Part 5 out of 12
'Are you Dick?' asked the other, coming forward.
'Yes. I think most of my friends know me by that name.'
'And the old devil has told you mine?' asked he quickly.
'No, I believe I discovered that for myself. I tumbled over some of your
things last night, and saw a letter addressed to you.'
'You didn't read it?'
'Certainly not. It fell out of your pocket-book, and I put it back there.'
'So the old hag didn't blab on me? I'm anxious about this, because it's got
out somehow that I'm back again. I landed at Kenmare in a fishing-boat from
the New York packet, the _Osprey_, on Tuesday fortnight, and three of the
newspapers had it before I was a week on shore.'
'Our breakfast is getting cold; sit down here and let me help you. Will you
begin with a rasher?'
Not replying to the invitation, Donogan covered his plate with bacon, and
leaning his arm on the table, stared fixedly at Kearney.
'I'm as glad as fifty pounds of it,' muttered he slowly to himself.
'Glad of what?'
'Glad that you're not a swell, Mr. Kearney,' said he gravely. '"The
Honourable Richard Kearney," whenever I repeated that to myself, it gave me
a cold sweat. I thought of velvet collars and a cravat with a grand pin in
it, and a stuck-up creature behind both, that wouldn't condescend to sit
down with me.'
'I'm sure Joe Atlee gave you no such impression of me.'
A short grunt that might mean anything was all the reply.
'He was my chum, and knew me better,' reiterated the other.
'He knows many a thing he doesn't say, and he says plenty that he doesn't
know. "Kearney will be a swell," said I, "and he'll turn upon me just out
of contempt for my condition.'"
'That was judging me hardly, Mr. Donogan.'
'No, it wasn't; it's the treatment the mangy dogs meet all the world over.
Why is England insolent to us, but because we're poor--answer me that? Are
we mangy? Don't you feel mangy?--I know _I_ do!'
Dick smiled a sort of mild contradiction, but said nothing.
'Now that I see you, Mr. Kearney,' said the other, 'I'm as glad as a
ten-pound note about a letter I wrote you--'
'I never received a letter from you.'
'Sure I know you didn't! haven't I got it here?' And he drew forth a
square-shaped packet and held it up before him. 'I never said that I sent
it, nor I won't send it now: here's its present address,' added he, as he
threw it on the fire and pressed it down with his foot.
'Why not have given it to me now?' asked the other.
'Because three minutes will tell you all that was in it, and better than
writing; for I can reply to anything that wants an explanation, and that's
what a letter cannot. First of all, do you know that Mr. Claude Barry, your
county member, has asked for the Chiltern, and is going to resign?'
'No, I have not heard it.'
'Well, it's a fact. They are going to make him a second secretary
somewhere, and pension him off. He has done his work: he voted an Arms Bill
and an Insurrection Act, and he had the influenza when the amnesty petition
was presented, and sure no more could be expected from any man.'
'The question scarcely concerns me; our interest in the county is so small
now, we count for very little.'
'And don't you know how to make your influence greater?'
'I cannot say that I do.'
'Go to the poll yourself, Richard Kearney, and be the member.'
'You are talking of an impossibility, Mr. Donogan. First of all, we have no
fortune, no large estates in the county, with a wide tenantry and plenty of
votes; secondly, we have no place amongst the county families, as our old
name and good blood might have given us; thirdly, we are of the wrong
religion, and, I take it, with as wrong politics; and lastly, we should not
know what to do with the prize if we had won it.'
'Wrong in every one of your propositions--wholly wrong,' cried the other.
'The party that will send you in won't want to be bribed, and they'll be
proud of a man who doesn't overtop them with his money. You don't need the
big families, for you'll beat them. Your religion is the right one, for it
will give you the Priests; and your politics shall be Repeal, and it
will give you the Peasants; and as to not knowing what to do when you're
elected, are you so mighty well off in life that you've nothing to wish
'I can scarcely say that,' said Dick, smiling.
'Give me a few minutes' attention,' said Donogan, 'and I think I'll show
you that I've thought this matter out and out; indeed, before I sat down to
write to you, I went into all the details.'
And now, with a clearness and a fairness that astonished Kearney, this
strange-looking fellow proceeded to prove how he had weighed the whole
difficulty, and saw how, in the nice balance of the two great parties who
would contest the seat, the Repealer would step in and steal votes from
He showed not only that he knew every barony of the county, and every
estate and property, but that he had a clear insight into the different
localities where discontent prevailed, and places where there was something
more than discontent.
'It is down there,' said he significantly, 'that I can be useful. The man
that has had his foot in the dock, and only escaped having his head in the
noose, is never discredited in Ireland. Talk Parliament and parliamentary
tactics to the small shopkeepers in Moate, and leave me to talk treason to
the people in the bog.'
'But I mistake you and your friends greatly,' said Kearney, 'if these were
the tactics you always followed; I thought that you were the physical-force
party, who sneered at constitutionalism and only believed in the pike.'
'So we did, so long as we saw O'Connell and the lawyers working the game of
that grievance for their own advantage, and teaching the English Government
how to rule Ireland by a system of concession to _them_ and to _their_
friends. Now, however, we begin to perceive that to assault that heavy
bastion of Saxon intolerance, we must have spies in the enemy's fortress,
and for this we send in so many members to the Whig party. There are scores
of men who will aid us by their vote who would not risk a bone in our
cause. Theirs is a sort of subacute patriotism; but it has its use. It
smashes an Established Church, breaks down Protestant ascendency, destroys
the prestige of landed property, and will in time abrogate entail and
primogeniture, and many another fine thing; and in this way it clears the
ground for our operations, just as soldiers fell trees and level houses
lest they interfere with the range of heavy artillery.'
'So that the place you would assign me is that very honourable one you have
just called a "spy in the camp"?'
'By a figure I said that, Mr. Kearney; but you know well enough what I
meant was, that there's many a man will help us on the Treasury benches
that would not turn out on Tallaght; and we want both. I won't say,' added
he, after a pause, 'I'd not rather see you a leader in our ranks than
a Parliament man. I was bred a doctor, Mr. Kearney, and I must take
an illustration from my own art. To make a man susceptible of certain
remedies, you are often obliged to reduce his strength and weaken his
constitution. So it is here. To bring Ireland into a condition to be
bettered by Repeal, you must crush the Church and smash the bitter
Protestants. The Whigs will do these for us, but we must help them. Do you
understand me now?'
'I believe I do. In the case you speak of, then, the Government will
support my election.'
'Against a Tory, yes; but not against a pure Whig--a thorough-going
supporter, who would bargain for nothing for his country, only something
for his own relations.'
'If your project has an immense fascination for me at one moment, and
excites my ambition beyond all bounds, the moment I turn my mind to the
cost, and remember my own poverty, I see nothing but hopelessness.'
'That's not my view of it, nor when you listen to me patiently, will it, I
believe, be yours. Can we have another talk over this in the evening?'
'To be sure! we'll dine here together at six.'
'Oh, never mind me, think of yourself, Mr. Kearney, and your own
engagements. As to the matter of dining, a crust of bread and a couple of
apples are fully as much as I want or care for.'
'We'll dine together to-day at six,' said Dick, 'and bear in mind, I am
more interested in this than you are.'
A CRAFTY COUNSELLOR
As they were about to sit down to dinner on that day, a telegram,
re-directed from Kilgobbin, reached Kearney's hand. It bore the date of
that morning from Plmnuddm Castle, and was signed 'Atlee.' Its contents
were these: 'H. E. wants to mark the Kilgobbin defence with some sign of
approval. What shall it be? Reply by wire.'
'Read that, and tell us what you think of it.'
'Joe Atlee at the Viceroy's castle in Wales!' cried the other. 'We're going
up the ladder hand over head, Mr. Kearney! A week ago his ambition was
bounded on the south by Ship Street, and on the east by the Lower Castle
'How do you understand the despatch?' asked Kearney quickly.
'Easily enough. His Excellency wants to know what you'll have for shooting
down three--I think they were three--Irishmen.'
'The fellows came to demand arms, and with loaded guns in their hands.'
'And if they did! Is not the first right of a man the weapon that defends
him? He that cannot use it or does not possess it, is a slave. By what
prerogative has Kilgobbin Castle within its walls what can take the life of
any, the meanest, tenant on the estate?'
'I am not going to discuss this with you; I think I have heard most of it
before, and was not impressed when I did so. What I asked was, what sort of
a recognition one might safely ask for and reasonably expect?'
'That's not long to look for. Let them support you in the county. Telegraph
back, "I'm going to stand, and, if I get in, will be a Whig whenever I am
not a Nationalist. Will the party stand by me?"'
'Scarcely with that programme.'
'And do you think that the priests' nominees, who are three-fourths of the
Irish members, offer better terms? Do you imagine that the men that crowd
the Whig lobby have not reserved their freedom of action about the Pope,
and the Fenian prisoners, and the Orange processionists? If they were not
free so far, I'd ask you with the old Duke, How is Her Majesty's Government
to be carried on?'
Kearney shook his head in dissent.
'And that's not all,' continued the other; 'but you must write to the
papers a flat contradiction of that shooting story. You must either declare
that it never occurred at all, or was done by that young scamp from the
Castle, who happily got as much as he gave.'
'That I could not do,' said Kearney firmly.
'And it is that precisely that you must do,' rejoined the other. 'If you go
into the House to represent the popular feeling of Irishmen, the hand that
signs the roll must not be stained with Irish blood.'
'You forget; I was not within fifty miles of the place.'
'And another reason to disavow it. Look here, Mr. Kearney: if a man in a
battle was to say to himself, I'll never give any but a fair blow, he'd
make a mighty bad soldier. Now, public life is a battle, and worse than a
battle in all that touches treachery and falsehood. If you mean to do any
good in the world, to yourself and your country, take my word for it,
you'll have to do plenty of things that you don't like, and, what's worse,
'The soup is getting cold all this time. Shall we sit down?'
'No, not till we answer the telegram. Sit down and say what I told you.'
'Atlee will say I'm mad. He knows that I have not a shilling in the world.'
'Riches is not the badge of the representation,' said the other.
'They can at least pay the cost of the elections.'
'Well, we'll pay ours too--not all at once, but later on; don't fret
yourself about that.'
'They'll refuse me flatly.'
'No, we have a lien on the fine gentleman with the broken arm. What would
the Tories give for that story, told as I could tell it to them? At all
events, whatever you do in life, remember this--that if asked your price
for anything you have done, name the highest, and take nothing if it's
refused you. It's a waiting race, but I never knew it fail in the end.'
Kearney despatched his message, and sat down to the table, far too much
flurried and excited to care for his dinner. Not so his guest, who ate
voraciously, seldom raising his head and never uttering a word. 'Here's to
the new member for King's County,' said he at last, and he drained off his
glass; 'and I don't know a pleasanter way of wishing a man prosperity than
in a bumper. Has your father any politics, Mr. Kearney?'
'He thinks he's a Whig, but, except hating the Established Church and
having a print of Lord Russell over the fireplace, I don't know he has
other reason for the opinion.'
'All right; there's nothing finer for a young man entering public life than
to be able to sneer at his father for a noodle. That's the practical way to
show contempt for the wisdom of our ancestors. There's no appeal the public
respond to with the same certainty as that of the man who quarrels with his
relations for the sake of his principles, and whether it be a change in
your politics or your religion, they're sure to uphold you.'
'If differing with my father will ensure my success, I can afford to be
confident,' said Dick, smiling.
'Your sister has her notions about Ireland, hasn't she?'
'Yes, I believe she has; but she fancies that laws and Acts of Parliament
are not the things in fault, but ourselves and our modes of dealing with
the people, that were not often just, and were always capricious. I am not
sure how she works out her problem, but I believe we ought to educate each
other; and that in turn, for teaching the people to read and write, there
are scores of things to be learned from them.'
'And the Greek girl?'
'The Greek girl'--began Dick haughtily, and with a manner that betokened
rebuke, and which suddenly changed as he saw that nothing in the other's
manner gave any indication of intended freedom or insolence--'The Greek is
my first cousin, Mr. Donogan,' said he calmly; 'but I am anxious to know
how you have heard of her, or indeed of any of us.'
'From Joe--Joe Atlee! I believe we have talked you over--every one of
you--till I know you all as well as if I lived in the castle and called you
by your Christian names. Do you know, Mr. Kearney'--and his voice trembled
now as he spoke--'that to a lone and desolate man like myself, who has no
home, and scarcely a country, there is something indescribably touching in
the mere picture of the fireside, and the family gathered round it, talking
over little homely cares and canvassing the changes of each day's fortune.
I could sit here half the night and listen to Atlee telling how you lived,
and the sort of things that interested you.'
'So that you'd actually like to look at us?'
Donogan's eyes grew glassy, and his lips trembled, but he could not utter a
'So you shall, then,' cried Dick resolutely. 'We'll start to-morrow by the
early train. You'll not object to a ten miles' walk, and we'll arrive for
'Do you know who it is you are inviting to your father's house? Do you know
that I am an escaped convict, with a price on my head this minute? Do you
know the penalty of giving me shelter, or even what the law calls comfort?'
'I know this, that in the heart of the Bog of Allen, you'll be far safer
than in the city of Dublin; that none shall ever learn who you are, nor, if
they did, is there one--the poorest in the place--would betray you.'
'It is of you, sir, I'm thinking, not of me,' said Donogan calmly.
'Don't fret yourself about us. We are well known in our county, and above
suspicion. Whenever you yourself should feel that your presence was like to
be a danger, I am quite willing to believe you'd take yourself off.'
'You judge me rightly, sir, and I am proud to see it; but how are you to
present me to your friends?'
'As a college acquaintance--a friend of Atlee's and of mine--a gentleman
who occupied the room next me. I can surely say that with truth.'
'And dined with you every day since you knew him. Why not add that?'
He laughed merrily over this conceit, and at last Donogan said, 'I've a
little kit of clothes--something decenter than these--up in Thomas Street,
No. 13, Mr. Kearney; the old house Lord Edward was shot in, and the safest
place in Dublin now, because it is so notorious. I'll step up for them this
evening, and I'll be ready to start when you like.'
'Here's good fortune to us, whatever we do next,' said Kearney, filling
both their glasses; and they touched the brims together, and clinked them
before they drained them.
'ON THE LEADS'
Kate Kearney's room was on the top of the castle, and 'gave' by a window
over the leads of a large square tower. On this space she had made a
little garden of a few flowers, to tend which was of what she called her
[Illustration: 'Is not that as fine as your boasted Campagna?']
Some old packing-cases filled with mould sufficed to nourish a few stocks
and carnations, a rose or two, and a mass of mignonette, which possibly,
like the children of the poor, grew up sturdy and healthy from some of the
adverse circumstances of their condition. It was a very favourite spot with
her; and if she came hither in her happiest moments, it was here also her
saddest hours were passed, sure that in the cares and employments of her
loved plants she would find solace and consolation. It was at this window
Kate now sat with Nina, looking over the vast plain, on which a rich
moonlight was streaming, the shadows of fast-flitting clouds throwing
strange and fanciful effects over a space almost wide enough to be a
'What a deal have mere names to do with our imaginations, Nina!' said Kate.
'Is not that boundless sweep before us as fine as your boasted Campagna?
Does not the night wind career over it as joyfully, and is not the
moonlight as picturesque in its breaks by turf-clamp and hillock as by
ruined wall and tottering temple? In a word, are not we as well here, to
drink in all this delicious silence, as if we were sitting on your loved
'Don't ask me to share such heresies. I see nothing out there but bleak
desolation. I don't know if it ever had a past; I can almost swear it will
have no future. Let us not talk of it.'
'What shall we talk of?' asked Kate, with an arch smile.
'You know well enough what led me up here. I want to hear what you know of
that strange man Dick brought here to-day to dinner.'
'I never saw him before--never even heard of him.'
'Do you like him?'
'I have scarcely seen him.'
'Don't be so guarded and reserved. Tell me frankly the impression he makes
on you. Is he not vulgar--very vulgar?'
'How should I say, Nina? Of all the people you ever met, who knows so
little of the habits of society as myself? Those fine gentlemen who were
here the other day shocked my ignorance by numberless little displays
of indifference. Yet I can feel that they must have been paragons of
good-breeding, and that what I believed to be a very cool self-sufficiency,
was in reality the very latest London version of good manners.'
'Oh, you did not like that charming carelessness of Englishmen that goes
where it likes and when it likes, that does not wait to be answered when it
questions, and only insists on one thing, which is--"not to be bored." If
you knew, dearest Kate, how foreigners school themselves, and strive to
catch up that insouciance, and never succeed--never!'
'My brother's friend certainly is no adept in it.'
'He is insufferable. I don't know that the man ever dined in the company of
ladies before; did you remark that he did not open the door as we left the
dinner-room? and if your brother had not come over, I should have had to
open it for myself. I declare I'm not sure he stood up as we passed.'
'Oh yes; I saw him rise from his chair.'
'I'll tell you what you did not see. You did not see him open his napkin
at dinner. He stole his roll of bread very slyly from the folds, and then
placed the napkin, carefully folded, beside him.'
'You seem to have observed him closely, Nina.'
'I did so, because I saw enough in his manner to excite suspicion of his
class, and I want to know what Dick means by introducing him here.'
'Papa liked him; at least he said that after we left the room a good deal
of his shyness wore off, and that he conversed pleasantly and well. Above
all, he seems to know Ireland perfectly.'
'Indeed!' said she, half disdainfully.
'So much so that I was heartily sorry to leave the room when I heard them
begin the topic; but I saw papa wished to have some talk with him, and I
'They were gallant enough not to join us afterwards, though I think we
waited tea till ten.'
'Till nigh eleven, Nina; so that I am sure they must have been interested
in their conversation.'
'I hope the explanation excuses them.'
'I don't know that they are aware they needed an apology. Perhaps they were
affecting a little of that British insouciance you spoke of--'
'They had better not. It will sit most awkwardly on their Irish habits.'
'Some day or other I'll give you a formal battle on this score, Nina, and I
warn you you'll not come so well out of it.'
'Whenever you like. I accept the challenge. Make this brilliant companion
of your brother's the type, and it will test your cleverness, I promise
you. Do you even know his name?'
'Mr. Daniel, my brother called him; but I know nothing of his country or of
'Daniel is a Christian name, not a family name, is it not? We have scores
of people like that--Tommasina, Riccardi, and such like--in Italy, but they
'Our friend below-stairs looks as if _that_ was not his failing. I should
say that he means a good deal.'
'Oh, I know you are laughing at my stupid phrase--no matter; you understand
me, at all events. I don't like that man.'
'Dick's friends are not fortunate with you. I remember how unfavourably you
judged of Mr. Atlee from his portrait.'
'Well, he looked rather better than his picture--less false, I mean; or
perhaps it was that he had a certain levity of manner that carried off the
'What an amiable sort of levity!'
'You are too critical on me by half this evening,' said Nina pettishly; and
she arose and strolled out upon the leads.
For some time Kate was scarcely aware she had gone. Her head was full of
cares, and she sat trying to think some of them 'out,' and see her way to
deal with them. At last the door of the room slowly and noiselessly opened,
and Dick put in his head.
'I was afraid you might be asleep, Kate,' said he, entering, 'finding all
so still and quiet here.'
'No. Nina and I were chatting here--squabbling, I believe, if I were to
tell the truth; and I can't tell when she left me.'
'What could you be quarrelling about?' asked he, as he sat down beside her.
'I think it was with that strange friend of yours. We were not quite agreed
whether his manners were perfect, or his habits those of the well-bred
world. Then we wanted to know more of him, and each was dissatisfied that
the other was so ignorant; and, lastly, we were canvassing that very
peculiar taste you appear to have in friends, and were wondering where you
find your odd people.'
'So then you don't like Donogan?' said he hurriedly.
'Like whom? And you call him Donogan!'
'The mischief is out,' said he. 'Not that I wanted to have secrets from
you; but all the same, I am a precious bungler. His name is Donogan, and
what's more, it's Daniel Donogan. He was the same who figured in the dock
at, I believe, sixteen years of age, with Smith O'Brien and the others,
and was afterwards seen in England in '59, known as a head-centre, and
apprehended on suspicion in '60, and made his escape from Dartmoor the same
year. There's a very pretty biography in skeleton, is it not?'
'But, my dear Dick, how are you connected with him?'
'Not very seriously. Don't be afraid. I'm not compromised in any way,
nor does he desire that I should be. Here is the whole story of our
And now he told what the reader already knows of their first meeting and
the intimacy that followed it.
'All that will take nothing from the danger of harbouring a man charged as
he is,' said she gravely.
'That is to say, if he be tracked and discovered.'
'It is what I mean.'
'Well, one has only to look out of that window, and see where we are, and
what lies around us on every side, to be tolerably easy on that score.'
And, as he spoke, he arose and walked out upon the terrace.
'What, were you here all this time?' asked he, as he saw Nina seated on the
battlement, and throwing dried leaves carelessly to the wind.
'Yes, I have been here this half-hour, perhaps longer.'
'And heard what we have been saying within there?'
'Some chance words reached me, but I did not follow them.'
'Oh, it was here you were, then, Nina!' cried Kate. 'I am ashamed to say I
did not know it.'
'We got so warm in discussing your friend's merits or demerits, that we
parted in a sort of huff,' said Nina. 'I wonder was he worth quarrelling
'What should _you_ say?' asked Dick inquiringly, as he scanned her face.
'In any other land, I might say he was--that is, that some interest might
attach to him; but here, in Ireland, you all look so much brighter, and
wittier, and more impetuous, and more out of the common than you really
are, that I give up all divination of you, and own I cannot read you at
'I hope you like the explanation,' said Kate to her brother, laughing.
'I'll tell my friend of it in the morning,' said Dick; 'and as he is a
great national champion, perhaps he'll accept it as a defiance.'
'You do not frighten me by the threat,' said Nina calmly.
Dick looked from her face to her sister's and back again to hers, to
discern if he might how much she had overheard; but he could read nothing
in her cold and impassive bearing, and he went his way in doubt and
ON A VISIT AT KILGOBBIN
Before Kearney had risen from his bed the next morning, Donogan was in his
room, his look elated and his cheek glowing with recent exercise. 'I have
had a burst of two hours' sharp walking over the bog,' cried he; 'and it
has put me in such spirits as I have not known for many a year. Do you
know, Mr. Kearney, that what with the fantastic effects of the morning
mists, as they lift themselves over these vast wastes--the glorious patches
of blue heather and purple anemone that the sun displays through the
fog--and, better than all, the springiness of a soil that sends a thrill to
the heart, like a throb of youth itself, there is no walking in the world
can compare with a bog at sunrise! There's a sentiment to open a paper on
nationalities! I came up with the postboy, and took his letters to save him
a couple of miles. Here's one for you, I think from Atlee; and this is also
to your address, from Dublin; and here's the last number of the _Pike_,
and you'll see they have lost no time. There's a few lines about you. "Our
readers will be grateful to us for the tidings we announce to-day, with
authority--that Richard Kearney, Esq., son of Mathew Kearney, o Kilgobbin
Castle, will contest his native county at the approaching election. It will
be a proud day for Ireland when she shall see her representation in the
names of those who dignify the exalted station they hold in virtue of their
birth and blood, by claims of admitted talent and recognised ability. Mr.
Kearney, junior, has swept the university of its prizes, and the college
gate has long seen his name at the head of her prizemen. He contests the
seat in the National interest. It is needless to say all our sympathies,
and hopes, and best wishes go with him."'
Dick shook with laughing while the other read out the paragraph in a
high-sounding and pretentious tone.
'I hope,' said Kearney at last, 'that the information as to my college
successes is not vouched for on authority.'
'Who cares a fig about them? The phrase rounds off a sentence, and nobody
treats it like an affidavit.'
'But some one may take the trouble to remind the readers that my victories
have been defeats, and that in my last examination but one I got
'Do you imagine, Mr. Kearney, the House of Commons in any way reflects
college distinction? Do you look for senior-wranglers and double-firsts on
the Treasury bench? and are not the men who carry away distinction the men
of breadth, not depth? Is it not the wide acquaintance with a large field
of knowledge, and the subtle power to know how other men regard these
topics, that make the popular leader of the present day? and remember, it
is talk, and not oratory, is the mode. You must be commonplace, and even
vulgar, practical, dashed with a small morality, so as not to be classed
with the low Radical; and if then you have a bit of high-faluting for the
peroration, you'll do. The morning papers will call you a young man of
great promise, and the whip will never pass you without a shake-hands.'
'But there are good speakers.'
'There is Bright--I don't think I know another--and he only at times. Take
my word for it, the secret of success with "the collective wisdom" is
reiteration. Tell them the same thing, not once or twice or even ten, but
fifty times, and don't vary very much even the way you tell it. Go on
repeating your platitudes, and by the time you find you are cursing your
own stupid persistence, you may swear you have made a convert to your
opinions. If you are bent on variety, and must indulge it, ring your
changes on the man who brought these views before them--yourself, but
beyond these never soar. O'Connell, who had a variety at will for his own
countrymen, never tried it in England: he knew better. The chawbacons that
we sneer at are not always in smock-frocks, take my word for it; they many
of them wear wide-brimmed hats and broadcloth, and sit above the gangway.
Ay, sir,' cried he, warming with the theme, 'once I can get my countrymen
fully awakened to the fact of who and what are the men who rule them, I'll
ask for no Catholic Associations, or Repeal Committees, or Nationalist
Clubs--the card-house of British supremacy will tumble of itself; there
will be no conflict, but simply submission.'
'We're a long day's journey from these convictions, I suspect,' said
'Not so far, perhaps, as you think. Do you remark how little the English
press deal in abuse of us to what was once their custom? They have not, I
admit, come down to civility; but they don't deride us in the old fashion,
nor tell us, as I once saw, that we are intellectually and physically
stamped with inferiority. If it was true, Mr. Kearney, it was stupid to
tell it to us.'
'I think we could do better than dwell upon these things.'
'I deny that: deny it _in toto_. The moment you forget, in your dealings
with the Englishman, the cheap estimate he entertains, not alone of your
brains and your skill, but of your resolution, your persistence, your
strong will, ay, your very integrity, that moment, I say, places him in a
position to treat you as something below him. Bear in mind, however, how he
is striving to regard you, and it's your own fault if you're not his equal,
and something more perhaps. There was a man more than the master of them
all, and his name was Edmund Burke; and how did they treat _him_? How
insolently did they behave to O'Connell in the House till he put his heel
on them? Were they generous to Sheil? Were they just to Plunket? No, no.
The element that they decry in our people they know they have not got, and
they'd like to crush the race, when they cannot extinguish the quality.'
Donogan had so excited himself now that he walked up and down the room,
his voice ringing with emotion, and his arms wildly tossing in all the
extravagance of passion. 'This is from Joe Atlee,' said Kearney, as he tore
open the envelope:--
'"DEAR DICK,--I cannot account for the madness that seems to have seized
you, except that Dan Donogan, the most rabid dog I know, has bitten you. If
so, for Heaven's sake have the piece cut out at once, and use the strongest
cautery of common sense, if you know of any one who has a little to spare.
I only remembered yesterday that I ought to have told you I had sheltered
Dan in our rooms, but I can already detect that you have made his
acquaintance. He is not a bad fellow. He is sincere in his opinions, and
incorruptible, if that be the name for a man who, if bought to-morrow,
would not be worth sixpence to his owner.
'"Though I resigned all respect for my own good sense in telling it, I was
obliged to let H. E. know the contents of your despatch, and then, as I saw
he had never heard of Kilgobbin, or the great Kearney family, I told
more lies of your estated property, your county station, your influence
generally, and your abilities individually, than the fee-simple of your
property, converted into masses, will see me safe through purgatory; and I
have consequently baited the trap that has caught myself; for, persuaded
by my eloquent advocacy of you all, H. E. has written to Walpole to make
certain inquiries concerning you, which, if satisfactory, he, Walpole, will
put himself in communication with you, as to the extent and the mode to
which the Government will support you. I think I can see Dan Donogan's fine
hand in that part of your note which foreshadows a threat, and hints that
the Walpole story would, if published abroad, do enormous damage to the
Ministry. This, let me assure you, is a fatal error, and a blunder which
could only be committed by an outsider in political life. The days are long
past since a scandal could smash an administration; and we are so
strong now that arson or forgery could not hurt, and I don't think that
infanticide would affect us.
'"If you are really bent on this wild exploit, you should see Walpole,
and confer with him. You don't talk well, but you write worse, so avoid
correspondence, and do all your indiscretions verbally. Be angry if you
like with my candour, but follow my counsel.
'"See him, and show him, if you are able, that, all questions of
nationality apart, he may count upon your vote; that there are certain
impracticable and impossible conceits in politics--like repeal, subdivision
of land, restoration of the confiscated estates, and such like--on which
Irishmen insist on being free to talk balderdash, and air their patriotism;
but that, rightfully considered, they are as harmless and mean just as
little as a discussion on the Digamma, or a debate on perpetual motion. The
stupid Tories could never be brought to see this. Like genuine dolts, they
would have an army of supporters, one-minded with them in everything. We
know better, and hence we buy the Radical vote by a little coquetting
with communism, and the model working-man and the rebel by an occasional
gaol-delivery, and the Papist by a sop to the Holy Father. Bear in mind,
Dick--and it is the grand secret of political life--it takes all sort of
people to make a 'party.' When you have thoroughly digested this aphorism,
you are fit to start in the world.
'"If you were not so full of what I am sure you would call your 'legitimate
ambitions,' I'd like to tell you the glorious life we lead in this place.
Disraeli talks of 'the well-sustained splendour of their stately lives,'
and it is just the phrase for an existence in which all the appliances to
ease and enjoyment are supplied by a sort of magic, that never shows its
machinery, nor lets you hear the sound of its working. The saddle-horses
know when I want to ride by the same instinct that makes the butler give
me the exact wine I wish at my dinner. And so on throughout the day, 'the
sustained splendour' being an ever-present luxuriousness that I drink in
with a thirst that knows no slaking.
'"I have made a hit with H.E., and from copying some rather muddle-headed
despatches, I am now promoted to writing short skeleton sermons on
politics, which, duly filled out and fattened with official nutriment,
will one day astonish the Irish Office, and make one of the Nestors of
bureaucracy exclaim, 'See how Danesbury has got up the Irish question.'
'"I have a charming collaborateur, my lord's niece, who was acting as his
private secretary up to the time of my arrival, and whose explanation of a
variety of things I found to be so essential that, from being at first in
the continual necessity of seeking her out, I have now arrived at a point
at which we write in the same room, and pass our mornings in the library
till luncheon. She is stunningly handsome, as tall as the Greek cousin, and
with a stately grace of manner and a cold dignity of demeanour I'd give my
heart's blood to subdue to a mood of womanly tenderness and dependence. Up
to this, my position is that of a very humble courtier in the presence of a
queen, and she takes care that by no momentary forgetfulness shall I lose
sight of the 'situation.'
'"She is engaged, they say, to be married to Walpole; but as I have not
heard that he is heir-apparent, or has even the reversion to the crown of
Spain, I cannot perceive what the contract means.
'"I rode out with her to-day by special invitation, or permission--which
was it?--and in the few words that passed between us, she asked me if I had
long known Mr. Walpole, and put her horse into a canter without waiting for
'"With H. E. I can talk away freely, and without constraint. I am never
very sure that he does not know the things he questions me on better than
myself--a practice some of his order rather cultivate; but, on the whole,
our intercourse is easy. I know he is not a little puzzled about me, and I
intend that he should remain so.
'"When you have seen and spoken with Walpole, write me what has taken
place between you; and though I am fully convinced that what you intend is
unmitigated folly, I see so many difficulties in the way, such obstacles,
and such almost impossibilities to be overcome, that I think Fate will
be more merciful to you than your ambitions, and spare you, by an early
defeat, from a crushing disappointment.
'"Had you ambitioned to be a governor of a colony, a bishop, or a Queen's
messenger--they are the only irresponsible people I can think of--I
might have helped you; but this conceit to be a Parliament man is such
irredeemable folly, one is powerless to deal with it.
'"At all events, your time is not worth much, nor is your public character
of a very grave importance. Give them both, then, freely to the effort, but
do not let it cost you money, nor let Donogan persuade you that you are one
of those men who can make patriotism self-supporting.
'"H. E. hints at a very confidential mission on which he desires to employ
me; and though I should leave this place now with much regret, and a more
tender sorrow than I could teach you to comprehend, I shall hold myself
at his orders for Japan if he wants me. Meanwhile, write to me what
takes place with Walpole, and put your faith firmly in the good-will and
efficiency of yours truly,
'"If you think of taking Donogan down with you to Kilgobbin, I ought to
tell you that it would be a mistake. Women invariably dislike him, and he
would do you no credit.'"
Dick Kearney, who had begun to read this letter aloud, saw himself
constrained to continue, and went on boldly, without stop or hesitation, to
the last word.
'I am very grateful to you, Mr. Kearney, for this mark of trustfulness, and
I'm not in the least sore about all Joe has said of me.'
'He is not over complimentary to myself,' said Kearney, and the irritation
he felt was not to be concealed.
'There's one passage in his letter,' said the other thoughtfully, 'well
worth all the stress he lays on it. He tells you never to forget it "takes
all sorts of men to make a party." Nothing can more painfully prove the
fact than that we need Joe Atlee amongst ourselves! And it is true, Mr.
Kearney,' said he sternly, 'treason must now, to have any chance at all, be
many-handed. We want not only all sorts of men, but in all sorts of places;
and at tables where rebel opinions dared not be boldly announced and
defended, we want people who can coquet with felony, and get men to talk
over treason with little if any ceremony. Joe can do this--he can write,
and, what is better, sing you a Fenian ballad, and if he sees he has made a
mistake, he can quiz himself and his song as cavalierly as he has sung it!
And now, on my solemn oath I say it, I don't know that anything worse has
befallen us than the fact that there are such men as Joe Atlee amongst us,
and that we need them--ay, sir, we need them!'
'This is brief enough, at any rate,' said Kearney, as he broke open the
'"DUBLIN CASTLE, _Wednesday Evening_.
'"DEAR SIR,--Would you do me the great favour to call on me here at your
earliest convenient moment? I am still an invalid, and confined to a sofa,
or would ask for permission to meet you at your chambers.--Believe me,
'That cannot be delayed, I suppose?' said Kearney, in the tone of a
'I'll go up by the night-mail. You'll remain where you are, and where I
hope you feel you are with a welcome.'
'I feel it, sir--I feel it more than I can say.' And his face was blood-red
as he spoke.
'There are scores of things you can do while I am away. You'll have to
study the county in all its baronies and subdivisions. There, my sister can
help you; and you'll have to learn the names and places of our great county
swells, and mark such as may be likely to assist us. You'll have to stroll
about in our own neighbourhood, and learn what the people near home say of
the intention, and pick up what you can of public opinion in our towns of
Moate and Kilbeggan.'
'I have bethought me of all that---' He paused here and seemed to hesitate
if he should say more; and after an effort, he went on: 'You'll not take
amiss what I'm going to say, Mr. Kearney. You'll make full allowance for a
man placed as I am; but I want, before you go, to learn from you in what
way, or as what, you have presented me to your family? Am I a poor sizar of
Trinity, whose hard struggle with poverty has caught your sympathy? Am I a
chance acquaintance, whose only claim on you is being known to Joe Atlee?
I'm sure I need not ask you, have you called me by my real name and given
me my real character?'
Kearney flushed up to the eyes, and laying his hand on the other's
shoulder, said, 'This is exactly what I have done. I have told my sister
that you are the noted Daniel Donogan, United Irishman and rebel.'
'But only to your sister?'
'To none other.'
'_She_'ll not betray me, I know that.'
'You are right there, Donogan. Here's how it happened, for it was not
intended.' And now he related how the name had escaped him.
'So that the cousin knows nothing?'
'Nothing whatever. My sister Kate is not one to make rash confidences, and
you may rely on it she has not told her.'
'I hope and trust that this mistake will serve you for a lesson, Mr.
Kearney, and show you that to keep a secret, it is not enough to have an
honest intention, but a man must have a watch over his thoughts and a
padlock on his tongue. And now to something of more importance. In your
meeting with Walpole, mind one thing: no modesty, no humility; make your
demands boldly, and declare that your price is well worth the paying;
let him feel that, as he must make a choice between the priests and the
nationalists, we are the easier of the two to deal with: first of all, we
don't press for prompt payment; and, secondly, we'll not shock Exeter Hall!
Show him that strongly, and tell him that there are clever fellows amongst
us who'll not compromise him or his party, and will never desert him on a
close division. Oh dear me, how I wish I was going in your place.'
'So do I, with all my heart; but there's ten striking, and we shall be late
THE MOATE STATION
The train by which Miss Betty O'Shea expected her nephew was late in its
arrival at Moate, and Peter Gill, who had been sent with the car to fetch
him over, was busily discussing his second supper when the passengers
'Are you Mr. Gorman O'Shea, sir?' asked Peter of a well-dressed and
well-looking young man, who had just taken his luggage from the train.
'No; here he is,' replied he, pointing to a tall, powerful young fellow,
whose tweed suit and billycock hat could not completely conceal a
soldierlike bearing and a sort of compactness that comes of 'drill.'
'That's my name. What do you want with me?' cried he, in a loud but
'Only that Miss Betty has sent me over with the car for your honour, if
it's plazing to you to drive across.'
'What about this broiled bone, Miller?' asked O'Shea. 'I rather think I
like the notion better than when you proposed it.'
'I suspect you do,' said the other; 'but we'll have to step over to the
"Blue Goat." It's only a few yards off, and they'll be ready, for I
telegraphed them from town to be prepared as the train came in.'
'You seem to know the place well.'
'Yes. I may say I know something about it. I canvassed this part of the
county once for one of the Idlers, and I secretly determined, if I ever
thought of trying for a seat in the House, I'd make the attempt here. They
are a most pretentious set of beggars these small townsfolk, and they'd
rather hear themselves talk politics, and give their notions of what they
think "good for Ireland," than actually pocket bank-notes; and that,
my dear friend, is a virtue in a constituency never to be ignored or
forgotten. The moment, then, I heard of M----'s retirement, I sent off a
confidential emissary down here to get up what is called a requisition,
asking me to stand for the county. Here it is, and the answer, in this
morning's _Freeman_. You can read it at your leisure. Here we are now at
the "Blue Goat"; and I see they are expecting us.'
Not only was there a capital fire in the grate, and the table ready laid
for supper, but a half-dozen or more of the notabilities of Moate were in
waiting to receive the new candidate, and confer with him over the coming
'My companion is the nephew of an old neighbour of yours, gentlemen,' said
Miller; 'Captain Gorman O'Shea, of the Imperial Lancers of Austria. I know
you have heard of, if you have not seen him.'
A round of very hearty and demonstrative salutations followed, and O'Gorman
was well pleased at the friendly reception accorded him.
Austria was a great country, one of the company observed. They had got
liberal institutions and a free press, and they were good Catholics, who
would give those heretical Prussians a fine lesson one of these days; and
Gorman O'Shea's health, coupled with these sentiments, was drank with all
'There's a jolly old face that I ought to remember well,' said Gorman, as
he looked up at the portrait of Lord Kilgobbin over the chimney. 'When I
entered the service, and came back here on leave, he gave me the first
sword I ever wore, and treated me as kindly as if I was his son.'
The hearty speech elicited no response from the hearers, who only exchanged
significant looks with each other, while Miller, apparently less under
restraint, broke in with, 'That stupid adventure the English newspapers
called "The gallant resistance of Kilgobbin Castle" has lost that man the
esteem of Irishmen.'
A perfect burst of approval followed these words; and while young O'Shea
eagerly pressed for an explanation of an incident of which he heard for the
first time, they one and all proceeded to give their versions of what had
occurred; but with such contradictions, corrections, and emendations that
the young man might be pardoned if he comprehended little of the event.
'They say his son will contest the county with you, Mr. Miller,' cried one.
'Let me have no weightier rival, and I ask no more.'
'Faix, if he's going to stand,' said another, 'his father might have taken
the trouble to ask us for our votes. Would you believe it, sir, it's going
on six months since he put his foot in this room?'
'And do the "Goats" stand that?' asked Miller.
'I don't wonder he doesn't care to come into Moate. There's not a shop in
the town he doesn't owe money to.'
'And we never refused him credit---'
'For anything but his principles,' chimed in an old fellow, whose oratory
was heartily relished.
'He's going to stand in the National interest,' said one.
'That's the safe ticket when you have no money,' said another.
'Gentlemen,' said Miller, who rose to his legs to give greater importance
to his address:--'If we want to make Ireland a country to live in, the
only party to support is the Whig Government! The Nationalist may open the
gaols, give license to the press, hunt down the Orangemen, and make the
place generally too hot for the English. But are these the things that you
and I want or strive for? We want order and quietness in the land, and the
best places in it for ourselves to enjoy these blessings. Is Mr. Casey down
there satisfied to keep the post-office in Moate when he knows he could
be the first secretary in Dublin, at the head office, with two thousand a
year? Will my friend Mr. McGloin say that he'd rather pass his life here
than be a Commissioner of Customs, and live in Merrion Square? Ain't
we men? Ain't we fathers and husbands? Have we not sons to advance and
daughters to marry in the world, and how much will Nationalism do for
'I will not tell you that the Whigs love us or have any strong regard for
us; but they need us, gentlemen, and they know well that, without the
Radicals, and Scotland, and our party here, they couldn't keep power for
three weeks. Now why is Scotland a great and prosperous country? I'll tell
you. Scotland has no sentimental politics. Scotland says, in her own homely
adage, "Claw me and I'll claw thee." Scotland insists that there should
be Scotchmen everywhere--in the Post-Office, in the Privy Council, in
the Pipewater, and in the Punjab! Does Scotland go on vapouring about an
extinct nationality or the right of the Stuarts? Not a bit of it. She says,
Burn Scotch coal in the navy, though the smoke may blind you and you never
get up steam! She has no national absurdities: she neither asks for a flag
nor a Parliament. She demands only what will pay. And it is by supporting
the Whigs you will make Ireland as prosperous as Scotland. Literally, the
Fenians, gentlemen, will never make my friend yonder a baronet, or put me
on the Bench; and now that we are met here in secret committee, I can say
all this to you and none of it get abroad.
'Mind, I never told you the Whigs love us, or said that we love the Whigs;
but we can each of us help the other. When _they_ smash the Protestant
party, they are doing a fine stroke of work for Liberalism in pulling
down a cruel ascendency and righting the Romanists. And when we crush the
Protestants, we are opening the best places in the land to ourselves by
getting rid of our only rivals. Look at the Bench, gentlemen, and the high
offices of the courts. Have not we Papists, as they call us, our share
in both? And this is only the beginning, let me tell you. There is a
university in College Green due to us, and a number of fine palaces that
their bishops once lived in, and grand old cathedrals whose very names show
the rightful ownership; and when we have got all these--as the Whigs will
give them one day--even then we are only beginning. And now turn the other
side, and see what you have to expect from the Nationalists. Some very hard
fighting and a great number of broken heads. I give in that you'll drive
the English out, take the Pigeon-House Fort, capture the Magazine, and
carry away the Lord-Lieutenant in chains. And what will you have for it,
after all, but another scrimmage amongst yourselves for the spoils. Mr.
Mullen, of the _Pike_, will want something that Mr. Darby McKeown, of the
_Convicted Felon_, has just appropriated; Tom Casidy, that burned the Grand
Master of the Orangemen, finds that he is not to be pensioned for life; and
Phil Costigan, that blew up the Lodge in the Park, discovers that he is not
even to get the ruins as building materials. I tell you, my friends, it's
not in such convulsions as these that you and I, and other sensible men
like us, want to pass our lives. We look for a comfortable berth and
quarter-day; that's what we compound for--quarter-day--and I give it to you
as a toast with all the honours.'
And certainly the rich volume of cheers that greeted the sentiment vouched
for a hearty and sincere recognition of the toast.
'The chaise is ready at the door, councillor,' cried the landlord,
addressing Mr. Miller, and after a friendly shake-hands all round, Miller
slipped his arm through O'Shea's and drew him apart.
'I'll be back this way in about ten days or so, and I'll ask you to present
me to your aunt. She has got above a hundred votes on her property, and I
think I can count upon you to stand by me.'
'I can, perhaps, promise you a welcome at the Barn,' muttered the young
fellow in some confusion; 'but when you have seen my aunt, you'll
understand why I give you no pledges on the score of political support.'
'Oh, is that the way?' asked Miller, with a knowing laugh.
'Yes, that's the way, and no mistake about it,' replied O'Shea, and they
HOW THE 'GOATS' REVOLTED
In less than a week after the events last related, the members of the
'Goat Club' were summoned to an extraordinary and general meeting, by an
invitation from the vice-president, Mr. McGloin, the chief grocer and
hardware dealer of Kilbeggan. The terms of this circular seemed to indicate
importance, for it said--'To take into consideration a matter of vital
interest to the society.'
Though only the denizen of a very humble country town, McGloin possessed
certain gifts and qualities which might have graced a higher station. He
was the most self-contained and secret of men; he detected mysterious
meanings in every--the smallest--event of life; and as he divulged none of
his discoveries, and only pointed vaguely and dimly to the consequences, he
got credit for the correctness of his unuttered predictions as completely
as though he had registered his prophecies as copyright at Stationers'
Hall. It is needless to say that on every question, religious, social, or
political, he was the paramount authority of the town. It was but rarely
indeed that a rebellious spirit dared to set up an opinion in opposition to
his; but if such a hazardous event were to occur, he would suppress it with
a dignity of manner which derived no small aid from the resources of a
mind rich in historical parallel; and it was really curious for those who
believe that history is always repeating itself, to remark how frequently
John McGloin represented the mind and character of Lycurgus, and how often
poor old, dreary, and bog-surrounded Moate recalled the image of Sparta and
its 'sunny slopes.'
Now, there is one feature of Ireland which I am not quite sure is very
generally known or appreciated on the other side of St. George's Channel,
and this is the fierce spirit of indignation called up in a county
habitually quiet, when the newspapers bring it to public notice as the
scene of some lawless violence. For once there is union amongst Irishmen.
Every class, from the estated proprietor to the humblest peasant, is loud
in asserting that the story is an infamous falsehood. Magistrates, priests,
agents, middlemen, tax-gatherers, and tax-payers rush into print to abuse
the 'blackguard'--he is always the blackguard--who invented the lie;
and men upwards of ninety are quoted to show that so long as they could
remember, there never was a man injured, nor a rick burned, nor a heifer
hamstrung in the six baronies round! Old newspapers are adduced to show
how often the going judge of assize has complimented the grand-jury on the
catalogue of crime; in a word, the whole population is ready to make oath
that the county is little short of a terrestrial paradise, and that it is
a district teeming with gentle landlords, pious priests, and industrious
peasants, without a plague-spot on the face of the county, except it be
the police-barrack, and the company of lazy vagabonds with crossbelts and
carbines that lounge before it. When, therefore, the press of Dublin at
first, and afterwards of the empire at large, related the night attack for
arms at Kilgobbin Castle, the first impulse of the county at large was
to rise up in the face of the nation and deny the slander! Magistrates
consulted together whether the high-sheriff should not convene a meeting of
the county. Priests took counsel with the bishop, whether notice should not
be taken of the calumny from the altar. The small shopkeepers of the small
towns, assuming that their trade would be impaired by these rumours of
disturbance--just as Parisians used to declaim against barricades in the
streets--are violent in denouncing the malignant falsehoods upon a quiet
and harmless community; so that, in fact, every rank and condition vied
with its neighbour in declaring that the whole story was a base tissue
of lies, and which could only impose upon those who knew nothing of
the county, nor of the peaceful, happy, and brother-like creatures who
It was not to be supposed that, at such a crisis, Mr. John McGloin would be
inactive or indifferent. As a man of considerable influence at elections,
he had his weight with a county member, Mr. Price; and to him he wrote,
demanding that he should ask in the House what correspondence had passed
between Mr. Kearney and the Castle authorities with reference to this
supposed outrage, and whether the law-officers of the Crown, or the adviser
of the Viceroy, or the chiefs of the local police, or--to quote the exact
words--'any sane or respectable man in the county' believed on word of the
story. Lastly, that he would also ask whether any and what correspondence
had passed between Mr. Kearney and the Chief Secretary with respect to a
small house on the Kilgobbin property, which Mr. Kearney had suggested as
a convenient police-station, and for which he asked a rent of twenty-five
pounds per annum; and if such correspondence existed, whether it had any or
what relation to the rumoured attack on Kilgobbin Castle?
If it should seem strange that a leading member of the 'Goat Club' should
assail its president, the explanation is soon made: Mr. McGloin had long
desired to be the chief himself. He and many others had seen, with some
irritation and displeasure, the growing indifference of Mr. Kearney for the
'Goats.' For many months he had never called them together, and several
members had resigned, and many more threatened resignation. It was time,
then, that some energetic steps should be taken. The opportunity for this
was highly favourable. Anything unpatriotic, anything even unpopular in
Kearney's conduct, would, in the then temper of the club, be sufficient to
rouse them to actual rebellion; and it was to test this sentiment, and, if
necessary, to stimulate it, Mr. McGloin convened a meeting, which a
bylaw of the society enabled him to do at any period when, for the three
preceding months, the president had not assembled the club.
Though the members generally were not a little proud of their president,
and deemed it considerable glory to them to have a viscount for their
chief, and though it gave great dignity to their debates that the rising
speaker should begin 'My Lord and Buck Goat,' yet they were not without
dissatisfaction at seeing how cavalierly he treated them, what slight value
he appeared to attach to their companionship, and how perfectly indifferent
he seemed to their opinions, their wishes, or their wants.
There were various theories in circulation to explain this change of temper
in their chief. Some ascribed it to young Kearney, who was a 'stuck-up'
young fellow, and wanted his father to give himself greater airs and
pretensions. Others opinioned it was the daughter, who, though she played
Lady Bountiful among the poor cottiers, and affected interest in the
people, was in reality the proudest of them all. And last of all, there
were some who, in open defiance of chronology, attributed the change to a
post-dated event, and said that the swells from the Castle were the ruin
of Mathew Kearney, and that he was never the same man since the day he saw
Whether any of these were the true solution of the difficulty or not,
Kearney's popularity was on the decline at the moment when this unfortunate
narrative of the attack on his castle aroused the whole county and excited
their feelings against him. Mr. McGloin took every step of his proceeding
with due measure and caution: and having secured a certain number of
promises of attendance at the meeting, he next notified to his lordship,
how, in virtue of a certain section of a certain law, he had exercised his
right of calling the members together; and that he now begged respectfully
to submit to the chief, that some of the matters which would be submitted
to the collective wisdom would have reference to the 'Buck Goat' himself,
and that it would be an act of great courtesy on his part if he should
condescend to be present and afford some explanation.
That the bare possibility of being called to account by the 'Goats' would
drive Kearney into a ferocious passion, if not a fit of the gout, McGloin
knew well; and that the very last thing on his mind would be to come
amongst them, he was equally sure of: so that in giving his invitation
there was no risk whatever. Mathew Kearney's temper was no secret; and
whenever the necessity should arise that a burst of indiscreet anger should
be sufficient to injure a cause, or damage a situation, 'the lord' could be
calculated on with a perfect security. McGloin understood this thoroughly;
nor was it matter of surprise to him that a verbal reply of 'There is
no answer' was returned to his note; while the old servant, instead of
stopping the ass-cart as usual for the weekly supply of groceries at
McGloin's, repaired to a small shop over the way, where colonial products
were rudely jostled out of their proper places by coils of rope, sacks of
rape-seed, glue, glass, and leather, amid which the proprietor felt far
more at home than amidst mixed pickles and mocha.
Mr. McGloin, however, had counted the cost of his policy: he knew well that
for the ambition to succeed his lordship as Chief of the Club, he should
have to pay by the loss of the Kilgobbin custom; and whether it was that
the greatness in prospect was too tempting to resist, or that the sacrifice
was smaller than it might have seemed, he was prepared to risk the venture.
The meeting was in so far a success that it was fully attended. Such a
flock of 'Goats' had not been seen by them since the memory of man, nor was
the unanimity less remarkable than the number; and every paragraph of
Mr. McGloin's speech was hailed with vociferous cheers and applause, the
sentiment of the assembly being evidently highly National, and the feeling
that the shame which the Lord of Kilgobbin had brought down upon their
county was a disgrace that attached personally to each man there present;
and that if now their once happy and peaceful district was to be proclaimed
under some tyranny of English law, or, worse still, made a mark for the
insult and sarcasm of the _Times_ newspaper, they owed the disaster and the
shame to no other than Mathew Kearney himself.
'I will now conclude with a resolution,' said McGloin, who, having filled
the measure of allegation, proceeded to the application. 'I shall move that
it is the sentiment of this meeting that Lord Kilgobbin be called on to
disavow, in the newspapers, the whole narrative which has been circulated
of the attack on his house; that he declare openly that the supposed
incident was a mistake caused by the timorous fears of his household,
during his own absence from home: terrors aggravated by the unwarrantable
anxiety of an English visitor, whose ignorance of Ireland had worked upon
an excited imagination; and that a copy of the resolution be presented to
his lordship, either in letter or by a deputation, as the meeting shall
While the discussion was proceeding as to the mode in which this bold
resolution should be most becomingly brought under Lord Kilgobbin's notice,
a messenger on horseback arrived with a letter for McGloin. The bearer was
in the Kilgobbin livery, and a massive seal, with the noble lord's arms,
attested the despatch to be from himself.
'Shall I put the resolution to the vote, or read this letter first,
gentlemen?' said the chairman.
'Read! read!' was the cry, and he broke the seal. It ran thus:--
'Mr. McGloin,--Will you please to inform the members of the "Goat Club" at
Moate that I retire from the presidency, and cease to be a member of that
society? I was vain enough to believe at one time that the humanising
element of even one gentleman in the vulgar circle of a little obscure
town, might have elevated the tone of manners and the spirit of social
intercourse. I have lived to discover my great mistake, and that the
leadership of a man like yourself is far more likely to suit the instincts
and chime in with the sentiments of such a body.--Your obedient and
The cry which followed the reading of this document can only be described
as a howl. It was like the enraged roar of wild animals, rather than the
union of human voices; and it was not till after a considerable interval
that McGloin could obtain a hearing. He spoke with great vigour and
fluency. He denounced the letter as an outrage which should be proclaimed
from one end of Europe to the other; that it was not their town, or their
club, or themselves had been insulted, but Ireland! that this mock-lord
(cheers)--this sham viscount--(greater cheers)--this Brummagem peer, whose
nobility their native courtesy and natural urbanity had so long deigned to
accept as real, should now be taught that his pretensions only existed on
sufferance, and had no claim beyond the polite condescension of men whom
it was no stretch of imagination to call the equals of Mathew Kearney.
The cries that received this were almost deafening, and lasted for some
'Send the ould humbug his picture there,' cried a voice from the crowd, and
the sentiment was backed by a roar of voices; and it was at once decreed
the portrait should accompany the letter which the indignant 'Goats' now
commissioned their chairman to compose.
That same evening saw the gold-framed picture on its way to Kilgobbin
Castle, with an ample-looking document, whose contents we have no curiosity
to transcribe--nor, indeed, is the whole incident one which we should have
cared to obtrude upon our readers, save as a feeble illustration of the way
in which the smaller rills of public opinion swell the great streams of
life, and how the little events of existence serve now as impulses, now
obstacles, to the larger interests that sway fortune. So long as Mathew
Kearney drank his punch at the 'Blue Goat' he was a patriot and a
Nationalist; but when he quarrelled with his flock, he renounced his
Irishry, and came out a Whig.
AN UNLOOKED-FOR PLEASURE
When Dick Kearney waited on Cecil Walpole at his quarters in the Castle, he
was somewhat surprised to find that gentleman more reserved in manner, and
in general more distant, than when he had seen him as his father's guest.
Though he extended two fingers of his hand on entering, and begged him to
be seated, Walpole did not take a chair himself, but stood with his back to
the fire--the showy skirts of a very gorgeous dressing-gown displayed over
his arms--where he looked like some enormous bird exulting in the full
effulgence of his bright plumage.
'You got my note, Mr. Kearney?' began he, almost before the other had
sat down, with the air of a man whose time was too precious for mere
'It is the reason of my present visit,' said Dick dryly.
'Just so. His Excellency instructed me to ascertain in what shape most
acceptable to your family he might show the sense entertained by the
Government of that gallant defence of Kilgobbin; and believing that the
best way to meet a man's wishes is first of all to learn what the wishes
are, I wrote you the few lines of yesterday.'
'I suspect there must be a mistake somewhere,' began Kearney, with
difficulty. 'At least, I intimated to Atlee the shape in which the
Viceroy's favour would be most agreeable to us, and I came here prepared to
find you equally informed on the matter.'
'Ah, indeed! I know nothing--positively nothing. Atlee telegraphed me, "See
Kearney, and hear what he has to say. I write by post.--ATLEE." There's the
whole of it.'
'And the letter--'
'The letter is there. It came by the late mail, and I have not opened it.'
'Would it not be better to glance over it now?' said Dick mildly.
'Not if you can give me the substance by word of mouth. Time, they tell
us, is money, and as I have got very little of either, I am obliged to be
parsimonious. What is it you want? I mean the sort of thing we could help
you to obtain. I see,' said he, smiling, 'you had rather I should read
Atlee's letter. Well, here goes.' He broke the envelope, and began:--
'"MY DEAR MR. WALPOLE,--I hoped by this time to have had a report to make
you of what I had done, heard, seen, and imagined since my arrival, and yet
here I am now towards the close of my second week, and I have nothing to
tell; and beyond a sort of confused sense of being immensely delighted with
my mode of life, I am totally unconscious of the flight of time.
'"His Excellency received me once for ten minutes, and later on, after some
days, for half an hour; for he is confined to bed with gout, and forbidden
by his doctor all mental labour. He was kind and courteous to a degree,
hoped I should endeavour to make myself at home--giving orders at the same
time that my dinner should be served at my own hour, and the stables placed
at my disposal for riding or driving. For occupation, he suggested I should
see what the newspapers were saying, and make a note or two if anything
struck me as remarkable.
'"Lady Maude is charming--and I use the epithet in all the significance of
its sorcery. She conveys to me each morning his Excellency's instructions
for my day's work; and it is only by a mighty effort I can tear myself from
the magic thrill of her voice, and the captivation of her manner, to follow
what I have to reply to, investigate, and remark on.
'"I meet her each day at luncheon, and she says she will join me 'some day
at dinner.' When that glorious occasion arrives, I shall call it the
event of my life, for her mere presence stimulates me to such effort in
conversation that I feel in the very lassitude afterwards what a strain my
faculties have undergone."'
'What an insufferable coxcomb, and an idiot to boot!' cried Walpole.
'I could not do him a more spiteful turn than to tell my cousin of her
conquest. There is another page, I see, of the same sort. But here you
are--this is all about you: I'll read it. "In _re_ Kearney. The Irish are
always logical; and as Miss Kearney once shot some of her countrymen, when
on a mission they deemed National, her brother opines that he ought to
represent the principles thus involved in Parliament."'
'Is this the way in which he states my claims!' broke in Dick, with
'Bear in mind, Mr. Kearney, this jest, and a very poor one it is, was meant
for me alone. The communication is essentially private, and it is only
through my indiscretion you know anything of it whatever.'
'I am not aware that any confidence should entitle him to write such an
'In that case, I shall read no more,' said Walpole, as he slowly refolded
the letter.' The fault is all on my side, Mr. Kearney,' he continued;' but
I own I thought you knew your friend so thoroughly that extravagance on his
part could have neither astonished nor provoked you.'
'You are perfectly right, Mr. Walpole; I apologise for my impatience. It
was, perhaps, in hearing his words read aloud by another that I forgot
myself, and if you will kindly continue the reading, I will promise to
behave more suitably in future.'
Walpole reopened the letter, but, whether indisposed to trust the pledge
thus given, or to prolong the interview, ran his eyes over one side and
then turned to the last page. 'I see,' said he, 'he augurs ill as to your
chances of success; he opines that you have not well calculated the great
cost of the venture, and that in all probability it has been suggested by
some friend of questionable discretion. "At all events,"' and here he read
aloud--'"at all events, his Excellency says, 'We should like to mark the
Kilgobbin affair by some show of approbation; and though supporting young
K. in a contest for his county is a "higher figure" than we meant to pay,
see him, and hear what he has to say of his prospects--what he can do to
obtain a seat, and what he will do if he gets one. We need not caution
him against'"--'hum, hum, hum,' muttered he, slurring over the words, and
endeavouring to pass on to something else.
'May I ask against what I am supposed to be so secure?'
'Oh, nothing, nothing. A very small impertinence, but which Mr. Atlee found
'Pray let me hear it. It shall not irritate me.'
'He says, "There will be no more a fear of bribery in your case than of a
debauch at Father Mathew's."'
'He is right there,' said Kearney. 'The only difference is that our
forbearance will be founded on something stronger than a pledge.'
Walpole looked at the speaker, and was evidently struck by the calm command
he had displayed of his passion.
'If we could forget Joe Atlee for a few minutes, Mr. Walpole, we might
possibly gain something. I, at least, would be glad to know how far I might
count on the Government aid in my project.'
'Ah, you want to--in fact, you would like that we should give you something
like a regular--eh?--that is to say, that you could declare to certain
people--naturally enough, I admit; but here is how we are, Kearney.
Of course what I say now is literally between ourselves, and strictly
'I shall so understand it,' said the other gravely.
'Well, now, here it is. The Irish vote, as the Yankees would call it, is of
undoubted value to us, but it is confoundedly dear! With Cardinal Cullen on
one side and Fenianism on the other, we have no peace. Time was when you
all pulled the one way, and a sop to the Pope pleased you all. Now that
will suffice no longer. The "Sovereign Pontiff dodge" is the surest of all
ways to offend the Nationals; so that, in reality, what we want in the
House is a number of Liberal Irishmen who will trust the Government to do
as much for the Catholic Church as English bigotry will permit, and as much
for the Irish peasant as will not endanger the rights of property over the
'There's a wide field there, certainly,' said Dick, smiling.
'Is there not?' cried the other exultingly. 'Not only does it bowl over the
Established Church and Protestant ascendency, but it inverts the position
of landlord and tenant. To unsettle everything in Ireland, so that anybody
might hope to be anything, or to own Heaven knows what--to legalise
gambling for existence to a people who delight in high play, and yet not
involve us in a civil war--was a grand policy, Kearney, a very grand
policy. Not that I expect a young, ardent spirit like yourself, fresh from
college ambitions and high-flown hopes, will take this view.'
Dick only smiled and shook his head.
'Just so,' resumed Walpole. 'I could not expect you to like this programme,
and I know already all that you allege against it; but, as B. says,
Kearney, the man who rules Ireland must know how to take command of a
ship in a state of mutiny, and yet never suppress the revolt. There's the
problem--as much discipline as you can, as much indiscipline as you
can bear. The brutal old Tories used to master the crew and hang the
ringleaders; and for that matter, they might have hanged the whole ship's
company. We know better, Kearney; and we have so confused and addled them
by our policy, that, if a fellow were to strike his captain, he would never
be quite sure whether he was to be strung up at the gangway or made a
petty-officer. Do you see it now?'
'I can scarcely say that I do see it--I mean, that I see it as _you_ do.'
'I scarcely could hope that you should, or, at least, that you should do
so at once; but now, as to this seat for King's County, I believe we have
already found our man. I'll not be sure, nor will I ask you to regard the
matter as fixed on, but I suspect we are in relations--you know what I
mean--with an old supporter, who has been beaten half-a-dozen times in our
interest, but is coming up once more. I'll ascertain about this positively,
and let you know. And then'--here he drew breath freely and talked more at
ease--'if we should find our hands free, and that we see our way clearly
to support you, what assurance could you give us that you would go through
with the contest, and fight the battle out?'
'I believe, if I engage in the struggle, I shall continue to the end,' said
Dick, half doggedly.
'Your personal pluck and determination I do not question for a moment. Now,
let us see'--here he seemed to ruminate for some seconds, and looked like
one debating a matter with himself. 'Yes,' cried he at last, 'I believe
that will be the best way. I am sure it will. When do you go back, Mr.
Kearney--to Kilgobbin, I mean?'
'My intention was to go down the day after to-morrow.'
'That will be Friday. Let us see, what is Friday? Friday is the 15th, is it
'Friday'--muttered the other--'Friday? There's the Education Board, and the
Harbour Commissioners, and something else at--to be sure, a visit to the
Popish schools with Dean O'Mahony. You couldn't make it Saturday, could
'Not conveniently. I had already arranged a plan for Saturday. But why
should I delay here--to what end?'
'Only that, if you could say Saturday, I would like to go down with you.'
From the mode in which he said these words, it was clear that he looked for
an almost rapturous acceptance of his gracious proposal; but Dick did not
regard the project in that light, nor was he overjoyed in the least at the
'I mean,' said Walpole, hastening to relieve the awkwardness of silence--'I
mean that I could talk over this affair with your father in a practical
business fashion, that you could scarcely enter into. Still, if Saturday
could not be managed, I'll try if I could not run down with you on Friday.
Only for a day, remember, I must return by the evening train. We shall
arrive by what hour?'
'By breakfast-time,' said Dick, but still not over-graciously.
'Nothing could be better; that will give us a long day, and I should like
a full discussion with your father. You'll manage to send me on to--what's
'Moate. Yes; that's the place. The up-train leaves at midnight, I remember.
Now that's all settled. You'll take me up, then, here on Friday morning,
Kearney, on your way to the station, and meanwhile I'll set to work, and
put off these deputations and circulars till Saturday, when, I remember, I
have a dinner with the provost. Is there anything more to be thought of?'
'I believe not,' muttered Dick, still sullenly.
'Bye-bye, then, till Friday morning,' said he, as he turned towards his
desk, and began arranging a mass of papers before him.
'Here's a jolly mess with a vengeance,' muttered Kearney, as he descended
the stair. 'The Viceroy's private secretary to be domesticated with a
"head-centre" and an escaped convict. There's not even the doubtful comfort
of being able to make my family assist me through the difficulty.'
PLMNUDDM CASTLE, NORTH WALES
Among the articles of that wardrobe of Cecil Walpole's of which Atlee
had possessed himself so unceremoniously, there was a very gorgeous blue
dress-coat, with the royal button and a lining of sky-blue silk, which
formed the appropriate costume of the gentlemen of the viceregal household.
This, with a waistcoat to match, Atlee had carried off with him in
the indiscriminating haste of a last moment, and although thoroughly
understanding that he could not avail himself of a costume so distinctively
the mark of a condition, yet, by one of the contrarieties of his strange
nature, in which the desire for an assumption of any kind was a passion, he
had tried on that coat fully a dozen times, and while admiring how well it
became him, and how perfectly it seemed to suit his face and figure, he had
dramatised to himself the part of an aide-de-camp in waiting, rehearsing
the little speeches in which he presented this or that imaginary person to
his Excellency, and coining the small money of epigram in which he related
the news of the day.
'How I should cut out those dreary subalterns with their mess-room
drolleries, how I should shame those tiresome cornets, whose only glitter
is on their sabretaches!' muttered he, as he surveyed himself in his
courtly attire. 'It is all nonsense to say that the dress a man wears can
only impress the surrounders. It is on himself, on his own nature
and temper, his mind, his faculties, his very ambition, there is a
transformation effected; and I, Joe Atlee, feel myself, as I move about in
this costume, a very different man from that humble creature in grey tweed,
whose very coat reminds him he is a "cad," and who has but to look in the
glass to read his condition.'
On the morning he learned that Lady Maude would join him that day at
dinner, Atlee conceived the idea of appearing in this costume. It was not
only that she knew nothing of the Irish Court and its habits, but she made
an almost ostentatious show of her indifference to all about it, and in the
few questions she asked, the tone of interrogation might have suited Africa
as much as Ireland. It was true, she was evidently puzzled to know what
place or condition Atlee occupied; his name was not familiar to her, and
yet he seemed to know everything and everybody, enjoyed a large share of
his Excellency's confidence, and appeared conversant with every detail
placed before him.
That she would not directly ask him what place he occupied in the household
he well knew, and he felt at the same time what a standing and position
that costume would give him, what self-confidence and ease it would also
confer, and how, for once in his life, free from the necessity of asserting
a station, he could devote all his energies to the exercise of agreeability
and those resources of small-talk in which he knew he was a master.
Besides all this, it was to be his last day at the castle--he was to start
the next morning for Constantinople, with all instructions regarding the
spy Speridionides, and he desired to make a favourable impression on Lady
Maude before he left. Though intensely, even absurdly vain, Atlee was one
of those men who are so eager for success in life that they are ever on the
watch lest any weakness of disposition or temper should serve to compromise
their chances, and in this way he was led to distrust what he would in his
puppyism have liked to have thought a favourable effect produced by him on
her ladyship. She was intensely cold in manner, and yet he had made her
more than once listen to him with interest. She rarely smiled, and he had
made her actually laugh. Her apathy appeared complete, and yet he had so
piqued her curiosity that she could not forbear a question.
Acting as her uncle's secretary, and in constant communication with him, it
was her affectation to imagine herself a political character, and she did
not scruple to avow the hearty contempt she felt for the usual occupation
of women's lives. Atlee's knowledge, therefore, actually amazed her: his
hardihood, which never forsook him, enabled him to give her the most
positive assurances on anything he spoke; and as he had already fathomed
the chief prejudices of his Excellency, and knew exactly where and to
what his political wishes tended, she heard nothing from her uncle but
expressions of admiration for the just views, the clear and definite ideas,
and the consummate skill with which that 'young fellow' distinguished
'We shall have him in the House one of these days,' he would say; 'and I am
much mistaken if he will not make a remarkable figure there.'
When Lady Maude sailed proudly into the library before dinner, Atlee
was actually stunned by amazement at her beauty. Though not in actual
evening-dress, her costume was that sort of demi-toilet compromise which
occasionally is most becoming; and the tasteful lappet of Brussels lace,
which, interwoven with her hair, fell down on either side so as to frame
her face, softened its expression to a degree of loveliness he was not
It was her pleasure--her caprice, perhaps--to be on this occasion unusually
amiable and agreeable. Except by a sort of quiet dignity, there was no
coldness, and she spoke of her uncle's health and hopes just as she might
have discussed them with an old friend of the house.
When the butler flung wide the folding-doors into the dining-room and
announced dinner, she was about to move on, when she suddenly stopped, and
said, with a faint smile, 'Will you give me your arm?' Very simple words,
and commonplace too, but enough to throw Atlee's whole nature into a
convulsion of delight. And as he walked at her side it was in the very
ecstasy of pride and exultation.
Dinner passed off with the decorous solemnity of that meal, at which
the most emphatic utterances were the butler's 'Marcobrunner,' or
'Johannisberg.' The guests, indeed, spoke little, and the strangeness of
their situation rather disposed to thought than conversation.
'You are going to Constantinople to-morrow, Mr. Atlee, my uncle tells me,'
said she, after a longer silence than usual.
'Yes; his Excellency has charged me with a message, of which I hope to
acquit myself well, though I own to my misgivings about it now.'
'You are too diffident, perhaps, of your powers,' said she; and there was a
faint curl of the lip that made the words sound equivocally.
'I do not know if great modesty be amongst my failings,' said he
laughingly. 'My friends would say not.'
'You mean, perhaps, that you are not without ambitions?'
'That is true. I confess to very bold ones.' And as he spoke he stole a
glance towards her; but her pale face never changed.
'I wish, before you had gone, that you had settled that stupid muddle about
the attack on--I forget the place.'
'Yes, Kil-gobbin--horrid name!--for the Premier still persists in thinking
there was something in it, and worrying my uncle for explanations; and as
somebody is to ask something when Parliament meets, it would be as well to
have a letter to read to the House.'
'In what sense, pray?' asked Atlee mildly.
'Disavowing all: stating the story had no foundation: that there was no
attack--no resistance--no member of the viceregal household present at any
'That would be going too far; for then we should next have to deny
Walpole's broken arm and his long confinement to house.'
'You may serve coffee in a quarter of an hour, Marcom,' said she,
dismissing the butler; and then, as he left the room--'And you tell me
seriously there was a broken arm in this case?'
'I can hide nothing from you, though I have taken an oath to silence,'
said he, with an energy that seemed to defy repression. 'I will tell you
everything, though it's little short of a perjury, only premising this
much, that I know nothing from Walpole himself.'
With this much of preface, he went on to describe Walpole's visit to
Kilgobbin as one of those adventurous exploits which young Englishmen fancy
they have a sort of right to perform in the less civilised country. 'He
imagined, I have no doubt,' said he, 'that he was studying the condition of
Ireland, and investigating the land question, when he carried on a fierce
flirtation with a pretty Irish girl.'
'And there was a flirtation?'
'Yes, but nothing more. Nothing really serious at any time. So far he
behaved frankly and well, for even at the outset of the affair he owned
to--a what shall I call it?--an entanglement was, I believe, his own
word--an entanglement in England--'
'Did he not state more of this entanglement, with whom it was, or how, or
'I should think not. At all events, they who told me knew nothing of these
details. They only knew, as he said, that he was in a certain sense tied
up, and that till Fate unbound him he was a prisoner.'
'Poor fellow, it _was_ hard.'
'So _he_ said, and so _they_ believed him. Not that I myself believe he was
ever seriously in love with the Irish girl.'
'And why not?'
'I may be wrong in my reading of him; but my impression is that he regards
marriage as one of those solemn events which should contribute to a man's
worldly fortune. Now an Irish connection could scarcely be the road to
'What an ungallant admission,' said she, with a smile. 'I hope Mr. Walpole
is not of your mind.' After a pause she said, 'And how was it that in your
intimacy he told you nothing of this?'
He shook his head in dissent.
'Not even of the "entanglement"?'
'Not even of that. He would speak freely enough of his "egregious blunder,"
as he called it, in quitting his career and coming to Ireland; that it was
a gross mistake for any man to take up Irish politics as a line in life;
that they were puzzles in the present and lead to nothing in the future,
and, in fact, that he wished himself back again in Italy every day he
'Was there any "entanglement" there also?'
'I cannot say. On these he made me no confidences.'
'Coffee, my lady!' said the butler, entering at this moment. Nor was Atlee
grieved at the interruption.
'I am enough of a Turk,' said she laughingly, 'to like that muddy, strong
coffee they give you in the East, and where the very smallness of the cups
suggests its strength. You, I know, are impatient for your cigarette, Mr.
Atlee, and I am about to liberate you.' While Atlee was muttering his
assurances of how much he prized her presence, she broke in, 'Besides,
I promised my uncle a visit before tea-time, and as I shall not see you
again, I will wish you now a pleasant journey and a safe return.'
'Wish me success in my expedition,' said he eagerly.
'Yes, I will wish that also. One word more. I am very short-sighted, as you
may see, but you wear a ring of great beauty. May I look at it?'
'It is pretty, certainly. It was a present Walpole made me. I am not sure
that there is not a story attached to it, though I don't know it.'
'Perhaps it may be linked with the "entanglement,'" said she, laughing
'For aught I know, so it may. Do you admire it?'
'Immensely,' said she, as she held it to the light.
'You can add immensely to its value if you will,' said he diffidently.
'In what way?'
[Illustration: 'You wear a ring of great beauty--may I look at it?']
'By keeping it, Lady Maude,' said he; and for once his cheek coloured with
the shame of his own boldness.
'May I purchase it with one of my own? Will you have this, or this?' said
'Anything that once was yours,' said he, in a mere whisper.
'Good-bye, Mr. Atlee.'
And he was alone!
The family at Kilgobbin Castle were seated at tea when Dick Kearney's
telegram arrived. It bore the address, 'Lord Kilgobbin,' and ran thus:
'Walpole wishes to speak with you, and will come down with me on Friday;
his stay cannot be beyond one day.--RICHARD KEARNEY.'
'What can he want with me?' cried Kearney, as he tossed over the despatch
to his daughter. 'If he wants to talk over the election, I could tell him
per post that I think it a folly and an absurdity. Indeed, if he is not
coming to propose for either my niece or my daughter, he might spare
himself the journey.'
'Who is to say that such is not his intention, papa?' said Kate merrily.
'Old Catty had a dream about a piebald horse and a haystack on fire, and
something about a creel of duck eggs, and I trust that every educated
person knows what _they_ mean.'
'I do not,' cried Nina boldly.
'Marriage, my dear. One is marriage by special license, with a bishop or a
dean to tie the knot; another is a runaway match. I forget what the eggs
'An unbroken engagement,' interposed Donogan gravely, 'so long as none of
them are smashed.'
'On the whole, then, it is very promising tidings,' said Kate.
'It may be easy to be more promising than the election,' said the old man.
'I'm not flattered, uncle, to hear that I am easier to win than a seat in
'That does not imply you are not worth a great deal more,' said Kearney,
with an air of gallantry. 'I know if I was a young fellow which I'd strive
most for. Eh, Mr. Daniel? I see you agree with me.'
Donogan's face, slightly flushed before, became now crimson as he sipped
his tea in confusion, unable to utter a word.
'And so,' resumed Kearney, 'he'll only give us a day to make up our minds!
It's lucky, girls, that you have the telegram there to tell you what's
'It would have been more piquant, papa, if he had made his message say, "I
propose for Nina. Reply by wire."'
'Or, "May I marry your daughter?" chimed in Nina quickly.
'There it is, now,' broke in Kearney, laughing, 'you're fighting for him
already! Take my word for it, Mr. Daniel, there's no so sure way to get a
girl for a wife, as to make her believe there's another only waiting to be
asked. It's the threat of the opposition coach on the road keeps down the
'Papa is all wrong,' said Kate. 'There is no such conceivable pleasure as
saying No to a man that another woman is ready to accept. It is about the
most refined sort of self-flattery imaginable.'
'Not to say that men are utterly ignorant of that freemasonry among women
which gives us all an interest in the man who marries one of us,' said
Nina. 'It is only your confirmed old bachelor that we all agree in
''Faith, I give you up altogether. You're a puzzle clean beyond me,' said
Kearney, with a sigh.
'I think it is Balzac tells us,' said Donogan, 'that women and politics are
the only two exciting pursuits in life, for you never can tell where either
of them will lead you.'
'And who is Balzac?' asked Kearney.
'Oh, uncle, don't let me hear you ask who is the greatest novelist that
''Faith, my dear, except _Tristram Shandy_ and _Tom Jones_, and maybe
_Robinson Crusoe_--if that be a novel--my experience goes a short way. When
I am not reading what's useful--as in the _Farmer's Chronicle_ or Purcell's
"Rotation of Crops"--I like the "Accidents" in the newspapers, where they
give you the name of the gentleman that was smashed in the train, and tell
you how his wife was within ten days of her third confinement; how it was
only last week he got a step as a clerk in Somerset House. Haven't you more
materials for a sensation novel there than any of your three-volume fellows
will give you?'
'The times we are living in give most of us excitement enough,' said
Donogan. 'The man who wants to gamble for life itself need not be balked
'You mean that a man can take a shot at an emperor?' said Kearney
'No, not that exactly; though there are stakes of that kind some men would
not shrink from. What are called "arms of precision" have had a great
influence on modern politics. When there's no time for a plebiscite,
there's always time for a pistol.'
'Bad morality, Mr. Daniel,' said Kearney gravely.
'I suspect we do not fairly measure what Mr. Daniel says,' broke in Kate.
'He may mean to indicate a revolution, and not justify it.'
'I mean both!' said Donogan. 'I mean that the mere permission to live under
a bad government is too high a price to pay for life at all. I'd rather go
"down into the streets," as they call it, and have it out, than I'd drudge
on, dogged by policemen, and sent to gaol on suspicion.'
'He is right,' cried Nina. 'If I were a man, I'd think as he does.'
'Then I'm very glad you're not,' said Kearney; 'though, for the matter of
rebellion, I believe you would be a more dangerous Fenian as you are. Am I
right, Mr. Daniel?'
'I am disposed to say you are, sir,' was his mild reply.
'Ain't we important people this evening!' cried Kearney, as the servant
entered with another telegram. 'This is for you, Mr. Daniel. I hope we're
to hear that the Cabinet wants you in Downing Street.'
'I'd rather it did not,' said he, with a very peculiar smile, which did
not escape Kate's keen glance across the table, as he said, 'May I read my
'By all means,' said Kearney; while, to leave him more undisturbed, he
turned to Nina, with some quizzical remark about her turn for the telegraph
coming next. 'What news would you wish it should bring you, Nina?' asked
'I scarcely know. I have so many things to wish for, I should be puzzled
which to place first.'
'Should you like to be Queen of Greece?' asked Kate.
'First tell me if there is to be a King, and who is he?'
'Maybe it's Mr. Daniel there, for I see he has gone off in a great hurry to
say he accepts the crown.'
'What should you ask for, Kate,' cried Nina, 'if Fortune were civil enough
to give you a chance?'
'Two days' rain for my turnips,' said Kate quickly. 'I don't remember
wishing for anything so much in all my life.'
'Your turnips!' cried Nina contemptuously.
'Why not? If you were a queen, would you not have to think of those who
depended on you for support and protection? And how should I forget my poor
heifers and my calves--calves of very tender years some of them--and all
with as great desire to fatten themselves as any of us have to do what will
as probably lead to our destruction?'