Part 3 out of 12
interests, I must sit and discuss questions which have no possible concern
for me, and touch me no more than the debates in the Cortes, or the
Reichskammer at Vienna. What do you or I care for who rules India, or who
owns Turkey? What interest of mine is it whether Great Britain has five
ironclads or fifty, or whether the Yankees take Canada, and the Russians
'You're a Fenian, and I am not.'
'I suppose you'd call yourself an Englishman?'
'I am an English subject, and I owe my allegiance to England.'
'Perhaps for that matter, I owe some too; but I owe a great many things
that I don't distress myself about paying.'
'Whatever your sentiments are on these matters--and, Joe, I am not disposed
to think you have any very fixed ones--pray do me the favour to keep them
to yourself while under my father's roof. I can almost promise you he'll
obtrude none of his peculiar opinions on _you_, and I hope you will treat
_him_ with a like delicacy.'
'What will your folks talk, then? I can't suppose they care for books,
art, or the drama. There is no society, so there can be no gossip. If that
yonder be the cabin of one of your tenants, I'll certainly not start the
question of farming.'
'There are poor on every estate,' said Dick curtly.
'Now what sort of a rent does that fellow pay--five pounds a year?'
'More likely five-and-twenty or thirty shillings.'
'By Jove, I'd like to set up house in that fashion, and make love to some
delicately-nurtured miss, win her affections, and bring her home to such a
spot. Wouldn't that be a touchstone of affection, Dick?'
'If I could believe you were in earnest, I'd throw you neck and heels into
'Oh, if you would!' cried he, and there was a ring of truthfulness in his
voice now there could be no mistaking. Half-ashamed of the emotion his
idle speech had called up, and uncertain how best to treat the emergency,
Kearney said nothing, and Atlee walked on for miles without a word.
'You can see the house now. It tops the trees yonder,' said Dick.
'That is Kilgobbin Castle, then?' said Joe slowly.
'There's not much of castle left about it. There is a square block of a
tower, and you can trace the moat and some remains of outworks.'
'Shall I make you a confession, Dick? I envy you all that! I envy you what
smacks of a race, a name, an ancestry, a lineage. It's a great thing to be
able to "take up the running," as folks say, instead of making all the race
yourself; and there's one inestimable advantage in it, it rescues you from
all indecent haste about asserting your station. You feel yourself to be a
somebody and you've not hurried to proclaim it. There now, my boy, if you'd
have said only half as much as that on the score of your family, I'd have
called you an arrant snob. So much for consistency.'
'What you have said gave me pleasure, I'll own that.'
'I suppose it was you planted those trees there. It was a nice thought, and
makes the transition from the bleak bog to the cultivated land more easy
and graceful. Now I see the castle well. It's a fine portly mass against
the morning sky, and I perceive you fly a flag over it.'
'When the lord is at home.'
'Ay, and by the way, do you give him his title while talking to him here?'
'The tenants do, and the neighbours and strangers do as they please about
'Does he like it himself?'
'If I was to guess, I should perhaps say he does like it. Here we are now.
Inside this low gate you are within the demesne, and I may bid you welcome
to Kilgobbin. We shall build a lodge here one of these days. There's a good
stretch, however, yet to the castle. We call it two miles, and it's not far
short of it.'
'What a glorious morning. There is an ecstasy in scenting these nice fresh
woods in the clear sunrise, and seeing those modest daffodils make their
'That's a fancy of Kate's. There is a border of such wild flowers all the
way to the house.'
'And those rills of clear water that flank the road, are they of her
'That they are. There was a cutting made for a railroad line about four
miles from this, and they came upon a sort of pudding-stone formation, made
up chiefly of white pebbles. Kate heard of it, purchased the whole mass,
and had these channels paved with them from the gate to the castle, and
that's the reason this water has its crystal clearness.'
'She's worthy of Shakespeare's sweet epithet, the "daintiest Kate in
Christendom." Here's her health!' and he stooped down, and filling his palm
with the running water, drank it off.
'I see it's not yet five o'clock. We'll steal quietly off to bed, and have
three or four hours sleep before we show ourselves.'
Cecil Walpole occupied the state-room and the state-bed at Kilgobbin
Castle; but the pain of a very serious wound had left him very little
faculty to know what honour was rendered him, or of what watchful
solicitude he was the object. The fever brought on by his wound had
obliterated in his mind all memory of where he was; and it was only
now--that is, on the same morning that the young men had arrived at the
castle--that he was able to converse without much difficulty, and enjoy
the companionship of Lockwood, who had come over to see him and scarcely
quitted his bedside since the disaster.
It seems going on all right,' said Lockwood, as he lifted the iced cloths
to look at the smashed limb, which lay swollen and livid on a pillow
outside the clothes.
'It's not pretty to look at, Harry; but the doctor says "we shall save
it"--his phrase for not cutting it off.'
'They've taken up two fellows on suspicion, and I believe they were of the
party here that night.'
'I don't much care about that. It was a fair fight, and I suspect I did
not get the worst of it. What really does grieve me is to think how
ingloriously one gets a wound that in real war would have been a title of
'If I had to give a V.C. for this affair, it would be to that fine girl I'd
give it, and not to you, Cecil.'
'So should I. There is no question whatever as to our respective shares in
'And she is so modest and unaffected about it all, and when she was showing
me the position and the alcove, she never ceased to lay stress on the
safety she enjoyed during the conflict.'
'Then she said nothing about standing in front of me after I was wounded?'
'Not a word. She said a great deal about your coolness and indifference to
danger, but nothing about her own.'
'Well, I suppose it's almost a shame to own it--not that I could have done
anything to prevent it--but she did step down one step of the stair and
actually cover me from fire.'
'She's the finest girl in Europe,' said Lockwood warmly.
'And if it was not the contrast with her cousin, I'd almost say one of the
handsomest,' said Cecil.
'The Greek is splendid, I admit that, though she'll not speak--she'll
scarcely notice me.'
'How is that?'
'I can't imagine, except it might have been, an awkward speech I made when
we were talking over the row. I said, "Where were you? what were you doing
all this time? "'
'And what answer did she make you?'
'None; not a word. She drew herself proudly up, and opened her eyes so
large and full upon me, that I felt I must have appeared some sort of
monster to be so stared at.'
'I've seen her do that.'
'It was very grand and very beautiful; but I'll be shot if I'd like to
stand under it again. From that time to this she has never deigned me more
than a mere salutation.'
'And are you good friends with the other girl?'
'The best in the world. I don't see much of her, for she's always abroad,
over the farm, or among the tenants: but when we meet we are very cordial
'And the father, what is he like?'
'My lord is a glorious old fellow, full of hospitable plans and pleasant
projects; but terribly distressed to think that this unlucky incident
should prejudice you against Ireland. Indeed, he gave me to understand that
there must have been some mistake or misconception in the matter, for the
castle had never been attacked before; and he insists on saying that if
you will stop here--I think he said ten years--you'll not see another such
'It's rather a hard way to test the problem though.'
'What's more, he included me in the experiment.'
'And this title? Does he assume it, or expect it to be recognised?'
'I can scarcely tell you. The Greek girl "my lords" him occasionally; his
daughter, never. The servants always do so; and I take it that people use
their own discretion about it.'
'Or do it in a sort of indolent courtesy, as they call Marsala, sherry, but
take care at the same time to pass the decanter. I believe you telegraphed
to his Excellency?'
'Yes; and he means to come over next week.'
'Any news of Lady Maude?'
'Only that she comes with him, and I'm sorry for it.'
'So am I--deuced sorry! In a gossiping town like Dublin there will be
surely some story afloat about these handsome girls here. She saw the
Greek, too, at the Duke of Rigati's ball at Rome, and she never forgets a
name or a face. A pleasant trait in a wife.'
'Of course the best plan will be to get removed, and be safely installed in
our old quarters at the Castle before they arrive.'
'We must hear what the doctor says.'
'He'll say no, naturally, for he'll not like to lose his. patient. He will
have to convey you to town, and we'll try and make him believe it will be
the making of him. Don't you agree with me, Cecil, it's the thing to do?'
'I have not thought it over yet. I will to-day. By the way, I know it's the
thing to do,' repeated he, with an air of determination. 'There will be all
manner of reports, scandals, and falsehoods to no end about this business
here; and when Lady Maude learns, as she is sure to learn, that the "Greek
girl" is in the story, I cannot measure the mischief that may come of it.'
'Break off the match, eh?'
'That is certainly "on the cards."'
'I suspect even that would not break your heart.'
'I don't say it would, but it would prove very inconvenient in many ways.
Danesbury has great claims on his party. He came here as Viceroy dead
against his will, and, depend upon it, he made his terms. Then if these
people go out, and the Tories want to outbid them, Danesbury could
take--ay, and would take--office under them.'
'I cannot follow all that. All I know is, I like the old boy himself,
though he is a bit pompous now and then, and fancies he's Emperor of
'I wish his niece didn't imagine she was an imperial princess.'
'That she does! I think she is the haughtiest girl I ever met. To be sure
she was a great beauty.'
'_Was_, Harry! What do you mean by "was"? Lady Maude is not
'Ain't she, though? Will you have a ten-pound note on it that she's not
over thirty-one; and I can tell you who could decide the wager?'
'A delicate thought!--a fellow betting on the age of the girl he's going to
[Illustration: He entered and Nina arose as he came forward.]
'Ten o'clock!--nearly half-past ten!' said Lockwood, rising from his chair.
'I must go and have some breakfast. I meant to have been down in time
to-day, and breakfasted with the old fellow and his daughter; for coming
late brings me to a _tête-à-tête_ with the Greek damsel, and it isn't
jolly, I assure you.'
'Don't you speak?'
'Never a word?' She's generally reading a newspaper when I go in. She lays
it down; but after remarking that she fears I'll find the coffee cold, she
goes on with her breakfast, kisses her Maltese terrier, asks him a few
questions about his health, and whether he would like to be in a warmer
climate, and then sails away.'
'And how she walks!'
'Is she bored here?'
'She says not.'
'She can scarcely like these people; they 're not the sort of thing she has
ever been used to.'
'She tells me she likes them: they certainly like her.'
'Well,' said Lockwood, with a sigh, 'she's the most beautiful woman,
certainly, I've ever seen; and, at this moment, I'd rather eat a crust with
a glass of beer under a hedge than I'd go down and sit at breakfast with
'I'll be shot if I'll not tell her that speech the first day I'm down
'So you may, for by that time I shall have seen her for the last time.'
And with this he strolled out of the room and down the stairs towards the
As he stood at the door he heard the sound of voices laughing and talking
pleasantly. He entered, and Nina arose as he came forward, and said, 'Let
me present my cousin--Mr. Richard Kearney, Maior Lockwood; his friend, Mr.
The two young men stood up--Kearny stiff and haughty, and Atlee with a
sort of easy assurance that seemed to suit his good-looking but certainly
snobbish style. As for Lockwood, he was too much a gentleman to have more
than one manner, and he received these two men as he would have received
any other two of any rank anywhere.
'These gentlemen have been showing me some strange versions of our little
incident here in the Dublin papers,' said Nina to Lockwood. 'I scarcely
thought we should become so famous.'
'I suppose they don't stickle much for truth,' said Lockwood, as he broke
his egg in leisurely fashion.
'They were scarcely able to provide a special correspondent for the event,'
said Atlee; 'but I take it they give the main facts pretty accurately and
'Indeed!' said Lockwood, more struck by the manner than by the words of the
speaker. 'They mention, then, that my friend received a bad fracture of the
'No, I don't think they do; at least so far as I have seen. They speak of
a night attack on Kilgobbin Castle, made by an armed party of six or seven
men with faces blackened, and their complete repulse through the heroic
conduct of a young lady.'
'The main facts, then, include no mention of poor Walpole and his
'I don't think that we mere Irish attach any great importance to a broken
arm, whether it came of a cricket-ball or gun; but we do interest ourselves
deeply when an Irish girl displays feats of heroism and courage that men
find it hard to rival.'
'It was very fine,' said Lockwood gravely.
'Fine! I should think it was fine!' burst out Atlee. 'It was so fine that,
had the deed been done on the other side of this narrow sea, the nation
would not have been satisfied till your Poet Laureate had commemorated it
'Have they discovered any traces of the fellows?' said Lockwood, who
declined to follow the discussion into this channel.
'My father has gone over to Moate to-day,' said Kearney, now speaking for
the first time, 'to hear the examination of two fellows who have been taken
up on suspicion.'
'You have plenty of this sort of thing in your country,' said Atlee to
'Where do you mean when you say my country?'
'I mean Greece.'
'But I have not seen Greece since I was a child, so high; I have lived
always in Italy.'
'Well, Italy has Calabria and the Terra del Lavoro.'
'And how much do we in Rome know about either?'
'About as much,' said Lockwood, 'as Belgravia does of the Bog of Allen.'
'You'll return to your friends in civilised life with almost the fame of an
African traveller, Major Lockwood,' said Atlee pertly.
'If Africa can boast such hospitality, I certainly rather envy than
compassionate Doctor Livingstone,' said he politely.
'Somebody,' said Kearney dryly, 'calls hospitality the breeding of the
'But I deny that we are savage,' cried Atlee. 'I contend for it that
all our civilisation is higher, and that class for class we are in a
more advanced culture than the English; that your chawbacon is not as
intelligent a being as our bogtrotter; that your petty shopkeeper is
inferior to ours; that throughout our middle classes there is not only a
higher morality but a higher refinement than with you.'
'I read in one of the most accredited journals of England the other day
that Ireland had never produced a poet, could not even show a second-rate
humorist,' said Kearney.
'Swift and Sterne were third-rate, or perhaps, English,' said Atlee.
'These are themes I'll not attempt to discuss,' said Lockwood; 'but I
know one thing, it takes three times as much military force to govern the
'That is to say, to govern the country after _your_ fashion; but leave it
to ourselves. Pack your portmanteaus and go away, and then see if we'll
need this parade of horse, foot, and dragoons; these batteries of guns and
these brigades of peelers.'
'You'd be the first to beg us to come back again.'
'Doubtless, as the Greeks are begging the Turks. Eh, mademoiselle; can you
fancy throwing yourself at the feet of a Pasha and asking leave to be his
'The only Greek slave I ever heard of,' said Lockwood, 'was in marble and
made by an American.'
'Come into the drawing-room and I'll sing you something,' said Nina,
'Which will be far nicer and pleasanter than all this discussion,' said
'And if you'll permit me,' said Lockwood, 'we'll leave the drawing-room
door open and let poor Walpole hear the music.'
'Would it not be better first to see if he's asleep?' said she.
'That's true. I'll step up and see.'
Lockwood hurried away, and Joe Atlee, leaning back in his chair, said,
'Well, we gave the Saxon a canter, I think. As you know, Dick, that fellow
is no end of a swell.'
'You know nothing about him,' said the other gruffly.
'Only so much as newspapers could tell me. He's Master of the Horse in the
Viceroy's household, and the other fellow is Private Secretary, and some
connection besides. I say, Dick, it's all King James's times back again.
There has not been so much grandeur here for six or eight generations.'
'There has not been a more absurd speech made than that, within the time.'
'And he is really somebody?' said Nina to Atlee.
'A _gran signore davvero_,' said he pompously. 'If you don't sing your very
best for him, I'll swear you are a republican.'
'Come, take my arm, Nina. I may call you Nina, may I not?' whispered
'Certainly, if I may call you Joe.'
'You may, if you like,' said he roughly, 'but my name is Dick.'
'I am Beppo, and very much at your orders,' said Atlee, stepping forward
and leading her away.
They were assembled in the drawing-room before dinner, when Lord Kilgobbin
arrived, heated, dusty, and tired, after his twelve miles' drive. 'I say,
girls,' said he, putting his head inside the door, 'is it true that our
distinguished guest is not coming down to dinner, for, if so, I'll not wait
'No, papa; he said he'd stay with Mr. Walpole. They've been receiving and
despatching telegrams all day, and seem to have the whole world on their
hands,' said Kate.
'Well, sir, what did you do at the sessions?'
'Yes, my lord,' broke in Nina, eager to show her more mindful regard to his
rank than Atlee displayed; 'tell us your news?'
'I suspect we have got two of them, and are on the traces of the others.
They are Louth men, and were sent special here to give me a lesson, as they
call it. That's what our blessed newspapers have brought us to. Some idle
vagabond, at his wits' end for an article, fastens on some unlucky country
gentleman, neither much better nor worse than his neighbours, holds him
up to public reprobation, perfectly sure that within a week's time some
rascal who owes him a grudge--the fellow he has evicted for non-payment of
rent, the blackguard he prosecuted for perjury, or some other of the like
stamp--will write a piteous letter to the editor, relating his wrongs. The
next act of the drama is a notice on the hall door, with a coffin at the
top; and the piece closes with a charge of slugs in your body, as you are
on your road to mass. Now, if I had the making of the laws, the first
fellow I'd lay hands on would be the newspaper writer. Eh, Master Atlee, am
'I go with you to the furthest extent, my lord.'
'I vote we hang Joe, then,' cried Dick. 'He is the only member of the
fraternity I have any acquaintance with.'
'What--do you tell me that you write for the papers?' asked my lord slyly.
'He's quizzing, sir; he knows right well I have no gifts of that sort.'
'Here's dinner, papa. Will you give Nina your arm? Mr. Atlee, you are to
'You'll not agree with me, Nina, my dear,' said the old man, as he led her
along; 'but I'm heartily glad we have not that great swell who dined with
'I do agree with you, uncle--I dislike him.'
'Perhaps I am unjust to him; but I thought he treated us all with a sort of
bland pity that I found very offensive.'
'Yes; I thought that too. His manner seemed to say, "I am very sorry for
you, but what can be done?"'
'Is the other fellow--the wounded one--as bad?'
She pursed up her lip, slightly shrugged her shoulders, and then said,
'There's not a great deal to choose between them; but I think I like him
'How do you like Dick, eh?' said he, in a whisper.
'Oh, so much,' said she, with one of her half-downcast looks, but which
never prevented her seeing what passed in her neighbour's face.
'Well, don't let him fall in love with _you_,' said he, with a smile, 'for
it would be bad for you both.'
'But why should he?' said she, with an air of innocence.
'Just because I don't see how he is to escape it. What's Master Atlee
saying to you, Kitty?'
'He's giving me some hints about horse-breaking,' said she quietly.
'Is he, by George? Well, I 'd like to see him follow you over that fallen
timber in the back lawn. We'll have you out, Master Joe, and give you a
field-day to-morrow,' said the old man.
'I vote we do,' cried Dick; 'unless, better still, we could persuade Miss
Betty to bring the dogs over and give us a cub-hunt.'
'I want to see a cub-hunt,' broke in Nina.
'Do you mean that you ride to hounds, Cousin Nina?' asked Dick.
'I should think that any one who has taken the ox-fences on the Roman
Campagna, as I have, might venture to face your small stone-walls here.'
'That's plucky, anyhow; and I hope, Joe, it will put you on your metal to
show yourself worthy of your companionship. What is old Mathew looking so
mysteriously about? What do you want?'
The old servant thus addressed had gone about the room with the air of
one not fully decided to whom to speak, and at last he leaned over Miss
Kearney's shoulder, and whispered a few words in her ear. 'Of course not,
Mat!' said she, and then turning to her father--'Mat has such an opinion of
my medical skill, he wants me to see Mr. Walpole, who, it seems, has got
up, and evidently increased his pain by it.'
'Oh, but is there no doctor near us?' asked Nina eagerly.
'I'd go at once,' said Kate frankly, 'but my skill does not extend to
'I have some little knowledge in that way: I studied and walked the
hospitals for a couple of years,' broke out Joe. 'Shall I go up to him?'
'By all means,' cried several together, and Joe rose and followed Mathew
'Oh, are you a medical man?' cried Lockwood, as the other entered.
'After a fashion, I may say I am. At least, I can tell you where my skill
will come to its limit, and that is something.'
'Look here, then--he would insist on getting up, and I fear he has
displaced the position of the bones. You must be very gentle, for the pain
'No; there's no great mischief done--the fractured parts are in a proper
position. It is the mere pain of disturbance. Cover it all over with
the ice again, and'--here he felt his pulse--'let him have some weak
'That's sensible advice--I feel it. I am shivery all over,' said Walpole.
'I'll go and make a brew for you,' cried Joe, 'and you shall have it as hot
as you can drink it.'
He had scarcely left the room, when he returned with the smoking compound.
'You're such a jolly doctor,' said Walpole, 'I feel sure you'd not refuse
me a cigar?'
'Only think! that old barbarian who was here this morning said I was to
have nothing but weak tea or iced lemonade.'
Lockwood selected a mild-looking weed, and handed it to his friend, and was
about to offer one to Atlee, when he said--
'But we have taken you from your dinner--pray go back again.'
'No, we were at dessert. I'll stay here and have a smoke, if you will let
me. Will it bore you, though?'
'On the contrary,' said Walpole, 'your company will be a great boon to us;
and as for myself, you have done me good already.'
'What would you say, Major Lockwood, to taking my place below-stairs? They
are just sitting over their wine--some very pleasant claret--and the young
ladies, I perceive, here, give half an hour of their company before they
leave the dining-room.'
'Here goes, then,' said Lockwood. 'Now that you remind me of it, I do want
a glass of wine.'
Lockwood found the party below-stairs eagerly discussing Joe Atlee's
medical qualifications, and doubting whether, if it was a knowledge of
civil engineering or marine gunnery had been required, he would not have
been equally ready to offer himself for the emergency.
'I'll lay my life on it, if the real doctor arrives, Joe will take the lead
in the consultation,' cried Dick: 'he is the most unabashable villain in
'Well, he has put Cecil all right,' said Lockwood: 'he has settled the arm
most comfortably on the pillow, the pain is decreasing every moment, and by
his pleasant and jolly talk he is making Walpole even forget it at times.'
This was exactly what Atlee was doing. Watching carefully the sick man's
face, he plied him with just that amount of amusement that he could bear
without fatigue. He told him the absurd versions that had got abroad of the
incident in the press; and cautiously feeling his way, went on to tell
how Dick Kearney had started from town full of the most fiery intentions
towards that visitor whom the newspapers called a 'noted profligate' of
London celebrity. 'If you had not been shot before, we were to have managed
it for you now,' said he.
'Surely these fellows who wrote this had never heard of me.'
'Of course they had not, further than you were on the Viceroy's staff; but
is not that ample warranty for profligacy? Besides, the real intention was
not to assail you, but the people here who admitted you.' Thus talking, he
led Walpole to own that he had no acquaintanceship with the Kearneys, that
a mere passing curiosity to see the interesting house had provoked his
request, to which the answer, coming from an old friend, led to his visit.
Through this channel Atlee drew him on to the subject of the Greek girl
and her parentage. As Walpole sketched the society of Rome, Atlee, who had
cultivated the gift of listening fully as much as that of talking, knew
where to seem interested by the views of life thrown out, and where to show
a racy enjoyment of the little humoristic bits of description which the
other was rather proud of his skill in deploying; and as Atlee always
appeared so conversant with the family history of the people they were
discussing, Walpole spoke with unbounded freedom and openness.
'You must have been astonished to meet the "Titian Girl" in Ireland?' said
Joe at last, for he had caught up the epithet dropped accidentally in the
other's narrative, and kept it for use.
'Was I not! but if my memory had been clearer, I should have remembered she
had Irish connections. I had heard of Lord Kilgobbin on the other side of
'I don't doubt that the title would meet a readier acceptance there than
'Ah, you think so!' cried Walpole. 'What is the meaning of a rank that
people acknowledge or deny at pleasure? Is this peculiar to Ireland?'
'If you had asked whether persons anywhere else would like to maintain such
a strange pretension, I might perhaps have answered you.'
'For the few minutes of this visit to me, I liked him; he seemed frank,
hearty, and genial.'
'I suppose he is, and I suspect this folly of the lordship is no fancy of
'Nor the daughter's, then, I'll be bound?'
'No; the son, I take it, has all the ambition of the house.'
'Do you know them well?'
'No, I never saw them till yesterday. The son and I are chums: we live
together, and have done so these three years.'
'You like your visit here, however?'
'Yes. It's rather good fun on the whole. I was afraid of the indoor life
when I was coming down, but it's pleasanter than I looked for.'
'When I asked you the question, it was not out of idle curiosity. I had a
strong personal interest in your answer. In fact, it was another way of
inquiring whether it would be a great sacrifice to tear yourself away from
'No, inasmuch as the tearing-away process must take place in a couple of
days--three at farthest.'
'That makes what I have to propose all the easier. It is a matter of great
urgency for me to reach Dublin at once. This unlucky incident has been so
represented by the newspapers as to give considerable uneasiness to the
Government, and they are even threatened with a discussion on it in the
House. Now, I'd start to-morrow, if I thought I could travel with safety.
You have so impressed me with your skill, that, if I dared, I'd ask you to
convoy me up. Of course I mean as my physician.'
'But I'm not one, nor ever intend to be.'
'You studied, however?'
'As I have done scores of things. I know a little bit of criminal law, have
done some shipbuilding, rode _haute école_ in Cooke's circus, and, after M.
Dumas, I am considered the best amateur macaroni-maker in Europe.'
'And which of these careers do you intend to abide by?'
'None, not one of them. "Financing" is the only pursuit that pays largely.
I intend to go in for money.'
'I should like to hear your ideas on that subject.'
'So you shall, as we travel up to town.'
'You accept my offer, then?'
'Of course I do. I am delighted to have so many hours in your company. I
believe I can safely say I have that amount of skill to be of service
to you. One begins his medical experience with fractures. They are the
pothooks and hangers of surgery, and I have gone that far. Now, what are
'My plans are to leave this early to-morrow, so as to rest during the hot
hours of the day, and reach Dublin by nightfall. Why do you smile?'
'I smile at your notion of climate; but I never knew any man who had been
once in Italy able to disabuse himself of the idea that there were three
or four hours every summer day to be passed with closed shutters and iced
'Well, I believe I was thinking of a fiercer sun and a hotter soil than
these. To return to my project: we can find means of posting, carriage and
horses, in the village. I forget its name.'
'I'll take care of all that. At what hour will you start?'
'I should say by six or seven. I shall not sleep; and I shall be all
impatience till we are away.'
'Well, is there anything else to be thought of?'
'There is--that is, I have something on my mind, and I am debating with
myself how far, on a half-hour's acquaintance, I can make you a partner in
'I cannot help you by my advice. I can only say that if you like to trust
me, I'll know how to respect the confidence.'
Walpole looked steadily and steadfastly at him, and the examination seemed
to satisfy him, for he said, 'I will trust you--not that the matter is a
secret in any sense that involves consequences; but it is a thing that
needs a little tact and discretion, a slight exercise of a light hand,
which is what my friend Lockwood fails in. Now you could do it.'
'If I can, I will. What is it?'
'Well, the matter is this. I have written a few lines here, very illegibly
and badly, as you may believe, for they were with my left hand; and
besides having the letter conveyed to its address, I need a few words of
'The Titian Girl,' muttered Joe, as though thinking aloud.
'Why do you say so?'
'Oh, it was easy enough to see her greater anxiety and uneasiness about
you. There was an actual flash of jealousy across her features when Miss
Kearney proposed coming up to see you.'
'And was this remarked, think you?'
'Only by me. _I_ saw, and let her see I saw it, and we understood each
other from that moment.'
'I mustn't let you mistake me. You are not to suppose that there is
anything between Mademoiselle Kostalergi and myself. I knew a good deal
about her father, and there were family circumstances in which I was once
able to be of use; and I wished to let her know that if at any time she
desired to communicate with me, I could procure an address, under which she
could write with freedom.'
'As for instance: "J. Atlee, 48 Old Square, Trinity College, Dublin."'
'Well, I did not think of that at the moment,' said Walpole, smiling.
'Now,' continued he, 'though I have written all this, it is so blotted
and disgraceful generally--done with the left hand, and while in great
pain--that I think it would be as well not to send the letter, but simply a
Atlee nodded, and Walpole went on: 'A message to say that I was wishing to
write, but unable; and that if I had her permission, so soon as my fingers
could hold a pen, to finish--yes, to finish that communication I had
already begun, and if she felt there was no inconvenience in writing to me,
under cover to your care, I should pledge myself to devote all my zeal and
my best services to her interests.'
'In fact, I am to lead her to suppose she ought to have the most implicit
confidence in you, and to believe in me, because I say so.'
'I do not exactly see that these are my instructions to you.'
'Well, you certainly want to write to her.'
'I don't know that I do.'
'At all events, you want her to write to _you_.'
'You are nearer the mark now.'
'That ought not to be very difficult to arrange. I'll go down now and
have a cup of tea, and I may, I hope, come up and see you again before
'Wait one moment,' cried Walpole, as the other was about to leave the room.
'Do you see a small tray on that table yonder, with some trinkets? Yes,
that is it. Well, will you do me the favour to choose something amongst
them as your fee? Come, come, you know you are my doctor now, and I
insist on this. There's nothing of any value there, and you will have no
'Am I to take it haphazard?' asked Atlee.
'Whatever you like,' said the other indolently.
'I have selected a ring,' said Atlee, as he drew it on his finger.
'Not an opal?'
'Yes, it is an opal with brilliants round it.'
'I'd rather you'd taken all the rest than that. Not that I ever wear it,
but somehow it has a bit of memory attached to it!'
'Do you know,' said Atlee gravely, 'you are adding immensely to the value
I desired to see in it? I wanted something as a souvenir of you--what the
Germans call an _Andenken_, and here is evidently what has some secret clue
to your affections. It was not an old love-token?'
'No; or I should certainly not part with it.'
'It did not belong to a friend now no more?'
'Nor that either,' said he, smiling at the other's persistent curiosity.
'Then if it be neither the gift of an old love nor a lost friend, I'll not
relinquish it,' cried Joe.
'Be it so,' said Walpole, half carelessly. 'Mine was a mere caprice after
all. It is linked with a reminiscence--there's the whole of it; but if you
care for it, pray keep it.'
'I do care for it, and I will keep it.'
It was a very peculiar smile that curled Walpole's lip as he heard this
speech, and there was an expression in his eyes that seemed to say, 'What
manner of man is this, what sort of nature, new and strange to me, is he
'Bye-bye!' said Atlee carelessly, and he strolled away.
IN THE GARDEN AT DUSK
When Atlee quitted Walpole's room, he was far too full of doubt and
speculation to wish to join the company in the drawing-room. He had need
of time to collect his thoughts, too, and arrange his plans. This sudden
departure of his would, he well knew, displease Kearney. It would savour
of a degree of impertinence, in treating their hospitality so cavalierly,
that Dick was certain to resent, and not less certain to attribute to a
tuft-hunting weakness on Atlee's part of which he had frequently declared
he detected signs in Joe's character.
'Be it so. I'll only say, you'll not see me cultivate "swells" for the
pleasure of their society, or even the charms of their cookery. If I turn
them to no better uses than display, Master Dick, you may sneer freely at
me. I have long wanted to make acquaintance with one of these fellows, and
luck has now given me the chance. Let us see if I know how to profit by
And, thus muttering to himself, he took his way to the farmyard, to find a
messenger to despatch to the village for post-horses.
The fact that he was not the owner of a half-crown in the world very
painfully impressed itself on a negotiation, which, to be prompt, should be
prepaid, and which he was endeavouring to explain to two or three very idle
but very incredulous listeners--not one of whom could be induced to accept
a ten miles' tramp on a drizzling night without the prompting of a tip in
'It's every step of eight miles,' cried one.
'No, but it's ten,' asseverated another with energy, 'by rayson that you
must go by the road. There's nobody would venture across the bog in the
'Wid five shillings in my hand--'
'And five more when ye come back,' continued another, who was terrified at
the low estimate so rashly adventured.
'If one had even a shilling or two to pay for a drink when he got in to
Kilbeggan wet through and shivering--'
The speaker was not permitted to finish his ignominiously low proposal, and
a low growl of disapprobation smothered his words.
'Do you mean to tell me,' said Joe angrily, 'that there's not a man here
will step over to the town to order a chaise and post-horses?'
'And if yer honour will put his hand in his pocket and tempt us with a
couple of crown-pieces, there's no saying what we wouldn't do,' said a
little bandy old fellow, who was washing his face at the pump.
'And are crown-pieces so plentiful with you down here that you can earn
them so easily?' said Atlee, with a sneer.
'Be me sowl, yer honour, it's thinking that they're not so aisy to come at,
makes us a bit lazy this evening!' said a ragged fellow, with a grin, which
was quickly followed by a hearty laugh from those around him.
Something that sounded like a titter above his head made Atlee look up, and
there, exactly over where he stood, was Nina, leaning over a little stone
balcony in front of a window, an amused witness of the scene beneath.
'I have two words for yourself,' cried he to her in Italian. 'Will you come
down to the garden for one moment?'
'Cannot the two words be said in the drawing-room?' asked she, half
saucily, in the same language.
'No, they cannot be said in the drawing-room,' continued he sternly.
'It's dropping rain. I should get wet.'
'Take an umbrella, then, but come. Mind me, Signora Nina, I am the bearer
of a message for you.'
There was something almost disdainful in the toss of her head as she heard
these words, and she hastily retired from the balcony and entered the room.
Atlee watched her, by no means certain what her gesture might portend.
Was she indignant with him for the liberty he had taken? or was she about
to comply with his request, and meet him? He knew too little of her to
determine which was the more likely; and he could not help feeling that,
had he only known her longer, his doubt might have been just as great. Her
mind, thought he, is perhaps like my own: it has many turnings, and she's
never very certain which one of them she will follow. Somehow, this imputed
wilfulness gave her, to his eyes, a charm scarcely second to that of her
exceeding beauty. And what beauty it was! The very perfection of symmetry
in every feature when at rest, while the varied expressions of her face as
she spoke, or smiled, or listened, imparted a fascination which only needed
the charm of her low liquid voice to be irresistible.
How she vulgarises that pretty girl, her cousin, by mere contrast! What
subtle essence is it, apart from hair and eyes and skin, that spreads an
atmosphere of conquest over these natures, and how is it that men have no
ascendencies of this sort--nothing that imparts to their superiority the
sense that worship of them is in itself an ecstasy?
'Take my message into town,' said he to a fellow near, 'and you shall have
a sovereign when you come back with the horses'; and with this he strolled
away across a little paddock and entered the garden. It was a large,
ill-cultivated space, more orchard than garden, with patches of smooth
turf, through which daffodils and lilies were scattered, and little
clusters of carnations occasionally showed where flower-beds had once
existed. 'What would I not give,' thought Joe, as he strolled along the
velvety sward, over which a clear moonlight had painted the forms of many
a straggling branch--'What would I not give to be the son of a house like
this, with an old and honoured name, with an ancestry strong enough to
build upon for future pretensions, and then with an old home, peaceful,
tranquil, and unmolested, where, as in such a spot as this, one might dream
of great things, perhaps more, might achieve them! What books would I not
write! What novels, in which, fashioning the hero out of my own heart, I
could tell scores of impressions the world had made upon me in its aspect
of religion, or of politics, or of society! What essays could I not compose
here--the mind elevated by that buoyancy which comes of the consciousness
of being free for a great effort! Free from the vulgar interruptions that
cling to poverty like a garment, free from the paltry cares of daily
subsistence, free from the damaging incidents of a doubtful position and a
station that must be continually asserted. That one disparagement, perhaps,
worst of all,' cried he aloud: 'how is a man to enjoy his estate if he is
"put upon his title" every day of the week? One might as well be a French
Emperor, and go every spring to the country for a character.'
'What shocking indignity is this you are dreaming of?' said a very soft
voice near him, and turning he saw Nina, who was moving across the grass,
with her dress so draped as to show the most perfect instep and ankle with
a very unguarded indifference.
'This is very damp for you; shall we not come out into the walk?' said he.
'It is very damp,' said she quickly; 'but I came because you said you had a
message for me: is this true?'
'Do you think I could deceive you?' said he, with a sort of tender
'It might not be so very easy, if you were to try,' replied she, laughing.
'That is not the most gracious way to answer me.'
'Well, I don't believe we came here to pay compliments; certainly I did
not, and my feet are very wet already--look there, and see the ruin of a
_chaussure_ I shall never replace in this dear land of coarse leather and
As she spoke she showed her feet, around which her bronzed shoes hung limp
'Would that I could be permitted to dry them with my kisses,' said he, as,
stooping, he wiped them with his handkerchief, but so deferentially and so
respectfully, as though the homage had been tendered to a princess. Nor did
she for a moment hesitate to accept the service.
'There, that will do,' said she haughtily. 'Now for your message.'
'We are going away, mademoiselle,' said Atlee, with a melancholy tone.
'And who are "we," sir?'
'By "we," mademoiselle, I meant to convey Walpole and myself.' And now he
spoke with the irritation of one who had felt a pull-up.
'Ah, indeed!' said she, smiling, and showing her pearly teeth. '"We" meant
Mr. Walpole and Mr. Atlee.'
'You should never have guessed it?' cried he in question.
'Never--certainly,' was her cool rejoinder.
'Well! _He_ was less defiant, or mistrustful, or whatever be the name
for it. We were only friends of half-an-hour's growth when he proposed
the journey. He asked me to accompany him as a favour; and he did more,
mademoiselle: he confided to me a mission--a very delicate and confidential
mission--such an office as one does not usually depute to him of whose
fidelity or good faith he has a doubt, not to speak of certain smaller
qualities, such as tact and good taste.'
'Of whose possession Mr. Atlee is now asserting himself?' said she quietly.
He grew crimson at a sarcasm whose impassiveness made it all the more
'My mission was in this wise, mademoiselle,' said he, with a forced calm
in his manner. 'I was to learn from Mademoiselle Kostalergi if she should
desire to communicate with Mr. Walpole touching certain family interests in
which his counsels might be of use; and in this event, I was to place at
her disposal an address by which her letters should reach him.'
'No, sir,' said she quietly, 'you have totally mistaken any instructions
that were given you. Mr. Walpole never pretended that I had written or was
likely to write to him; he never said that he was in any way concerned
in family questions that pertained to me; least of all did he presume to
suppose that if I had occasion to address him by letter, I should do so
under cover to another.'
'You discredit my character of envoy, then?' said he, smiling easily.
'Totally and completely, Mr. Atlee; and I only wait for you yourself
to admit that I am right, to hold out my hand to you and say let us be
'I'd perjure myself twice at such a price. Now for the hand.'
'Not so fast--first the confession,' said she, with a faint smile.
'Well, on my honour,' cried he seriously, 'he told me he hoped you might
write to him. I did not clearly understand about what, but it pointed to
some matter in which a family interest was mixed up, and that you might
like your communication to have the reserve of secrecy.'
'All this is but a modified version of what you were to disavow.'
'Well, I am only repeating it now to show you how far I am going to perjure
'That is, you see, in fact, that Mr. Walpole could never have presumed to
give you such instructions--that gentlemen do not send such messages to
young ladies--do not presume to say that they dare do so; and last of all,
if they ever should chance upon one whose nice tact and cleverness would
have fitted him to be the bearer of such a commission, those same qualities
of tact and cleverness would have saved him from undertaking it. That is
what you see, Mr. Atlee, is it not?'
'You are right. I see it all.' And now he seized her hand and kissed it as
though he had won the right to that rapturous enjoyment.
She drew her hand away, but so slowly and so gently as to convey nothing of
rebuke or displeasure. 'And so you are going away?' said she softly.
'Yes; Walpole has some pressing reason to be at once in Dublin. He is
afraid to make the journey without a doctor; but rather than risk delay in
sending for one, he is willing to take _me_ as his body-surgeon, and I have
accepted the charge.'
The frankness with which he said this seemed to influence her in his
favour, and she said, with a tone of like candour, 'You were right.
His family are people of influence, and will not readily forget such a
Though he winced under the words, and showed that it was not exactly the
mode in which he wanted his courtesy to be regarded, she took no account of
the passing irritation, but went on--
If you fancy you know something about me, Mr. Atlee, _I_ know far more
about _you_. Your chum, Dick Kearney, has been so outspoken as to his
friend, that my cousin Kate and I have been accustomed to discuss you like
a near acquaintance--what am I saying?--I mean like an old friend.'
'I am very grateful for this interest; but will you kindly say what is
the version my friend Dick has given of me? what are the lights that have
fallen upon my humble character?'
[Illustration: 'You are right, I see it all,' and now he seized her hand
and kissed it]
'Do you fancy that either of us have time at this moment to open so large
a question? Would not the estimate of Mr. Joseph Atlee be another mode of
discussing the times we live in, and the young gentlemen, more or less
ambitious, who want to influence them? would not the question embrace
everything, from the difficulties of Ireland to the puzzling embarrassments
of a clever young man who has everything in his favour in life, except the
only thing that makes life worth living for?'
'You mean fortune--money?'
'Of course I mean money. What is so powerless as poverty? do I not know
it--not of yesterday, or the day before, but for many a long year? What so
helpless, what so jarring to temper, so dangerous to all principle, and so
subversive of all dignity? I can afford to say these things, and you can
afford to hear them, for there is a sort of brotherhood between us. We
claim the same land for our origin. Whatever our birthplace, we are both
She held out her hand as she spoke, and with such an air of cordiality and
frankness that Joe caught the spirit of the action at once, and, bending
over, pressed his lips to it, as he said, 'I seal the bargain.'
'And swear to it?'
'I swear to it,' cried he.
'There, that is enough. Let us go back, or rather, let me go back alone. I
will tell them I have seen you, and heard of your approaching departure.'
THE TWO 'KEARNEYS'
A visit to his father was not usually one of those things that young
Kearney either speculated on with pleasure beforehand, or much enjoyed
when it came. Certain measures of decorum, and some still more pressing
necessities of economy, required that he should pass some months of every
year at home; but they were always seasons looked forward to with a mild
terror, and when the time drew nigh, met with a species of dogged, fierce
resolution that certainly did not serve to lighten the burden of the
infliction; and though Kate's experience of this temper was not varied by
any exceptions, she would still go on looking with pleasure for the time of
his visit, and plotting innumerable little schemes for enjoyment while he
should remain. The first day or two after his arrival usually went
over pleasantly enough. Dick came back full of his town life, and its
amusements; and Kate was quite satisfied to accept gaiety at second-hand.
He had so much to tell of balls, picnics, charming rides in the Phoenix,
of garden-parties in the beautiful environs of Dublin, or more pretentious
entertainments, which took the shape of excursions to Bray or Killiney,
that she came at last to learn all his friends and acquaintances by name,
and never confounded the stately beauties that he worshipped afar off with
the 'awfully jolly girls' whom he flirted with quite irresponsibly.
She knew, too, all about his male companions, from the flash young
fellow-commoner from Downshire, who had a saddle-horse and a mounted groom
waiting for him every day after morning lecture, down to that scampish Joe
Atlee, with whose scrapes and eccentricities he filled many an idle hour.
Independently of her gift as a good listener, Kate would very willingly
have heard all Dick's adventures and descriptions not only twice but
tenth-told; just as the child listens with unwearied attention to the
fairy-tale whose end he is well aware of, but still likes the little detail
falling fresh upon his ear, so would this young girl make him go over
some narratives she knew by heart, and would not suffer him to omit the
slightest incident or most trifling circumstance that heightened the
history of the story.
As to Dick, however, the dull monotony of the daily life, the small and
vulgar interests of the house or the farm, which formed the only topics,
the undergrowl of economy that ran through every conversation, as though
penuriousness was the great object of existence--but, perhaps more than all
these together, the early hours--so overcame him that he at first became
low-spirited, and then sulky, seldom appearing save at meal-times, and
certainly contributing little to the pleasure of the meeting; so that at
last, though she might not easily have been brought to the confession, Kate
Kearney saw the time of Dick's departure approach without regret, and was
actually glad to be relieved from that terror of a rupture between her
father and her brother of which not a day passed without a menace.
Like all men who aspire to something in Ireland, Kearney desired to see his
son a barrister; for great as are the rewards of that high career, they are
not the fascinations which appeal most strongly to the squirearchy, who
love to think that a country gentleman may know a little law and be never
the richer for it--may have acquired a profession, and yet never know what
was a client or what a fee.
That Kearney of Kilgobbin Castle should be reduced to tramping his way down
the Bachelor's Walk to the Four Courts, with a stuff bag carried behind
him, was not to be thought of; but there were so many positions in life, so
many situations for which that gifted creature the barrister of six years'
standing was alone eligible, that Kearney was very anxious his son should
be qualified to accept that £1000 or £1800 a year which a gentleman could
hold without any shadow upon his capacity, or the slightest reflection on
Dick Kearney, however, had not only been living a very gay life in town,
but, to avail himself of a variety of those flattering attentions which
this interested world bestows by preference on men of some pretension, had
let it be believed that he was the heir to a very considerable estate, and,
by great probability, also to a title. To have admitted that he thought it
necessary to follow any career at all, would have been to abdicate these
pretensions, and so he evaded that question of the law in all discussions
with his father, sometimes affecting to say he had not made up his mind, or
that he had scruples of conscience about a barrister's calling, or that he
doubted whether the Bar of Ireland was not, like most high institutions,
going to be abolished by Act of Parliament, and all the litigation of the
land be done by deputy in Westminster Hall.
On the morning after the visitors took their departure from Kilgobbin, old
Kearney, who usually relapsed from any exercise of hospitality into a more
than ordinary amount of parsimony, sat thinking over the various economies
by which the domestic budget could be squared, and after a very long séance
with old Gill, in which the question of raising some rents and diminishing
certain bounties was discussed, he sent up the steward to Mr. Richard's
room to say he wanted to speak to him.
Dick at the time of the message was stretched full length on a sofa,
smoking a meerschaum, and speculating how it was that the 'swells' took to
Joe Atlee, and what they saw in that confounded snob, instead of himself.
Having in a degree satisfied himself that Atlee's success was all owing to
his intense and outrageous flattery, he was startled from his reverie by
the servant's entrance.
'How is he this morning, Tim?' asked he, with a knowing look. 'Is he
fierce--is there anything up--have the heifers been passing the night in
the wheat, or has any one come over from Moate with a bill?'
'No, sir, none of them; but his blood's up about something. Ould Gill is
gone down the stair swearing like mad, and Miss Kate is down the road with
a face like a turkey-cock.'
'I think you'd better say I was out, Tim--that you couldn't find me in my
'I daren't, sir. He saw that little Skye terrier of yours below, and
he said to me, "Mr. Dick is sure to be at home; tell him I want him
'But if I had a bad headache, and couldn't leave my bed, wouldn't that be
'It would make him come here. And if I was you, sir, I'd go where I could
get away myself, and not where he could stay as long as he liked.'
'There's something in that. I'll go, Tim. Say I'll be down in a minute.'
Very careful to attire himself in the humblest costume of his wardrobe, and
specially mindful that neither studs nor watch-chain should offer offensive
matter of comment, he took his way towards the dreary little den,
which, filled with old top-boots, driving-whips, garden-implements, and
fishing-tackle, was known as 'the lord's study,' but whose sole literary
ornament was a shelf of antiquated almanacs. There was a strange grimness
about his father's aspect which struck young Kearney as he crossed the
threshold. His face wore the peculiar sardonic expression of one who had
not only hit upon an expedient, but achieved a surprise, as he held an open
letter in one hand and motioned with the other to a seat.
'I've been waiting till these people were gone, Dick--till we had a quiet
house of it--to say a few words to you. I suppose your friend Atlee is not
coming back here?'
'I suppose not, sir.'
'I don't like him, Dick; and I'm much mistaken if he is a good fellow.'
'I don't think he is actually a bad fellow, sir. He is often terribly hard
up and has to do scores of shifty things, but I never found him out in
anything dishonourable or false.'
'That's a matter of taste, perhaps. Maybe you and I might differ about what
was honourable or what was false. At all events, he was under our roof
here, and if those nobs--or swells, I believe you call them--were like to
be of use to any of us, we, the people that were entertaining them, were
the first to be thought of; but your pleasant friend thought differently,
and made such good use of his time that he cut you out altogether, Dick--he
left you nowhere.'
'Really, sir, it never occurred to me till now to take that view of the
'Well, take that view of it now, and see how you'll like it! _You_ have
your way to work in life as well as Mr. Atlee. From all I can judge, you're
scarcely as well calculated to do it as he is. You have not his smartness,
you have not his brains, and you have not his impudence--and, 'faith, I'm
much mistaken but it's the best of the three!'
'I don't perceive, sir, that we are necessarily pitted against each other
'Don't you? Well, so much the worse for you if you don't see that every
fellow that has nothing in the world is the rival of every other fellow
that's in the same plight. For every one that swims, ten, at least, sink.'
'Perhaps, sir, to begin, I never fully realised the first condition. I was
not exactly aware that I was without anything in the world.'
'I'm coming to that, if you'll have a little patience. Here is a letter
from Tom McKeown, of Abbey Street. I wrote to him about raising a few
hundreds on mortgage, to clear off some of our debts, and have a trifle in
hand for drainage and to buy stock, and he tells me that there's no use in
going to any of the money-lenders so long as your extravagance continues to
be the talk of the town. Ay, you needn't grow red nor frown that way. The
letter was a private one to myself, and I'm only telling it to you in
confidence. Hear what he says: "You have a right to make your son a
fellow-commoner if you like, and he has a right, by his father's own
showing, to behave like a man of fortune; but neither of you have a right
to believe that men who advance money will accept these pretensions as
good security, or think anything but the worse of you both for your
'And you don't mean to horsewhip him, sir?' burst out Dick.
'Not, at any rate, till I pay off two thousand pounds that I owe him, and
two years' interest at six per cent. that he has suffered me to become his
'Lame as he is, I'll kick him before twenty-four hours are over.'
'If you do, he'll shoot you like a dog, and it wouldn't be the first time
he handled a pistol. No, no, Master Dick. Whether for better or worse, I
can't tell, but the world is not what it was when I was your age. There's
no provoking a man to a duel nowadays; nor no posting him when he won't
fight. Whether it's your fortune is damaged or your feelings hurt, you must
look to the law to redress you; and to take your cause into your own hands
is to have the whole world against you.'
'And this insult is, then, to be submitted to?'
'It is, first of all, to be ignored. It's the same as if you never heard
it. Just get it out of your head, and listen to what he says. Tom McKeown
is one of the keenest fellows I know; and he has business with men who know
not only what's doing in Downing Street, but what's going to be done there.
Now here's two things that are about to take place: one is the same as
done, for it's all ready prepared--the taking away the landlord's right,
and making the State determine what rent the tenant shall pay, and how long
his tenure will be. The second won't come for two sessions after, but it
will be law all the same. There's to be no primogeniture class at all,
no entail on land, but a subdivision, like in America and, I believe, in
'I don't believe it, sir. These would amount to a revolution.'
'Well, and why not? Ain't we always going through a sort of mild
revolution? What's parliamentary government but revolution, weakened, if
you like, like watered grog, but the spirit is there all the same. Don't
fancy that, because you can give it a hard name, you can destroy it.
But hear what Tom is coming to. "Be early," says he, "take time by the
forelock: get rid of your entail and get rid of your land. Don't wait till
the Government does both for you, and have to accept whatever condition the
law will cumber you with, but be before them! Get your son to join you
in docking the entail; petition before the court for a sale, yourself or
somebody for you; and wash your hands clean of it all. It's bad property,
in a very ticklish country," says Tom--and he dashes the words--"bad
property in a very ticklish country; and if you take my advice, you'll get
clear of both." You shall read it all yourself by-and-by; I am only giving
you the substance of it, and none of the reasons.'
'This is a question for very grave consideration, to say the least of it.
It is a bold proposal.'
'So it is, and so says Tom himself; but he adds: "There's no time to be
lost; for once it gets about how Gladstone's going to deal with land, and
what Bright has in his head for eldest sons, you might as well whistle as
try to dispose of that property." To be sure, he says,' added he, after a
pause--'he says, "If you insist on holding on--if you cling to the dirty
acres because they were your father's and your great-grandfather's, and if
you think that being Kearney of Kilgobbin is a sort of title, in the name
of God stay where you are, but keep down your expenses. Give up some of
your useless servants, reduce your saddle-horses"--_my_ saddle-horses,
Dick! "Try if you can live without foxhunting." Foxhunting! "Make your
daughter know that she needn't dress like a duchess"--poor Kitty's very
like a duchess; "and, above all, persuade your lazy, idle, and very
self-sufficient son to take to some respectable line of life to gain his
living. I wouldn't say that he mightn't be an apothecary; but if he liked
law better than physic, I might be able to do something for him in my own
'Have you done, sir?' said Dick hastily, as his father wiped his
spectacles, and seemed to prepare for another heat.
'He goes on to say that he always requires one hundred and fifty guineas
fee with a young man; "but we are old friends, Mathew Kearney," says he,
"and we'll make it pounds."'
'To fit me to be an attorney!' said Dick, articulating each word with a
slow and almost savage determination.
''Faith! it would have been well for us if one of the family had been
an attorney before now. We'd never have gone into that action about the
mill-race, nor had to pay those heavy damages for levelling Moore's barn.
A little law would have saved us from evicting those blackguards at
Mullenalick, or kicking Mr. Hall's bailiff before witnesses.'
To arrest his father's recollection of the various occasions on which his
illegality had betrayed him into loss and damage, Dick blurted out, 'I'd
rather break stones on the road than I'd be an attorney.'
'Well, you'll not have to go far for employment, for they are just laying
down new metal this moment; and you needn't lose time over it,' said
Kearney, with a wave of his hand, to show that the audience was over and
the conference ended.
'There's just one favour I would ask, sir,' said Dick, with his hand on the
'You want a hammer, I suppose,' said his father, with a grin--'isn't _that_
With something that, had it been uttered aloud, sounded very like a bitter
malediction, Dick rushed from the room, slamming the door violently after
him as he went.
'That's the temper that helps a man to get on in life,' said the old man,
as he turned once more to his accounts, and set to work to see where he had
blundered in his figures.
When Dick Kearney left his father, he walked from the house, and not
knowing or much caring in what direction he went, turned into the garden.
It was a wild, neglected sort of spot, with fruit-trees of great size, long
past bearing, and close underwood in places that barred the passage. Here
and there little patches of cultivation appeared, sometimes flowering
plants, but oftener vegetables. One long alley, with tall hedges of box,
had been preserved, and led to a little mound planted with laurels and
arbutus, and known as 'Laurel Hill'; here a little rustic summer-house had
once stood, and still, though now in ruins, showed where, in former days,
people came to taste the fresh breeze above the tree-tops, and enjoy the
wide range of a view that stretched to the Slieve-Bloom Mountains, nearly
thirty miles away.
Young Kearney reached this spot, and sat down to gaze upon a scene every
detail of which was well known to him, but of which he was utterly
unconscious as he looked. 'I am turned out to starve,' cried he aloud, as
though there was a sense of relief in thus proclaiming his sorrow to the
winds. 'I am told to go and work upon the roads, to live by my daily
labour. Treated like a gentleman until I am bound to that condition by
every tie of feeling and kindred, and then bade to know myself as an
outcast. I have not even Joe Atlee's resource--I have not imbibed the
instincts of the lower orders, so as to be able to give them back to them
in fiction or in song. I cannot either idealise rebellion or make treason
'It is not yet a week since that same Atlee envied me my station as the son
and heir to this place, and owned to me that there was that in the sense of
name and lineage that more than balanced personal success, and here I am
now, a beggar! I can enlist, however, blessings on the noble career that
ignores character and defies capacity. I don't know that I'll bring much
loyalty to Her Majesty's cause, but I'll lend her the aid of as broad
shoulders and tough sinews as my neighbours.' And here his voice grew
louder and harsher, and with a ring of defiance in it. 'And no cutting off
the entail, my Lord Kilgobbin! no escape from that cruel necessity of
an heir! I may carry my musket in the ranks, but I'll not surrender my
The thought that he had at length determined on the path he should follow
aroused his courage and made his heart lighter; and then there was that
in the manner he was vindicating his station and his claim that seemed to
savour of heroism. He began to fancy his comrades regarding him with a
certain deference, and treating him with a respect that recognised his
condition. 'I know the shame my father will feel when he sees to what he
has driven me. What an offence to his love of rank and station to behold
his son in the coarse uniform of a private! An only son and heir, too! I
can picture to myself his shock as he reads the letter in which I shall
say good-bye, and then turn to tell my sister that her brother is a common
soldier, and in this way lost to her for ever!
'And what is it all about? What terrible things have I done? What
entanglements have I contracted? Where have I forged? Whose name have I
stolen? whose daughter seduced? What is laid to my charge, beyond that I
have lived like a gentleman, and striven to eat and drink and dress like
one? And I'll wager my life that for one who will blame him, there will
be ten--no, not ten, fifty--to condemn me. I had a kind, trustful,
affectionate father, restricting himself in scores of ways to give me my
education among the highest class of my contemporaries. I was largely
supplied with means, indulged in every way, and if I turned my steps
towards home, welcomed with love and affection.'
'And fearfully spoiled by all the petting he met with,' said a soft voice
leaning over his shoulder, while a pair of very liquid grey eyes gazed into
'What, Nina!--Mademoiselle Nina, I mean,' said he, 'have you been long
'Long enough to hear you make a very pitiful lamentation over a condition
that I, in my ignorance, used to believe was only a little short of
'You fancied that, did you?'
'Yes, I did so fancy it.'
'Might I be bold enough to ask from what circumstance, though? I entreat
you to tell me, what belongings of mine, what resources of luxury or
pleasure, what incident of my daily life, suggested this impression of
'Perhaps, as a matter of strict reasoning, I have little to show for my
conviction, but if you ask me why I thought as I did, it was simply from
contrasting your condition with my own, and seeing that in everything where
my lot has gloom and darkness, if not worse, yours, my ungrateful cousin,
was all sunshine.'
'Let us see a little of this sunshine, Cousin Nina. Sit down here beside
me, and show me, I pray, some of those bright tints that I am longing to
'There's not room for both of us on that bench.'
'Ample room; we shall sit the closer.'
'No, Cousin Dick; give me your arm and we'll take a stroll together.'
'Which way shall it be?'
'You shall choose, cousin.'
'If I have the choice, then, I'll carry you off, Nina, for I'm thinking of
bidding good-bye to the old house and all within it.'
'I don't think I'll consent that far,' said she, smiling. 'I have had my
experience of what it is to be without a home, or something very nearly
that. I'll not willingly recall the sensation. But what has put such gloomy
thoughts in your head? What, or rather who is driving you to this?'
'My father, Nina, my father!'
'This is past my comprehending.'
'I'll make it very intelligible. My father, by way of curbing my
extravagance, tells me I must give up all pretension to the life of a
gentleman, and go into an office as a clerk. I refuse. He insists, and
tells me, moreover, a number of little pleasant traits of my unfitness to
do anything, so that I interrupt him by hinting that I might possibly break
stones on the highway. He seizes the project with avidity, and offers to
supply me with a hammer for my work. All fact, on my honour! I am neither
adding to nor concealing. I am relating what occurred little more than an
hour ago, and I have forgotten nothing of the interview. He, as I said,
offers to give me a stone-hammer. And now I ask you, is it for me to accept
this generous offer, or would it be better to wander over that bog yonder,
and take my chance of a deep pool, or the bleak world where immersion and
death are just as sure, though a little slower in coming?'
'Have you told Kate of this?'
'No, I have not seen her. I don't know, if I had seen her, that I should
have told her. Kate has so grown to believe all my father's caprices to be
absolute wisdom, that even his sudden gusts of passion seem to her like
flashes of a bright intelligence, too quick and too brilliant for mere
reason. She could give me no comfort nor counsel either.'
'I am not of your mind,' said she slowly. 'She has the great gift of what
people so mistakingly call _common_ sense.'
'And she'd recommend me, perhaps, not to quarrel with my father, and to go
and break the stones.'
'Were you ever in love, Cousin Dick?' asked she, in a tone every accent of
which betokened earnestness and even gravity.
'Perhaps I might say never. I have spooned or flirted or whatever the name
of it might be, but I was never seriously attached to one girl, and unable
to think of anything but her. But what has your question to do with this?'
'Everything. If you really loved a girl--that is, if she filled every
corner of your heart, if she was first in every plan and project of your
life, not alone her wishes and her likings, but her very words and the
sound of her voice--if you saw her in everything that was beautiful, and
heard her in every tone that delighted you--if to be moving in the air
she breathed was ecstasy, and that heaven itself without her was
'Oh, don't go on, Nina. None of these ecstasies could ever be mine. I have
no nature to be moved or moulded in this fashion. I might be very fond of a
girl, but she'd never drive me mad if she left me for another.'
'I hope she may, then, if it be with such false money you would buy her,'
said she fiercely. 'Do you know,' added she, after a pause, 'I was almost
on the verge of saying, go and break the stones; the _métier_ is not much
beneath you, after all!'
'This is scarcely civil, mademoiselle; see what my candour has brought upon
'Be as candid as you like upon the faults of your nature. Tell
every wickedness that you have done or dreamed of, but don't own to
cold-heartedness. For _that_ there is no sympathy!'
'Let us go back a bit, then,' said he, 'and let us suppose that I did love
in the same fervent and insane manner you spoke of, what and how would it
help me here?'
'Of course it would. Of all the ingenuity that plotters talk of, of all the
imagination that poets dream, there is nothing to compare with love. To
gain a plodding subsistence a man will do much. To win the girl he loves,
to make her his own, he will do everything: he will strive, and strain, and
even starve to win her. Poverty will have nothing mean if confronted for
her, hardship have no suffering if endured for her sake. With her before
him, all the world shows but one goal; without her, life is a mere dreary
task, and himself a hired labourer.'
'I confess, after all this, that I don't see how breaking stones would be
more palatable to me because some pretty girl that I was fond of saw me
hammering away at my limestone!'
'If you could have loved as I would wish you to love, your career had never
fallen to this. The heart that loved would have stimulated the head that
thought. Don't fancy that people are only better because they are in love,
but they are greater, bolder, brighter, more daring in danger, and more
ready in every emergency. So wonder-working is the real passion that even
in the base mockery of Love men have risen to genius. Look what it made
Petrarch, and I might say Byron too, though he never loved worthy of the
'And how came you to know all this, cousin mine? I'm really curious to know
'I was reared in Italy, Cousin Dick, and I have made a deep study of nature
through French novels.'
Now there was a laughing devilry in her eye as she said this that terribly
puzzled the young fellow, for just at the very moment her enthusiasm had
begun to stir his breast, her merry mockery wafted it away as with a
'I wish I knew if you were serious,' said he gravely.
'Just as serious as you were when you spoke of being ruined.'
'I was so, I pledge my honour. The conversation I reported to you really
took place; and when you joined me, I was gravely deliberating with myself
whether I should take a header into a deep pool or enlist as a soldier.'
'Fie, fie! how ignoble all that is. You don't know the hundreds of
thousands of things one can do in life. Do you speak French or Italian?'
'I can read them, but not freely; but how are they to help me?'
'You shall see: first of all, let me be your tutor. We shall take two
hours, three if you like, every morning. Are you free now from all your
'I can be after Wednesday next. I ought to go up for my term examination.'
'Well, do so; but mind, don't bring down Mr. Atlee with you.'
'My chum is no favourite of yours?'
'That's as it may be,' said she haughtily. 'I have only said let us not
have the embarrassment, or, if you like it, the pleasure of his company.
I'll give you a list of books to bring down, and my life be on it, but _my_
course of study will surpass what you have been doing at Trinity. Is it
'Give me till to-morrow to think of it, Nina.'
'That does not sound like a very warm acceptance; but be it so: till
'Here are some of Kate's dogs,' cried he angrily. 'Down, Fan, down! I say.
I'll leave you now before she joins us. Mind, not a word of what I told
And, without another word, he sprang over a low fence, and speedily
disappeared in the copse beyond it.
'Wasn't that Dick I saw making his escape?' cried Kate, as she came up.
'Yes, we were taking a walk together, and he left me very abruptly.'
'I wish I had not spoiled a _tête-à-tête_,' said Kate merrily.
'It is no great mischief: we can always renew it.'
'Dear Nina,' said the other caressingly, as she drew her arm around
her--'dear, dear Nina, do not, do not, I beseech you.'
'Don't what, child?--you must not speak in riddles.'
'Don't make that poor boy in love with you. You yourself told me you could
save him from it if you liked.'
'And so I shall, Kate, if you don't dictate or order me. Leave me quite to
myself, and I shall be most merciful.'
MATHEW KEARNEY'S 'STUDY'
Had Mathew Kearney but read the second sheet of his correspondent's letter,
it is more than likely that Dick had not taken such a gloomy view of his
condition. Mr. McKeown's epistle continued in this fashion: 'That ought to
do for him, Mathew, or my name ain't Tom McKeown. It is not that he is any
worse or better than other young fellows of his own stamp, but he has the
greatest scamp in Christendom for his daily associate. Atlee is deep in
all the mischief that goes on in the National press. I believe he is a
head-centre of the Fenians, and I know he has a correspondence with the
French socialists, and that Rights-of-labour-knot of vagabonds who meet at
Geneva. Your boy is not too wise to keep himself out of these scrapes,
and he is just, by name and station, of consequence enough to make these
fellows make up to and flatter him. Give him a sound fright, then, and when
he is thoroughly alarmed about his failure, send him abroad for a short
tour, let him go study at Halle or Heidelberg--anything, in short, that
will take him away from Ireland, and break off his intimacy with this Atlee
and his companions. While he is with you at Kilgobbin, don't let him make
acquaintance with those Radical fellows in the county towns. Keep him down,
Mathew, keep him down; and if you find that you cannot do this, make him
believe that you'll be one day lords of Kilgobbin, and the more he has to
lose the more reluctant he'll be to risk it. If he'd take to farming, and
marry some decent girl, even a little beneath him in life, it would save
you all uneasiness; but he is just that thing now that brings all the
misery on us in Ireland. He thinks he's a gentleman because he can do
nothing; and to save himself from the disgrace of incapacity, 'he'd like to
be a rebel.'
If Mr. Tom McKeown's reasonings were at times somewhat abstruse and hard of
comprehension to his friend Kearney, it was not that he did not bestow
on them due thought and reflection; and over this private and strictly
confidential page he had now meditated for hours.
'Bad luck to me,' cried he at last, 'if I see what he's at. If I'm to tell
the boy he is ruined to-day, and to-morrow to announce to him that he is a
lord--if I'm to threaten him now with poverty, and the morning after I'm to
send him to Halle, or Hell, or wherever it is--I'll soon be out of my mind
myself through bare confusion. As to having him "down," he's low enough;
but so shall I be too, if I keep him there. I'm not used to seeing my house
uncomfortable, and I cannot bear it.'
Such were some of his reflections, over his agent's advice; and it may be
imagined that the Machiavellian Mr. McKeown had fallen upon a very inapt
It must be owned that Mathew Kearney was somewhat out of temper with his
son even before the arrival of this letter. While the 'swells,' as he would
persist in calling the two English visitors, were there, Dick took no
trouble about them, nor to all seeming made any impression on them. As
Mathew said, 'He let Joe Atlee make all the running, and, signs on it! Joe
Atlee was taken off to town as Walpole's companion, and Dick not so much as
thought of. Joe, too, did the honours of the house as if it was his own,
and talked to Lockwood about coming down for the partridge-shooting as if
he was the head of the family. The fellow was a bad lot, and McKeown was
right so far--the less Dick saw of him the better.'
The trouble and distress these reflections, and others like them, cost him
would more than have recompensed Dick, had he been hard-hearted enough to
desire a vengeance. 'For a quarter of an hour, or maybe twenty minutes,'
said he, 'I can be as angry as any man in Europe, and, if it was required
of me during that time to do anything desperate--downright wicked--I could
be bound to do it; and what's more, I'd stand to it afterwards if it cost
me the gallows. But as for keeping up the same mind, as for being able to
say to myself my heart is as hard as ever, I'm just as much bent on cruelty
as I was yesterday--that's clean beyond me; and the reason, God help me, is
no great comfort to me after all--for it's just this: that when I do a hard
thing, whether distraining a creature out of his bit of ground, selling a
widow's pig, or fining a fellow for shooting a hare, I lose my appetite and
have no heart for my meals; and as sure as I go asleep, I dream of all the
misfortunes in life happening to me, and my guardian angel sitting laughing
all the while and saying to me, "Didn't you bring it on yourself, Mathew
Kearney? couldn't you bear a little rub without trying to make a calamity
of it? Must somebody be always punished when anything goes wrong in life?
Make up your mind to have six troubles every day of your life, and see how
jolly you'll be the day you can only count five, or maybe four."'
As Mr. Kearney sat brooding in this wise, Peter Gill made his entrance into
the study with the formidable monthly lists and accounts, whose examination
constituted a veritable doomsday to the unhappy master.
'Wouldn't next Saturday do, Peter?' asked Kearney, in a tone of almost
'I'm afther ye since Tuesday last, and I don't think I'll be able to go on
Now as Mr. Gill meant by this speech to imply that he was obliged to trust
entirely to his memory for all the details which would have been committed
to writing by others, and to a notched stick for the manifold dates of a
vast variety of events, it was not really a very unfair request he had made
for a peremptory hearing.
'I vow to the Lord,' sighed out Kearney, 'I believe I'm the hardest-worked
man in the three kingdoms.'
'Maybe you are,' muttered Gill, though certainly the concurrence scarcely
sounded hearty, while he meanwhile arranged the books.
'Oh, I know well enough what you mean. If a man doesn't work with a spade
or follow the plough, you won't believe that he works at all. He must
drive, or dig, or drain, or mow. There's no labour but what strains a man's
back, and makes him weary about the loins; but I'll tell you, Peter Gill,
that it's here'--and he touched his forehead with his finger--'it's here is
the real workshop. It's thinking and contriving; setting this against that;
doing one thing that another may happen, and guessing what will come if we
do this and don't do that; carrying everything in your brain, and, whether
you are sitting over a glass with a friend or taking a nap after dinner,
thinking away all the time! What would you call that, Peter Gill--what
would you call that?'
'Madness, begorra, or mighty near it!'
'No; it's just work--brain-work. As much above mere manual labour as
the intellect, the faculty that raises us above the brutes, is above
'Yes,' said Gill, opening the large volume and vaguely passing his hand
over a page. 'It's somewhere there about the Conacre!'
'You're little better than a beast!' said Kearney angrily.
'Maybe I am, and maybe I'm not. Let us finish this, now that we're about
And so saying, he deposited his other books and papers on the table, and
then drew from his breast-pocket a somewhat thick roll of exceedingly dirty
bank-notes, fastened with a leather thong.
'I'm glad to see some money at last, Peter,' cried Kearney, as his eye
caught sight of the notes.
'Faix, then, it's little good they'll do ye,' muttered the other gruffly.
'What d'ye mean by that, sir?' asked he angrily.
'Just what I said, my lord, the devil a more nor less, and that the money
you see here is no more yours nor it is mine! It belongs to the land it
came from. Ay, ay, stamp away, and go red in the face: you must hear the
truth, whether you like it or no. The place we're living in is going to
rack and ruin out of sheer bad treatment. There's not a hedge on the
estate; there isn't a gate that could be called a gate; the holes the
people live in isn't good enough for badgers; there's no water for the
mill at the cross-roads; and the Loch meadows is drowned with wet--we're
dragging for the hay, like seaweed! And you think you've a right to
these'--and he actually shook the notes at him--to go and squander them on
them "impedint" Englishmen that was laughing at you! Didn't I hear them
myself about the tablecloth that one said was the sail of a boat.'
'Will you hold your tongue?' cried Kearney, wild with passion.
'I will not! I'll die on the floore but I'll speak my mind.'
This was not only a favourite phrase of Mr. Gill's, but it was so far
significant that it always indicated he was about to give notice to
leave--a menace on his part of no unfrequent occurrence.
'Ye's going, are ye?' asked Kearney jeeringly.
'I just am; and I'm come to give up the books, and to get my receipts and
'It won't be hard to give the last, anyway,' said Kearney, with a grin.
'So much the better. It will save your honour much writing, with all that
you have to do.'
'Do you want me to kick you out of the office, Peter Gill?'
'No, my lord, I'm going quiet and peaceable. I'm only asking my rights.'
'You're bidding hard to be kicked out, you are.'
'Am I to leave them here, or will your honour go over the books with me?'
'Leave the notes, sir, and go to the devil.'
'I will, my lord; and one comfort at least I'll have--it won't be harder to
put up with his temper.'
Mr. Gill's head barely escaped the heavy account-book which struck the door
above him as he escaped from the room, and Mathew Kearney sat back in his
chair and grasped the arms of it like one threatened with a fit.
'Where's Miss Kitty--where's my daughter?' cried he aloud, as though there
was some one within hearing. 'Taking the dogs a walk, I'll be bound,'
muttered he, 'or gone to see somebody's child with the measles, devil fear
her! She has plenty on her hands to do anywhere but at home. The place
might be going to rack and ruin for her if there was only a young colt to
look at, or a new litter of pigs! And so you think to frighten me, Peter
Gill! You've been doing the same thing every Easter, and every harvest,
these five-and-twenty years! I can only say I wish you had kept your threat
long ago, and the property wouldn't have as many tumble-down cabins and
ruined fences as it has now, and my rent-roll, too, wouldn't have been the
worse. I don't believe there's a man in Ireland more cruelly robbed than
myself. There isn't an estate in the county has not risen in value except
my own! There's not a landed gentleman hasn't laid by money in the barony
but myself, and if you were to believe the newspapers, I'm the hardest
landlord in the province of Leinster. Is that Mickey Doolan there? Mickey!'
cried he, opening the window, 'did you see Miss Kearney anywhere about?'
'Yes, my lord. I see her coming up the Bog road with Miss O'Shea.'
'The worse luck mine!' muttered he, as he closed the window, and leaned his
head on his hand.
AN UNWELCOME VISIT
If Mathew Kearney had been put to the question, he could not have concealed
the fact that the human being he most feared and dreaded in life was his
neighbour Miss Betty O'Shea.
With two years of seniority over him, Miss Betty had bullied him as a
child, snubbed him as a youth, and opposed and sneered at him ever after;
and to such an extent did her influence over his character extend,
according to his own belief, that there was not a single good trait of his
nature she had not thwarted by ridicule, nor a single evil temptation to
which he had yielded that had not come out of sheer opposition to that
Malevolent people, indeed, had said that Mathew Kearney had once had
matrimonial designs on Miss Betty, or rather, on that snug place and nice
property called 'O'Shea's Barn,' of which she was sole heiress; but he most
stoutly declared this story to be groundless, and in a forcible manner
asseverated that had he been Robinson Crusoe and Miss Betty the only
inhabitant of the island with him, he would have lived and died in
Miss Betty, to give her the name by which she was best known, was no
miracle of either tact or amiability, but she had certain qualities that
could not be disparaged. She was a strict Catholic, charitable, in her own
peculiar and imperious way, to the poor, very desirous to be strictly just
and honest, and such a sure foe to everything that she thought pretension
or humbug of any kind--which meant anything that did not square with her
own habits--that she was perfectly intolerable to all who did not accept
herself and her own mode of life as a model and an example.
Thus, a stout-bodied copper urn on the tea-table, a very uncouth
jaunting-car, driven by an old man, whose only livery was a cockade, some
very muddy port as a dinner wine, and whisky-punch afterwards on the brown
mahogany, were so many articles of belief with her, to dissent from any of
which was a downright heresy.
Thus, after Nina arrived at the castle, the appearance of napkins palpably
affected her constitution; with the advent of finger-glasses she ceased her
visits, and bluntly declined all invitations to dinner. That coffee and
some indescribable liberties would follow, as postprandial excesses, she
secretly imparted to Kate Kearney in a note, which concluded with the
assurance that when the day of these enormities arrived, O'Shea's Barn
Would be open to her as a refuge and a sanctuary; 'but not,' added she,
'with your cousin, for I'll not let the hussy cross my doors.'