Part 2 out of 4
'I'm only interpreting the people, sir.'
'Jump out of that tinder-box as soon as you can.'
'When I was in South America, it astonished me that no Englishman had
cast an eye on so inviting a land. Australia is not comparable with it.
And where colonisations have begun without system, and without hard
fighting to teach the settlers to value good leadership and respect
their chiefs, they tumble into Republics.'
Patrick would have liked to fling a word in about the Englishman's cast
of his eye upon inviting lands, but the trot was resumed, the lord of
Earlsfont having delivered his mind, and a minute made it happily too
late for the sarcastic bolt. Glad that his tongue had been kept from
wagging, he trotted along beside his host in the dusky evening over the
once contested land where the gentleman's forefathers had done their
deeds and firmly fixed their descendants. A remainder of dull red fire
prolonged the half-day above the mountain strongholds of the former
owners of the soil, upon which prince and bard and priest, and grappling
natives never wanting for fierceness, roared to-arms in the beacon-flames
from ridge to peak: and down they poured, and back they were pushed by
the inveterate coloniser--stationing at threatened points his old
'artillerymen' of those days and so it ends, that bard and priest and
prince; holy poetry, and divine prescription, and a righteous holding;
are as naught against him. They go, like yonder embers of the winter
sunset before advancing night: and to morrow the beacon-heaps are ashes,
the conqueror's foot stamps on them, the wind scatters them; strangest of
all, you hear victorious lawlessness appealing solemnly to God the law.
Patrick was too young to philosophise upon his ideas; or else the series
of pictures projected by the troops of sensations running through him
were not of a solidity to support any structure of philosophy. He
reverted, though rather in name than in spirit, to the abstractions,
justice, consistency, right. They were too hard to think of, so he
abandoned the puzzle of fitting them to men's acts and their consciences,
and he put them aside as mere titles employed for the uses of a police
and a tribunal to lend an appearance of legitimacy to the decrees of them
that have got the upper hand. An insurrectionary rising of his breast on
behalf of his country was the consequence. He kept it down by turning
the whole hubbub within him to the practical contemplation of a visionary
South America as the region for him and a fighting tenantry. With a
woman, to crown her queen there, the prospect was fair. But where dwelt
the woman possessing majesty suitable to such a dream in her heart or her
head? The best he had known in Ireland and in France, preferred the
charms of society to bold adventure.
All the same, thought he, it's queer counsel, that we should set to work
by buying a bit of land to win a clean footing to rob our neighbours: and
his brains took another shot at Mr. Adister, this time without
penetrating. He could very well have seen the matter he disliked in a
man that he disliked; but the father of Adiante had touched him with the
gift of the miniature.
Patrick was not asked to postpone his departure from Earlsfont, nor was
he invited to come again. Mr. Adister drove him to the station in the
early morning, and gave him a single nod from the phaeton-box for a good-
bye. Had not Caroline assured him at the leave-taking between them that
he had done her uncle great good by his visit, the blank of the usual
ceremonial phrases would have caused him to fancy himself an intruder
courteously dismissed, never more to enter the grand old Hall. He was
further comforted by hearing the stationmaster's exclamation of
astonishment and pleasure at the sight of the squire 'in his place'
handling the reins, which had not been witnessed for many a day and
so it appeared that the recent guest had been exceptionally complimented.
'But why not a warm word, instead of turning me off to decipher a bit of
Egyptian on baked brick,' he thought, incurably Celtic as he was.
From the moment when he beheld Mr. Adister's phaeton mounting a hill that
took the first leap for the Cambrian highlands, up to his arrival in
London, scarcely one of his 'ideas' darted out before Patrick, as they
were in the habit of doing, like the enchanted bares of fairyland,
tempting him to pursue, and changing into the form of woman ever, at some
turn of the chase. For as he had travelled down to Earlsfont in the
state of ignorance and hopefulness, bearing the liquid brains of that
young condition, so did his acquisition of a particular fact destructive
of hope solidify them about it as he travelled back: in other words, they
were digesting what they had taken in. Imagination would not have
stirred for a thousand fleeting hares: and principally, it may be,
because he was conscious that no form of woman would anywhere come of
them. Woman was married; she had the ring on her finger! He could at
his option look on her in the miniature, he could think of her as being
in the city where she had been painted; but he could not conjure her out
of space; she was nowhere in the ambient air. Secretly she was a feeling
that lay half slumbering very deep down within him, and he kept the
secret, choosing to be poor rather than call her forth. He was in truth
digesting with difficulty, as must be the case when it is allotted to the
brains to absorb what the soul abhors.
'Poor old Philip!' was his perpetual refrain. 'Philip, the girl you
loved is married; and here's her portrait taken in her last blush; and
the man who has her hasn't a share in that!' Thus, throwing in the ghost
of a sigh for sympathy, it seemed to Patrick that the intelligence would
have to be communicated. Bang is better, thought he, for bad news than
snapping fire and feinting, when you're bound half to kill a fellow, and
a manly fellow.
Determined that bang it should be, he hurried from the terminus to
Philip's hotel, where he had left him, and was thence despatched to the
house of Captain Con O'Donnell, where he created a joyful confusion,
slightly dashed with rigour on the part of the regnant lady; which is not
to be wondered at, considering that both the gentlemen attending her,
Philip and her husband, quitted her table with shouts at the announcement
of his name, and her husband hauled him in unwashed before her, crying
that the lost was found, the errant returned, the Prodigal Pat recovered
by his kinsman! and she had to submit to the introduction of the
disturber: and a bedchamber had to be thought of for the unexpected
guest, and the dinner to be delayed in middle course, and her husband
corrected between the discussions concerning the bedchamber, and either
the guest permitted to appear at her table in sooty day-garb, or else a
great gap commanded in the service of her dishes, vexatious extreme for a
lady composed of orderliness. She acknowledged Patrick's profound salute
and his excuses with just so many degrees in the inclining of her head as
the polite deem a duty to themselves when the ruffling world has
'Con!' she called to her chattering husband, 'we are in England, if you
'To be sure, madam,' said the captain, 'and so 's Patrick, thanks to the
stars. We fancied him gone, kidnapped, burned, made a meal of and
swallowed up, under the earth or the water; for he forgot to give us
his address in town; he stood before us for an hour or so, and then the
fellow vanished. We've waited for him gaping. With your permission I'll
venture an opinion that he'll go and dabble his hands and sit with us as
he is, for the once, as it happens.'
'Let it be so,' she rejoined, not pacified beneath her dignity. She
named the bedchamber to a footman.
'And I'll accompany the boy to hurry him on,' said the captain, hurrying
Patrick on as he spoke, till he had him out of the dining-room, when he
whispered: 'Out with your key, and if we can scramble you into your
evening-suit quick we shall heal the breach in the dinner. You dip your
hands and face, I'll have out the dress. You've the right style for her,
my boy: and mind, she is an excellent good woman, worthy of all respect:
but formality's the flattery she likes: a good bow and short speech.
Here we are, and the room's lighted. Off to the basin, give me the key;
and here's hot water in tripping Mary's hands. The portmanteau opens
easy. Quick! the door's shut on rosy Mary. The race is for domestic
peace, my boy. I sacrifice everything I can for it, in decency. 'Tis
the secret of my happiness.'
Patrick's transformation was rapid enough to satisfy the impatient
captain, who said: 'You'll tell her you couldn't sit down in her presence
undressed. I married her at forty, you know, when a woman has reached
her perfect development, and leans a trifle more to ceremonies than to
substance. And where have you been the while?'
'I'll tell you by and by,' said Patrick.
'Tell me now, and don't be smirking at the glass; your necktie's as neat
as a lady's company-smile, equal at both ends, and warranted not to relax
before the evening 's over. And mind you don't set me off talking over-
much downstairs. I talk in her presence like the usher of the Court to
the judge. 'Tis the secret of my happiness.'
'Where are those rascally dress-boots of mine?' cried Patrick.
Captain Con pitched the contents of the portmanteau right and left.
'Never mind the boots, my boy. Your legs will be under the table during
dinner, and we'll institute a rummage up here between that and the
procession to the drawing-room, where you'll be examined head to foot,
devil a doubt of it. But say, where have you been? She'll be asking,
and we're in a mess already, and may as well have a place to name to her,
somewhere, to excuse the gash you've made in her dinner. Here they are,
both of 'm, rolled in a dirty shirt!'
Patrick seized the boots and tugged them on, saying 'Earlsfont, then.'
'You've been visiting Earlsfont? Whack! but that's the saving of us!
Talk to her of her brother he sends her his love. Talk to her of the
ancestral hall--it stands as it was on the day of its foundation. Just
wait about five minutes to let her punish us, before you out with it.
'Twill come best from you. What did you go down there for? But don't
stand answering questions; come along. Don't heed her countenance at the
going in: we've got the talisman. As to the dressing, it's a perfect
trick of harlequinade, and she'll own it after a dose of Earlsfont. And,
by the way, she's not Mrs. Con, remember; she's Mrs. Adister O'Donnell:
and that's best rolled out to Mistress. She's a worthy woman, but she
was married at forty, and I had to take her shaped as she was, for
moulding her at all was out of the question, and the soft parts of me
had to be the sufferers, to effect a conjunction, for where one won't and
can't, poor t' other must, or the union's a mockery. She was cast in
bronze at her birth, if she wasn't cut in bog-root. Anyhow, you'll study
her. Consider her for my sake. Madam, it should be--madam, call her,
addressing her, madam. She hasn't a taste for jokes, and she chastises
absurdities, and England's the foremost country of the globe, indirect
communication with heaven, and only to be connected with such a country
by the tail of it is a special distinction and a comfort for us; we're
that part of the kite!--but, Patrick, she's a charitable soul; she's a
virtuous woman and an affectionate wife, and doesn't frown to see me turn
off to my place of worship while she drum-majors it away to her own; she
entertains Father Boyle heartily, like the good woman she is to good men;
and unfortunate females too have a friend in her, a real friend--that
they have; and that 's a wonder in a woman chaste as ice. I do respect
her; and I'd like to see the man to favour me with an opportunity of
proving it on him! So you'll not forget, my boy; and prepare for a cold
bath the first five minutes. Out with Earlsfont early after that. All
these things are trifles to an unmarried man. I have to attend to 'm, I
have to be politic and give her elbow-room for her natural angles. 'Tis
the secret of my happiness.'
Priming his kinsman thus up to the door of the diningroom, Captain Con
thrust him in.
Mistress Adister O'Donnell's head rounded as by slow attraction to the
clock. Her disciplined husband signified an equal mixture of contrition
and astonishment at the passing of time. He fell to work upon his plate
in obedience to the immediate policy dictated to him.
The unbending English lady contrasted with her husband so signally
that the oddly united couple appeared yoked in a common harness for a
perpetual display of the opposition of the races. She resembled her
brother, the lord of Earlsfont, in her remarkable height and her calm air
of authority and self-sustainment. From beneath a head-dress built of
white curls and costly lace, half enclosing her high narrow forehead, a
pale, thin, straight bridge of nose descended prominently over her sunken
cheeks to thin locked lips. Her aspect suggested the repose of a winter
landscape, enjoyable in pictures, or on skates, otherwise nipping. . . .
Mental directness, of no greater breadth than her principal feature, was
the character it expressed; and candour of spirit shone through the
transparency she was, if that mild taper could be said to shine in proof
of a vitality rarely notified to the outer world by the opening of her
mouth; chiefly then, though not malevolently to command: as the portal of
some snow-bound monastery opens to the outcast, bidding it be known that
the light across the wolds was not deceptive and a glimmer of light
subsists among the silent within. The life sufficed to her. She was
like a marble effigy seated upright, requiring but to be laid at her
length for transport to the cover of the tomb.
Now Captain Con was by nature ruddy as an Indian summer flushed in all
its leaves. The corners of his face had everywhere a frank ambush, or
child's hiding-place, for languages and laughter. He could worm with a
smile quite his own the humour out of men possessing any; and even under
rigorous law, and it could not be disputed that there was rigour in the
beneficent laws imposed upon him by his wife, his genius for humour and
passion for sly independence came up and curled away like the smoke of
the illicit still, wherein the fanciful discern fine sprites indulging in
luxurious grimaces at a government long-nosed to no purpose. Perhaps, as
Patrick said of him to Caroline Adister, he was a bard without a theme.
He certainly was a man of speech, and the having fearfully to contain
himself for the greater number of the hours of the day, for the
preservation of the domestic felicity he had learnt to value, fathered
the sentiment of revolt in his bosom.
By this time, long after five minutes had elapsed, the frost presiding
at the table was fast withering Captain Con; and he was irritable to hear
why Patrick had gone off to Earlsfont, and what he had done there, and
the adventures he had tasted on the road; anything for warmth. His
efforts to fish the word out of Patrick produced deeper crevasses in the
conversation, and he cried to himself: Hats and crape-bands! mightily
struck by an idea that he and his cousins were a party of hired mourners
over the meat they consumed. Patrick was endeavouring to spare his
brother a mention of Earlsfont before they had private talk together.
He answered neither to a dip of the hook nor to a pull.
'The desert where you 've come from 's good,' said the captain, sharply
Mrs. Adister O'Donnell ejaculated: 'Wine!' for a heavy comment upon one
of his topics, and crushed it.
Philip saw that Patrick had no desire to spread, and did not trouble him.
'Good horses in the stable too,' said the captain.
Patrick addressed Mrs. Adister: 'I have hardly excused myself to you,
Her head was aloft in dumb apostrophe of wearifulness over another of her
'Do not excuse yourself at all,' she said.
The captain shivered. He overhauled his plotting soul publicly:
'Why don't you out with it yourself!' and it was wonderful why he had
not done so, save that he was prone to petty conspiracy, and had thought
reasonably that the revelation would be damp, gunpowder, coming from him.
And for when he added: 'The boy's fresh from Earlsfont; he went down to
look at the brav old house of the Adisters, and was nobly welcomed and
entertained, and made a vast impression,' his wife sedately remarked to
Patrick, 'You have seen my brother Edward.'
'And brings a message of his love to you, my dear,' the Captain bit his
'You have a message for me?' she asked; and Patrick replied: 'The captain
is giving a free translation. I was down there, and I took the liberty
of calling on Mr. Adister, and I had a very kind reception. We hunted,
we had a good day with the hounds. I think I remember hearing that you
go there at Christmas, madam.'
'Our last Christmas at Earlsfont was a sad meeting for the family. My
brother Edward is well?'
'I had the happiness to be told that I had been of a little service in
'I can believe it,' said Mrs. Adister, letting her eyes dwell on the
young man; and he was moved by the silvery tremulousness of her voice.
She resumed: 'You have the art of dressing in a surprisingly short time.'
'There!' exclaimed Captain Con: for no man can hear the words which prove
him a prophet without showing excitement. 'Didn't I say so? Patrick's a
hero for love or war, my dear. He stood neat and trim from the silk
socks to the sprig of necktie in six minutes by my watch. And that's
witness to me that you may count on him for what the great Napoleon
called two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage; not too common even in his
immortal army:--when it's pitch black and frosty cold, and you're buried
within in a dream of home, and the trumpet springs you to your legs in a
trice, boots and trowsers, coat and sword-belt and shako, and one twirl
to the whiskers, and away before a second snap of the fingers to where
the great big bursting end of all things for you lies crouching like a
Java-Tiger--a ferocious beast painted undertaker's colour--for a leap at
you in particular out of the dark;--never waiting an instant to ask
what's the matter and pretend you don't know. That's rare, Philip;
that's bravery; Napoleon knew the thing; and Patrick has it; my hand's
on the boy's back for that.'
The captain was permitted to discourse as he pleased: his wife was wholly
given to the recent visitor to Earlsfont, whom she informed that Caroline
was the youngest daughter of General Adister, her second brother, and an
excellent maiden, her dear Edward's mainstay in his grief. At last she
rose, and was escorted to the door by all present. But Captain Con
rather shame-facedly explained to Patrick that it was a sham departure;
they had to follow without a single spin to the claretjug: he closed the
door merely to state his position; how at half-past ten he would be a
free man, according to the convention, to which his wife honourably
adhered, so he had to do likewise, as regarded his share of it.
Thereupon he apologised to the brothers, bitterly regretting that, with
good wine in the cellar, his could be no house for claret; and promising
them they should sit in their shirts and stretch their legs, and toast
the old country and open their hearts, no later than the minute pointing
to the time for his deliverance.
Mrs. Adister accepted her husband's proffered arm unhesitatingly at the
appointed stroke of the clock. She said: 'Yes,' in agreement with him,
as if she had never heard him previously enunciate the formula, upon his
pious vociferation that there should be no trifling with her hours of
'You can find your way to my cabin,' he said to Philip over his shoulder,
full of solicitude for the steps of the admirable lady now positively
As soon as the brothers were alone, Philip laid his hand on Patrick,
asking him, 'What does it mean?'
Patrick fired his cannon-shot: 'She's married!' Consulting his feelings
immediately after, he hated himself for his bluntness.
Philip tossed his head. 'But why did you go down there?'
'I went,' said Patrick, 'well, I went . . . . I thought you looked
wretched, and I went with an idea of learning where she was, and seeing
if I couldn't do something. It's too late now; all's over.'
'My dear boy, I've worse than that to think of.'
'You don't mind it?'
'That's old news, Patrick.'
'You don't care for her any more, Philip?'
'You wouldn't have me caring for a married woman?'
'She has a perfect beast for a husband.'
'I'm sorry she didn't make a better choice.'
'He's a prince.'
'So I hear.'
'Ah! And what worse, Philip, can you be having to think of?'
'Affairs,' Philip replied, and made his way to the cabin of Captain Con,
followed in wonderment by Patrick, who would hardly have been his dupe to
suppose him indifferent and his love of Adiante dead, had not the thought
flashed on him a prospect of retaining the miniature for his own, or for
long in his custody.
THE CAPTAIN'S CABIN
Patrick left his brother at the second flight of stairs to run and fling
on a shooting-jacket, into which he stuffed his treasure, after one peep
that eclipsed his little dream of being allowed to keep it; and so he saw
The captain's cabin was the crown of his house-top, a builder's addition
to the roof, where the detestable deeds he revelled in, calling them
liberty, could be practised, according to the convention, and no one save
rosy Mary, in her sense of smell, when she came upon her morning business
to clean and sweep, be any the wiser of them, because, as it is known to
the whole world, smoke ascends, and he was up among the chimneys. Here,
he would say to his friends and fellow-sinners, you can unfold, unbosom,
explode, do all you like, except caper, and there 's a small square of
lead between the tiles outside for that, if the spirit of the jig comes
upon you with violence, as I have had it on me, and eased myself mightily
there, to my own music; and the capital of the British Empire below me.
Here we take our indemnity for subjection to the tyrannical female ear,
and talk like copious rivers meandering at their own sweet will. Here we
roll like dogs in carrion, and no one to sniff at our coats. Here we
sing treason, here we flout reason, night is out season at half-past ten.
This introductory ode to Freedom was his throwing off of steam, the
foretaste of what he contained. He rejoined his cousins, chirping
variations on it, and attired in a green silken suit of airy Ottoman
volume, full of incitement to the legs and arms to swing and set him
up for a Sultan. 'Now Phil, now Pat,' he cried, after tenderly pulling
the door to and making sure it was shut, 'any tale you've a mind for--
infamous and audacious! You're licensed by the gods up here, and may
laugh at them too, and their mothers and grandmothers, if the fit seizes
ye, and the heartier it is the greater the exemption. We're pots that
knock the lid and must pour out or boil over and destroy the furniture.
My praties are ready for peelin', if ever they were in this world! Chuck
wigs from sconces, and off with your buckram. Decency's a dirty
petticoat in the Garden of Innocence. Naked we stand, boys! we're not
afraid of nature. You're in the annexe of Erin, Pat, and devil a
constable at the keyhole; no rats; I'll say that for the Government,
though it's a despotism with an iron bridle on the tongue outside to a
foot of the door. Arctic to freeze the boldest bud of liberty! I'd
like a French chanson from ye, Pat, to put us in tune, with a right
revolutionary hurling chorus, that pitches Kings' heads into the basket
like autumn apples. Or one of your hymns in Gaelic sung ferociously to
sound as horrid to the Saxon, the wretch. His reign 's not for ever; he
can't enter here. You're in the stronghold defying him. And now cigars,
boys, pipes; there are the boxes, there are the bowls. I can't smoke
till I have done steaming. I'll sit awhile silently for the operation.
Christendom hasn't such a man as your cousin Con for feeling himself a
pig-possessed all the blessed day, acting the part of somebody else, till
it takes me a quarter of an hour of my enfranchisement and restoration of
my natural man to know myself again. For the moment, I'm froth, scum,
horrid boiling hissing dew of the agony of transformation; I am; I'm that
pig disgorging the spirit of wickedness from his poor stomach.'
The captain drooped to represent the state of the self-relieving victim
of the evil one; but fearful lest either of his cousins should usurp the
chair and thwart his chance of delivering himself, he rattled away
sympathetically with his posture in melancholy: 'Ay, we're poor
creatures; pigs and prophets, princes and people, victors and vanquished,
we 're waves of the sea, rolling over and over, and calling it life!
There's no life save the eternal. Father Boyle's got the truth. Flesh
is less than grass, my sons; 'tis the shadow that crosses the grass. I
love the grass. I could sit and watch grassblades for hours. I love an
old turf mound, where the grey grass nods and seems to know the wind and
have a whisper with it, of ancient times maybe and most like; about the
big chief lying underneath in the last must of his bones that a breath of
air would scatter. They just keep their skeleton shape as they are; for
the turf mound protects them from troubles: 'tis the nurse to that
delicate old infant!--Waves of the sea, did I say? We're wash in a hog-
trough for Father Saturn to devour; big chief and suckling babe, we all
go into it, calling it life! And what hope have we of reading the
mystery? All we can see is the straining of the old fellow's hams to
push his old snout deeper into the gobble, and the ridiculous curl of a
tail totally devoid of expression! You'll observe that gluttons have no
feature; they're jaws and hindquarters; which is the beginning and end of
'm; and so you may say to Time for his dealing with us: so let it be a
lesson to you not to bother your wits, but leave the puzzle to the
priest. He understands it, and why? because he was told. There 's
harmony in his elocution, and there's none in the modern drivel about
where we're going and what we came out of. No wonder they call it
an age of despair, when you see the big wigs filing up and down the
thoroughfares with a great advertisement board on their shoulders,
proclaiming no information to the multitude, but a blank note of
interrogation addressed to Providence, as if an answer from above would
be vouchsafed to their impudence! They haven't the first principles of
good manners. And some of 'm in a rage bawl the answer for themselves.
Hear that! No, Phil; No, Pat, no: devotion's good policy.--You're not
drinking! Are you both of ye asleep? why do ye leave me to drone away
like this, when it 's conversation I want, as in the days of our first
parents, before the fig-leaf?--and you might have that for scroll and
figure on the social banner of the hypocritical Saxon, who's a
gormandising animal behind his decency, and nearer to the Arch-devourer
Time than anything I can imagine: except that with a little exertion you
can elude him. The whisky you've got between you 's virgin of the
excise. I'll pay double for freepeaty any day. Or are you for claret,
my lads? No? I'm fortified up here to stand a siege in my old round
tower, like the son of Eremon that I am. Lavra Con! Con speaks at last!
I don't ask you, Pat, whether you remember Maen, who was born dumb, and
had for his tutors Ferkelne the bard and Crafting the harper, at pleasant
Dinree: he was grandson of Leary Lore who was basely murdered by his
brother Cova, and Cova spared the dumb boy, thinking a man without a
tongue harmless, as fools do: being one of their savings-bank tricks,
to be repaid them, their heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns
at compound interest, have no fear. So one day Maen had an insult put
on him; and 'twas this for certain: a ruffian fellow of the Court swore
he couldn't mention the name of his father; and in a thundering fury Maen
burst his tongue-tie, and the Court shouted Lavra Maen: and he had to go
into exile, where he married in the middle of delicious love-adventures
the beautiful Moira through the cunning of Craftine the harper. There's
been no harper in my instance but plenty of ruffians to swear I'm too
comfortable to think of my country.' The captain holloaed. 'Do they
hear that? Lord! but wouldn't our old Celtic fill the world with poetry
if only we were a free people to give our minds to 't, instead of to the
itch on our backs from the Saxon horsehair shirt we're forced to wear.
For, Pat, as you know, we're a loving people, we're a loyal people,
we burn to be enthusiastic, but when our skins are eternally irritated,
how can we sing? In a freer Erin I'd be the bard of the land, never
doubt it. What am I here but a discontented idle lout crooning over the
empty glories of our isle of Saints! You feel them, Pat. Phil's all for
his British army, his capabilities of British light cavalry. Write me
the history of the Enniskillens. I'll read it. Aha, my boy, when they
're off at the charge! And you'll oblige me with the tale of Fontenoy.
Why, Phil has an opportunity stretching forth a hand to him now more than
halfway that comes to a young Irishman but once in a century: backed by
the entire body of the priesthood of Ireland too! and if only he was a
quarter as full of the old country as you and I, his hair would stand up
in fire for the splendid gallop at our head that's proposed to him. His
country's gathered up like a crested billow to roll him into Parliament;
and I say, let him be there, he 's the very man to hurl his gauntlet, and
tell 'm, Parliament, so long as you are parliamentary, which means the
speaking of our minds, but if you won't have it, then-and it 's on your
heads before Europe and the two Americas. We're dying like a nun that 'd
be out of her cloister, we're panting like the wife who hears of her
husband coming home to her from the field of honour, for that young man.
And there he is; or there he seems to be; but he's dead: and the
fisherman off the west coast after dreaming of a magical haul, gets more
fish than disappointment in comparison with us when we cast the net for
Philip. Bring tears of vexation at the emptiness we pull back for our
pains. Oh, Phil! and to think of your youth! We had you then. At
least we had your heart. And we should have had the length and strength
of you, only for a woman fatal to us as the daughter of Rhys ap Tudor,
the beautiful Nesta:--and beautiful she was to match the mother of the
curses trooping over to Ireland under Strongbow, that I'll grant you.
But she reined you in when you were a real warhorse ramping and snorting
flame from your nostrils, challenging any other to a race for Ireland;
ay, a Cuchullin you were, Philip, Culann's chain-bound: but she unmanned
you. She soaked the woman into you and squeezed the hero out of you.
All for Adiante! or a country left to slavery! that's the tale. And what
are you now? A paltry captain of hussars on the General's staff! One
O'Donnell in a thousand! And what is she?--you needn't frown, Phil; I'm
her relative by marriage, and she 's a lady. More than that, she shot a
dart or two into my breast in those days, she did, I'll own it: I had the
catch of the breath that warns us of convulsions. She was the morning
star for beauty, between night and day, and the best colour of both.
Welshmen and Irishmen and Englishmen tumbled into the pit, which seeing
her was, and there we jostled for a glimpse quite companionably; we were
too hungry for quarrelling; and to say, I was one of 'm, is a title to
subsequent friendship. True; only mark me, Philip, and you, Patrick:
they say she has married a prince, and I say no; she's took to herself a
husband in her cradle; she's married ambition. I tell you, and this
prince of hers is only a step she has taken, and if he chases her first
mate from her bosom, he'll prove himself cleverer than she, and I dare
him to the trial. For she's that fiery dragon, a beautiful woman with
brains--which Helen of Troy hadn't, combustible as we know her to have
been: but brains are bombshells in comparison with your old-fashioned
pine-brands for kindling men and cities. Ambition's the husband of
Adiante Adister, and all who come nigh her are steps to her aim. She
never consulted her father about Prince Nikolas; she had begun her march
and she didn't mean to be arrested. She simply announced her approaching
union; and as she couldn't have a scion of one of the Royal House of
Europe, she put her foot on Prince Nikolas. And he 's not to fancy he 's
in for a peaceful existence; he's a stone in a sling, and probably
mistaken the rocking that's to launch him through the air for a condition
of remarkable ease, perfectly remarkable in its lullaby motion; ha!
well, and I've not heard of ambition that didn't kill its votary: somehow
it will; 'tis sure to. There she lies!'
The prophetic captain pointed at the spot. He then said: 'And now I'm
for my pipe, and the blackest clay of the party, with your permission.
I'll just go to the window to see if the stars are out overhead. They're
my blessed guardian angels.'
There was a pause. Philip broke from a brown study to glance at his
brother. Patrick made a queer face.
'Fun and good-fellowship to-night, Con,' said Philip, as the captain
sadly reported no star visible.
'Have I ever flown a signal to the contrary?' retorted the captain.
'No politics, and I 'll thank you,' said Philip: 'none of your early
recollections. Be jovial.'
'You should have seen me here the other night about a month ago; I
smuggled up an old countrywoman of ours, with the connivance of rosy
Mary,' said Captain Con, suffused in the merriest of grins. 'She sells
apples at a stall at a corner of a street hard by, and I saw her sitting
pulling at her old pipe in the cold October fog morning and evening for
comfort, and was overwhelmed with compassion and fraternal sentiment; and
so I invited her to be at the door of the house at half-past ten, just to
have a roll with her in Irish mud, and mend her torn soul with a stitch
or two of rejoicing. She told me stories; and one was pretty good, of a
relative of hers, or somebody's--I should say, a century old, but she
told it with a becoming air of appropriation that made it family history,
for she's come down in the world, and this fellow had a stain of red upon
him, and wanted cleaning; and, "What!" says the good father, "Mika! you
did it in cold blood?" And says Mika, "Not I, your Riverence. I got
myself into a passion 'fore I let loose." I believe she smoked this
identical pipe. She acknowledged the merits of my whisky, as poets do
hearing fine verses, never clapping hands, but with the expressiveness of
grave absorption. That's the way to make good things a part of you. She
was a treat. I got her out and off at midnight, rosy Mary sneaking her
down, and the old girl quiet as a mouse for the fun's sake. The whole
intrigue was exquisitely managed.'
'You run great risks,' Philip observed.
'I do,' said the captain.
He called on the brothers to admire the 'martial and fumial' decorations
of his round tower, buzzing over the display of implements, while Patrick
examined guns and Philip unsheathed swords. An ancient clay pipe from
the bed of the Thames and one from the bed of the Boyne were laid side by
side, and strange to relate, the Irish pipe and English immediately, by
the mere fact of their being proximate, entered into rivalry; they all
but leapt upon one another. The captain judicially decided the case
against the English pipe, as a newer pipe of grosser manufacture, not so
curious by any means.
'This,' Philip held up the reputed Irish pipe, and scanned as he twirled
it on his thumb, 'This was dropped in Boyne Water by one of William's
troopers. It is an Orange pipe. I take it to be of English make.'
'If I thought that, I'd stamp my heel on the humbug the neighbour
minute,' said Captain Con. 'Where's the sign of English marks?'
'The pipes resemble one another,' said Philip, 'like tails of Shannon-
'Maybe they 're both Irish, then?' the captain caught at analogy to
rescue his favourite from reproach.
'Both of them are Saxon.'
'Not a bit of it!'
'Look at the clay.'
'I look, and I tell you, Philip, it's of a piece with your lukewarmness
for the country, or you wouldn't talk like that.'
'There is no record of pipe manufactories in Ireland at the period you
'There is: and the jealousy of rulers caused them to be destroyed by
decrees, if you want historical evidence.'
'Your opposition to the Saxon would rob him of his pipe, Con!'
'Let him go to the deuce with as many pipes as he can carry; but he
shan't have this one.'
'Not a toss-up of difference is to be seen in the pair.'
'Use your eyes. The Irish bowl is broken, and the English has an inch
'O the Irish bowl is broken!' Philip sang.
'You've the heart of a renegade-foreigner not to see it!' cried the
Patrick intervened saying: 'I suspect they're Dutch.'
'Well, and that 's possible.' Captain Con scrutinised them to calm his
temper: 'there's a Dutchiness in the shape.'
He offered Philip the compromise of 'Dutch' rather plaintively, but it
was not accepted, and the pipes would have mingled their fragments on the
hearthstone if Patrick had not stayed his arm, saying: 'Don't hurt them.'
'And I won't,' the captain shook his hand gratefully.
'But will Philip O'Donnell tell me that Ireland should lie down with
England on the terms of a traveller obliged to take a bedfellow? Come!
He hasn't an answer. Put it to him, and you pose him. But he 'll not
stir, though he admits the antagonism. And Ireland is asked to lie down
with England on a couch blessed by the priest! Not she. Wipe out our
grievances, and then we'll begin to talk of policy. Good Lord!--love?
The love of Ireland for the conquering country will be the celebrated
ceremony in the concluding chapter previous to the inauguration of the
millennium. Thousands of us are in a starving state at home this winter,
Patrick. And it's not the fault of England?--landlordism 's not? Who
caused the ruin of all Ireland's industries? You might as well say that
it 's the fault of the poor beggar to go limping and hungry because his
cruel master struck him a blow to cripple him. We don't want half and
half doctoring, and it's too late in the day for half and half oratory.
We want freedom, and we'll have it, and we won't leave it to the Saxon to
think about giving it. And if your brother Philip won't accept this
blazing fine offer, then I will, and you'll behold me in a new attitude.
The fellow yawns! You don't know me yet, Philip. They tell us over here
we ought to be satisfied. Fall upon our list of wrongs, and they set to
work yawning. You can only move them by popping at them over hedges and
roaring on platforms. They're incapable of understanding a complaint a
yard beyond their noses. The Englishman has an island mind, and when
he's out of it he's at sea.'
'Mad, you mean,' said Philip.
'I repeat my words, Captain Philip O'Donnell, late of the staff of the
General commanding in Canada.'
'The Irishman too has an island mind, and when he's out of it he's at
sea, and unable to manage his craft,' said Philip.
'You'll find more craft in him when he's buffeted than you reckoned on,'
his cousin flung back. 'And if that isn't the speech of a traitor sold
to the enemy, and now throwing off the mask, traitors never did mischief
in Ireland! Why, what can you discover to admire in these people? Isn't
their army such a combination of colours in the uniforms, with their
yellow facings on red jackets, I never saw out of a doll-shop, and never
saw there. And their Horse Guards, weedy to a man! fit for a doll-shop
they are, by my faith! And their Foot Guards: Have ye met the fellows
marching? with their feet turned out, flat as my laundress's irons, and
the muscles of their calves depending on the joints to get 'm along, for
elasticity never gave those bones of theirs a springing touch; and their
bearskins heeling behind on their polls; like pot-house churls daring the
dursn't to come on. Of course they can fight. Who said no? But they
're not the only ones: and they 'll miss their ranks before they can
march like our Irish lads. The look of their men in line is for all the
world to us what lack-lustre is to the eye. The drill they 've had
hasn't driven Hodge out of them, it has only stiffened the dolt; and dolt
won't do any longer; the military machine requires intelligence in all
ranks now. Ay, the time for the Celt is dawning: I see it, and I don't
often spy a spark where there isn't soon a blaze. Solidity and stupidity
have had their innings: a precious long innings it has been; and now
they're shoved aside like clods of earth from the risin flower. Off with
our shackles! We've only to determine it to be free, and we'll bloom
again; and I'll be the first to speak the word and mount the colours.
Follow me! Will ye join in the toast to the emblem of Erin--
the shamrock, Phil and Pat?'
'Oh, certainly,' said Philip. 'What 's that row going on?' Patrick also
called attention to the singular noise in the room. 'I fancy the time
for the Celt is not dawning, but setting,' said Philip, with a sharp
smile; and Patrick wore an artful look.
A corner of the room was guilty of the incessant alarum. Captain Con
gazed in that direction incredulously and with remonstrance. 'The
tinkler it is!' he sighed. 'But it can't be midnight yet?' Watches were
examined. Time stood at half-past the midnight. He groaned: 'I must go.
I haven't heard the tinkler for months. It signifies she's cold in her
bed. The thing called circulation's unknown to her save by the aid of
outward application, and I 'm the warming pan, as legitimately I should
be, I'm her husband and her Harvey in one. Goodbye to my hop and skip.
I ought by rights to have been down beside her at midnight. She's the
worthiest woman alive, and I don't shirk my duty. Be quiet!' he bellowed
at the alarum; 'I 'm coming. Don't be in such a fright, my dear,' he
admonished it as his wife, politely. 'Your hand'll take an hour to warm
if you keep it out on the spring that sets the creature going.' He
turned and informed his company: 'Her hand'll take an hour to warm.
Dear! how she runs ahead: d' ye hear? That's the female tongue, and
once off it won't stop. And this contrivance for fetching me from my
tower to her bed was my own suggestion, in a fit of generosity! Ireland
all over! I must hurry and wash my hair, for she can't bear a perfume to
kill a stink; she carries her charitable heart that far. Good-night,
I'll be thinking of ye while I'm warming her. Sit still, I can't wait;
'tis the secret of my happiness.' He fled. Patrick struck his knee on
hearing the expected ballad-burden recur.
'Con has learnt one secret,' said Philip, quitting his chair.
Patrick went up to him, and, 'Give us a hug,' he said, and the hug was
They were of an equal height, tall young men, alert, nervously braced
from head to foot, with the differences between soldier and civilian
marked by the succintly military bearing of the elder brother, whose
movements were precise and prompt, and whose frame was leopardlike in
indolence. Beside him Patrick seemed cubbish, though beside another he
would not have appeared so. His features were not so brilliantly
regular, but were a fanciful sketch of the same design, showing a wider
pattern of the long square head and the forehead, a wavering at the dip
of the nose, livelier nostrils: the nostrils dilated and contracted, and
were exceeding alive. His eyelids had to do with the look of his eyes,
and were often seen cutting the ball. Philip's eyes were large on the
pent of his brows, open, liquid, and quick with the fire in him. Eyes of
that quality are the visible mind, animated both to speak it and to
render it what comes within their scope. They were full, unshaded
direct, the man himself, in action. Patrick's mouth had to be studied
for an additional index to the character. To symbolise them, they were
as a sword-blade lying beside book.
Men would have thought Patrick the slippery one of the two: women would
have inclined to confide in him the more thoroughly; they bring feeling
to the test, and do not so much read a print as read the imprinting on
themselves; and the report that a certain one of us is true as steel,
must be unanimous at a propitious hour to assure them completely that the
steel is not two-edged in the fully formed nature of a man whom they have
not tried. They are more at home with the unformed, which lends itself
to feeling and imagination. Besides Patrick came nearer to them; he
showed sensibility. They have it, and they deem it auspicious of
goodness, or of the gentleness acceptable as an equivalent. Not the less
was Philip the one to inspire the deeper and the wilder passion.
'So you've been down there?' said Philip. 'Tell us of your welcome.
Never mind why you went: I think I see. You're the Patrick of fourteen,
who tramped across Connaught for young Dermot to have a sight of you
before he died, poor lad. How did Mr. Adister receive you?'
Patrick described the first interview.
Philip mused over it. 'Yes, those are some of his ideas: gentlemen are
to excel in the knightly exercises. He used to fence excellently, and he
was a good horseman. The Jesuit seminary would have been hard for him to
swallow once. The house is a fine old house: lonely, I suppose.'
Patrick spoke of Caroline Adister and pursued his narrative. Philip was
lost in thought. At the conclusion, relating to South America, he raised
his head and said: 'Not so foolish as it struck you, Patrick. You and I
might do that,--without the design upon the original owner of the soil!
Irishmen are better out of Europe, unless they enter one of the
'What is it Con O'Donnell proposes to you?' Patrick asked him earnestly.
'To be a speaking trumpet in Parliament. And to put it first among the
objections, I haven't an independence; not above two hundred a year.'
'I'll make it a thousand,' said Patrick, 'that is, if my people can pay.'
'Secondly, I don't want to give up my profession. Thirdly, fourthly,
fifthly, once there, I should be boiling with the rest. I never could go
half way. This idea of a commencement gives me a view of the finish.
Would you care to try it?'
'If I'm no wiser after two or three years of the world I mean to make a
better acquaintance with,' Patrick replied. 'Over there at home one
catches the fever, you know. They have my feelings, and part of my
judgement, and whether that's the weaker part I can't at present decide.
My taste is for quiet farming and breeding.'
'Friendship, as far as possible; union, if the terms are fair,' said
Philip. 'It's only the name of union now; supposing it a concession that
is asked of them; say, sacrifice; it might be made for the sake of what
our people would do to strengthen the nation. But they won't try to
understand our people. Their laws, and their rules, their systems are
forced on a race of an opposite temper, who would get on well enough, and
thrive, if they were properly consulted. Ireland 's the sore place of
England, and I'm sorry for it. We ought to be a solid square, with
Europe in this pickle. So I say, sitting here. What should I be saying
'Is Con at all likely, do you think, Philip?'
'He might: and become the burlesque Irishman of the House. There must be
one, and the lot would be safe to fall on him.'
'Isn't he serious about it?'
'Quite, I fancy; and that will be the fun. A serious fellow talking
nonsense with lively illustrations, is just the man for House of Commons
clown. Your humorous rogue is not half so taking. Con would be the
porpoise in a fish tank there, inscrutably busy on his errand and watched
for his tumblings. Better I than he; and I should make a worse of it--at
least for myself.'
'Wouldn't the secret of his happiness interfere?'
'If he has the secret inside his common sense. The bulk of it I suspect
to be, that he enjoys his luxuries and is ashamed of his laziness; and so
the secret pulls both ways. One day a fit of pride may have him, or one
of his warm impulses, and if he's taken in the tide of it, I shall grieve
for the secret.'
'You like his wife, Philip?'
'I respect her. They came together,--I suppose, because they were near
together, like the two islands, in spite of the rolling waves between.
I would not willingly see the union disturbed. He warms her, and she
houses him. And he has to control the hot blood that does the warming,
and she to moderate the severity of her principles, which are an
essential part of the housing. Oh! shiver politics, Patrice. I wish
I had been bred in France: a couple of years with your Pere Clement, and
I could have met Irishmen and felt to them as an Irishman, whether they
were disaffected or not. I wish I did. When I landed the other day,
I thought myself passably cured, and could have said that rhetoric is the
fire-water of our country, and claptrap the springboard to send us diving
into it. I like my comrades-in-arms, I like the character of British
officers, and the men too--I get on well with them. I declare to you,
Patrice, I burn to live in brotherhood with them, not a rift of division
at heart! I never show them that there is one. But our early training
has us; it comes on us again; three or four days with Con have stirred
me; I don't let him see it, but they always do: these tales of
starvations and shootings, all the old work just as when I left,
act on me like a smell of powder. I was dipped in "Ireland for the
Irish"; and a contented Irishman scarcely seems my countryman.'
'I suppose it 's like what I hear of as digesting with difficulty,'
Patrick referred to the state described by his brother.
'And not the most agreeable of food,' Philip added.
'It would be the secret of our happiness to discover how to make the
best of it, if we had to pay penance for the discovery by living in
an Esquimaux shanty,' said Patrick.
'With a frozen fish of admirable principles for wife,' said Philip.
'Ah, you give me shudders!'
'And it's her guest who talks of her in that style! and I hope to be
thought a gentleman!' Philip pulled himself up. 'We may be all in the
wrong. The way to begin to think so, is to do them an injury and forget
it. The sensation's not unpleasant when it's other than a question of
good taste. But politics to bed, Patrice. My chief is right--soldiers
have nothing to do with them. What are you fiddling at in your coat
'Something for you, my dear Philip.' Patrick brought out the miniature.
He held it for his brother to look. 'It was the only thing I could get.
Mr. Adister sends it. The young lady, Miss Caroline, seconded me. They
think more of the big portrait: I don't. And it 's to be kept carefully,
in case of the other one getting damaged. That's only fair.'
Philip drank in the face upon a swift shot of his eyes.
'Mr. Adister sends it?' His tone implied wonder at such a change in
'And an invitation to you to visit him when you please.'
'That he might do,' said Philip: it was a lesser thing than to send her
likeness to him.
Patrick could not help dropping his voice: 'Isn't it very like?'
For answer the miniature had to be inspected closely.
Philip was a Spartan for keeping his feelings under.
'Yes,' he said, after an interval quick with fiery touches on the history
of that face and his life. 'Older, of course. They are the features,
of course. The likeness is not bad. I suppose it resembles her as she
is now, or was when it was painted. You 're an odd fellow to have asked
'I thought you would wish to have it, Philip.'
'You're a good boy, Patrice. Light those candles we'll go to bed. I
want a cool head for such brains as I have, and bumping the pillow all
night is not exactly wholesome. We'll cross the Channel in a few days,
and see the nest, and the mother, and the girls.'
'Not St. George's Channel. Mother would rather you would go to France
and visit the De Reuils. She and the girls hope you will keep out of
Ireland for a time: it's hot. Judge if they're anxious, when it's to
stop them from seeing you, Philip!'
'Good-night, dear boy.' Philip checked the departing Patrick. 'You can
leave that.' He made a sign for the miniature to be left on the table.
Patrick laid it there. His brother had not touched it, and he could have
defended himself for having forgotten to leave it, on the plea that it
might prevent his brother from having his proper share of sleep; and
also, that Philip had no great pleasure in the possession of it. The two
pleas, however, did not make one harmonious apology, and he went straight
to the door in an odd silence, with the step of a decorous office-clerk,
keeping his shoulders turned on Philip to conceal his look of
INTRODUCING A NEW CHARACTER
Letters and telegrams and morning journals lay on the breakfast-table,
awaiting the members of the household with combustible matter. Bad news
from Ireland came upon ominous news from India. Philip had ten words of
mandate from his commanding officer, and they signified action, uncertain
where. He was the soldier at once, buckled tight and buttoned up over
his private sentiments. Vienna shot a line to Mrs. Adister O'Donnell.
She communicated it:'The Princess Nikolas has a son!' Captain Con tossed
his newspaper to the floor, crying:
'To-day the city'll be a chimney on fire, with the blacks in everybody's
faces; but I must go down. It's hen and chicks with the director of a
City Company. I must go.'
Did you say, madam?' Patrick inquired. 'A son,' said Mrs. Adister.
'And the military holloaing for reinforcements,' exclaimed Con.
'That's what it comes to,' was Philip's answer. 'Precautionary measures,
'You can make them provocative.' 'Will you beg for India?' 'I shall hear
in an hour.' 'Have we got men?'
'Always the question with us.'
'What a country!' sighed the captain. 'I'd compose ye a song of old
Drowsylid, except that it does no good to be singing it at the only time
when you can show her the consequences of her sluggery. A country of
compromise goes to pieces at the first cannon-shot of the advance, and
while she's fighting on it's her poor business to be putting herself
together again: So she makes a mess of the beginning, to a certainty.
If it weren't that she had the army of Neptune about her--'
'The worst is she may some day start awake to discover that her protecting
deity 's been napping too.--A boy or girl did you say, my dear?'
His wife replied: 'A son.'
'Ah! more births.' The captain appeared to be computing. 'But this one's
out of England: and it's a prince I suppose they'll call him: and princes
don't count in the population for more than finishing touches, like the
crossing of t's and dotting of i's, though true they're the costliest,
like some flowers and feathers, and they add to the lump on Barney's
back. But who has any compassion for a burdened donkey? unless when you
see him standing immortal meek! Well, and a child of some sort must have
been expected? Because it's no miracle after marriage: worse luck for
the crowded earth!'
'Things may not be expected which are profoundly distasteful,' Mrs.
'True,' said her sympathetic husband. ''Tis like reading the list of the
dead after a battle where you've not had the best of it--each name 's a
startling new blow. I'd offer to run to Earlsfont, but here's my company
you would have me join for the directoring of it, you know, my dear, to
ballast me, as you pretty clearly hinted; and all 's in the city to-day
like a loaf with bad yeast, thick as lead, and sour to boot. And a howl
and growl coming off the wilds of Old Ireland! We're smitten to-day in
our hearts and our pockets, and it 's a question where we ought to feel
it most, for the sake of our families.'
'Do you not observe that your cousins are not eating?' said his wife,
adding, to Patrick: 'I entertain the opinion that a sound breakfast-
appetite testifies to the proper vigour of men.'
'Better than a doctor's pass: and to their habits likewise,' Captain Con
winked at his guests, begging them to steal ten minutes out of the fray
for the inward fortification of them.
Eggs in the shell, and masses of eggs, bacon delicately thin and curling
like Apollo's locks at his temples, and cutlets, caviar, anchovies in the
state of oil, were pressed with the captain's fervid illustrations upon
the brothers, both meditatively nibbling toast and indifferent to the
similes he drew and applied to life from the little fish which had their
sharpness corrected but not cancelled by the improved liquid they swam
in. 'Like an Irishman in clover,' he said to his wife to pay her a
compliment and coax an acknowledgement: 'just the flavour of the salt of
Her mind was on her brother Edward, and she could not look sweet-oily, as
her husband wooed her to do, with impulse to act the thing he was
'And there is to-morrow's dinner-party to the Mattocks: I cannot travel
to Earlsfont,' she said.
'Patrick is a disengaged young verderer, and knows the route, and has a
welcome face there, and he might go, if you're for having it performed by
word of mouth. But, trust me, my dear, bad news is best communicated by
telegraph, which gives us no stupid articles and particles to quarrel
with. "Boy born Vienna doctor smiling nurse laughing." That tells it
all, straight to the understanding, without any sickly circumlocutory
stuff; and there's nothing more offensive to us when we're hurt at
intelligence. For the same reason, Colonel Arthur couldn't go, since
you'll want him to meet the Mattocks?'
Captain Con's underlip shone with a roguish thinness.
'Arthur must be here,' said Mrs. Adister. 'I cannot bring myself to
write it. I disapprove of telegrams.'
She was asking to be assisted, so her husband said:
'Take Patrick for a secretary. Dictate. He has a bold free hand and'll
supply all the fiorituri and arabesques necessary to the occasion
She gazed at Patrick as if to intimate that he might be enlisted, and
said: 'It will be to Caroline. She will break it to her uncle.'
'Right, madam, on the part of a lady I 've never known to be wrong! And
so, my dear, I must take leave of you, to hurry down to the tormented
intestines of that poor racked city, where the winds of panic are
violently engaged in occupying the vacuum created by knocking over what
the disaster left standing; and it 'll much resemble a colliery accident
there, I suspect, and a rescue of dead bodies. Adieu, my dear.' He
pressed his lips on her thin fingers.
Patrick placed himself at Mrs. Adister's disposal as her secretary. She
nodded a gracious acceptance of him.
'I recommended the telegraph because it's my wife's own style, and comes
better from wires,' said the captain, as they were putting on their
overcoats in the hall. 'You must know the family. "Deeds not words"
would serve for their motto. She hates writing, and doesn't much love
talking. Pat 'll lengthen her sentences for her. She's fond of Adiante,
and she sympathises with her brother Edward made a grandfather through
the instrumentality of that foreign hooknose; and Patrick must turn the
two dagger sentiments to a sort of love-knot and there's the task he'll
have to work out in his letter to Miss Caroline. It's fun about Colonel
Arthur not going. He's to meet the burning Miss Mattock, who has gold on
her crown and a lot on her treasury, Phil, my boy! but I'm bound in
honour not to propose it. And a nice girl, a prize; afresh healthy girl;
and brains: the very girl! But she's jotted down for the Adisters, if
Colonel Arthur can look lower than his nose and wag his tongue a bit.
She's one to be a mother of stout ones that won't run up big doctors'
bills or ask assistance in growing. Her name's plain Jane, and she 's a
girl to breed conquerors; and the same you may say of her brother John,
who 's a mighty fit man, good at most things, though he counts his
fortune in millions, which I've heard is lighter for a beggar to perform
than in pounds, but he can count seven, and beat any of us easy by
showing them millions! We might do something for them at home with a
million or two, Phil. It all came from the wedding of a railway
contractor, who sprang from the wedding of a spade and a clod--and
probably called himself Mattock at his birth, no shame to him.'
'You're for the city,' said Philip, after they had walked down the
'Not I,' said Con. 'Let them play Vesuvius down there. I've got another
in me: and I can't stop their eruption, and they wouldn't relish mine.
I know a little of Dick Martin, who called on the people to resist, and
housed the man Liffey after his firing the shot, and I'm off to Peter
M'Christy, his brother-in-law. I'll see Distell too. I must know if it
signifies the trigger, or I'm agitated about nothing. Dr. Forbery'll be
able to tell how far they mean going for a patriotic song.
"For we march in ranks to the laurelled banks,
On the bright horizon shining,
Though the fields between run red on the green,
And many a wife goes pining."
Will you come, Phil?'
'I 'm under orders.'
'You won't engage yourself by coming.'
'I'm in for the pull if I join hands.'
'And why not?--inside the law, of course.'
'While your Barney skirmishes outside!'
'And when the poor fellow's cranium's cracking to fling his cap in the
air, and physician and politician are agreed it's good for him to do it,
or he'll go mad and be a dangerous lunatic! Phil, it must be a blow now
and then for these people over here, else there's no teaching their
imaginations you're in earnest; for they've got heads that open only to
hard raps, these English; and where injustice rules, and you'd spread a
light of justice, a certain lot of us must give up the ghost--naturally
on both sides. Law's law, and life's life, so long as you admit that the
law is bad; and in that case, it's big misery and chronic disease to let
it be and at worst a jump and tumble into the next world, of a score or
two of us if we have a wrestle with him. But shake the old villain; hang
on him and shake him. Bother his wig, if he calls himself Law. That 's
how we dust the corruption out of him for a bite or two in return. Such
is humanity, Phil: and you must allow for the roundabout way of moving to
get into the straight road at last. And I see what you're for saying: a
roundabout eye won't find it! You're wrong where there are dozens of
corners. Logic like yours, my boy, would have you go on picking at the
Gordian Knot till it became a jackasses' race between you and the rope
which was to fall to pieces last.--There 's my old girl at the stall,
poor soul! See her!'
Philip had signalled a cabman to stop. He stood facing his cousin with a
close-lipped smile that summarised his opinion and made it readable.
'I have no time for an introduction to her this morning,' he said.
'You won't drop in on Distell to hear the latest brewing? And, by the
by, Phil, tell us, could you give us a hint for packing five or six
hundred rifles and a couple of pieces of cannon?'
Philip stared; he bent a lowering frown on his cousin, with a twitch at
'Oh! easy!' Con answered the look; 'it's for another place and harder to
He was eyed suspiciously and he vowed the military weapons were for
another destination entirely, the opposite Pole.
'No, you wouldn't be in for a crazy villainy like that!' said Philip.
'No, nor wink to it,' said Con. 'But it's a question about packing
cannon and small arms; and you might be useful in dropping a hint or two.
The matter's innocent. It's not even a substitution of one form of
Government for another: only a change of despots, I suspect. And here's
Mr. John Mattock himself, who'll corroborate me, as far as we can let you
into the secret before we've consulted together. And he's an Englishman
and a member of Parliament, and a Liberal though a landlord, a thorough
stout Briton and bulldog for the national integrity, not likely to play
at arms and ammunition where his country's prosperity 's concerned.
How d' ye do, Mr. Mattock--and opportunely, since it's my cousin, Captain
Philip O'Donnell, aide-de-camp to Sir Charles, fresh from Canada, of whom
you've heard, I'd like to make you acquainted with, previous to your
meeting at my wife's table tomorrow evening.'
Philip bowed to a man whose notion of the ceremony was to nod.
Con took him two steps aside and did all the talking. Mr. Mattock
listened attentively the first half-minute, after which it could be
perceived that the orator was besieging a post, or in other words a
Saxon's mind made up on a point of common sense. His appearance was
redolently marine; his pilot coat, flying necktie and wideish trowsers,
a general airiness of style on a solid frame, spoke of the element his
blue eyes had dipped their fancy in, from hereditary inclination. The
colour of a sandpit was given him by hair and whiskers of yellow-red on
a ruddy face. No one could express a negative more emphatically without
wording it, though he neither frowned nor gesticulated to that effect.
'Ah!' said Con, abruptly coming to an end after an eloquent appeal.
'And I think I'm of your opinion: and the sea no longer dashes at the
rock, but makes itself a mirror to the same. She'll keep her money and
nurse her babe, and not be trying risky adventures to turn him into a
reigning prince. Only this: you'll have to persuade her the thing is
impossible. She'll not take it from any of us. She looks on you as
Wisdom in the uniform of a great commander, and if you say a thing can be
done it 's done.'
'The reverse too, I hope,' said Mr. Mattock, nodding and passing on his
'That I am not so sure of,' Con remarked to himself. 'There's a change
in a man through a change in his position! Six months or so back, Phil,
that man came from Vienna, the devoted slave of the Princess Nikolas.
He'd been there on his father's business about one of the Danube
railways, and he was ready to fill the place of the prince at the head
of his phantom body of horse and foot and elsewhere. We talked of his
selling her estates for the purchase of arms and the enemy--as many as
she had money for. We discussed it as a matter of business. She had
bewitched him: and would again, I don't doubt, if she were here to repeat
the dose. But in the interim his father dies, he inherits; and he enters
Parliament, and now, mind you, the man who solemnly calculated her
chances and speculates on the transmission of rifled arms of the best
manufacture and latest invention by his yacht and with his loads of
rails, under the noses of the authorities, like a master rebel, and a
chivalrous gentleman to boot, pooh poohs the whole affair. You saw him.
Grave as an owl, the dead contrary of his former self!'
'I thought I heard you approve him,' said Philip.
'And I do. But the poor girl has ordered her estates to be sold to cast
the die, and I 'm taking the view of her disappointment, for she believes
he can do anything; and if I know the witch, her sole comfort lying in
the straw is the prospect of a bloody venture for a throne. The truth
is, to my thinking, it's the only thing she has to help her to stomach
'But it's rank idiocy to suppose she can smuggle cannon!' cried Philip.
'But that man Mattock's not an idiot and he thought she could. And it 's
proof he was under a spell. She can work one.'
'The country hasn't a port.'
'Round the Euxine and up the Danube, with the British flag at the stern.
I could rather enjoy the adventure. And her prince is called for. He's
promised a good reception when he drops down the river, they say. A bit
of a scrimmage on the landing-pier may be, and the first field or two,
and then he sits himself, and he waits his turn. The people change their
sovereigns as rapidly as a London purse. Two pieces of artillery and two
or three hundred men and a trumpet alter the face of the land there.
Sometimes a trumpet blown by impudence does it alone. They're
enthusiastic for any new prince. He's their Weekly Journal or Monthly
Magazine. Let them make acquaintance with Adiante Adister, I'd not swear
she wouldn't lay fast hold of them.'
Philip signalled to his driver, and Captain Con sang out his dinner-hour
for a reminder to punctuality, thoughtful of the feelings of his wife.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A contented Irishman scarcely seems my countryman
A country of compromise goes to pieces at the first cannon-shot
A lady's company-smile
A superior position was offered her by her being silent
And it's one family where the dog is pulled by the collar
As if she had never heard him previously enunciate the formula
As secretive as they are sensitive
Be politic and give her elbow-room for her natural angles
Becoming air of appropriation that made it family history
Decency's a dirty petticoat in the Garden of Innocence
England's the foremost country of the globe
Enjoys his luxuries and is ashamed of his laziness
Fires in the grates went through the ceremony of warming nobody
Foist on you their idea of your idea at the moment
Grimaces at a government long-nosed to no purpose
He judged of others by himself
Hear victorious lawlessness appealing solemnly to God the law
Her aspect suggested the repose of a winter landscape
Here, where he both wished and wished not to be
I 'm the warming pan, as legitimately I should be
I detest enthusiasm
I never saw out of a doll-shop, and never saw there
Indirect communication with heaven
Ireland 's the sore place of England
Irishman there is a barrow trolling a load of grievances
Irony in him is only eulogy standing on its head
Lack of precise words admonished him of the virtue of silence
Married at forty, and I had to take her shaped as she was
Men must fight: the law is only a quieter field for them
Mika! you did it in cold blood?
No man can hear the words which prove him a prophet (quietly)
Not so much read a print as read the imprinting on themselves
Not to bother your wits, but leave the puzzle to the priest
Old houses are doomed to burnings
Our lawyers have us inside out, like our physicians
Philip was a Spartan for keeping his feelings under
Taste a wound from the lightest touch, and they nurse the venom
That fiery dragon, a beautiful woman with brains
The race is for domestic peace, my boy
We're all of us hit at last, and generally by our own weapon
We're smitten to-day in our hearts and our pockets
Welsh blood is queer blood
Where one won't and can't, poor t' other must
Winds of panic are violently engaged in occupying the vacuum
With a frozen fish of admirable principles for wife
Withdrew into the entrenchments of contempt
You'll tell her you couldn't sit down in her presence undressed
CELT AND SAXON
By GEORGE MEREDITH
XII. MISS MATTOCK
XIII. THE DINNER-PARTY
XIV. OF ROCKNEY
XV. THE MATTOCK FAMILY
XVI. OF THE GREAT MR. BULL AND THE CELTIC AND SAXON VIEW OF HIM:
AND SOMETHING OF RICHARD ROCKNEY
XVII. CROSSING THE RUBICON
XVIII. CAPTAIN CON'S LETTER
X1X. MARS CONVALESCENT
Mrs. Adister O'Donnell, in common with her family, had an extreme dislike
of the task of composing epistles, due to the circumstance that she was
unable, unaided, to conceive an idea disconnected with the main theme of
her communication, and regarded, as an art of conjuring, the use of words
independent of ideas. Her native superiority caused her to despise the
art, but the necessity for employing it at intervals subjected her to
fits of admiration of the conjurer, it being then evident that a
serviceable piece of work, beyond her capacity to do, was lightly
performed by another. The lady's practical intelligence admitted the
service, and at the same time her addiction to the practical provoked
disdain of so flimsy a genius, which was identified by her with the
genius of the Irish race. If Irishmen had not been notoriously fighters,
famous for their chivalry, she would have looked on them as a kind of
footmen hired to talk and write, whose volubility might be encouraged
and their affectionateness deserved by liberal wages. The promptitude
of Irish blood to deliver the war-cry either upon a glove flung down
or taken up, raised them to a first place in her esteem: and she was
a peaceful woman abhorring sanguinary contention; but it was in her
own blood to love such a disposition against her principles.
She led Patrick to her private room, where they both took seats and
he selected a pen. Mr. Patrick supposed that his business would be to
listen and put her words to paper; a mechanical occupation permitting the
indulgence of personal phantasies; and he was flying high on them until
the extraordinary delicacy of the mind seeking to deliver itself forced
him to prick up all his apprehensiveness. She wished to convey that she
was pleased with the news from Vienna, and desired her gratification to
be imparted to her niece Caroline, yet not so as to be opposed to the
peculiar feelings of her brother Edward, which had her fullest sympathy;
and yet Caroline must by no means be requested to alter a sentence
referring to Adiante, for that would commit her and the writer jointly to
'It must be the whole truth, madam,' said Patrick, and he wrote: 'My dear
Caroline,' to get the start. At once a magnificently clear course for
the complicated letter was distinguished by him. 'Can I write on and
read it to you afterward? I have the view,' he said.
Mrs. Adister waved to him to write on.
Patrick followed his 'My dear Caroline' with greetings very warm, founded
on a report of her flourishing good looks. The decision of Government to
send reinforcements to Ireland was mentioned as a prelude to the
information from Vienna of the birth of a son to the Princess Nikolas:
and then; having conjoined the two entirely heterogeneous pieces of
intelligence, the composer adroitly interfused them by a careless
transposition of the prelude and the burden that enabled him to play ad
libitum on regrets and rejoicings; by which device the lord of Earlsfont
might be offered condolences while the lady could express her strong
contentment, inasmuch as he deplored the state of affairs in the sister
island, and she was glad of a crisis concluding a term of suspense thus
the foreign-born baby was denounced and welcomed, the circumstances
lamented and the mother congratulated, in a breath, all under cover of
the happiest misunderstanding, as effective as the cabalism of Prospero's
wand among the Neapolitan mariners, by the skilful Irish development on a
grand scale of the rhetorical figure anastrophe, or a turning about and
He read it out to her, enjoying his composition and pleased with his
reconcilement of differences. 'So you say what you feel yourself, madam,
and allow for the feelings on the other side,' he remarked. 'Shall I
There was a smoothness in the letter particularly agreeable to her
troubled wits, but with an awful taste. She hesitated to assent: it
seemed like a drug that she was offered.
Patrick sketched a series of hooked noses on the blotter. He heard a
lady's name announced at the door, and glancing up from his work he
beheld a fiery vision.
Mrs. Adister addressed her affectionately: 'My dear Jane!' Patrick was
introduced to Miss Mattock.
His first impression was that the young lady could wrestle with him and
render it doubtful of his keeping his legs. He was next engaged in
imagining that she would certainly burn and be a light in the dark.
Afterwards he discovered her feelings to be delicate, her looks pleasant.
Thereupon came one of the most singular sensations he had ever known: he
felt that he was unable to see the way to please her. She confirmed it
by her remarks and manner of speaking. Apparently she was conducting a
'You're right, my dear Mrs. Adister, I'm on my way to the Laundry, and I
called to get Captain Con to drive there with me and worry the manageress
about the linen they turn out: for gentlemen are complaining of their
shirt-fronts, and if we get a bad name with them it will ruin us. Women
will listen to a man. I hear he has gone down to the city. I must go
and do it alone. Our accounts are flourishing, I'm glad to say, though
we cannot yet afford to pay for a secretary, and we want one. John and I
verified them last night. We're aiming at steam, you know. In three or
four years we may found a steam laundry on our accumulated capital. If
only we can establish it on a scale to let us give employment to at least
as many women as we have working now! That is what I want to hear of.
But if we wait for a great rival steam laundry to start ahead of us, we
shall be beaten and have to depend on the charitable sentiments of rich
people to support the Institution. And that won't do. So it's a serious
question with us to think of taking the initiative: for steam must come.
It 's a scandal every day that it doesn't while we have coal. I'm for
grand measures. At the same time we must not be imprudent: turning off
hands, even temporarily, that have to feed infants, would be quite
against my policy.'
Her age struck Patrick as being about twenty-three.
'Could my nephew Arthur be of any use to you?' said Mrs. Adister.
'Colonel Adister?' Miss Mattock shook her head. 'No.'
'Arthur can be very energetic when he takes up a thing.' 'Can he? But,
Mrs. Adister, you are looking a little troubled. Sometimes you confide
in me. You are so good to us with your subscriptions that I always feel
in your debt.'
Patrick glanced at his hostess for a signal to rise and depart.
She gave none, but at once unfolded her perplexity, and requested Miss
Mattock to peruse the composition of Mr. Patrick O'Donnell and deliver an
opinion upon it.
The young lady took the letter without noticing its author. She read it
through, handed it back, and sat with her opinion evidently formed
'What do you think of it?' she was asked.
'Rank jesuitry,' she replied.
'I feared so!' sighed Mrs. Adister. 'Yet it says everything I wish to
have said. It spares my brother and it does not belie me. The effect of
a letter is often most important. I cannot but consider this letter very
ingenious. But the moment I hear it is jesuitical I forswear it. But
then my dilemma remains. I cannot consent to give pain to my brother
Edward: nor will I speak an untruth, though it be to save him from a
wound. I am indeed troubled. Mr. Patrick, I cannot consent to despatch
a jesuitical letter. You are sure of your impression, my dear Jane?'
'Perfectly,' said Miss Mattock.
Patrick leaned to her. 'But if the idea in the mind of the person
supposed to be writing the letter is accurately expressed? Does it
matter, if we call it jesuitical, if the emotion at work behind it
happens to be a trifle so, according to your definition?'
She rejoined: 'I should say, distinctly it matters.'
'Then you'd not express the emotions at all?'
He flashed a comical look of astonishment as he spoke. She was not to be
diverted; she settled into antagonism.
'I should write what I felt.'
'But it might be like discharging a bullet.'
'If your writing in that way wounded the receiver.'
'Of course I should endeavour not to wound!'
'And there the bit of jesuitry begins. And it's innocent while it 's no
worse than an effort to do a disagreeable thing as delicately as you
She shrugged as delicately as she could:
'We cannot possibly please everybody in life.'
'No: only we may spare them a shock: mayn't we?'
'Sophistries of any description, I detest.'
'But sometimes you smile to please, don't you?'
'Do you detect falseness in that?' she answered, after the demurest of
'No: but isn't there a soupcon of sophistry in it?'
'I should say that it comes under the title of common civility.'
'And on occasion a little extra civility is permitted!'
'Perhaps: when we are not seeking a personal advantage.'
'On behalf of the Steam Laundry?'
Miss Mattock grew restless: she was too serious in defending her position
to submit to laugh, and his goodhumoured face forbade her taking offence.
'Well, perhaps, for that is in the interest of others.'
'In the interests of poor and helpless females. And I agree with you
with all my heart. But you would not be so considerate for the sore
feelings of a father hearing what he hates to hear as to write a
roundabout word to soften bad news to him?'
She sought refuge in the reply that nothing excused jesuitry.
'Except the necessities of civilisation,' said Patrick.
'Politeness is one thing,' she remarked pointedly.
'And domestic politeness is quite as needful as popular, you'll admit.
And what more have we done in the letter than to be guilty of that? And
people declare it's rarer: as if we were to be shut up in families to
tread on one another's corns! Dear me! and after a time we should be
having rank jesuitry advertised as the specific balsam for an unhappy
domesticated population treading with hard heels from desperate habit and
not the slightest intention to wound.'
'My dear Jane,' Mrs. Adister interposed while the young lady sat between
mildly staring and blinking, 'you have, though still of a tender age, so
excellent a head that I could trust to your counsel blindfolded. It is
really deep concern for my brother. I am also strongly in sympathy with
my niece, the princess, that beautiful Adiante: and my conscience
declines to let me say that I am not.'
'We might perhaps presume to beg for Miss Mattock's assistance in the
composition of a second letter more to her taste,' Patrick said slyly.
The effect was prompt: she sprang from her seat.
'Dear Mrs. Adister! I leave it to you. I am certain you and Mr.
O'Donnell know best. It's too difficult and delicate for me. I am
horribly blunt. Forgive me if I seemed to pretend to casuistry. I am
sure I had no such meaning. I said what I thought. I always do. I
never meant that it was not a very clever letter; and if it does exactly
what you require it should be satisfactory. To-morrow evening John and I
dine with you, and I look forward to plenty of controversy and amusement.
At present I have only a head for work.'
'I wish I had that,' said Patrick devoutly.
She dropped her eyes on him, but without letting him perceive that he was
a step nearer to the point of pleasing her.
Miss Mattock ventured on a prediction in her mind:
She was sure the letter would go. And there was not much to signify if
it did. But the curious fatality that a person of such a native
uprightness as Mrs. Adister should have been drawn in among Irishmen, set
her thoughts upon the composer of the letter, and upon the contrast of
his ingenuous look with the powerful cast of his head. She fancied a
certain danger about him; of what kind she could not quite distinguish,
for it had no reference to woman's heart, and he was too young to be much
of a politician, and he was not in the priesthood. His transparency was
of a totally different order from Captain Con's, which proclaimed itself
genuine by the inability to conceal a shoal of subterfuges. The younger
cousin's features carried a something invisible behind them, and she was
just perceptive enough to spy it, and it excited her suspicions.
Irishmen both she and her brother had to learn to like, owing to their
bad repute for stability: they are, moreover, Papists: they are not given
to ideas: that one of the working for the future has not struck them. In
fine, they are not solid, not law-supporting, not disposed to be (humbly
be it said) beneficent, like the good English. These were her views, and
as she held it a weakness to have to confess that Irishmen are socially
more fascinating than the good English, she was on her guard against
Of course the letter had gone. She heard of it before the commencement
of the dinner, after Mrs. Adister had introduced Captain Philip O'Donnell
to her, and while she was exchanging a word or two with Colonel Adister,
who stood ready to conduct her to the table. If he addressed any remarks
to the lady under his charge, Miss Mattock did not hear him; and she
listened--who shall say why? His unlike likeness to his brother had
struck her. Patrick opposite was flowing in speech. But Captain Philip
O'Donnell's taciturnity seemed no uncivil gloom: it wore nothing of that
look of being beneath the table, which some of our good English are
guilty of at their social festivities, or of towering aloof a Matterhorn
above it, in the style of Colonel Adister. Her discourse with the latter
amused her passing reflections. They started a subject, and he
punctuated her observations, or she his, and so they speedily ran to
'I think,' says she, 'you were in Egypt this time last winter.'
He supplies her with a comma: 'Rather later.'
Then he carries on the line. 'Dull enough, if you don't have the right
sort of travelling crew in your boat.'
'Naturally,' she puts her semicolon, ominous of the full stop.
'I fancy you have never been in Egypt?'
There it is; for the tone betrays no curiosity about Egypt and her Nile,
and he is led to suppose that she has a distaste for foreign places.
Condescending to attempt to please, which he has reason to wish to
succeed in doing, the task of pursuing conversational intercourse
devolves upon him
'I missed Parlatti last spring. What opinion have you formed of her?'
'I know her only by name at present.'
'Ah, I fancy you are indifferent to Opera.'
'Not at all; I enjoy it. I was as busy then as I am now.'
'Meetings? Dorcas, so forth.'
'Not Dorcas, I assure you. You might join if you would.'
'Your most obliged.'
A period perfectly rounded. At the same time Miss Mattock exchanged a
smile with her hostess, of whose benignant designs in handing her to the
entertaining officer she was not conscious. She felt bound to look happy
to gratify an excellent lady presiding over the duller half of a table of
eighteen. She turned slightly to Captain O'Donnell. He had committed
himself to speech at last, without tilting his shoulders to exclude the
company by devoting himself to his partner, and as he faced the table
Miss Mattock's inclination to listen attracted him. He cast his eyes on
her: a quiet look, neither languid nor frigid seeming to her both open
and uninviting. She had the oddest little shiver, due to she knew not
what. A scrutiny she could have borne, and she might have read a
signification; but the look of those mild clear eyes which appeared to
say nothing save that there was fire behind them, hit on some perplexity,
or created it; for she was aware of his unhappy passion for the beautiful
Miss Adister; the whole story had been poured into her ears; she had been
moved by it. Possibly she had expected the eyes of such a lover to
betray melancholy, and his power of containing the expression where the
sentiment is imagined to be most transparent may have surprised her,
thrilling her as melancholy orbs would not have done.
Captain Con could have thumped his platter with vexation. His wife's
diplomacy in giving the heiress to Colonel Adister for the evening had
received his cordial support while he manoeuvred cleverly to place Philip
on the other side of her; and now not a step did the senseless fellow
take, though she offered him his chance, dead sick of her man on the
right; not a word did he have in ordinary civility; he was a burning
disgrace to the chivalry of Erin. She would certainly be snapped up by a
man merely yawning to take the bite. And there's another opportunity
gone for the old country!--one's family to boot!
Those two were in the middle of the table, and it is beyond mortal,
beyond Irish, capacity, from one end of a table of eighteen to whip up
the whole body of them into a lively unanimous froth, like a dish of
cream fetched out of thickness to the airiest lightness. Politics, in
the form of a firebrand or apple of Discord, might knead them together
and cut them in batches, only he had pledged his word to his wife to shun
politics as the plague, considering Mr. Mattock's presence. And yet it
was tempting: the recent Irish news had stung him; he could say sharp
things from the heart, give neat thrusts; and they were fairly divided
and well matched. There was himself, a giant; and there was an
unrecognised bard of his country, no other than himself too; and there
was a profound politician, profoundly hidden at present, like powder in a
mine--the same person. And opposite to him was Mr. John Mattock, a
worthy antagonist, delightful to rouse, for he carried big guns and took
the noise of them for the shattering of the enemy, and this champion
could be pricked on to a point of assertion sure to fire the phlegm in
Philip; and then young Patrick might be trusted to warm to the work.
Three heroes out skirmishing on our side. Then it begins to grow hot,
and seeing them at it in earnest, Forbery glows and couches his gun, the
heaviest weight of the Irish light brigade. Gallant deeds! and now Mr.
Marbury Dyke opens on Forbery's flank to support Mattock hardpressed, and
this artillery of English Rockney resounds, with a similar object: the
ladies to look on and award the crown of victory, Saxon though they be,
excepting Rockney's wife, a sure deserter to the camp of the brave,
should fortune frown on them, for a punishment to Rockney for his
carrying off to himself a flower of the Green Island and holding
inveterate against her native land in his black ingratitude. Oh! but
eloquence upon a good cause will win you the hearts of all women, Saxon
or other, never doubt of it. And Jane Mattock there, imbibing forced
doses of Arthur Adister, will find her patriotism dissolving in the
natural human current; and she and Philip have a pretty wrangle, and like
one another none the worse for not agreeing: patriotically speaking,
she's really unrooted by that half-thawed colonel, a creature snow-bound
up to his chin; and already she's leaping to be transplanted. Jane is
one of the first to give her vote for the Irish party, in spite of her
love for her brother John: in common justice, she says, and because she
hopes for complete union between the two islands. And thereupon we
debate upon union. On the whole, yes: union, on the understanding that
we have justice, before you think of setting to work to sow the land with
affection:--and that 's a crop in a clear soil will spring up harvest-
thick in a single summer night across St. George's Channel, ladies!....
Indeed a goodly vision of strife and peace: but, politics forbidden, it
was entirely a dream, seeing that politics alone, and a vast amount of
blowing even on the topic of politics, will stir these English to enter
the arena and try a fall. You cannot, until you say ten times more than
you began by meaning, and have heated yourself to fancy you mean more
still, get them into any state of fluency at all. Forbery's anecdote now
and then serves its turn, but these English won't take it up as a start
for fresh pastures; they lend their ears and laugh a finale to it; you
see them dwelling on the relish, chewing the cud, by way of mental note
for their friends to-morrow, as if they were kettles come here merely for
boiling purposes, to make tea elsewhere, and putting a damper on the fire
that does the business for them. They laugh, but they laugh
extinguishingly, and not a bit to spread a general conflagration and
The case appeared hopeless to Captain Con, bearing an eye on Philip. He
surveyed his inanimate eights right and left, and folded his combative
ardour around him, as the soldier's martial cloak when he takes his rest
on the field. Mrs. Marbury Dyke, the lady under his wing, honoured wife
of the chairman of his imagined that a sigh escaped him, and said in
sympathy: 'Is the bad news from India confirmed?'
He feared it was not bright, and called to Philip for the latest.
'Nothing that you have not had already in the newspapers,' Philip
replied, distinctly from afar, but very bluntly, as through a trumpet.
Miss Mattock was attentive. She had a look as good as handsome when she
The captain persevered to draw his cousin out.
'Your chief has his orders?'
'There's a rumour to that effect.'
'The fellow's training for diplomacy,' Con groaned.
Philip spoke to Miss Mattock: he was questioned and he answered, and
answered dead as a newspaper telegraphic paragraph, presenting simply the
corpse of the fact, and there an end. He was a rival of Arthur Adister
for military brevity.
'Your nephew is quite the diplomatist,' said Mrs. Dyke, admiring Philip's
'Cousin, ma'am. Nephews I might drive to any market to make the most of
them. Cousins pretend they're better than pigs, and diverge bounding
from the road at the hint of the stick. You can't get them to grunt more
than is exactly agreeable to them.'
'My belief is that if our cause is just our flag will triumph,' Miss
Grace Barrow, Jane Mattock's fellow-worker and particular friend,
observed to Dr. Forbery.
'You may be enjoying an original blessing that we in Ireland missed in
the cradle,' said he.
She emphasised: 'I speak of the just cause; it must succeed.'
'The stainless flag'll be in the ascendant in the long run,' he assented.
'Is it the flag of Great Britain you're speaking of, Forbery?' the
'There's a harp or two in it,' he responded pacifically.
Mrs. Dyke was not pleased with the tone. 'And never will be out of it!'
she thumped her interjection.
'Or where 's your music?' said the captain, twinkling for an adversary
among the males, too distant or too dull to distinguish a note of
challenge. 'You'd be having to mount your drum and fife in their places,
She saw no fear of the necessity.
'But the fife's a pretty instrument,' he suggested, and with a candour
that seduced the unwary lady to think dubiously whether she quite liked
the fife. Miss Barrow pronounced it cheerful.
'Oh, and martial!' he exclaimed, happy to have caught Rockney's
deliberate gaze. 'The effect of it, I'm told in the provinces is
astonishing for promoting enlistment. Hear it any morning in your London
parks, at the head of a marching regiment of your giant foot-Guards.
Three bangs of the drum, like the famous mountain, and the fife announces
himself to be born, and they follow him, left leg and right leg and
bearskin. And what if he's a small one and a trifle squeaky; so 's a
prince when the attendant dignitaries receive him submissively and hear
him informing the nation of his advent. It 's the idea that 's grand.'
'The idea is everything in military affairs,' a solemn dupe, a Mr.
Rumford, partly bald, of benevolent aspect, and looking more copious than
his flow, observed to the lady beside him. 'The flag is only an idea.'
She protested against the barbarism of war, and he agreed with her,
but thought it must be: it had always been: he deplored the fatality.
Nevertheless, he esteemed our soldiers, our sailors too. A city man
himself and a man of peace, he cordially esteemed and hailed the
victories of a military body whose idea was Duty instead of Ambition.
'One thing,' said Mrs. Dyke, evading the ambiguous fife, 'patriotic as I
am, I hope, one thing I confess; I never have yet brought myself to
venerate thoroughly our Royal Standard. I dare say it is because I do
not understand it.'
A strong fraternal impulse moved Mr. Rumford to lean forward and show her
the face of one who had long been harassed by the same incapacity to
digest that one thing. He guessed it at once, without a doubt of the
accuracy of the shot. Ever since he was a child the difficulty had
haunted him; and as no one hitherto had even comprehended his dilemma,
he beamed like a man preparing to embrace a recovered sister.
'The Unicorn!' he exclaimed.
'It is the Unicorn!' she sighed. 'The Lion is noble.'
'The Unicorn, if I may speak by my own feelings, certainly does not
inspire attachment, that is to say, the sense of devotion, which we
should always be led to see in national symbols,' Mr. Rumford resumed,
and he looked humorously rueful while speaking with some earnestness;
to show that he knew the subject to be of the minor sort, though it was
not enough to trip and jar a loyal enthusiasm in the strictly meditative.
'The Saxon should carry his White Horse, I suppose,' Dr. Forbery said.
'But how do we account for the horn on his forehead?' Mr. Rumford sadly
'Two would have been better for the harmony of the Unicorn's appearance,'
Captain Con remarked, desirous to play a floundering fish, and tender to
the known simple goodness of the ingenuous man. 'What do you say,
Forbery? The poor brute had a fall on his pate and his horn grew of it,
and it 's to prove that he has got something in his head, and is
dangerous both fore and aft, which is not the case with other horses,
who're usually wicked at the heels alone. That's it, be sure, or near
it. And his horn's there to file the subject nation's grievances for the
Lion to peruse at his leisure. And his colour's prophetic of the Horse
to come, that rides over all.'
'Lion and Unicorn signify the conquest of the two hemispheres, Matter and
Mind,' said Dr. Forbery. 'The Lion there's no mistake about. The
Unicorn sets you thinking. So it's a splendid Standard, and means the
more for not being perfectly intelligible at a glance.'
'But if the Lion, as they've whispered of late, Forbery, happens to be
stuffed with straw or with what's worse, with sawdust, a fellow bearing a
pointed horn at close quarters might do him mortal harm; and it must be a
situation trying to the patience of them both. The Lion seems to say "No
prancing!" as if he knew his peril; and the Unicorn to threaten a
playful dig at his flank, as if he understood where he's ticklish.'
Mr. Rumford drank some champagne and murmured with a shrug to the
acquiescent lady beside him: 'Irishmen!' implying that the race could not
be brought to treat serious themes as befitted the seriousness of the
sentiments they stir in their bosoms. He was personally a little hurt,
having unfolded a shy secret of his feelings, which were keenly patriotic
in a phlegmatic frame, and he retired within himself, assuring the lady
that he accepted our standard in its integrity; his objection was not
really an objection; it was, he explained to her, a ridiculous desire to
have a perfect comprehension of the idea in the symbol. But where there
was no seriousness everything was made absurd. He could, he said, laugh
as well as others on the proper occasion. As for the Lion being stuffed,
he warned England's enemies for their own sakes not to be deluded by any
such patent calumny. The strong can afford to be magnanimous and
forbearing. Only let not that be mistaken for weakness. A wag of his
tail would suffice.
The lady agreed. But women are volatile. She was the next moment
laughing at something she had heard with the largest part of her ear,
and she thought the worthy gentleman too simple, though she knew him for
one who had amassed wealth. Captain Con and Dr. Forbery had driven the
Unicorn to shelter, and were now baiting the Lion. The tremendous import
of that wag of his tail among the nations was burlesqued by them, and it
came into collision with Mr. Rumford's legendary forefinger threat. She
excused herself for laughing:
'They are so preposterous!'
'Yes, yes, I can laugh,' said he, soberly performing the act: and Mr.
Rumford covered the wound his delicate sensations had experienced under
an apology for Captain Con, that would redound to the credit of his
artfulness were it not notorious our sensations are the creatures and
born doctors of art in discovering unguents for healing their bruises.
'O'Donnell has a shrewd head for business. He is sound at heart. There
is not a drop of gout in his wine.'
The lady laughed again, as we do when we are fairly swung by the tide,
and underneath her convulsion she quietly mused on the preference she
would give to the simple English citizen for soundness.
'What can they be discussing down there?' Miss Mattock said to Philip,
enviously as poor Londoners in November when they receive letters from
the sapphire Riviera.
'I will venture to guess at nonsense,' he answered.
'Nothing political, then.'
'That scarcely follows; but a host at his own table may be trusted to
'I should not object.'
'One would go a long way to see the exhibition.'
'But why cannot men be temperate in their political arguments?'
'The questions raised are too close about the roots of us.'
'That sounds very pessimist.'
'More duels come from politics than from any other source.'
'I fear it is true. Then women might set you an example.'
'By avoiding it?'
'I think you have been out of England for some time.'
'I have been in America.'
'We are not exactly on the pattern of the Americans.' Philip hinted a
bow. He praised the Republican people.
'Yes, but in our own way we are working out our own problems over here,'
said she. 'We have infinitely more to contend with: old institutions,
monstrous prejudices, and a slower-minded people, I dare say: much
slower, I admit. We are not shining to advantage at present. Still,
that is not the fault of English women.'
'Are they so spirited?'
Spirited was hardly the word Miss Mattock would have chosen to designate
the spirit in them. She hummed a second or two, deliberating; it flashed
through her during the pause that he had been guilty of irony, and she
reddened: and remembering a foregoing strange sensation she reddened
more. She had been in her girlhood a martyr to this malady of youth; it