Part 8 out of 12
'I will read you if you write to me,' and with a wave of good-bye she
slowly left the room.
'She is my master, even at my own game,' said Walpole, as he sat down, and
rested his head between his hands. 'Still she is mistaken: I can write just
as vaguely as I can speak, and if I could not, it would have cost me my
freedom this many a day. With such a woman one might venture high, but
Heaven help him when he ceased to climb the mountain!'
A CUP OP TEA
It was so rare an event of late for Nina to seek her cousin in her own
room, that Kate was somewhat surprised to see Nina enter with all her old
ease of manner, and flinging away her hat carelessly, say, 'Let me have a
cup of tea, dearest, for I want to have a clear head and a calm mind for at
least the next half-hour.'
'It is almost time to dress for dinner, especially for you, Nina, who make
a careful toilet.'
'Perhaps I shall make less to-day, perhaps not go down to dinner at all. Do
you know, child, I have every reason for agitation, and maiden
bashfulness besides? Do you know I have had a proposal--a proposal in all
form--from--but you shall guess whom.
'Mr. O'Shea, of course.'
'No, not Mr. O'Shea, though I am almost prepared for such a step on his
part--nor from your brother Dick, who has been falling in and out of love
with me for the last three months or more. My present conquest is the
supremely arrogant, but now condescending, Mr. Walpole, who, for reasons of
state and exigencies of party, has been led to believe that a pretty wife,
with a certain amount of natural astuteness, might advance his interests,
and tend to his promotion in public life; and with his old instincts as a
gambler, he is actually ready to risk his fortunes on a single card, and I,
the portionless Greek girl, with about the same advantages of family as of
fortune--I am to be that queen of trumps on which he stands to win. And
now, darling, the cup of tea, the cup of tea, if you want to hear more.'
While Kate was busy arranging the cups of a little tea-service that did
duty in her dressing-room, Nina walked impatiently to and fro, talking with
rapidity all the time.
'The man is a greater fool than I thought him, and mistakes his native
weakness of mind for originality. If you had heard the imbecile nonsense
he talked to me for political shrewdness, and when he had shown me what a
very poor creature he was, he made me the offer of himself! This was so far
honest and above-board. It was saying in so many words, "You see, I am a
bankrupt." Now, I don't like bankrupts, either of mind or money. Could he
not have seen that he who seeks my favour must sue in another fashion?'
'And so you refused him?' said Kate, as she poured out her tea.
'Far from it--I rather listened to his suit. I was so far curious to hear
what he could plead in his behalf, that I bade him write it. Yes, dearest;
it was a maxim of that very acute man my papa, that when a person makes you
any dubious proposition in words, you oblige him to commit it to writing.
Not necessarily to be used against him afterwards, but for this reason--and
I can almost quote my papa's phrase on the occasion--in the homage of his
self-love, a man will rarely write himself such a knave as he will dare
to own when he is talking, and in that act of weakness is the gain of the
other party to the compact.'
'I don't think I understand you.'
'I'm sure you do not; and you have put no sugar in my tea, which is worse.
Do you mean to say that your clock is right, and that it is already nigh
seven? Oh dear! and I, who have not told you one-half of my news, I must
go and dress. I have a certain green silk with white roses which I mean to
wear, and with my hair in that crimson Neapolitan net, it is a toilet _à
'You know how it becomes you,' said Kate, half slyly.
'Of course I do, or in this critical moment of my life I should not risk
it. It will have its own suggestive meaning too. It will recall _ce cher_
Cecil to days at Baia, or wandering along the coast at Portici. I have
known a fragment of lace, a flower, a few bars of a song, do more to link
the broken chain of memory than scores of more laboured recollections; and
then these little paths that lead you back are so simple, so free from all
premeditation. Don't you think so, dear?'
'I do not know, and if it were not rude, I'd say I do not care?'
'If my cup of tea were not so good, I should be offended, and leave the
room after such a speech. But you do not know, you could not guess, the
interesting things that I could tell you,' cried she, with an almost
breathless rapidity. 'Just imagine that deep statesman, that profound
plotter, telling me that they actually did not wish to capture
Donogan--that they would rather that he should escape!'
'He told you this?'
'He did more: he showed me the secret instructions to his police
creatures--I forget how they are called--showing what they might do to
connive at his escape, and how they should--if they could--induce him to
give some written pledge to leave Ireland for ever.'
'Oh, this is impossible!' cried Kate.
'I could prove it to you, if I had not just sent off the veritable bit of
writing by post. Yes, stare and look horrified if you like; it is all true.
I stole the piece of paper with the secret directions, and sent it straight
to Donogan, under cover to Archibald Casey, Esq., 9 Lower Gardner Street,
'How could you have done such a thing?'
'Say, how could I have done otherwise. Donogan now knows whether it will
become him to sign this pact with the enemy. If he deem his life worth
having at the price, it is well that _I_ should know it.'
'It is then of yourself you were thinking all the while.'
'Of myself and of him. I do not say I love this man; but I do say his
conduct now shall decide if he be worth loving. There's the bell for
dinner. You shall hear all I have to say this evening. What an interest it
gives to life, even this much of plot and peril! Short of being with the
rebel himself, Kate, and sharing his dangers, I know of nothing could have
given me such delight.'
She turned back as she left the door, and said, 'Make Mr. Walpole take you
down to dinner to-day; I shall take Mr. O'Shea's arm, or your brother's.'
The address of Archibald Casey, which Nina had used on this occasion, was
that of a well-known solicitor in Dublin, whose Conservative opinions
placed him above all suspicion or distrust. One of his clients, however--a
certain Mr. Maher--had been permitted to have letters occasionally
addressed to him to Casey's care; and Maher, being an old college friend of
Donogan's, afforded him this mode of receiving letters in times of unusual
urgency or danger. Maher shared very slightly in Donogan's opinions. He
thought the men of the National party not only dangerous in themselves,
but that they afforded a reason for many of the repressive laws which
Englishmen passed with reference to Ireland. A friendship of early life,
when both these young men were college students, had overcome such
scruples, and Donogan had been permitted to have many letters marked
simply with a D., which were sent under cover to Maher. This facility had,
however, been granted so far back as '47, and had not been renewed in the
interval, during which time the Archibald Casey of that period had died,
and been succeeded by a son with the same name as his father.
When Nina, on looking over Donogan's note-book, came upon this address, she
saw also some almost illegible words, which implied that it was only to be
employed as the last resort, or had been so used--a phrase she could not
exactly determine what it meant. The present occasion--so emergent in every
way--appeared to warrant both haste and security; and so, under cover to S.
Maher, she wrote to Donogan in these words:--
'I send you the words, in the original handwriting, of the instructions
with regard to you. You will do what your honour and your conscience
dictate. Do not write to me; the public papers will inform me what your
decision has been, and I shall be satisfied, however it incline. I rely
upon you to burn the inclosure.'
A suit-at-law, in which Casey acted as Maher's attorney at this period,
required that the letters addressed to his house for Maher should be opened
and read; and though the letter D. on the outside might have suggested a
caution, Casey either overlooked or misunderstood it, and broke the seal.
Not knowing what to think of this document, which was without signature,
and had no clue to the writer except the postmark of Kilgobbin, Casey
hastened to lay the letter as it stood before the barrister who conducted
Maher's cause, and to ask his advice. The Right Hon. Paul Hartigan was an
ex-Attorney-General of the Tory party--a zealous, active, but somewhat
rash member of his party; still in the House, a member for Mallow, and far
more eager for the return of his friends to power than the great man who
dictated the tactics of the Opposition, and who with more of responsibility
could calculate the chances of success.
Paul Hartigan's estimate of the Whigs was such that it would have in nowise
astonished him to discover that Mr. Gladstone was in close correspondence
with O'Donovan Rossa, or that Chichester Fortescue had been sworn in as a
head-centre. That the whole Cabinet were secretly Papists, and held weekly
confession at the feet of Dr. Manning, he was prepared to prove. He did
not vouch for Mr. Lowe; but he could produce the form of scapular worn by
Mr. Gladstone, and had a facsimile of the scourge by which Mr. Cardwell
diurnally chastened his natural instincts.
If, then, he expressed but small astonishment at this 'traffic of the
Government with rebellion,' for so he called it--he lost no time in
endeavouring to trace the writer of the letter, and ascertaining, so far as
he might, the authenticity of the inclosure.
'It's all true, Casey,' said he, a few days after his receipt of the
papers. 'The instructions are written by Cecil Walpole, the private
secretary of Lord Danesbury. I have obtained several specimens of his
writing. There is no attempt at disguise or concealment in this. I have
learned, too, that the police-constable Dargan is one of their most trusted
agents; and the only thing now to find out is, who is the writer of the
letter, for up to this all we know is, the hand is a woman's.'
Now it chanced that when Mr. Hartigan--who had taken great pains and
bestowed much time to learn the story of the night attack on Kilgobbin, and
wished to make the presence of Mr. Walpole on the scene the ground of a
question in Parliament--had consulted the leader of the Opposition on the
subject, he had met not only a distinct refusal of aid, but something very
like a reproof for his ill-advised zeal. The Honourable Paul, not for the
first time disposed to distrust the political loyalty that differed with
his own ideas, now declared openly that he would not confide this great
disclosure to the lukewarm advocacy of Mr. Disraeli; he would himself lay
it before the House, and stand or fall by the result.
If the men who 'stand or fall' by any measure were counted, it is to be
feared that they usually would be found not only in the category of the
latter, but that they very rarely rise again, so very few are the matters
which can be determined without some compromise, and so rare are the
political questions which comprehend a distinct principle.
What warmed the Hartigan ardour, and, indeed, chafed it to a white heat on
this occasion, was to see by the public papers that Daniel Donogan had been
fixed on by the men of King's County as the popular candidate, and a public
meeting held at Kilbeggan to declare that the man who should oppose him
at the hustings should be pronounced the enemy of Ireland. To show that
while this man was advertised in the _Hue and Cry_, with an immense reward
for his apprehension, he was in secret protected by the Government, who
actually condescended to treat with him; what an occasion would this
afford for an attack that would revive the memories of Grattan's scorn and
Curran's sarcasm, and declare to the senate of England that the men who led
them were unworthy guardians of the national honour!
Whether Walpole found some peculiar difficulty in committing his intentions
to writing, or whether the press of business which usually occupied his
mornings served as an excuse, or whether he was satisfied with the progress
of his suit by his personal assiduities, is not easy to say; but his
attentions to Mademoiselle Kostalergi had now assumed the form which
prudent mothers are wont to call 'serious,' and had already passed into
that stage where small jealousies begin, and little episodes of anger and
discontent are admitted as symptoms of the complaint.
In fact, he had got to think himself privileged to remonstrate against
this, and to dictate that--a state, be it observed, which, whatever its
effect upon the 'lady of his love,' makes a man particularly odious to
the people around him, and he is singularly fortunate if it make him not
The docile or submissive was not the remarkable element in Nina's nature.
She usually resisted advice, and resented anything like dictation from any
quarter. Indeed, they who knew her best saw that, however open to casual
influences, a direct show of guidance was sure to call up all her spirit
of opposition. It was, then, a matter of actual astonishment to all to
perceive not only how quietly and patiently she accepted Walpole's comments
and suggestions, but how implicitly she seemed to obey them.
All the little harmless freedoms of manner with Dick Kearney and O'Shea
were now completely given up. No more was there between them that
interchange of light persiflage which, presupposing some subject of common
interest, is in itself a ground of intimacy.
She ceased to sing the songs that were their favourites. Her walks in the
garden after breakfast, where her ready wit and genial pleasantry used to
bring her a perfect troop of followers, were abandoned. The little projects
of daily pleasure, hitherto her especial province, were changed for a calm
subdued demeanour which, though devoid of all depression, wore the impress
of a certain thoughtfulness and seriousness.
No man was less observant than old Kearney, and yet even he saw the change
at last, and asked Kate what it might mean. 'She is not ill, I hope,' said
he, 'or is our humdrum life too wearisome to her?'
'I do not suspect either,' said Kate slowly. 'I rather believe that as Mr.
Walpole has paid her certain attentions, she has made the changes in her
manner in deference to some wishes of his.'
'He wants her to be more English, perhaps,' said he sarcastically.
'Well, she is not born one of us, but she is like us all the same, and
I'll be sorely grieved if she'll give up her light-heartedness and her
pleasantry to win that Cockney.'
'I think she has won the Cockney already, sir.'
A long low whistle was his reply. At last he said, 'I suppose it's a very
grand conquest, and what the world calls "an elegant match"; but may
I never see Easter, if I wouldn't rather she'd marry a fine dashing
young fellow over six feet high, like O'Shea there, than one of your
gold-chain-and-locket young gentlemen who smile where they ought to
laugh, and pick their way through life as a man crosses a stream on
'Maybe she does not like Mr. O'Shea, sir.'
'And do you think she likes the other man? or is it anything else than one
of those mercenary attachments that you young ladies understand better, far
better, than the most worldly-minded father or mother of us all?'
'Mr. Walpole has not, I believe, any fortune, sir. There is nothing very
dazzling in his position or his prospects.'
'No. Not amongst his own set, nor with his own people--he is small enough
there, I grant you; but when he come down to ours, Kitty, we think him a
grandee of Spain; and if he was married into the family, we'd get off all
his noble relations by heart, and soon start talking of our aunt, Lady
Such-a-one, and Lord Somebody else, that was our first-cousin, till our
neighbours would nearly die out of pure spite. Sitting down in one's
poverty, and thinking over one's grand relations, is for all the world like
Paddy eating his potatoes, and pointing at the red-herring--even the look
of what he dare not taste flavours his meal.'
'At least, sir, you have found an excuse for our conduct.'
'Because we are all snobs, Kitty; because there is not a bit of honesty or
manliness in our nature; and because our women, that need not be bargaining
or borrowing--neither pawnbrokers nor usurers--are just as vulgar-minded
as ourselves; and now that we have given twenty millions to get rid of
slavery, like to show how they can keep it up in the old country, just out
'If you disapprove of Mr. Walpole, sir, I believe it is full time you
should say so.'
'I neither approve nor disapprove of him. I don't well know whether I
have any right to do either--I mean so far as to influence her choice. He
belongs to a sort of men I know as little about as I do of the Choctaw
Indians. They have lives and notions and ways all unlike ours. The world is
so civil to them that it prepares everything to their taste. If they want
to shoot, the birds are cooped up in a cover, and only let fly when they're
ready. When they fish, the salmon are kept prepared to be caught; and if
they make love, the young lady is just as ready to rise to the fly, and
as willing to be bagged as either. Thank God, my darling, with all our
barbarism, we have not come to that in Ireland.'
'Here comes Mr. Walpole now, sir; and if I read his face aright, he has
something of importance to say to you.' Kate had barely time to leave the
room as Walpole came forward with an open telegram and a mass of papers in
'May I have a few moments of conversation with you?' said he; and in the
tone of his words, and a certain gravity in his manner, Kearney thought he
could perceive what the communication portended.
'I am at your orders,' said Kearney, and he placed a chair for the other.
'An incident has befallen my life here, Mr. Kearney, which, I grieve to
say, may not only colour the whole of my future career, but not impossibly
prove the barrier to my pursuit of public life.'
Kearney stared at him as he finished speaking, and the two men sat fixedly
gazing on each other.
'It is, I hasten to own, the one unpleasant, the one, the only one,
disastrous event of a visit full of the happiest memories of my life. Of
your generous and graceful hospitality, I cannot say half what I desire--'
'Say nothing about my hospitality,' said Kearney, whose irritation as to
what the other called a disaster left him no place for any other sentiment;
'but just tell me why you count this a misfortune.'
'I call a misfortune, sir, what may not only depose me from my office and
my station, but withdraw entirely from me the favour and protection of my
uncle, Lord Danesbury.'
'Then why the devil do you do it?' cried Kearney angrily.
'Why do I do what, sir? I am not aware of any action of mine you should
question with such energy.'
'I mean, if it only tends to ruin your prospects and disgust your family,
why do you persist, sir? I was going to say more, and ask with what face
you presume to come and tell these things to _me_?'
'I am really unable to understand you, sir.'
'Mayhap, we are both of us in the same predicament,' cried Kearney, as he
wiped his brow in proof of his confusion.
'Had you accorded me a very little patience, I might, perhaps, have
Not trusting himself with a word, Kearney nodded, and the other went
on: 'The post this morning brought me, among other things, these two
newspapers, with penmarks in the margin to direct my attention. This is the
_Lily of Londonderry_, a wild Orange print; this the _Banner of Ulster_, a
journal of the same complexion. Here is what the _Lily_ says: "Our county
member, Sir Jonas Gettering, is now in a position to call the attention
of Parliament to a document which will distinctly show how Her Majesty's
Ministers are not only in close correspondence with the leaders of
Fenianism, but that Irish rebellion receives its support and comfort from
the present Cabinet. Grave as this charge is, and momentous as would be
the consequences of such an allegation if unfounded, we repeat that such a
document is in existence, and that we who write these lines have held it in
our hands and have perused it."
'The _Banner_ copies the paragraph, and adds, "We give all the publicity
in our power to a statement which, from our personal knowledge, we can
declare to be true. If the disclosures which a debate on this subject
must inevitably lead to will not convince Englishmen that Ireland is now
governed by a party whose falsehood and subtlety not even Machiavelli
himself could justify, we are free to declare we are ready to join the
Nationalists to-morrow, and to cry out for a Parliament in College Green,
in preference to a Holy Inquisition at Westminster."'
'That fellow has blood in him,' cried Kearney, with enthusiasm, 'and I go a
long way with him.'
'That may be, sir, and I am sorry to hear it,' said Walpole coldly; 'but
what I am concerned to tell you is, that the document or memorandum here
alluded to was among my papers, and abstracted from them since I have been
'So that there _was_ actually such a paper?' broke in Kearney.
'There was a paper which the malevolence of a party journalist could
convert to the support of such a charge. What concerns me more immediately
is, that it has been stolen from my despatch-box.'
'Are you certain of that?'
'I believe I can prove it. The only day in which I was busied with these
papers, I carried them down to the library, and with my own hands I brought
them back to my room and placed them under lock and key at once. The box
bears no trace of having been broken, so that the only solution is a key.
Perhaps my own key may have been used to open it, for the document is
'This is a bad business,' said Kearney sorrowfully.
'It is ruin to _me_,' cried Walpole, with passion. 'Here is a despatch from
Lord Danesbury, commanding me immediately to go over to him in Wales, and I
can guess easily what has occasioned the order.'
'I'll send for a force of Dublin detectives. I'll write to the chief of
the police. I'll not rest till I have every one in the house examined on
oath,' cried Kearney. 'What was it like? Was it a despatch--was it in an
'It was a mere memorandum--a piece of post-paper, and headed, "Draught
of instruction touching D.D. Forward to chief constable of police at
Letterkenny. October 9th."'
'But you had no direct correspondence with Donogan?'
'I believe, sir, I need not assure you I had not. The malevolence of party
has alone the merit of such an imputation. For reasons of state, we desired
to observe a certain course towards the man, and Orange malignity is
pleased to misrepresent and calumniate us.'
'And can't you say so in Parliament?'
'So we will, sir, and the nation will believe us. Meanwhile, see the
mischief that the miserable slander will reflect upon our administration
here, and remember that the people who could alone contradict the story are
those very Fenians who will benefit by its being believed.'
'Do your suspicions point to any one in particular? Do you believe that
'I had it in my hand the day after he left.'
'Was any one aware of its existence here but yourself?'
'None--wait, I am wrong. Your niece saw it. She was in the library one
day. I was engaged in writing, and as we grew to talk over the country, I
chanced to show her the despatch.'
'Let us ask her if she remembers whether any servant was about at the time,
or happened to enter the room.'
'I can myself answer that question. I know there was not.'
'Let us call her down and see what she remembers,' said Kearney.
'I'd rather not, sir. A mere question in such a case would be offensive,
and I would not risk the chance. What I would most wish is, to place my
despatch-box, with the key, in your keeping, for the purposes of the
inquiry, for I must start in half an hour. I have sent for post-horses to
Moate, and ordered a special train to town. I shall, I hope, catch the
eight o'clock boat for Holyhead, and be with his lordship before this time
to-morrow. If I do not see the ladies, for I believe they are out walking,
will you make my excuses and my adieux? my confusion and discomfiture will,
I feel sure, plead for me. It would not be, perhaps, too much to ask for
any information that a police inquiry might elicit; and if either of the
young ladies would vouchsafe me a line to say what, if anything, has been
discovered, I should feel deeply gratified.'
'I'll look to that. You shall be informed.'
'There was another question that I much desired to speak of,' and here
he hesitated and faltered; 'but perhaps, on every score, it is as well I
should defer it till my return to Ireland.'
'You know best, whatever it is,' said the old man dryly.
'Yes, I think so. I am sure of it. 'A hurried shake-hands followed, and he
It is but right to add that a glance at the moment through the window had
shown him the wearer of a muslin dress turning into the copse outside the
garden, and Walpole dashed down the stairs and hurried in the direction he
saw Nina take, with all the speed he could.
'Get my luggage on the carriage, and have everything ready,' said he, as
the horses were drawn up at the door. 'I shall return in a moment.'
When Walpole hurried into the beech alley which he had seen Nina take, and
followed her in all haste, he did not stop to question himself why he did
so. Indeed, if prudence were to be consulted, there was every reason in the
world why he should rather have left his leave-takings to the care of Mr.
Kearney than assume the charge of them himself; but if young gentlemen who
fall in love were only to be logical or 'consequent,' the tender passion
would soon lose some of the contingencies which give it much of its charm,
and people who follow such occupations as mine would discover that they had
lost one of the principal employments of their lifetime.
As he went along, however, he bethought him that as it was to say good-bye
he now followed her, it behoved him to blend his leave-taking with that
pledge of a speedy return, which, like the effects of light in landscape,
bring out the various tints in the richest colouring, and mark more
distinctly all that is in shadow. 'I shall at least see,' muttered he to
himself, 'how far my presence here serves to brighten her daily life, and
what amount of gloom my absence will suggest.' Cecil Walpole was one of a
class--and I hasten to say it is a class--who, if not very lavish of their
own affections, or accustomed to draw largely on their own emotions, are
very fond of being loved themselves, and not only are they convinced that
as there can be nothing more natural or reasonable than to love them, it
is still a highly commendable feature in the person who carries that love
to the extent of a small idolatry, and makes it the business of a life.
To worship the men of this order constitutes in their eyes a species
of intellectual superiority for which they are grateful, and this same
gratitude represents to themselves all of love their natures are capable of
He knew thoroughly that Nina was not alone the most beautiful woman he had
ever seen, that the fascinations of her manner, and her grace of movement
and gesture, exercised a sway that was almost magic; that in quickness
to apprehend and readiness to reply, she scarcely had an equal; and that
whether she smiled, or looked pensive, or listened, or spoke, there was
an absorbing charm about her that made one forget all else around her,
and unable to see any but her; and yet, with all this consciousness, he
recognised no trait about her so thoroughly attractive as that she admired
Let me not be misunderstood. This same sentiment can be at times something
very different from a mere egotism--not that I mean to say it was such in
the present case. Cecil Walpole fully represented the order he belonged to,
and was a most well-looking, well-dressed, and well-bred young gentleman,
only suggesting the reflection that, to live amongst such a class pure and
undiluted, would be little better than a life passed in the midst of French
I have said that, after his fashion, he was 'in love' with her, and so,
after his fashion, he wanted to say that he was going away, and to tell her
not to be utterly disconsolate till he came back again. 'I can imagine,'
thought he, 'how I made her life here, how, in developing the features that
attract _me_, I made her a very different creature to herself.'
It was not at all unpleasant to him to think that the people who should
surround her were so unlike himself. 'The barbarians,' as he courteously
called them to himself, 'will be very hard to endure. Nor am I very sorry
for it, only she must catch nothing of their traits in accommodating
herself to their habits. On that I must strongly insist. Whether it be by
singing their silly ballads--that four-note melody they call "Irish music,"
or through mere imitation, she has already caught a slight accent of the
country. She must get rid of this. She will have to divest herself of all
her "Kilgobbinries" ere I present her to my friends in town.' Apart from
these disparagements, she could, as he expressed it, 'hold her own,' and
people take a very narrow view of the social dealings of the world, who
fail to see how much occasion a woman has for the exercise of tact and
temper and discretion and ready-wittedness and generosity in all the
well-bred intercourse of life. Just as Walpole had arrived at that stage of
reflection to recognise that she was exactly the woman to suit him and push
his fortunes with the world, he reached a part of the wood where a little
space had been cleared, and a few rustic seats scattered about to make a
halting-place. The sound of voices caught his ear, and he stopped, and now,
looking stealthily through the brushwood, he saw Gorman O'Shea as he lay in
a lounging attitude on a bench and smoked his cigar, while Nina Kostalergi
was busily engaged in pinning up the skirt of her dress in a festoon
fashion, which, to Cecil's ideas at least, displayed more of a marvellously
pretty instep and ankle than he thought strictly warranted. Puzzling as
this seemed, the first words she spoke gave the explanation.
[Illustration: Nina Kostalergi was busily engaged in pinning up the skirt
of her dress]
'Don't flatter yourself, most valiant soldier, that you are going to teach
me the "Czardasz." I learned it years ago from Tassilo Esterhazy; but I
asked you to come here to set me right about that half-minuet step that
begins it. I believe I have got into the habit of doing the man's part, for
I used to be Pauline Esterhazy's partner after Tassilo went away.'
'You had a precious dancing-master in Tassilo,' growled out O'Shea. 'The
greatest scamp in the Austrian army.'
'I know nothing of the moralities of the Austrian army, but the count was a
perfect gentleman, and a special friend of mine.'
'I am sorry for it,' was the gruff rejoinder.
'You have nothing to grieve for, sir. You have no vested interest to be
imperilled by anything that I do.'
'Let us not quarrel, at all events,' said he, as he arose with some
alacrity and flung away his cigar; and Walpole turned away, as little
pleased with what he had heard as dissatisfied with himself for having
listened. 'And we call these things accidents,' muttered he; 'but I believe
Fortune means more generously by us when she crosses our path in this wise.
I almost wish I had gone a step farther, and stood before them. At least
it would have finished this episode, and without a word. As it is, a mere
phrase will do it--the simple question as to what progress she makes in
dancing will show I know all. But do I know all?' Thus speculating and
ruminating, he went his way till he reached the carriage, and drove off at
speed, for the first time in his life, really and deeply in love!
He made his journey safely, and arrived at Holyhead by daybreak. He had
meant to go over deliberately all that he should say to the Viceroy, when
questioned, as he expected to be, on the condition of Ireland. It was an
old story, and with very few variations to enliven it.
How was it that, with all his Irish intelligence well arranged in his
mind--the agrarian crime, the ineffective police, the timid juries,
the insolence of the popular press, and the arrogant demands of the
priesthood--how was it that, ready to state all these obstacles to right
government, and prepared to show that it was only by 'out-jockeying' the
parties, he could hope to win in Ireland still, that Greek girl, and what
he called her perfidy, would occupy a most disproportionate share of his
thoughts, and a larger place in his heart also? The simple truth is, that
though up to this Walpole found immense pleasure in his flirtation with
Nina Kostalergi, yet his feeling for her now was nearer love than anything
he had experienced before. The bare suspicion that a woman could jilt him,
or the possible thought that a rival could be found to supplant him, gave,
by the very pain it occasioned, such an interest to the episode, that he
could scarcely think of anything else. That the most effectual way to deal
with the Greek was to renew his old relations with his cousin Lady Maude
was clear enough. 'At least I shall seem to be the traitor,' thought he,
'and she shall not glory in the thought of having deceived _me_.' While he
was still revolving these thoughts, he arrived at the castle, and learned
as he crossed the door that his lordship was impatient to see him.
Lord Danesbury had never been a fluent speaker in public, while in private
life a natural indolence of disposition, improved, so to say, by an Eastern
life, had made him so sparing of his words, that at times when he was
ill or indisposed he could never be said to converse at all, and his
talk consisted of very short sentences strung loosely together, and not
unfrequently so ill-connected as to show that an unexpressed thought very
often intervened between the uttered fragments. Except to men who, like
Walpole, knew him intimately, he was all but unintelligible. The private
secretary, however, understood how to fill up the blanks in any discourse,
and so follow out indications which, to less practised eyes, left no
footmarks behind them.
His Excellency, slowly recovering from a sharp attack of gout, was propped
by pillows, and smoking a long Turkish pipe, as Cecil entered the room and
saluted him. 'Come at last,' was his lordship's greeting. 'Ought to have
been here weeks ago. Read that.' And he pushed towards him a _Times_,
with a mark on the margin: 'To ask the Secretary for Ireland whether the
statement made by certain newspapers in the North of a correspondence
between the Castle authorities and the Fenian leader was true, and whether
such correspondence could be laid on the table of the House?'
'Read it out,' cried the Viceroy, as Walpole conned over the paragraph
somewhat slowly to himself.
'I think, my lord, when you have heard a few words of explanation from me,
you will see that this charge has not the gravity these newspaper-people
would like to attach to it.'
'Can't be explained--nothing could justify--infernal blunder--and must go.'
'Pray, my lord, vouchsafe me even five minutes.'
'See it all--balderdash--explain nothing--Cardinal more offended than the
rest--and here, read.' And he pushed a letter towards him, dated Downing
Street, and marked private. 'The idiot you left behind you has been
betrayed into writing to the rebels and making conditions with them. To
disown him now is not enough.'
'Really, my lord, I don't see why I should submit to the indignity of
reading more of this.'
His Excellency crushed the letter in his hand, and puffed very vigorously
at his pipe, which was nearly extinguished. 'Must go,' said he at last, as
a fresh volume of smoke rolled forth.
'That I can believe--that I can understand, my lord. When you tell me you
cease to endorse my pledges, I feel I am a bankrupt in your esteem.'
'Others smashed in the same insolvency--inconceivable blunder--where was
Cartwright?--what was Holmes about? No one in Dublin to keep you out of
this cursed folly?'
'Until your lordship's patience will permit me to say a few words, I cannot
hope to justify my conduct.'
'No justifying--no explaining--no! regular smash and complete disgrace.
'I am quite ready to go. Your Excellency has no need to recall me to the
'Knew it all--and against my will, too--said so from the first--thing I
never liked--nor see my way in. Must go--must go.'
'I presume, my lord, I may leave you now. I want a bath and a cup of
'Answer that!' was the gruff reply, as he tossed across the table a few
lines signed, 'Bertie Spencer, Private Secretary.'
'"I am directed to request that Mr. Walpole will enable the Right
Honourable Mr. Annihough to give the flattest denial to the inclosed."'
'That must be done at once,' said the Viceroy, as the other ceased to read
'It is impossible, my lord; I cannot deny my own handwriting.'
'Annihough will find some road out of it,' muttered the other. '_You_ were
a fool, and mistook your instructions, or the _constable_ was a fool and
required a misdirection, or the _Fenian_ was a fool, which he would have
been if he gave the pledge you asked for. Must go, all the same.'
'But I am quite ready to go, my lord,' rejoined Walpole angrily. 'There is
no need to insist so often on that point.'
'Who talks--who thinks of _you_, sir?' cried the other, with an irritated
manner. 'I speak of myself. It is _I_ must resign--no great sacrifice,
perhaps, after all; stupid office, false position, impracticable people.
Make them all Papists to-morrow, and ask to be Hindus. They've got the
land, and not content if they can't shoot the landlords!'
'If you think, my lord, that by any personal explanation of mine, I could
enable the Minister to make his answer in the House more plausible--'
'Leave the plausibility to himself, sir,' and then he added, half aloud,
'he'll be unintelligible enough without _you_. There, go, and get some
breakfast--come back afterwards, and I'll dictate my letter of resignation.
Maude has had a letter from Atlee. Shrewd fellow, Atlee--done the thing
As Walpole was near the door, his Excellency said, 'You can have Guatemala,
if they have not given it away. It will get you out of Europe, which is the
first thing, and with the yellow fever it may do more.'
'I am profoundly grateful, my lord,' said he, bowing low.
'Maude, of course, would not go, so it ends _that_.'
'I am deeply touched by the interest your lordship vouchsafes to my
'Try and live five years, and you'll have a retiring allowance. The last
fellow did, but was eaten by a crocodile out bathing.' And with this he
resumed his _Times_, and turned away, while Walpole hastened off to his
room, in a frame of mind very far from comfortable or reassuring.
A CHANCE AGREEMENT
As Dick Kearney and young O'Shea had never attained any close intimacy--a
strange sort of half-jealousy, inexplicable as to its cause, served to keep
them apart--it was by mere accident that the two young men met one morning
after breakfast in the garden, and on Kearney's offer of a cigar, the few
words that followed led to a conversation.
'I cannot pretend to give you a choice Havana, like one of Walpole's,' said
Dick, 'but you'll perhaps find it smokeable.'
'I'm not difficult,' said the other; 'and as to Mr. Walpole's tobacco, I
don't think I ever tasted it.'
'And I,' rejoined the other, 'as seldom as I could; I mean, only when
politeness obliged me.'
'I thought you liked him?' said Gorman shortly.
'I? Far from it. I thought him a consummate puppy, and I saw that he looked
down on us as inveterate savages.'
'He was a favourite with your ladies, I think?'
'Certainly not with my sister, and I doubt very much with my cousin. Do
_you_ like him?'
'No, not at all; but then he belongs to a class of men I neither understand
nor sympathise with. Whatever _I_ know of life is associated with downright
hard work. As a soldier I had my five hours' daily drill and the care of my
equipments, as a lieutenant I had to see that my men kept to their duty,
and whenever I chanced to have a little leisure, I could not give it up to
ennui or consent to feel bored and wearied.'
'And do you mean to say you had to groom your horse and clean your arms
when you served in the ranks?'
'Not always. As a cadet I had a soldier-servant, what we call a "Bursche";
but there were periods when I was out of funds, and barely able to grope my
way to the next quarter-day, and at these times I had but one meal a day,
and obliged to draw my waist-belt pretty tight to make me feel I had eaten
enough. A Bursche costs very little, but I could not spare even that
'Confoundedly hard that.'
'All my own fault. By a little care and foresight, even without thrift,
I had enough to live as well as I ought; but a reckless dash of the old
spendthrift blood I came of would master me now and then, and I'd launch
out into some extravagance that would leave me penniless for months after.'
'I believe I can understand that. One does get horribly bored by the
monotony of a well-to-do existence: just as I feel my life here--almost
'But you are going into Parliament; you are going to be a great public
'That bubble has burst already; don't you know what happened at Birr? They
tore down all Miller's notices and mine, they smashed our booths, beat our
voters out of the town, and placed Donogan--the rebel Donogan--at the head
of the poll, and the head-centre is now M.P. for King's County.'
'And he has a right to sit in the House?'
'There's the question. The matter is discussed every day in the newspapers,
and there are as many for as against him. Some aver that the popular will
is a sovereign edict that rises above all eventualities; others assert that
the sentence which pronounces a man a felon declares him to be dead in
'And which side do you incline to?'
'I believe in the latter: he'll not be permitted to take his seat.'
'You'll have another chance, then?'
'No; I'll venture no more. Indeed, but for this same man Donogan, I had
never thought of it. He filled my head with ideas of a great part to
be played and a proud place to be occupied, and that even without high
abilities, a man of a strong will, a fixed resolve, and an honest
conscience, might at this time do great things for Ireland.'
'And then betrayed you?'
'No such thing; he no more dreamed of Parliament himself than you do now.
He knew he was liable to the law,--he was hiding from the police--and well
aware that there was a price upon his head.'
'But if he was true to you, why did he not refuse this honour? why did he
not decline to be elected?'
'They never gave him the choice. Don't you see, it is one of the strange
signs of the strange times we are living in that the people fix upon
certain men as their natural leaders and compel them to march in the van,
and that it is the force at the back of these leaders that, far more than
their talents, makes them formidable in public life.'
'I only follow it in part. I scarcely see what they aim at, and I do not
know if they see it more clearly themselves. And now, what will you turn
'I wish you could tell me.'
'About as blank a future as my own,' muttered Gorman.
'Come, come, _you_ have a career: you are a lieutenant of lancers; in
time you will be a captain, and eventually a colonel, and who knows but
a general at last, with Heaven knows how many crosses and medals on your
'Nothing less likely--the day is gone by when Englishmen were advanced to
places of high honour and trust in the Austrian army. There are no more
field-marshals like Nugent than major-generals like O'Connell. I might be
made a Rittmeister, and if I lived long enough, and was not superannuated,
a major; but there my ambition must cease.'
'And you are content with that prospect?'
'Of course I am not. I go back to it with something little short of
'Why go back, then?'
'Tell me what else to do--tell me what other road in life to take--show me
even one alternative.'
The silence that now succeeded lasted several minutes, each immersed in his
own thoughts, and each doubtless convinced how little presumption he had to
advise or counsel the other.
'Do you know, O'Shea,' cried Kearney, 'I used to fancy that this Austrian
life of yours was a mere caprice--that you took "a cast," as we call it in
the hunting-field, amongst those fellows to see what they were like and
what sort of an existence was theirs--but that being your aunt's heir, and
with a snug estate that must one day come to you, it was a mere "lark," and
not to be continued beyond a year or two?'
'Not a bit of it. I never presumed to think I should be my aunt's heir--and
now less than ever. Do you know, that even the small pension she has
allowed me hitherto is now about to be withdrawn, and I shall be left to
live on my pay?'
'How much does that mean?'
'A few pounds more or less than you pay for your saddle-horse at livery at
'You don't mean that?'
'I do mean it, and even that beggarly pittance is stopped when I am on my
leave; so that at this moment my whole worldly wealth is here,' and he
took from his pocket a handful of loose coin, in which a few gold pieces
glittered amidst a mass of discoloured and smooth-looking silver.
'On my oath, I believe you are the richer man of the two,' cried Kearney,
'for except a few half-crowns on my dressing-table, and some coppers, I
don't believe I am master of a coin with the Queen's image.'
'I say, Kearney, what a horrible take-in we should prove to mothers with
daughters to marry!'
'Not a bit of it. You may impose upon any one else--your tailor, your
bootmaker, even the horsy gent that jobs your cabriolet, but you'll never
cheat the mamma who has the daughter on sale.'
Gorman could not help laughing at the more than ordinary irritability with
which these words were spoken, and charged him at last with having uttered
a personal experience.
'True, after all!' said Dick, half indolently. 'I used to spoon a pretty
girl up in Dublin, ride with her when I could, and dance with her at all
the balls, and a certain chum of mine--a Joe Atlee--of whom you may have
heard--under-took, simply by a series of artful rumours as to my future
prospects--now extolling me as a man of fortune and a fine estate,
to-morrow exhibiting me as a mere pretender with a mock title and mock
income--to determine how I should be treated in this family; and he would
say to me, "Dick, you are going to be asked to dinner on Saturday next";
or, "I say, old fellow, they're going to leave you out of that picnic at
Powerscourt. You'll find the Clancys rather cold at your next meeting."'
'And he would be right in his guess?'
'To the letter! Ay, and I shame to say that the young girl answered the
signal as promptly as the mother.'
'I hope it cured you of your passion?'
'I don't know that it did. When you begin to like a girl, and find that
she has regularly installed herself in a corner of your heart, there is
scarcely a thing she can do you'll not discover a good reason for; and
even when your ingenuity fails, go and pay a visit; there is some artful
witchery in that creation you have built up about her--for I heartily
believe most of us are merely clothing a sort of lay figure of loveliness
with attributes of our fancy--and the end of it is, we are about as wise
about our idols as the South Sea savages in their homage to the gods of
their own carving.'
'I don't think that!' said Gorman sternly. 'I could no more invent the
fascination that charms me than I could model a Venus or an Ariadne.'
'I see where your mistake lies. You do all this, and never know you do it.
Mind, I am only giving you Joe Atlee's theory all this time; for though I
believe in, I never invented it.'
'And who is Atlee?'
'A chum of mine--a clever dog enough--who, as he says himself, takes a very
low opinion of mankind, and in consequence finds this a capital world to
'I should hate the fellow.'
'Not if you met him. He can be very companionable, though I never saw any
one take less trouble to please. He is popular almost everywhere.'
'I know I should hate him.'
'My cousin Nina thought the same, and declared, from the mere sight of his
photograph, that he was false and treacherous, and Heaven knows what else
besides; and now she'll not suffer a word in his disparagement. She began
exactly as you say you would, by a strong prejudice against him. I remember
the day he came down here--her manner towards him was more than distant;
and I told my sister Kate how it offended me; and Kate only smiled and
said, "Have a little patience, Dick."'
'And you took the advice? You did have a little patience?'
'Yes; and the end is they are firm friends. I'm not sure they don't
'Is there love in the case, then?'
'That is what I cannot make out. So far as I know either of them, there
is no trustfulness in their dispositions; each of them must see into the
nature of the other. I have heard Joe Atlee say, "With that woman for a
wife, a man might safely bet on his success in life." And she herself one
day owned, "If a girl was obliged to marry a man without sixpence, she
might take Atlee."'
'So, I have it, they will be man and wife yet!'
'Who knows! Have another weed?'
Gorman declined the offered cigar, and again a pause in the conversation
followed. At last he suddenly said, 'She told me she thought she would
'She told _you_ that? How did it come about to make _you_ such a
'Just this way. I was getting a little--not spooney--but attentive, and
rather liked hanging after her; and in one of our walks in the wood--and
there was no flirting at the time between us--she suddenly said, "I don't
think you are half a bad fellow, lieutenant." "Thanks for the compliment,"
said I coldly. She never heeded my remark, but went on, "I mean, in fact,
that if you had something to live for, and somebody to care about, there
is just the sort of stuff in you to make you equal to both." Not exactly
knowing what I said, and half, only half in earnest, I answered, "Why can I
not have one to care for?" And I looked tenderly into her eyes as I spoke.
She did not wince under my glance. Her face was calm, and her colour did
not change; and she was full a minute before she said, with a faint sigh,
"I suppose I shall marry Cecil Walpole." "Do you mean," said I, "against
your will?" "Who told you I had a will, sir?" said she haughtily; "or that
if I had, I should now be walking here in this wood alone with you? No,
no," added she hurriedly, "you cannot understand me. There is nothing to be
offended at. Go and gather me some of those wild flowers, and we'll talk of
'How like her!--how like her!' said Dick, and then looked sad and pondered.
'I was very near falling in love with her myself!' said he, after a
'She has a way of curing a man if he should get into such an indiscretion,'
muttered Gorman, and there was bitterness in his voice as he spoke.
'Listen! listen to that!' and from an open window of the house there came
the prolonged cadence of a full sweet voice, as Nina was singing an Irish
ballad air. 'That's for my father! "Kathleen Mavourneen" is one of his
favourites, and she can make him cry over it.'
'I'm not very soft-hearted,' muttered Gorman, 'but she gave me a sense of
fulness in the throat, like choking, the other day, that I vowed to myself
I'd never listen to that song again.'
'It is not her voice--it is not the music--there is some witchery in the
woman herself that does it,' cried Dick, almost fiercely. 'Take a walk with
her in the wood, saunter down one of these alleys in the garden, and I'll
be shot if your heart will not begin to beat in another fashion, and your
brain to weave all sorts of bright fancies, in which she will form the
chief figure; and though you'll be half inclined to declare your love, and
swear that you cannot live without her, some terror will tell you not to
break the spell of your delight, but to go on walking there at her side,
and hearing her words just as though that ecstasy could last for ever.'
'I suspect you are in love with her,' said O'Shea dryly.
'Not now. Not now; and I'll take care not to have a relapse,' said he
'How do you mean to manage that?'
'The only one way it is possible--not to see her, nor to hear her--not to
live in the same land with her. I have made up my mind to go to Australia.
I don't well know what to do when I get there; but whatever it be, and
whatever it cost me to bear, I shall meet it without shrinking, for there
will be no old associates to look on and remark upon my shabby clothes and
'What will the passage cost you?' asked Gorman eagerly.
'I have ascertained that for about fifty pounds I can land myself in
Melbourne, and if I have a ten-pound note after, it is as much as I mean to
'If I can raise the money, I'll go with you,' said O'Shea.
'Will you? is this serious? is it a promise?'
'I pledge my word on it. I'll go over to the Barn to-day and see my aunt. I
thought up to this I could not bring myself to go there, but I will now. It
is for the last time in my life, and I must say good-bye, whether she helps
me or not.'
'You'll scarcely like to ask her for money,' said Dick.
'Scarcely--at all events, I'll see her, and I'll tell her that I'm going
away, with no other thought in my mind than of all the love and affection
she had for me, worse luck mine that I have not got them still.'
'Shall I walk over with--? would you rather be alone?'
'I believe so! I think I should like to be alone.'
'Let us meet, then, on this spot to-morrow, and decide what is to be done?'
'Agreed!' cried O'Shea, and with a warm shake-hands to ratify the pledge,
they parted: Dick towards the lower part of the garden, while O'Shea turned
towards the house.
We have all of us felt how depressing is the sensation felt in a family
circle in the first meeting after the departure of their guests. The
friends who have been staying some time in your house not only bring to the
common stock their share of pleasant converse and companionship, but, in
the quality of strangers, they exact a certain amount of effort for their
amusement, which is better for him who gives than for the recipient,
and they impose that small reserve which excludes the purely personal
inconveniences and contrarieties, which unhappily, in strictly family
intercourse, have no small space allotted them for discussion.
It is but right to say that they who benefit most by, and most gratefully
acknowledge, this boon of the visitors, are the young. The elders,
sometimes more disposed to indolence than effort, sometimes irritable at
the check essentially put upon many little egotisms of daily use, and
oftener than either, perhaps, glad to get back to the old groove of home
discussion, unrestrained by the presence of strangers; the elders are
now and then given to express a most ungracious gratitude for being once
again to themselves, and free to be as confidential and outspoken and
disagreeable as their hearts desire.
The dinner at Kilgobbin Castle, on the day I speak of, consisted solely of
the Kearney family, and except in the person of the old man himself, no
trace of pleasantry could be detected. Kate had her own share of anxieties.
A number of notices had been served by refractory tenants for demands they
were about to prefer for improvements, under the new land act. The passion
for litigation, so dear to the Irish peasant's heart--that sense of having
something to be quibbled for, so exciting to the imaginative nature of the
Celt, had taken possession of all the tenants on the estate, and even the
well-to-do and the satisfied were now bestirring themselves to think if
they had not some grievance to be turned into profit, and some possible
hardship to be discounted into an abatement.
Dick Kearney, entirely preoccupied by the thought of his intended journey,
already began to feel that the things of home touched him no longer. A few
months more and he should be far away from Ireland and her interests, and
why should he harass himself about the contests of party or the balance of
factions, which never again could have any bearing on his future life. His
whole thought was what arrangement he could make with his father by which,
for a little present assistance, he might surrender all his right on the
entail and give up Kilgobbin for ever.
As for Nina, her complexities were too many and too much interwoven for our
investigation; and there were thoughts of all the various persons she had
met in Ireland, mingled with scenes of the past, and, more strangely still,
the people placed in situations and connections which by no likelihood
should they ever have occupied. The thought that the little comedy of
everyday life, which she relished immensely, was now to cease for lack of
actors, made her serious--almost sad--and she seldom spoke during the meal.
At Lord Kilgobbin's request, that they would not leave him to take his
wine alone, they drew their chairs round the dining-room fire; but, except
the bright glow of the ruddy turf, and the pleasant look of the old man
himself, there was little that smacked of the agreeable fireside.
'What has come over you girls this evening?' said the old man. 'Are you in
love, or has the man that ought to be in love with either of you discovered
it was only a mistake he was making?'
'Ask Nina, sir,' said Kate gravely.
'Perhaps you are right, uncle,' said Nina dreamily.
'In which of my guesses--the first or the last?'
'Don't puzzle me, sir, for I have no head for a subtle distinction. I only
meant to say it is not so easy to be in love without mistakes. You mistake
realities and traits for something not a bit like them, and you mistake
yourself by imagining that you mind them.'
'I don't think I understand you,' said the old man.
'Very likely not, sir. I do not know if I had a meaning that I could
'Nina wants to tell you, my lord, that the right man has not come forward
yet, and she does not know whether she'll keep the place open in her heart
for him any longer,' said Dick, with a half-malicious glance.
'That terrible Cousin Dick! nothing escapes him,' said Nina, with a faint
'Is there any more in the newspapers about that scandal of the Government?'
cried the old man, turning to Kate.
'Is there not going to be some inquiry as to whether his Excellency wrote
to the Fenians?'
'There are a few words here, papa,' cried Kate, opening the paper. '"In
reply to the question of Sir Barnes Malone as to the late communications
alleged to have passed between the head of the Irish Government and the
head-centre of the Fenians, the Right Honourable the First Lord of the
Treasury said, 'That the question would be more properly addressed to
the noble lord the Secretary for Ireland, who was not then in the House.
Meanwhile, sir,' continued he, 'I will take on myself the responsibility of
saying that in this, as in a variety of other cases, the zeal of party has
greatly outstripped the discretion that should govern political warfare.
The exceptional state of a nation, in which the administration of justice
mainly depends on those aids which a rigid morality might disparage--the
social state of a people whose integrity calls for the application of means
the most certain to disseminate distrust and disunion, are facts which
constitute reasons for political action that, however assailable in the
mere abstract, the mind of statesmanlike form will at once accept as solid
and effective, and to reject which would only show that, in over-looking
the consequences of sentiment, a man can ignore the most vital interests of
'Does he say that they wrote to Donogan?' cried Kilgobbin, whose patience
had been sorely pushed by the Premier's exordium.
'Let me read on, papa.'
'Skip all that, and get down to a simple question and answer, Kitty; don't
read the long sentences.'
'This is how he winds up, papa. "I trust I have now, sir, satisfied the
House that there are abundant reasons why this correspondence should not be
produced on the table, while I have further justified my noble friend for a
course of action in which the humanity of the man takes no lustre from the
glory of the statesman"--then there are some words in Latin--"and the right
hon. gentleman resumed his seat amidst loud cheers, in which some of the
Opposition were heard to join."'
'I want to be told, after all, did they write the letter to say Donogan was
to be let escape?'
'Would it have been a great crime, uncle?' said Nina artlessly.
'I'm not going into that. I'm only asking what the people over us say is
the best way to govern us. I'd like to know, once for all, what was wrong
and what was right in Ireland.'
'Has not the Premier just told you, sir,' replied Nina, 'that it is always
the reverse of what obtains everywhere else?'
'I have had enough of it, anyhow,' cried Dick, who, though not intending
it before, now was carried away by a momentary gust of passion to make the
'Have you been in the Cabinet all this time, then, without our knowing it?'
asked Nina archly.
'It is not of the Cabinet I was speaking, mademoiselle. It was of the
country.' And he answered haughtily.
'And where would you go, Dick, and find better?' said Kate.
'Anywhere. I should find better in America, in Canada, in the Far West, in
New Zealand--but I mean to try in Australia.'
'And what will you do when you get there?' asked Kilgobbin, with a grim
humour in his look.
'Do tell me, Cousin Dick, for who knows that it might not suit me also?'
Young Kearney filled his glass, and drained it without speaking. At last
he said, 'It will be for you, sir, to say if I make the trial. It is clear
enough, I have no course open to me here. For a few hundred pounds, or,
indeed, for anything you like to give me, you get rid of me for ever. It
will be the one piece of economy my whole life comprises.'
'Stay at home, Dick, and give to your own country the energy you are
willing to bestow on a strange land,' said Kate.
'And labour side by side with the peasant I have looked down upon since I
was able to walk.'
'Don't look down on him, then--do it no longer. If you would treat the
first stranger you met in the bush as your equal, begin the Christian
practice in your own country.'
'But he needn't do that at all,' broke in the old man. 'If he would take
to strong shoes and early rising here at Kilgobbin, he need never go to
Geelong for a living. Your great-grandfathers lived here for centuries, and
the old house that sheltered them is still standing.'
'What should I stay for--?' He had got thus far when his eyes met Nina's,
and he stopped and hesitated, and, as a deep blush covered his face,
faltered out, 'Gorman O'Shea says he is ready to go with me, and two
fellows with less to detain them in their own country would be hard to
'O'Shea will do well enough,' said the old man; 'he was not brought up
to kid-leather boots and silk linings in his greatcoat. There's stuff
in _him_, and if it comes to sleeping under a haystack or dining on a
red-herring, he'll not rise up with rheumatism or heartburn. And what's
better than all, he'll not think himself a hero because he mends his own
boots or lights his own kitchen-fire.'
'A letter for your honour,' said the servant, entering with a very
informal-looking note on coarse paper, and fastened with a wafer. 'The
gossoon, sir, is waiting for an answer; he run every mile from Moate.'
'Read it, Kitty,' said the old man, not heeding the servant's comment.
'It is dated "Moate Jail, seven o'clock,"' said Kitty, as she read: '"Dear
Sir,--I have got into a stupid scrape, and have been committed to jail.
Will you come, or send some one to bail me out. The thing is a mere trifle,
but the 'being locked up' is very hard to bear.--Yours always, G. O'Shea."'
'Is this more Fenian work?' cried Kilgobbin.
'I'm certain it is not, sir,' said Dick. 'Gorman O'Shea has no liking
for them, nor is he the man to sympathise with what he owns he cannot
understand. It is a mere accidental row.'
'At all events, we must see to set him at liberty. Order the gig, Dick, and
while they are putting on the harness, I'll finish this decanter of port.
If it wasn't that we're getting retired shopkeepers on the bench, we'd not
see an O'Shea sent to prison like a gossoon that stole a bunch of turnips.'
'What has he been doing, I wonder?' said Nina, as she drew her arm within
Kate's and left the room.
'Some loud talk in the bar-parlour, perhaps,' was Kate's reply, and the
toss of her head as she said it implied more even than the words.
HOW IT BEFELL
While Lord Kilgobbin and his son are plodding along towards Moate with a
horse not long released from the harrow, and over a road which the late
rains had sorely damaged, the moment is not inopportune to explain the
nature of the incident, small enough in its way, that called on them for
this journey at nightfall. It befell that when Miss Betty, indignant at
her nephew's defection, and outraged that he should descend to call at
Kilgobbin, determined to cast him off for ever, she also resolved upon a
project over which she had long meditated, and to which the conversation at
her late dinner greatly predisposed her.
The growing unfertility of the land, the sturdy rejection of the authority
of the Church, manifested in so many ways by the people, had led Miss
O'Shea to speculate more on the insecurity of landed property in Ireland
than all the long list of outrages scheduled at assizes, or all the burning
haggards that ever flared in a wintry sky. Her notion was to retire into
some religious sisterhood, and away from life and its cares, to pass her
remaining years in holy meditation and piety. She would have liked to have
sold her estate and endowed some house or convent with the proceeds, but
there were certain legal difficulties that stood in the way, and her
law-agent, McKeown, must be seen and conferred with about these.
Her moods of passion were usually so very violent that she would stop at
nothing; and in the torrent of her anger she would decide on a course of
action which would colour a whole lifetime. On the present occasion her
first step was to write and acquaint McKeown that she would be at Moodie's
Hotel, Dominick Street, the same evening, and begged he might call there at
eight or nine o'clock, as her business with him was pressing. Her next care
was to let the house and lands of O'Shea's Barn to Peter Gill, for the term
of one year, at a rent scarcely more than nominal, the said Gill binding
himself to maintain the gardens, the shrubberies, and all the ornamental
plantings in their accustomed order and condition. In fact, the extreme
moderation of the rent was to be recompensed by the large space allotted
to unprofitable land, and the great care he was pledged to exercise in
its preservation; and while nominally the tenant, so manifold were the
obligations imposed on him, he was in reality very little other than
the caretaker of O'Shea's Barn and its dependencies. No fences were
to be altered, or boundaries changed. All the copses of young timber
were to be carefully protected by palings as heretofore, and even the
ornamental cattle--the shorthorns, and the Alderneys, and a few favourite
'Kerries,'--were to be kept on the allotted paddocks; and to old Kattoo
herself was allotted a loose box, with a small field attached to it, where
she might saunter at will, and ruminate over the less happy quadrupeds that
had to work for their subsistence.
Now, though Miss Betty, in the full torrent of her anger, had that much of
method in her madness to remember the various details, whose interests were
the business of her daily life, and so far made provision for the future of
her pet cows and horses and dogs and guinea-fowls, so that if she should
ever resolve to return she should find all as she had left it, the short
paper of agreement by which she accepted Gill as her tenant was drawn up by
her own hand, unaided by a lawyer; and, whether from the intemperate haste
of the moment, or an unbounded confidence in Gill's honesty and fidelity,
was not only carelessly expressed, but worded in a way that implied how her
trustfulness exonerated her from anything beyond the expression of what she
wished for, and what she believed her tenant would strictly perform. Gill's
repeated phrase of 'Whatever her honour's ladyship liked' had followed
every sentence as she read the document aloud to him; and the only real
puzzle she had was to explain to the poor man's simple comprehension that
she was not making a hard bargain with him, but treating him handsomely and
in all confidence.
Shrewd and sharp as the old lady was, versed in the habits of the people,
and long trained to suspect a certain air of dulness, by which, when asking
the explanation of a point, they watch, with a native casuistry, to see
what flaw or chink may open an equivocal meaning or intention, she was
thoroughly convinced by the simple and unreasoning concurrence this humble
man gave to every proviso, and the hearty assurance he always gave 'that
her honour knew what was best. God reward and keep her long in the way to
do it!'--with all this, Miss O'Shea had not accomplished the first stage
of her journey to Dublin, when Peter Gill was seated in the office of Pat
McEvoy, the attorney at Moate--smart practitioner, who had done more to
foster litigation between tenant and landlord than all the 'grievances'
that ever were placarded by the press.
'When did you get this, Peter?' said the attorney, as he looked about,
unable to find a date.
'This morning, sir, just before she started.'
'You'll have to come before the magistrate and make an oath of the date,
and, by my conscience, it's worth the trouble.'
'Why, sir, what's in it?' cried Peter eagerly.
'I'm no lawyer if she hasn't given you a clear possession of the place,
subject to certain trusts, and even for the non-performance of these there
is no penalty attached. When Councillor Holmes comes down at the assizes,
I'll lay a case before him, and I'll wager a trifle, Peter, you will turn
out to be an estated gentleman.'
'Blood alive!' was all Peter could utter.
Though the conversation that ensued occupied more than an hour, it is not
necessary that we should repeat what occurred, nor state more than the fact
that Peter went home fully assured that if O'Shea's Barn was not his own
indisputably, it would be very hard to dispossess him, and that, at all
events, the occupation was secure to him for the present. The importance
that the law always attaches to possession Mr. McEvoy took care to impress
on Gill's mind, and he fully convinced him that a forcible seizure of the
premises was far more to be apprehended than the slower process of a suit
and a verdict.
It was about the third week after this opinion had been given, when young
O'Shea walked over from Kilgobbin Castle to the Barn, intending to see his
aunt and take his farewell of her.
Though he had steeled his heart against the emotion such a leave-taking was
likely to evoke, he was in nowise prepared for the feelings the old place
itself would call up, and as he opened a little wicket that led by a
shrubbery walk to the cottage, he was glad to throw himself on the first
seat he could find and wait till his heart could beat more measuredly.
What a strange thing was life--at least that conventional life we make for
ourselves--was his thought now. 'Here am I ready to cross the globe, to be
the servant, the labourer of some rude settler in the wilds of Australia,
and yet I cannot be the herdsman here, and tend the cattle in the scenes
that I love, where every tree, every bush, every shady nook, and every
running stream is dear to me. I cannot serve my own kith and kin, but must
seek my bread from the stranger! This is our glorious civilisation. I
should like to hear in what consists its marvellous advantage.'
And then he began to think of those men of whom he had often
heard--gentlemen and men of refinement--who had gone out to Australia, and
who, in all the drudgery of daily labour--herding cattle on the plains or
conducting droves of horses long miles of way--still managed to retain the
habits of their better days, and, by the instinct of the breeding, which
had become a nature, to keep intact in their hearts the thoughts and the
sympathies and the affections that made them gentlemen.
'If my dear aunt only knew me as I know myself, she would let me stay here
and serve her as the humblest labourer on her land. I can see no indignity
in being poor and faring hardly. I have known coarse food and coarse
clothing, and I never found that they either damped my courage or soured my
It might not seem exactly the appropriate moment to have bethought him of
the solace of companionship in such poverty, but somehow his thoughts _did_
take that flight, and unwarrantable as was the notion, he fancied himself
returning at nightfall to his lowly cabin, and a certain girlish figure,
whom our reader knows as Kate Kearney, standing watching for his coming.
There was no one to be seen about as he approached the house. The
hall door, however, lay open. He entered and passed on to the little
breakfast-parlour on the left. The furniture was the same as before, but a
coarse fustian jacket was thrown on the back of a chair, and a clay-pipe
and a paper of tobacco stood on the table. While he was examining these
objects with some attention, a very ragged urchin, of some ten or eleven
years, entered the room with a furtive step, and stood watching him. From
this fellow, all that he could hear was that Miss Betty was gone away,
and that Peter was at the Kilbeggan Market, and though he tried various
questions, no other answers than these were to be obtained. Gorman now
tried to see the drawing-room and the library, but these, as well as the
dining-room, were all locked. He next essayed the bedrooms, but with the
same unsuccess. At length he turned to his own well-known corner--the
well-remembered little 'green-room'--which he loved to think his own. This
too was locked, but Gorman remembered that by pressing the door underneath
with his walking-stick, he could lift the bolt from the old-fashioned
receptacle that held it, and open the door. Curious to have a last look at
a spot dear by so many memories, he tried the old artifice and succeeded.
He had still on his watch-chain the little key of an old marquetrie
cabinet, where he was wont to write, and now he was determined to write a
last letter to his aunt from the old spot, and send her his good-bye from
the very corner where he had often come to wish her 'good-night.'
He opened the window and walked out on the little wooden balcony, from
which the view extended over the lawn and the broad belt of wood that
fenced the demesne. The Sliebh Bloom Mountain shone in the distance, and
in the calm of an evening sunlight the whole picture had something in its
silence and peacefulness of almost rapturous charm.
Who is there amongst us that has not felt, in walking through the rooms of
some uninhabited house, with every appliance of human comfort strewn about,
ease and luxury within, wavy trees and sloping lawn or eddying waters
without--who, in seeing all these, has not questioned himself as to why
this should be deserted? and why is there none to taste and feel all the
blessedness of such a lot as life here should offer? Is not the world full
of these places? is not the puzzle of this query of all lands and of all
peoples? That ever-present delusion of what we should do--what be if we
were aught other than ourselves: how happy, how contented, how unrepining,
and how good--ay, even our moral nature comes into the compact--this
delusion, I say, besets most of us through life, and we never weary of
believing how cruelly fate has treated us, and how unjust destiny has been
to a variety of good gifts and graces which are doomed to die unrecognised
I will not go to the length of saying that Gorman O'Shea's reflections went
thus far, though they did go to the extent of wondering why his aunt had
left this lovely spot, and asked himself, again and again, where she could
possibly have found anything to replace it.
'My dearest aunt,' wrote he, 'in my own old room at the dear old desk, and
on the spot knitted to my heart by happiest memories, I sit down to send
you my last good-bye ere I leave Ireland for ever.
'It is in no mood of passing fretfulness or impatience that I resolve to
go and seek my fortune in Australia. As I feel now, believing you are
displeased with me, I have no heart to go further into the question of my
own selfish interests, nor say why I resolve to give up soldiering, and why
I turn to a new existence. Had I been to you what I have hitherto been, had
I the assurance that I possessed the old claim on your love which made me
regard you as a dear mother, I should tell you of every step that has led
me to this determination, and how carefully and anxiously I tried to study
what might be the turning-point of my life.'
When he had written thus far, and his eyes had already grown glassy with
the tears which would force their way across them, a heavy foot was heard
on the stairs, the door was burst rudely open, and Peter Gill stood before
No longer, however, the old peasant in shabby clothes, and with his look
half-shy, half-sycophant, but vulgarly dressed in broadcloth and bright
buttons, a tall hat on his head, and a crimson cravat round his neck. His
face was flushed, and his eye flashing and insolent, so that O'Shea only
feebly recognised him by his voice.
'You thought you'd be too quick for me, young man,' said the fellow, and
the voice in its thickness showed he had been drinking, 'and that you would
do your bit of writing there before I'd be back, but I was up to you.'
'I really do not know what you mean,' cried O'Shea, rising; 'and as it is
only too plain you have been drinking, I do not care to ask you.'
'Whether I was drinking or no is my own business; there's none to call me
to account now. I am here in my own house, and I order you to leave it,
and if you don't go by the way you came in, by my soul you'll go by that
window!' A loud bang of his stick on the floor gave the emphasis to the
last words, and whether it was the action or the absurd figure of the man
himself overcame O'Shea, he burst out in a hearty laugh as he surveyed him.
'I'll make it no laughing matter to you,' cried Gill, wild with passion,
and stepping to the door he cried out, 'Come up, boys, every man of ye:
come up and see the chap that's trying to turn me out of my holding.'
The sound of voices and the tramp of feet outside now drew O'Shea to the
window, and passing out on the balcony, he saw a considerable crowd of
country-people assembled beneath. They were all armed with sticks, and had
that look of mischief and daring so unmistakable in a mob. As the young man
stood looking at them, some one pointed him out to the rest, and a wild
yell, mingled with hisses, now broke from the crowd. He was turning away
from the spot in disgust when he found that Gill had stationed himself at
the window, and barred the passage.
'The boys want another look at ye,' said Gill insolently; 'go back and show
yourself: it is not every day they see an informer.'
'Stand back, you old fool, and let me pass,' cried O'Shea.
'Touch me if you dare; only lay one finger on me in my own house,' said the
fellow, and he grinned almost in his face as he spoke.
'Stand back,' said Gorman, and suiting the action to the word, he raised
his arm to make space for him to pass out. Gill, no sooner did he feel the
arm graze his chest, than he struck O'Shea across the face; and though
the blow was that of an old man, the insult was so maddening that O'Shea,
seizing him by the arms, dragged him out upon the balcony.
'He's going to throw the old man over,' cried several of those beneath, and
amidst the tumult of voices, a number soon rushed up the stairs and out
on the balcony, where the old fellow was clinging to O'Shea's legs in his
despairing attempt to save himself. The struggle scarcely lasted many
seconds, for the rotten wood-work of the balcony creaked and trembled,
and at last gave way with a crash, bringing the whole party to the ground
[Illustration: The balcony creaked and trembled, and at last gave way]
A score of sticks rained their blows on the luckless young man, and each
time that he tried to rise he was struck back and rolled over by a blow or
a kick, till at length he lay still and senseless on the sward, his face
covered with blood and his clothes in ribbons.
'Put him in a cart, boys, and take him off to the gaol,' said the attorney,
McEvoy. 'We'll be in a scrape about all this, if we don't make _him_ in the
His audience fully appreciated the counsel, and while a few were busied in
carrying old Gill to the house--for a broken leg made him unable to reach
it alone--the others placed O'Shea on some straw in a cart, and set out
with him to Kilbeggan.
'It is not a trespass at all,' said McEvoy. 'I'll make it a burglary and
forcible entry, and if he recovers at all, I'll stake my reputation I
transport him for seven years.'
A hearty murmur of approval met the speech, and the procession, with the
cart at their head, moved on towards the town.
It was the Tory magistrate, Mr. Flood--the same who had ransacked Walpole's
correspondence--before whom the informations were sworn against Gorman
O'Shea, and the old justice of the peace was, in secret, not sorry to see
the question of land-tenure a source of dispute and quarrel amongst the
very party who were always inveighing against the landlords.
When Lord Kilgobbin arrived at Kilbeggan it was nigh midnight, and as
young O'Shea was at that moment a patient in the gaol infirmary, and sound
asleep, it was decided between Kearney and his son that they would leave
him undisturbed till the following morning.
Late as it was, Kearney was so desirous to know the exact narrative of
events that he resolved on seeing Mr. Flood at once. Though Dick Kearney
remonstrated with his father, and reminded him that old Tom Flood, as he
was called, was a bitter Tory, had neither a civil word nor a kind thought
for his adversaries in politics, Kearney was determined not to be turned
from his purpose by any personal consideration, and being assured by the
innkeeper that he was sure to find Mr. Flood in his dining-room and over
his wine, he set out for the snug cottage at the entrance of the town,
where the old justice of the peace resided.
Just as he had been told, Mr. Flood was still in the dinner-room, and
with his guest, Tony Adams, the rector, seated with an array of decanters
'Kearney--Kearney!' cried Flood, as he read the card the servant handed
him. 'Is it the fellow who calls himself Lord Kilgobbin, I wonder?'
'Maybe so,' growled Adams, in a deep guttural, for he disliked the effort
'I don't know him, nor do I want to know him. He is one of your
half-and-half Liberals that, to my thinking, are worse than the rebels
themselves! What is this here in pencil on the back of the card?' Mr. K.
begs to apologise for the hour of his intrusion, and earnestly entreats a
few minutes from Mr. Flood. 'Show him in, Philip, show him in; and bring
some fresh glasses.'
Kearney made his excuses with a tact and politeness which spoke of a time
when he mixed freely with the world, and old Flood was so astonished by the
ease and good-breeding of his visitor that his own manner became at once
courteous and urbane.
'Make no apologies about the hour, Mr. Kearney,' said he. 'An old
bachelor's house is never very tight in discipline. Allow me to introduce
Mr. Adams, Mr. Kearney, the best preacher in Ireland, and as good a judge
of port wine as of theology.'
The responsive grunt of the parson was drowned in the pleasant laugh of the
others, as Kearney sat down and filled his glass. In a very few words he
related the reason of his visit to the town, and asked Mr. Flood to tell
him what he knew of the late misadventure.
'Sworn information, drawn up by that worthy man, Pat McEvoy, the greatest
rascal in Europe, and I hope I don't hurt you by saying it, Mr. Kearney.
Sworn information of a burglarious entry, and an aggravated assault on the
premises and person of one Peter Gill, another local blessing--bad luck
to him. The aforesaid--if I spoke of hi before--Gorman O'Shea, having,
_suadente diabolo_, smashed down doors and windows, palisadings
and palings, and broke open cabinets, chests, cupboards, and other
contrivances. In a word, he went into another man's house, and when asked
what he did there, he threw the proprietor out of the window. There's the
whole of it.'
'Where was the house?'
'But surely O'Shea's Barn, being the residence and property of his aunt,
there was no impropriety in his going there?'
'The informant states that the place was in the tenancy of this said Gill,
one of your own people, Mr. Kearney. I wish you luck of him.'
'I disown him, root and branch; he is a disgrace to any side. And where is
Miss Betty O'Shea?'
'In a convent or a monastery, they say. She has turned abbess or monk; but,
upon my conscience, from the little I've seen of her, if a strong will and
a plucky heart be the qualifications, she might be the Pope!'
'And are the young man's injuries serious? Is he badly hurt? for they would
not let me see him at the gaol.'
'Serious, I believe they are. He is cut cruelly about the face and head,
and his body bruised all over. The finest peasantry have a taste for
kicking with strong brogues on them, Mr. Kearney, that cannot be equalled.'
'I wish with all my heart they'd kick the English out of Ireland!' cried
Kearney, with a savage energy.
''Faith! if they go on governing us in the present fashion, I do not say
I'll make any great objection. Eh, Adams?'
'Maybe so!' was the slow and very guttural reply, as the fat man crossed
his hands on his waistcoat.
'I'm sick of them all, Whigs and Tories,' said Kearney.
Is not every Irish gentleman sick of them, Mr. Kearney? Ain't you sick
of being cheated and cajoled, and ain't _we_ sick of being cheated and
insulted? They seek to conciliate _you_ by outraging _us_. Don't you think
we could settle our own differences better amongst ourselves? It was
Philpot Curran said of the fleas in Manchester, that if they'd all pulled
together, they'd have pulled him out of bed. Now, Mr. Kearney, what if we
all took to "pulling together?"'
'We cannot get rid of the notion that we'd be out-jockeyed,' said Kearney
'We _know_,' cried the other, 'that we should be out-numbered, and that is
worse. Eh, Adams?'
'Ay!' sighed Adams, who did not desire to be appealed to by either side.
'Now we're alone here, and no eavesdropper near us, tell me fairly,
Kearney, are you better because we are brought down in the world? Are you
richer--are you greater--are you happier?'
'I believe we are, Mr. Flood, and I'll tell you why I say so.'
I'll be shot if I hear you, that's all. Fill your glass. That's old port
that John Beresford tasted in the Custom-House Docks seventy-odd years ago,
and you are the only Whig living that ever drank a drop of it!'
'I am proud to be the first exception, and I go so far as to believe--I
shall not be the last!'
'I'll send a few bottles over to that boy in the infirmary. It cannot but
be good for him,' said Flood.
'Take care, for Heaven's sake, if he be threatened with inflammation. Do
nothing without the doctor's leave.'
'I wonder why the people who are so afraid of inflammation, are so fond of
rebellion,' said he sarcastically.
'Perhaps I could tell you that, too--'
'No, do not--do not, I beseech you; reading the Whig Ministers' speeches
has given me such a disgust to all explanations, I'd rather concede
anything than hear how it could be defended! Apparently Mr. Disraeli is of
my mind also, for he won't support Paul Hartigan's motion.'
'What was Hartigan's motion?'
'For the papers, or the correspondence, or whatever they called it, that
passed between Danesbury and Dan Donogan.'
'But there was none.'
'Is that all you know of it? They were as thick as two thieves. It was
"Dear Dane" and "Dear Dan" between them. "Stop the shooting. We want a
light calendar at the summer assizes," says one. "You shall have forty
thousand pounds yearly for a Catholic college, if the House will let us."
"Thank you for nothing for the Catholic college," says Dan. "We want our
own Parliament and our own militia; free pardon for political offences."
What would you say to a bill to make landlord-shooting manslaughter, Mr.
'Justifiable homicide, Mr. Bright called it years ago, but the judges
didn't see it.'
'This Danesbury "muddle," for that is the name they give it, will be hushed
up, for he has got some Tory connections, and the lords are never hard on
one of their "order," so I hear. Hartigan is to be let have his talk out
in the House, and as he is said to be violent and indiscreet, the Prime
Minister will only reply to the violence and the indiscretion, and he
will conclude by saying that the noble Viceroy has begged Her Majesty to
release him of the charge of the Irish Government; and though the Cabinet
have urgently entreated him to remain and carry out the wise policy of
conciliation so happily begun in Ireland, he is rooted in his resolve, and
he will not stay; and there will be cheers; and when he adds that Mr. Cecil
Walpole, having shown his great talents for intrigue, will be sent back
to the fitting sphere--his old profession of diplomacy--there will be
laughter; for as the Minister seldom jokes, the House will imagine this to
be a slip, and then, with every one in good humour--but Paul Hartigan, who
will have to withdraw his motion--the right honourable gentleman will sit
down, well pleased at his afternoon's work.'
Kearney could not but laugh at the sketch of a debate given with all the
mimicry of tone and mock solemnity of an old debater, and the two men now
became, by the bond of their geniality, like old acquaintances.
'Ah, Mr. Kearney, I won't say we'd do it better on College Green, but
we'd do it more kindly, more courteously, and, above all, we'd be less
hypocritical in our inquiries. I believe we try to cheat the devil in
Ireland just as much as our neighbours. But we don't pretend that we are
arch-bishops all the time we're doing it. There's where we differ from the
'And who is to govern us,' cried Kearney,' if we have no Lord-Lieutenant?'
'The Privy Council, the Lords Justices, or maybe the Board of Works, who
knows? When you are going over to Holyhead in the packet, do you ever ask
if the man at the wheel is decent, or a born idiot, and liable to fits? Not
a bit of it. You know that there are other people to look to this, and you
trust, besides, that they'll land you all safe.'
'That's true,' said Kearney, and he drained his glass; 'and now tell me one
thing more. How will it go with young O'Shea about this scrimmage, will it
'Curtis, the chief constable, says it will be an ugly affair enough.
They'll swear hard, and they'll try to make out a title to the land through
the action of trespass; and if, as I hear, the young fellow is a scamp and
a bad lot--'
'Neither one nor the other,' broke in Kearney; 'as fine a boy and as
thorough a gentleman as there is in Ireland.'
'And a bit of a Fenian, too,' slowly interposed Flood.
'Not that I know; I'm not sure that he follows the distinctions of party
here; he is little acquainted with Ireland.'
'Ho, ho! a Yankee sympathiser?'
'Not even that; an Austrian soldier, a young lieutenant of lancers over
here for his leave.'
'And why couldn't he shoot, or course, or kiss the girls, or play at
football, and not be burning his fingers with the new land-laws? There's
plenty of ways to amuse yourself in Ireland, without throwing a man out of
window; eh, Adams?'
And Adams bowed his assent, but did not utter a word.
'You are not going to open more wine?' remonstrated Kearney eagerly.
'It's done. Smell that, Mr. Kearney,' cried Flood, as he held out a
fresh-drawn cork at the end of the screw. 'Talk to me of clove-pinks and
violets and carnations after that? I don't know whether you have any
prayers in your church against being led into temptation.'
'Haven't we!' sighed the other.
'Then all I say is, Heaven help the people at Oporto; they'll have more to
answer for even than most men.'
It was nigh dawn when they parted, Kearney muttering to himself as he
sauntered back to the inn, 'If port like that is the drink of the Tories,
they must be good fellows with all their prejudices.'
'I'll be shot if I don't like that rebel,' said Flood as he went to bed.
BEFORE THE DOOR
Though Lord Kilgobbin, when he awoke somewhat late in the afternoon, did
not exactly complain of headache, he was free to admit that his faculties
were slightly clouded, and that his memory was not to the desired extent
retentive of all that passed on the preceding night. Indeed, beyond the
fact--which he reiterated with great energy--that 'old Flood, Tory though
he was, was a good fellow, an excellent fellow, and had a marvellous bin
of port wine,' his son Dick was totally unable to get any information from
him. 'Bigot, if you like, or Blue Protestant, and all the rest of it; but
a fine hearty old soul, and an Irishman to the heart's core!' That was the
sum of information which a two hours' close cross-examination elicited; and
Dick was sulkily about to leave the room in blank disappointment when the
old man suddenly amazed him by asking: 'And do you tell me that you have
been lounging about the town all the morning and have learned nothing? Were
you down to the gaol? Have you seen O'Shea? What's _his_ account of it?
Who began the row? Has he any bones broken? Do you know anything at all?'
cried he, as the blank look of the astonished youth seemed to imply utter
ignorance, as well as dismay.
'First of all,' said Dick, drawing a long breath, 'I have not seen O'Shea;
nobody is admitted to see him. His injuries about the head are so severe
the doctors are in dread of erysipelas.'
'What if he had? Have not every one of us had the erysipelas some time or
other; and, barring the itching, what's the great harm?'
'The doctors declare that if it come, they will not answer for his life.'
'They know best, and I'm afraid they know why also. Oh dear, oh dear!
if there's anything the world makes no progress in, it's the science of
medicine. Everybody now dies of what we all used to have when I was a boy!
Sore throats, smallpox, colic, are all fatal since they've found out Greek
names for them, and with their old vulgar titles they killed nobody.'
'Gorman is certainly in a bad way, and Dr. Rogan says it will be some days
before he could pronounce him out of danger.'
'Can he be removed? Can we take him back with us to Kilgobbin?'
'That is utterly out of the question; he cannot be stirred, and requires
the most absolute rest and quiet. Besides that, there is another
difficulty--I don't know if they would permit us to take him away.'
'What! do you mean, refuse our bail?'
'They have got affidavits to show old Gill's life's in danger; he is in
high fever to-day, and raving furiously, and if he should die, McEvoy
declares that they'll be able to send bills for manslaughter, at least,
before the grand-jury.'
'There's more of it!' cried Kilgobbin, with a long whistle. 'Is it Rogan
swears the fellow is in danger?'
'No, it's Tom Price, the dispensary doctor; and as Miss Betty withdrew her
subscription last year, they say he swore he'd pay her off for it.'
'I know Tom, and I'll see to that,' said Kearney. 'Are the affidavits
'No. They are drawn out; McEvoy is copying them now; but they'll be ready
by three o'clock.'
'I'll have Rogan to swear that the boy must be removed at once. We'll
take him over with us; and once at Kilgobbin, they'll want a regiment of
soldiers if they mean to take him. It is nigh twelve o'clock now, is it
'It is on the stroke of two, sir.'
'Is it possible? I believe I overslept myself in the strange bed. Be alive
now, Dick, and take the 2.40 train to town. Call on McKeown, and find out
where Miss Betty is stopping; break this business to her gently--for with
all that damnable temper, she has a fine womanly heart--tell her the poor
boy was not to blame at all: that he went over to see her, and knew nothing
of the place being let out or hired; and tell her, besides, that the
blackguards that beat him were not her own people at all, but villains from
another barony that old Gill brought over to work on short wages. Mind that
you say that, or we'll have more law, and more trouble--notices to quit,
and the devil knows what. I know Miss Betty well, and she'd not leave a man
on a town-land if they raised a finger against one of her name! There now,
you know what to do: go and do it!'
To hear the systematic and peremptory manner in which the old man detailed
all his directions, one would have pronounced him a model of orderly
arrangement and rule. Having despatched Dick to town, however, he began
to bethink him of all the matters on which he was desirous to learn Miss
O'Shea's mind. Had she really leased the Barn to this man Gill: and if so,
for what term? And was her quarrel with her nephew of so serious a nature
that she might hesitate as to taking his side here--at least, till she knew
he was in the right; and then, was he in the right? That was, though the
last, the most vital consideration of all.
'I'd have thought of all these if the boy had not flurried me so. These
hot-headed fellows have never room in their foolish brains for anything
like consecutive thought; they can just entertain the one idea, and till
they dismiss that, they cannot admit another. Now, he'll come back by the
next train, and bring me the answer to one of my queries, if even that?'
sighed he, as he went on with his dressing.
'All this blessed business,' muttered he to himself, 'comes of this
blundering interference with the land-laws. Paddy hears that they have
given him some new rights and privileges, and no mock-modesty of his own
will let him lose any of them, and so he claims everything. Old experience
had taught him that with a bold heart and a blunderbuss he need not pay
much rent; but Mr. Gladstone--long life to him--had said, "We must do
something for you." Now what could that be? He'd scarcely go so far as to
give them out Minié rifles or Chassepots, though arms of precision, as they
call them, would have put many a poor fellow out of pain--as Bob Magrath