue if
we followed the counsels that name emblematised; nor did he know a more
cutting sarcasm to reply to an adversary than when he had said, 'Oh, John
Bright would agree with you,' or, 'I don't think John Bright could go

Of a very different stamp was his companion. He was a young gentleman whom
we cannot more easily characterise than by calling him, in the cant of the
day, 'of the period.' He was essentially the most recent product of the age
we live in. Manly enough in some things, he was fastidious in others to
the very verge of effeminacy; an aristocrat by birth and by predilection,
he made a parade of democratic opinions. He affected a sort of Crichtonism
in the variety of his gifts, and as linguist, musician, artist, poet, and
philosopher, loved to display the scores of things he might be, instead of
that mild, very ordinary young gentleman that he was. He had done a little
of almost everything: he had been in the Guards, in diplomacy, in the House
for a brief session, had made an African tour, written a pleasant little
book about the Nile, with the illustrations by his own hand. Still he was
greater in promise than performance. There was an opera of his partly
finished; a five-act comedy almost ready for the stage; a half-executed
group he had left in some studio in Rome, showed what he might have done
in sculpture. When his distinguished relative the Marquis of Danesbury
recalled him from his post as secretary of legation in Italy, to join him
at his Irish seat of government, the phrase in which he invited him to
return is not without its significance, and we give it as it occurred in
the context: 'I have no fancy for the post they have assigned me, nor is
it what I had hoped for. They say, however, I shall succeed here. _Nous
verrons_. Meanwhile, I remember your often remarking, "There is a great
game to be played in Ireland." Come over at once, then, and let me have a
talk with you over it. I shall manage the question of your leave by making
you private secretary for the moment. We shall have many difficulties, but
Ireland will be the worst of them. Do not delay, therefore, for I shall
only go over to be sworn in, etc., and return for the third reading of the
Church Bill, and I should like to see you in Dublin (and leave you there)
when I go.'

Except that they were both members of the viceregal household, and English
by birth, there was scarcely a tie between these very dissimilar natures;
but somehow the accidents of daily life, stronger than the traits of
disposition, threw them into intimacy, and they agreed it would be a good
thing 'to see something of Ireland'; and with this wise resolve they had
set out on that half-fishing excursion, which, having taken them over
the Westmeath lakes, now was directing them to the Shannon, but with an
infirmity of purpose to which lack of sport and disastrous weather were
contributing powerfully at the moment we have presented them to our reader.

To employ the phrase which it is possible each might have used, they 'liked
each other well enough'--that is, each found something in the other he
'could get on with'; but there was no stronger tie of regard or friendship
between them, and each thought he perceived some flaw of pretension, or
affected wisdom, or selfishness, or vanity, in the other, and actually
believed he amused himself by its display. In natures, tastes, and
dispositions, they were miles asunder, and disagreement between them would
have been unceasing on every subject, had they not been gentlemen. It was
this alone--this gentleman element--made their companionship possible, and,
in the long run, not unpleasant. So much more has good-breeding to do in
the common working of daily life than the more valuable qualities of mind
and temperament.

Though much younger than his companion, Walpole took the lead in all the
arrangements of the journey, determined where and how long they should
halt, and decided on the route next to be taken; the other showing a real
or affected indifference on all these matters, and making of his town-bred
apathy a very serviceable quality in the midst of Irish barbarism
and desolation. On politics, too--if that be the name for such light
convictions as they entertained--they differed: the soldier's ideas being
formed on what he fancied would be the late Duke of Wellington's opinion,
and consisted in what he called 'putting down.' Walpole was a promising
Whig; that is, one who coquets with Radical notions, but fastidiously
avoids contact with the mob; and who, fervently believing that all popular
concessions are spurious if not stamped with Whig approval, would like to
treat the democratic leaders as forgers and knaves.

If, then, there was not much of similarity between these two men to attach
them to each other, there was what served for a bond of union: they
belonged to the same class in life, and used pretty nigh the same forms
for their expression of like and dislike; and as in traffic it contributes
wonderfully to the facilities of business to use the same money, so in the
common intercourse of life will the habit to estimate things at the same
value conduce to very easy relations, and something almost like friendship.

While they sat over the fire awaiting their supper, each had lighted a
cigar, busying himself from time to time in endeavouring to dry some
drenched article of dress, or extracting from damp and dripping pockets
their several contents.

'This, then,' said the younger man--'this is the picturesque Ireland
our tourist writers tell us of; and the land where the _Times_ says
the traveller will find more to interest him than in the Tyrol or the

'What about the climate?' said the other, in a deep bass voice.

'Mild and moist, I believe, are the epithets; that is, it makes you damp,
and it keeps you so.'

'And the inns?'

'The inns, it is admitted, might be better; but the traveller is admonished
against fastidiousness, and told that the prompt spirit of obligeance,
the genial cordiality, he will meet with, are more than enough to repay
him for the want of more polished habits and mere details of comfort and

'Rotten humbug! _I_ don't want cordiality from my innkeeper.'

'I should think not! As, for instance, a bit of carpet in this room would
be worth more than all the courtesy that showed us in.'

'What was that lake called--the first place I mean?' asked Lockwood.

'Lough Brin. I shouldn't say but with better weather it might be pretty.'

A half-grunt of dissent was all the reply, and Walpole went on--

It's no use painting a landscape when it is to be smudged all over with
Indian ink. There are no tints in mountains swathed in mist, no colour in
trees swamped with moisture; everything seems so imbued with damp, one
fancies it would take two years in the tropics to dry Ireland.'

'I asked that fellow who showed us the way here, why he didn't pitch off
those wet rags he wore, and walk away in all the dignity of nakedness.'

A large dish of rashers and eggs, and a mess of Irish stew, which the
landlord now placed on the table, with a foaming jug of malt, seemed to
rally them out of their ill-temper; and for some time they talked away in a
more cheerful tone.

'Better than I hoped for,' said Walpole.


'And that ale, too--I suppose it is called ale--is very tolerable.'

'It's downright good. Let us have some more of it.' And he shouted,
'Master!' at the top of his voice. 'More of this,' said Lockwood, touching
the measure. 'Beer or ale, which is it?'

'Castle Bellingham, sir,' replied the landlord; 'beats all the Bass and
Allsopp that ever was brewed.'

'You think so, eh?'

'I'm sure of it, sir. The club that sits here had a debate on it one night,
and put it to the vote, and there wasn't one man for the English liquor. My
lord there,' said he, pointing to the portrait, 'sent an account of it all
to _Saunders_' newspaper.'

While he left the room to fetch the ale, the travellers both fixed
their eyes on the picture, and Walpole, rising, read out the
inscription--'Viscount Kilgobbin.'

'There's no such title,' said the other bluntly.

'Lord Kilgobbin--Kilgobbin? Where did I hear that name before?'

'In a dream, perhaps.'

'No, no. I _have_ heard it, if I could only remember where and how! I say,
landlord, where does his lordship live?' and he pointed to the portrait.

'Beyond, at the castle, sir. You can see it from the door without when the
weather's fine.'

'That must mean on a very rare occasion!' said Lockwood gravely.

'No indeed, sir. It didn't begin to rain on Tuesday last till after three

'Magnificent climate!' exclaimed Walpole enthusiastically.

'It is indeed, sir. Glory be to God!' said the landlord, with an honest
gravity that set them both off laughing.

'How about this club--does it meet often?'

'It used, sir, to meet every Thursday evening, and my lord never missed
a night, but quite lately he took it in his head not to come out in the
evenings. Some say it was the rheumatism, and more says it's the unsettled
state of the country; though, the Lord be praised for it, there wasn't a
man fired at in the neighbourhood since Easter, and _he_ was a peeler.'

'One of the constabulary?'

'Yes, sir; a dirty, mean chap, that was looking after a poor boy that set
fire to Mr. Hagin's ricks, and that was over a year ago.'

'And naturally forgotten by this time?'

'By coorse it was forgotten. Ould Mat Hagin got a presentment for the
damage out of the grand-jury, and nobody was the worse for it at all.'

'And so the club is smashed, eh?'

'As good as smashed, sir; for whenever any of them comes now of an evening,
he just goes into the bar and takes his glass there.'

He sighed heavily as he said this, and seemed overcome with sadness.

'I'm trying to remember why the name is so familiar to me. I know I have
heard of Lord Kilgobbin before,' said Walpole.

'Maybe so,' said the landlord respectfully. 'You may have read in books
how it was at Kilgobbin Castle King James came to stop after the Boyne;
that he held a "coort" there in the big drawing-room--they call it the
"throne-room" ever since--and slept two nights at the castle afterwards?'

'That's something to see, Walpole,' said Lockwood.

'So it is. How is that to be managed, landlord? Does his lordship permit
strangers to visit the castle?'

'Nothing easier than that, sir,' said the host, who gladly embraced a
project that should detain his guests at the inn. 'My lord went through the
town this morning on his way to Loughrea fair; but the young ladies is at
home; and you've only to send over a message, and say you'd like to see the
place, and they'll be proud to show it to you.'

'Let us send our cards, with a line in pencil,' said Walpole, in a whisper
to his friend.

'And there are young ladies there?' asked Lockwood.

'Two born beauties; it's hard to say which is handsomest,' replied the
host, overjoyed at the attraction his neighbourhood possessed.

'I suppose that will do?' said Walpole, showing what he had written on his

'Yes, perfectly.'

'Despatch this at once. I mean early to-morrow; and let your messenger ask
if there be an answer. How far is it off?'

'A little over twelve miles, sir; but I've a mare in the stable will
"rowle" ye over in an hour and a quarter.'

'All right. We'll settle on everything after breakfast to-morrow.' And the
landlord withdrew, leaving them once more alone.

'This means,' said Lockwood drearily, 'we shall have to pass a day in this
wretched place.'

'It will take a day to dry our wet clothes; and, all things considered, one
might be worse off than here. Besides, I shall want to look over my notes.
I have done next to nothing, up to this time, about the Land Question.'

'I thought that the old fellow with the cow, the fellow I gave a cigar to,
had made you up in your tenant-right affair,' said Lockwood.

'He gave me a great deal of very valuable information; he exposed some of
the evils of tenancy at will as ably as I ever heard them treated, but he
was occasionally hard on the landlord.'

'I suppose one word of truth never came out of his mouth!'

'On the contrary, real knowledge of Ireland is not to be acquired from
newspapers; a man must see Ireland for himself--_see_ it,' repeated he,
with strong emphasis.

'And then?'

'And then, if he be a capable man, a reflecting man, a man in whom the
perceptive power is joined to the social faculty--'

'Look here, Cecil, one hearer won't make a House: don't try it on
speechifying to me. It's all humbug coming over to look at Ireland. You may
pick up a little brogue, but it's all you'll pick up for your journey.'
After this, for him, unusually long speech, he finished his glass, lighted
his bedroom candle, and nodding a good-night, strolled away.

'I'd give a crown to know where I heard of you before!' said Walpole, as he
stared up at the portrait.



'Only think of it!' cried Kate to her cousin, as she received Walpole's
note. 'Can you fancy, Nina, any one having the curiosity to imagine this
old house worth a visit? Here is a polite request from two tourists to be
allowed to see the--what is it?--the interesting interior of Kilgobbin

'Which I hope and trust you will refuse. The people who are so eager for
these things are invariably tiresome old bores, grubbing for antiquities,
or intently bent on adding a chapter to their story of travel. You'll say
No, dearest, won't you?'

'Certainly, if you wish it. I am not acquainted with Captain Lockwood, nor
his friend Mr. Cecil Walpole.'

'Did you say Cecil Walpole?' cried the other, almost snatching the card
from her fingers. 'Of all the strange chances in life, this is the very
strangest! What could have brought Cecil Walpole here?'

'You know him, then?'

'I should think I do! What duets have we not sung together? What waltzes
have we not had? What rides over the Campagna? Oh dear! how I should like
to talk over these old times again! Pray tell him he may come, Kate, or let
me do it.'

'And papa away!'

'It is the castle, dearest, he wants to see, not papa! You don't know
what manner of creature this is! He is one of your refined and supremely
cultivated English--mad about archology and medival trumpery. He'll know
all your ancestors intended by every insane piece of architecture, and
every puzzling detail of this old house; and he'll light up every corner of
it with some gleam of bright tradition.'

'I thought these sort of people were bores, dear?' said Kate, with a sly
malice in her look.

'Of course not. When they are well-bred and well-mannered---'

'And perhaps well-looking?' chimed in Kate.

'Yes, and so he is--a little of the _petit-matre_, perhaps. He's much of
that school which fiction-writers describe as having "finely-pencilled
eyebrows, and chins of almost womanlike roundness"; but people in Rome
always called him handsome, that is if he be my Cecil Walpole.'

'Well, then, will you tell YOUR Cecil Walpole, in such polite terms as
you know how to coin, that there is really nothing of the very slightest
pretension to interest in this old place; that we should be ashamed at
having lent ourselves to the delusion that might have led him here; and
lastly, that the owner is from home?'

'What! and is this the Irish hospitality I have heard so much of--the
cordial welcome the stranger may reckon on as a certainty, and make all his
plans with the full confidence of meeting?'

'There is such a thing as discretion, also, to be remembered, Nina,' said
Kate gravely.

'And then there's the room where the king slept, and the chair that--no,
not Oliver Cromwell, but somebody else sat in at supper, and there's the
great patch painted on the floor where your ancestor knelt to be knighted.'

'He was created a viscount, not a knight!' said Kate, blushing. 'And there
is a difference, I assure you.'

'So there is, dearest, and even my foreign ignorance should know that much,
and you have the parchment that attests it--a most curious document, that
Walpole would be delighted to see. I almost fancy him examining the curious
old seal with his microscope, and hear him unfolding all sorts of details
one never so much as suspected.'

'Papa might not like it,' said Kate, bridling up. 'Even were he at home,
I am far from certain he would receive these gentlemen. It is little
more than a year ago there came here a certain book-writing tourist, and
presented himself without introduction. We received him hospitably, and he
stayed part of a week here. He was fond of antiquarianism, but more eager
still about the condition of the people--what kind of husbandry they
practised, what wages they had, and what food. Papa took him over the whole
estate, and answered all his questions freely and openly. And this man made
a chapter of his book upon us, and headed it, "Rack-renting and riotous
living," distorting all he heard and sneering at all he saw.'

'These are gentlemen, dearest Kate,' said Nina, holding out the card. 'Come
now, do tell me that I may say you will be happy to see them?'

'If you must have it so--if you really insist--'

'I do! I do!' cried she, half wildly. 'I should go distracted if you denied
me. O Kate! I must own it. It will out. I do cling devotedly, terribly, to
that old life of the past. I am very happy here, and you are all good, and
kind, and loving to me; but that wayward, haphazard existence, with all its
trials and miseries, had got little glimpses of such bliss at times that
rose to actual ecstasy.'

'I was afraid of this,' said Kate, in a low but firm voice. 'I thought what
a change it would be for you from that life of brightness and festivity to
this existence of dull and unbroken dreariness.'

'No, no, no! Don't say that! Do not fancy that I am not happier than I
ever was or ever believed I could be. It was the castle-building of that
time that I was regretting. I imagined so many things, I invented such
situations, such incidents, which, with this sad-coloured landscape here
and that leaden sky, I have no force to conjure up. It is as though the
atmosphere is too weighty for fancy to mount in it. You, my dearest Kate,'
said she, drawing her arm round her, and pressing her towards her, 'do not
know these things, nor need ever know them. Your life is assured and safe.
You cannot, indeed, be secure from the passing accidents of life, but they
will meet you in a spirit able to confront them. As for me, I was always
gambling for existence, and gambling without means to pay my losses if
Fortune should turn against me. Do you understand me, child?'

'Only in part, if even that,' said she slowly.

'Let us keep this theme, then, for another time. Now for _ces messieurs_. I
am to invite them?'

'If there was time to ask Miss O'Shea to come over--'

'Do you not fancy, Kate, that in your father's house, surrounded with
your father's servants, you are sufficiently the mistress to do without a
chaperon? Only preserve that grand austere look you have listened to me
with these last ten minutes, and I should like to see the youthful audacity
that could brave it. There, I shall go and write my note. You shall see how
discreetly and properly I shall word it.'

Kate walked thoughtfully towards a window and looked out, while Nina
skipped gaily down the room, and opened her writing-desk, humming an opera
air as she wrote:--


'DEAR MR. WALPOLE,--I can scarcely tell you the pleasure I feel at the
prospect of seeing a dear friend, or a friend from dear Italy, whichever
be the most proper to say. My uncle is from home, and will not return till
the day after to-morrow at dinner; but my cousin, Miss Kearney, charges
me to say how happy she will be to receive you and your fellow-traveller
at luncheon to-morrow. Pray not to trouble yourself with an answer, but
believe me very sincerely yours, 'NINA KOSTALERGI.'

'I was right in saying luncheon, Kate, and not dinner--was I not? It is
less formal.'

'I suppose so; that is, if it was right to invite them at all, of which I
have very great misgivings.'

'I wonder what brought Cecil Walpole down here?' said Nina, glad to turn
the discussion into another channel. 'Could he have heard that I was here?
Probably not. It was a mere chance, I suppose. Strange things these same
chances are, that do so much more in our lives than all our plottings!'

'Tell me something of your friend, perhaps I ought to say your admirer,

'Yes, very much my admirer; not seriously, you know, but in that charming
sort of adoration we cultivate abroad, that means anything or nothing. He
was not titled, and I am afraid he was not rich, and this last misfortune
used to make his attention to me somewhat painful--to _him_ I mean, not to
_me_; for, of course, as to anything serious, I looked much higher than a
poor Secretary of Legation.'

'Did you?' asked Kate, with an air of quiet simplicity.

'I should hope I did,' said she haughtily; and she threw a glance at
herself in a large mirror, and smiled proudly at the bright image that
confronted her. 'Yes, darling, say it out,' cried she, turning to Kate.
'Your eyes have uttered the words already.'

'What words?'

'Something about insufferable vanity and conceit, and I own to both! Oh,
why is it that my high spirits have so run away with me this morning that
I have forgotten all reserve and all shame? But the truth is, I feel half
wild with joy, and joy in _my_ nature is another name for recklessness.'

'I sincerely hope not,' said Kate gravely. 'At any rate, you give me
another reason for wishing to have Miss O'Shea here.'

'I will not have her--no, not for worlds, Kate, that odious old woman, with
her stiff and antiquated propriety. Cecil would quiz her.'

'I am very certain he would not; at least, if he be such a perfect
gentleman as you tell me.'

'Ah, but you'd never know he did it. The fine tact of these consummate men
of the world derives a humoristic enjoyment in eccentricity of character,
which never shows itself in any outward sign beyond the heightened pleasure
they feel in what other folks might call dulness or mere oddity.'

'I would not suffer an old friend to be made the subject of even such
latent amusement.'

'Nor her nephew, either, perhaps?'

'The nephew could take care of himself, Nina; but I am not aware that he
will be called on to do so. He is not in Ireland, I believe.'

'He was to arrive this week. You told me so.'

'Perhaps he did; I had forgotten it!' and Kate flushed as she spoke, though
whether from shame or anger it was not easy to say. As though impatient
with herself at any display of temper, she added hurriedly, 'Was it not
a piece of good fortune, Nina? Papa has left us the key of the cellar, a
thing he never did before, and only now because you were here!'

'What an honoured guest I am!' said the other, smiling.

'That you are! I don't believe papa has gone once to the club since you
came here.'

'Now, if I were to own that I was vain of this, you'd rebuke me, would not

'_Our_ love could scarcely prompt to vanity.'

'How shall I ever learn to be humble enough in a family of such humility?'
said Nina pettishly. Then quickly correcting herself, she said, 'I'll go
and despatch my note, and then I'll come back and ask your pardon for all
my wilfulness, and tell you how much I thank you for all your goodness to

And as she spoke she bent down and kissed Kate's hand twice or thrice

'Oh, dearest Nina, not this--not this!' said Kate, trying to clasp her in
her arms; but the other had slipped from her grasp, and was gone.

'Strange girl,' muttered Kate, looking after her. 'I wonder shall I ever
understand you, or shall we ever understand each other?'



The morning broke drearily for our friends, the two pedestrians, at the
'Blue Goat.' A day of dull aspect and soft rain in midsummer has the added
depression that it seems an anachronism. One is in a measure prepared for
being weather-bound in winter. You accept imprisonment as the natural
fortune of the season, or you brave the elements prepared to let them do
their worst, while, if confined to house, you have that solace of snugness,
that comfortable chimney-corner which somehow realises an immense amount
of the joys we concentrate in the word 'Home.' It is in the want of this
rallying-point, this little domestic altar, where all gather together in a
common worship, that lies the dreary discomfort of being weather-bound in
summer, and when the prison is some small village inn, noisy, disorderly,
and dirty, the misery is complete.

'Grand old pig that!' said Lockwood, as he gazed out upon the filthy yard,
where a fat old sow contemplated the weather from the threshold of her

'I wish she'd come out. I want to make a sketch of her,' said the other.

'Even one's tobacco grows too damp to smoke in this blessed climate,' said
Lockwood, as he pitched his cigar away. 'Heigh-ho! We 're too late for the
train to town, I see.'

'You'd not go back, would you?'

'I should think I would! That old den in the upper castle-yard is not very
cheery or very nice, but there is a chair to sit on, and a review and a
newspaper to read. A tour in a country and with a climate like this is a

'I suspect it is,' said Walpole drearily.

'There is nothing to see, no one to talk to, nowhere to stop at!'

'All true,' muttered the other. 'By the way, haven't we some plan or
project for to-day--something about an old castle or an abbey to see?'

'Yes, and the waiter brought me a letter. I think it was addressed to you,
and I left it on my dressing-table. I had forgotten all about it. I'll go
and fetch it.'

Short as his absence was, it gave Walpole time enough to recur to his
late judgment on his tour, and once more call it a 'mistake, a complete
mistake.' The Ireland of wits, dramatists, and romance-writers was a
conventional thing, and bore no resemblance whatsoever to the rain-soaked,
dreary-looking, depressed reality. 'These Irish, they are odd without being
droll, just as they are poor without being picturesque; but of all the
delusions we nourish about them, there is not one so thoroughly absurd as
to call them dangerous.'

He had just arrived at this mature opinion, when his friend re-entered and
handed him the note.

'Here is a piece of luck. _Per Bacco_!' cried Walpole, as he ran over the
lines. 'This beats all I could have hoped for. Listen to this--"Dear Mr.
Walpole,--I cannot tell you the delight I feel in the prospect of seeing a
dear friend, or a friend from dear Italy, which is it? "'

'Who writes this?'

'A certain Mademoiselle Kostalergi, whom I knew at Rome; one of the
prettiest, cleverest, and nicest girls I ever met in my life.'

'Not the daughter of that precious Count Kostalergi you have told me such
stories of?'

'The same, but most unlike him in every way. She is here, apparently
with an uncle, who is now from home, and she and her cousin invite us to
luncheon to-day.'

'What a lark!' said the other dryly.

'We'll go, of course?'

'In weather like this?'

'Why not? Shall we be better off staying here? I now begin to remember how
the name of this place was so familiar to me. She was always asking me if
I knew or heard of her mother's brother, the Lord Kilgobbin, and, to tell
truth, I fancied some one had been hoaxing her with the name, and never
believed that there was even a place with such a designation.'

'Kilgobbin does not sound like a lordly title. How about Mademoiselle--what
is the name?'

'Kostalergi; they call themselves princes.'

'With all my heart. I was only going to say, as you've got a sort of knack
of entanglement--is there, or has there been, anything of that sort here?'

'Flirtation--a little of what is called "spooning"--but no more. But why do
you ask?'

'First of all, you are an engaged man.'

'All true, and I mean to keep my engagement. I can't marry, however, till I
get a mission, or something at home as good as a mission. Lady Maude
knows that; her friends know it, but none of us imagine that we are to be
miserable in the meantime.'

'I'm not talking of misery. I'd only say, don't get yourself into any mess.
These foreign girls are very wide-awake.'

'Don't believe that, Harry; one of our home-bred damsels would give them
a distance and beat them in the race for a husband. It's only in England
girls are trained to angle for marriage, take my word for it.'

'Be it so--I only warn you that if you get into any scrape I'll accept none
of the consequences. Lord Danesbury is ready enough to say that, because I
am some ten years older than you, I should have kept you out of mischief. I
never contracted for such a bear-leadership; though I certainly told Lady
Maude I'd turn Queen's evidence against you if you became a traitor.'

'I wonder you never told me that before,' said Walpole, with some
irritation of manner.

'I only wonder that I told it now!' replied the other gruffly.

'Then I am to take it, that in your office of guardian, you'd rather we'd
decline this invitation, eh?'

'I don't care a rush for it either way, but, looking to the sort of day it
is out there, I incline to keep the house.'

'I don't mind bad weather, and I'll go,' said Walpole, in a way that showed
temper was involved in the resolution.

Lockwood made no other reply than heaping a quantity of turf on the fire,
and seating himself beside it.

When a man tells his fellow-traveller that he means to go his own
road--that companionship has no tie upon him--he virtually declares the
partnership dissolved; and while Lockwood sat reflecting over this, he
was also canvassing with himself how far he might have been to blame in
provoking this hasty resolution.

'Perhaps he was irritated at my counsels, perhaps the notion of anything
like guidance offended him; perhaps it was the phrase, "bear-leadership,"
and the half-threat of betraying him, has done the mischief.' Now the
gallant soldier was a slow thinker; it took him a deal of time to arrange
the details of any matter in his mind, and when he tried to muster his
ideas there were many which would not answer the call, and of those
which came, there were not a few which seemed to present themselves in a
refractory and unwilling spirit, so that he had almost to suppress a mutiny
before he proceeded to his inspection.

Nor did the strong cheroots, which he smoked to clear his faculties and
develop his mental resources, always contribute to this end, though their
soothing influence certainly helped to make him more satisfied with his

'Now, look here, Walpole,' said he, determining that he would save himself
all unnecessary labour of thought by throwing the burden of the case on the
respondent--'Look here; take a calm view of this thing, and see if it's
quite wise in you to go back into trammels it cost you some trouble to
escape from. You call it spooning, but you won't deny you went very far
with that young woman--farther, I suspect, than you've told me yet. Eh! is
that true or not?'

He waited a reasonable time for a reply, but none coming, he went on--'I
don't want a forced confidence. You may say it's no business of mine, and
there I agree with you, and probably if you put _me_ to the question in
the same fashion, I'd give you a very short answer. Remember one thing,
however, old fellow--I've seen a precious deal more of life and the world
than you have! From sixteen years of age, when _you_ were hammering away at
Greek verbs and some such balderdash at Oxford, I was up at Rangoon with
the very fastest set of men--ay, of women too--I ever lived with in all my
life. Half of our fellows were killed off by it. Of course people will say
climate, climate! but if I were to give you the history of one day--just
twenty-four hours of our life up there--you'd say that the wonder is
there's any one alive to tell it.'

He turned around at this, to enjoy the expression of horror and surprise
he hoped to have called up, and perceived for the first time that he was
alone. He rang the bell, and asked the waiter where the other gentleman
had gone, and learned that he had ordered a car, and set out for Kilgobbin
Castle more than half an hour before.

'All right,' said he fiercely. 'I wash my hands of it altogether! I'm
heartily glad I told him so before he went.' He smoked on very vigorously
for half an hour, the burden of his thoughts being perhaps revealed by
the summing-up, as he said, 'And when you are "in for it," Master Cecil,
and some precious scrape it will be, if I move hand or foot to pull you
through it, call me a Major of Marines, that's all--just call me a Major of
Marines!' The ineffable horror of such an imputation served as matter for
reverie for hours.



While Lockwood continued thus to doubt and debate with himself, Walpole was
already some miles on his way to Kilgobbin. Not, indeed, that he had made
any remarkable progress, for the 'mare that was to rowle his honour over in
an hour and a quarter,' had to be taken from the field where she had been
ploughing since daybreak, while 'the boy' that should drive her, was a
little old man who had to be aroused from a condition of drunkenness in a
hayloft, and installed in his office.

Nor were these the only difficulties. The roads that led through the bog
were so numerous and so completely alike that it only needed the dense
atmosphere of a rainy day to make it matter of great difficulty to discover
the right track. More than once were they obliged to retrace their steps
after a considerable distance, and the driver's impatience always took the
shape of a reproach to Walpole, who, having nothing else to do, should
surely have minded where they were going. Now, not only was the traveller
utterly ignorant of the geography of the land he journeyed in, but his
thoughts were far and away from the scenes around him. Very scattered
and desultory thoughts were they, at one time over the Alps and with
'long-agoes': nights at Rome clashing with mornings on the Campagna; vast
salons crowded with people of many nations, all more or less busy with that
great traffic which, whether it take the form of religion, or politics, or
social intrigue, hate, love, or rivalry, makes up what we call 'the world';
or there were sunsets dying away rapidly--as they will do--over that great
plain outside the city, whereon solitude and silence are as much masters as
on a vast prairie of the West; and he thought of times when he rode back at
nightfall beside Nina Kostalergi, when little flashes would cross them of
that romance that very worldly folk now and then taste of, and delight in,
with a zest all the greater that the sensation is so new and strange to
them. Then there was the revulsion from the blaze of waxlights and the
glitter of diamonds, the crash of orchestras and the din of conversation,
the intoxication of the flattery that champagne only seems to 'accentuate,'
to the unbroken stillness of the hour, when even the footfall of the horse
is unheard, and a dreamy doubt that this quietude, this soothing sense of
calm, is higher happiness than all the glitter and all the splendour of the
ball-room, and that in the dropping words we now exchange, and in the stray
glances, there is a significance and an exquisite delight we never felt
till now; for, glorious as is the thought of a returned affection, full
of ecstasy the sense of a heart all, all our own, there is, in the first
half-doubtful, distrustful feeling of falling in love, with all its chances
of success or failure, something that has its moments of bliss nothing of
earthly delight can ever equal. To the verge of that possibility Walpole
had reached--but gone no further--with Nina Kostalergi. The young men of
the age are an eminently calculating and prudent class, and they count the
cost of an action with a marvellous amount of accuracy. Is it the turf and
its teachings to which this crafty and cold-blooded spirit is owing? Have
they learned to 'square their book' on life by the lessons of Ascot and
Newmarket, and seen that, no matter how probably they 'stand to win' on
this, they must provide for that, and that no caution or foresight is
enough that will not embrace every casualty of any venture?

There is no need to tell a younger son of the period that he must not marry
a pretty girl of doubtful family and no fortune. He may have his doubts on
scores of subjects: he may not be quite sure whether he ought to remain a
Whig with Lord Russell, or go in for Odgerism and the ballot; he may be
uncertain about Colenso, and have his misgivings about the Pentateuch;
he may not be easy in his mind about the Russians in the East, or the
Americans in the West; uncomfortable suspicions may cross him that the
Volunteers are not as quick in evolution as the Zouaves, or that England
generally does not sing 'Rule Britannia' so lustily as she used to do. All
these are possible misgivings, but that he should take such a plunge as
matrimony, on other grounds than the perfect prudence and profit of the
investment, could never occur to him.

As to the sinfulness of tampering with a girl's affections by what in slang
is called 'spooning,' it was purely absurd to think of it. You might as
well say that playing sixpenny whist made a man a gambler. And then, as
to the spooning, it was _partie gale_, the lady was no worse off than
the gentleman. If there were by any hazard--and this he was disposed to
doubt--'affections' at stake, the man 'stood to lose' as much as the woman.
But this was not the aspect in which the case presented itself, flirtation
being, in his idea, to marriage what the preliminary canter is to the
race--something to indicate the future, but so dimly and doubtfully as not
to decide the hesitation of the waverer.

If, then, Walpole was never for a moment what mothers call serious in his
attentions to Mademoiselle Kostalergi, he was not the less fond of her
society; he frequented the places where she was likely to be met with, and
paid her that degree of 'court' that only stopped short of being particular
by his natural caution. There was the more need for the exercise of this
quality at Rome, since there were many there who knew of his engagement
with his cousin, Lady Maude, and who would not have hesitated to report on
any breach of fidelity. Now, however, all these restraints were withdrawn.
They were not in Italy, where London, by a change of venue, takes its
'records' to be tried in the dull days of winter. They were in Ireland,
and in a remote spot of Ireland, where there were no gossips, no clubs, no
afternoon-tea committees, to sit on reputations, and was it not pleasant
now to see this nice girl again in perfect freedom? These were, loosely
stated, the thoughts which occupied him as he went along, very little
disposed to mind how often the puzzled driver halted to decide the road, or
how frequently he retraced miles of distance. Men of the world, especially
when young in life, and more realistic than they will be twenty years
later, proud of the incredulity they can feel on the score of everything
and everybody, are often fond of making themselves heroes to their own
hearts of some little romance, which shall not cost them dearly to indulge
in, and merely engage some loose-lying sympathies without in any way
prejudicing their road in life. They accept of these sentimentalities as
the vicar's wife did the sheep in the picture, pleased to 'have as many as
the painter would put in for nothing.'

Now, Cecil Walpole never intended that this little Irish episode--and
episode he determined it should be--should in any degree affect the
serious fortunes of his life. He was engaged to his cousin, Lady Maude
Bickerstaffe, and they would be married some day. Not that either was very
impatient to exchange present comfort--and, on her side, affluence--for a
marriage on small means, and no great prospects beyond that. They were not
much in love. Walpole knew that the Lady Maude's fortune was small, but the
man who married her must 'be taken care of,' and by either side, for there
were as many Tories as Whigs in the family, and Lady Maude knew that
half-a-dozen years ago, she would certainly not have accepted Walpole; but
that with every year her chances of a better _parti_ were diminishing; and,
worse than all this, each was well aware of the inducements by which the
other was influenced. Nor did the knowledge in any way detract from their
self-complacence or satisfaction with the match.

Lady Maude was to accompany her uncle to Ireland, and do the honours of his
court, for he was a bachelor, and pleaded hard with his party on that score
to be let off accepting the viceroyalty.

Lady Maude, however, had not yet arrived, and even if she had, how should
she ever hear of an adventure in the Bog of Allen!

But was there to be an adventure? and, if so, what sort of adventure?
Irishmen, Walpole had heard, had all the jealousy about their women that
characterises savage races, and were ready to resent what, in civilised
people, no one would dream of regarding as matter for umbrage. Well, then,
it was only to be more cautious--more on one's guard--besides the tact,
too, which a knowledge of life should give--

'Eh, what's this? Why are you stopping here?'

This was addressed now to the driver, who had descended from his box, and
was standing in advance of the horse.

'Why don't I drive on, is it?' asked he, in a voice of despair. 'Sure,
there's no road.'

'And does it stop here?' cried Walpole in horror, for he now perceived that
the road really came to an abrupt ending in the midst of the bog.

'Begorra, it's just what it does. Ye see, your honour,' added he, in a
confidential tone, 'it's one of them tricks the English played us in
the year of the famine. They got two millions of money to make roads in
Ireland, but they were so afraid it would make us prosperous and richer
than themselves, that they set about making roads that go nowhere.
Sometimes to the top of a mountain, or down to the sea, where there was no
harbour, and sometimes, like this one, into the heart of a bog.'

'That was very spiteful and very mean, too,' said Walpole.

'Wasn't it just mean, and nothing else! and it's five miles we'll have to
go back now to the cross-roads. Begorra, your honour, it's a good dhrink
ye'll have to give me for this day's work.'

'You forget, my friend, that but for your own confounded stupidity, I
should have been at Kilgobbin Castle by this time.'

'And ye'll be there yet, with God's help!' said he, turning the horse's
head. 'Bad luck to them for the road-making, and it's a pity, after all, it
goes nowhere, for it's the nicest bit to travel in the whole country.'

'Come now, jump up, old fellow, and make your beast step out. I don't want
to pass the night here.'

'You wouldn't have a dhrop of whisky with your honour?'

'Of course not.'

'Nor even brandy?'

'No, not even brandy.'

'Musha, I'm thinking you must be English,' muttered he, half sulkily.

'And if I were, is there any great harm in that?'

'By coorse not; how could ye help it? I suppose we'd all of us be better
if we could. Sit a bit more forward, your honour; the belly band does be
lifting her, and as you're doing nothing, just give her a welt of that
stick in your hand, now and then, for I lost the lash off my whip, and I've
nothing but this!' And he displayed the short handle of what had once been
a whip, with a thong of leather dangling at the end.

'I must say I wasn't aware that I was to have worked my passage,' said
Walpole, with something between drollery and irritation.

'She doesn't care for bating--stick her with the end of it. That's the way.
We'll get on elegant now. I suppose you was never here before?'

'No; and I think I can promise you I'll not come again.'

'I hope you will, then, and many a time too. This is the Bog of Allen
you're travelling now, and they tell there's not the like of it in the
three kingdoms.'

'I trust there's not!'

'The English, they say, has no bogs. Nothing but coal.'

'Quite true.'

'Erin, _ma bouchal_ you are! first gem of the say! that's what Dan
O'Connell always called you. Are you gettin' tired with the stick?'

'I'm tired of your wretched old beast, and your car, and yourself, too,'
said Walpole; 'and if I were sure that was the castle yonder, I'd make my
way straight to it on foot.'

'And why wouldn't you, if your honour liked it best? Why would ye be
beholden to a car if you'd rather walk. Only mind the bog-holes: for
there's twenty feet of water in some of them, and the sides is so straight,
you'll never get out if you fall in.'

'Drive on, then. I'll remain where I am; but don't bother me with your
talk; and no more questioning.'

'By coorse I won't--why would I? Isn't your honour a gentleman, and haven't
you a right to say what you plaze; and what am I but a poor boy, earning
his bread. Just the way it is all through the world; some has everything
they want and more besides, and others hasn't a stitch to their backs, or
maybe a pinch of tobacco to put in a pipe.'

This appeal was timed by seeing that Walpole had just lighted a fresh
cigar, whose fragrant fumes were wafted across the speaker's nose.

Firm to his determination to maintain silence, Walpole paid no attention
to the speech, nor uttered a word of any kind; and as a light drizzling
rain had now begun to fall, and obliged him to shelter himself under an
umbrella, he was at length saved from his companion's loquacity. Baffled,
but not beaten, the old fellow began to sing, at first in a low, droning
tone; but growing louder as the fire of patriotism warmed him, he shouted,
to a very wild and somewhat irregular tune, a ballad, of which Walpole
could not but hear the words occasionally, while the tramping of the
fellow's feet on the foot-board kept time to his song:--

''Tis our fun they can't forgive us,
Nor our wit so sharp and keen;
But there's nothing that provokes them
Like our wearin' of the green.
They thought Poverty would bate us,
But we'd sell our last "boneen"
And we'll live on cowld paytatees,
All for wearin' of the green.
Oh, the wearin' of the green--the wearin' of the green!
'Tis the colour best becomes us
Is the wearin' of the green!'

'Here's a cigar for you, old fellow, and stop that infernal chant.'

'There's only five verses more, and I'll sing them for your honour before I
light the baccy.'

'If you do, then, you shall never light baccy of mine. Can't you see that
your confounded song is driving me mad?'

'Faix, ye're the first I ever see disliked music,' muttered he, in a tone
almost compassionate.

And now as Walpole raised the collar of his coat to defend his ears, and
prepared, as well as he might, to resist the weather, he muttered, 'And
this is the beautiful land of scenery; and this the climate; and this the
amusing and witty peasant we read of. I have half a mind to tell the world
how it has been humbugged!' And thus musing, he jogged on the weary road,
nor raised his head till the heavy clash of an iron gate aroused him, and
he saw that they were driving along an approach, with some clumps of pretty
but young timber on either side.

'Here we are, your honour, safe and sound,' cried the driver, as proudly
as if he had not been five hours over what should have been done in one
and a half. 'This is Kilgobbin. All the ould trees was cut down by Oliver
Cromwell, they say, but there will be a fine wood here yet. That's the
castle you see yonder, over them trees; but there's no flag flying. The
lord's away. I suppose I'll have to wait for your honour? You'll be coming
back with me?'

'Yes, you'll have to wait.' And Walpole looked at his watch, and saw it was
already past five o'clock.



When the hour of luncheon came, and no guests made their appearance, the
young girls at the castle began to discuss what they should best do. 'I
know nothing of fine people and their ways,' said Kate--'you must take the
whole direction here, Nina.'

'It is only a question of time, and a cold luncheon can wait without

And so they waited till three, then till four, and now it was five o'clock;
when Kate, who had been over the kitchen-garden, and the calves' paddock,
and inspecting a small tract laid out for a nursery, came back to the house
very tired, and, as she said, also very hungry. 'You know, Nina,' said she,
entering the room, 'I ordered no dinner to-day. I speculated on our making
our dinner when your friends lunched; and as they have not lunched, we
have not dined; and I vote we sit down now. I'm afraid I shall not be as
pleasant company as that Mr.--do tell me his name--Walpole--but I pledge
myself to have as good a appetite.'

Nina made no answer. She stood at the open window; her gaze steadily bent
on the strip of narrow road that traversed the wide moor before her.

'Ain't you hungry? I mean, ain't you famished, child?' asked Kate.

'No, I don't think so. I could eat, but I believe I could go without eating
just as well.'

'Well, I must dine; and if you were not looking so nice and fresh, with a
rose-bud in your hair and your white dress so daintily looped up, I'd ask
leave not to dress.'

'If you were to smooth your hair, and, perhaps, change your boots--'

'Oh I know, and become in every respect a little civilised. My poor dear
cousin, what a mission you have undertaken among the savages. Own it
honestly, you never guessed the task that was before you when you came

'Oh, it's very nice savagery, all the same,' said the other, smiling

'There now!' cried Kate, as she threw her hat to one side, and stood
arranging her hair before the glass. 'I make this toilet under protest, for
we are going in to luncheon, not dinner, and all the world knows, and all
the illustrated newspapers show, that people do not dress for lunch. And,
by the way, that is something you have not got in Italy. All the women
gathering together in their garden-bonnets and their morning-muslins, and
the men in their knickerbockers and their coarse tweed coats.'

'I declare I think you are in better spirits since you see these people are
not coming.'

'It is true. You have guessed it, dearest. The thought of anything
grand--as a visitor; anything that would for a moment suggest the
unpleasant question, Is this right? or, Is that usual? makes me downright
irritable. Come, are you ready? May I offer you my arm?'

And now they were at table, Kate rattling away in unwonted gaiety, and
trying to rally Nina out of her disappointment.

'I declare Nina, everything is so pretty I am ashamed to eat. Those
chickens near you are the least ornamental things I see. Cut me off a wing.
Oh, I forgot, you never acquired the barbarous art of carving.'

'I can cut this,' said Nina, drawing a dish of tongue towards her.

'What! that marvellous production like a parterre of flowers? It would be
downright profanation to destroy it.'

'Then shall I give you some of this, Kate?'

'Why, child, that is strawberry-cream. But I cannot eat all alone; do help

'I shall take something by-and-by.'

'What do young ladies in Italy eat when they are--no, I don't mean in
love--I shall call it--in despair?'

'Give me some of that white wine beside you. There! don't you hear a noise?
I'm certain I heard the sound of wheels.'

'Most sincerely I trust not. I wouldn't for anything these people should
break in upon us now. If my brother Dick should drop in I'd welcome him,
and he would make our little party perfect. Do you know, Nina, Dick can be
so jolly. What's that? there are voices there without.'

As she spoke the door was opened, and Walpole entered. The young girls
had but time to rise from their seats, when--they never could exactly say
how--they found themselves shaking hands with him in great cordiality.

'And your friend--where is he?'

'Nursing a sore throat, or a sprained ankle, or a something or other. Shall
I confess it--as only a suspicion on my part, however--that I do believe
he was too much shocked at the outrageous liberty I took in asking to be
admitted here to accept any partnership in the impertinence?'

'We expected you at two or three o'clock,' said Nina.

'And shall I tell you why I was not here before? Perhaps you'll scarcely
credit me when I say I have been five hours on the road.'

'Five hours! How did you manage that?'

'In this way. I started a few minutes after twelve from the inn--I on
foot, the car to overtake me.' And he went on to give a narrative of his
wanderings over the bog, imitating, as well as he could, the driver's
conversations with him, and the reproaches he vented on his inattention to
the road. Kate enjoyed the story with all the humoristic fun of one who
knew thoroughly how the peasant had been playing with the gentleman, just
for the indulgence of that strange, sarcastic temper that underlies the
Irish nature; and she could fancy how much more droll it would have been to
have heard the narrative as told by the driver of the car.

'And don't you like his song, Mr. Walpole!'

'What, "The Wearing of the Green"? It was the dreariest dirge I ever
listened to.'

'Come, you shall not say so. When we go into the drawing-room, Nina shall
sing it for you, and I'll wager you recant your opinion.'

'And do you sing rebel canticles, Mademoiselle Kostalergi?'

'Yes, I do all my cousin bids me. I wear a red cloak. How is it called?'


Nina nodded.

'That's the name, but I'm not going to say it; and when we go abroad--that
is, on the bog there, for a walk--we dress in green petticoats and wear
very thick shoes.'

'And, in a word, are very generally barbarous.'

'Well, if you be really barbarians,' said Walpole, filling his glass, 'I
wonder what I would not give to be allowed to join the tribe.'

'Oh, you'd want to be a sachem, or a chief, or a mystery-man at least; and
we couldn't permit that,' cried Kate.

'No; I crave admission as the humblest of your followers.'

'Shall we put him to the test, Nina?'

'How do you mean?' cried the other.

'Make him take a Ribbon oath, or the pledge of a United Irishman. I've
copies of both in papa's study.'

'I should like to see these immensely,' said Walpole.

'I'll see if I can't find them,' cried Kate, rising and hastening away.

For some seconds after she left the room there was perfect silence. Walpole
tried to catch Nina's eye before he spoke, but she continued steadily to
look down, and did not once raise her lids.

'Is she not very nice--is she not very beautiful?' asked she, in a low

'It is of _you_ I want to speak.'

And he drew his chair closer to her, and tried to take her hand, but she
withdrew it quickly, and moved slightly away.

'If you knew the delight it is to me to see you again, Nina--well,
Mademoiselle Kostalergi. Must it be Mademoiselle?'

'I don't remember it was ever "Nina,"' said she coldly.

'Perhaps only in my thoughts. To my heart, I can swear, you were Nina. But
tell me how you came here, and when, and for how long, for I want to know
all. Speak to me, I beseech you. She'll be back in a moment, and when shall
I have another instant alone with you like this? Tell me how you came
amongst them, and are they really all rebels?'

Kate entered at the instant, saying, 'I can't find it, but I'll have a good
search to-morrow, for I know it's there.'

'Do, by all means, Kate, for Mr. Walpole is very anxious to learn if he be
admitted legitimately into this brotherhood--whatever it be; he has just
asked me if we were really all rebels here.'

'I trust he does not suppose I would deceive him,' said Kate gravely. 'And
when he hears you sing "The blackened hearth--the fallen roof," he'll not
question _you_, Nina.--Do you know that song, Mr. Walpole?'

He smiled as he said 'No.'

'Won't it be so nice,' said she, 'to catch a fresh ingenuous Saxon
wandering innocently over the Bog of Allen, and send him back to his
friends a Fenian!'

'Make me what you please, but don't send me away.'

'Tell me, really, what would you do if we made you take the oath?'

'Betray you, of course, the moment I got up to Dublin.'

Nina's eyes flashed angrily, as though such jesting was an offence.

'No, no, the shame of such treason would be intolerable; but you'd go your
way and behave as though you never saw us.'

'Oh, he could do that without the inducement of a perjury,' said Nina, in
Italian; and then added aloud, 'Let's go and make some music. Mr. Walpole
sings charmingly, Kate, and is very obliging about it--at least he used to

[Illustration: 'How that song makes me wish we were back again where I
heard it first']

'I am all that I used to be--towards that,' whispered he, as she passed him
to take Kate's arm and walk away.

'You don't mean to have a thick neighbourhood about you,' said Walpole.
'Have you any people living near?'

'Yes, we have a dear old friend--a Miss O'Shea, a maiden lady, who lives a
few miles off. By the way, there's something to show you--an old maid who
hunts her own harriers.'

'What! are you in earnest?'

'On my word, it is true! Nina can't endure her; but Nina doesn't care for
hare-hunting, and, I'm afraid to say, never saw a badger drawn in her

'And have you?' asked he, almost with horror in his tone.

'I'll show you three regular little turnspit dogs to-morrow that will
answer that question.'

'How I wish Lockwood had come out here with me,' said Walpole, almost
uttering a thought.

'That is, you wish he had seen a bit of barbarous Ireland he'd scarcely
credit from mere description. But perhaps I'd have been better behaved
before him. I'm treating you with all the freedom of an old friend of my

Nina had meanwhile opened the piano, and was letting her hands stray over
the instrument in occasional chords; and then in a low voice, that barely
blended its tones with the accompaniment, she sang one of those little
popular songs of Italy, called 'Stornelli'---wild, fanciful melodies, with
that blended gaiety and sadness which the songs of a people are so often
marked by.

'That is a very old favourite of mine,' said Walpole, approaching the piano
as noiselessly as though he feared to disturb the singer; and now he stole
into a chair at her side. 'How that song makes me wish we were back again,
where I heard it first,' whispered he gently.

'I forget where that was,' said she carelessly.

'No, Nina, you do not,' said he eagerly; 'it was at Albano, the day we all
went to Pallavicini's villa.'

'And I sang a little French song, "_Si vous n'avez rien me dire_," which
you were vain enough to imagine was a question addressed to yourself; and
you made me a sort of declaration; do you remember all that?'

'Every word of it.'

'Why don't you go and speak to my cousin; she has opened the window and
gone out upon the terrace, and I trust you understand that she expects you
to follow her.' There was a studied calm in the way she spoke that showed
she was exerting considerable self-control.

'No, no, Nina, it is with you I desire to speak; to see you that I have
come here.'

'And so you do remember that you made me a declaration? It made me laugh
afterwards as I thought it over.'

'Made you laugh!'

'Yes, I laughed to myself at the ingenious way in which you conveyed to me
what an imprudence it was in you to fall in love with a girl who had no
fortune, and the shock it would give your friends when they should hear she
was a Greek.'

'How can you say such painful things, Nina? how can you be so pitiless as

'It was you who had no pity, sir; I felt a deal of pity; I will not deny it
was for myself. I don't pretend to say that I could give a correct version
of the way in which you conveyed to me the pain it gave you that I was not
a princess, a Borromeo, or a Colonna, or an Altieri. That Greek adventurer,
yes--you cannot deny it, I overheard these words myself. You were talking
to an English girl, a tall, rather handsome person she was--I shall
remember her name in a moment if you cannot help me to it sooner--a Lady

'Yes, there was a Lady Maude Bickerstaffe; she merely passed through Rome
for Naples.'

'You called her a cousin, I remember.'

'There is some cousinship between us; I forget exactly in what degree.'

'Do try and remember a little more; remember that you forgot you had
engaged me for the cotillon, and drove away with that blonde beauty--and
she was a beauty, or had been a few years before--at all events, you lost
all memory of the daughter of the adventurer.'

'You will drive me distracted, Nina, if you say such things.'

'I know it is wrong and it is cruel, and it is worse than wrong and cruel,
it is what you English call underbred, to be so individually disagreeable,
but this grievance of mine has been weighing very heavily on my heart, and
I have been longing to tell you so.'

'Why are you not singing, Nina?' cried Kate from the terrace. 'You told me
of a duet, and I think you are bent on having it without music.'

'Yes, we are quarrelling fiercely,' said Nina. 'This gentleman has been
rash enough to remind me of an unsettled score between us, and as he is the

'I dispute the debt.'

'Shall I be the judge between you?' asked Kate.

'On no account; my claim once disputed, I surrender it,' said Nina.

'I must say you are very charming company. You won't sing, and you'll only
talk to say disagreeable things. Shall I make tea, and see if it will
render you more amiable?'

'Do so, dearest, and then show Mr. Walpole the house; he has forgotten what
brought him here, I really believe.'

'You know that I have not,' muttered he, in a tone of deep meaning.

'There's no light now to show him the house; Mr. Walpole must come
to-morrow, when papa will be at home and delighted to see him.'

'May I really do this?'

'Perhaps, besides, your friend will have found the little inn so
insupportable, that he too will join us. Listen to that sigh of poor Nina's
and you'll understand what it is to be dreary!'

'No; I want my tea.'

'And it shall have it,' said Kate, kissing her with a petting affectation
as she left the room.

'Now one word, only one,' said Walpole, as he drew his chair close to her:
'If I swear to you--'

'What's that? who is Kate angry with?' cried Nina, rising and rushing
towards the door. 'What has happened?'

'I'll tell you what has happened,' said Kate, as with flashing eyes and
heightened colour she entered the room. 'The large gate of the outer yard,
that is every night locked and strongly barred at sunset, has been left
open, and they tell me that three men have come in, Sally says five, and
are hiding in some of the outhouses.'

'What for? Is it to rob, think you?' asked Walpole.

'It is certainly for nothing good. They all know that papa is away, and
the house so far unprotected,' continued Kate calmly. 'We must find out
to-morrow who has left the gate unbolted. This was no accident, and now
that they are setting fire to the ricks all round us, it is no time for

'Shall we search the offices and the outbuildings?' asked Walpole.

'Of course not; we must stand by the house and take care that they do not
enter it. It's a strong old place, and even if they forced an entrance
below, they couldn't set fire to it.'

'Could they force their way up?' asked Walpole.

'Not if the people above have any courage. Just come and look at the stair;
it was made in times when people thought of defending themselves.' They
issued forth now together to the top of the landing, where a narrow, steep
flight of stone steps descended between two walls to the basement-storey.
A little more than half-way down was a low iron gate or grille of
considerable strength; though, not being above four feet in height, it
could have been no great defence, which seemed, after all, to have been its
intention. 'When this is closed,' said Kate, shutting it with a heavy bang,
'it's not such easy work to pass up against two or three resolute people at
the top; and see here,' added she, showing a deep niche or alcove in the
wall, 'this was evidently meant for the sentry who watched the wicket: he
could stand here out of the reach of all fire.'

'Would you not say she was longing for a conflict?' said Nina, gazing at

'No, but if it comes I'll not decline it.'

'You mean you'll defend the stair?' asked Walpole.

She nodded assent.

'What arms have you?'

'Plenty; come and look at them. Here,' said she, entering the dining-room,
and pointing to a large oak sideboard covered with weapons, 'Here is
probably what has led these people here. They are going through the country
latterly on every side, in search of arms. I believe this is almost the
only house where they have not called.'

'And do they go away quietly when their demands are complied with?'

'Yes, when they chance upon people of poor courage, they leave them with
life enough to tell the story.--What is it, Mathew?' asked she of the old
serving-man who entered the room.

'It's the "boys," miss, and they want to talk to you, if you'll step out on
the terrace. They don't mean any harm at all.'

'What do they want, then?'

'Just a spare gun or two, miss, or an ould pistol, or a thing of the kind
that was no use.'

'Was it not brave of them to come here, when my father was from home?
Aren't they fine courageous creatures to come and frighten two lone
girls--eh, Mat?'

'Don't anger them, miss, for the love of Joseph! don't say anything hard;
let me hand them that ould carbine there, and the fowling-piece; and if
you'd give them a pair of horse-pistols, I'm sure they'd go away quiet.'

A loud noise of knocking, as though with a stone, at the outer door, broke
in upon the colloquy, and Kate passed into the drawing-room, and opened
the window, out upon the stone terrace which overlooked the yard: 'Who is
there?--who are you?--what do you want?' cried she, peering down into the
darkness, which, in the shadow of the house, was deeper.

'We've come for arms,' cried a deep hoarse voice.

'My father is away from home--come and ask for them when he's here to
answer you.'

A wild, insolent laugh from below acknowledged what they thought of this

'Maybe that was the rayson we came now, miss,' said a voice, in a lighter

'Fine courageous fellows you are to say so! I hope Ireland has more of such
brave patriotic men.'

'You'd better leave that, anyhow,' said another, and as he spoke he
levelled and fired, but evidently with intention to terrify rather than
wound, for the plaster came tumbling down from several feet above her head;
and now the knocking at the door was redoubled, and with a noise that
resounded through the house.

'Wouldn't you advise her to give up the arms and let them go?' said Nina,
in a whisper to Walpole; but though she was deadly pale there was no tremor
in her voice.

'The door is giving way, the wood is completely rotten. Now for the stairs.
Mr. Walpole, you're going to stand by me?'

'I should think so, but I'd rather you'd remain here. I know my ground

'No, I must be beside you. You'll have to keep a rolling fire, and I can
load quicker than most people. Come along now, we must take no light with
us--follow me.'

'Take care,' said Nina to Walpole as he passed, but with an accent so full
of a strange significance it dwelt on his memory long after.

'What was it Nina whispered you as you came by?' said Kate.

'Something about being cautious, I think,' said he carelessly.

'Stay where you are, Mathew,' said the girl, in a severe tone, to the old
servant, who was officiously pressing forward with a light.

'Go back!' cried she, as he persisted in following her.

'That's the worst of all our troubles here, Mr. Walpole,' said she boldly;
'you cannot depend on the people of your own household. The very people you
have nursed in sickness, if they only belong to some secret association,
will betray you!' She made no secret of her words, but spoke them loud
enough to be heard by the group of servants now gathered on the landing.
Noiseless she tripped down the stairs, and passed into the little dark
alcove, followed by Walpole, carrying any amount of guns and carbines under
his arm.

'These are loaded, I presume?' said he.

'All, and ready capped. The short carbine is charged with a sort of
canister shot, and keep it for a short range--if they try to pass over
the iron gate. Now mind me, and I will give you the directions I heard my
father give on this spot once before. Don't fire till they reach the foot
of the stair.'

'I cannot hear you,' said he, for the din beneath, where they battered at
the door, was now deafening.

'They'll be in in another moment--there, the lock has fallen off--the door
has given way,' whispered she; 'be steady now, no hurry--steady and calm.'

As she spoke, the heavy oak door fell to the ground, and a perfect silence
succeeded to the late din. After an instant, muttering whispers could be
heard, and it seemed as if they doubted how far it was safe to enter, for
all was dark within. Something was said in a tone of command, and at the
moment one of the party flung forward a bundle of lighted straw and tow,
which fell at the foot of the stairs, and for a few seconds lit up the
place with a red lurid gleam, showing the steep stair and the iron bars of
the little gate that crossed it.

'There's the iron wicket they spoke of,' cried one. 'All right, come on!'
And the speaker led the way, cautiously, however, and slowly, the others
after him.

'No, not yet,' whispered Kate, as she pressed her hand upon Walpole's.

'I hear voices up there,' cried the leader from below. 'We'll make them
leave that, anyhow.' And he fired off his gun in the direction of the upper
part of the stair; a quantity of plaster came clattering down as the ball
struck the ceiling.

'Now,' said she. 'Now, and fire low!'

He discharged both barrels so rapidly that the two detonations blended
into one, and the assailants replied by a volley, the echoing din almost
sounding like artillery. Fast as Walpole could fire, the girl replaced
the piece by another; when suddenly she cried, 'There is a fellow at the
gate--the carbine--the carbine now, and steady.' A heavy crash and a cry
followed his discharge, and snatching the weapon from him, she reloaded and
handed it back with lightning speed. 'There is another there,' whispered
she; and Walpole moved farther out, to take a steadier aim. All was still,
not a sound to be heard for some seconds, when the hinges of the gate
creaked and the bolt shook in the lock. Walpole fired again, but as he did
so, the others poured in a rattling volley, one shot grazing his cheek,
and another smashing both bones of his right arm, so that the carbine fell
powerless from his hand. The intrepid girl sprang to his side at once, and
then passing in front of him, she fired some shots from a revolver in quick
succession. A low, confused sound of feet and a scuffling noise followed,
when a rough, hoarse voice cried out, 'Stop firing; we are wounded, and
going away.'

'Are you badly hurt?' whispered Kate to Walpole.

'Nothing serious: be still and listen!'

'There, the carbine is ready again. Oh, you cannot hold it--leave it to
me,' said she.

From the difficulty of removal, it seemed as though one of the party
beneath was either killed or badly wounded, for it was several minutes
before they could gain the outer door.

'Are they really retiring?' whispered Walpole.

'Yes; they seem to have suffered heavily.'

'Would you not give them one shot at parting--that carbine is charged?'
asked he anxiously.

'Not for worlds,' said she; 'savage as they are, it would be ruin to break
faith with them.'

'Give me a pistol, my left hand is all right.' Though he tried to speak
with calmness, the agony of pain he was suffering so overcame him that he
leaned his head down, and rested it on her shoulder.

'My poor, poor fellow,' said she tenderly, 'I would not for the world that
this had happened.'

'They're gone, Miss Kate, they've passed out at the big gate, and they're
off,' whispered old Mathew, as he stood trembling behind her.

'Here, call some one, and help this gentleman up the stairs, and get a
mattress down on the floor at once; send off a messenger, Sally, for Doctor
Tobin. He can take the car that came this evening, and let him make what
haste he can.'

'Is he wounded?' said Nina, as they laid him down on the floor. Walpole
tried to smile and say something, but no sound came forth.

'My own dear, dear Cecil,' whispered Nina, as she knelt and kissed his
hand, 'tell me it is not dangerous.' He had fainted.



The wounded man had just fallen into a first sleep after his disaster, when
the press of the capital was already proclaiming throughout the land the
attack and search for arms at Kilgobbin Castle. In the National papers a
very few lines were devoted to the event; indeed, their tone was one of
party sneer at the importance given by their contemporaries to a very
ordinary incident. 'Is there,' asked the _Convicted Felon_, 'anything very
strange or new in the fact that Irishmen have determined to be armed? Is
English legislation in this country so marked by justice, clemency, and
generosity that the people of Ireland prefer to submit their lives and
fortunes to its sway, to trusting what brave men alone trust in--their
fearlessness and their daring? What is there, then, so remarkable in the
repairing to Mr. Kearney's house for a loan of those weapons of which his
family for several generations have forgotten the use?' In the Government
journals the story of the attack was headed, 'Attack on Kilgobbin Castle.
Heroic resistance by a young lady'; in which Kate Kearney's conduct was
described in colours of extravagant eulogy. She was alternately Joan of Arc
and the Maid of Saragossa, and it was gravely discussed whether any and
what honours of the Crown were at Her Majesty's disposal to reward such
brilliant heroism. In another print of the same stamp the narrative began:
'The disastrous condition of our country is never displayed in darker
colours than when the totally unprovoked character of some outrage has
to be recorded by the press. It is our melancholy task to present such a
case as this to our readers to-day. If it was our wish to exhibit to a
stranger the picture of an Irish estate in which all the blessings of good
management, intelligence, kindliness, and Christian charity were displayed;
to show him a property where the wellbeing of landlord and tenant were
inextricably united, where the condition of the people, their dress, their
homes, their food, and their daily comforts, could stand comparison with
the most favoured English county, we should point to the Kearney estate
of Kilgobbin; and yet it is here, in the very house where his ancestors
have resided for generations, that a most savage and dastardly attack is
made; and if we feel a sense of shame in recording the outrage, we are
recompensed by the proud elation with which we can recount the repulse--the
noble and gallant achievement of an Irish girl. History has the record of
more momentous feats, but we doubt that there is one in the annals of any
land in which a higher heroism was displayed than in this splendid defence
by Miss Kearney.' Then followed the story; not one of the papers having any
knowledge of Walpole's presence on the occasion, or the slightest suspicion
that she was aided in any way.

Joe Atlee was busily engaged in conning over and comparing these somewhat
contradictory reports, as he sat at his breakfast, his chum Kearney being
still in bed and asleep after a late night at a ball. At last there came a
telegraphic despatch for Kearney; armed with which, Joe entered the bedroom
and woke him.

'Here's something for you, Dick,' cried he. 'Are you too sleepy to read

'Tear it open and see what it is, like a good fellow,' said the other

'It's from your sister--at least, it is signed Kate. It says: "There is no
cause for alarm. All is going on well, and papa will be back this evening.
I write by this post."'

'What does all that mean?' cried Dick, in surprise.

'The whole story is in the papers. The boys have taken the opportunity of
your father's absence from home to make a demand for arms at your house,
and your sister, it seems, showed fight and beat them off. They talk of two
fellows being seen badly wounded, but, of course, that part of the story
cannot be relied on. That they got enough to make them beat a retreat is,
however, certain; and as they were what is called a strong party, the feat
of resisting them is no small glory for a young lady.'

'It was just what Kate was certain to do. There's no man with a braver

I wonder how the beautiful Greek behaved? I should like greatly to hear
what part she took in the defence of the citadel. Was she fainting or in
hysterics, or so overcome by terror as to be unconscious?'

'I'll make you any wager you like, Kate did the whole thing herself. There
was a Whiteboy attack to force the stairs when she was a child, and I
suppose we rehearsed that combat fully fifty--ay, five hundred times. Kate
always took the defence, and though we were sometimes four to one, she kept
us back.'

'By Jove! I think I should be afraid of such a young lady.'

'So you would. She has more pluck in her heart than half that blessed
province you come from. That's the blood of the old stock you are often
pleased to sneer at, and of which the present will be a lesson to teach you

'May not the lovely Greek be descended from some ancient stock too? Who is
to say what blood of Pericles she had not in her veins? I tell you I'll not
give up the notion that she was a sharer in this glory.'

'If you've got the papers with the account, let me see them, Joe. I've half
a mind to run down by the night-mail--that is, if I can. Have you got any
tin, Atlee?'

'There were some shillings in one of my pockets last night. How much do you

'Eighteen-and-six first class, and a few shillings for a cab.'

'I can manage that; but I'll go and fetch you the papers, there's time
enough to talk of the journey.'

The newsman had just deposited the _Croppy_ on the table as Joe returned
to the breakfast-table, and the story of Kilgobbin headed the first column
in large capitals. 'While our contemporaries,' it began, 'are recounting
with more than their wonted eloquence the injuries inflicted on three poor
labouring men, who, in their ignorance of the locality, had the temerity to
ask for alms at Kilgobbin Castle yesterday evening, and were ignominiously
driven away from the door by a young lady, whose benevolence was
administered through a blunderbuss, we, who form no portion of the polite
press, and have no pretension to mix in what are euphuistically called the
"best circles" of this capital, would like to ask, for the information of
those humble classes among which our readers are found, is it the custom
for young ladies to await the absence of their fathers to entertain
young gentlemen tourists? and is a reputation for even heroic courage
not somewhat dearly purchased at the price of the companionship of the
admittedly most profligate man of a vicious and corrupt society? The
heroine who defended Kilgobbin can reply to our query.'

Joe Atlee read this paragraph three times over before he carried in the
paper to Kearney.

'Here's an insolent paragraph, Dick,' he cried, as he threw the paper to
him on the bed. 'Of course it's a thing cannot be noticed in any way, but
it's not the less rascally for that.'

'You know the fellow who edits this paper, Joe?' said Kearney, trembling
with passion.

'No; my friend is doing his bit of oakum at Kilmainham. They gave him
thirteen months, and a fine that he'll never be able to pay; but what would
you do if the fellow who wrote it were in the next room at this moment?'

'Thrash him within an inch of his life.'

'And, with the inch of life left him, he'd get strong again and write at
you and all belonging to you every day of his existence. Don't you see
that all this license is one of the prices of liberty? There's no guarding
against excesses when you establish a rivalry. The doctors could tell you
how many diseased lungs and aneurisms are made by training for a rowing

'I'll go down by the mail to-night and see what has given the origin to
this scandalous falsehood.'

'There's no harm in doing that, especially if you take me with you.'

'Why should I take you, or for what?'

'As guide, counsellor, and friend.'

'Bright thought, when all the money we can muster between us is only enough
for one fare.'

'Doubtless, first class; but we could go third class, two of us for the
same money. Do you imagine that Damon and Pythias would have been separated
if it came even to travelling in a cow compartment?'

'I wish you could see that there are circumstances in life where the comic
man is out of place.'

'I trust I shall never discover them; at least, so long as Fate treats me
with "heavy tragedy."'

'I'm not exactly sure, either, whether they 'd like to receive you just now
at Kilgobbin.'

'Inhospitable thought! My heart assures me of a most cordial welcome.'

'And I should only stay a day or two at farthest.'

'Which would suit me to perfection. I must be back here by Tuesday if I had
to walk the distance.'

'Not at all improbable, so far as I know of your resources.'

'What a churlish dog it is! Now had you, Master Dick, proposed to me that
we should go down and pass a week at a certain small thatched cottage
on the banks of the Ban, where a Presbyterian minister with eight olive
branches vegetates, discussing tough mutton and tougher theology on
Sundays, and getting through the rest of the week with the parables and
potatoes, I'd have said, Done!'

'It was the inopportune time I was thinking of. Who knows what confusion
this event may not have thrown them into? If you like to risk the
discomfort, I make no objection.'

'To so heartily expressed an invitation there can be but one answer, I

'Now look here, Joe, I'd better be frank with you: don't try it on at
Kilgobbin as you do with me.'

'You are afraid of my insinuating manners, are you?'

'I am afraid of your confounded impudence, and of that notion you cannot
get rid of, that your cool familiarity is a fashionable tone.'

'How men mistake themselves. I pledge you my word, if I was asked what was
the great blemish in my manner, I'd have said it was bashfulness.'

'Well, then, it is not!'

'Are you sure, Dick, are you quite sure?'

'I am quite sure, and unfortunately for you, you'll find that the majority
agree with me.'

'"A wise man should guard himself against the defects that he might have,
without knowing it." That is a Persian proverb, which you will find in
_Hafiz_. I believe you never read _Hafiz_!'

'No, nor you either.'

'That's true; but I can make my own _Hafiz_, and just as good as the real
article. By the way, are you aware that the water-carriers at Tehran sing
_Lalla Rookh_, and believe it a national poem?'

'I don't know, and I don't care.'

'I'll bring down an _Anacreon_ with me, and see if the Greek cousin can
spell her way through an ode.'

'And I distinctly declare you shall do no such thing.'

'Oh dear, oh dear, what an unamiable trait is envy! By the way, was that
your frock-coat I wore yesterday at the races?'

'I think you know it was; at least you remembered it when you tore the

'True, most true; that torn sleeve was the reason the rascal would only let
me have fifteen shillings on it.'

'And you mean to say you pawned my coat?'

'I left it in the temporary care of a relative, Dick; but it is a
redeemable mortgage, and don't fret about it.'

'Ever the same!'

'No, Dick, that means worse and worse! Now, I am in the process of
reformation. The natural selection, however, where honesty is in the
series, is a slow proceeding, and the organic changes are very complicated.
As I know, however, you attach value to the effect you produce in that
coat, I'll go and recover it. I shall not need Terence or Juvenal till we
come back, and I'll leave them in the avuncular hands till then.'

'I wonder you're not ashamed of these miserable straits.'

'I am very much ashamed of the world that imposes them on me. I'm
thoroughly ashamed of that public in lacquered leather, that sees
me walking in broken boots. I'm heartily ashamed of that well-fed,
well-dressed, sleek society, that never so much as asked whether the
intellectual-looking man in the shabby hat, who looked so lovingly at the
spiced beef in the window, had dined yet, or was he fasting for a wager?'

'There, don't carry away that newspaper; I want to read over that pleasant
paragraph again!'



The two friends were deposited at the Moate station at a few minutes after
midnight, and their available resources amounting to something short of two
shillings, and the fare of a car and horse to Kilgobbin being more than
three times that amount, they decided to devote their small balance to
purposes of refreshment, and then set out for the castle on foot.

'It is a fine moonlight; I know all the short cuts, and I want a bit of
walking besides,' said Kearney; and though Joe was of a self-indulgent
temperament, and would like to have gone to bed after his supper and
trusted to the chapter of accidents to reach Kilgobbin by a conveyance some
time, any time, he had to yield his consent and set out on the road.

'The fellow who comes with the letter-bag will fetch over our portmanteau,'
said Dick, as they started.

'I wish you'd give him directions to take charge of me, too,' said Joe, who
felt very indisposed to a long walk.

'I like _you_,' said Dick sneeringly; 'you are always telling me that you
are the sort of fellow for a new colony, life in the bush, and the rest
of it, and when it conies to a question of a few miles' tramp on a bright
night in June, you try to skulk it in every possible way. You're a great
humbug, Master Joe.'

'And you a very small humbug, and there lies the difference between us.
The combinations in your mind are so few, that, as in a game of only three
cards, there is no skill in the playing; while in my nature, as in that
game called tarocco, there are half-a-dozen packs mixed up together, and
the address required to play them is considerable.'

'You have a very satisfactory estimate of your own abilities, Joe.'

'And why not? If a clever fellow didn't know he was clever, the opinion of
the world on his superiority would probably turn his brain.'

'And what do you say if his own vanity should do it?'

'There is really no way of explaining to a fellow like you--'

'What do you mean by a fellow like me?' broke in Dick, somewhat angrily.

'I mean this, that I'd as soon set to work to explain the theory of
exchequer bonds to an Eskimo, as to make an unimaginative man understand
something purely speculative. What you, and scores of fellows like you,
denominate vanity, is only another form of hopefulness. You and your
brethren--for you are a large family--do you know what it is to Hope! that
is, you have no idea of what it is to build on the foundation of certain
qualities you recognise in yourself, and to say that "if I can go so far
with such a gift, such another will help me on so much farther."'

'I tell you one thing I do hope, which is, that the next time I set out
a twelve miles' walk, I'll have a companion less imbued with

'And you might and might not find him pleasanter company. Cannot you see,
old fellow, that the very things you object to in me are what are wanting
in you? they are, so to say, the compliments of your own temperament.'

'Have you a cigar?'

'Two--take them both. I'd rather talk than smoke just now.'

'I am almost sorry for it, though it gives me the tobacco.'

'Are we on your father's property yet?'

'Yes; part of that village we came through belongs to us, and all this bog
here is ours.'

'Why don't you reclaim it? labour costs a mere nothing in this country.
Why don't you drain those tracts, and treat the soil with lime? I'd live
on potatoes, I'd make my family live on potatoes, and my son, and my
grandson, for three generations, but I'd win this land back to culture and

'The fee-simple of the soil wouldn't pay the cost. It would be cheaper to
save the money and buy an estate.'

'That is one, and a very narrow view of it; but imagine the glory of
restoring a lost tract to a nation, welcoming back the prodigal, and
installing him in his place amongst his brethren. This was all forest once.
Under the shade of the mighty oaks here those gallant O'Caharneys your
ancestors followed the chase, or rested at noontide, or skedaddled in
double-quick before those smart English of the Pale, who I must say treated
your forbears with scant courtesy.'

'We held our own against them for many a year.'

'Only when it became so small it was not worth taking. Is not your father a

'He's a Liberal, but he troubles himself little about parties.'

'He's a stout Catholic, though, isn't he?'

'He is a very devout believer in his Church,' said Dick with the tone of
one who did not desire to continue the theme.

'Then why does he stop at Whiggery? why not go in for Nationalism and all
the rest of it?'

'And what's all the rest of it?'

'Great Ireland--no first flower of the earth or gem of the sea humbug--but
Ireland great in prosperity, her harbours full of ships, the woollen trade,
her ancient staple, revived: all that vast unused water-power, greater than
all the steam of Manchester and Birmingham tenfold, at full work; the linen
manufacture developed and promoted--'

'And the Union repealed?'

'Of course; that should be first of all. Not that I object to the Union, as
many do, on the grounds of English ignorance as to Ireland. My dislike is,
that, for the sake of carrying through certain measures necessary to Irish

Book of the day: